No celebrating? No problem.

Nick and I stopped “doing” Valentine’s Day years ago. Actually, I’m not sure that we ever “did” it (although I do give him Valentine’s Day-themed boxers every year; I’m romantic like that) because Nick has always maintained that it’s a silly holiday drummed up to make money and “you should show someone you love them all the other days of the year, not just Valentine’s Day.”

Okay. I get his point. I mean, I was all girl-silent angry over it for a few years (“No, really, it’s FINE… Yes, I’m sure… Wait, you didn’t get me anything? WTF?”) but I’ve gotten over it. Really. For one thing, it’s been twenty years (OMG), so I’m either holding the world’s most fabulous grudge, or I’ve moved beyond. Also, once we had children, I had other ways to channel my Valentine’s Day energies.

(And, to be fair, Nick really does do a pretty good job of holding up to his end of the bargain. The girls get little tokens from every business trip he takes, and flowers will magically show up at the door if I’m having a bad day. He routinely buys stuff for us “just because” [occasionally to my chagrin – *cough* $40 Swatch watches five days after Christmas *cough*] and takes each of the girls out regularly for special Daddy-daughter dates. Our own dates are pretty good, too. So, he really does walk the walk.)

It’s not Valentine’s Day itself that is such a big deal; it’s any excuse to celebrate. I am all about taking anything and turning it into something more than just ordinary, not for any greater purpose (and certainly not to achieve some sort of goal or be Super Mom; if you’ve seen the coating of dust on all of the furniture, the Karo syrup that spilled in the cupboard at least two months ago but I was too lazy to clean so now it’s hardened into a half-inch layer of shellac, the boots my daughter wore to school this week that were DUCT TAPED together, or the rug in our living room that is literally threadbare, you know that I’m not Super at all that much). No, I simply do it because it’s fun. FUN!!

First day of school? Par-tay! Last day of school? Fiesta! St. Patrick’s Day? Let’s do a leprechaun-themed treasure hunt! Mardi Gras? Time to make beignets! April Fool’s Day? Better watch your step. Cinco de Mayo? Bring on the Mexican food! If I could think of a way to make Arbor Day more fun, you can damn well believe I would.

Life is just too freakin’ short not to find moments to celebrate, to break up the everyday activities, to be silly and make something special.

So I’m not at all upset that Nick and I don’t “do” Valentine’s Day… because I get to do these instead:

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The hearts are hung up after the girls have gone to sleep on the 13th, so it’s all VALENTINE’S WORLD when they wake up.

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Nick gets tired of bumping into these pretty much the moment that I hang them, but I think they’re fun. I don’t mind not getting chocolates so long as I can hang shit from the door frames – fair compromise, no?

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Lunch. With hearts. And lots of red food.

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No, the photo isn’t discolored; the pancakes are pink.
And I made them last night and then nuked them this morning. I don’t have that kind of time before work, people. 

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But I do have time for this, because it took maaaaybe three minutes. 
Such is life when you spent two years addicted to hair blogs.

What I did not have to do this year were the girls’ valentines. (Grammar tidbit of the day: it only has an apostrophe when it’s Valentine’s Day, as in the day belonging to St. Valentine. And it’s only capitalized when it’s a proper noun; the cards the kids bring home from school in droves are simply valentines. Just learned that last night myself; you’re welcome.) For the past several years, Ella and Annie have elected to send their classmates photo cards, meaning that I take photos of them, design the cards in Photoshop, print ’em out, and get ’em ready for the girls to sign.

2013
annie valentine card1
A mini Snickers was taped to her hands…

ella valentine card1
 She gave these along with Pop Rocks…

2012
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Yup. Taped a Hershey’s Kiss to her hand.

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Ella wrote her classmate’s names on the hearts.
Never mind that she looks naked.

2011
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Looks like I’ve had a thing for those decorative hearts fonts for a loooong time…

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I had to literally throw them into the center of the heart in order not to trample it, but whatever. It was done in the name of the art, man.

But this year? They wanted to do it ALL. And so, despite practically having to tie my hands down to keep from interfering, I let them… from Photoshopping their cards to cutting them out to attaching (and, in Ella’s case, making) the various accoutrements to stuffing them in their classmates’ bags.
Are they just how I’d have designed them? Nope.

They’re better.

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Her Photoshopped card…

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The final product that made its way into her friends’ valentine bags.

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That’s still only some of the Rainbow Loom stuff she has lying around…

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 The actual finished cards, front and back.

Tonight, we’ll have a dinner that we *love* (get it? SO CLEVER) and either watch the Olympics or Despicable Me 2 (the only real gift I’m giving to the girls) and even though it won’t be romantic, it will be filled with fun and joy and love.

And chocolate. We have chocolate cupcakes. Don’t worry.

Flashback Friday: I can’t resist including this photo taken for Annie’s first Valentine’s Day, where I didn’t realize until after I’d uploaded it that Ella’s pigtail makes it look like Annie’s wearing a bodacious wig.
SO. AWESOME.

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p.s. You can bet your butt I’m putting this on my Pinterest page. I can’t begin to come up with any of these ideas on my own, so if this helps anyone else not to have to reinvent the wheel, let’s do it. I’m a giver.

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Guess I should’ve just walked to the mailbox

Before Ella was born, and despite the bazillions of books on babies that I’d read, I felt really alone and clueless. Enter the December 2004 message board on one of the popular All About Baby websites (specifically established for moms, like me, of babies born in that month – I thought I’d state the obvious for you).

Even though I wasn’t (and am still not) a message board person, I soon became a regular poster there. Because I didn’t personally know any other moms with December ’04 babies (and I didn’t want to be phoning my pediatrician every twenty minutes), the women there became my sounding board, my reference library, my dear friends, and my lifeline. They were able to answer my every question – Is your baby’s hair totally businessing in the front and partying in the back, but also with a bald spot? How do you put your baby down for a nap without having to dance a two-step? What flavor Gerber Puffs do you prefer (yes, I assume you’ve eaten them… and tried the formula. And probably the breast milk)? Amazingly, they were genuinely interested in the minute details of babydom that even Nick tired of quickly. She reached for an object today! She is droolier than usual! I can snap a onesie using only one hand!

We shared everything with one another… and I do mean everything. I can tell you more about these ladies’ living room furniture, bra sizes, and candy preferences (Reese’s versus Hot Tamales is a very real rivalry) than I can about many of the women I know “in real life.” Nine years and countless birthdays, weddings, separations, deaths, and the birth of many other children later, I consider approximately twenty of these ladies to be extremely close friends – but now we talk to one another on Facebook.

Last week, one of these Dec04 mamas asked if anyone was interested in exchanging valentines – just one, not to the whole group, like a Secret Santa except Secret Cupid (and except it wasn’t a secret). It sounded like fun so I agreed – certainly Ella and Annie could put together a valentine and I could pop it in the mail; all we had to do was get an envelope in the mail on Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

Naturally, as Monday night rolled around, I realized that I’d completely forgotten about said valentine… and if I wanted the girls to actually contribute (which I did), they’d have to do their part after school on Tuesday, meaning our envelope wouldn’t get into the mail until Wednesday.

I am such a good friend!!

After the girls finished their contributions, including several Rainbow Loom bracelets, I decided that a plain envelope wouldn’t do – I’d need to use something larger. I also decided that this called for Priority mailing, which promised a Valentine’s Day delivery; score! I printed out the postage at home and sealed everything up. All I had to do was put the package in the mailbox yesterday morning.

It seemed chilly yesterday when I loaded up my bags to head to school, but I didn’t think too much of it; this winter has been so bizarrely cold, it’s all starting to blend together. I let the car warm up a bit, and then, after backing down the driveway, I rolled down my window to put the package in the mailbox… but when I attempted to roll the window back up again, it wouldn’t budge.

Frozen. Solid.
And frozen open.

As the cold began to seep inside, I glanced at the dashboard and noticed the temperature: five below.

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The car is in Drive but I was stopped, promise.

There was nothing I could do about it – I had to get to work, like, now. I couldn’t warm the car up anywhere. I couldn’t trade cars with Nick. I just had to go. OH GOODIE. And so I did, window down, heat blasting, looking like an absolute moron with my window all the way open when it was five degrees below zero.

Now, you might wonder why the car was parked outside to begin with, given that we have a lovely two-car garage… And that is because, over the weekend, the cable on my garage door broke, sending the door crashing to the ground and rendering it unusable – so I couldn’t park my car inside and had to leave it on the driveway instead.

Yes, I see the irony in the fact that my window was stuck open because the garage door was stuck closed.

Thankfully, I had loads of cold-weather gear in the car, so I was able to don a hat, scarf, and gloves to protect me against the gale that was rushing in through the wide-open window. If it was five below without the windchill, do you know how cold it was with forty mph gusts blasting into the car? EFFING FREEZING, LET ME TELL YOU. Even with the heat pouring in at its highest temperature, it was like standing outside in a snowless blizzard while trying to use the hairdryer.

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Don’t mind me… just admiring the view… La la laaaaa….

Thinking that, eventually, the full-blast heat would melt the frozenness of the door and the window would unstick and roll up again, I kept one hand on the wheel and one firmly on the window’s up button (I had to keep trading hands because the one at the window risked frostbite after about twenty seconds). I also thought that perhaps I could somehow rattle the window out of its frozen grasp, so at every stop sign or light I would pound furiously on the door and then open and close it as firmly as I could.

Yep. Opening the door at a stop sign. And pounding on it. WITH THE WINDOW OPEN IN NEGATIVE FIVE DEGREE WEATHER. I’m sure that didn’t look weird at all to the drivers in the cars behind me.

After a few minutes, the window did start to move… approximately one inch. And that is how it sat for the remainder of my drive to work.

stuck window
Hello, sir. Why, yes, my window is open on this chilly February morning. How are you today?

By the time I arrived, my hands and feet were so cold, I had to pry them open in order to gather my belongings and hobble into the building. There was no way I could operate the remote lock on my key fob without removing my gloves – which was not going to happen – but hey! It didn’t matter anyway, because THE WINDOW WAS WIDE OPEN. See anything you like? Then come on over! Help yourselves! Just don’t try to crawl in and warm yourself up because I can promise you it is NOT WARM inside the car.

I’d worried that I’d have to engage in some crazy mechanics to get the window operating again, but miraculously, after it sat in the sun for four hours (and the ambient temperature warmed up to a balmy 17 degrees), it unfroze and just rolled right back up, almost like it was mocking me. Oh – were you cold this morning? PSYCH!

The important thing is that I got the valentine in the mail. Sure, if I’d remembered sooner, none of this might have happened… but then I wouldn’t have this endearing story to share, would I? And I also wouldn’t be me. So, there’s that.

As always, we Dec04 mamas pull through for one another, even if it means freezing to death on our way to work. It’s all good, though; I know they’d do the same for me.