|Now that I'm Catholic, I can share the whole story with my children:)|
I'm not sure why Mama made a big deal out of Valentine's Day for me. In elementary school, she and I would make sugar cookies the night before. During my senior year of high school, I worked in the child development lab of our Home Economics department. It was a working preschool for children of teachers and others in the community. Mama felt like she knew each child from the stories I brought home. She and I decided to make special cookie stacks for each child on Valentine's Day. They were a huge hit and I like to make them for my children, too. Sometimes we share them with friends and neighbors, but this year, I did well just to make them for us. The recipe and instructions are here.
I love the simple sweetness of Valentine's Day in the elementary years. I have fond memories of addressing my valentines the night before and of class parties with red punch, sugar cookies, and obscene amounts of candy. In fourth grade, we had a mailbox contest and I decorated a beautiful shoebox. We also had a poetry contest, which I won. I loved Valentine's Day when I taught elementary school, but how I dreaded that day when I taught middle school. So many arguments, tears, and hurt feelings! It really can turn into the tackiest day of the year as any walk through the floral department of your local supermarket (especially in a college town) on February 14 will prove. So, I am savoring these sweet years and doing what I can to have our own fun at home.
I had the kitchen table ready for making valentines when the girls came home from school. Dollar stores and after-holiday clearance helped me do these on the cheap.
Clare's valentines were little plastic frog jumper toys. I wrote the tags and she placed the stickers and signed her name. We did our part to add a non-candy dimension to the class party.
Emmeline's valentines included a notepad and pencil. She wrote the tags: "Take Note: I'm wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day!" Again, a non-candy option!
They each made good 'ol construction paper cards for their teachers. The cute banner was only $1 at King Dollar! I have one for St. Patrick's Day and Easter, too.
|Sweet little brother looking on|
I went to Wal-Mart to buy Granny Smith apples so I could make mini pies for the girls' teachers with a note attached: "You are the Apple of My Pie!" I walked in through the garden center and found these little pots of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils for only 98 cents each. Good-bye, pie-baking. Hello, plants!
I wrapped the pots in brown craft paper (only a $1 a roll at Dollar Tree!), tied them with pretty ribbon and attached felt heart tags to each one.
I'm a big fan of brown craft paper (and brown craft paper bags) for gifts. You can use it for any occasion, for any person. I buy ribbon on sale during the year, so I have it on hand to dress up gift bags and packages. To make pretty bows, the key is wired ribbon. Below is a birthday package I recently gave a friend. Both ribbons were left over from rolls I used to decorate the table at Emmeline's First Communion party. The sprigs were season-end clearance sprays from a craft store. I separated the stems, put them end to end and wrapped them with tape at the middle. Then, I slid them under the bow for a pretty accent.
The gift tags on the teachers' plants were Christmas ornaments I bought on sale for at least 75% off; I think they were probably cheaper than that. I bought them for Valentine's Day.
The girls, with sun in their eyes, loaded with their Valentine's goodies, and ready to go to school:
The after-school picture, so I could see their cute heart shirts:
Presents waiting for them when they came home, but they had to wait for Daddy to get home so he could watch them open up their bags:
I have made my children homemade chocolate mousse, cannoli, etc., etc., but what made me their hero? I made Jello jigglers for the first time! They had those and heart-shaped rice krispy treats and then a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's for supper:
My pretty gift for Valentine's Day. I prefer a plant to cut flowers most of the time. I told Joey not to get anything (and I really meant it). This is from my favorite floral department in our area which is located in a locally-owned, non-chain grocery store. They wrap pots in brown craft paper:)
This is my favorite Valentine's Day decoration, painted by Mama, who always made the day special for me.
Mama didn't sign everything, but this is one of the pieces with her painting signature: