Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's 2012: Simple Celebrations in 7 (Not So) Quick Takes

Oh my!  It's been about a year since I have participated in 7 Quick Takes and I have been meaning to get back in the habit. So, when I realized that our St. Valentine's Feast Day observances this year could be categorized into faith, food and five other topics, I thought, "Perfect, it must be time to join the 7 Quick Takes fun again!"  So, here goes with seven (albeit not so) quick takes from this past week: 

Plans Change…
Some Nina's grumpy, sick attitude obviously lasted throughout the day this Valentine's Day, but only periodically, such as when she realized I had put the pepper hearts she wanted me to make -- but that she did not want to actually eat -- on top of the pasta at the beginning of our Valentine's Dinner
Four days ago, I had plans in my head for a fabulous—if a bit busy – Valentine’s Day by joining in a story hour celebration at the library, playing with traditional Valentine’s toys here at home, meeting friends, having a full-on feast Day tea, etc.  But, you know the old saying, “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

As things turned out, Jack did not sleep well the night before Valentine’s, thus, neither did I.  This resulted in a day-long neck-and-headache for me.  Then, Nina woke up crying and complaining that she was not feeling well, which is very unusual for our little girl who usually greets us with bubbly smiles and hugs each morning.  Likewise, when Luke woke up, he mentioned that he had a bit of a headache, too.  So, plans needed to be simplified – a slow, at-home day was in order.

And, what a terrific day it turned out to be despite its rocky start.

Themed Food, Anyone?
You know Nina is not feeling well when she gives strawberries away!  Before  Luke woke up for the day, I cut some strawberries into hearts for Nina and Jack to snack on and she gave hers away to Jack.
With our new GFCF, dye-free, additive-free, preservative-free and (moving toward) overly processed-free diet, you’d think our Valentine’s Day may also have been themed-fare free.  Such was not the case!  For almost every meal and snack, we managed to have something heart-shaped or sweet, including:

GFCF buckwheat-banana-honey pancakes, fresh red raspberries, vanilla almond milk and cranberry-pomegranate juice for breakfast 

Luke's choice menu of heart-shaped GFCF toast with nut-butter and other spreads, plus...

...pear slice hearts for lunch.

The hearts Nina asked me to cut, but was chagrined to find atop some GFCF pasta at dinner.

Along with sides of sauteed mushrooms and salad with strawberry hearts.

All topped off with two of the kids' favorite:  chocolate almond milk and fruit juice wigglers, made with cranberry-pomegranate juice and cut into hearts for the occasion. 

Saint Chat
We'll be reading this in the coming week since it just came in at our library.

Silly me did not order our staple Valentine book, Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda, in time from the library, and I just wasn’t up for a big Internet search to find a substitute story online.  So, instead of using the book as the catalyst for our saint day breakfast discussion, we used our memories of it from last year.

I was happily surprised to discover how much about St. Valentine that Luke and Nina recalled from last year’s reading.  I was even more thrilled when they told me some reasons that St. Valentine was like Jesus (because “he healed people”, “he did a miracle when the girl died” and “he was loving”).  And, I appreciated the brief discussion about grace that opened up when Luke suggested that the men who killed St. Valentine went to Hell and I interceded that we do not know that, which led to questions and thoughts about forgiveness, grace, etc.  Big concepts for little people, I know, but ones I am willing to explore in simple terms when they ask about them.

I am continually impressed with how deeply my young children can be touched by saint stories.  They vividly they recall details of some saint’s lives, explain examples of their love and sacrifices and, even begin to grapple with questions and truths I am not sure I was aware of until much later in life.  Yet, they do so at their own levels of interest and understanding – and with that cute, frank and imaginative way that only young children can.
Having forgotten to order our favorite Valentine's book, some that we had on-hand decorated our  breakfast table and served as our read-aloud books of the day.

Since I failed not only to order the St. Valentine book from the library in time, but also to get any other themed books out, I had to stick to what we own (and even then I could not find one of our favorites.  So, our read alouds for the day were Love Is . . . (a visual treasure with an adapted version of the famous “Love is patient…” Bible verse), Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (Peanuts) (an older version from my childhood that I have hidden in past years because it is a bit “twaddle-y” and because all too many tantrums are depicted in it, but one that the kids made out book-of-the-week and which has surprisingly inspired some fun impromptu activities and quality character and behavior discussions) and Freckles & Willie: A Valentine's Day Story ( a sweet story that quietly reinforces themes of loyalty and forgiveness).  The children asked for these books several times throughout the day – and continued to do so all week.

They also “read the pictures” of them, gaining inspiration from pages like this... 
to create their own cutting activities like this.

Crafts and Valentine-Making
Jack was just waking up from a nap in the car here, so Daddy helped him paint until he got into it himself.  And, boy, did he (and his sibs) get into it.  I had to put the camera away!
Prior to Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed a family morning at a Lowe’s workshop, where we made Valentine’s boxes and at the Mill Store, where we painted wooden hearts.  Upon coming home from these workshops, the children enjoyed using their boxes and supplies from home to make Valentine’s for several friends and family members.  

In fact, they were so into making Valentine's cards for other people they did so on their own, too.  I did not not even know Luke had made this one for his friend Tim until I downloaded the pictures Daddy took on Sunday from Tim's birthday party (where Luke had a blast!):

On Valentine's Day itself, we did not do much planned crafting, but there was more impromptu Valentine-themed fun.  Part of that came when I challenged the kids to make hearts using the SmartMax Extreme Set that Santa brought Jack (by way of the elves at Timberdoodle, who offer office hands-down awesome service, homeschooling resources and select "learning" toys and games, by the way).  I expected a simple outlined heart, but when I finished the dishes, I discovered Luke had made this:

Wow!  How does he think up such designs?

And, Nina made this:

Not a heart, I know.  But, she was limited in building pieces because, as I later discovered, Brother was hoarding them.  So, she built a stand-up triangle instead.  The beauty of it lay in that once I suggested that the three points of a triangle can be a wonderful image for Valentine's, we had fun coming up with "names" for them:  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; Jesus, Mary and Joseph; Mommy, Daddy and Child; Luke, Nina and Jack...  All examples of love shared!

Later on Valentine's Day, the children had fun calling around to some folks to leave love-filled wishes.  I enjoyed witnessing how eager they were to "give" through sharing such sentiments.

No Charlie Browns, Here!
From tiny Valentine cards with cool moving stickers on them to ones mailed from afar, the kids were so excited to receive messages of love!
Of course, the children enjoy receiving as well as giving.  In fact, after reading my old Peanuts book from my childhood the night before Valentine’s Day, they commented that, like Charlie Brown, they had received no cards themselves yet.  My response was a simple smile.  (Little did they know I had squirreled their Valentine’s away for “the big day”.)  Then, when we sat down for our Valentine's breakfast, they were thrilled to discover envelopes by their plates.

They were even more when cash fell out of their cards from one auntie.  (Luke insists that money will be saved for a parakeet he wants to buy and thinks that Papa must have told Auntie that he only wants money right now so he can buy a parakeet some day, although I am not sure how Papa might know that…)
A Wish for All
The way to this boy's heart is definitely through his belly.  He  devoured every raspberry within reach at breakfast and followed suit with feasting heartily at each meal.  In return, he offered so many bright-eyed smiles.  I love those!
As for me, I was admittedly short on making and giving traditional Valentine’s this year.  However, I did send modern-day FB sentiments out first thing on Valentine’s morning on my personal FB account, and since I have yet to get a blog FB account going, I want to share those sentiments here, too:
After many adult years as a Singleton, I was preparing for my church wedding on this day seven years ago. What an answer to prayer my husband was and continues to be! Even if the grass on this side of the single/spoken for fence is not always as green as I dreamed of it being, it is what I feel incredibly blessed to walk on. Praises for my marriage and the incredible love shared with my children and husband it has brought.
So, to fellow Marrieds, may I wish you a day of treasuring your commitment, whether you're going through a period of delight or challenge. And, for all my single friends, whether you be reveling in Singledom or sometimes sorrowful over it, may this day be one filled with love of life, self and all that who are around you. And to all children, may you parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, classmates and others fill your life and soul with loving experiences. Happy Valentine's day one and all.
Today, as I reflect on what a simple love-filled day of celebration our family had on Tuesday, I feel blessed that it unfolded as it did.  I pray that love (faith and family!) played strongly your Valentine’s, too, and that His love shines on your and yours through the words, thoughts and actions of others every day.
Happy Valentine’s Day, a bit late!

If any of that love comes in the form of training up young children in faith, I would love to hear about it, especially at my Sunday series (which of course is open all week.)

In the meantime, please enjoy all the fantastic links at 7 Quick Takes Friday, guest-hosted today at Betty Beguiles, where this post is being shared.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I LOVE the direction Nina's triangle took things. Such a sweet analogy.

And wow! You did a lot with Valentine's day.


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