Its been 9 and half years of wedded bliss for Tim and I, and each February 14th brings a new sort of Valentine's Day for us. I'm not a particularly huge fan on Valentine's Day as it is - it puts too much pressure on two people if they are part of a couple and makes you feel like a total loser if you don't have that someone special.
One of my favorite parts of Valentine's Day, especially since we've had kids, has been baking cookies. This year, that presented a challenge of sorts. As some of you especially involved in our every day lives know, Carter is our wild man of the bunch. After Christmas, we made some significant changes in our diets to help tame his "inner beast." We tried to go as organic and all-natural as possible about 2 years ago, all milk and most other dairy we keep organic, and Carter drinks soymilk because we've found it helps his asthma. But, our newest changes involves cutting out ALL preservatives, artificial colors and artificial flavors as well as caffeine. This was based on a lot of research that link ADHD behaviors with all that yucky stuff they put in our foods. Honestly, it sounds harder than it actually is, thanks to chains such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, plus an ever-expanding natural food section at Jewel. You would be surprised though at how many seemingly innocent foods have artificial colors, especially, in them. For instance, I had Tim pick up some shredded cheese for baked potatoes one night on his way home from work. The quickest place for him to stop was Walgreens, but when we looked at the cheese, it had artificial colors in it. Seriously, the cheddar wasn't orange enough already? Thank goodness, he'd eat sour cream with a spoon if we let him, so he didn't even miss the cheese. All in all, I think its a much better way for all of us to eat, though Piper does get a little bent about the fact that she eats "Organic Cosmic Cocoas" and "Gorilla Munch" while the lucky kids get Cocoa Puffs and Kix. We'll just add this latest injustice to the list of things they'll be telling their therapists one day. Speaking of injustices, it doesn't seem right that we have to pay more for what we're leaving out of our food, but that seems to be the case. But its worth every penny to see the difference it has made in Carter's behavior. He is like a different kid. When I told him what I wanted to do as far as the additives in our food, Tim looked at me with the same expression he did when I said I wanted to try cloth diapering before Carter was born. In all fairness, he was totally right about the cloth diapers. However, even he is now singing the praises of the new diet after an unfortunate "Orange Crush incident." One bottle of pop and about 18 hours later when Carter was bouncing off the walls, he became a believer.
So, herein lies the problem with Valentine's cookies iced and sprinkled in pretty shades of red and pink. We did decide to bake them though, using the smallest heart cookie cutter, opting for conversation heart messages piped in homemade chocolate frosting and giving some of the cookies a very light-handed sprinkling. Disaster averted!!
One of my other favorite parts of Valentine's Day is hitting Target or a similar store the day before just to see the mad rush of men making their way to the card display. They're standing three and four deep, reading the measly selection of cards left, nodding their heads in intense concentration. Its almost like you can see the text bubble above their head saying, "Will she see that this says to my favorite aunt on Valentine's Day? Its got flowers and roses on it, she'll probably never notice." This makes me chuckle every year. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful card my husband lovingly selected from Hallmark's Mahogany line at Walgreens at midnight Friday night. I thought it read a little like a Luther Vandross song when I first read it, but it wasn't until I turned it over the next day (yes, I'm a card flipper) as I put it on my dresser that I realized. The picture on the front shows just the arms and entwined hands of a loving couple, who Tim told me made him think of us holding hands walking the beaches of Gulf Shores. I personally never remember Tim's arms looking that tan even at the end of our beach vacation. In reference to the text inside the card, I have now requested that Tim only refer to me as "sweet woman of my dreams." And who says romance is dead?
So, our Valentine's Day was rounded out by the boys and Tim attending Monster Jam at the Allstate Arena, Piper and I getting mother daughter mini pedicures at the local salon. Its funny, but I honestly can't think of another Valentine's Day that I have enjoyed so much. The kids got some much needed time with their parents doing special activities, I got a good laugh, and at the end of the day we all know how loved we are and how good we've got it. I think thats really what its all about.