parenting fun--love don't come easy

Can't Buy Me Love--A Valentine Countdown

5:48 PMHeather

Some things just make me really happy. You know--sweet hugs from my kids, an unexpected handwritten note in the mail, a morning cup of coffee from my Keurig, a surprise date with my husband.....and the TV show "Jon and Kate Plus 8." I just love how real they are, and...who can resist those PRECIOUS children? I was also endeared by the index cards on Kate's cabinets with Scriptures written all over them. You gotta love a show that your whole family can enjoy AND that makes you feel that even your hardest day is relatively easy.

So, for my fellow Jon and Kate fans, you might have also caught the Valentine episode where Kate planned a full day of fun to celebrate love, love, love. I think the little kids were 2?! For once, that episode left me feeling completely inadequate. I mean, instead of the usual "misery loves company" feeling, I had a major "loser mom" moment. Kate--mother to 8 children--planned and perfectly executed an entire day to make her kids feel special, complete with adorable matching Valentine shirts for all, heart shaped pancakes, and a scavenger hunt. I, on the other hand, with my tiny brood of 3, had barely managed to grab some Valentine candy at the Target dollar spot.

Nearly 2 years later--I'm still haunted. Thus, I've made a decision...THIS shall be the year that makes all other Valentine Days pale in comparison. THIS will be the year my children will refer to when they say--"remember when Mom started making Valentine special?" THIS will be the benchmark, the beginning, the defining moment....a new tradition at my little casa.

Thought I'd share my ideas, in case you, too, are haunted by Kate's amazing efforts. My first order of business....where, pray tell, did Mrs. Gosslin score those darling Valentine chairbacks? You know, the precious little MONOGRAMMED holders she placed on each chair to hold a love note and a goodie?! I found these at Pottery Barn:
Maybe it's just me...but these creep me out. They are NOT the adorable, red-with-hearts version as seen on TV. So, my first order of business--to either find some obscure website source, hidden after hours of futile online searching--or to create them myself. I've actually been thinking of making something to match my kitchen that I can have monogrammed. Then, I can make them all occasion chairbacks by attaching a heart with Velcro for Valentine's, a cross or egg for Easter's, maybe a smiley face for just-need-me-some-love days. (Help a girl in need if you have some advice here).

Of course, the reason for the season is L-O-V-E, and the most important demonstration of love is that God so loved us that he gave his only begotten Son. So creating a teaching moment for my children would be a great Valentine tradition. As I thought through us, I had the idea to create a Valentine specific reward chart that we can start a couple of weeks before Valentine's--sort of a Love Advent-type countdown
. The chart will have a list of the characteristics of love as listed from 1 Corinthians 13. I'll laminate it and assign a sticker color per child. As I catch them showing patience or kindness--or even NOT being rude--I'll give them a sticker. On Valentine's Day, they can cash in their stickers for some fabulous reward.

I also plan to make those Gosslin-ish heart shaped pancakes as well as other heart-shaped food--such as sandwiches for lunch, and maybe a heart shaped meatloaf for dinner? (Or would that be too "my bloody Valentine"?) I think we'll melt some crayons in heart-shaped muffin tins that my youngest kids can give to their classmates. And, I was thinking it would be fun to create a "love poster" for each family member. On Valentine's Day, we can take turns writing what we love about each person on their poster. Lastly--because I shouldn't waste time reinventing the wheel--I think we'll have a scavenger hunt for the kids to find a treasure chest of tokens of our love--just like Jon and Kate.

As I get older, I'm realizing more and more how simple things really can be. The world will know we are His by our LOVE, and LOVE covers a multitude of sins. Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show my kids the LOVE of our Father. In the words of the great James Taylor....I'll shower the people I Iove with love, and show them the way I feel. Perhaps, we might end the day snuggled together on the couch, watching the Valentine episode of Jon and Kate....

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