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Valentine’s Day when you have kids – it’s not just for love birds

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and once again, I will be happy to stay home with my husband (and kids) and leave the romantic restaurants free for young lovers, engagements complete with the diamond ring in the champagne glass, and the like. I have not been to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day since Boston, 1993, when my now-husband and I decided to venture out without a reservation and ended up in a suburban Pizza Hut hours later. Not exactly the romantic meal we had in mind, needless to say.

I love to cook and since the Boston debacle, we have pretty much stayed home every year and made a special meal, enjoyed by candlelight in our comfy house (another reason to stay in and avoid the inclement weather of western New York in February). I try to make something out of the ordinary – lobster, steak, scallops, etc. I think this year I am going to try Rachael’s “Sexy Surf anf Turf” – or her fabulous, easy beef wellington recipe – yum.

As anyone with kids knows, Valentine’s Day takes on a whole new meaning with kids. Making Valentine’s Day cards for classmates has turned into a major project. I have finally wised up and started this process a few days in advance, as it seems to be quite time consuming. (3 kids x average of 30 kids per class = 90 valentines that must be signed). Plus my over achieving oldest daughter, age 7, insists on going above and beyond the standard cartoon character valentines that simply need to be signed and sealed with a provided sticker, and forges ahead, creating her own cards for each of her classmates. She has 40 kids in her class, mind you. We tried to start today – yes, 8 days before the big day – and she did not complete one successfully before she dissolved into tears as she was using a pen and quit the project because her “v” was not up to her high standards. Yes, the oldest child, the perfectionist. This is why I start one week in advance.

When I was growing up my mom would always leave a sweet Valentine’s Day card on my pillow with a small gift – usually red foil wrapped chocolate hearts; I can remember the exact shape and size to this day. I continue this tradition with my kids and they love it – it is small way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids and let them know how much you love them.

My kids also love to make cards for extended family members – grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Any opportunity to foster kids’ natural inclination to let people know how important they are to them is welcome in my book. My kids have insisted on sending a Dora the Explorer or Scooby Doo valentine left over from their class valentines to my mother in law and trust me, she loves it.

And of course because I am a baker (and sugar addict), Valentine’s Day is yet another excuse to bake with my kids and share the love with friends and family. Try these traditional Christmas cut-outs using a heart shaped cookie cutter and pink, red or white icing, with sprinkles and decorations. Yum.

So even though you have kids and might not be able to go out for the most romantic night ever anymore, Valentine’s Day takes on even more meaning – and fun – when you have kids. How will you celebrate Valentines Day? 

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