Love Day

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Valentine’s Day was always a major holiday in my family. My mom would wake up extra early to make us a special breakfast, and she would usually make us little gift bags with either our favorite candy or a toy we wanted. She highlighted that no matter what our daily struggles as a family were, she loved us regardless. As we got older we started extending this same charity to our friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Now, I try to do some thing special for my family.

This year, it turns out we’re all sick. Sophie is the sickest and while thatwould typically make me the most sympathetic toward her, she is unusually sassy. I know it is most likely because she’s not feeling well, but for some reason my reactions don’t reflect that knowledge. Every time she snaps at me, I snap back. We’ve apologized to each other multiple times already, and I’m hoping Valentine’s day will be a good day for more love and reconciliation.

Some day I hope to explain to my kids that Catholicism behind Valentine’s day. St. Valentine was a martyr who was beheaded because of his Catholic faith. We recognize both his martyrdom, Jesus’ own suffering, and the love of all martyrs, who preferred to be killed rather than stop loving Jesus. Even though Valentine’s day gets a bad rep for being superficial, it actually does contain and preach the true meaning of love: suffering. However, I am dealing with a toddler and baby, so we will probably just stick to the Daniel Tiger-esque “Love Day” type of celebration (you know, “Ugga Mugga” and all that…)

Either way, I am excited and feeling the weight of my responsibility to teach my children how to love others. Hopefully my example will speak for itself! I hope you all take time to express love and gratitude for the people in your life who support you and are always there for you.

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[My mom still celebrates with us. She sent us a care package with the ingredients to make these adorable love themed cupcakes!] 

Our Last Date

The week Sophie was born, I have a very distinct memory of Justin and I going to see whatever X Men movie was out at the time. Despite my love of Hugh Jackman, I wasn’t eager to go being a few days over my due date, but my mom convinced me saying that the time of “just the two of us” was limited, and I should take advantage of the “extra” time I was given, being past due. Its a find memory that J and I recalled frequently during tough times during our first year with Sophie.

At 38 weeks, J lured me up to Pittsburgh to go to The Cheesecake Factory, with coupons for 2 free slices of cheesecake. There was no blizzard like we’ve had the past week, the sun was shining, and it felt so nice to get out of the house.

Now, I recommend a small date or even full on “babymoon” vacations to other women I know who are pregnant. The third trimester is tough, and little outings like this help the end to be a little more bearable! My mom comes in this weekend and I can’t wait to see her. It will be nice to have the extra help and maybe get to sneak in another date before baby arrives.

Valentine’s Day

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We all know it’s coming up!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Catholic, and so it should come as no surprise to you that Valentine’s day is more symbolic to me than just the cheesy, Hallmark version that gets perpetuated every year. You may be surprised to know that the Catholic church actually knows very little about St. Valentine, except that he was martyred, and many of the stories and miracles attributed to him [that occurred during his lifetime] and dependent more upon legend than fact. Being a student of literature, and particularly fond of fiction, this doesn’t pose a problem for me, as there are plenty of moral lessons to be learned from fictitious tales. Different depictions of St. Valentine’s arrests tell that he secretly married couples so husbands wouldn’t have to go to war, while another variation of the legend says he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and while imprisoned he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.” This is how the tradition of leaving “valentines” is said to have begun.

Either way, this was a man who was the depiction of love; love of God. His example of love, in any of the given stories, is one to be celebrated. It brings to the forefront of my mind, not only the love I have for my family but also my love of God [which is arguably more important]. So yes, I hang cheesy, red and pink heart decorations around the house. My husband and I exchange gifts and usually go out on a date. We even exchange gifts with Sophie, as that was a tradition my mother used to with us that always made me feel special and loved. Not to mention, I like an excuse to eat chocolate just as much as the next person.

So take time this weekend to tell the people you care about that you love them! There’s nothing stupid or overrated about showing love and appreciation to the important people in your life.

A Mother’s Love

*A throwback to how I celebrated Sugar Plum’s first Valentine’s Day, and a reflection on how my mother always celebrated it with us*

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Valentine’s day was always special for me growing up. Not only because its a Catholic feast day, but because my mom utilized it to express to her kids how much she loved us. She would decorate the dining room with red streamers, write each of us a meaningful card telling us the reasons she loved us, as well as making us a special heart-themed breakfast. As the oldest sibling of what was considered to be a “big family” in California, [trust me, we’re no Duggars…] it was nice to feel appreciated and affirmed when most of the time, you’re fighting your siblings for the attention of your parents.

As I made the transition to adolescence, Valentines from my mother became increasingly important. Of course, so did Valentines from boys, but that’s really besides the point. It became more than just “reasons I love you.” My mother taking time to make Valentines special for her children was a true affirmation of our person hood and our individuality. As the only girl, I felt like it was also a special ode to my womanhood and femininity. I was never solely focused on whether a boy would bring me candy or carnations, I knew that I was loved and cherished in my home first and foremost.

While Sugar Plum is our only child at the moment, and still very little, I still wanted to start the celebration of doing something special for her. I got her that adorable Minnie plush that you see pictured above… She has several Minnie dolls, but this one was so chic, with it’s hot pink skirt and metallic polkadots, That I simply could not pass it up! It put a big smile on her face too, which made it worth the trouble.

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I also made her an actual breakfast of eggs and strawberries! To be honest, I breastfeed out of laziness. There are no dishes to do, nothing to cook… I usually can just get her on my lap to breastfeed, and then we’re done! But today, I decided to put in a little more effort to give her a nice treat.

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It is easy to say “my kids know I love them,” but children really do respond to actions their parents take to make them feel love and accepted in a household. I look forward to sharing this tradition with my future children, despite the extra effort it may take… and I am so thankful to my mother for the sacrifices she made to make each of us feel adored.