Valentine
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Roses
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I know, I know…you’ve heard it all before. But I’m legit this time m’peeps. I have been aching, ACHING to blog. Overcome with the desire to fulfill the assurances of photos and more photos from my last comeback blog post. But I tell you, this not having a computer thing, it’s a hindrance to blogging. It really is. (And also to getting a Masters Degree but let’s focus on what is important here..)

But now. I have a computer. A working computer. And I get to keep it with me, all nice and cozy on my lap, all the livelong day.  It feels like an impossible luxury. It’s funny how the deprivation of something we took for granted before makes us suddenly feel like it is an overwhelming luxury for which we are scarce deserving. So it is with my new, very own, functional computer. Enough with the backstory. Let’s get to it shall we?

I’m going to jump in with current events. **Editors note, this was more than 24 hours ago…
If we are going to be literal. Currently it is snowing. Again. Still. I was watching it out of my bedroom window just now and it was like nothing I have ever seen before. Big fat fluffy flakes…but they were coming down at this frenetic pace. It looked like video of snow that had been sped up. I actually blinked and shook my head and opened my eyes and looked again, just like you see on the cartoons. Because I was sure my sleep deprived eyes and mind were deceiving me. Weirdest.

However! This winter as I mentioned before, this record breaking cold and snowy winter continues to be my favorite in Ohioan memory.  I know! How bizarre.I think having my family visiting for a month’s worth of it made it seem shorter, I think my new meds have a lot to do with it, I think the fact that I have been on break from school hence making me feel like I am on a soon to end vacation and affording me the desire to soak up every moment of stress free housework and other menial tasks *see sense of luxury for what previously seemed to be a necessity, above* has also been a major contributing factor. And then of course the aesthetic beauty of snow-huge for me, having my kids around more=awesome. The legitimate excuse to hibernate more than usual (blissful for this introvert). All in all I’m loving it.

Come on now…don’t be hating . I deserve it. This is my 10th winter here. A few days into my first I made a solemn vow to myself to never see the 2nd. As you can tell, my solemn vows to myself do not always come to fruition. Many (most if not all) of the subsequent winters have been excruciatingly painful and soul sucking. So let me have my little bit of joy. Don’t rain on my parade. I’m not loving this as much as say I love Summer or Autumn.  Let’s not get crazy here. But it’s bearable. I’m able to find the joy. I’m feeling more happy than not. And I call that a raging success as far as winters go.

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A highlight for me every year is Valentine’s Day. On the one hand I think Valentine’s Day is just as silly and ridiculous and over commercialized as the next cynical hardened girl..but that’s with my mind. My heart and my eyes love it.  In most ways so far as being an alien…a legal alien…a South African in Ohio I feel like a square peg in a round hole. But there are some ways in which America suits me just beautifully.  Over the top celebrations for lesser holidays for instance. I’m all in.

Valentine’s Day is a reprieve for me. January is an extraordinarily dreary month in Ohio. In sharp contrast to the sensory overload which is December, it’s all white (if you’re lucky) or grey here. And that gets depressing fast. So when we get the chance to infuse some pink and red into the picture, I leap at the opportunity. So this is what a hot Valentine’s night date looks like when you have a two year old, and you’re old.

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When our first four were 2 and under or thereabouts we were quite diligent about getting a sitter and being romantic and going to a nice place. I even got up really early on Valentine’s Day some years so we could have a pre-kid breakfast in bed date. But now..as if.  I always swore that it would never happen to us.
                                                           

Meandpooh
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The Apathy would never be tolerated by this couple. No not us. And then we grew up. And truly, I don’t feel apathetic. I still love Valentine’s. I still love my husband. Actually I love him more than ever. I still go all out with a fancy breakfast for the family and decorating the house within an inch of its life..
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(Valentine breakfast. A momentous event whereupon I made something I had pinned on pinterest. Heart shaped cinnamon rolls…{from a can!} ) By the way: I just came upon this photo and laughed so hard.




Benj and Aaron get up much earlier than the rest of us since Benj has early morning seminary. I had asked Aaron to put the cinnamon rolls in the oven. Aaron obviously saw the pains I had gone to with making the table pretty and interrupted Benj just as he was tucking in to a hurried breakfast so that he could take a photo for me. So sweet and so hilarious to see Benj’s  obediently frozen stoic pose hands piously clasped.)

Anyway, so what was I saying…yeah..it’s not that we’ve given up on romance and fun it’s that now it’s a novelty to just have one HOUR to chill out together IN OUR HOME. Seriously. On Valentine’s night we sat on our bed and we watched netflix.  We got Wendy’s. We lit candles. We did not move until the credits roll. We loved it!  Sure Ella sat between us..but she was undemanding. The next day we kept reminiscing fondly about our amazing Valentine’s date. We watched the WHOLE movie in one sitting. It was fabulous.  We seriously never get to do this.

Having preteens and teens  and tweens..and that age before tweens and a toddler makes your life indescribably busy. You NEVER HAVE ANY TIME TO JUST BE.  When they are little you can put them to bed and have your time. Yes they might get up but you get to stay in your house. When they are older you become the taxi driver. They are always going somewhere or needing to be picked up from somewhere or needing something from the store right that very minute or needing help with a form, or homework, or to get the printer working.

That’s besides the feeding and basic care stuff…(they are aways needing to eat and they eat like locusts so you are ALWAYS needing to shop).

And so I’ve realized that this is the wonderful thing about getting older (and about your kids getting older). It takes very little to please you. You don’t have silly expectations about waking up to a dozen roses and being whisked away to cozy restaurants and opening jewelry boxes over creme brulet.  You just want to finish the movie on netflix and eat your Wendy’s in peace.  I know this probably sounds so tragic but it makes me so much happier! Getting older may not be kind to your body but it is such a huge relief for your mind and emotions.

PS: Speaking of getting older….MY BIRTHDAY! I half-heartedly threw out the challenge to participate in my day of kindness mere hours before and you guys totally brought it.  It made me SO happy. I will be doing a separate birthday post next to tell you all about it and choose a winner (Probably today as my kids are off school -as they generally are lately, which means I have quality child-care for my little tyrant and can actually DO stuff on my very own computer! YAY!!** Editors note: It turned out that I spent all day playing in the snow with the kids-win for parenting, lose for blogging)

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Speaking of pinterest, you know how I kind of hate it? One of the reasons I hate it is because I love coming up with original ideas and being creative and now every time I do anything which I think is rather nifty and brilliant,  I see it on pinterest later, just 10x cuter than the way I had done it.

Pinterest has taken any sense of pride I had in being creative and innovative. There is nothing new in the world apparently. Nothing. It is most deflating.

Anyway, so we had these lights left up from Gracie’s birthday-I had clipped instagram pics I had taken of her over the course of the year onto them with glittery little clothes pegs  and she had done the same for my birthday. So I figured it was a cute idea for Valentine’s Day too. I selected loving hugging photos from the last year and clipped them up there…it was sweet to note that most of them included someone cuddling Ella. On nights like these when she just won’t go the bleep to sleep, it is a good reminder that she has brought us a lot of joy despite setting us back 7 years in civilization and normal sleep patterns.  I thought it was so cute and clever. And then I saw that it’s totally a thing on pinterest. Bleh. So it turns out that I am no different from every other twee blogger on the planet instead of being creative mom who uses what she has in the house at 2am…moving on.

Back to Valentine’s Day (am I the queen of tangents or what?! Have I mentioned my ADD???)  We had our traditional Family dinner on Sunday evening. We had a few friends over too. It was so fun.Another excuse for me to indulge in red and pink and pretty. Red and white..my favs. I kept modestly exclaiming, “OMIGOSH HOW PRETTY IS THIS???”  over my own creation (one day perhaps I will learn to be demure and tasteful and not compelled to point out my every tiny achievement and prompt others to praise it) And everyone kept indulging me with, “oh so very pretty!” as I snapped pictures and the spaghetti and meatballs got cold, the sparkling grape got warm, the salad wilted and the garlic bread hardened.  I am strong on presentation and atmosphere and the food is always an afterthought. Thankfully Aaron always handles the food. We make a pretty good team. We just need a separate photographer so we can eat things warm. Even cold-ish the food was delish and the company was awesome. We had great discussions and lots of laughs and finished up with triple chocolate brownies, strawberries and whipped cream.  So all’s well that ends well.

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Interrupted by a random shot of Ella and her dad having a Valentine’s playdate after getting home from work..                                                      

So it turns out that I have an unnatural obsession with hot chocolate bars. I set one up for Christmas and was so loathe to break it downli Hence one more eason to love Valentine’s day. I got the printable from pinterest. So I guess it doesn’t always suck.
           

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Here’s where everything gets random and fuzzy and I just start throwing in every picture I ever took..

Ella was mortified by something here but her dress was too appropriate not to include.

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More gratuitous shots of the Valentine’s dinner.

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Triple fudge brownies (courtesy Ghiradelli)

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Everyone got a little present…Finny is such a good reactor
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Gabe too..

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Our sweet sister missionaries got Starbucks cards. Do you know that these women bike around town all day and evening long?! In skirts??? And they are still smiling?? Get these women a hot chocolate. Stat.

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Cindi Baum is the Balm.

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Even sweet Shemly (soft dog cookies in the shapes of hearts with no artificial ingredients?! Target you are magic!)
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The gang smiles as the spaghetti gets cold…

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The aftermath..                                                                                                                              
We had a girly time in my room with Muss Cindi. Cindi got me those curtains for my birthday so I staged my room for a tour.  Aren’t they pretty those curtains?? I love my room too, too much now. Oh I can’t wait to take you all on the tour too!
 
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My friend Deborah gave me this ridiculously cute little tutu for Ella and when can you get away with a tutu filled with rose petals if not on Valentine’s Day?  She rocked it. And naturally I took pictures of her obsessively all day long.  No, to answer the oft-asked question…I don’t put lipstick on Ella. I draw the line at obsessive picture taking.

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Here we are in Ella’s happy place. She’s a Maxxinista.

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More Valentine decor because I love seeing this type of thing on other people’s blogs so I assume you do too. Plus I like to show off. I  do so love our baobab occasion tree from South Africa. And I thought it was an appropriate moment to pull out the old Willow Tree collection.

Tulips…ever my favorite and the most romantic flower of all for me. Temple Square was brimming with them when we got married.  Do you like my paint chip garland on the mantel?  At last at last I actually did something with the paint chips I stole from Home Depot. Easiest and most satisfying little craft ever. Also free. When you steal the supplies. Is it stealing when they are free?

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My two beautiful girls in their Valentine’s outfits. Thanks Auntie Shona for leaving behind your pretty scarf. We would have been distinctly non-Valentiney without it.
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I have mentioned the obsession with the hot chocolate bar right? I got the chockit jar from Carolyn for my birthday. How did I live without a chockit jar before? How?

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I got a cupcake candle (it smells like chocolate) from my friend Laura for my birthday and chocolate spoons from Jannelle. I mean given all these resources, really, how can I not have a hot chocolate bar as the center of my reason for living?
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A sweet little Ella playing on the window sill. She still loves little ledges and tables. She is such a funny girl. (Also it is almost 1am and she is awake after a nap at 6pm so at times she is such an annoying girl…)
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Those roses were from Aaron in celebration of the 19th anniversary of our engagement. Which means I have been with Aaron for exactly half of my life. Crazy. But cool.

Pensive and sleepy looking…what I wouldn’t give for that expression to come over her face right now….                                                 And that icy heart? The day before Valentine’s Ella had a yearning to make a sandcastle. So we grabbed a bucket and a brought in some other white substance ideal for building which was was conveniently abundant right outside the back door.

Naturally, I was even more invested in this venture than she was. (I made this heart with food coloring after she went down for her nap. And I wonder why I can’t seem to get real-life things done…)
 

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So that’s the disturbingly rambling pictorial recap. Let’s summarize shall we?

Snow and hearts. And Ella in a tutu. We are old now but content and low maintenance. I am obsessed with hot chocolate bars and decorating for Valentine’s day. I am not nearly as creative or original as I used to hope that I was. I have cool friends and a good husband.That about sums up the last couple of weeks around here.

Ok so as you have gleaned..I’m a little rusty with this whole blogging thing but I will hit my stride and hopefully start posting more coherently soon. Right now I have a very perky and loud 2 year old who wants me to read Horton Hatches the Egg to her at 1am.  So you will excuse me…(and pray for me…)
Editors note: She was up til 3:30am and then again before 8am. I posted this prior to editing. I hope you are reading this post-edit because it was even worse before.

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