I’m a little flaky about Valentine’s day.  My husband is under strict orders not to crash our household budget with trinkets that I’ll have to either store or clean or flowers that will set off my allergies.  It is a testament to his love for me that, completely against his wishes, he abides by my wishes; he is the kind of guy who brings me chocolate just because he called to say hello and heard one of the tiny people throwing a tantrum in the background, or who quietly does this dishes while I let the dogs out after dinner.  He shows his love for me in a thousand little ways every day, from notes written on the shower wall with the kids’ bath crayons to restoring a creche my Pop-Pop made me that I thought was ruined beyond repair when our basement flooded.

That said, I hope everyone reading this had the sort of Valentine’s day that brought joy into his or her life.

This was the first year we deemed Bugaboo and Beanie old enough to have their own little boxes of kiddie valentines; we figured they’d have a good time folding them and giving them to all their playgroup buddies.  Bugaboo’s featured Tinkerbell and her fairy friends, and Beanie had a box of My Little Pony cards, along with their traditional little heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.  Since the girls were up long before the boys, who had a rough night, had even thought of stirring, and I had a ton of cooking to do for a friend’s soiree this evening, I hugged them, kissed them, showed them how to fold their little valentines, and set about kneading a loaf of parmesan-oregano bread (some semblance of a recipe will follow today’s prayer).

Some moments later, I realized that I was flanked by little girls, silently watching me knead bread.  Pausing to shake out my wrists, I asked them if they needed help with their little cards.  Bugaboo, who is usually the spokeswoman for the tribe, shook her head, smiled, and held up one of her little cards.  Beanie scooted around to stand next to Bugaboo and proffered one of hers, too, as her big sister told me, “Mommy, we think you should get the first Valentines.”

I scooped both of them up in my floury arms and held them close before they wiggled away, protesting that I was going to get bread all over them.  They returned to the table and gathered their treasure, scampering off to their room to compare the pictures on all their little cards and try to tuck all the little edges under all the little tabs.  The concept of actually putting names on the Valentines didn’t quite sink in, but they sure did have a good time.

My husband met all of us at the party this evening, then took the girls over to Nonno and Deedaw’s for a little Valentine’s visit while I brought Mr. Man and Baby Guy, who were both worn out, home.  After I had sung the boys their songs, said their prayers with them, and tucked them in, their Scouts playing a few minutes of lullabies for them, I called over to Nonno and Deedaw’s to let him know we were all safe and sound here, and the little guys were sacked out.  As we were saying goodbye, Beanie apparently wandered over and heard Daddy saying “I love you.”  She wanted the phone, so he gave it to her.

There just aren’t many things that can beat the sheer bliss of hearing your three-year-old daughter say, “By the way, Mommy, I love you.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who love me, and for the sweetness of the ways they choose to show it.  Help me guide them to become men and women who will show, and share, their love freely.  Thank You for sending me a husband who doesn’t need the date on the calendar to tell him it’s time to love his wife, and for the many opportunities you put in our path today to share the love with which You have so richly blessed our lives.  Lord, please remind me that everyone needs to know that he or she is loved, and help me find ways to show that love to people who make it a challenge.


Parmesan-oregano bread “recipe”

I never measure anything when I make bread, so all measurements are very, very rough

1 c  warm water
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp olive oil (I use extra virgin; you don’t have to if you’re not partial to the taste)
3 + c flour
1/2 c parmesan (or romano, if you prefer) cheese, grated
1 tbsp oregano

Dissolve honey in water; add yeast and stir.  Let stand 5 minutes, then stir in everything else.  Knead on a floured surface until dough is smooth and stretchy.  Roll into a fat rope, then form the rope into a circle on a big pizza pan so that you have about 3 inches between the outer edge of the pan and the dough.  Let rise for about 90 minutes; dough will spread and rise.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Put a pan with about an inch of water in it on the bottom rack; put the bread on the rack above, and bake for 25 minutes.  You’ll get a focaccia-shaped bread with just enough puff, a crispish crust, and a moist crumb.


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