Activities & Play / Around the House / Baby / Family / Food

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I tried so hard to get a picture of Will with his Valentine for his daddy but, wouldn’t you know, his determination to eat the valentine outmatched mine to photograph it.  Maybe next year…

B.W. (Before Will) Chris and I proudly boycotted Valentine’s Day.  I’m not entirely sure why exactly, but we just decided we didn’t need a special day to “celebrate our love.”  We were just fine celebrating everyday, thank you very much.

So one year I took a nap on the floor of Chris’ office while he worked the weekend at our old organization.

Two years ago, Valentine’s Day fell on the first day of Chinese New Year.  Instead of going for a romantic candlelit dinner, we headed to a boisterous Chinese banquet hall in New York City to celebrate with Chris’ extended family.  Restaurant staff bedecked every conceivable surface with the traditional red and gold decorations and then upped the festive ante, adding piles of pink hearts and gauzy sashes to the mix.  The effect was striking, to put it mildly, but I’ll take Flushing chinese food and hanging out with Chris’ wonderful family over a generic prix fixe menu for two any day.

Last year Chris and I spent Valentine’s Day Eve flying back to China from the U.S. and Valentine’s Day fighting and losing spectacularly in our battle against the jet lag.  I don’t think we remembered Valentine’s Day until the 16th of February.

This year we will be staying put for the big V-Day and, more relevantly, we’ve got the wee one now.  A nice quiet dinner for two may be out (for now) but suddenly Valentine’s Day seems as good an excuse to celebrate as any.

Chris and I have talked a lot about creating an assortment of simple holiday traditions for Will and any future siblings.  We want to have small rituals they can count on every year and look forward to, no matter where we are living.  Things like Christmas Eve pajamas and Chinese New Year noodles and Hong Bao.  Our annual Labor Day hike.  A homemade family meal with “fancy” ingredients and silverware for New Year’s Eve, and pictures of all the kids’ Halloween costumes from throughout the years to display in the fall.

As per interwebs inspiration, we want to make Valentine’s Day a holiday to give books, make a few sweet treats, and maybe even craft some Valentines for one another.  I’m hoping its not as twee in reality as it sounds when I write it out.

Will hasn’t quite moved past his “paper tastes better than pureed squash” stage though, and since we came to this idea a little late to order any books from Amazon, we’re improvising this year. Instead of books and precious baked goods, we’ve got pink marshmallows (for us, not for Will) and a valentine from Will to his daddy.*  Valentines from children too young to even say “Happy Valentine’s Day” may be both twee and ridiculous, but I’m giving myself a bye in the sap department until at least Will’s first birthday.

Honestly, I don’t know entirely what’s up with the pink marshmallows.  I was craving sugar, still on my no dairy, no soy, no chocolate, no fun elimination diet, and marshmallows seemed like a good fix.  I added a touch of red food coloring and they just looked so sweet, I had to share them.  If Princess Lolly decided to get out of the CandyLand gig and into masonry instead, I think these would be her building blocks of choice.  Soft, fluffy, and pink.

pink homemade marshmallows

I always use this recipe for my marshmallows and I skip the potato flour in favor of corn starch because that’s always what I have on hand.  You can make these marshmallows for every season, with all sorts of different extracts, shapes, and flavors.  I think they are actually best if you let them get a little stale, but that’s just my personal preference.  Should you decide to char them black roast them over an open fire, they get rather gooey and difficult to manage.  Don’t be put off by my disclaimer though, its the most delicious way to eat them.  I’ve been known to stand over the gas burner with a skewered marshmallow cursing the mess I’ve made of the stove top while licking my fingers with rather satisfied-sounding sighs.

Since I tried and so epically failed at homemade baby footprint wrapping paper for Christmas, I’d been eyeing up Valentine’s Day as a chance for redemption.

Turns out homemade cornstarch finger-paint does not have quite the staying power on paper that I was hoping for.  In the end, I painted the bottom of my baby’s feet with some Crayola watercolors.  Much, much, simpler.  We’ll save the edible finger-paint for when Will is the one doing the painting and not his Mama.

As for technique, in case you were wondering, it is far easier to lay a 6.5 month old on his back and press a piece of paper to his foot than it is to make him stand in one place long enough to get a footprint.  It’s also a lot cleaner.  If you give your baby something enticing enough to play with, (say, your mobile phone, because-oh yes-we’ve officially reached that stage) you might even get through the process without any transfer of paint from baby foot to baby mouth.  A notable accomplishment, to be sure.

Happy Hallmark Holiday/Valentine’s Day/Anti-Valentine’s Day/Tuesday Everyone!

*Remember all of my moaning about Will’s intense Mama’s boy/anti-Daddy tendencies?  Sooo happy to report we’ve definitely moved onto a stage of daddy-worship for now.  When Chris walks in the door, Will drops whatever random object he is chewing on and starts smiling and giggling.  These days no one can make him laugh like his daddy.  Last night Chris was away in Chongqing and we skyped so he could say good night to Will.  Will still doesn’t know that the baby in the mirror is actually his own reflection so when he saw Chris’ face on the screen he started beaming and laughing like his daddy was right in front of him.  Love, love, love.

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