An oriole's nest neatly hangs high, here surrounded by leaves the wind tore off two months back.
A morning of hoarfrost turns all things into unearthly beauty.
I stare at children's snowprints through a window screen.
I'm not in the mood for words. Another night, perhaps, I'll have something worth setting down, but for now, snapshots and silliness-- a bulbous, red sphere stretched over a clown's sharp nose.
Why, when he and I both know that he's not allowed to use the expensive dry erase markers for his malevolent ends, do I take two pictures instead of immediately snatching it away? Because boys rule, that's why. (Plus, he's too stinking cute.)
Twenty-eight weeks stretched out behind, thirty-five pounds packed under my belt, and only a few months left, Lord willing, until we hold this little one!
"Mama, is that a fake smile?"
"Hee, hee. I think fake smiles look silly."
For the record, I think they do, too. Also, I feel extremely awkward posing for anything other than Frugal Fancypants pictures. This next picture is splendidly awkward.
Because I took the above pictures after church, all swathed in blue, I had Annie take those below this morning to more accurately display my rounded glory, as well as my customary Olive Oyl bun. And speaking of buns, when the younger girls asked me to put their hair in ballerina buns this morning, Zeke patiently stood in line for his turn, too, and couldn't have been more pleased with the results. (Don't worry. He's clutching a Matchbox car.)
One: I read the girls this book on Valentine's Day so it wasn't all fluffy-hearts-rainbows-and-sugary-love.
Two: The reality outside of the frame on party days, unless it involves guests other than my family, ALWAYS LOOKS LIKE A TRAIN WRECK. Seriously. I haven't yet figured out how to make donuts or lollipops or other strange treats immediately before a party without the entire house exploding. Never trust snapshots. Never.
V-Day morning we ate the customary pancakes, which always seem to taste fancier when they're pink. The girls were outside doing chores while I prepared everything, so poor Zeke had to wait.
He couldn't stand it.
And his patience wore thin mighty quickly.
Ah, here come the rest of the ragamuffins.
Lunchtime was going to be our Valentine's tea party, but then we heard that Debbie was coming home on Saturday, so we spread the menu over two days.
Day 1-- V-Day Itself-- was simple. Eat normal food, but cut it all into hearts, dye it red, and serve it on glass. Woot! With a red tablecloth!
-crackers and heart cheese
-heart bananas drizzled with chocolate (okay, the chocolate was a splurgy concession to the day)
-homemade applesauce tinted pink
-shakes made with homemade yogurt, cherry-almond jam, and milk.
The best part of all were bags filled with candy contributed by two sets of grandparents.
In case you're wondering why I would want to waste perfectly good time cutting perfectly good food into ridiculous, tiny hearts, it's because of these faces that look like this when I tell them their lunch party is ready...
For the sake of being able to include Deb and my folks in the festivities, we decided to move all the party desserts to Saturday and have a dessert tea party instead.
I made homemade gumdrops for the first time, and they turned out okay, but I accidentally made the cinnamon ones so hot they burned like bonfires. I guess that's one way to ensure I get a bunch of leftover candy to eat...
My mom gave me some flavoring oils for Christmas, so we made sassafrass and butter rum lollipops, too.
Instead of frosted, heart-shaped, sugar cookies, the girls opted for heart-shaped elephant ears.
Annie made pink lemonade, Millie made soft pretzel bites and honey mustard, and we topped it all off with a bunch of chocolate given to us at Christmas that we've been saving for this very occasion.
Debbie was the Chosen One who smacked the chocolate orange.
Longtime readers may recall my old Valentine's tune regarding handmade valentines. It goes something like this: "Deedle-dum, lalala, I don't think we'll do this again next year."
Why don't I ever remember this tune before we begin?
The girls and I made a couple of dozen of these valentines (and by "girls and I," I mean that I cut out everything for them to assemble and then sign their names on, which is kind of dumb, huh?). I stole the fortune cookie idea from Martha Stewart, but ours didn't look like hers do. I can't imagine why. The archery idea came from here. (Again, how come ours don't look like the others?)
Don't worry. Things get better. See, the girls still had over 30 valentines to make, and I was done for the year, so I gave them a glue gun, googly eyes, paper, and paints, and set them loose. Setting them loose looks a lot like this at the beginning, but it gets even more
like a bomb went off exciting by the end.
I showed them some ideas from the internet, and the older girls snipped, glued, and assembled without my having to lift more than a few fingers. The younger girls needed a Mama, though, so I helped Pip with these.
She was extremely pleased with them.
Luci helped glue on hearts, colored the card, and then flashed a fetching grin.
For the painting portion, the table was split into two camps. The first was an orderly regiment of veterans.
The other camp? Not so much.
They painted some pretties, anyway-- spilled water, dumped paint, and all.
I was going to make handprint spiders with Lu, too, until we discovered that she has a horsey handprint, instead.
These next ones are from the veterans, though you can probably deduce that on your own.
The older girls made just about every one of these animals from here. (Great tutorials, by the way. I give them two lazy thumbs up.)
Susie made the caption, "Coon you be mine?" That girl's going places someday!
And now, after two giant sessions of making valentines, I just caught myself humming that tune again. "Deedle, dum, lalala...."