Despite the overall mild weather, this winter's had some rough patches, as all seasons do, and I don't need to list them for it to be so. The day before Valentine's Day, though, too many things piled up all at once. We awoke to sub-zero temperatures and a dead furnace (again); then, after having just picked our van up from the mechanics a few days prior, John called me from work because the car's brakes were acting up. To top it off, that afternoon the mailman delivered Aidan's emergency room bill of over $2,000, which, when added to the other medical bills from this winter, just made me want to bury my head in the covers and fall asleep until spring.
In these small troubles, God's people moved. Dude fixed our cracked sink pipes while he was visiting, Mom O. made an unexpected pit stop-- and you know what you did, sneaky lady!--, we got a financial grant from private hospital donars to cover substantial amounts of our medical bills, and on that bitterly cold, wild, windy day before Valentine's Day, a family friend drove 45 minutes to our house for the third time in as many weeks to work on our furnace.
Over the course of a month, he and a friend who'd never met us before spent hours in the basement, puzzling over our finicky boiler. They freely gave their knowledge, tools, and time to our family, and since they deal with boilers in their profession, we received professional expertise. They wouldn't accept payment, so we received that help for nothing but a few loaves of bread, maple syrup, and a handful of heart-shaped cookies.
In the earliest hours of Valentine's Day, as the wind howled around the corners of our house and the temperatures dropped to nearly 20 below, even without the wind chill, I was awake and thinking of the water running through the kitchen pipes, the people who donate money for those with rotten insurance, of the steady roar of our basement boiler, and of the stunted shape of Valentine's Day in our culture. Yes, heart-shaped cookies and lollipops are a good bit of fluff and fun, but the selfless love of others is a nourishing root.
So I bear witness and give thanks.
I've always admired children with curly hair and coveted one for my own, even while knowing that the other side of the fence is having to subdue curls flying all amuck. When the surprise of some wispy, little curls appeared on this boy, I was smitten and couldn't steel myself to chop them off, which is why the poor child has had a mullet for six months now.
Last week he woke up clearly annoyed by the hair flopping into his eyes, though, so I bucked up and grabbed the scissors. (Photo credit for any of the following pictures that have a part of my body included goes to Millie.)
As soon as he saw the scissors, he covered his ears in distress and kept them there for the next five minutes. Knowing my aptitude with sharp objects, I considered this a wise move on his part.
Zeke's old enough to sit still for haircuts now, and I'd forgotten what an impossibility it is to cut a wiggler's hair. I broke out some candy, even though it's mid-Lent, but even that didn't help. Instead of lunging away from the scissors, he just lunged toward the candy, which amounts to the same thing, at least where haircut quality is concerned.
Anyway, it's done now, and those little, golden curls have been tucked away, leaving this clean-cut fellow behind.
And all things considered, I think he's as pleased as punch with his new haircut...
all the children with The Big Duck,
Nixie taking in the pier at Port Jefferson,
the best red boat,
my favorite man,
and children reading books I bought from a librarian to keep them busy on the drive back to John's parents' house. So that's something.
I made some sweets to give away and then took pictures, as is my weakness.
These little lollipops were easy and fun.
They packaged up nicely.
Little chocolate hearts for garnishing cream puffs:
A load of sugar cookies with pink royal icing:
They look fine, don't they?
The moral of this story is Always Procrastinate. I should have let these sit for another 24 hours before wrapping them up because on V-day morning, they were crying pink tears. We gave them away, anyway, looks be darned. (Who can turn down a mournful cookie?)
Valentine's morning was less leisurely than normal this year, due to it being a Sunday, but there was still time for tablecloths, pink shake, and pink pancakes.
Before I sifted powdered sugar onto them, Zeke had fun toasting the family with his stack.
After church, I forced the children to stand still for two seconds. So red! So happy!
Then, after crashing on the couch, I roused myself to make food for our evening feast. While Millie made cream puffs, I attempted homemade pierogi and all the fixings for the first time. They're time-consuming to prepare, at least when you're making 75 of them, but I think I boosted the percentage of Polish blood that flows through my veins in the process, which is its own reward.
For sure, I also boosted my poundage. Oh, yum.
I'd made farmer's cheese that morning to mix into a potato/onion/garlic filling.
(Birdie took a couple of these pictures.)
Fill, then boil, then fry in butter, then eat.
We invited Mopsy up for a balanced supper of greasy Polish food-- pierogi, kielbasa, sauerkraut, caramelized onions-- and So Much Sugar. I'd made gumdrops the day before, which, paired with Millie's cream puffs and all the Valentine's candy that McGamma mailed up, made for a feasty feast, indeed.