Easy Valentine’s Day

Host this simple prep day for kids, by kids.

Along with my Mighty Girls Class, I am planning on hosting a simple Valentine’s Day class for our co-op this semester. We have been in this co-op for one semester now, so we are obligated to hold at least one class ourselves. I don’t mind; I’ve been teaching since I was a kid—at camp, at college, in schools, wherever—and really enjoy it. I just have to step out of myself sometimes and “unlearn” my student teaching training to really flow and have fun with homeschoolers and unschoolers.

For this class, I plan on providing several Valentine card designs for the kids to choose from so they can create Valentines to give to everyone at our upcoming party. This will be super simple; if you can’t think of any ideas, Family Fun (now known as Spoonfull) is always a good place to get them. You can do more searches online to determine what you want to do as well. Making hearts with googly eyes and accordion hands is always a favorite for little ones!

I’ll also be providing punch and a treat, though I haven’t determined what yet, and if I have enough boxes we may make Valentine boxes to put our cards in as well. Many people assume that as homeschoolers we don’t get to do things like this very often, but on the contrary we have even more opportunities. We participate in a couple of card exchanges in our home, including a national homeschooling one that we do by mail. My daughter was pretty excited to receive her cards and treats from Alaska and other states last year!

I was thinking about renting Charlie Brown’s Valentine special, but that might take up too much time; instead, I may read a book to the kids, such as I Will Kiss You or Winnie the Pooh’s Valentine. I might teach a Valentine song, too.

I probably sound like a Valentine nut; I suppose I am. I don’t know why; I know how commercial the holiday has become and I’m a big anti-commercial mama. I just love the excuse to be romantic, I guess. I even make an annual countdown calendar for my little girl with various Valentine treats for her to enjoy. It’s really simple, too; just use a craft storage box or any container you have, create 14 separate compartments, and stick little paper hearts with activities on them—like “Play a game of hearts” or “Make punch”—to do with your child. I sneak a candy or tiny toy beneath every other heart or so.

Bad gifts for your crunchy lover

You can’t go the easy route when it comes to crunch.

If your significant other is a crunchy type who loves granola and DIY laundry soap and recycled flip-flops, you, my friend, are SOL when it comes to traditional gift-giving. No matter the holiday or special occasion, those Zales commercials and other sparkly!stuff ads aren’t going to matter one bit to you (or especially your sweetheart). Here’s a breakdown of traditional gifts that you should avoid and their alternatives.

DIAMONDS

You think: “They’re forever. He/She will love them!”

Your lover thinks: “These blood diamonds probably caused the death of a little boy or girl in Africa.”

Alternative: Something hemp, homemade, or both. If it’s from your own hands, he or she will totally dig it. Weaving pieces of your hair into it, however, could creep some people out.

FLOWERS

You think: “They’re beautiful, just like my soulmate!”

Your lover thinks: “These are probably pesticide-laden, funding massive ecological disaster, not locally grown, and definitely not fair trade.”

Alternative: Buy him or her something that can grow. Better yet, get a whole seed kit and grow something together. Your lover will dub it a romantic victory garden, and you can pluck herbs from it to make dinner at home together once they bloom. (You could even start the garden weeks earlier in order to present your love with something already growing.)

CHOCOLATE

You think: “It’s sweet and delicious. What could go wrong?”

Your lover thinks: “It’s not fair trade and some poor farmer or child had to pick it and be worked like a slave for pennies just for this box of sweets.” The same may go for coffee.

Alternative: Buy from a known fair-trade certified source (it should contain the fair-trade label as well) if you can; if you don’t know of any or it’s too late, why not go to a favorite local eatery for something locally-grown and vegan, or fair trade, or whatever your love likes best? Chances are there will be a delicious treat somewhere—or you could even hit the place up about where to shop for ingredients to make a delicious fair trade chocolate cake or shakes at home.

LEATHER OR FUR

You think: “It’s practical and pretty, and he/she will look wonderful in it.”

Your lover thinks: “An animal died for this piece of clothing.”

Alternative: Stick with cotton and other non-animal sources. There are plenty of sexy and beautiful pieces of clothing that do not contain animals; pleather is another alternative. Buying fair trade clothing is also probably important here.

Valentine's Day is creepy

Prove it with some of this eerily-suitable cards.

There’s something about syrupy sweet about Valentine’s Day that begs you to be subversive. Huge boxes of chocolate need some cayenne pepper. Romantic movies need a follow up with too many kids, boredom and midlife crises. But most of all, adorable Valentine’s messages need some implication of murder and cannibalism.

Good luck we have history to look towards to find our Valentine’s Day sadism.

Over at parenting site babble, Sunnychanel has posted an article titled “20 Totally Creepy & Odd Vintage Valentine’s Cards.”

All of the cards are particularly creepy because most of them feature cute, roly-poly kids with sharp knives or intentions of cannibalism in the cards’ messages. Some of them illustrate some pretty creepy situations—like a baby angel grilling hearts over an open flame, and a well-dressed woman buying one.

A few others feature bondage and worm eating. A gleeful-looking cartoon cat has his arms bound behind his back with the words “I’m bound to be yours if you’ll be mine.” I guess they were pretty much into the literal back then.

Another goofy card includes a picture of a crying boy sitting on the rock with the caption “Nobody loves me! Guess I’ll just go outside and eat fuzzy worms!” The saddest part of the valentine is that said fuzzy worm is crying in sympathy with the boy. The worm’s only repayment for his kindness will be his demise. Seriously, to whom did you send a card like this? You’d sound both pathetic and insane in one fell swoop.

Another card I can’t imagine sending features an adorable black-and-white puppy with a bow around his neck staring down the barrel of a giant gun. The front of the card is illustrated with the words “Aw gee, there ain’t no use in living—.” The receiver is horrified until she opens the card and the little puppy rides the gun’s bullet with his sweetheart with the caption “—without a little lovin’!” Those two dogs--and the sender--definitely dodged a bullet—har, har.

Although these cards are certainly funny to look at, they also provide a surprisingly accurate commentary about how politically correct attitudes have changed since these cards were originally produced. I think it’s a good thing that we’re more cognizant about rape culture—it seems particularly appropriate to keep that kind of nasty innuendo out of valentines—but also about depictions that could offend. It’s certainly a strange that we needed a wake-up call about this, though; when did anybody think they’d get some smooches with a card with a girl boiling in a black kettle?

Women: Alone again on Valentine's Day?

Be sad! says Hollywood

Almost every movie or television show I’ve ever seen gives women who are alone on Valentine’s Day a sad trombone. Wah-wah. We’ve seen the working woman who is alone on Valentine’s Day because she’s such a bitch; the sad woman who has been dumped because she’s so dopey; the woman too mousy and frumpy to even turn the losers’ heads. Valentine’s Day is the perfect framework for punishing single women on-screen.

Single women are certainly punished in society, and there’s no day worse to be a single woman on Valentine’s Day. She is pities herself in movies, usually sobbing into her wine in her pajamas—think, Bridget Jones’ Diaries—or is pitied by all of those around her. Apparently, 15% of American women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day, probably so they don’t have to endure the sad puppy eyes from smug, married co-workers.

I don’t know that married people treat single people that badly, but movies certainly would tell us that they do. Real people can’t think that singledom can be that bad; married people are in the minority in this country. In romantic comedies, however, couples are always setting up the single gal with nasty, un-dateable men, so secure are they in their coupledom and its superiority.

And that’s what Valentine’s Day and romantic comedies are all about, really. They extol the virtues of couplehood: people in couples get flowers and candies and nice dinners, and single people get flannel pajamas and vats of ice cream and eyes swollen from crying. Both institutions are supposed to be universally beloved by women, but why? Both are sort of like the television shows on television back in 1945 that demonstrated a woman’s proper place as part of a family of four, plus dog and dishwasher. Haven’t we moved on?

We already know that a woman can buy flowers for herself, but also chocolates and nice dinners. Alone, she can eat the whole thing and spill on herself, and not feel desperate and pathetic like the girls in the rom coms. She should feel more relaxed. She should be glad she’s single because she doesn’t want to wear lingerie anyway, particularly gaudy and mis-sized lingerie picked out by her boyfriend. 

More persuasive than Valentine’s Day or rom coms to the grabbing of a mate is when single people have to take out the trash every time in the middle of a frigid winter. But then again, that could just take a roommate.

Valentine Astrology: Why you should never get married on Valentine's Day!

There's a reason September and October are coveted times for marrying. These months contain dates in the Libra season. In astrology, Libra is the sun sign of love and partnership.

When is Valentine's Day? It falls during the time of Aquarius. Just so you know, the sun sign of Aquarius is the MOST emotionally detached sun energy in the entire Zodiac. If you marry during this time, be prepared for your marriage to become rather cold and devoid of lovey-dovey closeness. When an event is laden with Aquarius energy, there might arise confusion over how to express or even acknowledge emotion.

Furthermore, since Aquarius energy is known in astrology to be more focused on platonic bonding, the romance could eventually shift to a glorified friendship.  Needless to say, cursing an matrimonial event with an Aquarius date can totally ruin the chance for hot and steamy sex.

The great thing about this February is that the moon will be in Scorpio, reducing the Aquarius need for detachment. In astrology, Scorpio is the sign of sex and emotional closeness. That means this Valentine's Day will be the perfect time to cuddle and express intense passion.

Feel free to discuss marriage and even go shopping for rings. If asked to marry, feel free to offer an ecstatic  "yes."

However, I, as a five-year student of astrology, beg of you to plan the actual date of marriage for maybe June or July, when the sun is in Cancer or Leo, which are committed, familial and romantic signs. Also, consider everyone's favorite days: the Venus-ruled late days of September or first three weeks of October.

 

 

Valentine's Day Isn't About How Much Money You Spend.

With a little imagination and creativity, you can make your sweetie happy without breaking the bank.

It's February, which means it's again that time of the year: the time to show your significant other exactly how much he or she means to you.  Depending on the relationship this can mean jewelry, lingerie, roses, chocolate, perfume or cologne, or a romantic dinner out. Whichever you choose, you can be certain that the price for these things goes up -- way up. In some, cities the price of roses doubles. And so, does the price of chocolates, if only because it is encased in a heart-shaped box.

In looking at the price of love infographic from Mint.com, Zales, Tiffany's, and Blue Nile make out the best from Valentine's Day spending, but Victoria's Secret, 1-800-Flowers, and FTD can't complain either I suppose. It's also interesting to note that it seems that Phoenix, Arizona is labeled the most romantic city -- as far as Valentine's Day spending goes. Closely behind is Houston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Even New York made the list.

That said, there are ways for you to save money on Valentine's Day while still making the grade with your significant other. If you're planning on buying roses, skip the online flower retailer. Yes, it is convenient, but you're paying plenty for that convenience. Instead, go to one of your local big-box stores. Walmart, Sam's Club, and Costco all have great floral departments where you can get quality roses on the cheap. Avoid delivery charges by delivery the flowers yourself.

Instead of going out to an expensive restaurant, buy a bottle of wine, a couple of lobster tails, and cook dinner yourself. Later, put on a Al Green CD and dance in the living room.

The most important thing to remember: Despite all the commercialism, Valentine's Day isn't about how much money you spend. With a little imagination and creativity, you can make your sweetie happy without breaking the bank.

Married Couples: Hide out at a hotel for Valentine's Day

Aww. The newlywed years. Those are the days when Feb. 14 means drunken kissing, giddiness, googly eyes and hiding out in the boudoir satisfying each other for hours.  Fast forward 10 years later and the weight of marriage, the whining of children and the burden of bills reduce Valentine's Day festivities to a quick peck on the cheek --  and maybe a small box of stale candy picked up at the Gas Mart during a fill-up of Unleaded #87.

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

Even in the recession, it's possible for couples to have a romantic Valentine's celebration at deeply discounted rates.  Since travel and reservations have been down at some hotels, many are offering special deals to entice couples to rent a room, even if they live just a few miles away.

Don't worry about spending your utility bill money trying to live it up at the Trump Hotel, though. Maybe, consider three-star hotels such as the Holiday Inn, Residence Inn, or Comfort Inn. These places aren't grand, but I've found you can get a lot of freebies and amenities when you stay overnight on Valentine's Day.

For example, the Residence Inn is offering couples a free bottle of sparkling cider, chocolates and a buffet dinner with a suite reservation. No, it's not wine nor a box of Godiva, but, excuse me, it's free!

Many hotels also offer free massages.

Regardless of what bonuses you get for camping out with your spouse all day at a hotel. The main focus is alone time and restoring the intimacy in your relationship.

Sometimes, all you need is a fresh setting and a little pampering to revive the love.  

Make Valentine's Day Romantic Movie Night!

If you’re in the mood to save money, Valentine’s Day does not have to bankrupt your meager cash stash. Opt for an evening in, watching classic love stories on DVD, Blu-Ray or via Netflix streaming while cuddling up to your one-and-only.

Here are some classic romantic films that will make you and your Valentine gush over one another.  (No, I’m not recommending the wretched movie actually named “Valentine’s Day”)

Five Great Movie Options for Valentine’s Day

  1. When Harry Met Sally.  Despite the out-of-fashion clothing and the fact that Billy Crystal is like 120 years old now, this movie never loses its charm.  It strips away the notion of what a perfect romance should be and looks at what happens when two flawed people fall helplessly into a friendship that is so precious it can’t help but shift to love. Aww.
  2. Ghost.  How did a movie plot so implausible turn out to be so sexy and touching? Demi Moore's and Patrick Swayze’s efforts to reach beyond death and the afterlife to love and protect each other are still cry-worthy.
  3. Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare might be dead, but the relationships he conjured are still compelling. This story of young, obsessed lovers on a collision course with family grudges never goes out of style. I prefer Director Zeffirelli’s version; however, some like the more modern film starring Leo DiCaprio.
  4. Something’s Gotta Give. For the older couples out there, this romance starring Jack Nicholson as a fading playboy alongside Diane Keaton affirms that love can blossom at any age.
  5. Titanic.  If love can survive death and drowning, it goes on forever as this brilliant piece by James Cameron attests.

While some people like the sappy movie “The Notebook,” I find it hard for more recent films like that to compare to the more creative output from prior decades.

Enjoy!