Valentine Frenzy
Monday, 13 February 2012

I don’t know about you, my friends-across-the-globe, but my house began preparing for Valentines Day around, oh, the middle of January. For whatever reason, it’s one of my daughters’ favorite holidays; I’d like to think it’s because of their passionate love for their fellow men, but I suspect it has more to do with the abundance of chocolate being handed out. For a household that shops pretty exclusively at farmers’ markets and Whole Foods, the glut of Hershey kisses and Sweethearts falling from the sky must seem not unlike manna from heaven all those thousands of years ago, and Valentines Day rivals only Halloween in its possibility – nay, promise – of high fructose corn syrup for everyone.

To be fair, my daughters have just as much fun preparing and giving gifts as they do receiving them, and they’ve been painting and drawing and writing and crafting lo these many weeks now. And I try hard to act like most other moms and not wrinkle my nose at the Sweet Tarts or the weird-tasting little hearts with words on them, because I don’t want my kids to be complete outcasts at such a young age.

Plenty of time for that later.

So when the girls asked if they could put a piece of candy on their Valentine cards for some friends, I said yes. And I even let them put on some peppermint Hershey Kisses we had left over from Christmas (hey, they’re still good.) and didn’t buy the Whole Foods 365 Brand-version.

Ooh, is there one?

No, we did it. And Cora is giving away Scratch-N-Sniff Valentines that are coated in what I am sure are phthalate-filled scent pockets. And when I go to their schools for their respective parties and watch all the kids rip open the cards, I won’t even try to remind them to recycle all that paper, for heaven’s sake. I have to let my daughters dabble their toes in the mainstream current sometimes, after all.

I do see evidence, though, that I am rubbing off on my girls. I told them we could make something to give away to a few friends, and asked what they’d like to do, thinking it’d be something like “rice krispie treats” or “cookies”.

“Well,” Cora, my four-year-old said, “I’d sure like to try those lotion bars you told us about a while ago.” “Ooh, yeah!” Maddie said, “And I’d like to make a few melted crayon hearts from recycled crayons!”

Be still my heart. They had me at “lotion bars”.

So last week we made these awesomelotion bars from one of my favorite sites, Crunchy Betty (and Leslie, yes, you, I swear this post was written before you emailed me – just had to drop that promise in here!). I’d earmarked them over the holidays and when I found some heart-shaped silicone molds at a thrift store for ninety-nine cents, it seemed like a match made in granola heaven. They are a hard lotion bar, perfect for little hands to rub on dry winter skin. Many nights Cora complains that her legs are itchy, and while I love watching a four-year-old try to scratch adorably through some flannel footie pjs as much as the next person, I wanted to find something that Cora could use herself while not greasing up her entire room. The girls got to choose which scent they put into the lotion bars – Maddie chose jasmine essential oil while Cora went with vanilla.

The bars have been a big hit; Cora’s handed a couple out to friends already and I even caught her explaining – and demonstrating – how and when to use them to one of her friends. Which was cute enough, but then her friend ran up to her mom and said, “Mommy, can I go put some pjs on? My legs are itching and I need to rub them with my heart” and made it that much more adorkable.

We then turned our attention to the crayon hearts: crayon bits of different colors, heated at low heat in a silicone mold until they run together and then, when cooled, make a truly psychedelic crayon. We’ve made a few of those: Cora assiduously peels the crayon bits while Maddie arranges them in a mold, both of them carefully stacking the paper wrapper shreds in a neat pile to the side.

Later on, I started to clean up and sweep the paper bits into the recycling bin. Maddie frowned and slapped her hand down on the counter to stop me. “Mom, what are you doing? These paper bits aren’t ready to be recycled; can’t you see I’m using them to make jewelry? They’re still useful!” And she shook her head and actually tsk’d me as she went back to stringing wrapper remnants on curling ribbon.

Perhaps I don’t have to worry about my daughters becoming too mainstream.

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