Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day season is once again staring us in the face (in case you hadn’t noticed the explosion of pink and red and all things chocolate-y at a grocer near you).

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I’m a girly girl, and have always felt the thrill of being a certain someone’s sweetheart when a spray of expertly arranged red roses arrived to my workplace or appeared with a flourish on the dining room table. Not to take anything away from those who deign to acknowledge the day, dismissing it as nothing more than a Hallmark holiday. To each their own. But for me, it’s all in the gesture – there’s something special about being made to feel special in the eyes of another.

As we’ve welcomed children – and the expenses that come with raising them the way we intend to – Valentine’s Day flowers have become an unnecessary luxury, a representation of money better spent on something practical and lasting. My husband’s been slow to embrace this pragmatic view, though he’s beginning to come around.

He found it only slightly less baffling when I asked him to skip the box of Russell Stovers this year (not the heart shaped one, mind you, but the one in the rectangle box, filled with raspberry chews and Roman nougats). I’ve made a pact with a fellow Vestavia mom to be bikini beach body ready by June, and as anyone who’s seen me hoofing it out on the elliptical at Lifetime Fitness can attest, I intend to follow through – curses on those obscenely delicious chocolate caramels!

Indeed the day has become more about spending time with the kids, making crafty valentines for them to share with their little friends – crafts that are clever enough yet not too hard for little hands to create. Our personal favorites right now are flowers that hold Dum-Dum lollipops and Tootsie Roll Rockets. When that becomes old hat, we’ll switch to our old stand-by – heart-shaped fish – three hearts artfully arranged equal one lusciously-lipped aquatic vertebrate.

At 5 and 4, the kids still get a kick out of adorning the kitchen windows with hearts of every shape, size and color and stringing streamers through each doorway. And as long as it keeps bringing joy to their faces, we’ll do it – no matter how old they are.

As for me, an early bedtime for the little ones, a nice dinner in and a new release on Netflix are about all it will take to make this Valentine’s Day one for the books.

Wishing you a V-Day filled with just enough sweetness to your liking,

Rebecca