Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy [Homemade] Valentine’s Day <3

If you are a last minute holiday gift-giver like myself, you might still be looking for some ideas for the big V-Day tomorrow.  Of course, I’m not talking about running out to the store to buy a card and some chocolates (although those are nice, too).  And I’m not really a jewelry sort of person. 


I’m talking about whipping something up with what you might already have in your refrigerator and making a homemade card from your crafting supplies. 


Because it doesn’t (have to) take much to show our love to those who really matter.  And love is all we need to celebrate Valentine’s Day together. 


So, if you’d like a few quick ideas that won’t take much time or money, I’d like to share what we have planned for Valentine’s Day this year. 


The boys and I prepped a yummy, healthy (and all pink!) breakfast for tomorrow morning. 


homemade Valentine's Day breakfast



We will probably serve some eggs on the side to make it a heartier meal.  This could also be served as a Valentine’s Day snack at any time of the day. 


(We got the idea from an issue of High Five magazine.  The recipes are at the end of the post….)


We also make homemade Valentines every year for classmates, grandparents, and other special people in our lives. 


I usually Google some fun ideas and this year I found three fun animal quotes and decided to print out pictures and have the kids cut them out and glue them on heart-shaped cards (which they also traced and cut out) and then write the quotes on the cards.  Here’s what they looked like:


homemade Valentine's Day cards - toad, bee, fish



Joe and I also make homemade Valentines for the kids each year.  We always include a few simple coupons that take hardly any time to make and are easy to follow through on but mean so much to the boys. 


We actually haven’t finished ours yet for this year but here is an example of one of the coupons that was leftover from last year:


homemade Valentine's Day coupon for kids



Some other coupon ideas are:

Get out of one chore free

Schedule a date night with Mommy or Daddy

Choose an extra book to read at bedtime


Whatever you choose to do, I hope that you give and receive LOVE tomorrow!  <3


Valentine's Day Heart Snacks
  1. heart-shaped cookie cutter
  2. whole wheat bread
  3. spreadable cream cheese
  4. strawberry or raspberry jelly
  5. sliced ham
  1. Use a cookie cutter to cut heart-shaped pieces out of the bread. If desired, toast the hearts.
  2. Spread cream cheese on each heart.
  3. Top with either jelly or a slice of heart-shaped ham (also cut with the cookie cutter).
Life From Scratch
Valentine's Day Berry Smoothie
  1. 1 cup yogurt
  2. 2 cups milk
  3. 2 frozen bananas
  4. 2 cups frozen raspberries
  5. 2 cups frozen strawberries
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few times. Blend on high for one minute, or until frozen fruit is all incorporated and smoothie is smooth 😉
Life From Scratch
Lucy and the boys

Experiencing Life and Death

Our family had to say goodbye to our eleven-year-old dog, Lucy, this past week and it was way harder than I expected it to be.  Lucy was our first and only family pet and Joe and I got her just after we bought our first house together and three and a half years before we had kids.  So Lucy was a big part of our family and had been around for as long as the kids could remember.  Even for us, Joe and I realized that Lucy had been in our lives for a full third of the number of years we have been alive!  Yet, as with so many things in life, I am finding that the kids are showing me the way and also providing me with the comfort I need to deal with my grief. 


It is my belief – based on my observations of our kids as they have experienced life and death over the past few years – that when children are raised in an environment where they are educated about life cycles but also are not shielded from the death portion of the cycle, they will be more respectful of life around them and more resilient when they need to be. 


Over the past few years on our homestead, the boys have witnessed and even participated in the humane harvesting of some of our rabbits and chickens.  Just before we begin, we all say a prayer of thanksgiving for the animals’ sacrifice before harvesting them and putting the meat away in the freezer.  And when we serve the rabbit or chicken meat at dinner, the boys are both thankful and proud of their role in providing meat for our family.  


Similarly, as the boys perform their daily chores, they realize that by feeding the chickens and rabbits and helping them to grow today they are helping to put eggs and meat on the table tomorrow.  It’s a cycle of life that is more natural than we might be led to believe if we were not raised on a farm or around animals.


When we experienced what I like to call “The Great Chicken Massacre of 2016” back in the spring, I was the one to walk outside and find three chickens dead and mangled and two chickens badly hurt but still alive.  I couldn’t stop the tears from coming and I felt intense sadness for the chickens that I knew were in pain and would need help from us to stop that pain.  But the boys were there to comfort me and explain in more practical terms that this is the reality of life and death when you are raising farm animals.  And they were also the first ones to offer to help reinforce the chicken coop so that a predator could not gain access to our chickens again.  They respect and protect life whenever possible but also realize that death is an unavoidable part of life.


As we walked out of the vet’s office after being reassured that it was indeed time to let Lucy go, tears were streaming down my face and all three boys looked up at me with wide, caring eyes and then closed around Lucy and me in one big group hug.  On the drive home, they asked many questions about what was happening with Lucy and how she would die and what would happen to her afterwards.  (These sort of discussions about life and death are always much harder on me than they are on the kids.)  Our oldest son suggested a location for a burial plot in our woods and offered to help dig the hole.  The younger two offered to gather stones to mark the spot so that we could always remember where Lucy was buried.  And in the week that followed that vet appointment before we returned for the final appointment, I often found the boys petting Lucy and talking to her lovingly, saying goodbye in their own way. 


It is my strong belief and my deepest hope that because our children have been respectfully exposed to life and death from an early age, when they grow up and are faced with things like factory farms using inhumane slaughter practices or the overfishing of our rivers and oceans or human/animal cruelty of any kind, they will know immediately that these practices are wrong and might even have the courage to stand up and speak up and do something about it.  And when they buy meat at the grocery store or farmers’ market, they will understand and respect where that meat came from and be thankful that they are able to enjoy it in a meal.  And when they are faced with hard decisions or situations in their life, they will be more resilient and will be able to see the big picture of life and death on this earth.  We’re already pretty sure that at least one of the boys is going to be a biologist or ecologist or geologist…or something else with -ologist at the end of the name!  One of the other two is currently trying to decide between being a farmer or a priest.  Tough decision, kiddo.  But seriously, whatever they decide to do with their lives, I know that they will be (because they already are) some of the most caring, empathetic, respectful human beings that I have ever known.    


If you are nodding your head to anything that I’ve said here or just want to read a similar perspective in the news, check out this article by Joel Salatin that appeared in Mother Earth News magazine earlier this year.  He puts it much more eloquently than I did and with more experience behind his words.


Rest in Peace, Lucy.  We will remember and love you always.

last day - Lucy, Joe, and the boys


we miss you, Lucy!