I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day. I don't like feeling forced to do/make/buy something on a specific day and have that something be the symbol of my love/caring/affection. February 14 is arbitrary and I don't like the pressure. My hubby doesn't tend to remember the day, so we are even on that score.
Imagine my surprise to find myself mother to a child in love with Valentine's Day. He loves every aspect of it -- the anticipation, making his cards or in the case this year, bookmarks, decorating, baking special treats, cards that he receives -- the whole deal. Back in January when we were driving on the highway going towards Portsmouth, I remarked that traffic was heavy for a Saturday afternoon. His reply, "Maybe everybody is going to the craft store to get their supplies to make their Valentine's cards. Or they could be going to the sticker store to get new Valentine's stickers." Excuse me? This is my child?
On Wednesday as we were walking to the bus stop, he asked me if I had gotten him a present. I told him that I had not. He didn't believe me. "It's OK Mom. I know you did. If you don't want me to look for it while you are at work, I won't." The thing is, I hadn't. It didn't cross my mind. Clearly, I needed to get with the program. I had one day to do it. His teacher had put a note in his folder saying that all kids could bring a special Valentine's snack to school on Thursday. Special snack, that I could handle.
I had picked up a magazine with cookie cutter heart shaped sandwich cookies on the cover. I thought I could whip those up in no time. After seeing him off on the bus, I came back in and went straight to the kitchen. First I made a batch of blond brownies (blondies?) to take to my team meeting and washed the dishes from the night before. Then I made the dough for the pink cookies. I added up a bit of raspberry flavor to the dough. The recipe called for dividing the batter in 3 balls and adding in varying amounts of red food color to get different gradations of pink to red cookies. Forget that. I made one big pink batch. Next up was the chocolate batter. I added a bit of espresso powder and liked the results.
While the batter chilled, I hauled out my cookie cutters. I have 17 different Christmas tree shapes, 4 different sized stars, various zoo and farm animals, sea creatures, hands and feet, Easter and Halloween theme shapes...could I find a heart in among the lot? No. Now what. I've got the batter ready and the butter for the filling softening and no heart shape cookie cutter. On to Plan B. Cook dinner, shower and leave for work a bit early so that I could run into the kitchen shop before getting to the office. In the kitchen store I bought a set of pirate themed cookie cutters that include a treasure chest. That seemed right up Selim's ally. Valentine's present for him, check.
Valentine's Day morning -- Selim wakes up early and asks me if I want my card in bed. He can hardly contain himself. Where does he get this? It is a mystery. I drag myself out of the warm covers and go into the kitchen where I have his card and present. He doesn't mind that I didn't have time to wrap it. He is happy with my choice and I am glad that I did not disappoint him. He gives me my card (a heart shaped fountain, what could be more beautiful?) and a big hug. He is just the best. I am spared the special snack not being ready because Teagan gave him a chocolate dipped strawberry the night before and he saved it to bring to school. I stick a purple heart on the container so that he can find it easily in his lunch sack.
At the bus stop he gives me one last hug and kiss and races up the bus steps and makes his way to his seat. He is convinced that this will be the best Valentine's Day ever. I told him earlier that there will be a special snack for him when he gets home. With no time to waste, I head back to the kitchen to roll out the cookies. I simplify the recipe and only cut out two sizes rather than three. The additional step of freezing the cookies for 15 minutes before baking adds time to this project. The morning is going by quickly. The pink cookies bake up and lose much of their color. Oh well.
Since the baking time is dependent on size, I can't mix and match on the trays. The whole thing gets way more time consuming than I was prepared for. At least they are cute all lined up to cool.
By the time I get to the filling, I'm about done. I have bits of cookie batter all over the counter and powdered sugar everywhere from the filling. I'm getting tired of the project and ready for my nap. I can feel my anxiety level rising. Eventually I turn the single cookies into filled little sandwiches. Done.
It is already 11:00 in the morning. I don't have time to nap and make dinner. I call Nedim and prepare him that dinner will be his responsibility. He doesn't seem too distressed. I set the oven timer for an hour and stretch out on the day bed. I find it hard to fall asleep with my mind racing and the sugar from sampling singing in my system. Eventually I am able to quiet my mind and body. I'm surprised when I wake up to the beep beep of the timer. Switch gears from housewife Mom to working woman and leave the cookies on the kitchen table for my boys. Off I go.
I am unprepared for my surprise when I open the front door at 12:30 this morning trying to be as quiet as I can so that I don't wake everybody up -- and find my husband standing on the other side with a single rose in his hand. "Happy Valentine's Day" he whispers and draws me in with a big hug and kiss.