This post is neither sponsored by or affiliated with Target, though I think that would be awesome.

How do you make Valentine’s Day festive for your family when:
– your littles have already overdosed on treats from school, church, and their (generous) grandparents?
– you are no longer newlyweds but parents of a kid in college and preschoolers (broke and tired)?

For us, it was a snowballing idea. It started with me having a few project-less days this week to make big homemaking kind of plans, like a steakhouse-ish dinner and fancy dessert: (actually, all this stuff was really simple):


baked potato toppings

iron skillet broiled steak

my plate…yummy!

almost 9 months here…I unpacked the good candlestick holders!

guacamole didn’t go with everything else, but it’s KK’s favorite…

randa asked for seconds!

Rod said it was “THE best ever!” steak. Woohoo!

Fancy dinner, check.

We’d also decided to *finally* take the girls to Target to spend their Christmas gift card from Uncle Rick (pictured from his visit in June)

We were in the door no more than two minutes when Daddy had to take Kaity to the bathroom…because she was misbehaving. With her birthday coming, she has a big case of the Gimmes combined with symptoms of The Whopping Whine, so Daddy needed to get her attention and remind her to Just. Be. Grateful.

(to be fair, he’s had to remind me of that a few times lately as well).

I perused the dollar bins and limited myself to one package of cards. I love sending mail. Have I mentioned that?

Then Randa and I strode down the party aisle to look, in vain, for Spider Man party plates for KK’s fiesta. I think it needs to be a combo year. Spider Man Cake? Auntie Rona is all over that. Spider Man pinata? Mamaw and Grandpa are on it. But Toy Story cake plates and accessories will be present as well. Our Kaity…she is nothing if not diverse.

While we waited for KK and Daddy, we glanced over at a huge empty section of floor. Our Myrtle Beach Target is preparing for something our Homewood Target accomplished about a year and a half ago: fresh groceries. Hoorah for MB Target! And horrah for Miranda, who decided to dance:

…and was almost immediately joined by a sweet new “friend”~

who said: “I want to spin, too” and called Randa her friend. That little girl has one awesome future ahead of her!

~

One of the things that makes me smile in a big, heart-burst-with-love kind of way is when my girls talk, well, like me. KK, for example, properly uses adverbs more than many adults. “I want it badly!” “I’ll do it quickly!” Have I mentioned she’ll be four next week? She rocks my English-degree world.

When we caught up with each other and walked to the movie section, the girls’ conversation with each other included the words “disappointed” and “several.” I just love the way they talk!

When we reached the movies, we began the delicate negotiation. the movie *I* wanted them to pick was Lady and The Tramp, released from its cell, er, the Disney vault, for a short time. The girls have seen and enjoyed it, but weren’t showing much interest. AND, Target’s price was 32.99. Nuh-uh. Not when I can get it $10 cheaper on Amazon, gift card or no.

As the dance of “let them pick whatever crap they want” versus “guide them lovingly and manipulatively toward something cheaper/higher quality/less annoying” commenced, (let us all note here that there is not much MORE annoying than a Barbie movie, and Randa wants them all) this was the scene:

KK: Look! Look what I found! (proudly holds out the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the enthusiasm for which we have Paige to blame. I kind of hate it myself).

Randa: I don’t really care for that movie. The boat scene freaks me out!

KK: Then close your eyes!

– commence Mommy and Daddy cracking up in the aisle, while KK threw her choice in the cart along side Barbie: Mermaid Tale.

Regarding our Valentine’s plans, one of my best friends paid me a super-lovely compliment:

And for the record, you ROCK at making any and every occasion festive!

She likely has no idea just how much that compliment means to me. I worry so much about making things special for my kids because I am still feeling the stress and emptiness of having moved so far from all that was dear and familiar to them. And in spite of most people telling me “They’re kids! They’re resilient!” and in spite of them having so much fun with the lives they currently have, including preschool and occasional impromptu trips to the beach, they feel their losses. In particular, they miss their brother and sister, their Gramma and Papa, their little (and big) cousins, their aunts and uncles, and their friends. They miss their old house and the places we used to go, whether it’s the library or our church or the park across the street. Do they experience the loss like I do? Perhaps not. But when they ask to Skype their friends or to fly and go see them, this mama’s heart knows they are feeling it.

So I strive to create joy even as I am striving to choose joy for myself. A little fancier dinner than usual…a few more sweets than usual… a trip to Target at the end of the day…taking the scenic route down Ocean Boulevard instead of the easier Kings Highway… posing for photos to send in thank you cards…

We don’t have to go somewhere fancy to celebrate love. We can celebrate it at Target, in the car, or at home. The most important thing is the love.

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