As we were laying in bed last night, I told JP this was maybe our best Valentine's ever. It was just so delightfully "us"- where we are right now- the kids, family, excitement, giggles, tears, snuggles, kisses, sweet moments, cost-effective lunch dates, and incredibly thoughtful heart-shaped homemade pizzas. It was us.
First up, themed outfits and a table decorated from the $1 spot bins at Target.
The kids were pumped. Claire in particular was excited to wear her ladybug outfit she got from Papa and Gigi for Christmas with her beloved black "fancy shoes." Landon was not as into the clothes, but did deign to change into a red shirt when I asked it as a favor.
I tried to get pictures with the kids, but Claire only wanted to show the camera her sparkly headband and Landon only cracked a smile when JP made his 15th disgusting fart joke and my smile was just on the edge of turning into a grimace.
The kids had their little bags of Valentine's ready to go and were in the middle of putting on their shoes and trying to recall whether they'd brushed their teeth or not and I was lingering at home even though I really needed to get on my way to work and JP was getting the lunches together and it was just such a lovely snapshot of our morning. No different from any other morning with its usual "Claire, FOCUS, get your socks please!" and "Landon, it takes longer than 10 seconds to brush your teeth, you can't possibly have done it right in the time you've been gone, go try again please." And yet, there's little that makes me happier than being in the midst of the madness of my young family.
JP and I went out on an impromptu lunch date. He picked me up outside my office and we headed to Rodeo Goat, a fantastic new burger place Fort Worth we'd been wanting to try. We got to sit outside in a gravel filled patio, share a beer and "cheese fries surprise" (it doesn't get more romantic than a platter of fries smothered in cheese, chili, and jalapenos at a place called Rodeo Goat on Valentine's Day) and select one of twenty or so crazy burgers. Mine was a dainty beef patty covered in blue cheese slaw, carmelized onions, and herb garlic mayo, while JP's crazy combo involved a beef chorizo patty topped with avocado, pico de gallo, a fried egg, queso fresco cheese, and tabasco mayo. Delicious, fun, and we didn't even need a sitter.
During lunch I'd mentioned that I was sad we couldn't order our usual heart-shaped pizza from Mangia's (in Austin) for dinner this year. I assumed we'd fire up a frozen pie, though I was so full at the time I could hardly bear to think about it. But then, hours later, I came home to find JP standing over some painstakenly hand-shaped homemade heart shaped pizzas ready to go in the oven. It was one of the most thoughtful things he's ever done.
Seriously, I practically got teary right there in the kitchen over some unbaked pizza dough.
The kids then showed me all their Valentine's one by one, but I was still too full to eat so we decided to go a family walk before dinner. Near the end of our walk, I saw Landon zoom ahead around the turn to our street and suddenly, in what I swear was slow motion, his scooter hit a rock and he went flying-- flying directly over his scooter and into a large mud puddle. The only puddle on our street, leftover from a rain many days ago. I saw it all happen, saw his little body completely parallel to the ground, and thought oh no, this could be bad. Luckily, he was physically fine, but the impact combined with water combined with mud caused him to momentarily lose his mind. He just sort of broke, right there in the puddle. Crying and screaming in a way that reminded me of his infant self with an ear infection. It was definitely nothing we've heard in many years and it caused Tex to look rather alarmed. JP and I tried to brush him off, but he was soaking wet, so we removed his shirt, which caused much consternation ("I'm not wearing my shirt and I'm ouuuuuutsiiiiide.") and tried to prod him toward home with a firm hand on his back, still pushing the stroller, holding a dog's leash, and carrying the scooter. As we approached our driveway Landon simply lost the will to live and refused to move forward. I was having a hard time not giggling because the whole thing had just reached epic levels of drama and it was so perfect that it was Valentine's Day and here we were caterwauling in the street while our beautiful heart-shaped pizzas remained uncooked on the counter. Claire turned in her stroller to GLARE at me, like how could I dare not take this situation seriously- a child is crying, my god woman, have you no idea how to behave? She reached out to stroke Landon's arm from the stroller and said "It's otay Yandon, we'll get you inside and all clean and cozy. It's otay Yandon." Laughing more now, I gave JP a big kiss as we got to the backdoor and split up, him leading Landon to our bathtub for a soak (with Claire following closely behind, still muttering endearments because clearly the parents could not be trusted to do so), while I put the pizzas in the oven. It was just, it was life with small kids, it was so our life at this stage- romance and sweetness and flying into mud puddles and screaming. You can't plan out a thing, but I do love almost every minute.
I found a surprise bouquet of roses in our room around that time, solving the mystery of why JP had kept asking me if I was going to go change when I got home and didn't immediately do so. He cut out a little rose for Claire and dropped it in a milk cup, to her utter delight.
While she and JP were putting it in a special spot next to her bed, Landon came up to me and said quietly, "what if I want a flower too?" And so now there are two plastic glasses, with a red rose each, sitting in their room by their beds. We got lots of snuggles and kisses before saying goodnight and closing the door and switching to the adult portion of our evening.
JP and I exchanged our cards and later, as I admired my bouquet of the 10 remaining roses from my vantage point on the couch while we watched House of Cards, I reflected that while it wasn't fancy and there was an awful lot of mud, I'm not sure I've ever spent a happier, gigglier, more love-filled Valentine's Day.