Lava Sauce and Fire Balls

Well, Valentines Day is upon us already and I really don’t know how it happened!  It seems like just last week I was putting up the Christmas tree and now I’m cutting out hearts.  I found myself reflecting on my own personal evolution of Valentines Day and it is amazing to see how much our Valentines rituals, and priorities, have changed over time.

I will never forget my first Valentines Day with my husband, Scott.  Of course I’ll remember it because we were all giddy with that new found love and anticipation.  Our first Valentines Day was a pretty big deal for me though because it was my FIRST Valentines Day where I had an actual, true boyfriend!  Oh heaven help me I was beside myself with joy.  Before I met my soon-to-be husband, I had all but given up on men because, since I was in my early twenties and hadn’t had a boyfriend yet, I was beginning to think that it just wasn’t going to happen for me.  So, the summer before, I had come to peace with the fact that I might not get married or have children and that would be okay.  A few months later, right before Christmas, my future husband literally walked into my life.  So, you now understand how elated I was to be having a true Valentines date!

When the topic of our plans for that night came up, Scott was rather nonchalant about the whole thing and said, “Yeah, you can just come over here for dinner if you want.  We don’t have to make a big deal about it.”  What?!  Not make a big deal about it?  I had waited all these years for a big ta-do and the guy I meet doesn’t seem to be all that “in” to Valentines day.  This was just plain confusing to me because every guy I knew seemed to wine and dine their ladies.  I came over to his duplex that he shared with his brother to find a beautiful and romantic dinner all laid out for us!  He had played a pretty good trick on me and won my heart over even more that night.  I was curious to see what we would be having for dinner and much to my delight, he made my favorite dish: lasagna!  Mm!  As we were sitting down, Scott said:  “I do have to tell you one thing before we eat though.  This isn’t regular lasagna.  I made it with venison instead of hamburger.”  Huh, I wasn’t expecting that one!   I told him I was game (no pun intended) and we enjoyed a fabulous dinner together.  (Over the years, I’ve learned to love venison even more and have found many great recipes, like this one for Venison Lasagna.)  I later found out that, because I didn’t snub his venison menu, it confirmed in his heart that I was the woman for him.  He is an avid hunter and having a woman who is supportive to that was and is very important to him.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to eat that dinner!

Over the next several years we had many wonderful Valentines Days together.  There were some years where we had to scrimp on the festivities because finances were tight.  Those years were when we truly appreciated that we had each other and I know that I learned to not let the material things count for how much my husband loved me.  For me, just a sweet card and a nice dinner mean the world to me more than a flamboyant show of affection.

Fast forward to our recent years, our years with children.  Our Valentine dinners out at restaurants came to a screeching halt once our son was born.  We both didn’t feel like leaving our sweet bundle of joy just yet and opted for a cozy night in as a family.  By the time our daughter was born, we were pretty settled in our new Valentines Day tradition of a family celebration at home.  Over time, this day turned into a celebration of our love for not only each other, but for our entire family.  Somewhere along the line, I did get sucked into the routine of buying a few goodies for the kids.  A cute little Valentines bag with some chocolate treats for the kids is a fun and simple way to make a day a bit more special.

A few years ago, Scott had to be out of town for Valentines Day due to work.  We were living in California at the time and we didn’t have any family to fall back on to fill the empty void of my husband’s absence.  So, I decided to make the best of it and make a dinner with a “red” theme for the big day of hearts.  Yes, I know..I’m SO original!  😉  So, my menu was Spaghetti and Meatballs (which is actually my Mom’s famous and Top-Secret recipe) for dinner followed by Strawberry Shortcake.  I’m sure part of my inspiration for this meal is from one of my favorite Disney cartoons, “Lady and the Tramp.”  Who doesn’t love the sweet kissing spaghetti scene, as seen here?   It turned into a fun night of dancing to music while the kids help me prepare our dinner.   My kids were cutting up the bell peppers and onions, tossing in the spices and having a grand ‘ol time!  At one point, my son proclaims that the sauce looks like lava!  The excitement in his eyes was contagious and before we knew it we found ourselves cooking Lava Sauce (spaghetti sauce) and Fire Balls (meatballs)!  Oh it was a pretty neat night and it is a memory I will always cherish, as I think the kids will as well.  To this day, the kids still refer to my Spaghetti as Lava Sauce and Fire Balls and I love it!

So today we’ll be wearing red, chomping on chocolates and eating our Lava Sauce and Fireballs at our kitchen table.  I love my husband and children more than life itself and I’m happy that there is a day set aside in our busy schedules to say, “Hey, I love you!”  So, to my sweet and awesome husband:  thank you for all you do for me and our family.  I love you so very much and you are my everything!  For my sweet children:  thank you for making me a better person and loving me unconditionally.  I love you!!  Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

~Alicia

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