Our Valentine’s Dinner. And a super long and multi-themed tangent at the end.

When the kids were younger I always dreamed of cooking neat+themed dinners for them with table decorations and fun kid-friendly food. But back then, even just a year ago, I was mainly trying to survive and anything past a box of mac n’ cheese seemed literally impossible. Now that everyone is potty trained and not nursing and sleeping through the night in twin beds instead of cribs I have more time+energy for the nights I always dreamed of. Two jobs takes its toll on my time of course but after FOUR days away with my parents my mom needed to be in the office so I took the day off to hang with Grayson, giving me the perfect storm to put something special together for my sweet family.

My evening started with Chris bringing home flowers! He NEVER does that so it was a huge surprise! Of course they were in this horrific red+glass vase with plastic hearts sticking out of it so I quickly took the flowers and tossed them into my old jars to make the whole thing feel more like ME. In this case, it is totally the thought that counts!

They were perfect on our table!

Then I used cake plate doilies for under our normal plates and laid their gifts on them. Each kid got a new frame for their dressers with a fun photo inside… totally boring but the Pop Rocks were a huge hit!

I got Chris a bunch of his favorite candy and penny candy plus a new travel coffee mug and gift card to Starbucks. Nothing super exciting but he loved it all!

For dinner I just used a basic pizza crust, put it in the shape of a heart and made two pizzas.

One was just pizza sauce, cheese, black olives and pepperonis. For the kids. And Chris.

The other one was mostly for me (with left overs for work tomorrow!) and I just used our favorite alfredo sauce, sauteed some broccoli+cauliflower ahead of time, chopped it up and added cheese. SOOOO yummy!

Aside from the Pop Rocks the kid’s biggest treat was REAL Fitz’s Root Beer, their FAVORITE! And soda on a school night? Unheard of! They were SO excited!


Did anyone else have Bat Man to dinner tonight? HA!

It was SUCH a great night.

We had an awesome dinner (salad was the only other piece of the puzzle), laughed hysterically numerous times and I really felt like a MOM tonight. Do you know that feeling? Like so many days you’re still just trying to survive and then others you just sort of rock?

What was really interesting to me tonight is that throughout this entire day I had some really rough moments. My temper has been flaring lately which is unusual. Even at Bailey which is truly unusual because that kid does so little to get in trouble about. Gray on the other hand…HA!


So even while I was doing school parties and running around and planning dinner surprises and all around feeling like a pretty stellar mom+wife I was just out of it. Snapping at the littlest thing. Seeing the pain on Bailey’s face, multiples times today, when I wasn’t just proud of her but instead insanely disappointed. For stupid things like not organizing her pants drawer and using the wrong beads for her bracelet they made at their party and being too slow while taking her clothes off for bath time. INSANE.

I took a tangent there from my thoughts and am realizing that in the morning I’m going to apologize to her. Very specifically because for some reason I really was just off today and she got the total and complete brunt of it.


The whole point of me telling you that I was off was to say that in the midst of doing the exact thing I’d always dreamed of doing for my family I was still feeling pretty miserable. I was doing laundry and needing quiet and just wishing they would all go away. I kid you not, but I think having the kids gone for four days this last weekend only fueled my need for alone time more. Has that ever happened to you? Where you get a few days break and just desire more? I’ve never had it feel so real and ugly like it does so far this week.

So I was feeling this way times a billion right after dinner, as if getting done with my big dream dinner was as much as I could handle, and I shut myself in our room with last night’s episode of Smash and FIVE loads of laundry to fold. And for about 5 seconds I was cruising back into my happy place. Which right now just means alone time. When kid after kid after kid came in to take their clothes off and ask me about homework and who knows what else. I was about to seriously lose my mind when Parker came in to go over her speech homework. I told her we’d do it in the morning which is a huge HUGE lie because I can’t handle anything in the morning more than the bare essentials for just getting out of the freaking door. And as she started to walk away I told her to come back because it was like I just couldn’t lie to her one more time. (In the grand scheme of homework, and truly only one kid even having legit homework, speech homework takes the back seat every single day.) So she came back in, I paused my show AGAIN, I set down the jammies I was folding and I sat down on my bedroom floor with her. And for 20 minutes we went over her words.

It was the best 20 minutes of my entire day.

And I still got the laundry done and I still finished my show and I still got some alone time.

Just 20 minutes later than I planned.

Twenty minutes where I actually got to see first hand the sounds she’s struggling so hard to hear and say and master. Twenty minutes when I got to see just how funny this little middle child of mine really is. And how easy she can laugh at herself. And how desperately she’s trying to do and say the right thing. In twenty quick and easy minutes I got to know things about Parker I never knew. How in the hell is that even possible?

I have three kids. If for one hour, ONE HOUR, I locked myself in my bedroom for twenty minutes with each of them I wonder what I would learn? What stories will Gray tell me? Will the stories be about “mean guys” or the quickly fading New Parker? Would Bailey actually open up and tell me about school? About her friends and her joys and her hurts? Would Bailey want to work on homework one on one with me or just sit and chat? I wonder what her face would look like if she had that option?

When my kids were little and I was struggling to just hang on to my sanity I never had time or energy to plan themed holiday dinners for my kids. But what’s so completely backwards is that I spent HOURS a day with them. Hours. We colored and painted and played and read and cuddled and snacked and ran. We were together. Now I have time for dinners that they will probably never remember (I say this because I know C’s mom did things like this all the time and he can’t remember ANY of them and I can’t remember if my mom did or not!) but don’t make time to sit on the floor and go over the homework that’s my job to help with. Let alone spend time just BEING with them. When did I get so turned around in priorities and HOW IN THE HELL do I get back?

The scariest part is that I’m not sure I’m capable of going back. A big part of me wonders if I gave my kids so much of myself in those super intense years (four years at least I would say) do I have anything left? Is that why I’m craving so much alone time? Is that why I hide in the bathroom playing games on my phone? Or why I have a sudden love of laundry because it means I can close my bedroom door and fold? After so many days and weeks and months in a row when you couldn’t remember if you brushed your teeth or not do you just need a few years to recoupperate? Is this normal?

I hope that my feelings from tonight stick around longer than I’m expecting them to. I pray that next week and next month we’re so used to our “time with mommy” that it just becomes a fixture in our day. I pray that I’m not completely and utterly screwing up my kids because I’m not a full-time stay-at-home mom who has oodles of time to give to her kids day in and day out. And I pray with all my heart that days like this, when I watched my daughter’s sweet little 6 year old heart break as I denied her the affirmation I could clearly see she was yearning for fade quickly for them but stick with me. I need her hurt little face to be burned into my brain so that next time I can come outside myself and give her the smile and hug she needs no matter how I’m feeling.

Today was Valentine’s Day and I think I really learned a lot about loving my family. Or at least have thoughts that will keep me up tonight as they slowly sink into my thick head. I love my family with this crazy passion and yet, I’m so flawed. Praise God He’s there to fill in where I so desperately leave gaps.

6 thoughts on “Our Valentine’s Dinner. And a super long and multi-themed tangent at the end.

  1. Jodie,
    Thank you. Thanks for sharing your honesty here. Letting me know that I am not alone in my failures and imperfections. I go through the same cycles of days that I’m feeling like I’ve got it all figured out and others where I can barely hold on by the skin of my teeth. They always bring me back to praising my God because He is what I need to succeed and love these children better. Being a mother is the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do in my whole life – but so so rewarding. I feel so unworthy of it all.
    I grew up with a full time working mom and we were still really close. I remember her having stress from work but I also remember knowing that she loved me deeply. I can bet money on the fact that your kids know that too. You are not ruining them.

    Your kids seem amazing! And so do you.

  2. Jodie -
    You are the voice of every Mother! We all go thru things and times, and most of us get out OK — our kids do, too. I’m willing to bet that years from now your daughters will remember the efforts you put forth for them, and try to do as well when they have families. Boys are a whole other animal, tho.
    So Parker learned something. She learned that even when Mom is maxed out, there still is time for her — just her. And even when you lose it and someone is on the wrong end of your frustration — coming to them sincerely and making amends shapes the adult they will eventually become.
    I’ve been a work-from-home mother since shortly after our first was born. I too had visions of theme dinners and sugar plums, but I sacrificed them for the care and feeding of other women’s children. I can’t tell you the number of events, field trips and awards programs I’ve missed because I couldn’t leave the house when a parent was late. I resent that more than anything. But I have to think my kids have benefited from the choices we’ve made, and maybe picked up some skills that will last them a lifetime. I know for one they can coupon-match a grocery list like no others!

  3. Wow, Jod. I AM a stay-at-home mom but I don’t spend that quality time with my keeds either. I need to turn off this stupid computer more and just hang with them. Your words brought tears to my eyes as I realize that we have made the decision to homeschool our kids for a reason and that reason is so they can be with ME! So I need to be with them. Not just here, in the same house, but WITH THEM. Thanks for the little jolt that I need right now. We are fallen creatures being transformed by our loving and patient Savior. Love you.

  4. Thank you for your beautifully honest and heartfelt reflection.. YOU are so extraordinary! Your love for you family comes shining through in all you do! I am so glad our kids forget and forgive us when we stumble. I think they will remember your wonderful themed dinners and special things you do! I know i sure would! Xoxoxoxoxox

  5. Seriously! I am in awe, I love the way you write, your words, your honesty, it mirrors so much of what I am going through as a Mom of 3, I always feel SO MUCH BETTER when I read your posts, they make sense and I love that ! I wish you lived in the same city as I would love to sit and have a coffee with you, I feel like we are sistas from another mista :) You are so creative, and SUCH a FUN mama! Your kids are lucky to have you and we all have off days, luckily the good outweigh the bad! Thanks for sharing this post! It really hit home with me :)

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