From “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda:

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Eric picked out pink roses to give to his sister for Valentine’s Day. What a sweet brother! She loved them, of course, and she kept thanking him over and over again. We put them in her room. I never want Katie to worry about whether or not she has a romantic beau on Valentine’s Day—love and beauty and special acknowledgement can come from the gentlemen in her family, or even from herself. I think it is important to teach this while she is young.

We had a fondue party at our house with my parents. Little Eric is one of my main squeezes!

On Thursday, my cousin Kd surprised us with oodles of treats for her baby cousins in the afternoon. This was perfect timing, because Eric had his 18-month well-baby check-up in the morning complete with the last of his vaccinations until his boosters, so he relished the fun of his cousin! They have been playing with wands, play fish that grow, and much more all weekend! For Eric, she brought a tool bench that has a hammer, a saw, and a wrench and pegs that light up when you pound them….he has logged quite a bit of time with that toy, his current favorite. Every time he gets out his tools, he says, “Boppa, Boppa” thinking of my dad. Very sweet.

Kd also brought over original artwork for both of the kiddos and our playroom, as well as this piece from her personal collection:

I had no idea how prolific she has been these past few months, and then the other night she posted her entire collection on her Facebook site. I absolutely fell in love with this one the moment I saw it, and I let her know it. I had no idea she would give it to me! My mom and I both love this one, and we’ve discussed it at length for its symbolism. I see that the rain is vibrance and joy, and no type of obstacle (the umbrella) will keep it away from you. Or, I see that sometimes what you plan (to stay dry, for example) is not what you really need, and that life gives us unexpected blessings if we are open to them. My mom sees childhood joy and innocence. I have just the place for it, and my goal is to get all of her work hung by tomorrow (need to rummage around for some nails).

On Saturday we took a family trip to Idyllwild, where we most definitely did not stay dry, to frolic in the soft, fluffy, deep snow. It’s been a Valentine’s tradition for us to visit Idyllwild, even before the kiddos were born. Of course, we honeymooned there, as well, and have spent several “anniversarymoons” at our favorite bed and breakfast, The Strawberry Creek Inn. We love to share our special place with our babies every February, and to tell them things like, “That gazebo over there is where we sat and pondered what to name you, Katie” or “Cafe Aroma is the place we always go for our special anniversarymoon dinner” or “Before you were born, Daddy took me on a date to Bubba’s Books and gave me a red rose.” Katie is starting to know the place, and it is becoming part of who we are as a family.

Every time I am in Idyllwild, I have the most difficult time leaving. It calls to my very essence. The mountain air, the running creek, the fir trees, the feeling of being in a quiet, magic world… Ah.

We parked at our inn and took the trail down to the trickling Strawberry Creek and walked alongside of it. We always remind the children how Daddy and I walked together there on our first married morning in 2006.

I love these little people.

The kiddos and I watched the creek for awhile. Idyllwild is part of who I am. In fact, I summoned this creek and path when I was in natural labor/delivery with my children, especially with Eric (whose labor was more intense). Of all the beautiful places in the world I’ve been lucky to see, this special place is where my mind wanted to go to calm itself.

Katie and Daddy

Eric’s favorite part was watching me throw snowballs at trees as I exclaimed, “BOOP!” He just cracked up over and over again.

We always have lunch at Jo’Ann’s, where Bill and I caught a late, late dinner the night we were married. Katie and Eric enjoyed watching the toy train circle the perimeter or the ceiling. As we ate there this weekend, we reminisced about our wedding night dinner and where we sat, and now, can we believe it?—we have two children here with us. It is beautiful and surreal at the same time.

After lunch, Eric started to grow sleepy, so we bundled him and strolled about the town. Bill wanted me to buy a present for myself, he said. I always get something for our yard, but this year I found an “Idyllwild” Christmas tree ornament in the Spruce Moose. I love having ornaments on our tree of my favorite places (Point Reyes, for example), so I thought it would be fitting for the collection. Katie remembered getting a penny candy (more like $0.25) last year at the nostalgic candy and toys store, so I treated her to a bubble gum flavored stick of candy. She ate it all up thoroughly.

While Eric slept in his stroller and Bill sat on a log to watch him, Katie and I played at a winter playground with swings, a slide, and a teeter totter.

And we built a snowgirl, the first we’ve ever built together. Makes me want to spend a week up in the snow, doing all kinds of fun snow things… Here, Katie put the arm on our snowgirl.

Our finished snowgirl. Last night I went to sleep thinking of her under the night sky right where we left her. Oh, I love Idyllwild.

Playful Katie, throwing a snowball.

Today (Sunday), we took it easy and prepared for the week ahead. The kiddos helped me do our much-needed baking: a loaf of challah, a pumpkin bread (for breakfasts), a banana wheat germ bread (to freeze for the week after), fresh egg pasta dough to make homemade noodles in an upcoming meal, and homemade Hawaiian pizza for our movie night (Star Wars, Ep. 5) tonight. I am almost never this on-the-ball with our menu prep, and it feels good. I haven’t bought bread (other than to make croutons) for months (although Bill does buy special bread for his diet), and I think we might finally be fully converted to this new routine of bread-making. It does help our food budget go a bit further. The kiddos adore challah, but I’d like to transition to making that once a month and filling the other weeks with more oat or wheat breads (we’ve had a couple, but the kiddos always ask for the challah). This will be a goal for the springtime.

We had a beautiful Valentine’s Week, celebration all the different kinds of love in this world. We even started (after finishing Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Kind of Valentine’s-ish, no?