Sunday, February 14, 2010

Table for Two

Poor Valentine's Day.  It kind of got the shaft as far as holidays go, being relegated to chalky conversation hearts and lame packages of Disney-themed cards awkwardly passed out in elementary school classrooms around the country.

Its only saving grace is its association with the second-best Simpsons episode--the one where Ralph Wiggum declares his love for Lisa with a card that says 'I choo-choo choose you'.  This episode is a very close second, behind the one where Homer is prescribed medical marijuana (I don't know how to attach sound clips, but you can find some great ones from this episode here if you are looking to procrastinate working on your taxes). 

 Eight years ago today, I had a dinner date at Sam's apartment (the one with the living room that featured the two non-matching lawn chairs and trusty cardboard box as furniture, where we spent our evenings playing Scrabble).  One of his many talents is making homemade pizza--none of that store-bought crust stuff, but real, thrown-in-the-air crust perfected from his days working at Pizza My Heart in Santa Cruz.  He made two really delicious gourmet pizzas, set everything on the table, and then ran next door to borrow a corkscrew (I know, it's surprising he wouldn't have a corkscrew considering his furniture...).  He came back in to join me at the table and knelt down on the floor.  I thought he dropped his napkin, but instead he asked me to marry him.

Fast forward eight years, and we've got that much love plus three as we sit at the table.  Time is what we don't have, and after a snowy morning spent at the after-hours clinic and pharmacy to treat Kenyon's ear infection, a romantic meal for two (plus an earlier dinner for three) wasn't going to happen.  Late this afternoon, Sam took the boys sledding--I hate to have missed the fun, especially after hearing how Alex laid down on the sled with Kenyon (ear infection and all) riding on top of him, and Sam and Jackson holding hands and standing up while riding down the slope.  We didn't give the kids candy or presents this morning, but I rallied and wanted to mark what this holiday means in our little family unit.

I made a mess in the kitchen and in the hour that my family was gone, I whipped up beef tenderloin medallions with potato risotto and salad, lit candles, set the table with placemats and cloth napkins, and opened a special bottle of wine.  I also made bittersweet molten lava chocolate cakes and homemade cinnamon-coffee ice cream.  Epicurious, I owe you big-time for your fool-proof recipes.

It wasn't a romantic dinner for two, but I am so incredibly thankful that I have these boys in my life to love every day, and told them so (after sending Alex away from the table twice before dinner even started, and threatened that if there was a next time he'd be eating dinner alone upstairs).  After dinner, Jackson told me that he had wanted to do something special for me, so he had folded down our comforter and turned on our heated mattress pad for us.  How cute is that?  Kenyon kept saying Happy Birthday because of the candles, but once in a while threw in a Happy Valentine's Day for good measure.

After the boys went to bed, Sam and I sat at the table and played a game much like we did eight years ago when we were first dating.  Sure, this table is a little more sturdy than Sam's old cardboard box, and I'd like to think our path together is as well.  Valentine's Day, I will never buy into your forced Hallmark card/boxed chocolate/flowers shtick, but you have become a special holiday for me as a reminder of this path that I've chosen with my Sam, and for that I will always look forward to February 14.


  1. What a great day! I love your gratitude and I am pretty sure I would love the food! Much happiness to you and your boys.

  2. Wonderful story, Annie. You and Sam are lucky to have found each other, and your mother and I are lucky that you did.

  3. What a great way to celebrate the day! That family pic around the table is perfect and you are some kinda whiz in the kitchen. But...SAM WORKED AT PIZZA MY HEART IN SANTA CRUZ?!?! That place was always a must stop for me and Dan on trips north...small world feelings all around.

    We look forward to spending some time roughing it with you in July. In fact, Austin and I are going to be spending a good amount of time west, so I'd love to hear what your plans are. Dan will meet us for Tonya-palooza but we're going to do some traveling beforehand.

  4. I can't stop being amazed by you. A truly incredible writer, wife and mother. Your entry was wonderful and it made me feel how much I appreciated Dad for both the big things and the little things he does. We also are so proud that you turned out to be such a marvel at everything you do.

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  6. Great posting! In your spare time you should master the art of propping up the camera and setting the timer...someone is missing from that photo! What game is that? Looks fun!

  7. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I am lucky to have had you two as role models and support to get me this far!
    Anna, great idea. I always bemoan the fact that if my children rely on pictures alone, it will seem as if I was absent from their lives when the reality is that I was always the one taking the pictures!

  8. Love this. And I love the love you have for your fam. You are a lucky lady.

  9. Annie...It is our jobs as moms to make sure that we always capture every moment of our children's lives...hopefully, they will remember we were there too!!!