L.O.V.E – a Valentines Day Craft

img_7100

Today’s the big day for those of you who are all on board with an official holiday that celebrates LOVE!

I have to say, I’ve always liked the holiday, probably because my mom always made us her Valentines, greeting us in the morning with little gifts, candies and cards waiting at the breakfast table, making an ordinary day in February feel fun and special.

My mom is great at holidays.

Also, I was a kid who liked projects, so I took the Valentines Day box assignment very seriously, spending hours with construction paper, glue guns and whatever else I could find around the house and yard to inspire my creativity. Once I made a birdhouse Valentines box out of a milk carton and sticks from the coulee so elaborate that you couldn’t fit a valentine in the slot.

So I (happily) made a different one, bringing the birdhouse to school anyway, you know, as an art piece.

Anyway, now that I have a baby girl I have an excuse to get back into my Valentines Day projects, at least a little bit. And now that we have the good ‘ol invention called Pinterest, I don’t have to be creative…because other mommas can be creative for me.

So in case you have a little one and are looking for something fun to send or drop off to grammas, grampas, aunts and uncles for the holiday (something I meant to do yesterday, but forgot because I might have found the time to do a craft, but I don’t have the mind to follow through with its purpose) here’s a cute, fun, simple and one of the only Pinterest ideas I’ve actually executed.

img_4594

I found it on a post done by blogger HelloBee, which also includes a few more fun Valentines Day crafts for the babies. Her example looks better, but maybe her baby isn’t as wiggly.

img_6955

Click here to take a look at her post, “February Activities for Infants/Toddlers”.

img_4592

But I have to say, Edie loved it. And she’s old enough now to get the concept of things after a few repetitions, so she happily spread her little hands out while I painted them with paint and pressed them onto the paper.

But here’s a tip, make sure you have a wet rag on hand to wipe the damage immediately. I had to turn my back for a second to get one and, well…

img_4589

Our Valentines Day craft took a quick, but dark turn.

Anyway, I liked this project because I had everything on hand. Paint, brush, construction paper and baby.

And to make things easier on all of us, I put the baby in her high chair and turned on PBS while we painted her hands. And when her hands were done I threw her some Cheerios and we tackled (and tickled her feet).

img_4602

And although I had to explain to my husband that it was supposed to spell out LOVE, I like it. I think I’ll frame it up and keep it as the only Valentines Day decoration I own.

And I’m putting a note on my agenda today to take the rest of them to the mailbox.

Happy Valentines Day moms and dads and babies and grammas and grampas and aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and friends and everyone in between.

Celebrate love in all its forms today!

And then make sure you pop open a bottle of champaign, because, well, it’s important to take advantage of any excuse to drink champaign.

I hope my husband got my hint/blatant request to bring me home some Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.

Peace, Love and smooches,

Jessie and Edie

img_7188

Love in an ordinary life

img_7168

Because Valentines Day is approaching and because more than anything in this life of ours the little things add up to the biggest acts of love.

Tiny reminders of love in an ordinary life
by Jessie Veeder
2-12-17
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Last week I had a couple meetings I scheduled in the late afternoon. I do this on days I don’t have Edie in daycare, strategically overlapping the beginning of my workday with the end of my husband’s.

Because we live 30 miles and a good 45 minutes from town, the planning can be a little tricky and usually involves a quick stop and drop at Gramma’s store so Edie can destroy the place before her daddy picks her up.

Anyway, after one of my meetings ran a little late in town, I decided to stop at the grocery store. Without a toddler in the cart practicing her fast-pitch skills with a bag of oranges, I could linger a little longer and think a little bit about the week’s meal plan, or, because I haven’t made a week’s meal plan ever in my life, at least I could take a second to price compare. Which I did. And I also picked up fried chicken from the deli, so supper was covered for another day.

By the time I finally made it through the door of the house, Edie was already sleeping in her room, the lights were low in the house and remnants of the evening were scattered from living room to kitchen, giving me a detailed map of what father and daughter had been up to together.

I chatted with my husband while I made my way to the bedroom to change out of my town clothes, throwing him the usual questions like, “How was she tonight? Was her nose still stuffy? “Did she go down OK? “What did she eat?”

Then I spotted a little pink bottle of fingernail polish on the coffee table sitting next to her sippy cup and cardboard book. Because I haven’t painted my fingernails since the seventh month our child was in utero, my next question was, of course, “What’s with the nail polish?”

“Oh,” he replied, “I painted Edie’s fingernails tonight.”

He was so nonchalant about it.

“Really? You painted her nails?” I asked, my voice suddenly moving up an octave as I pictured the scene, my heart beginning the melting process inside my chest.

“Yeah, I thought she might like it,” he shrugged. “And she did.”

And that’s really the end of the story because nothing extraordinary happened next in that house that evening. The two of us ate fried chicken at the counter, talked about our day, probably turned on the TV and argued about something in the news before trudging upstairs to bed.

These are the ins and outs of our regular days, nothing so glamorous or extraordinary about our lives or our family or our love story.

img_4511

But for some reason I keep going back to that little scene, one that instantly brightened up a busy but regular week, the one that starred my stoic and scruffy husband holding that tiny polish brush in his big callused hands while balancing his baby daughter on his knee, gently coaxing her to hold still while he placed teeny dots of pink polish on her miniature fingers.

Ugh, there’s so much to say about that little moment besides the fact that it had the power to lift my spirits in such a unique way.

And it’s not that I think this is uncommon behavior for dads and daughters necessarily; it’s just that I know my husband and I know that I begged him to paint my toenails when I was pregnant with his daughter and the man refused, noting that he didn’t have a steady enough hand.

But the child can’t talk yet. She doesn’t know what fingernail polish is, so nail painting was his idea of something fun the two of them could do together.

OK.

But you know what I realized then? In all of the countless hours I’ve spent with that baby girl in the house alone, I’ve never once painted her fingernails. I don’t have the patience for it. I would much sooner choose banging two pot lids together or letting her rip up the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.

But her dad chose the fingernail polish and, in the middle of an ordinary week in an ordinary marriage in an ordinary life, I was reminded why I chose him.

img_4525

Sunday Column: What love looks like these days

IMG_7994I’m going to preface the sharing of this week’s column by letting you know that I’m feeling much better now.

I can breathe out of my right nostril and I’m not going through as many cough drops these days.

Also, Edie, though not a great napper is a relatively good night sleeper, so I can’t complain really…except for when she chooses the night when I have a head cold from hell (the fourth disease I’ve acquired since her birth only a few short months ago) to wake up every time ten minutes from 2 am until 7 am.

I wrote this column the day after that night.

IMG_7791

But today I’m sitting here with a fancy new laptop I bought myself because I’ve been doing most of my work these days from my bed or my chair while the little pumpkin sleeps or swings or squeaks next to me and I feel like it’s a work necessity and she’s sleeping like an angel in her swing right now and I’m not coughing out a lung and we’re going to have steak tonight and so things are going good.

That being said, I still can’t find the debit card I lost two weeks ago after buying a photo album from Shutterfly and accidentally sending it to the address where we lived five years ago.

So I don’t have my mind.

IMG_7984

But every day, between the crazy, the sweating, the crying, the snuggling, the explosive and inconveniently timed poops and the mess it’s all made in this house of ours, I am finding out a little more about this thing called love.

And it turns out it’s not what it looked like a few months ago.

And it’s not what I really expected, as in, I’m not who I expected I would be in the middle of it.

It’s wonderfully terrifying, this whole motherhood thing. Wonderfully terrifying one second and the most peace I’ve ever felt the next.

I haven’t smiled or cried so much in my life.

And, as it turns out, even when I think I’ve depleted all of the love I have in this haggard, sweat pants clad, spit up coated body, I hear him singing an off key version of “You Are My Sunshine” to his daughter for the four thousandth time and another wave washes over me and I cry for the thirty-seventh time that day because I know it could just keep getting better…

IMG_7940

Coming Home: Love looks different a year, and a baby later
by Jessie Veeder
2-14-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

I don’t think my husband has seen my hair out of a ponytail for a good two months.

The statistics on him seeing me out of my stretchy pants is about the same.

This is the fourth cold I’ve had since this baby was born, and last night that baby was on a timer to wake up each time I finally fell asleep.

It’s the same timer that reminds her to fuss as soon as her parents sit down at their supper plates.

I would say that I haven’t been at my best these days, but at this point I think as good as it can get is a chance to take a hot shower, sleep for three hours straight and breathe out of my right nostril, and that seems to be asking a lot.

Anyway, today my plan was to talk about love, being it’s mid-February and the stores are selling heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Last year at this time I was likely showered and make-uped and in a black dress somewhere singing to people toasting love, completely unaware that in a year, fitting into that black dress again would be a distant goal.

One that comes after the long overdue haircut.

Last year at this time I would have written about love a bit differently. I would have been more in tune with myself and my husband. I might have mentioned patience and plans and the flowers sitting on the table that he picked up for me at the grocery store in town or how he stayed up that night and waited for me to get home.

Last year at this time I didn’t know that in a year I would be nursing a 2-month old in our bed at 5 in the morning, blowing my nose for the 1,500th time while his alarm clock blasts a rock song and he fumbles around quietly locating his clothes, wallet and cell phone by the light of the television news, set on mute so as not to disturb a baby that I need to fall back to sleep for the love of cough syrup.

It only took a year and the growth and delivery of a new life, but these days I have a different take on love entirely.

Because for nine months my husband slept so far on his side of the bed that one leg was resting on the floor and half his body was on the bed railing. And it’s not because he wanted to keep his distance from his pregnant wife, but more because the woman he loved needed space for her giant body and the giant body pillow she needed to help her sleep.

Love looks like that to me now.

And once that baby was born, love looked like that same man changing every dirty diaper in the first few days he could be home from work, and taking every diaper and helping to give every bath every evening since then.

And I didn’t know this was going to happen, but love looks like me crying because I love my baby, and crying harder because I haven’t been outside in days, and then crying because I think I’m crying too much lately, and a man holding a baby dressed in pink in his arms telling me to take a walk.

And yes, of course, love looks like that baby dressed in pink who fell asleep listening to the click of her mom’s fingers against the keyboard trying to explain to a world (that’s likely already figured it out) that sometimes love can be a compliment on your outfit or the way you wear your hair, but then there’s something really romantic about not mentioning it at all (the sweatpants, the three-day ponytail, the pile of cough-drop wrappers laying around the house).

And to me, that might be the difference between falling in love and being in love forever.

IMG_8726

Valentines Day Outfit

I think they put Valentines Day in the middle of February to warm us northerners up and help us come up with creative ways to celebrate the people we love.

Husband and I have never been big Valentines Day celebrators. If I’m going to be truthful, out of the two of us I’m the worst gift giver. I used to be better, but frankly, I’ve run out of ideas that aren’t practical kitchen gadgets.

Seriously. For Christmas this year I got him a knife sharpener and a deep fat fryer (which went against my 9+ year rule that we would never have a deep fat fryer in this house, indicating just how desperate I was for an idea).

Anyway, here we are a few days ahead of the holiday and I chose to celebrate by having my husband help me take pictures of our baby in a tutu that he helped me pick out in town last week.

IMG_8651

Yup. The man showed up at mom’s store after work and walked with his girls down the block to pick out a tutu and a headband just so we could dress up our baby for a five minute photoshoot before he had to go outside to do man things.

He’s gone soft I tell you. He turned into the best possible form of mush.

And you should hear how he gets these smiles out of her…

IMG_8608

He’s good at it.

IMG_8702 copy

It’s hard to get too much done around here with this kid waiting to show us her new tricks.

And how gravity works on those cheeks in the most perfect way.

IMG_8691 copy

They didn’t tell me that having a girl would mean that I would be spending double extra time picking out outfits. As if it wasn’t hard enough to get myself dressed to go out in public, now I have a new little smushy human to obsess over.

I didn’t know I would be that way. I thought I would keep it simple, dressing her in nothing but white onesies while we hung around the house.

But as soon as she came out it seemed the closet full of neutral/beige basics waiting for her just wasn’t going to fulfill her tiny wardrobe needs.

Oh, I’m not the only one. The day she was born, Husband had to take a run to the store for supplies and he came back with a purple outfit.

Let’s not even mention the grammas, aunts, cousins and friends that have supplied us with plenty of pink and frills…and, of course, the right amount of jeans, flannels and shirts with horses on them, to keep her balanced.

And I hate to admit it, but I think the girl might have more shoes than me…and she can’t even walk yet.

I’m not sure how it happened, but another pair arrived via Amazon earlier this week.

Ah well, we’re having fun before she grows up and she finds it all has become thoroughly annoying.

IMG_8693 copy

Turns out I’m better at shopping for my offspring than I am for my poor husband.

Happy Valentines Day friends. If you need me, well, you know where to find me…

IMG_8664 copy

Low expectations=happy marriage?

Last night over dinner Husband and I got to talking about marriage expectations. I’m sure I brought it up, because I’m always contemplating things out loud with no real direction. I think it stemmed from my idea for steaks, lobster and champaign on Valentines day and his luke warm reaction to my brilliant and sweet idea that I felt deserved something of an enthusiastic reaction.

But really, Husband’s never been known for over-enthusiasm. I know better, but you know, sometimes I fish.

“Well, there are certain expectations aren’t there, about Valentines day?” I asked.

And then somewhere between his reaction to that statement and my rebuttal, I said something like, “There’s expectations in a marriage too. I mean, you have expectations for me don’t you?”

And he said, “No. Not really. I mean, I expect you not to leave me.”

“Well that’s an easy one,” I laughed.

“And, I guess I expect you not be be a stripper.”

“Good Lord.”

“Yeah, so if you get down to it,” he finished. “I guess I expect you not to leave me to become a stripper.”

So I added: “And I expect that you will fix the things I break.”.

“And I expect that you will break things.”

We’re romantic.

And perfect for each other.I mean, because I would make the world’s most awkward stripper…

Happy Valentines Day weekend lovers!

And for those girls in love with their dogs, check out the newly released “A Girl Needs a Dog” Video starring YOU and your pooches!

Love and snow fall…

We woke up this Valentines Day to find a nice fresh coat of fluffy snow, a little sun and some sparkle in the air.

I was happy to see it, because for about three months it’s literally been too cold to snow.

Yes.

Too. Cold. To. Snow.

That’s a thing here.

Which means I’ve been cooped up a bit, and so has my camera. Things like cameras and fingers don’t work too well when it’s too cold to snow.

But those clouds and that sun seemed to be working this morning (I mean it was like 10 degrees above zero) so I went out in it.

A gift to myself for a day covered in love.

Love and sparkly snow on the tips of berry covered branches…

On the noses of dogs…

Ok, all over the faces of dogs…

On the tips of the grass…

On the backs of horses…

In barnyards…

and all of the things made more beautiful with a little light…

and a little frosting.

Happy Valentines Day Friends. Spread a little love today.

Sunday Column: Learning about love from my grandparents

Because it’s freezing and in a few days it will be Valentines Day and we need a holiday like this to warm us all up, this week’s column is about two people who have lived a lifetime together and taught me what it looks like when you truly and completely love one another.

This Valentines Day they will celebrate at their Arizona home. There will likely be breakfast in bed and flowers, a day spent golfing or swimming and dinner plans.

They’ve been married nearly 60 years so they’ve had some practice at celebrating things like love.

They’re the greatest couple I know.

They’re my grandparents.

Coming Home: Learning love from grandparents is a gift
by Jessie Veeder
2-9-13
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com

Dear Husband…

Dear Husband,

Good morning.

As I write this I imagine you on your way to work in your red pickup, your warm cap pulled down over your ears, a little of your scruffy hair escaping out the sides. Or maybe you’re there already, digging into the jobs you’re good at. I lost track of how long it’s been since you found me buried under a pile of covers and pillows to kiss me good morning before the sun peeked over the buttes. I turned over and pulled those covers back up over my head, waiting for a more reasonable hour to rise from my dreams.

Husband, I have known you since you were a 12-year-old boy with hair just as unruly as it was this morning as you ran your callused hands through it. I knew you when your locker was six down from mine and you would walk with me to class. I knew you when your yellow lab, Rebel, was alive and young and he would pull you on your roller blades down the street. I was there when you heard your parents had to put him down.

I knew you when you wore your football jersey on our hometown field on Friday nights. I sat in the stands to watch you play and then waited for you at the gate after the game. I was there when you broke your ribs on the wrestling mat, I heard the stories about wrecking you bike, dislocating your shoulder in a three-wheeler accident, and the one about the fish-hook that somehow got lodged in your finger. I was there when you got that shiner senior year.

I lay next to you at night and trace your scars. I know where they came from, and I am thankful for that.

I am thankful that you picked up the phone to call me one summer evening only to find me crying on the other end of the line, catching my breath between whimpers to tell you about how I jumped off a small cliff at the lake and wrecked my ankle and my chance at making the A-squad basketball team. How was I to know that would be the first of a lifetime of comforting and level-headed conversations spent with you? How was I to know that hurting my ankle wasn’t the end of the world, but that conversation with you was the beginning of a life spent with a man who never hangs up?

A man who called again and then, when he learned to drive, drove thirty miles and way too fast every Sunday to the middle of nowhere to catch a girl with equally unruly hair mowing the lawn, painting the barn, riding a horse, digging in the garden or laying out in the summer sunshine.

Yes, husband, I knew you then. I knew you when your plans didn’t extend past Saturday night, but your future was blindingly bright. I knew you when your pants were too baggy, your music too loud and you thought you were invincible, bulletproof and incapable of breaking hearts. I was there when you learned it wasn’t true.

And, thankfully, you knew me. You knew that if you showed up, played chess with my little sister, talked guns with my dad and made my mother laugh that you would be able to take that trip every Sunday. You knew to tell me true things, because an honest man might not always win, but in the end, at least he is an honest man.

And so husband, here’s what I have to tell you today.

Each time I see you walking through that door after work or catch you cooking in our tiny kitchen, the smell of your soup filling my nostrils, each time I find you in your easy chair, feet kicked up after a day filled with work, I remember for a moment that boy I used to know and my heart starts beating the same way it did  when you would meet me at my locker, when I would pick up your evening phone calls or see your old Thunderbird pull into my parent’s driveway.

But there you are, a man. A good man who cooks and fixes things and doesn’t make a damn fuss when I cry over things there’s no use crying about. A man whose heart is planted here right next to mine in a place that grew me, that grew us, up and together and away and back again. Husband, I might not always run to the door when you swing it open, my hands might be busy, my head might be somewhere else. Love, I might not always take a moment to curl up on your lap when you are in your favorite chair, I might not bring us a blanket because there might not be time that evening to sit. My Man, I might not wrap my arms around you when you are stirring a soup or making a mess in our kitchen, but I should.

My 16 year-old head over heals self would.

Because all that 16 year-old-head-over-heals-self wanted in the whole world, all of the wishes she used up on stars that fell and clocks that turned to 11:11 were wishes for a lifetime spent with you–waking up to your kisses, falling asleep in your arms, eating your cooking and building our home.

Yes, that 16-year-old-self had some things right, but she mostly knew nothing at all.

She mostly took a huge risk with her wishes spent on a teenage boy with unruly hair and pants that didn’t fit right. She knew nothing about life really. Nothing about the things that happen between those morning kisses and evening meals.

So here’s what your 28-year-old-head-over-heals-wife has to say to you today.

Thank you. Thank you for the every day good-morning kisses, yes, but mostly thank you for fighting with me without ever raising your voice or your fist, pushing me to stand up for myself and never hanging up on me no matter how many times I’ve done it to you. Thanks for staying true to yourself no matter how I push and for understanding that there are some things that you can’t change about me (like my addiction to shoes) and for not giving up on the things that are worth changing (like my lack of self-confidence and tendency to leave the back hatch of my car open over night). Thank you for never walking away in an argument, never sleeping on the couch and for always calling before you leave town to see if I need anything from the grocery store.

Thank you for fixing the things I break.

I break a lot of things.

And thank you for making me pick out and purchase my own car and schedule my own oil changes but always coming to my rescue when my tire is flat or the thing doesn’t start.

Thank you for coming with me to ride horses and for patiently teaching me, every day, how to properly use our complicated T.V. remote.

At 16 when I wished for you forever, I didn’t know that these things were important. I didn’t think about who would do the taxes or build our house, unclog the hair from the drain or clean up the puppy poop on the floor. I thought all you needed was love and affection. Those things you gave me, so I thought the other stuff came easy and fell into place like the things that happen in the “happily ever after” section no one ever bothers writing into Disney Movies.

I was wrong. It can be hard. All of the love and affection in the world can’t pay the heating bill,  help you decide who unloads the dishwasher at night, make the house remodel itself or cure a sickness while you’re out basking in the glow of one another.

No, it can’t.

But I am so grateful this Valentines Day, husband, that I was wise enough at 16 to make those wishes for a boy who would become a young man with a ring who asked me to be his family.

I’m glad I took the risk.

I am happy I said yes.

And I am happy I have you, on Sunday, and every day in between.

For a lifetime…

I suppose you haven’t noticed that it’s Valentine’s Day today have you? I suppose you haven’t heard the announcements blaring from your T.V. or examined the varieties of chocolate and pink and red things at the store.

I may or may not have caught the hint. So ok, good morning. Happy Valentine’s Day. It’s beautiful out here at the ranch this morning. The snow has been melting all weekend, and although it has left behind slush and mud and water, a lot of water, in its wake, it has also exposed some dirt, some patches of earth, glorious earth, that just days ago resembled nothing other than a frozen tundra.

And I love the way it’s making me feel, all refreshed and new. Hell, I was so into the idea of a spring day that I whipped out my vacuum yesterday and even cleaned a window or two…and maybe a toilet. Oh, and it’s making the animals feel fabulous too. The dogs have been soaking up the sun, lapping up the melt with their pink tongues, horses on the hills are laying on their sides in an open spot of ground letting the sun warm their furry bodies, the deer are rejoicing in the relief of the snow drifts and the coyotes are howling a good morning tune to me as I type this.

The dogs are howling back.

It’s a perfect morning to be celebrating love and all those mushy things…

…and so I am thinking about love and all those mushy things and what it means to me this year. Because it’s Valentines Day. And because I have been thinking about this relationship I have with husband lately because I have been working on planning our 10-year class reunion.

What? When did that happen?

And as soon as I got over the shock that this year will be the year we gather with our old classmates and attempt to explain what the hell we are all doing now and how the hell we got there and why we do or do not have little ones attached to our hips or loves attached to our arms, I realized, shockingly, that my love has been attached to mine for a good thirteen to fourteen years, give or take.

Almost half my life.

And that little piece of information has held my interest lately. Because not only does it mean that I caught husband’s eye during a time in my life when my mouth was full of braces with the little purple rubber band things and I hadn’t yet mastered the art of my hair and my favorite accessory was a smiley face necklace. And if he could fall in love with me then, I think I’m out of the woods when my hair turns a bit more gray and I start wearing Spanks. At least I hope. But it also means if all goes well and we stay healthy and relatively sane throughout the course of our lives, husband and I, at the end of it all, will have spent a lifetime together.

 

Young FFA love.(Future Farmers of America, for those of you who don't recognize the acronym) Good Lord.

Really, thinking back on it, it already feels like we have, because how much of your life do you recall before you hit twelve years old?   I suppose that’s the high school sweetheart thing that we crazies who found love early and held on tight for whatever reasons have that maybe can’t be explained or rationalized to our friends. Yeah, we stay out of the loop when asked for dating advice and take the phone calls about commitment and then try to explain ourselves.

But how do you explain why anyone holds on so tight–through adolescence, through breakups and make-ups and graduation and college parties and living in separate cities and working long hours and giving a ring and a promise out loud…a promise you had been making to each other when your age ended in teen and you had no idea what “I promise” and “forever” really meant.

No idea.

My grandparents on my mom’s side have been married over fifty years. They met and fell in love in high school and married soon after. Their lives took them across the country, across the ocean and back again. Their love gave them four beautiful daughters, eleven grandchildren and now six great-grandchildren. And they are two of the most influential people in my life when it comes to living with purpose and loving one another (and those around you) with everything you possess.

I have the privilege of being very close to them. They spent their autumns after retirement living and taking care of this very house down the road from my childhood home. And the summer after I graduated from college, the summer I was getting ready to marry husband, a boy I fell in love with who turned into a man with a ring, I lived with these high school sweethearts in their home in Minnesota.

And I am so glad I did, because what I witnessed gave me hope for lasting, true and honest love.

Lifetime love.

Between those walls and behind the windows that faced the lake, the sweethearts kept a quiet routine. My grandmother would take her coffee into bed in the morning and catch up on the news in the nightgown my grandfather no doubt bought her for Christmas that December. My grandfather would dress and read the paper, maybe out in the living room, or on the lawn on a sunny day.  After the news and coffee, my grandfather would most likely make a list of what needed to get done that day—mow the lawn, fix a light switch, clean the boat—and my grandmother would work in her garden, get ready to meet friends in town to play bridge, or take a swim or a walk and be home in time to fix her love some lunch and make dinner plans.

And perhaps this isn’t or hasn’t always been true of their life together, as both of them were working parents raising four children in the city, but since I can remember the two of them always sat down to eat with each other. That was one thing that always struck me as important. Also, my grandfather generally always drives and always fills the gas. My grandmother has her own checking account, knows exactly how to fix her husband’s perfect sandwich and always comments to her girls, her grandkids, about how handsome her husband is, how lucky she is to have him…and then quickly adds, “he’s a pretty lucky guy too, I’m not so bad myself.”

And in the winter of their lives together, this carries on. I am sure my mother has much more to say about the relationship of her parents, the affection, the adoration, the breakfast in bed and the chivalry. But as their grandchild their love for one another has been a gift to me.

Because it has taught me (and bear with me here because I think it is especially important on this hyped up day with all of the pink hearts dangling above our heads and jewelry commercials blaring through the speakers) that love, long term love, even if it began in the fragile and naïve stages of your life, isn’t about the red roses or the diamond ring, although my grandfather has shown that those gestures are important too, especially on days like these…

…in fact, as I sit here I imagine that down there in Arizona, where my grandparents are making their winter home, my grandpa has ordered up some flowers and perhaps even made his sweetheart breakfast in bed.

And my grandmother probably has dinner reservations for tonight.

They’ve had practice with this holiday and these types of celebrations are important to them…

But after the holiday and the grand gestures, their love is about a bit of something else…

…it is about genuine affection and knowing when to put mayo on his sandwich, or taking a moment to make him a sandwich at all. It is about space to play your bridge game and take a swim or a walk or a book club date and the trust that there is someone at home with the light on. It is knowing when to stop the tears and when to just wipe them up when they fall. It is holding hands and making decisions based on what makes you feel good, together, and what allows you to soak up the sun and laugh at the rain.

It is about worrying about the same things while one of you is designated to hold it together. It is about being proud of each other. It is about small gestures done to make the other’s life a little easier—coffee in the morning, a full tank of gas, perfectly folded underwear, compromising on the type of milk to keep in the fridge.

It’s about complete and utter confidence…in yourself…in each other.

And although I don’t doubt my grandparents have had their fair share of hard times, I am going to go ahead and take a wild guess that they have made the conscious choice to make sure they have just as many good times to make up for it.

That’s the way they are. That’s how their love goes.

And thanks to them, I have hope that my love can go that way too…

…from braces to gray hair…

…for a lifetime.