by Melissa Jaramillo
While you celebrate the love of family every day, Valentine's Day presents an extra special opportunity to connect that message with the ones you love.
Candy, flowers, and hearts abound! Pink and red floods the store aisles. The smell of chocolate permeates the air.
Are you still not finding that special something that captures your personal "I love you" for your unique crew?
Toss aside those materialistic thoughts for a moment.
We have a challenge for you this February 14th!
Give a gift insured to create treasured memories for generations. Give your kids the gift that they want most of all -- time with you!
Love your bump
Send a flood of loving to your baby bean. Sit down, close your eyes and place both hands on your belly. Breathe in and out while visualizing your tiny one playing, sucking on a thumb, smiling and feeling your love.
Pick out cards together. Take your baby bump shopping for cards. As you read the messages and choose the perfect one for each special person, share how they've touches your lives. You're surrounding your child in a web of love, even before they're born.
Hugs and snuggles baby style
Create a gift together. Tap into your baby's creativity as you two make a hearty craft. Along with those hugs and kisses, your child will enjoy putting a smile on someone else's face.
Share songs, hugs and cuddle. Bundle up, snuggle up in the sling and go for a walk. If the weather's not cooperating put on your favorite "melts-your-heart" music and do the baby boogie.
Make a mess together. Spray the kitchen (you might want to cover with a vinyl tablecloth) or high chair with whipping cream. Then trace out shapes, squiggles or faces. and decorating faces. And why limit "art" to the table top. Have a mirror handy to see yourself with a beard or tiger stripes. To clean up, wipe the table and bathe the babe.
Sharing the love preschool-style
Make a card. Get out the glue, paper, pre-cut paper hearts and a bowl of embellishments. Mesh the complexity with your child's disposition and ability. Some preschoolers can cut or draw out a heart. Others prefer merely adding some "bling." While you're working, talk about friendship.
Do the "Valentine hop." Build an obstacle course together in the living room. Add a few paper hearts and direction arrows. Then dance, jump, and hop. End when you collapse in giggles and hugs.
Saying "I Love You" to older kids
Scatter post it notes. Leave little love notes around the house -- taped to the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator and by the front door.
Plan a movie night. Everyone chooses a movie. The twist? The movie must be one that their "Valentine" would love. Enjoy some snuggle time, the special movies and a hearty snack.
Involve the whole family
Start a special tradition at dinner. Everyone thinks of one thing they like or admire about each other person. (Don't expect miracles from siblings: be happy with even the most watered-down compliments!)
Serve an "I Love You" cake. Bake your cake in a square pan and a round pan. Then cut the round cake in half and place the two halves on the circle on the square to form a cake. Invite your children to help with either the baking or decorating or both.
In the comments below, add ways to say "I love you" to your child. Our challenge to you: One for each day of the year -- not just on Valentine's Day.