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Valentine’s Day ’
Friday, February 14th, 2014
Whether you planned it this way or not, Valentine’s Day is here and you don’t have a babysitter. Although you and your partner may not be in for a night of wining and dining, it doesn’t mean you have to scratch the special day altogether. After all, Valentine’s Day is a holiday you can celebrate with whomever you love, right? Here is our fool-proof plan to please the kids and the grownups at home tonight.
Show the munchkins some love with a kid-friendly dinner.
Who says mac ‘n’ cheese is just for kids? This yummy comfort food will make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside and satisfy the whole family. And since it’s a special occasion, try spicing up your homemade mac or the go-to boxed version with one of our 21 spins on the classic dish. We especially love the “Little Italy” recipe with spinach, oregano, and chili flakes. It tastes fancier than it is to make (which is always a good thing).
While chowing down on your pasta, feel free to bust out your favorite wine glasses and pour yourself a glass of 100 percent grape juice (we like Welch’s, which has the same heart healthy antioxidants as red wine). While it’s no Cabernet, you’ll have more energy to keep the kiddos entertained than if you were sipping the good stuff.
One of the best parts of St. Valentine’s special day? The sweets! Finish off your faux-Italian dining experience with some tiramisu gelato. Recently, a batch of Breyer’s new gelato made its way into the Parents offices and was gone in a matter of minutes. ‘Nuff said.
Indulge in fun Valentine’s Day kid crafts and activities.
Start a Valentine’s Day tradition by creating cards, treats, and other crafts with the kiddos. Your little ones will love making you a Valentine keepsake and your heart will melt from their sweet little notes and scribbles. After you’ve completed your crafts, start winding down with one of our 50 Best Movies for Kids. We think 101 Dalmatians and Shrek are the perfect “love stories” for families.
Have adults-only after hours.
If you can manage to make it through dinner, crafts, and movies without falling asleep (it’s been a long week, hasn’t it?), reward yourself with some one-on-one time with your partner-in-crime. Feel free to exchange the grape juice for your favorite bottle of wine and pop in a romantic movie. According to a study by the University of Rochester, couples who watched love stories like “The Notebook” or “Terms of Endearment” and discussed them afterwords strengthened their relationship as much as couples who had been attending therapy together.
Then, be sure to check out our tips for finding the perfect babysitter, so you can have a date-night next week.
Find more Valentine’s Day activities for your kiddos here.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock: beautiful girl with heart. valentine’s day concept
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Thursday, February 13th, 2014
With successful careers and growing families, it can be challenging to keep a high-profile marriage happy and healthy.
But for five celebrity couples, including Gena Lee Nolin and husband Cale Hulse, and Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-Lee Furness, keeping the flame alive is par for the course.
Let’s look at some of our favorite celebrity parents and hear how they keep their love alive.
Gena Lee Nolin:
Mom-of-four Gena Lee Nolin and her husband, former NHL star Cale Hulse, are parents to four children: Spencer, 16, Caia, 11, Hudson, 6, and Stella, 4.
But the Baywatch alum is sure to keep the romance alive amidst their busy family life.
“Love is beautiful when it’s right — it can’t be bought, it can’t be forced and it should never hurt [abusive],” she blogged for Celebrity Baby Scoop. “The moments of hardships and the growing pains we go through together make it real. If it were always easy, it would be a bore. Great things in life are worth fighting for, and that usually requires work.”
She added: “I am so blessed to have found a man who accepts me for me. He’s never once told me what, where or how I should do something. He allows me to be me and loves my silly-willy ways. He encourages my family and friends to be around, he’s a very confident man that wants to see me happy (as I do for him). Unconditional love is such a rare gift — that’s accepting your partner exactly the way they are.”
As for their plans on Valentine’s Day, the couple are planning a romantic evening together.
“This Valentine’s Day will be spent with our children, decorating boxes for school parties and cutting lots of pink and red hearts,” she shared. “Then we’re off for a quiet dinner for two followed by a night at a hotel with my Valentine. Zzzzzzz!”
The Biggest Loser star Alison Sweeney and husband David Sanov are parents to two kids: son Ben, 9, and daughter Megan, 5.
To keep their marriage strong, the Days of our Lives actress says they enjoy plenty of alone time together.
“Dave and I make a point to have time to ourselves, even if it’s only going for a hike or watching a movie,” Alison shared with Cupid’s Pulse. “This time together enables us to keep our connection strong. We cook dinner together and then watch Survivor or Breaking Bad and just hang out.”
As for her best love advice, Alison said: “Enjoy life, meet people and know that you’ll meet the right guy who will explain all the wrong ones along the way.”
She added, “With Dave, there was definitely a spark that led to our relationship and two incredible kids.”
Orange Is the New Black star Alysia Reiner and husband, actor David Alan Basche, are parents to 5-year-old daughter Livia. The actress says this Valentine’s Day is especially important to her.
“Lately with David shooting The Exes in LA and me shooting Orange in NYC, we have been sorely lacking in date nights!” she shared with Celebrity Baby Scoop.
She added: “We don’t usually do a big deal for Valentine’s Day. I prefer the surprise flowers, secret love note, or sweep-away weekend to a calendar-enforced box of chocolates any date! But this year is special to me because I co-designed a locket and 100% of the proceeds go to the Women’s Prison Association. So the biggest gift I want this year is a lot of men to buy it for their ladies and raise a ton of money for WPA.”
Wolverine star Hugh Jackman and his wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness, have two kids: son Oscar, 13, and Ava, 8. The hunky actor opened up to Your Tango about their “thrilling” love affair.
“I run into people, really powerful, big people, who say, ‘Congrats to you, but your wife is really one of the most talented.’ And every time I hear that, it reminds me of the sacrifice she’s made, her selflessness, her love and what she’s done for the kids,” Hugh shared.
“We always made family a priority but I’m acutely aware, everyday, that actually, when it comes to sacrifices, Deb has shouldered most of those,” he added. “In fact, I was telling her right now, ‘You need to get back to work because you’re just too good to waste that talent. Everyone needs to see it.’”
As for their seemingly perfect family life, Hugh admits he’s not perfect.
“If you ask my wife, the biggest fault is my inability around the house,” he shared. “She says the only thing handy about me is that I’m close by. And, I have a terrible memory. I’m bad at saying no. I often double-book. There are a lot of things.”
“I have a terrific marriage, but unlike a lot of relationships where they ebb and flow, no matter what happens you fall deeper and deeper in love every day,” he said. “It’s kind of the best thing that can happen to you. It’s thrilling.”
He continued: “The thing I find hard is that a lot of people won’t even see her, and they’ll obviously be talking to her to get to me. I’ve seen Deb literally be knocked out of the way. She just knocks ‘em back. She’s a morning person. Deb pops up, and it’s, ‘Come on, baby. Let’s go!’ Yet at night, she falls asleep instantly, sometimes in mid-conversation. She’s fallen asleep during every movie I’ve ever done.”
And lastly, his best relationship advice is: ”Your wife is always right. Very simple. I think I’m going to get it tattooed on my forehead.”
Suits star Sarah Rafferty and husband, stock analyst Aleksanteri Olli-Pekka ‘Santtu’ Seppälä, are parents to two daughters: Oona, 6, and Iris, 2.
The actress shared her “offbeat” Valentine’s Day plans with Celebrity Baby Scoop.
“We try to do something offbeat for Valentine’s Day, and don’t ever really celebrate it right on the day. I don’t even try to get a reservation that night for dinner,” she shared.
She added: “Last year, we got a babysitter and we went to a local ski mountain and enjoyed some quick runs and then we were home for dinner with the kids. We like to take hikes. If we can carve out a couple of hours where can talk to each other without being interrupted, we find that to be an incredibly romantic day or night. We’re so tired by the time night comes around as well. I’m a big fan of having a date during the day. We might go out to lunch or to a spa.”
Use our Baby Name Finder to find the perfect name for your little one, check out which celebrities are pregnant, or find last minute Valentine’s Day gifts and decor at Shop Parents.
More celebrity & parenting news:
Gwen Stefani’s Top 10 Maternity Looks
Gena Lee Nolin’s Blog: How To Keep Your Love Alive
A Look At 5 Winter Olympic Parents
CelebrityBabyScoop.com is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on CelebrityBabyScoop.com.
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Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Thinking of buying flowers or chocolates for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day? Roses and bonbons are classics for good reason, but consider a more savory idea. Something you know your spouse really wants.
Yes, I’m talking about bacon.
Back in September I was the most popular girl in the office (and on my Facebook feed) after I received a bacon bouquet from Smithfield. At first glance it looked just like a bunch of long-stemmed roses. But after a closer look—and sniff—the flowers turned out to be little bundles of porky goodness.
Smithfield has kindly shared bouquet-making instructions with us. If you’re feeling crafty, this is one Valentine’s Day gift I suspect most husbands (and, heck, most wives) will swoon for.
Valenswine’s Day Bacon Bouquet
Makes 12 Roses
1 Package of Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon
12 Rose Stems
1 Mini Muffin Pan
1 Drill with bit (1/8” suggested)
1 Broiler Pan
1 Glass Vase
STEP 1: Prepare your pan
Drill holes into the bottom of the mini muffin pan. These holes will allow the bacon drippings to drain while the bacon cooks. Place mini muffin pan on top of broiler pan.
STEP 2: Prepare your bacon rose buds
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Open pack of Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon and tightly roll the individual rose buds, one slice at a time.
Place all bacon rose buds into the mini muffin pan. Slightly push the bacon rose buds down for added support.
Place bacon rose buds, muffin pan, and broiler pan in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Check on the bacon rose buds occasionally.
STEP 3: Prepare your rose stems
While waiting for your bacon rose buds to cook, pull all roses off their stems.
Typical components of a faux flower include a rose stem, green leaves, a green cap, and petals. Discard all flower petals, and with only green components remaining, reassemble.
STEP 4: Assemble your bacon roses
When bacon rose buds are fully cooked, remove from oven and place on paper towel to cool.
Pick your best looking rose buds and carefully slide them onto the protruding stems.
Arrange roses in a glass vase to your liking.
STEP 5: Present & enjoy!
Share the deliciousness with someone you love.
Not in the mood for bacon? Find recipes for more traditional, no-pork-added treats.
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Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Is there any better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with food? Some have even said the stomach is the way to the heart, a mantra we embrace. Just in time for the holiday, here is a list of treats that you can give to others… or yourself. We won’t judge.
For a special candy treat, try Lake Champlain’s Friendly Frog Valentine Chocolates set. Kids will enjoy the fun heart-shaped gift box printed with their very own frog prince. Six assorted chocolates await inside, two of each flavor including chocolate, peanut butter and caramel. ($11, LakeChamplainChocolates.com)
For a unique twist on traditional holiday candies, Harry & David is offering a set of I LUV U Valentine Praline Pops. The pralines are made with caramel using whipped cream and pecan pieces. Each pop is individually wrapped, so you can divide between three loved ones. (Or between two loved ones and, um, yourself.) ($19.95, HarryAndDavid.com)
For a more traditional approach to a Valentine’s Day treat, Ghirardelli Impressions is the way to go. Each milk chocolate square is printed with a white or dark chocolate heart in the middle. In addition to the regular-size bags, Ghirardelli is also offering new mini bag for only $1 — perfect for giving to school friends. (Ghirardelli.com)
For a vegan option, Farm Sanctuary offers up this “Milk” Chocolate Heart. But wait, there’s more! The heart opens up to reveal even more organic vegan treats inside. Not only will the gift spread your love to your kids, or even yourself, you’ll also be helping abused and neglected farm animals through the purchase. Eating chocolate while helping cute animals? That’s a win-win. ($18, FarmSanctuary.org)
The Chew co-host and Top Chef alum Carla Hall is ready to share her little bites of love with everybody. The Carla Hall Petite Cookies are bite-sized treats in sweet and savory varieties including Mexican chocolate chip, almond ginger cherry shortbread and Harissa spiced nuts. The cookies also make great little snacks for dolls and tea parties. ($8 and up, CarlaHall.com)
For the height of decadence, Ike’s Cookies offers a box of Lover’s Gold. Because, seriously, what says “I love you” more than gold? Each order comes in an elegantly packaged box of 15 dark chocolate cookies wrapped in 23-carat gold leaf. As you bake them (instructions included) the cookie expands to create a crinkle effect, but instead of being covered in powdered sugar, the cookies are covered in gold. Yes, edible gold. The cookies, made from organic and locally sourced ingredients, are easy to make and come out chewy and delicious. It may be a little extravagant, but Valentine’s Day only happens once a year, right? ($48, IkesCookies.com)
Not in the mood for store-bought products this year? No problem! You can also try some of our homemade Valentine’s Day sweets and candy recipes, perfect for telling someone special how much they mean to you.
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Friday, January 17th, 2014
One candy that’s stood the test of time is Sweethearts Conversation Hearts. First made in 1902, the candies known for cute messages have become the bestselling non-chocolate treat of Valentine’s Day. I’d like to think that’s because Sweethearts really let you say how you feel. Sure, chocolate and presents are nice, but nothing is more direct than seeing the words “Be Mine” or “Kiss Me” tacked on to your heart-shaped candy.
Now, Sweethearts’ maker The New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) is taking personal endearment an extra step. The company recently launched Sweethearts Color Your Own packaging geared toward encouraging kids’ creativity. Black and white matte boxes make for the perfect canvas to draw a special design with crayons or markers. Kids will love customizing a box for family, classmates, or even a special valentine.
After your little artist has had fun coloring, help him enter NECCO’s Color Your Own contest celebrating the candy’s new look. From now until March 1, kids ages 5-12 can submit their one-of-a-kind Sweethearts box online by uploading a picture. There are three separate age categories, and in each a grand prize of a $1,000 savings bond. Plus, your munchkin may just get the chance to see her personal saying appear on Sweethearts’ candy next Valentine’s Day season in 2015.
For more info on prizes and rules, be sure to visit NECCO’s contest page. In the meantime, watch one of our Valentine’s Day craft videos with your child for a little inspiration!
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Crafts, GoodyBlog, Holidays, Time for Fun
Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Check out blog posts by Rosie Pope, star of Bravo’s “Pregnant in Heels,” every week at Parents.com!
Okay, so I am going to be bold and write about something that, to be completely honest, makes me a little embarrassed! I am British, after all, and we tend to be a bit awkward about these things. But then again, I don’t think most of us find this subject easy. Not until we’ve had a glass or three of wine any way!
But, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it apt to address the subject of keeping that spark alive (hope my parents aren’t reading this!). As uncomfortable as it may make us to talk about it, it’s extremely important in a relationship, and our relationships affect both how happy we and of course our children are.
It is undeniable that over time, no matter how in love a couple is, keeping the flame alive can be difficult, at least on a regular basis: kids in the bed, the sound of a baby cooing (or crying) on the monitor, total exhaustion…. Sound familiar? It takes–dare I say it?–work to muster up the energy or even find the time. But when you do, and the more you do, the easier it becomes and the more you enjoy it. It’s sort of like exercise (actually, it is exercise: bonus!), and well, practice makes perfect.
There are two easy, great tricks I want to share that you can implement immediately, at zero dollars and don’t involve rushing out to buy some crazy lingerie, chocolate-covered strawberries, or some bizarre accessories.
1. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Waiting for this amazing moment when the romantic stars align is just not going to happen. So pick a moment, any moment the kids are in bed, and go with it, sweatpants and all.
2. Remind yourself of your love story. Every couple has one, even if it was a long time ago. Tell yourself that story on your way home, whether it is the moment you met, your first date, your honeymoon. I promise it will make you smile and when you walk through that door or when he does, you’ll look at him with sparks again.
Dedicate yourself to these two easy steps and this Valentine’s Day will be one to remember. Even if you can’t get a babysitter and you’re not out at some fancy dinner, you’ll be off to a very romantic 2013!
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Monday, February 4th, 2013
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
I remember when I first held you in my arms and instantly knew how deeply I loved you. You were so tiny and helpless. You knew nothing and depended on me for everything. I was nervous because there was so much to learn and so much to teach. You were a tiny, gorgeous blob of clay. Since that first moment, it has been my joy and privilege to be your sculptor, to shape you into the beautiful child you are today and to continue shaping you into the responsible, moral, and loving adult I pray you will be someday. It’s my job to make you feel happy and loved. To protect, comfort, guide, inspire, and motivate you. It’s a wonderful job, the best in the world. But it’s a hard job, and sometimes I still get nervous.
There are times when I do or say things that you don’t yet understand, and they upset you. I try to explain but some things will make sense only when you’re older. As a parent, I have to make rules and set limits that may seem unfair. Like when I make you eat vegetables or do homework, when I say something isn’t healthy or something is too expensive, when I tell you it’s bedtime or you’ve had enough TV or you need to clean your room. You may think I don’t love you when all I do is say “no,” especially on days when it seems like I’m saying it a lot.
My days are very busy, with lots of grown-up things I need to do. Sometimes I have less time and energy to spend with you than either of us would wish. You may think I don’t love you when I’m too tired to play or when an important phone call interrupts us, when I have to work on the weekend, when I have a meeting during your soccer game, or when I come home late or have to leave town. You may think I don’t love you when I say, “I can’t right now,” especially on days when it seems like I’m saying it a lot.
As hard as I try to do things right, sometimes I make mistakes. Grown-ups aren’t perfect. You may think I don’t love you when I lose my temper or raise my voice, when I blame you for something you didn’t do, when I don’t notice the good things you did do, or when I say something that hurts your feelings or embarrasses you.
But I want you to know this: Even during the times when it may seem like I don’t love you, I really do. Very, very much. With all my heart and soul. I love you more than anything else in the world.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweet, wonderful child.
Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).
Image: Red paper envelope with white heart via Shutterstock.
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Monday, January 9th, 2012
Looking for an awesome surprise for your valentine? We can help! Just in time for Valentine’s Day (and Mardi Gras!), we’re teaming up with Zatarain’s to send one reader and his or her sweetheart on a romantic trip for two to New Orleans. One lucky winner and guest will score a two-night stay in the French Quarter at Omni Royal New Orleans, $1,000 coach airfare vouchers, a $250 gift card to one of Chef John Besh’s exclusive restaurants for a VIP dining experience in the Big Easy, and a Zatarain’s prize pack! To enter to win, post a comment below in the comments section from now until 11:59 EST on February 6. For full contest rules, click here. Make sure to visit Zatarain’s Facebook page or Twitter feed @MyZatarains. And Goody Luck!
UPDATE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!
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