Friday, February 15, 2008

One more reason I homeschool

There are many, many advantages to homeschooling, but Valentines Day has become one more reason I love it.

Yesterday afternoon I was banished to my office with the door closed (I know, rough sentence I had to serve, alone in my office with the computer!) for a time while the children prepared their "Holiday Restaurant."

This all started a few years ago, when I had no idea what to get David for Valentines Day. We had young children and didn't feel it monetarily appropriate to dine out, but I wanted to do something. So the kids and I made a cozy spot in our basement for a table for two. I fixed all the food, and while David and I dined alone downstairs, the kids ate upstairs. The kids loved decorating the basement and serving us the food in courses, and a variation of this has been done each year since.

This year though was the best. It started about a week ago when David was given an invitation. Imagine a pink construction heart folded in half. On the outside, "A Valentine's Offer!" On the inside, : "Come to the Holiday Restaurant for a Valentine's meal and movie. The cost is free on Valentine's Day and the food is great. Take your sweetheart out and have a great time!"

Monday they made sugar cookie dough, Tuesday they baked the cookies, again I was not allowed in the kitchen during this time. Thursday, Valentine's Day, they asked me to make the frosting and divide it into three colors, red, white and pink. I obliged and then they banned me from the school room while they decorated the cookies.

It was later that afternoon that I couldn't go into the kitchen. For a time, as I said, I was only allowed in the office, but then I could come into our living room. I sat and continued reading my book, "The Three Musketeers." I heard the children in the kitchen, sometimes fighting, and bickering, but mostly I heard sounds of chopping and kettles and other "cooking noises." David came home shortly after 5 pm, he sat down with me in the living room and we enjoyed a nice time of conversation about our day. At 6 pm, we were told the restaurant was ready for us. I had to make a stop in the kitchen to make our strawberry daiquiris, but I could do that with my back to where the main cooking was done.

Upon descending the stairs to "The Holiday Restaurant," we saw a beautifully thought out, decorated room. Everything was cleaned, the rope lighting overhead was on, the candle-abra on the table was lit. A red tablecloth was covered with one of lace, the silverware was rolled in a nice white linen napkin and a hand-written menu and Valentine's cards were awaiting us as we sat down. On the side table another cloth (pink) was covering it with a red poinsettia as decoration; underneath a cd player which was begun upon our sitting, and throughout the meal the strains of Bach were heard.

Our first course was brought soon after sitting, a delicious salad on my good china. The presentation was simply beautiful, the time and love and pride in creating this salad was apparent. A glass pitcher of ice-water was placed upon the table and then we were left to dine on our scrumptious salad. But the wait staff was always very prompt and considerate, coming several times to see if we needed anything and when we were ready for the main course.

After we had finished, our plates were taken away and our main dish was served, "Yummy Creamy Chicken" served on top of rotini noodles. It was a delicious blend of cubed chicken, chopped carrots, celery, onions, peppers, and peas in a creamy sauce with hints of garlic. It was very, very tasty and again the presentation on the plate was superb! They also served our daiquiris with our meal and while we ate, the staff fed themselves upstairs, but never forgot to check on us to see if we needed anything or how we were enjoying our meal.

After the meal, it was dessert time. David and I knew it was heart-shaped sugar cookies as they had shared one with us after our noon meal. But they had a surprise for us. Down came a great big heart-shaped cookie for each of us, decorated with white frosting, trimmed in red and a pink initial in the middle. I don't have a cookie cutter that size, they had cut it out by hand, and the surprise was nice. Besides being delicious, the surprise in our eyes added to the satisfaction in the children's eyes.

As we ate, David and I talked about how lucky we are to have such thoughtful children. Hannah, our oldest is the planner and comes up with these ideas and sees them through, Ellie was the one who did the presentation of food on the plate, and Nathan, Abby, and Sam helped where they could. These are children who range in age from 12 - 5 and they cooked an entire meal, one they had never done before, by themselves without any assistance from me except the two things I mentioned above. (Note to self, more Emeril kid's cookbooks are needed.)

For our children, who are homeschooled and out-of-touch, Valentine's Day means doing something nice for Dad and Mom, not sending candy-kiss grams, or orange crush, or picking "the best lips" or teasing and being teased about who likes whom. I think that is really nice and to show them we loved them and appreciated all their hard work, David and I cleaned up the kitchen and for that, they were entirely grateful.


Jane said...

That is SO sweet. What a great Valentine's Day!

Kristi Heinz said...

How great is that! I am thinking you are correct! I would have much rather had that than the conversation hearts and suckers that some parents sent to their kids and others didn't. It is always a difficult day at school for some.

I, however, digress from such things a bit. We planned for a week and worked hard on things to celebrate Chinese New Year. It was a BLAST! I will share pictures when I get them ready. Keep an eye on my blog, but not until next week. We have a CRAZY weekend ahead!