February 11, 2008

Sweet Siblings

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Find more about Valentine's Day, siblings

Like many siblings, my three darlings aren't always nice to each other. Cries of "Mom, Trevor's poking me," "Mom, Brittany isn't playing fair," and "Mom, Ally's not sharing" are more common than I would like to admit.

Last year, I decided Valentine's was an ideal time to get a reprieve from all the bickering by reminding my kids they really do love each other.

On Valentine's Day morning, my children were roused from their slumber by the sweet smells of apples and cinnamon. Their tired faces were quickly transformed when greeted with a plate of heart-shaped buttermilk pancakes -- made from my grandmother's recipe using a turkey baster -- at the breakfast table. Warm apples and cinnamon were ready to top the pancakes after a generous squirt of syrup.

As they ate, I announced some new Valentine's Day rules. Because it was the holiday to celebrate love, there could be no negative words spoken for the entire day, I told them. They could only use kind words and actions.

With their tummies warm and full, the kids were able to get ready for school and off to the bus on time without the usual morning arguments. No one fought over bathroom time or whose turn it was to clear the table. What a great way to start the day, I thought.

I hoped to keep the good vibes going so for dinner, so I made heart-shaped tortellini with marinara sauce. When we sat down to eat, I asked each child to name three things they like about one another while we dined. At first, the kids pretended to need to think harder than necessary to come up with some positive attributes, but the discussion soon turned lively as they each took turns praising one other.

"Brittany, you draw really good. I wish I could make pictures as good as you," Ally said to her sister, who looked at her in surprise. Just last week, Ally had poked fun at Brittany's attempt to draw a horse.

"Ally, you're a great soccer player. I like watching you play because I learn from you," Trevor said. "I hope I can play like you when I'm bigger."

"And Trevor, no one is better than you at Mario Party 7. You always help me get to the next level," Brittany said to her little brother, a well-known video game addict.

It was nice to hear they really do like one another, even though they try to hide it at times. The discussion was so sweet, that I knew we needed to top it off with a Valentine's Day treat. We made Cupid's Delight Cherry Floats by scooping vanilla ice cream into a sundae glass, adding cherry 7-Up and topping with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. It was a lovely end to a loving day.

Do you have ways of getting your kids to appreciate each other more? Click the comments link below to share ideas.

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Sweet Siblings

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