Last fall, when Ben left for college, little Mary scissored a paper heart, wrote his name on it and placed it in her desk to look at when she missed him.


I assuaged my grief in a more material way– a new Nano had just been introduced, we were downtown in front of the Apple store. Flush with longing for my boy I determined to buy him the new model to replace his cracked-screen, only-holds-a-charge-for-an-hour ipod purchased with a summer’s worth of lawn mowing dollars when he was in 8th grade.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with a crowd of Apple enthusiasts and holding the shiny new model in my hand, I called Ben– “I’m looking at the new Nano. Have you seen it online?”

“Yeah, it looks amazing.”

“So what color would you get, blue or green?”

“Green.” Ben replied. “Always green.”

“And would you get the 8GB or 16GB?”

“The more storage the better!”

Slipping the phone back into my purse, I pulled out my American Express, and somewhat to Erik’s dismay, pulled aside the nearest ‘Genius’ and requested a 16GB green Nano.

Delighted with my purchase, I placed the Nano in Ben’s hands a few days later– “It’s your going away to college present.” I crowed.

Ben’s face fell. “This is for me?”

I nodded.

“When you called you were asking about a Nano for me? I thought you were buying one for yourself. Now I feel like a complete brat. I told you to buy the expensive one!”

Still giddy, I pushed it into his hands– “It’s for you, for college. You’ll love it.”

“I can’t mom.” he shook his head, “I just can’t. I feel awful. My old one still works.”

No matter how much I pressed he wouldn’t take it, and even called me the next day to apologize, “I must have sounded like such a brat asking for the 16GB.” To Erik’s delight, the charge went back onto our credit card and Ben remained loyal to his 60 minute, no storage ipod.

Ben is actually Erik Benjamin Jr., and you can see why Erik unhesitatingly handed Ben one of his own credit cards (no name change required) at the beginning of the school year. Ben is completely trustworthy.

See those Ferrero Rochers on the counter? I picked them up for $2 each (usually $9.79). I called Ben from the store boasting of my luck.

In case you are wondering if Valentine’s Day is a good birthday, I’ll assure you that it is the absolute best– parties at school, decorations everywhere and constant reminders on the radio to everyone you know that your big day is coming up.


Rather than a romantic holiday, Valentine’s has always been about love for friends, family, teachers and neighbors at our house. Dozens of cookies pass through our oven and out the door in the weeks leading up to February 14th.


And on the big day we pack into one car and indulge ourselves in doorbell ditching throughout the neighborhood. Children and laughter spill out of the car and into the bushes as we sneak up to each door (and sometimes the wrong doorstep), place cookies and Valentines on the cement and retreat to the car (sometimes losing shoes and jackets; poor Gabe ran into a tree). Always, we think of just one more Valentine we need to deliver and we drive back home with the car stereo booming and eight voices belting the lyrics.


It is the best, purest sort of fun.

Next year our Valentine boy will be in traipsing the streets of Italy on his birthday but I expect we’ll celebrate at home in exactly the same way,

right down to the cake.

Missing Ben has been the prevailing theme of this blog since August, but to be missed is to be loved

and cherished

and adored.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

February 14, 2011
February 17, 2011



  1. Rachelle

    February 16, 2011

    I don’t even know Ben, but I already miss him. You are the best mom ever. I love your blog. ‘Nuff said.

  2. Lisa

    February 16, 2011

    Oh that’s why Ben has such a big heart, he was born on Valentine’s day! And yes, we would love to be part of Ben’s farewell…I’ll bring some delish cupcakes. Send me the details! And I miss him already too…can you make a cardboard cutout of Ben to use as a stand-in for all the family photos?

  3. Tracy

    February 16, 2011

    Oh I cannot imagine how you all feel knowing he is leaving for his mission soon.

    Now isn’t Ben the one who didn’t want to sign Mary up for gymnastics because of the cost? LOL Tell him he needs to spoil his girlfriend/wife someday though. A happy wife….etc.. 😉

    Love you. xo

  4. house of 7

    February 17, 2011

    what a wonderful way to look at having a birthday on a holiday. you are fantastic! my daughters bday is on the 13th and so far LOVES it.

    i love your house… can i move in? ☺

    you write such endearing posts about your kids.

  5. Mitchell Family

    February 17, 2011

    Loved this post. Ben and the Nano story reminds me so much of frugal 19-year-old you. Can’t wait to have Ben come visit.

    Loved that we did the same thing as you on Valentine’s Day without ever mentioning it to each other. So much fun.

  6. Linn

    February 17, 2011

    Happy Birthday Ben! If our sweet Ben turns into a man even a little like you, I will be a proud mama.

  7. Sarah

    February 20, 2011

    I would be one lucky mother if my new “Valentine Baby” turns out like your sweet Ben. What a wonderful son. He sure is going to be missed isn’t he. What a fine man he is.


Comments are closed.