Happy February!  Happy Valentine’s Month!  Happy Sugar High!  When my eldest started kindergarten, she was exposed to the wide world of sweets and sugar, much to my chagrin.  On any given day, they use Skittles as “spacers” between words and choose partners for projects by drawing matching Dum-Dum pops.  On Valentine’s Day, parents were asked to supply M&Ms and Hershey Kisses for the class party; just to name a few of the many occasions. While it may seem that I’m anti-sugar, I actually aim for balance.  So this Valentine’s Day and throughout the month of February, I am actively seeking healthy alternatives to the traditional treats…especially seeing as my eldest will be getting plenty of sweets at school.  Fortunately, in and around Annapolis you’ll find many ways to satisfy your desire for kid-friendly, healthy Valentine-themed activities.

This year, I’m giving my little Valentines bath robes and books.  So naturally, I am also checking out what’s going on at my local library!  The Anne Arundel County Public Library is hosting two special story times back-to-back on Tuesday, February 14 beginning at 9:30 am at the Annapolis Branch.  These Valentine programs are aimed at children ages 18 months – 36 months and feature stories, songs and crafts. Visit the Anne Arundel County Public Library for more information.

My favorite place to go when I need healthy inspiration is Whole Foods. I could easily spend a morning perusing their aisles and sipping their coffee (but that never happens with three children!). If my weekly menus are in a rut, I turn to their cooking classes for variety. Whole Foods offers a mix of adult classes and children’s classes every month. On Friday, February 17, if you’re able to book a babysitter check out the Couples Date Night cooking class from 6:30 until 8:30 pm. More information on that event can be found here. Check out the Half Pint Kids Club for your young chef.  Every Tuesday morning, kids can join the professionals at Whole Foods for a fun filled culinary or craft workshop followed by a store tour and samples.  I love that the ingredients used are all-natural.  This Tuesday, which is also Valentine’s Day, the Half Pint Kids Club will be decorating a cookie: Not sugar-free, but all-natural!  Check it out here.

If you miss the activities on Valentine’s Day itself, never fear!  You can spread the love throughout the month.  Stop by The Clay Bakers on Main Street in Annapolis and join a number of classes available throughout the month for teens. There’s also events at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts through the month, including a parent/teenager glass-fusing class on Valentine’s Day.  With the weather is warming up again this week and my favorite place to spend time with my four-year-old son is in the great outdoors.  Quiet Waters Park is one of our favorite spots, but Anne Arundel County offers more than just awesome trails!  This Saturday, February 18, take your young outdoor-guy or gal to The Great Backyard Bird Count at Beverly Triton Beach Park from 8:00 until 11:00 am.  If you’re not an early riser, head over to nearby Downs Park in Pasadena to Build a Birdhouse from 12:00 pm until 2:00 pm.

No matter what you choose to do with the little sweethearts in your life, remember to savor the moments!  Enjoy!