Lisa Thornbury wasn’t a fan of Valentine’s Day… until her kids showed her what the occasion was really about: kindness.
By Sarah Fox
Lisa Thornbury won’t stop until she’s the best… her best self, that is. A teacher-turned-freelance writer, the mother of two is known for sharing her day-to-day experiences on Forever In Mom Genes—a blog after the heart of all parents.
While her blog is all about passing on a message of love, February 14th—the international day of amore—has never been a big one for Lisa. In fact, she jokes about having a “cold anti-Valentine’s Day heart.”
Then her children came along.
More than a little enthusiastic about cupid’s day, son Sebastian and daughter Avery—the younger of the two—slowly caused the cold front once enveloping Valentine’s Day to dissipate. Soon, Lisa began to embrace the day as an opportunity for her and her kids to “let your love flow by telling your friends and classmates how much you care.” As for the “how” of it all, that came wrapped up in an initiative called WE Bake for Change. (Spoiler alert: delicious recipe to come!)
With Lisa’s focus on charitable living and her 14-year-old son being an avid baker, it was a no-brainer when it came to the family banning together for a fundraiser centered around a bake sale to fight food insecurity in WE Villages’ partner communities.
More a passionate consumer of her son’s delicious treats than a baker herself, Lisa credits her mom for teaching Sebastian the secret to whipping up batches of yumminess. “He wasn’t so much, ‘inspired’ to bake, as he was desperate for cookies that didn’t taste like sawdust,” she laughs. The mom is also mindful to mention how much help little sis Avery provides as her son’s official “assistant,” whenever there’s baking to be done.
Baking is just one constant in Lisa’s household. Now an ardent supporter of all-things-Valentines, she’s adding cute customs like styling her daughter’s hair in heart-shaped braids and serving up ketchup hearts on the kid’s dinner plates to their roster of traditions, alongside WE Bake for Change.
As February 14th approaches, the prospect of filling bellies across the world by warming hearts with baked goods and the spirit of volunteerism has Lisa and family all loved up. What’s on the menu for the fundraiser this year? They’re called Sweetheart Sweet Tart Raspberry Lemon Loaves and they’re a deliciously tart lemon loaf, accented with raspberries and a Valentine’s-inspired pink glaze.
Looking to introduce some heart-felt Valentine’s Day traditions to your family? Below, Lisa shares tips for celebrating the occasion as family—including giving back as one. Bonus: Sebastian shares his recipe for Sweetheart Sweet Tart Raspberry Lemon Loaves!
Lisa’s tips for filling your home with kindness this Valentine’s Day
Skip the commercialization.
I’m not a Valentine’s Day kind of gal. [But] any chance to celebrate anything and [my kids] are all over it. So—since I’m not a monster—I get on board. I like thinking of Valentine’s Day as a day to focus on being mindful by spreading the message of kindness, love and inclusion by giving not gifting. Turn giving inward and do something kind for yourself. Then, turn it outward and do something kind for someone else—a friend, a family member, or even better, a perfect stranger. [Switching] the focus from gifting to giving makes Valentine’s Day pretty sweet.
Encourage the power of kindness and love through everyday moments.
I think all kids go through an egocentric stage where everything is about them. It’s our job as adults to help kids to move out of that stage—and to see and experience the value in sharing and thinking of others.
People with disabilities can make some people uncomfortable. Avery, [who is diagnosed with a rare chromosome deletion/duplication] is sincerely the kindest person I know; she’s all love, all the time. [For] kids who have a sibling with special needs, [it] seems to soften their hearts in response to their sibling who is incapable of being unkind or hateful. Then as they grow, they just naturally extend that empathy and compassion to everyone around them.
Turn your kid’s interests into an opportunity to bond as a family.
Thankfully, [my mom] and my son share a love of sifting, so the recipes passed down through our family won’t die with me. Activities like WE Bake for Change are an example of a fun, but meaningful activities that demonstrates how deliciously easy it can be to give. We thought [the kids] could sell the [Sweetheart Sweet Tart Raspberry Lemon Loaves] in a digital bake sale on Facebook. We’d like to donate the proceeds to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The heart connection to Valentine’s Day is obvious, but we also have a family connection to heart disease, and whenever we can support the HSF, we do.
1/2 softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup fresh raspberries
1-2 lemons (for fresh lemon juice and zest) *can also use bottled fresh juice
1/2 cup icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a loaf tin. Toss 3/4 cup of fresh raspberries with 1 tablespoon flour and set aside.
Cream white sugar and butter together and beat in the eggs. Add flour and baking powder, mixing well to combine. Stir in the milk and zest from at least one lemon. Fold in the floured raspberries.
Spoon into tin and bake for 55 minutes or until golden. (A skewer in the middle of the loaf should come out clean)
Prick all over with a skewer and cool for 10 minutes.
Mash the remaining 1/4 cup raspberries with lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl. Push through a sieve, mashing with the back of the spoon to strain out the seeds. Spoon the thin raspberry glaze over the warm loaf.
Cool completely in the tin before turning out.
Optional: Decorate with more raspberries.