Valentine’s Day History: The Mother of the American Valentine

esther howlandArtist Esther Howland (1828–1904) was the first to publish and sell Valentine cards in the United States. Before Esther, many Valentine cards were hand made with paper, lace, and ribbons and handwritten poetry. By the end of the 19th century, most Valentines were mass-produced by machine, many based on Esther’s designs.

The Howland Family operated the largest book and stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts.  As a young student at The Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Class of 1847, and a contemporary of the poet Emily Dickinson, Esther had been exposed to the annual Valentine celebrations. After graduating at the age of nineteen, she received an intricate English Valentine from one of her fathers’ business acquaintances. She was sure that she was capable of making similar or even better ones.

Persuading her father to order lace paper and other supplies from England and NYC and, with determination, she made a dozen valentine’s samples, which her brother added to his catalog for his next sales trip. Hoping for as much as $200 in orders, they were shocked when her brother returned with more than $5,000 in advance sales, more than she could make herself.  Faced with the huge order, she asked her three best friends to help her. A Valentine assembly line was born at the Howland home.  In 1879, The New England Valentine Company was born.

Esther is credited with several innovations in valentine design: the small brightly colored wafer of paper placed to give contrast under the white paper lace; and the built-up shadow box that became popular in the latter part of her career. While not the only Valentine’s Day card shop, Howland’s became [Read More…]

By |February 10th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Happy Chanukah!

By |December 17th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving! My VERY Favorite Clips!

By |November 27th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Ten Tips for Keeping Peace in the Family during the Holidays



Media images of the holidays are often exaggerated and, before you know it, you’re trying to conform to unrealistic ideals. Combined with the added pressures and demands on your time, this can lead to overload. Just remember that nothing is perfect.

Now that the holiday season is swiftly approaching, you may be wondering if your dysfunctional family dynamics will surface as soon as you get together. Are you worried that your mother’s inquisitive nature will scare off the first girlfriend your son’s had in years? Or that your mother-in-law will think less of you because you didn’t ask her to bring the dessert? [Read More…]

By |November 22nd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |0 Comments

My Letter To You – Dear Stressed Out Over-40 Mom

Dear Stressed Out Over-40 Mom,

I see you.

I know who you are, because I am just like you.
I became a Mom for the first time at 41, and then again, at 44.

I know you think you’re the only Mom who is ‘older’, but you’re not.
I know you think that you’re the only one who struggled with infertility, but you are also not alone when it comes to this issue. [Read More…]

By |November 12th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Excerpts from The Zen of Midlife Mothering – John Simmons

John M. Simmons ZenShould We Take the Only Thing They Have Left?

                                                          By John Simmons

Perhaps we should. My wife and I decided that it was the right thing to change our children’s names as we adopted them. This happened across the board, from Jack, who was only a month old when he joined our family, clear up to Emily who was fifteen.

That really upsets some people. My kids? Not so much. Recently a mom-blogger voiced her disagreement and so I decided to find out what my adopted children really thought. We had never talked about it before.

Whether or not I understand how it feels to have my name changed, my children do.  (My eighteen-year-old with Down syndrome could have been asked the question many times and would have provided contradictory answers, so I’ll leave him out of this particular story.) The children I questioned range in ages from twenty-two, down to nine. Four of the five said they preferred getting a new name. The youngest, my nine-year-old son, said, “I wish I still had my Russian name, but it’s okay….

Each of our five children from Russia bear the names of ancestors of either Amy or me, who left their native lands and migrated to the United States. We have used the stories of those ancestors to show our children that they are not the only ones in our family who left native lands behind. We teach them that emigration is never easy, but that with hard work, it can be worth it. Our children know that our reasons for changing their names were based on love, and wanting [Read More…]

By |August 8th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Excerpts from The Zen of Midlife Mothering- Jane Samuel

Jane Samuel's Zen photoDear Mama: A Letter to My Daughter’s Birthmother

by Jane Samuel

Dear Mama,

Can I call you that? Mama? I know you are not my mother, but that is what she would have called you if she had been permitted to. Had stayed in your arms, in your home, never finding her way to that gate and thus, that spartan, sweltering-in-summer, freezing-in-winter room of crying, hungry, abandoned babies. Unlike me, she would have said it with the right tonal inclination, parroting back your words as you taught her with thought, word and deed who you were – her Mama.

Mama, I have so much to say. So many questions and so many answers. Some for me but most her.  Perhaps you have some too? You should.

First can you tell me, tell her, who you are? Entirely, in every cell of your being. Are you a wife, tied to your husband, and his family, in the traditional, filial way? Or are you single, not ever planning to be mother but left that way after some human-need-driven encounter amidst some backward industrial city of the great China…

Sometimes I have wished we could find you. But I know that is next to impossible, and as she and I have talked she has come to know this too, as hard a fact as it is. Perhaps it is the impossibility of this that makes it safe to dream of meeting you, having you know her and her know you. Because as much as [Read More…]

By |June 16th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |0 Comments

Changes to MotheringintheMiddle.com

Dear Reader: in the upcoming weeks, we’ll be making changes to Mothering – updating the site and image, making it user-friendly and more easily accessible by iphone, ipad, etc. We’ll also be incorporating more photos and images with each essay.

This fall, we’ll be featuring a contest for best new story and best set of images/photos sent in by you – the reader! Winners will receive a free autographed copy of

The Zen of Midlife Mothering

We’ll continue to add writers to our roster and stories defining and examining midlife and the midlife parenting experience.

We look forward to providing you with more stories, information and general news, and growing up with you!

By |June 11th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Your Answers: “You Know Are a Midlife Mother When You….”


  • Have a baby at the age of 47 3/4!
  • Love singing nursery rhymes in the car even if the little person isn’t there to join in.
  • Can’t believe how blessed and fortunate you are to have a child even when you’re changing the most explosive nappy, or struggling to stay awake the day after a sleepless night.
  • Are happy to be in on a Friday evening folding small clothes when everyone else is out on the town.  Ellie Stoneley
  • When you find yourself at the chiropractor’s office as often as the elementary school.
  • When your young child points out your increasing gray hair, daily.
  • When your over 50 multi vitamin bottle sits atop the Flinstone’s chewables. Maureen O’Neill Davis 
  • Don’t flinch when a school friend asks your child if you are the grandmother. You just smile! Karen Du Toit
  • You are not interested in adding new people into life’s highly valued and precious time, like when you were younger. Midlife brings a sense of knowing who you are, what you want and who you chose to spend precious time with or to have in your children’s circle of friends.  Monique Faison Ross
  • When you are changing your son’s diaper and having a hot flash at the same time. DeAnna Scott
  • You know you are a midlife mother when your roots are growing out, not because you can’t afford to color, or even because you are too busy, but because you just don’t care anymore! Joely Johnson Mork
  • If your parents are old enough to be in diapers and your kids are young enough to be in diapers.
  • If you are old enough to be the parents of some of the parent’s in your child’s [Read More…]
By |May 30th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Mother’s Day Q&A with Faydra Koenig – America’s Divorce Coach

faydra koenigQ- Faydra, this year Mother’s Day falls on my weekend with the children. I know it sounds selfish, but I don’t want to give up my time with the kids. Is it wrong for me to expect her to let them be with me this weekend? -James, Iowa

 A- James, you present a question that comes up a lot with divorced couples. When families are already divided by time and location, it is difficult to want to deviate from the custody plan. Typically, families are in agreement that Mother’s day and Father’s day are spent with the respective parent. I would ask that you put your motives in check and if you aren’t just trying to hurt your ex by default, see if there is a mutual compromise. Perhaps the children can come and go home early for Mother’s day on Sunday. Perhaps your ex isn’t as affected as you might think, and is comfortable celebrating on an alternate day. Communication is key and remember what you sow you shall reap next month on Father’s day. When in doubt, let kindness rein. [Read More…]

By |May 29th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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