Dear Columbus Parents

Jane Hawes

I enjoy the ritual of Valentine's Day gifts. They're not the deluge that comes with the December holidays, so they can feel more thoughtful and personal. Even better, they're often handmade.

As much as I have loved getting the handmade valentines and handwritten letters from my children when they were little, I can tell you now that those gifts appreciate exponentially in "mom value" (especially now that they're old enough to make me an edible breakfast in bed or actually earn the money to buy me exquisite earrings from our local Global Village shop). Save those cock-eyed heart shapes and misspelled love letters if you aren't already because there is nothing that will take you back faster to your early parenting years than spending quality time sifting through these gifts.

And I love making the handmade gifts myself, too, whether it's my own card (hidden in a lunch box right where it can embarrass a teenager in the cafeteria) or a thoughtful dinner (for when my husband, the college swim coach, gets back from his conference championships that are ALWAYS scheduled on the actual Valentine's Day. But I digress….). The point is these handmade gifts really do come from the heart and what could be more appropriate on Valentine's Day?

So our February issue has more than a few ideas for the handmade gift, whether it's chocolate-covered strawberries, a terrarium or a mixed CD!

And we've also got an update on Clintonville for our Neighborhood Spotlight. The last time we featured this great neighborhood was in our August 2010 issue (our inaugural redesign and relaunch issue). We're now beginning to revisit and update our Neighborhood Spotlights. Writer Melissa Kossler Dutton has done an amazing job getting to know neighborhoods throughout central Ohio, and she and I were both blown away by how much Clintonville has expanded upon its 2010 awesomeness for family-friendly things to do. If you don't already know your way around Clintonville, please use Melissa's guide to check it out!

I hope also you find our articles that address school safety in light of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy to be helpful. 10TV anchor Tracy Townsend's column touched me deeply, and I hope that Melissa's article about how to channel the anxieties and concerns that this event ignited for all us parents inspires you to get involved and make a positive difference in the lives and safety of our children.

Love those families of yours, Columbus parents!

Jane Hawes