This year’s handmade valentines

I’m happy to report we finished Corban’s valentines a whole day early, and I didn’t have to go to the store to buy any supplies for them. Success!

(Tulips to brighten up a freezing rain kind of day and celebrate that our cats are locked in our bedroom for a few days working on some training issues…which I will have to share another time. Oh, and cats in bedroom = flowers are safe from getting eaten by them.)

Last year we were the lame ones who didn’t give out candy with our valentines (which, as a parent, I am great with, but I know the kids get excited about little treats). This year, Corban’s school doesn’t allow any food with valentines (score) but we had a bunch of glow sticks on hand, so there’s our treat. And since puns are not only encouraged but celebrated on Valentine’s Day, here’s what we ended up with:

I traced hearts onto card stock while Corban and Mara cut them out.

Haddon got to be in charge of handing out washi tape while the big kids carefully taped the glow sticks on.

I fixed about a third of the taped glow sticks so they were in the right spots and wrote out the pun while the kids played, and then Corban addressed each with his classmates’ names and signed his name. Oh, and decided which color glow stick each person would like—very important.

Now they are safely tucked in a box so the glow sticks don’t crack before they’re delivered.

Here’s another fun and easy valentine we made one year…

…and a less easy valentine (for that special someone, not your kid’s class).

We also just turned fruit snacks into butterflies with heart antennae one year.

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Handmade pop-up valentines

Handmade cards make me giddy, so when Corban had his first real school valentine exchange last year, we sat down together to make the cards ourselves. Corban requested pop-up cards. My goal was to just use what we had to make them. This was not a huge challenge, as I have a hoarder’s supply of paper and I’m a recovering clearance craft supply purchaser.

Here’s what we ended up with and how we did it.

First we cut the cards from cardstock and I had Corban cut two slits in the fold to make the pop up part.

Next I traced a bunch of hearts onto glitter paper and Corban cut them out and added smiley faces with permanent marker.

Corban wrote his classmates’ names on the front of the cards. We had just enough foam glitter sticker letters to use one for the first letter of every kid’s name.

He stamped a heart above the name.

Then he signed his name on the inside.

And finally we glued the hearts onto the pop-up tabs.

Sure, it’s more work than buying a pack of valentines and signing your name, but we had fun in the process and Corban was pretty excited about his cards.

This year Corban says he wants to make his cards again, so we’ll see what we come up with! And I do remember that choosing a box of valentines from the store was always super exciting as a kid, but I’ll save that joy for when I have multiple kids in school.

In other news…

I realize that it’s been a WHILE since I’ve written here, and I’m not sure what made me start typing up a post again last week. Maybe it’s that the only professional writing I’ve been doing for the past year plus has been medical/health related and I’m missing the more creative, fun topics I covered at the Journal Sentinel. If I can keep up posting here, I’ve got a lot to share. Much has happened in the past year!

In the garden

Last weekend we were at my parents’ after our niece’s birthday party, and Corban helped his Papa with a little gardening.

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I’m torn about how much gardening to do this year. It’s a lot of work, so I’m tempted to take a year off… but I know the kids would love to “help” and it’d provide some great teachable moments.

My dad is already a month in with spinach, lettuce, beans and all sorts of other seeds.

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Some new ornamentation was added to their backyard since our last visit. The concrete stepping stones we made for my grandparents in 1999 have found a new home now that their house is being cleaned out.

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Corban still has a little growing to do to catch up with my 13-year-old hand.

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And I found that apparently my hands have grown just a tiny bit since then.

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The afternoon felt like a taste of summer—warm air, lush grass and a long evening of grilling and relaxing.

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Plus some good old-fashioned ball-throwing.

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I’m finally starting to move my camera off automatic setting. With some shutter speed adjustment, I captured this little sequence:

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To bring this back to gardening, we did do a little planting adventure yesterday, using the planting kits in the goodie bags from Isla’s party. We dubbed it “Curious Corban Plants a Seed.”

Since we can’t grow plants inside due to mischievous kitties (see my solution for fresh flowers here) I have been wanting to make mini terrariums using some glass jars from our bathroom. These little pots were the perfect size for that.

It was pretty magical watching the freeze dried dirt pellets grow into a pile of soil.

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I potted the soil and little fingers were eager to push in the seeds.

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It’s a “shrinking plant” that reacts to your touch, so this could be fun once it grows.

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They will probably outgrow the jars quickly, but by then hopefully we can plant them outside.

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Even after all this fun and a good chunk of hours spent doing yardwork this weekend, I’m still torn on the to-garden-or-not issue. What would you do? Take a year off and focus on landscaping and a few potted herbs, plus trips to the farmers market? Or plant some tomatoes and zucchini and pray for regular rainfall (less manual watering = less work)?