Monday, February 8, 2010


I must say, I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day (could this sentiment date back to the angst-filled adolescent years spent without being on the receiving end of boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers? Perhaps.) Also the giant pain-in-the neckness of making Valentine's cards, and not knowing whether to use the apostrophe or not. Oh yeah, and the gross commercialism of it all (seriously, when did it suddenly become obligatory to buy everyone on one's Valentine's list a cheap, tacky piece of kitsch from the Hallmark store?

But I do try to overcome my natural Grinchiness (why isn't there a quintessential crank who steals, ruins, or otherwise doesn't understand the deeper meaning of Valentine's Day? Christmas has more than its share and should hand one over, don't you think? Then we could all sit around the family idiot box and watch the annual, heartwarming Valentine's special), as I was saying, I put up a good front and try to make things festive.

I got our nature table spruced up, with the garland I made last year, a heart-shaped rock, a heart melted in the snow picture I took a couple of years ago some wooden heart beads leftover from our Valentine card making and a few cones (pine, hemlock and alder) that I picked up on a walk down to the river (alone...the boys are very anti-hiking these days).

I made a new garland (I saw this idea on somebody's blog somewhere, but I can't just now remember where).

Wednesday night M had it in his head that he wanted to watch Robin Hood (they'd just started it at daycare when I picked him up). C was out of town and we were just heating up leftovers for dinner, so they agreed to get ready for bed lickety-split after dinner, had the movie on by 6:00, giving me time to unload the dishwasher and reload it with two days' worth of dishes, then sneak upstairs to start a little Valentine's project. I made each boy a little heart pillow out of a recycled sweater (it was not nearly as scary to cut into the sweater as I expected it to be, but maybe that was because it came pre-shrunk from a clothing swap I went to last year) and this adorable owl fabric that I just happened to have on hand and just happened to match exactly. I embroidered their names on the back (running out of room on both E and Z's names, so only the first few letters are there...kind of Valentine pet names, I suppose) and stuffed them with fabric scraps. The owl pocket is meant to hold a little love note, which I'll have to try and think up.

For C I'm working on a bit of knitting (in honor of the scarf I gave him on our first Valentine's together). These are my first cables and I'm very exciting...and most impressed with myself (note the heart-shaped stitch holders).

We always make our own Valentine's, because I refuse to participate in the gross commercialism (did I already say that?). And besides, what exactly do Transformers or Star Wars Clones have to do with the love and affection that the holiday purportedly promotes? And have you noticed? When our valentines used to be little pieces of paper in paper envelopes that came in a cardboard box, Valentine's these days are all plastic, hologram thingies that one can't even recycle when one has gotten sick of walking all over them every time one enters one's children's room. M has never once complained that we don't get store-bought Valentine cards, so it must not be too much of a torture (or he's just gotten used to me by now).

E and Z have 30 kids in their class, plus three teachers...that is a total of 64 cards (if they don't make one for themselves, although Z was pretty much interested only in making one for himself). I ask you, is that in any way reasonable. Seriously, one of the reasons I'm most looking forward to public school is a reduction by half of the number of Valentine cards we'll have to make.

For our cards this year, we cut up a big stack of abstract watercolors the boys have painted over the last year. I traced the hearts with a cookie cutter, and E doggedly cut out several pages of them (saying, "Is I a artist?" over and over), but Z cut out one, got bored and decided to draw. One of the most ingenious things I did this Christmas was get custom rubber stamps with each boy's name in his own handwriting. So instead of the chore of sitting and coaxing them to write their name 33 times, I just had to hold the cards still for E while he stamped, and stamped all of Z's for him, because he was still not into cards. For a finishing touch, we punched holes in the cards and tied on wooden heart beads.

Here's E's modest pile (looks like someone will be tying on a few dozen heart beads after getting home from knitting Thursday night).

M managed to make all of his on his own without question, or complaint, even finding his class list in his backpack and ticking off the names as he did them. So there is hope!

Updated: P.S. There's a wonderful Valentine's giveaway at Imagine Childhood today (and lots of cool gifts if you don't feel like cutting up sweaters too!)


  1. Wow - again, I say - wow.

    I can't handle hand-making them all. We buy them and hand-make only a special few for special folks.

    Are there really only 15 kids in your public school classes? That's amazing.

  2. The heart pillows are super cute. LOVE the idea of the customized stamps with the boys' names in their handwriting. Gotta hear about how you did it.

    And yes, I say this every year since we moved to New Haven--- SOOOOO love that neither of our boys' schools celebrate V'Day in the 'traditional' way of giving cards. But I DO love carrying on my dad's tradition where he gave each of us a red item of clothing. Currently stenciling t-shrits for all my guys.

  3. I ordered the stamps from
    Just scan in and upload your kids' signature (or anything else). It's super cheap and easy.


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