This week’s thought: I have scientifically determined what is NOT the most wonderful time of the year. That would be any Saturday in late February when you are moving your entire house to a tiny apartment during a winter storm that is dumping 5-8 inches of snow 24 hours after fighting a hideous case of the stomach flu. That is all.
While I mostly sing the praises of holiday and special traditions (after all, that’s the point of this whole blog!), there is a downside to having lots of special holiday traditions – it’s extra disappointing when you don’t get to celebrate them. Sometimes being forced to change plans and alter celebrations from the way they have always been done can be a good thing because that can be how fun new traditions are born. That wasn’t the case with Valentine’s Day 2015 though. The highlights of this Valentine’s Day (and the entire month of February leading up to it) in our family included 3 cases of the stomach flu, 1 very bad cold, saying farewell to my fabulous teaching partner as she moves to England with her family, and packing up our entire house in a whirlwind after our house sold much more quickly than we expected. None of these things are traditions I wish to repeat on Valentine’s Day 2016.
Usually, each year for Valentine’s Day I make and send cards, I make valentine treats for my friends, I do crafts with our daughter, I bake Linzer heart cookies, we have Valentine’s Day play dates with treats, I make a heart shaped pizza for dinner, I make some sort of heart shaped cake or cupcakes for dessert, and we go out somewhere for a fancy dinner in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Needless to say, not one of these things happened this year. Instead we went with store bought treats and a heart shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s that was less heart shaped than advertised and looked as though it had some sort of blockage in its aorta.
At least we got to be together. And even though having our special traditions in place made us miss them more this year, I’m very glad that we can start looking forward to doing them again for Valentine’s Day next year.
This week’s project is an oldie but a goodie for me (as you can tell by how well loved and worn it looks in the picture). This valentine train engine is from my very first year of teaching (a group of second graders who are now college graduates. Yikes!) and it is still my favorite container for collecting valentines in the classroom.
To make a valentine train, each child needs a shoebox. Have them bring their boxes in ahead of time so that you have plenty of time to cover them. I usually get some cheap rolls of pink, white, and red wrapping paper, although bulletin board paper works well too. Wrap the boxes without the lids. Poke through the tops of the boxes, cut the paper covering the tops, and tape the paper down on the insides of the boxes so that the boxes are open on the tops. Give kids poster board wheels to glue on the bottoms of the boxes. Then give them all kinds of Valentine’s Day supplies – doilies, stickers, hearts – to decorate their train car boxes however they wish. Write their names on the sides of the boxes. When it is time to deliver valentines, line the boxes up in the shape of a train. The teacher gets to be the engine of course! Then have kids put their valentines in their friends’ train car boxes. The will love their valentine train for sure!
The card of the month for February is, of course, a Valentine’s Day Card. When I think of making valentines, I think of mixing and matching all kinds of random supplies – doilies, stickers, ribbons, sparkles, etc. – in all shades of red, pink, and white. I especially like this valentine I made a couple of years ago because it reminds me of all the hodgepodge valentines I made when I was little.
I started with red card stock and folded it to make the cards. Then I chose some cute Valentine’s Day stamps from Stampin’ Up, stamped them, colored the pictures, and punched them out. I also punched some bows, hearts, and other shapes out of pink, red, and white papers. Finally I got some stick on jewels and pearls to add some sparkle. After I had all my supplies ready, it was fun to arrange them all on the cards. I enjoyed experimenting with various layouts, and each card turned out to be a little different and unique. I even added some decorations on the inside of the cards.
Making valentines is so much fun – especially when you don’t have a specific plan and you can mix, match, and be creative!