Cards and Hearts

It’s February, and as Michael’s, the grocery stores, and magazines have been reminding us since justafterChristmas, that means Valentine’s Day. Even though I’ve had the better part of six weeks to get my act together, to prepare myself for all things hearts and chocolate, still this annual event caught me by surprise.

As in: this Monday, I realized it was ‘the week of Valentine’s Day’. [I seriously need to return to the working world if only to have a more reliable sense of what day it actually is. Last Thursday, I was so clueless about the date that I had to ask the 8 year old. ‘It’s the 7th,’ he clued me in. And I was beyond grateful that at least one of us knew what was going on. And then I felt very foolish that the person who knows what’s going on……is 8.]

On Tuesday I realized the boys would not have school on Thursday, Friday or the following Monday. Which meant they’d have to take their cards to school on February 13. Which meant they needed to have cards by February 13.

Since I, for reasons that aren’t clear to me, have not yet hopped on the store-bought Valentine train, this meant making cards by February 13. So after the Hen returned from Kindergarten, I hauled out my meager paper supplies and waited for inspiration to strike.

It did not.

My heart punch broke last Valentine’s Day when the professor glued 30 strips of cardstock together and forced the punch through said strips of cardstock.The good news is I got a gorgeous heart-shaped card. The bad news is it broke the punch.

I surveyed the remaining supplies I’d dumped out on the table: dark blue construction paper, smiley face stickers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Tattoos. Not good, not unless I wanted to make goth-inspired cartoon Valentines. Pressed for time, I nearly waved the proverbial white flag and loaded the boys in the teal Volvo for a last-minute trip to Michael’s. Where I would undoubtedly have to stand in a very long line and possibly wrestle another mother for the last pack of Scooby Doo Valentines. Or, quelle horreur, be forced to buy a pack of Barbie Valentines.

But I’m stubborn. And I hate going to Michael’s.

As luck would have it my mom had sent the boys a pack of Hershey’s Valentine chocolates. I counted them out and, as long as I didn’t ingest any [more], I would have enough for both boys’ classes. I pulled out my circle punch and confirmed it still worked. And I found two pieces of relatively sturdy white paper amidst the brown, black and blue. And I dug out some less-than-fresh beets from my refrigerator drawer.

Thankfully the Hen is not yet opinionated about things like cards, so I punched some white circles, carved a heart-shaped stamp out of a beet, found some red and white washi tape and ta-da: fifteen Valentines for the Hen’s classmates and teacher.


There was, of course, the matter of writing on the cards. Yes, they were the Hen’s and yes, he is capable of writing, but he is 5 and his penmanship reflects that. Not only would it have been impossible for him to write a name like ‘Cassandra’ or ‘Arianna’ on anything but a 12-inch wide card, it would not have looked……pretty. For lack of a better word.

So we ‘compromised’ and I let him write his name on the back of each card. Even though his name has only 5 letters, it was quite an ordeal to try and fit those 5 letters on a 2-inch canvas. But I did my best to abandon notions of neatness and attractiveness and….eventually…we had fifteen cards.

One down, one to go.

It was close to 9pm by the time I finally had a chance to sit down with the Gort to make 24 cards for his classmates and teacher. In my mind I’d assumed ‘we’ would simply replicate the cards I’d made for the Hen. But, as the Gort has opinions about everything including things like Valentines, this was not to be. He found some polka-dotted paper, started cutting it – willy-nilly – into rectangular shapes and folded them lengthwise. ‘Do you want to at least put a heart on it?’ I asked. Because the paper did not exactly evoke thoughts of cupids and hearts with its green and brown and orange color schemes. So I made hearts and he cut paper and it was close to 10 by the time we finished; both of us irritated and exhausted by me trying to explain that you can’t scratch out Mitchell and write Vincent underneath it just because you accidentally wrote the wrong name.

I’d just collapsed on my bed when the professor walked in. ‘So, did you see the email from the Hen’s teacher?’ ‘No, what email.’ ‘Apparently she’d forgotten to put Matteo’s name on the class list for Valentines…..’

7 thoughts on “Cards and Hearts

  1. This post just about sums Nicola up. Relentlessly creative, patient (as much as one can be through grinding teeth), committed and lastly (and my favorite) funny. I love this woman.

  2. You should go out tomorrow and scoop up some discounted valentine cards. Then when it comes time to craft 2014s you can either send them out OR use them to create a last minute Nicola classic.

  3. About halfway (8 mins) through this TED video the artist shares the Valentines that she’s made in recent years.

  4. I designed a card on the computer using some of my son’s favorite licensed characters and an image editing program. It is some kind of illness not to simply purchase store bought cards, but I have it too.

    When my son pawed through his ample goodies today, he was EXCITED about the Nijago cards and toys, but didn’t tend to notice the giver nor the presentation. Next year, I’m just letting him write everyone’s name on masking tape and sticking it to a toy or individual serving food pack.

    I don’t know why we do this to ourselves.

  5. Adrienne, when you figure out the answer of ‘why we do this to ourselves’ let me know. (Maybe some small portion of our remaining brain believes it matters?) Korien, I love that TED talk – she has done some incredible work. Kim, I thought of you at the Superstore the other day when I walked past the 98 cents discounted Valentines. I tried to tell myself to buy some, but my self did not listen. Scott, yes, you mean ‘think of all the awesome, really intricate Valentines you could make if you homeschooled and only had to make 3 of them.’ Oh, wait, that’s probably not what you meant. Kristen, yes I am the only member of the household who enjoys roasted beets. JSJ, master of the elaborate hand-made Valentine, ‘I learned it by watching you!’


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