DIY · Kids · Valentine

Last Minute Valentine’s Cards for Kids – FREE PRINTABLES


I still remember Valentine’s Day as a kid. I sat at the dining room table for what felt like HOURS addressing and signing cards for every kid in my class. In third grade, we HAD to do them all in cursive, too, which at the time was excruciating. My hand cramped, my eyes blurred, I probably cried once or twice. And it took days. I hated it.

My kids have it so much better. They don’t have to address the cards individually – they only sign their names – and there are less kids in their classes as well. We often finish them in a single night.

I am a big fan of NOT giving candy with their Valentine’s cards. It seems that Valentine’s Day is the new Halloween – they come home with a huge bag of candy that they will never finish and that will linger on top of the refrigerator until it “disappears” one day in April.

Instead, I love giving little non-food items – and if it’s a consumable that can be used up (like bubbles or pencils), even better.

Every year, we roam the Target Dollar Bins or the party aisle for party favors, or we head to the dollar store to find packs of small items for super cheap. Then I come home and design a card around the trinket.

Now, I didn’t come up with this idea – there are hundreds of ideas online that you can easily download and print – just Google “printable dollar store valentines” – I got some of my ideas from there.

But I love designing the cards myself. I can spend hours picking just the right font, just the right clipart, just the right shade of pink. (In fact, I stayed up until midnight on Friday working on this year’s batch. I know. Wild and crazy Friday nights, y’all!)

I took them to FedEx on Saturday to print, and the woman behind counter said, “Oh no! Valentine’s Day is this week! I haven’t gotten the cards for my kids yet.” I told her she should just print mine out and use them. The amount of time I put into making sure the bouncy ball clipart bounced exactly where I want it, other people should get some use out of it, too!

So I’m passing them along to you in case you need a last minute idea. I took them to have them printed because my printer’s out of ink, but they are easy to print at home. (You can download them at the bottom of this post.)

Here’s what we’re doing this year:


Have a Ball Valentine. Just add bouncy balls (we got them in the party aisle at Target – order online here). I use cheap sandwich bags to make them easier to attach to the cards – I just cut the little fold over flap free to make a basic bag – way cheaper than cellophane bags for things like this. We poked a hole in the corner and then tied the ball and bag to the card with matching yarn (orange, so obviously BB’s cards).


You Make My Heart Bubble Valentine. These are BG’s cards this year. We attached bubble wands (packs of 8 from the dollar store) with washi tape .

And this is what we did last year:

DSC_0012Just Write Valentine. Just add a pencil. I used an Exacto knife to cut two little slits to hold it in place, but you could just attach with washi tape.

And use your imagination here:DSC_0020-001Magnifying Glass Valentine. Add a mini magnifying glass. I searched and searched my house for one of these magnifying glasses to show you what it looked like. We seem to always have a plethora of them floating around until I need one, and then there are NONE. So imagine those little magnifying glasses with red handles tied to the card with red and white baker’s twine so you could see the heart through the glass. It was adorable. (You’re just going to have to trust me.)


Download the FREE PRINTABLE Valentine’s Day cards here:

have a ball valentine

you make my heart bubble valentine

just write valentine

magnifying glass valentine







Christmas · Kids

Stories of Yuletide Cheer: The Trampoline

I’m taking a departure from (ir)regular project posts to share a heartwarming story from our family’s Christmas season of Yuletide Cheer! (sarcasm, friends, lots of sarcasm)

backyard trampoline

Husband and I decided to get the kids a trampoline for Christmas. Two of The Boy’s friends have trampolines, and it’s his most favorite thing to do when he’s at their houses. And The Girl has always loved going to the trampoline park. Husband and I were pretty proud of ourselves for thinking of this – it would be a HUGE hit, and Santa wouldn’t even be getting the credit – WE would!

Without even thinking of measuring, we ordered it from Amazon late one night and were thrilled that it would be delivered in just a few days! (Fast forward to Christmas Eve, when Husband and I are bundled up, assembling this 15 ft diameter behemoth and trimming our landscaping IN THE DARK because the trampoline doesn’t fit anywhere in our backyard. But now we’ve got 176.71 square feet of jumping pleasure, so it’s totally fine.)

(See kids? You will totally use those geometric formulas in the future. Area of circle = pi r squared. BOOM.)

I started making plans about how to hide the boxes in the garage, and the day it was due to arrive, I wouldn’t let the kids go outside or walk up to the door without me checking first.

Sidebar: For the past few years, Husband and I have followed the Want, Need, Wear, Read idea for gifts for the kids – they get 4 gifts from us that fall into these categories. They know what to expect, they get the same number of presents, and they even help brainstorm ideas for these categories. BB had already started giving us suggestions for things. Like a lightweight raincoat.

Well, the night of the trampoline delivery, it still hadn’t arrived, and I had book club. I told Husband to listen for the delivery, and we discussed where we could hide the boxes.

When I pulled into the garage that night, the headlight beams hit the enormous boxes, which said “TRAMPOLINE BOX 1 OF 2” and “TRAMPOLINE BOX 2 OF 2” in huge letters on the side, right out in the middle of the garage.

Me (coming into the house): So, we need to go move the trampoline boxes.

Husband (reading a book): The kids have already seen them.

Me: WHAT?! Why did you let them see them??

Husband: Well, when I saw the delivery guy walking up the path, I opened the door, and he said, “HEY! I’ve got a TRAMPOLINE here for ya!”

Me: (speechless)

Me: (still no words)

Me: Are you freaking kidding me?? It’s December 11th!! What on earth does he think the trampoline is for? A purchase for ourselves? Just for FUN??

Husband: Well, he did say, “Uh, I mean, maybe this is for neighbors….?”

Me: (expletive)

Me: So, where were the kids when he was saying all of this?

Husband: They were in The Boy’s room, but they heard it all pretty clearly.

Me: And? What did they say??

Husband: Actually, they seemed a little confused. They DID hear him say “neighbor”, and I told them I didn’t really know anything about it.

Me: Crap. So, what are we going to do?

Husband (going back to his book): We don’t have to do anything right now.

Me (pacing and pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth): What? Yes we do! We need a plan! We need to have this figured out before they wake up in the morning. They will ask about it immediately.

Husband: Nah, I think it’s fine. They probably won’t even remember it in the morning.


I immediately text-vent to two friends about the situation and about the INCOMPETENCY of the delivery man. I also text our neighbor that has kids to see if maybe we can come up with a “story” (read: bald-faced lie) to tell our kids. We are in luck! The neighbors do not have a trampoline, so we are going to tell our kids that we are storing it for the neighbors for Christmas and that the kids CANNOT tell their kids about it because it’s a surprise.

I’m still feeling shaky and grumpy about the whole thing, but I am finally able to go to sleep.

In the morning, as soon as The Boy walks out of his room:

The Boy: MOM! Did you know there’s a trampoline in our garage?

Me: Yeah, I saw that.

B: Do you know whose it is?

Me: Yes, it’s The Bartlett’s trampoline. Daddy said Mr. Bartlett got it for their kids, and we are storing it for them until Christmas.

B: Oh, phew! Thank goodness! I didn’t want a trampoline!

Me: What? You don’t want a trampoline?

B: Yeah, because, if I got a trampoline, I would only maybe have one present under the tree. And I REALLY want that raincoat.

Me: (speechless)


Editor’s Note: The children LOVE the trampoline. Both of them. They’ve spent hours and hours on it already, making up funny moves and tricks and inventing games with stress balls and duct tape and having Nacho Libre wrestling matches – I don’t even know. Anyway, it was a huge hit, and Husband and I are the BEST PARENTS EVER.

At least for this month.

Editor’s Note #2: What is happening in the world that delivery truck drivers announce their packages when they arrive? I mean, it’s less than two weeks before Christmas. You haven’t been trained to deliver packages as covertly as possible?! And is it only during the holidays, or will all packages start being announced? “HEY! I’ve got that PLUNGER you ordered right here!” or “ALRIGHT! Looks like you’re getting some LICE TREATMENT today! Lucky you!”


Editor’s Note #3: Before you think The Boy was the only one acting a little bit ungrateful (unknowingly, of course), another story:

This year, we also decided to let the kids spend their own money on gifts for each other. I thought this might be met with some resistance, but they LOVED the idea. I told them they could spend a max of $5 of their allowance money, and I took each kid shopping individually. It was actually really sweet – The Girl picked out a small pack of Pokemon cards for The Boy, and The Boy picked out a little Hatchimal for The Girl – very thoughtful gifts that showed they really know each other. But then, the very next day, The Girl and I are at Target, and she happens to see the display of little Hatchimals that The Boy shopped from, and she says, “You know, I’d never really want one of those little ones. They are just too small.”


Editor’s Note #4: She LOVES the little Hatchimal. She was so touched that he picked it out for her, and it didn’t leave her side, day or night, for a week.

Editor’s Note #5: My lesson in all this? Don’t ever believe anything your children say.


Being Mama · Kids

On Forgiving Your People


When this sweet little apology note arrived in my mailbox, I was very confused.

At first, I could just decipher the first line – “I am sorry” – and I could not for the life of me figure out why this sweet little boy – the son of a dear friend of mine – was sending me an apology note.


When I read closer, I realized the words following said, “I am sorry (Nicole) for scraping your car.” (Love that giant circle for the period at the end!)


Why is he apologizing for scraping my car?

What is this about?

It took a minute, but I finally remembered being at their house a few weeks prior, standing in the driveway chatting. This sweet little guy was running around with a stick because, what else do boys do, really, but run around with sticks? His mama told him to be careful with the stick and not put it near my car. And then he did exactly that – put the stick very close to my car.

Now, I don’t remember if the stick actually touched the car or not. What I DO remember is his mama having a heart-to-heart with him about listening and following directions and being careful with other people’s cars, the same as I would. Actually, probably not the same as I would because, truth be told, if it had been my child who had the stick, I would have been MAD. I can be stern with my kids, and I can make small things feel like a VERY BIG DEAL. But my friend remained calm and her words remained kind in a way that I’m not sure mine would have.

When I got the card in the mail and realized I had forgotten this completely, I also realized that if it had been my child, I would NOT have forgotten it completely. I would have stewed about it for days, thinking about WHAT KIND OF CHILD POKES A STICK AT A CAR, FOR GOODNESS SAKES?! IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF MY CHILD’S PATH TO DELINQUENCY AND A LIFE OF CRIME?!

But for me, with it being her child, it was just a moment. A tiny little thing that left almost no impression on my memory whatsoever. Forgiven and forgotten instantly. Because I know this boy – a sweet, funny, inquisitive, curious boy who would never actually scrape a car just because. He was just a kid, being a kid.

And guess what?

So are my children.

What a lesson this was for me, a change in perspective. To take a step back when my kids do something that I don’t approve of, even when they break a rule. Instead of feeling like it’s the end of the world and being unable to let it go, I can ask myself what I would think if it were another child, not one of my own.

Would I think less of that child? No way.

And – maybe more to the point of how I truly feel when my kids misbehave – would I think less of their parents?

Of course not.

We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents to raise these perfect children who navigate every situation in the correct way. We think we must react to every infraction in order to teach “valuable lessons” so these kids do exactly the right thing and turn out okay.

But we are imperfect people, too. I know I DEFINITELY don’t navigate every situation in my life in the most correct way. (And news flash: most of the time, there isn’t ONE correct way.)

I mess up all the time! I need to say sorry freely and often. And I want to teach my children to do the same. I want them to know that when they do mess up, I am a safe place to come, to tell the truth and to receive grace and, yes, sometimes instruction, but always forgiveness.

gingham watercolor-001

Our children are precious little people who are learning to walk in this world and figure things out for themselves. They have been entrusted to us to guide, yes, but also to enjoy, to delight, and to have relationship. They are OUR PEOPLE.


This came back to me a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner.

The adults were on the back porch while the kids were running around – girls inside playing dress up and reading, boys up in the treehouse. At one point, I look up because I see a solid stream of liquid coming down out of the treehouse and into the yard and over the fence into our neighbor’s backyard.

Of course, if you have boys, you know exactly what is happening. I assume it’s my child and feel myself start to get upset – what will the neighbors think when they see that my kid is PEEING INTO THEIR BACKYARD??? Then I realize that it is just as likely the other child taking aim (both of their backs are to us), and just the thought of him deciding that this is a good idea CRACKS ME UP. The dads, of course, laugh immediately, saying that this is so normal, it’s just a thing boys do, we knew kids growing up who did this all the time. (“I have this ‘friend’….” Ha!) The guys then talk to the boys, telling them, of course, that they shouldn’t pee from the treehouse, especially into the neighbors yard. And all the while, I have to cover my face to hide my chuckles and laughing tears. And this was just seconds after I almost made this into a VERY BIG DEAL.

(Come on, it IS pretty funny!)

Now, obviously I’m not suggesting we let everything go because “kids will be kids”, but I am suggesting that we – that I – take a step back and take in the bigger perspective. I have to guide and teach my kids. But I also have to show them the beauty of grace and of forgiveness and of the freedom that comes with knowing that their parents love them unconditionally and can handle whatever comes their way.

Because not everything is a VERY BIG DEAL. Sometimes it’s just boys peeing from a treehouse.