Monday, February 25, 2013


Oh Valentine's day.... 

Depending on your stage or station of life you look forward to it with anticipation or dread.  Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is sure: it refuses to pass by unnoticed.  Everyone has an opinion of Valentine's day.       

For this never-been-accused-of-having-it-together mom of a kindergarten student the day was just another opportunity for me to blow it. 

How could I mess this one up?  I sat for a moment while my mind explored the possibilities.  Then I got up and said to myself: "Not today sir.  Not today."

I'm going to climb this Valentine's mountain, stake my banner in the ground and declare to the world that I came and I conquered.  I will not mess this one up.

Besides... it is one my last chances of the school year... we are running low on holidays.

No problem, I only need one --this one.

I've got this.

(you people are rolling your eyes. stop it. like i said. i've got this.)

Really, I do.

I've been on Pinterest and perusing the February edition of Family Fun magazine, I've got more ideas than a patent office.

I start a notebook titled: V Day.  The "V" stood for victory.

First thing:

Candy --a non-negotiable.  A card that contained candy was a guaranteed success.  And that's what we needed at this point.  I'm 0 for 3.  Team Ellis needed a win.  Candy was the play that was called.
I'm not saying you can't have an awesome valentine without candy, you can.  And I'm sure in a year or two  I will be an advocate for the group MACC --Moms Against Candy Cavities and I'll lobby the schools to send home handouts encouraging the parents to send valentine's with apples and carrot sticks attached.  ....that will be another day.

My favorite card idea was the one with a few gummy fish attached to a blue card that read:  "I'm glad you're in my school."  (Get it?  Fish... school?)

I know the five-year-olds wouldn't get the connection, but their mamas would and more importantly, the teacher would.  But.. it was featured in this month's Family Fun and what if someone else handed out the same card?

I had to change it up a bit. 

I found some Sour Patch Kids candy that looked like little gummy gingerbread men.  At least that's what the package advertised.  Perfect!  I can use those and say something like:  "You're a cool kid."  or "I'm glad we're friends." 

Upon opening the package I found they looked NOTHING like the photo on the package.  They looked more like a pinkie finger covered in sugar crystals.

Well... I guess the kids won't care.  They will eat them all the same.  The teacher and parents won't know how clever we are as they probably won't see what the gummy finger has to do with being a cool kid.  Oh well.  What really matters is that Jack doesn't feel like we failed.  If he arrives at school on Valentine's day with everything he needs, we will have achieved our goal. 

Several days before V Day (you read that right --several) I put the candy in cute little baby Ziplocs and gathered everything we would need for the project.  Then, on the eve Valentine's day we ate dinner, cleaned up and were ready to put the cards together.

It was about that time I realized we hadn't called Big Dad and today was his birthday.  Oh no!  We love him too much to not call him.  In fact, we love him to much to just call him.  We would skype.

And we did. 

Now skyping is easy if your are fresh out of college with a new laptop, a working knowledge of the computer and a room with no background noise.  At our house, if the internet is working and if I can remember out password and log in, the best we can hope for is a dull roar.  Imagine skyping while sitting on the side of an interstate or at the ocean or maybe at a nightclub or a runway.  That's what it sounds like when you skype with us.

One at a time I call the boys to the computer where they make faces at the camera while everyone else tries to make as much noise as possible.

Maybe next year we should love Big Dad enough to not skype with him on his birthday.  (Are you nodding Big Dad?)

Anyway, while we skype we draw birthday pictures.  We sing, we tell jokes then we say "Goodbye."

I put Brady to bed and we begin our Valentine cards.

Austin colored in a non-conventional way:

The plan was that I would write a clever little phrase on the note cards and Jack would sign his name.  But while I was getting Brady to bed Jack began his cards without me.  He found some white printer paper and some Crayons and begins to write a handwritten note. 

"That's sweet,"  I thought.  "He'll tire in a bit and I'll finish up for him."

But he didn't.  He wrote a short note to all 19 students!  I think each one said something different.  I asked him what he was writing on the cards and he told me:  "I'm writing something that will make them feel good."   He wrote things like:  "Awesome." and "You're the best kid." and "Be my Valentine." and "You are nice".


Yes, that last one does say "To: Johnny Cash"  Apparently that's what one of his classmates likes to be called.

We scrapped my thought-through idea and ended up stapling the candy pouches to Jack's notes.  Ty thought they needed to go in envelopes so he worked and worked to get those bulky letters in the small envelopes.  He folded them any way he could to get them to fit.

They looked a mess.

The whole thing would be a disgrace to Pinteret.

But how sweet it was.  Each note packed with love.  I was proud of my little boys and more than willing to throw out my plans for much cuter Valentines.  This holiday was going to be a success.  We didn't have to have an awesome valentine.  Jack had hand-written letters to each student.   I was pleased with him. I was pleased with the night.  We had skyped with Big Dad and the computer was still in one piece.  We had all but finished the Valentines before 7:00 and were ready for tomorrow.  I had a special breakfast planned and had even remembered to buy little boxes of chocolate to give the boys at breakfast --just like my dad always did for us. 

I'm leaning back in my chair basking in my success.  These moments aren't frequent.  I was eating it up.  As I was waiting for Jack to finish his last card he asked me a question:  "Mom, why don't I get a valentine's box like everyone else?"



Wh... wh... what do you mean?  I am now sitting straight up in my chair.

"Everyone else has a valentine box and why don't I have one?  You know, boxes shaped like a car, or a castle or a rocket ship."

Are you kidding me? 

Just when I think.... 

"Jack, are you sure you need one?"  I scramble to find the handouts I had gotten from school about the party. 

"Well, everyone else was bringing them."

I find the notes.  They say nothing about needing a box.  I question him further.  "Jack, is it your class that is bringing the boxes or is it other students.  Like older students?"

"Two days ago the first and second graders were bringing boxes, but today the Kindergartners brought some."

"Are they kindergartners in your class or other classes?"

"My class."

I call the room mom.

She doesn't answer.

I text another mom, she responds back saying she wasn't aware of the need either.  She emails the teacher.

Room mom texts me back saying basically you don't have to have one.  Some people do, some don't.  You just need something to put the valentines in, a bag works just fine.

What to do now?

There was really only one option in the midst of all this uncertainty and with this being one of my last chances to not mess up a holiday.... I had to make a box.

I sent Jack to bed as soon as we finished the last valentine.  Then I went to work.

What would be easy?  Different?  Fun?  Easy?

I had a unique opportunity here.  This would probably be the only year I am able to make a box without asking my children, "What kind of box do you want?"  This time I could do whatever I wanted...

So I did.

For those of you not familiar with the Natural State, this is a deer blind.  After I got done I decided this was probably not a very original idea.  These things are probably as common as cowboy boots in Texas.
While I worked on Jack's box Ty stayed up and wrote a valentine for Jack.  He didn't like the idea of there being a valentine for every student except Jack in our bag.  He wanted to make sure his brother got a valentine (and candy).  I suggested he make one for him.  He copied the words I wrote out.  It said:  "U R the best brother ever!"
Which is wrong.  Clearly this boy is the best brother ever.

And yes. 

Turns out:  I nailed it.

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