The Best Classroom Valentines


(Some affiliate links in this post.)

Last week I shared our crayon-melt valentine gifts, and some Minted Valentine's cards to go with them.  Well, after much deliberation, I made up my mind and chose some cards for the kids to hand out to their friends! Minted had some great coloring/melted themed cards, but in the end, these are the designs that were calling my name for the kids, and I just decided to go with it.  

I was not disappointed!  The cards came and they are so cute! The quality is also excellent, and I'm almost sorry to waste them on preschoolers (but their moms will appreciate them).





Clyde is so into anything transportation-related, and I thought this message was adorable for all his little two-year-old classmates! 




I did let Wyatt have a choice between a couple different invitations, and this is the one he picked!  He liked the airplane on it, and I thought this was the perfect card for a six-year-old boy to hand out to his friends!






And then Gwen's.  I just knew it had to be pink!  My favorite part of this card is the gold pressed foil lettering on the front.  It's so fancy! For Gwen's card I also decided to try out the tic-tac-toe backer, and now I'm kind of regretting that I didn't choose it for the boys too - it's so fun!




So there you go, those are the cards my kids will be handing out to their friends! If you are ever in the market for classroom valentine cards, keep Minted in mind!  Their quality can't be beat, and these designs were just a few of the dozens of adorable options!

Where do you buy valentines for your kids? Are you going with a theme, or just whatever strikes your fancy (like me)?



Note: I received the above valentines for free from Minted in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

Remember How I Started A Literary Society?



(Those specks in the picture are crumbs on the table.  I didn't clean it before I staged this pic, and it's too late now. It's been that kind of morning.)


I have no idea where the phrase originated, but I'll go ahead and say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  I opened my eyes with a scowl on my face, shuffled into the bathroom to fix my makeup, and shuffled upstairs for some coffee.  I would like to say that I am feeling slightly better now, but as I sit here assessing, I'm not sure if that's accurate.  On a day like this, you break out every item that normally makes you smile (light the candles - check), snuggle a couple children, and just make it through.

3rd Literary Society Meeting

You also go the path of least resistance when writing an old-fashioned blog post, and share what you did yesterday - which for me, was our third literary society meeting! In case you missed it, last fall I started a literary society, not to be confused with a book club.  Book clubs have everyone reading the same book - literary societies get together and talk about books in general.  Books that are our favorites, books we are reading lately, recommendations - anything goes.

Our society meets every other month, and last night was our largest meeting with eleven people!  I was hoping we could get a circular table, but instead we were seated at a long table, so I floated between sides to make sure to talk with everyone.  As usual, it was so fun!  We talk about a myriad of books, but these are the ones that made it onto my to-read shelf on Goodreads.

Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
The Power Of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Story Of The World - Vol. One

Have you read any of these?

My Non-Goalish Reading Goal

Now I'll go ahead and just tell you what I am currently reading, though I first want to step back and remind you how last year I set goals to be more purposeful about what I was reading.  

Yeah, that didn't go so well.  

I didn't stick to my categories at all through the year, and I swiftly decided that no such goals would be made for 2017.  Along with my growing annoyance with words like "purposeful" and "intentional" (because they are so overused these days), 2016 led me to a conclusion - not everything has to be intentional.  Why are we wearing ourselves out by having a plan for every little area of our lives?  Doesn't that suck some of the fun out of it?  For me, it does.  I am perfectly fine not being intentional with certain areas of my life and just going with the flow.  I'll save my intentionality stress for things that matter more than what books I read.

This year I've decided to read things that are currently interesting to me, and forget about categories.  I think I will get more out of my reading if it's something that's currently relevant in my life, and I'll probably read more books this way as well because I won't be forcing myself through something I'm not enjoying.  No intentional reading here this year.

However, all that is not to say that I won't still have some sort of theme to my reading, based on my interests, and one of my unofficial, interest-based goals is to read more about the Cold War.  I've always found the idea of the Cold War fascinating, and last year when we saw Bridge of Spies, it sparked my interest to learn more.  I know the basics of what the tension was about, but I don't know many specifics.  How did it start?  How and when did we realize that we were in a Cold War with Russia? What did people think about it?  What was it like living during the Cold War?

So what I'm currently reading: A Brief History Of The Cold War by Lee Edwards.  The title makes it sound terribly dry, but it's well done in my opinion.  It's a straight-up history, but written in an engaging way, and I'm learning a lot.

Next up in the Cold War queue:

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy 
The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell
Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky
Killing Reagan by Bill O'Reilly

I've asked around, and most people have no suggestion for me - but hey, there is no harm in trying again!  Do you have any recommendations for books that have to do with the Cold War?  I'd love to add more fiction to the list.

So what are you all reading lately?  

On the queue for the rest of my day?  I'm off to finish my coffee, read between taking care of children, eat my chocolate croissant (are you aware that yesterday was croissant day?), and fold a ton of laundry for the pregnancy resource center.  Oh yes, and Derek and I have a long overdue date tonight (I think I'm going to try to talk him into bowling)!

Old School Blogger Shoutout

I'm not sure if these bloggers would technically describe themselves as "old school" - but I am, because I feel like they have a spirit of the old school about them.  Their posts, though sometimes more on the professional side of blogging, are not cold and impersonal, and through reading their blogs I feel like I have gotten to know them!  They are two of my favorites to read, and these ladies are so sweet and always respond to comments via email, if not by reciprocating the commenting on my blog.

Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet - Rebecca is just a sweetheart, and has so many insights into walking with the Lord through the trials of life.  She is also having an anniversary giveaway that ends TODAY, so get yourself over there and scroll down to find that post!

Elizabeth from Teaching Sam And Scout - Elizabeth used to blog at E, Myself, And I, but switched to Teaching Sam And Scout a couple years ago...her blog is focused on her job as a teacher, but I feel that she has done a good job of keeping the personal touch too.  Her links and likes posts are my go-to for keeping up on whatever is popular in blogland.  She does the leg work so I don't have to.

What I'm Drinking: Coffee.  Just coffee.  With whipped cream.  I'm hoping it's enough to break me out of my funk.


Our Valentine Gifts For 2017 (And 10 More Card/Gift Pairings)



I never really considered myself a "people pleaser".  I fancy myself one of those people who wouldn't change my own opinions or convictions just to please someone else, and I always thought I had pretty good boundaries.

But I realized last year that no, I am kind of a people pleaser.  The way it manifests itself for me is a difficulty in saying "no".  This really became a problem this last fall.  All of a sudden I had several writing commitments and other commitments at church, and barely time to breathe!  

Unfortunately because of this busyness, I decided I needed to let some things go, and one of those things was co-hosting the With Grit & Grace Linkup.  However, I don't see any reason why I can't still share what I want to work on each month!  As far as goal-setting goes, you all already know that I'm not a resolution-making, goal-setting kind of girl.  When I pick a goal for the month, it's one thing, and usually a bit vague at that.  Another blogger wrote recently about how she accomplishes more when her goals are vague - and even though all goal-setting experts say that vagueness is a no-no, I find the same thing is true of me. 

So here is my one, not-super-specific goal for February.

I want to give Valentines!  

To whom?  I don't fully know yet.  However, this goal fits in with my larger focus for the year, and it's also something I just want to do.  I have a hard time with the love languages concept, because I feel like I could claim all of them as a personal love language, but I do enjoy giving gifts, even small gifts.  I like to make my own gifts occasionally too, especially when they are simple.  It makes my non-crafty self feel like I'm not a complete failure in the DIY area!







(Affiliate links below.)



Especially every year around Valentine's Day, I get the urge to make something, which is convenient because Valentine's Day is a great creative outlet! This is one of the things I came up with for the kids to give their friends this year.  Did anyone have some of these crayon melts growing up?  I wrote a whole post once about my first-grade crayon melt wishes.  We have a bunch of broken crayons around, so I bought a heart mold, melted the crayons in the oven, and let them cool completely before I removed them!  

They turned out pretty well, and I am planning on making enough for all the kids' little friends.  I'm still looking for the perfect valentines to include with the crayon melts though!  I've had the opportunity to work with Minted in the past, and this year they gave me a chance to pick out some classroom valentines.  Oh my goodness.  The choices are endless because every single one is so cute!

To help you out in your valentine-giving efforts, I put together a few ideas for little gifts to include with some of Minted's classroom valentines.  But do yourself a favor and check out the entire collection, because there were so many cute ones I didn't have room to share here!  (Also, I'll take feedback on which one you think goes best with the crayon melts.  As I type this, I'm still not sure which ones to pick.)




Firefly Love Valentine - This is a great Valentine for glow sticks, or glow-in-the-dark anything, really.


Banner Takeoff Valentine - I have given airplane gliders as valentine gifts in the past, and this one is the perfect valentine for that!


Sharp Student Valentine - Cool pencils would go with this one.  You could even include a sharpener if you wanted to add something extra.



Bee My Valentine - Minted has a few adorable bee-themed valentines, and if it were me, I'd include a honey stick!


Precious Gems Valentine - So many possibilities with this one.  Ring pops, gem-shaped erasers, plastic jewelry.


Sweet Bubbly Valentine - A bubble gum valentine! Tuck a stick of gum in with it, and there you go!


You Rule Valentine - Colorful plastic rulers, obviously.


School Of Fish Valentine - You could go with gold fish (the crackers), or any sort of fish toy with this one.


Color In My World Valentine - Crayons, and the valentine recipient can finish coloring this one themselves!  Minted has a few valentines that are also activities, like this one.  This one might be a contender for our crayon melts.



Bugs And Kisses Valentine - I would go with inexpensive plastic bug toys or magnifying glasses with this one.  This is also a great example of one of the activity valentines!



Smart Cookie Valentine - Bake some cookies!



The bottom line is that you could choose almost any valentine treat or theme, and Minted probably has a classroom valentine choice that will go with it!  I seriously had a horrible time narrowing down which valentines to show you in this post - it's going to be even harder to pick the ones I want for my kids to hand out.  I'm still debating on whether I'll stick with the "melted" theme, or not!

Do you hand out Valentine's (for your child's class maybe?).  
Am I having a little too much fun with this?  I have this sneaky feeling that putting together Valentine's gifts for other people's kids is supposed to be burdensome, but I think it's so fun!

(And just as a little bonus - check out these Valentine-inspired prints!  Perfect for a gallery wall or as a Valentine's gift for a grown up.)

(I love a beautiful vow print - I have one on our wall!)

(You can customize this print with your own photo.)



Stay tuned and I'll update in a week or two on which valentines I picked to go along with the crayon melts!








Note: I will be receiving Valentine classroom cards to review in exchange for this post.  This is my honest opinion.





The Secret To The Perfect Chalky Heart (And Other Musings)



I started typing this post during nap time yesterday.  Nap time is a fight these days.  Wyatt and Gwen are old enough that it is really "quiet time", and I think Clyde is on the verge of giving up naps too.

Nevertheless, I typed a couple paragraphs and then set my laptop aside so I could go wash my hair before all the kids got up.  I barely made it out of the bathtub before they were all downstairs playing "shots" with Gwen's new doctor toys. I watched them for a while (apparently "bees in the ears" is a serious ailment), and then finally headed upstairs to make some real macaroni and cheese for dinner.

I got the cheese sauce started and then thought I'd edit a couple pictures
while it simmered, but I found my laptop in Gwen's room.  They named this post "bv6766t@TFAQEQAS1QW2wiIop".  I was tempted to leave that as the title to the post, but I thought it might discourage any of you from actually reading it.  We will be having a talk about playing with mommy's laptop.


My Haircut

As mentioned last week, I got a haircut and color this weekend.  A friend of mine from church is a hairstylist, but I've never made an appointment with her before - that is changing now!  I love the way it turned out!  This is the first time in a long time that I have not come home from a haircut and felt the need to pull out the scissors and fix something myself.  I am told my hair is very thick and very heavy, so choppy ends is frequently a problem - but the way she did my cut this time, the ends are not too thick at all and give me some oomph on top.




For the color, I went with blonde and red highlights again, but the red is a little lighter than the red I've done in the past.  I think I'm subconsciously wishing for summer.  I really like the way it turned out.  It took me a day to get used to the lighter red, but I think it's better for spring.  In the fall I'll probably go with a darker red again (or try something wild and crazy, like the colored hair I pinned).

A Non-Political Discussion Of Inaugural Ball Dresses

The other day I was walking through the mall, looking for gifts for my MOPS group for the Spring and picking up a birthday present...but I found myself eyeing the formal gowns in one of the stores' windows.  

You know how you sometimes read about community dances in historical novels?  I always have two questions: 1) Did they really have frequent dances like that back in the day, or is it just convenient for whatever fictional romance is playing out?  And 2) why are there no community dances or balls anymore?  If they exist, where are they?  I want to go; I want to dress up and go somewhere where waltzing occurs and inappropriate dancing is lacking.

All that to say, between the formal dresses in the window and the inaugural balls that I stayed up late to watch last Friday, I feel that an inaugural ball fashion review is in order.  

The First Lady and Vice President's Wife made great dress choices in my book.  There is something about a white dress on a First Lady that I always love.  And I think I even liked Mrs. Pence's pick just as much, if not an eency bit more, than Melania Trump's.  It just twirled so nicely!  

If I had to pick though, I think I would have gone with Ivanka Trump's dress for myself.  I love the glitz.

Have any of you been to a formal event since you graduated high school?  What did you wear?  It's a pity all the formal occasions have to be wasted on the questionable fashion choices of many high school students.

On Candy Hearts

Let's just talk ever so briefly about candy hearts, shall we?  Candy hearts get a bad rap.  They are accused of being "gross" and "chalky" and "hard as a rock".  Okay, maybe they are chalky.  But if you get the right bag of candy hearts they can actually be pretty good, especially with a cup of tea as you look ahead to the day of love.  So let me tell you the secret to not-gross candy hearts.

1) Don't get the mini candy hearts.  Those really are as hard as a rock, and you probably will break a tooth.  Especially if you already have some fillings.  Just don't do it.

2) What you are looking for is the Brach's Large Conversation Hearts.  Note I said "large".  Bigger hearts mean less of a chance you will break a tooth.  Which brings me to my third point.

3) The secret to a good bag of large conversation hearts is to find one that doesn't appear to have a lot of air in it.  Pick up the bag and shake it around a little.  If you can find one that looks vacuum sealed or where the candy hearts don't change position too much when you shake the bag...it's gold.  Buy that bag!  It will be full of nice, soft candy hearts.

4) Where do you find these good bags of conversation hearts you may ask?  I had to do an internet search because my regular grocery store doesn't appear to carry them anymore, and I found out that Target has them this year!  As if you needed another reason to shop at Target.  There you go.

(After you eat those hearts, you should check out my "worth the time" post last week for a great sale on Sonicare toothbrushes.  That's the dental hygienist in me coming out.)

Old School Blogger Shoutout

Today, I give you two old-school bloggers who are about to have a baby any minute...

Alexandria from Life Of Scooter - Scooter is Alex's cute little dachshund, but she writes about all kinds of things...including expecting baby #3!  Go look at her cute bump!

Ashley Robyn from With Grace - This is a relatively new blog to me, but Ashley is expecting her first baby, and I've been enjoying her reflections.  She hasn't posted in a couple weeks, but I'm thinking that might mean baby is here?  Go stalk her blog for a couple weeks and we'll probably have a baby announcement soon!

What I'm Drinking: Almond Sunset tea from Celestial Seasonings.  It's the right kind of tea to drink while eating candy hearts, in case you were wondering.






Worth The Time (Vol. 1)



I thought I'd try something a little new here and do a once-a-month post about different things that I think are "worth the time".  It could be books, movies, audiobooks, podcasts, articles, blogs, board games...it might be anything.  I'm just going to keep you all on your toes!

The Selection 

I've been really into watching the History Channel lately, and they've had some great new programming over the last couple years.  My latest favorite is The Selection.

This show takes a group of civilians and puts them through something that is like the training for the special forces - Seals, Rangers, Green Berets.  They seemed pretty "easy" on everyone in the first episode and Derek was ready to write the show off as not being realistic (my grandpa was in the army, and we've heard his basic training stories, which were worse than what they did on the first episode).  But I was still interested, so we watched, and it definitely got more intense!  Those instructors are tough! I'm still not convinced that it is exactly like special forces training, because I imagine that would be even more demanding, but it's so interesting to watch and get a taste of what those people in our military overcome in order to be prepared to protect us.  It's fascinating, and it makes me respect our armed forces even more.

It's just starting to get good now - if you get the History Channel, you can catch up on all the episodes here or on the app!

This Recipe

I made this pumpkin streusel coffee cake for our MOPS meeting the other day.  I recently read on Gina's blog that you shouldn't make something for the first time when it's for someone else, guests, etc.  That makes a lot of sense to me, so I made it and decided I would scratch it and make something else if it was no good.  But it was good.  The perfect amount of moistness, and the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor without being too overwhelming.  I used caramel flavoring instead of vanilla extract.  It was a winner!


The Sonicare Section On Amazon 

(Affiliate link below, but only because I really love Sonicare toothbrushes.)


This one is more a "worth the money" than a "worth the time" pick - but hey, time is money, huh?  And your teeth are worth something.  I stumbled across this AMAZING sale on Amazon of Sonicare toothbrushes, and as a dental hygienist, I feel compelled to share it.  You can take the girl out of the dental hygiene world, but you can't take the dental hygienist out of the girl.

Seriously though, these are my personal favorite toothbrushes.  When I brush with my Sonicare, I can feel the difference in my gums.  And I'm not just saying that as some hygienist ploy to get you to buy the good toothbrush!  I can really feel it, personally.

I bought Derek and myself new Sonicare toothbrushes, because the basic model is only $20! That is a great deal!  I've been really missing my old Sonicare since it broke, and I'm sharing the good toothbrush love.

(Check out these coupons though if you want a fancier model, because you can get an even better discount until 1/28.)

Alright, I'll be back again next month with more worth-the-time favorites!  I'm off to watch the inauguration!




Hikes, Hurts, And Haircuts



Does anyone else have a hard time getting back to the rhythm of life after New Year's?  This week feels like the first "normal" week since before Christmas - and it's not even actually normal since we had a long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  I'm declaring today an honorary Tuesday, so this old-fashioned post is a day late (but not really, because it's an honorary Tuesday).

A Winter Walk

I am happy to report that our sickness last week was fairly short-lived.  I had about a day and a half of feeling miserable, and then I felt almost totally better the next day.  A couple days after we had all seemed to recover from our cold I was definitely feeling the cabin fever though.  So I decided we'd take a winter walk!  I see no reason why we can't still enjoy the outdoors in the winter (we just have to bundle up first).  I drove us all to a stream, and the kids had a grand ole time poking through the ice with sticks.  It was a short walk, but it was lovely.  I think we might do it again this week.



























First Friendship Hurt

Today I sat down to type this with my bowl of mini wheats, Gwen sitting in the chair next to me.  Then I heard "Bobby* doesn't talk to me anymore."  I looked up, and she was looking at me with big, sad brown eyes.  She just looked at me, because I'm the mom and it's my job now to explain these things and make them better.  And my heart broke a little, and I didn't know what to say to my sweet little four-year-old with her first friendship hurt.

I remember the first time it occurred to me that my children were going to be hurt by their friends.  When Wyatt was about two years old, he made a little friend in his nursery class at church.  Every time I sent him in, his friend would grab his arm and include him in whatever the kids were playing.  I stood outside the nursery window and watched this once, and I just remember feeling that squeeze in my heart.  I was so happy he had a little friend, but I was also strangely scared.  What if his friend dumped him eventually?  What if the friend decided he liked playing with someone else more and Wyatt felt left out?

I've had my share of friendship hurts, but it's even harder for me to think about my kids being hurt.  I know it's the nature of the beast, so to speak.  You can't really venture out and make the good friends without also taking the potential for hurt that comes with it, but knowing that doesn't make it easier to watch your children as they take steps into the friendship minefield.  It's only a matter of time.  I just pray that they'll find friends who are good enough to make the risks worth it.

I looked at Gwen, grasping for words.  I mumbled something about little boys going through a stage where they only want to play with the other boys, and said "I'm sorry, honey."  It seemed to be good enough.  Now she's bouncing around Clarice's high chair and laughing, friendship woes forgotten.

I'm the one still sitting here thinking about it.

Hair Color and Cut

Moving on to something more superficial, this week is not only inauguration week (for which I've planned a whole little President unit study for our homeschool), but it's also haircut week!  For me, and for the boys (because I need to break out the razor and give them a haircut this week).  I still can't bear to cut Gwen's hair.

On Saturday I'm getting my hair cut and colored.  This is what it looks like now:



I think it looks fine now, but I'm overdue for a trim.  The shape is getting a little wonky, and I wouldn't mind an inch or so taken off (not too much because I want to grow it out a little for the summer, but we'll see).  The part I'm having a hard time with is the color.  I'll probably just get my usual blonde and red highlights, but part of me wonders if I should try something new.

What is "in" these days?  I rarely color or highlight my hair, and I am definitely not up to date on current hair trends.  I kind of do my own thing, at least thus far, but I am going to ask my hairstylist/friend if she has any ideas.  I kind of like these (ignore the purple and blue ideas, those are for if/when I get up the nerve someday - which is not today).

Brunette Friends, do you color or highlight your hair?  What's your favorite look?  Should I try something new or stick with the old stand-by?

I'll post an updated picture next week!

What I'm Drinking: Celestial Seasonings Coconut Thai Chai.  Think of a more summery spin on chai tea.  It's good!

Old School Blogger Shoutout:

Felicia at Behind The Yellow Door - My dear friend Felicia has jumped on the old-fashioned blogging bandwagon!  She wrote a post about her New Year's Goals, and I think I need to steal her book goal for myself (too many books, you know).

Bekah at Shafferland - Bekah is a newer blog friend, and I have really been enjoying getting to know her better through her blog!

*Bobby is not the real name.  But it seems like a great fake little boy name, right?










© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.