Back when my three kids were 6 and under, my husband had transferred to a new job in Tennessee, and I was the temporary single parent trying to sell our house in Florida (while homeschooling, mind you). The ONLY way to keep our house clean for showings was to not be in the house!
If A and B, then C. I mean, if A: no one is there, and B: there are no messes, then C: it will be clean.
Living in Central Florida, there were a plethora of things to do and annual passes to use. Science center passes, zoo passes, YMCA passes, Sea World passes, and the Mac Daddy of them all… Walt Disney World passes. And oh yes, we had them all. I had a house to keep clean. Our earliest years of homeschooling consisted of:
- Field trips.
- Field trips.
- More field trips.
One of our favorite field trips – to learn about geography, you know – was to go ‘around the World’ at Epcot. Visit, say, Canada, and my kids would walk out saying things like “Eh? You hoser, you,” to the man who cut in line in front of us. (Not really.) Or ride the Mexican pavilion boat ride and they’d all of a sudden want tacos on the way home.
Actually, we did learn about geography at each of the countries, because in partnership with Family Fun Magazine, Epcot had a free craft for kids to do that had some connection to that particular country. And if one was lucky enough to go often, and we were because that was how I kept my house clean, the crafts would change. So one month, Mexico might have a color, cut, fold and glue Aztec pyramid the kids could take home. The next, they could decorate a paper skeleton with feathers and beads for Cinco de Mayo. There was a kiosk somewhere at each country with a mini Family Fun Magazine that explained the craft for that country.
I liked the crafts from the magazine so much that I bought a subscription. I absolutely loved that magazine because when you homeschool, you’re always looking for ways to engage your kids to make homeschooling interesting. Fun. Worth doing! There’s no greater way to feel like a failure as a teacher – and parent – than when your kids fight doing school. When they’re little and their attention spans are for squat, “fun stuff” like art projects and simple science experiments help make the wheels turn in their heads. Each month Family Fun brought me a veritable treasure chest of those kinds of things to interest my kids in school. So I loved it. I probably still would, actually, but those days are long, long past.
Often, there were great ideas for holidays. DIY ornaments for Christmas, healthy green “milkshakes” for St. Patrick’s Day. Those kinds of nifty things. One year, we made each other sign language “I love you cards” for Valentine’s Day, because that’s how we expressed our affection in public to our kids without embarrassing them. Still do, as a matter of fact.
I always liked to do a little something in secret on the holidays for my family too, because I’m a crafty-ish kind of person. One of the sections in the magazine I enjoyed most were the reader ideas. You know, real moms and dads share real ideas. Genius! In one of the reader ideas, one mom shared a “wall of love” she made for her kids so that when they woke up on Valentine’s Day morning, there would be hanging valentines of love they’d have to walk through when they opened their doors. It looked sweet. Thoughtful. It looked doable.
So I made them. As they opened their doors and walked into the hallway that first year, my kids were totally freaked out at first. Maybe even for the years after too! It became a tradition, and since they’re all gone this year, but it was such an easy, cute project, I thought I’d share it with you!
Each child had a color specific to them, as well as sayings too. I wasn’t going to put “Sweet Boy” on my daughter’s valentines. That’d just be weird. (Although, sidebar: What’s with the all transgender stuff lately? I filled out an online survey yesterday and when it asked for my sex, ‘transgender’ was actually an option! Are there really that many out there??? Crazy. Shaking head.) Anyway, the ones I originally made were of construction paper, but they got torn over time, so I upscaled to felt. Woohoo!
What you need:
- 9 sheets of felt (3 of 3 different colors)
- fabric glue
- baker’s twine
- embroidery floss (thread) – something that will contrast stand out on the felt colors you’ve chosen
- Scotch tape to hang
- medium needle for embroidery thread and extra extra large needle for the baker’s twine
Here’s how I did it:
First, take a sheet of felt (or paper) and loosely fold it in 1/3’s vertically. Just as you did in elementary school, cut out hearts on the fold. After you use up the length of the 1/3, fold the remaining solid pieces, cutting out more hearts. Cut out a variety of sizes.
Somewhat arrange smaller hearts of one color on a larger heart of another. You may need to trim one or the other to make them fit, but hey, all you’re after is the sentiment really, so don’t go bonkers over it – this is supposed to be easy!!!
Lightly pencil in a variety of sayings (think Conversation Hearts) on the top heart. (i.e. “xoxo,” “always,” “kisses,” ‘sweetie,” “too cute,” etc…)
Maybe catch up on your DVR list while you thread some floss into a needle and “cross stitch” over the pencil markings. Leave some of the hearts blank – it’ll look nicer anyway. It took me a couple hours to stitch all the sayings on.
After you’ve finished the words, use fabric glue to attach the front heart to the backing one. I pinned the top onto the bottom to keep them together until they dried.
Once you have all the fronts sewn onto all the backs, lay them out in whatever way you wish. I like a mix of heart sizes and colors on each “rope.” I might hang 3 on one rope and 6 on another,
Thread your extra large needle with about a 4′ – 5′ piece baker’s twine. Depending on the size of they eye of the needle, it might help to wrap a little scotch tape around the end of the twine to help you thread the needle. Knot the bottom of the thread. Start with the bottom heart, working your way to the top heart in your arrangement. Just pull an inch or so through the needle, otherwise it will be too difficult to pull through the felt. Sew through the back side and between the bottom and top hearts (you don’t want the thread to show on the saying) making one inch-long stitch.
Continue with each of the hearts until you reach the top one in that row. Leave at least 6″ of twine at the top and knot. Do the same with your remaining strings of hearts.
Use some scotch tape to hang the strings to the top of the door jamb. Cut off any extra length string at the top if needed, re-knotting the end. Hang the strings so the length and the strings are somewhat random. If necessary, adjust the hearts on the strings to make the pattern to your liking.
Feel the love. Walk through the love. Let the love wash over you.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
Hint: when you take them down, to keep them from untangling, stack the hearts starting with the bottom heart and going up to the top. Store in a ziploc baggie til next year!
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You can put them up for Julia this Valentines Day…or any day for that matter. Your love for her is given and received every day of the year!