Rip-off Artist

Now that we have recovered from Land Beaver Day and Beyonce Bowl, it is time to turn my house into a child labor factory and crank out some lovingly homemade valentines. My kids are really looking forward to it because they have no idea what is in store for them.

My mom is a retired art teacher (and by “retired” I mean “not teaching anymore but got her Ed.D. for fun, whee”). When she was visiting over the holidays we went shopping at Paper Source, the store where I could almost justify destroying my children’s financial future for some beautiful paper products. Somehow, as I was hypnotized by the sturdy cardstock and loopy fonts, my crafty mom convinced me that I could make the valentines that were on display in the store. And not just make them, but that I could make them better than Paper Source, and get my kids to help. Please note that I had not been drinking. Much.

So we stole a Paper Source catalog (OK, they were free, but I felt so Thelma and Louise, ripping off someone’s idea!) and went to Michael’s with a long list of supplies. Approximately six days later we emerged, tired and dehydrated, with piles of red paper and glue sticks and stickers. Which all cost more than the pre-made kits at Paper Source. Um.

After talking up the projects for weeks to the kids, I finally made some examples this weekend. They really are adorable, and look like only slightly crappier versions of the Paper Source valentines:

But they are kind of hard to make, and I predict my kids will make two before they are bored and things devolve into bribery and threats. Each one took me a good 15 minutes, and I am a really good cutter and gluer. Seriously, that’s on my resume, right next to my law school honors (which are totes going to be put to good use over the next week as I spend 20 hours cutting out hedgehogs and heart-shaped guitars).

My daughter is going to give out the hedgehogs in honor of her beloved Piney Porky McHedgypants. To complete our Paper Source rip-off, we’re writing “Hedgehugs and Kisses” on the back. All of her pre-school friends who cannot read will love it: “Oh, L is so clever with her thoughtful play on words – ‘hedgehugs’! Now can someone help me get this crayon out of my nose.” My son is giving out the guitars, and I’m going to force ask him to write “You rock!” on all of them. He will be pissed off about it probably after the sixth valentine, and will try to convince me that he just has to sign his name because, in fact, some of the kids in his class do not rock at all. Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air.

And even though my mom got me in to all of this, there is something kind of magical about having a grandma who was an art teacher. She can talk me in to trying any art project, and in between the moments of negotiating and complaining, I’m sure the kids and I will have fun. As great as our grandma is, though, this is the kind of bad ass grandma I would want on a road trip. Except for all of the stopping for tickets, it would be amazing. But why didn’t the cops stop her sooner? And how did she not make it to her granddaughter’s dance after all that trouble? Well, at least they all have a good story to tell.

I hope I can say that after we make our valentines this week.

Cracking Up

J and L have been calling each other “stale crackers” for the past few days.  They heard it on Jake and the Neverland Pirates – Jake and his little cartoon hooligan friends run around Neverland saying, “Last one to the ship is a stale cracker!”  Um.  As a white woman whose doctor just told her she’s getting older, I am super uncomfortable hearing my kids call each other stale crackers.  Sigh.

So it got all kinds of Christmas-y up in my house today.  I found the most overpriced beautiful wrapping paper and gift tags at Container Store and wrapped up some toys for my nieces and nephews.  I am sharing the picture with you because, even though my kids politely oohh-ed and ahhh-ed when I showed them a pile of beautifully wrapped presents, you and I both know they really don’t give a shit.  But maybe you do!


I also made an owl ornament today.  I use the term “made” very loosely, because I just got a $4.99 kit at Michael’s, and stuck a threaded needle through some pre-cut holes in some pre-cut felt.  Wait, is that sewing?  Did I sew?  Anyways, this owl is freaking awesome.


While I was at Michael’s, I saw a mom and daughter in the scrapbooking aisle who were just about to get into it.  The mom was wearing a Harvard Law sweatshirt, and something about it looked legit to me – not like she bought it on a trip to Boston, or like it was left over from the ’80s when all the cool seventh graders wore college sweatshirts.  It looked like she actually went to Harvard law school.  Or at least that’s what I made up in my head.  I overheard her say to her middle-school aged daughter, “I KNOW what an ink dauber is, DO NOT talk to me that way or you can forget about that embosser…THING.”  For the record, I have no idea what ink daubers or embossers are, and they scare me.

I felt for that woman.  Michael’s totally overwhelms me because the moms in there who are really good at crafting speak another language and have customs and tools that are totally foreign to me.  I imagine that woman was thinking something like this:  “I am a freaking highly educated woman standing in a strip mall craft store and an 11-year-old is smack talking my knowledge of SCRAPBOOKING SUPPLIES?  What have I done with my life.”

We’ve all been there.  Well, maybe not in a craft store arguing over embossers with a surly tween, but in that place where we know we’re working so hard – and we have the wrinkles and gray hairs to prove it – and somehow we’re still totally unprepared for what is coming at us.  Maybe that is why I am in love with my five dollar owl.  I bought it, I read the instructions, I made it, it’s cute.  The end.  Just simple and finite.

Which is pretty much the exact opposite of trying to explain to your 4 and 5-year-old why they can’t call each other crackers.  Can an ink dauber help with that?