Valentines and Treasure Hunts

I find the best way to stay on top of a holiday is to plan a whole year in advance.  I will take all the inspiration I got on Valentine's day, and as soon as Valentine's Day is over I'll use it to plan for next year.  That gives me the rest of the year to forget all about it.  It really works like a charm.

I don't like Valentine's day.  I didn't like it when I was single because I was single, but even now that I am happily married I still don't like it.  All the pink and the hearts.  All of the obligatory expressions of affection.  The hours of waiting to be seated in a restaurant, the stuffed animals, the cheesiness, the unrealistic expectations, the doilies, the store bought valentines, etc. etc.

One of those things alone would be fine.  Pink = great!  Pink in addition to giant stuffed Mooses with hearts for antlers is just too much.  I think it is a holiday on par with St. Patrick's Day in regards to pointlessness, but the world tries to act like it is as important as Christmas.  For that reason I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare it the dumbest holiday IN THE WORLD!  This is what blogging is for, you know.  To make ridiculous, found-less statements, based on opinion and emotion.

At least, that is how I used to feel.  These days, though, I don't mind it so much.  I really like making valentines with Harrison.  This year we made some for Colin too.  And I love our new Valentine's traditions: Candlelit Dinner at Home with the boys followed by a Treasure Hunt!.  I was actually looking forward to Valentine's Day this year.  And because I want to eliminate gratuitous clicking, I'm going to recap what we've done in the past, in the hopes that it might inspire those who hate Valentines day just as much as me.

Valentines To Make:

DYNAMITE VALENTINE


Here is a tutorial for the tutorial lover in you:
  1. Buy smarties.
  2. Cut red construction paper the width of a package of smarties.  
  3. Wrap construction paper around smarties and secure with tape or glue or chewed up gum. 
  4. Put 3 wrapped smarties together and wrap some black electrical tape around the whole thing.  
  5. Cut black electrical wire into several pieces about 3-4 inches long. 
  6. Make a note to stick on top.  These were made using the Sound FX Font.  
  7. Stick the wire between the smarties, and tape your note onto the top.  

If you don't feel like making your own tags and you WANT your Valentines to say "Kaboom" (who doesn't?)  you can always use these:




ROBOT VALENTINES:



These are even more self explanatory than the last ones. (and so fun to play with!)  I can't remember what candy I used for the body, but candy in little boxes like that is not hard to find.  I just hot glued all the pieces together.  Blamo.  You could probably find a way to make the robot without legs, and save yourself a little more money.  But here is the robot face I made, if you like that kind of thing.

Candy Robot Face green mouth copy
Just copy and paste that a bunch of times into a word document and there you go.  You could even add some cute words, like: 


yeah, I couldn't come up with anything great, but I'm sure you will.


Then last year we made these:


I didn't come up with them.  I didn't even take that picture.  Click on the picture and it will take you to the page where you can download everything you need to make them.

Again this year, instead of using our depleting brain cells to come up with something original for Valentines, we turned to the power of the internet.  We picked a couple we liked and let the kids choose between them.  Here are the ones we made for Harrison:

airplane valentine

They are airplanes.  Can you tell?  You can see a tutorial on Spoonful.  Theirs are cuter than ours, but since these were for school, we had to keep our mints inside their wrappers and it ruins the effect a little.  But Harrison liked them.  That's all that matters.

harrison valentine

I printed the note on top onto full sheets of label paper and then stuck the labels onto the side of the gum wrapper that opens, so it held everything together nicely.  And if you want to do the same, here are the labels I made, complete with space at the bottom of each label for them to sign their name.
airplane valentine
There are very faint lines around each label to show where it should be cut.  If you can't see them and need help, send me an email and I'll do what I can.  You are important to us.


Here are the ones we made for Colin:

superhero valentines

Super Heroes.  Big Surprise.  These can be found on Zakka Life, with printables and all.  Valentines DONE.


TREASURE HUNT

Sometimes a girl doesn't have the energy or wherewithal to come up with her own clues for a treasure hunt.  And last time I looked I found very few treasure hunt ideas online, so I'm gonna share with you what we did.  We've done this for three whole years now, so I've got a crap-loads of experience under my belt.

Here is what we did the first year:


Which idea I got from Serving Pink Lemonade.  Click the link for more clue ideas.  Here are the other clues I used:

I think you are getting cuter.
Look behind Daddy's computer

This heart is a pretty red.
Look under a tall, black bed

You're I.Q. is getting higher.
Check the place that holds the fire.

Valentine's is very groovy.  
Look inside where we keep movies.

You're so smart it isn't fair.
Go look under Mommy's chair


Last year I did a Picture Treasure Hunt. I took pictures of things as close up as I could and then printed out all the little pictures and used the pictures themselves as the clues.  Like so:

picturetreasurehunt

I thought they were too easy, so to make the fun last, I did about 40 of them.  But they weren't that easy after all.  Richard was ready to kill me.  10 would have been perfect.  For boys my age, 10 is the magical number.  Now I know.

This year I used QR Codes.

qr code

 I found a QR Code maker (QRStuff.com) entered my clues into the generator and out popped my codes, all ready to go.  Here are my clues, with answers underneath in italics.  These clues are tricky, and I didn't want you to have to think more than was necessary.

Twas Valentine’s evening and dinner was through.
3 boys were running, looking for a clue.
The 1st clue is hidden under a black bed.

The next one can sometimes be found on Dad’s head.\
(Richard's Hat)

The very next clue wants to have F.H. E.
He thinks it’s his turn to teach you and me.
(Family Home Evening Chart)

Clue number 4 likes to stay cool,
(The Fridge)

Clue number 5 dropped his kids at the pool.
(Toilet)

This clue likes warmth, he always wants more. 
He spends all his time down on the floor.
(Heater Vent)

This clue wants to eat, he’s hungry for dinner,
(Dinner Table)

The next clue keeps checking to see if he’s thinner.
(scale)

And this is the last clue, the very last one. 
So go sit on the couch and relax!  You’re done!


And poking out from under a couch cushion was the prize: a movie and some chocolates.  I taped the little printed out QR Codes all over the house, and when the kids found them, they would stick them on their forehead so their Dad could scan them.  New Tradition Born.  


scanning code

Harrison kept saying it was the best night ever, though probably his favorite part was the Candlelit dinner.  And it turns out that spending Valentines day with my kids is really what made me finally like the holiday.  They are fun.  They think the stuff we do on Valentines day is fun.  How can that not rub off on me a little?

No news is good news, so Here is the news

I read in the Ensign a couple of months ago something that I can't quote, but the gist of which was this: You get a lot farther with your own problems if your spend time taking care of someone else's.

It stuck with me, because my frame of mind is usually, "I have my own life to deal with, I don't have time to help anyone else." Which is a pretty sad outlook, really.  It is hard to STOP feeling that way though.  But when someone needed some help packing up boxes today, and someone else offered to watch my kids for an hour, I knew this was my chance.  So I went and helped.  Really no big deal stuff.  wrapping glass in newspaper and putting it in boxes.  It was an enjoyable morning, getting to know a couple of ladies a little better.

Then I picked up my kids and came home to get Harrison ready for school.  And guess what?  I got an email from the architect with the plans attached including the final changes we have been waiting for.

Are the 2 things related?  Absolutely they are.  Does that mean that every time I go out and lend a hand to my neighbor I will come home to find my problems fixed?  Of course not!  But it turns out that sitting at home and cursing people and stress eating and chewing on pens wasn't doing me any good.

And since I've spent the day trying to figure out how to help this women get the rest of her stuff moved quickly, I've had less energy to spend stressing out about my house and the things I have no control over. Go Figure.

Now, as far as the house plans go, we still have to wait for the architect to finish them up.  Do all the elevations and stuff that we are paying him crap-loads of money for.  I don't know how long this will take.  Probably a month, if history has taught me anything.  Will I be able to let it go and just go out and serve everyone with nary a thought for myself.  Ha, unlikely.  But maybe I'll be just a little more willing to help next time someone asks, and that ain't bad.