It’s very easy when wrestling with jobs, toddlers and a crumbling, weary gem of a house to become a little, well, unmoved by Valentine’s Day. The hustle and bustle of life combined with the unspoken thought that one’s Intended is not only now Intended but actually sort of already In The Bag can lead to a distinct lack of effort.
We realised we needed to remedy this and furtive, concerted efforts have been made in recent days, with much rustling and the occasional shriek of ‘don’t come in!’ when the other approaches unexpectedly. The challenge we face is that of how to make grand romantic gestures on the deliberately austere budget we have agreed for such measures. How dull.
My solution – at least in part – is to go personal with this homemade gift wrap, using a poem from our wedding, the lovely and highly unusual ‘Valentine’ by John Fuller. Featuring the immortal lines ‘You are the end of self-abuse/I’d like to make you reproduce’, it certainly caused a stir amongst the congregation, and also a fit of choking in the Best Man who hadn’t read it properly before giving the reading. Still, it has special memories so I played with some fonts and colours and printed it on A3 recycled paper, which just covers a box of the right size for my gift and has a suitably tactile texture. Let’s hope it does the trick..
Your toddler years are probably the only time in your life where you are allowed – nay encouraged – to believe that you are the Centre of the Universe, around whom everyone else revolves. Why not celebrate that with a scrapbook-style family tree? Harry is by now pretty clear on who his relatives are, but sometimes needs reminding. He’s also fascinated by the connections between them and to him – particularly given that we’re a modern, blended family with all sorts of interconnectivities and the kind of complex histories that only a venn diagram could truly give order to.
We’re making this together (or rather, I make it with Harry issuing commands about who is placed where, wielding the glue stick and frequently peeling people off for a closer look, or to attempting to insert their photos into Postman Pat’s van, or attaching them to the fridge..so it’s hardly a zen, bonding crafting experience, it has to be said). We’ve taken a pretty liberal view of family, including favourite toys and friends as well as those from who Harry is genetically inseparable. It’s a work in progress as we collect photos to add in. Be warned if you try this at home; EVERY single person who sees it will claim that you have used a terrible picture of them…
I’m always looking for ways to keep my toddler distracted in restaurants in the time it takes between ordering his spaghetti (and it’s always spaghetti if he’s choosing), and it arriving at the table. These table mats take 5 minutes to design and print-off onto A3 paper using simple clip art frames, and I’ve taken to keeping a stash in the car ready to whip out whenever life slows to an unpalatable pace for a 2yr old. The surprising news is that these are even more popular with grown-ups, particularly as a post-prandial activity when inhibitions have been dampened by alcohol and everyone fancies themselves an artist. We keep the best – or the most irreverent – and hang them in the kitchen. For older kids the following suggestions also work well:
- Draw your favourite outfit
- Draw the Christmas / birthday present you want most in the world
- Draw your favourite meal (though this can be a dangerous game, particularly if what you’re actually serving is considered a real let-down in comparison, and/or contains an inappropriately high level of vegetables…