the peanuts gang

Because My Blog’s Not Dead: A 2016 Life Update

2016 has been quite the rollercoaster. I’m not talking about the developments from Target big-wigs or the news that beloved Prince is gone too soon. I’m talking about the mundane, every day of this thing called life and how the twists and turns of the past few months have taken me on a ride I never imagined I would travel.

Life begins outside of your comfort zone. It best encapsulates what 2016 seems to be doing for me.

I left an unfulfilling part-time job at the end of December and traded it in for the job of my dreams in January – working from home, working with people, and balancing the laundry with conference calls and meetings. January was new schedules, meeting new people, and learning about a job I love.

In February, I made a leap with my SIL to pursue a business — the Sisterhood of the Patterned Pants (not really that name, but you feel me). After a series of delays, I went to Disney World and our entry into clothing was put off by a few weeks. February was about risks and enjoying a vacation before the craziness.

March brought 300+ pieces of inventory, our first sale, and suddenly balancing the demands of life, business, and a daytime job all while making sure my house didn’t collapse in on itself. The constant state of clutter and hoarder-ish qualities will tell you that this part is probably already happening. March was about learning balance.

And here we are to April. Somehow, we have flown through the first four months of 2016 and I can’t remember the last time I actually made dinner. Leftovers, meals here or there, and finding a moment to just sit are few and far between. April has been about trying to learn how to embrace our new normal.

But I wouldn’t trade it. These harried few months where I try to share just a piece of our day so that I can help friends and family understand what kind of schedule we are dealing with (by choice, mind you, but nonetheless, so very full).

But how do you best encapsulate that this crazy, chaotic life upon reflection IS “having it all?” How do you share amidst your exhaustion that you believe you are in the EXACT time and place with the exact purpose that you should be? How do you share that every time you think life gets ridiculously difficult to balance that some thing, some one, gives you just the oomph you need to remind you that you doing exactly what you were meant to be?

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So if you need me, I’ll be over here living, doing, surviving. And trying to find my way back to this space that I love so much.

And probably trying to figure out a way to get dinner on the table again.

Samantha

Let’s Get Political: What to Watch When You’re Ready to Say #ByeFelicia to Election Coverage

 I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

October || November || FRIENDS || Stream Team Finds || Lifetime on Netflix || Kimmy Schmidt || Friday Night “Liars” || Netflix “Families| || Stop & Watch || All in the Family || SummerTime || On the First Day of Netflix || Rewind Time || Netflix Viewing Party || Sharing the Netflix Remote

If you’ve turned on the television or the interwebs for even 20 seconds, you’re probably bombarded with the antics of the current election cycle and if you’re anything like me, you’re just about ready to call it quits on Making America Great Again (at least for the next 7 months or so).

Don’t worry. We did our civic duty. This post is also in honor of Primaries Week in Illinois.

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If real life politics reminds you of something out of an M. Night Shyamalan mystery flick, Netflix has you covered and gives you an opportunity to imagine what politics COULD be without having to actually commit to it in the ballot box.

Ready for a cutthroat president?

Check out the likes of #FU2016 and House of Cards. Now in Season 4, Kevin Spacey masterfully calculates how to take names and run the Oval Office like a boss. Accompanied by the classiness of Robin Wright Penn as first lady who is her own political force to be reckoned with.

Think a woman is ready and capable to lead?

Tea Leoni BRINGS IT in Madam Secretary. I may or may not have binge watched the majority of this and LOVE the elements of her having a leading first man and balancing life, home, and kids.

Interested in campaign antics? 

Election with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon: The life and times of the election for student council president will give you a bird’s eye view into what running a major political campaign must look like.

How does the West Wing work?

Watch the show (Hint: The West Wing) You will find out. Maybe. Perhaps. Or you’ll just burn through 7 seasons and be just as confused about the office as when Gerald Ford when he took office upon Nixon’s resignation.

Documentary lover and want to see all about money doom and gloom? 

Check out Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve. Because nothing’s quite as sobering as watching real life information about tragedy and the economy crashing to the ground.

How do you use Netflix to escape the political mayhem? 

Samantha

Spurring Others on to Greatness {A Fight for Air Climb Story}

Two years ago, my brother, niece, and nephew embarked on the Fight for Air Climb in Oakbrook Terrace in honor of our Aunt Joan and her battle with lung cancer ten years prior. We came back again this year with two more climbers, ready to face the fated stairs again.

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The Alumni received special pins to wear in honor of our second climb.

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And I wore leggings that best exemplified my feelings. I would finish this Tower climb when pigs flew…

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But alas, it was still time to get things moving.

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We added Aunt Joan’s name to the wall in memoriam and so began our journey. David Nathanael hustled up the steps, determined to beat his record from last time. Jonathan and Jim weren’t far behind and David and Kaeli kept pace with their hearts beating out of their chests. I brought up the rear and kept a pass that rivaled a snail. But I was still climbing.

As I was making my trek, I met Debbie. A 50-year-old woman with persistent back pains and herniated discs who had climbed the tower once last year. We stayed near one another. About halfway up the first time, she asked if I would consider sticking with her and be her cheerleader because she was really hoping to make it up a second time if I would walk alongside her.

And so we climbed. 

On the second time up, I spent much of my time behind her, encouraging her to keep pressing on, despite the pain and difficulty. She persevered and at Floor 20, I asked if she would take a picture with me near Aunt Joan’s sign.

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We stopped for water, but didn’t accept a paper towel for our sweat because in her words, “This is how we show our beast mode.” Our pace was slow and steady, but I was reminded that sometimes life isn’t a race. Sometimes, it’s about being the cheerleader. The support. The partner. The one who pushes someone to be their best self. It’s about doing life together and in that stairwell, I was reminded of just how much we need one another in this life.

A lesson that Aunt Joan was often teaching people – just how much we need each other and need to be their through thick and thin.

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We also laughed about this sign and I think that spurred us on to finish our second climb up.

At the top, I bid adieu to Debbie and thanked her for journeying with me. We hugged, we selfied, and she was on her way, determined to do three times up next year.

One last climb still awaited me. 

David N., Jim, and Jonathan were taking a snooze after they finished their flights in record time. David and Kaeli were already up on their journey. As I turned to start again, David Nathanael reminded me to grab Aunt Joan’s sign.

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I was a woman on a mission. Last climb – all by myself – and ready to get to that sign. I climbed. And climbed. And climbed. And as Floor 20 came closer, I could think of nothing more than to reach her. Checked my phone – Kaeli and David were done. Must keep moving. And then I turned the corner to Floor 20…

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It was gone. She was gone. The sign that I was journeying after, suddenly gone. And I felt the wind rush out of me because it was that reminder, much like I experienced in 2014, that she was really gone. But I still had 11 floors to go. I still had life left to be lived. And in that sobering thought, I knew that is what she wants. For us to carry on her legacy, to live our life in her absence.

And so I pressed on. And I finished. And we did this big thing – all for her.

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Because sometimes, you have to find a way to keep living. Living the best life as she inspired us all to do. She continues to spur us on to greatness. And that is a life worth celebrating and a legacy worth carrying on.

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13,260 steps, $3,113 raised, 558 floors, 12 years gone, 6 climbers, in honor of one amazing woman.

All for you, all the time, Aunt Joan.

You can still donate here or join our team next year. #FortWayneFighters would love to have you!

Samantha

Pretty in Pink & Pine Needles: A Love Story

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I could share many stories today – such as the one about our Proposal or our plans, but instead, I’m opting to share one about a different kind of love. A story that I remember vividly and ironically fit with my plans for today to see Pretty in Pink for its 30th Anniversary at the theaters.

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It started with a Dream Box and the loss of our first baby. Fast-forward two years later, same time of year, just weeks after Christmas, with the news of our second loss fresh in my mind. And I was angry. Really, deep to my core, angry that I would have to deal with yet another loss and our family plans would be halted.

In my frustration, I looked at our Christmas tree still hanging out in the corner of our front room and did the only logical thing I could think of. I dragged that wretched tree to our balcony and chucked it over the edge, pine needles and all. Along the way, the dead tree dropped thousands of its needles and embedded them into our carpet.

It was not my finest moment. But it felt ridiculously good to throw that thing amidst my anguish.

My best friend in the universe called to see how I was and I think she could tell that I had reached a breaking point with my grief.

Within an hour, she dropped everything in her life – family, responsibilities, and obligations – to come and help me pick up each and every one of those blasted needles. And help me clean up the mess I was in.

She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t wonder why. She just cleaned up with me.

Because that’s what LOVE does.

Because love is action and not always words. Love is difficult, but Love is worth it.

I will never forget the love I experienced that day from my dearest friend. And on this Valentine’s Day, I hope you know that LOVE isn’t just the romantic kind.

It’s helping someone pick up pine needles embedded into a carpet.

So you’re probably wondering what Pretty in Pink has to do with it?

Well, that sweet friend also brought along a little care package – filled with a heart sucker and the movie Pretty in Pink.

Because there is not quite anything compared to the love of a friend.

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Samantha

SoCozy now found in Bed Bath & Beyond, Harmon & BuyBuyBaby!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SoCozy. All opinions are my own and not edited by the sponsor.

With two little misters who love to get outside and get dirty, they spend lots of valuable time in our bathtub – cleaning up from their messes throughout the day.

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As a mom, I love allowing them to get muddy and seeing them play, but there’s something refreshing about snuggling them in fresh pajamas and smelling the wafts of their hair freshly clean from the tub. Knowing how close products in the tub touch their skin, I’m keen to find ones that will keep them safe AND clean.

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Enter SoCozy. SoCozy is a line of salon formulas for the unique hair needs of kids between the ages of 2 and 12 years old. What I love about these products is that they are non-toxic and made without the yucky stuff – no parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, phtalates, synthetic color, propylene glycol. This line of bath products is also free of alcohol, gluten, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts.

You can even hear more from Cozy Friedman – Founder of SoCozy and hear about why she wanted to create something extra special for our kids. Plus, as a huge bonus, the shampoo, conditioner, and styling cream that we tried out smelled AMAZING, but more like kids, so you don’t have to worry about them growing up and dating too quickly.

Here’s a bit more about the brand and their way of thinking:

So Smart – Genius is more like it. We believe knowledge is power, which is why education is at our core – the pulse of our brand. Advice, solutions, tips, trends – we serve as an extensive resource for moms, kids, stylists and salon owners.

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So Safe – No nasties in here; just good, clean, honest formulations with ingredients that perform at the highest level. Safe and effective – and completely non-toxic – it’s great hair minus the harsh chemicals.

So Easy – Because being a parent isn’t always easy, we make haircare that is: simple, fun, multi-functional products that streamline tub time, as well as solutions targeting specific hair concerns to make styling a snap.

The Styling Cream was SO easy to use and easily tamed Jack’s luscious mane. Not to mention, a scent like Trop-o-Lish? I’m in!

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So Cool – Take a strand. Through our products, website, social channels and unique collaborations, we encourage and support individuality. All kids, any hair type – we make it our mission to build confidence and inspire originality. Being you is our idea of cool.

Charlie smelled delightful and was styling and profiling with SoCozy products in his hair.

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We found SoCozy hanging out in our local Bed, Bath & Beyond.

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To find SoCozy near you, check out the SoCozy.com Locations Page for all the details. Don’t forget, throughout the month of February (until February 29th), you will receive 20% off of all SoCozy products.

SoCozy on Social Media

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Bed Bath & Beyond on Social Media

Twitter | Instagram

Which product are you most ready to SoCozy up with?

Samantha

Family Night In: Tips for Sharing the Netflix Remote

I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

October || November || FRIENDS || Stream Team Finds || Lifetime on Netflix || Kimmy Schmidt || Friday Night “Liars” || Netflix “Families| || Stop & Watch || All in the Family || SummerTime || On the First Day of Netflix || Rewind Time || Netflix Viewing Party

In our house, we typically stream Netflix from our television via our Roku system. This means that we have our very own “Netflix remote” for finding our favorites and streaming them instantly. It also means that we find ourselves fighting over the Netflix remote when it’s time for a little family viewing. (Heck, unless it’s House of Cards or The Office, there’s not much my hubby and I agree on watching either!)

I’ve put together some tried and true tips for sharing the Netflix remote and how you can enjoy a family night in while simultaneously keeping the peace.

Family Movie Night Popcorn Bar #Netflix #StreamTeam [ad]

Let the kids select first.

This might seem like a no-brainer. But after a long day at work or running around with the hustle and bustle, it might seem tempting to pull the “But I’m the parent card!” and choose first. You will not win. Trust me, I’ve tried. You might even suggest some family favorites to try and agree on!

Care Bears & Cousins, Season 2

Fuller House  (coming at the end of this MONTH!)

Between kids, have them take turns with selections or have a random Plan B ready. 

Sometimes, we go by birth order. Others, we encourage them to take turns selecting. When all else fails, grab a pair of dice and have the highest roll select first or pick a number and whoever is closest gets the honor of first choice. You may get lucky and they might agree on a selection, but when they don’t, have Plan B ready.

Have blankets and pillows ready!

In our house, we lounge on the couch, lay on the floor, or snuggle close when watching our favorites. In Chicago, blankets are a necessity in the cold months, so this helps to keep us warm and snuggled up! I also love to spread out the blankets as a space for an indoor picnic! Perfect for a family night in and the kids will love it.

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Have snacks on hand

Enhance the experience by making popcorn with your crew. We bought a miniature popcorn maker years ago and it looks like an old-fashioned machine. We absolutely love it and it pops up a nice full bowl of popcorn when we are ready for a night of snacking. Take your popcorn love one step further and create a popcorn bar for everyone to top with their favorites – think chocolates, candy, butter, and more!

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Bedtime + Netflix for Mom & Dad

Family Night In is over and time to shift gears! Put the kids to bed and head back to your living room for a shift to Date Night In! Grab a glass of wine, fill up your popcorn bowl, and catch all your Netflix favorites without having to share the remote with your kids. Might we suggest?

Once Upon a Time

Ferris’ Bueller’s Day Off

Consider having a Family Night In this upcoming weekend in celebration of Valentine’s Day! We’ll be live-tweeting while watching Armageddon and enjoying our own little romantic night in.

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What are your best tips for sharing the Netflix remote? 

Samantha

Half-Handmade Valentines: Thanks, Target!

Whenever I head to Target, my first stop is ALWAYS the DollarSpot. That place is a mecca of inexpensive cuteness that I neither need nor know exactly what to use for all the time, but somehow, someway, I always manage to spend the bulk of my time there. Just ask the Clever Pink Pirate who sent me this Valentine’s package of Target goodies!

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This year, I snagged squishy monkeys and frogs for each of the boys’ classes. The frogs came 6 for $1 and the monkeys came in at 8 for $1. Next, I thought about making printables, but that is not really my skillset, so instead, I searched the interwebs (Hello, Pinterest) and found the perfect match! I then sent the PDF/JPG off to my local printer who printed them in color and on cardstock for me (use local – if you’re in the Chicagoland area, I LOVE D&D Printing in Oak Lawn – and no, he’s not paying me to say that).

“You Make My Heart Leap” Valentine! can be found here on I Dig Pinterest

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For each Valentine, I stuck the frog and monkey respectively. Then, I place them in a cellophane bag along with our customized Tiny Prints Classroom Valentines and instead of using the tie, sealed with a cute stickers. I think the end result turned out adorable + NO candy = win win win!

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“No Monkeying Around!” Be My Valentine from Houseful of Handmade who also uses the same monkeys, so I knew this would be a perfect fit!

Half-Homemade Classroom Valentines

What are do your Valentines look like this year? 

Samantha

Chicago Wolves: Hockey for the Whole Family

We received a family pack of tickets to catch their recent game versus the Iowa Wild. All opinions and pictures are our own. 

In Chicago, we love hockey. We also love the opportunity to share these experiences with our kids and attend these events as a whole family – time and money sometimes get in the way of that. With Allstate Arena just a stone’s throw from some of our favorite spots in Rosemont, what better way to have some fun as a family than to check out a Chicago Wolves hockey game?

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The boys and I headed there this past Saturday for a match against the Iowa Wild. The evening was also Military Appreciation Night (so nice to see teams pay tribute to our military!) and Adopt-a-Dog event. Definitely not going to lie, but Charlie and I scoped out the pets during intermission and I secretly wanted to take them all home. It must be popular because after a few featured dogs were shared on the rink, almost all of them were adopted shortly after that!

A little pre-game fun!

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We had some fun with Skates (the Wolves mascot) when he danced down our aisle and seemed to really engage the crowd. I love that the entire team and game seems centered around family and we saw a ton of families enjoying the night together. It’s obvious that it’s a priority for them as an organization.

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The teams were a bit rough and tumble with each other and the mom in me cringed. The boys loved it though and they enjoyed getting in on all the action! Fireworks, lights, and music helped to enhance the overall atmosphere and really provide a fun night out. We snagged some treats (we recommend the soft pretzels and cotton candy)!

If you’re looking for a great night out with your family, consider the Fan 4 Pack, as low as $89 and you receive four tickets, four hot dogs, four drinks, and an order of popcorn – perfect for the whole family! They also do a ton of special events and really aim to have the whole family involved with their kids’ club!

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Find a full schedule and more details on their website and even more fun on their social media channels:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Samantha

The People v. O.J. Simpson: A Dramatic Interpretation of a Dramatic Interpretation

A few months ago, I saw a promo for David Schwimmer to play Robert Kardashian in an upcoming series about the O.J. Simpson trial.

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Photo Credit: EOnline

Imagining Ross Geller playing the patriarch of the Kardashian family seemed downright laughable and I brushed off the draw to watch this drama unfold.

After seeing some scuttlebutt on my Facebook feed, I stayed up on Wednesday night and DVR’ed the first episode intending to watch it at a later date. Instead, I watched the episode as my DVR was recording it and my  life has never been the same.

The case that captured the national audience when I was an awkward pre-teenager was suddenly highlighted again. Catching bits and pieces during those years, the FX series shed light on some of the lesser known facts (I encourage your own independent fact-checking) and helped to give some perspective to my now adult self.

I can vividly remember the television being wheeled into the cafeteria and our gym teacher demanding silence as we watched the jury come back. When I informed my mother at the time of what we had watched during our lunch hour, she marched to the principal’s office. I would imagine to suggest that perhaps exposing us to the circus that was the O.J. Simpson trial was probably not the best course of education.

Where were you when the O.J. Simpson saga was unfolding? 

I can remember watching the Bronco race away for a bit on the television and hearing now about the reflections on the glove and the major names involved. But to see this case played out via a television series? I suddenly felt like I was back in a lunchroom with fold-down benches and paper sacks.

David Schwimmer playing Robert Kardashian is best described by my husband and my cousin (with whom I “virtually” watched the episode again with when she watched it later in the week). They suggested that he seems like he is basically Ross Geller playing Robert Kardashian. And they nailed it.

Imagine my surprise when during the episode, I heard a familiar voice and was surprised to see John Travolta make an appearance as Robert Shapiro. Initially in shock, I came around to his character and thought his portrayal was both comical and spot on. FX brought some big names to the scene, including Connie Britton as Faye Resnick, Selma Blair as Kris Kardashian, and Cuba Gooding Jr. as the disgraced football player at the core of this case.

Most roles are played out perfectly, but we agreed that Cuba Gooding Jr. seemed smaller and not quite as scary as O.J. While his acting is good, we thought he needed a bit more oomph to get the full effect as the “Juice.” On that note, grab your O.J., pop, tea, or drink of your choice and we dare you not to take a drink every time someone refers to O.J. as “The Juice.” In one part of the episode, Robert Kardashian Geller refers to him as this about 5 times consecutively and all I can think of is Sally Field as M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias encouraging Shelby to just DRINK THE JUICE!

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "From the Ashes of Tragedy" Episode 101 (Airs Tuesday, February 2, 10:00 pm/ep) -- - Pictured: (l-r) John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX

Photo Credit: Variety THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “From the Ashes of Tragedy” Episode 101 (Airs Tuesday, February 2, 10:00 pm/ep) — – Pictured: (l-r) John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs on Tuesdays at 10 pm and the next episode goes live tonight. I won’t spoil the first episode, but tune in for all the action and our recap next week. I have watched the first episode four times and I dare you not to be hooked!

Did you catch the first episode of the O.J. Simpson saga? What did you think? 

Samantha

Fall in Love with Unique Classroom Valentines

I’ve partnered with Tiny Prints to bring you some holiday fun that is perfect for the classroom setting. All choices were my own and my opinions are MINE!

Both boys are in the swing of school and Charle is in a larger classroom with plenty of Valentines to share with this year. Jack will be participating in a classwide tea party and Valentines are a must for both of my little cuties this year. I thought about heading out and picking up a box of their favorites, but instead opted to make things a bit more personal this year. Enter Tiny Prints.

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My long-time favorite for personalized holiday greeting cards, Tiny Prints produces quality designs printed on just the right cardstock and coordinating envelops. So imagine my surprise when I heard they were now producing customized Valentines for their classroom! Count me in.

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These Valentine cards are customized and personalized to your individual child and you can add pictures, checkout designs, and add a proper greeting at the end. I love that they are unique – just as they are – and with a plethora of designs, you won’t have a hard time choosing one.

Charlie’s choice went perfectly with a photograph from when we participated in the Color Run earlier this year – absolutely perfect!

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I also love the fact that you could create stickers for sealing the outside to make sure that no Valentine gets a peek before they are supposed to. Another opportunity to show off your child’s creativity and personality!

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Sealed with a Tiny Prints sticker!

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Head to Tiny Prints website to order your Valentine Cards by February 4th for a February 12th delivery – just in time for those classroom parties! Jack had a blast selecting his fun monsterous card!

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“Eye” really love these Tiny Prints finds also!

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Check out the full range of Valentine cards options for your child’s Valentine’s Day classroom celebration and pick your favorite Tiny Prints card. You will LOVE what you find!

 Find even more from Tiny Prints on social media:

Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook

Which is your favorite Valentine design on Tiny Prints’ website? 

 

Samantha