Valentine’s Day Fun With Open When Cards


Like many women my age,  I love Pinterest and all of its glory. This past fall as I was looking for Advent decorations, I came across this really great idea to use for Valentine’s Day. If you don’t know Pinterest very well, then that statement may sound a little strange. But if you do know Pinterest, you understand that  as I was looking for Advent decorations I then started looking at Christmas card layouts which led me to look at poses for family photos and I ended up with Open When cards. Simple, right?

Because I had never heard of the concept of Open When cards, I actually clicked on the website that featured the pins and I learned a lot about this unique and relatively inexpensive gift. Open When cards are a stack of greeting cards that you give to someone in anticipation of the highs and lows of everyday life.

This is a great idea for a gift that keeps on giving and reminds the people you love that they are on your mind. Here’s how you do it:

  1. You are going to select anywhere from 10-20 cards per person you are planning to present the cards to. This year, I am giving all three of my kids a set for Valentine’s Day. I plan to also give each of my parents and my aunt a set for their birthdays this year. When we went to a Christmas party at a friend’s house in December, I took a set for her as a hostess gift with enough cards to last her until January 1, 2017. As you can see, anyone can enjoy this gift.
  2. When you’re shopping for cards, you need to think about the upcoming holidays that may be on the shelves already. Since we’re in February, the obvious Valentine’s Day cards are included, but St. Patrick’s Day, the Spring Equinox, and Easter may also have fun cards for you to peruse.
  3. Next you need to think about very human experiences that we all have. At some point, everyone feels sad, everyone feels nervous, everyone misses a loved one who has passed away. Think about getting a congratulations card, a sympathy card, a good luck card, and a blank card for you to write your own message.
  4. Most importantly, get a birthday card! You know your recipient will have a birthday in the coming months and a birthday just isn’t a birthday without a card.

After you leave the card store, come home and sort them as soon as possible. I bought all of my cards in December and by mid January when I was working on this project, I kind of forget who I had in mind for each card. The kids were easy, because for the most part, their cards are the same with the exception of a few. Here how the round of cards for Valentine’s Day looked. before I signed and addressed them.


Here you see four sets of cards that I am giving for Valentine’s Day. Three for my kids and one for an adult. Now, I need to tell you that since I started this project, I have become a bit of a card freak. After buying the original set of cards from my local Dollar Tree, I found some more on-line from this website.

The most time consuming part of this project is the next part. Here’s where you sign the cards and write whatever sentiments you want to express. Then,  address each envelope for  the circumstance it covers.

IMG_0527 copy

You can see that I’ve started addressing the cards for one of the kids. The lime green envelope relates to a school event where each of them will have to give a presentation. If this year is anything like the past two years, they will put a lot of hard work into it and absolutely rock the event. That particular card is a a congratulations card.

This project is great for its versatility as well. After I received a “what can I get a new girl that I’m kind of dating” text message from an old friend of mine, I gave him this idea. Because the woman lives in a different city he bought an extra large card to send the smaller cards in. In his words, she was not only touched but be gained major romance points with her friends!


Have you ever given Open When cards? What are you giving those closest to you this year?


Dear Former Husband

dear former husband instagram

This year we have known each other for 20 years. This year we can celebrate (or not), the fact that the same stop on the path of our careers created a forever for us that neither could have ever imagined.

As we approach Valentine’s Day in less than a week, and as I reflect on the place love has had in my life, I can only say two words to you.

Thank you.


You never hid who you were and what was important to you in a relationship. Thank you for that.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. I’m not going to say thank you for hurting me because I learned I can emerge from any relationship adversity as a stronger woman. I am going to say thank you, because I learned a lot from you.

In our 20 years of knowing each other, you have given me a lot. Some things I enjoyed, some I could not stand. Some things made me laugh and some things made me post really aloof, yet catty things on social media about you. And while I may not have carried myself with the best amount of decorum in recent years, I still owe you a lot.

  1. Thank you for showing me the back roads. When we were married, I remember complaining because you did not like to drive on highways. As I was used to rushing from place to place and felt that the side streets would not get me anywhere on time, you simply said, “Sometimes the highways are shut down and you have to get to your destination in a different way than you planned.” One time, you even went on to tell me, “Is it the end that matters Toni, or is it the journey?” Of course, at the time I thought is was the end, but when I look back on the purpose of life I have come to realize everything we learn, everything we appreciate, and everything that makes us grow, happens in the journey, which is sometime different from what we thought it would be.
  2. Thank you for teaching me how to to investigate. If there’s anything that my girlfriends and I love, it’s the fact that I can investigate anything. You and I learned how to Google together. We used all of the knowledge you learned in police academy about background checks. You taught me how to access public records rather quickly. Honestly sir, I became the go-to person when my friends needed to create their own version of the TV show, Cheaters. I know it’s probably not the best attribute of my personality to be known for, however that thirst for investigation allowed me to teach our children how to question, how to fact-check, and how to pause before believing something that is too good to be true.
  3. Thank you for being patriotic. Some friends and I were talking one day about the people who have such an innate love for this country that all they are is about service to it. From your involvement with the military to your career in law enforcement, you love the United States of America. You believe in the inalienable rights, and need to protect others based on those rights. Thank you for teaching the kids and me that even though America is not perfect, it is ours.
  4. Thank you for your love of music. For the years we were together, you would often come home from work and zone out by listening to music. That frustrated me often because we had three kids under the age of 3 and the chaos was loud and messy. Not too long after we separated, though, I found myself cultivating my own iTunes account with pride and joy because I learned that I needed to appreciate every opportunity that I had to be still and listen. Music gives me the opportunity to bask in reflection, peace, and vulnerability like I never have before.
  5. Thank you for living your calling. When I was 16, I knew I wanted to become a writer. After  I graduated from college, I followed a path that led to me doing a lot of different things related to my career. It took me until August of 2015 to meet my calling and accept it’s presence in my life. You knew you wanted to be a police officer when you were a little boy. You can now celebrate a career just shy of 25 years in law enforcement. Where the kids have seen my creative struggles and triumphs in jobs I’ve had that weren’t a part of my calling, they have seen your dedication to the police shield like  none other.
  6. Thank you for trusting me. As we embarked on the process of ending our marriage, we never had an argument about the custody of our children. I can remember you saying, “It only makes sense for you take the kids, you know more about schools and homework and college preparation than I ever could.” Many marriages end up in vicious court battles because of egos and the desire to win. I am convinced that ours was as good as it could have been because you trusted me to make the best day to day decisions as it relates to the kids. I want you to know that I don’t take that trust for granted.
  7. Thank you for sharing, not hiding,  your love language. A friend gave us Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages as a gift. To be perfectly honest, when I first read the book, I identified your love language, and decided that I hated it.  While it sounds harsh, I am grateful for the opportunity to know and study your love language first hand — even if I didn’t like what it revealed. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, this whole dating thing over 40 is tricky, and often clothed with a lot of smoke and glass. In the seven years we’ve been apart, one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with is trying to figure out the truth and what lies at the core of someone I am dating. You never hid who you were and what was important to you in a relationship. Thank you for that.

When I sat down to write this letter, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say. The only lingering thought I had was to be honest. As with many who reflect on a previous marriage, feelings of anger and resentment crept and I just didn’t know how to combat that. While we’ve never had a contentious relationship, I think it’s safe to say we would not actively seek out the opportunity to spend time together.

As we travel through life and visit places we never thought we’d go, it’s fair to accept and understand that we don’t have to be in love with an experience to learn and grow from it. That lesson is probably the best lesson I could gain from the last 20 years. Thank you for who you are and thank you for just being you.

And as you and I both know, we came together in the name of total greatness three times, and those gifts are called CJ, Tyra, and Jada. Happy Valentine’s Day.