Sarafina Design

Subtle humor. Simple design.

Susanna Hill's Valentiny Contest

Susanna Hill is at it once again with her 3rd Annual Valentiny Contest!

I participated in her Halloween contest last year, with some silly rhyming stories. For this contest, I've set the rhyme and silliness aside. My grandmother is 93, and lives in a nursing home on the other side of the country. She was diagnosed with dementia about 5 years ago. I am always filled with joy because she remembers who I am. I don't know if she is given a reminder before our video chats, but I want to believe she remembers me all on her own. I use "grandpa" in the story just to give myself a little distance from the emotion.

The rules for this contest include: A story for children 12 and under. 214 words or less. Include something about being hopeful. Be a Valentine story.

Good luck to everyone! More stories can be read on the official website: Valentiny Contest!





Grandpa used to give me roses on Valentine’s Day. Pink roses with the thorns sliced off. I’d unwrap the crinkling cellophane and Momma would trim the stems. For days they’d be on display, the crystal vase casting rainbows around my room.

I’m not getting roses from Grandpa this year. One morning he came home from a walk in a police car. Momma spoke with our family, a hushed voice in a distant room. Standing in the hall, I heard something about “disoriented” and “forgetful”. Would he forget me too?  

Weeks have passed since he left. His chair sits pushed in. The crystal vase is still tucked away. 

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but I pretend it isn’t. Passing Grandpa’s room in the morning, I slow down, listening. I hear only Momma humming in the kitchen.

Heart shaped pancakes cool on my plate. I trace their outline in syrup. The moat flows in sticky sweetness, but I don’t want to taste them yet. I am lonely.

But if I’m lonely, how must my Grandpa feel? Out comes the markers and stickers, out comes the glitter, the pipe cleaners, and glue. A Valentine for Grandpa. But when I place it in our mailbox, there is a card waiting with familiar handwriting…and a package of rosebush seeds inside.

A Couple Fun Things I Participated in...

I am NOT a natural blogger. This is pretty obvious since there is a three year gap between my posts. However, since I am now taking my (other than greeting card) writing more seriously, I do want to share a couple of competitions I took part in.


Madness Poetry!

The first is Madness Poetry ( It's an amazing, March Madness style, children's poetry competition. I was thrilled to be accepted, and then filled with crazy nerves as I prepared to be judged by peers, students, and the public. Some of the notable participants this year where Jane Yolen, Lori Degman, and Miranda Paul. There names stand out mainly because I've been focusing on picture book writing. But there were a number of accomplished poets, and novices like me. It made me feel more 'bad ass' about writing poetry. I still felt the stigma of writing poetry carried over from when I wrote terrible poetry as a kid, and went to angsty readings and slams. It felt COOL to be part of Madness Poetry, and kick started my energy for writing! My dream is to write a collection of children's poems, and the Madness poets are inspiring.

We were each assigned an obscure word, that had to be incorporated into the poem. There was also a character limit (like Twitter) for each round, and it had to be completed in approximately 36 hrs.

The matches can be viewed here: (scroll down for my name...especially if you want to see how badly my butt was kicked in Round 3, but my competitor ended up winning the entire thing, so I feel a little better!


Round One:


Word prompt for this poem: nebulous

When All Your Sundaes, Taste Like Mondays

by Jenna Waldman

Give me cheese

and give me milk,

I love ice cream

smooth as silk!


Can’t have popcorn

without butter,

milk from cows

is like no udder!


But it breaks

my heart to tell,

that me and dairy

don’t mix well.


If I eat it

I will pass,

a nebulous plume

of toxic gas!


The doc suggests,

‘try dairy free’.

Mom fills the fridge

with misery…


Milk from nuts

and cheese from soy,

all this weird food

zaps my joy.


Hemp milk smoothies,

rice ice creams...

yummy sundaes?

In my dreams!


Round Two:


Word prompt for this poem: truncated

The Monster in My Trunk-Ate-It!

by Jenna Waldman

The monster in my room,

he’s living in my trunk.

Once filled with clothes,

but now? Who knows!

I’m sure just monster junk.


One night I heard a growling,

and stomping monster feet!

I felt a poke,

and then he spoke…

‘Hey, whatcha got to eat?’


I yelled out, ‘Dinner’s through!’,

which made him cross to hear.

‘Sorry Dude,

I need more food!’

Then he bit my Teddy’s ear!


‘Oh Monster you’re a bully,

that wasn’t very fair!’

And now poor Ted,

has lost his head,

my poor ol' truncated bear!


Round Three:


Word prompt for this poem: saddled

Ukulele Sue

by Jenna Waldman

In Grandpa’s old attic, young Sue found a friend.

Its strings were all loose, and its neck had a bend.


She blew off the dust, and she shooed spiders out.

The uke filled with joy, as she spun him about!


Sue brought old Uke home, and she played a quick tune,

But Momma said, ‘Sue! It’s a QUIET afternoon!’


Up in her room, Sue and Uke started rocking,

Then Dad made her stop with a loud knock-knock-knocking!


Out to the woods wandered Uke and young Sue,

It seemed the best place for the musical two.


Then came a WOOSH! And a FLAP! And a CRY!

She reached out for Uke, as the owl took him high!


Suddenly Sue was alone with the trees.

The air had gone still, no more songs on the breeze.


She was saddled with guilt, her throat phlegmy from crying!

Then a sound! She spun ‘round, and her tears…they went flying!


For there was old Uke, looking shiny and new,

Repaired by a group of hip animals who,


Were dressed to impress, playing songs that were grand,

With their own unique ukes, in a Forest Jam Band!



The other competition I participated in was Vivian Kirkfield's #50PreciousLittleThings.

The rules had writers telling a story in only 50 words. I didn't win a thing, but really enjoyed reading everyone's stories/poems...and using mine to vent about an unfortunate event earlier in the week:


Phone Plop

by Jenna Waldman

Mom is always

on her Phone.

When with me,

or all alone.


Takes my picture

in the bath.

Sends to grandma,

makes her laugh.


When we eat,

she’s busy shopping.

Not sure that I

see this stopping.


But when I was

feeling naughty…

I threw Phone

right in the potty!


(Yes! My toddler threw my iphone into the toilet. Yes, I needed a new phone after leaving it in a bag of rice didn't do the trick, sighhh.)




We went to the Louie Awards!

Ever since I began printing my greeting cards, over ten years ago, I have wanted to enter the Louie awards. Because I had never had a run of 500+ (as required to enter) I couldn't enter until my partnership with Recycled Paper Greetings. The 2014 awards were my first time entering, and I was so thrilled to be a finalist! It was especially satisfying to see my card in great company. The other two companies in 'Humorous Birthday $3.50 and below' were big and well established: Compendium and Madison Park (the winner).

We didn’t win, but we had an AMAZING time at the Louie Awards Gala and National Stationery Show. What an honor to be a finalist with our first entry ever!

It was also a special trip because it was our (me and my friend Christine) first trip away from our two year olds! We each picked out a place we wanted to visit. I chose the High Line since I had moved from the area before the park opened. Christine chose Mood Fabric for her love of sewing and Project Runway. We also managed to fit in brunch with my high school friend and her family, and snap some pictures from the top of the Empire State Building.

It had been 6 years since I had been to NYC, and it was four days well spent.

Hurricane Sandy

On occasion, we use a greeting card to help raise money for a worthy cause. The last fundraiser was for the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties that helped feed people affected by Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey Shore. The cards were sold at MassArt Made in Boston, and raised about $135. The food bank can feed three people with just $1, so this donation goes a long way! Thank you to everyone who purchased a Fursey Shore card!