Have I mentioned that we had a tough year? (The real question might be, "Have I talked about anything else?") It wasn't just a hard year for Jeff and I, it was difficult for our children as well. I felt so bad for them at times. Yes, responsibilities are good and serve us well, but there can be such a thing as overload at a young age. There's no question that there were blessings in the hard time, and we grew from it all - but there's also no doubt that the kids suffered from stress and from having their parents so consumed. It hurt to watch but not be able to do much about it at the time. (Who do you say "no" to? Your recuperating husband? Your parents in surgery? Your unborn baby?) None of the above - you keep your head above water the best you can, pray that God will give the strength needed by the whole family, figure that you'll deal with things as you are able, and hold on by your fingernails.
I worked hard during and after Jeff's recovery to try to give each child/young person individualized attention, depending on what each one needed to heal and to feel secure again. (Jeff and I both have....it's just that this particular post is about the "crafty" side of life, and Jeff doesn't have any crafting skills. :) )
One of my children, Julia, loves cute little things. She's into quirky/adorable/tiny and or huggable things. She's twelve, and since that's kind of an insecure age anyway, I ended up making her several things that she could hug/hold/sleep with. The bonus, of course, was that she could sit with me and do some of the sewing, or the stuffing. I let her tell me how she wanted her little pink bear to look, what she wanted it to say. She chose to have her name embroidered in the heart on front, and there is another heart which says "loved" on the bear's back. That's because Julia is loved, and I wanted her to hear that, to be able to read it at any time. This bear was made out of some cotton scraps I had in my craft box, and she was made to replace Julia's original pink gingham bear that I made for her when she was really little. It had worn completely out, been re-stuffed, sewn back together, etc., and the fabric was threadbare. The original bear still lives in a special box in the attic, along with Pajamas the babydoll who lost her head but regained it when we used Monkey Glue to reattach it. :) Her choice, of course. My bear-making website is here, if you want to look around. I don't make too many right now, but I do enjoy helping people tangibly hold on to their memories.
I think we made this critter after Gabe was born. I was folding up a "too small" sweater of Julia's, getting ready to put it in the bag to go to the thrift store, when I suddenly saw "Owl." I pulled out my machine, and whipped up the basic shape. Less than five minutes, tops. Julia filled it with Clusterstuff (which you can scarcely find any more,) then I sewed it shut for her. She cut out the eyes, beak, and talons from felt, and while she sewed the eyes together I sewed on the rest.
Do you ever do that? I mean, do you ever look at things you are sorting thru and sending out and think of all the things you could make out of it? I do, ALL OF THE TIME. I have to close my eyes and stuff it all in a bag, or else my house would be filled with projects I never have time to finish. I ended up using a couple of other sweaters to let Sam (6) and Ben (5) make "Monster Pillows." They did all of the designing as well. Kids just like to do that, you know, either make their own things or tell someone else how they should look. I guess that's the exciting thing about the "Build A Bear" workshops - but making things from old sweaters is definitely cheaper. :)
Another thing I find myself doing often is mending tiny ribbons on Barbie clothes, or sewing an eye back on a sock monkey. My sewing pile always has jeans to hem and stuffed animals in it. :) I try to get the "parts" sewn back on for the little ones as quickly as I can - although in all honesty it usually takes me at least a week or two - but I figure that it matters to them, as much as my priorities and projects matter to me. Me - fixing up their special "friends," says in essence that they (the individual child) are important to Mommy. I want that for them, want them to know how special they are. It's easy, I think, to get "lost" in a large family, and this is one of my ways of trying to overcome that possibility.
And lastly, speaking of Sock Monkeys:
This is Rosebud. She came in a kit for Julia's Christmas. She also has very cute bunny slippers and a stuffed bunny to hold....but they are lost beneath Julia's bed and I did not feel like searching for them. :) Julia did the stuffing, mama did the sewing. We are nuts about sock monkeys around here!
We have employed many different coping methods as we have journeyed back to health this year, depending on "who needed what." Sewing plus "cuteness" was good therapy for at least two of us, although there were many, many other projects with the other kids as well.