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2009/03/12 / AoM

Valley of the Dolls


It was another one of those days where I was supposed to be getting things done.  Got the kitchen floor scrubbed, did a load of laundry, even managed to get a good hot lunch on the table for the kids.  Mama’s on a roll!  But then it all came to a screeching halt.

“Mama? I want to do a Project.”

Damn.  There goes my carefully crafted to-do list.

See, I don’t allow the kids to watch TV.  Getting to watch a DVD or play a computer game is a rare treat, earned either by good behavior or my absolute desperation to accomplish something important in a) the time allotted and b) relative peace.

There are twelve hours in our day here, give or take.  That means twelve hours of entertainment and diversion.  This is why they say parenthood is hard work. 

Hence the Wheelie Craft Bucket Thing.



Since I never have a spare dime, it’s taken me a long time to build up supplies.   A drawerful of different scraps of paper.  Glue sticks.  Googly eyes.  Wikki Stix.  Stamps and [washable] ink.  Tape.  Popsicle sticks.  I don’t even know what else.

The goal is to get the kids to be fairly self-sufficient at amusing themselves.  I have a house to keep, food to cook, and some day I might actually want to do something for MYSELF for a whole hour straight. 

However, the kids are still at that age where they need a push in the right direction.  I go into it intending to guide them a bit, then leave them to their own devices while I scurry off to catch up on other things.  Inevitably it ends up with me putting my need-to-dos and want-to-dos to the bottom of the list while together we cut, paste, color, and otherwise craft ourselves into a frenzy. 

“I want to do a Project.”


I have nothing in particular planned for today, so I just stood there a minute with my mouth hanging open.  Uhhhh.


“I’m thinking.  Hang on.”   [“I’m not Martha Stewart for the love of Christ, I can’t just pull things out of my hat on a moment’s notice! Give me like a week!“]

“I want to use this string.  What kind of project can I do with this string?”



“Shh. I’m thinking.”

Then, for reasons I will never understand, Inspiration struck. 

“I know! You can make paper dolls and use the string for hair!”

“Yeah!! Okay!”

With a sigh at the thought of the chicken not roasting, the bathroom not being cleaned, my pile of papers not being attended, my laundry not being folded, I sat down and started cutting out pieces of paper.  I could hardly say no.  After all, it was my frigging idea.  And the look of excitement on The Girl’s face told me I was not going to be able to offer a Plan B.

About an hour later, my girl & I emerged from our Haze and found we had a whole village of crazy-ass paper people lined up.  And, for that hour, I don’t remember thinking of that to-do list.  I don’t remember thinking much of anything except “Hey!  This is fun!”

So the dinner will get to the table a little late.  So the clothes are wrinkling in the dryer as I play.  Nobody can get an hour back after it’s gone.  But depending on how I spend it, I don’t have to mourn its passing.

After all, as I remind myself constantly, “This is what you signed up for.”  I wanted to have children who ran and played, read and created with me.   To that end, I have set up our daily existence to support that.  So, every day I am Mama, some days I am also Martha-friggin-Stewart.  

Years from now, I’m pretty sure I will be able to look back at this time as one of the best of my life.  And chances are good I will remember this pleasant afternoon spent in the company of my very own living Doll.   I’ll probably still have a few of the wangy-haired, lopsided paper dolls we created, together, with our own four hands.  And I will still have a picture in my heart of the face I made happy by ditching my to-do list.




If you’re curious about the Wheelie Craft Bucket Thing, here are some good resources:

Great article from Wondertime Magazine about stocking kids’ art kits [“Art House“]

Dick Blick Art Supplies

Discount School Supplies



Leave a Comment
  1. Christine / Mar 12 2009 20:45

    Bravo! Excellent prioritizing, IMO. : )

  2. Jessica / Mar 13 2009 16:08

    Lisa! You are a gifted writer — keep on documenting these stories and you’ll be able to read back and feel every emotion you felt on this day.

    You’re a great mama!!!

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