It Started with a Sock Monkey
About six years ago, Brian gave me a book called Things to Make for Children. He found it at a Chicagoland garage sale and bought it for me because it had a pattern for making sock monkeys. Around that time, I had found some monkey socks at a craft store and had been talking about wanting to make a sock monkey.
The book — about 100 pages, 8.5 by 11" — was filled with sewing patterns and woodworking projects that parents could make for their kids. It was the most exciting book I had ever seen. It had puppets and dollhouses. It showed you how to build portable clubhouses and cardboard igloos. It had how-tos for tree houses and indoor playroom paraphernalia. The most impressive project was the "Giant Rocking Giraffe." It was essentially a rocking horse. But this had room for three kids, who would sit on its back and put their feet in stirrups. It must have been seven or eight feet tall and incredibly dangerous to ride without a helmet by today's standards.
This book started my collection of things-to-make-and-do-with-children books. But sometime between graduating college and moving to New York, I lost this amazing book. I couldn't find it. I couldn't figure out what happened to it, and since it was published in 1973 (and since I couldn't remember the exact title), I knew that I couldn't go pick up another copy at the Barnes & Noble. I was resigned to having lost the coolest book I would ever own. I tried to replace it with other books of its kind.
I have Something To Do: 300 games, hobbies and pastimes for all the year round (purchased by Brian in Hay-on-Wye, Wales in December 2003). I have Disguises You Can Make and Indian Crafts for Boys & Girls. I have two books from a series called The Family Creative Workshop, a book on how to make cool kites and one on how to make models out of cut and folded paper. And a great book called Muppets Make Puppets. While all of these books are amazing in their own ways, I would kick myself from time to time for having lost the first of my collection — the crown jewel.
Just recently, Brian and I went to Vermont for a weekend of skiing and relaxation. We stayed at my parents' condo, and they came up to ski with us and hang out for one day of the trip. In the evening, my mother came up to me with a book in her hand and asked me if I knew anyone who might want this children's craft book. I looked over and in her hand was my lost copy of Things to Make for Children. I was so excited; I spent the rest of the evening looking through it and showing Brian things like "The Shoe Playground":
Now that I have my book back and I know how to make "A Barrel for Cavorting," maybe it's time to have some babies. Of course none of my books are about playing with babies or toddlers. This book collection doesn't allow me to be a good mother until my kids are four or five. Oh well, how important can those first years be?