Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bean Dolls

For the past week or so I have been working on getting ready for today. Since about February we have been a part of a homeschool book club for girls centered around the American Girl books and their time periods. We meet every other week at a library and do crafts and activities together about the girls and the time period. We have enjoyed it so much. Every month a couple of moms have worked together to prepare activities for our gathering. It was amazing to see the creativity of the different mom but I hadn't been one of the moms yet. I had wanted to do Kirsten because I love learning about immigrants and I'm Scandinavian too but moms volunteered before I had a chance to. This month we were studying Addy and the Civil War time and there were no volunteers. I knew nothing about Addy and I knew that we were going to be busy moving and packing but I didn't want it to go without a leader and since I hadn't done a month yet I volunteered. The mom that got the group started offered to help me out and do it with me. At the first meeting I read a book to the girls about Harriet Tubman and she had the girls make puppets and put on puppet shows. It was a lot of fun.

To start off today's class I read a choose your own adventure book (I always loved those books as a kid) called The Underground Raiload: An Interactive History Adventure to the girls. I let them vote on whether to be a escaping slave, a slave catcher, or an abolitionist. The girls voted to be the escaping slave and enjoyed the story but in the end she died on her way to freedom. I hadn't read that ending so was a little unprepared to be up there reading it to the girls and confronted with, "oh no, she dies, what do we do now??" running through my head. We talked about it a little bit and I think that everyone ended up understanding that not everyone who tried to escape made it to freedom but I, personally, was not prepared for that ending so it left me a little shook up.

I had checked out The American Girls Party Bookout from the library (great book by the way full of terrific ideas!!) it had the pattern to make a bean doll like the one Addy had gotten for Christmas from her mom made out of scrap material and filled with beans. I got excited about the idea but didn't want 4 full sized bean dolls added to the collection of dolls around our house so I decided to try a half sized one one day with the girls to see if it was even possible for a group of 13 4-8 year old girls to do it. My girls had fun with it and it seemed doable so I decided to sew the dolls and take in some beans to fill them with and some old clothes that weren't nice enough to donate for the girls to make clothes for their dolls out of. I also made some bean bags out of the legs of jeans and camo pants of Caleb's that were too short and the knees were blown out of for the boys to make. It was a lot of work today too but the girls had a lot of fun and the moms were a terrific help!! I really couldn't have done it without all of the help from the other moms! It was fun watching the girls play with their dolls afterwards. I am so glad we took the effort.

There is another reason why I am glad though. It was a lot of work to get ready for the bean doll project but I always need something to do to distract me from packing when I move, a procrastination tactic, and this was it. Usually it is a book but this time it was sewing. Sewing gave me a chance to be out on the porch watching the kids play but still feeling like I was getting something accomplished. The neighborhood girls were fascinated with me sewing and would sit and watch me. I was able to start to build relationships with them that I wouldn't have taken time to do, especially not in the last month of living in a place, if I didn't have this project to make me sit still. I am thankful for the bean dolls in that. I now have 4 other little girls who have become a part of our family. Today when my kids were outside playing and I was making dinner one by one 5 little girls wandered into my kitchen to watch me cut potatoes and help (with my Ultimate Mandolin). One of their moms came in too to meet me and introduce herself (our apartment is in upheaval - totally not in any condition for normal visitors but the girls didn't care - it isn't a clean house that attracts them but I really think it is a caring heart). The girls all want to make bean dolls and bean bags now too. I told them that if there were extra dolls I would let them make some when we got home but we used all the dolls up so I'll have to make a few more for the girls to make another day. Those bean dolls were a lot of work but the reward, not only in seeing the book club girls make them but also in getting to know these other girls made it all worth while.

I am sad that we are moving. We are only moving 5 or 6 blocks away but we live only a block from where we lived last summer and we don't see the people that live on that block hardly at all. I have loved living here but God has plans in having us move as well. It is so hard to leave people and so hard to have people leave us. So often I am tempted to block off my heart and put walls up and not let anyone in but that steals the blessing from me and others. I was challenged a couple of weeks ago to "enjoy people while they are here" by a woman who has worked in campus ministry for a couple of decades. She has seen lots of people come and go and I think that it is very good advice. You don't know how long you have with anyone so make the most of the time that you do have.

Thanks God for the bean doll project and how You used it in my life to teach me things that I needed to learn.

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