homemade toys

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I need help with ideas for homemade toys. With the birth of my grandson, who has multiple birth defects, my daughter has very little money for Christmas and very little time. She has a little girl who is 18 months old and of course the baby who is two months old. We need ideas for homemade toys. My son-in-law is working terrible hours to help for this child's needs and will be unable to help. My daughter has some sewing skills. I've looked on the net without alot of luck. Any ideas?

-- Cheryl Cox (bramblecottage@hotmail.com), October 16, 2000


Cheryl have you looked into help from the state for insurance ?Local churches ? Salvation army ? Ect . They don't need to be worrying about medical bills on top of the baby .Our state has insurance for children which is better than my husbands at work .You pay according to your income .I know christmas is on your mind but please look into other things if you haven't already .I get allot of like new things at tag sales , thrift shops and yes goodwill .I will keep you all in my prayers .

-- Patty Gamble (fodfarms@slic.com), October 16, 2000.

This isn't quite age appropriate but, it's fun. Make a bean bag game. Get a large box and decorate one side or all sides. Cut different sized holes in the different sides. Maybe one hole on one side and several on another side, etc. You can put point values for older kids. Make up bean bags, making sure they're sewed tightly so the beans can't come out. My kids and brownie troop loved playing with this. So did I:-].

-- Cindy (atilrthehony_1@yahoo.com), October 16, 2000.

For a little girl who is one and a half, how about a rag doll? You don't even need a pattern to make a lovely one if you have some sewing skills. And if you make removeable outfits, fasten them with velcro -- and make them a little loose for little fingers. Children don't need lots of stuff for Christmas. One or two things is really enough, and these babies are small enough that you can just make it a tradition, and they won't ever be overwhelmed by the flood of *things* that so many children are burdened with. The baby is too little to really care if he gets anything for Christmas or not, but maybe an outfit? Or a small, simple stuffed toy? Just so big sister knows things are fair.

Cheryl, if you and your daughter don't mind, would you care to share a little more about your grandson? Just so we can pray more specifically for him, and for your family? My oldest daughter has two little girls just about the same ages, thankfully both are healthy, but I know how we would feel in your place. And we do have a handicapped daughter, also. I wish we were closer, and could do more to help, but at least we can pray.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (stonycft@worldpath.net), October 16, 2000.

cheryl, what about friends who have older kids and are looking to clean out the closet? we got lots of stuff that way. where do you live? please e mail me i would love to send a gift from santa.

-- renee oneill (oneillsr@home.com), October 16, 2000.

A good set of wooden blocks is a great toy. Also, if you have a jigsaw, you can make simple 1/4inch plywood cut-out puzzles. A friend who worked at childcare centers swore the best toy for toddlers, the one that the kids would fight over and play with for hours, was a set of stacking cups, which are not expensive even new. Also, a box full of old clothes and costumes for make-believe and dress-up. You can get kids' books aplenty at Goodwill etc. Grandma reading stories is one of the best things in a child's life, and there is NOTHING more important you can do for any child's intelligence & life than instill a love of reading and books.

-- snoozy (allen@oz.net), October 16, 2000.

I agree wholeheartedly with Kathleen, kids really don't need that much for Christmas, it seems the more they get the more they want or expect. We've done it both ways with 6 children over the years and from my experience we've scaled down considerably over the past 6-7 yrs. My little girl and Grandaughters most favorite gift was a rag doll made from muslin, had someone artistic paint the face on, yarn hair and the dresses were made from scraps. They've both had store bought dolls that, wet, talk, interactive, burp, pee, you name it but for my little girl her "Tabitha" is her favorite since I made it 2-3 yrs ago, and she is six now, still sleeps with her! The suggestions of the basics, blocks, crayons, spools, etc. they have all been a staple in our home, when we start cleaning the modern, yakity, yak stuff goes, but the basic, books, blocks etc. stay, they're playing with blocks and lincoln logs that are 20 yrs old We also have a severly handicapped grandson and he can always use mucical cassettes, blankets, those big donut pillows which prop him up, noise and color toys, contrast colors, stimuli toys, etc. Well be praying for your family! Hope this helps.

-- Carol (cwaldrop@peoplescom.net), October 16, 2000.

Cheryl: Darn! I was just past your place last week, visiting my folks. I have some nice toys left from my 4 year old grandson, and 9 year old granddaughter, and have just been wondering what to do with them. Some are suitable for infants, as well as some cute outfits, one is a santa jumpsuit. If you are interested, I would be glad to send them to you. Just email me and give me a mailing address. It would be great to give them to someone who can use them. In any case, I'll keep you and the family in my prayers. Jan in Colorado

-- Jan in Colorado (Janice12@aol.com), October 16, 2000.

Cheryl, muslin rag dolls are appropriate for even babies. A bright embroidered face holds a lot of interest. Be sure everything is stitched down well. I found yarn braids held up better than yarn loop hair.

Each of my children got a small mom-made rag doll for their first Christmas, they are precious treasures.

-- Laura (gsend@hotmail.com), October 16, 2000.

Cheryl, now you got me crying. Will you please post both of the kids sizes for clothes here? And e-mail me with a mailing address for you. Do they live close to you? Does she mind good clean used clothes? I know I even have some here, people know to give me all the clothes they don't want, even babies, and I hang on to them till needed. And my grandson is 3 now, and his other grandma buys lots of things for him, which are outgrown. What does the little girl like? Dolls? Does your daughter and son-in-law need warm clothes? Sorry I am so nosey, I just know people would like to help. Praying for you all and especially the baby.

-- Cindy in Ky (solidrockranch@msn.com), October 17, 2000.

Hi Cheryl, I have a severely handicapped daughter who is 20 now, and always had trouble finding appropriate gifts to buy for her. She was born on Christmas day, so I had 2 different celebrations to buy for!!! Carol gave an excellent answer on buying music. My daughter responded more to music than anything. Here's a thought. Buy some cheap cassettes and you or your daughter could tape yourselves singing some childrens songs. Sounds crazy, but kids don't care how well you sing (I can't!), but my daughter loved for me to sing to her. As for other gifts, it depends on what your grandsons handicaps are. Something with bright colors are great. They will get his attention.

I don't want to be too nosy, but is your son-in-law having to work extra because of medical bills? There are alot of good organizations out there to help. The Shriners have hospitals all over the country that charge absolutely nothing. They will even pick up the parent and child and drive them to the hospital. They also have a Christmas party where they buy the children gifts. It's also a nice place to meet other mothers. Crippled childrens fund, cerebal palsy foundation etc... Crippled Childrens Fund even redid one friends bathroom to make it more accessable for her son. My daughter has great insurance, but there are some things that you will find that insurance doesn't pay for.

Please, please feel free to e-mail me. There are early intervention programs now a days that you might want to check into for your grandson. They didn't have them when my daughter was young, so I don't know what age they start at. But the reasoning is, if they can get the children started in a program while they're still real young, the better chance for the child. I'll be happy to help you all, all I can. Tell your daughter to hang in there, she's not alone!

-- Annie (mistletoe@earthlink.net), October 17, 2000.

I am overwhelmed by the respone. So many people have been so wonderful to us at this difficult time. The ideas are all great.

Here are the circumstances. My grandson was born two months ago weighing 6 lbs 12 oz. He appeared to be healthy. The next day his pediatrician noticed a very slight heart murmur and ordered tests. Neither his heart nor his kidneys are fully developed. He has had 4 operations and spent 5 weeks in Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City before he came home the first time. After a week at home he suffered kidney failure (eventually he will need a kidney transplant) and returned to Primary Children's for another week. He is back home again and is gaining weight. Almost 8 lbs. now!

There are a lot of hidden expenses. He sees at least one and sometimes two doctors a week which require co-pays, and the specialists are in SLC not in Ogden where they live. He is averaging two lab works a week with accompanying hospital visits, the nurse comes three times a week. IV meds, oral meds and the most expensive formula on the market also add up. As does medical supplies most of which the insurance refuses to cover. He is, as you can tell, a labor intensive baby! Not only his normal needs but the medical needs plus the house must remain VERY CLEAN. He is immnusupressed and requires an enviroment that is as germ free as possible. Neither he nor his sister(because of her age) are allowed to mingle with people. He can go to his Grandmother's houses providing no one is ill there. I am my daughter's backup and if my teenage boys are ill, I cannot help her for fear of transporting germs. The doctors and the home health care nurse have been very blunt about this.

Currently, my daughter is putting together all the documentation needed to find ways of helping to pay the medical bills that are not covered by the insurance. She has asked the insurance company to make an exception to some of their policies and to pay for supplies that they normally do not pay for. All of these organizations require a great deal of paperwork from many sources and Jenney does not have alot of time to put it all together.

My son-in-law was unable to work for 5 weeks and that has hurt. His work took up a collection which helped and they are now trying to move him to a better shift which will require him working less and better hours. All this takes time but it will help.

The children will be given toys by family memeber however, my daughter and son-in-law really want to give their children some toys that come from them. Toys that help in their development and bring comfort. Early Intervention came to their home and evaluated Trevor the first week he was home and developmentally he is ahead of his chronological age. All of his problems are physical. They will continue to monitor him and told us to provide him with an atmosphere conducive to learning. He will be unable to attend school and so both children will be homeschooled. A blessing I feel. They were already building a home library (my granddaughter is a book fiend) and have now begun a music library. As a music teacher I've done alot of research on the power of music and I began taping music for him that the nurses played in the hospital.

He has added so much to our family and the two families have really pulld together for this. His presence is a great and wonderful blessing. The day four doctors sat his parents and told them that he only had a 50% chance of surviving the surgeries and then asked them if they wanted to continue or just enjoy his last few days, was a low spot for us all. He is a fighter though and continues to surprise the doctors. The doctors have fought over who would provide his care after he left the hospital, and the hospital, part of a medical school, taped his surgery because of how unusual his condition is. The hardest part for all of us is that it appears that his condition was caused by prescription drugs. We are continuing to investigate this. It is very hard to take. Especially since I never take drugs except when herbs will not take care of the problem and I worried about the drugs my daughter's doctor prescribed. One can never be too careful in dealing with such things. Thank You.

-- Cheryl Cox (bramblecottage@hotmail.com), October 17, 2000.

Cheryl, I will be praying for your family...All children are a blessing, but it must be so hard when they are born ill. I know the expenses must be overwelming fo your daughters family....if there is something I could do, email me. You are in my prayers! Carrie in Wis

-- Carrie Wehler (carriew@ticon.net), October 17, 2000.

since the family likes books, i would recommend buying inexpensive blank cassette tapes and making your own book/tape sets with their favotite books. this is also a time-saver for mom b/c they can have mom "read" them a story by popping it in the tape player...get creative with the little bell sound to indicate time to turn the page. hope this helps. another idea is to make a "memory" game using the lids of frozen juice concentrate. put identical stickers on two of them...make a whole set of these, then turn them over and take turns picking up two, trying to get a matched set. make an inexpensive drawstring bag from fabric to keep these in.

-- kristen (kbhansen@msn.com), October 20, 2000.

Cheryl, thanks for posting this. I will be praying for you and your family, too. I am grateful that you put this thread out! I need to take a birthday gift to a special one-year-old and got some great ideas...I may make a rag doll for her. thank you! I really hope things get better for you soon!

-- sheepish (rborgo@gte.net), October 20, 2000.

Dear Cheryl,

I feel very heavy hearted for your family. My little girl (2 next Sunday!) was born with stomach problems. I can only imagine what your family is going through. I own Wee Ones Quilt Factory. I make baby and toddler bedding. (www.weeonesquiltfactory.com) Please contact me!


-- Jacinta Sousa (jknsm@hotmail.com), December 11, 2000.

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