Tell us about your background. What path led you to the work you do today?
The beginning of Jacob's Toy Box is a result of a huge heartache. Last summer, I began this business after the birth of my stillborn son, Jacob, at 32 weeks gestation. This cross had been preceded by a miscarriage and before that another stillborn at 27 weeks. All this occurred within a 2 year period. God has blessed me, though, with six living children and a wonderful husband of almost twenty years. My children range in age from 17 to 6.
With each of my children, I have made a special blanket while expecting. The same was true with Jacob. I finished his blanket earlier in the pregnancy and needed something else to keep my hands busy, so I made him a stuffed animal. After his death, I was grieving something terrible. It was so hard for me to fathom why God would give me this cross again. My faith is what carried me through this time along with my wonderful husband and church community. I know that I may never understand why God has given me this cross to carry, but He has a reason, and I must trust Him.
I am the type of person who must keep her hands busy. I didn't know what to do—I had planned to have my hands busy taking care of a newborn. (Everything had looked fine with Jacob's pregnancy. When he was born, he looked absolutely perfect. The doctor is unsure of the cause of his death. With my previous stillborn, she had Trisomy 18.)
Anyway, my children were the first to suggest that I start making stuffed animals like the one I had for Jacob and begin to sell them. I began,and then decided to try my hand at rag dolls. This lead me into making Roman Catholic religious rag dolls. Back in high school, I had a teacher who encouraged me to be a writer. (Thank you Mrs. Howard wherever you are—you were my sophmore English teacher at Marin Catholic High School, Kentfield, California. ) Since then, I had thought about it, but never pursued it. With the dolls, I thought it would be fun to write stories for them. So, it seems that one idea leads to another, which leads to still more ideas for my business. Within the next couple of weeks, I will be publishing three more stories—one about Rachel, one about Sally, and one about Maggie.
The love I would have showered on my children in heaven goes into the dolls I make.
Recently I started a blog on my website: Snuggle time is storytime.
On this blog, I share different picture books to share with your children. Most of the books I review are available at the library.
How do combine your work and your family life?
The sewing and writing part of this business is easy for me to juggle with my family. We homeschool and my oldest is a senior and my youngest is in kindergarten. In the afternoons when the children are busy finishing up school or doing other projects , I do the sewing. Then, in the evenings during family time I do the hand sewing of the hair on the dolls or the hand sewing necessary for the stuffed animals. My husband usually reads out loud to the children chapter books after the family rosary. This is when I will sit down to do the hand sewing. Or, if we watch a movie together, I usually will be hand sewing then also.
The hard part for me to juggle is the computer stuff-- keeping track of taxesf, updating my website, etc. Mostly this is difficult because this is the least fun part for me. A new year's resolution that I am doing pretty well keeping up with is to just do it daily and not put it all in a drawer and figure it out every month or two.
What's the product you are most excited about in your shop right now?
I would say I am most excited about the religious dolls. There really aren't too many Catholic dolls available for children to play with. There are some beautiful ones that are quite expensive available on several websites, but I love the fact that my dolls are soft, cuddly, and not so expensive that you don't want to give them to a three year old. What better way to foster religious vocations in children then having a doll like this to play with? My personal favorite of the three religious dolls is Brother Hubert. My two youngest boys have Father Martin and Brother Hubert. They are often played with. One thing they enjoy doing is draping a sheet over a card table, and making a “church”. Their stuffed animals are the parishioners. Father Martin says Mass.
How to win:
*Like my facebook page
*comment on one of my blog posts with the answer to the following question: What is your favorite storybook?
Then, come back here and leave a comment in order to be eligible to win. Winner will be announced next Saturday (March 30) at the bottom of this post.
The winner is
Beautiful dolls. Thank you for sharing :) I commented on your blog and liked your facebook page.