I'm barely keeping my head above water at work these days. I'm drowning in an avalanche of end-of-semester papers and projects and portfolios. This happens every spring semester, and every spring semester I reach a point where I think it just can't be done. But then, sure as anything, somehow it all DOES get done, and the grades are turned in, and I can take a deep, deep breath. But I'm not there yet. Not in the least. Earlier this week, though, T.'s good friend from school, who happens to live right around the corner from us, came over for a play date. At first my heart lightened a little at this opportunity to get things done. I could do some grading, while the girls played, and L. had his daily computer time. But they wanted to do crafts, not play upstairs in T.'s bedroom. "Crafts?" I said. "Yes!" They shouted, jumping up and down. "Let's make dolls!" This is T.'s most favorite thing to do. Last year, she came up--on her own--with the idea that she could draw a design on paper, cut it out, trace around it on another piece of paper, then stuff cotton into the middle and glue the sides shut. Presto! a homemade "doll" complete with stuffing. This was an elaboration on the more traditional one-dimensional paper dolls we sometimes make. She made a sweet owl like this for our neighbor's birthday last year, and since then we have a little collection of lopsided smiling dolls, a stuffed cat with large skippyjon-jonesian eyes and ears, and one monkey. She's told her friend S. about this doll-making technique, so they were both eager to try. I dug out the glitter tubes (remember, don't be afraid of letting your kids use glitter), and the glue sticks, and lots of white paper and two pairs of scissors. You can use scraps of cloth for the clothes and hair, and if you use a thicker paper, you can even embellish the dolls with button eyes. Or you can keep it simple, and stick to glittery skirts and hair bows. Cotton balls work best for the stuffing, but we didn't have any, so T. and her friend shredded up bits of tissue. I used a hot glue gun to seal the edges of the dolls so the stuffing would stay in, but I imagine you could use regular glue, too. Just make sure the kids don't put too much on, or it will stick to the stuffing and those small busy fingers, too. I miss doing crafts with T., the way we used to do in those preschool days--I miss getting my hands sticky, and watching T. busily cutting and shaping, chattering all the while. I miss seeing her pride glow on her cheeks when something imagined springs forth into reality. There's never enough time anymore during the week for crafts. When did life get so busy? I wonder every day now, and I think about how those long afternoons of cutting and pasting and coloring and play-doh and imaginary tea parties could so easily be over in the blink of an eye; the time it might take for me to look away, and back again. Work can always, always wait; it felt much better to be making dolls. If you're having trouble viewing the photos, you can find them here, at Flickr.