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this year i gave my husband an ikea armchair for christmas. he was about to flatten the huge box to put out with the recyclables, but i stopped him. after all, you don’t get a box this big every day and i absolutely needed to use it for something or other. later, playing around, we put my daughter inside, and i thought that we should make a little house out of it.
i put the box on its side and opened the top flaps. there was an extra piece of cardboard the size of the base of the box, so i used transparent packaging tape to attach this piece to three of the top flaps. the fourth flap became the door. my daughter and her cousin helped me plan out where to put the windows and what shape to make them. i cut them out with a box cutter.
it was too hard to open and close the door from inside, so i traced around an empty toilet paper roll, cut out the hole, stuck in the tube and put tons of glue on it.
sofia’s cousin thought that such a complex house needed a nice chimney. so i took four of the pieces cut out from the windows and taped them together. i placed it on the roof and traced around the inside of the square. i cut it out and taped the chimney on the inside.
and i have to give it to alessandro… that chimney looks great and lets in a pretty cool light!
the kids then went at decorating and personalizing the house. there’s the sign with their names. the doorbell. the signs prohibiting the cat from going in (she just couldn’t resist scratching up the house’s floor). the pictures hung on the wall. all sorts of pictures and stamps directly on the walls.
i really loved this project, and i still do. not just because the kids had something new to play with and they, and all the other kids who come by our place, play with it for hours on end, filling it with dolls, toys, furniture, food, etc. hiding inside. organizing birthday parties for stuffed animals inside. not just because they actively participated in building it, using their own creativity and problem solving skills. not just because they learned how satisfying it is to make something out of “nothing.” not just because we had so much fun making it without spending a cent.
one of the reasons i loved this project so much is because i learned something very important, too. you see, i grew up without much money and i’ve always envied people who could afford all those things that i never could have. now we’re not rich or anything, but we have enough money to get by without any real issues. but it’s hard to change old habits, and too often i get stung by the envy of what other people around me have. one of the things that i’ve recently envied is a play house made completely of wood, painted and furnished that a friend of mine had made for her girls. so, making this house, i had envisioned taking control, leaving the kids out of it, so i could paint it and make it “perfect” and therefore feel the satisfaction of (subconsiously) competing with this friend of mine.
when my nephew started gluing his pictures on the walls of the house, i stopped for a second. then i said, “oh…ok, we can always take those off another day so we can paint it and make it really beautiful.” he stopped, looked me in the eye and said with a little voice, “but, it’s already beautiful the way it is…” and suddenly i realized that this 7-year-old was absolutely right. this house was the most beautiful thing ever created because we made it ourselves, all together, with our own creativity and lots of love, and we had tons of fun. and what could be more beautiful than that?!