05/08/2012 06:29 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2012

My Beloved Homemade Dollhouse: A Tribute to My Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, here is a heartfelt tribute to my mother.

My mom is one of the most creative people I know. She can take an ordinary box, jar lid or toilet paper roll and turn it into something magical. With a little paint, scissors and pipe cleaners, an egg carton was turned into a bouquet of flowers for my kindergarten teacher. An empty paper towel roll became a rain stick, filled with rice and decorated with glitter. She turned the ordinary into extraordinary.

When I was 4-years-old, mom made me the most amazing doll house. It was a three-story mansion made completely out of diaper boxes and a small kleenex box rigged as an indoor elevator. We decorated the boxes; and accessorized the contents with Little People furniture and dolls. There may have even been "wall paper" inside (likely with real wall paper samples and paint chips). It was amazing -- like my own Barbie dreamhouse (before Barbie owned property). Friends would come over and stare at the house in awe. It was special and unique.

On a summer day in August 1979, my parents, baby sister, and I packed our belongings into boxes and suitcases and prepared to move from Hayward to San Diego, Ca. We loaded the Mayflower moving fan with furniture, clothes, home decor, art, bikes and toys. Sadly, what was not in the moving van was my beloved dollhouse. I was crying hysterically. Not because of the prospect of moving. But because I was devastated to leave behind my dreamhouse.

It could not go on the airplane or the moving van because it was fragile and would likely be destroyed. The day the moving van pulled out of our driveway, Christi, the little girl from down the street, came by to pick up the one remaining item in the house -- her new dollhouse (and my treasured toy). I was happy it was going to a friend, but so sad to see it go.

"We'll make another one in San Diego," mom assured me. I was sure we would. But it didn't lessen the sadness I felt as I said goodbye to the treasured house made out of cardboard. And of course, mom used her magic and creativity to construct many more amazing things with household toss-aways -- like a new kid-sized house made out of -- you guessed it -- moving boxes.