Feature written by Elisabeth of aronawalsh.etsy.com

Please welcome our featured artist Maria Stout of cuddlebug kids! Maria has been kind enough to offer a giveaway! To win this PDF DIY Visual Schedule for Home or PDF Toddler bandana Head scarf pattern – you pick-go to her shop, find your favorite item and come back and tell us what it is in the comments section!

I’m a 37 year old wife and Mom to two dear kids ages 2 and 8. My life has been an interesting mixture of experiences from living abroad to working for a rapid prototype company to helping start a Christian counseling and medical clinic in our area.  In 2003, after a very long battle with infertility, ovarian cysts, fibroids, and severe endometriosis we were thrilled to adopt our first child from South Africa.  A few years later my husband and I finished our second adoption – this time a little girl from China. 

-How did you get your start on Etsy?
When we started noticing our son was very sensitive to noises and light we sought out medical help and began to study the medical labels of sensory integration disorder as well as Asperger’s Syndrome/high-functioning autism.  We started working with a fantastic occupational therapist who helped our son learn to handle significantly more sensory stimulation and taught us how we could help provide the structure and sensory environment our son needed to thrive at home and school.  As I met and talked with the OT, I started designing products that would help my son.  I quickly started making things with my son’s input and suggestions.  He is great at informing my sensory designs and likes that he is a consultant in my business!  His OT encouraged me to start selling some sensory products to make them available to other Moms.  I sold only through her clinic for about a year then opened my Etsy shop to make my goods available to others.  I was motivated to start an Etsy shop by all the other wonderful crafters and artists I saw on Etsy.  The ease with which a person can open a shop was also a real plus to me.  At the time I knew almost nothing about how to sell online. 

-How did you choose your shop name? At the time I started designing things for my son, he loved things that squeezed him like a deep hug.  Occupational Therapists call it proprioceptive input.  I call it cuddling.  So in honor of the kids who need that strong hug feeling I decided to call my shop Cuddle Bug Kids.  (SID kids are different, some really don’t like strong hugs but I’m thankful mine do!)

-What does a typical day look like for you?
Is there such a thing as a typical day?  Mornings are filled with caring for my 2 year old and home stuff.  I work like crazy on e-mails, dinner prep and my Etsy business during my daughter’s nap time.  Late afternoons are spent refereeing my 8 year old and several neighborhood kids playing at our house as well as helpng with homework.  I also work 3
 evenings a week as a vision therapist for a local developmental optometry office.  Add to all that an upcoming move this summer for my husband to start law school.  So my business fits in the nooks and crannies these days!  I would really like to see the craft community grow in using our collective creativity to help design products for sensory kids.  I believe my part is to work on designing more sensory crochet and sewing patterns to sell on Etsy to help crafters with design ideas for sensory items.
-If you could be anywhere in the world for one day, where would it be?
I’d love to go back to Jurmala, Latvia and have a giant reunion with all my friends and the families who impacted my life for the 1.5 years I lived there after college.  My life was dramatically changed by seeing their faith in action in the early years of a post-communist Latvia.
-What is your favorite Bible verse?
Over the years and through the many difficult circumstances I’ve delt with, I have held onto a verse preached at our wedding.  Isaiah 43:1b-2 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, Iwill be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”  I cannot describe the peace that has come when holding onto those words and the knowledge that God is with me through all times – even when I feel I am about to get swept away by the floods of life or burned to death through the firy trials which have come my way.

-What is your favorite Etsy item listing to feature?
My DIY PDF Visual Schedule for Home.  I see so many parents desparing on how to live life with kids who need a huge amount of structure to their days.  We have seen such a difference in our family since using visual schedules to help define the day.

-URLs to where else we can find you on the internet (Facebook fan page, Twitter, your own dot.com, your blog, etc)
I’m on Facebook at Cuddle Bug Kids
cuddlebugkids.com is my blog about being a crafty special-needs Mommy
I’m also @CuddleBugKids on Twitter but I haven’t really figured out how to use it yet!
Hope I can help serve you in the future!

Thank you so much for agreeing to be featured Maria! Everyone go check out her shop and her beautiful items!
And the winner from last weeks featured artist post is Kelly of Sewendless! Congrats!

Comments (11)

On August 18, 2011 at 12:01 PM , sweetybird09 said...

Oh I just loved this interview, wow what a special lady and it sounds like you have some very fortunate kids.
I always wanted to adopt a Chinese baby girl... ..God bless you for all the sensory things you do to help your son and others, my favorite thing from your shop is:
The mechanical pencils with the crochet grips

Take care


On August 18, 2011 at 12:04 PM , Faith Caroline said...

So neat!
p.s. I'm 1/4th Latvian, and was there for about a day between Lithuania and Russia for a European study abroad. Awesome!

On August 18, 2011 at 12:15 PM , Carrie said...

Praying for many more blessings in your life! I love seeing 'crafters/artisits' fill needs such as those of your son! You go girl! You are making the world a better place!!

On August 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM , Terri Croswhite said...

Wonderful encouraging interview and I love that scripture! Blessings!, Terri

On August 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM , Tricia said...

Awesome shop and awesome post!

On August 18, 2011 at 5:15 PM , ZudaGay said...

I very much enjoyed meeting Maria and visiting her shop! I think my favorite item (fantastic idea!) is the popsicle cozy!!

On August 18, 2011 at 8:56 PM , Sue Runyon said...

Maria, I loved learning more about you and your shop. What a special lady you are! I wish you all the best in your many enterprises.

On August 19, 2011 at 6:51 PM , MYSAVIOR said...

Hi Maria~ I enjoyed reading about you, your little girl is precious. I love this from your shop.



On August 19, 2011 at 10:57 PM , Anonymous said...

Love the Pig and Piggy ice cream tub cozy, too! Great, original items in your shop. Go Createability Team!

On August 19, 2011 at 11:14 PM , Maria S said...

Wow...thanks so much you guys! You are so encouraging!

On August 20, 2011 at 1:35 PM , krafterskorner said...

Wow, you are a busy mom! Your daughter is adorable!