Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Making Quiet Books for Church

** I had to add these links after finding them on UCreate's Top Ten Tutorials. (My friends Kathryn and Melissa and their cute blog Nannygoat are featured in the list!)

Here are some links for making Quiet Books:

Homemade By Jill Quiet Book (Oh so cute and free templates)
How To Make A Quiet Book Her instructions are very detailed with supplies needed and good pics of finished pages.
Modest Maven's Sew A Quiet Book Post She was able to keep her costs under $10! She has great instructions as well
Nap Time Journal's Quiet Book Ideas She used a coloring book for inspiration and drew the pages onto muslin. I like how her pages aren't attached to the cover. That way each child can work on a page, instead of making individual books for each child.
Crafty Chic's A Girl's Quiet Book The puzzle page in her book is one of my favorites. She doesn't give detailed instructions, but has some cute ideas.
Linda Stocking's Quiet Books These are the patterns I used to make my books. The advantage here is that she preprints her pages on Pellon. The disadvantage is the cost of the kits, $35 plus materials. I love how mine turned out. They were perfect for someone with no sewing skills and no ideas of my own. She's having a January sale so check it out!

I Still Have All 10 Fingers

I know y'all like to spend December doing fun things with your families, creating great traditions and celebrating the spirit of the season, but personally, I enjoy spending the month of December cursing, inflicting wounds on my hands and experiencing a general feeling of incompetence.

Every December I experience "Craft Delusion Syndrome." While the Thanksgiving turkey is still settling and people are out buying laptops and beating each other up for the latest toy, C.D.S. sets in for me. I begin to imagine lovely, handmade gifts for all the special people in my life. Visions of blankets, books, and cuteness dance before my eyes. I don't remember that I suck at crafting until late at night Dec. 24th while instead of being jolly and excited, I am crying about my failures in the cold, dark basement and wondering if perhaps I have some gift cards hiding somewhere that I can give instead of my half-finished project.

This year, I decided that I needed to finally make the quiet books that I'd been dreaming of since the beginning of our Fight-to-the-Death sacrament (church) meetings. I kind of knew what to expect since I had made a few pages for my niece and nephew once, but, like childbirth and pregnancy, my memories had faded. So I've been hiding in the cold (there is no heater vent in our tv room), dark basement SEWING! of all things.

I'm happy to say that I actually have a finished (kind of) project with only minor injuries to my hands and soul (for all the cursing). The girls took them to church today and were entertained enough to make the C.D.S. worth it. Although, I did vow that next year all C.D.S. projects had to be completed by Dec. 22nd, so I could at least save a little bit of my soul.

Now I just have to pull myself together enough to make covers for the dang things. Here's a few pictures of the dang cute things. Before you are overly impressed, these are made from a kit that can be purchased from a really nice lady at

Each cute vegetable detaches and reattaches with velcro.

More velcro matching fun. Each number and prophet picture detaches. On each number is a well-known thing about that prophet.

This page is supposed to have an I-Spy bag on it. But I didn't have the stamina to make one of those after all the other sewing I did. But it has some dolls and clothes that the girls can play with. Also those boots lace and tie (just like it says! Wow!) Each book has 10 pages of different activities.

This was a huge time commitment and a little bit of money for me. The kits cost $35 each, but don't include all the materials you need to make them. I had a "Party" and was able to get one kit free. I spent roughly $14 for pellon and wonder-under (with two 50% off coupon at Joanne's) and then, since I only experience C.D.S. once a year, I had to buy a lot of supplies like thread, material and crafty things that other people have rolling around in their underwear drawers. That was about $90. That's a grand total of about $73 per book. wowsa! The Pioneer book was more expensive because it required a lot of little crafty things like mini clothes pins and ox fur. I know you can do this cheaper if you play your coupons right and buy the pages on sale, individually. (She has sales twice a year, I think). Anyway, I love these books and hope they will last a long freaking time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas and the Cat (A post that starts out funny then devolves into a travelogue)

Now that I have a cat (thank you Santa Claus), I can put up stupidly adorable cat pictures and write in that strange cat language that cat people seem to love on that icanhazcheezburger web site. Wait, before you unsubscribe, I is kiddingz.

Perhaps the cat and I will be enemies. What could be more fun than writing about my nemesis, The Cat? Unfortunately, so far she has proven unformidable (not a word, but should be). She curls up adorably in her cat bed. She has yet to scratch Kenzie and Hannah's eyes out even though they have danced with her and hefted her around like a sack of potatoes. She is already litter box trained. And she is cute and cuddly. I don't think I can hate her. Also, due to my "circumstance," I can't clean out the litter box. I guess we might have to be friends. But we'll see.

Christmas was relatively marvelous around here. Mike took from Tuesday on off and we spent the time wrapping up some last minute details. On the 23rd we went sledding and took the girls to see the Layton lights. On the 24th, I planned to make the day all special and stuff, but instead I spent the day sewing quiet books (more to come on this in a later post).

That evening we went to the annual C-clan party where the girls dressed up as angels for the nativity. Hannah and her cousin Gracie danced joyfully throughout the re-enactment. It was adorable. We left a little bit early and came home to read the Christmas story and open our Christmas Eve pjs.

Kenzie and Hannah were excited, but they were pretty tired and went right to sleep. I think. I couldn't hear them over my mad sewing and consequent cursing to notice if they stayed up late. Mike helped me set eyelets and cut out pictures.

Mike said my dad needed his help at midnight to put something together for my mom, a surprise. After he left I finished up a few things and fell into a coma, until I was awakened at 6:00 by loud mewing. The girls slept until normal time, eightish. As they were running out of their room, the kitty ran to greet them and trumped everything else. They were so excited.

Then we spent the rest of the morning convincing them that their other presents were exciting too. "Hey, look at these other presents. Look, don't you want to open them?" They spent the rest of the morning following the cat around saying, "Oh kitty. Kitty, kitty. Come here kitty. She wants to sleep on our bed."

We told the girls they had to think of a name. Kenzie said, "How about Kickety-Bickety?" This is her favorite name. She asked me if we could name our new baby Kickety Bickety.

So, wanting to save that name for the baby :), I said, "Well that's a nice name. Let's think of some more."

"How about Molly?" said Kenzie. "Because she mauls things."

Mike and I laughed heartily and thus the cat was christened Mauly.

Hannah loved Mauly. Then an errant scratch made her terrified. Since then it's been love/hate. Hannah loves to follow her around and then suddenly screeches about Mauly and how scary she is. She pets her lovingly and then pushes her off her chair. Perhaps this is good practice for how we shall treat (or not treat) the new baby. Kenzie carts her around and mothers her. She doesn't complain about scratches and loves her.

Mike surprised me with a new couch (Hooray, hooray, hooray!). He hid it in the garage when I fell into a coma. I'll have to post a picture when we bring it upstairs.

I didn't surprise Mike but he was excited nevertheless with his huge new monitor. Huge. It's larger than Hannah. (Maybe not, but it is large.) This, he says, is just the beginning of our dream computer.

After our morning festivities we headed over the Chambers for brunch and more presents. Here Shirley is excited about the food dehydrator we all bought her.

Kenzie got an erasable alphabet book that kept her entertained for the rest of the morning. She was also super excited about her princess painting book from Gracie. Hannah was upset about everything. The day before she had complained about her ear hurting, and we were going to take her in to Instacare, but she stopped complaining so we figured it was a sore in her ear that she'd been picking at. She was a little mollified by the puzzle she got from Koy and the book from Grandma and Grandpa but mostly she was just miserable.

By the time we got to my mom and dad's house that afternoon she was complaining about her ear and starting to burn up. She cried that she wanted to go to sleep. We quickly opened presents on arrival. The highlight was Hannah's new Fancy Nancy doll, which she clung to and said to Kenzie, "Now I have a Fancy Nancy, just like yours." It was true love. Right after that she went down for a nap with Fancy Nancy in tow.

Kenzie's fondest dreams were realized when my parents gave her a "Strawberry Shortcake house with all her friends." (The only thing she wanted from Santa Claus.)

I was excited because we surprised my mom. This never happens. She is the queen of guessing and always says, "I knew it. I just knew it," because she does. But this year Alisha, Shaelynn and I framed an oil painting she bought 3 years ago in Italy. We stole it from her closet. She was really surprised.

It was nice to see my Grandma Bette and Grandpa Charles, who were at my parent's house. They joined us with Ali and Shaelynn and my parents in a game of "Imagine if." The girls love their new bouncing balls from them. Hannah bounces all over the house now that she feels better.

We were going to head to my mom's family party after that, but Hannah was burning up so we opted for home and bed. Hannah is doing much better now and the girls are enjoying all their new stuff. As are we (a new Kitchenaid! A wheat grinder! I'm so excited and spoiled.)

We have about 200 pictures so I'll have to put together a little slideshow for posterity or something. I feel grateful that we were able to have such a nice Christmas. I hope yours was filled with family and fun! Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Being Released

Sometimes I love the evocative imagery of Mormon terms. For the last year I've served in the Young Women's with the 12-18 year old girls in our ward. I've loved this calling (that's what we Mormons call our jobs in the church).

I was the camp director (as I once so brilliantly explained it to my friends in Alabama, "It's a camp. For girls."), but I served as a counselor and sports director as well (I imparted all of my wisdom about ball sports, such as 'Duck!' and 'Run!'). I taught Sunday lessons, went to activities and fell in love with my calling. It was easy because the women and girls I served with were marvelous. A couple of the girls intimidated me, as I saw visions of what my little girls could become with their free agency, but most of them gave me courage and hope with their goodness, intelligence, and budding personalities. I love those girls.

But this week, they released me (That means it's someone else's turn to do the job). Release. I feel a sort of whooshing sort of windy noise with that word, as if something were holding on to me and suddenly let go. But release is such a powerful, ready-to-move-on word as well. It's what you feel when you achieve something, when the pressure relieves, when the baby's shoulder slides out :) Release is a freedom feeling too.

I am a little sad. I used to think my mom was strange when she cried when she was released. Now I know. Serving in a calling gives a different (not better, not worse, just different) kind of meaning and definition to your life than a job, or even motherhood.

I didn't cry until I was walking out to my car after the bishop told me they were extending a release to me (extending a release! Isn't that a great phrase? They're reaching out to let go. It seems perfect). Then, as Mike and I walked through the double doors of the church, a few tears squeezed out. There were so many things I had meant to do. Phone calls I should have made, girls I was just getting to know, lessons I was going to teach, personal progress I was going to do. Regret is often what makes our grief intense.

I'm not sure that I would even call my soft sadness about my release grief. My feeling is more like saying goodbye to a promising, not yet fully developed friend: "It was good while it lasted. I'll send you a Christmas card and maybe Facebook you." I will have sweet, edged-with-soft-blue- sadness moments when I think about being in the Young Women's. I love those girls, and that is the best memory I will have of this calling.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I promise I'll stop complaining. Soon. Like in 26 weeks or so.

I didn't get the barfs, at least not in the form everyone else in my family had. I just get the special, "letting-you-know-I'm-still-here-invading-your-body" throw-ups sent from my sweet fetus every day.

But before this blog turns into crazy "pregnancy complaint central," because I'm sure you all tune in here to get updates on my gastrointestinal distress, quick let me post some pictures of fun things we've done that I've forgotten about already.

On November 14 we went to Disney on Ice. The girls traded us their Halloween candy, minus a small sandwich bag full, to get their tickets to this event. We got good tickets through Gpa Reid's work and the girls and their cousins were awed and in wonder of all the beautiful princesses.

It was a good trade for the Halloween candy and a fun family activity. Next year I'm totally dressing up, but not as a princess, as the scary, scary Maleficent.

Thanksgiving weekend, in between all the barfing, we put up our tree.

At first, while I was busy putting out the nativity, we let the girls put the ornaments on the tree. I think they've inherited my decorating skills.

This my friends, is the only untouchable ornament on our tree. It is an ornament that my first grade teacher claimed that I painted. I'm pretty sure the room mothers painted it for me, but hey, I'm pretending that early on I had skills. Now this poor clay ornament has been glued a few times, but I kind of like it. And I'm really impressed that my first grade teacher even attempted an activity like this with 30-ish small children. She must have been amazing.

Since our ornament collection is sparse, we decided to spice it up a bit by painting some clear balls. Mike said, in his best engineering voice, "We need a centrifuge to make these."

Kenzie had a great time squirting the paint into the balls and swirling it around. She's really enjoying doing crafty things lately. She's always asking me to help her make something. Maybe she didn't get the memo about me being the Anti-Martha.

Here's one of our painted ornaments. For a craft anarchist, I think squirting paint into clear ornaments and shaking them is a pretty good activity.

And last but not least, here is our favorite hypochondriac (this is her latest bed time ruse. "My bum hurts." "My elbow hurts." "My arm hurts." "My leg hurts.") showing us her highly inventive princess shoes. She's modeling her beloved cupcake dress, which she asks me everyday if she can wear. Of course she hates tights, because they ruin the "twirl" effect. (It took me about 20 times to understand her version of twirl. "ihl" is about how she says it.)