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Nolan’s FINISHED Quiet Book!

After what felt like years (but in reality was probably a couple of weeks) of nap-time work, here it is!  Our fake nephew’s Christmas present:  a quiet book.


Fork lift page.  The “packages” can attach onto the fork lift and it can move up and down.  The wheels spin.  And Nolan’s dad works at Lowes so I made him the driver.

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Pocket page with vehicles parked inside.

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Road page with a stop light (the lights detach) and traffic signs.


Barn page.  The barn doors open to reveal farm finger puppets.  The windmill can come out of the pocket.  There’s a puddle and some mud for the puppets to “play” in.

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A  jellyfish counting page.  Beads go from 1 to 10.


Dog page.  The leash comes off of the page and can attach to the collar.  There’s a piece of velcro on the dog’s tongue where the bone, ball or toy can go.

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Dump truck page.  The dumpster swivels back and forth.  There’s a piece of dirt that can come in and out of the dumpster.  The wheels can come on and off.


And finally the peek-a-boo house page.  The windows, door and chimney open to reveal pictures of Nolan’s family.
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At 15 months Nolan is probably too small to truly appreciate the book, but Amanda sure loved it.  And I know that it’s going to get a ton of use in the future.  Plus it’s the gift that keeps on giving:  Nolan will be getting quiet book pages for Christmas and birthdays from Aunt Nikki for at least the next 3 years!


Update:  Here are 8 new quiet book pages that I’ve given to Nolan since he got his original book a year and a half ago.

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Doctor’s kitquiet-book-doctors-kit-page-6

Wheels on the busquiet-book-wheels-on-the-bus-page-2

Ladybug quiet-book-ladybug-page-9

Mailboxmailbox-quiet-book-page-2 mailbox-supplies-quiet-book-page-1

Brush your hair and teethquiet-book-toothbrush-page-5and Gumball machine.gumball-color-matching-quiet-book-page-6

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The most difficult and time-consuming part: the quiet book cover

Let me begin with an apology.  It’s now been a month and a half since I’ve finished Nolan’s quiet book and I’m hoping that exactly how I made the cover will all come flooding back to me just by looking at these photos. Wishful thinking, I know.  So bear with me, please!

I also want to add that this is the 4th quiet book cover I’ve made.  Each time it gets slightly easier and much nicer.  Here are the blogs that I used as a reference when making my first cover:  Oopsey DaisyElisa Loves and Crafting Chicks.  I didn’t refer to them at all this time, but I used them a ton the first (and second) time around.  They will probably be ten times more helpful than I could ever dream of being!

These are the things I definitely wanted on this cover:

  1. handles
  2. an inside pocket
  3. a “spine”
  4. a strap closure
  5. “Nolan’s Quiet Book” written on the cover

With all that in mind I chose my fabrics (red and white checkered for the outside and a plain white inside) and got started!

I always wait until my pages are finished, sewed together and punched before making the cover.  The very first one I made was a tad bit too small and I never want to make that mistake again.  Which is also why I always end up wasting a ton of fabric.  But better safe than sorry!

So I started off by putting my pages together in a nice, neat pile.  I unfolded both cover fabrics, laid one on top of the other (doesn’t matter which way…yet!) and set the pages inside.  I folded the fabric over top of the pages and then cut a giant rectangle out.  I went way overboard, cutting at least 6 inches more than necessary on the top, bottom and each side.  I just wanted to make sure that there was enough for the seam allowance and that all of the pages would be completely inside of the cover.  Plus I wanted to leave some extra room in case Amanda adds more pages in later.

Then I cut out two pieces of the same lightweight sew-in interfacing I used on each quiet book page (see the post where I finished the pages for more information).  Well actually I have a ton of random scraps lying around, so I used those instead of having to cut out two giant pieces (you’ll see the scraps a bit farther down in the post).  I covered each fabric with the pieces and pinned them on.  I set them aside.

Next I cut out all of the necessary pieces for my wishlist.

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I decided to make the pocket on the back inside cover, so I cut a large rectangle out of the checkered fabric.  I didn’t have a particular use for it; I just knew it was handy to have at least one pocket on the cover for any loose pieces that don’t get anchored into the book.  Like if I would’ve realized that the windmill for the barn page wasn’t staying in, I would’ve put it in there.  Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20!  I made this one really large…no idea on the size of it, of course…but it takes up most of the back cover.  I folded all of the raw edges inside, ironed them and sewed just the top down (the other ones would get sewn in once it was attached to the page).  I cut out a piece of red velcro and set it all with the cover pieces.

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Next, the handles.  I decided to make them with the checkered fabric, although either one would have worked.  I used one of the leftover strips from when I trimmed my insanely-sized cover and experimented with it to find a length I liked.  Obviously I have no idea how long I went with, but if you look at the first picture you can see they’re longer than the pocket.  Sorry!  Just play around with it and find a good size!  You can also see in the above picture that my handles aren’t the same size.  Width or length.  I figured I could just tuck the longer one inside the cover more…or something.  Let me reiterate that I am NOT an expert…not even close!

Now the fabric I was using was really flimsy so I decided to put some interfacing inside of the handles to give them some stability.  I used some scraps of lightweight iron-on fusible web that I had laying around from a previous project.  I cut two of them thin enough to go in the middle of each strap and then folded the raw fabric edges over and ironed it all down.

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Then I folded the entire rectangle in half the hotdog way (so it’s tall and skinny, not short and fat).  I ironed it again and then sewed along the three edges (skipping the fold).  I repeated the same method for the other strap.  I set both aside with my other pieces.

The spine was next.  I wanted a contrasting piece of binding on the inside and outside of the cover.  Because I wanted to make the spine pretty rigid so it would feel more like an actual book, I used a much heavier interfacing on this part–Pellon 808.  So the measurements for the interfacing was the important part.  The fabric pieces just had to be bigger than the interfacing so I could fold all of the raw edges inside.   Laying out the cover, I guesstimated how long to cut the spines.  I cut two rectangles from the 808 that were approximately 14 x 1.

I used more leftover scraps from trimming the cover for each of the spine pieces.  That’s why the red one is so much larger than the white.  Like I said earlier, it doesn’t matter what size the fabric itself is, just as long as it’s bigger than the interfacing.

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I put the interfacing in the center of each spine piece, folded all of the raw edges inside and ironed everything down.  I set those pieces in my growing pile.

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Last but not least, the strap.  I cut a fat rectangle out of the white (I figured since the handles were red it would look nicer if the strap was white).  I’m super sorry but I have absolutely no idea what the dimensions are for it.  To figure out how long to make it, I opened up the cover piece, set the pages inside where they were going to sit and folded the top of the cover over the pages.  Then I used my measuring tape to see how long the strap would need to be.  I didn’t want to make it too small (in case more pages were added; the book needed to be able to expand), but not too loose either (otherwise it would lose its effectiveness).  And, like the straps, I figured that I could tuck however much I needed into the book before sewing it down to adjust the length better later on.  Turns out I made it just the right length…I only tucked enough inside to make sure it was connected to the book!

I also wanted the strap to be rigid so I used the 808 again.  I used a leftover scrap from a previous project, which is why it was a lot smaller than the fabric.  It turned out just fine though!  I folded and ironed the raw edges inside.  Then I folded the rectangle in half the hot dog way and ironed it so I could see exactly where the halfway mark was.  I opened it up and set the 808 in the middle of the bottom half of white fabric.  Then I folded it closed and ironed it shut.  Then I sewed the edges shut (once again skipping the folded edge).  I also cut off a piece of white velcro and set all of that aside.  Now my extra pieces were ready!

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Time for the logistical nightmare:  figuring out what order to sew everything on.  I started with the pocket, figuring it was the easiest.  I opened my white (inside) fabric up and laid it flat.  I set the quiet book pages on one half in the approximate location they’ll go when the book is open and Nolan is looking at the last page.  Then I set the pocket so it was as in-the-middle of the page as it was going to get just by eyeballing everything.  I detached the velcro and pinned one piece on the white fabric and its matching half onto the pocket.  I sewed each of those down first.  Then I placed the pocket back onto the cover and pinned it in place.  I stitched around the edge, leaving the top open (obviously) and reinforcing the top inch of the stitch a billion times on both sides.  As you can see it turned out a bit crooked but whatever.  At least it was on and out of the way!

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It made the most sense to do the spine next.  Since I already had white in the machine I figured I would do the outside spine first.  Plus I still hadn’t decided how I was going to attach the rings on the inside yet so that gave me a bit more time to procrastinate that.  I folded my cover in half to find the middle and then laid the spine in that vicinity.  It didn’t have to be exact.  I placed it so there was about an equal amount of red checkered fabric on the top and bottom.  That way once I sewed it all together and flipped it right side out, the spine *should* be mostly in the center.  I pinned it on the outside cover and sewed it on.

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Okay, the inside.  When I made J’s ABC quiet book last year I lucked out when I went to put the rings in.  The fabric I used for the cover was a type of wool so I was able to just poke the binder rings right through it!  How lucky was that??  I tried that again this time, but no dice.  I still don’t have the slightest idea how to sew buttonholes (which is the way a few quiet book blogs recommend) and I didn’t want to try that on someone else’s quiet book just in case it didn’t work.  Plus I didn’t really have the time to learn how to do something new–I was definitely in a time crunch.  So I decided to use ribbon like I did for J’s original quiet book.  The only white I already had on hand had purple polka dots on it…definitely not ideal.  Fortunately I discovered that if I flipped it over you could barely see the polka dots.  Good enough for a 1 year old!  It was nice too because it was a thicker ribbon, which would make it easier to sew so on, and sturdier too.

I lined up the inside and outside covers, with the inside one on top.  Then I laid the red checkered spine on the white inside cover, matching it up with the outside spine.  I pinned it down and sewed it on.  Then I had to switch my thread back to white (ugh!!) and got started on the ribbon.

I needed to leave 3 gaps in the ribbon–one for each binder ring to slide through.    And they had to be lined up just right or else I was going to have to rip out some stitches, which I hate doing even more than changing out thread.  I started by pinning my ribbon in the middle(ish) of the red checkered spine.  Then I lined up my pages exactly where they were going to go on the spine.  I pushed two pins in:  one at the top of the first ring and the other at the bottom of the top ring.  I moved the pages out of the way and looked at the pin locations.  I didn’t want the gaps too big or else the pages would wobble.  To mark exactly where I wanted to sew, I pushed two pins into just the red spine slightly above and slightly below the marker pins.  This is where using the checkered fabric came in really handy–it was so simple to sew straight across there and know exactly how big my space was without measuring anything!  I marked the next two gaps the exact same way.

I started in the upper left corner of the ribbon, sewed across the top, down the right side until I got to my pin, across, and finally back up the top, ended at my point of origin.  I cut the thread and moved the fabric up to my second marker pin.  I started in the new top corner, sewed across the ribbon, all the way down along the edge to my next marker pin, across the ribbon and all the way back up to my second origin point.  Quiet-Book-Cover-Binding-6I spread the cover flat on the floor and slid the top binder ring in place.  I wanted to make sure that the gap was not-too-big and not-too-small before I sewed the rest of them.  And that everything was still lined up okay.  Holy cow, it was perfect…nothing short of a miracle!

I repeated the same steps above for the other two gaps.  I made sure to slide both the top and middle rings in before finishing the bottom.  It was a very tedious process but I didn’t have to rip out any stitches and it worked, so the time spent was well worth it.

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The way I figured, one set of handles and the strap were all going to need to be sewn on the same side, so I would leave a gap in the other side to flip the cover right side out.  I could pin it all in to figure out the placement and then start sewing.  First, though, I needed to place the velcro for my strap onto the cover.  I found the center of the cover and slid the strap in where it would eventually go on the back side.  Then I folded it over as if closing the cover and pinned each piece of velcro so they would line up–one on the cover and one on the strap.  I quickly sewed them both on.

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I laid the cover right sides together.  Then I slid the handles and straps in their spots between the layers.  I pinned them on, making sure everything was tucked INSIDE of the layers (you’ll see what happens if they’re on the outside in just a minute) and that the handles weren’t twisted.  I just estimated where the handles were going and then matched them up the best I could on each side.  They’re probably about 6 inches from the top and bottom.  In order to make the handles as long as possible, I only tucked about a half an inch in between the layers.  For the strap I tested it out to see how long it should be in order to match up with the velcro on the front.  If I remember correctly there was only about a half an inch tucked in on that as well.  Just enough to keep it secure in the book.  And by tucking the handles and strap in between the layers you don’t have to worry about the raw edges or it looking funny.  But sewing them on after the cover is put together would also work…whatever you’re comfortable with!

Then I pinned the cover pieces together.  I sewed the entire way around the cover, starting on the left side right above top handle and went the entire way around until I got to right below where the bottom handle was going to go.  I didn’t stitch the front handles down at all.  I went over the back handle and strap over and over and over again–I didn’t want them to pull out of the book at any point.  Since I had so much extra fabric I used a 1 inch margin the entire way.

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So the first time I attempted the cover things didn’t quite go according to plan.  I placed everything were I wanted it, pinned it down, sewed around the cover and then turned it right side out.  And then I realized that something was very very VERY wrong.  See if you can spot the problem:

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I mean really it’s only a problem if Nolan wants to open his quiet book up and actually use it…otherwise it’s FINE!  Looking back on it now, I can’t even figure out how on earth I sewed it like that.  I have absolutely no idea how I attached the handles that way and why I thought that was the correct way to do it.  I was unbelievably mad at myself.  I was SO CLOSE to being able to finish the quiet book without having to pull out the seam ripper!  That would have been a new record!!  That and I had reinforced the handles about a bajillion times so I really wasn’t looking forward to having to pry the seams out.  On the plus side it didn’t end up being nearly as difficult to rip the handles out as I thought it was going to be.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t flip the quiet book wrong side out and fix them that way.  I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t do it that way without ripping out the entire seam and starting from scratch, or if I was just too lazy.  Or maybe I left the strap in place instead of ripping that out?  And just ripped the seam enough to be able to pull out the handles?  Man I wish I had a better memory…  I could be here all day trying to figure it out and still not have the slightest clue!

Regardless of my reasoning, I left the cover right side out, ripped the seams so I could pull the handles and strap out, slid the ends on the same handle into the slots, folded the raw edges inside of the cover, ironed it all down to help keep it in place and then sewed everything back on correctly.  Since I was using two different fabrics I put the red thread in the main part of my machine and white in the bobbin.  It mostly worked…some of the white peeked through the red, so you can see some of it on the outside fabric.  Only if you look closely though. (Hey, I’ll tell myself whatever I want to feel better!)

Unfortunately I didn’t do the best repair job.  I had to rip the entire side seam out (well almost the whole thing) and when I pinned everything on and went to sew there was some extra fabric leftover somehow.  And as you can see if you look closely, I definitely didn’t sew in a straight line.  Not even close.  Luckily this is the back of the cover so I figured that no one will notice it anyway.  And it definitely didn’t bother me enough to rip it out and try it again!  The kid can actually open the book up now so I was going to take what I could get!

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I turned the book wrong sides out again and trimmed the entire way around the ridiculous 1 inch margin so it was much closer to the seam.  Then I flipped it back out for the last time.  I spread it flat on the ironing board and ironed the whole thing to get all of the the wrinkles out and smooth down the edges.

Now the gap!  I folded the raw edges inside of the cover and ironed them shut.  Then I pinned each end of my handle where the stitch started/ended, tucking the ends in between the layers.  Then I sewed it shut, once again using the red thread in the top of the machine and white in the bobbin to help it blend in a bit better.  Wasn’t perfect, but it would do.

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And then the piece de resistance:  the letters!  I used my Silhouette machine to size them, loaded the same white fabric into the machine that I used for the inside of the cover and had it cut them all out for me.  I peeled them off of the Heat n Bond, placed them on the cover and ironed them on.

Voila, the cover is FINISHED!  Definitely far from perfect, but I really like the way it turned out.  Especially since I finished the entire project the day before they were showing up!  That gave me nap the next day to clean up my extraordinary mess.  I couldn’t have planned that any better if I had tried.

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Putting the pages together made easy thanks to THIS ^^^

Now that all of Nolan’s quiet book pages were finally finished it was time to put it all together.  First I had to decide on the order of the pages.  Obviously I wanted the dump truck and fork lift pages to be opposite one another.  Same with the two road pages.  It didn’t matter for the rest, so for those I just lined them up with the page that matched the closest size-wise.  I still don’t understand how so many of my pages were different sizes!  I mean I used my awesome rotary cutter set to measure each page and cut them in straight lines.  Seriously, what is wrong with me??  But anyway, some of my pages were different sizes (and significantly different…I’m talking about an inch on each side!), so I just matched them up the best I could.

Next I cut rectangles of interfacing for each page.  It all gets folded into the book so the size of it really doesn’t matter.  Finally, cutting something out that doesn’t have to be even remotely straight!  Hallelujah.  I use the interfacing to give the pages a bit more stability.  It’s not necessary, but it does make a little bit of difference.  When I was making J’s ABC quiet book I made one set of pages without it to see if it was worth the extra time and cost and I decided it was.  Use your discretion!

I lucked out and the Fabricland at our last duty station was going out of business so they had a huge clearance sale.  They had some sew-in interfacing for 14 cents per meter!  I prefer iron on (obviously) but there was no way to beat that price!  So I picked up about 20 packages, haha.  I should be good on interfacing for a loooong time now!

Interfacing

Once your interfacing is cut out, line it up on each page.  Normally this would be when I would iron it on, but since I was using sew-in I just laid it on top instead.  I didn’t bother to sew each sheet onto the individual pages; I figured that was an unnecessary step.  It could just be sewn in when I sewed the pages together.  This made it difficult to work with but I still preferred that over sewing an extra time.  Quiet Book Finishing Pages 2Next, place the pages that are going to be sewn together with the right sides together and pin in place.  Make sure that the pages are facing the same direction!  I haven’t made this mistake yet but I’m sure it’s somewhere in my future…

Then sew each set of pages together!  Leave a gap big enough so you can pull the pages through.  I try to keep it in the same place on all of the pages, usually either in the center along the bottom or on the side where the holes will get punched.  My gaps are usually about 4-5 inches.

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Turn the pages right side out and press both sides with the iron to flatten the seams and get rid of any wrinkles.  Find your gap and fold the raw edges inside to hide the interfacing and fraying pieces.  Iron to keep them in place and then sew it closed!  If you’re worried about seeing the stitch you can also hand sew them shut with a blind stitch instead.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I definitely do not care that much!  I just use a beige thread to hide it as much as possible.  If the gap is over a fabric/felt other than the muslin I’ll use a thread color that matches it as best as I can.  And if the fabric on one side is different from the other then I’ll use two different colors–one threaded through the machine for the top fabric and a different color in the bobbin for the bottom.

Once all of the pages are sewn together it’s time to add your holes.  For my other quiet books I’ve always used grommets.  They work, but they’re a huge pain in the @ss.  Since they’re usually going through several layers (two sheets of muslin, two interfacing, plus two layers of felt/fabric), I always have to have Hubby punch them for me.  He’s smashed his finger with the hammer on more than one occasion.  And then the cutting tool doesn’t last for more than one book (and when I made the ABC book he had to improvise and use a drill for the last few pages because it didn’t even make it that long!).  Plus some of the grommets have fallen out.  And they’re entirely too large; they take up way to much space on the page.  So I knew I needed to find a different solution.

I’ve seen some people use eyelets.  While browsing at Michael’s for some ideas I found this tool:  a Crop-A-Dile.

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I debated for awhile about whether or not to purchase it.  With a $30 price tag it was an expensive impulse buy.  And I was unsure of two things:  if it would punch through my pages and if the 3/16 eyelets (which was the biggest size it would punch) was large enough to put a binder ring through.  So I bought one package of eyelets (figuring I could return them if i didn’t end up buying the tool), went home and tried threading the binder ring though.  Plenty of room!  Then I hit up Amazon.  The reviews were mostly positive and it sounded like it would work on the quiet book pages.  It was cheaper on Amazon, but at this point I only had a couple of days before they were showing up and I still had to make the cover so I didn’t have time to spare.  I used a 40% off coupon which made me feel slightly better about the cost!

Let me tell you this:  best $18 I have ever spent.  It took me longer to figure out how to work the thing than it did to punch all of the holes.  I love it.  And will never use anything else.

It took me awhile to figure out how to use it since the “instructions” it came with were completely worthless.  Thank goodness for Youtube–I found a super helpful video by user kristinbell that explained to me exactly what to do.  The part the instructions neglected to make clear was that the black cubes spin! Crop-A-Dile-Close

Basically you punch a hole with the hole punch on the top/bottom (one is 3/16 inches and the other is 1/8), set the correct size eyelet in the hole, spin the cube to the correct side (see the instruction manual for the settings), hold it so the base is on the bottom, line it up with the eyelet and squeeze!  So simple!!!  And painless!

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I put a small dot for where the holes would go with a random marker I found laying within arms reach.  I just eyeballed the first page, punched them, and then lined the page that was going next to it on top and marked the holes.  Earlier I had said how some of my pages were smaller than others, so that’s why I punched each page based off of the one before it.  That way I could line the smaller pages in the center of the larger ones and punch the holes accordingly.Quiet-Book-Finishing-Pages-4

I am going to need to practice using it–sometimes I squeezed too hard or not hard enough or didn’t have the tool centered with the eyelet so the backs of some of them are a bit wonky.  Still much better than the grommets though!

I’ve always used binder rings in my quiet books.  This is something else you can look at options for to see what you might prefer.  Other people have used different materials.  I like the binder rings.  It’s easy to change out pages, easy to thread them through the grommets/eyelets and they look nice.  Oh, and they’re cheap.  I have two different sizes:  1.5 in and 3 in.  Since this book probably won’t hold that many pages at a time, I opted for the 1.5 inch ones.  The 3 inch ones are huge, FYI.  Really huge.

I pushed the binder rings through all of the holes and flipped through the pages, making sure it all looked okay.  Fantastic!  So close to being finished!

Saint Bernard
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Farewell to our “Best Personality Ever” dog…

Yesterday we had to put our Saint Bernard of 6 years down.  We got him from a breeder in Texas when he was only 7 weeks old.  We committed to buy him and put down our deposit and then found out a couple of weeks later that we were going to have to PCS (that means move for you non-military folks) less than one month after bringing him home.  Turned out that was the best thing that could’ve happened–he became the most well-socialized dog ever!  We stayed in a hotel for a week while house hunting in Philadelphia.  There was a volleyball tournament going on nearby so there were approximately 100 teenage girls staying in our hotel.  Who adored our 10 pound fluffball!  Up until the day he passed away, 12-14 year old girls were his absolute favorite for that very reason.

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He was also a strong little sucker.  We had another dog at the time, a chocolate Lab mix named Dutch.  We had rescued Dutch from a shelter about a year before getting Jack.  He was the best dog ever–completely loyal, calm, obedient, absolutely awesome.  And, as it turned out, not a big fan of other dogs.  We didn’t learn this until it was too late and we brought Jack home.  Dutch attacked him on several occasions.  One of the times was nearly fatal; a quarter of an inch over and he would’ve pierced Jack’s heart.  But Jack survived and become the toughest dog ever after that.  And a complete baby; it didn’t matter how big (or how small) a dog was, the first time meeting it he would roll right over onto his back into a position of submission.  Nothing more hilarious than seeing a St Bernard exposing his belly to a Chihuahua!

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Life was good for Jacky up until 2 weeks ago.  He started off just fine and then got progressively worse and worse.  After 2 trips to our vet in one week they still had no idea what was wrong with him and sent us up to Richmond to have some tests done.  He was hospitalized on Monday.  Tuesday night his breathing was so bad they had to intubate him.  By Wednesday morning the swelling in his lymph nodes had barely gone down even after receiving steroids treatments all night.  His new vet said we had 2 choices:  we could keep him intubated (which would cost at least $5000 a day) or he could have a tracheotomy instead (which was slightly less expensive than intubation but still very costly).  There was no telling how long it was going to take for the swelling to go down, but by judging how little it had progressed in the last 12 hours it was going to be at least a week.  And once the swelling finally managed to go down, he only had a 50/50 chance of survival from the infection that caused the swelling to begin with.

Or we could just stop treatment.

We had no choice.  If Jack had only been a couple of years old and still had his entire life ahead of him we could’ve talked about treatment.  Or even if the infection was 100% curable.  Or if the vet could tell us exactly how long until the swelling would go down enough that he wouldn’t need machines to help him breathe.  But none of that was true.  So we had to stop treatment.

Hubby was teaching classes all day and was unable to get away.  I tried to find someone to watch the kids for me, but was unable to.  So I picked J up from Pre-K early, threw both kids in the car and made the 45 minute trek to Richmond so we could say goodbye to our dog.

The vet hospital staff couldn’t have been better.  They were kind and compassionate.  They stroked his fur.  They made an impression of his gigantic paw in clay for me to take home.  He was still sedated and intubated when we got there so that made saying goodbye slightly easier.  His breathing was awful, reinforcing that we had made the right decision.  It was horrible.  But I’m so glad that I was there when he went.  That he was with someone who loved him more than anything else in the world, even if he had no idea I was there.

Having the kids with me turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I held C in my arms the entire time and just kept cuddling and kissing him.  And J, who kept proclaiming “Jack isn’t my dog” (“her” dog was Moody–a greyhound we’d had for about 2 years) didn’t care what was happening.  She was my distraction.

Over the last year I’ve found her indifference towards Jack hilarious.  As a baby she adored him.  He was her first word.  Her favorite activity was first me carrying her as we chased him around the house, and then her crawling, and then walking, and finally running after him.  He was her best friend.  And then about a year ago she decided she didn’t like him anymore.  He was too dirty, too smelly, too noisy.  AKA she discovered she was a girly-girl, haha!  That was also the same time she got jealous of him too.  She hated when I paid attention to him instead of her.  Or when he would lay on the couch in “her” spot.  Or sit next to me.  Or do anything at all that wasn’t laying on his dog bed, sleeping.

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But having J there with me helped as well.  She just kept on asking “Can we go yet?” over and over and over again so I was able to leave without feeling like I hadn’t stayed long enough.  I’m sorry, maybe it’s insensitive, but 10 minutes of petting a dog who was no longer breathing was more than enough for me.  I needed to get out and grieve.

That all happened yesterday morning.  I’m still in shock.  And mourning.  Even though he had gotten incredibly lazy the last few months and pretty much did nothing but sleep, I hate not having him here.  I miss him.  And I hate not having a dog…but at the same time I don’t want to start all over again.  I don’t want a puppy that I have to train.  I don’t want an older dog that has a different personality from Jack.  I want something familiar.  The plan was always to get a second dog when Jack started to seriously deteriorate so the transition wouldn’t be as awful and I really wish that we had been able to do that.  This is the first time in almost 10 years we haven’t had a dog in the house and it’s beyond depressing.  And yet I just don’t want a brand new dog right now.  I don’t even want to think about getting another dog.  I just want Jack.

This is a tribute I wrote on my personal Facebook page last night:

RIP Jackson “The Dude” Delp. You definitely weren’t going to win Best Behaved dog, but you took first place for Best Personality.

As a puppy you loved eating glass Christmas balls, electronics and sunglasses. Water bottles were your favorite. And you would actually eat the sticks you drug home after walks. You would pee on the couch every time you tried to climb on it. You failed obedience class the first time you went through and didn’t do much better the next two times. I loved watching you tumble head over heels when you tripped over your giant feet. Dutch tried to kill you 2 times and you somehow you pulled through. You used to bark at your huge water bowl. You pounced on things like a cat.

In your too-short life you lived in 4 states and 2 countries. You were the best traveller and mover–when you got stressed you just laid down and slept until it was over. Canada was your favorite (for obvious reasons). Although you loved that doggie door in Kansas…even tried to take a birthday cake through it once! You were Jordan’s first word and probably would have been Carter’s. Nothing gave me more joy than watching you run–you always thought you were going so fast but you looked like you were running in slow motion. I loved how you would prance when you found a gigantic stick (aka small tree branch) on walks and insisted on playing tug with it and carrying it home. I don’t even know how many baby pools you put holes into by digging at the bottom trying to kill the hose. You were never happier than when you were outside, especially in the middle of a blizzard. Except at doggie day care. Going sled riding was awesome with you. You would do anything for a hot dog. Getting you to howl was too easy. 12-14 year old girls were your favorite, but you loved anyone who would pay attention to you. If there was water within 200 yards you were going to be in it (just ask Grandma!). When you got excited you would bounce up and down on your front legs as if you were on a trampoline. When you did something bad you would go straight to Jordan and give her kisses, knowing I couldn’t yell at you anymore.

You didn’t like when we put J & C on you to ride you but you were the best sport ever about it. Ditto for being a pillow. We always knew where the “freight train” was in the house due to your obnoxiously loud breathing. Your tail of destruction knocked over and broke more than one thing from the coffee table. We’ll be finding Jackson hair in our stuff for years to come. Thunderstorms, fireworks and gunshots scared the crap out of you. You were scared of the dark sometimes. You would slink away to your bed anytime anyone raised their voice, even if it wasn’t directed at you. You were a 165 pound baby.

Yep, you were a shithead through and through. 6 years of your shenanigans weren’t nearly enough. My heart hurts. I love you buddy.

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Quiet Book Road Page
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Going for a Spin, Part Two

All of the other pages of Nolan’s quiet book were finished (except for the pinwheel on the barn) so I had no choice but to figure out how I wanted to make the road for the vehicles.  I knew 2 things.  First, I wanted a traffic light somewhere that you could attach and detach the different colored lights.  Second, I had some extra space on top of the vehicle pocket page that I needed to do something with.  So I searched Google images and Pinterest some more.  Seriously, I bet I spend more time on the internet looking for ideas than I do making the actual pages!  I’m talking hours of (unnecessary) research go into these things.

The road in this quiet book caught my attention.  Instead of having a traffic circle or curvey roads, I could just make the road going around the perimeter.  Perfect!  And then I could make the traffic light a decent size and put it right in the middle of the page.  And in the blank space above the car pockets I could have the road extend that way, and then branch off into each pocket like a garage!  Finally, some progress!!

I started with the road.  I cut 4 rectangles of black felt that were as long as each side of the muslin.  They were about 2-3 inches wide (sorry, definitely should’ve measured that!).  I cut one more the length of the pocket page, and then 3 shorter ones that went from the road into each pocket.  I had seen all kinds of ideas on how to do the yellow line in the middle (ric rac, paint, ribbon, fabric, etc) but I decided to stick with what I thought looked the most realistic:  yellow felt.  I cut out a bunch of thin yellow rectangles for the dotted lines on the road.  As you can tell, I cut them freehand, not bothering to make sure they were all the same size.  Whoops.  I pinned the yellow onto the black and sewed them down.

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This was pretty tedious so I decided not to pin all of them down.  But when I went to sew them on they turned out super crooked (not just a little crooked liked the ones I had pinned), so I pinned the rest of them.  You’ll be able to tell which ones I was lazy with 😉  Then I placed the road pieces around the perimeter on the empty page.  On the vehicle pocket page I lined the road going across the top with the top one on the opposite page (although that turned out to be moot once I sewed all of the pages together.  You’ll see.) and lined the short ones up with each pocket.

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I sewed them all down and then the roads were finished!

Next:  the traffic light.  There are about a million of these out there so I didn’t have to search long.  Most of them are black.  Which I don’t really understand…traffic lights aren’t black!  So I made mine an orange-y color.  It was the closest felt color I had.  And instead of making it with the triangle on the top I just made the whole thing a rectangle.  We all know how stellar my cutting-in-a-straight-line skills are so I figured it was safer that way 😉  Yet another change I made from most of the traffic light pages out there is that I didn’t have two sets of lights (one that was sewn onto the traffic light and one that comes off, like this one).  I didn’t understand the point of that–how do the cars know to go?  I wanted to make sure Nolan knew he was putting them in the right order so instead I decided to use corresponding velcro in the correct order:  red, yellow and green.  Of course I didn’t have any green so I ended up having to wait to do any of the sewing on this page until I made a trip to Joann’s.  Figures.  Which I had a difficult time finding different colors of velcro there!  The fabric store at our last duty station (Fabricland–it’s a Canadian company) had about 20 different colors of velcro at it so I didn’t even think twice about needing a new color.  I had a minor panic attack when I went into Joann’s and couldn’t find any other colors besides white and black in their velcro section.  Fortunately I decided to wander around for a bit before leaving and I discovered a whole bunch of “hook & loop” colors in the dollar bins by the checkouts.  I completely forgot that this was all generic stuff and not name brand.  Whew, crisis averted!

I cut the rectangle for the traffic light first.  I left an inch or two of open space between it and the road on the top and bottom and about three to four inches on each side.  It looked too plain; it definitely needed something.  While doing my hours of research I remember seeing traffic signs on a couple of pages (like this one) and had made a mental note at the time that it was a nice touch.  So I decided to make four traffic signs, one for each corner.  Deciding on the first three were easy:  speed limit, yield and stop.  After googling “traffic signs” and not coming up with any other obvious ones that a kid would know immediately, I finally just went with No Parking.

So I cut two white rectangles (speed limit and no parking), a red triangle and a slightly smaller white triangle (yield) and a red octagon (stop) out of felt. I placed all five things on the page and arranged everything so it looked okay.

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I cut out the three felt circles:  red, yellow and green.  I used my Silhouette scrap felt that already had the fusible web ironed on the back.  That way it had the extra support since it would be pulled on and off quite frequently.  I traced a cardboard ribbon holder so the circles were not only straight, but also the same size.  What a concept!quiet-book-road-circlesThen I got to sewing!  I was actually able to think it through so I didn’t have to switch out my thread any more than necessary.  Amazing!  I sewed the white street signs first, then the white triangle onto the red one.  Next I put the velcro on the traffic light and circles; first green, then yellow and finally red.  The yield and stop signs were next.  And last but not least, the orange traffic light.  For it I actually left the top open, that way the colors that weren’t being used on the traffic light could be stored inside.  Stroke of genius!  I made sure to reinforce the stitch a couple of times on each side of the top so it wouldn’t get pulled up.  Then the last step was to put the words on the street signs with puffy paint.  It’s times like this that I wish I had better handwriting, that’s for sure.

quiet-book-road-traffic-lightFinally, after all of that procrastination, the road pages were FINISHED!  And I was pretty happy the way I ended up doing it.  I think it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself!

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