The Original Quiet Book, Part Three

Almost finished with J’s original quiet book, I promise!  Just this post and then one more.  You can check out parts one and two for more ideas!

Super easy one:  bead counting.quiet-book-counting-pageI got the idea from here.  I have a huge thing of beads so this was a great way to use them up.  I also added her name since I have a bunch of letter beads as well.  I don’t think she ever really played with it, but I can’t remember for sure.  Either way she’s been past that one for quite awhile now.  It’ll go into C’s book for sure.

Money page next.  Another one of my favorites!! quiet-book-money-page-3 quiet-book-money-page-2 quiet-book-money-page-1Once again it’s easy to tell that I used this blog for my inspiration, haha.  I really didn’t have any creativity when making this first book!  Although I did add something completely different that I didn’t see anywhere else:  the money sorting pockets at the bottom.  The downside to those, however, is that the money doesn’t actually stay in there.  Yet another time when I should’ve used velcro or snaps or something.  Fortunately it can be stored in the pig instead.  I also should have reinforced the slot where the money goes in.  Like by making it an actual buttonhole!

This is another one that J never really played with and once again I’m not sure why.  I think that I’ll just move it over into a new quiet book for her though.  She’ll start understanding money a lot more in the next couple of years and this would be a great learning tool!  I just need to see if I can hot glue some velcro to the money pockets.

This one makes me shudder every time I look at it.  Great idea in theory but the end result just didn’t turn out well.  A Walk the Dog page.


quiet-book-original-dog-page-1I used this post for the idea but made my dog a bit differently, opting for his whole body instead of just his head.  I picked up the leash and collar from the dollar store.  I sewed the collar down so it could still open and close but couldn’t be taken off the whole way.  I trimmed the leash waaaaay down, made a loop for the handle and added velcro to attach it to the page.

This is another one that I don’t think J ever used.  It’s also going in the garbage just because I can’t stand the way it turned out.  I made one for Nolan’s quiet book, modeled to look like their dog Stetson.  I think it turned out much better and would make something similar to go into C’s book.  You can read all about how I made that page here.


Next up:  Goodnight House!  Another one that I really like.  quiet-book-page-goodnight-house-2 quiet-book-page-goodnight-house-1Finally, a completely original idea!  I thought it would be really cute to have a page where she could put everyone in the family “to bed”.  I printed off our heads and attached them to cardstock bodies.  I printed off something similar to our pjs and pasted them on top.  Then I laminated the whole thing.  This is before I got my super cool laminator and was just using those sheets you can buy and just stick together yourself.  Hence why they look a bit funny.  I then glued them onto popsicle sticks.

I cut out 6 rectangles in different fabrics for our beds, folded the raw edges in, sewed the top down and then attached them to the house.  For the house I sewed on a white fabric square and red fabric triangle (obviously my measuring skills were a bit off since the roof is smaller than the house LOL!).  I added a moon and done!  Unfortunately the popsicle sticks never stayed in very well.  The pockets need to be deeper and wider (in order to fit our fat heads).  Either that or they need to be stored in a separate pocket somewhere.  I could probably add a zipper to one of the sides of the house for storage.  I don’t actually have to redo this page yet (since we’ll have three kids but only two dogs so the number of beds is good.  One of us will just have to sleep in the dog print blanket 😉 ), but I do need to update/fix the people.  Poor C doesn’t have a head since he wasn’t even born when I made this page, haha!

Okay, check out Part Four next week for the final installment!


Worth the wait. And the drive.

After our Saint Bernard Jack passed away unexpectedly our house was a sad place for awhile.saint-bernard

It was the first time in our married life (almost 9 years!!) that we didn’t have at least one dog roaming around.  Hubby wanted to get another dog immediately.  I wasn’t too keen on it–I needed time to grieve.  I didn’t want to replace him right away.  But a few days after Jack’s passing I came home with the kids after Hubby had just finished giving the house its weekly scrub down.  His eyes were all red, and when asked he said he must’ve gotten some cleaner in them.  Later, while the kids were taking their nap, he confessed that he had actually been crying.  Cleaning had depressed him because there weren’t any huge balls of Jackson fur or long strings of Jackson drool.  The house wasn’t destroyed 5 minutes after it was cleaned because the dirty dog walked across the floor.  I knew I needed to start my search right away.

I already knew that I wanted another Giant dog.  After our first dog together passed away a few years back, a Lab mix named Dutch, we I decided Jack was lonely and needed another dog.  Hubby put his foot down and said we were only going to own one dog over 100 pounds and I reluctantly agreed.  After a lot of research we finally decided on a Greyhound.  They seemed like the perfect breed for our family:  lazy, little shedding, calm, good with kids.  We applied to a rescue, were approved and picked up our retired racer.  Moody was 2 1/2 years old when we adopted him and a wonderful dog.greyhound-st-bernard

Except for one huge problem:  he peed in the house.  Constantly.  Not because he needed to, but, as we later realized, because he was stressed and/or pissed off at us.  A dog who doesn’t like change does not fit in well with a military family.  We did the best we could but after trying and trying for 2 and a half years, we finally had to return him to his rescue.  That was a year ago and I still feel like crap every time I think about it.  The only thing that got me through it was knowing that the dog wasn’t happy with our constantly changing lifestyle.  If he was happy he wouldn’t be peeing on everything.  It was what was best for him…he would’ve been miserable for the rest of his life if he had stayed with us.

The worst thing about giving Moody up was our daughter.  J LOVED Moody.  He didn’t drool or slobber; he was calm; he didn’t shed; he didn’t have stinky breath.  Basically he was the antitheses of Jackson (whom she disliked as much as she liked Moody).  greyhoundSo we did what any responsible parent would do:  we told her he died.  She did not take it well.

As horrible as it is to give a dog back to the rescue, we did learn a few valuable lessons.  One:  we need a dog who can accept change.  Who can move from one house to another without batting an eye.  Who can travel to our parents’ homes with us.  Who can go on vacation.  We like to take our dog(s) everywhere with us and we need a dog that wants to go.  Two:  I wanted a Giant dog.  Although Moody was a great dog, he didn’t have that dumb personality that Gentle Giants do.  The dum-da-dum-da-dum-da-dum running through their brain…and not much else.  But smart at the same time.  Plus there’s just something about a dog that weighs more than you do!  I don’t know, I can’t describe it.  I’m just a big dog girl.

So this was where we started to run into some problems.  Hubby wanted to look into some other breeds.  He really didn’t care what kind of dog we got at all…anything would do.  I, on the other hand, had something very specific in mind.  And it had to be at least 100 pounds.  I was on petfinder and adoptapet constantly.  I searched for giant rescues, St Bernard rescues, mastiff rescues, you name it, I looked.  At first I only applied to places that had a specific dog that I was interested in.  And then I realized that not only does it take 4-5 weeks just for the application to be processed, but we have a lot of red flags.

We have children under the age of 5.  Even though we’ve had dogs and children, and both at the same time, a lot of rescues won’t adopt out to families with young children at home.  Especially Giant breed dogs.

We’re military.  A lot of rescues are leery of adopting out dogs to military families.  This one I kind of understand.  There are way too many families out there who give their dog up the moment they move.  They don’t even try to find a place to live.  However, and this is a big however, we had our St. Bernard for seven years.  He lived in seven states with us.  The only time we had a major problem finding a place to rent that would allow a 165 pound dog we just bought a home instead.  Giving up a dog because we can’t find somewhere to live is not an option for us, and our past track record proves that.  So the places that declined our application for this reason really pissed me off.

We’ve given a dog back to a rescue.

By the time we reached 3 weeks without a dog, I just started applying to any type of large dog rescue figuring that on the off chance they received a dog we were interested in at least we’d already be approved.  5 weeks into the search I started broadening my horizons, thinking maybe I didn’t need a giant dog.  I started looking at Dalmatians, American Bulldogs, Catahoula Leopard Mixes…all kinds of stuff.  But nothing seemed to fit.  Nothing screamed “this is my dog”.  I just couldn’t own some tiny 90 pound dog (yes, I realize what I just said.  It’s the truth!!!!).

And then I saw this guy.neapolitan-mastiff-1

Oh my God that FACE!!!!!!!!!!  I had to have him.  A 2-3 year old male Neapolitan Mastiff named Roman.  I had already put an application into East Coast Gentle Giants, the rescue that had him; I was just waiting on my approval.  Which was fine, because he was new the rescue and still “under evaluation”.  Downside?  He was located in Troy, NY…8 hours from us.  And this particular rescue will not transport their dogs; you have to get them.  No exceptions.

And this was farther than Hubby was willing to travel.  He was a no-go.

So I continued my search.  But Roman was the only dog that I had seen anywhere that I just had to have.  Immediately.  I felt nothing for any of the other dogs.  At the 7 week mark we finally received the confirmation that we were approved to rescue from East Coast.  By this point Hubby and I were both dejected.  We didn’t think we would ever find a dog that we could both agree on.  After receiving the approval I showed him Roman’s picture again.  And this time he said, “You know what?  F*ck the 8 hours.  I want him too.”

And that was that.  2 weeks later we drove to Troy, NY and picked up our dog.neapolitan-mastiff-2

That was a month ago and we are still in love.  He is such a ham.  He loves to be with his people.  This is him his first and second day with us.  Things haven’t changed at all.neapolitan-mastiff-8neapolitan-mastiff-3

And the third night he’s on the coffee table because that was the “fastest” way to get from Hubby to myself–over the coffee table.  He was stuck up there for about 5 minutes before the chicken sh*t would jump off.neapolitan-mastiff-7

And this is where I find him every day when I come back to the house after leaving for a bit.  Curled up in a tiny ball on “his” chair.neapolitan-mastiff-4

He is the perfect dog for us.  He’s tough as nails and nothing the kids (or us) do to him bothers him in the slightest.  He is super smart.  We had a dog trainer come out for a private lesson and within 10 minutes he learned all kinds of commands.  We’re taking him to obedience school and he has made lightyears of progress.  He’s lazy.  He doesn’t shed.  He doesn’t smell.  He’s sweet.  He’s big enough for me (he’s currently 115 pounds but is about 20-30 pounds underweight so he’s nearly perfect 😉 ).  He’s a family dog.

We picked him up two days after my son’s first birthday and we couldn’t have gotten C a better birthday present.  He loves that dog and that dog loves him.  neapolitan-mastiff-5Especially at mealtime.  neapolitan-mastiff-10

The only problem?  J.  I don’t know if you noticed in the picture from the day we picked him up from his foster family, but she wasn’t too keen on him.  And still isn’t.neapolitan-mastiff-6

Part of it is jealousy.  It’s yet another thing that’s taking attention away from her.  (She was an only child for waaaaaaaay too long!).  And since he’s such a big guy on family, he always wants to be in the middle of the action.  Especially when we’re sitting on the couch or playing on the floor.  Another big part of it is how drooly he is.  She hates dog kisses.  And although Roman doesn’t dole out kisses, he has a constant string of drool running from his from his mouth.  Like a long disgusting one.  It even grosses me out.  She’s starting to do a bit better…I think we’ve moved from hatred to dislike…that’s progress….right?!

Not only did we end up with the perfect dog, but I discovered something else.   Once Hubby is out of the army and we’re settled somewhere I want to start a rescue.  A rescue that doesn’t immediately discriminate from a family because of a line on an adoption application.  A rescue that will at least talk to the family before rejecting them.  We turned in 20 dog applications and were only approved by 2 rescues.  What is that?!  People preach and preach about rescuing a dog and not going to a breeder, but when it’s that difficult to adopt a dog no wonder people get discouraged and go a different route!  We were dead set against a puppy and 100% positive that we were going to adopt, but around the 6 week mark we were so discouraged that we started considering it.  And we are great dog owners.  We should not have had this many problems finding a dog.  And I’m going to make sure that there’s at least one rescue out there that doesn’t discriminate against people for the silliest things.  Someday.

We were so frustrated by the search and felt so depressed and rejected…but it was all for a reason.  It was because he was waiting for us.  Now our family is whole again.neapolitan-mastiff-11


It’s a Party! A Big Dog Party!

So C turned one last week 🙁  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about it…but as all mothers can relate, it’s bittersweet!  Especially since I look at him now and he just looks older.  He’s not this itty bitty baby anymore…he’s turning into a true toddler.  He just looks so big!  And that’s saying a lot since he’s in the 5th percentile for height and isn’t even on the charts for weight, haha!

Hubby is currently stationed in Virginia, so we’re about 5 hours from my hometown in Pennsylvania.  Since it’s rare for us to be so close I figured I would have C’s 1st birthday party up there so they could join in the celebration.  Since we were in Kansas when J turned 1 and none of our family members could make it out, I decided to take advantage of it and throw the exact same birthday party for C as I did for J:  dogs!

I used the same Etsy seller, PlanB Designs, for C’s invitation:Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-InvitationThe food was served in dog bowls I picked up from the Dollar Tree for J’s party 4 years ago.Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Food-1To drink I whipped up Belle of the Kitchen‘s absolutely delicious Watermelon Lemonade (which was a huge hit!  I doubled the recipe and all of it was gone by the time the party was over!).  To eat we had Puppy Chow (just the recipe off of the back of the cereal box.  No reason to mess with perfection 😉 ),Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Food-2raw carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers and broccoli with Vegetable Dill DipDog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Food-3and strawberries, watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe with Fruit Dip (easiest recipe ever:  just two ingredients!).  I used a dog bone cookie cutter to cut the watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew to match the theme!

We also served hot dogs with all of the fixin’s.

Having experience with decorating cupcakes that didn’t go so well in the past, I wanted to stick with something simple.  I found this cute pin for dog cupcakes and did my best to replicate it.Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Cupcakes-1I didn’t want to decorate them all the same, so I found a second pin that I liked, this one.  This replication didn’t turn out nearly as well.  Sigh.  Serves me right for trying to make things more complicated than necessary. Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Cupcakes-2Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Cupcakes-3But these cupcakes still turned out loads better than the ones I decorated for J’s Farm Birthday Party when she turned 2.J-Farm-Birthday-Theme-CupcakesI still shudder every time I look at that picture.  They looked so easy!!

Since I learned that C really wasn’t into cake at his Cake Smash photo shoot I kept this cake simple.  I used a box cake mix and canned frosting.  I still made it in the 6 inch cake pan I have, but I used a giant dog bone cookie cutter so it was about half the size of the last cake.  I threw some frosting on top, outlined the bone with a store bought tube of icing, stuck the candle in, and voila, fini!

Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Cake-1Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Cake-2Try to ignore the frosting that’s everywhere on the plate.  Not only am I not a master cake decorate (obviously), but I’m also an insanely messy cook/baker.

I kept the decorations pretty simple.  I bought tablecloths, silverware and plates from the Dollar Tree in dark blue, bright blue and teal to match the invitation colors.  I also picked up a bag of balloons from there and blew up just the matching colors.Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Decor-2I used my amazing Silhouette to cut large dog bones out of dark blue, bright blue, teal and lime green cardstock to match my colors.  I also had it cut out all of the letters for “Happy Birthday Carter” and “One” out of the same cardstock colors.  I peeled the letters off, glued a letter onto a dog bone, punched two holes in the top and weaved balloon string through the holes to make the two banners.Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Decor-4There was a random balloon-animal-type balloon in the bag, so my sister had the brilliant idea to blow it up and form it into the letter C!  Loved it!Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Decor-5

The party was held in my father’s garage.  Super long story, but basically the garage is bigger than the house they live in.  And even though there’s a ton of space inside, at the end of the day it’s still a garage, which means it’s not exactly ideal for pictures.  To help remedy that we hung up an extra tablecloth on the bay door and laid down an orange blanket I happened to find that matched his birthday outfit perfectly!  We figured he could do his cake smash and open presents there.  That way the pictures wouldn’t look as bad.

Final touch:  helium birthday balloons from Party City tied to some Kongs as a centerpiece.  Even though I paid the extra 15 cents for helium for 18-36 hours, the teal balloon only made it about 10 hours before it bit it.  I paid $1.35 plus tax for that one balloon…I was going to display it dammit!Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Decor-3The centerpieces for J’s dog party were much nicer.  I picked up dog toys and rawhides from the Dollar Tree, but I just didn’t care enough this time around to go into that much detail.Dog-Theme-Birthday-Party-Decor-1

I also cut out a “1” from posterboard and taped a bunch of pictures from C’s first year.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find anywhere good to hang it, so I ended up just leaving it laying on one of the tables.  Whoops.

Party time!

C 1st birthday party presents 1C 1st birthday party presents 2C-1st-birthday-party-dog-theme

And the cake smash went MUCH better this time.  Figures, the little sh*t!

1st-birthday-party-cake-smash-4 1st-birthday-party-cake-smash-7 1st-birthday-party-cake-smash-8 1st-birthday-party-cake-smash

The only bad part?  C got his first fat lip 🙁

C Fat Lip

Other than that, the party was a success!  Woof woof!

Quiet book finished

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.


Pocket page with vehicles parked inside.


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.


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.


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.

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.

Matching balloonsquiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-finished-2

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

Quiet Book Dog Page

Hey, I made the best copycat dog that I could, okay??

Another popular quiet book page is one revolving around a dog.  Kids love dogs, especially when they have one.  Nolan fits this generalization to a tee–he adores his dog, Stetson.  I knew Amanda wanted a dog page and I had yet another stroke of brilliance–I would make it look like Stetson!

I’ve done a dog page previously for one of J’s quiet book pages.  It looked like this:


I decided to start there.  I liked the fact that the collar could be buckled and unbuckled and the leash could snap on and off.  I did not like the dog itself at all.  Fortunately that part didn’t matter since I was going to make him look like Stetson instead.  Next, I checked out Amanda’s quiet book board on Pinterest to see what she had found.  She had two dog-related pins on there, this one and this one.  I liked the idea of putting stuff in the dog’s mouth like in the first pin, and doing the dog from the neck up like in the second one.  Finally I went to my BFFs, Pinterest and Google images, and typed in “dog quiet book page” to see what else I could find.  Nothing caught my attention, which meant that I was going to have to come up with the specifics on my own.  Boo.

Since I liked the idea of being able to put things in the dog’s mouth I decided to start there.  Hmmm, what else could the dog have besides food?  Oh!  A tennis ball!  And a little toy!  And since I wasn’t going to have a bowl like my inspiration pin, I opted to do a bone instead of food.

Next issue:  making the dog.  So here’s a picture of Stetson:


Interesting looking isn’t he?  I had absolutely no idea how to go about making him.  So I decided to procrastinate and make the accessories first.  I cut a small circle out of yellow felt for the ball, a bone from white felt, and sewed velcro in the corresponding colors onto the back.  I added lines on the ball with white puffy paint so it would resemble a tennis ball.  For the dog toy I cut two blobs out of some textured blue fabric.  I sewed a piece of blue velcro onto one, pinned them right sides together and sewed around the edges, leaving a hole on one side to stuff it.  I wanted to make it squeak like an actual dog toy, but although I could’ve swore I saved the squeakers out of old dog toys before throwing them out, I couldn’t find them anywhere.  So instead I took a piece of clear cellophane and shoved that inside the “toy” along with a small handful of polyfil.  Doesn’t squeak, but at least it makes a bit of noise when you push on it.  I folded the raw edges inside of the toy and then sewed that together.  C’est fini!


When I made my previous dog page I cut about a foot off of a Dollar Tree leash from where the clasp was since I didn’t need the entire 4 feet in the book.  So I took the remainder that I had stowed away, along with a red D-ring clasp (I had a pack of 6 that I saw at the Dollar Tree or the Dollar Spot at Target and picked it up, figuring I would find a use for them someday!).  I folded the top part of the leash down to make a loop big enough for the “owner’s” hand to hold it and sewed it together.  Then I made a much smaller loop on the other end, just big enough for the D-ring to slide through and sewed that side down as well.  Finally, I sewed a piece of red velcro on the back in the middle.  I didn’t want to place the pieces on the page until I had my dog done, which meant switching my thread out 4 extra times (once for each color of velcro).  But oh well.


Okay, time to stop procrastinating the dog.  I knew that I had some fake-fur-type material that I had picked up when it was on clearance awhile back.  I was planning on making Stetson out of that, but it just wasn’t working out.  Not only was the fabric more black than grey, I also needed something to break it up.  I looked through my fabric and found some remnants of a grey towel I had used to make J’s hooded shark towel.  I figured that was the best I was going to be able to do.  Next, I needed a template to use for his face.  There was absolutely no way that I could make that up on my own.  Since Stetson is a mixed breed it seemed like the best that I was going to get was the schnauzer pictured in my second inspiration pin so I searched Google for a schnauzer template and came up with this one.  That would have to do!  I opened it up in my Silhouette program, sized it so it would fit on my page (leaving room for the dog accessories), and printed out the pieces.  I pinned them onto my fabric and cut them out.  I had to freehand the neck.  Okay, now he needed some eyes (black felt circles sewed onto white felt circles), a nose (a black felt circle) and a tongue (pink felt with a small patch of white velcro).  The last time I was at the Dollar Tree I had picked up the smallest dog collar they had, so now I dug that out and positioned it on.  Good as he was going to get!  

I sewed it all down.  I started with the grey towel.  Since those things shed worse than my Saint Bernard, I used a zigzag stitch all around it hoping to keep the raw edges from fraying a bit.  I did the eyes, nose and tongue next.  For the tongue I only sewed the top of it down (the straight edge), that way it comes up off of the page.  Next I put all of the fuzzy black pieces on.  They fell apart quite a bit when I was cutting and manipulating them so I have a feeling they’re going to make a huge mess someday in the future.  This quiet book won’t be in my house though, so I’m fine with it ;-).  Lastly, the collar.  To sew it down I unclasped it and laid it flat on the dog’s neck, open.  I sewed the entire back down.  That way Nolan can clasp and unclasp the collar, opening it up.  I was a bit worried about getting through it, but I always keep a heavy-duty denim needle in my sewing machine since I sew through a lot of thick materials and had no problems at all.  I just took it nice and slow!


Now just the finishing touches!  I figured out where the toys were going to go and sewed the corresponding color of velcro in the correct places.  And that’s it!  Another page done!