Friday, October 30, 2009

You Don't Say Saturday (on Friday)

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.
- Buddha

We had an unexpected girl's night this evening, just Julia and Mommy. She had me in stitches most of the night. She doesn't miss a thing and is always singing or humming something. Tonight it was O Christmas Tree and The Thankful song from Veggie Tales.

I used to think I wanted her to stay a little for as long as possible, but I'm learning that the older she gets the closer we get. She and I are a lot alike and while our stubborn streaks can get in the way sometimes, I wouldn't trade the snuggles, the story times, the hide and seek games, and the joy of watching her get excited about her latest dinosaur coloring page for anything!
Veggie Tales is almost over so it's time to go upstairs and sit in her room. She'll bring her blanket and puppy over to the chair and I'll sing Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle, Jesus Loves Me, and Come Into My Heart.

There isn't any place in the world I'd rather be or any other songs I'd rather sing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The letter H

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! I created this carnival as a way to record the little things my kids do. The special occasions get enough attention in photographs, blog posts, and storytelling. These keepsake book pages are meant to take a closer look at the ordinary and every day moments of childhood. Some day we will look back on all the little things and realize they were really the big things.

This is the second time through the alphabet for me and some of my readers and
I can't tell you how exciting it is to have a completed Alphabitty Moments book under my belt! This project is a labor of love and so much more than a blog carnival. I put the final touches on Sam's book just in time for the Best Book contest.

Even if you were following along the last time and saw all of my pages each week, you'll still want to go here and view the book in it's entirety. I added extra pages to the beginning and the end. The forward explains the meaning and purpose of the book and includes one of the pictures from the original little things post that inspired the project in the first place. At the end of the book I added a section called "the itty bitty details". As the author I know why I picked each word and photograph for the book, but years from now I want Sam to know the reasons.

If you would take the time to vote for my book in the contest I would be SO grateful! I am hovering in the top 20-25 (out of 1,400+ entries!) and even one vote makes all the difference and shoots me to 17-19the place. (Ultimately I need to get to the top 15 to make it to the final round where I will be eligible for the $3,000 prize)

All you have to do is click on the badge below and register with Blurb if you don't already have an account. It takes one minute to enter your email, pick a unique username, and a password. Click on the little box to avoid getting emails from blurb and then you are eligible to vote for my book. (You can only vote for my book one time.)

With one book down I am even more motivated to complete the others and have the final copies in our home to enjoy. (Sam's will arrive tomorrow via FedEx - YEAH!!!!!!) This round I am focusing on Julia's book and I chose Holding Hands for the letter H. Already she is showing her desire to do things herself and doesn't like to hold my hand as often so I'm really glad I took this picture of us walking to the park two Springs ago. Is there anything better than a chubby little hand tucked safely in your hand?

Now it's your turn to share an Alphabitty Moment from your kid(s), either in a scrapbook page or by posting photographs to your blog.....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First and Last

Her first day of soccer.

Her last day of soccer.....until next year when she's a little older.

Book contest update: I'm currently in 17th place - only two away from making it into the final round! That's HUGE people and I have YOU to thank for it! This isn't the typical set up for only vote one time. You DO need to have a blurb account, but you can opt out of the email notifications which means all you have to do is put your email, a unique user name, and a password and then you are a registered voter.

First and Last

Her first day of soccer.

Her last day of soccer.....until next year when she's a little older.

Book contest update: I'm currently in 17th place - only two away from making it into the final round! That's HUGE people and I have YOU to thank for it! This isn't the typical set up for only vote one time. You DO need to have a blurb account, but you can opt out of the email notifications which means all you have to do is put your email, a unique user name, and a password and then you are a registered voter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Journey through Nepal

I'm more than a little behind in my blogging both personally and professionally. It was bound to happen seeing as I have four blogs and three jobs. But who's counting right? One of the book projects I was working on this summer was unlike any I'd ever done before. Jenn was a missionary in Nepal for two years. She blogged about her journey and spiritual grown at Lightbulb in a Darkness. Sometimes it felt like I was right there with her with her descriptive and honest account of being an 'm' in a Hindu country. By the time I finished her 399 page book, I definitely felt like I had been there with her! Take a peak at the album she'll be taking with her as she travels around to churches and talks about her Journey with Jesus. (clicking on each images will make them easier to see)

I had so much fun showcasing some of her amazing photographs!

The Nepalese script in the next picture translates to "Jenn & Jesus Journey Through Nepal"

While she was on the other side of the world she was able to do some traveling...these are a couple pages from Europe:

More Nepalese script...Isn't it amazing that she can read that?

To view all 399 pages you can visit my bookstore.

The variety of the books I work on is definitely a perk of my job as a book designer. A couple of weeks ago I finished a book for a talented artist in Florida. Bill was a joy to work with and I found myself always calling PapaBear over to take a look at the paintings I was putting in a gallery catalog. "Look how REAL this looks!" I would say. Seriously, I was in awe and that was before I saw the impressive list of his accomplishments.

I will put a version of this post up on my design site, but I wanted to write about it here too since it is such a big part of our lives right now. I say "our" because it is an time consuming job that has kept me from spending the time with my kids that I want BUT the silver lining in that is PapaBear has been bonding with the kids in such a special way. I love that when he's with the kids I don't have to feel guilty about working. (That doesn't stop me from letting guilt creep in, but I'm working on that.)

I'm off to prepare for a wedding I'm photographing tomorrow....have a great weekend everyone and thanks for voting for my Alphabitty Moments book! I am currently in 20 place for the family category. (The top 15 get to go on to round 2)

Would you help me win $3000?

I would be forever grateful!

From what I can tell you can only vote once. There is a public voting time (until Nov. 9th) and then the top 15 books move to the judging round. Thanks for taking the time to do this for me! If you don't know the story behind the title of the book, you can read more about it here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The letter G

Welcome back to Alphabitty Moments! I have been hosting this carnival since the end of February without a week off, until I took a break last week. I've finished 3 books week so we could go on vacation after the campground closed on the 18th, but bronchitis took up residence in our home and we had to stay home. We're on the mend now and I'm getting a little more caught up with my blogging. I was able to publish my first Alphabitty Moments book in time to enter the Best Blurb Book contest that I'll post more about tomorrow when the voting begins. It felt so good to finish a book that I'd been working on for so long! Wanna sneak peak? Click here to see it online in my bookstore (You can now see the WHOLE thing thanks to's upgrade)

Now back to the new book and the new software from I chose gingerbread house for the letter G. It's a fun family project that we look forward to every year. I try not to make sure it's perfect, but that the kids have fun. (It's hard though!) I love that they like to help - they may not always be up for it since it's a long process. We keep ours up until the snow melts so we have months and months to look at it up on the bookcase. Do you make a gingerbread house at your house?

OH! I have one more question before I go back to counting pages for three new blog book projects....Does anyone know how to make pictures bigger in blogger? I know how to do it using photobucket, but I can't take the time to do an outside hosting site and it makes turning my blog into a book a HUGE pain. Huge. I would have to go into photobucket and get each picture for the posts rather than have them embedded when I import my blog to booksmart. I am hoping that someone knows what to change the numbers in the code after I've uploaded the pictures to blogger. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meet The Bear Family

Welcome to BearCountry! I'm the MamaBear of the family. I used to spend my days as a stay at home mom, but God is using the talents he bestowed on me to provide for our family during these hard economic times. I design blog books and photograph families, seniors, and weddings. These two jobs keep me busy 30-40 hours a week, but that's not all that's going on around here. PapaBear and I are the caretakers of BearCountry (in exchange for our housing) and that means we are on duty 24/7. Those three jobs put food on the table, but my most important job is Mom to the cutest cubs around.

How do I juggle all these responsibilities? To be honest, most days I drop at least one ball. Thankfully His mercies are new every morning and I have a wonderful, supportive, and understanding husband.
I've given up trying to live a balanced life - instead I'm striving to live a {Christ} centered life.

PapaBear is the reason food makes it to the table - he cooks he cleans and best of all - he's an amazing father. We've been married 8 years now. If you like to read love stories - here's ours.

SisterBear is our three year old cub who loves stuffed animals, dinosaurs, almond milk, fruits and veggies, and playing zoo with Daddy. She gives the best hugs!

Have you ever seen such dark blue eyes? Oh how I love my sweet BrotherBear! His growl sounds more like a dinosaur roar these days. He prefers velociraptors and their 'funky' claws but will rattle off the names of 20 others if you ask him. When he's not coloring, he's looking at books or snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie.

Is there still a {blog} frog in the BearCountry pond?

Due to some changes to the layout of my design (Thanks again Tricia for you speedy and mind reading work!) I no longer have the Blog Frog widget in my sidebar. Actually I don't have sidebars anymore, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the opportunity to participate in my community discussions and contests (Have you entered the Meet & Greet contest yet?)

And while I'm talking about the Blog Frog I've been meaning to mention their new Premium Membership. If you are looking for a one stop shop for insight, advice, and inspiration in regards to all things 'mommy blogging' - look no further! (No, I'm not getting paid to say this - I am simply part of core group of bloggers who have provided feedback to the fine folks at the Blog Frog)

So yes, there IS still a frog in our pond and now there are two ways to find that frog:
1) Scroll down to the bottom of my blog
2) click on Blog Frog in the navigation bar which will bring you to this post where I will have the widgets embedded.

This blogging adventure has allowed me to meet some wonderful people all over the world - Thank you to all my readers who have helped make BearCountry that much more enjoyable!

Wordless Wednesday - Crashin' & Bashin' - Every Birthday Boy's Dream

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 2009 - By the Numbers

3 - # of cases of bronchitis this month
2 - # of different antibiotics we've tried
9 - # of chiropractic adjustments
1 - # of canceled vacations
58 - # of cough drops consumed
45 - # of tea bags brewed
3 - # of trips to the doctor
102 - # of flies/Asian beetles we've vacuumed up
2 - # of decent Fall days
10 - # on the calendar when it snowed
4 - # of days we've had snow
21 - # on the thermometer on the coldest night of the month
3 - # of inches of snow we've had
12 - # on the calendar when we took our Christmas card picture
2 - # of books I've made so far this month (3 more to go before November)
10 - # of years it's been since I graduated from college
5 - # of chili's entered in this year's chili cook-off contest
0 - # of chili's we got to sample
5 - # of hours I napped on Friday
13 - # of hours I slept Friday night
3 - # of books I read over the weekend
40 - # of tomatoes that froze in my garden
15 - # of campers that cancelled their reservation for camping last weekend
3 - # of followers until I reach the 200 mark
2 - # of things I still need to send to blogging friends
3 - # of Halloween costumes I still need to figure out

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - She sleeps. in a laundry basket. that she got into the crib by herself. but without climbing out of the crib to get it

I didn't believe it either and I took these pictures!

****and in case you didn't see my tweet from yesterday, there won't be an alphabitty moments post this week. We'll be back next week with the letter G.******

Friday, October 9, 2009

"How to make a dinosaur applique shirt"

That's the phrase I Googled in various forms the week before Julia's birthday. I had been thinking about what the kids were going to wear to the day we celebrated October birthdays in our house and being on a tight budget, making something was the obvious choice.

I considered freezer paper stencils but the cost of the supplies, though not all that high, was higher than the cost of some thread a little fabric and some fusible interfacing. I came across Jessie's post about applique and she was kind enough to direct me to this site which does a great job of walking you through the process of applique and what supplies you need.

It does SUCH a great job that there isn't a need for me to go through all the steps again, but I wanted to talk a bit about the things I learned along the way.

First step. Go to Walmart.
In their craft section is a rack of fabrics that are trendy, cute, and don't overwhelm a person like the fabric store can. I grabbed a few squares (they wrap 18x21 inch pieces of fabric around cardboard squares and sell them for $1 a piece) and then headed off to find plain t-shirts.

It helps to have a general idea of what kind of dinosaur you want to make - I knew Julia's would be a long neck and Sam's would be a T-Rex. Once I scoped out the shirt selection it was easier to narrow down which fabric I would use. The swirls in Julia's fabric reminded me of the texture I imagine dinosaurs might have had. I positioned the pattern over the material so one of the dots would look like an eye....but I'm getting ahead of myself....

Back to the craft section....Look for the fusible webbing
Like the tutorial says, buy the lite kind. UNLESS you are not going to stitch the edges of the shirt. I did NOT need to buy anything to keep the needle moving - that wasn't ever a problem for me. I bought the smallest package of lite webbing for $1.97. I will be able to make at least 4 more shirts with the leftovers.

Pick out thread.
Unless you are an experienced seamstress I would stick to a thread color that matches the background color of the fabric you picked out. When in doubt get a darker color. Be sure to purchase a standard thread (avoid heavy duty thread). I know this from experience.

As much as I hated to wash a brand new shirt, the fusible webbing directions (and my mom) said that I should. Don't forget to wash the fabric pieces too! When they are dry you will need to iron everything flat again. While you are prewashing you can get started on the next step.

Draw a pattern.
Again I turned to Google for examples of dinosaurs. "dinosaur stencils" was the biggest help. It also helped to look at online stores that sell applique shirts for inspiration. If I hadn't done that I probably would have positioned Sam's T-Rex at the bottom edge of the shirt when in reality, it looks better up a little bit don't you think?

The simpler the better is important when designing your pattern. I tried to think of what a cartoon dinosaur would look like so the bulk of the dinosaur was a big as possible. Why is this? So more of the cute material can be used and the stitching is easier.

I drew my dinosaurs on heavy card stock and then confirmed that the scale was correct for the size T-shirts I was using. The tail on Julia's long neck wraps around the back of her shirt, but I drew it on a separate piece of paper and then taped it to the body before I cut out the pattern.

Fuse the webbing to the wrong side of the material for 2 seconds with your iron set to silk.
The directions for using fusible webbing are very easy to understand from the few steps on the package.

Then tape the pattern on the right side of the fabric
This isn't rocket science.
I used circles of painters tape that held it well enough.

Cut out the dinosaur following the edge of your paper
(but not actually cutting the paper). It's important to use very sharp scissors for this step - ones that haven't ever cut paper. I don't own sewing scissors, but had an unopened package of kid's scissors that worked like a charm.

Remove the cardstock pattern and the paper part of the fusible webbing.

Slide your T-shirt onto your ironing board and lay flat. Position the dinosaur onto the shirt and iron the fabric/interfacing onto the shirt. (again on Silk setting) I was horrified when I lifted the iron after the first section of Julia's shirt to discover that I had an iron print on fabric, but I just ironed the whole shirt and nobody knew that the shirt was a touch brighter to begin with. Disaster averted!

If you are going to stitch the edge of your design I suggest practicing on an old T-shirt first to get the feel of feeding such a stretchy fabric through the machine. It also helps determine how wide of a zig-zag stitch you want.

Start stitching in an inconspicuous spot on the shirt
Keep feeding the fabric through. This is a get the feel for it kind of step that I can't describe in words. You just have to go for it! In general you want the needle to go into the T-shirt material as close to the edge of the cute fabric as possible. One stitch in the fabric, one in the T-shirt and so on and so forth....

I have not sewn anything in years and very much consider myself a beginner. The only frustrating part of the whole thing for me was when the first brown thread I tried messed up the tension on the machine. Lesson learned.

And as I told a friend recently, the little imperfections give it character!

If you prefer to add character with embellishments instead, add buttons or give felt a try.
I love the teeth on Sam's shirt (made* with white felt). If I could do it again, I would have made the mouth wider so more of the blue fabric showed through. Sam agreed with me saying, "Mom, how come his mouth isn't open really wide?"

*I didn't use fusible webbing on the teeth. They were placed under the fabric when it was time to iron the material onto the shirt. On it's own, that isn't enough to hold the heavier 'material' onto the shirt, but once it was stitched in place it was strong enough.

Try on your little dinosaur lover and away you go!
Or in my case, put on Julia for 5 minutes and then promptly remove it because she was about to eat spaghetti. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Alphabitty Momments - The letter F

Welcome to this weeks installment of Alphabitty Moments! This project is a way to record some of the little things our kids do so we can look back years from now and be transported back to a time when our kids wore footie pajamas & asked questions and were curious about every little thing.

This week I chose Farm. At least a couple times a year we go to PapaBear's cousin's farm. Julia always wears gingham. Sam always wears red. Every time. (Yes, my neurotic tendencies for good photos rears it's ugly head on those days). There are many photos to choose from after 4 years of visits but these three represent some of the highlights. We always start in the cow barn where we greet the kitties. Then it's further inside to see the calves. We usually startle the chickens on our way to feed the pigs next. Sometimes there are tractors to ride or Bobcats to drive. I grew up on a horse farm so a dairy farm is new ground for me. The kids love it and we love teaching them about where their food comes from.

In June we were able to spend a day at the farm with cousins who were visiting from Denver. Fun times! Someday it will probably take more than cows, chickens, pigs, and kitties to impress my kids, but until then we will enjoy the look of wonder on their faces as they explore the farm.

Before you link up your alphabitty moment for the week be sure to stop by and congratulate Latoya over at Christian Momma who won the $50 gift card. Congrats Latoya! (Send me an email at 4 the love of family (at) gmail. com to claim your prize)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Have you heard the Good News?

The Jesus Storybook Bible is coming out as a deluxe version - with audio CD's! It would be awesome to win one (this post is my entry) but either way we'll be reading from this Bible soon. I've heard nothing but GREAT things about it. What have you heard? Or maybe you have the Jesus Storybook Bible already?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pardon the Dust

Things will be back to (the new) normal here in the virtual version of BearCountry real soon. Please bear with me (sorry, couldn't help myself!) as I work with Tricia of the Lemon Drop Design Shoppe (link should work now) to spruce up my blog. She is an incredibly talented artist and designer and I'm thrilled with the job she did with my header. I asked if she could write in the bark and make it look real and boy did she deliver or what!?!?! She has even more up her sleeve for my blog so stop back soon to see what else is new.

Looking to the future

There wasn't anything good playing on the radio while I drove home this afternoon so I popped in a Christmas CD. (It was that or kids songs) The second "Deck the Halls" came on my chest started to tighten, tears pricked my the corners of my eyes.

It was instant.

It was scary.
I quickly turned the music off.

I regrouped. I prayed.

I counted my blessings.

God never gives us more than we can handle.

As I look forward to an incredibly busy time for my blog book business with Christmas deadlines just around the corner, I am thankful that God has provided a way to support our family.

But I think I'll hold off on "White Christmas" for a while yet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The dinosaurs are coming!

But don't worry - these are NICE dinosaurs. You could even go so far as to say they are cute. One thing is for sure - they are cheap. I spent $16 at Walmart on the supplies (including the t-shirts) to make these shirts for my kids to wear.

Let me know if you would be interested to read about how I went about making the shirts - they are my very first attempt at applique so I'm no expert. In fact I don't think I've sewn anything since that awful star sequin number I made for a 4-H project two decades ago. But if there is enough interest I will take the time to post a few tips.


Friday, October 2, 2009

You Don't Say Saturday - Birthday Girl Edition

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.

-- Author Unknown

Happy 3rd birthday to the sweetest, most talkative, most stuff animal loving girl in BearCountry.

We love you baby girl and feel so blessed to be your parents!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Alphabitty Moments - The letter E

Welcome to Alphabitty Moments! I created this carnival as a way to record the little things my kids do. The special occasions get enough attention in photographs, blog posts, and storytelling. These keepsake book pages are meant to take a closer look at the ordinary and every day moments of childhood. Some day we will look back on all the little things and realize they were really the big things.

This week using Mixbook I put together this page for the letter E.
I think the picture speaks for itself. The kid can (and does!) run circles around me. He's always been an active little boy but thankfully has a calm side and can play for hours by himself with only a few toys. I love that we can go on long hikes without him asking to be carried. When Julia was a baby we'd walk 2 miles a day and he was only 2 years old!

Now it's your turn. What little moment do you want to remember about your kids?
Don't forget to try out Mixbook and enter your page in this mcklinky to be entered to win a $50 Mixbook gift card - today is the last day to enter!

***I've decided one way I can make my already hectic schedule a little less complicated is to only post one page per week. Feel free to continue to post as many pages as you'd like for your children, but I will probably only be posting one page a week for a while. ****

Beginner Knit Hat Pattern

I've been asked so many times if there is a pattern for the hats I make,  but I was too busy filling Christmas orders...