4. HOMEMADE PROJECT
“Okay, girls,” Mrs. Mahogany said. “I want each of you to reach into this bowl and take a piece of paper.” she waited until they each had one. “You can look at the papers, you will each have one of the boy’s names.”
“Who do I have?” Blossom asked showing the others her piece of paper.
“You have Bud’s name.” Rose said glancing down at Blossom’s paper.
“I have Oak.” Sunflower said.
“And I have Pine.” Rose showed them her paper.
“Since it’s still snowing hard and there just isn’t enough money this year, we won’t be able to take you kids shopping like we usually do during Christmas vacation. So I thought we’d keep the homemade thing going. I found six of these notebooks and I thought you could use them to make something special for each other. You can work together, that way you two can help Blossom. But you have to really think about these and make something the boys will really like. Do you think you can do this?” she sat watching them. They nodded slowly trying to think about what they could make that the boys would like.
“There’s lots of material scraps and other things in my sewing room that you can use. Just ask me before you go in, you don’t want to see what the boys are doing, do you?”
“No, that would spoil the surprise.” Rose said solemnly picking up one of the three-ring binders.
“Run and put them in Sunflower’s room then I’ll go get the boys. You’ll have to come up with an idea fast, I’m afraid, because you’ll only have tonight and tomorrow to work on them. Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve.” she reminded them.
“Okay.” the three girl’s mumbled heading for Sunflower’s room.
“What can we do with these?” Sunflower asked hopelessly dropping the notebook on her bed. She sat down next to it with her head hanging down. This was impossible, what can you do with an old notebook?
“Well,” Rose said flopping down on her sleeping bag holding the notebook like she was afraid it was going to bite her. “Oak likes to take pictures. He always has his camera with him. He brought it here. I know he will be taking pictures of the tree and stuff. Maybe you could do something with that.” she looked over at Sunflower.
“Do you think we could get some of his favorite pictures off his camera?” Sunflower asked suddenly looking interested.
“Your Dad could do it. Oak prints them using Dad’s computer so maybe your Dad could do it for you. What are you thinking of?” Rose sat up straighter. If Sunflower had an idea already then maybe they could think of something for Pine also.
“If I can get copies of some of his pictures I can glue them on the outside of the notebook and make pages or something for him to add more of his favorite pictures, you know, like a photo album.”
“That’s a great idea, Oak will really love it. Now what can I do for Pine?”
“Well,” Sunflower said thinking hard. “Pine is always reading books about facts and things. He is always making lists of things he sees outside, you know like how many different types of birds, bugs, thing like that. You could cover it with material like Mom suggested and then put pages in it so he can keep track of all of his lists.”
“That sounds great. Maybe I could glue pictures of birds and things on the pages so he would know what they are for.”
“Let’s go see if your Dad can get Oak’s camera for us. It’s in a case in his backpack. He could get the pictures while the boys are busy in the kitchen with your Mom.” Rose said excitedly. They both forgot about Blossom in the excitement of beginning their newest project.
“Bud likes dogs. Can I do dogs for him?” Blossom asked interrupting them. They were chattering excitedly about how they were going to do their projects. They stopped halfway to the door.
“Dogs?” Sunflower asked confused. Blossom grinned and nodded.
“Yeah, I don’t know how to make it but I want dogs that he can move around and play with. Like paper doll dogs but not with clothes because boys don’t play with paper dolls.” Blossom looked at the two older girls positive that they would know how to do what she wanted for Bud.
“Finding the dogs shouldn’t be too difficult. We can cut them from a catalog or something, but how could he play with them?” Rose looked over at Sunflower for more ideas.
Sunflower sat down on the floor across from Blossom. “I wonder if it would work if made each page a different room or place that dogs would like. You know, like a park with dog houses and things like that.”
“How would he move them around? If we tape the dogs to the rooms or park pages every time he wanted to move them the tape would tear the paper.” Rose pointed out. Blossom looked as if she was going to start crying. She really wanted a dog play set for Bud.
“Maybe Mom or Dad can help us with that. They might have some ideas that will help us. Don’t worry Blossom, we’ll figure it out somehow.” Sunflower said looking over her little sister’s head at Rose. She didn’t feel very confident.
“We can ask Aunt Violet as soon as she’s through explaining all this to the boys, unless Uncle Elm has an idea.” Rose said setting her notebook down on her sleeping bag and standing up again. “I wonder what the boys will make for us. I’ll bet they really hate this project.” she giggled as Sunflower opened the door and peeked outside.
“Maybe we’ll just get plain notebooks. Pine isn’t very creative.” she said over her shoulder.
“Neither is Oak.” Rose added.
“I hope they make me something to hold all my paper dolls in.” Blossom said seriously looking back at the stack of boxes holding Sunflower’s paper doll collection. She didn’t have as many as Sunflower and Rose did but she would someday, when she was big like them.
“Wow, that would be great! It would be so much easier than digging through all the boxes to find my favorite dolls.” Sunflower agreed.
“Then we could play together a lot easier. All we would have to do is grab the notebooks. Maybe we should suggest it to the boys.” Rose suggested.
“No, we shouldn’t!” Sunflower said solemnly. “That would be just like going into Mom’s sewing room without knocking just to see what they were doing. It would totally wreck Christmas. Having notebooks for the paper dolls would be terrific, but I would rather have anything they think of themselves than something I pushed them to do. It wouldn’t be the same if we told them what we wanted them to make for us.
Besides, we wouldn’t want them telling us what to make, would we?”
“No, you’re right. It’ll be much better coming as a surprise. Should we go see if they are still in the kitchen?”
“Let’s go! I want to find some dogs.” Blossom said excitedly.
“Let’s go see Dad first.” Sunflower said leading the way through the living room towards the den where their Dad usually was.
While the girls were heading towards the den the three boys sat in gloomy silence in Pine’s room. “How are we going to make anything that the girl’s can actually use out of these old notebooks?” Oak muttered dropping the notebook on the floor next to his back pack.
“The only thing I can think of using a notebook for is school work, but that’s a dumb present. Even a fancy covered one like Mom said wouldn’t be much fun if all you put in it is homework.” Pine sighed loudly.
“What would the girl’s keep in a notebook?” Oak asked looking up at the ceiling for any ideas.
“Paper! Paper to draw on. Blossom likes to draw clothes.” Bud suggested trying to be helpful.
“Yeah, paper.” Pine agreed. “But what kind of paper? Pictures? Stories? Sunflower only draws clothes for her paper dolls and she cuts them out so they wouldn’t work because you couldn’t put them in a three-ring notebook.”
“Why not?” Oak said sitting up straight and facing Pine. “How about if we could figure out how to make some sort of pocket that fit the notebooks. They could keep the paper dolls and clothes in the pockets. We could make lots of pockets since they have boxes and boxes of paper dolls. I have Blossom’s name and I know she likes animal paper dolls best.
Hey, I wonder if I could make her some kind of special animal paper doll.” Oak said excitedly. Now that they had an idea it didn’t seem impossible any more.
“I have Rose’s name. What would she like?” Bud asked looking over at Oak.
“Rose likes flowers. So you could cover her notebook in some kind of flower material.”
“I have Sunflower and I know she loves sunflowers. Maybe Mom has some material with big sunflowers on it. It would be really super cool if we could make Rose and Sunflower each a paper doll that looks like a rose and a sunflower. You know, the arms would be leaves and the stem would be the body and feet. Maybe Mom would know how to do that.” Pine said jumping up and heading out of the door.
They made it as far as the living room when Mrs. Mahogany called them to come for supper. Supper that night was filled with excited glances but very little talking as each of the kids eagerly waited for their chance to talk to the adults about their projects. After the dishes were finished Pine, Oak and Bud approached Mrs. Mahogany. “Mom, can you help us? We know what we want to do but we’re not really sure how to do it.” They quickly explained what they wanted to do for the three girls.
“What an excellent idea. They love playing together with their paper dolls and that will make it much more fun for them. Come on, let’s go see what we can find.”
While the boys were beginning to dig through the scrap boxes of material Sunflower followed her Dad into his den. “Dad, can you print pictures from Oak’s camera?”
“If Oak wants to use my computer to print pictures, he can use it now.” he said absently.
“No, it’s for a surprise so he can’t know about it. Rose said the camera is in Oak’s back pack.” she went on to explain what they had discussed. Mr. Mahogany sat nodding his head listening intently.
“Tell you what, you and Rose go get the camera. The boys are busy in the sewing room so we’ll have plenty of time.” Sunflower dashed out to get Rose. Mr. Mahogany smiled to himself as he walked to the sewing room and quietly opened the door. He motioned to his wife.
When she joined him in the hallway he whispered. “Keep the boys busy in here for a while. The girls and I are doing a little undercover work. Rose and Blossom will need some material so if you come across anything with lots of dogs on it and something that will work for Pine, just set it aside.” He whispered but the boys didn’t notice them talking outside the door. They continued digging through the boxes of material.
“I know exactly which pieces will work. Wait just a minute.” she went back in the room. Mr. Mahogany watched as she pulled several pieces of material out of a box.
“Perfect!” he said taking the pieces from her and turning away. Looking down at the material in his hand he had a sudden idea. “Violet, can you laminate material?”
She paused at the door. “I don’t really know but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work and that’s a great idea. Thanks!” she said smiling as she closed the door.
“Here Rose, do you think this material will work for you?” Mr. Mahogany asked when the girls joined him in the hallway outside his den. He handed her a piece of tan material with dark green pine trees on it.
“This is absolutely perfect, Uncle Elm.” she squealed handing him Oak’s camera.
“Here Blossom,” he said taking the camera from Rose. “Here are your dogs for Bud.” The material he handed her was red with dozens of different kinds of dogs scattered all over it.
“Can I use these dogs for my play dogs?” Blossom asked petting the different little material dogs. “They look just like real dogs!”
“I hope so. I have a couple of ideas about what to do for Bud but let’s get these pictures done first before Oak misses his camera.” They watched eagerly as he loaded the pictures into his computer. “Now put this back where you found it and grab your notebooks.” The three girls hurried off.
“I think Rose would rally like this piece.” Oak said handing Bud a piece of material covered in bright colorful flowers.
“This is super cool it looks just like sunflower.” Pine laughed holding up a piece with large bright yellow sunflowers all over it.
“”Now something with lots of animals on it for Blossom.” Oak said continuing to dig through the boxes. “Got it!” he finally said holding up a piece with horses, zebras, cats, dogs and rabbits on it.
“That fits her.” Mrs. Mahogany agreed continuing to search through the scraps of material. “I knew I had this.” she finally said pulling several small pieces out. “Look here, boys.” they crowded around her as she spread out the material.
“If you carefully cut these flowers out they look like they have arms and feet. All you have to do is draw eyes and a smile on them with a marker. And this one,” she moved another piece over for them to look at. “The way this horse is standing on its back legs makes it perfect for a paper doll. All you have to do is have Dad laminate them for you and you have cute little paper dolls to put in your notebooks.”
“These are great.” the three boys said grinning from ear to ear.
“Now we just have to make pockets somehow.” Pine said gathering up their material. “How do we put the material on the notebooks?” he asked before Oak opened the door.
“Here, give me one of your pieces.” Mrs. Mahogany took the flowered piece from Bud and laid it on her table. She quickly showed them how to lay the book open on the material, how to cut it and glue it. “You should cover the entire outside and the inside of the covers.” she explained. “If you have any problems just let me know and I can help you cut, glue or whatever.”
“Thanks!” they called hurrying back to Pine’s room.
“Boys, there are several of those sunflowers, roses and other flowers in case the first faces you draw aren’t what you want. You can experiment on several of them if you need to.” Mrs. Mahogany called softly after them.
“Okay.” they called over their shoulders hurrying off. They could hear the girls still talking in the den, clutching their supplies tightly they dashed towards Pine’s room.
“These pictures are really great. I’ll print as many as possible on a page so when you glue it, it will look like a nice collection. But, I really think this picture should be right in the middle of the cover.” Mr. Mahogany said moving so they could all see the picture.
“How did Oak take that one?” Sunflower asked staring at a picture of the six of them busy making the popcorn and paper chains. “That was when we were singing.” she grinned. “That was so much fun!”
“I knew he had the camera when we were doing that, but I didn’t know he had done that. Dad just showed him how to take pictures with the times so he can be in the picture also. That’s what he must have done, set it up on the timer.”
“You’re right Dad that one really needs to be bigger than the others and right in the middle because that is what this Christmas is really about. Making things with each other and having lots of fun.” Sunshine said looking at the other pictures. “I really like this one too.” she said pointing to a picture of Bud and Blossom hanging their ornaments on the tree.
“He’s got some really good ones of all of you hanging the paper chains and the popcorn strings so I think that should be your cover. We can use some of these winter landscapes he’s taken for the back cover and inside.” Mr. Mahogany said as he started printing the pages for Sunflower. “You’ll have to overlap the pages so they cover the entire notebook.” Sunflower nodded slowly collecting the pages.
“Won’t the pictures get ruined if Oak carries it outside or something. The paper won’t last like the material will.” Sunflower asked looking at the printer pages.
“If we laminate them first then the pictures will be protected.” Mr. Mahogany said pulling a small machine off a shelf above his desk.
“What’s lami?” Blossom asked stumbling over the unfamiliar word.
“Laminate.” her Dad said slowly. “It’s a way to make paper last longer. See, I let this machine heat up.” he explained plugging the machine in. “When this light turns green then we put the pictures into these clear sleeves.” Rose and Sunflower started putting the pictures into the sleeves as he explained. A few minutes later he said “One of you girls help Blossom cut out the material for her notebook. You’ll need enough to cover the outside and the inside.” he showed them how to do it as Rose reached for the scissors. “you can glue it when you get back to Sunflower’s room so you don’t have to be so careful moving it. But we need to know how much material we have left over.”
“How’s this?” Rose asked a bit later showing him Blossom’s notebook with the material laying on it.
“Looks great, how much material is left?”
“A lot! See!” Blossom said holding up the left over material.
“That’s a lot of dogs!” he said taking the piece from her. “If we cut it like this,” he took the scissors and using a piece of paper for a pattern he cut out two pieces of material. “How many dogs do we have?” he asked. They all helped him count the different types of dogs. “Well, if we do three pieces then we should end up with two of every type of dog, right?”
“Yeah, with maybe a few extra if we cut them out carefully.” Sunflower said as Rose cut another piece out of the dog material. Sunflower placed all the material in the laminating pages, while Blossom leaned against her father’s chair watching them eagerly. This was exactly what she wanted for Bud. When the machine was hot Mr. Mahogany put each page through the machine setting them on his desk to cool as they came out.
“Sunflower, go in that bottom file drawer. There is a box of photo album pages in there you can have twelve pages to put in Oak’s notebook. You can get eight photographs in each page so that should keep him busy for a while.”
“Thanks, Dad.” Sunflower said carefully counting out the pages.
“Now Rose, what kind of pages do you need for Pine?”
“I don’t know. I just thought I’d put plain paper in it so he could write on it.”
“Oh, I think we can come up with something better. What kind of things is he interested in?” he asked the girls.
“Well, he’s always making lists of trees, flowers, weeds things like that and collecting leaves and stuff.” Sunflower said thoughtfully picking up the scissors and starting to cut out Blossom’s dogs.
“He likes keeping track of how many different bugs and birds he sees each summer.” Rose added.
“And his favorite books. He’s always writing down what he reads and if he liked it.” Blossom looked up from gathering up all the little laminated dogs as Sunflower cut them out.
“You’re right he does like all those things. So let’s make him some pages for them.” he typed for several minutes. “Rose.” she walked over to the computer. “Now you can choose what kind of pictures you want on each page.” he showed her what he had made. Each page had a large title, ‘Buds I’ve Seen’, ‘Birds I’ve Spotted.’,’Trees I Recognize’ and so on. Under the title he had numbered lines that Pine could write on. There were pages for everything Pine was interested in. Next to the titles there was room to put a picture. With Mr. Mahogany’s help Rose soon had a picture to match each title and was waiting for them to print.
“I’ll print you enough of each page so you have plenty of pages.” Mr. Mahogany said turning to look at Blossom. She scrambled to her feet her small hands full of little dogs. “Rose,” Mr. Mahogany said as Blossom dropped several dogs. “Could you count out some of those photo pages for you and Blossom? They will work fine for keeping all these dogs from getting lost.” he said bending down to pick up the dogs that kept slipping out of Blossom’s fingers. “And Pine can fill his with all the leaves and things he collects.”
“How many?” Rose asked going over to the file drawer.
“Three or four should be enough!” he answered. “Use those ones with the two long pockets. They don’t work very well for regular photos.” he added.
“These ones?” Rose held up a sheet split in two by long pockets.
“Those are the ones. I never use the panorama setting on my camera so I never use those sheets.” he said turning back to Blossom.
“Now Blossom, we need some pages for Bud’s dogs. We’ll need a park, maybe some other landscape type pictures like mountains, a river and a yard with trees and some rooms in a house. Dogs like to sleep on sofas.” while he talked he found the pictures on the computer and printed them out until he had a dozen different places for the dogs to play in. “Now we need some things like dog houses, toys, bowls, food, bones, balls, anything else dogs like to have around.”
“Beds and leashes so they can sleep and he can take them for walks.” Blossom said looking at the computer.
“Hey, Dad, can you make a Bud?” Sunflower asked suddenly. “Wasn’t there a picture in Oak’s camera of Bud standing looking towards him? Can you make that the right size to go with the dogs so Bud can play with a picture of himself playing with the dogs?”
“That’s a great idea, Sweetie.” Mr. Mahogany said going back through Oak’s pictures. “how about this one also.” he said finally. “It looks like he’s walking so it would look as if he’s really walking the dogs. If I print it then reverse it so there is one of him facing each way, it will work for all the dogs.” He added them to Blossom’s page. When they had several pages filled with things for Bud to use with his dogs he printed them all up.
“Now we laminate all of these. Then if you cut out all of these things he can have fun playing with all of this. All you need to add is a roll of tape.” he reached over to his desk and handed Blossom a new roll of tape. “Once everything is cut out you can tape some of them to the laminated scenes and put the rest in the pockets. Wrap that roll of tape with his notebook, punch holes in these pages and in Rose’s pages and you girls will be all set once the glue dries.”
“Thanks, Dad!” Blossom and Sunflower said finishing cutting out Blossom’s things and gathering up everything else.
“Thanks, Uncle Elm!” Rose said opening the door and peeking out. the boys were nowhere in sight. Motioning to Sunflower and Blossom they hurried to Sunflower’s room to start cutting and glueing their material.