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The woman who saved my Sunday*

Posted on February 5, 2012

The Builder and I have been living under a lucky star. Right up until last Friday. When it all came crashing down. Under a pile of books. Books that needed to be covered. In contact. By Monday.

The news was broken to me by Mr8. “Take this Mum,” he said, handing me his school bag in the pouring rain. “It’s really heavy.”

I picked it up, wondering how a lunchbox, a water bottle and an empty reader bag had suddenly gained weight.

“Good grief!” I said. “What’s in here?”

“All my books,” he said, nonchalantly. “They need to be covered. In contact. Can we get some with pictures on it?”

My mind flashed back to our last experience with contact. Two textbooks in kindy. Two textbooks that had taken The Builder about three hours (and not a small amount of swearing) to cover in contact. Without pictures.

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll give them to Dad.”

It must be said that The Builder is often lumbered with any task that requires precision. Mostly because he is a precise kind of guy. Who likes things done precisely. I, on the other hand, tend to take the ‘they’re not marking us down for air bubbles’ approach, which may, in unkind terms, be described as, er, slapdash.

“There are books to cover,” I mentioned that night over a glass of wine. “Nine, to be precise.” He rolled his eyes. “I’ll start tomorrow,” he said. “No point in leaving it to the last minute.”

“Er, you’ll have to wait until I buy the contact. With pictures,” I responded. He rolled his eyes.

Slap dash.

The next afternoon, as he sat at one end of the dining table armed with four rolls of contact (yes, pictures, see above), scissors, a ruler and a teatowel (for ‘smoothing’), I asked him if he wanted me to Google a You Tube tutorial on how to cover books. He rolled his eyes (seriously, can’t wait for the teenage years around here), muttered something about not needing instructions, and proceeded.

Ninety minutes later, he went out for a bike ride. Having covered three books. He had tried many methods during that period. The hanging-book-off-side-of-table method. The call-in-the-wife-to-hold-contact method (I was banished soon after for not preventing air bubbles). The call-the-wife-in-to-hold-the-book method (I was banished soon after for not preventing air bubbles). Every time I looked over, he was in a new position, trying something new.

It wasn’t pretty.

This afternoon, while he was otherwise engaged, I thought I’d have a go. I knew that I ran the risk of, gasp, air bubbles, but I also wanted to go to the beach that afternoon and figured that any progress I made got us closer. Being a girl who likes instructions, I Googled ‘How to cover a book in contact’ and found my saviour.

Grace at Living Footprints has created a seven minute video on how to do the job. Seven minutes? If she could manage the whole process in that time, then, even allowing for the fact that Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals take me at least one hour, I was going to knock the books over before The Builder got home. I watched her video and loved her even more for the fact that the first two minutes and thirty seconds are taken up with gathering tools, cutting out paper, and trying to separate the damn contact from the backing paper.

Video complete, I sat down at the table and had a book covered in 15 minutes. Yes, there was a crease (tiny, really, hardly noticeable at all), but by the time I’d done my second, I was air-bubble-free! Yes!

When The Builder came home, I was still in my pyjamas at 2.30pm, but I had a neat pile of books ready to go. And two little boys ready to go to the beach.

Win/win.

The only downside of the whole arrangement? It appears that I have created myself a job. The Builder is so far resisting efforts to watch Grace’s excellent how-to video… and so the book covering role is now mine. Unlike Grace, however, I will not be inviting you all to send your books round to the Fibro for me to cover. My love affair with her method does not extend that far.

Have you covered school books this year? Which method do you favour?

Watch the video here.

*I was going to call this The Woman Who Saved My Sunday (and my marriage), but I thought that might be overly dramatic.

28 Comments

  1. Andrea

    I seem to have come across this thing with males lately that they don’t like to read up on how to’s or watch how to video’s ….voluntarily.

    I don’t get it. It is so impractical.

  2. Saffron

    Ha Ha! That’s funny. I haven’t covered books for aaaaages but the method included getting my mum to locate the spare wall paper and lots of book opening and book closing to check that it wasn’t too tight or too loose. Glad you cracked the code & got to the beach!

  3. Rhonda

    I am so glad you google instructions as well. I google everything. And this post makes me so thankful that we don’t have to cover books.

  4. Denwise aka Denyse Whelan

    Omg. You uncovered yourself now and you will be covering books for, umm (x) years.
    I hate hate hate contact.
    I am a teacher.
    I am not neat but my hub & DD are. By age 12 DD was covering her own, her brother’s, and ahem… Mine !!
    Here’s an idea!
    Why not INVENT a covering within the book cover itself so contact can go wrap around itself.
    Lisa Lintern- Seriously 8 books. Can.not.believe that in K.
    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm
    Denyse

  5. Denwise aka Denyse Whelan

    Omg. You uncovered yourself now and you will be covering books for, umm (x) years.
    I hate hate hate contact.
    I am a teacher.
    I am not neat but my hub & DD are. By age 12 DD was covering her own, her brother’s, and ahem… Mine !!
    Here’s an idea!
    Why not INVENT a covering within the book cover itself so contact can go wrap around itself.
    Lisa Lintern- Seriously 8 books. Can.not.believe that in K.
    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm
    Denyse

  6. thepowmill

    It is a hateful job but you are lucky to have found an easy ‘how to’.
    I gave up the last time I had to do that job.

    Finally I went to the fabric store and bought iron on plastic (usually used to cover placemat for easy wiping). The first one took some figuring. But it was a lot less trouble for me. Because it was clear , all the art and print on the covers was visible.

    I try never to do that job if I can avoid it.

  7. Kerry

    Love this post! We struggled for years covering books and then I was offered some casual work in our school library. My first job – covering the new books! I was terrified, I couldn’t put a book I covered on the shelf. Our wonderful librarian showed me how to do it – good quality contact is the trick. I now work in our local library and my books look stunning on the shelves!

  8. Lauren

    i love that you googled a “how to” – what did we ever do without google?? our school supplies us with the clear plastic covers that wrap around the books – no contact required. i always breathe a sigh of relief when i see those wonderful covers in the book packs. my eldest two are 10 & 12 and they did everything this year. i was in shock, but a little sad that they didn’t need my help! our youngest starts in the middle of the year, so i guess i’ll be back into it – unless the other two take over again! well done for getting those books done – and in record time by the sounds of it 😉

  9. Lady Jewels Diva®

    My mum used to cover mine in brown paper, or we used the plastic slide on covers.

    Kids go through books so fast there’s no point using fancy contact, but I have contacted books and it’s not that hard. You just have to measure and cut before peeling the paper off and sticking.

  10. Lisa Lintern

    If you ask me, covering books is up there as one of those things no-one thinks to warn you about before you have kids. You know…sleepless nights, cracked nipples, doctor’s visits, shopping centre tantrums…BOOK COVERING! Well, at least that’s how I feel after a weekend wrestling with contact for my son’s eight kindy books. EIGHT! He’s in kindergarten for goodness sake. Oh, give me strength…

  11. ruddygood

    No, Little Miss Moi, you are NOT the only one!

    My dad, darling sentimentalist that he was, kept some of my old school books after I’d left home, and I still have some examples of my mad skillz at book covering and cover design. Bless!

    Bring ’em on, son (we’re not up to covering books yet). Just…expect a bit of a social statement if you let your Mum do it… 😉

  12. Little Miss Moi

    Ohhh my FAVOURITE thing to do before I went back to school was to cover my books. I think I had to do it myself from when I was in Gr8 (start of high school in Qld). Yes. I did it myself. That is the downside to being the 4 of 5 kids. But I loved doing it. Hopefully I won’t mind when my sprogs are big enough to go to school!

    PS Was I the only one who made collages of fashion pics and stuck them to the front of my binder before covering?!!?

  13. Cath

    After hearing all the horror stories from the pre-prep mums about having to contact $2 scrapbooks (I mean really!), I am MOST grateful that our school does not do that… at least I hope. I’ll find out on Friday, no doubt. Contacting exercise books should be banned, it’s not very eco-friendly and it’s placing already busy mums under too much stress – although maybe that argument has less weight now that Grace has been discovered.

  14. 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    I watched the same clip last week! She’s amazing isn’t she. I have a bad feeling you have a lifetime of book covering in your future.

  15. Kirsty

    Google rocks. You got a problem? Google has the answer. Still remember the tears from covering my own books (and this was high school). Am so not looking forward to covering the kids books. If I save Grace’s page on contacting now, will I remember it exists in 3 years? Hmmm.
    Thanks for the giggles.

  16. Me

    I haven’t had to cover books for my kids yet, but I remember hours at the kitchen table trying to cover my own with a paper bag lol. DREADFUL. SIMPLY DREADFUL. Glad you got it done!

  17. Lori @ RRSAHM

    My mum was a school librarian- to this day I have not met a book I didn’t thoroughly enjoy covering :p

  18. supermac

    Similar to Toni, I’m lucky that my girls go to Maria Montessori and therefore do not have to carry books (no homework, too). I am however, a proud expert in covering books 😉

  19. Mum on the Run

    Not dramatic at all – you have survived (and thrived) a major marital milestone.
    Congratulations!
    🙂

  20. Diminishing Lucy

    We have not been tasked with the dreaded contact bizzo. Yet. You have filled me with fear…xx

  21. Diminishing Lucy

    We have not been tasked with the dreaded contact bizzo. Yet. You have filled me with fear…xx

  22. Mama of 2 boys

    Haha, hilarious! There’s a real sense of achievement in covering a text book neatly. I haven’t done one for years, but recall how much I loved doing it when I was younger. I’d always take over from my Mum, because clearly I thought I could do a better job. Upstart ;o)
    I’m sure my love for the task will dwindle once I have to cover NINE (?!) of them at once.

  23. brismod

    Classic!Loved the many contacting positions – the karma sutra of the book covering world.

    We are contact free household. I only cover text books in old fashioned library/archival quality plastic. Scissors and sticky tape and not a lot of skill required.xx

  24. Judy

    I’m very impressed that someone has created a Youtube vid about covering books.
    Sad Fact: by the time you become proficient at covering schoolbooks, your child will be in Year 12 and you will no longer need to cover any schoolbooks. Trust me, I’ve been there.

  25. Kelly Exeter

    I LOVE that you Googled for instructions Al. And I LOVE even more that there was a video for this!

    *whispers* I contacted all my own books when I was at school because I was erm … a bit particular and secretly can’t wait for the day I am called up to do the job again.

  26. Tara @ Our Whirlwind Adventures

    I am notorious for air bubbles when covering books!
    I might practice now for when it’s necessary.
    Thanks Grace! Haha 😉

  27. Toni

    Kudos to you, book covering is a tough gig.
    I heart our school SO HARD — they do NOT require books to be covered, AND there is NO HOMEWORK! (apart from reading)

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