Friday, May 28, 2010

a camping we will go

Your Memorial Day weekend plans?

Ours: camping and a stage race in Killington, VT.

Cross our fingers that the baby likes the drive.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

me + you + our kids = summer delight

Marian at her creative work last Sunday. Realizing I sometimes over stretch the originality thing, I printed out some of the small draw pdfs--really an amazing resource; they have fantastic participating artists-- from Small magazine on cardstock and we got out the watercolors and colored pencils.

Hi, friends. I'm trolling for local participants in a summer co-op day camp.

We're heading out for a big roadtrip WEST in mid-July, but want to make the most of our summer here, and figure that the best way to choose the perfect day camp for my precious ones is just to make my own. With you.

The exact nature of this project will depend on the number of participants, but I have this so far (I believe in lots of guidelines to make something like this work, manage expectations, and be balanced/fair/not lame-o on some days, so expect them. But then I like to fully delegate and grant autonomy, too, so don't worry about micromanagement).

*June 21-25th, 9:00-12:00. Grades K-7, or as long as you think they'll still be interested. I plan on forcing Audrey. Any interest in a preschool mini-camp (perhaps the first or last hour)?

*Meet at a park like Southhampton Township Park that has space to accommodate a group with a variety of activities. If we have a big enough group to easily share the cost, and well utilize the space, then we could rent a pavilion, too. Otherwise, I don't expect to have any $ changing hands: if everyone gives/plans, the costs will naturally be shared. You may be cheap and creative, or richy if you feel like it when planning your virtual trips to the moon.

*A mom or a group of parents does an art/science/hands-on whatever camp in the morning, say 9:00-12:00. Drop off for the others! With more participants, we may have rotating classes or age groupings and have both class leaders and adult helpers. You may be asked to invest more time if you have more children participating (ie, you'll be in charge of a craft one day and just show up to help another day to keep our adult:kid ratio workable).

*Everyone (that means "come pick up your kids now") meets together for a bring-your-own-picnic lunch at 12:00.

*Stay for part of the afternoon to play or hike as interested (this time will not be not organized like the morning is).

Feel free to pass this along to friends whom you think would be a great addition. I'll be happy with just a couple of friends to trade and meet with, but think it will organically support itself (with those guidelines), so the more the merrier!

So I can do the aforementioned planning and plotting, please let me know by June 1st if you're interested. If you took a nice long Memorial Day weekend break and are reading this blog post past that day, well, you may beg. I'm a bit of a softy.

Good times?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

acorn + Dremel

I've wanted a Dremel for a long time for two specific purposes:

(1) to precisely grind glaze troubles on pottery


(2) to carve out little acorn vessels.

My sweet mum gave me birthday money specifically earmarked for said tool...which drifted elsewhere as cash-in-the-pocket tends to do.

Friday Nathan picked one up for me while erranding and needing something to use a Lowe's/Discover Card returns gift card on.

Five little acorns transformed.
One hefty blister (I need to work on my technique).
Only one broken attachment (oops).
Lots of vacuuming (I need to work outside. Hey rain: STOP ALREADY!!)
This photo cracks me up because the subjects were so urban scavenged: I took the acorns from a pile of yard waste at Marian's dance teacher's house and the birch branch from our dentist's office pruning pile. I think this means I am awesome.

Make your own!
(or, not being an acorn-saver and this being not acorn season, or Dremel-less, buy one from Becci)

Step one: Slice off the pointy end of the acorn. I keep the flat end so the finished acorn can stand, even though this yields a botanically inaccurate wee vessel.Step two: Dig out the nut. A much easier endeavor if you are careful in step one to slice at a point before the acorn wall begins to taper. Marian was not working on one of the easy ones.Step three: Sand out the velvet. Or not. It's very lovely and soft, but rather messy--a pile of fuzzy innards more than a nice cohesive lining.Step four: Carve a bit of sweetness. I thought I wanted plain vessels until I started carving hearts. And then I couldn't stop. Tried a star, too, which became a butterfly.

Step five: Find a cap to fit (You will probably need one from a bigger acorn, as the caps curl in a bit as they dry. I sanded mine a bit to help).

Step six: Decide on the best staging.


(Marian: "Now I have to throw away this gumball because it got all fuzzy!" I stopped shy of sanding all the velvet out because the acorn wall was getting awfully thin. Relative merits are something to consider.)

Marian and I started a better-with-the-Dremel horse craft, too, though I need to master my belt sander a bit more for success. We'll get details up on I'm a Craft Artist soon, because she's been missing being famous (her words) and thus feeling more blog-friendly these days.

Friday, May 7, 2010

violet sanctuary

Violet season is almost over; the remaining blooms (we have 2 shades of purple + white) are faded and spindly.

I was delighted to find, this first violet season in our new home, that we have them. I love the blossoms, I love the heart-shaped leaves, I love the whole last-century (or the one before!) connotations.

I didn't want to lose them. So Nathan could save face for not moving a sidewalk-side swath of lawn (and save my violets!), I thought I should make the whole situation clear.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

did you notice

I figured out big photos?
Once I saw a complicated "download them here, then here, then..."
but yesterday I found this link:
I feel cool.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Camp Nawakwa

I just spent my fourth night with a cabin full of sweetheart girls at Camp Nawakwa, visited by our school early each May. This was Marian's first year to stay overnight because now she is a big 3rd grader.It was as awesome as ever, though possibly more so. First, tie-dye. Great tees this year! Our particular cabin (self-named the Forest Pixies) was so delightful, full of fun and love for each other. We stayed up later than the other 3rd grade girls' cabin--a major pride point--with card games and a good session of scary campfire story-supplanting forest/beach/waterfall/mermaid imagery. They were sweetly self-reflective about the experience, aware of what a special night and good friends they had.Our school is affiliated with the university, so the kids have the benefit of being taught rotating hands-on ecology lessons by college education and science students (the camp is their "final"). Here, Marian is a spawning salmon, about to make the trek to her home stream and face natural predators and man-made obstacles to getting there.
Marian taking a quiet moment with a tree identification guide.I grinned the entire time I was there. So green and lovely.

I found some soggy sticks with a particularly "waxy outer cambrium" (courtesy of a professor dad I consulted) that I happily emptied during one of the kids' lessons to yield a bag full of twig tubes.Perfect for bark rings.For freckled forest pixies.

my guy

hit his 18-month milestone yesterday.

We made cookies to celebrate. I didn't intend for Reuben to help, but he was doing some serious tiptoe peeking, so I brought him a chair and let him help with measuring and stirring. He was crazy-erratic, but focused. I rewarded him with his first lick-the-beaters experience and it was intense. Cookie dough in the eyelashes, my friends. He was blown away by the awesomeness (new amber teething necklace just found in a package from Sara Z. The girls are in love with him in it).In other Reuben-related news, our school is staging a mini Relay for Life next week, and asked to be "Reuben's team" this year. I just ordered a big batch of these buttonsto give to each child on the day of the walk. I was looking for something, like Marian's superstar and shine buttons, that would be special to Reuben, but apply to each wearer as well. Audrey and I were experimenting with lines from our favorite Justin Roberts songs, but when I saw this on one of his new summer outfits, I knew it was the one. I especially like it for this event: a beautifully ragtag group of elementary kids working together to do (yet another) something bigger than themselves.Kudos again to Sarah of felt and paper, my button girl. She worked up the above (no extra charge) much-cleaned-up version from my literally cut-and-paste, photographed at night mock-up, even downloading the font I used to add the border text. Her prices are reasonable, and she is procrastinator-friendly fast.We had a bad scare last week that, along with an over-scheduled weekend, wiped me out. I'll preface it by saying that it was a false alarm, but a very dark 24 hours for us. While scrubbing him up in his bath last Wednesday night, I found a new lump in his right armpit. Frozen, I helped get the girls in bed, told Nathan, then wrote this e-mail:

I felt a new mass under Reuben's right arm in the tub tonight. The right shoulder was the area previously affected, but this time it is more on the arm side. It's about the size of a large shooter marble, maybe an inch around--hard and round and firmly in place. It kind of recedes into his armpit when his arm is down; it can only be felt when his arm is raised. I'm not sure how long it has been there; my mommy-checks had been more in the area around his scapula and torso side of his armpit, though I do lift him and touch him all the time because I'm his mama and I think I might have noticed it earlier. My guess, then, is that it is fast-growing like last time (I could chart daily progress beyond my Sharpie lines), and quick action is important.

I'm calling Hershey oncology to try to get him in to see someone tomorrow morning, but I'd like to have him seen and MRI'd at CHOP and re-evaluated for surgery again as soon as possible, so if you could advise me of the best approach, that would be much appreciated.

Because this is not a happy evening & action always feels just a little on the sane side of desperation. Weirdly, it's almost exactly a year later (I first took him to the ER on 26th, 2010). Stupidly, we've made all sorts of summer plans.

I called my mom to rally the troops for me (I was very far from being able to do any phone calling myself), and she sent out this:

Dear Family,
I tried to get hold of everyone last night, but in case you didn't get my message, Valerie noticed a little lump under Reuben's arm (the same side as before) when she was bathing him last night. She contacted her doctors and was going to head to Hershey this morning to have it checked out. As things turned out, the surgeon from Philadelphia who is headed out of town for several days, worked them in today. They are on the road to Philly and Reuben will get a biopsy today and an MRI in the morning tomorrow. Valerie feels it is a blessing to be able to get things rolling so early, as this (if it is a tumor) seems to be a very fast growing deal. I'm hoping all of us can exercise our faith and prayers in their behalf. As a visitor to your homes, I know that Reuben is frequently in your prayers already and I am thankful for that. I think it would be great to include him and his family as the object of our fasts this weekend too. Valerie will let me know the details as she learns them and I will pass them on to you. She is a busy girl today and probably will not be able to talk much to us, so I will try to keep everyone informed. This mailing goes to Valerie and Nathan too--so please let me know if I got anything wrong. Know that we all love you and are praying for you and want to help any way we can. I wish you all well today. Thanks for being such a good, strong, supporting family. Love, Mom

I heard back from my Hershey oncologist that night, willing to come to clinic just to see him the next morning, and then from my Philadelphia oncologist and orthopedic surgeon's nurse. I just drove straight to Philadelphia while they worked a bit of coercion to fit Reuben in that day for evaluation and MRI in preparation for a biopsy Friday morning, which the surgeon was coming in especially to do before he left for a couple of weeks of conferences that afternoon. I was so very heartened by the warm support and personal response I got from our ever-fantastic doctor team. I know I am very very lucky to have them.
Turns out that what I was feeling was bone. There is so little flesh left in his armpit that his humeral head, unsupported, kind of dips down when his arm is extended. His surgical scar has flattened a lot in the last couple of months, so his armpit must have changed enough that I could feel it easily. It's still a little disturbing that he has bone hanging out of his armpit, but we were all doing a lot of grinning. Our good orthopedic folk are crazy-impressed with Reuben's fine reaching skills, as he shouldn't be able to have the range of motion he does with the muscles he does (or doesn't). I am 1/2 good and proud of him and 1/2 worried for that arm. But, so far:


More updates to wrap up the day from my good mama, further evidence of her stellar mothering work. I have a fine fine family. A nice thing to reflect on, it being Mother's Day week and all. I want to write "Stronger than you Think!" here, too, but I already knew these Frandsens were/are powerhouses.

Hi family,
I just talked with Valerie. She is in Philadelphia and has just seen the doctors. After their examinations, they think there is a possibility that what they are feeling could be bone. They decided to do the MRI this evening and then if it is indicated, they will do the biopsy tomorrow. We are glad for this ray of hope. I guess with the surgery he had in that area, it makes things feel a little different. The MRI should be very helpful. I will write you all again when I hear the MRI results from Valerie. Keep praying. Love, Mom

and (subject line: "Hallelujah!!!!!!")

Hi Family,
Valerie just called with the MRI results--the lump is bone! The orthopedic guy talked to her and they are confident that what they are feeling is bone that seems a little weird just because of the surgery in that area. She said all his doctors are thrilled and amazed by Reuben's range of motion in that arm. He is healing much better than anticipated. So---blessings all around today. Valerie said to thank all of you for your prayers. She has been able to feel calm and do all that was needed and knows it's because of all our prayers. I am so happy. Feels like a huge weight has been lifted out of my stomach pit. Love, Mom