Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fun Family Time -- Jimmy Fund Summer Festival

Ahhhhhhhh.  Yes, that was a long sigh of relief.  Relief over the unnecessary anxiety of going far from the house for a day of fun, hoping it would turn out that way.

 And it did.  The Jimmy Fund Clinic puts on a Summer Festival in Dedham for their cancer patients and families and it was pretty great.  Carnival rides, complete with midway games.  Of course there was cotton candy and fried dough, because, DUH, couldn't be a carnival without it.  There was an adorable animal baby petting zoo that you couldn't drag Jack from.  The police car ride was a big hit.  The BBQ was tasty.  Photos with princesses and Wally the Green Monster was part of the fun.  Wouldn't be a great day without balloon hats.  Running into families that we've connected with along this journey was extra special. 

So glad to have the kids' cousins with us.
Haley in heaven with her princesses
Jack is definitely a Wally stalker.
Loved the police car ride, minus the sirens.  :)

Balloon hats.  Enough said.

Thank you Jimmy Fund.  It was definitely a day you could forget about your burdens. 

If you would like to learn more about the Jimmy Fund Clinic and all they do for families like us, click here.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Folding Beach Sling Chairs

Can I just tell you that I love these chairs?  They are adorable, COMFORTABLE, and pretty darned easy to make.  Heck, I made five of them!  The plans are available from Ana White for free!  If you know me, you know I worship the Alaskan ground she walks on.  :)

I made three of the adult versions as a special thank you to my son's preschool teacher and aides.  He is a full-time job in and out of our home and these ladies needed a place to relax for the summer.  I hope they've got a lot of use out of them.  I purchased the fabric from JoAnne's Fabrics and the wood I used for these is cedar, coated with Thompson's Water Sealer.  You can find the plans for the adult-sized version of the beach sling chair here.

I also had to make a few for my little darlings.  Ana has slightly different plans for the kid's version.  You can find the plans here.  These bad boys were made with pine, and I decided to paint them with white exterior paint. 

Made the kid's chairs with reversible fabric.

I'm kind of thinking they approve.  :)

Surprise yourself or someone else by giving these a try.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Custom Work Bench

I hate the mess of my garage.  This is what I've been working with : a piece of plywood propped on two saw horses, with loads of supplies taking up every last inch of space.

I was beginning to wonder why I didn't want to go into the garage, what I hoped would be my haven after a crazy day of singing the ABC's with my 3 year old and giving chemo treatments to my 6 year old with leukemia.

Then it dawned on me: I'm not organized!!! I start to get the shakes if things are not in their place. So, I began to dream up my perfect work bench, one place where I can store my main necessities.

I don't work well without plans. So I checked out Ana White's site (my go to girl) to see if she had anything resembling my inspiration.  Nope.  Of course it dawned on me too late to contact Ana herself to help me. But when I thought about it, I realized that it was basically a box.   Just start with a box. So I checked out a few of Ana's plans that started out as a box and went from there.

Here she is in all her painted glory:  

I knew I wanted drawers on one side and shelves on the other. As I went along I decided to add a few contained shelves on the side of the bench to store the wood glue, wax, and other smaller items. On the other side of the bench (because I HAVE to make use of all space), I saved the cans from some crushed tomatoes I had used to make a sauce, and used some hose clamps to keep them in place. I keep all my brushes in these babies. I made the shelves adjustable and decided that looking at the back of the drawers was undesirable, so I purchased a $5 curtain and stapled it in place to hang behind the shelves hiding the drawers -- so girly! Gotta have that little feminine flavor to my work bench (as if the color didn't do it enough).

And there is my $5 curtain staples behind the shelves

The cans make the brushes easily accessible

Used cubby organizers for the drawers -- works perfectly!

I used different wood I had hanging around to trim out the door

The drawers were the biggest hassle because I made a very bad builder mistake. I rushed them and don't even think I took out a square once to make them. Bad builder. Bad, bad, BAD BUILDER!! I was tired and was in such a hurry to finish this bench so I could get organized and the shakes would stop. So, in the end, the drawers don't work perfectly and I'm constantly reminded of my shortcut every time I open them. (And every time my husband reminds me as he helped me with the drawer slides and cursed the whole time.) Each drawer is trimmed out differently as I was just using the different wood and choices I had laying around. The knobs were a great flea market find at 25 cents a pop.

For the paint, I created my own mixture.  A little of this, a little of that.  I just wanted the piece to "pop" and add that Debbie touch to the garage.  I thought I would try Annie Sloan's dark wax around the edges of the drawers and under the knobs for a "dirty and worn look" and I think I achieved it.  Adding casters to the base was a no-brainer as I needed this work space to be mobile.

In the end, I love her. I'm organized, or as organized as I can be right now. Besides my power tools, I have everything at my fingertips. And if the garage becomes a mess again, I know it won't be because my stuff doesn't have a home. And with this paint color, I'll be able to find her no problem. :)

Oh yea, that is a beer on top. I deserved it.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Leukemia and our boy.

If you are a friend or relative, you know that our son has leukemia.  Jack is 6 years old and was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) the day after Thanksgiving.  "Black Friday" has a whole new meaning to us now.  Jack also has Down syndrome, and children with DS are at a greater risk (20% more) than typical kids.  Still, a longshot.  Guess he should play the lottery.

Anyhow, about the first month of treatment was inpatient at Children's Hospital in Boston.  The following 2 years is outpatient treatments.  That's right, no mis-typing here:  2 years.  At this point in the protocol to treat ALL, we go into the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston once a week.  Soon, we'll only need to travel in once every three weeks for the duration of his treatment.  But Jack continuously gets medicine at home and chemotherapy at home too.  And I have the pleasure of giving him his chemotherapy through his port on Saturday mornings.  I never thought I would be loading my little boy with a neon yellow liquid through a syringe, attached to a port under his skin, that feeds into a major vein. But hey, you deal with what lift throws at you.

He's such a trooper.  I mean a genuine hero.  He goes through all of this with a smile pasted on his face.  As I'm writing this today, he is back in the hospital due to a fever.  But he keeps his smile.  And because of that smile, and all he has gone through, he's changed hundreds, if not thousands of lives.  Amazing things have happened to our family:  so many cards and letters that a 55 gallon container can't keep it's top on; friends organizing a Run For Jack 5k; blood drive in Jack's honor, numerous fundraising events; a song written just for Jack; features in multiple newspapers; people we don't know reaching out to us from around the world. As I sit here, I know I'm missing more, as it's all been so overwhelming.  Wonderfully overwhelming. This little boy has made a difference, and isn't that what it's all about?

Here's a little photo collage from his first 7 months of treatment:

Being silly
Loads of mail

More silliness
And more mail  :)
Surrounded by the Red Sox
Loving his little black car
Celebrating his 6th birthday in the hospital
His sister's love
Coming home after our first month's stay
More adventures through the hospital
The dreaded mouth sores
The banner at the blood drive.  And a peek of the beautiful painting made by a friend.
I can play doctor too
Downing the chips after a lumbar puncture
More hospital explorations
Always happy
In the ER, waiting to be admitted, again
Loving on Daddy
Tired, and will fall asleep where it's warm
Even on the floor
Enjoying a little break from our clinic visit
Fooling around with sister
Loving his reflection in the ambulance windows
Still happy  :)