Monday, December 27, 2010

Another homemade gift... Obi-Wan Kenobi costume

I was very excited to make this costume for my Star Wars consumed grandson. He eats and breathes Star Wars and Light Sabers. It is the only thing he asked for for Christmas. I am not well-enough versed in the proper attire and so I searched the web for a costume that looked like it could be copied.

I found this here.

I shopped the second hand stores and found some boots that looked like they would work and a belt. I had recently made a bunch of costumes using a very simple tunic design that I could easily do without a pattern, but I used a costume pattern's hood for a princess (I believe) to make the hood. The top was simply a long rectangular piece of material that I pleated to look like Obi-Wan's top. I also made a white sash on which I glued a section of the belt I had found at the second hand store. I only glued the belt on in 3 spots, so it is easy to clip on the light saber, that I also bought at the second-hand store.

Here is the finished product on my grandson.

So you noticed that the pants don't match the outfit. I decided to not make pants. I knew that he would be wearing it over his clothes and didn't want to make the outfit too hot and too cumbersome to put on.

He loved it!

Christmas Presents-Baby doll carrier and diaper bag

I have been very busy the last month manufacturing gifts for my grandchildren. I decided it was time to share the results. This first set of gifts were for my +/- 2 year olds. I have been keeping track of this website. It has had many gifts to make for children.

I saw this and then adapted it to my own purposes.

I bought a simple and cheap doll from Walmart and made a little pillow and blanket to coordinate.

Then it was time for the diaper bag. The instructions for it are here.

This is how it turned out...

I also added the accessories that I found on the same and here.

The wipes...

The diapers...

Arranged in the diaper bag...

The finished product...

One of my granddaughter's reactions...

Hey, what did you expect from a two year old?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Primary Girls Activity Day - Christmas Service

I was thinking of what I could do in Activity Day this week and remembered something I had done the last time I was Activity Day Leader many years ago. It was based on a story that I had read in The Friend. I didn't remember the story exactly, but I remembered that you made a baby Jesus and manger and then as you did a service for someone, you added a piece of straw to the manger to make the bed soft for the baby Jesus. Imagine my surprise as I searched the website to find that the story had been repeated in the December 2010 issue. I decided it must be a sign.

Last time, we made babies out of sculpey clay and baked them, but they tended to fall apart and the manger was out of popsicle sticks. I wanted to do something different and found this at this website. I decided it would be cheaper if I used the little plastic babies that you can find in the baby shower section of craft stores. It also turned out to be wise because of time constraints.

We had a great time doing it. The hardest part was tying the floss on. We eventually tied the floss around the neck first to get it to stay. The girls were happy and I hope they follow through with acts of service.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Primary Girls Activity Day Play

I was reading ideas for Primary Girl's Activity Day online one day and came across an idea that I loved. I have felt that the girls have not gotten a good basic knowledge of the stories in the scriptures. I wanted to do something that would help them learn at least one story and then this idea popped up that would fulfill 2 achievements and my goal also. I'm sorry to say I can't find the original blog now.

Basically the girls were supposed to pick one Book of Mormon story that they liked and write a play and act it out.

It was difficult to pick a story because the only one they knew was about Nephi, so I started telling them stories from the Book of Mormon. When they learned about Ammon and the possibility of Ammon chopping off arms, they were sold. It took months to write the play, make costumes, scenery and props, and practice. In October, we were finally ready. We performed it for their families during the regular meeting time and then after the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program, we performed it in Primary. It turned out very well. They weren't pros, but they were able to do a good job.

I've blurred out faces for the girls' and our one guest actor's privacy, but here's how things went.

The infamous chopped arms...

The Lamanite shepherd gathering the arms and Ammon gathering the sheep...

The Lamanite shepherd explains what happened to the king...

The king hears about the gospel and faints and lays as if dead for 3 days...

The king preaches the gospel to his people...

The girls loved this long-term activity! It was a perfect idea for our 11-year olds who are so ready emotionally to move into Young Women's, but the younger girls loved it too. It fulfilled two Achievement goals...
Developing Talents # 3 Write a poem, story, or short play that teaches a principle of the gospel or is about Heavenly Father's creations.
Learning and Living the Gospel #6 Tell a story from the Book of Mormon that teaches about faith in Jesus Christ. Share your testimony of the Savior.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Liver surgery is off

Jeanine had her PET scan this week and as you can tell from the label, the surgery is off. She was originally told that if the scan worked and showed cancer in other areas of the body beyond the liver, they would not operate. That is the case. They found that the suspicious spots on her lymph nodes were indeed cancer. This means that operating will not get rid of her cancer and it would still be spreading throughout her body. It is a devastating development.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Simple Ghosts

I was blog-hopping and found a simple project that I loved. I can't find the site that I saw it on, but here is where she said she found it.

I found LED Christmas lights at Walmart, followed the instructions and here is what I got. I still love them!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Oncologist and liver surgery

Jeanine went to see the Oncologist today. He told her that since the Liver Surgeon thinks the liver is operable and that they think they can remove all of the cancer in the liver, he has taken away his objections to her surgery.

He wants her to have a PET scan, if the insurance company will ok it. He says that the kidney cancer does not always show up on it, but if it does, they will be able to tell if her cancer has spread anywhere else. If she has the PET scan and it shows other cancer spots, he will meet with her and explain her options. If the PET scan is not approved or if it shows no other cancer, he says that she can have the surgery. He also told her that liver surgery is a very, very difficult one. She is willing to go through the suffering for the chance to have years (hopefully) of remission.

She was so happy to hear that he had taken away his objections. It's a wait and see game again. We do know that if she has surgery, it cannot be before the 15th of November. She has to be off Avastin for 28 days before surgery.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Liver Surgeon

Jeanine went to see the liver surgeon this week despite objections that her Oncologist expressed to her in a phone conversation the previous Friday. Her Oncologist told her that her chemo was working so there was no need to operate.

She got mixed results from the surgeon. He told her that he could see no reason that he couldn't remove the right lobe of her liver. It would be a very major surgery with a significant recovery time, but he could do it. But... he also told her that he would not do it without her Oncologist's approval. He told her that her Oncologist was a great doctor and he must have a good reason why he felt she shouldn't get a portion of her liver removed. He told her to go back to her Oncologist and find out why. He suggested that there might be other indicators of her cancer having spread beyond the liver that she has not heard about.

For the first time, we also heard the reason that no one has suggested a PET scan, a major indicator of the presence of cancer cells through out the body. We were told that kidney cancer does not react to the radioactive glucose that is the major part of the PET scan's ability to diagnose cancer.

So... Jeanine has an appointment to see her Oncologist next week. We'll see what he has to say. In the meantime, her pain is lessening and she finds herself able to cut back on her pain meds. Hopefully this does mean that her chemo is working.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interventional Radiologist

Jeanine went to see an Interventional Radiologist today. He went through the scan that she had last week and told her that there were a couple of things that he might be able to do for her, but he would prefer for her to go see a doctor who specializes in liver surgery first and explore her options there. Jeanine already has that appointment scheduled for next week.

While we were there, though, I got to see for the first time how much of her liver is cancerous. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the right lobe has cancer running throughout. Her left lobe, though, seems to be clear.

On the report from her scan, it says that the cancer is less dense even though it remains the same size. It was explained that this was necrosis, the death (in this case) of cancer cells in the middle of the tumor in the liver from lack of a blood supply. Because Jeanine is receiving Avastin, this could mean that her treatment is working. According the the Radiologist, it is also the norm that in such a big tumor for the center cells to die from lack of blood flow. It could be just the normal progression of the cancer.

So, for the time being, Jeanine will continue with her therapy and pain meds and we'll see what she finds out next week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fun? over the weekend

Jeanine had her second dose of Avastin on Friday. She called me in a panic on Saturday morning. She had just taken her blood pressure and it was 178/128. I thought it was a good reason to be worried.

She called her oncologist's office and told them of her issue (this was just the highest of the fluctuating blood pressure numbers.) The on-call oncologist returned her call an hour later and told her to go get checked out. He didn't say where, so we headed to an Urgent Care facility. The doctor there talked with her for quite a while, but what he basically told her is that her treatment and her health issues required advice from the oncologist, not him. He told her to go home and call her oncologist's office again and tell them where she had gone and get some answers from him.

When she got home, she called the oncologist's answering service and it was obvious that they immediately talked to the doctor. She got a return call in just a matter of a few moments rather than an hour later. The doctor told her to double up on her blood pressure medicine and come in to see someone on Monday. Her blood pressure did not go up to the same levels again, but she has run around +/- 150/100 since her visit to Urgent Care.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pain revisited

I've talked to Jeanine today and her new pain meds have made a difference. She isn't in the constant horrific pain. We'll see where it goes from here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

re. pain

Jeanine saw her Oncologist this afternoon and he has brought out one of the heavy guns. He has prescribed another pain med for her and also ordered an anti-inflammatory for her. She has come to the point where any movement causes a great deal of pain.

He has also ordered a scan to see what's happening. He said it could go one of two ways... the tumors are growing or are shrinking. He has also suggested that she go get RFA on a spot where there is a lesion close to the lungs. He thinks that there might be inflammation in that area.

We're hoping and praying that her tumors are shrinking and that the pain is an indication of this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another update on Jeanine

Jeanine received the first of her new treatments on Friday, the 17th. With the switch in treatments, she has had a huge change in the amount of pain in her liver. She said that she has never been able to categorize her pain in the traditional 1 - 10 used in the hospital, but she says that the pain she is experiencing now is similar to the pain she feels immediately after a major surgery.

She is still trying to work, but she spent Monday at home and was late to work yesterday. She worked today also. She is relying heavily on her pain meds to make life livable. She has tried to get hold of her doctor's office or the PA, but has never been able to speak to anyone. Finally today she just called and got an appointment with her Oncologist for late Friday afternoon.

She has not asked, but I am sure that she would appreciate your prayers. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jeanine's results

Jeanine went to the doctor today to get her results from her CAT scan. The news was a mixed bag of good and bad.

The growth of the tumors in her kidney has slowed. From March to May, the cancer made a wild dash through her liver, with some tumors growing by as much as 50%. From May to September, it has grown, but only by 15%. There is no evidence of cancer in any of her other organs.

That having been said, the doctor has suggested that he change the class of drugs being used to slow/stop the progression of her disease. He said that he would like her to try a drug that is used for many cancers - Avastin. It is supposed to restrict the blood flow to the cancer cells. Jeanine decided to follow his advice. It will be administered intravenously biweekly. She will begin the treatment on Friday.

Jeanine has pain in her liver and is able to control it with pain meds. The doctor said that if they can isolate where the pain is originating, she might want to consider RFA (radiofrequency ablation) to kill the cancer cells. It cannot be done to every tumor, but if they can figure out where the major pain is originating, then she can have some relief.

Jeanine is handling this latest development pretty well. She headed back to work after the doctor's appointment.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My toes

Friday, my DIL and I went to our friendly neighborhood nail salon and this is what I got...

Here's a close-up...

Not the prettiest feet, by any means, but this is one way to make them look better. (Notice my sliver sized toenails.)


Jeanine went in for a CAT scan on Tuesday. It went well. She will get the results on Tuesday. I let you know more then.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Primary Sacrament Meeting Program Review

My Primary counselor called me on Friday and told me that I would have singing time and the time usually used for sharing time. Sister Friendly was out of town and her substitute had to bow out. What was I going to do?

After some consideration, I decided to combine an old game... "Don't Eat Pete" with a game we played last year.

Here's how it worked...

First I asked 2 of the children that were singing well to come up. One child was sent outside the room while the 2nd child chose which picture was "Pete". I gave the chooser one Skittle candy.

The child came back in the room and started choosing the magnetic boxes (I bought them at Walmart - $3.88 for 3 boxes) under the pictures. They got to eat or keep the one Skittle that was in each box. When they went for "Pete's" box, everyone shouted "Don't Eat Pete". His/her play was over. That child then picked a game piece. This is how they saw it.

This is what was written on them (click on the picture to get a bigger view.)

The next part of the game required the children to follow the instructions on the game piece. Most of them had one of the Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation songs on it, there were a few that had other instructions. The children then (in most cases) sang the song. If they did a good enough job, I moved the flag up each rock the number of Skittles that the child had just earned (anywhere from none to 5).

I do have 2 flags, but only used one in this case. The goal was to take the flag to the top of the mountain in the amount of time that we had. They did a great job. I only refused to move the flag once. It was towards the end of the 45-50 minutes that I had and they were getting a little tired of it all. They didn't sing very well despite the fact that I had all the words for that song. The refusal was meant to be a wake up call and it was.

There were 2 things that I didn't like about this game. The first was that I just had so many parts to the game that I had to be reminded to move the flag or give them their Skittles, etc. Not a huge deal.

The second was that some of the children did not like the shouting of "Don't Eat Pete". They were plugging their ears.

Every child and almost all their teachers played the "Don't Eat Pete" game, but I still handed out some Skittles to each person at the end of Primary. I chose Skittles because we have children with peanut and milk allergies.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flutter Flower Shirt

As I often do, I was surfing the web for great craft ideas and came across this wonderful shirt and decided I had to try it.

I went to Walmart and bought 2 identical shirts that were on sale for $3 each. I then cut part of one of the shirts into 1" to 1 1/2" strips and then cut those strips into 2" rectangles that looked like this.

I cut those rectangles and sewed them as the blogger suggested and this is what they looked like.

I used fabric glue to glue them in place on the shirt and this is what I came up with. It looks even better on me then it does on the table, but the pictures I took look horrible, so you'll just have to imagine it.

If you'd like to see step-by-step instructions, you can find them here. If you decorate the t-shirt as I did, you will probably need at least twice the number of flowers that she used.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Primary Girls Activity Day - the sling

I searched a little on the web and found an idea for Primary Girls Activity Day that sounded really good to me. It fulfills two requirements. The first is from "Learning and Living the Gospel". It is "Tell a story from the Book or Mormon that teaches about faith in Jesus Christ. Share your testimony of the Savior." The other one is from "Developing Talents". It says "Write a poem, story, or short play that teaches a principle of the gospel or is about Heavenly Father's creations."

A few meetings back, we started talking about Book of Mormon stories that teach about faith in Jesus Christ. My girls did not know the Book of Mormon stories very well at all. I had to basically go through and tell them the stories so that they could pick one that they would like to focus on. When I explained that we were going to do a play for our parents, they decided that they would love to get their arms chopped off. So we chose the story of Ammon and the Lamanites.

We spent several weeks writing the play. We've practiced it a couple of times now. We still need to make props, costumes, and sets. Yesterday, I thought we could branch out just a bit and make slings for all the girls. That way Amman could learn how to "kill" a Lamanite with a sling. What fun we had!

I went to the local leather shop and bought a bunch of leather scraps for $4.

I also bought some camo cording at Walmart (I found it in the hardware section). It was about $4. I made a cardboard pattern that was 2"x4" and used my ruler to mark the center of the cardboard just about 3/8" from the ends. I used my Big Bite to punch a hole at those marks.

I then marked the leather using the cardboard pattern and cut the leather pieces out. I did that myself because I didn't want to waste any leather. I also marked the position of the hole. The cording was cut into 48" lengths.

When the girls got to the meeting, they cut the cording in half.

I had them burn the ends of the cording to stop the fraying of the cord. Because it is a plastic-type material, this is the best way to stop the fraying.

They then punched a hole in the leather using the Big Bite.

Now we tied the cording onto the leather and made a slip knot in one end to hold the sling securely on one finger.

And voila! the finished product complete with our stone of choice... a large marshmallow.

The girls had a blast trying this new toy out. Since we have Activity Day at my home and it is so hot outside, a marshmallow worked great. If our Ammon ever gets good enough to actually use the sling with the marshmallow, it won't hurt the Lamanite too badly. I didn't think to take pictures while we were actually doing this activity, so I've recreated what we did and included a clip from Youtube that shows how to use a sling.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Singing Time

I had a great Primary Singing Time this week. It was about as much fun as I have ever had in this calling and that is saying a lot!

It was based on this this website that I love. She has activities that work with my personality and strong points. I found this use for an ipod. I also found this cookie making idea. I then combined them for my singing time yesterday. I also changed them so that the chance for success was much better. I don't like setting children up for failure and then rewarding them for that failure.

The activity had 2 facets as do most of my singing time activities. The first facet was a game that we played between the boys and girls. I would have a representative from each group come up one at a time and I would let them listen with the earbuds to the song from the Sacrament Meeting Presentation on the ipod. They would then hum to it. I didn't limit the number of notes. Instead I let them hum until I saw looks of recognition on many faces and hands going up. I learned as I was standing there that many children cannot hum a tune, even if they can sing it. (Side note: If you ever want a totally quiet Primary, have a child hum and have the children try to recognize the song. There was NO extraneous noise at all!) I let one 3 year old hum the entire song and even I couldn't recognize it, so I told him to sing it and they all knew it then. As this was preliminary to the main event, I didn't make this particular part of my singing time very hard or time-consuming.

For the second facet of our singing time, I had this posted on the board...

I told the children that I was going to make cookies based on how they sang the song that they had just recognized. If they sang well, I would put the good ingredients (the black words) into the bowl. If they sang badly, I would add the bad ingredients (the red words). I would then make the cookies and we would have them as a snack at the end of Primary.

I made cookies before I came to Primary to hand out, since I knew that there would not be enough time to cook them.

Those children sang their hearts out! It had been a long time since they had sung many of the songs, but they tried sooo very hard. I started out with easier songs to remember, then moved on to the harder ones.

I had a 3 year old who would sing an ahhh sound as loud as she could if she didn't know the words. I ended up mouthing the words to her so she would sing them and she did!

We ended with more ingredients to add but I told them that I would finish them in the kitchen. There was not a bad ingredient in the batch. I had planned it so it would end up that way. I knew those children would respond to this challenge in this way.

I will probably do the second facet of this activity again, as we get closer to the Primary Presentation for Sacrament Meeting. I will be much harder on the kids and I will redo my recipe so that if they earned the bad ingredients with a poor performance, I could cook it up and give it to them to taste. I don't think I would give them the good cookies. I would then do the same thing a week or two later and see how they did, since they would know what my standards were at that point.

Time with Grandma

When my grandchildren are about 10 months old, I begin a one-on-one time with them on my bed. I keep a selection of books that I only read to them there and they have a very, very simple activity that we do there. It is simply called "The Sponges".

I have made many of these over the years because they wear out, but I always make more because they seem to love the activity. It is similar in theory to the Tupperware Shape-O.

But it is for a much younger age group. I did at one time try different shapes in the lid, but for the age group I target, it doesn't really work.

So a quick tutorial, though you probably could figure it out on your own.

First, I buy sponges.

I haven't bought them in years, but used to be able to find them in the dollar bins at the grocery store.

They are always flexible, wet or dry.

I then take a cheap plastic container leftover from cottage cheese, sour cream, etc and outline a hole about the size of a half dollar.

I cut it out and make sure that there are no burrs around the cut area. If there are, I recut.

I then cut the sponges into 1 1/2" shapes. They can be any shape. I didn't cut any out this time since the sponges last much longer than the containers. Here is why I'm replacing the lid...

Here is the finished product.

Of course, the children adjust the activity to fit their age.

This activity has been popular with each of my children and grandchildren. It is not pretty, but they love it.