September 2, 2014

365 Days, Week XXXII.

This was Playcation week. Once again, we lived large at the Grand Dubs house and mostly played our days away. We ventured into downtown Chicago for a few days midweek, where the Craunlets were completely enamored with the city. Highlights included the hotel pool on the roof, and a late night swim, riding the ferris wheel at Navy Pier at dusk, viewing the Thorne miniature rooms at the Chicago Institute of Art, and spending nearly all of a day at the Museum of Science and Industry.

We came home exhausted, which is a mark of a certain great time, and started to assemble ourselves for back to school. Week thirty-two of 2014 we did our very best to wring out the last days of Summer break:


Riding in the backseat squeezed between the Craunlets, and getting silly with Nathaniel with the windows down.


Craunlets taking in the Thorne Rooms at the Chicago Institute of Art. They were rapt by the 68 detailed miniature interiors.


We crossed this bridge on foot, just before it was lifted, the Craunlets enjoyed every aspect of the bustling city.


The Craunlets helped Grandma Dubs whip up some tapioca pudding. 


Quiet morning after a slew of jam-packed days at the Grand Dubs.


Being on vacation is such an exhausting endeavor.


Craunlets enjoying a round of Operation while we wait for lunch. Recovering from vacation.
Dinner at Deweys, because the kitchen is without food from missing the weekend Farmers Market.

August 29, 2014

The Appointment.

It has come at last. The appointment we hoped would never be upon us.

The news was delivered by her most compassionate doctor so eloquently, as he always does:

"As she grows, so does her curve."

My heart fell. 

Then my mind raced.

And it has yet to slow down.

Here we are at this junction that we have worked so hard to navigate around. Years of casting, followed by years of bracing, and now we face the moment we initially dodged more than seven years ago. We consider the next steps for how to hold back this curve.

And I've thought long, over these last several weeks since this appointment, about straight and curve. About that crazy contagious smile of hers, a perfect curve. But I keep coming back to "As she grows..." and all of the other endings that also exist for this simile that her doctor offered.

As she grows, so does her confidence.

As she grows, so do her interests.

As she grows, so does her personality.

As she grows, so does her determination.

As she grows, so does her compassionate heart.

As she grows, so do her friendships.

As she grows, so does her style.

As she grows, so does her sense of humor.

As she grows, so does her courageousness.

As she grows, so does her contagious laugh.

As she grows, so does her heart.

And then it hit me the hardest--right to my core--that as she grows, so she she grows us all.

*   *   *

Readers unfamiliar with our journey can catch up through previous posts here, here, here, and here, as well as the many, many posts linked within these posts. 

365 Days, Week XXXI.

July turned to August, and at last this week we drove off onto our 9th Annual Playcation to Chicago. We were in Cleveland most of the week, counting down the days for vacation, getting ready for the school year, and squeezing out a little more Summer fun.

Art was made, donuts were eaten, we ventured to MOCA Cleveland and thoroughly enjoyed the Corita Kent exhibition. Lunches were spoiled with ice cream cones, and care packages were created for our Awesome Aunt Jan. Then we packed up, and hit the road for Chicago to hang out with the Grand Dubs.

Week thirty-one of 2014:


We tried Pour Cleveland at last today, seemed appropriate as it was pouring down rain this morning.

Moved mountains in my home studio today, and loving this little suite of prints. 


Press time on the Vandercook today, helping a friend with a batch of polymer plates. So good to be in ink again.


The Corita Kent exhibition at MOCA Cleveland was a stunner, the better part of our afternoon, and an absolute pick-me-up.


This girl. Her confidence and her crazy ability to rise above. 


Craunlets putting our second care package in the post to Awesome Aunt Jan.


At the Grand Dubs, and perfectly at ease. Enjoying the new cushioned toy bench.

When not playing, Playcation is marked by much lounging around and relaxing with the Grand Dubs.


Cutting it up for the Craunlets, a job description we take pretty seriously. I believe Isabella captured this shot.

August 19, 2014

Because When it Rains, it Pours.

Yesterday over dinner David was telling me how he shared with a colleague earlier in the day that he feels like we are in a "book of Job season" with the house –– a season of near constant trial and testing. Friends, it is already past the middle of August and we have had so many other projects unexpectedly pop up demanding our attention, that we haven't set a paintbrush to the exterior of our house since May. To sum it up, it's been absolutely insane. Times a million.

We got the Craunlets off to bed last night, later than we had hoped as we are practicing for our earlier school schedule that we need to start for real on Thursday. So, it's after nine pm and we are tidying up the house. We had a playdate scheduled for this morning, so we decided to get a few things downstairs.

Dave carried a stack of canning jars, in their cardboard trays, down to store them on top of our deep freezer. There were already a few independent jars setting there, so we thought we would consolidate.

And friends, the very next thing that I heard after his footsteps down the stairs was a quick clamoring sound, a loud out-of-character exclamation of shock/frustration, and then what I can only equate to as Niagara Falls. 

One empty ball jar fell over the edge of the deep freezer.

Landing directly on the valve of the hot water heater.

AND I KID YOU NOT –– THAT DAMN JAR DID NOT BREAK. Instead, the valve busted straight off the hot water heater.

Let that soak in for a second. 

Because it did, and that fast. 

The gushing torrent of water sent that Ball jar half way across the room and began flooding the basement while we watched in absolute shock and horror.

And then my amazing husband, who works harder than any one person I know on this planet, turned off the water. He gathered his wits for a few moments upstairs, and then that man spent the better part of his sleep hours drying out the basement and all of its belongings, to next research hot water heater valve replacement.

Then –– after almost no sleep –– he woke up with the sun to be Home Depot's very first customer this morning to buy the replacement parts we needed. He had the entire job done, and the hot water heater back in commission and heating up by the time he left for work shortly after eight am. After he made me espresso. Because he is a Saint.

Look at that beauty:

I'm guessing the next jar that falls will shatter.

365 Days, Week XXX.

A mix of things filled this week, as we slowly inch towards our August vacation, all of us feeling the urgency of needing a break. We planted miniature gardens, and have crossed all of our fingers that we will be able to keep them alive. I fell head-over-heels for the tiny pair of garden flamingos, and absolutely love their punchy bright pop against the lush green. It's the little things.

I carved out more space this week for printing, and spent several afternoons in my home studio polishing a copper plate. The rhythm of restoration is such a lulling one. Several great proofs were pulled in the studio, and I am looking forward to my increased press time in the next few weeks after the Craunlets return to school.

We crafted, caught up on all sorts of indoor household projects, and then wrapped up the week at our friends pool. The Craunlets drove around in a miniature electronic car, and it was fabulous to sit in the sun and catch up with my deer friend. 

Week thirty of 2014 felt like a sweet glimpse of the season ahead, more time for art and friends, and also the solo time that I am so desperately craving again:


Bright and cheeky supplies for a new mini terrarium.


Spent the afternoon polishing a clipper plate, preparing the surface for printing again, and enjoying a studio reflection. 


How Nathaniel spent his rest time; kid loves those peeler melting beads.


Made a mound of fire starters, nice to have a lengthly mindless task today, and the smell of hot wax...


These two. I adore their closeness, and their sweet friendship. I pray they are always good friends. 


Celebrated with friends today, and their sweet two babes with August birthdays. So sweet.


Finally getting to the USA map on the resurfaced chalkboard. Inching along.

August 18, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, on the heels of a fabulous weekend getaway to Pittsburgh, we ventured a couple more hours in the vehicle to drop in on our Awesome Aunt Jan. She's been in the care of hospice since Tuesday, and there was a certain "now's the moment" urgency in both Dave and my spirits. So we picked up the Craunlets from the Grandparents, and were shortly on our way. En route, we dashed quickly into Trader Joe's to grab some fresh flowers. Four bouquets later–every shade of purple available–I was crafting a wildly full floral arrangement into a large glass vase while Dave continued to drive. It's crazy amounts exhilarating to carve out time, and more so even to lavish on the love to our Awesome Aunt Jan.

She's awesome for lots of reasons, but her title was come upon originally by Nathaniel, after we were explaining that she is his Great-Great-Aunt, as she is Dave's Great-Aunt. It was a quick deduction, and he repeated his understanding by asking "so basically she is our Awesome Aunt Jan?" And well, YEAH. She is. 

I know awesome is greatly overused in daily lexicon, and it's lustre and full impact have really worn off for many. But Aunt Jan, she lives Awesome. It's in her DNA. It's in her wide smile, buoyant laugh, and her playful constant energy for life. It's in her listening eyes, and engaged story telling. It's in her always looking to the youngest of generations. At the matriarchal top of the family, she invests her fullest interest always at the newest growths in the family tree. She was endlessly attentive to what the Craunlets were up to, and still when we all four visit, she pays most of her conversation to them. To the future of the family. That's crazy awesome legacy; always sowing down. Dave can remember this same attention growing up...every cousin getting their turn in her limelight as they joined the family. The young always having her fullest attention.

We strolled into her room with our half-a-garden arrangement in the early evening, and she was drifting in sleep. We roused her just slightly with conversation as I held her hand. She barely lifted her eyelids for a moment, but she smiled that contagious smile of hers constant. I told her about the purple flowers at the foot of her bed, and through her smile–with completely closed eyes–she remarked confidently and full of dramatic inflection: "they're gorgeous!" I squeezed her hand, and agreed. They were gorgeous.

But more gorgeous is that life-forward and always-positive muscle memory of her thought-life and  words. Of course they were gorgeous. It was difficult not to cry. Her spirit is so beautiful and full, warm and welcoming. She spoke that they were gorgeous, and they were. She absolutely didn't need to see them. Her heart knew. That's how she lives. 

We conversed among the room with our Aunt and Uncle, and just let her rest in the lulling sound of our conversations. We shared chocolate covered pretzels that we brought and enjoyed an hour of just being near Awesome Aunt Jan. 

When we went to leave, I held her hand again, and we asked her if she had the energy to be awake for a little while, and to say goodbye to us. She opened her eyes, stared directly into mine and held conversation for several minutes through her obvious exhaustion. She saw the flowers, and remarked again: "they're gorgeous!" Her favorite color. She moved her gaze down to Isabella, wearing a purple shirt, and began conversing with her as well. Like she always does. 

We mentioned how we hoped we would get to show her Wii tennis, knowing how much she loved to play in read life, and I was floored by her sudden energy. There she was, swinging her tennis arm, dancing her feet around, and ready to play. 

Because the patterns of her life are so incredibly strong. So energetic and contagious. Her body, her language, her whole life speaks so loud. She is Awesome Aunt Jan, and she is gorgeous.

August 7, 2014

365 Days, Week XXIX.

This week was marked with playground accomplishments of bravery and boldness and some fabulous Craunlet teamwork. I made a delicious local food trade [scoring some impossibly out-of-season blanched and frozen ramps] and we enjoyed some impromptu shopping at the West Side Market. The spice shelf is at last finished and installed in the kitchen, and all of my spices are re-filled and organized. 

At the end of the week, we packed it up and adventured to Toledo to check out another Science Center [have I mentioned how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the reciprocity of our Great Lakes Science Center Membership??!!] and met up with family. We overnighted in a hotel, one of the Craunlets very favorite things to do, and enjoyed a swim in the indoor pool. Sunday, we ventured to the African Wildlife Safari and had a ridiculous amounts frightening + fun time all at once! 

Week twenty-nine of 2014 was full of food, play, and adventure:


Monday morning playground time. I love watching these two work together.


These are the Craunlets on Lego, building their dream homes.
New spice shelf, perfectly made for the space between the range and cupboards by my handy better half. 


Working into his 3rd grade math, Summer school style -- laid back and bare feet. 


A quick food trade in the morning; red currants, pineapple mint, several bags of blanched/frozen ramps and a kombucha mother. I LOVE our local food scene.


We came for leaf lettuce, and detoured to the cannoli stand for a little sweet treat.


All packed up and ready for a weekend getaway to Toledo with family.


The calm before the storm, wherein a bison fits his entire head through my window and fills the front seat area of the car.

Before our super up-close wildlife encounters that caused the backseat contingent to fall to tears and regroup.

Full disclosure, and photo credit: the two car shots above were taken by Tessa Gilfillan-Jones. I included them in the photo-a-day round up this week as the best visual representation of the day. I captured several shots, my favorites being these three from the quiet morning in the hotel, before the Wildlife Safari:


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