Crochet Rope Basket

18 Apr Featured Image -- 820

busymommaof2:

I love crochet. Great Crochet And Crafts blog to follow.

Originally posted on Make My Day Creative:

Customisable Crochet Basket

Customisable Crochet Basket


I’ve been looking for a basket of specific dimensions for a while without any luck.  Then I saw a circular version of this idea and realised I could make my own!

This uses a technique similar to thrumming, where you crochet over another thread to add bulk to a fabric.  If you have ever crocheted over your ends to avoid weaving in, this works the same way.

In this case I used rope instead of another yarn, which is a lot bulkier but great for adding stiffness and making each row deeper.  This project had the added bonus of using up a single skein I had left in my stash!

The resulting basket is rectangular with rounded corners.

Finished article

Finished article

You will need:

  • Length of rope (mine was 38m in length and 6mm diameter, for a 22x42x17cm basket)
  • Stash yarn (I used 310m of Patons 100% cotton 4ply in…

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Tomorrow, April 1st, is a very special “Special Day!”

31 Mar

The First of April is many things to many different people.

For many of us pranksters out there April 1st is a national holiday ( April Fools Day is one of my top 5 favorite days of the year!). I start mapping out my childish, funny to me and hopefully harmless gags for April Fools Day starting on April 2! I am so blessed to have my youngest daughter join me in a love of all things funny on this day. Look out Hannah because I have some special pranks lined up for you!

For others April 1 is the true start of spring. My mom starts reading the Burpee Seed Catalogs and planning the precise locations, types and number of flowers she will begin planting in late May.

Beyond the pranks and planting of seedlings, April 1st is a very special day for me. For it was on April 1st that my mother and father received a call from an adoption agency letting them know that they were the proud parents of a 6 week old baby girl, me! Every year since I was old enough to remember, my family has celebrated our “Special Day” when we were brought together.

This year I am so blessed to be able to share this day with my best friend, Rebecca, as she too celebrates April 1st as a 10 year Survivor of Uterine Cancer!

I will never forget sitting with Rebecca 10 years ago in late March as her OB/GYN quietly and definitively said the word Cancer. To this day I can not forget the look of utter devastation, fear and sadness that encompassed my dearest of friends as she collapsed into my arms racked by tears of emotional pain that would kill most of us on the spot. Her surgeon went on to tell us that she was scheduling her surgery for the morning of April 1st, 2004 a mere few days away.

At the mention of the date for her surgery, Rebecca immediately stopped crying and simply said “No.” She went on to ask the surgeon to schedule the operation for any other date except for April 1st.

Now, I don’t know if you have a best friend or not or if you have ever had the opportunity to see the soul of a genuinely “good” person in action. If you haven’t then I pray that you do because true acts of selflessness will humble you and bring you to your knees in a way that changes you for good. There I sat with who was (and still is) my then 33 year old, unmarried, best friend without any children, who was being told that the chances of her retaining any possibility to bear children from her body were 1 in never as she tried to explain to this surgeon why April 1st was not an option. Rebecca told her it was my “special day” and there was no way she was having surgery that day.

How after being told such an awful diagnosis with life altering and devastating information, this beautiful young woman thought of anyone else, let alone me, to this day floods me with emotions that I am still unable to put into words. After much convincing between me and her surgeon, Rebecca finally agreed to schedule her surgery for April 1st.

To me, it made sense that she have her surgery on April 1st because that is my lucky day and I couldn’t and can’t think of a more deserving person to share in my luck! April 1st is my day of new beginnings and while this was surely not the new beginning Rebecca was dreaming about it would be the first day of her healing and I wasn’t about to let my best friend die that day or any other day!

And now, 10 years later Rebecca is cancer free, married to an amazing man, the aunt of two wonderful children and the auntie of my two daughters. She is the most amazing teacher that ever lived and while she may not have children of her body she has certainly become the mother of all children that pass through her classroom and her life.

I could not nor cannot ever bear the thought of losing Rebecca and that is why tomorrow is “OUR” special day.

I love you Beck Beck. Thank you for all you have done for me. God Bless You Always!

Back to the Future, Part 3 of Me…

27 Feb

This afternoon at a Shell Gas Station not far from where my office is in Cleveland, Ohio, I met a young woman experiencing a pretty awful moment in her new marriage. This was a smack in my face “Back to the Future, part 3″ moment. For those of you born after 1985 and whom have never seen these movies I encourage you to bookmark this blog, go watch all 3 movies (they are fabulous) then come back and finish reading. You’re going to need the point of reference. The rest of you who watched these movies, well, keep on reading. And, it’s ok to keep reading even if you haven’t seen them just bear with my ’80′s flashbacks…..

In Part 3 the Professor and Marty McFly head both to the future and back in time. The Professor warns Marty to avoid seeing “himself in the future” and his “current self” who went to the past several months prior. Marty is warned that coming face to face with his “current” self could have consequences of epic proportions. Today, at 2:15pm I came face to face with my past self… OK it wasn’t my past self but it was with a girl who was headed down the path I walked and I could not stop her, no matter how much I tried. Here is what happened…

I walked in to pay for my gas and overheard a slender, blonde woman, who really didn’t look like she was feeling well, using the gas station phone to try and reach her husband. The clerk at the register was offering suggestions to this woman who appeared to be stranded there by her husband. I asked her if she needed some help. She went on to say she had just had a minor outpatient surgical procedure and upon leaving the surgery center she and her husband had had a fight. He dropped her off at the gas station and drove away leaving her there almost 30 minutes prior to me showing up. Her cell phone was in the car with him and he wasn’t answering either his cell or hers.

I offered, more like plead, with her to take her home, to a shelter, to the police, to my office to anywhere but the gas station and him. She was pale and weak from her procedure and needed rest. The young woman refused to sit down. Having no idea where she lived or if she had family that would care for her I again offered to take her somewhere, anywhere! She told me where she lived which turned out to be about an hour and a half from where we currently were. I told her I didn’t care, that I knew she didn’t know me, but I would be happy to take her home. I explained that I knew exactly how she was feeling and had experienced very similar circumstances in my past marriage. All the while I was offering to drive her, I knew she would never say yes. She was young, she was inexperienced with the pain of an abusive marriage and truly believed it would get better. I knew this because I was looking at myself 14 years in the past.

No, I was never left at a gas station, but I was merely dropped off at the urgent care after I “fell down the stairs” after hanging a picture, left at the door of the maternity ward to have a D&C following a miscarriage after 4 months of pregnancy, left at the surgery center to have my dead and infected gallbladder removed, left at the ER alone following my first epileptic seizure (he had something better to do…), and countless other times I was left alone to face an emergency or crisis or illness or whatever it was that he was too emotionally unprepared or unwilling to handle or just too busy to take the time to be there for me. Had some strange woman offered to take me home I too would probably have said no believing he would eventually come back for me. Then again, I didn’t have that sort of offer and I will never really know for sure how I would have answered.

I wanted to tuck this girl in my pocket and drive her so far away from this man, her husband who took a vow to be there for her in sickness and in health. But she would not go and you can’t make someone accept your help. All you can do is offer it with sincerity and the courage to back it up in case they ever say yes. So, I stood there with her and waited. We waited, and waited, and waited and finally after 45 minutes of waiting he came back. Her face beamed when he pulled up. “See” she said! “I told you he would come back for me.” All the while forgetting that he had LEFT HIS WIFE AT A GAS STATION FOLLOWING SURGERY BECAUSE HE WAS UNHAPPY WITH HER!!!

I offered one last time to take her home or to a shelter where she would be safe. She thanked me and said she’d be fine, after all, she said, he has never hit her. Oh dear child! I wanted again to tuck her away letting her know that bruises and words carry the same pain yet often the pain of the words carry scars long after the bruises fade.

I gave her my business card, pointing out that my cell phone number was on it. Please call me if you need anything I told her as I walked her to and helped in the waiting minivan driven by this man she called her husband. The man that had on their wedding day promised for better or for worse. I really hope things work out for those two before they get worse…

After leaving the gas station and going back to work it was more than an hour before I could feel the blood moving in my fingers again and was able to stop visibly shaking (I just kept telling people I was cold). Looking at myself in the past through the eyes of my future was almost more than I could bear today. I’m one of the lucky ones. I changed my future and it is looking really bright! But in Back to the Future the Professor was right, coming face to face with your past does have consequences of epic proportion. Mine? I may well be haunted by the face of this young woman today forever, but I’m going to keep looking and keep offering to help because one day someone is going to say “yes.”

Our Self-Imposed Scientific Process of Our Lives

7 Feb 20140207-012607.jpg

Have you ever found yourself at a point in life where you begin to not just believe but accept that you no longer deserve good things to happen to you? Have you ever convinced yourself that true love and affection is a mere fairy tale or only happens to someone else?

Perhaps you’re even able to provide supporting evidence to back up these feelings; multiple failed relationships, abusive marriages, losing job after job, unable to keep a positive bank balance, and living day after day in a perpetual cycle of Murphy’s Law of unfortunate events.

After a time you move past wondering what you can do about the negative karma and begin to accept that your new reality is a black cloud hovering above you that the strongest wind will never be strong enough to blow away.

Have you ever felt that you are not only unloveable but incapable of love? I have felt that way.

But then in the most unlikely of places, hundreds of miles away from home, without even looking or knowing or expecting it, there was a stranger, a voice on the telephone, a person who without ever meeting me actually believed in me. Not just believed me but believed IN ME!

No expectations just conversations. And in the midst of these conversations I began to realise that the Murphy’s Law of adversity I was living in was actually my own creation.

We are each our own individual, sadistic science experiments. We create a hypothesis of what we think we deserve in life and then perform experiment after experiment, building the evidence to prove our theories correct. At the end, we conclude that yes, we deserve our lot in life for good or for ill. And then we move forward in life as if we have no control of our fate.

By living our lives through these self inflicted conclusions we have failed and worse we accept our failure based on flawed data. A true scientific process does not end with one theory, one hypothesis and one conclusion.

True scientists continue to retest their theories, formulate new hypotheses, gather additional evidence and adjust and reformulate their conclusions. So why don’t we do that with our own life theories?

An amazing person spoke through my doubt and disbelief saying to me “we owe it to ourselves to see what happens.” And he is absolutely right! You and I who live under the self-created cloud built from the truth of a thousand lies deserve better tomorrow’s than our today’s.

I dare you to retest your theory of negativity with a new hypothesis based on positivity. Seek out new evidence to prove yourself loveable and formulate a new conclusion that you deserve good things to happen to you. And slowly but surely that black cloud will reveal it’s silver lining.

It won’t be easy but the results will be amazing. Because this amazing person is right. We DO owe it to ourselves.

What if…I told you I know about a website where your child is being bullied?

18 Oct

Today, while looking for something on the internet I came across a website called ask.fm. Because of the way I have my search engines set up I suddenly realised my children had been on this website several times. Nothing gets my mom radar moving quicker than seeing a website repeatedly visited by both of my children, especially when it has the look and feel of social media (neither of them has yet to turn 13 years old, that skewed and randomly chosen Facebook age of consent).

As I looked at the site with my mom goggles (move over Google you don’t have anything over a mom on an internet sleuthing mission) I became increasingly uncomfortable with what I was reading. Parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, and all concerned adults, you might want to sit down or pull over before reading further. Because what I’m going to tell you will make your skin crawl.

Thankfully, after a few hours of research and several conversations with my children later I was convinced they were not actively participating on this site but that didn’t really matter because the damage had already been done simply by visiting the site and reading the posts.

Ask.fm is a social networking site that enables individuals to ask “questions” of a specific person with an active ask.fm profile. What is so unique and extremely concerning about this site is the one asking the questions is anonymous while the one answering the questions is not (likely the profile of the person answering CAN be anonymous, but the teens and pre-teens whom seem to make up the majority of ask.fm active users answering these questions do not use anonymous profiles).

To restate the purpose of this site…an ANONYMOUS Asker posts a question, ANY question, to a KNOWN person whom is expected to answer that question. I know you all are smart people and I bet you can see where this is going…and you are right! Before you become too comfortable, while you are headed in the right direction after looking at the site it goes far beyond anything one could imagine.

Right before my eyes I saw 11 year olds asked questions related to their personal experiences with sex and drugs (this wasn’t limited to just 11 year olds by the way, those were common and consistent questions on almost every teen’s site). As if the inappropriate questions weren’t harmful enough, I was unprepared for the pervasive, blatant and violent cyber bullying occurring via anonymous tormentor on almost every single ask.fm account I reviewed.

Askers were not just asking questions but they were also posting statements such as “you are a whore, you’re a slut, you’re a bitch, you are fat, you’re ugly,” and the bone chilling and frequent question “why don’t you just kill yourself?” I fancy myself a mom in the know, on top of social media, a mom with adequate parental controls backed up by my own review of my children’s internet usage and that being said this website still had flown completely below my radar.

Now, I’m sure you are much more savvy than I am and are probably thinking to yourself “what an idiot?” and “how can you call yourself an internet savvy mom and NOT know about ask.fm?” Well, I didn’t and after talking to several other parents today they didn’t either. For you “in the know” parents please keep reading because I, actually, we all, need your help!

During the course of my “browsing” I came across the profiles of several of my children’s classmates. Oddly and thankfully none of these students were close friends of my children. In fact, most of them weren’t even actually friends. Of the student profile names my children recognised they were either acquaintances or faces that they recognised and sometimes did and sometimes didn’t know their full names.

There was one profile that concerned me enough to read through months of ask.fm questions and answers. The Q and A painted a picture of a 13 year old youth experiencing a year long, physically abusive dating relationship, participating in and answering questions related to oral sex and suffering repeated bullying and verbal attacks by classmates. I asked my oldest if this student was a friend and they are not. I was taken by surprise to learn that this student is considered very popular and liked by both girls and boys alike. I don’t know why that surprised me, it just did. I didn’t discuss anything I had read with my oldest (some of the questions made me blush and twice I had to look things up on google to know what the question even meant).

So now I’m disturbed and concerned. What do I do with this information? Many would say I should mind my own business while others would demand to know why I hadn’t already been knocking on the principal’s door and some would even question my reading of the Q and A.

The answer isn’t that easy because there did not appear to be any actual or implied threats of violence, even though the questions and the tone of the questions was disturbing. This student’s friends would occasionally chime in with statements of support (which were riddled with expletives) and the ask.fm user would provide a retort to every innocent and hateful comment and/or question.

I found the behaviour of the ask.fm profile owner strange. Responding to hateful postings is not typical social media behaviour. I don’t know enough about this website to understand if there is or isn’t a setting to block an “asker.” Popular teen sites like Facebook, MySpace and Instagram do provide this functionality and is actually often used by profile owners.

What does one do as a parent, who has no clue who this student is other than their name (because it was included with the answers), has never met the parents and isn’t even in the same grade as either one of my own children? And that right there, my hesitation, my questioning of taking action or not, based on inappropriate questions and comments to a 13 year old shouldn’t have happened and is at the very heart of why cyber bullying continues and is growing at a rapid pace.

To help me determine my course of action I turned the situation around and asked myself, would I want a stranger or a parent of one of my children’s school mates whom I had never met and didn’t even know existed, calling me to tell me about what was happening to my kid on the internet? Without thinking twice, without any hesitation there, my answer is a definitive YES!!!!! I wouldn’t like it, I would probably be somewhat defensive but I would really appreciate that call, especially if I was completely unaware of the situation. Even if I knew what was happening deep down I would be grateful that there was someone else out there who cared enough about my child to have the courage to make that call.

So my question to you is What if…? What if…we stopped looking at everyone else’s children as “someone else’s kid,” or “someone else’s responsibility” and instead looked at all kids as “all of our children?”

What if…we all took responsibility for online behaviour affecting “our children” that not only displayed blatant cause for concern but were the early seeds of discontent buried in a gut feeling?

What if…we all were courageous enough to pick up the phone and make that call to the parent we had yet to meet?

What would happen if…all of us, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, educators, law enforcement, all of us adults were to link arms, become more aware of comments, photos and social media postings of our nation’s youth and have the courage to speak up?

The lives of our children is becoming increasingly more complicated, innocence is stripped away at earlier and earlier ages and they are much more connected with one another than we can ever imagine.

What if …we as adults become just as interconnected with each other as our children are and we the collective whole were to speak up, speak out and work together to protect our children from inappropriate, concerning and bullying behaviours?

What if…one phone call from one stranger saved one child’s life?

Please, talk with your kids, any kid, about not just the ask.fm website but any and all websites and the danger of social media. Talk with them about internet safety. And let them know we are ALL watching and working to keep them safe.

Stay vigilant and ready to speak up. Be brave!

Sorry to end so abruptly but I need to go because I have a phone call to make to a parent I haven’t met yet…

An Open Letter to my ex-husband’s future wife….

8 Sep

Dear Friend, Acquaintance, Future Influencer of my Children?

I just don’t know how to address this letter to you because I don’t yet know you and I hope that when I do we will somehow forge an albeit awkward friendship in the fire of parenting.

You have no idea how thrilled I am for you but you will. I am so happy that you have an opportunity to get to know my children in a way that only few have the chance to do. This is a letter to share with you some, not all, of the wonderful things about my children and to ask for you to be patient with them, respectful of them, loving, and kind. For if you are then you will experience some of the greatest love ever known!

Both of the girls are very similar and yet worlds apart in how they react to change. I hope you are already a mother, if not that’s fine you will soon learn how to be one. But I hope that you bring with you other children to grow and enrich the lives of the girls. They have always wanted a big family and the more siblings the better!

My oldest is sweet, kind, caring, often shy, a rule follower, a leader, and a soother. She will do what needs to be done to keep the peace and she will always keep your secrets close to heart. She’s quick to help and eager to learn all the while doing her best to stay out of the spot light. Oh how I long to see her shine and stand right in the center of attention. Because that’s where she deserves to be!

My youngest is also sweet, kind, caring, shy in her own way, carries the sword of justice and is just as soothing. When she flies into your arms and hugs you, there is nothing like the unencumbered and full force of her love. And when she flashes that genuine smile she rarely shares with anyone then you will almost glow with joy. She will stand up to the biggest giant to face down any wrong that’s being committed, she will rattle your brains sometimes with her tricky talk and often appear stand offish, but that’s only because she cares so very much and is afraid of being hurt.

Don’t ever hesitate to talk to me about the girls. I could go on for hours about them but I will wait for you to come to me. You should have a chance to get to know them in your own way. Don’t get me wrong…I will always be their mother and I am in no way giving that pleasure up to anyone but I am willing to share them with you as long as you share yourself with them and love the girls for who they are. I too would be your confident and will keep your secrets close.

That being said I won’t share secrets, advice or conversation with you about my ex and your now. That would not be neither right nor fair and nothing should come between your relationship with him, especially his ex wife.

I wish nothing but joy, happiness and an everlasting love for you and my ex husband. I was not that woman and everyone deserves that kind of love. I hope it is you for both of you. My ex and I both made mistakes in our marriage and we both did things well. I hope that the two of you will build on all the good and eliminate all the bad.

I will never say an unkind word to you or about you and I will do the same in regards to him. Relationships have bad days, and on those days I’m not the one to answer questions or lean on. If things are rough today remember tomorrow is a new day and a chance for improvement.

I wish you great things in your new relationship. I’m rooting for you and I know that if things are good at your home then they will be good in my children’s hearts and lives. I’m not perfect but I love my girls with all my heart. I hope you will too.

With Grace,

Me

Alicia M. Long & Jayne J. Jones

19 Jul

Originally posted on Chick Lit Goddess:

Alicia&JaynePic

Alicia M. Long & Jayne J. Jones, co-authors of “Capitol Hell”

About Alicia M. Long and Jayne J. Jones:  Jayne Jones and Alicia Long, co-authors of Capitol Hell began their political careers by working for former Senator Norm Coleman (MN).

Jayne Jones, a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law, left Capitol Hill to work for the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she was the Executive Assistant to the Speaker of the House. Her favorite adventure is teaching others about the legislative process and how to draft legislation in her capacity as a political science professor at Concordia University. Jones is also in the process of starting a summer camp for teenagers interested in public policy.

Alicia Long, a South Dakota native and graduate of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, also worked for United States Senator John Thune (SD) as well as former United States Senator George…

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