I told you yesterday that I’ve been very busy. The truth is I’ve crocheted so much that my hands have cramped. And I’ve got so much more to do! But it’s all been worth it. And I’ve had a few commissions to do this year that have also occupied my time. My favorite was a set of four scarves inspired by the four Harry Potter houses. The scarves used during the Harry Potter movies have changed over time, and differ slightly in hue from the versions mentioned in the books, but they all have 3 things in common. 1.) they are super long! I mean super! They are meant to go almost to the waist, if not so. 2.) they are thicker than normal American scarves. I think this is a British thing. When we lived in Scotland I noticed that all of our scarves were quite wide, which was actually nice for this Florida girl to hide behind during the biting wind. And 3.) they are one solid color with alternate colored stripes related to the house colors. I crocheted them using a hdc stitch in the pattern: 14 main colored rows, 3 alternate colors, 3 main color, 3 alternate color- repeat until desired length, in my case 9 additional times.
So the only question left- which house will the sorting hat put you in? To find out visit http://www.pottermore.com. Me? Why, I’m Hufflepuff of course!
Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since June! I have been busy crocheting away for the Christmas season. And it has been a busy 3 months! Confirmations at church, Girl Scouts, Kid Scouts, Homeschool, building my crochet and Pink Zebra businesses, VBS, the Hubster being out of the country… shew! A LONG summer y’all! I do have lots of pictures to share though!
So much has happened I barely know where to start!
I’ve begun crocheting and selling homemade scarves. I figure, if I’m going to sit on the couch and crochet anyway, why not make some money off of it? So far I’ve got several different kinds and styles. Check some of them out! I’ve sold a ton so far and they really are super cute!
BUT… they aren’t my favorite thing I’ve made this summer! So remember how I said that we had confirmations this summer?
My sponsor (kind of like Godparents, but for adults) is one of my most favorite people on earth. Legitimately one of the coolest people I know. So, one day I posted about wishing I could go to Yarndale in the UK, because of how amazingly awesome Lucy is over at Attic 24, and my post had a picture of the little lambs that Lucy asked for people to make and send for decorations. Well, this friend of mine, who is totally a kindred spirit, feel in love with the lambs just as I had. And I knew- I KNEW- that I had to make her one as a present for being my sponsor!
Feast your eyes upon this adorableness!
Super adorbs! And of course this special friend, being as amazing as she is, had been working on a special project for me as well. And it was partly inspired by this blog! I am not exaggerating when I say that it is truly beautiful in person and now one of my most prized possessions.
Of course we’ve knocked a few things off our bucket lists as well this summer! Even some things that we never knew we desperately wanted to do… like bee keeping! Yes, on purpose! Check us out!
We look like tiny, garden astronauts! We joined Kidscouts with our homeschooling group and are having tons of fun trying new things and making new friends. Kidscouts was formed, primarily, out of a disillusionment with Girl Scouts, which makes doing things like beekeeping and swimming super difficult, especially if we want an inclusive environment that includes our little and big dudes.
Of course, not to be outdone, our Girl Scout troop has been busy as well! We are really focused on service projects. And believe it or not, its been difficult getting people to LET us help them. Seriously. We are little y’all but mighty! Here we are a couple of weeks ago double bagging for our Greenbag project at church. This project provides meal sacks for Elementary aged children for the weekend and they need over 200 double-bagged grocery sacks a week. Shew! The girls loved doing it though and had a blast racing each other!
And we’ve been every where this summer and, yet, no where! Our troop went to the Florida Caverns State Park to kick off our summer, and had a blast!
And later in the summer my babies and I got to enjoy Leu Gardens here in Orlando. It was gorgeous there but, oh-so-hot! Florida summer can be brutal!
I’ve been told that I should write more about politics on my blog. I already write about it pretty heavily on Facebook. Below is one of those posts referencing the terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub here in Central Florida. It is the first real post that I have penned on the matter, being too shocked and saddened thus far to put anything into words.
“I’m glad Orlando’s crisis can be fodder for everyone’s political gains. If everyone could shut up for a moment and see that both democratic and republican mommas have lost their sons and daughters. That both pro-gun and pro-gun control have lost spouses, lovers, and partners. That both those who support refugee immigration and those that do not lost their brother and sister. 50 people. 50 hearts no longer beating. 50 souls called home to the Lord. Shame on those of you taking advantage of that.”
I avoided reading messages on Facebook the first couple of days as it was mostly a hodgepodge of homophobic nonsense, Christian holier-than-thou attitude, Muslim bashing, and political driven drivel. It has made me reconsider some of my friendships, and has given me several philosophical things to consider. My next post below was in response to the growing hate I saw building on Facebook in regards to the shooter’s wife, as well as the extremely divided debate on gun control. It is a mix of ramblings and emotions, but addresses something I think is pretty important. I hope it becomes important to you too.
“Ok, so I’m going to make some remarks that a few of you might find extremely infuriating. Despite that, it’s things I feel that need to be said.
For starters, let’s talk about the shooter’s wife. I mean, let’s really talk about her here… So far I have heard some pretty harsh words for her, and little sympathy. Now I’m not about to say that they aren’t words she deserves. I don’t personally know her and I don’t know what the authorities have found out about her. I’m inclined to jump on the bandwagon with everyone else and say she needs to be thrown in jail, however…
I’m sad. I’m sad that 49 people had to loose their lives. I mean, REALLY sad. Its a helpless feeling. I know that despite wanting very much to, there is nothing I can say or do to help these families and friends. NOTHING. There are no words. And anything I can do or say would simply fall short. I am so sad for our little community.
But you know what? I’m also sad for the shooter’s family. I’m sad that a mom lost her son. I’m sad that his father (who appears, at least on the surface, to also suffer from mental illness) has lost his son. I’m sad that they have to live the rest of their lives knowing that they raised a child who committed such a horrible act against innocent people. It hurts my heart to see the news shove microphones into their face and ask them if they knew their son was a monster. Who thinks of their children as monsters? I know that my love for my children is unconditional. There is nothing they could ever do that would make me stop loving them. And yet, here are these people who not only are responding to questions posed by the public, but have welcomed them into their living room to answer questions. About their son. Their dead, horrible son.
I’m also sad for his wife, and their beautiful child. So we understand that she knew he was planning something horrible. That she went with him to Pulse. That she was with him when he bought at least one of the guns and ammo. But we also understand that he has a history of beating his ex-wife. That he was violent and potentially bi-polar.
It is easy to say- “you should have said something”, “you could have prevented this”. But would it have been? That was her husband. Her better or worse, richer or poorer, husband. And if he beat her, like he beat his ex-wife, I seriously doubt she would have been strong enough to stand up to him, turn him in, break up her little family, and walk away from everything she knows and loves.
Domestic violence is HARD, y’all! It’s not just someone hitting a person. You can hit back! You can go through a physical altercation with your soul in tack. It’s more than that. It’s ingrained into the relationship in such a way that every decision, every action, every thought starts to revolve around it. It kidnaps a sane woman and leaves her immobile. It takes away her ability to make decisions, and her ability to judge consequences of actions. And trust me, she KNEW that if she did report him and no one believed her, or she couldn’t prove it, SHE or her child would be the one in serious peril. She probably questioned herself a thousand times- “do you think he would really do that?” And I am sure that she answered EVERY. SINGLE. TIME- “no, he wouldn’t do that.” Because if I am in her position, even if he said he wanted to shoot up a club… he has a gay app. That he is active on. He wants to go to the club. You couldn’t convince me that was about canvassing the place. I would think, as many women would, that he was putting on a tough attitude to avoid the discussion that he was cheating on me with a man. Or that he has homosexual feelings. And if I’m being abused, I would think that its because I’m not enough. If I love him harder, if I make him happier, if I… As women, I think we have all been in bad relationships where we catch ourselves making excuses for our significant others. The strong women kick that a**hole to the curb and find someone a little more stable. Weak women, well, they keep trying harder and harder until they aren’t living for themselves anymore.
Its the same thing you hear time and time again. No one wants to believe their loved ones are capable of such acts of violence. AND even if they are, we have seen time and time again women of domestic violence assisting their husbands with committing crimes.
I’ve heard so much about guns and gun control lately that it makes me sick. I have lots of opinions about that, but seriously I don’t think it matters right now. Do you know what I think matters? MENTAL HEALTH. Seriously, let’s have that discussion. Whether it’s wives (or husbands) being abused, guns being shot, bombs going off, or planes into buildings- we have one more thing in common. Mental illness.
Now I’ve heard a crazy amount of politicians talking about radical Islam. And, no doubt, that’s something we should talk about. But all religions have radical wings. You only need to head into Orlando and shake hands with the Westboro Church to see that point driven home (be sure to wash your hands in holy water afterwards, please… we don’t need that evil spreading around). But we need to have an open discussion in this country about how to help heal people with mental illness.
And if we want to talk about gun control, then fine. Let’s do that. But first let’s talk about mental illness. Let’s talk about how unhealthy our country has become. Mental illness. That we would rather sit in our opposing sides, refusing to budge an inch so that we can prove that WE are in the right. Mental illness. How we refuse to pass/enforce gun controls that can keep them out of the hands of or make it difficult to purchase by those suffering from serious mental illness. Mental illness. How we refuse to acknowledge that this country is largely a rural one where guns are still a necessity in many communities. Mental illness. That there are veterans, members of the armed forces, and the police that desire mental health help but refuse to get it because they are afraid of being stigmatized and having their right to own a firearm revoked. Mental illness. That there are legitimate populations in the United States who are terrified of a gun and have little knowledge in how to operate one, much less use it for personal defense. Mental illness. That there are people every day who would rather shoot innocent, wonderful, loving people, than seek out help for MENTAL ILLNESS.
There is a lot wrong with our country right now. A lot. We have two main politicians that the American public is strictly divided on, but most people agree that we wish we had better options and feel forced into voting for the lesser of two evils. People have divided themselves up like children of divorced parents who are forced to pick a side. Well, we are’t forced to pick sides. In fact, the purpose of the United States, as a country, is to be united in our differences.
And more than anything else we ALL have these two things in common: mental illness- we will all suffer from a form of mental illness several times in our lives- and love. There is so much love! Orlando is busting at the seams in love. But it’s time for this country to pull together with all our LOVE to help combat MENTAL ILLNESS. And that means giving a little, making concessions, educating ourselves, showing compassion, and loving one another a little bit more. Even when that’s really, really hard. Perhaps because it’s really, really hard.
I’ll hold onto my stones for the shooters wife until the FBI tells me that she’s broken the law. Until then, I’m going to focus my attention on my own little family. I’m going to hold them a little tighter. Hug then a little longer. And start having conversations about being mentally healthy. Because no one as a child wants to grow up to be a mass shooter. And no one wants to loose a child to mental illness.”
The LGBTQ community in Orlando is vibrant and strong. The community contributes in such an important way to our character, our culture, and the personification of who we are. The days following the attack at Pulse has formed a bond between central Floridians that cannot be broken. Thousands flocked to blood donation centers as the call went out for more blood. People brought out food, water, fans, and cookies to those waiting in line for hours. Volunteers are currently being gathered together to help surround families as they prepare their loved ones for burial, so that protestors like the Westboro Church will not be able to get too close to them.
I am a christian and when I find myself in a scary situation and am afraid, I pray to God. And in my prayer I ask that he fills my heart with so much love that there is no room left for fear. Or anxiety. Or hate. That is Orlando. There is no longer any room for homophobia. There is no more room for bickering and segregation into groups lobbying for attention. There is no more room for fear, or anxiety, or hate. Our love did that. Our love wins. Our love is greater than hate.
1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” ESV
I have the best mom ever. Like EVER. She’s the type of mom who can hold my chunky monkey and talk on her bluetooth, while giving the camera a beauty queen smile.
She’s the type of mom who you stop to listen to, no matter what she’s saying.
The type of mom who will literally travel anywhere whenever you need her.
..and she’ll do it with cowboy boots on, cause that’s how she rolls!
My mom is selfless, truly inspirational, and filled with more love than anyone else I know. She’s always worked hard and never says never. There’s no challenge too hard and no mountain too high. She gives me courage and confidence to continue fighting through this difficult social experiment called motherhood.
And here’s my mamaw and me. The smile runs in the family!
And of course, where would I be without the special little ladies who made me a mom. The loves of my life… and my fur-baby!
My gals and I had a difficult time trying to find out what to get Grandma for Mother’s Day. Then my oldest had a brilliant idea- we’ll make her something and send her some of our special things! Now I can’t reveal all here (what fun would that be?), but I can share this one part of our present to her:
It’s their best artwork, and a special dragon drawing because Grandma loves dragons.
We grabbed a few picture frames, cut the pictures to size, and ta-da! And trust me, they are super adorable in person.
Best part yet? They are thoughtful, loving gifts from my girls to the most loving woman I know. Perfect.
How did I bring in the new month? With teepees and daffodils of course!
And a healthy dose of cards and board games with the family!
As you can see not everyone is thrilled with mandatory fun time in the Ray household. Some of us… ahem… would rather be playing Minecraft because it is so much MORE COOL than playing Uno with mom. But in all fairness, at her age everything is more fun than mom. Le sigh.
Life is exhausting! Especially if you are a mom… and a wife… and a Girl Scout leader… and active in your church… Like, really, REALLY exhausting!
Lucky for me, April is Volunteer appreciation month in Girl Scouts which can only mean one thing: Volunteer Retreat!
I live and breath for the month of April. Not only is it my birthday month but I know that come April I will be whisked away to a cabin in the (semi-isolated) woods. I will be surrounded by trees, moss, water, and animals galore! Every night is dark and lovely. The stars shine bright, and the lightning bugs, which are super hard to find in Central Florida nowadays, blink their lovely beckoning call- come! Come to the woods!
So off to the woods I went!
Now this getaway is also special in another way. Its a full weekend of nothing but Girl Scout traditions and crafts!!! You get to select modules of craft tutorials led by other volunteers in the area. My choices were: Calligraphy, Sparkling Juice and Paint Party, Card Making/Scrapbooking, Pool Time, and Button Trees. Unfortunately, the instructor for the Calligraphy could not make the class. But luckily, someone stepped in to teach the class some American Sign Language instead! Also, it was freezing so I nixed the Pool Time and sat in on the cross stitching class instead.
Now this particular camp is a special one. Mah-Kah-Wee (“Earth Maiden”) is a Girl Scout camp owned by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council. And it is beautiful! No, I mean BEAUTIFUL! Mah-Kah-Wee is everything you expect when you think of Florida. A lovely lake is centered right in the middle, surrounded by trails, camp sites, cabins, lodges, pavilions, and buildings for activities.
And there are these adorable little walkways going every which way.
My particular cabin was located in an area called Eagles Roost. Its on the west side of the lake and takes for-frecking-ever to walk to the main lodge. Not that I mind the walk. I just didn’t like the walk with an arm full of crafting supplies! I did manage to get away by myself at one point when I had to make an impromptu trip back to my cabin to change clothes. Now, normally they stress the importance of the buddy system (where you walk around the camp two-by-two), but this was a special kind of circumstance and warranted an excursion onto the trails by my lonesome. And, between you and I, I didn’t mind the peace and quiet not one bit.
Oh yes! It is nice to getaway every now and then. One of the bad things about going away to camp is that there is usually so much to do during the day that you seldom get to enjoy the solitude and quiet of just being in the woods. But not I! I was on a quest for dry pants and there was plenty to see on my little 20 minute journey to my cabin.
Full disclosure- I am a wonderer and I may or may not have gotten lost once or twice on this trip chasing sounds and quizzically examining mother nature.
But there’s really no where to go and growing up in the mountains of Kentucky has made me well versed in critters and plant-life. And although we are secluded, we are surrounded by city life, with perfect cell service, so in the big scheme of things I felt incredibly safe venturing out on my own.
And my cabin was delightful! Not only are they clean cabins with strong working air conditioners (important when you live in Florida), but the beds are comfortable! Have you ever?
Best part of going to camp? Making new friends and reconnecting with the old ones!
Make new friends, but keep the old…
…one is silver and the other’s gold!
The Volunteer Retreats are also themed. This year’s theme was A Journey Through Time and there were lots of Doctor Who references which was super exciting for me as a certifiably crazy Doctor Who fan. The main lodge where we gathered for group time and meals was referred for the entirety of the trip as “The Tardis”. Yay!
And now, for my favorite part- my crafts!!! Look at all this crafty goodness! Behold the bounty of my weekend! Feast your eyes upon my craft-i-dom!
First up: Sparkling Juice and Paint Party!
This class was actually led by my friend Kate, who is, as you might expect, throughly awesome! I had personally never had this sparkling juice as I typically go for the slightly more adultier version. But Girl Scouts has a strict no alcohol policy so, alas, sparkling juice it is. But, surprisingly, it was unbelievably tasty! I will be adding this to my shopping list permanently.
Now I am a horrible painter. HOR. RI. BLE. But Kate was so patient and is so good at what she does, that my painting actually kinda looks like a horse! No one was more shocked than myself!
Are you ready to see? Here goes!
Suck it art teacher who thought I might be better suited for a different hobby! That sun makes me super happy. Kate was instructing us on how to blend in, and I was failing miserably at it. Happily that choppiness ended up being my favorite part.
Next up: Card making!
Can you believe that these are made completely from scratch? The designs are all stamps. Typically I hate using stamps because I just can’t figure out how to get the whole image to come out. I always end up smearing the image or only half of it on paper. I decided after this brilliant outcome of my class that it must be the materials that they were using. I mean, you get what you pay for, right? And these instructors were kind enough to allow me to take pictures of them!
Last, but certainly not least, button trees! Now remember what I said about not being able to paint very well? Yeah, well, I still couldn’t paint for my button tree class either. Luckily, I have mad gluing and color palette skills. So much so that when I got home my daughters fought over who got the button tree picture! I remedied that situation by doing another, this time with flowers instead of buttons. Check them both out!
And because the people in my button tree class were such lovely people, I have pictures of their projects as well, which they lovingly consented to my uploading for your viewing pleasure!
I also used some of my downtime to make a dreamcatcher for my littlest girl, since she was the only one left who did not have one. I didn’t get a very good picture, but this will give you a good idea:
The purple is actually much brighter in person. Using a crocheted dolly in the middle was a fabulous idea and one that I will be repeating in the future. Now it just needs some more ribbon, feathers, and beads attached and dangling to give it a more bohemian look and she will be all set. Now if only I could pry it from her hands to make some adjustments…
I learned not only from my instructors, but I carefully picked the brains of my friends to learn their crafts as well! Just check out some of these projects!
Spray paint art:
Super cool, right?
Also, french message boards:
I will definitely be completing one of these projects soon!
Well, that is all my lovelies for today! I’ll catch you later!