Saturday, October 1, 2011

A poem

I thought I saw you today
While I was walking down the street
I neatly called out your name
And ran to be at your side

It wasn't you, but my heart
Skipped a beat all the same
And then came the loneliness
And the emptiness

I miss you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An inspiration.... A long time coming

A couple months ago, I ran across an organization on Ravelry called Calvin's Hat's.  (Go to their site to read their story in full)  They distribute itty bitty tiny baby hats to people who experience the loss of a child due to premature birth.  Having experienced the loss of a child myself (due to a heart defect, he was born full term), I felt compelled to participate.  But, at the same time, I hesitated.

My child, Christopher, was born on April 12, 2008.  I am still not anywhere near healed from his loss.  Some days, I wonder if I've even started.  And this pain is what made me hesitate. 

After my loss, my sister-by-choice's niece lost her twin girls, Kilayah and Kiera, in August of 2009.  She was 20 weeks.  A part of me wanted so badly to make something for her girls that she could keep, but I didn't.  The pain, then, was still so crippling that I couldn't bring myself to even try.

Calvin's Hats organization has provided me with the inspiration to begin creating hats for these tiny angels.  The other day, I was compelled to pick up this awesome yarn given to me by my cousin (Thank you again, Ness) and create a hat and then a bonnet.  I didn't really know what I was doing, how big to make it, or anything.  I just started stitching.  After about 5 hats, I figured I should try to find some information on the size or the measurements.  Turns out, the hats I'd created were the perfect size.  I also discovered that the fit on the itty bitty baby doll that belongs to my son Kevin.
So this mission is helping me heal just a little bit more.  I hope you'll take a look at Calvin's Hats and maybe look at your local hospital and see if they need any donations.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pedestrians have the right of way.

For those of you that don't know my complete lifestyle, let me tell you that I am a full time pedestrian and infrequent bicyclist.  I know the rules that I have to obey as both of those stations in society.  I was, at one time in my life, also a licensed driver, so I know those rules as well.  So when I have my rights as a pedestrian trampled on by some c-bag with an undeserved sense of entitlement, I get a little miffed.

Excerpt from MN Statute 169.222...
"Every person operating a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle..."

Now this would lead me to believe that a bicycle must stop at the same line as any other vehicle at a light controlled intersection.  Wouldn't you agree?  Well, this is what happened today...

We went for a walk and were headed back to our apartment and we were waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Lasalle/Blaisdell Avenue.  The traffic slowed and stopped as the light changed and we began to cross the street.  Just as I stepped out, a bike in the bike lane pulled ALL the way in the crosswalk and directly into the path of my child and me.

I walked right up to her and smile and said, "Hi!" in a friendly tone.

She looked at me, matched my tone and said, "Hi!"  But... she didn't move back.

I said, still with a smile, "Crosswalk," and placed my free hand on her handlebars and pushed.  THEN she got the idea... Sort of.

She backed up.  However, she said, "Yeah, but I'm on a bike! (pause) Bitch." And her friendly tone was gone.

And I turned around, still walking with my kid, and yelled, "But a pedestrian has the right of way at a F@&!ING GREEN LIGHT!"

And we continued on our way.  But man! that pissed me off!  The sheer audacity of that woman just has me flabbergasted.  I hope my fellow pedestrians will also stand up for themselves (and I hope it goes without saying that it be in a non-violent fashion) while still being considerate of vehicles, both motored and non-motored.  And I hope that, after reading this, my fellow cyclists will be more considerate of pedestrians and cars.  I also hope that the drivers of motorized vehicles show that same consideration to everyone else on the road.

*steps off soapbox*

Before I completely step off...  I just realized that my last 2 blogs, both posted this week even, are about how inconsiderate this society has become.  What are you doing about that?  Are you making it worse and feeding the beast with your own inconsiderate treatment of others?  Or are you trying to lead by example and show your children, your friends and peers and the rest of the world that you can be kind and considerate without being weak?  Hmmmm...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A message to the "normals"

While walking to the store yesterday, some jackass walking in front of us lit off a bottle rocket.  When it whistled and banged, Kevin was absolutely terrified.  He jumped and screaming and began to cry uncontrollably while pressing his hands over his ears.  He nearly collapsed to the sidewalk, but I caught him.  I had to pick him up and carry him while he screamed in my ear.  I squeezed him and stroked his back in an attempt to calm him.  I told him over and over, "It's OK.  It's all done now."  It took what seemed like ages to get him to stop crying and screaming.  And even longer for him to relax enough to be Kevin again.

On the way back home, we walked the same street that this event had happened on.  We turned the corner and he tensed up like he was about to be struck.  He started making the noise of the firework vocally and flailing his head like it was being knocked about. 

This small, seemingly innocuous, however obnoxious and asshole-ish, action has traumatized my child, possibly for the rest of his life.   Now, I can't expect those of you that are not autistic to know that he or any other child could react that way any more that you should expect me to keep my child isolated from those who would behave in a manner than might bring out such a reaction.  My message, however, is this:  Think before you act and speak.  You never know what it can do to others.  You are never too young (or old) to start being considerate of the world around you. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Songs of my life (first installment)

I've been meaning to make a list lately.  A list of songs that remind me of a feeling, or a person, or a place, or a... You get the idea.  I've been feeling very nostalgic lately.  This is probably going to take me a long, long time, and may, like many of my projects, be soon abandoned.  LOL.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is probably "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.  Like most people my age, I associate it with Wayne's World.  But it also reminds me of my best childhood friend from that period of my life, Ms. E.S. She will always be the Wayne to my Garth.  Party on!

And then there's "Thriller" by Michael Jackson.  I go right back to feeling like I'm 6 years old again when Vincent Price starts speaking.  My mom had the album on vinyl and we used to listen to it all the time.  And when we would listen to that song, my brother would sneak behind the couch when I wasn't looking and jump out and grab me and the big scary part.  Maybe that's why my heart still races during that part of the song, even after 25 years.... *shrugs* Brothers, right?

Speaking of family, one of many songs that remind me of my dad is "Cherish" by The Association (if you don't know it, look it up! LOL).  In the car with my father, he 1) always drove and 2) HAD to have the oldies station on the radio.  Inevitably, "Cherish" would start to play sometime during the trip.  It seemed to always happen, whether the trip was 5 hours or 5 minutes.  And he would sing it.  Dad was a good singer.  It always made my insides all warm and squishy when he'd sing to me...

Another song, probably a better one to associate with my dad, is "Little Surfer Girl" by The Beach Boys.  I have this memory from when I was little, though I can't remember how little, of being in my dad's arms as we danced in the living room while listening to the album that this song is on.  My little arms around his neck, I remember looking at him while we danced and he sang this to me and thinking that he was the best daddy in the whole world.  He and I definitely had our differences over the years, but he was my dad and he loved me the best that he could. 

I could go on and on about music that makes me think of my dad, but let's move on for the moment.  Actually, let's just end it here for the time being.  Play on, music, play on.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

International Autism Awareness Day

It's April 2nd, and it's International Autism Awareness Day.  I hear about talk people wearing blue, or Lighting It Up blue or black or whatever for this day (aka: "slacktivism").  Most of them donate money to this organization or that organization, never really knowing what their money is used for.  I don't support this day for them, the "slacktivists" or the large organizations.  In fact, I don't support THEM at all.  But what I do support is my son. 

This is Kevin.  He's 6 years old.  And he has autism.
I know there's a huge debate going on about what causes autism.  Yes, please, to the eggheads and researchers and scientists and etc, find the cause to help future children.  But finding the cause is a less important to me because my child already has it.  He always has.  From the day I brought him home, he wasn't a "normal" baby.  He didn't like to lay down, preferring his car seat carrier.  He would scream (and I mean scream) if I laid him flat.  Thankfully, that's something he grew out of.  He would scream if I played the "wrong" music.  You don't know how many hours it took of trial and error and screaming newborn to find the right music.  Kevin was born in Minnesota in December, but hated clothes or coverings of any kind.  He still does, when he's at home anyway, but he has accepted that going outside means getting dressed. He didn't potty train until he was 5 years old.  He has the same thing for breakfast every day, not because he wants it or always eats it, but because he can't change it. And these are just a few examples of his "abnormal" behaviors.

I know there are autistic children out there that are "worse" than he is.  I am "lucky" because Kevin's not one of the non-verbal cases, or because he doesn't wander off, or some of the other more challenging behaviors that autistic children can have.  But that doesn't make it easy.  He still has meltdowns about things that seem irrational to "normal" people, like changing his breakfast or not taking the same route to go to Target.  And when those meltdowns happen in public (which is almost always where they do happen, over-stimulation and all), we are stared at by "normal" people.  Occasionally, I see sympathy in their eyes.  But more often than not, it's the "Oh my God, what is wrong with your kid?" look.  Or the "You are the worst parent I've ever seen" look.  It's for those people that I support Awareness.  And it's for my son that I'm Active. 

I may not be standing on a soapbox and screaming about the evils of mercury or gluten or etc, but that doesn't mean I don't agree.  And who am I to tell someone else how to raise or care for their child?  I would be quite angry if (and I am when) someone tries to tell me what's best for my child.

Kevin is autistic.  It's too late for prevention for him.  But there is treatment, support networks, special teaching and tools to help him learn and grow.  Imagine how big that support network could be if "normal" people really saw how close to their homes autism really reaches...

Support Autism (research, families, children, teachers, programs, etc)
Spread Awareness (to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, society)

Tina Jo

PS.  Shameless plug, yet still in line with the topic, I have created a line of items (designed and made by me) specifically for Autism Awareness.  They are being sold to raise money for Kevin's ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) classroom so they can get an iPad.  You can find them at AlwaysTinaJo on Etsy

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My first pattern... Dur's Hat!

OK, so technically it's not the first pattern I've written or come up with, but it's the first one I'm sharing.  I'm looking for feedback from all those in the crocheting world to let me know if it makes any kind of sense.  

The pattern came from duplicating a store-bought hat for a friend.  The original hat was very well-loved and was showing some wear.  She asked me if I could make her a new one.  "Of course!" I said, while thinking, "It can't be that hard. It's just a hat." Well, I was a little wrong.  It took me days to figure out the right gauge and stitches and everything, but I did it!  So here's the pattern...  Please let me know if you have questions about it and feel free to leave comments!

Dur's Hat

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in black
Hook: J/10 - 6.00 mm
A bit of elastic thread

Rnd 1:CH 4, 16 dc in 1st ch, join to 1st dc, ch 2 – 16 dc
Rnd 2: Fpdc ch1 bpdc ch1 around, join to 1st dc, ch 2 – 8 fpdc, 8 bpdc
Rnd 3: Fpdc ch1 (bpdc ch1 bpdc ch 1) in bpdc around, join, ch 2 – 8 fpdc, 16 bpdc
Rnd 4: Fpdc ch1 (bpdc ch1 bpdc ch 1) in bpdc, bpdc in bpdc ch 1 around, join, ch2 – 8 fpdc, 24 bpdc
Rnd 5: Fpdc ch1 (bpdc ch1 bpdc ch 1) in bpdc bpdc in bpdc ch 1 twice around, join, ch2 – 8 fpdc, 32 bpdc
Rnd 6: Fpdc ch1 (bpdc ch1 bpdc ch 1) in bpdc bpdc in bpdc ch 1 thrice around, join, ch2 – 8 fpdc, 40 bpdc
Rnd 7 – 13: Work fpdc in fpdc and bpdc in bpdc around, join, ch2 (on rnd 13 ch1, not 2)
Rnd 14: (crochet over elastic thread in this round for 64 sc) 2sc in ch1 sp after fpdc, 1 sc in each ch1 sp between bpdc, 2 sc in ch1 sp before fpdc around DO NOT JOIN, sc in next 33 sc, ch1 turn
Row 2: sc in next 25 sc, ch1 turn – 25 sc
Row 3: sc2tog in 1st 2 sc, sc across, sc2tog in last 2 sc, ch 1 turn – 23 sc
Row 4: sc2tog in 1st 2 sc, sc across, sc2tog in last 2 sc, ch 1 turn – 21 sc
Row 5: sc2tog in 1st 2 sc, sc across, sc2tog in last 2 sc, ch 1 turn – 19 sc
Fasten off
With the top of the hat facing you, join yarn at the right edge of the brim and sc evenly around. 29 sc
Fasten off, weave in yarn ends. Knot the elastic thread and weave in the ends.