Monday, October 26, 2015

Autumn, Appointments and Editing

This week is a whirl of appointments and phone calls that I need to make that I'm impatient to be done with.  Last week was basically the same thing, and I went to my very first IEP meeting (for Patch) so that he can transition into speech next month when he turns three, although he's having a language explosion quite suddenly and the speech therapists aren't sure he'll even need it much longer.

This is the best swing ever made.  The big swing and little swing are attached so when I swing it swings Patch.  Or preferably when Sadie swings, so I can push James on the other swing!
The big appointment, that I'm going to ask for prayers for, is on Wednesday morning.  The neurologist wanted an MRI done to make sure nothing else is going on with Maggie, but of course that involves her being sedated, since there's no way she could hold still for any length of time, much less that much time, and so we're heading in to the hospital that morning, along with one of her therapists who's going to come along to help.

Her rain jacket is her fashion accessory at the moment.  Inside, outside, anytime.
James has his one year well baby check, which makes me nervous, because every time I think he's doing really, really well with his PT, he gets checked out and I'm assured he does still very much have hypotonia and hyperflexibility, even though he's come such a long way in the last two months. I mean he's cruising along the couch now, which is huge since he still could barely sit up in a high chair two months ago.

He still likes frowning at me when he sees my camera though.  I suspect because he's plotting ways to steal it and chew on the case.
In other appointment related news, I got a phone call from the genetic counseling office (also because the neurologist wants to eliminate other possible things going on with Mae) and took their next available appointment... at the end of April 2016.  At least that isn't on the schedule for this week.

But none of this is the reason I haven't been blogging lately.  The reason for that is that I'm in the proofreading the first draft stage of the book, and that's where all my writing energy has been directed this past week.

And I'm also turning my mind towards trying to find an agent for the book, and trying not to panic about query letters because apparently writing a one page query letter is far, far more intimidating (for me) than writing an entire additional book.

The other thing distracting me from posting is October.  It is my favorite month of the year in Michigan (with September coming in a close second).  So I'll close this post with a few of my obligatory yearly "It's autumn in Michigan" photos that I've snapped this week as we begin to feel winter rapidly approaching and I'm enjoying the swirling leaves before they're buried under snow (I mean neatly raked into piles and bagged...)!

If I keep up the current editing pace of one chapter a day I should be done in a little over two weeks and I'm hoping then I have a little more energy for things non-book related!

As long as these leaves and the crisp cool air stops distracting me!

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Rules for Navigating Social Media and the Blog

When I first began blogging Sadie was six months old.  I hadn't really read many (or any) blogs at that point, but I somehow stumbled upon the Blogger website and decided that I could carve out my own little corner of the web where our far flung relatives who lived across the country could check in if they wanted and watch as Sadie sprouted up like a little bean stalk.

So I started typing, just about every day on a bright pink background on a blog called Sadie's Mom's Blog (that's long since been absorbed into this blog).

Over the years the focus of the blog has changed quite a few times, but one question that I've asked myself all along has been how much to put out there (here) for the world (in this case anyone who stumbled upon this blog) to see.

The conclusion I've come to is personal.  I think that it nearly always is, or should be.  There isn't a template that can tell most of us what's the right level of openness when blogging.  It's something we have to figure out for ourselves.

Over the years I've developed my own set of rules, that I've used to guide my writing and to help me decide what I'm willing to share in this space.  And tonight, if James stays asleep for another half hour and lets Mommy blog, I'll share them.

Rule #1: I can share embarrassing stories about myself, no problem.  But embarrassing stories about my family?  Not so much.  I'm the one who signed up for this, after all.  I can decide what my level of comfort is.  And I can ask Paul if he's comfortable with me writing about something (I can't recall him ever saying no).  But if it's something that I think will be even marginally embarrassing for him or the kids, I don't ask.  Because it's my blog.

There are moments, at least once a month, where I find myself thinking "If I was an anonymous blogger who didn't use any names or pictures this would be hilariously funny."

I'm not though.  That's part of the trade off.  And so far I haven't regretted the level of openness that has existed here for the past seven years.

Rule #2: If  I can't sign my name to it I shouldn't be putting it out there.  

Having my name attached to the blog and to my comments when I'm elsewhere on the internet makes me feel a certain sense of accountability when I'm writing.  It usually helps me cut back on the snarkiness that I sometimes find creeping up on me.

More than once I've typed something up and then paused to ask myself if what I'd written was kind or even necessary.  Did the person I was addressing really need to know that I disagreed with what they said?  If it was in response to something that I'd written did I not feel that the initial post could stand on its own?  Did it really need to be added to?  Am I going to start wondering if I need to go to confession if I hit enter to post something unkind and reactionary?

This isn't always easy, and I've failed at it many times (not the signing my name part, but the kindness part) but it's something I've made a point of asking myself more often in the past year.

This also carries over to social media in another way.  All of my accounts are public and I don't post anything that I wouldn't want the entire world seeing.  I think that the idea of social media accounts being private can get people in to trouble and so I find it's just safer to assume that everyone can see everything, which makes me think a little longer about what I'm sharing with the world than I otherwise might.

Rule #3: Babies get more face time on the blog.

Over the years, if you've been around, you may have noticed that the smallest member of the family is very likely going to get a lot of blog play time.

The reason for this is two fold.  First it's because this blog has effectively been my baby book for all of my babies.  And they grow so fast and I am still posting for our friends and family across the country.

There's another reason though.  As kids get bigger they need more privacy.  I can share cute stories about James and Patch all day long and even years down the road those stories won't be embarrassing.  As the kids get bigger I share moments that they are okay with me sharing, and I try to make sure that those moments are instances that respect their privacy and won't be embarrassing down the road.

 That does meant that it's impossible to really get the full picture of our lives.  You likely will miss out on the hardest days and moments and meltdowns, and on some of the biggest victories, because many of those moments and challenges are intensely private and just shouldn't be commemorated for the world to see.

If my kids are going to be embarrassed by me blogging I want it to be because they're embarrassed by me being me (like how a certain child was obviously embarrassed at the imagined idea of me leaving the house in my Mickey Mouse pajama bottoms when I put them on at 5 pm the other day because I was ready for it to be my bedtime), not by me telling stories that they didn't want the world knowing about.

These are the main standards that I take into consideration when I'm writing a post.  There are others too that come up now and then but those are the main guideposts that I use to decide on whether or not I should really write about the topic that's just popped into my head, or the funny thing that happened when we were out and about with our merry band of kids.    

Obviously this list isn't for everyone and I think it lies somewhere in the middle of what people feel comfortable sharing.  Some feel far more comfortable sharing more than I do here (and I love many blogs in this category) and others use made up names and don't share pictures at all (and I have favorites in this category as well), so the decision I think is a personal one where each person who does have their own little corner of the internet figures out what they're comfortable with and what works for them and for their families and friends.

So for all you bloggers and users of social media do you have any rules for how much you put out there and do you have any rules you'd like to share that you've found help you navigate this world of being able to share your thoughts and photos at the press of a button?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

James' Big Day

James turned one this week, and while we celebrated I made a note to myself to make sure to cancel the majority of our appointments on birthdays from now on, because while we had time for a little party, we were pretty overscheduled, and I just hadn't realized that his birthday fell on one of those overscheduled days until it was already here.  Patch had speech at 8 and Maggie had ABA at 9 and then OT at 2 and Sadie had her first Little Flowers meeting at 4:30, which meant that all in all, our day was pretty booked.  

Still, James had a lot of fun.  He pretty much tagged along and had a blast doing all the things Patch was doing in Speech.  And while Mae was at therapy I set up for his big party:

James loves all things related to cars and Patch was pretty impressed too:

Sadie and I made the cake and cupcakes:

 We had our little party at lunch time.  Sadie set the table:

Paul brought in lunch:

And we looked over and saw that amid all the excitement, the birthday boy had fallen asleep.

Maggie wasn't about to have him miss his party.  She was really upset about it.  So after six attempts she finally woke him up.  He wasn't thrilled.  Even if waking up meant cupcakes:

Presents, however, were worth waking up for.

Patch was on hand to explain how all the toys worked.  Especially the little steering wheel:

After Little Flowers it was time for a birthday dinner:

And cake:

James was a big fan of the cake:

And finally his big day was over and it was time for bed!  Happy Birthday to our big one year old.  This year has gone by far too quickly!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One Draft Down...

The first draft is done.

Now to begin rereading and editing...  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Twelve Grumpy Months

A year ago tonight I was nervously trying to get to sleep with my bag packed, anticipating driving to the hospital in the morning for my fourth c-section.  Paul and I had gone to confession and Mass and had gotten a special blessing from our parish priest, and after dinner realized there was still blood work I'd needed to have done and had rushed to the hospital, thankful for the 24 hour lab.

It was the first time that we were going to the hospital on the day that the c-section had been planned and it was kind of nerve wracking.

Tomorrow, a little after noon, we met James Ignatius, and he gave us his very first grumpy baby look.  In the months that have followed it's become a bit of a joke around here, because he is an incredibly cheerful, laid back baby, who loves to play and laugh and cuddle, but when he was tiny and he saw a camera he would immediately become serious and stare intently.  Usually that looks like a frown.

In honor of James' birthday tomorrow, and one year of Grumpy Baby pictures, I put together a collection of grumpy faces while wondering where the last twelve months have gone!


1 Month

2 months

3 Months

4 months

5 Months

6 Months

7 Months

8 Months

9 Months

10 months

11 Months

Not Quite 12 Months

I cannot believe how fast this past year has gone by!  So Happy-Almost-Birthday James!  And I'm sure I'll have pictures posted sometimes tomorrow of James' big day!  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

WIWS and a little about our religious education plans

Today Sadie and I were up and dressed for Mass when we found out that Paul was sick and in an effort not to spread whatever virus he had was staying home.  So Sadie and I made sure he was okay watching the three little ones for an hour and a half while we ran down the street to Mass.

Sadie snapped this picture of my outfit:

The headcovering is one that I made, the sweater is a gift from Paul from Christmas of '06 and the skirt is one that I got to wear on our pilgrimage to Israel in November of '08, when I was 8 weeks pregnant with Sadie (and found out the night before we left).

The boots are one of two Hush Puppy pairs of boots that I have and I have to say those two pairs are the first boots that I've had in years that didn't wear out in a few short months.  I've had them for over a year and they're still in good shape.

Sadie told me that she wasn't sure that her jacket was fancy enough to go with her dress, but when she stepped outside and felt the chill in the air she decided that I had been right to insist on something warmer.

In religious education news, I purchased the faith formation program we'll be using with Sadie this year, this afternoon (and was thankful that it was the same one we used last year).  Towards the end of August I started looking for information on when the faith formation classes would be starting at our parish.  We've always done faith formation as part of our homeschool (the Faith and Life program), but I was also planning on signing her up for the program at our parish.

After having Paul go by the office once and call a second time we finally figured out that there are no longer any classes offered in a classroom setting and the kid's faith formation for grades 1-8 is now entirely online.  So I guess that takes care of any questions about whether or not it would be okay to homeschool for religious education here, even though that wasn't what we were planning.

We actually go to a large parish (since that's the first question people ask when they've heard that the program is online) and have thankfully discovered a Little Flower's Girl's Club, so she will get a chance to have one social activity at the parish.

I can hardly believe that she's in second grade and the year she's been anticipating for so long has finally arrived.  It seems like just yesterday that she was a three year old trying to convince every priest she met that she was old enough to receive communion.  I realized the other day that she hasn't tried that in a very long time... since around the time Patch was born.

Time flies...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Moving on over...

Quite a while ago I bought a domain name.  I was planning on using it for my shops on one of those little shop building sites, but with James' arrival I haven't quite gotten the hang of working at night again (which is a first, since I didn't slow down with Patch or Maggie and had my shops up and running right after they were born).

Still I've wanted to get that out of my blog address for quite a while, and so I'm finally making the move and moving my entire blog over to the address that I own.

If everything works out the way that it's supposed to, once I make the move the blog will be down for a day and then if you come to the old address it should automatically redirect you to the new one.

The blog's name isn't changing at the moment, but the new address is .

Hopefully the transition goes smoothly and I don't delete the whole thing (I will definitely be backing it up again, just in case).

So if the blog is down for a day or two this weekend, you'll know why!

Our Texas Weekend

This past Wednesday after Maggie was done with her morning therapy we loaded up the car and headed south.  We were on the road a little after noon and we drove south, first heading out of Michigan and across Indiana and to the very bottom of Illinois where we found a little hotel in the middle of nowhere (there was no town and had been no towns on the road for a very long time) and stopped for the night.

 Bright and early the next morning we headed out again and drove through Missouri, spent most of the day crossing Arkansas, and finally in the late afternoon headed into Texas.  By dinner time we had made it to the hotel where our family and friends were staying while we celebrated my sister's wedding.

In the morning we did some touristy things like taking the kids to the Bass Pro Shop near out hotel (the kids were all very impressed with the fish):

And going to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch.  I have to add here that they were amazing about the kids' allergies.  The head chef came out and talked with us about what were the best dishes that could be made without anyone having a reaction and all of the kids loved their specially made meals.  It's really the best dining our experience we've had with allergies in the last three years.

We spent a lot of time in the hotel pool. And amazingly Maggie was actually very, very cautious.  She would wade in to her armpits and stop and go back to the shallow end.  

I still wouldn't trust her around water on her own, and I'm still really nervous about natural bodies of water since she seems to think she'll turn into a mermaid if she plunges in, but this made me slightly less nervous about pools while we're with her.

On our first full day there we stopped by to visit with my sister in the midst of wedding preparations and she gave us each one of these bracelets.  On the outside of the bracelet is a quote from my nephew's notebook(he passed away in a car accident during those winter storms, this last year shortly after the engagement was announced).

The rehearsal dinner was so much fun.  And Paul and I got our first picture with just the two of us in it in... years, I think.

Patch refuses to sleep in beds at hotels. I'm pretty sure he's caught on to my nervousness (that Maggie is going to get out the door during the night) at hotels where the doors aren't easy to secure (if the deadbolts are too low and Maggie can reach them) and so even in rooms like the one we stayed in when we were in Texas where the deadbolts are high enough he refuses to leave his post.

After putting him in many beds only to have him return to the hallway I've finally started making him little beds in the place he insists on sleeping.

The next day we took the kids over to the Fort Worth Stockyards.  Paul was certain I'd gotten us lost on our way there, but we made it.

Then it was time for the wedding.  It was beautiful!

One person wasn't on board with being well behaved.  I let him hold my (silent) phone to try to keep him appeased.  He may have thrown it into the front row, barely missing the groom's parents.

Oh James.

Only last week I was telling your physical therapist that I hadn't seen you throw anything yet when she asked.  Now I have... (and they were very sweet about it when I apologized profusely after the wedding!)

I don't think I've ever seen such fun pictures after a wedding!  And the fact that the groomsmen and ushers wore kilts was awesome.

Grumpy baby wasn't the one being grumpy.  This picture should have given me an idea of who was going to be our grumpy kid at the reception.  Because Patch fell asleep just before the wedding and when he woke up he was not in the happiest of moods.

Maggie, on the other hand, had a blast.  I think she ate at least thirty strawberries.

 And the biggest of the cousins got to meet the littlest.

An hour before we left for the wedding I snuck into the bathroom with a pair of little plastic safety scissors and cut four inches off my hair.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.  I'd been meaning to cut it for ages (with my actual scissors at home) but ran out of time.  Thankfully it turned out just how I'd pictured it:

The next day we were back on the road.  After a little hamming it up at lunch.

It was a long drive up through Texas and across Oklahoma.  We drove a mile into Kansas, because it's one of the only states I hadn't been to (it's now checked off the list!).  The first night we stopped in Springfield, Missouri.  The next day we made the rest of the drive across Missouri, and Illinois and Indiana.  By bedtime we were home.

It was a fun weekend, but it's good to be getting back into the routine of things!

Although I do hope we make it to Texas more often.  It was so much fun to see everyone and I'm so happy for my sister and her husband!  What a wonderful wedding weekend!