Tag Archives: blog

The Countdown

Today was Charlie’s last Early Intervention appointment ever. She has aged out of the program and is on to bigger kid things.

In a week, Charlie will be three. Over time, anniversary season has become easier for me. I remember the dates but I don’t obsess over them. Nor is anticipation or anxiety linked to the days. They come and go like most.

For example, I signed and dated a form. When I saw the date, I realized it was the anniversary of my admission to the high risk perinatal unit. After a few seconds pause, I went about my day and didn’t really think about it again.

While this time of year is definitely easier than years past, I haven’t escaped the emotion of anniversary season. My mood is pensive. Additionally, I find that I have little patience for non sense, people who are jerks, and life’s other irritations.

To cope with this, I’ve been avoiding crowds (even more so than usual) and focus my restlessness on yard work. I pulled weeds while Charlie played in her sand box. I trimmed bushes as she splashed in her baby pool. I assembled a wheel barrow when she napped.

It feels like twenty years since her birth and fifteen since I started this blog. It’s only a matter of days until Charlie is three and I hit publish on my final post.

11261799_10102377317204139_4177527801373148778_n

Charlie watches fish in the water.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Blogtober Day 9

Today’s Blogtober Challenge is to share a favorite back to school memory. I thought about skipping today’s challenge and sitting this one out.

The thing is, I didn’t think I had a favorite back to school memory. As hard as I tried, I could not think of one happy memory from my grade school or high school years. Back to school time was miserable for me.

My dislike of school started early. I remember having a brief bit of excitement about school before starting kindergarten, but it disappeared after the first day.

Elementary school didn’t make any sense to me. I tried to be good, follow directions, and learn. However, I constantly got in trouble for things like talking, asking too many questions, not following directions, being too loud, or moving around too much. I was spanked by my kindergarten teacher.

Early elementary me.

Early elementary me.

In first grade, I had trouble with addition and subtraction. I raised my hand and asked, “When subtracting 3 from 10, does ten count as a number that is subtracted or do you start at nine?” The teacher looked at me like I was crazy. I consistently missed math problems by one number for some time after that.

In second grade, I had all A’s and B’s except for handwriting. I tried to do well in handwriting but failed miserably. The teacher said it was because I rushed through the assignment.

I badly wanted to make honor roll. The next handwriting assignment, I took my time and did my very best. I was proud of myself as I approached my teacher’s desk to have it graded.  “This is it. I finally did it. I’m going to get at least a B.” I thought to myself.

I handed it to the teacher. She looked at it for a total of three seconds before scribbling a C- on top of it with her red pen. I held back tears as she lectured me about not being in such a hurry.

I think that was about the point I checked out. I rarely, if ever, did my homework my entire school career. I cruised through my classes doing the bare minimum. Sometimes, I’d make honor roll and other times I’d come close to failing. I couldn’t have cared less either way.

For some reason, they kept passing me through the grades. I assume it was because I tested well on the standardized tests.

High school was its own nightmare. In addition to my early acquired aversion to school, I had the social scene of a small private high school to contend with.

For starters, my insecure older brother and his friends had nothing better to do than taunt and harass me. In hindsight, I see they had the problem. But, that didn’t make things better for me back then. It was miserable to be ridiculed and laughed at constantly by that group.

I didn’t have the tight knit group of friends that often appear in adolescent movies. Does anyone? Other than wearing the same button down collar shirts and scratchy polyester plaid skirts, I had very few things in common with my classmates.

High School Me

High School Me

The administration was detestable. They arbitrarily enforced rules when it was convenient or if a loud or wealthy (sometimes both) parent got involved in a situation. The image of the school seemed to be a higher priority than the actual schooling it provided.

We did not have locks on our lockers and I constantly had things stolen. The missing items ranged from small things such as pens to the large (to a high schooler) like my twenty dollar bill. I complained to the administration about it several times. The response I received was, “Are you sure you don’t lose things? People don’t steal here.”

Like everyone eventually does, I did have a couple of excellent teachers. I suppose their classes were the reason I did not out right refuse to go to school all together.

Day after day, I went through the motions comforted with the knowledge that it had to end eventually.

After the required twelve years (thirteen if you count kindergarten), I had successfully jumped through all the hoops and graduated in the top half of my class of twenty six. My distaste for school had become so powerful that I didn’t want to go to college.

College was for other people, not me. I wasn’t intelligent and I didn’t want to be anything. All I wanted from life was to be happy and feel safe. School wouldn’t help with either of those things or so I thought.

A few years later, I fortuitously received an honors scholarship to a local community college based on my SAT scores. I had decided that I wanted to do more with my life but didn’t know what. The community college honors program was the first time I was ever happy in school. It was my awakening, my chance.

As it turns out, I do have a good back to school memory after all. Mine just happens to come much later than most. I loved my college education… almost everything about it. I loved the classes, being an RA (once I transferred to a four year school), the chemistry lab, and the friends that I made. By the time I received my degree, I had opened up to seeing and believing in possibilities. To this day, I still am and do.

 

 

 

 


10 Things I Am Thankful For

Today’s Blogtober assignment is to compile a list of ten things I am thankful for. Despite all of my rants and complaints, I do have many things for which I am grateful. I think I will start my list with the most obvious but the rest is in no particular order.

I am thankful for: 

1) … Charlie and that she survived.

2) … growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.

3) …the people in life who carry out random acts of kindness. The ones who take a moment from their lives to go out of their way for other people. Like the gentleman who offered his seat to me on the Metro, the people who hold doors open, the neighbors who make meals for practical strangers, and the countless others who contribute their time, talent, or money. Whether the act is big or small, every act is significant.

4) … for the outdoors. It has been a substantial part of my healing process. No matter how overwhelmed, sick, defeated, or hurt I may feel, being outdoors is a panacea.

5) … my friends and husband. I am blessed with extraordinary friends. I am fortunate to receive their love, understanding, kindness, support, encouragement, and time.

6) …writers, authors, bloggers, and anyone brave enough to write down their thoughts and ideas for others to read. Almost every night, I wind down before bed with a book. I can’t imagine the world without the written word.

7) …my Share Your Story people. I would be walking this post NICU journey alone without them.

8) …music. Through singing, playing, listening, and dancing, it has the power to commiserate, inspire, celebrate, immortalize a moment, transform, and heal.

9) …my animals. I am not sure who rescued whom.

10) …the world. There is never a shortage of places to visit, languages to learn, music to hear, new ideas to discover, people to meet, new foods to eat, and experiences to enjoy. I am incredibly lucky to be an infinitesimal and minute quark in the midst of it all.

1800376_10101982346658279_2356174091231019843_n


My Five Blogging Tips For The New Blogger

Day six of the DC Ladies Blogtober is here. Today’s challenge is to share my top five blogging tips for a new blogger. This is what I’ve managed to figure out thus far.

1) Get connected. Get to know other bloggers. These bloggers don’t necessarily have to be in your niche or write about your topic. Other bloggers can be a fantastic resource for ideas, second opinions, opportunities, support, encouragement, and trouble shooting.

How does one meet other bloggers? Comment on their blogs, connect on twitter, or send an email. Every blogger was new to the game at some point and most are willing to at least say hello.

2) Be Yourself. My favorite blogs to read are the ones in which an author is genuine. Faults and all, I enjoy when a blogger’s personality, thoughts, and feelings are conveyed through clever writing.

Keep in mind that the internet is a vast resource. Most of the information that you have to offer can be found elsewhere. What makes your blog unique is you. Some of my most popular posts made me feel very vulnerable when I hit publish.

On the other hand, don’t try to be something you are not. I stop reading as soon as I feel the author is being phony or trying too hard to push a desired image.

3) Decide in the beginning what you want from your blog. Do you want to advertise on your blog? Is your blog an extension of your company’s website? Are you trying to connect with others in your field or interest? Or, maybe you just want to write for your own purposes?

Knowing these things before hand will help you decide on the appropriate blogging platform, find your reader base, and will assist in planning a strategy. It’s easier to deal with these things in the beginning than have to shuffle everything around later.

For me, I determined that I wanted my blog to be a place to vent and connect with other parents like myself. I knew that I didn’t want to blog for a long term and wanted Charlie to have her privacy as she grew. This information impacted my choices.

Things like advertising, paid posts, and so forth did not feel right for what I wanted from my blog. Plus, I know I want to wrap up my blog when Charlie turns three.

4) Social media matters. Blogging is social. A social media presence is key to increasing your blog readership. Interact with your readers and let future readers know that your blog is out there.

This is an area that I could improve quite a bit. If I had the time, energy, and drive, I would use Facebook like a mini blog and post pictures, updates, and questions unique to that account. In addition, I would update Twitter a few times a day with something funny or thought provoking.  Finally, I would have lovely Instagram images and Pinterest worthy graphics.

Social media accounts shouldn’t be entirely self promotional. Share other articles, news items, blogs, or things of interest to your readers or followers.

5) Be creative and experiment. Almost every website, book, or article on blogging will attempt to discuss SEO, click bait, and successful blog post formats. Yes, these things do work in driving traffic. But, it doesn’t necessarily build readership if someone visits your blog once for click bait.

Use the blogging basics as tools and build on them, change them, and make them your own.  Don’t be afraid to write a post that doesn’t follow popular post format. Take chances and try something new.

10670043_10101960201417519_7521207036191647333_n


Blogtober Challenge: A Piece Of Advice For My Younger Self

As you may already know, I’m shaking things up a bit this month and participating in the DC Ladies Blogtober. Today’s challenge asks “What is one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?”

It’s quite simple really.

I would tell my younger self that the great ones make others feel that they, too, can be great. Surround yourself with those people and try to be one of them.

I wish I would have known earlier that the people worth letting into your world help you feel good about yourself and your life, re-energize you, and being with them relieves stress. Not the opposite.

I’ve had the honor of knowing quite a few people who have filled me with hope, given me direction, held my hand during tough times, inspired me, challenged me to think, gently pushed me out of my comfort zone, rooted for me, and (because of all that) have made me a better person.

Out of everything I learned over the course of my life, I think that lesson may be the most important and the one I wish I knew when I was much younger.

I think I would tack on: You become what surrounds you. Surround yourself with the type of people you’d like to grow into and the things that make you happy. Don’t waste precious time with the other stuff.

Before music therapy yesterday, Charlie played in the lovely fall weather.

Before music therapy yesterday, Charlie played in the lovely fall weather.


7 Things On My Fall Bucket List

To do something a little different, I’ve decided to participate in the DC Ladies Blogtober (it’s not too late for you to join in). Today’s challenge is to write a fall bucket list.

So here it is. In no particular order, My Fall Bucket List:

1) Begin to wean Charlie off of her formula.

2) Play in the leaves with Kaia (our dog) and Charlie.

3) Visit Harpers Ferry before the leaves fall.

4) Introduce Charlie to caramel apples.

5) Get lost in a good book for a day on the front porch and enjoy the fall air.

6) Clean the house thoroughly before we are snowbound during the winter.

7) Have a bonfire with friends.

Charlie is unsure of what to think about the wind. And yes, she did try to taste it.

Charlie is unsure of what to think about the wind. And yes, she did try to taste it.

 

 


More Questions To Answer

Melanie at MommyDo recognized me with a Liebster Award. She writes:

I think Cheering on Charlie received this award from someone else, but I’m giving it up anyway.

As I’ve stated previously, I am always grateful and flattered when a fellow blogger recognizes me. So without further delay, here are the answers to Melanie’s questions:

1. What made you want to start blogging?

Initially, it was a way for me to document Charlie’s journey in an appropriate venue. My posts became too long for Facebook or Tumblr. But, I like to learn and it became a learning project for me. It was also a way to retain relevant employment skills for when I return to the work force.
2. Who inspires you?

No one person, in particular, inspires me. Instead, I find inspiration in quotes, writings, and song lyrics that I come across. For example, I once read someone tweet something like “There are plenty of intelligent and talented people, distinguish yourself by being kind.” Additionally, there are several Bruce Hornsby lyrics that I often recite to myself such as “It probably won’t happen but I think I’ll try”.
3. What is one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?

You become what surrounds you… and you have the power to decide who surrounds you. I would have much sooner cut out the people who do nothing but discourage, criticize, or think they have it all figured out. I embrace those that encourage, are supportive, and challenge me to be better. If I knew this earlier, I don’t think I would have wasted as much of my youth being angry as I did.

4. What is your favorite item in your closet right now?

Whatever fits and doesn’t have stains. 🙂
5. What is currently your favorite album, artist, or song?

Holy wow, this is a tough one. Right now, Charlie and I have tickets to see Charlie Hunter. He is a guitarist and one of those performers that is consistently excellent every time I see him.

The upcoming show has special meaning to me. As it worked out, Charlie Hunter was the last show I saw while pregnant with Charlie. We saw him the night my  preeclampsia was discovered. His music was among the selections I played for Charlie in the NICU. Each time I hear the song, You Look Good In Orange, I think of Charlie. For the record, he is not one of the Charlie’s she was named after. Although, it was a happy coincidence. He is the guitarist (his part starts at 2:40) on this track:


6. What made you choose the title for your blog?

It came to me while I was writing my first post. When I wrote about cheering her on in the NICU, it clicked.
7. Must have beauty product(s)?

Other than lip gloss, I have not worn make up a day in my life. So I suppose, it’s lip gloss.
8. When are you happiest?

When I’m outside or at a show.
9. First celebrity crush?

OK, so I have to share my secret. I am face blind. So, I got crushes on TV characters rather than celebrities. My first crush was the main character of Quantum Leap. My lab partner, Kat, would be impressed at how nerdy that is.
10.Where is your dream destination?

Any country in Sub Saharan Africa.


Where To Draw The Line

Many moms have a favorite website. For some, it is Pinterest. In my case, I am a Stumble Upon addict. Last January, I was stumbling and enjoying the late night silence when I came across the article titled Mommy Bloggers: A Child’s Right To Online Privacy.

The article raises some valid concerns and compelled me to question where I should draw the line. When is refreshing honesty crossing into careless parenting?

As the article notes, what is written online has the potential to exist indefinitely. To me, the idea that Charlie may one day read what I write about her is my biggest concern. With this in mind, I try to write each post as if she may read it later.

I feel honesty and integrity are important but I think discretion becomes key when the subject broadens beyond the scope of myself. Do I want Charlie to know THAT about me? How will what I write make her feel if she reads it? Do I want the people in her future to know that about her?

Privacy is another important concern. Before my foray into blogging, I strove to maintain a low profile. I enjoyed the freedom that anonymity allowed me. I want that to be an option for Charlie should she choose it.

Currently, we are a March of Dimes ambassador family, I keep a blog, and sometimes, I speak to groups. I plan to slowly move Charlie out of the spotlight around the time she ages out of Early Intervention and my blogging adventure will end. I am not sure what will happen after that point. I plan one thing but life happens. Ideally, it will be up to her.

To the parents who blog, I ask this: Where do you draw the line? What are your concerns?

This was taken yesterday.

This was taken yesterday.


Why I Blog

Why do I keep a blog? It is important to ask myself this question from time to time (especially when others are asking me). By answering it, I remind myself of where things started and assess where I want it to go.

The origins of my blog can be traced back to Charlie’s first NICU. A few days passed before I stopped crying in front of Charlie’s isolette. After which, I wandered into a NICU scrap booking class offered by March of Dimes NICU Family Support. Despite that I am the last person in the world that anyone would expect to see in a scrap booking class (and incredibly socially awkward), there I was.

I suppose that I needed a break from my reading at Charlie’s bed side (it was a teaching hospital with an amazing library). Or maybe, I was desperate to understand and become involved in the new world into which I was tossed. I am unsure of the reason, but I got more than a scrap book out of it.

I was so heart broken, bewildered, saddened, and despondent that I barely said a word the first class. I mostly listened. Hearing the other NICU moms’ discussions somehow made things seem a little bit normal. With each scrap I pasted, things seemed to get better for me.

I learned about what to expect, the way the NICU works, the language, and I started to understand. I began to process what was happening. I would hear other moms talk about how they felt. In my head I would respond, “That is precisely what I feel.” or “I don’t agree. This is how I feel…” It enabled me to comprehend my own feelings. By the end of Charlie’s stay at that NICU (she transfered to a second NICU), I had become one of those chatty moms and had made a very good NICU mom friend.

After Charlie was transferred to a NICU with private rooms, I scrap booked at her bedside in between hands on care times. Once Charlie came home, I completed the scrap book and abandoned scrap booking all together. By then, I was able to combine a few words with the pictures and logged our journey on Facebook.

After we moved, I had graduated to Tumblr. It did not take long until I had a WordPress blog.

I realized that I had no idea what I was doing (the last thing I had written was a tedious technical paper on Dendrimers as Nanocontainers) and started an informal blogging/writing education. In some of my free time, I read about my new blogging and writing hobby through websites and books. My blog is still in that stage where I imitate the sites that I admire or learn from. Eventually, this will evolve it’s own unique identity.

Will I have paid advertising? No (with the exception of advertising that WordPress itself may include because I have a free site), I’ve decided to keep this experiment a hobby. When will I stop blogging? I’ve decided to give Charlie her privacy in a couple years and discontinue this blog.

I blog because, in some way, I still need that scrap booking class experience. I need to see how far we’ve come and to process what is occurring in our daily lives. I want to hear those other moms’ discussions. I wish to express the fact that this (post NICU life) is really challenging and not be pressured to be optimistic all the time. I desire to contribute honest dialogue so that other parents do not feel alone. It is my hopes that all of this will at least help someone other than just myself.

In a nutshell, this is why I blog.

park10

Charlie at the park earlier today.


Five Months of Chatter

My blog is five month’s old today. I had not planned on being a “mommy blogger”. My blog is something that just sort of happened. This seems to be the case with many things in life.

Looking back, I think it started in the NICU. March of Dimes had given a NICU themed baby book to me. I simply started filling it out. Soon after, I started attending the March of Dime’s scrap booking sessions for NICU parents at the hospital. The last thing I would predict is that I would enjoy keeping a scrap book. However, it was a wonderful experience for me.  I was amazed to see the documented progress that Charlie made. It was something I could do for her in a time that I felt completely powerless.

From there, I moved on to using Facebook to document things. I quickly realized the Facebook platform did not quite meet my needs. Additionally, I found myself  making extensive comments on other preemie mom blogs (Ain’t No Roller Coaster is one of my favorites). That was my indicator that it was time to start my own.

At first, I was intimidated by the idea. Other than late night rants on BBS, I did not have any writing experience. What would I write about? Could I keep the commitment to regularly blog? How does one set up a blog? Tumblr seemed to be an appropriate jumping off point. Through trial and error, I was able to answer my questions and begin to learn about the blogosphere. In a few months, I was ready to find the right platform for me.

On Charlie’s first birthday, my blog evolved to the one you are currently reading. I continue to learn what I can about writing and blogging. As our lives move forward, I want to say thank you to my followers. I am grateful for your compassion, encouragement, warm thoughts, honesty, support, and feedback. I want to give a shout out to Tatum at Ain’t No Roller Coaster for inspiring me. Through blogging, I have rediscovered my voice. Furthermore, my blog is a written record that I can reference to see how far we have come (sometimes I need that). All the writing that I have been doing has been instrumental for me in the ongoing healing process. At one time, I wondered if healing from something like this was even possible.

Happy Five Months Blog! Yes, we celebrate just about everything in this house 🙂

Charlie’s reaction to the smash cake on her birthday.

981245_10101719332785173_1907432953_o


%d bloggers like this: