Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Type A Mom Conference Recap, part 1

I attended the Inaugural Type-A-Mom Conference this past weekend in Asheville, NC.  There are other blogging conferences, some that have been going on for years, such as BlogHer, Blissdom, SITScation, and Blogalicious, in case you have ever heard of those.  You might be wondering, "what do you do at a blogging conference?"  Because this is my first one, I can only tell you what this one was like, but I would imagine that it has the same general format.  General sessions, keynote speakers, receptions, dinners, events surrounding the conference like tours, etc.

The schedule of events at the Type-A-Mom conference was something like this:

Thursday Evening

Sign in, meet people, get your conference "swag bag" full of sponsor freebies, and your nametag.  Look around nervously for people you know.  Or if you are brave, start introducing yourself.

Photo courtesy of Mishelle Lane
If you're me, drop your four little kids off at Kid Con, the children's conference, sponsored by iRobot! ($35 per child for the one evening and 12-14 hour full days of conference!!)  As an aside, all 4 of my kids LOVEd KidCon and can't wait to go back!

Participate in blogger to company speed dating (LOVED this.  It was a time where you had about 20 minutes to go around your table, share about your website or business, and get and give business cards.  You got up and changed tables about 6 times, and met loads of people!)

Photo courtesy of @paperfans and tinyprints
visible are: @jenniferjames, @mutheringheights, @resourcefulmom, and @marybabysteps

Welcome Reception - time to meet and chat, drink some Biltmore Estate Merlot or Reisling, munch on the appetizers and finger food desserts.. I made some new friends there!  I also got to talk about the ways I have found to grow my readership and find new blogging friends.  I love the SITSgirls website - The Secret is in the Sauce.  We check in on the SITSgirls site, follow the link to the featured blogger of the day, and are invited to read and coment on three of her spotlighted posts.  Generally, if you visit a featured blogger, she will come visit you as she weeds through all of her comments on her feature day.  And sometimes you find someone that really resonates with you!  (Hi MutheringHeights!)  I also try to participate in some Blog Carnivals and BlogHops if I see buttons on sites or links from Twitter that mention that there's a blog hop or carnival happening, especially if its for something like homeschooling.  I participate in Wordless Wednesday on my website, I participate in FollowFriday on Twitter, and I share on "Your Life, Your Blog" each week when Sarah puts up a MckLinky to list your site.  Any other random time there is a MckLinky on a site I visit, I will leave a link to a recent post too.

photos courtesy of @paperfans and tinyprints



A yummy breakfast burrito and fruit were served just after at 8 am with a fashion show courtesy of Dress Barn.  About a dozen lovely women from the blogging panels were taken and treated to new outfits from Dress Barn, and strutted their stuff on the playform while Dress Barn talked about what they were wearing.  It was so much fun to see them enjoy being in the spotlight!!!

Photos courtesy of Mishelle Lane
Visible in the fashion show picture are @katjapresnal, @shash, @mrsflinger, @jenminer, @reneejross @geekmommy, @vdog, and @mamaspohr

Speaker Sessions and Panels

To kick things off, there was a general speaker panel discussing Collaborative Blogging after breakfast, and I learned a LOT of things from these fine women.  The schedule, posted at TypeAMomConference said of this panel:

"Blogging as part of a collaborative or social group on a multi-author blog has many benefits beyond getting your work posted, ranging from a fierce social network with other power mom bloggers to simply being seen as more of a force with marketers and boosting your social reach. For marketers, learn how you can reach a large group of influencers in these mom blogging communities."

photo courtesy of Michele at scrappinmichele

 Jennifer James of Mom Bloggers ClubTrisha Haas of Momdot, Alison Worthington of Blissfully Domestic Megan Jordan of Blog Nosh Magazine (moderating), Jill Asher of Silicon Valley Moms, and  Kelby Carr of Type-A MomChristine at CutestKidEver had these notes to share

Breakout Session 1

There were three separate speaker sessions available three times per day.  On Friday morning, the first sessions to choose from were
Breakout 1: Personal Blogging - Trolls, Delicate Topics and Controversy (Julie Roads moderating, Heather Spohr, Trisha Haas, Cecily Kellogg and Anne Fitten Glenn), which I attended
Breakout 2: Building a Blog from Start to Finish (featuring Victoria Haller moderating, Leslie Flinger and Dawn Schnee of Room704)
Breakout 3: Blogger Outreach and Online Public Relations (featuring Jessica Smith moderating, Katja Presnal, Nancy Martira, Stephanie Smirnov, Marcia Hansen and David Griner)  Christine from CutestKidEver had notes from the Blogger Outreach and Public Relations session, and they can be found here.
Breakout 4:  Political Blogging (featuring Joanne Bamberger)

I attended the Personal Blogging session, listening to the women in question talk about the instances on their blogs where they have been personally attacked by people they don't know, how they handled one time instances versus repeat offenders and borderline stalkers.  How their community of bloggers defended them in those situations, the opportunities they have had to make peace and even educate some of those trolls who have visited their blogs.  They also discussed the varying levels of security and anonymity they have had with their blogs and answered questions from those of us who were in the session.

photo courtesy of@paperfans and tinyprints
pictured are @edgymama and @cecilyk

Lunch Session
During lunch, there was a panel discussing Working with Companies.  The schedule for the conference said:
"Companies want to work with bloggers, and most bloggers want to work with companies. From reviews to spokesblogging to direct blog advertising, there are many ways for the two worlds to collide. At the same time, there are questions about how to do it right. Experts from both the corporate/marketing side and the blogging side share their experiences and insights.

photo courtesy of Kris Cain
pictured are Stephanie Smirnov, Dave Binkowski, and Nancy Martira

photo courtesy of @paperfans and tinyprints
Lucretia Pruitt was the moderator, and from left are Angela LoSasso, Amy Lupold Bair,   Jessica Smith  Stephanie SmirnovDavid Binkowski, and Nancy Martira

Having never worked with a company, and not knowing much about networking with companies, this session was chock full of good information.  Christine at CutestKidEver has this synopsis.

Breakout Session 2
Breakout 1: Writing with Authentic Voice and Passion (featuring Anne Fitten Glenn moderating, Anissa MayhewJulie Roads and Robin Dance), which I attended.
Breakout 2: Mom Blogger Rising - Leveraging Your Pre-Kid Career into a Successful Blog Niche (featuring Kristie McNealy MD and Renee Ross)
Breakout 3: High ROI Social Networking (featuring Angela LoSasso and Lindsay Maines) Christine at CutestKidEver attended the High ROI Social Networking session, and her notes can be found here.
Breakout 4: Branding 2.0 (featuring Allison Worthington and Janice Croze)

Breakout Session 3
Breakout 1: The 3,472,109 Hats of a Mommy Blogger - Your Number May Vary (featuring Shannan Powell moderating, Astacia Carter, Angela England and Tara Gerner-Ziegmont) which I attended
Breakout 2: Selling Advertising on Your Blog (featuring Cheryl Phillips moderating, Victoria Haller and Dawn Schnee), Christine at CutestKidEver took these notes
Breakout 3: Business Blogging (featuring Alyssa Gregory and David Binkowski)
Breakout 4: Video Blogging (featuring Sugar Jones moderating, Janice Croze and Trisha Haas)

Breakout Session 4

Breakout 1: Photoblogging and Better Blog Pictures (featuring Mishelle Lane) Breakout 2: SEO in Plain English (featuring Astacia Carter moderating, Kristie McNealy MD and Jen Miner)

Breakout 3: Earning Money via Blogging (featuring Cecily Kellogg and Janice Croze) notes from this session can be found at CutestKidEver
Breakout 4: Power Facebooking (featuring Lindsay Maines and Kris Cain)


Saturday morning began with a fantastic Mom Market, and some great breakfast finger foods and coffee.  The Mom Market room was lined with fantastic information, goodies, clothing, baby toys, wall decor, books, software, you name it! I restrained myself and bought $10 worth of wall decor, but took lots of business cards and information home.  I got a free shirt from Kika Paprika too!  Dawn Camp, from My Home Sweet Home Online was taking free profile pictures, too!

photo courtesy of Dawn Camp Photography

photos courtesy of @paperfans and tinyprints

Breakout Session 1
The first sessions to choose from on Saturday morning were:
Breakout 1: The Blogging Payoff - Understanding the Longview (featuring Angela England and Joanne Bamberger) and notes for this session can be found here.
Breakout 2: Blogger’s Balance (featuring Tara Gerner-Ziegmont moderating, Robin Dance and Melanie Edwards) which I attended
Breakout 3: Twitter 101 (featuring Shari Keating moderating, Anissa Mayhew and Cheryl Phillips)
Breakout 4: Power Tweeting (featuring Amy Lupold Bair moderating,Lucretia Pruitt and Sugar Jones)

photo courtesy of @reallifesarah I think. 
@amberrunsamuck and @pensiverobin pictured

I am particularly partial to Robin Dance at Pensieve for a variety of reasons.  She was the first person from twitter to reach out to me and meet me in person, she has been a blogger for Compassion International, she shares my faith in God, her writing is emotive, filled with bold and italic and exclamation points.  She loves fiercely, and is a genuine person, generous with compliments, and ready to share her heart with you.  Her writing really resonates with me.  She had these thoughts to share during the session:

"The purpose many of us have in blogging is to share our hearts.  Brevity is usually not our strong suit, we write to remember, we give voice to causes, and because blogging is fun and creative.  You can get lost in the matrix, so to speak, and it can negatively affect your family and your relationships.".  These things all resonated with me, and the getting lost in the matrix part, too.  One of my favorite things about being at the TypeAMom conference was finding other people who understand, are attracted to, and have trouble pulling themselves away from online interaction through message boards, twitter, and blogging.  Robin also shared that you need to be living it to be able to write it, so you need to be out there living your life, too.


You are the only one with your particular sphere of influence, people read your blog for a reason.
You sway people with your words, so speak up about things that you love and get you enthusiastic.
Think about who inspires you and what you get from the community around you.
The way to have authenticity when writing about brands is to be yourself and don't write like you are someone else.  Don't be other than your style, your readers will know!

Breakout Session 2
Breakout 1: Blog Kharma and Social Capital (featuring Katja Presnal and Kelby Carr).  Christine from CutestKidEver attended this, and her notes are here.
Breakout 2: Special Needs Blogging (featuring Shari Keatingand Astacia Carter), which I attended.
Breakout 3: Travel Blogging (featuring Traveling Mamas Jen Miner and Kara Williams)
Breakout 4: Problogging (featuring Angela England and Cheryl Phillips)

Here is a picture of @shash in her stunning blue dress with her unique laptop skin, probably prepping for our very small session on Special Needs Blogging.

photo courtest of @paperfans and tinyprints

Our Special Needs Blogging session was very intimate, it was held around one table, actually.  Two women were there for just the first 10 or 15 minutes, and then the only ones left were Holly from IlikeitFrantic, me, and our speakers, Astacia and Shari.  Shari and Astacia told us about the journey they had each had with their children with special needs, the advocacy they have done for their children, the laws in various states, professionals to contact relating to getting diagnoses and a lot of validation of our feelings.  Shari and I started talking, and she gave me what was quite possibly the most important advice I'd gotten all weekend.  "JUst because she sits stoic in a classroom for 6 hours a day doesn't prove that she doesn't need special services, and they must provide it by law.".  So the signing of the IEP from August, we might have to overrrule that.  Astacia also suggested that we get a developmental pediatrician to back up the psychiatrist's diagnosis with a medical diagnosis as well.  A very important session for me  to have attended, and I am so grateful for their perparation and support!

Town Hall Meeting
The schedule for the conference said this about the purpose of a town hall meeting: "Blogging ethics, spokesblogging, reviews (paid or not), whether companies should pay more, pay less or not pay bloggers for representation and consultation… Let’s get it all out there and make sense of this brave new world of mommy blogging. With leaders in blogging, PR and advertising and the whole audience participating, we take all those sticky blogging topics and talk them through to come up with best practices and some consensus."  The notes from this event were taken by Christine from CutestKidEver and they can be found here.

Keynote Address -  Breaking the Mommy Blogging Mold

The schedule for the conference had this to say about the purpose behind the keynote address:  "There is no such thing as a cookie cutter mommy blogger. Moms who blog cover the entire spectrum of political beliefs, religious beliefs, ethnic background, areas of expertise, topics of interest. No two moms who blog are alike, despite a general view that mommy bloggers just write about parenting. In that spirit, the Type-A Mom keynote attempts to reflect the amazing and wonderful diversity of the momblogosphere."

photo courtesy of Kris Cain
speakers were, from left to right: Renee J. Ross, Cecily Kellogg, Megan Jordan, Allison Worthington (moderating), Anne Fitten Glenn, and Julie Roads.  Here is a great synopsis of the Keynote from Christine at CutestKidEver.

After the speaking was all done, some attenders left, some got dressed up for the reception, some went and played Rock Band at Mulligans, and some went back to their rooms and packed and put their feet up after a long long day. I had some dinner, listened to @angengland and @reallifesarah sing about our weekend, and circled between the front lobby, the bar, and the reception.  I did not play rock band, but I sure enjoyed watching these ladies!  And in the lower picture, we are dancing down the hall to Michael Jackson's Beat It.

photo courtesy ofKris Cain
@MomRN @mabelslabels @cutestkidever @twincident @ilinap @canape

photo courtesy of Mishelle Lane
@jylmomIF @mommyniri @savorthethyme @frelle @momspark @debrox @ilinap @morningsidemom

Please, please, try to come next year.  It was a wonderful time! 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Prima Princessa Presents The Nutcracker" DVD Review

My six and three year old daughters have been doing ballet moves since before they could say please and thank you. “Besq” was in the list of my six year old’s first 10 words, a toddler abbreviation of “arabesque”! She and my 3 year old dance their way through most days to music on the radio, on the computer, and occasionally to the cartoon “Angelina Ballerina”. Suffice it to say I have seen a large number of ballet programs aimed at young girls in my 10 years as a mother. In "Prima Princessa Presents the Nutcracker” I have found a way to introduce my daughters to superior quality ballet in an age appropriate fashion!

DVD Description
I will give you a detailed look into the first 15 or 20 minutes of "Prima Princessa Presents the Nutcracker". The show begins with a montage of scenes with young girls playing in the yard in sprinklers, in the snow in snow gear, and in a beautifully appointed living room clustered around a Christmas tree and a television, watching the ballet “The Nutcracker”. The camera zooms in on the TV screen in the living room, and the animated ballerina fairy Prima Princessa begins to narrate the Nutcracker story. At this point, my six year was inspired to retrieve her own leotard and tutu! Several minutes into the ballet, I asked how she liked the DVD so far, and she said “I love it. And I think it’s good that Pima Princessa is telling the story of the ballet”. My daughters were on their feet the entire time, mimicking the moves on the stage and improvising some of their own.

After the first half of the first act, Prima Princessa says “Let’s take a break from the show and do some dancing!” My girls both said “yeah!” and jumped to their feet. Prima Princessa instructs verbally how to do a passé (a ballet position putting the foot close to the knee of the standing leg), and then the viewers are given visuals of a pink flamingo doing a passé, then by the Nutcracker’s character “Clara” doing the proper positioning for a passé on the screen. Other ballerinas and little girls are shown on the screen doing a passé while Prima Princessa continues to reiterate that the move they are watching and copying is called a passé. The viewers are praised for their efforts in learning how to do a passé, and then told that it is time to go back to the show. My toddler son yells and claps “I did it!” when he hears the praise for learning the move, and my 3 year old scurries for the couch, exclaiming “Now we have to go back to our seats!”

My Reflections
Among the many things I loved about this DVD were its integration of Prima Princessa the narrating ballerina fairy, its "kids just like me in a living room just like mine", and the way the creators of it really thought through its design. The narration that Prima Princessa does during the stage performance is just exactly enough talking. She points out things that little eyes might not notice during the slower portions, and she is quiet during very active portions of the ballet. My preschooler was chasing her across the screen trying to catch her. Having a review montage and narration when the ballet returns to the screen after the dance breaks is a wonderful idea. Also, the dance breaks are just long enough to keep children interests, and get them ready to watch more ballet!

Why Your Friends and Family Would LOVE This DVD
If you have a preschooler or a young elementary school age daughter, she is sure to love the Prima Princessa line of DVDs! The young performers on the stage will inspire her. The young performers dancing with her under the instruction of Prima Princessa the animated ballerina fairy will show her that other little ballerinas out there are dancing in their living rooms too! Prima Princessa’s “The Nutcracker” is a wonderful introduction to live action ballet designed specifically for the attention span of a preschooler!

For more information on the creators and how the DVD came to be, please follow this link: "Prima Princessa Presents the Nutcracker" .

Friday, September 18, 2009

Follow Friday!

I wanted to feature several of the blogs I visit on Follow Friday. On twitter, #followfriday is a hashtag used to highlight other twitter friends you would recommend that your followers also follow. I think it's worth mentioning a few each week in the blogoverse!

My recent favorites are:

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Sarah Markley

Spectrum Mother

Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is who I wanna be when I grow up. She has sections about her frugal finds and turning trash into treasure, she has a frugal fashionista section that will inspire you to go goldmining at Goodwill at your very next opportunity, and moments about her homeschool life and speaking engagements and the BEDLAM that comes with being a mom of many. *sigh* I could spend a good long time on her site!

Sarah Markley
caught my eye when she was featured on the Incourage website, telling part of her story of infidelity and the redemptive work God is doing in her life as a result. She is very eloquent, very genuine, and offers a message of hope to everyone.

Spectrum Mother
. Her blog entries are most often chapters and stories from the book she is writing. The book is about her life, and the stories are so often heartwrenchingly sorrowful. Sometimes they are hopeful, other times soul-crushing, and often introspective. But her storytelling is SO beautiful. Even when the content is sad, the story is extremely compelling. And Marcie is a treasured friend of mine, too.

There are very many blogs I hope to share with you. My sidebar is only the beginning!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Moms Rock the Economy!

Take the Pledge!

The Pledge:

--I pledge to purchase from mom-owned businesses as often as possible in my daily life. Be it online or in person.

--I pledge to support my fellow mom in word and action when online.

--I pledge to be a mom that rocks the economy.

Moms Rock the Economy is a collaboration between Leah Segedie and Kelly Loubet. Leah Segedie is the Chief Mom of Bookieboo and Mamavation, and Kelly Loubet is the Designer of Childhood Clothing and Moderator of Bookieboo. It was designed to give moms a place they could go to pursue discount shopping WHILE supporting mom-owned businesses.

I am a mama who needs to pursue discount shopping, and who LOVES to buy from other moms! I was a Mary Kay lady for a while, and loved owning my own business. I know how it feels, how difficult it can be in the economy to continue in your mom owned business rather than setting it aside to find more "secure" employment, and I want to do my part to support moms in their businesses!

Don't you??

Get on over to Moms Rock The Economy and take the pledge, check out the mom owned businesses featured, and if you're coming by this evening, Sept 17th, then come to the twitter party!!! #momsrock on twitter

Happy Birthday to ME!!!!!!

My birthday was this past Tuesday, and I had a WONDERFUL day. WOW! I took Ella and Maddie to Caribou Coffee to get pumpkin chai and a bite to eat while The Doctor stayed home with Annelise and Teddy so they could sleep in. Later in the morning, I dropped my younger 3 kids off at my friend Kim's house. She had offered to watch Maddie, Annelise, and Teddy for me so I could go out to lunch with The Doctor!

I picked him up, and we went to Brio, a lovely Tuscan restaurant. I had a chicken club sandwich with lobster bisque, and The Doctor had the fish that was on special:

The Doctor was heading out for an overnight business trip, and I must say that the lovely al fresco lunch was really nice, compared to a dark yet candlelit dinner out where I might have been tempted to fall asleep!

After lunch, I bought some new jeans at Old Navy to wear at the upcoming Type A Mom Conference and got some Danskos

for $30 at a resale shop! They retail for $115! What a score! They look barely worn, and are SO comfortable.

My chiropractors office gives free massages before your adjustment, and I opted for an hour long massage. My second massage ever, I think. It was heavenly, and I am going to have to go back more often than I think I need to!

I met Ella at the bus stop, we picked up the kids from Kim's house, and went to pick up my CAKE!

My friend Jolie wanted to take me out for dinner for my birthday, and her daughter volunteered to babysit for me. I decided to go to Unaabi Grill to introduce my Ugandan friend to Afghan food! We had beef korma, lamb tikka, fish, grilled vegetables, and palau rice. I heart palau rice!

Jolie and I ran to KMart and grabbed some party hats, plates, and napkins and returned to her house for some cake, ice cream, and a Michael Jackson dance party :)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and links, just wanted to share the birthday love with you!

Book Meme

From InfantBibliophile

It's Day 3 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW), and today participants have been asked to answer the following questions:

Reading Meme

"We encourage you to be creative with this! Please choose one or two questions to answer or try to answer all the questions in five words or less. Or choose a picture to answer a question! Brevity is the goal of today!"

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? not often, if I do, it's grapes or crackers

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? only if I am doing research in the books.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? laying the book flat open or a piece of paper

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both

Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? Depends on the book, but due to the 4 small people in my house, I usually must put my book down whenever, rather than wait to the end of the chapter.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? No, never.

What are you currently reading? Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning by Joyce Cooper-Kahn in the hopes of helping Ella with her cognitive flexibility (adapting to new situations, transitions, handling frustrations), initiation (starting homework, chores, and major projects), working memory (following directions, note-taking, reading and retaining info), planning & organizing (completing and turning in homework, juggling schedules), and self-monitoring (making careless errors, staying on topic, getting into trouble but not understanding why).

What is the last book you bought? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? I usually have several books going at once

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? no, no favorite place.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Either.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? No, there are a lot that I recommend over and over. Off the top of my head: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, Reforming Marriage by Doug Wilson.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) I don't organize. Ask my husband. HE organizes his books, though.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Reflecting on 9/11/2001

The Doctor was working for a company called Capita Technologies during 2001. He had been doing a lot of business travel, teaching software classes, and working from home when he was not on the road. In late May, the headquarters informed him one Thursday that he was expected in Reading, England on Monday morning for a 3-6 month assignment.

We weren't really prepared for that, aside from the fact that my husband had a passport!

Our daughter, Ella, was about 18 months old when The Doctor left for Reading, to work at British Telecom. We quickly made plans for Ella and me to visit him during the month of July. We spent 3 weeks in Reading with The Doctor, making side trips to Wales, London, and a few other places on the weekends.

We spent 2 weeks driving around Scotland and visiting Aberdeen, Edinburgh,Dundee, Inverness, Dornie, the Isle of Skye, Glasgow, and Oban. It was absolutely magical. I had a wonderful time traveling, and Ella was a fantastic sidekick.

While in England, we were told that there was a plan to have The Doctor stay in the UK until at least Christmas, followed by a stay in Germany.

Upon returning to the US, I selected a realtor, put our home on the market, loaded everything up and put it in a storage facility, sold the house, and went to stay with my mother in law in the mountains until The Doctor was due to return to the States for his 10 year high school reunion.

He was due to land at Dulles during the morning of September 11, 2001. A fine fall day, which for us and many others started out beautiful, clear, and otherwise unremarkable.

I was still in bed with Ella when the first tower was hit. My mother in law received a phone call and turned on the tv. She came to get me, and we watched in horror as they replayed the images from the first tower being hit. As we watched, the second tower was hit.

When Ella woke up, I had never been so thankful in my life for multiple televisions and her love for the Nick Jr. morning tv line up! My mother in law and I were positively glued to the TV that entire morning and early afternoon, and Ella never saw any footage whatsoever.

If you are interested in showing your children the footage from 9/11, CalvaryGirl has the youtube videos linked on her site. I have been moved while reading others remembrances, and do not feel the need to include an image here.

I made many many attempts at contacting my husband. I had no idea if he was in London at Heatherow, in flight, if his plane had landed in the States, if he had been re-routed to Canada.

He was less than half way through his flight to Dulles when the captain was informed that the borders were closed and that the flight had been recalled to Heatherow. He eventually got word to a friend to get word to me, but I didn't hear anything until nearly midnight that evening.

When I think about 9/11, I think about horrific images of people jumping out of buildings because the heat was so intense they had no choice, I think about people running from the collapsing buildings, I think about the obliteration of Flight 93 in the field where there were hardly even scraps of metal. I think of many graphic and terrible things I saw that day. I think about bravery on the part of police, fireman, EMTs, doctors, nurses, American and international citizens, all coming together to do what they could to help in the face of the unimaginable horror of the crashes and explosions and clouds of ash and rubble.

I also think of being apart from my beloved when the borders to our country had been closed, with him on the other side of the Atlantic. I think of how many times a day I called him before he came home in October. God, in his graciousness, decided to interact on behalf of my obsessive need to talk to my husband during that time. To call internationally, the first three digits you dial to get out of the country are 011 I think. When my phone bill came, all the calls I had made overseas in the month of October were listed as going to an Alabama area code (011) rather tahn overseas. I was so humbled to realize that God was even paying attention to me and to our finances during this time of loss and fear in our country.

I also think about how our lives changed course due to the attacks. We had tickets to leave out of Atlanta on 9/16 to relocate to England. When 9/11 happened, the work that my husband was doing in the UK nearly ground to a halt, and all the extra contractors were let go.

We lived with my mother in law for several weeks before we relocated to Odenton, MD, between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Capita had no real idea what they were going to do to employ my husband, but they figured he could do some consulting at the nearby air force base once his clearance was increased. I had several graphic nightmares, I am sure many who were personally touched or who watched from afar also did. Mine were probably due to the fact that were were 15 minutes from Baltimore International Airport in our apartment.

My birthday is September 15th, and each year as it approaches, I stop to consider those who were lost and affected by the tragedy of 9/11. I will never forget, and I hope you won't either.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reading Motivation and the 6 year old!

Over the long weekend, Maddie suddenly developed reading confidence! Until now, she has had zero motivation to read, and doing so with her was like pulling teeth. I read her a Margaret Wise Brown book called "I Like Bugs" before bed on Saturday night, and she asked if she could stay up to sound it out herself. This was the first time she has ever asked to read after going to bed, and I agreed. She came out about 20 minutes later and read a large portion of the book to her father. She came out to the kitchen to find me cleaning up dinner dishes, and asked me to come into the living room while she read a more difficult book. Maddie, The Doctor, and I sat on the couch and helped Maddie work through the book "Ten Little Ladybugs". Some words she understood from the visual clues on the page, some were sight words, and others were brand new to her. She was very tired after she finished, but seemed very proud of her accomplishment!

Yesterday, Maddie went to work with The Doctor for a few hours, and on their way home, they stopped at Barnes and Noble to pick out some Level 1 books. Maddie wanted books that had a 1 on them (Easy reader level). She picked out one for herself, one she could read to Annelise, and one she could read to Teddy. The Doctor and I both thought that it was adorable, and admirable, that she would choose to buy books specifically with topics that her younger siblings would enjoy.

During school today, we will get out one of those Level 1 books and see how motivated she is. Stay tuned at http://Mimzywood Academy to see how school goes today!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Seizure Disorders, Connecting, and

I have not mentioned that in addition to Ella's Apergers and Sensory Processing related diagnoses, she also has an "unspecified seizure disorder" that started in toddler hood. She has been seizure free for about 4 years, which is AWESOME, but by no means do I assume that her seizures will never return. She had fewer than 10 total in the course of 3 years. Three were simple partial with secondary generalization seizures, 2 were complex partials, 2 were grand mal/tonic clonic, and 1 was a series of myoclonic seizures. Because her EEGs and MRIs (even 24 hr video EEG and 48 hr take home EEG) never showed any activity, they told us that her seizure activity must be too deep in the brain for them to pick up. It was very disconcerting. Through all that testing, we found that she had a myelin deficiency, which may or may not contribute to her sensory issues and her being on/near the autism spectrum.

It is an unspeakably frightening thing to watch your child having a seizure. You never know how long it will last, sometimes they cannot tell you afterward how they are feeling because of garbled nonsense speech or lack of ability to speak, and many times there is no memory at all of events leading up to the seizure or of the seizure itself. It is one of those totally powerless parent moments where you watch and pray. I was blessed to have majored in Special Education and Psychology in college, and had some familiarity with seizure types when Ella started at 14 months. It did not make it less scary, but having that knowledge from school did make it less intimidating.

Last night, I had a friend on twitter whose child had a seizure. Her daughter had been diagnosed as having absence seizures already, but this was a new kind of seizure and it terrified her mom. I knew about these different types, and was able to explain and reassure to her that the kind her daughter had experienced was a complex partial seizure, and describe the impaired consciousness that my daughter had experienced when she had hers as a preschooler. It reinvigorated my desire to research and help others connect on the subject of epilepsy.

Which, very happily, leads me to talk to you about Greg Grunberg, one of my favorite celebrities. Greg has done work on movies as well as tv shows, but I first discovered him in Alias. I was thrilled when he showed up in Heroes, which is probably my favorite tv show. Greg is also in a really AWESOME band called Band from TV . The lineup is mindblowing: Hugh Laurie from House on piano, Greg on drums, Teri Hatcher on vocals, Bob Guiney from the Bachelor on vocals, Jesse Spencer from House on violin... The band plays gigs to raise money for charities, and Greg's charity of choice is one close to his heart, The Epilepsy Foundation . Greg's son Jake has epilepsy, and he has further created this fabulous website called Talk About It . While its focus is definitely epilepsy, the encouragement is there to talk about special needs. Talk about disability/different ability. Take away the fear and normalize these conditions so there is less misinformation, less looking out of the corner of the eye, less whispering while staring. I would encourage you to check out Band from TV and Greg's website. He is a multi-talented guy with a huge heart, and is working so hard to make the world a more accepting place for his son.

My daughter, Ella, would recommend two books on the subject of normalizing special needs: Don't Call Me Special and All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

I would love to hear from you, and please pass my post and its information on to anyone you know who has a child with epilepsy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Dozen Meme from 2nd Cup of Coffee

1. When you go to Wowmart, what one thing do you get every single
time, besides a funky-wheeled squeaking cart full of frustration?
Three Cheese Crackers! Esp at Super-Wowmart. I had such a hard time
finding them where we live that my parents used to send me packages
with them inside!

2. What is something that people are currently "into" that you just
don't get or appreciate?
Mafia Wars and Farmtown on facebook
Reality TV. All of it.
Little dogs as child substitutes, esp on errands in cars!

3. What is something that really hoists your sail that other people
might feel "ho-hum" about?
GLEE on Fox!
Science Fiction tv shows and movie

4. Favorite song to sing in the shower or car?
Today by Iona

5. A really great salad must have this ingredient:
hard boiled eggs

6. Advice in a nutshell to new bloggers (one or two sentences):
I have no business giving anyone advice about blogging yet!

7. What was the alternate name that your parents almost named you? Do
you wish they had chosen it instead of the one they gave you?
hell to the no.

8. What in your life are you waiting for?
contentment. seriously.

9. You get a package in the mail. What is it, and who is it from?
my mom!! unexpected clothing/underthings for me, sweet items for the
kids she has found and just decided to send because she loves us

10. Today--what song represents you?
Flood - Jars of Clay

11. What is one thing that blogging has taught you about yourself?
I am able to be as transparent in my writing as I am in my conversation

12. How are you going to (or how did you) choose the clothes you're
wearing today? What do they say about you in general or specifically
how you're feeling today?
a) they were clean!
b) my shirt says that I support my daughter's school


Party 2nite! Come to @TrueFemme 's #TrickorTweet Party & don't forget to visit her stop on the scavenger hunt!

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