It’s been over a month now since I’ve wandered over to LJ. Oops. My apologies for completely failing to blog last month (and keep up with all of your blogs – I’ll do my best to catch up soon). It’s not that I didn’t want to blog, in fact I had several ideas for blog posts, I just never acted on them. Really, it feels like September 1st happened and then suddenly it was September 30th just like that. I didn’t realize how quickly time was getting away from me until it was gone.
So since I’ve failed to do all my usual postings, I’m just going to do a quick summary of September all in one post. I promise to make it as short as possible.
In September I….
Boys that Bite (Blood Coven, Book 1) by Mari Mancusi
Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, Book 3) by Jackson Pearce
The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle, Book 2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Styxx (Dark-Hunter, Book 23) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
So that’s basically it. Maybe you didn’t really miss much by my lack of blogging. How was your September?
Remember last month, when Gideon tested positive for autism at the Kennedy Krieger institute and my sister's world crumbled around her? (No? Click HERE.)
Since Gideon's diagnosis, our family has been crazy proactive. We've read books on how to teach him, completely changed his daily routine, removed overstimulating toys from his collection and replaced them with educational ones, and devoted time daily to working with him. He's also been going to speech therapy twice a week for an hour at a time. In just this past month, these changes have had a huge impact. Gideon talks nearly all day, everyday now. Sure we still don't know what he's saying half the time, but he's engaging in conversation constantly. And those words he'd said before (hello, thank you, uh-oh, etc…) are now being used regularly at the appropriate times. He's using utensils to eat now and capable of matching colors, numbers, and shapes in puzzles or on command. And he's listening to directional cues (feed Elmo a cookie, go get the ball, turn off the train, take off your shoes, etc…). He hardly even misses the electronic toys that kept him occupied before.
Both of the speech therapists Gideon sees nearly laughed at the report Kennedy Krieger gave my sister, which stated that Gideon's abilities were no greater than a six month old baby (which means he was virtually doing nothing on the learning scale at all). After even just one session with him, they told my sister they weren't going to treat him as an autistic patient and rather a speech delayed boy. They advised my sister to take into consideration the fact that Kennedy Kreiger gets state funding based on the number of kids they diagnose per year and that a true autism test is a three hour session (which they didn't preform). So Rachel decided to get a second opinion through the early education program here in our county (they actually do the three hour test).
Yesterday Gideon had his second evaluation. Cognitive, receptive, social, and adaptive skills (motor skills) put him on par with a 24-30 month year old (he's 24 months old this week) and communication skills put him about 15-18 months (which means he is behind in speech, but that's it). While the early education program can't technically diagnose kids with autism, they said it's very unlikely he is autistic, just speech delayed. Because he's behind, he still qualifies to continue the speech therapy he's currently receiving and those therapists he's working with a sure it's just a matter of time before he catches up.
Basically, Gideon's a little flower that we failed to water. Now that we're dousing him with water, he's growing at a rapid rate. It's hard to admit, but we'd failed him until that terrifying news last month. And while it put a hard strain on our hearts worrying about his future, only now to find out it's unlikely it was ever really an issue at all, it was good we had that motivator to push us into doubling our efforts so he didn't fall further behind because of our own ignorance.
This news comes as such a relief to my sister and at just the right time. With another son on the way, she needs to reduce her stress level and enjoy motherhood. Yesterday was an answered prayer that was spoken by many. We're feeling rather blessed today in the wake of it.
I am more confident than ever that Gideon will continue to excel and that if/when Rachel has him tested again, they'll wonder why they ever diagnosed him autistic to begin with.
Thank you to any of you who have been sending positive thoughts and prayers about this for the last month. It means so, so much to us.
Gideon turns two next month and still speaks very little. Of the few words he’s said (hello, thank you, dad and deon (for his name), duck, etc…), he’s rarely said them again or on command. It’s not to say the boy doesn’t make noise, he walks around mumbling something to himself almost all the time, but he doesn’t talk. He’s not communicating his needs or desires or engaging in playful dialogue with his peers. And for all these reasons my sister has been increasingly worried that he may be autistic.
But I’d worked with autistic kids before and none of them, even the mildest of cases acted anything like Gideon. Gideon’s a ball full of happy giggles, totally okay with broken routines, amicable around strangers, and it’s not like he’s a mute. Is his attention span a little difficult to hold? Yes, but what toddler’s isn’t. Is he behind in speech development? Sure, but this is also something that boys in particular are often behind in. None of his behavior indicated autism to me.
Yesterday Gideon was tested for autism at Kennedy Krieger (one of the best institutes in the country for this test) and met all the criteria to be diagnosed with it. While they did say it’s too early to diagnose the severity of it (they can’t know this until ages 4-5), he is still classified as autistic.
My sister’s whole world crashed down around her over the news. In her 28 years here on earth, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her cry so much – it’s just not in her nature. My sister is strong to the point of coming off cold. She has a skin so thick she seems unbreakable in situations that would destroy a regular person. She kept saying things like: “What if I never hear my son say I love you?” “What if he’s aware of everything around him, but trapped in his own mind his whole life?” “I don’t want him to have to struggle; I want him to have a normal life.” and “This just isn’t fair.”
To see her fall apart so horribly unhinges my heart. I hate that I don’t know how to comfort her right now because I know all the positive, proactive things to say and do – I worked with kids with autism, I know what needs to happen next to correct any learning disabilities early on – but right now the pain is too fresh and these aren’t the things my sister wants to hear. Her fear for not just Gideon’s future, but the baby in her belly’s too now has completely consumed her.
As sad as it makes me that Gideon’s been labeled autistic, I am optimistic. I know that my family will do everything we need to do to educate him every day. I’m confident that after some actual one-on-one time, targeted to his weaknesses, that we will see improvements in his communication abilities. I feel like with work, he may completely test out when he’s tested again at 4 or 5 years old. And I know my sister will get to this positive place one day, but right now her worst fears for her child have come true. She can’t see past that at the moment.
When I was in college, working with special needs kids, I used to tell my mom that I thought I had such patience with them because God was preparing me for having my own special needs kid one day. Since there doesn’t seem to be a child in my future, I’m starting to think God prepared me for helping my nephew and I’ll gladly step up to the plate to teach my sister and nephew everything I know. I want her to have hope, to believe this won’t ruin his quality of life. And I, too, want Gideon to believe he’s just like every other kid one day. I just know that worrying about the ‘what if’s’ years down the road doesn’t help him today.
If you’re the praying type some supportive prayers for my sister’s family would be appreciated. Happy, positive thoughts are also welcome for those that don’t pray. My sister needs all the strength she can get to move onto the next stage in this diagnosis.
Doesn’t it feel like March almost didn’t happen? I could have sworn it was still February yesterday. Between being unusually busy this month and falling into a depressive state because of the season change, the end of March seriously snuck up on me seemingly overnight.
I’m disappointed in my word count this month, though it’s still at least the minimum of what I’d like achieve every month. With the changing weather approaching fast, I was hoping to write as much of Dreamsters as I could before warmer weather pulls me away from it and summer novel starts to get chatty. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Maybe I’ll be able to keep Dreamsters alive in April, but Beyond the Trees (BTT or Summer Novel, whatever you’d like to call it) is already starting their summer dance in my head. I know it will be hard to keep it at bay much longer now that the temperatures are changing.
Anyway, total word count for March was: 5,064 words.
Within the first few days of March I’d already read 3 books and I think that says a lot about how much I deprived myself of reading in February. I had high hopes of finishing my current read and another whole book before March was over, but this three day vacation weekend I’d planned to do that in ended up being more exhausting than my average workweek. Still, I did read quite a lot this month, almost all of which were really great reads.
Carrie by Stephen King (part in a collection)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
Reasons I Fell For the Funny Fat Friend by Becca Ann
Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, Book 1) by Jeff Lindsay
Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi (not pictured, e-book)
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson, Book 3) by Rick Riordan
The Dark-Hunters: Infinity Vol. 1 by Sherrilyn Kenyon
(Titles are clickable and take you to my reviews on GoodReads)
I’d like to take a moment to say something that’s been on my mind a lot lately in regards to books. I read an e-book in March for the first time and am currently in the middle of another. I’d read a short story on my tablet before, but that only took a few minutes as opposed to the hour plus for these novellas. I always thought I wasn’t an e-book fan before, but now that I’ve read some, I can absolutely say I loathe them. These books I’ve bought on the tablet were only purchased this way because it’s the only format they’re available in, but I really wish they’d been available another way. For me, reading them on a tablet was like reading anything else I read online all day/night. And the story’s themselves are really good, but being forced to read them this way takes something away from the power of the story for me.
I just truly hope e-books are not the way of the future, not the end to the printed word. While I can tolerate an e-book here and there when I have to, I can never imagine myself learning to love them enough to choose them over a physical book in my hands.
Even though I don’t love the weather change, I do have to say that, for photography purposes, the longer, brighter daylight has allowed for better photo opportunities. This probably means it will be a while before I test out my lights again because I’m just more comfortable in shooting in natural light so why not take advantage of it as much as I can, right? Anyway, I took lots of fun pictures of Gideon this month and the weather, but since I posted some of those in their own posts like ANNOUNCEMENT and WINTER’S FAREWELL, I’ll just share a few others I captured this month.
So, that’s it. March came and left with the quickness for me. How was it for you? Accomplish a lot?
P.S. Reminder – March Music can be found HERE!
I've had this secret for a few weeks now, but I can finally reveal it!
I'm so crazy excited, you have no idea. I love being an aunt and can't wait to have another niece or nephew to love on and photograph the way I have Gideon. Here's the best of the photos I shot today for their announcement.
I'm not sure Gideon's all that thrilled about being a big brother. 😉
February has been interesting as far as life achievements go. Well, maybe interesting is the wrong word to describe it. It was a sort of lopsided month, but for once this also doesn’t disappoint me all that much.
Unfortunately I only read one & half books this month. I wrapped up Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it finally and while I think it was very informative, it wasn’t as useful to me as I’d hoped it’d be. I use different editing software so basically everything I read on that was useless to me and while I have equipment, I don’t have nearly as much as I’d need to completely recreate the book’s shots. Still, I think it will come in handy later down the road, the further into this photography thing I get. I also read Brenna Yovanoff’s Paper Valentine. You can click that title to see my review.
I can hardly contain my excitement where writing is concerned these days.
First, I posted a short story for Valentine’s Day. If you missed it, click HERE to read In Pursuit of Jenna Mae.
Second, you may remember me saying I’d be participating in GRAPEMO this month and that my goal was to add 5K to Dreamsters. Well, not only did I meet that goal, I tripled it. It has been too long since I’ve had such a successful writing month and I can’t really even explain how excited it makes me that Dreamsters has grown from this baby of a project to a meaty 19K thing now.
As part of GRAPEMO, we were allowed to post teasers every Tuesday and Thursday. I didn’t participate in every opportunity, but I did post three snippets. You can check them out by clicking the following links: SNIPPET #1, SNIPPET #2, and SNIPPET #3. (Look for my LJ name and the title Dreamsters on the page and I’d suggest reading them in order.)
In addition to working on Dreamsters, I started a short story for St. Patrick’s day that I’m not really sure I’ll finish in time now, but we’ll see.
Total February Word Count: 15,842
I didn’t get to use my camera nearly as much as I’d hoped to this month, but the pictures I did capture were adorable. At the start of the month my sister made Gideon this awesome Sock Monkey hat (I swear she’s a crocheting genius, she doesn’t even use patterns, just wings it when she gets an idea). Anyway, about this time last year, we had done a photo shoot of Gideon with his Sock Monkey doll (Click HERE to refresh your memory) so it seemed fitting to do something similar with this hat a year later. I swear my nephew is going to be such a little heartbreaker. Here’s the BEST OF:
So that was my month. For as fast as it moved, it wasn’t all that bad. How about your February?
P.S. Reminder: If you are looking for February music, click HERE!
This month has managed to feel both long and short at the same time, which really shouldn't be possible. For the most part I've started off my 2013 resolutions pretty well, with the exception of weight loss – that's at a standstill at the moment, but I've tackled some other things worth being proud of like….
I had started a short story two years ago for Valentine's Day, but for one reason or another abandoned it a few hundred words into it (this happens a lot unfortunately). I suddenly got the urge to work on it again at the start of the month and finally finished it! I'm excited to share it once Valentine's Day is here. Keep an eye out for it! 😀
In addition to writing a short story, I've been plotting for Dreamsters. I'm not sure if it will be the book I aim to actually complete this year, but it's the one demanding the most attention at the moment (which I guess makes sense since I started it around this time last year). In February, I plan to participate in author Jeannine Garsee's GRAPEMO (which is like NanoWrimo, but cooler). My personal goal is to add 5K to Dreamsters. Even though I can change that goal as the month progresses, I really hope they remain chatty enough to actually complete or surpass 5K in February. I came somewhat close this month, so I really hope I've set a reasonable goal. Wish me luck!
January Word Count: 4,201
Somehow I ended up reading a heck of a lot more this month than I set out to, but I'm not complaining. Getting a good jump start on my TBR pile for the year is A-OKAY with me. Most of the titles below the picture are links to the reviews I wrote for them on GoodReads.
Touched by Cyn Balog
Red Run: A Short Story by Kami Garcia (not pictured, e-book)
Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, Book 1) by Gena Showalter
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Jinx by J. Torres
Easy by Tammara Webber
The Archived (The Archived, Book 1) by Victoria Schwab
I did my first little mini shoot with myself to test out my new lights finally. You can read about that HERE. Outside of that, I only photographed Gideon once this month, but boy did it yield some cute pictures. So cute that Sock Dreams posted this photo on their social networking sites because he's wearing their socks!
On this day, probably the biggest highlight of my month occurred. Gideon's been addicted to phones for as long as he could get his grubby hands on them. He has several of his own "play" phones, but still fights to play with real ones. While shooting him in the socks, he started playing with the house phone – making it ring, playing the saved messages, etc… when suddenly he said, "HELLO!" It sounded a little more like "herro" but it was obvious what he was trying to say. It's the first full word I've heard him say and it totally made my day. I'm not sure if this link will work, but we got him to say it a few more times and recorded him. Click HERE if you want to hear it.
Usually this would be the point where I'd review my favorite music of the month, but to not make this post as terribly long as it's been in the past, I've decided to make the music part of my monthly review it's own thing on the last Friday of the month called, "Music Friday" which is sort of a 'Best Of' of the weekly Music Friday posts I make on tumblr and FB all month. If you were reading this for the music and missed last Friday's post click HERE!
Overall, January was pretty decent for me. How about you?
November was honestly one of the most unsucessful months of the whole year for me, which is super disappointing considering how sucessful November's have been for me in the past. It's like I jinxed myself or something. I'm pretty down on myself at the moment after a series of failures this weekend and the realization that it was time to make this also full-of-fail post, so rather than try and make this long and broken up like usual, I'm just going to make this short and sour (because it can't be sweet with so little to report).
I only wrote a little under 900 words this month.
I only read Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races.
Of all the pictures I took, this one of Gideon on Thanksgiving is really the only one worth sharing.
I hardly even listened to music, but I did get into Atlas Genius at the start of the month.
I gained weight.
I'm glad November was over with the quickness. At least this month, even if I fail at all the things I aim to improve on, it's Christmas and it's pretty hard to kill my spirit during Christmas.
Watch, I probably just jinxed myself again.
How was your November? Hopefully better than mine.