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Archive for March, 2012

Family Friday: Do We Stay or Go?

We had parent-teacher conferences at Hayleigh’s school on Tuesday. Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook will know about this all ready. Her teachers expressed some concerns about her development, most her social development and some of her motor skill delays. We were all set on sending her on to Kindergarten next year, but after this meeting, we’re torn between keeping her back and sending her on.

There are no concerns from any of us about her academic progress. She is right where she needs to be there. She counts to 100(they only expect 30 by the end of the year), she knows all of her shapes, colors, letters, and letter sounds. She’s even starting to recognize words when we’re reading books. We were reading Fox in Socks the other night and she read the first few pages, only needing help with the name “Knox”. Once I explained to her that the K was silent, she didn’t have a problem. Now, once the sentences got more complex, I did more of the reading, but still I was impressed with what she could do.

But, even though the school year is about three-quarters of the way through, she is not adjusting, especially socially. It’s not just that she won’t talk or play with the other kids either. She won’t interact with them. If there’s something she wants or wants to do, and another kid is in her way, she’ll go do something else. She won’t try to push her way through or even ask for them to get out of her way. If she needs help with something, she won’t ask. She just sits there until someone notices she needs help.

I was discussing some of these issues with my mom on Wednesday and her response? “Hmmm. That sounds like someone else.” Yes, she takes after me. And that’s the problem. I don’t want her to be like me. I don’t want her to have the same issues when it comes to dealing with people. Everyone thinks I’m just shy, but it goes even deeper than that. And there’s the guilt I feel because I feel like at least some of why she is this way is because of me. And not just that I may have passed my personality on to her. But, because of my own social issues, she never really socialized with other kids when she was younger. So, I wonder if she would have, would she be at least a little more outgoing? Or if even not outgoing, at least be able to adjust to being around other kids and interact with them. But, then I look at Nathaniel, and he’s had the exact same early environment, but the exact opposite personality. So it may have not made any difference. And I know it doesn’t make any difference to question myself now. There’s no way to go back and change it.

And if we move her on to Kindergarten, she will likely not receive her speech therapy services anymore. Which in a way is good. It means she’s come far enough that they don’t feel she needs them anymore. But, the requirements are different once they consider a kid school age, so they have to be further delayed than when they were younger. If we keep her in the pre-k program, she’ll still receive those services. And if she loses the speech therapy, she likely won’t qualify for the physical and occupational therapy services anymore either. And she does still need them. She especially struggles with the fine motor skills, like cutting and writing. It’s not that she can’t do it, just that it takes her longer. It takes her longer to do just about everything it seems. Even eating snack. And when she goes to Kindergarten, she’ll have half an hour to get her lunch, her seat, eat, and throw everything away. And if she has trouble opening something, she doesn’t ask for help. The last thing we want is for her to go hungry because she didn’t have enough time to eat because she wouldn’t ask for help with something.

And another concern her teachers had is that she seems to need to be walked through every step of a routine. And this is something we’ve seen at home too. It’s a long process to get her ready for school. We have to tell her to put her shirt on. Then put her pants on. Then get her shoes on and her coat. We can’t just say, “Hayleigh, get dressed” or “get ready to go.” It’s like we have to walk her through every step of it. And we’ve been hearing a lot of “I can’t”s lately, even when it’s something we know she can do perfectly fine.

And there’s her level of frustration when she doesn’t do something exactly right. The other day she was practicing writing her name and while writing her last name made an M instead of W. I just made a comment that it wasn’t quite a W, and suddenly she couldn’t do it anymore. She does this with everything. She’s always been a perfectionist. I honestly think that’s part of why it took her longer to walk and talk.

There are plenty of pros and cons on both sides of this decision, which is why we are so torn over it. Right now though, I think we’re leaning more toward keeping her back for another year in Pre-K. We don’t have to make a final decision yet though.

In other news, Nathaniel had his 18 month check-up yesterday. He now weighs 25 lbs, 4 oz(60%). I really thought he was going to weigh more than that. He is almost 32 inches long(25%). So, he’s kind of short and chunky. 😉 I think he may be about to go through a growth spurt though, so if his appointment had been in another week or two, those stats could have been different.

ROW80 Round 2 Goals

So hard to believe it’s time for another round all ready. The week and a half break always seems to fly right on by. My goals are going to be a little bit different for this one, or at least prioritized differently. A couple of these should be able to be crossed off shortly into the round.

Editing:

  • Spend at least 1 hour a day reading through and taking notes on the first draft of Guarding the Heart.
  • Send it out to Beta Readers by 5/11.

Plotting:

  • Decide on the next WiP.
  • Once chosen, apply snowflake method to story idea.
  • Have story fully plotted and outlined by 4/30.

Writing:

  • Write 1 piece of flash fiction a week.
  • By 5/1 start working on next WiP.

Social Media:

  • Keep up with my Blog schedule
  • Have posts done at least 1 day in advance

Reading:

  • Finish reading Plot & Structure and complete the exercises for each chapter.
  • Read 2 novels a month, or one every 2 weeks.

So, it looks like I have quite the list of goals again. But, they are all broken down into different areas, so I don’t feel like they’re overwhelming. And as I said, there are a couple that I should be able to cross off the list very soon.

What are your goals for this round? Do you focus on one area or on several different projects?

Writing Wednesday: Beta Readers

It feels weird not having a check-in to do on Wednesday. But, instead of just taking the day(or even the week) off from posting to the blog, I come with a question. Or more likely a few. About beta readers. How do you find them? What kinds of things do you want them to look for in your writing? How long do you expect them to take to get back to you? And lastly, anyone want to be a beta reader for me?

I’m not quite ready for beta readers yet, but pretty close. I’m just about finished with the novella I’m writing. Once the first draft of that is finished, I’m going to do a read through of my novel, Guarding the Heart. I know there are some parts that need to be cut and other areas where I need to add more. So, I’m going to focus on that right now. I am hoping by the end of April to have that ready for any beta readers.

This is a new prospect for me as I have never really edited a work before. I thought I did, but what I really did was just fix grammar and spelling issues. Not really anything on plot or characters. Of course, that was before I had really studied anything on the craft of writing. So, like I said, I’m hoping to have this ready by the end of April, but it may take me longer(or not as long, depending on how it goes).

So, anyone interested in reading through this when it’s ready? It is a romantic suspense and runs about 83,000 words. Here’s a quick synopsis:

Casey Brannigan, a personal bodyguard and former Marine, who is trying to get his life back after losing his last client. He almost lost his life and is on the verge of losing his business as well. With his future and that of his partner and best friend, at risk, he feels he has no choice but to take the next job that comes their way no matter what it is.

But when he gets the phone call from Senator Blaine, he wants to turn down the job even though he knows they cannot afford to and feels forced to take it. His daughter, Emelyn, who Casey thinks is just a spoiled rich girl, has been receiving threats against her life. Her father wants someone to protect her while the police look for the person behind the threats. Casey thinks this will be an easy job and goes by himself to her house to watch her. But, there are problems from the start. And when he finds his feelings for her deepening, he realizes there’s more to her than what you see on the surface.

Now, he has to decide if it is worth the risk of getting close to her only to lose her. When Emelyn is taken under his watch, he throws everything he has into finding her, even calling on people he has not spoken to in years. But, as time starts to run out, he fears he will never see her again, let alone confess his true feelings for her. As he closes in on the man who took her, he is forced to face the past he’s tried to leave behind. Will he find her in time or will he have to bury another woman he loves?

Tuesday Short: 777 Game

I’ve seen this little writer’s game floating around the blogging world lately and have decided to take part finally. Here are the rules:

1.  Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
2.  Go to line 7
3.  Copy down the next seven lines or sentences as they are – no cheating
4.  Tag 7 other authors

So, being as I am rather indecisive, I’m going to include two different excerpts from both my finished 1st draft(novel – Guarding the Heart) and my current WiP(novella – Stained Snow).

From page 7 of Guarding the Heart:

“You need to stop sticking your nose into things that are none of your business, or you’ll pay for it.”

As the voice got deeper and more sinister, her hand started to shake. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What have I stuck my nose into? You obviously have the wrong number.”

She heard the door open and spun around then let out a tense breath when she saw her roommate step inside. The voice on the other end of the line spoke again, drawing her attention back.

And from page 77(actually 78 as page 77 was the end of a chapter and there were only 7 lines on it):

“Get a grip, Brannigan,” he muttered, ducking his head under the water. He had wanted to do so much more than warn her off when he had been so close to her mouth.

Casey rubbed his hands over his face, as if he could wash away the desire as easily as he did the dirt and sweat. “This is a job. Just another job. It should be over soon, so there’s no reason to get involved. You can deal with this until you go home.”

Page 7 of Stained Snow:

William got a fire started to burn away the chill from the rain as he listened to it continue to drum against the cave. There was barely enough room for him and the horse inside it, but he managed to lay out his bed roll against the one wall while the horse rested on three legs on the other side. He kept his gun by his side as he drifted off to sleep just in case someone, or something, else decided to seek shelter here as well.

And page 77:

“You see, my stepfather raised horses that he sold to the Army. He had us help him drive them to the forts. My brother hated the work, but I enjoyed it. And that’s how I, how both of us, met Anna. Her father was an officer at one of the forts. The first time I saw her, I felt something different. We stayed at the fort overnight, and I went to her father’s house to talk to her.”

As for the last rule, I’m going to break that one a little bit and just invite anyone who wants to do it.

Knitting Monday: Knitting for a Cause

I got this idea a couple of weeks ago, but was in the middle of some other projects that I wanted to complete first. Now, that I am starting to clear those up, I’d like to start on this one. My plan is to knit hats, in different sizes and styles, in a particular causes color. And when I sell them, I want to donate a portion of the money made to that organization. The one in the front of my mind right now is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Most who know me know why this is an important cause for me. In 2006, we lost my father-in-law to lymphoma, just 13 days before our wedding. We have done the Light the Night walk twice but have never been able to raise any money for it. And I feel the need to be doing more. To be doing something. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but if even just the small amount I could donate would keep another family from grieving, make it so other grandchildren can know their grandparents, it would be worth it.

I did some research, and it seems the color for Leukemia and lymphoma is red(or lime for non-hodgkins lymphoma). So, I will need to start stocking up on that for now. Hopefully I can find some red cotton yarn in bulk, since that will work better for this time of year. If I do winter hats with this theme, I’ll need acrylic or a wool blend possibly for warmth.

I still need to finish up the poncho I started making for my daughter(in February, haven’t been working on it consistently) and there’s a couple other projects I want to finish before Easter. But, after that I plan to start on these and hopefully I’ll be able to start selling these by what would have been his 59th birthday.

Family Friday: Another Thing To Pass Down

I got a phone call from the school nurse on Monday. I needed to come and pick Hayleigh up because she had a rash that they thought the doctor needed to look at. So, I had to go in and pick her up and called the doctor to make an appointment once we got home. That was a little around 11 or a little before. We were able to get in at 2.

So, we get in there and the doctor even seems to be unsure about what it is. It looks like what is on the back of her arms. Which has been there pretty much since she was born. And I have had the same thing since I was born from what my mom said. And now I finally have a name for it. I don’t think her doctor has ever actually said what it was before. Just always said it wasn’t a big deal, just rough skin. So, of course, once I had a name for it, I had to go look it up.

Keratosis Pilaris. And from what I read, it really is not a big deal. According to mayoclinic.com, keratosis pilaris is a “common skin condition that causes rough patches and small, acne-like bumps, usually on the arms, thighs and buttocks. Keratosis pilaris bumps are usually white, sometimes red, and generally don’t hurt or itch.”  Some of the symptoms are: small acne-like bumps, painless skin colored bumps that can, at times, be red and inflamed, dry rough patches, and in some cases, itchiness.

This usually starts in childhood but can occur at any age. And everything I am reading says it usually gets better during the summer and worse in the winter. Of course, my daughter and I just have to be different, right? For both of us, it seems to get worse during the summer months. And when it flares up during these months, it does itch. Most of the time it’s not even noticeable though.

So, what does cause our skin to do this? Once again from Mayoclinic.com, “Keratosis pilaris results from the buildup of keratin — a hard protein that protects your skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin. ” It’s unknown why this keratin builds up but dry skin seems to worsen the condition.

There are some things you can do, like topical exfoliants and topical corticosteroids, to make the condition better, but nothing to make it go away. And the treatments there are, you would have to continue every day or it will come back(if it goes away at all), although it does sometimes resolve with age. One thing I read said it sometimes goes away by the age of 30. So, then I would only have another 2.5 years to go. So, it really is something you just have to live with, although moisturizers such as Eucerin or cetaphil can help too.

Anyway, the doctor really did not think this new rash was related to this issue. Even though it looked like it, she said it’s in the wrong places to be it. She thinks it might be contact dermatitis, so just a reaction to something she came into contact with, maybe from playing outside. So, she gave her prescriptions for a steroid cream and an antihistamine to hopefully stop the cycle of itching, as well as some samples of Aquaphor to put over the steroid cream. Even by Tuesday it looked a little better, and we did not get another call from the nurse’s office.

Random Thursday: ROW80 Round 1 Wrap Up

Now that this first round of 2012 is over, it’s time to take a look at how I did with meeting all of my goals.

Writing:
Finish Guarding the Heart by the end of January: Did this. Had it finished January 18.
Start outlining the next WiP in February: Decided to write a novella based on a piece of flash fiction I wrote last year. And had it outlined by the end of February.
Write at least 2 flash fiction pieces a week during February: I wrote 2 in January and just 3 in February. So did not meet this goal.
Start writing the next WiP by the beginning of March with a goal of 1000 words a day or 5000 a week: I started writing it on February 18. I haven’t managed 5000 words every week but have come close. So this goal was mostly met. And I should have the first draft finished by the end of March.
Blog at least 3 times a week: have been doing good with this one. I even added two more days to my blogging schedule. So, the only day I don’t plan on having a post go up is Saturday’s.

Editing:
Start editing Guarding the Heart at the beginning of March: Still have not started on this one yet. Decided to let it sit until I finished the novella so that I will always have one work resting. I will work on this one during the next round though.

Reading:
Read 1 craft book a month: It took me just about a month to finish the first craft book, Self-editing for Fiction Writers. And I’ve been working on Plot & Structure for a little over a month now and am just a little over halfway through it. I’ve been taking my time with these after realizing it was hard to meet a time goal for them.
Read 1 fiction book a week: some weeks I could read at least 1 a week. But, not every book every week. So didn’t quite meet this one. I did get more books read during the first quarter of this year than I did most of last year probably though.

Social Media:
Comment on at least 5 blogs a week: fell short on this goal almost every week. it continues to be something I struggle with.
RT at least 5 articles a week: I gave up on this one pretty quick, definitely as I went through another phase of completely ignoring Twitter. I can only seem to deal with it in short bursts then I need to leave(like most of my social interactions).
Interact with at least 5 people a week on Twitter: Another one I struggled with. Pretty much gave up on it, but have been doing better since starting back with the ROW80 sprints.
Finish setting up my Facebook author page: I kept putting this one off, but I did finally get it set up on February 12.

Lifestyle:
Cut out pop at home: I did really well with this one. I have had it a couple times at home and when we go out to eat. But, lately when I do drink it, it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. So, I’m starting to think about just cutting it out completely. My problem is that I get tired of drinking just water all the time and haven’t found a good replacement yet.
Attempt to eat healthier snacks: This one was a struggle, mainly because my husband was laid off for the winter(and apparently no one wants to hire someone who’s been out of work for the last 4.5 years=me), so we really didn’t have much money coming in to get anything other than the necessities. I did start making air popped popcorn instead of eating chips or other junk though, so there were some improvements here.
Exercise 4-5 times a week: This one had its highs and lows as well. Most of the time I got at least 3 or 4 work outs in a week, but other times I just lost complete motivation for it. Right now I am on an upswing, so hopefully that will continue.

So, I did meet most of my goals. It does continue to be the social media one that I struggle with the most though. I’m hoping to get past my issues with that so I can do better.

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