(Click through the slideshow below!)
(Click through the slideshow below!)
(Click through the slideshow below!)
I’ve seriously failed as a blogger lately. I wrote three blog this month and never even bothered to post them (or never found the time, because I was actually quite busy this month). If I’m honest, I think I might kill this blog in 2014 (that is if I can get my website complete by then). This place has just lost its luster for me.
In case you’re curious, here’s what I’ve been up to in October…
I spent 7 days baking this month. Not 7 all at once, but scattered about. When you think about it, though, that’s a whole week lost to baking. Whoa. But it was all for good reasons, even if it wasn’t for my own enjoyment, I’m pretty sure all the people on the receiving end of my treats were happy about it. Here are some pictures of a few of those goodies.
I didn’t read nearly as much as I’d hoped, and nothing nearly as creepy as I wanted for Halloween either, but I did read three really great books and one awesome comic! (Titles link to my GoodReads reviews.)
Speaking of books, I also got some in the mail. One a long awaited kickstarter purchase and two I had no business buying, but couldn’t resist the sale prices.
Somehow, despite being busier than normal, I wrote 4150 words in October (yay for working my way back to those 5K days!) and 1K of those words were for a Christmas short story I’m SUPER stoked about. I really, really want to finish this one in time. I feel like it’s going to become my favorite short story to date.
I worked out (sometimes up to 3 times a day) 20 days of October. This is the most consistent workout regimen I’ve done in a long, long time and I actually don’t hate it. But I do hate how slow the process is. Despite being at this now for over 7 weeks and eating super clean, I’ve only lost 2.2lbs. and no inches. I was so frustrated in fact that I went to my doctor about it. She said I’m definitely doing all the right things and that it just might take a little longer for my body to adjust to the change (which isn’t what anyone wants to hear), but she also switched up my thyroid medicine and the time of day in which I take it and I swear it’s already making a difference two weeks in (in fact, I didn’t even lose those 2.2lbs until AFTER the switch). Having a thyroid condition is known to make weight loss even more difficult than it already is and I know this, but I need at least SOME progress so I hope that this switch lets me finally start seeing some results for all this hard work.
Some great new music came out this month and I played the crap out of it, along with a bunch of old stuff like Twiztid and ICP because this always happens when Halloween nears. Songs/albums you should check out for sure include:
Dance Gavin Dance – “Doom & Gloom”
Arcade Fire – “Normal Person”
The Head and the Heart – “Gone”
Plush Soundtrack/Emily Browning – “Close Enough to Kill”
(click the image to listen on my Tumblr because there isn’t a track available on youtube)
This past week I’ve been particularly busy first by helping out at Trunk-Or-Treat at church [PICS] and then by throwing my ‘Sister from another mother’ a baby shower with my real sister while she was in town [PICS]. And on Halloween, my sister gifted me another nephew!
Abel was born at 8.3 lbs., 19.5” and I’m already so, so in-love with him. After doing a small photoshoot with him in the hospital, I spent the rest of my Halloween with his big brother trick-or-treating. It was one hell of a way to say goodbye to October.
Unsurprising, fall is already turning out to be delightful though I do wish it’d slow down a bit so I could enjoy it more. How was your October?
My sister brought another boy into the world today. Meet Abel Howard Huff!
I am the luckiest aunt. 🙂
(Click through the slideshow below!)
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.
Earlier this week I did two pregnancy photoshoots with my sister, one if it was a boy and one if it was a girl, so that when she learned the sex of the baby today she could announce it to the world with pictures.
You guys know I don't exactly consider myself some fantastic photographer and especially not an editor, but this photoshoot is easily one of my favorites to date and I'm actually pretty proud of my editing efforts so I thought I'd share them both before telling you what she's having! (Note: Clicking the image will open to the full size version on Flickr)
If it's a Girl….
If it's a Boy…
And so I am thrilled to announce that it's a boy! Gideon will have a little brother and I'll have another nephew. I am the happiest aunt right now.
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.
May was a pretty productive month for me. It might have not been completely productive in all the areas I like to focus on, but I’m not feeling any guilt at the end of it, as if I did nothing. For starters, I read. A lot. My theory was that if I wasn’t going to be writing again for a while, I might as well use the time to read a lot so that when writing is flowing again, I won’t feel compelled to read a bunch alongside writing. Because of this, I read seven books this month! I started an eighth too, but I didn’t get to finish it in time so it will count towards my June reads.
Pictured above (click the titles to see my thoughts on each book over at GoodReads): Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, Endure (Need, Book 4) by Carrie Jones, Purity by Jackson Pearce, Body & Soul (Ghost & the Goth, Book 3) by Stacey Kade, Spell Bound (Hex Hall, Book 3) by Rachel Hawkins, Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, & The Walking Dead, Book 2 by Robert Kirkman
In addition to reading a lot, I went a little wild with acquiring new music. Luckily, some of it was gifted to me by my BFF and critique partner
First band to live on repeat in May was Thousand Foot Krutch, a Christian rock band. There were so many favorites from this band, but I’m posting the first track I knew I loved for sure.
Thousand Foot Krutch – “Go”
Then I couldn’t get enough of the Papa Roach. I had loved this band growing up, but forgot to keep up with them over the years. Thanks to Heather, I’ve caught up! And this song, which got so very many plays, could easily be used for both Crack the Sky and Dreamsters so whenever I do get back to writing them, it will be nice to have a new song on their playlists.
Papa Roach – “Blood (Empty Promises)”
While perusing the library recently I stumbled upon some Arcade Fire albums and I know I’d heard of them, though I don’t remember where now, so I snatched them up to give a shot and oh was I happy I had. They have a really chill, summer feel to them. I’ve enjoyed many favorites this month, but the one currently holding the highest play counts is this.
Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”
I saw a fitblr I follow on tumblr mention a band they liked alongside other bands I like and Amazon had their album on sale this month so I figured I’d give it a shot. Instantly I fell in-love with this song. The album as a whole did not disappoint either.
Of Monsters and Men – “From Finner”
I’ve posted a song by this group before, a couple years ago when my sister got me into them. They released a new album this week and since it’s tone fit perfectly with the previous two bands listed I went ahead and bought it. While I don’t love it as much as their first album, it has some great tracks like this one that made it totally worth the purchase.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – “That’s What’s Up”
This last band came in at the very end of the month. A friend at work heard me listening to the three groups above and suggested I check this one out too. It’s more southern rock than indie, but it does play nicely with the indie crowd and I am already so in love with them. I’m hoping to corrupt my sister and father into liking them too. Maybe we could see them live.
Alabama Shakes – “Rise to the Sun”
I had some successful photoshoots with Gideon this month, the most successful being the birthday party invitations I already posted HERE. I imagine June will have a lot of successful shots because Gideon will be one year old! Can you believe that? How has a whole year passed so quickly already? Anyway, so that I’m not double posting, here’s a picture from my second favorite shoot.
Lastly, you’re probably expecting me to say very little about writing. To say something along the lines of, “woe is me, when will fall be here so I can write again?” and you would have been right, but at the tail end of May I totally had an epiphany. One that I can thank my heavily indie based music choices this month for. The music feels like summer to me and I started to feel this yearning for summer as a whole which is odd considering I am totally a fall girl. But it got me thinking…. Maybe the reason I can only write in the fall and winter is because all of my books take place in the fall and winter. Maybe what I needed was a summer book. And it was like the instant I let the theory exist, a story presented itself. And over the course of a few days I had a fully fledged summer story. I’m part way through the outline/synopsis, and really hope to start writing it this month. So that I don’t jinx it yet I’ll only share that it takes place in the south (which I’ve always wanted to write a story in), and it involves the woods – both mysterious and dangerous. I really hope this isn’t some fluke that is just getting my hopes up. I’d really love to write this summer for a change! Wish me luck, please?
I’ll leave you with a preview of the two main lead girls “look” – Lorelei is 17 and Adelyn is 15. The story will be in Adelyn’s POV. 😉
So how was May for all of you? Sound off in the comments!
Something's been on my mind a lot lately, in regards to my photography efforts. See, I study it lots. I practice it a lot, too. But the more and more I read, the more I see a trend in these beautiful pictures not just being beautiful because they were shot perfectly, but because they've been edited in photoshop or some other photo editing program. And, honestly, this bothers me.
I rarely ever edit my photos. I might invert the photo to black and white, or add a blur effect in Instagram when I upload it there, but my photos are almost always raw and I prefer them that way. I don't even have photoshop or some sort of editing software to tamper with an image if I wanted to.
And I think that's what makes a good photographer. Not the editing software they play with after the shoot, but the raw photos they capture in the purest forms of their camera's ability. I mean, back in the day, these editing software's didn't even exist and yet we found photos by great photographers magnificent.
Am I alone in the theory that a good photographer doesn't need software to enhance their ability?
Also, as a bonus, and because it's what spawned this post, today I did a photoshoot with my nephew, Gideon, for his 1st Birthday Party Invitations. Can you guys believe it's already been a year? I can't!
My Christmas was amazing! Partially because of my nephew, Gideon, though. There is just something about watching children experience Christmas that makes it so much more rewarding. I can’t wait for next year, when he’s 1-1/2 years old and far more entertained by the event.
I truly hope all of you had as perfect of a Christmas as I had!
*If you’d like to see the rest of my family Christmas album, click HERE!