Home » Family

Tagged Family

Five Reasons to Give Blood

10808609_846362772072449_1573638740_nWhat was the last donation you made?  $1 in the cup of someone on the street? A larger amount to a friend running a marathon, dancing a dance-a-thon or your alma mater who just won’t stop calling?

Maybe a blood donation? Or maybe not. While I realize there are some who cannot give blood, many of us can. But many of us choose not to. I know, I used to be one of those choosing not to. That was before someone I loved dearly needed blood to live.

There are many reasons to give blood. Here are just a few reasons that I’d like to convince you to do so as soon as possible.

1. It’s free.

2. It’s just as painful, or even less painful, than dumping a bucket of ice on your head.

3. You never know when you, or someone you know, might need blood.

4. It’s easy—you can even play Candy Crush while you do it.

5. You can save lives.

Not sure where to start? No sweat. Find a blood donation near you.

On a personal note, many folks have approached me saying, “let me know if there is anything I can do for you” in recent months. The answer took me many months to figure out. What you can do is click that link above, find a blood drive and do the thing.

Tributes Get Me Every Time

As many of you might know, I teach dance at a consortium of local colleges, called Colleges of The Fenway. While I took this past semester off, I still was able to attend the show. It was quite the treat because it’s actually the first time I’ve watched the show from the audience—I’m typically backstage calling the shots and keeping everyone (mostly) in line.

The first video here is from one of my fellow teachers, and my friend, Kristen. Her group danced this lovely piece, titled “Angels” in memory of our little girl. (Yes, I cried through the whole thing.) It was a beautiful tribute.

But it didn’t stop there…

A group of dancers from previous semesters (and who I look forward to seeing again in January) put together this jazz/tap mix for me. They took a bunch of steps we’ve done over the past 4 years and put them into this one piece. It was amazing awesome and truly moving. (Yes, I cried AND laughed through the whole thing.)

Thank you to my amazing dancers (and bloggers and coworkers and friends and family) for supporting me during the good times and bad.

Being an Expert Gets Me Every Time

Are you an expert? Of what? At what? On whom? How did you become an expert?

Merriam-Webster defines an expert as “a person who has special skill or knowledge relating to a particular subject.”

When you google, “How do you become an expert?” the search results are mostly sites about entrepreneurship, recruiting, business and psychology. All have great ways to become an expert. Most are about studying a person or subject or practicing a subject. That’s how they say you become an expert.

In those regards, I’d like to think I’m an expert on dancing. And writing. And cats. Definitely cats. (probably not cats, I’m no veterinarian.)

But I’ve recently discovered there’s one more way to become an expert—live through it. It’s like a story of survival. If you survive an avalanche, you, in my book anyway, are an expert on how to survive an avalanche. It might not be the expertise you want, but it’s an expertise you now have.

So now that you’re an expert, what do you do with your expertise? You can do nothing. Tell no one. Be a guy who survived an avalanche and go on with your life. Let go of your avalanche story and not let your avalanche story define you. You can keep it close, tell people you know who might encounter an avalanche someday how they could survive said avalanche.

Or maybe you don’t think you’re an avalanche-surviving-expert. You’ve only survived it once. And barely. And you don’t know if you could do it again. Or what caused the avalanche. Or how you really survived. You just know you did.

Or you can take your avalanche experience and share what you do know. What it taught you about avalanches and mountains and snow and breathing and surviving and living and what comes next. You can embrace your expertise.

This year I’ve gained some expertise that I expected. I’ve also gained some that I never dreamt of. Never hoped for. Never wished for. Would never want for anyone. But things happen. And I’m learning that it’s harder to not tell anyone about any of it than it is to start from the beginning.

What I’m learning is that when you experience something, no matter how good or bad or fulfilling or dreadful, the greatest gift you can give is to share your newfound expertise with others. All you can do is hope that, if it is something that’s frightening or dreadful, those you share this expert advice with never, ever have to experience any of it. Because, as humans, how can we hope for anything but the best for other humans?

While I hope no one reading this becomes an expert on the things I have learned this year, I do want share what I know and what I wished I had known.

I’ve started to share my story here, here and here. And, when the time is right, I hope to be able to share more of my new, unwanted expertise with the world.

My Daughter, Bailey, Gets Me Every Time

Bailey1I want to introduce you all, the world, to my daughter, Bailey Quinn.

She’s named after her maternal grandmother’s maiden name (just like her mom was) and her paternal great-grandmother’s maiden name.

Her birthday is September 13. Which means she’s a Virgo. And while I don’t know much about astrology a quick google search tells me she’s loving, sympathetic, charitable, faithful, instinctive and moody. (Sounds about right.)

Bailey3She has a head full of dark brown hair. And a strong grip. Such strong little fingers. And the longest toes I’ve ever seen a baby wear. Dancing toes. And she loved having her picture taken, just like a little diva would.

Her favorite color is pink. She has a pink bear her dad gave her named “Barbara Bear.” And a pink lamb from her best friend. Yes, of course, she has a best friend, and her name is Jenn. Jenn helps Bailey with arts and crafts during their sleepovers. They always were up to something, making some new decoration for Bailey’s room.

Bailey’s favorite food was always her mom’s basil & tomato pizza. Can you blame her? What kid doesn’t like pizza?

Bailey2She loves to listen to mom and dad read stories like “Goodnight, Moon,” “The Little Engine That Could,” and tales from Richard Scarry’s big storybook. She also likes to listen to mom & dad sing whatever song they can remember the words to, even when they mess them up.

Every morning and every night she says her prayers with mom and dad, “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” “Glory Be,” and our special prayers where we ask God for healing, understanding and strength.

Bailey liked making her footprints on paper so much that she did it a few times. But, being quite the lady, she didn’t take well to having her fingerprints taken.

Even at a young age, she likes to share clothes with mom, something I thought wouldn’t happen for many many years.

She isn’t a girl of many words, though how could she get any in with her two parents around all the time?

Bailey4All in all, Bailey is quite an amazing little girl. So, don’t be shy to talk about her. Or ask how she is. I think she’s turning out to be a lot like her mom and dad. And in my book, that’s not such a bad way to be.

Bailey Quinn, September 13-19, 2014

 

Wedding Memories Get Me Every Time

WeddingDisplayUpdate_GetsMeEveryTime3

Updates have been happening all around the house. Big and small alike. This is a small one. Something we were lacking was some art for our bedroom. Instead of buying something new, I wanted to keep things personal, so I decided to update some “art” I had made in the past. After our wedding, we had all these paper mementos that I wanted to keep. So a few years ago I framed up some of our guestbook “tags.”

011612_weddingstationary

It worked fine, but it wasn’t quite the scale I had imagined. (I have this idea that “grown-up” art should be big.) Also, I wanted to feature some of the other fun elements from our big day, like the buttons—everyone at the wedding had a name tag button.

011612_tags1

So, I took the cards out of the frame and measured everything out to decide how big a frame the cards could fill. A trip to IKEA gave me the perfect frames to fill out. Two smaller square “shadow box” frames for the buttons. And one larger frame for all the guestbook notes.

WeddingDisplayUpdate_GetsMeEveryTime2

I used simple brown kraft paper as the background and double-sided tape to hold them in place. Yes, the “cheers” tag looks like it might have had one too many. Nothing a little tape can’t fix.

WeddingDisplayUpdate_GetsMeEveryTime1

 

The two smaller pieces hang on either side of our bed, and the guestbook tags hang on Mr. GMET’s side of the room. It’s one of the last things I look at before I fall asleep and I’m always reminded of our family and friends celebrating the day we started our family.

Other bedroom updates: Headboard (seen above) | Text art (seen in reflection) | Jewelry Box

Talking To A Pregnant Lady Gets Me Every Time

BabyShowersGMET
I work in a big office. With lots of people. Great people. From all different backgrounds. At all different stages of life. Over the past 6 months or so, many of my social conversations at work have been about baby McAuley. And the things I’ve heard have been sweet, surprising and sometimes confusing. So, ladies & gents, here’s my primer on things you should and shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman. Opinions are all my own.

BabyShowersGMET2Keep Talking:
– When are you due? I know you’re going to keep asking until you don’t see me anymore. So just keep asking. It’s fine.
– Do you know what you’re having? (Well, yes a baby.) Guess boy or girl if you wish… Or not. Either way.
– You look so good. Thank you. Let’s leave it at that.
– How are you feeling? I’m glad you care, but I’m probably going to lie to you. Honestly, I feel fat and tired. But I am happy to tell you I’m doing great.
– Are you having any cravings? Some women do. Some don’t. Don’t be disgusted or disappointed.

Shut Your Face:
– Oh, you’re still here. Yes, I’m going to work until I can’t anymore. Deal with it.
– Every time I see you, you get bigger. Well, kids, that’s how it works.
– Was it planned?/Were you trying? It’s none of your business and really, why do you care?
– You really popped! Again, that’s how it works.
– You look like you’re about to pop! A balloon pops. Zits pop. What I’m about to do might be a little more involved.
– Can I touch your belly? Wait, can I touch yours?
– You look so big. Never.
– You look so small. It might seem like a compliment, but really, no one who has just gained 20 pounds or so in six months feels “small.” Besides, every body and baby is different.

Fellow moms or moms-to-be, did I leave anything out?

A Bumpdate Gets Me Every Time

BumpdateSeptember_GMETI’m sure you’ve been eagerly anticipating another baby update, some bump pictures and all that jazz. Well, here it is. I’m growing, Baby GMET is growing and the due date is inching closer and closer. We are in “the red zone” so to speak as anything can happen after week 37. The bags are packed, mostly. The freezer is stocked, for now. And the baby’s room is ready-ish. We feel as prepared as one possibly could for such a life-changing event, I think.

As far as the medical side of things goes, we don’t have any new news to report. We’ve been going for weekly visits since about 30 weeks just to monitor everything. They’re pleased with the baby’s growth, heart rate and activity at this point. We’re still sitting in a pool of uncertainty, so I’ll ask again for any positive thoughts and/or prayers you want to send our way.

Right now, we just can’t wait to meet our little nugget. However, in my mind, baby GMET is staying put for a while longer, but it’s not really up to me, amiright? So, until that time comes, we’ll take all predictions in the comments. Boy or girl? Birthdate? Size? Prizes for all the winners are an overflow of baby pictures in all forms of social media.

 

A Baby Story Gets Me Every Time

MyBump“Your baby’s not normal.”

It’s not exactly the words that first-time expectant parents want to hear at 8am on a Tuesday morning during what should have been just a routine ultrasound. But that’s what the radiologist said with no more bedside manner than that of a butcher.

It’s been 141 days since I heard those words and they still ring shrilly in my ears. Here’s the short version of our story.

At our first appointment (9ish weeks) where they listen for the baby’s heartbeat, it wasn’t heard, but there was no need to panic. We were to go for an ultrasound the next day where they would just confirm viability. And we weren’t worried. There could be a million reasons why the heartbeat wasn’t picked up.

The next morning, the heartbeat was there! But the radiologist also told us about something else that was there—a fluid buildup on our baby’s neck.

Initially there were a lot of questions, tears and prayers. Let’s also put out there that Dr. Google is no longer covered by our insurance. (That’s also why there are no links in this post… don’t go searching. Just don’t.)

What the ultrasound showed was a septated cystic hygroma. It’s a pocket of fluid on the back of the baby’s neck that can sometimes be life-threatening in utero. We are fortunate ours was not fatal. It’s also extremely rare. We’re talking 1% (or less) of pregnancies. That’s like a 1 in 6,000 chance or something. So, unless you know more than 6,000 pregnant women, it’s not surprising that you haven’t heard of it.

There can be many causes of cystic hygromas, about 50% of the time they appear because of chromosomal disorders. We did some initial blood work (10 weeks) that came back negative for some common disorders. We chose not to do any further DNA testing (14 weeks) because it would not affect the management of our pregnancy. (Even if we found out about a certain disorder, there’s not much we can actively do, except worry, until the baby arrives.) We have continued with regular ultrasounds and we had an echocardiogram (20 weeks) as some cystic hygromas are associated with heart defects.

At this point we know that our baby has a bilateral SVC (20 weeks). (Everyone has a right SVC and our doctor said that as much as 20% of the population could have an extra left SVC and just not know it.) It’s not a problem on it’s own unless a person needs bypass surgery later in life.

At this point we know that the cystic hygroma has resolved or (that the nuchal translucency) is no longer larger than normal (24 weeks). We also had an MRI and a second echocardiogram done around this time that showed no further heart anomalies and what the doctor’s called a “boring*” looking brain.

At this point we know way more about fetal diagnoses and ultrasounds and echocardiograms than we ever wanted to know. (see weeks 9 – present) We still have a few more extra ultrasounds and appointments to get through, but we’re keeping a positive outlook.

And at this point (30 weeks) we know September will be here faster than we could imagine.

So readers, I’m sharing this here not because we want your sympathy, but because writing about difficult things helps me process them. Because writing this here might help some other young family that’s in a similar situation.

One thing you may not know is that I am a religious and spiritual person. And I believe that the prayers we’ve made and those made on our behalf have helped strengthen us and our baby. So thank you for the prayers thus far and if you have any more prayers or positive thoughts you want to send our way, we will certainly take them.

Sorry for all the words. But thank you for reading and being part of our family’s journey.

*Boring has never looked better.

PS… I’m not a doctor, so my stats or explanations are not exactly scientific. This is just my version of what we’ve gone through. If you are in a similar situation, please speak to a doctor or counselor.

 

A Magic Number Gets Me Every Time

Three. Three decades on earth. Three years of marriage. Three members of our family (four if you count Louise, and we do, of course.) Yes. Three.

Baby1

I guess three really will be a magic number for our little family this year, specifically, come mid- to late-September.

Baby2

And while most of my readers probably already know this news, I think there are a few of you who don’t.

Baby3

So, sorry for the lack of posts recently… we’ve been a little busy planning, prepping and praying.

Baby4

There is a lot more to this story that I need to share with you guys. But I think this is enough news for one day, Internet.

(PS… as for the questions. No, we don’t know the gender. Yes, we’ve narrowed down names. No, we won’t tell you. Yes, I’m feeling good. Yes, we’re so excited/freaked out/scared/in awe. No, you can’t touch my belly.)

A Century Gets Me Every Time

Nana100

My grandmother would have been 100 this past weekend. That’s her, second from the left above. The one with her eyes closed. Clutching a doll. She was the fourth of five children. A good-looking group, if you ask me.

While she didn’t make it to 100, she did live 94 very full years. And when I think about all she lived to see, I’m sheerly amazed: Prohibition. The Great Depression. World War I. World War II. Space. Vietnam. Korea. Computers. The 80s. September 11th. The list goes on and on.

She was a teacher and a dancer. And a crazy intelligent woman. She swam and walked daily into her 90s. She did crossword puzzles, loved the Pittsburgh Penguins and played a mean game of Boggle.

Her birthday got me thinking about what life must have been like back when she was born, so I did a little digging. According to TheCostofLiving.com, a home cost about $6,000. A car, about $500. And the early calculator, known as an adding machine, debuted at about $125. I imagine the pace of life must have been so much different. People didn’t travel the way we did. Obviously they didn’t need to check in on Instagram or Twitter or anything. They didn’t have all the stuff we have today. They didn’t eat all the processed crap we eat today. It all sounds so simple. Like a place I’d like to vacation to.

What else happened in 1914? The Boston “Braves” won the World Series. The first scheduled airline flight lifts off. The first successful blood transfusion took place. They danced the foxtrot on a NYC rooftop. These things are so ordinary today. I can’t help wonder what “firsts” from our lives our future generations will look back on as just “everyday life.”

Nana would be 100 now and I know she would be as bullheaded as ever. I hope to live as full a life as she did and to enjoy Oreos and swimming and hockey until I’m a ripe old age too.