A baby’s smile

I could tell right away that Hazel was going to be a smiler. She smiled in her sleep constantly. Though it took her a couple weeks longer than the other kids to start smiling as much in her waking hours, smiling quickly became her favorite activity, and she especially likes smiling at me.

Today at church she was engaging in her favorite smiling-at-me hobby when my friend commented, “Doesn’t it seem like they can see into your soul?”

I joked back, “If she could, she wouldn’t keep smiling.” (And then I commented, “Nah, she’s my favorite. She doesn’t disobey 😉 “)

But thinking more about that unabashed smile, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may have come across four or five times in your life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. (The Great Gatsby)

So, yes. I think maybe a little baby can see right into our souls (and still beam up at us).

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Dear new neighbors

When I’m upset, I blog.

Dear new neighbors,

For the past two and a half weeks, I’ve felt extremely lucky to live in this neighborhood. Thank you for welcoming us.

Thank you for looking out for our children—and most especially for CALLING THE FREAKING POLICE FOR “NEGLECTING” OUR CHILDREN. That one right there—that‘s what it means to be a good neighbor, right?

I’m guessing you heard me shouting to my 3-year-old that I was leaving her. I’m guessing that you somehow missed the massive fit she was throwing. You couldn’t have known that her cruel, cruel mother was forcing her to leave the house through the garage with everyone else, instead of through the front door.

I’m also guessing that you do not have, probably have never had, and, in fact, never were a 3-year-old. If you had, surely you would remember and understand how difficult this age is. This particular 3-year-old typically responds best to idle threats. I tell her I’m leaving her somewhere on a weekly basis. As you can see by her continued presence in our home, either she’s got a very good internal GPS or, hm, I’ve never left her anywhere. (Here’s a hint, since I can’t trust you to jump to the correct conclusion: I’ve never left her anywhere.) Telling her I’m leaving her (often accompanied by hopes that she’ll find a nice family to take her in) is the only way to get her to come when I need to go—such as when we’re five minutes late.

I’m also guessing that you were not actually watching my home. Because if you were actually watching my home, you would have seen the 7-year-old, 4 (not yet 5)-year-old and said 3-year-old all in my front yard. You would have seen me applying sunscreen to all of them. You would have seen me load all of them into the van before, yes, I did leave. To take those “neglected” children to their swim lessons.

You would have also noticed that the house was very quiet while my van was gone. Not a phenomenon observed very often with three unsupervised children, is it?

You would have also noticed me arriving back home with all of my children in tow—getting in and out of a car is always a production with that many children.

Not sure how you missed so much, but hey, WTG on calling the police anyway! Why wait for the facts? Idle welfare checks to ascertain reality are the cops’ FAVORITE THING TO DO.

Since we’re missing so many of the facts, let me give you a little fodder for your next chat with the cops:

  • Just this morning, I made my children CLEAN. Couldn’t you hear the protestations from your home?
  • Then there was that awful episode where I stopped my children from fighting. I’ve considered instituting a “death match” policy in the future, but the cleanup would probably be too much effort.
  • Oh, did you hear that I had to go to the bathroom today? By myself?? The kids don’t like that either.
  • The baby fell asleep and (gasp) I put her in a swing instead of cradling her for every second of my day.
  • I’ve made my children wear sunscreen, rinse off after swimming, take turns getting in the car (surely you heard that screaming match), and even practice reading and math. Next time you should just call Child Protective Services directly.

It’s a good thing you filed this report anonymously. I’m actually happy to not know who you are because I might very well be on your doorstep telling this story. Also, filing a false police report is, y’know, illegal. So at least you made sure to get that one really important fact right: you’re anonymous.

The thing that makes me the angriest, though, is not dealing with the fourth fit in as many hours from my three-year-old. It’s knowing that someone out there—whom I will now be forced to live by indefinitely—truly believes that I would and did neglect my children, and nothing I can or will ever do will change that first impression.

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Hazel’s birth

Hazel is one month old today! So I thought I should write out her birth story before she gets too much older, right?

I swear, I went into labor on Thursday, March 28th. I had contractions that were getting stronger and closer together, even though I kept moving. I told the kids before Hayden left for school, and he was so excited that he’d get to meet his new sister that day. Ryan was at work and we kept texting back and forth about when he should come home.

But after about 10:30, my contractions petered out, and by 1 PM, they’d stopped. I went for a walk for 45 minutes-1 hour, but nothing. I didn’t want to give up hope, but the hours stretched into days, and I was going crazy.

My first three kids were all born 4-5 days before their due date, which would have been the 26th or the 27th. I was SO DONE being pregnant—not able to dress myself or tie my own shoes or climb into bed. Friday and Saturday I spent about one minute away from a panic meltdown.

Easter Sunday, the 31st, was my due date. I almost couldn’t go to church because I didn’t want anyone to talk to me. Along with Ryan, my youngest sister, brother-in-law, and mom were there to run interference (fortunately, it was unnecessary).

One of my deepest fears has always been being induced—I don’t want to labor in the hospital and I know too many people who’ve gone through the “cascade of interventions,” ending with an emergency C-section, another of my deepest fears. But I was GOING. NUTS. I was convinced my body was broken, and I wasn’t going to go into labor on my own because I’d done something to ruin my one chance. So I mentally prepared myself for an induction. I called to get in to be induced or see the doctor on Monday, but they couldn’t fit me in.

I had a doctor appointment on Tuesday, April 2. I’d conceded to the appointment because it was my birthday and I didn’t want to go to the doctor, but that was the only day he’d be in the office all week, and when I agreed to the appointment, I figured I wouldn’t need it.

I brought everything I’d need at the hospital with me (including Ryan) to my appointment, and asked the doctor to induce me. But he was literally leaving on vacation in minutes, and another doctor at the practice was also out of town (spring break), so the other two doctors were really strapped, and they couldn’t fit me in.

Naturally, I went home and cried for two hours. My mom took my kids out to get me birthday presents. Though none of them could get me what I really wanted, they did make my day better. Ryan had just started a health challenge at work the day before, and one of the challenges was not eating out, so he took me to the grocery store for my birthday date. (Romantical, I know.)

A little before we left at 4, I started having contractions, but (as I told Ryan) I figured it was just my body teasing me again. Un. Fair. We walked the aisles for about an hour, and the contractions didn’t stop. But it wasn’t real. So my mom and I went out to dinner at 6, and walked around the mall afterward.

And the contractions kept getting stronger. (I didn’t tell my mom, though, and she had no idea, LOL.)

We got home in time to help put the kids to bed. By this time, I had to work with positioning to get through my contractions. I had to concede that this seemed pretty real, so I grabbed my Hypnobabies tracks, propped myself up on the couch with pillows, and listened to the first birthing track.

I’ve made it through two previous Hypnobabies births without pain medications (woot!), but I used my tools better this time and managed better. Plus, I’ve finally realized how REAL the fear-tension-pain cycle is, and that panicking brings on pain faster than anything else.

We’d had to re-inflate my birthing ball twice in the previous couple days, and I kept thinking of that as my muscles would tighten—it felt like my belly was inflating like that ball. I also spent quite a bit of time in a state of hypnotic amnesia, as it’s called, which is a lot like being asleep.

By the time my track ended, I figured it was time to go to the hospital. We timed my contractions, and I had like three in ten minutes—so, yeah, it was time to leave. We’d worried about the admission process, since they refused to give me a tour of the hospital without a prescription from my doctor, even though I was 39 weeks pregnant. When we called to ask where to go, the hospital informed my mom we should go to the lobby, take the elevators, and get off at the fourth floor.

That didn’t sound right, so a couple days beforehand we went to the hospital—which has no lobby, no elevators, and no fourth floor. (Fortunately, one of the admission people caught us and answered our questions.)

And when I was in labor, we were ushered right in! By this time, it was about 10:45. I figured if I was at least 7 cm, I might have her on my birthday! If I wasn’t at least a 6, I’d know to let that idea go. The nurse measured, and announced I was a 6-7.


I kept listening to my tracks, because things were getting more intense. I was kind of clinging to them like a lifeline (and when she wasn’t talking about my contractions [pressure waves], but about something else like how I could start the track over, it was a lot harder). The nurse, however, had no idea. She’d called the on-call doctor for my practice, and I guess she mentioned I was going to go natural. The doctor called back while she was putting my IV in, and he asked if he’d need ear plugs. The nurse laughed (apparently they’d delivered a screamer the day before) and informed him that she was sitting right next to me and I was in the middle of a contraction, quiet as a church mouse.

The nurse was great about my hypnosis. She told Ryan she could always tell the ones that had practiced, and she directed her questions to Ryan. He told her it was my birthday, and she asked if I wanted to have the baby on my birthday. He said he thought so. (Of course!) So the nurse did what she could to help things along, and the next time she checked me, about 11:20, I was a 9.

They called the doctor in. A little after 11:30, it was time to push. Fortunately, the doctor was in the hall, so he made it in time. Ryan checked my chart after Hazel was born, and it indicated that I started pushing at 11:36 and she was born at 11:38. It certainly felt a lot longer to me!

Then the only thing to settle was her name! Ryan and I didn’t agree on what order to put her first and middle names in, but we came to an agreement a few hours before I was released.

My recovery has been pretty great. (A big blessing, because my mom had to go back to NC on the 11th [even then, she’d extended her stay to do that]. My sister and brother-in-law generously came to stay with us for the next week, but I’ve been managing four kids by myself for the last two weeks. If I weren’t feeling well, I don’t think I’d make it!) Nursing was a little rough for the first week and a half/two weeks, but we’re doing very well now.

She’s an okay sleeper, depending on the night, and she has a bit of reflux. She does spend long stretches awake (sometimes during the day!), and she loves to be held (surprise, surprise). I think it’s pretty much a crime to put a little baby down, so that works out okay, even though sometimes I feel like I’ll go crazy (or my trapezius will snap) if I don’t get a minute with empty arms.

The household is a little bit crazy, but we’ll get the hang of this soon enough. But nobody in the house is looking forward to summer vacation (and not having to have everyone ready to go outside by 9 AM!) as much as I am!

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Number 4!

I’ve had a secret WIP in progress for several months (well, okay, I mentioned her on Twitter a bit), and even though she was a little later than we expected, she came just in time to make my 30th birthday the best ever!

Hazel first photo

Hazel day 2


2 April 2013

Hazel glam

We’re all doing well!

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The Easiest Way to Transfer from Blogger to WordPress (and keep your readers, links and rankings!)

There are lots of tutorials on migrating from Blogger to your own WordPress, but this is by far the easiest way to keep your traffic, rankings and subscribers. UPDATED 14 Jan 2013.

Also: check out my guide to setting up WordPress on BlueHost, an inexpensive, WordPress-recommended hosting company!

If you find this helpful, please consider signing up for BlueHost with an affiliate link. I get a percentage of any purchase made through my link.

Using a Custom Domain on Blogger? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Transferring from Blogger with Custom Domain to WordPress!

transfer from blogger to wordpress

I made the move from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress five years ago. At the time, I wrote the original ultimate guide to migrating, which I updated in 2009, but a few things have changed in the meantime. So I present the fully updated, all new, easiest ultimate guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress!

Be sure to check out my article on deciding and preparing to switch your domain. Once you’re sure you’re ready, then here are 10 steps to transferring your blog safely, completely and . . . well, awesomely. This method preserves your links, your subscribers, your comments and your content, and makes the move search engine safe.

Get the goods: a domain, hosting, and the WordPress software

1. Get a domain, preferably “yourblog.com.” Don’t own a domain? I use either GoDaddy or Bluehost (aff) for domain registration. Their prices are okay. I recommend three things here:

  • Get private domain registration. No junk mail, no strangers getting your address from your whois info.
  • If available, get yourblog.com, yourblog.net and yourblog.org. Sometimes GoDaddy offers a deal where you can get free private registration when you register 3 domains. (Then redirect .org and .net to the .com using account management. Select 301 redirects.)
  • If you go with GoDaddy, search for “GoDaddy coupon.” Click on the first result and use whichever coupon will save you the most money (calculate out the % to see which one that is if you have to).

2. Get hosting. I recommend Bluehost.com (I receive a commission off sales through this link, which costs you nothing); they came highly recommended and are a pretty good deal. I’ve used them for over four years and I’ve always been very happy. Also, they’re one of WordPress’s recommended hosts and feature a very simple install for WordPress.

3. Install WordPress. With Bluehost, just login to your control panel, click on Simple Scripts under Software/Services, select WordPress from the list, and click the green Install Now button (under Install on an existing server—even if you’re importing your old blog, you’ll be using a new installation of WordPress). Fill in the forms and you’re done. If your host doesn’t have a similar install, you’ll have to install manually. It shouldn’t be too hard; WordPress gives you instructions (and they claim it takes five minutes!).

Prepare to transfer your feed: you don’t have to lose any subscribers

4. Blogger enables you to transfer your subscribers seamlessly as well. I recommend using FeedBurner. If you haven’t already, sign up for a FeedBurner account (if you need a walkthrough to FeedBurner, check it).

Then, login to Blogger and go to Settings > Other > Site Feed. In the Post Feed Redirect URL box, enter your new FeedBurner address. This will help redirect your subscribers.

If you don’t want to use FeedBurner, you can also use this box to direct your old feed directly to your new blog feed by entering http://YourURL.com/feed (with any folders or anything else in your URL).

Prepare your new WordPress blog: with some fun stuff

5. Login to your WordPress (might take a little time for the installation to “take”). Select “Settings” then “Permalinks.” Select “Custom” and type this line in the box:


This is to match the post structure of your Blogger blog, to minimize the number of broken links and redirects.

Wendy Piersall has a few more steps to setting up your initial WordPress installation and getting it off the ground. All good steps!

Gidget at Homeschooling Unscripted made the move using the last edition of this guide this month, and she reports that “The SEO Blogger to WordPress plug-in allows a redirect even if you use a different permalink structure – and it also has a single step to import your photos so that the featured images in your theme work.”

To install the plugin, see the directions here.

Move your posts and comments

6. This is the easy part! In WordPress, go to Tools > Import. Select Blogger from the list. You’ll have to install the plugin. Once it’s up and running, enter your Google login information and grant access to your account. Click the “Import” button next to the correct blog and this should automatically transfer all your posts and comments for you. 😀

However, some of your links won’t work anymore because Blogger and WordPress convert post titles into URLs differently—Blogger leaves out stop words like “and” and “the.” You can fix this, too, with another handy plugin, Redirection. Upload it, activate it and you can use it to easily track and redirect individual broken links (for example, from “/this-best-post-ever.html” to “/and-this-is-the-best-post-ever.html”).

There are also some other plugins to do this automatically. To get these (or any) plugins, in WordPress go to Plugins>Add New. Search for the plugins by name or related terms. (Searching for “blogger permalinks” brings up some plugins that can help with this and some of the other technical stuff.)

Transfer your feed: keep all your subscribers

7. If you’re using FeedBurner, login, go into the feed and click on “Edit Feed Details.” Change your Original Feed to http://YOURNEWURL.com/feed/ .

8. In WordPress, you’ll probably want to use FeedBurner as well, and if so, there’s another plugin to integrate the two services perfectly, FeedSmith, owned by FeedBurner (which is owned by Google). (FeedSmith is still available. I promise. But you might have to download it and then upload it to the plugins page from your computer.)

If you’re using a plugin to handle redirection, you might also want to redirect your feed url: YOURNAME.com/feeds/posts/default to YOURNAME.com/feed/ .

Change over the URL: the final steps to move your blog

9. Back in Blogger, select Settings for the blog you want to transfer. Select Basic and scroll down to Publishing. Click the top link, “Custom domain.” By Blog Address, click on +Add a custom domain. You already own a domain, so you’ll want to Switch to advanced settings. Type in your new domain, www.yourblog.com, and save. (Getting Error 32? Check out the instructions in this comment.)

Now your links will transfer automatically to your own domain (though sometimes Blogger will show visitors a page to make sure they’re not being taken to a different site accidentally), but you’ll need one more step to transfer your blog home page over. Already using a Custom Domain? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Transferring from Blogger with Custom Domain to WordPress!

10. Alternatively, still in Blogger, go to Layout>Edit HTML. Place the following code anywhere after <head>:

<meta content='0; url=http://YOURNEWURL.com/' http-equiv='refresh'/>

This sends visitors to your blog homepage directly to your new URL, and, as Sebastian’s Pamphlets says, is a search-engine safe method of redirection.

Like the change in step 9, this can show visitors a warning page that they’re being taken to another domain. Some might think that it’s just as good to put a link to your new URL in your old blog and leave it up. However, it’s better for your search engine rankings to transfer it like this—if search engines see two copies of your content around the Internet, they may try to penalize one or both of your sites for “duplicate content.”

Be sure to test your main blog URL as well as some of your old post URLs to make sure everything is working, and of course, be subscribed to your feed to make sure that’s in order as well.

And you’re ready to blog on wit’ yo’ bad self.

Note: You might have to import your images to WordPress as well, but I haven’t. However, the last plugin listed in #5 can handle this too!

Feeling brave? There are other ways to transfer your blog from BlueHost to WordPress, but they are more technical. This tutorial seems to be the easiest of these. Good luck!

Also: check out my full guide to setting up WordPress on BlueHost, an inexpensive, WordPress-recommended hosting company!

If you find this helpful, please consider signing up for BlueHost with an affiliate link. I get a percentage of any purchase made through my link.

Disclosure: the Bluehost link is an affiliate link.

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