Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New Floor or How Miggy Got Her Groove Back

This is part DIY, part self-analysis.  You've been warned.

I've been in a slump lately.  You may have noticed.  Or not.  You've got your own stuff, I get it.

Last week I actually felt sad.  Genuine melancholy.  Blue.  And the word that best described this particular brand of sadness was homesick.  I miss San Antonio, our friends, our routines, our haunts.  And perhaps it's not a San Antonio specific homesickness as much as it's a tired of starting over just when I'm feeling settled sort of homesickness.  Either way, slumpsville.

What has added to this slump, if you've been paying attention (again no worries if you haven't...it's not all about me!), is the adjustment to 3 children, longer work hours for the husband while trying to find time to settle into our new home.  Now that we finally own a home we'll be in longer than 2 years I can really truly make this our home.  Except that I can't seem to make it happen.  All day long my wheels are spinning and it seems like I'm barely able to get the necessities done.  One of the projects I've been wanting to tackle the most is the studio.  We put shelves up a long time ago and I've been working in there on and off, but I would not, could not really commit to putting it all together.

I hate that carpet.  I do not want that carpet in there and I feel like I can't really settle in there until the carpet is gone.  B had heard me saying this over and over for a while.  At first I think he thought I meant "someday" I wanted to get rid of the carpet.  It was becoming clear that someday was immanent.  Last week he said, Well start moving stuff out.  Thank you.

It's not like I needed his official permission in a way that one seeks permission from a boss or higher authority, but I need his permission in a way that one would seek from a friend or mentor saying, It's OK that you want to do this... now go make it happen.  Coupled with a pep talk from a dear friend, I found that hidden motivation I'd been lacking and I started.

Life lesson #1--Just start.
Thursday afternoon while Zuzu napped and the girls were at school I just started taking things out of the studio.  I didn't have a master plan at this point and I didn't know how far I would get, I just knew that I felt the motivation and so I needed to DO IT NOW.  Because once I started I knew it would somehow get it done.  Because B and I, we get shiz done.  B wasn't super excited, but he was willing.  Which is why it makes it all that much sweeter that he would do it.  That guy.  Anyway it seems like some of you on instagram think I totally bamboozled him... I didn't.  At least not totally.  Before long the studio floor was empty save a few heavier items like my easel and a filing cabinet.  I'll just wait until B gets home and he can help me get these out, I thought.  Then about 2 minutes later I was all, Whatever, I can get these out myself.

Life lesson #2--You're stronger than you think.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself of this.  At this point the baby was up and both big girls were home.  Somehow I just kept working.  At last... bare carpet.  I have never ripped up carpet before, but I liked it.  Therapeutic you might say.  I grabbed a box cutter and started cutting away and had the carpet and the pad out of there in probably 20 minutes.

In no time at all the room went from cluttered, to empty, to carpet less:

Earlier I had called home depot and placed an order for 5 sheets of plywood (too few) cut the long way in 8" wide planks (They cut them 7" wide.  A mistake we would not catch until the next day when the floor was 3/4ths of the way done and we had to call and order more wood.  And then cut those 8" wide planks down to 7" wide planks to match the first ones.  This mistake cost us a few hours.)  By that evening B had picked up the planks along with some other supplies while I had removed the backboard, the staples and nails and vacuumed the floor.  We were ready to go Friday morning.

Having seen this DIY wide plank floor using plywood around the internets I knew this is what I wanted for my studio floor.  Something inexpensive (because studios get messy) but still beautiful.  I really love mixing rustic/bohemian and modern.  So these floors were perfect.  I primarily referred to these two posts when tackling this project: Little Green Notebook and Picklee.

First I sanded each plank with the electric sander.  Plywood is rough so I wanted to smooth it out a little and go around all the edges essentially beveling each one.  But I knew I was going to be coating these in poly, so I didn't worry about getting it super smooth.  One problem is that I thought I was using 80 grit sand paper (which is rough) but realized later I was actually using 120 grit (which is substantially finer) thus the sanding took longer than it should have.  If I were to do it again, I'd get a rougher grit paper.  Each board took about 3 minutes on average.

Then B cut and laid each board for me.  He placed a little bit of liquid nails on the back of each board and then nailed each corner and about 8"-10" apart on each side using a finish nailer with 1 1/2" nails.  He's the woodworker of the family so I just let him do his thing.  He had to make cuts to accommodate awkward closet spaces, but other than that it's pretty straight forward.  (Jenny of Little Green Notebook gives a little more guidance in her tutorial on this aspect.)

It took almost all day on Friday, but we did it!  We did it in time for date night even.  We actually would have finished around 4 (instead of 7) if we didn't have to re-order wood (bad calculation) and then re-cute the new planks to match the other planks that were mis-cut.  Oh well.  I did one last spot sanding on the floor to make sure scuff marks and any other sharp edges were removed.

Saturday was whitewash day.  Although both tutorials and my floor were all white washed, I think this floor would also look fantastic in a more traditional wood stain as well.  However, one of the problems with my studio is that it happens to be one of the darkest rooms in the house.  The brown carpet wasn't helping.  I really wanted to lighten it up with a whitewash--this part was easier than I thought it would be.  Just don't over think it.  I grabbed some old white primer we had laying around and added 2 parts water and mixed.  That was it.  Primer works great for that chalky, worn look.  The application is probably where I differed the most when compared to the other tutorials.  Just make sure you vacuum your floor really well before laying paint.  Dust and paint are not friends.

I rolled the whitewash on and immediately thought it was too thick.  So I used a rag and just wiped the excess away.  Since I do this quite a bit when painting on canvas I wasn't intimidated by this process at all.  I mean the great thing about this floor in general is that you're going for imperfection--so it's really hard to mess up whether it's sanding or painting.  Seriously, the warps, gaps, knots, color imperfection all add to the charm.  So that's what I did the whole way across--paint it on, wipe it off.  I would do about 3 boards at a time and roll the whitewash on.  Then starting at the top I'd wipe it off.  It was good to let it soak in a minute or two, so I didn't wipe right away.   (You can see this process in the photo above.)

When the first coat was dry it looked good, but was way too yellow and pink for me.  I decided to add some grey tinted primer to the second coat to see if that would tame it down.  It did!  And I LOVE the result.  You can see from the photo above the half grey tinted whitewash and the yellowness of just the plain whitewash from the first coat.  Same method, apply the wash about 3 boards at a time (edging with a brush first and then rolling on with a roller that had a long handle attachment so I could do this standing up) and then wipe the paint away.

Next I used this water based satin poly finish.  I'm so glad we got water based--oil based poly goes on a little yellow and overtime oil tends to yellow anyway.  This stuff goes on milky white, then dries clear.  So I did 2 coats the first day and at this point I was so smitten with these floors I was ready to make out with them.

2 coats of white wash and 2 coats of poly I was ready to call it good.  B insisted that I lightly sand the second coat, then apply one last coat of poly.  Annnnnnnd he was right.  This time I sanded with a very fine 220 grit by hand--no electric sander!--just to get a little smoother finish.  Then the last coat of poly went on perfectly achieving the smooth satin finish, because for some reason the other 2 coats had left it more glossy.

And it's done.
The obligatory before and after shot:

I love this floor.  I la-hov this floor.

The floor itself is lovely and I can honestly say it turned out even better than I imagined.  But equal to the love I have for this new floor is the love I have for just doing it.  I know I mentioned this before, but decorating my house and actually having it look the way I want--as opposed to 'it's good enough' or 'it works' or even 'it's nice, it's just not my style' kind of gives me a little anxiety.  Like am I trying to show off?  Do I care too much about material things?  I know the answer to this is no.  There are a lot of good reasons for wanting your home to be beautiful and a beautiful reflection of yourself and your family, but for various reasons I still struggle with this sometimes.  Which is another reason this floor feels so good to see this finished.  I did it because this is what I wanted my studio to look like.

Additionally tackling this project was good for my soul and my psyche.  I was reminded that I can tackle a big project and make things happen.  Completing this project has definitely boosted my spirits all on it's own, but also I know I can chose to do something about my current state of sadness and feelings of being overwhelmed--I did it with action.  I started.  One step at a time.  And it feels great.

Anyone else have this problem with finishing your home how you want it to look rather than just settling for 'it works'?  Of course time and money always factor into these decisions, but I'm not talking about that....I mean when you have the resources do you still have guilt?  Maybe not for your home but maybe it's your personal appearance, or even how you spend your time?  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Special Needs Spotlight || Ellie

Hi, my name is Rachel. My husband, Scott, and I have been married for almost 10 years and have four beautiful children – Mason (7), Brynn (5), Miles (2), and our little angel Ellie who last month, at 15 months old, returned to heaven. I want to thank Miggy for letting me share a little bit about Ellie’s story today. Ellie was born with an extremely rare chromosome abnormality called trisomy 4p. After struggling with eating and breathing –kind of important functions- for the first two months of her life Ellie ended up with a trach and g-tube. I stopped working as an ICU nurse and spent the next year trying to balance providing around the clock care for Ellie with being the mom of three other healthy and active kids. I never would have been able to do it without the help of my amazing husband and mom. Ellie had global developmental delays and at 15 months old she was the size and development level of a 6 month old. Despite all of her challenges she was the happiest little girl and was always ready to greet everyone with a smile and clapping hands. In August she got sick and was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, nothing new or out of the ordinary for Ellie, but the day before we were expecting to take her home she unexpectedly passed away during the night. We are left with a huge void since our whole life literally revolved around Ellie. We are grateful for every single memory we have of Ellie and look forward to the day we will be with her again, in heaven. I have shared a lot about Ellie’s story on my blog bubblesforellie.blogspot.com if you would like to know more.

Miggy:  Rachel I'm so honored to have you here today and to be talking about your sweet Ellie. A few weeks ago I linked to your blog as your family and friends had set up a fund raiser for the recent passing of your sweet daughter Ellie. I'm so glad you reached out and talk about Ellie and her condition it today's spotlight. Thanks you. First, can you take me back to the day you found out about that Ellie had trisomy 4p?  Do you remember how you felt?  Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?
Rachel:  I will always remember the pediatrician coming in to examine Ellie after she was born and asking us if she looked like our other kids. I thought he was just making typical newborn small talk until I looked at his concerned face and I realized he was really asking us if we thought she looked normal. He went on to point out all of the abnormal features Ellie had that were consistent with many genetic disorders – low set ears, thick and flat upper lip, high arched palate, thick tongue, short and thick neck, simian crease, and underdeveloped pinkies were a few.
We didn’t receive the exact diagnosis of trisomy 4p until she was 3 months old. After 3 months of unanswered questions about Ellie’s health and development we were so relieved to finally have a diagnosis, but soon found out there were very few answers because of how rare it is (there are only about 100 documented cases in medical literature). We never worked with a single doctor, including our geneticist, who had ever even heard of trisomy 4p let alone knew anything about it. We felt so alone and so scared of what the future would or wouldn’t hold for Ellie. As time went on we learned to live without all of the answers and just let Ellie lead the way.
Initially, I went through a grieving process over the loss of all my hopes and dreams for Ellie’s future. Now as I grieve the loss of my child I am surprised at how similar the emotions I felt a year ago are to what I am currently feeling. Only now it is much harder because she isn’t here in my arm.

Miggy:  Please educate us about trisomy 4p. As you stated in your email this is a very rare condition--what are the hallmarks of this condition and is there any treatment? How did Ellie's needs affect your day-to-day life?  
Rachel:  Trisomy 4p is the same type of chromosomal abnormality as trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), but the duplication involves the short “p”arm of the 4th chromosome. Trisomy 4p has its own characteristic pattern of features, birth defects, and medical problems but just like in Down Syndrome there is a very wide spectrum of how severely each person is affected. Some of the more common problems include global developmental delay, feeding difficulties sometimes resulting in feeding tubes, difficulty walking with most kids not walking until they are 3-5 years old and requiring assistive devices and braces, speech delays with children ranging from non-verbal or non-conversational to being able to eventually talk like a toddler does, epilepsy (seizures) that can be very difficult to control, small size and stature, many orthopedic issues including severe scoliosis, prone to frequent respiratory illnesses, eye and vision problems, unexplained sleep issues, sensory processing disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and dental issues like extra or missing teeth. These children require full care throughout their lives.
Because Ellie was trach and feeding tube dependent she required specialized care 24 hours a day that me, my husband, and my mom were trained to give. She was always with one of the three of us. Our entire day and life revolved around the cares and therapies she required. We were limited on where we could go and what we could do with Ellie, but we learned how to make the best of what we could do.

Miggy:  Although Ellie's condition was rare, her passing was completely unexpected. Is there anything you'd like to share about her passing? Anything you want your friends, family or others to know?
Rachel:  Ellie had been in the hospital for a week with pneumonia, but that was not the cause of her death. From the information we currently have (we are still waiting for the autopsy report) it appears that her cause of death was a perforated bowel. We have no idea what caused it. She had been upset for several hours, but her vital signs never changed and she did not show the typical signs of a perforated bowel. I think that was always our greatest challenge with Ellie, her body rarely responded in a typical manner and problems were often undetected or misdiagnosed because of it. She was in a hospital hooked up to monitors and being observed around the clock by medical professionals and yet no one saw this coming until her heart had stopped and it was too late. Until you have had a child with a rare disorder you will never understand how helpless you feel when no one, including you, know how to best help your child.
Miggy:  Piggybacking on the previous question how can people best approach respond to your family now you are grieving the loss of Ellie? Is there something you wish other people knew so as to avoid awkward or hurtful situations? What about advice for people who want to do something but don't know what to do?
Rachel:  I have always said that I want people to feel comfortable talking to me and asking me questions about Ellie instead of avoiding me for fear of saying or doing something that would offend me. That remains true now that she is gone. I appreciate the people who aren’t afraid to talk openly about Ellie and ask me how I’m doing. I appreciate the people who are okay when I start crying and don’t quickly try to change the subject. I don’t have a list of things people should or shouldn’t say because honestly, it doesn’t matter what they say, I know they have good intent when they say it and that is all that matters to me. The most meaningful thing for me is when people share a specific memory or something that they remember about Ellie.

Miggy:  Will you share with us something you love about Ellie--a special story, a personality trait or just something others might not know?
Rachel:  While Ellie had pretty significant developmental delays all around, her greatest strength was always her social development. She had a very special connection with everyone around her, especially our family. I will never forget the way she would looked at me and smiled the day after getting her trach and knowing that everything this new path would require would be completely worth it. Nothing brought me greater joy than watching her brothers and sister interact with her. They delighted in making her smile and laugh, and she loved their never-ending attention. She lit up when Dad got home from work and always seemed to be in her most playful moods with him. But at the end of the day she was a mama’s girl. The way she looked and smiled at me left absolutely no doubt that she knew I was her mom and she loved me completely. That connection was the greatest gift I was ever given with Ellie.

Miggy:  Many parents joke that we wish our kids came with a handbook. Never does this feel more true than when parenting a child with special needs. Often special needs parenting can be a lonely road, but even then many of us find our support through families who are dealing with similar conditions. You talked about the lonely and scary feeling of parenting a daughter with such a rare condition, what advice would you give to parents on a similar journey whether with trisomy 4p or another super rare condition?  What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time?
Rachel:  Shortly after Ellie was diagnosed we found a facebook group for families of children with trisomy 4p. This group saved me! Even though we were few in numbers and spread out across the globe, for the first time I wasn’t alone. I don’t think enough can be said about having someone who understands the unique challenges you are facing. My advice to anyone who has a child with special needs is find a support group that works for you. Some of the most meaningful connections I made outside of that group were not even parents of other 4p kids, but moms of a child with a trach or feeding tube that could relate to the lifestyle we had to adapt because of those things.  I briefly participated in some other special needs support groups, but for whatever reason the interactions in these groups seemed to weigh me down and stress me out more than they lifted me up. You have to find the right support group that bouys you up and gives you strength. For me that was our 4p group.

Miggy:  Lastly, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming Ellie's mom?  
Rachel:  Ellie taught me what was really important in life. Our family had to give up a lot of things we previously enjoyed in order to care for Ellie and we were happy to do it. Now that Ellie is gone and now the opportunity for those things are back, I realize how insignificant it all is. Our relationships with our family and others around us are all that really matter. While my heart feels like there is a gaping hole that will never be filled, Ellie taught me to make the most of every day I have been given, so I am doing my best to move forward and enjoy every minute I have with my young family.


Rachel, thank you so much for that sweet and tender spotlight.  Ellie's smile and that little sparkle in her eyes are priceless.  Speaking of priceless, as I read your words, particularly your last paragraph I can't help but think about what a priceless gift your Ellie gave you in seeing things as they really are--seeing what is most important, valuable and worthy of our time, which is of course people.  That answer should always be people--our family and loved ones--but it's not always easy to remember.  Thanks for the reminder.  Your love and dedication to Ellie and your family on the whole is beautiful.  Thanks for sharing your story and your Ellie with us today.  God bless you and your family.  

Thanks for reading these important and beautiful stories you guys.  I appreciate the love and support.  We have some great spotlights coming up, but please continue to spread the word and email me with more spotlights at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.  We're closing in on 100 and that feels pretty remarkable to me.

Have a great weekend.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Inviting Criticism

Yesterday I asked for an opinion on the gallery wall, both on the blog and on instagram.  Ask and ye shall receive!  A lot (OK most) of you were not fans of the look.  Some of you liked it, but with a small caveat (different tape color, bigger pictures, etc) (which for the record, I always planned on adding 1-2 more pics in larger sizes) and a few of you folks actually liked it the way it is.  (Also to clarify, I do too.)

As much as most of you didn't like it, it didn't really sway the fact that I do.  And for now, I'm going to keep the washi tape pictures.  One reader asked a great question, I know nobody's opinion will sway you or influence you, so what was the point of asking if you were going to take into account anyone's opinion?  She clarified that she wasn't saying this in a mean way, she was just curious.

Good question.

Here's the answer:  I asked because B wanted a second opinion.  I told him I didn't really need one, but since I was doing a post on the wall and sconces, I would ask the internets their opinion.  I did it for B.  He gets the satisfaction of winning the online poll, I get the satisfaction of keeping the look I want.  That's a marital win/win.  (Plus I don't think he really cares that much) 

But as I checked my IG and the comments off and on throughout the day I was starting to feel a little defensive.  Hence the reason I posted this pic my friend texted me featuring washi tape with frames on a formal looking wall.  I was OK with people having a differing opinion, but I was also trying to show that I wasn't completely off my rocker, and looking for a little validation.  Even then most people came back with reasons why it was OK on this wall, but still didn't like the look on mine.  And it's true... they are two different looks, but the overall idea was there.  I think this works because it's all black and white, I think this works because it's mostly washi tape with just a few frames.

Admittedly I was surprised that more people didn't like the look.  I've had some crazy decorating ideas that were frankly awful, but to me this isn't one of them.

At some point I had to step back and remind myself, You asked for their honest opinion.  You invited this criticism.

Then I realized that if I walked into any of your homes there would probably be something I would change--whether this thought was conscious or not.  Be a paint color, a piece of furniture, an arrangement of some sort there would be something not matching my taste or style.  Even my artsy friends with great taste or favorite design bloggers do things that I don't like the look of from time to time.  Style and taste are really so personal.  After I thought about it like that, I stopped sweating it.  

In college there was a group of 4 os us that were pretty close.  Sometimes one of us would do something annoying or maybe rude and the other 3 of us knew this persons particular quirk or annoying trait immediately.  Like, Ugh, Friend A did this and this today...you know how she does that thing?  OMG I love her to death, but I hate it when she does that! I know that would happen with my other 3 friends and I know that occasionally I was the annoying/rude friend who was the subject of this venting as well.  And really we weren't back-biting frenemines, we just knew that from time to time we all did things that one or more of us didn't like, appreciate or approve of.  Anyway we were talking about how we all know these traits about each other and occasionally talk about each others annoying habits.  However, what we agreed upon was that while each of us were aware of the other three peoples annoying traits and habits were, none of us wanted to know what our own personal annoying trait or habit was.  We were happy to be kept in the dark and avoid that sort of criticism.  I'm sure there are SO many reasons for this, but one seems to be that hearing such open criticism from our closest friends would hurt not just our own egos, but possibly the friendship as a whole.  None of us were or are perfect and likely hearing about our weaknesses wouldn't bring about positive change, only awkwardness and resentment.

So yesterday I invited criticism--albeit on a very small, not personal scale--and was surprised that I still felt defensive.  Again just a little bit, I was by no means truly upset or offended.  I think one reason I was so resistant to the criticism yesterday was because I wasn't actually open to change.  I like my gallery wall just the way it is thankyouverymuch.  I've asked opinions on the blog before, so this wasn't a first, but other times I think I was actually open to the answers and therefore there not defensive.  This stuff is so interesting to me!  So I'm curious, have you ever invited criticism into your life?  Were there positive results or did you immediately regret asking?  Has anyone else ever asked for your 'honest opinion' only have it backfire?  What about positive experiences?  Also, I think it's different asking for opinions from a vast group of people most of whom I don't actually know in person.  Thoughts?

Thankfully no one said anything negative about my beloved brass sconces... then I might have really gone ape.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Project: Gallery Wall and Sconces

We made some baby steps in house decorating this weekend.  I say baby steps because it really wasn't a lot, but two small projects with 3 small children around still took the good part of a day.  First wiring and hanging these beautiful, brass sconces that I lurve so much from School House Electric & Supply Company. Originally we wanted them to be hard wired into the wall, but since the lights themselves didn't have an on/off switch, that means the only way to switch them on and off by from the bed (which is the point of having bedside lighting in my opinion) was to add a cord with a switch.  Now we could have sent them back to Schoolhouse Electric & Supply and paid a little extra to have them rewired, but we wanted to control where the switch was and we wanted to choose the cord.  A quick internet search led us to the Color Cord Company.  They have everything to you need to make your own pendants with cloth covered cords that come in so many great colors and patterns.  They also have switches, bulb cages, socket covers, plugs and pretty much anything you need for wiring a DIY light fixture.  We went with the olive colored cord and a black switch.  B drilled a hole through the bottom of the sconce and did the simple wiring to make a switch.  Voila!  I love how they turned out.

I know a hanging cord would be a deal breaker for some people but I don't like things to look too perfect (remember that fact... it will be important later on) and while it's not exactly an industrial looking room, I feel like the fabric covered cords give it a slight vintage industrial vibe that I really like.

Next we tackled the gallery wall in the living room.  It always seems like hanging pictures is the thing that happens about a year after you've lived in your house.  Hanging pictures seems like such a big commitment, so I want to get it right the first time.  However my new MO is just to get things up on the walls and if I don't like it, then I can always re-arrange it or change it up later.  What makes it even easier is using Command picture hanging strips.  I bought a whole bunch of these on Amazon when we first moved in and I am loving these!  I've used them before but sorta forgot about them for a while.

First we decided what pictures we wanted to display on the wall, then we cut out paper the size of each picture and arranged those on the wall first.  It feels like a huge pain to do this step but it makes the rest of the process so much smoother and assures less mistakes in the actual hanging process.  So overall, it's a time and sanity saver.

B hung the three largest pictures with the ol' drill, screw and wire method, but everything else was hung with Command hanging strips.  For light pictures just one strip along the top will do, heavier pictures will need a 1-2 strips on each side.  Make sure to read the directions because you have to press them for a few seconds on the wall and then let them sit an hour before hanging pictures, so it takes a little longer but worth it!

OK--so remember how I don't like things to look too perfect?  Well at the end I found some pictures of Zuzu that weren't in frames yet and I had the idea to put them on the wall in some of the bigger gaps with a little washi tape.  I like the look.  Not too perfect, a little pop of color--sort of hodgepodge.  B however does not like it.  At all.  Thinks it just looks like a place holder until I get frames.  So we're taking a poll--do you like the wash taped up pictures, or like B do you think it just looks crazy?  Remember I can change the color of the tape and switch out the pictures even quicker.  I was going to add a few more to the wall too so it wasn't just the two, but so far it's just those two.  Please, please give your honest opinion.  B told me that no one would give their honest opinion on the blog.  Ha!  I assured him that was not a problem... so if you have a minute leave a comment letting us know which you prefer.  Not that it will change my mind  :)

Overall I really love the gallery wall this time around... I like that we left it a little asymmetrical and thrown together looking.  I think it helps the chairs look a little less formal.  The only thing is that I'm realizing I need more art besides my own.  I'm going to start working on a collection.  And if there are any artists out there wanting to do a trade, hit me up!

So that's it!  It's funny how even a couple projects really help me feel more settled and like we accomplished something major around the house.

ps--For any of you fellow Mormons out there that middle drawing is all of the temples in Utah drawn on top of each other by artist Maddison Colvin.  I'm not a big fan of most church art, but still want to represent in my home ya know?  I love this piece and told B, now we don't just have one temple picture we have 13!  You can order a print here.   

Friday, September 19, 2014

Call for Spotlights

Hi friends.  Did you know we are super close to reaching 100 spotlights?  I think that's awesome.  Some might even say freaking awesome.  Freaking awes for short.  Anyway, I'm always looking for more families and individuals to spotlight, so if you would like to participate please email me at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.  If you know someone who would be perfect for the special needs spotlight, tell them about it and then have them email me directly.  (It just doesn't result in a spotlight if I email them first--they usually aren't interested enough unless they're willing to email me.)  Thanks so much for your love and support of this series it has meant so much to me and to you guys!  I get emails and comments about the spotlight often and how much you all enjoy it.  Although sometimes I don't have spotlights because I've just been too busy to reply, email questions, etc.  I've stopped apologizing for that and I hope you understand.  One woman show over here and real life (vs the blog) has to come first.

I wanted to share this short video making the rounds on FB lately that I thought you might enjoy.  Thanks Victoria!  This video encapsulates so many ideas for me--the worth of a soul no matter our abilities or disabilities, our hidden potential and like Victoria who sent this video to me, I like Paul's question... when someone says to him I could never do that, he simple asks What can you do?  Seriously, what can you do?  I think we short change ourselves and downplay our abilities all the time.  Enjoy.  

I probably don't say it enough, but thanks for your support.  I love this little space of mine on the internet and it wouldn't be anything without you guys.  So thank you.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Just Can't Win

Tuesday, a school bus pulls up to our house to pick up Lamp for preschool.  Lamp was squealing, excited and driving as fast as her power chair would take her, which was obviously not fast enough.  Finally, she was starting preschool this year, or as she tells everyone Pre-K kindergarten.  We're still working on that part.  Anyway,  she could not wait and honestly neither could I.  I couldn't wait that is, until that actual minute I watched a giant bus drive away with my petite, sweet Lamp waving goodbye earnestly from the darkened bus window charging toward her big pre-k life and then suddenly my heart was like wait, wait, WAIT!!!  

For weeks I feel like I've been barely able to catch my breath.  The house, the kids, the dinner making, the blogging, the time to myselfing, the busy busy husband, the settling, the late hours, the early mornings, the sick baby... it's been a lot.  Settling into a new life--even if we've lived here before--takes time.  And really, it does feel new all over again.  I've been stressed.  Stretched to my limits, and even breaking through those limits a few times. The one thing I've been sorta holding onto is Lamp going to preschool.  This is the only change/reprieve I have in the coming weeks, the only sign of my load being lightened even a little and I need it.

Unlike private preschool, going through the district has taken a lot of work.  Several meetings with district people--therapists, directors, teachers, aids.  Not to mention an IEP, filling out paperwork, doctor appointments, referrals... the works.  And almost every day Lamp has been asking, Do I get to go to school today?  When do I get to go to school?  And everyday I'm checking my calendar wondering the same thing, Does she go to school today?  When does she go to school? 

So here we were both ready, willing and excited for preschool.  Lamp's excited for new friends, learning, computer time, motor skills, eating at school, riding the bus... everything.  I'm excited for a few hours a day with just one kidlet under my belt, a little less noise and a little more time.  Finally after meeting, meeting, meeting and waiting, waiting, waiting Tuesday was the first day of preschool.  I get a phone call telling me the bus is on the way to pick her up (oh yessiree, she gets bussed to and from school) I tell her they're on their way and she starts squealing and scooting down the hallway--she can not contain her excitement.  She is an aerosol can of excitement if you will, that someone has punctured because that stuff is going errrywhere .  We get her bag, put on her jacket, buckle her in her power chair and there she goes, charging full speed ahead to the big yellow bus.  

And it hits me.

Wait, wait....lets get a picture! I say to B who miraculously happens to be home.  She stops and poses for a picture, but my heart is already in my throat and as she speeds away I click a few more.

The bus.  It's so big.  And she's so little.  And it's taking her to school.  They lower the lift in the back of the bus, I climb inside to help them get her out of her chair and situated into a carseat.  She is beaming from ear to ear.  So excited, meanwhile my mama heart is doing a double take.

Did we do the right thing?  Is this the right thing?  We would have put her in school somewhere right?  This is a big bus and how do I know when she'll get to school?  I haven't even met these bus drivers yet, this could be some elaborate kidnapping ploy.  Is this carseat in tight enough?  No, have them tighten it.  

So while Lamp is sitting there giddy with excitement, grinning from ear to ear,  I'm in the middle of an internal civil war.  One minute I'm convinced that I'm on the cusp of a mental breakdown begging for space, air, time and the next minute, I'm questioning the very existence of public schooling and wondering why I didn't request hard copies of the background checks for every person in the building including the other children just to be safe.

The great dichotomy of motherhood, at least for me, is how crazy my children make me one minute and how much love my heart feels ready to pop the next.  Wanting them out of my hair and loving their sticky little fingers on my face in the same breath.  This sentiment seems particularly true of Lamp.  Perhaps it's 4-year-olds in general.  Either way, I cannot win.  

As I'm buckling her into a car seat on the bus Lamp says, "Give me kisses, give me kisses. (I comply) OK mom.  Now get off the bus."

And I just laugh because that girl... oh that girl.  She is ready to carpe diem the crap out of her first day of preschool and no one is going to stand in her way.  Not even me.  So. get. off. the. freaking. bus. mom.

I get off the bus and my heart is swelling with so many emotions and I admit that one of those emotions was fear.  It's scary sending my especially vulnerable 4-year-old out into the world leaving the protective safety of my shadow.  But Lamp, she is not scared.  I always tell her she's the bravest girl I know and it never seemed truer than in that moment waving to her from the bus window as she slowly pulls away.  

I walk back to the house, take a deep breath and my first thought slaps me upside the head... it's too quiet in here.  

For the record, Lamp had a great first day of school.  She's loving it so far and it really is good for all of us--myself included.   Huzzah!  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apple Picking

My favorite thing about this picture is I didn't edit anything other than the size.  
The sky really was that blue and the grass really was that green.  

We returned to a long held family tradition of apple picking this past weekend.  While it looks hot and sunny in this picture, there was still a chill in the air and the weather has cooled down significantly since then.  Fall.  Anyway, apple picking was something we did in New York and our first time around in Cincinnati, but not so much in Texas.  It's not a thing there.  It felt good to go again.  Being so busy these days means that we could spend every waking minute of every weekend trying to get the house together.  And sometimes I want to.  I really want a cozy, put together house to hunker down in this winter.  But we also need time to just be us, spend time together and put the stress of our current life on the back burner.  It may not be much, but it felt like us.  And that felt good.