Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sparking Motivation

I love a good project.
I also love a good Netflix movie and a bowl of ice cream. Unfortunately, I may have been caught up in the latter activity for a little too long. Just like my favorite baby book quips "sleep begets sleep" I would also add that "productivity begets productivity" and "Netflix and chill begets Netflix and chill."

But lately as we've been preparing for our big move, I've been quite productive. One might even say I've been TCBing. (Taking Care of Business.) A lot of the projects I've tackled haven't necessarily had a time frame attached to them, but since the move to our new house does have a time frame I've been nudged to do some things I've put on the back burner for years.  I've tackled memory keeping and scrapbooks, we've cleaned out and sold a lot of stuff from our home and now I'm finally moving on to prepping some things for the new house that I want to keep, but that also need a little refreshing.

For example this week I refinished an old school desk for Zuzu's new room. The desk has been in our basement for a couple of years in our make-shift play area. So it didn't exactly go un-used, but I had been meaning to refinish it for a while. The process was easy enough and one of those why-did-I-wait-so-long? things.

Well, I do know. It wasn't any one thing, there were lots of reasons really. Today I want to share how I've been getting out of my lack-of-motivation stage and back into TCBing. Maybe something below will spark a something in you that will help you get past a funk or find the energy to tackle just one little project that has been back-burnered for a little too long.

Times and Seasons
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to organize the filing cabinet, a time to take a bath; A time to clean out the basement, a time to binge watch Stranger Things. A time to re-finish a desk, a time to stuff your face with chocolate and zone out on the couch If you are in a phase of life that is taking up more energy than usual, it's OK to press the survival mode button on life and take the breaks when you can get them. Some examples might be a new baby, a new job, moving, or even emotional burnout. Whatever it is, it's fine to take a break, zone out and chill. BUT...

Monday, September 17, 2018


It's been a while since I've done a Lately post, which is usually just a mash up of what we've been up to in the past month or so, as well as a mash up of some random thoughts.

--We went to Gatlinburg in the Smokey Mountains at the end of summer right before school started up again and it's become one of our favorite family destinations. Also, it was definitely our best trip there yet! We went to Dollywood (again) and got to see Dolly Parton! In real life. They said there was a parade and Dolly would be in it. Turns out the "parade" was just Dolly in a carriage waving to people. That was the entire parade! Ha. But it was great, she is a legend.
--Also, Gatlinburg is known for it's high concentration of black bears and people often say that you can't go to Gatlinburg without seeing a bear. Well we've been a few times before and had never seen a bear, but on this trip we saw 4! Now a couple of the sightings were not that cool as they were bears digging through the garbage. BUT one bear was a pretty exciting and intense experience. We went on a family hike along a river trail (it was a nice trail that Lamp could take her power chair on which was really nice.) We saw quite a few people along the way, but it certainly wasn't crowded. We were pretty far up the trail when I notice a ranger walking very quickly toward us with an intense gaze and a large gun slinged across his shoulder. I quickly realize it's a tranquilizer gun and ask if everything is OK. He tells us there's been a bear sighting and half joking I ask if we can follow him. In a serious tone he tells us no. We turn to watch him walk the opposite direction and see a family that we had recently passed slowing walking backwards along the path, and then we see the bear! It was big! The ranger came back our way, told us stand all together, and to be very still and very quiet. The bear lumbered our general direction and the girls were freaking out a little bit. The ranger walks a little closer to him, takes aim and shoots the bear with the tranquilizer. The bear is hit and runs off away from all of us! Phew! It was a really intense few minutes and I'm SO GLAD a ranger showed up because I don't know what we would have done if we saw the bear on our own.

--My last note about Gatlinburg was how wonderful it was to have Lamp's new chair while we were there. The battery life on her old chair was getting pretty bad. On a good day it could last a school day (keeping in mind that the chair was turned off and not in use most of the day as she prefers to scoot around her classroom). We took her new chair to Dollywood and it lasted 8 hours and still had juice to go even longer. Also her chair goes so much faster than her last chair and she let's Zuzu ride on the back, so those two were zipping around Dollywood all day long and it was amazing! As Lamp recently said, this chair is a gift.

--School of course started in late August and once again I gave a presentation to Lamp's school about differences, but this time another mother joined me and we talked about her daughter as well. It went really well. I shared the outline of what I talk about in these presentations in my stories on Instagram and have it saved to my highlights. You can watch it here if you're interested and need or want to do a similar presentation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Creating Together + Honoring My Children's Artwork

This post is sponsored by Kid Made Modern as part of an ongoing conversation about fostering creativity in children. Other posts in this series include 5 tips for creating an art closet for kids, fostering creative expression through style, and I'll stop the world and make with you--DIY sticker books. I am so thankful to work with wonderful sponsors here on This Little Miggy as it allows me to continue to make great content. Thank you for supporting sponsors here and as always, all opinions are my own.
When my oldest daughter was 3 she would draw the most interesting, intricate roller coaster drawings.  They were amazing! I would give her big sheets of paper to let her create these designs over and over again. I had the thought that I should let her draw on a canvas so that I could use her drawing as a starting point for a collaborative painting. But I never did it. To this day I kick myself for not following through on that instinct. Years later I had the same idea with Lamp and once again I kick myself for not following through on that instinct as well.

This past year I finally learned my lesson and I DID follow through on this idea with Zuzu and our painting turned out amazing. I absolutely love it. She loves it.

The process was simple enough and while I did it with oil paint, it would be easy to replicate this idea with watercolors or even acrylic paint (although you would have to be careful not to cover up the drawing completely with acrylics.)
For our oil painting I gessoed a piece of heavy water color paper, and once it was dry I asked her to draw on it with a charcoal pencil. Again, use what you have! Ask your child to do this on watercolor paper with a regular pencil. (If you want this to be a special piece you may want to splurge on some large cold-pressed watercolor paper. At the very least, make sure you get thick watercolor paper in a bigger-than-usual size... trust me, the bigger the piece the more impressive it is.)

Friday, September 07, 2018

Happy Friday

Did you get your copy(ies) of Teen Vogue yet? I'm on the hunt for all three covers and so excited to see representation in the fashion industry starting to extend its wide arms around the disability community. We need it! If you're not sure what I'm talking about Teen Vogue put three different women with disabilities on three different September issue covers and it's making waves in all the best ways!

As promised I am working on some new Special Needs Spotlights, but in the meantime I thought I'd do a link roundup. I don't do link round ups very often, but I love when other bloggers post them (do you?) so here are some of my favorite links from this past week.

I'm a fan of Nike's new campaign with Colin Kaepernick and I especially love the full 2 minute ad. Although I understand the controversy--as others have pointed out, certainly many other people have sacrificed much more. BUT he is a notable sports figure (and Nike is a sports brand) who paid a big price for his non-violent protest. What's your take?

Netflix is hitting it out of the park lately with the original teen movies. I really dug To All the Boys I've Loved Before (want to read the books!) and now I can't wait to see Sierra Burges is a Loser.

The real crazy, rich Asians.

Got these in black last Fall and I'm still in love with them... so glad to see they're back.

Thinking about getting a second one of these because the price and the fit are so great. (Over 500 5-star reviews!) 

As a lifelong night owl, I was relieved to read this. (You're not better than us morning people!) Also, do you think "chronotype diversity" could really catch on? I wouldn't mind if it did.

Not the typical museum heist.

Some really good parenting tips. (wink, wink)

As always, a slow news cycle in Washington... the anonymous op ed in the New York Times-- a constitutional crisis?

Might need to hightail it up to Cleveland for this exhibit.

Mother's of daughters! I'm currently in the middle of this book right now and it's so good.

I hope you have a great weekend! Please if you know anyone who'd make a great Special Needs Spotlight please email me (or better yet, have them email me) at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Cleaning Out Clutter + Why I No Longer Feel so Good about Goodwill

First a post about keepsakes and memory organization and now this? I know, I know I'm not exactly an organization expert but with a move to our new house eminently approaching 'tis the season of my life. And if it's the season of your life as well, perhaps this post will be helpful. Also, these are actual photos of my actual basement.

Probably the best thing to come about our home being so long past schedule (originally it was supposed to be done in late 2017) is that I've had a lot of time to clean out, purge, sell and pare down and as of Monday--Labor Day in fact-- I am feeling light. as. air. I finally don't feel terrified to move. Because is there anything that makes you want to kick yourself more than reaching into the pantry and finding Cream of Wheat that expired in 2004, a full year BEFORE YOU EVEN MET YOUR HUSBAND and yet somehow you've been carting this box around the entirety of your marriage, 3 moves and 3 states later? The answer is no. No, there is not.

Listen, I am not a grand organizer, as much as I wish to be, and part of that is the realization that I cannot edit myself, or my life, in one fell swoop. Whether I'm editing my closet or a blog post, it takes 2-5 swoops at minimum before I can finally call it good.

Therefore,  decluttering, purging and paring down has been a process many months in the making, with even more to go. And because I knew that we had many more proverbial boxes of 2004 Cream of Wheat boxes in our home I was so very afraid of this move. I needed to go through the stuff, but never wanted to go through the stuff. And at the same time the idea of moving a bunch of expired cereal (aka crap we no longer, needed, used, fit, wanted) from one house to the other was crippling.

Perhaps if I detail how this process went for us it might go easier for you. It wasn't intentionally planned per se, I just did one thing at a time, but looking back it was a slow progression of manageable, bite sized organizing tasks. Almost every task had things we threw away, donated or sold, but I don't necessarily go through and say that every time.

Also, I have some things I want to say about this "de-cluttering" rage anyway. Why are we obsessed with DE-cluttering, when it seems to me that the real problem is, you know, cluttering? So stay tuned to the end.

Because closets are the crap keepers of each and every room it's best to start there, one closet at a time.  First my own, then the girls, then the front hall and linen closets. Yes my husband cleans out his own closet and yes I have to pester him a bit to do it. Then it seems like I did it again but with much less removal since most of the crap was cleaned out the first time. I can't remember if I tackled this over the course of a weekend or several days scattered through out a month, but it happened.

Gathering and selling:
Next was planning and executing a garage sale for ALL the stuff in the unfinished basement that we've casually thrown into the abyss these past 4 years with the idiom "out of sight, out of mind" being the reigning rule of law down there. But over time, we gathered enough stuff in one spot to declare that we had enough for a garage sale. Then I went through the house and gathered more from each room that could also go in the sale. Including toys. You must go through the toys! (This could be done separately or for a yard sale, but this is another project on its own.)

But for some reason pulling the trigger on the actual garage sale was difficult. (Do I need some sort of permit? What if it rains? Will anyone come?) I finally just picked a date, put fliers on our neighbors doors and invited them to participate as well if they wanted (and they wanted!) and then one Saturday we had an actual garage sale in our yard. Which is now commonly known as a yard sale.

The best part came at the very end when we still had a lot of stuff that hadn't sold and we just started to tell people to take what they wanted. (We were donating the proceeds anyway.) One woman ran a free summer camp for kids (that my kids had actually attended once) and we piled her car to the brim with books, rugs, pillows, kids chair and tables, and whatever we could fit for the program and she was so grateful. As were we. As good as it feels to "get rid of stuff" I've come to feel even better when I know our old stuff is actually going to be used by someone, as opposed to going straight into a landfill or dump.

Organize the Drawers:
Yep. Bathroom drawers, kitchen drawers, dressers, all of them. This is a relatively easy task that gives you a lot of bang for your buck, especially when you do them a little at a time. Going through a junk drawer always feels like a big accomplishment, but goes rather quickly. And since most of us put off drawer organization until the day we move and just end up just dumping the contents into one box (Especially if you hire movers--they do this without flinching) at least you won't have random gum wrappers, broken erasers, McDonald's toy parts and old receipts in there as well.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Special Needs Spotlight || Jess

This Little Miggy || Special Needs Spotlight 208 LukasHi! I’m Jess. I’m an author, teacher, wife, non-profit director, special needs advocate and mom of 8. A few years ago we moved from Michigan to rural Tennessee to pursue a simple life which we’ve discovered isn’t all that simple. In my spare time – which, let’s be honest, isn’t much, I enjoy gardening, raising chickens, baking bread and family times around the campfire. You’ll often find me at JessPlusTheMess or on social media writing about faith, grief, food, simplicity, blended families, gardening, special needs, and everything else in between.


Miggy: Hi Jess and welcome. I am so excited to share your story today. I know a lot of people will be touched by what you have to share. As always, lets start at the beginning... when did you first learn that your son Lucas would have special needs? Was it while you were pregnant, shortly after birth or sometime after that? Do you remember how you felt? Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now? 

Jess: I was excited to discover I was pregnant in 2004. The pregnancy was going along smoothly until a routine twenty week ultra sound appointment where I was informed that my child had suffered a stroke in utero, and I should prepare for this child to pass away at some point. I was encouraged to terminate the pregnancy but chose not to allowing my faith to guide me instead. Our baby boy was delivered via c-section on August 12, 2004 and as he was lifted from my belly, he let out a hearty cry for life, and I wept. My husband Jason and I named him Lucas which meant bearer of light. Lucas was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and underwent a shunt surgery at three days old. He was discharged two weeks later. Initially I was always so scared. I had no idea what to expect with raising a special needs child, and I was always trying to anticipate what was next for us and for Lucas. Today, fourteen years later, I’ve learned you can’t always prepare for what’s next and it’s a much more peaceful (and less stressful) way to live life by just enjoying the moments you have in the present.
This Little Miggy || Special Needs Spotlight 208 Lukas
Miggy: Can you teach us about Lucas, about his specific needs and how his needs affect his and your day-to-day life?

Jess: Lucas has profound special needs although he is the healthiest special needs child I’ve ever met! He’s not on any drugs and rarely gets sick. Thankfully we haven’t had any issues with his
health since 2009! Lucas has a shunt which we are aware of but not obsessively aware of at this point. He has very limited mobility, is non-verbal for the most part, and incontinent. Lucas needs assistance with every aspect of his daily life from eating, diapering, bathing, walking and everything else. Lucas is one of eight children so our daily life is quite exhausting. My husband and I make it a priority to get away every couple of months for a few days to recharge and reconnect and sleep.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Memory Keeping Systems for the Lazy Mom

When I married my husband I knew he came with baggage. Literal baggage. Specifically, ELEVEN 3 ring, 3-inch-wide scrapbook binders from his childhood. My mother-in-law was a scrapbooking goddess of sorts and each of her 3 children received a similar 100 lb. dowry of childhood memories preserved for their posterity. I, on the other hand, came with no such childhood memory keepers. If scrapbooks had monetary value, I was a pauper. No scrapbooks, no photo albums, no carefully preserved artwork. (Although I have received saved clothing items over the years--baby dresses and favorite childhood outfits--which, if you know my mom, is very fitting. Clothing is her love language.) 

As a mom I knew I wanted to have something to give my children when they grew up, but at the same time I also knew I was not going to replicate my mother-in-law's scrapbooking greatness. But I believe in memories and history. I've got boxes of letters dating back to middle school and photo albums I started putting together in college. I've got old love letters from people are no longer part of my life, but the story is a part of who I am today.

Today I want to share with you my memory keeping system for the lazy mom. Of course I'm not really lazy and I'm not calling other moms lazy either, but I'm talking about having a system that is as effortless as possible, because if there is effort involved, it simply won't get done.

Of course, as many people have pointed out, it does not get easier that Chatbooks. Agreed! (I should probably jump on that bandwagon soon.) Or the many other easy, breezy ways to create photo books online. BUT what about your kids special school work, or your ticket stubs to that Broadway show, or the subway map of Paris, or that special pair of baby shoes you want to pass down to your grandkids, or your 3 year old's first stick figure, or the Mother's day cards upon Mother's day cards? Those are the memories you can't organize with a one-click subscription.

Saying the word "system" is a little misleading as it's really about getting the right containers and storage pieces for each category you wish to store and having them on hand. Like the old adage says, everything in it's place and a place for everything. It's easy to keep things organized when you put the art in the art box and the school work in the schoolwork folder from the get go. Keep in mind, this isn't a perfect system. I have some overlap (school work in the scrapbooks for example) and I'm sure there are better ways. But this is MY way. This works for me. Maybe it will work for you too.

There are 4 different categories that I use to generally organize both my kids and our family's stuff and I'll go through each category with links to the storage supplies used for each one as well as some tips to make it easier.

First, my general categories are:
Family Scrapbooks
Memory Boxes

Each girl gets one of these acid free storage boxes (these are the same type of boxes I store my art in as well. I have these, but I think I'd use these in the future). And when they create a beautiful masterpiece it goes in the box. When they were younger this was a longer process (as we had more homemade art). They would take their art pile and divide it into keep, throw away, and take a picture piles. Naturally, we put all the keep in the art box and threw out all the throw away stuff. But if there was a piece they couldn't decide on, we would take a picture and then put it in their digital art portfolio. Every once in a while I make the girls look through their boxes (usually when they're adding something new) and make them edit the box a bit--that is, throw away a couple of pieces.