Friday, March 24, 2017

Special Needs Spotlight || Collin + Kenley

Hi, my name is Rebecca but I've gone by Becky most of my life. My husband Scott and I were both born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, have been married for 7 1/2 years and have 3 kids aged 5, 3, and 16 months. Before having kids I taught middle school in inner city Las Vegas and I try to use what I know about kids and learning in raising our kids, but in the thick of it, that isn't an easy thing to do. I miss working and feeling like I am contributing to society on a bigger scale, but I am so grateful that I am able to stay at home with my kids. In all the busyness of raising 3 kiddos it is really hard to find time to do things that I love (reading, interior decorating, graphic design) but I try in the moments that I'm not falling over tired.


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Miggy: Hi Rebecca and welcome. I'm so grateful to have you here on This Little Miggy today. You have 2 children with 2 very different diagnosis. Let's start with your daughter, can you take me back to the day you knew something wasn't right? Was this during an ultrasound, shortly after birth or sometime later? How long from that first inkling did it take to get a diagnosis and do you remember how you felt? Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?

Rebecca: The first half of my pregnancy was very typical, and I had no concerns going into my 20 week ultrasound. The technician confirmed the gender, and sent me back to a room to wait for my exam with the doctor. My husband came from work for the ultrasound, and since I wasn't told anything by the technician, I told Scott he could head back to work, that he didn't need to stay for the doctor part. The doctor came in and told me that there were some concerns, that her feet were clubbed and she had a choroid plexus cyst in her brain, which together are markers for some serious issues. The fact that I was alone left me in shock. I didn't even cry until I was in the car, calling Scott. I wish the technician had told my husband he might want to stay, as she was standing right there when I told him to leave.

We were sent to a high risk specialist and had the longest week of our lives waiting for the results to come back if our baby's condition was fatal (trisomy 18). That week, I didn't even feel pregnant. I felt empty. Like I didn't want to stay attached. When I got the call that the test had come back negative, I was alone, and I felt her move for the first time in a week, and in my mind I heard her say, "Mommy, I'm still here." It was a sweet confirmation to me that she was ok, even though we knew that things might not be typical. We didn't get her actual diagnosis of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita until 18 weeks later after she was born and in the NICU.

After the diagnosis I had thoughts of would she walk? Would she be able to hold a cup or a pencil? Would people judge her? Look at her funny? Would she be in pain? Do we need to buy a new house that doesn't have steps? Over time, those questions still exist, but I realize now that the answers don't matter so much right now. We just take each day and each question as it comes and cross the bridge when we actually get to it. She has an incredibly strong spirit. She has an infectious smile that lights up any room and she brings so much joy to our lives. That is what matters. Not if we need to have a wheelchair accessible house 5 years from now.

Monday, March 20, 2017

L A T E L Y

Wow-eee. We've had quite the week around our house. The day after we got home from vacation Zuzu got croup. Then Lamp got strep. Then PSP was diagnosed with mild pneumonia. And just for good measure I woke up Sunday morning with a sore through and body aches. Not our best week, but on another level pret.ty im.press.ive right? I mean if the diverse microbiological world could all come together for the soul purpose of reigning havoc and terror down on our family, I sorta have hope that our diverse government body could come together for the greater good of the American family. A stretch? Moving on. I've been working on a Disney Cruise post recap, but in the meantime I thought I'd do a good old fashioned post about what we've been up to lately (besides the plague) and other random thoughts bouncing around my brain.
Facebook fast. I'm finally taking a little break from FB. I had this realization that I was Facebooking/entertaining my life away the other day and man I almost had a panic attack. It has been way too easy to see my time eaten away piece by piece in the name of a "break" for far too long. I haven't been doing as many proacvtive things in my life that I've been wanting to do and while I can't entirely blame Facebook, it has certainly not been contributing to life goals. I still do post some things related to my blog, and I check my notifications--as there are some people who only reach me via FB--but I haven't allowed myself to scroll down, read news stories and related links.

It goes back to the saying, "The enemy of the best, is the good." For a long time I've justified my FB time because I sought out "good things." Like watching positive uplifting videos, informative articles and FB was becoming my primary news source for trending topics and political issues that I desperately want to stay on top of. But the fact is, even if I only seek out the good, positive and informative there is still too much of it to be consumed by one person. It was just too much.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Special Needs Spotlight || Corinne


Corinne Meirowitz is a writer and speaker, living with a rare chronic disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa. Although her disorder has informed much of her life, it does not define her as a person and she loves exploring and observing what drives human behaviors and emotions, with no qualms of sharing her own embarrassing tales for a good laugh. In her free time she loves obsessing over music, fashion and pop culture, and sometimes has a hard time accepting that the people inside the television screen aren't actually real. She also loves to ponder life’s biggest questions like- If every body part has a purpose, why the heck do men have nipples? You can follow her journey at Corinne-Marie and over on Instagram @rin.marie10.

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Miggy: Welcome Corinne! Thank you so much for being here on This Little Miggy today sharing your story with us. You have a very rare skin condition called Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB for short. I have heard that EB is quite painful and can often be fatal. But I also know that almost every condition varies person to person, so will you please  educate us about EB, and specifically how does it affect your day-to-day life?


Corinne: Thanks for having me! Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a rare genetic connective tissue disorder. About 200 people each year are born with this disorder. The subtype I have is Recessive Dystrophic (RDEB). There is a mutation in the gene, Collagen VII. This means that the anchoring fibrils of skin which typically connects our Epidermis (outer layer) to our Dermis are not intact. Since I do not have the protein that holds these layers together any trauma, friction, or sheer force will result in blistering and/or tearing of the skin. This affects anything lined by squamous skin cells; so it affects my outer skin as well as corneas and esophagus. EB also can result in loss of hand function, due to the fingers fusing together over time. Anemia, Gastrointestinal Issues, and Osteoporosis are some of the secondary issues that may also occur.

There is currently no cure or treatment. My daily maintenance is quite painful and lengthy. I live independently, but each morning with the help of a caregiver, clean and bandage all of my wounds which takes about two hours. Bleach or Salt baths are commonly used to try and prevent infection. Twice a week I have physical therapy in order to maintain some mobility in my hands and arms. Throughout the month I’ll also have doctors visits to my Dermatologist, Gastroenterologist, etc. Since I have an esophageal stricture all of my diet has to be specially prepared and pureed. Shoutout to Vitamix which changed my life! I can now eat any food because it is so easily blended. My corneas can also tear while I sleep, so this often makes for some blurry days! As you can imagine the light can be quite painful, so when I was younger I used to have to wear sunglasses indoors on “bad eye” days. I would sometimes be embarrassed, but my mom would just try and tell me I looked like a movie star and sometimes she would even wear her sunglasses in solidarity!


Miggy: Now let's go back to the beginning, while you don't remember your birth can you tell me what you know about your early days and what it was like for your parents when you were first born? How did they first hear about the news and what prognosis were they given?


Corinne: In 1989, my parents had no idea I would be born with EB. When I was delivered, the doctors put the sticky electrodes on my chest to monitor my heart and were very surprised when my skin came off when removing the monitor. I was immediately air lifted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland where I was subsequently diagnosed. My parents were given a choice, since I had so many wounds in my mouth and was unable to feed, they could either place a gastrostomy tube in my stomach that would give me nutrients, or they could let me die. My parents have always said that there was never a choice (phew), and immediately placed the g-tube. I was in the NICU for about a month before I was brought home. I am very fortunate in that my dad is a physician and my mom was, well a saint. Although I can only begin to imagine the feelings of overwhelm and grief they must have felt those first weeks, I was in incredibly capable hands.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Special Needs Spotlight || Karin

Karin Willison is a writer, blogger, and advocate who has cerebral palsy. She works as an editor for The Mighty and has a blog at FreeWheelinTravel.org, where she chronicles her experiences living and traveling with a disability. Karin lives in the Midwest USA with her 4 dogs, including service dogs Aria and Daisy.

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Miggy: Hi Karin and welcome! Thank you so much for participating in today's special needs spotlight. I came across a piece you wrote for The Mighty and just had to track you down! I'd like to start at the beginning. You have Cerebral Palsy--at what age did you first become diagnosed? What age do you first remember becoming aware of your diagnosis and how you were different from other kids and can you tell us about that?


Karin: I was diagnosed at 6 months old, but my mother suspected something was up almost from the beginning, because of the problems during my delivery (emergency C-section, and I wasn't breathing) and my stiffness/lack of movement. She was a teacher for children with learning disabilities, so she was very familiar with human development, and had a pretty good idea of what she was looking at before the official diagnosis.

I can't remember not being aware that I have a disability. My parents explained it to me in an understandable way, and they were always willing to answer questions about it. I have vague memories of going to preschool with other disabled children, and clear memories of my mother saying I would be going to a new preschool where I would be mainstreamed. She made sure I understood that I had the right to be in the same class as children without disabilities.


Miggy: I'm always curious to hear from adults what their family experience was like and how it shaped them as a young kid. Can you tell us what your parents were like and what sort of support you had at home? Is there anything you feel they did particularly well in raising a daughter with CP? Anything you wish they would have done differently?


Karin: My parents were very supportive. If you have watched "Speechless," my mom was a lot like Maia, minus the British accent. She was very tough and always ready to stand up and fight for my rights.

My dad is the quieter, more easy-going type, but he has always been there for me. He built a lot of my adapted furniture, like prone standers and back supports for tricycles. He worked very hard and stayed with the same company his whole career so we would have good insurance to help cover my needs.

My parents were/are wonderful and I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up with them, especially when I see other people with disabilities whose parents wouldn't or couldn't do as much to help them succeed in life. I will always be grateful to them. My mom was my role model, and I still aspire every day to be as tough as she was. However, underneath her tough exterior, she carried around a lot of grief about my disability for many years. She was determined to "fix" me with constant, intensive physical therapy and visits to specialists all over the country. She meant well, but I felt bad for not improving physically as much as she wanted, and because deep in my heart, I didn't want to be fixed. I just wanted to be accepted as I am. So that aspect of my childhood was very difficult.

When I was a teenager, my mom started getting involved with the disability rights movement, and became friends with adults who had disabilities. She began to see that I actually could have a good life as someone with a significant disability, and that society is what needs fixing, not me. Our relationship improved significantly, and we became much closer, but unfortunately she passed away from cancer when I was only 22. I was devastated, and I still miss her every day.

Miggy: I'd love to hear your thoughts about accessibility from the point of view of a travel blogger who is also a power wheelchair user. As a disabled adult, living on your own and road tripping around the globe, what is your day-to-day life like? Is accessibility a struggle. What would you want able-bodied people to understand about accessibility?

Karin: Well, for starters, I don't travel all year round. (I wish!) I try to take at least two big trips per year and a few small ones. I find dramatic variations in accessibility depending on the city or state. For example, California in general is very accessible. Since there's always so much construction and development, most buildings are new or have been renovated since the ADA. They do a good job enforcing the laws as well. I lived there for 20 years and rarely bothered to call to see if a place was accessible before going out. It almost always was. It was nice not having to think about that stuff all the time.

Now I live in the Midwest, and the small city is fairly accessible, since they have a strong disability activist community (thanks, Mom!) But the overall state is a mixed bag. The two surrounding states are better for physical access. The East Coast has the most serious problems, especially New York City. It's my favorite place to visit, but also the least accessible, and it's incredibly frustrating when I can't go to concerts because there are steps to get into the venue.


Miggy: I've written a few posts about the problem with pity when it comes to having a disabled daughter and how her biggest obstacles aren't her physical limitations, but the limitations that come from society and from people who think of her as "a poor thing" or who "feel bad for her." I'm curious if you agree that accessibility and physical limitations are smaller problems than pity and the way the public sometimes views the disabled community? I know that you've mentioned in particular the trouble you have finding full time, employment. In my opinion, pity and the lack of exposure we have in the media to people with disabilities all play a part in creating stumbling blocks for people with disabilities to have the same opportunities as their able bodied counterparts. Sorry, not really a great question but do you agree, disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts in general on all of this!

Karin: I think they are intertwined, so it's impossible to say which problem is worse. Non-disabled people tend have low expectations of us, and don't expect to see us out in the community living and working as they do. Since they don't expect us, they don't prioritize access. Then we can't get in due to lack of access, so they don't see us and it just reinforces their belief.

As far as workplace access, it's mostly about stigma. When I graduated from Stanford, I applied for numerous jobs in the Los Angeles area, and got several interviews. But their interest in hiring me magically disappeared after I showed up to the interviews in my wheelchair. Still, I have gotten a job every time I've looked… It just sometimes takes me longer than others. 




I think the biggest factor is education. If you have a physical disability, you absolutely must go to college. All the good jobs we can do require a college education. The people I see struggling are those who are very bright but don't have the piece of paper to back it up. I wish employers would take skills and lived experience more into account, but for now, the system is what we have to work with. And I feel that college is also essential for social development and helping us find our identities. For me and many other people with disabilities, middle school and high school were a nightmare, but college was the opposite, a time of growth and an opportunity to find friends who truly accept us.

Currently, I have a great job. I'm an editor at The Mighty, with a focus on disability stories. When someone submits a story for publication, I decide whether to accept or decline it, then edit for content and structure (spelling, grammar, etc.), add photos and publish. It sounds simple, but there's actually quite a lot to remember and think about, especially in terms of editing out problematic content, such as inappropriate details written by parents about their children with disabilities. We often have to walk (or roll) very fine lines, and it's not easy. But it's tremendously rewarding. In addition to editing, I manage the disability category Facebook page, and consult on disability issues with other employees/departments such as video and nonprofit partnerships.

I work from home, and I follow a Pacific time schedule even though I live in the Eastern time zone. Although I have and probably could still work in an office, I'm able to be much more consistent by working from home because I don't have to get up as early, and I can take breaks to stretch my muscles or answer important calls about my medical and disability situation. That means I sometimes work late into the night to complete all my hours for the day, but I'm a night owl, so it's OK.


Miggy: Another thing you've written openly about was the time you were attacked in your own home during a home invasion robbery perpetrated by a former care giver and her boyfriend. You were targeted specifically because you are disabled, and by someone who was in a position of trust. The media doesn't spend a lot of time talking about people with disabilities being targets for violent crime and other forms of abuse, but it's very real. Is there anything you wish to say about this experience either on a personal level or in the broader perspective of people with disabilities being targets for crime and abuse?

Karin: First of all, I never thought it could happen to me. I'm also a domestic violence survivor, and I thought that couldn't happen to me either. I was raised in a stable, well-off household with parents who taught me self-respect. I was always careful about who I hired. I suppose I always expected that people would take advantage of me at some point, and I'd dealt with items being stolen and a check forgery incident in the past. But violence? I never would've seen that coming, and especially not from that caregiver. She was a quiet type... but sometimes they're the ones you have to watch out for.

My advice to protect yourself/your family is to take precautions. Install security cameras outside and inside your house and make sure all your employees know they are there. Keep cash and checks locked up. Get a smart lock for your door, which allows it to be opened via an app instead of having to give keys to people. It's easy to remove employees after they leave, and the system records who is going in and out. Try to hire people via personal referral as this makes them more accountable. They are less likely to steal from or hurt someone after a friend recommended them for the job.

For some reason lots of weird one-in-a-million things happen to me. I just wish one of them would be winning the lottery. Of course, it would help if I bought tickets.


Miggy: Now for a lighter question, I’m a big believer in seeing the humor in life and learning to laugh, so have you ever had any funny conversations/moments due to your special needs situations?

Karin: Oh wow, I have so many. Most of them involve my wheelchair getting stuck in some way. Recently I went to a local cupcake bakery for one of those emergency PMS days and my wheelchair got tangled in their carpet runner. We had to transfer me out of my chair and a few people had to lift it off the ground to free it from the rug!

I was also rescued by the Queen's guard during a Renaissance fair. I got stuck in the mud and literally had chivalrous knights and noblemen coming to my aid. I got some video and it was pretty funny!


Miggy: I'm wondering if you could speak to the special-needs-parent vs. person-with-a-disability gap a little bit. For example, are there some common issues that adults with disabilities see in the special-needs-parent perspective? In my view, there will always be a gap there because most of us don't know what it's like to be disabled and that's OK! We're all learning and like you're mom we love our kids and we're doing what we know best. But as Oprah says, "When you know better, you do better." Is there a piece of advice or something else you want us special needs parents to do so we too can "know better?"

Karin: OK to start off with… and I hate to have to mention this one given the title of your blog/this series, but a lot of us really don't care for the term special needs. I personally feel like it's a euphemism for disability and really not necessary. It also contributes to the word "special" being used in mocking terms rather than positively as it should be. "Oh those are the 'special' kids over there.." Disability is not a four-letter word… Just say it.

However, I also recognize that special needs is a very commonly used term and not easily removed from our lexicon. People (including you, I'm guessing) have strong identities as "special needs parents" and I have to admit "parent of a child with a disability" doesn't flow as well. It also may not speak as much to parents whose child does have a disability as defined under the ADA but may not be perceived as disabled, for example a child with a life-threatening food allergy. Special needs is more of an umbrella term… but everything under that umbrella actually is a disability. I won't say I never use the term, but I have been actively trying to replace it in my language whenever possible, and when I edit articles as well.

With all that said, I don't think terminology is the biggest issue. The most problematic thing I see parents doing is posting inappropriate amounts of detail about their children in blogs and other public forums. Talking in detail about potty training problems, behavioral issues, meltdowns... to me it is a violation of children's privacy. Many of these kids are going to grow up and their friends and colleagues could Google them and find this information. If their Mom wrote in detail about how they were wetting the bed at age 10, that's going to harm them professionally, socially, and emotionally. It makes that embarrassing baby photo your parents showed your first boyfriend seem mild in comparison!

Even if a child has significant cognitive disabilities and may not be able to read a website in the future, they still have the right to privacy and dignity. It's often possible to discuss sensitive issues without going into embarrassing detail, but when it's not, those conversations are best taken to email or other more private forums where parents can post under a pseudonym. I understand that parents need support and can help each other by discussing these topics, it just needs to be done in a way that protects their kids' privacy.

The third and final piece of advice I would give to parents is not to say "My child will never..." You don't know that. Kids with physical and developmental disabilities are growing up to achieve so much more than they did in the past. Please keep your expectations high for your child, yourself, and everyone in your family's lives. If anyone says your child will never do something, or you should give up on them, that person does not belong in your life.

Miggy: Living with a visible disability has unique challenges, in an ideal world how would you like people to approach and/or respond to you? Is there something you wish other people knew so as to avoid awkward or hurtful situations?

Karin: I just want people to treat me with the same respect they would give anyone else. I want to be seen as a hard-working, capable, professional woman. I truly believe that would resolve 90% of the problems I deal with as a person with a disability.


Miggy: As someone who has been a disabled and a wheelchair user all your life you probably have a unique point of view on life and see things from an angle many others don't see… Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your life or disability in general? If you could give any advice to a mother whose child will have CP and be in a wheelchair what would it be?

Karin: I have a good life, and I value it as much as anyone without a disability values theirs. I've written a whole article on how parents can support a child with cerebral palsy, but it all comes down to one thing: have hope. Your child has abilities and can live a great life just like everyone else. Treatments and therapies have their place, but if you focus too much on "fixing" your child, it may just make them feel worse about themselves. The best physical therapy is getting them involved with the same activities as other kids, like sports, horseback riding, and dance.

Help them choose the right mobility options for maximum independence. Many parents focus on walking because they don't want their child to use a wheelchair; they have absorbed society's message that walking is always better. But a child who walks slowly and/or falls a lot can end up missing out on life opportunities. Of course it's good for kids to walk when they can, but I believe it's best if they also have a wheelchair, preferably a powered one, for long distances so they can keep up with their peers.

Don't let your child be segregated in a "special" school or classroom. Support your child's intellectual development so they can go on to higher education and a good job. Do not just rely on school to educate them -- get them reading for pleasure, sign them up for science camp, or art classes, or whatever their talents may be.

Encourage them to express themselves through writing -- it's much easier today with all the various software and technology out there. I believe we help the world understand us better, and learn more about ourselves, by sharing our stories. And if you ever need someone to talk to, if you ever need advice, please feel free to contact me. It sometimes takes me a while to answer emails, but I'm always happy to help if I can.
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Karin--thank you so much. This was fantastic. I am continually grateful for the disabled adults who share their life experiences with me and my readers on TLM. You have a perspective that I will most likely never have, and therefore one that is invaluable to me raising a child with a disability, who will one day be an adult with a disability. There was such valuable information in every single answer that I've read and re-read your interview a few times now. The things that really stand out to me: your mom. What a rock star. I'm so glad you had someone like her (I loved the Maia comparison by the way!) in your life. However, I'm also glad that you talked about the years she spent trying to "fix" you. I think this is a very natural mindset for most people and I definitely went through shades of that as well. (You mentioned walking...yep that was definitely a thing for me at one time, but I got over it.

And yes, I totally understand about the term "special needs" as well. But like you said it's the best umbrella term I know of and the best one fitting for this series. But what you said is absolutely true about people being afraid to use the word disabled--it's not a 4 letter word and it's important to let people know that. I really do use them interchangeably. Additionally, I love your advice to parents on raising a child with disabilities--yes to powerchairs (high-fives!), no to segregated schools, and yes to getting them involved in regular, kid activities. Thanks again Karin for sharing the good, the bad and the in between. Best of luck to you!

As always if you or someone you know would like to participate in the Special Needs Spotlight please email me at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com. 

Have a great weekend!
XO, 
Miggy

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Granting Permission: Flowers

I wrote a post last week about permission. Specifically about granting permission, to ourselves and those around us, to do things we want to do, but that might be a break from our usual script. You know, the script everyone around you is comfortable with--including yourself. The script that says, who are you to suddenly dress differently? Who are you to start pursuing a creative endeavor? Who are you to pursue a huge fitness goal? I think a lot of us have these things we'd like to do in our lives--sometimes big, sometimes small--but because we've never done them before there is some part of us that says we're not allowed.

Thus, permission.

In my last post on permission I talked about the gift of granting permission. to others Today, I want to talk about granting permission to ourselves. I want to share one small way that I granted myself permission to make a small change in my life. It was this one small thing but I worried about what doing this might say about me, or how others might suddenly perceive me.

What was this small thing I wanted to do that was causing me anxiety? I wanted to have fresh flowers in my house.

Was that anti-climatic? Prolly.

Flowers? That's it? That was my big thing?

If this sounds silly--and it might--this is really a very real internal struggle for me. Without getting into the personal history of all of this, I really struggle with the fact that I love art + design + beautiful things and I want to create a beautiful home, but at the same time I have a deep discomfort with feeling like these desires might make me appear shallow and superficial.

In my mind, I worried that fresh flowers in my house would mean I was trying to be fancy. I don't want to be fancy. I want to live a beautiful life. I want to surround myself and my family with meaningful beauty, including art, literature, good design, kindness, music and yes, even fresh flowers. As an artist, I believe in the power of beauty to elevate, uplift and inspire. But there is another side of me that says it's for show, it's superficial and can you really care so much about what your home looks like and still be someone who cares deeply about the struggles of the world?

The answer I came to is yes. Of course you can care about both.

I have started to accept that trying hard not to appear superficial or worrying about who I might become if I fully embrace my love for beauty, is not helping me, it's holding me back. I'm not being more authentic and vulnerable, I'm being less authentic and vulnerable. I have talents in this area that I have been stifling because of fear and it's time to stop let it dominating my life. So flowers. It's a small step, but it's a step.

For a long time I would read blogs about having fresh flowers around the home and how much they brightened up the space and really brought a new sense of life to your home. In addition to all the reasons listed above, I was too intimidated to have fresh flowers around my house because I didn't know where to start--where should I be buying fresh flowers and how should I arrange them once I have them? Eventually, I took a one-day flower arranging workshop and I've been happily buying and arranging flowers around my home ever since.

Today I thought I'd pass on my permission to you and break it down into a few easy steps so you can also be one of those fresh flower homes that feels a little more alive and beautiful. And if you feel like you need permission, please let this post be your permission. And if not flowers, then something else. This is my gift to you.

Lets arrange some flowers shall we?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

10 Years and a Harry Potter Birthday

This Little Miggy || Harry Potter Birthday
When this girl was in 2nd grade they had a day where the teachers assigned them a fictional character name for the day. Well her teacher was obsessed (obvi) with Harry Potter and therefore she gave all her students a Harry Potter character to embody for the day.

This excellent daughter of mine was chosen to be Hermoine.

You guys, this very well may stand as the highest honor of her young life. As her teacher later said to me, Of course she choose her to be Hermoine... she is Hermoine. She really is, and we are so lucky.

Back then we were early in our Harry Potter reading (book 1 or book 2) but the HP bug had bitten and this girl has been obsessed ever since. One of the best parenting decisions I ever made was to save these books to read with just her and it's been a treat. We are currently finishing book 7, and going at a snails pace because I think neither of us wants it to end.

Naturally, her 10th birthday (we only do friend parties every other year) had to be a Harry Potter birthday party. She also got to have a combined party with two of her best friends--twins who are only a few days older--and the result was fantastic birthday had by all.

I thought I'd share a few party details because, well I always love seeing these kind of things.

First, I really do love having birthday parties at home. I love the old-fashioned, homemade goodness and creativity that comes from games and craft tables. However, I also appreciate the ease of having a birthday party at some sort of party emporium where kids can bounce off the walls and get a little crazy while someone else cleans up the mess yaknowwhatI'msaying? This time we opted for the latter and it was great!
This Little Miggy || Harry Potter Birthday
13+ girls jumped and bounced and rolled and slid and climbed and had a great time! 2 different rooms for a little over an hour and by the end the kids are plum tuckered out.

This Little Miggy || Harry Potter Birthday
And while you can't quite go all out on decor (since the surrounding room colors tend to clash a bit) I always try to make that one table look really good. The twins' mom and I joined forces and this is what we came up with.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Special Needs Spotlight || Koko

Holly and Joe are parents to Kokoro, who is a cheeky, happy, musical 18-month-old with a great sense of humour. Kokoro, or Koko, has CHARGE syndrome, which is one of those unexplained spontaneous genetic mutations that occur at conception and result in a range of health issues. For Koko, this means hearing and vision impairment, heart defects and a range of other issues including low muscle tone and missing semi-circular canals which greatly impact her balance. (For more info on CHARGE check out the CHARGE Association http://www.chargesyndrome.org.au/)
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Miggy: Welcome Holly! I'm so happy to be featuring you and your sweet family today, especially your little Koko. (That name! I love it.) First, can you take me back to the day you knew your daughter would have special needs? Was it during pregnancy, shortly after birth or sometime later? Do you remember how you felt? Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?


Holly: The first time that there was any mention of there being possible issues with Koko's health was during our 20 week scan. During the 13 week scan, I had been labeled as "low risk" and I now look back on the way I approached the 20 weeks scan as incredibly naive. We were expecting some cute pictures and to hear our baby's heart beat.

Instead, we were told that there were some "structural issues" with our baby’s heart and brain by the technician and then had to wait 8 hours until the supervising doctor was available to give us more information. When he did he basically presented the information as if there was no alternative but termination and my rather hysterical reaction thankfully encouraged him to hand us over to a team of incredible midwives and doctors who specialize in "at risk" pregnancies. However, as it was Friday afternoon no one was around, so we were sent home for a rather agonizing weekend.

Once we begun further investigations and research it became clear that things were not so black and white, and over the pregnancy, it began to appear that our baby's brain was in fact a variant of normal. However, she did in fact have heart issues. Additionally, we were told that as there were a couple of issues detected, there was an increased possibility that she could have a genetic issue.

As we aren't religious, we didn't have a go-to stance on how we would react in this situation and really hadn't considered it as a possibility. But over time and lots of chats, both my husband Joe and I felt that this baby was supposed to be born and that between us and our support network, we would be able to provide a loving and happy home for her. Her diagnosis of CHARGE unfolded in the weeks after her birth, and initially felt so devastating I wondered at times if I had subjected her to a life of suffering for my own selfish reasons. These days, most days, it is pretty clear that she is a happy kid who enjoys her life.