Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Parenting Update || Do You Yell? part 2

This Little Miggy || Parenting Update
Over a year ago, I went onto my Instagram stories to bemoan some parenting stress. In short, I talked about the fact that I was yelling at my kids, not daily, but frequently, and it was a problem. As I opened up on Instagram and asked for books or other solutions I got a huge response. Many people were sending books and advice, but so many others were sharing their own shame in this problem and asking me to  do a round up of the books, articles and advice and to please share! So I did. That post is here.

It's been over a year--I really didn't think it had been that long--and I thought I'd do a little update on what I've read, methods that work and one other major factor that has been beneficial to me in an effort to reduce my yelling as a mother.

I read some books.
Technically I read 1.5 books on parenting, but they were both very helpful. First, I listed to the book Peaceful Parent, Happy Kid and found it extremely helpful. I started to listen to The Whole Brain Child, but since it was through my library I didn't have the chance to finish before I had to return the audio copy. But, both books espoused very similar methods which were all about empathetic parenting. Empathetic parenting has to do with responding with empathy to your children and not trying to control them with punishments or rewards. As a parenting philosophy this resonates with me. I want a great relationship with my child more than I want a child who obeys my every command. Another suggestion that seems to have helped, especially for my youngest, is trying to make them laugh instead. Sometimes their emotions are all pent up and laughter can be as much of a release as anything else, including anger. Obviously you'll need to read the books to learn more and implement these strategies and I'm actually wanting to go back and read them again for a refresher, but I highly recommend both of these books.

I also recently read a fantastic book about parenting teenage girls called Untangled, recommended to me by one of my best friends who works with teen girls. I don't have a teenager yet, but the book does help with your pre-teen age girls as well--middle school is a common topic. This is another book I want to read again and again, but even the first read helped me feel a little more relaxed about certain pre-teen/teen behaviors when understood in the bigger context of our girls transitioning out of childhood. Again, another recommendation from me.

Sensory Awareness
One of my biggest triggers for when I yell at my kids, is when they are yelling. Go figure. Like any siblings they bicker and argue amongst themselves sometimes and I think it's important to let them work their difference out by themselves when necessary. However, sometimes I jump in just because I can't take the bickering anymore. But it's not just yelling, it's the singing, the playing and yes even laughing because while I love hearing my kids laugh and have fun, sometimes constant noise is just too much to handle. By far, the easiest and most effective measure I take against auditory sensory overload is to wear headphones and listen to either music, a podcast or a book and drown the noise out. So simple, but works so well. This works especially well when I'm making dinner.

Medication and Therapy
This, by far, has brought about the biggest change and it's really what this post is mostly about. One day last year--I honestly don't remember if it was before or after the post I wrote about yelling--but I was sitting there feeling angry and dazed from another outburst on my part and in my head I silently said to myself, "Amy, you are not well." It was one of the kindest things I have ever said to myself.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Special Needs Spotlight || Ruby

Hi!!! I'm Liz, a very lucky mama of two amazingly perfect lil' ladies, Ella Mae (9) and Ruby (7). We live in Austin, Texas with their hunky daddy, Tim and our three dogs and two cats. Life is sometimes a bit cray but we wouldn't have it any other way! We found out at Ruby's birth that she was rockin' an extra chromosome and were inspired to help others like her be the best they could be. We started Ruby's Rainbow to help people with Down syndrome go for their dreams of higher education and independence and show the world what we saw in our daughter...a determined and worthy individual who is capable of anything!!!


Miggy: Hi Liz and welcome! I'm so excited to have you here today talking about your amazing Ruby girl and sharing your Down syndrome adventures with us. First take me back to the day you found out Ruby had Down syndrome? Do you remember how you first felt? Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?

Liz: We did not know that Ruby had Down syndrome until her birth. I always joke that she came early, tiny and rockin' an extra chromosome. I was hoping for a natural birth with our midwife like her older sister, Ella Mae, but she had her own agenda. They ended up taking her via emergency c-section at 36 weeks because she stopped growing at 32 weeks in my belly. She weighed 3 lbs, 12 oz at birth and I remember them whisking her away after only one little kiss on her cheek and all I could think about was them "stuffing everything back in, zipping me back up and getting me to my baby!" It seemed like an eternity, but finally they put me in the recovery room. Tim had already seen her a few times and kept coming in telling me how she was doing, but when the doctor came in to tell us that she had several soft signs for Down syndrome at that point I really didn't care, I just wanted to meet my baby. My main concern was "is she going to live?" And I just wanted to hold her and kiss her and love on her and let her know that her mommy was going to be there...always. It's funny because now, being the sassy 7 year old that she is, will sometimes say to me "leave me alone, mommy." And I'm always like "girlfriend, I will never leave you alone" to which she now rolls her eyes...ha!

I think for us the diagnosis did not seem like such a big deal at the time with all the other things going on and we didn't have time to think about the diagnosis. I didn't know ANYTHING about Down syndrome, but my hubby was a Special Ed teacher at the time and really was like "We've got this" so I just took his lead. And there was really only one way for us to move...and that was forward. My whole world changed in an instant but the minute I held her none of that mattered. She was this perfect little human that we had created together, no matter how many chromosomes she had. It took about a week to get the test results back to confirm she had Down syndrome and I remember as we were walking into the NICU to hear the results (she was in the NICU for about 3 weeks) my hubby and I talking about how we would be disappointed to find out she didn't have Down syndrome because at that point it was already a tiny little part of who she was. Of course she did and the rest is history, but If I had to compare my thoughts then to now I would say the main thing that has changed is my fears. My fears for the future, fears for her health, fears for her friendships, fears for the way others may accept and love her. Most of those fears have melted away into a beautiful mixture of hope and excitement. She shows me everyday that she is making her own way, creating her own path and I cannot wait to see where it leads!

Miggy: Of course like most conditions Down syndrome exists on a spectrum. Could you explain how your Ruby’s needs affect her and your day-to-day life?

Liz: Ruby has speech and occupational therapy several times a week, so we have dedicated lots of time to really helping her in these areas in our home life as much as possible. As far as day to day life I would have to say we have really try just treat her just like her older sister, and have the same expectations for friends, family, teachers to do the same. I mean, I think parenting is so freaking hard in general, so I wouldn't say certain things are harder because of Down syndrome, I would just say that might look a little different, but again...just being a parent is hard at times with any kid! I think the things she struggles with that we work harder with her on make those accomplishments all the more sweeter so it kind of balances life out a little and has given us such an amazing gift of perspective.

Miggy: What are the biggest worries you face for Ruby? What are your hopes and dreams for her?

Liz: One of Ruby's biggest delays was speech, which communication has always been one of my biggest fears for her. Friends have always been like family to me, and I wanted so desperately for her to be loved and have true, equal friendships. I never wanted her to just be the "cute kid with Down syndrome" in class (although she is, in fact adorable) but to be able to truly connect and have lasting friendships. Of course I want her to be able to read, write, learn math and all that jazz, but being able to connect with others and communicate her feelings was probably the most important thing to us. We decided very early on as a family that we were going to focus on that and do our best to give her all the right opportunities to develop the social and emotional skills to develop these bonds and friendships. We "threw her into the mix" of life, so to speak, and we still just try to give her lots of experiences where she can blossom and grow her little personality and show us what she wants out of life. She has already squashed most of this fear just simply by being, well...Ruby. She is funny, compassionate, kind and so smart and has many true friendships!! She is so loved by so many because of all these amazing qualities, not because she has Down syndrome.

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.