Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

A Rainbow of Acceptance: A Newby Mom’s Guide to Autism Acceptance Month

PicsArt_1459380615307This April is my first Autism Acceptance Month with a diagnosed ASD kiddo. Through several awesome Facebook support groups I have learned so much about the rich and beautiful spectrum of autism. I’ve grown as a mom and gained insight into my own childhood.

Something that stood out to me though was the somewhat confusing number of campaigns and colors for Autism Awareness/Acceptance. So this is the basic guide I’ve made through my research. I’m having trouble linking to various things, so please look these up and do research for yourself. Knowledge is power.

The Puzzle Piece- This is one of the first symbols for Autism. It dates back to 1963 and was chosen because of the “puzzling” nature of autism. It originally had an image of a crying child in it to show the sorrow autism caused. It has been updated to colorful primary hues. Some support this symbol as a way of showing that autistic people deserve to “fit” in society and that we are all part of the greater picture. Others avoid it because of the past connotations that autistic people are like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit or that they are somehow missing pieces needed to be a whole person.

Light it up Blue- This campaign is sponsored by Autism Speaks and is often represented by a blue puzzle piece. This one tends to lean more towards awareness than true acceptance. They are criticized by many autistic people because of their views on the causes of autism and that it should be cured.

Red Instead/Walk in Red- In response to the backlash against Autism Speaks and Light It Up Blue, this movement was founded. It encourages people to seek autism acceptance and education and to chose red instead of blue.

Tone It Down Taupe- This is similar to Red Instead. It was founded by autistic women in hopes of giving an alternative to Autism Speaks and the blue puzzle piece. They encourage people to tone it down and focus on education and acceptance.

Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue (Gold)- This is another alternative campaign. Au is the periodic symbol for gold. So this plays on the “Au” in Autism.

Rainbow Infinity Symbol/Color the World- The rainbow symbolizes the vast spectrum of autism. And the infinity sign symbolizes the greater Neurodiversity Movement. (This is my personal favorite because I adore the concept of neurodiversity.)

I hope this helps you navigate this month and what it means. No matter how you choose to color your world, please use this month to educate yourself and others on the beauty of the spectrum. Please research any charity or organization you want to support. Ask yourself if they are really bettering the world for autistic peoples? Are they seeking awareness of an “illness” or acceptance of those with a neurodivergent brain?

Again, I am new on my knowledge journey and this is just a basic overview of my research. If you have anything to add or useful links, please feel free to comment with them!

With Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

3 Comments »

It’s a pen.

Well friends,

We continue along on our journey for an official diagnosis for K. It is going well and we have an awesome developmental pediatrician. So far we are definitely looking at High Functioning Autism and possible ADHD.

On Wednesday we did academic and IQ testing. We weren’t at all surprised to learn he is one smart kiddo. His reading skills are especially developed.

During the IQ testing there was a section of verbal riddles.

“They have buttons. You hold it in your hand. You use it to solve math problems.”

“Pen!”

“Good try, but not what I was looking for.”

He grabs the pen he’d just used to do a math assessment off the table.

“Look! It has clicky buttons. I hold it. I do math with it.”

“That is clever, but not what I was looking for.”

“Oh. A calculator then. But pen is still right.”

I love the way his mind works.

Things I’ve learned so far:

*Sometimes advocating for your child means being mean or pushy with the school. (His teacher is awesome, but the admins were dragging on some things. We are finally getting a 504 in place to officially allow him some of the modifications his teacher already does. And after his IQ testing, his teacher pushed for him to get to do some advanced math with the GT teacher once a week.)

*Some of his most endearing personality traits are also part of his autism. I adore his speech patterns and his creativity. I love the way his mind works.

*Helping him will be a balance of teaching him “normal” social skills and teaching those around him that “normal” is often overrated.

*Sometimes people get so caught up in not labeling kids, but we are all labeled to an extent. I’d rather him be labeled Autistic (a medical condition) than just be labeled a problem kid because he has a hard time staying focused.

*The more I learn about it, the more I see things in my own personality and childhood. I don’t know that I’m necessarily autistic as well, but K did get some of his personality from me.

*ADHD surprised me because I’ve never considered him hyper. But it does make sense with trouble focusing on tasks. But I love that the doctor said no medication for now. ADHD does not have to mean automatically being medicated. It may be needed down the road, but for now we are redirecting and eliminating sensory overload.

*The extra attention for K means a very needy E. This week has her wanting to be in my lap all the time. So I’m trying to balance time between each of them.

That’s all I’ve got for now!

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

Screen-Shot-2015-01-31-at-8.51.29-PM

Leave a comment »

My Child Is Not Broken: surviving the testing process for Asperger’s

We announced to family and friends today that our oldest is starting testing for Asperger’s Syndrome (also called High Functioning Autism).

Our K has always had a quirky, beautiful personality. As a toddler he sounded like a tiny professor. He had an advanced vocabulary and an obsession for machines and astronomy. We also noticed that he was very sensitive. He had an extreme hatred for the vacuum and for group singing (the birthday song especially). I would have to set up pretend scenarios to get his cooperation with basic tasks.

“Ok Mighty Machine Boy, I need you to go move five toy cars the toy box garage.”

As he has gotten into school we noticed that his verbal and reading skills were much higher than his motor skills. Writing was hard. He isn’t as coordinated in PE.

We’ve worked extensively with his teacher this year to find what works well for him. She is amazing. She knows how to earn his cooperation. She knows that schedule changes and fire drills are difficult for him. This process and this school year have been immeasurably better because of her.

So here we are now. After a therapy evaluation and visits with his pediatrician we have come to realize many of these things are markers for Asperger’s.

This month we will have three appointments to do various testing and he will have a genetic screening. We should have a diagnosis by March. We are very fortunate to have found a developmental pediatrician that can see us so quickly. Many people wait months and months to get in to one.

Things you need to know about this process:

  1. My child is not broken and diagnosis will not “fix” him. Getting the diagnosis will help us be the best parents we can be for him. It will also allow the school to grant certain modifications to help him reach his maximum learning potential.
  2. Please do not feel sorry for us or offer condolences. Again, he is NOT broken. This diagnosis does not change who he is. My child is still beautiful and amazing. His brain is just wired a little differently. A diagnosis of Autism is not something to mourn.
  3. Please continue to laugh with us and appreciate the beautiful soul he is. Pray for him to continue to feel loved and to hold up well during the testing process. He may want to tell you about it. He might not. Just love him.
  4. Please let us parent. We are doing the best we can and it can be hard to balance disciple with not overwhelming him. We are working with his pediatrician, developmental pediatrician, and therapist. What worked for you as a parent may, and probably will, be very different for us. We know our child and how to approach him.
  5. We love and appreciate our family and friends, but will be very busy in the coming month. Getting a diagnosis is a process and we are exhausted. If we forget to call you back, please know that it isn’t a purposeful slight.

IMAG2754

This is a shirt we recently got him while explaining all of this. It represents our current journey with him. Neurodiversity means that some special souls have brains that are wired a bit differently from the rest of us. Our differences help keep the world beautiful.

Love Always,

Cori “Mama” Miller

Leave a comment »

When Fun Mom Gets Broken

“I’m going to do something special for my kids today. It will be great. I’m totally a fun mom.”

Famous last words…

I decided to do something fun with my kids this afternoon. My oldest got out early for his last day of school before winter break. I’m not sure what malfunctioned in my brain to make me think it was a good idea to kick off two busy weeks of togetherness with a trip to the Golden Arches.

Whatever virus infected my brain must have been in the water today. I swear half the local populous also decided to visit the land of fries and McJunk. It was a madhouse.

I got the kids inside and seated while I tried to order our lunch. F would not stay at the table. He was fixated on the Christmas tree in the middle of the place. K and E kept trying to sneak away to a table with a computer touchscreen game (that was already inhabited by people).

Oh, and there was a older lady in a motorized scooter that wouldn’t leave us alone. We’ll call her Grammy Creeper.

So, I feel for Grammy Creeper. I really do. She seemed lonely. I don’t mind chatting with people or letting them talk to my kids. However, she earned her new moniker with her desire to mother my kiddos.

I was trying to dole out questionable chicken and French fries and Grammy rolls on over to our table. She started telling me how to set up their food. F wanted down and she grabbed his toy, knocking a container of ranch dressing on the floor in the process, and told him he couldn’t have his toy if he didn’t eat.

I was floored… She took my two year old’s toy. My two year old who just woke up was not pleased with this. She also told E that she would use her mean grandma voice and then went on about her 11 grandbabies.

At that point I was conflicted between my desire to be kind and my desire to ask her to go away. She just kept coming by our table. It was so awkward.

So now we are eating quickly and trying to get out of there. We are almost out the door and E had to potty. While she is pottying, K finds an open computer. F goes to the Christmas tree again.

I finally got all three kids back to the car.

“I am still hungry. I want an ice cream.”

-_-

I’m sure a scene like this has played out for every mom everywhere. Those days that your “fun days” are anything but fun. Days when crafts end up looking like poo or everyone turns into a whiny mess.

I remember my grandpa telling us, “We’re going to have fun dammit!”

Just know sweet mamas, some days our inner fun mom gets broken. You can’t help tantrums or crowds or people with boundary issues. Some days you cut bait and quit while your ahead.

I had planned to go to Target after our lunch. Nope. We came home and decided watch movies. Now this is fun.

-Cori “Mama” Miller

Leave a comment »

Kindness Challenge

more-blessed-to-give-than-to-receive.jpg

As a Christian I am called to show kindness to others. We are told to bless others and take care of the orphans and widows.

I am infinitely fortunate to be married to one of the most giving and kind men I know. He has a heart for the homeless. I love that he is teaching our children to give when they can and to pray for others.

Now I am officially challenging you to go out and spread some kindness. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Atheist, or anything in between: go out and do something. Our world can use a little more kindness.

  • Leave baggies of change on vending machines (especially in hospitals)
  • Pay for the person behind you when you get coffee or fast food
  • Keep large ziplocks of toiletries and food to hand to the homeless
  • Make cards to send our troops
  • Collect school supplies for local teachers
  • Leave baggies of change on machines at the laundromat
  • Have a pizza delivered to a friend having a rough day
  • Purchase a gift card and hand it to someone in the grocery store
  • Give a big tip to your waiter/waitress
  • Donate toys or do an angel tree
  • Take socks and toiletries to a shelter

And some ideas that don’t cost anything:

  • Offer to watch a parent’s kids so they can go shopping or wrap presents
  • Volunteer time at an animal shelter
  • Offer to walk an elderly neighbor’s dog
  • Spend some time at a nursing home
  • Offer to read to kids at the library
  • Donate (gently used, good condition) clothing to a shelter
  • Be a nice person

Go out there and do something! Don’t take pictures and toot your own horn. Just spread some kindness. Find little ways every day to bless those around you.

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

Leave a comment »

Let It Go

We took the kids to the mall today for some holiday shopping. ThinkGeek opened a store. It is completely magical.

ThinkGeek.jpg

Magical

After dividing and conquering our shopping, we all met back up by the Penny’s elevator. E had finally grown tired of annoying K and decided to play matchmaker. She really really wanted Poppy to kiss Nana. Nana and Poppy love each other, but didn’t really want to give into the demands of a wild 4 year old in the middle of Penny’s.

 

“Poppy! Give Nana a flower! Kiss her Poppy!”

There was a man waiting with us. He witnessed all of this. E’s pleas continued until the elevator opened. We all file in and Poppy told E, “Let it go!”

And then K bursts into song. Yes, that song. Loudly. On the elevator. So so loud.

I’d feel bad about the man who actually thought getting into an elevator with my three kids was a good idea, but he seemed to get a good laugh out of it.

– Cori “Mama” Miller

 

Leave a comment »

A New Life

It has been far too long.

Since I last wrote life has gone on, but also changed. Somewhere along the way I let depression take my voice. Every time I started to write, a whisper in my mind would say, “Why bother?”

But life doesn’t stop when you are battling depression. Postpartum depression and PMDD don’t make your babies stop growing any faster. They don’t slow down the steady cadence of time.

So here we are almost two years later. I’m still fighting to regain myself. Some days are better than others. Overall I am happy. I still have the best husband ever and three beautiful kiddos.

Our New Normal

So an update on life…

I’m now 30. I kind of thought I’d feel more adult-y at this point. Growing up is a much slower process than I’d ever imagined… Until I hang around teenagers. Then I feel all sorts of adult.

We have lived in “the old house” for two years now. We still have our rescue dog, Miri. I’m a stay at home mom.

K is now 6 and in the first grade. He is completely obsessed with Minecraft and Star Wars. He is still the funniest kid ever. He has an amazing teacher who really does well with his quirkiness.

E is 4 and still our fearless, sometimes vexingly so, child. She plays guitar and loves to sing. (In this case “plays guitar” means she stands on a chair while furiously strumming her little pink guitar and singing made up songs.)

Baby F is now a hybrid toddler/zombie/dinosaur. He enjoys roaring at people and trying to eat their brains. He has remained significantly more petite than his giant siblings. He is my little buddy.

IMG_20151115_114704

Life with three kids is still an entirely new beast from having 1 or 2. I will never “just run into the store” ever again. A trip now involves one of those behemoth carts that has the turning radius of an AT-AT. It also involves threats on screen time and frequently repeating “don’t touch that” and “come back here”.

In fact I recently said the most mom thing I’ve ever uttered on a trip to the store. I looked up to find E chasing K down the aisle. I finally got them back to the cart. K told me E had started chasing him.

I actually heard the phrase, “I don’t care who started it. I’m finishing it.” Then I realized that it has come from me. I said that.

I’m pretty sure my mom must have felt a disturbance in the force and shed a single proud tear.

So that is where I am for now. I’m momming it up and doing the best I can with my own little circus.

-Cori “Mama” Miller

If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, please don’t stay silent or let them go it alone. Talking to others and reaching out for help is so so important. 

Leave a comment »

Happy Holidays!

A few fun nuggets from the past week…

E tripped (shocking right?) and got a big knot on her head. K overheard me telling Nana that she had a “goose egg”. When he woke up the next morning he told her to show Daddy her “goose brains”.

E has developed a massive love of rubbing Baby F’s head. She also wants to make him dance with her. He just gives her wide eyed stares of startled wonder.

K’s conversation with one of Nana’s coworkers today:
“Are you a good big brother?”

“Well, I don’t change diapers. Mommy and Daddy have to change those.”

“I bet you are still a good big brother. Do you show them the ropes?”

“Um, actually I don’t know how to jump rope very good yet.”

Anyway friends: Merry Christmas!

Image

2 Comments »

Along the Milky Way: My Breastfeeding Journey

image

K, my oldest, is now a precocious, talkative four year old. He is also huge and tops out the growth chart in height.

But, his beginning was much rockier.

After a 20+ hour failed induction, he was taken by emergency c-section. During the surgery the doctor discovered a large cystic tumor on one of my ovaries. By the time I was wheeled into recovery I was emotionally and physically battered, and less one ovary.

Our first few weeks were very rough. He was jaundice. My milk wasn’t coming in. We had to see an orthopedist because he had a tendon problem in his feet. He wasn’t gaining weight and my pediatrician was awful about it. It was brutal.

Despite herbal supplements, nursing around the clock, and pumping; I completely dried up at five weeks. It was devastating. I had desperately wanted to see his little cheeks grow chubby with MY milk, but losing the ovary had wreaked havoc on my system and thrown my hormones off.

When my daughter, E, came along two years later I knew this time would be different. I still had to have a c-section because of my condition, but hopefully would avoid extra surgery.

My hopes were realized and I was able to nurse in the recovery room. She too lost more weight than desired, but was getting more milk. I had a more supportive pediatrician and I was able to mostly breastfeed with less supplementing than before. I nursed her until my gallbladder started to fail at 5 months postpartum.

I dried up during my recovery from surgery.

Then the postpartum depression and anxiety hit. It was awful. I had worked so hard.

Now I sit rocking my third child, another boy, while typing. My four year old is building a block fort with his two year old sister. I am at peace.

At four weeks old my little man is back up to birth weight and has a full tummy of MY milk.

I fought hard for this moment of peaceful bliss.

During these first weeks I have taken enough Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea to permanently smell like an IHOP. I’ve endured cracked nipples, marathon nursing sessions, and pumping. I’ve nursed with my two year old perched on my legs and patting the baby on the head. I’ve nursed while my four year old talks incessantly about Star Wars. I used a supplemental nursing system to add a little pumped milk and formula to his feedings.

Over the past two weeks something wonderful began to happen- he started rejecting the supplemental nurser because he was full. He was full!

I’ve also shed a lot of modesty on this road. I’ve nursed in restaurants, in the mall, in the car, and even in the Library’s break room. I no longer hide under a huge hot tent cover.

The picture above shows my typical nursing in public position. I use a muslin swaddle blanket and cover the goods, but leave his little head, eyes, and nose peeking out. I’m still fairly modest, but I will not nurse in fear anymore. And I certainly won’t look down on those who nurse without any cover.

I get it now.

I understand the rally cries of ‘breast is best’. Without that motivation, many of us wouldn’t survive the first few grueling weeks.

It can be ridiculously hard. Some babies won’t latch when covered. Sometimes you just feel accomplished to have a shirt and bra on.

For those on that journey: Good job mama. You are a warrior. You are amazing and strong.

I also want to encourage the bottle moms.

I, more than anyone, understand the guilt associated with formula. I’ve sat feeding my baby and looked over in envy of the breastfeeding mom cuddled up with her nursling. I’ve experienced the heartbreak of knowing that I’m not enough to sustain my baby.

Guess what mama… You are doing a good job too.

Your babies will grow and thrive- mine did.

K is a strong, smart four year old. Formula didn’t warp his brain. He doesn’t have an extra limb from his time of powdered sustenance.

E is adventurous and sweet and brave despite her time as a nursling being cut short.

All you sweet, sleep deprived mamas:

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You will eventually sleep again.

You are doing a good job.

You are enough- no matter how you feed your baby.

With love,

Mama Miller

5 Comments »

Brief update…

I went in to my OB today still not feeling any better. He checked me over and determined that I have a fairly bad middle ear infection causing the headaches and dizziness. I was put on a different antibiotic and ordered to rest. I’m not supposed to drive until this is under control…

Well, my car died this weekend. So not an issue… You know it is bad when the mechanic suggests trading it in instead of trying to replace the engine. I’m a little sad. That was my college car. It has my college decal and sorority letters on it. We brought K home in that car. Memories.

I’ve been very blessed by my mom and grandma who have graciously let the kids and I stay with them while Andy is working. No one wants the dizzy pregnant lady stranded in the country with two kids. The dizzy pregnant lady is grateful. I don’t know that I could waddle fast enough to catch them right now and we live almost 30 minutes from our family and the hospital.

So, car shopping is in our future. I’m supposed to be resting as much as possible to try to kick this infection and some water retention. Post Cards are on a temporary hold while I recover.

Baby F should be here in just over a month!

image

E helping my grandma cook. (And trying to steal cheese.)

image

The kids and I stayed at my mom's last night. K is a noisy, wiggly roommate.

5 Comments »

TheBamBlog

Real. Life. Storytelling.

Nontoxic Megan

Living a healthy life (the best way I can)

scottishmomus

What I See

Stuff Kids Write

Like stuff adults write. But funnier.

Louis and Mel

Let's have some pun.

mummy flying solo

...murmurs from the depths of my world

My Personal Accent

DIY Eclectic Guide to Life

Baking in a Tornado

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Dates 2 Diapers

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

The Three Bears

Life as I know it...

Thirty-Four Million Moments

Everything from motherhood to love...and anything else that comes to mind.

Making Memories in The Chaos.

A family and lifestyle blog by a SAHM in Northern Ireland.

Máthair Fiona

Be thankful. Give thanks. Live thankfully.

The Tabletop Vector

A convergence of tabletop gaming, music, and geek culture.

Chronicles of the Deranged

Passionate parenting and homemaking.