The Joy of the Lord

I can only describe this time as bittersweet. Today marks 77 days since my last day at work and my heart aches for my little one I take care of. I miss everything about being a pediatric care tech and am counting the seconds until I can return to work.

I miss normalcy. I miss teaching preschoolers on Sunday mornings. I miss meeting with the students on Sunday nights. I miss going out for coffee with my friends. I miss going out with my man after a long work week and just staring into each other’s eyes over a candlelit dinner (yeah yeah…we can still do this, but our dog isn’t the best waiter). I miss the mundane and I miss the crazy. There are so many things I took for granted that I completely ache for now.

But I am so ridiculously blessed. I haven’t personally lost anyone in this pandemic, but I know so many who have. Financially, I am struggling in this time of being laid off, but God has abundantly provided every time I have needed. Mentally, I am hanging in there, I’m blessed with a “team” of support when it comes to my mental health so my heart goes out to those who are feeling the depths of depression during this time. I pray that they are being supported and loved during this trying time.

Joy has been found in the Lord across the world in this pandemic. My students are flourishing in their own personal walks with God. They are encouraging one another, they are taking to social media to hold virtual Bible studies, and they are sending cards and flowers to those who need it. They are thriving and they are creative in their own personal study of the Word. I am so proud of each and every one of them for how amazingly they are handling their senior year of high school. I have seen my preschool parents post the fun things their kiddos are doing, from climbing trees, to making posters to hang out of their cars for a drive-by birthday party, to making their parents breakfast in bed. My friends and I are doing check-ins with each other…just to let each other know we are here and we are praying for one another. So many virtual hugs and “coffee vibes” have been sent out. Relationships are being built stronger than ever before. I am seeing God in all of this. I am seeing Him work in ways I haven’t seen before and that is so encouraging.

The church is not a building. The church is people continuing the ministry of Christ. The church is people reaching out those who need a conversation. The church is meals being delivered. The church is drive-by conversations held 6 feet apart with masks on. The church is responding to this time in such a beautiful way that only God could orchestrate. And I’m blown away.

So continue to spread the joy of the Lord during this time, it is so very needed.

PSA

Honestly….either people are completely overreacting or not reacting to this pandemic as seriously as they should be. There is very little in between.

Stop stealing, buying, and hoarding N95 masks. Hospital workers desperately need them. PPE supplies are dangerously low and are needed now more than ever.

I am currently laid off, I work as a peds care tech for one little patient and they are quarantined from the outside world. During this down time I am going to try to get my sewing machine up and running so I can make masks for all of my nurse and tech friends who need them. Is this the best option? No, but it’s better than the scarves a lot of my nurse friends are having to use as makeshift masks.

If you have unopened boxes of masks that you felt the need to hoard…do everyone a favor and donate them to your local hospital.

Dear Friends…

Don’t apologize for your kids with special needs.

I love how kids know. They know when a stranger is safe. The amount of times a person with special needs has run up to me and grabbed my hand, started a conversation, or just stood next to me and smiled is countless. And I’ve heard numerous stories from my fellow nurses, techs, teachers, and nannies who work with kids who have special needs. Those kiddos just know, there is an unspoken connection with these friends and it is fantastic.

It breaks my heart that parents and caregivers feel they have to apologize. Apologize for the touching, the sounds, the closeness, the conversation, the singing, the everything unique and amazing that makes that person special, and not only that, but what that person might be doing that is annoying you so much is a result of sensory overload, it is a survival tactic.

So many parents and caregivers of people with special needs have been scolded verbally or with nasty disapproving looks. And they are constantly apologizing. Strangers who have no idea that the man loudly humming the same theme song over and over again has to do that. That the little girl tapping the table and rocking back and forth in her chair in a crowded restaurant has to do that. That the child who’s going into sensory overload can’t help but scream and hit himself.

If you can’t help but feel the need to stare down that person who is apparently annoying you, then please just turn around. Don’t let them see your judgmental glares. They really don’t need it. Trust me. 

To the parents and caregivers out there who have seen those looks and heard the disgraceful murmurs of the disapproving strangers…just know there are so many more of us out there who will love on your kids and love on you.

So please, I encourage you not to stop your child from being themselves. It makes my day when a friend runs up to me and grabs my hand or asks me to sing along with whatever song they need to sing. 

Veg-ify Boxed Mac & Cheese

One of E’s favorite things to eat is boxed mac & cheese. Don’t worry, it’s definitely Annie’s boxed mac & cheese…but still…it’s boxed mac & cheese. One way to incorporate veggies and healthy fats into this otherwise not so healthy dish is this recipe.

  • 12 Baby Carrots
  • 1 Celery Stalk
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1 Box of Mac n Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Paprika

Steam celery and carrots in water, puree with avocado and powdered cheese packet with an immersion blender. Mix the puree in with the cooked pasta and serve.

It’s so easy to make and packs in much needed veg!

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Improving Oral Motor Skills

 

You will need:

  • 1 Jumbo Straw (Smoothie Straw)
  • 1 Large Straw
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Sticker or Fun Picture (Optional)

Instructions: Cut about 1/3 of the smoothie straw off and tape one end closed. This is where I stuck 2 Cookie Monster stickers back to back. Place the taped off smoothie straw onto a regular straw and have your toddler blow and ‘shoot’ the smoothie straw at targets! This is a super fun and effective way to get your toddler using their oral motor skills in a way that is benefitial. Just using a straw regularly in their daily lives can aid in their ability to lip seal, retract their tongues, swallow consecutively, use correct jaw position, and so much more! I highly recommend cups with lids and straws for your toddlers and kiddos! 

Alternative to plastic: We just happened to have these straws already in the back of the pantry, but if you are conscious of your impact on the planet don’t fret! You can also create this out of recycled straws (clean them from your daily iced coffee), or a reusable straw and a piece of paper rolled into a tube the size of the smoothie straw and taped off.