ELIMINATE THE “R” WORD FROM YOUR VOCABULARY

I work at a middle school in Colorado in the special education department with some pretty awesome children.  Today we wore green T-shirts with the words “kindness, acceptance, friendship, unity, bravery, and inclusion written boldly over the front.

Why?

Today is the “Spread the Word To End The Word” campaign.   Using the word retarded towards an individual is demeaning and hurtful.  All individuals, including those born with disabilities deserve respect and acceptance.

There are so many words that describe the uniqueness found in all:  awesome, remarkable, beautiful, talented, special, and loving.

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Patrick and so many others thank you.

in-joy,

Grammy D.

Sweet Potato Nachos

Tonight we are getting a lot of snow, so I wanted something filling for dinner.   I am crazy about nachos and this recipe is really healthy.  The surprise is that it’s made with sweet potatoes.  The addition of jalapeños, balances the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.  The additional toppings create a mix of flavors.  I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

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Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

◦ 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼” thick rounds
◦ 1 Tbsp olive oil
◦ Salt & pepper
◦ 1½ cups black beans or pinto beans
◦ 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
◦ 1 green pepper, diced
◦ 1 jalapeno, diced
◦ ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
◦ ½ cup sour cream
◦ ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
◦ ½ tsp ground cumin

Directions:
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 Spread out sweet potato rounds in one thin layer using two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle sweet potato rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, flip the rounds over, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
3 While the sweet potatoes are cooking, combine sour cream, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin in a small bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
4 Pile the cooked sweet potato rounds on one baking sheet. Top with a layer of black beans and cover evenly with cheese. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the cheese in melted, approximately 3-5 minutes.
5 Remove from oven and cover with the diced green pepper, jalapeño, and chopped cilantro. Add the sour cream to the center of the nachos. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

in-joy,

Grammy D.

THE GIFT OF READING

 

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I have to confess.  I love reading.

I read non-fiction primarily.  Books on handwork.  Manners.  Personal finance.  Christian books.  The Bible.  Books on people’s lives.  Decorating.  The list goes on.

I recently found an old book written by Dee Hardie.  She wrote a monthly column in House Beautiful titled, “Views From Thornhill.”

I awaited each column with excitement.  As a young mother, I was fascinated by the daily observations of Mrs. Hardie’s life with her husband and children on the farm.  Whether it be gardening, cooking, decorating, or a child’s birthday party.  Each day treasured and full.  At least that’s the way I read it.

I lived with my own children in a small, older home in an established neighborhood.  I tried my hand at gardening.  My flowers died.  However, I loved the domestic arts so I filled my days with cooking, decorating, crafting, and caring for my children.

Mrs. Harding’s writings shaped my life as so many others have done.

Reading became a solace, joy, and pastime.  It still is.

Parting with books has been difficult, but necessary at times due to space.  But this gives me room for more books.  I have discovered used books and most of all my new discovery, the library.

 

The library is like a candy store where everything is free.”
― Jamie Ford, Songs of Willow Frost

 

Yes, I know the library has been around for hundreds of years, but for me it is a new passion.    My local library has a coffee shop, classes, and meeting rooms.   I can reserve books on-line or locate books through inter-library loan to be placed in my name upon arrival.   What fun.

All for free and for my pleasure.

You too, can experience the library with your own children.  Choosing their own books will fill them with joy.   Participate in story hour.

Read to them of men and women of faith.  Cuddle them. They will love to hear your voice and the warmth of your lap.  What a world you are opening up.

The ability to read is a gift for a lifetime.   And what a gift it is.

in-joy,

Grammy D.

 

How You Can Create a Less Stressful Christmas For Your Special Needs Child

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And the angel said unto them, Fear not:  for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Luke 2: 10-12

 

Christmas is a time of busyness, fun, chaos, beauty, and joy.  As parents we get wrapped up in our to-do lists and they can be quite long!  Baking, grocery shopping, gift shopping, Christmas cards, decorating…And on and on the list goes.

In the midst of this, our children and especially our special needs child can pick up on the stress brought about by this holiday.

Be Content With What Your Child Is Able To Handle

When my son Patrick was young, he would get extremely excited by the extra activity.  Loud squeals were given while decorating the Christmas tree.  We did manage to help him get one ornament on the tree, but he was content with being an observer.

We all learned in our family that Patrick’s squeals fit in with the Christmas music, laughter, and decorating the tree.  I have learned that he is just as happy watching what is going on and that’s fine.

I learned that Patrick and many small children just can’t handle much Christmas shopping.  I kept him in an umbrella stroller until his feet drug the ground!   He just simply wanted to run off.  I found it was best to get the grandparents to babysit while I got the shopping done.  I did the majority of it while he was in school.   Patrick is 30 years old and still unable to handle shopping.  I simply have had to learn to accept his limitations.

Plan Ahead

I also decorate while he is not here. This keeps him from digging through the storage containers for items to play with.  I don’t have to continually correct or redirect Patrick while trying to decorate.  However, we always decorated the tree as a family.  Now that I live in a small apartment we no longer have a tree.

If there are parties, decide which ones your child will enjoy and limit those when you feel that your child may be just as happy at home with a grandparent who loves to spoil and give your child extra attention.

When our children were young we participated in a couple of parent support groups and attended many Christmas parties through the years.  He did cry out some due to the number of people and the loudness of the occasion.   Patrick was just unable to express himself any other way.  As he has gotten older he is better able to handle parties and I don’t hear this verbal expression any longer.  However a formal party would definitely not be something he would enjoy, nor would it be appropriate for him.

Let family members know that you may have to leave the party early if your child has had enough.  Everyone gets tired and sometimes going home to a quite and predictable environment is what’s needed.

Maybe hosting the family celebration in your own home may alleviate some of the stress for your loved one.  This way your child is in a familiar environment.

 

Limit How Much and What is Displayed

I try to be careful by the amount of decorations that are displayed in my own home.   Extra stimuli can produce anxiety for those with autism.   I notice that each time he reenters his group home, he is bombarded by the extra decorations and screaming out occurs.

I am also careful about what is displayed.  In the early years my son didn’t fixate on certain items.   Now that he is older he loves ribbon, straws, and anything light that he can manipulate between his fingers.  So this is what I try to avoid when putting Christmas decorations out.   It may be something different for your child.

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I love Christmas.   I want others in my family to enjoy the holiday and understand why we celebrate.  High expectations can great stress, depression, and lack of joy.  Sometimes all that is needed is to scale back and create new traditions.

May you and your family enjoy celebrating the birth of Jesus.   I pray you experience peace and joy.

 

in-joy,

Grammy D.

Three Ways to Go Green!

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I am attempting to “go green” in all areas of my life. When I moved to Colorado from Texas over a year ago it was a good time to leave behind plastic storage containers as well as my set of stoneware. I loved this set and I had it for years, however it was time to see them go. So….going green was a good excuse to get rid of them.

DINNERWARE

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After much research I decided to go with an American made company, HE Coors, http://hfcoors.com I can be assured there is no mercury or other toxins that can seep into my foods. I decided to go with solid white so I can decorate my table with many beautiful options.

COOKWARE

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In the last year I also replaced all of my pots and pans. I already owned a cast iron skillet. In fact, as a Southern gal no one would dare to stock her kitchen without one! I got rid of my non-sticks pots and pans and decided to go with cast iron. I learned that I didn’t want to get cast iron from another country because I don’t know where the recycled metals originated from. I went with another American made company named Lodge, http://lodgemfg.com It does take a little more time to care for my cast iron. It means keeping it seasoned. Flax oil is the best for this. I clean my cookware with warm water and no soap. I put a small amount of the flaxseed oil on the pan, smooth it around with my fingertips, and then wipe the excess with a paper towel. I just let it dry out completely before putting them up.

STORAGE CONTAINERS

As I mentioned earlier, I got rid of everything plastic to store food. Pyrex glass containers are good for that. Mine do have a plastic lid in order to keep my foods sealed, but rarely is a microwave used to reheat foods and never with the plastic lid on it.  http://pyrexware.com

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I don’t have a lot of money so the changes have been made gradually – all within the last year and a half. I really love the ceramics from another American made company, but I simply cannot afford them. Maybe I’ll purchase an accent piece from them in the future, but I’m content with what God has provided.

If you are interested in “going green,” take small steps first.  You may want to start in your kitchen the way I have done.  Remember all that you do, do as unto the Lord.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”  Ecclesiastes 9:10

 

in-joy,

Grammy D.

Fall, Scarecrows, and Family Traditions!

Seasons are turning and once again, I am enjoying the beauty of Fall.

I haven’t always.  Spring has been my favorite season.  My eyes are drawn to the beauty of new growth and the myriad of colors in the flowers. Oh, and green everywhere I look!

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“Thy bounty shines in autumn unconfined
And spreads a common feast for all that live.”
– James Thomson

I now have turned my eyes in recent years to Fall and all of its glory.

Before I saw only the brown and barrenness of the trees, as well as the overcast days and dampness in the air.  My eyes are now open to the brightness of the sun rays as it lingers on each leaf, beautiful in contrast to one another.   I am amazed at the individual trees boasting a coat of golds, oranges, and deep purples next to the evergreens!

What a wonderful time to bring Fall into our homes and celebrate the season of gratitude and turning inward with our families!

For all the blessings of the year,
For all the friends we hold so dear,
For peace on earth, both far and near,
We thank Thee, Lord.

For life and health, those common things,
Which every day and hour brings,
For home, where our affection clings,
We thank Thee, Lord.

For love of Thine, which never tires,
Which all our better thought inspires,
And warms our lives with heavenly fires,
We thank Thee, Lord.

– Albert H. Hutchinson

We must not forget that when we take pride in our homes, our family will as well.  Decorate with nature – fallen leaves, branches and nuts placed in a container….It just invites us to cocoon!  Bring in a throw to rest on the armchair ready to comfort a child or bring warmth during a movie.  It’s not only practical, but can be beautiful as well.  What about a candle reminding us of the smells so particular to this time of year?

I recently read of toxins that may be present from candles.  You too may be interested in an article from, http://truegoods.com “Candle Conundrum ~ To Burn or Not to Burn?” where I learned of things to watch out for.   We all want what’s best for our families and no one knowingly wants to harm our families.

If you have a mantel or just one table to decorate for this season make the effort to do so.  Your loving touch will not go unnoticed.

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Imagine the aroma from our kitchens from hot apple cider or hot cocoa, home baked pies, popcorn and your favorite cookies.  Show your family how you love them by keeping the ingredients on hand and prepare them often!

Enjoy the outdoors.  Have a picnic.  Visit a pumpkin patch.  Play board games.  (Did you know the pastor of Saddleback Church, Rick Warren informally asked children what was one favorite thing they did with their family and this was the number one thing listed?) Read to your children.  Play music.  Expose them to show tunes, blue grass or something they may not listen to otherwise.  Actually USE your fireplace.  Turn out the lights and tell stories of your parents or grandparents.

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I had so much fun on a family outing with my daughter and grandsons.  Creative scarecrows were created by organizations for a contest and fundraiser.  Isn’t this one great?

Don’t forget our traditions.  These are so important to our children!  We are forming memories.  Don’t we want to form memories of closeness, warmth, and tenderness towards one another?

We are keepers of our home.  Let’s do so with intention and love.

“One of the great strengths of good traditions in our lives is the repetition – not something done once, then something else, then another thing altogether, but good things done regularly, dependably, until they become habits.”  Noel Piper

Thank God for your home and family.  Express gratitude with another and do so often.  Place reminders of this around your home.  You can use a gratitude journal placed on a kitchen counter and encourage others to write in it.  You can create decorative signs with scripture verses or other positive quotes.   That would be a fun family project!  I also found so many adorable chalkboard prints on this lovely site:  http://lilyandval.com.

Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honor all the day.”

Psalms 71:8

I love the fall family tree that one of my favorite bloggers, http://adventuresindecorating1.blogspot.com  places in her home each year.   She added family photographs, quotes, and decorative items to her tree.  Isn’t this darling?  You can even use a branch from outdoors placed in a simple container and add some of your own creative elements.

Enjoy this season with your families.  Enjoy them.  Love them.  Give them a place to feel safe and comforted.  Spread joy and gratitude in all you do.  Blessings.

in-joy,

Grammy D.

CAKE, GIFTS, BALLOONS….OH MY!!!

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Thirty years ago, I was running around the office completing my work.  It was the last working day of the month and all cases had to be completed.  There was always a great deal of pressure at the end of the month as no one wanted delinquent cases.

This Friday would be different.  This was my last Friday, last month, last year of my working career.  I was one of three women who were pregnant.  We all joked that there was something in the water.

In two weeks I was giving birth to a baby.  Boy or girl?  Most of us didn’t know back then.  I was just happy to leave the stress of my first job behind.

I had done what I was required by my parents, and I suppose myself.  I completed a college degree that my mother said I needed in case of divorce.  I worked for one and a half years.  This was enough for a down payment on our first home, and we purchased a sofa, chair, a brand new car, and used appliances.  All in just eighteen months!  We were proud of ourselves.

We were able to live off the meager wages of my husband at the time.  It was a horrible time in our economy.  My parents had purchased silver coins and there was talk of another depression.  We were fearful of being laid off, but thankful just the same for employment, health insurance, and reliable vehicles that we did have.

The birth of our baby was planned, like everything else in our young lives.  I enjoyed my pregnancy.  No morning sickness, no smoking, no alcohol, and I watched what I ate.

Now, I was ready.  The baby could come.  I would rest and wash all the pretty baby clothes that were scattered across the bed in the nursery from three baby showers.  I was blessed!

Only….at 3:30 a.m. I went into labor.  Oh no!  Not now…What about two more weeks?

At 12:12 a.m. the next day I was holding a precious, beautiful, baby boy.

We had done it.  We have a son.

 

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.

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Amid the visits, cards, and flowers it was a glorious time.  The first grandchild on both sides.  Boy, were they proud and couldn’t wait to hold him or peek at him through the nursery windows at the hospital.

Then came Monday.  Quiet.  I was alone.  No more visitors.  Everyone was back at work.  I actually appreciated the quiet.  This gave me time with my new baby.  Just he and I.

My pediatrician who had not been on call over the weekend came by on her morning rounds.  In a dead pan voice, she stated she believed my son had Down Syndrome.  Stunned and disbelieving, she began rattling off the characteristics that years of training taught her to observe:  narrow bridge across the nose, almond-shaped eyes, simian crease across his palms, and a large space between the big toe and the next.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  The doctors never recommended institutionalization as my parents might have heard.  Nor did I hear this from family members and friends.

What next?

I held out hope that what the doctors were saying wasn’t true.  In the back of my mind, I had two weeks before the chromosomal test would come back.  This can’t be right, can it?

In the meantime, Patrick was transferred to a neonatal ICU at a nearby hospital in order to treat jaundice.  My mother-in-law took me to a local library to read up on Down Syndrome.  No world-wide web back then.  Secretly I wished, oh I wished that my perfect life would not be disturbed.

As you may have guessed at two weeks the diagnosis was confirmed.  We began early with Early Intervention, Early Childhood, and the public school system.  Therapists.  You name it.  We were busy for the next 18 years.

Patrick learned to speak a little and use some language.  He participated in swimming lessons for several years and enjoyed the friendship of his younger sister, 4 years after his birth.

 

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He enjoyed school and riding the school bus to and from school.  He enjoyed the routine.  And….a milestone for any parent and child, he graduated from high school.  We were so proud.  Since then he has participated in Special Olympic swimming and bowling events, dances, parties, and church.  He has proudly won ribbons.  He attends a day program where he enjoys music therapy, outings, art, and many friendships.

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In his early 20’s, he was diagnosed with autism.  The double diagnosis has been challenging, but I can honestly say I’m much easier at going with the flow.  Patrick has taught me that.

Patrick has taught that it really is enough to have food, shelter, clothing, and all the love your family and friends can give.  What more is there, right?

 

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At 30 years of age, my wish for Patrick is to live with family who nourish, encourage, and love one another.  Patrick is a valuable and meaningful part of our family.  He provides joy, laughter, and some routine to our daily rituals.  He REALLY helps me slow down and evaluate the speed of life and what’s it really all about.

 

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That extra chromosome?  Not a problem.  God has him in His hand.

Happy 30th Birthday, Patrick!

 

in-joy,

 

Grammy D.