Hello, My Name is Juliana

outside finalI have finally put the finishing touches on a project that was on my mind for awhile. It’s all about providing an introduction to Juliana. Business cards and personal cards can’t touch this! Juliana now has her own greeting card that we use to introduce her to people who are new to her or our family.

Many special needs parents come up with ideas out of necessity—this is one of those times. So, before I tell the story of what prompted this idea, I want to make it clear that we have a great church and an amazing staff of volunteers who look after our kids during church service.

Last year, we noticed that when we came to get the girls, Jessa was off playing, but Juliana was sitting happily enough at a table by herself. I didn’t think she was being isolated, but when we noticed it a third time, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. I told Lamar “If Juliana is sitting alone again today I’m going to say something to the nursery coordinator.”  “Yep, I think you should,” he responded.

So when we arrived after service, there Juliana was again. I pulled the nursery coordinator over and told her my concern. She assured me that Juliana wasn’t being isolated or ignored; that someone had been helping her and she had a good time. She said that Juliana had just finished her snack and seemed content to watch the other kids play. I knew that was odd—Juliana sitting still that is. “So she didn’t want to get up?” This confused the coordinator and then I explained to her that Juliana can’t get up out of her chair on her own—unless she scoots and then falls hard onto the floor.

The nursery coordinator was mortified! And I felt bad because I made an assumption that they had figured this out. It is really hard to tell your kid’s story in a five second drop-off before church. And with even the best volunteers, it’s hard to figure this out with a room full of screaming toddlers.

My creative thinking kicked into high gear. Instead of trying to tell Juliana’s story over and over again, I created a little card that does all the work. I won’t bore you with all the text, but here is the introduction:

inside final

I so love this. Now, each week I check to see if there is a new volunteer and if so, the new person will read Juliana’s greeting card. I go into church feeling that her needs will be met and people will know what’s unique about her since she can’t tell them herself. I’m feeling good because I finally got the card out of my head and onto paper. But, I feel best because now, when we meet someone new I don’t have to re-tell Juliana’s story.

“Here, read this,” I said to a friend of mine last week. She knows Juliana’s story, but I wanted to get her reaction on the greeting card. “What’s this?” she said. It’s Juliana’s story in a card.

“Oh, wow,” she said as she began to read. And then her eyes welled up with tears.

There’s Nothing Like a RACK

If you’re new to Juliana’s Journal you may not have noticed the category titled “Tell Me Something Good.” Every third week of the month, I take time to reflect on somethingsticker good that has happened. This week, I’m telling the story of a Random Act of Cart Kindness (RACK) that occurred at my local Kroger parking lot. I promise that Kroger is not paying me (although I could always use some free groceries if a Kroger rep just so happens to read this).

Even though school seems to have just started, both girls had fall break this week. That means they were home and the time I would normally spend doing errands alone would bring an addition of two toddlers who don’t always fare well in the grocery store. Jessa does okay, but one of Juliana’s last shopping trips left me cleaning up blueberries in the produce aisle. She had a ball throwing the container of blueberries and watching them roll everywhere. Mommy was not so enthused. I know the produce manager, so I told him “Sorry Brian, Juliana left something for you in produce.”

There was a little anxiety as we headed to the store. Mostly, I was wondering if we would be able to complete the trip. And it’s always a challenge to get Juliana into the shopping cart. She’s getting heavy, and hoisting her into the air and then bending her legs is challenging. It’s quite a feat to witness I’m sure.

shoppingUpon arriving at the store, I pulled into a spot, got a cart and noticed a car parked next to us with people inside just sitting. I took a deep breath and started the routine to get Juliana’s legs into the cart holes. As I’m doing this and the cart is rolling everywhere I’m thinking about the performance I must be giving the people in the parked car. Then, the door opens and a woman comes out toward us. “Would you like some help?” She says. “Oh, no I’ve got it. She does this all the time,” I say. And it was true, because as soon as the woman came over, Juliana stopped being totally stiff and her legs made their way into the cart holes. Whew! I thanked the lady for her thoughtfulness and moved on to get Jessa secured into the bottom cart.

When I told Lamar this story he was like “So what’s the big deal. She didn’t really help you.” But I explained to him that she did. It took my mind away from a little cart challenge and moved my attention to the kindness of a stranger. She saw someone that needed help and took a moment to stop her day and come over to offer a hand. In a time when most people are too absorbed to help (like the guru I talk about here) I took what she did as a grand gesture.

sackAnd there was an added bonus with this trip. Both girls were on their best behavior and nothing was pulled down or thrown into the aisles this time. Juliana couldn’t resist trying to eat the groceries while I unloaded, but given the fact that we had no meltdowns, tantrums or accidents I would say that the trip was a huge success.

And as you see in the picture up top, Juliana stayed still and showed off her Kroger sticker instead of trying to eat it. Maybe the random act of cart kindness gave her spirit a boost too.

 

 

How to Say No to the Art of Busyness

busylastDuring a recent phone call with a friend, I was talking about my day and all that needed to happen. She replied “Wow, that sounds really busy.” It did and I didn’t like it one bit.

For some time, I’ve been working hard to keep my life as simple as possible; to ensure that there is margin (space for nothingness; like white space on a page) at every turn. September is Self Improvement Month, so I couldn’t think of a better time to make my declaration public.

Over the last month, I’ve been hit with so many messages about taking time to enjoy life; slowing down; getting to what’s important. I’ve been on this path for a little while, and giving up the art of busyness has not been easy. For me, it’s simply this:

declare

Before I finish up my thoughts, I want to make it really clear that I am not talking about productivity. I’m all about production and getting things done. Busyness and productivity are two different things. But as we get more and more in a hurry in our lives, the lines get blurred. I don’t want blurred lines, I want to continue to let go of those little things that won’t make much difference twenty four hours from now.

Busyness may not be an issue for you. And if that’s true I’m glad. But if you’re busy and don’t want to be, what declarations can you make to stop being so busy and do what matters?