Thursday, July 20, 2017

Raising A Good Kid

Two of my boys are teenagers, I worry about them making good choices every day. I've been thinking a lot about how to raise a good kid lately.

Honestly, I don't have any idea. We're winging it for sure!  And I know that just because my boys have made good choices in the past doesn't guarantee they will continue to make good choices. Even writing this post makes me nervous, I don't want to presume that I know what I'm doing or that my boys are angels.  They aren't.  None of us are.

16 years in education has also lead to these thoughts. I've met lots of great kids and their parents.  Many of the great parents have these 3 things in common as well.

Here's what I've been thinking...

1. Talk about your walk with Christ - Exposing them to church is awesome but you really multiple that impact when you talk to your kids about your walk with Christ.  We talk about what we're praying about.  When we all rode to school together we'd listen to a Bible Study podcast on the way.    Whatever you decide to do, just jump in. Make sure your kids know that Jesus loves them and has a plan for them.  Make sure they know God and Jesus aren't just for Sundays at church. Kids need to know right from wrong.  They need to believe in something greater than themselves.

2. Make them do things they don't want to do - this one can be fun.  Torturing your children for fun! You know the drill - make them eat their vegetables, clean their room, stuff like that.  It can also be things like a 'no headphones in the car' rule.  This year we had to make Zac do a couple of things he didn't want to do but he ended up loving it.  Going to the middle school dance and cheering at Powder Puff game specifically.  You can also gang up with your mom friends to make entire groups of children miserable. ;)

3. Help them do the things they really want to do - I guess the first step here are to help them set goals.  We ask the boys to set grade goals each year.  Then when they are slacking off during the year, we remind them of their goals and help them get on track.  The older boys also have athletic goals that we try to help them meet.  Sometimes this goal seeps into #2 because we make them things do things they don't want to do in service of the goals they've set.

There are a lot of other things that go into raising good kids.  These 3 have just been on my mind lately.  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rewarding or Bribing

Last week I needed to work in the library each morning.  There is so much to do that I could have worked all day in the library but I had tons to do in other areas too.  The older boys have workout in the mornings so I needed to take B with me.  About an  hour would be easy peasy for B but 3- 4 hours would be a struggle.

A couple of weeks ago, B asked me for a new video game.  Thankfully, it was a cheaper one.  Most of them are $40-50. This one was 'only' $20.  But still I didn't want to just go buy it because he wanted it right then.  I usually try to delay him because he goes from thing to thing quickly.  But if he stays on something, I'll usually find a way.  I ignore lots of first requests.  He also wasn't too keen on earning the money working around the house.

When I worked in Mesquite ISD, I was training on a system called Love and Logic.  It's an awesome system for discipline management.  The hallmark of the system is giving kids choices.  Another is that if you offer something before bad behavior it's a reward.  If you offer something to get bad behavior to stop, it's a bribe.

B balked at the idea of going to work last week, I decided to have him 'earn' his video game by not complaining about going to work with me.  I knew I couldn't pay someone to watch him for $20 so I figured it was a bargain.

B doesn't wear many shirts in the summer
B did struggle at times last week.  But he would take a breath and remind himself of his goal.  Every day he asked me how many days he had left.  On the last day he asked me when we would go to the store.  He was super excited to get his new game.  He felt proud that he had earned it!

And I didn't feel like I had to bribe him!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I'm at preteen camp this week.  Thank you for your prayers ;).  I'm writing these before I leave and they'll automatically post.  Enjoy!

B-man is funny dude.  Today I want to share some of his recent great lines.  Outside our family, I've just used initials.

To one of Zac's friends:
L, you're pretty awesome.  Behind God of course.  He's number one in my life.  He should be number one in everyone's life.

To me after I told him he could do chores to earn money for a new video game:
Ummmm, I don't really do chores.

To me:
You saw a mirage.  I've seen a mirage before.  Like when I thought the neighbor's car was in the garage but it wasn't.  A mirage.

To my nephew at noon on the day his family is moving into a new house.  There's no furniture in the house yet, just boxes:
I like your new house T.  It's great but it needs some decorative pillows.

To our neighbors on their teenage son:
B: Mr. T, ummm is C old enough for a girl?
T: you mean a girlfriend?
B: yeah, that special someone?
Mr T's wife: B, have you decided who C's special someone should be?
B: it has to be someone who will help him live out a righteous life

To Zac after he dyed his hair platinum blonde for baseball:
Everyone is going to fall in love with you when they see your hair. Well, the womens will.

To a friend of mine after she served him baked ziti:
Sometimes you have to taste with your heart, not just your tongue.

To me while we're looking for his glasses, again:
Can you just keep up with them from now on?

To me after I asked him if he flushed and washed his hands after the bathroom:
Why do you keep informing me of this!?!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Amplified Leadership

I'm going to be honest.  I'm not a fan of this book.  Not enough to stop reading it.  I did finish the book but I'm not a fan.  I read with a pink highlighter/post-it flag in my hand.  My books are highlighted and flagged within an inch of their lives.  This book only has one flag and less that 50 highlights.

Most of my highlights are at the start of the book.  Maybe this means that I'm just not ready for the later stages.  I'm willing to concede that so I'll put the book on the shelf and see what tomorrow brings. Amplified Leadership starts with the idea that if you don't like people, you probably aren't cut out for leadership.  I joked with a friend that it's all down hill from here since I'm not always a people fan.  (It really was a joke.  I do love to serve people but I am an introvert. I need time away.)

I have never published a book (bucket list).  I can't image the hard work and dedication it took to write this book, or any book.  So, to that end, I don't want to bash the book.  It's not poorly written, it's just not for me.

I want to share the part I flagged.  When I get nervous, I just keep talking.  Actually, I don't have to be that nervous, I just get carried away sometimes.  Then after I walk away I realize I should have asked more questions and let the other person talk more.  In the chapter entitled, Connect at the Heart, Dan Reiland shares 4 reasons you should tell a story about yourself.  The point is to help you determine your motives.  Are you sharing to get attention or as a form of therapy?  This is not talking about when you're hanging out with your friends, it's talking about in a leadership or mentoring situation. Here are the four reasons for talking about yourself:

  • To instruct
  • To entertain (my personal favorite)
  • To inspire 
  • To encourage 
I actually love all those reasons.  They are four of my favorite things to do.  I hope that my writing here does one of these four things.  

I do not regret reading Amplified Leadership.  I was reminded of several wonderful principles.  The focus is on relationships.  And I always need reminders to slow down, push pause on the to do list and focus on someone else.  

If you need a framework for mentoring someone, this is the book for you.  I feel certain I'll use the principles in the future.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On Creativity

Even if you're new here, you can see B's creativity in action.  I hadn't thought much about it.  He has ideas, I want him to keep having ideas, I try to facilitate these ideas.  Also, he can be very persistent about his latest interest.  Thank you, autism! The dude is always creating!

Many of you know that I am an educator.  This coming school year will be my 17th year to teach.  My first teaching job was to teach technology applications and a GT pull out program.  I think I got the job because I'd taken a Creative Thinking class as one of my Master's out of program electives.  At that job, I was super focused on getting my GT kids to thinking creatively and differently.  That did not bleed over to my tech classes.

I've also taught 5th grade in large, urban district.  We were self contained, meaning that I taught all the kids all the subjects.  That job was pure survival, keeping my head above water.  My kids needed lots of things.  It never occurred to me that they needed creative time, I'm sad to say.

As I evolved as an educator, I worked to incorporate more and more creative time. It wasn't always easy and I wasn't always great at it. But I tried.

Tuesday morning my awesome friend, Rafranz Davis posted a blog titled: The Inaccessibility of Making, Tinkering & Coding.  Go read it, I'll wait.

As I read Rafranz's post, I began to think about B-man and his creative pursuits.  He's privileged to have parents who get it and can provide supplies and experiences.  He's privileged to go to a school that values creativity and can afford to provide opportunities and ideas.

Here are a few of things I've purchased for B's ideas this summer:

I'm happy to buy all this.  I'm blessed to have the means to do so.  But Rafranz's post really got me thinking about other kids.  What about kids whose parents can afford to buy whatever their creative little minds dream up?  What about kids who go to school obsessively focused on 'the test'?

As a momma, I'll continue to provide what I can for B.
As an educator, I'll continue to provide what I can for my students.
As teacher support person (not sure how else to frame my new role), I'll encourage teachers to take risks and provide opportunities for kids.
As a writer, I'll try to bring awareness to other educators so they can provide opportunities for kids.

This is an unsatisfactory ending.  "Encourage" and "Bring awareness" may or may not help any kids get time and supplies to be creative.  What else can we do?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chocolate Things

Last week, I got this text message from my neighbor and friend Lori.  Actually, it went to our friend's group message.

I'm not sure how this whole thing got started but it was well under way.  Saturday morning B woke me up at 7:45 am, "Momma, let's go to the grocery store".  I made him wait until 8 am but then off we went.  

We got everything on his original list plus caramel.  The store didn't have candy molds so I talked him into cupcake liners.  He chose everything himself and even scanned everything to check out.  

Once at home, I took care of melting the chocolate and writing the flavor on the bottom of the cupcake liners.  B scooped chocolate and filling into each liner.  We had to work on the scoop.  I didn't realize what a fine motor skill that was!  He struggled with how to hold it (just as he does scissors) and tended to move too quickly from the melted chocolate to the liners.  We ended up with a mess on the island but I let him work and cleaned up later.  I wanted to give him a chance to work it out.  

The hardest part for B was waiting for the batches to cool/harden in the fridge before he could start another batch.  I used the time to clean but he watched YouTube and checked his creations.  He hung in there until the last batch, the marshmallows.  After I melted the chocolate and he began scooping, he asked if I could finish them.  I was surprised he lasted as long as he did given how much down time there was.  

He had 3 families he wanted to give chocolates to.  I found some baggies he could use for packaging.  He decided to name his creations Chocolate Things.  He made logos and taped them to each of the bags.  He's ready for delivery! 

I went next door with him to deliver to Lori and her family. It was so cute to hear him tell them about the four flavors.  Lori cut them into pieces.  Here's the caramel one.  

B received rave reviews from everyone who tried his Chocolate Things.  They were pretty good!  I am super proud that he came up with the idea, planned his grocery list, shopped, created (almost everything) and delivered everything.  All with a bunch of down time in between.  That's huge for him!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Baseball 2017, Done

On Tuesday, the 2017 baseball season officially ended for the Bartis boys.

Sam's season wrapped up in May when his high school JV team finished up their season.  Sam hadn't played baseball in a few years so it was fun to see him back on the field.

Zac's season wrapped up in San Antonio in the semi-finals of a tournament.  As I wrote yesterday, Zac's team isn't select.  They played several local tournaments but we only traveled to two out of town tournaments.  The first one was in College Station and the last day was rained out.  The second one was this past weekend in Austin and San Antonio.

The tournament itself was a bit of a hot mess.  We had to go between Austin and San Antonio.  The fields weren't great.  The boys won their first two games on the first day but then didn't win the next four games on the next two days.

Tuesday was a different story.  They looked great in the first game.  The second game was a nail biter.  They played hard but lost.  But honestly, I was so proud of them.  It was a hard way to end the season but being blown out would have been worse.

This season was not always easy for Zac.  He struggled at the plate.  He put in extra work. Sometimes it showed, other times he still struggled.  My favorite thing he did this year was bunt.  The kid is so fast that he can bunt a dribbler just past home plate and beat it out to get on first base.  It was amazing.  The other team always looked shocked.

Zac also worked hard to learn a new position this season - pitcher.  I was not in favor of this move, I'll be honest.  Baseball is a unique in that it is a team sport but it is also HIGHLY individualized.  That pitcher is out there all alone.  The defense can't help him if he can't get the batter to swing.  It's gut wrenching to watch your kid out there struggling.

Zac got to pitch in this tournament and looked really good.  Until he didn't.  It was progress.  And I was able to watch most of his outing.  Progress for both of us.

I love watching the boys play baseball. But I'm super excited that it's time for my favorite sport - it's officially football season now!