Thursday, December 16, 2010

Giving and Receiving

Currently, there are 2 gifts under our tree. And I didn't put them there.  This guy did.  This is my Zac.  He's his own little dude.  So much so that I used to call him El Diablo - ED for short.

Zac is his daddy in a lot of ways but in one big way, he's me.  He's a 'stuff' kid.  He likes to buy stuff. It doesn't matter what it is, he just wants to buy something.  All. The. Time.

Imagine my surprise when he asked for gift wrapping supplies.  He boxed and wrapped these gifts himself.  They are his belongings that he wants to share with his little brother and his parents.  (We are still working on having a kind heart towards big brother ;)

He brought tears to my eyes with his generous spirit!  I love to give gifts.  I love to shop for other people (and myself, too ;).  I love to see their face light up when I give them the gift.  I'm not good at keeping secrets so we do our shopping close to Christmas.  I just love it!

Receiving gifts are a little different.  I do love to get them but I'm always a little embarrassed.  Especially when the gift seems extravagant or very thoughtful.  A shrink would probably tell you it has to do with a low self esteem or some crap like that. I don't know.  It's just hard for me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a stuff girl.  I like get things and gifts,  it's just that I like being the one to find the perfect gift.  It's confusing to explain.

Over the last month, my family and I have been the recipients of some extremely thoughtful and extravagant gifts. Some were not gifts.  Some were things we desperately needed but did not want to ask for.   It was hard to accept these gifts.   At one point, we had to decided not to accept one of them.  Then I thought about giving the perfect gift. What if someone refused the gift I had worked hard to provide?  I'd feel terrible.  So we accepted.  And now we are so glad we did.

Christmas is a season to give and receive all sorts of gifts.  But most of all it's about accepting the gift God sent to all of us - his son.  I'm so thankful to enter this season with a new outlook on giving and receiving gifts!

After I took the picture above, Zac asked could he do one "his way".  This is the pose he wanted.  I told you, he's his own dude.

I know you can't see it but the he wrote this on the blue package: "From Zac To Ryan and Aimee".  It totally cracked me up that he didn't write "To Mom and Dad".  I think it's a baby picture of himself from his room.  I can't wait until Christmas morning to find out!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

We went to Austin this Thanksgiving so Sam could play in a football tournament.  The tournament was so poorly run, it drove me crazy! But we did have a great time.  We have so much to be Thankful for and it was nice to spend time together. 
We ate a traditional turkey dinner with family Wednesday night.   Thursday morning we decided to get on the road and get breakfast along the way.  By the time we stopped, the McDonald's the boys picked wasn't serving breakfast. So, we all had cheeseburgers for breakfast.  Once we arrived in Austin, we went to IHOP for lunch.  And ended up eating breakfast. 
We spent most of Thursday in the hotel room watching football.  Somehow, little Brennan was the best behaved. He just hung out playing with his toys and sticker books.  "It's stuck!" is his favorite thing to say right now.  Of course it's stuck, it's a sticker!
Friday Sam didn't have a game until the afternoon so we took the boys to the Austin Children's Museum.  They had a great time.

Saturday was a long day at the fields but the boys were great!  At one point they all feel asleep.

Sam's team finished playing late Saturday afternoon and we ate breakfast for dinner at IHOP (again).  We tried to crash at the hotel but someone pulled the fire alarm twice. I had just gotten Brennan to sleep and, thankfully, he sleep right through both alarms. As did Sam. 

Sam's 10th birthday was Sunday so we took our time packing up and heading out.  We went to Round Rock Donut (as seen on Man vs. Food) for breakfast.  Sam got a giant donut to celebrate his double digits.
When we finally got home, my next door neighbor/sister in law, was running to the grocery store. She graciously agreed to get Sam a little cake so he could have something to blow out his candles. I hadn't planned for a cake because I wasn't sure when we'd be home.  I still can't believe my first born is 10!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween and "Normal"

Welcome one and all to November!  Last night was one of my favorite family nights of the year.  I love to make a big Halloween themed dinner and have family over.  Last night was no exception.  Here's a collage of our Halloween-y eats.  I tried two new cookie recipes this year and both turned out great. Zac helped me make the mummy cookies and both boys decorated the other cookies (which are without a fun Halloween-y name but are awesomely delicious)

My mom, Ryan's parents, Ryan's brother and his wife and 2 girls and Ryan's sister and her husband and their 3 kids all came over for dinner.  Then we hit the neighborhood to trick or treat. 

Last year, Brennan had just turned a year old at Halloween.  I bought him a bee costume and he could have cared less.  He was not fully over whatever it was that ravaged him from 6 months to 18 months old.  So, he stayed at home with Nene (my momma) while the rest of us trick or treated.

Not so this year!

Brennan is not 'normal'. I don't know what Brennan is but he's definitely not normal.  He's speech delayed.  He's tremendously OCD.  He's hyper-smart.  He's lovable and he's frustrating.  Last Thursday I had a breakdown about Brennan's future.  Last Friday, God sent me a mom to ease those fears and frustrations.  Then last night, God presented me with a 'normal' Halloween.

Brennan loved Trick or Treating. He didn't say Trick or Treat (that would have been a miracle).  But he said "Wow!" about a million times.  He carried his own bucket. He walked up to the door to accept candy (although he wouldn't let people put the candy in his bucket. He took it and put it in himself.  OCD, anyone?).  He screamed at scary costumes.  He didn't keep screaming.  He was awesome.  I cried. 

My other boys were awesome too, of course.  They ran around like crazy people. Then calmed down when we asked them to calm down. They helped their brother and cousins. 

But, it was Brennan acting "normal" that made me cry.  And even this morning, I'm tearing up. Thankful for a night of "normal".  What a blessing!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blogging about...not blogging

Hello there! Welcome back.  I haven't been hanging out here a lot lately.  Some of that has to do with life in the fall.  School starts back and Sam is playing football.  Pee Wee football is a big time commitment, ya'll.  For realz.

But, I'm going to be honest with you.  I haven't been blogging because, well I'm going to be blunt here, life has sucked lately.  And no one wants to read about that.  Seriously, you have your own problems.  Why do you want to hear about mine?  So, I haven't wanted to bother anyone with my troubles. 

I'm pretty lucky that I have a strong faith so I recognize that my troubles are but a bump in the road. And I know that my troubles don't define me.  But sometimes that realization doesn't stop me from crawling in.  That's what happens when I'm worried or bothered.  I stop talking.  (My husband doesn't think that's possible)  Actually, I lose my ability to make small talk.  I have so much on my mind that I find it hard to clear my mind and focus on the other person.

So, here I am.  Being honest.  Telling you that life stinks sometimes.  But, I'm working hard to put that aside and really connect with people.  I don't want to be that selfish moody person.  I am, by nature, funny and happy.  I want to be funny and happy no matter what's going on in life.  So, I'm back to my blog.  Trying to be funny and happy.

So, what's up with you?  Tell me about it in the comments and I'll be happy and funny with you!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

Friday, September 3, 2010


Hey there blog readers, did you think I was never coming back?  I don't blame you, I've been gone a while. I'm back now, though.

What a summer! I don't know why I keep thinking I'll get a lot done every summer.  I've been back at work 3 weeks and I've done more in those 3 weeks than most of the summer.  Well, there was that little issue of being a good momma to my 3 awesome boys. I hope I did that effectively this summer.  And every day.

Speaking of effectiveness. I did a lot of thinking (read: beating myself up) this summer about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  So, I decided that I would come up with 5 purposes for my life and then make sure the 'things' I'm doing fit into those 5 things.  I've already committed to some things that don't fit into my 5.  So, I'm going to finish those up and politely decline to continue.

Here are my 5 purposes:
1. Being a good wife/mom - a lot of 'stuff' used to fit into this.  I thought I had to be in charge of everything to make sure the boys had a great experience. I'm going to learn to believe that this is not true ('cause it's not).  There are things grown ups think are terribly important that kids don't care about. I'm going to ask the boys what's important about their activities and do those things.  Ryan and I also need to have more date nights.  And a vacation alone together. (A girl can dream)

2.  Being a strong Christian - I will continue my daily Bible studies.  I would also like to get involved in a Life Group at church. But also, I need to work to make sure my faith is reflected in the things I do, how I speak and how I treat others. 

3. Being a good teacher - I work on this everyday.  I want to be a positive force in young people's lives.  I have to remind myself of this everyday so I don't get a bad attitude in the drudgery of the day. Right now this also means serving the teachers at my school. If I can help them integrate technology more effectively, more kids are excited to learn. This also involves getting my Librarian certification.  Started classes this week!  WooWhoo! Excitement for the win!

4. Being a good writer - I really beat myself up this summer for not getting my book finished.  Or even writing a lot.  I'm going to write more often but not strive for perfection on my first draft (this is my big demon).  I love to write. I want to enjoy it and be good at it.

5. Being physically fit - I am continuing my running and work out programs.  However, I did decide to not train for my 10K to make room in my schedule for my other purposes.  I'm okay with that.  I'm trying hard to not get too focused on being a certain size or weight. I just want to feel better about my body. 

So, that's my 5 purposes.  Help hold me to them.

What are your 5? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Too Hot Too Handle

On Sunday, July 18 I ran my toughest and best race yet.  It was the Too Hot Too Handle 5K here in Dallas.  The race was supposed to start at 7:30 a.m.  7:30 a.m. in July in Texas = 90 degrees (at least).  I'm an early morning runner so the heat was a big factor for me.  I ran with my awesome sister in law. 

I'll be perfectly honest, I signed up for the race for 2 reasons:
1. I hadn't done a race in a while. 
2. You got a cool hat and a technical/dri fit style sleeveless shirt (I'm a sucker for swag).  My sister in law is wearing the shirt and hat in this picture.

I wasn't worried about the distance since I've been doing my Bridge to 10K running program.  I was concerned about the heat.  I gave up Diet Cokes (a huge feat for me) on July 13th so I had been drinking water like nobody's business.  So, I feel I was well hydrated. 

The race went VERY well.  I attribute it to 4 new things:
  1. My training runs were longer than the actual race.
  2. My new Phiten necklace - when I wear it my legs don't ache as soon
  3. Gatorade pre-workout drink
  4. Gatorade post-workout drink
I didn't break my personal best of about 31 minutes but I came close.  I finished in about 32 minutes.  The big thing for me was that I felt GREAT after the race.  After all my other races, I felt like I was going to die.  Not so after this one.  So now I have a routine and I'm sticking to it.

What about you? What are your running/race day routines?

PS - I paid for all the items mentioned in this blog.  No one asked me to try them out.  I just did.  But, if Phiten or Gatorade want to send me so stuff, I'm TOTALLY open to that ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Running Program

Wow! It's been a while since I blogged. Life doesn't slow down for anyone, huh? Wouldn't want it any other way. Actually, I would like more naps but that's neither here nor there.

We are having a great summer. Everyone is healthy! Brennan had a great 2nd birthday at Chuck E. Cheese. He wasn't as excited by Chuck E. as our first visit but he still loved him. Zac finished up MMA. He's asking for a guitar for his birthday in July and we're considering it. A friend at school gives lessons so there's hope. Sam is keeping us on the road. Next week is his last baseball tournament. A 'world series'. I don't think there are actually international teams but it'll be big. I'll be glad when it's over. Then football will start. Woowhoo!

After my 5 5Ks this Spring, I took a break from running. I did all 30 days of Jillian Micheal's 30 Day Shred. I wish I had done 30 days in a row but I took a total of 3 days off throughout. Still it was good. I didn't lose any weight because I was eating like a stray dog (anything I could find). But I did firm up and feel better about myself. I posted my progress on twitter and facebook each day. I enjoyed the encouragement and it felt great to see friends give it a try. I love encouraging people toward fitness!

About 3 weeks ago I decided to start a new running program. I really enjoyed the Couch to 5K program in the Spring. This time, I stepped it up a notch. I'm doing the Bridge to 10K by the same developer. I finished Week 3, Day 1 this morning. 5 minute warm up walk, 17 minutes running/1 minute walking circuits 3 times and 5 minute cool down. For those mathematically challenged, that's 52 minutes of running and total workout time of 63 minutes. My knees are sore but it felt great to finish and not give up. (maybe that's the real lesson of running...another post I suppose)

The really cool thing is that I've reconnected with a childhood friend who lives in our neighborhood and she's running with me. This morning was our 2nd run together. We were actually able to talk and run at the same time. That's huge for me! I really didn't want to get out of bed but I knew she'd be waiting for me.

I'm going to be running another 5K on July 18. It's called Too Hot to Handle. I hope it's not that hot that morning. The race starts early to beat the Texas heat. I'm thinking I might run a half in the Spring. Or at least a 10K.

What's your latest goal? Do you need encouragement to reach your goal?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Can you smell it?

Take a deep breath.  Through your nose.  Ohhh, what's the delicious smell?  It smells like Coppertone, crispy marshmallows, popsicles, and chlorine.

It's summertime!

Well, almost.  We still have 7 days of school left.  But they are filled with celebrations and awards and general fun stuff (until the end when I'll give end of year finals to my tech aps kiddos).

It's harder and harder to get the boys out of bed in the morning.  I keep thinking only 7 more times.  They are excited about staying up late and sleeping in.

We went to our neighborhood pool for the first time this year on Saturday.  I really enjoyed it.  Ryan and the big boys played in the pool.  Brennan and I hung out in the baby pool.  Brennan is all over the place so it's hard to keep up with him but so much fun.

Ryan gave the boys their summer hair cut last night.  Zac went for a full buzz.  Sam left some hair on the top with a buzz on the side.  Sam will get his annual mohawk/fauxhawk next Friday in honor of the last day of school.

We have our Texas Rangers tickets lined up.  We are staying close to home with summer. I'm teaching summer school.  We'll be busy but not as busy as usual.

I can't wait!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Do the Write Thing for Nashville

I am slightly addicted to twitter.  My husband says heavily addicted but that's not the point of this post.  Twitter is great for slightly shy people like me.  You can watch things go on and pop in every now and then.

I've watched an amazing thing unfold.  Myra McEntire, Amanda Morgan and Victoria Schwab have done something so much bigger than themselves. I've known Myra through twitter and I know she's a giving and caring person.  I'll assume that Amanda and Victoria are also by proxy. They banded together to put on an bookish auction to raise money for Middle Tennessee flood victims. 

It's taken on a life of it's own. The prizes are amazing.  The bids are huge.  It's just awesome.

I haven't won a thing but I've loved it. The bid are so, so high. It's wonderful.

I'll tell you what.  I've been very effected by this.  By the transparency of the organizers.  The generousity of the donors.  The outrageous bidders.

I'm still a wanna be in the publishing world.  But it doesn't seem as scary anymore.

And all for a great cause.

Now, go bid.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Goal Met!

As you may recall, in January I popped off that not only would I run a 5K but I would run 5 5Ks.  Well, friends, I actually did it!  And it spectacular fashion, I might add.

I started with the Mardi Gras Run.  Then we did the Dash Down Greenville.  I didn't blog about that one but it was not great.  I ran the entire time but there were 5000 people in the race.  Way too many for me.  And it was the first time my otherwise fabulous husband ran with me. 

I say otherwise fabulous because he is wonderful and encouraging and all that.  But he does train at all and blows me out of the water at these races.  That's what he did at the Dash Down Greenville.

My third race was the Heart of Heath.  I ran this one with my fabulous sister in law Laura.  She's amazing.  She stays with me and pushes me.  I didn't get into a good breathing rhythm but I pressed on.  And again, Ryan ran too.  Took off and beat me.  I'm really trying to not be bitter...

My fourth and fifth races were this past weekend.  On Saturday we did the Raider Country Run that benefits the booster club at the school where I teach and my boys attend.  Laura did the 1 mile fun run with all our boys since she had half marathon on Sunday.  Ryan  and I did the 5K.   He stayed with me for the most part.  I had trouble getting into a breathing rhythm again so I struggled.  It was fun though because my students were running too.  Towards the end I told him to go ahead (which I always too but I always get miffed that he does.  I know, that makes it my issue and not his).  But then I caught up with him and we finished together.  I found out later that afternoon that I got 2nd in my age group!  We left before the awards.  One, because I didn't know there were awards.  Two, because my kids were going nuts.  And three, because I never dreamed I'd win a medal.

My fifth race was an 'adventure' run.  The Warrior Dash.  It was so much fun.  We ran through mud, slide down a muddy hill, climbed over stuff, jumped over fire and crawled through mud/under barbed wire at the end.  Ryan did a great job of staying with me.  Given my bad ankles (and the fact that I twisted it the weekend before), I was very cautious in the mud.  So, I slowed us up - a lot!  But he was great.  Even when I had a panic attack in the lake.  We were going over logs and I went over one and couldn't touch the bottom of the lake.  He reached out for me and I screamed "Stop pushing me!".   My real goal for the Warrior Dash was to finish uninjured, without crying and without help.  Ryan helped me over one of the logs post-panic but I think I did great.  Ryan was not thrilled with our time and ranking but I thought we rocked. 

So there you have it!  I'm going to start the Couch to 10K program next week.  But I'm going to keep running 5Ks. I don't want to tackle a 10K until I can finish a 5K without feeling that death is eminent.  But next year, I AM DOING A 10K. 

What goal are you working on?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Flip Flops

I have more flip flops in! Here's a photo of the variety:

Here's what I have:
Cheetah with brown - size 6
Blue Plaid - sizes 7 & 8
Green and White - size 6
Stripes - sizes 8 & 9
Brown Sequins - size 7
Black Sequins - sizes 8 & 9
Cheetah with Pink - Sizes 8 & 9

If you'd like individual pictures of a particular style, send me an email -
They are $20 a pair and I'll ship them to you for free.  They are super comfy and super cute!

As always, you can donate directly to my 3-Day account by clicking here.

I walk because I can and for the millions who can't
Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Give a FLIP!

(please excuse the cross post but this is SUCH an important topic)

I am so excited to be doing the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk again this year. I will walk 60 miles over the course of 3 days. I will also camp out 2 nights (which is the hard part ;). I participated in the 3 Day last year and raised $2300. I had an asthma attack and wasn't able to fully participate in the last day. However I was proud to have raised so much money for an important cause.

I walk with a great group of ladies - The Hot Pink Mommas. We have a good time. We met through our boys' sports teams. We have 14 boys and 2 lonely girls between us. Thankfully, none of us have been directly touched by breast cancer. But we walk because it could be one of us. Or one of our daughters or daughter in laws (ya know, way in the future)

This year I am committed to raising $2300 and completing all 60 miles! To help raise money, I am selling super CUTE and super COMFY flip flops. The first part of my order arrived yesterday! Here are the four great styles that arrived:
Here they are individually:
They are $20 a pair and I'll ship them to you for FREE (if you're not local :) Comment below or email me at aimeebartis (at) to order
Silver sequins sizes 8 & 9
Blue sequins size 8
Blue plaid size 7
Brown sequins sizes 7, 8, 9 & 10

I'll post more pictures and sizes when the rest of the order arrives.

If you would like to learn more about the 3 Day, join the Hot Pink Mommas or donate directly to my fundraising account, visit my website.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dueling Banjos

I have dueling banjos going on in my head.  In case you don't know about dueling banjos check this out:

I have been making good progress on my work-in-progress -  Caley.  I'm enjoying writing it and I hope someone (besides Ryan) enjoys reading it some day.

On Monday, I left work with a terrible headache and stomach ache.  I wouldn't really get into it but I felt run over with a Mac truck.  

So, I was laying in bed Monday trying not to die and watching DVR'ed Saturday Night Lives.  I LOVE SNL but I usually fast forward through the music guests.  But since I was sick, I just let it roll.  Enter the Ting Tings.

Since I'm a musical loser, I had never heard of the Ting Tings.  They seem to me to be a throw back to 80's punk.  And Ms. Ting Ting (of course I don't know her name, it's not important) was wearing this TOTALLY 80's get up.  It cracked me up.  And I thought, "What if she had a middle school kid?  Would that kid be excited or embarrassed right now?"

I decided the kid would be embarrassed and Todd was born.  Todd has a back story.  Todd has an opening scene.  But Todd does not have the conflict necessary to sustain a decent plot.  Bummer, Todd!

But the bugger keeps pestering me.  "Maybe I can have adventures with my mom.  Maybe I can be a series.  Come on, come on listen to me. All the cool kids are doing it."

Hence the dueling bangos.  Caley and Todd are duking it out.  So far, Caley's winning.  She has a plot - she wins.   But Todd's developing.  Now I just gotta go get a "Rock Star" spiral notebook for Todd.  (Caley already has a flowery girl spiral notebook. I'm old school that way.)  I'll keep writing down the bits that come to me and work Todd when Caley's all out.

What do you do when you're in the middle of a project and you hear the music?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break

Last week the big boys and I were out of school for Spring Break.  I had a list of things to accomplish during the week.  Hardly any it got done.  By Thursday I was pretty down on myself and what I had not accomplished.  At dinner I was lamenting about the summer.  How I would really need to get on a schedule this summer if I hoped to get my book finished. 

Usually, Ryan glazes over during these type speeches.  He nods and smiles, "Whatever you need to do."  See why I love him so?  But that's not how it went down this time.  This time he got all up in my business.  Short version: you go ninety to nothing all the time.  You need rest.  Don't feel bad if things didn't get done.  The boys seem happy and healthy.  Isn't that enough?

So, here's what I did do this Spring Break:
  • laughed
  • watched Sam's team win their 1st tournament of the year (in the longest game EVER, seriously 3 hours - he's 9)
  • napped - ALOT
  • ran in my 2nd 5k
  • left the computer almost every time Brennan came to pull me out
  • attempted to get Brennan a hair cut
  • laughed every time Brennan called me Daaadeee (Ryan is Da-Da)
  • worried about Sam and Zac on their Abiliene adventure
  • laughed at their Abiliene pictures
  • inspired a former student
  • finished an awesome book
  • wrote an awesome book review
  • got a pedicure and sparkly blue toenails - ya know to match the baseball team ;) sports momma
  • laughed every time anyone tried to get Brennan to say Momma
  • went to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid with Sam and Zac
  • got total momma points because I pre-purchased Wimpy Kid tickets - the show was sold out
  • had to be a front row joe at Wimpy Kid - was totally worth it
  • laughed more
  • saw my very best friend in the whole wide world
  • was sad to leave vbfitwww
  • made chocolate chip pancakes
  • played in the snow
But thank you sweet LORD, there was one thing I didn't do this Spring Break - take Brennan to the doctor.  And if you know us or have been reading this blog any length of time, you know that's a big deal.  If you don't you can read about sweet Brenno here.

Here are my two favorite pictures from Spring Break.  The first is Brennan eating ice cream after the failed hair cut.  The serious look on his face is due to the fact that I removed the ice cream to take the picture. 

Up next, the big boys (Sam and Zac) and I outside on Sunday in our 2 inches of unexpected snow.  We had just had a snowball fight. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Biz2Bloggers = greatness

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a new service called Business 2 Blogger.  The idea is this: you get emails for B2B with 'campaigns'.  Campaign is marketing speak for something a marketer needs done.  So and so needs you to use their product then blog about it.  So and so will give you this, this and this.  You will do this, this and this.  You get it, right?

Personally, I did not expect a lot out of B2B.  Let me say that another way...I did not expect to get a lot of reviewing gigs from B2B.  I'm a new and small blog. I've never done product reviews.   I'm kinda all over the map.  Some days I'm about my journey to become a published author.  Some days I'm about becoming a runner.  All days I'm about being outnumbered by all the boys in my life.

I have enjoyed seeing the emails and applying for the campaigns.  It's neat to see what people are trying to sell and services they are hoping to provide.  (and yes, I know how geeky the word neat is but I love it.  get over it.)  I've applied for several campaigns.  Many times, I get the message "this campaign is full".  Earlier this week I received an email asking if I'd like to review a book.  I do have a book review blog but the proposed book didn't match so I politely declined.

I'm sad that some people are bagging on B2B.  They creators/owners are getting emails complaining about everything from the time the emails are delivered to not been chosen for a campaign.  People are blogging to renounce B2B.  I feel for them.  I really do.  Two years ago I was on a team that launched an internet based multi-level marketing company.  We worked hard to make sure we had all our ducks in a row.  We felt like we had a great product.  But every time we put it out there, people had issues.  Some issues were constructive criticism.  Some were just flat out bitching.

So, keep up the good work Holly, Jay and Shauna.  It's hard to start a business that depends so greatly on others.  And just remember, you can't make everyone happy all of the time.  Just yourself.  Keep up the good work.

Monday, March 1, 2010


This weekend we welcomed a new member to our family.  Meet Moose
Moose is a 6 week old Chihuahua mix.  His momma is a Chihuahua and his daddy is a Pomperian.  But he looks all Chihuahua to me.

I was not prepared for him to come home Friday.  Ryan called me at work Friday afternoon and we met his momma's owner Friday night.  We called on the way to pick him up to find what kind of food he needed.  Then stopped at the Dollar Store to get food and a bowl.
And OHMYGOODNESS I was not prepared for how small he is.  We got Chuy when he was about a year old so he was much bigger.  And he was already paper trained.  

We didn't have a name picked out either.  Originally, I thought I was getting a girl and I had named her Sweets.  Ryan and I went back and forth the entire ride home about what to name him.  I decided he need a big name since he is so small.  But all I could think of was Bruiser and I didn't want to rip off Legally Blonde (as much as I love that movie and musical).  As we pulled into the garage, Moose hit me.  It's perfect.  It's big.  Brennan loves Moose A. Moose from Nick Jr. and I love Moose from the Al Capone books.  

Having Moose is like having a new baby.  He cries in the night.  He sleeps a lot.  And, unlike a baby, we lose him.  Usually he's under the couch.

Chuy's not sure about Moose yet.    Mostly Chuy has hidden out in my closet.  But, he hasn't snapped at Moose.  So, we're hopeful.  

The really fun part of adding Moose is Ryan.  He's eaten up.  He gets up in the middle of the night with him.  He sends me pictures.  He's over the moon.  He's so cute.

Here's a picture of Chuy for good measure.  This one of my favorites.  I still don't know how he got this mask on...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Need Advice

OK, since I'm good at putting my business out there, you all know that I'm writing a book. If you don't you can read about it first here.  I'll wait.

You're back?  Onward then...

Specifically, I am writing a Middle Grade Novel with female lead, Caley, who plays on an all boys baseball team.  Controversy ensues.  Also, Caley's BM (birth mom) arrives on the scene to complicate things.

Here's my issue (for today).  I keep reading about other author's journeys.  They are very helpful and encouraging.  But they have have some version of this statement: "My first book stunk and will never see the light of day."  How can I avoid this?  I really want to tell Caley's story.  I want other people to get to know Caley.  How can I help her avoid suckage?

Also, when should I start looking for a critique group?  I'll be honest, the thought of this scares the bejebeers out of me.  But I know that I need to do to make my work better.

Any other writing advice would be most appreciated.  So much appreciated that I'll choose a random comment next Monday,  March 1st and send that person a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras 5K

If you have been following the blog, my facebook or twitter feed, you know I've been training for a 5K.  I'm kinda out there with my information...Saturday was the day. 

I went to Austin last week for a technology teacher's conference.  Which meant that my last training run was out of my usual routine.  I had promised Ryan that I would run on the treadmill inside the hotel.  But I just couldn't do it.  I tried for 10 minutes but I couldn't get into a groove. So, outside I went.  I had a map from the hotel and had let my fellow teachers know I was going.  It was a great run that included a huge hill.  But, I discovered that I went right instead of left out of the hotel so I ended up running much further than I had inteneded.  But I was ok with that.

My fab-o sister in law, Laura had graciously offered to run the race with me.  She runs half marathons so she was really bringing it down to support me.  She picked up the race packets while I was in Austin and came over Friday night with a surprise.  A hot pink (one of my favorite colors) Under Armour (my favorite brand) shirt that said RUN.  How sweet!

Saturday morning came and I was excited that the race started later because Ryan and I had stayed up watching the Olympics.  I got all geared up and was ready to go.  It was 35 degreees out but I was cool with that. I had run the day after Christmas when it was 27 degrees out. 

Here's Laura and I before the race.   We only had to stand around for a little while before the race started.  I felt good. I had been concerened that I'd be too nervous but I was ok.  I had my music going, I was good to go.  I'm not yet at the point where I can talk and run so it was pretty quiet. 

The turn around was up a big hill - which I generally don't run.  There are no hills in my neighborhood.  But when I made the turn, I was feeling good.  Then the lead legs hit.  I really wanted to walk but I fought through.  I kept fighting.  Going down that hill felt GREAT!  And I even got hot (something that never happens) and had to take off my hat, gloves and jacket. 

Laura was there to encourage me the entire way.  She even warned me when the photographer was coming up.  I can't wait to see the picture.  Ryan, Brennan, and Zac were at the last corner before the finish line to cheer me in, along with my brother in law Ronnie and nephew Max.  I cried when I saw them.  Zac jumped into the fray and ran across the finish line behind us. I was so focused and a little out of it that I didn't notice.  Sam, Tripp, Alli and my mother in law Carolyn were waiting at the finish line.  Here's Brenno all bundled in his stroller.  He was not loving it. 

I did feel weird afterwards.  I was a little swimmy headed.  Sort of drunk feeling.  And I had to use the bathroom BAD.  But I had met my goal and I felt great about that.  I didn't die - which was my first goal.  And I didn't walk - which was my second goal.  And my goal during the race was to try to look like I was having fun.  It's weird to see so many people looking pained as the run.  Why do they do it if they aren't having fun?

Up next?  Dash Down Greenville on Saturday, March 13.  See you there!

Friday, February 5, 2010


This is my Pilly.  It's a comfort blanket of sorts.  I don't remember exactly when I got pilly but I do know it's the same time I started sleeping with the TV on and I learned (through the news, thankfully) what rape is.  But that's a story for a shrink.  She was originally part of a set of sheets my Momma had.  Actually, I still have one of the sheets in case we need to make an emergency Pilly. 

Pilly has been on 4 or 5 drill team trips (stealthily hidden under my Stingerette Lil Sis Pillowcase), a ski trip, lots of family vacations including Denmark.  Much to Pilly's chagrin she didn't make the trips to France or Hawaii.  Pilly has lived in my childhood home, 2 run down dorms, a sorority house, and a couple of ratty apartments.  Pilly was with me on my wedding night (what!?! I had a raging sinus infection - don't judge).  Before you ask, yes Pilly is clean.  She looks dirty because she's so worn out  well loved.   And yes, she has been repaired in the past by turquoise thread that didn't match. 

Shorty after Ryan and I married, I retired Pilly to her cryogenic chamber.  About a year later she emerged when my Daddy was diagnosed with cancer and died.  She stayed out most of 2000.  When Sambo was born I put her away again.  Last January she reemerged (but stayed under my pillow) when I thought we were moving to New York and I would have to break this news to my Momma.  After Momma found her and 'outed' me, she was quickly returned to her chamber.

For the better part of this past month, our family has been dealing with the possibility that Brennan has Cystic Fibrosis.  Brennan (and I) had to endure a sweat test.  That number came back normal but too high.  Our doctor wanted to repeat the test but Ryan and I didn't want to put him through that again so we asked if there was an alternative.  A blood test that maps Brennan's entire genetic make up was ordered.  This required quite a bit of blood but was easier than that sweat test.  Yesterday our sweet nurse, Linda, called to say that Brennan does not have CF.  I thanked her, spread the word to Ryan and concerned family and friends.  Then busted out in tears for about 10 minutes.  At my desk.  With a room full of 8th graders.  I was so relieved.  I was so thankful.  I was reminded of how blessed we are. 

I knew I had been worried about this but I didn't realize how much until it was gone.  During the last month, I found myself picturing a life of  raising funds and awareness for CF.  I thought about how we would tell the big boys that Brennan was ill.  I even starting exploring work at home jobs so I could have more flexibility when he gets sick.  I was so happy that this wouldn't be our future (although my heart still breaks for those families who will get the 'other' call).  I praised and cried on and off all day.

And, amazingly, Pilly stayed esconced in her chamber through it all.  I didn't even think of her until I was running this morning and composing this post.  Is it possible that, at age 35, I've developed more advanced coping skills?  Only time will tell.  Brennan's road is still rocky and long (thank you Jesus).  We are treating him for asthma and praying for smoother sailing.  But, I feel comfortable keeping Pilly in her chamber through it all. 

So, help me feel more normal (is that possible) you have a comfort object?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


"You could run for your life but not really for any other reason"

So announced an orthopedic surgeon in 1995.  I had had 2 ankle surgeries and was training for the Danskin triathlon with my sister in law.  I was in terrible pain.  He gave me a cortizone shot and sent me on my way.  I didn't enter the triathlon.  I went to California instead.  My sister in law competed and rocked it.

Fast forward to summer 2009.  I was training for the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk.  It's a walk, I can do that.  But walking all that time is boooorrrriiiinnnnggg.  (the actual walk was not boring, just training for it by myself)  I started thinking about running again.  I had also completed the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.  I was feeling strong.  I could do anything.

My sister in law, Laura, has always been a runner.  As long as I've known her, she's run.  But in the fall of 2008 she took it up a notch.  She trained to run a half marathon.  This sounded close to impossible to me.  But, once again, she rocked it.  She was so committed to it.  She transformed her body and her life.  I was (and still am) so proud of her.  She inspires me in a lot of ways.  But she's really my inspiration to run.  This is us at the 3 Day Walk.

So, while we are walking in the 3 Day, I pop off.  "After this I'd like to do a 5k."  That's when I found out about the iPhone app - Couch to 5K.  My friend Monica had used it and really liked it.   I decided I would buy it as soon as I was rested up from the 3 Day.  Well, the 3 Day didn't go exactly as planned (huge asthma attack and month long fall out).  But, I did buy the app and started the program on December 14, 2009.

The C24K program is 9 weeks.  I wanted to stay on track so I picked out a goal run that was in exactly 9 weeks.  Then I told my husband, sister in law and brother in law.  Now people knew.  I had to follow through.  

At first, I looked like this.  
Not fast but all hunched forward.  I felt stupid and like I would fall over at any moment.
I talked to my husband about it and he helped me sit back into my run.  Now I feel more that Rocky.  Ya know the scene when he runs and punches?  That's me.  Slow and steady.

I can not say enough about the C25K program.  It eases you into running.  You warm up.  You walk. You run. Repeat.  Cool down.  It prompts you "You are half way through"  "5 minutes left".  Your running time gradually increases.  I highly recommend.  You can learn more about it here.

I'm enjoying it.  My ankles are holding up well.  I read this article today that I think explains why.  I don't think I could have run so effectively without getting into shape first.  The 30 Day Shred whipped me into shape, strengthened my core and legs.

My race is on Saturday, February 13.  My goal is simply to not die.  Just kidding (kinda), I think it will go well.  My actual goal is to run a 5K a month.

Here are some random thoughts on starting to run:
  • if you are on Twitter, hook into a group like #momsrunning.  I've met great ladies there who really encourage me (thanks @timeoutmom and @fitcheerldr)
  • find someone to hold you accountable and to encourage you.  I run by myself but I text and/or Twitter about my runs.  People want you to succeed.  Well, normal people do anyway. 
  • I run in the early morning so I let my husband know how long I'll be gone and my route.  That way he knows when to worry
  • I didn't load up on gear.  I run in the shoes that I did the 3 Day in.  And I had cold weather gear from the 3 Day (thank you Buffy).  But I did buy a thing that straps my iPhone to my arm.
  • read all you can about running and cross training.  It will help keep you motivated and improve your training. 
  • load your iPod or other MP3 player with music that will get you moving.  Think of all the 'trash' no one wants to listen to but you.  I have rap music from college,  Broadway show tunes, and teen pop princesses.  And I have it on shuffle so I never know what's coming next.
  • I've found that chewing gum helped me learn to breath through my nose and not pant like a dog.
  • I'm a dancer by nature so somethings I swing my arms or do arm dancing routines for a change of pace.

Friday, January 22, 2010


This is my Brenno monkey.  He's delicious or so says the nurse at the Pulmonary clinic.  He looks healthy, right?   Well, actually not so much.

He's 18 months old.  He's had pneumonia three times.  The first battle was at 6 months old at Christmas.  That following January, he stopped growing.  He didn't gain any weight from January to June 2009.  He put on a few lbs last summer.  Randomly in October, he started eating and gained more weight.  He's even got a little belly these days.

But we are still battling the respritory issues.  We finally got into the Pulmonary Clinic at Children's Hospital a couple of weeks ago.  Dr. Williams there was fabulous.  He thinks that Brennan has asthma (like my other 2 boys).  But, Brennan also has several markers for Cystic Fibrosis.  So we needed to rule it out.
I took Brennan to Children's for the sweat test on Monday.  I was not prepared for that test.  First of all, the nurse did not explain what was happening during the test.  And she kept call Brennan Brandon.  Oh no you didn't!

The short version is that the test is horrible.  It involved things that look very similar to jumper cables.  There was a lot of crying.  And Brennan didn't like it either.

We thought we'd have results on Tuesday.  No such luck.  Wednesday also came and went with no news.  I was totally edgy.  I slept a lot (that's my  body's natural reaction to stress) but did not feel rested.  So, Thursday morning I called the doctor's office (again) and left another message.
Our sweet nurse, Linda called back within an hour.  She had been out sick all week and still sounded terrible.  She reported that she couldn't find the results but she was looking.  I was about to lose it.  I needed a Diet Coke IV drip.

In about another hour, Linda called back and I took the call in the middle of class.  (See, I break rules from time to time.)  She started out by telling me what is considered normal.  I thought "We are in big trouble."  Brennan's score is 35.  Normal is 0-40.  Most doctors like to retest at 30.  Dr. Williams is out until Monday so she doesn't know if he'll want to retest.  OK, thanks I say.


I was pretty upset.  But then my Twitter friend Myra reminded me "hold on to normal part.  hear that - not the high".  Then I spoke to Ryan he finished talking me off the ledge.

This morning I feel good.  Brennan doesn't have CF.  I feel rested.  My stomach isn't in knots.
Indeed, life with Brenno is delicious!

Here are all 3 boys on Christmas morning in the snow for good measure:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My blog situation

2010 is a year of change.  Only positive ones allowed.    At the end of 2009, I decided to close down my website, Organized Momma.  I had a big feeling of relief.  I had new projects going and my heart wasn't into Organized Momma any longer.  Plus, I haven't been feeling like a great example of organized motherhood.  Organized choas maybe...

I didn't think about the fact that I had my blog on the OM server.  So, I can't get to it.  I wasn't worried at first.  I had started another blog.  I thought I was good to go.   It's Sunny In The Middle is really about books and being a middle school teacher.  So, when I was asked to write a guest blog post about being a beginning runner, I started thinking about my blog situation. 

I logged into ISITM to post a book review on The Dark Divine yesterday and saw that I had another blog "Organized Momma's freebies"  that I had never set up.  I changed it to "Outnumbered" and here we are.

Outnumbered will be about my mom life.  Writing, Baseball, Football, Gadgets, Boys, Husband - all the things that are important to me. 


School's back in session and I have 3 book reviews waiting in the wings.  But first, please indulge me in some musing.
2010 (two thousand ten or twenty ten, your call) WILL be a good year!  That's not wishful thinking, it's fact.  2009 stunk worse than 3 day old fish.  I'll recap for you:

started year worn out from Brennan's Christmas pnuemonia, moving to NY, opps...not moving, hubby laid off instead, Brennan can't stop pooping (TMI I know), hubby out of work, assorted illness for Brennan,  part time job ended sooner than expected, lost 35 pounds, $2000 in dental work for Zac, landed really excellent job, had to wait to start really excellent job, part time job landed, have to stop feed Brennan food - formula only, Brennan bout 2 with pneumonia, hubby starts new 'temp' job, turn 35, finally start excellent job, feel like a middle schooler all over again trying to make friends at the excellent new job, Sam and Zac get swine flu, various financial difficulties, Brennan bout 3 with pneumonia, Breast Cancer 3 Day, asthma fall out, hubby decides 'temp' job is THE one, Brennan decides to eat and grow, freaking about holiday money, holiday money arrives just in time.

So, that's the short version.  Many ups but many many downs.  But Thanksgiving brought an amazing up.

For years, I have wanted to write.  I wrote as a young girl.  I won a poem contest in elementary school (my dog makes me smile, he makes me smile for a mile, he makes me grin until I'm ten, I love my dog).  Impressive since I remember writing it the morning it was due and had no dog at the time (did not have a dog until high school).  I won a Stuart Hall writing contest about the school of the future.  Honorable Mention, I think.  I remember writing the essay but not the subject matter.  Schools of the future, maybe?  Then I forgot about it until huge box of Stuart Hall school supplies arrived.  I hadn't told anyone I had entered the contest, didn't keep a copy of the essay, couldn't remember the contents of the essay.   But LOVED the free school supplies.  I wrote an entire series of books (or maybe short stories) about boy and girl twins - Fred and Rita.  They did the things I did but the outcomes were better.  I never showed them to anyone.  I wish I knew where those notebooks are.

I don't know why I gave up creative writing.  But I did.  Probably some crappy teacher hurt my feelings.  Who knows.  But, as you may have guessed, I enjoy it but I'm EXTREMELY shy about anyone reading what I write.

Two years ago I wrote 2 picture books.  I took a junk course about selling a book.  I followed all the instructions.  I spend a good deal of money to go to New York to Book Expo America to try to sell it (as instructed by the course - course was not related to BEA).  My instructions were to walk up to people and tell them about my books.  OMG - I cried everyday after a day at BEA.  My feet hurt, I was alone in NYC (see country mouse, city mouse story) and I was trying to do something foriegn to me.

So, again, I put writing away.  Until Thanksgiving 2009.  Before Thanksgiving I decided that I needed to read more.  And I decided to start this blog to review books out of our school library.  During this process, I stumbled upon the Young Adult Book Central website.  Somehow from there I ended up on Twitter following Kimberly Pauley and Myra McEntire.  I felt extremely stalker-ish.  Then, to up the stalker ante, I started reading Myra's blog.  She seems a lot like me.  I enjoy her humor and style of writing.  But what's been most helpful is her openness about her journey in writing.  It gave me hope. And something to do.

In the meantime the Friday before Thanksgiving, while in the shower (TMI again sorry) I got THE IDEA.  A sweet young girl named Caley started talking to me in my head.  I had been waiting for years for THE IDEA.  And here it was finally.  What the heck do I do with it now?  Well, I started writing down what was in my head.  And I remembered Myra. She blogged about reading about the craft of writing.

As usual around the holidays, time flew.  I thought of Caley often and wrote down what came up.  But I've never written anything long.   I wasn't sure what to do.  So, I put Caley up and headed back to Myra's blog to find the name of the books she recommended.  I had blown my 'play/me' money on new jeans so I turned to the library.  (the quest for this book in another story)

I checked out Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and How I Write by Janet Evanovich.  I read Evanovich first.  Very helpful.  Quick read. Good stuff.  Then last night after the kidlit chat on Twitter (another Myra recommendation), I started reading Plot and Structure.  WOW!  The first page was written directly to me.  How sweet of Mr. Bell.  I am excited to continue reading, learn the craft and give Caley the voice she needs.

So, there 2009. 2010 is gonna kick your tail.  And if all goes well, 2013 or 2014 or 2015 (or whenever) will see Caley in bookstores.  And maybe I'll be able to inspire a stranger to run out to a library at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday (the library closes at 6) to get a book that changes his or her life.  Thanks Myra!