Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DIY with B, part 2

As you know, B and I did some DIY-ing last weekend.  If you haven't read the first post, please go back and see our epic fail.

Besides the candy, B really wanted to make cereal.  The girl on the video ensured that it would easy and delicious. She also claimed you could change the world by changing the things you add to the cereal after it's done.  B was hooked - he wants to change the world.  I was skeptical, at best, after the candy.

Skeptical or not, I trotted off to the dollar store to gather the ingredients.  The girl was right about one things, the ingredients weren't expensive - oats, butter, sugar and salt.  I also picked up a foil baking pan because she cooked her cereal in a roasting pan and I don't have one of those.

B was able to help more with this recipe as it did not involve constantly stirring a 200 degree liquid.  Nor did it include pouring a 300 degree liquid. Here he is getting the foil because we're supposed to cook the oats with the lid on.

The recipe was very easy.  The challenging part for B was that the oats have to cook for 45 minutes with the lid on then another 15 minutes with the lid off.  But he kept himself busy getting ready for the cereal.

He found a box, because cereal comes in a box, duh! He quickly realized he couldn't make a fish stick box look like a cereal box so he grabbed some paper.  He decided to call his cereal Jungle Flakes.  He decorated it with pictures of characters from the Jungle Book.

It was getting late, for me, by the time the cereal was done.  I was done.  It was probably 9:30, I'm not a night owl.  I wanted to let the cereal sit over night.  B wasn't having it. Thankfully, Zac is a bit of a chef so he stepped in to help while I went to bed.  

They wanted to dehydrate some bananas to go in the cereal but decided instead to put in some dried strawberries and bananas we bought at Sam's Club earlier that day.  They also added Craisins.  
When I got up Sunday morning, I was impressed.  The cereal looked good.  It was in a ziploc baggie inside the fish stick/Jungle Flake box. Because that's how cereal comes, mom! In a bag inside a box.  I tried some and it was pretty good.  Ryan and the boys liked it too. 

B was so proud of his cereal! He took 2 baggies of cereal to his teachers Monday morning.  I was just happy that it turned out the way he anticipated. He loves watching those DIY/hacking videos and loves to try things out.  Sometimes I put him off - we've got some place to be, we don't have the supplies, I don't want to make anything right now.  I'm glad I didn't put him off this weekend. 

He learns so much by doing.  With the candy he learned that things don't have to go exactly right to be good.  That's a lesson he needs every day! With the cereal, he learned that he could create something for other people to enjoy.  He can't verbalize those lessons yet but I could see it.  

And nothing bets the look of accomplishment when he showed off his creations to his brothers.  Or when Ryan poured a bowl of Jungle Flakes for breakfast Monday morning!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

DIY with B, part 1

B's favorite thing to do, right now, is to watch 'hacks' on YouTube.  These are DIY videos of all sorts - food, crafts, repurposing/upcycling, anything.  All. The. Things.

When he finds one he really likes, he comes to me begging to do them.  Often times, I say no.  We don't have the supplies.  Or it's too complicated.  Or I just don't want to mess with it.  On Saturday, I decided not to say no.

He found a video where a lady made a giant lollipop and he wanted to make one too.  I actually had most of the food ingredients.  She said to use food coloring and food flavoring. I decided we'd use jello to cover both.  The next issue was the mold.  She used some kind of pink tray and a large dowel rod.  B didn't want a giant lollipop, he want a normal sized one.

While I was looking around for something to use as a mold, B announced he had something - the plastic tray from the sour straws he had at the football game Friday night.  He also had coffee stirrers from Starbucks for the sticks. I tried to explain that the hot lollipop mixture (it has to get to 300 degrees) would melt that plastic.  He wasn't have it.  I could not convince him.  So we forged ahead.  Some things you have to learn by doing.

Making the mixture was easy.  Waiting for it to get to 300 degrees was not so easy.  B ended up going to play while I watched the candy thermometer. I called him back to the kitchen when it was time.

He only wanted the sour straw mold but I knew we'd have a lot of mixture left so I got out my Texas A&M Jell-O molds out.  I poured into the sour straw mold first and, sure enough, it began to shrivel. Hot lollipop magma poured out onto my counter top.  I poured into the first A&M mold. It didn't shivrel put it did kinda bend in.  I poured into the second A&M mold and everything seemed ok.  All this took just about 30 seconds.  Here's what it looked like.


I decided to let it cool before I tried to clean up the mess.  By this time, B had lost interest.  He watched the sour straw tray melt and he was done.

About 30 minutes later, I came back to the kitchen. The puddles left by the sour straw tray melting came right up with a spatula.

I decided to throw away the first A&M mold.  As you can see from the pictures, the hot candy lava melted right through the mold onto my cabinets.  But that mess came up easily too.

The second A&M mold actually produced candy. I was able to pop them out pretty easily.  B came running back for that.  He was so excited.

All in all, not a bad way to spend some time on a Saturday morning.  The mess was minimal. He didn't get a lollipop but he got some cool looking candy.  They taste pretty good, too. They are big so you can't put the whole thing in your mouth.  The big boys tried them and liked them.

The best part was when B said "Record this!" and introduced our candy to the world.  Here he is...

Sometimes, it's best to learn by doing.  Join us tomorrow to see B's next DIY creation.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Communication with B

B-man is quite verbal.  It's actually kinda hard to get him to be quiet.  Sometimes he's chattering away and he's not talking to anyone in particular.

This was not always the case.  At one time I told our doctor "He has 2 words - Daddy for Ryan and Dada for me." Only to be told, that's only one word.  Communicating with B then was difficult.  I never knew for sure what he wanted.  If we were in the car and he finished his bottle or a sippy cup and wanted more, he threw the cup at the back of my head.  I used to carry a huge backpack full of things he might want, plus toys for other kids to play with so they wouldn't try to play with his special toys. I was constantly trying to guess what he might want or need. It was exhausting.

The summer he turned 3 he had an explosion of language.  It was like a switch flipped.  He was talking a lot more all of a sudden.  But, as I listened, I realized he wasn't saying much.  He was mainly repeating what he's heard us say, or lines from a movie, or parts of a YouTube video.

This is still B's main communication method.  He reuses things he's heard. Lately, most of his lines are from YouTube videos.  It's called echolalia.  I'm not real thrilled with Google's definition of what it is but here it is...

As you can see in the definition, it's common for kids learning to talk.  And that's the key. B has mastered the skill of talking.  However, he's still struggling with the art of communication. 

He can't always tell you why something is bothering him.  He can't give us details of his day.  Although, I will say this has gotten better but there are still holes.  

But what he can do is use lines from YouTube videos and movies and from us to try to express himself.  This is sometimes called scripting.  Many autistic people have scripts that they repeat over and over.  B-man doesn't do this.  So, it makes it difficult to tell if he's repeating something he's heard or not.

When we went to meet his teachers last week, he had his Tsum-Tsums with him.  One of the teachers asked what they were, she had never seen them.  He launched into a Tsum-Tsum commercial.  He even changes the tone of his voice to match the tone of the commercial. There was no mistaking that he was repeating a commercial.  It was so cute.

On the first day of school, he told me "I'm nervous and excited all at once."  I was blown away.  He had never expressed himself like that before.  He was right on target.  He had watched some videos on YouTube kids about emotions.  And he applied what he learned to himself.  I almost cried.  I was able to tell him that those emotions were right on target, that's how most people feel on the first day of school.

I try to remember, and I try to remind others, that just because B is talking, doesn't mean he's communicating. For me this means, that I still have to ask the adults at school to fill in the holes of his day.  It means that they need to call me to ask why I think he reacted a certain way in a certain situation.  It sometimes means waiting a while to try to process things with him.  Sometimes he can tell me later about a situation that he couldn't express in the moment.  

Whatever it means, we are willing to do it. We want to know what he's thinking and feeling, even if he's recycling the words from a video.  I want to know what's going on in that awesome little mind of his.  I suspect I'd get more than I bargained for.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Sunday night we took the boys out to eat as a kind of end of summer celebration.  At one point I looked around and no one was talking.  I had already asked them questions about the upcoming school year and gotten short answers, so I didn't want to keep asking questions and feel like I was grilling them.  It was hurtful.  I felt like a bad mom.  Look at my family sitting here in silence while families all around us were talking and laughing.  What am I doing wrong?

The boys did eventually start talking.  But I couldn't shake the bad mom feeling.  So, I decided to do something I got from my sister in law, who got it from another friend of ours.  I decided to do a prayer journal with each one of them.

Once they were in bed, I went into their room and sat with them.  I asked them for 3 things they were thankful for and 3 things they were worried about (I modified for B - 1 worry and 2 thankful).  I wrote the things in the journal then we prayed.

Wow! I got more than I bargained for.  More than I had expected.

At dinner I had thought, "Do they even like each other?" During our prayer time I found out they are all thankful for our family.  I was also touched that both the older boys are faithful for their faith.  Their thankfulness encouraged me.

I also found out the things that are hurting my boys' hearts.  And it crushed me.  I cried with them. I prayed with them and I held them close.  After the last boy I sat on the stairs crying and praying. I was so overwhelmed.  I don't know what to do to ease their pain. I'm not sure how to help them.  This had done nothing to relieve my feelings of being a bad mom.  I crawled into my bed and fell asleep praying and crying.

All I can do is pray and ask God to guide Ryan and I.  Ask Him to lead us as we lead them.  This verse was in my reading this morning:

There's not always a way to fix things right this minute.  But, I can stand firm in my faith.  Keep praying.  Keep asking God to lead my boys.  Keep begging Him to lead Ryan and I.

But the bottom line is: let all that you do be done in love.  I have to lead from a place of love.  I have to show them how to live in love even when you're hurting.  We all know the adage, "Hurt people hurt people." I don't want the things that are worrying or hurting my boys to lead them to hurt others. I want them to operate from love.

So, today I pray, "LORD, help me to lead my boys in love.  Let them do all things out of love."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

First Day, 2016

Yesterday was the first day of school for the 2016-2017 school year.  For those of you keeping score at home, I now have a 9th grader, a 7th grader and a 2nd grader.  That's one on each campus in our district.

I dropped Sam and B off at football practice and morning program, respectively, yesterday morning and walked into the middle school alone.  Zac works out on Monday mornings so Ryan brought him later.  It was odd to walk into my school alone.  I only saw Zac by accident in the late afternoon.  I had to talk to his English/Language Arts teacher and got to catch a glimpse of him in class.

Emotionally, it was a strange day for me.  I wondered what B and Zac were doing through out the day but I wasn't worried about them.  I was worried about Sam the most. High School can be a scary place.  I wondered if he was able to get to all his classes.  The HS is on a block schedule so I prayed that he went to the right classes.

I heard from Sam around lunch because I had texted him to let him know there was money in his lunch account.  He reported that the morning was "alright" and said thank you when I told him to have a good afternoon.  He's a man of few words...

Towards the end of my day, I received this awesome text from B's teacher.  It was such a relief.  I knew he was happy if he was able to make something.  I didn't realize how much I missed him until I got her text.  I was anxious to hear how the day went.

I have to say, the afternoon/evening was the strangest part of the day.  B & I came home together.  Then Ryan came home. Then Zac came home from middle school football practice.  Then Ryan left to go coach 2nd grade football (the team that B's supposed to be on but he's not...).  Finally, Sam got home from high school football practice.  We were not all home together until 8:30 when Ryan got back from football practice.  And even then, Zac was asleep.

The evenings will be the biggest adjustment for me this year, I think. Dinner will be more grab and go.  I'm going to have to work hard to keep making dinner.  Sometimes I don't cook if it's just B and I.  We eat PB & J.  But that's not ok for Ryan and the Bigs.  I'm going to have to get used to them eating at different times.  And alone.

How was your first day back?  What adjustments will you need to make this year?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Inside the Backpack

Today, we're going to peek into B's backpack.

The Backpack
First, a word about the backpack.  I don't mind spending money on a backpack because it get used every day.  I like to get the big boys a nice backpack that will last.  With B, I don't worry about that as much. I let him choose the backpack. If it falls apart midway through the year, that's cool.  I just want him to like the backpack and want to carry it.  This is a big deal for us as he doesn't like to carry much of anything. He likes to pass stuff off to me or Ryan or the boys. He can't do that at school so he has to buy into the backpack.  This year's winner was the Super Mario backpack which cracks me up because he has never played Super Mario.  

Double Sided Tape
Our awesome PTA offers a school supply package.  You pay for it in the Spring and it's waiting on the first day of school at your kid's desk with everything the teacher wanted.  No scouring the back to school aisle at Target trying to guess what the teacher meant.

Last year we had a new principal at B's school. He and I went to meet her.  She asked him what he didn't like about school.  He said he didn't like using glue.  Immediately, she said "have you used double sided tape?" What an awesome idea! I was shocked that in the previous 3 years of his school career, none of us had thought of that!  So now, 3 packs of double sided tape are in my Amazon list of items I repurchase regularly (along with melatonin - gotta sleep!).

B will ride the bus twice a day this year.  In the morning from the before school program to the elementary school then in the afternoon from the elementary school to the middle school.  These are short rides but painful for him.  Hopefully, the headphones will help him cope.

Storage Clipboard
This houses all B's support resources described below

Feelings Chart
B can use this to tell his teacher how he's feeling.  A couple of years ago he asked me to make this one using the characters from 7D on Disney.

Activity Chooser
Based on the feelings chart, B and his teacher can use activities to help him get back to center.  I also send the book these things are based on - "How Does Your Engine Run?"

Take Five
This book contains a wide variety of activities that can be used with all students to provide sensory input and help them regulate. I've gone through the book and highlighted things that seem to work with B.

Visual Schedule
This helps B feel in control of his day.  It can be set up with the morning's activities.  He moves them to the finished pocket when they are completed.  With a visual schedule, B knows what is coming next and feels a sense of accomplishment at all he's able to put in the pocket.

I'll be honest, all these supports are not always used.  Sometimes B does need them. Sometimes he doesn't want them. Sometimes things just move too fast and they get forgotten.  But I always leave them in his backpack.  They are always there as a resource for his teachers.  I want his teachers to know how much we appreciate and support them.  We want to do our part to make his time at school as smooth as possible.

What's in your child's backpack? Tell us in the comments!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School Prep, autism edition

I started back to work this week.  Which can only mean, next week is the first week of school.  I'm a nerd, I like school.  But I also love the lazy days of summer. I love hanging out with my boys and taking a nap whenever the urge strikes.  But our family thrives on routine and the school year brings that normalcy back to our lives.  Today I want to share some things that we do to get B ready for back to school.

Talk it Up
The week before I go back, we start talking up school.  "School's about to start! Are you excited?" And we try to get back to a bed time routine.  But I don't stress if we can't do it. The main thing at this point is to get school back on B's radar.

Meet the Teacher
Our district does a Meet the Teacher night the Thursday before school starts.  We do not attend this.  There are lots of people at the Meet the Teacher and it can be chaotic.  Instead, I email our principal and ask if B can come meet his teacher Friday afternoon after staff development.  This has always worked well.

On Friday afternoon when we go to meet the teacher, we don't stay long.  Long enough for B to see his new room, explore a little bit and for us to talk to the teacher for a few minutes.  It's not a full blown conference.  Usually the teacher has some things she needs us to fill out.  I like to let them know that B's first response is no but if you tell him what you want him to do and walk away, 90% of the time, he'll comply.  If you argue or fight with him, you're doomed.  We also like to give B time to tell his teacher things.  Usually he tells about his latest obsession but it's important for him to be a part of the conversation. We want B to be his own advocate.  Our teachers and administrators are great at this.  They almost always speak to B first, then to us.  I love it!

This year our morning routine will be different.  My school will start much earlier than B's so he'll go our district's morning program.  We'll visit that area Friday afternoon as well.

Talk it Up Some More
All this helps make Monday morning smoother. B knows what to expect and I know what to talk to him about.  All weekend and Monday morning while we're getting ready, I'll be talking to him "When you go into Raider Station each morning, XYZ will happen." "Remember ___________ in Mrs. ________'s room? That's going to be so cool this year!"

What things to do you to help your autistic kiddo get ready for the school year?

Tomorrow I'll give you a peek into B's backpack.  You'll get to see what I sent to school with him every day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thank you, JCPenney

This past Sunday morning, I was able to take B-man shopping for back to school clothes at JCPenney.  This may not seem remarkable but it truly was!

A friend shared this announcement on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I was so excited! I RSVPed for B-man, my momma (Nene) and I to go.  I was so impressed when Cydya Thomas emailed back.  Her title is Sr. Specialist Inclusion and Diversity.  JCPenney has employees focused on inclusion and diversity.  I thought that was awesome!

We would have to miss worship service that morning but we'd make it in time for small group if all went well.

And it did!!

We got there a little before 9 am.  The store opened right on time at 9.  There were employees to greet us in a friendly, nonthreatening way.  They had donuts, water and fruit snacks available.  They made sure to note on a sign that the fruit snacks were gluten free for those who have sensitivities.

No music was playing in the store.  About half of the lights were off.  It was very calming.  I had never realized how distracting all that was.  B, Nene and I went straight for the little boys section.

B picked out one shirt and he was done.  He laid down on the floor.  I kept shopping.  Ordinarily, I'd be trying to get him off the floor but this morning was different. I knew the other shoppers in the store would not care that B was on the floor.  So I let him lay there.

Nene and I picked out some things that we knew he'd wear, mostly t-shirts and athletic shorts.  I offered him some things that I thought were cute but not his usual, like some plaid shorts, and was rejected.  I did get him to try on a zip up sweatshirt.  He didn't want it at first but once he tried it on, he reported that it was 'nice and cozy'. I let him pick out two silly t-shirts.  They both have cats on them.  I am not a cat person.  I blame my neighbor Lori for these shirts.  ;)

I was so happy to buy two goofy cat shirts, though.  Ordinarily, we would not have made it to that part.  B would have melted down, I would have felt anxious, we would have left with one or two things that I grabbed off the first rack I saw.  If we bought anything at all.  Also, I would have been sweaty, and embarrassed.

Instead, I left calm, cool and collected.  B has several new pairs of shorts, t-shirts, underwear and socks.  Because JCPenney decided to think differently about their customers, we were blessed.  JCPenney gave me the luxury of time, comfort and two goofy cat shirts.  And I am so thankful.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I am a world class worrier.  And it bothers me immensely.  I know all the worry platitudes:
Worry does not empty tomorrow of it's sorrow. It empties today of it's joy.

Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.

Then there's Matthew 6:25-34

I know the antidote to worry is to focus on God.  He is so very good at being God and I am not.  He knows the answers to my worry.  I forget that I am not God and I feel like I need the answer to my worries RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE.

Over the past week I've been worried about some pretty big things.  I don't want to talk about what those are because I know that most of the things that I worry about will never happen.  Yesterday was particularly hard. My stomach was upset. My head hurt.  I could not concentrate.  I have a ton of things to do for the beginning of the school year but I could not do any of them.

I took to my bed.  But instead of escaping into mindless TV or just going to sleep, I prayed.  After one prayer, I didn't feel better.  So I kept going.  I probably laid there an hour.  Praying and breathing.  I started feeling better. I got up.  I tried to do some work.

Then this morning in my Bible study this verse came up...

My temptation is to worry.  But God provides a way to face it.  It can't always be laying in my bed for an hour (oh the joy of summer!).  But He is always there.  That much I do not have to worry about!

Do you struggle with worry?  What do you do when you are worried?


I am so blessed to be a part of the staff at cLife Church.  I came on board last summer to start the special needs ministry and I've enjoyed every minute of it.  Everyone has been so supportive of the special needs ministry and excited about it's inception.

The only rub is that I am part time.  I also work at school supporting teachings with technology and problem based learning.  I miss out on a lot of things at church. I don't get to go to staff meetings.  I don't get to build relationships with other staff members by working in the same space.  I do my work from home at night and on the weekends.

cLife's annual staff retreat was this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and I was thrilled that I was able to attend.   First of all, I was excited to be included since I work part time.  Second, I was excited to just hang out with everyone.  I was not disappointed.

Sunday afternoon Ryan was able to go with me to spend some time with the staff and spouses.  I was glad that he got to put some names with faces.  And it was nice for the two of us to have a few hours to relax with other adults. Ryan went home Sunday night before an epic game of Empires!

The remainder of the time the staff played, reflected and relaxed. It was so cool to be a part of the discussions. I'm not good at doing anything part time or part way. I'm an all in kinda gal. There are times when I feel disconnected from the rest of the staff. Not at the retreat. 

I especially loved spending time with the other women on staff. Some of us traveled to Atlanta for the Orange conference in May. Some of us were together at preteen camp. It was nice to all be together in a more relaxed environment. We watched chick flicks. We watched the Olympics. We told stories. We laughed - A LOT! 

I'm pretty good at feeling awkward. And I did feel a bit awkward for the first ten minutes or so. After that, I felt at home, welcomed, and part of the team. 

My favorite part of the retreat was our prayer time. We were divided into groups of 4. I was with 3 gentlemen that I know but that I don't work with on a regular basis. We each shared 3 prayer requests: one personal, one professional and one for the church. I felt totally comfortable sharing my heart with them. I enjoyed praying for them as well. 

I am so glad that God brought our family to cLife 5 years ago and allowed me to join the staff last year. I'm looking forward to what God is doing through our church and I'm blessed to play the role He has provided for me. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I'm not so smart

I like for my stuff to reflect who I am.  I love to personalize things. I love to monogram things.  Oh, how I love to monogram!  And I love to put stickers on my laptop.  It just makes me happy.

My laptop I use the most belongs to the school where I work.  I don't want to put stickers on someone else's computer.  To solve this problem, I've always purchased a hard snap-on case and sticker that up.  Last September I got a new laptop from the school.  So I headed over to Amazon to order a case.

The laptop I've been issued is a MacBook Pro.  When closed, the Pro is a rectangle.  At school we have MacBook Airs.  When those are closed, they are kinda triangular.  The back is wider than the front.

When the first case I ordered from Amazon arrived, it seemed to be triangular.  It seemed to come to a point at the end.  I tried it out and it didn't fit.  I messaged Amazon and they sent another.  Same as the first.  They sent another.  Same as the first.  I quit and got my money back.

My mom ordered a case from eBay.  Same story.  It seemed to come to a point.  I sent it back and resigned myself to having no case, no stickers.

I remember being frustrated. I kept thinking, "This is a factory error. Someone mismarked these.  I need an actual person who packed these, not just a middle man/store."

Fast forward to this summer.  I've been on Etsy quite a bit.  I thought I'd give the case another go.  I figured if I ordered from Etsy I'd have a person to talk to vs. a customer service rep.

The first one came.  Triangular again.  I put it on and it covered the CD ROM opening.  I took a picture and sent it to the seller. They sent another one.  Same thing.  They sent a third.  The tops fit.  The tops actually have the model number stamped on.  It's just the bottom that didn't fit.  The CD ROM opening was covered.

I took a picture of the bottom with the other 2 cases stacked underneath and sent it off the Etsy shop.  Then I got this message in return.

Good gravy!! I was so embarrassed!  I turned the case around and it worked perfectly!

I apologized profusely and offered to return the other 2 cases that obviously fit, if used correctly. The company was very generous and understanding.

It got me thinking about all the things I think I know.  I just knew that these cases were for MacBook Airs! It never occurred to me that I was doing something wrong.  I never once asked how to install the cover.  Sometimes I think I know what the outcome is going to be so I don't bother to listen. Sometimes I don't even bother to start the conversation.  Maybe it's time I stop worrying about what I know and start asking the right questions and listening to the answers...

Thursday, August 4, 2016


I love to be comfy.  Jeans and a t-shirt.  Shorts and a t-shirt. Yoga pants and a t-shirt.  Pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.  I have beautiful friends who get up every morning and pull together a beautiful outfit, complete with flawless make up and perfect hair (even perfectly messy hair).  That's gotta be some kind of spiritual gift.  All I know is that I don't have it.

If I'm going to work, I'll muster up a work appropriate cutish outfit - thanks in large part to my momma who works at Steinmart.  But as soon as I get home - back to comfy.  In the summer it's all comfy all the time. Even at church now it's jeans and t-shirt so I can get in the floor with my Valuable kiddos.

It's not just clothes that make us comfortable.  Clothes are just the finishing touch.  If you aren't comfortable with your yourself,  no clothes can fix that.  Everything will feel binding. We have to be comfortable with who we are in all areas.

I turned 42 last Monday.  Comfort has been seasonal for me.  Some times I have it, some times I don't.  I'm not ashamed to say that I've let others or situations determine my comfort level in the past. And it always involved comparison.  "Look at her.  I don't look like that."  "I don't have that thing that everyone else has.  I feel stupid."  "Everyone is doing that and I'm not.  I feel left out."

We can all recognize these as lines we said to our teenage selves.  But I'm telling you that I said them to my 35 year old self.  And my 40 year old self.  And my 42 year old self.  These are straight up adult lines for me. I'd like to think that I've handled it better as an adult than I did as a teen but, really, I have no idea if I fooled anyone.  But I know for sure, I feel uncomfortable a lot if I hide it well or not.

I would love to give you a 5 part plan to become more comfortable with yourself.  A one and done solution.  But I ain't got one.

"Awesome Aimee.  You are totally helpful.  I'm super glad I took the time read your blog today!" Hold up! I do have something for you.  One thing I know for sure:

"Ummm, excuse me Aimee.  I thought we were talking about comfort, not joy." (You're humming the Christmas carol now, aren't you?)

I know! Just hang with me a minute.  As the Christmas carol implies, comfort and joy are closely related (you're full out singing now, right?) I don't know for sure, but I don't think the song is wishing for physical comfort.  I think it's referring to spiritual comfort.  Knowing who you are, knowing whose you are and being at peace with both things.  And when we get to that place, joy is right around the corner.

That's a daily exercise.  Reminding myself of who I am and whose I am.  Sometimes it's an hourly exercise.  But I'm working on it.  Because I'm all about being comfortable.

Give me that comfort, that joy, a soft t-shirt and my Chuck Taylors and I can rule the world!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Service + PreTeen Camp

My Why is service.  I love to serve people.  I love it so much I had it tattooed on my wrist.  Actually, I had it tattooed to remind me of how much I love to serve when others are being grumpy or hard to serve.

Last week my servant muscles got a good stretch.  I attended preteen camp with our church.  My original intention in going was to serve our special needs kids and help make camp enjoyable for them.  We've never done that before so we weren't sure how that would look or what kind of support the kids going would need.  So, I was also slated to be a 3rd grade girl counselor.

I am not going to lie.  I was super nervous about the 3rd grade girl part.  I am a boy mom.  The last time I was with 26 girls overnight, I was one.

Our group of 26 were actually split into 2 community groups.  I had a junior leader to help me.  Who am I kidding?  She ran the thing.  She's the most with it high school senior I've met.  I would not have made it without her! The other group's 2 leaders were newbies like me.  We were learning as we went!

I struggled to balance giving the girls freedom and being their momma.  Many of them were away from home for the first time so they needed someone to say "do this now".  On the other hand, this is camp.  Their chance to explore and have fun.  Our main challenge was being slow and late to everything!  But camp wasn't too regimented so it wasn't the end of the world to be a little late.  It actually worked out at dinner because they gave our free ice cream towards the end of dinner time.  Lots of "on time" groups had already left the dining hall before the free ice cream.  A couple of nights we ate ice cream before dinner!

As He always does, God provided for me and protected me.  We had no girl/friendship/she's leaving me out drama.  All the girls wanted their hair braided.  The other 3 counselors can braid hair like nobody's business.  I can not.  This gave me a chance to lay on my bed and rest.

Rest was my main trouble.  I had late nights with one of my special needs kiddos and early mornings with my girls.  I yearned for a nap the entire week.  In fact, I'm still sleepy.

But Thursday night made everything worth it!!  2 girls in our community group accept Jesus as their LORD and Savior.  I was so privileged and humbled to be able to answer their questions and pray with them.

I am so glad that God let me serve Him, 26 3rd grade girls and 4 special needs kids last week. I'm almost ready to do it again.  Let me take a few more naps and I'll be good to go.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

High School Football begins!

Yesterday my oldest started high school football workouts.  It's a day he's been waiting for for a long time.  Our middle school starts in 5th grade.  He thought he'd be on the middle school football team in 5th grade. Sorry buddy, school sports don't start until 7th grade!

A while back, I heard for KING & COUNTRY's song Fix My Eyes and fell in love with it.  The song is about a man giving his younger self advice.  I thought, I really want my boys to know these things.  I'll make a poster, I thought.  Then I thought about his friends.  We're close with their families and I knew their families want the same thing for them.  As is usually the case,  my brain started churning with an idea.

Sunday night we had his 5 best friends and their families over for dinner.  I wanted to celebrate their first step into high school.  I wanted them to know how proud we are of them and how much we love them.  I made a ton of spaghetti (leftovers - what what!!). I made a little speech and gave the boys the posters I made.  The mommas cried.  The dads smiled.  The boys looked at me like I'm alien then gave me the slow golf clap.  I would have expected nothing less from those goobers.

I am so excited for high school football.  I love watching my boy play.  I love watching him work hard towards his goal.  I love hanging out with my friends during the games.  I love seeing our little community come together on Friday nights.

What I love more are these boys. They are good kids.  Their parents have worked hard to make sure they are good kids.  They are not perfect.  Neither are their parents.  We all know the truth of who are and who our kids are.  But more than all that, they know WHOSE they are.  We work to point them towards God.  I love them.  I am proud of them.

If you'd like a PDF of the poster, you can download it here.