Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reaction, part 2

Yesterday I told you about my allergic reaction/anaphylactic shock.  While we were still in the ER, I was asking Ryan to send texts for me.  I asked him to let Laci know that I wasn't sure how I'd feel in the morning and that I'd need someone to cover for me at our Forney campus.  I really did not understand what had happened to me or what the fall out would be.

We slept in Sunday morning and then Ryan went to get my medicine.  They filled the steroid script, sent off for the Epi Pen and pointed him to over the counter Benadryl and Pepcid because our insurance would not pay for the prescription versions.  I don't think I mentioned yesterday that I received Pepcid in the ER.  The doctor explained that it's a blocker and it can also act as a antihistamine.  Zac started allergy shots this summer and we have to give him Pepcid before the shots but I just figured it was in case the shot upset his stomach.  It's actually a back up for Benadryl.

I slept most of the day Sunday.  My left eye did not open until after 8 pm - a full 24 hours after the initial incident.  I don't remember much of Sunday.  I have a selfie that I took in my home office so apparently I did some kind of work.

I got up Monday and went to work - sans makeup.  I think it's safe to say that my coworkers were horrified at my face.  I just thought, my eyes are open I'm good.  That lasted about 30 minutes.  Without the Benadryl my eye started to close so I went home.  Here's what I looked like before I left work...
That Monday was Columbus Day or Indigenous People Day, whichever you prefer. So my doctor was out.  Her practice has a policy that after an ER visit you can only see her or her assistant.  I made an appointment for Tuesday morning, took some Benadryl and drifted off.   Looking back on my texts, it's clear that I thought I'd go to the doctor Tuesday morning and be back to work Tuesday afternoon.

The trouble with that plan was that I kept getting a low fever.

My momma took me to the doctor Tuesday.  She said they did everything she would have done.  She wanted to make sure I had an Epi Pen.  I told her one had been ordered and would be there Tuesday afternoon.  We talked about what might have done this to me.  The ER doc thought something flew in my eye and stung me.  My doctor agreed.  She gave me a referral to Zac's allergist but also warned that we might never know what caused it.  Oh joy!

By the time Momma brought me home, I was toast.  Momma wanted to get me lunch. I didn't want to get out of the car.  As soon as we pulled in, the elementary school called to say that B had thrown up.  I didn't even entertain the idea that I would go get him.  I asked Momma to go.

Ryan brought home the Epi Pen Tuesday and everyone got to learn to use it on me.  This is when the gravity of the situation really sunk in.  I powered through but it was VERY upsetting to me.  I've cried relaying this part of the story to people.  I'm supposed to be the caregiver but here I am explaining to my boys how to save my life.

I went to work on Wednesday.  I do not remember one thing.  I only remember texting Ryan to say here are all the things I'm responsible for Wednesdays after school, I can't do any of them.  He took care of everything.  I went home as soon as the last bell rang.  I didn't sleep well that night.  My heart felt heavy.  I could feel it beating really hard in my chest.  Not fast, just hard.  And I couldn't get comfortable.

we had a Fair Food day at school Thursday
you can see the swelling in my neck here
I look like a have a huge double chin
I also worked on Thursday.  I don't remember much of that day either. I called the doctor about my heart.  She said that was a side effect of the steroid.  I only had one pill left so I stopped taking it.  I had a meeting at the administration building with the principals, assistant principals and other district level personnel.  When we got to the meeting room, I looked at my AP and said "I'm winded".  I got so flushed and light headed.  I thought I would pass out.  I excused myself and splashed water on my face.  I remember most of that meeting.  Thankfully, Zac didn't have a football game Thursday night.  Straight home to bed again.

Thursday afternoon I decided I would work half a day Friday.  I felt okay at home Friday morning. I was able to do some things around the house and rest.  But by the time I got to school, I was spent again.  We had a pep rally and students vs staff volleyball game at the end of the day.  Ryan came to watch Zac play in the game.  I met him in the gym.  I had been feeling woozy all day.  My left arm was numb and bothering me as well.  As soon as I sat down in the gym, I thought I was going to throw up.  I rushed out and spent the game in my office with the lights off.

I wasn't able to go to Sam's football game Friday night.  B & I stayed home and listened to the internet broadcast.  I slept on and off.  Saturday Zac had a baseball tournament.  I did not leave the house.  I cycled between the couch, the bed and the bathtub.  I felt dizzy and nauseous all day.  But my arm didn't feel numb or hurt.  This is a big deal for me.  I like to be at the boys' games if at all possible.  I once went to a baseball game feeling so bad that I eventually went to the ER - I had 2 ovarian cysts and a kidney stone.

I taught at both campuses Sunday then came home and rested.  Again, I felt dizzy a lot.

The best way to describe how I felt was foggy.  I just couldn't concentrate.  I've been to work everyday this week.  It's Wednesday night right now.  Today was a good day.  I've felt most like my old self today.  I suspect it will continue to get better each day.  I only had a little bit of a headache today and not as much brain fog.  I've been tired earlier in the evenings this week but that's improving as well.

The swelling moved from my eyes down my face all last week.  My hands and feet were swollen until Tuesday as well.  I've been able to wear my regular wedding ring Tuesday and Wednesday.  Last week I couldn't even wear a diamond band of my momma's that a full size bigger than my rings. 

As I said, the gravity of the situation didn't really sink in until well into it.  Now that I'm feeling better, I think I realize how bad I felt.  I wish I knew why I thought I could go to work on Monday.  In hindsight, I should probably have stayed home Wednesday or the entire day Friday at the least.  It was hard not knowing what to expect and something different bothering me each day.

It's hard not knowing what did this to me.  Thursday night will be the first time I spend any time outside when I go to Zac's football game.  I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous.  But I can't let fear rule.  I have the Epi Pen in my purse.  All my important people know how to use it.  I'm going to try to get back to my active momma lifestyle. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reaction, part 1

Sometimes things happen that change us.  Life becomes before and after.  Getting married.  Having a baby.  Moving to a new city.  All these things delineate a life.   Last Saturday night, I had an event like that, at least that's how it feels right now. 

On Saturday, October 7, I was working an event at church called FamFest.  It's an awesome event a little like a fall carnival.  One of our children's ministers, Laci, and I were welcoming families and handing out ziploc bags for kids to collect tickets in.  I felt something get in my left eye.  I figured it was dirty and I actually commented to Laci that something had blown in.  After a minute, I went inside to rinse my eyes out.  As I left the bathroom, I felt my lip begin to tingle and swell.  When I got back to Laci she said I didn't look right.  Another friend, Amy, suggested I go inside and get some children's Benadryl.

Laci walked me in and I chugged the Benadryl.  I called Ryan, told him I'd had an allergic reaction to something and asked him to come get me.  As I sat there waiting for him, I felt my sinuses begin to close.  Laci came back to check on me. I told her I felt like things were closing.  She wanted to call an ambulance.  I didn't want to cause a fuss and disrupt the event.  I told her Ryan was on his way.  Thankfully, she overrode me and called 911.  Also, thankfully, the ambulance agreed to come to the car wash in front of the church instead into the event. 

Ryan arrived and called my cell asking where to go.  I told him to come to the car wash.  He asked who this was.  He didn't recognize my voice.  He pulled up and got out to check on me.  He said I looked like I'd been in a fight.  By this time my eyes were swollen shut.  Ryan had Sam with him to drive my truck home and B-man was riding along.  I didn't want the boys to see me so Ryan kind of shielded me. 

The ambulance arrived and the paramedics led me in - my eyes were completely closed.  They started an IV of Benadryl.  I asked if I could pass out.  The EMTs said no, put an oxygen mask on me and decided to give me the Epi pen.  They had been talking about taking me the ER in Sunnyvale.  After the Epi pen they decided to take me to Forney.  I was able to remind them that they told Ryan they were taking me to Sunnyvale.  They said they needed to call the Forney ER but then they would call Ryan.  By the time they got back to me to ask Ryan's number, they couldn't understand me so I 'spelled' out his number with my fingers. 

I don't remember being taken out of the ambulance into the ER.  I just remember Ryan coming in.  My eyes weren't open yet so I could hear people but I don't know who all was in and out.  After a while my right eye started to open and I could see Ryan.  The ER doc told me that I had an anaphylactic shock.  My vitals were stable and my lungs were clear.  My trouble breathing had been closed airway, not respiratory distress.  He said the children's Benadryl probably helped prevent that.  (they did get on to me for not knowing how much I took.  I just drank it - apparently Hitch style - I haven't seen Hitch yet) The doctor said he was going to send me home with some prescriptions, one of which was an Epi pen.  He said the second time this happens will be worse (oh joy). 

So, home we went.  Here are some pictures from that night.  It's gross - you've been warned.

for reference, this is how I looked at 3:15 Saturday afternoon
this is me in the ER - yes Ryan asked before he took this

here I am at home on my way to bed

That Saturday night was just the beginning of the journey.  Come back tomorrow to hear about the aftermath. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


October 17, 1998

19 years ago today

Good gravy, 19 years is a long time but also it's been the blink of an eye.  Or maybe it hasn't.  I'm hard pressed to remember a time without Ryan Bartis. We dated for 3 years so we're actually 21 years into this adventure. 

This adventure.  This man.  This life.  What a blessing!

I'm trying to think of all the things we've learned these 19 years.  What pearls of wisdom could I offer you today?  Or maybe the pearls of wisdom should wait for next year.  For 20. 

Here's what I will tell you about Ryan Bartis.  He's my lobster.  He's who I want to call first.  I frame all my stories for him, "How will I tell Ryan this?"  He's responsible for my stories..."I don't think you should give up on writing just yet."  What a gift!

If you know Ryan you know he's a quiet guy.  Don't let that fool you.  He's quiet but he is fierce.  He's a fierce competitor and fiercely loyal.  And don't even think about crossing me or the boys, he will cut you! 

We totally thought we knew what we were doing when we got married.  We both knew what we would be when we grew up.  We had a plan.  So did God.  And, as usual, God's plan is so much better than ours.  There were moments that we couldn't see that goodness.  There have been dark times.  Face down in the carpet crying in the closet dark. 

We had a particularly rough patch at the beginning of our marriage, less than a year in.  I thought we wouldn't make it but we did.  And that's the last time I thought we'd divorce.  It just has never occurred to me that I wouldn't be married to Ryan Bartis.  I knew that whatever bad stuff was happening that something better was coming, and that no matter what, we could tackle it together. 

Maybe that's the pearl of wisdom - the lesson learned from 19 years - we're in this together.  We're better together. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Portal Master

Over a month ago B-man designed 3 new Skylanders.  He also wrote a letter to the engineers.  He explained the Skylanders to them - their powers and accessories and worlds.  He asked them to make the Skylanders and send him the prototypes.  He even looked up the address to send it to.  We learned how to address and envelope.

Of course, I had to add a little something.  I put his envelope in a larger envelope and included a letter of my own.  I translated his letter since his writing can be a little illegible.    And we mailed it off. 

Everyday, B-man checked the mail.  Everyday he asked "How much longer?"  I tried to explain that prototypes take a long time to create.  And I wondered if he would get a reply at all. 

Then Friday afternoon, a little box arrived. 

This is genius and makes my momma heart happy!  "Though we in Skylands cannot accept submissions from your world..."

B is over the moon!  The certificate is now in B's jar of prized possessions. 

I love creativity and this is a prime example.  They know their customers and how to make them happy.  And their mommas too! Well done, Skylanders!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hawkfish and God

B-man has been working on a new mythical creature. 

Last night he was at the dinner table working on it. 

"If I tell people that my new mythical creature exists is that a sin?" 

I had to do a double take.  Once he asked it again, I started to follow him. 

"If you tell people Hawkfish really exists you'd be lying, right?" I asked him. 


"Is lying a sin?"


"So what do you think?"

"I think I should tell people about it and say 'don't ask me if it really existed because I'm a Christian'"

Well, there ya go. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Present Over Perfect

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequest is a beautifully written memoir. Shauna talks about how she let her life get away from her and how she got it back.

It is not, however, a how to guide.  Unless, of course, you have a counselor and a spiritual director.  And you can jet across the country for retreats.  Or if you somehow have time to shoot hoops in the driveway with your kids every morning.

That sounds bitter.  I don't mean to sound bitter.  Shauna Niequest is a beautiful writer and I'd love to be her friend.  Her frantic was hers and she had to find a way out of it.

I did see myself in her frantic.  In the past I've let life get away from me.  I've gone ninety to nothing.  I've given all of myself at work and been nasty to my people at home.

In my second year of teaching 5th grade (5th year of teaching overall), I had a very needy class. They needed extra academic support.  They needed love.  They needed parenting.  They need snacks.  I gave all I had to them.  I recognized it around November.  I called my former principal and asked what happened if I quit at semester.  He advised against it.  But we did make a plan for me to resign at the end of the year and return to his school part time.  I was able to work part time for 3 years and regain my zeal for teaching.

That was my way out of frantic.  Because I'm don't seem to learn lessons well, I seem to slip back into frantic from time to time.

Shauna talks about the importance of silence.  Silence helped her reevaluate and find her way out of her frantic.  I'd agree.  When I can't handle silence I'm deep in the weeds.  That's how I know I need to refocus. 

When I refocus, I remember my WHY - service.  I will admit that I use my WHY as an excuse and get myself in trouble.  "I can do that, that would be serving. That's my WHY".  So, I have to remember not only my WHY but my WHO.  My WHO is includes my family, my tribe, my girls and the teachers I serve at school.  Remembering my WHY and my WHO really helps reduce my craziness. 

How do you rein in your craziness?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


I'm not sure anyone has ever used the word sweet to describe me.  I don't often keep track of what people say about me.

Let me rephrase that...I keep track of what people in my orbit (those I love & who love me back) say about me.  I try not to make a habit of keeping track of what those outside my orbit say.  If I'm honest, I've wasted plenty of minutes on what those outer orbit people say.  But I'm trying to stop.


I know A LOT of sweet people.  They make my heart happy.  Lately, I don't count myself among them.  Being sweet includes being selfless.  Being selfless means thinking of yourself less - duh.  And right now, I'm having trouble getting out of my own head.  There are so many things to worry about right now that I feel like that thoughts are crowding out all my sweetness.

So, what to do about it?

I retreat.  I don't want to be mean to people so I pull away.  It's not someone else's fault that I'm not feeling up to interacting with them.  But I don't want to retreat for too long because it will lead to a deep depression.  I just know this about myself.

Then I pull myself out of my retreat and start doing things for others.  I love to serve people.  It fills my brain with other things to think about.

I try to fill my brain with praise music during these times.  One of my favorite things to teach in computer skills was garbage in, garbage out.  The computer can only do what you tell it to do.  Same with your brain.  It can only think about what's in it.  When you dwell on the negative, your brain thinks more negatives.  When I listen to praise music, I can replace some of those worrisome thoughts with God's word.

I love to listen to Shane & Shane's Psalm albums.  In most of the songs they just sings the words of the LORD. It's refreshing.  And I love to have my mind filled with God's word.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thinking & Sleeping

For some, thinking and sleeping are opposites.  They are tightly wound for me.  I love to do them both. 

I enjoy staring into the distance and thinking deep thoughts.  I want to think big and work towards solving big problems.  I'm proud to have good ideas. I love when my ideas connect with people. 

the fish blanket 
I love to sleep.  I love my bed and my sheets.  I always have.  I think back on my time in the Kappa Delta house at East Texas State University and remember with longing my bed there.  It was perfectly comfortable.  I had a bottom bunk and I painted the underneath a deep purple.  I had a fish comforter.  Actually, I still have that fish comforter.  The boys and I fight regularly about it.  Zac is the current user.  Generally, when I wake up in the morning I'm thinking "what has to be accomplished before I get back in this bed".   It is currently 9:14 pm and I'm a little stressed that I'm not close enough to bed. 

Of course, when I don't sleep enough my thoughts suffer.  When my eyes get heavy so does my mind.  I'm not able to power through.  I must sleep.  I can not function on too little sleep for several days in a row. There's not enough coffee to get me through. 

And yet...

I sometimes use sleep to avoid my thoughts.  When things are rough, I escape into a nap.  I'm definitely a turtle - pull into myself. 

I'll be honest, September has not been kind.  My thoughts are not always happy or easy.  I haven't slept enough.  I'm spent and I know because I'm struggling with ideas. 

I'm so looking forward to this weekend.  Yes, we have things that need to be done.  But it's a 3 day weekend.  The boys and I have Monday off for the Texas State Fair.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in and then getting my thoughts back. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Yesterday I wrote about my father in law's passing and I shared a status from one of my best friends about being present.  A theme of my father in law's celebration was that he worked hard to be present.  He'd go to work early, leave in time to make the kids' games then work well into the night to make up for the missed time.  But when he was with his kids he was really with his kids.

I'm also listening to Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequest.  I have some thoughts about the book that I'll share when I finish it.  But my point is that being present keeps coming up.

I struggled with this some last fall.  For the first time in 17 years I felt guilty about working last year.  I felt like I wasn't present enough for the boys.  I was running myself raged doing stuff for them but not spending time with them.

My mind is noisy all the time.  Ideas. Stories. Songs. To do lists.  All these things are bouncing around in there all the time. I'm a list maker.  I find ridiculous pleasure in marking things off a list.  All these things make it difficult to be present.  To really focus on what's happening right now and not thinking about the rest of the things on the list or what I need to do next.

This week I've tried hard to be present with the Lord. I get up, get my coffee and just sit and talk to him.  No Bible reading. No writing.  Just prayer.  It's soooo hard.  My mind drifts to my list.  My eyes flutter shut.  My hand reaches for my phone.  But I'm going to keep trying.

Thanks Kaycey for posting this! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Hello friends.  I'm sorry I didn't write last week.  It was a rough week. I didn't form many coherent thoughts.  I'm not sure these thoughts will be that coherent.

Ryan's daddy passed away a week ago Friday.  It wasn't a surprise but it was a shock.  He'd been sick a while and we knew his body was beginning to shut down.  But more than that, we knew he was tired.

A few years back, Pops fell and broke his hip.  He got a little down in the dumps at rehab.  I went to him and told him he had to fight for my boys.  He's the only grand daddy my boys have known.  I told him he needed to fight to get better so they had a grand daddy.

Oh, how he fought.  But every fight has to end.  And Pop's fight is over.  He's restored. He's healed. He's at rest.

It's the rest of us suffering.  I wouldn't sugar coat it.  This has been so hard.  It was hard when my daddy died but I didn't have to look into 3 precious faces and tell them he was gone.  I could focus on myself.  With Pops gone, I needed to be able to focus on all of us, not just myself.

I'm a do-er.  There is just almost nothing to do in this situation. I can't do anything to relieve the pain we are all in.  I'm so helpless.

All I can do is love my people - Ryan, the boys, my mother in law, my sisters and brothers in law, my nieces and nephews.  I can accept the love and help of others.  And we have had that in abundance.  Our friends showed up to love us.  They fed us well. They checked on us.  They hugged.  They sent funny memes.  I love my people.

Pops loved his people.  He was the perfect picture of the protective daddy.  Instead of a traditional funeral, we did a true celebration of Pops.  My nieces led worship.  We all spoke about Pops.  It was both easy and hard.  There were so many stories to tell but it hurt to think of Pops in the past tense.  But he's not.  He's gone, he's resting but he's always with us - in the funny stories and lessons we learned from him, and continue to learn.

One of my best friends summed it up beautifully in this facebook post.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Near or Far

When do you feel closest to Jesus?  In times of trials or in the good times?

If I'm being honest, I'd say in times of trials

In the good times, I still do my Bible study and quiet time.  But, I don't cling to Him as I do in times of trials.  When things are going wrong, I depend on Jesus.  I look to him for every decision.  I beg him to show me the way, what to do next.  I'm in constant contact.

I long to be this way during the good times as well.  But it's more of a struggle.  I find my mind wandering more during my prayer time.  It's harder to stay still and listen.  I turn to friends for reassurance instead of to Him.

I don't understand it.  It's frankly frustrating.  I don't want to have to be in constant crisis mode to feel near to God.

I remember the verse in James

I know God hasn't gone anywhere.  He's still there longing for a relationship with me.  I'm the one who has moved.

So, I do what I can.  I pray for focus.  I pray for closeness.  I keep reading my Bible.  I keep studying.  I refocus when my mind wanders.  I and a pray...

And because I love y'all, here's my favs - Shane & Shane - singing Psalm 51

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Monday afternoon I ran into a friend whom I love but don't see often enough.  We visited a bit, she told me some funny stories and really encouraged me about my writing.  When I got home Monday, I had a sweet gift and note from another friend.  Last week, I received some very encouraging comments about my writing as well. Today I visited my mailbox at school to find another gift and note from a sweet friend.

These things always lift my spirits.  Especially during the crazy times of getting school started and trying to get back on a schedule.

And it reminds me that I should encourage people more.  Life gets in the way, doesn't it? What's the expression...the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.  I personally have 2 note cards on my desk waiting to be written.  

I think lots of encouraging thoughts but I don't take the time to write them or even tell people.   Encouragement is definitely a gift.  God intended us to encourage one another.  I'd like to do better in this area.

What's your favorite way to be encouraged?  A text, a note, a small gift?  How do you like to be recognized for your hard work?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Real or Not Real

What's your definition of real?

Here's what says:

I'd say something that I know to be true.

For a lot of people, they need to see something to believe it.

B-man has a very loose definition of real.  There are things that he thinks are real that aren't.  It's sometimes hard to help him understand the difference.

In August I wrote about his dog spell and super power experiments.  Lately, there's a new one.  A grown man has a YouTube channel teaching you to make potions.  B, of course, thinks these are real.

It's so frustrating.  To this dude, it's all fun and games.  I'm the one trying to explain that the ingredients are not real things, that you can't really grow a minion.  That's not really a fruit called black fruit.  None of that matters to B, he will ask the produce people at Kroger about it (my momma got to handle this one).

Mostly, I just try to ride it out.  He usually moves on to something else in a few days.  But if I ever meet the potions dude, he and I will be having words.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


I am a big ol' Jen Hatmaker fan girl.  I love that her message is love.  Guess who else talked about love?

Anywhoo....Jen has a new podcast called For the Love.  The first series was about friendship - For the Love of Girlfriends.  Jen talked to her girlfriends about having girlfriends.

The second series is called For the Love of Moxie (Jen's new book is Of Mess and Moxie).  Episode 2 features Jen's conversation with Brene Brown.  Brene Brown is a shame researcher and author.  Her books are gold.  Gold, I tell ya!! So the two of them together is priceless.

The thing that really stuck with me was a portion of the conversation about oversharing.  Brene says this:  "I never share a story, that when my healing from that story, depends on an audience reaction."

She also says: "I will not take my children's stories from them, or leave such a defining mark on them that they will never be able to get out from underneath them."

Well then there now...

I have worried about this. Am I sharing too much of B's life here? And what's my point for sharing?

I will tell you this, I don't tell you everything.  And I don't show you everything.  Somethings I outright sugar coat.  When I say meltdown that can mean anything from screaming to slapping me.  But I don't want B to grow up and read about his most intimate moments on his momma's website.  I don't post mid-meltdown pictures for the same reason.  Would you want your worst day broadcast for the world to see? 

My point for sharing usually falls into 1 of 2 categories: make you laugh or teach you something.  Or both.  Having an autistic kid isn't always fun and games but it's not all darkness and mourning.  I love my life and I want to share it with you without doing damage to my family.  

Here's the transcript of Jen's Brene Brown episode.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Weeks

Wow! We're a week and a half into the new school year.  I'm that beginning of the year tired that teachers know so well.  It's been a better start to the year than I've had a long while.

Last week, students came to the library for the first time.  I read to them.  They loved it and so did I!  I don't know who decided that middle schoolers didn't like to be read to but they are wrong.  Thankfully, I chose to read each grade level a different book.  By the end of each day, I was ready to be done with that book.  What I really loved was hearing from parents at Meet the Raider that their kiddo said "Mrs. Bartis is the librarian now and she read to us today!"

I could not have read to all these classes without our new library aide. We got so, so, so lucky when we hired an aide for the library at the dead last minute.  She is amazing! She's so helpful and relieves so much stress.  She's taken over video announcements.  I loved doing announcements but it was time consuming.  She's stepped in and rocked it.

In years past, the first days of school were dominated with a program that I ran at school called Tech Camp.  This year we changed it a bit and the result was much less stressful.

The boys also had a great week.  B's new behavior therapist told me towards the end of the week, "Your kid is killing it!"  I did not receive any phone calls or emails about B's behavior. Woowhoo!! Killing it, indeed!

Zac kept up with his summer reading project for the first week and a half.  That's quite an accomplishment for an 8th grade boy! The rest of his first week and a half was "good" and "fine".

Sambo seems to be perfectly at home in his second year of high school.  I shouldn't be but I was amazed that he decided on the second day that he needed to get into honors Chemistry (he'd been in honors Biology last year but we let him drop to regular Chemistry).  And then proceed to take care of everything to make that happen: talk to the teacher about honors and his dyslexia accommodations and fill out the counselor's form to get switched.

I'm feeling good about this year.  We learn and grow every year.  It's just that some years the growing pains seem to be more painful.  This year feels like it the growing pains might be less painful and more fun!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Ryan waited all day Saturday for DirecTV to show up and reconnect our service.  Around 11:30 am they left an automated voice mail saying they were running late but that we would still get service on Saturday.  I started calling around 5:30 pm.  What ensued was such horrific customer service that my rage was in full force.  My sarcasm was also at an all time high.  I did not get, and still have not gotten, satisfaction from DirecTV.  Hell that no fury like Aimee Bartis receiving bad service so stay tuned for this continuing saga.


This got me thinking about the things that make my ragey.  Here's a short list...

1. school drop-off and pick up.
2. people who think they don't have to follow the rules (see #1)
3. people who don't take care of kids
4. poor customer service
5. meanness

Meanness is one that causes me problems though.  I don't want people to be mean to me or the people I love.  However, what I get into rage-mode, I can be pretty mean.  I was not that nice to the DirecTV people Saturday.  At times I was out right rude "I need to speak to your supervisor.  No! Do not say another word to me.  Transfer me to your supervisor."  Other times I my sarcasm was mean "You have the best job ever! You can do what you want and you aren't accountable to anyone!"

This does not match up well with the gospel of Jesus.  Love one another. Turn the other cheek.  No where does Jesus tell us it's ok to be mean to people who are jerks or who don't do what we want done.  Which is what I want to do.  As my boys love to say, "Boom! Roasted!" 

Sometimes I justify my meanness with things like "Sometimes you have to be mean.  People don't respond to kindness."  That makes me feel better for a minute but then I'm reminded of Jesus.  That's not something he taught.  

Thankfully, Jesus is patient with me.  He forgives me and helps me grow.  I can't promise that I'll be nice to the DirecTV people.  But I will try.  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Meet the Raiders 2017

I love our little town! Every year at the beginning of the school year we have a big pep rally called Meet the Raiders.  The middle school and high school football and volleyball teams are introduced.  The middle and high school year cheerleaders and bands perform.  The varsity teams are introduced individually.  Little girls who attended cheer camp with the high school cheerleaders do a cheer and dance.

Before Meet the Raiders Ryan got to help Sam put his Varsity decals on his helmet.  I love this tradition!
This is the first year B was able to make it through the entire thing.  We used to have it in the high school gym.  This year it was held outside at the stadium.  It was still crowded but a little more tolerable for B.  Having it outside also let the booster club show off the new tunnel.  Ryan got to work the tunnel.

I was barely able to snap a picture of Zac's 8th grade team after they were introduced.  Zac is way at the bottom, almost out of the shot.  Mom fail.  I was able to get one of Sam coming out of the tunnel

B did have a brief meltdown when we got there. He was overwhelmed with the crowd and noise.  And the stands were a little crowded.  A friend of ours is a principal in another district and she was great with B! She convinced him to come back to the stands and sit by her husband.  He got his own little set up.  She even took him to get skittles.  During the school song, B held hands with her and her husband.  Have I said how great our community is????

My absolutely favorite part of a wonderful night was when our mascot, Rowdy the Raider came out.  When Rowdy was introduced, B snapped to attention.  He ran after Rowdy like he was a rock star!! Then he stood at the fence dancing and trying to get Rowdy's attention.

It was a great night for our family and our community!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


What do you when you don't understand something?

I'm really struggling with this right now.  I'm really the book of Isaiah.  It's so hard for me to understand.

I read a chapter.  Then I read it out loud.  Reading out loud really helped me understand Shakespeare.

Next, I read the footnotes in my Bible.  Sometimes these notes are commentary. Sometimes they're a language lesson.  Usually, I get a good understanding from these 3 steps.

Not with Isaiah.

I've added a new step for Isaiah.  Actually 2 steps.  First, I pray.  I ask God to reveal himself to me through the scripture.  I use the words of this song by MercyMe

I've also added The Message.  I read the same chapter in The Message.

The Message has really helped me understand Isaiah. I'm still struggling with the application to my own life.  Isaiah is a book of prophesy. provides some great background information that helps provide context.

So, what do you do when something is hard to understand?  How do you break it down? Tell us in the comments.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


B: Momma, what's heaven like?

Me: I'm not entirely sure but I know that there wouldn't be any suffering and that everyone who accepted Jesus as their Savior will be there.

B: will you get anything you want?

Me: I don't know.  I'm not sure what we'll need in heaven.  God will provide for us.

B: I have bad news.  I don't think I'm going to heaven.  I think I'm going to hell.

Me: Why do you think that?

B: Well, I've been doing those spells.  {see Dog Spells post about this}

Me: There is a way to make sure you're in heaven.  Accept Jesus as your Savior.  Do you believe Jesus died for your sins?  That he took the punishments for your sins so that you can be in heaven with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit one day?

B: Yes

Me: Then you can pray a prayer like this: Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for me.  Please come into my life and forgive me of my sins.

Meanwhile, he's in the backseat praying on his own.

And that's how B-man was saved Sunday morning on the way to church.  We've talked about being saved before but this is the first time that he's recognizing his own sin and need for a Savior.

He was so excited to go into church and tell everyone!! He talked to Ms. Laci and is super excited to get 'babaptized'.

He even told his friends "Bro! Guess what? I've got Jesus in my heart!"
this has nothing to do with this post but I love
pic of B & Cub

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Sweet peas, we all know that our B-man gets on little kicks and usually hilarity ensues.

A couple of weeks ago, he got on a cereal kick.  He started watching cereal commercials on YouTube Kids.  He figured out how to cast them from his iPad to our living room TV so he could watch them on the big TV.  He spent the better part of a day doing this.

When we went to Oklahoma he wanted a box of cereal for the road and one once we got there.  I vetoed the "on the road" box because I did not want cereal all over my car.  He was thrilled to have cereal in Oklahoma.  I don't keep cereal at the house often, mostly during the summer.  During the school year, I make them have some kind of protein for breakfast.

Once we got home, the cereal kick continued.  He wanted to make cereal.  He experimented with several different things.  He wanted his cereal to be fruit flavored.  He tried lots of things and made many many messes.

Finally, I convinced him to make his original cereal recipe (one he'd made before from a YouTube video).  We added almond, orange and lemon extract to the sugar mixture that you mix with the oats.  It was pretty tasty.

We made this after I'd had a long day at work so I just left it out over night.  By the morning it was rock hard.  I decided to cut up some pats of butter, put them around the edges of the pan then warm it in the oven.  I told B my plan.

"I think that's a dumb idea that will never work but it's your time not mine."  Then he walked away.

It worked! This time I poured out the cereal onto parchment paper.  B walked through the kitchen about this time, "Ummm, I did not think that was going to work." And kept right on walking.

He also created a cereal box.  His cereal was called Tiger Stripes.  He thought the orange extract would make the cereal orange.  As you can see his box has a puzzle.  The other side is some kind of game with other cereal mascots.

B-man goes all out, every time!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Meet The Teacher

Monday night, B man did something he has never done before.  He attended Meet the Teacher at his elementary school.

Meet the Teacher can be very chaotic so we've avoided it.  We've always taken him to meet his teacher the day after Meet The Teacher.  This gives us some time to visit and for B to look around the room.

B's awesome principal sent a letter to each kid this summer telling them how excited she was for school to start.  She also included a flyer about Meet the Teacher.  B wanted to know what it was so I explained it to him.

Me: "It's usually pretty chaotic so we skip it."
B: "I like chaos. I want to go."
Me: "Not this kind of chaos.  It's loud and lots of people."
B: "I love people! I want to go!"

Ryan and I talked it over.  I was against it.  This is a stressful time of year for me and I didn't want to add to it with a public meltdown (by either B or me).  But, Ryan had a great point: he wants to go, let's let him try.  We need to start letting him do some hard things.   We decided to go to the last session, hoping there would be fewer people.  I emailed his principal to let her know.

In addition to meeting his teachers, B would be meeting his new behavior specialist.  B really loved his former behavior specialist.  Thankfully, we'd been able to have lunch with him a few weeks ago to say goodbye.  Another blessing is that Ryan played baseball against the new specialist.  They go way back and he's a great guy.  I was able to talk to him at staff development about B.

When we walked in Mr. T, the new behavior specialist, was the first person we saw.  We introduced B and B gave him a big hug.  It seems like they hit it off!

Our neighbor went to an earlier session and had already texted me about his teacher but we let B discover it himself.  One of his teachers, Mrs. McDermett, from last year moved up to 3rd grade and B was ecstatic to find out that he would have her again! He has a new teacher, Mrs. Barnes, for homeroom, ELA and Social Studies.  He'll see Mrs. McDermett for math and science.

He has a lot of friends in his class.  Like I wrote yesterday, he already started recruiting some into the Legion of Lizards.  

I loved seeing B hugging everyone at Meet the Teacher.  He was so excited! He told Mrs. Barnes, "I really loved Mrs. Sirois (one of teachers last year who retired) but I think I'm going to love you more."

He's really looking forward to Genius Hour (a time when kids get to work on projects of their choice).  He's already making of list of things he can do during Genius Hour.

I slept like a rock after Meet the Teacher. I was so relived he'd be back with Mrs. McDermett.  Last year was the best school year B's ever had! And I know this year will be just as wonderful!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Super Powers

Last week I wrote about B trying to cast a spell on himself to become a dog. After that B started researching how to get super powers.  He decided the Spider Man method was the way to go. He liked that Spider Man's DNA actually changed.

However, he wants to be a chameleon based super hero. He couldn't figure out how to get a radioactive chameleon to bite him a la Spider Man.  So, he decided that he should just find someone to infuse regular chameleon DNA with his DNA.  His great idea was for Cub's vet to infuse him.  He dictated this note to Ryan

He didn't want to limit the vet to chameleon so he drew 5 animals and asked the vet to put a check by the DNA he had handy.

Monday night at meet the teacher, he asked EVERYONE if super powers were allowed at school. I mean EVERYONE: both his teachers, his behavior specialist, the counselor, the assistant principal and the principal. He and the counselor agreed that he would need to contain his powers between the hours of 8-4.  He could use his powers at recess also.

He recruited a friend into the Legion of Lizards.  His friend will have geeko powers.  Some other friends are still thinking over his offer.  B asked me to take his friends to the vet for DNA.  I told him that's on their parents.

I haven't taken him to the vet to talk over the plan.  I feel like that needs a pre-discussion between me and the vet.  I wasn't sure how to handle his disappointment over the spell and I feel just as helpless on this one.  I don't want to dash his dreams or kill his creativity but how do I let him know that his plan is not going to work?  I have no idea but his ideas are awesome to think about in the meantime!    

Thursday, August 17, 2017

HS Football 2017

Last year we started a tradition of having Sam's 5 best friends and their families over for spaghetti before high school football started.  This year we weren't able to do it the night before football started because we were out of town.  But we did have it the Sunday before the 2nd week of practices started, so that's something.  We had all 5 families over and I made a ton of spaghetti.  We don't entertain as much as I would like so I relish the opportunity to serve friends.

Last year, I made the boys a poster of the lyrics from Fix My Eyes by For King & Country.  And I had decided on a verse from Nehemiah for this year.

 When God called Nehemiah back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city's wall, many people tried to stop the work.  But Nehemiah held strong.  When neighboring rulers plotted to kill Nehemiah they sent messengers to summons him.  Nehemiah's response is perfect...

The boys discovered this year that there are people, circumstances and situations that will try to distract them from their work and goals. I wanted the boys to know that they need to stay focused. Their work can not stop while they come down to the level of those who aren't working on those same goals.  I hope the verse will help remind them to keep working.

I managed to get through most of the telling of Nehemiah's story and my explanation of the verse without crying.  A big improvement from last year! One of the boys asked his mom, "Do you think Mrs. Bartis will cry this year?" So they were expecting it.

I love these boys so much. I'm so proud of the men they are becoming.  I'm in awe of their dedication to their goals.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dog Spells

This story is so unbelievable but, rest assured, this all happened.  This is a perfect glimpse of life with B-man.

When I got home from work Monday, I was tired.  I had a cold last week that I was mostly over but it had worn me down.  As soon as I got home, I laid down on the bed.  B approached...

B: momma, I did a spell on myself and tomorrow I might be a dog. Is that ok?

Me: no but I guess I can't do anything about it now
B: if it works it will just be for 1 day and it wouldn't keep me from going to Mrs Lori's.
Ryan: did you tell Mrs Lori you might be a dog tomorrow.
B: she said it's ok. I have to go to bed as the same time as Cub tonight. It's good dog luck.
Me: ok but we have to get up to take Zac and his friends to work out in the morning
B: Will you still let me ride in the car if I'm a dog? I'll still be your son in my heart.

We go to Sam's Club and all he can talk about is being a dog. In line...

B: can we say a prayer tonight about the whole dog thing? I really want to be a dog. It's a good scientific way to learn about dogs. I did have a bad day dream that it lasted more than a day. I think if it lasts more than a day, Presli will be able to cure me.  I think I will thoroughly enjoy being a dog.

At Sam's Club he wants to buy a dog bed.  I manage to put him off on that one.  But, for real, it's all he can talk about.  When we get in the car, he sings a song...

I do manage to use it to my advantage by convincing him that he needs to trim his toenails.  Dogs need short toenails.  He even goes to bed early in anticipation.  At bed time...

B: I don't think it's going to work
Me: me either buddy
B: I love you no matter what. No matter if I'm a dog or cat or bug I'll always love you
Me: I will love you no matter if you're a dog or a cat or a bug but I think God made you perfect just the way you are
B: do you think it's going to work
Me: no, I don't really believe in spells. God doesn't do spells
B: but he makes tornadoes with his will power
Me: that's his will power not ours
B: if god wanted to he could use his will to take away my instincts, especially grammar - that's the most important one language and replace them with dog instincts.
Me: just don't be mad at God if it doesn't work out
B: I wouldn't! I'll be mad at videos
Me: yep, you watch a lot of videos that aren't great

Before I got to bed, I check on him.  He's asleep in the floor because dogs have trouble getting down bunk ladders.  

You are seeing that correctly.  He's asleep on the floor with dog food and a dog toy beside him.  Also, under that blanket he's naked.  He didn't want to ruin his clothes during his transition.  

You know what's coming next...B did not wake up as a dog Tuesday morning.  He was not happy.

B: Well, I'm not a dog

Me: sorry Bubba. I think you're perfect the way you are. Sorry the people on the video lied to you
B: for real they just trolled me out of nowhere!

To him it was a personal afront that the video didn't work.  I tried to console him but he just wanted to be alone.  I couldn't blame him.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Saturday morning, Ryan, B & I set out to run some errands.  I needed to go to Michael's Arts & Craft store and I knew I'd have to let B get something.  I told him he could spend $5.

He's been on a bit of a Halloween kick lately and, of course, Michael's already has Halloween stuff out.  After some back and forth, he picked out 2 small wooden caskets.  Excuse me, a vampire casket and a sarcophagus.  I have no idea what the difference is, I'm a little afraid to ask.

On our way to the next stop, the grocery store, B looked at the back of caskets and noticed they were $1.99 each.  "I still have a dollar left" he announced.  I said sort of but dropped it because I really didn't want to get into a discussion about taxes.

"I'm going to get cereal" B declared as we turned into the grocery store parking lot.

"I'm sorry. Try again" I said.

"I'm going to get cereal at the grocery store."

"Not quite.  Try again."

"I'm going to get cereal at the grocery store."

"That doesn't sound like a question."

"It's not. I'm giving you information. I have a dollar.  I'm buying cereal."

I sat with my mouth gaping open while Ryan giggled.  "Oh that is so you!" he said.  

I tried to recover and explain to B that cereal was more than a dollar.  But I couldn't.  He picked out some cereal.

All I could hear all day was "It's not. I'm giving you information."

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Where the wind comes whippin' across the plains...

This has been an unusual summer.  Not bad at all, just different.  The big boys went to Broken Bow with my uncle.  I went to Galveston with my girlfriends.  Ryan and big boys went white water rafting in Colorado.  But we didn't get to do anything all together, including B.  Vacations are hard for B.  He wants to travel.  He wants to go places.  The actual getting places is hard for him.  Being away from home for several days is not easy.

My momma had the great idea to rent a cabin in Oklahoma.  We didn't want to go back to Broken Bow since the boys had been there earlier in the summer.  I remembered a commercial from my childhood for Arbuckle Wilderness, a drive through wildlife park.  Thanks to the Googles, I started looking in the Arbuckle area.  Long story short, we booked a cabin on a ranch close to Davis, Oklahoma.

We went to Turner Falls on Friday.  Turner Falls has a 77 foot waterfall and natural swimming areas.  It's beautiful.  The first area we swam in had diving boards and a slide. But the rocks were slippery and we didn't think to bring water shoes.  There was a lot of falling.  After an overpriced lunch, we went to the waterfall area.  Everyone was dry and not interested in more swimming.  Except for B who was trying to meet his goal of catching a fish with his bare hands in a ziploc baggie.  The waterfall and surrounding mountains are amazing.  There were people on top of the fall and in caves nearby.  I'm not very outdoorsy so I can't imagine hiking up there.

Our cabin was smack in the middle of no where and I loved it!  We went to a nearby town to get groceries at a local store, not a chain!

All day Saturday we just hung out at the cabin.  Ryan and the boys tried to fish but the pond was too low.  Momma and I hung out reading, coloring (me) and crocheting (her).  It was nice to not have to be some where.  We slept late.  We played games.  We fed the goats and llamas that live in the pasture beside the cabin.  We were goofy!

My favorite part, besides the general sitting around and resting, was the fire pit. Both nights Ryan built a fire and we hung out with the boys for a while.  We had good talks with the big boys.  We made s'mores.  The weather was nice, not too hot, a good breeze.

I can see us making this an annual tradition!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Yesterday, in the midst of the craziness of our life, I got to sit. And it was good for my soul.

I sat with some teachers today and worked on an awesome unit. Working with teachers to create units is one of my favorite things to do.  I really feel like I'm helping the teachers and kids when we plan these units.

Then I went to visit my friend Kaycey.  We laid on the bed and talked.  It was so nice.  We didn't solve the world's problems, we just chit chatted.  Nothing heavy.  Just being together and loving on each other.

Finally, I skipped out on what I was "supposed" to do and went to get a mani/pedi.  I don't do that often enough.  And when I do I usually just get the pedicure.  It was nice to sit still and let someone else massage my hands and feet. I would like to tell you that I just sat there and relaxed but I didn't.  I listened to the end of an audiobook that was slightly stressful, the ending was distressing - not a happy ending.  I also texted with another friend on a variety of subjects both ridiculous and serious and that was not stressful.

I have trouble sitting for too long.  Most times when I get a pedicure I leave with a sore behind.  I think I'm trying so hard to sit still that I tense up.  Completely counterproductive.  I like to either move around or curl up in a chair to work.  I don't work well sitting "normally".  Right this minute my legs are pulled up under me and off to the side with the laptop balanced on top (think z sit).

Sitting still seems a lot like not doing anything.  I've written about it before.  Not doing anything feels lazy.  But sometimes we need to not do anything.  We have to rest.

This past weekend we rented a cabin in Oklahoma.  All day Saturday we did nothing but sit around together.  We played games.  We slept.  We ate.  The boys tried to fish.  I read and colored.  My momma crocheted.  It was so nice.

I'm thankful for the times I get to sit and be renewed.  I need to do it more often.  I need to sit with the Lord as well and let him renew me.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Last night B-man started talking to me about Halloween.  He'd watched something on YouTube and it got him thinking.

"We need to practice, Momma."

"Practice what, bud?"


"Halloween is a ways away, buddy.  I don't think we need to practice."

"Yes, we need to walk all over the neighborhood to practice.  You can go in the car or on your feet."

I'd been at work all day then made it to the gym but I couldn't resist a walk with my little man.  Plus I knew he wouldn't walk far.

We had a lovely little walk.  He went further than I had anticipated.  We had a nice chat.  My favorite part was him telling a neighbor that he was practicing for trick or treat.  The guy played along and seemed amused.

Practicing is helpful for B in a number of situations.  It helps lower his anxiety in new situations.  We try to talk through things.  I answer his endless questions - sometimes patiently, others not so much.

We usually don't practice so far in advance though.  I don't usually tell him things very far in advance.  It helps with the millions of questions.  The less time he had to think about a new situation, the fewer questions.  It's a delicate balance: telling him far enough in advance to help him get comfortable but not tell him so far in advance that we have to answer a million questions.

On our walk, B said he'd like to practice three times a week until Halloween.  I could use some more exercise so I'll go along with it.  But he also said that he'd ask Mr. Tom to drive him around on the golf cart on Halloween night so I'm not sure how long practicing will last.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Line in the Sand

Yesterday I wrote about my walk/run on the beach last Friday morning.  Besides the insight into my relationship with Kaycey, I had another insight during that walk/run.  I guess I should do it more often. I need it for weight control, stress relief and insights. Actually, I'm going to start next week. Mark my words!

As I'm huffing and puffing and looking at my feet, I notice a vertical line the entire width of the beach (it's a relatively narrow beach).  My first thought was that a momma drew that line after her kiddos wouldn't stop messing with each other. My imaginary momma drew the line and said "Do not cross this line! Stay on your own side! Be quiet! I'm trying to relax!"

That imaginary momma got me thinking about my line in the sand.  What are the thing or things I'm not willing to do? There are several moral and ethical things I wouldn't do.  I wouldn't get into that list.  What I started thinking about is my new job and the Breaking Busy book I read this summer.

I'm a little bit nervous about the scope of my new job.  I'm going to have a lot to do.  I'm way more excited about the possibilities of my new job than I'm nervous.

I've already had teachers email and text me to ask for help for the upcoming school year.  A few of them have said "I know you're going to be super busy but..."

That's my line in the sand - I do not want to be too busy to help my teachers.  I wouldn't be at everyone's drop everything beck and call but I will do what I can to help my teachers.  I want to help them understand that while my schedule is full, I still have time to help them.  It's my job to help them!

There will be bumps.  I'm moving some things off my plate that my teachers are used to me doing.  There will be a transition period while everyone learns what I'm doing and what others are doing now. I will have to be intentional about not taking on things outside the scope of my job.  I need to remember to stay in my own lane.

I will need to choose my words carefully.  I need to remember that all the things I have going on doesn't have a lot to do with the person in front of me.  The person in front of me needs my help and attention.  I owe it to them.

I will need to stay organized so I can pay attention to the person in front of me and not be worried about what else needs to be done.  I will have to be ok with things being undone when it's time to go home.  Helping my teachers must be more important than crossing things off my to do list.