Tuesday, January 31, 2017

the Greatest of these is LOVE

Sunday morning I stood in church singing, "I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of GOD."  Tears began to stream down my face.  I am so thankful to be a child of the one true GOD.  I am so thankful that, for now, no politician has decided that my belief in GOD is a crime.  Or that my worship in unlawful.  I am thankful that, if I had the means, I could come and go from my country at my leisure.

I am also scared.  I'm scared of the path our country is on.  I feel overcome by the hatred flowing so freely.  I keep thinking, this is it, right? This is the beginning of the end.  It can't get worse from here, can it? But it does.

Then I remember that GOD has me here to love and to serve.  And while he's given me a specific burden for mommas, I know that I am to love all people.  Jesus set the ultimate example of this.  Jesus didn't preach to the choir.  He did not call priests to help him spread his word of love, he chose fishermen.  He hung out with the prostitutes and tax collectors.

My GOD is a GOD of love, not comfort.  He has not promised us an easy life.  He has promised us His best. He sent His only Son then had him born in a barn - no comfort there! Have you ever been in a barn? It stinks.  Literally.  Poor Mary. When I was pregnant, I was very aware of smells.  I can only imagine how bad it would be to give birth in a stinky barn.

My faith makes me uncomfortable from time to time.  It means that I need to stand up for someone who's not popular.  It may mean that I have to stand up to someone who is popular.  I don't always know what God will call me to do.  But I try to listen and obey.

The one thing I can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt is this...Love is never the wrong answer.  And not just to the love the lovable. Love the unlovable.  Love ugly cats.  Thankfully, the cats part is not in the scripture, I'm not a fan of cats.  Love those who are being persecuted.  Love the truth.  Love your neighbor.  Love the people you're scared of.  Love your family.  Love someone.

Please, just please, don't give into the fear and hate. Remember our LORD was an outsider.  Remember, what you do to the least of these, you have done to Him.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25 - 34-40 (https://goo.gl/0KXOTK)

Monday, my friend Jonathan Shibley posted "My Kingdom Viewpoint Regarding the Immigration “Chaos”:" I encourage you to read them.  You can see the post here.  Jonathan is the president of Global Advance.  He and his dad work with leaders across the globe to advance the call of Christ.  I've known and respected Jonathan my entire life.  I honestly can not remember not knowing him.  Please take a minute to read his thoughts.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Kitchen Table

I'm a story teller.  I could you tell you something but I'd rather build it up with a story.  I love telling the story of my day to Ryan. I'm not sure how much he loves hearing my stories but he loves me so he smiles and acts interested.  

My daddy could do anything.  Or so I thought and still think.  He was handy.  When I was in high school, he made props for my drill team.  He made these huge wooden stars that we could dance on and jump off of.  They were awesome! I don't remember how old I was when he made my sister and I matching bookshelves.  I'm sure she does because she has been blessed with my momma's outrageously detailed memory.  I'm not sure what I ate yesterday.

Our bookshelves were not fancy.  Plywood and stain.  But I loved mine.  I left it at home until Ryan and I moved into our first house. After that it went everywhere.  But it was starting to lean and I was worried it would break soon.

When we moved into our current house three years ago, I fell in love with the kitchen.  It's not big but I like how it's laid out and I liked the breakfast nook area.  The first time I walked in the house I knew I needed a built in seat in the corner under the window.  I didn't know at the time that was called a bankett.  I had June Cleaver visions of teenage boys sliding into that bench, eating and laughing.  And I had the perfect idea for a table.

I wanted to make the table out of my Daddy's bookshelf.  I found plans on Pinterest and thought it would be super easy to do it ourselves! Ryan found a talented man who could make it for us.  He loaded my bookshelf in his truck and returned with a beautiful table.  It's more beautiful than anything I had imagined.  The book shelf is the table top.  Chris de-assembled it and laid it out like a mosaic.  He also build the bankett.  I loved it!

These days my table is almost always scattered with stuff.  Backpacks. Papers.  Remnants of projects.  Spelling words.  Used napkins (why doesn't anyone throw away their used napkins around here?). The momma's refrain "why can't we have nice things?" echoes in my head from time to time.  Why can't we keep this one spot clean and nice looking.  Many of my friends have beautiful dining room tables with centerpieces worthy of Better Homes & Gardens and a thousand Pinterest pins. Why can't our table look like that?

But the other day, God tapped me on the shoulder and showed me the beauty of that messy table.  It shows signs of life.  It shows what B is working on.  It's evidence that my boys work there and eat there and laugh there.  It's a mess, but mostly a good mess - just like us.  Every time I sit down at my table, I am reminded of my Daddy's love for me. The care he took making that bookshelf.  Then I am reminded of God's love for me that was reflected in my Daddy's love.  Then I think of the love I have for Ryan and the boys and how it all comes together around that crazy messy table.  Suddenly the mess doesn't seem to bother me as much.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


The world of special education is rampant with acronyms.  
An ARD meeting is a special education meeting that happens once a year.  Parents, teachers, the principal and special educators are present.  ARD stands for Annual Review and Dismissal. 
IEP is an Individual Education Plan and is discussed at the ARD.
BIP is a Behavior Intervention Plan and is also discussed at the ARD.
On with our story...

B's ARD meeting was last week.  This is our 7th ARD, one a year plus an extra that we had to have to put a BIP in place during a particularly rough spring.

I'm that weird parent that looks forward to B's ARDs.  The meeting usually starts with his strengths.  Then we talk about the goals we put into place last year.  B has made some tremendous progress this year so that part was very satisfying.  We set new goals and objectives for the coming year as well.  This year we had to talk about testing accommodations that B will need next school year when he has to start taking our state's standardized test.  I'm not going to lie, I did gasp when we got to the testing part.  I'm really not mentally prepared for B to take standardized tests on the regular.

Out of the 7 ARDs, I'd categorize only 1 as contentious.  During that rough spring, his teacher shook some papers at me that B wouldn't write on even though she knew he knew the answers.  The same teacher said that B's love of the word NO was causing the other kids to tell her NO as well.  You can imagine how that went over.  To be blunt, why should he have to write something if you know he knows the answer and other kids' behaviors are not my problem.   I know this puts us in a rarified air.  Lots of parents have to fight tooth and nail to get their kids what they need.  We don't have this problem.  And yes, I realize what a blessing it is.

Generally, our ARDs are a love fest.  B is a lovable kid and the people at school love him. He loves them and they love him.  They work hard with and for him.  We are all working towards a common goal: for B to flourish at school.

Our major goal for B this coming year is self advocacy.  This simply means that we'll be working on skills that will allow B to say when he's overwhelmed and when he needs help.  The fact that we can even THINK about this goal is such a blessing and testament to how far B's come.  I think about the days I spent carrying a huge backpack full of stuff to offer him because he couldn't tell me what he wanted.  He would cry and scream and I would pull stuff out of the backpack until he stopped.  I even had extra stuff I knew he didn't like to give other kids to leave him alone.  The idea that he's going to be learning how to tell people what he wants is so exciting!

This year did feature a major milestone - I didn't cry! I got a little choked up but I kept it in check. And they definitely would have been happy tears.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chess Puzzle

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that my B-man is an excellent starter.  He loves to start new projects, and even sports.  You can read about how he started football here  and here and gymnastics here.

His school participates in an academic competition every year called UIL Academics.  In the fall he brought home a form with all the available options for 2nd graders.  We discussed the options and settled on Chess Puzzle.  He had never played chess or even checkers before so I knew this would be an adventure.

First he had to try out.  The day before the try out I suggested he look up some videos on YouTube about chess.  I have also never played chess so I wasn't going to be much help at all.  I guess it worked because he made the team!

For months he's gone to school early every Friday morning to practice.  I will say I was worried about this.  What if he became frustrated? What if he had a meltdown in practice?  Would that ruin his entire day? His coach is awesome.  She really gets B-man.  She let him lead.  If he wasn't feeling chess that morning, she didn't push him.  B looked forward to chess every Friday morning.

He practiced at home as well.  His coach set him up on a website called Chess Kids and he'd play that from time to time.  For Christmas he actually received two chess boards.  One from his GG and Pops and one from Santa.  The board from GG and Pops is a beautiful, traditional board that's also magnetic and with drawers to hold the pieces.  Santa brought a learner's board that comes with cards explaining how to move and talks to you.  B generally preferred the board from GG and Pops.  Actually, he didn't open the talking board until the week of the competition.

The competition was last Saturday.  Again, I was a little nervous.  All the kids who were competing were to be a school early Saturday morning. They would ride a bus to another school for the day.  As a teacher, I've worked a number of these meets.  They can be a little chaotic.  Kids are waiting in a gym or cafeteria until it's their turn to compete.  There's usually a concession stand.  Someone with a mic announces each event and kids have to be listening or they may miss their chance to compete.  The meet lasts all day.  It's organized chaos.

Here's an actual screen shot of my email to B's coach:

Nervous Nelly in the house.

In the end, Ryan and I decided that B would ride the bus with the other kids but that we would pick him up after his event.  Friday night, I laid down with B and we went over what would happen on Saturday.  He asked questions, I answered as best I could.  He was nervous about getting to school on time and not missing the bus.  I promised him I would get him there on time.

Saturday morning, I dropped B off at the elementary school with his backpack full of goodies: iPad, hot spot, pen and paper, snacks and two stuffed minions to help him feel brave.  I noticed parents walking kids in.  I nervously asked B if he wanted me to walk him in.  While I did not still have on my pajamas, I had not done my hair or put on make up. A bunch of other parents were walking kids in and staying in the cafeteria with them.  I did not want to see all these people with no make up!  He said he wanted to go alone.  I watched him go in.  I sat in the car a while wondering what all these people were doing.  I could see a fellow teacher from my school inside so I called him.  No worries, B was fine and I didn't need to come in.

Later in the morning, Ryan and I went to pick B up.  He was still competing.  When he came out one of his teachers asked him how it went he replied "It was a test".  Which it is. They give them situations and they have to pick what move to do next.  I'm not sure he understood this.  I think he thought he'd play chess with someone.  When the teacher asked him how he thought he did on the test he replied, "Probably a 99"

Well, he didn't get a 99.  He didn't even place.  But, he finished!  He started a new activity, went to all the practices and the competition.  All without a meltdown (as far as I know).  This is a first!  And I am so proud of him!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


There are a few things that get me all kinds of ranty.  I started to type out a list but I deleted it.  It was making me feel extra doubly ranty.  Suffice it to say that education gets me all ranty.  I started a this rant on Facebook the other night but I decided to go long form.

Hold on to your hats, here it comes...

I am a parent. But I am also an educator.  I have every right to contact my representatives and voice my concerns.  And I do.  However, my opinion is often discounted because I would stand to 'win' in certain political fights. Non-educator parents are the ones with the real power. Lawmakers want to hear from you!  PLEASE take time to educate yourself and contact your representatives. You hold the silver bullet.

There are things happening in both Washington and Austin that parents need to be aware of.  I'm going to tell you about the three that are most important to me.  I can't help but give my opinion but I did try to give you resources for you to learn more on your own.  I should also note here that these are my opinion.  I am not speaking for Sunnyvale ISD.

Let's start with Washington.  President-Elect Trump as nominated Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.  Her confirmation hearings are underway.  Check her out.  Here's a NBC story from Tuesday's hearing.  She will not commit to preserving Federal funding for schools.  She's not sure if Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law and stated that states should have leeway in how the implement it.  No ma'am, that's the point of a federal law, it lets the states know what they have to do.  Please also keep in mind that neither she nor her children ever attended public school. You can learn more about her and her committee hearing from this NPR report. If she scares you as much as she scares me, please contact your Senator.  You can find out who your Senator is here.

In Austin, the A-F accountability system needs your attention.  The measures used to judge schools are neither fair not equitable. Our school districts are supposed to be locally controlled.  A-F flies in the face of that principle.  This webpage from Texas Association of School Administrators is a good clearinghouse for A-F information.  Please take the time to review it.

In both Austin and Washington politicians use a lovely phrase to confuse constitutes: school choice.  That sounds lovely, right? I want to choose the school that I think is best for my child, right?  Most people do choose.  Many people choose where to live based on the school district that area is zoned for.  There are people who do not have this luxury, their income dictates where they must live.  It makes sense on it's face: offer the poorest families the choice to move their student to a private school where things will be better. That's not exactly how it works.

You'll hear a lot in the coming days about education spending accounts.  These go right along with school choice.  They sound awesome but wouldn't really help the kids who need help.  With an education spending account, families would be given the money they paid in school taxes to use on a private school.  The trouble is that the amount of money a family would get will not cover the entire cost of tuition to most private schools.  Families would still need to come out of pocket for half the cost, in most cases.  So, we're back to unfair and inequitable.  The poor kids still can't choose a new school and middle class kids flee to private schools who are not under the tyranny of the A-F system and do not have to give the state's standardized tests.  The rich get richer and poor get poorer.

And what happens to your local district when students take their money and run?  They don't have enough money to provide the kind of top-notch education all students deserve.  Districts have to cut personnel and programs.  Kids are not ready when they leave school. They aren't ready for college or the work place.  That lands them on government assistance.  Tax payers pay one way or another.  Wouldn't you rather your tax dollars be spent on education instead of welfare?

Please go to www.texasstudentsmatter.com to learn more about the educational issues that will need to be addressed in Austin this term.  You can also find your state representatives on this page.

Like I said, these are my opinions.  It's totally cool if yours are different.  But make sure you have educated opinions.  Don't count on law maker sound bites.  Please get involved in the process.  You hold the silver bullet!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


What's your weakness?  One of mine is peanut butter.  I have entire Pinterest boards devoted to peanut butter.  At least twice last week I woke up with a peanut butter covered spoon beside my bed.  I had eaten peanut butter in my sleep! Actually, I might be addicted to peanut butter.

My mouth is another weakness.  I don't have good control of my mouth.  If I trust you, I'll tell you exactly what I think.  Also, I may trust too many people.  I suspect this weakness has cost me a thing or two because hardly anyone really wants to know what I think.

Growing up, I learned all the words to Jesus Loves Me.  Including "I am weak but He is strong".  I understood this.  I'm a little human.  I'm not in control of anything.  GOD is the GOD of the universe.  He is in control of everything.  Super easy to distinguish.

Here's one I never really understood:

Here Paul is writing to the Corinthians about the thorn in his side that he had prayed for GOD to remove.  Three times Paul had pleaded with GOD to remove the thorn.  Verse 9 is GOD's response.  I understand grace.  Oh how I am thankful for grace!!  I love receiving GOD's undeserved favor.  It's how GOD's power is made perfect in weakness that confused me.

I committed to reading 4 books about disability and the Bible. One was not wonderful, I disagreed with the author's stance on disability.  The next was sooooo difficult to read that I put it down. The one I'm working on now has been difficult to read but easier than the first.  If you ever want to feel really dumb, read a book on theology.  Gracious!

Last night I was reading about this idea of weakness and I started to understand a little better.  When we are weak and surrender that weakness to GOD, He is able to show His strength.

So many times we want to muscle our way through weakness.  Get tough! Suck it up!  Push through!
What if we surrendered our weakness to the LORD?  How might He use our weakness to His glory? That's what I'm working on today.  Instead of muscling through, trying to correct my own weaknesses, I'm going to surrender them to the LORD.  Who knows what mighty work He'll do?  I can't wait to see!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


B & I - this picture has nothing to do with this post
but I love it!
Let me categorically state that I am not a fan of Pokemon.  I don't understand it.  I don't really want to.  The little critters creep me out.  Alright, on with our story.

B-man is back on the Pokemon bandwagon.  He carries around the cards.  He talks about the critters.  He asked me to get him hooked up on Pokemon Go.  When the Pokemon Go craze first began we struggled to get signed up.  Zac procured an account and let B 'help' him.  But Zac is over it and B wanted his own account.  It was not easy.  I had to set up a parent account then create a child's account for B. Then when we thought he was ready to go, I still had to go back into my account and his to accept the terms of service.

Fast forward to this past Sunday.  B and I were at church for his special needs Sunday school class.  He discovered that our church was a Pokestop.  Woowhoo! (sarcasm)  The trouble with B's Pokemon hunting is that his iPad is aging quickly.  He often gets an error that says "GPS signal lost".  Sunday morning he got such a message and his little Pokemon hunter dude looked as if it was standing in the middle of the highway.

This proved to be a major problem.

As we tried everything we could to make his iPad realize that we were at the Pokestop.  B grew more and more frustrated. I tried to keep him calm.  I asked him where he was on the feeling chart.  He was able to tell me he was in the red zone.  When I asked him how he could move to the yellow or green zone, he screamed "NOTHING!"

Things went downhill from there.

By the end, I was a muddy mess, we were both crying and about 20 people wish they had been on time to church that morning.

I liken B's meltdowns to a seizure.  His eyes glaze over.  His noises are guttural.  He is not in control. When he comes out of it, he's wasted. He slumps into my arms.  I rock him and rub his back.  Generally, he's back to normal within 30 minutes.

Not me, I carry these incidents with me.  They effect me for days.  I replay the incident and try to figure out what I could have done to stop the meltdown or prevent it.  I try to remember that he's not in control but I still get my feelings hurt by the things he says.

I know I shouldn't but I worry about what strangers think when they see us embroiled in this dance.  Me trying to keep a hold of B, protecting him from danger and he trying to get away.  It must look awful. It feels awful from my end.  

As hard as the meltdowns are for me, I know they are out of B's control.  He's not choosing to throw a fit.  In those moments, the world is just too much for him.  I can't imagine how hard they are for him.  I can think of times when I've felt so completely out of control and overwhelmed.  It's an awful feeling.

And, as hard as those moments are, I wouldn't trade them away.  Those are the hard portions of autism, yes.  But without those moments, B wouldn't be who he is.  I don't want to decry or discount any part of him.  I love all parts of him.  Even the muddy, messy, screaming parts.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Square Pegs

Square pegs...the short lived Sarah Jessica Parker TV show or people who don't fit in?  Usually my first thought when I hear the term is SJP.  I loved that show.  I spent my high school years in the middle.  I wasn't super popular nor was I tortured for not fitting in.  I just kind of floated along. It was a great experience.  To tell the truth, when I look back on my time in school, I don't remember being too worried about fitting in.  I can remember REALLY wanting a Swatch watch and Guess jeans but I don't recall feeling like I had to work overtime to try to fit in.  I was pretty comfortable with who I was, as I recall.

That's what I want for my boys. I want them to be comfortable with who they are. I want them to feel secure in the fact that GOD created them on purpose, for a purpose and in his own image.  

Yesterday, two sweet friends posted an article on Facebook titled, 5 ways to damage autistic children without even knowing.  It's well written by a former teacher who has Asperger's. In the article, the author recognizes that all children can be damaged in these same ways but it is especially prevalent for autistic kiddos.   

I think B first became aware of the word autism when we went to Universal Studios a few years ago.  While inside the park, we used a disability pass to avoid waiting in long lines and to get him a stroller.  Both things helped him enjoy the park more and we were grateful for the accommodation.  Two mornings of our trip we had early morning breakfasts in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Both mornings, B struggled.  I would hold him and try to sooth him as we stood in line for breakfast. Both mornings people would comment.  Both mornings my momma got mad.  She wanted people to stay out of our business.  I didn't mind telling people that B was autistic and a little overwhelmed.  I have never wanted to hide his autism from him or others. I want to help people understand him better.

During the trip, we were walking to dinner when B asked "What is autism?"  My eyes grew wide and Ryan and I exchanged a look.  We weren't really prepared for this. We hadn't discussed what we would say.  After a minute of thinking, I told B "Autism just means that your brain works differently.  It's not the same as other people's brains." 

You can image my heartbreak when B then asked me, "Is autism bad?" I immediately told him "NO! Autism makes you awesome!"  We want B to be comfortable with who he is.  Autism is a part of who he is.  It's not all of him but it's an important part.  

Autism can make B seems like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  

Right now, it's my job to guard against B being damaged by other people trying to fit him into a round hole. That's every parent's job, really, to protect their kiddos.  It's also my job to teach him to protect himself.  Yes, he will need to learn to advocate for himself.  

I am not saying that anyone is currently trying to damage my square peg.  But I am on my guard, on the lookout.  No one is going to damage my peg, if I can help it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Monday night was a big night in our home.  Our beloved Clemson Tigers were playing the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship.  I cooked the boys' favorite - meatball sub and curly fries.  We all gathered around the TV to watch the rematch.  The game was long and it was a school night so after a while the boys and I drifted off to our rooms to sleep. Not Ryan, he is die hard.  Around 11:30, I think, I heard a scream so I jumped up and ran to the living room.  Ryan and Zac were jumping around, Clemson had just scored a last minute touchdown and were going to win the National Championship!

One of the reasons I love Clemson is Dabo Sweeney.  Obviously, he's a good football coach. You can't become the leader of a nationally ranked team without being a good coach.  He seems like a nice guy.  He also seems like a huge goober and I love a good goober! But I really loved what he said after the game.  He told a reporter that he told his players, "Let the light inside you shine brighter than the light that is on you.  Only GOD could do this!"

In that moment, at the height of his career, after achieving the thing he had longed for, Dabo Sweeney gave praise to God.  To me, that is the definition of humble.

C.S. Lewis defined humility as not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.  Dabo had demonstrated that.  He could have talked about all the hours they prepared or how talented his players are but he first gave credit to GOD.

GOD opposes the proud?  Then that's not where I want to be! I want to receive grace.  Grace is defined as undeserved favor.  That's what I want! I have not met a person yet who does not want grace.  Even people who claim to not believe in GOD want grace.

We receive GOD's grace when we accept His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Becoming saved is a once for all thing. When you accept Jesus as your savior, you receive GOD's gift of eternal life and you hold that gift forever.  But having a relationship with GOD is a decision you make daily.  I must daily decide to spend time getting to know the LORD by reading my Bible and praying.

Today, I want to think of myself less and think of GOD more.  I want to want what GOD wants more than what I want.  I want to be humble today.  LORD, show me how!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Soak It In

Lately, I've become increasingly aware that our time as a family of 5 under the same roof is becoming short.  Sam is 3 1/2 years away from college.  Boy, that freaks me out.  I keep thinking of all the things we need to teach him before he lives out on his own.

Sunday night was a gift.  All 5 of us were downstairs in the kitchen and living rooms bustling around. Ryan was teaching Sam how to do his laundry.  B and I were making dinner.  I was making cookies for a group of my teachers who won a game last week.  Zac was wandering around, hanging out with us without a specific purpose.  Google home was playing music from Disney movies.  We were all singing. B was dancing.  We were all laughing together.

I tried to pause often to soak it in.

All five of us sat at the table to enjoy B's dinner of Crimson Chin-ken Nuggets from his Nickelodeon cookbook and green beans.  I can not remember what we talked about at dinner but I do remember just enjoying it.

After dinner, Sam and I were back in the kitchen. I was trying a recipe for healthy energy bites and finishing the winner's cookies.   Sam was making a skillet chocolate chip cookie.  He'd seen a video on it and asked me to get the ingredients when I was at the store earlier that day.

While the cookie cooked, we spread out but no one went to their room.  B and I were in the office. I was working on some Silhouette cutting projects, he was writing a book. A few minutes later, Sam came in to finish up his driver's test paperwork.  Ryan and Zac watched football.  Sam's cookie turned out wonderfully.  It was warm and gooey and I was so glad I'd gotten the vanilla ice cream.

Later, after everyone had gone to bed  and I was cleaning the kitchen I told Ryan, "This was the best. I had such a good time cooking, singing, and being silly as a family."

There were points in the night when I could have ruined it.  When B and I were cooking, he took his shirt off instead of just pushing up his sleeves.  I decided to roll with it.  When Sam started making his cookie, I resisted the urge to take over and do it my way. Those things are hard for me.  I love to cook and bake.  I love to have things my own way.  I could have told B to stop jumping up and down on the stool when he was dancing to Moana songs.  I could have told the boys that the music was too loud.  Ryan could have told us all to knock it off.

But none of those things happened.  And it was perfect.  We were perfectly silly and happy to be around each other.  And for that, I am thankful.

I know that everyone's life is busy but God has placed people in your life to love.  Today, try to put aside some of your 'to dos' and soak them in.  Pause a minute and watch them.  Enjoy them.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Control vs. Growth

I'm a huge fan of podcasts.  EntreLeadership is one of my favorites.  It's geared towards entrepreneurs, which I am not.  I'm too risk adverse.  Each episode has an interview with a guest and most are about personal improvement.  I learn something new every time.

The EntreLeader year end episode replays portions of favorite episodes from the year.  It's a great way to see if you'd like the podcast and is well worth your time.  My favorite portion of the episode was Craig Groeschel.  The theme of the episode was delegation.  Here's my favorite quote

Groeschel was, of course, talking about controlling employees but it really made me think of controlling my boys.  Especially since I'm still working on my control issue related to Sam driving.

No one wants their kids to be out of control.  You have to maintain some control.  I'd rather think of it as providing boundaries than control.

When you try to control everything they do, you rob them of opportunities to learn.  A great example of this is clothing.  I'm a boy mom so I don't have the same issues with clothing as girl moms do.  The main issue we have around here is wearing shorts and hoodies when it's cold outside.  My boys seem to think that a hoodie equals a coat.  If it's really cold, they'll throw on some leggings that they usually wear to under uniforms.  Drives me crazy.  But, I let it go (mostly, I do make fun of them a little bit).  I let them learn for themselves when they need more clothes.  I do provide boundaries when we're going to be outside in the cold, like at a football game. I will tell them to put on more clothes then.  But for school, they get to choose.

If I limit my boys to only experiences I've had or I'm comfortable with, I steal opportunities from them.  Take football. I've never played football before.  It's a very physical game.  I was very concerned the first time Sam played.  Then I saw how much he loved it.  And I saw the benefits of the time he spent with Ryan and other men.  It was easier to let Zac play because I'd see the benefits with Sam.

When Zac was younger he wanted to be a chef so I'd let him help me cook. This was a real area of control with me. I love to cook and bake and it's hard to share that with someone.  I can remember one time when Zac was cooking us dinner.  He wanted to make a frittata.  It took forever - he's earned the nickname Pokey Puppy!  I so badly wanted to jump in and finish it and eat dinner. Instead, I sat on the couch.  When dinner was finally ready, it was delicious - worth the wait!

B really tests this.  He wants to do things I know will lead to meltdowns.  Birthday parties for example are very difficult for him.  But I don't want to keep that experience from him and I want to teach him that friends are important.  I do exercise more control in those case though.  We almost always arrive late so there's less time to be overwhelmed.

B is interested in so many things I know nothing about.  I have to work really hard to let him explore those things even though I don't understand.  I try to look for ways for him to connect with other people who do know what they're doing.  I have been known to tell him, "you're just 8, you'll learn this as you grow up." I really want to stop saying that to him.  I don't want to limit him because I think he's too young or I don't know anything about the subject.

What areas of control can you open up to growth?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year's

New Year's really snuck up on me this year.  My break from work was the usual two weeks but it went so quickly.  I really only had 2 days of staying in my pajamas all day.  Which is not to say that break wasn't awesome, it was.  It was just more blowing and going that I expected.

New Year's is a time of renewal.  You're turning the page on the calendar and you want to start fresh.  In my mind, I picture the year as a long, large wall calendar.  December is at the very bottom.  When New Year's hits you climb all the way to the top for January.  

I'm excited to start at the top of the calendar again.  Growing up our next door neighbors were a sweet older couple, the Cades.  Mrs. Cade would always say, "Any day above ground is a good day." She was such a sweet lady. She always made sure I had Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream on my birthday.  

I'm excited to see what GOD has in store for me this year.  He's called me to some new things and I'm excited to see the doors that He's going to open.  This also causes me some stress.  Waiting stresses me out.  I don't mind lines as long as I can see the end and it's moving.  But when GOD calls us to something it's not always immediate.  It can feel like standing in a line that's not moving.  Sometimes it feels like standing in a line that's not only not moving but all the windows at the end of the line a closed - there's no hope of moving.  

That can be a dangerous feeling.  I want to jump start the line - take charge and get things going.  I have to be careful here.  I have to listen for GOD and look for Him first.  I have to make sure my actions are what He wants and not me forging ahead.  And that is hard - so, so, so hard - for an action oriented person like me.  

The only way I know to wait effectively is to pray.  I have to ask GOD, "Is this right? Is this what you want?"  I also have to say, "Lead me, LORD.  Keep me in Your will." 

Pray requires white space in my life.  I have to stop and be still.  I have to focus.  Again, this is so, so, so hard.  My mind wanders. My eyes get heavy. Then I feel guilty for not being focused. It's a viscous cycle sometimes.  

Writing down my prayers has helped me a ton.  When I journal my prayers, it's like I'm writing a letter to GOD.  After I'm done writing, I try to just be still and listen for GOD. He doesn't speak to my audibly but He brings things to my mind.  I ponder those things. I ask, "LORD, is this from You?"

I don't generally make New Year's resolutions.  They are too hard to stick to.  I like to make short and long term goals.  I've shared my goals with you before.  I have short term goals for this January.  I'm going to run 3 days a week, do yoga 2 days a week, finish a Bible study I started, and finish a book I started.  But my long term goal for this year is just one word - SPACE.  I want to create space in my life.  I want more time to stop, be still and rest so I can know I'm on the right track.

What are your goals for the new year?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Like many autistic people, B-man has obsessions.  He seems to cycle through a few though instead of focusing on one all the time.  One of his recurring ones is Skylanders.  If you not familiar, Skylanders is a video game series created by evil geniuses.  The regular person/technogeek  side of me is in awe - the game requires a portal and figures to be played effectively.  The momma side of me is irritated - every new iteration of this game requires a new portal and new figures.  When the new version of Madden or NBA comes out, you plunk down $70, get the game and get on with life.  When a new version of Skylanders comes out you, you plunk down $40-80 for the new game, portal and figure.  Then you continue to shell out $15 a pop for figures so you can advance in the game.   We're on our 5th version of Skylanders.  I shutter to think what I've paid for this game over the past few years.

One of the versions of Skylanders is call Swap Force.  These figures come divided in half and held together with a magnet.  You can swap out their tops and bottoms to get new powers in the game.  Again, the technogeek marvels at the idea and programming behind this, the momma furiously tries to find the matching top and bottoms in B's room before meltdown.  Anywho...Swap Force has no doubt inspired B's latest creation: Swappies.

This started last week when he brought me a piece of paper and asked me to film his commercial.  He had written it down and wanted me to record him reading it.  This is huge.  He is so creative and wants things written down but he physical act of writing is so hard for him.  But here he was with a commercial he had written all on his own.  Enjoy!

The next day we were out and about as a family.  I needed to go into Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store, which really should just be called Jo-Ann's.  B told me he needed supplies to make his Swappies - clay and magnets.  15 dollar later, he had what he needed.  As I worked on my ill fated project, he started sculpting.  Sculpting from drawing he'd done, I might add!

Next he wanted to paint the Swappies.  I told him he probably needed to wait until the clay dried to paint them.  He agreed and the next morning started painting.

This is where things took a hard left.  The painting did not go so well.  As he started painting, I left get my hair done so I'm not exactly sure what happened but it's my fault, according to B. When I returned home all the Swappies were in the trash.  Apparently, they didn't hold up so well to the painting  and my advice to wait for them to dry before painting was no longer appreciated.  This is the current state of the Swappies.

B was pretty upset at first but he cooled down.  He's trying to figure out what to do next on his Swappies.  I'm just so proud that he tried to create something.  One of his favorite videos on TED-ED is about the design process.  He went through the design process with Swappies.  It didn't turn out how he would have liked but he did admit to having fun trying.  That's all a huge step for him.  Usually if things don't work out they were horrible for the get go.

Progress is a beautiful thing!