Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Style Loft

Today a dream comes true!  Two of my best friends are opening a boutique today.  The Style Loft!

A few months ago, my sister in law Laura texted me to ask if I could help her and our friend Andrea with a website.  They were starting an online boutique and would need some technical assistance.  Of course, I'd help!

As I've helped, I've had the privilege of watching their dream take shape.  They both have impeccable taste and it's reflected in every aspect of The Style Loft - the logo, the clothes and jewelry they've selected, their booth at Canton.
The clothes are so cute and extremely stylish. They carry Umgee and 12pm by Mon Ami, 2 brands that I love! They have shirts, pants, rompers, dresses and jeans available online.  At Canton they'll also have shoes, jewelry, home decor and accessories.  

The Style Loft is an online woman's clothing boutique.  You can shop online at TSL will also be at First Monday Trade Days in Canton.  At Canton TSL will be in Pavilion 3, Booths 33 & 34.

Laura and Andrea have worked so hard to get every detail perfect. I could not be more proud of them. I can't wait for you to see their boutique!  Check out the website:

You can also follow them on social media:
Twitter: @TSLboutique
Instagram: @TSLboutique
Pinterest: TSLboutiqueTX

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A New Thing

I've been an educator my entire life.  I grew up 'teaching' the neighborhood kids on a giant chalkboard at our babysitter's house.  As an adult, I've only had 1 job NOT at an educational institution. Even then, I was in training so I was still educating.

A few years ago, I experienced a career set back and it was devastating at the time.  Looking back though, I can see God's provision and blessings.  I would not have sought after God the way I have in the past 4 years.  I would not have been begging God to speak to me and direct me.  And I would not have been in a position to listen and obey.  I had to come to the end of me to receive what God had for me.

One of the major thing that I obeyed God on was starting a special needs ministry at our church. That was an easy yes. There was a need and everything feel into place. Valuable has been such a blessing to me! I've met, served, and served with some wonderful people.  I've gotten to be a part of the KidsMin staff and I absolutely treasure that!

Another thing I obeyed God about was staying in my full time job at Sunnyvale Middle School. This one was always as easy as starting Valuable.  God and I struggled over this one.  I questioned Him - a lot! But He provided me the strength to stay faithful.

I love my job at SMS, that wasn't the problem.  I just questioned if I was supposed to stay in education or move into full time ministry.  I guess that's where the struggle was, I didn't know what I was going to do next.  I had to trust that God had a plan and that His timing would be perfect.

And He didn't disappoint!

In April I was at the Orange Conference with the cLife KidsMin team.  During one of the large group sessions, I felt God stirring in my heart.  I, of course, answered with a question: "God, are you really calling me to stay in education full time, special needs ministry and writing all at once? Surely not!" I began praying and God continued to move.

Monday I signed a new contract at Sunnyvale ISD to become the Learning & Innovation Specialist.  It's a brand new role.  I'm going to be over the Middle School library.  I've been a certified librarian for 5 years and I'm so excited to use those skills to get kids into the library and reading more.  I'll also be helping both the Middle School and High School teachers with innovative teaching strategies.  This will mean a wide variety of things but will include integrating technology into the classroom and our form of problem based learning we called ELUs (engaged learning units).

I am over the moon excited about this new opportunity!  I feel like I'm going to get to use all my talents and serve more teachers and students.  I'm so thankful that our Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent are creative thinkers willing to try something new.  I'm also pretty thankful they are letting me be the one to do it!

I'm also a bit nervous.  I'm giving up some job duties I've had for the 8 years I've been at Sunnyvale.  I'm nervous about working on two campuses.  I still get to teach an elective course at the end of the day.  I'm happy and nervous about that.  I want to do an outstanding job at all the things! When I expressed my nervousness to my Superintendent, Mr. Williams, he gave me some awesome words of wisdom: "You're doing something new, you're supposed to be nervous."

So, I guess I'm right on track!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


I'm a fan of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Their devotionals almost always connect with me.  A while back, they launched an app called First Five.  The idea of the app is to help you spend your first five minutes of the day with God.  When the app launched I was not great at getting up for my devotionals.  First Five really helped me get into a groove. From there I began reading and studying God's Word on my own.  I got into a routine of getting up early, studying, writing then heading back to bed for a little cat nap.

In the spring I got so tired.  I could not sleep enough.  I would get up, write then go back to bed.  This went on for a few months.

In the past few weeks, I've been getting up, getting breakfast and listening to the NPR news podcast Up First.  God really began to convict me that I was not spending time in His Word.  I certainly wasn't giving Him my first five minutes.

I decided to get back into the First Five app.  They had a new study starting on June 26th so I ordered the experience guide.  I didn't even check to see what the study was about.

I started the study yesterday and I was not disappointed.  The study is called Covenant.  It's a study of Ruth, Esther and Song of Solomon.

We had these verses from Ruth read at our wedding.  But this morning I learned that Ruth was a Moabite.  Her husband should not have married her.  They did not believe in the same God.  So when Ruth tells Naomi "your God will be my God." it was a big deal!  Ruth was choosing not only to stay with Naomi but to follow the one true God of Israel.

As I child I decided to follow the one true God.  Since that time, my salvation has never been in question.  However, my relationship with God is not always as close as it could and should be.  I'm so thankful that God loves me enough to convict me when I stray away.  I love how the Bible is timeless, there's something to learn at every turn.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tale of 2 Celebrations

Through a strange series of events, B ended up with 2 birthday celebrations with friends.  And by strange I mean, my poor planning.  Anywhooo...

I felt very strange about the whole thing.  2 celebrations felt over the top. But, as things often do, everything turned out for the best.  

B had one Pokemon themed celebration with 3 of his friends from school at our house.  They hunted for Pokeballs in the front yard ala Easter Egg hunt. They hunted, ate cake, opened presents then just played.  It was low stress for everyone.  

His second celebration was at Sweet Frogs with some other friends who had been out of town.  This too was perfect for B as well.  He and his friends got to create their frozen yogurt concoctions, laughed and ate.  And cracked me up! 

Now that it's over, I'm so glad we did it this way.  B was able to handle both celebrations with no meltdowns.  He was able to pay attention to his friends at each celebration.  No one got lost in a crowd.  He wasn't overwhelmed in either instance.  

I am so thankful for the friends that B has and that they were able to celebrate with him.  As a parent, you're worried that your kids wouldn't have friends.  When you're kid has autism that makes socializing difficult, that concern grows. B's friends are so sweet to him and understanding when he gets overwhelmed.  That's a gift to all of us.  

Sometimes what seems strange at first works out better than you could have imagined. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


In May I shared my TBR (to be read) pile with you.  The first book in my pile was The Myth of Balance.  Next up is Visoneering by Andy Stanley.

Andy Stanley is a pastor in Atlanta, Georgia.  He founded North Pointe Ministries in 1995 and it has grown to 6 churchs in the Atlanta area and 30 networked churches around the globe.  At least that's what the back of the book says ;).  I first encountered Andy Stanley at the Orange Conference last year.  He's a very relatable speaker.  At this year's Orange Confernce, the book store had a revised and updated edition of Visioneering and I grabbed it.

In Visioneering, Andy goes through 20 building blocks for Visoneering.  Every building block is discussed against the backdrop of the story of Nehemiah from the Old Testament.  God gave Nehemiah a vision for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

Visioneering is a wonderful book.  It is full of so much Biblical wisdom.  I like to highlight my books and this one is full of pink highlights!  As I read I could relate and apply things to visions God has given me in my own life.

I wouldn't go through the entire book, although I could.  I could write a super in depth review but this is such a deeply personal book that you need to read it for yourself  My applications and insights wouldn't be the same as yours. God has not given us the same vision.

My favorite chapter is near the end of the book.  It's called The Inexplicable Life.

As we slosh through the brick and mortar phase of pursuing our vision, we are to live lives that reflect the character of Christ.  We are to conduct ourselves in such a way that causes people to take notice.  And upon further examination, to draw the conculusion that there is someting devine about our lives.  In short, we are to live inexplicable lives.  (pg. 223)

Above and beyond the achievements associated with your vision, he wants to draw people to himself.  (pg 223)  

The truth is, our secular pursuits have more kingdom potential than our religious ones.  For it is in the realm of our secular pursuits that secular people are watching.  (pg. 224) 

Stanley goes on to talk about 3 things that make us stand out.  The first is peace.  So many people are not at peace with themselves or others.  When we maintain our joy and peace, we differeniate ourselves.  The next is healthy relationships.  Don't let your goals get in the way of people.  Take care of your spouse, your children and those closest to you.  The final thing that will make us stand out is our character.  We can not sacrifice our characters for our vision or goals.  When we compromise our character we take God out of our vision.

I can not tell you how this chapter spoke to me! I get so caught up in the kingdom applicaitons of what I'm doing at church.  I forget that my work at school and at home also have kingdom applications. I want to stand out.  I want my life to point people to God. Everything we do, every success we have is so that God can shine through us.

These are things I need to remember as I go about my day.  I am called to live an inexplicable life.  And so are you!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


B man turned 9 this past weekend.  My boys' birthdays always make me think about how far we've come and where we're headed.  But B's birthday makes me especially introspective.  He's gone from being sickly and failure to thrive to a healthy boy.  He's gone from 3 words (the doctor wouldn't let me count daddy and dada as 2 words) to more complex vocabulary than many college graduates.  He's able to tell us when he needs help at least 75% of the time now instead of a complete meltdown.  I could go on and on.

So, I want to share with y'all some promises I've made to B-man for his 9th year.

I promise to find the sweet spot between pushing you and overwhelming you.

I promise to encourage your interests, no matter how foreign they are to me.

I promise to do everything I can to set you up for success.

I promise to balance your needs with the needs of The Bigs.

I promise to take your concerns seriously.

I promise to help you face your fears.

I promise I will do everything I can to help people understand you.

I promise I will keep telling you that you are AU-some and that Autism makes you awesome.

I promise to do everything within my power to help you understand that you were created in God's own image and that He loves you just the way you are.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


This week has been RIOT week at church.  RIOT is our version of VBS - on steroids! Today is actually the last day!

B has tried RIOT in the past and had some trouble but I knew he was up for it this year.  We also had a couple other of our Valuable Special Needs ministry kiddos there so I was pumped! Each day consists of a high energy opening session, Bible study, Impact (missions), Rec/Snack sessions and a high energy closing session.

On Monday B put on his noise cancelling headphones and went into the opening session.  He was good for a bit but became overwhelmed.  He went to our Valuable room and hid in the tent. I convinced him to come out for the Impact session but that was short lived as well. I decided not to fight him.  He stayed in the tent while I checked on the other kids.

Tuesday morning as soon as he got up he said, "I don't think I'm ready for RIOT".  But I had a plan.  How about if we skip the opening and closing sessions and just do the Impact, Bible Study and Rec/Snack sessions.  He said he'd try.

He did awesome!! He participated in the Impact session and love it.  He wasn't so sure about Rec but went outside anyway and made it all the way through!  I was so proud of him!

Wednesday was super hero day at RIOT.  I tried to get B to wear a Flash shirt but he wasn't having it.  He was going as a super villain - Pumpkula (pumpkin + Dracula).  A villain he made up himself, he even created a mask! He dressed himself in orange and green (pumpkin style) and off we went.

As soon as we walked in the door, he was looking for Ms. Laci, our children's minister.  While he looked he talked to anyone who would listen about Pumpkula.

His super villain powers are shooting poisonous carrots.
His nemesis is Apple Man who shoots apples from a gun or cannon.
Pumpkula has super salad powers.

B even let some kids try on the mask.  Pumpkula was a big hit!

B wore his mask to Impact and participated with it on!  He needed a break afterwards so we took a 10 minute break before Bible Study.  He struggled with Rec when he couldn't catch a water balloon in a kitchen colander.

But on the whole, I'm super proud of B.  He faced some challenges this week and did well.  He was able to share his creation with others.  And he learned a thing or two about Jesus.  I'm a happy momma!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Summer of Yes!

At the end of May, I wrote about telling B-man "No" all the time and telling him yes when it costs very little.  At the end of that post, I mentioned that one of the reasons I like summer is that I tell B "Yes" more often.    Today I want to update you on the things I've said yes to so far this summer.

  • Sweet Frogs for dinner
  • Sleeping in a cabinet at a hotel
  • Building a house for the hermit crab 
  • Putting the hermit crab in the house
  • Taking over the TV by casting his YouTube videos from his iPad
  • A new lamp from IKEA for his stop motion videos
  • Movies at bedtime

And my favorite...

Asking a Lowe's employee about monsters!

A little explanation here...

B-man has rediscovered Scooby Doo.  He's super interested in the monsters they catch.  He wants to catch monsters himself.  So, he did what ya do.  He Googled "Where do monsters hang out?"  Turns out that monsters like to hang out at hardware stores.  Ryan, B and I went to Lowe's to look at paint samples.  Every time we passed an employee he'd say, "Excuse me" but Ryan and I would shut him down quickly.

On our way out the door, an employee smiled at B and said have a nice day.  Ryan could tell that B really wanted to talk to her.  So, we went back in.

"Excuse me. Have you noticed anything strange going on around here?  Like any monsters?"

The employee looked a little confused, "No, I don't think so" I tried to help her out "You know, like Scooby Doo kind of monsters.  This seemed to help.  Her face light up "No, nothing like that."

B: "OK, well, monsters like to hang out in hardware stores so keep you eyes out and check for unusual stuff on the security cameras"

A huge smile spread across her face and she promised B that she'd keep an eye out.  Satisfied, B was ready to go.

I was so happy that we'd said "Yes"! It made B happy and I'd like to think it made the Lowe's employee happy.  Can't we all use more happiness?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Cost of Independence

When you find out that your child has a developmental disability like autism, you immediately start to wonder how independent he or she will be able to be.  I want B to be independent.  But I also know that his development is uneven.  He's very advanced in some areas, right on target in others and very behind in others.

I struggle to find the balance of helping B with things that are hard and pushing him to do things for himself. Some of that struggle is purely selfish.  If I do it, it's done correctly with very little mess.  But there's no learning or growing there for B.

B is definitely a maker. He's forever making things.  At least once a week he wants to set up a stand in front of the house to sell things he's made.  Last week, B went to art camp and made some awesome things.

The first day of art camp I was at the allergist with Zac so Sam took B, but Zac and I picked him up. When the art teacher brought him to the car she mentioned how much they enjoyed the cheese toast B brought to camp for everyone.  I smiled and said "Oh great!" but I had no idea what she was talking about.

As we drove off B told me he had made grilled cheese for his friends at art camp.  I thought Sam had made him some sandwiches on the griddle and let it go.  When we got home and there was no dirty griddle, I had to investigate more.

Turns out that B had made the grilled cheese sandwiches himself while Sam was upstairs getting dressed.  In the toaster.  My shiny new toaster.  Not a toaster oven.  An actual stand up toaster.

I was irritated at first but then I was proud of B.  He had fixed himself some lunch and thought enough of his friends to fix them some as well.

We did have a conversation about toaster safety, what you can put in the toaster and what you can't.  We also enacted a new rule that you can't use the toaster without someone in the kitchen with you.

There's always a price to pay for independence.  If you're lucky, it's just a toaster.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Who among us doesn't want to change or improve something about us or our situation?  I know I do! I'm working on shedding these extra pounds I stress-ate my self into.  I know exactly how I got here.

Peanut butter sandwiches in the middle of the night.

I don't sleep well when I'm stressed.  I wake up often.  I love peanut butter.  And also bread.  Oh how I love bread!!  So, I'd wake up in the middle of the night and decide I was hungry.  I'd get up and make myself a peanut butter sandwich.  And it was so delicious that I'd make myself another one.  Then I'd force myself to get back in bed before I ate the whole jar and an entire loaf of bread.

This ritual had another consequence.  I was tired.  It turns out it's not so easy to go back to sleep after you've eaten 2 peanut butter sandwiches.  So, I'd watch a couple of episodes of Friends or 30 Rock.  When the alarm went off I was not rested.  I started skipping my morning quiet time and my evening workouts.  I was just too tired.

I have a million excuses.  Things are so busy right now, it's hard to eat right.  I'll grab us Taco Cabana again because we need to get to this or that game.  I'm too tired to work out.

Yesterday I was talking to my fabulous sister in law, who doubles as one of my best friends. In the course of the conversation, I made the statement "If you want different, you have to be different."

Isn't it funny how God uses your own words to convict you!

I want to lose weight but I still want to eat whatever I want.

I want to be close to God but I don't want to get up and do my quiet time.

I put my new mantra into action last night.  I wanted a diet green tea with strawberry from Sonic.  Ryan and B wanted ice cream so off I went.  When I got to Sonic, I was tempted to get an ice cream.  But then I remembered, I want to lose weight and if I want different, I have to be different.  I skipped the ice cream and just ordered my tea.  I didn't even sneak a bite of Ryan's ice cream!

What do you need to do different?  Share in the comments and let's encourage one another.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Road Trippin' with B

Last weekend we took a family road trip to College Station.  Zac's baseball team was set to play in a tournament there and Sam was going to participate in a football camp at A&M.

When I asked B to pack a bag of things to do, he packed recyclables, double sided tape and my good scissors.  I'm still trying to figure out how he found them! I packed his iPad, an extra battery and the hot spot.

Things did not start off great.  We had barely left the neighborhood when B had a mini-meltdown.  He couldn't figure out how to sleep in the back seat with his pillow and not have the seatbelt cut into him.  We stopped for lunch and I showed him how to set everything up. But still, not a good sign.

We try to stay in places with suites so we can all stay in one room and maybe get B a little privacy.  This time we stayed in an extended stay style hotel.  The room was big with 2 queen beds, a pull out couch and a kitchenette.  It also had more cabinets than any hotel I'd ever been in.  B was amazed at one of the large cabinets and declared it his.

I thought this meant he was simply store his stuff there.  Nope.  He intended to sleep there.  He was thrilled that he fit so nicely.  I know he likes to be in tight spaces, it's a sensory thing, so I didn't argue.  He slept there for about an hour the first night and a couple of hours the second night before getting out and getting into bed.

You might be thinking at this point, "What an awful mom! She let her kid sleep in a cabinet!  That's so Harry Potter!" Don't worry, it's nothing I haven't said to myself.  But B is not your average kiddo.  I try to do what's best for him.  Getting into a cabinet (with the doors open) is good for him.

Traveling is hard for him.  He's out of his element and totally over stimulated.  Road trips for sports is a double whammy.  He's away from home and expected hang out for long stretches at games.  Games are hard for him, especially in the summer.  It's hot.  It can be hectic and long.  There are lots of opportunities to wander away.  Road trips can be an autism land mine.  So if crawling in a cabinet can help him relax, I say go for it!

I do want to tell you about the ride home.  Before we pulled out, I set the navigation system to our home address.  Ryan was a little confused.  He knew how to get home.  But the system will tell you how much longer you have and what time you should arrive.  After B took a little nap, he wanted to know when we'd be home.  5 minutes later, he wanted to know when we'd be home.  10 minutes later he wanted to know when we'd be home.  We told him he couldn't ask for 30 minutes.  10 minutes later he asked if it had been 30 minutes.  Each time I pressed the button to check our time on the navigation I gave Ryan a sly smile.  Momma knows!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

B-man, how does your garden grow?

Actually, he has no idea.  He's developed a debilitating fear of bees and wasps so he wouldn't go out there.  I've decided not to push him for now.  I check on the garden and take pictures to show him.  He's happy.  Sometimes I facetime the garden with my momma because I have no idea what it should look like.  I'm not that outdoorsy either.

Our garden adventure started with a worm farm in December.  It progressed to seeds and seedlings.  These perished because we started them too soon.  So they didn't actually get planted.  Next came the building of the garden box - pre-wasp/bee fear.  B and my momma planted seeds in March (I can't believe I didn't blog that one).

Here's the garden now.  It looks a little overgrown but momma assures me it's fine.  I didn't know that pumpkins grow on vines.  Those vines are taking over.  I've had to pull them off the A/C units nearby but the good news is that they stayed off and grew in another direction.

 I can't remember what all we've planted because I've slept since then.  We did put little markers in the ground but we put them in the back and now things are growing over them. We're learning stuff all over the place!

Here's what's growing.


We've also harvested some onions.  And by harvested I mean they were almost completely out of the ground so I pulled them and brought them inside.  

There you have it! We've grown onions and we may have a pumpkin, a cob of corn and 2 tomatoes if we don't mess it up.  I'll keep you updated!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

That's a wrap!

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activities but it's all been worth it.  The school year has come to an end! When I think about this school year, I can't help but think how far we've come.

Sambo filled in for me
until I could get to B's
end of year party.  
 B had a great year.  This is the first year he hasn't had to be self contained for part of the year.  That's a huge win! I totally credit his teachers.  They were exactly what he needed.  B's default is 'no'.  The key is to tell him what you expect then walk away.  Don't engage, don't fight.  His teachers this year really understood him. The first step to that success is that his principal understands and love him and matched him a great teaching team. I hope they had a great year with them. I'm sure they're exhausted.

I'm wearing heels!
Another boy taller than me!
Zac had a great year in 7th grade.  His athletics took center stage.  He was able to improve and excel in all three of his school sports - football, basketball and track. He's still playing baseball and improving each game. I was continually amazed at Zac's abilities this year but track blew me away.  He was the anchor in the 4x400 and twice took the baton in third place and ended with a win.  The boy is fast and I have no idea where he gets it!

Sambo and I have differing opinions on the first year of high school.  I think I struggled more than he did with it.  Sam's learning himself and how he learns best.  He made it through 6 years of school without us realizing he was dyslexic.  Some of that was him just being bright enough to figure things out without being able to read all the words. As the work is getting harder, he's learning when he needs his accommodations and how to make sure he gets them.  I think he sees the need for his accommodations more. Athletically, Sam tried a new sport - powerlifting - and returned to baseball after not playing for 3 years.  His drive amazes me!
Sambo's 1st HS
Athletic Banquet

I struggled this year with mommy-guilt.  Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right things?  What should I be doing?  There were times when I thought I had it all together only to have it fall apart the next day.  

I'm learning how to be the momma of teenage boys.  I want them to talk more.  They want to work out and sleep more.  But God is teaching us all.  We just have to remember to let Him lead.  That's really been the biggest lesson I've learned this year: to pray for God's leadership and guidance.

One thing is for sure, I am so proud to be their momma.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I'm so glad God chose them for me. 

What did you learn about your kids or yourself this school year?