Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Or Bap-ba-tism as B-man would say.

Sunday was the big day! B was baptized! Back in August I wrote about B getting saved/accepting Jesus as his Savior.  As a Christians, we believe that the next step is to publicly declare that we've accepted Jesus and the way to do that is through Baptism.

B has been looking forward to this day for a while.  Ryan & I have been trying to figure out how to make sure things would go off without a meltdown.  Ryan had the great idea of having him wear a swim mask so that he didn't get upset when the water got on his face.  I did my best to walk him through what would happen.  We decided that I would walk up with B and stand nearby in case of emergency.

Saturday night B stayed the night with Nene.  He told her he needed to go to bed at 7:30 so he'd be in a good mood for his big day.  Sunday morning he was "both excited and nervous".  At church, he got a shirt and he got to write how accepting Jesus and baptism made him feel. First he wrote this:

Then he added to it:

Pastor Joe talked to B, and the others who were getting baptized, and cracked a joke.  He said families could pay him to hold you under longer then you could pay more than your family to go under a shorter amount of time.  B's hand shot up.  "Does the amount of time you're under equal how much you love God?"  Joe assured him that it did not!  If it did, I'm sure B would have opted to stay under as long as possible! Baptism was at the end of the service.  B waited patiently, although he did need to use the restroom a lot...

Finally, the time came!  Watch until the end! 

We have such a strong group of friends.  One of the daughters of another family in our group was baptized right after B, along with her aunt! So we had a great group of friends come celebrate with us.  B was on Cloud 9.  He told me about 10 times that this was the best day ever! 

I'd have to agree! It was a great day.  A day I wasn't sure we'd see for B.  Back when he was non-verbal, I didn't know if he'd say anything.  Much less make a profession of faith.  I didn't like that possibility but I know that God has a plan to bring all men to Himself so I knew He had a plan for non-verbal people.  As I learned more about autism, I became more worried.  Many autistic people are black and white. There's not a lot of grey area.  Things must be seen to be believed.  Christianity is just not like that.  Faith isn't like that.  I worried that B would not be able to understand and accept something so abstract.  I'm so thankful that God answered my prayers.  

Here are some other pictures from B's big day, thanks to a sweet friend! 
Waiting his turn. 

Praying afterwards!


 I made a cake for our family dinner Sunday night.  B decorated it: Happy Baptism To Me

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


You know what a ledger is right?  A big accounting of debits and credits.  A running list. 

Can I tell you something?  I'm really bad about keeping a ledger of rights and wrongs in my head.  And it's a problem. 

I keep up with things I've done to people.  I keep up with things people have done to me.  I keep up with things I've done for people.  It's not really a part of my day to day life.  I don't walk up to people and immediate bring up my ledger for them.  But, it's there in the back of my head. 

And it usually goes hand in hand with gossip, anger and hurt.  If I'm gossiping about someone the little Aimee in my head goes to her filing cabinet (I imagine my brain as a filing cabinet) and pulls that person's ledger. 

If someone makes me mad or hurts my feelers, little Aimee in my head retrieves their ledgers. 

It works against me too.  When I mess up, little Aimee in my head pulls out my own ledger of stupid things I've done in the past. 

I read these verses yesterday morning:


Paul is forgiving the Corinthians for the sake of Christ.  So that they may receive Paul's teachings and come to know Christ better.  But, it's that last verse that really got me thinking. 

so that we would not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.  

When we don't forgive, we set ourselves up to be outwitted by Satan.  That is not okay with me.  I want Satan as far from me as possible and I certainly don't want to be outwitted by anyone. 

So, I'm asking God to forgive me first off for keeping my ledgers (and the gossiping it's a terrible habit).  I'm asking him to help me be more like Paul - forgiving - towards others and myself. 

We all grew up hearing "forgive and forget".  That is so hard.  And I don't buy it.  I don't want to forget the people who wrong me because I don't want to be wronged again.  I think a better saying would be "forgive and give grace".  I want to forgive those who've hurt me and I want to offer them the same grace Christ offers me - the grace of a fresh start. 

Here's to a fresh start, free of ledgers!


I love to hear people talk about their journeys.  I love to hear how they from point A to point B.  I am generally about to listen to these stories without judgement.  I just love to learn from other people's perspective. 

I was listening to a podcast last week and the guest talked about going to a prestigious university and getting a job in television news.  She said it was easy.  As if she didn't have to work for it.  And it made me mad. 

Granted, this was one sentence in an hour long interview.  I really enjoyed the rest of the interview.  But that sentence stuck with me. 

I know that life involves a certain bit of luck.  You need to be at the right place at the right time.  I love Malcom Gladwell's work on this in Outliers.  In Outliers he talks about successful people being in the right place at the right time.  It's one of my favorite books.  I check out the audiobook from the library on the regular. 

Also, I don't want everyone to have to suffer for their dreams.  I haven't suffered for my dreams.  But I've had to work.  I want my boys to work.  I want my students to work.

I want them to know if you work hard, you can achieve their dreams.

Could we have more of these stories?  Let's hear them.  Let's celebrate them!

What's your favorite "hard work got me here" story?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


There is a movement in education call MakerEd.  According to makered.org, MakerEd is:

Maker education is an interactive, open-ended approach that is learner-driven and allows for the time and space needed to develop diverse skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking. By harnessing the power of making, maker education allows us to create engaging and motivating learning experiences.

I'm a big believer in it. I am fortunate enough to teach a MakerSpace class.  My kids get to make and create and problem solve and work with their hands and have fun.  I love it. 

So does B-man.  He gets to go to a MakerSpace at his school.  A MakerSpace is exactly what it sounds like, a space to make. 

Last Spring I got to go to a MakerSpace conference and learned about the MakerEd department at SMU.  I immediately started following @MakerEdSMU on Twitter.  I applied for their summer professional development but wasn't selected to go (insert sad face here).  Anyway, when I got an invitation for the opening of their MakerTruck, I jumped at the opportunity to go!  I RSVP'ed immediately. 

I'll be honest, on Sunday morning though, a nap was sounding good.  But I gave myself a pep talk and told myself, "don't be that mom, take B to the MakerTruck".  I'm so glad I did.  He was so in his element!

He made a Hollywood sign to add to the cityscape.  He also jumped in and learned a little bit about LED lights, batteries and motors.  He was not shy about asking for helping.  And in his own words, "No Meltdowns!" 

As usual, I was in awe of B-man! He cut out all the letters for the Hollywood sign himself.  Cutting is not easy for him.  He struggles to hold the scissors correctly and usually does not.  He didn't draw the letters out first, he just cut. 

Neither one of us knew anything about circuits.  But he wanted to learn.  There was a dad there with his own kids.  B very politely asked for help.  Then was able to apply what he learned. 

He was so excited about what he learned that he walked up to anyone with a suit to thank them and tell them what he made.  He spoke to the Dean of the College of Engineering and a random teacher.  Besides working on interrupting, I was pretty proud of him. 

The really cool thing is that he didn't stop after we left SMU.  That night at home he continued to create using some odd parts we had at home. 

And that, my friends, is what Making is about! Thanks SMU!

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.