Thursday, November 30, 2017


I always try to be honest with you, dear reader, so believe me when I say that this fall has been one of the hardest I've experienced.  As an educator, my life is still delineated by semesters - fall, spring and summer.  I've shared some of these hard things with you.  The death of my father in law and my anaphylaxis being the main ones.  Some of I've held back - B-mans struggles, the lingering ever present headache since the anaphylaxis, the concussion Zac suffered.  Others are not my story to tell.  Situations that I'm peripherally involved in but that have effected me to my very core. 

To be certain, the fall has been filled with good things. Sam achieved his goal of playing Varsity football as a sophomore.  He was even able to becoming the starting center 3 games into the season.  This was especially meaningful as my nephew is the quarterback.  It just felt right to see them working together again at the thing they love, the game they've played together since they were 6. Zac had an awesome 8th grade football season as well.  I love to watch my boys play the game they love. The whole environment around football makes me happy. It was wonderful to see their hard work and dedication play off. 

My new job was also a bright spot. I worked hard, as did Ryan, to transform the middle school library this summer. I rearranged the furniture to make it a more inviting space.  That sounds super simple but actually involves removing every non-fiction book from the shelves, waiting for the sainted maintenance staff to move the shelves according to my drawing, then returning all the non-fiction books to their homes.  I planned lessons and choose books to read out loud to our 5th - 8th graders.  I got a vending machine, the kind that you'd see at a restaurant - put in a quarter, get a bubble container out with a prize, that spits out book recommendations for kiddos.  My assistant bought fish.  The library is a different place and kids love it.  I know because they run to the library on their days and plop on the couch, eager to be read to.

The B-side to every good thing is the stress caused by change and new situations.  I try to remember that this is the good stress.  The stress I asked for.  But, in the end, it is stress none the less.  Please don't misunderstand me.  The fall has not been a constant pit of misery.  Many good things have happened.  I've been able to serve many people with a happy heart. It's not all doom and gloom up in here.  The struggles seem to be more acute this year.

My seemingly constant companion lately has been fatigue and heaviness of spirit.  When I finally saw my doctor about the headache I'd had since the anaphylaxis, I inquired about my fatigue concerned there was another cause.  I love my doctor, she's been my doctor since I was in college.  She must have been straight out of medical school because I've always felt like she was my age.  My sweet doctor looked straight into my eyes and said "Of course your tired.  You've had a headache for over a month.  Your brain hurts and it wants to rest." 

The downside of this need to rest are the things that get cut in favor of sleep.  A couple of times it's been this blog.  But mostly, it's been my morning Bible Study and quiet time with the LORD.  There are just some mornings I can't get out of bed until the dead last minute.  There are other times that I've gotten up but can't concentrate or understand what I'm reading.  While these leaves me feeling further from God, I know that it's in our troubles and sorrows that he pulls us close.  I have not doubted His love for me this fall. I have worried about my ability to return that affection. 

As always, music has been a healing force.  When I'm too tired to express my love and gratitude to the LORD, music steps in.  The Psalm albums by Shane and Shane have been my top playlist this fall.  I love to hear them sing the words of David.  A man after God's own heart but so ordinary a human that a pretty lady almost derailed it all. And I remember that if David did all that, and more, and was still described as a man after God's own heart there's hope for me yet. 

Hope.  A funny thing.  An odd concept. And my another of my companions.  Every day I hope I am doing a good job.  Every day I hope my headache subsides.  I hope my boys are happy and healthy.  I hope B is able to make it through the day without hurting himself or another.  I hope those around me hurting know I hurt with them. I hope I've shown them the hope of the LORD. 

At the beginning of the school year, our Superintendent shared with us about a book he was reading called Grit.  I've heard this saying a million times before but I'm so thankful that the LORD let me to write it down this time.  I keep index cards on my desk, right by my computer to remind me of the LORD's promises - saying or verses to inspire me.  I trade them out from time to time but this one has stayed. 

Tough is not a word I'd use to describe myself.  I'm persistent. I'm not tough.  Not traditionally tough.  I don't think anyone would be scared to meet me in a dark alley.  But, I'm learning that I am tough.  I know that I'm not a tough person on my own.  I can't do it under my own strength, the LORD gives me the strength I need.  He also provides an awesome support system for me.  My sweet Ryan who picks up my slack at home. My momma, my sister in law, my biffles, my tribe, my coworkers, the boys' teachers, B's support team and therapist and many others I've failed to mention.  I am blessed beyond measure at the people who come alongside me.   

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Secret Stash by B

He's done it again! B-man has created another board game.  It's called Secret Stash. 

The game lasts 1 minute.  You have to pick a number between 1 and 5 then move that many spaces.  You can earn 'money' or you might have to give it back.  Whoever has the most money at the end of the minute wins. 

Here's the game board

He also created all the game pawns from polymer clay.  The cards in the ziploc are the 'money'. 

Here he is with his creation.  Notice his iPad pulled up to the timer.  The time limit is serious business. 

As you might imagine, he's very good at his own game.  I lost handily. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


I also do not think I look old enough to have a 17 year old son, thank you so much for saying so. 

But I do.  My sweet Sambo is 17 today. 

Sam is my gentle giant.  He's tough on the football field but he has a tender heart. 

I am so proud of how hard he works.  I am proud of what a good brother he is.  I'm proud of how caring he is in general.  I am proud of how he's handled tough situations this year.  I am proud of his love for the Lord.  He's a good kid. 

I don't want to go on and on and embarrass him.  I wouldn't tell any embarrassing stories.  I'll tell those in person. 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this year...

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you are enjoying the day with your family.  I hope you've eaten until you're uncomfortable. I pray you have your best stretchy pants on. 

I want to share some things I'm thankful for today...

My family - Ryan and the boys are the lights of my life.  They make me smile every day and scream only every other day.  My momma, Ryan's momma, my sister, Ryan's brother and sister and their families are very important to me and I'm so glad they are a part of our everyday life.  I'm thankful we all live pretty close together.  I only wish my uncle lived closer.

My friends - I'm blessed to have to 2 sets of wonderful friends.  My 'biffles' here in Sunnyvale get me through my day to day drama.  Need some signs painted for football?  Call the biffles.  Need some wine?  Call the biffles.  Need to vent about your kids?  Text the biffles.  Don't know what to do with those same kids? The biffles know! 

My tribe is my sorority sisters.  We have 2 weekends away each year plus a long weekend in Galveston.  My stress drips off me within minutes of seeing my tribe.  My abs get a good workout from laughing with my girls.  We text each other everyday to check in and keep up with each other.  I love my friends. 

My church - I love that I get to 'work' at our church running our special needs ministry - Valuable.  Our pastors are real people.  They are flawed and working on themselves and that makes me feel like we are all journeying together.  Plus the people I get to work with are amazing.  The ladies that volunteer in the Valuable classes are so dedicated to our kids.  They are patient, kind and loving.  They make my life so much easier.  I also love working with the KidsMin staff.  I believe I'm the oldest but they make me feel young and teach me every time I'm around them.  They've taught me so much about Jesus and how to be more like Jesus. 

My job - I absolutely love my new job! What a blessing it's been to have something new to do this year.  I've made some changes to the middle school library and I think the students love it. I'm really enjoying getting into the librarian groups on Facebook - I've learned so much from them.  Getting to help high school teachers has also been a thrill. I love new challenges!

Books - We are blessed here in America that we are free to read what we want and I try not to take that for granted.  I have to be very disciplined to not add a book to my cart every time I order from Amazon!

You - I'm thankful to have people read my writing.  I appreciate you're encouragement.  I hope I write things worth your time. 

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


This week is Thanksgiving break. As always, I have a long list of things to do.  This week I'm trying to keep rest as a priority on my to do list. 

I have managed to sleep in for two days.  I may have finally trained B to play in his room and let me sleep in.  I haven't actually napped, which is unusual.  Maybe today.

I've finished reading book, started another, finished editing an article, paid bills, made some t-shirts and written some lessons for church.  It sounds like a lot but it's actually restful for me. 

A friend of mine tweeted a reminder I needed - rest is not the same as idleness.

The biggest thing that stands out from these definitions is "lacking worth" in the idle definition.  What I love about one of the definitions of rest is "peace of mind or spirit".  

I have been at peace of mind and spirit these last two days.  Not that I'm not at peace at work.  It's just different.  At work I never know what's going to happen next, who might need me.  I usually love the unpredictability of my job.  But it's nice to have a break, to be in charge of what I'm going to next.  

That's rest to me. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

By B - Update

A couple of weeks ago, B-man hacked my blog and wrote a blog filled with pictures and descriptions of himself.  Y'all loved it! And he loved creating the blog and how much y'all loved it.

B is not a fan of school.  He gets up and goes every day and I think he has a good time there. He FOR SURE loves his teachers.  And they are great teachers.  His support team is also awesome.  I want to be clear that B's dislike for school does not have to do with the people there.  His mind is just on other things.  He wants to start businesses, create video games and learn what he can on TED-ED.

He didn't want to go to school this year.  He wanted to start a bakery.  He also wanted to convince the small church by our schools to let him open the bakery there because "that's a great spot to get a cookie after school".

So, I'm always trying to sneak 3rd grade learning into the things he wants to do.  He can't be a 3rd grade dropout.  There are things he needs to learn to be successful.  Like writing and times tables and spelling.

I'm trying to teach him to type to make some of these things easier.  Handwriting is difficult for B.  And it's hard to read.  I thought typing would be perfect for him.

And what better way to practice typing than blogging!?!

I'm proud to present B's blog:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Bold Kid

Earlier this week, B and his classmates went on a field trip as part of their Thirdville study of communities.  As a part of their study, students are elected to Thirdville offices like Town Council, Mayor, School Board and Superintendent.  They go to Town Hall and have a Town Council meeting with some of their real life counter parts.    Then they go to our Administration building to have a School Board meeting in a similar fashion.  

I received pictures of B speaking during the public comments section of each meeting.  At Town Council he gave his opinion about what do to with some park land.  At the School Board meeting he asked how citizens would pay for the increased taxes due to the bond election.  

I'm so proud of B for speaking out but not really that surprised.  He's a bold kid.  He's a smart kid.  He's not shy.  He thinks everyone needs to know what he knows.  

However, one of the social cues he often misses is the fact that not everyone is interested in hearing him.  He loves to share what ever is on his mind.  Not everyone wants to know what's on his mind.  Most people will listen anyway.  Adults are usually impressed.  Kids range from interested to bored, depends on the topic.  Not many people are rude. 

I am so thankful he's so widely accepted and celebrated in our community.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All The Things

Here is an inexhaustive list of things that B would like to do:

  • quit school to open a business
  • open a bakery
  • make candy
  • be a pet sitter
  • build a pet park
  • make dinner
  • go to mini camp
  • leave mini camp within an hour of arrival
  • put up his Christmas tree
  • get a pet - a bearded dragon or guinea pig
  • text family and friends
  • talk endlessly about these things
  • accept no help

As I said, this list is not exhaustive but I am exhausted.  Also, I'm irritated.  I'm out of margin for his plans. 

And I hate that. 

I love being B's momma.  But I can't keep up. I don't want him to stop having big ideas and dreams. I don't want to squelch his spirit.  How do I avoid that without exhausting myself? 

I try to balance it out. Sometimes I say 'yes' even when I know it's going to be a mess.  Sometimes I tell him we'll talk about it later.  He's getting wise to that though.  I try to explain that there are just some rules you can't break, like quitting school in 3rd grade. 

So, I guess I'll go to bed early, again tonight (thank you Ryan) and get it up and do it all again tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017


I had a work event last night.  When I dressed in the morning, I picked some cute boots.  By 8 pm I was ready to break up with those boots.  

As I've gotten older, I decided that I'm not wearing uncomfortable clothes.  I'd love for that to mean that I wear pajama pants and oversized t-shirts all the time.  No such luck! What it does mean that if something pinches or pulls or itches it's gone.  I tend to shop for clothes based on touch.  If it doesn't feel good, I don't spend my money.  

Clothes have come a long way. I can still look semi-fashionable in my non-binding clothing.  

Shoes are way behind.  

Actually, let me say that another that I'm willing to pay for are behind.  I'd like to think that super expensive shoes are way more comfortable but I may never know.  

I like fun shoes.  I love Chucks and Toms.  I love flip flops.  I love not so cute Birkenstocks.  I love Nike and Adidas.  I have lots of shoes.  I have shoes that I can't part with. I keep thinking they are going to magically stop hurting. I'm always hopeful.   

I really want to love high heels.  But good gravy they hurt! And I can't take it.  

Life is too short.  There are lots of things that are going to make you uncomfortable.  It's called productive struggle.  It's important.  It builds character.  

I can find no character building benefits to wearing shoes that hurt my feet.  So, I think I'll stop.  

Right after my nephew's wedding this weekend.  I've got a killer dress that's gonna require some killer shoes.   

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

B after dark

When we get home each afternoon, B almost always goes to his room for 'privacy' or 'alone' time.  He uses that time to decompress.  By the time he's ready to come to the living room, I'm usually engaged in something else. 

With the older boys, I always had them do their homework as soon as school was out.  Especially in the early days of homework, they were able to do their homework almost immediately after school. They would come to my classroom and get to work.  I also had a great carrot - my classroom was the computer lab.  When they finished, they could play computer games. 

B's school gets out way after mine so by the time he gets to me, I'm ready to go home.  Many days I meet him in the parking lot and go home. 

All that to say, I haven't been great about doing homework or extra work with B.  He hasn't been great either.  Lots of times he's all used up.  He's worked hard all day to hold it together that he can't do any more.  We have had some epic meltdowns around homework.  Thankfully, he hasn't had a lot of homework and he still doesn't. 

But the time has come for B to do some work at home.  He needs to work on his addition and multiplication facts and his spelling.  Not traditional homework but extra practice.

He was not excited.  So, we worked up a system.  He still gets his alone time as soon as we get home.  Then at 7:40, we work in 5 minute increments.  5 minutes on addition, 5 minutes on multiplication, 5 minutes on spelling.  Each thing might take more than 5 minutes but he likes to think there's a time limit. 

I found B an app that would review both addition and multiplication.  I thought he'd be super excited about that.  Wrong! "I want paper.  I don't want a machine to teach me."  So, I found a website to print worksheets for him. 

So far so good. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

By b

Sunday night on the way home from family dinner, B made a confession:

B: I made a blog today
Me: Oh yeah, how did you do that?
B: on your blog?
Me: you posted something on my blog?  How did you do that?
B: yes, on my iPad

Apparently, I was logged into my blog on his iPad and he decided to write a blog.  So here it is, I didn't change a thing.  Just added these words.  He calls it memories...

Hi I'm b(the son of aimee bartis)

#dog lover

Not all teaxen
True belever

 All hallowz eve and scoll! hi yay!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Burdens become Blessings

This past Sunday, before B's baptism, our Pastor preached on Isaiah 43:16-19

Isaiah 43:16-19

Isaiah is reminding the people of everything GOD had done for them in the past in verse 16-17.  Then in verses 18 and 19 he tells them to forget all of that because GOD is doing a new thing. 

He is making a way in the wilderness.  He is making rivers in the desert. 

The wilderness.

The desert.

Not really fun places.  Not really hot vacation spots. 

But, it's where GOD is working. 

Pastor Paul said it best, it's where "burdens become blessings". 

I immediately thought of B's autism.  I decided that B was autistic way before he was diagnosed.  I had picked him up from pre-k and he was playing on a swing.  He didn't want to leave.  He cried the whole way home (about 20 minutes). I sent him to his room to cry.  He fell asleep. I remember sitting on his bed and praying over him.  He woke up while I sat there.  I thought, oh good, we're all done.  Nope.  He started crying about swinging again.  He was stuck.  It was all he could think about. 

I had been reading something about autism (I read so much at that point that it all runs together) that helped me formulate a theory about B's mind. It's like an old vinyl record.  It's spinning really fast.  And sometimes the needle get stuck.  He needs help moving the needle. 

Around this time I saw a quote that said autism isn't a defective mind, it's a whole different operating system.  That helped me as well.  I came to understand that B is just different.  Not bad.  Just different.  Different challenges.  Different triumphs. 

GOD has brought some many blessings to our family and others through B.  He has truly done a new thing through him.  But, He had to change my mind about the desert.  When I changed how I thought about autism, I could see and unleash the blessings of B. 

And I'm so thankful for that!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween, 2017

Can I be honest with you?  I usually love Halloween but I was just not feeling it this year.  Ryan's sick and I didn't feel my best.  It was cold and rainy.  But, B-man would not be deterred.  I tried.  I showed him the 2 giant bags of candy we bought at Sam's Club.  I promised him a lot of it if we could just stay home.  He wasn't having it.

B chose his costume several weeks ago.  He wanted to be the Headless Horseman.  My sainted mother ordered it from Amazon so I didn't have to brave anyone's costume aisle.  Thank you, Momma!

When the costume arrived we tried it on and B had a full out panic attack. The mask goes completely over his face and then the cape thingy comes up over that. No part of his face or head are showing.  So, you can see why I thought he could be bribed into staying home. 

At school they could buy a ticket to wear a costume.  He was so excited to pay for this out of his own money.  However, the note said "no blood or masks".  Ummmm, brother you're costume is bloody and a big ol' mask.  What are you going to do?  Momma, you're going to make me a spider costume.  So I did. 

After a lot of deep breathing (and a small hole cut out for breathing), B got into his Headless Horseman costume and we met some friends in the neighborhood. 

As you can see the full on mask didn't last long.

Thankfully, it wasn't raining.  Also, thankfully, B was done after a few houses. 

I'm glad we went.  I'm equally glad we got home early so I could go to bed.  #badmom