Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Eye Exam

I decided to hold off on the post I had scheduled for today to write about Brennan's trip to the eye doctor on Tuesday.

Once upon a time, we found out that B-man had spots on his brain.  At first they thought the spots were a deadly disease called leukodystrophy that involves the disappearing of the white matter of the brain.  Thankfully, it's not that.  We went a few years without knowing what it was, just having MRIs every 6 months to make sure the spots weren't changing. A few years ago we saw a medical mystery neurologist who thinks the spots are scar tissue from a possible brain infection.  One of the spots is really close to his optical nerve so it's important for him to see an ophthalmologist instead of just an optometrist, so they can keep an eye on that nerve.

We used to go to the eye clinic at Children's.  Then we had an insurance problem for about a year.  I switched us to a new insurance that was accepted at Children's the hospital but not by the doctors inside Children's.  During this time we found Dr. Roberts in Ft. Worth. 

I really like Dr. Roberts.  He's always been awesome with B.  Well worth the hour drive to get there.  In years past he's brought out this old fashion suitcase with a thousand lenses in it.  He'd hold one up to B's eye, and look into his eye with some instrument.  In this way, he could determine B's prescription without B having to provide feedback.  Dr. Roberts is always patient and kind to B. 

This is what I expected to happen yesterday when B & I hauled our cookies to Ft. Worth.  Nope, not this time.

While we were waiting in the lobby, B asked if he could see the doctor by himself.  Why? I asked.  "Momma, sometimes you care too much." Which I took to mean that I talk too much.  After a little negotiation, we decided I could go back if I didn't talk too much.  I said I'd only answer questions the doctor asked me. 

When the nurse came to get us, B was totally in control.  She directed him, he responded and asked clarifying questions.  He followed her directions.  He was like a little man.  She talked to him about his vision and he answered appropriately.  She told him they would use a machine to try to get his prescription right.  He told her it looked like a panda bear split in half.  She was so impressed with the observation that she was going to start calling it her panda machine with other kids.   He has not been able to use the machine before.  He didn't like it on his face and couldn't respond appropriately long enough to get a good prescription. But there he was doing it like no big deal!

While I was sitting quietly being amazed at my boy, I snuck this picture of him.  He was really dialed into what she was doing and was right there with her. 

When Dr. Roberts came in B was equally engaging.  He told B he was going to check the prescription he and and the nurse had come up with.  He put the panda machine on him, set the prescription then looked into his eyes.  He declared it good and said he wouldn't have to do the lenses.  B and Dr. Roberts bantered back and forth.  Dr. Roberts told him not too look at too many girls because the more girls you look at the less money you have in your pocket.  B said he looked at plenty of girls but he didn't like any of them and that he was broke already anyways. 

B has been to LOTS of doctor's appointments in his 9 years.  Many of them did not go smoothly.   They are often long and hard.  I'm always ready for the worst.  I don't like talking about him like he's not there but it's sometimes necessary as he's not able to communicate effectively.  I was so thankful to be able to witness him in action yesterday.  It was definitely a moment of growth!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You Are 2018

This past weekend I attended the You Are conference in College Station, Texas.  Two of my friends, Britany and Laci, had attended the conference last year and posted about it so I began to follow the conference's social media accounts.  I think I must have liked something on social media because Britany messaged me and said "you should totally go with us!" I was totally excited to be invited! I talked to Ryan and then used some of my Christmas money to register. 

{Can I just pause here to sing the praises of Ryan Bartis? He knows me and loves me so well.  He knows what I need and supports me when I say I need it.  I can't remember a time that I said "I need to go here for these reasons" that he did not support that decision.  And not like "sure you can go" then be passive aggressive before I leave.  He's pretty spectacular.}

I left after school Friday and drove to College Station.  By myself.  Mini-vacay right there. I arrived at You Are at 6:25 pm, the conference started at 6:30 pm.  Whoop!

Stephanie Lee is the founder of You Are and she spoke Friday night.  She is just amazing.  So real and powerful.  Friday night Steph asked all the ladies to think about the thing they were most worried about, the thing they are most holding back from God.  I immediately pictured mine.  Then Steph asked us to open our hands and visual put that thing in our hands and giving it to God.  People, I am telling you that I could not open my hands all the way. They just kept curling closed.  It was as if my mind and spirit were willing to give my 'stuff' to God but my body would not physically do it. 

Over the course of Saturday morning the Holy Spirit kept moving in me.  Moving in ways that I had never experienced before.  You Are has prayer rooms you can visit through out the conference.  Laci and Britany both told me not to miss the prayer room.  I went into the room and spilled my guts about giving God my stuff.  The woman God arranged to meet me there had a similar story to mine. She prayed the most beautiful prayer over me.  Then she helped me release my 'stuff' to God.  Immediately, I mean that very minute!, a weight lifted off me.  God took my 'stuff' and I am more confident than ever that I can trust Him with it. 

I can't remember which of the You Are team members said "We want you to do business with God this weekend."  But that is what happened! I did some business with God.  And He and I will continue to work on the things He revealed to me.  I am forever changed.  I have a new posture before the Lord.  I am so thankful for Britany's obedience to invite me. I am thankful to the You Are team members who are obedient to God's call for this conference.  I can not wait for You Are 2019!

You can follow You Are on FB by clicking here

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Book Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give is a bestselling and extremely well reviewed book by Angie Thomas.  I borrowed the audiobook from our local library.  I loved listening to Bahni Turpin perform the book. 

Star Carter lives in Garden Heights, a rough neighborhood where her little brother can't go out and play.  Gangs are the norm.  Star's dad is a former gang member who now owns a grocery store in the neighborhood. 

Star and her brothers go to school at Williamson, a private prep school 45 minutes away from Garden Heights.  Star works hard to balance Garden Heights Star with Williamson Star.  Williamson Star can't use too much slang.  Garden Heights Star can't be too prissy.   

Her world screeches to a halt when she witnesses her childhood friend being shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop. Khalil was unarmed and was checking on Star when he was shot.  For a long time, Star doesn't mention Khalil's murder to her Williamson friends but the pressure weighs on her. 

Khalil's death effects everyone in Star's family . Her momma wants the family out of Garden Heights.  Her daddy wants to balance his family's safety and future with his need to help others in the neighborhood. 

This book is so well written.  I want to say that it's so real but I haven't lived a life remotely similar to Star's (except for our love and devote to family and friends). Angie Thomas' words and Bahni Turpin's voice transported me to Garden Heights with Star.   This story is so important for me to read.  I want to learn about people different from me. I want to know what other people go through.  I want to see the world through another's eyes.  I am so grateful Angie Thomas gave me the opportunity. 

You can learn more about The Hate U Give and Angie Thomas at this website from her publisher HarperCollins

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Our church just finished a three sermon series called Mindset.  It was the perfect way to start the year.  I wanted to share the sermons with you, that's how much I think everyone should hear them.  

The focus verse for the series is Romans 12:1

In the series, we learned that in the original language both conformed and transformed are both passive.  They are something that happens to you.  You can't control it.  You have to let God do it.  Conformity is our default.  We have to want to be transformed. 

Until we get our thoughts right we will never be who God wants us to be.   

Week 1's sermon is taught by David Griffin.  Here's the description from the website: 
The Bible is clear: how we think shapes who we are. Romans 12 paints the picture of a transformed mind, but what does that look like for us?

Click here to listen to Week 1

Paul McDill teaches week 2: A deeper look at how to "renew" our minds and break free of the destructive mental ruts that entrap us.

Click here to listen to Week 2

Randy Wade teaches week 3: Biblical advice on how to battle the toxic thoughts that are killing us from within.

Click here to listen to Week 3

For me, week 3 was the most impactful for me.  My mind works fast and often lands on toxic thoughts.  Pastor Randy gave some very Biblical and practice advice for three kinds of toxic thoughts. 

The thing that works best for me is memorizing scripture.  That way I can remind myself of what God thinks about me.  Right now I'm working on this one:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


I have a friend and colleague who oozes joy.  She works hard at it and it shows.  Kids love her.  Parents love her.  I love following her on Facebook.  Her posts are so full of joy and you know it's for real.  Each year she picks a hashtag for her posts.  Her hashtag for this year is #focusingon4eight.  One of her friends asked her what it means and this was her response: 

This year I am focusing on Philippians 4:8 and things that are true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Trying to find these things in my life as often as possible! 
Last week, I was reading my morning devotional when I was reminded of her hashtag

I posted it to her Facebook wall and she replied, "Love it, thank you!! Some days are easier than others!"

The word that stands out in the verse to me lately is ANY.  "If there is ANY excellence, if there is ANYthing worthy of praise".  Not if you like what's excellent.  Not if you want to praise.  If there is ANYthing.  

When I think of the word ANY I think of little grains of sand, little parts.  Sand can be invasive.  It gets every where.  Any little grain of sand and you can feel it.  Ever get sand in your eyes?  Any little grain is a pain.  

It seems to me that my friend is working on the ANY.  She's looking for a grain of sand of goodness.  

God wants to change us.  Part of the way He changes us is by changing our perspective.  When we can start looking for the grains of sand of excellence and praise worthy things, He's changing our perspective.  When we can focus of the excellent and praise worthy things, we have less time to wallow in our circumstances.  When we change our focus we can see others better.  When we see others better, we can serve them better.  We can love them better.  

Let's focus on the ANY today.  Look for any good part of the person who's irritating you.  Look for any good in the hard situation you're facing.  No matter how low you feel, look for the ANY.  Find one grain of sand of goodness today.  Then praise the Giver of All Good Things.  He loves you.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Quick Hit Book Reviews

Hola!  Over my break I read three books and I want to give you a quick review of each...

Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl - This is a Young Adult novel.  Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia wrote the Beautiful Creatures series that I really liked.  This book is a play on Keeping Up with Kardashians.  The Royce Family all have car names.  Bentley the middle daughter of Mercedes Royse.  Her older sister Porsche is second in line to Mercedes throne.  Bentley has been cast as the problem child in their reality show drama.  Her best friend is her younger brother Maybach but really she's alone.  The book is written as a script of sorts.  We get to know the real Bent, how she feels about her family and it's fame.  I'm not a Kardashian fan so parts of the book were totally foreign to me.  But it's a great story about family.

Audacious by Beth Moore - and the pendulum swings from YA fiction to Christianity.  I love Beth Moore. I'd like to be a Beth Moore Jen Hatmaker combo.  They both love Jesus and speak real truth.  Audacious is about audaciously loving Jesus.  Now that's something I can get behind!  My favorite quote is "The person you are when you love Jesus with everything in you - with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength - is the real you."  This is who I want to be - the real me who loves Jesus with everything in me.  That's a big piece of my live love{d}

The New Pillars of Modern Teaching by Gayle Allen - this is a book for work but I really love it.  I think we've established that I'm a super nerd so this right up my alley. It's a quick read and when you're agreeing along the way, it goes that much more quickly.  Allen asserts there are 3 new pillars of teaching - design, curation and feedback. We should be guiding students to learn how to design their own educational experiences.  This one is still rolling around in my head.  We are still responsible for the state standards.  How can we let students design their learning within the state mandated standards?  We should also be teaching kids to curate information.  Think about a museum curator - they search through all the artwork and artifacts and decides what's the best.  With so much information at their finger tips, we have to teach kids to sort and save.  They also need to tell good information from bad information.  Finally, we must provide feedback to students and teach them how to utilize feedback.  They must know the difference between criticism and feedback. 

I'm currently reading Give and Take by Adam Grant.  I can't wait to tell you about that one! Very insightful!

What have you read lately?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Red Ryder

One of our favorite Christmas movies is A Christmas Story.  TBS plays it for 24 hours straight every Christmas Eve.  We watch it about 12 times.  This year I even made shirts for Ryan and I to wear.

{In case you aren't familiar with A Christmas Story - it's the story of Ralphie and his quest to get a BB gun for Christmas.  He wants a “official Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”}

When we were out shopping Ryan mentioned that he'd like to get the boys BB guns.  I said absolutely NO for B-man.  And I wasn't too thrilled about the other boys.  The conversation kinda faded out. 

I'm not very patient when it comes to gift giving.  If I get you something I want to give it to you immediately.  I might not even get home with it.  So, we don't do a lot of early shopping.  I usually wrap everything on Christmas Eve Day. 

This year before I went to bed, I walked by the tree and noticed packages that weren't there earlier and that I hadn't wrapped.  Ryan had done it, he bought the big boys BB guns.  

In the movie, Ralphie's dad hides the gun behind a desk.  After they open all their gifts, Ralphie's dad says "What's that over there?"  Ryan wanted that moment.  

And he got it.  After everyone had open their gifts, Ryan pointed the boys to the hidden gifts.  The big boys found Red Ryders and B found a Nerf gun.  

Ryan was so happy.  They went to the backyard with my uncle to learn some safety and shoot some water bottles.  They were pretty happy, momma was a little skeptical.

We got some very cold weather this week.  Zac decided the little pond in our neighborhood would be frozen over.  He wanted to go shoot at the frozen pond.  I had to take Ralphie's mom's line from the movie "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Third Child Syndrome

B is our third child.  Our third boy.  There are five years between he and Zac, seven years between he and Sam.  He wasn't an uh-oh baby, we planned on him.  We just didn't plan on him when we were planning the first two.  He was a delayed plan. 

There are lots of little snags in our delayed plan.  First of all, we had gotten rid of almost all the baby stuff.  But the one that I remember most is that we forgot stuff a lot.  We had already grown accustomed to everyone putting on their own shoes and packing their bags to go places.  B had more shoes than he'd wear because we'd get some place and look at each other quizzically, "Did you grab his shoes?" Not I.  Not I.  Let me run into Target and grab another pair.  It is worth noting here that we didn't put shoes on him at the house because he'd throw them off in the car anyway. 

We almost always got places with the diaper bag.  It just didn't always have what we needed inside - like wipes or diapers or formula. 

Over Christmas break, I discovered another thing that slipped through the third child crack - Build A Bear Workshop. 

Since I had boys we were regulars at BBW.  But it was a special treat a couple of times.  Once Sam made a dog, picked out a Buzz Lightyear outfit for it and named it Buzz Barkyear.  BBW holds a special place in my heart.  I loved watching the boys in there. 

For Christmas my momma gave each of her grandsons one of my daddy's watches.  One needed to be repaired but the first place she took it couldn't do it but referred her to a place in the mall.  We dropped off the watch then headed out to cruise the mall while it was repaired.  This mall doesn't have a BBW store but they had set up a large kiosk for the holidays. 

When B walked by, he was amazed. "What is this?" My heart sank when I realized he'd never built a bear.  I explained it to him and off he went. 


adding filling

prepping the heart

inserting the heart

finished product

shopping for brothers is more fun with a friend

And again, B taught me a lesson - don't count him out.  During the prime bear building years, he couldn't handle it.  Without really thinking about it, I had written it off as something he couldn't do because of his autism.  Wrong again, momma.  My boy does things on his timeline.  He was older than our other boys when he built his first bear but he loved it just as much as they did.  I am so thankful B reminded me. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Live Love; Live Loved

In the summer of 2012 I read a book called Start with Why by Simon SinekSinek's book is based on the premise that if you don't know why you do something, it's harder to do what needs to be done.  I can honestly say, this book changed my life. I did some work to figure out my why.  I landed on service.  Every thing I do is based on the idea that I want to serve people.  I wrote some about it here. I'm so serious about it that I had it tattooed on my wrist so I would see it often and remember. 

My mind is a strange place.  There's a lot going on in there. I forget things quite often.  I also get wrapped up with a new project and forget about important stuff. I have to keep things front and center.  I have lots of post it notes and notecards all over my office and computer to remind me of a wide variety of things. 

As you know, I struggle quite a bit in the fall.  And it got me thinking about my why and the direction life is going.  I am still committed to service.  But in the fall, I started thinking about the manner in which I serve.  You can serve someone and not be nice to them or not be concerned about them or the outcome.  I found myself doing this a few times in the fall.  I was so focused on what needed to be done that I didn't attend to the people.  I want to serve out of love.  I want to serve with love. 

Additionally, in the fall I thought about being loved.  We experienced an outpouring of love after my father in law died.  My friends loved on me after my anaphylaxis and when they found out I was struggling in the aftermath.  I know GOD loves me and I want to remember that as well.  I want to live remembering that I am loved. 

This year (and every year after) my overarching reminder is to live love and to live loved.  I denote the idea this way.

This was my Christmas present to myself.  Ryan and I both got new tattoos the week after Christmas. 

{That gasp you might have heard is probably my momma because I did not specifically show her my tattoo after I got it. I don't think she approves of my tattoos and I hate to disappoint her.  Sorry, Momma.  But none the less...}

Do you have an overarching theme for your life or this year?  How do you keep it top of mind?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Over the past few weeks, the Bartis pet population has exploded.  On December 24th we just had our dog Cub.  Today, January 10th, we have 4 additional friends.

Each year we ask the boys to fill out a Christmas wish list.  It has three sections: momma and daddy; Santa; family and friends.  In the momma and daddy section there are 4 boxes: want, need, wear, read.  Under the 'need' category this year B wrote "pet".

I've known that he's wanted a pet of his own for a while.  He had a hermit crab but I mostly took care of it.  He really wanted to take care of an animal himself.  One of my good friend's daughter had a gerbil she wanted to give away.  At 9 pm Christmas Eve, Ryan and I picked up the newest edition to our family.  Then we almost forgot to give it to B on Christmas morning!

Here's the video of him getting it (even though my friends already made fun of my morning hair on Facebook).

He's since changed his name from Sweetie Pie to Peppermint because it's more 'boyish'.

So far so good on caring for Peppermint.  B feeds him.  We got a ball for him to run around in while we clean his cage.  I say 'we' because that part is really a two person job. Also, neither of us has actually held Peppermint.  He's a little "nippy" as B likes to say.  Good thing he'll crawl into and out of his ball on his own!

Zac decided to use his Christmas money to get an aquarium.  Honestly, I was surprised.  We were in PetSmart getting a ball for Peppermint.  Zac and Ryan started looking around.  When I found them, Ryan told me Zac wanted to get an aquarium.  I tried to talk him out of it but he wasn't having it.  He got an aquarium starter kit, heater, insert, food, water treatment, plants and 6 fish. 

Long fish story short - the first night was a fish death camp.  Only 2 survived.  Ryan & Zac spent the next two days going back and forth to PetSmart getting the water and fish and inserts right.  He now has 3 tiger fish.  He had a sucker fish that died yesterday. 

I really like how Zac's aquarium turned out.  I'm glad he didn't talk me out of it. 

This is Bubbles.  He likes to hang out in Spongebob's Pineapple.  I can't decide if he's my favorite or if the orange tiger fish Dabo is my favorite!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I missed you!

Hello there! It's been a while.  Glad to see you back, thanks for coming back!

I hope you each had a great Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate) break.  I had a great break.  As I told you before I took my break, I had 2 goals:  spend time with the boys and read.  Mission accomplished!

We hung out and watched every football game that was aired.  We ate.  We watched movies.  We slept.  We did Christmas-y things.  It was nice.

I read a fiction book, a book for school and a spiritual book.  I'm going to give you a brief overview of them later this week.

I have stories to tell you about my boys and our celebrations.  I want to tell you about the books I read.  I want to tell you about my focus for this year.  I want to shared some other things I learned.  All in due time. 

Today I just want to say that I'm thankful that you're here.  I rested during my break but I did miss writing for you. I missed telling you my stories.  I hope you missed reading them. 

See you tomorrow.