Thursday, April 26, 2018

Things I've learned from autistic kids
This is my last post for Autism Awareness month.  I wrote 3 posts the first week and nothing else until today.  I think y'all are pretty aware of autism.  And most of y'all are pretty accepting of autism as well.

I love hanging out with autistic kids.  Most of the AU kids I've been around are super cool and I've learned a lot from them.

1. Look at things differently - many of autistic kids I know see things in a whole different way.  It's cool to see things from their perspective. 

2. All behavior is communication - very rarely does any kid 'misbehave' or do something out of their ordinary for no reason.  They are always trying to tell you something.  They maybe hitting to try to get your attention or because they need more sensory input.  They may be throwing things because the noise it makes it too much for them.  They might be yelling and shoving in the hallway because it's physically painful for them to be around so many other people. 

3. Small things can make a big difference - offer a kid a chewer and they'll stop biting people.  Get some headphones and some kids can handle big crowds better. 

4. You don't have to talk to communicate - looks and gestures can tell a deep and loving story.

5. If you're clothes don't feel good, you can wear something else - this is a big philosophy I've adopted.  I now shop with my hands more than my eyes.  If it isn't soft and comfy, I'm not spending my money. 

If you have autistic kids in your life, I'd love to know what they've taught you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Everyone has goals.

Even if your goal is to make it through the day, that's awesome.  Wake up and set the same goal again tomorrow and the day after that.  A person without goals is like taking a trip without a GPS - you'll get somewhere but it might not be where you imagined.

I've shared lots of my goals with you on this blog

  • be a good wife, mom, follower of Christ
  • write
  • speak
  • grow our Valuable Special Needs ministry
  • help teachers be better
  • have a great library that encourages kids to love to read

With our boys, we always have them set goals.  We don't tell them they must have a certain grade.  We ask them to set a goal for their grades.  If we think they've lowballed it, we have that discussion.

Once they set goals, we are all in to help them achieve those goals.  When they don't want to do the work required to reach the goal, we ask "Is this still your goal?" If it's not, we change direction.  If it is, they get back to work.  Of course, academic goals aren't optional.

Ryan and I are grown ups (usually).  It's our job to know more that our boys (usually).  It's not fair to let them work towards their goals on their own.  We know things they don't know. We have resources they don't have.  Our brains are more mature and we are able to see more long term (usually).  When they want to give up, it's our job to encourage them and help them see the bigger picture.  We know what things are in their control and the things that are not.  It's our job to help them focus on the things they can control and pray about the rest.

I'll be honest with y'all.  We have received our fair share of criticism for the way we help our boys.  I'm sure people talk behind our backs, too.  But God gave them to us, we're responsible for them. It's our job to grow good grown ups.  I'm pretty proud of how it's going so far.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Spring Slump

Lots and lots of people talk about having Spring Fever - the need to get outside and get active.  They've felt cooped up all winter and are anxious to get outdoors.  They want to fly kids, swing on swings, and do all kinds of people with three active kids don't get to do in this season of life. 

I get Spring Fever occasionally.  I'm not too outdoorsy so I don't generally get urges to go hiking or running or stuff like that.  But I like to open my sunroof when the weather gets nice.  And I like to read on the porch, until the Cottonwood of death trees start blooming. 

I'd say I get Spring Slump more than I get Spring Fever. 

Spring Slump is characterized by the overwhelming need for a nap.  In my case, it is brought on by a host of factors - all good, I might add.  Factors like work, track meets, baseball practices, baseball games, reading, writing, and all the other momma duties. 

Basically, Spring Slump is a reaction to scheduling. 

Here's a typical schedule that can lead to Spring Slump

Monday - track meet until 10:30 pm
Tuesday - baseball game at 6 pm
Wednesday - baseball practice
Thursday - baseball game again...
Friday - collapse at 5 pm
Saturday - 2 baseball tournament games
Sunday - church; then baseball tournament games until they lose

Symptoms of Spring Slump include...

  • not being able to keep your eyes open
  • not being phased by 28 ounces of cofee
  • planning hair styles around not washing your hair another day because standing up to dry it is too much

Relief can by gained by napping, ignoring housework and easy dinners. 

A cure is only possible when baseball is over or summer break begins, whichever comes first. 

So hang in there, mommas! Be kind to one another.  We can survive the Spring Slump!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thank you, Dav Pilkey

My house is littered with paper. B-man is constantly drawing.  I keep buying notebooks for his drawings.  He keeps using loose pieces of computer and manilla paper.  Then leaving them on the floor.  I might have gotten him to embrace the notebooks when I told him I wanted to keep his drawings so we'd have them when he's a famous artist.

Lately, he's been creating super heroes.  He draws super heroes he already knows.  He creates others.  He makes himself and his friends into super heroes.  He wrote a letter to Stan Lee and including some of his drawings.  He even asked a comicbook store owner if the store like to buy the comics he's drawn.

A few weeks ago, I noticed Dav Pilkey's About the Author page.  Dav Pilkey is the author of the wildly popular Captain Underpants series of books.  B's a big fan of his new series Dog Man.

When I showed it to B he said "That sounds like me!" It made my heart so full.

To be clear, no one has ripped up B's drawings.  No one makes him sit out in the hallways, either.  B is surrounded by kids who get him and accept him, for the most part.  But his drawings and handwriting can be hard to read and understand.

I'm not sure B feels like many people are like him.  I don't think it bothers him right now.  But it will eventually.  And he will have these books to look back on and remember how Dav Pilkey made him feel a kinship.

Dav Pilkey's honesty and transparency is so refreshing.  I can not imagine how many kids he's inspired with his revelation! I know one for sure. And my momma-librarian-writer's heart is so happy that my boy can see himself in someone who creates something he loves!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I love to talk. Growing up, my report cards always said "Aimee is a very social child." I'm actually an extroverted introvert but I don't mind speaking in groups.  Or to groups.  I've done lots of education presentations.  I love to do professional development for teachers.  I just usually need a nap or some alone time after to recharge.

For a few years now, I've wanted to move from speaking in an education context to speaking to large groups (or small, I'm not picky).  I feel very strongly that God wants me to write and speak, to tell our story, teach about the Bible and share what God's doing for me. The call to write lead me to restart this blog and commit to posting 3 times a week. The call to speak is not so easy. 

I shared my desire with a few people in the past but not to a lot of people.  Our church recently did a sermon series called Courageous.  You can view them here.  For about a year and a half, I have committed myself to obedience. I told God if He would tell me what to do, I would do it.  It has not been easy, it's let to hard conversations.  During the Courageous series, God was prompting me to reach out to my friend Jill about speaking.  Jill works with a team on our church's Women's Conference.  So, I gathered up all my courage and sent Jill this email. 

Jill very graciously emailed me back the next day to say she would let me know if there was an opportunity this year.  A few weeks go by and Jill calls to invite me to speak! 

I was totally floored! 

I spoke on Saturday and was one of 3 speakers that day.  I was super nervous, which Ryan thought was funny because I speak in front of people so much. But this would be different.  I would be telling our story, not telling people how to use Google Drive.  It would be personal.  Before I was about to go on I was sitting in the office sweating and worrying about pit stains. 

When I walked on stage, everything just came together.  I was so comfortable.  I had so much fun.  My favorite quote afterwards was from my friend Laci: "You would say something funny then look shocked that we laughed".  Honestly, I was a little surprised.  I like to think I'm funny but it's different when other people thing you're funny.  

I loved getting to visit with ladies after I spoke and hear their stories.  I was so touched by them and their willingness to share with me.  I wasn't really ready for that and it was humbling.  I hope and pray that God brings me more opportunities to share with ladies (or dudes, again, I'm not picky) because I am totally hooked!

thanks for the photo Laci

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Last Friday was a milestone in our parenting journey.  It was our third, and final, trip to NASA.  Every year our elementary school's 3rd graders make the journey to Houston and back in one day to wrap up a study of space.  Ryan and I went with both of the big boys and this year was B-man's turn.

As with everything about B-man, we had to approach NASA a bit differently.  With the other boys, we were chaperones, we had other kiddos with us all day.  We really enjoyed adding kiddos to our day and loving on them.  We knew we couldn't do that with B.  We decided that we would have just B and we would leave as soon as he was ready to go.  The day is scheduled to last until 4:30 but we didn't want to force B to that schedule. 

too excited to stand still
The trip starts at 5:30 am at the elementary school where the students load charter buses. We really wanted to let B try the bus ride.  I was super nervous about this.  B does not have a great history with bus rides.  I started picking him up at school because he couldn't handle a 5 minute bus ride across our district to my school.  So, I had no idea was a 3 + hours bus ride to Houston would be like. 

B packed a 'box of no boredom' and I sent him with his weighted blanket and weighted shark to soothe him.  With the other boys, we waited for the buses to pull away then we headed to Houston on our own schedule.  We would go a little faster than the busses, pulled over when we wanted to, met them at their rest stop and then in Houston.  But with B, we stayed right with the buses.  We wanted to be close by if he lost it and the bus had to pull over and let him off.  You know I had a million worst case scenarios in mind! Miracles of miracles, B made the entire trip down on the bus.

When we got there, I could tell B was agitated but he said he was good.  I probably shouldn't have believed him but he's been really good at telling us lately when he needs help.  I probably should have taken him to the car and let him chill a bit before going in.  But I didn't.  He was super excited about being there with his friend.  Once inside we got separated from his friend, it was loud and chaotic and things went downhill quickly. 

Let's pause right here to say that NASA is a space themed Chuck E. Cheese, in my humble opinion.  I like having the time with each boy but I am not a fan of this field trip.  It's grueling.  And not exciting.  As a matter of fact, it's boring.  One year we got to see "mission control" which was a mock up that looked worse than a movie set.  The center of the main room has been partitioned off all three times we've been there.  But the kids love and I guess that's really the point.

Back to our story...B was in full meltdown within the first 45 minutes of being there.  We told him as soon as he was ready we would go.  When he lost it, we went to the car.  He was really angry though. And I didn't want him to regret leaving. We sat in the car a while.  He calmed down and decided to go back in.  Ryan and I exchanged a look - we had almost managed to leave before noon.

We ate lunch and hooked up with his buddy.  They played a bit.  Then the lights went out.  No kidding, full on power outage at NASA.  We took that as our cue.  We went right out the front door and headed home. 

As much as I would have loved to go home when B first lost it, I'm glad he decided to go back in.  Now he has a positive memory of the trip.  But mostly, I super glad that it's our last trip to NASA.  Thank you sweet Jesus!

Thursday, April 12, 2018


My sister Tracey and I went to see the 40th Anniversary of Grease last night.  Oh my gracious it was so fun! We sang all the songs, I did a little seat dancin'. It was awesome!

By Tracey's own account she didn't hate me at birth but she did hate the idea of me.  She was unhappy losing top billing. Tracey is 6 years older than me.  She was married with a son before I graduated high school.  Our life stages didn't really line up.  Our kids didn't get to grow up together.  I did get to practice some momma-ing on her kids.  I love them and I'm super proud of them.  Her daughter and I are twinsies.  She's my mini-me. 

All that to say that we haven't been particularly close.  I've always known that she would help me whenever I needed her.  I hope she feels the same way.  I'm thankful to say that the closeness thing has been changing lately. 

Since Tracey's kids are grown and out on their own, she's has some more free time.  She's able to be at my boys' games.  She even the big boys to San Antonio to stay with her son and daughter in law.  I love it when she's around. She's funny, sweet and thoughtful.  Although, I think she'd like you to think she's prickly and tough. 

We like a lot of the same things.  Saturday Night Live for example. Tracey brought me back a bunch of SNL swag from her recent trip to New York City.  Grease and Grease 2 are other ties that bind.  I can remember watching Grease 2 on TV with her when we were younger.  That's why I suggested we go see Grease on the big screen.  I'm so glad she said yes. 

I love her and I'm very proud of her.  Here's some reasons why she's awesome:

  • She raised two awesome kids
  • She went back to school and got a Bachelors AND a Master's degree while her kids were still home and working full time
  • She has a super important job at AT&T that I don't understand
  • She volunteers with a the Kaufman Band - a band that she doesn't have a kid in
  • She's always looking out for my boys
  • She remembers everything!  Always! With details!
  • She's my sister

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I love that word - quirks, quirky.  Everybody has quirks. The dictionary says that a quirk is a peculiar behavioral habit. Here are a short list of mine:

  • I often buy a hard copy of books that I've read digitally
  • I like my coffee just so - stevia, milk, flavored ground coffee - and usually 3 times a day
  • I do not really like wearing shoes but I also don't like my feet to be dirty
  • If I play solitaire on my phone, I can't stop until I win
  • I like things in pairs or multiples of 3 - 2 things, 3 things, 4 things are ok - 5 things is not
  • I have been debating, internally, if I should start collected Funko Pops for about 6 months now
  • I prefer lower case letters - particularly I don't like how uppercase a looks

I could seriously go on.  I love all my quirks.

Early in our autism journey, we would say that B-ma was just quirky.  I'll never forget when I told Ryan I thought B was autistic, he looked at me and said "If he is, you are".  We are both pretty quirky. 

So, what make B autistic and me quirky?  Well, there's a whole medical diagnosis that I wouldn't bore you with.  My way of thinking is that my quirks don't really interfere with my daily life.  If I don't drink my coffee, I wouldn't feel awesome but I can move along with my day.  I wear shoes almost daily and like buying them.  If I take them off and my feet get dirty, I can hang for a while before I clean them.  I use capital letters when absolutely necessary. 

Sometimes B's 'quirks' stop him in his tracks.  He can't move forward.  In the beginning his communication was a problem.  Life is much more difficult when you can't communicate. Now some of the leftover communication troubles are cute quirks.  For example, he says "What'd you said?" instead of "What did you say?" and we LOVE it! For a while if B's food was too hot, he would throw it and then would not eat the rest of the day.  That's problematic. 

Our goal for B is to be able to live and get along in the world that will not conform to him.  So we watch for his quirks and make sure they add to his fabulous personality instead of restricting him. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


available from thecoolsloth
on Etsy
Responsibility - everybody wants it until they get it.  Just search Etsy for "don't grow up, it's a trap" you can see so many cute items.  Here's my favorite (I'm slightly obsessed with coffee mugs right now).  We can all think of people in our lives who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.  I know you're thinking of someone right now.  I am. 

And I bet we can think of kids who are on the same path.  Some get rescued so much by their parents to learn responsibility.  Some of them are parented by the people who never take responsibility so it's not modeled for them. 

There are a million kinds of moms - helicopter moms, lawnmower moms, tiger moms, dragon moms, blah, blah, blah.  But I guess the bottom line is that we all need to teach our kids to be responsible. 

How do we do that? Where's the fine line of teaching them responsibility and shoving them off a cliff? 

Let me tell you what got me thinking about this...well, really two things. 

Sam got a ticket in the fall.  I feel like we've handled it ok.  He had to get a job to pay for everything.  He had to figure out how to contact the court and choose defensive driving.  He took the defensive driving class.  He took everything to the Town to close it all out.  I did go online and request his driving record and pay for defensive driving once he chose the one he wanted.  We paid for everything up front and he paid us back. 

During all this there were reminders to take care of things.  Oddly, the most reminders about getting everything turned into the Town after he completed everything.  I sometimes wondered if we were reminding too much. 

The other thing involves reminders too and it irritates the snot out of me. The boys are supposed to take out the trash.  I have to remind them every week.  I'll remind them and they still wait.  Sometimes they forget.  For example, I reminded Zac about it 2 hours ago and he still hasn't gathered or taken it out.  I hate it.  The trash days don't change.  Why can't they remember? 

I want to make sure they are good men when they leave my house.  I want to balance high expectations and grace.  I don't hassle them about the trash if they've been at a game late the night before trash night.  But I don't take it out for them either.   It's all balance I think.  Reminders but consequences.  High expectations partnered with grace. 

I'm so blessed that Ryan & I both operate in this balance.  We have friends who parent in this balance.  Guess we'll just keep balancing. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

What We Want You To Know, 2018

First of all, thank you for putting up with my April's greatest hits this week. I hope you enjoyed reading about Light It Up Blue and Autism Acceptance again. 

Last year I also wrote What We'd Like You to Know to tell you what our family would like you to know about Autism.  I wanted to revisit that today.

"It's different to have a brother with autism.  He will not get what you are saying right away, you have to really explain things for B.  Also, he doesn't have a filter at all which can be kinda fun sometimes.  It can be tough at times and I do get embarrassed sometimes."

"I wish people understood that autism effects different people in different ways.  B's mind works differently than ours and you have to be more patient with him."

"I still agree with what I said last year: Everyone is a little quirky.  B's are a little bigger and he can't always control them."

I'd echo the boys' statements.  It can be hard.  Sometimes you get embarrassed.  I do feel a heavy burden to teach people about B and to help B understand himself.  I really want him to be able to ask for what he needs and we have to teach him how to do that.  But I do love it.  I love being his momma. I love being Sam & Zac's momma too.

"I am a good person. I don't feel too different from other kids. I need my heavy stuff to help me feel calm sometimes."  {heavy stuff means his weighted blanket and weighted stuff animals}

If you have any questions for us, ask in the comments!