Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Homecoming - part two - Crafting

It's been a while since I've fully involved in Homecoming activities.  Sam didn't go to the dance his freshman year. He went last year but he didn't take a date. This year he has a girlfriend and Zac decided to take a date.  So, I got to make some stuff for homecoming and it was so fun!

First of all, there's this whole thing now of "prom-posals" and homecoming proposals.  People don't just call you up and ask if you want to go to the dance.  You come up with a cute way to ask. For Sam, we ordered this awesome cookies from Custom Pastries by Rosie.  Aren't they the cutest!?!

Of course, I'm not able to do anything normally.  I messed up.  I told Rosie Sam's number is 54.  It had been 54 since he started playing football at age 6.  But in high school, the 54 jersey is too small for him. He's been 58 for 3 seasons now.  #momfail

Zac asked a friend of his to go as friends but I wanted them to have the whole experience.  We made a dum dum bouquet - and by 'we' I mean me.  Zac gave the approval and delivered it.

The another big part of homecoming in Texas are mums.  I had not made a mum since I was in high school.  I was excited to make some mums this year.  I was also more than a little nervous.  Sam's girlfriend is a senior, this would be her last mum. The senior mum is a big deal in Texas.

Thankfully, my sister in law had some expertise in this area and pointed me to 'the mum store'.  It's called The Sale Place.  They have everything you need, including some already constructed mums.  This came in handy for Zac's friend.  I bought a ready made one and added to it.  For Sam's girlfriend, I built it from scratch.  She wanted hydrangea's instead of mums.


I had such a good time creating stuff for the boys and their dates.  I love to make things and give things and make people smile so it was right up my alley! It took some time and several trips to 'the mum store' but this face was worth it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Homecoming - part 1

Last week was Homecoming in our sweet little town. I'm going to take this week to recap the activities of last week.

I've said it a million times, I love our town.  I grew up in a small town and I loved it.  I'm so blessed to be able to raise my boys in a small town.  I hope one day they realize what a blessing it was and can look back on it with smiles.  I know they are enjoying it now, I just don't know that they realize how rare and loving this place is.

Ryan is involved with our sports booster club. On Friday nights he helps with the inflatable tunnel the boys run through and with the cannon that gets fired with the boys score.  The booster club was also due to have a float in the Homecoming parade two Saturdays ago.

Around lunch time Ryan went up to help decorate the float.  During the decorating, it was suggested that Ryan bring B back to ride the float.  The big boys were going to be in the parade with the football team and their grade levels so we decided that Ryan, B & I would ride the booster club float.

B had a great time! He was so excited to throw candy to be the people along the route.  He brought his net from the beach to throw candy.  He worked really hard to make that work, but the candy just would not come out.  It's was hilarious, actually.

We didn't have a lot of candy to throw so we tried to get B to only throw one or two pieces at a time. He wasn't having it. He threw two handfuls at a time.  After he ran out of candy, he went to the other kids on the float to get their candy to throw.

But the highlight of the day was B getting to blow the train horn.  One of the other adults showed him what to do and B loved it! He wanted to blow the horn over and over.  It was so fun to watch!

Once again, I'm so thankful for our little town. Most of the people here love and accept B in all his quirky, autistic goodness.  People are willing to learn about him and love him.  It make my momma heart happy!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Positive Dog

Yesterday I wrote about podcasts and mentioned Jon Gordon's Positive University podcast.  In the past year, I've read a couple of Jon's books - Energy Bus and Training Camp.  I just finished another one, Positive Dog.  

Several teachers at my school did a book study and twitter chat over it.  I really enjoyed it!

Gordon writes his books as parables.  He's always teaching you something but he's telling you a story at the same time.  His books are short but he makes you care about the characters in that short time.  Gordon includes research in his books to back up his assertions as well. 

Positive dog tells the story of two dogs in a shelter.  One is  very negative and didn't get a second look when families come to rescue dogs. The other is older and wiser and teaches the other dog the secrets to being more positive.  

I knew a lot of the things Gordon teaches in the book.  But I still feel like I gained new insights.  More than anything I was reminded of how important being positive is and how important it is to plan to be positive as well.  There's always a gap between knowing and doing.  Gordon always includes an action plan so you can implement what you've learned. 

What I really loved was our twitter chat.  I loved seeing our teachers come together to discuss the book. I loved reading their answers about how to stay positive. Some people were able to participate in real time and those conversations were fun. Others replied to the questions later and I loved the insight into some of my new co-workers.  

In our four chat sessions, I never left without a smile on my face and so proud of where I work! Special thanks to Paige Wester for organizing the book study and hosting the chats!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


I'm not that great at silence.  I love to learn.  I like to listen to people talk and not really have to respond.  So, I love audio book and podcasts.  I love to have them on in my office while I'm working.  I'm going to share some of my favorites with you today.

Late Night with Seth Meyers - I've been a Seth fan since he was on Saturday Night Live.  The podcast is kinda a recap of his show that I can't stay up for because it comes on after 9 pm CST.  Warning - if you're super politically conservative, you probably wouldn't like this one.

Without Fail - this is a podcast from Gimlet Media.  Gimlet started with a podcast called Start Up that chronicled the starting of their company and now follows other entrepreneurs.  On Without Fail, Gimlet founder Alex Bloomberg talks to other entrepreneurs who have experienced, survived and thrived after failure.  Super interesting!

Positive University Podcast - interviews by Jon Gordon.  I've read several of Jon's books and I really like his message.  Plus, he interviews a lot of sports people so I really love it.  Sometimes I listen and wish I could be Jon Gordon when I grow up!

30 for 30 podcasts - This is an ESPN production from the people who create the 30 for 30 documentaries.  Again, it's sports related which is awesome.  It's in depth reporting on common news stories so you get another angle.  The series they did on Brikam yoga was so interesting I've listened to it twice.

The Horror of Delores Roach - another Gimlet Media production.  This one is a serious adult podcast. It's fiction and very dark - with all the words.  Delores is newly out of prison and her story is fascinating.  I'm 5 episodes in and I'm hooked. {update - I'm on episode 6 and it is very adult! R rated}

Up First - an NPR production. This is a daily news podcast.  15 minutes of national and international news every weekday.  I can't handle watching the news so this does the trick.  I can listen while I get ready in the morning and feel informed.

Other favorites - Freakonomics, Planet Money, The Nod, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, FiveThirtyEight Politics, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, Serial (loved season 1, not a fan of season 2 but I'm LOVING season 3) and DriveTime Devotionals.

You can subscribe to any of these podcast for free.  iPhones have a native podcast app.  I've been using Overcast lately.

What about you? Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I'm a fan of systems. They bring order to chaos and make life easier. If you have a system in place, it's easier to get people to help you.  You can give them clear directions about what to do to make the system work. 

I also like designing systems.  Start with an outcome and work backwards.  It's probably why I enjoy making how to pages for my teachers and students.  Step by step pictures and words of what to do.

I try to design systems at home too.  Here's what we're going to buy each month at Sam's Club, divide it into baggies for lunches, hide the baggies, have enough food for school lunches all month.  Here's all the meat we're going to buy at Sam's Club, cook some of it, divide it into meal portions, freeze, eat later.  Easy peasy.  Breakfast each morning is egg and sausage burritos.  Sunday night, make the egg and sausage mix.  Breakfast is ready.

Creating a new system is my solution to a problem.  For example, B has a hard time at before school care.  How can we change our routine/system to take him to school at time instead of early to before school care? 

A few weeks ago, we had a parent teacher conference with B's teachers and found out that he should be reading 100 minutes a week at home.  Yep, that's gonna require a system. B likes to come home from school and be done with 'school things'. So job one was to convince him that reading is a life thing not a school thing.  Momma-librarian for the win!

Next, I created a visual system for B to see how many minutes he has read and how many are left read.  I divided a 100 bill into 10 sections.  I wanted him to see that he could eat the elephant in small bites.  I also wanted to remind him that his reward at school is classroom dollars. 

The first week was awesome! He was super excited to color in sections.  Also, we went to Dav Pilkey in Frisco - he read all the way there and for 30 minutes while we waited.  He was so excited to show his teacher when he colored in all the sections.

Of course, it's living the system that's the rub. He's supposed to read 100 minutes every week, not just one week.  He's not as excited about the chart.  He likes it but I have to remind him to read and color in sections.  He's happy to do it but he's not reminding me that it needs to be done yet.

Sticking with the system is crucial though.  So, I'll set reminders to remind him until it's second nature.  Once the system is second nature, that's when it's really a benefit. 

Are you a systems person or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

20 Sweet Years

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary.  This is another "I can't believe it" moment for me (see last week's discussion about being a grown up).  Marriage is not easy but it's worth it.  We've come so far and learned so much.  Today I'd like to share the top 5 things I've learned by being married for 20 years.

1. Ask for what you want/need. I learned this one right away.  When we were first married we lived in a tiny L shaped apartment.  After dinner Ryan would sit on the couch and watch TV while I flitted back and forth doing nothing but looking very busy at it.  Of course at the time I felt I was very busy doing very important things and that he was doing nothing.  One day I finally said "Are you going to do ANYTHING around here?" to which he replied "Are you ever going to sit down and watch TV with me?" A light bulb went off in my head. We both wanted the other to do something but hadn't asked. So, I started asking. When Ryan was working nights, I told him I needed help with chores.  I taught him how I wanted the clothes washed and he took over the laundry.  To this day he does all the laundry!

2. You don't have to do everything together.  When I was in grad school I wanted to bid on golf lessons in a department silent auction.  My would be coach asked me why I wanted to learn.  "To hang out with Ryan."  She marked my name off the list and told me "I'm not going to teach you. It's the only time I fight with my husband. Let him go golf, you go do something else." One time a newlywed friend told me that she and her new husband were fighting at the grocery store. They were fighting about the brands and what to buy and, in my opinion, a bunch of other stupid stuff.  It never occurred to me to take Ryan to the grocery store with me. Luckily, he's not a picky eater and is not too particular about brands. I shop and cook. If he doesn't like it, he'll usually let me know and then I don't make it again.

3.  Know what your partner needs to refill their energy.  Ryan knows I need LOTS of sleep.  He also knows that I need time with my girls.  I know that he likes to watch TV.  As a result, whenever I say "I"m going to bed" he kisses me goodnight and doesn't hassle me about it.  The flip side of that, I try to make sure things are handled and settled before I go to bed so he can just sit and watch TV.  Similarly, if I'm going to be gone for the weekend with my girlfriends, I talk to him and make a plan for him and the boys while I'm gone.  I don't just say "peace out" and leave them high and dry.   I used to make dinner for all the nights I'd be gone but I don't do that anymore.

4. Know your love language, know his and do something about it.  One of my love languages is receiving gifts.  Ryan's does not share this love language so it's not always easy for him.  I'm not always great at this but I try to let Ryan know when I'm expecting a gift.  And sometimes I give him a list or options. He's very good and often will buy what's on the list and surprise me with something else.  I do love to be surprised and he often does surprise me. But if it's a big event and I want a gift I try to let him know so I'm not disappointed.

5. Recognize what the other person does in the relationship and family.  Ryan recently gave me a big compliment "Being you is not easy.  I've been you a few days and I struggled. You make it look easy but it's hard." (that may not be a direct quote but that was the gist).  It was really nice to hear that he understands what I contribute to our family and that he appreciates it. Ryan works very hard on our yard. It matters to him and it shows.  I try to make sure to acknowledge his hard work.

So there you go, my top 5 marriage tips.  I didn't let Ryan read this first so I'm interested to hear his take on these things.  What's your tips for marriage?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dav Pilkey!

On Sunday, B and I went to see author Dav Pilkey.  Dav Pilkey is the author of the Captain Underpants and Dog Man graphic novel series.  I've written about him before.  B-man loves Dog Man!

Thankfully, the event organizers communicated very clearly before the event.  I did have to buy a ticket that included entry for 2 people and a signed copy of Dav's new book.  The organizers let us know that they were expected 3000 people, that Mr. Pilkey would speak for 30 minutes starting at 2 pm, doors would open at 12:30 and our order for the meet and greet was our ticket number. 

I explained all this to B before we left and I let him know that he was in control.  As soon as he was ready to go, we would leave.  He asked if he would get to take a picture with Dav Pilkey. I told him we could but our ticket number was 904 so we would be 904th in line.  He said "ummm, I don't know about that."

When we arrived there was a line outside to get in.  A line that started out on the sidewalk, went through the parking garage, down a hall then into the building.  Immediately, B needed to go to the bathroom. Usually this would be an emergency.  But he did well. He waited in line patiently until we got inside and he could use the bathroom.  I did smuggle a book in in my purse so he could read in line. 

We checked in and got B's signed book.  There were activities in the concourse: face painting, balloon animals, selfie stations and characters.  B just wanted to go inside the arena.

On our way into the arena we could smell pizza.  B, of course, wanted some.  I pointed out the line and he said no thanks. They were giving out posters, capes and other swag.  Again, B did not want to wait in line. I let B choose our seats.  He chose to sit up high in the seats on the side (versus on the floor). It was 1:30 by the time we got to our seat. 

They played music, showed videos and had Captain Underpants and Dog Man available for photos.  He sat and read for the entire 30 minute wait.  My mommy-librarian heart was so happy!

I loved Mr. Pilkey's talk! He told the kids about 3 important Ps - positivity, practice and perseverance.  He talked about his rough childhood having dyslexia and ADHD. He talked about how many times his first book was rejected.  B was totally tuned in, hanging on every word. 

During the talk, they gave away gift bags for answering questions.  B didn't win one and he even took that in stride!

After the talk they called numbers 0-100 to go meet Mr. Pilkey while a lady on the stage called numbers to win more prizes.  B started playing on my phone.  When she called 101-200 B asked when we could leave.  Right now, if you want, man.  So we left.  He had said he wanted a picture with Captain Underpants and Dog Man.  When walked out the way we came and didn't see them. I asked him if he wanted to go around the other way to find them.  "No, they probably took their suits off already" he whispered. 

I am so proud of B! He knew his limits and didn't have a problem letting me know in a calm manner.  He loves his new book.  On the way home we were able to talk about being positive, practicing and sticking with things.  All things B-man, and all of us, can stand to work on. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Bubble

Several weeks ago I laid in bed worrying about a multitude of insignificant things that seemed monumental at the time. Now I don't even remember exactly what what keeping me up.  What I do remember is the sense of a bubble growing around me - the worry bubble.

The worry bubble is all consuming. It closes you in from every side.   It surrounds you.  Everything you see or hear or touch is filtered through the bubble.  It's all you can see.  A permanent Instagram filter.  The bubble is suffocating.  The bubble puts distance between you and everything and everyone else.

A worry wart - what an ugly but appropriate saying.  Worrying is ugly.  Picture someone worrying.  Are they smiling?  No, usually worriers are knitting their brows together, frowning.  You don't want to sit down beside a worry wart and strike up a conversation.  I picture Debbie Downer. No one likes Debbie Downer, not even Debbie (except in this Debbie Downer skit where everyone cracks up - it's one of my favorites).

I used to be a world champion worry wart.  Two things remedied this.  B-man and a revelation. 

First B-man - there were literally not enough hours in the day to worry about everything to do with B.  Before he could speak, he got pneumonia 3 times.  All three times one day he had a runny nose and cough and the next he spiked a high fever and had pneumonia. The first time he had it the doctor was working to keep him out of the hospital and I wanted him in the hospital.  I was so worried I was going to do something to make him worse.  After a few years of this, I just couldn't do it anymore.  I was exhausted.

Second a revelation - around this same time I learned, I think from Beth Moore, that worrying is a sin. Worrying is a manifestation of not trusting God. When I worry, I'm telling God that I don't trust Him to take care of me. 

And's not that easy. The bubble still comes at night.  So what to do? 

1. I pray.  I thank God for everything He's done for me.  I recall a time He's taken care of me and I thank Him for it.  I visualize physically giving God whatever I'm worrying about. 

2. I worship.  Our brains are definitely like computers in the sense that Garbage In = Garbage Out.  Whatever we put in will come out.  I try to listen to worship music everyday so when I need to access it in my head, it's there.  I can 'play' the music in my head because I've heard it enough. 

3. I remember.  Along the same lines as worship, I try to memorize scripture so I can recall them when I need them.

What do you do?  How to you burst the worry bubble?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I love to receive gifts.  It's actually one of my love languages - along with words of affirmation so hit me up in the comments ;).  The problem is, I'm not that great at receiving gifts.  I'm great at receiving gifts on holidays and my birthday.  I suck at receiving them any other time. 

I also derive a great deal of joy from giving gifts. I really love giving gifts when people aren't expecting it. 

By sucking at receiving unexpected gifts I am depriving people of the very joy I love to experience. 

In recent weeks, our family has been on the receiving end of some very generous gifts.  And I really had a hard time accepting them. Don't get me wrong, I was super appreciative of the gifts.  I feel very blessed to be loved by the people who bought the gifts. 

One of the gifts was a big need. Like an 'Oh no! What are we going to do?' need.  I have no idea how our family would have met that need without the gift.  It was so hard to accept because I felt less like a grown up, kinda like a failure.  That I should have somehow been able to predict and plan for it.  I discussed it with the giver who quickly reassured me that they didn't see me that way. 

Yesterday I wrote about feeling like a grown up.  Talking about accepting that gift made me feel a little less grown up.  The discussion with a giver helped me see that I had a warped sense of what a grown up is. 

Slowly but surely, I'm changing my definition of a grown up.  A grown up is someone who gives and receives help with grace.  A grown up realizes that God cares for us through other people.  A grown up appreciates God's provision so they joyfully accept the help of others. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


This image came up in my Timehop last week.  Had it been a thing, I would have certainly used #goals at the end of this status update.

I reshared this on my Facebook page last week to say that I'd met my goal. I went around Ryan and my mom and I got season tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals.  We saw some awesome shows this year - including The Lion King - and we've already renewed our tickets for next year. 

Six years ago, I thought if I went to the musicals once a month I'd feel like a grown up.  But here's the thing...I don't feel like a grown up after seeing 6 awesome shows.  I did miss one, but I saw all the others.  Maybe the one I missed is the key to feeling like a grown up but I doubt it.

I hardly ever feel like a grown up.  In general, I feel like a 12 year old girl.  I usually have no idea what I should wear, no idea what to say, am uncertain about some relationships.  I doubt I'm a good mom.  I have no idea why Ryan married me.  I don't want to make side dishes for dinner, just the entree. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I'd really like someone to pay me to read, write, color and create all day.  There are about a million things I'd like to research and do and I have no idea how to even start.

Last week I decided I wanted to figure this out. How is it that I am 44 years old but everyday I feel like I'm a 12 year old girl. 

Here's what I came up with - I equate being a grown up with being able to take care of myself, with independence, with not needing anyone else's help. 

As soon as I realized this, I realized it's doubtful that I will ever feel like a grown up with this definition. 

I "learned" a long time ago that life is better when we are interdependent rather than independent.  By which I mean I agreed in principle but not really in action.  I love to give and serve.  I'm not a big fan of receiving and being served.  More about that tomorrow...

Thursday, October 4, 2018


I read this quote by Charlie Chaplin in my Bible study Wednesday morning;

A day without laughter is a day wasted. 

I loved it so much that I painted it on a window at the library as soon as I got to work this morning. 

I think I laugh every day. Honestly, I can't remember.  So many things happen in a day, some things I remember, others pass me by. There's just too much going on for it all to stick.

I do work hard at happiness. I surround myself with things that make me smile.  I try very hard to be around people I like and like the people I'm around.  But do I laugh?

Laughing means letting go a little.  To laugh you have to not worry what someone will think of you. You don't have time to worry.  You just react. You laugh.

I know I have laughed at inappropriate times and places.  But I can't mine the situation from my memory right now.

I laugh at myself a lot. I'm the first to tell you how I screwed something up so you can laugh.  Check my Twitter library's Twitter feed if you don't believe me.

And yet, I can't remember when I let loose and really laughed.  Not giggled, a belly laugh.  I want to laugh everyday. I want to be a person who notices funny things and reacts.

So, here I go...I'm going to start noticing things and laughing out loud instead of just typing LOL. Feel free to send me something to laugh at!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Y'all! I am so sorry! We were out of school on Monday so my days are off.  My mom texted me yesterday to ask where my blog post was and my first thought was, "It's Monday, no post on Mondays".  But then I remembered, it's actually Tuesday and I had, indeed, missed a post.  I'm sure it's going to be a week of trying to remember what day it actually is.

At lunch on Monday, B-man looked around and realized that Zac wasn't with us. "Where's Zac?" I told him Zac went to the Fair with his friends.  This launched a 20 minute discussion about why B wasn't at the Fair. First we discussed that he actually didn't like the Fair the last time we went.  We talked about why Sam and I didn't want to go to the Fair.  B didn't care.  His teacher had given him a ticket and she was expecting him to be there.  We tried to explain that his teacher didn't give the ticket to just him - all students had received a free ticket to the Fair. If his teacher was at the Fair, she wouldn't be there looking for him.  The Fair was optional.  On and on it went.

Later that night, Ryan got on to the dog for licking Zac's shoes, which I'm sure were coated in fried Fair food goodness.  Apparently, B didn't care for Ryan's tone.  He came over to tell us that Cub just wanted some attention and that we should give him some attention instead of yelling at him.  Ryan and I both said that Cub was not listening when we asked him to stop licking Zac's shoes.  B went on about Cub needing love. Ryan asked him to stop arguing, it was time for bed.

When I was putting B to bed last night he asked me: "Why do people think I'm arguing when I'm just giving statements that I want you to hear?"

Whoa!! So much in that sentence...self awareness, others awareness, seeking to understand.  Man o man!

He went on to mention our lunchtime conversation as well as the conversation about Cub.  We talked about how it comes across as argumentative when he just repeats his points again and again.  Then...

"I'm not trying to be offensive. I just want you to know."

I wish I had asked him why he thinks we aren't listening or knowing.  But I didn't. I coached him on how to talk to Ryan.  "Just say, I'm not trying to be offensive.  Then stop talking."

He couldn't do it.  He went out to Ryan and said "Daddy, I wasn't trying to be offensive." pause "but..."

B-man, stop, that's what we were just talking about.  Just tell Daddy you didn't mean to be offensive then stop talking.

I screwed up. I was so worried about how he was coming across.  I didn't not occur to me until much later that I needed to find out why he thought we weren't listening/learning what he had to say.  I'm going to try to circle back to it with him but I'm not sure we'll get there.  And I'm going to forgive myself for forgetting that his perspective is different than mine. That my job is not to just to help him fit into a world not designed for him but it's also to understand his world.