Cookbooks, Travels, And Speaking At Length

I’ve been writing this post over the course of a week…or two. The hardest part has been continually going back and changing all the present tense to past tense as it takes me longer to finish writing everything. I mean, maybe that means I should do more frequent shorter posts, but why do the thing that makes the most sense when I can do what takes twice as long and is more complicated???? Anyway, lots of paragraphs ahead, and plenty of cute baby photos past the half way point.

Since turning 44, and sharing my last post, we celebrated a few other notable events. Addie turned 20 on the 27th and on October 8th, Teddy turned 12. 

One of Teddy’s “things” right now is themed cookbooks. We have a Red Wall cookbook (that’s technically Addie’s) he enjoys trying recipes from, and we picked up an unofficial Harry Potter cookbook a little while back too. For his birthday, he got the NFL Family cookbook which combines his love of football and the recent interest in cookbooks. The funny thing is, it was printed in the late nineties, so some of the featured players have long since faded into obscurity, having never quite lived up to the hype of their first couple years. But some big names are in there (we made John Elway’s hamburger soup)  and it includes some fun football information too. Teddy and Fulton are already making plans for our next Super Bowl party and I think it includes some of Archie Manning’s Cajun Shrimp and Howie Long’s Apple Pie.

There was also a recent school book fair and Teddy acquired the Star Wars Baking Cookbook. He quickly picked out a couple items as special birthday foods and thankfully I didn’t find either difficult. One highlight is that this cookbook features a recipe inspired by the awful Star Wars Christmas special (which you can find on YouTube but I DON’T recommend it at all- I actually recommend you STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM IT AS POSSIBLE.)  

We celebrated his birthday and mine with my parents on the 8th. He got a lovingly crafted Chiefs birthday cake made by my mom and I got an Amish made shoofly pie. After my trip to the Kutztown Folk Fest I’d been swearing I’d make one myself, but of course never got around to it. Thankfully the one my parents picked up for me from a local Amish farm was the best shoofly pie ever!! Even Tony, who’d had it before but wasn’t a huge fan, really enjoyed the pie- as did Fulton. Now I just have to get more of the family on board with red beet eggs. 

Our family is in the throes of a heated family fantasy football league. Really, all the “heat” belongs to Fulton and Teddy…mostly Teddy….but we don’t let the smack talk get too out of hand. It’s a mostly fun experience even for me, the participant with the least knowledge. Probably one of the best parts are just the names the boys gave their teams. Byron is Approximately 37 Horses, Fulton’s team is the Lazy Hippos, and Teddy is the proud owner of the Fat Moose. Hopefully they will be consulted if there’s ever another NFL expansion. 

There’s been quite a few IEP type meetings in the last couple weeks as the schools finalize what accommodations the boys need. The middle school where Teddy attends has been very communicative and I thought things were settled until I realized some teachers were modifying his work, assuming a cognitive need, when in actuality, he only needs modifications for his physical disabilities (more time to write or type answers because his hands get tired, etc.). I’d read all his modifications in that light, as did his case manager, so we were both surprised to realize a couple teachers were reading them in a completely different way. Teddy and I had both wondered why certain teachers “hovered” so much and why his work was “different” from that of his classmates. Thankfully, we caught these mistakes early in the year and everyone is on the same page going forward. 

Fulton enjoys high school. He’s already missed two days due to a nurse calling out, but I knew that would be an ongoing problem. There’s been a couple “hiccups” but overall, I’m happy with how things are going. I hesitate to put the details of any concerns I have on the blog because a link to this site is included in the signature of every email I send. I really don’t want anyone from the district clicking through and reading a rant about something school related on here. I’m going to focus on the positive aspects, knowing that there will be issues at times, but that those issues should be addressed directly to the school rather than shared online. (I mean yes, I’m venting to my in-person friends, so if you’re really curious, you’ll need to come visit me in New Jersey.)

When I wasn’t in school meetings, I was planning for my trip to California. Traveling to Los Angeles to see my new niece in person didn’t really require any prep (though I did send a few books in advance), but because I was planning to fly from there directly to the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities conference in Houston,Texas I was busier than usual the week prior. The conference ran from Friday October 21-Saturday October 22 and I was fortunate enough to speak on ‘How Parishes Can Work with Parents of Children with Disabilities’.  I knew that I’d be focused on baby snuggles and cleaning spit up while in LA, and there’d be little to no time to rehearse my talk. So in the weeks leading up to my trip, I was working on my presentation, updating resources and printing samples of my ministry’s resources to share. Plus staring into my closet and wondering what professional women wear these days.

A snuggly distraction.

Tony and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on the 13th, and I left on the 14th. Don’t worry- we got in a date night on the 12th. Thankfully, all my flights were uneventful, and throughout my trip I had the best Uber drivers. (One called me a glowing goddess in a not creepy way and I’m just going to savor that for awhile.) I spent five full days with my sister and her new baby. While I would’ve loved to do more sight seeing, the focus of my trip was just enjoying the baby and washing bottles. I did jog around Long Beach, and walk to mass at the beautiful St. Anthony’s church (the mosaics!!) and on my flight to Houston I even had a celebrity sighting – Martin Short!!! so, even though I didn’t do all the touristy things, it was a wonderful visit and time passed too quickly.

Not a bad way to get in some cardio.
Getting smiles!
Trapped under a sleeping baby and binge watching The Watcher (awful!), Hoarders and cheesy comedies.
Having a very serious conversation while Darla the dog considers doing something to get our attention.

I left behind sunny weather in the 90s, for sunny weather in the 80s. I WAS LOVING IT. Once again, my online friends stepped up and provided me with a place to stay. My sister was surprised I was staying with someone I’d never met in person, but I assured her, I do this all the time. In Houston, I had the pleasure of staying with Amanda and her family. She is the writer behind the Accepting the Gift Home-Based Religious Education Curriculum. We’ve talked online frequently, so it was great to finally met her in the flesh. She was even kind enough to feed me homemade coffee cake, margaritas, and take me to Whataburger (at different times, NOT all at once just to be clear).

The NCPD Conference, ‘One Lord, One Faith, One Family; Disability Ministry in a Synodal Church’ was enlightening and inspiring. I’ve been trying to attend a bunch of Catholic events to spread the word about my ministry Accepting the Gift, and while people are always excited about the work I’m doing and understand the need, it was edifying to attend an event where everyone is working to make the Church more inclusive and accessible. On one hand, it feels like we still have such a long way to go, which is sad since we should be leading the way, but on the other, I have so much hope and I feel like I’m really at the forefront of a movement that is breaking down barriers and creating a better Church for disabled people and their families.

My talk went well, despite the power going out during the previous keynote talk. I felt justified in not having PowerPoint slides (because there’s ALWAYS technical issues….and I hate making slides). I had a microphone for the first ten minutes, then the battery died and I had to project, which anyone who knows me personally knows was not an issue at all. Thankfully the power did come back on, I got a new mic, and I think all the talks were successfully live-streamed and recorded.

The other thing I noticed was that, when I’m talking about topics related to parenting a child with disabilities I can go on endlessly. One of my biggest problems when speaking is I tend to fall short of the allotted time. I often forget a story or point I wanted to make, even with notes. But with this talk, when I practiced, I went way over on time. It was a relief because, of course, when I gave the talk, I forgot a few things, but I still came in on time. It helped to drive home to me that this is something I’m supposed to be doing; I really have a passion for it. It’s not that I don’t like speaking about homeschooling, or at general women’s conferences, but speaking about disability issues seems to come much easier for me. At lunch, people were able to sit and talk with me about working with special needs parents and I had two great discussions both days. I never wanted to be a “special needs blogger” or make writing about related topics my niche, but I can see how God led me in this direction anyway and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do this work.

Pretty sure this is long enough. I’ll definitely be back next week with Halloween costumes and probably some other stuff too…like everything I didn’t remember to include in this post.


  1. Sounds like you’ve had some truly restful weeks. Yay!

    I always enjoy reading your posts. The way you describe things and pull in random thoughts sounds similar to the way my brain works, so even when you don’t write funny things, I sometimes find myself nodding and smiling.

    Happy Wednesday!

  2. We’ve made some great recipes from the Harry Potter cookbook! During COVID my daughter asked to make every meal for her birthday from it.

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