The Lasts…

#BigBrother is a senior this year, so since August 17, I’ve been marking the #FirstOfTheLasts. Last First Day Of High School, Last Picture Day (don’t get me started on the cap and gown or tuxedo photos), #FirstAndLast football game and homecoming dance. Last This, Last That.

Yesterday, we had his last ARD (Texas speak for IEP meeting). LAST IEP meeting. Last one. Before I can fully visit this, I have to rewind to kindergarten, no birth, where I begin asking, “Is this ‘normal?” Even the day he was born, I thought, “This baby isn’t like other babies I’ve known.” I asked at every annual visit about things we noticed. He was in Early Childhood Intervention due to food aversions that we’d chalked up to trauma related to multiple oral surgeries. He moved to outside Occupational Therapy for Sensory Integration Disorder. In preschool, I’d ask how he was. “He’s so smart! Yes, he plays with his peers.” Like so many families, we created structures and systems to help him navigate life. In kinder I noticed those systems beginning to not be enough. Finally, after YEARS of asking doctors, in first grade, I finally requested evaluation from the school.

Our wonderful, amazing, brilliant LSSP (who is still one of my all time favorite humans) told us what we’d known for six and a half years. Big is autistic.

I remember going to his first ARD like it was yesterday. My husband and I both attended. We walked in to a cramped conference room full of waiting women . There was a box of tissues in the center. I sat between the LSSP and my husband. The meeting began. We heard A LOT about how Big struggled. But, we also heard about his his vocabulary knowledge was in the 99.9th percentile, that he was reading at college level, that they saw him and appreciated him. The time came to discuss enrollment in special education.

I come from a long line of teachers. I am one now-although, I wasn’t at the time. I know about special education. My summers were spent riding the special education bus. But, I suddenly realized what that box of Kleenex was for. It doesn’t matter in that moment that you know special education isn’t what it used to be-kids aren’t in the basement, never seeing their typical peers. It didn’t matter. I was crying for me. I was crying for him and the struggles I was confirming he would continue to have. Mostly, I was crying because he would have the supports he would need to navigate school.

I met some of my dearest friends that year. One being Big’s case manager. She introduced me to others who knew. Others who got it. Others who I would grow to depend on in those early years like oxygen. We have had so many amazing supports throughout his twelve years with an IEP, but…

There were years. There were YEARS where not one teacher had something positive to say about my kid. I knew that was on them because my kid is rad, but it hurt. And I cried at every single one. There was one year that a writing teacher either called, emailed, or text nearly everyday with something Big could not/would not do. There were YEARS that I didn’t know if I was going to pull him from public education. This devastated me as a BELIEVER in public education.

This is why I became a special education teacher. I wanted to be the person that gets to say the GOOD. To tell parents we see their children. We see them.

Yesterday, was the meeting of my dreams. Big’s creative writing teacher shared that he is “one of the most prepared for college students” he’s ever seen. “His grammar and mechanics are precise, he has a voice in his writing, and has a unique way of viewing the world that is exceptional.” (Okay, I put this in quotes, but I’m slightly paraphrasing.)

This kid. Who in fourth grade refused to write, hating writing, has a VOICE! I cried at this IEP meeting too. I’m thankful for this particular last.

Big’s first photo.


Tonight is prom night in our little town. Not gonna lie; it’s a little hard. Recognizing that it’s a little hard to see is all about ME. And that’s okay. I’m allowed. I won’t wallow. Instead, we’ll head to one of #Bigs favorite places on earth, his Grany’s. Maybe try to do some fishing.

End of year celebratory posts can be hard on the hearts of moms to kids who aren’t “typical.” It doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate for the kids experiencing these rites of passage. It doesn’t even mean we really want our kids to do these things, either. There’s a certain amount of comfort knowing my kid will be home rather than attending after parties where kids are drinking-and ultimately driving home.

My husband didn’t attend prom; shock of shocks…he doesn’t regret it. Lots of kids don’t entertain these rites of passage for lots of reasons. These are valid experiences too.

I’m honestly considering a parody anti-prom photo shoot. Anyone in?


Confessions of a 40-Something Postpartum Mom

Hi. You may not know me. I’m Kristi. I’m a 40-Something mom to two boys who I call Big (13, Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Cleft Lip and Palate, and Profoundly Gifted. Oh. And Lazy) and Wee One (11, NTish, Self-Proclaimed Nerd, Control Freak, and my Big Headed Baby.) Because life seemed to be running too smoothly, husband and I decided (no we didn’t. That would imply we make decisions rather than letting things happen to us.) to have a baby at 40 something.  We call her #NotoriousVIG; she’s 15 weeks old and counting.

Last school year I went back to work full time for the first time in 13 years. I was a pre-k teacher at a small, local, private school. I loved my job, but there must have been something in the water over there. Two of us “geriatric” moms got pregnant. It wasn’t on purpose, but man, was it the best thing that could have happened for our little family.  But here I am. BACK at home. With an infant. And postpartum hair loss, not quite sure if my hot flashes are from my hormones trying to balance back out, or if I’m starting peri-menopause.

So, here’s my first “confession” to you all:  I feel my anxiety and depression creeping in. Don’t worry, I know the signs, so I’m taking the steps I need to take to help myself. Mostly, through self care. I’m already back to my pre-baby weight. Want to know my secret? I was short and fat to begin with. It’s not hard to bounce back when your shape was round to start. This weeks goal is to get dressed every morning. I don’t mean keep wearing my same ol yoga pants I wore all last week, not that theres anything wrong with that. Here’s what I’m doing, if you’re interested. At the five am feed, I change and feed the vampire, set her in her swing to nap while I pack lunches, make breakfasts and wake all the mens. Then, now this is some sort of far out concept, are you ready? I get dressed. Like pants, a fresh bra and tank top, shirt and cardigan (that’s my mom uniform).  I have curly hair, so I don’t wash it everyday. I’m down to twice a week (okay, once). Today is day three hair, so I combed through after spraying my refresh spray. I don’t do make up during the week if we aren’t going anywhere, because lets face it, I’m not taking that much care of myself. I can’t count on myself to wash my face at the end of the day. Today, I even put. on. shoes. #fancypants I know it’s not a lot, but it’s a start, and it makes me feel better.

I’ve gotten all my dishes done, started laundry, swept, and now I’ve even carved out twenty minutes to do my confession, which has led to my second confession. I went to add a pic of myself to this post and my face shine was reflecting so badly that I had to add loose powder and a gloss. So, look at me, I am wearing make up on a Tuesday. #doublefancypants  Maybe, we’ll start meeting up like this on Tuesdays for #coffeeAndConfessions? Do you have a confession you’d like to share?

Photo on 2-20-18 at 8.05 AM

Evidence that I got dressed and “fixed” my untamable hair.  Also, this is the thick pregnancy mane that I will be envious of after the shedding stops. #NoFilter




Oh Girl!

Today, as I perused Facebook with my coffee before waking children and the hustle and bustle of the day, I saw yet another article/post about a parent standing up for their daughter and the school dress code. It got me thinking.

Yesterday, I saw something a friend posted on Facebook.  It wasn’t anything new; it’s been going around for a while.  It was an article about Sam Carter, the front man for the British metal band Architects stopping a show because he saw a woman being sexually assaulted while crowd surfing. It got me thinking.

I’m 41. And pregnant. With a daughter. I grew up believing that my short shorts were a distraction to boys. I grew up believing that what little cleavage I might have had when I bent down to write was a reason for boys to pop my bra straps in the hallway.  I believed that my cheerleading uniform, that was somehow okay in the dress code even though it didn’t’ cover my ass, was reason for boys to slap it.  I was a distraction.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in dressing appropriately for the situation. I don’t like tank tops on boys or girls, personally, because arm pits are gross. Tank tops, short shorts, miniskirts, and midriffs are not why boys cannot concentrate at school. A girl could wear a potato sack and still be a distraction to a teenage boy.

A few nights ago, my favorite movie came on. Sixteen Candles. I can recite the whole movie. I was sorely disappointed in my sixteenth birthday that some Jake Ryan looking guy with a Porsche didn’t roll up to my non-existent sister’s wedding and whisk me away to his house for a birthday cake on his glass dining room table. There’s this scene where Jake is talking to Ted in the kitchen after Jake rescues Ted from the coffee table. They are talking about Sam and Ted tells Jake if he wants to be with Sam, Jake had better treat Sam right. Jakes reply, “I’ve got Caroline in my bedroom right now, passed out cold. I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.” So, the MOST ROMANTIC movie of my life is a little rapey. A little more than a little rapey. There’s another scene with Ted and Caroline later, but you get my point and as you’ve no doubt seen this movie, you know. My point is this, in 1984, our whole thought process was different. Like so many other things once you see it, you can’t unsee.

I cannot tell you how many shows I went to in my youth where I crow surfed, moshed, and got groped. I always fought back, but at the same time, it was something I expected. Something that “just happened.” I don’t know how many girls didn’t’ fight back, didn’t’ say “Stop, you f—-r!” Whose experiences at shows went further and were much more traumatic than mine.

In early 2004, when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I was relieved he was to be a boy.  I know, most moms dream of sweet little girls, but I was honestly terrified of bringing girls into this world. In early 2006, when once again I found myself expecting a little boy, I was comforted. It’s not that the thought of a daughter didn’t appeal to me.  I’ve always had a vision of what a girl of mine might be like:  cute in that mostly wild way, a little rough and tumble, sassy, wicked smart, and brave.  I was the type of little kid who wore my boy cousin hand me downs but could also wear a dress when required. I got a long with boys better than girls, for the most part, because girls baffled me. I have always pictured a theoretical daughter being the best of me, but with better hair.

But I was always thankful to have boys.  Not because I don’t worry about my boys in this crazy world, I do. I worry about the easy access to pornography at our fingertips, online bullying, my oldest not understanding the social norms, my youngest fighting for his brother, that fist fights rarely stay fist fights anymore, and on and on and on. But I haven’t worried about rape culture. My job as far as that has gone to this point is to raise decent human beings, to talk to them about enthusiastic consent. To teach them from an early age their body is their own and that rule applies to everyone. To tell them that just because you “only want a hug” doesn’t mean you get one unless the other person says so.

But, all of this shifted in late February when we found out we were pregnant.  I just knew it would be another boy.  But as with everything else, #NotoriousVIG had plans of her own from the very beginning. When the nurse called to tell me the results of our bloodwork, I was simultaneously excited to have a girl and scared. It all starts so early: the comments about dating, being pretty, being perfect, a princess, and on and on.

But over the last several years there has been a shift. A cultural shift. One that says, “Hey! NO. MORE. OF. THIS.” One where a girl or woman doesn’t value only because she is someone’s wife, mother, daughter or sister. She is valued because she is a woman; a PERSON in her own right. More MEN are standing up and saying “THIS IS NONSENSE!” We will not ask women what they were wearing at that show when they got groped. We will not ask them how much they had to drink at that party when the guy followed them to the bathroom. No. More. Men, even those like my bearded, heavy metal loving, tractor driving, engineer husband who lives in a very traditional marriage, are embracing the word feminist. 

My hope for little girls today is that this shift in thinking continues. That men and women continue to know how important this is and that they don’t let people who tell them otherwise win. That we continue to speak out, speak to our children, to STAND UP for our girls. For when we stand up for our girls, everyone wins.

As I’m typing, I feel my daughter moving. She is currently kicking my ribs and doing a handstand on my bladder. She is strong. I feel hopeful.



Be the ONE.

Yesterday we took BigBrudder’s paperwork to register for seventh grade. In our town, that’s Junior High. Early next week we have a sit down with his new teachers and team. I asked Big if there was anything specific he wanted them to know; he just said to “Be sure they tell subs I’m allowed to have my clay.” For a kid that struggles with transitions, he’s really pumped about JH. I am not.

I decided that instead of my normal try-to-make-Big-seem-like-a-real-person-with-real-needs-letter-that-never-gets-read-or-taken-to-heart-or-whatever, I’m giving an “IEP at a Glance” with his accommodations bulleted out along with some helpful hints and our “Meltdown Protocol.”

I don’t know the answer to the question “How do I get people to UNDERSTAND that “high functioning” autistic kids (adults too but we’re talking school) NEED supports to be successful?  I really think they know it.  I really think they believe they understand. I really think they try to understand. But mostly, they don’t. Is it time? Is it too many kids in a classroom? Is it exhaustion? Is it that by assuming they know, they turn a blind eye to real, often simple solutions?

I hear too often “He’s in honors classes, I shouldn’t have to (fill in the blank of something someone thinks they shouldn’t have to do.)” Or,  “He’s twelve, he should be able to (fill in the blank of something someone thinks he should be able to do unassisted). Maybe. But change and self-reliance don’t happen over-night. A kid doesn’t simply become able to manage his whole schedule with no help because we want him to.

Thinking about posts I’ve seen online regarding schools not letting parents “bail kids out” when they’ve forgotten a lunch or left their homework at home, I think to myself, why do we hold 12 year olds to a higher standard than we do ourselves? If I forget my lunch, I have a car and can go pick something up. If I’ve forgotten a file I need at home, I can call my husband to email it; my boss doesn’t care how I get it, only that I have what I need.

I often use the example that my husband and I have a series of checks and balances for our bills. As I’ve told y’all on my Facebook page, hubs lives and dies by the spreadsheet. Excel is a God in his engineer brain. He has our life planned out to the nickel for the next ten years. He knows when every bill is due, when the last time we moved money, he is a projector. Yet, we ask each other questions. “Did you remember we got the medical bill from the (fill in the blank of seventy-eleven specialists our family sees)?” If he asks me to mail something for him, he often texts to make sure I remembered and vice versa. Because we are a team.  That doesn’t make either of us irresponsible. In fact, building yourself a support system is the opposite of irresponsible. Why would we not let children have a support system?

Can you tell I am an anxious hot mess? I am every year at this time. I feel hopeful about this year, mostly because Big is.

Every year my prayer is that there is ONE teacher that gets it. ONE teacher that gets and APPRECIATES him. ONE teacher that advocates for him. ONE teacher that stands up for him. One. We didn’t have that last year in the classroom; he had one on campus, for sure, but none in the classroom. One. That’s all it takes to make a difference. Teachers. Be the ONE for a kid.


Follow all the blue links for past letters to the teacher and other samples of what we’re giving out this year.