Category Archives milestone

Moving Beyond Middle School

Middle school is a time that most people would love to forget. I know I did not like my two years spent in one. Thanks to this, I worried for many years about my oldest son going to middle school for grades 6-8. I had general concerns and some as the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. Let’s be honest, kids can be cruel and this is a rough time where you are trying to figure things out. When NHL finished elementary school, it was also the last time my boys were in a school together. It was a hard time for me to get beyond that. Was I sad about him leaving his school? The honest truth is that I was not. I was simply scared of the unknown.

School Memories

Fast forward three years to the last day of middle school for NHL. What I never could have predicted at the time was crying over the end.

Middle school has been the best three years of my son’s life. He has grown socially, emotionally, and academically. He is becoming a self advocate, more independent, and sets his own challenging goals which he meets. Once again, NHL adores learning and genuinely likes being in school. This is pretty big for a teen.

So what made the difference?


We didn’t know a single teacher or professional at the middle school the day we walked in. They quickly took not only my son under their wing, but our entire family. For the first time in years, I was a special needs mother that could exhale, sit back, and stop being in defense mode. This was hard to adjust to and took time. NHL’s 6th grade teachers helped me to realize that we are all a team. Team meetings over the last three years taught me a lot about my son, his teachers, and the school he is leaving.

This week, I wrote one of the hardest thank you notes I have ever written. It was to the TA that has been with NHL for three years. This amazing man got my son. He was our eyes and ears when we could not be there. He was also a strong advocate for NHL. J took time to not only learn about autism, but about my son and his quirks. His patience went above and beyond. He has helped NHL to be more independent, aware of his anxiety and how to cope, and been a fantastic role model.

Something that had been missing before J came into NHL’s world was the ability to trust an adult. NHL had been hurt so badly over the years in school.  Not only did his peers bully him, but he was bullied by adults that refused to understand my son. They simply did not get that autism is different for each child and could not see beyond behaviors. The reality is my son was bored, anxious most of the time, and had lost his love of learning. J helped him to get past this. Thanks to J, NHL learned he could trust most, if not all, of his teachers. They were there to help him.

Heading to high school

Once again, the unknown has me nervous. We don’t really know anyone at the high school. We have met a few people and they seem nice, but it won’t be the same. Middle school has set my expectations to a very high point. I blame a lot of this on the principal. He not only hired NHL’s TA to work with him, he crafted the wonderful teams of teachers in the building.

The difference this time around is I know my son’s true potential. NHL is an amazing young man who is so smart. He gets things to such a levels that it blows my mind. I know that no matter what happens at the high school he is going to do great things because he can and will.

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Hello 40

2016 has been a year filled with many emotional events. When it started, I knew it was also a big milestone year for me. Part of the time, I wondered about turning the big 4-0. There were things I wanted to do while I was still in my thirties, but life sometimes gets in the way. Being an adult means going with the flow and working through the roller coaster of events that come your way. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t whine about it from time to time with those that are close to you. A huge thank you to those that listened and cheered me on.

 40 is the new 30

Several days ago, a friend asked me how I was feeling about turning 40. The reality is I have not had time in the last few months to think about it. So much is happening in my personal life that I have not had a lot of time to stop and think about it. That’s a good thing, but I think it may kick me in the gut once the reality hits. As I sit here typing this, I am technically still 39. When this post publishes, it will officially be my 40th birthday. Lately, I have noticed I keep getting random thoughts that stop me in my tracks. Here are a few of them. .

— As a child, you think 40 is so far away. Then you graduate from high school, continue with schooling, get married, have kids, and suddenly you are here!

— I have been out of high school for more years than I was in school.  A random factoid that crushed me while driving to pick up the kids the other day..

— My oldest is a teen and about to begin his high school life. In a few short years he will be finishing high school and entering the world as an adult.

— My baby is almost ten. Please make him stop growing up.

— Each time I go to school, I think about my youngest’s last years of elementary school and my oldest finishing up middle school. I swear they were both just in kindergarten. I want those days of innocence back.

— Family members are aging and with that come new adult topics. Take time to hug those you love.

— Middle age makes you tired thanks to insomnia. Clearly, I need to work in the middle of the night when I can’t get back to sleep.

Family First at 40

40 is going to be all about putting my health and family first. While we were away in October, we were all happy. Some recent events have proven that you need to live life in the moment and enjoy the time you have with loved ones. While we may get on each other nerves, family is forever. I want to watch the wonder in the kid’s eyes while they are still home. I want to travel more with them to see our beautiful country and beyond

Looking forward to life after turning 40 and sharing bits and pieces of it here.

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A Letter to My Teenage Son

A Letter To My Teenage Son

Dear NHL,

Happy 13th birthday NHL! Please hold for a moment while I scream. You see, today is a huge milestone for our entire family. You are officially 13 years old and a teen. No more preteen garbage, it’s all or nothing kiddo. This also means that Dad and I are now the parents of a teenager.

How did this happen?

It honestly feels like a blur and is hard to believe that my first born is now 13 years old. I swear it seems like yesterday when I was:

  • changing a million of your diapers.
  • picking out cute baby outfits for you to wear.
  • sitting on the floor with you for tummy time.
  • watching your eyes light up as you spoke to us for the first time.
  • singing and dancing with you and The Wiggles.
  • getting you ready to head to daycare which broke my heart.
  • driving you with a box of donuts to visit Poppy Sol.
  • clapping my hands when you walked on your own.
  • preparing you to become a big brother.
  • crying on your first day of school.
  • listening to you read me your first book.
  • watching your love of learning grow more and more each day.
  • chasing you from one Disney character to another for an autograph and photo.
  • hugging you tight as we left one school to try another.
  • listening to you play percussion for the first time.
  • talking to you about neurodiversity and what it means.
  • attending your first band concert.
  • taking you to visit the middle school.
  • going to school to watch you during the honor roll ceremonies.

There are so many other moments and memories that we have shared in the last thirteen years. I never would have imagined how your birth could change my world. I am so thankful that you are my son and part of my life. Each day you continue to amaze me with your kind soul, amazing insight, and quick ability to learn and retain new things. While we may not see eye to eye every day, I know this is just a phase of our relationship that goes with the teen years. This will pass and one day we will look back and laugh at it.

It still floors me that you can look me right in the eyes. In a few months, I will likely be looking up to speak to you. We are weeks away from your Bar MItzvah. Through all of the preparations you have been amazing. You have rarely complained about anything and done what needs to be accomplished to get ready for your big day. I know it hasn’t been easy to go to Hebrew School, lessons, and more over the last few years. You followed through with this like a champion and I can’t wait to see you up on the bimah sharing this with all of our family and friends.

Two short years ago, we celebrated your 11th birthday and were anxious about middle school. You went into the building and showed us how to get it done. You set goals for yourself and never stopped once you reached them. Gold Honor roll was important, along with honors classes, and making All City Band. After Labor Day you will begin 8th grade with all honors courses, including two 9th grade Regents classes. It’s going to be a busy year, but I know you will get it done and make all of us proud of your hard work.

While I know the teen years can be difficult, I hope that you know Dad and I are here for you. We will be cheering you on from behind the scenes and ready to help if/when you need us. As always remember to Just Keep Swimming toward any goals you set. Anything is possible and don’t let anyone ever tell you something different.



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Ticktock the Bar Mitzvah Clock

Thirteen years ago, I was planning for the birth of my first baby. Now, as my son is about to officially become a teen, TechyDad and I are planning something very different. In about five months, we will have NHL’s Bar Mitzvah. Apparently, I should not only be counting down the days, but I need to make lists, get concrete plans, and lots more before the special day. Oy to the vey!

 Ticktock the Bar Mitzvah Clock

While I am a Type A personality that loves to plan and make lists, I just can  not focus on this. For some reason, living in the moment and keeping up with every day life is enough right now.

Bar Mitzvah List

NHL started his official Bar Mitzvah lessons with our cantor months ago. Almost every day, we hear him reciting different parts of the Shabbat service. Thanks to technology, we have digital copies of prayers/portions for him to practice while at home and on the go.

As we get closer and closer, everyone asks me for details about our plans. The honest truth is that we are still not entirely sure about a lot. We need to chat with NHL about what he wants. As an almost teen, he does get to have some say.

I have met with members of our synagogue to talk about some options that are available. As NHL and TechyDad frequent Shabbat services, they seem to have a few more preferences on things.

There are a lot of questions on my mind and I know we will figure them out. Some include:

  • When do we need to order invitations for family and friends?  Related to this – Where should we order invitations from?
  • Does NHL still prefer a low key extended Kiddush luncheon?
  • Where does NHL want to celebrate instead of having a party? For quite a while now, NHL has said that he wants to go away and only cerebrate a little with friends the weekend of his Bar Mitzvah.
  • What do we do beyond the actual Bar Mitzvah to celebrate with out of town family and friends?
  • Where do we order kippahs from and how many should we get?

We now have a meeting to sit down with our rabbi to chat again. There really is a lot to do, yet there really isn’t. While I could/should be stressed about everything, reality still has not hit about how close NHL is to becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Perhaps as we talk to family about honors during the Shabbat service things will become a bit more real.

If you have planned a Bar Mitzvah, what else should be on my list? Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

It's Me

Hard to believe that the last time I wrote about this process was in December 2014 when we were asked to pick a date – Planning a Bar Mitzvah

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Twelve Years

Dear NHL,

Please slow down! You are growing up way too quickly before my eyes. It seems like when I blinked you went from being a child to a teen. The little boy in you is pretty much gone and I see an amazing young man emerging.

 Turning Twelve Years Old

Last summer was bitter sweet. I watched you move on from elementary school and sent you off to middle school. I held my breath for many days unsure of how this huge transition would go. Big changes are never easy and we tried to preset you as much as possible in a positive way. Moving from class to class, having multiple teachers, and being in a huge school could have been a disaster. Much to my surprise, you loved middle school. Each and every day, you woke up and wanted to go to school. This was new for you and after a few months, I was able to exhale.

You were so blessed to have been in a school with a team of sixth grade teachers that were so dedicated. You witnessed teamwork in action and, thanks to this, were able to spread your wings. We also saw you become more responsible and mature. We were proud of your grades, but you wanted more. You set your mind on making gold honor roll third quarter. You told every person at school that this was something you wanted. We watched as you worked so hard to accomplish this goal. You studied hard and stayed after school when you wanted to make sure you understood aspects of the book you were reading. When it came time for honor roll to be announced, you were so proud of yourself. You were beaming and I was so thrilled for you. Now if you ever give up on something, I will subtly remind you of your ability to set goals and accomplish them.

Eleven was also the year that you went to the local science fair with your project. Your passion for science really took off this year because of a dedicated period each day with a teacher that inspired you through hands on learning. I can no longer assist you with your math because you are too good at it. For now on, you will be my guru for all things related to numbers. For NYSSMA, you asked your band teacher to allow you to try timpani drums instead of the usual snare drums. Once again, your determination to challenge yourself paid off.

This year, your braces came off and we learned about life with retainers together. Seeing your beautiful smile made the last pesky weeks of your metal mouth worth the stress. Outside of school, your interests have changed a little. You are still our geek in training earning lots of respect for your knowledge of Star Wars, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, card games like Munchkin, and so much more. Video games are still a huge part of your life, whether apps on your tablet or on the Nintendo WiiU. You also overcame a huge fear and learned how to ride your bike. Seeing you head off on your own thanks to a great program with role models that inspired you was so wonderful to witness.

 Birthday Boy and Brother on Bikes

The year ahead of us is going to be a busy one. You are off to seventh grade where they will challenge you academically. In addition to this, we have a Bar Mitzvah to get ready for. While I am in denial about this, the special day is just around the corner. Please remember that no matter how busy we get, I am always there for you. I will be your advocate and cheer you on as loud as I can. While you may not need me as much as you used to, I will always be ready to stand by your side.



Past B-day posts to NHL:

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