an ode to big sisters – a story in pictures


The morning of the first day of school was, well, not good. It was in fact the opposite of good. Brooke had spent the entire morning in tears.

On the way out the door, I picked up my camera. Then I looked at my youngest girl and set it back down. This was no time to try to take a picture. She was miserable.

But then I picked it up again.

I decided that I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get a photo of my girls on their way to begin their fourth and second grade years. If we had to remember it this way, so be it. But my babies should have a picture. They have one from every year prior. They’d have one from this year too.

When I bought Brooke a purple dress this year to wear on her first day of school, Katie made me promise to find her a purple one too. We have to match for picture, Mama! We scoured the stores til we found just the right one. It was all about complimenting her sister. The colors had to be just right. When we finally found a dress she loved, the shoulder straps were too long. I’d stayed up late the night before to fix them. She had to wear that dress. It was important to her.

Yes, my babies deserve a record of these days. And, just like her little sister, my Katie deserves the world. She is the only human being I know that can perform this kind of magic.

I give you An Ode to Big Sisters – A Story in Pictures … (also known as ‘first day of school, 2010’).











Wishing all of you a wonderful new year.

May all of our wondrous children have the opportunity to learn in a place where they feel loved, supported and celebrated.


Ed Note: After yesterday’s post (and even today’s), I feel like I owe you an update. Brooke woke up yesterday morning in a wonderful mood. She was silly and script-y and raring to go. Her second day at school was far better than her first. It was a whole new ball game once she knew what to expect. Her aide this year is new to us, but it’s become obvious in a matter of just two days that we are in the right hands. She gets it. When I told her how difficult Tuesday night had been (I think I used the word apocalyptic), she said, “The first day was hard for her. Everything was new. When I saw how hard she was working to manage herself and to redirect her energy when the stress was too much, I knew full well that we were purchasing our morning with your evening. But she got through what she needed to get through.” Is that not the most amazing description of what our kids have to do? “Purchasing our morning with your evening” says it all, doesn’t it? I haven’t hugged her yet, but I’m guessing it won’t be long.

Thank you all for your support over the last couple of days. It means the world to me to be reminded again and again that we are not on this journey alone.

47 thoughts on “an ode to big sisters – a story in pictures

  1. I love that the possible related post suggestion is “Closet Eating”.

    I thought you’d enjoy that.

    Katie needs to be dipped in gold and distributed to all families who need a big sister.

    This is how sisterhood is done, people.

  2. WOW…..Katie is an amazing child…you know my famous saying apple/tree….well if you could clone her I would be at the top of the list to get a Katie child. Bravo to the school for picking the right para and when you hug her, give her a hug for me will ya?

  3. I love the thumbs up! We have a habit of doing that too. Katie is a gem of a girl I see amazing things coming from her in about 15 years and I cant wait to see it!

  4. I hope no one sees the tears of wonder while I’m sitting here at my desk. Gotta love that thumbs up in the end.

    Thank you for the update on how school went for Brooke — I’m hoping things go well for my little guy and his mommy too.


    P.S. Been reading in for awhile. Decided to comment so I didn’t feel like a stalker. You have a beautiful family.

  5. First day was really hard for MacKenzie too. She woke up and told me she was going to throw up. It was a major ordeal getting her out the door, but when we got to the bus stop with her friend, she was better. Thank God I took the morning off…..
    Yesterday was a different story, she couldn;t wait to go back and asked me if she could stay at school LONGER because it was so much fun.
    Your daughters are gorgeous and the pictures are a loving testimony to that! What a great memory! I was heartbroken reading your post on Tuesday, as Mom’s we do want to make it all better and it;s so hard when that is out of our control. Take care, hope the rest of the year rocks!

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. It makes me feel better knowing that day 2 is better because they know what to expect. My Madelyn has yet to start kindergarten even though her class has been there for 2 days, because our district never assigned the aide or transportation she was approved for in June. This all despite my daily (I kid you not) phone calls so we could arrange a face to face meeting with the aide, who it turns out, now has to be hired! Tomorrow will be her first day sans aide, but with a contingency plan in place until aide is hired. As if the kindergarten transition itself isn’t hard enough…..

  7. Look how beautiful they are! I know what you mean… T’s first week has been the same way. All the change is rough on us all. All he does when he gets home is scream and I know he doesn’t want to. 😦 it never gets easier just different.

  8. I love so much about this post but what really strikes me about the pictures is how Katie never takes her eyes off of Brooke until Brooke is off and running. Such love, such focus, such an amazing sister . . . beautifully captured.

  9. What great pictures – and what a beautiful story they tell! I’ve got a lump in my throat. I love that Brooke’s aide so clearly gets it. I want to hug her, too. The purchasing analogy was spot on!

    This might make you laugh.. I homeschool my boys now – and for a week leading up to the “first day” the transition anxiety still sets in. Poor sleep, emotional outbursts, regression… For the first few days I get the same meltdowns as when they were going to brick and mortar school. Last night Boy Two told me, “Of course I’m crying! You make school really fun now, but I’n not SUPPOSED to LIKE it!! Don’t you know how confusing that is?!?!”

    Maybe this June, I’ll just keep on going. =)

  10. Siblings are just amazing, aren’t they? My “Katie” is not even 1.5, but somehow she still has a unique ability to turn her brother’s mood around.

  11. I read all your posts and many of them touch me deeply, but for some reason this one has me falling to pieces at my desk. What an amazing gift for Brooke to have someone who can reach her when she doesn’t know how to reach herself.

  12. Katie is an amazing big sister, the pictures are hearbreaking and beautiful at the same time. Your girls are gorgeous and I am glad that Brooke is doing a bit better.

  13. I love how Janet put it…that Brooke has “someone who can reach her when she doesn’t know how to reach herself.” We should all have such sisters and friends.

    The aide? TOTAL KEEPER. Unless, of course, she’d like to move to a certain small mid-Atlantic state to work with a certain small-ish boy named Nik? 😉

  14. Sorry I’ve been so busy reconnoitering I’ve missed all that’s been going on with our girl. Glad to hear it’s back on track at school. The aide is all that and a bag of chips. Purchasing our morning with your evening. NEHBM of that. And Katie? OMHOG, that girl is going straight to heaven. The pictures are priceless.

  15. I’m so happy you have a wonderful new team member! Here’s to a sucessful year!

    PS I could use one of those gold dipped Katie’s will you let me know as soon as they’re avaialable?

  16. The love of a sister is something that people without sisters can never truly understand. Katie is the best big sister ever, and those pictures almost had me in tears of seeing the transformation of Brooke. Keep working hard all of you, and good luck to both Brooke and Katie in school this year!

  17. You’ve said it before – the siblings will change the world…I have to agree.

    Unfortunately in my house, I’ve had the opposite experience. Day 1 was full of smiles for the camera and silliness and even excitement. I think that B thought everything would be the SAME as when he last left school. Day 2, today, complete heartbreak, fear and anxiety, as B has now realized how different everything is this year. I so hate feeling helpless, but I am comforted by this community knowing that I am not alone in my feelings. And, at least I have wonderful first day of school pictures to fake out the history books.

  18. Wow, Jess, beautiful girls! I get a feeling of pride about my oldest son for the same reasons. He’s wonderful with his little brother, most of the time. They ARE brothers after all, lol.
    And I wish we could clone your para!

  19. your girls are gorgeous – crying or not. I love Katie’s look at the end when Brooke stops crying. Big sister to the rescue. Amazing how sometimes the older sibling can do what we as parents can’t. Hope the week went well.

  20. Autism Siblings Rock! Thank you for sharing….Katie reminds me of my “typical” son and how he interacts with his 4 yr. old brother (diagnosed with ASD 9 months ago). I plan on becoming a frequent reader, thank you Jess!

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