Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Our traditions and how we are non-traditional

We are fairly traditional when it comes to having a Christmas tree, huge childhood birthday celebrations, and Tucker’s bedtime routine. Which – the bedtime routine each night – is exactly the same.

Every. Single. Night.

First, milk downstairs. Then choosing a toy, but not before he hides under a blanket and I say “Oh no! What is this? A present? For me?”  Then, the toy choosing, and one of us carrying the toy and the milk while the other carries Tucker up the stairs upside-down (which is getting more difficult as he’s now topped 50 pounds – and yes, he’s four).

He then gets “boofed” on the bed, we have a little clothing removal war, a pee, jammies, the Monkey Song, almost-teeth brushing, and then, we all head to his room (in order). He lies in bed with Robert, they read the rocket book, and I come back in (after doing my special knock so that Tucker can hide and I can enter asking how Daddy lost him while wondering where he is) for song tickles and lights out.

I say “light, bed” at the end of song tickles. The song, and the back tickles are the same, every night.

We snuggle.

We say I love you (well, I do. He says “I you,” which is awesome enough), ‘nite, and “twee dwees” (sweet dreams).

The point is that it’s a routine. It’s nice, and that’s a tradition, right?

Becoming the family that we are today has had many paths. Some traditional, and some less so. The following are a few of the milestones. 

Advanced Maternal Age being stamped on all of the paperwork meant that I had Tucker when I was 40. While it was traditional in the sense of the questions, the feet swelling, the bra sizes, the scared, the hopeful, and the awesome, it was also bed rest at 26 weeks. It was shock and awesomeness, that I finally got knocked up when we weren’t expecting to.

It was life.

It was going to the doctor and having a room full of eight people who needed to see what a pregnant 40-year old’s incompetent, oldass cervix looked like. It was the hope.

It was an amnio. The implied need, horror, and guilt. It was the fear that I’d lose this baby, too. That this time, it would be my fault.

It was birthing him.

It was finding out two years later that he was delayed.

It was that we waited, and continue to wait, for language, and hope. That we already have both. That we’re getting there.

It means that life is scary. That sometimes, being a special needs mom sucks, even though I said that it doesn’t. Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, it’s bigger than I am, and bigger than this home is.

It also means that at the age of 40, I gave birth to the most amazing person in my life. It means that I love him more than I love myself. It means that he is better than I am, in every way and all of the ways.

It means that he’s important. Even though sometimes, he’s hard.

Tradition can mean disappointment. Who hasn’t anticipated an amazing family gathering to leave it, feeling attacked, and sad, and unfulfilled?

Tradition can mean wonder. Delight. Magic. Because who hasn’t anticipated an amazing family gathering to leave it, feeling like “we should do this more often,” fulfilled, and at peace?

Having a baby at 40 who has special needs can mean disappointment. Who hasn’t looked at a routine or a remark, and felt attacked, misunderstood, and alone?

Who then, also, hasn’t looked at a tradition, or a validation, and felt wonder, in awe, and full of earned pride?

I am able to thank the universe for freezing cold snow angels made by a four-year-old.


I am grateful, and present, for snow, even when tearing my hair out because it’s day three of no school due to that snow.

Yup, that

Yup, that’s a snowball hurtling towards my face.

I have felt the frustration, the empathy, the worry, the doubt, the pride, and the love. The wonder. Traditionally, and non-traditionally.

Both of them, both of the times.

Or something that’s close enough.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence is “We are both traditional, and non-traditional. I…” Today’s sentence was brought to you by Jean, of Mama Schmama. Her extra cool prize is that tonight, she’s a co-host, too! Go show her some love!

Finish the Sentence Friday
Janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kate: Can I get another bottle of whine?
Stephanie: Mommy, for Real
me: finding ninee


  • Janine Huldie - I seriously hate the cold and the snow, but when I see it through our kids’ eyes, it does make it a bit more tolerable and less annoying to me, because yes I love the warmth and the summer any day of the week over this, but still when I had a snowball thrown at me by Emma and she was laughing about yesterday couldn’t help, but smile and laugh with her. Love how you tackled this this week and truly made full of wonder tonight for sure now 🙂January 23, 2014 – 10:04 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The snowballs from our children do gain magic, somehow. Which is amazing and wonderful and right. I love that you laughed at it unexpectedly today. Me, too. I did NOT want to go out. I’m glad that I did.January 23, 2014 – 11:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Being your AMA bloggy soul-sister, I related to this post. I did NOT have an amnio, because I figured it was my last chance to be pregnant and I didn’t want to risk it. The anatomical ultrasound was the one where I couldn’t breathe until we got the good word. I loved how you talked about traditions being a letdown. It is really true. I also just loved that you embraced all of it in this post. We are all of these things and more. Right?January 23, 2014 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ah. I had an amnio and still feel guilty. STILL. yeah to traditions. The suck and they are awesome.January 23, 2014 – 11:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Pam - What a beautiful, thoughtful post. Yes, life is scary… sometimes I think that is what it means to be an adult.January 23, 2014 – 10:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Jean - I’m so grateful that we’re alive during a time where tradition and non-tradition are thought about more carefully than ever before. What is good tradition? What is bad tradition?


    Both of my children after their bath say “Wrap me like a baby and throw me on the bed!” I thought being thrown at bedtime was a tradition only in our family 🙂January 23, 2014 – 10:54 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAAHAH well I love that they say “wrap me like a baby” because that is more than awesome. Maybe this lasts until they are too big to throw on the bed? And maybe, we are more awesome for continuing to do so?January 23, 2014 – 11:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Ah, bedtime tradition. We’ve been doing a variation of the same routine for 15 years. Sometimes it drives me crazy because, well, she’s 15. But then I remind myself that she’s 15 and still wants me to lay with her every night. So we carry on the tradition.January 23, 2014 – 11:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Awww!!! She still lets you do bedtime? That’s awesome. I complain, but I will miss this. I will miss this a lot. I love that she still wants you each night. Take it. For as long as she lets you!January 24, 2014 – 12:43 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I actually have quite a few friends who had babies at 40! I certainly think you all could have done without the gawking med students.
    We have bedtime traditions too. Scarlet and Cassidy even have one in which she has convinced him that he needs to fall asleep with her while watching Doc McStuffins.January 23, 2014 – 11:55 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHA to Doc McStuffins and Scarlet convincing Cassidy that she needs to fall asleep to it. Love that. Doc McStuffins is what got Tucker to realize that doctors don’t suck, so I pretty much love her. And yeah, having babies at 40? We so could have done without the med students.January 24, 2014 – 1:37 amReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - I love those pictures. That one of the thrown snowball is awesome. It’s interesting how traditions can turn into expectations. Something you wrote made me think of that. Something becomes a tradition and we look forward to it, but then if we can’t do it we’re let down. Hmm. January 24, 2014 – 5:32 amReplyCancel

  • The Dose of Reality - Beautiful and meaningful post as usual! I am always so excited when I see I have a new Finding Ninee post in my feed! And that snowball throwing picture….it is the best thing EVER!!! Well done!! –LisaJanuary 24, 2014 – 7:57 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Awww, I love when I feel myself entering your inbox, too. It’s a good good feeling. 😉January 24, 2014 – 11:53 pmReplyCancel

  • karen - what a beautiful post…the traditions we create within our own family…just to stop and look at them…wow!January 24, 2014 – 8:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Agree! Big agree. Traditions become more important to us once we’re parents and have our own families.January 24, 2014 – 11:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Right before (or maybe after?) I had my first child, I remember my mother-in-law telling me that she thought traditions were an important part of raising a family. At first I thought she was referring to Christmas and was trying to convert me, the Jew. But then I realized she meant routines and celebrations that repeat every year or month or day. I’ve tried to instill traditions into our family — whether it’s traveling to Cape Cod every summer, or hanging the same birthday banner in the kitchen each time someone in the family has a birthday. I do think kids thrive on traditions, whether non-traditional or not. (I’m not sure that last sentence made sense, but you know what I mean).January 24, 2014 – 9:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily, isn’t it weird and icky and also amazing to look back at our MIL’s advice? Mine’s was quite horrible but given with love, so there’s that…I think that the travels and the birthday banners are what matters. Tucker is only 4 and we go to the Outer Banks every summer. It’s tradition and it means something. I agree and yes, your last sentence totally made sense.January 24, 2014 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

  • donofalltrades - I love the bedtime routine, momma!

    I always tell myself that I want to be more involved with putting the kids to bed, but that’s all upstairs and it seems like a lot of work to get there so I mostly stay downstairs and half-assed clean the kitchen while momma puts the little ones to bed. They do run down and give me smooches though, so that’s something I look forward to.

    Being a parent sucks at times for everybody, special needs kids or not. If it doesn’t, then you’re not doing it right.January 24, 2014 – 9:51 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Well I guess all of us have our bedtime routines, and if you are a douche or whatever, for yours, you’re actually not as the best part of goodnights I love yous are kisses and the routine? That’s the stuff that matters. I’d venture to guess that you’re doing it perfectly right and thank you for being consistently awesome.January 25, 2014 – 12:10 amReplyCancel

  • Teresa Danner Kander - What a beautiful post. It honestly brought tears to my eyes! Your family is truly blessed, traditional or not. 🙂January 24, 2014 – 10:11 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly McKenzie - Out of the park with this post yet again.
    Bedtime traditions are key. Having said that I must apologise yet again to the poor vet who suggested I take the time and find the joy in brushing my dog’s teeth every single night. I’m sorry I barked with laughter and spat out “NOT HAPPENING!” in such an unladylike way.
    Add another tradition to the bedtime routine? Was she crazy?January 24, 2014 – 11:16 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kelly, you are awesome. And OMG the vet? What an asstard!!! Seriously!! HAAHHA I cannot believe that anybody would think that you’d get joy from brushing your dog’s stinky teeth!!! My vet told me to brush our dog’s teeth too, and so we started and it sucked. I still had to pay $500 plus for the next cleaning because my dog hated it and who am I to limit our time together???
      So yes, she was crazy.January 25, 2014 – 12:14 amReplyCancel

  • K - Aww…I loved reading about your sweet bedtime traditions with Tucker! And the snowball picture is awesome…I’d imagine it takes quite a bit of talent to snap a photo as a snowball hurtles towards your face! 😉January 24, 2014 – 12:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - K,
      If I’d have known, I’d likely have dropped the camera! And thank you.January 25, 2014 – 12:15 amReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - Bedtime traditions. They have changed but have never left this house. Everyone still wants Mom to tuck in at night. Sometimes there’s talks, sometimes not. They read their own books or listen to their music now but there are always hugs and I love yous. Always. I think what we all have our own view of traditional and non. And that’s what makes your very own traditional special.January 24, 2014 – 1:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandy, really??? OMG I so hope that I can still do bedtime routine with Tucker, then. I love that yours still let you. Much.January 25, 2014 – 12:16 amReplyCancel

  • That Girl Ryan - Please come to my house and put my kid to sleep…I’m jealous of your traditional bed-time routine.

    Love the pictures, love the post and love that you were blessed with your son even at an old age (whoops I meant non-traditional age)

    LOL Good stuff as always. 🙂January 24, 2014 – 1:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Address please. As in never mind. We are forced to do the routine as my kid in on the ASD spectrum, and he’s freaking nazzi about it.
      Whooot to the “non-traditional” age, young asshole, I mean sweet you thing.January 25, 2014 – 12:18 amReplyCancel

  • Laura - Don’t worry, there are days that being a non-special needs mom sucks too. I promise! Kids are kids and I think you’re a fantastic mom!January 24, 2014 – 1:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Agree. There are days when being a human sucks. A mom. A special needs mom. thank you for the reminder!January 25, 2014 – 12:19 amReplyCancel

  • Echo - Traditions are absolutely bred from routine.

    Traditions/Routines can be great! I love the fact the my husband and I have our own versions of routines and traditions to suit our family.January 24, 2014 – 1:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - Before I say something nice about the awesome overall message of this post, let me just say this, “incompetent oldass cervix” may be the funniest thing I have ever heard. For real.

    But really, there is so much wisdom, honesty, and perspective here about your traditional and non-traditional life as a mom. And if you tell me that you wrote it in like ten minutes before FTSF was live, I’m going to kick you. You probably did- some of your most inspired work is totally off-the-cuff. You kick ass like that.January 24, 2014 – 3:25 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HA well call it like we see it, I guess, huh? Because she IS. Oldass. Incompetent. And shit. So I won’t tell you I wrote it in 10 minutes because I didn’t and I was still editing while Kate was commenting…sigh. I must be better about this crap.January 25, 2014 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa Forever Five Blog - Just in case you are beating yourself up over having a kid at 40, Kristi, I am going to tell you something I know about that. I live in a place where in one neighborhood, kids are born to mothers under the age of 20 and then in my neck of the woods, kids are born to mothers who are 39, 40, 41, 42 and UP. I still can’t get over the fact that I was already graying when my first baby was born!;) Maybe the culture of your city has somehow led you to feel like you were selfish in having a child later on in age? Maybe not. But, just in case I think you are a BADASS for having Tucker. I definitely envy the labor and delivery of those 16-22 year old girls, but I have intense sympathy for the price their kids will pay for being born to children. Tucker was born to a fully developed Mama who is managing the challenges and unknowns that come with childrearing and special needs. You go with your 40-something self and all the love you have learned in your lifetime:). XOJanuary 24, 2014 – 8:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Lisa,
      OF COURSE I’m beating myself over the head at the 40yo baby but I’m also not stupid enough to not realize that doing so gave me THIS KID and that this kid kicks ass awesome. And yeah, seeing the young moms is horrible and icky and I’ve been mistaken for grandma at times (more than once). Thank you. Thank you for saying that Tucker was born where he was supposed to have been. That helps. More than a lot, and more than I can say…
      xo xo back at you.January 25, 2014 – 12:27 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Beautiful as always Kristi! I love the bedtime tradition and the way you showed how life takes non-traditional turns. Love those snow pictures, too! We and a crazy school schedule this week partly due to the weather and I am actually ready for a very traditional five day week next week!January 24, 2014 – 8:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa, thank you!!! OMG the crazy schedule this week was mind-blowing and horrifying!!! And I’m jealous of your week next week. We have teacher work days on thurs and fri. OMG. We really do. Just typing that makes me worry….January 25, 2014 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • April - This is beautiful. Having that tradition will become a great memory for him and you. And loving him is the best tradition you can have!January 24, 2014 – 9:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Elena - Hi Kristi!

    I don’t know if remember me from this summer…you were and still are my inspiration.. We have gone through so much and still no answers. Although Eli has made some progress we are still anxiously waiting… He was evaluated this summer but doctor’s didn’t see autisim however I sense that something is not right. Eli can now put a few words together but is still behind when compares to other children in his age group. I ask myself the same question every night… Will my son be o.k in the futurwJanuary 24, 2014 – 9:39 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Elena,
      OF COURSE I remember you and have been curious as to Eli’s progress and diagnosis and all of the rest of it. We’re not really any further ahead than you are when it comes to knowing whether there’s a diagnosis of autism (Tucker’s Dev Ped said that he’s got spectrum stuff for sure but he’s also highly socially motivated). Please call me if you’d like to talk more. I’d love to hear more about Eli’s progress. I think mostly, that we are all still waiting to know, to know how they will do, and how they will be… which sucks but also has magical moments, and love. I sometimes hate the future. For the not knowing part.January 25, 2014 – 12:07 amReplyCancel

  • Terrye Toombs - Not everyone can be a mommy to a special needs kid. I’d like to think we were given that task because a higher power saw something in us that needed to be polished. I have yet to meet a special mommy that, even while feeling overwhelmed and wondering if it’ll ever get better, didn’t rise to the occasion and mommy on.January 24, 2014 – 10:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Kristi life sure is unfair but what is amazing that you discovered that you are a trooper and will fight it to the finish.

    I got struck with bad arthritis when I had my kid. Imagine an infant in the crib and swollen fingers and joints. Could just coo from the pain and carry on!

    Those pix are adorable and yes that snow angel is special.
    love and light!January 24, 2014 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - Sweet! Tucker is the luckiest young boy on earth.January 25, 2014 – 1:53 amReplyCancel

  • Jen Lauren Schneider Kehl - You are an amazing mom. So amazing. I won’t play with Isaiah in the snow. I pay a sitter to do that. Well I used to paly a sitter for that. Everything you wrote is so write on. I think we are blessed to have these kids that make us see the world through brand new eyes!January 25, 2014 – 3:11 amReplyCancel

  • [email protected] Menopausal Mother - Love this! I was 35 when I was pregnant with my youngest–and they told me I was “old”. Had to have the amnio after my AFP numbers came out weird–which scared the hell out of me because I had a fiend who lost a baby after the procedure. I love your attitude, Kristi. You have been through so much and yet you always find the positive side. That’s just one of the MANY things I love about you!January 25, 2014 – 6:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Marcia,
      I love all the stuff about you, too. And UGH to 35 being old! Only stupid young people think that right? I mean, I thought 35 was old once, too. But whatever to that!!January 25, 2014 – 11:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Clark Scottroger - niceJanuary 25, 2014 – 7:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Mike - Kristi, I read this twice. It was that moving to me. Wow, what a blessing you are. 26 weeks bed rest? But, the most amazing blessing out of this is for Tucker. You and your husband are god-sends and thank you for what you bring to that little boy 🙂January 25, 2014 – 8:29 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Mike! Thank you. I wouldn’t say that we’re god-sends to him but we’re most definitely very very lucky to have made the best boy ever. Frustrating and annoying at times, for sure. But pretty much perfect, too. Thanks for the visit!January 25, 2014 – 11:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Beautiful, Kristi. And as always so well put, with such clarity. And so relatable. The duality of being a parent, I think, is relatable to special and non-special needs parents alike. Having such contradictory feelings often in a span of one minute often makes me feel like a non-traditional parent, like I’m doing this parenting thing wrong. It’s reading posts like this that reassures me. LOVE.January 25, 2014 – 10:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Katia, I agree that the span of feelings over parenting can be reeling, feel traditional, and like we’re doing it completely wrong and that we’re doing it better than ever all of the time. Often, in a five-minute time-frame.
      XO you’re doing it all right, by the way.January 25, 2014 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - I always love reading your posts…. they always always take us into your life and into your heart in and through every last word.

    Love everything about this, and about you.January 25, 2014 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Chris, stop or you will make me cry.
      And I love you back and all that other good stuff. And thank you. 😉January 25, 2014 – 11:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - Oh the old vagina…you’re killing me and making me smile and full all at once.
    You’re lucky to have such a wonderful babe in your life. We all have challenges, yes others have it more, but there are blessings in it. Your boy is a huge one.
    I’ll send you more snow.
    Love CanadaJanuary 26, 2014 – 5:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHAH Kimberly it IS an old vagina. Sad. And yeah, I’m way lucky. Do NOT send more snow, ass. I mean I love you but you’re an ass if you send more snow.January 27, 2014 – 11:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Nina - You have a way with words Kristi! I loved reading this post. You show both the ups and the downs of raising a special needs child, the fears, the leaving the family parties, all of it. So well said.January 27, 2014 – 10:30 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Awww thanks, Nina. That’s big from you and I appreciate it. Ugh to the family parties. Except for when it’s surprisingly not ugh.January 27, 2014 – 11:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - You are right on throughout this post. And BTW, traditions (or in our house schedule) was so important for my kids as well as my sanity. I loved them. And I agree with Nina above, you do have a way with words.January 27, 2014 – 6:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - I’m always in awe with how I can be reading a serious post from you and then I find myself laughing out loud. Too funny that Tucker was throwing a snowball at you right when you were taking that picture! LOL! I was also laughing when you were talking about you own 40 year old cervix lol. I’m so happy that you had him. I know it has made you so much more of who you are today. Tradition and non-tradition is weird like the way you explained it…complicated. 🙂January 29, 2014 – 12:55 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You’re so right, Brittnei, with the cool spelled name, about how tradition is weird, and our NON-traditional things become our own traditions. And glad you liked the snowball picture and my old icky cervix line!February 1, 2014 – 10:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Junior - Thanks so much for the daily updates. If we reelid only on what the national news outlets reported we would think all beaches are covered with oil. This really shows us what the conditions are really like. My family cannot wait to get there.Charlotte CampbellAugust 28, 2014 – 2:01 pmReplyCancel

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