We are the Borrelli Family! We became official in 2011 when I married my favorite person I ever met: John Borrelli! We spent the next several years wrangling and producing these beautiful creatures: Isabella, Jack, and Bettie Grace. Things went quite unexpectedly, and we lost John in 2016. That has been a heartbreak I have been nearly unable to bear, I would not get by without the support of our families. While figuring out how to move forward without my partner, I have continued the work I’ve done since John and I got together: photography for Texans in love. I mainly shoot weddings … but other important life moments as well … you can see all that at www.kittysanchez.com
My most important work, of course, is these three…
So, from oldest to youngest, we have Miss Isabella – born in 2007. Then there’s Jack – born in 2012. And our baby Bettie Grace – born in 2015.
Isabella loves reading and dancing. She is incredibly observant- she can draw any cartoon character she has watched and remembers lines to songs and every detail of a story. She never met a dog – or almost any animal- she didn’t like. I love her confidence – she loves any activity that involves spending time with friends. So far this has meant school is always fun because that’s where the PEOPLE are!
Jack is my second born. My only son! He was born in 2012- a week past his due date, an induction turned emergency c-section! John loved to recall the first moment he saw Jack’s face and said he couldn’t believe how much he recognized his eyes in his son from the first look. He was right, Jack does have his sparkling eyes. Jack is a charmer. He has some remarkable talents for a boy of five: he whips 200 piece jigsaw puzzles together with ease and could spell at age 3. He LOVES letters and numbers and music and will memorize your iphone lock code by watching you open it once. (Jack is on the Autism Spectrum … I wrote a little more about that below…)
Bettie Grace “Bluebonnet” is our sweet youngest child. She arrived three weeks early in September of 2015 – not only a VBAC – but she came too fast for any of the anesthesia I had enjoyed from the previous two deliveries! And the excitement has only continued! She is spunky and smart; John used to say she was “magic”. Just a delightful little spirit.
More about Jack…
When Jack was two, our pediatrician had some concerns about Jack’s delayed speech. Early Childhood Intervention sent a team to evaluate Jack for state-funded therapy. He qualified based on several delays. I was gutted to be told my sweet boy was anything but perfect.
We accepted the resources offered by ECI; Jack developed a remarkable report with his speech therapist Shannon. (While the aim of ECI was to address the child’s specific needs and not diagnose the cause of their disability, the therapists offered their personal experience with children on the autism spectrum and encouraged me to research it after spending time observing Jack.)
It was strange; when we first heard the term autism around our son, we balked. I hated the idea of him being formally diagnosed as “on the spectrum”. Receiving a label. Having something written down by a person qualified to write things that couldn’t be unwritten. Our therapist Shannon reminded me the focus should always be on Jack’s needs; we could see his developmental deficits and address them. If we reached a point where a formal diagnosis would benefit Jack, then I should seek it. If there was a therapy I wanted to try that only accepted children with a diagnosis, I would have a reason.
Jack aged out of ECI’s in-home therapy. We tried briefly to enroll him in pre-school; the teachers and head of school encouraged us to seek more intervention for Jack. They loved him and he continued in his pre-school class while we looked for more options. It took from October 2015 to April 2016 to apply for entry into the Early Education System, complete several rounds of evaluations (part of which included a formal autism diagnosis), receive approval for services, and receive a campus assignment and complete enrollment. It was a long road and a long wait, but when Jack finally started school we were very proud of our progress and excited for Jack.
I’m guilty of failing to talk about Jack without talking about autism. Just as no one wants to be defined by a disability, illness, or any ONE aspect of their identity, Jack is his own person and being on the autism spectrum is part of it. However, the more I have learned about the “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, the more I have learned about my son and people in general. So I am passionate to talk about both!
Jack has a unique, sweet disposition. It doesn’t take long for him to win your heart, even though he doesn’t always act like his peers. Like many ASD kids, he doesn’t converse in a natural way (eye contact and easy back and forth)- but he is always listening and knows what’s going on. He also squeals and flaps his hands and squints his eyes when he’s excited or nervous. (That’s called stimming and it looks a lot stranger than what’s actually going on. It’s really not much different than the urge to bite your nails or tap your foot when restless. Basically it’s a comforting behavior -yes, even a shrill squeal- that helps them calm down when they feel overwhelmed.)
I wrote in more detail about our journey with Jack and autism in this post…. click here.