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A Day in the Life of Vanessa Avila

Vanessa Avila is the director of client reporting for McGowanGroup Asset Management, a financial services firm in Uptown. She and her husband, Micky, senior chemist for the city of Dallas, live in Lewisville with their 4-year-old son Nathan, who has autism, and their 1-year-old diva in training, Joslyn. 

6:20AM Our daughter starts to whine through the baby monitor. My husband leans over and sighs. She is sitting up. He gets out of bed to go lie with her so I can get a little more rest.
7:10AM I hear my son’s sweet babbling through the baby monitor. I pick it up and see him burying himself in his pillows. 
7:20AM By the time I’ve washed up, my husband has already taken our son potty and has Mickey Mouse going in the playroom. I hand my son his cup of milk and smother him with kisses. My daughter crawls to me; I pick her up and smother her with kisses too.
7:30AM We drink our coffee while getting a breakfast snack going, and the kids play. 
8:30AM After breakfast, it’s a crazy rush to get the kids dressed and out of the house for swim.
9:25AM We arrive at Emler for swim. Joslyn and Daddy are first. She loves the water. She is still unsure about going underwater, but is up to two seconds. I cheer her on while Nathan waits restlessly for his turn.
10AM Daddy starts drying and changing Joslyn while I take Nathan to his teacher for his turn. He excitedly gets in. He also loves the water. He has made so much progress since he started lessons last summer. He is swimming up to 14 feet and holding his breath for up to 10 Mississippis. (They are fast Mississippis, but he is still doing awesome.)
10:30AM Swim class is over and Nathan is tired, but he still has a huge smile on his face. We get him changed and head to IHOP.
10:50AM We get seated and order our usual: buttermilk pancakes with chocolate chips in the batter for Nathan, breakfast platters for my husband and me. We give bits of egg and toast to Joslyn. It’s been a good morning.
11:45AM After breakfast we head to Wal-Mart for our groceries. Ordering online and curbside pickup has seriously been a game-changer.
12PM We get the groceries unloaded and put away. Now it’s bathtime. We get them in the bath and all cleaned up and let them play. Joslyn starts splashing so Nathan starts splashing — which means bathtime is over!
12:15PM All dried off and dressed. It is time for Joslyn’s nap. I rock Joslyn to sleep, and, since she is a light sleeper, let her nap on me. I scroll through Facebook and play some word puzzles. My husband plays with Nathan and starts sorting laundry. 
1:45PM Joslyn wakes from her nap with this adorable “What just happened?” expression. We go to the living room to join Dad and brother. Time to get lunch going.
2PM We get lunch on the table and Nathan signs for his iPad and points to the counter where we leave it. He has mastered that sign. We give the iPad to him and he watches his videos and happily chows down. Joslyn starts lunchtime in her booster seat but after 15 minutes is screaming to get out. Daddy holds her while I finish, then we switch off.
3PM After lunch, it’s time for Nathan to give his iPad a break. Since the weather is yucky out, Play-Doh it is! We sing (horribly off-key, but he still likes it) and he uses his stencils to carve out the numbers 1–10 in Play-Doh, just like his YouTube videos. We work on things like reinforcing eye contact and responding to his name. Joslyn goes back and forth from our laps to playing with her toys in the living room.
4PM Snack time. We give Nathan his choice of snack. He signs for cookie so he gets a cookie. We spend the rest of the afternoon playing with the kids and doing laundry.
5:30PM We start heating up dinner. This is a practiced dance of one of us in the kitchen and the other “walking” Joslyn around the kitchen, and then trading off. We get seated and Nathan signs for his iPad. Dinnertime is a deja vu of lunchtime.
6:30PM My husband starts getting Joslyn ready for bedtime. I finish in the kitchen and sit with Nathan while he finishes eating. My sweet boy takes his time. A few minutes later, Dad and Joslyn rejoin us.
6:50PM Joslyn reaches over for me; she is ready for bed. I grab her milk and her blankie and head to her room to rock her to sleep.
7:30PM Even though Nathan already had a bath, we keep his evening routine the same as on a weekday. Dad gives Nathan a shower, brushes his teeth, gets him dressed for bed and gives him his milk with melatonin. I lay Joslyn down and then head to Nathan’s room to lie down with him until he falls asleep.
8PM Now that the kids are down, it’s husband-and-wife time. I pick up some stray toys off the floor so we can have a safe path to the kids’ bedrooms for any middle-of-the-night walks. We eat ice cream and then snuggle in bed to watch a couple of episodes of Narcos.
9:30PM We get washed up for bed. Today was a good day.