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A Thursday in the Life of Carissa Laitinen-Kniss

Carissa Laitinen-Kniss works for the Argyle Independent School District as the special-education life-skills teacher and owns Twisted Bodies, a Pilates and yoga studio in Denton. Carissa has been married to Justin Kniss, a planogram specialist for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, for 11 years. They live in Argyle with their children Gavin, 9, and Caleb, 4, and three fur babies: Leila, Tonka and Pikka.

5AM Wah! I roll over and give Justin a nudge to get up, then debate leaving the warmth of our bed. The decision is usually made pretty quickly once Leila lays a stinky good-morning kiss on my face. Out of bed and on with the day.

6AM I drag Gavin out of bed by his feet. He’s a heavy sleeper. I get him motivated and moving, give the hubs a smooch goodbye and jump in the shower.

6:30AM Out of the shower. It’s time to 
check emails and messages, crank up the 
tunes (usually the Black Keys) and toss on some clothes.

6:45AM I check to make sure Gavin is making progress on getting ready and rotate dogs outside for potty time. I wake up the little bread nugget Caleb and get him dressed.

7AM Breakfast. I debate how much of a battle I want to endure over breakfast choices, then thank God that we at least have food to eat and the kids are healthy. Cereal every day can’t hurt, and pizza hits a majority of food groups, right? I drink my coffee and blow-dry my hair.

7:15AM I toss on a little mascara and my sneakers, and check to see if boys are waiting on the stairs. (They are — backpacks on, lunches in and everything.) I double-check 
the young enamel to ensure minty-fresh breath and kennel the dogs inside. Out the door we go.

7:30AM I endure the never-ending car line drop-off. After a subtle goodbye (9-year-olds are too cool to kiss Mom anymore) and an enthusiastic hug (4-year-olds make up for it; they don’t care about cool), they go off to gain knowledge and understanding from some of the best teachers we know.

7:45AM I arrive at Argyle High School and greet some awesome kids and faculty on the way to my room to see what adventures await my staff and me today.

8:15AM My students arrive, and we begin to rock out our day with a little calendar time and music therapy.

11:30AM I start lunch for my students, make sure my staff gets nourishment and answer 
any emails that have come through. I check 
to see what meetings and admission, review and dismissal (ARD) appointments I have coming up, and who is coming for extended services today.

12:40PM The students and staff go to PE. I complete as much special-education paperwork as possible, review individual education program (IEP) notes and decide how to raise more funds for the sensory room we are trying to build. When I hear giggles down the hall, I realize my hour is up.

1:40PM The students return. They work through any physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy they may have, and then I take them to school jobs. 

3PM A couple of students head to meet their transportation home; the remaining students work on computer skills and assisted technology. I cover grades 5–12 plus at Argyle, so some of my younger students leave earlier.

3:40PM I take remaining students to bus or car line to go home. Then I run to meet my kiddos. They are bused to the high school (luxury of working at a smaller school district). I listen to them tell me about their day. Gavin gives me one good story, and then it’s back to preteen land (sports, video games and friends). Caleb gives me a wildly imaginative recount of pre-K. I choose to enjoy his version rather than reality; at least he has fun.

4PM I hustle kids out to the car and rush home. 

4:15PM I let the dogs out and review homework, chores and any other important information at the kitchen table.

4:30PM The husband arrives, and we tag-team the evening agenda. Justin starts dinner since I am rushing out quickly.

5PM I arrive at Twisted Bodies and get energized to start my second career. Caleb hangs in my office and entertains himself with my business partner’s girls. I train my first client of the evening and keep it rocking.

6PM Group classes start. I answer client questions, help them smile and feel good, and let them forget about their day.

9PM I hug my kiddo and say “hello” to my crazy awesome business partner. She’s been there the whole time. But it’s back-to-back crazy, so it’s the first real hello. We have a quick meeting, clean up, lock up and head home.

9:30PM I tuck the kids into bed, read a story and tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them. 

10PM I finish any household duties left undone — laundry, pick up, etc. — give the dogs a snuggle and then lay down to watch a show with the hubby.

10:15PM The hubster and I catch up. We laugh and joke about the crazy things our kids said and did, and discuss the rest of our week and how we will relax together on my few hours off on the weekend. Justin goes lights out. I have more work to do.

11:30PM My business meetings over text message with Khristen, my business partner, begin. We discuss new class offerings, schedules and goals. We discuss who needs to shuffle whose kids to help out, how we are going to take the families on another adventure camping and what we need to do to raise more funds for Susan G. Komen North Texas. This goes on for a long time, until we both fall asleep mid-text. 

5AM Wah! It starts again.

Diaries are penned by moms (and dads) in the North Texas area. The authors volunteer to share a day of their choosing and are not paid or endorsed by NorthTexasChild. Send your diary to editorial@dfwchild.com. All submissions are subject to editing and may be cut for space.