Sometimes what’s happening in our lives can take over our thoughts, our actions, our precious free time. It can consume us and put our Mommy Brains into overdrive. This week Erin’s obsessing about knee surgery and Kristin’s received some new information about her son’s learning style. Then we talk about the latest parenting controversies: do working moms make for fat kids and should teachers give grades to parents?

Links: Go Red for Women | ACL reconstruction story | The Social Network | The King’s Speech | WBUR Are the Kids Alright | An Introduction to Dyslexia for Parents and Professionals | Famous People with Dyslexia | Are Working Moms to Blame for Childhood Obesity | Florida Lawmaker Wants Teachers to Grade Parents

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22 Responses to Podcast: Mommy Brain Hangover

  1. Yolanda says:

    Hey Kristin,
    Thanks so much for opening up about Anders. I’m guessing that it may be difficult to be so open about your kids. You’re probably overwhelmed with a lot of info… so I’m going to overwhelm you a little more.. ha! :) Actually it’s a website called Free Spirit Publishing ( and I’ve found a lot of helpful books & information on their website. I hope you check it out. Thinking of you! Yolanda

  2. Kris says:

    Hi Kristin,

    I’m so glad that you have shared what’s going on with Anders, and I want to give you a big cyber-hug. I used to be a teacher, and now I am a college prof/mommy of 3 (one with special needs). There is so much I want to say, but I’ll try to keep it short :)

    1. YAY for explaining this to Anders. I had so many students who thought they were in special ed/resource because they’re “dumb”. So often, no one had ever explained to them what a learning disability is. How well Anders does will be directly related to what he thinks about himself, and whether he thinks he can do it, so remember to praise him for all the skills he has (even as you’re working on those he doesn’t)

    2. I had been to dozens of IEPs before I had kids, and I still found the process frustrating – and the rules ridiculous and confusing. When you finish reading all your dylexia books, you might want to pick up something from Peter and Pam Wright ( has good resources, but I recommend their books “from emotions to advocacy” or “all about IEPs” which you can get through their site, or any bookseller)

    3. Keep the whole executive functioning thing on your radar. The reading may be causing the most stress now, but exec functioning problems will drive both you and his teachers insane as he gets older if you don’t find some good strategies to teach him these skills. It’s a big part of what we work on with my daughter (she has Aspergers)

    Thank you both for talking so much about your struggles – you are giving a voice to so many of us with the same issues, and are also teaching those who don’t, so maybe our kids will be a little better understood…

  3. Wanda says:

    Kristin- thank you for being so real and open. You boh are and it makes all of us who listen realize we are not alone.

    I am sure you have been swamped with information and advice on this topic, but I just had to chime in. A very good friend of mine struggled through school and high school was a huge challenge for him. He ended up going to Curry College in MA and they tested him for learning disabilities. Turned out he had dyslexia and something else I don’t recall. They put him through a series of courses that taught him how to work with it and he did great in college and has gone on to do amazing things I never would have imagined back in high school when I was helping him with homework and reports. I was so impressed with what they did for him. I don’t know if they have any programs for younger kids or not, but it may be worth checking into. Know there is hope for your little man. He’s lucky to have such a supportive mom!

  4. Meg D says:

    Hi Kristin –

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with Anders. There are so many parents out there that aren’t sure of the right steps to take because of the lack of support from the schools. Your story will help a lot of people.

    I did want to get down on you for getting down on yourself. I am ADD. I was diagnosed at 16. What I would have given to be diagnosed in 2nd grade. I spent that whole time staying in from recess to get work done, hours upon hours with tutors and staying indoors to study while my friends were outside playing. And often there wasn’t much improvement. That whole time I just thought I was stupid. I spent 16 years feeling that way.

    I was amazed at how different I felt after I started taking medication. I just couldn’t believe it. And I got really angry that after all of the tests the schools and my parents put me through that no one figured it out before 10th grade.

    I am 33 and I still have doubts about my intelligence. I logically know that I’m smart and just need a little help to make my brain work properly but it still lingers. If I had known at the age of 8, I could have saved myself and my parents a lot of heart ache.

    So be proud that you took the initiative. You are doing the right thing and you didn’t put your head in the sand hoping that one day Anders would magically be able to read perfectly. I commend you and Anders will be so thankful when he’s older that you were able to help him at such a young age.

  5. Wendy says:

    Dear Kristin and Erin,

    Thank you, thank you for your podcasts. I have a 9 year old daughter and have been enjoying over the years your chats in respect to the manic nature of working moms lives.

    However, this year my son entered Kindergarten and both your sons experiences have just started to become very real for our family. I have just written to his teacher to have our first conference next week about our concerns.

    I know you both are starting to become reluctant about sharing these experiences with your audience but you are truly helping us. Erin’s words about what she knows about her son and what she does daily for him is an inspiration. Please know I am so thankful your podcast is there for me.

    Your families are always in my thoughts and prayers.

    Thank you. Wendy

  6. KiranB says:

    Hi Kristin

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. My prayers are with you, Steve and Anders while you go through another challenge. I think Anders will master the extra phonics training very well. I love the way you tried to explain it to him. I hope I can explain as well to any challenges my son faces.

    BTW, one of my most favorite people in entertainment has dyslexia – Jay Leno.

    More famous people are Henry Ford, Richard Branson, William Hewlett, Charles Schwab, Thomas Jefferson, Nelson Rockefeller, and John F Kennedy.

    Take care.

  7. KrisM says:


    Thank you so much for your story about Anders and dyslexia. Your comment about how he will be dealing with this his whole life is oh-so accurate. I am married to a wonderful, brilliant man that is also learning disabled. His hard-working mother worked with him for years to help him learn how to work with his disability instead of against it and he was able to main-stream out of Special Ed in elementary school and has gone on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It is true that you will end up spending countless hours working with your son to help him conquer this problem, but in the end it will be manageable for him. Try to keep his love of learning and reading alive. My brother is dyslexic and didn’t get any additional help or mentoring, and although he is very successful in his chosen career field, he tends to not do any reading that is not required and so has somewhat stifled his adult learning and growth.

    I also wanted to express my appreciation for how you handled the situation with the testing. So many parents that I know DEMAND that the schools take total responsibility for anything that may be within the realm of education and learning, like learning disability testing and speech therapy. If you are concerned about your child and you are not getting the results that you think that your child needs from the school, it is your parental responsibility to find that help elsewhere, even if it costs money or has to be billed to insurance. I mean, really? Why are we parents if we are so willing to pawn off responsibility for our child’s welfare onto someone else? Especially in the busy, crowded, under-funded, under-staffed and under-paid world of education: the parent has to be the biggest, loudest advocate for their child and has to be willing to find solutions outside of a system that is strained and breaking.

    Good job on the show. Keep up the good work.


  8. Kristin P says:

    OMG Kristin, this episode is exactly why I listen to your podcast. Thank you for sharing this story with us. As I was listening to you talk about Anders, I felt like you could be talking about my daughter. She also repeated kindergarten, and now that we are half way through 1st grade, she still continues to struggle with reading and writing. Dyslexia was never something that crossed my mind (apparently the school never thought of it either), but it’s definitely something I’m going to look into now.

    Thanks again to both of you for always keeping it real!!!

  9. Tracy Ingebrigtsen says:


    I believe I wrote you that letter a couple of years ago. I too have cried during this process. We are three years deep into dyslexia and my daughter is in the 4th grade. She is doing GREAT!!! The key to our success was finding a tutor for her dyslexia. Check out, you can find a tutor through the website. Best investment we have ever made. Schools in California will not acknowledge dyslexia because you cannot fix it, we cannot even get an IEP etc (is not failing, too smart).

    Things that help in our house.
    1) Meet with the teacher before school starts or at the beginning of each year. We lay out that she has dyslexia and ask for certain easy accomodations.
    2)We ask for more time on written assignments. I will also type some for her (she will learn typing this summer). I type in all errors that she makes and have her correct.
    3) I will read to her some text book material. Recording for the Blind and dyslexia has most books and some school text books on tape. We have not explored this much yet because the download is not great. They are coming out with an ipod app soon!
    4) Finally, many people have dyslexia. This is not a death sentence I think it is an opportunity. We do not hide it, it is a fact. Every kid in my child’s 4th grade class knows she has dyslexia. She is not ashamed of it, in some cases I think she is proud of it. Your kid probably thinks about things in a completely different way from others. This is why there are so many great dyslexics.

    Please keep talking about this. I too am continually amazed that “reading specialist” and school “reading coordinators” have no clue about dyslexia.

    Good luck!!

  10. GInger S. says:

    Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts will us! Your conversations so often resinate with my life, especially today when you were sharing your guilty feelings about wanting to help your kids with homework and seeing them struggling, feeling as if you have done something wrong or not done enough. I have a 1st grader who is very smart but struggles with her confidence in her reading. Thank you for supporting each other on this issue because your support translates to comforting your listeners going through the same experiences. We are moms, not super heros! As far an the FL government wanting to grade parents; how about us grading teachers? WE all do the best we can and supporting each oother is the answer, not grading and judging everyone! Thank you!

  11. Angela says:

    Kristin and Erin,
    Thank you for opening up and sharing with all of us. I know it can’t always be easy. However, your willingness to share and make us laugh makes motherhood much easier for me knowing I am not alone.

    Kristin–I know that Anders recent diagnosis isn’t what any parent wants to hear. But, he is happy and healthy and like Albert Einstein and others, he will learn to manage dyslexia and thrive. It will be okay.

    Erin–I had to laugh about your comment about how your boys dress for school. My 32 year old brother use to wear sweat pants every day to school. He had one in every color and that was just how he dressed. Now, you wouldn’t catch him dead in sweat pants. Instead it would be suits and ties etc. So, there is hope for your boys. My mother just let him wear sweats knowing that he would change him mind one day.

    Thanks again! I look forward to your podcast and blogs.


  12. Kim says:

    So, I just had to comment and say The Social Network is an amazing movie. Probably the best I have seen since The Hangover. I loved it and cannot say enough. Go and watch this movie. It is for everyone.
    The King’s speech…I have been hearing that it is good.

  13. Leslie says:

    Hi! I am fairly new listener to your podcast and just want to say I LOVE you ladies! I listen to you on my drive home from work everyday and it’s so great to have that to look forward to. I am a mom with 1.5 and 3 year old, currently working full-time but on freelance basis (which honestly I can’t wait until this gig is done!). Some of the stuff you discuss I can really connect with, such as work/home balance as I am always struggling with that. And, through your podcast I discovered Blissdom (awesome beautiful site) and I learned a thing or 2 about Kinect :)

    I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about the trade-off between flexibility at work versus having stimulating work. Something I can certainly relate to. Perhaps you saw it too.. and I would love to have this addressed in future podcast perhaps? :)

    Anyway, Erin good luck with your knee and ACL stuff. You’re a trooper! Kristin, count your blessings with Anders- he’ll be just fine. There are much much worse things to contend with. I am so grateful everyday for my 2 healthy kids, and knock on wood they stay healthy.

    Love ya,
    Ferndale, MI

  14. Sara says:

    I, too, have a dyslexic 4th grade boy.

    My post would be EXACTLY the same at Tracy’s above. We live in California and have been told by our public school ‘reading specialist’ that “dyslexia is just a catch-all”. Huh?????

    I too am amazed at the lack of awareness in our schools. But, as I have found out, all states are different. The support that my sister gets in her public schools is amazing (Kansas). In Texas they have a specific handbook for identifying dyslexia at an early age.

    I could go on and on, but in the end you just have to know your child and try to do what is best for them. I have realized that public school might not be the best place for my son (gasp).

    Good luck!


  15. Ela says:

    Just like every challenge and every kid, this one is on a scale. You’re sad now, but think of all the study skills and strategies he will learn — instead of lazing about like some smart kids (know them, was one). My husband and I are both college professors. He went through the whole “leave class for reading specialist time” experience for dyslexia in elementary school. Now, he’s a Japanese linguist. I like to tease him and tell him it all worked out, since he has to read Japanese backwards! Still, I am sorry that Anders, who sounds so sweet and sincere, will face any struggle.

  16. shelly says:

    Kristin- I read this article today and thought of Anders. Looks like they are getting closer to figuring this out…

  17. Erica Ziebarth says:

    Kristin – thank you so much for sharing, I am in the exact same spot. The report is due back Friday on my wonderful second grade daughter, they told us her high context intelligence was off the charts, but she can’t decode words. I am dyslexic and very torn about her diagnosis and what the next steps are. To top this off our kindergartener also went through testing and most likely is going to come back with ADHD.
    I totally feel the momma bear claws coming out. Thanks for making me feel slightly less alone in t he process.

  18. Stacey says:

    Thank you both for your podcasts, they make my commute to work more enjoyable. Kristin: I am also going through the same thing with my 2nd grade daughter. I am in CA and her school immediately dismissed the possibility of dyslexia even though I had a private evaluation done that stated dyslexia. We have begun our uphill battle trying to get her help at school. They only want to focus on her fidgeting and lack of focus in class and said I should have her checked for ADHD. I know it is a very frustrating and overwhelming place for you to be. I have two suggestions for you
    Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz
    I have learned that I must be her advocate and teach her how to be her own since like you said it is something that is not going to go away. I am learning through my compulsive reading of every book on the topic that both ADHD & Dyslexia have some positive hidden gifts.
    Please continue to share both of your personal stories!

  19. Karen says:

    Kristin (and Erin) – My heart goes out to you, Kristin, having stood in your shoes years ago. My daughter’s diagnosis (all of them) nearly match all of Anders. We waited until 3rd grade, where she spent the year sobbing over homework and saying she wasn’t smart enough for 3rd grade, could she go back to 2nd. It was the worst school year of our lives. Fast forward through a short time of meds, IEP in elementary school and three FABULOUS years at a middle school that has a specialized curriculum for LD kids and she’s ready to go back to the public school system for HS. She feels great about her learning (she, too, is really smart, super verbal, off the charts in comprehension and vocab, just struggles with output and reading and math). I know you are grieving the kid you thought you had but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Suggestions: Encourage Anders to participate in extracurricular things that he can excel in, to allow him to feel his strengths. Kids like ours work SUPER hard at just being in school, harder than their peers, and they need more of a break (physically active is best) as well as modified (or no, yes no) homework. Read the books of Dr. Mel Levine to help you understand more about the challenges and rewards of our kids. Teach him to advocate for his unique needs – he will do best if he can learn ways of asking for what he needs (listening and reading at the same time, for example.) Use audiobooks along with the text so he starts to associate the correct sound with the image on the page. It will take longer with Anders than other kids but he will get it. My daughter did. Be sure the books he’s given are engaging to him as well as at the right reading level. Keep that joy of books, even if you are reading along with him.

    OK, enough suggestions – just know that my daughter is happy, proud of all her A’s and with a bright future – just like Anders has!

  20. Leta says:

    I echo the thanks given above for your willingness to be open. What struck a chord with me is the ‘mommy instinct’ that you advocate. My first grade son, who has needed speech therapy the past two years (that i had to FIGHT for) is just not doing well with literacy. I am told he is improving but I just think something more is going on. So after hearing your story, I immediately emailed the teacher to set up a meeting. Thank you for the push forward! I hope for the best for you and your son!

  21. Karen says:

    Kristin Thanks for this podcast. My gut as a parent and elementary school teacher tells me my almost 7 year old is dealing with Dyslexia too. The more I read the more I realize I also might be dealing with it. I was wondering how you found a testing specialist in your area? Were there any books that you found particularly helpful when learning about the condition?

    thanks and good luck

  22. Kaulana says:

    Hey Kristin,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us about your son. I wanted to share two amazingly wonderful resources I’ve found on dyslexia…

    The first is the Susan Barton reading program, she’s really awesome:

    And also, some info on how changing the color of the paper or using color tinted glasses helps those with dyslexia: