Night and Day

by Sarah on January 13, 2016

The other night Meredith got out of bed around 2 a.m. and walked across the hall. She pushed open our door and reached in to find the light switch. As soon as she found it she flipped the overhead lights on.

“Heeeeey!” both Jim and I shouted together. Before we could make sense of it, Meredith turned them off and went to her sister’s door and did the same thing.

“Hey, stop it! MER-E-DITH!,” her sister shouted. “What are you doing?”

Meredith disappeared back into her bedroom. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be angry. Jim called out and by the time he got to her door, she had burst into tears.

“Mere, what’s wrong? Are  you ok?” Jm said.

“I just thought it was morning, ” she said with extra emphasis on the “morning.”

As Jim tried to sort out the incident with her, my heart broke because the most predictable thing in her world – night and day – had become confused.

It’s not entirely surprising and actually plays right into a recent discussion I had with her teacher. While Meredith has always been aware of changes of in a 24-hour period, she is now wanting to know ahead of time what is coming next and whether it is coming on time.  It has become more and more apparent that despite her funny, literal, empathetic self, her maturing brain wants rigid predicability.

I took her to the office store to get a folder for her sister recently and she picked out a calendar completely on her own.  I thought it was interesting because she can’t read or write and other adults do much of her daytime planning,  but she wants her schedule, her comfort, her notebook that tells her exactly what comes next. No surprises, that’s my daughter.

Last night I asked her about the lights again and she said she got scared because she thought it was morning and she couldn’t hear anyone in the house. She thought we had left her alone. She had to turn on the lights, she said, to make sure we were there.

Meredith will remember that night as a scary moment and I will remember it as time when she needed light and found it.

Version 3


Sarah has written a book about her first 18 years years with Meredith. For more information on how to purchase the book, use the contact form on this website or email her at

You can also buy it at BookPeople. Go to

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Sarah Barnes launches “Meredith & Me”

by Sarah on January 8, 2016


Scenes from the release of “Meredith & Me,” at BookPeople on Dec. 11.

This just in: “Meredith & Me” was the No. 1 seller in non-fiction for the week of Dec. 13 at BookPeople.

I am  teary-eyed at that news because it’s not just an author’s dream to sell her book, it’s the thought that so many of you bought it because you believed I had a story to tell and something important to say about raising a daughter with disabilities. Thank you to all of you. We had more than 100 people show up and I am still pinching myself.

And my daughter? I have never seen Meredith walk so fast or smile so big when she joined me up front. She had the time of her life as you can see in the picture above. So did I.

Thank you Beth Bishop for the engaging photos. You captured so many wonderful faces – and shoes. Enjoy the pictures. If I missed your name on a photo, please let me know.




I’m an author!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Spike revealed she was a New Jersey debutante. Then she said fabulous things about me in her introduction.



Meredith (left)  chats with fans.



Debbie Ratcliffe and Maline and Dudley McCalla sit up front. Author Ruth Pennebaker on far right (in black)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mentor to all, author Spike Gillespie


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Author’s  mother (left), Adrienne Watt, husband (center), Jim Hemphill and friend (far right) Oliver Franklin


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith with good friend Grant


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Gwen, fellow advocate and awesome mother.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA High school friends, (l to r)  Bill, Sheryl and Tere


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Caroline brings a sister’s perspective.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Soon, more than 100 people


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Reading from “Meredith & Me”


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Spike and her favorite debutante






OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Caroline reflecting. To her left is Ami, who brought inclusion to gardening at Lamar M.S.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith and Emma (they met in first grade)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Introducing my family, Caroline and Jim


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Greeting Holly after more than 30 years


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Sent to the event by dear friend and  journalist Marnie Blennerhassett from Australia


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You can’t imagine the thrill


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With good friend Stephen Bates


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With sweet neighbors (l to r) Lehua, Elizabeth, Janee


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Greeting old Statesman pals Sharon Jayson and Ken Herman. Best question of the night from Herman: Who will play you in the movie? Jennifer Aniston. Accepting other answers.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith has questions. She still has questions.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Parents who know my different road


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pat, (right) a picnic table parent and friend at Gullett Elementary


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Thanks to all who waited for a signature, including one of my favorite couples, Debbie and R.G.Ratcliffe


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Neal Watt (left) and Uncle Jim Monnig (right)




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Good friend  Dallas Webster who taught Meredith not to be afraid of dogs, especially one named April.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Best computer teacher, Anne, (left) and librarian Kay, (right). Go Gullett Elementary!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith with good friend Chris.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Few know Meredith like her pediatrician, Dr. Paige Suffredini (green blouse). We love you, Paige!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Talking to friends before I talk at the podium.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Gil (right) leans in to get a signature. He taught Meredith to walk. There are just not enough words of thanks. Actually there is a whole chapter, but you know.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith’s high school friends including Sierra, Hannah and Chris.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Give them a raise! Meredith’s teacher Kim (right) and teacher assistant Eddie (left).


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (l to r) Jim Hemphill,  Pat Beach and Rob Bishop




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith’s friend Morgan (left) and disability rights advocate and teacher Tom (right).


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Signing with my trusted BookPeople guide, Michael McCarthy.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Sweet moment between Meredith and Julie.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Fellow author Ed Crowell (center) and Linda Crowell (left)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Three women who make Meredith’s world better.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Caroline (left) and good friend (right) Maggie Bishop. In back is UT Professor Nina Zuna.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Sarah greets Cheryl George and husband Jim, who knew Meredith when she was born.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Chris Purkiss (right) amazing teacher and dad.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A lighter moment during the Q&A.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My friend of more than 30 years, Tere O. She keeps me sane.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jim joins me up front.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meredith with Emma and her mom, Susan.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA “Meredith & Me” chat with friends.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Loved every minute of this with you.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Two favorite moms, Sarah (left) and Julie.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Only in my dreams…..till NOW.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And the crowd is still there……


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Best classroom at McCallum High School!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My friend Tere reacts after finding out my book is sold out in the store. Best. Picture. Ever.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Flowers from Spike, my original editor. Hope I did you proud.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Greeting Susan Prior and her daughter, both huge advocates for people with disabilities.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My former classmates and good friends, Claire Osborn and Oliver Franklin.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Greeting Ami and her daughter, Hannah.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A true advocate and fighter for special education, Ann Jinkins. Honored you came!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So many people from so many parts of my life with Meredith. Former neighbor Matt (next to blue sign) loves all of Meredith’s jokes.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The other daughter. I’m pretty proud of her too.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My favorite UT professor,  Nina Zuna. She is teaching a generation of students how to work with  kids with disabilities. A brilliant advocate in every way.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My good friend Jim Phillips taught me everything there is to know about reporting over the years. His stamp is on this book.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Spoiler alert! Both these women are in the book because they changed Meredith’s life. Marjie Wood (left) and Sue Fowler (right). Happy reading.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (l to r) Dave Harmon, Jim Hemphill and Pat Beach. Was it something I said?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (Left) High school friend Regina Smith, my biggest fan who has praised every word I have ever written. Thank you Reg!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I take final questions under the not so subtle “Gift Ideas” sign.  What a great evening at  a great bookstore.


A Book Signing

November 7, 2015

Book cover Join Sarah Barnes as she talks about her book, “Meredith & Me: A mother and daughter on a profoundly different journey.” 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 2015 BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, Texas Sarah has written a column about the joys and challenges of raising a daughter with intellectual disabilities for 15 years in the […]

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The Great Unknown

January 24, 2015

I’m getting that question about my daughter more often now. “What will Meredith do?” My daughter is 17, which is the magic number for prompting questions from other parents and friends about careers, living arrangements and the prom. Meredith did have a great time at the prom, but answering the rest of the questions is […]

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Easter Seals Central Texas Changes Lives

August 12, 2014

By Sarah Barnes My daughter walked because of  Easter Seals Central Texas, which is a very simple way of describing one of the most important days of Meredith’s life. When I learned Meredith had disabilities as an infant, one of the first calls I made was to the Easter Seals Central Texas or ESCT office. […]

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Was Meredith left out?

June 3, 2013

    Meredith doesn’t just board the school bus, she brings the noise, taking each of the steps with heavy feet and a beautiful rhythm. Her enthusiasm says as much about her perseverance in this life as her love of public transportation. I was gleeful last fall watching Meredith’s special education bus pull away from […]

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