September 27, 2016
by Tricia

Girl at the beach

baby and mommy at the beach

She is one. Even the low tide reaches her belly button. She’s as timid as she is tiny. These days, you might say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Tiny. Timid. I hung up my adventure seeking flag right about the time I found out about her. Rewards of adventure stopped outweighing the risks, and all that. But, also, just watching her toddle across the floor overloads the adventure capacity of my soul, never mind all of the other wild, new, ever changing things she does. Tiny and timid as she is, she is an adventure-a-minute.

So I don’t mind that she doesn’t barrel into the ocean, throwing herself at the waves before she’s figured out if they’ll throw her back. She won’t know the feeling of wet sand between her toes until the last day of this trip. And then, of course, she won’t want to come back to dry sand. But for now, this morning when the sun is not yet too high in the sky and the breeze is just right, she’ll take in the ocean drip-by-drip from the safety of our arms as we barely wade in deep enough for the waves to splash her.

mommy and little girl at the beach

She is two. I’m balancing her carefully on my swollen belly while the water laps at my equally swollen ankles. The bravery she earned during last summer’s trip washed away in winter snow and spring rain. In between packing beach towels and swim suits and preparing to leave our nest at the height of my pre-baby nesting frenzy, we read Ladybug Girl at the Beach. Because although our whole world is about to change, I still have the luxury of time to spend preparing the world for her, and her for it. It may be the last time that I can meticulously plan and think and orchestrate so that things will go just right.

So we observe Lulu’s fear of the water and her ultimate, if accidental, bravery at the end of the story. We talk about the beach and the waves and how much fun Lulu has in the hopes that all this talk will prime my girl to jump right in when we reach the coast. But, once again, her feet stay dry until the last day when we drag her from the sea, brush her off, watch her sleep in the car all the way home.


She is three. A big sister with a year of preschool behind her, almost propelling her forwards. So forwards she goes, to the point where the waves kiss the shore. Still timid, still holding back, but tiptoeing into this new stretch of land. This confidence in herself and her process looks strange on a three-year-old, but she wears it well. By day two, three at the latest, she’s in up to her ankles. We brought Ladybug Girl with us this year and we let her inspire us. We rush towards the water, hand-in-hand, daring the waves to chase us. And when they do, as they always will, we run beyond their reach. Her desire to play is insatiable. The adults take turns walking her down to the edge, bringing her back when their arms or legs or, quite frankly, hearts are exhausted from keeping her safe. I miss the days of wrapping her arms around my neck to gaze out at the horizon and I also revel in the joy of her now. I ache to stand beside her in the ocean and I also want nothing more than to sit with the baby, who still can’t move, back on the blanket where it’s safe.


She is four. We squeeze in a trip to the beach long after summer’s end. We’re here for a wedding and the water is freezing and we’re dressed up with fancy shoes. But the seasons didn’t wash away last year’s bravery this time and she wades right in, hiking the tulle of her skirt up above her knees. When I think of the joy that I know lives inside her, when I worry that this mood or that disappointment will take her over, when I worry that I’m not making this childhood all that it could be for her, I think of her right now. Her and the ocean and the big blue sky. And I remember that we’re alright.

She is five. Fearless. Fierce. A force. Still tiny and maybe just the slightest bit timid. But most of that has all but faded away, replaced with an eagerness that she has just started to figure out how to use. It’s as though she’s already read Thoreau and totally bought into his desire to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Her feet are wet before we even lay out the blanket. She wants to go in farther, farther, farther still. She refuses to hold anyone’s hand until a wave knocks her straight down. And then she gets up and goes right back again. Her confidence is a rock and it won’t be knocked loose that easily.

I think back to beach trips past, how hard it was to encourage her towards the water, and I’m amazed. What has happened in the past year or two? Where did she find this confidence, this fearlessness, this excitement? I hope that it is a little bit from me and a little bit from her and that it is a gift she’ll carry with her.


She is six. Eager and excited from the moment she opens her eyes until the second she gives in to sleep, every day.  She wants to experience it all. She is no longer cautious but, instead, seems almost wise. As though the sensor inside her that determines whether or not she is ready for something is already so finely tuned that she doesn’t need to think twice. And most of the time she is ready. She rushes for the waves, begs to go farther,  but settles in water up around her waist when we pull her back. She balances building sandcastles and looking for shells with jumping waves with a natural ease that suits us all.

We still clasp hands and run towards the ocean, daring it to chase us. And it does. It always will. Just as I’ll always check in with the ocean, to take stock each year and admire my girl at the beach.

June 13, 2016
by Tricia
1 Comment

Where my thoughts are

kids blanket fort

I’ve been cultivating a slow Sunday morning habit, the core of which is avoiding email and social media for as much of the day as I can. Good news rarely comes through those channels. At best, the things I read on my phone steal a few minutes of space, from my brain. At worst, the things I read turn what could be a restful day into a blur of stress, worry, and sadness. I realize that those words have that power, mostly, because I give them that power. But sometimes, what can you really do?

When my willpower is strong and my phone stays away, I am rewarded with blissful mornings, complete with feelings of connection to my husband and children. When my willpower is strong, I can let the troubles of my life and the world fall away. I can let myself just be.

Yesterday, I made it to around 11am. Which means I lived in blissful ignorance longer than most.

We had ventured out to a new bakery downtown. The sky was  blue and the morning was warm but not yet brutally hot. Excited by a mini-adventure that promised sweet treats, my kids were in delightful moods, bouncing happily and sharing pieces of muffin and cinnamon bun with each other across the distressed wood table. We were together and happy and trying something new and on a late spring morning, what more can you ask for?

So it was almost noon when I first saw news about what happened in Orlando.

Except that I didn’t click.

Instead, I continued along my morning, walking alongside my son’s tricycle on the way to the park and my daughter’s new two-wheeler on the way back. I sat outside and watched my kids dash in and out of the sprinkler, admiring how my little girl, who once would barely agree to get a toe wet, now runs straight for water, leaping through the fan of sprinkles. I watched my son avoid the activity altogether and admired my own ability to be ok with that this time around, now that I know how it will all likely turn out.

When I finally gave in, read the headlines and the content below them, the tragedy had already been deemed the worst in our country since 9/11. My social media feeds bursted with images of condolence and hope and love and, then, anger and frustration at the hate.

But I didn’t join in. I put it all aside and I woke my sleeping children and we went to their swim lesson where I dipped my toes into the icy water and cheered as my daughter swam and my son splashed. I wrapped towels around my children and changed them. We came home where I gave them baths. We ate dinner and read stories and said our prayers and I tucked them in.

I went through the rest of my day and ignored yet another giant hole that had been torn in our humanity. I did not click on links to gather the additional details. I did not click to see what horrible things Donald Trump had to say. And I still haven’t. I didn’t even seek out the stories of the good that always surface in times like these. I didn’t try to catch the predictable wave of light through the darkness. I went about my small, quiet life. I closed the blinds, kissed my babies’ sleeping faces, and went to bed.

I didn’t send out an image of hope or a note that my thoughts are with those torn apart in Orlando. Because, to be honest in a way that scares me, my thoughts were not in Orlando. They were as far from Orlando as I could possibly get them which, when my three people are here with me under this roof, is satisfyingly far. After all, the point of my media avoidance is to keep my thoughts here, with my children and my husband and my life in this moment. But, also, if my thoughts were truly there, then I would not have dropped my children off at school or camp this morning. I would not have let my husband out the door to catch his train. I would not find the strength within me to sit here, alone, just typing.

I’ve been doing this more and more lately, this willful shrinking, deliberately closing out the bad out there in fierce protection of the very good in here. I rarely listen to the news. I give up scrolling Facebook. I stop clicking and so I stop talking and I stop engaging altogether. When given the choice to go out or stay in, I strongly prefer that we all stay in. I focus my attention on my kids. I read them stories, answer their questions, absorb their imagination and wonder. I talk with them about the world as I find myself building barriers between it and us. Lately, I am sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending the world reaches no farther than the cozy spot I’ve created for us here.

I have become the fear that we are warned to keep at bay, the fear that means the enemy is winning.

I am also the confusion and the disbelief. Anger turned to terror. Events that used to motivate me to think of ways to do something and inspire change now motivate me to nestle deeper into my home and my kids.

It feels like giving up.

I want to be the hope. And the love. Because if I can manage to be those two things, then my children will continue to grow as those things and maybe, just maybe, we can turn this thing around. I want to be the hope and the love because that is what we all need right now, it’s what I need right now. Hope and love work against the fear and the confusion and, if properly applied, might calm my nervous stomach and stop my fingers from shaking on the keys and allow me to keep dropping my kids off into their lives and letting my husband out the door to his. Hope and love might even bring me back to mine.

As part of my withdraw from the world, I haven’t come here in quite a while. Every so often I type a few paragraphs that I never return to and, so, they never make it out for you to read.

But today, I’m going to click ‘publish’ if for no other reason than to reach back out into the world with a little something and hope that creates within me, and you if it might, the strength to reach back out with more.

To hope, love, and light.

April 15, 2016
by Tricia

Yoga all around. A review of Rachel’s Day in the Garden


About once a day, I unroll my yoga mat. It unfurls along a narrow strip of space in my office. About a foot of it sticks out into the dining room. Normally it’s just me and the cats here and they don’t seem to mind. Depending on the day, I’ll spend anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes on that mat before rolling it up and getting back to work. I feel different when those minutes are up. I feel different on the days when those minutes don’t happen. Those differences are what keeps me coming back. Those differences mean that I’ll squeeze in the 10 minute routine, even on days when 10 minutes may as well be 10,000 because I don’t feel as though I have 10 seconds to spare. And you know what? When I put something else aside to make the 10 minutes happen, the Earth seems to keep spinning. Amazing.

Those differences also remind me of some key elements to our everyday: breathing, stretching, moving for movements sake rather than to get to the next place. Even just 10 minutes of just being, focusing only on the muscles within, the ground below and the breath all around, can make a world of difference. These elements feel like things we can go without. And, technically, we can. We don’t have to focus on breath the way we need to eat or sleep or, even, get dressed in the morning. But enough days without it? You’ll start to notice.

My kids, of course, breathe, stretch, and move for movements sake because these things are embedded in childhood. But I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of yoga for children. So I was delighted to receive a complimentary review copy of Rachel’s Day in the Garden, a new yoga book for kids by Giselle Shardlow. Through a sweet, springtime exploration of the garden with her puppy, Rachel calls attention to the colors all around her and models some simple yoga poses that you can try with your children as you read. Whether pretending to be a caterpillar or squatting down to plant some pumpkin seeds, the story will engage small children who love to both read and move around.

Rachel's Day in the Garden

A list of yoga poses in the back of the book offers a great guide to use while reading or later when you feel like everyone just needs a moment to breathe. Some of the benefits of yoga for kids are better sleep and help relaxing, unwinding, and calming down. Pre-bedtime yoga anyone?

If you haven’t introduced your kids to yoga just yet, Rachel’s Day in the Garden is a great place to start.



February 25, 2016
by Tricia

The challenge of being content

kids window snow

I’ve been increasingly aware, lately, that my kids are growing.

I know that sounds odd but, if you think about it, we spend a lot of time in parenthood completely unaware that our kids are, in fact, growing. We don’t catch on as they accumulate fractions of inches in height until one day they can open the pantry and reach a snack off the top shelf. We don’t catch the smoothing of their speech until the day they ask for a balloon and not a babloon and we find ourselves crying right there in the toy store. They grow right in the middle of life, just as much on our busiest days as on our quietest, and so we miss the little things until they are quite big things, or rather, big people standing in front of us.

Right now her smiles reveal a giant gap, where teeth used to be, right in the center of the top of her mouth. And right now, he uses his noodle-like toddler body to run ahead of me at pickup and to jump off curbs, or, sometimes, couches but also to curl up in my lap like a roly poly. And I think it’s these two things that are grabbing me and forcing me to acknowledge the growth. That gap, that small space in her smile that screams, “I’m 6 years old!” with childhood delight has an expiration date. The big teeth that belong there will come along any day now and give her tongue something to push against, wiping away her almost imperceptible lisp that makes me feel glowy every time. And his body will continue to grow and become stronger. He’ll wiggle and curl and jump less and stride more. I look at them and I can’t help but feel that we’re in a space that is so incredibly special, if for no other reason than that once we move on, we can never come back. She’ll loose other teeth but she’ll never have that signature hole again. He’ll probably always wiggle and curl up into my arms but not in the very particular way he does today.

And I struggle to not feel sad about that. I struggle to not mourn the moment right as I’m living it.

Parenthood has a way of holding our hearts in the past while constantly propelling us into the future. Every time I sneak into a darkened room to whisper my love into a dream before I succumb to sleep, I can’t help but see both the baby she used to be in the way she still hugs a lovey to her cheek and the little women she is becoming in the long curves of her face and the way her feet now inch towards the bottom of the bed. Every night, it still hits me that he’s in a bed and the crib is gone and the rocker is gone too and my mind can’t help but play it forward to all of the other changes in this room that will signify his rapid journey away from babyhood. I stare at baby pictures and sob over the baby fat that has melted away and the little jumper that hasn’t fit for years and find myself mourning the past and wishing I had held on tighter, enjoyed it more.

It’s easy to get caught up in the push and pull of past and future. I call it the challenge of being content.

I left my house in the afternoon last week to run a few errands while the kids were in school and found myself walking to the beat of multiple tantrums from my fellow little shoppers. Hearing and seeing children when I am by myself always makes me miss my babies, no matter how loud the stranger child’s tantrum is or how badly I needed to get out by myself. And that moment was no different. I missed my kids. Not the tantrum-prone version of them (which, coincidentally, is the same version of them that I miss when I’m tearing up over baby photos). I didn’t miss them as babies. I missed them now. I missed their today-selves, the ones that rarely throw check-out lane tantrums anymore, the ones I had strapped backpacks and lunchboxes to and sent off with hugs and kisses that morning and the ones that I’d pick up with more hugs and kisses in a couple of hours. And, somehow, missing them in all of their current glory snapped things into place for me.

Rather than missing the past or crying in preparation for the future, I can simply enjoy today.

I can simply soak up every word that comes out of that toothless mouth and revel in every gapped smile, ignore how fleeting it is and just live it now. I can simply watch him wiggle-run down the hallway and belly laugh at his noodley dances and commit the moment to the memory of my heart. I can admit that I’m content here. Happy. I can let myself enjoy this sweet spot for exactly what it is, a soft space where we are all happy and healthy and gelling and where I can’t help but be wooed by their childhood. I can own this space as a special nook in our lives and stop, for a little while, obsessing over how things used to be or, even worse, that things will not always be as they are today. I can just be content.

February 12, 2016
by Tricia


“It’s time to get up now.” he says, giving me a gentle nudge. It’s the third, maybe fourth time he’s woken me this morning. It’s also the same thing every day, as if I’m five or maybe fifteen. Not, as of yesterday, thirty-five.

In between the first nudge and this one, I’ve kept my eyes closed but tip toed into the day, thinking about what it holds. The ups and downs, treats to look forward to and things I don’t really want to do wash over me in this moment every morning. Some days it’s dreadful. Others, though, like today, it’s not bad at all.

He nudges again.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” I ask in morning mumble. Without so much as a beat, he wishes me “Happy Birthday” with a kiss. And then I get out of bed.

There have been times when this small morning moment would have become a much bigger thing. There have been times when I wouldn’t remind him but, rather, would spend my entire shower feeling sorry for myself and angry at him for a blip that is never “I forgot your birthday” but is always a groggy, bleary-eyed “It’s really damn early.” There have been times when I didn’t see it that way at all. Oh there have been times.

But thirty-five is grace. Thirty-five is remembering that the blips don’t have to get me down or bring us down. Thirty-five is shamelessly talking about my birthday, asking for and orchestrating what I want, and being completely ok with that. Because why the hell not? Thirty-five is gutsy. And I like it.

This is my fifth year celebrating my birthday in this increasingly small space. And I like that too. I like that I have a history. Little data points from the moment between years tell a story. I can look back and compare who I was then with who I am now and who I’m becoming. Embarrassing as it was, I went back and read 31 through 34 today just for the journey of it. In these four years, I’ve grown quite a bit as a person and a writer, if I do say so myself. I also like that I’m sharing all of this with an increasingly small number of you, too. Growth isn’t always about getting bigger. Sometimes it really is about focus and intention and sometimes that means getting a little smaller. If you’re reading this, you’ve been part of the journey and I know who you are.

Thirty-five is knowing who my people are, without a doubt, and feeling the warmth that comes from spending my time and energy and love with those people.


Thirty-five is a new phase of motherhood. It’s spending my birthday in a quiet house and mostly alone because my babies are no longer babies but kids with school and ballet classes and blossoming little lives. It’s not believing this could be possible but it most definitely is falling in love with my children harder and harder each day as they grow more and more into the people they’re becoming. It’s finding my stride with their hands in mine rather than with their bodies on my hip. It’s finding my groove and knowing much better who I am as a mother. And loving it.

And it’s knowing, much better, who I am as a person, a wife, a friend. And accepting that. And realizing that when I accept who I am, the people in my life begin to know me better too. And that makes the risk of seeing and showing myself, flaws and all, so very worth it.

Thirty-five is making more coffee in the morning because I love the feel of the mug in my hands, the steam as it rises, relishing two first sips that come hours apart and making morning last for as long as I can. It’s coffee for the feeling more than for the caffeine.

Thirty-five is appreciating that our kitchen is literally in the heart of our house because the kitchen is home. It’s baking because I want to, sometimes with the kids but, more and more often, without them. And it’s cooking, with menu plans and new recipes and experiments all the time, because nourishing myself and my family is important to me now in ways it wasn’t before.

Thirty-five is taking care of my body and my soul, unrolling my yoga mat almost every day and intentionally breathing deeply because I know it helps. It’s doing things like eating well an exercising and getting enough sleep not because I necessarily love those acts themselves but because of how good I know I’ll feel afterwards. Thirty-five feels grown up.

Thirty-five is finally learning that adding a little bit of product turns my hair into a part of me I love, despite the growing number of grey strands. That a quick swipe of nail polish changes the way I look at myself in a good way. That wearing clothes that make me feel good is half the battle.

Thirty-five is more honest. Less afraid. Less focused on pleasing people and more focused on knowing people. It’s realizing that you can’t do both well at the same time and, since I have to choose, I’d much rather know you than please you.

Thirty-five is throwing myself a little birthday party because thirty-five is about the people in my life who make this life beautiful. It’s opening my home because I love the balance between the quiet and the loud and I’ve finally accepted that I need both to feel whole.

Thirty-five is content, with both where I’m standing today and the road I’m on. Realizing that saying “I wouldn’t change a thing about my life.” and “I want so much more.” in the same breath is not insane. It’s a sign of a good life.

Thank you for being my people and celebrating in this space with me again.