September 29, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

Things I learned in September

red

I took this photo on Sunday at the park while my kids ran out any energy they still had left after a double-header birthday party weekend. I love this time of year when there are little pops of color on just about every tree, but no tree has completely turned yet. Only the bravest, most excited little branches turn in September. Clearly they are the toddlers and the preschoolers of the trees, shouting, “Look at me!” “Watch me!” “Look what I can do!”

September was a big month here. Not unlike those trees, I experienced little pops of change, so many twists and turns. So I saw no better month to join Emily at Chatting at the Sky in sharing things I learned in September. A few serious and a few silly mixed in as a reminder that even when things feel heavy, there is always some lightness.

Things I learned inSeptember

1. Friends are everything. Friends that instinctively know when you need them. Friends who can perform the magic of drying your tears across phone lines. Friends who listen to you, support you, and remind you that you’re doing ok. Friends who check in on you the next day to see if you were able to raise your head up a little higher in the hours in between. I survived September on the strength of my friends.

2. My daughter has figured out Pandora. I learned this when I watched her stare at the screen for a moment, as if thinking about something, before reaching out to ‘thumbs up’ a song from The Little Mermaid. I learned that she’ll thumbs up and down whenever she wants, turning the sweet kiddie music station that I play for baby boy at lunchtime into a Disney princess bonanza.

3. Apraxia. Motor Speech Delay. Developmental Pediatrician. Prompts. I learned these terms and I can define them to you like I used to define vocabulary words in high school. I also learned what an ENT does, how toddler hearing is tested, what the easiest consonant sounds are to make, how to model speech for my son, and how to observe, listen, and wait.

4. I also learned that when he smiles, giggles, or wraps his arms around my neck for a squeeze, none of those lessons matter at all.

boyhay

5. To-do lists and weekly plans keep me organized and motivated. I live for drawing a straight line over words.

6. I learned that I am not the only one who yells sometimes. And that sounds strange but it’s true. I’ve never felt more alone than I have when my voice is echoing in the air between me and my kids and all I can think about are all of the other, wonderful, amazing mamas I know and how I am absolutely certain that they would never do such a thing.

7. It it more fun that I thought it’d be to see your own creation on top of a cake.

mermaidcake

I am usually quite against having a photo put on top of a cake. It just feels so odd. But this is what the bakery could do, three days before the party, with a photo I had taken of a mermaid painting I had done. All the girls wanted a piece with the mermaid on it so I consider that a success.

What did you learn in September?

September 27, 2014
by Tricia
3 Comments

Happy Birthday on TV!

Earlier this week, I was asked to be on an online TV show. It was a very exciting morning here, complete with lots of webcam testing and surveying the light in different parts of my house (not to mention trying to sort out what I would say). A certain little girl was just as excited as I was.

And then, it fell through. No fifteen minutes of fame, for now. Just a regular, old Tuesday.

But my girl has been asking all week to see me on TV. Whether she forgets that I’ve told her that it fell through or hopes against hope that each time she asks, the answer will have changed, I’m still not sure. But she keeps asking.

On top of all that, she is going to turn five tomorrow. Tomorrow. Five. I have to keep saying it over and over to make it sink in while, at the same time, I really don’t want it to sink in at all. It cannot be possible that five years have already passed since the day I kissed her baby head for the first time. And yet, I also feel like she has been with me my whole life. Motherhood is surreal a lot of the time.

So in honor of my girl’s fifth birthday, and my not-quite TV appearance, I decided to post my first ever video here on the blog. Seems like a win-win-win: my girl gets to see me ‘on TV,’ I get to practice my video skills for the next time (oh yes, there will be a next time) and you get to hear what my voice sounds like (don’t you always wonder that about the bloggers whose words you read all the time?).

Here goes. Happy birthday, my girl. You are my everything.

happy birthday to my girl from Tricia Mirch on Vimeo.

September 24, 2014
by Tricia
9 Comments

A Yes Weekend

She crawled into bed with us in the small hours of the morning. Which wouldn’t be odd except that it is. Save for the rare, extravagant thunderstorm, nothing wakes her up. She’s never tried to snuggle between us before dawn. She usually sleeps straight on through, waking only when I or the sun pour into her room in the morning.

But there she was,  almost completely asleep, except for the parts of her that were climbing on in.

And, of course, we know why. We know that school is different this year. Bigger and more challenging. She’s had to make new friends and adjust to missing old friends. She’s had to adjust to a new classroom and new teacher and she’s had to get through the day without a rest or a nap. She’s been tired and weepy in the evening. And when the sun and I try to coax her eyes open in the morning, it’s taking more effort.

And then there’s home. It hasn’t been smooth sailing here either. There have been appointments and discussions and fear and anxiety. And she feels every last bit. They both do. I try to hide it but my emotions are not things that like to be contained. They spill out all over and I know she sees it. They both do.

We know that the stress sitting on our shoulders is falling off onto theirs. We try to protect them from all of it but we are a family. We share it all, the good and the bad, whether we want to or not. So they both wake throughout the night, seeking what they didn’t get during the day. They need to make up what they missed.

So we decided to make it a Yes weekend. Yes to all the things. All of them. Yes to extra screen time and extra treats. Yes to this park and that park and every park in between. Yes to pumpkin patches and festivals and playdates and parties. When she asked, I said yes. If he wanted something and it wouldn’t cause bodily harm, I said yes. When we brainstormed ideas or ways to spend the afternoon, we said yes. Yes, yes yes.

pumpkin patch

And, of course, they were happy. They were happier than I’d seen them in weeks, maybe months. They bounced and they smiled and they giggled. And I’m sure part of that bouncy smile came from the chocolate chip pancakes they had for breakfast or the impromptu movie night that stretched past bedtime.

But part of it also came from the air. The air of relaxing. Of wanting to enjoy each other and our time together, as a family, more than wanting to control every moment. Of just wanting happiness and not letting anything get in the way.

I watched them at the park and my cheeks hurt from smiling. I watched them dash around the pumpkin patch and felt so happy I could have cried. I danced with her on the hayride and we were the only ones in our wagon who stood up to spin and twirl when the tractor stopped and she’s still talking about it. I watched them run around and play and slide and leap and I remembered that this is life. This is family In all of the living we’ve been doing over the past few weeks and months, the really hard, gritty, dirty living, we’d completely lost sight of this. This moment when living doesn’t mean arriving on time at appointments and filling out all of the paperwork and checking all of the boxes. This moment when living means just being here and saying yes.

Of course, we had to reign things in eventually. A family doesn’t run, at least not well, on chocolate chip pancakes and late bedtimes. But somehow, even with a few No’s, we’re back to life.

September 23, 2014
by Tricia
0 comments

Pick up time

I see her before she sees me. I pause just outside the door, peering through the windows, observing and admiring her, completely unnoticed.

In this split second of seeing without being seen, I get to survey the situation. Is she deeply engrossed with a baby doll and a blanket? Is she bent low over a table, crayon in hand, masterpiece making? Is she huddled with a friend, weaving a story with little plastic people?

These are the things that matter at 4:30pm.

I’m over at Mamalode today talking about the highs and lows of pick up time. Join me over there!

September 19, 2014
by Tricia
5 Comments

No more parenting on the fly (Get the Behavior You Want)

I’d push myself up in bed and reach for my phone, flipping directly to my email. And there they were, every morning: one email from Baby Center and another from What to Expect. I had signed up for an account on each within days of finding out that I was pregnant with my daughter and I lived on those daily emails they’d send with information and tips about what was going on inside my belly. I kept reading even after she was born, every single word of every single email, learning everything I could about development, what was coming next and what I should do. They were my parenting guides.

Time kept moving on though and eventually life got busier. I went through another pregnancy, signed up again, and found myself drowning in a sea of emails telling me what week it was, how old my children were, what they should be doing. They began to pile up in my inbox so I started filing them, saving them for that magical time later on when I’d have a moment to read them thoroughly (not yet realizing that I wouldn’t have that moment until my kids had grown and flown and would not benefit at all from my reading about how to teach a four-year-old responsibility.)

windowcolor

sanctioned window coloring with special markers… but the image felt appropriate!

Unfortunately, however, I never found a thing to replace those emails. I began parenting very much from the seat of my pants, answering questions and devising discipline strategies on the fly. And while parenting is very much best done by-the-gut, I believe in continual learning and the powerful perspective that researching and reading can bring to any situation.

So when I read the opening pages of Dr. Deborah Gilboa’s new book: Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate, I breathed a sigh of relief. In her introduction, she offers: “If you have time, you can absolutely read this book cover to cover. Of course, if you have time to do that I think you should put down the book and go back outside to the beach and enjoy the child-free vacation you are obviously missing!”

 

Yes, she knows the chaos in my life and she knows it well. And she is here to help.GetBehaviorYouWant-Book

As I started to work my way through, each chapter gave me something new to think about, new words to incorporate into our every day, and new tactics for, yes, getting the behavior I want. Each chapter provides strategies for every different age-group, from toddlers through middle schoolers, giving me the steps to take with my girl and the corresponding ones to take with my son to really drive home a point in a concerted, coordinated way.

Since I started reading this book, I’ve made several changes in our home life. I’ve listened more closely to how my daughter talks and acts and worked to help her behave well even when she is tired or overwhelmed (chapter 5: Spoiler Alert: What You Do is More Important than How You Feel.). I’ve removed toys and a giant pink castle tent that had been left in my bedroom (chapter 16: Your Bedroom as Your Sanctuary). And, with school back in session, I’ve recommitted to encouraging my daughter to dress herself and my son to make choices about his clothes each day (chapter 20: Teach Kids to Get Themselves Dressed). I’ve also found myself reminding my daughter, as she complains about having to set the table or make her bed, that we all have to do things around here for the good of our family (chapter 23: Chores: Good for You and Them).

I’ll admit that I haven’t finished reading every chapter. Because, of course, I’m not currently on a child-free vacation. And because change takes some time to incorporate. Were I to have finished the book in a week and jumped feet first into every thing I had learned, my kids’ heads would be spinning and I’d be crying in a heap on the floor. As Dr. G. points out, you pick the places that are the biggest concerns for your family right now. Here we definitely need to work on respect and to start building resilience, but managing mean friends, teachers, and coaches just hasn’t hit yet for us. And that’s the beauty of this book. I get to come back to it year after year as we move from one parenting phase to the next, as the concerns that keep us up at night morph and change, and know that I have a compass to guide me through.

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