October 21, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

Keep trying to conquer my distractions

“Mommy? Oh. I’ll show you when you are done with your phone.”

The moment she said it, my heart sank. The moment after she said it, she moved on. I’ll never know, now, what she was going to tell me. It’s gone.

girlonslide

The worst part is not that she wanted to tell me something and I missed it. It’s not that I’ll never know. The honest truth is that she has something to tell me about a hundred times a day. I miss one here and there and that is life, we can’t catch them all and we can’t beat ourselves up about every one that falls at our feet. I catch a bunch. I listen a lot.

The worst part is not that what took precedence in that moment was a completely insignificant voicemail that I could have listened to hours, even days later. I had no idea, until I listened, whether that message was left by a doctor or an editor or a potential client. That it was left by the toy store, notifying us that the craft she had made there was ready to be picked up, is just circumstantial.

The worst part is that I had promised myself that I’d keep my phone away. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t miss a moment that morning. I had promised myself that I’d be there, without distraction, wholly and completely present. I had reminded myself that what was most significant in that moment was her and the plans we had for the morning and that anything that she wanted to say or do or be should come before anything that might try to sneak through on my phone. The worst part is that, within minutes, I had already failed.

girlwalking

Earlier this year, I made a resolution to go Hands Free and grasp what really matters. I resolved to put my phone away when I’m with my family, to be distraction free. To stop rushing and multitasking and to just be with my people. I didn’t want my relationships to suffer because I needed to see the latest email to hit my inbox or read the latest response to my tweet. I didn’t want to seek Likes over Love.

But I’ve been failing.

I have a boatload of excuses, of course. I work for myself now. I need to be connected. I need to be responsive. I need to be present and here so that people will come and my work and opportunity and business will grow. And then, of course, there are his needs–speech therapists and doctors appointments and forms to fill out and activities to research. And her with school and friends, parties and playdates, activities and classes. My phone is what keeps me on top of all of these things, moving us all up and onward. Getting us there on time and with the right materials. I’ve told myself that I am doing this for us. That I need to be connected so that we achieve what we want to achieve, individually and as a family.

But that’s all just a bunch of excuses.

I’ve failed only because I’ve stopped trying. Because it is oh so easy to swipe my finger across the screen of my phone and dive into that virtual world when I think nobody is looking. I’ve stopped focusing on the people in front of me. And I’ve stopped focusing on my work. Even when I’m alone, my devices and social media and email and the latest shiny thing to call out from the periphery, pull me away from what I really need to be doing.

boyandtrain

It feels worse the longer it goes on.

I wish I could say that stops today. That as I sit here and type, I’m wholly focused on these words and this moment. That when I’m done working today, I’ll put it all away and forget it while I focus on the humans around me. But after 10 months of this, I know it just isn’t that easy. It’s a process. It’s a journey. All I can do is recommit everyday to get back to it. To recommit. To do my best. To keep trying. Keep trying to conquer my distractions.

~~~~~

Over the weekend, my friend Rachel’s Hands Free Revolution Facebook page was hacked. Some horrible people took over and posted awful things. I worried about her and I missed her. Her words and stories and encouragement keep me going and remind me what is important in this life. They remind me that the time I spend looking into three pairs of deep brown eyes today not only warm my heart today but lay the groundwork for a beautiful future of close and loving relationships.

Thankfully, goodness once again prevailed over evil and Rachel got back in control. If nothing else, that she was able to beat back the hackers and come back better than before reminds me that I can do this. I can conquer.

If you haven’t already liked her page, or if you left over the weekend because of the awful hackers, please go now and bring her inspiring words into your world.

October 16, 2014
by Tricia
9 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 33

A few of this week’s lovely little things:

Museums and Airplanes
There was a time when the idea of taking 2 kids across the river and into the city and through a crowded museum without the support of another adult would have never even crossed my mind. And if it had, I would have laughed. I must be a well-seasoned mama (haha!) because that is how we spent our Monday morning. And we all made it back in one (albeit soggy and rather cranky) piece. And that is lovely.

The Lasts
This year is a series of lasts for my girl. The last of all of the annual traditions and routines that have become part of our world since she started at this school. This week it was her last parent’s night and last field trip. She’s having a blast and she’s only 5 so she’s probably not thinking too hard about it but I can tell she is aware. We sentimental ones don’t pass these sorts of moments without some pause. And though it makes me sad to think of these lasts, watching her grow and reflecting on how much she has grown is lovely.

Appreciating 2
Technically, he isn’t 2 until next week. So says the calendar. But for all intents and purposes (and tantrums) he is 2. Most days, I’m done with his 2-ness by the time the sun sets. Exhausted by it. But then I read this and found a new appreciation for his world. And I spent a morning amongst 5 year olds and found a very strong appreciation for his sweetness and cuddlyness and 2-ness. 2 is hard but it is so rewarding.

feetspiderweb

favorite words
“Things, when magnified, are forgeries of happiness.”
Joshua Heschel

Trying to keep that one in mind this season.

Happy weekend!

October 16, 2014
by Tricia
10 Comments

Growing Together: Don’t Try to Solve Problems You Don’t Have

growing togetherWe’re back! After sharing this space with friends weekly over the summer, I decided to shift Growing Together to happen monthly as the Fall settles in. It’s too much fun to share this space and the words of the brilliant people I meet.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Katie from Pick Any Two. Katie is brilliant and every time I read her words, I come away with a new perspective and new actionable steps to take to make a change in my life. This post in particular, I’m still thinking about weeks later, trying to sort out what to let go from my overfull hands. Her story today, about learning to not solve a problem before it exists, is something I can completely relate to. After you read her words, be sure to show her some love (and then go back tomorrow because Katie always makes you feel good on Friday).

~~~~~

Katie and Luke

Without hesitation his tiny mouth latched on, and he began gulping eagerly, even ravenously. But only a few moments later he ripped away, wailing in between the coughs and sputters.

I wailed right along with him.

He was only a few weeks old, and yet he already knew the paradox of wanting something desperately yet hating it at the same time.

He was a newborn torn between the call of his growling belly and the desire not to choke on his only form of sustenance.

I was a mom torn between the desperation to feed my child and the desire not to hurt him in the process.

The lactation consultant labeled it “overactive letdown,” a fancy term meaning you’ve got an overabundance of milk and it comes out faster and more forcefully than your baby can handle.

She assured me it happens to lots of women, and that it wasn’t caused by anything I did. But I knew better.

I knew that even before my son was born, I had made a list of ways to increase your milk production. Since having an undersupply is the more common problem to have, I wanted to be prepared. I was a Type-A perfectionist, determined to do everything by the book, and therefore desperately needed to be successful in breastfeeding.

As soon as my milk came in, I started tackling my list—drinking tons of water, eating oatmeal every morning, drinking Mother’s Milk tea several times a day, and even pumping once a day, despite the fact that I hadn’t gone back to work yet and didn’t really need a milk stash.

In other words, I was so worried about having too little milk that I tried to counteract the problem before I even had it—and likely gave myself an oversupply problem instead.

After that, almost every time I fed my son we both ended up in tears. Him because he just wanted to eat a meal without gagging. Me because I realized my perfectionism—my need to follow every single rule and be over prepared for every possible challenge—had already backfired and harmed my child. It was the polar opposite of my intention.

Ultimately we stuck it out because my son was still gaining weight nicely—and because I’m stubborn like that. I wanted to give him what I thought was best; moreover, I hoped that by continuing to breastfeed him, I would give him enough benefits to outweigh the struggle I’d already caused him.

A few weeks later and, thankfully, the problem was solved, maybe because my milk supply evened out or maybe because my son grew big enough to manage the fast flow. Whatever the reason, we both happily moved on, continuing our nursing relationship until he was thirteen months old.

I was left with a well-fed baby boy and a valuable lesson. Never again will I focus so earnestly on averting a problem that I end up creating one. Never again will I blindly follow a book or a website before examining my child to see if the recommendations really apply to him, to us.

In parenting and in life, there’s an important distinction between being proactive and being over prepared. When we focus too much on preparing for the worst, we risk not even realizing that we already had the best.

These days, I’m learning to trust in my ability to deal with an issue when it arises, not necessarily before. In the process, it’s become easier to focus my attention on everything that’s going right, instead of constantly worrying about what could go wrong.

~~~~~

K McLaughlin Head Shot

Katie Markey McLaughlin, M.S., is a freelance journalist and blogger, plus mama to a very energetic toddler. Her blog Pick Any Two encourages moms to do anything, but not everything. You can connect with her on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

October 15, 2014
by Tricia
12 Comments

For your bucket list

If you’ve never been to a wedding on the beach, that is something you need to fix. Put it on your bucket list. Crash one if you have to. Stand in the sand, just beyond the white folding chairs, and watch the veil fly in the wind, mingling with the clouds and the sky and the foamy white waves. Listen to the man and woman vow to honor and love one another through sickness and health as their toes curl around the sand, even if they are complete strangers. Just be there and you won’t regret it. Beach weddings are truly magical.

beachaltar

Weddings are transcendent things for me. Each one reminds me of my wedding, no matter how different the venue, how varied the circumstances. They remind me of the vows I made. And they reveal just how much life has passed since the day I stood in a white dress and promised that my hand would always be there when he reached for it. They remind me that those vows you make on that day are so hard to keep. It takes work. So much effort. So much more than love. Somehow, watching a couple start down that road reminds me how worth it all of it is. The work, the effort, how deep you have to reach to keep going and hold on. I come away from a wedding wanting to go back. All the way back these eight and a half years to that day when we started.  And then, since you can’t go back, I vow to go forward and remember that we promised. We vowed. And it is worth the effort.

I need more weddings in my life.

And more sunrises like this one.

sunrisebeach

We made a mommy-daughter road trip to be there. 4 hours there one day and 4 hours back the next. To watch my cousin marry her love.

It was my girl’s first wedding. And she was fascinated. I explained the wedding party to her as the men and women processed in. I called out for her the moment when it was official. They were married. And she stared, her eyes glued to them the whole time. To her, the bride was a princess and the whole event magical. As they danced her first dance, she didn’t miss a step.

That she got to wear a fancy blue dress that made her feel like a princess made it all the more magical. That it was at the beach, that she got to dip her toes in the water, a gigantic added bonus. How she managed to stand in the water, which must have been below freezing, is beyond me. But she loved every second.

girlstaringatocean

Right below ‘attend beach wedding’ on your bucket list, you should add ‘dance in the ocean in your fanciest dress.’ These things, friends, will be the memories that keep you smiling and warm for the rest of your life.

fancydressocean

October 13, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

73 Questions

I’ve seen a few of these question posts floating around and thought it might be fun to do one myself!

To give credit where it’s due, I got the idea from Lindsey. I rarely reveal these kinds of random facts but I couldn’t agree more with Lindsey that the answers to these questions create a very revealing kaleidoscope about a person. I hope you feel that you know me just a bit better when you’re through!

These are the questions that Vogue asked Sarah Jessica Parker during an in-person interview. I omitted a few that were not at all relevant here so the result is slightly less than 73 questions. I also watched that video of SJP after answering the questions myself and was delighted to see we answered two in a row exactly the same (tell me if you ever discover which ones).

Also tell me if you answer them too. I’d love to know you better.

1. How long have you been in the area?
Since 2001.

2. What’s your favorite season in Washington DC?
Cherry Blossom season (spring)

3. What’s your favorite activity in Washington DC?
Walking around Eastern Market on a Sunday morning with my family (and coffee)

4. Would you ever leave Washington DC?
Yes.

5. What are three words to describe living in Washington DC?
Rich in history

6. What’s your favorite movie?
I don’t have one.

7. Favorite movie in past five years?
Don’t have one of those either.

8. Favorite Hitchcock film?
Not so much a Hitchcock fan

9. Favorite TV show that’s currently on?
Parenthood

10. What’s a book you plan on reading?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

11. A book you read in school that positively shaped you?
A Prayer for Owen Meany

12. A book you read in school that you never think of?
Heart of Darkness

13. On a scale of one to ten how excited are you about life right now?
7

14. iPhone or Android?
iPhone

15. Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram

16. Vine or Snapchat?
Neither

17. Who should EVERYONE be following right now?
@heychookooloonks on Instagram. Her photos make me remember the joy of life.

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Weekend inspiration from @upsideup.

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18. What’s the coolest thing in this room?
The tissue paper flowers my daughter made for me for Mother’s Day

19. What’s your favorite downtown restaurant?
Founding Farmers

20. What’s your favorite food?
Pasta

21. Least favorite food?
Peas

22. What do you love on your pizza?
Just cheese

23. Favorite drink?
Chai

24. Favorite dessert?
Chocolate chip cookies

25. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
Dark

26. Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Alligator

27. What’s the hardest part about being a mom?
That in every joyous milestone comes the pain of them pulling away but you still have to let them go.

28. What’s your favorite band?
Dave Matthews Band

29. Favorite solo artist?
I don’t have one.

30. Favorite lyrics?
The lyrics to Jack Johnson’s Talk of the Town. Specifically:
“I want to be where the talk of the town
Is about last night when the sun went down
And the trees all dance
And the warm wind blows in that same old sound
And the water below gives a gift to the sky
And the clouds give back every time they cry
And make the grass grow green beneath my toes
And if the sun comes out
I’ll paint a picture all about
The colors I’ve been dreaming of
The hours just don’t seem enough
To put it all together”

31. If your life were a song, what would the title be?
Turn it around

32. If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?
Norah Jones (ooh or maybe Stevie Nicks)

33. If you could master one instrument, what would it be?
Piano

34. If you had a tattoo, where would it be?
Promised my Dad I’d never get a tattoo so I’ve never let myself think about that.

35. To be or not to be?
To be

36. What’s Oprah like in person?
(Left this one in because how fun! Oh how I wish I knew Oprah in person.)

37. What number of question was this?
37

38. Dogs or cats?
Cats

39. Kittens or puppies?
Kittens

40. Dolphins or koalas?
Koalas

41. Bird-watching or whale-watching?
Whale-watching

42. What’s your spirit animal?
Dove

43. Best gift you’ve ever received?
My babies

kidsandwaterfallcamera

44. Last gift you gave a friend?
A necklace with a mama bird and a baby bird that used to be mine when I had just one baby. I passed it on to her as she begins her motherhood journey.

45. A person you want to have coffee with?
Any one of the friends I’ve had trouble scheduling time with these days!

46. A historical figure you’d love to have coffee with?
Anne Frank

47. How do you like your coffee?
Black

48. What’s your favorite curse word?
It begins with F…

49. What’s your favorite board game?
Scrabble

50. What’s your favorite country to visit?
Italy

51. What’s the last country you visited?
Mexico

52. What country do you wish to visit?
Peru

53. Can you write down your favorite word that starts and ends with the same vowel?
ease

54. What’s your favorite color?
purple

55. Least favorite color?
black

56. What color dress did you wear to your prom?
blue

57. Diamonds or pearls?
pearls

58. Cheap shampoo or expensive?
cheap

59. Blow-dry or air-dry?
blow-dry

60. Heels or flats?
both

61. Can you give an impersonation of someone?
Nope

62. Can you do the same impersonation with a British accent?
No

63. Pilates or yoga?
Both

64. Jogging or swimming?
Jogging

65. Best way to decompress?
A book, my couch, a blanket and either a glass of wine or cup of tea (depends on the day)

bookandtea

66. If you had one superpower, what would it be?
The power to heal

67. Can you describe an experience you felt most nervous?
Auditioning for a show in DC

68. What’s the weirdest word in the English language?
moist

69. Last question: Is this the strangest interview you’ve ever had?
Quite possibly!

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