Kids

Gotcha Day: What it is and how it changed my life

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Miriam Webster's Definition of Gotcha:   an unexpected usually disconcerting challenge, revelation, or catch.
 
Not sure if that is how I would describe the day my darling Payton was put into my arms for the first time 12 years ago.  For some reason, the slang term for the day you receive your child in Chinese adoption is called Gotcha Day. Either way, I got her and I have never looked back.
 
When the decision was made to adopt, it seemed like a smart, easy one.  After all, my oldest has autism, there is genetic component and we were unwilling to take any chances. We began the adoption process. Much like my experience with Spencer's therapies, I threw myself into the entire adoption process. I had to decide if we wanted domestic or international, which country and which agency.  Once those decisions were made, we needed homestudies, fingerprints, recommendations, passports, visas, immunizations.  The list seemed endless and so did the process.  But I was set on my Chinese baby girl. After all, I was told cognitively Chinese children were perfect.  Is there such a thing?  All I knew was that after all the therapies I had been through with Spencer I wanted and thought I deserved a “typical baby” I wanted to know what it felt like to parent a typical child. 
 
Three years after we started the process of the adoption, I got the call.  “Mrs. Montgomerie, please pull your car over.  We need to make sure you are in a safe place when we tell you.” I was so excited. I had finally been matched with a baby. I pulled the car over to park. “Ok, I’m safe, tell me about my baby.” “Your child Long Xan Man is waiting for you. Please make your travel arrangements for 6 weeks. We will send you all the paperwork you need.” I hung up, cried, cried and cried some more. Long Xan Man I’m coming to get you.
 
Gotcha Day was very surreal. It was cold and gray in Nanchang. We were told to meet in the ballroom of our hotel. We were told, “don’t come early, we don’t want you seeing the babies.” Walking down to the room, we saw the “nanny’s” bringing in the babies. I tried desperately to find Long Xan Man. We were sent 2 pictures. That’s it. From that I couldn’t seem to recognize her. As we arrived in the room, they told the parents to stand on one side of the room and the babies were on the other side. When your name was called, you were to come and meet your baby. It was like when you go grocery shopping and it is your turn at the deli counter only it is such a better gift. Then finally. “Montgomerie”. I ran and grabbed Long Xan Man and hugged her so tight. In that moment she became my Payton. Just like when Spencer was born, I had difficulty letting people hold her. Not because I was nervous. It was because it hurt too much to have my babies in anyone else’s arms.
 
We finally came home to be greeted by our family and friends. It was amazing. And just like that the 3 long years of my “adoption pregnancy” were over and my family was complete.
 
I have since learned there are no perfect kids. Like all kids, regardless of whether they were adopted or have autism, they all have their own set of issues. Payton is no different. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so perfectly matched, it was as if the universe knew I needed to wait 3 years to get my Payton.
 
Payton Grace Montgomerie, I gotcha now and I’m never letting go. I kaklunk to Iabab. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your mother.

Love,
Elise

New Year, New Habits

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One question I always ask parents who start my Happy Family in 90 Days™ parenting program is to identify their child’s currency. What is it and how do we determine it? Your child’s currency is an everyday thing that they constantly ask for that isn’t food, love, or time and doesn’t cost any additional money. It must be something they can earn for a job well done just like money.
 
When my daughter was younger her currency was me turning the shower on for her. I had no idea why, but this was a big deal for her. Every day when she asked me to turn the shower on for her I would evaluate her behavior for the day and then determine whether or not she had earned her currency.
 
Similarly, I had a client whose 3-year-old son was saying “damn” all the time and she wanted to know how to get rid of it. The answer was simple, his currency was changing into his pajamas when he got home from school. Now this was no longer something that he could do for free, he had to earn that privilege. Magically, he stopped saying “damn”!

Other examples of currency that I have come across include: letting your child choose the song you play in the car, picking out what to eat for dinner etc. Every child is unique in what their currency is but with a little investigating I am confident you will find what it is!
 
Love,
Elise

Quick Tips for a Peaceful Thanksgiving

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Ah, I love Thanksgiving. It's the perfect time to think about what we are thankful for and take inventory of our lives. You might have already started counting your blessings but if you've gotten lost in holiday shenanigans, I invite you to start now: 

What are you really thankful for? 

It can be something that you usually take for granted or something big that happened this year. Gratitude is gratitude. 

 Also, remember some family and friends may not have Thanksgiving plans... I'd encourage you to reach out and invite them to your celebration. Being alone during the holidays can be very lonely and difficult. Payton felt destroyed when her friends didn't invite her for Halloween plans...  imagine how adults feel without anywhere to go for the holidays.  

Thanksgiving often comes with some family drama. Instead, be proactive and decide that you will have a different perspective. Understand that no one is perfect. The annoying parent that seems to only “criticize” you? They might just be really scared and doing the best they can.  Try to empathize with the path they have taken in life to arrive at the place they are. Perhaps they only know negativity. Show compassion through your own positivity.

Wondering what the hell you are going to do with the kids the entire vacation? Rest and relax!  Sleep in, make a mess, let the kids come in your bed for snuggles. You will miss this time in a few years. Do things that your normal schedule wouldn't allow. Bake, sing loudly, dance, play. Enjoy the togetherness of family time. It’s a beautiful blessing. If you have a toddler that screams and throws temper tantrums, take this opportunity to do some behavior modification techniques while you have the time to devote.

Finally, relax and enjoy the blessings of life and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, 
Elise 

Tips for back to school

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As the relaxing days of summer are winding down (In Florida we go back
to school in less than 2 weeks), I think as parents we are holding our breath in anxiety. We remember the arguments we had with our kids, the deadlines for school projects and of course the dreaded early morning drop offs.

Here are some of my tips to making the transition easier as the kids go off to school.

  1. Never let them see you sweat. What does that mean? Don’t start complaining about going back to school and having early mornings again. Remember that little ones are always watching. Model what you want your kids to do.

  2. Start practicing some math and reading skills again. Don’t set a strict schedule. Just enough to get their feet back into the “work pool”.

  3. Remember this is THEIR school experience, not yours. Try not to hover too much or stress too much. A little suffering never hurt a kid

Enjoy your last few weeks with the ki.ds. Time goes by so fast.

Happy parenting,
Elise

What makes a great mom?

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Happy Mother’s Day

What is a great mother? People have different definitions of a great mom. My definition changed when I became a mother. Some moms make everything pretty for their kids. Some are amazing PTA moms and are always the class mom or maybe you see yourself as an average mom. I can assure you, there is no such thing. There are shitty moms but never average. In fact, if you are reading this, you are definitely not an average mom. How do I know that? Because you wouldn’t be reading about moms if you were average.
So I will tell you my version of an exceptional Mommy. The person that always puts their children before themselves. A person who even when it doesn’t feel good to do the right thing, does it. No need for accolades (although if we get some, that is much appreciated) because they do it when no one is looking. They fight tirelessly and fearlessly for their children and know when to let go and teach their babies how to fight for themselves. So if you make birthday presents beautiful or are the PTA mom that’s just the cherry on top. Unconditional love is the gift of the mother. Although we are not perfect and may not always do the exact right thing, we are Mother’s. We are warriors for our babies. So this Mother’s Day let me salute all of you for your amazing work for your kids. Thank you for putting in the time and energy even when it feels like your kiddies don’t deserve it. Enjoy being taken care of on this honorary day.


Happy parenting.
 Elise

Where does the time go with our kids?

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My baby turns 18 this month! Is that possible? I checked his birth certificate to be sure and as I suspected he is turning 18.

It wasn’t always easy with Spencer. He was diagnosed with autism days before he turned 2. His behaviors were challenging to put it mildly. We went through many therapies, traveled all over the country and spoke to countless doctors to try and help Spencer with the numerous deficiencies autism brings. When I reflect back, I remember the tantrums and the difficult times but somehow, they seem to fade. Now instead of deficiencies I see gifts. Instead of tantrums I see a young man that sticks to his word. Each new therapist I hired I remember thinking, “This will be the magic bullet.” Spencer has taught me so many valuable lessons, too many to list, but slow and steady like the turtle may just be the best one. Because there is NO one magic bullet that is going to make your child listen, go to bed easily, eat every food on the planet or not throw temper tantrums. Parenting is like the story of the turtle and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. It was not one particular therapy that changed Spencer into the unbelievable well adjusted, social person he is today. It was the combination of everything. That along with boundless love and adoration and his willingness to let me mold him into the young man he is today.

To all the parents that want a quick fix to a problem, trust me, it’s not out there. I’ve looked everywhere. You can’t trick good old-fashioned parenting. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so take your time and enjoy the distance because in an instant it flies by.

To my son, happy 18th birthday. I love you with all this mother’s heart can hold. Thank you for the many gifts you have given me and the world. Your autism never really needed to be fixed, just shaped. I love you to the moon and back.
 
Love Mommy

 

Happy Parenting
Elise