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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

Are your kids stressed out or anxious? Maybe it is time for an electronic diet.

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Are your children stressed or depressed? It may be time to go on an electronic diet.

It seems like kids with iPads are getting younger and younger these days. I’ve even seen babies with them. My almost 18 year old son didn’t receive his first phone until he was 12 and it was only to motivate him to be come more social. He is autistic. The only thing it accomplished was that it gave him new ways to obsess and be inappropriate. There are no shortcuts. My 10 year old still doesn’t have a phone. However, we all know not having a phone doesn’t stop our kids from engaging in all types of inappropriate screen time antics. Most of us have computers and tablets at home to which our kids have access. So Stampylongnose will find his way into your homes somehow.

Other than becoming a zombie and not listening, what are the real concerns for our kids? According to research it affects focus, sleep and even our body composition. Parents complain that our children are addicted to electronics. Gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. How scary is that? Would you give your children cocaine? I don’t think so. Getting our kids on an electronic diet might seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.

Here a couple of steps to get our kids off of electronics?Let them know that the whole family is going on an electronic diet. We are all in. Remember that our kids are always watching us. So set an example of what you want them to do.Understand your children are going to need more input from you about how to have fun without a screen. Be ready and prepared for some suggestions. Bowling, ice skating, roller skating or playing outside to name a few.Sit back and watch the beautiful changes in your children.

Happy parenting!

Elise 

Stop trying so hard!

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I went on a walk with my 17 1/2 year old son last night, and the coolest thing happened. He talked to me about really important stuff;  college, friends, work, money, life values. Holy shit- if I had paid him a million dollars, I wouldn’t have gotten as much information out of him. Parents are always asking tons of questions to their kids, and it is usually followed by very short answers. I have recently learned to stop talking so much and start listening. But it gets tough to listen when they won’t talk. So below are a few suggestions/ideas to get even the most tight lipped teenager to talk.

1.  Do something THEY want (or enjoy) doing. Spencer was going for an evening walk last night, and he asked me if I wanted to join. Not really something I wanted to do at 8pm, but private one on one time with him is so infrequent that I hopped at the chance. Carpe Diem..

2.    Don’t ask too many questions when you are doing their preferred activity.  This is when their defenses are down, because of this, you will get a more authentic child without their guard up.  This is when they will start talking without you even asking. Its a beautiful thing, they will come to you.

3.  Be sure to get to know some facts about their hobbies, likes and dislikes,  (or fears) so you have some common ground to talk about down the road. 

4. Finally, don’t push, let the magic happen all on its own. 

Happy parenting!

Elise

The Importance of balance.

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Balance, It’s a funny thing. We try to gain it as we take our first steps as a baby. Once we are up on 2 feet we work hard to improve our balance. Children need it for agility in football, soccer, ballet and gymnastics. When we age we seem to lose the coveted balance that we work a lifetime to get and maintain.

Just like in ballet, if a ballerina is up on her toes and goes too far left or right she falls. To a gymnast on the balance beam a one millimeter misstep is the difference between landing or falling off. 

So then the question is, how does balance affect my family?

It may not seem like a big deal when you tell your children they can Never have electronics. While it would be a beautiful world filled with rainbows and unicorns if that existed, it’s not realistic. So how do we get our children to not stay glued to their electronics? Balance. If you take the electronics away completely at a young age, your child will not know how to balance playing with screen time. It is our job as parents to teach our children this important skill. Whether it is for junk food, electronics or time with friends.

Remember the next time you want to completely restrict something In your young children think of the ballerina. Too far left and she falls.

Life is like a ballet, the perfect balance will make you light and beautiful on your feet.


Happy parenting!

Elise

Run your family like a CEO runs their business!

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The new year has come and gone. Resolutions are set and some are broken. I’m going to suggest something radical today:

Rather than promising to stop yelling at the kids, try thinking of someone in the business world you you really respect. Ever wonder how some businesses always seem to succeed while others don’t? Or why people love going to work and others don’t? Chances are, there is a leader guiding the company to greatness. 

Parents are essentially the CEO'S of their household, so lets learn how to help our children to perform their best. Here are a list of traits that great CEO'S exhibit:

Emotional Stability: We can't run our houses well until we are emotionally stable. When I go into homes, before we begin to even look at family dynamics, I always make sure the parents are stable. After that’s established, we can then move forward with any behavioral plans.  After all, it makes it a lot more challenging to tell your children to stop yelling when you are always yelling, right? 

Maturity: Please make sure you are not making fun of your children to your other children.  You set the tone for the level of kindness and compassion in the household. 

Empathy: Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is essential when leading. Empathy = connection. Once you learn to feel empathy for someone else they will feel valued and appreciated.

Respect: What does respect look like in a family? When someone says “the music is too loud in the car, please turn it down” or “that noise is really bothering me, can you please stop” or can you please keep the noise down, its getting late," you need to listen to them. If you don’t respect your child’s wishes and don't value their needs, they will have a much harder time respecting you or their siblings. Show them the same respect you want them to exude.  

Next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or frustrated with your family, pause and think "how would my favorite CEO handle this?"

To an amazingly successful year, 

Elise

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! 

As the new year approaches, we’re getting ready to make our New Years resolutions. “This year I am going to eat much healthier and I’m going to work out every day.” My resolution every year is to stop cursing. A couple hours into the day I say,” f**k that.”
 

So why do we set these resolutions if we know we’re going to break them? It seems like we are just setting ourselves up to fail, making us feel even worse than before.  So this year, lets make a decision together: to change ONLY when we are ready, and accept all the rest.  At this stage of my life, I have learned to accept my truck driver mouth and those around me have as well.  Lets try and not only accept but embrace our shortcomings. They serve some sort of purpose for us. As for the healthier lifestyle, there is no bad time to make that decision.  It could be in the middle of the day, in the middle of the month, in the middle of the year.  When you are ready to take massive actions, you know you will get massive results.  In the meantime, be kind to yourself and remember there is never a bad time to make a fresh start.  
 

Wishing everyone a beautiful happy and healthy new year!

 

Elise  

 

Happy Holidays!

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The kids hadn’t even finished their Halloween candy and I was already getting excited for the holiday season. It started when I was a little girl and I would come down to South Florida to visit my grandparents. I would come back with a Jewish tan: dark on the front, pale on the back. When I went to college, I loved coming home and going shopping, having my mom cook and do my laundry for me and getting a break from school.  

Now, as I have my own family, this is also a favorite time of the year. My ex-husband wasn’t Jewish so I was able to get the coveted Christmas tree which became the highlight for me, another place to make something pretty. After I divorced, I kept the tradition of the Christmas tree (don’t call the Jewish police). Rather than worry about my perfectly matched ornaments and bows, I let my children pick out the tree theme. They did what every child does: the multicolor lights and ornaments. I embraced my new kid-friendly themed tree in exchange for my sophisticated tree of the past. My holidays now became about the experience instead of what the holiday looked like. My perfect tree topper was now a crooked ornament that has never quite fit, but it is magical.  

I love everything about the holidays. I love to shop for everyone’s presents, picking out the tree, decorating the tree, making potato latkes and seeing all the children tear open their presents with anticipation.

This holiday season, try to do one thing new that is super fun that can be a new tradition with your family.  Maybe something goofy, or a tree that’s just for your kids.  Maybe let them each pick out an ornament, or if you celebrate a different holiday, create a dish that you and your kids pick out and make together every year.  

Remember that holidays can be difficult for people so be considerate. While these times often come with stress, remember the beauty that surrounds this time. It is a time of miracles and celebration. 

Wishing you very happy holidays! 

Elise

Nighttime Routines

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Think about the way you put your child to sleep. Do you throw them in the bed and then leave? 

Now let’s think about your own nighttime routine. Do you go straight to sleep when you get into bed or do you read or watch TV to unwind?  Of course you do.  We all need to unwind before bed… and kids are no different.  I feel so strongly that connecting with your kids every day is important even for just 15 minutes/day per child.  I have found the best time to do this is at night. I split my nighttime routine into 3 distinct parts: 

  1. Doing something goofy: my daughter and I play with the snapchat filters for about 5 minutes. We laugh, we record ourselves the funny voices, we act silly. You could also read a book (funny voices encouraged). Whatever you can do to engage with them on their level is awesome!

  2. Lights out: this is the perfect time for them to start talking. As soon as the lights go out, kids will always start to talk. Why? BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP. You know how when you pick them up from school and ask them how their day was, they have nothing to say? They don’t talk because they are tired. But nighttime is when they DON’T want to go to sleep so they will tell you everything you ever wanted to know. This is a wonderful time to connect. These conversations often times bring about many teachable moments. Seize these opportunities. Open a judgment free zone and listen intently. Gently guide them with your input.

  3. No more talking: lay quietly for just a few minutes. Let them feel the security of you with them and then leave before they fall asleep.

Happy sleeping!

Elise  

Listen

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Recently, a dear friend of mine told me that it may be time to stop talking and just listen to my child. I had never heard something so absurd ;) 

I thought I had mastered the art of listening, but since people pay me to hear what I have to say, I often forget the power of truly listening. There comes a certain age that your kid no longer listens intently to what you are saying. In fact, they usually do the opposite of what you tell them to do. 

So what do we do? We listen. And it can be really difficult. Not difficult in the way of skiing on a black diamond slope; difficult like "I have to actually bite my tongue in order to not speak." The real kind of difficult. It's easier to just tell them what to do. But we must listen and allow them to feel heard. Ultimately, that's what every single human being wants: validation.

So what is this listening thing? Listening is having faith that you have taught your child the lessons of life and that eventually they will come up with the right decisions even if they take a wrong turn down a dark alley; faith that they will find their way back to what you have taught them. Listening gives your child the freedom to make a mistake and come back and ask for help.It builds trust. 

Ready to take the listening challenge? Hit "reply" and let me know how it goes!

Elise

Be the change

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Be the change. 

Have you ever felt so passionately about something that it became the driving force of your life? Did it keep you up at night with excitement and fill your heart with determination? There's so much going on in the world that desperately needs fixing. It's often overwhelming to know what we can do on a "small" level. 

Today, I'm going to challenge you to BE THE CHANGE. I know that not everyone feels called to be a leader but guess what?  Foot soldiers are just as important in creating change. Here are some steps for creating change in your own life and in the world:

  1. Identify your cause or passion

  2. Find someone locally that has your same passion

  3. Reach out to them ( 2 heads are better than 1)

  4. What change needs to happen in order for your problem to be solved? Are you worried about children starving in America? Instead of solely blaming the government (which can only get us so far), do SOMETHING. Maybe go to restaurants, grocery stores, and collect leftover food to donate.

  5. If you want to take the political route, fantastic. Understand that is going to take change in legislation -- find local politicians to help you. It might seem tedious but if you want policy change, you have to be a turtle….slow and steady wins the race

  6. Say it out loud to anyone that will listen. When I was discussing my personal cause, I discussed it with all of my friends and colleagues. Eventually I was directed to the correct person.

  7. ENJOY THE NATURAL HIGH OF MAKING CHANGES!

Ready to be the change? Email me back about what you are inspired to do. Accountability is everything :) 

Elise

The lesson of the burnt toast

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If you’re anything like me, multitasking is your middle name. We seem to take great pride in doing more things at once.  I can work, talk on the phone and make lunch for the kids!” 
 

In a society that moves faster than the speed of light, it appears that we're not really moving that fast. We’re actually falling behind. Most parents work which renders us multitasking experts. After all, it’s a REQUIREMENT that we’re must be fantastic parents, friends, employees and still get to the gym, right?

 

Hm. Not so much. 

 

The other morning, I thought I would be in contention for mother of the year. I decided to make my daughter homemade French toast for breakfast.  But like any working mother, making just French toast was not enough for me to do.  I flipped open my computer and started working on the counter just next to where I was cooking.  Whenever I work I get fully immersed in what I’m doing, so that day was no exception. I was busy handling “work stuff” when I smelled the burnt toast.  As I looked back at the breakfast, I realized immediately it was not salvageable.

 

 It got me thinking, why was it so important that we do so many things at once?  Why do we feel that we’re not useful unless we are busy. Why do we brag about being stressed and overwhelmed? We have become so conditioned to multitask that often times,  we’re not even actually getting things done.. we just think we are.
 

When you’re on the phone while working, how great is your work really going to be?  How can you really be actively listening to your kids while working?  The way I see it, we are doing a whole lot of nothing.  
 

So this next week, let’s all try and hit the reset button. Be present: at work, home, exercise, family, friends, and LIFE!  Give 100% to one thing not 25% to four things.  Life will get much sweeter for yourself and all of those around you! Hit “reply” and let me know how you plan to be more present this week. Even better, when the end of the week rolls around, let me know how your week turned out! 


Elise 

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Hi Friends, 

This evening, I'm writing to you right after I put my little one to bed (she's not so little anymore... almost ten years old).  I was reminded of how precious time is. Time with our children, time with our spouse, time with our family. It sounds super cliche but it really does go by so fast.

So I want to ask you, are you present when you're with your kids? Are you really in the moment with them, even for just for 15 minutes a day? Sometimes we are "with" them all day but are we really present?  

This week, instead of getting annoyed when your children interrupt you, try actually listening. I get it... when we are busy with all of the other pressing responsibilities that go along with parenting, even 15 minutes seems like a lot; but find the place in your life where children are not a distraction, but rather a gift.

There will come a time in the not- so- distant future that you will be beggingthem to talk to you. So enjoy all this time now, it goes by so fast. Be in the moment.

If you're feeling inspired and want to connect with other like-minded parents, come on over to my Facebook group. We've really created a community over there and I feel so honored to be a part of it. This Thursday night, at 9 pm, I will be doing a Facebook live. So come with an open heart and lots of questions. I'll see you then!

Lots of love,

Elise 

Perspective is everything

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Perspective is everything. 

As my son was heading out to school this morning, he forgot his wallet. One of my “crazy” rules is that we don’t wear shoes inside. So he takes off his shoes, runs upstairs, grabs the wallet, puts his shoes back on, and then remembers that he left his keys upstairs. Once again, he bolts upstairs, grabs the keys, and then literally tumbles down the steps. He was so upset and angry when he hit the ground and starts telling me that my “no-shoes-in-the-house” rule is the reason he fell and is now late for school. I say, "Sweetie,  I cooked you a homemade breakfast and prepared your lunch today while you were chilling on the couch. I asked you if you have everything ready and you told me that you did.” He was still fuming so I definitely didn’t want him to drive to school in that state. When I told him he had to cool down before getting in the car, he became even angrier, worrying about being late to school. I could see him becoming more and more anxious about the repercussions of being late. So, I had to snap him out of it. 

I told him to take some deep breaths and tell me the worst possible result of being late. He said he would get in trouble. I assured him that the only person he needed to worry about getting into trouble with was me and he was free and safety is, by far, the most important thing. Then he said he was angry that he can't wear shoes in the house. I then asked Spencer to repeat after me: “If not being allowed to wear my beautiful shoes in my beautiful home where I had homemade French toast today is my worst problem, then I am a lucky person". I asked him to repeat it with me a few times. He humored me and then…he got it!  He understood that he is beyond lucky and was brought back to the moment.  His state immediately shifted. He might have been a bit late for school but he left calm and safe.  I’ll take a teachable moment over a perfect attendance record any day. 

Lots of love, 

Elise

"Are you really listening"

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"Mom (or dad) are you listening?"

How many times have our children been talking to us and we just nod our heads and say, “ yea, yea no problem". Then, later, we find out that we have absolutely no idea what our darling child just said!

 I am totally guilty of this. My daughter actually called me out on it this past week. She must have seen the glazed look in my eyes when she said to me, "mom are you listening?"  I instantly snapped out of my wandering thoughts and zeroed in on Paytons urgent monologue about her pet fish.  I realized in that moment that if I wanted my daughter to talk to me when she gets older, I needed to  be present and interested right now. So I immediately added to the banter with my own insight about the fish. I knew I had made the conscious decision to be present now so she would allow me to be present later. 

Today, I want you to really be present. Put down the phone for a bit and really listen to your kids, your spouse, and your friends. You’ll be amazed at how far a little mindfulness can go… 

Have a fantastic weekend,

Elise