Friday, June 24, 2011

Thoughts on therapy

Last week I met with a new therapist. Let's see, that makes it (getting out my fingers to count here . . . . ) four. Four therapists. Not for me (though I do have a few of them under my belt), but for my children. I met a therapist who will be working with my younger daughter, Eloise. In a few short weeks I will officially have both of my children in therapy. In a few short weeks Iris will also be seeing a psychiatrist, bringing our tally to five.

I joke about this. Quite a bit actually. My running punchline is, "I win!" because I already have ruined my kids at their tender young ages. Woo hoo, right? If I wasn't laughing I would be crying.

To clarify, Eloise is going to be seeing a therapist to help her (and us) sort through some of the anger and confusion of being the little sister to, well, someone who is a bully (to put it bluntly). I have begun to feel more concerned in the past few months about Eloise bringing her frustration of being a punching bag at home to school and letting it out on her classmates. The times when her school behavior is more troublesome coincides perfectly to those times when things at home are harder. Eloise has also begun verbalizing her sadness and confusion over Iris's behavior towards her and, well, I just don't know how to handle it. She needs support, and it's something I want to address before she goes to Kindergarten.

Recently I read an article called "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" that was written for the Atlantic. Well, back up. I read the article because I first read a blog post by Teacher Tom that HE wrote about that article. Teacher Tom wrote about it much more eloquently than I will (and he touched on every single important part of the article) so I don't need to get too far in to it here. Here's the jist, though: Young adults are landing themselves in therapy because, despite having had a great upbringing and having everything they could want in life, they just aren't happy.

This phenomenon (if you want to call it that) may directly correlate to parents who raise their kids with too much protection. Not letting them fall and scrape their knee without immediately swooping in before the kid even realized what happened. Not letting them experience a loss in something like a sporting event. Giving in to every discomfort, making it better for your child so they don't have to learn to make it better for themselves. "Good jobbing" our kids to death. You get the picture.

These kids grow up not having the ability to know how to experience a fall, literally or figuratively, dust themselves off, buck up, and move on. By doing everything for them, we effectively bypass this process for them.

It makes sense, right? Honestly, though, I can't think of many parts of parenting that are harder. Letting my children get hurt?!?! And standing by when I know I could run in and fix it?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I am not cut out for such things, and yet, these are the very things we need to be doing in order to raise kids who grow in to young adults and adults who can take care of themselves. If I want to raise well-adjusted children (and isn't that sorta the goal?) then I need to back off.

So what does this have to do with both of my girls being in therapy? I don't really know. Sorry, I suppose I should have warned you that I wasn't quite sure how to segue between these two thoughts. But I obviously I think quite a bit about how the way these girls are being raised will prepare them for the rest of their lives on how therapy fits in with that big picture. In fact, I might be a wee bit obsessed with it.

I hope all of the therapy now will pay off in dividends as the girls grow.Maybe we'll head off the need for therapy later? Let's hope so. Get back to me in about 20 years.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How rude.

Iris's therapist may be the most annoying person I know.

Let me explain.

We (and by "we" I mean Iris and I, but mostly Iris) have been seeing her for a few months now. We both really like her, meaning, she is really nice and easy to talk to and Iris is fond of her. It is important that Iris actually likes her because they do one-on-one therapy without me in the room.

So today I am sitting in the therapist's office, with Iris, chatting about some challenges we have had recently. The therapist asked how bedtime was going, so I rolled my eyes and said "terrible". Remember when I wrote this post about our new and improved bedtime routine? About how we stopped fighting to get Iris to bed at the same time as Eloise and let her stay up later? It was great, for a while, but we have definitely realized that we traded one problem for another. Iris no longer fights and screams and keeps her sister awake (yay!) but now she is up super late and so I literally go to bed and wake up at the same time she does every day. Any parent knows how precious that time is between the time your kids go to bed and you do. Ahhhh, peace! Quiet! So we don't have that anymore.

I am on a tangent.

So today the therapist says "I think you need to just have Iris go back to the same bedtime as Eloise and say 'goodnight' and turn off the lights and leave the room and eventually she will learn she needs to quiet down and go to sleep. It might take a week of rough bedtimes, but she will get it."

Um, riiiiiiight. The reason we moved Iris to a later bedtime is that we literally tried for MONTHS to make this happen. Months, people. On our luckiest nights Iris would be quiet while Eloise fell asleep. On our unlucky nights (ie most of the time) Iris would scream and cry and keep Eloise awake and make all of our lives hell. But she never, ever fell asleep before 10:00.

What is so annoying is that I don't understand why our therapist would give me this piece of advice. If the solution really were that easy, do you think we would be in therapy? I wish I could have her come to my house and witness what actually happens here.

I honestly think the only solution to the sleep woes in this house are separate bedrooms for each of us, which is, oh, about two more bedrooms than we actually have right now. Every single person has such different sleep needs that there really is no other rational answer.

The other gem I got today was "it sounds like Iris is ruling the house". And you know what is annoying about that? 1) it is probably true, and 2) I feel like I am one of the most strict mothers I know and STILL my children often are not listening to me and end up doing whatever they want, despite any kind of discipline I use.

I hope you can feel the frustration oozing right off of your screen. If so, you certainly got the intent of the post.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My sweet girl turns seven

I have reached the point that I no longer want to write these birthday posts. Every year I document my beautiful daughter growing at a rate that I swear is equal to the speed of light times a billion infinities. I asked Iris if she could please stop growing. We would still throw parties for her every year, a "birthday" party of sorts, but instead of getting older, she would just stay the same age. She didn't agree.

So here we go.

Iris, when you were born seven years ago today I was so scared. It was me and you against the world and I just prayed that I could be a decent mommy to you. I didn't look forward to the next day, week or month, it was all about what was happening in the moment. If someone had told me on that day anything about who you would be at seven I wouldn't have believed them. I couldn't even imagine what the next seven years would bring for us.

I had no idea, that day when you became my daughter, I would become the most amazing thing I could ever imagine becoming: a mother. YOUR mother. Thank you.

You have the most amazing imagination of anyone I have ever known. You picked up crayons at 14 months old and from that day forward you never stopped drawing. I wish I could live just one day in the worlds that you create.

You desire both security and independence. Watching you slowly distance yourself from my protection has been both heartbreaking and thrilling. I wish I could both snuggle you in to my lap for the rest of your life and stand aside beaming while you take off and spread your wings.

Unlike the day of your birth, I can now look forward and attempt to imagine who you will be in the future. What will our mother-daughter bond look like when you are a teenager? When you move away from home and go to college? When you have your first child and become a mother yourself?

Today we celebrated your birthday with friends at the rollerskating rink. I didn't get to spend very much time with you until the very end, when you asked me to skate with you. I reached out my hand, thinking you meant that we would skate together holding hands.

You ignored my hand and skated quickly past me. I sped up to catch up to you. We took several spins around the rink with me skating about as fast as I could just to keep up with you. I imagined this scenario, played out across many facets of our life. I was proud of your strength. That was the happiest moment of my whole day.

This year I was so excited to bring you to Hawaii and experience so many things together for the first time in either of our lives. We both swam in the ocean for the first time. We snorkeled for the first time. We saw sea turtles for the first time. We both took our longest flight ever. We watched spinner dolphins leap and play around us. We watched the sun set over the ocean from the beach.

I watched you swim with such bravery. I knew you were physically capable of swimming across deep water, you just needed the confidence. In Hawaii, you found it. You jumped right in to the ocean right off the back of a boat without a hint of doubt.

As a child who can easily be overcome by fear, it was an especially tremendous feat.

I am so proud of you, Iris, and I love you. Happy Birthday. Seven is going to be a great year for you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A break in the Maui posts (or, back to regularily scheduled life)

Ah, life. Real live life. I want to go back to Maui. Real life doesn't seem to happen there. Here are my jumbled thoughts:

We have been back for almost two weeks and we still aren't back on PST. I am going to bed/waking up a full two hours later than I did before Hawaii. Ugh. I want to get to bed earlier, but the girls are going to bed later and then everything else happens later. One of these mornings I should rip us all out of bed at 5:00 am to reset our internal clocks.

Iris has been out of school since we got back and it's been an interesting adjustment. I have kids home with me 24/7, which of course is what I signed up for, but still it's an adjustment. The girls are doing remarkably well despite having so much more time together during the week, but Eloise still gets a two day per week "break" when she goes to preschool. I am working on finding a babysitter to help me out a little bit and I had no idea it would be such a hard process!

Last week I met some amazing families who are working on forming a small program for their home schooled kids that would meet a few hours a week with formal Waldorf instruction. It would be the most perfect situation for Iris and I am crossing my fingers and toes it works out. We just need one or two more families to join.

On Sunday I sold my wedding dress, the one that was handmade for me by an amazing local designer. It's an extremely unique dress, and I am a pretty unique size (six feet tall) so I have had it half-heartedly listed for sale on one post on a message board for over two years with no serious interest. Last week a woman saw my very old post and contacted me. Not only were we virtually the same size, but she lives in the same city my sister does so I sent my dress to my sister and the gal went to try it on and loved it. I thought it was going to be hard for me to let go, but the opposite was true. I am so thrilled someone else will get some joy out of wearing the dress.

My big girl lost her first tooth and is turning seven at the end of the week. Where is the time going? Seven. Surreal. Look forward to a post about that!

My little girl got in to the public school that we wanted her to get in to so we are happy about that. It is our first foray in to public school, up until now we've had the girls in private school. So next year Iris will be home schooled and Eloise public schooled. We have been having all sorts of shiny happy moments come up that solidify our decision to send Eloise to this school so it's all very exciting. I have to say, though, I am pretty sad about sending Eloise to full day school. I do not want her to go. SHE wants to go. I told her I would pick her up before lunch every day and she looked at me like I was insane. "No, I want to stay for lunch!" she said. UGH! Who is this kid? I want her to stay little. Honestly I am more stressed about sending Eloise away to full day, full week school than I am about homeschooling a second grader.

I am ready for summer. Being in Maui gave me a taste for warm weather and I can't stand that June in Seattle means highs in the mid 60's.

Okay, I think I will end there.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Maui's tacos are delicious

On Monday morning Matt and my mom took Iris snorkeling with the turtles. I stayed behind in our room with Eloise, but I heard a turtle came right up to Iris. I can't say enough how amazed I was at the girls' snorkeling abilities. Because they were able to snorkel they could see so many more amazing things than they ever would have seen from above the water. I really wish we would have at least taken pictures of the girls snorkeling in the ocean. Guess we'll have to go back!

At lunch time Matt and the girls drove my mom and I up to the Honolua Store in Kapalua, which was just north of Napili where we were staying. While Napili has a more old-school Hawaiian vibe (read: lower rent) Kapalua is home of the Ritz-Carlton resort. Need I say more?

We had a yummy lunch and headed out to hike back to Napili Village (where we were staying) on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, which I wrote about in my first post. The sites from the trail were beautiful.

One interesting bit of information is that the Ritz-Carlton is built back away from the ocean a bit with a sprawling golf course like lawn stretching between the resort and the beach. Why the lawn? Well, apparently when the R-C was supposed to be on the water. When they began construction it was discovered they were on top of a burial ground. Hawaiians protested the excavation of their ancestors bodies and R-C didn't concede until they had unearthed 500 bodies. Really R-C? You didn't think it would be a good idea to stop digging up dead people after the first, I don't know, 200 or so?

But anyways! The view of the ocean from the Kapalua Coastal Trail is amazing.

The Honolua Store. Delicious sandwiches. 10 outta 10.

Part of the trail.

These three pictures above were from a beautiful part of the south end of Oneloa Bay.

Oneloa Bay. I thought it was so interesting that you could find a beach like this (big waves, not too hospitable) just a bit away from a beach like this one below, which is Kapalua Bay/Kapalua Beach. We never got to spend time on Kapalua Beach, much to my dismay, but it looked lovely from the trail!

Coming up on Napili Bay.

Later in the day my mom and I went back to snorkel in the turtle cove. The tide had come in and several of the turtles were up feeding on the edge of a rock ledge that was under water, but previously was exposed enough to walk on. There weren't too many turtles to be found on the bottom of the cove, but it was so much fun watching the sea turtles bob and roll in the waves as they tried to stay on the edge. We tried our hardest to get pictures and video but didn't come up with anything too terribly extraordinary. Clearly, plenty of beautiful sea turtle pictures could be found elsewhere, but we were proud our measly shots!

Oh hi honu!

You know what we had for dinner that night? Maui Tacos! Yum yum.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Blowhole, baby!

I just got a comment from Kristen that she had been in the same place we were in Maui. So fun! Right now there is nothing I love more than chatting with people who have been to Maui, so I would love your comments! What did you do there? Where did you stay? Any highlights to mention?

When we poured through our Maui Revealed book at home Iris labelled several things with sticky notes that she didn't want to miss while we were there. One of those was the Nakalele Blowhole. None of us knew what to expect other than our friends (the ones who were staying at the Westin that the amazing pool photos were taken at) told us to wear sturdy shoes. I am glad they told us that, as most of us certainly would have worn flip flops.

What can I say about this "must-see" Maui feature? First of all, when you are hiking down to it, you feel like A) there really is no trail and you're just going to get lost and need to be rescued by a helicopter. Luckily there was a group ahead of us who seemed to know where they were going so we more or less followed them. B) that you are in some bizarre world, maybe like the moon or something, but a moon that has a roaring ocean the most amazing colors of blue. The rock formations are so surreal.

The blowhole was pretty cool. There is a spot in the rocks that has been worn away by the ocean so when a big wave crashes in to the rocks it shoots water up many many feet in to the air in a jaw-dropping show.

This post needs pictures, so without further ado:

On our way down to the blowhole. I wish these pictures REALLY captured the color of the water. It was so many different shades of blue. Of all of the time I've spent in the water in my life, I had never seen anything like that.

Our fearless leader!

The blowhole. That tiny little peach colored person off to the left is me.

Sort of hard to get the full effect without some scale, but it was very far above our heads!

Looking down at the blowhole from a ledge.

The blowhole was off to the left just out of frame in this photo. That is a huge wave crashing in to those rocks. It was the second one that came up and I grabbed my camera after the first hoping I would catch another one. The first one seriously looked like it was going to wash all of those people away, lucky for them it didn't!

On the hike back up. That's my ma. If you click on that picture to see it bigger you will notice how cool the rocks are up close. I *think* they got that way from the salt eroding them.

The hike back up.

When I posted this last picture on Facebook I titled it something like "on the path back up from the blowhole". Matt's cousin commented "path?" And I said "exactly." People, there was NO path. It is amazing we weren't left to die in the sun circled by vultures. Or wait, I guess we just could have waited for someone to pass us on the way back and followed them. But that isn't so dramatic to say.

After this we headed back to our headquarters and lounged the rest of the day. We deserved it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

When we really snorkeled with sea turtles

On Saturday morning my mom and I decided to check out Honokeana Cove just south of Napili Bay that we heard rumors about many sea turtles inhabiting.

We weren't disappointed. There were at least a dozen sea turtles either on the bottom of the cove in the coral, up on the surface, or in transit somewhere between the surface and the bottom. It was amazing. If you click on that link above you will see the pictures that we wish we had taken. That is EXACTLY what it looked like.

After snorkeling Matt and I took the girls to meet some friends of ours at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas to partake in the amazing, sprawling pool. The resort was pretty fantastic looking.

When it was time to take a break from swimming we went in to Lahaina to eat lunch at Aloha Mixed Plate. I wasn't impressed with the food, but the view was amazing. It had canvas tarps for a roof and no walls or anything. I guess in Hawaii you don't need walls!

We had previously decided we wouldn't go to a luau on this trip but we still wanted to see some hula dancers. The keiki hula show at the Lahaina Cannery Mall didn't disappoint. Yes, it was a hula show in the middle of a mall, but it was pretty fun all the same.

The rest of the day was spent in the pool, reading, lounging, eating and playing Uno. Ahhhhh.

The giant pool at the Westin.

A hilarious picture of Matt and Eloise at Aloha Mixed Plate.

The view from our table.

The hula show. Our favorites were the teeny little girls in the middle.

Iris and Eloise make sand angels at the beach.

Monday, June 06, 2011

When we first snorkeled with sea turtles*

Things started to get really fun on Friday of our Maui vacation. We woke up early (well, early for Maui. Luckily we were all still on PST or, in my mother's case, EST) and headed to Maalea Harbor for our five hour tour (oh man, I can't believe we never ONCE sang the Gilligan's Island song when we were on the boat!) on a boat named Lani Kai. Actually, the boat went to Molokini, which is where pretty much every boat takes passengers to snorkel. Molokini is a volcanic crater that has some great snorkeling, or at least, that's what we were told. You know, it probably wouldn't take much to convince us, being that four of the five of us have never been snorkeling before.

But truly, it was amazing. Crystal clear water and tons of coral and vibrant fish. We bought an underwater camera but all of our pictures look like green murk. Ah, well. We have our memories!

The girls jumped right in to the ocean, no fear whatsoever, outfitted in a wet suit and snorkel gear. They swam all over and had a great time. Later the gal who was the crew member on our boat said the girls were some of the best kids she has seen on the boat, so that was nice to hear!

This is a view as we approached Molokini. Impressive, no?

After snorkeling the girls had a blast going off the slide on the front of the boat. There was a pretty decent drop off at the end of the slide!

All five of us after we had snorkeled and, I think, eaten lunch. The lady in the background was my favorite passenger. She didn't snorkel, I think she was someone's mom who was snorkeling. She just drank a lot and sat in the sun. On the way back to the harbor there was a huge amount of spray hitting the front of the boat and she was the only one up there and getting completely drenched. Okay, maybe you had to be there, but it was funny at the time!

One exhausted little girl!

Iris and I. Iris ended up falling asleep on me later in the trip. I don't know that she has ever done that since she was a baby.

Eloise and I. I was a big fan of the self-portrait shots on our trip.

The highlight of the whole boat trip was a pod of spinner dolphins (yes, I had to look up what a group of dolphins was called) that swam up to our boat to play. They swam along the front and the side of the boat spinning along the way. It was absolutely amazing.

This isn't the best shot, but my mom and the girls were laying on these trampoline type things on the front of the boat (it was a catamaran) and could practically have reached down and touched the dolphins that were underneath them. I think there was about 15 or so, it was hard to tell.

And two last pictures that were some of my favorites from that night:

My mom and Eloise walking on the beach.

The sunset was amazing.

*only Iris and I saw a (yes, one lone) sea turtle on our boat trip. Thankfully, there was many more to come in our future!

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Why Aloha? We just returned from a magical, amazing, relaxing, fantastic vacation in Maui. Oh, how I loved it. Iris was crying when we left the vacation condos we stayed in, and I have to say, I completely understood why. I have never been on a "real" vacation in my life, so this was extra fun. Will definitely be counting down the days until we return!

We stayed at a place called Napili Village, which I would highly recommend if you ever want to go to Maui and have a laid back, relatively inexpensive (everything on Maui is expensive), smallish place to crash that is close to beautiful beaches and great snorkeling.

Due to the time difference (Maui is three hours behind Seattle) we got in just before lunch on Wednesday. Despite being tired from a long flight and a pretty crappy experience dealing with the gate agents at the airport, we were ready to get outside and start our vacation!

We changed in to our warm weather clothes and headed down to Napili Beach to check it out. For some reason it didn't really occur to us that if you're on the beach and anywhere near the water, you're going to get wet. You know, waves and all. Here's my mom and Matt in the aftermath of a wave. I was wearing my jeans, although rolled up, I still was pretty soaked.

This guy was playing his guitar and singing reggae songs over a recorded beat. It was kind of neat to have a live soundtrack to our introduction to the ocean. We didn't find out until the next day that he, and the crowd of people around him, was there for a "going away" party for someone who was returning to the mainland.

We took pictures of the sunset every night we could. It was so beautiful. The sun sets much earlier in Maui than it does in Seattle. We had to catch it at about 6:30 and it was pretty much down by 7:00.

Iris and Eloise made a little friend on the beach. He initially walked over to Iris and said "will you dance with me?" He was small, I would guess four. It was so sweet. Iris didn't want to dance, so he asked Eloise. She didn't either so the three of them started playing a game where they sat on the sand and waited for the waves to pull them down towards the water. Needless to say, the girls were absolutely FULL of sand by the time we left.

A kind stranger took this picture of my mom, Eloise and I on Napili Beach at sunset. Ahhhh . . .

On Thursday morning we rented our snorkeling gear for the week. All of us, including the girls, got gear. I had no idea how they would like it, or if they would even try it. Well, I think the picture below pretty much answers that question. Once they got the gear on, they took off. No learning curve whatsoever. Matt, the girls and I had to learn in the pool at the condos where we stayed.

Our little island girls all dressed up in their sarongs! My mom brought these along for the trip.

The palm trees overhead were incredibly tall and swayed in the breeze all day long. They were so pretty!

In the afternoon we "hiked" the first part of the Kapalua Coastal Trail. It went past Kapalua Beach and the Ritz Carlton resort then out on a point that held some amazing views and also housed birds who made their nests in holes underground.

Here's the fam hamming it up behind a cool tree.

Here we are out on the point along the trail.

Self-portrait of Eloise and I on the trail.

This was a walkway along the north side of Napili Bay.

Our day was punctuated by Iris getting a pretty fantastic sunburn despite putting sunscreen on her approximately three billion times. I guess when you're a fair-skinned red head on an island close the equator no sunscreen in the world will help you not burn.

It's also pretty fun to be able to walk around shoeless and either entirely or half-clothed in a swimsuit and no one thinks anything about it.