Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who are these kids, anyways?

We may never get to leave the country. I wrote a while back about how I am attempting to get all of our ducks in a row so that we can all get passports. Pretty easy for Matt and I, not so much for the girls.


I am now on try THREE to get the girls' names changed on their social security cards and on try TWO to get their names changed on their birth certificates. I have to get the birth certificates changed so that I can get the SS cards changed.


I have to add, I'm a little irked at this whole entire process, but you know what really irks me? That because my girls' last names changed when they were two and four years old, I have to go back and change the birth certificates. I always thought that the birth certificate was the record of who the child was at birth, not who they eventually became after that. Hrmpf.


Oh, well.


Of course, the first two times I tried to get the social security cards they said NOT to send the birth certificates as proof of identification. Now this time the person I spoke with at the social security office said I have to get them changed and then send the certificates in to them. You'd think there would be some sort of rhyme or reason to all of this, clearly there is not.


I will probably get this all completed just in time for the girls to have a nice high school graduation gift of a trip to Europe.


Ha! Trip to Europe. I kill myself!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Sorry

Last week as Eloise's circle time for preschool ended, and the kids were saying goodbye to their moms and dads, Eloise clung to me for a bit, saying she wanted to come home with me. I snuggled her for a while and told her about allllll of the boring things I was planning on doing today, which helped her realize that coming back home with me wasn't really her favorite choice. After a couple of minutes she hugged and kissed me and ran off to play.


I got up and left the room, and as I closed the door behind me I heard a voice say, "are you Eloise's mom?" and I turned and looked I saw a woman who I recognized as the mom of one of Eloise's classmates. "I am, hi!" I spoke, thinking to myself, oh, is this person going to ask us for a play date? Wouldn't that be nice?


"I am so-and-so's mom" (protecting the kid's name here) she began. I smiled. "So-and-so said that Eloise hit her in the eye with a spoon on Tuesday." She lifted her hand to her left eye for emphasis. My heart sunk. Clearly a play date wasn't on her mind. "Oh," I replied. "I am so sorry. Is so-and-so okay?" She answered yes, she was, and continued, "I told so-and-so that I would tell you." At this point I had no idea what to say, so I paused for a second before speaking. "Did Ms. Teacher know about it?" I asked. She said yes. "Oh, good. I'm really sorry." With that we both went our separate ways.


You may (or may not, who knows) be surprised to learn that this was the first time that I have ever been approached by one of Eloise's classmates about something E did to their child in school. I suppose it's surprising in that of the multitude of crimes Eloise has committed against her little friends in school, another parent has never come to me about it. The teacher comes to me about some of it (most of it? I have no idea. I didn't know about this particular one.) and I feel like that is enough for me.


The truth is, I'm not there. I don't know what happened. I don't know what my kid did to yours, or your kid did to mine-- did your kid push mine first? Give her the evil eye? Or maybe nothing, maybe my kid went off the handle completely unprovoked (hey, it's been known to happen) but at any rate, we'll never really know.


But I don't really know what this other parent wanted from me, if anything. Maybe she just wanted me to know? My kids have been hurt by other kids countless times at school, and it never once occurred to me to go up to the other kid's parent and tell them about it, because I leave it in the school's hands. I wasn't there, I don't really know what happened.


Have you ever approached a parent of a classmate's of your child? What was your intention? Have you ever been approached? How did you respond?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Parenting class take two, night one

Last night I started a new parenting class. If you have been reading here for a year or more you may remember that I did a parenting class last Winter/Spring. It was a decent class, overall, but it had a terrible "my way or the highway" instructor and the material did not quite fit my situation, which was incredibly frustrating. I then wrote off all parenting classes and books, figuring that no one knows my child as well as I do and I don't need any darn generalized books or classes to help me deal with a very specific child.

Then I found a new therapist for Iris and she recommended a class that was geared directly towards kids who are more of a challenge to parent. It looked like a very intense course with a lot of reading and homework and many hours of instruction. It sounded like it was right up my alley, so I signed Matt and I up.

Last night was the first class and though it was long, it was a great start. It was relieving to shake my head in agreement every time a parent spoke of ways that they struggle with their intense child instead of sit and think, "oh, my experience is SO much different than that!"

Anyways.

Last night we discussed two different things which already really struck a chord in me. The first thing was that we need to be extremely careful what we say about our child when they are in ear shot and to not give our child labels. As I sat and thought about this I realized that I am constantly labelling my kids-- and not in good ways, even if I am trying to be funny (like calling Eloise a Drama Queen). We went around the class and shared labels we were given as kids that have still stuck in to our adulthood. It was a real eye-opener how pervasive it can be. If you call a child a label, they will start to believe that about themselves. And a child who believes they are slow, or lazy, or out of control, or dumb, or dramatic, or ANYTHING, will carry that with them and make it who they are.

So, do not apply specific negative labels to your child. You can say "I feel like you are moving very slowly" but not "you are always such a slowpoke!"

You CAN, however, apply specific positive labels to your child ie, "you are such a great helper!" or "you're so loving to your sister!" when you see them exhibit this behavior.

The other thing is not to speak negatively about your child if there is any chance at all that they can hear you. For example, if you are telling your friend about a way your daughter struggles in school, "So-and-so is always acting up in school, I don't even know what to do with her anymore! She is so hard to discipline!" then your child will internalize that message and make it true about herself.

Of course, you can talk about what you need to with other people, just don't do it anywhere near where your child can hear!

If your child is within earshot, then a way to speak about them, which will help increase their self-esteem, is this: "You know, little by little, so-and-so is working on being nice at school and making friends. She is really improving every day!" This is a message that your child will want to internalize and make true about themselves. You're not making things up, or ignoring negative behaviors, you're just putting a positive spin on them and sending the message that your child can improve, they can do a great job, and that you care enough that you are sharing this with someone else.

These two ideas really struck me because I totally do them both. I mean, I don't sit there and yammer on and on about how awful my children are behaving, but I definitely do mention things in front of them. From now on, nixing that behavior.

The second thing we talked about is making time daily to spend playing with our children one-on-one. Each parent needs to make a schedule to do this and put away all phones, computers and any other distractions and just let the child lead the play. Let them know that this is special mama/kid time and that you are fully there for them to play whatever they would like.

We need to make a schedule for this, but I am excited to work on it. I very rarely play with my girls, pretty much never with Iris (since she is so self-sufficient in her play) and when I play with Eloise, it's usually with one eye on my phone or the laptop. She rarely gets me, all of me, focused and playing with her.

So that's what we're working on this week. Looking forward to next week's class!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reading goal update

As of this very moment I have finished 12 books out of a goal of fifty for the year. I am just over half-way done with three more. Assuming I finish those three before the month is over (easily doable) my total will be 15 books in three months, with 35 left.

At the rate I am reading, which is an average of five per month, I will have finished 60 by the end of the year.

I have to say that I have read little "light reading" so far this year. I consider a book I can finish in a day, or two at most, to be light reading. Some of the monsters I've slogged through took me close to two months (like Cutting for Stone).


I think once I am done with the parenting books on my list and A Million Little Pieces (hello feel-good-hit-of-the-year!) I am going to go back to reading some YA novels I have been looking forward to, like the second and third in the series The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I am also looking forward to Sarah Dessen's new novel What Happened to Goodbye, which is being released just in time for me to take it to Maui. Whee!!!!



Oh, but there are so many more! I want to start reading the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and finally-- finally!-- read the YA novels I picked up last Fall at the public library's book sale. I may never get to them.

Every so often I get the itch to re-read a Twilight novel, too. Oh, if only there were more time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs

Over the past three weeks or so I have started putting in to place some very clear and defined expectations of certain routines in the house-- how the morning routine goes, how the bedtime routine goes and how the clean-up routine goes. I went so far as to post signs throughout the house describing exactly what the routine is, when it should happen and what, if any, repercussions there are if it isn't finished in a timely manner. I thought to myself, oh man, I am really putting on my hard-ass hat now. I hate being a mother who barks orders at her kids all day long, and this is just going to make it worse! But you know what? It has already helped immensely.

Here are two of the signs that I have posted. Eloise can't read them, but Iris (and her parents!) can. Now that we have been adhering to these specific routines we never have to read them, but they still serve as a simple visual reminder to us all.


Case in point: this morning when Eloise woke up and wanted to head upstairs before anyone else Iris reminded her "you need to get dressed, brush your teeth and hair before you can play!" Oh, my heart swelled. She really does get it. And for the most part, they just do it now, with very little coaxing. Sometimes I will say, "It looks like you are playing with that toy, are your teeth brushed?" and they will drop the toy and head towards the bathroom.

The morning routine involves basically being completely ready for school before playing or watching tv. In the past the struggle was the girls would get up and jump in to play and then it would be 10 minutes before we had to leave and I would start screaming for them to get dressed and all of the rest.

The bedtime routine involves a specific order things are done in and time that it begins. I would say bedtime in our house was always so all over the map, the girls never quite knew what was going to happen. Basically the routine truly starts at 6:30, which is when I tell the girls they have half an hour to get the playroom cleaned. Once 7:00 hits they get a tv show (or lately they have been choosing to play with a couple of toys a little longer instead of tv) and then at 7:30 the teeth brushing and all of that begin. The other huge change we made a while back in the bedtime routine is that Iris can come back upstairs after books are read to stay up a little later and wind down.

The biggest hurdle we've been overcoming (I won't say "overcome" because that is a sure-fire way to make it all fall apart!) is the playroom clean-up. My children have a huge, beautiful room filled with toys, games, books, arts and craft supplies, dress-up bins, etc etc. They tend to make huge messes and be really lazy at cleaning it. I got so mad the other night I made a rule: if the playroom isn't cleaned by 7:00 pm then it is CLOSED (and the toys in it unavailable) the whole next day. So far, it's turned out to be a pretty awesome motivator and I haven't yet had to close the playroom (god help me when I actually do! lol). Not only that, but I've had to set clear expectations for what clean means (lord knows that every person in this house has a different definition). The toys have got to be in their correct bins. The desk has to be clear of everything that has a home somewhere else. The floor has to be clear of toys that have homes, etc etc. The playroom clean-up does extend to the rest of the house in that if there are toys in other rooms, they need to be put back in the playroom.

While the girls are cleaning the playroom, I do my own chores so that we are all working at the same time. Usually I clean up in the kitchen. I announce periodic time updates, ie "15 minutes left!" and that is IT. I will usually do a walk-through about five minutes before closing time to see if they have missed anything, but I don't help them.

It might be worth noting that there is no morning routine on Fri-Sun when neither girl is in school. Sometimes the bedtime routine will get pushed a little later Thu-Sat night but I very much wish it didn't. The consistency seems to help immensely. Of course, we do have other things come up in our life or choose to do a movie night or something, in which case the routines are the same, just pushed back a bit.

So, on the one hand, I have cracked down hard on expectations. On the other hand? I fight SO, SO, SOOOOOO much less with my children over the daily routines. I actually bark orders less than ever, because I don't need to. They know what to expect and so do I. It's quite relieving.

We are still very much working on other things, like how Iris is expressing her anger-- but I am working on setting up expectations with that, as well. I am also working on praising all of the good behavior I see and letting her (and her sister) know that such-and-such thing they just did is wonderful and exactly what I want to see from her.

I see Iris getting it. Some days are harder than others, but it is definitely heading towards overall improvement.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Re-entry is tough

My husband finally got back last night after an 11 day work trip. I think that was the longest one yet. I already wrote about how the days went for us, so now I get to say, this was an extra tough re-entry. And it isn't even a real re-entry because he leaves again tomorrow. So the real re-entry comes in a few days. Nice to have that to look forward to.

We have already discovered that it is extremely hard on the girls when Matt gets home. They of course missed him a ton and are excited to see him but they totally fall apart. After many days of doing so, so well, it's tough to watch them struggle. And it is tough to deal with. I am tired, Matt is tired, the girls are tired . . . you get the idea.

The icing on the cake was this big announcement in the cell phone industry today that caused my husband to have be on the phone and do work that he shouldn't have had to do on a Sunday. What is wrong with people?! It's Sunday! Don't release big news on Sunday! To help alleviate the stress I ran a work errand for him. Yep, so much for using the 36 hours he was home to rest and be with the family!

I decided that the one thing I really wanted to do today was go see 127 hours. By myself. I walked the almost three miles to the theater and back so I could have a little treat during the movie. The movie isn't exactly the settle in and relax and de-stress kind of flick. God, it was downright awful. But in an amazing way. I cried my eyes out at the end. And then felt sad and weird the whole walk/jog home.

When I got home Eloise was still awake and crying. Daddy wouldn't do for bedtime, though I could tell she wanted him to, it was just hard. She cried and asked him not to go again tomorrow. Thank god this is his last trip for a while (or so we hope).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Solo parenting

With my husband out of town for the better part of almost two weeks, the girls and I got all sorts of fun, well, girl time in. Overall, we really had a blast. I know, shocking, right?

It seems there are three phases to how well I have dealt with Matt's business travel:

-barely scrape by (this phase was mostly around the time Eloise was 0-2)
-tolerate it (this phase was from Eloise being about 2-4)
-really enjoy it (we're here!)

With the girls getting older, and therefor more independent (and, let's face it, in school more) having our girl time has become a real treat. We definitely develop a rhythm to our days that is unique to just the three of us. I find my mornings and evenings become less of a struggle with them, as well, when I am dealing with them on my own. It seems like they just know how I work and it isn't any question as to who is doing bedtimes and how it's going to go.

Matt travels fairly often and many times I take the opportunity to do some house projects, or have our handyman come over to do some. This time was no exception! I bought the girls bunk beds, got rid of their old beds and completely re-arranged the sleeping arrangements in this house. Since our house is so small and the girls had the biggest bedroom, it didn't really make much sense that they spent very, very little of their time in there and often slept with me. So I decided to turn their room in to the family bedroom. Pretty unconventional, I know, but nothing about the sleeping arrangements in this family are conventional, so there you have it. So far it's okay. I miss having "my room" but you know what? It very rarely was just mine anyways, so it's no biggie. Some day we'll have a giant house and everyone can have their own rooms. A girl can dream, right? Ha.

In addition to switching up the two bedrooms in the house I also completely re-did the girls' playroom. I have changed this room countless times over the last 20 months or so, as our needs for it keep changing. Well, that and I get bored and like to switch things up. It's one room I can really have fun with. There is more space in it now so have we room to put in more bookshelves to store our homeschooling stuff for Iris.

Of course, when Matt is away, we also take more time to do fun things together, which doesn't really hurt our enjoyment factor of his travels. One of my big ideas for this time with Matt away was to take the girls on a "staycation" downtown in Seattle. It was a great idea, in theory, and things went swimmingly until bedtime on our second night in the hotel.

It was at that point that it turned in to an extremely difficult and brutal situation with my girls acting out and me getting angry which eventually devolved in to all three of us totally losing our shit. I don't really feel like hashing out the details here, suffice to say it was traumatic, if not a little life-changing situation. We left the hotel very late and I spent most of the rest of the night crying. I was incredibly grateful for my friend and mom who both offered some much needed support and talked me off the ledge come morning.

What is interesting about situations like that night is that when you make it through to the other side, you have a bit of a different way of looking at things and you make new game plans for handling things.

So, anyways, that was rough, but it didn't shake us. We still consider this time with Matt away a real success. I will definitely try to plan more fun things the next time he is gone (oh wait, that is already next week!) but probably not anything as monumental as two nights in a hotel.
While I keep feeling like the difficult last night in the hotel overshadows everything, we did have tons of fun. The girls and I swam in the pool, took several baths in the jacuzzi, went out to dinner, ordered in, went to a movie, went to the ballet, explored the Seattle Center (see pictures), went to the candy store, rode the monorail, had friends to visit with and watched a lot of Nickelodeon! Wow, writing all that out, maybe we were just on fun overload by the end?
Last night when she was falling asleep, Eloise said her two favorite days were St. Patrick's Day and "the hotel day" (I think she is lumping it all in to one). I was glad to hear that even though our hotel trip ended in flames, she still has good memories of all of the fun we DID have.
Over the last several days I kept meaning to take a "me day" where I did nothing but lay on the couch and watch movies or something. It never happened, which is okay. Mostly I just enjoyed doing all of my little projects and having quiet at home to work on things.

I feel so grateful to have reached a place of contentment with Matt's travel. It wasn't that long ago that my anxiety over it almost paralyzed me and I needed to line up people to come and help me out with the girls. It's definitely nice to leave that all behind me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh gluten, you wascly wabbit

I was just looking back on my blog to see exactly how long it had been since I went gluten free. It basically started the day I started my elimination diet which was at the beginning of April 2010. When I did the elimination diet I really did start feeling better and I thought that at the end of the diet, when I challenged gluten and felt terrible, that I had hit the nail on the head. That was it! Gluten was the source of all of my physical woes!


I have been off gluten, more or less, for many months. Right after I was officially done with the elimination diet I "cheated" by eating a bite of gluten here and there without any obvious consequences. Then after being off of it for a while I had a bite of pizza (the "infamous bite of pizza" in my life) and within the hour started having horrible cramps and felt incredibly awful for two and a half days. Of course, it must have been the gluten!, I thought.

Oh man, after that, I stayed far, far away.

Then came this last Wednesday. Looking for a sweet treat at Target I grabbed a bag of Nibs, those little cherry flavored candies by Twizzlers. I had eaten most of a bag before looking at the label-- the ingredient right after sugar? Wheat flour. Ruh roh. I braced myself for the worst and then, interestingly, the worst never came.

Hmmm. Verrrrry interesting. Being as curious as I am, I decided to test this information. I had a tiny bite of my daughter's cinnamon roll this morning. Again, nothing. And for lunch today? I was given some pita wedges with my salad, and I ate one small one. Still nothing.

So what gives?

I have the results of a celiac test (done via biopsy) coming soon, and honestly I thought it was going to be positive. I thought the reason I was still feeling so bad was that I wasn't being quite careful enough-- still eating things that were made on equipment shared with wheat (therefor not certified gluten-free), for instance.

Now though? I have to wonder if those times I felt really awful around eating gluten was a coincidence. Because today I didn't feel awful. And lots of days I DO feel awful.

I'm a little sad that I will be reporting this info to my GI doc. It will likely mean I don't have celiacs and so far the three major tests I have had done to check out my insides have turned up nothing but beautiful, pink, healthy insides. I SO WANT SOMETHING TO BE WRONG! Which is so weird to say, but it's true. If something obvious is wrong with me, then something obvious will be the solution.

I can't even let myself believe I can eat gluten again. Nope, not going to go there yet. My diet has gotten infinitely better since I went off of it, and without that limitation, it will be tough to not slide back in to a carb-filled oblivion.

Anyone else have any experience like this? Just curious.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Yeesh.

My littlest daughter, Eloise, has a special talent. At least 90% of the time she spills whatever she drinks that isn't in a special lidded cup. It's so amazing. I keep giving her drinks in cups that don't have water tight lids and they keep getting spilled. You would think I would learn. But I don't.

We are on spill three today alone. And yes, she does clean them all up herself. I keep the rags in a low spot just for her.

I think that if a child doesn't have the opportunity to practice using a regular cup, well, it could be kinda disastrous when she goes off to college and gets strange looks in the cafeteria for using a sippy cup.

Anyone else have a kid with a track record that impeccable?

Luckily her slippery finger don't transfer over to amazing physical abilities. Maybe it's more of a fine motor skill, being able to drink without spilling?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Remember last week when I posted THIS about what I had discussed with Iris's new therapist about our bedtime struggles?

Well, it's been seven nights now and I am so tickled pink to report that, adjusting for some skewed bedtimes that weren't our girls faults, every single night went great. Eloise seems to have adjusted nicely to her sister not being in the room when she goes to sleep. Iris has adjusted nicely to the new freedom of being able to stay upstairs so much later and work on her own stuff. She eats snacks, watches tv, plays on her ipod, all sorts of things. When she does go to bed she falls asleep pretty quickly. Most nights Iris and I have been going to bed at the same time, though I end up staying up a bit later reading.

Right now I am reading Hold on to Your Kids and it's a pretty good read. I like the message, but as you may (or may not) know, parenting books can be a little dull.

Iris hasn't complained of hunger at bedtime at all in the last week and save for some life curveballs, has generally been more pleasant in the mornings as well. Not perfect or saintly, but not screaming and difficult, either.

I'm quite proud of how we came to solve this problem. Looking forward to seeing how it progresses, as well.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Annoyances, cereal and signage

This blog post is literally about what is on my mind right this second.

First things first. If you are gluten-free, or even if you aren't, run, don't walk, to your nearest grocery retailer and buy cinnamon chex. Oh my good lord in heaven. When I became gluten free one of the things I was so sad to lose was my beloved cinnamon toast crunch cereal. But this chex, my friends, exactly hits the spot for me. Oh, yum. I am eating it dry right now. Washing it down with carrot/apple/blood orange/cucumber/ruby red grapefruit juice. And yes, that concoction does taste about as weird as it sounds. I think it's the grapefruit that puts it over the edge, but it's still drinkable.

Okay, my annoyances. As you well know, I gots lots, but here is tonight's. I am trying to get passports for my family so that not only can we travel the world, we can go visit some friends up on Vancouver Island.

Here's what I need to do in order to get my family passports:

Obtain copies of Matt's and my birth certificates (I already got mine in the mail, woohoo!)
Get new social security cards for the girls with their new last names on them. Their last names were changed from mine to Matt's when he and I got married. When I sent in the paperwork to the SS office shortly after the girls' name change I got it all back and a note saying I had submitted all the wrong stuff and needed to do all this other stuff. I never tried again. Until now.
Get a paternity affidavit for Eloise. When she was born Matt and I weren't married and in WA state if you aren't married you have to get a paternity affidavit to add the father to the birth certificate.
Since Matt isn't on E's birth certificate, we have to get a new one of those, too. In order to get a passport you need a form of ID that lists both parents as the parents of the child.

Had I know how tricky all of this crap would be having children out of wedlock I never would have done it. Ha!

Oh, then once ALL of that is done, THEN we can start the process of getting passports. That said, all of these things really did/do need to be done, anyways, so it's not that big of a deal. Just annoying.

And the last thing of the night. I am getting a leeeeetle bit tired of my family not remembering how the morning (before school) and evening (before bed) routines go, so I wrote them out in sharpie and posted them. We'll see if it works. You'd think doing both of these routines, oh, I don't know, about eleventy billion times would have burned the process in to their brains. Not so much. If the signage works, expect to see them everywhere in my house from here forward. I am so sick of repeating myself every. single. day.

But! Ending on a happy note. The girls and I are taking a "Staycation" and it is going to be so fun! Or, at least I hope. We will be close to the Seattle Center and downtown, so I'm envisioning going up in the Space Needle, riding the monorail, catching a movie, doing some shopping, eating out, swimming, taking baths (I specifically got a room with a jacuzzi tub because we have no bathtub in our house). So, that sounds like fun, right? A dear friend and her daughter, Iris's BFF, are going to come join in the fun as well, so we're definitely looking forward to it!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Marching through March

My friend Stephanie over at Built to Last started a walking challenge for herself this month and invited her readers to join her on the journey. The challenge is to log 60 miles of walking during the month of March. I think I am up for it! My only fear is that having my husband away quite a bit on business this month will make it harder-- but if I shift around the workouts I do so that I do the walking on the days my girls are in school, I should be able to accomplish the goal.

When I get out there, I walk anywhere between three and five miles-- so that means I will need 12 to 20 days of walking to meet the goal. Let's hope the weather doesn't hold the same rainy/blustery pattern it has so far this month, or I might be screwed :)

My walks have been incredibly enjoyable thanks to the audio books I listen to through Audible. Recently I signed up for a year of Audible and saved $100 on the purchase of two ipods for my girls-- win, win!

Check out this adorable button Stephanie made! This alone makes me want to do it. Maybe you, too?



I haven't written a ton about my weight loss journey on here, but it's going okay. I've been counting calories (a HUGE eye opener) and exercising about five days a week, usually doing a 30 Day Shred workout or walking (the walks include hills, at a speed of 3.5 MPH). Looking to be bikini ready by the end of May!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bedtime

Today Iris met her new therapist for the first time. I was excited for this to happen because I sensed Iris would really like her, even though Iris claimed she absolutely would NOT.

Already I got some great ideas for some things that have been a huge struggle at home.

I started the session by chatting about how Iris is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in the mornings, we never know who we are going to get. Yesterday morning I got up a couple of minutes before Iris and was already starting my day when she came upstairs from her room, fully dressed (including socks, which is amazing considering the sock battles we have every morning). She was happy, pleasant, kind, etc etc. Not one single word about how much she hated school/me/her sister/her breakfast/brushing her teeth, etc like I often hear. We got out the door and to school without a single memorable "bad" incident.

Then there was this morning. I woke up to Iris barging in my room demanding I get up and go upstairs with her. I blinked a few times and said, calmly, "I need just a little more rest". Iris began yelling, demanding I get up, starting calling me names and saying she hated me. It was a bit much considering I, and she, had had our eyes open for under a minute.

As I relayed these two stories to the therapist I was just like, what gives? What makes her the sweetest girl on earth one morning and a snarling monster the next?

I then trailed off in to lamenting our bedtime struggles. How difficult it is for Iris to fall asleep when we need her to. She often lays awake for two hours every night after Eloise falls asleep. Most nights she also complains about how hungry she is after brushing teeth and heading to bed. I said how we don't let her get up and eat, that her begging for food seemed like a ploy to keep from going to sleep.

The therapist suggested, well, maybe Iris really is hungry. Maybe some mornings she wakes up with low blood sugar because she hasn't eaten enough before bed. We didn't know for sure, of course, but it was a likely possibility. The therapist also suggested that putting the girls to bed at the same time probably isn't the best thing for Iris since she stays awake for so long and has really begun to resent being in bed but wide awake.

"But, but, Eloise freaks out when Iris gets to stay up later than she does!" I insisted. "I think Eloise can learn that there are different expectations for each of them at bedtime," the therapist countered.

So, tonight was our first night of the new bedtime routine. Iris did all of the parts of getting ready for bed with her sister but when it was lights out for Eloise, Iris went back upstairs to quietly work on whatever she would like. And eat a little more. While lights out for Eloise is at about 8:15, I let Iris stay up until 9:45. I know, that sounds so ghastly to write. 9:45!?!?! But this is a girl who would lay wide awake in bed every night from 8:15 to after 10:00 all on her own. From day one she never needed that much sleep.

After I got Eloise to sleep I came upstairs and something else cool happened. Iris and I chatted about all sorts of things, made a list of chores she could do to earn money to buy a new doll, looked at coins, ate snacks and just generally enjoyed each other's company.

There was no arguing tonight. No begging, pleading or yelling. No name calling. No crying.

I am so interested to see what the morning brings. And then tomorrow night, and the following morning, and on and on.