Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sleeping distress

I like sleep.  In fact, I would say that I love sleep. I have wholeheartedly bought into certain sleep concepts including:
"It's the night before the night before that makes a difference in your day."
"The hours of sleep you get before midnight are the ones that really count." 
"Uninterrupted sleep is necessary for optimum health and happiness."

So it stresses me out to no end that uninterrupted sleep is a rare occurrence at our house. Before Mike and I had children, when we still believed in the tooth fairy and other such myths such as children sleeping through the night, we would hear the neighbors 3-year-old crying in the night and wonder why his parents didn't teach him properly.  Once our children were past 11 pounds and physically able to sleep through the night, they would.

HAHAHAHAHA.  A few months ago, right about the time that Ellie started sleeping through the night, Hannah stopped sleeping through the night. The three-year-old not sleeping through the night started in September. And now it is March. (voice breaking, hands trembling) The end of March.

Three to four mornings a week, Hannah cries loudly in my ear at 4 a.m.  I am always pleasant and cheerful at this time in the morning, and I say quietly, "Sweetheart, let me sing you a song and scratch your back to scare away your bad dreams." Not really. It's more like anger and hatred at that time in the morning. And this is a terrible habit that we've got to get rid of. 

Below is a list of what we've tried. We try to be consistent for a week or two before we switch it up. (Switch it up=throw our hands in the air and swear to not have anymore children/make them sleep locked in the garage.) We want to break her of this habit. I want this habit gone more than I want a free lifetime supply of books and chocolate.

FAILED Attempts at Getting Hannah to Stay in Bed
1. "Did you have a bad dream? I'm sorry." And walking her back to bed. FAIL
2. Saying nothing. Pointing like silent death at the doorway. FAIL
3. "Hannah, go back to bed." FAIL
4. Locking our door. FAIL
5. Taking away a toy every time she leaves her bed. FAIL
6. Saying a prayer with her and tucking her back in. FAIL
7. Threatening death or other tortures if she doesn't stay in bed. FAIL
8. No food after 7:30 p.m. FAIL
9. Magic mush.  This technique was shared by my friend, Sallie. She used it to get her kids in bed at night.. I thought I could try it for when they get out of bed.
So here's my version: If they get out of bed during the night the next morning I make them a bowl of magic mush (oatmeal with nothing in it).  Here's how that goes over with Hannah, "I won't eat it! I will spill it all oveh!"  "Fine," I say. "There will be no food until lunch."  Then she asks me all morning when lunch will be. She lays around on her pillow and sucks her thumb all morning. Her tummy hurts. Everything is a fight. The morning is miserable. I am miserable.  I stress out because she's not eating and miserable and unhappy.  And so am I! FAIL 

I've stuck with magic mush for about 7-9 incidents over the past three weeks, in an effort to remain consistent. Until this conversation,
Hannah wakes up and says to me, "Mommy did I get up last night?"
"No sweetie! Good job! You didn't. You can choose what you want for breakfast."
Visible relief: "Phew!"
Oh yeah, Mother of the Year. Right here.  My child doesn't even know she's waking up at night and I'm punishing her. Awesome. (Or some part of me thinks, "My gosh, this child is a master at manipulating me.)

So here's where we're currently at:
I've given up on magic mush for when she wakes up in the middle of the night (if she gets out of bed when we tuck her in, it's still on). I'm just going to let her crawl into bed with me. I know this is probably making it worse. I know that I am enforcing a bad habit. I know I am setting her up for failure in college with this one small act, and she will probably end up dealing drugs because of my bad parenting skills.  I know! I know!
But people, I'm in survival mode. I've got to assuage my guilt at making her cry by her lonely self at three a.m. because I was sure that would solve it. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Other than that, things are great around here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Haircuts, St. George, and a baby named Ellie

I decided to get haircut appointments for the girl after Hannah's fiasco with the scissors. After imagining taking a screaming and kicking Hannah to the hairdresser and trying to hold her down, I decided to phrase it as no big deal, and a fun time. I set up an appointment with my friend Nicky for Hannah and for Kenzie, just for a trim, and told them I'd take them to the library after.  On the way there Hannah got a little worried, because before she cut her own hair, she had planned to grow it as gloriously long as Rapunzel's.
"Will it have to be short as Daddy's?" she asked.
"Yes," I laughed evilly. Not really. I just imagined doing that.
"No, but shorter than it is, because you cut it. It will help it grow out nicely," is what I really said.
"No mommy! I don't want it short," she started to whine.
"Oh, it will be cute. Remember last time you guys got your hair cut short and all the compliments you got? How everyone said it was so cute? It will be fine."
When we got there Kenzie decided that she wanted her hair up to her ear. That was a surprise. Last time I talked to her she was just going to get a trim. I think she liked the idea of compliments. That girl loves to be noticed.
Hannah and I sat across from Kenzie and watched as she got her hair cut. Hannah was quiet and whispered all sorts of questions about the salon. Why was there a black pad on the floor? Why did they have a sink? Why do they wash hair before they cut it? Nicky helped me answer her questions.

Kenzie did really good and loved her new haircut.

Then it was Hannah's turn. She was very quiet while Nicky washed her hair and followed instructions to bend her head and turn it. Afterward they both got a sucker and we went to the library to read a few books.

It was a good experience. Nicky did a great job and they both look so cute.  I pointed out to Hannah that you have to have a license to cut hair, showing her Nicky's license. I hope she avoids the scissors from now on, because next time I'm buzzing it. :)

Well, that was long. Now for an abbreviated account of a short vacation to St. George:

Mike's grandparents own a house down in St. George. So we took a quick trip down to visit them and to pick up Shirley (Mike's mom), who had been staying down there.  While we were there we went to Pioneer Park and climbed around on the rocks. Pioneer Park is home of the St. George Narrows (Kenzie calls it The Crack. I've heard it called The Skinnies too). 

The girls loved climbing around and got along really nicely (after I gave them the choice of getting along or sitting in the car.)
Ohh, sweet sisters. They hiked a good long way. They were so distracted by climbing the rocks, they didn't notice that we were hiking! Hannah is wearing her favorite skirt in the whole world. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when she outgrows it (which she has).

Kenzie took this picture of Mike, Ellie and me. 

Kenzie kept asking us when we were going to go to "The Crack".  We took her there on our last trip to St. George and she's been excited about it ever since. We kept telling her we'd take her there another day. We didn't realize that we were at The Crack until we almost fell in it. Kenzie was so excited to climb up in it. Mike waited at the top, while I followed behind her. (Side note: It was easier for me this time! I've lost a little baby weight, hooray!)

As we neared the end Kenzie, a few feet in front of me, said, "There's a snake up there." 

"Oh really?" I said, unable to see anything beyond her little blonde head, and starting to imagine a rattlesnake striking. "Come back toward me." I refrained from freaking out too much. I think my voice only went up one octave. I wedged myself up a little bit more and saw a small snake up under the ledge at the end of the crack. I have no idea what kind it was. I tried to take a picture of it, but the crack is so tight I couldn't get a good angle on it. We could avoid it if Mike helped us out, so it was all good. And now Kenzie tells the story with gusto.

Doesn't Mike look attractive in that cute polka dot pink hat?  

It was a short trip--we drove down Thursday and came home Saturday, but we had some fun and it was good to see Gma Donna and Gpa Dickey. 

We decided that next time we go on a trip, we need some process improvement to help us get out the door. That's another post, for another time though. 

And finally, Ellie had her nine month appointment. She's fit as a fiddle and cute as a button. (I love how it's okay to overuse cliches with babies.) She is 28" long and 18 pds. Which put her at 60% on the height charts and 25% on the weight charts.  She's starting to crawl, in an inchworm like fashion, and makes the cutest little turkey noises. "Gobble gobble."  Having a baby in the house is nothing but joy (and a few diapers, and some screaming, and messes. But mostly joy).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Self-inflicted haircut

One day we were looking up hairstyles and trying them out, taking pictures so she could see.

The next day, I came home from working out at the gym, and this is what I found. Oh Hannah.
Lately, Mike and I have been joking that shortcomings in ourselves and things and people around us are actually "features."
So Hannah's new haircut is a feature of her stunning, headstrong personality. And it's really not too bad. You can't really tell. She managed to get the chunk of hair above her ear that when her hair is down is easily hidden by top layers.  I'm not quite sure how to handle this little episode. Banning scissors for the rest of her life? Check. Threats to cut her hair like Daddy's? Check. Threats aren't really an effective parenting technique though.
She fell asleep crying after she did it, and that was minus any yelling. I thought about buzzing it. That would certainly teach her. But teach her what? The reality is that I don't know what to do. When do the children that obey and are easy to parent start appearing? 

Oh look, here's one:

And even she is starting to develop free will, darn it. 

6 years old

Dear Kenz-
I never thought you'd grow up. Not that six is all grown-up, but your life is starting to flash before my eyes. I even catch myself saying, "Stop all this growing!" Six is a good age for you--you are learning so many things and you are anxious to grow up, but you still want me to cook your chicken nuggets and sometimes choose your clothes. 
 The word that comes to my mind when I think of you is sweet. You are such a sweet girl. You think of others almost always. You are a peacemaker. I love it when you and Hannah play together--often you will give up something you want to help her be happy. You work hard to make sure people get along, including your cousins and your friends. I agree with your teacher at school, Ms. Clark. She said that you are one of the kids who "bring the light." 
I love it when you laugh--it's the sweetest bubbling giggle. You are starting to understand some of the humor in those cursed Disney movies that you love so much. Also, you love stories of love--already! You love it when the prince marries the princess and this year you have planned to marry three different boys already. 
In fact we had our first "no dating until you're 16" conversation regarding your birthday party.  Aunt Summer heard you tell Gracie, "I'm going to have a ball. You have to invite a special friend. It has to be a boy. And you're going to dance with him all night."  Ummm. . . no. That will come soon enough sweetie. And your dad is hoping to discourage that by convincing you that boys are yucky. (Good luck, Mike. I saw her swooning over the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie preview where the boys meet the girls.) 
For your birthday we had a party at the church and hung up a sheet to watch Toy Story 3. For the past year you wanted a "Ball." But when we started to plan it you changed your mind and wanted a movie party. You really like Jesse and you loved all your toys from your friends. Mom and Dad were boring and gave you some snowshoes and Junie B. Jones books. You love those books and you would sit for hours listening to us read them to you, if we would. When Junie B. does something silly you say, "Jun-ie. B-uh. Jo-nes!" all scandalized.   
We love watching you in tumbling. Just yesterday I watched you do back handsprings and roundoffs and kickovers. You've come so far since you started taking lessons again. I can't tell if you really like tumbling, or if you just want to do it because Gracie does it and does it well and because your friend Rusti is good at it too. You are competitive, but I don't mean competitive in a mean spirit. Let me try to explain: With your back handspring you will do it over and over and over and you said to Gracie, "Let's practice so we can be the best in the class."  You are determined and amazing and we love you.