Why is sleep SO HARD?!?

It seems like it should be straightforward. Simple. Easy, even.

Child is tired. Child goes to bed. Child sleeps for a reasonable amount of time, while parent does the same. Both wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.

Somehow, this simple formula for generalized happiness and feelings of well-being has been seriously derailed in our house over the past 6 months.

And no – I’m not exaggerating – 6 months have we been dealing with sleep issues.

First, it was BIT. Daylight savings time – waaaaay back last October or November – threw us for a serious loop and she started waking up for the day at 4:00 am. Now, I’m a morning person. I love the early morning and often prefer to get up at an hour that seems unreasonable to anyone but me. But 4:00 is just entirely too early to start the day. For months we tried different things to help BIT sleep until at least 5:30. Earlier bedtime, later bedtime, telling her it wasn’t time to wake up, ignoring her – nothing helped. Like clockwork, 4:00 would roll around and she would start her nonstop litany from her crib.

“Mommy get me. Mommy open door. Mommy I go downstairs!!!!”

And as we learned that nothing we did made a difference and that we may as well just lie in bed and doze through it as best we could, BIT’s vocabulary got more advanced and she would start expanding her demands.

“Mommy come get me. Daddy come get me. Ethan come get me! I go downstairs with Mommy! Get me out of crib!”

We harbored a secret hope that when daylight savings time rolled around again, it would magically fix the problem it started oh so long ago. We both knew, however, that that was probably a slim chance. And sure enough – no improvement. Well, BIT slept in marginally later for about two days before she was back to the usual routine. The DreadBrewer and I had all but resigned ourselves to never actually sleeping past 4:00 again – ever – when the magical happened and BIT suddenly started sleeping later, all on her own. Now don’t misunderstand me and think that I’m talking about sleeping until 7:00 or some other amazing hour. Any day that BIT sleeps until 5:30 is a magical day that deserves a gold star, but I consider that a totally reasonable hour for us all to get up since we have to be out the door for preschool and work by 6:30.

Alas sleep had just resumed it’s easy, straightforward routine in our house when disaster struck again. This time, disaster came in the form of our the Littlest Brewster’s first very bad dream and the subsequent fall out thereof.

One night, LB woke up shrieking blood curdling screams and shaking like a leaf in her bed, having had her very first, very bad dream. We let her get in bed with us for a little bit but, as she sleeps like a starfish with a violent tic, we soon had to transfer her back to her bed. And of course, within an hour, she was awake and shrieking again, needing reassurance that everything was all right and we were just across the hall.

And nearly every night since then, she has woken up at least once a night shrieking for us to come in and reassure her about some stupid (to us), totally legitimate (to her) problem.

“I can’t find my Gidhra doll!” (It’s touching your back, kid. Roll over.)

“I heard a noise in the hallway!” (It’s Ethan, scratching the carpet.)

“I don’t like it when my window is half light and half dark!” (It’s the street light, there’s nothing we can do about it.)

Well, last night took the cake. Seriously. I don’t think that I have passed as miserable a night – EVER – in my entire history of parenting. Even as babies, my kids slept better than the Littlest Brewster did last night. And naturally, this is when the DreadBrewer happens to be out of town and I am flying solo.

It actually started yesterday morning, when LB started hollering around 4:00 to come get in bed and cuddle. The rule is you don’t get in Mommy and Daddy’s bed until at least 5:00 for cuddles, because we all know no one sleeps with a squirmy toddler in the bed. I told her she had to wait, which prompted crying, which woke up BIT and prompted her to start crying, so everyone was up by 4:30ish.

So last night, I took the digital clock in LB’s room and we talked – at length – about how you don’t get to come in Mommy’s bed for cuddles until the first number is a 5. It doesn’t matter what the other numbers are, the first number had to be a 5. And LB understood. She told me what the number was then, what it needed to be, what could happen when it became a 5. All was well. Or so I thought.

The longest that the Littlest Brewster slept – all night – without waking up and shrieking “Is it time for cuddles yet!??!?!?!?!?!?” was an hour and fifteen minutes. The shortest interval between outbursts was 7 minutes. From 10:00 until 4:45 when I finally just gave in out of desperation and let her get in bed with me because I didn’t want her to wake up BIT yet.

I am so tired. And so grumpy. And so disheartened.

Because what kind of parent storms into their child’s room in the middle of the night and tells them to stop shrieking because I am done with this nonsense and I don’t care what happens I am not coming back in? What kind of parent wishes that it were possible for a 4 year old to understand the nuances of grudge holding so that she could understand just how seriously pissed off I am?

I don’t know what the heck is going on with LB right now. Her middle of the night separation anxiety is so completely unlike her and so new that neither DB nor I has any clue how to handle it. I know that I can’t keep going into her room every hour or two to calm her down. I can’t. DB can’t.

But ignoring it makes me feel like an even shittier parent than stomping in there and being angry.

And those are crappy choices to have to make. Keep going in – over and over – until I completely lose my schmidt and say something awful that I will regret forever (even if she doesn’t remember it 5 minutes from now) or ignore it and let her freak out until she realizes that she needs to figure out another way to handle waking up during the night.

Seriously, though – why is sleep so hard?

You’ve got a friend in me

Recently we’ve had a string of illnesses in our house, all of which have been exceedingly sucky.

But the Littlest Brewster and BIT have had a little help on their road to recovery in the form of some very loving, extra attentive, kitties. Because we all know that kitty snuggles make anything better.

BIT & KittiesLB & EthanBetween Hand-Foot-and-Mouth and Strep Throat, we had some pretty sick girls on our hands. (And a pretty sick Daddy, as DB was the one who introduced strep into the equation.) Hopefully the parental TLC, kitty snuggles, multiple popsicles, and hours upon hours of Disney movies, the girls will be up and at ’em in no time.

Yearly Calendar, 4th Edition

Every year, I take the multitude of pictures that I’ve taken of the girls and turn them into something that I think is really awesome. And, in all actuality, it doesn’t take nearly as much work as you would think, provided that you are as anal-retentive and proactive about downloading and filing the year’s pictures as I am. I understand that not everyone wants to have a crazy photo filing system like I do – most people probably think I’m weird that I find it relaxing to sit at the computer and file my pics, but it’s very soothing for me. However, I think that the ability to create these amazing calendars for LB and BIT to have is well worth overcoming any reluctance to sort through old pictures.

And without further ado, here are some pictures of this 2015’s calendars:

April 2015

April 2015

August 2015

August 2015

December 2015

December 2015

For those of you who are new to the blog and/or have never seen the yearly calendars, what they are is a collection of daily pictures of the girls. I snap a quick picture every day (or as near to every day as I can – you can see a few blank spots in the months above) and then I use Shutterfly to make a calendar of the past year, with the appropriate photo on the appropriate date. (i.e. The picture on December 1st was taken December 1st, and so on.)

Here’s a close-up of BIT’s December page:

Yearly Calendar (3)I have done this every year since the Littlest Brewster made her debut in 2011 and it is so cool to be able to go back and see her grow up through pictures.

LB's Calendar Collection

LB’s Calendar Collection – 2012-2015

BIT is building her own collection of calendars, as well.

BIT's collection - 2014-2015

BIT’s collection – 2014-2015

If I’m strapped for time or I forget until the last minute, I have been known to get pictures of the girls asleep in their beds or I’ll get a picture of them together and use it for both.

And in case you’re wondering just how I file my pictures, each picture is tagged with the date and a number when I upload it. If I took two pictures today, for instance, they would be Feb.4.2016.1 and Feb.4.2016.2. Then, I sort them into files for each girl by year and month. So, one of LB would go in the LB:2016:Feb file and BIT’s would be in BIT:2016:Feb. I do have the rule that if it’s a picture of both girls together, it goes in the Littlest Brewster’s file alone. When I was making BIT’s calendar and I would think that I had missed days, it was often that there was a picture of the two girls and I would just need to snag it from LB’s files.

After the photos are labeled and sorted, I upload them to Shutterfly and get started on the calendar. If you’ve never made a calendar through them, it’s a really easy process and all you have to do is drag and drop the picture to the appropriate day. I promise you that it’s NOT hard and that it’s a great way to spend 30 minutes when you’re afflicted by insomnia.

And voila! An amazing keepsake that your kids will love looking at and you will treasure forever. BIT is still a little too young to get what it is, but the Littlest Brewster can spend hours flipping through the calendars and reminiscing with us about each picture.

Homework Time with the Littlest Brewster

Tonight at our house during homework time:

DB: Do you want a finer pen instead of that fat one?
LB: We don’t say fat. That’s not nice. We say big.
DB: Do you want a finer pen instead of that big one?
LB: It’s not a pen. It’s a marker.
DB: Fine. Do you want a finer pen instead of that big one?
LB: No. I’m fine with this.

Oh, the joys of small children…