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7:30 PM (Susan posting): Well, it certainly has been an "Independence Day" around here. The girls are both very clear about not needing help lately, and neither of them has been as clingy today as they have been recently (it probably helped that no one left home today). We've had a good day, taking care of things around the house and generally enjoying a day without work hanging over our heads. Well, we did do some housework, and we made a really nice meal for dinner (two fairly labor-intensive recipes from Cook's Illustrated). The dishes were good, and the girls actually liked them. To celebrate the holiday, Elisabeth decorated some red, white, and blue birthday cups we had leftover (from her first birthday, I think!)--on each cup, she wrote (in red and blue marker), "Happay Birthday Amaraca."

Sophie woke up this morning saying, "I'd better have something to eat so I don't get low blood sugar." She sure doesn't miss much of what we say. She spent much of the day frustrating us by asking for a specific food (which we would prepare) and then deciding she didn't want it after she took one look at it. We don't know whether to blame this on chemo or a developmental stage. Either way, we'll be glad when she quits. Her food of choice lately is Lipton Chicken Noodle "Clifford" soup. Tomorrow--who knows?

As long as we're sharing our struggles with Sophie, we might as well talk about Elisabeth too, whose room is a constantly a disaster area. She's perfectly willing to make a mess, but when it comes to cleaning up, she really fights. We've tried lots of things to convince her it's not that difficult to either put things away when she's done with them (the problem being that she doesn't like to think she's done yet), or that even when there is a big mess, it doesn't take that long to straighten up (we set a timer, or ask her to pick up a set number of things). We're nearly at the point of letting her keep it a mess (as long as the rest of the house stays neat) and making her live with the consequences the next time she can't find something. Part of the problem too is that she simply has too many toys in her room, but that's our fault, not hers. When we first moved here, we had a rule that each girl would have one large basket of toys in her room, and the rest would be in the building. If either girl wanted to bring in something from the building, she would need to trade some of her existing toys for it. Unfortunately, we've been bringing things in from the building without taking things back. Taking care of the toy surplus is yet another thing on our ever-growing list of things to do.

Despite my complaining, we've really enjoyed our special day today. It's nice to have an excuse to take the day off and spend time together. The girls will go to bed soon, and we'll watch a movie or read books, or something equally relaxing.


You probably already do this, but just in case you don't already it might not be a bad idea to start Sophie on vitamin supplements (obviously ask the doctors first). Whoever first created chewable vitamins for kids should receive a Nobel Prize as far as I'm concerned :) You may also want to try giving her a choice between only 2 or 3 things for snack, and maybe 1 or 2 of those could be things that don't really require preparation (e.g., a Go-gurt, apple/banana, or Lipton soup). Finally, you might want to talk to her (or both the girls) about nutrition, how they need energy and vitamins from their food to grow and be healthy, and so they don't get low sugars, and even show them the old food pyramid (the new one is too complex), and make a daily chart for each of them (Keep it simple: bread/carbs, protein, milk/dairy, fruits and veg. written on a piece of paper) and ask them at meal time to write in what they eat in the correct place, so they can see at the end of the day how they did. This might be enough to prompt them to ask for more of what they are missing, and could be a fun game. I think that your idea of minimizing the toys will really help you minimize Elisabeth's messes - it is a lot easier to pick up if you only have a few toys. I will send my bill in the mail ;-) Good luck!