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Ultimately, poor architectural planning is at fault here.

When we bought our house, it had three bedrooms and an open gameroom at the top of the stairs. When Bryce was born, and we went from two school-aged kids to a teen, a pre-teen, and a newborn, we hired a contractor to come in and wall off the gameroom (it became Bryce's nursery) and finish out a huge attic space off of what was then Dylan's bedroom. Dylan moved into the huge new "attic room" (an ironic name considering it was the biggest and nicest room in the house, technically) and his old bedroom became the "gameroom." (We wanted to keep it a community area since you actually had to walk through it to get to Dylan's room.) When Quinn came along, earlier than we'd expected kid #2, though, we had to do some shuffling. Knowing Dylan would be leaving for college within months after Quinn's birth, we moved Hannah into the gameroom next door to him (after establishing certain privacy and respect rules between the teenaged siblings) and turned Hannah's room at the other end of the house into the new nursery. Our upstairs was like Motel 8 Junior, room after room of kids.

In the meantime, John's photography business was being run out of what was supposed to be a formal dining room at the front of our house. It was adjacent to our kitchen, which is the most busy room in our house, and the one where at least one kid could be found at all times, so the entrance to John's office was blocked with a baby gate, and the other entrance to his office, from the front entry hall, was also blocked with a baby gate. "Why?" you ask. "Wouldn't that be a horrible eyesore?" you wonder. Why, yes. Yes it would. Yes it was. But the room isn't that big, and at the time it contained a hand-me-down dining table covered with a huge piece of plywood (for a bigger work space for John) and a fancy tablecloth to disguise it, a bulky computer desk, a few chairs for clients, and dozens of boxes of albums, prints, samples, catalogs, lights, frames, and the inevitable baby toys that Quinn or Bryce would end up throwing in there from the kitchen or hallway. It was a death trap, that room. Anytime John had an appointment with a client, he'd need at least two hours beforehand to make the room look presentable.

After the last time Dylan moved out of his attic room (to read and understand more about what was with all of his coming and going, read this post), Bryce and Quinn were both old enough to handle a change in routine and risk their sibling waking them on occasion at night; Hannah was tired (and rightfully so) of living in the in-between room since she never knew when Dylan would come back to claim his room again; John's booby-trap of an office was too much for us to take any longer; and we needed to re-carpet the house. So, we did what any stark-raving mad set of people would do under such circumstances, and we overhauled the entire house in one fell swoop. During John's busiest season. During my busiest time at work. We:

  1. Moved Quinn into Dylan's "attic room."
  2. Moved Bryce into Hannah's game room / middle room with the expectation that eventually we would put the boys into the big attic room together, but still wanting to keep their sleeping areas separated by a door for a little longer.
  3. Moved Hannah into her old room (Quinn's nursery) at the other end of the hallway upstairs.
  4. Moved John's office into Bryce's old nursery (original open gameroom) at the top of the stairs.
  5. Replaced the carpeting in John's old office (the formal dining room) and the living room with hardwood floors.
  6. Replaced the carpeting in our bedroom, the stairs, and the entire upstairs with new carpeting.
  7. Bought actual dining room furniture for the dining room.
  8. Re-painted the outside of our house. You know, since we weren't doing anything else at the time.

Things have gone swimmingly since we made these moves almost two years ago. Despite my concerns that the kids would wake each other up at night -- since they shared a wall, their rooms were connected, and we would have to walk through Bryce's room if Quinn ever woke up -- we rarely had a problem. Because the attic room is so big, there is plenty of play space in both rooms and the kids typically enjoy playing in either room. We've often commented that it's amazing, simply amazing, that Bryce has never gone into Quinn's room at night to play or get Quinn's attention after we put them to bed. We were so brilliant to make those moves! we'd say.



That crazy universe, the one that always gets such an ever-loving kick out of messing with our heads, has struck again. In the past three days, Bryce has discovered the immense power he holds in his grasp by sleeping in the room that connects to Quinn's. I'm actually less concerned about this at night than I am during the day. At night, if Bryce goofs off for an hour and runs in and out of Quinn's room, it's frustrating to deal with, but it doesn't really affect Quinn's sleep that significantly. During the day, though, during that most coveted time of day, naptime, Quinn has always been the easiest, most cooperative kid you could ask for. He looks forward to his naps, and every day as soon he's done with lunch asks, "now it's time for my nap?" This sweet elixir of the gods is not something I want to interfere with in any way. Bryce, who has questioned the legitimacy of his own naptime since he turned 2, knows how we feel about the sacred and untouchable nature of Quinn's long, daily, predictable naps, and why he only recently conjured up this latest method of parental torture, I don't know. But today, after putting the nap-loving kid down and threatening toy- and privilege-removal until the nap-hater was deceptively quiet, John walked into the bathroom where I was getting ready and said, "I think we won." My heart stopped, the mirror cracked into 666 pieces, and my eyes melted into pools of gel before I could shriek, "DON'T SAY THAT! DON'T EVER, EVER SAY THAT!!" He looked at me like I was completely insane: "What?" "You! Just! Jinxed! Us! I'm going to walk out of this bathroom and hear one of them talking over the monitors." He rolled his eyes in disbelief. "Nah. We won. They're asleep."

As I opened the bathroom door, I saw the lively red dots of light on top of Quinn's monitor jumping all over the place, then I heard the horrible sound I'd been dreading: Bryce's voice. In the wrong room. When I got to Quinn's room, I could tell he had been woken from a sound sleep. I pulled (well, dragged, really) Bryce out from the only available hiding place (under Quinn's crib) and told Quinn to go back to sleep. I put Bryce back in bed and more negotiations ensued. I said, "if you go in there one more time and wake him up, I will remove everything from this room." He looked at me with curiosity: "Down to my mattress?" I ignored the challenge, told him to go to sleep, closed the door, and walked back downstairs. I was right in the middle of a tirade to John about how unbelievable it was after two years for Bryce to decide to pull a prank like this, and how dare he interrupt Quinn's nap, and why won't the kid just go to sleep, and why does he make everything so difficult all the time anyway, when we both heard the click of Quinn's door opening over the monitor. Then, within 10 seconds, Quinn's sleepy voice: "What, Bryce?"

Quinn never really got back to sleep. We wouldn't let Bryce go back upstairs after that, so HE didn't sleep. We were dealing with Bryce, so WE certainly didn't sleep or get anything done around the house.

We were talking a few weeks ago about moving Bryce into Quinn's room with him and giving Quinn a "real" bed (as opposed to the toddler converted crib he's in now), making Bryce's room a playroom again. We thought the transition to the kids sharing a room would be no big deal. Now I realize we were just drunk when we had that conversation.