Once again, it’s time for the contrasting and comparison between the girls during age four. It’s been quite the busy year, and one that is much more back to normal post COVID, which has been wonderful. Timing wise the girls are much easier to handle, meaning we can do more things and be a bit more “normal”, or at least survive doing normal things without required extra hands. It was very hard to narrow down my favorite “triple photos,” as I call them, over the past 365 days. There are so many! I settled on this collage after unsuccessfully narrowing the count below three, and all are taken with beautiful nature back drops and big smiles; photos that highlight the personalities of my three little ladies during daily life adventures.
I’ve already blocked out half the things we accomplished or attended last year, so here is an overview of the highlights that my mom brain can remember as I write this out.
Age 4 Changes
Age four had less significant changes than age three, but mentionables nevertheless. It was our best year of sleep so far in the journey of parenting, with both Emerie and Harper trading off doing very well sleeping overnight in their toddler beds. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was great sleep, but definitely an improvement from years where the bar to improve started very low. More recently we created a healthy sibling competition, with the current prize whoever sleeps in their bed the most gets to choose their spot in the “big girl bunk beds,” and so far Harper is winning by a landslide, with Emerie in tow, and Reagan only two nights in her bed for the entire month of March.
New Preschool Class
Last August the girls aged up into the four year old preschool class at school. Initially they were quite dismayed at this required change, not wanting to leave their daily routine in beloved Miss Tawni’s class. The transition went quite well and we didn’t lose school naps from it- and over six months later, they still adore their previous teacher, and their current one. It’s very sweet. They are also almost all the way through the alphabet, love show and tell highlighting a letter each week, and getting to do crafts and play in the gym. While they haven’t said it in quite a while, I know they are also looking forward to playground time after the snow melts…whenever that actually happens.
First Remembered Airplane Trip!
As you all know, the whole family packed up and boarded the skies to Juneau for a work trip for Craig and I, and the girls did great during the whole experience. This is actually the second time the girls boarded a plane, with the last time around at fourteen months old, and under way more duress. This time around showed us that a longer trip might be doable this summer and to a farther distance, now that we don’t (usually) have to worry about them darting into traffic or getting completely lost when we blink. It is also wonderful to be out of the stroller phase and not need to lug that everywhere we go; before long we won’t even need to lug the car seats.
The girls are already asking for another trip, and while most this summer will be closer to home overnights, such as Homer, Seward, maybe even Fairbanks; it’s nice to know we can plan for another big adventure and both parents will survive it.
Sickness No Longer Equals the End of the World
This might sound silly to include in this list, but in reality, is a complete game changer. Prior to age four I dreaded every time a cough or sniffle started in the household, knowing that meant a week or two of very little sleep or relaxation was right around the corner. This past year the girls had RSV twice, a number of colds and coughs and ear infections, and while that still sucked, it wasn’t nearly as awful to make it through each one as the toddler stage. You can now tell the level of sickness by their willingness to sit and relax and watch movies, something short lived at younger ages.
Out of Town Sans Dad
This was a milestone for me- when Grandma Sue and I packed up the kiddos and trekked down to Kenai last summer and left Craig at home to finish the work week. This had to happen at some point, and while I was anxious that my tiny humans would freak out and want Craig toward bedtime, they were so worn out by all the excitement that is ultimately went fine!
That was also one of the first times we’ve been in the compromising position of a car breakdown while out of town, and are still so thankful that all of it played out safety and it didn’t ruin the experience, or the car!
Fairs and Festivals
It is a major accomplishment that we can now attend and ENJOY fairs and other outdoor, summer events. We opted out of the busy fair experience until this age, knowing it would be quite a long and stimulating day, and not wanting to be miserable throughout it or missing nap time. The girls loved their first Alaska Fair experience and we will certainly enjoy it again next year. We also accidentally attended the annual fair in Ninilchik and while the weather was cold and rainy, the face painting and fun made up for it.
Earlier in the summer we ventured to the valley for the Scottish Highland Games, and it was the first time we went somewhere unplanned and spent more than six hours exploring, eating and checking out the sights. Harper especially enjoyed watching the dance routines while Emerie and Reagan were more there for the treats. Everyone was quite a hit in their kilts and it was a gorgeous (hot!) day of sun.
Smoother, less routine schedules ended up as one of the biggest and best improvements across the past year. We were so regimented and inflexible from the newborn stage to the middle of age four, simply because it was the only way to survive each day. Even after dropping naps, quiet time in the afternoon was helpful but mornings could play out without as much planning, and being out and about during the day for activities became so much easier. I remember thinking we’d never survive the days once we lost nap time, and looking back, staying on schedule allowed us to make it through the tough toddler phase.
New Life Skills
While accomplishments on the parenting side waned a bit this year, it was huge for the girls. All three continue to improve their handwriting and color skills, which occur daily; all three love glue stick crafts and using kid scissors. Last summer Harper and Reagan learned to pedal bike on big girl bikes (Emerie opted out and continued with her balance bike, her choice!), and can now decently steer their kid four wheelers. All three fight over who gets to use the tv remote and demand Alexa pause the movies for them during potty breaks.
Other skills include dressing themselves, especially in dress up gear, telling detailed stories, and proudly declaring when they unbuckle a car seat without help. They also clear dishes off the table, clean up the room after demands, brush their own teeth.
Age four saw a range of new animals joining the family. Craig brought eight baby chickens home last summer, seven who are still with us and providing eggs, and the girls experienced their growth and development throughout. Amazingly we had no accidental casualties from the girls stepping or smashing them, and while they are much less exciting now, the girls do enjoy feeding them upon occasion.
We also experienced death for the first time with Rafi, he received a flower burial that the girls will tell you all about, and don’t forget he now lives in heaven. Then we acquired a new kitten and she later gave us three unplanned kittens! The girls learned to be gentle with them and now walk around and play with lone Winston. That’s a few too many new animals in one year for my taste…
More Cousin Time
I am enjoying the trend of more family moving close by- last fall this meant that cousins Corbin and Elliot returned to the Alaska life after several years in Washington, and now I have a glimmer of insight into what quads are like, with Elliot the same age as the girls. The girls love to play at their house and it’s a nice break for Craig and I to have another hang out location, especially after the years of COVID, when people didn’t open up their houses for visitors, and certainly not for the triplet tornado. I should also say it’s nice to have Aunt Jenny AND my brother here too…but it’s really for the kids, right?
Cousins time on the Douglas side is also welcomed and the girls love Tyler visits, when Jaren and Savaya pop in for a hello, and when Chatum comes up to visit.
About the Girls – Age 4
This year Harper has really come into her own style. She is a fashionista, rocking all kinds of dresses but especially anything in black or pink, is a swing queen and can tower high above her sisters on the swing set, still has the need for speed on her training wheel bicycle, and knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to demand it. She loves having curly hair from we braids, putting on pretend makeup, and playing “mom and dads” with her sisters.
Height/Weight: 45 pounds, 45″ tall – she gained 7.4 pounds and grew 3″ in a year!
Favorite Activities: playing dress up and getting fancy. Lately she is more into coloring and also greatly enjoys gong to her dance and tap class each week.
Favorite Movie/Music/Show: She is a bit more fluid in her requests for television or movies, opting to pick different princesses that fit her mood, like Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana, then Pan or Leap (ballerina movie) and so on. She moved on from the Frozen music obsession and continues to adore Toward the Sun by Rihanna, from the soundtrack Home.
Favorite Princess/Character: When asked her favorite, she claims it is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. This is likely because she is dressed in pink, as she greatly likes Rapunzel and Elsa also.
Favorite Color: pink, then black, and then orange, are her continued favorites.
Favorite Food: When asked, Harper’s immediate response was “candy.” Considering she liked sweets the least of the three as toddlers, she clearly got over that thought. After more discussion, she agreed she loves black olives, chicken nuggets, tater tots and french fries. I think her favorite food is actually ketchup.
Favorite Animal: Lately she is on a bunny kick, but also adores (all) her stuffed seals and her puppy dogs.
When Harper grows up, she wants to be: A ballerina is her most common answer.
Unique Personality Trait: Harper is our glitter and grease girl. She LOVES to be dressed up and fancy, almost constantly, but isn’t afraid to get dirty outside, in the kitchen, or out and about.
Major Dislikes: Harper’s dislikes are very similar to the list from age three, such as wearing anything other than dresses and that pants in general are the bane of her existence. She also dislikes being patient and slow, wanting to do things fast whenever she can, and getting frustrated when she can’t do something easily.
Of the Three, She is the Most: Social. She is happy to play with other kids the most, and doesn’t seem to love playing independently like either of her sisters. She’s definitely a social butterfly.
Favorite Quotes: I’m NEVER going to ….. or You’re NEVER going to let me …. for the rest of eternity. Dramatic much?
Emerie continues to be our ray of sunshine; she loves to learn new skills, collect and carry around tiny things, and spend time at home, which is her happy place. She loves to pretend nap, getting a bed all set up with her stuffies and “sleeping” with all the shades closed. She also enjoys scrolling through books and snuggling up on the couch. Gymnastics is proving to be a great activity for her and she constantly asks what day we go next. She doesn’t let daily patching hold her back from anything and remains a good sport about wearing it each day, which is huge! She had one eye surgery this past year and is now on her longest stint ever between doctor visits.
Height/Weight: 38.2 pounds, 43.5″ tall – she gained 4 pounds and grew 2.25″ in a year!
Favorite Activities: gymnastics, collecting beads and playing restaurant. She often asks how to spell food related words so she can make a menu and deliver you a meal.
Favorite Movie/Music/Show: As I’m sure you guessed, her favorite movie remains both Frozens, and not Encanto! She is also re-upping her love for Pan (Rapunzel) and the corresponding television series, Tangled Adventures. As far as music, Let It Go continues to live on as a daily (sometimes hourly) request, followed by what she calls Bring It In, which is Isabella singing Encanto’s What Else Can I Do.
Favorite Princess/Character: Emerie continues to be an all things Elsa (Frozen) girl, but now has a second character to love, Isabella from Encanto. You might think she’d latch onto the main Encanto character with glasses (Mirabel), but that lasted about five seconds until she saw Isabella’s purple, flowered dress. She is constantly dressed up as one of these two characters when playing at home.
Favorite Color: This remains unchanged from birth- team purple!
Favorite Food: Last year cheese quesadillas topped the list without question, but this year she is completely anti-dilla. Of the three, she has the most opinions about food. She likes macaroni and cheese, or really most pastas, and cheeseburgers (just the patty with cheese) and french fries.
Favorite Animal: Definitely a change from last year, her beloved monkey has retired to live a life confined to her toddler bed, while her “mommy and baby turtle” go to school each day and MUST be in her bed every night. The Mom turtle was a gift from Doctor Winkle before her last surgery, and she picked out the baby turtle at the toy store earlier this winter after a good amount of overnight sleep in her bed.
Unique Personality Trait: Emerie is a great friend. She picks up on other kids feelings and will reach out and offer to play with them. She’s very insightful!
Major Dislikes: Dislikes this year changed a bit from age three. For example, while she strongly dislikes black olives, pizza has grown on her a bit and she enjoys it once a week at school lunch. She also loves her bed compared to last year and is often the first to fall asleep in it each night. Age four dislikes include eye patching, although it’s now a more accepted practice, putting on socks and shoes, and playing outside any time it is cold, which is apparently extreme torture. I think she may just dislike being cold in general.
Of the Three, She is the Most: Stubborn and introverted. If she gets stuck on something, she really gets stuck on it and doesn’t want to back down. She enjoys independent play and will figure out something to do without the need of intervention.
When Emerie grows up, she wants to be: Elsa. This is her answer every single time I’ve asked her this question the past six months, and she is quite set on it.
Favorite Quotes: That’s DIScusting. Another fan favorite is her made up nonsense that one of her sisters kicked me in the face, which she claims quite constantly.
Reagan continues growing as our artsy girl. She adores coloring and crafts and will spend hours working on things. She gets grumpy if I forget any of the masterpieces at school each day- mind you sometimes a whole pile is waiting to come home- and loves to display them on the wall. Reagan is the most talkative of the three and into storytelling about her day. Ask her to tell you a princess story sometime- her depictions and the parts she highlights are completely hilarious. She can also put her hair in a ponytail and is so very proud of her new skill!
Height/Weight: 41.4 pounds, 44″ tall – she gained 4 pounds and grew 2.25″ in a year!
Favorite Activities: Definitely anything related to dresses, dressing up and getting fancy. Her younger days were quite the opposite and she disliked dresses; now it’s all she wants to wear. She also enjoys pretend play and is always asking her sisters to play swim girls or moms and dads or some kind of animal.
Favorite Movie/Music/Show: Aladdin is the current favorite, although a few other princess movies are sprinkled into to her random requests. Her favorite songs is unchanged from age three, Pink’s Cover Me In Sunshine, and she added two additional songs, You Can’t Stop the Girl by Bebe Rexha (from Maleficient), and Speechless, Jasmine’s song from the live action Aladdin.
Favorite Princess/Character: Reagan’s favorite princess is currently Jasmine from Aladdin, ever since watching the live action film, and is completely obsessed with her. Coincidentally, she is also dressed teal, her designated color. Another favorite character is Maleficent from the Sleeping Beauty story, which may seem a bit scary, but is very near and dear to her heart.
Favorite Color: Teal most of the time; once in a while blue or white.
Favorite Food: Right now maraschino cherries are her number one request, followed by cucumbers and ranch. She also answered she likes broccoli, chicken nuggets, mayonnaise sandwiches.
Favorite Animal: This is also unchanged from age three, and you will see pandas all over the house, and about six of them in her bed every night, ranging from teenie-tiny to decent size.
Unique Personality Trait: She loves to break out into song at random times throughout the day, and creates a wave sound with her voice as she serenades quietly to herself. She is the most talkative of the three by far, and can tell you some wicked stories about movies she’s seen or experiences she witness and school. If someone else is hurt, you will find her grabbing a random stuffed animal and sharing it with them to make them feel better; she is very empathetic, unless she has caused the issue!
Major Dislikes: While last year’s hair brushing doesn’t make the list for age four, she continues hating to sleep in her own bed the most of the three, ending up in ours about 90% of the time. She also dislikes wearing tights and shirts and only dresses are acceptable anymore.
Of the Three, She is the Most: Emotional. If one kid is randomly crying or pouting in the corner, she’s probably wearing teal.
When Reagan grows up, she wants to be: Her last answer was a teacher like Miss Tawni, or a painter.
Favorite Quotes: Mom. Mom! I want to tell you about my day. Myyyy day I played with Emie and Harper and had a great day….” It almost always starts with that exact phrase and goes into a long spiel detailing all the things she accomplished at school, getting louder as she gets into it.
Four Year Old FAQs
What are the biggest differences between the three? What are their similarities this year? While all three are definitely into the same types of things, such as princess everything, dress up, playing on bikes and swings and pretend, they all maintain attention on different things a bit. Emerie will sit and play with the Barbie dolls downstairs by herself for a while, while Reagan will sit and color and Harper will wander off with her baby doll. Reagan picks up newfound skills the quickest and with the least effort, while Harper gets flustered before putting in much effort. Emerie takes a bit longer to gain a new skill and you can see her kind methodically thinking out how it all works.
What is the biggest personality difference? Emerie loves to be at home more than anywhere we go, even to places she likes. I think she is like me in that way. Reagan is more like Grandma Sue and Craig and is the talker of the three; always with something to say! Harper is a social butterfly and always wants to play with friends, not so much on her own.
Who is now the best sleeper? Who is the worst? While this varied a bit throughout the year, Harper and Emerie traded places on best sleeper for much of the summer and fall, at least until we hit RSV season and coughing stressed them enough to wake them up. Reagan will continue to win the red lantern award for sleep, with no plans to stay in her bed. In fact, she constantly reminds me that she should be allowed to permanently sleep in my bed, and I should relocate to her room. Such fun. Now that I am tracking who stays in their room overnight, Harper leads by a land slide the past month, with Emerie about half her count, and Reagan a slight miracle if we have a whole night with her out of our bed.
Who is Team Mom and who is Team Dad? I mean realistically, everyone is Team Grandma Sue. Whenever the girls are mad at us, they always holler I want Grandma Sue. They also constantly remind us that Grandma Sue is the boss.
Alliances are pretty consistent from age three to age four. Harper is for the most part Team Mom, unless Dad goes to guys’ night, then she wants him every time. Reagan is completely Team Mom and no longer has one foot in each camp like last year, and Emerie is completely Team Dad, as she reminds me every night with a solace of I want my dad; I miss him.
What was my favorite memory of age four? There are a number to choose from, but I would say my favorite thing was getting out and about and finally taking the kids out of town for some fun. It feels like we are almost normal and can start having fun!
I’m sorry this has been a long one with so much to say! My happy five year olds are excelling and keeping every day interesting- Craig and I are constantly on our toes. Luckily that is nothing new from the past five years.
Happy birthday Harper, Emerie and Reagan ❤