It’s official- we are down to only ONE baby gate in our house, that disconnects downstairs from upstairs! The loft/home office is now freely open to wandering toddlers, who occasionally graze on some dry cat food, hoping the parents won’t notice, and the gate on the girls’ bedroom is now packed away in the garage. We weren’t using it for more than a pet buffer and night in the last few months and figured it was time to embrace the freedom! I wonder how long until we will be a gate-less house, with kids wandering freely and not burning it to the ground out of adult eyesight.
Now that winter officially started, with about 18″ of snow over one twenty-four hour period followed by a dip to below zero temperatures outside, we are back to the normal cold, darkness, and try-our-best-to-entertain indoors until next spring. Daycare drop off and pickup for the next three months occurs under the cover of darkness and now the moon is visible some nights and always warrants a discussion.
Harper: Mom, drive faster! Catch the moon!
Reagan: Daddy has a fast car. Daddy could catch the moon.
Harper: Yeah, Daddy could catch the moon.
Such sass from the backseat! Other days similar sass occurs out of the blue, during a chore or a conversation. For example, the other night Emerie peeked around the bathroom door while Harper and Reagan were brushing their teeth, with a loud holler of you will never bring your family honor! and a door slam for dramatic effect. Guys, I can’t make this stuff up! Bonus points if you can guess that movie.
While we attempt to not watch too much television and come up with a variety of mind (and time) engaging activities- now that the girls actually enjoy watching shows and movies- it always proves interesting to watch anything with a group of toddlers.
For example, we watched Sleeping Beauty for the thousandth time the other night. The opening scene with Aurora walking and singing in the woods is accompanied with approximately a hundred, varied questions. Mom, where is she going? Why is she singing? Are the birds talking to her? How old is she? Where are her shoes? The scene then zooms out from the princess to the prince to bring up more toddler musings: Is that the prince? What’s his name? What’s his horse’s name? Why? Where is he going? Is he a boy? Do I need to continue or do you get the picture!
Everyone loves when Maleficent comes on the screen, but also hides their eyes or cowers under any nearby blanket. More comments arise such as she’s not a nice lady. Why isn’t she nice? She needs a spanking from daddy, really hard. She lives in a castle by herself? Why? And the plot continues.
Bedtimes continues to plague us, as it does for all toddler parents. Does anybody else have tiny minions that will do anything to get out of settling into bed each night?
Mom, I’m tired. Mom, I’m thirsty. Mom, I have to pee. Mom, I have a sharp nail. Mom, my arm is itching me. Mom, my butt hurts. Mom, I can’t pull my blanket up! My toes are cold! I don’t like blue stars; I want red ones.
Other nights they fight over who sings a song, claim sister is waking them up by singing, or because one is serenading the other with happy birthday, which causes a screaming argument. Why? Well, it isn’t their birthday! And on other rare occasions, I get the joy of singing a song from Frozen at least a dozen times in a row, until they drift off to sleep.
We’ve essentially given up on bedtime book reading, which is unfortunate since witnessing them recite the stories from memory was incredibly cute and a good way to calm down for sleep. Some nights they will sit for a few moments on the couch and let us get through a short book, but in general someone is always goofing off, talking back, or fighting to prevent actual reading from taking place.
The past six weeks, before the joy of winter even hit, were more taxing on us parents the normal, everyday taxation we are used to, and I’m not just blaming covid for that! Post covid and quarantine, after the daily routine normalized, resulted in two ear infections, a triple stomach flu and Craig catching it too, and a pretty nasty follow-up cold, worse for me than the girls.
It definitely comes as no surprise, as I assumed half the winter months would be submersed in some kind of sickness. The girls did excellent at throwing up in the designated “throw up bowl” by the time we passed through the bug, and we probably did ten loads of laundry, all the beds, pajamas, blankets and so on before getting back to normal. The girls now ask why the puke bowl isn’t in their bedroom and like to tell people they “puked last night.”
The sicknesses resulted in a couple weeks with a kiddo at home for a day or two, on rotation, while Craig and I both attempted to get our meetings and work done. The princess laptop comes out on those days, since we just own one, and the girls are thrilled to “work” beside the parents as needed. On a busy morning, Emerie would comment that my “office was talking,” as emails and Teams calls came through the speakers.
Reagan’s last ear infection put us near the threshold of considering ear tubes for her this winter and a follow up appointment in December to discuss with ENT. Emerie’s latest eye doctor appointment unfortunately showed more regression from the progress we made over the summer and fall on her eye straightening, and will result in another procedure next month as well.
December appears to be quite a busy month, not to mention the holidays in addition to illnesses, procedures, work and everyday life. Guess we will too busy to be cold…right?
Rather than a visit from the tooth fairy this month, our household was visited by the elusive “binkie fairy!” This fairy came to pick up a single pacifier from each toddler over the course of a few nights.
Obviously this is our creative way to slowly wean off the bedtime binkie obsession the girls have had since birth, something that had to be done prior to Reagan’s tooth pull procedure.
The girls have loved their binkies since the green, newborn ones were provided in the NICU and covered half their faces. The first two years of life were spent with single binkies and animal “wubbanubs” littered across the house and often several within grasp. They were so helpful for soothing the littles throughout the first year, especially when three babies need attention and one only has two arms- and I don’t think we would have survived without them. I can’t remember when we pulled them from daily routine, confining them to only nap time and overnights; that adjustment was disliked by all three but especially Reagan.
Even after confined to their bedrooms, the girls still tried to sneak them out of the cribs and snuggle with them throughout the evening routine, not often successfully but not for lack of trying. Very few days succeeded and those were limited to very hard days, like the whole family throwing up from the stomach flu, after one of Emerie’s surgeries, or when going on a long drive and getting stuck on the wrong side of an avalanche! I’m pretty sure I could have used one to sooth myself.
The first night no one noticed a binkie vanishing, which goes to show how many backups remained in the beds. I kid you not, for months Reagan would sleep with one in her mouth and one in each hand. We introduced stuffed animals a while back, hoping to replace the hand backups with something to snuggle. This somewhat worked and they all have specific lovies that must join in bed every night. Harper loves her red octopus from our last SeaLife Center visit and usually a princess or Moana’s pig Pua, Reagan must have her Panda and green Lambie or she will ask you for them a million times until they appear, and Emerie still loves her purple monkey, now named Monk, her soft, purple hippo, and for the moment her SeaLife Center spotted turtle. Other friends randomly join on different days as well and for the most part they don’t fight over who has what.
The following night the girls gave another binkie up and it went into the baby bottle, accompanied by one “fairy” doll to oversee the transaction. As I flipped off the bedroom light I sneakily handed said doll and binkie bottle off to Grandma Sue, who whisked the objects off to babies in need. When the girls woke up the next morning they discovered that same baby bottle was filled with shiny, beaded necklaces in pink, purple and teal. The fairy was kind enough to even leave the tags on! Everyone wore their necklaces on and off throughout the day.
At nap time there was great discussion regarding the remaining (only) two binkies in their cribs. The girls clearly missed that third one but chatted with each other about them going to other babies. That and how much they only have two binkies!
That night two fairies showed up to take another one. The girls each chose one of their two remaining and placed them into the baby bottle. They checked out the two fairies and discussed losing their beloved possessions, getting a bit sidetracked wanting to go home with the fairies. They stopped asking once they understood fairies live in trees and have to go deliver binkies to crying babies who need them. At least that answer seemed to suffice for the night!
The next morning, right on cue, the baby bottle was filled with another goodie, light up squishy lady bugs! These were immediately taken from the plastic bottle and carried around for a bit throughout the morning.
As predicted, the final night giving up the last one was the hardest. It didn’t help that Harper didn’t nap that day and all three had a good amount of afternoon blush from the sun. Anticipating more difficulty we had a night-night nummy (melatonin) to help them become drowsy. Only minimal convincing was needed for each to add their final binkie to the bottle and take a look at all three visiting fairies, their shoes and pretty hair colors. While no one was thrilled at giving them up, everyone agreed the babies needed them. To our astonishment Reagan handled it the best and didn’t even shed a tear, just asked for her ballerina and hugged her panda. Harper, on the other hand, full on cried and didn’t want to lie down with her animals. Emerie did the same but settled after a few more furry friends joined her in the crib.
After lights out everyone flipped. Harper immediately fell asleep, very overtired from the day, and Emerie right behind her. Reagan, on the other hand, stood in her crib and chatted about the “sad snowman” (abominable snowman they watched earlier) and had a hard time settling down. Everyone eventually drifted off to sleep pretty normally and slept most of the night! I popped in and napped for about two hours on the nursery couch; first because Harper was adamant she didn’t want to sleep, I want my binkie! from the confines of her crib and then Emerie followed within the same hour. Otherwise, the night went off without a hitch and I can’t even believe it!
With Reagan’s tooth procedure at 8 AM, a little fairy game-planning occurred after bedtime. Much to my surprise, they all slept pretty well overnight. We woke everyone up before normal wake up time to ensure all three received their present and Reagan didn’t miss out on that excitement. Nap time went easier than expected too, with everyone snuggling with their animals and drifting off to sleep. Waking up early and the dental procedure probably had something to do with that, and coincidentally the fairies left a gift for everyone when they woke up from their first no-binkie nap!
The next night we received a few questions at bedtime about where the binkies were, but overall discussion was pretty limited. The girls later laid in bed and discussed the vanishing act, with Emerie commenting that thelittle babies need them while Harper insisted the little babies are mean and took my binkies. It is fun to see their understanding of the event and helpful that they are old enough to comprehend giving something away to someone else. While we still have the normal overnight wake ups off and on, I’m happy we are able to settle them even without the use of a pacifier. The third night everyone slept through without a single peep, telling us that in the not too distant future binkies will be all but forgotten and we can continue to move onto the next stage of bedtime (shhh not yet!).
It’s somewhat sad to take away something that gives them comfort, even knowing they are old enough to understand the binkie fairy logic and are more than capable of sleeping without them. Not a single night in three years occurred without them! I keep reminding myself I felt the same way when we stopped using them during the daytime and in the car and we somehow managed those transitions. I felt the same nerves as we transitioned from tight swaddling to arms out to sleep sacks and I’m sure this isn’t the last bedtime change that will give us anxiety and stress! The next step will be big girl beds and I’m definitely not ready to even think about that yet.
After a couple days without them, the fairy dolls showed up one morning for the girls to keep and play with. We still get the occasional question asking where those darn binkies are and that they want them, but only from the comfort of their cribs. All in all, I believe this was a success and went smoother than we anticipated.
For now, if the girls tell you about their fairy visits, you all better praise them for nicely sharing those pacifiers so other babies can use them. Just saying… 🙂
As we round up to age three, the girls all know their colors, numbers up to about fifteen, most of their shapes and a TON of vocabulary. Life skills include mostly dressing themselves, running away given the opportunity, potty training pros, teeth brushing, baking, tower construction, coloring and drawing, and so much more!
But just because the girls were born together, look similar and hit most of their milestones together does not mean they are always the same. In fact, it continues to get easier to answer some of the differences between them as they grow and learn new things. Here are a few for the current stage of toddlerhood as we round up to age THREE!
Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, in the same oil and yet…the kernels do not POP at the same time. Don’t compare your child to others. Their turn to pop is coming!
Harper Anne – the strong willed one
Height: 39” (90% in height)
Weight: 32.2 pounds! (66% in weight)
Harper is all about her pink color and anything princess related. I’m unsure which Disney princess is her favorite, as she will randomly ask for Cinderella (and Gus Gus the mouse), Mulan, Snow White, Pan (Rapunzel), Ana and Elsa. She also loves to color everything black and always requests the black marker when given a choice. In fact, this little girl will color an entire page, making sure to fill up the color every where; if black isn’t available she opts for brown or pink. I’m sure this is just a phase! She dislikes water the most of the three and is very nervous going around the floating river at H2Oasis; she will not do it unless she has a tight grownup safety net the entire way around.
Harper is the hugger of the group and the only one that will really voluntarily give one to a sibling! She is also very expressive about her feelings and will tell you when she likes/dislikes something, or when she wants to love on it. I want to kiss it is a common term that applies to a variety of things such as the trash man, the forklift driver at Costco, and Daddy’s four wheeler. She is a cuddler and most nights will snuggle up with me and watch a show before we go up to bed. That is worth noting because as an infant she resisted cuddling the most of the three!
We shifted “top diva status” in the past year, with Harper taking the title as we round out age two. This is likely because she’s a girl that knows what she wants (and doesn’t want!) and has no qualms about throwing a full out, pouty tantrum over it. Her grumpy face is adorable in my opinion, which is surely not her intent when giving it to me, and her strong willed attitude combined with the face is one for the memory books. She also provides the entertainment of a silent tantrum and will lay face down on the floor and wait for you to react. It’s hilarious!
Favorite word/phrase:I love it, I kiss it, I hug it (about everything!) and I tired! when she’s not happy about something.
Favorite food: Harper enjoys meat more than the other two, liked plain chicken, bacon and, of course, hot dogs! She also LOVES black olives and would eat an entire can if given the opportunity.
Favorite book: Llama Llama Nighty Night (referred to as the “Potty Book”); she can quote the whole board book by memory now but will only do it when she feels like it.
Favorite song: Cocomelon’s Itsy Bitsy Spider and Shake It Off is making a comeback. She’s also on a Little Bunny Fufu kick.
Favorite show/movie: A few months ago I would have said Wreck It Ralph replaced “Pan!” in her heart but more recently she is on a big Cocomelon, Netflix’s Leap (ballalina movie as she calls it), Cinderella and Mulan kick. She is also anti-Moana and doesn’t want to watch it.
Favorite toy: her dolls and all things princess related. She enjoys playing with the American Girls dolls and towing her favorite one around. She’s also on a Cinderella kick and really likes Gus Gus the mouse (and received a stuffed one for her birthday!)
Favorite activity: coloring or watching a show. She favors black and brown and will take the time to color the enjoy paper or ornament before she’s done; she’s also the most willing to sit and watch TV, much more than her siblings. She also loves to play pretend napping, with her dolls and sisters using blankets and pillows on the floor.
Hand dominance: right hand
Dislikes: sleeping by herself, some sweets and being cold
Favored Parent: she’s a Momma’s girl for sure!!
Emerie Faye – the helper
Height: 38.2” (76% in height)
Weight: still hovering around 30 pounds (37% in weight)
Our little Baby B has turned into quite the sweet little girl. Emerie is such a helper and very willing to share with her sisters (when asked and even on her own accord) as well as clean up toys and get dressed on her own. She loves playing with blocks and building things, her purple monkey (seemingly named “Monk”) and her cabbage patch doll Sadi and loves to play pretend with them. Her towers continue to grow in height and she insists she doesn’t need help on them.
Emerie is a complete water baby and would live in the bathtub if allowed. She often gets an attitude because she doesn’t want to share her water from the spout and will fight for it at all costs! One of her favorite things is floating the wavy river at H2Oasis, near an adult but freely by herself in the water!
Patching the past six months has greatly improved; now that she is older and better understands rewards and obedience, we are able to get more time each day than when she was younger. I find that she’s a little more timid when we go places wearing it, but for the most part will still run, climb and slide at the playground. Instead of pulling it off immediately, she will ask when it’s time to remove it and wait until we say yes, which is SO helpful. The past few weeks the patch’s new home seems to be on Grandma Sue’s leggings, while she is wearing them no less, after she takes it off herself. Silly girl.
Emerie loves to read the entire Llama Llama Nighty Night book from memory; she loops one of the pages twice and it’s very endearing. She can recite her own name as well as both her parents, Grandma Sue, Papa Cliff and Uncle Will and Aunt Manda. She likes to remind her sisters not to run in the parking lot and is the only one of the three we don’t have to worry about darting out in front of a car.
Favorite word/phrase:I do it myself! and I want to sit in the middle! of the car, where she is definitely the best behaved.
Favorite food: she always downs her berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.) and as many pickles as available. And does snow count as a food? Because she is always eating that too.
Favorite book: she seems to favor the That’s Not My Llama book and most other Llama Llama series books. She randomly likes to read “Tyler book” from Christmas.
Favorite song: Jesus Loves Me or Dave and Ava’s Lola the Cow
Favorite show/movie: Pan (Tangled) and Cocomelon
Favorite toy: it used to be her tiny monkey but lately monkey is getting a little less love while she plays with “my purple sloth” and stuffed Olaf. She enjoys building with the magna-blocks and making towers all by herself or adding a handful of Little People into them.
Favorite activity: building towers, reading books one-on-one with you and wrapping up her Cabbage Patch doll Sadi and carrying her around.
Hand dominance: right hand but sometimes left
Dislikes: she will plug her ears at loud noises and her patch. She’s also in a kick right now where she doesn’t want to feed herself and wants someone to scoop up the food for her.
Favored parent: she plays pretty evenly between both of us
Reagan Jean – the comforter
Height: 39” (90% in height)
Weight: 32.6 pounds (70% in weight)
Miss Reagan still appears to be the tomboy of three and I’m interested to see how that plays out. She isn’t a huge fan of dress up, other than the occasionally sparkly tutu, and really likes to “drive” the four wheeler with Daddy. She plays with her cars and construction equipment the most and went through a phase of always ensuring one was in her coat pocket. She LOVES play dough and can sit at the table for an hour making shapes. Her coloring masterpieces are getting fancier by the week and several are hanging on the fridge once she agrees they are finished. Reagan loves playing at the water park; or, you know, running away from you there. She is also a girl after her Dad and Grandma Sue’s heart and loves any and all sweets.
Reagan expects you to focus if she is speaking to you and after a year will still hold your face in her hands and speak nose to nose. She concentrates when explaining a story and thinks out what she wants to say. She has mastered the art of getting dressed and will put on pants, socks and shirts without needing much help. If the pants have back pockets she will put them on backwards so she can use them- how well thought out is that! Toward the end of every evening, becoming tired equals a burst of energy and she often wants to climb all over everything (us) and irritate her sisters as they are calming down for the night. In general it takes her the longest to fall asleep in her bed (or at least to settle) at naps and bedtime.
Reagan continues to be the spontaneous singer and dancer and will often break into both when it suits her mood. The maternal instinct is growing for Rher too, as she now babies her stuffed animals. You will find her walking around the living room with a teddy bear wrapped in a blanket, whispering loving words to it and shushing her sisters because it’s trying to go to sleep! She will tell you baby is tired or baby doesn’t feel good and console it; her new baby doll with matching binkie is quite the hit. She will also bring toys to her sisters when they are upset and pat them on the head when she has to apologize.
Favorite word:why! But it doesn’t sound like why, more like wwwhhhyyyyyyyy….? and daddy fix it.
Favorite food: she is the biggest sweet tooth of the three but also likes lettuce, celery and bananas! She also loves Craig’s sweet pancakes and will eat several of them in one sitting and inhale the neighbor’s homemade lumpia!
Favorite book: the kid Bible and bedtime llama llama books. She loves to recite them for you.
Favorite song: she likes Cocomelon nursery rhymes and sings the ABCs a lot. She is definitely quite the little singer and breaks out into song quite often
Favorite show/movie: Tangled, Cocomelon and Leap
Favorite toy: she favors playing with cars and little people and always has one handy in her pocket; she really likes Daddy’s four-wheeler and her musical “cell-phone”
Favorite activity: play dough, paint and coloring – she is always asking to color, use markers, or paint something. She also really likes to decorate cookies and pretend cook her cake and cupcakes.
Hand dominance: right hand
Dislikes: being told no, having a voice raised in her direction, tags on any of her clothing and dress up
Favored Parent: she’s a Daddy’s girl all the way
So how are they different?
A perfect example of how different they all are- look at their magnetic block creations! Reagan really likes to make flat, 2D puzzles and strategically choose which color goes where. Harper generally makes a big stack and then runs off with them or demands more help from an adult. Emerie will start with one 3D square and collect little people to add to her castle as she expands it across the table or up to the sky. At some point, if no one destroys the creations, they usually end up all connected in some way or in a huge pile on the floor.
When we first overcame the fear of the loud four wheeler, everyone fought over sitting on Daddy’s lap for an excursion around the neighborhood. Now Emerie prefers sitting backwards on the sled and look at me while Harper and Reagan both like to “drive.” Harper discovered it’s fun to sit on an adults lap on the back of the actual four wheeler and look out too.
Everyone responds a bit differently to discipline. Reagan will straighten up with a stern voice in her direction much more than the other two will, Harper often needs a time out to miss the current activity, and Emerie responds to a combination of time-out and spanking, although she ends up with both a lot less often than her sisters. All three respond really well to positive praise and a reward system.
But not everything is different- of course there are also similarities to raising three of the same age at the same time. Everyone likes to sit in the middle car seat and fight over it, with Emerie the best behaved of the three during rides around town. Favored activities include the trampoline park, sledding, playgrounds, neighborhood walks, swinging (yes it needs its own category), baking, play dough, arts and crafts, anything with buckets and scoopers and pretend play. Everyone loves to play in the bathtub and make a huge mess on the bathroom floor. They all LOVE trash truck and snowplow visits, seeing forklifts at the store and helping hold things in a shopping cart. Moose sightings are a huge deal and worth talking about for days. Everyone loves their designated colors and fully believes they should never have to share something that is “their” color, including silverware and dishware, clothing and any type of toy/stuff animal that is pink/purple/teal. All three love to FaceTime with family and hold the phone themselves, hogging it as much as the parents will allow and running off with it to hide.
When asked what they wanted for dinner on their birthday, the overwhelming response from all three was cake!! In future years I plan to let each kiddo choose dinner one night over the course of the birthday week, but for now how can I refuse such an excited response! For the record, they didn’t each as much cake as you would have expected them to over birthday week! They did, however, pick the icing and berries off said cake.
Since you all know how smoothly the actually birthday went…we managed to finish prepping for a jump park birthday party last Sunday and it was pretty much a twin-fest up in the park for the morning. Later that night we attended our rescheduled dinner to Red Robin. The waiter and crew sang happy birthday Red Robin style and Harper, being a mini Becca, was super embarrassed, turned red and stuck her tongue out at everyone while Emerie and Reagan smiled and watched the charade with amusement. Everyone enjoyed the ice cream sundae and sprinkles.
We continue to open random presents we’ve forgotten about and it has really become a birthday week. I still can’t believe we are now in age three!!
Since the lovely quarantine kicked off right at their birthday last year, I thought it would be fun to do the top twelve photos of each kiddo at age 2, so here we go! This was originally a top ten, but of course I couldn’t decide which ones or possibly narrow it down to that number so top twelve it is.
So here are a few favorites throughout the year, in no particular order, for those of you that don’t get to see us all the time or don’t live locally. Lots of personality and attitude coming…
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
I couldn’t resist a side by side comparison of birthday # 2 with birthday #3. Check out the difference!!
It’s crazy to see how much smaller they were only a year ago, with so much less hair on their heads and words in their mouths. I can’t even imagine how many more changes we will have over the next year.