Ch(ea)rs to You!

We decided this week wasn’t busy enough so after daycare pick up today, we trekked over to the mall and went to get everyone’s ears pierced.

Background, the last few weeks everyone has been very vocal about my earrings, asking when they can have big girl earrings and be like mom. Reagan adamantly decides what I should wear most mornings, including my fancy beaded ones on our hike over the weekend. We talked a bit earlier in the week about a “tiny owie and then it’s over” type piercing, but didn’t go any further than that.

As usual, Craig was much more averse to tackling it while I hesitated and would have waited until they were older (I’m less fun), thinking that Emerie wouldn’t remotely do it and while Reagan thought she wanted to, she might chicken out when it came down to it.

The girls enthusiastically perused the store, checking out all the glitter, nail polish, jewelry cases and everything in between. Claire’s is literally the perfect place for the pink, purple and teal life theme we live; add little girl stuff, and they were in heaven.

They wanted to look like Emie!

Harper chose pink studs, of course, without taking much time to consider other options. Emerie picked multi-colored flowers, and Reagan chose the “teal flower” (she corrected me when I said blue) studs. In birth order, Harper trudged forward into the chair, absolutely confident in her choice to go first. That’s pretty common for her; little did she know it would be a pinch.

Needless to say, the other two watched in horror as she burst into tears after the first one. The employee doing it was so very nice and spent a bunch of time warming her up to it, making sure the impending holes were centered in the exact right spot, and explaining all the steps. Harper didn’t put up much of a fight for the second ear, although she ricochet off it like a bat out of hell and with some tears. A promised lollipop and look in the mirror stopped the tears and she was fine from them on. Thank goodness the girl was fast!

The event went downhill from there. Reagan was out of there at this point, claiming to be shopping around the store and avoiding the scary chair. She also found a wall of panda stuff, her happy place. Craig spent the next few minutes convincing Emerie, until her first ear was done. Waterworks, rage, demands for us to take it out. She yelled for me across the store, then yelled she wanted Grandma Sue. It took at least 20 minutes to convince her to hold still and get the second ear done, and a lot of snuggles afterwards and the purchase of a plush unicorn that she adopted through her tears. That one was rough.

At this point Reagan knew that didn’t look fun and wanted no part in it, and began asking for clip-on earrings and not her fancy teal ones. After some discussion, she was still not onboard, but at least Harper was back to happy and Emerie’s waterworks had stopped. I took the two off to celebrate their big-girl status with an ice cream, also giving Reagan a chance with less chaos for Craig to convince her it wouldn’t be so bad. It’s amazing how claims of pain and suffering vanish when ice cream AND sprinkles becomes an option. Harper and Reagan both picked the sherbert swirl with a load of rainbow sprinkles and waited for the sisters. Luckily we were across the mall at this point, as I assume the rage fire that is my youngest child was likely bubbling to the surface. Ultimately she ran toward us without any tears, excited for her turn at ice cream and to show us her pretty ears. So yes, in truth, we survived the entire event. Ice cream was enjoyed, dinner barely occurred later, and everyone is nearly asleep in their beds as I wrap up the evening’s adventure. Hopefully sleep will come quick and ears will stay clean until they are all healed up. I see more jewelry shopping in our future; that and I may need to start hiding some of my dangles, because I know of three little girls that want to try them on already.

Post evening torture photo. Emerie was over it and reading her book.

Ch(ea)rs! ❤

Head, Shoulders…Eyes & Ears!

Here we are again at Emerie’s next surgery. This one is unique, a combination of new ear tubes and another left eye resection surgery. After three Botox procedures, one successful and two not as much as hoped, we are back to the drawing board on straightening out her eye and convincing her brain to keep using it.

Sunday night Emerie woke up with a major ear ache on one side, which the pediatrician confirmed yesterday as a definite ear infection. After two hours of tossing and turning and prohibiting Craig and I from getting sleep, she demanded to go sleep with grandma in the guest room. Worked for us and gave me a few minutes of shut eye before the next one was up. Fortunately this didn’t hinder having the surgery, with the doctor noting that he would clean out the infected side when the tubes were placed, essentially making it feel better, with the ear drops kicking the rest.

On the drive across town Emerie excitedly pointed out , at 5:45 in the morning mind you, that darkness means fall and that mean trick or treating, then Christmas, then my birthday and then hers! It was an impressive observation so early and from a four year old!

Grandma Sue came with me this morning and Emerie loved every second of it. Balloon gloves blow up to look like little blue sharks and the longer the versed was in her system, the more hilarious that seemed to her. Lots of giggles occurred as we waited to see both doctors, and Emerie cooperated for her pulse check much better than usual. She didn’t appreciate the little girl crying across the hall, who I overheard was also getting eyes and ears worked on, but eventually blocked that out and relaxed.

We opted to do both procedures under the same anesthesia, which meant one less time going through the whole surgery process. Arriving at six AM, we were the first in line for the day for Doctor Winkle (eyes) and Doctor Kowolski (ears).

She went back with the nurses to the OR about 7:45, and by 8:10 Doctor Kowolski was out to tell us the ear tubes went in without any issues. Doctor Winkle didn’t come out with his update for more than an hour after that, as expected, and another forty minutes after that before we could go back and see her.

Everything went well. Doctor Winkle noted that her inner eye muscle was a bit tighter than he expected and that he put a little liquid (can’t remember the word he said) to help with the scar tissue, which is an issue when repeat procedures occur over the years.

Today’s recovery was different than previous surgeries. This time she really didn’t want to wake up; in fact we spent almost two hours in recovery where she lightly snored, snuggled under the heating blanket, completely out to the world. The nurse removed the IV from her hand and her chest monitors without even a flinch. Eventually we were able to con her into consciousness by rubbing the cherry popsicle on her lips, just enough for her to subconsciously want it. We tried talking to her about it first, and threatening to eat it or give it to a sister, neither of which helped. She then proceeded to eat the whole thing with both eyes closed, mumbling short word responses to questions.

Prior procedures resulted in a completely asleep child diving straight into a demanding, I need a popsicle now, kid. We typically head home within 30 minutes or so. This time around, we didn’t head to the car until about eleven, she instantly went back to sleep in her car seat while hiding under her blanket from the sun, and slept in her bed until after two! The rest of the afternoon was watching movies with snuggles- a rotation between wanting me, Craig and grandma- and warm washcloths on her eye with several pedialite popsicles. Her ears don’t seem to be any bother (albeit they look red with dried blood), but her eye is swollen and red and puffy. Not droopy like the Botox procedures, but definitely swollen and sensitive and greatly bothering her.

While we normally delay a bath for two days after a procedure, she begged so badly for one that Craig let her sit in the tub, with promises to not splash anything sensitive. Early bedtime was a definite must, with Harper and Reagan both quite supportive of letting their sister get to sleep to feel better. Early bedtime for the adults too I hope, as these days are mentally exhausting and I could have fallen asleep hours ago. I imagine it’s going to be a long night once the pain meds wane, and hope tomorrow will be a bit better for her and that we all get some rest. First thing is her post-op eye check, probably followed by a quiet day at home and a lot of coffee (for me!)

Surprise Adventures

The end of summer daycare closure inspired me to take the kids on an out of town adventure and give Craig one night and two days of working and relaxing in complete peace and quiet. Of course, I am not ready for a solo overnight trip with the kids yet, so Grandma Sue came up from Juneau to keep me company (and keep us all sane).

We got ready for the day, picked grandma up at the loading ramp at the airport, trekked over to harass State Trooper HQs and say goodbye to Daddy, and eventually loaded up into Craig’s Expedition, toting a lot of snacks, lunches packed by the girls, and backup clothes, stuffed animals and blankets.

Unlike our prior visit to the Kenai Peninsula, the girls actually napped on the drive down. Reagan drifted off to sleep by the time we hit the highway and Emerie not long after, while Harper spent more than 30 minutes chewing every little piece of food before succumbing to the sleepiness around the Portage Glacier pull-off.

We only needed one pit stop for the drive down, where we walked the boardwalk along the Kenai River, searched for big, wild mushrooms and other plants and berries, and checked out the shoreline. A nice lady took a photo of us just as the rain picked up again and we dashed back to the car.

The first night was actually quite mellow, with the girls content to play with toys at the house and color while the adults relaxed from the busy day. I wasn’t sure how the night would go, since it’s been about a year since I’ve had a solo night with the kids, when Craig traveled to Juneau last summer for a work trip. Since we’ve traveled to Becky’s before and it’s a familiar location, sleeping overnight seem to be much easier of an accomplishment than it is when we are at home. Becky read a fun bedtime story that distracted them enough from the thought Dad wasn’t there, and all three stretched out across the twin mattress with the second mattress pull out next to it, providing just enough space for everyone to shift around without awaking anyone. Other than a few moments of fussiness when each took a turn and then fell back asleep, the night went off without a hitch!

By the next morning I could already tell that the trip would be easier than our visit in June, unknowing that the girls would definitely prove their increased maturity by the end of the morning. After breakfast with Miss Becky and getting ready for the day, we loaded up into the car, anticipating a day trip to Homer. Of course by now I should be skilled at rolling with the unplanned surprises, and this day proved to be no different. As we pulled up to the first light after leaving Becky’s house, right as you enter Soldotna, and lightly hitting the break in anticipation of the red light before us, the back end of the whole vehicle slid out from behind us, almost like we hit a big patch of black ice and lost control. I fully admit I know nothing about the workings of or repairs needed for cars, and Craig is always great about keeping our maintained as needed for each season, and in that moment I immediately knew something was wrong.

With kids in the car I am far more paranoid of things happening, whether that’s checking if the other direction actually stopped at their red light before I go or to play it safe during a snow event, so on went the blinker and I eased into the left hand turn lane to pull into the O’Reilly’s service shop along the side of the road. Hitting the breaks a second time to wait to turn, the issue repeated itself. I couldn’t have more perfectly timed a major car malfunction than at a traffic light with an O’Reilly’s on one side and a Midas Auto Shop on the other; thank heavens it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, like we were for most of the prior day’s drive down.

Grandma Sue, in her infinite wisdom, came out of the shop with an older gentleman, who kindly agreed to drive the car across the street to the Midas to see if he could pinpoint the issue, since our unskilled look at the back tires was fruitless. We unloaded the girls and they trekked across the parking lot to Fred Meyer, where the mid-morning excitement apparently inspired starvation and the need for a fancy Starbucks fruit drink while he drove across the street, noting something was definitely off and making it unsafe to drive.

Long story short, the whole thing still makes me chuckle. The kind folk at Midas determined the bolt holding the rear suspension together not only came loose, but fell out altogether; hence the feeling of the back sliding out of control. When I chatted with them on the phone later that day after that revelation, they noted the Expedition was unfit to drive until the part was found and installed, and that they didn’t recommend me taking it in that condition, NOT that I wanted to. The entire morning ended up working out relatively seamlessly, thanks to Becky, who bailed us out, helped me uninstall and reinstall three car seats into her SUV, and then hitched a ride back to her house so we could take the girls to the park.

Needless to say, we did not make it to Homer that day, but we did have fun exploring a fabulous park along the river and walking all the boardwalks. The park was huge and Alaska themed, with whale tales and construction equipment and beautiful artwork along the climbers. All three were off exploring and shouting to one another at new spots were discovered and in true park visit style, everyone had a long turn on the swings and a bathroom visit. After a bit we walked down toward the boardwalk, pausing at each access point to the river to look at anything of interest, such as real life fisherman, seagulls (Emerie still calls them eagles!), rocks in the water and my personal favorite, the fact that a red apple was floating along the shoreline at random, which was far more interesting to the girls than anything else.

About a dozen or so fisherman were out as we walked along and the girls enjoyed pausing to see what each person was doing, standing out in the water. One nice group said they had caught a good number the day before, during the rainstorm we drove down in, and the current day was a bit slower but still a success. A nice gentleman brought their catch up so the girls could firsthand see it and poke the eye balls (sigh) to see if they were squishy. Next summer’s set netting adventure is almost a year away and I already can’t wait to go with them!

As we turned around to retrace our steps and grab some lunch, that same nice guy hollered up from the shoreline that one of his buddies caught one on his line. The girls leaned over the railing and watched him real it in, pull the hook out of the mouth, whack the sucker and hang it up with the rest of his catches. Emerie hollered a couple times she could see blood and all three watched the whole process with good interest. This was almost as exciting as seeing that damn red apple bobbing against the shoreline.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out at Becky’s, playing inside and out and filling a lot of tiny buckets with lake water out on the dock. Craig and William drove my car down after work that evening, with the plans to at least be able to get the girls back to Anchorage while the Expedition was fixed.

Lucky enough, Craig’s awesome cousin Jamie was able to swap vehicles with us so we could cram into her Suburban and do the day trip to Homer, much to my excitement. It took us a bit to get down there, between bathroom breaks, rainstorms, and installation of car seats, but we finally made it and it was so worth it. The girls immediately took to the beach adventure and the rain held out for the visit. Grandma picked up anything of interest and explained things to the girls while they collected pretty rocks and shells and splashed around.

We visit two beaches that day, first Bishop’s Beach as the tide rolled in and then walking along the spit through a few shops and watching all three collect dozens of shells and treasures. Emerie enjoyed finding feathers mixed into her shell collection, especially the big ones. Fearless Harper picked up the seaweed and other sufficiently wet things to show us. Reagan managed to immediately overflow her boots following William to the sand dunes before they re-submerged, which she eventually overcame to enjoy the sights.

At some point too many collectibles meant the hoodies came off and became bags tied around waists. Shell collection was certainly the highlight of the day. At one point our minions adamantly demanded Grandma walk out into the waves to select a specific shell, a couple of feet out. Under no circumstance were they going to take no for an answer. Little did they know that Grandma smartened up to this concept and packed her pockets with some shells that “she picked up” out there and handed off to unsuspecting and excited littles.

We definitely could have spent a weekend exploring the town, which I haven’t visited in so long and was much overdue to go to, but as the rain started back up we decided to head back to Sterling for Becky’s amazing brisket dinner, which we were super late for from the day’s adventure (and tasted as amazing as ever!). The Kenai Peninsula Fair was still going strong as we pulled up to Nikiski, so we took the opportunity and stopped for face painting (Mom, Dad and Grandma included), an ice cream treat and of course, a horse ride for each. Everyone wanted full unicorn faces, with each kiddo in her own color and with glitter. Craig received a brown bear on his cheek while I did a triple flower and Grandma Sue a fancy fireweed.

All three were happy to do a horse ride and climb into the saddles without too much assistance. The petting zoo part was also still open, with some young animals to love that were out of the rain. The girls all asked the nice lady with the two-day-old baby chickens a bunch of questions (as if we didn’t have baby chicks two months ago!) and learned that they hatch from eggs she had in a nearby carrier. That concept was quite interesting for all three and they asked a lot of questions. The other big hit was the three-legged goat, which Reagan excitedly told a couple of people about and continued to discuss on the way home. Very impactful stuff.

We managed to cram a family breakfast in before heading back home for the weekend, with Jaren and Savaya and Tyler joining us. I am loving having family only a few hours away and we were very blessed that the car situation was so manageable with a little help!

It was a great weekend overall. Excluding the car issue, the trip didn’t feel very stressful and all three were very well behaved and enthusiastic for every adventure we attempted. Each trip gets a bit easier and I find it so refreshing to get the new life perspective one only gets when leaving your house for a few days. It took about a week to get the part and fix Craig’s car; luckily the issue was relatively simplistic and therefore, not overly expensive, and the girls took it all in stride.

Now I’m ready for fall and another out of town adventure in the cold, fresh air. Bring on September!

Pre-K Start

First day of school jitters were much lower than I expected this week. The girls started in a new classroom for Pre-K, with a new teacher and across the building from their beloved Miss Tawni. Everyone spent much of last week visiting the new class and getting comfortable with routines standard to four-year-old instead of the three-year-olds, and even napped at the new location a time or two.

While all three claimed excitement to move up to the “big kids classroom,” they also shared the wish for Miss Tawni and a couple of classmates to join them. Realistically, most kids close in age planned to move up simultaneously, but not all and of course not their beloved teacher. Napping is no longer a requirement and more of a suggestion in this age group, with kiddos that wish (or need) to sleep receiving the opportunity to do so while others quietly play. I hope we still get school naps a bit longer; it’s easy to guess days they don’t all sleep, since that usually equals an extremely grumpy preschooler for the remainder of the evening.

Major highlights tied to the new classroom include the ability to freely use scissors and cut mounds of paper into tiny strips that get everywhere. Reagan spent an entire evening using a pair at home, after showing them to us in the room at pickup. She’s actually very skilled at cutting for her age.

Uncertain how the first day drop off would go, I opted to join Craig and brought Grandma Sue to join in on the fun. Fancy “girls night” dresses were selected for the big day as well as new, matching pig tail scrunchies, princess hoodies and lunch boxes. Thank heaven for Amazon Prime days, when back to school gear was more than 60% off!

Each kiddo happily snapped a few photos for me with the back-to-school bus board and their customized board. In honor of the milestone everyone was measured for updated height and weights:

Harper: 40.4 pounds / 3’7″

Emerie: 36.2 pounds / 3’6″

Reagan: 39.4 pounds / 3’7″

For the first time Harper and Reagan aren’t exactly the same on both height and weight, and clearly Emerie has had a growth spurt and nearly caught up to her sisters’ height.

On the drive home from the first day everyone gave me an update on their favorite parts of the day. All three answers were quite similar, with everyone stating that the best part of the day was playing with their friends and Mr. Ivan. Harper also noted being nice to her friends.

In addition to the report that everyone had a great first day- and Emerie chanting that to me a handful of times that evening- I was told the when asked who is who from a distance, Emerie shrugs and says she doesn’t know. So funny. Harper also informed me there is another Harper in her class…the first of many times that will happen in her life!

Cheers to a good first week!

Total Sassafrass

It’s been a bit since I posted a blog and thought I’d give a quick update and share some of the latest quirks the girls continue to share with us. Work continues to be incredibly busy for both Craig and I, him on the annual end of year closeout and me helping cover the rest of the grant season for airport development projects, in addition to my standard project management and job duties. We are both very thankful that the allergies and ear infections that hit mid-July last year have not yet reemerged and that the girls have been healthy and able to go to preschool continuously while we stay caught up on work.

As we start drifting toward end of summer activities, such as rain adventures, blueberry picking, and less outdoor water activities, the girls continue their current flower (bouquet) obsessions. Rose, daisy, and my poor front pansy plants now litter the living room and back deck; at least there are enthusiastic children happy to creatively play. Harper and Reagan enjoy picking raspberries from the backyard and eating them before returning inside; Emerie likes to taunt – ahem play – with the ever growing chickens, who now forcibly demand to explore the backyard, outside of their cage.

The toddler cars also reemerged and our neighbors get the honor of enjoying the spectacle of our kids driving down the street and the parents trying to keep them from getting run over by real cars or running into parked ones. Emerie greatly improved on her steering skills this summer, but also forgets the pedal is to the metal and will drive forward while looking backwards or concentrating on something that isn’t driving the car. Harper and Reagan seem to have the steering skills down and both enjoy driving. This picture fully explains everyone’s enthusiasm, Emerie’s face and all!

After last month’s unfortunate pet events, we welcomed a new member into the household, a three month old kitten. Her name started out as Molly until Reagan convinced everyone a more fitting name was Sassafras, which stuck. She’s a wild little thing and demands our attention at two or three in the morning every night, unless we manage to wear her out in the evenings. Good thing our children prepared us for that habit to continue! She really enjoys sleeping on Craig’s pillow, C-PAP and all, but turns into a raging, playful maniac the moment the first kid wakes up mid night, which is usually Reagan. A few nights I’ve caught her cuddling and sleeping in bed with Harper or Emerie; a few other nights I’ve dragged said monster out of their bedroom before the toe biting and playful scratching occurs. Overall, Sassafras fully embraces the busy, kid oriented household that surrounds my life and loves to play with the girls and run around. The girls love using the toy wands and running away from her. The chickens don’t seem incredibly upset with her presence either and simply crowd around when she gets in “their” space; not sure if that means they want to eat her or hide from her. And what does our other kitty think of her? Well he’s not ready to forgive us yet for a new foreigner, hisses when his personal space is in question and will only cuddle with her if asleep and she creeps up and settles.

Age four of the triplet life we lead produces quite the crazy opinions some days, especially when it comes to Miss Harper Anne. Of the three, she often displays the most dramatics over completely irrelevant things and it can be quite hilarious, much to her dismay. For example, the other day she was furious with me at bedtime because the following day wasn’t Christmas, and that winter wasn’t here yet (since she knows Christmas is during the snow season). She huffed and puffed and laid in her bed, with a you’re not my mom anymore response…as if I can control time! One night at bedtime she claimed with a huff that she couldn’t go to bed because I – her loving mother – didn’t make HER bed up that day. And at dinner one night we had pasta and I noted the leftovers would be in their lunch the following day. Harper scolded me for not putting said pasta in her lunch from earlier that day, and insisted that issue should be fixed by yours truly. Time be damned, Mom, go back five hours and make my lunch with pasta like I want. Kids I tell you…

It’s not all chaos and dramatics…well I mean it mostly is, but other moments the girls dole out sound advice. After a preschool fire drill one afternoon, they all reminded me on the way home, don’t be scared, be prepared, and excitedly shared their experience for the day about fire. They also strongly noted their teacher keeps them safe and wouldn’t let fire hurt them, even if she needed a firefighter to help her. True words!

Reagan is on a cooking kick this month and I often find her playing by herself and cooking a pretend masterpiece meal or tea party for her sisters. One afternoon she asked, Mom, what is your favorite cake I can make you? My response, of course, was a homemade German chocolate cake, what Craig makes for me every year! She went into her kitchen and then was quietly repeating her recipe out loud to herself. Add a little German, add a little chocolate, and a little more German. Hahaha…it’s the thought that counts.

Emerie continues to live her best life and chase chickens, taunt the kitten, pick flowers whenever possible and avoid major rain puddles that her sisters splash her direction. We learned a couple weeks back that she needs another more significant eye surgery that will couple with adding new ear tubes back in, something planned for the end of this month. She continues to amaze me when you consider she tackles everything her sisters do, but with one eye significantly weaker and often when the strong eye is patched. She’s a rock star.

Next up? A two day preschool closure starting tomorrow and next week, aging up to the four year old classroom at school! I’m not sure who is having the hardest time with that thought, Miss Tawni, the girls, or me!