The Potty Saga

When people ask someone where they typically spend most of their time at home, one usually responds with the garage (which would be a Douglas boys response!), the kitchen cooking, or maybe the family room spending time with family…but theoretically the answer isn’t usually “the bathroom” (well I hope not anyway!). We can, in fact, say this is where we spent a great deal of our mornings, afternoons and evenings over the past year. Why, you may ask? Two words.

Potty. Training.

This blog is a very long time coming and I can happily report that this household only uses one nightly pull-up (for one!) and NONE during the day!! Huge milestone? Absolutely? Huge money saver? YES. Not buying multiple diaper boxes and tons of wipes on every Costco run is very much appreciated by my wallet.

It’s been a number of months now since the original claim that we are a potty trained household, which occurred sometime over the winter. The girls greatly excelled at their new skill by November/December of last winter, with the potty training saga beginning for real in September when they went off to their first daycare experience.

So how did we get here? It’s definitely been a process, one that I expected to be so much worse than it actually was. I agonized and dreaded the thought of teaching all three at once and spending all day long doing nothing but potty and repeat, potty and repeat; but once we found the groove, it moved along quite well. Large credit goes to my three littles who caught on very quickly!

I have a number of fellow toddler moms with kiddos that seem to fear the idea of potty training or clearly dislike behind pushed to do it. My potty training mindset was similar at this time last year, more of a horrific and dreaded nightmare when musing about it, much of the time before the girls went to off to daycare in the fall. We knew a new and difficult period was upon us, as often happens while raising young kiddos, and planned to push the pain out a few more months until we believed everyone would be more ready. In reality, it was more so we as parents weren’t quite ready to tackle the consistent potty training period and needed more time to mentally strategize and prepare.

To go back a bit farther, we gently eased into the idea at around 18 months old by buying three matching, lady bug potty seats. The first few days the girls carried them around the living room and sat on them, without any diapers coming off, just to get them used to the “new” thing and take the pressure off (no pun intended?!). This moved into a post-bath potty chair time- once the girls were dried off, one by one, we introduced them to the idea of peeing on the potty chair before getting dressed in their bedroom. This processed occurred each night for a number of months and slowly all three would go pee in the seats. At the very beginning everyone received a treat for sitting for a period of time on said potty, with this eventually stretching to only when they went pee. The girls found it quite exciting to sit on them in their bedroom and talk and giggle. It didn’t take too long before they could actually go, even just a little drop, letting us know they were ready to move forward to bigger potty training steps.

The original reward for this monumental act of control meant an M&M was handed to the achiever. This treat was found to leave messy, melted chocolate on our freshly bathed babes and was quickly replaced with jelly beans. Side note, using jelly beans also allows the toddler to choose colors and learn both at the same time while giving them an opportunity to make their own choice on something. This is quite the hit in our household, even a year later. Not only do they love them, but they excitedly focus on what color to pick each and every time. There are still constant demands of Mommy, I need two “lelli beans” for pooping! Emerie seems the most concerned, to date, on receiving the reward for her efforts; the other two occasionally remember now and ask for them.

Joint flushing time

I’ll also note by the time we started the post-bath potty time, all three girls were showing great signs of interest in the concept, with Reagan leading the charge. Had Reagan been the only toddler in our house at the time, she would have been potty trained by her second birthday! She was very ready and able to trudge forward on this new skill and bring her sisters along for the ride.

Most of last summer was this minimal process after bathing- we did not actively practice potty training throughout the day. The girls started telling us when they had dirty diapers and wanted a change, which shifted into diaper changes based on when they noticed something was amuck “down there!”

The girls were rock stars right off the bat when it came to number one, with Reagan leading the pack and able to hold it, go about her day and remember when she needed to go, and nap in big girl undies early on! She did that last step all on her own and Harper was right behind her on nap holding. It took another couple of months before Emerie was dry during nap time; the daycare ended up noting that she didn’t wear diapers at nap when we were still putting them on when at home. I learned from that experience that each kiddo more-or-less showed us when they were ready for the next step and could hold it through nap time, and eventually overnight.

Number two was a little more (or a lot more) effort, especially when it comes to three. They have moments of all collaborating and going at the same time in their undies, and then insisted on tagging along together for the bathroom experience, which can take forever. Who knew how tight a half-bath could feel when you have one adult and three children together! It often seems if one had an accident, for whatever reason the others follow suit, even when we know they recently went. I’m not sure if that is a multiples thing or just kids being kids thing, but they still do it even now.

By this past spring, the much used diaper changing stations for the past two years were converted to just bins of wipes and big-girl underwear. Since we live in a split level home, it’s highly useful to have clean underwear within hands’ reach no matter where you are, making it easier to swap out dirty for clean when spending all that time in the bathroom with three littles. The main floor of our house does not have a bathroom, so the three ladybug potty chairs reside against the wall in the dining room. Even now, with all three fully trained with minimal accidents, everyone still uses them throughout the week. This is often because they don’t want to trek downstairs to go, they want you to go with them and you are doing something at the moment, or it’s a #2 emergency and it’s the closest option. As we round out this winter, I hope to take them away in lieu of using actual facilities going forward. One very important word of advice when emptying said portable potties. Do NOT, under any circumstance, lean over the toilet as you empty the contents in. Trust me on this…

Over the past year or so the girls put their new skills into their creative play. All three went through a phase of constantly “play” scolding their dolls, claiming they pooped or peed in their pants, stripping off their clothes, and using play doll diapers and real wipes. The phrase you not getting a jelly bean for peeing and a finger wiggle was likely uttered AT LEAST million times. The poor baby dolls ended up in constant time out for accidents, something we do NOT promote and I’m not sure why they initiated that but it was a little funny to witness.

Potty win: no idea when I took this video!

We have the method down for getting out-and-about. Demands are met for everyone to use the bathroom prior to loading up in the car, no matter if it’s a short trip to Target or a long drive to adventure. We had a few “lesson learned” experiences on park or play dates and soon after purchased potty chairs for each vehicle. This ultimately removed the big stress of trekking everyone into a public bathroom, venturing into a gross porta-potty or leaving a park to find somewhere to go and has saved us dozens of clothing changes. Prior to the portable potty chair, we had some…errr…interesting ways to handle a kiddo that HAD to go right then. Overall car seat accidents are rare; this is likely coupled with the thought that most major potty training occurred during the pandemic, meaning we weren’t spending time in indoor public places and not out and about nearly as often.

So what have I learned about the potty training process in triplicate? Well I’ve never potty trained a kid before this, I’m pretty sure Craig has which helped; here are the things I’ve noticed and learned:

  • Don’t push it. Take the pressure off and let them show you when they are ready to start.
  • While my three littles are the same age and gender, they are not all the same and advance at different rates for different skills.
  • Rewards are often and important, make them something that isn’t messy or melts everywhere.
  • High praise gets every one pumped up and then they encourage each other.
  • Make a huge deal when a successful #2 in the potty happens and make sure the siblings witness the excitement!
  • Get extra step stools so one can wash hands while the next one is on the toilet. As they start going more separately, we now use the extra steps for teeth brushing.
  • Find a way to lock the main bathroom door open while going through the training process. The girls, even now, enjoy locking the door or slamming it on sisters (and parents) and while less private, they don’t need the privacy while they are learning the skill!

In addition, you will find yourself uttering phrases you never thought possible from your own mouth! For example, I have demanded them to “not bite the toilet seat,” to “stop licking the toilet seat,” to “stop putting popcorn in the toilet,” to stop fighting over the toilet seat and step stool, and even to give sister back her underwear! Ah yes, such fun memories to share with them as teenagers.

What types of potty chairs?

I would not have this answered a year ago, but now I can easily say the built in kid potty chairs from your local home improvement stores are amazing. They are relatively expensive, but they are nice to have and only require a step stool for the kids to access the facility. We started out with three of the same portable (ladybug style) potty chair, one for each kiddo, and completely stand behind both for ease of use. The girls all excelled at using them together. During full on potty training mode, we purchased several foldable toilet seats with a built in step stool and handles to climb up on. This seat was great while they learned more balance and became acclimated with using the “big kid potty,” but eventually they tried to remove them from the room and we swapped out.

What if my kid is afraid of loud public toilets?

This is a major issue that we still deal with, especially with Emerie. Our best advise so far is the potty chair in the car when you really need it, since kiddos pick up quickly where places have “loud potties” (like Target and the jump park!). In addition, keep a small stack of sticky notes in your purse or kid bag. When using a family bathroom (or any really) stick one note onto the toilet sensor and it won’t automatically flush until you force it to. Amazing tip to keeping the littles from running out screaming!

So where are we now?

Teaching the dolls new skills

We are now entering the phase that tells me we should convert out of cribs soon, though I am sooo not ready. Here and there we get calls in the middle of the night to Mommy I go pee! and most of the time they go right back to sleep. It won’t be long before they can get up solo and then climb back into bed…we shall see. And Emerie is starting to wake up dry more mornings than in the past; we believe we are close to no more pulls ups!

Even at almost three and a half, we are still living on the post potty training high and are still enjoying the non-winter aspect of last minute “pee-ventures” that I know we will have later this year with full snow gear already on.

To any of you reading this who are in the midst of triplet potty training or thinking about starting- get some wine, lots of snacks and put piles of clean underwear everywhere across the house…and you’ll be okay. It’ll all be worth it once you get through it! I’m glad to have that stage over and done with and look forward to spending more time outside the bathroom.

Alaska Beach Babies

This is the summer to finally test out Alaskan adventures with the three littles- why put it off any longer…until traveling is easier to handle? While going any distance away from home is minorly daunting, it is way more doable now than the prior few summers. I imagine it’s going to continue to get a bit easier each time and the more we go, the better the littles will do!

Our first (planned) family adventure and fishing trip is noted in the history books as a major success! So great, in fact, that we stayed a third night for more fun. The drive down had many comments of we’re going on a “venture!” and other exclamations of excitement; so much so that they didn’t really want to play at our brief park stop in Girdwood and we loaded back into the car quicker than expected. We brought down plenty of “in-car” entertainment- the girls colored with water pens (an amazing car activity!), played with toys on their lap seats, listened to music and commented on things out the window, watched a few TV shows, and ate their weight in snacks from their backseat snack provider, Grandma.

The first chuckle of the trip occurred prior to arrival. We pulled over at a lake for a quick bathroom break and the girls insisted on checking out these new potties, also known as a no electricity or water hut with a hole in the ground toilet (far better than outside!). All three were CONVINCED this weird bathroom set up had a loud potty, don’t flush it; even after my insistence that was not the case. It’s entertaining to see some of the toddler mentalities when it comes to exciting things like bathrooms! I will also mention the whole four days we only had one kiddo potty accident; which is AMAZING since we were out and about and on the go for most of the trip!

Overall weather for the whole weekend was perfect for both fishing and keeping littles happy and cozy while out in nature. Skies were overcast with brief sun peeking through, no breeze the first day and minimal the second meant hoodies sufficed for staying warm and the rain stayed at bay until we packed everything up the last day to go back to base camp. No bear or moose encounters happened the entire trip! A couple eagles flew overhead throughout the visit and we taught the girls how to chase the seagulls off the beach and fish lines- those are some very cute videos! Rain was timed well with evening and after fish activities and only mild on the return trip.

The girls did FANTASTIC and crashed hard in the car as we drove back to our base camp both days. They acclimated to the concept of a burning fire immediately and relaxed on their lawn chairs around it, eating snacks, chatting and playing with rocks and sand. The sand buckets were a hit, more so the first day than the second, and lots of filled water buckets were toted from the shoreline back up to the play area. Sand throwing was kept to a minimum most of the time; here and there we had to wipe off sandy faces or rinse out angry mouthfuls, but overall they did pretty well. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the triplet wrestling match the second day, with everyone trying to drag each other down and (mostly) laughing.

The girls enjoyed riding on the pull behind trailer that could fit all the kids and two adults without getting stuck! A few joy rides were given and a circle track made- a loop the kids ended up chasing one another around on for a good amount of time. Emerie favored the rides the least (she appears to be more hesitant like me on some of the craziness) while Harper and Reagan enjoyed the bouncing and speed. They also played in the “poop hole,” as the men coined it; and could impressively climb out of it like nobody’s business. It’s handy to use the chest of a fellow sibling as leverage to push oneself up…I’m sure there are some fun toys buried in there for someone in the future to find.

I should mention that we did actually fish during this excursion, setting nets out in the water based on the tides and letting them do the work for us. Craig went down the first night to help the guys while Grandma Sue and I played with the kids, Grandma bathed them while I had quick jet-ski ride on the lake, and then everyone settled and went to bed. Sleeping arrangements went better than planned; likely due to Grandma herding the sleepy cattle into one big bed (after melatonin) and convincing everyone to sleep near each other without fighting. The next two mornings were spent on the beach, setting the nets and hanging out doing all things beach related. The girls did surprisingly well at entertaining themselves and tagging along to watch the boys accomplish actual fishing. The kids also threw rocks in the water and collected uniquely colored ones- the laundry later proved that. Tiny shells were also at random down the way; Emerie especially has a good eye for finding them. They helped pick up sticks for the fire and pulled grass to help get it going.

A reel expert can tackle anything

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The assembly line method worked quite well once the nets were pulled and fish were ready for “processing.” The girls wandered around, providing comments at the spectacle while each adult did their job of de-tangling the fish from the net, throwing them in the big trashcans, cutting fillets, washing off the fish cuts, or throwing them in the freezer. We had it down to a science in no time! The kids particularly enjoyed opening and closing the cooler lid as new cuts were thrown onto the ice.

Everyone was willing to poke at the fish, especially the eyeballs, but no one would hold one. The girls were very curious and watched the experience for a bit, not getting too close. Craig convinced Harper and Emerie to give the fishies a kiss; under no circumstance was Reagan about to do it.

All three kiddos helped chase the seagulls off at the end of each day and really enjoyed hollering at them to get off the beach. We walked down the beach and chased them away- something the girls thought was hilarious. An impressive amount of birds will congregate once any amount of fish guts are out and while a little daunting, they all bravely ran toward them and watched them fly off.

We ended up with a good amount of red salmon to stock up the freezer and send home with Grandma and have already decided another trip next year is absolutely warranted. Our first three night adventure taught us that A) the girls do pretty well out of normal routine when it’s planned, B) overnight set up is very important to the success of the trip and happy kiddos (and parents) and C), having fun is actually doable! We are so thankful for Becky, who opened her house to us and let the kiddos run wild and to my boss and his family for extending the fishing invitation, kids and all. It was a really great few days and I’m glad we ventured out to have some fun. Once the weather turned, we were able to have dinner and some jump park fun with family before we returned home and catch up too.

One of the other best parts of this past weekend? I forgot about the existence of COVID- in other words, we weren’t surrounded by masks, social distancing, and paranoia. We were able to enjoy nature, being outside in our beautiful state, and socializing with with others like we did prior to 2020 (and kids). It was refreshing to get back to how things should be and our new normal with kiddos in tow. Planning for more trips is already underway, now that we know we survival is plausible for a couple days away!

Trash Truck

Thursday mornings are a popular day of week for my animated tots- this is likely due to the morning spectacle of the trash or recycling trucks taking away our leftover weekly goodies. So it comes as no surprise that one of this week’s toddler highlights was a visit to Blue Arctic Waste Solutions to meet a real life trash man and see his truck!

We hyped it up for a few days prior and then trekked across the city to their office. It was a beautiful day out and the girls were already demanding to see Bill from the time we buckled them in car seats to the time we parked the car. I’m happy to report they were total charmers throughout entire visit and didn’t try to steal a truck (although I’m sure they thought about it!).

Small details on adventures should always be pointed out…such as the fact that all the littles demanded to wear their tutus on this excursion without any prompting from Grandma or Mom. That made everything even more adorable!!

Everyone climbed into a few of the trucks under repair and sat in the seats way up high. Bill showed them the truck horn and I’m not sure that really impressed them; Emerie instantly covered both ears as everyone pointed out the obvious…that it was loud. Someday we will get used to noise, but it’s clearly not this month. Believe it or not, but all three can fit on one front seat side and it is quite endearing. The wiggling though, prevents that from being very safe so we got down from that and went back to the most exciting part of the visit in the eyes of the three-year-olds…the green forklift.

Three excited, miniature “trash ladies” climbed right into that forklift and started pushing buttons, pulling levers, pretend driving the steering wheel; all with big smiles and excited conversation and with minimal sisterly pushing. This household may like trash trucks, but we LOVE forklifts.

The second favorite part of the visit was the Blue Arctic Waste goodies Bill pulled out in the office. The girls left with small containers of mints (and a lot of mints found in their laundry the next day!), bubble wands, a coveted chapstick for each, and balloons (that were popped within 20 minutes of being home but well loved in their brief existence). A bag of mini Snickers were also opened in the car as we drove away.

It is wonderful to see the world expand through the eyes of your kiddos. Garbage trucks are not something we think so much about as adults, but to kids? They are amazing and bring exclamation and joy. They scoop up your trash and make it disappear; and then go to the next house and do it again. Their presence involves a good amount of shrieking. The girls still believe all collected trash goes to the dump and is handed off to Wreck-It-Ralph, since well, he lives in the dump, Mom!

Forklifts bring that same sentiment, especially at Costco. It was exciting, to say the least, that the girls had the opportunity to get up close and person with one and it showed in their smiling faces. They made sure everyone later knew I ride a green forklift!

Thank you so much to Bill and Blue Arctic Waste Solutions for letting us explore and see a little of your world. The girls are still talking about it.

Growing and Thriving

As the girls continue to grow we are starting to see more kid (versus toddler) behavior show. Things like morning greetings either fully excited and ready to release from the. Rib in a blast of excitement (toddler) or rolling over and pulling the pillow over their heads at the sight of light (kid). Harper now likes to roll over and put the pillow over her head when she doesn’t want to get up and not move until you make demands that you’ll leave her there while her sisters are up and rolling. Reagan usually stands up and wants to snuggle immediately while Emerie will pull her blanket up over her and snuggle in more to her bed for a few more minutes, asking me to close the blinds because it’s too bright.

Favorite colors are continuing to emerge and it’s notable that at age three the girls are already venturing from their preordained NICU colors of pink, purple, teal. We assigned them at random so it’s not highly surprising. Emerie is on a blue kick and constantly asks for blue nail polish. Her new glasses have blue frames instead of last year’s purple and yellow tipped ones. Reagan is still a fan of purple and trends toward that color on many things; of course this doesn’t change her belief that all things green and blue should be hers. And Harper, my sweet Harper…is still on her black kick! She recently enthusiastically chose a new black swimsuit and was so excited to wear it. She maintains her love of the black marker and black hat, but definitely not the black jelly beans (licorice flavor). And for some reason all three girls dislike the color yellow (referred to as lullo still to my joy!).

My favorite toddler pronunciations include randoms words like marshmallow (sounds like “farshfallow”), four wheeler (“four-lala”), ballerina (“balla-leena)”) and a few others I haven’t remembered to write down. We are also into the toddler story-telling times. Reagan told me a whole story the other day about planting a seed in her water bucket, watching it grow into a tree, and that it became soooo beautiful! There are plenty of moments where all three will elaborate on a story at the same time and that is a LOT of information to process at once! Emerie enjoys telling everyone her first, middle and last name and it’s adorable. If asked she will tell people her sisters names as well; Reagan also repeats the names of people she knows at random- it goes from immediate family to naming off cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends. Reagan also calls the missing, light up peacock in the neighbor’s yard (it was a snow decoration) a moo-cock. Harper is now repeating some of the “less desirable” words that come out of our mouths as we struggle to raise triplets in the day to day. I will leave that to your imagination, since we are trying to break her of it…

The past few months I’ve paid attention to the girls new phrases and cute words. They get a few common phrases backwards and while they say them correctly in a sentence, they opposite intention is intended. For example, slamming a gate in front of someone, when they are on the other side, always comes with a I lock you in! This same sentiment is used when slamming the front or back door and yelling they locked you in, versus out. In the car when someone is sitting in the very back row, they will comment grandma is sitting in front of me or when Craig is driving a I don’t want to sit in front of daddy instead of behind. Music requests are also backwards, with turn it up meaning it’s too loud and turn it down demands to increase that volume. For now these cute things are endearing!

Speaking of music, we have a return of Patty Cake as a favorite. They will all sing it together in the back seat and it’s so cute my heart might burst listening to it! Other new requests consist of the Hairbrush Song from Veggie Tales and Five Little Monkeys, with the occasional Shake It Off demand. We also seem to listen to a lot of Mulan and Tangled soundtracks.

Current movie request in the day-to-day have more variety than this time last year, when the only thing watchable (according to those two year olds) was Tangled, Moana or Wreck-It Ralph. Now that we’ve branched out to other exciting things, requests vary from Abominable (Snowman/Yeti), which the girls refer to as the “sad snowman who has an owie,” Curious George, Blippi (most often the vehicles episode), Leap (a major favorite), and Lilo and Stitch. It usually takes a couple nights to finish one and at this point I’m not sure which is whose favorite.

Now that the ground has warmed up and leaves sprouted, our yard work consists of the children demanding we find new earthworms for them to play with and running around with all kinds of buckets and toys. Harper and Reagan will run around with the worms while Emerie is a little less inclined to touch the slime and immediately tosses them away. All other bugs are referred to as spiders, regardless of the accuracy, so many excited spider, look! shrieks occur day-to-day.

The weather in early June increased into the high 60s (finally!) and even pushing 70, so the tiny pool and water table made their summer debuts. Yes, I poured buckets of hot water from the sink into the pool; it’s definitely not hot enough for hose water yet and they did NOT like that frigid water last year. Throw in the monster wind at our house and the warm water keeps them happy longer. Added vocabulary means they now express their dislike for the water temperament. The first day the girls played a solid two hours without much intervention, simply by playing with buckets and scooping water all over the place. The second day was closer to three hours, after a solid nap with a promise of push-pops if they slept. The sprinkler and tiny, sand buckets allowed the girls to play without fighting for a long time. Throw a few more tea cups and pots into the mix for even more water fun. Who knew how exciting scooping water across the backyard and pouring it into cups could be! And it is extremely thrilling when we have moments of everyone getting along, doing their own thing, and NOT FIGHTING. They aren’t super common (yet) but at least we get them every now and then and hope to see an increase in that time this season.

A 99 cent bag of decorative glass beads resulted in grand entertainment as well. I threw all these decorative beads away last summer with the fear the girls might find them and choke; this year is a whole new ballgame and they LOVE to collect them, carry them around in backpacks and containers and boxes, and randomly holler at you when they can’t find one, which is all. the. time. Other than those grumpy moments, the girls really enjoy collecting and toting around.

Craig removed yet another baby gate, the one allowing blockading our main level from downstairs, leaving only two more in the house (one to my office and one to upstairs). We’ve talked about doing this for a while but some evenings it was needed to keep everyone contained downstairs regardless of their desire to be there. Removing it went smoothly and so far no issues destroying the half bathroom when out of sight! The best part is, since it spent more than two years in that location, we are so used to stepping over the bottom bar that we are practically tripping down the half-flight of stairs because it’s no longer there. That muscle memory is strong!

It feels great to open the house up more and get back to a semi prior-to-kids setting. Warm weather allows bigger toys to go outside on the back deck, meaning no play kitchen or Home Depot tool bench resides in the living room for the moment. It feels strange to have both recliners, the couch and our coffee table in the room; that hasn’t happened since before the baby jumpers stage! Cabinet locks are removed from the pantry area and some of the kitchen and either the girls haven’t noticed or don’t see anything interesting to get into.

House projects are back in full swing- Craig is busy busy getting things around the house caught up. This includes small projects, paint touch ups and gardening as well as removal of the unused hot tub. The yard feels so much larger without that monstrosity blocking the view from the kitchen window; it also gave more space to add a minor deck addition to better use the space. He removed the custom deck gate that we used so much the past two years to keep kiddos contained and pulled out a railing- not something we could have done in the past two years without it messing with the toddler containment and survival mode.

Warmer weather also means we have entered the “band-aid season” like a hurricane! What is this? Well, if you’d really like to know, it’s that time during the summer when the kids legs look like red, spotted polka dots against tan skin. This isn’t just because you can see said injuries while in shorts, but it’s the time when the toddlers are so busy running amuck, away from you, across playgrounds and into new adventures and wilderness; backwards, upside down, and all over the place that they have tumbles, falls, collisions and general moments of disaster that result in crying, bleeding and demands for more band-aids. Wow, that was a mouthful!

It’s that time of year when toddlers are so busy running amuck, away from you, across playgrounds and to adventure, backwards and upside down that that they have tumbles, falls, collisions and general disaster resulting in crying, bleeding meltdowns.

said every mom ever

Counting those injuries is good practice for the kids, with Harper currently winning with SIXTEEN scrapes/bruises/scratches on her hands and legs! She takes the cake on this because of one main injury over the weekend, falling on a metal grated ramp and producing a good set of bloody scratches on her leg and hands. She now asks Grandma to count her owies. Reagan managed to step backwards and fall over a rock at the conservatory, producing a little ouchie, and Emerie tumbled forward into the gravel and her glasses scratched her nose up to match Harper’s legs! A lot of band-aids and “lotion” seem to fix this for the most part.

Grandma Sue and I visited the wildlife conservatory this week on a sunny, daytime adventure. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like we had a GOOD day with the girls, with things going smoothly and attitudes obedient and happy, but this was definitely one. They did great on both drives, with the way back a decent nap for all three once they settled down. I might also mention we made it through construction (rock blasting) both directions without having to stop at the flagger, which is very rare and much appreciated.

The wind was gusting at least fifty the entire visit and while the animals didn’t seem to mind too much, the girls didn’t appreciate it but remained good sports. We redressed in hoodies, coats and sunglasses to stay warm and keep the kicked up dust out of our eyes and adventured on foot. Emerie’s new glasses have attachable magnetic sunglasses so I finally pulled out the hidden sunglasses for the other two and everyone was excited. The favorite animal of the day was definitely the first one visited, the three-legged porcupine named Kit-Kat. Shock, awe and immediate discussion was held at the sight of him peeing in his water bowl. TMI? Maybe but the girls observed it and out rightly wanted to know why he did it! The only other notable comments from the trip were the exclamation that the fox has a fireplace!, which was more of a electrical box in his cage, and the bison play basketball! because an irrelevant purple ball was out in the field with them. Random observations are likely one of my favorite parts of outdoor excursions.

Everyone insisted on collecting massive sized rocks to lug around the place. We did not discourage this since the goal of sleepy toddlers is always on our mind; by the time we made it halfway across the exhibits the girls backpacks were filled up with a few nice-sized rocks in addition to their juice, snack and dandelions. Harper carried a bouquet of dandelions well over an hour, citing they were for daddy. It is so wonderful not carrying a “house-full” of supplies in a diaper bag or backpack now that everyone is more grown up. That, and they LOVE wearing those backpacks. The wings flopped in the wind the entire time like little angel wings.

Summer is off to a good start and now that they are a bit older, I feel like going new places is much more doable. It still contains a major level of stress for me, especially when more than an hour away from home, but is also much more doable than the past two summers and much overdue.

The Binkie Fairy

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.

Tiny binkie babies

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.

Checking out their new necklaces!

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!

They keep on growing up!

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 the little 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… 🙂