While our family has so many things to be thankful for in our lives, having the kids feeling well for Thanksgiving this year wasn’t one of them. Having the kids feeling well for Halloween wasn’t one of them either, so fingers crossed for Christmas!
By mid-morning on Thanksgiving, and after Grandma Sue flew up here and created a smorgasbord of treats for the day, we made the call to cancel our meet up with the cousins, as to not share the second crud to enter our house in a month. This one is a bit different than a few weeks ago, with Reagan again instigating with the deep, dry cough, but the other two claiming stomachaches (which later turned to coughs). While Harper had no fever, she clearly felt miserable and put herself down for a nap about 11:30. Emerie, on the other hand, seemed entirely fine, but presented a 101 fever that morning.
So while this probably isn’t holiday for the books, we still have so many things to be thankful for. For example, it’s easy to forget how much easier our daily lives are now that the girls are older, and even easier to forget the barely survivable age three. Don’t lie, we’ve all been there!
We are also extraordinarily lucky to have generally healthy kids, enough food on the table, a warm roof over our heads, plenty of toys and crafts, and a wonderful life in this beautiful state. The girls have built-in playmates, even when they fight, and are now playing games with one another and letting that creativity emerge. They all love their preschool and teachers and have grown to have many friends. Craig and I are very lucky to have good, supporting jobs (and bosses) and stability and flexibility from them. I am constantly reminded that having a supportive boss, who values family and reality that life happens, really improves and relieves some of my daily stress! Sometimes I get in my own head about how hard life can be, and I have to remember how truly lucky we really are.
Now that we are full blown into sickness #2, the “triple echo” is back in effect. I don’t know if this is a random thing, a multiples or sibling thing, or just a full on coincidence, but the girls have once again started echoing each other. For instance, when one gets up and wanders into our bed in the middle of the night from a coughing fit, the other two may be fully asleep but will join that sister in a quick coughing fit and then just roll over back to sleep. When the escapee (to my bed) has other fits throughout the night, it’s almost like the ones sleeping across the hall copy and cough in sync. It’s actually a bit weird!
It works on longer distances too, but this could once again just be coincidental or the sharing of germs in a similar time frame. This week Harper coughed so hard she threw up; luckily she was already home for the day with a fever and not at school. Within about fifteen minutes Craig received a call that Emerie was puking at school, after running around in the gym. Coincidence or triplet thing?
When the girls were newly home from the NICU, for the first three days they co-slept in the master bedroom and would echo one another in baby speak while completely snuggled in their swaddling and cribs. You might think, awww how cute! But in reality, it literally kept my dramatically overtired mom brain from catching a few zzzz’s, listening for any sound that might be off; and exactly why we moved them into the nursery so quickly. The constant echo would be crazy for two, let alone throwing a third in there and it stayed on repeat all night long.
Now that they are older, the echo seems to stick to the coughing nights, that and the synchronized puke fests, which do happen upon occasion, even at age four. I could do with less of those! Often I witness the coughing ones in the dead of night, when I’ve fallen asleep in the nursery chair after convincing someone to remain in their own bed. One kiddo will start the cough, fully asleep, and after a few seconds the second will respond, and then the third. It’s weird and it doesn’t always wake them up, and just like that, it’s done.
My last guess is since they’ve grown up together, eat and nap and go to bed together, everyone is just in-sync and don’t know anything else. They dislike doing things alone (like sending only one to school for the day) and enjoy the comfort of their siblings, even during the constant fighting. When one is gone, the others will point out they miss them. They truly can be sweet when they want to be!
So for now, we are probably more than halfway through sickness number two of the winter, and hope to be feeling better by the preschool Christmas concert on Friday that I REALLY want to go to. The Christmas tree went up last weekend and everyone was excited to look at all the different ornaments and hang them on the tree. We only had one mishap with Reagan sidestepping off a chair as she leaned to hang one up. She has a pretty nasty bruise on her thigh now. They were all thrilled to see the ones colored last year throughout the winter, and enthusiastically decorated the lower half of the tree. And now we get to enjoy the holiday ambiance over the next month, since it seems like we will be home for a lot of it, avoiding the sub-zero cold weather and resting up.
I am way behind on providing updates on our current every day lives and I fully blame the crazy work deadlines that the last month have held for the job I’m covering. So let’s go backwards a little, to the end of August, when I started writing this blog right after the girls’ shift to the pre-K classroom at school.
We started out the school year in typical fashion- the first week meant the stomach flu for all three kiddos, each about a day apart, and an ear infection for Harper. On Friday Emerie made it a whole 20 minutes at school before getting the phone call that she was throwing up again. While the puking derailed our plans to visit the fair later that day, the decent weather the following day ultimately worked out for a better overall visit. And I’m happy to say that both parents managed to avoid the stomach flu, which was greatly appreciated!
After sitting in the eternal, never moving line of cars waiting to park at the fair, we opted to bring the rolling wagon with us and stop at a few of the easy booths right inside the door. The girls sat on top of the big, stuffed moose and took a photo with it, munched on some fancy donuts on a stick, and didn’t immediately run off into the abyss of people. We went to the rides pretty early into our visit, presuming the excitement might make grumpy preschoolers appear before we were ready to be done for the day.
I wasn’t sure what rides everyone would like to go on, since Reagan and Emerie are often timid on a lot of things, while Harper usually sticks to her wild side and the great need for speed. The first ride of the day was a roller coaster, because why not go big to start. We hadn’t walked over to the younger kid rights at that point, and just went for it. Craig and I both went on with them; side note- I definitely forgot how hard it is to fit my knees behind a kid roller coaster seat! Emerie insistently opted to ride behind me and all by herself, while Harper and Reagan each plopped down with an adult. All three shrieked in excitement and actually loved it; even Miss Independent Em. But I will say, the second roller coaster did not meet that same sentiment for Reagan, who hid in Papa Cliff’s lap for all the loops and refused to go on any more coasters for the rest of the day. The favorite rides for the day turned out to be the airplane spinning rides and the construction truck driving; all went multiple times. We finished out all the rides with the big slide in the sky, and then did everyone really wants to do at the fair…EAT. So much food, and in usual fashion the girls wanted french fries. I enjoyed a delicious turkey leg with Grandma Sue, since the girls wouldn’t touch it. Surprisingly enough, they all liked William’s crab fritters and wanted more of that!
The favorite purchase of the day for me was the girls getting Alaska Chick hoodies in their colors (which are huge and put away for this winter). If you asked them what their favorite thing was, I imagine everyone would respond the super cool butterfly wings they wore the rest of the visit. They attached to their shoulders and wrists and resulted in three, happy girls running through the crowd as butterflies. Did I mention this made them so much easier to spot as well? And of course, adorable. I’m happy to say the day sits in the good memories and successful activities side of my brain, and I’m glad we made the effort to go.
We finished out the busy weekend by going berry picking in Whittier, which is now going to be an annual family event, or so I hope. Anchorage weather was very crummy this year; once we trekked through the tunnel and into Whittier, the sun was out and the weather just gorgeous. We spent the afternoon picking blueberries and playing along the water, the kids heaping and hollering about the dead fish in the water. It turned out to be a great day.
Later in the month we went on a family hike to Thunderbird Falls, which is maaaaaybe a mile total, and ends on an overlook to the waterfall. Reagan and Harper took to it much better than their sister, who kept asking when we were going to turn back and go home, insisted on holding an adult’s hand pretty much the entire length of the trip. In fact, she seemed quite nervous to explore and walk through the mud or up or down the hills, but some of this is likely attributed to her post surgery eye situation. We climbed down to the water on the way back and all the kids enjoyed throwing sticks and rocks into the water and trying to climb up and explore steep hills. It was another unusually beautiful day, but we had to leave Anchorage to see the actual sunlight.
Another fall favorite activity, something we’ve missed since the girls were 18 months old, is the annual Trick or Treat in the Heat event. The past two years canceled due to COVID, meaning this year’s event was met with excitement and a ton of people, and on a decent weather day! I stashed a few new costumes in the closet in anticipation of an outdoor event that wasn’t freezing cold and luckily this year only required long sleeves and pants underneath- I don’t think I heard one complaint about being cold. Mind you, there were about five million complaints of being tired, feet hurting, wanting to eat a snack or piece of candy, but not for being cold.
The fighting was minimal on who wore which costume, and just like last year, everyone switched out on colors (for the most part). Harper was Tinkerbell, including fancy wings, a headband and a butterfly wand; Reagan was a flamingo, which included an adorable flamingo head hat and polka dots; and Emerie was…any guesses?? Of course, Emerie opted to be Elsa for the third year in a row. A new style of dress, but still Elsa (thanks Costco!).
We did a LOT of walking that evening, and eventually made it home with bags of candy and picked up some pizza to sit down and eat. Excluding the whininess, I think it went pretty well, but next year we should definitely bring the wagon to avoid the overly tired, woah-is-me attitudes that were shared the second half of the evening. Luckily neighborhood trick-or-treat is not quite so extensive, and the dark usually helps push the kiddos to wanting to head back home.
After a little over a month of new pre-kindergarden school activities and crafts, I already see incredible improvement in the girls coloring and writing skills. In fact, Reagan has already written her own name, without tracing any letters, and it proudly displays on the wall at school that shows the classroom lettering crafts. All three really enjoy tracing books now and do a great job following the lettering. They also constantly ask for white paper, meaning paper with nothing to color, so they can expand their ideas without any distractions. Needless to say, we go through a lot of paper. The other day Reagan looked at me and said, “do I look like a crazy maniac?! No! I draw within the lines!” when I asked her about her coloring. Silly girl. We’ve also seen the first little people drawings from Reagan, which I am SO excited about. They are all head and legs and it’s adorably cute- now she is starting to tell you which people they are and draw scenery around them. We definitely have an artist in the family! Harper continues to draw rainbows on everything and Emerie is more willing to sit and color now, than in previous months.
Many discussions now center around, what letter does this word start with? What letter does THIS word start with? And you pretty much have to explain every letter start in the English alphabet. And we are only on letter “e” at school so far! All three know what their names start with, what Craig and my name starts with- Reagan keeps asking me why both our names start with an “r”. Such questions. They are also very defensive about sharing “their” letter with others, and seem to think they own it, similar to how they act with their pink, purple and teal color associations. For letter “e” show and tell, Emerie informed me her sisters didn’t need to attend the day, since it was her letter and her day.
Each day brings a new randomly taught skill. One Friday they came home and quoted me the entire pledge of allegiance, all three of them! They informed us afterwards that they do it at school a lot; it’s cute to see them repeat words that have absolutely no meaning to them yet. Other days they are questioning which side is right and which is left, and can now pick up the correct foot or arm if you ask.
In addition to letters and writing, basic math is just around the corner. Many car rides home from school involve how many fingers is this and then this? What is this hand and this hand…is it ten? These types of questions are the very foundation of math and I can’t believe it’s already starting. They seem to pick it up pretty quickly too, as you talk through the answers.
One morning I caved into the requests and let everyone use the glass markers to create intricate and wild creations on the backdoor. Reagan drew the first people I have seen her attempt and they are completely adorable, with the big heads and bodies and tiny legs and arms. The wild hair seems to indicate that maybe they are drawing Grandma Sue, but that has not been confirmed to date. Harper continues to enjoy making dozens of rainbows on everything she draws. This also reminds me she had a little too much creativity when one of our mountain art designs from the wall was set down on a table and within reach. I fully planned to blame one of the visiting boys for the writing on it, until I discovered the red letter “H” across the middle…and I don’t think she can deny that one and get away with it…
One night after school we took the girls to get fancy nails. In normal color fashion, all three selected shades of their colors (after talking Harper out of the sparkle one that wouldn’t show very well) and proceeded to entertain much of the salon as their hands and feet were beautified. Harper was last to go and did a great job waiting patiently, while Reagan and Emerie could barely contain themselves sitting for their turn and wiggled all over the place. Emerie continues to be the wiggle worm of the three for these types of activities, and hilariously laughed when they filed her toe nails, as if it was the most hilarious thing in the world. Harper sat like a statue for her turn, watching the beautification process with appreciation. It’s fun to start doing these types of things now, as long as you bring lots of snacks and don’t wait too long to go.
And to round out our busy lives and much overdue update, is Harper’s latest life quote, with the words… this is difficult! Everything is difficult!It’s difficult! And there you have it folks, an accurate, one phrase depiction of current life events in the Douglas household. Good thing they are so adorably cute… here is one of my favorite photos from this fall, captured by yours truly on an afternoon excursion (ahem photo op) to the park by our house.
Finally a daycare pickup that I’ve waited on for years….carrying each kid out kicking and screaming bloody murder, dragging the flailing monster into the car and forcing the car seat buckles on while they throw their tantrum. TIMES THREE.
They are a lot stronger now that I can’t haul all three at once, especially when they don’t want to obey. Reagan definitely attempted to bite through my hoodie on her way out and Harper ran around the parking lot…similar to last year…
Apparently school book fairs are not for the weak of heart. Running away with the balloon centerpieces AND random, unpurchased books is more of the real life toddler experience, all while trying to escape their mother and hide in other school rooms.
At least I enjoyed a moment of toddler torment by eating one of their beloved lollipop treats while they all shrieked in rage from the backseat. Butterscotch, if you wanted to know.
It’s been a busy November, with lots of play dates, family visits, activities and all on top of pretty cold temperatures for these south-central Alaskans. I always appreciate family visits and love that I married into a much bigger family network than I have. Craig has a big family for the girls to enjoy and grown up around during visits and through thousands of FaceTime calls. We especially love holiday visits, since it is much easier for us adults to enjoy everything with a few extra sets of hands; it’s also great knowing they are making memories and getting to know many members in the family, especially since mine is so small and much farther away! With so many things to write about, in lieu of writing a ton on our mundane, day-to-day festivities; here are the main highlights as we push from early winter to turkey time, to Christmas!
From the moment Grandma Sue and Papa Lon stepped off the airplane from Juneau, many demands occurred from the three tiny blondes to cook homemade donuts with Grandma. Keep in mind when we tried this activity in February (for Valentine’s Day) the girls refused to eat the final product but really enjoyed the uncooked dough, spreading flour and making the biggest mess possible. This time they continued to make a big, floury mess but finally ate the donuts (holes) and came back for seconds!
Reagan picked out a sprinkle covered donut Christmas ornament for Grandma to take home with her and put up on the tree. Clearly the homemade donuts are making quite the impact as they grow older; you’d agree if you tried them!!
Grandma and I volunteered at the preschool Thanksgiving luncheon on Wednesday. The three-year-old class was first up in the nicely decorated gym. Once assembled at their designated tables, everyone paired with an older kid buddy, who held their plate and assisted on food selection. The girls refused to buddy up since we were there and insisted on waiting in line with us. When questioned on food choices, all three wanted corn, a roll, carrots and pickles. No one wanted mashed potatoes (not surprising), turkey or stuffing. With a bit of parent coaxing everyone downed a turkey chunk and Harper and Reagan devoured a handful of olives. After the main course was pumpkin pie, with Harper eating only the whip cream, Emerie inhaling all the filling and not touching the crust, and Reagan eating it all!
Our goofballs continue to randomly make surrounding adults chuckle. For example, Reagan turned around one night to a lip like this and convinced us it was blood, with a story about falling and hurting her lip. Care to guess what it really was? Nail polish!
Early riser Emerie was hanging out with Grandma at the crack of dawn the other morning, repeating three times she wanted to watch Merida. Finally told Grandma to go away, since she wasn’t “listening.” Everyone now uses the word “never” and will respond I’m never doing that! or I’m never talking to you AGAIN! We don’t use that terminology very often; I’m guessing another preschool kid taught them the fun new word.
Olaf Bread for the Win
Another fun, edible craft idea from the family cook meant customized, breaded Olaf’s for Thanksgiving lunch, with each kiddo donning a cooking hat and apron and decorating their own version of the snowman. This activity was quite the hit in the morning, with specific colored sprinkles, dyed orange noses, craisins for buttons and don’t forget the eyeballs! Even more surprising, the girls consumed these beauties with lunch, eating every sweet treat off before biting into the fresh dough and bread stick arms.
Cookie decorating skills were put to the test several times over the holiday break. The girls decorated turkey cookies with mini paintbrushes and fall themed edible paint. As usually, Reagan took her time to cover ever white edge on the whole thing while Harper and Emerie more so enjoyed spreading the paint with their brushes and begging to eat them. Later in the weekend the first batch of gingerbread for the season was decorated- or more realistically I should say the girls ate sprinkles and continually asked to eat more cookies.
Putting Up the Tree
With the darkness and frigid cold weather, the Christmas tree up early is a must. This year the girls were a bit more helpful, but overall they did the same fight-over-the-tree-bag crying as last year. Everyone helped hand a few branches to Craig or I, but otherwise weren’t thrilled until the ornaments came out. Emerie decided stretching out all the wrapping ribbon looked really fun until we stopped her! Everyone enjoyed hanging their ornaments on the lower half of the tree. This year’s ornament is Frozen themed; last year was Tangled. Maybe next year it’ll be something other than a princess! And don’t let that adorable hugging photo convince you, that occurred after full cookie related bribery, a failed nap and a lot of fighting. And after putting a couple wrapped presents under the tree, they are now asking if it’s Christmas yet…a month out!
Thanksgiving dinner was quite the feast of deliciousness: turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, pecan and pumpkin pie. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm… If my sense of smell was back, I’m sure it smelled amazing! We discovered through the afternoon snacking that one can of olives was insufficient for Harper and Reagan, that Harper now likes celery, and everyone really likes mini cucumbers and cranberry sauce.
Outdoor Photo Shoot
Megan scheduled a 20 minute photo session outside and the kiddos rocked it! Is it hard to get 5 toddlers to look and smile at once!? Yes. Is it impossible to get?! No! Does it help when they are super cold? Yes actually. And even in the cold they did fantastic and enjoyed a cookie and candy cane on the drive back home. I can’t wait to see the results.
Auntie ‘Manda came up for the weekend to surprise everyone and the girls were so excited. Amanda is now Reagan’s new best friend and was glued to her side the entire weekend, which was really cute. The jump park became much more fun play at her with in tow and they greatly enjoyed snuggling with her on the couch and warming up with some movies. We are already receiving requests for her to visit and play again!!
At bedtime after a busy Thanksgiving, I asked each kiddo what they were thankful for and as anticipated, received varied answers. Harper was thankful for dip (all kinds apparently) and the color black. Reagan was thankful for presents, which are sitting under the Christmas tree, and Emerie was thankful for dinner.
Harper’s favorite holiday thing was eating, specifically the cookie she decorated and celery. Emerie’s favorite things was eating chicken (turkey) and watching a movie. Reagan says nothing is my favorite today. After a bit of pushing, she claimed watching Merida (Brave) in the living room earlier in the day was her favorite. Oh well!
Overall, what a fun week it was! Each holiday season will be a bit more fun and I’m really looking forward to Christmas.
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?