Driving across town on Saturday, I excitedly imagined the girls finally getting their first real snow experience (they were too little last year). The snow was heavily falling at that point and covering the city in white. I spent the next two hours hanging out at a kid-free, cake decorating, girls time with Janelle; something very long overdue!
By the time I returned home, I was quite dismayed to see that South Anchorage was only producing rainfall and the snow flurries had disappeared. Even more disappointing, our front yard was not a freshly coated white but still a depressing, winter green.
I have a love hate relationship with winter. Growing up I loved playing outside, going sledding, all of it. Into my teenage years, I really didn’t like to drive in it and was less appreciative of the conditions. But as an adult, I’m now at a place that I enjoy the blanket of white around my house; I enjoy the winter holidays and the fun that comes with it (although clear roads are nice). The holidays just don’t feel right without some snow. It makes our houses feel cozier, more festive even, and makes people that are less than thrilled about winter enjoy summer even more. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can’t wait to get everyone together for a meal and enjoy the holiday with some winter activities.
Anyway, we waited until after dinner and into the typical Alaska darkness, but finally had enough snow on the back deck to suit up the girls and check it out first hand. This is the first time we’ve worn the snowsuits from Papa Cliff, mostly because due to the lack of actual winter weather; outside playtime only required fleece pants, coats, hats and boots.
I can already tell getting snowsuits and boots on three mobile toddlers will be an adventure for the whole season. Getting them off might be even harder, with cold fingers, wet boots and three girls that want to do it themselves. Since the dressing process is relatively similar to putting on a sleep sack, they cooperated pretty well to laying on their suit while we put each extremity in the right place. Emerie’s snowsuit is a bit big; she looked like a purple sumo wrestler waddling around (so we switched and she is now in the blue one) and Harper’s is a bit too long-we will need to find a smaller size for her this winter.
After a couple minutes outside, we opened the backdoor so everyone could wander back into the warm house. This was promptly ignored by everyone…so we stayed out a little longer. I’m not surprised at the enthusiasm; they are Alaskan babies after all and there is so much to see! We checked out the snow, made some snowballs, inspected the snow covered Christmas lights and watched them have an ice dance off.
In typical dad style, Craig tossed a few snowballs their way. I use the word tossed lightly…because he nailed Emerie right in the face. She did not appreciate that, but she didn’t cry either! Reagan tried to throw them back at him. Harper stayed safely away in the log cabin or castle.
On Sunday we decided to hold on additional snow play and took the girls swimming, meeting up with some friends and checking out the local YMCA (at the mall!). The warm water pool was met with far more enthusiasm than the cold one we visited a few weeks back. This pool also has a massive locker room and a tiny room that we could easily contain our runners while we dressed and undressed. I am also thrilled to report that we finally completed a swimming even without any poop mishaps. Don’t judge, that is a milestone.
After a late, post swimming and lunch nap time, but before the sun completely set and depressed the outdoors back into the daily darkness, we suited everyone up and loaded into the sleds for an adventure around the block.
The girls all inspected the sleds beforehand, climbing in and out and pulling them around by the cords. I’m pretty excited that I found them for $5.00 each at the consignment sale last month, and while we will outgrow them pretty quickly, it will provide a ton of entertainment this winter!
The adventure was a success and both Craig and I were sweating by the time we returned to the house while the girls had cold hands and red noses. The neighborhood streets are pretty icy, but the more we more bumps the better according to the little ones. They chatted and giggled all the way around the block and lost their minds at the end when we took them out of the sleds to play in the backyard. We couldn’t convince anyone to wear their mittens, Reagan wouldn’t wear her hood so she was given a hat, and by the end of the loop Emerie was hood free as well. Everyone slid down a bit in the seats and we kept sitting them back up; I think the “gangster slouch” was pretty cute.
As the sun started to set we played outside a bit longer. The girls ate their fill of snow and once the whining started we ventured back inside. I look forward to many more snow days like this, especially over the holidays, and hope we see a lot of snowfall this year (I’m being optimistic). At least the first couple days of snow were a success in the toddler playbook!
On a completely unrelated note and one for the memory book, potty training may be right away the corner, at least for one of the three! Reagan came over to me the other night, sat down on the couch cushion and tugged at the back of her diaper, saying “poopy.” First off, I didn’t know she knew that word; secondly that she would actually associate it to the action! Optimistically, we would love to start the potty training by their second birthday…realistically, I don’t know if they will be ready for it yet. But! Reagan is giving me hope it’s right around the bend.
We are in a new stage where the girls don’t want to do many of the things they’ve been doing for months. For example, they don’t want to eat unless you feed them, they don’t want diaper changes and flail around like angry alligators when you change them, and they don’t want to wear their clothes but also don’t want them off. They certainly can’t seem to decide what they want!
This is making the day-to-day a lot more interesting, in a not-so-great way. These new habits change daily (even hourly!). At dinner time they will eat a couple pieces of the food set out before them (type varies each day) and then throw everything else on the floor, no matter if they love it or not or are starving or not. In fact, they refuse to eat any more unless someone sits there and feeds it to them, bite by bite. Looks like we are back in the baby stage on this one, at least for the moment. Let’s hope this doesn’t last too long because it’s mildly irritating and takes so much longer.
The good news on this feeding strike- everyone still enjoys a variety of healthy foods (when we feed it to them), including:
Broccoli: the current obsession with steamed broccoli is REAL.
Green beans/blueberries: they’ll eat a few themselves before starting the dodge ball match with you. Two of our main foods.
Mushrooms: this recent discover is a surprise, they are all thrilled to eat this off our forks and will eat ALL our mushrooms. Even a large container!
Corn: canned corn is a hit…sometimes they’ll eat it themselves for a handful of two.
Apples/grapes: we rediscovered these fruits last week and they chomp down both at snack time.
Blue corn chips: okay, not super healthy but they LOVE them.
Avocado: this is hit or miss right now, this has been a favorite food for six months now but lately it’s been floor decoration.
Sour cream: not really that healthy, but weirdly enough they will take a bite of anything smothered in it. And they will yell at you until more is shoveled into their mouth.
Fruit and veggie pouches: this is the go-to if we can’t convince anyone to eat their meal. Luckily they still like these and will chow down.
Yogurt: the funny thing is, they love yogurt and they love blueberries, but they do not love blueberry IN their yogurt. Sometimes I can sneak them in for Harper, but Reagan and Emerie will swallow the yogurt and deliberately spit out the berry with an offended glare at whoever is feeding them.
Reading that list doesn’t sound so bad…if they’d go back to feeding themselves. It doesn’t appear that teething is the issue and no one is sick, so that makes us believe that it is a mental game that they are testing us on. I was just getting used to handing them food and them eating it, even with the typical mess! And while the dogs very much enjoy this new trend…I would prefer to go back to them actually eating. Time will tell.
Most 1-year-olds dislike diaper changes and ours are no exception. Even with our “distraction” method, they still holler and try to get away from you. Since potty training (hopefully) is right around the corner, we are compensating for this rage by rewarding them. Once dressed they get the honor of throwing away the dirty diaper all by themselves…running into the kitchen and waiting for us to open the trash compactor so they can toss it away. Then they “help” close it and get a high five. This small task brings about a lot of toddler enthusiasm; although they are now fighting over them because everyone wants to participate, even when it isn’t their dirty diaper.
At meal time Emerie and Reagan always try to get their shirts off; Harper will join in when she sees her sisters do it. Thankfully they aren’t always coordinated enough to succeed; but, of course, this brings forth rage. And don’t even get me started on bibs…that ship has sailed.
Emerie is the anti-socks and shoes baby; she is the first to pull them off and will not wear socks in the house. Occasionally we can keep her indoor booties on. Craig thinks this has something to do with a dislike of socks that have the little grippies on the bottom. She is also mastering removing her shoes in the car.
Another comical thing- since Emerie dislikes socks so much, it means I am not “allowed” to wear them inside either. If I’m sitting on the floor and wearing socks (this is Alaska so I usually am), then she is at my feet trying to pull them off. She’s converted Harper to this idea and they team up; the two of them will insist on removing everything from my feet each night and either try to wear them or throw them down toward the laundry area.
Harper doesn’t mind her shoes, but won’t leave on any zippered coats or hoodies unless fully occupied with other things. She knows how to unzip her coat and will do so by the time the other two are suited up and ready to go. Now grandma just needs to teach her to re-zip it!
Reagan doesn’t seem to have an issue wearing her shoes or coats, but dislikes hats and really dislikes gloves, even on cold walks!
The girls are learning how to break a few more boundaries, such as reaching things on the counter they couldn’t touch before, climbing on higher surfaces while staring you down as you tell them not to, and opening the higher kitchen cabinet drawers that were never noticed (or locked) in the past. Reagan is convinced she should be allowed behind the baby gate in the living room when we are in open play mode- that area is blocked off by floor tiles and mini kid chairs. She keeps figuring out how to get back there and then gets stuck and mad about it. I believe we are right around the corner from another living room rearrange. We have an electrician coming out next week to raise several outlets so we can be a little safer and still plug things in.
So about five minutes after the nanny left yesterday, before Craig returned home from work, I turned around to this. In t-minus five split seconds someone (I’m guessing Reagan?) pulled this bag off the counter and sprinkled them everywhere. Then everyone, you know, who won’t eat for us…sat on the floor and enjoyed a marshmallow and dog hair snack together. We will now be pushing everything farther back against the backsplash. The good news is that everyone was completely willing to help me pick up the rest of them and set them into a bowl. I only stepped on the handful we missed for the next hour or so…good times. Here’s a fun reaction to me seeing the mess!
Emerie Eye Update
I took Emerie to her four week post-op checkup on Monday. The doctor wants to see us back in two months, after the holidays, to reassess if a third surgery will be necessary. While her eye isn’t trailing now, it hasn’t eased out as much as we hoped and she still looks a little cross-eyed at times. We knew this was a possibility and he intentionally over corrected during surgery in hopes it would center out on it own. There is now about a 50/50 chance we will require another one to loosen up one more eye muscle a bit more. There is also a possibility she will need another correction later; it could be five years, it could be thirty, only time will tell.
So for now, we keep doing what we are doing. Two hours of patching per day, more if she’s taking it well and forgets it’s on. Some days it might be a little less, because she’s either super grumpy or taken it off several times already. We continue taping each side of her glasses with medical tape, because she (or her sisters) won’t leave them alone otherwise! Minor progress, because we don’t have to put tape over the eye patch and the glasses now; the glasses help hold it on enough that she usually leaves it alone, at least for a while. And after patch time, she gets to hold her prize because she handled it like such a big girl!
Excluding the fact that Daylight Savings Time brought on the worst night of sleep our family has had in a while, the overall weekend was filled with fun activities and mostly happy babies who actually took good naps.
When I say a bad night of sleep, it usually involves a rotation of all three babies angry at some point during the night, but not usually all at the same time. While I don’t think DST is the reason for the grumpy night, keeping them up an extra half an hour probably didn’t do us any favors- we definitely had triple baby rage for almost two hours, sometime in the middle of the night (I don’t actually remember when). So the night went like this: my mom brain immediately awakes to the sound of a shrieking baby, can’t tell who until looking at the nursery cam, but by that point all three were unhappily awake. On a typical night when someone shrieks, they usually can’t find a binkie or bumped their head into the crib rails- most of the time they will settle themselves after a few seconds and their sisters will sleep right through it. On a night like this weekend, that one cry just grew louder and instantaneously awoke the other two, who were NOT impressed with being woken up. We let them cry for a while, hoping they’d settle and go back to sleep. On a bad night like this one, after over an hour of crying, Craig ended up with two unsettled babies in bed with him and I had one in the guest room and we slept a couple hours like that until I got up at five. Sounds superrr fun right?
On nights when they don’t settle, I fly into the nursery as quickly and quietly as possible and whisk that baby out. This usually works (and is usually Emerie although we do trade around) and that baby gets some one-on-one parent time with us for the next few hours until the early morning feed. Some nights they immediately go back to sleep between us, other nights they want to cuddle or drink a bottle before dozing off, and some nights it becomes a several hour battle to get them to go back to sleep, even with us.
Here’s the catch- you have one baby in your room, finally settled, and the next one cries out a little while later. I dive out of bed again, quickly checking the nursery cam to see who it is. If they both wake up at this point, we give them a few minutes and see if they settle without intervention. If only one is awake, I know I have seconds to grab that baby (usually Reagan at this point) before she wakes the third one. I then lay down in the guest bedroom with baby #2 while Craig stays in our room with baby #1. The biggest issue from this point on is if baby #3 wakes up and starts wailing…thankfully those nights don’t happen too often, and since it’s usually Harper (gotta give her credit as my best sleeper!), we can give her a bottle and briefly snuggle in the nursery. She’ll usually go back to sleep in her crib while the other two are asleep in the other bedrooms for a few more hours. Having one or two babies out of their beds for a couple hours each night seems to be our norm since our trip to Juneau. Having no one in their crib at all is pretty abnormal, so by the time my alarm clock goes off in the morning, I am very ready for tho types of nights to be over with. Thankfully the early morning feed (that we will have to give up someday but not yet!) gets everyone back in their own beds for a couple more hours of sleep while we get up for work or take a catnap ourselves.
Did reading that tire you out? It did for me!
Excluding the minimal night of sleep, the weekend wasn’t sooo bad. We left the house a few times for different types of activities: ate out at one of our favorite local restaurants (french fries and milkshakes!), swam with friends at the pool, played at dad’s group, “helped” Grandma Sue make cookies and played with Papa Cliff, and wreaked havoc on the library. This is one of the first weekends in a while that we didn’t hit up the park, but the weather was wet and windy and the girls weren’t thrilled to play out in the backyard, let alone go somewhere outside.
I like to take the girls to the library on my off day- they are usually pretty good about running around the play area and not immediately trying to escape. But after about 10 minutes there this week, they were already off and trying to escape to explore the whole kid area. We ended up letting them check out the book aisles (that burns energy!) and try out the games on the kid computer and the chalk table. Unfortunately they still want to just eat the chalk, not so much color with it. They definitely enjoyed the computer keyboard and mouse, not so much what was playing on the screen.
The girls did great out to lunch at one of our favorite local, family-owned restaurants- Arctic Roadrunner. I discovered their great love for delicious pickles and brought a pile home with us for snacking on later. They will suck all the juice off the pickle before attempting to eat it, so I think it passes the toddler flavor test. At the end of the meal, Emerie and Reagan were playing peekaboo under the table with each other, initiated completely by them! And as I handed the last baby to Grandpa to take to car, the table next to us sweetly commented that they have twins and thought the girls behaved great throughout our lunch.
After an unusually successful nap time at home, we bundled up and played on the back porch for a bit while Grandma continued cooking. No one was too thrilled at the wet and windy surroundings, but they all played a bit on the castle (with all the new pieces installed!). It only took moments for everyone to figure out how to climb into the tower and open the fancy trap door. Emerie really liked hanging out in the tower and going up and down, and Harper and Reagan checked it out and then went back to their play cars and the slide.
After a few minutes, we came back inside, took off coats, hats, boots and fleece pants and all three had a turn helping helping Grandma Sue roll the cookie dough in powdered sugar and onto cookie sheets…although it might have looked like an explosion of sugar in the kitchen afterwards. I imagine we will have a number of years with such “explosions” when cooking, especially with how much Craig and I like to bake (whenwe have time).
Harper was not a happy camper to wait her turn and Emerie and Reagan didn’t want to stop “helping”. Emerie was the self-proclaimed and certified taste tester and Reagan was such a helper and happy to plop the dough onto the cookie sheet. Don’t worry, the cookies turned out fine!
The girls haven’t gone swimming, other than the occasional back yard baby pool adventure during the summer, since we visited Juneau back in early July. The rec center there was much warmer and set up for small children than the high school pool we went to on Sunday. The girls started out pretty chilled, with teeth chattering a bit, but eventually accepted their fate of water time and cooperated. We brought two floaties with us and rotated who sat in them and who held what kiddo. Janelle and Megan, with kids in tow, joined us for extra hands! For an event that had more kids than adults and involved water, I think we did pretty great.
Also, I mean really, how cute are they in those tiny swimsuits? And they are 2T and fit (a little big on Em still)! My babies are getting so grown up.
One key piece of advice that was shared to me sometime last winter. Do NOT dress the girls in matching swimsuits. At first I really questioned that, but if you think about it. Having all three looking the same can confuse the lifeguards, they may see a kiddo struggling for a moment, look away for a second and look back to see the kiddo playing fine in the water, while the first one could actually still be struggling and in danger. The lifeguard wouldn’t know that they are two or three different kids when dressed alike and a short distance away. It is very smart to remember this when you have similar sized (and looking) babies in an environment that needs lots of parental supervision and a great piece of advice that I’m taking going forward.
We may be getting to the point that swim lessons will be fun. Craig was definitely a water baby and I think the girls take after him on it. Anyone who wants to join us to be the third set of adult hands; you just let us know! Of all the kiddos that participated, the girls were the only ones that didn’t somehow meltdown in the locker room afterwards. I call that a win…even though it just means they were happily running around the locker room while I chased and tried to dress them…a fun, diaper issue also occurred, but I won’t go into more explanation or detail than that (use your imagination and you’re probably right…).
One other cute memory from this past weekend- the girls are really interacting together so much more; not so much full on talking or words, but noises and basic interactions. It improves every day as they discover new things to try. This photo, from right after dinner the other night, shows Emerie going and tickling Harper’s toes, completely unprompted. She started with Reagan, who was giggling at her from the table as I cleaned off her hands from dinner, and then moved over to Harper to see if she would react in the same manner. It was so cute! Occasionally they will try to belly tickle each other as well- probably from seeing us do it to them, but it is less effective than going for those feet! Harper is definitely the most ticklish of the three, but it’s also not too difficult to tickle torture Reagan and Emerie to get a laugh.
All in all, it was a fun weekend. Now back to the work week grind!
While this Halloween was pretty relaxed, it is still one for the girls’ “digital memory” book. Now that they are a little more tolerable out and about (even well behaved!), we chose the simple route and walked around the neighborhood for a short trick-or-treat.
Craig’s dad flew in from Juneau in the afternoon to enjoy the holiday weekend with the kiddos. He brought foam swords that were quite the hit with all three, producing a lot of giggles from kids and adults. Everyone was happy to see Grandpa!
Emerie dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Harper as a pink, sparkly fairy with yellow wings and Reagan as Ana from Frozen. The dresses fit a bit better than they did during Trick or Treat in the heat six weeks ago- I guess the girls will keep growing!
With the unusually warm temperatures in Alaska this year and the past month, outside trick or treating activities were actually feasible. If it was the typical high 30s and 40s, we probably wouldn’t have ventured out, but this week’s 50 degree weather allowed the girls to stay warm enough to have some fun, even with a little rainfall.
Craig put everyone’s coats and boots on under their princess dresses, with hoods up, and loaded them into the wagon with a Halloween themed blanket.
We made it to about ten houses. It was early enough that not a lot of other kiddos were out yet, but the sky still had some light. After a few houses we let the girls climb up the neighbors’ steps for the candy and they were pretty shy about grabbing candy out of the bowl. At the first house Harper grabbed a piece and threw it back in the bowl! After a house or two they didn’t want to sit back in the wagon so everyone walked a bit.
All in all, nothing too exciting, but everyone was a good sport. I’m sure we will be wearing Halloween outfits over the next week or two as new daily apparel.
We ended the night playing downstairs and snacking on some popcorn and ice cream. And, who remembers this spinning toy from waaay back in the day!? I found it at the consignment sale and the girls think it is quite hilarious. They don’t understand how to turn themselves on it…but definitely insist we push it for them.
And so it begins. I came home from work the other day to a nice, teeth sized bruise on Emerie’s arm. The next day a similar one showed up on Reagan! The girls are now comfortable with the idea of using their eight front teeth as weapons, wheedling them against their sisters when they are upset or don’t get their way.
This month’s theme in our household is sweet and sour (yes, like the candy…it is October after all). The girls can be so sweet one moment, to each other, or you, or the dog; and the next moment that switch flips and BAM! They are beating each other with a toy, stealing one and running away with a sneaky laugh, or trying to lock those teeth down on a sibling while throwing a screaming fit.
Sour: These are not the first miniature bite marks we’ve come home from work to see, but it goes to show the toddler attitudes are continuing to emerge daily. For example, the light bulb switched on for everyone regarding hair. All of a sudden, all three at some point in the evening attempted to pull handfuls of hair off their sisters’ head. I guess it was the day for them to notice the blonde hair atop each other and try to grasp it. Obviously that was not met with giggles and smiles; but rather some rage and screaming and Craig and I hollering at them to stop it.
Sweet: Not every moment is the sour side of the candy, they can definitely be sweet too and we gain more of those moments each week. As I wrote in my last blog, Harper is a great hugger now- not only will she give you a nice bear hug throughout the day, but she also goes over to Reagan and Emerie when they are upset and will rub their head gently until they a calmer. It’s a very sweet gesture. Similarly Reagan, the main sharer of the three, will try to cheer up her sisters by bringing them a toy, book, or sometimes a random goldfish she found on the floor. It’s the thought that counts right? Emerie is more often the recipient of the sweetness, but has her moments as well.
Sweet kisses are shared now! No more (or as least much less) of the full face licking kiss we saw during late infancy. I wouldn’t exactly call that a kiss but it was a cute attempt at one. They won’t always respond when you ask for kisses, but sometimes they will come over and plop a sweet on on you.
Sweet AND sour? A new sport in our house is toddler wrestling with a side of baby giggles. This activity is becoming more common as they grow and produces both joy and rage depending on the outcome. When you mix three sets of arms and legs there is generally at least one casualty by the end, whether that is a kick to the face, someone getting stepped on or smacked, or a bonk into nearby toys or furniture.
While several months back I recognized that “nothing is safe” in our house, now I really mean NOTHING IS SAFE. An example of 30 seconds out of sight of the children, who are freely allowed to roam the living/dining room and kitchen (with furniture and stairs blocked off, cabinets locked, and dog door safely closed. I walked through the baby gate, closed it and went downstairs to pull a load of clean laundry out of the dryer. In the time it took me to do that, pick up the basket, and walk back upstairs; I returned to this:
I mean COME ON. We are now in the habit of stacking the chairs on the kitchen table or pinning them between the wall and the table…otherwise…well…this happens. If they had been gifted another minute, I probably would have found them playing with bottles on the countertop.
It also doesn’t matter what type of chair is left out…a grownup one or child’s…because they’ve all discovered things are movable and can be used to reach new, higher heights and opportunity! This newfound methodology very quickly expanded to anything else that can hold a baby’s weight- toy bins, foam blocks, pillows; you name it. We’ve removed some extra playroom toys for this very reason- they are using them to climb to new places, or potentially over the baby gates- I am hoping to squash that learn-able life skill for a least a bit longer. So would you call this sweet or sour…
I’m also finding with multiples that they love on each other almost as much as they fight. Earlier this week Emerie had a total meltdown after Reagan wouldn’t share her book (that she had been carrying around a while). She sat on the floor and was screaming bloody murder; I let the scene play out. Harper got up from my lap and walked over to her raging sister, stood there, and patted her head until she stopped crying. It was the sweetest thing and even helped Emerie calm down!
As a first time parent, it’s quite amazing the things that will come out of my mouth before I really realize how funny they are. For example, in the last couple weeks alone, Craig or I have said all these ridiculous things:
Don’t bite your sister!
Don’t bite me!
Get off the table!
Stop licking my belly button!
Put your shirt back on!
The inside of your shirt is not a food pocket!
Don’t bite the dog!
Let go of her tail!
Don’t suck on my shoes, that’s gross!
Stop licking your snot! Stop licking the dog!
Thank you but I do not want the half chewed goldfish from your tongue.
Put your food in your mouth!
Stop pulling her hair!
It’s not nice to drag your sister around by her shirt…or her glasses…
It’s okay, your foot will not come off and throwing a fit won’t help!
I mean really, who thought such monstrosities would come out of one’s mouth before they had children? They aren’t even uncommon anymore. I’m amazed they don’t say the word “stop” yet…we sure seem to say it enough. They still mimic “not nice” at us when we say it.
Other cute happenings in the Douglets household:
Dog door: Every night we open the baby gates and the girls walk upstairs to the nursery for bedtime. One of the funny parts of that march is once they’ve climbed the stairs from the family room into the dining/living room. Like clockwork, every night, all three go racing over to the open dog door (since we were downstairs so it was open) and whoever arrives there first grabs the door part off the table and runs back to Craig or I, hollering the whole way. They always want us to know that the door is unlocked, even though they are more than willing to climb through it without permission. It is the funniest thing.
Binkie wars: One of the only ways everyone potentially stays in their crib at night and during nap time is with several binkies. This may be a bit out of control at this point, because each crib has three or four now- this helps when they roll over in their sleep and are reaching around, eyes closed, looking for one; and that often solves their fussing without parental intervening. We’ve now noticed at bedtime, once parents have exited the room, that they will throw those binkies back and forth in each others’ cribs, on the floor, all over the place. Fingers cross this entertains them for a while and they don’t start trying to climb out!
Books: We are SOOO close to reading books instead of chewing/throwing them. Reagan expresses interest in reading one specific, Alaska animal book while the others will sometimes bring one over to look at, but it still only lasts maybe a minute. I’m excited that we are getting closer to reading time- something I did a ton of as a kid.
Creative play: Imaginations are expanding and it’s fun to see. Whether it’s pretend eating the play food, climbing into laundry baskets, or flipping face first off the couch into pillow, they are all getting more creative. Everyone plays with the foam blocks and understands how they go together, and we are starting tower building on the duplo blocks now that they are more interested. They think ice is the coolest thing and walk around outside trying to collect (and eat) it.
Puppy time: When we play out in the backyard the girls now entertain the dogs. They throw the ball or dog toy, will tug on them with Koda, and produce lots of giggles. Both dogs are great with them and Kalli seems to be much happier now that they are a little older. Harper likes to take the toy from Koda, toss it a few feet, then take it from her again, and repeat. All very monitored fun. We opted to keep both dogs for now and have a dog walker coming twice a week to burn some energy. This seems to greatly help their attitudes day-to-day.
My “sweet and sour” babies continue to be one or the other at any given moment. Thank goodness it evens out, because life with three toddlers is certainly an emotional roller coaster and we still have a few toddlering years to go. Emerie has another ear infection, making her more “sour”, with a mood improvement once the medicine kicks back in. Everyone is a littler “sweeter” than last week when snotty noses maintained the mood factor.
And I am happy to report, for the first time in longer than my short-term, mom-brain memory recalls, Emerie slept ALL night in her crib the other night. One night is not a trend, but man is it a welcomed improvement! Reagan woke up at three and other than that, the night was uneventful. It felt oddly weird. Now THAT is some sweet news!
This past weekend we attended our second annual NICU reunion, meeting all ages of NICU graduates and parents (including us!) from years passed. The event had a professional photographer with one of our nurses ensuring big, excited smiles from the models (thanks Jess!). Other booths had kiddo activities, food, and baby books for us to enjoy at home. It is a great all ages, annual event that happens each October and something I hope to take the girls to for many years to come.
We spent just under a month in the NICU with Reagan [28 days]; Harper and Emerie followed their sister home just four days later [32 days]. Events like these remind me how lucky we are in this day and age to have access to the medical help we need, both for moms and for babies. A century ago my survival would have been questionable, let alone delivering three healthy kiddos. More realistically probably not, due to high blood pressure and eclampsia and a variety of other factors like c-sections and sterile hospital environments.
I count my blessings we had the care we needed, when we needed it, and was happy to keep them cooking for 33 weeks (maybe not so thrilled at the time but I am now!). Many other kiddos at the event were more premature than ours- I know their parents feel the same way I do and it is nice to see all the success stories. On the flip side, I definitely keep in mind that not all outcomes end up like mine- yet another reason to be so appreciative that my girls are healthy.
We saw a number of other twin and triplet sets, many who we see at play groups and who also spent some time in the hospital post birth. Lots of once premie singletons too! We visited with our favorite doctor, Doctor Mary Alice Johnson, and got this great picture of her with the girls, who cooperated momentarily.
Dr. Johnson was wonderful to have during our stay and instrumental in the health of our three little ones. I was definitely more confident as a new mom, recovering from major surgery with three, tiny babies hooked up to IVs and tubes, with her on our medical team.
The girls tried out a few little activities like the ring toss onto balloon antlers and “fishing”. They also ate some snacks, played with friends and ran amuck! Overall, a pretty good day.
I leave you with last year’s photo, full of tiny, six month old baby smiles. Hopefully this year’s picture will be equally as cute! ❤
We are currently in the thick of the 10th developmental leap for the girls, called the World of Systems. It is the last “baby” leap, occurring at about 18 months, and nicknamed the Fussy Phase– sounds awesome right?
A quick overview on what this developmental leap entails- now that the girls mentally understand more processes and that their actions can have varying results, they see everything in a more curious, yet mature mental state. They are certainly becoming little people!
A couple other notable things from this phase:
You can’t spoil babies, but you can toddlers!
Toddlers generally just want to be near you and have that personal attention (this is a lot harder with 3!)
Bring on the mischievousness.
With it comes more grumpiness and less sleep…nap time AND overnight.
After reading up on this particular leap (all-the-while experiencing it), I gave myself a mental activity to try during outings with the girls. With increasing mental capacity and curiosity of the world around them, I should try to think how a child would see and interpret new things; get away from the often mundane way adults view the world. Sometimes we forget how boring an adult can be. Being a kid is exciting! We also forget how interesting the little things can be when we are used to seeing things one way and not keeping our eyes open for the joy or excitement in it.
The girls react to little things in such cute and random ways. For example, Reagan dumping out a bin of toys. She dumps out a few and reacts to the abrupt sound of toys hitting each other and the floor; then she dumps out the rest because it is fun! I can see Emerie’s mind figuring out how to sit in the doll stroller. She aligns herself, butt out, toward it, and tries to sit back. Sometimes it works, sometimes it rolls and she gets mad. Harper will sit and hug the dog, slowly petting her in a partial hug. I imagine she’s thinking what her fur feels like, how it’s different depending which way she pets, and she listens to Koda talk back to her.
I gave everyone pieces of mint grown on the back porch this past summer. It’s a smell that reminds me of summertime during my childhood…it smells so good. I showed them how to sniff the leaves. Reagan was all about sniffing and licking the leaves. Harper, on the other hand, was unimpressed entirely while Emerie just wanted to collect and carry them around.
The other day I caught Emerie and Harper chewing on the old television stand. Very quietly, standing there, gnawing away. It must have felt oddly refreshing against those eight tiny, front teeth. I watch them sit in their comfy animal chairs- now instead of just sitting on them, they’ll turn one sideways and sit on it. Or they’ll lay across it or flip it upside down and lean on it. All new perspectives to something that’s been in the room for a few months, but has endless opportunity in the eyes of a toddler.
The girls precision is also improving. They will sit still and focus on putting shapes into the correct holes of their picnic basket, trying out incorrect holes methodically until they find the right one. They look around and find different things to add into the pink shopping cart, then watch the contents shift as they push it around the room. All so many interesting ways to look at things!
Last Saturday turned out to be one of the busiest days we’ve had in a while. With three separate outings and being out and about all day, it was anyone’s guess how the day would turn out or if the girls would be overstimulated. Surprisingly, they did great the whole time we were out, staying pleasant for nearly the entire day on a short, 30 minute car nap. Bedtime wasn’t quite so smooth, but we expected that. It was fun to have a full day of outings and see how the girls handled the new experience.
Craig took the girls to dad group in the morning for some play time (and man-time) while I cleaned and did a few household chores. We headed straight to the valley for fall, family photos after group. It took the girls longer than planned to doze off in the car, resulting in a short nap since photos started when we arrived. The day was beautiful. It was a little cold, with the fall crisp air making the girls arms a bit cold- but I was dedicated to their outfits and we went with it. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous afternoon, with the sun bouncing off the bright, fall colors at the Palmer Visitor Center. In true Brittany style, our session was quick and successful! I cannot wait to see the photos.
Thinking about how the girls would view those photo sessions, you could see they love to explore the flowers and see the yellow, crinkly leaves on the ground. We tossed leaves at them to try to produce smiles and they curiously looked at them. Emerie, on the other hand, tried to pick up all the rotten crab apples off the ground and carry them. They likely felt squishy and cold and she carried around a handful for a few minutes; I don’t think she tasted any thank goodness. Reagan kept running across the pathways, giggling as we hollered to come back toward the camera. Harper did some great photos and then too went off after her sisters with big smiles. They are much more coordinated than when we took photos here in July. This time all three could run across the grass pathways without tumbling. They peeked at flowers and picked up more leaves and tried to grab everything out of Britany’s purse.
After photos we walked (wagoned) over to a little baby fair at the Palmer railroad station, peeked at a few vendors and I found two airplane books, and then loaded back up for the reindeer farm. On the walk back to the car, all three were attempting to lift their legs out of the wagon, feet up in the air. That was apparently quite comical and more fun than sitting there, enjoying the ride.
The reindeer farm was a hit. The girls petted reindeer, which surprisingly no one referred to as “kitties”. In fact, they were all very sullen, shy and quiet when we let them out on the wagon. Everyone did pet one though! And one reindeer really wanted to come home with us, eat out of the wagon, and check out all the contents of the diaper bag. He kept coming back for more! He tasted Reagan’s coat hood as well and she was not impressed.
I imagine that all three toddler minds were a bit overstimulated at this point in the day, with huge, furry animals (and antlers) walking about and a ton of people around. They did get a bit braver and walked around the pen after a few minutes. Afterwards everyone went for their first horse rides- Reagan wanted off by the end of hers while Harper and Emerie thought it was fun and looked a little happier about it. Emerie was a little unsure of it at first, giving me the “hell no mom” look, but after a few feet appeared to enjoy the experience.
I am still mildly shocked the day went off without a hitch on a 30 minute nap. Next year, when the girls are two, fall events will be a little more fun to experience and hopefully a bit easier. For now, I am happy to add this day into my memories as a good one with friends and gorgeous, Alaska weather.
What other things did I notice over the past week that an adult might not appreciate, but the girls find interesting?
With daily practicing of body parts, the girls now understand belly, nose, ears, and are learning where eyes are located. Everyone is extremely enthusiastic about their bellies (and yours too) and getting better at pointing to your nose or theirs. They find wearing bodysuits (as opposed to shirts) unacceptable when they can’t adequately show off their bellies to you when asked. Emerie took this newfound skill to a new level, shoving her finger right up her nose and walking around, making sure you know she knows the answer. It’s pretty cute until she comes after your nose! Reagan will tug on her ears-and I mean hard- when you ask where they are. I think she believes they weren’t there prior to her learning about them…so she tries to pull them off.
Emerie continues to master the block building. She likes to walk around with two duplo blocks and put them together or pull them apart. She comprehends how they interlock and will sit there and focus on it. Her new understanding is impressive; and you can tell she is fascinated that she can do it! I know tower building is right around the corner and I can’t wait because that means we are one step closer to Lego’s! She also just discovered buckles and likes to buckle herself into the lunch table. Luckily she hasn’t figured out how to unbuckle yet; hopefully we have some time for that one. Everyone is fascinated by zipper pulls. This is great for fun, but not so great when they try to take their coats off when we want them on!
Reagan discovered somersaulting on the floor last week, without any help! Since before they were crawlers, everyone enjoys standing on their heads, wiggling their tiny butts in the air, giggling at the world upside down. Reagan was quite impressed the first time she went all the way over by herself and landed on her back. Why? Well the whole world moved, how cool is that?! Similarly, all three girls like to careen off the arm of the couch and flip over onto pillows, or onto a sister, or onto Mom or Dad. Harper seems to free fall off of it; I’m surprised her landings have gone so well this far.
Another really cute toddler discovery is hugging. Harper will come up to you and strong arm you into a solid, double armed hug. It’s so sweet and she will hold it for a few seconds, with her head against yours. She’s a great hugger! I imagine she likes the feeling as it generally results in smiles and talking. Emerie will give you little hugs sometimes too. Reagan is not quite into it yet, but she will pull your arms tight when she wants to snuggle. If you move your arm, she will pull it back over her until she feels that compression. She’s learned this is a better snuggle position than simply being beside someone. The past few nights she demanded full on snuggling to sleep, something I am doing my best to appreciate since it won’t last forever!
After 18 months, our greyhound Kalli finally figured out she can get six, tiny toddler hands to pet her back. I’ve turned around several times this week to see the girls giggling and petting a very happy puppy.
The girls are learning to pretend “grocery shop” with lots of plastic, play food scattered everywhere in the family room. They all take turns with the pink, Minnie Mouse shopping cart, the doll stroller, or the smaller hand basket; sometimes they pile food into the toy bins and kitchen cabinets. Everyone mastered pretend eating, including the nom nom nom sounds that come with it. They will pretend sip out of tea cups, chew on the fake food (sometimes more than light chewing) and are starting to understand they can stack pieces together (like pieces of a cheeseburger).
Harper prefers chewing the fake hotdogs; I’m guessing this is because it feels nice on her molars. Reagan often brings you food to share, and you better fake eat with her…she won’t take no for an answer and will hold it up to “bite” until you do it. You can see her imagination is expanding into the world of pretending. Emerie fills the cart or basket with food, condiments, leaves, sippy cups, or anything she can find and takes it places, usually accidentally dumping the contents out on the way to the destination. She gets all riled up if her sisters take over or grab things out of it. She enjoys collecting leaves in her shopping cart or any container within eyesight. Harper will add things to the cart, but is far more interested in pulling contents out of a box or bin and meticulously figuring out how to fit them back in. She’s gets very focused and always helps me put away the baby lotions after bath time, taking everything out and then replacing it back in the container. I mean…isn’t it so cool how everything fits!
Another fun realization relates to wind up cars (I know…not airplanes!). We’ve had several in the toy box for a while, but now they better understand how to use them and are starting to see they can make them drive without calling for assistance. I pulled up the rug in the living room and we drove cars back and forth for a while the other day. It is definitely exciting in the eyes of a kiddo- to be able to make tiny vehicles speed across the floor and bang into the wall, or furniture, or the dog…on the other side.
With the nanny out with the flu for the rest of the workweek, I used my day off to take the girls to one of the local recreational centers (along with half the parents in town) and let them run wild. It was great to catch up with a few twin moms and let the girls burn some energy. With such a dreary fall day, it was THE place to be! The center purchased new foam climbing mats since we last visited and the girls went to town playing on all the different pieces and shapes. Everyone liked to climb up the tall one, sit and “oversee” the other kids. Harper discovered a toy car that had a bouncy seat, Reagan liked to crawl through the tubes and underneath “tunnel” mats, and Emerie freely wandered the room and tried out everything, making friends along the way. Of course, I forgot to bring her glasses and patch. In the midst of the chaos of twenty-plus young children in one large room, the girls did great exploring new things and socializing with other toddlers. They climbed on everything and ran around. They made friends with a few other parents as well…parents that just happen to have some snacks…
Fingers crossed the flu stays out of our house (foreverrrrr). So far, so good. I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to be fully of teething babies again, so I think that is enough to deal with. For now, I will keep trying to see the fascinating things through the girls’ eyes and find new and fun things to teach them, or learn from them!