The doctor had an opening to get Emerie in this week for her eye procedure. Earlier is sort of a blessing since it takes away the stress of waiting to schedule and get it over with, but also gives Emerie more time with a more straightened eye.
Surgery was bright and early at the new Surgery Center, with Grandma Anne staying home with the other two for the morning. Emerie was a good sport for everything, including her rapid COVID test accurately called “the lady wants to clean out your boogers.”
COVID rules meant that only one of us could go back into pre and post op and we let her choose…today she was Team Mom. The whole walk back she asked where’s Doctor Winkle and smiled when he arrived.
Now that she is a little older she followed more normal pre surgery things like wearing a hospital gown top, getting clean socks and getting to lay in a blanket on her own hospital bed. One of the pre-op nurses put her hairnet on her monkey and that was exciting! Emerie also sucked down her calming medicine, Versed, without any convincing. She also told her name and both sisters names to the doctors when asked. Middle names included, of course!
The anesthesiologist recommended putting her in a diaper so that no one had to clean up any accidents and that was definitely a good call. Pretty quickly she was back in the OR for her procedure and we hung out in the front waiting room.
After about 45 minutes Dr. Winkle came out and let us know everything went great and he didn’t have to do any cutting on the eye muscles. The Botox allows the muscle to shift how the eye is straightened in an attempt for her brain to catch on and stay that way. He said it is typical for some droopy eyelids and wandering eyeballs to occur over the next month so other than having to keep myself in check at that weirdness, we should be back to normal pretty quick. Hopefully this will improve her eye!
She came out of anesthesia better than her last two surgeries and other than immediately demanding a snuggle under a warm blanket, she was good! After a fifteen minute snooze I opted to take her home and let the rest of it melt off from the comfort of her house.
Thanks everyone for all the prayers. Our brave girl is currently snoring on my lap in her room.
There’s been a lot going on the past several weeks, doctors visits, errands, work and a lot of busy toddler time! In addition to our normal “keep the kids entertained and out of trouble” routine, other random things continue to pop up. For example, we are proactively working toward getting the girls passports so we can adventure through Canada at some point- this is pretty standard on years without mind numbing pandemics and we know at some point we will travel out of country to go to Haines or Dawson City on an adventure. The first piece to that adventured apparently meant spending ninety minutes at the local DMV to get the girls identification cards and update our drivers license to the Real ID compliant ones.
Would you like to guess how ninety minutes at the DMV with three toddlers and no strollers went?? Well, I can fill you in on the details…not great. They were running and shrieking around the place enough that the poor photo lady, who we found out later was pretty new, nicely asked us to wait outside of the area. This wouldn’t have been so bad except that the girls badly needed to burn more energy and were running down the halls of the University Center and having a good ‘ole time. It was stressful but we managed to get three photos and by the end of the visit Reagan was helping that same employee take our photos, sitting on the chair behind the computer and telling us to smile.
I’m happy to say that first step is over and can tell you, toddler IDs are so cute. Their non-committal faces are seriously so completely cute!! Hopefully their passports will turn out as well!
Other more stressful life things this month seem to relate with two important parts of ones face – the teeth and the eyes! While my need for more dental work isn’t a super call for stress (since pregnancy really throws a wrench in your face when it comes to healthy teeth) and I find myself needing more cavities drilled and a crown for the first time; that same week we took all three kiddos to their second dental visit. We did this visit one-by-one while the others waited for their turn in the car. By the end, we were told the unfortunate news that Reagan would need to go to a pediatric dentist to have a tooth pulled. Last year she chipped her front tooth in half tripping on the floor in the dining room, and while we didn’t notice the chip until a few hours later, we were still able to find the tooth chunk on the floor later.
The dentist smoothed out the jagged tip the following day and off and on she would complain that it hurt for a month or two; after that she didn’t mention it anymore. We watched for the tooth to change colors and die but it didn’t. The X-ray at this visit showed that the tooth is indeed dead and needs extraction so the root isn’t damaged for her future adult teeth.
Reagan was fantastic for the entire appointment, letting the tech do new X-rays, opening her mouth wide when asked, and asking to see “Mr. Thirsty”, the water tool, and enthusiastically drinking cups of water. By the end of the appointment she was telling Dr. Barnes she loved her and excitedly selected a princess sticker and tiny, stuffed tiger. It is such a relief to take one kiddo to the doctor at a time, no matter what the reason for the visit. The visits involve minor scolding and more conversation and explanation than just trying to survive it!
Her actual procedure is at the end of the month and we are opting for keeping her awake without anesthesia. We know how a toddler reacts to being put under, even for something only ten minutes like Emerie’s ear tubes, and are hoping to avoid that if possible. The doctor notes the Versed will make her woozy (just like Emerie) and be strong enough she likely won’t even remember most of the procedure. It also helps that it’s on an easily accessible tooth and should only take a few minutes to pull. I’m hopeful she is still young enough that this won’t cause her to fear going to the dentist, but I guess we will see!
There’s a bigger issue at play though than being stressed out over a toddler tooth extraction. That bigger stress relates to the fact that we are still a binkie household at nap and bedtime; obviously pulling a tooth means she cannot (or won’t want to) suck on her binkie. Reagan loves them the most of the three and always has; they are very much a source of comfort for her in times of anxiety or pain so this might get really interesting. Throw in two sisters who also like their binkies at night; you have to take them away from all three at once or it’ll be hell to pay.
Emerie had another follow up visit with Dr. Winkle and her eye is again trending more inward again. Because she’s already had several surgeries and the more you cut, the more scar tissue builds up, the recommendation this time is a Botox procedure on the eye muscles. It’s less invasive (resulting in creation of less scar tissue) and often creates a similar result for kiddos whose eyes keep shifting in or out. The procedure will be in June once we schedule it.
The entire way to the doctor Emerie was saying I love Doctor Winkle! in the car. She was shy at first but warmed up pretty quick after a few color and depth tests and was playing with him by the end of the appointment.
While this is another added stress, hopefully the Botox next month will help with her not wanting to wear her glasses and with her patching. The three to four hour goal each day is still going pretty well, with us allowing it off early for activities like swimming and ice skating so she can see easier and be happier during them. Maybe this will also help with the removal of her glasses, which seems to constantly happen the past few weeks, with her even hiding them in a purse one night and handing them off to sisters upon occasion. The new prescription means new glasses will be ordered in the next size and her old glasses look so small now compared to her!
I am happy to report Harper is hanging in there strong and does NOT need any medical procedures at the moment, thank goodness! She is asking when is her turn to go to the doctor since both sisters had an appointments this week with both parents and no sisters. This week she is also mastering the eyebrow cringing glare though and it’s quite impressive (and adorable much to her dismay). She will request you take a photo when she makes the face and show it to her. Silly attitudy girl!
I am slacking this month on documenting some of the cute activities and conversations we witness throughout the busy days, most likely because I feel there is SO much going on all at once! On the drive home the other day the girls asked us to go by the purple house and then the yellow house! I wasn’t sure what they meant until Craig pointed out that one of the houses on a nearby street was getting painted a brilliant purple and they noticed before we did! The yellow house is the first one on our street. It’s funny to see the latest toddler observations!
They also now ask each other are you serious?! Probably because a few of the outrageous things they’ve done the past week had me beckoning the same sentiment and now they think it’s fun to say. For example, two littles were downstairs giggling away while Craig was outside with number three, Grandma Anne was washing dishes and I was working at my desk upstairs. Upon walking downstairs, a waterlogged bathroom was discovered and the girls were flinging water across the room using their toys and giggling with delight. I might have asked them if they were serious…
Mother’s Day was a relatively quiet day, with Craig taking the girls swimming so my Mom and I could run a couple errands in a kid free environment! Megan and the boys came over after and played with bubbles and outside until nap time. I woke up that morning to raspberry, white chocolate scones (that Harper devoured) and ended the evening eating ponset and lumpia courtesy of our awesome neighbors and a homemade cherry pie from Craig. Gotta love the delectable food for sure! The girls would want you to know they ended the day with flamingo pajamas from Grandma Anne and some Bob’s Burgers.
Otherwise we are busy busy with lots of conversations, outdoor activities and walks, swimming, gardening and everything in between. Bring on summer and let’s get through this next month of stress!
The entrance of spring means we can finally practice more front yard and driveway playing without running into the street. The girls greatly enjoy chopping ice and helping mommy and daddy prep the front yard for summer. Beach buckets and a shovel equals hours of entertainment with the melting snow. Considering it took us so long to improve parking lot etiquette and we aren’t completely there yet with all three, I am pleasantly surprised how well they maintain the yard bubble without running out into the street. Not to say they are perfect this past week, but I am certain by mid summer they will be pros and I’ll be slightly less stressed ensuring to watch them.
Other impending spring activities include cleaning out all the unused toys that helped us survive winter indoors, clearing the back deck of snow to play, and breaking out the rain boots and warmer coats. It means keeping an eye out on good spring cleaning finds for sale, which led us to a super cute, new playhouse project that could use a little TLC and paint and last a few summers and a number of new toddler-sized household tools, including mini rakes, shovels and gardening tools.
Actual gardening has not yet occurred but we are interested to see what the girls think of the activity this summer. Once the ground thaws and we can start planting, it will be fun to see which one loves to help grandma out in the garden. All will be happy to eat any new discoveries once they are ripe and thriving.
The drive-able kid cars are already out and used for jots down the street and back. So far we haven’t had to carry them back like last year, which is a great improvement, and steering is much better too. Four wheeler rides are still requested upon occasion and Craig can load up to five kids on it at once. Reagan really enjoys just sitting on it and pretending to drive.
Several firsts also occurred this month. After my eye procedure Craig and Grandma Sue took the girls for their first bowling experience and it was quite the hit. The girls talked about it for a couple of days and we ended up going again later that week. They enjoyed pushing the ball down the metal helper until they realize they could throw it with the help of daddy and that new method quickly took over. It feels really nice to get out of the house and survive a few new activities, since the past three years we have been home so much. The girls maturing a bit allows us to try small activities and see how they do, without a ton of stress or constant toddler chasing.
Over the past three years we have excitedly dreamed and talked about putting the girls in different activity classes such as dance, ice-skating, gymnastics, and of course other sports we played as kids like soccer and basketball. The girls will all be tall so I fully believe everyone will end up playing volleyball or basketball to use their height advantage, not to mention the whole triplet matching faces can toy with your opponents in amazing ways concept. I hope at least one, if not all, enjoy playing soccer as they grow up; it was definitely my sport of choice and I enjoyed many Alaska summers under the bright sun for tournaments, practices and games.
So no, we didn’t start soccer yet but that will hopefully happen this summer. We had our first two ice-skating lessons at the Dimond Mall and they went pretty decently. The first session occurred with two out of three cooperating for almost the whole 30 minutes. Harper, our speed demon, really took to it with the help of her teacher; she managed a few solo moments balancing and still maintaining composure. You can tell while watching that she wants to go faster and her legs and balance aren’t quite ready to comply yet. Reagan also did really well going back-and-forth and following the stuffed beanie that the teachers used to encourage the kids to go forward. Many of the activities are similar to “drills” we ran when we coached soccer and it’s a fun comparison. The whole goal of kid activities is to teach balance, understanding, patience and coordination; not so much the actual sport, at least not at first. And it has to be fun…or else why would they want to continue doing it?! That brings me to the one who did not consider ice skating fun., Emerie. She made it a whole two minutes out on the ice before she was laying down crying and screaming I don’t want to do this! The poor teacher brought her back over to us and she watched her sisters for a little while, went back out on the ice one more time and didn’t want to be there, and ended the first class with Craig skating over to the teacher to get her sticker.
I personally thought it was fun to watch from the sidelines (albeit a screaming Emerie for part of it) and not be a part of the actual session. The whole operation went very smoothly for the seven, three-year-olds and a handful of teachers guiding the kiddos as they shuffled across the ice, teaching them to stand back up the correct way on a slippery surface, and making sure that they were safe while having fun.
We’ve asked them several times that day if they liked their first ice-skating lesson, especially because they were so excited that morning before we left. Emerie is consistently giving the answer no I don’t like it while Harper claims the same but we know enjoyed it, and Reagan smiles and asks to go again. The second lesson went even better, with Emerie lasting a lot longer. This was likely because Craig donned his skates and intervened when needed, which they all seemed to enjoy, and everyone was extremely excited for their panda sticker at the end.
Overall, I am excited for the rest of the sessions in the weeks to come and hopeful that Emerie will get a little more excited about it. Maybe this isn’t her sport, or maybe she just doesn’t like wearing a mask, glasses and a helmet, which we can’t really blame her for. Either way will be trying out other activities after this wanted to see which one everyone enjoys.
I should also mention a couple cute arguments between sisters. Vocabularies and sentence structure continue to grow and improve, but it’s not only that; their thought process and comprehension seems to expand by the day! We will randomly here someone call to someone else to show something super coollook at this! Even though they fight tooth and nail about everythingggggg, they also seem to want to be all together and will ask you a million times if one is out of sight. I assume they also want to ensure they aren’t missing out on anything exciting that #3 might be sneakily doing.
A discussion I heard the other day at bedtime, which was similar to a car conversation a few days prior, went something like this:
Reagan: I’m Harper Anne right now.
Harper: Mom! Reagan not Harper Anne! She Reagan!
Reagan: No! I Harper Anne!!
Emerie: No, you Reagan Jean and I’m Emerie Faye.
Harper: You’re name is poop.
I mean really, the arguments over here are outstanding to hear. As soon as that wrapped, they moved onto who they like the best and are arguing over who is right and can get the last word in. One says Tyler, another says Chatum, then everyone argues over Papa Lon and Papa Cliff and it goes from there. Apparently it’s all about the boys in this family. It’s also interesting to see when someone is randomly thinking about someone else.
Another interesting turn of conversation involves the girls calling me by my actual name if I don’t immediately answer the “mom call.” I have no idea where this originated, and while it is funny, I am not about to have three tiny tots calling Becca! when they immediately want something. Hopefully I’ve succeeded at breaking this one easily, as I explained I will not answer to that because I am Mommy to them. That argument seemed to work for the time being.
All in all, we are excited for spring! We are excited to rediscover toys hidden in the shed all winter, to scream there’s a spider in here Mom! all over the place, and to spend the summer outside on some new adventures.
Easter this year meant more involved activities than in years past, including an egg hunt, egg dying, spring cookie decorating, a lot of nail polish, and a lot of sugar. The girls were good sports for the majority of activities and enthusiastically participated in all of it.
We accidentally went to the Cabela’s Easter bunny earlier in the month after looking at the animals and fish. After running Reagan to the bathroom, we spotted a white bunny rabbit strolling down the aisle and Reagan did a complete double-take. We quickly signed up for a photo session (which were by appointment only) and all three did far better than expected sitting in front of it. In fact, I would say they were less terrified of this creepy eared animal than of Santa Claus earlier this year, which is hilarious. It also helps that procedure was similar to Christmas time, with a clear glass separation, making the kids feel less threatened than sitting closely with them.
The sugar cookie decorating lasted for a little while, with five toddlers helping snack on the icing and sprinkles but also somewhat decorating them. No one wanted to share their completed cookies or let me put them up on the rack; they more so hoarded full plates until we demanded to take them away and replace them with empty canvases. Megan and crew brought more sprinkles to add to the mix, including a pack of tiny eyeballs that everyone wanted to use! I plan to make it a family tradition to make sugar cookies and decorate them in celebration of (impending) spring…that thing we are still waiting to see right now.
I was not feeling adventurous about outdoor egg hunting with a snow covered backyard, so the morning hunt stayed inside on our main level with a few more in our empty, under renovation family room. The girls wore matching bunny dresses and new, fancy shoes. Just like last year, they immediately picked up the concept and slung their baskets around as they peeked under furniture and opened cabinets in search of delicious treats. There are only so many places to hide plastic eggs, so the whole search wrapped up pretty quickly, with Reagan’s bucket about 3/4ths full, Emerie’s almost halfway, and Harper’s the least filled as she kept getting distracted with trying to open them. Once all were collected everyone sat down on pillows in the empty family room and sifted through their “booty” before I handed over their real Easter baskets. Harper’s first egg contained a spotted brown jelly bean, which she promptly threw on the carpet with a that’s a rock! comment. Hysterical, I tell you! Her excitement joined her sisters as she opened a few more and found mini marshmallows, other more deliciously colored jelly beans, and egg shaped tootsie rolls.
I enjoy seeing the different responses to new candies. Emerie ate her marshmallows speedily when usually she’s not a big fan of them, Reagan tried one tootsie roll egg and spit it out into my hand with a yucky, while Harper kept getting the gross flavored jelly beans (I guess it’s my fault for not picking better colors to add) and running to throw them into the trash. Harper was the only one of the three to really enjoy the egg tootsie roll treats. Reagan did manage to collect more tootsies and bring them upstairs to share, with one placed lovingly at each table setting and the last one on the couch for Daddy, along with her open sticker book. She demanded Grandma Sue guard that candy until Daddy came upstairs…how cute is that.
This year’s Easter baskets weren’t anything to rave about, just a chocolate bunny for each and a few knickknacks and bunny ears from Grandma Anne. The girls have been carrying the light up baby chicks around with them and I’m sure I will find the princess stickers around eventually. Strict instructions for consuming the chocolate bunnies meant everyone had to take a good nap; somehow orders were obeyed and they all woke up from nap with a I want my chocolate bunny, Momma! type exclamation. It took Harper 45 minutes to eat that tiny bunny, while Reagan scarfed it down and Emerie enjoyed pointing out what parts she ate (ears, then eyes, then mouth etc.).
Easter dinner meant a house of nine kiddos running around, which isn’t too out-of-the-ordinary these days, with the girls refusing once again to eat most of their dinner but the adults and visiting kiddos enjoying each bite!
The phrase of the week for the toddlers is I not can’t. Clearly we haven’t learned double negatives yet but they sure do know how to voice when they can’t do something! I not can’t handle it if they keep saying it like that!!
I’ve learned to pack some extras before going on a drive anywhere out of our city and this week I am very thankful for that predisposition. We loaded up yesterday morning to adventure down to Seward and the SeaLife Center for the day…and then come back home…right?!
Wrong! Can you hear Mother Nature laughing?! She likes to do that type of thing to us (aka triplets!…).
We started the day with quite a snowy and windy drive out of town. It was close to questionable if we should call it and head home, but our group is tough and headed along with eleven kids and five adults spanning three cars. We eventually made it to a wet and more breakup looking Seward- a TON of snacks were eaten and movie clips and songs played; we managed to get there without too much grumpiness. Having Grandma and/or Daddy in the very backseat, feeding the food into the tiny minions hands definitely helped.
We unloaded and hustled the kiddos through the wind and inside to see the sea lions! as the girls quoted the whole drive down. All the kids did great checking out the exhibits and actually returning when called. As you might imagine, it is not easy to smoothly move through anywhere with a headcount of ELEVEN kids under age eight…but hey, we like a challenge and it went really well! They really enjoyed the large sea lion exhibit, looking at the different types of fish and the temporary touch tank (since the normal one is under renovation). There were a lot of little hands touching the sea urchins and star fish with great enthusiasm as well as the comments about the cold water. The kids lasted a little longer than our visit last summer but we still went through the whole thing faster than preferable. Everyone picked out a stuffed animal at the gift shop (three black bear requestes were vetoed since we already have them!) and Emerie ended up leaving with a cute, green turtle, Harper grabbed a red octopus, and Reagan a spotted grey seal. Reagan keeps asking me to hold her seal so her sisters can’t take it. Silly kids.
Instead of sitting down at a restaurant and eating lunch, we dressed everyone in full snow gear and pushed them out of the vehicle to play at Seward’s awesome toddler park. It was windy and very icy and met with great enthusiasm from the whole bunch. I cannot wait for summer when we can visit again under more pleasant conditions. This outdoor activity inspired half the kids to demand use of the portable potty chair we brought and several clothing changes. By the third kid we were ready to load up and head back home.
I do have to mention one of my favorite moments from this adventure. Two of the kiddos in our group were chatting and one noted to the other that she was related to the triplets. She proceeded to say that she can’t tell them apart so she calls them Strawberry (Harper), Grape (Emerie) and Blueberry (Reagan). I love seeing how other kids view the girls when they indeed look identical unless you are constantly around them and can distinguish by personalities or small differential traits like chipped teeth. This makes me want to design them cute fruit shirts!!
Cue a change in background music…because little did we know the real adventure for the day was just beginning. The roads appeared clearer than the way in, with the temperature finally above freezing and the roads more wet than icy, making us feel confident and optimistic on a faster drive home than that morning. This thought was shattered when our speed demon driver of the group, Heather, called about the time we arrived in Moose Pass with a warning the highway was closed from an avalanche, making the road impassable.
We managed to meet up at the pull off ahead of it with our whole kid entourage. More snacks were consumed and we made the executive decision to head to Kenai and see if the road would clear in a few hours. At this point I wasn’t sure how well the girls would do with more time in the car, especially after a busy morning and no one napping yet; overall they handled it really well. I should also mention avalanche news inspired us to open the wrapped presents from Cousin Jamie and crew, because why not? The singing baby sharks greatly assisted in keeping toddler moods pleasant as we detoured an unplanned direction.
After hitting up the Soldotna Fred Meyer for more snacks (of course), melatonin and changes of clothes for the rest of the group (we had enough for us due to our forethought!), we sat down for a nice dinner in the backroom of a restaurant in Kenai (the name is already escaping me). The whole evening adventure worked out well for two reasons, 1) we have a great group of kiddos and parents that help each other, and 2) the backroom allowed for said hyper children to run circles, snack on some dinner, run more circles, and repeat. By the time we finished dinner, it was already past the girls’ normal bedtime and yet we weren’t completely immersed in meltdowns. This was both surprising and glorious, and shows that when given the chance, kids can adapt to things. We haven’t tested this theory very much in the past three years, since the triplet bubble remains tight and regimented, so it is really great to know when a wrench gets thrown in your plans, it is survivable!
By the time dinner was over the highway was not yet clear and open. Instead of chancing driving that distance again and not getting through with very tired toddlers in the car, in the dark on icy road conditions, we opted to hit up a hotel for the night and take our chances with convincing the girls to sleep somewhere new.
As we drove to the hotel, the toddler questions in the backseat eventually ended with a we are going on an “venture” and met with acceptance, even though they had no idea what that meant.
It was close to dark and way past standard bedtime by the time we made it back to Soldotna’s hotel and the girls (and adults) were definitely losing steam. First things first, everyone HAD to check out the bathroom, test to see if the potty is loud (which it wasn’t), open the mini fridge, push microwave buttons until it turned on, and jump on the beds. No pajamas meant the girls slept in their dresses from the day, but luckily had their normal bedtime stuffies and a single binkie we packed for each. Within an hour or so everyone was snuggled in a bed and asleep; Emerie snoring quietly next to me while holding her monkey, Harper cuddled with Craig on the second bed, and Reagan sound asleep next to Grandma Sue on the pull out sofa bed. And everyone slept WELL and extra pillows meant no one fell off the sides!
There isn’t much to tell about the ride home, with the avalanche cleared and no snow falling or potty stops needed, but I will readily admit I am really excited for summer conditions to get here already so we can try out more planned out-of-town adventures. Three years mostly confined to this city is a long time and we are lucky to live in a central location with many fun places within a few, short hours. It is nice to know it might be doable to try new places out and let the girls see other parts of Alaska that we grew up enjoying. Things should go fine as long as there are enough snacks, an overnight bag in the car just in case, extra hands and lots of car ride activities!