How many does it take…?

Prior to our expanded family, we accomplished all sorts of house projects after work each night or over long weekends. Craig and I are generally quite productive when given a big tasks to tackle, and we can look back and say we’ve installed all new windows on two houses, all new doors and trim, new flooring and several completely gutted bathrooms, and even accidentally flipped our first house (we weren’t planning on redoing everything and moving but it worked out that way). We both like to work on projects, with Craig tackling all kinds of tasks and solving issues. I especially like to see how much I can change a space from an “old” look to a new and updated one, even if that is simply repainting a room or changing up the trim style.

Some of the family working hard!

Fast forward to one year post triplets; obviously the fun and productive house projects are now at a minimum as day to day survival does not include extra projects. While I would love to complete something new, there just isn’t time in the day! Raising babies in the new, high priority in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to accomplish other things, right? Refinishing the bottom kitchen cabinets took us close to six months to complete and that happened before the girls were mobile. I still need to start (and finish) the upper ones at some point. The new back deck turned out to be an impromptu (required) project earlier this summer because Craig put a foot through one of the rotten boards. Thankfully we had friends come help with that one.

This past weekend we attempted to construct a new shed in the backyard, having torn the old, rickety one down the summer we moved in. So the question is…how many people does it take to build a shed while keeping track of three high energy, mobile toddlers?

How many people does it take to build a shed?! A LOT.

The answer? A LOT. With two grandpas, a grandma and aunt, three cousins and a couple local friends and visiting ones in tow, we still don’t have a completed product yet…but are much farther than we were a week ago! Time is definitely limited when you must account for a midday nap time, have to keep to daily eating schedules for the girls in addition to keeping an eye on them the whole time, and can’t work late into the night because you must also account for bedtime and routine.

The Douglet household was definitely hopping this weekend; the girls greatly enjoyed seeing their older cousins and getting to play. It was fun to have family visit and get out and go to breakfast and also dinner with everyone- the girls are great in restaurants. We also made time for some backyard fun, climbing and sliding on the play set, running around and “flying” on the airplane teeter totter that is now quite the hit. We even had a dance party on the back deck.

With the bustle of daytime activity, you would think they would sleep well at night this past week, right? That’s what we thought too but unfortunately not…maybe we are just destined to not sleep for a while longer. It’s anybody’s guess! At least we have extra hands this week to help accommodate the grumpiness that comes with less sleep.

Emerie showing Reagan her game
Papa Lon and the creamer game

One other cute little game that Emerie started, now Harper and Reagan have joined in, is with three Costco vanilla coffee creamer bottles (empty) and Tylenol syringes. Who needs actual toys right…Emerie discovered she can take the medicine syringes apart and plop them into the plastic container, dump them back out, and do it again. And repeat. We ended up trying to drink the last fridge creamer faster so that three empty bottles were available for use…otherwise everyone continued to fight over just two of them. Now it is quite the entertaining game. I often look over and see Emerie sitting in the lawn chair, quietly playing her game on the deck, fully entertained. It is so darn cute.

Oh and before I forget…maybe I should show a photo of the shed progress I’ve discussed this whole blog…here is it! I can’t wait to paint it next year to match the house. It’s going to look so great.

Progress!

There are definitely more adventures to be had this weekend. Hopefully that includes a few finishing touches on the shed in preparation for winter and some other play dates…but we will see. There is so much to do before the weather starts cooling off!

I find myself angry…

It is a struggle to accurately convey my feelings over the past month into words on a page (or screen). I’ve never been great at displaying emotion, especially extremely fresh ones, but find myself wanting to get my thoughts out in an attempt to understand and comprehend those feelings.

Craig’s older brother Chris passed away in a motorcycle accident the night as Emerie’s eye surgery. This prompted an unplanned family trip to Juneau, an emotional week for all of us, our first plane ride with the kids, and a big shift in our strict daily routine. Not a lot of time was left for processing it all once we decided to make the trip south, but we are glad we could celebrate Chris’ life and spend time with family.

Quick visit when the girls were about 7 months old and still fit in one lap!

I find myself angry at this turn of events, because life can be really unfair sometimes. While this is not the first time I’ve felt angry with death, with someone being taken away from this world much sooner than they should have, it still provides a similar sting and ache in my heart. There’s never a good explanation for why these things happen, and I think that makes it even harder to process. I also know that if I’m feeling this way, there are many more family members and close friends that feel this ache even more deeply, and I try to stay mindful of that.

My anger is a little different since having the girls. I feel like so many amazing, future stories and memories were stolen from us in one, terrible moment. The girls absolutely adored their uncle; it was plain as day each time he visited or even through a Face Time call. He could get them to giggle and laugh and smile, crossing the bridge from “that uncle that lives out of town” into “the favorite uncle” in a matter of seconds. In fact, when he visit last March, about a week before the girls’ first birthday, he won over all three so quickly that they refused to let him get up off the floor and insisted on immediate baby wrestling and playtime, for a good hour!

Not everyone is a baby whisperer, but I can confidently say both Douglas boys certainly maintain the skill. It is always wonderful to witness, whether it is with my kiddos or someone else’s!

Hawaiian dresses from Uncle Chris’ trip to Hawaii earlier that year. He found three matching ones in their colors ❤

I find myself angry that the girls won’t get to know their Uncle Chris, see their Dad and Uncle’s playful banter when working on a house project, won’t get to ride four wheelers or dirt bikes and get into (monitored) shenanigans with him as they grow older. It surprised me how much impact this thought had on me, because I always counted on the fact it would happen. It never crossed my mind that it wouldn’t, and so much has changed the past month.

What can we do about it? While the ache remains and will for a while for everyone, we can remind the girls as they grow about their uncle, and how much he loved them as well as his family, friends and community. I see how strong my husband is each day, dealing with his sadness while continuing to get up and go to work, raise three growing babies, and make a positive daily impact on all our lives, even when it’s really hard and you just want to give up.

We can tell the girls stories, and boy, there are so many stories! I like to think if you compared the girls’ personalities to Chris and Craig’s childhood shenanigans (the ones that I know about anyway), Emerie would be the troublemaker (Chris!) and Reagan the behaved kiddo (Craig), with Harper more-or-less a combination of the two- willing to get into trouble but also willing to let her sister(s) go down for it (hehe).

While our trip caused a major disrupt in our daily routine, it was great to see everyone as well as extended family I hadn’t met yet! We packed up (a LOT of stuff) and made the trek down to Juneau with the girls and my Mom in tow, knowing the trip would be equally as hard as it would be emotional; both which proved true. Craig’s parents were right- babies do help heal wounds, especially ones wide open, deep, fresh and heartfelt. Hugging on a cuddly Harper, a tiny Emerie or a giggling Reagan certainly helped me heal a bit, and I know I’m not the only one.

We had a couple of fun adventures during the visit, but otherwise laid pretty low (if anything with three toddlers can be considered “laying low”). With Aunt Tami’s and Papa Cliff’s help we explored the local indoor water park, with a short walk over from our residence for the week, and played in the warm water with the girls and their cousins Gabe and Chatum. It was a nice break to have a little fun for an hour.

It was also entertaining to see the boys trying to push the triple stroller down the sidewalk. It is pretty big, especially when full of three wiggling toddlers, and that caused a little problem driving straight, but the boys figured it out!

The girls greatly enjoyed the water and it was the perfect setting for them to do a little walking around as well as floating with us around the lazy river. Because the adults outnumbered the kids for once, we didn’t put life jackets on anyone: having two arms per kid is pretty useful! Everyone thought the slide was exciting, even though they sometimes looked less than thrilled about it, as well as the small kid-sized water works and fountains. This experience also taught me my phone is waterproof, as I went down the slide with it in my shorts. Even fully submerged, it came out okay. Whew!

In true kid style, we made it all the way through the water park without any mishaps or incidences, until of course, we rinsed them off without their swim diapers on…I will leave that one up to your imaginations (refer to a couple blogs back if you are unclear…).

We also took the girls to a cute park, that wasn’t completely toddler friendly, but still workable with three adults to herd them around. The whole trip was so hot, in Alaska standards anyway, so we kept the midday outings for the fair skinned kiddos to a minimum. Realistically, I think the adults were just as hot!

We barbecued at Papa Cliff’s house a couple times, with the girls (and myself!) meeting extended family up visiting from down south, the kids and their friends, a big group! We also made it out to dinner with the family as well and they behaved perfectly, other than the major mess of rice left on the restaurant floor. They certainly enjoyed being passed around and mingling with everyone.

The girls especially loved Papa Cliff’s entryway closet doors. Who knew mirrors could be so very fun and bring some smiles to the room. Here’s a video to bring a smile to your face too 🙂

Giving kisses to the mirrors

Chris’ celebration of life was our last night in town and held at the beach. I’d never visited Auke Rec in Juneau before, and it was a great place to reminisce. What a beautiful view, even with the forest fire smoke in the distance. So many people showed up and it was really a testimony to how many lives Chris touched. He certainly impacted ours! Craig and I handed the kids off to many different people to say hello. It was their first visit to the beach and first time trying Rhonda’s delicious scones.I’m pretty sure they were mostly excited about eating the seashells- not so much the cold water, although Emerie didn’t seem to mind it so much.

As the days continue to pass, I am constantly reminded of Chris’ impact on our lives; in fact, it is all over my house! The windows, my beautiful, rounded third story loft window that the boys gave me so much grief over, the new pantry he installed on his spring visit to Anchorage, even all the tools used by the boys in the garage over the years. It still makes me smile that he shot a hole in one of the heater pipes, putting up trim in the family room, and yet when we discovered it and called and told him later that week, he blamed it on me because I wanted to paint and have new trim! Fair enough. While the reminders bring a sense of sadness with them, they also bring good memories. Chris and I became friends through these projects, as they often brought him up to visit us, and I remember the brothers hard at work for a weekend, arguing about trim cutting and decor…and just being brothers.

In closing, a quote I heard that seems appropriate:

A family is a circle of love, not broken by a loss, but made stronger by the memories.

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So please, I ask all of you reading this that knew Chris- please continue to tell us, and the girls as they get older, stories of all the shenanigans the Douglas boys got themselves into! I only know a drop in the bucket of all the good ones…and sharing these memories will help the girls know their uncle.

Chris teaching Harper to hold her bottle with a great photo of him and Craig on the table next to him.

Mother’s Day #2!

My first Mother’s Day was wonderful, but very vague in my memory now (we were a bit tired last May lol). We left the girls for the first time last year to go get pedicures together for an hour. For my second one, Craig made all the stops!

They were so tiny last year!!

We bailed on work a few minutes early on Thursday and picked out a new wedding band for my ring. Is there really anything better than a request by your husband to leave early to go buy jewelry? Yeah not that I can think of lol.

I came home from work to a wonderful gift from Nanny Chris and the girls. They decorated a flowerpot for me to enjoy, in the girls’ colors, with tiny baby fingerprints. So very thoughtful and sweet! Also quite impressive she did arts and crafts during the day…that takes a lot of effort!

Craig took the girls to Dad’s group on Saturday and did another little project that I adore. It’s definitely going up on the wall once I get a frame on it! Emerie apparently made him work for it…she does not have a giant foot.

The other amazing present in honor of being a mom? The girls slept alllll night in their room (on Saturday night), with barely a peep! That means we both felt rested and I was able to enjoy a cup of coffee bright and early with some Netflix and my feet up. A rare occasion.

Of course, the girls ended that present with a very grumpy day and only a 40 minute nap for the day. Thank goodness we had a decent night’s sleep. They were still cute in their dresses, even through the grumpiness. Oh well!

Mobility Level: Crawling

And just like that, we have babies on the move.

As predicted, Reagan is the first crawler. Emerie followed about 24 hours later over the weekend. Harper is sticking to her backwards crawl, but pulling up on everything and briefly standing without hands. She’s done a couple paces forward but doesn’t like it.

It might seem a little late to some people since their birthday is in two weeks. Realistically, their adjusted age compensates for this, meaning the crawling started at about 9.5 months developmentally.

Here is Reagan giving forward crawling a try!

She is getting pretty good and it and going from a laying to sitting to standing position. She also refuses to settle in her crib now because there is too much adventure to be had.. she likes to peek over the side of the crib and talk to her sisters.

Emerie is not quite as graceful, but can get from A to B so it works! She is constantly exploring her crib and standing up to chew on the side, you know, with her two bottom teeth…she is also on a mission to explore everything.

Emerie checking out the tv

Harper is really great and pulling herself up to a standing position. A little too good if you ask me.

Harper checking out the lay of the land

She isn’t thrilled to crawl forward yet, but has done a pace or two.

Everyone is obsessed with playing on the piano and getting there by themselves. They push each other over on it, crawl under it, and will lean down to pick up toys while holding onto it.

The house is in definite need of final baby proofing. We might attempt that this weekend! The plan is to create a baby prison in the living room, encompassing the jumpers and hearth area and full of toys. The family room downstairs just needs a little more cleaning out to be mostly kid proofed; we also have to mount the TV higher and on the wall. Overall that room is almost ready for TODDLERS!

I’m curious how fast we will have walkers…and a little terrified.

On an unrelated note, I bought shoes for the girls for the first time. First size guess was a bit small, so I repurchased them bigger and they are so cute (yes also impractical at the pre walking age!), but I couldn’t help it when their colors were available.

A Day in the (Triplet)Life

We’ve been getting a lot of questions how we handle three babies all day (and night) long and not go crazy. I figure I should write this down before I forget or block it out entirely in the future. The first few months, with a very tight 3 hour round the clock schedule, are already blurred in my memory; although I attribute that to much more sleep deprivation than I have now.

Starting to look pretty alike!

Back in May and June, after the girls came home from the NICU, we did round the clock feedings every three hours for at least six weeks. That meant several short 1-1.5 hour naps each day was all the sleep we would get in a 24 hour period. Other triplet parents take shifts for feedings so one parent gets an extended length of sleep, but it worked well for us to tag team everything and then settle the girls back down.

Now that we are 8 months old, the day to day is dramatically easier, but in a different way than when they were younger. They can grab a toy or binkie and chew on it themselves, so self soothing is vastly improving, although the next leap teaches them awareness when Mom and Dad aren’t nearby (that’s gonna be fun…). Since they occasionally entertain themselves for moments, that allows for laundry to get collected and washed, dried, and folded, dishes and bottles to be washed, the occasional vacuuming and random household cleaning…but mostly, it’s babies babies babies or Craig or I are doing a household chore while holding one and keeping an eye on the other two.

The first feed of the day is at about 5:40 AM.  At this point, I’ve already been awake about an hour to pump and prep their bottles, and start to get ready for work or the day at home.  Typically someone will be waking up and ready for breakfast as soon as I flip the nursery light on, or Craig has gone in a few times to re-binkie to hold them off until I am ready. Everyone gets a diaper change and arms released from their sleep sack cocoons for the feed and everyone is propped on the nursery armchair.  We have this feeding down to a science and have everyone fed, happy, and back in their cribs to chat in about 30 minutes.  After a few minutes of sisterly chatter, all fall back asleep until nine or so. Sometimes one is up earlier or one sleeps until 9:30, but overall they are relatively consistent with the normal schedule.

On the weekends we often take a nap while the girls do, and get up about 8 AM to start our day (mind you we’ve already been up for the first feed!).  First thing in the morning is by far the happiest portion of the day. The girls wake up happy and relaxed, and hang out in their swings for a few minutes while we eat a quick breakfast.  Then we get everyone up and dressed for the day, and let the fun begin!

On an average day at home, we try to switch up activities when moods start going downhill.  Once we implemented a nap schedule, it was 1.5 hours of activity, feeding, etc. and then down for a quick nap. Now that they are a bit older, we are in the vicinity of 2 hours up.  The girls are not nappers; in fact, they believe 30 minutes several times per day is plenty of sleep, and rarely give me the satisfaction of an hour or more nap, and never all three at the same time for a long one!  We are nearly out of 3 naps a day, and don’t seem to be able to convince them it is important to have all three anymore.  I usually have just enough time to pump before someone is hollering to get back up.  If the nap is in the car, it stretches to about 45 minutes, and we’ve learned that driving from our house out to Indian and back is the perfect amount of time for them to wake up as we pull back into our neighborhood.

Daily baby activities now include lots of jumper time, for everyone, rotating who goes in which one as they all have different things to play with and chew on.  Sometimes we make 30 minutes with three happy babies, sometimes one adamantly refuses to jump at all and wants to be held, and sometimes no one is in the jumping mood, although that’s rare.  The bouncers are now liked (previously hated) and all three girls think it’s hilarious to pound their legs as hard as possible and pull on the dangly toys.  That results in a little enthusiasm as well.

Another activity is tummy/sit time on the floor with all three. They are getting much stronger at sitting up and can do it pretty well with only minimal assistance needed.  During this time, the girls are starting to steal each other’s toys and look around for anything fun around them. There is always a plethora of teethers to choose from.

While feeding schedule is a little less regimented than in prior months, we still do five feeds per day: the early morning, 3 main day feeds and a bedtime one at six o’clock.  If one gets a bottle, everyone gets a bottle!  During the day we prop them in their room and can have everyone fed relatively quickly when they focus. Other days no one wants to eat and it’s much more of a battle!  When we are out and about, they actually eat pretty decently in their stroller/car seats with direct supervision, but we don’t do that as often.

The girls side prop or can eat bottles straight on, and we are so close to them holding them outright!  They are definitely interested in the bottle and understand it is food when we hold one up.

Reagan licking her bottle. Not quite the right way yet lol

During the summer and fall we did a daily walk to get the pups energy out and everyone some fresh air. We have a great 1.3 mile loop by our house that is in the trees and feels almost like an easy hike! It’s secluded enough the pups can run off leash for a little bit and we don’t have to worry about vehicle traffic. Now that’s it’s older out, the girls get bundled up if we go. Sometimes, like earlier this week, we get stopped by a young neighborhood moose on the trail.

Mr. Moose trying to prevent our walk!

Matching bear hats (Em has one on with Dad!)

This is pretty much our daily routine. Feed, play, tummy/sit time, cuddles, maybe a walk or leave for an errand, nap time, and repeat. Somewhere in there we do one baby food feed in their sit-me-ups. Somewhere in their we eat, I pump, and we try to get a few household things done too. Here’s the girls eating blueberry and something else (I forget!). Emerie is the baby bird if the group although Harper and Reagan both liked this one too.

Nighttime routine can take anywhere from 30 minutes (our personal record) to 2 hours.  Starting at six, we put everyone in pajamas and start the feed. The girls eat a ton at night, Reagan more than 8 ounces now, and Harper and Emerie that much sometimes but not as consistently.  The fidgetier ones get swaddled mid-feed, and everyone gets to settle in their crib when they decide they are done eating.

Don’t get me wrong here, the bedtime feed is an epic battle every night.  Everyone wants to go to bed except the babies? We usually have one baby that goes down pretty easily (often Harper!) and then one who takes some coddling and one who refuses and tries to wake everyone else up. Emerie and Reagan vary on this day-to-day.  Once everyone is down, we sneak in and out of their room for mini cuddles sessions as needed or to re-binkie someone who sneezed, coughed, or spit theirs out. I tell you, baby binkies have been a life saver in our household. I also believe we get our exercise simply by running back and forth from our room to theirs…alllll night.

For the most part, everyone is asleep by 7:30. The past month or so we’ve been getting up 5-10 times per night to settle someone, and in the past couple weeks someone ends up in a rock and play in our bedroom, just to keep from waking the other two up due to the snuffles. But overall, the girls sleep quite well for their age and it’s quite a blessing.  We make it to bed by 9 PM, and other than our diving out of bed to quiet a screamer as fast as humanly possible, get to “sleep” until 4:30, when it all starts over again…

NOT a Minivan!

We’ve been blessed to be able to borrow Craig’s dad’s truck for the summer while he is out in Western Alaska doing construction work.

All summer we’ve been reviewing what vehicles can handle three seats across (that aren’t a minivan), and ones that have four wheel drive or good winter traction. After a lot of research by Craig, we found a Ford Expedition that has three rows, can seat up to 8, has middle row captain chairs, AND fits the car seats 3 across in either back row, WITH the stroller!

Big stress off our shoulders now. Purchased it yesterday and might take it out joyriding today (how cool are we!?). Even have some new custom plates on the way, and I finally got around to updating my terrible drivers license photo while we did the rest of the car paperwork. Priorities right…

Since I’m sure everyone wants to know about the exciting part of our blog, let’s get back to the Douglets! Nothing too crazy the past week. Everyone is close to figuring out their hands exist and they are starting to play with toys more and be more observational.

Reagan playing with her favorite owl.

Play mat time is more fun and the girls are much more interested in reaching for things. They discovered rattles are fun to hold, shake, and bash into their faces.

Harper and her foxtail.

Emerie enjoying the play mat.

Reagan figured out today she could chew on Emerie’s toes.

Breakfast of champions…

We implemented the “diaper test” in our house this past week. The test consists of stripping the girls down to their diapers (which they love) and swapping them around, then seeing if the other person can figure out who is who. So far we’ve been doing pretty well and guessed correctly every time. I can’t really tell you how I know who is who, but I can.

4-6 Adjusted Week Growth Spurt

The past week or so has been full of fussy babies and finicky eaters, but also new facial expressions and sounds from the girls.

We were warned a big growth spurt was about to occur, and it started slightly ahead of the 4-6 week timeframe, with the girls 12 weeks old today, but 4.5 weeks adjusted.

This growth spurt is more developmental than physical and involves sight, focus, and hearing. Their vision is starting to improve, with colors a little more visible. They are starting to listen to sounds and music more intently and can focus on it. They also begin recognize our voices better, and the change is very noticeable. Such big cognitive leaps!

The girls are all starting to really smile when we talk to them and express new facial expressions. Reagan, who has always been our smiler, now smiles even more and with eye contact and in response to minimal coaxing.

Harper now enjoys the play mat a little more (or maybe she’s just tolerating it now) and is showing us new sounds and shrieks.

Emerie, our little pea pod, has started to smile in response to our voices and be much more interactive with us.

It is exciting to see the changes and I look forward to the next few weeks of growth!