Hanging onto that Holiday Spirit

This holiday season the girls are no longer fearful of the jolly red man and acted like such big girls meeting him earlier this month. We overdressed everyone in their fancy Christmas dresses and loaded up in negative six degree temperatures for a quick visit.

So very Alaskan of us, the passenger door of the car wouldn’t latch due to the cold, so we drove there manually holding it shut so we wouldn’t miss our reserved time slot.

The girls all approached cautiously but without cowering, which is much more impressive than last year, which even had a anti-covid glass divider at the time. They talked to him and quietly answered his inquiries and questions. When asked for their names, Harper and Reagan were more silent while Emerie responded for all three. The funniest response was all three telling Santa that they don’t ever fight! Insert major eye roll here, since we ALL know that definitely isn’t the truth!

This holiday season was full of colds, ear infections and pneumonia! Not exactly a great combination for a fun filled holiday experience, but we managed to enjoy it as much as possible, went to the gingerbread town downtown, decorated cookies a few times, colored a million ornaments, and spent a great deal of time at home.

Even with all the illness, the girls made it to almost every school day, with most symptoms seeming to appear over weekends or allowing ear infections to improve before school starts back up for the week. Each morning at breakfast the girls have a rotating request for one animals friend to attend work with us for the day and check on them after school. It’s pretty cute and so thoughtful they want us to have a friend, even if my office is only upstairs in the loft!

The girls vocabulary and explanations continue to improve and with that comes better stories about their school days. I try to ask what their favorite daily experience was at least a few days each week; sometimes they copy each other’s answers but overall everyone is getting better at individual responses. For example, they now explain games created at school. One afternoon’s favorites were Emerie playing hula hoops, Harper playing basketball with Elijah (one of the teachers aides) and Reagan’s response? Playing cows and chipmunks. After asking for clarification, she reiterated she played moooos and chipmunks with the boys that day. Another drive home prompted the response that Harper and Reagan played fall on me with Arlo and Gavin, and that this resulted in a smashed nose and tears but that the game was “so fun.” It’s intriguing to see my little pre-kindergartners start to grow and innovate their own playtimes at school, even if they sound painful!

You also get additional life advice from our big preschoolers, such as Harper’s leave your boobies out, take a shower, put your clothes on and go. Such demands and great wisdom!

After spending more time at home, especially the past few weekends, the girls get more creative during free playtime and interact more than simply fighting. Christmas Eve everyone made a subconscious decision to behave so I could relax on the couch and spent the day playing hide and seek, with their Christmas Eve present we opened that morning (mini backpacks), and finding other ways to play with each other. It was wonderful (and didn’t last lol).

Weather warmed up and cooperated enough for the first sledding adventure of the winter. Last year at this time it was more like our tenth sledding trip; this year has been so cold and full of sickness! Tyler trekked into town and participated in the fun and the girls were so thrilled. After a few minutes Emerie was entirely over the cold air and coughing, so Craig took her back home while Harper and Reagan continued going up and down the hill. Last year Harper was all about speeding down solo; this year Reagan seems to enjoy it more.

Not many other Christmas adventures happened this season, with pneumonia really laying me up and taking all my energy just to try to help Craig a little with the girls while I try to feel better. Luckily presents were wrapped earlier in the week and ready to roll under the tree, or I’m not sure we would have opened them. I gave up trying to find the Christmas stockings and ended up throwing all the planned nick knacks into their trick or treat buckets to go through, prompting some questions on if we were going trick or treating!

Christmas morning wasn’t anything too crazy, pretty relaxed in fact, with the girls patiently waiting to open anything until we gave the green light. It’s quite impressive that not a single curious child opened a present unsupervised this whole month! The method to my madness, last year and probably for many years to come, is to use the same wrapping paper for three gifts at a time, so everyone opens something the same or similar at the same time. Then a few other sets of presents were specifically chosen for the likes of each kiddo, which they all opened at once but were different things. Lastly a couple things were gifts for all to share, like a princess dollhouse Craig quickly built that morning that lets the Barbie doll princesses dance to music!

It took three days to open everything and we opted out of making a fancy Christmas dinner until the house is feeling better. It wasn’t a ton of gifts, but took so much energy and the girls wanted to play with their new treasures after opening each thing. Reagan had a few panda related things and a bazaar yeti I found, since she loves Abominable. Emerie opened a box of mini magnatiles, since she loves tiny things, a new, special holder for her glasses. Harper received several new outfits for her doll and pretty hair clips. Everyone opened a mini princess house with figurines inside (Pan’s tower, Aurora’s wooded house and Belle’s home) and traded around with each other. Aunt Jenny and Uncle Keegan sent a cool fairy house, horse stable and underwater mermaid “castle” that are providing some good entertainment and everyone likes the plastic, Frozen themed container from Papa Cliff. My mom made custom doll dresses for each kiddo during her visit that turned out really adorable! I’m unsure what the favorite presents are this year, since I never quite guess right, but I’d say the dress up clothes, Elsa braid pony tails and Grandma Sue’s princess heels top the list.

This Christmas didn’t quite turn out as planned, but I am very thankful I didn’t have this dreadful illness last year when the girls didn’t independently play very much yet. Also thankful for kiddos who now enjoy movies while parents can relax a bit, with many requests for Merida (Brave), Abominable, Frozen and our latest favorite, Disney’s new Encanto, which the children have conveniently renamed the crack movie. I can’t make that up folks, and really it’s an accurate description, the whole movie is about cracks in the house!

For all those wondering, we deferred Emerie’s eye surgery until January, since everyone needs to be healthier to have it! Reagan’s ENT follow up for tubes consideration will also be next month.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. Wishing and praying for a great 2022 when these girls will turn FOUR! Also praying everyone feels better and my energy returns.

Thanksgiving Week Wildness

It’s been a busy November, with lots of play dates, family visits, activities and all on top of pretty cold temperatures for these south-central Alaskans. I always appreciate family visits and love that I married into a much bigger family network than I have. Craig has a big family for the girls to enjoy and grown up around during visits and through thousands of FaceTime calls. We especially love holiday visits, since it is much easier for us adults to enjoy everything with a few extra sets of hands; it’s also great knowing they are making memories and getting to know many members in the family, especially since mine is so small and much farther away! With so many things to write about, in lieu of writing a ton on our mundane, day-to-day festivities; here are the main highlights as we push from early winter to turkey time, to Christmas!


Donut Time

From the moment Grandma Sue and Papa Lon stepped off the airplane from Juneau, many demands occurred from the three tiny blondes to cook homemade donuts with Grandma. Keep in mind when we tried this activity in February (for Valentine’s Day) the girls refused to eat the final product but really enjoyed the uncooked dough, spreading flour and making the biggest mess possible. This time they continued to make a big, floury mess but finally ate the donuts (holes) and came back for seconds!

Reagan picked out a sprinkle covered donut Christmas ornament for Grandma to take home with her and put up on the tree. Clearly the homemade donuts are making quite the impact as they grow older; you’d agree if you tried them!!

School Luncheon

Grandma and I volunteered at the preschool Thanksgiving luncheon on Wednesday. The three-year-old class was first up in the nicely decorated gym. Once assembled at their designated tables, everyone paired with an older kid buddy, who held their plate and assisted on food selection. The girls refused to buddy up since we were there and insisted on waiting in line with us. When questioned on food choices, all three wanted corn, a roll, carrots and pickles. No one wanted mashed potatoes (not surprising), turkey or stuffing. With a bit of parent coaxing everyone downed a turkey chunk and Harper and Reagan devoured a handful of olives. After the main course was pumpkin pie, with Harper eating only the whip cream, Emerie inhaling all the filling and not touching the crust, and Reagan eating it all!

Crazy Kids

Our goofballs continue to randomly make surrounding adults chuckle. For example, Reagan turned around one night to a lip like this and convinced us it was blood, with a story about falling and hurting her lip. Care to guess what it really was? Nail polish!

Early riser Emerie was hanging out with Grandma at the crack of dawn the other morning, repeating three times she wanted to watch Merida. Finally told Grandma to go away, since she wasn’t “listening.” Everyone now uses the word “never” and will respond I’m never doing that! or I’m never talking to you AGAIN! We don’t use that terminology very often; I’m guessing another preschool kid taught them the fun new word.

Olaf Bread for the Win

Another fun, edible craft idea from the family cook meant customized, breaded Olaf’s for Thanksgiving lunch, with each kiddo donning a cooking hat and apron and decorating their own version of the snowman. This activity was quite the hit in the morning, with specific colored sprinkles, dyed orange noses, craisins for buttons and don’t forget the eyeballs! Even more surprising, the girls consumed these beauties with lunch, eating every sweet treat off before biting into the fresh dough and bread stick arms.

Cookie Decorating

Cookie decorating skills were put to the test several times over the holiday break. The girls decorated turkey cookies with mini paintbrushes and fall themed edible paint. As usually, Reagan took her time to cover ever white edge on the whole thing while Harper and Emerie more so enjoyed spreading the paint with their brushes and begging to eat them. Later in the weekend the first batch of gingerbread for the season was decorated- or more realistically I should say the girls ate sprinkles and continually asked to eat more cookies.

Putting Up the Tree

With the darkness and frigid cold weather, the Christmas tree up early is a must. This year the girls were a bit more helpful, but overall they did the same fight-over-the-tree-bag crying as last year. Everyone helped hand a few branches to Craig or I, but otherwise weren’t thrilled until the ornaments came out. Emerie decided stretching out all the wrapping ribbon looked really fun until we stopped her! Everyone enjoyed hanging their ornaments on the lower half of the tree. This year’s ornament is Frozen themed; last year was Tangled. Maybe next year it’ll be something other than a princess! And don’t let that adorable hugging photo convince you, that occurred after full cookie related bribery, a failed nap and a lot of fighting. And after putting a couple wrapped presents under the tree, they are now asking if it’s Christmas yet…a month out!

Thankfulness

Thanksgiving dinner was quite the feast of deliciousness: turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, pecan and pumpkin pie. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm… If my sense of smell was back, I’m sure it smelled amazing! We discovered through the afternoon snacking that one can of olives was insufficient for Harper and Reagan, that Harper now likes celery, and everyone really likes mini cucumbers and cranberry sauce.

Outdoor Photo Shoot

Megan scheduled a 20 minute photo session outside and the kiddos rocked it! Is it hard to get 5 toddlers to look and smile at once!? Yes. Is it impossible to get?! No! Does it help when they are super cold? Yes actually. And even in the cold they did fantastic and enjoyed a cookie and candy cane on the drive back home. I can’t wait to see the results.

Surprise Visit!

Auntie ‘Manda came up for the weekend to surprise everyone and the girls were so excited. Amanda is now Reagan’s new best friend and was glued to her side the entire weekend, which was really cute. The jump park became much more fun play at her with in tow and they greatly enjoyed snuggling with her on the couch and warming up with some movies. We are already receiving requests for her to visit and play again!!

At bedtime after a busy Thanksgiving, I asked each kiddo what they were thankful for and as anticipated, received varied answers. Harper was thankful for dip (all kinds apparently) and the color black. Reagan was thankful for presents, which are sitting under the Christmas tree, and Emerie was thankful for dinner.

Harper’s favorite holiday thing was eating, specifically the cookie she decorated and celery. Emerie’s favorite things was eating chicken (turkey) and watching a movie. Reagan says nothing is my favorite today. After a bit of pushing, she claimed watching Merida (Brave) in the living room earlier in the day was her favorite. Oh well!

Overall, what a fun week it was! Each holiday season will be a bit more fun and I’m really looking forward to Christmas.

Coughs and Yawns

Well folks, after twenty months living in a global pandemic, it finally caught up to our household through the girls’ preschool class.

Reagan and Emerie had low grade fevers as an indicator early on, something we’ve dealt with more often than not over the last three months; fevers that seem to indicate ear infections or allergies. Unfortunately for this one, it turns out both girls tested positive on their rapid Covid-19 tests at the pediatrician’s office. Harper’s test came back negative, which aligns to the usual order of kiddos getting any type of sickness.

This is the second time a positive case was announced in the girls’ classroom since school started in August, without any specifics times or details, as to keep the other kids anonymous (silly if you ask me!). We assume this is where it was transmitted and we had a very short window to get in the right headspace of spending ten days stuck at home with three rambunctious toddlers, who may be sick but clearly felt fine overall. Over the next few days, they definitely felt better than their parents as the infection slowly crept into our sinuses. Catching all sicknesses is part of being a parent…right? Or is it just part of being a mom? I can’t remember.

While it is fantastic news that the girls aren’t feeling all the effects of this bug, it also means it’s really hard to keep them busy and entertained throughout the day and keep the fighting and whining to a minimum. The first day out of the gate was consumed with all the things, coloring, magnet boards, stickers, some Frozen, Cocomelon and Abominable movie viewing, tons of snacks, magna-tile construction, and layering the house with the inch of snow outside on the deck. Did I also mention eight thousand outfit changes? From pajamas to Frozen princess dresses to shorts to hoodies to regular dresses to dance leotards. So. Many. Outfit. Changes.

And here’s how the quarantine period really went by, since it is not all sunshine and smooth sailing and one of my greatest fears of impending doom over the past thirty months…in case you were curious if you can survive house arrest with your children.

Quarantine Day One

Feeling strong. Feeling ambitious! We can do this! We have lots of things to entertain the tiny minions, a full fridge of food, great internet… I prepped and cooked a nice dinner; the girls played all day.

Twelve hours later…OMG, we can’t do this. I need some Netflix and SILENCE.

Day Two

Online Target and toy store orders begin, with entertainment going okay so far…other than the one hand slammed in the door, blood, waterworks, you know…the usual. Craig picked up a fun new ball rolling set and everyone played (mostly) nicely for a little while on it. A friend dropped off dinner and a couple kid activities on our doorstep; much appreciate as we started down a long path of being home.

Day Three

The toddler cabin fever sets in. Is that a real thing, you ask?! YES, IT IS. It’s like starting a week of full moon attitudes and you can’t escape it. The kids become crazy hyper from being cooped up at home when they aren’t really used to it, at least not at this level. By the end of the day, I found Emerie and Reagan emptying all the toilet paper rolls downstairs and Emerie standing on the back of the toilet. Later that night after bath time, I caught Emerie sucking down the kid toothpaste, straight out of the tube, resulting in a death match to pry it out from her extremely strong, but tiny, fingers. Help us.

I will note a nice thirty minutes decorating craft pumpkins and taping them up on the new living room wall happened. Reagan thrived at this activity while Harper and Emerie browsed by and helped in between other distractions.

Day Four

Creative entertainment means breaking out the top shelf doll strollers that cause instantaneous energy. I began feeling really crummy by now (as opposed to just slightly) with a fever and sore throat; but am feeling very lucky not to have the fatigue other people report having- Craig might be over the hump of his sickness or he’s toughing it out well, at least we hope so! And the girls did not get the memo they are actually sick, you would never know without the mild fevers and positive tests. By the end of the day, I completed a Target pickup order of Dayquil and Robitussin with no bra on…whose feeling empowered now…?!

I will not admit how much Frozen I and Frozen II has played in this house in the last few days…let it goooo…

Day Five

Craig felt inspired to make homemade cinnamon rolls with the girls, so clearly he’s feeling at least a bit better. The girls helped spread the dough, melted butter, and sugar and of course lather themselves in some of it too. Eating the finished product was a bit too much for them, so Craig and I enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast for a couple of days. Everyone napped in the car that afternoon after seeming lethargic and tired all day (just enough to be noticeable), much like their parents! After a shower and hair brushing, Harper told me she liked my hair…clearly we need to get out more…

Reagan begins her major coloring kick. Whoever created mess-free coloring markers; you deserve a medal. Harper and Emerie both have marker stained faces from running out of sight with the Crayola marker set and you can tell! Reagan loves her sparkly, Frozen themed mess-free coloring and sits for a few minutes each hour and colors another one, mostly in the lines, to proudly display on the fridge.

Day Six

Today we are back to work (at home). We were very lucky to have a state holiday (Alaska Day) and a four day weekend (for me) while we are quarantined. We managed six months of juggling kids and work earlier this year, but it’s a different dynamic when your littles are grumpy from fevers, you are confined to your house and the parents have what feels like a bad cold. Fortunately we were both able to get a few work hours in here and there over the weekend to stay caught up.

By day six bike riding is allowed in the house, movie times involve blankets and laundry baskets, the garage is a new play room, railroad track cities span the entire living room- desperate times call for desperate measures! Reagan threw a toy and hit Emerie square in the nose, horizontally slicing from nostril to nostril and drawing a lot of blood and tears from her sister. After that fiasco we opted for a mandatory driving nap…which no one actually slept on. This was the worst day of quarantine so far!

By the end of day six, there are two options: either our fevers are going to break or our sanity is!!

Day Seven

Two of the three slept in until 8:45 today; clearly quite the record. Emerie awoke about 7:15 and laid on the floor by my desk with her owl and blanket while I had a nice hour of hot coffee, emails and silence. We finally managed to take a walk around the neighborhood and get some fresh air, which was much overdue!

Harper found a twirly pen at some point that morning and colored the entirety of both legs before we noticed. She is also quoting full phrases from Frozen at random. For example, I turned around to her standing on the coffee table, with a tutu and crown headband on and arms out, yelling “if you don’t want me to run into fire, then don’t run into fire!”

The girls were wildly hyper in the evening, which we believe stems from the protein drinks at dinner, since they don’t seem to want to eat actual food this week. At least today was a little better than the dreadful day six.

Day Eight

Another good sleep-in morning, with Emerie going for 12 hours of sleep and Harper and Reagan waking up after eight in the morning, a definite win for us.

Overall uneventful day, thank goodness! Emerie isn’t feeling better yet but Reagan is clearly on the mend and exploding with energy. She and Harper continue to run circles around each other while Emerie cuddled on the couch and avoided. An hour driving nap rewarded the parents with a little quiet and the post lunch walk a nice outing in the sun, although Emerie wasn’t really feeling it. Two more days!!

After the car nap Emerie and Reagan cuddled and played nicely together for nearly an hour while Harper “helped” me fold a couple loads of laundry at the kitchen table, I sucked down a bunch of hot tea for my cough, and Craig made dinner that neither of us could taste. It was a nice hour reprieve before the wildness repeated for the day, with no one wanting dinner and Harper and Reagan wildly wrestling and running around the house until bedtime.

Day Nine

It appears we rounded a bit of a corner in play time- when one kiddo finds self entertainment for a few minutes (kinetic sand, coloring, playing in the toy kitchen, etc.), the other two, no matter which two, actually play together for a bit. It is nice to see what ideas they create, whether it’s a blanket fort, playing nap time with their animals (and turning off ALL my lights and closing shades), or chasing each other up and down the stairs a hundred times. As the picture highlights, I also caught them red handed a few times making massive water messes in the downstairs bathroom…but having fantastic fun until they were caught!

Everyone wanted “Elsa braids” that morning and luckily don’t yet recognize the difference between a normal braid and Elsa’s. I will have to learn that skill in the near future though, since it’s unlikely Elsa, Anna, Sven and Kristof are going anywhere, any time soon (sorry Craig).

Day Ten

Miraculously, we made it to day ten and the girls are completely fever free! We took it upon ourselves to really leave the house; not out in public mind you, and ventured out to the valley for some good ‘ole outside fun. The girls rode with their cousins on the dirt bike, four wheelers and kid size John Deer tractor. You could easily tell they were thrilled to get out of the house, enjoy a smoothie on the ride out and run around a new spot. Even their driving (steering) skills are improving! It was a beautiful fall day and unusually warm for this time of October; Jaren, Emerie and I also picked a bunch of wild, high bush (I think) cranberries and Emerie collected about half a ziploc bag, all by herself! All in all, a nice afternoon now that everyone is feeling better and getting closer to back to normal.


Over the past year and a half we focused on not sharing the current world crisis with the girls, especially since they are so young, but can comprehend a lot more than one might think. They turned two the same day our city shut down for the first time and since then are used to seeing people wearing masks and social distancing. We made it through the first six months of pandemic without changing any of our daily routines (other than me working at home instead of the office), since the girls already spent workdays with the nanny at home and hand washing after going anywhere public is something you always do when caring for premature babies. We didn’t fully feel the impact until we started out-of-home unexpectedly daycare last fall, where we weren’t allowed to enter the facility and felt very cut off from the girls during the day. You all know that story already.

The good news is the social aspect of COVID-19 hasn’t affected the girls, to their knowledge at least, as we continue having play dates with a number of folks in our little bubble. Spending a lot of time outside as they’ve grown bigger helps ease the cutoff-from-the-rest-of-society feeling, including small hikes, trail walks, playgrounds and walks around the neighborhood. It pains me to see friends with elementary aged kids that understand the world has changed and not for the better. I don’t want my kids to grow up in fear of people breathing around them, not being masked, having an occasional cough or cold and especially the sociological damage that results from it. Kid shouldn’t have to take on a lot of this responsibility and grow up fearful- they should be having fun, learning new things and maturing in a safe environment- and I intend to hold my family to that as best I can. It makes me so thankful all this is happening prior to school age, where we are the main influence on their lives and they aren’t stressing over missing school, seeing their friends or being stuck at home.

I live in a madhouse run by a tiny army I made myself.

Unknown

Throughout our quarantine the girls never questioned missing school and accepted the simple explanation of a cough and not feeling well. We received the occasional question about going or missing a teacher, but nothing more than that. Even better, they weren’t overly curious why we stayed home all day and weren’t out and about as much or going to the park, and only taking a car ride here and there. They especially disliked going to Target meant order pickup and not venturing inside; that’s about the biggest complaint so far. In another year I feel this would be a lot different! Throughout the week Harper kept telling me she has the coughs and yawns, which is more true for her sisters than her, but wouldn’t you say it is a fitting description for being sick? I definitely have that!

This week the girls started “calling” Grandma Sue on a play phone to tattle that a mean sister. The FaceTime calls with family and friends helped them stay connected and calmed the questions about seeing Oaki and Kaden, Papa and Grandma, or Tyler when they come up, but the fake calls are pretty humorous too. The cell phone tattling remains pretty random and doesn’t seem to follow a pattern when it’s “grandma worthy”, but it’s definitely hilarious to listen to such expressive thoughts!

A few friends have checked in over the course of the week, dropped off goodies and asked how we are feeling and how the virus presented to us. I find it really interesting that Craig and I had very different symptoms, with his cough showing up from day one and then improving, and my cough showing up about day five, gaining some momentum, and then improving. I presented with a fever and major sore throat, which progressed into a stuffy nose and sinus headache without the sore throat, and then stuffy nose with a cough. Emerie and Reagan are mildly stuffy off and on, maintained a 100 degree temperature prior to medicine for a handful of days, and coughed mostly at nighttime and a little throughout the day. Harper maintained no fever, stuffy nose or cough throughout the entire event!

So what has ten days in quarantine taught me about myself? Well first of all, it definitely reminded me that I can step up even more, even when it feels like you already do everyday with three kiddos, to get through a challenging time. It also reminded me to take things one day at a time, one hour at a time if needed. On a bad day (like day six!), getting through an hour at a time is less of a mind stress than constantly thinking how many more days you have to get through and all the stressful questions that come with those thoughts. Getting through one napless afternoon without focusing on the impending lack of nap in future days…really helps. It keeps the overwhelming anxiety a little more at bay, at least for a little while.

Feeling better and getting out of the house!

I fully admit if ten quarantine days occurred a year ago, I’m not sure how we would have survived it. The fact that the girls now play independently at least a little bit (in between the whining and fighting) is a major game changer in 24/7 house confinement. Reagan is fantastic at coloring and sitting for periods of time and focusing on it, Harper enjoys playing dress up and creating fancy outfits and riding her bike around, Emerie will construct a railroad track and play by herself for a little while. Everyone enjoyed trashing my house with kinetic sand a couple times and fort building and balance bike riding in the garage to burn energy. Television, while not the ideal answer but who are we kidding, is now watched and commented on with a longer attention span than last year. Current household favorites are Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Abominable, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Curious George. And lastly, a year ago we couldn’t easily go on a walk around the neighborhood without both parents; now they are “better” at staying close, stopping at the stop signs (with reminders) and completing a loop back home by foot or on wheels.

All in all, guys, we made it through!! The girls went back to preschool yesterday and everyone seems back to normal other than myself, with a mild, lingering cough and tastelessness holding on for a little longer.

Egg-stravaganza and Hoppy Easter!

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!!

All in all, a good, relaxing holiday at home. ❤

Busy Little Bees

It could be the fact that the girls turn three in a couple of weeks or the fact they are home all day again, but I feel like they are advancing a ton on everything the past month or so. For example, Grandma Sue helps them dress each morning but takes more time to help them do it themselves than our typical routine of doing hair, eating vitamins, removing pajamas and dressing for the day on the counter…one, two, three. Reagan is thriving at this newfound independence and can quickly pull up underwear and pants and push her arms through the shirt holes. A few times she’s pulled a shirt up, feet first, and managed to get it on correctly! Harper seems to be a little less coordinated on the steps and easily get flustered and demands you do it. Emerie is a bit more patient but often ends up asking (a little nicer) for assistance. At this age I continue to choose the outfits each day, partly because it’s fun to mix and match and partly because we’d never leave the bedroom if I let them decide each morning. Lately a lot of long-sleeved dresses and tights combinations make it easier to stay warm while shifted between inside and outside, not needed to deal with the dreaded socks (which, by the way, they are getting better at putting on correctly themselves). I am excited for the next season to show up, first because I’m ready for light hoodie weather and secondly, it will be amazing to get all the snow gear out for the summer!

An extra set of hands in the house the past few weeks not only allows us to get so much more work done without needing to do a lot of night hours; but it also means more hands-on activities. The play coloring house was a hit for a few days and surprisingly didn’t end with marker all over the living room walls. The girls continue to bring their dolls “inside” and demand we be quiet so they can sleep. Coloring is a key activity each day and I’ve tried to get a little more creative on things to do with all the crayons and markers we now possess. We colored custom yellow sun shines the other day to hang up on the wall next to the existing sparkle snowmen and moose. There was great conversation about this as I cut out the finished products. Markered orange moose will likely be up any day now as well. Everyone is close to mastering puffy sticker crafts and removing the paper on the back. We tried doing flower beds with sparkly flower stickers but everyone just wanted to pull the circles out from the middles and add those in. Apparently I need puffy shapes, since they kept asking for octagons- we’ve moved on from a love of the triangle to a love of the octagon.

Real baking and play baking

One cold morning we ventured into the garage and used the summer water table as a snow table, using the fake snow kits and giving the girls sand shovels and buckets. The girls insisted on wearing their slippers and winter hats the entire time and did pretty well overall. The mess was more minimal than expected and the “snow” felt like cold gelatin. Everyone enjoyed watching it thicken with water and dumping it out from bucket to bucket. This activity will definitely happen again.

The girls continue the Douglas baking spree and helped make fun shaped cookies (rainbows are a hit right now), blueberry/lemon scones (they taste tested both the blueberries and the lemons), apple muffins, and helped Grandma whip up a batch of stuffed peppers and even ate the finished product (with some threatening of no dessert). Stroganoff the other night was a decent hit for all three, who eventually cooperated and ate all the noodles and meat at the mention of some ice cream. Another night Reagan devoured everyone’s beer battered halibut, claiming this chicken is yummy.

Speaking of grandparents, another funny theme going around the household. All credit for everything, I mean everything, goes to Papa. They don’t specify if this is Papa Cliff or Papa Lon; I assume it depends on the moment and that some goes to each grandfather. If they put on new shoes and recognize they are new, when asked who got them, it is always Papa got them for me or they are from Papa. So thanks, both Papas, for “giving” us everything in the house, it’s pretty funny! The other day I asked Emerie who gave her the new slippers (new size since the older ones were getting tight) and she responded with someone got them, ummmmm, Auntie Manda. So thanks Amanda for getting those for the girls (when it was really me haha), they were clearly thinking about you that morning!

The repeating of Rapunzel, Wreck It Ralph and Moana movies over this winter inspired us to push the girls to branch out on their movie theatrics. This was not met with enthusiasm at first, but after a bit we now FINALLY have new feature films to watch for the bedtime routine. It generally takes a couple times before they accept something new and are now asking for Cinderella (Harper especially), which is also referred to as wanting to see Gus Gus the mouse; Snow White, where they want to see Dopey, and the other night they asked for Mulan for the second time. Cinderella and Snow White refer to the original Walt Disney versions from 1937 and I think 1950, which move at a much slower pace than most current animated movies, but they are still met with great excitement. You can often catch them calling out to each other in their cribs saying, Cinderelllleeeeeeeyyyyy like the mice do in the movie. We are now working our way through a few other selections like Beauty and the Beast and The Fox and the Hound. Another laugh-worthy observation at this age? They all harbor intense disdain for the prince in every movie. I couldn’t tell you why this is, but they will downright insist I don’t like the prince. I don’t like the bad guy (the prince) and it’s hilarious. We will see how long it takes to overcome that opinion, hopefully twenty years or so.

As we round out age two the girls are working on holding up three fingers and telling you their age. Reagan is very proud she can do it by herself now; she holds her ring finger down instead of her pinkie and it’s adorable. Harper is working on a birthday dance and song and Emerie is hard at work on holding up the right fingers. When asked how old they are the response is still two, with the occasional my birthday next! Having a number of birthdays in the past three months, starting with Craig and including mine, a cousin, Paris and Aunt Janelle, practice of the song and witnessing of candles has them excited for their own upcoming day, even though they don’t fully understand it yet. A calendar now hangs on the fridge, with stickers added each day until the big day! The girls are thrilled to count down AND use stickers! Pretty exciting stuff people.

The girls experienced their “first” decent earthquake, at least one they were old enough to notice. The 5.3 aftershock from our 7+ jolt when they were nine months was enough for all three to freeze and look at me while the waves rolled across the house and the light swung from the ceiling. We ended the quake in a group hug but otherwise they were completely fine and judging me as I ran across the living room to grab them off the hearth.

I should also remember to mention, after almost THREE years (and more for me since I couldn’t sleep very well past probably 25 weeks along), we’ve had the majority of nights in the past two weeks where Craig and I both slept through the whole night without a peep from anyone, who all stayed in their beds allll night long. This is likely our biggest accomplishment in 2021 and only two months in! Craig can claim the credit for this; he pushed to stop pulling them out of bed in the middle of the night when they wake each other up, where usually they’d fall asleep quickly with us, and spent a few full nights himself on the nursery arm chair until they started to settle. Will this continue? One can dream. For now it still feels strange to walk into their room in the morning and get everyone up together, since that is not the routine we’ve done the past year. It is, however, white wonderful to sleep in my own bed for a while. The girls were calling the guest room bed Mommy’s bed. That tells you how much I was sleeping in there with a kiddo! Exciting times indeed.

There’s no shame in a little bribery to encourage this either; everyone understands a yummy reward is available to grab if they sleep in my own bed! This usually involves a marshmallow for Harper and Reagan, which Harper enthusiastically calls a farshfellow with great seriousness, and Emerie opts for a jelly bean of her choosing. Candy first thing in the day may not be my best parenting choice, but we’ve worked hard to get overnights in their beds!