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.

Home Week

December and January of the past two years consisted of cold after cold, with runny noses, short tempers, a bout of pink eye, and a lot less sleep, especially when the girls were tiny. We hoped this year would be a little improved, if only because most places to pick up a cold or virus are closed and socializing (for the most part) is a pre-COVID perk.

Well, we made it to about day four or five of December before the first cold caught up with us- not a great start but pretty fantastic if one considers no one has had a runny nose since last January. It started with Reagan and a runny nose, went to Harper with one as well, and then Emerie struck an almost 104 degree fever with no other symptoms. The tele-doctor call strongly suggested we get a COVID test for Emerie, since her random fever aligns with those symptoms, so we took all three girls over to the pediatrician’s drive up testing site on Monday morning.

An accurate depiction of the morning

Knowing the girls were not going to enjoy a swab up their nose, we explained to them before leaving that the doctor was going to “look at their nose” and “clean it out.” As expected, all three certainly shed some tears at the experience, with Reagan first and the other two crying just watching her. We broke our no binkie rule and gave them binkies to calm them in the car seats and a lollipop treat.

The doctor noted that they aren’t doing rapid tests, which I’m not thrilled about, so whether we come back positive or negative, we pretty much lost out on daycare for the entire week. That, in turn, means another week on double duty, working and taking care of (sick) kiddos.

Clearly the girls weren’t feeling great, since we took our longest nap on Monday, maybe ever. Although it took Reagan almost an hour of wiggling and chatting in her crib to fall asleep, even she ended up sleeping almost three hours. Harper and Emerie were out pretty quickly and we let them go longer than the usual wake up time, hoping that would help fight off the runny noses and fevers.

Day two: as we continued to wait for test results, the day started off with a very grumpy and fevery Emerie. Everyone ended up sleeping in our beds early on in the night as the snot continued to cause coughing (they didn’t cough at all otherwise!). We played out in the backyard while the snow dumped and spent a good hour with play dough at the kitchen table. I also started feeling the effects of a sinus cold and started cramming down tea and Advil cold and sinus, hoping for a mild one while we can’t go anywhere or get any kiddo relief. I always find it entertaining that I seem to catch EVERY cold that girls get but Craig manages to skip most of them.

By Wednesday we still had no word on testing results. Emerie’s fever continued on and off and she awoke with a 101, which is better than the past few days. Harper and Reagan’s only symptoms were runny noses now and they have mastered the skill of blowing their noses into a tissue. It was very cute at first since they didn’t quite comprehend how to do it, but learned quite quickly! It probably helps that they shared this cold (as usual) with me so my nose blowing is their continued demonstration.

Craig and I continued to juggle working our hours while watching the girls. We’ve found it really helps to hide toys for a short period of time and then get them back out. It doesn’t take much for something to be “new” and exciting again for a toddler. I pulled the foot-push cars out from the shed and let them thaw in the living room and moved the random toys and furniture off to the side as much as possible. The girls played for a while with them, alternating who sat in which one, Craig strung some LED Christmas lights on two of them, they drove with blankets on top for “peek a boo” and carried baby dolls and monkeys around with a loud goodbye, mommy! Of course fighting occurred over who could use what (since two are red and one is teal), when someone wouldn’t move for someone else, or if a foot was accidentally run over, God forbid! While the activity passed the hour for us adults, we still opted to go to nap a few minutes earlier than normal and they went down pretty quickly.

Traffic jam

By day four of still no test indications, grumpy, cooped-up kids and a full fledged cold for me, I finally dropped the optimistic and happy life attitude that most of my blogs represent and became more of the realist of- this. just. plain. sucks. Emerie was in a mood the entire day and no matter what activity was done, toy was out, show was on, everyone just fought.

Parenting is hard. Parenting more than one kid of any age is hard. Parenting three toddlers at the same time is hard. Staying home for multiple days, waiting on test results, is hard. I am SO over this month, this year, this phase of kiddos? While my current struggles this week could be blamed on COVID, I can’t really blame the lack of socializing or visiting family entire on it and just have to continue to struggle through. I hoped Friday would be another day, hopefully with cheerier kiddos and test results, but who are we kidding? It’s was just going to be a repeat of this day (and thanks to the stuffy nose- I can’t even enjoy a glass of wine or bowl of eat ice cream to help). In fact, we were very close to opening the not-yet- wrapped Christmas presents just to pass the time, or do an Easter egg hunt (if I could find the plastic eggs). I’m not sure which is worse, that everyone is snotty and grumpy every second or the fact that I know it’s not going to get any better anytime soon.

Friday came and went about the same as the rest of the weekdays. We loaded up in the car and got hot chocolates for the girls and fancy drinks for the adults, came home and enjoyed them and ventured out on the fourwheeler for a quick jog around the neighborhood. That proved to be very cold, even in broad daylight, and by the end, the girls just wanted to come inside and snuggle in their hooded blankets. We caved and brought out the first Christmas presents of the year that afternoon, the fancy doll strollers from Grandma Anne. After the little ones they’ve had since about twelve months old, these things are fancy! Not only do they have a baby carrier and stroller, but they even have some bells and whistles like real strollers. I am sure next spring will consist of walks down the street, with all three walking their dolls (or monkeys) each evening in delight.

I am happy to report that we eventually received the all clear, negative, test results we were hoping for. By the time they came, the fevers were gone and only runny noses remained. It’s been a long week; while we are SO ready to send them back to school, we are also happy that we didn’t catch anything other than the usual, mundane December sniffles.

I learned this week that toddlers can be even grosser as they get bigger. We always joke about the snot and slobbery times when they were babies, assuming at least some bodily fluid was on every shirt or pair of pants at all times (pretty accurately assuming). Well, I witnessed an exhausted Reagan, completely asleep, wipe her nose with her hand and then lick the same hand. While she was ASLEEP!! Let’s pray that we don’t all do that when we are sick and sleeping…so gross and subconsciously! The next day I also watched Harper blow her runny nose into the front window screen and then try to rub it off with her hand. Yep, that happened too. I’m going to go wash my hands…


Since most of this blog was mildly discouraging and full of snot, quarantining, and stress, I will mention a few cute things over the past week. For example, like at Halloween, Craig switched out the random pillowcases around the house from spooky to Christmas themed, and again Reagan noticed and kept pointing it out. That led to her discovery that the cases are removable from the pillow and usable for a variety of things, such as hauling toys around, wearing on her head as a hat, or climbing in and using as a sleeping/potato sack of sorts. By the end of that evening, all three were playing with a pillow case and fully entertained for an hour.

Princess pajamas!

The princess phase of toddlerhood is in full swing. Now remember that they enjoyed the you-tube videos of Disney songs while in their jumpers, with those medleys on replay for several months. Harper fully embraces this attitude- she likes to dress up, wear her color (pink), and adamantly DEMANDS to have some form of princess on all pajamas and often on her clothing and underwear. It is to the point it can be difficult, because she will NOT wear any old pair of underwear laying nearby when it needs a change from an accident and will NOT cooperate unless you specifically show her how there is a princess on that article of clothing (she doesn’t believe castles apply). I’m pretty certain I’ve ordered every princess pajama I can find in their size (which isn’t that many actually) so the three pairs we have don’t require washing everyday. Recently Reagan was in an owl phase, then a purple phase and now she is in support of the princess-wear, but won’t argue as much about other pattern options. Emerie is the easiest to convince to wear any pajama or outfit; this week she is asking for butterflies.

Reading with Cousin Tyler

Several new Llama Llama books came in the mail last week and the girls are thoroughly enjoying the new topics. I missed reading the Thanksgiving theme one for the actual holiday (I couldn’t find it!), so we are reading it at nighttime now followed by the Christmas Llama Llama book and the usual “Potty Book” (actually titled Llama Llama Nighty Night), but renamed by the girls because it has a potty page. After a week we are still reading these three each night and the girls now recite the nighty night book with me if asked. For a while Harper was calling out the words before I turned the page, clearly a sign of how much it is enjoyed. It’s quite adorable too.

A new household rule exists that Mom is not allowed to sing but Dad is. Since Cocomelon is streaming a lot more these days while we are all at home, I’m informed by the tiny humans that I am not allowed to participate in singing along under any circumstance, but that Craig should clearly sing with them. Not sure how I should take that…but they are very boisterous about it while we are in the car. I am, however, allowed to dance at the musical dance parties- and let’s be clear…I can sing MUCH better than I can dance. Hopefully the girls have their dance genes from the Douglas side of the family. Harper is constantly requesting the Itsy Bitsy Spider song and likes to do the motions when it plays. Emerie is on a Jesus Loves Me and This Little Light of Mine kick, and Reagan asks for Lola the Cow and Baby Shark. Harper refuses to let Lola reach her ears, even after loving it a few months ago, which cracks me up.

Moose lookout

The girls conversations continue to expand. They like to goof off and play together (when they aren’t fighting, which is every once in a while) and if you peek and watch them, the conversation usually goes Harper, again! with a response of Emi, my turn, my turn, again! or me, Reagan, me! and then the action is repeated. For that one moment of no toddler rage, it’s pretty cute. The girls are starting to play cook more now as well. Harper brought me a cup a “tea” and poured it the other day, Emerie will deliver a plate full of random (fake) food that always contains interesting combinations to “eat”, and Reagan will go answer the phone on the play kitchen, stop and look out and have a conversation on it while she walks around the room.

Another hot topic in the household is the neighborhood moose. It ran down the street the other day and they were SO excited, but disappointed it didn’t stop and hang out in our front yard. A few days prior that same moose was across the street eating a frozen pumpkin at the neighbors, in perfect view from their bedroom window. They’ve decided that anything resembling a horse is now a moose and argue with you if you disagree.

As you can see, there is a lot going on this winter, even without the socializing and normal holiday activities. While there is much more we’d like to participate in and hopefully will in future years, for now we will try to dwell on the good and not sit on the hardships, like waiting for test results, babies that wake up early and are grumpy, or winter colds!

We hope everyone is hanging in there this holiday season and please reach out if you want a Christmas card ❤