Last week was spirit week at the girls’ preschool. It feels like they are so old to participate in such an event and I could have put a bit more planning into it to make it fun, but here we are! I thought it would be cute to document what they each dressed up as throughout the week. While the concept of allowed dress up was missed by the girls, they definitely had fun getting to wear abnormal outfits to school each day.
Day 1 – Pajama Day
Monday was pajama day, of course, since who wants to actually get dressed and start the work/school week? This was an easy pick for everyone and we opted for cotton sleepers instead of the long, flowy princess styles that are not functional during the day. Stylish isn’t always practical, right? Reagan also insisted on covering her feet with cozy socks, because it was the theme!
Day 2 – Dress Like Your Parents Day
Day two was a bit more of an argument to make a decision. All three agreed they didn’t want to dress up as Dad (he’s not into dresses and that was a deal breaker), but when we suggested jeans (jeggings- they’ve never worn REAL jeans), cute boots and comfy hoodies, they declared a compromise with skirts, boots, and two layered princess t-shirts. Now I am in no way a fancy dresser (obviously), so the insistence to “wear dresses like Mom” made no sense upon request. Everyone also had a high, messy bun, headband, and a coffee cup for their morning photo!
See the resemblance?! They look SO GROWN UP!
DAY 3 – Class Color – Blue Butterflies
The 4-year old preschool class they are in is called the Butterflies and apparently that meant their class was blue. Luckily I found three blue pants and found their blue shirts from the previous daycare class, and we were good to go! The girls didn’t quite get that memo because everyone had to have a colorful tutu and ballet flats.
Craig had the idea to bring the butterfly wings from the fair to wear for the day. He was able to snap a few cute shots of everyone running through the halls at school (or should I say flying?) and repping Mr. Ivan’s class.
DAY 4 – Future Career Day
This was probably the hardest day to pick of the entire week. While I attempted to get cohesive, real life job desires out of each kid; everything always loops back into their love for princesses and fairy tales. After making that comment, another mom reminded me this is the time when reality doesn’t, and shouldn’t, be the driver of the future, and wishing to be a princess isn’t a terrible thing. It means they wish for happiness, love and a fun story; and really, what is wrong with that?
At first each separately asked for Queen Elsa. After more discussion, Harper opted to be a ballerina, with a pink skirt since a sheer, dance skirt wasn’t very warm, and several accessories, including her pink bowed tights. In fact, her outfit was very coordinated as pink and black and she wore those glasses the entire day. Emerie requested her bring-it-in-dress, which is Isabella from Encanto, a sunhat and a flower wand. It took a bit to get any answer from her but Elsa, her go to costume for everything. Reagan requested Jasmine for the day and a mom to the kitten for the picture that morning. She also mentioned she wants to be a teacher, but the impending dress options booted that idea right out the door when she remembered Jasmine (and our current at home Disney theme).
DAY 5 – Heritage Day
Friday’s heritage day meant Craig dug out the Douglas kilts, reminding me the German side of their DNA would not be as cute of an outfit. I will definitely have to find some cute beer maidens in the future, which shouldn’t be a tough sell. And he really wasn’t wrong! They wore those kilts the entire school day and were thrilled that Craig had stopped at Target and sized up their black ballet flats to match. I especially like Harper kept to her style with sparkly tights.
Overall all three had fun with the choices throughout the week; so much so that they now want to wear five different outfits a day and go through all the new size six clothing, since it’s exciting and new!
So far 2023 started off without anything too significant or exciting happening. Lots of winter, snow, working hours and wild children. The kittens continue to grow and change each day, and it’s prompting a lot of old memories for this mom on life “back in the day” with three rambunctious babies. That day was only a few years ago, but it feels like a whole lifetime with how much things have changed!
For example, the girls’ unique personalities became evident even before they were speaking, and each had a slightly different attitude on things throughout development, and it’s still true today. Harper refused to roll over, adamantly indicating that was a skill not worthy of her time, and yet she was the first of the three to walk, with Reagan right behind her. The similarities are pretty funny in the kittens, because one kitten slowly started walking forward, with the second observing closely, and the third less interested at first. Within an hour, the first was walking, the second was mimicking the first at a slower pace, and the following day number three gained the skill and joined the club. In our case, Harper was the first to take her steps forward unassisted, with Reagan carefully watching and learning immediately after, and then Emerie not long after that.
When it comes to containment, you might remember the full “cage” that spanned our entire living room for quite a long time, from crawling to climbing to walking and until escaping. And the baby gates, which blocked off each level of the house and the loft. One kitten (named Wallace) was the first to figure out how to escape out of totes and boxes if he used a sibling as a step stool. The girls did this exact thing, figuring out how to boost one another out of their fenced in play area and into freedom, before mom and dad fully baby proofed the rest of the house and blocked off the stairs. Persistence is key!
Personalities are also similar. One kitten is the “wild child” of the three, has a need for speed, was the first to take steps, and always instigates the troublemaking with the siblings. Doesn’t that sound like one Miss Harper? Another kitten (named Wesley although it might be Winston now?) is far more timid than his brother, but will pay close attention to the activities at hand, holding out the longest before participating. He’s a sweet soul. Does that sound like Miss Reagan, especially when she was smaller and more shy? The smallest kitten (Winnifred, i.e. Winnie Rose- because the girls insisted she had to have a middle name!), is also shy, needs one of her eyes scrubbed off occasionally so it’s not shut with goobers (i.e. eye issues), her siblings gang up on her a bit because they are bigger than her, and she loves to cuddle and be rescued from the chaos. Sounds like Miss Emerie to me!
It is also funny to watch Molly and her obvious annoyance and frustration at her three littles running in three directions. I greatly understand her sentiments and still live in that today, although nothing like it was two years ago. She will take naps up high on her climber, where she can keep an eye on the crowd, knowing they can’t reach her!
For the most part the girls are pretty aware of the kittens wandering the house, and if not there is my constant “don’t step on the kitten!” reminders. I’ve only caught them a couple times with compromised kittens. The first time all three were downstairs in the bathroom, with a paper shoebox full of water in the sink, trying to give Winnie a bath. As you would guess, she was not impressed; and luckily I caught them before she was fully submerged. The second time all the kids were jumping on Grandma Sue’s bed (I.e. the guest room bed) with two very terrified kittens trying not to die. No kittens were harmed in either incident!
On the non-kitten front- you may all be shocked to learn the love for the song Shake It Off has finally depleted. In fact, I now get demands to NOT play it, after several years of constant replaying more than any one person wants to hear it. We definitely had some really cute memories (and videos) of the littles shaking their bald heads and tiny butts to it. Uncle William is now educating everyone on other songs by the songstress and pushing us into a new era of music. Different music videos are also quite the hit; of course they don’t follow the intricate meanings behind the scripts and scenes, but they all excitedly love her outfits, shoes, and sparkling wonders. Some of the most exciting parts are the funniest things, such as her dress changing from white into red and her fancy shoe choices!
A new session of dance started last weekend. Since age three’s dance class was so very miserable for us parents, with the tantrums, not listening, and times dragging all three out kicking and screaming in front of throngs of disbelieving singleton parents, we held off for a full year before trying again, and this time with a new tactic: dividing them up. This is the first time we’ve tried this method for any activity, although we talked about it when transitioning into the four year old daycare class, and ended up keeping them together, which has worked out so far. In efforts to maintain some parental sanity, Emerie and Reagan are in gymnastics at 11:15 on Saturdays while Harper starts dance class at 11:30, with the younger group until she turns five in March. The parent area is in between the two rooms, so we can see both sides easily and provide stern looks through the window when they act out.
Last year Harper did the best by far, in terms of listening and behavior and actual participation,while Emerie and Reagan fed off each other and missed half the classes due to needed intervention to minimize disruptions. All three strongly desired to climb all the mats and swing on the equipment when everyone else was listening and out on the dance floor. It was a disaster and the most money I’ve probably ever spent to be so miserable!
The first week of round two went much better. There was discussion on who was in gymnastics and who was in dance, and of course major disagreement with our plan, but once class started, it went well! Emerie is definitely meant to tumble and climb on things, and it greatly impresses me when she runs across the balance beam, knowing she has a a bifocal and weaker eye sight than her peers. Reagan also seemed to enjoy the class, only having one moment of the pure pouty face, which I did not help with by taking photos and saying I sent them to Grandma Sue. Harper, across the hall, had a wonderful first class and didn’t need any intervention. She wore her princess heels as her tap shoes, and seemed to really enjoy herself. The roughest part of the whole activity was when Reagan and Emerie were done and waiting for Harper’s class to wrap up. Reagan threw down to go into the room to “watch” her sister, and managed to throw a fit in front of everyone when she didn’t get her way.
Every day in between the two classes the girls asked what day it was and what day dance and gymnastics falls on. What’s funny is how they define the days of the week at this point in their lives:
Sunday – means no school and some fun activity with cousins or the boys
Monday – ugh school. I’m tiiiiiired!
Tuesday – no one ever asks about this day
Wednesday – this is school pizza day
Thursday – no one ever asks about this day or “is it the weekend yet?”
Friday – chocolate milk and show-and-tell day at school!
Saturday – the weekend and now dance day
Week two went well also, and I’m hoping the trend will continue. The gymnastics teacher told me after class that she split Reagan and Emerie into separate groups for their breakout activities after she heard one encouraging the other not listen. Emerie started the class out a bit feisty and not wanting to be there, but pretty quickly started having fun. She’s great at tumbling and always pops up with a big smile. Reagan constantly comes over to ensure our eyes are glued to her body as she participates. She proudly flipped over one of the bars (assisted) and after a few tries could almost do it by herself. Harper happily tapped around in her new tap shoes and black sheer sleeved leotard. It cracked me up she was in black from head to toe- black leotard, black tights, black ballet slippers, and a black sheer skirt. Oh and don’t forget the black scrunchie, accessories!
Speaking of accessories, the last week or so Harper is constantly wearing her Mirabel glasses. They have no glass so they don’t get smudged and dirty; she seems to think she looks like Emerie in them. The funniest part is that I constantly call her Emerie when looking out the of the corner of my eye, even tho she doesn’t have green glasses!
I swear the last few days must have a full moon, because the crazy cabin fever from the kids is ROUGH. They’ve impressively trashed the house several times, drowned the downstairs bathroom with toilet water (and who knows what else), worn a dozen outfits a day, gone through clothing drawers and closets they’ve never opened before and dumping things out, and been wildly crazy with the back talking, fighting and not listening. Guys- we are so tired. I’m not sure if this shift can be attributed to the dead of winter, an impending development shift or sickness, my working longer hours than normal at work, or something else, but they are wild. New name calling popped up as well; Reagan’s insult of choice is now you spit-head. That, and you-toilet-water-poop-spit. I’m pretty sure she’s not going for “shit head”, since I have no idea where she would have heard that from (yeah yeah but really we don’t say that), so I believe she really means spit. And reminds us spit is gross, so she thinks it’s quite the insult. Such fun.
This month’s theme songs are from the live action Aladdin film, where Disney added a new song by Jasmine that the girls adore called Speechless. It’s girl empowerment and she takes down her enemies in song and the girls think it’s just amazing. It’s a pretty song in my opinion too! Every drive includes it and all three love singing along. Harper has her own lyrics to the melody and it’s hilarious, with SPEECHLEEEEESS three times louder at the end of each relevant line. They also like the songs by the genie guy and when Aladdin and Jasmine are running (first seen). It’s really nice to be able to watch another live action movie besides Maleficent, which is much darker! And little do they know one of their birthday presents is fancy Jasmine dresses that I bought during after Christmas sales. You ain’t never had a friend like meeee!
I can’t believe we are almost a month into the new year, but here we are. Kittens are growing everyday and so are my little ladies. While I look forward to spring just around the corner (quite optimistically I might add), I’m also excited for them to celebrate my birthday this year and Valentine’s Day. After that they’ll be turning half a decade, which I am NOT ready for.
As pretty much all parents of young children know, Bluey is life. What is Bluey? An Australian children’s television show that supports morals and raising good humans, in the form of blue and tan puppy dogs. While it may be repetitive and get stuck in your head, the story lines nevertheless are wonderful and support good family values, sibling love, creative and respectful play, and good life lessons. We managed to avoid Bluey marathons for at least three years, knowing that the girls considered it special when preschool turned it on, and kept it that way. Eventually, as all parents do, we caved and this show now plays SO MUCH. Even more so when everyone is sick and confined at home until fevers reduce and energy returns. The show has actually grown on me and some of the girls’ games are now played after certain episodes are watched, like “Keep-ee-Upie.” In layman’s terms, this is known as keeping a balloon off the ground. I’m pretty certain a few of our chickens have names based on characters in different episodes on the show (Diddums is a favorite, and Telemicus).
One of my favorite words to emerge from the show really fits with our current #tripletlife lifestyle. Harper is on a kick of saying things are difficult: people, sisters, parents, a task, everything. It turns out there is an episode on Bluey where Bingo (the little sister) uses the word “trifficult,” and I’ve decided this fits well in our household that deals in everything triple. It’s meant to be tricky and difficult combined, hence trifficult. We have a lot of bedtime routines that I would call trifficult to a tee; so, very, trifficult. Some evening conversations go like this, as the girls are lying in their beds resisting the urge to finish the day and go to sleep.
Harper: Mom, where do narwhals live? (narwhals became quite a discussion after Craig’s return from his Juneau work trip, where he found a pink, purple and teal one)
Mom: They live in the water. (It’s bedtime, so don’t be descriptive or long winded)
Harper: But what kind of water do they live in?
Mom: Well they live in the ocean.
Reagan: But mom, why don’t they live in the sea? Why the ocean? I don’t want them to live in the ocean! *whineeeee
Mom: Well, the ocean is bigger than the sea. They need their space. (this answer is based on no legitimate narwhal knowledge on my part)
Harper: Awwww, I don’t want them to live in the ocean! I want them to live in the sea *more whining. So then where do we live?
Mom: We live on the land, in Alaska. It’s next to the ocean. (the girls are well versed in their home state and a few cities where family lives)
Reagan: Well then why don’t we go to the ocean then? Why don’t you EVER take us to the ocean? WHY?I want to see a narwhal but you NEVER take us. (I now see the trap ensuing)
Harper: Yeah, we never go to the ocean. Why don’t you EVER take us to the ocean?!
Emerie (whose been listening thoughtfully the whole time): Turtles live in the water. I love turtles, they are my favorite. I want to go to the ocean. (Good diversion, kid)
Harper (taking the bait): Otters too, I want to go see otters. And the narwhals, since you never take us.
Mom: How about you just go to sleep.We will go to the ocean eventually.
Harper: My narwhal wants to go to the ocean now; she doesn’t want to sleep. Mom, she wants to go to the ocean. (and it went on from there)
And on and on and on….
Pumpkin carving this year was pretty similar to last year, other than the added enjoyment of Cousin Jaren and Savaya coming over to help with the activity. The girls thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone else clean out the pumpkin guts, but just like last year, Harper was the only one willing to use her hands. Emerie and Reagan “helped” gut with spoons and demanded the adults loosen the seeds to their satisfaction. Eventually they returned to playing and the adults finished things out. Jaren’s puking pumpkin was definitely the winner…if we were competing on designs. The girls thought it was pretty funny.
I also had the joy of watching my children knowingly torture their cousin this time around. For the longest time all three interchange their boy cousins names, but now they are starting to do it on purpose to get a rise out of them. Today in particular, all three whispered to each other go call him Tyler with a maniacal laugh, would shout hi Tyler, and then all run away in overwhelming giggles. It’s funny to know they are purposefully tormenting Jaren now. I wonder where they get that trait from?!
A few more Halloween activities led to more princess dress up and fun. The girls had their annual Halloween party at school, with snacks and goodies and fancy, carved pumpkins. Reagan came down with quite a nasty cough the evening before so she had to miss it, with the doctor telling us that day she had RSV (for the first time at age four…which is pretty good!). She demanded that I take photos of the classroom decorations and that her sisters explained what went down that day. One of the teachers’ aides kindly found a squishy eyeball for her to have like her sisters, which prompted much discussion.
Harper and Emerie gladly wore Encanto’s Isabella (Emerie) and Rapunzel (Harper) AND wore their dress up princess heels, which was very exciting since those are only worn at home. One of the teacher aides asked me what Reagan was supposed to be, which seemed like a strange question until she clarified. The girls were going around telling everyone Reagan doesn’t get a costume because she doesn’t sleep in her bed at night. Well not entirely true kiddos…she doesn’t sleep overnight in her bed, but her staying home sick trumps that! It’s funny how the girls perspective is sometimes.
While the weather temperatures decided to drop for the rest of our fall festivities, that didn’t stop us from attempting them anyway. Extra layers and warm, “cozy (fleece) pants” kept extremities warm long enough to enjoy Trunk or Treat at their school over the weekend. It was not nearly as busy as last year, but the girls saw lots of classmates and friends throughout. I heard a few comments from older kids that those are the triplets. Those triplets are the same age! And so on. I even heard one grade schooler comment that their parents probably never sleep. That’s pretty insightful! So their school celebrity status is still going strong.
Harper and Emerie opted for the same outfits as their school party (plus a pink cape) while Reagan begrudgingly wore Anna, only because she wanted a cape. I sneakily convinced everyone to wear princess gloves, to keep hands warm but also to accessorize! Harper requested her hair be down, which she does at school everyday no matter how it’s styled, Reagan had two braids like Anna, and Emerie rocked her Elsa braid ponytail clip.
Craig prepped the decorations and then headed over early to set up. By the time we showed up, he was pretty cold, and I was sweating getting everyone dressed and into the car! Cold or not, the car looked pretty great and mermaid like. The girls were certainly impressed and tried to grab handfuls of the candy from our bowl, that we were trying to get rid of! So. Much. Candy.
The rest of Halloween weekend was spent at home, resting up from the coughing, RSV ridden and very tired kiddos. We attempted to walk around the neighborhood a bit on Halloween night, simply because the girls were so hyped up about it and have asked me for about 364 days when we could next trick or treat. It was a pretty cold night but mostly snow-less, with the neighborhood really picking up by about 6:30. The cold, crisp air was not doing us any favors; after about a block Emerie and Reagan were blustering continuously and we decided it wasn’t worth the effort. They turned around with Cliff and Craig while Harper and I went a couple more blocks. She is fearless, even without her sisters in tow, and did quite well going up to front doors on her own and ringing the bell. Toward the end of the excursion, she was turning candy down and informing unsuspecting folks she needed the packs of M&M candies from their bowls and nothing else. Silly girl. We trekked over to the fanciest decorated house (with a dragon) and then turned around and came home to warm up the appendages, which were quite cold at that point.
We definitely ended the fall season and threw ourselves straight into winter illnesses with a bang. If we are lucky this will be the worst of it for the year, but since we’ve had snow less than a week and temperatures continue to dip, I’m not optimistic that will happen. I am thankful that this is our first diagnosed bout with RSV- it must be so terrifying for folks that have tiny babies coughing and wheezing like this. It was definitely something we worked super hard to avoid when the girls were still considered preemies, and then with COVID, managed to avoid it until age four and a half. Now let’s avoid it for a few more years please. The week spent at home really displays how much the girls have matured and now play with one another or creatively alone, something they didn’t do nearly as well last winter and definitely didn’t last as long. Not sure how Craig and I would have handled the past week a year ago, so thank goodness we didn’t have to!
We made it through the rest of our sick week with dozens (hundreds?) of Bluey episodes and a lot of princess movies, continuous dressing up (from pajamas to princess dresses and accessories), and a lot of down time. We finally convinced the girls to watch a non-animated movie, Maleficent II, and they didn’t react to the scary bits as much as I expected. And we’ve watching it at least a handful of times; they really enjoy seeing the fairies and all love Maleficent and no longer believe she is the villain of the story.
Craig and I continued to brutally step on the dozens of tiny rocks, ahem “crystals”, that litter the floor of our house from Miss Reagan, who adamantly collects them and using them for everything. If we aren’t stepping on rocks, then it’s the tiny plastic jewelry and sharp edged glass beads that are lying in wait for crushing (skin crushing, soul crushing, stepping on them hurts!). Emerie especially loves to accessorize and the house is covered in beaded necklaces, rings, shoes and other head wear and I can’t for the life of me keep that $hit off the floor!
Reagan now knows what bedtime looks like on the living room clock and will argue if it’s not right at eight when we scoop everyone upstairs. I don’t believe she knows what 8 P.M. actually is, but she knows where the hands sit when it’s the right time. So that’s superrrr fun with an overtired preschooler(s). Other intellectual discussions occurred while at home, and I continue to try to remember to write down Harper epiphanies, simply because they crack me up. The only one documented so far this month is related to the poor kitten getting her tail slammed in the door. Harper’s response? If she doesn’t have a tail, she will no longer be a cat and she will die. Ummm ok? That sounds a bit rough and dramatic. When asked what she would be instead, Harper looked me square in the eye and levelly answered, well she wouldn’t be a cat. Touche kid, touche.
I have to say, watching winter occur from the confines of my own home is far preferable to being out and about in it, so we timed the impending illnesses well for that. The yard looks so beautifully white and undisturbed, mostly because the girls hack up a lung when out in the cold for any amount of time. That and they have no desire to be out there until they feel better, other than for the occasional bundled up four wheeler ride, which is met with just as much excitement so far this year as last. Craig and I are back on the mend and the girls seem to have crushed the fevers, with the cough letting up for the most part. I am really hoping for bedtime to smooth out a little, because triple coughing children after ten days is rough on the sanity, for both the kids and the parents.
I am way behind on providing updates on our current every day lives and I fully blame the crazy work deadlines that the last month have held for the job I’m covering. So let’s go backwards a little, to the end of August, when I started writing this blog right after the girls’ shift to the pre-K classroom at school.
We started out the school year in typical fashion- the first week meant the stomach flu for all three kiddos, each about a day apart, and an ear infection for Harper. On Friday Emerie made it a whole 20 minutes at school before getting the phone call that she was throwing up again. While the puking derailed our plans to visit the fair later that day, the decent weather the following day ultimately worked out for a better overall visit. And I’m happy to say that both parents managed to avoid the stomach flu, which was greatly appreciated!
After sitting in the eternal, never moving line of cars waiting to park at the fair, we opted to bring the rolling wagon with us and stop at a few of the easy booths right inside the door. The girls sat on top of the big, stuffed moose and took a photo with it, munched on some fancy donuts on a stick, and didn’t immediately run off into the abyss of people. We went to the rides pretty early into our visit, presuming the excitement might make grumpy preschoolers appear before we were ready to be done for the day.
I wasn’t sure what rides everyone would like to go on, since Reagan and Emerie are often timid on a lot of things, while Harper usually sticks to her wild side and the great need for speed. The first ride of the day was a roller coaster, because why not go big to start. We hadn’t walked over to the younger kid rights at that point, and just went for it. Craig and I both went on with them; side note- I definitely forgot how hard it is to fit my knees behind a kid roller coaster seat! Emerie insistently opted to ride behind me and all by herself, while Harper and Reagan each plopped down with an adult. All three shrieked in excitement and actually loved it; even Miss Independent Em. But I will say, the second roller coaster did not meet that same sentiment for Reagan, who hid in Papa Cliff’s lap for all the loops and refused to go on any more coasters for the rest of the day. The favorite rides for the day turned out to be the airplane spinning rides and the construction truck driving; all went multiple times. We finished out all the rides with the big slide in the sky, and then did everyone really wants to do at the fair…EAT. So much food, and in usual fashion the girls wanted french fries. I enjoyed a delicious turkey leg with Grandma Sue, since the girls wouldn’t touch it. Surprisingly enough, they all liked William’s crab fritters and wanted more of that!
The favorite purchase of the day for me was the girls getting Alaska Chick hoodies in their colors (which are huge and put away for this winter). If you asked them what their favorite thing was, I imagine everyone would respond the super cool butterfly wings they wore the rest of the visit. They attached to their shoulders and wrists and resulted in three, happy girls running through the crowd as butterflies. Did I mention this made them so much easier to spot as well? And of course, adorable. I’m happy to say the day sits in the good memories and successful activities side of my brain, and I’m glad we made the effort to go.
We finished out the busy weekend by going berry picking in Whittier, which is now going to be an annual family event, or so I hope. Anchorage weather was very crummy this year; once we trekked through the tunnel and into Whittier, the sun was out and the weather just gorgeous. We spent the afternoon picking blueberries and playing along the water, the kids heaping and hollering about the dead fish in the water. It turned out to be a great day.
Later in the month we went on a family hike to Thunderbird Falls, which is maaaaaybe a mile total, and ends on an overlook to the waterfall. Reagan and Harper took to it much better than their sister, who kept asking when we were going to turn back and go home, insisted on holding an adult’s hand pretty much the entire length of the trip. In fact, she seemed quite nervous to explore and walk through the mud or up or down the hills, but some of this is likely attributed to her post surgery eye situation. We climbed down to the water on the way back and all the kids enjoyed throwing sticks and rocks into the water and trying to climb up and explore steep hills. It was another unusually beautiful day, but we had to leave Anchorage to see the actual sunlight.
Another fall favorite activity, something we’ve missed since the girls were 18 months old, is the annual Trick or Treat in the Heat event. The past two years canceled due to COVID, meaning this year’s event was met with excitement and a ton of people, and on a decent weather day! I stashed a few new costumes in the closet in anticipation of an outdoor event that wasn’t freezing cold and luckily this year only required long sleeves and pants underneath- I don’t think I heard one complaint about being cold. Mind you, there were about five million complaints of being tired, feet hurting, wanting to eat a snack or piece of candy, but not for being cold.
The fighting was minimal on who wore which costume, and just like last year, everyone switched out on colors (for the most part). Harper was Tinkerbell, including fancy wings, a headband and a butterfly wand; Reagan was a flamingo, which included an adorable flamingo head hat and polka dots; and Emerie was…any guesses?? Of course, Emerie opted to be Elsa for the third year in a row. A new style of dress, but still Elsa (thanks Costco!).
We did a LOT of walking that evening, and eventually made it home with bags of candy and picked up some pizza to sit down and eat. Excluding the whininess, I think it went pretty well, but next year we should definitely bring the wagon to avoid the overly tired, woah-is-me attitudes that were shared the second half of the evening. Luckily neighborhood trick-or-treat is not quite so extensive, and the dark usually helps push the kiddos to wanting to head back home.
After a little over a month of new pre-kindergarden school activities and crafts, I already see incredible improvement in the girls coloring and writing skills. In fact, Reagan has already written her own name, without tracing any letters, and it proudly displays on the wall at school that shows the classroom lettering crafts. All three really enjoy tracing books now and do a great job following the lettering. They also constantly ask for white paper, meaning paper with nothing to color, so they can expand their ideas without any distractions. Needless to say, we go through a lot of paper. The other day Reagan looked at me and said, “do I look like a crazy maniac?! No! I draw within the lines!” when I asked her about her coloring. Silly girl. We’ve also seen the first little people drawings from Reagan, which I am SO excited about. They are all head and legs and it’s adorably cute- now she is starting to tell you which people they are and draw scenery around them. We definitely have an artist in the family! Harper continues to draw rainbows on everything and Emerie is more willing to sit and color now, than in previous months.
Many discussions now center around, what letter does this word start with? What letter does THIS word start with? And you pretty much have to explain every letter start in the English alphabet. And we are only on letter “e” at school so far! All three know what their names start with, what Craig and my name starts with- Reagan keeps asking me why both our names start with an “r”. Such questions. They are also very defensive about sharing “their” letter with others, and seem to think they own it, similar to how they act with their pink, purple and teal color associations. For letter “e” show and tell, Emerie informed me her sisters didn’t need to attend the day, since it was her letter and her day.
Each day brings a new randomly taught skill. One Friday they came home and quoted me the entire pledge of allegiance, all three of them! They informed us afterwards that they do it at school a lot; it’s cute to see them repeat words that have absolutely no meaning to them yet. Other days they are questioning which side is right and which is left, and can now pick up the correct foot or arm if you ask.
In addition to letters and writing, basic math is just around the corner. Many car rides home from school involve how many fingers is this and then this? What is this hand and this hand…is it ten? These types of questions are the very foundation of math and I can’t believe it’s already starting. They seem to pick it up pretty quickly too, as you talk through the answers.
One morning I caved into the requests and let everyone use the glass markers to create intricate and wild creations on the backdoor. Reagan drew the first people I have seen her attempt and they are completely adorable, with the big heads and bodies and tiny legs and arms. The wild hair seems to indicate that maybe they are drawing Grandma Sue, but that has not been confirmed to date. Harper continues to enjoy making dozens of rainbows on everything she draws. This also reminds me she had a little too much creativity when one of our mountain art designs from the wall was set down on a table and within reach. I fully planned to blame one of the visiting boys for the writing on it, until I discovered the red letter “H” across the middle…and I don’t think she can deny that one and get away with it…
One night after school we took the girls to get fancy nails. In normal color fashion, all three selected shades of their colors (after talking Harper out of the sparkle one that wouldn’t show very well) and proceeded to entertain much of the salon as their hands and feet were beautified. Harper was last to go and did a great job waiting patiently, while Reagan and Emerie could barely contain themselves sitting for their turn and wiggled all over the place. Emerie continues to be the wiggle worm of the three for these types of activities, and hilariously laughed when they filed her toe nails, as if it was the most hilarious thing in the world. Harper sat like a statue for her turn, watching the beautification process with appreciation. It’s fun to start doing these types of things now, as long as you bring lots of snacks and don’t wait too long to go.
And to round out our busy lives and much overdue update, is Harper’s latest life quote, with the words… this is difficult! Everything is difficult!It’s difficult! And there you have it folks, an accurate, one phrase depiction of current life events in the Douglas household. Good thing they are so adorably cute… here is one of my favorite photos from this fall, captured by yours truly on an afternoon excursion (ahem photo op) to the park by our house.
The end of summer daycare closure inspired me to take the kids on an out of town adventure and give Craig one night and two days of working and relaxing in complete peace and quiet. Of course, I am not ready for a solo overnight trip with the kids yet, so Grandma Sue came up from Juneau to keep me company (and keep us all sane).
We got ready for the day, picked grandma up at the loading ramp at the airport, trekked over to harass State Trooper HQs and say goodbye to Daddy, and eventually loaded up into Craig’s Expedition, toting a lot of snacks, lunches packed by the girls, and backup clothes, stuffed animals and blankets.
Unlike our prior visit to the Kenai Peninsula, the girls actually napped on the drive down. Reagan drifted off to sleep by the time we hit the highway and Emerie not long after, while Harper spent more than 30 minutes chewing every little piece of food before succumbing to the sleepiness around the Portage Glacier pull-off.
We only needed one pit stop for the drive down, where we walked the boardwalk along the Kenai River, searched for big, wild mushrooms and other plants and berries, and checked out the shoreline. A nice lady took a photo of us just as the rain picked up again and we dashed back to the car.
The first night was actually quite mellow, with the girls content to play with toys at the house and color while the adults relaxed from the busy day. I wasn’t sure how the night would go, since it’s been about a year since I’ve had a solo night with the kids, when Craig traveled to Juneau last summer for a work trip. Since we’ve traveled to Becky’s before and it’s a familiar location, sleeping overnight seem to be much easier of an accomplishment than it is when we are at home. Becky read a fun bedtime story that distracted them enough from the thought Dad wasn’t there, and all three stretched out across the twin mattress with the second mattress pull out next to it, providing just enough space for everyone to shift around without awaking anyone. Other than a few moments of fussiness when each took a turn and then fell back asleep, the night went off without a hitch!
By the next morning I could already tell that the trip would be easier than our visit in June, unknowing that the girls would definitely prove their increased maturity by the end of the morning. After breakfast with Miss Becky and getting ready for the day, we loaded up into the car, anticipating a day trip to Homer. Of course by now I should be skilled at rolling with the unplanned surprises, and this day proved to be no different. As we pulled up to the first light after leaving Becky’s house, right as you enter Soldotna, and lightly hitting the break in anticipation of the red light before us, the back end of the whole vehicle slid out from behind us, almost like we hit a big patch of black ice and lost control. I fully admit I know nothing about the workings of or repairs needed for cars, and Craig is always great about keeping our maintained as needed for each season, and in that moment I immediately knew something was wrong.
With kids in the car I am far more paranoid of things happening, whether that’s checking if the other direction actually stopped at their red light before I go or to play it safe during a snow event, so on went the blinker and I eased into the left hand turn lane to pull into the O’Reilly’s service shop along the side of the road. Hitting the breaks a second time to wait to turn, the issue repeated itself. I couldn’t have more perfectly timed a major car malfunction than at a traffic light with an O’Reilly’s on one side and a Midas Auto Shop on the other; thank heavens it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, like we were for most of the prior day’s drive down.
Grandma Sue, in her infinite wisdom, came out of the shop with an older gentleman, who kindly agreed to drive the car across the street to the Midas to see if he could pinpoint the issue, since our unskilled look at the back tires was fruitless. We unloaded the girls and they trekked across the parking lot to Fred Meyer, where the mid-morning excitement apparently inspired starvation and the need for a fancy Starbucks fruit drink while he drove across the street, noting something was definitely off and making it unsafe to drive.
Long story short, the whole thing still makes me chuckle. The kind folk at Midas determined the bolt holding the rear suspension together not only came loose, but fell out altogether; hence the feeling of the back sliding out of control. When I chatted with them on the phone later that day after that revelation, they noted the Expedition was unfit to drive until the part was found and installed, and that they didn’t recommend me taking it in that condition, NOT that I wanted to. The entire morning ended up working out relatively seamlessly, thanks to Becky, who bailed us out, helped me uninstall and reinstall three car seats into her SUV, and then hitched a ride back to her house so we could take the girls to the park.
Needless to say, we did not make it to Homer that day, but we did have fun exploring a fabulous park along the river and walking all the boardwalks. The park was huge and Alaska themed, with whale tales and construction equipment and beautiful artwork along the climbers. All three were off exploring and shouting to one another at new spots were discovered and in true park visit style, everyone had a long turn on the swings and a bathroom visit. After a bit we walked down toward the boardwalk, pausing at each access point to the river to look at anything of interest, such as real life fisherman, seagulls (Emerie still calls them eagles!), rocks in the water and my personal favorite, the fact that a red apple was floating along the shoreline at random, which was far more interesting to the girls than anything else.
About a dozen or so fisherman were out as we walked along and the girls enjoyed pausing to see what each person was doing, standing out in the water. One nice group said they had caught a good number the day before, during the rainstorm we drove down in, and the current day was a bit slower but still a success. A nice gentleman brought their catch up so the girls could firsthand see it and poke the eye balls (sigh) to see if they were squishy. Next summer’s set netting adventure is almost a year away and I already can’t wait to go with them!
As we turned around to retrace our steps and grab some lunch, that same nice guy hollered up from the shoreline that one of his buddies caught one on his line. The girls leaned over the railing and watched him real it in, pull the hook out of the mouth, whack the sucker and hang it up with the rest of his catches. Emerie hollered a couple times she could see blood and all three watched the whole process with good interest. This was almost as exciting as seeing that damn red apple bobbing against the shoreline.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out at Becky’s, playing inside and out and filling a lot of tiny buckets with lake water out on the dock. Craig and William drove my car down after work that evening, with the plans to at least be able to get the girls back to Anchorage while the Expedition was fixed.
Lucky enough, Craig’s awesome cousin Jamie was able to swap vehicles with us so we could cram into her Suburban and do the day trip to Homer, much to my excitement. It took us a bit to get down there, between bathroom breaks, rainstorms, and installation of car seats, but we finally made it and it was so worth it. The girls immediately took to the beach adventure and the rain held out for the visit. Grandma picked up anything of interest and explained things to the girls while they collected pretty rocks and shells and splashed around.
We visit two beaches that day, first Bishop’s Beach as the tide rolled in and then walking along the spit through a few shops and watching all three collect dozens of shells and treasures. Emerie enjoyed finding feathers mixed into her shell collection, especially the big ones. Fearless Harper picked up the seaweed and other sufficiently wet things to show us. Reagan managed to immediately overflow her boots following William to the sand dunes before they re-submerged, which she eventually overcame to enjoy the sights.
At some point too many collectibles meant the hoodies came off and became bags tied around waists. Shell collection was certainly the highlight of the day. At one point our minions adamantly demanded Grandma walk out into the waves to select a specific shell, a couple of feet out. Under no circumstance were they going to take no for an answer. Little did they know that Grandma smartened up to this concept and packed her pockets with some shells that “she picked up” out there and handed off to unsuspecting and excited littles.
We definitely could have spent a weekend exploring the town, which I haven’t visited in so long and was much overdue to go to, but as the rain started back up we decided to head back to Sterling for Becky’s amazing brisket dinner, which we were super late for from the day’s adventure (and tasted as amazing as ever!). The Kenai Peninsula Fair was still going strong as we pulled up to Nikiski, so we took the opportunity and stopped for face painting (Mom, Dad and Grandma included), an ice cream treat and of course, a horse ride for each. Everyone wanted full unicorn faces, with each kiddo in her own color and with glitter. Craig received a brown bear on his cheek while I did a triple flower and Grandma Sue a fancy fireweed.
All three were happy to do a horse ride and climb into the saddles without too much assistance. The petting zoo part was also still open, with some young animals to love that were out of the rain. The girls all asked the nice lady with the two-day-old baby chickens a bunch of questions (as if we didn’t have baby chicks two months ago!) and learned that they hatch from eggs she had in a nearby carrier. That concept was quite interesting for all three and they asked a lot of questions. The other big hit was the three-legged goat, which Reagan excitedly told a couple of people about and continued to discuss on the way home. Very impactful stuff.
We managed to cram a family breakfast in before heading back home for the weekend, with Jaren and Savaya and Tyler joining us. I am loving having family only a few hours away and we were very blessed that the car situation was so manageable with a little help!
It was a great weekend overall. Excluding the car issue, the trip didn’t feel very stressful and all three were very well behaved and enthusiastic for every adventure we attempted. Each trip gets a bit easier and I find it so refreshing to get the new life perspective one only gets when leaving your house for a few days. It took about a week to get the part and fix Craig’s car; luckily the issue was relatively simplistic and therefore, not overly expensive, and the girls took it all in stride.
Now I’m ready for fall and another out of town adventure in the cold, fresh air. Bring on September!