Last fall we started looking and preparing for the next bedroom upgrade, from toddler beds to kid beds. A whole five minutes ago we were in three, tiny cribs and popping in and out all night long to keep them there. The girls live in the high percentage for height and while their toddler beds looked huge in comparison to their little bodies when they were three and a half, now they stretch out and their feet nearly hit the bottom rail.
Completing the next bedroom upgrade has proved to be a saga in our triplet led life. After looking around locally and finding no options, I began the online shopping for a more customized triple bunk bed with storage. I scanned a number of different models and types; deciding three vertically stacked was too high up for my comfort level, and probably the bedroom ceiling, and that two directly above a big one would result in some head bonking. So two above and one below made the most sense for the room size and for more open floor space for bookshelves or other kiddo activities.
After careful review I eventually selected two twin mattresses on the top at a ninety degree angle and a full bed below one of the twins. Top access included a kid sized stairway on one side, decked out with great storage access and drawers, and the other top bunk had a ladder and open space below it. Three, large drawers also fit under the full mattress. Measurements indicated the new furniture would take up most of their bedroom and leave little space for anything else, but that’s what a bedroom is for…right?!
Here is where it gets more interesting. Wayfair does indeed ship to Alaska, but wanted $750 to do just that. Instead, I shipped the selected merchandise to Aunt Tami and Uncle Jeff in California, which only took a couple of days after ordering (doesn’t that sound nice!). Then Papa Cliff picked up the three big boxes, loaded them in his truck and trailer, and hauled it up the Alcan Highway to get it here a little while after Christmas. Knowing it would take a bit to get it here, I ordered during Black Friday sales, even though we weren’t planning on assembling it for a few more months. Once Papa Cliff dropped it off, it sat for two more months in the family room as we pushed the girls to sleep in their beds overnight, which Harper and Emerie did a great job with and Reagan is still a work in progress. During the month of March we made this a competition to see who would end up getting which spot, knowing that no matter what, they would all fight and argue where ever they ended up and we needed to somehow avoid that drama.
Harper and Emerie were both up for the challenge, noting pretty early on they both wanted a top bunk. Reagan claimed the same, but also reminds me that she will sleep in Mom and Dad’s bed forever because she doesn’t want to sleep in her bed. To her credit, at least she is honest! Reagan acquired the big, full bottom bed by process of elimination and while she scoffed at the decision being made for her, I think she will like having all the extra space. She also commented that the bigger bed was better for her because she has the most stuffies; at least, she sleeps with the most, like four pandas, a bunny, an abominable snowman, a huge hamster, sometimes a doll, and many other things. The parents’ made the call which kid would go in each top bunk, and planned for Emerie to use the staircase and railing, due to ensuring her safety at night without her glasses on, while Harper could use the ladder. Harper also gets out of her bed the least overnight, so it makes sense she will have the ladder access.
This weekend Craig and I ran to midtown and picked up three mattresses at Mattress Ranch. At home we searched for the bed directions and of course that was in the final box we opened, after combing through all the pieces. I took the grandmas and girls to dance and gymnastics while he organized everything and discovered the box with all the bed slats was filled with mold and much of the woodwork was not salvageable. In addition, a number of the pieces were labeled incorrectly or not at all, and we were missing a whole bag of screws. All in all, it’s quite impressive that Craig was even able to understand and comprehend directions with missing pieces and get it built.
We figured out the mattresses purchased earlier in the day were going to be too tall for Harper to safely sleep against the rails and defy gravity. Before calling it a day we ran back to the store and swapped them all out for a shorter version, and set up the full sized bed. Knowing that all the upper bed slats were moldy and unusable, we had the girls sleep horizontally on the bottom bed for the first night, which is how we did it at Becky’s house last summer and while in Juneau. Little did we know the lower mattresses would also allow the girls to just barely stand up straight and not hit the ceiling. That won’t be the case in another month; and I’m guessing we will see the tears from it until they remember to crouch down.
Who knew it would be so fun to leave the top bunks open. Once the side stairs were assembled and attached, the room briefly became a trampoline park full of giggling five-year-olds. Thank goodness most of the bottom bed slats touched the floor; we did have to fix a few broken ones before completing the entire task the next day.
Once Craig found replacement screws and purchased lumber to make more slats, the girls were beyond excited for this project to be done already. Grandma Sue and I took the girls to pick out new sheets and massive Frozen pillows and then assembled the sleeping quarters with the final touches, including a lot of stuffed animals, sheets and princess comforters.
I was surprised that the first real night of the new bed setup provided some emotion for me; I did not expect it. It feels as though our baby era is really over and we now have three beautiful, little girls, climbing up into their big girl beds and somewhat sleeping through the night (well two out of three isn’t terrible). It is very surreal and feels like yesterday we were in bringing them home to cribs and later toddler beds. My Facebook memories this week reminded me they had their first bath five years ago this week in the NICU, and I still can’t comprehend so much has happened so quickly! I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this advancement, but if you can depend on anything, it’s that time will continue to pass. And after the wildness and excitement of the first night passed, everyone settled in and eventually went to sleep. Reagan was the only one that insisted she missed the old bed and wanted it back; Harper and Emerie seem quite pleased with their new spots. And no, Reagan did not sleep through the first two nights in there!
Now that a couple of days have passed, we’ve seen some blood (Harper flipping over the stair railing and landing on her chin), stubbed toes, some fighting and jealousy over personal spaces, and continually excited tiny humans. The room feels very different and more mature, but otherwise not much in our day to day has changed other than my realization that my babies are continuing to grow up!
Once again, it’s time for the contrasting and comparison between the girls during age four. It’s been quite the busy year, and one that is much more back to normal post COVID, which has been wonderful. Timing wise the girls are much easier to handle, meaning we can do more things and be a bit more “normal”, or at least survive doing normal things without required extra hands. It was very hard to narrow down my favorite “triple photos,” as I call them, over the past 365 days. There are so many! I settled on this collage after unsuccessfully narrowing the count below three, and all are taken with beautiful nature back drops and big smiles; photos that highlight the personalities of my three little ladies during daily life adventures.
I’ve already blocked out half the things we accomplished or attended last year, so here is an overview of the highlights that my mom brain can remember as I write this out.
Age 4 Changes
Age four had less significant changes than age three, but mentionables nevertheless. It was our best year of sleep so far in the journey of parenting, with both Emerie and Harper trading off doing very well sleeping overnight in their toddler beds. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was great sleep, but definitely an improvement from years where the bar to improve started very low. More recently we created a healthy sibling competition, with the current prize whoever sleeps in their bed the most gets to choose their spot in the “big girl bunk beds,” and so far Harper is winning by a landslide, with Emerie in tow, and Reagan only two nights in her bed for the entire month of March.
New Preschool Class
Last August the girls aged up into the four year old preschool class at school. Initially they were quite dismayed at this required change, not wanting to leave their daily routine in beloved Miss Tawni’s class. The transition went quite well and we didn’t lose school naps from it- and over six months later, they still adore their previous teacher, and their current one. It’s very sweet. They are also almost all the way through the alphabet, love show and tell highlighting a letter each week, and getting to do crafts and play in the gym. While they haven’t said it in quite a while, I know they are also looking forward to playground time after the snow melts…whenever that actually happens.
First Remembered Airplane Trip!
As you all know, the whole family packed up and boarded the skies to Juneau for a work trip for Craig and I, and the girls did great during the whole experience. This is actually the second time the girls boarded a plane, with the last time around at fourteen months old, and under way more duress. This time around showed us that a longer trip might be doable this summer and to a farther distance, now that we don’t (usually) have to worry about them darting into traffic or getting completely lost when we blink. It is also wonderful to be out of the stroller phase and not need to lug that everywhere we go; before long we won’t even need to lug the car seats.
The girls are already asking for another trip, and while most this summer will be closer to home overnights, such as Homer, Seward, maybe even Fairbanks; it’s nice to know we can plan for another big adventure and both parents will survive it.
Sickness No Longer Equals the End of the World
This might sound silly to include in this list, but in reality, is a complete game changer. Prior to age four I dreaded every time a cough or sniffle started in the household, knowing that meant a week or two of very little sleep or relaxation was right around the corner. This past year the girls had RSV twice, a number of colds and coughs and ear infections, and while that still sucked, it wasn’t nearly as awful to make it through each one as the toddler stage. You can now tell the level of sickness by their willingness to sit and relax and watch movies, something short lived at younger ages.
Out of Town Sans Dad
This was a milestone for me- when Grandma Sue and I packed up the kiddos and trekked down to Kenai last summer and left Craig at home to finish the work week. This had to happen at some point, and while I was anxious that my tiny humans would freak out and want Craig toward bedtime, they were so worn out by all the excitement that is ultimately went fine!
That was also one of the first times we’ve been in the compromising position of a car breakdown while out of town, and are still so thankful that all of it played out safety and it didn’t ruin the experience, or the car!
Fairs and Festivals
It is a major accomplishment that we can now attend and ENJOY fairs and other outdoor, summer events. We opted out of the busy fair experience until this age, knowing it would be quite a long and stimulating day, and not wanting to be miserable throughout it or missing nap time. The girls loved their first Alaska Fair experience and we will certainly enjoy it again next year. We also accidentally attended the annual fair in Ninilchik and while the weather was cold and rainy, the face painting and fun made up for it.
Earlier in the summer we ventured to the valley for the Scottish Highland Games, and it was the first time we went somewhere unplanned and spent more than six hours exploring, eating and checking out the sights. Harper especially enjoyed watching the dance routines while Emerie and Reagan were more there for the treats. Everyone was quite a hit in their kilts and it was a gorgeous (hot!) day of sun.
Smoother, less routine schedules ended up as one of the biggest and best improvements across the past year. We were so regimented and inflexible from the newborn stage to the middle of age four, simply because it was the only way to survive each day. Even after dropping naps, quiet time in the afternoon was helpful but mornings could play out without as much planning, and being out and about during the day for activities became so much easier. I remember thinking we’d never survive the days once we lost nap time, and looking back, staying on schedule allowed us to make it through the tough toddler phase.
New Life Skills
While accomplishments on the parenting side waned a bit this year, it was huge for the girls. All three continue to improve their handwriting and color skills, which occur daily; all three love glue stick crafts and using kid scissors. Last summer Harper and Reagan learned to pedal bike on big girl bikes (Emerie opted out and continued with her balance bike, her choice!), and can now decently steer their kid four wheelers. All three fight over who gets to use the tv remote and demand Alexa pause the movies for them during potty breaks.
Other skills include dressing themselves, especially in dress up gear, telling detailed stories, and proudly declaring when they unbuckle a car seat without help. They also clear dishes off the table, clean up the room after demands, brush their own teeth.
Age four saw a range of new animals joining the family. Craig brought eight baby chickens home last summer, seven who are still with us and providing eggs, and the girls experienced their growth and development throughout. Amazingly we had no accidental casualties from the girls stepping or smashing them, and while they are much less exciting now, the girls do enjoy feeding them upon occasion.
We also experienced death for the first time with Rafi, he received a flower burial that the girls will tell you all about, and don’t forget he now lives in heaven. Then we acquired a new kitten and she later gave us three unplanned kittens! The girls learned to be gentle with them and now walk around and play with lone Winston. That’s a few too many new animals in one year for my taste…
More Cousin Time
I am enjoying the trend of more family moving close by- last fall this meant that cousins Corbin and Elliot returned to the Alaska life after several years in Washington, and now I have a glimmer of insight into what quads are like, with Elliot the same age as the girls. The girls love to play at their house and it’s a nice break for Craig and I to have another hang out location, especially after the years of COVID, when people didn’t open up their houses for visitors, and certainly not for the triplet tornado. I should also say it’s nice to have Aunt Jenny AND my brother here too…but it’s really for the kids, right?
Cousins time on the Douglas side is also welcomed and the girls love Tyler visits, when Jaren and Savaya pop in for a hello, and when Chatum comes up to visit.
About the Girls – Age 4
This year Harper has really come into her own style. She is a fashionista, rocking all kinds of dresses but especially anything in black or pink, is a swing queen and can tower high above her sisters on the swing set, still has the need for speed on her training wheel bicycle, and knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to demand it. She loves having curly hair from we braids, putting on pretend makeup, and playing “mom and dads” with her sisters.
Height/Weight: 45 pounds, 45″ tall – she gained 7.4 pounds and grew 3″ in a year!
Favorite Activities: playing dress up and getting fancy. Lately she is more into coloring and also greatly enjoys gong to her dance and tap class each week.
Favorite Movie/Music/Show: She is a bit more fluid in her requests for television or movies, opting to pick different princesses that fit her mood, like Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana, then Pan or Leap (ballerina movie) and so on. She moved on from the Frozen music obsession and continues to adore Toward the Sun by Rihanna, from the soundtrack Home.
Favorite Princess/Character: When asked her favorite, she claims it is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. This is likely because she is dressed in pink, as she greatly likes Rapunzel and Elsa also.
Favorite Color: pink, then black, and then orange, are her continued favorites.
Favorite Food: When asked, Harper’s immediate response was “candy.” Considering she liked sweets the least of the three as toddlers, she clearly got over that thought. After more discussion, she agreed she loves black olives, chicken nuggets, tater tots and french fries. I think her favorite food is actually ketchup.
Favorite Animal: Lately she is on a bunny kick, but also adores (all) her stuffed seals and her puppy dogs.
When Harper grows up, she wants to be: A ballerina is her most common answer.
Unique Personality Trait: Harper is our glitter and grease girl. She LOVES to be dressed up and fancy, almost constantly, but isn’t afraid to get dirty outside, in the kitchen, or out and about.
Major Dislikes: Harper’s dislikes are very similar to the list from age three, such as wearing anything other than dresses and that pants in general are the bane of her existence. She also dislikes being patient and slow, wanting to do things fast whenever she can, and getting frustrated when she can’t do something easily.
Of the Three, She is the Most: Social. She is happy to play with other kids the most, and doesn’t seem to love playing independently like either of her sisters. She’s definitely a social butterfly.
Favorite Quotes:I’m NEVER going to ….. or You’re NEVER going to let me …. for the rest of eternity. Dramatic much?
Emerie continues to be our ray of sunshine; she loves to learn new skills, collect and carry around tiny things, and spend time at home, which is her happy place. She loves to pretend nap, getting a bed all set up with her stuffies and “sleeping” with all the shades closed. She also enjoys scrolling through books and snuggling up on the couch. Gymnastics is proving to be a great activity for her and she constantly asks what day we go next. She doesn’t let daily patching hold her back from anything and remains a good sport about wearing it each day, which is huge! She had one eye surgery this past year and is now on her longest stint ever between doctor visits.
Height/Weight: 38.2 pounds, 43.5″ tall – she gained 4 pounds and grew 2.25″ in a year!
Favorite Activities: gymnastics, collecting beads and playing restaurant. She often asks how to spell food related words so she can make a menu and deliver you a meal.
Favorite Movie/Music/Show: As I’m sure you guessed, her favorite movie remains both Frozens, and not Encanto! She is also re-upping her love for Pan (Rapunzel) and the corresponding television series, Tangled Adventures. As far as music, Let It Go continues to live on as a daily (sometimes hourly) request, followed by what she calls Bring It In, which is Isabella singing Encanto’s What Else Can I Do.
Favorite Princess/Character: Emerie continues to be an all things Elsa (Frozen) girl, but now has a second character to love, Isabella from Encanto. You might think she’d latch onto the main Encanto character with glasses (Mirabel), but that lasted about five seconds until she saw Isabella’s purple, flowered dress. She is constantly dressed up as one of these two characters when playing at home.
Favorite Color: This remains unchanged from birth- team purple!
Favorite Food: Last year cheese quesadillas topped the list without question, but this year she is completely anti-dilla. Of the three, she has the most opinions about food. She likes macaroni and cheese, or really most pastas, and cheeseburgers (just the patty with cheese) and french fries.
Favorite Animal: Definitely a change from last year, her beloved monkey has retired to live a life confined to her toddler bed, while her “mommy and baby turtle” go to school each day and MUST be in her bed every night. The Mom turtle was a gift from Doctor Winkle before her last surgery, and she picked out the baby turtle at the toy store earlier this winter after a good amount of overnight sleep in her bed.
Unique Personality Trait: Emerie is a great friend. She picks up on other kids feelings and will reach out and offer to play with them. She’s very insightful!
Major Dislikes: Dislikes this year changed a bit from age three. For example, while she strongly dislikes black olives, pizza has grown on her a bit and she enjoys it once a week at school lunch. She also loves her bed compared to last year and is often the first to fall asleep in it each night. Age four dislikes include eye patching, although it’s now a more accepted practice, putting on socks and shoes, and playing outside any time it is cold, which is apparently extreme torture. I think she may just dislike being cold in general.
Of the Three, She is the Most: Stubborn and introverted. If she gets stuck on something, she really gets stuck on it and doesn’t want to back down. She enjoys independent play and will figure out something to do without the need of intervention.
When Emerie grows up, she wants to be: Elsa. This is her answer every single time I’ve asked her this question the past six months, and she is quite set on it.
Favorite Quotes:That’s DIScusting. Another fan favorite is her made up nonsense that one of her sisters kicked me in the face, which she claims quite constantly.
Reagan continues growing as our artsy girl. She adores coloring and crafts and will spend hours working on things. She gets grumpy if I forget any of the masterpieces at school each day- mind you sometimes a whole pile is waiting to come home- and loves to display them on the wall. Reagan is the most talkative of the three and into storytelling about her day. Ask her to tell you a princess story sometime- her depictions and the parts she highlights are completely hilarious. She can also put her hair in a ponytail and is so very proud of her new skill!
Height/Weight: 41.4 pounds, 44″ tall – she gained 4 pounds and grew 2.25″ in a year!
Favorite Activities: Definitely anything related to dresses, dressing up and getting fancy. Her younger days were quite the opposite and she disliked dresses; now it’s all she wants to wear. She also enjoys pretend play and is always asking her sisters to play swim girls or moms and dads or some kind of animal.
Favorite Movie/Music/Show: Aladdin is the current favorite, although a few other princess movies are sprinkled into to her random requests. Her favorite songs is unchanged from age three, Pink’s Cover Me In Sunshine, and she added two additional songs, You Can’t Stop the Girl by Bebe Rexha (from Maleficient), and Speechless, Jasmine’s song from the live action Aladdin.
Favorite Princess/Character: Reagan’s favorite princess is currently Jasmine from Aladdin, ever since watching the live action film, and is completely obsessed with her. Coincidentally, she is also dressed teal, her designated color. Another favorite character is Maleficent from the Sleeping Beauty story, which may seem a bit scary, but is very near and dear to her heart.
Favorite Color: Teal most of the time; once in a while blue or white.
Favorite Food: Right now maraschino cherries are her number one request, followed by cucumbers and ranch. She also answered she likes broccoli, chicken nuggets, mayonnaise sandwiches.
Favorite Animal: This is also unchanged from age three, and you will see pandas all over the house, and about six of them in her bed every night, ranging from teenie-tiny to decent size.
Unique Personality Trait: She loves to break out into song at random times throughout the day, and creates a wave sound with her voice as she serenades quietly to herself. She is the most talkative of the three by far, and can tell you some wicked stories about movies she’s seen or experiences she witness and school. If someone else is hurt, you will find her grabbing a random stuffed animal and sharing it with them to make them feel better; she is very empathetic, unless she has caused the issue!
Major Dislikes: While last year’s hair brushing doesn’t make the list for age four, she continues hating to sleep in her own bed the most of the three, ending up in ours about 90% of the time. She also dislikes wearing tights and shirts and only dresses are acceptable anymore.
Of the Three, She is the Most: Emotional. If one kid is randomly crying or pouting in the corner, she’s probably wearing teal.
When Reagan grows up, she wants to be: Her last answer was a teacher like Miss Tawni, or a painter.
Favorite Quotes:Mom. Mom! I want to tell you about my day. Myyyy day I played with Emie and Harper and had a great day….” It almost always starts with that exact phrase and goes into a long spiel detailing all the things she accomplished at school, getting louder as she gets into it.
Four Year Old FAQs
What are the biggest differences between the three? What are their similarities this year? While all three are definitely into the same types of things, such as princess everything, dress up, playing on bikes and swings and pretend, they all maintain attention on different things a bit. Emerie will sit and play with the Barbie dolls downstairs by herself for a while, while Reagan will sit and color and Harper will wander off with her baby doll. Reagan picks up newfound skills the quickest and with the least effort, while Harper gets flustered before putting in much effort. Emerie takes a bit longer to gain a new skill and you can see her kind methodically thinking out how it all works.
What is the biggest personality difference? Emerie loves to be at home more than anywhere we go, even to places she likes. I think she is like me in that way. Reagan is more like Grandma Sue and Craig and is the talker of the three; always with something to say! Harper is a social butterfly and always wants to play with friends, not so much on her own.
Who is now the best sleeper? Who is the worst? While this varied a bit throughout the year, Harper and Emerie traded places on best sleeper for much of the summer and fall, at least until we hit RSV season and coughing stressed them enough to wake them up. Reagan will continue to win the red lantern award for sleep, with no plans to stay in her bed. In fact, she constantly reminds me that she should be allowed to permanently sleep in my bed, and I should relocate to her room. Such fun. Now that I am tracking who stays in their room overnight, Harper leads by a land slide the past month, with Emerie about half her count, and Reagan a slight miracle if we have a whole night with her out of our bed.
Who is Team Mom and who is Team Dad? I mean realistically, everyone is Team Grandma Sue. Whenever the girls are mad at us, they always holler I want Grandma Sue. They also constantly remind us that Grandma Sue is the boss.
Alliances are pretty consistent from age three to age four. Harper is for the most part Team Mom, unless Dad goes to guys’ night, then she wants him every time. Reagan is completely Team Mom and no longer has one foot in each camp like last year, and Emerie is completely Team Dad, as she reminds me every night with a solace of I want my dad; I miss him.
What was my favorite memory of age four? There are a number to choose from, but I would say my favorite thing was getting out and about and finally taking the kids out of town for some fun. It feels like we are almost normal and can start having fun!
I’m sorry this has been a long one with so much to say! My happy five year olds are excelling and keeping every day interesting- Craig and I are constantly on our toes. Luckily that is nothing new from the past five years.
It seems like yesterday that we had the girls fourth birthday, and yet here we are, a full year later already! As expected, Grandma Sue and I attempted to create three masterpieces for the girls’ birthday cake again this year. Considering I believe last year’s accomplishment was quite grand for turning four, we upped our game for age five and added props. This year’s cakes took a lot of time, but it still felt easier than the prior one, simply because the girls are older now and don’t need as much constant attention so we could prep while they played and “helped.”
A couple days prior I started the flower melted icing molds, opting for pink, purple, teal, pink and white and making a number of sets. I ended up not prepping enough ahead of time and making more in the moment, and Craig added another version of teal at the end. Reagan helped me with a few teal sets and did a great job scooping it into the molds, all by herself.
Prior to Sue’s arrival, I quizzed the girls on their preference of princess and questioned their favorites to plan party decorations. Given that they all have their own preferences, it makes it impossible to theme just one doll or one color. I can’t quite tell if they made their choices based on the designated life theme colors, or if Aurora, Rapunzel (Pan) and Jasmine really are the favorites. Either way, by the time we purchased everything to begin the task, Emerie insisted she wanted Elsa and not Rapunzel, which she did not get!
Sue spent a good afternoon making the cake stacks for the main part of each dress. We ended up using a small bunt cake pan and a round cake pan and the girls had the pleasure of jamming, and I mean jamming, the dolls into the partial holes. I volunteered to cut the feet off each to fit better, but Sue wouldn’t let me…you know…that might bring up those traumatic life memories of poor Gecko the chicken last year, when he lost his head and then he lost his feet. No, we didn’t shove him in a cake….but tough times remember by all!
Reagan and Emerie went to school on Friday while Harper stayed home a second day with a high fever that diagnosed as an ear infection. Because of that, only she participated in cake decorating, as you will see by looking at Aurora versus the other two. I worked the morning while Sue prepped everything, rolled out the marshmallow fondant, and together we molded the icing over the cake cutouts. Usually you get better with practice and time right? I would say we progressively did worse throughout the six hour cake extravaganza, but mostly because the fondant seemed stickier with each attempt. Each dress had two overlaid layers and as it dripped or stretched from gravity, we reevaluated which side was the front. We added the doll after cutting out the middle hole of both layers and found we required another layer around her waist, since the dolls were about a half inch too tall (told you we should have chopped feet off!), and then used flowers to cover it.
Aurora turned out the most smoothest, and Rapunzel’s flowers covered her imperfections, which included a few random melts on her backside, to cover up the icing tearing. Jasmine’s fondant was the most difficult and resulted in an entire flower front to cover the dreadful imperfections we couldn’t undo. And those gold outlines? Those are unicorn horn sprinkles and stars, which worked great with Jasmine’s teal look. We initially tried to stick all the decorations using icing, which worked okay, but found it more efficient using a small paint brush and water and painting the dresses to restick to them.
In the end Harper decided Rapunzel was more decked out than Aurora, which was true after I added the pearl beading down the back, so she sat next to me on the table and added the bling for over an hour, while I finished the other two.
We completed the look by adding pink, purple and teal fondant to the chocolate (for Harper) and vanilla (for Emerie and Reagan) cupcakes and used the remaining flowers and leaves to finish each with a treat on top. We also learned our lesson from last year and put icing under the big cakes so they wouldn’t slide during the car ride over. Well, not completely learned our lesson, since we forgot until cake number two to actually secure it down. The cupcakes around the dolls are meant to be the train of the dresses and colors inter-weaved with one another. Overall I think it turned out quite well, even with the random holes and fronts covered in flowers.
5th Birthday Party Success
It was a busy two days of preparation for the big day. Prior to having kids, I always looked in disbelief at how much parents went all out for kid birthday parties, thinking I’d never make that much effort for a day. And yet here we are, making six+ hour cakes, ordering party bag goodies, birthday balloon bouqets, ordering party dresses, and going through all the motions. I also believe because the girls have to share their birthday for their entire lives, it’s only fair to at least make some effort to make it fun and everyone feel special. I mean, we only have eighteen birthdays with them in our household and each one should count!
Craig, Grandma Sue and Grandma Anne took all three to get fancy fingernails a couple hours before the party, while I finished up a few last preparations. Everyone returned with flowers on each finger, Grandma Sue a pretty teal color, and Craig completely decked out fingers to toes, very likely with colors chosen by each kid.
Birthday party number five left our previous covid-era parties in the dust. Over the past three years, we slowly increased the attendee list throughout our apocalyptic life experience (not sure if that reference is from covid or raising toddler triplets); age two was a family only party since the city shutdown on their birthday, their third birthday at the jump park allowed everyone to mostly separate but still celebrate, and their fourth birthday at the Alaska Club play center was a complete success of friends and loved ones- the girls still talk about it a year later. My end headcount for this year was 26 kids, plus our three birthday beauties, and a lot of adults and family enjoying fun (and noise?). We opted out of inviting the entire preschool class and let the girls choose the attendee list, snagging a class list after school one day and letting them choose. The list was mostly girls, sprinkled with a couple of boys, and Emerie insisted that my boyfriend Jude HAS to come. Talking to his mom at the party, Jude commented recently that not only are the kiddos dating, but Emerie informed him- not asked- that they would also be getting married. A girl that knows what she wants.
I ordered customized twirl dresses specifically for the party, and while they didn’t exactly align with the cakes, they matched the theme of princesses in general. The Sleeping Beauty dress wasn’t up to par, so I went with Harper’s second favorite color black, in the form of Anna from Frozen. Emerie was excited to see hers was Elsa, after wanting the cake changed to her preference and being told no. Reagan’s Jasmine dress is my favorite, with ruffles and super twirly.
In true triplet fashion, I held my breath up to the last second that someone would be sick and unable to enjoy the party, or something else would come up to cause issues. Harper was starting to feel better from her ear medicine and we would find out later that Reagan had one too and started feeling crummy. We miss so many things, especially in the winter, that relate to fevers, coughs and colds. On the drive over to the party I realized no one grabbed the candles off the counter and called Papa Cliff to pick some up, and as I unloaded the three at the Alaska Club, on super icy parking lot conditions, I grabbed the balloon bouquet and turned around to Reagan puking all over the ground. Another mom across the lot came over to see if she could help, and we managed to make it into the building. And to Reagan’s credit, she didn’t get a drop on her brand new dress. Great job little girl. After getting cleaned up by Grandma, she seemed to feel just fine and for the most part enjoyed playing at the party.
The kids ran around for a good ninety minutes in the play place, goofed off and played with cousins Tyler and Chatum and started ball pit wars, and snacked on Grandma Sue’s vegetable pizza and vege-platter. I also saw blurs of cousins Corbin and Elliot running and climbing, and finally put faces with names of their classmates and kids the girls talk about on the drive home each day. I caught Reagan snuggling with Aunt Janelle a few times, all three checked in and were thrilled to see Miss Tawni, Isabelle let Emerie borrow her Elsa wig to match her dress, Harper was a blur as she circled the play area over and over with her friends, and everyone lined up for a turn with the pinata, which made it through all the younger kids without breaking.
Cupcake time and singing created three blushing girls; also three girls that really wanted to eat their princess cakes, not a cupcake. Unfortunately for them, those cakes were to be saved for their actual birthday and in Seward. We ended up not making the trek down to the peninsula due to bad road conditions on the way down, so the cakes are still sitting on the counter.
All in all, great turnout. All three had similar answers on their favorite party moments, and all agreed Tyler coming was the biggest highlight, followed by Miss Tawni’s visit and presents. I’m pretty sure if we ask them in a six months what their favorite part of their fifth birthday was, it won’t be their awesome cakes OR presents- it will be the fact that Tyler attended and played with them. It’s sweet how much they love their cousin! The chaos of present opening in the moment meant we have no idea who brought what or for who….so we went through everything in the living room later and the girls especially liked the princess keurig coffee maker, the bath time crayons, Aunt Jenny’s mermaid swimsuits, and the fancy tutu dresses from Aunt Janelle and Paris, that immediately went to Tyler for a dress change mid-party.
I will save the official fifth birthday kid update for the next blog, with all the details of how my girls have grown and matured over the past 365 days.
Last week we released two of the three kittens (Wallace and Winnie) to go spend their lives at the cousins’ house. At the last minute we switched up which kitten would stay with us, much to the dismay of Harper, opting to keep one of the orange boys and letting the black haired beauty go. Winston is the kid cuddler of the group and sleeps next to Rory, our poor adult cat whose life was ruined by the arrival of new family mates (his words, not mine?!). Some nights I also find him cuddled with a kiddo in their bed, or on the pillow next to Reagan, who is almost always in our bed at some point through the night. All the kittens tolerated the preschool torture pretty well for the most part; it wasn’t uncommon for me to find one wrapped in a blanket, sitting in a doll stroller or bed, or snuggled in a blanket and “going shopping” with a kiddo, until they found a way to escape.
The first night without Wallace and Winnie involved tears and anxious kiddos that “their” kittens were gone forever!!I’ll just NEVER see the baby kitties again. So very dramatic yes, even after constant reminders that we can visit whenever we see cousins. Harper is still upset, after about a week, that we gave Winnie away. The following day we brought dinner out and both kittens immediately came out to greet not only Craig and I, but also the girls! It’s good to know we raised them right….and they can handle kid chaos and loud noise…right?!
On the actual kid front, instead of just #kittenlife, the girls are finally over the two week cough and back into routine after our Juneau trip. They continue to share new personality traits, some more wonderful than others. For example, the latest insult to one another is no longer I’m not inviting you to my birthday, as it was last year. Now it is I’m not going to marry you, with a tongue sticking out and extreme attitude seeping toward one another. After a kiss the other night, Reagan told me that meant I married her, because kisses mean marriage, Mom, and you just married me! And to top that off, several times I’ve caught Emerie yelling the f-word, correctly mind you, but also muttering it under her breath, like stop f-ing doing that. I wonder where she learned that from hahaha…. Emerie also had an epiphany the other day on the word burger, explaining that her pronunciation sounds the same as her saying booger. Mom, like the boogers in your nose; they sound like a burger! Everyone is picking up so much more about the English language in their already excellent vocal skills.
All three are really getting into their drawings, numbers and letters. Reagan has almost all her letters memorized and helps her sisters learn theirs; she likes to draw them when instructed how to spell words. She has her name down and enjoys signing all her artwork. Her customized letter “R” still has the adorable circle with two lines dangling from it and is about the cutest letter I’ve ever seen. Harper is picking the alphabet up really quickly as well, but is much better at writing it if she sees it visually, which is my learning style too. She stresses over spelling her name out correctly and often replaces the “a” with the “e”, but is getting better by the day. She colored and made a fan at school last week and was thrilled to bring it home and model it. The next day all three had fans in their backpacks- coincidence? I think not. So far Emerie is the least interested in her letters and lacks the focus on writing and learning them, but every once in a while gets on a tangent and you HAVE to answer all letter requests immediately so she can write out words. She is still a bit unsure writing her own name, but is also improving, telling us she has lots of “e’s.” She has greatly improved on her numbers over the last month too, and can piece the whole train numbering puzzle together without any help, a big improvement from earlier this winter.
As you will see in the photo below, we are working on learning important words in the English vocabulary, such as french fries, tea, and how to write out the whole family’s name. “S” was the letter of the week at school two weeks ago and the girls all fought over bringing Grandma Sue’s picture for Friday show and tell. This past week was letter “T”, and a photo of Tyler was shared. They asked to bring him in person, but settled with bringing a photo. Good thing we have lots of family that has lots of different letter starts, so they pick them up easily and associate the letter with their names.
Our living room is now more of an art studio- i.e. Reagan discovered how to use scotch tape. She constantly brings home five to ten pictures from every school day and runs around the room, taping them up in different places so we can see them. Harper mostly adds her designs to the side of the fridge, and Emerie forcefully demands Craig puts them in his office.
Last week was a busy, out of the office week for me with a convention, so for girls’ night in (and Dad’s night out) I slacked and bought everyone happy meals from McDonalds. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve created the more fun (and healthy) charcuterie boards for the night, and when I commented that at school pickup, Harper and Reagan informed me I should make the goody boards and then you should leave and go to Shiloh’s for dinner, so we can havegirls night with dad. Emerie disagreed with that suggestion, commenting I should leave and go to Jessie’s house instead, but definitely leave so Dad could join. What the f children?! No love.
And now, can you believe in only two more weeks my tiny humans will be five years old?! I surely can’t believe it ❤
Craig and I had an epiphany a few weeks ago, and decided to make a scheduled work trip into a full family trip to Juneau, with the girls spending day times with Grandma Sue, Auntie Amanda and Papa Lon while we both went into the office each day.
The house was filled with excitement, unsurprisingly, at the thought of 1) riding on an airplane; 2) going to the mysterious Juneau; and 3) seeing Grandma Sue’s house. In fact, over the past year these children continued to call us out about the lack of visiting the infamous Juneau, a detail that is problematic according to all three and cause for complaining.
Our household somehow made it through the entire month of January without catching any significant illnesses, which is a first in our journey of having children. January’s are typically sleepless, full of coughing fits and/or puking and of course darkness due to the dead of winter- all such lovely memories. Healthiness was very welcomed, as I’ve been working late every night for much of this winter, even canceled my rotating Friday off schedule (that I’ve worked for a decade) to accommodate more hours, and have definitely had a fear that something would take the whole family down for a week or more, like the RSV bout in November.
Of course, several days before our trip a new cough started with Emerie, and after a few days she felt better but Harper and Reagan presented symptoms. Luckily it wasn’t significant enough to cancel our plans, and off we went toward adventure! It would turn out that the girls would cough our entire trip- I even have one home from school today as I finish writing this from it- silver lining was when they were calm or sitting (such as on a plane), then one couldn’t even tell they had a cough at all.
We managed to fit the whole family’s clothes and toiletries into two suitcases on the way down, bringing also a carry on suitcase with the important essentials like Reagan’s stuffed pandas (all three), Emerie’s turtle from Dr. Winkle and its baby turtle as well as her purple blanket, and of course Harper’s spotted seal and puppy dog, and then packed an additional tote stocked with winter boots, snow gear and some toys for downtime entertainment at home. In true girly style, several dress-up dresses and the princess heels made the cut, so everyone could strut their stuff at Grandma’s house.
All three rocked matching cupcake themed dresses, Frozen princess coats and grey flower boots for the flight down; excited to show Grandma their outfits on arrival. Emerie demanded to wear her summer sunhat, you know, for all that sun we expected to see over the week in Juneau…
Anchorage received another snow dump the night before our trip, but nothing significant enough to affect airport operations and our flight schedule. With the heavy snow loads this year, we no longer bat an eye at six inches of accumulation; I’m not sure how I really feel about that, but at least it is beautiful out. What a year to enjoy that as a kid! We loaded everything into Craig’s expedition first thing in the morning, including three, folded car seats from my SUV. I dropped him curbside with everything but our kitchen sink, then parked and walked inside with the kids. They complained about the cold and snow as we descended the parking garage, and were instantly excited to see the escalator stairways going down and back up to the ticket counters. Needless to say, the airport is a pretty fun place (I know I am slightly biased but I’m not wrong!). Check in was simple, probably because Craig handled it all while the girls climbed around on the metal carts, a huge difference from our prior experience with Alaska Airlines booking our tickets incorrectly, and by the time we lined up for TSA, Emerie was already insisting she had to pee. Sounds about right.
They pestered the TSA agent with questions, including why everyone everything needed to go into separate bins and shoe removal. The girls were bummed they didn’t get to do the X-ray machine, but that rage vanished as moving airplanes and the snowplow crew came into view in the sterile area.
We rode the horizontal walking escalators a couple times before settling at the windows to wait for boarding. Reagan kept walking backwards on it and enjoyed going the opposite direction, even as we called her back. Of the three, she definitely seems to be the most stressed at the concept of traveling; I also expected Emerie to ask to go home immediately like she usually does. Harper and Emerie counted the parked Alaska Airline jets on the apron and others taxiing for take-off. A few stopped and then raced down the runway to go airborne, prompting everyone to ask a bunch of questions when one 747 cargo plane didn’t immediately start its ascent down the runway, listening to my response they were waiting for the”green light” from the tower controllers to proceed.
We boarded the plane, with the girls quite the hit walking down the aisle toward the back of the full plane. We all sat in one row, and after Reagan refused the window seat, let the lady sit by it instead of in the middle of our family. Reagan and I sat on one side and Craig took the aisle opposite, with Emerie in the middle and Harper looking out her window.
Ultimately it was an uneventful and smooth flight, much to my happiness. The girls were slightly nervous when speeding down the runway as the terminal sped by, and hollered quite loudly we are flying!! once we left the ground. Passengers around us had a good chuckle. Reagan held my arm until we were over the inlet, and then happily watched Aladdin the rest of the ride while the other two watched Monsters Inc.
Harper enjoyed looking out the window at the mountains for the first few minutes before deciding it was way too bright out with the sunlight over the clouds. Since it’s only about a 75 minute flight, we didn’t break out the real snacks and gave each the bag of pretzels. While Reagan snacked on some, she mostly used them to create letters on her tray table. We did learn that preschool sippy cups do pressurize in the air. I perfectly timed my restroom break during this realization, when Reagan went for a drink of juice and it shot all over her and the three unsuspecting passengers sitting a row back.
During the flight, all three undoubtedly had to see the tiny bathrooms, and practically made it back to their seats before either parent could push the flush button, as that was terrifying. And as I predicted, about ten minutes from landing and after one, in-flight relief, Emerie announced a pee emergency- for the record she survived AND didn’t have an accident.
Eventually rental cars were selected, car seats installed (by Craig) in Grandma Sue’s rig, and luggage picked up, and we were off like a herd of turtles for our Juneau adventure.
Each night the girls co-slept next to one another in Grandma’s guest room and then whoever fought the longest was able to sleep next to Craig. It became quite the debate and cause for consternation, until everyone had their turn to snuggle. Overall they all slept quite well, other than their never ending coughs, and didn’t have a night-night nummy (melatonin sliver) even once for the week, which we definitely relied on during past vacations. Only one night Harper wandered out to the couch to spend the rest of the night next to me.
Day 2 – Valentine’s Day!
I still chuckle that my advisory board work trip corresponded with the holiday of love. While Craig and I had a long work day, the girls had a fun filled day with Grandma Sue, Auntie Manda and Papa Cliff. They conned the adults into some good treats (probably more than we even know at this point!), extensively played with pink balloons, and sported their heart boutique dresses I lugged down from Anchorage. They rocked new beaded necklaces and “purses” from Papa Cliff and Grandma Sue attempted heart hairstyles. Everyone decorated heart shaped sugar cookies with sprinkles and licked the sprinkles and icing off a cookie afterwards. The unlicked cookies circulated both the DPS and DOT offices.
During the day the girls ran around town with Grandma and Amanda, made custom cards and drawings for Mom, Dad and grandparents, and dressed up as princesses. They snuggled with Papa Lon and watched some television, once the coughing increased. It was pretty much like a standard weekend day at home. We went to Bull Winkles for dinner, where the girls ate absolutely nothing Craig ordered. And the pizza was pretty good! They did enjoy the arcade games, where we watched them win first place on the motorcycle racing, quite impressive. Who knew they could steer so well?! The girls also demanded to watch Lion King with Amanda later that night.
Day 3– Clearly going south wasn’t going to equal warmer or less snowy weather, with slushy precipitation falling almost the entire visit. Enough accumulation allowed the girls to make a fancy snowman, and Sue to text me she was teaching the girls how to use spray paint. By nightfall it was melted into a pile of spray paint slop, and the girls called it a flat snowman. Everyone “helped” Papa Lon plow the driveway on the four wheeler, like they do with Craig at home.
With the advisory board meeting taking up my entire work day as well as the entire evening, it was great to know the girls were out having fun with family and keeping their grandparents on their toes! The house wasn’t even on fire by the time I made it home and all kids were fast asleep, not that I harbored any doubt of Grandma Sue’s abilities!
Day 4 – I don’t have a lot to report on this fun day, except that “fun” might not be the descriptive word Craig would use for his day. Grandma and Amanda brought the girls downtown to visit Daddy at work and then headed to lunch. About halfway through my work lunch I received a text from Craig that Reagan puked the contents of her stomach all over him after a cough; getting almost nothing on herself. Luckily Sue and Amanda were able to handle cleanup and kiddos in the moment, and keep any other lunch goers from turning too green in the process.
We enjoyed a deer roast for dinner that night that Lon hunted earlier this winter, with potatoes, veggies and rolls. Emerie scarfed down two servings immediately while her sisters took a bit more convincing. It was delicious!
Day 5 – I took a few hours of leave on Friday in attempts to take the girls to the beach with Grandma and Auntie Manda. Mother Nature didn’t receive the memo and we saw continuous, slushy snow the entire morning and temperatures hovering around freezing. After a Costco run the girls continued coloring at the table and watching movies inside. Their coloring creativity continues to expand and it’s cute to see the little people, animals and flowers that emerge on paper. Harper makes a really cute sunflower! We never made it to the beach, and will have to table that adventure for our next, more summery visit.
We did hit up a couple stores around town to burn some time, and managed to get ourselves immediately kicked out of the only kid play area in town. The lady claimed the girls were coughing too much; but if she had given them five minutes to settle in, they would have calmed down and been fine. Instead she followed them around with sanitary spray and then demanded we leave. Amanda and I took them around the other mall and let them look through a couple knick-knack stores to burn some time. They conned me into purchasing bunny ear headbands in their colors, some kid jewelry (such as the tiara Harper wore the rest of the visit), pretend paper money and click together markers (that were really cool!). After walking out of the first store, Emerie instructed us to wait, Mom, I have to say goodbye to my husbands, turned, and hugged all the mannequins. So random!
Also random, walking down the freezer aisle at Three Bears, we met the aunt of one of the local triplet sets in Juneau that we’ve never met before. It really is a small world; this is the second time this month I’ve met a new triplet family member randomly at the store!
After painting a custom picture at Papa Cliff’s house later in the afternoon, we enjoyed family dinner with cousin Chatum and Auntie Salena. Much to my happiness, Sue made my favorite chicken fried steak, green beans and potatoes, and the kids ran around wreaking havoc.
On the flight home we switched up the seating chart, with me at the window, Emerie in the middle next to an older gentleman who talked about Frozen and Elsa with her, and Craig on the aisle with Harper and Reagan next to him. While the girls asked several times over the week when we would go home, they wished to stay with Grandma when we arrived at the airport. Even with the laid back schedule and crummy weather, they know she makes everything fun and exciting and they greatly enjoy her visits.
We ended the flight with Emerie’s announcement she had to poop, but not before I jotted down some of her ridiculous questions throughout the trip:
When does this plane go upside down?
Are we going to land on the water?
When are we done driving on the clouds?
Where are the clouds? (as we were flying in them)
Why is that light on (the fasten seat belt sign)? I don’t like it; turn it off.
The girls slept nearly twelve hours on the first night at home, indicating their level of travel exhaustion. It was a great trip and easier than our adventures last year. Not lugging around strollers, a diaper bag and diapers, not to mention easier scheduling without needing to fit naps in each afternoon, made the whole trip much more simplistic. The new headphones were a hit, in their colors of course, so everyone could watch a movie on our iPads. It’s a blessing that they sit that long now, and the plane ride went by pretty quickly because of it. I also learned I should pack more snacks; they didn’t eat any on the way down, but our afternoon flight on the way back, cleared out the whole bag. If it was a longer flight, I would definitely need more.