Kickin Off the Summer

The Douglas household was fully embracing summer by the middle of May. A little optimistic, maybe, but also a nice break from the dreary and cold winter and spring. Harper’s obsession of shorts and dresses has passed to the other two and everyone now strongly demands such attire each day, regardless of the weather outlook. Fancy dresses were worn during gardening and throughout the long, sunny weekend.

The neighborhood will often witness three princesses biking down the street, in full-length princess dresses, heels (although they are learning heels are hard to bike in!) and bike helmets. Harper led the charge on the peddle bikes and training wheels and had the process completely down in about two days. For the most part her understanding of breaking is learned, other than when stressing down a “big” hill, freaking out and slamming into a curb. Reagan was right behind her and picked up the peddling a few days later. Her stuffed panda is mandatory for all rides. Emerie has no desire to climb on the bigger bike and races around her sisters on the pink balance bike. Occasionally Reagan will opt to ride hers and fly down the street with her legs out, balancing! We plan to let Emerie decide when she wants to transition to peddles, especially considering her balance is still off a bit from her recent surgery.

In addition to the almost daily neighborhood bike rides, we are back to the constant water play. With dandelions in bloom, custom versions of dandelion soup and tea are the hits of the house. Every time you turn around you find dandelion parts, water, and flower petals. The girls designed some great food off the fallen petals on the floor of Bells Nursery this week. And those are free! A number of bouquet deliveries have also occurred and I can confidently say that our lot has no growing dandelions at the moment.

Another really cute moment during a bike ride last week; Emerie found a field of seeding dandelions on a nearby neighbor’s lot and abandoned her bike to collect them. By the time we caught up to her, she was hollering she found a bunch of wishes! So cute.

Reagan already mastered the art of swinging and while she knows how to do it, she still wants to be pushed sometimes. Harper and Emerie study their sister’s new skill and are starting to do it themselves too. New types of swings continue to pop up on our property thanks to Craig’s creativity and we now have a front tire swing and normal swing, and three regular swings, a trapeze bar and a fancy sun seat in the backyard. This week the girls all learned how to do a back flip holding the trapeze and are so thrilled to show it to everyone.

The Douglas family is also growing again (calm down, not THAT) with the arrival of baby chicks. As shouted at me when arriving home from work to them, we got Easter eggs! We briefly tried adopting some last year but quickly learned the girls weren’t quite ready to be gentle with them (and I might have threatened Craig’s life if we kept them). This time around is going much better. Craig told me he showed all three how to gently help the babies drink water while I was at work; Emerie’s first attempt was more like a shove-the-entire-chick-into-the-water type of “help,” but she will learn. Reagan and Harper are quite gentle with them but enjoy petting their heads more than feeling the scaly feet on their hands. A few have definitely tried to learn to fly in the moment from getting thrown by a stressed out preschooler; none of them have died yet either! When asked what everyone is named, the quick consensus was all names starting with ballerina (Ballerina Emerie, Ballerina Harper, Ballerina Grandma, Ballerina Tyler) or Ling-Fong. Yes, we will work on better names as they get bigger.

We are almost three weeks out from Emerie’s surgery and her eye is straightening nicely. Unfortunately this improvement is tied to a very droopy left eyelid (like her first procedure) and now that she’s a bit older, she has more opinions on it and tells people her eye is closed or that it won’t stay open. She asks to go to Dr. Winkle to fix it too. Her patching and wearing of glasses continues to be a daily battle; she is such a trooper while patched and distracted with an activity and while a bit less balanced, still works really hard to do everything her sisters do while wearing it. I’m thoroughly impressed at how well she handles her wobbles and continues having fun and try to give her credit and praise when it goes well.

A few more girls nights have occurred over the past month and I feel as though they are getting easier to navigate by myself. Maybe it’s because we are getting into a groove; more likely it’s due to the yummy food and ability to chow down on dinner with a movie in the living room, which we don’t do any other time. This week elevated temperatures resulted in a granted ice cream request to kick off girls night before dinner, and went really well.

The three day daycare closure and holiday weekend meant a solid six days with the kiddos home. While exhausting and very stimulating, the girls slept in later than normal due to efforts to tire them out all day, no naps and direct sun beaming down through most activities. Reagan even slept until 9:30 one morning! I’m guessing a growth spurt is right around the corner.

The majority of Memorial Day weekend was spent outside with lots of adventuring and activities. We played at the beach (an Alaskan beach with dry, cold sand!), played with the water slide and pool in the back yard, ran the sprinkler, destroyed the back deck with smashed orso balls, shopped for and planted flowers and vegetables, had play dates with friends, went to the park, explored Saturday market carnival rides, and so much more. The girls continue to be fearless and went down a three tiered slide for the first time. Emerie bonked her forehead on the second trip down and was less than impressed and Megan nearly broke her leg (again) at the same time. Everyone loved the carousel and boasted big smiles throughout several rides. All five kiddos joined Megan on a spinning apple ride and no tears or screaming occurred, much to my surprise. It is very likely all three will be fans of fair rides in the future and that state fair this year will probably cause us bankruptcy; here I was thinking they’d be nervous or hesitant (well Emerie and Reagan anyway- Harper has always had a need for speed!).

Now that summer is here, a few trips are in the planning stages and I look forward to trekking to a couple other towns on the road system this summer. I will certainly have three extremely tanned and super blonde girls in tow for most of it…and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans we get into.

Eye Spy

The latest in the saga of eye appointments; we opted to take all three at once for their annual eye check. Harper and Reagan haven’t had a check in about a year while Emerie sees her beloved Doctor Winkle every few months.

Everyone was overly excited to go visit Dr. Winkle and not go straight to school in the morning. Harper even brought him a custom colored picture, but was shy to hand it to him. Emerie hung out like it was a normal appointment and held still for her pre-op check like a pro.

Harper and Reagan fought the dilation drops to the death, resulting in Craig and I both holding them down while the nurse snuck a drop in each side. As Harper received hers, Reagan tried to hide behind the equipment as to “escape” her turn. Luckily Emerie didn’t require them on this visit, since she gets really great eye checks while unconscious and under the knife.

We are happy to report that both girls received good news, with no signs of any cataracts in their eyes, and that by now since no anomalies have appeared, they are in the clear. This also tells us that Emerie’s pediatric issue is not genetic; rather it is likely environmental, and happened specifically to her and not her siblings sometime during early development.

Today we went to the surgery center for Emerie’s third Botox procedure- the first successfully aligned her eye for a few months and the second didn’t seem to help so much; we are hoping this third one will!

As usual, Emerie dressed up in her fancy Tangled Princess nighty specifically for her time with Dr. Winkle. She insisted on wearing it throughout all the pre-op checks and didn’t don the gown until after he came in to say hello and mark the correct eye. At this point she was also completely loopy and shy.

She conned the charge nurse into additional fanciness and several “fall risk” bright yellow bracelets on her arm and leg and a blanket for her stuffed animal.

The grape flavored versed was gobbled down and immediately took affect, prompting her irritation once again that she couldn’t grab the images off her book pages. She loudly screamed and disrupted the entire room at the sight of a beach ball on one page. This is always my favorite part of the process. By the time they whisked her away on the rolling bed, she was completely chill with her monkey and just going for a ride. I forget how much easier this process is now that she’s older and been through it a handful of times. Watching the other toddlers in the room today; Emerie is definitely a pro and takes it all in stride. She even cooperated on the finger oxygen tracker, much more than usual, and was flying it around as a helicopter and making me try it on.

Chillin and reading a book

Today’s procedure was the same Botox injection into her eye muscle, which is less invasive than cutting it to adjust its elasticity, in hopes of straightening out the eye. This procedure is our last ditch effort before we go back to more invasive and there’s no way to guess which way it’ll end up. If it does straighten the eye, then we will do it again later this fall. The effects usually wear off by about three months.

I barely sat down in the waiting room before Dr. Winkle came through the doors and was completely done! He noted that a bit more of the “magic dust” was mixed today to try to be more effective and I entirely plan on telling her he gave her magic fairy dust in her sleep! Such a quick procedure meant no IV and only has gas anesthesia.

Of course, afterwards the first thing she always wants is a popsicle and some juice. The nurse received strict instructions beforehand that she wanted a purple popsicle and her second choice of flavor was also purple (this kid I tell you!). She came out of the anesthesia perfectly and after her snack, insisted she wanted to go home.

The rest of the day has been uneventful and full of a loopy but happy Emerie Faye.

Thanks for all the prayers! Let’s hope this one works!

Back to the Botox

In the latest saga of Emerie’s eye surgeries, here we are again today, up for another minor Botox procedure at the surgery center with Doctor Winkle. When we last did this procedure last summer, it helped realign her eye from trending inward and avoided a more invasive (i.e. cutting) surgery that builds scar tissue each time we have to do it. The hope today is that the botox injection will encourage her brain to straighten the eye on its own.

Now that she is a bit older and more understanding of things around her, Emerie recognizes when sisters go to school and she goes to the doctor and is not upset about seeing the beloved Doctor Winkle. Emerie talked Craig into bringing him a fresh donut at her last pre-op appointment and is always happy to go. In fact, Harper and Reagan are often disappointed they don’t get to visit him and ask when they can go.

COVID rules continue to limit how many adults can go back per kid (one) so I took Em this morning while Craig took the other two to preschool. As we drove past the building with Dr. Winkle’s office, she questioned if we were actually going to see him or not. After a little Frozen movie screening while I filled out the loads of paperwork, we were back in pre-op where she changed into the hospital gown, reluctantly put on the bright yellow hospital socks, and dressed her stuffed animals in the hair net that under no circumstance was going willingly on her head. After the Versed kicked in I enjoyed watching my daughter try to grab the colors out of the Hungry Caterpillar book and decided I would choose a better topic for the next visit. I mean, depriving a kiddo of food and drink prior to surgery means I shouldn’t bring a book alll about food, right?!

The whole procedure took only 30 minutes or so. By the time I sat down, pulled out my iPad and drank some coffee in the waiting room, the doctor was done and giving me an update. Everything went great, and unlike last time, he opted for gassed anesthesia to keep her under- meaning she didn’t have to ventilate or get poked with an IV like all the previous surgeries. This meant less time and a less grumpy kiddo waking up. Since needling the muscle is minimally invasive and only takes a couple minutes, it was much appreciated.

She was snuggled up and still asleep when I made it back to post-op- one minute she was still out and the next sitting up and asking the nurse for a popsicle. After said popsicle was devoured and two apple juices consumed, I convinced her getting dressed was a good idea and we were on our way home.

All in all, everything went smoothly and I’m glad to have made it through another of these without any hiccups! She is already back to her normal self, amid a red and mildly droopy eye, and running around the house wearing a Tangled costume and ballet slippers.

Thanks for all the prayers! ❤

3.5 Year Update!

The second half of summer kept us very busy, between the impending allergies and ear infections and all the outdoor adventures to be had! I’ve put the “pen to paper” less than I wanted to document some of the excitement, but managed to remember a few things that might bring a chuckle or two. As we round into fall and the impending winter, getting outside as much as possible is on the high priority list, among other things like dance, bike riding and lots and lots of Frozen II and Beauty and the Beast.

The girls are using their new found abilities to make our lives more interesting, especially as they figure out how to do more things independently. Every other moment of the day seems to produce requests (demands) for adult assistance, help open something, turn the music up, turn down the music, find a snack, retrieve a stolen toy, and on and on. One often turns around to find someone digging in the refrigerator, or helping themselves to that candy on the counter by way of a dining room chair, or trying to “help” you complete a chore like emptying the dishwasher or getting silverware out for dinner. Many days the girls will insist on buckling into their car seat and refuse help, even after major dawdling and getting sidetracked or distracted by every little thing. Reagan definitely has the buckling down; it is clear she will continue to excel at these types of skills as she grows and show her sisters how to do them. The other day she zipped up her coat on her own and now demonstrates the new skill to her sisters. In fact, we often find her assisting Harper and Emerie when they ask for help and it’s incredibly sweet. Then there’s Emerie, who climbed into the driver’s seat after pickup one day, sat down and instructed me to sit in her car seat because, well, I drive us home. We had quite the epic argument when I told her to get into the back.

This month’s major discovery involved the recognition that television personality Alexa can and will listen to their requests and start a show for them. After discovery a new movie download on Amazon Video by unsupervised remote clicking, parental controls and pin numbers are now connected to anything credit card related. There are definitely some digital perks that can go the opposite direction when it comes to kiddos and you never think about them until they happen.

New activities these days relate to riding scooters and balance bikes, checking out the new-to-us kid sized four-wheelers, coloring as much as possible and becoming professional blanket fort builders. In very rare form, one evening we even had a fifteen minute break from the usual toddler wars for all three to create a blanket fort under one of the doll strollers, with pillows and stuffed animals and many giggles arising from the blankets. All three playing together, in close proximity, ends in tears and/or fighting 99% of the time; that fifteen minutes, completely inspired by them with unassisted construction, was truly a cute sister moment.

While Craig and I continue to track down kid-sized four wheelers (two down, one to go!), I will admit the girls are still hesitant to drive them, all opting to allow Kaden to chauffeur or ride on Daddy’s wheeler. We hope by next summer they will be ready to tackle the solo art of driving and steering…you know…for a four year old.

We took an impromptu four-wheel trip one afternoon to Eklutna, a beautiful spot about 45 minutes from our house, that I used to camp at or fly into as a kid. For one of our first “let’s just go for it” activities with the girls, it went great! We loaded up for a good nap on the way, with everyone ready to hit the short trail to the lake after a post-nap snack. The whole afternoon went surprisingly smoothly and it felt wonderful to do something normal and unplanned as a family, getting out and about in the gorgeous fall weather. Other less motor driven adventures, such as berry picking and wood exploration, also top the list of great and inexpensive activities and result in delicious blueberry pies and tired toddlers.

Neighborhood balance bike adventures are another popular household past time; the exciting part equals that some treks go wonderful and others result in full meltdowns in the middle of the street. Harper is by far the rock star on this activity; it’s hard to keep caught up on a walk. By next summer I believe she will be riding a real bike, without training wheels, since she already speeds down the road and holds her legs up to balance. Emerie is much more resistant to riding the bikes but generally joins in on the fun, and Reagan can almost keep up with Harper if she really tries, but appears a little more timid than her daredevil, speedy sister.

Goofy attitudes emerge on a daily basis and I try to capture as many of the entertaining moments as I can, since they seem to vanish from my short term memory so quickly (I blame mom brain). Each drive home carom daycare brings a sample of entertainment and I never guess what topics might emerge. Sometimes they want to dye daddy’s hair yellow, or they need to find daddy some necklaces, or provide strict instructions such as mom, no dancing in the car. You can only dance at 11 o’clock. Mom! No singing either, singing is only in 20 minutes. Always very specific instructions, discussed between the three of them, albeit not always well thought out.

Lately Emerie sings a song with the days of the week, which is super cute right? Well she has something against Thursday and fully disagrees that it should be included in her melodies. You will hear her humming to herself and break out with Sunday, Monday, Tuuuesday, Wednesday, Friiiiiday! Any correction is met with Mom I not like Thursday.

The latest, randomly complicated request involves Mom, I want the fever! The fever Mom! Now most folks won’t understand this odd request, especially during pandemic days when NO ONE wants a fever in the house- calm down folks…they are referring to their latest love of all things Ana, Elsa, Olaf and Kristof related, and the short film called Frozen Fever. Fun fact…it isn’t really a short film if played on repeat. The little part of our toddlers’ hearts that fell in love with Wreck It Ralph and Tangled is now replaced with a love for both Frozen movies and “the one with the beast” or “I want to watch Bell,” i.e. Beauty and the Beast. They adore all the Frozen songs, which are played continuously in the car, and have a major fascination with the Beast, who is not nice but learns to be nice– hiding under blankets when he is scary but reminding each other he learns to be nice by the end.

Any guesses what they want to be for Halloween this year?! I bet you can guess.

Other miscellaneous household updates- Emerie’s latest eye check went great. We preemptively took her a bit earlier than scheduled after complaints her bad eye was bothering her. The doc says it appears to be an allergy related irritation and she hasn’t complained much more as the weather turns colder. Now that my little isn’t so little, she’s able to do vision tests by identifying pictures across the room (instead of letters like adults) and she is great at it. While waiting for Dr. Winkle to come in, I asked her about one image she wouldn’t answer, thinking she didn’t know what an old phone from the 50s was. She looked me right in the eye and said it’s a phone. When I responded with how do you know, she said because everybody calls it that, Mom!


Harper, Age 3.5

As we start the second half of age three, the girls all have different quirks that are quite evident. Harper is the doll enthusiast, loves to carry them around, tuck them in and change their clothes, and is by far the girliest of the three. She loves wearing “pretty dresses,” tutus, necklaces, crowns and pretty bows in her hair and wants to be a princess. Some days she proclaims her dress is SO BEAUTIFUL; how can you disagree with that?! Black continues to be her favorite color, although pink is a close second. She’s silly and likes to do things like slam her doll’s head against the metal gate, then grabs her with a awww poor baby, let’s snuggle. Her need for speed continues on everything; running, biking, informing you to drive the car faster, all of it.


Emerie, Age 3.5

Emerie continues to be the builder and loves to make block and train track creations. She also really likes to destroy them and watch them crumble (like Stitch does in Lilo and Stitch!). She enjoys wearing roller skates and is definitely the flexible gymnast and tumbler. She becomes increasingly opinionated everyday and lets her voice be known, especially on things like eye patch choice in the morning, when to wear her glasses, or when she should go to sleep. Her latest obsession is water play, which was perfectly fine over the summer when outside- now we often find her playing with cups in the bathroom and using the floor as her canvas. She belts out several of the Frozen songs with all her heart, and while not on pitch, it is definitely one of her cutest moments. She also loves to sing Patty Cake and knows the whole thing.


Reagan, Age 3.5

Reagan is still our artsy-fartsy one. She now colors within the lines and traces shapes on her own. Having her home most of last week showed her enthusiasm with markers and paint and she did a great job staying entertained while we put in work hours. She is so very proud of her masterpieces and most often wants Papa Lon, Tyler or Papa Cliff to see them. If I don’t bring all the coloring sheets home from school each day, she demands we go get them before we load up. Her second love is playing with kinetic sand and play dough, and you can’t forget about dancing! She also eats any type of muffin, although I believe zucchini mini muffins are her absolute favorite.

Bedtime at this age is proving to be one of the most difficult times each day, with drama playing out each night on cue and equals just as grumpy early risers. The lack of nap time is also causing very overtired littles, who do not want to go to bed, and we are back to the go to bed in their room, end up in ours sleep routine. Not sure how long this will last but I could use a nap.

Harper and Reagan still share height and weight, both coming in at 41.5″ tall and about 35 pounds. Emerie maintains her 31 pounds and is only an inch behind, at 40.5″. That means everyone is in the 99 percentile for height, to no one’s surprise!

Pray the second half of age three is smoother than the first half…although I won’t believe it unless it happens.

Botox Baby

The doctor had an opening to get Emerie in this week for her eye procedure. Earlier is sort of a blessing since it takes away the stress of waiting to schedule and get it over with, but also gives Emerie more time with a more straightened eye.

Surgery was bright and early at the new Surgery Center, with Grandma Anne staying home with the other two for the morning. Emerie was a good sport for everything, including her rapid COVID test accurately called “the lady wants to clean out your boogers.”

COVID rules meant that only one of us could go back into pre and post op and we let her choose…today she was Team Mom. The whole walk back she asked where’s Doctor Winkle and smiled when he arrived.

Now that she is a little older she followed more normal pre surgery things like wearing a hospital gown top, getting clean socks and getting to lay in a blanket on her own hospital bed. One of the pre-op nurses put her hairnet on her monkey and that was exciting! Emerie also sucked down her calming medicine, Versed, without any convincing. She also told her name and both sisters names to the doctors when asked. Middle names included, of course!

The anesthesiologist recommended putting her in a diaper so that no one had to clean up any accidents and that was definitely a good call. Pretty quickly she was back in the OR for her procedure and we hung out in the front waiting room.

After about 45 minutes Dr. Winkle came out and let us know everything went great and he didn’t have to do any cutting on the eye muscles. The Botox allows the muscle to shift how the eye is straightened in an attempt for her brain to catch on and stay that way. He said it is typical for some droopy eyelids and wandering eyeballs to occur over the next month so other than having to keep myself in check at that weirdness, we should be back to normal pretty quick. Hopefully this will improve her eye!

She came out of anesthesia better than her last two surgeries and other than immediately demanding a snuggle under a warm blanket, she was good! After a fifteen minute snooze I opted to take her home and let the rest of it melt off from the comfort of her house.

Thanks everyone for all the prayers. Our brave girl is currently snoring on my lap in her room.