House of Sick

2022 is definitely starting off with a bang, and not exactly a fun one. All three adults managed to pick up pneumonia, likely transmitted through the girls (who didn’t catch it thank goodness!) and to my mom, me and as of this week, Craig. Being down for the count with zero energy the past two weeks means relying on a few friends’ gracious help and sheer will power to keep the household floating! Without some help the past several long weekends would have ended with the house on fire. The delivered meals feel similar to back when the babies were tiny and we got through the first few months in survival mode.

In addition to the sick adults, two of the girls have ear infections and Harper now has the croup, meaning everyone in the entire house is on some form of medication (and it’s not covid yay!). This might be a first! The only bonus with our current sicknesses is that Craig and I spaced ours apart just enough to survive; with my second round of stronger medication kicking in right about the time he started feeling worse and having the major fatigue.

On New Years Day I managed to drag myself to the car and we did a family donut run to Carrs in our pajamas, at negative temperatures! The donut requests started with the girls begging for Grandma Sue’s donuts, which no one was up for accomplishing, and so we drove to the usual local spots that were closed for the day. Everyone enjoyed a frosted donut from Carrs, with Reagan eating the entire sugared one, Emerie eating the top icing and sprinkles off hers like a mouse, and Harper slowly nibbling on all the parts.

Other than this, we haven’t been up to much since the new year started. I thank my lucky stars that this extreme sickness hit our household this year and not last, because the girls have done exceptional at playing at home and entertaining themselves without requiring us to be on our feet and moving the whole time. This, and Megan and Heather’s clans coming over to feed and entertain (thank you friends!).


In addition to all the sickness, we recently made another household change and I feel like I’ve already written a very similar blog to this a year ago when we re-homed our Kalli. Here we are again, doing the same thing for our second dog, Koda, who many of you have loved on and snuggled with over the past five years.

Craig and I mused over this decision the last few months and finally made the call that this is something we can do to ease our stress a little bit, stop the dog versus cat fights that cost a lot of money, and give Koda a better place with more puppy attention, something she deserves! It’s a hard decision to make; ultimately what is best for Koda is a place that can sit and snuggle and love on her, something we seem to do a lot of, just not for her and more for our kiddos. These decisions are never fun.

Our pretty girl

Unlike when we went through this with Kalli, the kids are now a factor in how to play out the situation. Making a big deal of it doesn’t deplete the stress, but neither does a vanishing act with no explanation to the littles that would wonder where she went. We opted for a happy medium of the two, with the explanation that Koda needs to go stay with another “momma that needs help and snuggles” and she is going to have so much fun there! We played it off as something exciting and good for our pup, something she will enjoy and be happy with, and I think it worked! Everyone asked why and thought about it, with Emerie claiming no, she’s my Koda the most of the three. She likes to call our house Koda’s house; when she’s mad at both parents for something, she whines she wants Koda. So we will see how that plays out in future days.

Craig dropped her off at the rescue the other night before picking up the girls from preschool and surprisingly no one questioned where she was- although I think they just didn’t notice. The second night I received more questions about her location and randomly throughout the day Emerie asks where her Koda is, which is sad! I never noticed how often she is mentioned in random conversations the girls have until now, but hopefully that will ease with time and it won’t be a sore spot for them.

The house feels strange without a pup and while Craig and I both feel sad that we had to make this call, it is best for the household going forward. The kitties are already starting to run around and play more freely!

Cheers to the start of a new year, which is relatively rougher than some other year starts. Next thing to solve? Getting everyone, myself included, back to feeling healthy so we can get back to fun adventures and activities.

Hanging onto that Holiday Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Stars

Fancy shoes and dresses!

The preschool Christmas show this week was nestled between my two very grumpy, “potato sack” (flailing toddler) hauling events. I cringed at the thought the Christmas concert might be a total disaster after the previous night’s fits and downright disobedience from all three but was pleasantly surprised with how it went. They didn’t run off stage or totally melt down during their performance of two Christmas songs.

Everyone cooperated with their Christmas dresses, bows, tights and fancy black boots and while rushing out the door, still managed to get a few princess twirls in and declare they were beautiful! I always question why so many sleeveless Christmas dresses exist (since Christmas = winter in my brain), and while these Costco beauties came with soft black shawls, I still added another long sleeve layer to accommodate for the cold.

Of course, we Douglas’ know how to make an entrance, and it must be in their DNA (is that me or Craig?! Great question!). Of course we had the typical like-their-mother-trip-over-the-camera-on-the-walk-to-the-stage moment, as Emerie turned to look at us and toppled right over. No meltdown though; she just popped right back up!

The Ladybugs class, of which 30% is us, was first up and did two songs. More than anything there was nervous rocking, shout outs to parents and grandparents and a few hand motions here and there- of course all very cute. I’m sure their morning rehearsal had more participation, since they weren’t in front of a gym full of people for it! Reagan ended up making faces at the audience and her classmates and hopping in and out on the rehearsed hand motions. After one part that all three felt inspired to participate on, Harper turned to Emerie and covered her mouth with a laugh. The audience seemed to chuckle at that one.

An actual family photo

Each class took turns performing their two songs, with a curtain and superstar switch out in between each. Everyone then gathered on stage for the finale of Joy to the World. Overall, it was one of the first nights that I really felt like a normal parent, sitting kid-less in a row of chairs, able to relax and talk to other parents without kid interruptions, chasing someone or the constant tripleting (which I now believe is very much a real verb!). It felt almost normal, being able to watch my offspring participate with everyone else, so very grown up in their three years, and laugh and take photos like everyone else without the constant chaos. These moment are few and far between since we became parents, some due to less socializing during the pandemic, some because the girls are still pretty young, and some because it seems like every time we try to plan or do something nice, it ends up being a total triplet shit show, and it’s frustrating.

But I’m not complaining (ish). While this has not been a great week, it was a nice and appreciated 45 minutes of actual life enjoyment, and I’ll take what I can get.

Now please pray the girls get out of the funk that picked right back up Saturday morning and that we are able to enjoy some of planned events and activities this month. Because I’ll tell you, my brain is fried from a disastrous preschool pick up followed by another mess of a dance class, and I don’t have enough wine or sanity for this. I will say the general mom public that witnesses the meltdowns and my attempts to haul three rage monsters in the car without completely losing my head (or my mouth) has been pretty supportive, with a few nice strangers sharing encouragement in the heat of the moment and it is much appreciated. Now if only we could stop having these fun events…

Please enjoy this short clip of the mini beasts at their Christmas show, goofing off to the crowd and each other, in true Douglas (Sykes!) style.

Merry Christmas ❤

Thanksgiving Week Wildness

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


Donut Time

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

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

School Luncheon

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

Crazy Kids

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

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

Olaf Bread for the Win

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

Cookie Decorating

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

Putting Up the Tree

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

Thankfulness

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

Outdoor Photo Shoot

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

Surprise Visit!

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

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

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

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

Halloween Weekend

This year’s month of October didn’t exactly go according to plan, with some fun fall activities canceled and a two week quarantine with kiddos. It turns out catching the “rona” toward the beginning of the month meant we didn’t miss all Halloween weekend activities and the girls didn’t miss their classroom party and crafts.

Last minute I ran around town to find big pumpkins we could carve while Papa Cliff was here. Megan, Alyssa and the boys joined us for a fun evening spreading pumpkin guts and seeds all over the dining room and corralling toddlers to smile for a couple photos. Harper “helped” Alyssa carve a cool Olaf design into her pumpkin, Reagan and I worked on a bat together, Craig and Megan finished up Emerie’s and the boy’s designs (when they ran off to play). Emerie preferred coming and going to check out our progress but in no way wanted to help, Reagan was happy to sit on the table to put the pumpkin guts into the bowl IF they were handed to her, while Harper was the only kiddo willing to put her whole arm into the pumpkin and get messy. All in all, every design turned out great and the girls all enjoyed putting the fake lit candles inside.

The weekend festivities continued on Saturday, with the girls excitedly wearing princess dresses to dance class that morning. No one else in their class got that memo and we were the only ones dressed up, which was still cute. Harper did amazing for the entire hour and didn’t wander off a single time, while Emerie and Reagan kept switching out who had to take a break and promise to behave. Dance class is rough each week…

Matching Elsa’s!

After dance we came home and spent a couple hours playing and driving cars and bikes down the street and back, over and over again. The new John Deer tractor from Papa Cliff is well loved and everyone is now steering (more-or-less) down the street, making it a little easier on whatever adult is chasing them. I’m thoroughly impressed at the improvement on steering, and all three now want to try. Earlier in the summer Emerie was very timid about it while Harper wanted to speed and Reagan wanted to just ride with Kaden or sit behind the steering wheel.

Once everyone warmed up from the blustering afternoon, costumes were donned and we ventured over to the girls’ school parking lot for some trunk or treat fun. Everyone chose their own costume, with Emerie and Harper both Elsa from Frozen and Reagan insisting on Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Since it wasn’t the warmest afternoon they all wore color coordinated hats, gloves and warm pants underneath, in true Alaska style. Luckily the sunlight meant they didn’t have to wear coats the whole time! It took them a few minutes to warm up to the idea of walking up to strangers, but eventually they braved it and enjoyed adding new treats into their buckets. I believe the comfortable atmosphere of their school definitely helped them acclimate. We enjoyed hot apple cider (and spilled it all over the picnic table), watched a few minutes of the Peanuts film on the projector in the gym, and hung out with Rapunzel (Paris) and Auntie Janelle, Megan and the boys, and saw a teacher or two.

On Sunday we spent two hours at the local jump park, which we haven’t visited all summer, staying until everyone was demanding to leave and didn’t want to exhaust any more energy running around. The afternoon was again spent playing on bikes and toy cars, coloring and playing with trains, until it was time to neighborhood trick or treat. Pap Cliff stopped by and then Cousin Tyler, Emily, and Uncle Will joined us, walking around the neighborhood for over an hour with the girls. We had FOUR beautiful princesses with us, including Aurora (Reagan), Frozen’s Anna (Harper) and two beautiful Cinderellas (Emerie and good sport Cousin Tyler).

After a bit the girls were mostly willing to go up to the front doors with Tyler encouraging them on, with the sibling battle of whoever gets there first has the distinguished honor of ringing the doorbell. Our poor neighbors definitely received multiple rings as the adults caught up but no one was snarky about it in the least. One house Emerie ran smack-dab into a driveway reflector and Reagan, resulting in lots of candy on the ground while kid number three kept on running to push the beloved doorbell. It was hilarious. By the end of the hour, the girls were losing steam and ready to head back home. Buckets were overflowing with candy and those poor toddlers insisted we had to carry them all the way back home. Everyone enjoyed a piece (or three) of candy at the kitchen table and immediately fell asleep in their beds afterwards, before Craig even finished reading a bedtime book.

When asked earlier in the week who Craig should be for Halloween, Harper insisted dad needed to be Cinderella and mom Olaf with a carrot on my nose. At that moment she wanted Emerie and Reagan to both be Sven (reindeer) and she wanted to be Mulan. When asked the same question, Emerie responded she wanted Craig to match her as Elsa and her sisters should be Sven. Apparently Craig needs to be a princess with Tyler next year! Reagan was too busy demanding to be Aurora to answer the question for me.

This year the girls loved seeing Halloween and fall decorations, especially ones that light up our neighborhood after dark. Demands on the way to school involved slowing down and stopping at a few choice houses, just so the ooo’s and aahhhh’s from the backseat had time to happen. We now have fighting over who is “allowed” to look out the other’s window at such things, and meltdowns from the middle seater who doesn’t have my own window, awwww, I don’t have a window. They also get very upset when everyone occurs out of one side of the car and not equally on both. I can’t wait to see how they react to the much more beautiful Christmas decorations this year; clearly we will have to place a kid in the back seat for those expeditions so they have their own window for sightseeing.

At Trunk or Treat

A couple other cute observations from this past week. I may be (extremely) biased, but my kids are SMART. We grabbed a super sized sled at Costco the other day and I asked Emerie and Reagan to hold it while I pushed the cart around and collected other items. After a few minutes they weren’t holding it and I realized Reagan had taken the cart seat belt and wrapped it around the handle on the sled and closed the clip, all on her own! Smart I tell you!

As we continue to work on bad words, with somehow seems a little improved this week although I don’t know why, Reagan looked at her sister the other day and said shut your body. When I responded that isn’t very nice to say, she looked me dead in the eyes and said shut your body doesn’t have any bad words. I didn’t say shut your mouth. Smarty PANTS.

Emerie constantly corrects us now with an I’m not Reagan or I’m not Harper, even when we are talking over her and to a sister. It’s hilarious…as of course the toddler believes all things are about them. Silly girl.

And from here we roll into the holiday season!