2020 in Review

This is a year for the books. Whether that is good or bad, I will let you decide.

Looking back at photos from this time last holiday season, right before our impending 2020, the girls look SO much tinier. They advanced so much in the past twelve months, from personalities to everyday skills to talking up a storm! By the end of 2019 they were saying single words and pointing when they wanted an action, were pros at walking and running around, still ate in the triplet table and threw food constantly, started trying to use their clippy pillows and learn to buckle things, and were very unhappy to be stuffy with a cold.

This time last year we were dealing with constant ear infections, a month of colds and less than optimal sleeping habits, but also good things like play date outings with friends to pass the long mornings, littles that (for the most part) slept in until eight AM (I miss that!), and quality time with visiting family.

By the end of 2020, coordination and running full force is now easy, they climb into their dinner seats and buckle when asked (which we don’t have to do every night anymore either!), drink out of big girl cups (with lids) and use silverware, turn light switches on and off and shut doors, and go sit on the potty themselves. Our park adventures are much easier and they love to go down the slides, climb on everything and swing. While we see a lot more daily tantrums, they are also learning to ask for help when they can’t do something, tell us when they need to potty, and tell us tidbits about their day from the perspective of a toddler.

The girls etch-a-sketches from last Christmas are now replaced with coloring boards, where they ask you to help draw shapes and words. The tiny doll strollers that brought hours of enjoyment over the past year are replaced with fancier ones that boast more functions they continue to discover. The Little People houses are still used every few days; if you listen you can hear them talk to one another about the person on the potty or sitting in the chair or whatever little story they’ve conceived. Arts and crafts time is expanding to include more than just crayon eating and markers are beloved, even though they seem to always venture onto arms and legs. Requests for specific drawings is constant for whatever mood hits each day. The girls specifically ask to Facetime with Papa cliff or Lon or Grandma Sue and Anne, often demand I send a new drawing to cousin Tyler or Uncle Will, request to have park dates with friends and Auntie Janelle, and are always excited to see Oaki and Kaden, or Paris, Sage or Luca, and other adults such as “Kimmie,” or Megan and Alyssa, as much as possible. Anytime we see Nanny and Pricey everyone gets so excited. It’s a blessing we are able to maintain a small group to socialize with throughout all the craziness of the year.

Here’s a rundown on the biggest highlights for our family during 2020 (in my opinion!):

01


Words!

Word explosion is putting it mildly. Since the first big phrases in September 2019, we now have sentence structure, adjectives and multiple words for the same meaning. Everyone sings songs, all their ABCs and can count to 10. Harper leads the charge on sentences and the other two are on her tail.

02


Daycare

This is a biggie. Shifting from at-home-all-day nanny care to a toddler classroom at daycare down the street was a scary mommy step for me. Luckily, the girls handled it so much better than I expected, are thriving every day, and love going to socialize and see their friends on a daily basis.

03


Potty Time

This is one of the major wins of the year! Credit is largely due to daycare initializing it and laying the foundation, since we weren’t quite ready to trigger it, and now Reagan is pretty much completely potty trained, Harper is very close to no accidents, and Emerie is getting there.

04


Activities

Over the past year the girls learned to color, build block towers, pretend play in their kitchen and with their dollies, go to the park without simply running off at every chance, walking to the car, swinging and going down the slides without help, swimming, driving powered cars, and putting on their own shoes and socks!

The shift to daycare was the largest routine interruption of the year, even more so than the initial pandemic shutdown last spring. While I readily admit I was NOT ready for it, overall it was a good change that allowed them out of the house when we are almost exclusively home and to socialize with a new group their age. We have made some new friends from the new experience and that must be treasured after a year like 2020! For the most part we’ve spent the past nine months without attending social engagements or mom/dad groups (that we really relied on the girls’ first year!), play dates or public kid spots like the jump park, library and recreational centers. It makes the year sound like a drag, but we made it work by testing out all the local elementary school playgrounds, finding new sledding hills, adventuring out into the wilderness and exploring creeks and trails.

Emerie had one eye surgery in June, the same week Craig was able to sneak off for two nights to have a little kid-free, much overdue four wheeling fun and we had a fun sleep over weekend with Aunt Janelle. We anticipate another surgery is right around the corner and will have an update for everyone on that in January. We survived all but the beginning and end month of the year without colds, which is impressive! We also managed to get the house and new shed painted, repaint the loft into more acceptable office colors, build a new garden bed filled with raspberries, and catch up on some minor, miscellaneous house to-dos. Hopefully a few new projects will expand in 2021; such as a kitchen update, more garden beds or a deck add-on, and maybe some new lighting. Can you tell we miss doing projects!!

Ready to go to daycare!

It sounds silly, but my biggest change in 2020 was probably when I stopped pumping! After two years and GALLONS of milk later, it was a breath of fresh air to not have to continually worry about keeping supply up, when I could sneak in a glass of wine around my pumping schedule, and getting up earlier and staying up later to do it. I know I was very fortunate how well that whole process worked for us and the girls, but am very glad to be done. Craig’s major milestone of the year was probably getting a spot back at DPS, after several years spent in other departments. While we are both working from home a lot, it is wonderful to have job security, interesting work and coworkers we like!

Other highlights throughout the year that consist in the mind of a mother…the girls finally have HAIR!! Don’t laugh, it is a milestone after they went the first year with almost none! Looking back even a few months, it’s grown so quickly and braids are right around the corner. Another highlight is finding more time to cook meals we enjoy and bake goodies; this was on hold for 2018 and much of 2019. In fact, we (the adults anyway) skipped a lot of meals that involved any prep time when the girls were little, and it’s nice to have a little more time to commit to that. The girls are slowly starting to “help” with baking, although three sets of kid hands and an adult gets a bit cramped in the kitchen and usually ends in a fight. We will get there. The four wheeler now brings squeals of excitement rather than fear and the trashman, postman, plow and dump trucks and moose visitors are welcomed sights out the front window.

2020 has been a tough year for a variety of reasons, but then again, so was 2018 and 2019 (for us). There are plenty of parts to look back on and smile; it hasn’t all been a drag! I foresee 2021 giving us more FUN adventures, hopefully with more trips around the state to explore new activities with the girls, such as more camping, hiking, fishing, and everything in-between. It’s still going to be challenging with three in tow, but looks to be more doable than the past two years now that the girls are more grown up and occasionally listen to directions.

So happy new year to all of you who keep up to date on how we are doing! We look forward to being able to visit with many of you in-person next year…fingers crossed! And to everyone else near and far, feel free to Facetime us and let the girls see those faces and hear those voices. They love to socialize and if that is the best we can do for now…well then let’s do it!

Happy new year! ❤

Christmas 2020

In some ways this Christmas season proves more fun than last year; it is nicer that more activities are doable- especially when extra hands cannot visit. A few things are a real hit this time around, such as cookie and ornament decorating and getting out and about in the snow, whether that is by sled behind the four wheeler downhill at the park or simply swinging in the backyard.

Being home more this winter means I can enjoy all the snowfall from the comfort of my own house. While that is amazing and I’m quite enjoying it, it also means there are no Christmas parties to attend, no fun dinners out with friends and family, outings with Christmas lights to see on the way home, and less opportunity to socialize with anyone during the standard crafts and cooking. We haven’t come up with anything crazy to do this year, but we are slowly working toward build some family traditions to continue in years to come, such as an annual ornament to hang on the tree and holiday goodies to try. Hopefully these things will get a bit easier with age!

The girls had a holiday party at daycare last Friday; all the older kids and teachers enjoyed a pajama day while we matched the girls in red and green outfits. They had a small gift exchange, with each kiddo bringing a present in for another. Harper and Emerie came home with stuffed animals as their gift and Reagan a craft set that she really wanted to open! The girls also took cute photos with the snowman everyone built, and we were informed that Miss Harper was in timeout less that day than earlier in the week.

The word of the week is ballerina

Ornament decorating is a very well liked activity this year. So much that I ordered a large set of random, pre-made ones so we can add them to the decor. The tree is mostly bare other than lights; partly because they love pulling their creations down and examining them and partly because it’s so much effort to unpack all the normal ornaments and put them up. Each kiddo’s ornament this year is a variation of Rapunzel from Tangled. The movie isn’t on replay as much as past months but certainly still a favorite. Everyone pauses to watch any song that pops up from the movie.

So far the polar bear decorations are still hanging on the tree as well as the one we received after visiting Cabela’s Santa Claus. By the end of the month we should have a number of new displays, mostly colored in brown and black. We are still attempting to convince the ladies that Christmas colors are red and green and they don’t seem to care. Everyone also demands the addition of their name, just so they can color over it or try to “mimic” the writing. The activity has a lot of name!! Name! My name! requests throughout. I’ve been working on spelling each name out letter by letter, but whenever they join in, it always ends up being a, b, c instead of R-e-a etc. We will get there. At least they like the concept of spelling their names!

We finally put presents out about three days prior to the big day; partly because they were hidden and still unwrapped and partly because I wasn’t sure how smart it was to make them visible for curious little eyes and hands. The girls immediately wanted to know what the hanging stockings were and went to pull out the gifts wrapped in Olaf paper. At first they were convinced the stockings were from Papa Cliff and not Grandma Anne’s handiwork! After explanations and a few times demanding the boxes be returned under the tree again, they haven’t really bothered them. Every night we say how many sleeps are left until we can open them and that seems to satisfy the questions.

The first attempt at cookie decorating earlier in the month resulted in three toddlers that resembled the cookie monster and ran around energetically afterwards. After a little discouragement on my part, we gave it another go and it went much better, this time using already iced gingerbread (that took me two weeks to actually bake) and letting the girls choose the shapes to masterpiece. My theory behind shape choices was small sizes and recognizable things, such as stars, trees, snowmen, polar bears and little gingerbread people…I also threw a few airplanes in the mix for me!

I expected Harper to excel at this the most, given her love of coloring and ornament decorating, but Reagan ended up really loving the craft. Harper decorated and was happy to accept additional cookies to do…like a machine, always speeding through! Emerie pretty much sat there and sampled one sprinkle at a time until the plate was mostly empty, then started licking the frosting off the cookies. Reagan concentrated and wanted to perfect her two star cookies- she insisted mommy not finished anytime I tried to add more. It took a few days before anyone trusted that the cookies were edible but eventually they started snacking on them and not just licking off the frosting.

We also frosted upside down ice cream cones into fancy little Christmas trees, which was thoroughly enjoyable and cute! this is a fantastic little craft to try with the littles, just remember to frost the bottom with some “snow” so they don’t fall over. They are still sitting on the counter, cute as can be.

And yes, if you are wondering, I did not label their photos below wrong- Harper and Reagan are wearing opposite of the normal colors, but both Frozen themed! I was highly impressed how clean the end result was; I expected icing and sprinkles everywhere and it wasn’t too bad overall. Definitely acceptable!

Our visit with Santa this year was unexpectedly smooth and without any tears. I thoroughly enjoyed the screaming rage (and photo) last year so I was a little disappointed, but I’m guessing if placed on Santa’s actual lap they wouldn’t have liked it. COVID rules enforced sitting in front of clear plexiglass with Santa safely behind, so no scary contact was required. Excluding the fact they only wanted to look at was the flashing ceiling lights after every flash, they did pretty well. Afterwards we looked at the fish; an activity far more impactful on discussions that afternoon about our day. It also cracks me up that two years in a row we’ve been in line behind our same twin friends, completely coincidentally!

We cleaned out the garage (again) to make more space to move around and brought the foot pedaling and auto ones out. We haven’t driven the push button ones since snow stuck in October, after only five minutes the girls already displayed their increased skill and directional awareness! Throughout the fall all three would venture down the street, excited with their newfound button power, but they hardly ever concentrated on what they drove toward. Now they turn and pay more attention to obstacles in front of them. After a few days the circle was discovered and eventually all three followed each other around excitedly.

With the Christmas season returns the love of our good friend Tay Tay (Taylor Swift). Out of the blue the other morning everyone wanted to listen to Shake It Off and are now continuously asking to play it in the car, on the way to school and for a dance party in the evenings. Harper even specifically asks for a dance party!

Our big outing this holiday season was venturing downtown on Christmas Eve for a run through the Captain Cook Hotel and gingerbread village. Unsure how well they would behave, we broke out the strollers and let them run after we’d wandered a bit (and visited the bathroom times three). If I’ve never mentioned it, we almost always make a toddler bathroom stop if we actual go somewhere indoors and the girls are extremely afraid of the loud, automatic toilets. Anyone else have this issue??

We looked at the fancy village and the girls interacted with the pretend Santa and beautiful Christmas trees and we attempted to do a family photo (keyword attempted). One of the nice ladies in the lobby made five hot chocolates and gave everyone a tiny, snowman cookie. The snack was enjoyed by all and then we watched five toddlers sprint down the halls, giggling and burning energy. I’ll also note they did a GREAT job wearing their masks, something we have practiced very little since we barely go to any public (indoor) places, AND all climbed back into the strollers when asked to do so.

We played with some friends up until nap time and colored a few more ornaments. It was easier to not venture out in the evening and attempt a Christmas Eve church service, especially after the battle of dinner eating, and opted to open a single Christmas present and watch a Christmas kids show. They understood the present opening concept quickly and did really well. The tiny, yarn dollies were a hit, carried around for the rest of the evening and snuggled in bed overnight.

A few gifts were strategically placed in the living room as the girls wrestled going to bed. Everyone was tired from a very interactive day and ended up going to bed a bit early, after watching a cute show with three (pink, blue and yellow) kittens. Everything in threes!


Christmas Day

Christmas Day started at about 8 AM, which anymore is quite a win. Everyone started off the morning with a mini jump fest on our bed, a first for them, and we made our way downstairs to see what Santa had in store. It was nothing too crazy, but still some fun, new things to enjoy throughout the winter. Harper immediately noticed the new princess doll dresses and picked up Emerie and Reagan’s dolls and hand delivered them to each of her sisters before picking up her own, commenting so pretty! Craig set up the new doll high chairs from Grandma Sue and Papa Lon at the kitchen table, putting a Cabbage Patch doll in each, and those entertained for a good part of the free play morning. Those chairs are now attached to the kid kitchen with some form of a furry friend eating off a plate.

My best attempt at a pre-gift opening photo

The girls excitedly wanted to open gifts, so after a cup of coffee was poured, they pulled everything out from under the tree and into a pile. I attempted to wrap things in threes, since most gifts had a small variation for each kiddo, whether that was in their colors or similar toys. The theory was to convince the tiny minions to simultaneously open the similar gifts and minimize the fighting and arguing. Of course I forgot to label whose was whose on the big, Frozen wrapped ones they’ve been asking to open all week, so we deferred them until a little later into the activity.

Overall they did a great job ripping open the paper and checking out new toys. I mean it’s clearly a natural kid skill that requires no explanation. There was almost no fighting throughout, which was surprising, and they especially liked the Moana, Elsa and Rapunzel dolls, the pink makeup kits (x3) from Aunt Jenny and Uncle Keegan, and wearing my new Xtra Tuff books around the room. Emerie carried the wooden lipstick around for the rest of the day, with Reagan helping her zip it into a coat pocket when we went outside. Harper happily played with the new dolls and snuggled on the couch to some Cocomelon while Reagan played with a little of everything.

Driving toddlers!

We ventured outside twice that morning, first to drive the auto cars down the smooth, iced street and later to loop the neighborhood on the four wheeler with our neighbor kids and deliver some decorated ornaments. It took a few minutes to get out of the house but once outside, everyone listened well and had fun. I pulled out one of the stocking stuffers early (since we didn’t get to them yet) and gave each kiddo a new hat, a yellow for Emerie, teal/greenish for Reagan (although I have a second purple one for her later since she likes it) and a solid black for Harper. Everyone rocked their hats for our outdoor fun.

The cars did decently on the flat, icy areas, but required a little bit of adult foot muscle whenever the road became rougher. We made it about six houses before we turned back, and in true parenting style, walked the end carrying the cars while the children laughed and ran full blast.

After a good nap everyone turned up the grumpiness scale, meaning a quick dinner (delivered by our amazing neighbors!) with toddlers not participating and a grumpy evening overall. Harper refused not only the entire meal but even the sparkling grape juice for the occasion, while the other two only wanted to drink that and not eat anything. Reagan snacked on the lumpia and that was about it. The past week or so the girls seem to eat a huge breakfast and decent lunch but then are uninterested in anything at dinnertime. Hopefully it’s just a phase because they are clearly continuing to grow!

The girls kept saying I want a bido later in the afternoon and it took me a bit to figure out what in the world they meant. Cousin Tyler taught them how to wrap themselves up in blankets like burritos, hence the “bido”. I got three June and January blankets for them for Christmas, two purple and a pink for Harper, and the stretchy material inspired their excited for burrito wrapping (see Emie below!). We also opened stockings and played with those toys a bit but decided to hold on the remaining few presents that remained under the tree.

While I assume this particular grumpines stems from a busy two days and a lot of excitement from presents, we did get a few minutes of couch snuggles before bedtime. The girls continued to tell us Christmas was over after the presents, not understanding it is more than that. They also seem to believe it is limited to the living room, where the decorations and tree live- we are working on that. It was a pretty uneventful day, but all-in-all pretty decent for 2020 and the girls enjoyed themselves. While I’m disappointed to make it all day without a good picture with all three girls, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Hopefully next year we can celebrate with more family and social visits.

Merry Christmas everyone! ❤

Thanksgiving Week

Week two, or should I say round two, of our unplanned family time has been the usual parenting adventure. The girls are starting to get in the groove of being at home again, probably enough that going back to daycare will reset the calm(ish) and create even more evening grumpiness. We were determined to keep the girls busy and occupied all week while downing a lot of coffee, getting a massive amount of fresh air, and attempting to enjoy each other’s company.

Monday

We kicked off Thanksgiving week really early- with Harper up and ready to take on the day before seven AM and Emerie and Reagan right behind her.

Craig worked while I got everyone up and running for the day, got dressed, did hair and vitamins, and ate a big bowl of cereal with some bananas and sausage. Every decided to go number two relatively early in the morning, and it quite cracked me up they would run downstairs to yell at Craig in the garage, daddy I pooped! Daaaadddyy I poooooooped! I’m sure his coworkers on the other end of the line were enjoying that entertainment.

After adventuring to the park with Nanny, Pricey and Miss Janet, it took about an hour for everyone to calm down enough to snooze in their cribs, after some back talking and promising of a birthday cupcake as snack if they went to sleep! I didn’t think it was going to happen and then they were out like a light.

They were all babbling in their beds before sleep took over and I heard Reagan say “Mommy, go take a shit- no jelly bean for you!” I kid you not…that phrase CLEARLY comes from their dad! Pretty funny that the other two joined in and noted I don’t get a treat. The teamwork has already begun.

After work Craig took them over to the neighborhood school to run around while I had an hour kid (wine!) break and cooked dinner. Everyone devoured their pasta salad, corn and chicken and received a peach yogurt for dessert. I turned my back for one moment to finish the dishes while Craig was upstairs starting the bathtub, and turned around to a full kitchen table of yogurt mosaics. Silly babies!

Tuesday

Emerie was the early riser today so we plopped down on the couch and watched a little Moana before the other two were up. I try to make early morning one-on-one time count, with lots of snuggles, knowing that the girls are always sharing our attention by one-third and don’t often get to relax without their siblings present or the normal excitement around young children. After breakfast everyone went to the playground to burn off energy and I pulled out their rolling, mini four wheelers to push around the living room after lunch. They are now saying four wheeler, since the real sized one is sitting in the front yard, but it comes out sounding more like a four la la or in the holiday spirit, fa lala. Pretty cute indeed once you know what they are saying. They attempted to push their dolls on the wheelers as well as their giant monkeys. It’s crazy to think the toys used to seem so big compared to the girls; now the long legs have to crunch to ride them.

I love my children to pieces but man, some days they really know how to drive a person crazy! The tantrums, fighting, biting, complaining. All. Of. It. Luckily a friend visited for dinner and helped us do a fun painting craft, which certainly helped burn up some time, but even so the girls still ran wild and continued to be mean to one another throughout the evening.

The craft will turn into “hand” turkeys once the paint dries and I cut them out (or several days later still be unfinished on the counter; that’s more likely). Harper went completely 100% in, her usual style, and looked like she had slaughtered a pig by the end of it. Reagan’s method was one finger at a time with minimal paint on the page, but was all for full hand prints painted on her hands by an adult. Emerie tried to splatter as much paint as possible and loved every second of it. After much scrubbing (of the table, chairs, floor AND children), everything is back to cleanliness.

Wednesday

After a little early morning snuggle with Harper, everyone was up with a bang. We had a very overdue twin play date at the house, where my girls didn’t want to play out in the snow and our visitors did, so eventually we came inside and played with our books and toys. This could be because we put the new swings in the garage to warm and straighten up and they were less than pleased at their absence. Once inside, everyone was calm and composed for about two hours…something quite unusually with FIVE toddlers sharing a play area.

We decided even without family visiting this year, we would try to get a little cooking done to enjoy. With the announcement of another “hunker down” for Anchorage for whole month of December, we might as well attempt some of our own holiday joy and Craig is quite a decent cook! He prepped as much as possible while the girls napped and throughout the evening, ready for our first solo holiday.

Thursday

After a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bacon, which involved the adults eating the pancakes and the toddlers devouring yogurt and bacon, we loaded up and headed out to our favorite Eagle River park for some sledding and playground time. I can’t wait for the days when we can enjoy a quiet holiday at home, not have to trek out anywhere, and relax. This, however, is NOT how last year or this or even next year will go, but someday!

The wind was cold and for the first time the girls were enthusiastic to have their new face wraps on for warmth. All three were happy to chew on them and pull them down to “shovel” random snow in their mouths. The only glitch when they are pulled up to noses are the fogging of Emerie’s glasses, which frustrates her to no end. We are constantly wiping the lenses off a finger so she can see where she is going. Apparently it was also cold enough for cooperation on mitten wearing, and the fresh few inches of snow made sledding really fun.

The girls are continuing on their grumpy moods this week so the middle car seat was relocated into the back row for the drive home. Reagan begged to have the first ride…so I’m guessing she now believes that is her seat. The past few weeks the girls have been fighting over who sits in the middle, the spot no one wanted for the last year. This has more to do with being taken to the car first than sitting in that spot, and I’m guessing at some point everyone will have a designated seat instead of all switching around whenever we load them as we do now. We are still rear facing, even with those long legs in tow, because we are still far below the weight standard for forward facing and actively working on the height standard.

Emerie still managed to throw her glasses at Craig TWICE on the drive home and send some toys across the car at her sisters. But overall, it was less of a battle than with all three across and everyone snacked and sang songs until we made it home.

An actual photo of us together!

While the girls napped Craig worked on a multitude of dinner tasks and the amazing smell of turkey filled the house. Other deliciousness consisted of green bean and corn casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie. Unsurprisingly and a repeat of last year, the girls pretty much didn’t touch any of it at dinner…except for the amazing, homemade lumpia the neighbors dropped off for us that afternoon. Reagan ate at least two whole ones! Sounds about right; we couldn’t even convince them to eat sweet potatoes, i.e. SUGAR. Silly kids.

Everyone was so grumpy after dinner that we booted them all outside for some swing time and playing in the snow. That lasted long enough to clean up some of the kitchen and prep bath time.

With our first major holiday sans any out of town family, I’d say it could have been worse. And we have much to be thankful for this season; three smart and beautiful ladies, a happy (albeit tired) and loving husband and cook, a roof over our heads and heat, a wonderful hometown, essential jobs through all this craziness, and a life that always brings the unexpected but often fun. Happy turkey day to all of you!

Friday

The snow started dumping early Friday morning, the perfect weather for Thanksgiving weekend. We did not let that hinder our morning zoo plans and I loaded up kids and strollers and winter gear to trek out in it.

Pretty decent snowfall while we explored

This time we brought one of the double chariots so the girls could sit for a bit intermittently and be contained when attitudes struck. Excluding the fact everyone was in a maniac mood for the morning (including me by the end of it), it didn’t go that badly and I had Uncle Will to help me corral them. The few inches of fresh snow didn’t deter them from running amuck and snacking on it at every opportunity. At least that’s clean snow, right!?

If I had to pick a favorite animal today, it was probably the turkey (which is hilariously timed and so fitting for the week!). One stayed cozied up by the heating lamp while the other one socialized with the girls. As we walked toward the caribou cages, it paralleled us along the fence line. Harper thought that was just so hilarious and informed me I love it a few times, pointing excitedly at the turkey. Emerie stayed behind once everyone moved forward to the alpacas and bonded a bit more with it, until it gobbled (squawked?) at her unexpectedly and she about jumped out of her skin. Apparently a real gobble gobble isn’t quite so comforting. She wanted to get away from him ASAP.

We swung by to see the otters a second time before heading back to the car. Meltdowns were imminent and I was glad the stroller was there to contain two of them. They all liked watching the otters belly slide across the snow, their style of sledding, and hooted and hollered at them.

After nap we donned the snow gear and shoveled the front driveway while the girls sat in the yard with me and “supervised.” We don’t love taking them out front and rarely do so, since for the past two years they bolt into the busy road; but, in snow gear, as well as the late afternoon darkness, they are slower and more timid to taking off down the street.

Craig put the plow on the four wheeler and after clearing the driveway, he convinced the girls to sit behind it while pulling them down the block in the big sled (sitting on my lap, of course!). They talked about that adventure all evening and yes, we went super slow the whole time!

The last funny thing to note for the day, poor Emerie wouldn’t go to sleep because of the turkey gobble from the zoo. She explained to me in a concerned expression that the turkey gobble upset her and I responded he went bye bye (as turkeys do on thanksgiving?). After a good fifteen minutes back and forth from a clearly anxious toddler, she finally drifted off to sleep.

Saturday

By Saturday the toddler mood swings were starting to get really old (or before Saturday really). Others that have warned us that “three-nagers” are actually worse than the “two-nadoes” stage are probably right; at least that seems to be how we are trending. There is an incredible amount of meltdown rage at our house throughout the day; everything from stealing toys to being told no to disagreements about wearing their gloves or a previously chosen color of underwear. Other disagreements spur over who gets to go in which potty chair, because someone peed on someone else’s existing potty chair pee (maybe TMI but it’s funny and true!), when everyone wants to wear the same pair of boots or the same jacket, when one sits too close to the other and they touch, or when they slam the downstairs gate shut on one another. Not to mention other times when no one ever answers us the same, so all three want to sing a different song, watch a different show, read a different book, or have a different drink. I could go on forever…and certainly write an entire blog on reasons for toddler rage.

It’s a constant and long battle that takes a ton a patience AND stamina- because these tiny humans feed off your sense of tiredness or irritation and it FUELS THE FIRE. So, I admit, we both lose our heads probably once (or more) a day after a full day at home, likely with every moment filled with some kind of toddler rage, crying fit, repeated demand or total meltdown all while trying to accomplish everyday tasks, keep things going forward and done.

Through all this, the girls are starting to say sorry more often after an unkind deed, and while the upset sister doesn’t want to accept the apology yet, we are progressing on giving it. Time out is quite frequent right now and I hope that is teaching them to understand when they’ve disobeyed or been unkind. They are using their words better now, and when someone is in timeout inevitably one or both of remaining group will make a point to tell us they are listening. Momma, listening! Daddy, me listening! It’s very cute, but it also usually comes from a place where they haven’t been doing just that. This battle and continued loop will continue for a long time.

They also interject adjectives in their sentence structure now, such as Emerie this morning, point out her “my yellow pee” or Reagan stating she wants to wear “my blue hat” or Harper stringing off a few descriptive sentences about whatever is going on.

Spontaneous family photo – E / H / R

The girls were riled up once again for the start of the weekend so we ordered breakfast takeout (is that called takeout?) from a small, local restaurant, built block towers at the kitchen table while Craig picked it up, and then headed off to Kincaid Elementary for playground slides, swings and a sledding hill.

After a cheeseburger lunch, with Reagan eating an entire adult burger herself, everyone went down for a nap while Craig ran to Costco. Overall the nap was very restless but successful, and they willingly snuggled on the couch afterwards and had a snack with some Pan on the until Daddy came home.

We ended this day with more thanksgiving leftovers (including the amazing homemade cranberry sauce that was delicious- thanks Sara!), pumpkin pie (the girls ate the whip off the top…) and our first Christmas pajamas of the year, which Harper greatly disliked until I explained the snowflakes on the red-striped pants were from the frozen princesses. That explanation seemed acceptable to her and she stopped trying to take them off.

One more day until routine change!

Sunday

That tiny spec is a moose!

Today’s agenda was set around visiting Santa in the morning. After a quick cereal breakfast we visited the Potter’s Marsh boardwalk to burn a little energy before seeing the jolly red man. It’s been a while since we walked out there and our first time with snow, which was helpful because the girls couldn’t see straight down through the boards. It’s also great for the containment, with only two directions to choose from, so everyone could run freely, but for the most part they just wanted to walk and hold our hands and see the wildlife.

Two moose were spotted down below and we were able to get a pretty close look from the boardwalk. The girls were so excited! They called out to “Mr. Moose” and Harper asked if she could first kiss him, then hug him, and that she loves him. The walk provided some much needed time outside and produced much chatter about moosies for the afternoon. I’ll note we did have to promise Emerie that no turkeys were present during that time, as she showed concern about it.

After the boardwalk we quickly changed into Christmas attire and rushed over to Cabela’s for our morning photo slot. I fully expected rage crying like last year, but because no one can sit directly on Santa’s lap, they were content to sit on the bench in front of the glass and not concerned about the jolly man behind them. No one really wanted to look at the camera or smile; instead they kept looking up at the flashing lights after each snapshot. Overall it went pretty well and everyone snacked on a candy cane as we walked around the store and looked at the fish.

The girls were very chatty today about family members. All morning they asked about Auntie Manda and wanted to talk to her, so during lunchtime we did a quick FaceTime call and they were excited (so excited they all pooped- true story!). Later in the day Reagan asked a few times for cousin Tyler, saying she wanted to show her cheek owie to him. Emerie also said she missed Papa Cliff and the other two agreed. I’m glad that even though family isn’t local, the girls still have a close enough relationship to want to talk to them. Thank goodness for modern technology!

Post nap activities included several rides around the neighborhood on the four wheeler, certainly to our neighbors’ dismay, until our hands and feet were tingling and cold. We colored the ornaments from the Santa visit and with some effort, convinced the girls to hang them on the tree and not steal each other’s. As you can see, Harper attempted to color the entire body brown and black; we had to forcably take the colors from her after insisting it needed some holiday spirit on it. I think all three did a good job!

We ended the evening with everyone eating their entire dinner plate. I note this because it’s incredibly unusual, with each kiddo eating more than half a mini pizza, two servings of broccoli and green beans (we slacked on dinner…yes…since we were outside playing on the four wheeler). Everyone excitedly ate their ice cream reward while I sipped some wine!

It sounds silly, but a tiny part of me feels sad the girls went back to daycare (I said a TINY part). While the past two weeks were very draining and busy, there were also happy parts and fun adventures spent as a family. I look forward to the days when they are a bit bigger and it’s easy to do some of these things without the major prep work ahead of time and sense of tired afterwards, and I know that will come eventually. For now, I will relish my workday at home with a hot cup of coffee and a silent house. I will enjoy knowing the girls are off having fun with their class, burning energy and getting out of the house for a bit. I will appreciate the Christmas decorations in my house and the snow outside my windows and get excited for the upcoming holiday season. Can’t I also be thankful for that?!

Life Impacts

Our family is extremely fortunate that to date we haven’t fully felt the affects of the worldwide pandemic. Luckily Craig and I both have essential jobs, since crime and airports don’t stop for viruses, and our hand washing lifestyle was already a must with premie kiddos in the house the past two years.

The daycare notified us a week ago that their facility was closing down through the end of November, meaning a two week period without childcare or any relief from the busy and nonstop kiddo life, all while trying to continue working full time and remaining sane! I’m trying to have a good attitude, but let’s be realistic here. It’s going to be a hard and long month. Especially during a year when no family is traveling for the holidays. It will be our first Thanksgiving with the girls without any grandparents present to cook!

Day ONE

Team meeting at the breakfast table

The girls were up early, even though I managed to convince two of them to stay in bed until at least 7:30 by letting them play with their crib stuffed animals while I checked emails on the nursery couch. They were ready to take on their Monday, which would have been so much better if they could head off to daycare for some fun.

Craig and I were both able to switch off and handle some morning meetings and work calls while Nanny and Pricey visited for a few hours to help us out! The girls played with play dough, strummed the guitar, destroyed the house with their toys, and had all kinds of fun. The day was going okay until nap time, when all three refused participation and would NOT settle down…all three! What a way to kick off the week and not in a good way. Poor Harper wanted to drift off to sleep so badly, but Emerie and Reagan prevented her from doing so by singing, yelling, throwing toys and jumping on their beds until we finally gave up and got them back up.

Getting out of the house!

No nap is the perfect way to kick off two weeks of crazy toddlers that aim to drive their parents insane. Yes, I am complaining, but before you judge me on the grumpiness, remember I have three moody, over reactive busy bodies taking over my house, fighting with each other and over everything, and pushing boundaries at every moment. At some point a break is necessary, especially after a fourteen hour day…

That morning I managed to check a few emails at the kitchen table while the girls corralled around and munched on pancakes. Once I caught Reagan sipping coffee out of MY coffee cup with her hand, which was a good indication of how the rest of the day would go. Later I handed Harper a plastic up to play with, instead of with my coffee cup, and she scolded me with a there’s no coffee in it, Momma. Long day indeed.

We opted to walk over to the school and go sledding after the nap fiasco, hoping to get some fresh air and survive the afternoon with tired girls. It went pretty well and they enjoyed the bigger sledding hill with one of their daycare friends; afterwards we played on the very frozen playground equipment until the sun set from the sky. Overall, they were good sports for most of the evening, although as I finished writing this Craig is sitting in their room, trying to calm them down after waking up an hour into their night and NOT wanting to settle at all.

Day TWO

By the grace of God, the children slept in until 8:15 this morning (probably overtired from Monday!). It has been several weeks since we’ve had such luck, allowing me to get some much needed work done with a quiet and cozy environment.

Nanny Chris and Pricey came over again to keep the sanity in check, as well as one of their school buddies who is also missing her daycare friends! Lots of coffee was sipped (chugged?), minor tantrums occurred…you know, the usual….but this time they napped!! Hallelujah! We went sledding in the late afternoon, well after the sun went down and until our faces were frozen. All in all, a much improved day!

Day THREE

Another day sleeping in, except no one spent the entire night in their bed. It’s a creative process to climb out of bed and not wake a shifty toddler that has half a mind to get up with you bright and early. It’s a juggle of turning the sound machine up, pulling blankets over said kiddo and a pillow to the side so they don’t fall off, and tiptoeing quieter than a mouse out the door, shutting it behind you silently so the pets don’t push it open and wake them up, then looking at the baby cam and praying they didn’t hear you!

Craig and I rotated work hours for the day, watching the girls for an hour or two and then trading off to answer a call. It’s actually pretty nice, since by the time you start feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the toddler attitude then it’s time to switch off and switch activities up!

I managed to cook an actual meal for dinner- fajitas; the prior two days were Costco prepped meals (which we love!). We did a lot of coloring with the girls and open playtime and the 7 degree weather didn’t stop Craig from taking them on a park date to burn some energy. Overall the day went pretty well in triplet standards.

Day FOUR

Everyone decided to be up at the crack of dawn today, but after two good sleep-in mornings, that wasn’t altogether surprising. Craig made breakfast and dressed everyone for the day while I handled a couple calls and then we switched and I whisked them off for another sledding adventure. This time the girls were heading down the hill solo in the little round sleds and head first on their bellies on the bigger ones. Emerie was taken out by one of the older boys, doing a full body flip into the air and (luckily) landing on his back, breaking her fall. She was not a happy camper on that one and demanded an apology! Harper was happy to go down the hill on her butt, without a sled, until she figured out how fun it was to go faster. Reagan is a sledding pro now and will even bring the sled back up herself while her sisters expect you to come help them up.

I came downstairs to this while the girls were napping and cracked up. A near accurate depiction of them sleeping, minus the fact they don’t cuddle together. We require them to leave the bigger dolls downstairs each day because they would be noisy and take up a lot of crib space, so everyone puts theirs in a doll bed, gives them a blanket and then a gentle kiss. It’s very sweet. Emerie tries to give Harper’s doll a kiss all the time and she doesn’t like that, but it’s still cute. We were gifted several American Girls dolls by one of my coworkers and while I know they won’t care for them like if they were older, they all really like to carry them around, put them down for naps and snuggle with them on the couch, so why not?!

This also brings up the point of stuffed animals in their beds. Reagan now insists she has to bring MANY animals to bed with her every nap and night time, including her teal dragon, green lambie, black AND tie-dye teddy bears, Stella her Cabbage Patch doll, and her brown puppy. It’s a battle to get any of them away from her and she now sleeps in a pile of them. We’ve more or less given up taking them about because she will lay in the dark and ask for them a hundred times. At least she is able to sleep with them either way! Harper doesn’t have this issue nearly as much, but likes to have her Cabbage Patch doll Cici, her pink teddy bear she’s had since birth, and her pink monkey. Emerie also has a regimented demand for animals, with her beloved monkey and Cabbage Patch doll Sadi at the top in priority (they now follow her everywhere), followed by her purple/pink sloth, a tiny, black teddy bear, and whatever other animal she finds that day. For a week or so she was holding a mini, purple rubber ducky in her hand all night. She even woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night, full on screaming ducky!! and trying to find it in the dark. Good times.

After nap we ran several errands to get out of the house and showed off some of the Christmas lights around town. The girls later told us all the different colors they saw; I’m very hopeful people light up their houses this year so we can tour around and enjoy them from a nice, heated car. We have a few more to put up once it gets a bit warmer outside.

Day FIVE

The final day of the workweek started off well, with everyone sleeping in a bit. Emerie lost her mind at about midnight, waking up Reagan as a result, so they are each in a bedroom and Harper later joined Craig since he has the space of a king sized bed. While we don’t love the co-sleeping (Craig less than I do…but I can sleep anywhere), we also manage to get WAY more sleep when we pull an angry baby out of their bed and into ours, whoever it may be. They are pretty good at going right back to sleep unless they aren’t feeling well, knowing that they got exactly what they wanted…for us to bring them in our room. They inform us in the morning now that they sleep in Daddy’s bed or sleep in Mommy’s bed (guestroom bed). At some point we will have to put in the time and effort to resettle them in their own room but honestly, at this point with it the middle of winter, dark outside, both of us working from home full time and without daycare, I will take sleep any way I can get it, even if that means a battle later down the line.

The morning went pretty well and I loaded the girls up and headed to a park by Nanny’s house so she and the hubs could join us for some sledding! We had Taco Bell nachos for lunch with some yogurt, a good nap, and played in the circle behind our house before dinner.

Craig made a piping hot vat of chicken noodle soup and for once the girls chowed down on it! Reagan was all about the peas and celery and pretty much ate all of mine, Emerie chomped on all the noodles and some celery, and Harper preferred the dark meat chicken and broth. It all worked out; past experience with soup hasn’t gone nearly as well. The girls liked chicken broth when they were little; we used to put a little warm broth in a bottle and let them sip it when they had colds, so hopefully we are growing some soup loving toddlers.

Day SIX

After the usual morning routine we headed off to a new sledding hill on the west side of town. The girls were acting rough, pushing each other down deliberately and treating their friends unkindly, so we loaded back in the car a few minutes early and headed home to prepare for our lunchtime mini winter photo session. Surprisingly the girls were very well behaved for those fifteen minutes, even while cold in the 20 degree and windy weather with just sweaters, tights and boots on, and I am SO excited to see them!! I always love snowy professional photos, but haven’t tried them with the girls being so young and less than amenable to the chill.

After the outdoor excursion we came in and bundled everyone up in their frozen princess,

hooded blankets and read a book until they warmed up. We had another good nap and managed to play inside for the remainder of the day without too much fighting. We broke out the special color markers (ones that only color specific types of paper and are amazing!) and Harper fully colored her whole sheet, Emerie colored a few baby sharks and Reagan adamantly begged for Tyler and Uncle to see it her creation. It was pretty cute.

All in all, a decent day!

Day SEVEN

We rounded out our first week of family time with a pancake breakfast, strong coffee, and some vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting at the sledding park in honor of Craig’s birthday. The fogged rolled in and over the sunlight toward the end of our outdoor excursion and the sight was beautiful. The warmer, 30 degree weather was a nice change and you could tell the girls were happier about it. Although the weekend grumpiness was still there, they went up and down the sledding hill more than a dozen times without assistance. Emerie ended up with the bloody nose and lip at one point and needed a break, Harper required a little coaxing to go down on a sled (and then remembered her need for speed) and Reagan was happy to play with Sage on the slides and swings for a while.

In the afternoon the neighborhood moose were out to the girls delight, walking down the street from our house. We did multiple drive bys in the car so the girls could see them from both sides of the car and they hollered, screamed and talked to those poor baby moose, whose ears very much listened to the conversation.

Unfortunately no plans for daycare this week or any back up family that’s local meant Craig didn’t get much of a relaxing day off for his birthday, but we did order a nice dinner and he managed a solid nap while they napped!

Happy to have one week down! And as I was reminded at the park this morning, this is a good time to be thankful to spend more time with your family, that is something COVID has given all of us. Yes, it’s hard, stressful, and sometimes makes you want to pull your hair out, but we only get this age once, and we have to choose to enjoy it. The expanded vocabulary, the emotional fits, the questions and demands, and the snuggles and kisses.

Here’s to Thanksgiving week! We have so much to be thankful for.

Egging Us On

Typical Easter routines this year are changed for many families across the country (and world), due to quarantining at home. We spent this time last year at home almost exactly as this year will play out, doing a basic egg hunt for our (then) just starting to walk toddlers, and of course munching on some candies and doing crafts! This year is far more exciting to me, because egg hunting will be a much more exciting experience for the girls.

I purchased Easter basket goodies the same time I bought all the birthday decorations, not suspecting all events would be canceled shortly after. The best part about the girls having a March birthday? All the Easter and spring inspired decorations and cute spring clothing are pink, purple, and teal pastels. Finding things for each color is very easy, including perfect dresses party favors, and gifts for their baskets.

Week three of quarantine slanted toward the calmer side of week one…thankfully. Feeling a little more like my pre-kiddo self- for those of you that don’t know me that means a little more cooking and crafting than I’ve done the past two years- and trying to come up with fun things to do while also accomplishing things around the house (my life goal each day is to stay caught up with laundry and go to bed with an empty kitchen sink). This included fancy brownies (that means with icing), a few new crafts to try, actual cooked meals (usually I defer to Craig, he’s better at it), and getting small household things like vacuuming under the cribs and cleaning up the moose poop in the front yard.

Working from home allows me to hear some of the fun, inner workings of a typical day with “nanny.” At one point I heard Emerie playing along with Chris as she sang the ABC song; each time she paused Emerie would say the next letter. Craig tried that later on that night and she wouldn’t do it for us! Reagan will sing along to the song and Harper is starting to hum different theme songs and she’s pretty good at Baby Shark.

We are working on our numbers at bedtime, reading the same book on repeat, that counts from ten to one with animals and stars. Emerie is convinced all numbers are nine, Harper continues to just throw crib toys at me, and Reagan yells nigh night on the last page. They all love page six, which has the monkeys.

The celebrity items for the week are 1) nanny’s truck, 2) stars (on the nightlight projector, 3) the word “no”, 4) Tay Tay music and 5) chalk. Off and on all day you hear nanny truck! with pointing outside.

A few new house rules, according to the girls, are: 1) Craig is the bottle holder during evening routine, 2) I must sit with them as they drink (these days are numbered, as we should already be off that pre-bed time feed), 3) boots can be worn throughout the day and should never require socks, 4) coats/hats must immediately be removed in the house or total, triple meltdowns, 5) every bath time should involve suction cups or crayons, 6) Baby Shark must be played multiple times, and 7) anything visible on the back deck, gross or otherwise, is fair game to taste test. Yes, this included the frozen dog puke, which they all tried to lick and cried when I stopped them!

A few implemented parent rules? 1) Everyone gets to nap, whether they cooperate or not, they are staying in bed for at least an hour, 2) if dinner plates are picked up, the food is taken away, and 3) daily outside time is required. Harper has not napped well the past two weeks, but will begrudgingly stay in her crib while Emerie sleeps through the whining. We are also working on hand holding, especially walking around with them as opposed to carrying them. Harper does not like this unless she’s walking across snow, but the other two are pretty decent with it. Emerie likes to insist you hold hands so she can lead you places.

Harper singing

Another fun thing to note from this week; the girls are starting to understand their singing voices; this includes humming random songs like Twinkle Twinkle and Baby Shark. Harper is really coming in her element and singing along after songs on television, but when we try to sing ABC with her, she literally says no after every. single. letter. A- no! B- no! C- no! and repeat. All three will sing parts of Baby Shark and the do do dos and then demand we play the actual song. They are also starting to pick up on the shark motions and do them.

In the past week, we’ve had two successful nights at potty training. Do not mistake the level of effort on this…in fact, because life is completely centralized at home (100% for me and the girls and just work outside the house for Craig), we are taking no drastic measures to change anything that could disrupt the routine that keeps us functioning. That being said, why not dabble a little here and there with the impending potty chairs and underwear and get comfortable with it without a bunch of pressure? So two nights in a row, after bath time, Harper wowed us by sitting on the potty until she went (five plus minutes each night!). Emerie ran around a bit, sat for a moment and went once! She was very proud to receive the M&M. Reagan was much too busy with the nearby sound machine to sit still and try it, but is still the most vocal of the three about a dirty diaper.

One thing I really wish we could do more of with the kiddos, because we see our singleton friends doing it and I always imagined it with my own kiddos, is cooking and baking. We are a very baking friendly household, both Craig and I grew up making things from scratch. With three, close proximity or sitting on the counter usually results in fighting over things, grabbing something that is breakable or inedible, or making food preparation very difficult when everyone wants to “help.” So we haven’t done this very much. One morning over the weekend Craig put all three small and very messy helpers on the counter while making breakfast. They thoroughly enjoyed watching the pancakes cook on the stove, out of arm’s reach of course, and tried to touch everything on the counter. They loved the new opportunity…until it was time to get down and eat breakfast, that is!

Easter Day x 3

We started off the morning with bright eyed girls who slept in long enough for me to set up the egg hunt for later that morning. I pulled out the fancy toddler table and chair set, the one we can’t leave out because they insist on climbing and standing on it, and prepped the Easter baskets. Not only did the girls actually sit at the table and explore their baskets, but they even ate a small portion of the breakfast we ordered from Southside Grill. There was definitely a great amount of “sit down on your chair” and “get down!” throughout the meal; I still call that progress.

The baskets consisted of little Target knick knacks, color coordinated eggs filled with scented play dough and stencils, a pair of flip flops, and tiny chicks that peep (that they did not find interesting at all!). Everyone immediately hated the flip flops on their feet so those will be saved for later this summer. The play dough was used several times over the course of the day, with everyone enthusiastically watching us cut them into shapes and mashing them together. I’m pretty sure there are bits of dough beaten into the floor all over the living room, but at least they had fun!

After breakfast, everyone received pig tails (refusing the bows I pulled from the baskets) and dressed in their Easter outfits, which remained relaxed since we had no plans to go anywhere and it isn’t actually spring here yet. That means June and January polka dot dresses over warm onesies, purchased so long ago I can’t remember when I did it, and adorable gingham printed capris (from primary.com) and booties.

The egg hunt was quite the success! The emptied Easter baskets were refilled down in the family room, with the girls picking up on the activity pretty quickly and enthusiastically running around the room and climbing under things to find them. Overall the fighting was minimal and only a few times did someone take eggs from another’s basket. No one realized goodies were inside the eggs until all were picked up and we “cracked” open the first one, highlighting a goldfish! The next few minutes were filled with exciting toddlers wanting ALL the eggs opened immediately and stuffing their faces. Since I assumed this is what would happen, eggs only contained a small treat, a goldfish or a marshmallow. All in all, we had very satisfied customers!

The rest of the day progressed pretty uneventfully. We all played and played…with the eggs, the play dough and stencils, around the house and outside. It was nice and relaxed and laid back, despite the dreary weather.

Uncle William came over to enjoy some steak at dinner and the girls happily repeated Uncle for the rest of the evening. They also “showed” him how to use the play dough at their little table and how to mash different colors together. That activity lasted quite a long time; once they started standing on it, back to the garage it went for another day! We all ate at the dinner table like grown ups, although the girls weren’t that into the food. They were, however, very much willing to eat their entire mini chocolate bunny and cover their hands and faces in a full layer of chocolate. Even Harper, who likes sweets the least, went all in and devoured the entire thing.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and cozy Easter, spending time at home with their loved ones!