Driving Naps, Outings & Princesses

About to head inside with the girls and their future BFF Paris

This past weekend I took the girls to the local library and met up with a few friends (mine and theirs!). We played and played and explored the new space. The toddler area accommodated noise (thank goodness) and is mostly enclosed, with only one, easily monitored entrance in and out (the girls didn’t discover it until at least an hour into the adventure). I am appreciative that I had extra hands from my bestie Janelle to keep everyone safe and allow for brief diaper change breaks. Two-and-a-half year old Paris also helped keep the girls in check! Conveniently the kids’ area bathroom is very equipped for kiddos and located close to the playpen. This will be a great place to visit during the potty training phase next year when we visit the facilities 1000x each hour haha.

I’m not quite certain how to achieve bathroom breaks if I went alone, but otherwise think it would be possible to play for a bit with everyone contained. At some point we will try out this adventure solo! It was also great to have some of our twin friends come and play and get out of the house too! By the time I unloaded everyone from the stroller, there were a ton of kids in addition to ours.

As standard to all public outings where I take the whole house out and about…during the beginning of the visit I was pestered ton the usual things, being asked to overshare. Once people overcome the omg triplets concept, they often come up with the standard list of questions:

  • How many weeks did you make it?
  • How long were you in the NICU?
  • Are they all girls?
  • Are they all identical?
  • Do twins run in your family?
  • Do triplets run in your family?
  • Where did you get your stroller from!?
  • Can I take a picture of them?

And so on- the usual life of a public outing. If one overlooks all the personal questions, the visit wasn’t so bad and they behaved great! It doesn’t bother me that much to answer questions, as people aren’t intending to be rude or nosy (okay maybe a little nosy) and are genuinely curious most of the time. It’s a little weird when I’m asked if they can take a photo, but other than that…not so bad.

We had no meltdowns at all (including myself!) and lots of exploring and testing out new toys. After a bit people let up on my interrogation and everyone settled into playtime. Harper spent the majority of the visit sitting on top of the big kid table, playing with a shopping basket full of fake food, while Emerie and Reagan explored around the room a bit more and delivered new toys to their sister. Reagan managed to put an entire fake cracker in her mouth at once, which was pretty cute. Even though it was a library visit, I don’t think we looked at even one book!

Instead of trying to keep everyone awake through the drive home and lunchtime, I gave them a quick snack in the stroller, grabbed a cookie and latte, and loaded everyone up in the car with a wubbanub binkie and snuggly blanket from Grandma Anne. With nap times consistently inconsistent the past two months, sometimes a long car ride does the trick and guarantees at least a full hour of sleep for everyone…especially on a dreary/rainy day that I’m home by myself.

Car naps = sanity

As I exited Anchorage and headed down the highway toward Girdwood (about 35 miles away), it occurred to me how beautiful this drive really is. A scenic byway really is the truth! Not every mom who is out driving around, trying to get the kids to sleep so she can have a moment of peace and quiet, gets to enjoy such a pristine and gorgeous view for an hour (or more). Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m driving precious cargo and not just looking at the galloping grey inlet and huge rolling mountains, with trees slowly shifting over from summer green to fall yellows, oranges, and reds. My favorite colors of the year and each napping drive displays the brilliance more vividly. Last year I was too busy with six month olds and work to enjoy any of the crisp, fall weather that I treasure; the year before I was too nauseous to go out and do anything in it.

The girls kindly slept for two hours after the library, making the drive quite enjoyable for me and a nice break to sit and sip my coffee in quiet. I repeated this the entire weekend and achieved great naps for all in the midst of many outings and visitors and life. Sometimes the driving nap is worth it just to lessen my inner anxiety. It is extremely rare for everyone to nap more than an hour in their cribs- some days two will do two hours and one an hour, other days everyone freaks out after 30 minutes and are grumpy the rest of the day. I find my highest point of anxiety during the day is usually prior to nap time because I never know if it’s going to go smoothly or be a total disaster and no amount of small changes or routine seems to solve it. Since the scale tips toward disaster more than success, my anxiety of not getting any baby break during the day makes me stressed.

Due to the typical lack of sleep, the battle of my inner monologue keeps me awake for the drive. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in your brain when given the opportunity for quiet with minimal distractions. It’s also relatively rare to sit in one spot (even in a car) for a period of time, since that hasn’t happened at home in over a year. My thoughts vary, of course, from ridiculous notions like “why does the lane I’m driving appear larger than the one the other way?” (Hint: it’s all in my head…they are the same) to the minor paranoia that comes with fast approaching traffic a little too close to the center line for my liking. And, of course, other random things like upcoming events to plan for and thoughts regarding work and daily life.

In between the car napping this weekend were numerous adventures for the girls. We explored a new park on hillside with some friends, played outside in the dirt, and went trick or treating for the first time. This park was better designed for toddler age and assisted with the logic that each park visit gets a little easier…because my little adventurers increase their climbing skills and become braver each time we go. They now go down some of the slides without assistance!

Rain gear is a bit big

We put everyone in their new rain gear and they were swimming in it (pun intended!). The instructions to size up might be a little untrue- they were really big, even over their wind breakers. Wearing them lasted all of five minutes before we just let “operation let’s get wet and dirty” commenced! They were having a hard time moving around with the excess material…but boy were they adorable in the little “space suits”, fall boots and hoods. Emerie was also a good sport and wore her glasses and her patch for part of the time. After a while we took it off so she could better enjoy the time and use her improved balance.

Once everyone could adequately wiggle and move minus the suits, adventure was ON. Emerie went down the small enclosed slide a bunch of times while Harper and Reagan attempted the larger, open one (Em did too later). Emerie attempted to climb up and down the climbing wall- which she definitely needs assistance on still- and Reagan started the whole gang running around on the grass, outside the fence. Reagan continues to put the most stuff in her mouth, including all the wood chips from the ground. Her face and teeth were covered in dirt after a while, but she was so happy about it. They all found big rocks to carry around; thankfully too big to try to eat! Emerie was the only one to enjoy the bobble toy and sat on it and rocked back and forth. Harper and Reagan did not want to be contained and had no interest in sitting on it.


We wrapped up our busy weekend with Trick or Treat in the Heat. This event is a neighborhood-wide early Halloween celebration and a fundraiser for Hospice of Anchorage, Make a Wish Foundation, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. In 2005, an impromptu block party was created at the request of the family of a little boy named Ian Robbins, who wanted to trick or treat before he succumbed to his terminal illness. He and all participants enjoyed it so much that a new annual event began. Here is the local news coverage from the original Trick or Treat in the Heat if you are curious.

The weather held out long enough to be perfect, with raindrops coming afterwards. The event was well planned, organized and a lot of fun with a big turnout. We saw a number of friends with their kiddos and walked around with BFF Janelle and Paris. Typically we don’t do outings around dinner time to stay in routine, but figured we’d venture out and try it. Gotta live a little right?! The girls were super grumpy on the way home and at home for a quick dinner before bedtime. Overall they were pretty good and it was worth it to get out and about.

In true Disney themed style, everyone was a princess for the night. I ordered costumes from Little Adventures, an online shop recommended to me by another mom. I am still thoroughly impressed with both the quality of the costumes and the large selection for little girls. There are some boys outfits too, but not near the selection. The smallest size aims toward 1-3 year olds, so I knew they were going to be large on everyone. Not surprisingly, the dresses touched the floor but didn’t drag on it- that’s pretty good though for how large they are! We safety pinned the backs a little so they wouldn’t trip as much and I stuck to the girls’ colors for this year. At some point we will do whatever colors they want to wear (I really want to get the Belle and Snow White outfits!), but figured this year having three classic princess dresses that matched their colors would be cute. We will definitely be using these for another year or two. I certainly see some tea parties in our future with everyone decked out in their princess dresses.


Harper became our Sleeping Beauty for the night. I opted for this dress in long sleeves since she typically runs colder than her sisters, like her mother. Maybe it will help her sleep better at night (kidding…not kidding?). She was so darn adorable and so shy around all the other kiddos.


Emerie dressed up as Rapunzel, minus the long hair. The dress went past her feet but that didn’t stop her from walking around with Grandma. She especially liked the suckers as well as all the other sugar Grandma Sue sneaked to her!



Reagan was our classic Cinderella, minus the glass slippers (she opted for tennis shoes). She didn’t show anyone her belly the whole event and while a little grumpier than her sisters, was mostly happy when being held by one of us and walked around.


Everyone liked grabbing candy out of people’s bowls without assistance, although we “helped” them grabbed the suckers and things they can try at some point. At the end the girls all received a tiny tattoo (you can see Reagan’s in her photo above and Emerie getting hers on) from Miss Sherri. I’m not sure they even noticed it on their arms but I know eventually we will have a lot of these speckled about on the girls.

We opted for the triple wagon instead of the stroller, figuring it would be a bit easier to maneuver with all the kids around. The girls walked some with Grandma Sue, enjoyed being pulled in the wagon by Papa Lon, their chauffeur, sitting on Craig’s shoulders, or held by me. I can’t wait until next year when they can really walk around and enjoy this!

Overall, the weekend was a success. I’m so glad Grandma Sue and Papa Lon tagged along with the adventures; extra hands were great and the girls loved it I’m sure. And what did we learn from trick or treating? If you give the girls a lollipop, don’t you dare take it back. EVER. They will be unforgiving and furious, screaming the whole drive home…and be angry AND sticky…


So friends, in closing and with today’s theme…something I hope the girls will learn as they grow older…

Who says that my dreams have to stay my dreams?

Ariel, The Little Mermaid

How many does it take…?

Prior to our expanded family, we accomplished all sorts of house projects after work each night or over long weekends. Craig and I are generally quite productive when given a big tasks to tackle, and we can look back and say we’ve installed all new windows on two houses, all new doors and trim, new flooring and several completely gutted bathrooms, and even accidentally flipped our first house (we weren’t planning on redoing everything and moving but it worked out that way). We both like to work on projects, with Craig tackling all kinds of tasks and solving issues. I especially like to see how much I can change a space from an “old” look to a new and updated one, even if that is simply repainting a room or changing up the trim style.

Some of the family working hard!

Fast forward to one year post triplets; obviously the fun and productive house projects are now at a minimum as day to day survival does not include extra projects. While I would love to complete something new, there just isn’t time in the day! Raising babies in the new, high priority in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to accomplish other things, right? Refinishing the bottom kitchen cabinets took us close to six months to complete and that happened before the girls were mobile. I still need to start (and finish) the upper ones at some point. The new back deck turned out to be an impromptu (required) project earlier this summer because Craig put a foot through one of the rotten boards. Thankfully we had friends come help with that one.

This past weekend we attempted to construct a new shed in the backyard, having torn the old, rickety one down the summer we moved in. So the question is…how many people does it take to build a shed while keeping track of three high energy, mobile toddlers?

How many people does it take to build a shed?! A LOT.

The answer? A LOT. With two grandpas, a grandma and aunt, three cousins and a couple local friends and visiting ones in tow, we still don’t have a completed product yet…but are much farther than we were a week ago! Time is definitely limited when you must account for a midday nap time, have to keep to daily eating schedules for the girls in addition to keeping an eye on them the whole time, and can’t work late into the night because you must also account for bedtime and routine.

The Douglet household was definitely hopping this weekend; the girls greatly enjoyed seeing their older cousins and getting to play. It was fun to have family visit and get out and go to breakfast and also dinner with everyone- the girls are great in restaurants. We also made time for some backyard fun, climbing and sliding on the play set, running around and “flying” on the airplane teeter totter that is now quite the hit. We even had a dance party on the back deck.

With the bustle of daytime activity, you would think they would sleep well at night this past week, right? That’s what we thought too but unfortunately not…maybe we are just destined to not sleep for a while longer. It’s anybody’s guess! At least we have extra hands this week to help accommodate the grumpiness that comes with less sleep.

Emerie showing Reagan her game
Papa Lon and the creamer game

One other cute little game that Emerie started, now Harper and Reagan have joined in, is with three Costco vanilla coffee creamer bottles (empty) and Tylenol syringes. Who needs actual toys right…Emerie discovered she can take the medicine syringes apart and plop them into the plastic container, dump them back out, and do it again. And repeat. We ended up trying to drink the last fridge creamer faster so that three empty bottles were available for use…otherwise everyone continued to fight over just two of them. Now it is quite the entertaining game. I often look over and see Emerie sitting in the lawn chair, quietly playing her game on the deck, fully entertained. It is so darn cute.

Oh and before I forget…maybe I should show a photo of the shed progress I’ve discussed this whole blog…here is it! I can’t wait to paint it next year to match the house. It’s going to look so great.

Progress!

There are definitely more adventures to be had this weekend. Hopefully that includes a few finishing touches on the shed in preparation for winter and some other play dates…but we will see. There is so much to do before the weather starts cooling off!

I find myself angry…

It is a struggle to accurately convey my feelings over the past month into words on a page (or screen). I’ve never been great at displaying emotion, especially extremely fresh ones, but find myself wanting to get my thoughts out in an attempt to understand and comprehend those feelings.

Craig’s older brother Chris passed away in a motorcycle accident the night as Emerie’s eye surgery. This prompted an unplanned family trip to Juneau, an emotional week for all of us, our first plane ride with the kids, and a big shift in our strict daily routine. Not a lot of time was left for processing it all once we decided to make the trip south, but we are glad we could celebrate Chris’ life and spend time with family.

Quick visit when the girls were about 7 months old and still fit in one lap!

I find myself angry at this turn of events, because life can be really unfair sometimes. While this is not the first time I’ve felt angry with death, with someone being taken away from this world much sooner than they should have, it still provides a similar sting and ache in my heart. There’s never a good explanation for why these things happen, and I think that makes it even harder to process. I also know that if I’m feeling this way, there are many more family members and close friends that feel this ache even more deeply, and I try to stay mindful of that.

My anger is a little different since having the girls. I feel like so many amazing, future stories and memories were stolen from us in one, terrible moment. The girls absolutely adored their uncle; it was plain as day each time he visited or even through a Face Time call. He could get them to giggle and laugh and smile, crossing the bridge from “that uncle that lives out of town” into “the favorite uncle” in a matter of seconds. In fact, when he visit last March, about a week before the girls’ first birthday, he won over all three so quickly that they refused to let him get up off the floor and insisted on immediate baby wrestling and playtime, for a good hour!

Not everyone is a baby whisperer, but I can confidently say both Douglas boys certainly maintain the skill. It is always wonderful to witness, whether it is with my kiddos or someone else’s!

Hawaiian dresses from Uncle Chris’ trip to Hawaii earlier that year. He found three matching ones in their colors ❤

I find myself angry that the girls won’t get to know their Uncle Chris, see their Dad and Uncle’s playful banter when working on a house project, won’t get to ride four wheelers or dirt bikes and get into (monitored) shenanigans with him as they grow older. It surprised me how much impact this thought had on me, because I always counted on the fact it would happen. It never crossed my mind that it wouldn’t, and so much has changed the past month.

What can we do about it? While the ache remains and will for a while for everyone, we can remind the girls as they grow about their uncle, and how much he loved them as well as his family, friends and community. I see how strong my husband is each day, dealing with his sadness while continuing to get up and go to work, raise three growing babies, and make a positive daily impact on all our lives, even when it’s really hard and you just want to give up.

We can tell the girls stories, and boy, there are so many stories! I like to think if you compared the girls’ personalities to Chris and Craig’s childhood shenanigans (the ones that I know about anyway), Emerie would be the troublemaker (Chris!) and Reagan the behaved kiddo (Craig), with Harper more-or-less a combination of the two- willing to get into trouble but also willing to let her sister(s) go down for it (hehe).

While our trip caused a major disrupt in our daily routine, it was great to see everyone as well as extended family I hadn’t met yet! We packed up (a LOT of stuff) and made the trek down to Juneau with the girls and my Mom in tow, knowing the trip would be equally as hard as it would be emotional; both which proved true. Craig’s parents were right- babies do help heal wounds, especially ones wide open, deep, fresh and heartfelt. Hugging on a cuddly Harper, a tiny Emerie or a giggling Reagan certainly helped me heal a bit, and I know I’m not the only one.

We had a couple of fun adventures during the visit, but otherwise laid pretty low (if anything with three toddlers can be considered “laying low”). With Aunt Tami’s and Papa Cliff’s help we explored the local indoor water park, with a short walk over from our residence for the week, and played in the warm water with the girls and their cousins Gabe and Chatum. It was a nice break to have a little fun for an hour.

It was also entertaining to see the boys trying to push the triple stroller down the sidewalk. It is pretty big, especially when full of three wiggling toddlers, and that caused a little problem driving straight, but the boys figured it out!

The girls greatly enjoyed the water and it was the perfect setting for them to do a little walking around as well as floating with us around the lazy river. Because the adults outnumbered the kids for once, we didn’t put life jackets on anyone: having two arms per kid is pretty useful! Everyone thought the slide was exciting, even though they sometimes looked less than thrilled about it, as well as the small kid-sized water works and fountains. This experience also taught me my phone is waterproof, as I went down the slide with it in my shorts. Even fully submerged, it came out okay. Whew!

In true kid style, we made it all the way through the water park without any mishaps or incidences, until of course, we rinsed them off without their swim diapers on…I will leave that one up to your imaginations (refer to a couple blogs back if you are unclear…).

We also took the girls to a cute park, that wasn’t completely toddler friendly, but still workable with three adults to herd them around. The whole trip was so hot, in Alaska standards anyway, so we kept the midday outings for the fair skinned kiddos to a minimum. Realistically, I think the adults were just as hot!

We barbecued at Papa Cliff’s house a couple times, with the girls (and myself!) meeting extended family up visiting from down south, the kids and their friends, a big group! We also made it out to dinner with the family as well and they behaved perfectly, other than the major mess of rice left on the restaurant floor. They certainly enjoyed being passed around and mingling with everyone.

The girls especially loved Papa Cliff’s entryway closet doors. Who knew mirrors could be so very fun and bring some smiles to the room. Here’s a video to bring a smile to your face too 🙂

Giving kisses to the mirrors

Chris’ celebration of life was our last night in town and held at the beach. I’d never visited Auke Rec in Juneau before, and it was a great place to reminisce. What a beautiful view, even with the forest fire smoke in the distance. So many people showed up and it was really a testimony to how many lives Chris touched. He certainly impacted ours! Craig and I handed the kids off to many different people to say hello. It was their first visit to the beach and first time trying Rhonda’s delicious scones.I’m pretty sure they were mostly excited about eating the seashells- not so much the cold water, although Emerie didn’t seem to mind it so much.

As the days continue to pass, I am constantly reminded of Chris’ impact on our lives; in fact, it is all over my house! The windows, my beautiful, rounded third story loft window that the boys gave me so much grief over, the new pantry he installed on his spring visit to Anchorage, even all the tools used by the boys in the garage over the years. It still makes me smile that he shot a hole in one of the heater pipes, putting up trim in the family room, and yet when we discovered it and called and told him later that week, he blamed it on me because I wanted to paint and have new trim! Fair enough. While the reminders bring a sense of sadness with them, they also bring good memories. Chris and I became friends through these projects, as they often brought him up to visit us, and I remember the brothers hard at work for a weekend, arguing about trim cutting and decor…and just being brothers.

In closing, a quote I heard that seems appropriate:

A family is a circle of love, not broken by a loss, but made stronger by the memories.

Unknown

So please, I ask all of you reading this that knew Chris- please continue to tell us, and the girls as they get older, stories of all the shenanigans the Douglas boys got themselves into! I only know a drop in the bucket of all the good ones…and sharing these memories will help the girls know their uncle.

Chris teaching Harper to hold her bottle with a great photo of him and Craig on the table next to him.