Since the lovely quarantine kicked off right at their birthday last year, I thought it would be fun to do the top twelve photos of each kiddo at age 2, so here we go! This was originally a top ten, but of course I couldn’t decide which ones or possibly narrow it down to that number so top twelve it is.
So here are a few favorites throughout the year, in no particular order, for those of you that don’t get to see us all the time or don’t live locally. Lots of personality and attitude coming…
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
I couldn’t resist a side by side comparison of birthday # 2 with birthday #3. Check out the difference!!
It’s crazy to see how much smaller they were only a year ago, with so much less hair on their heads and words in their mouths. I can’t even imagine how many more changes we will have over the next year.
A number of friends checked in the past week or so to see how we are holding up without daycare; first off, we appreciate the love and secondly, we are hanging in strong so far! Throughout the day I can’t help myself but chuckle when one of them does something related to an unreasonable write up by the daycare last month. This often includes throwing a tantrum (which allllll kids do!), eating snow outside (which I’m not discouraging unless it’s colored haha), or even letting Reagan walk a few paces down the street with one barefoot, refusing to put her sock and shoe on. Guess what?? She learned after about five steps that walking barefoot on snow is really cold and then wanted to put her sock and boot back on immediately (in between all the whining that is). So yes, we are surviving. The girls seem to learn something new everyday and have their moments of individual play and kindness.
Staying home again means rediscovering some of the fun experiences one misses when out of the house. Old, forgotten toys are re-emerging as favorites as we recycle through the toy bins that aren’t sitting out everyday. Other extremely exciting moments occur throughout the week too. For example, trash truck Thursday is incredibly exciting and the girls will hoot and holler as soon as the truck is noticed down the street. They congregate at the front windows, dog included, and watch the magic of their trash man take trash to the dump? To see Wreck It Ralph?! Trash all gone?! On those lucky days, the girls might notice the second run, as trash is picked up on the opposite side of the street, causing a second stir of excitement and exclamation.
Another equally exciting event, that seems to land during lunch or at the start of nap, are the municipal plow trucks clearing snow off the street. This is extremely magical according to our tiny tots. They love to watch out the windows or quickly don a coat and boots for a better front porch view. This same rule applies when out and about, with muscled enthusiasm when spotting a plow from the car window. The other day I turned around to everyone wearing their winter coats and boots (inside) and authoritatively pushing their doll strollers around the room. When asked, they responded the strollers were snow plows and they were pushing snow. How very creative! We are raising kids who love big vehicles (which should thrill at least half of our family!), with semi-trucks, snow plows, and excavators topping the favorite list. I called an excavator a grader the other day, not trying to be specific, and I was quickly corrected that it was an excavator, NOT a grader. Kids these days… This summer we will have to go visit my M&O team at work and bring some treats so the girls can climb in a few big ones. They would LOVE it.
Other events are less exciting for adults but plenty fun shenanigans for the toddlers. One prime example occurred on a grumpy evening, with kiddos overtired and ready for sleep, when everyone decided to dump their popped popcorn treat down the toilet. If I haven’t mentioned it, we removed the gate from the downstairs bathroom to be freely used for its actual activity- you know, as a bathroom- so the girls now go in and out as needed. This goes well most of the time, other than nights when they dump popcorn down it!! I walked in and demanded they scoop out everything and deposit it in the trash (thank goodness it was at least clean of any #1 or #2!); my snarky toddlers complied by scooping some in the trash and some in their mouth! SO. GROSS.
Let’s move on to something less disgusting…the girls are thrilled with all the cooking and baking activities Grandma Sue continues to inspire in our household during her visit! In addition to all the valentine treats and goodies like donuts, cinnamon rolls and pecan bars, everyone “helped” create their own mini pizzas to enjoy for dinner one night. Clearly they enjoyed the creating part more than eating the final product; that and eating the dough, flour, black olives and as much cheese as possible before it was “shared” with the actual pizza. It’s rather impressive how quickly they can shovel handfuls of food into those food traps when they really want to!
Dinner turned out great that night, but I can credit that to Grandma more than my little ones. It’s amazing the activities that can happen when you have one more set of hands (and a good vacuum!).
The word of the week is “silly.” The girls are calling all kinds of things so silly, or will randomly say that moose is so silly! Or daddy is silly. Extensive discussion occurs about the neighborhood moose; why he is silly, where he is at, what he is doing, who he is with. That poor moose has no idea how hot a topic he is! The girls endeared him with a name- Carrot- because he enjoys eating them and because Olaf the snowman is outside and has a carrot for a nose. See the connection there? Not sure I do…but the kids can explain if you need to know more details haha. Everyone has a differing opinion on what he is up when out of sight (and not in our yard); Reagan usually answers that he’s sleeping, Emerie will comment he’s with his Momma, and Harper explains he wants a carrot and he’s cold. I tell you, having random moose visits causes quite the stir in this household, especially when they venture up to the front windows and are close enough to touch (with a window divide).
The latest off-the-wall, random comment from all three girls notes they don’t like mommy’s boobs and they like daddy’s boobs! Do not ask me where this comes from because I do not know but they constantly remind us about this fact…Harper went as far as yelling she loves daddy’s boobs!! I mean we should encourage body image right?! I’ve learned all big cabinets are called refrigerators; which sounds like a smart observation to me. They are also excelling at understanding the concept of time, with the most popular last morning (which means yesterday) or saying they get to go somewhere after a night or two of “sleeps.” Tomorrow is another popular word they are starting to understand. Someone will put a dolly in a stroller and turn to say see you tomorrow! Some concepts they pick up catch me by surprise; I assumed some of these concepts wouldn’t be understood until they were older and yet here we are. The latest obsession is all things wall clocks, starting with Grandma’s fancy one through FaceTime and extending out to anyone else on the phone who might possess a hanging clock in the background during a conversation. It’s almost like a recreation of their ceiling fan love when they were infants, except now they can talk and DEMAND to see them.
The house is now filled with new conversations, showing great perceptiveness and often bring a smile or a chuckle from nearby adults:
Emerie: Harper, you have an owie? Do you need a bandaid?
Harper: Yes, but it’s getting better. Don’t touch it! And points to it.
Reagan: I have an owie too! I need a bandaid and will pull up her sleeve or pant leg, point to it and then ask you for a bandaid.
I could probably write an entire blog called “Life Advice from Harper.” This little girl is quite the wordsmith and excelling everyday on her grammar and descriptive sentences. Her exclaimed thoughts completely crack me up- we went to Lowe’s and purposely walked down the toilet display aisle to see their reactions. Harper immediately started with I want to see the potties! Momma, I want to pee in them! to which we explained they were display potties and not usable, which did not simmer her enthusiasm with a response of no, I want to pee in them. I want to pee in the display potties because I love them! I mean what do you even say to that!? She was the first one up the other morning and we were watching TV downstairs while the other two slept a bit longer. She looked at me and randomly said, Momma,if you touch fire, you just need to get Elsa and a bandaid. How’s that for words of wisdom from a two year old?!
Bandaids heal all things, don’t you know that? Apparently that AND scotch tape, according to the toddlers this week.
Lastly, nothing says family bonding like cramming five people in the tiny, downstairs bathroom and filling balloons with water and food coloring! In the middle of this Reagan announced she needed to use the bathroom and the activity proceeded with one on the potty and two mad they couldn’t stand on the toilet and see us fill the water. Memories, I tell you. We checked on the balloons the following day to discover they still weren’t fully frozen! The second day temperatures dipped and they were firm enough to cut off the balloons. They turned out really cool and you can see the pattern the water froze into ice crystals. Too bad it was too cold to stay and enjoy them, so we went back inside with three, cold fingered grumps. I did manage to get them set on the porch railing to enjoy from the heated side of the door. If anyone has any better suggestions on how to do this in the future, I’m all ears. The food coloring immediately covered hands and gloves and made a decent mess outside…but they are pretty!
I will close today’s blog out with a quote that appropriately sums up our current life status.
The funny thing about kids is- they are the reason we lose it AND the reason we hold it together.
So, we are holding it together! And just like that we creep into our last month with two year olds! I cannot believe the big three is right around the corner already. The girls have grown SO much over the last year and learned so many new things. I can’t believe I will have three, three-year-olds in the blink of an eye!
Since we are home this year for our first valentine’s day that the girls can really participate in, I made some effort to figure out daily crafts to do for friends and family.
We started off the week of love with heart window clings, which finally don’t immediately submerge into their mouths with a well warranted “yucky” response. All three enjoyed sticking them on the windows and taking them away from each other; Emerie kept balling them up in her hands and running off while Reagan’s handful went on the floor, under her foot, while she added them one-by-one and tried to keep them away from Harper. Eventually they all ended up all over the house and were collected for the trash can. Maybe someday they will stay on the actual windows.
Our first craft went better than most of the ideas I come up with! I printed basic trees (solid trunk and branches) on pink paper and instructed everyone to buckle in at the table. Crafts go sooo much better when I’m not scolding the entire time with a get OFF the table! as they crowd around you and participate. The bag of puffy, heart shaped stickers was quite the hit and everyone decorated their trees without much assistance. In fact, they were peeling off the backs of the stickers without help after about five minutes. I have to say, stickers are a majorly awesome entertainer at this age. This craft is wall worthy and currently planned to hang up in admiration over the next week. What do you think!?
We ended up creating several versions of this upon request. Everyone kept asking for the heart stickers and then concentrated on their decorating.
I really enjoy noting the differences between each kiddo’s artwork. Janelle pointed out to me that their creations resemble each season, with Reagan’s showing all the leaves up in the tree (and nicely organized I might add- all done by herself!), Emerie’s with leaves beginning to fall and Harper’s covering full on fall all over the page. They aren’t to the point of comparing what the other is constructing so it’s great to see their free spirits roam and create. It will be interesting to see how their styles change as they grow and learn and then compare them to each other.
It took several nights tracing and cutting out hearts to do the next craft, heart shaped valentines in several different shapes. We typical color with crayons at least once a day but the girls weren’t really interested in drawing in more than a couple hearts before they wanted normal coloring sheets. I’ll be saving this idea for next year when attention spans are longer; for now we made enough to add to a few cards to send out.
We ventured into the messy paint a couple of times, using stencils and later decorating wooden hearts by hand. So much effort but the girls really love smearing the paint everywhere and it all ends up looking very brown (probably why Harper likes it haha!).
Aunt Janelle and Paris came over to help us celebrate Valentine’s Day and enjoy some homemade treats. The girls all boasted matching dresses AND polka dot tights and a rockin’ fancy hairstyle by Grandma. Much of the morning was spent making out favorite brownies and the girls help package them up for friends. I managed to sneak out and deliver a few throughout the day, even bring the girls with me for some and bribing good behavior with heart suckers.
The girls’ highlightable activity of the morning consisted of helping Grandma Sue make fresh, pink, heart shaped donuts. Needless to say, the room was quite a mess of flour and dough by the end of it, but it was hilarious to watch them mimic their instructor and try to knead the dough into shapes.
I can’t help but note some of the grossness that accompanied such an event. Harper went straight to eating it (just like she’s more into eating play dough than the other two) , laughing at our reactions as it dribbled out of her mouth. Reagan was all about getting flour everywhere and occasionally snacking on it; Emerie was happy to knead it and smear the flour on the paper. Paris did an awesome job with the little rolling pin and smoothing hers out, once the sticky factor was resolved with more flour.
After the initial dough work, Grandma got to work frying the deliciousness on the stove. One by one she and Craig had one little helper with the icing and, of course, you can’t forget about the sprinkles. Each kiddo had their turn putting the final touches on (some of) the treats and ensuring the flavor was up to par. We made enough for a small army so I hope everyone who had a plate enjoyed them! The girls sure did!
Today’s festivities needed some ground rules to abide by when cooking with Grandma, such as:
The messier the floor, the better the food.
Painting smocks are excellent at keeping flour off toddlers.
Donut dough is for snacking on, not for cooking with.
Flour should be licked directly off the table.
Play dough tools work perfectly for dough rolling.
“Heart” shapes made by little hands look more like bruised hearts that happy ones but taste the same.
Sprinkles are like glitter; you find them everywhere and on everything but you still have to have them.
All of the sugar ensured that Reagan and Emerie refused to actually nap, with Harper out pretty quick and sleeping through most of the bedroom shenanigans until we finally gave up and got them back up. My sleepless two were dismayed that they couldn’t have a donut as a post-nap snack; Harper happily munched on hers during our usual wake up snuggle on the couch.
I can’t say today was altogether easy, that we didn’t have fighting and tantrums and toddler rage; but in between those moments were some enjoyable ones. Examples like watching the girls enthusiastically try to work the donut dough, play tea party with each other (and fight over all the little plates), request you to read a book, snuggle with Auntie, examine the flowers on the kitchen table from Daddy, sucking on the big lip suckers, enjoying some lumpia and ponset courtesy of the neighbors, or running around in their cooking aprons and hats. Valentine’s Day should be fun each year to come, when we can do more crafts and cooking under a little less toddler duress; for now it’s still pretty manageable and the girls seemed to have fun.
Week one juggling full time work and full time kiddos went off better than expected. I’m not sure why I feel my attitude is better than our two week daycare closure in November, but I’m feeling optimistic and strong that we can manage this daycare gap and come out alive and thriving on the other end.
Don’t quote me on that…it could simply be the coffee and wine speaking as I’m well aware it is the dead of winter and being contained inside is hard. But! One week down and we are looking onward to the next one. Much of this is credited to the help of some wonderful friends, one that came over for an evening so I could have an art night with the bestie, two that came over one night so Craig and I could have our first date night in I don’t know how long, one that brought us coffee and donuts bright and early, one that opened her house up for a play date, and of course the bestie who visited several times so we could make work calls and survive playing inside. Each and every one of you…we thank you!!
The Amazon and Target shopping is a bit out of control since we pulled the kids from school, with my mind on what activities I need to encourage each week to keep them learning and thriving. Anyone with ideas on easy, manageable times three crafts while one versus three, I’m all ears!! So far we’ve come up with a few ideas, including:
Triple coloring sheets arrived yesterday so everyone gets to color the same sheet each day. First day was the #1 and today we all colored Little Baby Bum animals that my biased self thinks are soooo cute. Harper spent a lot of time perfecting her animals and everyone thought was amazing when the same monkey getting colored was on the tv!
Play dough: stencils, cut outs and of course new colors. Now if I could get them to stop eating and licking it (Harper and Emerie!!)
Mini button game: haven’t tried yet but it’s little buttons that shape into animals.
All things puzzles! You can never have too many puzzles…errr…until you are cleaning a million pieces off the floor and always missing a few…
DIY paper plate face art, animals edition
Jewelry sets with string
Stamps and sticker time: this is a new and now favored activity. We decorate paper plates with stickers, deck out little plastic boxes and the wooden food toys. So far they aren’t all over the house yet so that is a win!
Reusable sticker scenes still cover the backdoor windows and now the actual sticker books
Watercolors (and I fear for my life lol)
Valentine’s Day crafts for next week…I might have gone a bit overboard but WHY NOT?!
Magnet blocks: I finally caved and purchased a set after watching another toddler friend construct awesome things out of hers!
Fused bead kits: we haven’t tried yet and might be a wild idea but I’m excited! I always loved them as a kid.
Spray bottles: I am excited to try a fellow twin mom’s toddler entertainment hack…”washing” the car in the garage with mini spray bottles.
Much time is spent each day playing with Little People and their sets, play pretend with princesses and dolls, block building (tower time according to them) and dollhouse time, along with coloring, some cooking and dance parties. Don’t get me wrong, the level of disagreeing, tantrums and impatience is often off the charts, but let’s not dwell on that! It also extremely helps that Craig and I bounce back and forth between the kids and work, because, well we all know that the break of those two options is work! Breakfast time is the calmest part of the day and allows us to not only make breakfast, but answer the phone and respond on more emails while they quietly play and watch some nursery songs with their monkeys and princesses. This may become my favorite part of the day, second to right after nap time when everyone wants to snuggle.
And that leads me into why we are still surviving; so far nap is going wonderfully. It’s almost relaxing to get a few quiet hours of laptop work done while everyone snoozes away across the room and the other parent conducts work meetings!
One morning we broke out tattoos. The girls thoroughly enjoyed Auntie Janelle getting everyone a princess and a heart or butterfly, with Paris doing a matching one at home! The girls demanded we call Papa Cliff and Grandma Sue and show them.
In addition to our artwork, letters and numbers, we are working on learning names. The girls have each others’ names memorized, including middle names, and will also tell you both mine and Craig’s. What’s cute is they never say “Craig;” it is always “daddy’s name is Craig.” Whereas mine is just Becca…not to be confused with the teacher Rebecca, so I differentiate that a lot. They also ask us to remind them Grandma Sue and Anne and Papa Cliff and Lon’s names and they are getting increasingly good at them. They randomly asked for Koda’s name too…which is pretty funny since it’s, well, Koda.
The phrase of the week is I asked for it. This often relates to answering what movie or drink they want at a particular moment, someone will respond with Moana, I asked for italready or Reagan asked for it already, momma (usually Harper). Not sure where they picked it up but Harper started the trend and now Emerie and Reagan say it too.
We are in full parent mode on breaking a few bad habits- this is likely due to minimal socializing outside the house and daycare all winter and something that just has to be learned through practice. We continue to harp on everyone to improve listening and obeying while we are out and about, with Emerie complying the best and Harper and Reagan taking turns on actually doing it. Emerie prefers to hold your hand and has no desire to run off, while the other two seem to embrace their adventurous nature. The few excursions we’ve attended lately resulted in several major tantrums on the ride home, when we give them all the chance to obey and walk to the car and climb in and they choose to run into the parking lot or the opposite direction. This is apparently a hurdle to overcome for Harper and Reagan, Emerie complies every time and has received rewards for it while the other two scream they “want to listen!” but don’t actual listen. Obedience is a bit better getting out of the car than loading up and they will stand by us and wait until everyone is out. I attribute this to being in a new place so they don’t want to venture off; not so much to obeying us. Hopefully our disciplinary measures will be enough by the time the snow melts or we are in for some interesting (and grumpy) toddler adventures next season.
And just like that, we are into week two and the start of February! That means spring is right around the corner….right?!
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!):
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!