RIP to our Kitty

Today was an unexpectedly difficult day, with very little warning. I guess life just happens some days and there’s nothing you can do about it but roll with the punches. This is especially true when you have little kids.

In this case, Craig received a phone call from the local pound, informing us that our first pet together, our little grey kitty Rafi, was struck and killed my a car earlier this afternoon. Turns out it was right in front of our house, likely by a speeding driver, since many fly down our residential street, going like forty miles per hour.

Rafi was named after one of my beloved Red Wing players, Rafalski, about a decade ago. He was a rescue that instantly loved having a whole house to himself, having a plentiful amount of food and snuggles, specifically from me. He HATED all the house projects Craig forced him to endure, especially anytime his brother Chris showed up with some power tools, such as new windows and doors in our first house, and when he overcame that obstacle, we got a dog. It took barely any time for him to warm up to our other cat, Rory, and they became fast friends and stayed that way through the years. He was less than impressed at our promotion to triplet parents, even less impressed when that reduced his snuggles and our minimal sitting still for YEARS. Only in the last six months or so have either cat decided it is safe to go near the kids and that sometimes results in petting and snuggles. I’m glad I got a good evening snuggle with him last night, full of purring before I drifted off to sleep.

We decided to be upfront with the girls tonight and tell them the truth. We took them outside with our loved kitty and told them about the accident, that his injury was too bad to fix (even with a bandaid- to their disbelief), and that he was already in heaven. They doubted this until Craig pulled him out and set him on a blanket in a hole in the ground, and then stressed a bit more at a new reality they don’t quite yet understand, especially seeing a bit of blood from the hit. Don’t worry, it wasn’t very graphic or we wouldn’t have shown the girls; and it showed us that it was an instantaneous incident and he didn’t suffer, which is a relief.

Everyone absolutely wanted to put flowers all over him and picked from around the garden (sorry Grandma), laying them gently down and putting handfuls of dirt on him. I have to say, for their age, they did a great job asking questions, trying to understand it and being respectful. Craig did a great job coaching and explaining through it.

The rest of the evening produced a bunch of complicated life questions. Harper keeps repeating that she doesn’t want Rafi to go to heaven; she wants him to stay here. Reagan keeps asking why did my grey kitty die? All three are very concerned about him sleeping outside in the dirt and want him to feel better, questioning why a bandaid can’t fix it. Reagan and Emerie are still asking questions but seem to be okay, while Harper is a bit more sad about the idea and needed a good momma cuddle. At bedtime Reagan kept asking where Rafi went and why. They all want to know where heaven is…and that’s a bit harder to answer off the cuff! When I explained it’s a place full of happiness and no pain, Reagan asked me if it was in Juneau. I’m pretty sure that’s because happiness equals Grandma Sue for her 🙂

It’s a tough reality knowing you can’t permanently protect your kids from some of life’s harsh realities, such as losing a pet or a loved one. Realities no one wants to go through but no one can escape from. I hope we made the right call in our explanations and that the girls will remember our beloved kitty and all our fun times with him.

Prayers for our household tonight as we miss our kitty and learn to work through life without his snuggles and meows.

Rest In Peace Rafi, we will miss you. ❤

Tiny Vampire Club

The girls continue to live in an “attitude funk” the past week or two and it is incredibly exhausting for mom and dad. It feels like the parenting full moon cycle is stuck and never ending (you all know what I mean by that!), with tired, grumpy girls every night that constantly bicker, refuse to listen, continue to name call and sass you, and have a hard time settling down. While boundary pushing is nothing new in any house with kiddos and has occurred for a while now, the attitude shift and blatant disobedience is very wearing and frustrating.

The girls’ funk is occurring at home and at school, with evenings a special treat and you can’t anticipate if everyone will be pleasant or over-tired rage monsters. This week Emerie missed out on the entire bike day activity at preschool. Her teacher noted that not only did she express her inner vampire and take a chunk out of Reagan, but she refused to listen or obey any instructions given, so missing out on the fun and spending time in the office was her repercussion. After reading the daily report about it and forcibly extricating everyone from the playground and into the car that night (not fun for me!); everyone had quite the screaming meltdown, most of all Emerie. Needless to say, my blood pressure skyrocketed before I even made it home for the night.

Attitude central

Once the screaming and crying decreased, we had quite a group discussion on the drive home about what happens when you are naughty and when you are nice, when you listen and when you don’t. Emerie owned up to her office visit and Reagan and Harper were happy to point out that she was in trouble and they were still able to ride their bikes. They also pitched in some opinions, noting that the office isn’t any fun and you just have to sit there. Emerie did point out she was well behaved and did indeed sit there; just not in time to participate in the activity.

I am personally glad she missed out on the activity and seemed to learn that her bad behavior was the main contributor. I can’t say this revelation improved her attitude the following nights or at pickup other days this week- at one point I had to chase her across the parking lot and manually load her into the car seat, kicking, screaming, and trying to bite me. This was after I wrangled the other two in, with a semi-cooperative Harper and somewhat resistant Reagan. It’s a lovely thought at the spectacle we become on nights like this and I try to block that thought out or it induces more mom stress. These moments also remind me that in so many ways the girls being older is a thousand times easier, and in other ways it’s just the same as the age-two-and-run-three-directions stage.

For the most part we skipped the Tiny Vampire Club when the girls were younger, with some occasional biting during toddler disagreements, but nothing that we “couldn’t nip in the bud” (pun intended!). It seems that we haven’t escaped it altogether in the preschool age and are currently smack in the middle of the attitude, with Emerie as club leader and entrepreneur. To give her some credit, it can’t be easy to bite your flailing four-year-old sister on the rib cage, through her t-shirt, and leave a full outline (top and bottom teeth!), without some real effort, dedication and gusto! Reagan certainly did not appreciate this at all and is still sporting quite the bruise from it, several days later.

So yes, the Tiny Vampires Club is brought to you by #realmomtalk. Who knows what next week’s club will be?!

Kickin Off the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eye Spy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chillin and reading a book

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Croup!

The last two weeks, I keep thinking that I survived a triplet pregnancy, the infant stage times three, age two challenges, potty training, our three-nagers’ attitudes, eye surgeries and ear infections, all to be taken down by a seemingly never ending bout of croup.

All three at the doctor’s office

We are kicking off week three with this crud and it doesn’t seem to be improving. The lack of sleep feels like when the girls were tiny, although to their credit, they are trying so hard to sleep and exist during the coughing fits, which are often. We are back to the dreaded everyone-wakes-up-at-night-and-wants-cuddles stage and breathe a huge sigh of relief if anyone sleeps through the coughing.

While the croup is nothing new to our household, it’s never lasted this long and certainly not for all three. Every remedy imagined was tried: spoonfuls of honey at bedtime, inhalers, nebulizers, steroids from the pediatrician, Tylenol, steamy showers, humidifiers at night, pillow propping; and yet, it holds on!! The only small relief seems to be the chewable Tylenol right at lights out, which soothes their throats enough for a few hours of sleep. I’m starting to think the dusty air is encouraging it to hang out longer; maybe more allergy testing is in our future since the latter part of last summer proved rough, maybe I’m just convincing myself it’s something more than it is.

Since this crud continues its grip, more time is spent at home and we try to avoid too many enclosed, indoor places, especially since the average public judges one cough, let alone multiple, like the plague is going to hop out of our pores and leap into their bloodstream…at any moment.

One of the main advances during this unpleasant illness is coloring and drawing. All three are now excited to make their own creations, not just color pictures, and I’m greatly enjoying what comes out of the hours at the table. In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed an increase in ideas and effort. For example, Harper knows H stands for Harper and how to draw an “h”. This often results in full pages of the letter in different colors and a preschooler very excited to show it off. Reagan and Emerie both mimicked it; Reagan decided the “R” is too difficult to try and Emerie managed to draw some basic “E’s” on her paperwork.

In addition to basic lettering, the drawings are improving leaps and bounds. I always pictured my kiddos with great imaginations for drawing, even though I have minimal skill on paper myself (at least AutoCAD remains my jam!). Harper colored very fancy rainbow clouds the other day and is now on a full rainbow trend, drawing it completely unassisted. Emerie is a bit more interested in joining in on the fun but still the least enthusiastic of the three. Some evenings she is all about it, kneeling at the living room table; other nights she’s happy to do her own thing while Harper and Reagan do it. And then there’s Reagan, who can sit at the table forever and color, draw or paint. She now insists her creations of dots and lines are members of the family, and will list them off in order of importance (usually starts with Grandparents Lon, Sue, Cliff and Anne and then (of course) Tyler and Mom and Dad (apparently Tyler qualifies on the same level as parents) and after that? Savaya, THEN Jaren and Chatum. It’s pretty cute to see how her mind works.

Reagan working

Reagan spent several days the past month at home with us during work days. She effortlessly mimics her parents and works on “her iPad” (princess laptop) and her glittery (not real) cell phone, sits and colors at her desk in her office, and will shush you and hold up a hand, saying she’s on the phone or in a meeting. Is that really how Craig and I sound? All in all, it’s great that coloring can entertain her while we get much needed work done, and she does great playing, or “working,” at home without her sisters.

Emerie’s new sunglasses!

Emerie now finishes every “mom” and “dad” with a lift in her voice, as if to ask a question. Uh, dad? Uh, mom? It is very endearing and Craig now answers her back, with an “uh, Emerie?” The daily eye patching continues to be more of a battle each week and her teacher tells us some days she refuses to wear it for the morning. As a mom, it sucks knowing how much she dislikes doing it everyday; but also as a mom…it’s ensuring that her non-dominant eye feeds her brain visuals and gets used and grows her vision. It’s tough and yet extremely necessary- in addition to her disagreement on wearing it, she also takes her glasses off and leaves them places constantly. I’ll pick her up from school with glasses no where to be found (and found eventually). That medical tape may be making a comeback soon!

The letter “H”

Harper, who is most familiar with the croup, is definitely not a fan of it this time around. When swept into our bed for a few hours because she unsettles from the cough during the night; at some point she demands you return her to her own spot or there is hell to pay! And reminders the next morning that Mommy wouldn’t let me sleep in my bed! If only this could rub off on both sisters. She continues to be a biking superstar and balances on her balance bike as she cruises down the street.

Everything else in our house currently relates to beads, ballet flats, water play, or bike riding…with some movies in between when the cough worsens. I always forget how we survive all winter, once it’s nice enough to be outdoors again for the summer and the kids can come and go with outdoor self entertainment. Questions about getting the pool out are already underway; I’ve promised by the time the leaves are completely out and green, it’ll be time for some back yard swimming.

Park time smiles

I’ll end this update with a random revelation the other day at pickup. A random mom that I do not know stopped me in the hallway to explain her kiddos came home the prior day and informed her that “if you have three babies, they get chopped out of you.” With a laugh I responded that the girls do not know what a c-section is, although it is how they entered the world. Good to know triplet topics are still cruising through their school after almost a year! Now if the croup would just stop….