Surprise Adventures

The end of summer daycare closure inspired me to take the kids on an out of town adventure and give Craig one night and two days of working and relaxing in complete peace and quiet. Of course, I am not ready for a solo overnight trip with the kids yet, so Grandma Sue came up from Juneau to keep me company (and keep us all sane).

We got ready for the day, picked grandma up at the loading ramp at the airport, trekked over to harass State Trooper HQs and say goodbye to Daddy, and eventually loaded up into Craig’s Expedition, toting a lot of snacks, lunches packed by the girls, and backup clothes, stuffed animals and blankets.

Unlike our prior visit to the Kenai Peninsula, the girls actually napped on the drive down. Reagan drifted off to sleep by the time we hit the highway and Emerie not long after, while Harper spent more than 30 minutes chewing every little piece of food before succumbing to the sleepiness around the Portage Glacier pull-off.

We only needed one pit stop for the drive down, where we walked the boardwalk along the Kenai River, searched for big, wild mushrooms and other plants and berries, and checked out the shoreline. A nice lady took a photo of us just as the rain picked up again and we dashed back to the car.

The first night was actually quite mellow, with the girls content to play with toys at the house and color while the adults relaxed from the busy day. I wasn’t sure how the night would go, since it’s been about a year since I’ve had a solo night with the kids, when Craig traveled to Juneau last summer for a work trip. Since we’ve traveled to Becky’s before and it’s a familiar location, sleeping overnight seem to be much easier of an accomplishment than it is when we are at home. Becky read a fun bedtime story that distracted them enough from the thought Dad wasn’t there, and all three stretched out across the twin mattress with the second mattress pull out next to it, providing just enough space for everyone to shift around without awaking anyone. Other than a few moments of fussiness when each took a turn and then fell back asleep, the night went off without a hitch!

By the next morning I could already tell that the trip would be easier than our visit in June, unknowing that the girls would definitely prove their increased maturity by the end of the morning. After breakfast with Miss Becky and getting ready for the day, we loaded up into the car, anticipating a day trip to Homer. Of course by now I should be skilled at rolling with the unplanned surprises, and this day proved to be no different. As we pulled up to the first light after leaving Becky’s house, right as you enter Soldotna, and lightly hitting the break in anticipation of the red light before us, the back end of the whole vehicle slid out from behind us, almost like we hit a big patch of black ice and lost control. I fully admit I know nothing about the workings of or repairs needed for cars, and Craig is always great about keeping our maintained as needed for each season, and in that moment I immediately knew something was wrong.

With kids in the car I am far more paranoid of things happening, whether that’s checking if the other direction actually stopped at their red light before I go or to play it safe during a snow event, so on went the blinker and I eased into the left hand turn lane to pull into the O’Reilly’s service shop along the side of the road. Hitting the breaks a second time to wait to turn, the issue repeated itself. I couldn’t have more perfectly timed a major car malfunction than at a traffic light with an O’Reilly’s on one side and a Midas Auto Shop on the other; thank heavens it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, like we were for most of the prior day’s drive down.

Grandma Sue, in her infinite wisdom, came out of the shop with an older gentleman, who kindly agreed to drive the car across the street to the Midas to see if he could pinpoint the issue, since our unskilled look at the back tires was fruitless. We unloaded the girls and they trekked across the parking lot to Fred Meyer, where the mid-morning excitement apparently inspired starvation and the need for a fancy Starbucks fruit drink while he drove across the street, noting something was definitely off and making it unsafe to drive.

Long story short, the whole thing still makes me chuckle. The kind folk at Midas determined the bolt holding the rear suspension together not only came loose, but fell out altogether; hence the feeling of the back sliding out of control. When I chatted with them on the phone later that day after that revelation, they noted the Expedition was unfit to drive until the part was found and installed, and that they didn’t recommend me taking it in that condition, NOT that I wanted to. The entire morning ended up working out relatively seamlessly, thanks to Becky, who bailed us out, helped me uninstall and reinstall three car seats into her SUV, and then hitched a ride back to her house so we could take the girls to the park.

Needless to say, we did not make it to Homer that day, but we did have fun exploring a fabulous park along the river and walking all the boardwalks. The park was huge and Alaska themed, with whale tales and construction equipment and beautiful artwork along the climbers. All three were off exploring and shouting to one another at new spots were discovered and in true park visit style, everyone had a long turn on the swings and a bathroom visit. After a bit we walked down toward the boardwalk, pausing at each access point to the river to look at anything of interest, such as real life fisherman, seagulls (Emerie still calls them eagles!), rocks in the water and my personal favorite, the fact that a red apple was floating along the shoreline at random, which was far more interesting to the girls than anything else.

About a dozen or so fisherman were out as we walked along and the girls enjoyed pausing to see what each person was doing, standing out in the water. One nice group said they had caught a good number the day before, during the rainstorm we drove down in, and the current day was a bit slower but still a success. A nice gentleman brought their catch up so the girls could firsthand see it and poke the eye balls (sigh) to see if they were squishy. Next summer’s set netting adventure is almost a year away and I already can’t wait to go with them!

As we turned around to retrace our steps and grab some lunch, that same nice guy hollered up from the shoreline that one of his buddies caught one on his line. The girls leaned over the railing and watched him real it in, pull the hook out of the mouth, whack the sucker and hang it up with the rest of his catches. Emerie hollered a couple times she could see blood and all three watched the whole process with good interest. This was almost as exciting as seeing that damn red apple bobbing against the shoreline.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out at Becky’s, playing inside and out and filling a lot of tiny buckets with lake water out on the dock. Craig and William drove my car down after work that evening, with the plans to at least be able to get the girls back to Anchorage while the Expedition was fixed.

Lucky enough, Craig’s awesome cousin Jamie was able to swap vehicles with us so we could cram into her Suburban and do the day trip to Homer, much to my excitement. It took us a bit to get down there, between bathroom breaks, rainstorms, and installation of car seats, but we finally made it and it was so worth it. The girls immediately took to the beach adventure and the rain held out for the visit. Grandma picked up anything of interest and explained things to the girls while they collected pretty rocks and shells and splashed around.

We visit two beaches that day, first Bishop’s Beach as the tide rolled in and then walking along the spit through a few shops and watching all three collect dozens of shells and treasures. Emerie enjoyed finding feathers mixed into her shell collection, especially the big ones. Fearless Harper picked up the seaweed and other sufficiently wet things to show us. Reagan managed to immediately overflow her boots following William to the sand dunes before they re-submerged, which she eventually overcame to enjoy the sights.

At some point too many collectibles meant the hoodies came off and became bags tied around waists. Shell collection was certainly the highlight of the day. At one point our minions adamantly demanded Grandma walk out into the waves to select a specific shell, a couple of feet out. Under no circumstance were they going to take no for an answer. Little did they know that Grandma smartened up to this concept and packed her pockets with some shells that “she picked up” out there and handed off to unsuspecting and excited littles.

We definitely could have spent a weekend exploring the town, which I haven’t visited in so long and was much overdue to go to, but as the rain started back up we decided to head back to Sterling for Becky’s amazing brisket dinner, which we were super late for from the day’s adventure (and tasted as amazing as ever!). The Kenai Peninsula Fair was still going strong as we pulled up to Nikiski, so we took the opportunity and stopped for face painting (Mom, Dad and Grandma included), an ice cream treat and of course, a horse ride for each. Everyone wanted full unicorn faces, with each kiddo in her own color and with glitter. Craig received a brown bear on his cheek while I did a triple flower and Grandma Sue a fancy fireweed.

All three were happy to do a horse ride and climb into the saddles without too much assistance. The petting zoo part was also still open, with some young animals to love that were out of the rain. The girls all asked the nice lady with the two-day-old baby chickens a bunch of questions (as if we didn’t have baby chicks two months ago!) and learned that they hatch from eggs she had in a nearby carrier. That concept was quite interesting for all three and they asked a lot of questions. The other big hit was the three-legged goat, which Reagan excitedly told a couple of people about and continued to discuss on the way home. Very impactful stuff.

We managed to cram a family breakfast in before heading back home for the weekend, with Jaren and Savaya and Tyler joining us. I am loving having family only a few hours away and we were very blessed that the car situation was so manageable with a little help!

It was a great weekend overall. Excluding the car issue, the trip didn’t feel very stressful and all three were very well behaved and enthusiastic for every adventure we attempted. Each trip gets a bit easier and I find it so refreshing to get the new life perspective one only gets when leaving your house for a few days. It took about a week to get the part and fix Craig’s car; luckily the issue was relatively simplistic and therefore, not overly expensive, and the girls took it all in stride.

Now I’m ready for fall and another out of town adventure in the cold, fresh air. Bring on September!

July Jolliness

And just like that, July is nearly over! The month passed quickly being out and about with friends, hitting work deadlines and visiting with both grandmas, Anne and Sue. On Grandma Sue’s last visit the girls talked her into purchasing their first, itty-bitty sized bras, ones that are actually meant for small, preteen girls. All three were exceptionally excited to wear them around the house one afternoon and agitated they couldn’t wear them to dinner in public! Who knew age four be the beginning of that argument?!

Our 4th of July was laid back, we skipped the parade and events around town and just hung out at home, enjoying the nice weekend. The girls played on the water slide, experimented with every form of water imaginable in the back yard, including ice cubes containing secret gems, and made a lot of flower soups. We all went shopping and one afternoon Grandma Sue and I trekked down to Girdwood for a solo afternoon with Harper, while the other two went with Craig on a park date. All the hang out time at home also allowed Craig to get the chicken coop built in the backyard; the girls even occasionally “helped” him build it.

The following weekend resulted in a couple park visits in between rain and some time spent on the Saturday Market rides. The girls all rode with Craig on the big ferris wheel (not my favorite thing to ride-aka heights), and while Reagan was the most nervous of the three, all shared big smiles as they went around. Emerie ended up yelling from the ground that she could see Craig’s leg tattoo when they were at the top, which she thought was exciting. Everyone enjoyed several carousel rides with Grandma Anne in tow and sucked down some shaved ice and lemonade. It will be fun to see how they do with the fair rides next month…I’m betting we will have to pry them off by the end of the day.

Girls night this month meant Grandma Anne creating a smorgasbord of food options and served the children as they demanded (asked?) for more of everything. Dinner and a show with fancy dresses, fancy hair and a picture! in true Douglet style, followed by sparkling apple juice, fruit, veggies and other delectables.

Emerie, Pella and a TBD named chicken

This month Emerie found a new bestie, whom she named Pella (NOT Bella, she insists), and she lives in the form of a chicken. She’s great at spotting her (lightest feathers) and loves to take the darn thing all over the yard, snuggle her in her dress, and scold her for pooping on the deck. She constantly expects this poor chicken to be obedient and listen to instruction. It’s hilarious to listen to a four-year-old complain that her beloved chicken won’t listen to me and inspires frustration….I wonder what that feels like!

Fourth of July fanciness

One afternoon at preschool pickup, I told the girls I wasn’t feeling well (air pressure change headache). On the drive home, all three informed me that I needed to drink more water, I needed a blanket on while I sit on the couch when we get home; then that I need to make them dinner and eat it. After that, I was told I’d feel better if I went to sleep in my bed and didn’t work the next day. Very specific, but well thought out steps from my four-year-old clan!

As the Facebook world already knows, our kitty cat Rafi was hit by a car in front of our house a couple days after the holiday. While this kind of thing happens in life, we weren’t quite ready to share the concept of death and heaven with the girls, opting to do just that after some discussion. Over the past two weeks we still receive the random questions, such as is the black kitty STILL dead? or does Rafi have to be in heaven?!, things of that nature as they try to work out the new concept in their heads. This whole event taught me a couple things as a parent: 1) the girls are resilient and can handle the truth on some, big life things, 2) they ask insightful questions as they learn something new about life, and 3) they can be very sweet when they want to and care for their animals.

Another insightful tip? Flower daisy bouquets are a HUGE hit in this house. The flowers were intended to be grave decorations, but never actually made it that far. Instead, the girls’ good intentions were side tracked by their creativity, taking their bouquets and creating play food, soups and everything you can imagine. I will definitely buy random bouquets in the future, just to take apart and play with.

Sleepyheads IN THEIR BEDS!!!

For the first time in almost 4 1/2 years, the girls ALL slept six nights in a row in their room, without climbing into my bed or the guest room. While six nights in a row doesn’t sound like a massive accomplishment (a thought I would have had pre-parenthood), it’s huge for this house. It’s about as big as a miracle. It’s been such a long time, with lack of consistent sleep a normal reality for the adults for years now. Harper continues as the rock star sleeper, not even batting an eye at six nights, while Emerie and Reagan remain the challenge to keep in their room, a challenge we are hopefully tackling.

The achievement of five days gained the girls an ice cream shop trip and a goodie! Everyone knew the treat came after school and constantly asked when we were going; Harper and Emerie opted for chocolate ice cream and Reagan wanted cotton candy…every wanted sprinkles.

It feels strange walking into the nursery each morning for school, since I’m so used to creeping around the house with one still asleep in my bed, usually Reagan. I’m holding my breath this trend will continue and that we are slowly getting out of the baby/toddler loop of assisted sleeping arrangements.

Another exciting milestone occurred this month…soccer!! The girls started preschool soccer this week for the first time. This month’s torrential downpour paused for the first night of fun and overall the 45 minutes went about as expected. They all participated in the first five minutes of stretching and it went a bit downhill from there. It is quite cute watching them do jumping jacks!

Harper had her good moments of listening and running back-and-forth, Reagan had her good moments of the same, and Emerie was by far the least excited to participate and opted to stay sitting at Craig‘s feet for most of the session. She found entertainment in wearing all of the portable chair bags rather than running around with a soccer ball like the other kids. At one point she was jumping on top of her soccer ball and falling as it slid out from under her, laughing from the ground. Luckily she found her groove the second night and really enjoyed it.

It’s still a mystery who will want to pursue the sport, but I hope at least one or two of them find a love for it like I did as a child (and adult). Not only is it less expensive than dance and hockey, but it’s a great sport to learn, promotes healthy movement and fun with friends, and one that Craig or I could help coach in the future. Harper has a love of running and speeding anywhere, making her an easy fit to play forward or midfield as she gets older and into a more organized version of it. Reagan had some fun moments kicking her ball and might be able to find her niche too; the jury is still out on Miss Emerie.

Other notables this month include walks in the (never ending) rain, playing outside with umbrellas, ice cream truck visits, picking fresh raspberries, and painting! Once the weather improves a bit, we will get out and about for fireweed picking, blueberry picking and other late summer outdoor adventures. And we all know fall is around the corner…I will try to hold onto one more month of summer before I get excited for the season change!

Whirlwind Week with Family

It’s been six years since I last saw my brother and his family, who live down in Washington. Six years is quite a long time, especially considering four additional kids were added between the two families since we last saw one another, several job changes and a lot more grey hair (or just less hair in general?!). To make up for lost time and no major traveling during the pandemic, we crammed a TON of things into the past week during their Alaska visit; equally quite a whirlwind of fun.

I’ve looked forward to this week for ages. I love that Craig’s family is not only large and full of a lot of spirit (you know who you are), but also the fact that they are close by in other cities in Alaska, and often travel to or through Anchorage so the girls really know their extended family, cousins, grandparents, and so on. My side of the family is not only significantly smaller in comparison, but the few members I do have are far away or have chosen to live their lives apart from ours and not know the girls. It’s never bothered me to have a small family (one brother versus Craig’s seven siblings), because close friends who love you as part of their family is all that’s really needed and we have many of them! It is also a marriage perk to be brought into a big family dynamic. This week definitely warmed my heart, seeing my brother and sis-in-law and nephews, watching all the kiddos interact and get to know one another, and spending time with my side of the family after so long and introducing them to some of Craig’s side.

After throwing the kids together into forced friendship and insisting everyone are cousins, we stopped off at the park to get some energy out and let the bonding begin, then loaded up into two vehicles to venture out to the reindeer farm for an afternoon of exploration. The weather turned out perfectly, not too hot or cold with sun by the end, some snacks (for the kids and the reindeer) and fireweed ice cream (hated by the boys but enjoyed by the girls), and horse rides! The kiddos especially liked feeding the reindeer, more so this year because of the fence buffer that kept pushy animals from force feeding themselves. Last year the girls were less than impressed at the frenzy of reindeer excitement around them and more concerned about their safety.

While feeding the moose and reindeer were enjoyable and produced lots of preschool conversations and questions; the big, afternoon hit revolved around horseback rides for all, playing in the big sandbox filled with sand toys and dinosaurs, and climbing in the giant tubing and rolling back and forth. The latter was especially fun for Aunt Jenny, who ended up rolling around with a couple kids in tow and a lot of giggling. Reagan enjoyed the horse rides the least of the group for some reason, especially since she was so excited to do it upon arrival. Everyone else was all smiles, waiting for their turns. I am also happy to report we wrangled a driving nap out of four of the five kiddos on the way home.

Another activity of the week, planned since the canceled 2020 trip, was family photos. My excitement for this has spanned two years and is probably more realistic now that the girls are four. Ate age two, it very very difficult to contain the wildness, let alone get them to focus on a camera and smile. So with five kids under eight, four adults, a lot of mosquitoes, and a million promises of Swedish fish gummies and ice cream bites in return for smiles, we managed to get some good ones.

Family photos are always chaotic, but the end product is absolutely worth the behind-the-scenes effort. It is no small task to match multiple kids, redo hair and clothing, and strive to keep them clean until picture time. This is the first time we didn’t drive out to the valley for our summer session, which was a lot simpler logistically! I also realized after our session that we forgot to do a couple with just the girls together and then just the boys together, but in the chaos of it all, our photographer did a great job capturing some precious moments between our families and even pulled some smiles out of the boys.

If you are curious about our amazing photographer, his website is here!

After pictures Jenny and I took the kids over to the jump park, as promised to the boys for a good photo session; after about thirty minutes the girls were completely over the busy day and maniacs from exhaustion. We ended up going home with everyone crying and doing a quick dinner from Taco King and letting everyone calm down. Busy, busy day!

The next afternoon Craig and I ambitiously trekked down to the Kenai Peninsula sans any other adult entertainers (that sounds wrong!), i.e. Grandma Sue, which greatly helped our survival last summer. We now know the key to prepping and packing for a trip is to drop the girls off at preschool for the morning and packing and loading the car while they burn energy at school. This genius plan allowed us to get everything ready to go, the house cleaned and yard trimmed and watered, and on the road by 1:30 in the afternoon. This, however, did not result in a nap on the drive down. It did result in a LOT of snacks and a movie, and we made it all the way into Sterling without stopping.

While my children are definitely bigger sassers and back-talkers than when we did this trip last year, they are also a bit more responsible than their three-year-old selves, making hanging out much easier than last summer. Even in the midst of the “full moon attitude” never ending this month, they are more content running around the yard, playing with buckets of water and nets on the dock, and even minimal movement activities like coloring at the kitchen counter. It is definitely more manageable now to be away from home for a few days, and really great when additional family members are in tow. It is also a breath of fresh air after some previously difficult outings when they were younger and nice to feel a bit more normal.

We spent an exuberant amount of time playing out on the lake and enjoying the sun, riding the jet-skis and getting pulled behind it on the triple-seated float. The girls started out a little tense and nervous on the first ride with me, but by the end of the day were pros and all asking to ride it again and again. It was quite hilarious to hear their shrieks of joy from all the way across the lake, that turned from fear to bliss throughout the day. The boy cousins joined in too and the adults took turns riding in the float while Craig or Miss Becky drove.

Most of the first day was spent outside before the girls actually went into the cold water; in fact, cousins Corbin and Elliot, who don’t live in Alaska, jumped off the dock long before the girls even dipped their feet in. By the end of the afternoon everyone was walking around in it, with Elliot running in circles and jumping off the dock. Harper was quite content reorganizing the rope on the dock and tying knots around things while Reagan and Emerie filled buckets of water from the lake and played with the mesh nets. Cousin Corbin mastered catching the tiny fish around the dock and showing them to everyone before re-submerging them; Elliot was happily jumping off the dock into the water on repeat. Aunt Jenny showed everyone how to direct the kayak (with a rope connected so the water didn’t take anyone way!) and the adults even managed some relaxation while the kids played. It was a really nice, normal afternoon that resulted in tired and tanned kiddos!

Everyone then hung out for family dinner at Jaren and Savaya’s house down the road. The kids mostly played around the yard or demanded to run circles around the fire pit…at least until Emerie fell into it. All in all, it was a wonderful, fun filled day, catching up with family and enjoying the midnight sun.

Our only hiccup that night was Reagan’s puffy eye, which resulted from her full on crash into the bathroom doorknob. It probably deserved some icing, but it happened right as everyone was headed to bed and we didn’t realize it was such a hit until the next morning. That or she just wanted to match Emerie’s left eye, which is still slightly droopy from her May surgery.

Reagan’s fancy eye and ice cream face!
Flowers for her Tyler

The next day we adventured over to a beach in Kenai to play with sand and collect pretty rocks, which were plentiful. The boys wandered down the coastline without a care in the world, checking things out and living the dream. Eventually Keegan ended up catching up to them to bring them back while Jenny and I found some really cool looking rocks. Since the fishing trip was a no go this year and we spent most of our time on the beach least year with great, family survival rates, we made sure to visit at least once over the weekend. Turns out it wasn’t sunny across the peninsula like at our weekend home base, and the girls weren’t quite as thrilled to play in the blowing wind and cold. After additional layers of hoodies and pants from the car, they collected pretty rocks and buckets of sand, flew kites, and picked the wildflowers. Emerie even picked a beautiful purple bouquet for Tyler.

Harper and the squeegee

After the beach adventure, lunch and some chocolate ice cream from the place with the giant cone that we kept driving by, the kids and I loaded into the boat and took a few turns around the lake with our host Joe. Elliot insisted he was having fun as long as he had a strong, death grip on both of my hands and I didn’t move. The highlight on the excursion, which likely looked ridiculous from the shore, was spinning in a few circles, trying to grab a squeegee that fell into the water. No children were injured in its retrieval and the girls thought it was hilarious when it took multiple tries to grab it. Harper then gave it a bunch of licks afterwards and “washed” the front windows as we rode back to the dock. Gross.

Through my normal torture methods, we ended our weekend adventure forcing the family into matching family T-shirts. Becky humored me and snapped some photos with her nice camera and after a week, I finally figured out a bribery candy the boys actually like…gummy worms!

It felt amazing to get out of town and a break from the mundane for a few days. It was also a much overdo family hang out with almost all of the girls’ cousins; we were missing cousin Chatum! The trip demonstrated that each year traveling gets much easier and less stressful than prior years. It’s about damn time!


We ended our vacation week at the Scottish Highland Games festival out in Palmer. Spending nearly six hours out in the sun, it is definitely our longest festival time since the girls were born and getting much easier to explore, entertain and contain the littles without complete parental burnout by the end of the excursion.

The girls sampled half the food at the event, eating dipping dots ice cream, several shaved ice flavors, hot dogs and French fries, and a ton of lemonade. They walked around the entire event, since we didn’t bring the wagon, and were quite the hit in their kilts, which matched Craig’s. We stopped at the bathroom about a thousand times, taking those kilts on and off and on and off. At one point I even dropped my phone in the toilet; after giving it (and my hands) a solid soap scrub, Emerie made sure to announce to the entire festival my mishap. Silly girl.

Harper and Emerie put a fire out at the fire truck with Dad while Reagan watched and all three climbed into the truck, asking the firefighter a ton of questions about switches and buttons inside the rig. I had to force them back out; they didn’t want to get down. We checked out the ax throwing booth, Craig’s favorite, and the girls looked at all the custom made axes. We watched the local dance groups for a few minutes, something that brought out major excitement in Harper, who asked the rest of the afternoon to go back and see them.

The musical entertainment that afternoon consisted of two sets of unrelated twins: the Harptwins and the Volfgang Twins. It was so random! We wandered over to the stadium before the show and took a photo of everyone- the girls were shy and unsure about adults that look identical. I’m not sure I’ve ever met identical adults that dressed the same and it was a fun experience. I mean come on, how cute is this picture!

After spending the whole afternoon in direct sunlight, the girls didn’t fight sitting and watching the Harptwins’ show. Camille and Kennerly, on their second visit to the Highland Games, had a set full of twin jokes and sarcasm that was quite entertaining. They joked they mixed up who stood where on the set and that the audience didn’t appreciate all that effort…since you clearly can’t tell them apart. Harper was happy to sit on my lap and watch them in action on their harps; Emerie and Reagan eventually wandered off for another potty break and then face painting.

It was the first time I sat through any type of show since becoming a mom and much overdue and welcomed. The Volfgang Twins came out for the last several songs and the girls made it back with fancy face paint to watch them play on the big drums. By the end of the show we were all tired and loaded up and went home.

All in all, a great week of memories with family, friends, and adventure ❤

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.

Winter Woes

One ride before it was too cold

It’s official- we are down to only ONE baby gate in our house, that disconnects downstairs from upstairs! The loft/home office is now freely open to wandering toddlers, who occasionally graze on some dry cat food, hoping the parents won’t notice, and the gate on the girls’ bedroom is now packed away in the garage. We weren’t using it for more than a pet buffer and night in the last few months and figured it was time to embrace the freedom! I wonder how long until we will be a gate-less house, with kids wandering freely and not burning it to the ground out of adult eyesight.

Now that winter officially started, with about 18″ of snow over one twenty-four hour period followed by a dip to below zero temperatures outside, we are back to the normal cold, darkness, and try-our-best-to-entertain indoors until next spring. Daycare drop off and pickup for the next three months occurs under the cover of darkness and now the moon is visible some nights and always warrants a discussion.

Harper: Mom, drive faster! Catch the moon!

Reagan: Daddy has a fast car. Daddy could catch the moon.

Harper: Yeah, Daddy could catch the moon.

Such sass from the backseat! Other days similar sass occurs out of the blue, during a chore or a conversation. For example, the other night Emerie peeked around the bathroom door while Harper and Reagan were brushing their teeth, with a loud holler of you will never bring your family honor! and a door slam for dramatic effect. Guys, I can’t make this stuff up! Bonus points if you can guess that movie.

While we attempt to not watch too much television and come up with a variety of mind (and time) engaging activities- now that the girls actually enjoy watching shows and movies- it always proves interesting to watch anything with a group of toddlers.

For example, we watched Sleeping Beauty for the thousandth time the other night. The opening scene with Aurora walking and singing in the woods is accompanied with approximately a hundred, varied questions. Mom, where is she going? Why is she singing? Are the birds talking to her? How old is she? Where are her shoes? The scene then zooms out from the princess to the prince to bring up more toddler musings: Is that the prince? What’s his name? What’s his horse’s name? Why? Where is he going? Is he a boy? Do I need to continue or do you get the picture!

Everyone loves when Maleficent comes on the screen, but also hides their eyes or cowers under any nearby blanket. More comments arise such as she’s not a nice lady. Why isn’t she nice? She needs a spanking from daddy, really hard. She lives in a castle by herself? Why? And the plot continues.

Bedtimes continues to plague us, as it does for all toddler parents. Does anybody else have tiny minions that will do anything to get out of settling into bed each night?

Mom, I’m tired. Mom, I’m thirsty. Mom, I have to pee. Mom, I have a sharp nail. Mom, my arm is itching me. Mom, my butt hurts. Mom, I can’t pull my blanket up! My toes are cold! I don’t like blue stars; I want red ones.

What book reading looks like now

Other nights they fight over who sings a song, claim sister is waking them up by singing, or because one is serenading the other with happy birthday, which causes a screaming argument. Why? Well, it isn’t their birthday! And on other rare occasions, I get the joy of singing a song from Frozen at least a dozen times in a row, until they drift off to sleep.

We’ve essentially given up on bedtime book reading, which is unfortunate since witnessing them recite the stories from memory was incredibly cute and a good way to calm down for sleep. Some nights they will sit for a few moments on the couch and let us get through a short book, but in general someone is always goofing off, talking back, or fighting to prevent actual reading from taking place.

The past six weeks, before the joy of winter even hit, were more taxing on us parents the normal, everyday taxation we are used to, and I’m not just blaming covid for that! Post covid and quarantine, after the daily routine normalized, resulted in two ear infections, a triple stomach flu and Craig catching it too, and a pretty nasty follow-up cold, worse for me than the girls.

It definitely comes as no surprise, as I assumed half the winter months would be submersed in some kind of sickness. The girls did excellent at throwing up in the designated “throw up bowl” by the time we passed through the bug, and we probably did ten loads of laundry, all the beds, pajamas, blankets and so on before getting back to normal. The girls now ask why the puke bowl isn’t in their bedroom and like to tell people they “puked last night.”

Tiny tots!

The sicknesses resulted in a couple weeks with a kiddo at home for a day or two, on rotation, while Craig and I both attempted to get our meetings and work done. The princess laptop comes out on those days, since we just own one, and the girls are thrilled to “work” beside the parents as needed. On a busy morning, Emerie would comment that my “office was talking,” as emails and Teams calls came through the speakers.

Reagan’s last ear infection put us near the threshold of considering ear tubes for her this winter and a follow up appointment in December to discuss with ENT. Emerie’s latest eye doctor appointment unfortunately showed more regression from the progress we made over the summer and fall on her eye straightening, and will result in another procedure next month as well.

December appears to be quite a busy month, not to mention the holidays in addition to illnesses, procedures, work and everyday life. Guess we will too busy to be cold…right?