(Four)ces of Nature

For this year’s birthday blog I want to compare and contrast the differences and similarities to my three little minions, who are no longer toddlers and full on preschoolers (that’s for you Sara!). I have to continually resist the urge to keep calling them toddlers, probably because my brain still can’t agree so much time has passed into parenthood.

And while I can’t recall half of the major events and milestones we accomplished this past year, there are certainly a few that are easy to remember.

Age Three Changes

Bye bye binkies

I can’t decide if this or the toddler bed transition was the most significant change in age three. It was definitely a major stresser last spring when we cornered ourselves into taking them away under a deadline. Reagan needed her front tooth pulled and that meant cutting them off for all three, especially considering Reagan was our #1 binkie fan. If you’ll remember, we did an elaborate “binkie fairy” scheme over the span of a week and slowly required the girls to give them away to other babies in need. Looking back this went better than expected and after a month or so they stopped asking for them. The first week or two was a bit rough but we made it through!


Big girl beds

We pulled off this change last August and decimated our wonderful nap time in the process. The girls were very excited to have big girl beds, even trying to help Dad build them out in the garage, but once reality set in, they only slept uninterrupted (all three) maybe two nights since then.


We miss you naps!

The girls were (mostly) fantastic throughout age two at giving us a nap from 1:30 to 3:30 time frame, sometimes stretched to 4:00 but no later than that or bedtime was rough. I believe we earned those longer naps, since they barely gave us any stretch in the earlier days. Age two nap success only occurred when one parent sat in the nursery arm chair, which was okay because it gained two hours of greatly appreciated silence and a strong mental reset for the adults each day.

I remember wondering how we would survive the loss of the afternoon nap and now that it’s happened, it just means grumpier girls in the late afternoon and early evening and longer days, but not the end of the world.

The girls still nap at school, although not as long. We decided pushing it at home wasn’t worth the stress when they wouldn’t settle down and that was a good call, And we still get the occasional afternoon car nap on a busy day- which is amazing- but most afternoon quiet time looks more like this (picture).


New Preschool!

As you all know, we were not drama free on childcare for the girls. We rolled into age three without one altogether, with Craig and I both working full time from home at the same time and Grandma Sue popping in and out from Juneau to keep us all alive and sane. We transitioned to a new place in early July and it has been truly wonderful. The girls adore their teacher and teacher aides and school setting, they feel comfortable and excel at their activities and in the atmosphere, and Craig and I can rest assured that they are treated well and loved while we are at work.


Weekend trips!

I was so excited to do a couple weekend trips last summer and finally felt they might be survivable and (while stressful) fun for the whole family. I undoubtedly looked like a complete basket case (or lunatic) preparing for the multi-day trips (and packing for them), but I am very glad we went and made the memories. The first trip meant set net fishing down in Kasilof for one weekend, with lots of playtime on the beach, fresh air and kiddo avoidance of the questionable “icky” fish. The second went into backcountry Alaska by four wheeler, adventuring to an off-the-beaten-path cabin sans electricity. Everyone made it back in one piece and we will definitely attempt more trips this summer!

Other Mentionables!

Car seat buckling

The girls all buckle themselves into their car seats now. It doesn’t sound like a major life skill, but it’s such a timesaver when loading three kids into the car constantly. This life skill can be contributed to lollipop “encouragement” at daycare pickup every afternoon, but nonetheless is a win in my book! We have come a HUGE way on getting to the car without any random parking lot running and minimal meltdowns in the past year and it’s amazing! Those lollipops also greatly helped in learning our colors…


Surgeries, Patching & a Tooth Pull

As noted above, Reagan had her front tooth pulled back in May and was a rock star throughout the whole procedure, even proclaiming her love for the pediatric dentist who freed her broken tooth. The donut she demanded afterwards indicated her pain tolerance is pretty great for a kid!

Emerie had two Botox eye procedures over the past year, one in June and another last month. As usual she was a total trooper and came out of anesthesia like such a big girl; it’s really nice it’s easier as she gets older! She also continues to proclaim her love for Dr. Winkle and Harper and Reagan both jealously demand to attend her visits. Morning patching continues to be a bit of a fight but overall she cooperates greatly and is such a strong girl.


Covid & Quarantine

It might be fair to say those two weeks were the toughest for the whole year (until I remember working full time with no daycare for five months), although the intense sicknesses around Christmas might be a close second. Timing worked out nicely for our brush with the pandemic, meaning it was deep into fall but not winter and we could play out in the yard while stuck at home. Craig and my symptoms also managed to be a few days apart and that helped tremendously with keeping kiddos entertained (and survival). And, of course, it’s no surprise to say we were thrilled the girls had mild symptoms and felt okay.


More Cousin Visits

The last thing to note is the more frequent visits from the cousins, now that Tyler and Jaren are in easier proximity to Anchorage. The girls adore their cousins and while they can’t seem to ever call them the right names, they constantly request them to come play, pretend call them and talk, draw pictures for their fridges, and carry their photos around the house (and fight over them).

And in case you need me to decipher who is who….Tyler is Tyler, Jaren is Tyler, and Chatum is Jaren. Someday they might get it right….

Tell me about the girls!

Keep in mind that while they are all the same age and mentality, they are all very different. Their likes and dislikes, while constantly changing at this age, greatly vary between the three. It highlights that they are individuals while also sharing many other things together. Here’s are some individual details for each kiddo!

Harper Anne

Harper is an easy going girl that loves to be on the go, speeding on her bike or adventuring around town. She appoints herself the boss a lot and can be stubborn when she thinks she is right on something. She excels at sleeping in her bed, always wants to wear shorts and dresses, and has a love for her ballet flats.

Height/Weight: 42.25″, 37.6 pounds

Favorite Activities: riding balance bikes (speeding around on them really), dance class, anything relating to princesses, and playing dress up. She loves to spend her day in dresses, fancy shoes and a crown and making silly faces for pictures.

Dislikes: anything that moves slowly, the fact she has to wear pants ever, and being woken up abruptly when in her bed. She hilariously dragssssss herself out of bed, limbs not working and mouth sassing.

Favorite movies/shows/music: Fancy Nancy, Rapunzel’s Adventures, and pretty much any princess movie. Her favorite song is “Northwind” from Frozen II, that the mom sings to Anna and Elsa at the beginning of the movie.

Favorite Princess: Aurora and Belle

Favorite Color: black, then pink

Favorite Food: black olives, steak and french fries (pretty sure this is close to my favorites too)

Favorite Animal: When asked, her favorite animals are animals with stripes. In reality, she adores her Little Seal and Big Seal (because we somehow bought the same stuffed animal in two sizes!). She also loves petting her kitties, who have warmed up to her presence after four years.

When asked what she wants to be, she responded instantly, a ballerina!


Emerie Faye

Emerie is our go getter that constantly sings let it goooo or demands we don’t talk about Bruno! She can be introverted and enjoys independent play, being at home and spending her days in Elsa dresses. She adopted the guest bedroom and gets up in the middle of every night to relocate to it, promptly going back to sleep.

Height/Weight: 41.75″, 34.2 pounds

Favorite Activities: Independent play in general, collecting and carrying tiny things around, any water activities (and drowning our bathrooms constantly), building magnatiles, dress up, and watching/coloring anything relating to Elsa and Anna from Frozen. She is a homebody and enjoys staying home and playing, often requesting to go home to play when we are out and about.

Dislikes: wearing her glasses all the time and eye patching in the mornings, wearing socks with her shoes, sleeping in her toddler bed, being outside in the cold, hair bows (usually), and black olives and pizza.

Favorite movies/shows/music: She also loves Frozen I and II and pretty much all princess movies; if she had to choose a favorite to watch, Cinderella and Snow White are towards the top. Hands down her favorite song is Let It Go, which she calls the castle song! PJ Masks is also an up and coming favorite, as well as Encanto and Cinderella II.

Favorite Princess: Elsa and Aurora

Favorite Color: purple, duh! She also has a purple unicorn dress she wants to wear everyday.

Favorite Food: Cheese quesadillas with sour cream. She would eat them every day if allowed.

Favorite Animal: When asked she claimed caterpillars and raccoons (surprisingly), but I would also claim her beloved “Monk” monkey and her stuffed owl are on that list.

When asked what she wants to be, she responded a purple Elsa! Who am I to deny that creativity?!


Reagan Jean

Reagan is our shyest of the three and more emotional than her sisters. She adores all crafting, painting, coloring and cooking and excels at staying in the lines on her creations. She also loves Daddy’s four wheeler and bringing her stuffed pandas everywhere.

Height/Weight: 42.25″, 37.4 pounds

Favorite Activities: Coloring daily, painting, dancing to music (she’s a booty shaker, what can I say!), creating with play dough, cooking with Grandma Sue and taste testing the flour, playing dress up and playing pretend with her stuffed animals. Now that it’s light outside after preschool, she really enjoys playing by herself on the back deck.

Dislikes: sleeping in her bed overnight or being left alone, getting her hair brushed, and her socks not fitting right!

Favorite movies/shows/music: While Reagan likes princess movies, her absolutely favorite is the movie Abominable, about her beloved Everest, the yeti. Sleeping Beauty is likely her favorite princess movie if she had to choose, and she’s also a fan of PJ Masks. Her favorite song is Pink’s Cover Me in Sunshine, which is renamed Grandma’s Song.

Favorite Princess: Elsa and Aurora

Favorite Color: blue, then green, then white!

Favorite Food: Her favorite food right now is hash browns, which she wants each day for breakfast; otherwise cheeseburgers and apples top the list.

Favorite Animal: Without question, this girlie is panda everything. She sleeps with two stuffed pandas every night. When asked her favorite, she responded pandas and bunnies.

When asked what she wants to be, she immediately answered a painter! Given her creativity and artistic ability we already see at age three, this could be pretty realistic.


And some other fun questions to ask, just for memories’ sake!

What are some similarities all three share? What are the biggest differences? Of the three, Harper is the most outgoing by far, Emerie is the most stubborn (if I had to choose one!) and Reagan is the most in touch with her feelings. Harper adamantly wants to go fast ALL the time while Emerie wants the opposite, and Reagan goes back and forth depending on the day. Reagan extensively enjoys coloring in the lines while Harper and Emerie continue their “eclectic toddler style” creations. All three enjoy cooking and baking, but when it comes to decorating things, Emerie is speedy and done in five minutes, Harper goes back and forth depending on her mood, and Reagan will insist you leave her alone until the masterpiece is completed, which may be a while.

What is the biggest personality difference? Emerie is a homebody and loves to stay home. The other two are more up for adventuring. Harper seems best at going with the flow while the other two often whine about things.

Who is the best sleeper? Worst? Harper maintains her status as the best sleeper of the group, which is nothing new for the last few years. She loves sleeping in her bed and being cozy, unlike Reagan and Emerie, who want parents nearby or prefer to wander into the guestroom to finish their night of sleep.

Who is Team Mom and Team Dad? Harper seems to still be on the mom train, while Reagan shifted alliances over the past year from Dad back to me. Emerie, on the other hand, is a complete daddy’s girl now. Everyone continues to be completely enthralled by Papa Lon and adore their Grandma Sue and Papa Cliff. Grandma Anne visited twice last year and the girls still ask about more tea parties. And of course you can’t forget about Auntie Megan weekends, Auntie Janelle visits, and all the new friends that were made this year.

If you ask them who is the boss…who is it?! 100% of the time the answer is Grandma (Sue) is the boss! followed by Mom and Dad and Miss Tawni. We’ve got this down!

Who is the cutest? Um, silly question there, it’s ALL OF THEM.

And I’ll end our fourth birthday post on that fun note. I still can’t believe they are so cute. And four. FOUR! What?!

Veins of Glitter

The past month passed in a breeze! Not sure if that credit goes to a busy work load or the increased sunlight. It was a nice break to have no major illnesses like during the holidays and a visit from Grandma Sue brought excitement for the girls and a welcomed break for us tired-out parents.

Fancy Grandma

Everyone is on a major dress up kick, begging to wear princess dresses after school, showing up to school with bejeweled crowns and tutus, fancying up their outfits with lots of necklaces, beaded bracelets and sparkly rings, and don’t forget Grandma’s fancy princess heels! Tutus are not easily found these days and I’ve likely purchased every single one I could find locally, encouraging the girls to choose their color preferences and wear them whenever they’d like. Sometimes a princess dress just isn’t enough and they require an additional tutu to complete the full look. Lugging around backpacks and purses, like mom does, also helps accessorize the styles and occasionally I’ll find them adding hats and mittens for a more winter friendly feel. The worst part about this dress up stage? Getting your foot stomped on by one of those damn heels- it hurts!!

In addition to getting so beautiful (their words), they inflicted the “beauty is pain” mantra back on their grandmother during an extended hair and jewelry session one afternoon. Luckily for them, Grandma Sue boasts a great head of long hair to play with, resulting in many hair clips, bows, fake colorful hair and adorning necklaces to complete her upgraded look. It is safe to say it also included some ouches and possibly loss of hair or skin cells; but hey, beauty is pain…right?

The girls continuing to play together more and show creativity in their free play. For example, Harper will get all dressed up and accessorized, find a purse, shopping cart and animal or baby companion, and let me know she is going to the shopping store! This usually entails getting foods to “cook” for dinner and when questioned on what type of store, she always responds a shopping store. When they were smaller she always responded with Lowes or Target. Reagan often goes down to the family room and plays solo with her toys; seemingly enjoying her own space and playing islands, a game Nolan and Josiah created a couple weeks ago on a play date, or with her princesses. If you sneak up on her, you can witness her singing to herself! Now that daylight exists after school pickup, Emerie wants to play out on the deck or spiral in circles on the swings in the backyard. This is a great step from her adamant disdain for outdoor cold and gets her some space when her sisters are doing other things.

Life is a party, so why not dress like it?!

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The expanded independence on free play also shows Harper and Reagan becoming thick as thieves and teaming up against or excluding Emerie more often than I’d like to see. They will lock themselves in the bathroom (you know, to make a huge mess) and purposely won’t let Emerie, who really wants to, join; even when they are being naughty. They seem to come up with other little games and not readily let her in on them; a cycle I plan to break quickly and discourage as they get older. Having two kids, any two, generally results in good play; adding in a third is a constant issue that I’m not sure will ever really go away.

Reagan and Harper playing outside together

The tattle tailing saga continues, and while annoying, it can also be so hilarious. For example, two were downstairs playing nicely the other night until I could heard some sort of disagreement and Emerie hollered something indistinctly. Reagan, the CEO of the tattler department in our house, comes running into the kitchen to inform the adults that Emerie said Daddy’s word! She said daddy’s word! Now all of you that know my explicit and creatively worded husband know that, well…that could mean anything right? We tell Reagan to stop tattling and Emerie to calm it with the explicits; but in true Douglas style, Harper, who witnessed all this from the kitchen table, looks at me with a smile and responds in a serious whisper, Mom, Daddy’s word is f&$k. I about died laughing at her very dead-serious face. At least they know they aren’t supposed to say it!

Moving on from the lovely life expletives, Grandma Sue’s visit was full of all kinds of baking fun. The girls cooked in all kinds of attire including aprons, tutus, full princess decor and even sunglasses throughout the almost two week stay. Each kiddo requested something specific from the moment she set foot off the airplane, including breaded Olaf’s, cookies (Reagan claims Craig and I don’t make them for her which is funny!) and lots and lots of homemade donuts. All participated in different steps for each goodie and you better believe all wanted to eat them! Sue even placated their color demands and made black, green AND purple donuts, as requested by those irresistibly adorable faces. If you were wondering, the colors looked like a Halloween party was about to happen. The M&M cookie bars were also quite the hit, with everyone starting super slow, placing one M&M at a time into the batter. After a few minutes watching each kiddos’ separate pattern, Emerie decided the start “the Emerie method,” meaning throw everything in at once with super speed and vanish to do something else.

The girls attended their second theater movie but first time with Craig and I. Right after they started at the new daycare last summer, the whole class attended a real movie and they claim to remember going to it. Only one other family was in the whole room as we watched Trolls World Tour and munched on mounds of popcorn. By the end everyone visited the bathroom at least once and switched seats to snuggle with a different adult. All three are already asking to go again- we might have to make that happen since they did so well sitting and being quiet throughout.

The big fourth birthday is right around the corner, which means the work stress I’ve felt from the last month is converting into party planning stress. It also means we are almost out of winter and spring is (almost) on it’s way. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this next season; we’ve waited a long time to be able to go out and about and have fun without worrying they will run off or not be able to handle new routine!

All three are aware that the next birthday is theirs (even though all claim to be turning five!) and explain after them is Tyler and then Kaden’s. My mind still resists the idea that my fourth year of parenting is about to begin and then other times I forget they are still so young, since vocabularies are as expansive as their thoughts and opinions!

No Worse for (Winter) Wear

All in all early January was pretty subdued and without too much excitement (good or bad!). The high point of winter means dark days, various illnesses, busy work hours, and a lot of entertaining the littles indoors since the cold air seems to make them cough more.

Craig and I took all three to the doctor this week just to ensure we aren’t missing something on the prolonged coughing fits. It’s been a bit since a triple pediatrician visit and it started out super strong, with all three hanging out and “reading” their mini princess books and cooperating with each other; by the end of the visit they were climbing the walls of the waiting area and ready to go. They all did unusually well at obeying the doctor, who checked lungs, ears, nose and mouth with great cooperation. The pediatrician confirmed everyone just has a viral cough, not croup, not COVID, not RSV, not pneumonia from me (thank goodness), just a mild, fever-less cough. Good news I guess!

A few fun outings have happened in the past two weeks. I ventured out to the valley with Megan and the boys, getting a solid driving nap on our way out, and spent a full afternoon and evening at the play center in Wasilla. It was our first visit and the girls loved the climbing area, spending a lot of time going up and down and chasing each other. At some point Reagan went down the big slide at the top so Emerie followed her, which resulted in a tearful discussion of I went down the REALLY big slide and it was scary. It hurt me! Needless to say, she only went down it once.

We devoured snacks, rode the tiny train and spinner rides multiple times, and played a few games. The girls all enjoyed the basketball one and even made some hoops; watching all three play at once is definitely a good source of entertainment. In several cases the ball hit the rim and immediately ricochet straight into someone’s face- causing quite the moment of laughter. Calm down, the balls were much softer than real basketballs….which aren’t so fun when colliding with your nose. The girls enjoyed any game that involved whacking things and tested out their fruit ninja skills with Oaki. Toward the end of the night we watched a few friends race around the track on the other side of the center, with five very excited littles watching. I did not plan to be out until after 8 on a school night (who are we kidding, any night), but the visit went so well the time passed quickly.

It was wonderful to feel more like what I assume “normal” parents feel like during outings. I wasn’t chasing the kids around the whole time to not lose them, wasn’t stressed out and hoping for time to be over so we could go home; I was actually enjoying an afternoon with my girls and not feeling impending stress. Everyone was clearly tired as we loaded up about the time we’d normally be settling down for bedtime, and managed to keep them awake and entertained (annoyed) the entire hour drive with all the favorite Disney tunes…Frozen, Encanto, Home, and so on. And of course, more snacks.

Outings over the past month or two continue to be stroller-less, which is quite the change over the past three years. I should say, stroller-less AND survivable, for the most part. The snow plays a small factor is containment as we walk into a store or the jump park, but overall we are just getting better at it. Excluding the few horrible times that are sprinkled throughout the good trips, it is wonderful to be able to walk from the car to the destination and not haul a thousand things. Not all times are smooth or wonderful, like the other day when I picked up the girls at preschool. They proceeded to run from the gym across the whole school lobby and to the front door with their dresses pulled down to their waists, shoes littering the floor and bare chests on display, and would not listen or come back to me. Those are the beautiful memories to hold onto when they are older…right? The jump park is another spot that one parent can easily take all three and keep the damage to a minimum and it’s really nice.

The girls are currently all on a dress up kick, and while you’d assume Harper would be leading that charge with her love of all things pink, black and princessery, Emerie is currently the one obsessed with her Snow White two piece outfit from Uncle William at Christmas. The past few weeks she’s worn it to school over her clothes a number of times and every night the battle of convincing her it isn’t pajamas occurs. Harper is more into the tutus, dress up heels and crown headbands while Reagan occasionally accepts an article of clothing, especially when delivered by her sisters; overall her favorite “dress-up” article of clothing is the plain green hat from June and January, which she constantly wears and carts around. The other evening Reagan was wearing a pink princess cloak and Harper called her out, claiming she can’t wear pink, you’re Reagan and you wear blue! It’s funny to say, but we definitely hit the nail on the head on who correlates to what color, since we didn’t make the call based on personality at birth. Harper loves girly and pink things, Emerie likes purple (also blue but not the point) and Reagan appears to be the tomboy and prefers teal and blue when given the option.

Snoozing on the way to the valley’s play center.

And then, when you take away the color from a picture, it’s VERY hard to tell who is who, even more so with eyes shut and sans glasses! Don’t you think?!

We have returned to the question phase about my name, with the constant why do we call you mom but Kaden calls you Becca? Can we call you Becca? Daddy’s name is Craig; my mom’s name is Becca, but we don’t call her Becca. So many complicated thoughts to work out.

Many other kiddo musings are fun to interpret and not often understand unless one is paying attention. These types of things must contribute to mom brain, since the lack of understanding their intent often results in rage and meltdowns…so one must store these jewels in their mind until the kid moves onto the next one. I enjoy writing them down, since it shows their quirks and what things they enjoy and latch onto!

Last year the main example of this related to listening to or watching Pan, more commonly known as Tangled or Rapunzel to everyone else on earthy, and they still call her that to this day, but others are definitely popping up into every day conversation. Like when Emerie asks me to play the castle song or the horse song in the car, can you guess those ones from Frozen? She’s referring to Let It Go, the song where Elsa builds the castle while she sings and the song in Frozen II when she wrangles the horse. Reagan is now a huge Rihanna fan, insisting each night that I play the shadow song, which refers to one of Rihanna’s songs from the movie Home, where she sings about the sun and a shadow. Reagan constantly sings that chorus or hums it to herself. Everyone requests the bubble song from the same movie, referring to the main opening scene when all the Boov people come to earth in their bubbles. As mentioned in a previous blog, my favorite interpretation to anything are the requests for the crack house movie (Encanto).

Who knows what requests will be next, but I can’t wait to see. We are gaining five minutes of daylight a day, everyone is starting to get healthier from their coughs, and I can sit and write this on my long-awaited, new living room couch; things are already starting to look up!

Hanging onto that Holiday Spirit

This holiday season the girls are no longer fearful of the jolly red man and acted like such big girls meeting him earlier this month. We overdressed everyone in their fancy Christmas dresses and loaded up in negative six degree temperatures for a quick visit.

So very Alaskan of us, the passenger door of the car wouldn’t latch due to the cold, so we drove there manually holding it shut so we wouldn’t miss our reserved time slot.

The girls all approached cautiously but without cowering, which is much more impressive than last year, which even had a anti-covid glass divider at the time. They talked to him and quietly answered his inquiries and questions. When asked for their names, Harper and Reagan were more silent while Emerie responded for all three. The funniest response was all three telling Santa that they don’t ever fight! Insert major eye roll here, since we ALL know that definitely isn’t the truth!

This holiday season was full of colds, ear infections and pneumonia! Not exactly a great combination for a fun filled holiday experience, but we managed to enjoy it as much as possible, went to the gingerbread town downtown, decorated cookies a few times, colored a million ornaments, and spent a great deal of time at home.

Even with all the illness, the girls made it to almost every school day, with most symptoms seeming to appear over weekends or allowing ear infections to improve before school starts back up for the week. Each morning at breakfast the girls have a rotating request for one animals friend to attend work with us for the day and check on them after school. It’s pretty cute and so thoughtful they want us to have a friend, even if my office is only upstairs in the loft!

The girls vocabulary and explanations continue to improve and with that comes better stories about their school days. I try to ask what their favorite daily experience was at least a few days each week; sometimes they copy each other’s answers but overall everyone is getting better at individual responses. For example, they now explain games created at school. One afternoon’s favorites were Emerie playing hula hoops, Harper playing basketball with Elijah (one of the teachers aides) and Reagan’s response? Playing cows and chipmunks. After asking for clarification, she reiterated she played moooos and chipmunks with the boys that day. Another drive home prompted the response that Harper and Reagan played fall on me with Arlo and Gavin, and that this resulted in a smashed nose and tears but that the game was “so fun.” It’s intriguing to see my little pre-kindergartners start to grow and innovate their own playtimes at school, even if they sound painful!

You also get additional life advice from our big preschoolers, such as Harper’s leave your boobies out, take a shower, put your clothes on and go. Such demands and great wisdom!

After spending more time at home, especially the past few weekends, the girls get more creative during free playtime and interact more than simply fighting. Christmas Eve everyone made a subconscious decision to behave so I could relax on the couch and spent the day playing hide and seek, with their Christmas Eve present we opened that morning (mini backpacks), and finding other ways to play with each other. It was wonderful (and didn’t last lol).

Weather warmed up and cooperated enough for the first sledding adventure of the winter. Last year at this time it was more like our tenth sledding trip; this year has been so cold and full of sickness! Tyler trekked into town and participated in the fun and the girls were so thrilled. After a few minutes Emerie was entirely over the cold air and coughing, so Craig took her back home while Harper and Reagan continued going up and down the hill. Last year Harper was all about speeding down solo; this year Reagan seems to enjoy it more.

Not many other Christmas adventures happened this season, with pneumonia really laying me up and taking all my energy just to try to help Craig a little with the girls while I try to feel better. Luckily presents were wrapped earlier in the week and ready to roll under the tree, or I’m not sure we would have opened them. I gave up trying to find the Christmas stockings and ended up throwing all the planned nick knacks into their trick or treat buckets to go through, prompting some questions on if we were going trick or treating!

Christmas morning wasn’t anything too crazy, pretty relaxed in fact, with the girls patiently waiting to open anything until we gave the green light. It’s quite impressive that not a single curious child opened a present unsupervised this whole month! The method to my madness, last year and probably for many years to come, is to use the same wrapping paper for three gifts at a time, so everyone opens something the same or similar at the same time. Then a few other sets of presents were specifically chosen for the likes of each kiddo, which they all opened at once but were different things. Lastly a couple things were gifts for all to share, like a princess dollhouse Craig quickly built that morning that lets the Barbie doll princesses dance to music!

It took three days to open everything and we opted out of making a fancy Christmas dinner until the house is feeling better. It wasn’t a ton of gifts, but took so much energy and the girls wanted to play with their new treasures after opening each thing. Reagan had a few panda related things and a bazaar yeti I found, since she loves Abominable. Emerie opened a box of mini magnatiles, since she loves tiny things, a new, special holder for her glasses. Harper received several new outfits for her doll and pretty hair clips. Everyone opened a mini princess house with figurines inside (Pan’s tower, Aurora’s wooded house and Belle’s home) and traded around with each other. Aunt Jenny and Uncle Keegan sent a cool fairy house, horse stable and underwater mermaid “castle” that are providing some good entertainment and everyone likes the plastic, Frozen themed container from Papa Cliff. My mom made custom doll dresses for each kiddo during her visit that turned out really adorable! I’m unsure what the favorite presents are this year, since I never quite guess right, but I’d say the dress up clothes, Elsa braid pony tails and Grandma Sue’s princess heels top the list.

This Christmas didn’t quite turn out as planned, but I am very thankful I didn’t have this dreadful illness last year when the girls didn’t independently play very much yet. Also thankful for kiddos who now enjoy movies while parents can relax a bit, with many requests for Merida (Brave), Abominable, Frozen and our latest favorite, Disney’s new Encanto, which the children have conveniently renamed the crack movie. I can’t make that up folks, and really it’s an accurate description, the whole movie is about cracks in the house!

For all those wondering, we deferred Emerie’s eye surgery until January, since everyone needs to be healthier to have it! Reagan’s ENT follow up for tubes consideration will also be next month.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. Wishing and praying for a great 2022 when these girls will turn FOUR! Also praying everyone feels better and my energy returns.

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?