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.

Allergies and Veggies

The past several weeks have tested the parent patience levels like no other. While I won’t completely speak for Craig on that, by I personally feel incredibly burned out from the fighting, sickness, and overall day to day, more so than other times of hardship with the kiddos.

Good thing they are cute!!

The girls are still allergy ridden and not sleeping well overnight, after probably six months of decent sleeping in their room. We believe Reagan might be having some form of night terror or bad dream, as she will wake up fully screaming for us and then not remotely let us settle her back in her bed. Once in our room, she’s asleep in seconds, indicating maybe she wasn’t entirely awake for the episode. She also has no desire to go to sleep in her bed and has hour long meltdowns as we try to convince her to lay down and fall asleep, especially in days she is so overtired and her sisters are already asleep.

The allergies continue to plague our household, with a number of different nights resulting in a kiddo coughing so hard they throw up all over their bed, or our bed. After numerous doctor visits for a variety of different ailments, we continue to try new methods to help the girls feel better. The two, double ear infections for Harper and Reagan are insistent and want to stick around, with Harper on her second round of medicine and Reagan on her third!! We’ve also tried a steroid for all three to help with the throat cough, that all doctors visits have assured us is not remotely sitting in their lungs, and while it didn’t seem to make a difference right away; it appears to help a little on day two.

We’ve rotated ailments between kiddos enough that each one has been home without sisters at least a time or two this summer. I have to say it: one toddler at a time is WAY EASIER…even a sick one!! I tried to do something special with each when sisters are not around to disrupt, whether that’s playing with a fun toy and not having to guard it, getting a yummy lunch, or just having one-on-one time. If I am being honest, I find a little hardship in knowing that one three-year-old at a time would be so much more fun and enjoyable, allowing me to better appreciate moments and handle the fits and maturing, than daily trying to do so with all three, which is often less than enjoyable and stressful.

Harper was greatly enthused to go to the doctor by herself the first time, since 90% of our one-kid doctor visits over the past three years were for Reagan or Emerie. Reagan seems to be the toughest patient of the three, likely because she despises her ears getting cleaned out (I mean no one enjoys that…). Emerie is always excited to see Doctor Winkle for her eye and enjoyed seeing Doctor Magnesun for her broken nail in the door. Enjoyed might be a tad strong of a word for that visit, but she chatted throughout her appointment and didn’t shed a tear for the clean out. She did give lots of smiles for the stickers and paper bag with her name on it full of gauze and sterile water.

Another beautiful thing about kiddos close in age, or ones that have the same birthday: insurance! When more than one kiddo requires a medication but receives them a day or two apart, insurance responds in the “mind blown” shock that no, we cannot pick up two of the same medicine and the prescription is already filled. Craig has argued several times now that the second prescription is for a DIFFERENT kid and I’m guessing this denial will continue in the years to come. Just another thing to deal with…

While nights over the past month are long, with upset littles and tired parents, we do have shiny, daytime moments worth documenting!

For example, we’ve greatly improved on the please and thank you responses this summer. Occasionally we even hear a please may I, although that is rarely between the I wants and I need demands that normally transpire.

The toddler discussions are turning into fun banter. I really enjoy picking them up from daycare and chatting with everyone on the 10 minute drive home. Here’s a sample of some of the toddler thoughts:

Playing with sand

Me: so where do you guys work? Can you tell me?

Emerie (without missing a beat): I work at Costco!

Me: Oh yeah? What do you do at Costco? Drive a forklift?

Emerie: No, I have a cart and I take things off the shelf and put them in it.

Me: Oh, like a personal shopper!

Reagan: I work at Daddy’s work. I work there. I throw things in the trash can.

Harper: I work at Daddy’s work too. I color on paper.

Another drive home centered around dinner options:

Harper, “I want vanilla pasta with blue and raspberries for dinner!”

Emerie and Reagan: “and chocolate for taste!”

I still don’t know what “blue” tastes like but apparently it’s delicious. We have other chuckling moments at home, such as Reagan randomly exclaiming from the living room, “Guys, are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME!?” and turns to look at me with a “they took ALL the blankets. Those guys.” So dramatic!

There are other typical kid moments, Emerie is especially good at their delivery. One evening she had a good sized booger gravitating down her top lip; she looks up and says, “I picking it. I don’t need a tissue; I wipe it on my pants.”

The girls now fight over boogers and throw total fits when a sister wipes that mess on another. This seems to happen mostly during car rides and occasionally at home. Thanks to this summer’s allergies, everyone has excelled at blowing their noses and demanding tissues throughout the days.

One night while watching Snow White- the part with the mean queen and the impending poison apple- Harper comments “she not very nice! Daddy needs to lock her in the closet.” Can you tell we’ve watch Tangled recently, when Rapunzel locks Flynn in the closet in the beginning? Other “ass-whipping” comments occur on a number of less than nice Disney villains as well. Harper still reminds us when a fellow sister needs one.

Not all drives from daycare have the happy chats- some days we get reports of naughtiness that result in no beloved lollipop. Harper learned this detriment one day after a note she bit her sister for the second or third day in a row! (No idea wtf was going on with her that week!). The brutality of it all, that mom wouldn’t give her a celebratory lollipop to enjoy on the way home like both her sisters. The screaming, throw-your-hands-in-the-air attitude was definitely over the top on her part, but you know what? She hasn’t had a bad report since that day so it made a decent impact.

Not a happy Harper.

The daycare was closed for three days this past week to prepare for the coming school year and get a deep clean. Grandma Sue came up to save us from the long, five day weekend with minimal napping, allergy ridden, grumpy toddlers.

The first day we took advantage of the break in rain and ventured out to the valley to the “you pick” farm for some veggies. It was two years ago since we last came out, and what a difference! Toting one year olds around last time meant the wagon, which was also full of picked vegetables and goodies, and resulted in the littles running all directions whenever released. This time around, with our three and two bonus friends, everyone mostly explored the place and ran around, following directions pretty well for the most part and helping pull peas off the vines and potatoes from the dirt.

Some battles occurred over the big zucchini’s and every HAD to have a picture with their own. In their defense, they are half a batch of zucchini bread I made the next day, so it was worth it.

The wind picked up after a while but luckily no rain. The kids stayed warm by continuously running across the fields and they really enjoyed playing with the farm animals . The goats and pigs were very friendly and more than happy to give kisses and run in circles. It was a good trip, minus the triple fighting on the drive both directions!

The second day off was spent with friends, running errands and visiting the trash man and much of day three at home playing with a new tea set, kinetic sand and a lot of Duplo block construction. No naps for all three days and we somehow managed to survive!

Next adventure is berry picking, which we put off from this past week because of torrential downpours. We hope to get at least one afternoon in before fall arrives.

From Beaches to Backcountry

In a whirlwind of quick preparation, we decided to grab life by the horns and take the kids on a back-country Alaska excursion over the past weekend. With our fishing trip to Kasilof such a success, we optimistically decided the girls could handle a little more of an Alaskan edge to traveling. What do I mean by that? Well, why not try going somewhere with no power or water, somewhere tucked back in the remote wilderness and only accessible by four wheelers…THAT kind of adventure! Quite a bit different than our cozy, two bed, two bath with laundry and kitchenette stay last month, but regardless, it went pretty well overall! We are very thankful for friends who share their fun places to stay with our family, even when it’s definitely not easy to spend the weekend with three, three-year-olds!

One has to pack far lighter when all the gear must be hauled in, not one of my best traits since I like to over prepare. With one bag filled to the brim with my clothes and the girls, we managed to get the gear, food, extra coats and boots and such, and other toddler necessities like stuffed animals and car seats, down to two trips back!

Adventuring with Grandma Sue is far easier, as she is the “in-flight entertainment” for the girls on the way and back. This trip we split everyone up in the car so one sat in back and the other two had no seat between them. We also hooked the iPad up to one of the front chairs so everyone could watch a movie as we drove out and back, about 3 hours each way. Movies and a million snacks worked out pretty well; amazingly on the drive home no one napped, but were rather quiet overall.

It was my first time driving and pulling a trailer and it went pretty well overall. Maybe that is good training for a future RV to pull…one can dream. Craig completed all the hard, manual labor of setting up the four wheeler on and off the trailer, strapping car seats and gear on it, and toting the kids in (most of the way with all three to their joy). I wrangled everyone as we geared up, everyone used the portable potty chair (that we bring everywhere) and became smothered in bug spray, and excitedly tried to “help” by climbing all over the four wheelers

The girls did wonderful on the trek back to the cabin; I was impressed at the great condition of the trail. We slowly moseyed our way back and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and scenery. Mount Denali came out both days and was absolutely gorgeous. While we probably should have packed a few more things to entertain, they did pretty good not completely destroying our host’s cabin. It was highly entertaining to explain that the TV in the corner didn’t work (we didn’t turn on the generator the whole trip) and what a VHS player was. At the end of the trip all three television remotes were missing and where did the girls shove them? Into the VHS player hole. Who knew one could fit THREE remotes in there? Well now we know.

The girls also did a full rearrange of the VHS/DVD shelf- they built towers with them on the tables and were entertained for a good thirty minutes before starting to fight. We four wheeled and occasionally walked down to the open water area that boasted all the views of Denali and the girls threw rocks in the water, muddied their boots and picked blueberries (which are super early to be out and very sour!).

In addition to the fun of the trip, I would be lying if I said there was constant toddler fighting, whining and arguing over entering and exiting the backdoor continuously!! Relaxation is not a word used to describe the weekend, something I look forward to achieving once the girls are older and more self-sufficient. We did manage to get everyone to sleep by about 9 PM that night, after a day with no nap and a lot of excitement, and everyone slept quite well with Craig in the bedroom’s king bed, waking up about 7:30 the next morning. We enjoyed sleeping out in the main living area and I extremely enjoyed the sporadic rainfall hitting the metal roof above us. How I’ve missed that!

I’m glad we spontaneously decided to go, something we haven’t done since the girls joined our family. We left the cabin and trekked back to the car the next day with minimal bug bites, lots of dirt, a lot fewer snacks to pack and another beautiful sunny morning. We made a brief stop in Talkeenta on the return trip for lunch, which the girls didn’t really eat, and once the grumpiness was too much to handle, we drove home. All in all, so glad we went. Getting out into nature is essential to being an Alaskan and we hope to instill that mentality in our kids as they grow up.

Off to Daycare

In the past year we’ve unexpectedly lost our daycare situation TWICE and had six months working from home whilst watching three toddlers.

How did we do it? I feel that I’ve been asked that question about 20 times in the past week and yet I’m not entirely sure of the answer.

We have…because we had to. This same answer applies to a lot of things you HAVE to do to raise triplets and really, just to raise any number of kids in general. My mom visited once for a few weeks to help and Craig’s mom gave us two long trips to keep us sane, allow me to get through spring grant season and Craig to get in meetings.

Without the escape of going to work and having kid free time for a full day, which is what I’ve considered my relaxation time for the past three years, it’s been really hard. I’m thankful the girls are much better about going places now and whenever routine gets off a bit, it’s not the end of the world like it was when they were smaller. They’ve learned many new skills this spring and are in the midst of an age where learning and excelling are an every day thing.

So I am very happy to report we just claimed three spots in one of the daycares we were waitlisted on for a handful of months. The three-year-old classroom is called the Ladybugs and one of the teacher helpers worked at the prior daycare- something that definitely helps the transition.

First day drop off produced no tears (from kids or parents) and at half day pickup the teacher noted they did great and were very well behaved. Now that COVID restrictions are more relaxed, no masks are required for walking in and parents can once again accompany their children into their classrooms. We didn’t get this option at all at the last place and I’m thrilled we won’t have to stand outside in the cold and wait. It is also wonderful to have more of a normal experience, since we never had a taste of it with the girls cared for at home prior to the pandemic.

Another big win of the first day is something easily overlooked. All three put their coats on and walked back to the car with me- no running away, no chase routine across the parking lot, no scolding- they climbed straight into the car. After this NEVER happening at the last place, six months of maturing and going out more really helps. It sounds small but man! It’s such a difference on my sanity. A second detail worth noting…we’ve had a handful of nights with complete overnight sleeping, without any fussing or intervening! We broke the current record of nights in a row, which I didn’t actually count but am aware happened… and I seem to wake up stiff in the morning from sleeping so much harder than the past three years. It’s glorious I tell you. A third big win of the first week- Emerie’s eye patching. We’ve done a decent job at it over the past six months but recognize that she does even better with it at daycare. We are reaching to six hours a day instead of the two or three hours throughout this spring and it’s fantastic! Her eyelid is slowly becoming less droopy (as expected) and her complaints more-or-less are fewer and far between. This is yet another daily routine win for us.

Drop off the next few days proved more as expected. Craig noted the second day all three were in full, crying tears when he left and Emerie chased him out to the car one morning. Toward the end of the week this was much improved, but I’m guessing we will have a few more tearful days until they get used to the new routine. Reagan, more so than the other two, states she doesn’t want to go to school and wants to stay home with you. In fact, she’s continuing to repeat this sentiment every day and not just as we get ready in the morning. It’s very sweet but hopefully her teachers and the fun activities will eventually win her over. As we start week two, she already shares the tears before even leaving the driveway while the other two remain in good spirits.

The first, full day proved a good one. I’m concerned how well the napping/quiet time in the afternoon will go after a lot of issues at the prior place, both attributed to kids’ attitudes AND facility accommodation, and day one went off without a hitch. Reagan and Emerie eventually settled down and fell asleep; no shut-eye for Harper but she was well behaved and quiet throughout, which we take as a win. And after all, we are now on the tail end of napping anyway- where the girls still benefit from it but are more resistant to cooperate for it. The loss of the binkies greatly impacted this success.

Eccentric smiles and happy hollers are accompanied with every afternoon pickup; they are excited to see me, go home and see Daddy and of course have a little lollipop on the car ride home for a good day. On Friday everyone had a scoop of ice cream from Coldstone as a reward for a good first week. It was the first time in half their lives that they were able to go in and choose preferred colors (flavors); Harper chose a marble one and Emerie and Reagan both wanted the blue cotton candy. Uncle Will joined us and everyone happily sucked down the afternoon treat.

Now that we are in the three-year-old class, and mostly post pandemic rules, that means occasional field trips! The girls’ first trip out to Campbell Creek trail was a success. The teacher noted to me that afternoon that no one attempted to run off and they were very behaved, staying in line and listening to instruction. What a relief!! Let’s hope this trend continues.

Looking back at the past six months, while it was busy, difficult and very mentally and physically tiring for both Craig and I, it went pretty well overall. We incorporated new activities into our routine, with lots of park visits, playground playing, jump park bouncing, public outings and play dates to get out and about; I’m unsure we could have juggled all that two years back and been successful, especially with past sleep deprivation. We were also around to see the girls age and learn new things, something we would have missed working from the office all day.

All in all, glad to report things are going well!


Fourth of July Fun

After a full week of new daycare success, we were off for a long, holiday weekend playing with friends and spending time outside. It also meant our first Fourth of July parade with the kiddos. The weather cooperated and with the sun out, everyone stayed warm in their cute red, white and blue dresses and fancy hair clips. While most of the holiday activities weren’t slated toward toddler age, the girls did win a small, stuffed narwhal, were given flags to wave and enjoyed seeing all the trucks driving in the parade. After a lunch with friends and a good, solid afternoon nap, everyone spent the remainder of the day playing on the Little Tikes double water slide in the backyard.

I’ll have you know my little Alaska babies are not yet cooperative on water temperature. My age group grew up playing in the freezing cold hose water and glacial creeks and lakes for years; these girls? Not a chance. The warm water spicket installed on the back of the house this spring is now greatly appreciated by three little girls- three little girls who won’t use the water slide unless the water is warm and comfortable. As soon as the hot water tank is depleted, everyone immediately retreats to towels and complaining that the water is so cold.

Another successful weekend, albeit a very LONG one, with some adventure and fun play dates. I’ve already forgotten how we survive weekends in the winter and continue to enjoy spending as much time outside as possible with the three littles.