The Flipping Switch

I haven’t posted the contents of this blog for the past few weeks because I didn’t want to end 2020 on a sour note; or shall I say any more sour than the rest of the year brought for everyone…with a worldwide pandemic, quarantines and minimal social encounters, and of course the overall standard stress of being a parent and full time worker. The girls wrapped up the year with a new attitude at daycare, and not one that we are happy to discover.

I feel minimally prepared for the toddler stage we’ve entered. It’s as though a switch flips on a daily basis, one that changes from happy, curious, well-rounded toddler attitude into a argumentative, frustrated, acting out maniac. The girls refer to this as not listening! We are seeing attitude changes as the girls try to sort through newfound feelings and emotions and don’t quite know how to cope. Daycare seems to be having quite a tough time handling the change (or phase) and continues to hand us behavioral notes, almost every day. It definitely doesn’t help that they feed off each other (and I’m sure other toddlers at school) and escalate the situation more and more. Then, just as quickly, the switch goes off and flips them back to the nice, pleasant children we like to see.

Daycare is providing us reports for misbehavior, with the past few weeks more than the entire time we’ve gone there. It started with Harper saying no and not wanting to listen and has since branched out to Reagan being loud at nap time and throwing shoes at the teacher or when she is outside. I think Emerie has had one report so far but is otherwise maintaining her happy demeanor, even while patched. As for the other two, we talk at night about listening to the teachers and the girls constantly say they miss them on the weekends, but then we still get reports of fighting with the teachers and not obeying the first time they are told to do something without any wiggle room to learn from mistakes. Many of the things they do we don’t have an issue with at home, making it even harder to solve. I’m highly frustrated about all of this and think things could be handled a little differently during school days and that would help a lot, but we aren’t having success with our recommendations. I pray that it’s just a phase.

Harper is definitely the most strong-willed of the three and continues to present more of my attitudes as a kid; in fact, it feels as though she is a little Becca during all kinds of activities and adventures. For example, I had a toddler fascination with the color black, wanting to douse all drawings and pictures with it according to my mother. This phase eventually turned into loving pastel colors and a million necklaces. Harper, in kind, enjoys her black play dough, black markers and crayons. It doesn’t quite align with her love of all things princesses, so hopefully that one will win in the end. Reagan is clearly the most emotional one in the group (this hasn’t changed in a while) and blatantly rejects the idea of scolding and being told no. She’s improved some on this front, but not quite where I’d like to be yet. She very much responds to scolding more than spanking. Emerie still has her moments of rage and toddler angst, but overall is calmer than her womb mates until she reaches a certain tired status, then all bets are off. I believe the patching has helped us on this, because she dislikes it but has learned to understand she has to do it anyway, and complies with less fighting than when she was younger.

Schedule are timed plans while routine relates to commit habits. We survive through routine!

We are trying to navigate these new waters with perspective and grace, exercising discipline when needed, none of which seems to help improve daycare’s behavior notes. The outside eye would probably see our attempts to keep the theoretical boat floating and above water, and some (a lot) of days it feels that way. It does, however, seem to help at home. After school discussions each day consist of the girls explaining they are not listening, so clearly there is a level of understanding of disobedience and the need to correct, regardless of them actually doing it. Timeouts and losing privileges, as appropriate for their age, also occur. We attribute part of the attitude shift to just being toddlers, because they constantly go through phases and one never knows when the flipping switch will go on. Kids are going to push boundaries and talk back- sometimes they have to learn from those mistakes and that is part of growing up! The other part is to being strong willed little girls that keep getting routine disruptions and changes, something we’ve successfully maintained since birth. In fact, routine is likely the number one reason we have survived thus far as triplet parents. Doing the same things each day seems monotonous, but who has time to worry about that when there are screaming kids in the background and a mound of tasks to get done every moment of the day? It took us about two months for the girls to really settle into the new daycare routine, with a lot of very grumpy and clingy evenings after pickup; then with COVID-19 closures, the holidays and a head cold that put us at home for a week, waiting on negative test results, that routine keeps getting disrupted. Maybe the new routine is becoming routine disruption? I don’t know.

Playing

What I do know is that daycare believes routine and schedule are the same thing and that what we think is a major disruption isn’t. I disagree, because routine amounts to the daily milestones and habitual activity, if you will, that are done at the same time, in the same order everyday, to maintain sanity and keep things moving forward. Routine happens without planning because it’s so commonly done on a regular basis. For us that used to consist of a morning bottle feed, putting the girls back to bed, getting them back up at the same time, rotating through diaper changes and breakfast, tummy time and activities, naps, and repeat; running through the same process all day, up until the bedtime feed and into their cribs. This same routine lasted more than a year in our house; every. single. day. No days to sleep in, no days to stall and wash bottles later or settle down and watch TV because we needed a break from the business, because that was the daily path to survive. It continues to this day, although it has shifted some as the girls have grown and picked up new skills.

Schedule is what is followed at daycare, which more so relates to a timed plan, and that makes sense! I believe the issue we are having is where the two clash, and then you throw three maturing toddlers into the mix, long weekends extended period at home, and the switching back and forth of daycare classrooms and you find yourself in a lovely, stressful situation like we are burrowed in. We had one of the worst bedtimes we’ve face in a few months the other night- the best part is I have no idea why!

I don’t have an answer to how this will all play out so suggestions and tips are welcome. What I can tell you is it makes me stressed out and uncertain of the future, but I think that comes with the territory of parenting and is just something you have to take in stride and try to fix when you can.


In addition to the emotional, attitude switch, a second one presented itself over the past weekend; this one more encouraging for sure! We’ve worked for months (years, almost!) on sharing and playing together with toys. While we need to make a point to stop buying as many things in triplicate (which is amazing when stuck at home for periods of time to minimize fighting) and push the girls to share and trade off more with each other, it is another sign of growing up and getting more independent. This past weekend the metaphorical light bulb switched on for pretend play with each other. I’m not entirely sure what prompted the change, but it was a noticeable one! The girls all of a sudden spend periods of time playing together without just fighting and it’s simply amazing to watch.

Breakfast time?

Everyone had a doll, monkey or princess and sat down at the family room kid table for “breakfast.” All three found play food and plates and proceeded to share with one another, having conversations about what said stuffed animal wanted to eat. Once that became less exciting, they moved up into the living room and pulled out a few blankets, TAKING TURNS wrapping each other up and noting it was “nap time.” They even, completely on their own, took turns as the toddlers in the scenario or the parents putting the blanks and pillows out. This is very exciting after so long playing referee every single second, with minimal time to accomplish anything without screaming in the background. I made it through all the laundry while they played…at least before the fighting re-emerged.

Ring around the rosie

A few other cutesy things that I might as well finish the blog on…my little terrors thought it was the greatest thing to remove the bolts that hold the downstairs bathroom toilet to the floor. This was also accomplished while chewing on the lid that goes over the bolt (gross!). I will admit this took so focus and dedication to achieve. And that was only after moments of no supervision. The other day Harper found a small tack somewhere in the house and I found her trying to shove it into one of the few, open outlets in the living room. Boy did she throw a fit when I stopped that little activity. Side note but raising said outlets so plugged in things are out of reach is sooooo helpful when you have multiples to keep an eye on. Anyway, Reagan now repeats Craig’s lovely dad words and phrases and one afternoon when we spotted a moose off the side of the road, Harper commented moosie needs to take a nap, Emerie noted he probably wanted a carrot, and the lovely Reagan answered with no, moosie needs to take a shit. Yep, Craig gets credit on that one. The girls now mention things in future tense, using tomorrow, although I’m not sure they quite understand all that entails yet. Harper will tell me that things happened last morning and is more than happy to repeat your answers to her questions to her sisters. She’s definitely the wordsmith. Emerie’s toddler perspective continues to make us laugh. For example, she went to the bathroom once in Target (since store visits are pretty rare these days) and now she thinks every store bathroom is the equivalent of going potty at Target. I went potty at Target, Momma.

As we head into our next three day weekend, I am optimistic that outside play will keep us going and hopefully Craig and I can keep our level of stress about all these things down. The metaphorical boat is certainly trying to weather yet another storm, this is the first and won’t be the last. Some turn the switch back off!!

2020 in Review

This is a year for the books. Whether that is good or bad, I will let you decide.

Looking back at photos from this time last holiday season, right before our impending 2020, the girls look SO much tinier. They advanced so much in the past twelve months, from personalities to everyday skills to talking up a storm! By the end of 2019 they were saying single words and pointing when they wanted an action, were pros at walking and running around, still ate in the triplet table and threw food constantly, started trying to use their clippy pillows and learn to buckle things, and were very unhappy to be stuffy with a cold.

This time last year we were dealing with constant ear infections, a month of colds and less than optimal sleeping habits, but also good things like play date outings with friends to pass the long mornings, littles that (for the most part) slept in until eight AM (I miss that!), and quality time with visiting family.

By the end of 2020, coordination and running full force is now easy, they climb into their dinner seats and buckle when asked (which we don’t have to do every night anymore either!), drink out of big girl cups (with lids) and use silverware, turn light switches on and off and shut doors, and go sit on the potty themselves. Our park adventures are much easier and they love to go down the slides, climb on everything and swing. While we see a lot more daily tantrums, they are also learning to ask for help when they can’t do something, tell us when they need to potty, and tell us tidbits about their day from the perspective of a toddler.

The girls etch-a-sketches from last Christmas are now replaced with coloring boards, where they ask you to help draw shapes and words. The tiny doll strollers that brought hours of enjoyment over the past year are replaced with fancier ones that boast more functions they continue to discover. The Little People houses are still used every few days; if you listen you can hear them talk to one another about the person on the potty or sitting in the chair or whatever little story they’ve conceived. Arts and crafts time is expanding to include more than just crayon eating and markers are beloved, even though they seem to always venture onto arms and legs. Requests for specific drawings is constant for whatever mood hits each day. The girls specifically ask to Facetime with Papa cliff or Lon or Grandma Sue and Anne, often demand I send a new drawing to cousin Tyler or Uncle Will, request to have park dates with friends and Auntie Janelle, and are always excited to see Oaki and Kaden, or Paris, Sage or Luca, and other adults such as “Kimmie,” or Megan and Alyssa, as much as possible. Anytime we see Nanny and Pricey everyone gets so excited. It’s a blessing we are able to maintain a small group to socialize with throughout all the craziness of the year.

Here’s a rundown on the biggest highlights for our family during 2020 (in my opinion!):

01


Words!

Word explosion is putting it mildly. Since the first big phrases in September 2019, we now have sentence structure, adjectives and multiple words for the same meaning. Everyone sings songs, all their ABCs and can count to 10. Harper leads the charge on sentences and the other two are on her tail.

02


Daycare

This is a biggie. Shifting from at-home-all-day nanny care to a toddler classroom at daycare down the street was a scary mommy step for me. Luckily, the girls handled it so much better than I expected, are thriving every day, and love going to socialize and see their friends on a daily basis.

03


Potty Time

This is one of the major wins of the year! Credit is largely due to daycare initializing it and laying the foundation, since we weren’t quite ready to trigger it, and now Reagan is pretty much completely potty trained, Harper is very close to no accidents, and Emerie is getting there.

04


Activities

Over the past year the girls learned to color, build block towers, pretend play in their kitchen and with their dollies, go to the park without simply running off at every chance, walking to the car, swinging and going down the slides without help, swimming, driving powered cars, and putting on their own shoes and socks!

The shift to daycare was the largest routine interruption of the year, even more so than the initial pandemic shutdown last spring. While I readily admit I was NOT ready for it, overall it was a good change that allowed them out of the house when we are almost exclusively home and to socialize with a new group their age. We have made some new friends from the new experience and that must be treasured after a year like 2020! For the most part we’ve spent the past nine months without attending social engagements or mom/dad groups (that we really relied on the girls’ first year!), play dates or public kid spots like the jump park, library and recreational centers. It makes the year sound like a drag, but we made it work by testing out all the local elementary school playgrounds, finding new sledding hills, adventuring out into the wilderness and exploring creeks and trails.

Emerie had one eye surgery in June, the same week Craig was able to sneak off for two nights to have a little kid-free, much overdue four wheeling fun and we had a fun sleep over weekend with Aunt Janelle. We anticipate another surgery is right around the corner and will have an update for everyone on that in January. We survived all but the beginning and end month of the year without colds, which is impressive! We also managed to get the house and new shed painted, repaint the loft into more acceptable office colors, build a new garden bed filled with raspberries, and catch up on some minor, miscellaneous house to-dos. Hopefully a few new projects will expand in 2021; such as a kitchen update, more garden beds or a deck add-on, and maybe some new lighting. Can you tell we miss doing projects!!

Ready to go to daycare!

It sounds silly, but my biggest change in 2020 was probably when I stopped pumping! After two years and GALLONS of milk later, it was a breath of fresh air to not have to continually worry about keeping supply up, when I could sneak in a glass of wine around my pumping schedule, and getting up earlier and staying up later to do it. I know I was very fortunate how well that whole process worked for us and the girls, but am very glad to be done. Craig’s major milestone of the year was probably getting a spot back at DPS, after several years spent in other departments. While we are both working from home a lot, it is wonderful to have job security, interesting work and coworkers we like!

Other highlights throughout the year that consist in the mind of a mother…the girls finally have HAIR!! Don’t laugh, it is a milestone after they went the first year with almost none! Looking back even a few months, it’s grown so quickly and braids are right around the corner. Another highlight is finding more time to cook meals we enjoy and bake goodies; this was on hold for 2018 and much of 2019. In fact, we (the adults anyway) skipped a lot of meals that involved any prep time when the girls were little, and it’s nice to have a little more time to commit to that. The girls are slowly starting to “help” with baking, although three sets of kid hands and an adult gets a bit cramped in the kitchen and usually ends in a fight. We will get there. The four wheeler now brings squeals of excitement rather than fear and the trashman, postman, plow and dump trucks and moose visitors are welcomed sights out the front window.

2020 has been a tough year for a variety of reasons, but then again, so was 2018 and 2019 (for us). There are plenty of parts to look back on and smile; it hasn’t all been a drag! I foresee 2021 giving us more FUN adventures, hopefully with more trips around the state to explore new activities with the girls, such as more camping, hiking, fishing, and everything in-between. It’s still going to be challenging with three in tow, but looks to be more doable than the past two years now that the girls are more grown up and occasionally listen to directions.

So happy new year to all of you who keep up to date on how we are doing! We look forward to being able to visit with many of you in-person next year…fingers crossed! And to everyone else near and far, feel free to Facetime us and let the girls see those faces and hear those voices. They love to socialize and if that is the best we can do for now…well then let’s do it!

Happy new year! ❤

Christmas 2020

In some ways this Christmas season proves more fun than last year; it is nicer that more activities are doable- especially when extra hands cannot visit. A few things are a real hit this time around, such as cookie and ornament decorating and getting out and about in the snow, whether that is by sled behind the four wheeler downhill at the park or simply swinging in the backyard.

Being home more this winter means I can enjoy all the snowfall from the comfort of my own house. While that is amazing and I’m quite enjoying it, it also means there are no Christmas parties to attend, no fun dinners out with friends and family, outings with Christmas lights to see on the way home, and less opportunity to socialize with anyone during the standard crafts and cooking. We haven’t come up with anything crazy to do this year, but we are slowly working toward build some family traditions to continue in years to come, such as an annual ornament to hang on the tree and holiday goodies to try. Hopefully these things will get a bit easier with age!

The girls had a holiday party at daycare last Friday; all the older kids and teachers enjoyed a pajama day while we matched the girls in red and green outfits. They had a small gift exchange, with each kiddo bringing a present in for another. Harper and Emerie came home with stuffed animals as their gift and Reagan a craft set that she really wanted to open! The girls also took cute photos with the snowman everyone built, and we were informed that Miss Harper was in timeout less that day than earlier in the week.

The word of the week is ballerina

Ornament decorating is a very well liked activity this year. So much that I ordered a large set of random, pre-made ones so we can add them to the decor. The tree is mostly bare other than lights; partly because they love pulling their creations down and examining them and partly because it’s so much effort to unpack all the normal ornaments and put them up. Each kiddo’s ornament this year is a variation of Rapunzel from Tangled. The movie isn’t on replay as much as past months but certainly still a favorite. Everyone pauses to watch any song that pops up from the movie.

So far the polar bear decorations are still hanging on the tree as well as the one we received after visiting Cabela’s Santa Claus. By the end of the month we should have a number of new displays, mostly colored in brown and black. We are still attempting to convince the ladies that Christmas colors are red and green and they don’t seem to care. Everyone also demands the addition of their name, just so they can color over it or try to “mimic” the writing. The activity has a lot of name!! Name! My name! requests throughout. I’ve been working on spelling each name out letter by letter, but whenever they join in, it always ends up being a, b, c instead of R-e-a etc. We will get there. At least they like the concept of spelling their names!

We finally put presents out about three days prior to the big day; partly because they were hidden and still unwrapped and partly because I wasn’t sure how smart it was to make them visible for curious little eyes and hands. The girls immediately wanted to know what the hanging stockings were and went to pull out the gifts wrapped in Olaf paper. At first they were convinced the stockings were from Papa Cliff and not Grandma Anne’s handiwork! After explanations and a few times demanding the boxes be returned under the tree again, they haven’t really bothered them. Every night we say how many sleeps are left until we can open them and that seems to satisfy the questions.

The first attempt at cookie decorating earlier in the month resulted in three toddlers that resembled the cookie monster and ran around energetically afterwards. After a little discouragement on my part, we gave it another go and it went much better, this time using already iced gingerbread (that took me two weeks to actually bake) and letting the girls choose the shapes to masterpiece. My theory behind shape choices was small sizes and recognizable things, such as stars, trees, snowmen, polar bears and little gingerbread people…I also threw a few airplanes in the mix for me!

I expected Harper to excel at this the most, given her love of coloring and ornament decorating, but Reagan ended up really loving the craft. Harper decorated and was happy to accept additional cookies to do…like a machine, always speeding through! Emerie pretty much sat there and sampled one sprinkle at a time until the plate was mostly empty, then started licking the frosting off the cookies. Reagan concentrated and wanted to perfect her two star cookies- she insisted mommy not finished anytime I tried to add more. It took a few days before anyone trusted that the cookies were edible but eventually they started snacking on them and not just licking off the frosting.

We also frosted upside down ice cream cones into fancy little Christmas trees, which was thoroughly enjoyable and cute! this is a fantastic little craft to try with the littles, just remember to frost the bottom with some “snow” so they don’t fall over. They are still sitting on the counter, cute as can be.

And yes, if you are wondering, I did not label their photos below wrong- Harper and Reagan are wearing opposite of the normal colors, but both Frozen themed! I was highly impressed how clean the end result was; I expected icing and sprinkles everywhere and it wasn’t too bad overall. Definitely acceptable!

Our visit with Santa this year was unexpectedly smooth and without any tears. I thoroughly enjoyed the screaming rage (and photo) last year so I was a little disappointed, but I’m guessing if placed on Santa’s actual lap they wouldn’t have liked it. COVID rules enforced sitting in front of clear plexiglass with Santa safely behind, so no scary contact was required. Excluding the fact they only wanted to look at was the flashing ceiling lights after every flash, they did pretty well. Afterwards we looked at the fish; an activity far more impactful on discussions that afternoon about our day. It also cracks me up that two years in a row we’ve been in line behind our same twin friends, completely coincidentally!

We cleaned out the garage (again) to make more space to move around and brought the foot pedaling and auto ones out. We haven’t driven the push button ones since snow stuck in October, after only five minutes the girls already displayed their increased skill and directional awareness! Throughout the fall all three would venture down the street, excited with their newfound button power, but they hardly ever concentrated on what they drove toward. Now they turn and pay more attention to obstacles in front of them. After a few days the circle was discovered and eventually all three followed each other around excitedly.

With the Christmas season returns the love of our good friend Tay Tay (Taylor Swift). Out of the blue the other morning everyone wanted to listen to Shake It Off and are now continuously asking to play it in the car, on the way to school and for a dance party in the evenings. Harper even specifically asks for a dance party!

Our big outing this holiday season was venturing downtown on Christmas Eve for a run through the Captain Cook Hotel and gingerbread village. Unsure how well they would behave, we broke out the strollers and let them run after we’d wandered a bit (and visited the bathroom times three). If I’ve never mentioned it, we almost always make a toddler bathroom stop if we actual go somewhere indoors and the girls are extremely afraid of the loud, automatic toilets. Anyone else have this issue??

We looked at the fancy village and the girls interacted with the pretend Santa and beautiful Christmas trees and we attempted to do a family photo (keyword attempted). One of the nice ladies in the lobby made five hot chocolates and gave everyone a tiny, snowman cookie. The snack was enjoyed by all and then we watched five toddlers sprint down the halls, giggling and burning energy. I’ll also note they did a GREAT job wearing their masks, something we have practiced very little since we barely go to any public (indoor) places, AND all climbed back into the strollers when asked to do so.

We played with some friends up until nap time and colored a few more ornaments. It was easier to not venture out in the evening and attempt a Christmas Eve church service, especially after the battle of dinner eating, and opted to open a single Christmas present and watch a Christmas kids show. They understood the present opening concept quickly and did really well. The tiny, yarn dollies were a hit, carried around for the rest of the evening and snuggled in bed overnight.

A few gifts were strategically placed in the living room as the girls wrestled going to bed. Everyone was tired from a very interactive day and ended up going to bed a bit early, after watching a cute show with three (pink, blue and yellow) kittens. Everything in threes!


Christmas Day

Christmas Day started at about 8 AM, which anymore is quite a win. Everyone started off the morning with a mini jump fest on our bed, a first for them, and we made our way downstairs to see what Santa had in store. It was nothing too crazy, but still some fun, new things to enjoy throughout the winter. Harper immediately noticed the new princess doll dresses and picked up Emerie and Reagan’s dolls and hand delivered them to each of her sisters before picking up her own, commenting so pretty! Craig set up the new doll high chairs from Grandma Sue and Papa Lon at the kitchen table, putting a Cabbage Patch doll in each, and those entertained for a good part of the free play morning. Those chairs are now attached to the kid kitchen with some form of a furry friend eating off a plate.

My best attempt at a pre-gift opening photo

The girls excitedly wanted to open gifts, so after a cup of coffee was poured, they pulled everything out from under the tree and into a pile. I attempted to wrap things in threes, since most gifts had a small variation for each kiddo, whether that was in their colors or similar toys. The theory was to convince the tiny minions to simultaneously open the similar gifts and minimize the fighting and arguing. Of course I forgot to label whose was whose on the big, Frozen wrapped ones they’ve been asking to open all week, so we deferred them until a little later into the activity.

Overall they did a great job ripping open the paper and checking out new toys. I mean it’s clearly a natural kid skill that requires no explanation. There was almost no fighting throughout, which was surprising, and they especially liked the Moana, Elsa and Rapunzel dolls, the pink makeup kits (x3) from Aunt Jenny and Uncle Keegan, and wearing my new Xtra Tuff books around the room. Emerie carried the wooden lipstick around for the rest of the day, with Reagan helping her zip it into a coat pocket when we went outside. Harper happily played with the new dolls and snuggled on the couch to some Cocomelon while Reagan played with a little of everything.

Driving toddlers!

We ventured outside twice that morning, first to drive the auto cars down the smooth, iced street and later to loop the neighborhood on the four wheeler with our neighbor kids and deliver some decorated ornaments. It took a few minutes to get out of the house but once outside, everyone listened well and had fun. I pulled out one of the stocking stuffers early (since we didn’t get to them yet) and gave each kiddo a new hat, a yellow for Emerie, teal/greenish for Reagan (although I have a second purple one for her later since she likes it) and a solid black for Harper. Everyone rocked their hats for our outdoor fun.

The cars did decently on the flat, icy areas, but required a little bit of adult foot muscle whenever the road became rougher. We made it about six houses before we turned back, and in true parenting style, walked the end carrying the cars while the children laughed and ran full blast.

After a good nap everyone turned up the grumpiness scale, meaning a quick dinner (delivered by our amazing neighbors!) with toddlers not participating and a grumpy evening overall. Harper refused not only the entire meal but even the sparkling grape juice for the occasion, while the other two only wanted to drink that and not eat anything. Reagan snacked on the lumpia and that was about it. The past week or so the girls seem to eat a huge breakfast and decent lunch but then are uninterested in anything at dinnertime. Hopefully it’s just a phase because they are clearly continuing to grow!

The girls kept saying I want a bido later in the afternoon and it took me a bit to figure out what in the world they meant. Cousin Tyler taught them how to wrap themselves up in blankets like burritos, hence the “bido”. I got three June and January blankets for them for Christmas, two purple and a pink for Harper, and the stretchy material inspired their excited for burrito wrapping (see Emie below!). We also opened stockings and played with those toys a bit but decided to hold on the remaining few presents that remained under the tree.

While I assume this particular grumpines stems from a busy two days and a lot of excitement from presents, we did get a few minutes of couch snuggles before bedtime. The girls continued to tell us Christmas was over after the presents, not understanding it is more than that. They also seem to believe it is limited to the living room, where the decorations and tree live- we are working on that. It was a pretty uneventful day, but all-in-all pretty decent for 2020 and the girls enjoyed themselves. While I’m disappointed to make it all day without a good picture with all three girls, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Hopefully next year we can celebrate with more family and social visits.

Merry Christmas everyone! ❤

Home Week

December and January of the past two years consisted of cold after cold, with runny noses, short tempers, a bout of pink eye, and a lot less sleep, especially when the girls were tiny. We hoped this year would be a little improved, if only because most places to pick up a cold or virus are closed and socializing (for the most part) is a pre-COVID perk.

Well, we made it to about day four or five of December before the first cold caught up with us- not a great start but pretty fantastic if one considers no one has had a runny nose since last January. It started with Reagan and a runny nose, went to Harper with one as well, and then Emerie struck an almost 104 degree fever with no other symptoms. The tele-doctor call strongly suggested we get a COVID test for Emerie, since her random fever aligns with those symptoms, so we took all three girls over to the pediatrician’s drive up testing site on Monday morning.

An accurate depiction of the morning

Knowing the girls were not going to enjoy a swab up their nose, we explained to them before leaving that the doctor was going to “look at their nose” and “clean it out.” As expected, all three certainly shed some tears at the experience, with Reagan first and the other two crying just watching her. We broke our no binkie rule and gave them binkies to calm them in the car seats and a lollipop treat.

The doctor noted that they aren’t doing rapid tests, which I’m not thrilled about, so whether we come back positive or negative, we pretty much lost out on daycare for the entire week. That, in turn, means another week on double duty, working and taking care of (sick) kiddos.

Clearly the girls weren’t feeling great, since we took our longest nap on Monday, maybe ever. Although it took Reagan almost an hour of wiggling and chatting in her crib to fall asleep, even she ended up sleeping almost three hours. Harper and Emerie were out pretty quickly and we let them go longer than the usual wake up time, hoping that would help fight off the runny noses and fevers.

Day two: as we continued to wait for test results, the day started off with a very grumpy and fevery Emerie. Everyone ended up sleeping in our beds early on in the night as the snot continued to cause coughing (they didn’t cough at all otherwise!). We played out in the backyard while the snow dumped and spent a good hour with play dough at the kitchen table. I also started feeling the effects of a sinus cold and started cramming down tea and Advil cold and sinus, hoping for a mild one while we can’t go anywhere or get any kiddo relief. I always find it entertaining that I seem to catch EVERY cold that girls get but Craig manages to skip most of them.

By Wednesday we still had no word on testing results. Emerie’s fever continued on and off and she awoke with a 101, which is better than the past few days. Harper and Reagan’s only symptoms were runny noses now and they have mastered the skill of blowing their noses into a tissue. It was very cute at first since they didn’t quite comprehend how to do it, but learned quite quickly! It probably helps that they shared this cold (as usual) with me so my nose blowing is their continued demonstration.

Craig and I continued to juggle working our hours while watching the girls. We’ve found it really helps to hide toys for a short period of time and then get them back out. It doesn’t take much for something to be “new” and exciting again for a toddler. I pulled the foot-push cars out from the shed and let them thaw in the living room and moved the random toys and furniture off to the side as much as possible. The girls played for a while with them, alternating who sat in which one, Craig strung some LED Christmas lights on two of them, they drove with blankets on top for “peek a boo” and carried baby dolls and monkeys around with a loud goodbye, mommy! Of course fighting occurred over who could use what (since two are red and one is teal), when someone wouldn’t move for someone else, or if a foot was accidentally run over, God forbid! While the activity passed the hour for us adults, we still opted to go to nap a few minutes earlier than normal and they went down pretty quickly.

Traffic jam

By day four of still no test indications, grumpy, cooped-up kids and a full fledged cold for me, I finally dropped the optimistic and happy life attitude that most of my blogs represent and became more of the realist of- this. just. plain. sucks. Emerie was in a mood the entire day and no matter what activity was done, toy was out, show was on, everyone just fought.

Parenting is hard. Parenting more than one kid of any age is hard. Parenting three toddlers at the same time is hard. Staying home for multiple days, waiting on test results, is hard. I am SO over this month, this year, this phase of kiddos? While my current struggles this week could be blamed on COVID, I can’t really blame the lack of socializing or visiting family entire on it and just have to continue to struggle through. I hoped Friday would be another day, hopefully with cheerier kiddos and test results, but who are we kidding? It’s was just going to be a repeat of this day (and thanks to the stuffy nose- I can’t even enjoy a glass of wine or bowl of eat ice cream to help). In fact, we were very close to opening the not-yet- wrapped Christmas presents just to pass the time, or do an Easter egg hunt (if I could find the plastic eggs). I’m not sure which is worse, that everyone is snotty and grumpy every second or the fact that I know it’s not going to get any better anytime soon.

Friday came and went about the same as the rest of the weekdays. We loaded up in the car and got hot chocolates for the girls and fancy drinks for the adults, came home and enjoyed them and ventured out on the fourwheeler for a quick jog around the neighborhood. That proved to be very cold, even in broad daylight, and by the end, the girls just wanted to come inside and snuggle in their hooded blankets. We caved and brought out the first Christmas presents of the year that afternoon, the fancy doll strollers from Grandma Anne. After the little ones they’ve had since about twelve months old, these things are fancy! Not only do they have a baby carrier and stroller, but they even have some bells and whistles like real strollers. I am sure next spring will consist of walks down the street, with all three walking their dolls (or monkeys) each evening in delight.

I am happy to report that we eventually received the all clear, negative, test results we were hoping for. By the time they came, the fevers were gone and only runny noses remained. It’s been a long week; while we are SO ready to send them back to school, we are also happy that we didn’t catch anything other than the usual, mundane December sniffles.

I learned this week that toddlers can be even grosser as they get bigger. We always joke about the snot and slobbery times when they were babies, assuming at least some bodily fluid was on every shirt or pair of pants at all times (pretty accurately assuming). Well, I witnessed an exhausted Reagan, completely asleep, wipe her nose with her hand and then lick the same hand. While she was ASLEEP!! Let’s pray that we don’t all do that when we are sick and sleeping…so gross and subconsciously! The next day I also watched Harper blow her runny nose into the front window screen and then try to rub it off with her hand. Yep, that happened too. I’m going to go wash my hands…


Since most of this blog was mildly discouraging and full of snot, quarantining, and stress, I will mention a few cute things over the past week. For example, like at Halloween, Craig switched out the random pillowcases around the house from spooky to Christmas themed, and again Reagan noticed and kept pointing it out. That led to her discovery that the cases are removable from the pillow and usable for a variety of things, such as hauling toys around, wearing on her head as a hat, or climbing in and using as a sleeping/potato sack of sorts. By the end of that evening, all three were playing with a pillow case and fully entertained for an hour.

Princess pajamas!

The princess phase of toddlerhood is in full swing. Now remember that they enjoyed the you-tube videos of Disney songs while in their jumpers, with those medleys on replay for several months. Harper fully embraces this attitude- she likes to dress up, wear her color (pink), and adamantly DEMANDS to have some form of princess on all pajamas and often on her clothing and underwear. It is to the point it can be difficult, because she will NOT wear any old pair of underwear laying nearby when it needs a change from an accident and will NOT cooperate unless you specifically show her how there is a princess on that article of clothing (she doesn’t believe castles apply). I’m pretty certain I’ve ordered every princess pajama I can find in their size (which isn’t that many actually) so the three pairs we have don’t require washing everyday. Recently Reagan was in an owl phase, then a purple phase and now she is in support of the princess-wear, but won’t argue as much about other pattern options. Emerie is the easiest to convince to wear any pajama or outfit; this week she is asking for butterflies.

Reading with Cousin Tyler

Several new Llama Llama books came in the mail last week and the girls are thoroughly enjoying the new topics. I missed reading the Thanksgiving theme one for the actual holiday (I couldn’t find it!), so we are reading it at nighttime now followed by the Christmas Llama Llama book and the usual “Potty Book” (actually titled Llama Llama Nighty Night), but renamed by the girls because it has a potty page. After a week we are still reading these three each night and the girls now recite the nighty night book with me if asked. For a while Harper was calling out the words before I turned the page, clearly a sign of how much it is enjoyed. It’s quite adorable too.

A new household rule exists that Mom is not allowed to sing but Dad is. Since Cocomelon is streaming a lot more these days while we are all at home, I’m informed by the tiny humans that I am not allowed to participate in singing along under any circumstance, but that Craig should clearly sing with them. Not sure how I should take that…but they are very boisterous about it while we are in the car. I am, however, allowed to dance at the musical dance parties- and let’s be clear…I can sing MUCH better than I can dance. Hopefully the girls have their dance genes from the Douglas side of the family. Harper is constantly requesting the Itsy Bitsy Spider song and likes to do the motions when it plays. Emerie is on a Jesus Loves Me and This Little Light of Mine kick, and Reagan asks for Lola the Cow and Baby Shark. Harper refuses to let Lola reach her ears, even after loving it a few months ago, which cracks me up.

Moose lookout

The girls conversations continue to expand. They like to goof off and play together (when they aren’t fighting, which is every once in a while) and if you peek and watch them, the conversation usually goes Harper, again! with a response of Emi, my turn, my turn, again! or me, Reagan, me! and then the action is repeated. For that one moment of no toddler rage, it’s pretty cute. The girls are starting to play cook more now as well. Harper brought me a cup a “tea” and poured it the other day, Emerie will deliver a plate full of random (fake) food that always contains interesting combinations to “eat”, and Reagan will go answer the phone on the play kitchen, stop and look out and have a conversation on it while she walks around the room.

Another hot topic in the household is the neighborhood moose. It ran down the street the other day and they were SO excited, but disappointed it didn’t stop and hang out in our front yard. A few days prior that same moose was across the street eating a frozen pumpkin at the neighbors, in perfect view from their bedroom window. They’ve decided that anything resembling a horse is now a moose and argue with you if you disagree.

As you can see, there is a lot going on this winter, even without the socializing and normal holiday activities. While there is much more we’d like to participate in and hopefully will in future years, for now we will try to dwell on the good and not sit on the hardships, like waiting for test results, babies that wake up early and are grumpy, or winter colds!

We hope everyone is hanging in there this holiday season and please reach out if you want a Christmas card ❤

Thanksgiving Week

Week two, or should I say round two, of our unplanned family time has been the usual parenting adventure. The girls are starting to get in the groove of being at home again, probably enough that going back to daycare will reset the calm(ish) and create even more evening grumpiness. We were determined to keep the girls busy and occupied all week while downing a lot of coffee, getting a massive amount of fresh air, and attempting to enjoy each other’s company.

Monday

We kicked off Thanksgiving week really early- with Harper up and ready to take on the day before seven AM and Emerie and Reagan right behind her.

Craig worked while I got everyone up and running for the day, got dressed, did hair and vitamins, and ate a big bowl of cereal with some bananas and sausage. Every decided to go number two relatively early in the morning, and it quite cracked me up they would run downstairs to yell at Craig in the garage, daddy I pooped! Daaaadddyy I poooooooped! I’m sure his coworkers on the other end of the line were enjoying that entertainment.

After adventuring to the park with Nanny, Pricey and Miss Janet, it took about an hour for everyone to calm down enough to snooze in their cribs, after some back talking and promising of a birthday cupcake as snack if they went to sleep! I didn’t think it was going to happen and then they were out like a light.

They were all babbling in their beds before sleep took over and I heard Reagan say “Mommy, go take a shit- no jelly bean for you!” I kid you not…that phrase CLEARLY comes from their dad! Pretty funny that the other two joined in and noted I don’t get a treat. The teamwork has already begun.

After work Craig took them over to the neighborhood school to run around while I had an hour kid (wine!) break and cooked dinner. Everyone devoured their pasta salad, corn and chicken and received a peach yogurt for dessert. I turned my back for one moment to finish the dishes while Craig was upstairs starting the bathtub, and turned around to a full kitchen table of yogurt mosaics. Silly babies!

Tuesday

Emerie was the early riser today so we plopped down on the couch and watched a little Moana before the other two were up. I try to make early morning one-on-one time count, with lots of snuggles, knowing that the girls are always sharing our attention by one-third and don’t often get to relax without their siblings present or the normal excitement around young children. After breakfast everyone went to the playground to burn off energy and I pulled out their rolling, mini four wheelers to push around the living room after lunch. They are now saying four wheeler, since the real sized one is sitting in the front yard, but it comes out sounding more like a four la la or in the holiday spirit, fa lala. Pretty cute indeed once you know what they are saying. They attempted to push their dolls on the wheelers as well as their giant monkeys. It’s crazy to think the toys used to seem so big compared to the girls; now the long legs have to crunch to ride them.

I love my children to pieces but man, some days they really know how to drive a person crazy! The tantrums, fighting, biting, complaining. All. Of. It. Luckily a friend visited for dinner and helped us do a fun painting craft, which certainly helped burn up some time, but even so the girls still ran wild and continued to be mean to one another throughout the evening.

The craft will turn into “hand” turkeys once the paint dries and I cut them out (or several days later still be unfinished on the counter; that’s more likely). Harper went completely 100% in, her usual style, and looked like she had slaughtered a pig by the end of it. Reagan’s method was one finger at a time with minimal paint on the page, but was all for full hand prints painted on her hands by an adult. Emerie tried to splatter as much paint as possible and loved every second of it. After much scrubbing (of the table, chairs, floor AND children), everything is back to cleanliness.

Wednesday

After a little early morning snuggle with Harper, everyone was up with a bang. We had a very overdue twin play date at the house, where my girls didn’t want to play out in the snow and our visitors did, so eventually we came inside and played with our books and toys. This could be because we put the new swings in the garage to warm and straighten up and they were less than pleased at their absence. Once inside, everyone was calm and composed for about two hours…something quite unusually with FIVE toddlers sharing a play area.

We decided even without family visiting this year, we would try to get a little cooking done to enjoy. With the announcement of another “hunker down” for Anchorage for whole month of December, we might as well attempt some of our own holiday joy and Craig is quite a decent cook! He prepped as much as possible while the girls napped and throughout the evening, ready for our first solo holiday.

Thursday

After a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bacon, which involved the adults eating the pancakes and the toddlers devouring yogurt and bacon, we loaded up and headed out to our favorite Eagle River park for some sledding and playground time. I can’t wait for the days when we can enjoy a quiet holiday at home, not have to trek out anywhere, and relax. This, however, is NOT how last year or this or even next year will go, but someday!

The wind was cold and for the first time the girls were enthusiastic to have their new face wraps on for warmth. All three were happy to chew on them and pull them down to “shovel” random snow in their mouths. The only glitch when they are pulled up to noses are the fogging of Emerie’s glasses, which frustrates her to no end. We are constantly wiping the lenses off a finger so she can see where she is going. Apparently it was also cold enough for cooperation on mitten wearing, and the fresh few inches of snow made sledding really fun.

The girls are continuing on their grumpy moods this week so the middle car seat was relocated into the back row for the drive home. Reagan begged to have the first ride…so I’m guessing she now believes that is her seat. The past few weeks the girls have been fighting over who sits in the middle, the spot no one wanted for the last year. This has more to do with being taken to the car first than sitting in that spot, and I’m guessing at some point everyone will have a designated seat instead of all switching around whenever we load them as we do now. We are still rear facing, even with those long legs in tow, because we are still far below the weight standard for forward facing and actively working on the height standard.

Emerie still managed to throw her glasses at Craig TWICE on the drive home and send some toys across the car at her sisters. But overall, it was less of a battle than with all three across and everyone snacked and sang songs until we made it home.

An actual photo of us together!

While the girls napped Craig worked on a multitude of dinner tasks and the amazing smell of turkey filled the house. Other deliciousness consisted of green bean and corn casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie. Unsurprisingly and a repeat of last year, the girls pretty much didn’t touch any of it at dinner…except for the amazing, homemade lumpia the neighbors dropped off for us that afternoon. Reagan ate at least two whole ones! Sounds about right; we couldn’t even convince them to eat sweet potatoes, i.e. SUGAR. Silly kids.

Everyone was so grumpy after dinner that we booted them all outside for some swing time and playing in the snow. That lasted long enough to clean up some of the kitchen and prep bath time.

With our first major holiday sans any out of town family, I’d say it could have been worse. And we have much to be thankful for this season; three smart and beautiful ladies, a happy (albeit tired) and loving husband and cook, a roof over our heads and heat, a wonderful hometown, essential jobs through all this craziness, and a life that always brings the unexpected but often fun. Happy turkey day to all of you!

Friday

The snow started dumping early Friday morning, the perfect weather for Thanksgiving weekend. We did not let that hinder our morning zoo plans and I loaded up kids and strollers and winter gear to trek out in it.

Pretty decent snowfall while we explored

This time we brought one of the double chariots so the girls could sit for a bit intermittently and be contained when attitudes struck. Excluding the fact everyone was in a maniac mood for the morning (including me by the end of it), it didn’t go that badly and I had Uncle Will to help me corral them. The few inches of fresh snow didn’t deter them from running amuck and snacking on it at every opportunity. At least that’s clean snow, right!?

If I had to pick a favorite animal today, it was probably the turkey (which is hilariously timed and so fitting for the week!). One stayed cozied up by the heating lamp while the other one socialized with the girls. As we walked toward the caribou cages, it paralleled us along the fence line. Harper thought that was just so hilarious and informed me I love it a few times, pointing excitedly at the turkey. Emerie stayed behind once everyone moved forward to the alpacas and bonded a bit more with it, until it gobbled (squawked?) at her unexpectedly and she about jumped out of her skin. Apparently a real gobble gobble isn’t quite so comforting. She wanted to get away from him ASAP.

We swung by to see the otters a second time before heading back to the car. Meltdowns were imminent and I was glad the stroller was there to contain two of them. They all liked watching the otters belly slide across the snow, their style of sledding, and hooted and hollered at them.

After nap we donned the snow gear and shoveled the front driveway while the girls sat in the yard with me and “supervised.” We don’t love taking them out front and rarely do so, since for the past two years they bolt into the busy road; but, in snow gear, as well as the late afternoon darkness, they are slower and more timid to taking off down the street.

Craig put the plow on the four wheeler and after clearing the driveway, he convinced the girls to sit behind it while pulling them down the block in the big sled (sitting on my lap, of course!). They talked about that adventure all evening and yes, we went super slow the whole time!

The last funny thing to note for the day, poor Emerie wouldn’t go to sleep because of the turkey gobble from the zoo. She explained to me in a concerned expression that the turkey gobble upset her and I responded he went bye bye (as turkeys do on thanksgiving?). After a good fifteen minutes back and forth from a clearly anxious toddler, she finally drifted off to sleep.

Saturday

By Saturday the toddler mood swings were starting to get really old (or before Saturday really). Others that have warned us that “three-nagers” are actually worse than the “two-nadoes” stage are probably right; at least that seems to be how we are trending. There is an incredible amount of meltdown rage at our house throughout the day; everything from stealing toys to being told no to disagreements about wearing their gloves or a previously chosen color of underwear. Other disagreements spur over who gets to go in which potty chair, because someone peed on someone else’s existing potty chair pee (maybe TMI but it’s funny and true!), when everyone wants to wear the same pair of boots or the same jacket, when one sits too close to the other and they touch, or when they slam the downstairs gate shut on one another. Not to mention other times when no one ever answers us the same, so all three want to sing a different song, watch a different show, read a different book, or have a different drink. I could go on forever…and certainly write an entire blog on reasons for toddler rage.

It’s a constant and long battle that takes a ton a patience AND stamina- because these tiny humans feed off your sense of tiredness or irritation and it FUELS THE FIRE. So, I admit, we both lose our heads probably once (or more) a day after a full day at home, likely with every moment filled with some kind of toddler rage, crying fit, repeated demand or total meltdown all while trying to accomplish everyday tasks, keep things going forward and done.

Through all this, the girls are starting to say sorry more often after an unkind deed, and while the upset sister doesn’t want to accept the apology yet, we are progressing on giving it. Time out is quite frequent right now and I hope that is teaching them to understand when they’ve disobeyed or been unkind. They are using their words better now, and when someone is in timeout inevitably one or both of remaining group will make a point to tell us they are listening. Momma, listening! Daddy, me listening! It’s very cute, but it also usually comes from a place where they haven’t been doing just that. This battle and continued loop will continue for a long time.

They also interject adjectives in their sentence structure now, such as Emerie this morning, point out her “my yellow pee” or Reagan stating she wants to wear “my blue hat” or Harper stringing off a few descriptive sentences about whatever is going on.

Spontaneous family photo – E / H / R

The girls were riled up once again for the start of the weekend so we ordered breakfast takeout (is that called takeout?) from a small, local restaurant, built block towers at the kitchen table while Craig picked it up, and then headed off to Kincaid Elementary for playground slides, swings and a sledding hill.

After a cheeseburger lunch, with Reagan eating an entire adult burger herself, everyone went down for a nap while Craig ran to Costco. Overall the nap was very restless but successful, and they willingly snuggled on the couch afterwards and had a snack with some Pan on the until Daddy came home.

We ended this day with more thanksgiving leftovers (including the amazing homemade cranberry sauce that was delicious- thanks Sara!), pumpkin pie (the girls ate the whip off the top…) and our first Christmas pajamas of the year, which Harper greatly disliked until I explained the snowflakes on the red-striped pants were from the frozen princesses. That explanation seemed acceptable to her and she stopped trying to take them off.

One more day until routine change!

Sunday

That tiny spec is a moose!

Today’s agenda was set around visiting Santa in the morning. After a quick cereal breakfast we visited the Potter’s Marsh boardwalk to burn a little energy before seeing the jolly red man. It’s been a while since we walked out there and our first time with snow, which was helpful because the girls couldn’t see straight down through the boards. It’s also great for the containment, with only two directions to choose from, so everyone could run freely, but for the most part they just wanted to walk and hold our hands and see the wildlife.

Two moose were spotted down below and we were able to get a pretty close look from the boardwalk. The girls were so excited! They called out to “Mr. Moose” and Harper asked if she could first kiss him, then hug him, and that she loves him. The walk provided some much needed time outside and produced much chatter about moosies for the afternoon. I’ll note we did have to promise Emerie that no turkeys were present during that time, as she showed concern about it.

After the boardwalk we quickly changed into Christmas attire and rushed over to Cabela’s for our morning photo slot. I fully expected rage crying like last year, but because no one can sit directly on Santa’s lap, they were content to sit on the bench in front of the glass and not concerned about the jolly man behind them. No one really wanted to look at the camera or smile; instead they kept looking up at the flashing lights after each snapshot. Overall it went pretty well and everyone snacked on a candy cane as we walked around the store and looked at the fish.

The girls were very chatty today about family members. All morning they asked about Auntie Manda and wanted to talk to her, so during lunchtime we did a quick FaceTime call and they were excited (so excited they all pooped- true story!). Later in the day Reagan asked a few times for cousin Tyler, saying she wanted to show her cheek owie to him. Emerie also said she missed Papa Cliff and the other two agreed. I’m glad that even though family isn’t local, the girls still have a close enough relationship to want to talk to them. Thank goodness for modern technology!

Post nap activities included several rides around the neighborhood on the four wheeler, certainly to our neighbors’ dismay, until our hands and feet were tingling and cold. We colored the ornaments from the Santa visit and with some effort, convinced the girls to hang them on the tree and not steal each other’s. As you can see, Harper attempted to color the entire body brown and black; we had to forcably take the colors from her after insisting it needed some holiday spirit on it. I think all three did a good job!

We ended the evening with everyone eating their entire dinner plate. I note this because it’s incredibly unusual, with each kiddo eating more than half a mini pizza, two servings of broccoli and green beans (we slacked on dinner…yes…since we were outside playing on the four wheeler). Everyone excitedly ate their ice cream reward while I sipped some wine!

It sounds silly, but a tiny part of me feels sad the girls went back to daycare (I said a TINY part). While the past two weeks were very draining and busy, there were also happy parts and fun adventures spent as a family. I look forward to the days when they are a bit bigger and it’s easy to do some of these things without the major prep work ahead of time and sense of tired afterwards, and I know that will come eventually. For now, I will relish my workday at home with a hot cup of coffee and a silent house. I will enjoy knowing the girls are off having fun with their class, burning energy and getting out of the house for a bit. I will appreciate the Christmas decorations in my house and the snow outside my windows and get excited for the upcoming holiday season. Can’t I also be thankful for that?!