Christmas Stars

Fancy shoes and dresses!

The preschool Christmas show this week was nestled between my two very grumpy, “potato sack” (flailing toddler) hauling events. I cringed at the thought the Christmas concert might be a total disaster after the previous night’s fits and downright disobedience from all three but was pleasantly surprised with how it went. They didn’t run off stage or totally melt down during their performance of two Christmas songs.

Everyone cooperated with their Christmas dresses, bows, tights and fancy black boots and while rushing out the door, still managed to get a few princess twirls in and declare they were beautiful! I always question why so many sleeveless Christmas dresses exist (since Christmas = winter in my brain), and while these Costco beauties came with soft black shawls, I still added another long sleeve layer to accommodate for the cold.

Of course, we Douglas’ know how to make an entrance, and it must be in their DNA (is that me or Craig?! Great question!). Of course we had the typical like-their-mother-trip-over-the-camera-on-the-walk-to-the-stage moment, as Emerie turned to look at us and toppled right over. No meltdown though; she just popped right back up!

The Ladybugs class, of which 30% is us, was first up and did two songs. More than anything there was nervous rocking, shout outs to parents and grandparents and a few hand motions here and there- of course all very cute. I’m sure their morning rehearsal had more participation, since they weren’t in front of a gym full of people for it! Reagan ended up making faces at the audience and her classmates and hopping in and out on the rehearsed hand motions. After one part that all three felt inspired to participate on, Harper turned to Emerie and covered her mouth with a laugh. The audience seemed to chuckle at that one.

An actual family photo

Each class took turns performing their two songs, with a curtain and superstar switch out in between each. Everyone then gathered on stage for the finale of Joy to the World. Overall, it was one of the first nights that I really felt like a normal parent, sitting kid-less in a row of chairs, able to relax and talk to other parents without kid interruptions, chasing someone or the constant tripleting (which I now believe is very much a real verb!). It felt almost normal, being able to watch my offspring participate with everyone else, so very grown up in their three years, and laugh and take photos like everyone else without the constant chaos. These moment are few and far between since we became parents, some due to less socializing during the pandemic, some because the girls are still pretty young, and some because it seems like every time we try to plan or do something nice, it ends up being a total triplet shit show, and it’s frustrating.

But I’m not complaining (ish). While this has not been a great week, it was a nice and appreciated 45 minutes of actual life enjoyment, and I’ll take what I can get.

Now please pray the girls get out of the funk that picked right back up Saturday morning and that we are able to enjoy some of planned events and activities this month. Because I’ll tell you, my brain is fried from a disastrous preschool pick up followed by another mess of a dance class, and I don’t have enough wine or sanity for this. I will say the general mom public that witnesses the meltdowns and my attempts to haul three rage monsters in the car without completely losing my head (or my mouth) has been pretty supportive, with a few nice strangers sharing encouragement in the heat of the moment and it is much appreciated. Now if only we could stop having these fun events…

Please enjoy this short clip of the mini beasts at their Christmas show, goofing off to the crowd and each other, in true Douglas (Sykes!) style.

Merry Christmas ❤

Fit To Be Had

And there we have it…

Finally a daycare pickup that I’ve waited on for years….carrying each kid out kicking and screaming bloody murder, dragging the flailing monster into the car and forcing the car seat buckles on while they throw their tantrum. TIMES THREE.

They are a lot stronger now that I can’t haul all three at once, especially when they don’t want to obey. Reagan definitely attempted to bite through my hoodie on her way out and Harper ran around the parking lot…similar to last year…

Apparently school book fairs are not for the weak of heart. Running away with the balloon centerpieces AND random, unpurchased books is more of the real life toddler experience, all while trying to escape their mother and hide in other school rooms.

At least I enjoyed a moment of toddler torment by eating one of their beloved lollipop treats while they all shrieked in rage from the backseat. Butterscotch, if you wanted to know.

Tonight is a wine kind of night. Lord help me.

Thanksgiving Week Wildness

It’s been a busy November, with lots of play dates, family visits, activities and all on top of pretty cold temperatures for these south-central Alaskans. I always appreciate family visits and love that I married into a much bigger family network than I have. Craig has a big family for the girls to enjoy and grown up around during visits and through thousands of FaceTime calls. We especially love holiday visits, since it is much easier for us adults to enjoy everything with a few extra sets of hands; it’s also great knowing they are making memories and getting to know many members in the family, especially since mine is so small and much farther away! With so many things to write about, in lieu of writing a ton on our mundane, day-to-day festivities; here are the main highlights as we push from early winter to turkey time, to Christmas!


Donut Time

From the moment Grandma Sue and Papa Lon stepped off the airplane from Juneau, many demands occurred from the three tiny blondes to cook homemade donuts with Grandma. Keep in mind when we tried this activity in February (for Valentine’s Day) the girls refused to eat the final product but really enjoyed the uncooked dough, spreading flour and making the biggest mess possible. This time they continued to make a big, floury mess but finally ate the donuts (holes) and came back for seconds!

Reagan picked out a sprinkle covered donut Christmas ornament for Grandma to take home with her and put up on the tree. Clearly the homemade donuts are making quite the impact as they grow older; you’d agree if you tried them!!

School Luncheon

Grandma and I volunteered at the preschool Thanksgiving luncheon on Wednesday. The three-year-old class was first up in the nicely decorated gym. Once assembled at their designated tables, everyone paired with an older kid buddy, who held their plate and assisted on food selection. The girls refused to buddy up since we were there and insisted on waiting in line with us. When questioned on food choices, all three wanted corn, a roll, carrots and pickles. No one wanted mashed potatoes (not surprising), turkey or stuffing. With a bit of parent coaxing everyone downed a turkey chunk and Harper and Reagan devoured a handful of olives. After the main course was pumpkin pie, with Harper eating only the whip cream, Emerie inhaling all the filling and not touching the crust, and Reagan eating it all!

Crazy Kids

Our goofballs continue to randomly make surrounding adults chuckle. For example, Reagan turned around one night to a lip like this and convinced us it was blood, with a story about falling and hurting her lip. Care to guess what it really was? Nail polish!

Early riser Emerie was hanging out with Grandma at the crack of dawn the other morning, repeating three times she wanted to watch Merida. Finally told Grandma to go away, since she wasn’t “listening.” Everyone now uses the word “never” and will respond I’m never doing that! or I’m never talking to you AGAIN! We don’t use that terminology very often; I’m guessing another preschool kid taught them the fun new word.

Olaf Bread for the Win

Another fun, edible craft idea from the family cook meant customized, breaded Olaf’s for Thanksgiving lunch, with each kiddo donning a cooking hat and apron and decorating their own version of the snowman. This activity was quite the hit in the morning, with specific colored sprinkles, dyed orange noses, craisins for buttons and don’t forget the eyeballs! Even more surprising, the girls consumed these beauties with lunch, eating every sweet treat off before biting into the fresh dough and bread stick arms.

Cookie Decorating

Cookie decorating skills were put to the test several times over the holiday break. The girls decorated turkey cookies with mini paintbrushes and fall themed edible paint. As usually, Reagan took her time to cover ever white edge on the whole thing while Harper and Emerie more so enjoyed spreading the paint with their brushes and begging to eat them. Later in the weekend the first batch of gingerbread for the season was decorated- or more realistically I should say the girls ate sprinkles and continually asked to eat more cookies.

Putting Up the Tree

With the darkness and frigid cold weather, the Christmas tree up early is a must. This year the girls were a bit more helpful, but overall they did the same fight-over-the-tree-bag crying as last year. Everyone helped hand a few branches to Craig or I, but otherwise weren’t thrilled until the ornaments came out. Emerie decided stretching out all the wrapping ribbon looked really fun until we stopped her! Everyone enjoyed hanging their ornaments on the lower half of the tree. This year’s ornament is Frozen themed; last year was Tangled. Maybe next year it’ll be something other than a princess! And don’t let that adorable hugging photo convince you, that occurred after full cookie related bribery, a failed nap and a lot of fighting. And after putting a couple wrapped presents under the tree, they are now asking if it’s Christmas yet…a month out!

Thankfulness

Thanksgiving dinner was quite the feast of deliciousness: turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, pecan and pumpkin pie. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm… If my sense of smell was back, I’m sure it smelled amazing! We discovered through the afternoon snacking that one can of olives was insufficient for Harper and Reagan, that Harper now likes celery, and everyone really likes mini cucumbers and cranberry sauce.

Outdoor Photo Shoot

Megan scheduled a 20 minute photo session outside and the kiddos rocked it! Is it hard to get 5 toddlers to look and smile at once!? Yes. Is it impossible to get?! No! Does it help when they are super cold? Yes actually. And even in the cold they did fantastic and enjoyed a cookie and candy cane on the drive back home. I can’t wait to see the results.

Surprise Visit!

Auntie ‘Manda came up for the weekend to surprise everyone and the girls were so excited. Amanda is now Reagan’s new best friend and was glued to her side the entire weekend, which was really cute. The jump park became much more fun play at her with in tow and they greatly enjoyed snuggling with her on the couch and warming up with some movies. We are already receiving requests for her to visit and play again!!

At bedtime after a busy Thanksgiving, I asked each kiddo what they were thankful for and as anticipated, received varied answers. Harper was thankful for dip (all kinds apparently) and the color black. Reagan was thankful for presents, which are sitting under the Christmas tree, and Emerie was thankful for dinner.

Harper’s favorite holiday thing was eating, specifically the cookie she decorated and celery. Emerie’s favorite things was eating chicken (turkey) and watching a movie. Reagan says nothing is my favorite today. After a bit of pushing, she claimed watching Merida (Brave) in the living room earlier in the day was her favorite. Oh well!

Overall, what a fun week it was! Each holiday season will be a bit more fun and I’m really looking forward to Christmas.

Winter Woes

One ride before it was too cold

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

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

Harper: Mom, drive faster! Catch the moon!

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

Harper: Yeah, Daddy could catch the moon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What book reading looks like now

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

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

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

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

Tiny tots!

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

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

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

Halloween Weekend

This year’s month of October didn’t exactly go according to plan, with some fun fall activities canceled and a two week quarantine with kiddos. It turns out catching the “rona” toward the beginning of the month meant we didn’t miss all Halloween weekend activities and the girls didn’t miss their classroom party and crafts.

Last minute I ran around town to find big pumpkins we could carve while Papa Cliff was here. Megan, Alyssa and the boys joined us for a fun evening spreading pumpkin guts and seeds all over the dining room and corralling toddlers to smile for a couple photos. Harper “helped” Alyssa carve a cool Olaf design into her pumpkin, Reagan and I worked on a bat together, Craig and Megan finished up Emerie’s and the boy’s designs (when they ran off to play). Emerie preferred coming and going to check out our progress but in no way wanted to help, Reagan was happy to sit on the table to put the pumpkin guts into the bowl IF they were handed to her, while Harper was the only kiddo willing to put her whole arm into the pumpkin and get messy. All in all, every design turned out great and the girls all enjoyed putting the fake lit candles inside.

The weekend festivities continued on Saturday, with the girls excitedly wearing princess dresses to dance class that morning. No one else in their class got that memo and we were the only ones dressed up, which was still cute. Harper did amazing for the entire hour and didn’t wander off a single time, while Emerie and Reagan kept switching out who had to take a break and promise to behave. Dance class is rough each week…

Matching Elsa’s!

After dance we came home and spent a couple hours playing and driving cars and bikes down the street and back, over and over again. The new John Deer tractor from Papa Cliff is well loved and everyone is now steering (more-or-less) down the street, making it a little easier on whatever adult is chasing them. I’m thoroughly impressed at the improvement on steering, and all three now want to try. Earlier in the summer Emerie was very timid about it while Harper wanted to speed and Reagan wanted to just ride with Kaden or sit behind the steering wheel.

Once everyone warmed up from the blustering afternoon, costumes were donned and we ventured over to the girls’ school parking lot for some trunk or treat fun. Everyone chose their own costume, with Emerie and Harper both Elsa from Frozen and Reagan insisting on Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Since it wasn’t the warmest afternoon they all wore color coordinated hats, gloves and warm pants underneath, in true Alaska style. Luckily the sunlight meant they didn’t have to wear coats the whole time! It took them a few minutes to warm up to the idea of walking up to strangers, but eventually they braved it and enjoyed adding new treats into their buckets. I believe the comfortable atmosphere of their school definitely helped them acclimate. We enjoyed hot apple cider (and spilled it all over the picnic table), watched a few minutes of the Peanuts film on the projector in the gym, and hung out with Rapunzel (Paris) and Auntie Janelle, Megan and the boys, and saw a teacher or two.

On Sunday we spent two hours at the local jump park, which we haven’t visited all summer, staying until everyone was demanding to leave and didn’t want to exhaust any more energy running around. The afternoon was again spent playing on bikes and toy cars, coloring and playing with trains, until it was time to neighborhood trick or treat. Pap Cliff stopped by and then Cousin Tyler, Emily, and Uncle Will joined us, walking around the neighborhood for over an hour with the girls. We had FOUR beautiful princesses with us, including Aurora (Reagan), Frozen’s Anna (Harper) and two beautiful Cinderellas (Emerie and good sport Cousin Tyler).

After a bit the girls were mostly willing to go up to the front doors with Tyler encouraging them on, with the sibling battle of whoever gets there first has the distinguished honor of ringing the doorbell. Our poor neighbors definitely received multiple rings as the adults caught up but no one was snarky about it in the least. One house Emerie ran smack-dab into a driveway reflector and Reagan, resulting in lots of candy on the ground while kid number three kept on running to push the beloved doorbell. It was hilarious. By the end of the hour, the girls were losing steam and ready to head back home. Buckets were overflowing with candy and those poor toddlers insisted we had to carry them all the way back home. Everyone enjoyed a piece (or three) of candy at the kitchen table and immediately fell asleep in their beds afterwards, before Craig even finished reading a bedtime book.

When asked earlier in the week who Craig should be for Halloween, Harper insisted dad needed to be Cinderella and mom Olaf with a carrot on my nose. At that moment she wanted Emerie and Reagan to both be Sven (reindeer) and she wanted to be Mulan. When asked the same question, Emerie responded she wanted Craig to match her as Elsa and her sisters should be Sven. Apparently Craig needs to be a princess with Tyler next year! Reagan was too busy demanding to be Aurora to answer the question for me.

This year the girls loved seeing Halloween and fall decorations, especially ones that light up our neighborhood after dark. Demands on the way to school involved slowing down and stopping at a few choice houses, just so the ooo’s and aahhhh’s from the backseat had time to happen. We now have fighting over who is “allowed” to look out the other’s window at such things, and meltdowns from the middle seater who doesn’t have my own window, awwww, I don’t have a window. They also get very upset when everyone occurs out of one side of the car and not equally on both. I can’t wait to see how they react to the much more beautiful Christmas decorations this year; clearly we will have to place a kid in the back seat for those expeditions so they have their own window for sightseeing.

At Trunk or Treat

A couple other cute observations from this past week. I may be (extremely) biased, but my kids are SMART. We grabbed a super sized sled at Costco the other day and I asked Emerie and Reagan to hold it while I pushed the cart around and collected other items. After a few minutes they weren’t holding it and I realized Reagan had taken the cart seat belt and wrapped it around the handle on the sled and closed the clip, all on her own! Smart I tell you!

As we continue to work on bad words, with somehow seems a little improved this week although I don’t know why, Reagan looked at her sister the other day and said shut your body. When I responded that isn’t very nice to say, she looked me dead in the eyes and said shut your body doesn’t have any bad words. I didn’t say shut your mouth. Smarty PANTS.

Emerie constantly corrects us now with an I’m not Reagan or I’m not Harper, even when we are talking over her and to a sister. It’s hilarious…as of course the toddler believes all things are about them. Silly girl.

And from here we roll into the holiday season!