Triple Travel to Juneau

Craig and I had an epiphany a few weeks ago, and decided to make a scheduled work trip into a full family trip to Juneau, with the girls spending day times with Grandma Sue, Auntie Amanda and Papa Lon while we both went into the office each day.

The house was filled with excitement, unsurprisingly, at the thought of 1) riding on an airplane; 2) going to the mysterious Juneau; and 3) seeing Grandma Sue’s house. In fact, over the past year these children continued to call us out about the lack of visiting the infamous Juneau, a detail that is problematic according to all three and cause for complaining.

Our household somehow made it through the entire month of January without catching any significant illnesses, which is a first in our journey of having children. January’s are typically sleepless, full of coughing fits and/or puking and of course darkness due to the dead of winter- all such lovely memories. Healthiness was very welcomed, as I’ve been working late every night for much of this winter, even canceled my rotating Friday off schedule (that I’ve worked for a decade) to accommodate more hours, and have definitely had a fear that something would take the whole family down for a week or more, like the RSV bout in November.

Of course, several days before our trip a new cough started with Emerie, and after a few days she felt better but Harper and Reagan presented symptoms. Luckily it wasn’t significant enough to cancel our plans, and off we went toward adventure! It would turn out that the girls would cough our entire trip- I even have one home from school today as I finish writing this from it- silver lining was when they were calm or sitting (such as on a plane), then one couldn’t even tell they had a cough at all.

Pre-flight photo in the ANC parking garage

We managed to fit the whole family’s clothes and toiletries into two suitcases on the way down, bringing also a carry on suitcase with the important essentials like Reagan’s stuffed pandas (all three), Emerie’s turtle from Dr. Winkle and its baby turtle as well as her purple blanket, and of course Harper’s spotted seal and puppy dog, and then packed an additional tote stocked with winter boots, snow gear and some toys for downtime entertainment at home. In true girly style, several dress-up dresses and the princess heels made the cut, so everyone could strut their stuff at Grandma’s house.

All three rocked matching cupcake themed dresses, Frozen princess coats and grey flower boots for the flight down; excited to show Grandma their outfits on arrival. Emerie demanded to wear her summer sunhat, you know, for all that sun we expected to see over the week in Juneau…

Anchorage received another snow dump the night before our trip, but nothing significant enough to affect airport operations and our flight schedule. With the heavy snow loads this year, we no longer bat an eye at six inches of accumulation; I’m not sure how I really feel about that, but at least it is beautiful out. What a year to enjoy that as a kid! We loaded everything into Craig’s expedition first thing in the morning, including three, folded car seats from my SUV. I dropped him curbside with everything but our kitchen sink, then parked and walked inside with the kids. They complained about the cold and snow as we descended the parking garage, and were instantly excited to see the escalator stairways going down and back up to the ticket counters. Needless to say, the airport is a pretty fun place (I know I am slightly biased but I’m not wrong!). Check in was simple, probably because Craig handled it all while the girls climbed around on the metal carts, a huge difference from our prior experience with Alaska Airlines booking our tickets incorrectly, and by the time we lined up for TSA, Emerie was already insisting she had to pee. Sounds about right.

They pestered the TSA agent with questions, including why everyone everything needed to go into separate bins and shoe removal. The girls were bummed they didn’t get to do the X-ray machine, but that rage vanished as moving airplanes and the snowplow crew came into view in the sterile area.

We rode the horizontal walking escalators a couple times before settling at the windows to wait for boarding. Reagan kept walking backwards on it and enjoyed going the opposite direction, even as we called her back. Of the three, she definitely seems to be the most stressed at the concept of traveling; I also expected Emerie to ask to go home immediately like she usually does. Harper and Emerie counted the parked Alaska Airline jets on the apron and others taxiing for take-off. A few stopped and then raced down the runway to go airborne, prompting everyone to ask a bunch of questions when one 747 cargo plane didn’t immediately start its ascent down the runway, listening to my response they were waiting for the”green light” from the tower controllers to proceed.

We boarded the plane, with the girls quite the hit walking down the aisle toward the back of the full plane. We all sat in one row, and after Reagan refused the window seat, let the lady sit by it instead of in the middle of our family. Reagan and I sat on one side and Craig took the aisle opposite, with Emerie in the middle and Harper looking out her window.

Ultimately it was an uneventful and smooth flight, much to my happiness. The girls were slightly nervous when speeding down the runway as the terminal sped by, and hollered quite loudly we are flying!! once we left the ground. Passengers around us had a good chuckle. Reagan held my arm until we were over the inlet, and then happily watched Aladdin the rest of the ride while the other two watched Monsters Inc.

Harper enjoyed looking out the window at the mountains for the first few minutes before deciding it was way too bright out with the sunlight over the clouds. Since it’s only about a 75 minute flight, we didn’t break out the real snacks and gave each the bag of pretzels. While Reagan snacked on some, she mostly used them to create letters on her tray table. We did learn that preschool sippy cups do pressurize in the air. I perfectly timed my restroom break during this realization, when Reagan went for a drink of juice and it shot all over her and the three unsuspecting passengers sitting a row back.

During the flight, all three undoubtedly had to see the tiny bathrooms, and practically made it back to their seats before either parent could push the flush button, as that was terrifying. And as I predicted, about ten minutes from landing and after one, in-flight relief, Emerie announced a pee emergency- for the record she survived AND didn’t have an accident.

Eventually rental cars were selected, car seats installed (by Craig) in Grandma Sue’s rig, and luggage picked up, and we were off like a herd of turtles for our Juneau adventure.

Each night the girls co-slept next to one another in Grandma’s guest room and then whoever fought the longest was able to sleep next to Craig. It became quite the debate and cause for consternation, until everyone had their turn to snuggle. Overall they all slept quite well, other than their never ending coughs, and didn’t have a night-night nummy (melatonin sliver) even once for the week, which we definitely relied on during past vacations. Only one night Harper wandered out to the couch to spend the rest of the night next to me.

Day 2 – Valentine’s Day!

I still chuckle that my advisory board work trip corresponded with the holiday of love. While Craig and I had a long work day, the girls had a fun filled day with Grandma Sue, Auntie Manda and Papa Cliff. They conned the adults into some good treats (probably more than we even know at this point!), extensively played with pink balloons, and sported their heart boutique dresses I lugged down from Anchorage. They rocked new beaded necklaces and “purses” from Papa Cliff and Grandma Sue attempted heart hairstyles. Everyone decorated heart shaped sugar cookies with sprinkles and licked the sprinkles and icing off a cookie afterwards. The unlicked cookies circulated both the DPS and DOT offices.

During the day the girls ran around town with Grandma and Amanda, made custom cards and drawings for Mom, Dad and grandparents, and dressed up as princesses. They snuggled with Papa Lon and watched some television, once the coughing increased. It was pretty much like a standard weekend day at home. We went to Bull Winkles for dinner, where the girls ate absolutely nothing Craig ordered. And the pizza was pretty good! They did enjoy the arcade games, where we watched them win first place on the motorcycle racing, quite impressive. Who knew they could steer so well?! The girls also demanded to watch Lion King with Amanda later that night.

Day 3 – Clearly going south wasn’t going to equal warmer or less snowy weather, with slushy precipitation falling almost the entire visit. Enough accumulation allowed the girls to make a fancy snowman, and Sue to text me she was teaching the girls how to use spray paint. By nightfall it was melted into a pile of spray paint slop, and the girls called it a flat snowman. Everyone “helped” Papa Lon plow the driveway on the four wheeler, like they do with Craig at home.

With the advisory board meeting taking up my entire work day as well as the entire evening, it was great to know the girls were out having fun with family and keeping their grandparents on their toes! The house wasn’t even on fire by the time I made it home and all kids were fast asleep, not that I harbored any doubt of Grandma Sue’s abilities!

Day 4 – I don’t have a lot to report on this fun day, except that “fun” might not be the descriptive word Craig would use for his day. Grandma and Amanda brought the girls downtown to visit Daddy at work and then headed to lunch. About halfway through my work lunch I received a text from Craig that Reagan puked the contents of her stomach all over him after a cough; getting almost nothing on herself. Luckily Sue and Amanda were able to handle cleanup and kiddos in the moment, and keep any other lunch goers from turning too green in the process.

We enjoyed a deer roast for dinner that night that Lon hunted earlier this winter, with potatoes, veggies and rolls. Emerie scarfed down two servings immediately while her sisters took a bit more convincing. It was delicious!

Day 5 – I took a few hours of leave on Friday in attempts to take the girls to the beach with Grandma and Auntie Manda. Mother Nature didn’t receive the memo and we saw continuous, slushy snow the entire morning and temperatures hovering around freezing. After a Costco run the girls continued coloring at the table and watching movies inside. Their coloring creativity continues to expand and it’s cute to see the little people, animals and flowers that emerge on paper. Harper makes a really cute sunflower! We never made it to the beach, and will have to table that adventure for our next, more summery visit.

We did hit up a couple stores around town to burn some time, and managed to get ourselves immediately kicked out of the only kid play area in town. The lady claimed the girls were coughing too much; but if she had given them five minutes to settle in, they would have calmed down and been fine. Instead she followed them around with sanitary spray and then demanded we leave. Amanda and I took them around the other mall and let them look through a couple knick-knack stores to burn some time. They conned me into purchasing bunny ear headbands in their colors, some kid jewelry (such as the tiara Harper wore the rest of the visit), pretend paper money and click together markers (that were really cool!). After walking out of the first store, Emerie instructed us to wait, Mom, I have to say goodbye to my husbands, turned, and hugged all the mannequins. So random!

Also random, walking down the freezer aisle at Three Bears, we met the aunt of one of the local triplet sets in Juneau that we’ve never met before. It really is a small world; this is the second time this month I’ve met a new triplet family member randomly at the store!

After painting a custom picture at Papa Cliff’s house later in the afternoon, we enjoyed family dinner with cousin Chatum and Auntie Salena. Much to my happiness, Sue made my favorite chicken fried steak, green beans and potatoes, and the kids ran around wreaking havoc.

On the flight home we switched up the seating chart, with me at the window, Emerie in the middle next to an older gentleman who talked about Frozen and Elsa with her, and Craig on the aisle with Harper and Reagan next to him. While the girls asked several times over the week when we would go home, they wished to stay with Grandma when we arrived at the airport. Even with the laid back schedule and crummy weather, they know she makes everything fun and exciting and they greatly enjoy her visits.

We ended the flight with Emerie’s announcement she had to poop, but not before I jotted down some of her ridiculous questions throughout the trip:

  • When does this plane go upside down?
  • Are we going to land on the water?
  • When are we done driving on the clouds?
  • Where are the clouds? (as we were flying in them)
  • Why is that light on (the fasten seat belt sign)? I don’t like it; turn it off.

The girls slept nearly twelve hours on the first night at home, indicating their level of travel exhaustion. It was a great trip and easier than our adventures last year. Not lugging around strollers, a diaper bag and diapers, not to mention easier scheduling without needing to fit naps in each afternoon, made the whole trip much more simplistic. The new headphones were a hit, in their colors of course, so everyone could watch a movie on our iPads. It’s a blessing that they sit that long now, and the plane ride went by pretty quickly because of it. I also learned I should pack more snacks; they didn’t eat any on the way down, but our afternoon flight on the way back, cleared out the whole bag. If it was a longer flight, I would definitely need more.

We are already looking forward to the next one!

Surprise Adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 ❤

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!