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!

Whirlwind Week with Family

It’s been six years since I last saw my brother and his family, who live down in Washington. Six years is quite a long time, especially considering four additional kids were added between the two families since we last saw one another, several job changes and a lot more grey hair (or just less hair in general?!). To make up for lost time and no major traveling during the pandemic, we crammed a TON of things into the past week during their Alaska visit; equally quite a whirlwind of fun.

I’ve looked forward to this week for ages. I love that Craig’s family is not only large and full of a lot of spirit (you know who you are), but also the fact that they are close by in other cities in Alaska, and often travel to or through Anchorage so the girls really know their extended family, cousins, grandparents, and so on. My side of the family is not only significantly smaller in comparison, but the few members I do have are far away or have chosen to live their lives apart from ours and not know the girls. It’s never bothered me to have a small family (one brother versus Craig’s seven siblings), because close friends who love you as part of their family is all that’s really needed and we have many of them! It is also a marriage perk to be brought into a big family dynamic. This week definitely warmed my heart, seeing my brother and sis-in-law and nephews, watching all the kiddos interact and get to know one another, and spending time with my side of the family after so long and introducing them to some of Craig’s side.

After throwing the kids together into forced friendship and insisting everyone are cousins, we stopped off at the park to get some energy out and let the bonding begin, then loaded up into two vehicles to venture out to the reindeer farm for an afternoon of exploration. The weather turned out perfectly, not too hot or cold with sun by the end, some snacks (for the kids and the reindeer) and fireweed ice cream (hated by the boys but enjoyed by the girls), and horse rides! The kiddos especially liked feeding the reindeer, more so this year because of the fence buffer that kept pushy animals from force feeding themselves. Last year the girls were less than impressed at the frenzy of reindeer excitement around them and more concerned about their safety.

While feeding the moose and reindeer were enjoyable and produced lots of preschool conversations and questions; the big, afternoon hit revolved around horseback rides for all, playing in the big sandbox filled with sand toys and dinosaurs, and climbing in the giant tubing and rolling back and forth. The latter was especially fun for Aunt Jenny, who ended up rolling around with a couple kids in tow and a lot of giggling. Reagan enjoyed the horse rides the least of the group for some reason, especially since she was so excited to do it upon arrival. Everyone else was all smiles, waiting for their turns. I am also happy to report we wrangled a driving nap out of four of the five kiddos on the way home.

Another activity of the week, planned since the canceled 2020 trip, was family photos. My excitement for this has spanned two years and is probably more realistic now that the girls are four. Ate age two, it very very difficult to contain the wildness, let alone get them to focus on a camera and smile. So with five kids under eight, four adults, a lot of mosquitoes, and a million promises of Swedish fish gummies and ice cream bites in return for smiles, we managed to get some good ones.

Family photos are always chaotic, but the end product is absolutely worth the behind-the-scenes effort. It is no small task to match multiple kids, redo hair and clothing, and strive to keep them clean until picture time. This is the first time we didn’t drive out to the valley for our summer session, which was a lot simpler logistically! I also realized after our session that we forgot to do a couple with just the girls together and then just the boys together, but in the chaos of it all, our photographer did a great job capturing some precious moments between our families and even pulled some smiles out of the boys.

If you are curious about our amazing photographer, his website is here!

After pictures Jenny and I took the kids over to the jump park, as promised to the boys for a good photo session; after about thirty minutes the girls were completely over the busy day and maniacs from exhaustion. We ended up going home with everyone crying and doing a quick dinner from Taco King and letting everyone calm down. Busy, busy day!

The next afternoon Craig and I ambitiously trekked down to the Kenai Peninsula sans any other adult entertainers (that sounds wrong!), i.e. Grandma Sue, which greatly helped our survival last summer. We now know the key to prepping and packing for a trip is to drop the girls off at preschool for the morning and packing and loading the car while they burn energy at school. This genius plan allowed us to get everything ready to go, the house cleaned and yard trimmed and watered, and on the road by 1:30 in the afternoon. This, however, did not result in a nap on the drive down. It did result in a LOT of snacks and a movie, and we made it all the way into Sterling without stopping.

While my children are definitely bigger sassers and back-talkers than when we did this trip last year, they are also a bit more responsible than their three-year-old selves, making hanging out much easier than last summer. Even in the midst of the “full moon attitude” never ending this month, they are more content running around the yard, playing with buckets of water and nets on the dock, and even minimal movement activities like coloring at the kitchen counter. It is definitely more manageable now to be away from home for a few days, and really great when additional family members are in tow. It is also a breath of fresh air after some previously difficult outings when they were younger and nice to feel a bit more normal.

We spent an exuberant amount of time playing out on the lake and enjoying the sun, riding the jet-skis and getting pulled behind it on the triple-seated float. The girls started out a little tense and nervous on the first ride with me, but by the end of the day were pros and all asking to ride it again and again. It was quite hilarious to hear their shrieks of joy from all the way across the lake, that turned from fear to bliss throughout the day. The boy cousins joined in too and the adults took turns riding in the float while Craig or Miss Becky drove.

Most of the first day was spent outside before the girls actually went into the cold water; in fact, cousins Corbin and Elliot, who don’t live in Alaska, jumped off the dock long before the girls even dipped their feet in. By the end of the afternoon everyone was walking around in it, with Elliot running in circles and jumping off the dock. Harper was quite content reorganizing the rope on the dock and tying knots around things while Reagan and Emerie filled buckets of water from the lake and played with the mesh nets. Cousin Corbin mastered catching the tiny fish around the dock and showing them to everyone before re-submerging them; Elliot was happily jumping off the dock into the water on repeat. Aunt Jenny showed everyone how to direct the kayak (with a rope connected so the water didn’t take anyone way!) and the adults even managed some relaxation while the kids played. It was a really nice, normal afternoon that resulted in tired and tanned kiddos!

Everyone then hung out for family dinner at Jaren and Savaya’s house down the road. The kids mostly played around the yard or demanded to run circles around the fire pit…at least until Emerie fell into it. All in all, it was a wonderful, fun filled day, catching up with family and enjoying the midnight sun.

Our only hiccup that night was Reagan’s puffy eye, which resulted from her full on crash into the bathroom doorknob. It probably deserved some icing, but it happened right as everyone was headed to bed and we didn’t realize it was such a hit until the next morning. That or she just wanted to match Emerie’s left eye, which is still slightly droopy from her May surgery.

Reagan’s fancy eye and ice cream face!
Flowers for her Tyler

The next day we adventured over to a beach in Kenai to play with sand and collect pretty rocks, which were plentiful. The boys wandered down the coastline without a care in the world, checking things out and living the dream. Eventually Keegan ended up catching up to them to bring them back while Jenny and I found some really cool looking rocks. Since the fishing trip was a no go this year and we spent most of our time on the beach least year with great, family survival rates, we made sure to visit at least once over the weekend. Turns out it wasn’t sunny across the peninsula like at our weekend home base, and the girls weren’t quite as thrilled to play in the blowing wind and cold. After additional layers of hoodies and pants from the car, they collected pretty rocks and buckets of sand, flew kites, and picked the wildflowers. Emerie even picked a beautiful purple bouquet for Tyler.

Harper and the squeegee

After the beach adventure, lunch and some chocolate ice cream from the place with the giant cone that we kept driving by, the kids and I loaded into the boat and took a few turns around the lake with our host Joe. Elliot insisted he was having fun as long as he had a strong, death grip on both of my hands and I didn’t move. The highlight on the excursion, which likely looked ridiculous from the shore, was spinning in a few circles, trying to grab a squeegee that fell into the water. No children were injured in its retrieval and the girls thought it was hilarious when it took multiple tries to grab it. Harper then gave it a bunch of licks afterwards and “washed” the front windows as we rode back to the dock. Gross.

Through my normal torture methods, we ended our weekend adventure forcing the family into matching family T-shirts. Becky humored me and snapped some photos with her nice camera and after a week, I finally figured out a bribery candy the boys actually like…gummy worms!

It felt amazing to get out of town and a break from the mundane for a few days. It was also a much overdo family hang out with almost all of the girls’ cousins; we were missing cousin Chatum! The trip demonstrated that each year traveling gets much easier and less stressful than prior years. It’s about damn time!


We ended our vacation week at the Scottish Highland Games festival out in Palmer. Spending nearly six hours out in the sun, it is definitely our longest festival time since the girls were born and getting much easier to explore, entertain and contain the littles without complete parental burnout by the end of the excursion.

The girls sampled half the food at the event, eating dipping dots ice cream, several shaved ice flavors, hot dogs and French fries, and a ton of lemonade. They walked around the entire event, since we didn’t bring the wagon, and were quite the hit in their kilts, which matched Craig’s. We stopped at the bathroom about a thousand times, taking those kilts on and off and on and off. At one point I even dropped my phone in the toilet; after giving it (and my hands) a solid soap scrub, Emerie made sure to announce to the entire festival my mishap. Silly girl.

Harper and Emerie put a fire out at the fire truck with Dad while Reagan watched and all three climbed into the truck, asking the firefighter a ton of questions about switches and buttons inside the rig. I had to force them back out; they didn’t want to get down. We checked out the ax throwing booth, Craig’s favorite, and the girls looked at all the custom made axes. We watched the local dance groups for a few minutes, something that brought out major excitement in Harper, who asked the rest of the afternoon to go back and see them.

The musical entertainment that afternoon consisted of two sets of unrelated twins: the Harptwins and the Volfgang Twins. It was so random! We wandered over to the stadium before the show and took a photo of everyone- the girls were shy and unsure about adults that look identical. I’m not sure I’ve ever met identical adults that dressed the same and it was a fun experience. I mean come on, how cute is this picture!

After spending the whole afternoon in direct sunlight, the girls didn’t fight sitting and watching the Harptwins’ show. Camille and Kennerly, on their second visit to the Highland Games, had a set full of twin jokes and sarcasm that was quite entertaining. They joked they mixed up who stood where on the set and that the audience didn’t appreciate all that effort…since you clearly can’t tell them apart. Harper was happy to sit on my lap and watch them in action on their harps; Emerie and Reagan eventually wandered off for another potty break and then face painting.

It was the first time I sat through any type of show since becoming a mom and much overdue and welcomed. The Volfgang Twins came out for the last several songs and the girls made it back with fancy face paint to watch them play on the big drums. By the end of the show we were all tired and loaded up and went home.

All in all, a great week of memories with family, friends, and adventure ❤

3.5 Year Update!

The second half of summer kept us very busy, between the impending allergies and ear infections and all the outdoor adventures to be had! I’ve put the “pen to paper” less than I wanted to document some of the excitement, but managed to remember a few things that might bring a chuckle or two. As we round into fall and the impending winter, getting outside as much as possible is on the high priority list, among other things like dance, bike riding and lots and lots of Frozen II and Beauty and the Beast.

The girls are using their new found abilities to make our lives more interesting, especially as they figure out how to do more things independently. Every other moment of the day seems to produce requests (demands) for adult assistance, help open something, turn the music up, turn down the music, find a snack, retrieve a stolen toy, and on and on. One often turns around to find someone digging in the refrigerator, or helping themselves to that candy on the counter by way of a dining room chair, or trying to “help” you complete a chore like emptying the dishwasher or getting silverware out for dinner. Many days the girls will insist on buckling into their car seat and refuse help, even after major dawdling and getting sidetracked or distracted by every little thing. Reagan definitely has the buckling down; it is clear she will continue to excel at these types of skills as she grows and show her sisters how to do them. The other day she zipped up her coat on her own and now demonstrates the new skill to her sisters. In fact, we often find her assisting Harper and Emerie when they ask for help and it’s incredibly sweet. Then there’s Emerie, who climbed into the driver’s seat after pickup one day, sat down and instructed me to sit in her car seat because, well, I drive us home. We had quite the epic argument when I told her to get into the back.

This month’s major discovery involved the recognition that television personality Alexa can and will listen to their requests and start a show for them. After discovery a new movie download on Amazon Video by unsupervised remote clicking, parental controls and pin numbers are now connected to anything credit card related. There are definitely some digital perks that can go the opposite direction when it comes to kiddos and you never think about them until they happen.

New activities these days relate to riding scooters and balance bikes, checking out the new-to-us kid sized four-wheelers, coloring as much as possible and becoming professional blanket fort builders. In very rare form, one evening we even had a fifteen minute break from the usual toddler wars for all three to create a blanket fort under one of the doll strollers, with pillows and stuffed animals and many giggles arising from the blankets. All three playing together, in close proximity, ends in tears and/or fighting 99% of the time; that fifteen minutes, completely inspired by them with unassisted construction, was truly a cute sister moment.

While Craig and I continue to track down kid-sized four wheelers (two down, one to go!), I will admit the girls are still hesitant to drive them, all opting to allow Kaden to chauffeur or ride on Daddy’s wheeler. We hope by next summer they will be ready to tackle the solo art of driving and steering…you know…for a four year old.

We took an impromptu four-wheel trip one afternoon to Eklutna, a beautiful spot about 45 minutes from our house, that I used to camp at or fly into as a kid. For one of our first “let’s just go for it” activities with the girls, it went great! We loaded up for a good nap on the way, with everyone ready to hit the short trail to the lake after a post-nap snack. The whole afternoon went surprisingly smoothly and it felt wonderful to do something normal and unplanned as a family, getting out and about in the gorgeous fall weather. Other less motor driven adventures, such as berry picking and wood exploration, also top the list of great and inexpensive activities and result in delicious blueberry pies and tired toddlers.

Neighborhood balance bike adventures are another popular household past time; the exciting part equals that some treks go wonderful and others result in full meltdowns in the middle of the street. Harper is by far the rock star on this activity; it’s hard to keep caught up on a walk. By next summer I believe she will be riding a real bike, without training wheels, since she already speeds down the road and holds her legs up to balance. Emerie is much more resistant to riding the bikes but generally joins in on the fun, and Reagan can almost keep up with Harper if she really tries, but appears a little more timid than her daredevil, speedy sister.

Goofy attitudes emerge on a daily basis and I try to capture as many of the entertaining moments as I can, since they seem to vanish from my short term memory so quickly (I blame mom brain). Each drive home carom daycare brings a sample of entertainment and I never guess what topics might emerge. Sometimes they want to dye daddy’s hair yellow, or they need to find daddy some necklaces, or provide strict instructions such as mom, no dancing in the car. You can only dance at 11 o’clock. Mom! No singing either, singing is only in 20 minutes. Always very specific instructions, discussed between the three of them, albeit not always well thought out.

Lately Emerie sings a song with the days of the week, which is super cute right? Well she has something against Thursday and fully disagrees that it should be included in her melodies. You will hear her humming to herself and break out with Sunday, Monday, Tuuuesday, Wednesday, Friiiiiday! Any correction is met with Mom I not like Thursday.

The latest, randomly complicated request involves Mom, I want the fever! The fever Mom! Now most folks won’t understand this odd request, especially during pandemic days when NO ONE wants a fever in the house- calm down folks…they are referring to their latest love of all things Ana, Elsa, Olaf and Kristof related, and the short film called Frozen Fever. Fun fact…it isn’t really a short film if played on repeat. The little part of our toddlers’ hearts that fell in love with Wreck It Ralph and Tangled is now replaced with a love for both Frozen movies and “the one with the beast” or “I want to watch Bell,” i.e. Beauty and the Beast. They adore all the Frozen songs, which are played continuously in the car, and have a major fascination with the Beast, who is not nice but learns to be nice– hiding under blankets when he is scary but reminding each other he learns to be nice by the end.

Any guesses what they want to be for Halloween this year?! I bet you can guess.

Other miscellaneous household updates- Emerie’s latest eye check went great. We preemptively took her a bit earlier than scheduled after complaints her bad eye was bothering her. The doc says it appears to be an allergy related irritation and she hasn’t complained much more as the weather turns colder. Now that my little isn’t so little, she’s able to do vision tests by identifying pictures across the room (instead of letters like adults) and she is great at it. While waiting for Dr. Winkle to come in, I asked her about one image she wouldn’t answer, thinking she didn’t know what an old phone from the 50s was. She looked me right in the eye and said it’s a phone. When I responded with how do you know, she said because everybody calls it that, Mom!


Harper, Age 3.5

As we start the second half of age three, the girls all have different quirks that are quite evident. Harper is the doll enthusiast, loves to carry them around, tuck them in and change their clothes, and is by far the girliest of the three. She loves wearing “pretty dresses,” tutus, necklaces, crowns and pretty bows in her hair and wants to be a princess. Some days she proclaims her dress is SO BEAUTIFUL; how can you disagree with that?! Black continues to be her favorite color, although pink is a close second. She’s silly and likes to do things like slam her doll’s head against the metal gate, then grabs her with a awww poor baby, let’s snuggle. Her need for speed continues on everything; running, biking, informing you to drive the car faster, all of it.


Emerie, Age 3.5

Emerie continues to be the builder and loves to make block and train track creations. She also really likes to destroy them and watch them crumble (like Stitch does in Lilo and Stitch!). She enjoys wearing roller skates and is definitely the flexible gymnast and tumbler. She becomes increasingly opinionated everyday and lets her voice be known, especially on things like eye patch choice in the morning, when to wear her glasses, or when she should go to sleep. Her latest obsession is water play, which was perfectly fine over the summer when outside- now we often find her playing with cups in the bathroom and using the floor as her canvas. She belts out several of the Frozen songs with all her heart, and while not on pitch, it is definitely one of her cutest moments. She also loves to sing Patty Cake and knows the whole thing.


Reagan, Age 3.5

Reagan is still our artsy-fartsy one. She now colors within the lines and traces shapes on her own. Having her home most of last week showed her enthusiasm with markers and paint and she did a great job staying entertained while we put in work hours. She is so very proud of her masterpieces and most often wants Papa Lon, Tyler or Papa Cliff to see them. If I don’t bring all the coloring sheets home from school each day, she demands we go get them before we load up. Her second love is playing with kinetic sand and play dough, and you can’t forget about dancing! She also eats any type of muffin, although I believe zucchini mini muffins are her absolute favorite.

Bedtime at this age is proving to be one of the most difficult times each day, with drama playing out each night on cue and equals just as grumpy early risers. The lack of nap time is also causing very overtired littles, who do not want to go to bed, and we are back to the go to bed in their room, end up in ours sleep routine. Not sure how long this will last but I could use a nap.

Harper and Reagan still share height and weight, both coming in at 41.5″ tall and about 35 pounds. Emerie maintains her 31 pounds and is only an inch behind, at 40.5″. That means everyone is in the 99 percentile for height, to no one’s surprise!

Pray the second half of age three is smoother than the first half…although I won’t believe it unless it happens.

Allergies and Veggies

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

Good thing they are cute!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing with sand

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

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

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

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

Me: Oh, like a personal shopper!

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

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

Another drive home centered around dinner options:

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

Emerie and Reagan: “and chocolate for taste!”

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

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

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

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

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

Not a happy Harper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Beaches to Backcountry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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