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.

Alaska Beach Babies

This is the summer to finally test out Alaskan adventures with the three littles- why put it off any longer…until traveling is easier to handle? While going any distance away from home is minorly daunting, it is way more doable now than the prior few summers. I imagine it’s going to continue to get a bit easier each time and the more we go, the better the littles will do!

Our first (planned) family adventure and fishing trip is noted in the history books as a major success! So great, in fact, that we stayed a third night for more fun. The drive down had many comments of we’re going on a “venture!” and other exclamations of excitement; so much so that they didn’t really want to play at our brief park stop in Girdwood and we loaded back into the car quicker than expected. We brought down plenty of “in-car” entertainment- the girls colored with water pens (an amazing car activity!), played with toys on their lap seats, listened to music and commented on things out the window, watched a few TV shows, and ate their weight in snacks from their backseat snack provider, Grandma.

The first chuckle of the trip occurred prior to arrival. We pulled over at a lake for a quick bathroom break and the girls insisted on checking out these new potties, also known as a no electricity or water hut with a hole in the ground toilet (far better than outside!). All three were CONVINCED this weird bathroom set up had a loud potty, don’t flush it; even after my insistence that was not the case. It’s entertaining to see some of the toddler mentalities when it comes to exciting things like bathrooms! I will also mention the whole four days we only had one kiddo potty accident; which is AMAZING since we were out and about and on the go for most of the trip!

Overall weather for the whole weekend was perfect for both fishing and keeping littles happy and cozy while out in nature. Skies were overcast with brief sun peeking through, no breeze the first day and minimal the second meant hoodies sufficed for staying warm and the rain stayed at bay until we packed everything up the last day to go back to base camp. No bear or moose encounters happened the entire trip! A couple eagles flew overhead throughout the visit and we taught the girls how to chase the seagulls off the beach and fish lines- those are some very cute videos! Rain was timed well with evening and after fish activities and only mild on the return trip.

The girls did FANTASTIC and crashed hard in the car as we drove back to our base camp both days. They acclimated to the concept of a burning fire immediately and relaxed on their lawn chairs around it, eating snacks, chatting and playing with rocks and sand. The sand buckets were a hit, more so the first day than the second, and lots of filled water buckets were toted from the shoreline back up to the play area. Sand throwing was kept to a minimum most of the time; here and there we had to wipe off sandy faces or rinse out angry mouthfuls, but overall they did pretty well. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the triplet wrestling match the second day, with everyone trying to drag each other down and (mostly) laughing.

The girls enjoyed riding on the pull behind trailer that could fit all the kids and two adults without getting stuck! A few joy rides were given and a circle track made- a loop the kids ended up chasing one another around on for a good amount of time. Emerie favored the rides the least (she appears to be more hesitant like me on some of the craziness) while Harper and Reagan enjoyed the bouncing and speed. They also played in the “poop hole,” as the men coined it; and could impressively climb out of it like nobody’s business. It’s handy to use the chest of a fellow sibling as leverage to push oneself up…I’m sure there are some fun toys buried in there for someone in the future to find.

I should mention that we did actually fish during this excursion, setting nets out in the water based on the tides and letting them do the work for us. Craig went down the first night to help the guys while Grandma Sue and I played with the kids, Grandma bathed them while I had quick jet-ski ride on the lake, and then everyone settled and went to bed. Sleeping arrangements went better than planned; likely due to Grandma herding the sleepy cattle into one big bed (after melatonin) and convincing everyone to sleep near each other without fighting. The next two mornings were spent on the beach, setting the nets and hanging out doing all things beach related. The girls did surprisingly well at entertaining themselves and tagging along to watch the boys accomplish actual fishing. The kids also threw rocks in the water and collected uniquely colored ones- the laundry later proved that. Tiny shells were also at random down the way; Emerie especially has a good eye for finding them. They helped pick up sticks for the fire and pulled grass to help get it going.

A reel expert can tackle anything

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The assembly line method worked quite well once the nets were pulled and fish were ready for “processing.” The girls wandered around, providing comments at the spectacle while each adult did their job of de-tangling the fish from the net, throwing them in the big trashcans, cutting fillets, washing off the fish cuts, or throwing them in the freezer. We had it down to a science in no time! The kids particularly enjoyed opening and closing the cooler lid as new cuts were thrown onto the ice.

Everyone was willing to poke at the fish, especially the eyeballs, but no one would hold one. The girls were very curious and watched the experience for a bit, not getting too close. Craig convinced Harper and Emerie to give the fishies a kiss; under no circumstance was Reagan about to do it.

All three kiddos helped chase the seagulls off at the end of each day and really enjoyed hollering at them to get off the beach. We walked down the beach and chased them away- something the girls thought was hilarious. An impressive amount of birds will congregate once any amount of fish guts are out and while a little daunting, they all bravely ran toward them and watched them fly off.

We ended up with a good amount of red salmon to stock up the freezer and send home with Grandma and have already decided another trip next year is absolutely warranted. Our first three night adventure taught us that A) the girls do pretty well out of normal routine when it’s planned, B) overnight set up is very important to the success of the trip and happy kiddos (and parents) and C), having fun is actually doable! We are so thankful for Becky, who opened her house to us and let the kiddos run wild and to my boss and his family for extending the fishing invitation, kids and all. It was a really great few days and I’m glad we ventured out to have some fun. Once the weather turned, we were able to have dinner and some jump park fun with family before we returned home and catch up too.

One of the other best parts of this past weekend? I forgot about the existence of COVID- in other words, we weren’t surrounded by masks, social distancing, and paranoia. We were able to enjoy nature, being outside in our beautiful state, and socializing with with others like we did prior to 2020 (and kids). It was refreshing to get back to how things should be and our new normal with kiddos in tow. Planning for more trips is already underway, now that we know we survival is plausible for a couple days away!

Trash Truck

Thursday mornings are a popular day of week for my animated tots- this is likely due to the morning spectacle of the trash or recycling trucks taking away our leftover weekly goodies. So it comes as no surprise that one of this week’s toddler highlights was a visit to Blue Arctic Waste Solutions to meet a real life trash man and see his truck!

We hyped it up for a few days prior and then trekked across the city to their office. It was a beautiful day out and the girls were already demanding to see Bill from the time we buckled them in car seats to the time we parked the car. I’m happy to report they were total charmers throughout entire visit and didn’t try to steal a truck (although I’m sure they thought about it!).

Small details on adventures should always be pointed out…such as the fact that all the littles demanded to wear their tutus on this excursion without any prompting from Grandma or Mom. That made everything even more adorable!!

Everyone climbed into a few of the trucks under repair and sat in the seats way up high. Bill showed them the truck horn and I’m not sure that really impressed them; Emerie instantly covered both ears as everyone pointed out the obvious…that it was loud. Someday we will get used to noise, but it’s clearly not this month. Believe it or not, but all three can fit on one front seat side and it is quite endearing. The wiggling though, prevents that from being very safe so we got down from that and went back to the most exciting part of the visit in the eyes of the three-year-olds…the green forklift.

Three excited, miniature “trash ladies” climbed right into that forklift and started pushing buttons, pulling levers, pretend driving the steering wheel; all with big smiles and excited conversation and with minimal sisterly pushing. This household may like trash trucks, but we LOVE forklifts.

The second favorite part of the visit was the Blue Arctic Waste goodies Bill pulled out in the office. The girls left with small containers of mints (and a lot of mints found in their laundry the next day!), bubble wands, a coveted chapstick for each, and balloons (that were popped within 20 minutes of being home but well loved in their brief existence). A bag of mini Snickers were also opened in the car as we drove away.

It is wonderful to see the world expand through the eyes of your kiddos. Garbage trucks are not something we think so much about as adults, but to kids? They are amazing and bring exclamation and joy. They scoop up your trash and make it disappear; and then go to the next house and do it again. Their presence involves a good amount of shrieking. The girls still believe all collected trash goes to the dump and is handed off to Wreck-It-Ralph, since well, he lives in the dump, Mom!

Forklifts bring that same sentiment, especially at Costco. It was exciting, to say the least, that the girls had the opportunity to get up close and person with one and it showed in their smiling faces. They made sure everyone later knew I ride a green forklift!

Thank you so much to Bill and Blue Arctic Waste Solutions for letting us explore and see a little of your world. The girls are still talking about it.

Seward (Day) Adventures

I’ve learned to pack some extras before going on a drive anywhere out of our city and this week I am very thankful for that predisposition. We loaded up yesterday morning to adventure down to Seward and the SeaLife Center for the day…and then come back home…right?!

Wrong! Can you hear Mother Nature laughing?! She likes to do that type of thing to us (aka triplets!…).

We started the day with quite a snowy and windy drive out of town. It was close to questionable if we should call it and head home, but our group is tough and headed along with eleven kids and five adults spanning three cars. We eventually made it to a wet and more breakup looking Seward- a TON of snacks were eaten and movie clips and songs played; we managed to get there without too much grumpiness. Having Grandma and/or Daddy in the very backseat, feeding the food into the tiny minions hands definitely helped.

We unloaded and hustled the kiddos through the wind and inside to see the sea lions! as the girls quoted the whole drive down. All the kids did great checking out the exhibits and actually returning when called. As you might imagine, it is not easy to smoothly move through anywhere with a headcount of ELEVEN kids under age eight…but hey, we like a challenge and it went really well! They really enjoyed the large sea lion exhibit, looking at the different types of fish and the temporary touch tank (since the normal one is under renovation). There were a lot of little hands touching the sea urchins and star fish with great enthusiasm as well as the comments about the cold water. The kids lasted a little longer than our visit last summer but we still went through the whole thing faster than preferable. Everyone picked out a stuffed animal at the gift shop (three black bear requestes were vetoed since we already have them!) and Emerie ended up leaving with a cute, green turtle, Harper grabbed a red octopus, and Reagan a spotted grey seal. Reagan keeps asking me to hold her seal so her sisters can’t take it. Silly kids.

Instead of sitting down at a restaurant and eating lunch, we dressed everyone in full snow gear and pushed them out of the vehicle to play at Seward’s awesome toddler park. It was windy and very icy and met with great enthusiasm from the whole bunch. I cannot wait for summer when we can visit again under more pleasant conditions. This outdoor activity inspired half the kids to demand use of the portable potty chair we brought and several clothing changes. By the third kid we were ready to load up and head back home.

I do have to mention one of my favorite moments from this adventure. Two of the kiddos in our group were chatting and one noted to the other that she was related to the triplets. She proceeded to say that she can’t tell them apart so she calls them Strawberry (Harper), Grape (Emerie) and Blueberry (Reagan). I love seeing how other kids view the girls when they indeed look identical unless you are constantly around them and can distinguish by personalities or small differential traits like chipped teeth. This makes me want to design them cute fruit shirts!!

The touch pool!

Cue a change in background music…because little did we know the real adventure for the day was just beginning. The roads appeared clearer than the way in, with the temperature finally above freezing and the roads more wet than icy, making us feel confident and optimistic on a faster drive home than that morning. This thought was shattered when our speed demon driver of the group, Heather, called about the time we arrived in Moose Pass with a warning the highway was closed from an avalanche, making the road impassable.

We managed to meet up at the pull off ahead of it with our whole kid entourage. More snacks were consumed and we made the executive decision to head to Kenai and see if the road would clear in a few hours. At this point I wasn’t sure how well the girls would do with more time in the car, especially after a busy morning and no one napping yet; overall they handled it really well. I should also mention avalanche news inspired us to open the wrapped presents from Cousin Jamie and crew, because why not? The singing baby sharks greatly assisted in keeping toddler moods pleasant as we detoured an unplanned direction.

Before everyone started running around.

After hitting up the Soldotna Fred Meyer for more snacks (of course), melatonin and changes of clothes for the rest of the group (we had enough for us due to our forethought!), we sat down for a nice dinner in the backroom of a restaurant in Kenai (the name is already escaping me). The whole evening adventure worked out well for two reasons, 1) we have a great group of kiddos and parents that help each other, and 2) the backroom allowed for said hyper children to run circles, snack on some dinner, run more circles, and repeat. By the time we finished dinner, it was already past the girls’ normal bedtime and yet we weren’t completely immersed in meltdowns. This was both surprising and glorious, and shows that when given the chance, kids can adapt to things. We haven’t tested this theory very much in the past three years, since the triplet bubble remains tight and regimented, so it is really great to know when a wrench gets thrown in your plans, it is survivable!

By the time dinner was over the highway was not yet clear and open. Instead of chancing driving that distance again and not getting through with very tired toddlers in the car, in the dark on icy road conditions, we opted to hit up a hotel for the night and take our chances with convincing the girls to sleep somewhere new.

Checking out the hotel potty

As we drove to the hotel, the toddler questions in the backseat eventually ended with a we are going on an “venture” and met with acceptance, even though they had no idea what that meant.

It was close to dark and way past standard bedtime by the time we made it back to Soldotna’s hotel and the girls (and adults) were definitely losing steam. First things first, everyone HAD to check out the bathroom, test to see if the potty is loud (which it wasn’t), open the mini fridge, push microwave buttons until it turned on, and jump on the beds. No pajamas meant the girls slept in their dresses from the day, but luckily had their normal bedtime stuffies and a single binkie we packed for each. Within an hour or so everyone was snuggled in a bed and asleep; Emerie snoring quietly next to me while holding her monkey, Harper cuddled with Craig on the second bed, and Reagan sound asleep next to Grandma Sue on the pull out sofa bed. And everyone slept WELL and extra pillows meant no one fell off the sides!

We made it!

There isn’t much to tell about the ride home, with the avalanche cleared and no snow falling or potty stops needed, but I will readily admit I am really excited for summer conditions to get here already so we can try out more planned out-of-town adventures. Three years mostly confined to this city is a long time and we are lucky to live in a central location with many fun places within a few, short hours. It is nice to know it might be doable to try new places out and let the girls see other parts of Alaska that we grew up enjoying. Things should go fine as long as there are enough snacks, an overnight bag in the car just in case, extra hands and lots of car ride activities!

Age 2 Family Favorites

Everyone that knows me knows I am a fan of taking pictures of everything. This “problem” has grown exponentially since having children and more and more I’m trying to resist the effort to snap a photo versus being in the moment and enjoying it. All these photos do pay off at the end of each year when I can look over the fun adventures and challenges we’ve faced as a family, as a parent, as a society; and recognize the happy and fun parts in the midst of a very interesting age two.

Here are my favorite family snapshots from March 2020 through March 2021:

The Anchorage Zoo is always a fun stop; I’m unsure if I prefer it in the summer or winter more! The summer time brings warmth and less gear to drag around, but the snow makes the experience so gorgeous on a sunny day and allows us to go without a stroller (in other words, they can’t outrun us in their snow gear!).


Best friend play dates occurred so much over this year and I owe Aunt Janelle a ton of credit for keeping me sane throughout the chaos of 2020. This is one of the few photos I have of everyone a good sport at the same time!


Grandma Sue was here for the 4th of July this year, where we went to the wildlife preserve and made a few exploration stops along the Seward Highway. It was a beautiful day to see live bears and moose and check out the mountain views. Grandma rode in the back seat and entertained the tiny minions on the drive down and back and they loved it.


I didn’t realize until looking back how very tan our household was from spending every day outside for the whole summer. The girls loved playing on the back play sets, “riding” their tricycles on the back deck and sporting swimming suits through the sprinkler pad and small pool. Maybe this summer they’ll stop yelling about the cold water! and allow us to stop dragging hot water buckets out to fill the pool.


Fun morning adventure out to the local sand dunes. Easy trek to it with three littles and a beautiful, cool but sunny day. The girls enjoyed walking in the sand without their shoes and exploring up the big hill.


Yay for neighborhood walks all spring, summer and fall. We are blessed to live in a neighborhood with multiple playgrounds, a gravel walking trail and a creek! It has gotten us through many grumpy baby days and allowed us to get some fresh air, sanity and a lot of mosquito bites.


Can’t complete a summer in Alaska without a trip to the Sealife Center. For our first, big roadtrip, it went really well! The girls loved the park along the water more than anything else other than maybe touching the starfish in the aquarium and the silly seal outside. They napped the whole way home and it was quite the fun (and tiring!) day.


This is one of my favorite photos from the whole year, the day the girls went berry picking up in Arctic Valley for the first time. We went a bit late and missed most of the wild blueberries, opting to pick a good amount of moss berries while the girls looked for any left over blueberries to eat. It was such a fun day and I can’t wait to go in 2021!


Random visits from Cousin Tyler are adored by the littles and you should see them fight over the phone for a moment to FaceTime with him.


While Halloween was a more unorthodox this year than most, we still took our little Aurora, Cinderella and Pan (Rapuzel) princesses around the neighborhood and were joined by Papa Cliff, Cousin Tyler and Uncle Will. It was cold but the the girls were good sports and enjoyed some candy at the end of the night.


Some winter days getting out of the house meant donning snow gear and heading to the dog park for a walk and snowy adventure. Most of these ended with french fries and a hot drink…


As you might imagine, it’s a rare moment to trap these four in a photo together, especially one that doesn’t include some form of flour or butter.


It didn’t take long for the girls to overcome their fear of the loud four wheeler and understand how much fun could be had on it! Constant four wheel trips around the neighborhood as well as seventeen houses down to our friends occurred throughout the winter. As their circle snow pile grew, so did the requests to visit Jessie and crew and her chickens!


Papa Cliff visits are loved by all and the girls constantly ask when he is coming to visit again. While FaceTiming almost nightly is a great way to stay in touch, they really love his visits and all want his attention and presents!

This is our only family photo on Christmas Day. We ended up shuffling the kids out the door after presents and breakfast and trekking around the neighborhood on the four wheeler and sled. Our neighbors were kind enough to snap a quick photo (note the donut trails on the ground behind us!)


Grandma Sue’s baking extravaganzas are always meant for the memory books! This includes pink donuts and pecan bars, homemade scones and dinners, mini toddler decorated pizzas, and a LOT of flour spread across the house on a daily basis. It also means some pretty great food for us to eat!


Cousin visits are the best and we love that most of Craig’s family is only a short plane ride away. Have to celebrate these times with some sweets and adventures around the city.


Walks at the nearby boardwalk, even on cold days, give the chance for the girls to search for their favorite moosie and get some fresh air. It wasn’t so long ago they were running down the plants as new runners, excited to see if they could outrun us. How fast it goes!


I will end on our Christmas village snapshot plus Kaden. Gingerbread villages, hot chocolate (and spilling it everywhere) and running around one of the local hotels turned out to be a fun morning.

Drop us a comment on any family photos you guys have over this past year that I haven’t included here!