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.
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
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!
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.
Tonight’s bedtime story went as follows. We asked the girls to read their “potty book”, which is the night time closer before lights out. The book is from the beloved Llama Llama series and only briefly mentions potty training activities but the nickname stuck. The girls (and parents) have the entire thing memorized and we let them “read to us.”
Everyone enthusiastically (and very loudly) hollered every page and this is how it went.
(All three, not in unison but somewhat close)
Dinners over! Tuuuummmy fed. Llama llama, time for bed.
Time to brush, and fill the tub. Time to splish and splash and scrub.
(Momentum is gaining and everyone is yelling it!)
Pjs on, then potty time. Choose a book with a silly rhyme. (Reagan says that last phrase super quick)
Then Harper breaks free from the group with:
Snuggle in…TURN OUT THE FUCKING LIGHT.
And all three in unison finish with:
Llama llama, Nightynight!
I’m pretty sure that’s not quite the wording written on the pages…
But who can argue that’s pure entertainment. Raising kids can be hilarious.
And we are working on cleaning up this newfound toddler vocabulary they’re picking up….
As the girls continue to grow we are starting to see more kid (versus toddler) behavior show. Things like morning greetings either fully excited and ready to release from the. Rib in a blast of excitement (toddler) or rolling over and pulling the pillow over their heads at the sight of light (kid). Harper now likes to roll over and put the pillow over her head when she doesn’t want to get up and not move until you make demands that you’ll leave her there while her sisters are up and rolling. Reagan usually stands up and wants to snuggle immediately while Emerie will pull her blanket up over her and snuggle in more to her bed for a few more minutes, asking me to close the blinds because it’s too bright.
Favorite colors are continuing to emerge and it’s notable that at age three the girls are already venturing from their preordained NICU colors of pink, purple, teal. We assigned them at random so it’s not highly surprising. Emerie is on a blue kick and constantly asks for blue nail polish. Her new glasses have blue frames instead of last year’s purple and yellow tipped ones. Reagan is still a fan of purple and trends toward that color on many things; of course this doesn’t change her belief that all things green and blue should be hers. And Harper, my sweet Harper…is still on her black kick! She recently enthusiastically chose a new black swimsuit and was so excited to wear it. She maintains her love of the black marker and black hat, but definitely not the black jelly beans (licorice flavor). And for some reason all three girls dislike the color yellow (referred to as lullo still to my joy!).
My favorite toddler pronunciations include randoms words like marshmallow (sounds like “farshfallow”), four wheeler (“four-lala”), ballerina (“balla-leena)”) and a few others I haven’t remembered to write down. We are also into the toddler story-telling times. Reagan told me a whole story the other day about planting a seed in her water bucket, watching it grow into a tree, and that it became soooo beautiful! There are plenty of moments where all three will elaborate on a story at the same time and that is a LOT of information to process at once! Emerie enjoys telling everyone her first, middle and last name and it’s adorable. If asked she will tell people her sisters names as well; Reagan also repeats the names of people she knows at random- it goes from immediate family to naming off cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends. Reagan also calls the missing, light up peacock in the neighbor’s yard (it was a snow decoration) a moo-cock. Harper is now repeating some of the “less desirable” words that come out of our mouths as we struggle to raise triplets in the day to day. I will leave that to your imagination, since we are trying to break her of it…
The past few months I’ve paid attention to the girls new phrases and cute words. They get a few common phrases backwards and while they say them correctly in a sentence, they opposite intention is intended. For example, slamming a gate in front of someone, when they are on the other side, always comes with a I lock you in! This same sentiment is used when slamming the front or back door and yelling they locked you in, versus out. In the car when someone is sitting in the very back row, they will comment grandma is sitting in front of me or when Craig is driving a I don’t want to sit in front of daddy instead of behind. Music requests are also backwards, with turn it up meaning it’s too loud and turn it down demands to increase that volume. For now these cute things are endearing!
Speaking of music, we have a return of Patty Cake as a favorite. They will all sing it together in the back seat and it’s so cute my heart might burst listening to it! Other new requests consist of the Hairbrush Song from Veggie Tales and Five Little Monkeys, with the occasional Shake It Off demand. We also seem to listen to a lot of Mulan and Tangled soundtracks.
Current movie request in the day-to-day have more variety than this time last year, when the only thing watchable (according to those two year olds) was Tangled, Moana or Wreck-It Ralph. Now that we’ve branched out to other exciting things, requests vary from Abominable (Snowman/Yeti), which the girls refer to as the “sad snowman who has an owie,” Curious George, Blippi (most often the vehicles episode), Leap (a major favorite), and Lilo and Stitch. It usually takes a couple nights to finish one and at this point I’m not sure which is whose favorite.
Now that the ground has warmed up and leaves sprouted, our yard work consists of the children demanding we find new earthworms for them to play with and running around with all kinds of buckets and toys. Harper and Reagan will run around with the worms while Emerie is a little less inclined to touch the slime and immediately tosses them away. All other bugs are referred to as spiders, regardless of the accuracy, so many excited spider, look! shrieks occur day-to-day.
The weather in early June increased into the high 60s (finally!) and even pushing 70, so the tiny pool and water table made their summer debuts. Yes, I poured buckets of hot water from the sink into the pool; it’s definitely not hot enough for hose water yet and they did NOT like that frigid water last year. Throw in the monster wind at our house and the warm water keeps them happy longer. Added vocabulary means they now express their dislike for the water temperament. The first day the girls played a solid two hours without much intervention, simply by playing with buckets and scooping water all over the place. The second day was closer to three hours, after a solid nap with a promise of push-pops if they slept. The sprinkler and tiny, sand buckets allowed the girls to play without fighting for a long time. Throw a few more tea cups and pots into the mix for even more water fun. Who knew how exciting scooping water across the backyard and pouring it into cups could be! And it is extremely thrilling when we have moments of everyone getting along, doing their own thing, and NOT FIGHTING. They aren’t super common (yet) but at least we get them every now and then and hope to see an increase in that time this season.
A 99 cent bag of decorative glass beads resulted in grand entertainment as well. I threw all these decorative beads away last summer with the fear the girls might find them and choke; this year is a whole new ballgame and they LOVE to collect them, carry them around in backpacks and containers and boxes, and randomly holler at you when they can’t find one, which is all. the. time. Other than those grumpy moments, the girls really enjoy collecting and toting around.
Craig removed yet another baby gate, the one allowing blockading our main level from downstairs, leaving only two more in the house (one to my office and one to upstairs). We’ve talked about doing this for a while but some evenings it was needed to keep everyone contained downstairs regardless of their desire to be there. Removing it went smoothly and so far no issues destroying the half bathroom when out of sight! The best part is, since it spent more than two years in that location, we are so used to stepping over the bottom bar that we are practically tripping down the half-flight of stairs because it’s no longer there. That muscle memory is strong!
It feels great to open the house up more and get back to a semi prior-to-kids setting. Warm weather allows bigger toys to go outside on the back deck, meaning no play kitchen or Home Depot tool bench resides in the living room for the moment. It feels strange to have both recliners, the couch and our coffee table in the room; that hasn’t happened since before the baby jumpers stage! Cabinet locks are removed from the pantry area and some of the kitchen and either the girls haven’t noticed or don’t see anything interesting to get into.
House projects are back in full swing- Craig is busy busy getting things around the house caught up. This includes small projects, paint touch ups and gardening as well as removal of the unused hot tub. The yard feels so much larger without that monstrosity blocking the view from the kitchen window; it also gave more space to add a minor deck addition to better use the space. He removed the custom deck gate that we used so much the past two years to keep kiddos contained and pulled out a railing- not something we could have done in the past two years without it messing with the toddler containment and survival mode.
Warmer weather also means we have entered the “band-aid season” like a hurricane! What is this? Well, if you’d really like to know, it’s that time during the summer when the kids legs look like red, spotted polka dots against tan skin. This isn’t just because you can see said injuries while in shorts, but it’s the time when the toddlers are so busy running amuck, away from you, across playgrounds and into new adventures and wilderness; backwards, upside down, and all over the place that they have tumbles, falls, collisions and general moments of disaster that result in crying, bleeding and demands for more band-aids. Wow, that was a mouthful!
It’s that time of year when toddlers are so busy running amuck, away from you, across playgrounds and to adventure, backwards and upside down that that they have tumbles, falls, collisions and general disaster resulting in crying, bleeding meltdowns.
said every mom ever
Counting those injuries is good practice for the kids, with Harper currently winning with SIXTEEN scrapes/bruises/scratches on her hands and legs! She takes the cake on this because of one main injury over the weekend, falling on a metal grated ramp and producing a good set of bloody scratches on her leg and hands. She now asks Grandma to count her owies. Reagan managed to step backwards and fall over a rock at the conservatory, producing a little ouchie, and Emerie tumbled forward into the gravel and her glasses scratched her nose up to match Harper’s legs! A lot of band-aids and “lotion” seem to fix this for the most part.
Grandma Sue and I visited the wildlife conservatory this week on a sunny, daytime adventure. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like we had a GOOD day with the girls, with things going smoothly and attitudes obedient and happy, but this was definitely one. They did great on both drives, with the way back a decent nap for all three once they settled down. I might also mention we made it through construction (rock blasting) both directions without having to stop at the flagger, which is very rare and much appreciated.
The wind was gusting at least fifty the entire visit and while the animals didn’t seem to mind too much, the girls didn’t appreciate it but remained good sports. We redressed in hoodies, coats and sunglasses to stay warm and keep the kicked up dust out of our eyes and adventured on foot. Emerie’s new glasses have attachable magnetic sunglasses so I finally pulled out the hidden sunglasses for the other two and everyone was excited. The favorite animal of the day was definitely the first one visited, the three-legged porcupine named Kit-Kat. Shock, awe and immediate discussion was held at the sight of him peeing in his water bowl. TMI? Maybe but the girls observed it and out rightly wanted to know why he did it! The only other notable comments from the trip were the exclamation that the fox has a fireplace!, which was more of a electrical box in his cage, and the bison play basketball! because an irrelevant purple ball was out in the field with them. Random observations are likely one of my favorite parts of outdoor excursions.
Everyone insisted on collecting massive sized rocks to lug around the place. We did not discourage this since the goal of sleepy toddlers is always on our mind; by the time we made it halfway across the exhibits the girls backpacks were filled up with a few nice-sized rocks in addition to their juice, snack and dandelions. Harper carried a bouquet of dandelions well over an hour, citing they were for daddy. It is so wonderful not carrying a “house-full” of supplies in a diaper bag or backpack now that everyone is more grown up. That, and they LOVE wearing those backpacks. The wings flopped in the wind the entire time like little angel wings.
Summer is off to a good start and now that they are a bit older, I feel like going new places is much more doable. It still contains a major level of stress for me, especially when more than an hour away from home, but is also much more doable than the past two summers and much overdue.