Kickin Off the Summer

The Douglas household was fully embracing summer by the middle of May. A little optimistic, maybe, but also a nice break from the dreary and cold winter and spring. Harper’s obsession of shorts and dresses has passed to the other two and everyone now strongly demands such attire each day, regardless of the weather outlook. Fancy dresses were worn during gardening and throughout the long, sunny weekend.

The neighborhood will often witness three princesses biking down the street, in full-length princess dresses, heels (although they are learning heels are hard to bike in!) and bike helmets. Harper led the charge on the peddle bikes and training wheels and had the process completely down in about two days. For the most part her understanding of breaking is learned, other than when stressing down a “big” hill, freaking out and slamming into a curb. Reagan was right behind her and picked up the peddling a few days later. Her stuffed panda is mandatory for all rides. Emerie has no desire to climb on the bigger bike and races around her sisters on the pink balance bike. Occasionally Reagan will opt to ride hers and fly down the street with her legs out, balancing! We plan to let Emerie decide when she wants to transition to peddles, especially considering her balance is still off a bit from her recent surgery.

In addition to the almost daily neighborhood bike rides, we are back to the constant water play. With dandelions in bloom, custom versions of dandelion soup and tea are the hits of the house. Every time you turn around you find dandelion parts, water, and flower petals. The girls designed some great food off the fallen petals on the floor of Bells Nursery this week. And those are free! A number of bouquet deliveries have also occurred and I can confidently say that our lot has no growing dandelions at the moment.

Another really cute moment during a bike ride last week; Emerie found a field of seeding dandelions on a nearby neighbor’s lot and abandoned her bike to collect them. By the time we caught up to her, she was hollering she found a bunch of wishes! So cute.

Reagan already mastered the art of swinging and while she knows how to do it, she still wants to be pushed sometimes. Harper and Emerie study their sister’s new skill and are starting to do it themselves too. New types of swings continue to pop up on our property thanks to Craig’s creativity and we now have a front tire swing and normal swing, and three regular swings, a trapeze bar and a fancy sun seat in the backyard. This week the girls all learned how to do a back flip holding the trapeze and are so thrilled to show it to everyone.

The Douglas family is also growing again (calm down, not THAT) with the arrival of baby chicks. As shouted at me when arriving home from work to them, we got Easter eggs! We briefly tried adopting some last year but quickly learned the girls weren’t quite ready to be gentle with them (and I might have threatened Craig’s life if we kept them). This time around is going much better. Craig told me he showed all three how to gently help the babies drink water while I was at work; Emerie’s first attempt was more like a shove-the-entire-chick-into-the-water type of “help,” but she will learn. Reagan and Harper are quite gentle with them but enjoy petting their heads more than feeling the scaly feet on their hands. A few have definitely tried to learn to fly in the moment from getting thrown by a stressed out preschooler; none of them have died yet either! When asked what everyone is named, the quick consensus was all names starting with ballerina (Ballerina Emerie, Ballerina Harper, Ballerina Grandma, Ballerina Tyler) or Ling-Fong. Yes, we will work on better names as they get bigger.

We are almost three weeks out from Emerie’s surgery and her eye is straightening nicely. Unfortunately this improvement is tied to a very droopy left eyelid (like her first procedure) and now that she’s a bit older, she has more opinions on it and tells people her eye is closed or that it won’t stay open. She asks to go to Dr. Winkle to fix it too. Her patching and wearing of glasses continues to be a daily battle; she is such a trooper while patched and distracted with an activity and while a bit less balanced, still works really hard to do everything her sisters do while wearing it. I’m thoroughly impressed at how well she handles her wobbles and continues having fun and try to give her credit and praise when it goes well.

A few more girls nights have occurred over the past month and I feel as though they are getting easier to navigate by myself. Maybe it’s because we are getting into a groove; more likely it’s due to the yummy food and ability to chow down on dinner with a movie in the living room, which we don’t do any other time. This week elevated temperatures resulted in a granted ice cream request to kick off girls night before dinner, and went really well.

The three day daycare closure and holiday weekend meant a solid six days with the kiddos home. While exhausting and very stimulating, the girls slept in later than normal due to efforts to tire them out all day, no naps and direct sun beaming down through most activities. Reagan even slept until 9:30 one morning! I’m guessing a growth spurt is right around the corner.

The majority of Memorial Day weekend was spent outside with lots of adventuring and activities. We played at the beach (an Alaskan beach with dry, cold sand!), played with the water slide and pool in the back yard, ran the sprinkler, destroyed the back deck with smashed orso balls, shopped for and planted flowers and vegetables, had play dates with friends, went to the park, explored Saturday market carnival rides, and so much more. The girls continue to be fearless and went down a three tiered slide for the first time. Emerie bonked her forehead on the second trip down and was less than impressed and Megan nearly broke her leg (again) at the same time. Everyone loved the carousel and boasted big smiles throughout several rides. All five kiddos joined Megan on a spinning apple ride and no tears or screaming occurred, much to my surprise. It is very likely all three will be fans of fair rides in the future and that state fair this year will probably cause us bankruptcy; here I was thinking they’d be nervous or hesitant (well Emerie and Reagan anyway- Harper has always had a need for speed!).

Now that summer is here, a few trips are in the planning stages and I look forward to trekking to a couple other towns on the road system this summer. I will certainly have three extremely tanned and super blonde girls in tow for most of it…and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans we get into.

Winter Woes

One ride before it was too cold

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

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

Harper: Mom, drive faster! Catch the moon!

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

Harper: Yeah, Daddy could catch the moon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What book reading looks like now

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

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

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

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

Tiny tots!

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

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

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

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.