Outnumbered

One of my main mental night anxieties is how to handle the kiddos in the middle of the night when all three need something at once. No granted this has been an anxiety for the past three years, the response to when it actually happens just changes as the kids grow. When they were smaller this usually related to putting a lost binkie back into a wailing mouth or hurriedly comforting an upset little before the other two woke up, probably a handful of times every night. For a while this constant worry sort of sat on my chest each night after everyone was in bed, the anxiety of how to handle comforting everyone when there are three of them and only two of you.

Now that we are in the toddler stage, nights with triple upsets usually result in an adult snoozing in the nursery armchair, whispering comforts and reassurance to whoever keeps waking up while attempting to get some of your own shuteye. Not ideal but very manageable compared to years past and the girls are now much better at laying back down in their own beds.

Matching masks! It’s very hard to keep 3 wearing a mask while you walk across the hospital!

Then there are nights like one last week. We guessed it was going to be a long night, but had the kid wrong. Over the last two weeks Reagan and Harper have been fighting double ear infections and on meds to clear it; as of day seven, Reagan all of a sudden was complaining about her ear again and running a high fever. Knowing a follow up doctor visit was necessary the next morning, we prepped for a long night with an upset toddler.

On queue at about 10 pm she woke up unsettled and we plopped her into our bed, knowing her ear hurts and she would wake up the other two at some point during the night. Within an hour or so, and after finally dozing off with her, Emerie continued a throaty cough that resulted in a puke covered bed and conversation between her and Craig about a possible bead she swallowed in her tummy (or lodged somewhere making her cough).

This prompts and unplanned ER visit to ensure nothing is lodged in the ever important airway. Don’t worry, she wasn’t having any difficulty breathing (thank goodness!), BUT was coughing so hard and throwing up and continuously, leading us to believe she might need more intervention to rule out the possibility.

Triple doctor visit

The ER wait was extremely long, with a lot of folks frustrated in the waiting room at midnight. Craig ended up bringing her home and we managed to get all three kiddos into the pediatrician’s office the next afternoon after an unsuccessful attempt at a walk in clinic with all three in tow. Good news was nothing was obstructing the airway, bad news is allergies and long lasting ear infections are a thing. We left that appointment with a new medicine for Reagan’s double ear infection (since the Amoxicillin wasn’t working), a note to continue Harper’s Amoxicillin that was working, and instructions to keep an eye on any changes in Emerie’s cough that might indicate the bead was obstructing. We also left with the knowledge that all three had crystal clear lung sounds, indicating seasonal allergies. In fact, the flemmy cough all three have is presumably from the cottonwood shedding their “summer snow.”

While bedtime boasts the worst of the flem time, we did have one day where all three coughed for HOURS. I had an epiphany the following day that additional allergies might exist with tiger lilies, since a beautiful flower bouquet was sitting on the kitchen table. There’s a reason hospitals don’t allow tiger lilies in their flower deliveries, and after removing it from the house, the extreme kid coughing lessened a lot. So chalk one point up for mom figuring that out! Who knew!

So combine all these fun issues with a full moon and BAM, it equals out to a very long week. Thank goodness the cottonwood should be less soon! All this also slightly terrifies me…since July is not usually a month of sickness. What will winter this year look like?!

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.

Off to Daycare

In the past year we’ve unexpectedly lost our daycare situation TWICE and had six months working from home whilst watching three toddlers.

How did we do it? I feel that I’ve been asked that question about 20 times in the past week and yet I’m not entirely sure of the answer.

We have…because we had to. This same answer applies to a lot of things you HAVE to do to raise triplets and really, just to raise any number of kids in general. My mom visited once for a few weeks to help and Craig’s mom gave us two long trips to keep us sane, allow me to get through spring grant season and Craig to get in meetings.

Without the escape of going to work and having kid free time for a full day, which is what I’ve considered my relaxation time for the past three years, it’s been really hard. I’m thankful the girls are much better about going places now and whenever routine gets off a bit, it’s not the end of the world like it was when they were smaller. They’ve learned many new skills this spring and are in the midst of an age where learning and excelling are an every day thing.

So I am very happy to report we just claimed three spots in one of the daycares we were waitlisted on for a handful of months. The three-year-old classroom is called the Ladybugs and one of the teacher helpers worked at the prior daycare- something that definitely helps the transition.

First day drop off produced no tears (from kids or parents) and at half day pickup the teacher noted they did great and were very well behaved. Now that COVID restrictions are more relaxed, no masks are required for walking in and parents can once again accompany their children into their classrooms. We didn’t get this option at all at the last place and I’m thrilled we won’t have to stand outside in the cold and wait. It is also wonderful to have more of a normal experience, since we never had a taste of it with the girls cared for at home prior to the pandemic.

Another big win of the first day is something easily overlooked. All three put their coats on and walked back to the car with me- no running away, no chase routine across the parking lot, no scolding- they climbed straight into the car. After this NEVER happening at the last place, six months of maturing and going out more really helps. It sounds small but man! It’s such a difference on my sanity. A second detail worth noting…we’ve had a handful of nights with complete overnight sleeping, without any fussing or intervening! We broke the current record of nights in a row, which I didn’t actually count but am aware happened… and I seem to wake up stiff in the morning from sleeping so much harder than the past three years. It’s glorious I tell you. A third big win of the first week- Emerie’s eye patching. We’ve done a decent job at it over the past six months but recognize that she does even better with it at daycare. We are reaching to six hours a day instead of the two or three hours throughout this spring and it’s fantastic! Her eyelid is slowly becoming less droopy (as expected) and her complaints more-or-less are fewer and far between. This is yet another daily routine win for us.

Drop off the next few days proved more as expected. Craig noted the second day all three were in full, crying tears when he left and Emerie chased him out to the car one morning. Toward the end of the week this was much improved, but I’m guessing we will have a few more tearful days until they get used to the new routine. Reagan, more so than the other two, states she doesn’t want to go to school and wants to stay home with you. In fact, she’s continuing to repeat this sentiment every day and not just as we get ready in the morning. It’s very sweet but hopefully her teachers and the fun activities will eventually win her over. As we start week two, she already shares the tears before even leaving the driveway while the other two remain in good spirits.

The first, full day proved a good one. I’m concerned how well the napping/quiet time in the afternoon will go after a lot of issues at the prior place, both attributed to kids’ attitudes AND facility accommodation, and day one went off without a hitch. Reagan and Emerie eventually settled down and fell asleep; no shut-eye for Harper but she was well behaved and quiet throughout, which we take as a win. And after all, we are now on the tail end of napping anyway- where the girls still benefit from it but are more resistant to cooperate for it. The loss of the binkies greatly impacted this success.

Eccentric smiles and happy hollers are accompanied with every afternoon pickup; they are excited to see me, go home and see Daddy and of course have a little lollipop on the car ride home for a good day. On Friday everyone had a scoop of ice cream from Coldstone as a reward for a good first week. It was the first time in half their lives that they were able to go in and choose preferred colors (flavors); Harper chose a marble one and Emerie and Reagan both wanted the blue cotton candy. Uncle Will joined us and everyone happily sucked down the afternoon treat.

Now that we are in the three-year-old class, and mostly post pandemic rules, that means occasional field trips! The girls’ first trip out to Campbell Creek trail was a success. The teacher noted to me that afternoon that no one attempted to run off and they were very behaved, staying in line and listening to instruction. What a relief!! Let’s hope this trend continues.

Looking back at the past six months, while it was busy, difficult and very mentally and physically tiring for both Craig and I, it went pretty well overall. We incorporated new activities into our routine, with lots of park visits, playground playing, jump park bouncing, public outings and play dates to get out and about; I’m unsure we could have juggled all that two years back and been successful, especially with past sleep deprivation. We were also around to see the girls age and learn new things, something we would have missed working from the office all day.

All in all, glad to report things are going well!


Fourth of July Fun

After a full week of new daycare success, we were off for a long, holiday weekend playing with friends and spending time outside. It also meant our first Fourth of July parade with the kiddos. The weather cooperated and with the sun out, everyone stayed warm in their cute red, white and blue dresses and fancy hair clips. While most of the holiday activities weren’t slated toward toddler age, the girls did win a small, stuffed narwhal, were given flags to wave and enjoyed seeing all the trucks driving in the parade. After a lunch with friends and a good, solid afternoon nap, everyone spent the remainder of the day playing on the Little Tikes double water slide in the backyard.

I’ll have you know my little Alaska babies are not yet cooperative on water temperature. My age group grew up playing in the freezing cold hose water and glacial creeks and lakes for years; these girls? Not a chance. The warm water spicket installed on the back of the house this spring is now greatly appreciated by three little girls- three little girls who won’t use the water slide unless the water is warm and comfortable. As soon as the hot water tank is depleted, everyone immediately retreats to towels and complaining that the water is so cold.

Another successful weekend, albeit a very LONG one, with some adventure and fun play dates. I’ve already forgotten how we survive weekends in the winter and continue to enjoy spending as much time outside as possible with the three littles.

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.