Since the beginning of January I have gotten strep 4 times and a stomach virus. This has meant a lot of time stuck in bed while my husband takes care of the kids. At first I'm not going to lie, being trapped in bed watching tv and sleeping whenever I felt like it was kind of nice. Weird, but nice. Then the days wore on and it happened again and again. As I am sure you can guess the "nice" wore off really quickly. My baby decided his Dad was his world, the girls learned to use the microwave, pack their own lunches, and even put themselves to bed. (insert my heart litterally breaking) The next huge change was not nursing Wyatt anymore. After going to the hospital once and almost landing there again it was very clear to us that nursing just wasn't an option anymore. It was r.o.u.g.h
BUT a surprising blessing came from it all.
I was blessed with the testimony that I love being a mother. I love being surrounded by my children no matter how messy, loud and overbearing they can be. I love that my life right now is spent raising them, loving them, and being immersed in their spirits. I love that I get to wake up every day and help them learn and grow. They teach me to be more patient, care free, flexible, protective, compassionate, and confident. Through teaching them I am learning to be the best version of myself that I can be.
Honestly, what an amazing and divine calling it is to be a mother. We are raising the next generation of adults. It is just amazing to me. I hope if you have lost that flame of excitement for motherhood you can take a step back for a moment and see the reality of your calling in life right now. I hope you can see those sweet faces of your children and remember that you are not just mom, you are their rock, they comfort, their support, and their haven. YOU are there to catch them when they fall, lift them when they struggle, and celebrate with them when they soar. You are not just mom, you are their world.
If you are a mom you probably know that a key component to finding a good hotel is whether or not they have a pool. My kids go NUTS over a pool. Maybe that is just because we live in Alaska, or many it is a universal kid fascination. This past weekend we went on a stay-cation to Seward and stayed at the Harbor 360 Hotel. We passed so many cool things on the drive, endless mountains, the ocean, wildlife, etc. but what did we hear the entire drive? "Can we go to the hotel now?!" "I want to swim" "Where is the hotel?!" Lucky for these kids they had a pool AND a hot tub. Basically everything we needed for a good weekend.
With our "big" family we have decided to start getting joining rooms instead of all cramming into one room. Perk for the parents is getting to watch tv or talk easily after the kids go to bed and perk for the kids is they feel awesome having their own room. Right when we got to our rooms the great freaked out because there was a dresser with "three drawers just like there are three of us!". I love that it is the little things about hotel living that kids get excited about.
In the past when we have gone to hotels we let the kids stay up late, eat snacks and watch a movie. This always sounds like such a great idea before-hand but by 11:00pm my husband and I are frustrated that the kids haven't "peacefully fallen asleep while cuddling each other".
We finally wised up, brought books with us and decided to treat bedtime like we do every night. Honestly, it made more of a difference than I was expecting. We all cuddled on the queen beds, read books, said a family prayer, tucked each of the kids in then my husband and I crept into the other room to have some adult time. When morning came the kids were refreshed, excited for the day and my husband and I had the energy we needed to be good parents.
Something else that I love about the Harbor 360 hotel is it's location, it is right on the water so when the kids get a little wild we can go out for a walk along the harbor and look at all the cool boats. The last time we were here we lucked out and got to watch an otter playing in the water about 20 feet in front of us.
The Harbor 360 isn't in "downtown" Seward which is something I really like. There are still plenty of things to do and places to eat but it feels a little more connected to nature. Not far from the hotel is a really great beach you can play at and find all kinds of cool sea life. Things like this are wonderful for families because it is free and you don't have to worry about your kids are being too crazy. Really it's a win win. If you are more into shops and indoor activites it is just a short drive to the heart of Seward where there are plenty of stores to walk around and a really nice Sea Life Center.
If you are planning a trip to Alaska or live in the area I would highly recommend planning a weekend trip to Seward and the Harbor 360 Hotel is a wonderful place to call home on your stay-cation.
Also, I am a sucker for murals and looks how amazing these two are on the outside of the hotel. Swoon!!
This post and our hotel stay was compensated by Harbor 360 Hotel but all opinions are mine.
This is our second year as Yukon Charlie’s ambassadors and it has been so rewarding seeing how much the girls have grown in just a year. Last year our 18 month old would try to walk in the snowshoes but she had a really hard time keeping up with sisters, this year she was trucking right along side of them!
With three little kids to get in and out of snowshoes it is really important for the process to go as smoothly as possible. The tightening system is so smart, with just one pull of the straps we can have their shoes secured to their feet! I always knew this was a great system but it wasn't until this week that I learned just now much it sets Yukon Charlie's apart from other brands. We went snowshoeing with my daughter's kindergarten class and my job was to help the kids get in and out of their shoes. The system on the school's shoes had three different straps you had to tighten like a belt buckle. After doing 25 pairs it was extremely clear to me how much easier Yukon Charlie's has made my life!
The other day my girls we out in the back yard to play and asked to have their snowshoes on. It was so funny to see the winter version of games they play in the summer. I was a little nervous that my 2 year old would get frustrated with her snowshoes but she had a blast and exceeded my expectations!
It didn’t take long for them to outlast me in the cold but even after I headed inside they happily played in the yard for a very long time. I had to laugh because at one point I looked out the window and my two year old had climbed, in her snowshoes, on top of her play house. I honestly would have never guessed that she would be that agile in snowshoes. Yukon Charlie’s has really done a wonderful job of making their youth snowshoes light, secure, and functional for even the youngest of snowshoers.
My husband and I have been using our Pro Series II snowshoes this year and they have really been great shoes. I have not had any problem with them slipping off my feet or loosening while walking and they have been light weight so I am able to easily run around with the kids while we are out. These shoes have the same fastening system as the kids shoes which is so helpful. I love being able to quickly pull the on and off while we are on the trail. As a hidden bonus the kids really love that we all have shoes that match.
We are far from extreme snowshoers but I am so grateful to have good shoes that allow our family to get out and enjoy winter in a new way.
I have big news for y'all. When you go snowshoeing with little kids they sometimes want to be entertained by more than just walking out in nature. What the heck, right! Okay, actually that isn't a surprise at all, just like when we go hiking we have to be prepared with an arsenal of fun games. Right now we are kind of in an interesting spot because our oldest is about to turn 6 but our youngest walker/hiker/snowshoer is only 2. They are not only on different levels skill and endurance wise but they are on different levels with games. At first this fact made me a little nervous but then I realized the wonderful side of it; our younger kids get to push themselves to hang with the older girls and the older girls get to be little for that much longer. Lucky y'all I have teamed up with Yukon Charlie's to spill the beans on our not so secret games we play while we are out snowshoeing. (can I get a whoop whoop)
1. Follow the leader: I know it sounds pretty basic but think about it, kids spend just about all of their day being told what to do and following adults around. When we notice that the kids are starting to get antsy we change up who is in charge. The kids get super excited to tell us what to do and where to go and we get to experience walking through trees and over bushes. (because I think it's in the kid rule book that you can't stay on the trail)
2. The Alphabet Game: That's right. the ever famous car game where you have to find something for each letter in the alphabet. This one is a favorite for our girls and honestly I like it to. You can make it as complex or simple as you want. Our two year old gets to just spout off anything that starts with a certain letter but our older ones have to think of things that apply to our category. When we are out we like to have it relate to what we are doing or seeing, this gives us a great opportunity to really pay attention and learn about what is around us.
3. Duck Duck Goose: Our kids are actually the ones that came up with this one and it has been a hit. It is a little hard to play with snowshoes on so this is a great game to play when you are at the half way point in your hike or if you can tell your kids need a little break. And really, what's better than "gently" tapping each other on the head then trying to tackle your sibling as they run away?
4. Contest time: Okay, maybe this isn't technically a "game" but it a one of my favorites. I think it is so fun to challenge the kids and see their competitive side come out. We will do silly things like who can jump the highest or run the fastest and the fact that we all have snowshoes on just makes these simple contests that much more funny. Seriously, next time you snowshoe with your kids have a jumping contest, I don't think you will be able to make it one round without busting up laughing.
So there you have it; a brief look into how the Murdocks keep their littles going even when they start to loose steam. These are not all the games that we have played while out on our adventures but they are definitely our go-tos. Snowshoeing is such a great way to explore during the winter and with the right tools your kids will love it just as much as you do.
So Wyatt still has a really hard time breathing in any kind of wind or in really cold air, for a while this slowed us down big time because we just simply couldn't take him outside. Make My Belly Fit swooped in and saved our winter; their BellyFit Zip-In Jacket Extender and the BabyCover Carrier Cover are two of the best baby products I have tried. I didn't have to buy new jackets or only wear certain jackets, they adapt to the jacket that I want to wear and keep Wyatt so warm & toasty.
The BellyFit jacket extender has become a go to for me. It zips in perfectly to my Columbia jacket and keeps Wyatt completely covered. Something that sets this extender apart from others is the fact that there is no weird hole to stick Wyatt's head through. I can either zip it part of the way and fold it down so he can see or I can zip it all the way up to shield him from the wind and give him extra warmth when he falls asleep. This extender can also be used during pregnancy. There are snaps on it so that you can cinch in certain areas so that it forms to your growing belly. I am not sure I will be testing out these features but it sounds like such a great idea and so perfect that it can seamlessly follow you from pregnancy to having your baby.
The second of their genius products is the BabyCover carrier cover. Let me get this straight, living in Alaska I have had MANY carrier covers. This one is unlike any I have used before though. It hooks to the straps of your carrier and has elastic on the sides so that you can cinch it around your baby, then on the outside of the cover there are clips to hold your jacket closed around your baby. It really is so stinking smart! I only wish I had this cover 5 years ago with my first.
I am so glad that I have had this opportunity to work with Make My Belly Fit and I am even more excited that I get to share my love with y'all through the giveaway on my Instagram page.
You know those clothing staples that seem to get you through everything? The ones that are there on your good days and on your bad days? The ones that you have been wearing for years now and still reach for them? Okay, hopefully it isn't just me... My wardrobe is kind of embarrassingly large, I am constantly changing size (thank you 4 kids in 5 years!) so I have sets of clothing for all seasons of my life (and all weather seasons). BUT there are some pieces of clothing that have become permanent staples, ones that, no matter how I am feeling about myself, look good on me and are easy to wear. Most of these pieces are from Aventura Clothing. I started wearing them before getting pregnant with Wyatt and the clothing has seen me through the entire pregnancy and is still going strong 3 months postpartum.
Something that I love about the Aventura clothing is that I feel put together but still able to run around after my 4 kids. For so long I was either wearing cheap clothing that didn't last or it was so nice that I didn't feel like I could wear it on a daily bases. Aventura has bridged that gap. My Kineta Leggings are worn more often than I should admit, there is a thigh pocket which is perfect for keys, phone or money! I was one of those girls who was awkwardly stashing my phone in my bra, but that is now (luckily) a thing of the past.
Above all my favorite part about Aventura is their partnership with Uncommon Threads. Each quarter they donate clothing to survivors of domestic violence. I urge you to read more about their mission and the good they are going, here. Join me and many others in their "giveback and feel good about looking great"
Okay, maybe everyone is tired of Halloween pictures by now, but I just have to share. This year was by far the most fun year we have ever had Trick-or-Treating. The big girls were really into it and Kate was so funny to watch! Every time she left a house with would come running, yelling in excitement, and holding up her bucket to show us the new piece of candy she was given. It's like it was a totally new experience for her every single time she went to a house.
It was a crazy foggy night which actually made it really fun. It added a creepy factor without being too scary for the girls. Wyatt, once again, was his usual chill self and just hung out in the stroller happily until he fell asleep. It is so crazy having a kid that is okay being in a stroller or bouncer. My life feels totally different because I am not doing everything with a baby on me. I love babywearing, but man, after 6 straight years of it, it is pretty nice having no one on me or in me! After we had gone down a couple streets the girls were ready to head home and they asked to watch Harry Potter. We just let them have free reign of their candy. They big girls were good about it and didn't totally gorge themselves, but sweet baby Kate, wow, she didn't have that same will power. At first we didn't really notice how much she had eaten then all the sudden she was literally bouncing all over the place. Constantly jumping on and off the couch, talking excitedly 2 inches from our faces, and running in circles in the living room. It was so dang funny to watch.
It seriously was a wonderful evening through and through. Kids are exhausting but holy moly our life is so much more fun with them in it!!
It has been a weirdly warm "fall" so far this year. When we woke up to a light dusting the other day we were all so excited and convinced that we just HAD to go play in it. Dad suggested sledding in the back yard and the girls were instantly sold. Luckily the ground was frozen enough that we were able to sled across the grass. As it turns out sledding on the grass is just as exciting and fun as sledding on snow! I am just amazing at how much they have grown since last year. They were running around in their snow gear like it was nothing and hauling their sleds back up the hill without any help. I hope this continues and our winter is filled with more snow cover adventures!
p.s. Wyatt was out with us but he only went down the hill once (which I didn't get a picture of) and slept in the bouncer the rest of the time! He apparently wasn't as amazed by the snow as the girls were!
Wow! My last post was in April. It makes me laugh that I sit here in October with snow falling outside my window and see that my last post was about snowshoeing. I totally missed all of summer. Well, I didn't miss summer, but I did definitely take some time off. It was so needed though. My 4th pregnancy was a little rough, mentally, my girls had a bad run-in with a very upset moose and our family was just so needing some alone time to recoup. Well some pretty great things happened in that alone time, two of our siblings got married and had the most perfect baby boy in the whole world!!
With this new life of having a kindergartner, preschooler, 2 year old and newborn is a little crazy. Some days are just amazing and so full of love and life, but other days I feel a little like I am running on fumes. Today was one of those so-full-of-love-and-life days. We headed out to the North Fork trail to soak up the tiny flecks of snow that were falling. It was the best decision we could have made. Apparently rivers turn into amazing sources of endless fun when they freeze over?
There was so much sliding, spinning and most of all slipping. I don't know if it was because it was our first time on the ice or if it was just particularly slippery today. Luckily there were no injuries, just a lot of laughing and good times.
This is one of my favorite trails, it is short, sweet, and so beautiful. If you are in Eagle River you have to check it out!
Okay, after seeing all these picture it is overly clear that I am a little obsessed with photographing my youngest daughter. Whoops! I need to make sure to share the photo love better next time!
I can't say that we have our days figured out and that it's all smooth sailing from here but I am hopeful that with the change of season we are able to get out more often and remember all the wonderful things about Alaska!
I recently had the opportunity to write an article about tips for snowshoeing with kids for Yukon Charlie's. I had added a few parts of the article below but I hope you choose to head over to their website to continue reading.
Writing this article, I have had to really pay attention to what it is that we do to make our adventures possible. (I know, what a crazy concept!) So often I just get in the zone that I don't really stop to think about the details of it all. It was so fun to go out with a new set of eyes, almost like I was a spectator trying to take it all in. By the end of of our walk I was left with some great insight and tips for how to make snowshoeing a family affair!
First tip (and bare with me): Set your standards low
This is something that we try to do with every outing, but especially with snowshoeing. If you set your sights on it being a work out or that you will hike 5 miles out to some awesome frozen water fall you will, more likely than not, be let down. When we go out we know that we are going to go s.l.o.w. and we are not really going to get very far. The really awesome thing about this though is that we are able to really take in all that is around us and we are able to just be in the moment. Also remember to start at the skill level your kids are currently in. It is so easy to see other people's adventure and think that is the only way to do snowshoeing the "right" way. The reality is we all have to start at the beginning.
Q: What are good snowshoes trails around Anchorage Alaska for little ones?
A: We love anything that is flat, and not too long. I would look for something that is either a loop or has a good turn around point. For Anchorage/Mat-Su folks I LOVE the North Fork trail in Eagle River. It is only .5 miles one way to a frozen river and it is very flat. It is the perfect starter trail for little ones!
Q: Is it expensive to snowshoes with kids who have rapidly growing feet?
A: NO! It is actually so awesome, my girls' shoe sizes range from 7-12 they all share snowshoes and I know they will be able to wear them for years to come. I have been really impressed with the wide range in shoe sizes the Yukon Charlie's snowshoes accommodate! To make it even easier for parents they have created a binding that is very easy to change size, even mid hike. This makes sharing snowshoes so easy and stress free!
Last year we used a pair of Tubbs snowshoes with our oldest and it was terrible! She hated them and wouldn't walk more than 10 steps at a time. This was when she was 4 years old. Our Yukon Charlie's snowshoes have been a completely different and much more positive experience for us! They are lighter, easier to put on/adjust, and our daughters are excited to go snowshoeing. If you have tried snowshoeing with young kids before and have not had success give the Yukon Charlie's Youth snowshoes a try, I am genuinely confident that you will have a much better experience!!