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A Day in the Life of an Outdoor Mom: Winter in Alaska

The life of an outdoor mom is different for everyone…but being able to be a fly on the wall and see how another family lives is always intriguing for us all!

Want more? You can read all our A Day in the Life of an Outdoor Mom posts here!

7:15am: We don’t wake early, but it feels early. It’s dark here and we don’t get direct sunlight for two months as the sun hides behind Pioneer Peak. My oldest is in bed with me after an early morning transfer from the room the three kids share.

We get up, I have a cup of cold brew coffee – cold – as I can’t risk using the microwave or stove and waking up the girls, and we start our morning lesson.

We check the morning temperature and adjust our perpetual calendar accordingly. It’s -25.

He is in Kindergarten and we homeschool. Lesson is usually reading chapter books, this morning I’m reading him “The Wild Robot” which we have read before and wanted to re-read. We are snuggled in our favorite chair.

8:15am: We get the breakfast table ready for the girls, their green light turns on at 8:30 and that’s when they come out of their room to eat eggs, yogurt-sauce-raisins. Our breakfast routine is quick as my husband makes extra eggs when he has his breakfast and saves us a big omelet that we just have to reheat.

The most complicated part of breakfast is making sure everyone has the correct color bowl. It’s very important and changes when you least expect it.

8:45am: Breakfast is finished and we head upstairs to play a few games before our Wednesday hike. Our current favorite is “the poop game“, an animal poop memory game. We usually get carried away playing things and that makes us late…

9:40am: Mom suddenly notices that we are supposed to be leaving. The kids are dressed as they wear their wool layers 100% of the time, so we hop in the car which thankfully only takes a minute. All our gear is still out there and the kids are always excited to climb into their seats (I don’t know how I got so lucky here!).

Pulling over for a temperature and pretty mountain view shot. Zane tells mom we’re late, mom knows no one will be waiting for us at the lake today…

10:00am: Fifteen minutes later we are at our favorite lake. During months where Zane goes to Kellogg Field School where he attends a hands-on Environmental Education homeschool program, we drop him off before our hike (and right after breakfast, so we don’t have “always-makes-us-late” game time) and pick him up when we are finished; but he is on winter break for two months so we get to have him hike with us again.

We unload, gear up, and would usually greet our friends from our local hike it baby group. But today it is -22 degrees, and we don’t have company. This is only the second time in 4.5 years of doing this hike that we haven’t had company; the other time it was -30.

We’ve been leading this reoccurring hike at this lake since spring 2015, back when my first child was 1.5. Now an almost 6 year old, a 4 year old, and a 2.5 year old walk with me to where we would gather for a welcome circle and group photo before our hike.

Today we’re giving a new definition to the term “layering”. We’re in our sloomb baselayers and sweaters, then the girls both have their snowsuits underneath their down capes. Zane has a Patagonia down sweater underneath his snowsuit. We have lots of balaclavas and hats, and our stonz mittens and baffin boots.

The big kids have decided they want to ski so we put on their helmets and strap their skis on to their boots and make our way to the lake. The toddler is walking (which is rare for her, but she is really digging her new Columbia cape) while I pull the sleds.

We ski and sled and intermittently eat chocolate, the sky is beautiful shades of pinks and purples and blues as the sun is rising; but the sun doesn’t rise above the mountains.

10:55am: Eliza is the first to get cold, and I take her back to the car. The car isn’t running, but it’s much warmer in there, and I tie one of my down jackets around her. There is no one else at the lake and we are close to the car where we are sledding, and she has a flamingo so she is happy.

Zane and Aurora and I continue to have fun sledding even though the inner-tube sleds have lost a significant amount of pressure in this cold. They still work but it’s much slower.

Aurora is surprisingly still very jolly on each sledding run. Keeping the girls as warm as Zane seems to require about twice the amount of gear, and they need the absolute warmest stuff. We’ve also repurposed a lot of old gear.

Sleeping bags have worked great for us especially when sledding. Warm nalgenes full of boiling water are also fantastic but we forgot ours today, because… time creep…

11:15am: It’s time to get back to Eliza. Much more than an hour at a time in these temps isn’t a great idea no matter how many layers you have, and we’re ready for food. I realize I forgot to eat again, which happens all the time and yet always surprises me.

Rosy cheeks and pretty worn out and ready for lunch!

11:45am: We’re home and sipping hot chocolate, which never tasted so good! Then we have a quick lunch (ham and jam grilled cheese – cheating time with 33 seconds in the microwave and then onto the buttered griddle to finish it off), and Aurora goes down for her nap.

12:15pm: Mom and Eliza mix up some pizza dough and put it in the oven to prove. Usually Thursday is our pizza day but we all felt like pizza for snack when we woke up so we decided to make it after our hike for snack.

12:45pm: Mom attempts to get a little work done while Zane and Eliza play some games, but ends up joining them (I prioritize fun over almost everything else which is why our house is usually a bit of a disaster…). Then we all have an hour of quiet time, followed by more reading.

2:30pm: Rora is up from her nap and we all snuggle up and read a book. She needs at least 10 minutes of “hollll-me holmeee” (hold me) before she is ready to be her own discrete person. Once she’s ready, we go downstairs to prep the pizza for snack.

3:00pm: Snack time, kids have some shredded cheese while waiting for our pizza to bake. This usually makes a big mess but it takes them about 15 minutes to go through so it’s worth the tradeoff and then magically the pizza is ready!

Pizza time! But where are the kids? Oh, there they are, on the kitchen floor in a sleeping bag of course… the sleeping bags (and party decorations) are up from Zane’s 6th birthday which we celebrated last week.

3:30pm: It’s reading time again. We all pile into my favorite chair which is too small for all of us but we squish in anyways. We’re reading a Magic Treehouse book, and then talk about where the book takes place with an inflatable globe that we look at and talk about, and then throw at each other.

4:15pm: Time for some tumbling and hammock play. Eliza dresses up like a flamingo. She wears this at some point every day.

5:00pm: My husband comes home from work and takes over the kids and somehow simultaneously cooks dinner. I head into the basement to work. I’m an Environmental Scientist by night (and during nap time), and work from home.

I try to come up for dinner most nights, but sometimes that doesn’t happen and I work through dinner and bath and meet everyone upstairs for 6:30pm playtime. Today is one of those days, too much to do and not enough time to do it.

6:30pm: Kids are out of the bath and ready for more tumbling and balloon football and “hot lava monster” games.

7:00pm: We bring the 2.5yo downstairs to bed, read one book, and listen to her dreams (right now they’re mostly food [yogurt-sauce-raiiiiiiiiisins] and weather-related, with a few friends names thrown in).

We play bedtime/waketime tetris, and it’s always in flux; but right now the toddler goes to bed first and the 4 and 6yos stay up an extra 45 minutes for evening lesson.

7:10pm: Back upstairs with big kids, tonight Eliza and I play the poop memory game while dad and Zane play some tackling games. Then we all play the board game “Camp” together, which is a big favorite with everyone. Eliza wins.

7:55pm: Sneak the big kids into the bedroom. Since evening lesson is an extra special thing and Aurora is already asleep, they almost always go right in extra quietly, and either go straight to sleep (Zane) or look at a few books first (Eliza).

Some nights we get adult time and other nights i go back to work, tonight is a work night, and then a writing-this-post night. My husband does the dishes and partially cleans up the kitchen. He does the sink area and the rest is up to me (which means it usually doesn’t get done).

My husband and I always try to have time where we review pictures and videos from the day so he can share in what we’ve been doing. Then he goes to bed and I often stay up too late because as much as I love every day with my kiddos, moments when nobody needs me are precious too.

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