Nate’s Notes: My Tips for Traveling with Two Toddlers

Momma, Momma…Momma. Look at her. So cute how she planned all these activities and read some books about traveling with toddlers. Busy bags, new books and special snacks fill each bag we brought. As if she could actually plan for life on the road with me and Lyla!! Here we are, on a BIG ship in Alaska, about to see the BIGGEST ice cubes ever, and she looks so tired. Maybe she should have slept more before the trip and planned less. She tried, she really did…

If she had just asked me, I could have given her tips. Toddlers are tricky; life under four feet is hard. Here are some ideas to make it easier.

  1. There are so many rules! No one tells you the rules AHEAD of time, you just have to learn them as you go (or AFTER you break them), and somehow remember.  No one told us toilets aren’t snack bars and swimming pools, that food on the floor or stuck under tables shouldn’t be eaten, and that not ALL walls are meant for drawing. (When Momma takes pictures of cool drawings on walls of buildings and says the painting is super cool, it is even more confusing!) No one really explains that screaming like a monkey and running at Lightning McQueen speed down the ship halls isn’t very nice.       Instead, we just hear a sharp, “NO! That’s NOT okay!”. No one told me that hiding Lyla in the ship elevator was a bad idea…until after I had tried. Well, okay then. And that tired saying, “It’s the rule.” Rules, rules, rules. Driving me crazy!!
  2. We aren’t as smart as you think and we can’t always use our words. Sometimes BIG feelings just happen. Sometimes I am scared because I don’t really know that a bathtub drain won’t suck me down or a big bird won’t take me away or sharks aren’t waiting for me to fall off the boat. Sometimes I am angry that I have to change my fun times when YOU big people decide. Having fun running up and down the stairs Nate? Oh- well, you have to stop now.   Have the biggest smile EVER while playing in the water with Lyla?       Oh- well, too bad- get out! How would you like it if you had to stop in the middle of your favorite thing? Yea…you would flip your lid too. Flip. And when your lid flips…you don’t have words, just feelings. If I could tell you that you hurt my feelings and I’m worried about if I’ll ever feel that happy again, I WOULD use my words to say that!! But I can’t. My brain is still figuring things out!! And if I can’t use my words all the time…well, Lyla definitely can’t.
  3. Gross things are fascinating. OOOO- A bald eagle (not really bald), just pooped on the sidewalk = amazing = must touch it.   Lyla spit out her pickle and watermelon at the dinner table in front of a ship full of staring strangers = yum! I love watermelon and pickles, so I’ll pick it up, smoosh it, smell it and eat it…ALSO in front of a ship full of staring strangers.
  4. We are smarter than you think we are.       Yep. That’s what I said. We are so much smart. I watched Momma make all this fun stuff, find new toys and books to bring for our weeks of adventures…but I’ll wait until I get them and decide I want the microphone that is off limits, or the cell phone charger, or the hot curling iron instead. Shiny things can’t trick us.   We also know that the fastest, easiest way to get out of doing something is to have an identity crisis. Time to go back to the room for bed? I’m not Nate, I’m an owl and owls are awake at night. Time to walk slowly and wait in line? I’m not Nate, I’m a cheetah- the fastest animal on land. Time to be quiet? I’m not Nate, I’m a loud, growling bear.   Time to walk up the stairs? I’m not Nate, I’m a puppy dog and have to crawl up the stairs.       We know. We. Know.
  5. This one is tough…ready? We toddlers are changing and growing super fast. We are learning SO much right now. New words, new ideas, new things to see, new mad skills and tricks. There is no time to sleep. We have too much work to do…too much to practice! Looking at Momma now, I can see this one will take awhile for her to get.

Alaska Trip_Valley_Day 1 (10)

Remember- life under four feet is hard work. Maybe you big people have forgotten. But with these starter tips (I’ll have more later) life can be easier- especially on a big adventure like this!! Oooo- look at that!!

10/8- Nate’s Notes: A Different Puh-Puh-Puh-Perspective…From Alaska

Awhile ago I asked if you would lower yourself to my level, or better yet, Lyla’s level. No, I didn’t mean like in a maturity way- neener neener, so there. Gosh. Silly buster kangaroo! Grow up! I meant, spend the day crawling around. Yea, actually crawling, or as close to that as you could get. See things from our perspective. Did you do it? I’m sure people only thought you were silly for a few seconds, then they probably put their noses back in their phones. That’s usually what big people do.

Did you? Did you open your eyes and notice how much taller the trees are, how much bigger the windows and doors are (or what they taste like)? Did you notice the grass, the mud puddles, the wood on cabinets or next to the carpet, or the patterns in carpet? What about the leaves turning colors, the acorns, pine cones and rocks on the ground? Did you feel the cold (or warmth) of metal? Did you see the shapes in wood fences? It’s a different world at our level, one I bet you’ve forgotten about with all of your gadgets and phones and stuff.

Cruise Inside Passage (5) Ketchikan (262) our shipWell, my super family is in Alaska now, AND on a BIG BIG ship. It seems like all my big people are LOOKING and FEELING the world around us!! Like maybe they listened to me? They are looking at things differently, I think. They keep talking about how the sky seems closer, the clouds and sun giant, the flowers so much big, the mountains so SO much big and the best they have ever seen. They say the ship is a giant. It seems like my big people really are looking at things differently!! I guess you call it a different puh-puh-puh purse…no puh-pursepectative-or somethin’ like that.

I knew it. I totally have super powers that made them.

Nate’s Notes-Alaska :Tree Poles

*Yawn*. Between the sun and Lyla, I’m so tootin’ tired. Big bumpers and bananas! She does not sleep!! No sleep. None. She is a night monster, I just know it. The first couple nights of our adventure, I didn’t mind. I thought I could find some place once we were on the ship to put her. But having to sleep- no, TRYING to sleep- in the same room with her is just mean. I have tried hiding her on the ship, but she walks pretty good now. Besides, someone always catches me and I have to act like it’s a cute game we are playing.

Juneau (1)Anyway, we got off the ship and back on again today, with only a few tantrums. You can guess who had those. I saw big painted sticks! They go way up in the sky.  They are made from trees actually!  Well, most of them. People make faces in them, and cut out whales, birds, fish, bears and big bad wolves! And they paint them to tell stories or for people who aren’t here.  I love stories! And I saw bald eagles in the trees. Those are birds. But they aren’t REALLY bald. And I saw Momma, Papa, Daddy and Uncle Tim with their cameras!! Oh wait- that isn’t exciting. No really- I saw that a lot. So much a lot. They bounce all over the place, kneeling, bending, climbing, leaning…always taking pictures. You spend a day around them, and you almost forget what they look like because the cameras are in front of their faces. Sheesh.

Totem Poles_0436 Totem Poles_0394

Every once in awhile, Momma just stops and watches. She doesn’t talk, just watches everything. So I watch her. What is she thinking? Is she okay? Why isn’t she moving? Does she know how to move? Then she leans down and tells me or Lyla to look at what she sees. She gets really excited about it, and asks if I am taking a picture with my mind to save. I say “yes” just to make her stop being silly. The only picture I want to take is of Lyla being put in another room tonight so I can sleep. Or of Lyla in a boat BEHIND our boat. Those pictures…those I would like to take. *Yawn*.

So far, Alaska is my favorite place…EVER.

Nate’s Notes: Alaska…FINALLY!!!

*Yawn*. I decided I can’t go to bed and wake up when the sun does here on the ship or in Alaska.   For some reason, the sun doesn’t sleep very much here. Today I feel sleepy. *Yawn*. BUT…I’m sleepy in ALASKA!!! Finally!!!! The water seems bigger. The mountains are definitely bigger and right next to the boat! The sky seems bigger and the days are definitely bigger. *Yawn*. Definitely big adventures every day!

The boat has been spectacular (Yes, I use that word, pfff… I’m not a baby!).   Did I mention the halls are so long you can run and run and run? And there is even a level or deck or …yea, ship deck…that is JUST FOR RUNNING!! No really. They actually put little flat people on the ground to show us what to do. Momma goes there to run, and I do too. It’s fun to go as fast as I can. Because Lyla is learning basic life rules, like listening, it is even more fun. Hee hee. See, what you big people don’t understand is this: “Come here” really means “Run the other way”…and most of the time “No” means “Yes- do it more”. At least that is what I taught Lyla. You’re welcome.  

Flat person on floor

Flat person on floor

Flat person on floor

Flat person on floor. 

*Yawn*. Scuze me. Man, that sun really kept me up!!! Well, when we aren’t running or playing, we get to watch the big water, big mountains, and big sky.   We even saw a whale tail earlier!! Hey- that rhymes!! And dolphins swimming by the boat!!! Tomorrow we get to get off the boat and walk around in Alasak! Will there be bears? Will there be snow? Papa told me we get to see big wood sticks that people painted and carved. Like, really big ones. Why do people paint big sticks? Hmmm…have to think about that. Look a bird!!! Look, big water!!! Look a tree!!! Look a mountain!!! Look, there goes Lyla running away!!!

Nate’s Notes: Alaska: Are We There Yet?

BIG!!! HUGE!!! SUPER BIG!!! We’re here! We’re finally on the boat.



We had to wait forever though. Here’s the deal…I just turned three. I’m still working on self-control. Time means nothing…wait means nothing…be patient means nothing. So, I decided that while waiting in the BIG line for the BIG boat, I’d be as loud (BIG loud) as possible hoping to get us there faster. Seemed like a plan to me. It didn’t work. Instead, the angry eyes came out.   So I pretended I didn’t have any bones and fell to the floor. This made more angry eyes come out. When Momma asked me to stand up and use my listening ears to teach Lyla like a good BIG brother…I decided to be a puppy instead.   I jumped to my knees and hands and loudly told her, “I’m not a BIG brother, I’m a puppy! Woof woof!” I’ve never seen BIGGER angry eyes!!   Someone needs to work on that…and I don’t mean me.  

So where’s Alaska? Is this Alaska? Are we there? Are we there??!!! I was so excited I couldn’t even walk. I ran or jumped everywhere! Oh! Oh! The hall! It was so …so…BIG!! I could run and run and run and still not get to the end! And…and…and. Whew. It was exhausting and exciting at the same time. There HAD to be a place somewhere on this boat to hide Lyla!! Oooo…

Cruise Ships_0108 Cruise Ships_0097So really, is this Alaska? Momma said not yet. She said we had to sleep first- that the sun would go to bed, and so would we, but there was plenty to do while we waited for Alaska!! She said we could explore the big boat, find where the stairs go, ride the elevators, look for the swimming pools, find the play room, see how much watermelon and salami there was to eat, take pictures…AAANND… she lost me.

She HAD to bring that up?? I suppose she was going to have her camera a lot. Oh well. There was too much to do to be upset. It seems that Papa, Daddy and Uncle Tim had their cameras too. I thought Momma carried hers a lot?! You should see Uncle Tim!! It must make him feel better, like my lovey blanket does for me.

For the rest of the day we ran, jumped, ran some more, ate, jumped, screamed, laughed, ran, played Legos (yay Uncle Tim!), sang, used those cameras (sigh), ran, ate some more, laughed some more, more Legos, jumped, used those cameras…again (BIG sigh), and finally got ready to sleep. The sun was up for a long time, so I got to stay up too!! That part was my idea!!  When I wake up we will be in Alaska!!! Now…where I can I hide Lyla?

Nate’s Notes: Alaska- Getting There

It was such a BIG trip with BIG mountains, a BIG ship, BIG waves, BIG animals and BIG stories that it might take a BIG long time to tell you all about it. But I have to start somewhere. It. Was. SO COOL!!!!! It is the BIGGEST adventure of my life so far.

We started by car. Not a big car though…it felt small with all our stuff in it. And Lyla had to come too. And the cameras. Pfff…so it was Momma, Daddy, Lyla, and me. Because Momma and Daddy seem to be slow learners, and forgot about the LONG hours and our crying last summer on the road trip…they chose to drive all the way up to where we got on the BIG ship.  

We weren’t gone long before Lyla started puking everywhere. Don’t worry, she does it all the time. But it meant stopping the car a lot. And it meant BIG stink…everywhere. It was then that Momma and Daddy decided maybe they made the wrong choice to drive all this way!! BIG mistake??? Oh well…the adventure had started.   Besides, Momma wanted pictoos along the way.

We drove through BIG and medium states- California, Oregon and Washington. Of course, we had to stop all the time for pictoos, but whatever. I was super excited about the whole trip so I didn’t even mind. I even helped Momma find things. Trees, old buildings, cool clouds, cool painting, drawing and writing on walls, boats, bridges…all kinds of stuff. In Washington we got to see a BIG helper boat. It was a fireboat- a boat that helps firefighters, like a fire truck…but it was a boat!! I’ve never seen one of those before! It was red and big. But it wasn’t OUR boat. Not yet.

Tacoma Fire Boat

Tacoma Fire Boat

Tacoma Glass Sculptures

Tacoma Glass Sculptures

We saw water and different buildings, sand, glass thingies, bridges and trains. We walked and ran. We jumped. And we drove some more. Then we got to a place where we had to answer questions before we could drive more, a man looked in our car, and we had to show our pictoo books to the man. Momma and Daddy said I had to smile big and not talk. This was Canada, and we didn’t get in trouble! They even let us keep Lyla, even though she growled at them!  Oh well.

So we kept driving some more. Daddy said he had to get used to the numbers on the signs.   We pulled over more times for Lyla. And then… we finally saw our BIG ship..or boat…or ship, I can’t remember!! And Papa, Gram Spam, Uncle Tim, Auntie Kate, Auntie Kisstine, MoMo and Bookie were there too. Our BIG family was ready for the BIG boat adventure.  Alaska here we come!!!

Nate’s Notes: Things That Start with “P”

**Momma’s Note:   For those of you close to me that may have heard these stories, or think you know what stories are about to come, go ahead and remove your eyebrows from your hairline, and just keep reading. This is the Nate-version, mostly. I used to worry about and discuss paradigm shifts, protocol, piano scales and proper pluralization. However, now is a time in my life where I worry about what bodily functions, fluids or body parts starting with a letter“p” that might be discussed by my two-year old with strangers at the market.  So, I can’t help but share this edited version and shake my head. This is my life. **


Puh-puh-puh …P! I know a lot of things that start with the letter p!!    Like the other day, I was digging for cat poop in our sand box so that it will be safe to play in.   I was digging, singing a song about digging, and I told Momma, “It sure is fun to dig for cat poop!   Hey! ‘Poop’ starts with the letter ‘p’ Momma!!

She got one of her funny face looks, but then said while smiling, “Nate, that makes me strangely proud!” Puh-puh-puh…proud! Hey, she used a p-word! Wait…puh-puh-puh … “Hey! Momma! ‘Pee’ starts with a ‘p’ too!” With big eyes, her head shaking, and Lyla eating sand, Momma said, “Yes, Nate. It does. Can you think of other things or words that start with a puh-puh-puh p-sound?

I thought. And I thought some more. “Car doesn’t. Dog doesn’t. Puppy does!! Puh-puh-puh…pants! Puh-puh-p…please! Please does!” I kept thinking about all the things around me that start with a p-sound.   While I was busy thinking and Lyla was eating sand, Momma grabbed her camera. Oh man. That camera again. Always. Does she ALWAYS have to have that thing? Does she ALWAYS have to take pictoos?? Hey!! “Momma! Momma! Pictoos is a p-sound too!! Pictoos!! Can I take some pictoos?” Wait. Did I really just ask that? Sigh. BIG sigh.  

IMG_1446Sure baby. After you take pictures, why don’t we go inside and look at pictures to find more p-words! We can look on the website and pick some pictures that start with p!” That actually sounded…REALLY FUN! But don’t tell Momma that.

I wonder what pictoos I’ll find that start with p?! And why does Lyla eat so much sand?

Nate’s Notes: Yep. Eggs STILL Don’t Bounce.

*I’ve been gone awhile. I’ll try to explain that later, but the adults in my life basically needed my help….A LOT. And I couldn’t write at the same time. Oh! And I got to see REALLY BIG things in Alaska. I’ll tell you all about that later…first, you gotta hear what Lyla did.


I tried to tell her.   But she does what she wants. It’s like trying to wrangle a toddler…or a chicken. Either way, Lyla wasn’t wearing her listening ears. And somehow I got in trouble because of that!

Run Ladies! Run!!!

Run Ladies! Run!!!

See, we were doing chores for the first time together. I decided to LET her come with me to feed the ladies and get their eggs. Lyla was sooooo excited to be near the “bok boks”. That’s what she calls chickens…bok boks…like a baby or something. Pfff.   As usual, I got distracted watching the ladies run. Have you ever watched chickens run? It is soooo funny. You gotta see it.  It might be funnier than watching Momma try to dance.  I could watch them for hours.   If my teeth are hurting or my toys bore me, I just watch our chickens run and feel better. Momma laughs a lot too and that make my heart smile.  

I warned Lyla about the eggs and told her that eggs aren’t balls. So I was watching the ladies run, Momma was talking about the pictures she wants to take, and all the pictures she has to work on (really, can she think of ANYTHING else to talk about???), and Lyla was…somewhere.  

Well…when we weren’t looking, Lyla wandered over to the chicken eggs. I turned around JUST in time to see her with them in her hands. She was yelling, “Ba Ba Ba” (that is Lyla speak for ball).   And then I knew. I knew because I had to find out for myself when I was a baby. These weren’t balls. They were eggs. And eggs don’t bounce. But I couldn’t stop her.   What kind of a big, helpful brother would I be if I didn’t let her learn for herself??!   And what kind of a big, sneaky brother would I be if I didn’t let her get in trouble sometimes??!   So I watched with a teeny, tiny smile. I watched Momma gasp. I watched Lyla get big eyes. I watched Lyla throw. I watched Momma yell just as Lyla threw the eggs. I watched Momma close her eyes and groan.   I watched Lyla freeze and then turn around and run away.   She knew. She knew Momma wasn’t happy. Okay, so they aren’t balls…they are eggs.   Eggs don’t bounce. I knew that. And now, so did Lyla. But eggs STILL make a pretty picture all broken up!

Now…about ALASKA…

Nate’s Notes: I Am NOT Sharing These Legos

Awhile ago I wrote about “Sharing is Caring”. Really? It is? There are big people in my life that like to say this. Actually, big people who don’t even know me, like at the playground or market, like to say it too. Have you ever heard something so silly?!   I hear it often…as if you can reason with my two-year old brain.   I heard it just the other day, about 11teen hundred 67 times when Lyla tried to play with my Legos. MY Legos.

WP_20140522_003Here’s the thing about Legos. They. Are. AWESOME!!! You can build something different every day with Legos. They have great colors. There are big ones, mostly for babies, and smaller, “regular” ones. Actually these smaller ones we call “Uncle Tim Legos”. My Uncle Tim and Legos go way back. He is kind of a super hero with them. And these Legos were FROM HIM. FOR ME. He gave them to me, NOT Lyla. I am the one who broke my collar bone, NOT Lyla. I am the one the doctor called a SUPER HERO, NOT Lyla.

Seems like I should get to play with them and only me.  And besides, big people don’t share everything.   They certainly don’t share much with me. I watch. I listen. I know.

So back to these Legos. I don’t plan to share anytime soon. In fact, I’m bringing some on the BIG boat and adventure we take in a couple days!!! Uncle Tim is going too. Only Uncle Tim gets to play Legos with me. NOT Lyla.

That’s all.

Nate’s Notes: Cars, Trains, Buses, Boats and Planes- OH MY!!!!

11teen more days. 11teen. It feels like so much, and not so much. I try to count out 11teen cars and books and planes, just to see how much that is, but Lyla keeps interrupting me. Little sisters…pfff. Just 11teen days separate me from my BIG adventure. Momma says this isn’t just any adventure. She tells me we are going to the land of BIG things. BIG mountains, BIG wild spaces, BIG bears, BIG ice cube thingies, BIG days (Momma says the sun goes to bed for only a couple hours), and BIG fun.

Even better, we get to go on a BIG boat- or ship – as part of our trip! Even better than that, I get to do all this with a lot of my BIG people!! I get to go with Papa, Gram Spam, Momma, Daddy, Lyla (eye roll), Auntie Kate (I can’t wait to read with her), Uncle Tim (maybe he will play Legos with me), Auntie Christine (she makes me smile and gives the best hugs), cousin MoMo (Dance party!!!), and cousin Brooke (she’s fun, has my birthday, and has the best smile).

First we have to go by car from our house all the way up to Canada. Still not sure how I feel about road trips and being strapped in the car for such a long time, but Momma and Daddy both make it fun. I always get to see new things. And guess what…take MORE pictures along the way (eye roll). Then we get on the BIG boat with everyone else. I’m pretty sure my brain will explode if I try to think about all we will see on the boat, from the boat, and when we get off the boat. Momma has been telling me stories and showing me pictures, but c’mon…I’m two. I can handle only so much.

After the BIG boat, we get to go on a train to the BIG mountain that starts with a “D”, like “Daddy”. A train!!!!! After the train, a bus will take us all around that BIG mountain where we might see BIG bears, BIG cats, BIG goats, BIG flowers (eye roll), and BIG trees. Just think of all the pictures!!!! Wait…did I just say that??!! (eye roll).

After the trip to the BIG mountain we get to take another bus and have more adventures before we get on a plane to start home!! My very first plane trip!! Momma and Daddy look scared when we talk about the plane ride with me and Lyla…but I will keep them safe and sound. A plane with me in it!!! In the sky!!! Brain…exploding.

I’m so excited I could pee my pants!!! Don’t judge.

11teen more days. Then it’s time for my BIG adventure with my family, full of BIG fun and lots of love. I’ll be sure to take pictures and share with everyone! Yes, I said that. There must be something about cars, trains, buses, boats and planes that makes me not care about the cameras and pictures!! I am one happy boy.