The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Week Two in the Books

Week two of middle school is in the books, and I thought I would report back.

The early start time. How is it going for us? Well, it’s not as bad as I expected it to be. Honestly, at this point my alarm goes off and I get up. I’m probably getting similar sleep to what I used to get, but I’m getting to bed earlier. The girls are definitely more tired in the evenings, which prompts them to go to bed earlier as well. I was worried that would be a battle, but it hasn’t been. A few nights they’ve been tired, but not ready to sleep, which I think is because of all of the activities they’re doing right now. I do think after this year we’ll all be morning people. Everyone was up just after 7:00am this weekend, and honestly, it was really nice to get stuff done in the morning so we didn’t have to worry about it later.

I’m trying to make the most of my time in the mornings. I’ve wanted to get up earlier for about a year, but could never force myself to do it, so this has been the push I’ve needed. Once the girls get on the bus, I have about 45 minutes to an hour to myself in the house which is bliss! It gives me a little time to get things done around the house, or do some reading or journaling. I continue to tweak my morning routine, since I’d like to spend more time with the girls and get ready after they leave, so that part is still a process.

The girls are making new friends which I love. They kind of can’t help it, since they know only one or two kids in each class. Luckily there has been some softball friends in their classes which has helped, but I hear a lot of new names these days.

Both girls complain of sore throats just about every day. I’m not sure if they’re run down, or if it’s allergies. I’m just waiting for them to get sick, but we shall see. We’re loading up on essential oils and allergy meds just in case. I’m also trying to get as many calories in both of them as I can, since they are burning through a ton with three sports going on. They each take multiple snacks to school, and eat whenever they can. I’ve been trying to plan better meals for our evenings, since just winging it doesn’t work right now, they really need a solid protein every meal.

Overall? Two thumbs up.

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More Lola love

This was our first week at the barn where we were really telling people that we had bought Lola, and riding her in the lessons with the rest of the girls that own their horses. It was amazing.

First off, everyone is so excited for us. Everyone loves Lola, and is so excited she’s staying at the barn. And they know how much we love her, so they were excited for us. That was really fun, and something I hadn’t expected? It was just so nice to feel the love.

Second, these lessons! You guys! The girls who ride in them and the horses they ride are no joke! Four foot jumps, I almost had to cover my eyes at one point, it was insane. And so fun! It’s one thing to watch riders doing those on videos, but another to watch it up close and personal. And, the girls learn so much just by watching them.

Third, outside lessons! The outdoor ring is bigger, and there are a lot of distractions, so the school lessons aren’t held outside very often. But, the owner holds lessons outside whenever he can. It’s gorgeous. Just, absolutely gorgeous. What an incredible way to spend our Saturday morning.

Because Lola was only ridden once last week, by the time she got outside on Saturday she was ready! to! go! She had energy and she wanted to run! And buck! Caden handled it really well and slowed her down. They put her on a lunge line and let her canter in circles until she was worn out enough. Then Caden trotted her in a small circles until the trainer felt like she was ready to join the lesson.

He had the other girls doing a course that involved a log jump, and gave Caden the option of doing the course or just doing part of it. She chose to do the whole thing! He told her she was brave for doing it and she ate his praise up!

To keep all the horse chatter to one post for now, we also went to a saddle shop and grabbed three different saddles to try out on Lola. I was really excited about them, I thought we had three great options (plus two were really pretty), but none fit. Which is a bummer because the saddle shop isn’t close or convenient. I have a feeling it might take a bit to find a saddle.

While we were there to fit the saddles, we realized there was a lesson in 20 minutes, so they both saddled up horses to ride. This was Delaney’s second time on Lola and she did amazing. Lola has a strong canter, and can be a lot to manage, but I absolutely love watching the girls ride her at that speed.

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First week of school

We’re a little behind, but better late than never right?!

The first week of middle school was rough. Everyone was tired from getting up early, having to navigate all of their classes and new teachers was exhausting, and then we threw in softball and volleyball on top of it. There were lots of tears by Friday so we kept Friday night super chill and just made dinner at home and watched some shows so everyone could get to bed early.

Everything they need for middle school is carried around in the binder you see Caden carrying. Delaney didn’t even take her backpack one day last week. They really can’t get back to their locker in between class, so all notebooks, pens, and paper are in there and they just carry it everywhere. So far so good, no one has left it somewhere they shouldn’t have.

The bus picks them up at 6:53am, so we are up at 6:15. We learned very quickly that bedtime needed to be 8:30pm. I thought that would be hard for us, since I am not the best at enforcing bedtime coming off of summer, but it’s actually been easy. Turns out when you get up that early, you want to go to bed early too.

Hopefully we find our groove in week two. They’ll have four days of volleyball this week instead of just two, and homework will start coming home as well.

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Middle School!

Middle School is just around the corner for us! This morning the girls are at an orientation day where they take the bus like normal in the morning, then go to each of their classes, spending 10 minutes then moving on to the next.

Everything is brand new in middle school. They have a binder (essentially it’s a Trapper Keeper!) that they take to their classes, but we don’t know if we should put everything in there? Just the notebooks they need that day? Do they carry it? Use the strap? Do they go back to their locker between every class? How long of a hike is it to their classrooms? When is lunch? So today will be a good day to at least get through some of those questions.

The big change for us will be the start time. Our elementary bus picked them up at 8:46, middle school bus comes at 6:53am. I really thought this was going to be incredibly rough for us. I’d like to think we’re morning people, but we’re the kind of morning people that get up at 6:30am, not 5:30am. But! This morning I had this moment where I realized that it was 7:00am, the girls were at school, I was dressed and ready, and I still had all this time to do things. I could tackle my to do list at home, or I could go into work early and get things done. What a gift! Because I certainly wouldn’t get up this early on my own, but the Universe clearly knew I needed it.

I have a really solid morning routine that I love, and that has been the foundation of everything for me. (Like everything. I’m more patient, I’m happier, I have a crazy positive mindset, I’m grateful for all the things, see above!) My morning routine is more of a morning ritual, and it sets the tone for my productive days, so I need it! I’m hopeful that just moving things up an hour, and moving a few things around won’t muck up my system, but this morning it was already weird and I had to check my schedule (of course I planned it out, starting at when we needed to leave for the bus and backing it up to my alarm time). Hopefully this will smooth out in the next few weeks.

If you feel like your days aren’t starting out how you want them to, I can’t recommend a morning ritual enough. I struggled with mine for a year, trying to figure out just the right things to fit in, but when I stopped doing two things, it all clicked! If you’d like to transform your morning, click here and grab the PDF I put together. Writing things down helps me process, and I wanted to figure out what really made the difference for me.

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Meet Lola!

Internets, meet Lola. She’s our new horse. As in, she’s OURS! We bought a horse!

I always knew that we would eventually own horses. It’s one of the goals I write down every morning, and it’s something that’s been running through my mind since we started lessons. But, about a year ago I found out just how expensive hunter/jumper horses are, and I worried that our dream would not come true. I held out hope though, and continued looking for ways that we could find a horse that would be the perfect fit for us.

Lola came to our barn this winter. Her owner was pregnant and couldn’t ride her. I fell in love with her immediately. She’s big, she’s gorgeous, and she’s so fun to watch jump. You can tell she loves it. She also seemed to like me, and would lean in when I would come over to give her pets and treats.

This summer her owner decided to sell her. Initially, her price was high, but it steadily went down. I inquired about her once during one of my lessons. I really wanted to find a way to make it work, but there were a lot of things to work out.

Here’s the thing though, I knew this age was the perfect age to buy a horse. The girls are 11 and love riding. They’ve got seven years of riding left at home. There are other girls in the barn that are older, and as I’ve talked to their moms it just doesn’t make sense to buy a horse when they’re 16, since they’ll be leaving for college soon. So why not buy now?

During camp week, the girls reported that Lola would be returning to Florida to be sold. What?! I didn’t want to lose my favorite girl. After our lesson that week I chatted with our trainer. I swear, the words just spilled out of my mouth. Lola’s price had dropped again! She was now in our price range, but how to afford boarding plus lesson costs? The barn owners loved Lola and wanted to keep her, but didn’t want to buy her. What if we allowed them to use her for lessons once or twice a week? I also asked how we would work it out with two girls and one horse? They came back with a proposal that for a discounted boarding fee, both girls would get two lessons a week, and Lola could be used for school lessons on the nights we weren’t there. (We also agreed later that she would get at least a few rest days each week.)

The cost for boarding wasn’t out of bounds and didn’t scare me, and as soon as I saw it I thought of three expenses we could cut that would get us close to that number. It was time to go all in on horses, and as soon as I talked to the girls about it, they agreed.

We finalized everything last week, and we’ll start our new riding schedule in September. We are all beyond excited! When we talked to the barn owners about her, they talked about what a kind horse she is, and I loved that. I love her personality, and I love that the girls will learn so much on her. More pictures soon! I’m planning on taking the big camera to lessons this week, and obviously we’ll be doing a photo shoot soon!

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Horse Camp Show!

I love taking videos of them at their horse camp shows, and watching them back year after year. It’s so cool to see their progress.

First up is Delaney on Oz! Each girl gets to create their own course from the jumps that are set up. It was really interesting because every girl did something completely different. Delaney and Oz have been riding together most of the summer and are a great team right now. I love watching them together!

And Caden on Lola! Lola is a big horse, and she’s aggressive. She gets after it in the ring. I’ve seen her toss more than her fair share of riders, but Caden was completely comfortable and confident on her. You can’t hear it in the video, but one of the gentleman in front of me said “She’s really in control of that horse!” and she was! If any other horse had cantered this fast, Caden would have been scared and in tears, but she knew Lola would take care of her so she just rode. It was amazing to watch.

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Horse Camp – Elite Week

We found our riding barn through their summer horse camp, so it has always had a special place in our hearts. In February we picked this week in August, and they filled the camp with all kids who regularly take riding lessons at the barn! Because the girls are all experienced riders, they can skip the barn tour and safety lectures, and do other fun things. The girls who run the camp were excited because they get a break from the normal camp activities, and the girls are excited to be with a group of girls who all LOVE riding as much as they do, and they are getting to learn some really cool things!

Let’s talk about those cool things. A few weeks ago the barn got in three new horses. From what I know, they were used on an Amish farm. They are not used to being ridden, or cues from a rider, or going over jumps! A few of the girls get a chance to ride them each day and help train them, getting them used to being in the arena, jumping, and communicating with a rider. The girls think this is the coolest.

Yesterday they learned how to clean bridles! I love this! Such a good skill to have. With 20 school horses, that’s a lot of bridles to clean. They took them apart, soaped them up to get the grime off, dried them, then oiled them up.

They’ve cleaned the barn and the paddocks top to bottom, they are learning how to muck out stalls, and how to have a horse on a lunge line. I love how they put the girls to work, and that they learn all of the aspects of taking care of a horse. It’s just such good work for them to do!

Caden is riding my very favorite horse Lola. Lola can be a lot to handle, she loves to get after the jumps so she needs a confident rider. This was exactly the horse Caden needed this week. She’s already showing improvement on her, and she cannot stop talking about her!

Delaney is riding Oz. She’s been riding him for most of the summer and they are a perfect team. He loves to canter, and she loves when he canters. Their lessons this week are focusing on really specific skills, which is perfect for them because they’re a tight team.

I pick the girls up a little after 3:00 from camp and I swear, they do not stop talking about everything they did all day until 9:30pm when they drop into bed. It’s the best.

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Summer Softball 2019

I haven’t posted much about softball this year. It’s been an interesting summer, but one we needed for the girls to figure out how much effort they want to put into softball.

We have two options for softball at this age – rec or travel league. Travel league plays double headers, has practice at least one a week as well, plus weekend tournaments. How many tournaments? Depends on how ambitious your coach is (Some are VERY). We chose rec league. We played it last year and while it is much less competitive, it can still be fun. And truly, we really want our weekends free to enjoy summer and go to the lake.

Caden batting

Our rec league team this year was fairly inexperienced. A fair number of kids just “trying out” the sport. My girls are experienced and also competitive, so this wasn’t the best combo. We had a really great start to the season, but then things went downhill about halfway through, with more and more kids just not showing up to games or practices. It was frustrating. The girls were also the only pitchers on the team, which put a lot of pressure on them every game.

Delaney pitching

The upside was that our coaches were two women who just graduated high school. Annabelle pitches for her college team, and that was crucial to both girls and how far they came with their pitching this year. She could coach the girls throughout the game. We’d never had that, and honestly it will be tough to play fall ball and not have her there! She also really pushed the girls. It’s easy to let them slide at this age, but she didn’t which I loved. Upside to the upside? She’s hoping to coach a 12U team next summer. I may even jump back into coaching again to help out! I think it’s important for girls to see women coaches, so it’s time.

Delaney and Annabelle

Normally we don’t play fall ball. By the end of the summer we’re good on softball, and fall ball just pushes them over the edge. But, both girls wanted to play more, and play on a more competitive team. Caden is really interested in catching, so hopefully she can get more experience in that arena. They’ll be playing 12U, which is a level up from where we played this summer, which should also present some challenges.

Delaney batting

It’s only 5 weeks, and hopefully this doesn’t kill us. The girls really love softball, and it’s a great team sport for them. Delaney is a very good pitcher. She throws incredibly hard, and just needs to figure out her accuracy. Caden is an exceptional hitter. She’s little, so I think people underestimate her, but she can hit that ball far! I’m excited to see them on a team of kids who all really want to play.

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Lake Time!

We wrapped up our Staycation, then headed to the lake for the weekend. The weather was gorgeous! Since the girls had loved the tube (it’s really more of a couch?) over the 4th, my dad borrowed a neighbor’s tube (and then went and bought one because they loved it that much!)

I almost forgot! Delaney got a new life jacket. She had one like Caden’s but she’s grown so much it was too short. Adult size small for her now!

Either my mom or I would ride in the boat as a spotter but man, that got nauseating. So many twists and turns in a little boat! We did not last long.

Sometimes it’s nice to know I can still get a little artsy with my photography.

Lark is such a water dog, plus she loves me, so she actually liked being on this!

Sunday was super hot, so we spent more time on the tube and the pontoon, but left the dogs in the air conditioned cabin. It was nice to be able to spend all day Sunday there, normally we pack up after breakfast. You can do so many more things!

Monday morning I headed to Fargo for client meetings for the week, and the girls stayed with my parents. They got an extra few days at the cabin, then they headed back to our house for softball games and riding lessons. It worked out well, but I’m really hoping that is the last of my business travel for a while. Those longer trips away from the girls are not fun for any of us!

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Staycation week!

Last year we did the big two week road trip, and while it was amazing, by the end we were all craving home. I remember as we sat by the hotel pool, that I just wanted to sleep in my own bed and go to our pool.

So that’s what we did this year. While it’s been nice to hit the pool three times this week, it hasn’t really felt like a vacation. But, we’ve been able to get a lot of stuff done around the house which was needed. Next year maybe another road trip? We all want to go to Yellowstone again so we shall see.

Monday. I worked out! It’s so nice to be able to hit an 8:30am OTF class! Then we weeded in the backyard, then hit the Rec Center pool. We haven’t been in years, and it was so fun to go down those waterslides again.

Tuesday. I forgot my laptop at my work and needed to do a few things, so Caden and I made the trip downtown and ran a few errands while we were there. She got to hit her favorite donut shop, so she was happy. Since it was raining, we went to the new Spiderman movie. LOVED IT. I love all of the Avengers movies, but Tom Holland is adorable.

Wednesday. Another 8:30am OTF class for me! I could get used to this! My parents brought my niece over and we all headed to the pool for lunch and some swimming. It was raining, but that didn’t stop us! The rain cleared up a few times and the girls had the pool to themselves, which was super fun.

Thursday. Riding lessons for the girls and they did so well! Delaney and Oz are such a great team right now. She was jumping some crazy high jumps! My parents came up again and we decluttered and organized the basement, and my dad cleaned up the overgrown stuff in the back yard. It feels so good to have those things crossed off my list, and to reclaim my laundry room. Then we hit the pool for a few hours to soak up the perfect 82 degree weather.

Friday. It’s going to be hot today and while I will try to convince the girls to go to the pool, I doubt I’ll win. It’s going to be too hot, and they’re tired. Errands and finishing up the books we all started this week!

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