The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Calling all Introverts

I’m an introvert. When I tell people that they are often shocked because most people assume introverts are incredibly shy people. Not true. Introverts are sometimes shy, but often we aren’t. But, we definitely behave differently in social situations.

I’ve never been someone with a full social schedule, but I didn’t realize I was an introvert until a few years ago. Reading the book Quiet was incredibly eye opening for me and made so many things in my life make sense. I stopped fighting things that I felt like I should be doing, and started embracing the things that I really needed to do to protect my sanity.

My parents are both extroverts, so they don’t always get my need for quiet time, but they’ve learned to just let me be. Smart phones are amazing because I can just dip off into the world of candy crush or instagram for a bit when I need some quiet time.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately is recovering from the exhaustion that results from my every day life. I’m in a bit of a perfect storm where I have two very chatty seven-year-olds that yearn to tell me their every thought. Work right now is back to back meetings, and if I’m not in a meeting someone is in my office talking to me about something. I have about two hours in the evenings of quiet time to myself, which I need to recharge. When my client was in town last week it was two days of nonstop socializing. A little more than normal? Yes. But the level of my exhaustion on Wednesday was stupid. Everyone kept asking me “What’s your deal? Are you drunk?”

I feel like I used to be able to do life – work, be social, have fun. Now, by the time 8:00pm rolls around all I’m ready for is sitting on the couch. Dating? Forget about it. Going out on a Saturday night with my girlfriends? Can’t even comprehend it. I want to see my friends more, I want to date, I just can’t quite figure out how to make it happen. On the flip side, I’m a social enough person that I could never work full time from home, or hermit forever. I need the social interaction or I go a little stir crazy, but it’s always such a balance.

So here’s my question. Introverts, as you’ve gotten older do you notice you need more recharge time? Or is it more the having older kids that requires more recharge time? Are there any tricks you have for me?

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Happy Birthday Caden & Delaney

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Happy Birthday girls.

I keep waiting to get super sentimental or weepy about you two turning seven, but it’s not happening. I loved reminiscing with your grandparents about the day you were born but truly, I find that most of all I’m EXCITED about seven. I think it started back in Chicago. The three of us had so much fun, and that trip was something all of us had input on. It really felt like a family thing, rather than something that I planned and you two tagged along on. In that trip, I saw all of our future travel together and it got me so excited.

This year we added Annabelle to our family and she loves the two of you something fierce. I love watching the three of you together, and love it even more when she very clearly chooses one of you over me. She loves nothing more than to curl up in your lap and chill.

It’s getting late and I still need to blow up balloons and decorate your room so I will end with this. I hope this next year is amazing. I hope you continue to find joy in the little things, and that you continue to love the things that make you laugh. I hope your friendships stay strong, and that you learn to look past the little thing that get in the way of them. I hope you continue to love math and reading and science and learning all the things. And lastly, I hope you continue to tell me the important, and the not so important parts of your day.

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Birthday Weekend!

The girls birthday is tomorrow, so this was birthday weekend. Friend party on Saturday, family party on Sunday.

When they turned four we did a big friend party and a big family party. I was birthday prepping for weeks beforehand. When they turned five we did a smaller family party and no friend party. I was clearly burned out from the year before. For six we did a friend party and no family party, which I hated. I vowed to do better this year.

This year I wanted to get back to having both parties, without going overboard with either. Aside from a timing mishap on Saturday, I think we achieved that.

The friend party was a Glamour party at the local blow dry bar. This was a super fun party to plan! All of the girls got their hair curled.

caden hair

They got a swipe of color, and I made pipe cleaner tiaras for everyone.

laney crown

While half of the girls were getting their hair done, the other half were in the VIP room decorating their picture frame (wood frames from Michaels that we painted a few weekends ago) or getting their nails done. If I did this party again I would skip painting nails. It was too dark to see, and there wasn’t enough time for the nails to dry, so they were getting smudged. We also had pink glitter popcorn and applesauce squeezers for them to eat. No one liked the popcorn, everyone loved the applesauce. Of course they did.

picture frame

The kids had an awesome time, and the hour and a half absolutely flew by. My mom was there to help, as was my friend Amy. I could not have done this party without either of them. With ten 7-year-olds someone constantly needed something, so three adults was essential. Thank you so much to both of you! Amy also took pictures the entire time which was awesome! After each girl was glammed up, she took a picture of them in the queen chair. When we send thank you cards out, I’ll include that picture so they can put it in the frame they decorated.

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The family party on Sunday was fabulous. I did a taco bar which came together really easily, without a ton of cooking. My mom and I had hit Trader Joe’s on Saturday and picked up some beer and a bottle of sangria, which I happily drank all afternoon. We got to see family we haven’t seen since Mexico, and the cousins came so the kids got to play. It really was perfection. It was all so relaxed and happy, I loved it.

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Photobomb! The girls asked for a chocolate birthday cake with frosting that wasn’t too sweet. Done. Chocolate cake with dark chocolate mousse filling, and a whip cream frosting. Those flavors work perfectly together. Everyone loved it, even the people who don’t love chocolate.

caden bday 1

They got really thoughtful gifts. My aunt Lisa got them both dolphin necklaces because they swam with the dolphins in Mexico. Caden cannot wait to wear hers! My parents got them a hammock swing like the one we fell in love with in Mexico, and they got some awesome crafts.

grandparents birthday

It was fun to talk through the day they were born. My parents were such a huge part of that day, and have been such a huge part of their lives since. My mom spent all day Saturday with us running errands, frantically making pink popcorn, and corralling kids. Then she came back up on Sunday with taco meat in tow, as well as folding tables. Thank you so much for all of your help! We wouldn’t be where we are without your love and support.

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Finally Friday

I would have sworn I had pictures from three days this week, but apparently I only have two. I feel like that is a recurring theme for me.

In other news, this early in the game the girls want to play the piano nonstop. I really need to get the piano lessons sorted out so it’s more playing and less banging.

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Monday. The girls have been picking out their own clothes every day, without even complaining about it. It’s so nice to not have that on my list to do anymore!

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Tuesday. Sparkles! Caden has her snow pants on because I was making an effort this week and made her come back upstairs for a quick picture.

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Dairy Free

Back in June when I did the Whole30, the last thing I expected to learn from it was that I was lactose intolerant. I knew ice cream gave me a stomach ache, but I was fine with everything else wasn’t I? I lost a pound a day for the first six days of the Whole30. I was in shock and completely astonished. I’m not somewhat who drops weight easily or quickly, so to lose six pounds in six days was mind boggling. The first thing I did when I went off the Whole30 was drink a vanilla latte. The next thing that happened was I got a massive stomach ache.

I’ve been dealing with food intolerances long enough to know that I needed to pay attention to dairy, and sure enough, the next few times I ate it my stomach hurt, I was bloated, and my gut was clearly unhappy with me. Within a few days of eating dairy I gained the six pounds back. WHAT? I went off dairy, lost the six pounds, and all was good again.

Being gluten free is difficult but doable. Being dairy free is difficult but doable. Putting both of them together makes things a lot more difficult. Out went quesadillas and enchiladas from our regular menu rotation. Most of the salads I love had cheese in them. Greek yogurt for a quick snack? No more. I quickly realized how much I leaned on dairy for a quick snack or to augment a dish and knew that I needed to learn how to make different choices when I was out in restaurants, as well as cooking at home.

As difficult as all of this can be, I feel a million times better so it’s absolutely worth it. After the Whole30 I dropped a few more pounds and am back in the weight range that I feel comfortable in. A coworker stopped by my office yesterday and commented that I looked like I’ve lost a lot of weight. This is not the first time I’ve heard this. When your body cannot tolerate a food, its response is to be inflamed. If you’re eating that food every day, your body is chronically inflamed. By removing dairy, my body was able to calm down. Except for last Easter when I was at my heaviest, I’m at the weight that I’ve been for the majority of the last five years, but my face is no longer puffy and inflamed, so I look skinnier.

I think there are plenty of people out there who can tolerate dairy and plenty who can tolerate gluten. But if you think you’re one of those who can’t, know that there is more on the other side than a whole list of foods you can’t eat. I cook my eggs in bacon fat, I top my hamburgers with mushrooms, onions, and avocado, my clothes actually fit, and I feel good in this body. It may be hard, it may require more planning, but it’s worth it.

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Birthday Eve Week

The girls birthday is next Tuesday, with their parties this weekend. Once the girls decided on their friend party, all of the details for that have come together fairly easily. I have a few things to do to prep for that, but overall it’s been fairly relaxed on the party prep side. So much so that I keep wondering if I’m missing something!

My client is in town this week so last night we headed to the Mall of America. My kids seem to find their way out with us every time she is in town, and last night was no exception. We grabbed dinner, then hit some rides. The plan was for her and her daughter to shop and we would head home. Except we hit a few more rides, and then H&M was right there so we went in to see if they had any cute dresses for their birthday party.

Definitely being in a mall made it difficult not to shop, especially the MOA. Party dresses had been on my mind the last few weeks, but I felt like we could make something work from their closet, rather than buy new. H&M is very hit or miss for us, so I knew it could easily be a bust, but both girls found something cute for $6 each, so I bought them. It was annoying to me that I caved so easily and bought them clothes, but also a good lesson to learn that it’s better for me to just stay away from the malls. (I also bought them Toms shoes when Zulily had them on sale last week, but those are staple shoes for Delaney year round, so that’s a reasonable purchase.)

After the clothes purchase we hit Sabon for some lotion and then headed home. It was a really nice night with my client and her daughter, and a really nice night with my own two girls. Most of our evenings are dinner and homework then bed, and it was nice to just hang out and wander around for once.

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We bought a piano!

piano 1

The girls have been talking about wanting to take piano lessons for six months or so. I dismissed it for two reasons. First, when would we fit piano lessons in? Second, don’t pianos cost a ton of money? Not in the budget.

They recently completed piano lessons in music class at school and they talked of nothing else the entire time. The school district has keyboards that go from school to school, so they actually got to practice a few times a week on them. They learned the basic keys and notes, and came home and played me their songs on our tiny keyboard.

Hearing Delaney talk about how much she loved music (because it’s like math, they’re both about numbers!) gave me the push I needed to go out and at least look to see how much a piano would cost. Turns out, you can get a piano for not a crazy amount of money.

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I found a wide array of pianos on Craigslist. Some for not much money, some for a lot, some had moving included in the price even! I looked through a ton of listings but knew when I saw this piano that this would be the one for us. It was clearly in great shape and had been maintained and tuned throughout its life. The woman selling it had sold her house and needed to get rid of it. The price seemed too cheap to be true, but we went and checked it out and it was perfect. Everything is in great shape, and the piano is beautiful.

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My dad was planning on coming up to hang out with us on Sunday, so I asked if he thought we could move it. He wasn’t thrilled, but with a little muscle from one of the guys I work with (and the neighbor boy!) we did it!

And now, we need to figure out piano lessons. I’m hoping to possibly find someone who will come to the house? Otherwise Saturday morning lessons will probably be what we go for. I had thought the babysitter could take them after school, but with the time we have, I don’t think we can make that happen.

The girls are beyond thrilled. They are so excited about this and are both taking things very seriously. Caden said she really wants to be a famous musician someday, so perhaps this will be the thing that kickstarts her career.

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Love Languages

A long time ago I read the 5 Love Languages book (is there one about your kids? I think I read that one). It was intriguing and made so much sense. At the time the girls were too young for me to really hone in on just one love language, but as they’ve grown older it’s very clear their love language is touch. They love to snuggle, love to sleep with each other or with me, and really need that physical touch. It’s something I’m very conscious of and try to make time for every day.

As well as I know them? They know me equally as well. My love language is totally acts of service/time. Want to show me you love me? Help out around the house with the millions of projects (my parents know my love language as well!).

Valentine’s morning the girls were up early and hustling and bustling about the house. They’re old enough to not get into trouble so I went back to sleep. They were busy bees! They got dressed, then cleaned up and organized the house. They cleared the mess of stuff off the dining table, they cleared the mess off the coffee table in the basement, they organized their toys and art supplies in the living room, and completely picked up their bedroom and made their beds. They know what makes Mama happy – a clean house!

It was the sweetest gesture. I love that they knew what would really make me happy, and seriously, it was such a help. As they get older, they are taking more initiative around the house, especially with organizational things. I’m an organized person, but I’m more apt to throw things away, whereas they are good at putting things away in places that make sense. We complement each other well.

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All the tiny things

* Thank you so much for the chapter book suggestions! I found Boxcar Children and a few Minecraft books on Kindle Unlimited and the girls are THRILLED to have new books to read.

* I am the worst salesperson you’ve ever seen, but the girls and I are totally getting into selling their Girl Scout cookies. We hit up my work, their old daycare, and a few friends before we ran out of the good cookies and had to restock. Tonight after dinner we’re going to hit up a few neighbors, and I’m hoping to sell a bunch more at work on Friday. It totally helps that they are the easiest thing ever to sell!

* When I got Lucy it was June, I was single and kidless, and had all the time in the world to take her to dog parks and socialize her. Annabelle, not so much. We took her to our friends house on Monday night to meet their dogs and she’s a little bit of a nervous nellie. We definitely need to get her to some dog parks this spring so she gets used to being around other dogs.

* While Annabelle doesn’t mind her crate, it’s obvious she would much rather spend her days on my bed looking out the window. Yesterday morning she made herself as small as possible on my pillow on the off chance we wouldn’t see her and she could skip her crate for the day. No dice, since I don’t trust her not to chew up random things. However, maybe someday? I would love to get that crate out of my bedroom.

* The girls were off Monday for President’s Day and it was so nice to have a three day weekend. Just knowing that I had an extra day to get things done was motivating for me to tackle some projects with the girls that I wouldn’t normally tackle. The craft for their birthday party is now ready to go, and we did some science experiments that were super fun. All with plenty of time to get the house back in order by Monday evening.

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Chapter Books!

My kids have always loved to read, always loved books, but they weren’t huge readers. We hit up the library often and they love picking out books and coming home with a huge stack of them. But that stack would sit on the shelf until it was time to take them back to the library. I would hear other moms of kids just a little bit older than mine talk about how their kids read book after book after book. My kids were good readers, they read above their grade level, but they weren’t reading much on their own. What was up?

They needed a little more time, that’s what was up. Slowly but surely chapter books have continued to find their way into their book in a bags at night and slowly but surely the girls are actually enjoying them!

For Christmas I gave them a Kindle and we quickly loaded it up with Diary of a Wimpy kid books. Around that time Caden also found the Bad Kitty and Captain Underpants books. These books are genius because they’re chapter books, but with pictures so the kids get engaged the in the longer story, and the pictures bridge the gap and make the book easier to read. Both girls love them and will read and read and read now which I love. It is so awesome to peek into their room and see Caden reading in her bed or hear Delaney asking for the Kindle so she can read. And those books we bring home from the library? They are read and passed back and forth between them, and sometimes read again.

We have the Magic Treehouse books, but they aren’t really drawn to those yet. My mom got them the Ramona set, which they’ve started reading. They’ve also read some of the Ivy + Bean books. What else should I be on the lookout for? Bonus points if it’s on the Kindle Unlimited list.

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