The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Almost August

Because the elementary schools have the latest start time in our city, the girls sleep in later for school, than they do in the summertime. I’ve always been a bit bummed about that, since summer should be about staying up late, sleeping in, and having lots of adventures.

But, I think I’ve been talking about it a bit too much because that’s all I hear lately. “I don’t want to go to YMCA. I want to sleep in!” Ugh. I finally told both of them no more complaining about the YMCA, no more complaining about getting up early. Because honestly? They only get up 15-30 minutes earlier than they do during the school year. Plus, they’ve been asking me to get up even earlier so they can get to the YMCA earlier, so they can play in the “cool room” before they go outside at 8:00am. So. Here’s to hoping we’re done with that bit of whining, although I’m not holding my breath.

Yesterday morning as we were walking in Delaney asked how much more YMCA they had. I told her she had over a month left. You think they’d be happy about having a month before school starts! I do think they that we are all in a bit of a weird school mindset. Both of our summer vacations are over. We’ll still hit the lake a few more weekends, but no big vacation to look forward to. We bought their new school backpacks and lunch boxes in early July, and their school supplies last week. Even I catch myself thinking that school must just be around the corner?

Summer in Minnesota doesn’t last long, so I hate that we’re wishing it away. I keep thinking we should make a summer bucket list or something like that, but I’m not sure what the girls would put on it besides getting fro yo, and going to the zoo. Instead I’m just trying to ensure that we spend some time outside every night. We’re all a little tired by the time we get home, and after dinner it’s easy to just collapse on the couch, but we’ve been trying to take Annie for a walk, or read our books on the patio. This weekend I’m hoping to maybe get some yard work in, maybe actually hit the farmer’s market this time?

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Betting on the Ponies

I’m posting this way after the fact, but last week got crazy so here it goes.

After we got home from Lake Mary, I tried to get things unpacked and run through the laundry as quickly as possible so that we had Sunday to do what we wanted. Initially I had thought we’d hit a smaller Farmer’s Market where a gluten free bakery was serving cinnamon rolls, but I checked twitter and saw that Canterbury Park had family day that day, with free face painting and pony rides. Sold! I’ve wanted to take the girls to the horse races for a few summers, but it’s hard to find the right timing to do it.

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We had so much fun. In between races we hit the pony rides, face painting, and petting zoo. We also went to the paddock to see the next race’s horses, and to see who they were picking to do well in the race. We tried just picking the name we liked best, but those horses finished dead last.

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One race I tried placing my bets on the computer, but I screwed up and ended up betting on the next race. Ouch! So for that race, we hedged things and placed another bet on the favored horse. Both horses we bet on were out on front from the very beginning! It was very exciting after having our horses finish last. And, we finally won some money! We won money on our last race too, which brought us a little closer to even for the day.

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The only downside to the afternoon is that it’s a lot of walking around. I liked sitting in the upper deck so we could see the whole race, but that meant going up and down the stairs a lot as we checked out the horses or did the activities. The girls were troopers, but it was a bit of a pain and I felt like we were always on the move.

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I can’t wait to go back, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to talk the girls into it. I’m hoping maybe if we can get some friends to go along too, they’ll get excited about it.

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Heat and more heat

I contemplated staying home this weekend since we’ve been gone so much, but the forecast said hot and humid so we headed to the lake. My niece had a softball tournament (champions!) on Saturday, so my brother and his family joined us on Sunday since they had a free day.

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My brother and SIL took Annabelle for a walk while the rest of us swam. Isn’t he a good uncle? The week of boarding has really helped Annie come out of her shell! She let my cleaning guy pick her up on Saturday, and was super friendly with my brother. First time for both! Love.

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The girls’ hair has been short for so long, I’m ecstatic that it’s long enough for me to do braids again! Pippi Longstocking for the win. This is the best hairstyle for swimming for us. It keeps it out of their eyes, and it isn’t a snarled mess when it dries.

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Does Laney have the best cannonball or what??? I was so impressed! My dad and I commented that the girls are SUCH strong swimmers. They swim 2-4 times a week, plus swimming lessons. It’s just amazing how confident they are in the pool.

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Adventures for Annabelle

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Given that Annabelle was at the pet boarding place while we were out of town over the 4th of July, I had a lot of anxiety about what to do with her while we were gone for a week at the lake. I contemplated a lot of different scenarios. I thought about having one of my friends stay at our house with her, I thought about asking friends if she could stay with them, but I worried about her barking all the time and bothering people. I didn’t want to worry about how she was doing, or if she was being annoying, so in the end I booked her into the boarding place again.

The problem with the boarding place is that she’s out and about with the other dogs from about 7:30am – 6:30pm. That’s a long day for a dog that loves her sleep. She would come home absolutely exhausted, and would sleep an entire day away just to recover. During the week she sleeps most of the day while we’re gone, and the change in her schedule was too much. When I booked the reservation I requested that she be given a multi-hour break from the daycare room in the middle of the day to recover.

When we dropped her off I also signed her up for daily doggy ice cream. I figured a little treat would make her days better. This worked out well because ice cream is at noon, so she could get a nap in after that. The boarding place has web cams, so we watch her all day. She was regularly out of the room for about three hours every day, which was perfect. We also caught her playing and wrestling with the other dogs a bunch of times! This is huge for her! She isn’t very good at social play with other dogs, so to see her being a normal dog was awesome.

We picked her up at noon on Saturday and she was her happy, perky self. She wasn’t exhausted, and she didn’t come home and sleep for 24 hours, so this was definitely a success.

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Fish and more fish 

One of the things that has surprised me the most, is how much I love fishing with the girls. They get so excited when they get a fish, and even if the big ones aren’t biting, we still have fun. Our last time fishing we hit a really hot spot and Caden was on fire. She would shout “COME ON!” every time she caught a fish.

In the beginning of the week, Delaney caught most of the fish. This caused Caden to cry, because she hates anything that isn’t fair. One day we took the boat to a different lake to fish and about halfway through that day, the luck changed and Caden was the one catching the big fish. (The big bass she’s holding two pictures down was from that day.) We headed back to Lake Mary after that and found a spot where we caught some really big sunfish. Before that we caught a lot of little sunfish. I’m talking two inches long little. Fun for a second, but the girls hated that they weren’t keepers. The big fish are so much more fun to catch, and luckily Caden’s fishing rod was out of the water occasionally so Delaney got to catch a few too. My dad and I laughed because their bobbers could be 12 inches from each other, but every time the fish would bite on Caden’s worm.

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More Horses

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I knew we wanted to go back to the same place with the horses as we did last year when we were at Lake Mary. I had done some research ahead of time and thought they could do an hour long private lesson, but no, only a 30 minute intro lesson, walking only. Delaney was bummed because Caden got to trot at the YMCA and she didn’t, and we thought this might be her chance. Eight really seems to be the magic age for the more advanced lessons.

They got an overview of the sadle and the bridle and how you put everything on. I’m fairly sure they remember none of it. It was a wee bit technical for them.

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The intro lesson covers starting, stopping, and turning, all of which they already know how to do so the instructors let them do the poles over and over.

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Lots of slow walking around the riding arena, even a game of red light, green light. It wasn’t the most exciting lesson, but it was fun for me to get to watch them ride! Next year, we could do either the private lessons or a trail ride. A trail ride would be fun, yet that is mostly more slow walking while looking at the person in front of you.

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Delaney rode Levi. Such a pretty boy!

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And Caden rode Lily. Sorry for cutting your head off Lily!

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Lake Mary

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At home I have a definite routine. After the kids go to bed, I head to my laptop and write up the post for the next day. Most of our past vacations I’ve done the same thing but this time, nope. It was so good to disconnect and not fire up the laptop every night.

Vacation was awesome. So awesome. The resort we stay in is picture perfect, on a lake that you can swim in (some lakes in Minnesota right now are gross with algae) and has great fishing, our cabin looks directly onto the beach, and our neighbors were super fun. On top of that, we had sunshine and 85 degree weather every single day. A few days they were predicting something different, but somehow it always ended up being 85 and sunny, no matter how the morning started.

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The sun did get a little relentless. Caden is usually good about self regulating, but I realized she recognizes when she’s cold, but not so much when she’s too hot. We played games and had them read in the shade, and took water/sunscreen breaks frequently. We played Sequence a bunch of times and it’s the perfect game because it requires some strategy, but not so much the kids can’t play. We had a bit of a fail in this picture because we wanted to play outside, but were in the sun and there was no breeze. The kids bailed after 15 minutes. Luckily I was in a swimsuit because I was dripping sweat. Why didn’t we just move the picnic table into the shade???

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As I mentioned last week, there were neighbor kids that the girls made friends with. By the end they were friends with everyone, kids and adults, and we all spent a lot of time out in the water together. And yet, it was moments like this one that I loved the most. Watching the two of them out in the water making up crazy games and having so much fun. We’ve been to the pool a few times this year and it just doesn’t compare to lake fun for them. They spent hours on this aqua mat. Having conversations, doing somersaults off of it, getting thrown across it. It was their very favorite thing.

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Both girls learned how to dock the boat on this trip, and they drove the boat quite a bit on their own. My dad was always right there, and they were excellent captins! The neighbors even clapped when Delaney docked the pontoon perfectly! She was proud (and a bit embarrassed) as was I. I also think Caden really let out her goofy side this trip. She was silly and funny and had all of these sayings, she definitely kept us laughing!

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Swimming and Sunsets

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We’re back! This is our second time back at this resort. Last year we had an amazing time and the weather was complete crap. This time, the weather is beautiful and we’re having an even more amazing time! Every hour we look at each other and say “It’s absolutely perfect out! This is what summer is all about.”

Saturday was gorgeous and both girls immediately put their suits on and hit the lake. They very quickly made friends with the two neighbor girls who the same age. While they always have each other to play with, it’s so much fun to watch them make friends. Another year has made them strong swimmers, and made it easier to play on the aqua mat and swimming raft. We spent 15 minutes on Sunday thinking up different ways to jump off the raft. Last year the weather was so much cooler, we just didn’t swim as much.

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We have not yet found the hot fishing spots, but I’m hopeful. We tried a few spots that we fished in last year with no luck, and tried a few new spots, but no luck there either. Delaney caught one sunny that was keeper size, otherwise we’ve caught a bunch of tiny perch. Caden is less than thrilled.

Sunday was HOT. It was awesome. We swam a ton and soaked up the heat. But, with that kind of heat comes crazy weather and we got that too. We knew a storm was coming, but I was shocked when the weather alert on our phones went off. It wasn’t one of those where maybe a tornado was coming, it was the warning where a tornado had been spotted. Yikes! I snapped a few shots of the crazy clouds, then we hit the bathroom for a bit since that was the safest spot. I’m a big fan of a good thunderstorm, and it was way cool to watch it roll in across the lake, but I much prefer riding them out in the comfort of my own basement. That got a little scary.

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Monday evening the weather was perfect so I had the girls do some posing to see what kinds of sunset silhouette shots we could get. We kept playing around with jumping shots, and then I asked Caden to fly. I love this one! It needs some tweaking, but it turned out better than I expected. Nice shot Laney!

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Snacks on hand

Having been gluten free for almost four years now, I’ve definitely learned what situations I can stay strong in and when I’m going to cave. I used to cave a lot, but being sick is not so appealing to me anymore so I try to plan ahead. Dessert is tough for me. Before I was dairy free, I could often have some candy or ice cream along with everyone else. Now, that is out too. So I bring my own snacks and I bring my own dessert so that when everyone else is eating a treat, I can too. Sometimes, you just don’t want to feel left out.

These two recipes saved me last weekend during the 4th of July holidays. They were both awesome snacks during the day when I needed a little something, and I busted the date bars out every time everyone else ate dessert.

Oatmeal Walnut Date Bars. We often grab groceries on Friday nights. We’ll swing through Trader Joe’s first, then hit Whole Foods for anything left on our list. The girls will often get a cupcake or other treat from the bakery. I’ve tried a few gluten free treats, but none were very good. And then I found a crumb date bar in the freezer. It was perfection! The right amount of sweet with the right amount of baked treat. These bars are close to Whole Foods bars. The dates taste enough like caramel to make this a great dessert.

Monster cookie dough energy bites. There are a million recipes out there for energy bites. It’s really all about what ingredients you like. For me, almond butter is out, which means I need something that is based in peanut butter. I like the flax seed and coconut in this, and the chocolate gives it a little sweet. The girls eat these as an after school snack, and I like them on the weekends if I need a little fat/protein. The only downside is you need to eat them just out of the freezer. When they thaw they end up in a puddle.

Dark chocolate peanut butter granola bars. These bars are my other staple at home. You will always find a container of them in my freezer! They are creamy and nutty with a hit of chocolate.

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Flip and Flop

* I love our swimming lessons. This is the second year we’ve done them at the YMCA and while they are way more expensive, it is absolutely worth it! In the beginning of the summer Caden could barely tread water for 10 seconds, now she can do it for several minutes. Delaney was doing the front stroke (?) and had her face in the water and her arm form was awesome. I couldn’t believe it! Their instructor is awesome, mixing just the right amount of fun into things. I wanted to sign up for a second session this summer, but there isn’t one. Guess we’ll wait until next summer!

* The girls had a sleepover last night with one of their friends. I had an evening to myself! I relaxed a bit, then did some cleaning and organizing and got to bed early. I downloaded a sleep app because I have been so tired lately, I’m wondering if I’m not sleeping well or something. We shall see.

* The sleepover came at the perfect time because their field trip tomorrow was to a park to swim. While my girls are total fish and love to swim, they seem to get burned out on that activity fairly quickly. I’ve broached the possibility of being on a swim team a few times and it always gets vetoed. Maybe when they’re older.

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