The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Let’s Talk Books

Reading is very, very big in our house. I love to read, and both girls love to read. We made a trip to the library yesterday and as I was putting them to bed Caden was twirling around her room saying “I just love reading so much!” She was REALLY excited about the books she found.

Delaney has been requesting books from the library for the last six months or so? She’s really found her groove with the fantasy/superhero/myth/god books. I asked her why she liked them so much and she said she loves books that couldn’t happen, where she has to really use her imagination to think about what the characters or the animals look like. It’s been a little hard to realize that a lot of my childhood favorites she’ll never read, but it’s also been really fun finding new series for her. For the New York trip I downloaded a bunch of random books onto their Kindle and one was book 7 of a series called The Unwanteds. (I had no idea it was book 7!) She’s fallen madly, deeply in love with the series so we have a hold out on Book 1. We also found a Thor series that we put holds on as well. She still reads graphic novels, but mostly superhero stuff. She’s super big into Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well to be fair, anything superhero. I requested the first Black Panther and she devoured that too.

Caden is pretty much all graphic novels all the time. Occasionally she veers off and will get a chapter book, but those are usually about a dog or a horse, and I just don’t think the storylines can compete with what she can find in the graphic novels. She reads everything – all the superhero stuff that Delaney grabs, plus anything else she can get her hands on. She checks out between 12-20 books every week and reads everything twice. She could spend an hour on the computer searching through the library catalog, finding books to put on hold. She hits both the teen section as well as the children’s section, and will read about any and every topic. When I was putting her books in the return slot last night there was one book about a family that survived a tornado. No subject is off limits for her!

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I count on her

When people ask about the differences between the two girls I often say they are like two sides of a coin.

Caden falls asleep quickly at night. Delaney is often up as late as 10:30 or 11:00.

Caden sets(!) an alarm for the morning, so she has enough time to watch 30 minutes of cartoons before she needs to get dressed. Delaney sleeps until the last possible minute.

Caden is not an adventurous eater. Even with things like pancakes or cinnamon rolls, she only likes what she likes. Weird frosting? Different mix? She’s out. Delaney’s palate is ever expanding. She tries new things and rolls with different versions of things.

Caden is responsible and detail/time oriented. She’s always the first one ready to go in the morning and frequently reminds us that “We’re leaving in two minutes!” Delaney is easily distracted and always the last one out the door.

I’ve known for a while that Caden will be our family’s saving grace at some point. She will be the one holding it together for us when I’m run ragged and her sister is distracted. She already cooks for herself a fair amount, and does things around the house without me asking, but the moment that made me smile and think Yep, that’s it, finally came last week. Tuesday is the day they swim. It was only day two of YMCA and we were still getting used to the packing list. As we were pulling out of the driveway I asked “Do you have your lunch?” Yes. “Swimsuit?” Yes. Then Delaney said that she forgot to pack her swim goggles. Caden said very quietly “I packed them for you, I knew you’d forget.”

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Father’s Day & Fishing

We headed up to the lake for Father’s Day weekend. When we got there Saturday morning it was sunny and beautiful! So the girls put their swimsuits on and headed down to the lake with the paddle boards. Unfortunately, I thought it was supposed to be cool and rainy on Saturday, not 80 and sunny, so I didn’t pack my swimsuit! They only swam for a bit, but it would have been fun to get out there with them.

After lunch the clouds rolled in and it sprinkled a bit, but we were still able to get out for a boat cruise for a bit with the family. It’s been a while since we did happy hour on the boat!


Sunday was cooler and windy, but we were determined to get out and do some fishing. There are two islands on our side of the lake, so we headed behind one of them hoping to find calm waters. It was calm and sunny – so perfect! And there were tons of fish! A lot of them were small, but as soon as your put your hook in the water some fish bit on it. The water was so clear that right by the boat, you could see the fish swimming towards your hook. We saw a big fish coming and going, but he didn’t seem interested in the bait. I moved to the back of the boat and when he swam near I caught him! He was the biggest sunfish we’ve caught in years! He must have been a fighter because one eye was clearly damaged (perhaps he’s Midas’ fish twin?). Luckily we got my dad a new filet knife for Father’s Day, so he had a nice sharp knife to clean all the fish with!


Funny story. My grandpa does not like dogs. But, my dogs aren’t around him enough to know that. In fact, Saturday evening he fed Annie cheetos (she stared at him and he couldn’t resist). Sunday morning he gave her some of his leftover eggs so clearly, she thought he was her BFF. As soon as we put down the anchors she hopped right up on his lap. I could have died.

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New Routines

When we went up to the lake for the first time in May I thought “And now it’s summer!” When we went to the pool for the first time I thought “Well now it’s really summer”. But truly, when we got in the car and headed to the YMCA on Monday morning, that was the beginning of summer and lo, it has been brutal.

We got home from NYC last Wednesday. That night we had a YMCA parent meeting and a softball game and our schedule has not stopped since. Without a doubt, I should have taken last Thursday and Friday off, I would have been in much better shape. Instead we have been perpetually behind (and exhausted).

YMCA is an entirely different schedule for us. We make lunches and pack snacks the night before. The girls do most of this, but it still needs to be done. We get up earlier in the mornings so we can leave earlier, but I don’t actually get into work much earlier. It also takes much longer to pick them up and get back home, so our evening routines are off. Softball is either at 5:30 or 6:00. Those times were a push before, but this week I had to sit down and write out drive times to figure out when I needed to leave work. On top of all of that, I signed them up for a 7:45am riding lesson. I thought it would be great to get it out of the way early in the morning, but even though we get up super early, they don’t get to YMCA until 9:30am.

The house is a disaster. We didn’t have anything going on yesterday so we were able to get things cleaned up a bit, but at any given time there are 6 water bottles and four lunch/snack containers scattered around the kitchen. The girls have a birthday party tonight, so I’m hoping to get the lawn mowed and laundry put away while they’re gone. If I can get things back to mostly good, we’ll at least be set up for next week.

We’ll eventually figure out our routines, I know we will. But I hate this period of chaos.

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NYC Recap & What’s Next

When I told people I was taking the girls to New York a lot of people said “What are you going to do there?” I began to question it myself a bit, but I also knew that my girls would love the city and they did!


My biggest advice to anyone going to New York is not to stay in Times Square. It’s too crazy. There are hotels that are a few blocks away that are great, I highly recommend the W Union Square if you can swing it, otherwise do your research and find an airbnb apartment. Being in a neighborhood made a huge difference for our trip. The girls loved hanging out on the fire escape watching people walk their dogs, and it was so nice returning to somewhere quiet after a day walking around the city.


Regrets.
1. We never did pizza. I had scoped out a few pizza places that had gluten free pizza, but I figured we’d hit one of the slice places for lunch at some point. I’m not sure we even saw any? I didn’t even see a Ray’s Pizza! Maybe we were in the wrong areas, but I feel like New York has changed a lot in the last few years.

2. I need a new baseball hat and saw the perfect NYC hat on our walk to the boat. I didn’t stop because I figured we’d see it again but we never did!

3. Brooklyn. I really thought this would be the trip we’d finally make it to Brooklyn but nope. Next time.

4. The High Line. If we’d had better weather, we definitely would have hit the high line. Our apartment was just a few blocks from it and I think everyone would have loved it.


A few months ago I was talking with a coworker who just got back from Thailand. She was telling me how cheap everything was there so I started doing some research. Thailand is actually not a bad place to take kids. There are lots of beaches, and the food is kid friendly, but the girls weren’t necessarily on board. After some discussion, we decided to go to Paris for next year’s spring break. We were all excited and even started learning French! But, after this trip and all the walking, we discussed it again and agreed we wanted a beach vacation instead. So next year we’re headed to San Diego! It’s about time I bring the girls to my other home state of California. I found an ocean front condo in Solana Beach that we are all excited about. We can take walks along the beach, there’s a community pool we can use, and it’s centrally located between my friends and family in San Diego. I’m super excited and so are the girls.

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NYC – Cookie Do & Bronx Zoo

Tuesday! Cookie Dough! I have no idea how I found this place, but somewhere along the line I pinned it when I realized they had gluten free/dairy free cookie dough as well. So yes, it really is unbaked cookie dough. They use pasteurized eggs so you won’t get sick. It’s in Greenwich Village and very popular, so we got there just before they opened. It was the perfect 10 minute walk from our apartment. Oh! And! We saw them shooting a tv show as we walked, that was very cool.

The girls both got the Unicorn flavor, although neither of them loved it.

Since we may never get back here, I told both of them to get two flavors to try. It was definitely more than we could eat, but we took it back to the apartment and had it for dessert that night. My mom got a salty/sweet flavor which she really liked, and I liked both of my flavors (regular choc chip cookie dough, and a pb choc chip flavor). Everyone that works there is super nice and they make the experience really fun!

I love the Village and really wanted the girls to see NYU and Washington Square Park. Unfortunately, it was drizzling but we did wander through the park and they played on the playground for a bit before we headed back. We had lunch at the apartment, then headed to the subway for the 43 minute trip up to the Bronx Zoo. This was easily the longest subway ride any of us had been on and it went by surprisingly fast! We even were above ground for a good portion of it which was cool as well.

The Bronx Zoo! This was Caden’s one request and I’m so glad we did it. The grounds are lush! It was raining but that really didn’t matter because of all of the trees.

We headed into the Bird building right away to avoid the rain and were all pleasantly surprised by all of the gorgeous birds! I will spare you the 50+ pictures my kids took of them (didn’t bring the big camera along due to rain) but we were fascinated. The zoo did a really amazing job with the enclosures. There were gorgeous paintings and lots of trees and rocks for the birds to hang out on.

Both lions were sleeping, but doesn’t he look like a curled up kitty?

I love zoos, but goodness with all of the walking. We were exhausted by this point, so we headed over and grabbed a snack so we could rest a bit. There were peacocks everywhere throughout the zoo! They must get along with every animal because we saw them in 90% of the enclosures. This guy was just wandering the zoo, and came over by everyone eating. Some kids were chasing him so I stepped in, and he followed us to our table.

If you are in New York and have the time to hit up this zoo, we all highly recommend it. It was an absolutely gorgeous zoo, and they do a fabulous job with all of the animals. Every animal has a big enclosure and plenty of room to roam and play. The one bummer was that because it was middle of the week, a lot of the shops and extra things were closed. Would be fun to get back on a sunny day!

After our subway ride back, we had intended to go to Chelsea Market for dinner, but on the walk there we passed a chicken place that had intrigued me when we passed it earlier. Dirty Chicken! The food was delicious, and everyone was happy. The girls got soup and mashed potatoes, my mom got fried chicken and I had rotisserie chicken. They even served alcohol (rose cider for the win!).

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NYC – 9/11, Grand Central, Library

Because of the dinner fiasco Sunday evening, I tried to plan a little better for Monday. We walked a ton on Sunday, so we were hoping to walk a little less, and get back to the neighborhood in time for dinner, then watch a movie before bed (Ironman for the win!). Luckily, we had walked past a mexican restaurant that fit the dinner bill perfectly on Saturday. The promise of guacamole kept us going throughout the day!

First up, 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The museum was incredibly well done. My mom and I worried that the girls wouldn’t understand the gravity of 9/11 while going through the museum, but they do such an amazing job that that wasn’t an issue at all. I assumed there would be pictures and memorabilia, but I was not prepared for the recordings. Listening to the voicemails people left for loved ones was overwhelming, and felt intensely personal. The girls listened to everything, I only listened to some. It was a heavy experience for everyone and I’m so glad we went.

After we headed to Wall St to catch the subway. I really wanted to find the Fearless Girl statue but I’ll be honest, I was tired and I wasn’t up to googling and mapping and figuring out how to get there. And I was hungry. So we headed to another one of my favorite places – Grand Central Station – for lunch.

My next genius idea was to head to the library! The girls love reading, and I’d never been to the New York Public Library so this was the perfect pit stop. We ate some treats in Bryant Park, then found the children’s section (which was right inside the door, clearly we weren’t the first people to do this) for a little down time. The girls found graphic novels to read, mom and I hit the couch for a little rest.

Can you spy them on the steps?

After we headed back to Times Square to catch the subway I’m guessing? And then walked to Dos Caminos for dinner? No, I think went to the apartment first? Either way, highly recommend Dos Caminos. Everyone loved their food, and the guac was worth it.

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NYC – Boat Cruise + Aladdin

The weather forecast was very iffy for the week and kept changing. Sunday seemed like a day that would be relatively rain free, so we booked our harbor cruise. The timing worked out well because the dock was on 42nd Street, and we also had tickets for Aladdin at 3:00, and the theater was on 42nd Street. Since we were hitting a Broadway show, the girls dressed up! Except right after this they put their coats on and really never took them off the rest of the day, so that was kind of a bust.

We ate a small breakfast at home, then went out for crepes as kind of a brunch? Caden was really excited about the crepes and turns out, she was right to be. They were fabulous! They even had a buckwheat crepe that I could eat. The girls did dessert crepes, and my mom and I got prosciutto and brie. They were to die for.

After brunch we took the blue line up to the Times Square station and what do we see as we get to street level? Carlo’s Bakery! We are big Cake Boss fans, so the girls were thrilled. We took a quick look inside, but since we’d just eaten, we came back after the boat cruise for treats. We had plenty of time, so we wandered Times Square a bit. This area has changed so much! It was mind boggling. Lots of places for people to gather and hang out, as well as food truck type buildings. It was pretty cloudy, so the girls got a good view of the billboards, but we also walked back through at night on our way to the subway stop when they got the full Times Square experience.

The boat cruise was really well done, except it was really hard to get pictures. People sat in chairs initially, but quickly got up to take pictures on either side. I’m not the type to do that so I have people in my shots. If you want unobstructed views, book the VIP package (premier I think?) where you have the top deck and it’s much fewer people. The guy did an awesome narration, but because we were towards the back of the boat, we saw whatever building he was talking about once he moved onto the next topic. My mom and I were v. confused at first until we figured that out.

 

You go right out next to the Statue of Liberty which was perfect. The girls got a great close up view of it! The guide had lots of great facts which they totally soaked up.

Isn’t the Brooklyn Bridge beautiful? We intended to walk across it, but with the cool and rainy weather, it just wasn’t in the cards. Next trip I’m definitely getting over to Brooklyn though!

I’ve done a harbor cruise before, but I think it was an evening cruise, and I don’t remember seeing all of the different bridges. This bridge was built after the Eiffel Tower, so the bases are steel rather than granite like the Brooklyn Bridge.

Right after the Statue of Liberty it totally started raining. My mom and I laughed because this was supposed to be a day without rain! And of course it rained. Luckily, the rain ended by the time we needed to hike back up 42nd Street to go to the show. LOVED Aladdin. Totally loved it! It was 2.5 hours long, but super engaging. The costumes were amazing, the musical numbers were amazing, and the Genie totally steals the show. Highly recommend it!

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NYC – Central Park

Apologies in advance for the picture overload, but Saturday was our only sunny day and we spent it in Central Park, so I have zillion pictures.

After trekking through Belvedere Castle, we wandered down towards the boat house for a little snack. There were a ton of people renting boats! It was a miracle there were no accidents out there. After our fries and ice cream, we headed over to the Bethesda Fountain. This is one of my favorite places for people watching in Central Park. We sat down by the fountain and proceeded to take a million pictures, most of them goofy. The girls don’t necessarily get the whole people watching thing and we needed a break, so I handed over my camera and let them snap away.

After the fountain we headed down the walk, intending to head towards the southern end of the park. But, there were portrait artists everywhere and Delaney really wanted her portrait drawn. One guy waved us over but as I looked at his drawings I realized I did not want to pay for that, so I snagged the girls quickly and found a different guy (who was of course directly across from the first guy, Caden was beyond embarassed but I did not care). He said it would only take 10 minutes, but it was just about an hour to draw both girls. It looks amazing though! He did a fantastic job. We wandered up and down and checked out all of the art, watched the guy do a sand drawing, and ogled the wedding parties having their pictures taken. Also a solid people watching spot.

By this time we were tired and hungry, so we headed back to the apartment to find dinner. Eating dinner was definitely more difficult with kids. Not every restaurant has kids menus, and I was not having my kids order expensive entrees. Saturday we went to a neighborhood spot called Corner Bistro that luckily served burgers, fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with bacon. There was a hangry moment where I thought we might lose Caden, but the bacon came through for her and she now has a new favorite sandwich.

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New York City!

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve realized we were in New York City the last few days. I have been planning this trip for a very long time! New York is one of my favorite cities to visit. It’s always felt like home to me and has been somewhere I feel a pull to return to over and over. But I will definitely admit, it’s very different doing the city with kids.

Two plus years ago we went to Chicago. While we live near a big city, it’s not really a big city. Chicago was the trip to see if the girls could handle NYC. When that trip went well, I knew we’d be fine in New York. I didn’t want to go over spring break, but instead just after school let out so we’d have a shot at warmer weather. It worked out well to go this year since we were in Arizona over Thanksgiving, which made it easier to skip a spring break trip.

In the past I’ve used to points to stay at nice hotels in the city but, I don’t travel enough to have a ton of points anymore, so we used Airbnb to rent an apartment. I love staying in apartments when I vacation. I stay in a lot of hotel rooms for work and while they’re fine when you aren’t in them much, I really like having a couch to relax on, rooms for people to retreat to, and a kitchen to cook in. I looked at a lot of apartments online, and ultimately went with one in the West Village that was nicely updated, but still in an area I was familiar with and knew would be a good neighborhood. We ate breakfast at home every day, and it was nice having a refrigerator to keep snacks and leftovers in. While the apartment was small, the space was used well and it didn’t feel small at all. It was also across the street from a chocolatier, Starbucks, and above a wine shop and a french bakery. We all loved having our home base in a quiet neighborhood, especially the girls as they watched dog after dog get walked on our street from the fire escape.

More posts to come once I have a chance to process all of our pictures, but for now, a few from our first day in the city. Saturday was our only sunny, gorgeous day, so we headed straight up to Central Park. I had never explored the Belvedere Castle before, so we climbed to the top and took in the amazing views!

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