The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Bullets(ish)

* I have totally, utterly, and completely screwed up the solar eclipse today. We have a lot going on this week so we couldn’t drive to totality, still, Minnesota is 83% so not bad? Except I didn’t buy glasses, and the girls will be at the YMCA where for safety reasons, they will be kept indoors. I just … %$#!!

* Delaney got strep last week (during horse camp of course) and it hit her hard. She’s finally feeling a little better, but she hasn’t had an appetite so she’s got no energy. She may stay home with me which means we will hit up google to see if we can make homemade eclipse protection. (How mad will Caden be though? This one does not have a good ending.)

* We were at the lake this weekend. Saturday was great weather. Caden and I were able to paddle board all the way across the lake with ease! Laney laid low but still made it out to the county fair. But, we came home yesterday morning and it was nonstop getting the house clean, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, and picking up the foster pup. For some reason, I handle all of this better early in the summer. I am not ready for the weather to get cooler and I am not ready to close down the lake, but I am sadly, kind of ready for us to get back into normal weekend routines. We’re trying to stockpile arts and crafts and fun things to do. I think this is why I’m such a four seasons girl.

* As I’m typing this, the dogs are piled onto some blankets on the floor snoozing. Clearly, they all enjoyed the weekend too.

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Heavy

It’s been a heavy weekend. Saturday I went to an adoption event with Loki and there was a tiny rat terrier there that I’ve been waiting to see. She’s gorgeous. She has an all white body with a black and brown face. And she’s only 5 lbs! It’s like a Midas-sized Lark! Except she’s about 10 times more scared than Larkie ever was. She was shivering in a corner so I scooped her up and held her for most of the event. She calmed down in my arms, but I had to hold back the tears when I wondered what someone had done to make this beautiful dog this fearful. If all works out, once Loki is adopted she’ll come to our house. I’m hoping Lark and Midas can work their magic on her. I’ve thought about scooping her out of boarding sooner, but four dogs is really my max.

Throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday I scrolled through Twitter. The events in Charlottesville made me sick to my stomach. I’m not shocked it happened since hate crimes have been on the rise since election day, but it made me realize that we really have so much work to do in this country. Even once Trump is gone, there is so much hate in this country that we have to deal with.

So yeah, heavy weekend.

And now it’s Game of Thrones time. Daenarys Targaryen always makes me feel better.

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A much looser plan

When we got back from vacation after the 4th of July I gave up cooking. I just couldn’t any more. Doing so was incredibly freeing. I was so burned out on not only cooking, but thinking about what I was going to cook that I just needed to shut that part of my brain off for a while. We went out to eat some, but with the summer heat, mostly resorted to easy, quick, free for all dinners at home. It was glorious. It’s amazing when your kids are old enough to figure out what they want to eat and cook it themselves! 

After a few weeks of this I realized I felt awful. The bowl of cereal, frozen waffle, and peanut butter toast were all easy to make, but all I was eating were carbs. My blood sugar was dropping during the day, I was eating way too much sugar, and I was cranky and tired.

We’ve hopefully found something in the middle. Delaney loves the frozen gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. It’s an easy meal that she can make herself so I buy a bunch of them. Caden loves chicken noodle soup (but only Campbells Homestyle because why not). I’ve tried to throw in a few cooked meals like spaghetti, tacos, and meat on the grill, so we’re getting some protein, and so I have leftovers to eat on other nights.

It’s working. I feel better and it’s not a full blown monthly meal plan that has me cooking for 45 minutes every night so I’m happy. It was also a good reminder that if I eat like crap, I’ll feel like crap. Since going gluten free I’ve kept my eating mostly in check, but that also means a lot of cooking and I know I get burned out. People who cook every day for large families or growing boys or any of that have my undying respect. So yes, happy medium and I’m already perusing recipes for when I get back to real cooking in September.

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Vet Week

Like Shark Week except more expensive?

Both dogs went to their specialists this week. Lark’s appointment was planned, Midas was more last minute.

Midas’ eye wasn’t looking good. It was often red, and the swelling hadn’t gone down even though it had been a year since diagnosis. The vet immediately noticed he was squinting and was concerned. He checked his pressure and it was 34.5, higher than it should be.

Long story short, the eye drop we are using isn’t controlling his pressure as it should. We are adding in another drop that lessens fluid production. I give it 3 times per day and I can already notice a difference. His eye is visibly smaller. My concern is that this dosing schedule is not sustainable. Morning and night I give three drops, fifteen minutes apart (latanoprost, the new drop, then artificial tears). In the afternoon we are to give the new drop again.

The next step is surgery. I think it’s more of a when do we do surgery, not if we do surgery at this point. There are two options I’m considering. The first option is laser surgery. This is less invasive, and they use a laser to destroy the part of the eye that produces fluid so that it produces less fluid. I forgot to ask if we still have to do drops after this but my guess is yes, we would still need to do the latanoprost. The other option is to remove his eye completely. This is more invasive, but obviously a complete solution. No eye, no pressure, no glaucoma, no eye drops, no headaches for Mighty Man. It’s a slam dunk, but it’s also clearly more invasive. Do we try to keep the eye? That is the question that I can’t answer at this point. I feel like less invasive is better? But then complete solution is maybe better?


Lark had a growth on her foot that we’ve been keeping an eye on since she came to us. It started out as .5cm, then grew to 1cm, and then grew again. It didn’t bother her, but if we didn’t take it off soon, they wouldn’t be able to because they wouldn’t be able to close the skin. Fun fact, it was cheaper to do this at the fancy dermatology vet than it was to do it at our regular vet because they have a laser. Regular vet would have needed to do general anesthesia, laser doesn’t even require sedation. It was seriously half the price.

Lark is clearly an anxious dog. They thought they *might* need to sedate her, but as soon as I left she froze in place and it wasn’t needed. I told the vet tech that maybe she thought if she stayed still enough they wouldn’t notice she was there? We chuckled at that one. The procedure only took 45 minutes, they sutured and bandaged her up and we were out of there. They sent me home with a donut collar, but since she’s a rat terrier with long legs it does no good. I currently have a sock on her foot, but we will need to find her an e-collar this weekend. Wish me luck. An anxious dog in an e-collar? I’m sure nothing will go wrong there.

As the evening went on I noticed her toes were swollen, so I think they bandaged her a little too tight. I’ve been clipping a little bit here and there to loosen it up, but I have a bad feeling I’ll be taking it all off and winging it sometime today. Lucy had a growth removed from her paw too, and that thing was hell to heal. There must be something about paws!

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Maybe not?

Last weekend my dad asked how our back to school shopping is going. He knows me well and at this point in the summer we’ve usually purchased all of our back to school supplies, plus new backpacks and lunch boxes. Not this year though!

School supplies. This year our school offered a program where you could purchase them through the school. It was $27 so I said HELL YES. I’m guessing the girls will want maybe a special folder or two? But otherwise that is taken care of and we’ll pick them up on Meet Your Teacher night.

Backpacks and lunch boxes. Somehow, their backpacks are holding up really well this summer. Usually they are trashed by this point, but this year they still look really good, as do their lunch boxes. I’m not sure why, if they’re taking better care of them, but I’ll take it. I asked if they were willing to use them another school year and they both agreed. I think Caden may angle for a new backpack come September, but if she wants one it will need to come out of her allowance money.

Shoes. Again, their shoes are looking pretty good. They do go through a growth spurt in August generally, so we shall see. I think Caden may be able to at least get into September with her current shoes. Delaney mentioned her toes are at the end so probably not her? At least we aren’t in the dire situation we have been the last few summers where I’m hoping we can get to September though.

Clothes. Caden wore size 7 jeans the last two years. Will she wear them again this year? That is the question! I’m guessing no. The next size is up is size 10 and I can’t imagine Delaney wearing that size, so we might be good on jeans for the year since we have plenty size 8. Last year I bought a bunch of Large t-shirts for Delaney so we might even be good on that front as well. My hope is to not buy any clothes until the Christmas sales come out. It would be huge if we can make it that long. I will say, it’s weird to not be waiting for the Gap friends and family sale, or looking for the 40% off at Old Navy to stock up. The girls do better with fewer clothes, so I’m trying really hard to just hold tight.

Glasses. When the girls got their vision checked in April the dr told me to bring Caden back in just before school starts. She had a feeling her eyes were changing so much she would need a new prescription for the school year. Since I have plenty of FSA money, we’ll definitely do this. It’s probably too much to hope that they could just put new lenses in her current frames right?

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Exhausted

The girls and I are exhausted, and honestly, we kind of have been all summer. It started back in May. That last week was jam packed with softball, getting the renters out, painting and getting the house ready, then heading to NYC. We came back to softball and YMCA and while we love both, combine those with late bedtimes for everyone and we’re tired.

I keep the girls home with me on Thursdays so they can have a day to sleep in and rest. I always think we’ll hit the pool in the afternoon or a playground, but they are mostly so tired that it’s books and movies. At least a few times a week Delaney asks if she can just stay home and sleep. While I feel her, it’s not really an option. Mama can’t work from home every day! I occasionally wonder if I should get a nanny next summer? But no. Too expensive, we all love the YMCA and the friends they’ve made there, and also no.

Any other moms out there have trouble going to bed a decent hour? I used to go to bed around 10:30, maybe 10:45. That time has slowly slipped until now it’s often 11:30 when I turn my light off. What am I doing to myself? I know I should go to bed earlier. I’m exhausted, I’ll even put my book down, but then I just can’t stop doing things on my phone until boom! It’s close to midnight. I’ve been trying to set an alarm so that I have a audible reminder to go to bed, but it’s only been a few nights.

The other side of this is that now that we’re all overtired, it’s hard to get a good nights sleep. We go to bed early but toss and turn trying to fall asleep. Then, kids are waking up in the middle of the night, dogs are waking up in the middle of the night, which means I’m waking up in the middle of the night. It’s complete chaos at 4am.

Wish us luck. We are on a mission to get back on a better sleep schedule. I feel like if they can be in bed by 8:30pm, that gives me downtime to relax and get to bed earlier, and hopefully gets them asleep earlier. I’m hoping we can get back into a better sleep groove quickly!

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Sold

A few months ago the housing market in my area started getting a little nuts. Houses were selling for way more than they normally would and my interest was piqued.

Every month there was some sort of money stress. While my renters were great, they paid their rent through a website and since it was a transfer, it didn’t actually get to me until the 5-8th, depending. I always tried to have some cushion, since both mortgages and piano lessons and a multitude of other things happen at the beginning of the month, but that didn’t always work.

When I bought the new house without selling the old, I used money from my investment accounts to pull together the down payment. When you’re a single mom, a financial cushion is non-negotiable and now my cushion was very slim. I was rebuilding my accounts, but that was going much slower than I had hoped (please see vet bills, kids activities).

I did a bunch of research and honestly, keeping the rental is the smart financial decision. It’s cash flow positive and over time I would make far more money keeping it than I would selling it. But, as we all know, financial decisions aren’t based on the numbers alone. I was definitely feeling the weight of this money anxiety and felt like selling the house was the right move. After talking to my realtor, we agreed to put it on the market June 2 after the renters moved out.

Overall we had about 60 people look at the house. It was brutal because once again, every other house was selling within hours of hitting the market and yet here was mine with no offers and people citing deal breaker after deal breaker in the feedback. My house is quirky. It has a tuck under garage and the basement has a weird layout, the bedrooms are small and the lot huge. It’s not necessarily a house you walk through and think that you need to make an offer on it immediately. Mentally, I began thinking through what I would need to do to rent it out again, and what I would do differently (raise the rent, hire a lawn service).

After three weeks on the market I got an offer, but it was very low. I stuck to my guns and countered, but ultimately walked away from it. There was a huge part of me that wondered if I should just take the offer, but I also knew that I would be bitter about it and I didn’t want to walk away from this house unhappy. My parents came up and we spent a day sprucing things up, doing things I didn’t do initially because I hoped it would sell quickly. Right after that, I got another offer and this one was solid and the price I was looking for. I happily accepted.

I really waffled over selling this house. I love the idea of a rental property as an investment vehicle. Finding renters was easy, and I had already done a bunch of updates to the house, so the risk of unexpected expenses was low. But the truth is that while the house itself is great as a rental, the yard isn’t. It’s huge and requires a ton of upkeep, much of which I was still doing. Despite promising me they would, the renters didn’t rake the leaves last fall. Well, they raked them into a pile and then left them there while the grass underneath died. I was over there all the time trying to keep the weeds under control which honestly, is practically a full time job. Any waffling about selling vs continuing to rent went out the window in June as I realized all of this which was good, because it meant I have zero regrets about selling and I’m not second guessing that decision at all.

I was at the house a few times last week and was able to get the last few things out of the shed that I wanted, and say goodbye to each room. I may have done some ugly crying, but that’s what happens when you live somewhere for 14 years, have amazing neighbors, bring home two daughters, lose a dog and a cat, and gain three more dogs. A lot happened there, so it felt good to properly say goodbye. I wish I could have stolen the strawberry plants, but we’ll just have to plant some next spring at the new house.

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Weekend!

Our summer has been full of activities and while we’ve loved softball, it’s been so nice to have our weeknights to ourselves again. We stayed home this weekend without any real plans, which was also so nice. We had some plans, but were also able to be spontaneous and work in a sleepover and a playdate.

Friday afternoon I picked the girls up early from YMCA and we went and got our toes painted. I had intended to grab a quick pedicure by myself, but at the last minute I decided to include the girls. I thought it would be fun and it was, but it was also way more expensive than I had planned for AND, Caden ruined her big toe as soon as we left the salon. That happens every single time! After we tried out a new (gluten free friendly) Chinese place. I was super excited to have lemon chicken except, the chicken wasn’t breaded (wrongly assumed it would be) and the sauce was way too sweet. After dinner we quickly packed an overnight bag for the girls and they headed to a friends to go see an outdoor movie and have a sleepover!

The next morning I picked the three girls up and we headed downtown for donuts and a library run. Caden asked to explore a new library since she’s pretty much shopped our current one out of graphic novels. I figured the downtown library would have the biggest selection and I was right! The girls had so many to choose from! We’ll definitely head back there again. There was a big of shenanigans since I had planned to walk from the library to the donut place, but not with a bag of heavy books so we headed back to the truck and then drove to the donut place, but had to find parking which was a huge pain since downtown was busy. The bakery had a bunch of gluten free options though, so that completely made up for it. (I got three cake donuts and a scone. I always over buy gluten free stuff to a) have it for later and b) buy enough so they keep making it.)


It was a hot day so we headed to the pool. It was such a hot day you needed to either be in the water or the shade which we tried to do, but wasn’t always possible. We were at the pool from 1-4 and that was about an hour too long. We took breaks, but the heat just sucked all of the energy out of us. Everyone was droopy and we all collapsed on the couch after.

Sunday was supposed to be much cooler, so I figured it would be the perfect day to use our free zoo tickets from work. Except, it wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be and every single animal was hiding/sleeping in the shade. The bears were clustered in one corner with their paws covering their faces. So we zipped through things, grabbed some (awful) lunch, then hit the bird show. We used to be members of the zoo, and even still we go once a year or so, but we have never been to the bird show! It was THE BEST! So much fun we all kept wondering why we had never been before! We peeked in on the 11:00 show just in time to see a hawk fly over the crowd, so when we went back for the 1:00 show, Caden picked seats right in his flight path. He flew over us three or four times, and a few other birds flew super close to us. We stayed after to watch their training session with a new parrot, who pooped right next to us much to Caden’s delight.

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Very Specific

Lately Caden has been making very specific requests. No idea why.

When we were at the cabin for the week, she requested ‘breakfast ham’ when we were getting groceries. My mom was confused. Canadian bacon? No. Really, it’s just sliced ham that we fry up and eat, usually for breakfast, but we haven’t had it in a long time because I haven’t made ham in a long time. Luckily, they sell tiny sliced hams and she got her wish.

When we got home she had two more specific requests. She wanted to go see Despicable Me 3, at night, during the week. My rule is that I won’t pay evening prices for movies since it just gets too expensive. But, since she asked I did a little digging. The theater we like has $5 Tuesdays, and since we’re members of their club, we got free popcorn too! Next week – Spider man!

She also wanted to go to the Club for breakfast, during the week. I asked if maybe we could go on Saturday instead? No, during the week. We headed over Thursday morning since it was a work from home day, but it turns out I should have done my research. They don’t technically open until 10:00 and we were there at 9:00, and they only do eggs, no pancakes. We made do by heading to another local breakfast place, but the service was awful and I felt crappy all day.

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Throwback Thursday 

We’re throwing it back! Back to Horse Camp Week. I have videos and pictures from that day and with the holiday right after, there was just never time to share them.

Disclaimer: I saw a meme on Facebook that said “No one wants to see your kid’s dance recital Jan!” And I totally get that. Feel free to just scroll on by this one, it’s mostly for archival purposes since the grandparents and others have already seen the videos. But, I like to have things on the blog and on vimeo so there you go.

I was very excited to see the end of week show since both girls had been cantering quite a bit all week. There were 14 kids in camp which is a lot! Some of the horse were ridden twice, which was cute after as the girls divided up duties getting the tack off and brushing them down. My two were the last two to go. There is a small space where you can get good video and pictures and the parents were good about letting you up front when it was your kids turn. With that many kids I was a little worried about being able to see, but it worked out well.

Caden first! They wore their new outfits, but she also wore her horse shirt over her other shirt. The night before she sat at the kitchen table and wrote out her route. They wouldn’t let me look at it, but I did catch that it said Trot 1, Canter 1. She trotted through all of her jumps, and took a different path than Delaney did. She did awesome with Ziggy, I love to watch them ride together. She had an awesome week, and was super happy to ride her man Ziggy after not riding him for a month.

Delaney next! She’s riding Lacy, who I love. Delaney finally taught me that Lacy has two white socks. There are a bunch of brown horses, and I can never tell them apart even though every other mom seems to be able to, so it’s nice to be able to pick her out at least. Delaney also went with Trot 1, Canter 1, but then takes her own path through the jumps. She even canters the last two jumps which is a pretty big deal. For our Wednesday morning lessons, the girls are the youngest, least experienced riders in their lesson. I was worried that because Delaney wasn’t confident cantering, she would hold the group back. I was so happy to see her canter with confidence! She really needed that to keep improving.

After the show we headed to the event room for ice cream and train rides. They have a little train that takes you around the farm and we all love it.

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