The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Rich color

Spring of 2016 we had the new fence put in. They recommended we wait to stain it. We probably could have stained it last summer but didn’t, so it was high on the list of projects for this summer. Unfortunately, every weekend we were home and free it was either rainy or cold, so we couldn’t do it. Finally, the stars aligned and we were able to get some staining done on Sunday.

I wanted to try to match the stain color to my house color, so I went for a darker, reddish brown. I had rebate checks for Menards, so that was where I headed. There are two kinds of Pittsburgh outdoor stain, and even though I’d tried to research it, I couldn’t figure out what the difference was between the two types so I asked at the paint desk. Here’s how the conversation went.

“What’s the difference between these two stains? The Ultra and the Paramount?”

“Well, they’re … different.”

“Different how?”

“They’re just different. The Paramount is new and they say it’s better.”

Um, seriously? Isn’t it your job to know this? Since my preferred color was in the Paramount line I went with that (Canyon Sunset for the win). A different guy mixed the stain and tried to get an answer for me. He said that the Paramount line is supposed to more of a satin finish, but I’m not really sure about that either.

We started Sunday morning about 9:30am. I had bought one of those hand pump weed sprayers to use, we also had a roller and the block brushes. It took us a bit of trial and error to figure out what worked best, and how to control the splatter and drips. The roller was great to get the stain on when we had big surface areas to cover, but the sprayer got the stain into the tighter areas. I rolled, and the girls came behind me and worked the stain in with the brushes. We would spray stain where I couldn’t get with the roller, or in the nooks and crannies behind boards.

The six foot privacy fence sections took forever, but once we got beyond those the shorter sections went relatively quickly. Unfortunately, that was right about when the sun came out and it got hot fast. The girls very quickly wished me luck and headed into the air conditioned house. Luckily, after one more section I was in the shade and was able to finish without passing out by 1:00pm. Not too bad? I had thought that we could stain some, take a break, stain some more, take another break, but I forgot how messy staining is. I bought latex gloves for us to wear which was key, but once you’re dirty, you’re only going to clean up once so I just kept at it and had the girls bring me water.

The color is gorgeous. It’s a rich, dark brown and I cannot stop staring at it. I’m really hoping the rain stays away so we can do the other side of the yard next Sunday. Now that we’ve started, I want this project complete!

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Corgis and cupcakes 

 

Every year we go to Canterbury Park to bet on the ponies and get their faces painted.  This year, I found out about the Corgis & Cupcakes event, which seemed like a combination of all of our favorite things and thus, the perfect event for us.

I had to drop some stuff off at another foster’s house, so we had to take the long way there and got there a little late.  We were all starving, and it was PACKED.  There were long lines everywhere.  We were definitely overwhelmed.  We headed up to the third floor because I thought there was a restaurant there, and my plan was to sit and eat and hope for the best.  The restaurant was closed for a private event, but the snack bar had short lines so we headed there.  After ordering, I frantically looked around for an open table to sit at to slowly realize they were all reserved tables.  A very nice woman saw the look on my face and said we could sit with her.  She had the perfect spot to see the races, and we sat and chatted with her through two horse races, and the first two corgi races.  If she hadn’t been there, we’d have been so screwed.  We could see everything perfectly, and while I love being outside for the races, it was hot and the air conditioning was perfection.

The corgi races.  Oh my goodness.  They were hilarious!  Some dogs had clearly trained, and knew to run to their owners.  Others, not so much, and that was even funnier.  Lots of super cute names too.  Tedford Woofington, and Fluffy Butt were two I remember.

After lunch we decided to head back downstairs and the crowds had definitely thinned out.  We perused a few cupcake vendors and found one with cake pops that the girls wanted.  The girls got their faces painted, we bought an over priced lemonade and watched the horses parade through before the race.  I think that was the biggest bummer.  Normally we can watch the race, run down and see the horses for the next race, bet, and find good seats to watch again but with the huge crowds, it just wasn’t possible.  We watched the second set of corgi races outside and while we were much closer, we couldn’t see much.  But, the crowd was super into it outside so that was super fun.  One dog started running after everyone else had already crossed the finish line, so everyone cheered super loud for him.

And then we left because that was all the people and sun we could handle.  They are doing wiener dog races September 4.  Caden really, really wants to go back for that.  We shall see.  Maybe we’ll head to the lake a day early and come back for it.

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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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Cool Sunglasses


Caden has asked a few times this summer for sunglasses. My intention was to go on the Zenni Optical site and order from there, but then I realized I have a bunch of FSA dollars, might as well get nice sunglasses from Target. Since Target had done their eye exam, we just stopped in on a Sunday while they were open and the girls picked out some sunglasses. They can do those lenses on any frame, but they started out trying out the Ray-ban frames. OMG they looked so adorable! They each tried on these two and decided very quickly. I was dying! Even better, Target is running a back to school sale, so you get free lenses when you buy Ray-ban Jr frames. Their sunglasses were only $70 each! And they were ready three days later, just in time to take them up to the lake.


I wasn’t sure how much they would wear them, but my mom reported they wore them quite a bit all weekend. I love it, since I know how hard it is on your eyes when the sun is bright. They have new cases for these, and I’m crossing my fingers they continue to take good care of them!

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Cousin Time!

Last Thursday, the girls headed up to the cabin with two of their cousins for a little lake time with Grandma and Grandpa. They had a BLAST! They had special meals, orange soda floats, go karts, bumper boats, tons of swimming time, a trip to the library, and Netflix shows. They seriously had so much fun, both girls are already planning the next one. Huge thanks to my parents for making this so fun for the girls!

I went up on Saturday morning, and as soon as we got the dogs settled, we took the boat out. We tried to fish, but nothing was really biting so we moved to deeper water to swim. Once again, in went the dogs. To be fair, it was hot and I hoped this would cool them off. If you zoom in, you’ll notice Midas giving some great side eye. He was less than pleased. (He went back in the boat pretty quickly.)

Once I got in the water, I had the girls take Lark and Annie away from me, and then let them swim towards me. They can swim when they need to!

I swear the kids could jump off the pontoon for hours.  They were like energizer bunnies, they just kept going and going!  I tried to take pictures but I had the wrong lens on my camera.  Most were too close up, but I got this happy surprise!  I don’t think I have any splash pictures so this is perfect.

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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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