The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Morning barn time

First off, summer is absolutely killing us. We have to get up about 30 minutes earlier than normal, but we of course don’t get to bed any earlier. YMCA wears the girls out, and work has been busy for me too. I keep the girls home with me on Thursdays and it’s supposed to be a day they can sleep in and relax, but we have riding lessons Thursday mornings this summer so they have to get up even EARLIER. Both girls were in tears before bed last night, so I’m hoping a quiet weekend will right the ship.

Morning lessons are the best. The barn is quiet, we’re the first lesson of the day, and it’s so peaceful. Last summer our morning lesson had six girls in it, this year there are only three girls! The girls were able to do four different courses during their lesson! It was really nice for them to be able to work on a bunch of different things.

Caden rode Frodo for the first time. Delaney has ridden him quite a bit, but this was Caden’s first time. He’s an amazing horse, and it was interesting to watch them work out their teamwork throughout the lesson.

Delaney was on Velvet. We all LOVE this little horse but she is a handful. She loves to go faster and faster. I’ve seen her dump two kids (Caden being one of them) because if you aren’t ready for her to take off, it can be hard to stay on. I talked to Delaney before the lesson to make sure she controlled the pace and didn’t let Velvet get out of control. She did SO well! You’ll be able to see in the video, but Velvet loves to canter out of jumps but Delaney was able to keep her under control.

First, the light coming through the windows and doors totally messes up my videos! But, here’s Caden on Frodo. They canter in a circle (they’re supposed to start at a certain point, then drop to a trot to do the jump. She didn’t quite get into her corner, but she did awesome! (If you click on the little thing in the lower right corner it will make the video larger.)

Here’s Delaney on Velvet. Watch as they canter out of the jump, Delaney sits back heavy to slow Velvet down. Well done Lane!

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Mama’s Time

When I signed the girls up for this sleep away camp I thought “Mama is going to get some time to herself!” And then you realize it’s really only two nights away. But! I was determined to be intentional about how I spent that time. There have been other nights when the girls have had sleepovers and I usually end up just watching tv or cleaning. Those are both worthy pursuits, but I didn’t want to just have it be a normal night.

I dropped them off Wednesday afternoon, then came back home to work a few more hours. Wednesday was my evening to myself. I took the dogs for a walk, I worked on an assignment in my goal setting/mindset class about what my dream house looks like (I had a lot of ideas to get down!), I worked on some R+F stuff, and then I realized it was only 7:00! It’s amazing how much you can get done when you aren’t hustling two girls home and through dinner and everything else. And then I watched tv because I was out of things to do.

The house was really quiet though, which made me realize that I am so, so thankful I took that big leap over 10 years ago and got pregnant on my own. The one night to myself was good, but I missed the hustle and bustle that is our life. My kids talk a lot and ask a lot of questions and sometimes it drives me batty, but it was good to realize I don’t really want the flip side either. Attitude of gratitude. I’m trying!

Thursday I went to happy hour with two girlfriends at a local cider beer taproom. Since I can’t drink beer, I usually choose cider, but not all ciders are good. I love Sociable Ciderwerks, and was super excited to try out some of their other flavors. It was so good to have something to look forward to all day, to get out and try a new (hipster) spot, and to chat with my girlfriends. We talked about sending kids off (to wherever, a coworker’s kids are going to another country for a month to visit family) and how long is the perfect break. I’ll be honest, overnight sleepovers are great, two nights at sleep away camp is great, and I think a week would be great. I know there are so many kids who are gone longer than that, but I’m not sure I’d love that for us. Although if I were married that would probably be a different answer. Definitely a different answer.

Can you believe I dragged this whole thing out into an entire blog post? Eek. Does anyone else overthink what they’re going to do with their kid free time?

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Camp!

The girls went to their very first sleep away camp last week! We know a few kids who have gone to this camp for a week, but when we started talking about it this winter it became clear that a week would be too long. We decided on a three day, two night camp and one of their friends was going to go too. Even though they would have their sister there, it always seems easier to do new things with a friend.

Leading up to camp they were both excited, but as we drove closer and closer they both got a little nervous. I didn’t blame them! But, they settled in quickly and I knew they’d be fine. They had been to other YMCA day camps before, and the setting looked very similar, which I think helped.

I feel like I should interject here that I never went to sleep away camp. Our church didn’t have one, and I didn’t know anyone that went to one, so it’s not like it was a thing where I grew up. But, if had gone to one, I’d want it to look just like this one. Cute dining hall, dark log cabins, next to a lake, in the woods. It was exactly what you’d dream up for a camp!

I dropped them off Wednesday afternoon and picked them up Friday afternoon. I was towards the later end of the pick up window which definitely caused some anxiety, plus it was hot as blazes. They were pretty sedate when I picked them up. I thought they would be excited to see me, but they just seemed really tired.

On the drive home Caden talked nonstop about the food. Delaney said most of the things she ate made her stomach hurt. I’m going to go out on a limb and say she was probably pretty anxious, and that was the cause of the stomach aches, but who knows. They did give me a rundown of their time and it seemed like they had fun? Even if that wasn’t what they were necessarily saying. When I asked Delaney if she wanted to go back next year for a week she said no without hesitation. I was kind of bummed! I really had hoped they’d have fun at this camp, make friends, have some new adventures, and maybe next year want to go for a week. (To be honest, I’m conflicted about them being away for a week. On the one hand, a break is nice. On the other, I love my kids and love spending time with them, and don’t really want them gone for a week. With just me at home it gets a little boring.)

Long story longer, by Sunday when we were talking about camp with my aunt they both had a much more positive attitude about their time there. It became clear that Caden was more impacted by camp (more on that later this week), but I do think they’ll both go back next year, but for the shorter version not for a week. I always think doing new things like this are growth opportunities, and this one definitely was. Delaney always likes to help my dad, but I feel like she was extra helpful this weekend. Caden was also helpful in ways she usually isn’t. Camp seemed to kickstart some things for her which I love.

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At the barn

There was a week off from riding lessons between the school year lesson schedule and the summer lesson schedule. My wallet didn’t mind the break, but the rest of us did. We love being at the barn and being around the horses. It’s a bit crazy to me that this has only been a thing for us for the last two years! How did we ever do lessons just once a month?

I don’t have to help the girls get their horses ready anymore, but I still like to be there when they do that so I can love on their horse. All of these horses have such different personalities. We all have our favorites, but I give them all love. After lessons I give treats to all of the horses. I used to just give treats to the horses that the girls rode, but then I started giving them to all of my favorites and at this point, pretty much everyone gets treats.

Except, there is one horse that I avoided because I was told by one of the girls that she was a biter. During their lesson this week I was standing at the gate watching, and this horse (Landra) was waiting there for her turn. Landra immediately started bumping me with her nose until I scratched her. Poor girl wanted her chance at some love too! She got lots of treats after! I’m not sure if she used to bite or what, but she was total sweetheart on Monday.

So while I was at the gate, every horse that was waiting by us turned to me for pets. One of them full on burrowed his head into my shoulder. Ha! They all know I hand out the treats! I love that they love me. Like LOVE that they love me.

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First day of break

During the school year we have fairly strict rules around when you can turn in a token. Homework must be done, piano practiced, and backpack put away. Even then, there isn’t time in the evening to ask to play xbox as well. On the weekends we have enough going on that there isn’t multiple requests either.

But summer break? Whole different ballgame. With it being rainy last weekend it was nonstop request. Can I turn in a token? Can I code on Tynker? Can we play xbox? Nonstop. Here’s the thing. Minecraft and Tynker are both computer things that are also educational and creative, so while I don’t mind them doing them, when it’s one after another and all they’ve done all day is move from one screen to another? No. I’ve also noticed that when they do this, they don’t like to put that screen down and I really hate the tantrums that happen then. They also weren’t helping out when I asked them to so I knew things needed to change.

Yesterday morning was rough. I said no screens all day and while normally that doesn’t bother them, Delaney was very mad. Rather than do this tug of war battle where they ask for screen time and I get angry and take it all away, I did a simple Pinterest search and found us some rules! This is clearly not a new problem.

I involved Delaney in coming up with the rules in the hopes that that would lead to fewer arguments, but who knows. Starting next week they’ll be at the YMCA during the day, so this will only apply to weekends when we’re home and when they stay home with me on Thursdays. But! They get a little piano practice in and clean their room, so it’s a win all around. Once these things are completed, they can choose between xbox, ipad, and chrome book time. On the chrome book they can either journal/write stories, or code with our Tynker subscription. And they can earn an extra 30 minutes by scooping poop.

I wanted to be sure it wasn’t just wake up, eat breakfast, and grab a device, but also not so crazy that they are trying to get out of the chores. I’m sure we’ll have to tweak it a time or two, but at least we have something. We all do better when everyone knows the rules.

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Downtime

I love summer, but it can be to find balance. I’ve talked about it a lot, but we are a family that needs downtime. Luckily, this weekend was perfectly that!

Friday. I was able to get home a little early and meet their last bus of the fourth grade year! As we walked home we talked about possibilities for the evening. Hit Chipotle for dinner and see the Clydesdales? Or stay home. Everyone voted for staying home. We were all exhausted from the week and it was just so nice to take the dogs for a walk and hang at home together.

Saturday. I’ve been skipping sleeping in on the weekends in order to have some quiet morning time to get things done. It’s been amazing. Both girls slept in until 9:30 so I had over two hours of quiet. I got some work done and was able to make breakfast and sweep and mop the floors. It’s always so nice to knock those tasks off early in the weekend!

We had our company picnic at a nearby park in the afternoon. I was super excited because we had a bunch of games planned, and then it rained. We still went and everyone hung out under the picnic shelter, but it cut it a bit short for us. I had intended to grill a root beer can chicken for dinner, but I did not want to attempt grilling for over an hour in the rain. Instead we grabbed some food from the club and watched a movie.

Sunday. After all of that rest, I was ready to get some things done! The sun came and went throughout the day, but at least it wasn’t raining and I was able to get the lawn mowed and do some weeding in the backyard. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about how I spend my time on the weekends. It’s so easy for me to wake up slowly and mindlessly scroll on my phone all morning, and then the next thing I know it’s noon and I haven’t gotten anything done. While I love to sleep in, it has felt really good to get up spend my time doing things that are meaningful to me. We shall see how this morning routine evolves!

At the end of the day a neighbor posted that they had extra raspberry starter plants. The girls were super excited about this so we drove over to their house and grabbed four. I planted them at the back of our yard against the fence, in a hopefully sunny spot. It’s supposed to rain today, so I’m hopeful that will be good for them? I’ve never grown raspberries before but we’re excited to get some berries next year maybe!

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Last Day of School!

It’s the last day of fourth grade! This year flew by! The girls have not been in any sort of count down mode, so this last day has kind of snuck up on us.

We’ve had quite the packed week leading up to this though. The girls had a pitching clinic on Monday evening. They pitched for an hour and were dripping with sweat by the end. It was really good to get that much pitching time in though. Caden pitched in Tuesday’s game and she did awesome! She struck one girl out, and threw enough strikes that other girls got some hits off her. She came out of the inning smiling so I was happy! Delaney pitched in Thursdays game. Pretty much exact same report! Struck one girl out, a few girls hit her and came out smiling. I couldn’t be happier. We’ve got a few more pitching clinics and hopefully they can pitch in a few more games. Having two more girls that can pitch eases the load on the other girls too.

On Sunday my personal laptop started acting funny. It would be fine, then the screen would go staticky and that was the end of that. I can reboot and get it to run for a while, so I’ve been going in and pulling my files and pictures onto my external hard drive to transfer to the new computer I ordered. I thought I had the majority of my pictures on that drive but turns out nope! Corrupt. So I’m patiently dragging each folder over since that seems to be the only way it happens before the laptop craps out again. I will eventually try to figure out what’s wonky with the old one, but it was 7 years old and I can’t be laptopless, so I pulled the trigger relatively quickly. While the old laptop has been amazing, it will be so nice to have a lighter and more portable laptop!

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Lark, Confidence

In the last six months I’ve realized that Lark’s anxiety is getting worse, not better. She’s been with us for almost 3 years now and somehow, she is not much more comfortable in our house than when she came to us. That pains me. I’d hope we would help her build confidence, but that didn’t seem to be happening.

I started looking for a trainer to help us. One day as we were leaving riding lessons I realized that one of the women that we ride with is a dog trainer! Over the next few months I got to know her, and we chatted about dogs. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to pull the trigger because it took me a while to pinpoint what I wanted her to work on. In the mean time, she gave us advice a few times on our fosters, and finally I asked her to come evaluate our dogs.

When most people think about dog trainers, they think of teaching a dog the common commands like sit, stay, and down. While I’d love to eventually get there with Lark, those aren’t even on my radar at this point. Our priorities are helping Lark with her confidence, help Midas stop being an asshole, and help Annie stop barking.

Mary sent the training plan to me this week and I almost cried when I read it. We had worked with a trainer a year ago and she had zero ideas on how to help Lark. Mary had four sessions mapped out with things that would help all three dogs. It hurt a little to read her assessment of Lark as being very shut down, but it didn’t surprise me.

I’m so excited to start this journey. I’m hopeful that with some work, we can have a happy, healthy, well behaved pack. We’re also going to take a long break from fostering. Lark’s anxiety around certain things has gotten much worse in the last six months, and I have to wonder if the fosters haven’t worsened things in some way. While I love fostering, I have to put our dogs first. At least for a while. Hopefully we can get back to it eventually, but for now it feels right to focus all my love on my pack.

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Summer of Love

We had an amazing weekend! Friday was Field Day at school. My parents came up to volunteer again this year. They switched things up a bit, so not as many volunteers were needed so they were able to follow the girls around while I manned the game we were assigned to. It was absolutely gorgeous, the perfect day to hang outside all day. After, we headed home for a bit to rest, then went to the pool to cool off and grab dinner. Perfect ending to our day!

Saturday was my cousin Alyssa’s bridal shower! We are all in her wedding party, so we were excited to shower her with presents and love before her big day. The hostesses and mother of the bride killed it with the food and decorations! The mimosa bar was a huge hit. I was the designated champagne opener and they kept me busy!

There was also a picture of Alyssa with the bridesmaids, but the girls took it and they were way off to the side. But I mostly love this picture! Except Delaney was being a little weird.

Every summer we make at least one trek out to the horse track. It’s always a super fun day. We love to head out front and watch while they parade the horses and then the jockeys get on. After that, we head inside to place our bets and find a good seat to watch the race from. Yesterday was perfect because it was early in the season, it wasn’t a specialty day (like when the dogs race) so it wasn’t crowded. We could easily move around, the lines to bet weren’t long, and we were at the fence to watch the horses every time.

This year we invited my parents along! I knew they would love it, and bonus that they hadn’t been to the track in like 30 years.

With three adults, we could place a lot of bets! We picked the spunky horses that were prancing in front of us, which was a great strategy! We won a lot of bets, and if I lost one of mine, my dad won on one of his.

In one race, Delaney and I had picked two horses (3 & 5) and placed bets on them that they would place either 1st or 2nd. Turns out, they did just that! Horse 5 won and 3 got second. But there was an issue because 5 collided with another horse and was disqualified. So while I lost that money, it meant that with 3 winning the race, my dad won $31 on a $2 bet! Caden was BEYOND thrilled since it was her pick! Overall, with each race I’d win $4-$8 and then turn around and bet it. We lost a few at the end, but my all day fun only cost $10.

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I’m not someone who can live with a messy house. On the flip side, I don’t really love to clean, which presents a problem. In the winter we were home enough that we could keep up on the clutter and putting things away, and clean on the weekends. But once the nice weather and spring activities hit, the whole thing went to hell in a hand basket. Quickly. And once it gets to that point it’s overwhelming to get it back in order.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I know chaos breeds chaos and I know I work better when my house is in order. And right now, I really can’t be off my game, we just have too much going on. As people’s network marketing business teams grow, leaders will often talk about when to bring in help and the first thing they recommend is a housekeeper. Absolutely! I can’t wait until we’re at that point. Unfortunately I have a few things I want to make happen before we’re there.

Fortunately for my sanity, two things happened this week. First, the Tuesday softball game was rained out. We high tailed it home and started cleaning. The girls weren’t thrilled, but I was adamant that if we spent a solid hour cleaning, we could get SO much done and we did! Caden corralled her legos, and not just moved them an inch, but put all of her buildings into one corner since she doesn’t play with them as much in the summer. Delaney and I tackled the upstairs. We have hot spots that attract clutter so we cleared those off. She cleaned the bathroom and I did the kitchen. After I swept, the girls tag teamed mopping. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. And now? I’m keeping up with putting things away right away. That’s so key, but it can be so hard for me.

The second thing was that Zulily had Roomba vacuums for cheap! Well, not that cheap, but cheap enough for me to pull the trigger. I thought on it for an hour, read a bunch of reviews, and ultimately decided it was worth it. For me, if the floors are clean, everything feels cleaner. I’m excited for it to arrive!

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