The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

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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Flowers! A lot less of them.

Free time has been at an all time low the last few weeks with all of our activities. With the rain, I really didn’t know when I was going to get some flowers planted. Last year I mostly replicated what I did at the old house – lots of pots of flowers on the patio. But it didn’t work. The pots looked out of place. So this year I scaled way back. A few pots out front and a few pots out back, and then focusing more on planting more perennials and more color in the back of the yard.

Delaney and I picked the flowers out on Sunday evening. It was cold! And the selection wasn’t huge so we chose quickly and figured we’d work with what we bought. I spent $50? Which is easily the least amount I’ve ever spent on flowers.

Monday night was our only free night, so we planted everything after dinner. Delaney and I strategized pot selection and placement, I filled the pots with dirt, Caden sprinkled fertilizer and Delaney planted. We are a well oiled machine! I forgot how much fun it is planting flowers with the girls. Even better that it was a low key event this year.

Delaney planted a cabbage plant that she brought home from school a month ago, and she has been steadily watering it every night. Watering is my least favorite activity, so it works well that she just waters everything now. I don’t even have to ask her which is even better.

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The Floor!

Is done! And the room is finished except I didn’t hang any pictures, just in case we rearrange.

Thursday. My dad came up around noon. The night before the girls and I had moved as much out of the room as we could. My dad and I moved the big stuff to one side, tore that carpet out, then moved it to the other side, and tore the rest out. Then we tackled my bedroom the same way. I was also trying to work, so in between I would run upstairs and do some testing, reply to emails, then run back when he needed me. It was chaotic.

About 3:00 we went to Menards to pick up the flooring and the paint. I knew I wanted to repaint, but I didn’t think we would have time. I’m so glad my dad pushed to paint Thursday. It’s so much easier painting when you don’t have to worry about getting anything on the floor! I know some people like to go with lighter colors in basements to lighten them up, but I’m a huge fan of darker colors. I think it warms things up and makes it cozier. I painted the basement Mega Greige by Sherwin Williams and I love it! The paint color made a HUGE difference in the way the basement feels. I knew I wanted a darker greige (I wanted something a little warmer than what I have upstairs) and had done some research on pinterest, but had never actually seen the color in person until we got it on the walls. Dodged a bullet there! We finished up about 7:00. Long day.

I give the girls a mental health day each school year where they can pick a day and stay home. Delaney decided to cash hers in on Friday. I tried to talk her out of it because why not pick a day when you can watch tv all day? But she wanted to help her Grampy. Best decision ever! She was a workhorse! She totally understood how things needed to go together and was the perfect coworker for my dad.

Delaney and my dad started putting the flooring down while I painted trim outside. Delaney came up a few times saying it wasn’t going well and I started to get nervous. Finally I went downstairs to see how bad things were.

The flooring I bought was cheap, and we weren’t sure how much that was playing into things and how much an old house with walls that aren’t straight was. I did some googling and found that people had issues installing Tarkett floors, so we were just about to take it back and get a different floor when I did some more googling so we could watch installation videos. My dad tried it one more time with a different approach and things worked better. This is the only laminate floor I’ve installed, but my dad said it was awful and much more difficult than other floors. So don’t go with Tarkett. My parents would highly recommend Pergo floors. They are very snap and go. All of that said, going with laminate flooring is by far cheaper than replacing the carpet over and over. With dogs and kids, it’s also so much easier to clean. When we pulled up the carpet, there was a ton of dust and crap underneath that they had never picked up. It can’t be good to be breathing all of either!

My mom came up Friday late morning and cleaned my house. That was fabulous. It was due for a deep cleaning and my mom was up for the task. Thanks Mom!

Delaney worked hard until about 2:00 when I took over. To install the floor you lock it in, then use a hammer and block to get things tight. I looked at my dad and said “How on earth did Delaney do this?” It was a lot of work! She was even installing pieces by herself on Saturday! Caden tried helping when she got home from school, but this type of thing is not her jam, and she retreated to her hammock swing to read. We worked until about 5:30, finishing up the living room.

Saturday Delaney and my dad laid the floor in my bedroom. It’s a much smaller room and they were almost finished by the time I had to run the girls to ballet. When we got back, it was done! The rest of the day was spent laying down the trim and the finishing pieces. That stuff took forever. Lots of cutting, cleaning, filling nail holes, and more cleaning. We worked until 5:30 and then headed out for dinner.

When we moved in we tried to be thoughtful, but the layout didn’t work. We rearranged things so that as you come down the stairs and turn the corner, all of the girls’ stuff is there. They don’t love coming down to the basement, so I wanted their toys/art/craft things close to the stairs. They’ve spent a little time organizing, and are excited about their new spot.

We centered the tv on the wall, and then moved the couch over so it was centered on the tv. One of the things I hated before was that nothing lined up! The couch wasn’t centered on the tv, and it just felt weird. So even though the couch hangs off the wall a bit, it works much better.

When you came down the stairs and rounded the corner, the first thing you used to see were the dog crates. It made the basement look so junky. Now they are tucked into the back corner, all lined up. The dogs aren’t quite used to it yet, but they’ll figure it out soon enough.

With the dogs, the basement smelled. We didn’t spend much time down there, and I was embarrassed to even have people over to show them my house because of it. We love our upstairs living room and that will still likely be the place we spend the most time, but now at least I’m not embarrassed of my house. It’s like a weight has been lifted! I’m hoping to do more entertaining this summer and show it off!

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And now there’s two

Here’s one for the you can’t make this shit up column. Early Wednesday morning Caden climbed into bed with me for the last hour of sleep. When Midas woke up he crawled across her face to get to me. In doing so, he scratched her eye lid (not her eye ball). Her eye hurt so throughout the day at school she rubbed it, with her germy hands. And gave herself pink eye. Not even joking. She woke up Thursday morning with one eye matted shut and the other gunky. Luckily at this age it’s easier to deal with and not as contagious as when they’re younger, so she won’t even miss school today.

While we were at Target picking up her prescription, we also picked up her glasses and got them fitted. We picked up Delaney’s pair too, which means I have two in glasses! Delaney has been wearing them around the house and I cannot get used to seeing her in glasses. It’s so weird. Target Optical has a much smaller selection of frames than our other place, but they’re covered by our eye insurance so Target it is! Both girls got Ray Ban frames. Caden’s are a deep purple, Delaney’s are red/grey. They both suit them perfectly.

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Birthday ride

We tried to do their birthday ride so my dad could ride with us, but the scheduling didn’t work out. I really wanted it to just be the three of us in the riding ring, so we had our lesson on Sunday afternoon. I had no idea how busy the barn is on Sundays! There were lessons before and after us! Lots of kids there riding.

Caden has been riding Ziggy consistently since late December. I have mixed feelings about this because they are such a good team together, and she rides very confidently with him. On the other hand, I don’t love how nervous she gets with any other horse. That said, another barn mom told me some years are confidence building years and some years are growth years. That put things in perspective. She’s in a confidence building year and Ziggy is integral to that. I love watching the two of them together. They are such a great team!

How awesome is this picture? So much love right here! Trueman, you are such a handsome boy. Trueman has a little sass to him, and tends to canter out of jumps. Delaney gets nervous when he does this, but always handles it well so I’m not sure why she gets nervous at all.

The girls wanted to do some bigger jumps which we did. Ahhh! They were so fun. And addicting! We all really had to learn how to handle them, so it was great that Hanna could give us quick feedback and then we could circle around and do the jump again. Riding is a lot like any other sport. There are so many things to think of – heels down, hands down, short reins, grab the mane. We all loved it!

Me and Lacy. This was my second time riding her and it was nice knowing what to expect and how I needed to direct her. I also found my rhythm a lot faster this time around. The first lesson it took me forever to remember how to post in a trot, this time I found my groove quickly.

Poor girl got spooked by something Ziggy did (I think his leg hit the wall?) and threw me off. We were trotting around the ring when all of the sudden she stutter stepped and twisted. I thought I was going to be able to stay on, but when I realized I wouldn’t be able to I got my boots out of the stirrups, arms up, and tried to fall backwards. Luckily, there’s about 8 inches of soft material in the barn so it was a fairly soft landing. Little bit of an adrenaline rush though! We walked a lap, then watched the girls do the cavaletti jump a few times. As we were standing there Lacy rubbed her head on my leg to apologize. It was the sweetest thing, she felt bad! I told her I could handle it and we got back out there. Oddly enough, she was awesome after this and we finished the lesson strong.

Better me getting thrown than my kids, but I know their time will come as well. If you haven’t been thrown, you haven’t been riding long enough right? If you know someone who jumps, you probably know someone who has been seriously hurt jumping. They wear helmets, their trainer makes sure they’re as safe as they can be, and yet it’s highly likely they’ll get thrown off a horse at some point. Injuries happen in every sport, we just try to be as safe as we can be in any given situation.

Back to the good, it was an awesome afternoon. The weather was gorgeous, the barn doors were open, and we had an awesome time riding together. I wish I could ride with them all the time, but it just isn’t feasible. Yet another reason to get our own barn and our own horses! (major wink emoji here, lol, oh god I don’t know we’d handle all of that although I so badly want to do it)

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More fever + Ballet

lane-sick

This was Delaney on Friday. Sick again. She spiked a fever Thursday morning that continued until Friday night. I worried it would be the same five day fever as last time, but she took a long shower Friday evening and that seemed to help her turn the corner. She had no appetite and no energy though, so she’s slowly working her way back. Annie has loved all the illness in our house. So many people to snuggle with on the couch!

Saturday morning was parent observation day for their ballet class. Because Delaney’s fever was 103 Friday night, I decided not to have her do ballet since it might push her over the edge again. So, it’s just Caden! Their ballet school is around the corner from Trader Joe’s, so I usually grab groceries during class and don’t really watch them. It was fun (and nostalgic!) to watch them do their barre routines. The repetition, moves building on each other, I remember it fondly!

ballet-1

Excited for class to start! She was right in front of me for their barre work, so I didn’t even have to be the obnoxious mom who was crawling all over the studio to get her shots!

ballet-2

I was never good at getting my elbows rounded either.

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Tendu.

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This is their pirouette prep. I’d imagine in the next level up they would actually do the turn? Their teacher is very good, advancing their repertoire of moves while still working the foundational moves. I’ve really liked her and feel like the girls get something out of every class.

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Jete! She put two plates on the floor and the girls had to jump over them. All of the girls had so much fun with this one! I grabbed my 18-55mm lens for class, since I didn’t know how close the room would be and wanted to be able to get the shots. It worked fine, but definitely didn’t handle action very well. I took enough to get one decent jump though!

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