The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

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

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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!

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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!

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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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I got my snow shots!

There’s nothing like a freezing cold day on a frozen lake with beautiful blue skies to get my photography mojo back.

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Horseback Riding

I’ve wanted to do a dude ranch vacation for years, but it’s never been the right time. Last year I started researching dude ranches in Arizona and there are so many! That may be a future vacation, but in the meantime, we decided to go for a two hour horseback ride to explore the Arizona landscape on four legs instead of two.

My dad found a ranch near Saguaro Lake and was able to go visit to see the horses and make sure things looked good. They had at least 50 horses, and were on federal land, although anyone can ride horse there. The scenery was amazing! The mountains on one side, Saguaro Lake on the other, and giant saguaro cacti everywhere.

I thought the girls might be bored just walking for two hours, and they were pretty quiet, but when we got off they were all smiles.

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Home and Butterflies

We’re home! We flew back Friday night. Our flight wasn’t until 6:20pm which gave me plenty of time to pack, as well as go for one last walk and swim. Getting home Friday also gave us the weekend to unpack and Christmasfy our house. The tree is up, the house is decorated, and we have two bags of decorations that just don’t work in this house for Goodwill. We also made it to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! LOVED IT. What an amazing movie. J.K. Rowling is an astounding storyteller. Delaney’s face was lit up through the whole movie. I was a little worried about Caden, but it was mostly loud. I kept telling her it was like the Avengers, and that seemed to help.

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Monday was supposed to be rainy, so we headed to the Butterfly Garden and aquarium. Both are relatively new, and were only 25 minutes away. The butterfly garden was very similar to the one at Como Zoo from this summer, but much much bigger and with a lot more butterflies. As soon as we walked in they started landing on Caden, me, and my mom.

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It was crazy! One of the big blue butterflies landed briefly in my hair. I tried to remain calm but it was a very bat in your hair kind of feeling. Luckily, he moved on quickly.

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We wandered all around the garden, but the butterflies wouldn’t land on Delaney. We finally realized it was likely her black t-shirt. Who knew? She was heartbroken, and having been through this before, I did not want to leave without her getting to experience this. We wandered away from the others, stood by the spots they were feeding, nothing. A few circled her, but she got nervous and flinched and they flew off. I went to find Caden and of course, that is when one landed on her! Luckily my parents were there and saw, as did she. That and a little food, and she was good to go for the day. (I was ready to lie at this point, she was so close to tears.)

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They loved my mom. She probably had 10 butterflies land on her.

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Unfortunately, these are the only photos I got at the aquarium. It was too dark! Even with my ISO bumped all the way up. The premise was that you followed a drop of water through the rivers (upstairs was all of the fish and animals you would find in rivers), and the main floor was the fish and animals from the ocean. Lots of great exhibits!

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Grand Canyon – Day 2

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Grand Canyon is about 4 hours away from where my parents live in Arizona. At the end of the first night we were debating whether or not you could drive up, see the canyon, then drive back all in the same day. You could do it, but it was really nice being able to see everything again in the different lighting. We all agreed that just one day wouldn’t be enough time there.

On Saturday we made dinner reservations at El Tovar, which is the nice hotel that has an excelelnt restaurant. 8:00pm was the earliest time they had, but after hiking for two hours, we knew no one would make it that late. We cancelled and went there for breakfast instead. It worked our perfectly. We got there early and were able to get a table by the windows with a view of the canyon. The food was amazing! Everyone loved their food. I would definitely recommend it! Also, all of the restaurants were super accommodating for the gluten free or vegan people. They had gluten free bread, muffins, bagels, and they were knowledgeable. It was really nice. One guy went completely out of his way to make sure I knew what my options were.

I really wanted to see a sunset and a sunrise. Unfortunately, the way the village is situated, it’s hard to see either. You have to hike out a ways one way or the other to have a clear view. We decided to just get up and see what we could see. While we couldn’t see the actual sunrise, the colors were spectacular.

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This looking glass was so cool. If you put it in the groove and lifted it up, it would zero in on a landmark. Each groove listed the landmark that you could see. We spent a solid 15 minutes here on Saturday looking through it, then another 15 minutes on Sunday. I loved the simplicity of it!

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After breakfast we hiked down the canyon a bit on the Bright Angel Trail. My dad tried, but he didn’t make it far. My mom went on a little further with us, then stopped and waited. The girls and I went a bit farther, and that was when Delaney started talking about wanting to go all the way down. You could see people farther down the trail, and she was really intrigued by the idea of spending the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Someday!

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I bought Delaney a $10 pair of binoculars on Saturday. On Sunday my mom bought another pair because no one wanted to listen to them fight over them.

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It was supposed to be really cold Sunday morning, but the cloud cover from Saturday kept it fairly warm. It was brisk when we first started hiking, but we all quickly shed our layers. I love this picture but why on earth didn’t I take my sweatshirt off!

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I took a few different shots of my parents for their Christmas card. I’m lobbying hard for this one.

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Everyone! My dad took a ton of pictures for other people, so we finally asked someone to get ours. Love this.

We drove through Sedona on the way home. The drive was beautiful, and we stopped in town to get a snack and wander around a bit. It started raining and with Caden’s cast, we had to get back to the car, otherwise I think we would have stayed for longer. There were a lot of cute restaurants and we wished we had timed it so that we were driving through closer to dinner time. We had hoped to get out and hike and take pictures of the red rocks, but the rain was really coming down with no signs of stopping, so we headed home.

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Morning Pictures!

When my camera broke, taking the morning picture was the thing I missed most and what really drove me to replace it quickly. I do love this little capture of their personalities every morning.

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Last Friday. The first pic with the new camera! The kids are supposed to wear black and orange every Friday. We don’t have much black and orange (why couldn’t their school colors be blue and white like I grew up with?) so we’ll see how well we do with this. (Delaney forgot the first week so clearly, not a good start.)

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Tuesday. It was rainy, so a quick picture under cover before we waited for the bus. At least they’re excited to take these every morning!

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Wednesday. Don’t let Delaney fool you, she was going for the serious pose. Also? She actually asks me to do specific things with her hair now. Love.

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Thursday. Work from home Thursday means Annie comes to the bus stop! One of the other parents said “So that’s the dog I was chasing the other night?” Yep, she’s our fence jumper. Also, look at her look straight at the camera! Pup knows what to do when the camera comes out.

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Last Fishing of the Season

We headed up to the cabin for Labor Day weekend. I hadn’t been since our week in July! The girls had been in early August, but otherwise various things kept us home. Even the dogs were excited to be there again! Speaking of the dogs, this was our best trip yet. All of the dogs know the drill, they know where to go potty, and more importantly, they know how much fun the lake is. Annie spent Friday evening running from my mom to my dad and kissing both of them.

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We fished Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and again Sunday morning. We had good luck both mornings, not much luck Saturday evening. Normally the fish really bite at sunset, but not this time! We tried some spots that were around the corner from our old spots, just to branch out a bit.

Also when fishing, it’s best to wear your ears.

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Fishing prep. The nice thing about my parent’s cabin is that there is a bait shop right there.

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Fishing is messy. My dad and I bait hooks and take fish off of hooks, so my hands are generally bloody and gross. The last few times I haven’t brought my big camera out, but I was determined to get some good shots this time! Here is Delaney’s first fish! Not huge, but a keeper. Also, we bought some headbands at one of the stands in Duluth and the girls have been wearing them quite a bit. They do an awesome job of keeping their hair out of their face.

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And Caden’s first fish! I can’t remember if we kept him, although my dad agrees to keep most since the girls get attached to any fish they catch.

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My parents have a fishing boat and a pontoon. While the fishing boat is good in certain situations, we mostly fish from the pontoon. It gives everyone room to move around and change up their fishing spots, and is just generally easier with kids and dogs. Also, how awesome are Caden’s Under Armour leggings?

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My dad took this. On my old camera this would have been guaranteed to be out of focus because it had a single focus point that would have been focused on the weeds. But with the new camera I can choose a focus region. It makes it so much easier for anyone to pick up my camera and get a good picture!

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