The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Go jump in a lake

It got really hot on Wednesday, so we took the pontoon out for an evening cruise after dinner and headed towards a spot on the lake that we knew was over 20 feet deep. A perfect swimming hole. I’d already showered so I was out for swimming, but my dad jumped in with the girls. At first they swam with life jackets, but they’re strong swimmers so I let them take them off and they did jumps off the side of the boat. They had so much fun we did it again the next night!

We also took a ton of slo mo videos which I will not bore you with again here, but were so crazy fun to do. The girls were so happy and had so much fun jumping and doing cannon balls and just giggling in the lake, this was absolutely the highlight of the week for me.

Three stooges.

Annie knows who gives out the best snacks on the boat.

Check out that smile!

I should probably darken this up a bit and make it into more of a silhouette, but what can I tell you how happy I was when I looked at the back of my camera and saw this? I just kept snapping as the girls ran off the pontoon and jumped in, and I caught the sunlight just right here. Love. this.

This was Caden’s version of the Statue of Liberty.

Delaney doing a cannon ball.

It was also our annual “Put the dogs in their lifejackets and make them swim in the water so they know what to do if they go overboard” drill. Midas was THRILLED.

Lark sat on top of Midas for the rest of the cruise.

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Paddle Boarding v2017

Also known as, my parents bought another paddle board so all three of us could be out at the same time!

First things first, we’re back home. The girls had their end of year softball tournament on Saturday, so we headed back Friday night. It is incredibly difficult to be on vacation for a week, then have to be at the ball fields at 8:00am. Most of our girls were half asleep. But! They woke up for the second game and we won. We lost the next game and were out, but it was an amazing season. Couldn’t have asked for better kids or better coaches to play with. I had a blast this year, but will readily admit I’m a little nervous for 10U. It’s kid pitch and the rules change, and it’s going to be a whole new game.

Back to the lake! Tuesday we headed out on the paddle boards and good thing we did. Wednesday was HOT and the next two days were windy, so it was our only day out. We tried to paddle across the lake, but there were a lot of boats and jet skis pulling tubs and skiers, so I made us head back (You can see exactly how Caden felt about that in the third picture). The lake is very clear right now (zebra mussels apparently) and it’s WAY freaky to look down and be able to see the bottom, or at least very tall weeds. Caden headed in, then Laney and I paddled down the shoreline of the lake. Again, a little freaky to look down at the bottom of the lake, but also way cool since it wasn’t as deep. Had a great little chat with Delaney as we paddled too.

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Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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Softball v2017

We had our last softball game last night until the tournament next weekend. This year has been super amazing. The coaches I’m with are knowledgeable and really make the game fun, and we have a great team of girls. Everyone listens, works hard, and has a lot of fun. For the most part we had one practice and one game each week. A few weeks we had two games and no practices, and I feel like it was the perfect amount of games. We aren’t burnt out, but we’ve had our fill of softball. We won’t be doing fall ball this year, since last year that was too much. We’re all very ready for a break, and to move into a slower summer with a little more downtime and pool time.

Caden in the blue batting helmet, Delaney in pink. One of the downsides of coaching is that I can’t take pictures during the game! I grabbed these during batting practice beforehand.

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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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