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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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving! I have to say, our change of location to Arizona worked out very well this year. I could definitely see this being our yearly tradition. We got a gorgeous, though windy, day with lots of sunshine. My mom and Sue divided up the dishes so no one had to cook like crazy.

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We had appetizers on Sue & Mike’s deck, since their outdoor area was sheltered from the wind.

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After eating we rested, then hit the pool for some swimming. There was no one there! We thought there might be a few other families that would swim between meals, but we had the pool to ourselves. The girls even got to go in the hot tub (can’t when other people are around because it’s against the rules).

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And my mom caught a little nap while we swam. For two minutes until she realized Sue was sitting in the corner.

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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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Hiking the Falls

While Friday was beautiful weather, Saturday was forecast to be rainy. Friday afternoon we contemplated heading up to Gooseberry Falls, but decided we wanted to enjoy the day in Duluth. We knew it might mean hiking the falls in the rain, but we were willing to take the chance.

We started the morning at the Lester River falls. They are small waterfalls just on the edge of Duluth. They were a perfect start with a nice trail that ran along the river. We wandered back and forth a bit and tried to get a family picture. Focus fail, but we’re all in the shot!

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The rain had held off until this point, so we were hopeful, but by the time we got to Two Harbors it was raining hard. We had packed rain gear, but waited until the rain lightened up a bit before heading to the falls. We just hit the closest waterfall since we knew it wasn’t the day to do much hiking. But! The waterfall we saw was gorgeous! It didn’t disappoint.

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First Communion

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I grew up Catholic, and in the Catholic faith your First Communion is a pretty big deal. Lots of CCD classes leading up to it, you make your first confession just before, and every girl wears a white dress. Not so for the Lutherans. We did two classes the week before and I had to chuckle to myself at certain parts. The pastor would say “Is there a correct way to walk up to receive communion?” In my head I’m shouting YES! Same thing with how you place your hands to receive communion. The Catholics have rules for everything.

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The Lutherans, not so much. Once we did the classes the girls could have their First Communion any time after that. They suggested Palm Sunday, but it really didn’t matter. There was also no dress code, although since they needed dresses anyway, I bought white dresses. It would have been weird for me if their dresses weren’t white!

They were both a little nervous beforehand, but did great. Thank you to my parents for coming up to make the day extra special! Afterwards we went out for brunch and that was that!

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Disney World!

Apologies! I didn’t mean to not post a thing last week! I had thought I’d post a pic here and there from my phone but you know how it goes. Anyway, we’re back! I’m still a little exhausted and also still going through the photos, so before we get into the nitty gritty of each day, here are the highlights of our Disney trip.

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My parents rented a three bedroom house just a few miles from the parks for us to stay at. I love staying in a house! It allowed us to eat breakfast at home every morning, and prep and pack lots of snacks each day. With all of my food issues, this is huge. I don’t mind cooking, and knowing that I have food that I can eat is worth it for me. Having our own pool was pretty amazing too.

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We went on this trip with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and their two youngest kids. The cousins had so much fun together! They played together a ton in the pool, and hit the rides together. I loved having a few other roller coaster riders! My niece Samantha LOVES the big rides so we hit everything! Although she had to go on the Tower of Terror with my dad, my brother and I opted out of that one.

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The first few days it was sunny and 80 and beautiful! Gorgeous park weather. Not too hot, not too cool.

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Hollywood Studios. We rocked our Star Wars gear and hit all of the attractions! Star Tours was definitely a favorite. We even met Chewbacca! The girls had money of their own to spend on souvenirs, and they picked out Star Wars everything. I am not big on the princesses, so this made me very happy.

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When we took the girls to Disney when they were three, we skipped Epcot (wisely so). We had zero idea what to expect this time around and were pleasantly surprised! The weather took a definite turn for the cooler by this point, so we did lots of layers and peeled things off and put them back on as needed. We had a few hours in the afternoon of perfect weather and made sure to soak it up.

Tomorrow, Magic Kingdom day 1!

Side note. The girls were born in a year with a leap day, and every year I think about how I begged my perinatologist to please not let me deliver on February 29. She kept her promise!

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Man Down

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Saturday morning Delaney woke me up at 7:00am saying that Caden needed me in the bathroom. It was an odd request, so I hustled to the bathroom to find a sick Caden over the toilet. Ouch. Her tummy was not happy. She relaxed on the couch for an hour and then attempted some juice. That did not go well. We were scheduled to go to the Nutcracker with my mom down in Mankato, so I dressed her in sweats, packed her dress and tights, and we headed down. She slept the entire drive, and then crashed on the couch at my parent’s house. The rest seemed to do her well, and she rallied for some soup and chicken fingers at lunch.

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Lucky girl had a very willing snuggle monster keeping her company!

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It’s always hard to get good pictures in the winter. Either there isn’t any light, or we have our coats on. I wanted a few shots before we headed into the theater, so I asked the girls to unzip their jackets and pose with Grandma. Isn’t this a great picture? If only I could photoshop out the cars and their coats. After I took this shot I looked at it on the back of my camera and noticed that Caden was white as a sheet! I said “Caden, you’re a little pale. You feeling okay?” She replied “I’d like to go home now.” So much for the rally.

We called my dad and he picked her up. After a nap she rallied again, but I was wiser this time and limited her food to soup. (She felt vaguely awful the rest of the day, slept on the ride back home, took a bath then went to bed early. Luckily, she was totally fine on Sunday.)

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The three of us had a fabulous time at the Nutcracker! Back in the day, I took ballet lessons at the Mankato Ballet Company. We put on the first Nutcracker in Mankato in 1985, so this was the 30th anniversary. Obviously, every time we see the Nutcracker I think back to when I danced in it, but this time we talked about which parts I danced, and tried to remember the names of the girls I danced with. It was a crazy walk down memory lane! I have to say, the performance was amazing. They had a live orchestra! The costumes were superb (we had hand me down costumes from some other ballet company), and the dancers did a really great job. I was very impressed! Delaney loved loved loved it. She was on the edge of her seat for a lot of it. We were in the third row, so we had a perfect view of the stage, and we could see the orchestra pit!

My mom and I have talked for years about seeing this version of the Nutcracker. I’m so thankful she was on top of the ticket situation and made it happen this year! It was really special day for me and Delaney. Thanks Mom!

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Bake Day 2015

Bake Day! For me, the Christmas season doesn’t really start until we bake Christmas cookies all day with my family. It’s such a holiday tradition, and one we all look forward to. For future reference, this year my recipes were peanut butter cups, gluten free chocolate thumbprints, and a flourless chocolate cookie. All were good! It can definitely be hard to find recipes that are gluten/dairy free, that don’t involve crazy gf baking ingredients I don’t want to subject my family to. I’m certainly not going to bring a recipe that calls for cashew butter and medjool dates! I’d get boo’d out of the house. This year ran incredibly smooth. We crafted and lunched, and didn’t start baking until after noon. We thought for sure we’d still be baking cookies at midnight, but we had everything finished up by 4:30pm.

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Starting off with the craft! Here is Delaney’s. It’s like a faux snowglobe with a tealight stuck to the lid of the mason jar so that it gets all pretty at night. It was very fun to pick our decorations and then sprinkle the whole thing with “snow”.

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Looking through my Bake Day pictures this is the only one of Caden! She really was a great helper! She made one regular jar, then painted one with a snowflake stencil. I put the jars out in the living room, only to find them all moved to the girls’ room five minutes later.

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All the crafts lit up so pretty.

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Delaney and Grammy making a batch of cookies! My girls really, really wanted to make chocolate chip cookies for Bake Day so my mom made it happen.

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Spritz cookies! These used to be my all time favorite Christmas cookie. Later in the day I was sitting at the table and there was a plate of them in front of me. I made them move them because it was too tempting! Also, apparently my mom found a spritz thing that worked because I heard very little cursing while these were being cranked out.

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The laundry room was the holding zone for cooling cookies. And also cooling caramel popcorn. I spent a bit of time in there.

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Cousins and light up necklaces! I loved these.

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I brought Midas along because he’s little and everyone should meet him and get to snuggle him. The problem (or not?) is that he’s so little, someone had to hold him all the time or someone would risk stepping on him. He was a perfect gentleman, and did a little floor cleaning when he was allowed to roam. By the end of the night he was so exhausted he fell asleep sitting up while I was holding him. Note to my cousin Gage – he’s still available for adoption!

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We packed it in!

My parents came up Wednesday evening to watch the girls softball game. As we were driving back to our house, we were discussing the weekend and our plans for the lake. My dad asked if we could come out Friday night? I said why not! I picked the girls up a little early on Friday, and we headed to the grocery store across the street to grab a quick dinner. Mashed potatoes and pizza for them, a salad for me. We got to the lake in time for a few golf cart rides, ice cream, and some relaxation.

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We wore Annie out. She did awesome this weekend! She’s one of the few dogs who does not wind herself into circles when on a tie out. She loved being in the house, minded the screen door, and only ran off once to chase a bunny. She even went on her first boat ride! And stuck her little paws in the lake. Once the water warms up a bit, we’ll get her life jacket on and see if she likes to swim. By Saturday night she was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. She snuggled up to my dad and fell asleep with her head on his leg. She spent all day Sunday sleeping on my bed. Poor thing.

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There was a lot of this this weekend too. Both girls are so into reading right now. Caden got up first Saturday morning and headed to the screen porch to read her book. Delaney did the same thing Sunday morning. On the ride out Delaney read her book the whole way, and on the ride back Caden did the same. Choosing books over electronics? Yes please.

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After a lunch of grilled pizzas, we headed up to the softball fields for a little practice. My dad coached me all throughout my childhood, and my mom also played a lot of softball, so they were both excited to work with the girls on some of the fundamentals. Since my mom was pitching to them, I got a different perspective and could really help them with their swings.

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Delaney has a great batting stance. We worked on bringing her bat back a little, and not opening her chest so much towards the pitcher. Every time she got her stance just right, she got a hit.

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In the beginning of the season Caden was awesome at hitting, but I think she started overthinking things, so we went back to basics. Her timing was right on, but the bat was too close in. By the time she got the back out and back and then swung, it was too late. Bat back, booty out, and the girl was getting hit after hit.

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After softball my mom mixed up some pina coladas so we could have a little happy hour on the boat. While we were doing that, the girls got in some fishing. They caught a bunch of good sized crappies! My dad cleaned them and fried them up alongside some chicken/bacon/pineapple skewers for dinner. After dinner the girls wanted to go swimming. I said no, right as my mom said sure! At least they’re at the age where an adult doesn’t have to get in the water with them. It was overcast and cool (which worked to our advantage since no one was hot or sun burned) so they didn’t last long. After swimming it was finally time for s’mores and banana boats toasted over my perfect fire. I kept the fire going all day long, so by nighttime things had burned down to perfect coals. Perfect end to the perfect day.

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