The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Father’s Day & Fishing

We headed up to the lake for Father’s Day weekend. When we got there Saturday morning it was sunny and beautiful! So the girls put their swimsuits on and headed down to the lake with the paddle boards. Unfortunately, I thought it was supposed to be cool and rainy on Saturday, not 80 and sunny, so I didn’t pack my swimsuit! They only swam for a bit, but it would have been fun to get out there with them.

After lunch the clouds rolled in and it sprinkled a bit, but we were still able to get out for a boat cruise for a bit with the family. It’s been a while since we did happy hour on the boat!


Sunday was cooler and windy, but we were determined to get out and do some fishing. There are two islands on our side of the lake, so we headed behind one of them hoping to find calm waters. It was calm and sunny – so perfect! And there were tons of fish! A lot of them were small, but as soon as your put your hook in the water some fish bit on it. The water was so clear that right by the boat, you could see the fish swimming towards your hook. We saw a big fish coming and going, but he didn’t seem interested in the bait. I moved to the back of the boat and when he swam near I caught him! He was the biggest sunfish we’ve caught in years! He must have been a fighter because one eye was clearly damaged (perhaps he’s Midas’ fish twin?). Luckily we got my dad a new filet knife for Father’s Day, so he had a nice sharp knife to clean all the fish with!


Funny story. My grandpa does not like dogs. But, my dogs aren’t around him enough to know that. In fact, Saturday evening he fed Annie cheetos (she stared at him and he couldn’t resist). Sunday morning he gave her some of his leftover eggs so clearly, she thought he was her BFF. As soon as we put down the anchors she hopped right up on his lap. I could have died.

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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.

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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 – 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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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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Mama’s In

For the girls’ horseback riding lessons, I buy packages of 10 lessons. When Caden broke her arm she sat out a lesson, which meant we had this one dangling lesson that wouldn’t get used. I told their coach to let me know if there was a night when some of the kids cancelled, then I would ride. She suggested an even better idea – a group lesson of just the three of us! In! We set it up for the Friday before NYE.

The cowboy boots that I bought at the beginning of the summer were crunching their toes, so we headed out early to the saddle shop to get them riding boots. Horseback riding lessons are expensive, and so is the gear, so we’ve been buying things one at a time. Last summer I bought helmets, in September I bought breeches, and now we were doing the English riding boots. As we were getting dressed, I realized that Caden’s riding breeches were about two inches short. I guess she needs new breeches too?

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Once in the store we divided and conquered. I got Delaney set up to try on boots, and helped Caden find a few styles of breeches to try on. It’s hard to see in the picture, but the boots are just ankle boots. On top of that you add what are called half-chaps. They help protect your legs, and help you grip the horse better. They are v. important. Delaney was THRILLED to be getting some. How official does she look? It’s so adorable. Caden found some super cute green patterned breeches, and a pair of riding boots as well. Luckily for my wallet, Caden is a little too short for the half-chaps to fit her, they would go up over her knee, so for now she is chapless. (On top of all of that, we realized Caden was wearing ankle socks, which wasn’t going to work, so I had to buy new socks as well. Of course socks at a saddle shop aren’t cheap, but we now own very cute pink and teal socks with horses on them. Yay.)

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Onto the barns! I have been helping the girls saddle their horses since the fall so I knew what to do. It was very fun to have my own horse to groom and get ready! I rode Lacey, who is a gorgeous chestnut. She’s an awesome horse, although maybe a little sassy and needed some extra encouragement to trot.

We started out walking, then moved to trotting. I rode horse a ton as a kid, but we did trail rides, not proper riding in an arena. It took me a while to find my rhythm! Then she had us trot in two point stance. I’ve seen my kids hold this position for five minutes as part of a conditioning exercise once, and yet I could barely hold it for 10 seconds! It was incredibly humbling. Luckily we went back to posting and then did some jumps! Delaney told me that the gold jump was the highest jump she’s ever done. It was SO much fun! And extra fun since it was just the three of us. Caden even got to ride her favorite horse Ziggy. (Delaney’s horse Trueman had the day off, she was bummed but Rocky was awesome in his place.)

By the end of the lesson I was out of breath, my legs hurt, and I had some fairly sizeable bruises on my calves from encouraging Lacey to trot. But it was amazing! So fun to be in the arena with the girls, and so fun to be on a horse doing jumps. Lessons are expensive enough that I can’t do this regularly, but we decided we’ll do it again for their birthday. After that, we shall see.

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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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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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Grand Canyon – Day 1

When I was looking at flights last spring, they were significantly cheaper if we left the week before Thanksgiving than if we flew out the week of. I called my mom and asked if it would be cool if our stay was a little longer? And we both agreed it would give us the perfect opportunity to hit the Grand Canyon. None of us had been before, it was just never a trip on anyone’s list. I did some research but honestly, we all said the next time we head up there we would do a few things differently.

The one thing we got right was staying at the Maswik Lodge. In case you’re like me and don’t know how things are set up, there is a Grand Canyon Village with five different hotels. I believe Maswik Lodge is the only one without views of the Canyon, but given that the sun went down at 5:20, we knew that wouldn’t be a big deal. The rooms were fine, we were only a five minute walk from the Canyon, and the Cafeteria was fabulous. We’d definitely stay there again.

I did some research on hikes, but most of the info out there was more on the hikes that go into the canyon, and not necessarily about just walking around the rim. I knew there was a shuttle that ran, but I wish we would have hopped on the shuttle right away and rode it out, then walked back. We wandered the trail, but we didn’t go as far as I would have liked because the sun was going down and we needed to head back. Next time.

The weather was mid-50’s while we were there. We dressed in layers, wore gloves and hats, and were totally fine.

My parents are both fairly scared of heights. I didn’t know that before the trip. My mom did fine, but my dad was really freaked out. He didn’t like the girls too close to the edge, and when we hiked down into the canyon on Sunday morning, he only made it about 20 yards before heading back to the top. The second day we managed this better, but on the first day both of my girls were scared by how scared/nervous my parents were. If you have people in your group that are scared of heights, definitely figure out how you’re going to handle that ahead of time. Caden couldn’t figure out if she too was scared of heights, or if she was just taking on their fears.

Pictures!

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As we walked up to the rim, this was our view. It is certainly breathtaking.

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My dad was really good about making me get in the picture!

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Caden was the map reader this trip. She was very into it, and kept going over our route.

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Look at how happy my children are! There were at least two other families there spouting similar “We did not drive this far to just sit in our room!” missives to their children. Delaney was mad that Caden was always the leader, although truthfully, she was probably just hungry.

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Where we were, there were the red/purple parts of the canyon straight ahead, and then the cliffs off to the side that were more brown with green trees. I tried to get both backgrounds in our pictures. While I’m partial to the red/purple parts of the canyon, I do love this shot.

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Seriously. How amazing is Mother Nature. Those stripes! That canyon/river thing that’s running through (it’s the Bright Angel river I think?). I loved it all.

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Delaney was very excited to climb this tree and pose!

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It was just after sunset and Delaney had gone ahead with my parents. The purple colors and Caden’s purple sweatshirt, I had to take a few pictures. This was also right after we finally found a pair of binoculars for the girls and they could not stop using them. It was super adorable.

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