The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

San Diego Beach Photos

While I took my big camera out to San Diego, I didn’t use it a ton. It’s heavy, and lugging it around gets old quickly. But, I did take it to the zoo (pics coming tomorrow!) and I did bring it down to the ocean once for a beach walk. We were about two hours before sunset with these pictures. I thought I was just about in the golden hour, but I wish I would have looked at them a little closer and then gone back and taken more pictures just before sunset. I love these, but they’re a little bright, I’d love it if the light was a little more diffused. Oh well, they’re ocean pictures!

Sorry for the picture overload! I tried to narrow down a bit at least!

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Day 2 – Universal Studios

Day 2 in California was Universal Studios – Hollywood! To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have made the trip up to LA if the girls weren’t crazy Harry Potter fans. But they are, and since Florida isn’t on our vacay schedule any time soon, the only way they were going to see Harry Potter world was in California. Since it’s a decent drive and we wanted to get there when the park opened, we went on day two. Since we were still on central time, it was easy enough to get up at 5 and be out the door and on the road at 6:00am. The drive up was not bad! The drive back was another story.

We headed straight back to Hogwarts. I had done some research on the park but not a ton, so I didn’t have a great idea what to expect. I did know to buy the special wands at Ollivander’s, and to do the Forbidden Journey ride asap.

I upgraded to the Express passes and while it costs more, it was worth it. There aren’t a ton of rides, so the lines for all of them quickly climbed to 45+ minutes. You can use the Express pass once per ride. The only rides we did twice were Forbidden Journey and Despicable Me. We were able to use the Express pass when the line was long, and wait when the line was only 25 minutes. If you do use the Express Pass, make sure you announce yourself when you get to the lines. It’s easy to get swept into the regular line, or miss the person scanning passes. Overall, the pass probably saved us 3-4 hours of waiting time?

I realize this is an unpopular opinion, but none of us liked the Butterbeer. It had a weird aftertaste. We bought two, probably drank one and dumped one.

With the special wands, you would stand in front of a shop window and do a spell, and then something magical would happen. Sometimes a plant moved, sometimes a key turned, sometimes we couldn’t get anything to happen. But, they have people stationed at most of the things to help you figure it out. The girls loved this!

They did a really awesome job building the whole Harry Potter world.  Loved the buildings!

Also, I would like to say that Universal does a great job with their gluten free food. People were very knowledgeable, things were labeled, and when they weren’t sure if something was gluten free (the fries) they went and asked. I appreciated that, and my many options.

Our Express Passes also got us close to front row seating for the Animal Actors show! This was so much fun! We all really loved it. And did you know that most dogs in tv and movies are rescued from shelters? We decided Midas totally needs to be in the next Beverly Hills Chihuahua!

We left the park about 4:00. I naively thought we’d be a little ahead of traffic? Only to realize that there really isn’t rush hours, so much as traffic just gets worse as the day goes on. The trip up was 2 hours 15 minutes, the trip back was 3 hours 30 minutes. It was brutal. Bumper to bumper, barely moving for hours. Delaney really wanted to get back in time to do a beach walk, but there was just no way we were going to make it. We thought about pushing through and just getting home, but around Orange County we all got hungry. I saw a sign that said Oceanside 27 miles, so I told Caden to use my Find Me Gluten Free app to find us a restaurant in Oceanside that we could eat at.

Side note – this app NEVER lets me down. It always finds the best restaurants in whatever city we’re in. The reviews and information are always spot on, and I have a good idea going into a restaurant of what I’m going to be able to eat.

So anyway, she picks Ruby’s Diner because they serve breakfast all day and milkshakes and that sounded good to the two of them. The app gave us directions and as we pulled into town I realized the restaurant was in the ocean! Just kidding, it was out on a pier but we all laughed like crazy when we saw that on the map. How perfect?! It was just 7:00 and the sun was setting, so we had the perfect view. Dinner was good, and it was the break we needed after a long couple of hours in the car.


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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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.

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 – 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)


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?


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.)


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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