The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

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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Happy Thanksgiving!


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.


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


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).


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.






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!


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!


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.


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!


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


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.



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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


Delaney was very excited to climb this tree and pose!


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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Last Fishing of the Season

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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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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Paddle Boarding

When my parents got the new lake cabin, they also bought a paddle board. We were all very excited! We tried it out Father’s Day weekend and of course, the girls were pros at it. So, they got a second one, except the second one is little and Caden is the only one who can actually use it. The adults sink it, and Delaney can only do it if she’s on her knees. More paddle boarding time for Caden! (Delaney is on the blue/brown board).

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Last week we were able to get out twice. It needs to be fairly calm or it just isn’t doable. The first day I just tried to get the feel for things. Once you find your balance it’s very peaceful! The girls and I tried to go across the lake, but we only made it halfway before we decided to turn around. The second time I brought Lark out with me. She looooves the lake, and I thought this might be fun for her. She did great! I put her in front of me, but she quickly moved to the back of the board. I had to have Caden keep track of her for me, since I couldn’t balance and turn around to look at her, but she alternated between laying down and standing up. Her ears were up the whole time with me, which means she’s happy. (We tried her on the paddle board with each of the girls and her ears were flat so, only with Mom.)

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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!