The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

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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Sunset fishing 

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Last week we tried a few new fishing spots on the lake. After taking a cruise one afternoon, my dad and I realized that one of the bays was really clear, but had some good weeds that would make a good sunfish spot. We headed over there after dinner. At first we fished towards the lily pads, but the fish we caught there were teeny tiny, so we switched to the deeper water and tried there. Boy were there fish! The girls got hit after hit. Some were small, but eventually we found some pockets of bigger fish. I’m not sure if it was because of the weeds or what, but the sunfish had crazy coloring. Some were a very bright green, others were more black/purple/orange.

If we’re hitting them, we generally fish right until after sunset and that night, the sky 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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Vacation!

We spent most of last week up at my parent’s cabin. It was great to have a nice break from everything, even if the weather didn’t cooperate every day.

The last two years we’ve done Saturday to Saturday at the Lake Mary resort, but since my parent’s have a cabin on a good fishing lake now, we could do whatever we wanted. Two things factored in. First, the girls had a softball tournament Saturday and Sunday that we didn’t want to miss. Second, I was bringing all three dogs along. I knew my max with the dogs was probably five days? So we headed up Monday evening. It was really nice to have a few days at home, plus it rained all day Monday anyway.

So the drive. As we were packing up the car my mom texted and said there were bad storms on 94, which is right on our route. I decided to wait an extra 15 minutes before leaving to give the storms time to pass. As we’re driving, the radio announcer says something about a tornado warning in St. Cloud. (For those who don’t know, a watch means potential, a warning means one has been spotted.) I immediately call my parents and ask them to look up the weather and wouldn’t you know, St. Cloud was under a tornado warning until 8:00pm. I thought we would just miss it, but as I was listening to the very concerned radio announcers on the St. Cloud radio station, I realized it was going to be very close. They were very pointed that this was real, and to take cover. In my head I was going over protocol if you’re in a car and there’s a tornado. I think you’re supposed to get out of the car and lay down in the ditch? With two kids and three dogs are you kidding me? That’s when I thought “Why on earth am I driving into a TORNADO?” and pulled off at the next exit. Best. decision. ever. We hung out in a gas station parking lot for 25 minutes until the tornado warning passed.

Note for future storms. Lark and Midas FREAKED OUT a few minutes before the rain started. They had their noses in the air and Lark headed for the floor of the truck. They knew what was coming! Annie watched out the window, not a car in the world. Turns out I was a lot closer to St. Cloud than I realized and we definitely would have driven straight through during the warning. (That said, as I was driving I checked out the fields and surrounding area and I don’t think any tornado went along our path, but they got a lot of rain.) The rest of the drive was a bit stressful with rain off and on, at times coming down in buckets, but Lark remained calm so I knew nothing bad was coming.

We had a few days of sun, and a bit of rain, so we tried to make the most of our sunny days! Lots of time down at the lake, lots of time fishing! We tried trolling for walleyes but that was a bust. We did hit on the sunfish a few times, so at least we got a meal for our efforts.

The lake is so clear right now it’s crazy. We kept marveling at how far down you could see as we cruised around the lake!

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Hollywood Studios – Monday

First things first. Both girls had zero cavities! This has never happened in our dental career! Also, we caucused. We’ve talked a lot about the candidates so I really wanted to the girls to be a part of the entire process.

Back to Disney!

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We were there right at park opening again. We walked down the main street to get our bearings, then separated out. Roller coaster riders to the Rock ‘n Roller coaster, everyone else to the bakery. I knew going in this roller coaster was crazy, but I was still unprepared for it. The speed that you take off with immediately knocked the wind out of me and I got a little nervous. After a few deep breaths I started to enjoy it but oof, not sure I could do that one more than once. Once Samantha and my dad did the Tower of Terror, we met up with everyone for our Fast Pass at Star Tours. I had only a vague idea of what this ride was, which was perfect. It was so amazing! When they said they were searching for a rebel spy, they showed my mom’s picture! I loved it, although I have a feeling if you went on it again it wouldn’t be as much fun. Afterwards, we watched a bit of the Jedi Training before moving on.

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The thing I like about Hollywood Studios is that it’s a smaller park, so you feel like you have time to do things like let the kids get their faces painted.

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And take lots of family pictures.

We had a little time to kill before our Toy Story Fast Passes, so we wandered through the Walt Disney museum. I am so fascinated by him! It’s really amazing to see someone with so much creativity, and so much vision.

Since we had done the Buzz Lightyear ride the day before, everyone knew what to expect from the Toy Story ride. I wanted to make it into some sort of competition for highest score, but we all knew my brother would win so instead we decided that the adult with the lowest score had to buy drinks. My mom lost – womp womp. That ride is still top of my list for non roller coaster rides. I love it!

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Since we’d done the rides at this point, we split up. Kristina and I took the kids to the Under the Sea show, and my parents and brother went on the great movie ride. Since the show was only 15 minutes long, we knew we had enough time to meet Chewbacca! He was awesome! Hugged everyone, and took tons of pictures with us. Definite highlight.

The last thing on our list to do was the Beauty and the Beast show. So well done! There are some amazing performers at Disney that’s for sure.

We left the park about 4:00 or so? Which gave us enough time to hit the pool and hot tub for a bit before heading out for dinner. There were a lot of really great restaurants near the house which worked out perfectly for our evenings.

Official step count – 11,273.

Tomorrow will be a break in our regularly scheduled Disney posts for BIRTHDAY FUN. I cannot believe I have eight-year-olds.

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Magic Kingdom – Sunday

Magic Kingdom! What a magical way to start the week.

Before we dive in, let’s cover some logistical things first. While you could probably wing it at Disney, they have made it increasingly difficult to do that. Advanced dining reservations (sit down restaurants, there are still plenty of counter service restaurants) need to be booked 180 days out from your trip, and Fast Passes are booked out 60 days if you’re on property, or 30 days if not. We chose to only make a dining reservation for our Epcot evening, since I just didn’t know where we would be at any given time. As far as Fast Passes go, I like the new system. Basically, you can book 3 fast passes each day, and you can do so on your phone or the website. The new system allowed them to do fast passes for a lot of attractions that didn’t previously offer them, as well as character meet and greets. I didn’t love that you have to go to a fast pass kiosk to book them after you use your initial three, since the kiosks were difficult to find.

Also, I had touring plans for each park from the guide book I bought, but since our fast passes didn’t line up with their recommendations, those touring plans didn’t work for us. I used them as reference to see what we hadn’t hit yet, but we didn’t even attempt to follow them. Last time we were there they were just starting to publish wait times on their app, now they are posted at each ride as well which is really helpful.

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We are an early rising family, so were up and out the door hoping to make it to Magic Kingdom in time for the opening show. But, the whole park, walk, take the monorail, get in the park deal took longer than expected and we got to the park about 15 minutes after they opened. Even though it was cool when we left the house, by the time we got to the park it had warmed up enough that we were able to just go in short sleeves! The plan was to head home in the middle of the day for a rest, then come back in the evening for the parade and fireworks.

I had hoped we could meet a few characters at the front of the park, but every character we saw had a huge line (easily a 20 minute wait or more). Luckily my kids weren’t character focused, but if that is what you want to do, be prepared to skip the rides and just wait in line over and over. I would recommend doing Fast Passes for anyone you really want to meet.

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Our first fast pass was for the Peter Pan ride. The girls loved it! Super glad I fast pass’d this one since the wait time quickly climbed to 60 minutes. We tried to go on it again later, but the wait was too long. We wandered around a bit and hit It’s a Small World and the tea cups. Loved both! After we headed to the Buzz Lightyear ride which was our next Fast Pass. LOVED IT!

We had packed apples, apple sauce, protein bars (for me), and pb&j sandwiches hoping to dole those out to hungry kids in case meals weren’t at normal times. Everyone kind of filled up on these though, and we ended up snacking our way through most of the day. This worked for everyone else, but not for me. I assumed we’d still sit down for meals, but when there is so much to see and do, it was hard to take a break. My protein bars did not get me far and at some point every day I neared meltdown hangry status and demanded protein (hopefully nicely?). Were I to do something like this again, I would hard boil eggs and cut up rotisserie chicken and pack that as my snack food. It would have made things much easier. (Unfortunately I didn’t think of this until the end of the week.)

Anyway, parade time! We happened upon this parade as we were heading over to Adventure Land.

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Jungle cruise! This is such an old school ride. Our ‘tour guide’ was hilarious and totally made the ride fun. After the kids went on the Aladdin ride and my mom and I hit the Dole Whip stand. Mmmm, dole whip. Thank goodness for dairy free treats! It was perfect since it was starting to get really hot at this point.

My time frames are a little shaky, but I think this was when we separated a bit and everyone found lunch. It was close to 3:00 by this point, and there was still a lot we wanted to see. If we had left at this point, we wouldn’t have gotten back to the park until 7:00pm, and then it would have essentially just been time for a ride or two and then the parade and fireworks. We made the decision to try to push through and stay all day.

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Swiss Family treehouse! This picture was either right before or right after Delaney (shockingly) tripped and skinned her knee really badly. Luckily I had packed a full first aid kit in my backpack, so we were able to bandage her up quickly.

We wandered around a bit trying to decide our next move. At this point all of the rides had long wait times, and no one was really in the mood to wait. We didn’t have dinner reservations, and it was becoming clear that it was going to be difficult to make it all day. The roller coaster riders really wanted to hit Space Mountain (we had ridden Splash Mountain earlier), but our Fast Pass wasn’t until 7:00. We decided to just go stand by. The kids headed to the Dumbo ride with the grandparents, and we all met up after.

My parents gave the kids lanyards for Valentines to keep their money in at the park (you can see them in the first pic). As we were walking from the tea cups to Tomorrowland, Delaney realized that her money pocket was gone. It of course had all of her money in it. I retraced our steps (at a run), but it was already gone. She was crushed. CRUSHED. I didn’t want it to ruin her trip, so I told her we would work something out. As we were leaving Kristina suggested that I check lost and found. That idea hadn’t even occurred to me! Luckily the Lost and Found was in the building right next to where we were at the time, so Delaney and I headed inside to see if they had it. My jaw hit the floor when the woman came out of the back room with it! I seriously could not believe that someone had turned it in. Granted, they took $20 before they turned it in, but still, Delaney got most of her money back.

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Leaving early was a good call. We were all worn out by this point, and the kids just wanted to get back to the pool and hot tub. Total steps for the day (per my phone which is super accurate I’m sure) – 16,327.

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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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Fish and more fish 

One of the things that has surprised me the most, is how much I love fishing with the girls. They get so excited when they get a fish, and even if the big ones aren’t biting, we still have fun. Our last time fishing we hit a really hot spot and Caden was on fire. She would shout “COME ON!” every time she caught a fish.

In the beginning of the week, Delaney caught most of the fish. This caused Caden to cry, because she hates anything that isn’t fair. One day we took the boat to a different lake to fish and about halfway through that day, the luck changed and Caden was the one catching the big fish. (The big bass she’s holding two pictures down was from that day.) We headed back to Lake Mary after that and found a spot where we caught some really big sunfish. Before that we caught a lot of little sunfish. I’m talking two inches long little. Fun for a second, but the girls hated that they weren’t keepers. The big fish are so much more fun to catch, and luckily Caden’s fishing rod was out of the water occasionally so Delaney got to catch a few too. My dad and I laughed because their bobbers could be 12 inches from each other, but every time the fish would bite on Caden’s worm.

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More Horses

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I knew we wanted to go back to the same place with the horses as we did last year when we were at Lake Mary. I had done some research ahead of time and thought they could do an hour long private lesson, but no, only a 30 minute intro lesson, walking only. Delaney was bummed because Caden got to trot at the YMCA and she didn’t, and we thought this might be her chance. Eight really seems to be the magic age for the more advanced lessons.

They got an overview of the sadle and the bridle and how you put everything on. I’m fairly sure they remember none of it. It was a wee bit technical for them.

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The intro lesson covers starting, stopping, and turning, all of which they already know how to do so the instructors let them do the poles over and over.

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Lots of slow walking around the riding arena, even a game of red light, green light. It wasn’t the most exciting lesson, but it was fun for me to get to watch them ride! Next year, we could do either the private lessons or a trail ride. A trail ride would be fun, yet that is mostly more slow walking while looking at the person in front of you.

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Delaney rode Levi. Such a pretty boy!

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And Caden rode Lily. Sorry for cutting your head off Lily!

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Lake Mary

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At home I have a definite routine. After the kids go to bed, I head to my laptop and write up the post for the next day. Most of our past vacations I’ve done the same thing but this time, nope. It was so good to disconnect and not fire up the laptop every night.

Vacation was awesome. So awesome. The resort we stay in is picture perfect, on a lake that you can swim in (some lakes in Minnesota right now are gross with algae) and has great fishing, our cabin looks directly onto the beach, and our neighbors were super fun. On top of that, we had sunshine and 85 degree weather every single day. A few days they were predicting something different, but somehow it always ended up being 85 and sunny, no matter how the morning started.

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The sun did get a little relentless. Caden is usually good about self regulating, but I realized she recognizes when she’s cold, but not so much when she’s too hot. We played games and had them read in the shade, and took water/sunscreen breaks frequently. We played Sequence a bunch of times and it’s the perfect game because it requires some strategy, but not so much the kids can’t play. We had a bit of a fail in this picture because we wanted to play outside, but were in the sun and there was no breeze. The kids bailed after 15 minutes. Luckily I was in a swimsuit because I was dripping sweat. Why didn’t we just move the picnic table into the shade???

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As I mentioned last week, there were neighbor kids that the girls made friends with. By the end they were friends with everyone, kids and adults, and we all spent a lot of time out in the water together. And yet, it was moments like this one that I loved the most. Watching the two of them out in the water making up crazy games and having so much fun. We’ve been to the pool a few times this year and it just doesn’t compare to lake fun for them. They spent hours on this aqua mat. Having conversations, doing somersaults off of it, getting thrown across it. It was their very favorite thing.

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Both girls learned how to dock the boat on this trip, and they drove the boat quite a bit on their own. My dad was always right there, and they were excellent captins! The neighbors even clapped when Delaney docked the pontoon perfectly! She was proud (and a bit embarrassed) as was I. I also think Caden really let out her goofy side this trip. She was silly and funny and had all of these sayings, she definitely kept us laughing!

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