Berry Berry Busy


Our twin girls arrived a little early at 33 weeks and 4 days. They're getting bigger day by day since they blessed us with their arrival. This blog is to document their amazing feats since we know they'll grow up entirely too fast.

Evie and Perry Bird


15 Month check up

Yes, I know, the girls are 16 ½ months now, but somehow after the 1 year appointment I got it in my head that we didn't need another appointment until 18 months.  When I called to ask the pedi's office to fax the most recent immunization records to the school I found out we were behind – bad Mommom.  Fortunately, we were still in the window to keep up with their immunizations.

I wasn't able to take the time off since I still don't really have any personal time, so Seth took the ladies to see their doctor yesterday.  Since the couldn't go in until 9, I made them all breakfast and packed their bag for school and the doctor, making sure to put treats in for after their shots (Polio and flu vaccine).  The girls seemed to really enjoy their breakfast :-)

The girls enjoy breakfast
Once at the doctor's office, all of their weight and measurements were taken and it's so surprise (at least to us) that the girls have made more progress and are pretty firmly on the growth chart for their actual age.  The doctor also went over all their developmental milestones with Seth and said that they were right on track for their actual age.  No more adjusted age for us!!!!  Woohoo!!  She was so happy to see how well the girls were doing.

Mina (Baby A) Stats:
  • Height – 31" that puts her in the 46 Percentile
  • Weight – 21lbs 1oz  that puts her in the 39 Percentile
  • Head Circumference – 17.91" that puts her in the 38 Percentile
Evie (Baby B) Stats:
  • Height – 30.51"  that puts her in the 29 Percentile
  • Weight -  21lbs 7oz that puts her in the 45 Percentile
  • Head Circumference – 17.91" that puts her in the 38 Percentile
Seth said the girls were very brave for their shots and got over the initial shock/pain of it very quickly. 

And just to update you on Mina's ear infection – it's all cleared up!  Poof!  Gone!  Yippe!  While the news is good, Mina's mood is still a bit off.  According to the doctor we might be in the early stages of the terrible twos .  Seriously!!!  Looks like we've got a long road a head of us!  She gave us some handouts on what to expect with our little toddling ladies. 

Their next wellness check (with bonus hep A vaccination) should be sometime after Christmas.  I'll make sure to be on top of that one :-)

We're officially out of the baby stage now, which is kind of sad.  These girls are so much fun though and Seth and I seriously have the best gig in the world!

October visitors and birthday parties

I started writing this post on the blogger app on my phone, but now the app keeps crashing (booo!) so I'm just going to start over.
Mina on playground equipment at Story Park
Last week and this weekend have been pretty crazy. Mina was not acting like herself (she was lethargic, very irritable and running a low grade fever) at school on Wednesday so we decided to take her to see her pedi on Thursday.  Her Dr. said confirmed that she had fluid in her ear (she’d been congested for a couple of weeks) and that her throat was irritated.  Mina was so sweet to her doctor and even sang a song to her after she let her get a good swab of her throat (which fortunately testing negative for strep).  We started antibiotics that night and by the morning she was already feeling better.  Since the doctor said she was not contagious and Mina was in a better mood, we all got ready for school/work. Unfortunately in the short amount of time it took to get to school Mina’s fever came back so she got to spend the day with Dad.  He took her with him as he went for his liver ultrasound and after that they had a good time at Breadwinners for breakfast.  The rest of the day was spent snuggling. Later that day my dad, stepmom (Pam) and my brother arrived in town.  Since Seth had a softball game we all picked up some Chipotle, ate it at the park, left Seth to finish his game and then took the girls home so they could make their bed time.
Evie wanted to climb up by herself
Saturday the girls had a birthday party to attend (their friend Abby).  Since Mina and Evie had a good night and were feeling well we decided to take them to the party at the Park.  They enjoyed playing with Abby and Karmela.  Since the playground at the park wasn’t crowded, all of the girls got to enjoy interacting with it.  Mary (Abby’s mom) put together a wonderfully intimate party.  She paid attention to all the details and even provided a hand washing station for the kids.  The girls loved that!  Even though Mina was a little clingy, the girls had a really good time.  They had so much fun they crashed for a good couple of hours after we got home :-) Evie woke up before Mina did and got to feed Perry bird a treat when he escaped from his cage.  I'm working on the video of it.  It was too cute - she clearly says “bird” and when she tells him “bye”.  She even does her version of the sign language for bird :-)  I hope to post it soon.

While we were at the party my dad, Pam, and Jared rode the DART to the Historic West End to see the area where I work.  They had a good time running around but had to leave after my dad had a close encounter with a pigeon…

Grandpa Jack and Uncle Monkey tell the girls about their trip to the West End
That evening, my dad, Pam, and Jared looked after the girls while Seth and I went out for dinner to celebrate our seventh anniversary.  Can you believe it’s been that long?  Seth and I had the most delicious meal at 52 seasons and spent the evening reflecting on our time together and all the people that have supported us along the way.  We really do have the most wonderful friends and family!!!

The girls had a good night with my family and went right to bed. Sunday was not as good for Mina.

The girls were happy in the morning so we went out to Cabela’s with my family to let the girls see the fish.  Both girls both enjoyed emulating fish lips and seeing all the stuffed game displayed around the store.  Unfortunately we overstayed our time there and Mina let us know that she was not happy.
Mina (yellow) and Evie (pink) enjoy looking at the fish
So Seth and I left my dad, Pam, and Jared at the store to put the girls down for a nap.   They both slept for a long time, but every time poor Mina woke up she was just not happy.  Since we didn’t want to upset her anymore, but we still wanted to take Pam and Jared out for their birthdays, Seth and Mina stayed home while Evie and I took the others to Babe’s Chicken (believe it or not, it was Seth’s recommendation).
Evie at Babe's Chicken
Dinner was delicious and we all had a good time, but I missed Seth and Mina.  It wasn’t the same without them.   When we got back from dinner, Mina was like a brand new person.  She was so smiley and happy.  Her daddy knows just what to do for a happy Mina.  He gave her a bath as soon as we left and then they ate tons of gnocchi :-)  You should have seen the smile on her face when we got home.  Oh how it made my day!

Moving on into the week - The girls both had a good days at school (even though Evie has become one of the “biters” in class.  She never does it at home, so I don’t know what to do…. The school said that both of the girls have been really happy and social, but at home Mina has still been on the irritable side (and is continuing to pull on her ear).  The antibiotics have made her tummy all wobbly too.

She's got another appointment with her pedi on Thursday for a check up so well hopefully she'll be better before then.   It just makes me realize how lucky we are.  The girls are are so sweet and really only fussy when they don't feel good.  Comparatively they really haven't gotten sick very often.  The doctor reacted in suprise when looking at Mina's chart she noticed that it had been over six months since she'd been in.  Regardless, illness is not easy on any mom and it breaks my heart to see her cry.  I hope I can report back soon with news of sweet smiles from our Mina bean.

Diaperfest 2011

Now that I've lured you in with a cute picture lets talk about something less cute... Diapers.

Since the girls' school is working with them on changing their own clothes and changing their diaper in the bathroom while they stand, we decided we should switch diapers to something that would help with the transition. Changing them standing up in the bathroom is to help them start to make the connection between having a dirty diaper and going to the bathroom - how clever is that!

So for about two weeks now we have been cleaning our own diapers. Scary right? Well it’s not as scary as I expected :-)

We had been using Green Baby Diaper Service of Rockwall, which we would happily recommend to anyone. Unfortunately, the diaper service didn't have anything between pre-folds and potty training type pull ups (meant to be used for a short amount of time), so if we knew if we wanted to continue on with cloth we were going to have to invest in some ourselves.

Evie sporting her cute cloth diaper self while she dances

For economy (primarily since we didn't really know if we were going to be able to pull of washing them ourselves and the fact that we would need enough for two days worth of diapers for two babies (28+ diapers and covers) to give it a solid try) we opted for the pin-less Dappi diapers with the Dappi nylon covers. I’ll admit, this is one of the cheapest cloth diaper you can get, but we were trying to be realistic about the amount of time we had to clean diapers – working full time with twin daughters is already very time consuming.

About the Dappi pin-less diapers: They are very trim fitted diapers (available in S, M and L) with extra layers for absorption in the center and velcro on the side to help make it easier to change the girls while they are standing (the majority of cloth diapers have this feature too, it was just hard using the pre-folds while they were standing). They have some elastic in the leg gusset that is built into the diaper. It is not adjustable, but provides a snug fit that prevents most leaks. The velcro on the sides seems stiff (but durable) so far and sticks out a little awkwardly, but maybe that’s because the girls are on the low end of the weight for their sizing. There is a tag to indicate the back, but it is still hard to tell what's inside and what is outside. If you put it on to avoid the awkward sides then the rough side of the Velcro faces the girls skin. Since I'd rather the girls look a little silly than potentially have rough Velcro tough their skin, I make sure that the rough side of the Velcro faces out.

The weird stick out on the side, possibly due to the really firm Velcro.

Initially the main diaper material was not really ‘stiff’ but wasn’t really very soft either. Since we have been washing them for two weeks they have softened up considerably.

Sizing: Since the girls have a lot of tall slender Tberry working for them and we were on the high end of the medium size weight range we opted to get two of the mediums just to try. We were glad we didn’t get all of them in that sized because the girls would not have been able to wear them for long. So we opted to go with the large size diapers. I would say the sizing runs pretty close to what is recommended. The mediums fit really well, but since we opted for the larger size to get more use out of it they fit the girls a little awkwardly.

Mina in her diaper without the cover

About the nylon Dappi pants: The covers (available in sizes Newborn-XL) we decided to get in a size medium since they seemed very generous in size. The rise in the crotch seems to be what will push the girls in to the large size eventually. It really looks like the girls have a big old balloon on their bottom, but they keep the girls clothes dry and we haven’t had any leeks.

Diaper liners: We did invest in about 6 overnight liners to add some absorbency for night time. They are long and wide enough, but not very soft (maybe with more washing they’ll soften up).

Cost: We bought our diapers at Buy Buy Baby and each diaper was about $4. The covers, while also available at Buy Buy Baby we purchased from (because I love that company, they do free 2 day shipping, and I didn’t have time to run out to the store) at 2 for $4 so ultimately we spent about $185. Since most cloth diapers that I’ve researched I’ve found to be priced in between $20-$24 I figured we spent about 1/4 of what we could have spent.

Overall: These diapers aren't near as cute as the diapers they were wearing, but they do what they are supposed to and we haven't had any real leaks. For those on a tight budget, or just wanting to try out the cloth diaper experience, I think these diapers are pretty good. They don’t have all the bell and whistles as some others, and aren’t as soft as some of the more expensive ones, but they are functional and do what they promise.

Balloon bottom Mina

One thing I have done to help with the softness is to cut up some fleece strips to put in between the girls bottom and the diaper. I had already been doing this for the pre-folds to not only help the girls feel drier, but to keep from compromising the diapers absorbency when we had to use creams on the girls bottoms. Since fleece is relatively cheap, does not fray and is easy to cut this solution was relatively easy to do and worth the time, effort and cost. In case you are wondering I cut my strips to be about 3”x7”. I may make them a little more fitted later (widen in the front and back) but since I was in a time crunch, this has gotten us by in the mean time.

Cleaning: So far cleaning the diapers hasn't been too bad. I've been doing it for just over two weeks now. Since we have enough for about 2 1/2 days, I try to do a load every night to stay on top of it. The diaper sprayer we installed really REALLY helps (I think this is a good investment even if you aren't washing your own diapers).

The washing process: Since we usually just slide the diapers off the girls and place them in the bin, I have to pull out the all of the diapers from the day and separate the diaper from the cover and place them individually in the wash. I make sure that all the Velcro is secured together so that the covers don’t get stuck to the Velcro in the wash. I separate out the ‘dirty’ diapers from the wet diapers and put them in a separate plastic bin so that I can spray them out into the toilet with the diaper sprayer. I spray off as much fecal matter as I can while wearing gloves, reconnect the Velcro and place them with the previously soiled area facing out. After putting the rest of the soiled diapers in the wash I then run a cold prewash cycle to help loosen up as much as possible before running a heavy soiled load with my homemade detergent plus a little extra oxyclean in hot water. After they final spin I hang them on the line outside (thanks to grandmamma for installing the line). We also have a drying rack for inside when it rains. They will usually be dry by the morning if I hang them up right before 10.

Diapers on my indoor rack.

So far I’ve had a little bit of staining and there is a bit of very very slight – I’m talking about minimal - smell, but is sure to get more prominent with time. I think I might just need to look in to other detergents to deal with the harder water we have here.

Conclusion: I'm pretty happy with this adventure so far. I'm not going to tell you there's no ick factor, but seeing as how I wipe their little bottoms to get poo off it's really not that much more, and the cost savings are worth it. Even though it requires a little bit of time ultimately will be saving $170 a month from now on (since that is what we were spending for a month for the diaper service - they picked up/dropped off and washed enough diapers each week for both girls providing pre-fold diapers, thirsty covers and overnight fleece diaper liners). All of our cost savings we will be putting directly into the girls college fund. Also, I also feel better about not adding diapers to the landfill. Have you ever seen those statistics?

I don't regret using the diaper service at all, we really loved using them. They were very pleasant to work with and always very responsive when we needed something. Honestly, washing our own diapers is something I think I had to work up the courage to do anyways. When the girls were really little there's no way I could have done it, but now that we have really settled into our routine I think it will really work.

For the future: We plan to keep on moving ahead with our cloth journey. Now that I know it is something we can keep up with I might even invest in a few other diapers for special occasions when I want them to have the cute cloth diaper booty back – seriously cloth diaper bootys are too cute :-) I also have decided to invest in some more diaper specific detergents. I ordered some Hard Rockin’ Green last night from (seriously I love that store) so we’ll see if that helps – I’ve heard really great things about it.

Bonus cuteness just for reading the whole entry :-)

I’d love to hear if any one has any recommendations, tips, or just wants to share their experience

Second October weekend update (16 months)

Our weekend started off with a softball game. The girls really loved watching dad run around the bases and I got a really cute video of Evie squealing for dad. For now you will have to make do with some pictures of their cuteness.
oh No it's....Attack of the Dad!!!

At one point Mina went out to lay in the grass; she was just content to lay there. It was too cute!

We lost the game but had a great time playing :-)

On the word front we've made more progress with both girls adding "bubbles" and "choo choo". Mina even snuck in a "hello" and "baby" over the weekend. It's so much fun communicating with words!

We had aqua babies on Saturday which was way fun! We worked on kicking and wall crawling. Our homework os to float :-) Next time I'll try to get a picture it's just hard to when we both have to be in there at the same time. The girls love to water though and had such a great time.

The rest of our weekend consisted of battling diaper rash, laundry (the girls love to help), and house cleaning. We managed a few more play opportunities in though with some sidewalk chalk drawing and some choo chooing around the house.

Can you believe these babies-

Are 16 months old!

Unfortunately I only got pictures on Friday, hopefully that cuteness will get you through to the next post :-)
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The girl's first word caught on video

I never officially uploaded this to the girl's webpage, so here it is for your viewing pleasure :-)

Playing with shadows

Lets start off with random before bed cuteness:

Evie has started noticing her shadow. I'm sure Mina has too, but I was on Evie watch on our walk last night (and Mina and dad had hurried ahead of us). It was so cute- she was pointing to it and talking to it. She even bent down to touch it. I just wished that I had had my camera.

We also have new words to add to the girls list: Bye and we think they said some version of high five :-)

In other news, we got a package from Gradmama with Seths request for Halloween costumes hand made for the girls. Anyone want to guess what they'll be this year?

Don't worry, I'll definitely post a picture of their costumes for you all to see. Thanks Grandmama! Hope you are having fun in England, Scottland and Ireland!

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Official first word! (besides mom and dad)

Good morning!

Mina is in dads lap.

The girls both said a version of "more" last night at dinner! They already could sign more, but now they have started to say it too! I have video, but I'd like to clean it up first. It's really cute, they both have their own way of saying it. Mina's is kind of long and Evies is very quick. I'll try to clean up the video tonight and post it tomorrow. Any guesses as to what their second word might be?!?

Word count: mom, dad, more
Sign count: all done, shoes, eat, milk, bird
Signs we are working on: walk, bath, dog, sleep, water, hurt, help, dirty, diaper change
Sounds they like to make: lederlederleder, bwwwaaakkkkkk, !ooh!
I think I'll put that list on a page so I can add to it and track some of that stuff :-)

We also had a few other firsts this weekend - dad went to his first major league football game with some of his coworkers. He had a lot of fun, despite the fact that the boys lost.

The girls had their first encounter with the kids club at 24 hour so that Nita and mommom could go to Zumba. They seemed to have fun. They love getting to meet new people and within a minute of them going inside they had already made new friends.

The girls also had their first visit to Starbucks. They recommend the pumpkin bread :-)

Mina says Starbucks is no.1, Evie says "true dat yo!"

Mommom made her first attempt at granola bars. I used this recipe, substituting the peanut butter for Sunbutter, adding flax meal and leaving out the raisins (we forgot to put them in the grocery list). I think they were quite delicious and the girls seemed to agree. I'll definitely be making them again!

Mina left, Evie right enjoying moms granola

Evie and momom

Ugh, I do look as tired as I feel!

Hope you guys have a great Monday!

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A twin mommas reflection on nursing

After much deliberation Seth and I have decided to stop nursing the girls in the morning. This might be a little TMI for some of you, but hey this blog is to document our journey with the girls and breastfeeding has been a big part of our journey. If it is TMI feel free to skip the rest of this entry :-)

So... I'm really kind of sad about it. We still plan on doing our sessions after school for a bit longer, but this step closer to full weaning is hard. We decided a while back that we wanted to wean before it became a real battle with the girls, which I think if we continue on much longer it probably would be. Since they'll be 16 months on the 8th of October I really do think we we've had a good run (especially considering my initial goal was 12 months).

This decision seemed easy to make, but emotionally it's hard for several reasons. I'll discuss just a few of them.

Since they were born 6+ weeks early and were in the NICU for over a month, providing them breast milk was the one thing it seemed I had some control over. I felt really good knowing that I was providing them with the most nutritious thing I could, passing along all the immunities I had to give to hopefully make their life a little bit easier.

This is not to say providing breast milk was easy. I worked hard, harder than I've worked at anything (and that includes my Masters Degree in Architecture, recovering from spinal surgery and my international distance triathlon). I had friends and family worried about its affects on my well being (the sleep deprivation and my nutritional upkeep). I had multiple visits and one on ones with the lactation consultants while the girls were in the NICU trying to get the girls and I to work as a unit. I had bouts of severe engorgement, plugged ducts, yeast infection (did you know you could get them in your nipple?!?! Crazy!) and worries of mastitis (fortunately it never got to that). I pumped every three hours for 20 minutes+ up until the girls managed to build up the sucking capacity to do the whole session on their own. We had to use bottles bottles while we were in the NICU since the girls were having trouble maintaining their latch. I was really worried that with all the bottles and pacifiers that the girls and I would never master the art.

My life revolved around pumping for a good two months. It took about that long before we were brave enough to go it without the use of bottles. The main thing we were worried about was just that they were getting enough. After we had a follow up with the lactation consultant we determined that the girls were doing great and we didn't need to worry anymore.

By being able to bypass the pump and let the girls go straight to the tap our lives simplified greatly.

Once we had nursing down we even managed to juggle tandem feedings which made thing even easier. Tandem feeding really intimidated me before we really had the courage to give it a go. With practice it eventually proved to be no big deal and then everything became even easier. Juggling two sleepy hungry babies at night was hard, but we found our routine and were pros before long. (I don't know if it would have been possible without My Twin Brest Friend nursing pillow, this pillow is seriously amazing!) Every now and again I would opt to do one on one sessions, but they always lead to a much more tired momma. Tip for those interested in nursing twins - nursing them at the same time will help you get more sleep, which as a new mom is invaluable!

When I returned to work I continued to pump twice a day. My coworkers were very understanding and let me use a screen for privacy at my desk so that I could work while I pumped. Their willingness to put up with my not so discrete screen and the odd humming noises allowed me to be able to provide the girls with 100% breast milk for 99.99% of the first year of their life. This was also made possible by another wonderful product - my hands free nursing bra.

Nursing my babies has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I have loved every single minute of it, even when it was hard. I loved going to the doctor and seeing everyone's look of surprise when we told them we were still going strong. I really loved watch the girls legs get chunky and know that I put that there.

Please know that I don't look down on anyone that has decided not to breastfeeding - for any reason. As I said before, breastfeeding can be very tough physically and emotionally. I just know that I wouldn't have done it any other way and I have never been more proud of something I've done.

I will miss those milk drunk looks and the times when the girls would fall asleep on the nursing pillow after (or even during) a session. I will never forget the quiet peace that would come while I held them close and stroked their little noggins. The light in their eyes and the smiles they would give me between suckles are forever imprinted on my heart.

To my darling daughters-
I love you more than words can express. You have enriched my life immeasurably. As you grow and gain independence, I know that I cannot share this experience with you much longer and while this makes me sad, I know it pales in comparison to the pride I feel in you both as you amaze your father and I with all the wonderful things that you are learning to do. I hope that you know that my #1 objective has always been and will continue to be to nourish you physically, emotionally and spiritually in the fullest way possible.
Love-your Mommom

Mina is in the pink, Evie is in the yellow
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Weekend with friends

Thursday night we took the girls out to eat at Reds. They really enjoyed looking at the ducks and fountain from the patio.

Our weekend kicked of with us barely making dad's softball game at 6:30 on Friday. The team they played was pretty good at bat and took a big lead right from the first inning. The Bluepers managed to make up a large part of the deficit and prevented them from scoring the rest of the game, but the other team came out on top. We were all surprised by the visitor that stopped by at the end of the game.

The People in the balloon were flying really low so we had a really great view. They even waved down at us :-)

Saturday were very excited our friends the Cory and Robin Cash. They were married back in June in Lubbock. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture with them and the girls, but you we all had a great time. Mina especially liked showing Cory her dance moves :-)

Seth and I also took the girls swimming on Sunday at Oak Point to prep them for their second round of aqua babies here in a couple of weeks. Again, it's hard to get pictures of swimming since it's an all hands on deck type event. Next time I'll get some shots before and after. These girls love the water though! We even managed to get a few underwater moments :-) the girls were so tired Sunday they almost slept through dinner!

They were also being super cute this morning.

Mina poses for the camera

Evie dances for finding moms granola bar

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International Day of Peace

So today the girls' school is participating in the International Day of Peace (have I mentioned lately how much I adore their school!). The school asked that all the students wear white today so I set a calendar alarm to help me remember to dress them in white.

Guess who apparently messed up their alarm (set it up as a pm reminder by mistake). Boo!

At least they are super cute!

Dad helping Evie put on her shoes (oh how the girls love shoes!)

Mina enjoying her breakfast scone

The girls racing down the hall to go to school (they love their school too).

Despite my inability to remember to dress in white today, I definitely intend to spend some time today thinking about those that are in real need of peace, those that protest and push towards a more peaceful world, and what I can do to promote peace and help others find peace.

I'm curious - what things do you do to promote peace? I'd love to hear about it.

Peace be with all of you today and all days.

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Are you ready to potty!!!

There's a toilet training workshop at the girls school today, how are we even at the point of talking about it already?!?! The teachers say it could happen as early as 18 months if we take advantage of their curiosity now. Crazy isn't it!

Monkey bar Mina

Evie the fashionista

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Talk like a pirate day

Dad reading Pirates Don't Change Diapers for talk like a pirate day. The girls loved it!

(Mina's on the left)
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Location:Berry home

Homemade Laundry detergent

So I've been making my own laundry detergent and I love it (especially how much $ we save)
The hardest part is grating the soap-

Everything else is cake :-)

Here's the recipe I used.

I used 1/2 a bar of Dr. Bronner's lavender soap for the antibacterial properties in lieu of the Felis Naptha. Can you believe one batch makes 5 gallons!

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Random hi

Just thought I'd say hi and see if the latest blogger update was any good :-)

From a year ago today:

Can you guess who is who?

From this weekend:

A new decal by their table (lasted two days before they found a way to tear it down...

Evie loved the splash park and had no fear!

Mina was a bit more cautious!

Which way does mom go?!?!

My how time flies!

So far I'm liking this upgrade, if the bugs really are fixed I'll be posting much more!

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