Return to Paradise – 5 Year Anniversary

10479750_10106338630620241_696757564914121563_nHere we are, deep into January, and I have nothing written down about the amazing trip I took with my incredible husband this past December!

In June 2014, we celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Since we had just moved into our new home, the month prior, we decided we would delay the celebration until the end of the year!

Ava & Grampy were incredibly gracious and kind and offered to watch the girls while we were gone. Trent and I spent eight beautiful days on Big Island, Hawaii, staying at Hilton Waikoloa Village, the same place we went for our honeymoon in June 2009.

Chevy Camaro UpgradeThere were so many incredible moments, so I’ll leave you with the top highlights!

When we arrived in Kona, on Sunday, December 14th, we picked up our luggage and headed to the car rental counter. The line was literally out the door and not everyone looked overly enthusiastic, but we were ecstatic. No worries. We are in Hawaii to celebrate! Our energetic personalities must’ve shined through, because we were upgraded from a Volkswagon Jetta to a Chevy Camaro. That’s not a bad way to start to the vay-cay!

On Tuesday, we hiked down Pololu Valley which was just gorgeous.

Pololu Valley

And on the way back home, we stopped by Kapa’a Beach on the northwestern shore to see the rocky coast.

Kapa'a Beach

Last time we were in Hawaii, we went to a luau, and had a lot of fun, so on this trip, we wanted to switch it up and visit the cowboys at Kahua Ranch! So on Wednesday, we enjoyed a sunset BBQ dinner, Trent learned how to lasso, we branded our own shingle, did a little line dancing (ok, it was more like the electric slide), hung out with a ridiculously giant pig, roasted some s’mores, and met some really cool cowboys!

Ranch

The next day, will go in the books as one of the most incredible days of my life. It started off with a visit to Rainbow Falls, where we found ourselves literally standing underneath a rainbow. I’ve never seen anything like it. So beautiful. It was the first time I had ever seen both ends of the rainbow.

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Next, we headed to Hilo Airport so we could take a doors-off, (feel the heat) helicopter tour over the active Volcano! One of the “hottest” experiences I’ve ever had!

volcano

Today, was going to be the same day that we drove around the entire island. Next stop, visiting the Volcano National Park! When we first arrived, we had lunch at the Volcano House, overlooking the crater. I had no idea, we would be so close! The view was incredible! Then we explored the national park, checked out the vents, and later learned that one side of the national park was a dessert and active volcano, and after walking through the lava tube, we ended up in a lush, tropical rainforest. Who knew?

volcano1

As we continued our journey around the Big Island, we had to stop at Punalu”u Black Sand Beach!. The beach has black sand made of basalt which was created by lava flowing into the ocean. We also found a large group of sea turtles basking in the sun!

Black Sand Beach

Timing could not have been more perfect in our trip around the island, because we happened to be driving by South Point, the southernmost part of the United States, right before sunset. We could not pass up that opportunity to stop and enjoy the view. It is extremely windy on this part of the island, as you can tell from the picture of the tree! I’m thankful I was not blown into the ocean, but the photo op was worth the risk!

South Point

The perfect day wasn’t quite over, just yet. We went to Rainbow Falls, flew in a helicopter over the volcano, had lunch at the Volcano House with an amazing view of the crater, explored Volcano National Park, the lava tubes, the rainforest, drove to Black Sand Beach, caught an amazing sunset at South Point, but we still had one more stop before the night was over, Kona Brewery!

Kona Brew

The next day, was definitely a relax at the hotel, bask in the sun, play some glow golf, kind of day!

relax

Relaxation. Check. Time to get back on the adventure saddle. What better way then to saddle up on a horse and explore the Waipi’o Valley!

waipio

Eight days was a long time to be away from the girls, and I admit, by day 7, I was looking into flights to come back early, but in the end, I would not have changed a thing. Trent and I had the most amazing vacation and I feel so fortunate to have spent a week in paradise with my best friend! We have been married for 5.5 years and everyday I love him more and more!

It was great to have the time alone, and I think it’s so important for moms and dads to get their together time, even if it’s just one date night a month. We are stronger today then we have ever been and for that, I am so grateful!

Crafty Holiday Traditions

The holidays always make me feel a little craftier, and now that the girls are three, I’m having a lot of fun starting family traditions!

On November 1st, I created our third annual family thankful tree. Everyone was assigned a colored leaf and each day, we all put one leaf on the tree, to share what we were thankful for. On Thanksgiving, we had a beautiful tree, full of thanks.

Thanksgiving Thankful Tree

As usual in our household, our Christmas tree went up the weekend before Thanksgiving. Typically, we put it up early, so we can enjoy it longer, since we usually travel up to two weeks over the holidays.

Christmas Tree

I found a wonderful advent calendar from Target, that would keep my creativity flowing throughout the holidays. Each day, the girls flip over an ornament on the advent tree, and we do whatever is on the back.

Advent Tree

Just one week into December and we have already created a paper garland, decorated a Christmas tree, put up our felt Christmas tree, made ornaments for the tree, looked at Christmas lights, taken a picture with Santa, and created gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies!

We also have had fun with Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf. Every morning, Elfie flies to a new spot and the girls have a lot of fun trying to find her!

Over the past two years, the Christmas felt tree has been a hit in our household. The girls love to decorate and re-decorate the tree, again and again.Felt Tree

This year, I was excited to find a felt nativity scene, to put on the wall, and even more thrilled to watch the girls take turns, telling each other the true meaning of Christmas.

Felt Nativity Scene

Every day, offers a little something exciting in the countdown for Christmas. Each day, we find Elfie, take a paper ring off of the Christmas garland, and flip over an ornament on our advent calendar, to see what special event we get to do that day!

We love the holidays and look forward to these new traditions and finding even more, for years to come!

Happy Holidays! Get crafty!

Growing Too Fast and Into Bunk Beds

309878_10101484435615941_1700505688_nEver since the girls were born, I frequently found myself excited for the next big step. When they were babies, I couldn’t wait for them to sit up and crawl. Then, I couldn’t wait for them to walk, and at 11 months, they took their first steps. I was so excited for them to talk and interact, that I couldn’t wait for them to get bigger, so we could play a game of Candyland or toss a ball.

You always hear the phrase, “Cherish every moment,” or “They grow up too fast,” but living hundreds or thousands of miles away from family, I rarely had any help, so I always thought, if they get older, it must get easier, or at least I hoped.

552314_10102538224848871_1083126962_nNow that they are almost 3.5, I finally look back at the days where they were babies, and I miss the sweet stages of those cute little diapered butts. The times when you could set them on the couch and know, they were not moving anywhere. The times that naps were still present and no one screamed back or tried to be defiant. No one fought or pulled any hair. There were no tantrums on aisle 3 and crying was typically silenced with a bottle, binky, or diaper change.

Raising twins is hard, especially with no family close by. My hat goes off to all of the amazing women who do it every day. I have never had more struggles or challenges, or been pushed to my limits, more than I have since becoming a mom. On the flip side, I have also never experienced more joy, more love, or more fulfillment, then I have as a mother to those girls.

Today, my “next big thing” was bunk beds. Was it too early? Probably. But, the toddler beds seemed to be getting smaller and bunk beds seemed to be a logical solution for two girls who shared a small bedroom. So, today, while the girls were at preschool, the magic happened.

We said goodbye to the toddler beds.

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Daddy built the bunk beds while the girls were at preschool.

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They were pretty excited to find the beds when they came home!

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Daddy gave them the safety talk.

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….And the new beds were awesome!

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Story-time before bed was extra special.

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IMG_3922Night one is almost in the books for our transition to bunk beds. Once they finally settled down from the excitement, they were fast asleep. As of right now, Chelsea took the top bunk and Katelyn was content with the bottom. I’m sure this will change down the road, but I’m happy that there was no fighting about who was going to sleep on the top bunk.

It’s bitter-sweet to see the girls in bunk beds, because they still look so little, and of course in my eyes, they are always going to be my babies, but they love it!

For now, I need to remember to stop rushing them to grow up and enjoy the moment. As hard as some moments may be, I know, I will miss these days, just as much I miss them being little babies.

Cherish every moment. They grow up too fast. It’s finally starting to hit home.

One-Year RUNiversary

983580_1435109673398181_300747634_n (1)Today is a special day for me. It is my one-year RUNiversary!

Twelve months ago, I was not a runner, not even close! In fact, I hated thinking about running. I loved to sprint, fast, but for 100, 200 yards, maybe. I loved to run around the bases in a softball game or do sprints for a warm-up. Anything beyond that, was just not for me.

One year ago, today, I completed my first “official” run, by joining an 8-week run club. That night, I ran 1 mile around the track. Little did I know, that mile, would be the start to an amazing, positive, change in my life.

I never thought I would ever complete a half marathon. I had no endurance and honestly, no desire to even try. I had myself convinced, that I was a sprinter, therefore, I could not run long distance, but last October, my mentality changed.

I set a New Year’s resolution, for 2013, that I was going to be Fit for 30. It was the year, I turned the big 3-0, and I worked hard, to get in the best shape of my life. I felt that I completed my goal when my 30th birthday arrived last October, but something was still missing. I got in shape, but I still couldn’t run. I was finally ready to stop saying, “I can’t,” and start believing in myself.

It was never easy. I made mistakes. I learned from them. I sustained injuries. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. runs. I had runs that were good and runs that brought me to tears. Most importantly, no matter what, I never quit.

I’ve learned a lot of things about myself since I started running (13.1 Milestone: Lessons Learned), but I think one of the most important ones is to have a positive attitude, not just in running, but in life. I had convinced myself that I was not good enough to run long distance and that I would never have the endurance to run a half marathon. The reality was, I just never had the desire or the patience to prove myself wrong.

I learned how powerful your mind really is and how much control your mind and your attitude have over your body. If I hit the road with a negative attitude, my run is horrible, every time.

I learned that 90% of your race, is your mental state that day. Of course, training is important, and your body needs to be properly trained, fueled, and hydrated to go the distance, but it’s just as important to train your mind, along with your body. When your body runs out of steam, your mind needs to tell your legs to keep moving.

If you told me one year ago, I would run a half marathon, I would have laughed out loud and told you, you were crazy, because I can’t run.

In the past 12 months, I have completed 2 5K’s, 4 10K’s, 1 sprint triathlon, and 2 half marathons, and I will be running my 3rd half marathon on October 26th.

5K
11/9/13 – Big A 5K 24:56 / 8:02
2/9/14 – iTRTathlon 5K 24:57 / 8:03

10K
11/28/13 – Plymouth Rock N Run 10K – 54:49 / 8:50
12/14/13 – Troutman Sanders Santa Run 10K – 53:54 / 8:42
3/2/14 – Coaster Run 10K – 49:23 / 7:58
3/30/14 – PCRF Reaching For the Cure 10K 49:20 / 7:58

Sprint Triathlon
2/22/14 – Race on the Base – 5K 24:40 / 7:57, Bike 13.1 mi 48:17, Swim 5:41

Half Marathon
5/26/14 – Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon – 2:03:23 / 9:25
8/31/14 – Disneyland Half Marathon – 1:56:37 / 8:54

It is almost overwhelming to look back at the last year and see, not just the accomplishments, but to see how much running has changed me as a person. I really believe it has given me a new outlook on life.

Running was something that once scared me, because I was so intimidated by it, but now running is a part of who I am.

I started my own Facebook page, Mission TwinPossible: The Twin Mama’s Journey, and I have learned that anything is possible with the right attitude, hard work, and dedication.

My First Disneyland Half Marathon

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-LogoI’m kind of embarrassed to admit that six weeks have passed and I have not written anything about the Disneyland Half Marathon!

flat hIt was kind of a big deal, because, one, it was on my bucket list, two it was a New Year’s resolution, and three, I PR’d, taking 7 minutes off my first half marathon time. alarm

I woke up bright and early on the morning of the big race. Flat Hollie was laid out, and ready to go!

I got to the parking garage around 4:15 a.m. and was in my corral (super early), anxiously awaiting the 5:30 a.m. start! My adrenaline was pumping and I could feel the Disney magic all around me! So many runners were dressed in their Disney best and it was fun to see everyone’s race costumes.

The gun went off and my corral was headed out! There truly is something magical about running through the Happiest Place on Earth! It would’ve been even better if you could run through the park for the entire 13 miles, but unfortunately, the park is not that big. I loved running through Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland Park, even if it was only for a couple miles. There were multiple photo opportunities, inside the park, for those who wanted to snap some selfies, or get a picture with their favorite Disney character. I just kept on running.

disney halfs

Even though there were 11 miles outside of the parks, the entertainment never failed. There were live bands, cheerleaders, spectators, singers, and even a classic car show along the route. We ran around the Honda Center, and, perhaps my favorite part of the race, was running around the field, at Angels Stadium, with cheering spectators inside!

I started to hit a wall at mile 12, which is where my pace really took a hit. I started to feel dizzy and light-headed, and started running with my head down, possibly even with my eyes closed, for a few feet here and there.  The spectators, and even the runners, offered amazing words of encouragement during that final mile, to keep my body moving forward to finish the race.medal

The overwhelming feeling of joy I felt after crossing the finish line, is almost indescribable. It is the runner’s high. The reason, runners will sign up for another race (also for the bling).

One year ago, 13.1 miles seemed impossible and unreachable, but on August 31, I completed my second half marathon in three months. It didn’t even seem real at that point.

Another amazing feeling after the race, is finding the person you love, who’s been cheering you on, waiting for you with open arms, and even accepts your sweaty hug when you re-unite!

I was so happy to see my husband after my run. I have been so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing support person by my side, not just for this race, but also for every early morning training run, (and recovery-on-the-couch days) that got me to that day!

Side note: Unfortunately, unless your spectators pay extra money to be part of the ChEAR Squad, your family will not be able to see you cross the finish line, so make sure you have an agreed-upon meeting place, after the race.

Disney Half
If you want to participate the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Sept 4-6), there are a couple things you should know. Registration sells out fast! You can sign up at Run Disney, to receive an email reminder of the day, registration opens. Registration for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, opens on February 10, 2015.

It’s not the cheapest race out there. The half marathon, alone, was $195. A lot of people ask me, if it was worth the cost? I can’t say I would spend that much money on a race again (insert husband’s happy dance here), but it was an amazing experience, a very organized race, and of course big bling is always a plus! The biggest downside for me (aside from the expense) was that my husband was not able to see me cross the finish line, but I guess when you have that many runners, it would be hard for everyone to flock to one spot. Overall, the race was a lot of fun! Thank you Run Disney!

The V Word

There are numerous posts on the internet, with parents asking the frantic question, what do you call your child’s girl or boy parts? The “v” word is a bit uncomfortable for many parents, or some are just not ready to hear their child say “the word.”

Instead, parents come up with cutesy “g-rated” names like va-jay-jay, private part, pee-pee, kitty, cookie, front of your bum, stuff, hoo-hoo, coo-coo, cooter, privates, personals, lady bits, bottom, down there,  or downstairs, just to name a few.

But, why do we need to come up with a g-rated name for a body part, and why are we so uncomfortable, calling it what it is? Vagina. There, I said it. Is the word, “vagina” really x-rated?

I’ve heard some say, they do not want to take away their child’s innocence. In fact, one mom pulled her first-grader out of class, upon discovering that she learned the word penis in school. The mom shouted to the school’s counselor: “You’ve destroyed her innocence!” Children do not naturally develop shame about their bodies. Shame is taught to them by adults.

Other parents think that the v word is a dirty word and it’s really not. Often, we giggle when we hear someone talk about “penis” or “vagina,” because it is just not talked about. With that said, I don’t want my kids to hear those words from someone else. When we come up with so many cutesy words, it sort of implies a sense of shame. It conveys that we cannot call it what it really is, because it’s bad.

It is simply another body part. A private, body part.  They won’t feel comfortable talking about it, if the parent is not comfortable.  I don’t want them to feel ashamed.

I realized that for the past 3 years, just like many other parents, we have subconsciously been dodging the “v-word,” too. Why is that word so uncomfortable to say or even hear? We don’t spend hours thinking of a cutesy name for foot.

I don’t think telling them the proper name will destroy an innocence. I don’t agree with keeping kids in the dark about their bodies because we are uncomfortable calling it, what it is.

If there was ever a problem, I don’t want my child to tell me that their bottom hurts, because, I would have no idea what they were talking about. I want them to know the correct terminology.

A child should view their entire body as healthy and although some parts of our bodies are private parts, there are no particular parts of our body that is shameful. I grew up with my mom, a nurse, who said every body part has a name, and  it’s important to use the correct name.  I couldn’t agree more!

Lil’ Strikers Bumper Bowling League

A big part of me has wanted to take the girls bowling. The other part of me thought I was crazy, and so did my husband. However, I found the perfect opportunity to give the sport a chance, in an environment that welcomed my two, high-energy, preschoolers.

My husband is on vacation this week, and so are the girls, so I figured with man-to-man coverage, we would head to an alley. I started searching for bowling alleys nearby, and I stumbled across Saddleback Lanes in Mission Viejo. As I clicked on their website, one banner quickly caught my eye:

bowling banner
bowlingWait. A bowling league, that welcomes three-year olds, and is twin friendly?  This is phenomenal.  I immediately called Saddleback Lanes  to find out more information!

The Lil’ Strikers Bumper League is a 10 week league, but you can join anytime. The league meets on Mondays at 4 p.m. and the cost is $8 per person, which includes shoe rentals and two games of bowling! Since you are technically in a league, you also receive discounts when you return to the alley throughout the week. At the end of the league, the kids enjoy a pizza party and receive a trophy! We went on Monday, Aug 25, which was week 9 of the current league. The next league is expected to start in mid-September.

Every team in the league has 3 bowlers. Your team consists of 1 parent and 1 child or 1 parent and 2 children.  If you are only bowling with one child, then you will have a ghost bowler on your team. When the child bowls, the bumpers automatically come out. When the parent bowls, the bumpers go away. Bowling ramps are provided for the little ones, who can’t throw the ball down the alley yet and the kids bowl with six pound bowling balls.

bowling2We chose to make a 3-person team. My husband bowled with the girls and I was the safety monitor to make sure they were sitting down when everyone else was bowling, not getting over excited and running into the wrong lane after they knocked their pins down, and not pressing all of the buttons on the computers.

StrikeThe only problem we encountered was when Chelsea bowled a strike. She was on the verge of tears because she did not understand why she did not get to throw her second ball. Catastrophe.

By the end of our second game, Katelyn wanted to hurl her balls down the alley like daddy, so it was probably a great time to go.

For their first time bowling, the girls did great! Kate bowled a 74 and 82 and Chelsea bowled a 71 and 88. (Oh, and Daddy bowled a 225 in his second game. There. Now, it’s on record.)

Everyone had a blast and I am so glad we found this opportunity to introduce bowling to the girls. I have a feeling we will be laying some more pins down in the near future!

For more information on the Lil Strikers Bumper Bowling League, contact:

Saddleback Lanes
25402 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
949-586-5300

Cal Elite Kids: The One Stop Shop

I’ve been excited for the girls to turn three because I have wanted to sign them up for gymnastics or dance class. They are old enough to be in a class with just the teacher, and not a mommy and me class, and they are old enough to tell me what they do and do not like, which they happen to be great at!

The mommy and me classes do not always work for a mommy of twins. I could never do the parent and me swim, because I was outnumbered. We tried a parent and me soccer class, but when they knew I was there, one would get clingy and one would get crazy. The mommy and me gymnastics was hard, because while I was helping one, the other one was probably jumping off the highest balance beam she could find. Mommy and me classes typically equaled stress for Mommy.

Finally, they could be in a class, that they picked themselves, and I had the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching them do something they love.

We stumbled upon a wonderful facility, Cal Elite Kids, in Rancho Santa Margarita, that offers a variety of programs including dance, gymnastics, swimming, tumbling, preschool and so much more! They also allow you to try your first class for free, which was magnificent!

First we tried gymnastics. My girls are balls of energy, so I was certain this would be the class they would choose. They were in the Tumblebees program, which is a 45-minute class designed for 2.5 to 4 year olds. It was absolutely adorable and I was pretty sure the deal was sealed when they saw the long trampoline they got to run across! But of course, I wanted to give them the opportunity to try the dance class before we made a decision.

So we did a trial class of preschool dance. They were in the Twirly Bees class, another 45-minute class designed for 2.5-4 year olds. The dance class started off with ballet. It was super cute, but I was still sure the trampoline from gymnastics would win their vote. Then, they got to put on tap shoes. Contest over. Dance wins. Shoes, that make music, on the floor? They were over the moon excited. All they want to do is wear their tap shoes now.

We also did a trial class of preschool swimming. The Waterbugs class is a 30-minute class designed for 2.5 to 4 year olds. There is a 4:1 student / teacher ratio in the class. They are introduced to age appropriate skills, that will progressively teach them how to swim.

Cal Elite Kids is fabulous and the prices are definitely competitive which is super important when you’re paying for two! It’s your one stop shop for classes, open gym, and yes, even parent’s night out!

Every Saturday night, parent’s night out is offered for children ages 3 and up, who are fully potty trained. You can drop them off from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. for $22 per child or 5:30 – 11:30 p.m. for $32 per child! If you haven’t had a night out in a while, here’s your opportunity, and you know your kids will be having a ball while you are gone!

We are so glad we found Cal Elite Kids and look forward to watching our girls faces light up with excitement, every time we walk in their front door!

Cal Elite Kids
22982 Avenida Empresa
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. 92688
Ph. (949) 589-1512
http://calelite.com

The Ultimate Preschooler Birthday Party

First of all…how is it even possible, that the girls just turned 3? I am completely baffled by that number. It seems like just yesterday I was holding two 5 pound babies in my arms!

Moving on…I think I may have found the ultimate, preschool-aged, birthday party venue!

This past weekend, the girls celebrated their 3rd birthday, with 14 of their friends, at Pump It Up in Lake Forest. The party was private, so the kids had the entire place to themselves for two hours!

What could be better than throwing a fabulous birthday party, at a super fun place to play, where jumping is allowed, screams and giggles are welcome, pictures can be taken for you, it was completely stress-free and best of all, you get to leave the mess behind!

There are several different packages to choose from when booking your party, which can be done online, over the phone, or in person.

We went with the deluxe package for 15 kids, which included access to the exclusive, Pump It Up invitation system (making evites a breeze), 80 minutes of private play (40-minutes in each arena), 2 slices of pizza per child, bottled water for each child (you also have the option of soda or juice), set-up, clean-up, paper goods, party photos, and amazing hosts! All we needed to bring was the cake!

40 minutes in Arena 1:

40 Minutes in Arena 2

40 Minutes in the Party Room

There are several other options you could add to your package if you choose, including additional party food (or you can bring your own approved food and beverages), party experiences (Go Glow!, Pirate Quest, Super Hero Training Quest, Boppin Balloon Bash), goodie bags and more!

Some important things to consider before booking your party, for safety reasons, children under 34″ are not permitted on the inflatables. Everyone who plays on the inflatables, must wear socks. Adults can play too!! In fact, I have had so many parents make the comment, “I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or adults!” and I couldn’t agree more!

We had such a fun time celebrating the girls’ birthday, that I would highly recommend checking out your nearest Pump It Up, to celebrate your little one’s next birthday bash!

Pump It Up Irvine 16871 Noyes Ave, Irvine
(949)261-7867
Pump It Up
Lake Forest
26242 Dimension Drive, Suite 100, Lake Forest
(949)951-9663
Pump It Up
Huntington Beach
16351 Gothard St Suite C, Huntington Beach
(714)847-9663
Pump It Up Anaheim Hills 5397 E. Hunter Ave, Anaheim Hills
(714)693-9663

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Big Girl Bikes

Birthday gifts arrive one day late. Daddy assembles. 
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Daddy asks girls if there is anything new in the garage. Katelyn finds bike. Chelsea finds old play-dough.

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Chelsea finds the bike too!

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The girls are wicked excited to be on their big girl bikes! 

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Time to take them for a spin! ???????????????????????????????This is where picture taking ends, since they had no idea how to use the brakes.

Goodbye, tricycles!

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