christmas morn part i

Santa came! Oh he sure did! I just love the way the tree looks surrounded by presents... and that it only lasts less than seven minutes makes it that much more special! Christmas morning Matt and I were actually awake before the kids and very confused about that fact... We padded downstairs and got our coffee going before we heard Letteria storm out of her room with a vengeance. We gently woke the boys and headed downstairs for some destruction! We got them to each open one gift at a time, waiting until everyone was done opening before moving on to the next. A Christmas Miracle! And it was still over so soon! 

and the third week of our advent calendar had us...

Day eighteen was supposed to be the tractor light show. But we changed it up when my parents invited us out to dinner. This is the first year in many many years that we haven't seen the tractors light up. I know that sounds very exciting doesn't it?? We did still see some lights though at the mall so. That counts!

our magical christmas eve!

Our Christmas Eve! What a night! I think I may still be recovering actually. The kids and me both. My parents always host a cocktail type party on Christmas Eve, and this year they just upped the ante! As you can see... we had a special surprise visit from the Big Man himself! 

school holiday parties

I feel like the entire month of December is one big party in school... the themed days... The field trips to hear the high school holiday concert... The big tree in the cafeteria. One strand of lights gets hung up in the classroom and it's off the rails! And then there are the actual parties. First up was David's Gingerbread Houses!

our first trip to skyzone

I'm sure we are all in some sort of Christmas-coma right now but if you've been around this blog for any length of time you know that I recap my Christmas activities well into January. All the activities. All the Christmas. It's just my process.

The Friday before the big day my sister-in-law and I took the kids to SkyZone for their toddler time with Santa. They also had free snacks and coloring pages. My first ever visit to SkyZone, as it happened to be. I kept having Bad Moms Christmas thoughts about the whole thing. I just love that movie! Anyways. The jumping! The entire place isn't open for the toddlers but Dom didn't mind one bit. He ran. He jumped. He threw foam blocks. And when his cousin arrived he repeated it all with her. 

cookie baking day!

Thanks to the bad weather last weekend we pushed our annual cookie baking day of stress up a week. It gets a bit hectic in there I'm not going to lie. We Trovatos are not for the faint of heart (notice all the bottles of wine in the following photos). The boys weren't included, thank goodness. Could you imagine how much worse that would be! So it was just us ladies, preparing all these yummy cookies in anticipation of my parent's annual Christmas Eve party. This year I brought in the big guns, Matt's mixer! Yes my husband has a mixer and no his "Surrender the Booty" sticker was not wife approved.  

dominic's fourth birthday party

Oh this party just did me in. Poor Dominic had a cold which yes, I feel bad for him, but the whining that accompanied said cold was almost unbearable. Constant state of wine. I mean whine. The kids were just so amped up and loud and in a mood to tattle! It's Christmas right, and we're all in misery. As soon as everyone left our kids went straight to bed and I went straight into remove all traces of this party from my home mode. I felt better by morning. And then I got to see all the lovely photos that my sister-in-law took of the night and I thought you know what Laur? It wasn't so bad. Afterall.

who dominic is at 4 years

Over the weekend this youngest child of mine turned four! Does it need to be said I miss having a baby? Now that we are fully out of the whole diaper/baby stage our freedom has been nice, I'll give you that... But there is just something about a baby! Someone have a baby I can come cuddle with please?

gingerbread houses!

Since the dawn of time we have always done our gingerbread houses with our old neighbors, our Fitzs. Or at least since the dawn of having a child. Same thing. This year we just couldn't make it happen and so it was just a solo affair, us Olsens. And three kits from the local grocery store. Not the caliber of a Steph creation but hey, you do what you can. 

Those kits are actually pretty fantastic and the kids had a great time making each one their own... and of course eating some candy and icing along the way. I don't even mind having their houses lined up on the school desks in the playroom! 

crinkle cake cookies - for christmas!

Love me a good alliteration. 

I made these for the home tour because they were easy and festive and they were such a big hit! I haven't given out a recipe that often in quite a long time! So I figured I would share it here as well. I doubled the recipe and got about four dozen cookies, depending on how big you make your balls. Ahem.

ladies who ornament at potteryworks

We always make ornaments. Every year, it never fails. I mean, it fails.... They rarely turn out like their Pinterest versions but we sure laugh trying! This year someone had the idea to head into Potteryworks and take an already made ornament and just paint it! Make a day out of it! How can we go wrong!? We left the boys and Audrey at home because well... bulls in a China shop, my boys.

A few of us chose to do just balls with a fun crackle glaze, my mom after much deliberation chose a stocking and Mikayla chose a Rudolph.  Just to give her mother some gray hairs and really test her patience. A week later we were able to pick them up! After painting and some issues with a parking meter we had ourselves a nice little lunch, just us girls. Some of these photos are taken by my sister-in-law and sister!

week one of our advent calendar

So we are (almost) a week into our advent calendar. Just crossing things off my festive to do list one day at a time! Annnnd this is what we did!

Day one was game night! Which I moved around a bit and made it a game afternoon. We never play games. Literally never. It never ends well. And it doesn't take me too long to remember why. But we played a few games. Fought a few times. Pouted even more times. And done.

kid ornament night and cousin christmas jams!

A tradition that I hope never dies is dressing up all my nieces and my nephew and my kids in matching Christmas jammies. It's getting to be a bit of a struggle when one considers finding pajamas in a size ten and then all the way down to a size nine month or whatever that sweet cheeked Aud is in these days. But we did it! Yet again! I just love each of these smiling faces so so so much!

a holiday home tour: the master bedroom and a bit of the bathroom

Blame. The. Tour. I usually only have one ceramic tree in our bedroom but obviously that would not do. And I couldn't be happier about waking up to Christmas. I didn't go too nuts here.... Some pops of red, inexpensive flocked trees from Target, pine cones, and some silver balls. Done and done. Except not because what steals the show in my opinion is that oh so pretty sign from the very lovely Sara at The Moxie Shoppe. Locals must check her out! I have so many things throughout my house from her place!

a holiday home tour: the powder room

This was definitely of the "blame the home tour" category. Because I usually don't do much in here other than my chalkboard. It can't be helped, is what I say. I hit up the dollar spot at Target for the tree on the sink... The garland around the mirror is also Target. There's just something about pine and Christmas is there not? The printables on the pallet wall I found here. As far as the shelves go I added some faux trees from Target, where else? I have purchased so many of these trees I have lost count. You can't beat that cost! And then Joanna's of course. Throw some pinecones up there too and I called it good! 

a holiday home tour: the family room

The big cahuna! The main event! The big tree! As I was decorating it this year I was like well it could practically be a Disney tree. Every big trip we take we always buy an ornament, and have since I was a little kid. And you have to get one for each kid too, so then that means I get four ornaments every time we hit Disney. So that's a lot of Mickey. It's also a lot of New England and a lot of the Caribbean. So maybe we should just go with it is a travel tree? Or a beautiful hodge podge of ornaments, new and old!

New this year is my entire mantle. I finally said goodbye to my Snowbaby collection (or gave it to Letty) and so I practically had a clean slate. I got the sign from Home Decor Warehouse, as well as the greens and the garland. I tried to keep it neutral and I love it so. Also new is our rug! Found at Target here. Bye bye natural fiber jute rug! 

a holiday home tour: the kitchen

The heart of the home! Surrounded by all last year's Christmas cards and so many of their smiling faces! I love having a festive coffee area and a place to show off all the holiday mugs I seem to have accumulated. I also love my galvanized tiered tray. I feel like it's my favorite thing to decorate through all the various holidays. And! My lovely friend Janelle went to Waco last month and she brought my back my very first ever real live Joanna purchase! I mean other than Target I mean legit Magnolia!!! Eeeek! Thank you lady!

a holiday home tour: the dining room

Not much changed in this space other than the addition of my beloved homemade shoe rack.... Which I mean, I just love so much! Give me some pine cones and some ornaments and I will make it festive! This is the story of my life this Christmas season. Pine cones. Ornaments. Everywhere. This room is far more neutral than the rest of my house and that always makes it a favorite of mine.

a holiday home tour: the playroom

I was going for more of a theme this year when it came to this room. Blame the home tour once more! The playroom is such a mess. So much color and disorganization! But I wanted it to sort of be like a Santa's Workshop.... Get it? The toys are allowed! He makes toys! My Santa collection always goes in there anyway so this wasn't much of a stretch. And why yes, I do have a Santa collection. Going on twelve years now. I got two new signs, the Santa bottle cap and the Santa Clause Lane from our local Home Decor Warehouse. The small stockings were from Target's Wondershop. I had Matt make that mail box for me. Well, I bought the actual box portion at the aforementioned warehouse, spray painted it red and added some gold powder to the letters, but Matt made me a stand. I think the kids are going to have so much fun sending letters back and forth with Cornelius, our nixy elf!

a holiday home tour: the foyer

I've been waiting to post my Christmas decor because I volunteered to be in my home town's Holiday Tour of Homes and so... Had to keep all the locals in suspense am I right? Wink wink. Hence the weird post at a weird time. I am even going to go crazy here and do two posts a day because hey, maybe I can inspire someone right? Gotta get it in before the season passes! We all know I have my house decorated for Christmas well before Thanksgiving and there were many reasons for that. One: I love it. B: It's a lot of work (six days with 20,000 steps per day work). iii) I had this home tour to consider. Four: I want to just sit back and relax and enjoy December (I'm also the type to get all her holiday shopping done before Halloween). But mainly: I just love Christmas. Like, it's the best. So. Anyways. First up on my tour! The foyer!

I finally got a foyer tree! Well, to be precise, two of them. I always thought a tree in the corner in the foyer would look amazing. And Matt always thought one in our foyer window would be amazing. So we got both! Blame the home tour! This is my first flocked tree and I. Love. It. I kept it real simple with just white and red mercury glass ornaments.... some pine cones I spray painted, big white snowflakes, some red sprigs of berries, and a fur ribbon as a garland. 

an advent calendar!

We have an advent house, gifted to us from my mom many moons ago and it currently gets filled with candy by that elf of ours, good old Cornelius. But I wanted something more. I kept seeing such pretty advent calendars on Instagram and it was like, why don't we have one of those!? I also thought it would take a little pressure off of me for the month of December. You know that self-induced pressure... did I miss anything?! Did my kids get to do alllll of the festive activities I wanted them to?? This way, I know we got it covered! At some point during the month!

another go at candylane

I'm of the school of thought that if you have a free evening and everyone is healthy and it's not raining you just go to Hersheypark. Oh but there are many other possible times to go! One might say. And yes, one might be right. But if I have learned anything from the past it's that you  just can't count on the weather and good health in the month of December. So. Our original plans had changed and we had a free Friday night and a heck of a lot of clothes and off we went! I was determined to see Santa and the reindeer and the lights show! Cold weather be damned!

our thanksgiving break

Oh time off from school! I'm such a fan! Mornings where we don't really have to be anywhere and we can do whatever we want... Heck, let's sleep in till 7! Shall we? We don't though, but we could. Our break started off on a Tuesday with a half day! I was a mean mommy and had Letty's tutor coming but we still kicked it off with a lunch out with Nonna and Aunt Beth and cousins!

Chuck E. Cheese's york grand reopening event

Last Tuesday afternoon, on the kid's first day of Thanksgiving Break, we had the opportunity to attend Chuck E. Cheese's York Grand Reopening Event. To say my kids were thrilled is an understatement. And what a way for them to kick off their break! We got there a bit early and the kids got a "swag"  bag including all sorts of goodies, but the biggest hit being the All You Can Play wrist bands and of course the cups that change color when they are cold. Both of which can be reused so I mean. All the refills forever? Amazing. 

our thanksgiving

Our Thanksgivings have quite the routine going. Go to my parent's house... whatever football game is on in the background and my brother and brother-in-law are parked in front of that for the time being. The fun festive drink is made and my mom and Matt are upstairs doing their Thanksgiving prep thing. We await the arrival of my uncle and his family and the lovely fresh meats and cheese that come along with them. And then we do a whole lot of eating. For me personally my favorite starts and ends with the anti-pasta. I think I barely ate any of the actual meal, which is just fine by me. Oh and then the apple pie of my sister's. That is a must have. 

And of course our Elf on the Shelf arrived. If I could go back in time to 2012 I would probably have smacked a younger Laurie for considering such a thing, but here I am, six years later, continuing on with the tradition. I'm not sure how much longer Letty is going to buy into this whole Santa thing... some of her friends no long believe and she has been asking many a pointed questions... just working her way around the entire issue. I of course think this is too soon and I am saddened by the thought... but for now, Cornelius is still a family member for the holiday sesason!

a tale of two saturdays

Last Saturday Matt and I had a wedding to go to and the kids were going to be spending the evening with my parents. They however decided to be just the bravest and take them to Hersheypark with my sister and her family. I doubt they will make that mistake again. I of course asked to be sent a ton of photos of what we were missing out on and my sister kindly obliged. I hear tell it was very crowded with a lot of ride closures. And Santa was just too popular and the line too long. We will try again, don't you fret kiddos! Huge kuddos to all for taking my kids to an amusement park without us! I applaud you!

happy thanksgiving!

Hey hey! Today is a wonderful day because it means that it's officially okay for me to have a house decked out in all things Christmas.... I no longer have be slightly embarrassed by myself when I pull in our driveway and the house is full of Christmas lights. So that's something to be thankful for! Which I mean, I could go on and on about what I'm thankful for these days.... I just love our life, as insane as it may be, and I wouldn't change a thing. I'm grateful for it. Except if someone could just figure out how to pack my kid's lunches automatically that would be the frosting on my cupcake.

Today we will be heading over to my parent's house as per tradition dictates. We have a fun new drink to try and I can already smell the cold cut bread baking! I go big for the appetizers and those straight from Long Island fresh meats and cheeses... I am ready.

So. Here's to a day that's filled with good food and even better company! I hope you all get to spend this day doing whatever makes you happy! Whether that's football or turkey or a plate full of mozzarella. Happy Thanksgiving to all! Let's do this!


our first snow. in november.

It's because I decorated my house for Christmas before Thanksgiving, this storm. As some people say. But no matter the reason we had our first snowfall. And it was a big 'un. Everyone knew it was coming and no one did a thing about it, it would seem. The roads were such a mess and come to think of it our development never got plowed. 

I made sure we were stocked up on the essentials (re: adult beverages) and was on my way to get Dom from preschool when the roads really started to get bad. I slid twice on the way home, and if you know me you know how much I loathe driving in such conditions. So I was really nervous about the buses coming home! The kids were dismissed at 12 something and I stood waiting in the snow for their bus, staring at the leaves on the trees amidst a snowstorm... while Matt shoveled a path for the kids. In shorts! After twenty minutes of such madness I got the call that the kids were staying at school because the roads were just that bad. Safety first folks! 

a family photo shoot

I am just the luckiest lady to have a sister-in-law who is also a photographer who generously agrees to take photos of me and mine year after year. The. Luckiest. And as always I just loooove the way they turn out! Even the ones where Dom is being well, Dom. It's just who he is at this stage in life.  I waited way too long to ask her to take these and between our crazy schedules and the weather we were able to find a day that worked... even if the sun was being shy and stayed behind the clouds. 

Thanks so much Ashley! If you're local definitely check her out! I know I'm biased but I mean... the proof is in the pudding. As they say....

a morning in antietam

We had underestimated the amount of time needed to explore Harper's Ferry and so decided to search for something else to do with our Sunday. Lots of options were discussed, Washington D.C., going to visit my brother at the fire house, heading home, etc. We decided to check out Antietam. You know, the whole bloodiest day in American history battlefield. Cheerful stuff for our Veteran's Day. I went once as a kid and I remember intensely hating it. Probably because I was a kid and well, annoyed at my brother. He always convinced my parents to take us to these Civil War things and that can be quite boring for a sister. I wonder if he would have been okay with a visit to say, The American Girl Doll store? Only fair...

some favorites on a friday...

It's Friday, it's Friday woo hoo! And I'm here sharing with you some of my favorite things as of late!  That are not Christmas related! The shocker! This post could also be entitled: Laurie is trying really hard to not be a frumpy mom and potentially embarrass her kids. That.

an afternoon in harper's ferry

We went away! Again! For the third time in something like five weeks? I don't know why we do this to ourselves. But we continue to. Over the summer I was chatting with a friend about small weekend getaways and she mentioned Harper's Ferry. Sure, I vaguely remember hearing about it in history class (re: it's mentioned in an Outlander book, I'm fairly certain). So I took to researching this cute little town (not a park, don't you dare call it a National Park) less than two hours to our southwest.

the kid’s fall parties

Let me tell you it will be a sad sad day in my world when I don't have the opportunity to go to one of my kid's class parties. I may cry. I haven't missed one yet! Here's to keeping that streak up!

First up was David's. They made cute little turkey pumpkins, played a few games, and had snacks. Really all that class parties are made of! And I'm no longer the room mom! I said I would for David's class this year... just to be fair to him. And he has the same teacher... so I thought, easy peasy! But they had someone else and hey, I'm not complaining! I got to just sit back and just help! 

final hersheypark in the dark

We really just try and get in as many trips to Hersheypark as possible. Must get our money's worth! This time we were down a brother-in-law and dad, and up a brother and family. It's just hard to get everyone! We rode a few rides and did the trick-or-treat trail once more because as you know, we don't already have enough candy at home now do we? We didn't stay too late as it was the night of Daylight Savings Time and see also a school night. Matt loves when I do this sort of madness to him. Just loves it.

trick or treating, 2018

Well it's Monday! Already! And here I am just getting around to our Halloween night! As we have done for a many many years, my entire family comes over and we order pizza and then go do our trick-or-treating thang. We are riding this tradition train for as long as possibly can!

rail trail on a warm fall day

An item on my bucket list was to get these kids back on a rail trail. It's really the best option as far as riding their bikes goes. Our development has driveways every twenty feet (am I exaggerating? Who's to say.) and that just makes me more nervous and the kids have to turn around and it just isn't fun for anyone. Rail trails are where it's at. They had a half day on Halloween last week and it was like, really warm. It was also the start of peak foliage so it was like the stars aligned and it just needed to be done. Ride those bikes. Cross things off the list. Look at the leaves. Check, check, check.

pumpkin carving

Here's the joke. The kids don't really carve the pumpkins. It's more like we carve and they enjoy watching and critiquing us. At least, that is what normally happens. This year I was at least expecting my eldest two to take the wheel and handle their own darn pumpkin. You will enjoy this! I assure you!

But first Nonna had a little Kubota ride in store for them in lieu of missing out on an actual hayride this year...

long island aquarium and then some

Our original plan was to take the kids to this farm. A Disneyland of Fall Farms if you will. It would have crossed so many items off my fall bucket list too! Hayrides! Pumpkin picking! Oh you name it. But as we have learned Mother Nature did not want Laurie to cross items off her bucket list. Oh no. She wanted to make Laurie's anxiety about missed traditions run high! But! Back up plan! The Long Island Aquarium!

lenz winery

Keeping up with the wine tasting we headed next to Lenz Winery. The weather was still being utterly rude so it was another indoor tasting for us! Oh how pretty these places must be on a clear fall day! This just means we will have to be back. That's what.

a party bus to macari vineyards

Our Saturday plans were partially ruined due to the heavy rain that was pummeling the island last weekend... It's raining sideways! But this did not stop us! Well, did not stop us completely. There are still vineyards!

we all took a trip to the island

Last Friday after school almost all of us Pennsylvanian Trovato's headed northeastward toward Long Island. We had ourselves a nice little weekend planned. Weather be damned. Which it wasn't because the weather had it's own plans. Rude. But. The. Traffic! Oh. The. Humanity! I pretty much expected it and all things considered we got there in four and a half hours which in the scheme of things isn't bad at all. But still. I'd be ragey if I lived there. You just have to prepare yourself, body, mind and soul, that once you cross the state line into New York the traffic will be waiting for you.

so what's new with you?

October went by in a blink! Actually all of my life goes by in a blink so I should just stop saying as much right? Because this is life. The blink. 
Christmas shopping is mainly done. And yes I have started decorating and to my neighbors I only half apologize. I love Christmas. I want to enjoy December as much as possible. I like to stare at my tree in a loving manner for as long as possible. And so it is that the day after Halloween I start this multi-day decorating process. It makes me happy and one should find joy where one can. Shouldn't one?

Matt and I have been going through the unfinished part of our basement and all the crap that we have stored there. Married twelve years and there is just a lifetime of stuff taking up room. In theory I would love to be a minimalist. Or live in a van. But then I think about the ten Christmas trees I have and I laugh at that whole idea. 

I am preparing myself for the next season of Outlander. It starts this Sunday! Gah! I rewatched most of season three and some of my favorites from the two seasons before that. I find myself giggling now and again remembering when they went to couples therapy. Oh how I have missed those two! Lord... you have given me a rare woman!

I've been really feeling this whole just spinning my wheels or whatever it is you want to call it, repeating the same activities day in and day out. And how much I just really hate it. It annoys me. I don't want to just survive this season of my life I want to enjoy it. But life is what it is and those papers need to be initialed and the lunches need to be packed and the homework needs to be done. It just does. There's nothing I can do about that save maybe home school the kids and that will never happen. So. It's down to perspective and attitude right? Just like everything else in life? I can only streamline and organize my life so much before it's as streamlined and organized as it's going to get. I'm a work in progress what can I say.

The kids the kids. They sure keep us busy! All the activities! Whatever they want! Except baseball because three days a week is too much for me. As long as they each have something. Their thing. Dom is too young for that of course but. The older two. I'm trying to get David to do this basketball league at the local rec. We will see!

And some new to me Instagram accounts! Linsey and Miko. I know wild right? Just two! But I spent most of October trying to clean out my account... remove the ones that I didn't even bother reading the captions and so on... It was cleansing to say the least!

So what about you guys? What's new with you?

Linking up with Kristen ! Thanks for hosting!
What's New With You


happy happy halloween!

Oh happy day! It's Halloween! And in our county that means trick-or-treat night! On a school night! Which as we all know is going to get a bit nuts so as we did last year, we got the cousins all dolled up in their costumes and Ashley took some awesome photos of them! Without all the layers! We went with a Star Wars theme again this year which they came up with on their own so, thanks kids! The Force runs strong with my family...