christmas morn

Hey hey it's New Year's Eve! Hope everyone will have themselves quite the little fun time tonight! Or just going to bed at normal time, you know, whatever floats your boat. Which is where we are, on a boat. What a way to spend the final day of 2019! A new decade coming our way! How exciting!

I must go back to last week thought when after only four hours of sleep Letty decided to wake up and shut the doors. Then shut more doors. All in a vain effort to wake up her brothers. She only succeeded in waking her dad and I up. So anyways we let the boys sleep in till 7:30 and then let her wake them (quite rudely I mean) for them to immediately hurry up and come downstairs for gifts! They just sat there kind of stunned for a few minutes blinking at the tree... the poor boys! I love sleep too!

They did eventually tear into their gifts with gusto and I think Santa pretty much nailed it. Each kid got what they asked for, a camera for Letty, an Echo Dot for David and a scooter for Dom. They each got some things to use for the new pool which is super exciting and what I am living for these days (after the cruise, of course). Lots of Legos later and it was done! 

our christmas eve

As per tradition my parents always host a party on Christmas Eve. They let each of us kids invite people that are near and dear to us which is just so great! Friends and family all together on Christmas Eve?! The best! There is tons of good food and lots of good drinks and it's just a merry good time! This year after a little convincing my parents hired babysitters to hang out in the basement with the kids and you know, keep the peace? It was soooo great to not have to worry! And all the parents were able to hang out on the main floor! Matt was especially excited about this new addition!

Of course a great many of these photos are my sister-in-law's.

annual cookie baking day!

Happy happy Christmas Eve!!! We are just so excited to celebrate tonight with friends and family! Tonight is like... The. Big. Show. Can you name that movie? Anyways as part of prep for tonight we always have to bake a whole bunch of cookies!

And as we tend to do my sister and mother and Lena and Letty get together to be sure that we are fully stocked in the Christmas Cookie department for their party! We went straight from school to Nonna's and got right down to it! Matt took the boys downstairs to just take the crazy down a notch. We made so many types and I lost count as to how many dozen but we did it! We got it all done in an afternoon! Which is no small feat!

And okay so I let the boys decorate one cookie each. They just aren't all about aesthetics. 

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I hope it is lovely!

a week of school christmas parties

We are officially on break and just living that dream.... but last week was the week of all the festive things at school. Each day had a different theme and there was parties on parties! Dominic's was  up first! They came in to the room in all their festive wear and sang a whole bunch of songs complete with hand motions, a lot for a kid to remember! I had Harrison with us too which was fun, such a good kid naturally. They had snacks and then Dom got to take home his little ornament! His teachers rock!

tiny town at christmas

Is just the very best kind of Tiny Town. This little indoor village is just adorable at Christmas. We try and take the little kids every December just because it is so festive! It is fun for the kids any time of year of course I just personally like it most around Christmas. Normally they have tons of greens and bows and lights but this year they changed it to a Gingerbread Village. Candy and cupcakes and all things sweet! Every building got a facelift and I had so much fun walking around and checking it all out! This is probably my final year going actually... since next year all my children will be in school all the week long and well that just made me feel all sorts of forlorn. So do not dwell Laurie!

This day was a little busier than normal due to a kindergarten field trip... which meant that we had to interfere a little more than I would prefer... some of those kindergarten boys were just down right rude! It's a dog eat dog world out there I guess! The staff did tell us that next time we should alert a staff member and they would take care of it for us which is good to know! But that aside the kids ran around and pretended and played for two whole hours before us moms were shot. Cousins are just built in friends for life! 

dominic's fifth birthday party

I just love how for the kid's birthdays people ask if we are having a party and I say, "no, we are just having family over for dinner and cake" yet it ends up being something like almost twenty people and well my friends, that sure is a party! 

Dom decided he wanted a Lego theme... which as we know is just paper products really. My cake lady went and had a baby (newborn cuddles, rude) so instead of finding a new cake lady I decided to finally try and make my own birthday cake for the kid. The baking part is fine but the decorating part is.... meh. In case you are wondering what's wrong with his cake.

gingerbread house night

For many a year, most likely something around eight years now, we have done gingerbread houses with our old neighbors. Usually Steph hosts because she is the fun parent and also a teacher and just knows all the cool things. Last year we just couldn't seem to find a time in our busy schedules to make it work but this year we were back together in full force! Except, I hosted and just used purchased gingerbread house kits... I know, I know, not nearly as fun as Aunt Steph but, baby steps! And I neglected to put down a tablecloth so you can imagine the state my kitchen table was in by the end of the evening. And and and! Coincidentally, this exact night five years prior we were doing the very same thing with the very same people! I just had a Dom on in the inside instead of the outside!

It's chaotic and loud, Dom threw fits, and there was just a ton of icing licked off of fingers. Hanging out like this reminds me of all the good memories we made over on Hillcrest and I miss them so! 

the nutcracker!

Look at me all posting on a rainy and bleak Tuesday evening... but alas! I'm just getting to a real computer and catching up on the goings on around here! And it's like, the busy season. So there is a lot to catch up on.

Last weekend a few of the Girl Scouts from our new troop got tickets to see The Nutcracker at a local high school.... I've never seen it before and really wasn't sure what to expect... seeing as the movie version that Letty watches all the time is well, a movie. You know, with words. This was not like that. This was all dance. Music and dance. No words. Letty ate up all the beautiful costumes and raved over the ages of the little girls dancing. She loved it. As I knew she would. Beforehand the girls and their mamas all went out to lunch, making it quite the fun little Saturday afternoon for us all!

kid’s ornament painting day and pop’s birthday

We always do ornaments each and every year and have since the dawn of my memory... This year the adults bowed out though and it was all on the kids. They need separate ornaments and our assistance anyways so... made sense!

Nonna picked up these ornaments that the kids could just paint however which way they saw fit, numerous paint changes and brush washes encouraged! The need to control their choices runs strong with me but I chose to look away and focus on said brush washing. They took days and days to dry and my most favorite and warmest of winter coats almost died because of them but! Worth it!

who dominic is at 5 years

I’m at a point in my life where I find it increasingly hard to believe that the baby of my family is turning five (this Sunday). He will head to kindergarten next fall... I mean what is that!? We no longer have a diaper bag or are required in the bathroom (mostly). Our children are far more self sufficient than we give them credit for. So while I mourn the loss of babyhood I do love the perks. The silver linings. My kids can get themselves dressed and fed and help out around the house? What is this???

a sunday full of festive fun!

So I am historically very busy the month of December. Like you want to get together with us I will probably tell you how about January? So that's why I have the advent calendar thing! To be sure we don't miss any of the little Christmas activities that somehow in my mind I deem worthy. But then enter this year and every day when the kids look at the calendar and want to know today's activity Matt or I just say.... no time!! None! Between tutoring, basketball, Cub Scouts, church, Girl Scouts and then the three birthdays that fall this month well.... things can't happen as to the advent calendar plan. However.... this past Sunday we had a free afternoon so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to play a bit of catch up on said advent calendar activities! 

Starting with making a paper garland...Which of course our playroom just needed. And an orange garland that I just needed. Then the kids wrote letters to Santa (I find it the most adorable what they deem fit to add to their cards). I had on my festive get lit shirt. The kids read The Christmas Story and made Reindeer Food....And then we started in on a few cookies... We made a list of what we wanted to make this holiday season and got two of them done, the candy cane cookies and the buckeye balls. A day at a time people, a day at a time!

we went to the big city and saw the big tree!

After the show we went to get ourselves some dinner. Or, the early bird special. This may surprise many of you but I didn't even think about getting a reservation until like, two days before the trip. And that turned out to be sort of hard to do with a party of seven. My sister and I found a few good options but nothing really hit all the marks. So we decided to go to 5 Napkin Burger in Hell's Kitchen. Because I love me a good burger and there was a kid's menu and good reviews and reasonably priced. But we had to get there by 3:30. So we sort of high tailed it out of the show and over there. I was not disappointed I mean that burger was banging. 

we went to the big city and we saw the rockettes!

Once we arrived in New York we got ourselves above ground of course... We headed through Times Square on our way to The Show... even catching a glimpse of the ball for New Year's Eve! We wanted to get a quick bite to eat before the show so we just popped in to Chick-fil-a.... and then we went right to Radio City Music Hall. Our tickets were checked, our bags were checked, the bathrooms were visited (such fun retro bathrooms right? Although they need more of them, desperately) and then we got settled in in our mezzanine seats. There were six seats directly by the balcony railing so we got them and then my mom was right behind us. We thought this would be best so the girls would have an unobstructed view. Which of course, they did. I got some wine and some popcorn and we were ready! 

we went to the big city and we took a train!

This past Saturday myself and Letty, along with the women in our family (minus Audrey, because: too young) all headed to New York City to see, among other things, The Rockette's Christmas Spectacular! My parents treated us all to this day and we have all been looking forward to it for months and months! And it finally came! Thankfully the weather was good and everyone was healthy! One just never knows during flu season am I right? He splurged and got us all train tickets so all we had to do was drive 20 minutes to the train station and then just sit and put our feet up for the next three hours, only to disembark in Penn Station! 

our thanskgiving day

We travel quite far on our Thanksgiving day.... just shy of four miles to our north, to my parent's house. Each and every year since the beginning of time. The kids play fight and hang with their cousins, Matt and my mom cook, and the rest of us just sort of wait around for all the eating to begin, which it does as soon as my uncle and his family arrive in from New York... bearing all the meats and  the cheeses. The foods. My dad's sister and her family came down this year as well so we had quite the group going! Twenty-seven of us I think if my counting serves me right? My uncle goes right to work on the cold cut bread too which is what I am here for. All the antipasto is my thing. The rest of the meal I can just leave but the goods from Long Island? Nope. 

As per the usual a lot of these photos are my sister-in-law's.

our thanksgiving break

I typically like to just book up our time off of school with all of the things in all of the land. Make the most out of it you know? This break was sort of an exception for me. There was a lot of days at home with nothing to do and the kids just playing... not a ton of big evening plans out or anything... Who am I?! But what we did do was eat. A ton of that! Which makes sense because ya know, Thanksgiving break.

Break started with a half day and typically we go out to lunch but this year I had scheduled all the kid's conferences for that afternoon. My mom watched the boys and they played in the leaves and had just the very best time while Letty went with us to school. She had to lead her own conference which was interesting but good. Then she had tutoring... so I treated her to Panera on our way there.

'twas the night before thanksgiving

And all through Lancaster County, all the kids in all the land went to Lancaster Cupcake for their story time and cupcake decorating.

Well, maybe not all, but definitely a lot. I took Dom to one of these last year and thought it was so cute and so when my sister found one that all the kids could go to I thought, why not?! But everyone was off of school and so it was quite chaotic. I'm glad we got there early and staked out a few chairs. The story was the Night Before Thanksgiving and then the cupcakes were turkeys. They sort of look like Hei Hei from Moana. In my opinion. We listed and then we decorated and then we went on our merry way. 

And see also our old neighbors showed up too! Twice in one week! What are the chances!

frozen ii

Letty was the prime age when the first Frozen came out. She was instantly obsessed. As soon as was possible she watched it daily. She couldn't wait to meet Anna and Elsa (which she has, quite a few times, thanks to her Poppop). She has had a Frozen birthday party. She has seen Frozen on Ice. She has all the dresses to play dress up. She. Loved. It. 

So you can imagine how excited we were to see the sequel! Six years later! We went with my mom, sister and sister-in-law and nieces. And of course we had to have them in matching shirts because have we met? My mom treated the girls to their little snacks and we settled in to be entertained! I'm sure you've all heard that the movie is wonderful albeit a little dark at times. But that Olaf is just the best comedic relief ever! 

And surprise surprise! Our old neighbors were there too! Just like the first time! And even in the same row! What a world!

david's class thanksgiving party

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? Full of all the good things I hope?

I'm still playing a wee bit of catch up, starting with David's class party. His teacher wanted it to be a Thanksgiving type party instead of say, Halloween. Which was fine with me, gave me more time and all of that. I came up with a few games and some activities, and then an Indian corn craft followed by snacks. Which I figure is how every class party should end. With food! David seemed to have fun! And I think it is so wild that he has like four kids from his baseball team in his class! I mean out of what, seven second grade classrooms in this elementary school alone to have that many? Wild, absolutely wild. And for once I feel like he's getting himself a little tribe going you know? And they are all such good kids I am a major fan! 

dom is some indian

Well it is official. This was our last preschool Thanksgiving thing. It's our third, and our final. Dom was just the cutest little Indian there ever was! I loved watching him act out the prayer and he just is so so cute for his teacher! If only he was so sweet and cuddly all the time right? There was a ton of food there! Dom had chips. And a cookie. And the tiniest bite of a cornbread muffin. And Mrs. Olsen? Well she just waited till she got home to eat. Potlucks... You feel me. 

tree farm photo shoot

All of these gorgeous photos were taken by Wishbone Photography for you locals.... And I love how they all turned out! How does one choose just a single photo for one's Christmas cards? I mean, first world problems and all of that, but still! It is such a good thing that these shoots don't come with audio because you can  be sure that there is a lot of yelling (oh my end) and corralling and repeatedly asking the kids to stop running or tickling or whatever.... and somehow Ashley captures just a ton of really nice photos that make you think wow, that family has it together! And well, we don't. But Ashley sure does! She works magic behind that lens to be sure.

Anyways so I could have just shared them all (and I wanted to) but I narrowed it down to just a few (ha) of my favorites. Thanks so much Ash!

olsen thanksgiving

I don't know how you and yours handle in-law holiday situations but me and mine? We always pick another day and call it Olsen Thanksgiving. This way the food is spread out... the time is spread out. It just makes it all the more enjoyable not having to pick sides or rush from one family to another and hey! My waistline appreciates not having to eat two meals in one day. Bonus: for Olsen Thanksgiving we rarely have the typical fare, normally Matt does Italian. Just like I like it.

We were missing Matt's youngest brother and his family but alas, I wouldn't leave Florida either so, we get it. It was just a day of hanging out and catching up and of course lots of food. And lots of cousin play time!

a christmas candylane visit

I'm going to go right on ahead and annoy a whole lot of people but here we are a week prior to Thanksgiving and yes, we got our Santa visit done already. We had a free Friday last week which is such a shocker during these final few months of the year and it wasn't raining and it was (sort of) not too cold so I'm sure you know we just had to go. My sister and her family and my mom joined us as well. My father is on a Hersheypark Boycott of sorts. It just isn't Disney right?

christmas decor tour: the kid's rooms

If you are still with me then I applaud you (mom)! I thought I'd throw the kid's trees up here just for memory's sake!

Letty's Christmas decor is all things pink and girlie and she does not care a lick for that to change. Last year I entrusted her with my Snow Baby collection and that still gives me some emotions but she is nine. She (should) can handle it. My mom got me one every year (just like with the ornaments) and the one of the Snow Baby on the swan's back was given to me the year I found out I was finally pregnant (December 2009) and it is of course the most special. So it is fitting that Letty has my collection. Now don't break them. Please!

christmas decor tour: the master bathroom

This too was a last minute addition last year when I was on the home tour.... But again, I'm so glad that I did it. I love the garland and the pops of red and green in this room. And well yes, there are palm trees in my bathtub. We are trying to baby them through the winter. We shall see. In the meantime there's a punch of tropical in an otherwise winter wonderland...

christmas decor tour: the master bedroom

We made it upstairs so we are getting places people! I added decor to this room last year before I was on our town's holiday home tour... and I'm so glad I did! Since last Christmas we also installed a mantle and faux fireplace in there so you all know that had to be decorated!! And then that husband of mine said he thinks we needed a tree in there and well I made that happen faster than even I thought possible. Speak it and it is done! I stayed with reds and whites and silvers for the tree.... and the mantle. And as always I am loving the sign above the bed! It's just so cozy and the perfect place to end our day!

christmas decor tour: the living room

The living room always houses the main tree... this is the one with ornaments from my youth, an ornament each from the year we got engaged, married, got our first apartment and bought our first house, all the kid's first's and an ornament for each of us from every vacation we have ever taken. Well, mostly. I don't think I got one from like Great Wolf Lodge or Shenandoah... shame on me! It's always fun to hang up the ornaments I got in Italy, or Barcelona, or Maine, or Alaska, or Canada, or Disney (so so so many Disney ornaments it could practically be the tree's theme!), or all of the Caribbean ones we have collected over the course of ten cruises.... Every year my mom got us an ornament that symbolized something that happened over the course of the past year, and I've been trying to do the same for my kids. This year Letty got a black cat in a Santa hat, David got a baseball mitt and glove, and Dom chose an astronaut, since that is what he was for Halloween. Third child problems. Let's go with that.

New this year is the whole shelving situation above the tv which I really didn't do too much to. The room has a lot going on with the tree and the gallery wall and the mantle so that is probably best. So for now I put up a few greens, some pine cones and some silver ornaments. Wink wink.

And as always there are the photos of my kids with Santa each and every year.... how about baby Dom in a Santa hat right after he was born? Almost five years ago now! My baby is five.... I'm feeling things. Nera! Come cuddle with me!

christmas decor tour: the kitchen

The kitchen kind of turns out like a big giant present. All the ribbons on the cabinets pretty much make it so. That's where I hang all of last year's Christmas cards from friends and family and then when I get a new one I replace it. My other very favorite thing to decorate is the galvanized tray on the island. New this year are the little antique Santa mugs! I mean, totally practical thing to purchase right? Not even big enough for the kids to use but still! Love me Santa mugs!

christmas decor tour: the dining room

I have loved the transformation this room has gone under since we moved in here almost six years ago... I love this neutral version the most. During the holidays this is where my wine tree and my wine Santa reside. Every lover of wine should have fun decorating a tree in all the things wine! This room is also basically a green house. And that is because it is a south facing room and the kids aren't really supposed to be playing in there so the plants are generally safe.... for now. Nera will soon be the next one I have to train to not play with my plant babies.... 

christmas decor tour: the playroom

Turning left from the foyer you'll enter into the most insane room of the house, the playroom. I've recovered a bit of this room from the kids since last Christmas, but it is still their room. Their little school desks are in there, the dress up station, and of course all the toys in their bins and assorted crafting supplies. It is what it is and someday I am sure when the room is cold and lacking life and noise and matchbox cars I'll miss it tremendously. So I call this room Santa's Workshop. Fitting with all the toys and such. It's also where I house my Santa every year since we got married collection. Quite a lot of them now! Normally they are all on top of the bookshelves but this year I sprinkled some throughout and I like it! All the Santas!

christmas decor tour: the foyer

I decorate super early. I do. And that's ok! And it's ok if you don't do it till after Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve or not at all, I don't care! But for me? I like to get it done riiiiight after Halloween ends. It is no small feat, typically taking me 5-6 days to get it all up and everything. So it is worth it to me to stand against all the judgement because once December hits I can relax and just enjoy the holiday season. So. Anyways.... it brings me joy and every room in the house should have twinkle lights in my opinion. From now till March, at least.

Up first, the foyer! A lot has changed in how I decorate for Christmas over the years, including the addition last year of this gorgeous foyer tree! It's the only flocked one I have and I just love it. See also the bunch of trees up on the foyer ledge. I tried to keep my crazy hidden from my neighbors for a few days but once that ledge is decorated the Christmas cat is out of the bag....

trick-or-treat night

Our town always has trick-or-treat night on Halloween, school schedules be damned! But this year the weather was supposed to be quite nasty and so after much debate on social media and what I can only imagine multiple nasty phone calls to the township it was rescheduled for the following night, a Friday. Annnnd spoiler alert, the weather would have been nicer had it not been changed. Because Friday? It was so so cold. All the layers. 

Because of this change in schedule we also were missing my brother and  his family as they already had plans Friday. So missed they were! We had dinner as we do beforehand and then it was time for the donning of the costumes! When I think back to the first few Halloweens and then compare to now, wow! How much has changed! How much easier it is now and so much more enjoyable! I don't have to psychically dress each kid! As much as I lament the loss of babyhood there are some perks to be sure!

so what’s new with you?

October was like, the fastest month ever can we agree on that? Baseball and field hockey (well, one league and then we started another. And basketball here soon.... Letty is doing all the things) finished up last month and we have been slowly reclaiming life as we know it... with Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts and church and so on. So you know, still a lot.

a second grade field trip

Having two kids back-to-back in grades is starting to really throw me. Not to mention the weird parenting time warp thing and I'm all sorts of confused. Didn't I just have a field trip to Zoo America? Like, yesterday? It sure feels that way. And yet here I was, again, with a child, heading on that bus to Hershey.... to the zoo. 

Slightly different of course because instead of having a group of girls to watch I now have a group of boys. Only three, thank the heavens. And they are such good boys too so that helps. We had some time to kill before the nocturnal animal program... during which we wandered around and tried to stay as bundled as possible because goodness it was a bit nippy. The boys especially liked the spiders and snakes of course! What is not to love! 

The show was the same as last year, the skunk of course got huge squeals out of the kids. And then it was time for us to shiver and eat our packed lunches before heading home!

pumpkin carving night

Last week we all got together as an extended family for our annual pumpkin carving night! The kids act all cool like they actually do the carving and well, they don't. Except Letty, she went totally off the grid and made it up as she went. It sure helped too that my mother had emptied out all the pumpkins before hand for the kids. No messy hands for her grandchildren, no ma'am! David wanted to do a ghost but didn't want to touch a knife or a saw and Dominic wanted Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas because he is a boy obsessed but again, he didn't touch the knife. Another year in the books! And of course a whole lot of these photos are my sister-in-law's.

pumpkin glow painting

Every year since my brother and his family moved to Millersville we have been heading there to watch their annual Homecoming Parade. Last year Letty was with a friend because she is too cool for school and then this year lady friend had her final field hockey game. So. Us Olsens missed the parade boat. But we still were able to join for the second half of the festivities, mainly lots and lots of carbs and then pumpkin painting! Ashley got glow in the dark puffy paint this year and the kids just had the very best time!

happy halloween!

I sure hope it is nice and dry wherever you are at the moment but for me and mine it is a day of rain and pretty bad weather. So bad in fact that the entire county changed their trick-or-treating day. So my kids will have to wait one day more. But here are their costumes in all their glory, as taken by my sister-in-law. Mal, Bumblebee and an astronaut for this year's totally uncoordinated Halloween!

letty’s fall party

This year I am "room mom" to both of my kids. Well technically a half of one to Letty. Either way, I have sucker written across my forehead and there you have it. I remember a better time when I didn't even know what a room mom did. That was fun wasn't it? But if there is a need and no one else to help then there I am, I guess. Last week was Letty's fall party and better believe I am taking notes from the veteran mom who is the other half of said room mom. Keeping it all in my back pocket for when it is David's party next month....

The kids had some games, relay races with pumpkins and make a mummy and jenga towers with an apple.... and then it was craft time followed by the kids favorite, snack time! With the cutest of cupcakes!  I was so happy to get into her classroom as it hasn't happened yet this year... I have been dying to get to know her friends and all of that. So. An education, as it were!

the time the gym gave out candy

Last week our gym had their first ever trick-or-treat night. Which sounds kind of contradictory... and it sure was... but it was actually a pretty great night! Sure something like three thousand people came (when it is free I mean what does one expect?) but we got there early and got our candy on right away. Early bird gets the candy and all that! 

I let the kids wear their official costumes which I never do but I figured it's inside what harm can be done? There were something like thirty tables set up, a lot of local companies and the like. Which is genius if you think about it. They had the baseball diamond open and some field hockey sticks out as well as an obstacle course and a huge room full of music and balloons. All about the candy this week am I right? I actually thought it was a great success! I never imagined we would spend over an hour walking around collecting candy so that's always a nice surprise.

disney on ice!

We all know we are a Disney family yes? And when Disney on Ice comes to our (sort of) hometown we always find a way to take the kids there. This year's was so so good! Most of the time I feel like oh we have seen this song or this movie or that princess done before right? Well this year it was all so new and with more stunts and affects and the new music from the new movies and we just loved it so! Mary Poppins and the new Aladdin especially! And Moana, of course. Because we could all use some more sun.

hersheypark in the dark... with no rides

Well, next to no rides. And just don't get us started on that, to be sure... 

Every fall Hersheypark reinvents itself as a spooky but family friendly place and every year we make sure to go.... more than once. You're welcome Matt! The kids wear their costumes and they have a trick or treat trail and there are fun fall lights everywhere. So this was our first chance to go.... Annnnnd such a disappointment! So many of the "kid" rides were closed... or one attendant was working two rides so the lines were ridiculous... and yeah. Not a good time. I think maybe the kids got on two or three rides.... we even walked over to the zoo which never happens just trying to make the trip more worth while. The only highlight was the dripping in butter oh so good soft pretzels.

pumpkin glow at hershey gardens

Last Friday night my parents and sister and her family took the kids to Hershey Gardens for their annual Pumpkin Glow (thanks Nonna and Pop for treating us all!). Tons and tons of carved pumpkins, flashlights, some candy, all in all a festive evening of fun! The weather cooperated too and it was quite nice out, even if a bit chilly. The kids got to wear some costumes, although mean mommy is making them save this year's costumes for a bit longer. Oh and to those wondering Dom was Spiderman but pushed his mask back so he just looked utterly ridiculous all night long...

nera, meet the blog. blog, meet nera.

We used to be pet people. I had a cat in college... Matt grew up with hoards of cats his entire life. When we first got married we got a kitten... and then another kitten... and then a puppy... collecting pets to ease the pain of the fact that we were not in fact collecting human babies of our own. But then human babies came and with that a whole slew of emotions and well... the pet hair! The less than desirable other pet problems! We slowly found better forever homes for our original pet babies and declared ourselves a pet free household forever and ever amen. Not even a fish! That was Matt's final statement... Not even a fish from a fair that you know will only last the week! Nothing!!!

And then a few years ago on a cold cold wintry night there were two tiny (but so fat and fuzzy) gray kittens on our back deck. And Matt just thought.... oh... wouldn't it be great to have kittens? He went out to try and save them from a night of blistery chill but fate alluded him and well, no kittens. We have talked about it time and again since that night but we never came to the official 'okay let's make this happen' stage. Until, Nera (which means black in Italian, you know me and my Italian names!).

annual gettysburg day trip

Matt and I have been taking trips to Gettysburg in the fall since before we were married, and I just kind of love it. It's only an hour or so away, I always enjoy seeing the sights, the kids love climbing all over all the things, and well, it's tradition!

The kids were off for Columbus Day and so Matt took off so that he could join me. I'm not sure I would have bothered taking the kids solo again... although, we will never know.

david's room got a little lift

I was making the beds the other Thursday (as I do on Thursdays) and I just decided that well, David doesn't play with Thomas the Train anymore nor does he watch Blaze and the Monster Machines so why oh why is this poor unfortunate middle child of mine still sleeping with those sheet sets!? So I decided to buy him new ones. Sports ones, of course. And then that led to a look around his room at all his pirate and beach themed goodness from when he was a baby and well... maybe it was time for that to go as well? And then that led to painting the entire room. So. New room for David! And does anyone else totally feel like they are in their very own mom version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? No? Just me?

And just for fun here is the original before and after of his room when we initially moved in. Gives me feelings, seeing that glider... I miss my babies!

one sleepover to rule them all

My niece turned five recently if you recall, and her mother decided it would be fun to have a lady cousin sleepover... a spa sleepover if you will. They basically did all the things. Played with their Our Generation dolls, pretend school, ran around outside, homemade pizzas, spa masks, fire pit, The Greatest Showman, and and and and. Basically a ton of fun was had. All of these were taken by my sister-in-law of course!

farm show week!

Last week was our hometown's annual Farm Show! It's a thing we do.... Animals and tractors and lots of your typical fair food. And of course the boys had field trips, Letty I guess is too old now to do such things. First up was David's! We wandered around and they completed a photo scavenger hunt and of course there was a whole lot of giggles about all the poop. Animals are fun. We were also the baaaaad chaperones and let our group of kids make their own jump ropes. It's actually pretty neat to see how it all comes together although I'm sure their teacher was none to pleased to have them come back into the classroom....

the walk for dyslexia

You may be wondering why there is yet another dyslexia related event happening over here with us Olsens and that is because October is Dyslexia Awareness month. I know. Who knew? Dyslexia "is a disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words." Basically a disconnect between what letter a dyslexic person sees and what sound accompanies said letter (phonological awareness). I used to think it meant switching letters or seeing a letter backwards, which does happen, but it is so much more than that. It affects processing what a person sees or hears, or coming up with the right word to form an answer to a question, or remembering sequences, or difficulty pronouncing a new word, or spelling, or the time it takes to complete any activity that involves reading or writing.... So basically, a lot. 

If you have been around here for awhile you know that Letty has always been concerning... She had great difficulty as a toddler and even into preschool learning shapes, colors, her letters... She took awhile (long long while) to learn how to spell her name or when her birthday was... She struggles to remember people's names and frequently switches out her friend's names that have the same number of letters and start with the same letter. She constantly says "thing" or "stuff" because she struggles to recall the word she wants to use to describe something. Her reading level is far below grade level and the time it takes for her to read even the simplest of texts is exhausting. She is self-conscious and anxious when she is asked to read something. But she gives maximum effort. She tries so hard and is the very opposite of lazy. She is so smart! She is a creative thinker and loves art. But she also recognizes her difference. This video helped her get a broad understanding of what was going on in a way that didn't make it seem like a bad thing...

She was tested multiple times before public school and we were told she would outgrow it, but once she started first grade it became more and more obvious that something was up. We got to know individuals who knew the ropes and they really encouraged us to have her tested and get her an IEP. Which we did. We got her a tutor and got her on the waiting list for The Children's Dyslexia Center of Lancaster. Which is a non-profit that offers free tutoring to approximately thirty students per year (this year, Letty is one of those students). The cost of this (for the center) is as you can imagine quite a lot and so they do several fundraisers and awareness type events during the year. This walk being one.