annnnd david's friend party!

Also known as the last of his birthday celebrations!

So rookie move here, I didn't cap him at the number of friends he could invite. And so he invited nine of them. Which adds up to ten boys. In a pool. I just wasn't mentally prepared. It went so well though so don't get me wrong. It was just three hours of counting to ten repeatedly. And boys are easier in some ways, no drama or tears or fighting... and yet harder in others because all. they. do. is. jump. From the top of the deck mind you. 

david's seventh birthday party

Our kids get two parties. One for family, and one for friends. So up first on Saturday last was our family party! David had chosen a minion theme which was interesting but not entirely surprising. Everything was decked out in yellow and there were bananas and silliness ensued. We had some swim time first of course because hello have we met? We have a pool and if the sun is out we are using it!

field hockey summer camp complete!

Field hockey camp! It's such fun, each time they have it! And the friends that Letty is surrounded by are the absolute best! So last week was their summer session, and on the final day they all went swimming! This year just up the street from us! Best friends forevvvvverrrrrrr!

a birthday boy's birthday

We are just all about David around here these days. As it happens to be, around my children's birthdays. So. David's birthday fell on last Thursday and we did our best to make it special, even though his sister had field hockey camp. I let the boys sleep in and Matt was able to drive Letty to camp to make this happen. He got up, he opened presents, and then we headed out to get some coffee (for me) and a donut (for him). He got the donut for free and then we ran to a park quick before getting Letty.

some summer moments

Another week (ish) over! These days are just full of all things summer and fun and they are going at break-neck speed! So in the latest installment of What We Did This Summer...

The boys and I bought Letty her birthday gift, Mamma Mia tickets.//Swim days//Another ice cream stop on the trail, this time all the way in York County.//A triplet play date while the bigger kids had their own play date. A rare sight indeed!//Fireworks upon fireworks practically in our backyard//Play date with friends!//A visit to where Matt and I got married. Including an unexpected tour inside.//The kids had an epic night swim, complete with s'mores and a telescope moon viewing!//
I know once July Fourth hits the summer tends to fly by... What am I missing people? What? All the things!





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mill creek falls

Must find falls! I always love a hike with like a big draw. Either a good view or something that just makes it more than a walk in the woods. Not that there is anything wrong with that! These are relatively close to  us... if you consider driving forty minutes close... Just head south and right before you hit Maryland turn right and go across the river and there you shall find Mill Creek Falls. Matt banished hikes as of last summer until conditions improved. Meaning, until Dominic stopped complaining about walking. The older two were made to hike... but the baby of the family? Nope. He whines and all hiking ceases to be. 

I had read that this hike was less than five minutes so I thought we can handle this! Dom can handle this! It turned out to be less than five minutes. You could hear the falls from where we parked our car so. Winner. We walked around and the kids played in the water and if anyone nearby was trying to find peace and solace and enjoy the falls I deeply apologize. They were much bigger than I thought they would be! Photos of falls can be quite deceiving. We then had lunch on the river and checked out Holtwood Dam before heading to get some ice cream. Checking things off my list one item at a time!

the rest of our fourth

Typically we head to my parent's neighbor's house and hang out with a bunch of Greeks on the Fourth but this year they are in Greece (rude) so we were on our own. My parents had us back to their house for some foods and some sparklers. Thankfully we had a firefighter right in our midst.... Because safety first people.

All the good photos are my sister-in-law's, as it were. I totally overstepped my auntly boundaries and just took over with all the babies. If Harrison wanted to do a sixth sparkler who am I to say no? I feel like I am duty-bound to say yes! Always yes! And I may have accidentally taken away Audrey's first sparkler from her mother too... Which I am so sorry for! I am living for these babies these days. 

a rainy fourth afternoon

With the installation of our pool I was always excited to host our Fourth with my family. I had a pool growing up and it was always the best day of the summer. Tons of family and good music and of course fireworks! We don't do the fireworks of course (because hashtag: dangerous) but we can have the pool and the swimming! Except then the rains came. And the sun stayed away all of the afternoon. But we still had the family and some swimming! Gotta take it when we can! The babies can nap. We can snack and have an adult beverage or two... and the bigger kids can swim and swing and play. 

Whatever did we do without babies in our lives? Am I right?

a fourth of july parade

Every year that we are able we all trek over to the neighboring town of Lititz for their parade. It's usually insanely hot. This day was no exception. We have learned over the years to have dinner outside of Lititz, just something simple, pizza! Then we drove over and sat at our usual spot. Which we will not be doing next year. Laurie of the future? Find another place to situate ourselves. It sure is pretty, where we sit... but this year must have been a new parade route and so there we all are, a half hour before the start of the parade, sweating... and waiting. For over an hour. And then when it does finally happen to cross our paths it just sort of sits there and waits for awhile. So anyways, other spot it will be! Trying to keep seven little kids from falling over the edge of insanity is no easy feat. It takes a village! Did I mention it was hot?

The kids do love this parade though! They get a ton of candy and love running out into the street for it... And lots of flag waving and clapping and cheering and the like. All with cousins! The things we do for tradition! And of course any photos worth their salt are my sister-in-law's.

cows and cream. of the iced variety

If you follow me over on the Instagram then you know that a friend of mine told me all about the PA Ice Cream Trail. You hit up at least five of the places on the list and get a stamp in a passport and boom! Free t-shirt. Since I would have done most of these anyways it just made sense to do it! 

My sister-in-law also decided to do this trail and she asked last minute if I wouldn't mind going to one with her... straight from the gym. Because that's how I roll these days. Gym first. Then ice cream. We decided on a place we had never been before... Probably because it was so far away and in the middle of Amish country. Lapp Family Farm. They did have quite the array of cute cows and the ice cream sure was good. But beware: it's cash only! And don't dress inappropriately. They don't like that.

another week of summer things

Just assume I'm like two weeks behind here...In the second-ish week of summer we...

Explored Central Market//Visited my Grammy//Biked on a new trail//Checked out another cafe//Visited yet another ice cream shop on the ice cream trail//Went to Parade of Homes with some of my friends (sans kids of course)//Got a visit from the ice cream truck//Hung out with family inside and out//Swam a whole lot//Got more ice cream//Went to a park//Back to Central Market//Watched a few summer-esque movies (Sandlot, Space Camp and Jumanji. Up on deck? Hook!)//More swimming//David finished up his first baseball camp//Hersheypark!

raspberries!

How are we already into July? Does anyone else feel like once the Fourth of July hits summer is all but over? I have this big desk planner that I use to organize my kind of crazy and I always have two months up on the fridge at a time... so as a month ends I throw that one out and then add the month after next.... Well let me tell you it actually caused me pain to write the words "first day of school" on August 26th. I'm not ready! 

You still have almost two full months Laur... deep slow breathing....

Back to summer and a yearly tradition of picking ourselves some raspberries! This might be the most useful fruit picking we do, as we freeze a whole lot (relatively) and use them the entire year long. In drinks, mostly. Plus I just love me some raspberries with my yogurt. This is such a pretty farm and I always love the view so much. And this day? It wasn't a million degrees so the picking was actually enjoyable! 

a kids camp wrap up, a week later

Our church doesn't do like your typical VBS, they call theirs Kids Camp. And it was last week. Every night from 5:30-8:30 the bigger kids and I were there in our matching shirts. Navy for the older art group and yellow for the younger sports group. Each kid can register for a "track" that they can focus on for the week. Music, drama, dance, sports or art. I helped out with Letty's group because that is just what I tend to do. And after a week of hanging out with those soon to be third graders I felt like I had been through the ringer!

Letty got to do all sorts of fun things! Paint a tree, do a self portrait, use a drill press and then a blow torch... I mean things that little girls dream of! And she sure doesn't mind spending time with her lady friends! Neither do I, if I'm being honest. I didn't get to see David too much of course but he had the best time playing all different sports with his friends! And on the final night after we had our milkshakes and the kids all showed off what they worked on some moms celebrated! It was well deserved!


pineview dairy and cherries

Cherries are in season and of course you know we are all about our fruit picking around here so the first chance I could get I took the kids down there (it is so far away, I mean 35 minutes feels like a lifetime when the three kids are in the van with no devices). I packed a lunch and we went to Pine View Dairy first, because it's just down the road a piece from the orchard. We saw baby cows, we ate our lunch, and we got our ice cream. Well, the kids did. I would be a thousand pounds if I got ice cream each and every time they did.

a beachy father's day

After all that fun in the sun yesterday Aunt Sue decided she could use a little break from it on Father's Day, and so our original plans of heading to horse island changed to just heading over to the beach. We were going to leave right after an early dinner anyways so it made sense not to drive the boat all the way down there, especially while the air show went on another day. No more tsunamis! It was Father's Day but I still squeezed a final run in first... And then beach day! It was so stinking cold down by the water though! Again, that doesn't stop the kids. When we were even more tanned and sandy we went back for a quick dip in the pool before heading home... 

a beach day

Our first full day at the beach started as they always do, with me driving to Uber Bagels and then running three miles before picking up said bagels. Matt needs him some Asiago Bay bagels. Four of them, to be exact. While I was running around the kids woke up and got their fishing rods all ready to go to head to the bay when I got back. No one caught anything this time though, not for lack of trying! It was so windy and chilly that Dom and I didn't last too long...

we went to the beach and david saved two turtles

We spent our weekend last down at the beach visiting with Matt's aunt and uncle, as we have tended to do these most recent of Father's Day weekends. I personally think it's so special for Matt to spend that weekend with his dad's brother. And the kids get to do all sorts of different types of things. Like sit on pontoon boats and set up crab pots. 

We left right after Letty's tutoring session as it was sort of on the way and got there mid afternoon on our first day. The kids wanted to swim even though it was cold so that is of course what we did. David being David he was checking out all the pool filters and to my dismay lifted up this what appeared to be black chunk... I immediately was like drop that! Until he told me it was a baby turtle. And what's more is that there was another one stuck in there as well. So we fixed that right on up by sending them back to the bay.

We  had dinner on the deck back at their house of course... Letty is super in to helping Aunt Sue with the dishes which I mean, who am I to hold her back? She also got to start in on this super fun craft with her as well. Fun aunts, I'll tell you. We spent the rest of the night sitting on the deck and watching the massive storm from the north roll on by, all while staying dry ourselves...

And the best way to start a beach weekend, with a fire!

hersheypark at night

I know we go to Hersheypark when it is dark out a lot in the fall and winter... I mean they don't call it Hersheypark in the Dark for nothing right? But there is just something about going during the summer that makes it different. The weather is infinitely better, for one. And there are no bedtimes. That's huge. 

I dragged Matt along.... Which this may come as a surprise to you all but he doesn't like Hersheypark. I think he is parked out. He doesn't really go on rides so it's more of a support mission. He helps me with Dom and I go on all the thrill rides. So to ease this trip we went to dinner (with drinks!) beforehand. Nothing like eating a ton of food and then riding all the coasters in all the land. I had this amazing steak salad with all the blue cheese and it was seriously just amazing. So if you go to Houlihans in Hershey I am fully vouching for that salad.

Letty was allowed on a new ride for her this night, The Great Bear. She is like riiiiight on the cusp of being the next height category so I guess it depends on who is working the measure stick thingy.... We also got a glimpse of our future as she took off in her little convertible all by her lonesome. I finally put my anxiety aside and took the big kids on the adult swings and yeah no thanks I'll sit that ride out from here on till forever. Not only did it make me want to puke but my anxiety was through the roof.... Those things go high, people. Like, real high. And fun fact? When I got off the ride my iWatch asked me if I was currently swimming... So there's that. 

a week’s worth of little summer things

I have my list, as you can imagine, of things that I want to do this summer. If I did not have a list then things would be missed or forgotten and I cannot allow that. So. Our first week (ish) of summer break and we just hit the ground running with all the little fun summer things! Like hitting up a local restaurant that has quite the deck and a playground right there and hey, island music playing! We also had swim dates with family... We took the kids to a favorite park of their's, it has a zip line and they talk about it alllllll the year long.... We also hit up the Jigger Shop with our family and the park they have there as well.... Our church's "VBS" called Kids Camp is also happening this week..... 

And we are just getting started!




family farm days

We go here every year. And I do wonder why we keep going other than for the free samples and the fact that it's tradition... But those samples are really good! Chocolate milk and ice cream? Plus maybe a side of popcorn? Yes, you ride a tractor through a dairy barn which smells icky and is dirty but hey, these kids need to appreciate the agriculture world right? 

a pretzel tour!

Last week on a rainy day my friend Janelle came up with the bright idea to tour a local pretzel gem with the kids, which as you may know is right up my ally. I went to this once before but honestly didn't remember much from it other than the kids got a free bag of pretzels afterwards. This place is called the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Factory for you locals and it was like, $12 for the tour for my four.

We got a brief history all about the pretzel and then the kids got to twist their very own little pretzel before checking out the ovens and then of course, free pretzels. 

smile fearlessly + a giveaway

For years and years my dentist has been encouraging me to get myself an electric toothbrush. She said it would help my gums (among many other things but that was her particular reason for suggesting it to me, personally)... as some of us (ahem, me) tend to do we nod our heads and then go  home and go on living our lives... just to repeat the entire scenario in six months. Well a few years ago I decided I would finally pick one up at Target... the cheapest one I could find because apparently the health of my gums is at the bottom of my budget priority list. And it's been working... Nothing special about it. Vanilla, if you will.

When Smile Brilliant (do you remember them? They got my teeth all pearly white?) contacted me asking if I would be interested in checking out their cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrush I was super excited! Not just your run-of-the-mill toothbrush here, no! And it even matches my bathroom color scheme so so well!

What else do I love about it? It has five different brush modes, my favorite are the massage and the sensitive settings, because my teeth are as neurotic as the mouth that wears them. It has a thirty day battery life which means I can take it with me on vacation unlike my old brush. It's way cuter and sleeker and easier to clean. I won't even show you my "before" toothbrush - it wasn't pretty. And what else!? A timer to let you know when you've done enough brushing! This is genius! And I say "timer" loosely... the toothbrush simple pauses for a second so you know it's time to move on to another quadrant of the mouth. 

Need to know more? Check out their FAQ page here.

the drive-in!

There is just something that screams summer about the drive-in right? There is to me anyways. We did this two summers ago and it was on my list for last summer too but we just never got around to it. It's sort of a big undertaking, driving about 45 minutes each way and then you have to be there super early to get that prime spot so basically it's like six hour time investment. So it was the last day of school and a gorgeous  night, not too hot and we thought okay, this is it! We do this right this very day or we just know we won't make it any other time.

We packed snacks. Oh the snacks. Bags and bags of snacks. Even a cooler this time! Because: provisions. The Secret Life of Pets 2 was playing first... of course we all knew we wouldn't make it to the second movie. We set up our little shop in our van complete with private potty station and the kids played with their iPads and read library books and of course: snacked. The movie started right at nine after the prettiest of sunsets and the kids were asleep by the time we hit the highway...

last day of first and second grade

The older they get the faster it goes by am I right? And then I went and put them in the same clothes from their first day to do like a side-by-side comparison and they just look the same and yet so different and the feelings that time passing brings! I officially (as of last Friday) have a second grade son and a third grade daughter!! How that is even a thing is beyond me. No thank you. But also thank you!! Healthy kids growing on up and being their happy but somewhat crazy selves? How lucky are we!?

end of year things...

June, and May to be in fact, are just this sprint to the finish line. Get all the things done in the shortest amount of time all while somehow feeding and bathing your kids and not forgetting their special snack or their lunch. Or their shoes. 

my beachy favs as of late, with formulate!

Oh it is beach season baby! We have ourselves a few beach weekends coming up this summer and we must be prepared for this! I got myself some new suits, including this black number that is an adventure in tan lines.... a new fun tassel cover up.... and new beach bag (because as a family of five one is never enough, never, never!!!) that just makes me feel like I am on a boat in Nantucket or some such thing. Just throw in a book and maybe some sunscreen for Letty and I am set! 

But let us not forget the beach hair. Beach hair is just like, the best hair. The salt water does something wonderful does it not? But as I am a charter member of The Dirty Hair Club, I do not get my hair wet at the beach. Or the pool. I create my own beach hair. Last September I shared with you all my new found love of Formulate. A company that makes good for you shampoo and conditioner, tailor made to fit you and your special hair needs.

So here I am, nine months in, and I'm still using the same bottles. I probably have only one more wash left before I run out so I was super happy to get replacements! 

our memorial day

As per tradition dictates we always head to Lititz to watch the little parade they have there on Memorial Day. We park at my brother's and the whole lot of us walk down there to wave our flags and clap at all the service men and women. Wave those flags kids. Wave em!

a sunday swim day

Sunday spin at the gym... and then Sunday brunch! Or as they are more commonly known in my family, a power breakfast. All the foods. We still had our visitors but this time it was Matt's turn to cook. After all of the eating some people went to the shooting range, some went off shopping, and some (us, always us) stayed and swam! And yes, Letty is in the same top from yesterday but when we learned they all had matching tanks I had to wash it for a photo!

a morning in lititz and an evening with family

We are the tradition that never ends! Every Saturday before Memorial Day we all take the kids to Lititz Springs Park for some play time for them and then we go to the Bullshead for some playtime for us. It's also my brother-in-law Colton's birthday weekend so it's sort of a thing. We cheers the Big C and hang out. In red, white and blue clothing.

the waterpark! and hershey!

You know me and my Memorial Day Weekends right? And if not, allow me to elaborate. All the activities. All the weekend long. All the patriotic wear.... annnnd go! Or I suppose I should say, andiamo!

So the kids had a half day on the Friday before Memorial Day and I took them straight from the bus stop to Hersheypark. We met up with my siblings and their kids too of course because we travel in packs. We are pack animals. We did a few quick rides before heading to the water park area. It was a season pass holder only event so we thought it wouldn't be so busy but it actually kind of was.... The kids still had fun though as they tend to do when water is involved.... and my head was spinning from the constant counting I do when I'm a solo parent and there are crowds.. 1, 2, 3... good. 1, 2, 3... good! 

strawberry season is upon us!

Oh this is such a thing I so love to do! All the fresh fruits all the summer long! I have it down to a science at this point, what fruit I can pick what month. I was so surprised when my local farm put up on their Facebook page that they were open for picking before Memorial Day... that hasn't happened in forever! I waited not so patiently for the kids to get off the bus before I whisked them off to pick up some fruit! Six quarts worth, to be exact. The boys were in to it for about five minutes before they moved on to more important things, like rocks. And staring at the watering pipe. Letty though is quite the helper and prides herself on finding the very reddest and bestest of berries.

a weekend of pool days

We just about had the best pool weekend two weekends ago! The weather was finally on board with us want to be Floridians! It was hot, the sun was shining (mostly) and we just had a wide open weekend to be filled up with all things pool! We invited over my siblings, Beth and her family making it on Saturday and Ash and the girls coming too on Sunday. My parents joined in on our shenanigans as well. Matt spent all of Saturday morning blowing up pool floaties from their winter hibernation and that just means, it's summer time people! It was just two solid days of squeals and splashing. With a lot of eating, oh all the foods! Oh and meet the newest float: Unikitty.

preschool: a year completed

It's a bit funny (or maybe the right word is ironic?) how the first child starting school is near earth-shattering... and then the second is like okay we know this drill and it's sad but I have a Dominator to contend with so I'll be okay and then the third comes along. I was sad when he started of course, marginally less sad than with David, but sad. I recovered faster though, I mean, two and a half hours twice a week is really like next to nothing... I know everyone and their mother is discussing this time warp thing but goodness. His first day was like yesterday! And then here we are his last day and I didn't even go to pick him up from school! Matt went because my van was in the shop. So I missed his last last day of his first year of school! Follow that logic? And it's okay. We are all okay.

the deck is ready for summer!

It is Memorial Day and for a whole lot of the country that means being outside... Doing that outside thang. BBQs and pools and family and friends, oh my! We spend so much time during the summer out on our deck and in our pool that getting it juuuust right is so important to us.

It took us a little bit this year to get her all gussied up for summer but we got it done just in time for a glorious weekend of sun a few weeks back! More on that later of course. It may or may not surprise you that I loathe our deck. I hate the color of it. It needs a few new boards here and there, and well, it could be a whole lot larger. Some day! So with that future goal in mind of enlarging and replacing said deck we decided we wouldn't stain it this year and instead opted for a new rug. As big as we could get rug. I also had to spray paint each and every chair as they rusted during their first and only summer. Don't trust the reviews people, those chairs are not outdoor friendly! We also got some new palm trees that are just so nice and big! I changed out what I put in the flower pots this year as well.... and my mama got me the most glorious succulent centerpiece that ever was!! I am obsessed with it and it is my precious.

You can see the deck last summer here. I always say final and that's always a joke right?

some bits of life from my camera roll...

The in between.... you know as in like, real life, everyday life. So to document!

The insane amount of laundry that I folded after twelve days away.//The first day back to Bodypump was.... ouch!//Our first weekend back from vacation our neighborhood had a yard sale... I didn't really sell but my friend came and set up shop along with a bunch of girls who wanted a lemonade stand. Matt made it and everyone brought something to sell and the girls made like $15 each! Lemonade stands are not what they used to be.//We mulched and decided to add another garden bed when we discovered we had far too much mulch.//Spent literally the entire day on day with these two beautiful women. It needed to be documented. From Race to lunch to setting  up for the yard sale to dinner to drinks to some of their kids staying for a sleepover I mean. It was a day of days.//Cinco de Cycle! Spin followed by drinks! We so festive.//The Food Truck Frenzy that started with rain and ended with an early bedtime for all.//Coffee date with a friend.//Playing with Olsen cousins in the mud and rain. And no ticks were found!//Aunt Beth took Dom out for some ice cream and an impromptu Happy Meal, the lucky duck!//The end of another hockey camp, love me those second graders! Almost third graders (staaaahp!)//The bigger kids had their end of year Carnival at school. With a side of friends and chaos!//Our first fire pit of the year with more friends! And s'mores!//Letty and I went to see her second cousin in High School Musical, the brainiac.//

spring blossom photo session

I know these photos were taken a little bit ago and you may or may not have seen them here or there  on the internets but it is my blog and this shoot must be documented. Not to mention I just love them so much and they turned out awesome!

Everyone should have a photographer in the family, in my opinion. Also of note would be an electrician, maybe a hairdresser, a mechanic, a pediatrician, a plumber.... The list goes on. We are very lucky to have my sister-in-law who is always up for a photo shoot with me and my five! She had some extra slots during one of her mini sessions before we left for Florida and I just snatched that right up! 

kicking off summer right!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!!! This is it! The start of it all! While school isn’t over, yet, I’m all things summer in my mind. The kids have a half day today and we are just chock full booked of fun all weekend long! You know me and the summer, the Summer of Yes! The Sandlot summer of your childhood! These are the things I want for my kids! I don’t know if I succeed, but I sure try! Dirty feet, chlorinated hair, late nights.... ahh what a dream, summer is!

Here is our summer bucket list (because one cannot have a Summer of Yes without a list that one can check off, now can one? Yes, I’m a Monica), which is pretty much just like other years. Meaning, all the things!! I also thought I’d throw some photos up here of the patriotic decor I’ve added around the house for summer just for fun!

And just think! Only eight and a half days of school left! Only eight more lunches!! Mama is doing a dance!

gretna glen field trip! again!

Wasn't I just here? How has year gone by already? These moments I've been having lately like wait... We just did this. But sadly we didn't just do anything... It has been a year. Twelve months have gone by and we are just doing it all over again, a year older. This field trip I was really dreading. Which I know, who am I? But I hate the dirt. And I knew David would be all about said dirt. I tried to get Matt to tag in for this one and he was like oh hell no so... It was me! I put David in clothes I cared nothing about and crossed my fingers!