we live here now...

And we will stay that way until the cold weather chases us out of our heated pool. I stand by that.

I joked around several times the first few weeks that the pool was open that I needed a Sign-Up Genius. People could sign up for their slots and bring whatever drinks and come and use the pool. We just had quite the long list of family and friends that we wanted to have over and swim! And we are getting there! Working our way through... So if I haven't gotten to you do not fret! I am trying my best! In between pool swims and family and friend hangs there has been a Baron Bookmobile and ice cream truck night... a few more Fourth celebrations.... swimmer's ear for Letty and baseball season for David. Life continues on, despite everything else. At least now, we have ourselves a pool.

fourth of july during covid

Lots of our traditions were missed this year... the parade in Lititz being a huge one. But we still tried our very best! Matt got me some more fresh flowers which I just really love having! My sister and her family and my parents came over for a day of swimming in the very hottest of July weather. We brought out the festive swim suits and the festive drinks and the bomb pops and had ourselves a bit of a barbeque. All the foods! It got a little touch-and-go as we waited for fireworks time... the kids went into the basement to watch Sandlot.. the adults had some coffee in hopes to stay awake... we even watched Fourth fireworks from the Magic Kingdom on youtube. We tried, is what I am saying. We had a few sparklers to go through and that was as one can expect. Fire and children is always a bit nerve wracking. 

And then we walked across the street and up to the baseball diamond to watch some fireworks. And what a show! For an hour and a half they were going off right over our heads... not to mention the two professional displays we could witness from up there and the countless others going off all over the county. Such a view! It really was the very best way to end such a strange Fourth of July!

we put on our redneck hat for the day

I did this once before, just at a different location and we had such a blast! This time I even brought the Dominator and Matt with us! My friend Toniel loves to do all the things and she knows all the things that are to be done. So she found this tubing spot and brought the tubes and a bunch of friends and after I asked her about a hundred questions off we went! I mean, there was a floating cooler. In a tube. It was quite the deal. 

The kids were a little cautious at first... I mean I get it I don't like wet sneakers either but once they got settled in with their friends (and with us, as in Dom's case) they loved it! They got off their tubes too at some point and even swam and splashed around a bit. 

And I had a Coors Light. 

the “finished” pool

I say finished with quotations because we still have so much we want to do out here! Matt is currently building a play set that was started after I took these photos... and we want to make a little patio under the birch for our fire pit and Adirondack chairs... Matt needs to stain the exposed foundation again, yes I see you Mrs. Williams! We did it once but then the concrete guys kinda got stuff on it again but it’s on the list! As I am typing this we moved all our stuff off the patio so it could be sealed and all that so we are just a litany of projects around here. But! We! Have! A! Pool! And we love it and are in it daily! The weather has been super hot and sunny and while I could use some rain over night I mean I shouldn’t complain!!

So here it is. Our favorite place to be right now...

a pool progression...

This is going to be a post and a half.... To say the least. But I thought I'd share some photos of what the whole in-ground pool process was like from the very start to the very (almost) end.... I'll share the final product of course but for now here is the backyard transformation! 

This has not been a project for the faint of heart! It was  messy and long and full of fits and starts and long waits in between any activity... but now that it is all said and done I know it was worth every single step along the way. Our backyard was a mess of dirt and mulch since last fall and then with Covid pushing back our install it was even more frustrating.... But all that to say it is done! And we are so in love with it. I can't wait to post all the photos of what it looks like now!

some stills from when life started to feel more normal...

Things started to look up. They are still up, up here anyways. We were able to get out and see people... go to restaurants... we stocked up on masks for the kids... Letty plays field hockey with her friends and David plays baseball on the field next door the same night.... drinks with friends while the girls play on a slip and slide...The. Bulls. I went to swim at my brother's because our pool wasn't done... there were fireworks in our development... then we went to swim at my brother-in-law's because, you guessed it, our pool wasn't done. There were outdoor fitness classes available through our gym and I was there for it! I returned all the kid's school stuff.... More Bulls! And then we swam at a friend's house because.... our pool wasn't  done!

cherries and pineview!

Oh me and my traditions. I love to pick fruit in the summer. All the fruit. So when the cherries opened up I made it my business to get there as soon as I could! With my mom and niece Lena of course! We had ourselves a picnic lunch at Pineview Dairy followed by ice cream before the picking... usually we do the opposite but it was just how the cherry fell this time. The cows were so tiny and cute and one had a thing for Nonna's shorts which gave us all a giggle.

the kid’s first restaurant since march

We all had too much sun the day before to do any sort of outdoor hanging on our last day at the beach. Which stunk. I really like to enjoy all the beach I can when we are down there... but alas. One must be smart. The wind was still pretty cold though so I don’t feel too awful about that.... Case in point: how I found Matt that morning... bundled up on the deck.

the beach!

We are early risers. Really early... It is actually a bit unfortunate. But at the beach that means we get prime real estate. Socially distant and all of that. The water was a bit rough and had quite the undertow so it wasn’t ideal boogie boarding conditions... Sand castles were made. Holes were dug. I read.  We didn’t realize just how bad the uv strength was until much much later because it was almost a bit chilly with the wind and I dealt with those repercussions for quite a long time. Lesson learned. But it was a solid day with our feet in the sand and the sounds of waves in our ears...

we took a boat to assateague

We just love doing that! We load up the pontoon boat with all the crap in all the land and head south to the island of wild horses. Which, in all our visits we have only seen one horse one time. Yet this trip? Well, we saw a ton. So so many. And a baby! And they hung around! But first! Dolphins! A school of them! Also a baby! I mean I can’t even. What a day of days! Dolphins. In. The. Bay. It was like a dream. The photos just don't do it justice but it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.... I have a thing for dolphins!

But first, I ran. And had the coffee.

we got the heck out of dodge

And went to Ocean City! We go here every June to watch the air show which, of course, was cancelled. But Matt’s aunt and uncle still wanted us to come down and we were just so thrilled! A different four walls! The water! The ocean! So excited!

The first day we got down there it wasn’t the warmest so we just hung out in their house and set up the crab pots and the kids used nets in the bay dragging up all sorts of wildlife. We cooked and cleaned up dinner... just relaxed. And most importantly, we were not in our home. I repeat: Not. In. Our. Home.

a niece! again!

Most people didn't even know my sister was pregnant.... but she was, of course! And so I want to welcome to the world (a few weeks late) Tenley Rose! You are perfect and the sweetest, most chill baby of all the times! Everyone is doing just marvelously and just enjoying all the baby cuddles! To have a light in the midst of all this mess is such a precious thing! Tenley you are so very loved already!

last day of school traditions

Just because the end of school wasn’t traditional doesn’t mean that we can’t keep traditions alive!  Or try too. Normally when the kids get off the bus in our development the parents are ready and waiting with water guns and water balloons. The kids get soaked! Etc. Since there was obviously no bus this year I posted to our development’s facebook page that we should all meet by the basketball courts and come fully armed. 

We had a pretty good turnout! What I wasn’t expecting was that the kids would commandeer the guns and then the parents would become the victims. Rude. 

the last day of “school”

Our computer broke. I’ll blame it on that. I am currently sitting at my old childhood desk that my Poppop made me, using my daughter’s laptop that her Poppop gave her, because that’s just what I have at the moment. I’m honestly finding it hard to focus and get things like blogging done. I sort of forgot about it for awhile... And don’t get me started on the glacial pace of my reading! Not sure what is happening there but reading is definitely taking a hit this pandemic. Reading and blogging.

So the other day I was just looking through photos on my phone and it occurred to me that I never posted about the bigger kid’s last day of school... Or online learning... What have you. Among a whole lot of other things I suppose. So here it is, twenty days late... their last day of school.

So on that final day I made them get dressed up and take photos like I normally would. What a strange school year this has been for them! Starting off normal and all of that and then all of a sudden I’m their teacher and they don’t go anywhere or do anything and they really didn’t learn too much and there is a lot of anxiety and stress and confusion and unanswered questions... It really wasn’t the year anyone wanted now was it? They missed out on so many fun activities and field trips and carnival and field day and and and. It goes on and on... And we are the lucky ones!

life lately...

Basically being safe at home (see what I did there?) means that we do a whole lot of eating. All the foods. We are up to day seventy-nine as of the time I am writing this so basically we are into the eighties. So when will I stop counting? I'm not sure. Maybe when our county gets to green? Maybe when I can get my hair  highlighted or go to the gym? Maybe when life feels more normal again? We are getting there though! Life is slowly coming back on and I. Am. Here. For. It.

So what have we been doing lately? Besides eating all the foods and getting all the take out that is? We are still in school... so that is fun isn't it? Although today is their last day and even though I've had my babies home with my for seventy-nine days I am living for not having to do anymore online learning. It has been such a thorn in my side all this time! I mean it is what it is, and I am thankful it is even an option but a home school teacher, or any teacher, I am not. We have been having popsicles at Nonna's. Pizza parades. Kitty cuddles. Ice cream cones. Bathing suit organizing. Meeting a friend's puppy. Foods. Riding bikes on the rail trail. Taco nights. Bathing suit shopping like whoa. Minty adult beverages. Trying to copy salads from our favorite restaurants. Sunsets. Trying to teach division. Pool construction watching. Reading. Celebrating Nonna's birthday! With slushees! School work on the stairs. Cuddles with Dom. More take out. A much needed mom break in the tub. Flowers and bomb pops. Pizza on the patio. Hot tub hangs with friends. SPARKLERS. A sickly Dom. A visit from Letty's Girls on the Run coach. Water gun battle and slip and slides with friends. Pool update. More tacos. Dirt arrival. Pool day at my brother's complete with s'mores. Lunchables. Picking up a gift card for David's teacher and then delivering it. Homemade pasta and sauce. Field hockey on the turf with friends! A broken iWatch and tan lines. More flower purchasing. Cooler as water gun filling station. Garage hangs during the rain. Pizza parade. Celebrating a friend's birthday. With adult friends as well! Swimming with cousins. This should have been the month of pizza... And a 5k!

our memorial day

Our actual Memorial Day started just how everyone wants their day to start.... with a kid throwing up. Which is pretty odd seeing as Dominic doesn't go anywhere. We have been seeing family of course and some close friends but no one we knew was sick. He is an avid hand washer at this point almost to the point of obsessiveness... So this was strange. He spent the morning sleeping it off and then by lunch woke up and asked for food and water guns. So there's that. 

We stayed home from my family's bbq because of that just to be safe... I contend that he drank too much hot tub water at a friend's house the night before, but we shall never know.

So we tried our best. We brought out the water guns and bomb pops... set up the sprinkler and just played outside. Matt, the fun parent that he is, came up with the idea of using old painter drop clothes and making a slip and slide. What a major highlight that was! David requested a formal dining room type dinner and so the kids and I set that all up and Matt grilled and I made mac and cheese. It wasn't the normal Memorial Day... but it was the best we could make of it.

silver mines and a treasure hunt

Next up on the lets not let mom get depressed during a holiday weekend trip, Silver Mines. Our neighbor had taken her kids there and recommended it. There is a short hike, some mines and caves to explore... and then of course the hidden treasure. Uncharted Lancaster hid some gems under a bridge and after the kids discovered them they each got to take one  home! This made it the best day ever. Officially. Until mom or dad committed some minor infraction in which case the day quickly became the worst day ever. But either way I thought it was fun and special. We will definitely be checking out more adventures from them!

After we got the gems and sanitized them of course we went to a nearby park where Matt grilled up some burgers and hot dogs. Just living the dream, these Olsen kids!

middle creek and fox meadows

Memorial Day weekend is one of my favorite weekends in all the lands. I know what the meaning of the weekend is of course, I just add on to that meaning. It is almost summer... school is almost done.... and I'll have my babies home with my for months on end... oh wait.... 

For some reason it really hit me that weekend... the whole stay-at-home order stuff. More than Easter... more than Mother's Day... So I tried to find things we could still do that are fun and different and well... socially distant. So we drove to Middle Creek to go on a short walk and ended up seeing not one but two snakes and not one but two turtles. Letty was absolutely petrified by the snake in the path and I'm not sure she has entirely recovered even now... But it was good to get some fresh air and see different surroundings.

it has been forty days...

ish…. Since my last post about what we have been doing during quarantine. Forty days. Forty nights.

What have we been doing? Well, what have we all been doing? In our house we have been cleaning, walking, playing on screens far too much, working out, getting take out to you know, balance the working out, doing school work with or without working ipads, dressing alike, having pizza parades, eating bad junk food, virtual tutoring, kitty cuddles, bedroom forts, reading, more take out, socially distant walks with my sister, picnics, flowers, chalk drawings, mask wearing, socially distant Rita's with friends, Nera had her surgery, more bad food and more working out, trashing our back yard, dyeing the tips of my hair red, zoom meetings upon zoom meetings, fishing, eating, more eating, more cuddles, chasing sunsets whenever I can, birthday parades, food trucks, more take out and bad weather and more flowers, beer, a fortieth birthday for a friend, socially distant family hangs in the driveway, tie dye all the things, chores, watching the pool being dug, more socially distant family driveway hangs, a newly fixed laptop, the pool as it stands now, the kids getting lost in the woods, eating more food, more picnics, and seeing my family whenever we can. 

So basically, we are surviving, not thriving.

our socially distant mother’s day

It sure feels a bit weird to be dusting off this little space with an update... it has been almost a month after all, which has never happened once in the six (?!) years since I started blogging.... And then our personal computer decided to just tap out a few weeks ago so I am using my daughter's laptop newly refurbished by my dad.... big things happening. But then not. Life is a bit like a hamster wheel these days. We wake up. Fold laundry. Empty dishes. Have coffee. Set up the kid's schoolwork for the day.... work out. Shower. Chores. Check their work to be sure they are doing what they should be doing and helping Letty with all the stuff she needs help with... And then hopefully getting outside for a few hours before showers, dinner and a movie. That is about it. Oh and maybe sprinkle in a half a dozen zoom calls. And I am just so very tired of it. 

So last Sunday was Mother's Day. Matt woke me up at a reasonable hour (one good thing to come out of quarantine... my kids now stay peacefully in their rooms until 7 am at which point they ninja their way downstairs where they then play quietly with their iPads) with coffee and thin pancakes and some homemade cards from the kids... as well as a totally applicable t-shirt to remember the times... He did all the things for me as he tends to do... We spent most of the day just hanging out within these four walls.... what else is there these days? 

our easter

This Easter was nothing like the last. Last Easter involved runs along the beach and a sunrise... a beautiful beach day and an amazing Italian dinner... Oh did I forget to mention we were surrounded by family? Well. It was the best. And Florida. I digress. Needless to say, this year was different in just about every single way it could be. 

But I wanted to make it as much as I could. We started our day with baskets of course. After the seven am wake up call. The kids unfortunately were gifted with a whole lot of stuff for our pool. The pool that is not being installed for who knows how long. So salt in the wound Easter Bunny. Salt in the wound. But they were excited none the less. Slides! Goggles! They got mostly things they needed or could use anyways... A new hoodie and baseball shades for David... Pajamas for Dom and Letty got new shin guards for hockey. I'm so fun.

We also had a giant Zoom meeting with as many of my dad's side of the family as we could muster  up. There was something like 12 screens going simultanously and I'm sure you can imagine how loud and chaotic it was. But so fun! Then I made everyone get all dressed in their Easter best for a delicious dinner whipped up by who else but Matt. He make spaghetti and meatballs... garlic knots and a napoleon for dessert. The kids watched Peter Rabbit while he was doing all of that... and all I did was force people into uncomfortable clothes and set the table as fancy as I could. I tried to make it nice!

Everyone was happy to go back to our quarantine finest as soon as dinner was over. But yeah. So Happy Easter!

a socially distant egg hunt

Other than this year (or the one Easter where we were sick) we spend our Easter doing a family egg hunt. The kids, that is. So to have to do an egg hunt without our cousins and without my parents being able to watch was very upsetting. For us all. So my sister got the idea of doing egg hunt shifts at my parent's house. We bring our own eggs that we stuffed ourselves and hide the eggs outside and my parents can watch the festivities at a very socially distant and responsible distance. It wasn't ideal. But it was better than nothing.

We took a "shift" on Saturday. It was a bit cold but at least the sun was shining! Letty and I hid the boy's eggs and then she hid in the van while I hid her's. We go youngest to eldest in our family... not sure why that tradition started but it has been the way it has been done for as long as I can remember. Dominic had the backyard... David had the driveway with all of Pop's scattered vehicles about... and Letty gets the front walkway and porch area. They found the eggs. They ate the candy. And then they played for a bit before we headed on home to our four walls. It was a forlorn sort of festivities. But we make the most of what we can!

annual easter egg day

In an effort to keep things as normal as possible I really tried to keep traditions alive for the holiday as much as I could. One of those traditions being dyeing Easter eggs. And for the first time in my life, I did them without my family. Which probably weighed more on me than it should have. But I am a traditions-type of girl. And a love-my-family-a-whole-lot-type of girl. But the show must go on! Coronavirus or not!

I just had your basic dye kit for the eggs that I had added to a grocery order the week before, thank God for order pick-up am I right? I didn't even bother blowing the eggs like we usually do... Hard boiled it was! And we didn't do a ton because well: COVID and all that. Save the eggs! 

We FaceTimed Nonna so she got to  join in on the fun for a little bit... not the same! She gave the kids the idea of using white crayons to write or make designs on the eggs so... That Nonna! She is so wise! The kids actually took their time which was quite surprising. Once the eggs were dry then they painted them with some shimmery paint that came with the kit. And then off they were to play while I was left to clean up the mess. Despite the circumstances I think it was a great success!

and on the 28th day...

I wrote this blog post. So there is that.

Our days have been blurring together as I am sure they are for most of you.... we take care of ourselves and the day-to-day chores... Anyone else doing an inordinate amount of dishes? We started online learning at some point in the past week and a half and that had some things that needed to be figured out but we are all learning what the new normal is here. I can't thank my kid's teachers enough they are working so hard to make sure there are things available for them to do online....  My kids still need quite a lot of hand-holding and I'm sure next week once the work starts getting "counted" they will need even more. But it is okay! We will get through this! One day at a time! Letty starts online tutoring next week and I am beyond thrilled about that! Someone else (who actually knows what they are doing) take the wheel and help that girl! I still try and get my work outs in even though finding motivation is hard. But I'm always glad I do! The kids make messes and then clean said messes. There is yelling and wrestling and time outs.... And of course giggles.

We take walks every day the weather allows... Dom can even do the entire development loop (1.4 miles) now without crying or being carried, so that feels like a major accomplishment. A few times a week I drive the kids over to my parents where they can ride their scooters with no worry really of getting hit by a car. We decided to shave the boy's heads hoping that by the time this is all over it will have grown back in enough for their typical cuts. I got a little sunburned this week on a gorgeous day that was all too fleeting.... The kids get super dirty each and every single day so when we pull them insides for showers it is a necessity. Then we eat! Always with the eating. We have been getting take out a few times a week which is always a highlight! And then we end our nights watching a movie. We have been loving all things DisneyNature right now... And of course in between all of that there are a lot of Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls with friends, family and teachers.

twenty-four hours at great wolf lodge. part ii.

I'm quite certain the staff and other patrons of the restaurant were not at all sad to see our group leave. We are all quite loud. Letteria especially. The waitress was particularly nice about it and assured me they are used to it but I mean still. So. Loud. Lots of excitement, I get it. So we headed back to the hotel and the kids changed into pajamas for their lobby dance party. Which went on for forty-five minutes. Those girls dancing must get so tired! Letty, Sylvie and Baylee were the last three dancing and they made it the entire time. We all ended up back in our room and just the kids hang out and watch tv and eat all the popcorn they wanted until it was time for bed.
Annnnnd day two was more of the same! Us Olsens all slept in (late for us) till about 8... all our coffee cups had been used the night before for popcorn so Matt left to get us Dunkin. Which took forever so by the time I had my caffeine in me it was too late for me to run. Gasp! I know. We were at the water park at opening and the kids were off once more! They rode slide after slide after slide and how they climb all those stairs over and over without passing out is beyond me! I'm so glad Toniel's phone fit into my water proof bag thing and she was able to grab some videos and photos of the kids! By the time lunch came around we (adults) were all shot! Not to mention it was like either stay till after dinner or leave mid-afternoon due to traffic concerns. We decided on mid-afternoon because like I said: exhausted.
This trip was just soooo much fun and the kids (and adults) made so many great memories! Such a great group of girls (and their mamas/daddys!). Will we do this again? Most likely. Most. Likely. And hey! The more the merrier!


twenty-four hours at great wolf lodge. part i.

The kids had an odd half day last Thursday and no school on Friday which as you know I need to fill up with all the things... We had done this two years ago, sneaking them off to Great Wolf Lodge all under the ruse of "daddy has a claim far away here is your iPad." They still talk about that trip all the time so way back in November while looking at the kid's school calendars we decided to book another one night stay there. And not tell them. 

it's greased lightning!

Ever since Letty was two her Uncle T has taken her to see his school's musical performance... minus a year or two when the shows just weren't good for her... And this year he opened it up to my mom and nieces and sisters so we made a whole girl's night out of it! And the show was Grease... Which made me a little nervous. I tried to have Letty watch the movie with me over the summer and was quickly shown  how not a movie for kids that is... I guess when I was little it was either so far over my head or so heavily edited that I didn't notice? Regardless, I trusted that a high school rendition would be quite PG. And it was. So. We good.

The girls got to see their uncle's office and of course we had to pretend that they were in trouble a bit.... All in good fun! The show was really good too! Especially that Danny! I'm always so impressed  by the level of talent these kids have! They just nail it every time.

a much belated valentine's day

I was just scrolling through my iPhone photos last night and I realized I had never posted anything about Valentine's Day... Probably because this happened the very next day and I just plum forgot what I had done the day before so.... Here I am. A few weeks late. Better late than never as they say...