the moments in between

During the last few moments of summer we...
Got to do an outdoor movie night with friends, Jumanji, because: 2020... Nera terrorized any and all guests... a lunch out with some mom friends... niece cuddles... a candy store visit.... followed immediately by an ice cream run.... a sleepover with a friend.... moon gazing and night swims and fire pits and s'mores... cuddles with a different niece... shopping with my nephew... the older two kid's well visits... farm flowers... nail appointment... celebrated my brother's milestone birthday and more. niece. cuddles. a last minute girl sleepover including dolls.... two very tired boys... oola bowls and the biggest slip and slide.... 
Sensing a theme as these summer moments come to an end? I'll give you a hint. Cuddles.

the first day of school

I have survived five school days... on the sixth! The days are quiet... I had a ringing in my ears the first day or two. I have been trying to keep myself as busy as I can and it is working out okay for me. I’ve been whittling away at the list of stuff I wanted to do around the house item by item.... and before you know it 2:30 rolls around and within four minutes they are all screaming at each other. But I digress. 

The first day of fourth, third, and kindergarten. They were so excited to go to school! The boys in particular. David was practically bouncing with excitement! After such a break my goodness to see their excitement made sending them off into the void so much easier. I know the school day will look a little different for them but it’s not that different. Yes they wear masks and they don’t interact with other classes within their grade.... and lunch is more spread out. But they love it! The masks are a non-issue. They are just happy and excited and that makes me happy and excited. 

Dom’s first day of kindergarten is different than the other kid’s first days. I kept him with me at drop off and returned at an allotted time to meet teacher and do a classroom tour. After that was done I took him out for a final Janelle lunch. He’s been our date for so many years we will miss him! He emphatically informed me that he doesn’t like wearing a shirt all day...transitioning from swimwear to real clothes is going to be rough! Forget the masks! Real pants?! Ew. 

And then before you know it the bigger kids got off the bus and into my arms! And then you know, I had to take them for their traditional Post First Day Rita’s! Keeping whatever traditions alive that I can!

The next day I made sure my sister was in the car behind us to drop her daughter off with my kids so they could all walk in together and it just made me so happy. I couldn't picture Lena walking in solo when she didn't have to! And I also got really lucky and was able to go into the school and  help out a few times! Those kindergarteners need a lot of corralling... Getting in there and seeing their smiling faces (eyes) just makes my day!


the final day of summer vacation

Having survived the first week back to school I finally am allowing myself to relive the last day of summer vacation. Or the last day of whatever you want to call the past six months cation. The final days of summer always have me feeling so forlorn. It's not just my babies leaving me but it is also the freedom of the summer leaving me. And these past months have been kinda nice, not having to be here or go there... lots of things I normally self inflict on our schedules we just couldn't do... and getting back to schedules and packed lunches and sports just seems super... overwhelming. Can't we just stay home all day in our swimsuits?

wrapping up summer. almost.

Those beach weekends took a big chunk out of August, I get that, but man did this month fly by! August is the Sunday of summer but still. Even though I’ve had six months to prepare for life to pick back up again now that it is knocking at my door I’m not sure I’m ready for it! Kids gone all day... regular sports returning... not to mention the other extra-curricular activities if we decide to do them! 

I am ahead of myself. Catching up on August though!!

David was a catcher for the first time and he loved it... Letty and I wore our Fred's t-shirts with a covid twist...good rainbows and David getting a game and friend swim dates...dinner out and then a kindergarten tour in....a cousin flowers and a final friend night swim...a birthday swim for Livi, and then a birthday breakfast and pedis for Sydney and Sylvie...pool swims and friends...our final day at Nonna's and another cousin sleepover...

I feel like we must get these things in while we can... for who knows the future! But school! It is almost here and we are ready for it!

the air show!

We normally are here for this event in June but thanks to things being what they are that was cancelled. Conveniently though it was rescheduled for the very same weekend the Olsens would be back down! With an additional four people on the pontoon we decided to head to Assateague to watch it. Which is another favorite boat destination! We loaded up with alllll the things and set up shop to watch the show! Matt grilled and the kids floated and we investigated the ocean side of the island which is always so gorgeous and just so... empty!

a full day at the beach

Friday morning started with some rain but it looked like it would break up enough for my normal bagel run.  Holly joined me this time... it’s been ages since we ran together! But the rain decided it was going to come down on us either way.... leading to quite the soaked adventure. Bagels in hand (minus a dozen that we had to go back for) we headed back for breakfast...

and then... ocmd!

After two days at home we headed to the beach once more, this time for our Olsen beach weekend with Matt's aunt and uncle and his brother and their family in Ocean City, Maryland. We didn't even bother unpacking from Stone Harbor... I basically just washed the clothes and then put them right back into the suitcase. Sure made it easier!

The weather was supposed to be a total wash out this weekend but we lucked out! We drove through some rain, sure, but once we got there the clouds cleared out and we were able to head right to the beach! Where we saw more dolphins! Just not quite as close as the past weekend. After dinner we did something we have never done before down there and we kayaked on the bay! Aunt Sue took David and I had Letty... it was fun! I haven't kayaked in years and I miss being out there on the water like that!

our final two beach days

Our last full day we had a relaxing morning at the house... the kids just playing and the like. We took them back to the playground again because it was requested that we do so. Then after lunch we hit up the beach... had some more ice cream... But then! All of my dolphin loving dreams came true! Dolphins were everywhere. And not just like passing down the coast like I have seen before I mean like hanging out. Playing. Jumping out of the water... coming in super close to the shore. Everyone ran out into the ocean to get as close as they dared and I'd say I was about ten feet from them! It was amazing and everything I could have ever hoped for. Wild. Dolphins. The photos don't do it justice and I wasn't about to bring my phone out into the water but still. Amazing.

After all of that excitement we headed back to the house. Tonight all of Aaron's hard work on those crab pots paid off: crab night! We ordered food in for those of us less than enthused crab eaters.... and then Rhonda and I took Letty to walk around and look at the cute shops. Ending with of course.... more ice cream! And then more good sky!

a second day at stone harbor

The next day we just mainly relaxed around the house.... My kids loved sleeping in that place! I don't know if it was the beds, or the loud air conditioning unit... but they slept like rocks and even, dare I say... slept in?! Rhonda and I went for a very difficult and hot run while the kids and men checked on their crab pots. Again. They had donuts and then an early lunch before we left for the beach. 

What is it about the beach that just makes kids eat? All the foods. We stayed at the beach the majority of the day... Oh and we cannot forget the Fudgy Wudgy Man! Apparently they have been around since Matt was a kid... Rhonda made a delicious dinner with shrimp and steak and we ate it over looking the bay. Good dinner views! And then! We took the kids to their first playground since the world shut down.... six months with no (public) playground! Insanity! Oh and then Rhonda and I raced home so I could see the sunset views. You know me and my good sky.

stone harbor, a weekend!

We had two whirlwind long weekends at the beach (back-to-back) with lots of sun, sand, dirty feet and no shirts (for the boys anyways) and it was so much fun and all things summer! The first weekend we went to Stone Harbor with my high school best friend and her family, as they have a family home down there. We met up the first day for lunch where, thanks to CDC guidelines, they cannot sit a party of nine. No problem! The kids just got to eat at the table next to us all grown up like and it was amazing for us grown ups to not have to holler over the level of noise my kids create. Back at the house of course was the first of many crab pot checks before heading to the beach... And what a gorgeous beach it is! Stone Harbor is just amazing. So clean and pristine and beautiful, the homes so gorgeous (I'd take about any one of them) and well kept. I’m a big fan of it all!

Rhonda and I just got to sit back and watch our kids play... they all got along so well which is of course the best! They put up with our kind of crazy! 

all the (summer) things...

There are a few weeks towards the middle of July to the end of August where we are just really busy.  Imagine if it wasn't a pandemic how busy we would be!? 

There are an inordinate amount of birthdays... I mean really people. David, Letty, myself, Matt's uncle, two of my nieces. It's quite a lot! In between all of that celebrating we have been of course... swimming! Matt is almost finished with the kid's playset... we still need to order some type of sun sail so they don't burn their tootsies every time they go up there.. ice cream for the birthday boy...swims with friends while the kids had ice cream with their grandparents and the new generation in the art of the George Washington pool 'do... delicious food...pool side cuddles and friend jumps... milkshakes and Book Mobile visits..... night swims and s'mores... friend play dates and hair cuts... Trovato cousins... road side stand flowers.... early birthday gifts from my sweet Floridian Friend.... fireworks and another party....cuddling the newest baby and wearing sun hats...Olsen cousins and more good food.... mom friends and girl friends and boy friends... more night swims with mom friends and more George Washington hairstyles... (I blame Hamilton. Here Comes the General! The moment you've been waiting for!!! The pride of Mount Vernon!!!) Fun parent jumps.... hibiscus flowers! Letty and a friend getting their second holes in their ears... boy dates and a baseball game (sad David may only be able to make one this season).... good sky and hammock hangs and birthday gifts from a sweet friend...cousin hangs at the Book Mobile and husking corn with Uncle Matt.... another birthday party for a friend of Letty's and of course Lena's birthday day.... 

I mean with not much going on because of COVID we sure have a lot going on! This summer can last forever please and thank you!  

Except not, because I need my kids in school.

letty’s party with her family

Letty's family party was missing quite a few members of the family this year... but we still made the most of it! I had all the decorations of course and all the foods.... we still had the pool and the sun was shining! We even got to see my brother from a socially distant space! My sister brought us some Rita's which is like Letty's love language! Matt made wings and a lasagna and then of course we had gifts and the cake! Which I am now making cakes I guess.... I tried to make it look all fancy but it was still a boxed cake. A boxed cake with a flower to hide the piece of cake with no icing so my father would eat some....

It wasn't what I imagined for her tenth party... I hate when we are missing family! But it happens as these things go.... I still made the house look as festive as possible and she felt all the love. And I love me some little men in their Hawaiian print shirts... I mean, who wouldn't?  And and and! Thank you to my dad for replacing our computer so I could actually make a birthday dvd! Thank heavens because that was a tradition I was not quite cut out for losing yet. I even went back and made one for David. It was so surreal watching "normal" life and then suddenly we never got out of sweatpants or went anywhere.. what a year to be alive!

letty’s party with her friends

I capped her at ten girls. She would have invited the entire third (fourth?) grade if she could have to be sure but no, I can't deal with much more than ten. And as it was her tenth birthday it seemed only fitting. She chose a luau theme as I may have mentioned earlier... So it was all sorts of full circle type things to pull out the decorations I used at her first birthday party for this year, her tenth. Did I mention she is ten??? To make it extra special we got her a pinata. A pig in a grass skirt. Because why  not? Daddy also made all the girls Shirley Temples. There was a whole lot of sugar and snacks and of course cupcakes and swimming. Some of the moms hung out with me so it was also like a birthday party for yours truly as well. My daughter sure knows how to pick them! Friends with great moms. I'm a fan!

who letteria is at ten

Ten is a whole new ballgame isn’t it? Double digits and all that. I’ve been a mom for a decade. And all of that. I was showing Letty photos of her first birthday party because ironically enough she chose the same luau theme for her parties this year.... and sure she looks different as one would expect (Duh) but man... the rest of us! We were babies back then. We had no idea what we were doing and were just so over the moon to have a baby of our own. Babies are fun. We had no idea of the broken bones and the split lip... the IU evaluations.... twice. The complete devastation I experienced when she went to school.... the fear and anxiety of her being away from us... the sleepovers and the psychologist and the tutoring and the schooling and the yelling (oh the yelling) and the tween attitude and the tears I would shed. I knew none of it. Completely blissful. I have said a few times recently that those years spent wanting to get pregnant I wanted a baby. I wanted that lovely feeling of a sleeping baby on my chest. The baby smell. The cuddles and the rolls. I didn’t know about any of this other stuff. And I sure as heck don’t know what’s coming for me tomorrow let alone in the next ten years (teen Letty please please please go easy on me!). We were clueless in those photos. We have aged. Children made us look old and haggard. But Letty! Oh my beautiful Letty! You are ten! You are such a little lady now and sometimes when I look at you it almost knocks the breath out of me! How did she get that tall?! When did she become all legs!? It happened over night. Except of course, it didn’t. 

david’s birthday party

With our family this time. We held it on his actual birthday and thankfully the weather decided to cooperate. Not sure everyone would have had as much fun as a bunch of boys! Even though it was just family we are still talking over twenty people. David decided he wanted pizza delivered which made things so much easier on Matt. We could actually swim and relax and just hang. Well, it got a little heated once the water guns came out but what can you do when the Funcles and Poppop are involved?

So we swam, we ate good foods, David opened presents (thank you thank you everyone for showering him with so many goodies) and then we sang and had cake! Ice cream cake, per David’s request, homemade by Matt. Such a fun day surrounded by family! My kind of day!

a swim party during a tropical storm

David would have invited every single boy in his entire grade to his friend party if I would have allowed it. But instead I capped him. It had to be done. Ten friends. A total of eleven boys. All in the pool. I was stressed. Then I wake up the morning of to a tropical storm coming our way. David would have been so disappointed if I rescheduled it.... I texted a few of the moms like hey what do you think and everyone agreed boys don’t care about a little rain and in fact it’s more fun that way! We had some ideas for backup plans if need be but nope, the boys had a blast in the rain! 

It was a chaotic three hours of counting heads in between snacks and more snacks. Whilst Matt and Janelle and I hid under umbrellas. They are such a good bunch it wasn’t as bad as I imagined... and I mean no injuries so that’s huge! I think they just all really missed each other and were so happy to be together. It was so cute. Or wait, whatever you call it at this age. 

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.