a girl cousin sleepover

It is the final day of 2020. We made it! In one way or another we are here for it. I doubt I'll stay up to kick this year to the curb because I enjoy sleep too much but... another year over!

But I'm still recounting the last few weeks of December over here so for me it'll still be 2020 for a bit haha! My sister had the girls over for a sleepover one Saturday this month and she just did all the fun things! Cookie decorating and movie watching and nail painting! Letty had the best time hanging out with her cousins and her aunt like that! Fun aunt!

sugar cookie day!

I know that making so many dozens of cookies and freezing them doesn't make a lot of sense when one isn't entertaining or going anywhere but I am not one to break traditions and this has been the year of that...... so. I made sugar cookies. I made icing. And we decorated the heck out of those Christmas ornaments.... I always love doing cookies with icing! And Letty and I had matching leggings! Such a fan!

And if anyone needs any cookies lemme know...

cousins who sled

The day after all the snow fell we packed up and headed to grandmother's house to sled. Because she has some good hills.... All the cousins joined and they sled the day away before some hot chocolate! That Nonna, she sure loves to spoil her grandbabies! Love these days with cousins! I really never had cousins close by (my closest was an hour away, I see you Joel) so for my kids to have all these cousins  around which I imagine will be their best friends forever just makes me so happy!

a snow day! the first of the year!

Well let me clarify. It was a virtual at-home learning day. The snow was to start in the middle of the day and rather than have an early dismissal they chose a more casual virtual day. Which is fine. We are all fine. We shall survive. But after they finished all their work we went through the ordeal of donning all the clothes and boots and out. we. went! Sledding when we could and just being outside as much as possible!

painting at aunt beth's

She says she isn't the fun aunt, but she so is! She had us over for dinner the other day and had ornaments all ready to go for the kids to paint... So so festive! And I love Tenley and the facial expression she gives me so there you have it. She also wore an outfit Letty and David and Lena and Harrison have all worn which I am sure you know gives me such feelings! A post about a normal Monday evening but all festive... Plus the ornaments turned out so great!

the moments in between...

Ah in the middle of the holiday season there is just so much going on! And I kind of love it! I love checking things off my list and getting it done and not missing a thing! So in between all of the "big" things this month there has been....

Days of virtual learning. Lots of Zoom alarms and as much outdoor play as I can encourage. We had planned a trip earlier this month to Philly to the Franklin Institute with a bunch (21) of our friends to recreate the girl's missed field trip last year but of course things shut down so... refunds were issued. Which I am still very salty about. Letty had a field hockey game or two before all sports were shut down... I entertained myself by having The Child sit in on a Zoom or two... not sure if the teachers were as amused as I....We all celebrated Pop's birthday! Letty has been working on her guitar and writing down notes and practicing and it is amazing to witness. My nails got all festive. I have been working in the school as much as I can and watching Dom Dom walk down the big empty halls in the morning just gives me all the feels! I got a final lunch in with my girls before the shutdown happened and got the sweetest personalized mug ever! A bunch of the hockey girls got together and scrimmaged against the moms outside on the turf and I'm pretty sure every mom was feeling it the next day. Good sky! That little devil kitty of ours really gave us a scare and I was fairly certain it was the end for her but apparently I am over dramatic and she just ate something she shouldn't have. Shocker there... Lots of Christmas lights... More virtual learning and then matching pajamas! We are going to get through this people. I just know it.


dom's actual birthday

Dom's actual birthday fell on a Tuesday. We woke the kids up early so that Dom could open his gifts and play with them a little before school. He loves his Imaginext! I had to work that day so I spoke with his teacher and over my lunch break I got to go into his classroom (a first for me) and help with the holiday craft which made. my. day. After school he informed me he wanted to go to Amos Herr park even though it was freezing out so we did just that.... Then we drove up to Hershey to go through Sweet Lights! And then we got him and David McDonald's and Panera for the rest of us before driving home. It wasn't what it should have been but I think he was a very happy six year old at the end of the day. Oh and of course because it is his birthday he sleeps in our bed which as you can see worked out great. For Matt....

ornament painting!

The kids had a half day at school a few weeks back and as I tend to do I need to fill those extra hours with all the fun things! A friend had mentioned painting ceramic ornaments and I thought well that is absolutely ideal! Isn't it ideal?! But first, lunch! We hit up Isaac's as it was on the way to the pottery place. Letty picked a coffee mug, David a Santa puppy, Dom The Child (of course) and I chose a truck with a Christmas tree on top. Smarter things I have done! We kept our masks on other thank a photo or two and they don't let you touch anything. You want another paint color? They will distribute. We painted away and then a week later I went back to pick them up. Wala!

gingerbread house day

Plus ornaments! Have free day must Christmas it on up! We typically do our gingerbread houses with our old neighbors but do I even need to say it?? So it was just us... We got these already made kits (shhh don't tell Steph) and the Christmas music was on and the candy was out! It was time to gingerbread house! Except that first I wanted to make these ornaments I had seen on Instagram but they really did not turn out like the post I saw... Apparently watercolor absorbs into polymer clay so we had to resort to acrylic.... but anyway! The gingerbread houses were a great success if I say so! And the kids ate allll the candies in all the land!

when we celebrate dominic

Two weekends ago we got together with our immediate family to celebrate our littlest man turning six. Having a winter birthday really is the pits! No pool and soooo close to Christmas! But we try to make it fun just the same! Like opening all the doors and windows on the first floor to increase airflow and then also having to turn up the heat to compensate. Good times COVID... Good. Times. 

He chose as his theme this year, Legos. Which incidentally, was the same theme as last year. He likes what he likes. And he has only been planning this since June. We had chips and appetizers while his birthday dvd played in the background and the kids played.... Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs and then it was gift time! Fun and exciting for the young and old alike! This kid is spoiled absolutely rotten the month of December it is insanity! And yes, he sleeps in that Child hat. Then we sang and had cake and wrapped up a  night of fun! With balloons!

another day in candylane!

It is such a rare thing for me to have free weekend nights in the month of December.... but of course this year everything is different. When one has a free night one must do something festive and so all of my nieces and my nephew (and assorted parents/Nonna) headed up to Hersheypark once more! We visited with Santa again quickly even though it is quite depressing to see him up there in his mask... We went on a bunch of rides, none that made us cry thankfully! And we had to wander through Tree Ville since it wasn't open the last time we were there. We stayed pretty late for us and of course had to hit up Wendy's on the way home.... cold but exhausted from all the fun!

It's no Disney or anything, but I'm glad we can do something normal this year, and you know what? The masks are actually kinda great with the cold...

doing those christmas thangs...

I'm just working through my list of all the Christmas activities one day at a time! This day we read The Christmas Story, made a grateful paper train and some snicker doodles, watched another Christmas movie, had hot chocolate and drove around to look at Christmas lights! Nothing crazy! Oh! And made those paper bag snowflakes that are all over Instagram and I am obsessed with them!

taking twisted sisters by storm!

My friend owns a shop. It isn't right around the corner or anything, it's about an hour from here. But her ice cream is always worth the drive. If you are near Orwigsburg check it out, Twisted Sisters! She recently expanded her store to also include candies and chocolates so of course we had to make a drive up there to just buy all the things! But first! There was our town's Santa parade! Which was basically a bunch of cop cars and fire engines and on one of them Santa and friends waved to us which I shall take in these crazy times!

who dominic is at six

Hard to believe my baby is six.... which is probably how I have started every birthday post since 2015. But it is still a fact that time marches on and that on this day my little bouncing baby boy is now six. So who this six year old?

a festive day with the fetters

I met someone like me. Oh say... five years ago? She loves all the things. Doing all the things. Keeping busy. Going on adventures. And! Christmas! So while this Christmas is quite weird she got it in her head to make it as normal as she could. Don't we all wish the same? And as I already had them a few days while we were virtually learning what is another day? A day with all the festive things. Dressing up! Gingerbread men decorating! A fancy dinner! Hot chocolate! A movie! Popcorn! Christmas pajamas! We packed the night full of fun because as the saying goes.... what shall tomorrow  bring?

a night at candylane

I love when Hersheypark is all decked out in it's Christmas finery! I love the lights and the music! I don't even care if we don't get on any rides, I just love the festiveness. We did get on rides the night we went though because the crowds were slim, the masks were donned, the lights were lit! It was happening! I pretty much wanted to see Santa right away. Gotta make sure we get in there to see the Big Man! It was a little different this year as is everything these days.... he was up on a stage in a sleigh and wearing a mask.... but we saw him! Then we also had to go and visit with his reindeer... All with not any real lines. The rest of the night was all about rides and then it was all about the lights! Almost all of us hopped on the ferris wheel for the first time in forever and I have never loathed a ride more! What I wasn't expecting was Letty and David's tears. I mean yeah maybe David. But Letty? They were petrified. As am I.  Ugh it gives me the shivers just thinking about it. Never again!

I sure hope to get back there again before the season ends, but who knows! Just no ferris wheel.

little bits of life lately....

The moments in between, as it were. With a side eye from Dominic.

We have been virtually learning.... and a few days doing so with friends! Still hating working out from home and the zillion interruptions that occur during a 55 minute BodyPump class. We got all new bedding to try and recreate the lovely bedding Disney hotels have.... Letty and my mom and I painted 80 pieces of wood for the school's holiday craft day... Last year's matching Christmas pajamas making a few more final wearings. The Child has a permanent spot in our kitchen watching the proceedings... Olsen Thanksgiving at our house where I basically put my phone down and walked away, shockingly! And a sweet little surprise from a friend! 

What have you all been up to?

our covid thanksgiving

I never would have thought eight months ago that this pandemic shit would still be going on. And while our lives feel much more "normal" than they were in March things are still so not normal. Thanksgiving is usually a time where my aunts and uncles and cousins come down from New York. Every. Single. Year. This year obviously was a no go. And while Thanksgiving isn't a real favorite day of mine it still made me sad. I love my traditions! We were lucky though, because we had our little Disney quarantine bubble and so were still able to see family. Plus my brother and his girls (all three of them). I shouldn't complain one bit. But I do, because that is who I am.

So Thanksgiving, COVID style.... We ate the foods. All the foods. Well not me because this meal is one of my least favorites ever.... But everyone else did. We made a festive apple cider cocktail and Matt made his cold cut bread.... We let the kids run around outside because thankfully it was a gorgeous day.... they did their Christmas craft courtesy of Nonna (because who knows what tomorrow will bring!). And we watched Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, a first for me strangely enough! Plus all the desserts then! Our elf, Cornelius, arrived as he typically does.... and while Matt and I are so over him the kids love him so much and couldn't wait for him to come! We debated informing them that he can't come because of COVID but COVID has screwed up so much for them that we didn't have the heart. He always brings matching Christmas pajamas too which ironically enough their cousins (who do not have an elf) also have! Matching pajamas forever and ever! 

So it wasn't like year's past, but it was still good. We got to be with family, thankfully. Who are all healthy, thankfully. And eat good foods, thankfully... What about you all? You made it through ok?

a day of at-home festive fun

We returned to Pennsylvania to face a forced two week quarantine annnnnd virtual learning for the kids. It just all happened that way that our governor locked the stuff down and the schools chose virtual until after Thanksgiving... So enter my new motto: who knows what tomorrow shall bring? So, when given a free day, I decided to do as much festive stuff with the kids as I could. We wrote letters to Santa, made reindeer food for our cousins and ourselves, and started a few Christmas cookies. We did the almond ones and of course buckeye balls. All while listening to Christmas music before watching Christmas movies. All the things people, all the things!

a day at animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom was our final full day at Walt Disney World. Such sweet sorrow! This park also has the shortest open hours of them all. So we got there right as it opened, which I have learned is an hour prior to the listed start time... And we were greeted by a rainbow! I really wanted to try and get on Flight of Passage so the kids and I along with my sister and her husband and Lena took off at a speed walk to get there. It. Was. Walk. On. I was shocked. The ride was just so so sooo good! Another bucket list Disney ride crossed off my list to be sure. By the time we exited the ride the line was already well over a half hour long so we moved on to the River Journey. Then it was more Starbs... monkeys, Everest for the first timers which they just so loved, the Kilamanjaro Safari, The Triceratops ride, then DinoSAUR which I was pretty excited to scare David by bringing him on.... Tough to be a Bug (David also hated this). We sat in the Relaxation Station a few times maskless and watched the boat cavalcades go by... Minnie and Mickey, Santa, and Pocahontas. We took this train way out to Rafikis watch or some such place and the kids got to pet goats.... something new and different... It was raining or drizzling off and on all day which was a bummer but I took it as a sign that Disney didn't want us to leave just as much as we didn't want to go. We rode the Safari again before our dinner which was at Yak and Yeti, another first! Just so good. 

We left after dinner and got the kids ice cream and their flattened pennies and then did a final stroll around the Boardwalk before bed. Just so forlorn, leaving Disney. I hate it! I know this whole experience was different than normal, but what is normal these days? The masks were annoying but we got used to them very quickly and half the time the kids didn't even remember to take them off! There was still so much Disney Magic that I would highly recommend going! Short lines, less crowds, still so amazing! And so clean. 

And of course! Thank you so very much to my parents for as always wishing to make amazing memories with us and with our kids. We love you so much and appreciate you! 

back at magic kingdom

Magic Kingdom a second time around and we really just took it so much slower.! We didn't have an agenda other than get our butts on Pirates of the Caribbean. We got coffee upon arrival and then rode Thunder Mountain Railroad, as Pirates was down. We watched the Philharmagic before Pirates finally opened up.  Letty and I got matching Minnie ears... Dom got the Mandalorian ship, David a shoulder buddy Porg? And we bought an Olsen Family The Child. He is pretty much a favorite of us all and Dom thinks he belongs to him but no! Family. Child. All the souvenirs! Then it was just a matter of what rides do we want and just walking right on them... Dumbo, Barnstormer, the Speedway, Space Mountain, Little Mermaid, the Buzz ride, the Magic Carpets and Haunted Mansion, etc. All before our very early dinner which was..... (drum roll please) at Be Our Guest!!! This was a first for us, ever and we were just so excited! I've heard such wonderful things about it and was sooooo not disappointed! The Beast comes out and says hello a few times... the ballroom is just gorgeous... the food was delicious, yes we ate the gray stuff and it was delicious, the wine was made specially just for Be Our Guest and the kids got to paint a white chocolate Chip! I mean.... perfect. All around. Loved. 

After dinner we were once more just so shot and so we just said our slow farewells to the castle and Main Street before heading back to our hotel once more. I hate hate hate goodbyes! Especially at Disney!