a wagner day!

The final Hershey trip of the year! I keep saying that but I mean it this time! We just went to the zoo this morning which we do every Christmas break with the Wagners… saw a few animals… the boys ran… typical. Then later that evening we went out just us adults for a nice dinner! A little bit of everything this day!

the rest of christmas day

As we do, we go back to my parents’ house for more gift opening! They certainly have the most space. After a morning of playing we went back for an afternoon of complete and utter chaos. The kids taking turns opening their gifts first and then they go off to play while the adults open theirs…. It was an afternoon of merriment and spoils to be sure! Then we all head over to our house for more festivities and lots more food! We sure are a loud group but we are my favorite group. Oh and we had a very special call from a certain Argentinian couple vacationing away! It sure was a fast one, this holiday! Now I stare lovingly at my tree for as long as I can!

christmas morn

Always comes too soon…and it is over just as fast. Of course David had to be woken up by his siblings well before he was ready… Matt was armed with his trash bag, scissors and screw driver…. Coffee in hand. They took turns and there were many pleasant giggles and sounds of joy… Letty with her replacement phone…. David his crocs and Dom the marble run, to say the least. They all got what they asked for and spent the morning opening and playing with them all! And my house was trashed! Happy Christmas to all!

christmas eve

Tradition! It sure has morphed over the years but my parents’ annual Christmas Eve party went on without a hitch! Ok well maybe a tiny little baby hiccup in that Santa couldn’t visit! He usually graces us with his presence for an hour or so… but he sent gifts instead! The kids were so thrilled I think my ears are still ringing. There was tons of good food and drinks of course… lots of great friends and neighbors and family! All the kids were in the basement watching by the Manheim Babysitter’s Club. Or is it the Babysitter’s Club of Manheim? Either way they did a great job and took it very seriously. 

What a night! Thank you all for coming and thanks mom and dad for having us!

winter band concert

Next up in the concert schedule is David’s first middle school band concert! I was pleasantly surprised last year and felt the same this year as well. I didn’t grab the best seats but now I know for next year! Great job guys!

cookie baking day

As per tradition, we get together with my family to bake a lot of cookies... make a huge mess of my parents' kitchen.... give everyone headaches and throughout it all, make a lot of noise and chaos. Tis the season! We made a few dozen and will proudly present them at my parents' annual Christmas Eve party.... but until then they sit in tins and wait...

dom’s birthday party!

Oh what fun! Amidst all the Christmas less us forget that a certain someone has a birthday! Which necessitates a party! Somehow we found a day that worked for almost everybody so we could all come together and celebrate this boy. There was food and singing, cake and presents. He sure felt the love this night! Thank you all for coming! 

the in between.....

Yes there are little moments in between all the other things. The little things that fill in the blanks. Like David starting basketball... a Christmas light scavenger hunt in our neighborhood... the holiday craft day at the elementary school... an impromptu lunch out... coffee... wine tasting and making a new orange garland... subbing in the gym...more coffee and checking out the star barn in the daylight...a movie night with friends and lots of staring at my Christmas trees... Oh December, you are flying on by!



winter choral concert

It is concert season! Throw a holiday song or two into the mix and color me happy! Up first was Letty's choral concert. So many of her friends were in it so it was really fun to watch. So proud of her for learning these songs! And she is looking mighty grown up is she not? 

fancy fetter night!

It is tradition! Although this year it was near impossible to do between all of the kids’ crazy schedules…. But we made it happen! They showered our family with gifts and Matt cooked up quite the spread! I got the dining room all fancied up and we had a meal before we were on to the next thing! These are the days!

the star barn!

I’ve always wanted to go here and see the light show… and I’m not sure what took me so long! It was only $25 for our car and we were there an hour, and saw lights the entire way! It was so well done and tasteful. I loved seeing the old buildings and all the barns all dressed up in their finest. This will definitely be a new tradition!!

candylane once more!

One must go back! This time we went with the Wagners. And it is our final visit because we did not renew our passes for 2023…. Sad! But I think a break is due. The rain stopped right when we wanted it too and because of that the kids rode whatever they wanted. We saw the reindeer and of course they ran up to say hi to Santa again. 

Goodbye Hersheypark! I don’t know when we will be back but you’ve been a solid force in our lives for years and years. Sniff. 

polar express night!

All aboard! I have been having Polar Express nights since Letty was a toddler…. I make up the ticket and get a bell… hot chocolate and of course popcorn! I try and make it nice! Not all the cousins could make it this year (par for the course I’d say) but those that could came in their jammies to watch. We even got Pop to stay this year! It was cozy and lovely. And I’d like to think the kids enjoyed it.  

hersheypark candylane

Oh one of my favorite times of year at Hersheypark! Candylane! The Christmas lights and Santa and then the reindeer! I know there aren’t a ton of rides but it is always so festive! When we first got there we just blew through all the things, even a ride we rarely get on during the year. Santa and the Grinch too! We stayed for the light show as we do before calling it a night. 

who dom is at eight.

My baby is eight. Eight is old. I remember eight. A second grader for goodness sakes. If I could freeze time I would! The years are going too fast!

I can’t believe we still cut his hair like this just fyi. Believe me it will be remedied prior to Christmas. But this is besides the point. Dominic, happy happy birthday! 

I always start these posts out by reading the previous years’ post. What were the kids like? What was my frame of mind like? And well, last years’ birthday post was a doozy. Last December this child almost broke us. I am so so so relieved to say that he is leaps and bounds better. He still has a rare meltdown of apocalyptic proportions… but they are few compared to last December. We are coming to realize how his school days greatly affected him mentally and emotionally. This year his class is amazing and his teacher is a wonder! And it is coming through with his behavior at home. Thank. The. Lord. 
Dom requires a lot of cuddles. Huggies! He will say. He spends every movie night on my lap. He could get up from a movie and say that I haven’t given him enough cuddles today. His love tank must have a leak but I don’t mind! He has quite the inquiring mind and I enjoy our thoughtful conversations on the way to school in the morning when it is just us. His soft little voice coming from the back seat…. 
He loves school! No more does he ask me to homeschool him! The worst part of the day is when I have picked out clothes and they are not the same color top and bottom. Plus he prefers wearing only his black jeans. But school! He loves to read! He’s killing it at math! Yes he still is a whole lot of “boy” but we are working through it. His teacher spends time focusing on how to be a better person, not just academics, and he comes home saying the sweetest things that she is teaching them. We love it!
He loves Legos and pandas, Imaginext and Fortnite. He’s a huge video gamer. Sigh. He liked baseball and wants to try it again in the spring but he wants to pick his number and “that requires some thinking time” before choosing. He has lots of friends and loves playing tag at school. Little girls have crushes on him and it is the cutest! He loves his cousins! Although I am sad to say the hugs from Elena at school have stopped…. Not cool anymore I suppose. But mommy still gets them!
He will try anything we put on his plate. Especially spaghetti and meatballs and tacos. Just not together. Waffles with whip cream, not syrup. Vanilla cake or ice cream but don’t you dare put a sprinkle anywhere near him! He loves his new bed and burrows down underneath his stuffies and pillows so you can’t even see him.  
He worries when he shouldn’t. He cares what people think of him (but not quite enough to calm himself down when he should)…. He loves potty humor and mindless shows… he is very much the youngest child always suggesting that no one plays with him! Someone recently asked me what his strengths are and shame on me I had to think about it. We have spent so much of his life calling him the Dominator that I had to really think to look past that. Like I said, shame on me. His intelligence, kindness to his friends, love of physical touch and his little anxieties… more than meets the eye I’ll say. 
Oh Dom. I am so happy that this year is better. You sure drove us to a breaking point and I know it won’t be the last time… We love you and your cuddles…. Love when you are calm and sweet. You are a wild boy, but you’re my wild boy, my baby. Happy eight!


a morning in leesburg and morven park

After our late night we needed some sleep…. Not past eight am let’s not get too crazy! We got loaded on up and headed into historic Leesburg for some breakfast before we had to be at Morven Park at 10… which is where Laurie Did a Really Stupid Thing. When I purchased tickets to tour the mansion I neglected to pay attention to which Morven I was buying them from. There are more than one, apparently. And we had tickets for the one in New Jersey. And this Morven mansion isn’t open for tours on Thursdays.  The grounds staff felt so bad for us they went and got the director. And then she felt so bad for us she called in the person who does said tours. And that is the story of how we ended up getting an hour long private tour of this gorgeous house. And yes, it was decorated for Christmas!! The girls asked lots of questions and we learned a lot! They wouldn’t even let us pay for the tour! We were so blown away by the entire experience. The staff there is so phenomenal! Go visit if you can! Oh and side note, the other Morven place? They refunded the tickets. Which I promptly donated said money to the correct Morven. Amazing all around. 

After all of that excitement we headed home as Letty had tutoring. We stopped by the Christmas Haus and got a few ornaments since we were literally driving right by it. We got cupcakes and a snack in Lancaster before heading home…. A whirlwind twenty-four hours away!

harry potter forbidden forest

I quite literally cannot say enough good things about this experience. The woman who told us about it months ago at the mansion described it perfectly and it did not disappoint. Our entry time was at 9:15 pm (clearly we were playing hooky the next day) so the crowds were minimal. We only had to wait a little so the girls could bow to the Hippogriff. The lighting... the music piped in everywhere.... the fog! We got to see Hagrid and Hedwig... the flying car and even the spiders! It truly was an experience and the girls were constantly in awe. I was constantly in awe! I think the girls really had a magical evening and I just kept saying that it was worth every penny. Leaving was hard to do and Letty of course already wants to go back.... I think every Harry Potter fan should make sure they get to wander through the Forbidden Forest at least once!