24 hours at great wolf lodge

My mother-in-law and her husband had gifted Matt and his two brothers (and families) generous gift cards to be used at Great Wolf Lodge this past Christmas and we got to use them last week for a night in the Pocono location. We left home around lunch and checked in, thankfully our rooms were ready because who wants to change in a wet public restroom? We made it into the water park and the kids were off…. Each in their own direction. It was different this time with the kids being older and dare I say more responsible. They could go on all the rides and slides they wanted to and some of them we adults joined in on. It was Sam’s birthday so he picked Olive Garden for dinner before doing it all over again on Friday. Rinse and repeat. It was a quick 24 hours but the kids definitely got their fair share of water park fun! Thanks Lorie and Jeff!

a pirate party!

Because why not? We have all the Disney cruise pirate gear and well, we love us some pirates in the Olsen household so when my sister brought it up we jumped on it and made it our own! The kids got all dressed up and we had themed snacks and drinks and a movie (Pan) before all the pirates-themed dinner and desserts. I’d like to think the kids had a blast! Argh!

the wiz!

Another Fulton run! Way back in July the Fulton Theater had their Christmas in July sale and so we sort of stocked up on our tickets… although not sure I recommend that because with crazy busy schedules it is hard to be penned in to a certain date. Like Letty and I missed our traditional musical outing with my brother for this show, The Wiz. I had never seen this one before so I was excited. But up first was tutoring for Letty and drinks and foods and walking around the city before we all met up to see the show. The cast was so amazing and they just sang their hearts out! It was opening night, a first for us! So good. Letty especially loved what in her words were the Mamma Mia costumes... the whole seventies vibe is her thing!


I feel like it has been awhile since I have shared anything on here when in reality it has been like.... a week. Just a week where the days are long and then the weeks fly by. That sort of week. We have had some sicknesses that have affected plans (strep and a stomach bug)… lots of basketball… the start of baseball…indoor hitting... More basketball. The playoffs were a week ago and they won! But that meant nightly games and the stress that said games induces on one... There was a birthday celebration or two... Lots of running around and back and forth and then working at the school in between. I am going to be driving the road to and from their schools in my sleep that is to be sure. But someday when I have nothing to do at night I will miss this running around... so they say right? Oh and we got a new sectional for the basement! Big things!

a nice long weekend at the beach…part iii

Ah I read so much this day. Just me and the waves on the balcony. Heaven. We did have some beach time of course because it has to happen when one is there. Then more swimming this time with a few mermaids which was… interesting. I guess Letty has outgrown the joy of mythical creatures. Swimming next to you as you play jackpot with your brothers a few strangers you made friends with. We eventually made our way over to our friends’ house for dinner and a nice night in. I basically took no photos. 

Monday morning we packed up and relaxed more before the pool again and then the beach. We had to be home for baseball and basketball so we couldn’t enjoy more of the day but still. Four days at the beach. Just what this February version of Laurie (and Matt without saying) needed. 

a nice long weekend at the beach…part ii

Saturday morning brought sun and also our friends! We relaxed all morning both on the balcony and the on the beach before meeting them for lunch. And the very chilly boardwalk. And then drinks and more food. I sure was stuffed but it was the very nicest and relaxing day. 

a nice long weekend at the beach…part i

Away away. That’s where we wanted to get. This past weekend was a four day one for us and we debated and debated on where to take them. South! Warm! North! Water! We checked the weather daily and after David’s basketball playoff game it was decided. OCMD. Not to Matt’s aunt and uncle’s though, we wanted the kids to have a pool to swim in... And we found quite the pool. We arrived around dinner Friday night and then it was food and swim time! And how nice is it to open your balcony door and hear the waves? The best. 

and on the day of love…

Oh you know, because Valentine’s Day around here feels like every day. Very romantic, a lunch with my parents and sister… a run to the gym… kids’ Valentines from school and roses for us ladies…a delicious dinner and then an into town to Twisted Sisters. Couldn’t ask for more! Sure feels like longer than a week ago though!

go love! and go eagles!

Except we all know how that last one turned out….Sunday was our annual Valentines/Super Bowl party at my parents’ house.  They just fall so close together we must combine! My mom decorated all the things and made all the foods! The kids got to make their own pizza! They exchanged valentines with their cousins, handed out by Letty, mother hen that she is… we made it (barely) to the half time show before heading home as of course it was a school night. Why they do that to all the parents of the world is beyond me!

fetter friday of festive valentines fun!

We have gotten together with these ladies for a little Valentine’s festive fun for many years now… I can’t quite put my finger on how many but yeah. It is what we do. Force the kids into festive wear and eat the festive foods which in this case meant tacos.  Because Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday. Get it? The kids decorated cookies before dinner because when the kitchen it going to be destroyed might as well make sure it is good and destroyed… and Zach? Well he puts up with us. Barely. A solid Friday night!!

life lately…

Running here and there and everywhere…. Quite literally. To and from the kids’ schools and back again. Field hockey and jazz band, basketball games and baseball indoor hitting. Working out when I can and going out for lunches and working at the school…. Ice cream for breakfast and after school waffles… these are the times! I suppose if we can’t be on vacation we might as well keep ourselves occupied in any way we can!

the aud turns five!

Oh this wild child! Five successful trips around the sun and she is still burning strong! We got to celebrate her in all her glory last weekend and true to Rob and Ashley form they did not disappoint. Tons of delicious food and cake…. Excellent decor and chalkboard… I sure hope she feels the love that Aud! You are so many wonderful things and I can’t wait to see what is in store for you! Watch out world! She is going to take you by storm! 

disney cruise: home and sad

I hate goodbyes! The end of vacation. Hate. The end of anything Disney. Double hate. Going back to the cold and leaving the sun and the palm trees behind? Triple hate. But I kept it together! My children however, did not. Lots of tears from our final dinner onwards. The plane took off, tears. The plan landed, tears. Five loads of laundry, tears. Wait that was me. But before all that we had to disembark and wait for our vans to take us to the airport. And then when we got there we had to wait to check our bags because we were so early. Hence the suitcase corral. Then we had to wait in a line to check said bags for over and hour. And then security took almost another hour. And then McDonalds. It was necessary. All to say we had the best vacation and coming home to reality and cold isn’t fun, anyone would agree. Cruise content over and out!!

disney cruise: castaway cay

Disney’s private island! Sounds so fancy. It was quite the day! We pulled up and within thirty minutes the crew had managed to unload what needed to be unloaded for the day and off we went! We staked our claim on several lounges right by the water and the kids started their digging process. We had rented bikes and left shortly to go ride around the island a bit which was actually pretty fun (have you met Dom? He can ruin any activity)! We got to climb a rickety observation tower and I had Sound of Music vibes in my head. Back to the beach and lunch and of course ice cream before snorkeling! We were really looking forward to this, sunken treasures throughout the lagoon! Mickie and Minnie, a part of the Dumbo ride, and my favorite, Prince Eric. It was really cool! We did discover late to the game that there was a place for the kids to get dropped off and and so naturally, we did that. No one wanted to leave but sadly this ship waits for no man! Back on board and one final dinner with the best crew! And a last visit to the Lab for the kids and a pajama party while us adults said goodbye to our favorite lounge…. All the goodbyes!!

disney cruise: day at sea

The final. Which is just the saddest. There was breakfast and mini golf, basketball and a door hanging craft. We found our first hidden rubber duckie (a thing, apparently) and met more characters…. Then we had a Woody and Friends breakfast which was a special thing signed up for weeks prior…. Singing and dancing Woody! Then we hit the water activities on deck before the lab and lunch and then my favorite, relaxing in the adult only section with a book and a beverage. Of course one gets ice cream before getting ready for our semi-formal night. This night is one I was really looking forward to as we all got to draw a character and then in true Disney magic they animate them for us and put them up on the screen for all to see. It was so fun! This night was also another show night, Frozen! Really amazing how they pull these shows off! It was a day of days but what a way to go out with a bang!

disney cruise: st. thomas and st. john

Quite the different boat experience this day… but I’ll get to that later. I haven’t been back to St. Thomas since I was fifteen…. And at first glance not much had changed. We were greeted with yet another morning rainbow which the kids got a kick out of seeing both the start and the end… we took a very crowded (possibly overbooked) ferry over to St. John where we could explore on our own…. We wandered and explored a bit but decided to settle by a bar on the water for the morning enjoying the sights and the tree climbing and the drinks. Back on board we put the kids in the lab while the adults relaxed a bit before our departure and then of course more characters and dinner! And a visit to our favorite lounge to round out the evening!

disney cruise: pirate night!

Our best day ever ended in such a fun way, pirate night! Eye patches and bandanas were donned, and we were even underdressed! Some people really take it so far! After dinner there was another deck party and fireworks which sadly we did not make it that late…. It was such a long day but oh such a good one!

disney cruise: tortola and norman island part ii

With a bunch more photos! Lunch was delicious, the beach was stunning…. We could have stayed there all day. Even with a little jelly fish sting here or there. Dom and Kayla are just too sweet they couldn’t help themselves. But alas we wanted to move on to get some more snorkel time in. This time we moored by a rock in the middle of the water. Such deep water. There was more jumping and snorkeling. More drinks and relaxing before heading sadly back to our bigger ship, the Fantasy. This is a day that dreams are made of and I am so glad that we all got to experience it together! Thank you so much Nonna and Pop!

disney cruise: tortola and norman island

Otherwise known as the best day ever. If you follow along on Instagram then you were most certainly inundated with photos and videos from this day. It was just quite the deal. I’m going to have to break this up into two parts because there are just too many photos. My parents treated us to our own private catamaran! I can’t even with that sentence. Beth found the charter and took care of all the logistics including finding our way to the marina. Mike and Riever took us out on the ocean to do whatever we wanted to do, all while slinging drinks and navigating eight children. We had some good tunes and absolutely gorgeous views! The first stop was for some snorkeling. There were caves! I didn’t venture too far into them but the water was so clear and so very deep and I finally conquered my fear of the snorkel. It’s been a minute. The kids enjoyed jumping off the ship on repeat too. Then we packed up and headed to a private island for lunch at a gorgeous restaurant right on the water. Oh please bring me back to this day of days! More tomorrow!

disney cruise: day at sea

The second. Although this one was extra special because it was this ship’s third PIXAR Day at Sea. Which basically mean nothing but PIXAR content all day. We were lucky enough to snag two meet and greets, one with Woody and Friends and one with the Supers… then there was some swim time and more characters… Miguel and Doug and Mike… in between the Lab and foods and special treats for children young and not so young…. Dinner was delicious of course and then we had ourselves a PIXAR deck party! Noise and people and dancing! And then we did that again at 10:15 which concluded with fireworks. At sea! It was quite the deal but quite a late night. And we had an early morning the next day so… must sleep!

disney cruise: day at sea

The first of three! I love these days! Surrounded by the sea on every side… food and ice cream at your disposal whenever you want… no real schedule unless you want to inflict one. It’s perfect! Being a Disney cruise we did of course enforce some sort of schedule. There is just so much to be done and we just want to do it all! A quick run with a rainbow… breakfast delivered to the room… a swim or a slide. Characters or a craft! The sky is the limit! This particular day we had a Royal Gathering scheduled where the girls (and Nonna!) got to meet four princesses! Oh the magic of not having a line is just quite a luxury! All the things. And of course then an adult favorite, putting the kids in the Oceaneer’s Lab so we can have quiet time on the adult deck that feels like it is on a totally different ship. Those few hours recharge the batteries before it is time for pick-up and snacks, followed by showers and characters and dinner. It was also formal night this night so we got dressed up in our finest and had some complimentary cocktails. The girls also had a personal little walk with Belle… a walk and talk if you will! And then a show: Aladdin!

disney cruise: embarkation day

Our embarkation day didn’t get too early of a start which was kind of nice… had ourselves a lot of breakfast foods and relaxed till it was time for the shuttle to take us to the port. Once there we got through security before awaiting our boarding group to be called. And then came the big announcement I’m sure you’ve seen around here or there… staff line each side of the entrance and they announce your name and clap as you come aboard, all with Mickey overseeing. The magic just starts immediately!! We got some foods before settling in to our rooms which was a disaster in my room since I packed outfits for all in each different bag. Logistical nightmare! Then we had our muster station drill and dinner to round out our very first night. And of course character meet and greets! We sent the kids to the Oceaneer’s Lab (the kid’s camp) for a pajama party but the boys didn’t last as long as hoped…. We also found our favorite bar, the Skyline Lounge, where the “window” view changes to another European city every twelve minutes. And if you look closely the photos move!

disney cruise time: first, cocoa beach

How do I begin to even recap this vacation or vacations? It is a daunting task to be sure. Over 1,200 photos and videos daunting. So I’ll start slowly and take it a day at a time. The first day started at 1:30 am in fact. We rolled out of bed and went to my parents’ where two big vans were waiting to take us and all of our many pieces of luggage to the airport. A quick stop at my brother’s house and we were well on our way. It went so quickly… perfect timing at the airport with a quick breakfast before boarding. Another two vans took us from the Orlando airport to our hotel in Cape Canaveral and thankfully one room was available at that time for said luggage. Breakfast. Beach. Pool. It was a great way to start the vacation! The beach does a Olsen body good! Later that afternoon my Floridian friend Kerri and her man friend came to visit and we had a lovely dinner out and balcony hangs before calling it a night. It is like no time has passed at all with that one, I’ll tell you what! It was a long day but such a good one! 

These photos may be slightly out of order and while that fact bugs me it does not bug me enough to fix them. Did I mention 1,200 photos?

friends exchanging gifts

It took us a little bit but we finally were able to get together with this group and the kids got to exchange the gifts they picked out for each other. Secret Santa style. It was so much fun for them and cool to see for me how well they knew their friends. Favorite colors. Candy. Football teams, etc. Across the board. We had quite the brunch too because we can’t get together without food am I right? And now it is time for all the Christmas decor to go away… until next year!

cousins reunited and it feels so good!

The cousins got together for the first time in weeks this past Sunday! And after breakfast Beth and Colton used one of their guest passes to get them into our gym so they could practice their snorkeling skills…. The kids had so much fun being together and I think some of my kids loved being out in public amongst PEOPLE. But I’m also glad we had another day to rest. Winter pool time takes a lot of you I think.  

life lately…

Has been dominated by the flu. New Years Day brought with it a trip to Urgent Care for Dom… and they swabbed him while he was there which led to a flu strain A detection early the next morning. And so begins two weeks of the flu. All plans cancelled. Hunkering down for the next two weeks….. Matt and Letty have also tested positive for it… and David had two days of a random fever. We have played a lot of Life… and broken out whenever we could. I won’t say we are in the clear because I don’t want to jinx myself but…. Here we are. No fevers since last Tuesday late night. Four out of five of us sick and on the mend… lots of snuggles and liquids and early bedtimes and naps and quite the pharmacy set up on my counter. Did I forget to mention Lysol? That too. 2023 started off with a real kicker!

happy new year!

Have we recovered? Because I feel like personally I did not. Break was far too short! Even with the unexpected Monday off it was still not enough. But I digress. New Years Eve! Typically we are with family on this night… but some of us had some friend invites too so we improvised! Dinner at my parents’ house first! With poppers!

urban air

Oh the lights. The music. The chaos! This new indoor trampoline (and a million other things) park is quite the rage lately! Dom has been invited to three birthday parties there in the past two months alone! But not all of the cousins have had the opportunity to check it out, and when my parents learned of the great Black Friday deal they jumped on it so everyone could go together. They were definitely more short staffed then when I’ve been there on other occasions but the kids got to do every little thing they wanted too. Including laser tag! Multiple times! It was an epic five hour long day… thank you Nonna and Pop!