Friday, July 25, 2014

Harry Potter Happiness

In the weeks before our trip, Universal Studios started running ads for their new Harry Potter attraction.  We hadn't made plans to go to Universal, because it was expensive and having been there nine years ago, didn't think they had much to offer then.

But then, there was an hour-long TV special on Diagon Alley, at Universal Studios.  Will and I watched together, amazed.  I said to Brian, "Now I'm dying to go!"  Because he's so wonderful, he said "Not like we're going to Orlando all the time.  Since Sean and I won't get anything out of it, why don't I drop the two of you off one day?"  :)

And so we went!

Hogsmeade, the Magical Village.  We got to try butterbeer here!  It's delicious and tastes like butterscotch.

Trying to pull off a selfie in front of Hogsmeade.  

Look!  It's one of Hagrid's "Monster books."  This was creepy-looking up close and actually growled.

Hogwarts!  The ride "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" is inside, and you walk all through Hogwarts to get to it.  We went through some passages that had talking portraits just like in the books.  In one area, the portraits of the four founders of Hogwarts argue with each was incredible.  I had to beg/convince Will to go on the ride with me, it wasn't easy.  Afterwards when I asked what he thought of it, he said " had it's ups and downs.  I liked the quidditch flying but was scared of the dementors."

Bought him his very own wand.  One of the COOLEST features of the Harry Potter Wizarding World is that there were wand prompts everywhere, and they were interactive with the wands.  Standing in front of Honeydukes, if you made a particular movement with your wand arm and repeated the spell written on the ground, a big box of chocolate frogs would open in the window and start ribbitting.

Bertie Botts every flavour beans!  We brought some home and are afraid to try would be too with flavours like earthworm, earwax and ugh....VOMIT.

This is where we picked up the new Hogwarts Express Train and took it to the other side of the park, to Diagon Alley.  Diagon Alley was simply incredible.  You step out onto what looks like the streets of London, and have to go looking for Diagon Alley because obviously there's no signs.  And then suddenly, there you are!  It was absolutely crowded, but you couldn't hear the people in Diagon Alley from the street.  I don't know how they do that!

Weasley's Wizardly Wheezes.

I can't say enough good things about this experience.  I love how Universal Employees really get into it.  We were in a shop and looking at hats and gloves with "Gryffindor" markings and an employee said "Professor Trelawney warned me to expect this....need to restock the gloves!"  I was paying for a Christmas ornament in the same shop and when it came time to sign the receipt the cashier said "Your signature for the Ministry, please."  They did such a great job bringing the pages of the book alive!

p.s.  the only thing I feel that we missed out on was not getting to ride "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts."  Brian dropped us off really early, soon after the park opened.  We went to the Hogsmeade Side first and by the time we made it to the Diagon Alley side the ride had a 300 minute wait.  Yeah.....that's five hours.  FIVE HOURS.  There's no way a seven year old can stand in a hot line for 5 hours....and I promised no more wild rides after the last one!  There's always next time.  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hello, Disney!

We just got back on Saturday from Orlando.  Whew!  I cannot put it all in one post, but in a word, I can tell you that the trip was FANTASTIC.  And after that....I can tell you most of it in pictures.  Day One:  Magic Kingdom

 The boys' first flight was great.  They loved it, especially Sean. 

 Mom and I arriving at the Magic Kingdom.

 My parents and Will on Main Street USA, with a glipse of the Castle in the back.  Sean is currently going through a phase where he doesn't like his picture being taken.

 Everyone told me that it would be hot in July in Orlando, but it wasn't unbearable.  The parks had lots of cooling stations and splash features for kids.  Here's the boys, cooling off.  

Oh, and those great tie-dye shirts that we did?  Yeah......I didn't "cure" them so they stained all over everything.  Bummer!

 Happy Seanie....take him to Disney World and he's happiest playing in a puddle.

More pictures, more posts, COMING UP!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend!

These are all the things that made for a special Fourth weekend.  We tie-dyed shirts (and I'm still washing dye off my fingers, and oddly, two left toes.)  The next picture is of my mom at my SIL's annual family picnic in RI, showing off her homemade pie skills.  (It was just as delicious as it looks here)  The last one is of my boys playing with the BALL that comes out at the picnic each year!  It was the first time that the picnic was held on the fifth of July, due to rain/thunderstorms/Hurricane Arthur.  It was a gorgeous day for it, though.

But the biggest part was finally letting the cat out of the bag to the kids....We're not going to the Cape for vacation as promised....we're going to ORLANDO!!!  At first they were a little skeptical, now they're totally excited!  And making lists and schedules of what we're going to see, Will watching the TV special of "The Making of Diagon Alley" the newest Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios....etc etc.  We're all so excited!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ice Cream Festival!!

 Mom and Dad are taking us to the Ice Cream Festival in Worcester!  Even though one of us doesn't like ice cream, we're still pretty psyched!

 Mom and Dad are pretty psyched too.  After all, it's not every day that there's all-you-can-eat ice cream, AND you get to benefit a local organization.  :)

Mr. "Ice Cream is too cold for me" changed his mind and tried some raspberry chocolate chip.  He liked it so much he requested it the second time we went under the ice cream tent.

 Mom with her goofy kids.  Love the hats and the sunglasses.

 Horsing around with Dad in the park....taking a break from the bounce house and the ice cream.

 Daddy is the best tickler in the world.  And I think Will's hungry again.  

And let's end the day with a train ride.  This just keeps getting better.  :)

This was a ridiculous amount of fun, on a lovely Saturday.  We've already put the "Big Dipper Ice Cream Festival" on the calendar for next summer.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Last Box

It's done.

7.  send a box of handmade baby items to Stitches from the Heart every six months (6/29/14)

The last box is packed.  

This time it's 24 hats, three blankets, and one little pants and hooded sweater set for a lucky preemie boy.

I shouldn't call this "the last box" because it isn't.  I'll still mail hats and blankets to Stitches from the Heart.  After all, I've made 169 hats total and I'm not sure how many blankets and have no intention of stopping.

However, after the frigid winter we had this past year, I want to make some things for older kids.  So, I'm attempting to organize a group effort from my knitting group to a homeless shelter in the city.  I sent an email to one of the bigger shelters on Friday afternoon to inquire about how many people approximately to knit for, to donate to this November.  My knitting friends that I meet up with on Wednesday nights are on board, and it's going to be fun!  I'm on a hat-making binge, having just started an adult pink hat at 11:59pm on Friday night and binding it off this afternoon.  And mittens!  Kids need warm hands.  So do their moms and dads.  Warmth=kindness, and that's what we're spreading.  Who doesn't need a little kindness!  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

At the Car Wash

The boys and I are weird in the sense that we find a car wash to be very relaxing.  I've felt like this since I was a kid...there's something about scrubbing and the auto passage thru the tunnel, getting rid of all of the dead bugs on the windshield.  Followed by the "rain" and then the dryers sucking the water off the car.  It's a mood changer, it really is.  And afterwards, your car smells like lemon polish.  :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Last Day of First Grade!!

For the last day of school today, let's show the evolvement of a photo.

 Yes, I know that you're sad this morning.  Let's be happy for a minute and do our annual "End of the School Year" photo.  Remember, this summer we're going on vacation, and you have a list of things that you want to do that you wrote yourself?  Focus on that for a minute.

 Cheese!  What, you don't want Dad in the picture?  C'mon buddy, a little smile.  We're gonna watch the last Star Wars movie today!  I only take pics a few times a year.  Indulge your mother, huh?

 Ah, you perk up at Star Wars huh?  Awesome.  Now let's work on a smile that doesn't belong on a robot.

He's laughing because I said "Great.  Now give me a smile that doesn't look like The Joker from Batman." And we have our winner:  a big natural smile from a kid that's looking forward to summer.

It's been a long year with a lot of adjustments.  But we're coming through the tunnel on the other end of the school year and we all survived.  And there's lots of good things that happened this year, too.   I can't believe this kid is going to Second Grade in August.  (Is it me, or are summers shorter than when I was a kid??)

Happy Last Day of School, everyone!