From the camera roll…

Pretty kitty

Pretty butterfly. I’ve been getting out and walking more often, trying to enjoy this beautiful area we live in.

Eve came to the farm with me this week to pick up our CSA share. She picked some beautiful flowers as well and put them all over the house.

Ummm…. We might be considering getting a dog again… 😬

My awesome hubby has been working hard to take care of all of the people in this town. He is amazing and we are lucky to have him. 💜

A Tesla!

Sooo…. this happened while I was away.

Not that I wasn’t expecting it. :)  Alan worked hard to find an all-electric car (his want) that can make it to my parents house in a single charge (my requirement).  He worked hard to find it and even harder to get it!  Lots of false starts, last minute plan changes, and even a few trips to the airport, but he made it happen!

One very happy man with two all electric cars. :)

Not only did he work hard to get this car…. but he’s letting me be the primary driver!!  How crazy is that?! :)  It is a pretty awesome car.  The kids and I have been having fun exploring the features (both functional and entertaining) while cruising around doing our errands.  We are pretty luck to have such an thoughtful, hardworking, loving man looking out for our safety and comfort, not to mention the survival of the planet!

The “gas guzzling” Prius has been relegated to the driveway.

Country living

Eve decided to go back to summer camp in NY, so we’re spending a week in the country.  We dropped her off on Friday and she even allowed me to take a picture! :)

Cabin 9, just like last time.

Camp starts with a swim test. I snuck a little picture. She passed the test with no trouble at all.

While she was away, Lex and I hung at in Franklin. We watched G’Tom and his friend repaint the house, we had a little mani/pedi session, we watched lots of TV and played lots of Minecraft … I say “we” but I think you can guess who did what! :)

Greg, hard at work painting. Mema was gardening and Tom was painting, but somehow neither of them ended up in my photo.

Just for fun.

We also took a trip to Target, saw Toy Story 4, watched the Tour de France, and took a few walks.  The heat steadily rose all week.

We picked up Eve on Friday. She had a great time at camp and is already planning her return.

A cheer tunnel for all the campers to run through. Camp is fun!

Closing ceremony. It’s hot and humid, and Eve is wearing her sweatshirt. At least it is unzipped!

Eve introduced us to all her new “friends,” that included a few animals she made at craft time, and a collection of rocks she drew faces on.

She made friends (of the human variety), collected email addresses, and is now enjoying a screen-filled day today.  :)  We are all spending the day doing as little as possible and riding out the record high temps.

Life in the country. <3

 

Vacation to the magical world of Harry Potter! – part 2

I ran out of time and energy last night.  Here’s the rest of the vacation story. :)

Days one and two.

Day Three: Islands of Adventure

After waking up early for the early park admission deal, then staying out very late the night before, we decided to not set an alarm this morning.  Alan decided he wanted to go to the gym for awhile, so I took the kids to Islands of Adventure, with a stop at Voodoo donuts first!

We took the water taxi to the donut shop while Alan went to the gym. We enjoyed it, but keep that in mind if I start complaining about how awful I look in all of these pictures!! #consequences

Voodoo Donuts. This place had soooooooo many options. We were pretty overwhelmed!

Voodoo Donuts had so many options.  There was a rotating display of all of the donuts (display ones, not the ones you actually buy) and even after watching that for awhile we couldn’t make up our minds! We ended up going with a cake donut, a jelly filled donut, a blueberry donut, and… a glazed donut. Then we split them all and shared.  :)

Off to find Spiderman!

First stop in Islands of Adventure was Super Hero Island.  Turns out it’s called Islands of Adventure, because each section of the theme park is considered its own “island.”  Not that they are actual islands in any way, you just walk from one themed area to the next, noting the signs in the pavement telling you when you’re entering a new island. :)

We went on the Spiderman 3D ride (Eve’s favorite!), bought some churros (it’s a Spiderman thing), ate a terrible lunch at the Comics cafe on Toon Island, explored Jurassic Park island, then met up with Alan. He and Eve did the Spiderman ride again then we all headed back to Hogsmeade to see what it looked like in the daytime.

Hogwarts

Danger: Book May Bite!

Notice the tongue is not coming out of the mouth. They did a good job on this “book.”

By this point we were all exhausted again and ready to head back to the hotel, but not without a visit to Seussville first!

We took a silly Sneeches ride which gave us a view of the whole of Seussville.

Circus McGurkus up ahead.

Sylvester McMonkey McBean and his money making machine. I was really hoping we get stars on our bellies, but sadly, we did not.

Then back to the hotel for some downtime. The kids grabbed devices, I grabbed a book, and Alan grabbed a towel and headed to the pool to sunbathe. :)  After awhile we met up again at the pool and had a little snack.  I’m not normally a foodie photographer, but I had to take a picture of this meal:

They had tofu available as a topping! I was not expecting that!

Eve got a smoothie that came with a gummy fish on top. She was thrilled! She decided to keep it for a pet… until we made her throw it away a few days later. :)

Then we decided to head back to the parks so we could try taking the Hogwarts Express in the opposite direction. We were told “they are two totally different experiences!”  I say, meh. Both stations looked different, but you still waited on line and rode the same train.

We saw a dance-off between the girls from Beauxbaton and the boys from Durmstrang.

Waiting for the train at Hogsmeade Station.

Back in Universal Studios we happened across a character parade. That was fun to watch as we walked past.

We did the Transformers 3D ride and later saw Bumblebee doing some dancing in the streets.

On the way back we did the Transformers 3D ride and the Simpsons 3D ride. Both were fun.  I think I’m getting all of this in the right order.  If not, oh well. This is where my photos for the day end, so I’m trying to remember what we did for dinner.  I think this was the night we went to the fancy Italian restaurant at City Walk (the area just outside the parks where there are lots of restaurants and shops). We marveled at the wide range of fashion at the restaurant. Some were clearly dressed to the nines for dates or celebrations, while others (like us) were clearly fresh out of the theme parks. It was a great meal though and the staff didn’t seem to care how we were dressed!  We also enjoyed seeing the family next to us all reading at the table! :)

Day Four: Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay is the third park that’s part of Universal Studios Orlando and Volcano Bay is purely a water park. We decided to spend the third full day of our visit there because it had the best forecast with the least likely chance of rain or tornado warnings. Unfortunately we did a lousy job prepping for this park and mostly ended up not enjoying it. Sadly. We woke up and got ready, no alarms or rushing out the door, then took the bus ride over. By the time we got there and got into the park it was already 10:30 am and super hot. (mistake one) We found some chairs in the sun (all the shaded ones were claimed – mistake two) and tried to apply sunscreen.  We should have done that back in the hotel because at this point it was hard to tell what was sunscreen and what was sweat!  Already we all felt kinda gross. (mistake three)  Because Volcano Bay is a wate rpark, they have these fancy wristbands that link to your ticket and credit card so you can stow your stuff in a locker and just wear the wristbands.  They also let you “check in” for rides and add your self to virtual wait lines. What they didn’t do was tell you the time of day (their mistake!), so although I looked at it a hundred times wondering what time it was, it never told me. It was also harder than it needed to be to get the tickets and CC info into the not-watch, so by the time we were actually read to go have fun it was probably 11:00 am. Here was my only picture at Volcano Bay.

My one picture before locking up my phone in a locker for the day.

We walked around, burned our feet on the pavement (no water shoes – mistake four) despite the park’s effort at keeping the walkways cool with water misters. We got in a virtual line for one ride, went on another that didn’t have a line, walked around some more, did the first ride, maybe did another one, it’s all kind of a blur. By this time it was clearly lunch time, I could tell because the sun was past it’s high point and starting to descend, how’s that for primitive time keeping!  They only had a few restaurants in the park and each were themed, which made it hard for this picky family to find something to eat. Alan wanted to eat at every restaurant, but we eventually found one that had stuff me and the kids would eat. Of course we weren’t the only ones with the lunch idea, so the lines were ridiculous!  We were all hot and hungry and having no fun at this point. The restaurants were all grab-and-go type places too, so after waiting in long lines, you then had to find a place to sit and eat.Alan went back to the lockers while I waited in the food line, and returned with water bottles and sunscreen. By this point we were well past sunscreen reapplication time as well, so we reapplied while standing in the sun, eating at a burning hot table and generally wishing we were back in the AC at the hotel! I also hated walking around in a bathing suit all day with nothing to carry. Sounds dumb, but I missed having my phone (clock!) and water and access to sunscreen, clothes, etc. It just wasn’t for me.

We were on a virtual ride line during lunch, so we did that ride and then decided to call it quits. This fair-skinned New England family knows when it’s had enough time in the sun! We headed back to the hotel for showers, water (oh, so much water!), and a few rounds of Spades.

Can you tell we’re feeling better by this point? :)

Lessons learned: Go early or late, bring food, wear water shoes, wear a waterproof watch, wear a coverup, or just skip the water park altogether! :)

After showers, cards, and dinner at the hotel we were all feeling much better.  Eve started talking about dessert so we decided to venture into Islands of Adventure again to check out a cafe we’d seen: The Croissant Moon Cafe. We had croissants and cheesecake!  Yum! Then we wandered into Seussville again to check out the bookstore and ride the carousel.

Another attempt at a family photo. :P

Challenge accepted!

Books, and some other stuff too.

Once again we closed the parks, walking out with the crowds after park hours.

Day Five: Parks, Friends, and a Tesla!

We had spent three full days in the parks, which was our plan, but since our tickets included a few free days as well, we decided to swing by one more time before checking out on Saturday morning. We’d heard a rumor that the guy at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes would do an adoption ceremony for pigmypuffs and that the Owl Post would mail postcards, so we made our way back to DIagon Alley.  Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron (more pancakes!)

The Leaky Cauldron was a pretty cool place.

Haha.. the adoption ceremony was a surprise! A story best told in person.

The Owl Post

 

Postmarked Diagon Alley. :)

Then, I took the kids to pick up our luggage while Alan went to pick our rental car — a Tesla! It was a pretty sweet ride!

One happy guy right here!

Next stop, Mike and Andrea’s house!  They were kind enough to host us for a few days while we detoxed from theme-park overload! :)

A little time in the pool.

Days Six and Seven: Fun with friends

We went to a science museum, did lots of swimming, watched movies, ate ice cream, and generally had relaxing fun with our Florida friends.

Alan was so impressed with my mad balancing skills. I told him years of practice, hanging out at science museums with young kids. You get pretty good at balancing disks and spinning pennies.

Video games everywhere! College flash-backs! :)

We had a lot of fun with the greenscreen and on-air weather reporting.

Day Eight: Traveling home

The day finally came to head home. We were sad to leave, but happy to be heading home as well.

I told Eve to make sure she had everything…. she tried to pack Max!

Florida gave us a pretty cool farewell sun at 6am.

After our last flight out of Orlando (2013 – many years ago) I learned my lesson to get there early, preprint tickets, and not check luggage!

These two are travelling pros! I gave up all hope of controlling screentime while traveling.

We had an easy flight to Raleigh, NC then a long layover.  During the layover it got even longer when bad weather over New England delayed flights in and out of all the airports. Our 3pm flight got pushed back to 4pm, then 6pm, then a ticketing agent rebooked us on 5pm flight and gave us $60 for dinner!

We did play a lot of Spades while we waited too.

The 5pm flight was delayed for awhile, but we eventually took off with a fun and funny flight staff and arrived safely in Boston with our luggage and senses of humor in tact.

This girl is a pretty good traveler too. :)

All the delays gave us lots of time for cards. And junk food. And more cards.

We arrived back in rainy Boston, picked up our dirty not-Tesla, and headed home. We were all hungry (funny enough) and so we stopped at a super yummy restaurant at 9:45pm for a late night dinner. We were home by midnight! Over 18hrs of travel, but we all kept our calm and had fun with each other.

Now we are enjoying a no-plans week at home!

If these selection of photos wasn’t enough for you, feel free to view the whole Google Album. There are some videos in there as well. Enjoy!

Vacation to the magical world of Harry Potter!

Hey all. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for a blog update. :)  When we got back from vacation I had to get caught up on my capstone research project, plus prepping for the tech camp I’m running next week, plus some website work for the district and for the Vermont Library Association (yeah, I volunteered to help them, ’cause, why not?!) so all of my “screentime” went into those efforts. Now I’m feeling a little caught up and thought a blog post was in order! :)

Last week we flew down to Orlando, FL to experience the magic of Harry Potter world.  Technically it’s The Wizarding World at Universal Studios, but really HP was the main attraction, with Spiderman coming in a close second!

Day One: Travel and The Chocolate Emporium

We had an easy flight down to Florida. I opted for convenient travel times instead of bottom dollar prices for this trip, so we flew out of Logan around noon and landed in Orlando around 3pm.

The first of many attempts at a nice family picture. Eve is less than cooperative these days.

We took a Lyft from the airport to our hotel. As we drove past the Universal sign I told the driver to pull-over! He said ok!  Turns out he was stopping for a red light anyway. :)

We have arrived!

We stayed at the Loews Royal Caribbean Resort on the Universal Studios campus. They gave us red carpet treatment the whole time.

After checking and stowing our stuff, we ventured out to find dinner.  What better place for dinner than The Chocolate Emporium!

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen™

The had some pretty crazy desserts, especially these “milkshakes” that had chopped up stuff mixed in and full-on desserts on top!  We all shared one for dessert and it was delicious, but more than enough.

Milkshakes on display

Alan and I split an amazing appetizer (Avocado Bruschetta: Fresh avocado, fried avocado, avocado crema, tomatoes, balsamic reduction, toasted ciabatta) and were duly let down when the meal came.  Lots of “meh” feelings all around.  We got a chocolate brownie milkshake so we could end on a high note. :)

Penelope came to chat with us. The restaurant has a whole backstory that somehow combines chocolate with steampunk. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but Penelope was fun to chat with.

Day Two: Universal Studios, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and a Tornado warning!

On day two we were ready to go into the parks!  We started at Universal Studios and headed straight for Diagon Alley. We had early park admission as well, so we got up early and got in before the crowds.

Another attempt at a family photo.

Diagon Alley was pretty cool. Tons of little shops on the outside, many of which weren’t real stores or connected together on the inside.

Diagon Alley

There’s also a dragon sitting on top of Gringott’s.  Sometimes he roars fire!

Beware the dragon!

We went to Ollivanders and saw the wand ceremony. My kids were happy to not have been chosen for the ceremony. :)  We watched another kid go through it though and then we purchased wands. The decision was a tough one! So much for the wand choosing the wizard!

Ollivanders Wand Shop

Outside there are a bunch of areas that you can perform a magic spell and make something happen.  They are embedded into the brick walkway. We had fun finding the places and making magic happen.

Eve, preparing to cast a spell.

It was fun seeing all the treats that they talk about in the books. No Melt Ice-Cream made me laugh. It looks like a cup full of frosting.  Yum!

Yummy!

We had brunch at The Leaky Cauldron Pancakes for everyone, four little trays of breakfast meat for Alan. :)

Brunch at The Leaky Cauldron

We realized pretty quickly that we are not theme-park people. We did one ride (Escape from Gringott’s) and by early afternoon when the sun was hot and the streets were crowded, we decided to make our way home, with a short detour through Springfield.

The Night Bus

Hot and tired and refusing to take off her robes. Also refusing to talk to the shrunken head (which talks back!) because it isn’t a true part of the Harry Potter story.

We swung through Springfield, ate some churros, rode the Simpson’s ride (fun!), rode an alien ride (kids only), laughed at Moe’s Tavern, and moseyed on out of town. It started to rain during dinner, so we headed back to the hotel for a little while. The goal was go to back out after the rain, but the weather decided not to cooperate. Oh well.

It started raining just as we were approaching the hotel, so we got soaked, but not for long. Back at the hotel we changed and settled in for an afternoon break.

The view from the bridge we crossed to enter the hotel.

We ended up with a tornado warning, lots of rain, and high winds… so we stayed inside and played cards instead.  :)  Alan’s family always loved playing Spades, so he took this opportunity to teach the kids how to play. They loved it too!

A lovely afternoon to be inside!

As much fun as we were having, I was antsy and wanted to get back out there, so when the storm cleared we decided to head back for dinner and to catch the light show at Hogwarts. We had a fun dinner at Cowfish, a restaurant that specializes in sushi and burgers. They even have PB&J sushi for the kids. Then we headed back into Universal Studios to take the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade.

King’s Cross Station — heading to Hogsmeade!

The train was a ride in and of itself, with the windows being screens that showed HP characters along the way, and some dark happenings in the hallway. We were all safe inside our cabin though. When we got to Hogsmeade we discovered it was winter there! Everything was covered in “snow.” It was very cute, especially at night.

Honeydukes… because what else is there to do at 9:45pm!

They have a whole light show on the castle each night. It had a part for each house. There are some videos in the Google album if you want to see it.

Hogwarts!

With the parks being officially closed after that, we walked out, with the throng of other park-goers, through Suessville, and other areas, discussing what we wanted to come back for the next day.

Our first day was spent in Universal Studios, but the Hogswart Express goes from there to Islands of Adventure (another park) where Hogsmeade is located. We spent the next day exploring Islands of Adventure.  Stay tuned…

Days three through eight.

Honors and Graduation

The end of the school year is always busy, but it’s a little extra busy with Lex graduating from middle school this year.  Earlier this week was Honor’s Night and tonight was their graduation ceremony.  Lex made Honor Roll for the past two years and High Honors in 6th grade.  Before Honors Night he was asked to give the Student Speech for his team, but he said a hearty “thanks, but no thanks!”

Shaking hands with the principal.

Check out the cool clothes!

 

Tonight we went to 8th grade graduation, which was a lovely ceremony in the field beside the school.  The weather ended up being perfect, despite days of thunderstorm warnings.

I dragged Eve along to both nights, despite her best efforts to be miserable.

This year they asked the students to answer a short questionnaire and then used their answers to say a few things about each student at graduation. I missed his name being called (but they called him Alexander, so whatever) but caught his comments.  Watch his team teachers try to give him a hug in the background.  :)

He’s so handsome. :)

Lex and his band teacher. This guy was an instrumental part of his middle school success!

Not sure how two such dorky parents ended up with such an awesome son!

I feel like I should post something deep and meaningful, but I don’t have it right now.  It was neat to see all the parents of kids he went to elementary school, and even preschool, with!  Everyone’s looking as old as I am. LOL!  I have special fondness for his DBS class and was proud of each and every one of them.  So cool to see them all growing up.  Lex is happy and confident and ready for high school!  But first, summer vacation!

All about this guy!

I asked for a picture of us together for his birthday. We remembered at the end of the day and got this dark, tired picture. Maybe he’ll let me try again on a sunny summer day. 

He had a birthday recently.  14 years old!  Finishing up middle school and preparing for high school!  He’s excited and feels ready.

Morning presents

Books! Surprise!! :) :)

Aunt Rosy got him grown up books!!

He didn’t want a cake or a party this year, but he did request macaroons. Yum! Lex and Alan even dipped half of them in chocolate!

We had a nice day.  Pizza and a movie for dinner.  He didn’t want a cake, but did want macaroons.  I guess he’s a birthday cookie guy, like his dad.  He’s 5′ 6″ and didn’t even gloat that he’s taller than me, and he started shaving!  Eeek!

He is a rock star in karate and a rock star in band.  The middle school held their spring concert this week and Lex once again stole the show, in my opinion anyway!  After the jazz band songs, the director even called out the percussion crew by name, just Lex and his buddy.

Lex on the drum set

For March of the Armed Forces, the band director asked people in the audience to stand when their anthem is played.  It was neat seeing how many (if any) people stood for each one.

He’s rocking his school work as well.  Not only will he be on the honor roll again this year, but he was asked to give the 8th grade speech at Honors Night!!  He said “thanks, but no thanks!”

A sci-fi version of Don Quixote, all in Spanish. He has a 105% average in Spanish!

He is such an amazing, smart, funny (and punny!), handsome fellow.  He’s content with life, happy at home and at school, and moving forward as a competent and confident human being.  I’m so lucky he’s part of my world. <3

Middle School Musical

The middle school musical this year is Once on This Island Jr. The original version is a TONY award winning show in Broadway.  These middle schoolers were pretty close. :)

Eve played a villager in the show and Lex worked the spotlights.  They both had fun, though Eve will deny that to her dying day.  Lex was happy that after putting in the time for the last two years, he was finally getting to do something more interesting.

See the elegant villager in the purple shirt and peach skirt? She’s my favorite villager!

Handsome tech crew!

Eve’s in the middle, towards the back. Big smile on her face!

Lex at work!

I took them to the show last night, Opening Night, and worked concessions.  Tonight Alan and Amanda went with them while I went to a free CrossFit Ladies Night. Now they are all getting ice cream and I’m home, drinking tea in my PJs.  It’s a pretty good Friday night. :)  Tomorrow is the final performance.  The highest praise I’ve heard so far came from my husband who said, “It was so great! I want to go back tomorrow night!”  Fortunately I bought a ticket for him, just in case. :)

Horseback riding

After many months of asking for lessons, I finally found a place that’s nearby and offers beginning horseback riding lessons.  It was not an easy task! Today was Eve’s first lesson.  She learned to groom the horse, tack it, and mount/dismount.  She was quiet and reserved, but when we left she said she loved it and definitely wants to continue with lessons.  That’s good, I suppose.  It will get her one step closer to her goal of living on a mountain side and riding a horse everywhere instead of owning a car.  :)

Mounted and ready to ride

She rode in the barn today to minimize distractions for her and the horse. Nothing to speedy today! :)

Hello Murial!

Clearly I’m going to have to work on my horse photography skills if this becomes a real hobby.

Happy Easter!

Easter, like many other “minor” holidays, has been in flux a bit over the past few years as the kids grow up.  Easter baskets are harder to fill as the kids lose interest in tchotchkes and really just want candy.   This year I didn’t add jelly beans because I didn’t get around to buying them, and when I asked the kids if they noticed anything missing they said, “Yeah, there were no jelly beans. Just like last year.”  Oops.  Good thing we already ate a bag of jelly beans earlier this month!  :)

Both kids were indecisive about coloring eggs this year, so we bought one box of dye and a dozen eggs and I got things started yesterday.  They halfheartedly joined in and colored a few eggs each.  I did most of them.  This morning I hid the eggs outside while they were playing MInecraft, then made them turn off the computers and go outside to find them.  That turned in to a lot of fun, with many rounds of hiding and finding.  The sky was threatening the whole time, but the rain held off.

And they’re off!

Alan joined in on the fun too!

We had lots of places to hide eggs, and a variety of boundaries.

Do you see the green egg?

This one is my favorite picture. The trees are blossoming! I can’t wait to find out what these flowers are going to be!

Hunting for Easter Eggs in a construction zone! Not the safest of ideas, but we had fun.

The final round was down in the pit. The kids each found six eggs, so they decided to rock/paper/scissors for a winner. :)

Can you guess who won?

Now we’re going to settle down for some dinner and a Spider-Man movie.  Very traditional celebrations around here.  :)

On a tangentially related topic, I’ve been thinking a lot about Grandpa and Grandma this week.  It started when I drove by a cute house in the neighborhood with colorful eggs hanging from a small tree and a cute Easter wreath on the door.  It made me think of a grandma house.  Later in the week I stood behind an elderly man at the grocery store with a cart full of Easter candy and small toys.  I guessed he had grandchildren coming and baskets to fill.  I was reminded of our visits to Grandpa’s house and all of Grandma’s little decorations, several of which I have now, but it’s not the same.  We were there one year when the kids were small and Grandpa and Grandma hid so many eggs and filled them with so much candy that both of the kids threw up!  It wasn’t funny at the time, but it sure is now.  And long, long ago wearing Easter dresses and hunting for eggs in the park in Northport.  For some reason Easter in my head is a grandma holiday.  Or just an excuse to eat candy and play hide and seek with colorful eggs.

(Apologies for my lack of religiousness in this post.  I know Easter has a much bigger meaning that chocolate and eggs, but that’s how we celebrate around here.)