Our 11-year-old earned her 1st Literary Award in a competition she entered months ago. She submitted a mini version of her 1st novella. It’s the 38th year of this competition & is open worldwide.
When Phillip read us the letter aloud, she jumped with pure delight feeling the fruits of her accomplishment after having spent months writing. We are so happy for her and very proud of her!
This gorgeous English countryside was captured on my cell phone! Breathtaking. Lush. So British.
During our 2-week trip to Europe to visit family, we went with some good friends to Northumberland. The girls loved that parts of Downton Abbey and Harry Potter were filmed here at Alnwick Castle.
Lots to do here including bamboo mazes, ventures through the magic fairy gardens, the famous Poison Garden and, of course, flying broomstick classes!!
On our way back to Grandma’s, we pulled off the highway to see the Angel of the North, a massive copper & steel statue in Newcastle Gateshead, believed to be the largest angel sculpture on the planet. The wingspan reaches wider than a jumbo jet and the angel stands 65 feet high, more than 4 double-decker buses! We’ve seen her on the hillside from the highway for over 15 years. This ride home, we actually pulled off the exit and made time to visit. Those are the life-changing things we have found we do facing this awful journey of cancer, click: Kicking Cancer!
Yes, actually seizing the day and doing what we wish at a moment’s notice because no one knows how many moments we all have. More than 150,000 people visit each year. This year, we’re one of those people.
The Bright Spot – Visiting family & friends…and pulling off the highway to really seize the day!!
During our 2-week stay in Europe, we visited the medieval city of Oxford, coined the “City of Dreaming Spires” by poet Matthew Arnold.
Our 11-year-old daughter & I just finished the 7 books by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, & the epic trilogy, His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman, both alumni of Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, established 1096.
What was completely remarkable was that there was only 1 parking spot available in this bustling college town when we arrived and it just so happened to be in front of the Eagle & Child pub – we were hungry, but we didn’t know how significant the place was until we walked in!!
Built in 1650, this favorite watering hole was frequented by Lewis, Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien and other members of “The Inklings,” the famous literary group!
So, of course, that’s where we had lunch!
Seriously, out of the whole city, what’s the chance of finding that one parking spot!
Our daughter, a published author & speaker by age 8 and now a prolific writer working on her 1st novel, felt the wall behind where we sat and breathed, “I’m touching history.”
Couldn’t be more perfect!
She ogled the Harry Potter Golden Egg in one of the store windows but opted for the snitch.
Before leaving historic Oxford, we stopped for tea & scones and some lovely smoked salmon.
The Bright Spot – Being surrounded by spirituality, architectural magnificence & educational brilliance, it was nourishing for our well-being at this most challenging time: Kicking Cancer
Birthdays are a big deal in our household. Turning double digits?
Well, that’s just momentous.
These photos are the tickets to an adventure of a lifetime: We took Little One on a Tweendom Extravaganza to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Titanic Artifact Exhibit, Disney’s Epcot Center, and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to visit Winter & Hope of Dolphin Tale 1 & 2, CoCo Key Water Resort & Mystic Aquarium.
We walked over 120,000 steps – thank you, pedometer – which translates to 52 miles!
In blue are links to Parts 2 & 3 of this story – yes – so remarkable, they deserve their own posts!
To explore the magical world of wizards & wands, chocolate frogs, Butterbeer & Platform 9 3/4, click Part 2: Harry Potter World
To see Winter, the sweet dolphin who lost her tail when she was only 2 months old, click Part 3: Winter & Hope
Animal Kingdom, Tree of Life, Rainforest lunch, up close with Little One’s favorite bird, Safari
Disney World’s beautiful Main Street and big smiles!
Cinderella’s castle, reserved birthday spot to see Disney’s Fantasy Parade & meet the characters,
Enjoying Disney’s Ferry Boat ride, power lines on the I-4 – cool!! and Epcot Center
Gorgeous Annual Flower Festival at Epcot, Space Center, coral reef cuddles
Dad & Little One enjoying the water resort where we stayed. That slide was insane!
♥♥♥ And best of all was celebrating at Mystic Aquarium & CoCo Key Water Resort with family & friends. ♥♥♥
Incantations, frothy Butterbeer, chocolate frogs & interactive wands. Hogsmeade & Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express & Flight of the Hippogriff…all wizarding wonders our young Harry Potter aficionado enthusiastically embraced.
Humidity & sunny 90 degree weather in a full-length black satin & polylined cloak ~ with a touch of heat exhaustion on the 2nd day ~ could not stop this 10-year-old from soaking in the sights & sounds of Universal’s magical adventure.
The conductor at Hogsmeade, spotting her special birthday pin, suddenly stopped the crowd of hundreds in the station to heartily announce the arrival of our birthday darling to which the crowd spontaneously erupted into thunderous applause.
It was a movie moment. A memory to last a lifetime.
Enjoy this 30-second video of Little One going through Platform 9 3/4, the fire-breathing dragon atop the amazing Escape from Gringotts 3-D ride & more.
Harry Potter World Snippets
Hogwarts Castle is simultaneously breathtaking & ominous.
The paintings move & talk just as they do in the movies.
The Birthday Girl enjoyed a special breakfast in the Leaky Cauldron & a Butterbeer toast followed by…
…an adventurous visit to Gringotts.
The Hogwarts Express took us on a fascinating journey to Hogsmeade…with Harry, Ron & Hermione!
Then lunch at the Three Broomsticks & more spellcasting lessons from a passerby witch.
And what would a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter be without a stop in Honeydukes sweet shop or Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes store with Wildfire Whiz-bangs or Every Flavour Beans…
Okay, seriously, how excited is this reader ~ broomstick in hand, all her Potter books have come to life!!
From the Muggles’ perspective, Phillip & I were thrilled for our Little One and her magical week!!
The Bright Spot – A wonderful adventure for Harry Potter fans. Highly recommend it!!
To see part 1 & 3 of this story, click Part 1: Double-Digit Extravaganza for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Titanic & Animal Kingdom.
For Part 3, click: Dolphin Tale-Winter & Hope for the Clearwater adventure or just keep scrolling, it’s next. 🙂
Thank you for sharing and we hope you enjoy a trip to these family-fun places in the near future.
Everyone kept asking me what Phillip was planning for my 50th. He’s arranged some pretty spectacular things for me over the years so I knew whatever it was I’d be thrilled. Our son captured the moment:
Good Lord! What could it be? Well, prior to opening this envelope, Phillip planned a weekend of delights including dinner at La Panetiere.
We visited the Cloisters on the northern tip of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson to enjoy the stunning array of more than 5,000 pieces of European Medieval works of art from the 12th – 15th centuries including the famous Unicorn Tapestries. The Cloister’s Library contains over 15,000 volumes of books.
Later, we toured the World of Wings butterfly atrium where I had my 1st opportunity to take photos with my gorgeous new Canon from my son. For the amount of time I invest in my photography, this latest Canon with touchscreen, image sensor & built-in Wi-Fi was the p-e-r-f-e-c-t gift!! Thank you, darling!
And if anyone knows our family well, you’ll know why the logo above is so significant!! 🙂
As you can see, this day was magnificent with brilliant sunshine & deep blue skies. But 50 years ago, there was a blizzard and my mother arrived at the hospital with a police escort. That’s one way to make an entrance.
Mom recapped the story over dinner. Then she surprised me with a very special gift…a piece of jewelry I’ve admired for 45 years. It was given to mother by my father’s mother when I was 5.
I’ve worn it in the past with great delight (photo on right), but on this special night, my mother said it was now mine. Overjoyed is an understatement. It means so much to me on many levels.
So what was in the envelope in the opening pics? Let me first explain that my greatest gift ~ now & always ~ is being loved by my family & friends. Flowers & cards, emails & posts. All is appreciated. The kindness, the thoughtfulness, the time spent to make my day special. Thank you all!!
The above cards from my children touched my heart deeply. My son chose a card that says I make him feel understood, happy and loved. Wonderful, wonderful!! And our little one says I make her happy every day…down to even the school snack. What more could any mother want? Happy, thriving kids – this was, by far, the very best gift of all!!
16 years ago, I started the Harry Potter series with our son…reading it in “real time,” that is, waiting each year for another book to be published…standing in line at midnight openings with great anticipation for 1st edition hardcovers. We saw the movies, he had the posters, the comforter set, the throw pillows, the robe, Harry’s wand, etc. He even had a Harry-esque look to him, especially when he got his glasses.
Fast-forward more than a decade and our little daughter & her friends are relishing in the adventures, quoting the spells, whipping up potions and donning the robe. The perfect hardcovers have moved from our son’s room to our daughters’s bookcase. Over the holiday break, we watched all 8 movies (Yes, 8. The last book was filmed in 2 parts).
My friend, Sara, took one of our daughter’s best-est friends (since the girls were infants) to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter last month. The girls are now 9 & 10, the perfect age for the story. Sara posted this video of Platform 9 3/4 on her FB page & that was it!! What more fun could our family have than to venture through the fantastical world of wizards?
CoCo Key water resort & hotel:
We finished up the weekend celebrations with my favorite movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, with Jane Seymour & Anthony Andrews. Luscious ~ Dreamy ~ Yum!
So many other details went into this weekend that I would just like to say thank you to my husband, my whole family and my friends for marking this milestone with great joy.
The Bright SpotTM – Thankfulness that my mother is feeling better, it’s on & off and for my birthday she was really “on!” Even sparkly! And thank you to all who sent wishes for a beautiful birthday weekend. So ready for this next great decade, bring it on!!