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Mini-Vacation Time!

A couple of months ago, when we began getting to know Rooster’s girlfriend, who, by the way, is a pure delight, I learned that she and I have a few things in common.

Namely, we both love Harry Potter.

She’s from Alabama, so she hadn’t done all things Florida, including Universal Studios…aka Harry Potter World.

The Mr. decided that this was a situation that needed to be remedied, so he did his homework and secured park tickets and a lovely hotel suite.  The plan was for Chicky, who lives about thirty minutes outside Orlando, to join us.

We left last Friday.  The week had been hectic for me with first semester exams, grades to input, and new lesson plans to tweak, but I got everything done and packed Thursday night.

Yes, I am 45 years old and own my own interactive wand.  You know you’re jealous.

Friday morning, I got up early and did my TurboFire workout.  I didn’t want to get too far behind my schedule, and I figured that because I’d be stuck in the car for a number of hours, moving my body first thing in the morning would be good for me.

The drive down was easy; I napped a little bit.  Before I knew it, we were there.

Not wanting to waste time, we hurried on to the park shortly after checking into our hotel.

The Mr. had a grand plan that first evening, and we struggled to keep up as he made a beeline to the first ride he wanted to get on…the Jurassic Park water ride.

It was dark by the time we got on; the lighting was so pretty!

We were the only ones on it, so we sat in one of the back rows.  Our logic was that we wouldn’t get as wet if we weren’t sitting up front.

Let’s just say that we were wrong.  Very wrong.

The Mr. got the worst of it; his entire sweater was soaked when he got off.

I was a little luckier, but the top part of my shirt got pretty wet, as did my face and hair.  It was as if someone had thrown a bucket of water directly at our heads.

What fun though!

After we got done with the first ride, we headed over to Hogsmeade.

I wish you could have seen Rooster’s girlfriend’s face.

Her jaw dropped open when she saw the streets lit with lanterns and the snowy roofs of the various establishments.  I think I had as much fun watching her experience everything as I did the first time I visited Universal.

We did a few more things…rode the train over to Hogwarts and looked around before walking through the rest of the park.

Then, we grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel for the night.

I used the down-time to register for the Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run, which the Hogwarts Running Club is hosting.  Isn’t the medal fabulous?  I paid my entry fee AND ordered a t-shirt.


The next morning, Chicky met us at the hotel, and we headed out.

The day was GORGEOUS and actually warm for mid-January.

I took this picture of Rooster and his girl…

Yes, they are very cute, are they not?  🙂

Boy, was I glad to see Chicky!  Even though we had recently gotten together during Christmas, any time spent away from her makes my heart hurt.  Reunions are sweet.

We did all things Harry Potter.  The kids got Butter Beer, which I can’t have because of the dairy.  I got the fizzy orange drink with cinnamon and brown sugar rimmed cup.  Delicious!

We did other stuff besides Harry Potter.  Rooster, Chicky, and I rode the Rock It roller coaster.  A random kid sat beside Chicky, and the video of his facial reactions was absolutely hysterical.

We also rode the Dueling Dragons roller coaster.  This is such a fun ride!

Shockingly, the Hulk had been dismantled for maintenance.  Its absence felt strange.

That night, we ate dinner at the Cowfish, a favorite of ours when we travel to Universal.  The food is divine; the portions quite large, as evidenced by Rooster’s burger, a peanut butter/banana concoction that he says tastes great (although he’s not a fan of bananas).

Chicky ordered a couple of things and took enough food home to treat her roommate.

It was a wonderful evening.  Saying goodbye to my girl was hard, and I actually shed a few tears when she drove away.  For some reason, this time got me…probably because we’d had such a great day.

We were whooped, and everyone hit the hay a little earlier than the night before.

The next morning was cold and misty.

See the sky behind me?  It was the perfect backdrop for Hogsmeade, but word, it kept the temperature chilly!  In fact, I’d left my jacket at the hotel thinking I’d be too warm with my thick sweater.  Wrong-O!

N, Rooster’s girlfriend, had worn a short-sleeve shirt, and she was also cold.  Our first order of business was to find something warmer to put on.

I scored with a zip-up hoodie.

N got a thin, long-sleeve shirt.

Oh, and do you see my wand?  I finally got up the nerve to practice my spells and jumped up in jubilation when my first one worked!  Rooster was not amused.  I was more excited than the little kids around me.


Fortunately, as the day progressed, the sun pushed out the clouds, and the temperature climbed a little.  The only thing that kept things cooler was the wind.

We ate lunch at a newly-opened restaurant, the Grill & Brew, and watched Cam Newton’s team beat Seattle.

N and I left during halftime to do more Harry Potter exploring.  This time together gave us a chance to chat.  She’s a very calm and quiet young lady…very mature…with a gentle spirit.  I adore her!

We had a lot of fun shopping, and we talked each other into getting rather expensive *ahem* Molly Weasley sweaters.

We took them to the bridge and photographed each other in front of the castle.

I will tell you that when I took N’s picture, someone rudely said, while walking by, “Oh look.  Let’s take a picture of a sweater.”

I’m afraid I showed my butt and responded, quite loudly, “That’s a very special sweater!”

The nerve of that other woman.


They should have taken her ticket away…such lack of respect for a fine piece of fiber art.

Here I am sporting it at school today…

But wait…I’m getting ahead of myself.

The sweater is 100% wool and was made in Scotland.  It was also quite pricey.  Fortunately, the Mr. didn’t pitch a big fit when he saw how much I’d paid for it…two days later.  *Ahem*

We met up with the guys after their game ended…coincidentally as we were finishing our shopping…and headed back into the park to take one more stroll through the super hero island.

Then, we went back to the hotel to relax, eat a late dinner, and prepare for our departure the next day.

The next morning, I got up extra early and put in a little over four miles on the treadmill before the rest of my crew got up.

The ride home was uneventful; I slept much of the way.

I was more than ready to be home.  The dogs were extremely happy to see us, as evidenced by the picture below.  Gambit took advantage of the ten-minute stretch video I did after my forty-minute TurboFire workout (because I’m overachieving like that).  I was the perfect height for him to give me kisses.

My evening ended with a glass of wine and Downton Abbey, which I’d recorded the night before.  Whoever invented DVRs should win some sort of prize.

Props to the Mr. who generously treated us to this wonderful mini-vacation!

Weekend of Fun

A week and a half ago, I did something I rarely do…

I took two days off of work – a Friday and a Monday.


Well, to play, of course!

The Mr.’s work schedule was chaotic this summer; coordinating a weekend trip around his and Rooster’s schedules proved un-doable.

Thus it was that we found ourselves at Universal Studios the second week of school.  We stayed at the Cabana Beach Resort, where the Mr. had reserved a family suite…tres beautiful.  ❤

Chicky doesn’t live too far from Orlando, so she drove over and met us there Saturday morning…just in time to go to the parks!  We had tickets for both – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Oh goodness, but just seeing Chicky made me happy.  She was last in town in June for a friend’s wedding.  Our visit was somewhat short; she’s a homebody…as in her own home…because she’s all grown up now.  😉

Watching my babies (cause they’ll always be my babies) walking together, conversing about who knows what, made my heart sing with joy.

The first day started out beautiful. We quickly got on The Hulk.  I wasn’t scared until we were seated.  I remembered doing well during Spring Break when the Mr. and I rode it, but I also remember feeling just a little bit queasy when it was over because of the final twist.

This time around, I was better prepared for the flips and turns and got off the ride smiling.

Our day turned, eventually, as the weather changed from being sunny to a dull overcast…typical Florida summer weather.  The rain drove us back to the hotel after dinner at the Cowfish (a great restaurant at CityWalk, if you’re ever at Universal).

That night, we were checking out the weather for the next day, and it was supposed to rain…like an 80% chance…EVERY.  SINGLE.  HOUR.

Well, I prayed mightily before I went to sleep, claiming God’s promise that we could move mountains if we had faith.  I asked that God would allow our little part of Orlando to be rain-free until we finished all of the rides we wanted to go on.  It’s so rare that all four of us can get together, that I wanted to eke out as much fun from the day as possible.

God was so faithful and answered my prayers!  The day started off a bit hazy, but the sky quickly cleared up.

We got into Harry Potter World early because we were staying at one of the park’s hotels.  Boy, did we take advantage of this extra time!  We quickly jumped on the Dueling Dragons ride.  We’d ridden it the day before, but because there are two different tracks, we got on the second one.  The Mr. wasn’t super thrilled; roller coasters are getting harder for him to ride.


What fun!

After that ride, we walked quickly back to the Rock It roller coaster, which we’d tried to ride the day before but couldn’t because it had gotten shut down with the inclement weather.

The Mr., who was going to pass on it the day before, got shamed into riding with us.  It was the main ride that Rooster wanted to go on.  As we waited in line, we discovered that rather than having an over-the-shoulder harness, the ride had a thick waist shield.

I’ll admit that I got a little freaked out.  This ride requires you to go straight up really high, so you’re looking up at the sky before you get to the top of a dropoff.  SCARY.  It flips and twists too!  We were so scared we’d fall out.

I sat beside Rooster, and Chicky and the Mr. sat behind us.

I screamed the first two drops but then began laughing hysterically when I thought I heard the Mr. screaming.  It was, in fact, the man in front of us.

Still, I found the ride exhilarating.

After we got off, we discovered that the ride had cameras in front of every seat, so we could watch ourselves as we were riding.




I wish I had bought the video of the Mr. and Chicky; the contrast in their faces was PRICELESS.  Chicky smiled and laughed the entire time.  The Mr.’s face was screwed up like he was enduring torture.  Hysterical stuff.

This was me after I finished…the ride behind me (see the arrows…you go up the left side of them…on your back)…

We managed to everything we wanted to do…the Minions ride…so much fun!!  The Mr. and I had waited for an hour and a half before it got shut down during our previous visit, so we were especially happy to finally get to ride it.

We visited Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and indulged in beverages…

That was a creamy orange drink with cinnamon and brown sugar around the rim.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I was licking my fingers for hours afterward.

One of the main things I wanted to do was go on the water rides.  We’d purchased ponchos because I had forgotten to bring mine after loaning them to my friend, Barb, a few months ago.  Thank goodness we had them because the water rides SOAK you through and through!  What fun though!  I highly recommend them if you ever visit Universal.

This was me after the Barges ride.

I didn’t really buy much in the way of souvenirs.  I did get this comic shirt though…so cute and so much fun to wear!

I liked it so much that I wore it to dinner that night.  I did a sneak-selfie as we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe at CityWalk…

Oh, and the rain that I asked God to keep at bay?  He answered!!!  It didn’t start raining until after we’d gotten off of the last ride we’d planned for the day.  Then, the bottom fell out of the sky…as we began making our way to the bus and, ultimately, our hotel.

Don’t ever NOT ask for something.  God does hear!

Chicky didn’t join us for dinner.  She had gone back home so she could teach the next day.  Her school was only starting its second week, so she didn’t want to take off time.

The food at the Hard Rock was divine…

I don’t remember what the guys ate; I had the veggie sandwich.  Rooster enjoyed the cheesecake while the Mr. and I inhaled its delicious aroma from afar.


What a fantastic weekend we had.  We created so many fun memories…even more precious now that my chicklets are grown and spending less and less time with us.

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