Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

Most people take Memorial Day weekend to relax. When I was in high school it was all about going down the shore. That's the beach but here in Jersey we say "down the shore", but that's a whole different post. ;)

I spent my Saturday re-organizing my pantry. It's been a disaster lately but I didn't have time to do it before our trip so I dedicated the afternoon to it. I started at the top & emptied it shelf by shelf, wiping down the shelves & adding those wire racks to create more room.

I have to say I'm proud of the job I did. So proud that after coming home from dinner that night I opened the door just to stand back & admire my work.

Yes I have no life. ;)

Sunday morning we got up bright & early (for a Sunday), & headed to the parade in our town. Gianna was walking in it with her Daisy Girl Scout troops & we got to cheer her on.

Seeing this float in the parade always gets me. The lump in my throat is instant.

Eventually all the area Girl Scouts head toward us. As we see Gianna's troop, I walk out to take pics. Here she's digging in her bag to pick out certain candies for Marissa & Joe. She knows what they like & wants to make them happy. See her with the blue bag??
She really gets into tossing candy out, and boy does she have a good arm!

Shortly after, Joe heads over to the pick-up point to get Gianna. We usually sit near the end of the parade so it's easier to get her. She comes over, looking all tired & hot & I make sure she has some water while we watch the rest of the parade.

When it's over, we headed home for a quick lunch then we went to a local nursery & bought some hanging baskets for the yard & some other flowers for me to plant by the front doors. We didn't do a lot but boy did the weekend fly by!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Harry Potter & Universal Studios *LONG Post*

For the first time ever in all our trips to Florida, we went outside the Disney World parks. We went to Universal for a day mainly to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Joe actually went there back in November while he was in Orlando for a convention & snuck over to the park to see it. He does the reconnaissance to see what it's all like & reports back to us--which we of course love & want to see.

So we made plans to go the day after Marissa's birthday. We take a cab over & it's nothing like Disney, where each park has a landmark as a hub of the park & you can travel around it all. Universal is straight. You have to walk through the whole park & then backtrack to make your way out. So to get to the Harry Potter area you have to travel through other areas first & you definately have to hit the Harry Potter area first since the lines are CrAZy long!

As you reach the area the 1st thing you see is this. The entrance to "Hogsmeade" the fictional town outside of "Hogwarts School". The sign says "Please respect the Spell limits.", just as if you're a visiting witch or wizard.

Right as you pass under the arch, you see the "Hogwarts Express". It's not a ride & doesn't move.

This is a basic view of the area with the school all the way towards the left side at the back. Which is where everyone is rushing to since that's where the ride is, inside of Hogwarts.

As you get closer you see the school. They really did a fantastic job on the school. It's beautiful!

The ride is considered a "robo-coaster" & how I managed to go on still amazes me. I did it to myself actually. I was trying to get pics of Marissa for her birthday & told her if she let me take decent pics I would go on a ride with her during our trip. I should have said this privately, because Joe heard me & suggested THIS ride & Marissa held me to it. Damn it.

As you're on line to ride you actually go through parts of the castle & you see the "House Points", "Dumbledore's Office", the "Marauder's Map", etc. It's really cool. I had to lock my bag in a locker so I didn't get to take good pics but I used Joe's iphone to take some pics of these areas.

The ride was very smooth & not jerky which would definately have been bad for me. It was neat to see all the effects & it really does feel like you're flying around. I made sure to buy the picture that they take of you during the ride, as proof that I really went on, because I highly doubt I'll be doing it again. ;) Don't go judging me in this pic, either. I look bored, but honestly I'm trying not to think too much about it all so I don't toss my cookies. And I'm squeezing my feet together to make sure my flip flops don't fall off, causing my legs to look chunky. Great memories. ;)
There are a few other rides, but since we were only visiting the park for 1 day we wanted to see as much as we could. Besides I was over it & a bit queasy so we went around to some of the other shops.

Had to visit Honeydukes, which is a candy store & has all of the sweet mentioned in the movie. Very cute place.This Snow-witch & owl were so cute.
The "Three Broomsticks", just like in the movie....

Inside of "Zonko's"....the store is super tiny & crowded, but cute.

When we left the Harry Potter area we went to this attraction called "Poseidon's Fury". It's not a ride but you walk through & there's a "tour guide" that leads you through an "expedition". It was really good.

We went through the Dr. Seuss area. This ride is just like the Dumbo ride at Disney BUT you get wet. Perfect for the hot day it was.

As we're leaving "Island's of Adventure" & heading into "Universal" itself.

While we were there we went on a few more rides (after I grilled the people working there on what the rides are like before going on.) like Men in Black, which was really fun! It's similar to The Toy Story Ride at Hollywood Studios. We rode the E.T. ride & we saw the Terminator show. It was all good. The best ride was a rapid river sort of ride, "Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges" & when I say we got wet I really mean we got SOAKED to the SKIN! Of course like good marketing right outside the ride there are 2 stalls that will blow hot air at you to help dry off for $5 for 5-ish mins. We paid the 5 bucks--we were that drenched.

After a long day at the 2 parks we went to eat at "Pastamore"an Italian restuarant on City Walk which is like an outdoor mall, full of shops & restaurants.

All in all, we didn't see everything or ride everything like "The Hulk"--which will NEVER happen in my lifetime & despite Gianna's wanting to ride it, she won't be riding it while I'm around. That sort of thing just shouldn't exist in my opinion. And there was no doubt that I wasn't going on the "JAWS" ride--I'm insansely terrified of sharks BECAUSE of that movie. **shudder**

So would I go back? Yep, but I'd make sure to bring sunscreen--we were toasty by the end of the long day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Just Read: The Witch's Daughter

I read this book during our recent trip. It got me from the beginning. It was interesting & suspenseful. The book moved back & forth from one time period to another, which was a little hard to keep track of since I was reading it in short spurts, but it was good.

What are you reading??

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Field Day 2011

Today was Field Day for the girls at school. I think every kid looks forward to this day. It's a day spent outside, running around, playing games. What more could a kid want?

It was scheduled for yesterday but the night before we had some heavy storms so they had it today, and man was it HOT! I made sure the girls had sunscreen on but by the time I got there in the afternoon, they were ready for more.

They played the standard races, same as every year. Marissa looks like a natural athlete in this pic, but she's far from it. She's more like a newborn colt, all leg & awkward. I've seen her standing still & falling over herself, but I love her so much. I think Gianna was losing steam at this point. She took it nice & slow. Slow & steady wins the race was her motto I think. ;)
The last game of the day is always the "balloon toss". This might be everyone's favorite. The site of those balloons (kept cold to beat the heat) brings a gasp of happiness from all the kids! Gianna's got a great throwing arm.
Marissa & her teammate were careful to make the game last as long as possible.
As the kids were done, they were able to go off to get a refreshing icepop to enjoy outside. Then for the last hour of school they got to watch a movie in their classroom. They had so much fun & the beautiful weather made it even better!

Disney Birthday {aka Favorite Vacation Moments}

Since I'm sure you're all sick to death of the amount of Disney I blog about, I'm going to combine my favorite pics from this trip, with Marissa's birthday, since my favorite pics ARE from that day.

And just a little FYI, I only took 256 pics this trip.
A record for me!

Shocking, I know!

We found this treat in the room the night we checked in. It was a perfect start to her birthday which was the next day.

Before going into breakfast at 1900 Park Fare we posed for this pic. I can't wait to hang it up, {{despite how dark my hair looks...}} At breakfast, Tigger made her day by signing "Happy Birthday" in her autograph book. When we made our reservations we told them about it being Marissa's birthday & they made sure she was celebrated "Disney Style". During breakfast they brought her this monster cupcake....guess it's a great pick-me-up for the long day ahead. Next we headed to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for the girls' make-overs. Marissa's sash was different from Gianna's & said "Birthday Princess".By the time we were done, it was time for lunch at Tony's Townsquare. After we ate they brought over a sundae for her & we sang "Happy Birthday". She loved it!When we headed outside, we watched the parade for a bit.Then we headed off to hit the rides! LOVE this shot of Gianna (in yellow) holding Joe's hand down "Main Street".Marissa wanted to drive we went on "Grand Prix". I helped her a bit (Joe rode with Gianna) & I am not looking forward to this girl driving. SCAREY!! Good thing she's got a few years to practice!

We hit the Teacups & as usual they all tried to make me toss my cookies.....stinkers! Joe & Gianna went off for Space Mountain & Marissa & I went on the Buzz Lightyear ride a few times.

Dinner was at Tony's again--what can I say? We LOVE it there!! How do you like my "bling" that Marissa asked for me to wear during her make-over?? I needed the extra "sparkle" apparently.
When we went back to the room Marissa was willing to pose for some pics before bed.
I still can't believe she's TEN!
Taken right before we left to go to the airport.
Feels like our home away from home.
Kinda. Sorta. ;)

I'm sure there are a few more pics that take my breath away but I'll try not to make this post any longer than it is. Besides gotta leave something for the next trip!! LOL!