“Wizards and Rollercoasters and Sun, Oh My”

Wizards:

Walking through the Brick Wall to enter Diagonal Alley is always memorable, but experiencing it for the first time is special. I’ve done it (multiple times) and Jax did it last time we visited the sunshine state (although he had been there before). This time though it was time for Oliver to walk through the fabled brick archway that leads to one the most magical places in the Wizarding World.

I love the picture above because not only is Oliver sitting in the exact place that both Jax and I took photos in years prior, but in the background you can see the Quidditch Supplies Store in the background. Remember, Oliver was named for my favorite character in the series, Oliver Wood, who was a Quidditch junkie and Gryffindor superstar keeper.

Of course there is no Wizarding World without a couple of mandatory stops… when in Rome right?!??? First to grab a few of the required readings for first years like Ollie… and Flourish and Blotts provides just that. And then off to Knockturn Alley where Oliver was able to vanish a bird a lot quicker than Draco was ever able too. This Syltherin was all smiles when she met Ollie and I’m pretty sure they’ll be exchanging owls over the summer.

Both Jackson and Oliver LOVE trains so the trip to Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express was that of fantasy for them! Between Oliver yelling “choooo-choooo” every five seconds to Jackson building the LEGO Hogwarts Express this was a dream come true! I love that Jackson is still innocent enough to follow along with the CGI and really believe in what he was seeing, “dad, it’s Harry Potter he’s outside, LOOK!!!”

Bottom line with Harry Potter… it’s Hogwarts or Bust!! In a weird way for me this place feel like home.

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Rollercoasters:

I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again later… I do not like rollercoasters. I don’t like heights and of course I married a daredevil. Luckily for the boys they have their mom to take them on anything that goes above 20 feet high.

When you’re a parent and your child asks you to have a tea party, you sip that pretend tea like it was the best you’ve ever tasted. When they ask you to give them a horsey ride you neigh like you’re part stallion even though your back is shot and when your kid asks you to go on a wooden rollercoaster of course you swallow your fears and agree.

However I have to draw the line somewhere. So when my five year old strapped himself in the seat for his first rollercoaster ride ever and asked me if I was scared… I did what any respectable dad would do… I held him so tight and told him I wasn’t scared at all (I peed in my pants just a little on that ride). Damn you Buckbeak and The Flight of the Hippogriff for making me fake this smile:

Mom took our daring adventure seeker on the next ride while I wandered Hogsmeade with Oliver. Jax was just under the “you just be this tall sign,” but dive Steph was with him they waiting in a 75 minute line. Now I don’t know how many people have attempted to keep a five year old standing in a sow moving line for over an hour, but I would assume by the texts I was getting that it was not easy!

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And Sun, Oh My:

Listen there isn’t much I can say for this one. It was hot. It was unbelievably HOT. Orlando in July… extremely hot!

Don’t let the snow topped roofs fool you… it’s hotter than the Face of the sun out there!!!

A few years back we visited in mid December and even then as we escaped a winter snow storm In the northeast it was about 85 degrees in FL, which isn’t terrible, but factor in humidity and it was sweltering… IN THE WINTER. Fast forward to the spring and especially summer and you’re looking at unbearable heat. I always wondered why they made the Wizarding World at Universal look as if it were winter… fake snow on the roofs in Diagon Alley do not equate to cooler temperatures for visitors, as a matter of fact it’s like looking at a mirage in the middle of the desert! Here’s the thing, when you sign up to visit Hogwarts in Orlando in July… the heat, but more importantly the magic are a package deal.

Until next time… Mischief Managed.

Scott’s Brats (The Lambeau Field of Aruba)

I feel like it’s been about 100 years since the last time I visited Scott’s Brats, a small beach front stand that serves authentic Wisconsin food. The best part is Scott, the owner, is a HUGE Packers fan.

His stand covered in Palm leaves and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, but what stood out most (besides the amazing brats or Italian sausage on a Italian bread) was the Packers memorabilia and amazing license plates from all around the world, most depicting some sort of Packers saying. I took a picture with Scott before we left and told him we’d be back one day. I also asked him if I could buy one of his license plates. He told me he was still collecting them and the next time I came he’d give me one.

Well years later we came back. I had been telling the boys all about the guy in Aruba who loves the Packers. They were exited to meet him. Scott’s Brats is still standing, unfortunately no more Scott (he sold it to retire to beach life a few years back) and now that authentic Wisconsin food has a with a touch of Aruban flavor).

Matt, the new owner has kept the Packers memorabilia up and has added more license plates from all over Aruba. When I told him the story about the first time I met Scott, he grabbed a hammer, took down that Packers license plate from all those years ago and gladly handed it over to me. That golden “GOPACK” plate from “One Happy Island” will display nicely in the basement and remind me and the boys of our first vacation together, of the warm ocean, the hot sun, some great food and the fact that Packers fans are everywhere.

#GOPACKGO

Goodnight Moon

We moved a few months back and as spring is in full effect and summer is rolling in I’ve noticed that being this close to the water brings with it perpetual daylight.

I feel like we live north of the arctic circle because it’s literally like the land of the midnight sun here. I don’t know if the sun just sets at a completely different time (never)… but trying to convince a toddler it’s bed time when it’s sunnier than high noon is a real challenge.

Total Eclipse of the…

I am not the bravest warrior on the battlefield, let’s face it, elementary school principal isn’t exactly the most daring profession in the world (important yes), but its not like I am running into a burning building to save someone’s 13 year-old Siamese cat or fighting ISIS soldiers who strap suicide bombs to themselves.  I do what I do, because I love to make a difference in the lives of children… and also so I don’t have to go on high speed car chases after bank robbers.

I won’t lie, I still set my house alarm when I am home with the garage doors shut, I won’t go downstairs at night without turning all the lights on first.  I’m not much of a risk taker. Going blind would SUCK and going blind because you going blind because you didn’t heed all the warning and tried to be a tough guy would be so horrible.  Like, you have the warnings and more importantly you have the very scientific and high-tech Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses right at your finger tips.  In 1979 (the last full solar eclipse) there wasn’t an ease of shopping like Amazon Prime or Target.  You didn’t have the ability to view this eclipse while saving your retinas was not possible.

But what do you do if you didn’t get those fashionable 1985 movie theater-style 3-D glasses and your son wants to look at the eclipse?  Well you make your own Eclipse Viewing Device of course…

Going out to see the #solareclipse like:
PS: Such an underrated song:  Total Eclipse of the Heart- Bonnie Tyler

 

That’s Newport Livin’

The following events transpired over three days: August 3rd-5th… 

I need a vacation from our vacation. Don’t get me wrong getting away from the office and yard work even for a few days is great and all… It just might be more tiring than sitting in the office and doing yard work! (This was Jackson’s first time away since he started walking.)
Maybe we’re just the worst vacation parents ever, but bringing a one yet old to the beach is a nightmare. Honestly I don’t even feel bad for us, although my one beach day this year consisted of screaming at a tent that seemingly would give Bear Grylls fits and wiping sand out of every crevasse on this poor kids body). Those things I can deal with, a few deep breathes and a few IPAs make things a bit easier.

The kid hung tough though. He was a trooper… He definitely enjoyed the $17 chicken fingers and $9 water. He did not enjoy walking on sand that was hotter than walking on the surface of the sun. We made it through about two seagull attacks before calling it quits. I don’t think had ever been more excited to see his car seat.

I think we realized how really lucky we’ve been over the past 15 months (obviously because we have a healthy, happy baby) also because he’s been on a regular schedule and has been a great sleeper. We learned how a major change in schedule and being away from his own room and crib can effect a one year old… Because this kid literally went two days without sleeping!
That first night was something out of a Wes Craven movie. The screams muted the sounds of the ocean and tears washed away any hopes we had of getting any sleep. I think we handled it well and finally gave in about 2am, putting him in bed between us.

Aside: putting a child in bed with you is worse than anything I’ve heard… Not because “they get used to it and then become reliant on having parents in bed with him,” but because being in bed with parents = Amusement Park. I can’t believe how much energy a child can have at 2am. Where he called the power to complete hundreds of barrel rolls is beyond me. I think we fell asleep at 4:30- Steph on the bottom of the bed and me diagonally with my legs hanging off. 

You would think the next day he would be miserable right? Nope… Ball of energy… We walked the perimeter of the hotel what seemed like 12 times and he spent the rest of the morning and afternoon in the pool. Great thing about a baby with no sleep + sun + three hours of swimming = NAP.
THE FOLLOWING CONVERSATION TAKES PLACE IN REAL TIME:

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He woke up at like 1:45 and started bugging out. So I picked him up and he passed out in the bed on me. I couldn’t move. I tried everything to get out. I considered gnawing my own arm off… But in the end I was finally able to wiggle free and at least move freely in my own room while the little man finally caught some Zzzzzs.

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He met his first vacation girlfriend… Monica… although it was tough he had to end it before we left… Long distance relationships are just to tough when you can’t even ride a tricycle to see each other!

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Overall, three days was just the right amount of time to get away.  Until next time, That’s Newport Living!