Sunday, April 2, 2017

Orlando February 2017

Last time we took a trip to Orlando it was for Disney. Alice was soooo into Princesses then, but her likes have changed over the years, and the family has been enjoying the Harry Potter books and movies for the past few years.
We loved the time of the year we went to Disney last time so we decided to go about the same time of year this time too.  Call me a bad mom, or a great mom, but we took Alice out of school to travel and experience the magic with our little family.
We arrived in Orlando on a Monday morning. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel because it was the closest to the Universal parks and we loved being within walking distance. There were also water taxis and bicycle rickshaws available for when we were too tired, but staying on property was awesome.


We arrive early in the day and had some time to wander about the hotel, and then we decided to take an uber ride to see the Titanic exhibit nearby.  Titanic has been another one of Alices obsessions over the past year, so this was a perfect addition to our trip.  The exhibit had actual artifacts from Titanic along with supplemental items, either replicas or from other ships from the time. When you start, they give you a 'character' card of someone who was actually on the ship.  At the end of the exhibit you see lists of people who either lived or died.  Mine and Larry's characters died, but Alice was lucky to be a survivor.


Tuesday was our first day at the park.  We spent approximately 8 hours at the park the first day.  We visited Hogsmead the first half of the day and Diagon Alley the second half.  With the low season and the fast passes from staying at an onsite hotel, we were able to ride everything with minimal waiting, so of course we rode everything multiple times.

Our first experience within the park was a visit to Olivanders to select a wand for our trip.  Alice was chosen to be part of the experience, and her wand selected her, so of course we had to buy it.



Alices favorite ride was the Flight of the Hippogryph. Larry's was the Forbidden Journey at the Hogswart Castle (the castle was pretty amazing), and mine was the Revenge of the Mummy (outdated but still loads of fun)



We also enjoyed the Jurrasic Park ride, Men in Black, ET, Escape from Gringots, Hogswart Express, Dr. Dooms Fearfall, Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man, and Storm Force Acceleration.  We did NOT enjoy Reign of Kong (Alice did not like this one AT ALL) and no one enjoyed Popeye and Blutos Bilge-Rat Barges (came out looking like drown rats).



Most mornings we ate in the lobby with donuts and breakfast sandwiches.  One lunch we ate at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmead (fish and chips like proper Englishmen). Each night we ate dinner at the Universal City Walk, pizza, Italian, burgers and sushi. One evening we got a free dinner because the whole City Walk lost power and there was no way to run credit cards, but we did leave a good cash tip!



Each night we spent time down at the Hard Rock pool. Yes we swam in February!  The pool had a nice water slide that was the perfect entry level slide for Alice. Alice and mom went on the slide multiple times each night, even though it was a little cold.



Each night we went to sleep thoroughly exhausted. Moms Garmin said we walked over 7 miles a day, and one day it said over 10!  We had a lot of fun and have great memories to take back home.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Miranda Sings!

Alice is a big fan of Miranda Sings, the You Tube personality. For her birthday this year, Alice asked to go to the Miranda Sings concert in San Antonio. For weeks prior to the concert, Alice would talk about how she was going to get on stage to meet Miranda. As her mom, I tried to prepare her to enjoy the concert even if her dream of meeting her in person did not happen.
We arrived at the Tobin Center (awesome venue by the way). We were in the mid orchestra section, which is pretty much in the middle of the seating for the floor.  Good enough to see, but definitely not front row seating.  During the show Alice yelled and screamed with the audience, danced in the aisle, and sang along with the show.  Several times Miranda asked for volunteers to come up on stage to help out in a skit. Most of the time, Miranda picked someone from the first few rows, but each time she asked for volunteers, Alice would run down the aisle closer to the stage and try to get Miranda's attention.  We thought for sure this tactic would not work, but didn't see the harm in her exuberance.  
The last time Miranda asked for a volunteer, Alice ran up and did her best to get her attention.  To our surprise, Miranda picked 'the girl with the yellow jacket'. Her dad and I looked at each other and I said 'I can't believe that just happened....'
Alice proceeded to be led on stage for a You Tube Challenge called 'Chubby Bunny'.  The basic rules were each contestant (Miranda and Alice) would put a marshmallow in their mouth and say "chubby bunny" until one of them could not talk.  Miranda's marshmallows were the small ones you put in hot chocolate, while the marshmallows she gave Alice were each the size of their fist.  Hilarity ensues when Alice only has one marshmallow in her mouth and can't speak.

At the end, Alice got a hug from her You Tube hero, a bag full of giant marshmallows, and a memory to last a lifetime!



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cancun in December

The family spent a week before Christmas in cancun to celebrate the wedding of a friend (and mom had a birthday too). We traveled with another family also attending the wedding, so Alice had a built in friend for the trip.




While in Cancun Alice got to swim with dolphinss, play at a water park and snorkel for the first time. We swam every day in the hotel pools and got some sun while everyone back in Texas enjoyed a cold snap with below freezing temps.







The family returned a few days before Christmas, just in time to prepare for our first Christmas to be spent at home!









Thursday, November 17, 2016

Alice's 2016 Election

Well, the long difficult election cycle has concluded with a clear winner.  Here are some notes about how Alice experienced it.

Alice started off really liking Bernie Sanders.  She followed him on YouTube and was enthusiastic.  Then he lost the primary to Hillary.  Alice was not happy, and initially didn't support Hillary.  As the general election debates got started she quickly became a supporter of Hillary.  During the debates, the three of us watched all three from the couch with popcorn.  Alice often kept a running commentary during the debates as she found Donald to be rude and an interrupter of others talking :-)  She enjoyed the debates and supporting her candidate.  We loved Michelle Obama's speeches, especially her first one where she coined "they take the low road, we take the high road".

Alice went to bed on election night worried that Hillary might not win.

I woke her up the day after and gave her the news, "Donald J. Trump will be our next president."  She almost started crying.  But we talked about democracy and how to respond to challenges and those we do not agree with winning a contest, etc.  Also, had to explain why moving to the U.K. or Germany was not the right response :-)  She understood quickly and we easily moved into the rest of the day.

We watched Hillary's speech the day after and her message to young girls hit home at our house.  My daughter listened to her and afterwards said that if there wasn't a woman president by the time she was an adult then she would have to do it herself.  I almost cried (no surprise) with pride.

It was fun watching Alice experience this crazy election.  By the end she could spot hyperbole coming from either side of the contest.  She could identify what she liked and didn't and she picked out policies and behavior that she supported and didn't.  Was really cool.  Glad its over, but it was a cool experience to enjoy with the kiddo.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Couple of Recent Pictures

Fairly recent family photo.



Alice likes to climb this tree in "Green" park, which makes me and Cristy nervous.




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Updates from 3rd Grade and Life in General

We're a few weeks into 3rd grade, and everything is going quite well.  Alice is enjoying her class mates and teacher.  This is our first year for real grades and she's taking to it well.  Homework everyday, but it is pretty easy.  She, of course, would prefer not to do all this work, but since she has to she is doing her best and making it fun :-)

Outside of school
Alice is really into her tablet: mine-craft and apps where you record audio and video and share them with others.  She's riding her bike much better than ever before.  Cristy and Alice go on bike rides around the neighborhood when they get the chance.  She has many good friends and weekly play-dates or sleep overs.  She likes rock climbing and shows some real talent for it.  Singing and piano still factor in with practice and weekly lessons.

Cristy & Alice about to ride (2016).

The good life
Her favorite place is in her bed with her doggies and her tablet, preferably with cookies and milk on the side table.  If its night time then she also likes her mommy next to her, both of them with their tablets up and going, maybe in mine-craft together (with Dad too (from other room where there is music)) or maybe doing their own thing and talking about what they find; next to Alice's milk is Cristy's wine glass.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

3rd Grade: Day 1

Alice was "nerv-cited" for her first day of third grade.  She had her outfit planned ahead of time.  Her shirt says something approximating only needing love, lattes and free wifi.  Below she is showing her Harry Potter backpack.


Our known milestones for this year are letter grades, and her first male teacher, Mr. Jackson.  3rd Graders are also promoted out of the "front" playground and now take recess on the "back" playground.
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This picture by the tree in our front yard is a family tradition now.  We do it every year.