The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

For Rilyn’s 10th birthday, we gave her a special Mom, Dad, daughter trip to Universal Studios Orlando to see the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  Her party was Harry Potter themed, she has read all 7 books, watched all 8 movies, and we knew this would be the perfect surprise gift for her!

Here she is on the morning of our trip…I made a special Gryffindor entrance to start her day!

We got a 3 day pass to Universal, and when we arrived at 6:45 a.m., there was a 2 hour wait to get on the Escape from Gringott’s ride! The ride and Diagon Alley just opened a week ago on July 8th, so the crowds were to be expected. But what was not expected was at 9 a.m., when we got off the ride, the line was 5 hours long!!

Rilyn’s first reaction entering Diagon Alley.

After you get through the outside line, you get to go in the Gringott’s bank and wait.

The ride was fun, but I liked Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey better, (which is the older ride in Hogsmeade.) After the ride, we got Butter beer. It tasted like butterscotch-super sweet and yummy, but I couldn’t handle the sweetness. James had butter beer, frozen butter beer, and 2 servings of Butter Beer ice cream, so I guess you could say he liked it. :) (Pumpkin Juice tastes like apricot juice to us, fresh and yummy!)

We walked around Diagon Alley a little bit, making our way to Hogwart’s Express train.

The opening of Diagon Alley

At King’s Cross station, they had a really neat illusion that you are walking through the brick wall to Platform 9 3/4. You will miss it if you’re not careful, so ask an attendant to show you where it is!

bye James!

We made it to Platform 9 3/4! Now waiting for the train!

Getting on the train!

In the train you see digital images out the window of Hogwarts, etc. There is no flash photography, so this was the best I could do. You can see Hagrid here. You are seated in your own train cabin with 6 other people.

On the way to Hogsmeade, a Dementor will be visiting you! Creepy!

We arrived at Hogsmeade!

In the background is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride! The line takes you through Hogwarts and is really cool!

We also went on the Dragon Challenge, which is a crazy roller coaster! When you go through the line, it has all sorts of cool things about the Tri-Wizard tournament! But the ride is 52″ height requirement, so no small kiddos on this scary ride! Seriously, James and I had vertigo and headaches after the ride and we LOVE roller coasters! We attribute it to our age! LOL Here is Rilyn before the ride…

You can tell she was nervous…(this was her first upside down roller coaster)

And here is her after the ride! LOL She cried, but she got over it and wanted to go again (which we did the next day). Rilyn went on all the crazy roller coasters, we were so proud of her! (We might of bribed her with a trip to Honeydukes if she went on them.)

(The other ride at Hogsmeade is called Flight of the Hippogriffs, and it is a very short kiddie coaster.)

More of Hogsmeade

The next day we started out at Diagon Alley again.

The Knight bus!

We went to Ollivander’s first to buy Rilyn her wand! In Ollivanders, they do a little “show” and then you can buy your wand. They have these wands that will “do spells” throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Beware, they are $50-gulp. They come with a cool map to find all the places to do the spells (mostly in storefront windows) and the experience was worth it for us to buy her one!

In Ollivanders

Rilyn getting her wand!

Using her new wand!

Our only picture of the three of us!

Hagrid, where are you?

another view of Diagon Alley

Using her wand to make something spin in the storefront of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes

About every 10 minutes the dragon on top of Gringott’s bank breathe’s fire! You can see Rilyn at the bottom of the picture doing a “spell” to calm the dragon! ;)

We then traveled back to Hogsmeade to do more spells with her wand!


Honeydukes again! She got a chocolate frog, but sadly got the Slytherin card in hers!

Me and my girl!

On day 2 and 3 we ate breakfast at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. I will say inside it looks like it did in the movies, however, I was disappointed there was not a show or some kind of entertainment while we were eating. The food was good, but like all amuesement parks-expensive!

The Leaky Cauldron

Rilyn picked the Tri-Wizard Tournament cup for her souvenir! It can go in the dishwasher! LOL

It lights up too!

We are truly grateful that we could take just Rilyn and have these special memories with her! I’m already looking forward to our special trip with Ella in 2016! :)


July 4th!

We spent an uneventful Independence day (thank goodness!) this year at my parent’s house, and then we drove to Round Rock to watch fireworks over Settler’s Park.  Fun with friends, and no stress!

At my parent’s house with Grandpa at the grill!

Of course there was lots of swimming!

Our best friends!

Three cheers for root beer and friends!

waiting for the fireworks to begin…

watching the fireworks go off!



sparkles and feathers!

I took my girls and Anna on a photo shoot with their dance recital costumes, much like I did years ago, here, here, and here!

best friends!

Rilyn, the Swan Lake princess!



James’ parents gave us season passes for Schlitterbahn New Braunfels this summer!  I brought my water camera along to get some fun pictures of us at the parks!

Rilyn and Asher going down the Master Blaster!

Ella nervous about going on the Master Blaster…

Me and Ella finishing the Master Blaster! She loved it!

The kids favorite water activity was at Blastenhoff going around this “lazy river” that had waves going through it!


Pine Cove Silverado!

The girls left for week long overnight camp at Pine Cove Silverado June 1-7th!  This was their first overnight camp, and they had a BLAST!  Rilyn even got to have her birthday there!  They are definitely going to go back to Pine Cove next summer-Asher will get to join them too!

Waiting to go into camp!

Walking into camp with their friends, Cole and Anna!

Rilyn in front of her cabin-Sunflower 4!

As a parent, I really love that Pine Cove posts pictures of everyday to their blog so I can check what my kids are doing each day! Here are some of the pictures of them doing the fun activities during the week!

Ella and Anna canoeing!

Ella and Anna water ziplining!

They have theme nights every night and this was glow night!

Club is where they have praise and worship! Ella is in the #7 yellow shirt.

Rilyn during camo night (she is in the back holding her arm up)

Rilyn with her counselor, Who Ya Messin’ With, during a water fight!

If it’s your birthday during camp you get to go on stage during lunch and they sing the Birthday Rap to you!

A snowman rapping to Rilyn for her 10th birthday! Only at camp!

Rilyn’s letter from camp!


LAST day of Kindergarten!

While the girls were off at summer camp for a week, Asher had his last day of kindergarten on June 4th!

After Asher came home, we went to the neighborhood pool to kick off the summer!! I got to try out my new Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS purple 16 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Purple)
that I got for my birthday!

Asher and one of his best friends!


Harry Potter party games!

Click here to see all the Harry Potter decorations!

When the kids arrived we started with the sorting hat.  I bought school rings so after they heard their school, they had to wear their school ring.  We also made wands out of Totally Bamboo Twist Chopsticks, Set of 5 pairs
and hot glue and passed them out at this time.

We taped a phone into the hat and used the app Zello as a walkie talkie. My husband was in another room with a script (we sorted the kids into schools before the party). When I said loudly, “It’s Ella’s turn”, he read the script for her on his phone and the hat magically talked!

Ella is so excited to be in Ravenclaw!

Here is Bellatrix passing out the wands!

The next event was “Bean Boozled”. I bought each child Harry Potter Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans ~ 6 Pack
and they got points for swallowing the “fun” flavors.

I gave them each a dixie cup to spit if they needed. About half of the kids played and then half of those dropped out of the game mid-way! To watch them chew was hilarious though!

Next up was potion class outside!
The “new professor” at Hogwarts was a little ambitious with his potion making skills!

Then it was the kid’s turn to make a “cloud” potion!

I love seeing the “students” faces in this picture! Look at their green clouds!

The potion (baking soda, water, drops of dish soap, and vinegar dyed green) worked so well, that it actually started to rain and we had to run inside for cake! Darn! ;)

Singing to Rilyn!

Cake time!

During cake time, we dismissed the kids one at a time to go to Honeydukes and fill a bag with all the fun candy to take home!

The rain was short thankfully, and so after cake, we went back outside for the “Quidditch All-Star Tournament”. Basically, we had four stations set up in our backyard and the four schools had to travel to each one together and try to earn points and be the winning school! The four stations were, “Quaffle Shoot Out”, “Quick Feet, Dead Aim”, “Dragon Egg Toss”, and “Snatch the Sneaky Snitch”. All of these games were designed to assess the skills of a great Quidditch player!
For Quaffle Shoot Out, we used our trampoline and took the net down and made Quidditch hoops. We used Rilyn’s uncle, aka Death Eater to be the goalie and he tried to block the students from throwing balls into the hoops!

The Dragon Egg Toss was a water balloon toss! Every great Quidditch player needs good hand eye coordination!

Quick Feet Dead Aim tested their speed in various obstacles, and then their aim to knock down as many Valdemort faces as they could!

Snatch the Sneaky Snitch was a fishing bob we spray painted gold and threw on the roof. We let it roll down and each student had to catch it! It was tricky because fishing bobs bounce around everywhere as they are rolling down the roof!
As James was tabulating the points, we went back inside for edible potion making! The kids LOVED this! They got to mix various sodas, pop rocks, fruit gushers, Kool-Aid, Tang, etc. We gave them each lots of straws so they could taste each others! Some of them named their potions and wrote recipe cards! LOL

Then it was present time!

James came in with the scores, and Gryffindor won the Quidditch tournament, which happened to be the birthday girl’s team! Can you tell she was excited?!

After the party was over, we presented Rilyn with a ticket on the Hogwarts Express as her gift. What could it mean?!

That’s right! A trip- just me, daddy, and Rilyn- to Universal Studios Orlando Harry Potter land in July!!

The sweetest thing happened during this moment. We told Ella beforehand about the gift (we are going to take all the kids on a special alone trip when they turn 10 years old.) Ella was so happy for Rilyn that she cried “happy tears” for her! She kept saying, “I’m just so happy for her!” Here is a picture of Ella crying happy tears for her sister!


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