Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 

Amazing! Loved it! Exciting!

No one should be surprised, but this movie was all of those things! J.K.Rowling has once again told a phenomenal story about the world of magic that is hidden from our own. 

This story is about Newt Scamander, author of the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is mentioned in the Harry Potter books. Newt comes to America and is almost immediately pulled into trouble by one of his magical beasts. The Niffler, a greedy little opossum type beast leads to trouble in a bank. They end up involving Jacob Kowalski, a nomag (no magic pushed together), the American term for muggle.

This gets Newt in trouble with the Magical Congress, think Ministry of Magic. Through a slightly expected mixup, the nomag ends up with Newt’s creature filled magic case. More trouble ensues as some of the creatures escape. 

Colin Farrel was an interesting addition as an American wizard. His character is trying to track down a magical beast wreaking havoc in New York. 

From tracking down Newt’s missing creatures, an unknown creature on the loose, a witch-hunter (a twist I wasn’t expecting) to an unexpected cameo for the villain, this movie is a wild ride. 

We enjoyed the 3D version. It was very intense at parts, Chiara actually took off her glasses because she was a little scared, but I loved it. Arthur and Tony definitely agreed that it was worth watching the 3D.

If you liked the Harry Potter movies, you’re sure to love this look into the world of American magic. There are enough names or hints dropped to keep the Potterheads, like myself, happy. I kept whispering little asides to Tony throughout the movie, but he’s used to me by now!

Go see this! Let me know what you think!

A Day at Epcot

It’s been months since we were in Florida, but I still remember how much fun we had! Then I looked and realized I never fully blogged about our trip. Bad Stevie! I did briefly talk about Epcot, and how we drank our way around the world. There is so much more that we did that day!This trip to Disney started with a lot of planning. Our first Disney trip, Epcot was a half day, boring stop. After hitting Pinterest, I came up with the following itinerary.

Mine was handwritten, then my mom did her thing to make it pretty.

I usually try not to start days like this in the gift shop, but we needed to so we could buy the kids passports.

The passports come with stickers, featuring the flag and different sites from that country. As you go around the world showcase, you stop at each KidCot station and someone will write a little note in the native language. 

If you don’t want to get the passport, you can pick up a Duffy fan for free at any station. Chiara wanted the fan, as well as her passport, mainly so she could color it!

The itinerary was set, but as usual, we didn’t get to everything, but here was our day by country:

MEXICO: Here we only stopped for a drink, churros

NORWAY: Norway included a visit with Anna and Elsa, easily the most beautiful Elsa I’ve ever seen. My brother was enchanted.

We also rode the ride Frozen Ever After, it’s a really fun log ride! KidCot station, drink and moving on!

CHINA: China was a fun country. KidCot, drink, but with the addition of a lunch stop. Who doesn’t love Chinese food? Then we made a stop at the gift shop for some fans. If you buy a fan, be sure to ask the workers to write your name in Chinese on the fan. Here is mine:


AFRICAN TRADING POST: There was no KidCot station here, but Chiara had a lot of fun playing the drums while the grownups enjoyed their drinks. It’s vacation and we’re outside, play on!

GERMANY: I was really looking forward to Germany because I read about a shop called Karamel-Küche. I think it is really expensive, even for Disney, since this delicious strawberry cost $5 alone! Tony was really excited to find liqueur chocolates at another stand too. KidCot, drink, and moving on!

ITALY: Italy is a personal favorite, after all, I married an Italian! 

The kids enjoyed gelato while the adults had their drinks. Quick stop at the KidCot station before moving on.

THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE: This was a time of catch our breath and let the adults recover from the drinking. Arthur enjoyed copying Uncle Josh’s meditative rest. Then it was KidCot, an American beer and onward!

JAPAN: Chiara really enjoyed Japan! When traveling through, we stopped at Mitsukoshi. Here, you get to pick out an oyster and keep the pearl found inside. Chiara got a very pretty silver colored pearl and she chose a small glass bottle I think purple sand or hold it. They have many settings available for your pearl, including Cinderella’s carriage! KidCot, alcohol, then moving on.

MOROCCO: Sadly we missed the meet and greet with Aladdin and Jasmine, but we enjoyed the mosaic work here. KidCot was fun, I especially enjoyed learning the words they featured. Drinks and then onward.

***We backtracked to Norway at this point for dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for our princess dinner. This was another big treat for Chiara because we met Belle at the door and during dinner, four different princesses came to our table.



Dinner was delicious, meeting the princesses was really fun, then we were on our way again.***

FRANCE: Walling to France after dinner (that’s fun to say), Chiara saw Aurora, then the Princess took her hand and led her right to the front of the meet and greet line. Chiara was in heaven! I always love seeing he mini Eiffle Tower in France! The fountains and architecture here are very beautiful as well. My brother treated us to mini eclairs while here and they were delicious. KidCot, alcohol and continue on.

UNITED KINGDOM: Those of us that were drinking hit the Rose and Crown Pub for our beverages and the pub itself was beautiful. Exactly what I think a pub would look like in England! The kids enjoyed playing in the phone booth before we hit the KidCot station and then we were off of our last country.

CANADA: Canada wasn’t super thrilling, mainly because we lived near Canada for so long. We did however meet some really fun French guys, who worked at Epcot, and had a nice long talk with them before the light show began. KidCot, a beer before last call, then off to find our place for the Illuminations show.

The light show was fabulous! The giant globe on the water moves around, lasers shooting through the air, fireworks, music and projection images on spraying water. Definitely worth staying late for the show!

It was such an amazing day! With a little planning Epcot can be so much until, so take a little time, make your own itinerary and enjoy!

Family Halloween

Sometimes being a parent is tough. Diapers, potty training, making them believe that vegetables have to be eaten! Ugh! Halloween is one of the many things that makes it worth it! 

My kids have been great at cooperating on family themed Halloween. I love family themed costumes. Some of our themes have included:

2016 Star Wars: Myself as Rey, Tony as Luke, Arthur as Kylo Ren, Chiara as Captain Phasma.

2015 TMNT: Myself as Donatello, Tony as Raphael, Arthur as Leonardo, Chiara as Michelangelo.

2014 Amazing Archers: Myself as Katniss  (Hunger Games), Tony as Alec Lightwood  (Mortal Instruments), Arthur as Hawkeye (Avengers), Chiara as Merida (Brave).

2013 we had to go with separate themes because we couldn’t find a costume we were looking for. Our themes were Avengers for Arthur and I, Captain America and Black Widow. Oz, the Great and powerful for Tony and Chiara, Oz and the China Doll.

2012 Batman: Myself as Harley Quinn (before it was cool), Tony as the Joker (better than this new one), Arthur as Batman, Chiara as Batgirl.

2011 we were a pirate family. This was a personal favorite!

2010 Star Wars: Tony and I didn’t dress up this year (bad mommy and daddy), but  Arthur was Darth Vader and Chiara was Leia. Funniest thing about this year was Chiara’s costume coming from Build-a-Bear!

Have you ever had a fun family Halloween theme? What was your favorite?

Challenge Geocaches

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about geocaching, but I’ve got something exciting to report on! My first hand experience anyway.

This post is about challenge caches. A challenge cache does have an actual location, as well as a physical log to sign, but there is an added challenge! These caches require an additional task before they can be considered complete.

My example today is going to be about state county challenges. I was so excited to complete my first county challenge while in Rhode Island this month. For this particular style cache, you have to find a cache in each county of the state.

This was an easy challenge, as Rhode Island only has five counties, but it still takes more effort than your traditional cache. It is usually wise to plan ahead, this way you can be sure that each county is accounted for. It can be simple if you want, grabbing park and grab caches, or difficult, going after the interesting ones.

Luckily for me, Jenna was up for my caching challenge! This allowed us to see the many beautiful sides of the smallest state in our two day trip. We visited Fort Wetherill, home of an amazing quartz filled cliff in Newport County.


We saw the state capital of Providence, in the county with the same name. We visited a beautiful and peaceful cemetary with stones dating back to the revolutionary war in Bristol county.

The actual location of the challenge cache log was even in a tiny cemetary, tucked into the woods. You would think it could be forgotten, hidden as it is, but the flags on the graves show us that it is not.

Challenge caches can be anything from the county kind to requiring you to log a certain number or type of cache prior to logging it. They are a nice change from the traditional cache and worth trying out!

For more information on geocaching, check out:

Types of caching
Geocaching souvenirs

Geocaching lingo

Geocaching

The Bridges to Rhode Island and Back

Jenna may have thought I was kidding about doing this, but nope! It’s happening! 

I love driving places. Flying can be nice, and sometimes required for certain destinations, but driving is my preferred method of travel. I love seeing everything along the way. You never know if you’ll be passing the world’s biggest wind chime, or some other ridiculous thing! 

This October, I had the opportunity to go to a Rhode Island wedding with my friend Jenna. I’d never been before and was definitely looking forward to it! I convinced Jenna that driving was better and cheaper than flying, so off we went. Along the way we saw many beautiful bridges. It’s a crazy thing to get excited about it, but I loved it. 

Here are some of the ones we saw:

This beauty is the George Washington bridge in NYC. It is a pricey one, as the toll to cross was $15. It makes one wonder how people afford to cross it twice a day! We got to enjoy it for a while as we were in rush hour. You have to take your fun where you can find it!

This beautiful bridge was crossed in New Haven, CT. It’s amazing how different things can look when lit up at night. I’m sure this bridge is nothing special during the day, but the blue lights make it beautiful!

This giant bridge is found in Jamestown, RI and will cost $4 to cross. Very reasonable compared to the GWB! It takes you to an island of natural wonders, so it’s definitely worth it. I also especially love these tall bridges because the view from the high point is always amazing!

This bridge is in Bristol, RI and absolutely free to cross. My favorite part about this bridge was the old fashioned light fixtures on it. They were beautiful!

This more simple looking bridge is found in Providence, RI. There is a lot of water in and around RI so there are many bridges!

This industrial looking bridge can be found in Fall River, Massachusetts. 

As you can tell we were treated to many different styles of bridges on our trip, but we definitely enjoyed the view, both of them and from them!

Three Cheers For Animals

Does anyone know what a Daisy Journey is? I had no idea until last year when they were mentioned, and this year we just completed our first one: Three Cheers For Animals. The point of the journey is to teach girls how to take care of themselves by learning how to care for animals.

This journey takes place over several events and meetings. Our first outing as a troop on this journey was a trip to Giant Eagle, a grocery store, for a tour. This was where our troop was led through the different areas of the store, such as produce, meats, bakery, and shown how they relate to the “healthy plate”. The girls were able to sample pieces of watermelon, a delicious pizza and we finished off with a dessert, reminding the girls that it needs to be in moderation. A very informative and very fun outing!


Our next event was girl scout day at the Cleveland Zoo. Aside from crafts that were set up for us, there were many “meet the keeper” opportunities. This gave the girls the opportunity to talk to zoo workers about what goes in to caring for an animal. Things like habitat care, proper diet and exercise. All things that we as people need. A trip to the zoo is always fun for first graders!

Our first meeting focused on healthy eating. This involved making “snack bugs”. Yes, we encouraged the girls to play with their food. The girls had a lot of fun!

Our last outing, and the “service” portion of this journey was an outing to Kitten Krazy, a local shelter for cats. The girls were told about how the cats require food, cleaning up after, and of course play time. This was the best part for the kids, getting to play with kittens!

The girls also got to drop off the cat toys we had made in one of our meetings.

Another meeting involved yoga and some simple exercises. This was a lot of fun because it was a lot of moving around!

The journey had a lot of fun opportunities for the girls, and the leaders. This journey has been a blast and has made me look forward to the next one!

This is the patch that the girls earned by completing their journey.

Busy Life, Happy Life

I’ve really been slacking off on blogging lately. I hate myself for it, just a little bit, but it’s happening for a good reason. A year ago, we were sitting at home, like we always did at the end of the day, doing nothing. Watching TV, kids maybe playing with their toys or tablets, but it was a whole lot of laziness. 

We decided to make a change, well I did. My son was already in boy scouts, my husband as assistant den leader, so my daughter became a daisy scout (that’s the first level of girl scouts) and I got roped into being a co-leader.

Next step was some kind of physical activity for the kids. Chiara has always loved dancing. Since she could walk, if music is on, she was swaying to it. So she was signed up for ballet. It’s been a year and one recital and she still loved it! 

Arthur is not one for sports. My sweet boy just doesn’t have the coordination or the patience for it. I know martial arts are really good for developing  those, so he has now been taking those classes for a year.

Arthur taking martial arts led to me following up on a “help needed” at the dojo, so now I also teach kickboxing twice a week. That’s been a slightly crazy addition to my schedule, but it is really helping me tone up. Double win as it usually pays for Arthur’s karate.

The reason I share all this is because I’m going to start incorporating some of my girl scout experiences into the blog and I didn’t want to startle anyone. There will be mention of crafts and yummy snacks, so it will still be fun! Prepare yourself!