Italy: Getting there

June 10th finally arrived! This year it wasn’t just about my anniversary, Tony and I have been married 13 years now, but we were leaving for Italy! I had been planning, plotting, and in general losing my mind about this for months. I was finally going on my first international vacation!

An friend from one of my Facebook groups was supposed to be taking us, but I kept getting all these weird messages from her, making me think she had to bail on us. Neighbor John to the rescue! While we were loading our van, the online friend showed up, yelling about how I ruined her evening, but I was flying high already, so we didn’t even look at her, and she left.

On the way to the airport, we got an alert that the flight had been delayed an hour, but no worries, as they had already bumped us to the next connecting flight to Rome. At the airport, printed our tickets, through security, then to the terminal to wait.

We needed an anniversary shot of Tony and I for posterity

We boarded the plane, both kids squirming in excitement because this would be the first flight Arthur would remember, and Chiara’s first flight ever. Then out on the tarmac, the captain made an announcement that we would be on the tarmac for about an hour. The weather in NY was too foggy. Everyone on the plane handled it well, my mother especially, talking to everyone within a three row radius.

Look how excited he is!

We finally made it to NY, but were left rushing towards our next flight with no hope of making it. At least nine people missed that flight by a window of twenty minutes. Ugh! The next flight to Rome wasn’t until 4:25 the next afternoon, meaning we were losing an entire day in Rome, a night at the hotel, and would now be rushing to our first tour. Double ugh!

We were able to find a hotel close to airport, they sent a shuttle to retrieve us, so we at least had a place to sleep at night. Once we got to the room, Josh, my brother, and I walked down to the 7-11 to hopefully find some food at 11pm. They actually had a great selection of fresh food available, including a pizza they cooked fresh for us!

We woke up around 9am the next morning to make our way back to the airport. We then spent the next six hours wandering the JFK airport.

My first time seeing the One World Trade Center

Another bummer to being bumped on an airline is that you will most likely not be sitting with your party. We only had two seats together, so Chiara and I took those. My mom was able to get someone to switch, and had Arthur next to her. Tony and Josh were sitting solo. Sleeping on the plane was impossible for all except Josh. Marine training, and time in a war zone, allows him to sleep anywhere.

So there we were, arriving in Rome, our tour starting in just two hours, running on no sleep. Let the fun commence!

Bumblebee

I had a date night with this handsome kid last night, and we went and saw Bumblebee. He’s been a huge Transformers fan since he was three years old, but somehow this one is the first we’ve seen in theaters! After a yummy meal at Subway, his favorite place to eat, it was off to the theater.

The movie opens on Cybertron, in the middle of the war. Arthur especially loved watching that battle rage, seeing the fall of Cybertron happen instead of the brief flashbacks we’ve seen in past movies. Bumblebee is sent to Earth by Optimus, as a sort of scout, to pave the way for the rest of the Autobots.

His arrival on Earth is not a peaceful one, but we do see how he loses his voice and it was a sad scene for me. He is my favorite Transformer after all. Things get better when Charlie comes along, and there are some very funny moments, with only a little heartbreak thrown in.

I won’t spoil the movie, but I did tear up a few times. Apparently I’m a soft touch and a bit of a sap with books and movies, but I am standing by my emotional rating!

There was a scene during the credits that makes me question if they will be doing at least one more of these prequel movies. Otherwise the timeline will be a little skewed and that will bother me forever!

Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it?

2018 in Retrospect

This has been another crazy year. It never sounds like it until you sit down to post about it, but wow.

In typical fashion of a combined family as large as Tony and I’s, we had a wedding. We were invited to two, but were only able to attend one, my cousin’s. Don’t we look spiffy?

In what is becoming a sad tradition, we attended a funeral as well. It seems for every wedding we attend there is a funeral to pair with it. An amazing woman, who has been deeply involved in Tony and I’s lives since we were teens passed away unexpectedly over the summer and it is still hard to process that grief.

At the beginning of the year, we built our beautiful new kitchen, still not complete, even though we’ve been using it since March.

It has been just over a year since my brother, Josh, moved in with us and he has been an amazing addition to our home. Tony and I have been able to enjoy more nights out together, the kids have enjoyed him immensely, so there is really no downside to having him here as he attends school.

Half way through the year I adopted a habit tracker system to help keep me organized, which worked brilliantly until November rolled around. I’ve been taking the dog for more routine walks, which has been good for both of us. Getting out in to the air, spending quiet time with the silly Zuko, has been great for me personally.

I completed my first reading challenge on Goodreads, 120 books this year, with no rereading. I have found so many amazing series, Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses, some embarrassingly delightful smut novels, etc. I’m looking forward to next year where I can continue my “no rereading” policy.

I was able to attend a Halloween book signing at Turn the Page bookstore, Nora Roberts, obviously, and the amazing Karen Marie Moning, another author I discovered this year. One more signing off that particular bucket list!

The family and I took a fall trip to New Jersey to visit Tony’s grandmother and had an amazing time. The boardwalk, the ocean, and time with family are always a fabulous addition to the year.

This year promises to be just as amazing. Italy coming this summer. Meet and greets with more authors I’ve fallen for. Putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, and who knows what else!

I hope your year was meaningful. Just remember that a year doesn’t have to be about checking off boxes on your bucket list, or visiting exotic locales. It can be about time spent with family, achieving a personal goal, or even something as small as how many books you read. Perhaps you survived another year at a job putting you through college. Whatever it is, celebrate the year that has past, and embrace whatever is coming. It’s going to be good, I know it!

Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Finally got out to see the new Wreck It Ralph last night and it was amazing! I laughed through most of it and gasped at a lot of scenes, but I’ve been told I’m too easily entertained at movies. On the other hand, my husband and brother, along with my kids, all loved the movie too!

It’s been six years since the events of the first movie, Ralph and Vanellope are still friends, playing their games all day and hanging out all night. Ralph thinks this is the greatest life possible, but Vanellope is getting bored. All the races are predictable, all the tracks have been unlocked, nothing new ever happens. Ralph tries to help, but the Sugar Rush game console ends up broken.

The two go to the internet to find the piece they need on Ebay. The bidding war is hilarious, ending with the two shocked to find they need actual money. Luckily some of the spammers gave them the idea to play games to win money. This leads them to Slaughter Race, with the amazing Shank, voiced by Gal Gadot.

Vanellope falls in love with Slaughter Race, the excitement, the newness of every race. Ralph becomes a BuzzTube darling, earning money by making an idiot of himself in videos. You know, true American fashion!

The bit with the Disney Princesses was entertaining. I liked seeing the Princesses fall in love with casual clothes. Every woman can relate to that scene!

Ralph earns the money for the part, but freaks out when he realizes Vanellope doesn’t want to return to the arcade.

The weird thing about this movie, something happening more and more in kid films, is that there is no definable bad guy. There are shady characters, bad elements, but the line of “good” and “bad” is getting blurred. That sends an important message to kids because “bad” people, aren’t always bad. We all are capable of making bad calls and doing the wrong thing.

The side story about what’s going on with Felix and Calhoun is hilarious, especially to parents. Tony and I were cracking up all through that bit!

There are post credit scenes that are worth staying for. Tony had just mentioned that the scene with the kitty and bunny wasn’t in the movie, and not two seconds later, it showed up in the credits. Watching it in the theater I’ve decided that it was baby Moana playing that game, and I loved it all the more for that fact.

Family recommendation: go see it, laugh your butt off, be scared and relieved, take the amazing advice from a character named Shank. The advice given was that you can still be friends without being in each others pockets all the time. As an army brat, constantly moving, I thought it was great to have that in a kids movie!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald

I loved this movie! I know there have been some sketchy reviews, and I think I know why, but this movie was brilliant.

The panel of judges in my group include:

•Myself, an avid reader and lover of all things HP, Gryffindor through and through

•My husband, has seen all the movies and is happy to discuss, devious Slytherin

•My brother, also has read the books and seen the movies, proud Gryffindor

•My son, 11, who loves the Fantastic Beast world more than the original movies, a sweet Hufflepuff

•My daughter, 8, likes the movies ok, and is a proud Slytherin

Spoiler Free: The movie begins with Grindlewald breaking free during transport to London. We see Thestrals, a Chupacabra, and a light show of wand attacks.

We learn very early in the movie that Creedence survived his assault in New York, and the Ministry wants Newt to help track and capture him. Newt’s brother shows up, and I can’t help but question how he’s related to the oh-so-sweet Newt!

Jacob and Queenie show up in London, Jacob acting strangely, even for him. The reason why is a bit odd, and extreme, but it plays in to a choice made at the end of the movie.

********* SPOILERS*********

Queenie had an enchantment on Jacob so he would marry her. Why would he need an enchantment when he’s so gone over her? He won’t marry her because she could be locked up for marrying a No-Mag and he won’t let that happen.

When Queenie leaves abruptly, they follow her to France, to Tina. Grindlewald is also in France, seeking Creedence. There are several other players involved, so pay close attention!

*********END SPOILERS*********

I felt Jude Law did a brilliant job playing a young Albus Dumbledoor. The right mix of silly, and insightful, you can completely believe he grows in to a batty but powerful wizard. The LGBT community should be happy too, as there is a scene that makes his sexuality more apparent. Don’t worry though, completely family friendly, and probably to subtle for kids to get. Mine didn’t.

Dumbledore family history is brought up, alongside the Lestrange family tree. I feel there will be many more answers in the last movie, as I still have questions.

Phoenixes, nifflers, kelpies, zouwu, and many more, there are also enough creatures in this movie to make everyone happy. The only thing I’m upset about now is that the chupacabra got a Pop! figure and the zouwu didn’t! Its adorable and I want one!

I hope you love this movie as much as I did. I love Eddie Redmayns in his roll as Newt Scamander and am looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy!

Bohemian Rhapsody

I went in to this movie knowing nothing about Queen, other than the most popular songs. I couldn’t have even told you the name Freddy Mercury!

My husband is a big fan of classic music, I love Rami Malek, so it was a perfect date night choice. It felt even more perfect as we watched the movie!

The movie starts with how Freddy met his band mates, met the “love of his life”. It bounces quickly to their success and how Freddy Mercury is apparently out of his mind, but you love every minute of it.

As with any of these movies, you know the bad has to come, and it does. I learned things about Freddy and the band that I had no idea about. Even my husband, who knows a lot of music trivia was surprised by some of it. The movie pulls through! For those of you that know what happened to Freddy, you still leave the theater feeling happy and mostly optimistic.

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone that has ever happily stomped along with “we will, we will, rock you” or screamed the lyrics to “we are the champions”. You will absolutely enjoy it!

Dreams of Velaris Dreamy and Co. box

Oh look, another geek box! What’s a girl to do? Obviously savor every precious thing in it!

Key chain and pin

Beautiful pouch that I have no idea what to do with

First sides of bookmarks and mini print

Second sides of bookmarks and mini print

Flick the Wick wax melt

Gorgeous artwork of Feyre and Rhysand

Is it any wonder I’m turning in to a lunatic over these geek boxes? They have such beautiful items! I need to start hanging up my artwork in my book nook. At the moment they’re just stacked up.

I know I’ve asked before, but have you ever ordered any boxes? This is my second from Dreamy and Co. and both of them have been amazing!