Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movie growing up. As soon as I found out they were making a live action version, I was over the moon about it! Then March 17 finally came, and now it’s time!

Emma Watson as Belle is fabulous! Little Hermione has grown up and is perfect for the role. The music is perfect, as I remember from childhood, with just enough of a change to make it new. There were parts, when Belle was singing about wanting more on the hillside, where the animation/graphics is a little questionable, but as the rest of the movie has fabulous animation, I let it go.

More was added to the storyline to explain the curse, the town’s lack of knowledge, and to make the timing a little more believable. The enchantress was a little more vicious than she came across in the cartoon!

Most powerful scene for me was the ballroom scene. I was smiling like a lunatic through the whole scene. Don’t judge me, but happy tears for the sheer beauty of it may have happened….

I know there was a lot of anger/confusion/weirdness over Lefou being the first “openly” gay character. It’s not a spoiler, but other than one scene at the end where Lefou dances with another guy, he’s no more “openly” gay than he was in the cartoon. We watched the cartoon the following day to verify.

There were several songs I wasn’t familiar with, but I was informed that the musical had several songs that weren’t in the cartoon. The actors and actresses they had for this film did great with the songs. Emma Watson of course was great. Dan Stevens as Beast was also great. The biggest surprise for me was how amazing Luke Evans was as Gaston! His singing in the tavern was spot on. His character was a little more evil than cartoon Gaston was, but most live action Disney movies add a little more violence.

Disney magic continues, I can’t wait for this to be released to own and watch again. The theaters were crowded, I know many were sold out, but when you get the chance, be sure to see it. Whether you loved or liked the original, even if you never saw it, you’re sure to love it.

Moana

Moana facing Te Kā

Disney has done it again! I’m never really surprised at how they continue to impress me. From the classics to the modern ones, Disney rolls with the times. Three years ago they brought us Frozen. With its powerful message about being who you are and amazing songs, it was also nice to have romance take the back burner.

Moana is the story of a girl from an island who dreams of the sea. When her island is in danger because of the actions of a demigod one thousand years before, she seeks out Maui, the demigod who caused the trouble. Chosen by the ocean fot this task, she plans to force him to replace the heart of Te Fiti, the mother island, because his theft of it is causing other islands to die.

Moana has no love story, just a friendship that builds, fantastic music, and more important messages for kids. The music carries the story in this movie. Songs such as How Far I’ll go, with powerful lines like 

I can lead with pride, I can make us strong. I’ll be satisfied if I play along, but the voice inside sings a different song. What is wrong with me?”

It is sometimes easier to go along with what is expected, but we all need to do what’s best for us.
My favorite song from this movie is I Am Moana. When Moana thinks that she’s failed, her grandmother’s spirit shows up for support. The end of the song:

I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me
And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me
It’s like the tide; always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart you’ll remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!


It’s just such a powerful moment. Spirits of her ancestors, the ocean around her, and most importantly, she realizes the power to do what she needs to is within her.


There is the obligatory song of silliness, brought to you by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, You’re Welcome. This quickly became my husband’s favorite song just for the sheer ridiculous nature of the song.


My kids love this movie, I love this movie, you should love this movie. Why don’t you watch it and find out….

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

Lego Kit

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My son saw this on one of my Pinterest boards and latched on to the idea. He is a Lego fanatic, and this was “an amazing thing” that had to be done!

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Start simple with an Altoids tin and a flat base Lego piece. I used hot glue to attach it.

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Then you let your kid(s) pick the pieces they want in their kit. Super simple, but such a great idea!

The idea came from this site which I know I’ll be pulling other ideas from!

This little kit is perfect to take to restaurants or anyplace you may be stuck cooling your heels. It gives your little master builder something to do that has the side benefit of keeping them quiet. All that in a little, pocket sized tin? Yes please!

Phantom of the Opera at Playhouse Square

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Last night Tony and I went out with our friends Alan and Jenna to see Phantom of the Opera. They were celebrating five years of marriage and we were celebrating ten years, which was actually on the tenth of this month. We had a fantastic night planned, dinner out, then right across the street to the State Theater.

I actually didn’t realize until recently that Playhouse Square was made up of several theaters, all on one stretch. It’s an amazing setup!

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A fun thing about plays, both of them that I’ve been to now, is the wide variety of people you’ll see. From the amazingly stylish couple above (aren’t we cute?) to a punk rock couple I saw, including platform boots, chains and a six inch mohawk.

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The seats we had were fantastic, up in the mezzanine, which afforded us a great view of the entire stage.

Even though I’ve never seen a live performance of this show, I feel like I knew every line, I definitely knew all the lyrics of the songs! The performers were amazing, bringing the story to life before our eyes.

I think the most shocking part of this show was the special effects. From the chandelier lighting at the very beginning, to our first visit to the Phantom’s lair, continuing to the chandelier falling just before the intermission, all I can say is wow! The set design itself was fantastic, with beautiful backgrounds. The work they had to have put into each one is amazing, especially considering the different performances put on within the show itself.

The pyrotechnics were very shocking too! Almost blinding at some points. You’re in a darkened theater, then suddenly the candles on stage flare up to 5 feet high, very bright as well! There was a scene with a gunshot too, Tony and I both jumped.

The website said they had made some updates to the show itself, but all I saw was the show I loved with amazing effects!

If you have the chance to see this show, take it! It’s a classic that has only been made better!