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For the past few years we’ve had annual passes for Disney, but we changed things up a bit this year and went with an annual pass to Universal Studios instead. And to kick things off, Cindy took the boys to Orlando this weekend to try ’em out.

Universal Studios Entrance
Entrance to Universal Studios

What the boys were most interested in doing today was visiting Diagon Alley in Harry Potter World, but on the way, they take a ride with the Minions…and hand around for a photo afterward.

With the Minions

At last, it’s time to visit the cobbled wizzarding alley and shopping area behind the Leaky Cauldron in London, England. Among this secret collection of restaurants, shops, and other sights, they boys will pick-up all the items on their Hogwarts supply list.

Of course, the one thing every wizard absolutely needs is a wand. And the selection was quite impressive inside the famous Ollivander’s Wand Shop. After the boys had selected their wands, they moved around Diagon Alley casting spells. There were several areas where you waved the wand in a specific manner to make something happen, like rain from an umbrella or lights turning on, or writing on a scroll…

And what better way to decompress after a hard day of wizzarding than with a refreshing glass of “butter beer”, at the “Fountain of Fair Fortune”. Butter beer is a creamy buttery caramel and butterscotch concoction. Adam loved it, but Alex, not so much…

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Today the boys got a clean bill of health from their dentist. So, to celebrate, we walked across the street to the Moondog Pie House for a New York Style pepperoni pizza!

Ready for Pizza!

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It’s was still a little chilly out and the forecast was calling for scattered showers, but that didn’t stop the boys and I from taking to the water for the afternoon.

Heading into Jax

As we approached the Acosta Bridge, we noticed the railroad bridge (officially the FEC Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge) was down due to a train crossing, so we entered the city via the small boat span, which is always fun. There’s plenty of room, but it always looks like it’s going to be a tight fit…

Under the small bridge span.

Anyway, our destination today was the Exchange Club Park Island under the Matthews Bridge. There’s a little dock there, some picnic areas, and some trails to explore.

This was our first time visiting the island, so it was pretty exciting walking across the gangway…

Gangway to Exchange Club Island Park

And once there, we enjoyed some of the snacks we brought, then started exploring. There was a lagoon in the middle of the island and even some wildlife. In the middle, there was a marker that was pretty beat-up, but we could still make out the words.

The trails were marked with little arrows (so you won’t get lost, I guess), and in the middle, there was a marker that was pretty beat-up, but we could still make out the words.

Soon, the air started to get a little misty, so we decided to head home. If it started raining too badly, we could always tie-up under a bridge on the way.

Thanks for visiting

And Alex took us home…

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Okay, so Adam is a big fan of Portuguese soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo. Cindy took the boys to get haircuts this week and this is what Adam got…

I just don’t get the deal with soccer. I remember when I was growing up, my favorite athlete was Pittsburg Steeler Running Back, Franco Harris. A real man playing a real man’s game. How could a kid not look up to someone like that, right?

But geez, soccer! You can’t even pick-up the ball with your hands! What’s up with that???

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The only time Charlie will sit or lie down at the top of the stairs is when someone is climbing them. Otherwise, he never sits or lies down in this spot. Whenever anyone climbs the stairs and he’s there waiting, they’ll always stop to give him a pet or a scratch. Which, of course, is the reason he selects this location at this particular time.

Stairway Dog

The Holidays are over, so that only means ONE thing! BASKETBALL! The Upward Basketball program at Fruit Cove Baptist Church is really a lot of fun! The boys learn skills as well as lessons in good character and sportsmanship.

BBall Begins

Their coaches started drilling the boys on the basics and they got quite a workout. And it didn’t matter to Alex there was a defender in front of the basket, he was taking the shot…

BBall Begins

while Adam made a fast break to the basket…

BBall Begins

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Yesterday, I took Alex to a local sports complex for some batting practice. He was a little rusty at first…

Alex at the Bat Alex at the Bat

but soon found his swing…

Alex at the Bat Alex at the Bat

and was connecting with the ball…

Alex at the Bat Alex at the Bat


Alex at the Bat

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The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold wet day.
from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss


I can recall another day just like this when a little boy was looking out the window, wishing the rain away, and longing to go outside.

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I’m up early, as usual, and everyone else is still asleep. I stepped outside with Charlie and sipping coffee, am watching the Sunrise on the mountain.

Sunrise Sunrise

I enjoy these quiet moments.

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Despite the busy day they had yesterday and the evening at Pa’s, the boys still got up early! I heard them get out of bed about 5:30, but I didn’t get up until 6:00. They were playing on their iPads and patiently waiting for everyone to get up (although they had already catalogued every present under the tree by its recipient. Anyway, I let them go into their stockings, which, if you know Cindy, is crammed full of treasures–toys, candy, games, and more candy…

Christmas Day

After the boys finished with their stockings, I put some coffee on and we waited for the rest of the family to get up. And at 7:00, which seemed like an eternity, the unwrapping began!

Christmas Day Christmas Day

Let’s see, there were Harry Potter wands, which they thought were pretty cool. Alex got the actual Harry Potter wand, while Adam was pleased to have the wand used by Lord Voldemort…

Christmas Day Christmas Day

Naturally, a fast-handed wand battle ensued…

Christmas Day

One of the neatest presents they received was a retro electronic football game from the 70s. I loved this game when I was a teenager, but the boys weren’t too impressed! LOL.

Christmas Day

Nope, what they were really excited about was the official 2018 FIFA World Cup Soccer Ball…

Christmas Day

and the gear that went with it…the uniforms of their favorite players: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil’s Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (aka Neymar Jr.)…

Christmas Day

There was a lot more, of course, but these were the highlights. I enjoy watching the boys on Christmas morning and remember the excitement I felt as a child while ripping the wrapping paper off the presents left for me under the tree. It’s nice to relive those moments through their eyes.

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