First look at Hogsmeade!

So far, so awesome.

It is Day 03 of our trip and I have about 30 minutes before the gym opens which is basically the only “down” time I’ve had to update post about my travels in any lengthy detail other than photo dumps on Instagram. I want to try to get everything down before I forget things so I’m just going to do a stream-of-consciousness type entry and not fret about grammar or spelling. You know, basically like every other day I write anything else. I put a lot of pictures on Instagram but I also took some with my “real” camera and I’ll pick a few of those to show with each entry and do a bigger photo dump after we get back. However, if you want to check out some more photos – check out my instagram.

Day 01

We could get into the park with our early passes at 8am but we had breakfast at 3 broomsticks at 9am and because I’m terrified of being late, I basically buffered everything we did until breakfast so we spent a lot of time waiting. I made the kids wear their Hogwarts robes even though they felt dumb, I knew they wouldn’t once they got there. We got to the shuttle 10 minutes early but it arrived 5 minutes early. On the way to the park I started crying. THE FIRST TIME. We got to the park entrance like 40 minutes early and walked around City Walk for a bit, but then got in line for early entrance about 7:40am. As we were waiting in line and I started crying again but luckily bonded with the woman in front of me who was also excited. As the lines got longer the kids saw others in their robes and they started being REALLY glad they wore them.

They let us into the park and we headed straight for Hogsmeade. One the way there I just got so worked up, crying and gasping and the second we saw the sign I just started pointing and smiling and it was AMAZING. We walked in and I started just snapping pictures and trying to soak it all in. We decided to try to squeeze in a trip to Olivander’s for our interactive wands. We were the first “demo” group of the day. They brought us into the most AMAZING little replica of Olivander’s and the most amazing man posing as Olivander greeted us. Then, he noticed my kids in their robes and he used BOTH of them as the guinea pigs for the demo! This was why I made them wear their robes, I was told that could catch his attention. I didn’t tell them that though, because I didn’t want them to get their hopes up. I was also warned that the kids don’t get the wands they get in the demo for free, but we were planning on buying the anyway so it was fine. The whole thing was – basically – magical.

I bought Luna’s wand which is the one I wanted all along, Donnie bought Voldemort’s because it was the coolest looking, and E bought Narcissa’s because he’s Slytherin and wanted something from the Slytherin line. We tried a few spells before breakfast but they are VERY finicky. You have to do things a certain wait. Day 02 and none of us are still great at it.

We went to breakfast at 3 Broomsticks and it was lovely. It all looked exactly how I expected and it was a filling breakfast and a great relaxing start to the day. Then we went straight for the Hippogriff ride and Wesley fell in LOVE with Buckbeak just seeing her in line. It was really strange! AT this moment he’s ridden that coaster about 15 times so far. He loves it. Nikki, on the other hand, screamed in my shoulders the whole time, “I’m SCARED! MAKE IT STOP!” I made her get back on again because I know her and I knew she’d regret not trying to enjoy it since it is geared to kids. She has since ridden it about 5 times but still closes her eyes every time.

Donnie talked Nikki into doing the Dueling Dragons too because she was (barely) tall enough. I told her if she got scared to do what she did on the Hippogriff ride, just close her eyes. Donnie said the measured her like 3 times going in to make sure she was tall enough, she told me later she kept hoping she wouldn’t be. She said she kept her eyes closed the entire time so it was scary, but not awful. E and I went next. Neither one of us are coaster people and I get really motion sick but I wanted to experience everything so we headed in. E kept trying to talk me out of it! I was all, “DUDE. Stay strong or I’m backing out!” But we got on and basically he ended up loving it. I closed my eyes through about half of it and just said, “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD” over and over again. It was kinda great, kinda awful. I did it again Day 2, but I’ll tell about that later.

We decided it was time to leave Hogsmeade for a bit and we headed to Seuss land. We did the 1 Fish, 2 Fish spinning ride. Donnie sat that out because he doesn’t like spinning and E and I partnered with the kids. It was fun for the kids trying to position our fish to get the wettest (trick: stay in the middle) it’s actually a pretty good ride. They control the fish up/down and get to get wet. We did the Seuss train too, but at that point Wes had been to the dark side of thrill rides and found it boring.

Next was Jurassic Park where we rode the ride that has a raft and a bunch of animatronic dinosoaurs (I don’t have time to look up names as I realize I’m not even going to get to day 2 before my run!) and it was great. I’m glad Wes is tall enough to ride MOST rides. That one we all sat on one row together, it was nice finding a 5-person ride so no one had to go alone. It was definitely freaky/scary at parts,more than I thought it would be. And we got pretty wet. It was fun. Since our stuff was in a locker staying dry we headed over to Cartoon world to do the falls, another wet ride. That line was SUPER long. Longest wait of the day so far (that would be the pattern, great lines until about 12 every day) but the kids totally thought it was worth it. It was basically a log ride, another one we could all do together – 5 person friendly! I made Wes sit behind me and I held his legs the whole time though because I just felt like he was too small for the giant drop I knew was coming. It was scary and we got SOAKED. It was great.

After that we decided to get lunch and then headed back to the hotel (I think) and ended up letting E take a nap while the rest of us played in the lazy river at the hotel. Then we went to the OTHER pool where the kids rode the slide and Donnie and I kinda napped by the pool. Then dinner at the hotel and the kids swam some more while Men In Black played at the pool.

I’m not going to have time to get into Day 2! And I know this lacked personality but I’m trying to just get it all down and then do a proper dos/donts and actual thought about everything later. Just throwing the details out now!! Thanks for being tolerant with this horrible format/brain dump! Here’s 3 pictures!

First look at Hogsmeade!

First look at Hogsmeade!

Wesley being annoyed!

Wesley being annoyed!

3 Broomsticks

3 Broomsticks


Things Kim Does Before Taking A Family Trip

  • Find someone to take care of the dog
  • Find someone to take care of the cats
  • Find someone to take care of the house
  • Research food/entertainment at destination and make a budget
  • Buy food items so we can stay within that budget by not eating out every meal
  • Research entertainment options that don’t require nice weather in case of rain
  • Pack my clothes
  • Pack Wesley’s clothes
  • Make sure Nikki packs the right/enough clothes
  • Buy Wesley a new swimsuit because, in packing, I find his are all too small
  • Pack a separate bag of bath supplies because of the shampoo incident of ’02
  • Buy batteries for entertainment devices
  • Pack bag of electronics including ALL CHARGERS FOR SAID ELECTRONICS
  • Guide kids in packing “travel” bags to entertain them on the car ride
  • Clean out van
  • Get van serviced
  • Make sure there’s enough cat food/dog food/kitty litter so the housesitters/petsitters (Donnie’s parents) don’t run out
  • Make sure house is “show ready” in case the in-laws get the call while we’re gone
  • Settle for “decent” instead of “perfect” since there’s just TOO MANY OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
  • Make sure to pack all medicines we may need in a week
  • Take out garbage, recycling and run dishwasher so nothing sits around stinking up the house
  • Shower

Things Donnie Does Before Taking A Family Trip

  • Pack his clothes
  • Shower

It’s a really good thing I’m naturally the planner/organizer in our family or this devision of labor might be something that bugged the shit out of me.

Final Book Release


Sometime early tomorrow morning, we will be starting our 10 hour trek to Florida to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade AND Diagon Alley). I’m not driving so I don’t control the departure time, but if I had it my way we’d leave at 3am. This will be our first “real” family vacation in 6 years. You know – the whole family/whole week type of vacation all of our friends do every summer. Nope. Not us. Instead we spend our vacation money on long weekend trips surrounding races several times a year, so it takes us a little longer to save up for something extravagant like what we’re doing this week. Wesley doesn’t even remember the last vacation we took, so this feels like a first for him!

The in-laws are housesitting/dogsitting and being on call in case our house needs to be shown. It will crack me up if it’s shown while we’re gone since it has only shown once in the last 30 days.

We are staying at the on-site hotel – the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and it has a pool with a water slide AND a lazy river. This was perfect for us because we are not typically amusement park people so we knew we’d need to stay somewhere that the kids would find entertaining so we could come back for down time often over the next 7 days.

We have breakfast scheduled at the 3 Broomsticks Sunday and the Leaky Cauldron Wednesday.


I’ll be posting pictures all week but I’m also going to use Snapchat some. Why? Because an iPhone has two microphones and the main one on mine is dead. I can’t do videos with sound or facetime or speakerphone. BUT – for some reason – Snapchat uses the OTHER microphone (as does the “voice memo” tool) so I can actually record audio with Snapchat. Those blips will be lost to the universe after 24 hours, but that is probably a good thing since it will a whole lot of me acting like a fool.

GET SNAPCHAT! Find me! I’m MissZoot, obviously. Let’s send all of the teenagers away from Snapchat like we did Facebook!

I’ve got my 9 3/4 luggage tag on my suitcase packed with shirts from The Colorful Gleek and Karen Hallion. Wesley is using E’s old Harry Potter suitcase that is probably 15 years old and our stuffed owls are all making the trip. I’d like to pretend like this is for the kids, and it is, but we all know it’s mostly for me. Or at least me and E. Harry Potter was something we enjoyed together the entire span of his lifetime. He doesn’t remember a time before Harry Potter because I discovered it when he was 4. He remembers all of the midnight book releases and movie releases and this is basically going to be us geeking out together for 7 days.

In preparation, let’s relive some of our favorite Harry Potter moments.


Sears Portrait Studio, the Glory Days.

Yes. We went to Sears and had our pictures made like this. WHAT?

First Movie Release

First Movie Release

They didn’t do a midnight showing in Huntsville for the first movie, but I did let E skip school so we could go see the first showing the day it opened. And then my brother came into town and we saw it again that night.


Book 5 Midnight Release

My friend in this photo and I stayed up ALL NIGHT reading book 5 because I had a wedding shower the next day and we knew if we didn’t finish it before the shower we’d be awful trying to put it down and be social. I was still a smoker back then so we sat by the pool the next day and read and smoked until the shower. It was actually a pretty glorious day.

Second Movie? I believe?

Second Movie? I believe?

Our friends came in for the second movie release (I think that’s what this was) and let me tell you – everyone should have grown friends that are as fanatical about things as they are. Our friends moved to the Pacific Northwest eventually, but they were still very much a part of our Harry Potter history!

My  30th Birthday Party!

My 30th Birthday Party!

My friends threw me a surprise 30th birthday party before the midnight release of Book 6. We all wore matching shirts and I was pregnant with Nikki but I made it through the late night and finished the book the next day, sobbing my eyes and my heart out thinking that there was just no way I could have a child in a world without Dumbledore.

Final Book Release

Final Book Release

The final book release – where I met Hagrid. It was pretty awesome. But also awful because that meant the books were all over.

Certifications from the Party

Certifications from the Party

I had a Harry Potter party before the first part of the final movie release and it was phenomenal. I worked for days getting everything ready, with Moaning Myrtle signs in the bathroom and Horcruxes hidden around the house. It was pretty awesome.


Bellatrix and E

And then I went to the movie dressed as Bellatrix but didn’t make it through the movie since I had been up all night prepping for the party and I was too old to do two all nighters in a row.

Not Pictured: Nikki reading the first three books so far and Wes is (hopefully) going to start the first one soon. Donnie has read them all too, in case you’re worried we’re leaving him out. He’s just not quite as in love with it all as I am.

I hope to post recaps every day, mainly because I want to document this trip forever as I’m just SO DAMN EXCITED. I want to savor every moment because it will be another 6 years before we can afford to do this again.


So many thoughts. So little time.

If you made a list if A) Most fun weekends and B) Most exhausting weekends of my life – this past one would top BOTH lists…probably forever.

From the time I woke up Friday morning at 3:30am to the time I fell asleep last night about 10pm (about 67 hours) I spent 2.5 hours working, 14 hours running, 4 hours at the races NOT running, 10 hours at an art festival, 6 hours at social gatherings, and about 20 hours asleep. The rest of the 10 hours were divided sparsely between Friday, Saturday and Sunday trying my best to maintain things like the house by cleaning and my body by showering. I am exhausted.

But it was great. I have a lot to say about the race and the weekend and the awesomeness in my life but right now I have about 30 seconds before I have to wake up the kids for school and leave for work so what you get instead is one picture from Day 03 that my friend Chelsea took of me taking advantage of an ice cold stream to invigorate my tired legs. 10950688_10153748031763496_6806061783534837729_n


2am Shame Spiral

This has been an INSANE weekend. I ran 13 miles at Day 01 of my stage race on Friday, and then volunteered at our local art festival Friday night. I did that so that I could see Indigo Girls for FREE Saturday night after running 16 miles at Day 02 of our Stage race. All leading up to running 14 miles today at Day 03.


So, you would think I would have been EXHAUSTED last night.

The concert was SO FUN. Nikki and I danced non-stop for 90 minutes. The Indigo Girls were the soundtrack from my high school years, but I kept up with them even beyond that. I knew most of the songs last night but they played several of my favorites. My favorites from a time in my life when I was struggling after my first marriage ended and I was trying to keep my head above water and finish school as a single Mom and the Indigo Girls were my anthem of every day. I saw them several times over the span of about 3 years, once with E when he was 4. Those songs were the nourishment for my soul which needed healing as I was rediscovering who I was in the wake of some crazy changes in my life.

And last night I got to hear several of those SAME SONGS in person, close enough that we could make out the flowers on Emily’s shirt and I could see the sweat dripping off Amy Ray’s forehead. I screamed the lyrics and danced my heart out and laughed and boogied with my daughter and felt SO ALIVE because I haven’t seen a live show in forever, much less music that carried so much emotional weight…I felt high on life in every sense of the word. It was a great night and Nikki had a blast and I’ll never forget it.

But then…of course…because this is ME we’re talking about…I woke up at 1:30am replaying moments from the night and suffering from embarrassment shame spiral.

Should I have hugged that friend? Did I make that awkward?
Should I have screamed when I saw those friends? Did they thing I was drunk?
Why did I talk to the guy with the stage race shirt?
Was I too excited?
How bad of a dancer am I?
Maybe I should have been more calm. I’m almost 40 for chrissakes.
I’m too old to have been acting like a fool like that.

I was so excited to be there yesterday that I embraced everyone I saw, just about. If they didn’t get hugs they got some sort of drunken (I was not drunk on anything but the excitement of my favorite music) and overly excited greeting where I was like a kid bouncing off the walls on Christmas Eve.

And at 2am I started worrying that maybe I was too old for that kind of crap. And even after several exhausting days I could NOT sleep for fear of embarrassment.


I had an amazing night with my daughter. I screamed myself hoarse. I danced so hard I can’t tell what is sore today from running or what is from dancing. I felt joy deep in my soul listening to some of my favorite songs and yet…YET…I found myself freaking out over whether I was having TOO much fun for a 40yo.

So…I’m dumping this here. I’m unloading all of that embarrassment and shame here so I can let go of it and maybe just carry the amazing joy I had yesterday, starting out running through the woods with my friends, and ending with one of the most perfect musical performances I’ve ever attended. THERE WERE FIREWORKS DURING CLOSER TO FINE, Y’ALL.