This February the girls had their very first international meet in Orlando Florida! 


And since the meet happened to be only 10 minutes from Universal Studios, we decided to add a day of Family Fun at Universal Studios before heading home from Florida.


Our oldest son has read the entire Harry Potter series more than once as well as some of the “bonus books”  like Fantastical Beasts and Quidditch Through the Ages… child number two got into the Harry Potter phase this fall and is currently reading book 5.  Child number three read books 1-4 a a year or so ago… she stopped on book 5 b/c it got too scary for her liking.  I have read through 5 but it was many years ago and I am fuzzy on details.  So, we decided the whole family needed to listen to the audiobook for book 1 on our 13 hour ride down to Florida, since we were going to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Jim Dale does a FABULOUS job of narrating it. It got us all in the mood for a day of Harry Potter magic.  (We were captivated and ended up listening to all of book 2 and a large portion of book 3 on our ride home). 

We started in Diagon Alley and went straight to Gringotts Bank.


Then we went to King Cross Station and found Platform 9 3/4.


and we rode the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade!

20180217_102457 20180217_103233



It was so fun for us to see so many details from the book in real life! 



Even waiting in lines and exploring in shops was so fun!

20180217_122520 20180217_122356 20180217_124355

We had lunch at Three Broomsticks!


Then we set off to explore some of the other areas of Universal. 


The Superheroes were great fun!


They really took the time to talk to the kids.  Captain America was not happy to have our son tell him his favorite super hero was Falcon, but then he explained that it was b/c he loves animals and then he listened to him tell all about our pet animals. 


Rogue and Storm asked the girls if they were gymnasts.


Seuss Landing was a lot of fun… brought out my inner child and my inner elementary school teacher.



As evening approached we headed back to Hogsmeade for one more ride on Flight of the Hippogriff….

20180217_182332 20180217_182336 

When we got off we were in the perfect spot to wait for the evening light show at Hogwarts. 


What better way to pass the time waiting, then to enjoy a glass of the infamous butter beer!

20180217_184117 20180217_184348



Then we headed back to Diagon Alley… stopping to visit with the Knight Bus driver, and make a call to the Ministry of Magic.

20180217_194241   20180217_193637 

And since they alley was much less crowded in the evening, we all had a chance to use the wand for some magic of our own.



Before we left, we made time for a quick pic with their teammates and friends!


It was a super fun filled day!  The next day we set off for North Carolina and a quick visit with friends.  They define SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY.  And while we didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them, we made good use of the time we had…

20180219_075436 20180219_093535

The rest of the journey home flew by thanks to Jim Dale’s narration of Harry Potter Book 3.

Our final port of call was St Kitts.

. 20170726_101051

We didn’t really have a game plan for St Kitts.  All we knew was we wanted to find monkeys and a beach with some shells and snorkeling.  We found a taxi driver who could take us to both!




After getting a chance to hold the monkeys, we set off for the beach.



Here we enjoyed several hours of sand, sun, swimming, sea shells, and snorkeling.



20170103_223458A 20170103_223619A


They found Dory!


Everyone got to do what they wanted and we all had a wonderful day at St Kitts!


When we found out the itinerary for the family cruise, Scott and I were super excited to see that the ship would be stopping at St Thomas… this meant that we could take an excursion to St John and visit US Virgin Island National Park!!! 

That’s right, another vacation with a sign pic for the circus crew!!


National parks rarely disappoint and St. John was no exception.  St John was our family’s favorite day of the vacation (and there were a lot of good days)!


We even saw an iguana on St Thomas right when we got off the cruise ship…. you know your day is off to a great start, when you’re greeted by an iguana!

 DSC05987 DSC05991

The kids enjoyed it all, from the ferry ride over, to the van ride to the park.

20170725_105144 20170725_112234

The snorkeling there was fun and amazing… even better than we had even hoped.

  20170725_144455 20170106_185942A

    20170106_194257A 20170103_012622A

We saw so many beautiful fish and even an eel and a sting ray!  All 6 of us got to enjoy snorkeling.


I was so thankful for all the swim practice the kids had earlier this summer, because not once was I worried about them swimming out there. 

This brain coral impressed me!


And the “electric blue” looking fish was one of my favs.



The eel, is the leopard colored like thing you see hiding in the coral.


We got to try our hand at stand up paddle boarding, which has been something on my wish list for a while now.  The water was so clear.  When I jumped off the paddle board I thought I could touch b/c I could see the bottom so clearly, but quickly discovered I was in water way over my head. 

20170725_143758 20170103_000725A

Pop even did a little kayaking. 


Every single time my youngest saw a fish he would point and say “fish” through is snorkel.  It was really cute and there were a LOT of fish so it happened a lot.  In addition to snorkeling, our youngest had a fantastic time playing in the sand with his cousins.  


His favorite aspect of the day was “spending the whole day together with everyone.”


It was such a fun day with many precious memories.  I’d definitely go back and spend more time at St John if I had the opportunity.