This one goes to eleven

Fall of 2016, when we were immersed in the series, the kids asked a babysitter if she’d ever read Harry Potter. She told them she grew up on it, and then she said, “I was so disappointed when I turned 11 and I didn’t get my letter.” And right there, she gave me just about the best idea I’ve ever had, to be followed up on 18 months later. Thanks, Darcy!

Fast forward to this past week. Two days before Lucy’s birthday, I made a cake and decorated it to look like an owl. I did this right in front of Dash and Lucy, and neither one of them asked who it was for or why I was making it. This is why it’s very easy to pull off surprises with my kids. Making an owl cake was also surprisingly easy. I made a sheet cake and cut away the edges until it sufficiently resembled an owl. Then I covered it with ganache, used crushed chocolate chips and orange candy melts for the feathers, a triangle of cake scrap for the beak, and two Thin Mint eyes. Boom, owl cake!

owl cake
Putting the bake in readrunbake, for once.

Hours later, this letter was mysteriously delivered by the owl:

hogwarts letter
Rich found the seal and font online. Thanks boo!

Dear Miss Lucy Green,

As you know, we at Hogwarts are not able to train muggles at this time. However, there are a very select few who we feel should be celebrated among wizards on the occasion of their eleventh birthday. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I invite you to come to Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, the 26th of February, 2018. Please see your parents for further details.

You surely have the packing list memorized by now.

Yours sincerely,

Professor McGonagall.

Lucy letter
She was just a tad excited.

Lucy had excellent timing being born at the end of February. It was perfect weather in Florida, Universal Studios wasn’t crowded at all, AND we had gotten to that point of another dumb Seattle winter where we were just so. over. it. We got together with our friend Bill who lives there, and he confirmed that we couldn’t have had better timing. A month earlier would have been cold, a month later it would be too hot and crowded for pretty much the rest of the year. But we had 85 degree weather and the longest we waited for a ride the whole time we were there was maybe 15 minutes. So, pro tip, go midweek at the end of February if you want perfection.

We did a flight/hotel/park admission package through the website and it was extremely reasonable. I wish we had taken pictures of our hotel, because it was adorable. Sort of a retro space age look, it was like being on The Jetsons. If you are planning a trip, I loved this hotel, and they have a nice garden path to the theme parks if you like skipping crowded shuttles. They also very conveniently have their own entrance to the water park, although they don’t do a great job advertising it or having any signage for it; if you stay there and want to hit Volcano Bay, just ask someone where the special entrance is. It’s super convenient, but you will not find it on your own.

cabana bay
Oh look, I can google image search. God this place was cute.

I am not great about taking pictures on trips in general, but I got the important stuff. Like:

Lucy citywalk
Lucy in front of the chocolate place on her actual birthday.
ice cream
The awesome awesome ice cream place that we went to every day.
The hotel arcade had Injustice, Dash’s favorite thing in the entire world.
sleep injustice
Dash clutching an Injustice card in his sleep. Seriously, he has no greater love.
sibling love
Some sibling love.
all of us
And a rare picture of all of us together. Thanks Bill!

This was the most fun trip I’ve ever been on, and I hope my kids remember it forever. If you go, make sure you do the Simpsons ride, because you haven’t lived until you’ve been a pacifier in Maggie’s mouth. Happy birthday Lucy!