Monthly Archives: July 2016

Mom Camp Day 24:Harry Potter World Here We Come

We made it to Universal’s Harry Potter World.  With rooms at the Hilton across the street, we had a taste of the park from the minute we checked it.

If you purchase your tickets online you can enter the park 1 hour early and enjoy Harry Potter World without as many crowds.  Unfortunately, this meant we had to wake up at 6:15 to make it to the park for the 7am opening.


It was 100% worth it. Cinco does not like rides.  So, The Princess and I headed straight to the Forbidden Journey ride while Queen Gram took him around the park. The Princess and I virtually walked onto the ride. Later in the day the wait was more than 90 minutes.

img_3921The ride was amazing.  Half the fun is walking through the Hogwarts castle and looking at the all the details that are brought to life from the movie.  For example, the talking sorting hat.  I LOVED the moving and talking painting that were hung throughout the castle.  The best of course was the famous fat lady. 

I also thought the ride was great, as did The Princess.  In fact, she loved it so much we went back to ride it a second time later in the evening.

Next The Princess and I hit the Flight of the Hippograph  ride.  Not nearly as exciting as the Forbidden Journey.   But it is meant to be a ride that younger children and can also do.

img_3920After the rides, Queen Gram spoiled the kids by purchasing each one of them a wand at Olivander’s Wand Shop.  After that we he had to walk the park and practice our magic with the newly acquired wands.  Universal created stations around Harry Potter World where the wands are interactive and the kids stopped boiling cauldrons, made plates of tea cake spin and performed several other “charms”.

We also tried the famous “Butter Beer”. The kids loved it.  I gave it a so-so and Queen Gram thought it tasted horribly sweet.

The next stop was the candy shop.  Each child got one chocolate frog.  I figured the frogs were hollow like chocolate bunnies at Easter.  Oh no sir.  These were full on giant hunks of milk chocolate complete with wizard collector cards.

img_3927Once we had our fill it was time to do the Minion ride.  But before we got in line for the ride, Cinco and The Princess wanted to try their luck and/or skill at carnival game.  Now, I hate carnival games.  These things are money sucking, time wasters at any amusement park and NO ONE should ever play them as far as I am concerned.  But the kids had their spending money from their allowance and wanted to go for it.  They each decided to spend $5 on the game.  And, THEY ACTUALLY BOTH WON and WON BIG toys not the wimpy little ones.

Then I decided perhaps everyone who played won.  So while Queen Gram took them on the Minion ride, I watched the game.  Several people came by to play, and only one boy won a small key chain sized Minion toy. Crazy!

The backstage Studio Tour was next.  It has changed a lot since the days when I was a kid and took the ride.  I am exactly sure Cinco and The Princess liked it very much.  But when you go to Universal you sort of have to do the Studio Tour, right?

img_3932After all that it was only 1:30 in the afternoon.  We grabbed lunch and mom decided it was time for a nap.  Of course, I was the only one who actually took a nap.  The kids played in their rooms and watched a movie.

When evening struck The Princess just couldn’t get enough of the park.  Cinco stayed with Queen Gram while The Princess and I went back in.  We managed to ride the Harry Potter ride, one more time, as well as the Simpson’s ride and we watched Shrek 4-D all in about 90 minutes.  In the end, The Princess opened the park at 7am and closed it down at 10pm!  I’d say she got her monies worth.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books

The Hogwarts Express: Mom Camp Day 23

How do keep kids entertained on the drive from Las Vegas to LA to visit Harry Potter world?

We started with printable tickets from for the Hogwarts Express. The fun thing about their printable is that its a one-way ticket to the World of Harry Potter in Universal.

Once in the card we started on the audio version of . I also cheated and purchased the digital version of the movie for book 2 and loaded on to the kid’s kindles.

I also got them each one of the trendy Harry Potter coloring books for the car: and ..

When we got to the hotel, it was time to go swimming and release all the energy built up on the long car ride.

At dinner we played a game draw your own Harry Potter character on the placemats.  Cinco was the judge and awarded ‘points’ towards the house cup based on our artistic skills. After dinner, we played a game of .

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Mom Camp 2016, Travel with kids

Mom Camp Day 22:  Monsters, Wands and Quidditch


Today’s challenge was creating craft copies of a few of the props from Harry Potter: The Book of Monsters and Wands, plus a quidditch field.

We decided to tackle the Book of Monsters first.  This involved a trip to Hobby Lobby strolling through the aisles looking for the raw materials.  As always, glue gun sticks were at the top of the list.  We decided on faux fur, google eyes and two small hard cover unlined note books.

Cinco choose the traditional dark brown fur while The Princess went with the skunk like faux fur.  She tried to talk me into purchasing real rabbit fur but I politely declined.  They also choose different notebooks, Cinco’s had an elastic band that secured the book closed.

Cinco’s notebook required us to cut his piece of faux fur.  We added a darker strip of brown fur to the binding.  Then we cut the light brown fur into one large piece that covered the top of the book.  On the bottom of the book we hot glued a medium piece and then a separate smaller light brown piece, leaving a very small gap for the elastic closure.

The Princess’ notebook was much easier.  We simply glue gunned the skunk fur to the book.  Easy as pie.  One thing I did discover is that it is better to glue the top and bottom
first and THEN glue the edge.


img_3864Next we needed the embellishments to finish off the look. We added the google eyes to both books and used some creepy colored eyes to make the monster look a little nastier.

For Cinco’s book we glued two ivory colored oblong beads inside the cover of the sketch book.  To secure the fangs, we glued the first page of the book to the hardcover and horizontally sandwiched the beads between them.  That way, the teeth really stuck out.

The Princess wanted to use two smaller dark brown beads. We glued them to the underside of the cover as well. sadly, they were both smaller and glued vertically.We had a bit of extra dark brown fur so we decided to make Monster Bookmarks too.  Out came the google eyes, bead fangs and we added a red felt tongue to complete the look!


The next activity included making mini-wands.  Scout (my co-girl scout leader) made fantastic wands for her son’s birthday using wooden poles, A GLUE GUN and paint.  Both Cinco and The Princess still have the wands from the party so it didn’t make sense to simply copy her and do the same thing.  We changed it ever-so-slightly by making mini-wands.
img_3878Using Scout’s glue gun technic we created a few wands and then went to work painting them.  We got out a few wild paint colors to have a little fun decorating them. Some them had a base color and then we painted the glue a second color. Others were fully one color.  Cinco also decided that he wanted to add beads to the bottom of the wands to make it look like a handle.

img_3877But, the coolest part was the glow-in-the-dark glue sticks I purchased for the glue gun.  We used the glow-in-the-dark glue on two wands and they looked thrilling in the dark.
img_3879Our final project of the day was a papercraft I found online to make your own Quidditch Field. You can also find templated to build your own Hogwarts, but honestly we weren’t that ambitious.  We did add the quidditch hoops, which we fashioned out of foil.
After three crafts, we decided to call it a day.



Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2016

Making Magic: Mom Camp Day 21

It’s time to focus on our Harry Potter Days! We are getting ready for a trip to Universal Studio in LA and had to emerce ourselves in all things Potter.

Reading (or re-reading for some of us) was a no brainier.  Cinco read book onewhile all of us listened to the audio version as we drove around town doing chores and driving to and from places like the Eiffel Tower.

Our first craft was an adorable origami ‘sorting hat’ game on get away today’s website.  It’s an old school cootie catcher or fortune teller that has been revamped to help you find your proper Hogwarts House.  I got Slitheryn.

The Princess also led a potions class in the kitchen.  She added water, peppermint tea leaves, cumin, vinegar and heaven only knows what to her cauldron.

We also made our own mini broomsticks from string and straw. img_3881

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Mom Camp 2016

Bastille Day Part II: aka Mom Camp Day 20

The celebration of Bastille Day continued with a day dedicated to France’s iconic Effiel Tower.

As part of this project we crated our own towers. We started with two dimensional towers made of straws and pasted to card stock.

The Princess added a cute little sun.

Cinco’s Tower

I really liked the less technical and more artistic version of the tower created by Cinco.

Then we decide to try a few 3D versions of straw towers.

Again we consulted YouTube and watched a few quick videos on the Effiel Tower. We learned a that the tower was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

Then it was time for a trip to the Las Vegas Effiel Tower at the Paris Hotel. After a trip to the top and a chance to see the Bellaggio water show with a bird’s eye view, we stopped for a little cream treat!


Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2016

It’s Bastille Day, Baby! Mom Camp Day 19

In honor of France’s Bastille Day Mom Camp decided to revisit one of our original themes: Bastille Day. *

We began with a few worksheets from one of my favorite Mom Camp sites: The one featured above is a cute and simple guide to the location of various French land marks.

The Princess and I walked in the footsteps of Marie Antoinette and made some French inspired jewlry.  I found these little charms at Michael’s and decided they would be perfect for a little Bastille Day jewlery making.

We created a lovely necklace using the colors of the French flag.  The red and blue peals were for the colors in the flag representing the revolutionaries.  Instead of Burbon white, we substituted a silver pearl.

We also decided to watch a few cartoons on the French Revolution on YouTube.

This one was only about 3 minutes. The other was a clip from an old cartoon called Histria. The kids really enjoyed this one and went one to watch a second one on the heroes of France. It even includes Joan of Arc.

To round out the day we played  .   Basically, you are the executioner during the French Revolution and you need to collect noble’s heads.  Different nobles are worth different points and the person with the most points at the end of the game wins.  The Princess really took to game.  I suspect because she is always trying to collect the queen.

*nb: When one has been doing Mom Camp for 6 years some times we need to recycle ideas.  Lol

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2016

Mom Camp Day 18: 4th of July Fun

In preparation for the 4th of July, we did a few crafts, played some games and took a swim.

Our first activity was a silly quiz to see which founding father you are. I got George Washington.  The kids each took the quiz and they both got Roger Sherman.  Now, I can’t say I know alloys founding fathers. But, growing up in Connecticut I actually knew who he was and gave the kids a long explain action on the important of his role at the Constitutional Convention. He was responsible for the Connecticut compromise and is the reason we have a Senate and a House of Representatives.

Next we went to work on a shortbread version of the White House from Trader Joe’s.  When we opened the package it smelled great.. Sadly it didn’t taste quite as good as it smelled.  I know, I know you don’t actually eat the cookie kits but you can’t blame us for a having a little nibble.

The frosting in the kit worked great and held the pieces together well.  The only issue we had with the kit were the columns. You have to brake them apart and in the process we cracked 4 out of 8.  Two columns we pieced back together with some of the icing and two of them were beyond repair and we ate them!

Then I had kiddos play and online educational video game.  They both declared it was borrng and quickly walked away from it.

We closed out the day with family movie night and

Both kids enjoyed the movie.  Thank heaven it wasn’t another Titanic disaster.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2016