Welcome, Harry.

sistersharryYou read that right. Harry. As in Potter.

My sister and her fabulous family just came out to visit, with the intent for us to take the kids (sans Ella) to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Hollywood. I must note, in case you’re misled by my expression above, that I am not a fan of theme parks – but I AM a fan of my sister and her family (and my husband is a fan of being a good father and taking our children to theme parks).

And so, off to the Wizarding World we went.

We had just one problem: Zoe didn’t really know who Harry Potter was. She knew “of” him, but had never seen the movie, and so the weekend before their arrival, we welcomed Harry Potter into the family.

I checked out Common Sense Media to see how old one “should be” to watch the movie. For the first movie, 7+ years old. Close enough. A GOOD parent would have watched the movie again, to prepare for questions and identify the rough spots, but we didn’t have that sort of time… (and we’re not that great of parents).

Worse? We had a little Ella problem – what Zoe watches, Ella wants to watch, but I seemed to remember that when Zoe was little (until a certain age), she wasn’t really “watching” what was on in the room, she was too busy. Just as Ella is now.

Not true this time around. Though Ella appeared to be oblivious of the Harry Potter in the background, as we watched the first 30 minutes then paused for a while. About an hour later, she started talking about ghosts. “Scary ghosts.” Oops?

What I also remember about Zoe was that when she was little, if she watched something even KIND OF scary, she wouldn’t get scared during the day, but we’d sure hear about it in the middle of the night as it came out in her dreams. We did not want to repeat that. So next round (to finish the movie), Ella was not watching – and Zoe was not scared, and we have ourselves a Gryffindor wizard. See our little Potter with her official Harry Potter wand in her official Gryffindor “Harry Potter” quidditch shirt:


Zoe and her cousins, Sophie and Spencer, had a great time at Hogsmeade, the recreated world of Harry Potter, filled with shops (wands, clothes, owls, you name it), and my sister’s favorite spot: BUTTER BEER.


Before you get excited, it’s not beer at all. In fact, it tastes remarkably like a memory from our childhood: Fresh Snow flavored with Vanilla Extract. Yes, my sweet mother made that for us every time it snowed (which was once a year and approximately an inch).

That whole place (and I mean Universal Studios) is FILLED WITH SUGAR. Donuts, ice cream, cotton candy, more. And needless to say, Zoe ended up with a tummy ache. I wonder why?

In contrast, my husband found ACTUAL beer in Hogsmeade, and over the long weekend, we found Pokemon Go. See the two combined here below:


The one in the picture that’s not my husband is a Mankey (and that’s a Poké Ball at the bottom), and yes, I got him.

Overall, we had a blast while the Lieth family was here:

  • Lots of family time, including some joyous hours in the blowup pool in the backyard (thanks, Costco) and a BBQ with Bart’s sister and her family (thanks, Andrea, Ben and Signe!)
  • An adult night out to see Sting and Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl (where Bart and Frank saw Bradley Cooper, which is completely unfair)
  • A mostly kids event to see The Secret Life of Pets, which was cute but if you’ve seen the preview, you’ve seen it. Who cares? POPCORN.

Anyway, it was great. Family time is important, and it’s when you have them around that you wish they were closer…  Here are some more pictures to memorialize the event – and yes, that’s a “White House” cookie kit made by the kids at the end. And that’s what Shawn and I were doing at the Sting concert (taking bad selfies) while Bart and Frank saw Bradley Cooper… ;)





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