Hogwarts Express Train Harry Potter

Falling in Love with the Boy Who Lived

Most of us know who that boy is and all about his adventures at a school we can’t decide if we’d actually want to go to. It’s so ingrained in our collective culture by now that even if you haven’t been sorted into a house, you know something about J.K. Rowling’s marvelous world of wizards and magical creatures. It’s a powerful responsibility to usher another generation into Harry’s world. Miss O was a little young for Hogwarts when she was first introduced to Harry Potter, but she dove in deep and hasn’t looked back yet.

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Closed sign store

Closing Time

Here at the Jackpot, we’re used to getting this close to something, only to have it ripped away just as our fingers are about to touch it. When Miss O fell in love with American Girl dolls, I wanted her to have the whole American Girl store experience, complete with Bistro visit, doll salon trip and everything. We’ve had a run of good luck lately, mostly due to intense planning and severe financial discipline, so I felt confident I could lavish something ridiculous on my daughter for her birthday. Fortunately, we live a short drive from the only American Girl store in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, shortly after we decided Miss O would get a new doll for her seventh birthday, we found out that store would close in three short weeks, a full five months shy of Miss O’s birthday.

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Sad depressed depression bored

Disney Depression

After we returned from our first family trip to Disney World, I understood why people love it so much they go back year after year. If you’re enjoying your trip as much as we did, you get this indescribable joy. We were positively giddy for days and everything was new, even though Hubs and I had been there so many times before. It wasn’t until I tried to scan my magic band at Trader Joe’s almost a week after returning home that I realized how much I embraced that magic. The return to regular life suddenly seemed so mundane. A few months later it was downright depressing. I really didn’t think it would hit me that hard, but I definitely had been hit with Disney Depression.

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Walt Disney World Character Autographs Meet and Greet Princess Pocahontas Tiana Elena Ariel Mulan Elsa Tinker Bell

Collecting Autographs: Magic Kingdom Day 1

With our first character greeting at Animal Kingdom a complete success, I hoped our scheduled meet and greets in the Magic Kingdom would go equally well. I knew Miss O loved Minnie and Mickey, but I wasn’t sure she was over her uneasiness around costumed characters. I had FastPasses for both days in the park at Fairytale Hall and a park plan that included as many characters as I thought she’d want to see. What I wasn’t sure of were the lines, the weather and our patience holding out.

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Boston Common Massachusetts Christmas Lights

Celebrating Christmas in Boston

I find traditions sneak up on you. They’re not often planned, but happen without you realizing they’ve grown beyond a repeated event and become something anticipated or cherished. Some take longer than others to develop this status and others barely finish before you know they’re part of who you are. This was the way of our Christmas since moving to the Boston area 11 years ago.

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Radio City Music Hall Sign New York City NYC

Celebrating Christmas in New York City

Here at the Jackpot, we get to do some very special things every now and again. This Christmas season we were given one of those magical opportunities that make you pause and realize how lucky you are, even when it seems like things aren’t as great as they could be. This time, we were invited to see one of our friends perform in New York City and that friend just happens to be a Rockette.

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Walt Disney World Character Autographs Meet and Greet Princess Pocahontas Tiana Elena Ariel Mulan Elsa Tinker Bell

Collecting Autographs: Getting Started at Animal Kingdom

At six years old, Miss O was starting to grow out of her obsession with all things ruffly and sparkly, including her devotion to Disney Princesses. She could also still be terribly shy. With our first family trip to Disney coming up, I started to worry that she wouldn’t want to do any of the character meet and greets I scheduled during times when the rest of our group was thundering and splashing down mountains. I prepared myself not to get upset and not force her to do anything she really didn’t want to do. This trip was for her and my nephew, Mr. A, and while I was determined to honor that, I still hoped the Disney magic would find her for just a little longer.

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