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Australia ’19 – Sydney

Our next stop was Sydney, but we drove from Melbourne to Nat’s in Canberra.  We ended up stopping at the same rest stop with a Macca’s as last time – and they still had the McSpider on the ice cream machine that I tried and failed to get a photo of last time.    We also ended up stopping somewhere so I could get my photo taken with giant Ram balls… When in Australia?

The next morning we drove to Sydney, stopped off at our apartment and went out exploring a bit.  We went to Darling Harbour to the Hard Rock Sydney to eat and then wandered around a bit before going back to get ready for that night’s show at the opera house!  We got a photo on the steps of all the fans there that we could gather up.

It was amazing to see a show in the opera house!! The sound was amazing, though they did seem to flub up I Was Born a little bit, but were able to recover.  The guys parents were 2 rows in front of us, so I caught myself sneaking glimpses of them here and there to see their reaction to things – they just looked so proud!

The second day in Sydney we did a ferry harbour cruise to see the opera house from as many angles as we could.  Turns out we bought the wrong tickets and almost ended up with a $250 fine but the guy ended up just letting us through. (We were also willing to pay the difference for the right ticket but he said we didn’t have to do that either!)

Continuing my tradition of going up tall buildings – we went up the Sydney Tower where a random dude jumped into our photos and he only has 1 arm (in the photo) and it became the funniest thing ever.  The elevator had a spot to “smile and wave” but it was always empty.  Maybe you could see the other elevators when they had people in them? I don’t know.  We went to pick up some food and drinks where I got a raspberry beer to try (ended up being too sour).

We got dressed and headed back to the opera house for round two – we ate there – where I was given no silverware and a seagull came by and ate our french fries.  For this show Nat did a crown braid – the hair style I had been growing my hair out and waiting for!

After the show the guys ended up doing an encore of Too Much Heaven acapalla with no mics that was absolutely amazing!!

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Australia ’19 – Melbourne

We ended up driving past the Melbourne Zoo where the shows were being held to see how the line was doing in the heat (it was 102 degrees at one point) and found out they were giving out tickets with numbers so we grabbed some and then headed to the apartment to hang out before we needed to be back at the Zoo for the concert.   I was trying so hard not to sleep so I could try to switch over to Australia time but there were moments when I just wanted to nap (but knew I’d never wake up if I did and would throw everything off.)  The first night we ended up in the front row and it was your basic rock set from the guys.  It was hot, hot, hot and it rained a bit as well.

The next day in Melbourne we opted to visit the Zoo thinking we’d catch a glimpse of soundcheck, but they were on to us and didn’t do anything until the Zoo had to clear out for the evening.  I was able to get some pressed pennies at the Zoo and we saw some butterflies, elephants and an orangutan that ran away once we walked in the room.  We ended up calling Uber Eats for burritos before we went in side but had such drama with security we weren’t even hungry once we got in.  Basically security told us we could go up first – even though that’s not how things worked the night before.  Then we got kicked out and then we were told we couldn’t go the way we did and then everyone else was being let in and then they told us we could go where we were and AHHHH.  Long story short we still ended up in a decent spot but the drama was not needed.  Nat ended up talking to head of security who wanted her to tell people not to block the gate after the show waiting for the guys (we weren’t in that mess the night before so I could sleep) and she jokingly told him to stick the dumb security guard out there tonight – and long story short – we cracked up when we got outside and who was guarding the gate? haha.

The second Zoo show they mixed up the setlist and also had more tech issues than I had ever seen in a show.  It kind of made it feel like BTTI because they were making up songs about Koalas and Wombats while their tech was crawling under Taylor’s piano to try and fix things.   And at one point they were ready to start a song and Isaac said, “not yet fellas”, always kind of nice to see that they are real and not robots since they are usually so “on”, on stage.

At the end of the show Taylor ended up making quite an effort to grab my hand. Everyone got a kick out of that.  We did wait outside – which led to the great Aluminium va Aluminum debate that continued on for the rest of the trip.  All we saw were the guys drive off in their van though, they didn’t stop or come out for photos/autographs.

Then it was time to get some sleep and head off to Canberra for the night!

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Australia ’19 – Travel There

After missing my flight to Sydney on my last trip to Australia and losing a day, this trip I decided to book a crazy layover instead to ensure that I made it.  I had a 6am-10am flight from Hartford to Dallas – where I had to attempt to buy NPH tickets for his book talk while in the sky. (Turns out they did sell out but not nearly as quickly as I thought, so I had plenty of time to buy them once I landed but had I waited they would have sold out in 5 minutes I am sure.)

When I landed, everyone at the airport thought I was nuts because I had a 10 hour layover.  I supposed I could have found something to do in Dallas for most of that time but didn’t want to risk anything so I was dropped off at the gate where I’d be departing for Sydney and sat by an outlet. I read 3 books (the only books I read the whole trip, so much for bringing my Kindle along) and found a nearby sit-down Mexican restaurant for lunch/dinner/whatever.

Finally it was time to board to Sydney and we were told that the flight time was going to end up being 15 hours and 55 minutes instead of 17 hours and 10 minutes.  Everyone cheered as if that made a HUGE difference in the massive flight we had ahead of us.  They boarded us 30 minutes late so that we wouldn’t end up landing in Sydney before 6am because they had a ban on landing before then and we didn’t want to circle either.

When I got on board, I started watching Bohemian Rhapsody, but fell asleep about half way in.  Later in the flight I woke up and watched the rest although I am sure there are parts I missed from being in and out of consciousness.  This led to me having Queen songs stuck in my head for the majority of the trip, but I’m not complaining.  There also was no one in the seat in the middle of my row, which made spreading out for me and the girl next to the window a lot easier and more comfortable. (I opted for Economy versus Premium Economy this trip to save some money and it worked out much better than the last trip and for about 1/3 of the cost.)

When we got off the plane, I had to wait for a wheelchair and then was told it would be a 30 minute wait for a chair to take me to my departing gate – but my flight was going to be taking off in about 20 minutes.  I was able to “cut” the customs line with a group of other disabled ladies that had just gotten off the plane and was taking a bus from the international terminal to the domestic with about 5 minutes before boarding was set to begin.  Of course, the furthest gate ever was where I needed to hustle to.  The signs all said to get to the gate and were blinking but when I got there – no one was boarding yet. PHEW.  I took a seat and attempted to get a WiFi connection to let me friend Nat know I had made it to Australia and would be seeing her soon – but couldn’t connect.  Nearly as soon as I sat they said the engineer had arrived (me?! lol) and they could board us.  My ticket was from the US so the gate agent asked where I had come from and I said the States – she asked if I could beat Florida and I said – yes I was from north of florida.  She ended up also being a flight attendant and gave me a pillow for the flight since I had traveled so far!

Finally we landed in Melbourne and I headed to baggage claim.  Again, the WiFi wasn’t connecting and I was hoping this would not be a theme for the trip (I am addicted to my phone.) but I ended up finding Nat, Shiree and Tiffany without WiFi and we grabbed my bag and headed to the apartment we’d be staying in for the next couple of days.  They weren’t ready for us yet so we went shopping at Coles – not to be confused with Kohls in the US – for some snacks and things for the apartment.

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Book Review: Make Music!

This book is a lot of fun and full of a bunch of ways you can make music.  The first chapter is all about Body Music – Clapping your hands, filling your cheeks full of air and patting them, using your voice! (And my least favorite, whistling) The next chapter is all about making instruments out of things that you can find around the house – bowls, pots, pans, etc. Who knew you had a whole orchestra right in your house? The 3rd chapter is all about Breath music – making tones by vibrating the air – making a kazoo out of a comb, making homemade flutes, etc.  Then we move on to strings! There are instructions on how to make a guitar out of a cereal box (and some other supplies you probably have around the house).   Instruments from the workshop are more indepth instruments that probably need some help from adults to make.  These all seemed to be a bit over my head!  The last chapter talks all about creating music and how you can make musical scores.  This book has a ton of great ideas and definitely fun things to do on a rainy (or snowy!) day.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book will be released April 30, 2019 from Storey Publishing.

About the book

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Non-Disney Disney Trip

A couple weeks ago I decided to take a random trip to Orlando/Disney without doing any of the parks.  When Disney announced they were doing a special Snow White character meals, I ended up booking 4 dates in hopes that I could make one of them work with the abundance of Southwest credits I had amassed due to me canceling flights / finding that prices had dropped / etc.  I had enough to get to Orlando round trip (and *still* have some left over that I may lose if I can’t plan a trip before the end of June!)

I took a 5am flight out of Hartford, landed in Orlando at 8am, and had a ton of time to kill before being able to check into my hotel at 3pm.  I ended up heading over to Disney Springs, getting myself a Sprinkles Cupcake and then heading to pandora for my first bracelet (and 2 Snow White related charms) since I had some charms from Australia and no bracelet! I then headed to the Outlets to see what Disney stuff was there – but it was a total mad house and that didn’t last long.

Later that night I knew that Joey Fatone’s “Fat One” hot dog truck would be at a food truck festival, so I decided I had to go check out the new menu.  A couple days before I left for my trip the Fat One’s twitter tweeted about “You’ll never know who might show up” so I figured that Joey himself may be there – and sure enough he was!  Loved the new menu – I have tried 3 of the hot dog types now and have yet to be disappointed.

The next day my uncle picked me up for lunch and took me to CityWalk where we went to Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium –  I had wanted to go my last couple of visits but it just never worked out.  The meal was great as was the shake – once I realized that my straw was not working because the bottom of it was stuffed with Rice Krispies Treat.

Later that night my cousin picked me up and we headed to Artist Pointe for dinner with Snow White!  I thought that it was a really great character meal (though I have not done all that many as an adult and they terrified me as a child)  Snow White, Dopey and Grumpy come around to the table and when you are finished with your meal you get to go approach The Evil Queen.  She told me that my purple cane was a good choice and she was going to teach me to be stoic because I should know, smiling causes wrinkles!  There was a 3 course meal – appetizers, the main course and dessert.  Definitely too much food, but it all was pretty good (with the exception of a few way too salty bites of my prime rib. But the mashed potatoes were fantastic)

The next day I met up with a friend and her family to meet her new little one at the T-Rex Cafe at Disney Springs.  It was similar to the rainforest cafe, but dino themed and we ended up sitting in a Triceratops – my favorite! I was nervous about making it to the airport in time for my flight – only to have woken up to find it had been delayed nearly 2 hours.  So much for getting home at a decent hour!  (At least I didn’t pick the 11pm flight and have that one end up delayed on me.)  The flight time kept fluctuating but it looked like the plane that was supposed to become our flight wasn’t going to land until 5:50 so I knew we couldn’t take off before that! (Initially we were supposed to take off at 5:24pm)  I am not sure if it was a shuffle due to the MAX-8s being grounded or just something else entirely – but made it home safely so the details don’t really matter.

It was a nice more relaxing Orlando trip without the ‘go go go!’ of getting up early, staying out late, and exhausting yourself at the parks!  Although I am sure I will be making a park trip again sometime soon 🙂

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Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods – Mohegan Sun

This weekend Justin had back-to-back shows at the Mohegan Sun Arena.  These shows were originally scheduled for December 2018, but since Justin was dealing with some vocal issues they were postponed and ended up being the last 2 shows of the tour.

The setlist for each night was the same, but I had mirrored seats for each night so that was kind of cool and totally made for a different show for me each night. Night 1 the main stage was blocked by a freaking tree a lot of the time when Justin was dead center so that was obnoxious. Night 2 I thought I was safe, but there was a camera blocking me here and there.  I really wouldn’t have cared about the “obstruction” if the tickets weren’t $400+ a piece – face value.

The first night Justin took some time to look at signs  – which apparently the arena got in trouble for so there was no outright mention of signs the 2nd night.  There was a sign that someone got a speeding ticket on the way there and Justin said he was glad she was safe – but wasn’t going to say how fast she was going.  Someone else mentioned that they had just had a baby 6 days ago so Justin asked if the baby was there. (It was not)  A lot of people with pregnancy announcements.

It took me until night 2 to really appreciate the show. It may have been because the first night he opened with his 6 dancers behind him which just made me miss NSYNC and by the 2nd night I was over that and could just enjoy it for the great performance that it was.  The stage goes across the whole length of the arena which really allowed pretty much everyone to be “close” at some point.  I was more near the center bar area each night but he split his time fairly evenly, I thought.

After the last show… he was saying thank you and said “I’m probably never doing this again”  What “this” is – we aren’t sure.  Play shows in Connecticut? Tour? Record music? Do a large scale tour? Be a solo artist? (Wishful thinking)  It kind of took the air out of the balloon… I guess what he meant will be found out in time…

Justin Timberlake Setlist Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT, USA 2019, Man of the Woods

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2Cellos at Mohegan Sun

When Jon McLaughlin announced that he was going to be opening for 2Cellos and that their tour would be coming to Mohegan Sun, I immediately started looking for tickets. It had already been on sale, so all my favorite spots seemed to be taken.  A friend ended up snagging a free pair of tickets for us and for the low, low price of free, I’ll sit almost anywhere.  We had a decent spot in the back of the arena.  Jon opened and did 6 songs and seemed to win over the crowd a lot, everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun with the call and response he did in his songs.  After his set he announced he’d be signing autographs so we headed over to say hi.

When we got back to our seats, 2Cellos was already on their 2nd song.  I had no idea anything about 2Cellos before this show and didn’t at all know what to expect.  I have to say, it was one of the weirdest shows I have ever been to, but was definitely enjoyable.  There are 2 cellos on stage and that’s it (except for when a drummer joins them) and they play a lot of songs you will probably recognize.  One of them spoke only once while the other seemed to speak more – but said “This next song… is beautiful… and romantic…” before every song he introduced. It was comical.  Towards the end, things really picked up and one of them was even playing cello while walking through the crowd with it strapped to him and while spinning around in circles on his back on the stage.  They also tried to get some sing a longs going – especially the “Why Why?” in Human Nature and a lot towards the end when they did Highway to Hell and I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.

I’m really glad I ended up going, had Jon not been opening I wouldn’t have even thought about going to this show – it was amazing how I had never heard of these guys yet they had a jam packed arena crowd on their feet and totally into their performance. Usually they say to pay attention to the openers but sometimes the openers (from 12 years ago) become one of your favorites and then end up opening you up to a whole new world with a headliner!

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Book Review: My Cat Looks Like My Dad

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with a book called “My Cat Looks Like My Dad” but the Dad kind of reminded me of my Dad (though we have never had a cat) so I had to give it a go.  In addition to this author’s Dad looking like their cat and vice versa, they also seem to have a lot of other things in common – like what they like to eat and drink and how they spend their day!  While the story may be a bit on the stranger side, the illustrations were a lot of fun to look at.  They looked like they may have been made of paper piecing and some really, really cool patterned paper at that. (The Dad’s outfits are really retro and fun!)  I really ended up enjoying this book a lot.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book will be published April 15 from Owlkids Books.

About the Book

New from the creator of Wallpaper and Skunk on a String comes a witty and uplifting picture book that will speak to families of all varieties about how family really is what you make it.

Minimal text paired with bright paper-collage illustrations create comparisons on each spread in which the narrator talks about their family—especially the striking similarities between Dad and the cat. Both have orange hair, love milk, start their days with stretches, appreciate a good nap, and are brave (some of the time). The narrator is more like Mom, with wild hair, blue eyes, and a love of dancing.

A surprising twist at the end reveals the narrator’s unexpected identity, also hinted at with clues in the art throughout the book. Warmth and whimsy in the illustrations add a playful balance to the story’s deeper message about the love that makes a family a unit, no matter how unusual it may look from the outside.

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Book Review: Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk

Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk is all about taking a beach adventure! It starts out with suggesting things you should bring in your backpack – like this book and something to write with, some toys, sunscreen, etc.  The back of the book has 12 stickers that look like patches so when you find something at the beach that matches one of the “I See It!” stickers, you can stick it in the book!  There are tips for going to the beach and some fun games you can play at the beach.  As someone who grew up near the beach, I always kind of took it for granted and never looked for any of these fun items. Maybe I’ll have to go on an adventure this summer and make up for lost time!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. This book will be released April 16 from Storey Publishing.

About the Book

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NPH at RJ Julia

Wednesday April 3, Neil Patrick Harris did an event with RJ Julia to talk about his book series, The Magic Misfits.  Tickets went on sale while I was flying from Hartford to Dallas for the first leg of my trip to Australia – so I bought wifi when I got on the plane, took a nap (6am flight – naps are needed) and set my alarm for 9:50am as tickets were set to go on sale “around 10am”.  I had everything on alert to get notified when the link went up – only to have it not work initially.  As we began making our descent into Dallas, I finally snagged a ticket.  I had no idea how quickly it would sell out (but I knew it would sell out) so desperate times called for desperate measures.  Turns out I did have time to wait and could have snagged it during my layover – but if I didn’t try to buy it from the sky I am sure it would have ended up sold out on me.

Wednesday finally came and we got there about an hour before doors to find maybe 10 people in line in front of us?  As time to enter neared, staff from the bookstore said he was running “Very, very, very late” and we could not be let inside until he arrived as we were supposed to pick up our signed books as we entered.  As these are kids books, a lot of children were present and were definitely getting restless as time went on.  We finally ended up let inside, where we waited for the books NPH was off signing somewhere to be delivered in groups.  We snagged seats in the 3rd row center and had a great view.

Around 7:30 the event started.  NPH walked out and put his phone on the table next to him, only for it to fall off.  He then realized the table had a curve to the end of it and did it a few more times as it was amusing him.  He talked about his love for magic, how the books originally were going to be picture books but he ended up writing them for a bit older kids instead, how some of the characters are based on people he knows and he was just overall very amusing and knowledgeable and a lot of fun to listen to.  Then they opened the floor up for questions – but the questions all came from the kids and I thought that they were GREAT questions I never would have thought of on my own.  “Who is your favorite character and what did they do that made them your favorite?”  “How did you name the characters?”  I am pretty sure if NPH had all the time in the world, he would have stayed there all night answering these kids questions and he just seemed so impressed that they were reading and raising their hands and asking.  (He did tell a story about how his kids don’t like to raise their hands in class and he told them that even if they don’t know the answer to raise their hang because that is how you learn.)

After the talk they picked 5 raffle tickets to get their books personalized by NPH.  Unfortunately we weren’t chosen! But it was a fun night all the same and I am looking forward to finding the time to read the books! (#3 comes out in September!)

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