Friday, December 24, 2010

The Art of Present Wrapping

As Christmas day draws closer, the number of hours spent wrapping gifts increases. "Santa's elves" are hard at work wih all those extremely last minute details, which include the wrapping of all the presents.

When faced with the challenge of intense-latest-possible-moment wrapping jobs, the hidden art of present wrapping is revealed. The huge mound of gifts just waiting to be dressed in colorful paper is seen as your iminent doom on Chistmas Eve. Suddenly, you start to worry that each child has an uneven amount of presents, or that you will run out of wrapping paper, gift boxes or bags at ten o'clock that night. Your faithful (...) husband willingly runs around town to retrieve extra gifts, more wrapping paper and lots more tape. Crazed and stressed Mother locks herself in her bedroom and burries herself with presents, wrapped and unwrapped.

Two hours into the wrapping session and you swear that the unwrapped pile is multiplying.

Three hours in and you call up said husband to pick up more stocking stuffers for Kiddo #2.

Four hours, and you're just about ready to give up on wrapping and set out all the presents as 'gifts from Santa'.

Five hours, and you realize that you haven't eaten since 8 A.M. this morning. You are suddenly plagued by fatigue and rush downstairs for food, only to find that the kids have destroyed the house, being unsupervised and given empty wrapping paper rolls.

Six hours, and finally, finally you are finished!

One of the most difficult parts of wrapping is the wrapping of oddly shaped boxes. How on earth are you supposed to wrap a box that has five corners, or is completely round? Of course, these boxes will not fit in a gift bag, so, we bring back the geometry lesson we were taught oh so long ago. Eventually, the box is covered wih paper... mostly....

And then, of course, you tuck the children safe in their beds and haul all the presents downstairs and arrange them aound the tree. Multiple times. Then, collapse into bed and wish desperately that said children will not wake you at the crack of dawn.

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!
~Charles Dickens

Friday, December 17, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Lately I've been doing a lot of movie reviews, but, as Christmas draws closer, more good movies release and my parents are more willing to take us to see them (we have yet to see Tangled, but we will probably see it in the next week or so). Today, I saw Voyage of the Dawn Treader and I LOVED it! (I will try not to give away too terribly much...) The only thing that really disappointed me was how far it was from the book. Normally, Disney movies, if based off a book, stay on the same major plot line as the book. I am currently in the process of reading Dawn Treader and from what I have read (I am about halfway into it for the first time- sad, I know...) there is nothing about seven swords of the seven lords...? Dawn Treader does mention the Seven Lords, but I do not recall their swords. Also, wasn't Eustace supposed to be turned back into a boy much earlier in the story? instead of at the very end? Anyway, the overall movie was great- though personally it would have been better with another Regina Spektor song at the end, but that's just my opinion... I will most definitely be seeing this movie again, multiple times, and hopefully with Katie, Megan, and Rachel after/before our little sewing party, where we will attempt (key word: attempt) to sew our own Winter Formal dresses because formal dresses these days are insanely short, especially for someone as tall as I am. Oh, wait, I'm getting off subject...

*Might I say that I typed this whole post like I wanted to kill each and every key on my keyboard? Apparently my laptop doesn't like me today and will randomly not accept keys- like just now, in this last sentence, it left out A, o, n, i, o, a, t, c, space, and e. It was getting quite frustrating. Just picture a crazy girl in pajamas with cutsie pigtails pounding at her laptop like a maniac. Yep, that's me.

Ah, I almost forgot my quote!

In honor of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, today's quote will be by C. S. Lewis. And because I am in a good mood, and also because I can't decide which quote is my favorite, I shall post two.

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

~C. S. Lewis

Sunday, December 12, 2010

British Accents

As I was writing one of my stories earlier today, I realized something quite interesting- and a bit odd. I had recently watched Titanic and parts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, both of which the main characters have British accents. Now, one thing you must know about me to understand where I am coming from is that after watching about three hours worth of people talking in British accents, I tend to think and occasionally speak with a British accent as well. It is actually quite fun. So, as I sat writing in my room, the little voice in my mind was saying what I was writing with a British accent. What I then realized was that it was actually making my writing sound better. I do not know how, but it did. Somehow, it sounded more formal and mature (or maybe I was still reading it like a British person). Nevertheless, I shall now always write with my little British voice in my head, because one- it mysteriously improves my writing skills, and two- who doesn't like talking in a British accent?
I have decided to add a little something new to my blog posts. I have recently started a Commonplace Book, or, more plainly put, a book of quotes. I spend a lot of time looking up quotes lately to write in my very pretty leather bound journal I bought from Barnes and Noble. So, I have decided that I will add my favorite quote as of that day to the end of my blog posts from now on. Hopefully they will inspire you as much as they inspire me. (And if you want, read them in a British accent- it makes them sound so much prettier.)
Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme developement, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.
~Edgar Allan Poe

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sometimes a Day of Doing Nothing is Worth It

Lately, I have been pushing myself way too hard. I refuse to just let something go, like homework, for example. I, being a perfectionist, refuse to leave homework unfinished. I cannot stand having missing assignments. But sometimes, you just have to ignore those kind of things. Yesterday I had a random day off of school because the heat broke, and it was almost as cold as it was outside in our classrooms. And apparently, it was just going to get worse. So, no school! I was thrilled to have a day of doing nothing. I got to sleep in until nine, which is a rare occurrence, even on weekends. I laid around all morning, finished Goblet of Fire, and ate yummy Chex Mix stuff that I made myself (I'm quite proud of this achievement). After doing just a few chores, I cuddled up under my fluffy comforter in my bedroom with my laptop and wrote. I currently have thirteen unfinished stories in the making and with all the craziness that comes with high school life, I have not been able to make any progress on them for over a month. I even rediscovered an old document with an almost completed story on my laptop from, like, seventh grade (mind you, it was terribly written). I spent most of my morning sprucing up said story and listening to the second soprano part for the Coventry Carol, over and over and over and... well, you get the point (this is all thanks to my dear Katie, the musical genius of our school, whom without, our Girls Ensemble would not be half as good as it is now. And as I have said in an earlier post, Katie is a senior and will be leaving my friend Megan and I in charge of the Girls Ensemble, when it most definitely will not be as good as it is now. Sigh.) My quiet morning was then interupted by a Facebook message scheduling a two hour long choir practice for our Behold the Lamb concert on the 20th. I love choir, and everyone in it, but it was very hard to leave my warm bed and all of my stories and journey out into the subzero (well, below freezing at least) temperatures to get to the Lower school where we would have practice. We didn't even have soup, so there was nothing to really motivate me to get out of bed. Of course, eventually, I did make it to practice, a bit late, but nevermind that. I also finally found something to motivate me- I wore my new Quidditch World Cup tee-shirt. And my Ravenclaw scarf. They made me happy.
I am pleased to say that the Behold the Lamb songs are finally sort of coming together, which is awesome... Girls Ensemble songs, well... they need some work. But we're getting right on that. Tomorrow, actually. Let's just hope that our pianist can focus this time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Very Lengthy and Detailed Harry Potter Experience

I do believe this post is past overdue...

Well, last Friday I had the privilege of going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a.k.a. the best place on earth. We did have to wait a couple hours before being able to actually get into the Harry Potter world part. After being thoroughly annoyed by the man who was blocking the entrance into Hogsmead and not letting anyone in unless their little ticket with the time they are allowed to come into the park said 12:40 or earlier (it was 12:50, and our ticket was for one o'clock), we were finally let in, along with a huge crowd of other people waiting ever so patiently.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the Hogwarts Express, complete with smoke and sound effects. Behind that is Platform 9 3/4, and then you are on the streets of Hogsmead. To your left are Honeydukes, Zonkos and the Three Broomsticks (and more...) and to your right are Dervish and Banges and Ollivanders. There are a lot more little shops set up between them, each with a 'closed' sign, or a 'out to lunch' sign. You can't actually go into these shops, but its fun to peer into the windows and look at the very detailed setup inside.

If you keep walking you pass a little corner where the House banners are displayed (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff). Occasionally, you might be able to see a few students from Durmstrang or Beauxbaton lined up so you can take your picture with them, and sometimes the Frog Choir treats you with a song, complete with their talking toads. Keep going and you pass a butterbeer stand, and then in the distance the unmistakable tower of Hogwarts castle appears.

Walk through the gates of Hogwarts and students in their House robes great the 'muggles'. Inside of Hogwarts is probably the best ride/rollercoaster I have ever been on. Make sure you stow all loose items in the lockers on the room to your right before continuing, because you will lose them on the ride. Keep walking through the dimly lit corridors and you pass the Potions classroom and the Mirror of the Erised. You emerge outside to Professor Sprout's Herbology classroom, where a whole bunch of very strange, exotic plants can be found, including Mandrakes and Devil's Snare. After re-entering Hogwarts, the House Points are displayed to your right, with Gryffindor in the lead (of course...). The entrance to Proffesor Dumbledore's office lies ahead.

Pass Dumbledore's office entrance and you find yourself in Dumbledore's office- complete with a realistic hologram of the famed professor that talks to the muggle visitors. Walk through his office and you emerge into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Harry, Ron and Hermione greet you there, explaining how they are about to save you from a 'dreadfully boring' class taught by Proffesor Binns and fly you down to the Quidditch match. Walk out into the hallway and you pass the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, Fat Lady and all. Keep going and the picture of Helga Hufflepuff, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin greet you, talking amounst themselves about the famous 'boy who lived'. Ahead is the Sorting Hat, and beyond that is the ride itself.

You ge on, stap yourself in with a brace that comes over your shoudlers, and move towards a dark hole. After a quick 'good luck!' from a Hogwarts student, Hermione appears before you as a hologram like before. She explains how she is going to use Floo powder to get you to the Observatory, and from there Ron and Harry will fly you down to the Quidditch field. You then disappear into a cloud of green fog, and begin to fly.

You float into a staged setup of the Observatory, and hear Ron's voice praising Hermione's brilliance. You bob up and down, and the ride turn you so a huge Imax-sized screen takes up all possible space. (I tried to find the end of it, but when you're strapped in by your shoulders into a little enclosed space that only allows you to look ahead, its kind of hard.) They are both on brooms, and Harry yells for you to follow. You then begin on a really, really scary flight around the castle. And I don't mean, like freaky-creepy Paranormal Activity scary, I mean like this-has-got-to-be-real scary. I was literally pulling up my legs whenever they looked like they were going to hit something.

The cool thing about this ride is you feel like you are actually flying. Like, you're definitely moving. After following Ron and Harry for a little ways, the whole time screaming like a maniac, you come to a screeching halt in front of a bridge-type thing. Hagrid is standing there with a huge chain in his hands, and he wants to know if anyone's seen a dragon. You duck under the bridge and zoom after Harry and Ron, but not soon after you are being chased by the Hungarian Horntail from Goblet of Fire. The ride changes to a staged setup again, and you are inside that long covered bridge. The dragon is totally destroying the bridge to get to you, and you turn around to face its huge head, which promtly spits fire (super hot red fog) at your face.

Then you're in the Forbidden Forest (another setup), with the giant spiders. I can't remember much from this part, mainly because my eyes were closed and I was screaming like I was about to be murdered the whole time. What I do remember is they spit at you. Some of it got in my mouth. It was gross.

You then get to meet the Whomping Willow. I swore it was inches away from hitting my legs. And what could make this ride any better but... dementors! Super creepy, black cloaked...things that suck out your soul. Of course, my cousin and I yell 'expecto patronum!' at the same time, but it doesn't work because, unluckily for us, we do not have wands. But fortunately, Harry comes to save the day with his awesome Patronus charm and we follow him back to the Quidditch field where you meet none other than..... Draco Malfoy!

This was probably my favorite part of the ride because you actually feel like you're flying with the Gryffindor team. You know in the Chamber of Secrets movie, when Harry is being pursued by Dobby's Bludger? and him and Draco fly along the edge of the field, in and out of those beams? Yeah, that's what they did this time. If I could have hugged my knees to my chest, I would have.

You then fly straight up, hover for a while with Harry before plummeting down towards the water. You skim across it and back up to the castle where the Quidditch team greats you inside- they won the match by the way. In the next room, Dumbledore, Hermione and a few other Hogwarts students are giving you a huge round of applause, probably for surviving the ride. Dumbledore sends you back to the 'muggle world', and you flip up on your back, almost upside down and spin. A lot.

After you get off the ride, you are so overwhelmed by the sensory overloads, adrenaline rush and just amazement at how cool the ride actually was that it's kind of hard to walk straight. It doesn't help that you have to get off on a moving conveyor belt.

At the exit of the ride is Filch's Emporium, which is pretty much like the souvenir shop of Harry Potter world. I got a Ravenclaw house pin from there, and you can also get tee-shirts, hats, scarves, backpacks, mugs, etc.

The two other rollercoasters, the Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dragon Challenge are across from the exit.

After the ride, we went to the Three Broomsticks to eat. It was absolutely amazing- and I had butterbeer!! Which, by the way, tastes like a combination of cream soda, root beer and butterscotch with a really yummy sweet frothy stuff on top.

My cousin and I then went to Honeydukes while our parents finished eating their roasted chicken and pork ribs. They have everything from Chocolate Frogs to Berty Botts Every Flavor Beans to Sugar Quills. next door is Zonkos, where I sadly didn't buy anything.

We then waited in a two hour line for the 'Ollivanders Wand Experience'. My sister Hannah was chosen as the lucky child who actually experiences the experience... if that makes sense. Mr Ollivander presented her with several wands, instructing her to either water the flowers by saying 'aguamenti' or drawing the ladder towards her with the words 'accio ladder'. The wand that 'chose' her was a wand of reed, dragon heartstring and 11.5 inches in length. Lets just say I was very, very jealous. The wand box even had authentic Ollivanders dust on it! I was satisfied with Sirius Black's wand replica, though.

At Dervish and Banges I got my Ravenclaw scarf- my new favorite fashion accessory. I also picked out an assortment of my Christmas presents (yes, I shop for myself now...) which included the Golden Snitch, a Time Turner keychain and a model of the Hungarian Horntail.

So, that's pretty much the basic summary of what we did, well, actually it was more of a very detailed explanation.... That day was the best day of my life, and I cannot wait to go there again sometime soon.