Christmas Cards

I am a sucker for Christmas music on the radio and decorated storefronts.  I love seeing presents under the tree and drinking hot chocolate.  But if I'm being totally honest, one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is a mailbox full of cards and seeing them displayed around the house all season long!
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Growing up, it was an unspoken rule that we couldn't open up the cards each night until everyone was home.  We would wait impatiently, guessing who they were from and what updates they might contain.  It sounds silly but Rob and I have totally taken on this tradition without realizing!  Seeing cards roll in from all over the country makes me feel overwhelmingly grateful for the people in our lives.  They may be far away but holiday cards always seem to make that distance seem just a bit closer. 

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This year, I was so excited to pair up with Tiny Prints for our Christmas card.  I take my cards seriously so I love how they have so many different holiday card options.  Of course, I thought this "laughing all the way" one summed us up perfectly!  And while I normally take hours to carefully address all of my cards, I have to confess how much the free address printing option was a lifesaver this year.  I am in love with how the envelopes turned out and now all of the addresses are saved in my account for next year.  Well, except all my sweet military friends who move between now and then ;)  
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This year will bring our sixth move in five years of marriage.  We are always saying goodbye to old friends and making new ones.  Every Christmas may look different for us but Christmas cards are thankfully one tradition that will never change.

Thanksgiving in Charleston

While sunny and 75 doesn't exactly scream Thanksgiving weather, I have to admit I love it!  We spent Thanksgiving with Rob's family in Charleston and made the most of the warm weather.  We ate Thanksgiving dinner outdoors, spent time on the boat, and of course rooftop cocktails.  Yup, I could get used to weather like this ;)
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After watching the Hokies beat UVA (again!) on Saturday, we had dinner at Harold's Cabin.  It is owned by Bill Murray, who just so happened to be eating there that night as well!  Some other food highlights from the trip were brunch at 5Church and poolside drinks at the Pavillion Rooftop bar.
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Universal Studios - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After talking about it for years, we took advantage of the long weekend and made the trip to Universal Studios in Orlando to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I am a huge Harry Potter nerd fan and this trip was above and beyond what I could ever have imagined!
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We drove down on Friday and made it to Orlando just in time for lunch at Cowfish on the Citywalk. We chose the two day, park to park pass and it worked out great for us.  The parks weren't too crowded due to the time of year and the weather was perfect both days.  We spent the entire afternoon on Friday riding all of the rides at both Universal parks, completely avoiding Harry Potter world. There were tons of rollercoasters to ride and plenty to do, see, and keep us occupied until closing time.  Our favorite parts were The Hulk rollercoaster and the giant Lard Lad donuts in Springfield.
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We woke up bright and early on Saturday to get to the park at opening. Our plan was to spend the entire day exclusively exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This park absolutely met and exceeded my expectations. I was almost in tears taking in all of the little details - everything seemed so real and true to the books!  We started in Hogsmeade (this is in Islands of Adventure) and rode the Dragon Challenge rollercoaster from Triwizard Tournament.  Next, we took the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley (inside of Universal Studios).  The park to park is vital for seeing both areas as well as riding the Hogwarts Express, which was awesome!
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Getting off the Hogwarts Express, you arrive in London.  We were total suckers - walking around London, wondering why there wasn't much Harry Potter stuff, and feeling a bit disappointed.  We saw a few people walking out of a brick alleyway between the London homes so we decided to check it out and just like in the movies, out of nowhere was the entire magical world of Diagon Alley!  It was incredible!  Here, we rode Escape from Gringotts, drank butterbeers, did some window shopping for wands and robes, and ate lunch at The Leaky Cauldron.  The Hogwarts Express is a different ride in either direction so we took it back to Hogsmeade to explore more.
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Back in Hogsmeade, we wandered through the Hogwarts castle and rode the Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hippogriff.  We did a movie marathon leading up to our trip to refresh all of the details in our memories and it made everything that much more exciting!  I might be a total kid at heart because I am already so anxious to go back!
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