Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Angel Pie

I wrote and published this last year when Sarah turned 11. Today she turns 12. I could write even more, but I like this post so much I feel like simply re-posting it on this day. Love ya, Angel Pie! 

2004 was quite a year.

In sports, my Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup and my Auburn Tigers went undefeated on the gridiron.

Plus, there was a bit of a to-do in the baseball world, with the Red Sox rallying from a 3-0 series deficit to vanquish the Yankees and then proceeding to win the World Series -- thereby breaking the 86-year Curse of the Bambino.

In politics and national affairs, Ronald Reagan passed away, John Kerry was swift-boated, and Dan Rathers saw his career implode when he promoted fell for forged documents that lied to the public about misreported George W. Bush's National Guard service.

But to me personally, the most important event of 2004 happened on the 19th of October. I had become a father when Sarah Belle Stanton was conceived in January, but October 19th was when she was born and I got to hold her for the first time. This picture was taken shortly after:

Nowadays she looks like this:

Before becoming a father, I always thought that I would call my little girl "cuddle bunny" ... and sure enough, I did call her that in the hospital; but to my recollection, I only did so once, followed by another forced use of the phrase some time later ... instead, the phrase which fell naturally out of my mouth without having to think about it was "Angel Pie," and both Erika and I continue to call her that up to this very day.

Like her father, Sarah enjoys reading and writing. Late last year she started perusing the Harry Potter books, and it took no time at all for her to become a full-on fan of that series about the boy wizard who spent most of his first decade underneath the staircase at 4 Privet Drive in the village of Little Whinging.

I am happy she took to the series because I decided to read each volume in her wake, in the belief that they might contain enough imagery and story lines to entertain me as well as her -- which would make them the first books we could truly enjoy at the same time. That belief proved to be true, and it has turned the Potter series into one of our funnest shared experiences.

With Sarah turning 11 this month, Erika and I decided that her birthday present would be a weekend-long trip to Universal Resort in Orlando. The resort's two theme parks (Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure) are the joint home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which puts every single thing in every single Disney park to shame.

Sarah could not wait to go; and while we were there this past weekend, she declared on several occasions that it was the best weekend of her life, which made us smile from ear to ear.

Universal Studios is home to Diagon Alley, the hidden-in-London street which is frequented by wizards and witches eager to purchase wands from Ollivander's and eager to do their banking at Gringott's:

Islands of Adventure is home to Hogsmeade, a Scottish village which ranks as the only municipality in all of Britain that is inhabited solely by wizards and witches:

Assuming you purchase a ticket that allows you into both parks, you can travel between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade by riding the Hogwarts Express steam train. In the books and movies, the Hogwarts Express departs from Platform  at London's King's Cross Station to transport students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, though it also stops at Hogsmeade and presumably at other locations.

This past Saturday, when Sarah was standing on Platform  ready to board the Hogwarts Express, she was so excited that she had no idea the porter was photo-bombing her when I snapped this picture:

Diagon Alley is true to form with lots of places from the books and movies -- not only Ollivander's and Gringott's, but also Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, and, of course, the offices of the most famous wizard newspaper:

And there is the ever-interesting Museum of Muggle Curiosities (in case you don't know, "muggles" is the word by which wizards and witches refer to us non-magic folk):

Over at Hogsmeade, Potter fans will be delighted to find Honeyduke's Sweet Shop and Zonko's Joke Shop -- along with that Old World pub known as The Three Broomsticks, at which you can purchase ale, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, turkey legs, and the hearty Great Feast. Here is a photo from The Three Broomsticks' dining room:

As we made our way through the larger Universal Studios on Saturday morning, en route to Diagon Alley, my heart fluttered to see Erika and Sarah side by side:

My heart also fluttered when Sarah and Parker parked themselves in the rear of the Knight Bus, and when Sarah peeked into its interior:

And my heart flutters when looking at the following picture of Sarah and me with Hogsmeade in the background. Erika took it after Sarah purchased the sorting hat with her birthday money (thank you Grammy and Grandma!):

Sarah is not without her faults (who is?) but she is also not without her merits, and I love her to the moon and back.

Sarah Belle, no matter what, you will always be my Angel Pie.

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