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I was gone for almost two weeks for an incredible celebration of turning 40.

My wife and I drove to Orlando – dropping our daughter off at her grandparents’ house on the way – and four of our good friends flew into Orlando to join us.

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Atlantis

My wife and I posing with Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center museum. Workers built a five-story museum around the space shuttle.

We stayed out late every night, ate at fantastic restaurants, and explored the amazing Harry Potter World at Universal (at which I saw only one child – every other wannabe magic-user was, like me, an adult). We learned fascinating things at the Kennedy Space Center museum, although experiencing the G-forces of liftoff persuaded me that I am too old to be an astronaut. We ate fancy food at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. We rode terrifyingly fast roller coasters, in the dark, at night. We stayed up late to watch fireworks shows as only Disney can make them – half theater, half light show, with pyrotechnics thrown in as well. They were so good that I would’ve paid just to see them, without even going to a fun park as well.

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Fireworks

Fireworks explode during the show at Epcot.

It’s been four years since I stayed out late at night every night, and it was just as good as I remember it being before I had children. We played games until 1 a.m. one night. We lounged in hot tubs and Jacuzzis. We ordered not just wine but fancy mixed drinks with our meals. We selected restaurants based on their menus, not on whether a small child could sit through them, and then entertained each other by taking silly food photos and actually – gasp! – having a full conversation without interruption.

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Eating out

Two of my friends behave like adults during one of our child-free meals.

Halfway through the vacation, it occurred to me that basically I was celebrating 40 by pretending I was 20.

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Harry Potter World

A dragon breathes fire above Gringotts Bank.

I love being a mother, but by the end of the trip I was convinced that the child-free have more fun.

Then we drove back to my parents’ house. My wife walked in the door first. I heard a scream. “Momma! I MISSED you!”

Then our daughter discovered I was back too, threw herself into my arms and told me, with breathless excitement, about everything she did while we were gone.

Being a parent doesn’t involve as many nights out on the town, but it is still pretty great.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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