All Aboard

Living near Pittsburgh we have plenty of opportunities available to us for fun adventures on the weekends.

One of our favorite places to visit is the Carnegie Science Center.

Night shot of the Science Center

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

This huge facility has a bunch of different areas that explore everything from space travel, to robots to the human body.

One of our Mousekatot’s favorite places is the miniature railroad.

This railroad has been a staple of this facility for many years and offers an interesting perspective of our local area.

img_4924

The railroad covers all four seasons and offers a look at all the distinct places and areas that make southwestern Pennsylvania what it is including the steel mills, coal towns, farming areas and also key landmarks in the area.

IMG_4930.JPG

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

One area that is really fun for your little one is where a volunteer can invite them up to do the train whistle.

Lily had the most fun looking at the different scenes trying to see what the people were doing. She also loved that the scenes would go from day to night and all the lights would come on inside the houses and around the towns.

There is also a surprise train for those who are fans of “Thomas the Tank Engine.”

img_4934

The cost of the miniature railroad is included with admission to the science center and is a really nice place to visit and teach your kids about the Pittsburgh area and the history of the region.

What are your favorite places to visit for weekend adventures? Leave your comments below.

img_4937


Playtime for Pre-Schoolers

On Mousekatots we haven’t really talked a lot about the Disney Cruise Line, but there are a lot of opportunities available for cruisers of all ages.

A lot of people might think they have to wait until their child is older to take them on a Disney Cruise, but that is not the case.

Our Mousekatot went on her first cruise when she just had turned one and we had the best vacation.

While there is the Small World Nursery and Nemo’s Reef splash area for the littlest of Mousekatots, once your child turns three and is potty trained, it opens a whole new world (see what I did there) for them to enjoy.

The first area you will want to check out is the Disney Oceaneer Club.

This special kids club is just for kids, no adults allowed.

oceaneer-youth-club-00

Photo courtesy of DCL.

Kids ages 3 to 12 can join hang out at the club where they can rub elbows with some of their favorite characters and have fun doing counselor lead activities including storytelling sessions, playgrounds, dress-up, interactive activities and more.

The clubs are designed to let children be fully immersed into some of their favorite worlds like Andy’s room from “Toy Story,” “The Monster’s Inc.” laugh floor and more.

ocean-club-dcl

Photo courtesy of DCL.

Lunch and dinner can be served at the club, which is a nice benefit if Mom and Dad want to sneak away for some alone time at Palo.

One thing that is nice about the Oceaneer Club is that activities are based on the child’s interest and maturity and not necessarily the child’s age. This allows different age siblings to spend time together.

If you are anything like me, you might be a little apprehensive about leaving your child.

But, find comfort in knowing that Disney has a secure system in place to keep your child safe.

On Embarkation Day, both parents and child must check in at the front desk of the Oceaneer Club and you will be required to fill out final paperwork and your child will receive a special DCL Magicband. Which will let them into the Club and the Lab.

You can also tour the facility, meet the counselors and learn more about the activities.

The good news is that the cost of the club is included in your cruise, so you don’t have to pay anything extra, unlike the Small World Nursery.

Since your child is potty trained they will also be able to have access to all the different pools on the ship except for the adult only areas.

mickeys-pool-00

Photo courtesy of DCL.

This includes the family pool, the Mickey shaped pool and the family slide. Plus, they can also still play in Nemo’s Reef as well.

Another area to check out is the Aqualab that is a different splash area that is located on the ship where Huey, Dewy and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) have sprung a leak.

disney-aqualab

Photo courtesy of Cruise Critic.

No matter what activities you decide to do with your Mousekatot, you will have a wonderful time. The Disney Cruise Line is absolutely magical!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise with your family? If so, what was your favorite thing to do.


Hygge-What?

For me, one of my favorite parts about Christmas is just the feeling you get when your home is all decorated for the holidays.

Candles are lit, your Christmas tree is sparkling and you find yourself drinking a lot more hot chocolate.

But, when the holiday season is gone, and the decorations are put away and you have a long, cold, dark January staring at you in the face, you really start to miss the feeling your home had during the holidays.

Don’t you wish you could feel that all year (especially winter) along?

Well, now you can, thanks to hygge! (I know this sounds like an infomercial.)

Hygge (pronounced -Hoo-ga) is the Danish art of comfort and happiness.

It is really hard to describe because the word cozy doesn’t cover it.

Picture this: you just came inside from playing or shoveling show outside. You change your clothes to something really warm including nice woolen socks, put a fire in the fireplace, drink your favorite hot beverage and situate yourself so you can watch the snow fall gently outside while you are safe and warm inside. That is hygge.

You can accomplish some hygge things at home that are simple to do.

I found these great battery operated candles at Ikea that are seriously the best because of the slight flicker they give and the warmth of the light.

But hygge doesn’t have to be relegated to just the home.

How to Hygge #InfographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

If you would like to learn more about various rug options to make your house extra Hygge, as well as other interior design tips,  make sure to check out Modern Rugs Blog who created the awesome Hygge infographic above.

To better understand the concept of hygge, and would like to read the most adorable book on the subject, you will want to pick up

hygge-book

It really gives you a lot of background as to why the Danes are considered one of the happiest people and how this can have an impact on your life, as well as recipes, ideas for Christmas and more.

Do you find yourself struggling with the winter weather? Leave a comment below.


Day at the Zoo

This past Saturday we experienced unseasonably warm temperatures in southwestern Pennsylvania.

So, just like everyone else apparently decided to do, we went to the zoo in order to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

We are lucky to live near a nice zoo that also has an aquarium, which is Lily’s favorite part.

The aquarium has a huge tank that has plenty of fish and even some zebra sharks that Lily got so excited looking at.

I also had to include these two photos of these very sassy sheep that were a part of the petting zoo area:

dsc_2806

What do you and your family do when you have an unexpected warm day? Leave it in the comments below.


What’s in the Bag

There is nothing better than when it is cold and snowy outside to sit and cuddled together and read a good book.

Even though we haven’t had a lot of snowy weather and cold temperatures, it has been cloudy and rainy, so we have read quite a few books in addition to our nightly bedtime stories.

Here is our:

JanuaryBookBag.JPG

I have been alternating between two different books this month.

The first book, I probably mentioned in a previous post, is the “The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia.”

dsc_2773

It is really good. It tells both about the past attractions and also previous versions of current attractions. If you are a fan of “Horizons” and “World of Motion,”  then you will want to check it out.

Did you know that there were a lot more attractions planned for World Showcase that are actually there today?

The other book, that I just got this week, is all about the Danish art of coziness called Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga).

dsc_2770

Hygge is really popular right now. It is all about surrounding yourself with the simple pleasures in life like candles, warm drinks and close friends.

The books talks about what the secret to good Hygge is, how it can improve your happiness and how to bring it into your own home.

I am going to do a more in-depth book review and talk about Hygge in a future blog entry.

Since we just got over the flu at our house (which was not a fun experience) I have been a little leery to go back to the library because of all the germs.

So we have been dipping into our books that are collections of stories.

DSC_2787.JPG

For Lily’s birthday this year, we bough this book “Five Minute Snuggle Stories.”

It is really sweet Disney themed stories that leave you feeling all cozy inside.

Lily loves what she calls “short books.” These are the beginning to read books that offer different steps on the reading process.

These two have been our current favorites. I think it is because she is obsessed with Dory and loves to watch “Zootopia.”

What winter wouldn’t be complete without “The Snowy Day?”

dsc_2780

This classic book just automatically puts you in the middle of a snowy day by just reading the book. You can almost feel the crunching of the snow under your feet.

dsc_2788

Every night after Lily goes to bed after her story, we read a chapter from a longer novel each night. The lights are turned off and I use a book light as she lays in bed and tries to drift off to sleep.

This month we are reading “The Land of Stories” that was written by Chris Colfer, of “Glee” fame.

The story is about two twins who fall into a book that was read to them when they were younger and must go on a quest to return home.

So far, it is really good and the world building is extensive.

For awhile, Barnes and Nobel was running a special that is was $4.95 when you bought another book from the children’s section.

What books are you and your Mousekatots reading this month? Leave your comments below.


Meet You on the Oregon Trail

I am a kid of the 1980s and 1990s.

I can remember one of my favorite days of the week in elementary school was Computer Lab day.

It was always so much fun to hitch up the wagon on the Oregon Trail or set off in hot pursuit of Carmen San Diego.

I also have many fond memories of playing games on my home computer with my parents.

Luckily, there is a wonderful website that lets you virtually go back in time to play some of these games that bring back fond childhood memories.

At Archive.org there are a lot of arcade games and some old school MS-DOS games (do you remember when you had to type in the proper prompts to get it up and running.)

Now, with it available online, you can just click a button and away you go.

One of the games that Lily and I played together was one that was a favorite of mine, “Mixed Up Mother Goose.”

This game came with one of the computers that we bought and I would spend hours trying to help all the beloved Mother Goose characters find what was missing from their nursery rhymes.

2017-01-18

Kids have all sorts of tablets and iPads and this may seem like it is outdated and old fashioned, but that is part of the charm.

Lily had a great time using the mouse and learning the different nursery rhymes.

After Lily got tired and wanted I break I wanted to see what else was available on the website and there were so many different games.

Who remembers making the trek along the Oregon Trail?

2017-01-18-4

(Spoiler alert: We didn’t make it all the way. Half the party died while trying to make it across the first river we encountered. Kevin died from a broken leg and I died from a snake bite.)

Another popular game in elementary school was “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego.”

This game is a lot more difficult than I remember. How did kids ever get anywhere with this game?

But, no matter what game you play, as long as you are having fun and enjoying spending time with your kids it makes it all worth while.

Make sure to check out archive.org because they have so many different games available online and they are all free of charge.

What was your favorite game to play in elementary school? Leave your comments below.

(Disclaimer: Just like with a lot of other sites you need to be careful what you click on and what you are looking for. There are some games that are not appropriate for children at all, so it might be best to monitor closely what they are looking at on this site and to play with them. There are also some games that seem very suspicious that might be a virus.)


Toddling Plans: Tomorrowland

One of the reasons why some trips to Walt Disney World don’t live up to a person’s expectations is because they fail to plan.

“The World” is not like another vacation where you can go with the flow, you have to have some kind of plan under your belt.

Whether that is everything planned out from hour to hour or just a plan on what park you are going to visit each day.

This is especially true when you have a little one in tow.

Just like in the plan for New Fantasyland it is important to try and get to the park as early as rope drop.

tomorrowland-map

Getting there?

Tomorrowland is located right off the main spoke of the Magic Kingdom. It is directly to the area right off of Main Street U.S.A.

I would recommend that you just walk to the right of the hub as soon as the rope drops.

Fastpass + selections

Like I had mentioned in the New Fantasyland tour, you need to make your fast pass selections based on the personality of your toddler.

If they dream of going to infinity and beyond, then you will want to get Fastpass+ for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.

If your Mousekatot is always telling knock-knock jokes, then check out the Monster Inc. Laugh Floor.

But not all attractions need a Fastpass+. Here are my suggestions of attractions you would want to get passes for:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Space Mountain (if your Mousekatot is over 44 inches tall or you are planning on using rider swap)

Lots of the other attractions in Tomorrowland are able to be visited without needing a Fastpass+.

11893842_745642461237_4123483727207963735_o

Where to grab a bite to eat

If you want to find something quick to eat you will want to check out Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.

You can find something for pretty much everyone in your party here including cheeseburgers, falafel burger, a half of a rotisserie chicken, greek salad with chicken, barbecued pork sandwich and even s’mores.

It is also a big place to grab a table there is a cute show that is performed by a character named Sonny Eclipse.

What is your favorite thing to do in Tomorrowland? Leave your comments below.