Safety First

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Photo courtesy of ibtimes.com

It really is a commentary on the state of the world when metal detectors are needed to get into the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

But, the fact of the matter is that I feel better knowing they are there and they are keeping my family safe. I am so thankful for the security guards that work hard each day to keep everyone safe and I am sure having to deal with their own share of people trying to give them flack because they snuck in a selfi-stick and got caught.

In order to make the security process a little easier Disney has been rolling out some changes that were announced earlier this week.

According to several sources, including the Disney fan website, Inside the Magic, that these new measures will include new security checks at the Transportation and Ticket Center. This means and those who enter the Magic Kingdom through ferry or monorail will be able to skip the bag check and metal detectors at the gate.

Also, those who are staying at one of the resorts on the monorail loop (Grand Floridian, Poly and Contemporary) will be checked at the resort monorail stations and will be able to enter without going through the security check point at the gate,

Those guests arriving on buses at this time will still use the current security setup.

These changes are scheduled to take place April 3.

 


Game On

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I will let you in on a secret. The Amber family is full of gaming geeks.

Even Lily likes to get in on the action.

When we were first dating, many moons ago, and even to this day we like to spend some time playing video games.

Recently, we have enjoyed going back to the games of our youth and have purchased original Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems to play some of these games.

We usually visit a local game store in our area (we try to buy local when we can) but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention that was held this past weekend at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh.

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The place was packed and featured all kinds of video games and systems that you could ask for. There were even some tabletop games if that was more your speed.

But, for us it was all about the video games and we each were looking for a particular game that day. Kev wanted Genesis’ “Echo the Dolphin” and I was looking for either “Donkey Kong Country” or “Donkey Kong Country 2.”

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I am happy to say that we found both of the games we were looking for and then some.

Lily purchased a few Disney Infinity princesses (Jasmine, Anna and Elsa). She likes to play with them as figures and we like to use them with our Infinity game. We also picked up a couple of Nintendo DS games for her. We thought that she might like to use my old DS to take on road trips and our eventual cruse this fall.

Keep an eye on this blog for future reviews and a haul of the games we purchased.

We had a wonderful time at the convention that was held at an interesting location.

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After the convention we decided to head to South Hills Village so I could return a swimsuit that didn’t fit right.

We also ate at one of our favorite restaurants BRGR that is located in the Galleria. Since Kev and I are vegetarians we really appreciate that they have a great non-meat burger as well as tasty salads.

Lily likes their chicken fingers a lot, so it is big hit with all of us.

We have also become obsessed with Spongebob Squarepants, especially Plankton.

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I would say that it was a pretty successful day out on the town. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and I can’t wait to attend next year’s convention.

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We really like the Frozen children’s headphones. It keeps the volume low so it doesn’t hurt her ears.


All the Comforts of Home

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For a lot of people after deciding when to visit Walt Disney World, the next big choice is deciding where to stay while you are on vacation.

The way Walt Disney World’s resort system is broken down is there are different tiers of resorts that are based on how much you want to spend. They are value, moderate and deluxe.

Value Resorts

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Pop Century Resort

The most economical category of resorts are the value resorts. This includes Pop Century, All-Star Music, All-Star Movies and All-Star Sports. The Art of Animation would also qualify as a value resort, but the price point, in my opinion would put it in the more moderate category.

The value resorts are pretty similar to each other. Each features outside hallways, oversize design features like a huge can of Playdough at Pop, or a giant Lady from “Lady and the Tramp” at All-Star Movies.

The value resorts have only one place to get food and that is at a large cafeteria style restaurant that you can find options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The resort pools are large and are the center piece of the resort.

All transportation is done by bus and there is only one area to catch the bus and that is at the front of the resort. If you drive yourself it isn’t as bad because you can park near your building if they are situated toward the back of the resort.

Typically the cost per night at a value resort is around $100 a night, give or take.

Moderate Resorts

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Port Orleans French Quarter

The moderate resorts are right in the sweet spot between value and deluxe categories. They offer some of the am entities of a deluxe resort while being more cost friendly.

Resorts in the moderate category include the two Port Orleans resorts (French Quarter and Riverside), Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resort. The cabins at Fort Wilderness are also semi in the moderate category.

The moderate resorts have a more cohesive theme whether it is the Caribbean or New Orleans the theme is carried throughout often into both the quick service and table service restaurants.

Speaking of the table service restaurants, one of the biggest differences is that the moderate resorts offer a table service (a place where a server comes to your table to take your order) where as the value resorts don’t.

Also, the pools usually have an additional feature, like a water slide.

If you want a better themed hotel, with more dining options, then you will want to check out the moderate resorts.

Typically it costs between $200 to $300 a night.

Deluxe Resorts

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The Beach Club Resort

The deluxe resorts are the primo accommodations at Walt Disney World. The resorts include: The Boardwalk, The Beach Club, The Yacht Club, The Contemporary, The Polynesian Village Resort, The Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the different Disney Vacation Club areas that are a part of the different deluxe resorts.

If you are looking for high quality table service restaurants, spas and mini-water parks at the resort, then you will want to upgrade to a deluxe.

Another benefit of this category is that many of the resorts have alternative ways of getting to the park such as monorails or boats. (Tip: If you and your family are big fans of Epcot you will want to stay at either the Beach or Yacht Club resorts because you are within walking distance to the World Showcase entrance.)

Typically it costs $400 to $500 a night.

Which category do you and your family prefer or what is one resort you would love to stay at that you haven’t tried yet? Leave your comments below.

If you are looking for more tips on planning your Walt Disney World vacation for your family and your little ones pick up a copy of “Mousekatots”.

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My Favorite Neighbor

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Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Magazine

If you haven’t read a few of my older blog entries, then you might not know this, but I am from the Pittsburgh area.

The land of the best football team ever, The Pittsburgh Steelers; older church ladies that pinch pierogies; the record holder for most bridges; and everyone’s favorite ketchup, Heinz.

But one of our treasures that we are very proud of is Fred Rogers.

If you are child of the 1970s or later you will know him as the friendly face that would ask you to be his neighbor while zipping his sweater (which were all made by his mother) and putting on his Keds to start the show.

For me, Mister Rogers was more than a local icon, he was a friend.

Yesterday was his birthday and it really made me sit back and think more about this man that had a hand in the development of so many young people.

Every time I would sit down to watch his show, even to this day, I feel like I am home and I am a kid again.

He knew the perfect way to talk to kids without being patronizing and how to make everyday subjects and outings seem like an adventure. (To this day I still remember the video on how crayons were made.)

When I did my internship at WQED radio, which also houses the television station and Pittsburgh Magazine, I was given a tour which included the TV studio where the show was shot. There are still areas where the gumdrop-like flooring shone through in an almost homage to the man. Even in my 20s I was so excited to be stepping into the Neighborhood of Make Believe.

Now as a mom myself, I was really excited to see that the spirit of Mister Rogers lives well within “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” While my childhood favorites Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl are there, it is a whole new cast of characters that take center stage and allow this newest generation the opportunity to identify with these new characters.

I am forever grateful to Fred Rogers and the legacy that he has left behind and the continued work that his foundation and PBS have done to provide quality, educational programming for a new generation.

Now, this is where I am going to step on soapbox just for a second to say how important it is that public broadcasting stays around for not just this current generation of future leaders but for the ones after them, and after them and so on. And this is why budget cuts to this sector can be of major detriment.

While a lot of kids will have access to cable channels like Sprout, and pay for video services like Netflix, it is the underprivileged kids that will suffer. For many, the only channels they get are the major networks and PBS. Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo are who they rely on to teach them how to read and how to add, while Daniel and crew teach them how to be a good person.

I am not telling you to contact your political representatives to share your displeasure or even tell you to make a huge donation, but just to watch these programs with your kids. To help them cultivate an early love of learning, one that will continue for the rest of their life.

Mister Rogers would have wanted it that way.


Read All About It: March

March has been a very bitter month for us, when it comes to weather.

This means that we spent a lot of time indoors curled up with a good book and we went back to the library this month due to the height of flu season.

Here were our choices for the March bookbag.

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“If You Give a Moose a Muffin” by Laura Numeroff 

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Just like the famous “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” this story talks about what happens when you give a moose a muffin. As you can image the fun that ensues as the book escaltes from a simple muffin to a sweater and to a puppet show.

“What Pet Should I Get” by Dr. Seuss

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Recently this new Dr. Seuss book was discovered years after the author’s death. Just like all of his other books it spent a lot of time on the bestsellers list. What I really like about the book is that there is section in the back from the publisher about the importance of going to shelters to pick out your new pet instead of going to a pet store like the book states. (Please excuse the blurry photo. We were too excited.)

“Easter Surprise” by Catherine Stock

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This book is a sweet story that gets kids in the mood for Easter. The story is about two siblings who goes on a trip to a lake house during Easter. The beautiful watercolors enhance the story and give it a really sweet feeling. This is just one of many Stock’s holiday books.

“Oh No, Little Dragon” by Jim Averbeck

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This is a sweet story about a little dragon who loses his spark and is afraid that his Mommy won’t love him anymore and he tries so hard to get his spark back by making himself warm. It is only when he learns that his mommy will always love him no matter what that brings the spark back. Sweet story with cute and fun illustrations.

“Elephants Cannot Dance” by Mo Williams 

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If you couldn’t already tell by the picture this was our favorite book. Lily has always been a fan of the Elephant and Piggy books and she really liked this one. It tells the story of Elephant who has no confidence about dancing. However, he learns to accept himself as he is and celebrate his own unique qualities.

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For me, I haven’t done much reading this month. Between work, the blog and deciding to make Lily’s Easter dress I have had a full plate.

But, I have enjoyed reading these two books that came with my subscription to Calm Box that was a Valentine’s Day gift from the hubby.

Each book is full of either inspiration or tips on how to lead a less stressful life.

The beautiful illustrations and quick relaxation tips make for a nice read right before bed to help you remember what is important in life.

What has been on your book list this month? Leave your comments below.

 


DCL: Much Needed Quiet Time

For many people setting sail on a cruise ship full of a bunch of children might not be their idea of a relaxing vacation. And for this reason, many people avoid sailing with the Disney Cruise Line.

However, Disney knows this and has made allocations for areas that are just for the adults to enjoy.

One place that is often forgotten among the adult night clubs and pools is the Cove Cafe.

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Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line 

This coffee lounge overlooks Quiet Cove Pool and offers a variety of coffees, mixed drinks and baked goods. Plus, there are some magazines, televisions and for a fee you can surf the Internet.

Pretty much if you can think of it and it contains caffeine, they can make it. Espresso, Lattes, Americano and more can be created.

Food is also available including croissants at breakfast, cookies, crackers and fruit for lunch and dried sausages, marinated olives, cheeses and bread at dinner time.

While the food is included, there is a cost for the beverages.

A few cruises back we enjoyed Quiet Cove and it was really nice and a great way to spend some time before our brunch at Palo.

Would you be interested in trying out Quiet Cove? Leave your comments below.


Take it to the Bank

On the weekends we like to try to go on out little adventures.

Typically we go out to breakfast on Saturday and then usually go to the museums, or out shopping or different events that are happening in our community.

Sometimes when we go out, Lily gets a case of the gimmies at the store.

She wants this toy and that DVD, etc. When we say no she just like every other three year old and is upset.

So after much deliberation, we decided to come up with a way that Lily could do different things to earn some money to purchase a special toy on the weekend.

Now before I get into the logistics of how this all works, I know that this could cause some controversy.

A lot of people are against children doing chores and think that they should be focusing on just their childhood and spending their time playing.

But, for our Lily, she loves to have little jobs to do. She loves to take her little Melissa & Doug cleaning set and pretend that she is cleaning. She would often help us by putting down the cats’ food and also put her clothes in the hamper.

So, it seemed for her, that giving her rewards based on helping around the house would make sense and it would also help her understand that “money” doesn’t grow on trees.

We will still buy her treats and little surprises, but now she feels like she is a real big girl when she picks out her special toy and uses her own money to pay for it.

But, this has to be based on your own child. Each child is different and this might not work for your child. You need to do what you feel is best.

Now, back to the logistics.

We looked around and decided to find her a piggy bank that couldn’t break because she would want to play with it.

We found this really cute Walt Disney World bank on Ebay that we picked up for a good deal.

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Instead of doing actually money we came up with the idea to use play coins.

Since it was near St. Patrick’s day I was able to find packages of green and gold plastic coins that were big enough to not get lost but also fit through the slot of the bank.

We decided that the green coins would be $.50 and the gold ones would be $1.

She could get green coins for doing simple tasks like put the cat bowls down for meal times, putting her dirty clothes in the hamper and setting her table area for dinner.

The gold coins would be reserved for bigger jobs like making her bed, cleaning up the mess she makes from all of her toys and helping to fold simple laundry like socks and washcloths.

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So far, it has been going well. She has been loving picking out her own stuff and using her own money to purchase her toys.

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However, if she loses interest in doing it, we will stop doing it.