More to the Mouse

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Many people go to Walt Disney World or set sail on the Disney Cruise Line to escape reality. Let’s face it, the real world can be an ugly and scary place.

For me, this is the main reason why I return to the various Disney properties time and time again. I want to escape.

Another benefit of going to the parks time and time again can be because you can apply the Disney principles to your everyday life.

A lot of different corporations implement the Disney management style to their businesses.

But on a smaller scale, what if you could apply the Disney principles to your everyday life?

For myself and my family, we look at the world through the lense of Christianity. Others might look through a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or other spiritual lense, and that is the great thing about Walt Disney World. Walt Disney was very careful to not exclude any religion in his films or vacation properties.

However, if you are of the spiritual faith there are some books available that can marry the two together.

One book that I really enjoyed is “Faith Trust and Pixie Dust” by Mark I. Pinsky.

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Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Pinsky, who is a religion journalist, according to the book’s Amazon listing, wanted to take a deeper look at one of the biggest influences on children: Disney.

Each chapter looks at a different film and the biggest message it tries to impart on the viewer.

For example, “Dumbo” looks at a mother’s love while “Robin Hood” looks at tax rebates.

This book does not really have a Christian leaning, or any other denominational leaning. It is more a look at morality and the Disney influence.

For anyone looking for a more direct approach to Chrisitianty and the Walt Disney World vacation, check out “A Christian’s Guide to Walt Disney World Resort” by Jeff Chaves.

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Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Unlike “Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust” this book definitely is geared toward the Christian denomination.

This is sort of almost a “Bible study” type of book that takes a look at a Walt Disney World attraction, attaches a Bible verse to it, a little bit of details about the attraction, how it can connect to Christianity and questions for further discussion.

For example, Space Mountain, located in Tomorrowland of the Magic Kingdom, the author uses the verse “God is Involved in Every Detail of Our Lives” — Matthew 10:30-31.

It further tells people to look out for the Earth that is shown at the end of the coaster and how God is involved in everything that goes on on Earth.

There are then four different questions that can help develop a deeper discussion of the connection between the two.

This format continues through the rest of the book.

Two books that go together well that combine one of literature’s most beloved characters, as well as a bear that has been a part of the Walt Disney World family for many years is “The Tao of Pooh” and it’s companion book “The Te of Piglet,” both by Benjamin Hoff.

These two books explore Buddhist principles through the lense of Winnie the Pooh and his fellow Hundred-Acre-Woods neighbors.

I have only read “The Tao of Pooh,” but I really enjoyed it.

The author interacts with the characters and uses many of their stories that are told in their books as an example of Buddhist teachings.

Hoff even talks about the different personalities of the character factor into the principles as well.

I really enjoyed these books because they are an easy way to learn about what is Tao and offer a different perspective on life.

Obviously, these are just a sampling of these types of books that are available out there. There are lots that look at the connection between spirituality and Disney. A simple search will bring up many of them.

Is this something you are interested in, or do you prefer to keep everything at an entertainment level when it comes to Disney? Leave a message in the comments below.

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Read All About it: July Book Picks

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We are little late with this month’s book picks. But, as I say better late than never.

For us, we really look forward to the summer reading program at our local library. We have been attending special shows featuring magicians, acting troupes and much more.

We also still visit the library every other Friday to pick out new books to enjoy during story time.

Here are some of our favorite library book picks for this month.

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“Vanishing Valentines: Scooby-Doo Picture Clue Book”

We love getting these Scooby-Doo Picture Clue Books from our library. They have the regular story but instead of some of the words they have a picture. For example, instead of the word “Scooby-Doo” they just have his picture. We love this because the parents can read the words and our little one can say what the picture is.

If you own the book, there are flashcards of the picture words that are used in the back of the book that you can cut out.

The story is pretty short and cute and it is perfect for any Scooby fans out there.

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“A Day at the Fire Station” by Richard Scarry

I think it is important to introduce your kids to the classics. In my opinion Richard Scarry and his busy world is a classic.

The illustrations are great and it gives an in-depth look at a fire station, which is something that kids around preschool age are pretty interested in to begin with.

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“The Noisy Paint Box” by Barbara Rosenstock and Mary GrandPre

This was my favorite book of the bunch. Not only was it colorful with beautiful illustrations but it told the story of the abstract artist Vasya Kadinsky.

The story was really easy to identify with about a young boy who could see color when he heard different sounds like instruments at an opera. While he was forced into painting more realistic art he fought against it and painted what he wanted to paint and what made him happy.

I love that they made a book about an artist that was easy accessible to children.

In the back there are some examples of his work and it was fun to have Lily pick out her favorite painting, which was “Two Ovals.”

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“How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth” by Michelle Robison and Illustrated by Kate Hindley

This was a really sweet story about a little girl who wanted to wash her woolly mammoth. (Surprising I know!)

It is really great for little ones because it helps teach them sequencing and even cause and effect on a certain level.

A fun accompanying activity might be to ask your little one to talk about the steps they would take to wash their imaginary pet and then to draw a picture of the process or one of the steps of the process.

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“Pipsqueaks!: Maze Day A Book of Beginning Mazes”

Ever since Lily was a little baby she would watch “Baby Maze” on Baby First TV and she loved it.

This book features a bunch of different types of mazes that are not just your typical “labyrinthine maze.”

The illustrations are so cute and it is fun to try and see what all the mice are up to in the illustrations.

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“Players in Pigtales” by Shana Corey and Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Any fans of the 1990s film “A League of Their Own” would love this book that follows the character of Katie Casey who wants to grow up and play baseball. She is told over and over that girls can’t do that until they start the women’s professional baseball leagues during World War II.

It is a wonderful story, not just for girls, but for everyone that loves baseball and is interested in learning more about this unique section of women’s sports history.

Tara’s Books of the Month

I don’t have any photos that I took of my book picks because most of them were read through my Kindle.

Catching Big Fish

“Catching the Big Fish” by David Lynch

I love David Lynch. “Twin Peaks” is my favorite series of all time and “Mullholand Drive” is one of my favorite movies.

This book talks a lot about Lynch’s beliefs in transcendental mediation and how it affects his every day life, how it drives his creativity and also stories about the various films and “Twin Peaks.”

I can’t recommend this book enough. There are a lot of chapters but they are all super short.

You don’t need to necessarily be a fan of Lynch. You can really get a lot from it if you want to develop your creativity.

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“Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur

It has been a long time since I read a book of poetry. After seeing it on the top 10 bestsellers I had to check it out.

The poems are very personal and share a lot about the author’s personal life including childhood abuse, her current relationships and finding herself.

Some of the poems at the beginning were uncomfortable to read, but later the poems were beautiful and really touching.

 

“The Lumberjanes”

I have never read a graphic novel before. But, since our library card includes membership to the ebook, television, movie, music and graphic novel renting site Hoopla, I thought I would give one a shot.

After a lot of research, I found the “Lumberjanes” series.

It is about a group of girls who are at summer camp when all these strange things start to happen. It reminds me of the Disney series “Gravity Falls” which I also love.

I read the first two volumes as ebooks and I had to request the third volume from the library in physical form because they didn’t have an electronic version.

 

That wraps up our books picks for this month (better late then never). Have you and your Mousekatots read any good books lately?

Also, here is a video showcasing Lily’s favorite book from this month:

 

 

June Book Bag

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Even though it might be time for kiddeos to be putting away their school books and learning might be far from one’s mind, it still doesn’t mean that you remove reading from your routine.

Here are a few of our selections for the first month of summer reading.

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This really funny book is about two chopsticks who are inserparable until one day the one has a break. This results in the one needing to rest so it can get better and be useable again.

While the one chopstick is resting the other one goes on adventures and learns that sometimes it is OK to be on your own.

Full of wonderful puns and kitchen humor, this book is a fun read for both kids and adults.

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Because our little Mousekatot is going to be taking some dance classes this summer, I wanted to introduce her to the art of dance through a fun book.

The Angelina series has been around for awhile, and has even spawned a series that is currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant video.

The series involves a sweet little mouse named Angelina that takes ballet lessons and the different mice that dance with her and the various life lessons they learn.

I high recommend this book as well as any others in the series.

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This is our second round for “Oh No, Little Dragon.” Lily absolutely loves the story about this little dragon whose spark goes out when he swallows water during a bath. While he tries everything to get it back it comes from a very sweet source.

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Mo Willems is one of our favorite authors. (We are obsessed with the “Elephant and Piggie” series.) When I saw this at the library I had to pick it up.

This rhyming tale is about little Nanette who gets a very important job of bringing home a baguette for her mom. When the temptation of the tasty baguette gets to be too much what will Nanette do?

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Peppa Pig and her family go camping in this book.

Not only do they have the most magical camper that also turns into a boat, but they also spend time sleeping under the stars and doing all sorts of other fun camping activates.

Since we just went camping a few weeks ago, Lily has been very interested in the subject.

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I am all about books that help little girls learn about their full potential.

This is one of those books. It talks about a young Ada that is different because she wants to learn more about why things are the way they are, which can sometimes be a challenge to her parents.

In the end everyone figures out how to embrace their own true self.

Recently, we had checked out “Carnival of the Animals” from our local library.

It came with a CD that Lily loved to listen to while figuring out which animals were represented by which instrument.

Because she liked it we bought her a copy of that book as well as two other ones that have CDs with them.

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I like to pretend that I am going to read a book. So this time I really wanted to read “And Then There Were None.” So far, so good.

Do you have any books that you like to read during the summer months. Leave a comment below.

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.

 

Seuss-tastic Time

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A couple of evenings ago we had the opportunity to attend a special Dr. Seuss evening that was sponsored by our school district’s early reading program.

The event was really planned out well and Lily had the chance to hear three different Dr. Seuss books.

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After the books the kids had an opportunity to play some different Seuss themed games while the parents listened to a talk about how to incorporate reading into everyday life.

They even had a gift bag give away that included a copy of the book “Raising a Rock Star Reader.”

I never win anything, but I won the raffle. I was excited.

Then after a reading of “Cat in the Hat” we took a few photos and played some games before we received a wonderful giftbag full of several books including “Fox in Socks” and a couple other books as well as erasers, a pencil, pencil sharpener, stickers and bookmarks.

We had such a wonderful evening and we were so thankful for the district for putting on this wonderful event.

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How did you celebrate Dr. Seuss day? Leave your comments below.

 

 

Read, White and Blue

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Photo courtesy of Batton Rouge Moms

This week the country celebrates “Read Across America” in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

It serves as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the tradition of reading not just by yourself, but reading to your children as well.

So, in honor of the celebration I wanted to share both Lily’s top three books and my top three books. (Lily decided on the number three because she is just three years old.)

Lily’s top three books of all times

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“Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Stein

This book always elicits giggles in our house.

The story is about a little chicken that is enjoying story time right before bed when she keeps on interrupting her father as he tries, and fails, again and again to read stories when the little chicken keeps on interrupting.

Can Papa finish one story before he is interrupted? Found out in the book.

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“The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne

Every child that has grown up has visited his or her friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore and the whole gang’s tale of Heffalumps, Busy Backsons and becoming completely surrounded by water are one of our favorite stories to hear time and time again.

I am sure everyone has either wanted to play Pooh Sticks with Winnie-the-Pooh or gone bouncing with Tigger at least once in their childhood.

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“Creepy Carrots!” by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown

This is one of Lily’s favorites from way back when she was little.

The story is about a bunny that cuts through this field on his way to and from school where he plucks a few carrots from the garden to eat.

Everything seems to be going fun until he starts to think the carrots are following him.

The book is more cute then creepy and reminds me of a cheesy monster movie.

It is also a Caldacot award winning book, so you know it must be good.

Tara’s top book picks

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

This is my all time favorite book. I love the regency time period and Lizzy Bennet is one of my all time favorite literary heroes. She bucks the system when she won’t marry the creeptastic Mr. Collins (can you blame her?) and is holding out for love.

Mr. Darcy is also such a dreamy character (even though he is a jerk throughout half of the book) that has Austen fan girls swooning for days.

The story really talks about the dangers of pride and of course the prejudice that people pass each day.

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“She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb

When I first read this novel many years ago, I had to keep on checking the front cover to double check the gender of the author.

Lamb did a wonderful job being the voice of a girl that grows into a woman and has to face many challenges during this transition.

Dolores Price spends her time feeding her soul with junk food until she turns into a young adult where she goes through a rebirth that helps to transition her life.

Really great story that deals with difficult themes.

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“Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden

What stood out to me the most was how well Golden did at transporting the reader to another place and time. Somewhere that most readers would never have experienced and make it seem like a place they know so well.

The story follows a group of girls as they train to become geishas before and during World War II.

Becoming and being a geisha was an art form that was much more than “entertaining” a gentleman, and Golden really goes into depth on explaining this.

The film version of the novel was a really good adaptation that stayed pretty faithful to the book.

What are your favorite books to read with your little one or on your own? Leave your comments below.

Lost in a Good Book

Half way through last year we decided to add another component to Lily’s bedtime routine by choosing a children’s chapter book and reading a chapter from it each night.

So far we have read a couple Kingdom Keepers books, “The Secret Garden,” the two books that comprise “Bednobs and Broomsticks,” and many more.

Our most recent book was “The Land of Stories,” by Chris Colfer (yes, the same Chris Colfer that starred in “Glee”).

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This first book, “The Wishing Spell” is one out of five and follows the story of two twins, Alex and Connor, who fall through a mysterious book that transports them to a place where all their favorite fairy tale characters live including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, Snow White, the Evil Queen and many others.

The problems arise when the twins have to assemble all the items that are needed for the wishing spell to get them home. Finding these items is easier said than done because they are the hallmarks of famous fairy tale characters like the spindle from Sleepy Beauty, a gem from Snow White’s coffin and more.

Can they make it in time before the Evil Queen tries to cast the spell first?

We enjoyed the book a lot.

It was nice that a lot of classic fairy tale characters were included in the book and it was a great journey story that followed the twins through the different lands that comprise the land of stories.

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A map has been included in the front of the book. (I am a sucker for a book that has a map in the front.)

We really enjoyed the book. It had a great story and message and it was really engaging.

The only downside was that the chapters were a little long for our purposes (it made for a late night if we read an entire chapter sometimes) so we solved it by splitting some of the chapters into two nights.

We are reading the fourth “Kingdom Keepers” book right now, but after it we are going to read the second book in the series.

Have you and your kiddos read any great books lately? Leave your comments below.

 

Musical Flower Power

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Simple Plan March 17-18 (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

Next month Epcot will be alive with the sound of music as as the Garden Rocks Concert Series kicks off.

This series, which is part of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, features famous musicians every Friday through Monday starting March 3 through Memorial Day.

Having the artists perform every Monday is an addition to the festival this year.

The concerts, taking place at the outdoor America Garden Theatre that is located at the American pavilion in World Showcase, are at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m.

This year’s performers cover a variety of music genera from oldies to 1990’s rock and pop.

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Berlin featuring Terri Nunn April 30-May 1 (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

The full line up includes:

March 3-4 John Secada “Just Another Day”

March 5-6 Dennis DeYoung: The music of STYX “Grand Illusion”

March 10-13 The Pointer Sisters “I’m So Excited”

March 17-18 Simple Plan “Welcome to My Life”

March 19-20 Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah”

March 24-27 Night Ranger “Sister Christian”

March 31-April 3 Little River Band “Reminiscing”

April 7-10 Blood, Sweat & Tears featuring Bo Bice “Spinning Wheel”

April 14-17 Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”

April 21-24 The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”

April 28-29 Expose “Point of No Return”

April 30-May 1 Berlin featuring Terri Nunn “Take My Breath Away”

May 5-8 STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”

May 12-15 The Guess Who “American Woman”

May 19-22 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry VIII I Am”

May 26-29 The Spinners “Working My Way Back to You”

The concerts are included with the price of a park ticket.

Who would you be most excited to see? Leave your comments below.

If you are looking for more tips about taking your toddler to Walt Disney World like what to pack, how to get groceries delivered to your hotel room and what attractions will be a hit with your little one, pick up a copy of Mousekatots available as an e-book and paperback.

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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:

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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.”

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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).

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

Challenge Accepted

It has been awhile!

Thank you for sticking around while the Mousekatot gang spent some time together as a family over the holidays.

We had a wonderful time. Santa was very good to us, we ate so much yummy food and we were able to slow down life a little to enjoy our time together.

Now, it is back to the real world and a new year.

To kick things off I thought I would share with you a fun challenge that I thought other Mousekatot families might be interested in participating.

Searching online I came across different reading challenges.

What they are is they are a list of different types of books that you challenge yourself to read throughout the year. They might be from different subjects that you normally don’t read from or from an author that you may have never thought about.

I came across two different lists, one for the little readers and one for us parents (which can be difficult to do when we have such little time to read.)

While this challenge is from 2016, it is still a great list that can also be used for 2017.

It comes from clarescontemplations.com and I think it offers a really great variety of books.

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Photo courtesy of clarescontemplations.com

This list offers a lot of unique options of books that would really open up a new world of opportunities that you might not have checked out otherwise.

The first book off this list that Lily and I read is “Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Stein.

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This falls into the “Read a Book that Funny” category.

This tells the story of a little chicken that keeps interrupting her father while he is trying to read her a bedtime story.

This will make parents laugh if they have a little chatterbox in their family and children will laugh along with the stories that the little chicken comes up with.

For those of us parents the reading challenge that I found comes from popsugar.com.

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Photo courtesy of Popsugar.com

There are a lot of books included, which will make completing the challenge, well, challenging. So, I am going to be happy if I can finish at least five of these books. However, I am going to strive for at least half of this list.

The first book that I am reading for the challenge is “The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia: A Guide to Walt Disney World’s Greatest Theme Park” by R A Pedersen.

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This book is going to qualify for my “Something that has been on my TBR list for a long time.”

I received this as a Christmas gift this year and I have to say that I have enjoyed reading it so much.

It breaks down each attraction and country that is found in Epcot and shows the history and the current information at this park.

If you are a fan of learning more about unique Epcot, attractions long gone and a look at the dreams that Walt had for this park, then this book is for you.

My plan for this challenge is to share our progress with you and let you know about the different books that we have discovered.

If you have any book suggestions for us to check out, please leave them in the comments below.

Also, let me insert a plug for Mousekatots.

If you, or someone you know, is planning on visiting Walt Disney World with a toddler, or any child as a matter of fact, you will want to check out Mousekatots.

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The book offers tips and tricks on how to make your trip to the Mouse House more enjoyable including what to pack, how to prepare for either road or air travel, what attractions are best for kids, where you can find macaroni and cheese in the Magic Kingdom (you know you need to know this information) and much more!

The book is available through the link above.