Happy April (No Foolin’)

Happy April!

I feel like we have made it through the winter and we can finally celebrate spring.

In honor, here is a little desktop background that has a calendar for the month and an inspirational quote from Walt Disney that you can download and use on your computer.

Enjoy this wonderful day with spring in the air!


Makeover Time

Our little Mousekatot turned 3 this past November.

In all three years, she has never had her hair cut, except for a few terrible bang trims by yours truly just so the poor girl could see where she was going.

I realized that her hair was getting so long and the ends were becoming split and uneven. So, as hard as it was for me emotionally, it was time for her to get her first haircut.

When the decision was made, the search began for a child themed place to take her. I know she is a little nervous about new experiences, so I wanted to make sure the place was really kid-centric so that she would feel the most comfortable. (Plus, I wanted to take really cute pictures and make the experience as exciting for her as possible.)

When looking online, I came across this really cute salon called Sweet & Sassy at a mall that is out of town for us, but we still visit frequently.


I mean, the place is just bursting with little girl cuteness.

I love that they make everything really special and offer a variety of services including manicures, pedicures, spa treatments and even themed birthday parties.

There are a variety of different kinds of haircut packages that are available on their website. Because of Lily’s age, she was able to qualify for a toddler package which included her haircut, glitter face tattoo, sparkles in her hair and a lollipop, all for under $20.

She was a little nervous when she first jumped up in the chair and they put the smock over her.

Luckily, they are experienced in dealing with nervous kids and they are prepared.

Each station has its own television that plays a Netflix show (ours was Barbie) and the stylist was wonderful and interacted with Lily to put her at ease.


The whole process was a wonderful experience.

The stylist really listened and only took a little off of Lily’s hair and trimmed her bangs for us, and Lily felt like a little princess.


In addition to everything else there is also a sundae bar that lets little girls pick out different bath products to take home.


(There is also a lotion and body spray bar.)

The place for pedicures was absolutely adorable and looked like something out of Barbie’s Dream House.


When we were there, two girls were celebrating their birthdays. One party was almost over and another one was ready to begin, so the place was packed, but everyone looked like they were having a great time.


Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I really think that we will be going back next time Lily needs a haircut.

She already loves having her nails done at home, so I think we are going to have a girly-girl who also loves to play with her dinosaurs and get a little messy, too.

Have you ever had a wonderful experience at a salon for your little one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

(I wasn’t compensated for this review in any manner. All the opinions expressed are my own.)



My Expensive Obession


If you have visited Mousekatots.com before, thank you for coming back, or if you have read the bio in the back of “Mousekatots,” available through Theme Park Press, you will know that other than my family and Disney, other obsessions include “Murder She Wrote” and vintage camping trailers.

Another obsession that I really don’t talk about that often, but I am sure many can identify with is, HGTV (AKA Home and Garden TV AKA the shrine to Chip and Joanna Gaines.)

If the television is on it is most likely tuned to channel 229, (on Direct TV) HGTV. Even if I am watching something on the DVR, it is still on channel 229.

If they monitor what we watch at the satellite company or Nelson ratings, they must think that I flip houses constantly. (One can dream, right?)

But, this is where things can get dangerous/expensive.

I am convinced that the right “fixer upper” is out there for our family and I just need to find it.

We are steadily out growing (truth be told have outgrown) our starter house. What was the perfect size for two adults and two cats now feels like one of those PODS you can get to store all your extra junk, thanks to the toddler.

I am convinced that I can find this perfect home, in the perfect neighborhood that just needs a little TLC.

While you are thinking, “Tara, that doesn’t sound too crazy. That seems like a frugal and sensible way of getting a bigger home for maybe less money.”

Well, in here lies the problem: I am convinced I can do all the remodeling myself.

“Gee. This house would be great if it had an open floor plan from the kitchen to the family room. No problem! I can just knock down this wall, I’m sure it isn’t load bearing.”

“Hmmmmm….I wonder if this carpeting has the original hardwood underneath of it. No matter, I will just rip it up with my bare hands and find out. If it is there, I alone, can refinish it because I know all about that thanks to ‘Flip or Flop.'”

I also think every kitchen needs a farmhouse sink, some room must have a reclaimed wood feature and I am obsessively looking up the comps of the neighborhood.

Every time I tell my poor family, “This is it. I am done looking, I will just wait awhile and take a break.” I am turning around sending a link to a new house or bugging my poor husband with links over Facebook messenger with “this is THE house.”

Usually, things end up falling apart, but someday I swear that I will eventually have my dream home, even if I have to build it myself!

Just call me “Handy Manny!”

PS: For a laugh, check out Awful People on House Hunters.

Tot Five: Be a Reading Rebel

This week is an important week when it comes to literacy and freedom. It’s banned book week!

This week celebrates and remembers all the different books that have been banned or challenged according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).

According to OIF the top three reasons why the books have been challenged was because they contained content that was either “sexually explicit,” “offensive language” or were “unsuited to any age group.”

In the Amber household we like to be mild rebels and read some of the books that are included in the very extensive list.

Here are the Tot Five books that we have read that are on the list with the reasons why they were banned.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling


Photo courtesy of Scholastic

Yes, even Hogwarts’ favorite wizard wunderkind couldn’t escape being included on the banned books list.

Between the years of 1990-1998 the series was ranked number 48 on the list and between 2000 and 2007 it climbed all the way to number one.

There were several reasons as to why Potter made the list.

Parents were worried that Harry and his friends were setting a bad example by the way they behaved. They were often depicted as rule breakers and challenged authority on a regular basis (just ask Snape).

Others added that the books progressed into rather scary territory. While the beginning few dealt with good versus evil they started to get even more dark and the stakes became a lot higher. This included main and beloved characters being violently killed and featured intense battles where good people often died.

And of course a big sticking point for a lot of people was the books surrounded themselves in a world of magic.

Many felt it glorified witchcraft which many feel is inherently evil and might be confusing for children to enter this world of fantasy that centers around something that people might consider “evil.”

But, despite the fact that the book has been constantly challenged, it doesn’t seem to be slowing Harry down at all. Hey, if Voldermort can’t stop him, nothing can!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle


Photo courtesy of Amazon

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear” is the perfect example of how ridiculous this whole banned book principle actually is.

This book was included on the banned book list because a board member on the State Board of Education in Texas in 2010 confused the author with Bill Martin who wrote a book for adults called “Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.”

It pays to do your homework, school board member!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak


Photo courtesy of Amazon

This book, originally published in 1967, was added to the banned book list because parents were upset that the main character, a boy named Max, intentionally caused trouble.

This shocked parents because they were used to children being portrayed as the perfect pinnacles of fresh faced youth, Dick and Jane. Now, you had a character who was a child that was acting like, well, a child.

People from the south were additionally upset because they felt that Max *spoilers* being sent to bed without any supper was a form of child abuse. (Apparently, they didn’t finish the book or they would have saw this was not the case.)

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne


Photo courtesy of tvtropes.org

Filed under the category of “you have to be kidding me,” “Winnie-the-Pooh” was banned throughout random areas of the United States because talking animals are an insult to God.

Some places in Turkey and the United Kingdom have banned it because they felt Piglet was offensive to Muslims, and other places felt the book revolves around Nazism. (I have no idea how Nazis play into “Winnie-the-Pooh”).

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed

We haven’t read this book together yet, but it is on my list so I wanted to include it.

Originally published in 1928, it ended up being banned by all public libraries in Chicago based on its “ungodly” influence because it depicted women in strong leadership roles.

In 1957 the Detroit Public Library banned the book for having “no value for children of today.”

Yes, how dare we use this antiquated book to teach our daughters to be grow into strong women, leaders. (That was dripping with sarcasm, just to be clear.)

As you can see, banning books is ridiculous. I believe that parents should set their own limits for what media they want their children to consume, this includes what books they read.

There are some books that deal with adult material that I would not feel comfortable letting my young child read, but I believe that decision should be mine and should not be left up to institutions. Banning books is a slippery slope.

What are your thoughts about banning books. Leave them in the comments below.










What Have I Gotten Myself Into

This weekend ended up being pretty low key, which was nice considering last weekend we had our getaway.

Friday was nice and relaxing and I visited one of my favorite TV shows, “The Office,” while I wrote Saturday’s blog and enjoyed a little glass of wine. (It had been a long week.)


Saturday we had planned to run a few errands locally and went out to breakfast to one of our favorite breakfast places in the mountains, Braddocks.

Recently we were realizing that we were relying too much on our iPhones as a way to entertain Lily while we were out at restaurants and going in the car.

So we have tried to pull back with the phones and tried to come up with alternatives for ways to entertain her when we are out at the restaurant. (In a future blog entry I will share what we pack in our “adventure kit.”) But, you can never go wrong with plastic dinosaurs. Lily’s favorite is T-Rex.

Lily enjoyed her pancakes that had a little chocolate included.


After breakfast is when the wheels really started to come off.

I have a confession.

I may have gotten in way over my head.

A couple of weeks ago when we were at Joann’s Lily saw this pattern for a dress that looked a lot like Princess Elena.

Photo courtesy of McCalls

Now, a person with my sewing ability (which is I can sew but I typically make things by just eyeballing it) would just say, “Oh honey, how about Mommy just goes to the Disney Store and buy you the costume?)

But, not me. I was like, “Sure honey! How hard can it be?”

Well, my first hiccup came when I tried to read the back of the envelope to see what I needed to get. I had no idea what I needed to buy.

Kevin shows the sewing project that he feels would be up to his speed.

Luckily in the middle of a Hobby Lobby I was able to figure out what I needed. I tried to get all the material and notions that I needed, but I couldn’t find everything. So we decided to travel to the next county to go to a Joann’s where I hope they would have everything that I would need.

Luckily they did and I was able to finish my shopping for the costume.

Unfortunately, this means that I am now locked into making the costume.

I keep on saying to myself, how hard can it be to make this costume? They make instructions. There is a pattern to follow, so it can’t be that hard! (Famous last words, I know.)

Saturday night we decided to stay in because the weather seemed a little gloomy so we had grilled cheese with tomato soup while we watched “Mary Poppins.”

Sunday I felt a little under the weather so we ended up not doing too much.

I just felt like I bit off a little more than I could chew because not only did I decide to make Lily’s costume, but I also decided that I was going to make princess themed bows to go with her outfits at Walt Disney World. I always seem to take on all of these projects before we go on vacation. Oh well, it will get done. (If you have a moment, please say a prayer for me.)

What adventures did you go on this weekend? Leave your comments below.


Packing Trick Makes the Process Easy

We just got back from a wonderful weekend away in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we were able to do a little camping, spend time at an amusement park and to stop at a few of our favorite shops.

But, before we could leave, we had to do the major chore of packing.

I know a lot of people hate to pack, but honestly I don’t really mind it all that much.

Part of the reason for that might be because of a system I have when it comes to packing our Mousekatot’s suitcase.

One of the biggest tips I share in “Mousekatots” is to gather all your kids’ clothes together and sort them into piles based on the day. For example, since we were going to be gone Saturday and Sunday, I made sure I had outfits together for those two days, plus a backup outfit (you know how it is), two pairs of pajamas, swim gear and some clothes for the campfire (i.e. long sleeves and pants).


Sorting clothes into piles based on outfits makes packing a breeze.

When you have your pile, you need to also include any underwear, hair accessories, socks, etc. for that day.

Once you have your piles all sorted out then it is time to get out my favorite travel accessory, gallon sized, storage bags. (Make sure you choose the bags that have the zipper on the top to make your life easier.)


Fool-proof outfit planning.

Take your bags and write on them, in sharpie, either the day the outfit corresponds to or the purpose of the outfit (pajamas, swimming, campfire).

This way, whoever is helping you get the Mousekatot ready for the day will know what they are to wear. Just toss them the bag and let them get to work.

Another benefit of having everything in bags is that it packs easily in the suitcase, and doesn’t shift too much during travel. Just make sure that you press all the air out of the bag before your pile them in the suitcase.


It might not look like it, but it all fit in the suitcase, I swear!

I know this might seem a little wasteful to use all of these plastic bags, but I end up saving them and using them for the next trip. I just keep them out of reach of Lily so she can’t hurt herself.

What tips do you have for making packing for a weekend getaway a little easier? Share them in the comments below!





Walmart Just Made My Life Easier

Disclaimer: I am not being compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

I really hate grocery shopping. Like HATE it. When we go grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s I don’t mind it as much, but it isn’t one of my favorite activities.

But, this changed thanks to a new service available through Walmart that is currently in the testing stages available only at select Walmarts in the country. Luckily for me, our local store is part of the testing phase.

Our local Walmart is currently offering a service where you can go online, order and pay for your groceries and then have them delivered to your car, all without having to set one foot into the store or even leave your car.

This is perfect if your Mousekatot has meltdowns in the store, if you don’t feel like dragging them into the store or if it is bad weather outside.

You start off by going to Walmart.com/grocery to see if you have a participating store. If there is one, then you are taken to the page where you can order your items.

The format is the same as any other online ordering site. There are menus on the side that divide everything into categories (i.e. dairy, meat, produce, etc.). You can also do a search to find a specific item. Once you find what you are looking for, you click add to cart and choose the quantity of the item.


2016-08-29 (1)
Have I mentioned how much I love online shopping.

You just keep adding all of your items in your cart and when you are ready, you hit check out.

I will say that we did experience some hiccups when it came to the website. There were issues loading and added some extra time to the online shopping experience.

When Kevin had talked to the guy that was our personal shopper, he said that a lot of people were complaining about that and they are working on making it run smoother.

When you are doing your shopping you have to pick a time for when you want your order ready. You have to pick a time that is the next day. So if you want to pick up your groceries on Sunday, then you need to place your order on Saturday.

When you place your order your receive an email with your confirmation and it says that someone will call you 15 minutes prior to your delivery time, which gives you an hour window. Then you are supposed to call this number back 10 minutes before you arrive to pick up your order.

We didn’t receive a phone call, but that wasn’t a big deal.

When we arrived at Walmart, we followed the signs indicating where the pickup spots were. Once we pulled in we saw a sign with the phone number, called and let the store know that we were here. The person on the other end said they would double check our order, to make sure nothing was forgotten, and would be right out.


Finding the pickup location was super easy.
It only took about 10 minutes and then our personal shopper was coming out of the back of the store with a flatbed cart full of blue plastic boxes that had our groceries.

He then let us know that he had to make a few substitutions because they didn’t have the exact product. It ended up working in our favor because the substitutions were for bigger or better products that we were never charged more money for.

He then asked us to sign saying that we received our items and put everything in the trunk of our car. He wouldn’t let us help. He also said that if we let them know next time, they will bring out a lollypop for our little girl.

We also received this really sweet bag of swag for being a first time customer.


This was a really nice touch to give this to all new first time customers.
Each of the bins at the store had a label on it like this one that is on the end of our toilet paper.


They really had a system in place for making sure all the orders will filled properly.
I was happily surprised that all of our cold items were still cold and our frozen items will still frozen.

This experience that I had with this new test program at Walmart was amazing. We would spend our Saturdays traveling over an hour to get to Trader Joe’s, but now I am very happy to say that we will be shopping at Walmart instead and using the online shopping option.

Since I really like this program, I wanted to share an offer with you. If you click this link you can save $10 on your first order (and additionally get me $10 off my next order).

I highly recommend this program because it has made grocery shopping so much easier.

Would you take advantage of this program? Leave your comments below.









Owl Post at the Mousekatot House

Every night we read a picture book to our Mousekatot right before we go to bed as part of our bedtime routine.

Around April I started reading at least a chapter from a longer format book each night as Lily lays in bed with the lights off to try and get her sleepy. (A Kindle and/or book lights are great for this.) We read a bunch of different types of books like “The Secret Garden,” “Ramona the Pest” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Lily loved Harry Potter and talked so much about it and his many adventures. (We might be having a Harry Potter themed birthday party this year. I won’t complain!)

Since Lily loved the book so much and I was looking for a way to get Lily to get excited about doing little chores around the house and to also try some new foods. We created a rewards chart that came from Harry Potter and if Lily filled up her reward chart with stars then Hedwig, Harry’s owl who took up residency in our house, would let Harry know and he would send a special gift to her from Hogwarts.

After receiving the chart, Lily worked toward filling up her chart by earning stars for cleaning up her toys when asked, helping to feed the cats, putting her dirty clothes in a hamper and trying to eat more fruit.

The time finally came and Lily had filled her chart. Hedwig flew to Hogwarts overnight and brought back a special package for Lily because she had completed her chart.

Owl Post

Lily was really excited to receive this special gift from Harry.

We love mystery toys

What Lily received was a Harry Potter blind box, where you don’t know which character you are going to get until you open the box. (Lily loves blind bags and blind boxes.)

We found a seller on eBay who was selling a complete tray of 12 boxes that we bought for a pretty good price and will dole out the boxes when she completes her charts or does something that is a pretty big accomplishment. (One day Hermonie borrowed Hedwig and sent a surprise to Lily through Hedwig because she finished reading the first Harry Potter book.)

Sorry the picture is so blurry. We were super excited to get Harry Potter.

So far this reward system has worked really well. She works toward getting the boxes and loves that Hedwig hangs around the house and can be a connection to Harry Potter.

When it comes time to really hit potty training hard and heavy we will probably do a similar type of system.


Speaking of winners, I wanted to announce:

Ann K. was the winner of the first every Mousekatots giveaway! Thank you to everyone who had entered and look for future giveaways. Congratulations to Ann!

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to keep your little ones motivated to help around the house? Leave your comments below!

Crazy Weekend for the Mousekatot Family

It has been a long and crazy weekend for the Mousekatot family, that is why you haven’t seen much here.

Having a nice long weekend, with both Friday and Monday off from work, lead to a four day weekend full of fun and also some unfortunate stuff too.


On Friday we were able to spend a wonderful evening with family at our annual Cousin Reunion.

We were able to visit with cousins from all over the country and our kiddos were able to spend time together, too.

There was a lot of laughing, playing and eating of Slovak foods.

Third and first generation cousins.



Saturdays are always super important to the three of us so we always try and do something fun and exciting. We refer to it as “Adventure Saturday.”

This past Saturday we decided to check out this huge book sale that a chain of used bookstores was having.

It was awesome! There were audio books, paperbacks, records, DVDs, CDs and anything you could think of.

The best part was nothing was over $2.

The huge turnout at the book sale.

There were a lot of different books and we were able to get a bunch of books for our Mousekatot, a few DVDs including seasons one and three (couldn’t find season two) of “Arrested Development” and some other books for us.

We also went to Gander Mountain to check out and see what they had for sale. We lucked out because we found Columbia sandals for $21 that were originally $61! We are now ready to tackle Walt Disney World this year with super comfortable shoes. Once we get back I will do a review and let you know how thy worked out.

Lily loved riding in the car at Gander Mountain. (Excuse the blurriness. My iPhone is struggling.)

Since both Kev and I are vegetarians (I try to eat vegan when I can) one of our favorite places to eat is called Mad Mex.

Coloring our cat picture.


Mad Mex is part of a local restaurant chain that has a lot of Tex-Mex food options for both omnivores and veggies. All of their options can be made vegetarian with either all veggies or swap in tofu. They also offer vegan cheese and sour cream to make the meal completely vegan.

Tofu taco with vegan sour cream.

I concluded our wonderful Saturday by starting to read one of the books that I picked up at the book sale. I am only a few chapters in and it seems like it is going to be a pretty good book.




Sunday was a nice lazy day that included swimming at our in-laws, eating pizza and getting ready to take on the new week.


This is the day our hot water heater rusted and the bottom fell out and water was all over. We tried to get a hot water heater from a big box store and they miscommunicated and we wouldn’t be able to get it installed that day. Luckily, we found someone that could that day and it ended up working out. I am so thankful for having hot water.

So that was pretty much how the weekend shook out. Despite the hot water heater and also the fact that it looks like my iPhone is losing battery power like crazy, I had a great weekend.


Do you did anything exciting this weekend? Leave your comments below.

Dory’s Fish Food

I don’t know about you, but Dory and crew from “Finding Dory” are a big hit in our house since we saw the movie at the drive-in this summer.

When I was on Pinterest, pinning things that I am sure I will never make, I came across this really cute recipe from Raising Little Superheroes.

It combines non-buttered popcorn, Funfetti cake mix, white chocolate, sprinkles and the “Finding Dory” goldfish crackers.

It is really simple to make and even the kiddos can get in the fun by helping to mix it all together.

You start the recipe by making the popcorn while melting the white chocolate. Then you mix the popcorn, white chocolate, cake mix, sprinkles and goldfish crackers together, spread it out on a cookie sheet and let it dry for about 30 minutes, then you break it into pieces and enjoy.

Just a word of caution for little ones, check the popcorn for lose popcorn kernels so they don’t choke.

It turned out really good and was tasty and a fun recipe for families to make together.

For the full recipe and instructions, please click here.

Our finished product before we broke it apart.