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!

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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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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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A New Meal with Character

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Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

When you have a little one who is obsessed with seeing the Disney characters up close and personal it can be difficult to try and track them down all over the parks.

This is why, in my opinion, the best option is to plan a character meal.

There are lots to choose from that cover all three major meals and offer a bunch of different characters.

This week, the Disney Parks Blog announced that a special breakfast featuring some of Disney’s most popular couples will be offered this spring.

This new breakfast will take place at Trattoria al Forno located at the Boardwalk Resort.

Currently, the power couples from “The Little Mermaid” and “Tangled” are slated to make appearances at the breakfast.

Right now, information regarding prices and menu have not been released yet.

If you are looking for a great character breakfast that is currently offered is Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.

You get to see Mickey and the gang, the buffet has plenty of traditional breakfast staples plus some additional offerings that are unique to the restaurant.

When we have gone in the past it hasn’t been that busy so we were able to spend a lot of time with the characters and got some really cute photos.

Tour the Empire

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Jedis and padawans are going to want to pay a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year as new Star Wars themed events and tours debut this year.

Recently, a variety of events have already been rolled out including:

  • Star Wars Launch Bay: A space that celebrates all things Star Wars including authentic replicas, making of “Rouge One” footage and a “Meet the Makers” film.
  • “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away,” currently a daytime show at the studios will see the addition of AWR Troopers from “Rouge One.” A new sequence has already been added to the show.
  • “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,” that during the holidays joined the popular “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” will continue to be shown throughout the year.
  • Randomized tracks will return to Star Tours–The Adventures Continue attraction. Instead of the ride starting at the same planet of Jakku, it will be randomized to start and end at different locations. Through out the year, scenes from “Star Wars: Episode VIII” will be added.

For those who live and breathe The Force, the ultimate tour has been created.

This seven hour tour completely immerses the guest in the different experiences available in the park.

According to a release from Disney here is what will be included in the tour:

  • “A Star Wars “all-in-the-know” tour guide”
  • “Priority boarding for Star Tours — The Adventures Continue”
  • “Encounter two Star Wars characters (Chewbacca and Kylo Ren) at Star Wars Launch Bay”
  • “Screening of “Star Wars: Path of the Jedi”
  • “Enjoy Star Wars themed menu items during dinner at Backlot Express”
  • “A spot in the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, which includes themed sweets and specialty beverages, as well as reserved viewing for the Star Wars: A Galacic Spectacular fireworks show”

For the younglings (ages 4-12), who are a part of the tour, they can also train to harness The Force in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple.

The cost of the tour is $129 per person (with taxes and gratuity included) and will be offered Mondays and Saturdays.

Book your reservation by calling 407-WDW-PLAY.

Are you looking forward to these new additions to Hollywood Studios? Leave your comments below.

Let me leave you will a little taste of the regular March of the Stormtroopers:

 

 

Tea for Three

Between Christmas and New Year, both my husband and I were off from work.

This meant we had the opportunity to spend a lot of time as a family and to do a variety of activities, while also spending some much needed time relaxing at home.

One afternoon we packed up the family in the car and headed south to Morgantown, West Virginia, home of the WVU Mountaineers.

I have always loved this town. It is a cross between a big city and small town. Since it is a college town it does have a variety of businesses, museums, shopping destinations and more.

One of our favorite places to visit is The Tea Shoppe at Seneca Center.

Situated in a little shopping area that resembles an old factory is The Tea Shoppe.

Inside guests are greeted by almost every type of tea imaginable as well as really cute tea accessories including little ceramic tea sets for your little Mousekatots.

But for me the real hidden gem is the dining room.

Here you are seated at a table with fine linens and china. The atmosphere feels classy but not stuffy.

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While their menu has a variety of options including salads, quiches, sandwiches and more, we always go for the Afternoon tea.

Served on a three tiered tray are a variety of tea sandwiches, a selection of pastries and a scone with clotted cream and lemon curd.

You also get your own pot of tea full of your choice of all the teas they have to offer.

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For our most recent trip I decided to try the White Chocolate Mouse tea. It was absolutely delicious. It had a wonderful sweet flavor that wasn’t over powering but still had a slight white chocolate taste. I honestly prefer this tea to hot chocolate any day.

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Photo courtesy of The Tea Shoppe

And for your littlest of tea party companions, they offer a children’s tea where they can get a pot of hot chocolate or lemonade (we requested orange juice because Lily doesn’t like the other two things), grapes, a sandwich of their choice, cheese cubes and a pastry.

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The grapes are missing because Lily couldn’t stand them on her plate. Also, her peanut butter and jelly sandwich is cut into the shape of a Christmas tree.

The prices for these two teas ($15.95 for the afternoon tea and $9.95 for the children’s tea) might be a little steep you are paying for quality tea (which can be expensive) and the experience.

I always like to take Lily here because it is a way to teach her manners and etiquette, plus it gives her the opportunity to dress up nice for an afternoon.

And if you think this experience is just for the ladies and little girls and your hubby or son won’t enjoy it, you would be surprised.

The atmosphere isn’t all that girly and the little gentleman in your life might enjoy being able to practice his manners (like holding open doors and holding out the chair for his Mommy.)

The Tea Shoppe is also very child friendly. They frequently have various children’s themed tea parties.

For example, at 10 a.m. on Jan. 28, they are going to host A Frozen Tea Party that will feature visits with both Anna and Elsa, while enjoying lunch and a variety of activities.

The cost for the event is $22.

But, no matter if you want to attend a special event or just go out for tea, The Tea Shoppe is wonderful place to take your Mousekatot.

Do you have a place that you like to visit with your family where your practice your manners? Leave it in the comments below.

As a bonus round, here is a cute website that shares tips on how to teach tea party manners to kids.

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.

The Bite: Cheshire Café

 

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

The Magic Kingdom has several charming places that are hidden away in plain sight.

One such place is nestled in Fantasyland near the boarder between this land and Tomorrowland.

It is called Cheshire Café and looks like something straight out of a storybook.

This little kiosk, that resembles a little cottage complete with sundae shop chairs and decorative umbrellas offers an assortment of light breakfast options and quick grab and go snacks.

This location does not participate in the Disney Dining Plan, but nothing is more than $5.

This restaurant would be the perfect place to grab a quick, toddler friendly breakfast before you take on the attractions in Fantasyland.

Menu items include:

  • Assorted Cereals with Milk
  • Muffins
  • Whole Fruit
  • Simply Orange Orange Juice
  • Minute Maid Raspberry-Lemonade Slushy
  • Mocha Iced Coffee
  • Hot Tea
  • Smartwater
  • Minute Maid Lemonade Slushy
  • French Vanilla Iced Coffee
  • Nestle Hot Cocoa
  • Coffee (regular and decaf)
  • Dasani Bottled Water

 

*Insert shameless plug here*

For more tips about other restaurants that would be a good fit for your Toddler as well as to what attractions will be a hit with your Mouskatot, pick up a copy of Mousekatots today.

They make wonderful Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.

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Turning Faults into Thanksgiving

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. As I am writing this our Lily is rolling all over our bed covering me with her most prized possessions, her two favorite blankets. She had just kneed me in the head and gave me a kiss to make me better.

She is also asking if she can write for my blog when she gets older, which is just the sweetest, while she is holding her new Duffy Bear that we got her for her birthday.

While this is pretty close to my idea of perfect, my day didn’t start out this great.

The morning included scrubbing poop out of not just one pair of underwear, but two, the house was an absolute mess and I had only a few minutes to get ready for work. With all of the stress of the morning and other situations taking place in our lives a meltdown happened. Not a meltdown for the toddler, but a meltdown for me.

I was sad because I felt I wasn’t measuring up as a mom. I was sad because we used store bought decorations for Lily’s third birthday party last Saturday instead of me going Pinterest crazy and making everything. I was sad because we can’t find a bigger house to accommodate our family as we are exploding out of this one. I was sad because no matter how hard I try I feel like I just can’t progress in life.

While fighting with my computer at work I felt absolutely hopeless.

But, then I came home to this:

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And I realized that it was the day before Thanksgiving and there are bigger things out there than paper Mickey decorations and iMovie troubles at work.

For me, feeling like I am never doing my best, is a demon that I have to face and realizing all the blessings I have, is the antidote.

This morning, my wonderful husband reminded me that Lily was so excited for her party that she won’t remember that I didn’t sew her a Minnie Mouse costume to wear to her party. She will remember the Happy Birthday banner from Walmart that hung in our kitchen all week long in honor of her “birthday week” that made her so happy.

And you know what this is true.

Children don’t know that things can always be better. They are just excited with how things are now. She might have an accident in her underwear and be upset one minute and in the next minute is running around the house yelling about “Paw Patrol.”

So this Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for the usual food, roof over head and good health, I will also be Thankful for the things that drive me almost to the edge. These are the things that challenge us to be better people. These are the challenges that really call us on the carpet to appreciate the simple things in life and to realize that we are only human. We will mess up and life will disappoint us on more occasions than we would like.

But, in the end it will work out. Maybe not the way we want, but the way we need it to.

And for that, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Love,

The Mousekatot Family

 

Tot Five: Movies for After You Gobble

Picture this: Thanksgiving dinner has ended, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes and you need to get them cleaned up and in the dishwasher so you can finally relax.

In the other room, your children are at that point where they are sleepy from the turkey, but also wound up because of the holiday.

What do you do to buy yourself some time to get the kitchen cleaned up?

You pop in a new family friendly flick to keep the Mousekatot’s at bay.

1. “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration”

This special, hosted by the sibling duo of Derek and Julianne Hough will lead the two-hour special starting at 8 p.m. on ABC Thanksgiving night.

What makes this great is first of all it is Disney, pretty much a promotional video for how beautiful their parks are, and second of all it is already on TV which will make it easy to just turn the channel when the time arrives.

2. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”

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This is one of my all time favorites and a must watch every year. (I think Snoopy has the right idea for the Thanksgiving dinner.)

The only downside, beside Peppermint Patty inviting her annoying self to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving, is that it is less than a half hour long. It won’t buy you too much time to do a massive cleanup.

3. “Garfield’s Thanksgiving”

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If you pair this film with the aforementioned Charlie Brown movie you can have almost an hour to clean the kitchen.

It is a little harder to find, I think we have our copy because we bought a boxed set of all the Garfield holiday movies, but it is really worth it.

Jon’s Grandma, who comes in to save the day and Thanksgiving dinner is an absolute hoot, and the meaning behind the film is full of heart.

4. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

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I have always considered this a Thanksgiving movie because it is right between Halloween and Christmas, which are the two holiday prominently featured in the film.

This stop animated classic film from Tim Burton can be a little spooky for little ones so you will want to make sure it is suitable for your Mousekatots.

The message of being true to yourself and using your strengths in life is one that is really important.

5. “White Christmas”

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Technically this is a Christmas movie, but it is a nice way to usher in the holiday season.

Even though “White Christmas” came out over 50 years ago, it is still a classic that is full of humor and heart and is just beautiful and elegant.

You might get some eye rolls from your Mousekateens, but just give it time and they will be glued to the television.

What films are part of your family’s holiday traditions to kick off the Christmas season? Leave your comments below.