Soaking Up the Last of Summer

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It is hard to believe that summer is almost over. It seems like it was just Fourth of July and now kids are going back to school and Halloween candy is making its appearance on store shelves.

We try our best to do everything on our “Summer Bucket List” but inevitability we realize that we can’t get everything done.

This year was especially difficult because our weather was more rainy and cooler on Saturdays, the days that we usually go and do our adventures.

After trying for about a month, we finally made it to the Soak Zone at Idlewild park last weekend.

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Included with a ticket to Idlewild park is Soak Zone, a small water park.

While we had been to the rest of the park through this year, we hadn’t been to the water park portion.

When I say it is a smallish water park, it is by no means tiny. There are about five different areas in the water park.

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Map courtesy of Idlewild

Soak Zone includes an awesome wave pool (which is where we spent most of our time), I think four water slides (it could be more), a lazy river type attraction, a little kids play area and a bigger kids play area that features a dump bucket with a bunch of kid sized water slides, plus a stand alone dump bucket.

When we first arrived last Saturday it seemed like it was going to be a little cool and very cloudy.

However, luck was on our side and it became pretty sunny and warm and we made it out before a storm hit.

Personally, my favorite place to spend time was at the Wowabunga Wavepool.

Lily could swim around and splash between wave sessions, and when the waves began, we sat on the “beach” and let the waves rush up on us.

Lily seemed to really enjoy the little kids splash area.

The pool is only about one foot deep and features tubes that spray water up and down. Kids even have the option of turning a valve that controls how much water sprays out.

We had such a wonderful day full of lots of family fun and memories.

We sure tired out Lily by spending almost four hours splashing around.

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We finished the day off by taking a ride on the carousel and grabbing a quick lunch before leaving. Lily was asleep before we hit the main road to home.

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Did you get to do a lot on your “Summer Bucket List?” Leave a comment below.


Game On

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Being a parent means that it can be difficult to find time to go out on a date. But, it is still important to make time for taking a break from being a parent and just focus on being the two of you.

While we don’t go out that much, we have started making date time on Fridays by playing a board game while enjoying some wine after our daughter has gone to bed.

This is the perfect solution because we don’t have to leave and we get to dive into our collection of board games, which doesn’t cost any additional money.

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Depending on what types of games you like to play, you could spend all evening playing or just an hour. For us, we usually like to find a game that takes about an hour and half to play.

When you are looking for a new board game it can be difficult to figure out which game you want to play because there is a huge selection available both in stores and online. Here are just a few of our favorite selections.

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Photo courtesy of Amazon

“Betrayal at House on the Hill”

We really enjoy this game a lot. The premise is that your character (or characters if you are just playing with two people) have stumbled upon this house. You take your time building the house by drawing room cards and laying them down.

Once you draw too many “haunt” cards, that is when the fun really happens.

Depending on what card was drawn, what room you were in and who drew it will decide on what “story” in the book you will follow.

The final part of the game is following the instructions and watching the scenario play out.

Depending on how long it takes to draw the final “haunt” card, the game can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to complete.

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Photo courtesy of Target

“Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City”

If you are a fan of the computer game “Sim City” then you would like this game.

You spend time building up your city, winning money based off of what business you put in your town and trying to make your city bigger than your opponent’s.

What I really like about this game is that there are different ways to play and different strategies on how to win.

Plus, having a little friendly competition makes it extra fun.

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Photo courtesy of techartgeek.com

“Mysterium”

If you are looking for a game that will test your mental connection as a couple, then you will want to try Mysterium.

In this game the set up is sort of like the game Clue. You have to find your suspect, the weapon and the place where the murder happened.

However, one of you is the ghost and the other person is a psychic. It is up to the ghost to use beautiful cards of fanciful images to try and relay this information to your partner. You can’t say anything, but just give them the card and they to try and interperate it to solve the case.

These cards can help you see if you two are on the same wavelength.

These are a few of our favorite board games to play on our date night. But, you don’t need to have in-depth games to play. Just a simple round of a card game or even video games can make a quiet night at home more exciting.

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Smoke & Mirrors

I am part of the problem.

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Motherhood is messy. It is messy, and hard and not for the faint of heart. Yet, this isn’t a side that we usually see.

Behind all the pristine photos of sunny Saturday breakfasts, art projects and crafts gone right is, most likely, a fight about how you have to eat something other than just the chocolate chips on your pancakes, or no you can’t put glue directly on the table.

But, we never see this.

We are made to believe that all children are perfect, all houses are spotless and every party and gift giving occasion is Pinterest worthy.

Well, the jig is up.

I am here to tell you that it is hard and that we need to start cutting ourselves so slack when it comes to parenting.

For example, in the photo above, we were having a melt down because we wanted to drive a blue Corvette because we felt it was our size.

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This photo, we didn’t want to take at all. We were tired and just didn’t want to have our picture taken.

Did I post these photos on the corresponding blog posts? No. Just like everyone else, I choose to forget the bad and remember the good.

And you know what? It’s OK to show the difficult side of family life.

It’s OK to have a cranky kid sometimes. It’s OK if they end up coated in chocolate. It’s OK if a craft doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would.

The only thing that isn’t OK is if you feel like you never measure up to other parents.

Everyone’s parenting journey is different. Some have more bumps in the road than others, but everyone has their fair share of struggles.

So you never have to feel like everyone else has it together while you are worn down negotiating with your toddler about bedtimes and wishing you could just lock yourself in the closet with a bag of Doritos just to have five minutes of peace.

Because behind every sunshine smile of a little one is a nervous Mom or Dad just praying that they could get just one photo to capture this beautiful memory to hold on to when the days are long and the houses are messy.


Making Sweets With our Sweetie

Valentine’s Days seems to be a pretty popular holiday with our little one.

I don’t know if it is because of the hearts or all the pink and red (Lily’s favorite color), but she is a big fan.

One of her favorite things to do is bake (mostly because it involves sugar).

My Mom was shopping and came across a huge block of rice crispy treat that she thought we could cut into little shapes with cookie cutters.

We then bought lollipop sticks, cellophane bags and ribbon to make them into little rice crispy treat pops.

A few nights ago we sat down to make them and it turned out pretty well.

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The cookie cutters did a good job just as long as you have an adult help push down the cutter and you might have to use a knife to cut around the outside edges.

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What would a night of baking be without taking a little time to take a photo.

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After the hearts were cut out, I then applied the icing and put the sticks into place. This is better for an adult to do because it could get really messy icing and you have to have a little finesse to get the stick in the heart without pushing it all the way through.

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After the icing went on, then Lily got the pops back and added sprinkles.

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We ended up having to let the icing harden overnight before putting it in the bags. (We tried one and the icing smudged a little.) I think they are going to turn out really cute. But, even if they don’t Lily still had a great time making them.

Do you have any fun Valentine’s Day activities? Leave your comments below.

 


Thumb Wars

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Being a parent is hard.

There are tons of websites and blogs that serve as a prime example of how difficult it can be, but there are also many moments that leave you wondering if you are made of tough enough stuff.

One such incident happened after our dentist appointment this Monday.

To provide a little background, our Mouskatot is a thumb sucker. She always had been. Try as hard as I could, I just couldn’t get her to latch on to a pacifier. (I wanted this option because I knew I could take away the pacifier, but I couldn’t take away her thumb. I jokingly suggested that I would chop it off and our little one said no I couldn’t because blood would go everywhere. I think we have a little Wes Craven in the making.)

She doesn’t suck her thumb a whole lot, just usually when she is sleepy and it would fall it once she feel asleep.

I knew that when we went to the dentist, that he was going to bring up the thumb sucking issue.

After her exam we found out that she has perfect teeth, and luckily the thumb sucking has caused only a little damage, nothing major, but if it continues it could lead to problems down the road.

Now I was faced with the challenge of how to break this bad habit that has provided so much comfort for her since birth.

The dentist did talk to her and said that she needed to be a big girl and stop sucking her thumb, and once we got out to the car she broke down and cried.

My heart broke right along with hers. It was like watching her lose her most favorite thing in the world. At one point I was trying to find a way to make it all better and I asked her if she could have anything in the world what would it be (I would have given it to her) and through tears she said, “To suck my thumb!”

She is a blanket baby that has to snuggle with her blankie for comfort and in goes the thumb.

So when we got home my mom was trying to come up with some ideas on what to do.

The internet did have a variety of options including:

  • Wrap the thumb through the wrist with an ace bandage.
  • There are also these mid-evil torture devices that are a rubber thumb guard that has a strap attached around it that goes around the wrist.
  • Get her a necklace that is made to bite on and that way she can transfer the oral fixation to another device
  • Show her a video on what it is like to get braces put on. (Nothing gory, but just something that shows the process.)

Well, I decided to give the last two a shot.

I had a necklace that I received as a gift from my mom when Lily was just a baby and is made for teething. I gave it to her and she really enjoyed wearing it. She got used to putting it in her mouth when she had the desire to suck her thumb.

Now a day removed and she doesn’t have to rely on it too much.

What I think really pushed her over the edge was watching the braces video.

Like I said it wasn’t gory, it was something made for kids and it just showed the process of putting the cement on, putting in the tongue guard, etc.

She watched intently and afterwards we had a talk.

Being a person that had to have braces I was able to tell her a little about it and how it required a lot of work to take care of and sometimes it was uncomfortable.

Since then she really hasn’t sucked her thumb.

When she woke up this morning she said that she forgot and sucked it once, but then thought “no I don’t need to do this. I can cuddle Pay (her blankie) like this.”

She found a way to still snuggle her blanket near her face without needing her thumb and it really worked.

I also turned to one of the time honored traditions of parenting (bribing) and said that we would go and get her nails done at a kids salon and spa this weekend as well as get her a “Chubby Puppy” (whatever that is) that she has been asking for if she didn’t suck her thumb anymore this week.

So far, so good, but only time will tell. But, I think that we maybe have crossed this hurdle.

Was your child a paci user thumb sucker? How did you break them of the habit. Leave your comments below.


Tot Five: A Cure for the Vacation Hangover

When you are finished with your vacation, one of the hardest things you have to deal with what I call the “vacation hangover.” Your heart is still in the vacation destination that you left, but you are now at home and reality has hit.

Work around the house, errands and work outside of the house, remind us why we went on vacation in the first place.

Here are my Tot Five ways you can get over your vacation hangover and back into everyday life.

1. Look back on your vacation photos or movies

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By looking at your vacation photos and any video that you might have taken, can help you recall all the little moments that made your vacation so special.

Seeing photos of your little Mousekatot giggling on Dumbo or eating a Mickey Ice Cream bar for the first time will help ease you back into reality.

2. Watch your favorite Disney film

 

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Photo courtesy of Doctor Disney

 

Watching your favorite Disney movie is like almost being back in Walt Disney World.

Since many of the parks take their cues from the films you can always feel like you are back in your favorite movie flying on the Magic Carpets with Aladdin, eating in the Beast’s castle or in Pooh’s honeypot going through the pages of his book.

3. Cook your favorite Disney recipe

 

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Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

 

One of my favorite things about our Disney vacations is all of the delicious food that is available at the plethora of restaurants.

By going online and doing a search for Disney’s recipes, you can find all sorts of options available.

People in the Disney community are always anxious to share any recipes that they might pick up from the various Disney chefs in the resort.

Also, if you have any Disney cookbooks from either Food and Wine Festival or other special events, you can create some delicious meals that will bring back delicious memories.

4. Scrapbook

Wiether you decided to do traditional paper scrapbooking or digital scrapbooking, it can be a wonderful way to relive those memories.

Adding quotes or writing out a memory that corresponds to the photo, can help you relive the magical moments of your vacation.

5. Plan for your next vacation

This is my personal favorite.

It doesn’t matter if you plan on going on your next vacation next year, five years from now, or you don’t have any idea, you can still plan and play by picturing your dream vacation.

Pick out everything from your hotel, to the restaurants you want to eat and even pick your Fastpasses+.

Since you are just pretending, go crazy and plan your dream vacation.

Do you have any tips of how you avoid the dreaded vacation hangover? Leave your comments below.

 

 

 


Prepare to Let Your Belly Shake Like a Bowl Full of Jelly

The imaginers at Walt Disney World are smart.

They know that people go nuts during the annual Food and Wine Festival in Epcot.

When we were there last week it was so hard to move because the booths were jam packed with people waiting in line to savor international food and beverages.

So how can Disney bring more magic to the resort’s holiday season?  By adding international themed food booths to Epcot’s Holidays Around the World.

 

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

Joining the various seasonal activitites that have been a long standing tradition at Epcot during the holiday season will be these food booths.

The Disney Food Blog has an awesome entry about all the various booths, complete with photos of some of the holiday themed delacasies that have been offered in the past.

Germany

Called Proust! The German themed holiday pavilion has been a staple of the holiday festivitites for awhile. But, this year their offerings are expanded to include an artisan cheese plate, Sauerbraten with red cabbage and spätzle, Williams Punch, the Carmel Kiss and Gluwein.

If the spätzle is anything like the kind that is served in the German restaurant, it should be delicious.

America

Disney decided to stick to the holiday traditions when it came time to create the menu for the American booth.

This year, guests can enjoy roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, pork tenderloin with green bean casserole, roasted  sweet potato wedges and a champagne Demi-Glace.

Don’t forget the alcoholic beverages such as Firenog, Shipyard Eggnog White Porter Aged on Bourbon, and more.

Switzerland

While this country doesn’t have a perminant presence in Epcot, they will be represented this holiday season with a booth situated between France and Morocco.

Food selections including duck confit, dumplings and roasted Brussels sprouts with a fig reduction.

My personal favorite offering at this booth would be the cheese fondue in a bread bowl.

Sachertorte will be prepared with chocolate cake, apricot jam and dark chocolate glaze in addition to other tasty temptations.

American South

The holidays are all about comfort food. That is why comfort foods are going to shine at a booth dedicated to this region of the United States.

Hoppin’ John (a traditional treat for New Year’s Eve with black eyed peas, ham hocks and kale over rice with cornbread crumbles), blackened catfish with white cheddar grits and okra, tomato and onion stew and a chocolate pecan tart will be available.

Spain/Latin America

 

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

In honor of the Feast of the Three Kings a special booth has been erected that will offer a variety of foods from this region. Offerings include a shredded beef tamale with avocado creama, roasted pork with mashed yucca and pickled green bananas.

Of course traditional Three Kings Bread will be available for purchase.

Beverages will include Coquito (coconut milk) and for the adults, a rum floater.

There will also be plenty of holiday offerings throughout the parks including Mickey Santa Hat Cupcake, gingerbread ice cream, panettone and more.

What holiday treats sound most tempting to you? Leave your comments below.