We Have a Three Year Old

 

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It is so hard to believe that our little Mousekatot is already three years old. Time has flown by too quick.

We had a birthday party for her earlier in the month, which I will do a blog post about later, but on her actual birthday we wanted to do something special to commemorate the day.

We started off the day having breakfast at her favorite local restaurant.

The servers were very nice and even came out and sang to her and gave her a special dessert.

We then went to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum because Lily wanted to go back to the Daniel Tiger exhibit.

In addition to visiting with Daniel Tiger, Lily also played with various types of balls in the garage area of the museum and tested out different cars that she created and even made a track where she raced Matchbox cars.

We also took Lily to Build-A-Bear so she could make a new stuffed friend. She choose to make Ruble from Paw Patrol. (Also, the clothes for the bears also fit Duffy the Disney bear.)

We ended the day by having dinner at one of her favorite restaurants that is a local Tex-Mex chain.

I am so glad and thankful that we were able to celebrate the day with Lily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No Bones About It

We seem to live in the community of second hand sales.

Through late spring and early fall, people are always having garage and yard sales. We also have a lot of second hand sales that are tailored to specific interests.

For example, we look to keep an eye out for children’s sales. These sales are often huge and feature a variety of items from clothing, children’s furniture, all kinds of toys, strollers, highchairs, etc.

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Just Between Friends sale at David Lawrence Convention Center

For us, we are always trying to find unique toys that might be a little older and therefor difficult to find elsewhere. For example, Lily is really into VeggieTales right now. (Like obsessed. You have no idea how many times I have heard the “We are the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” song.) If you have ever looked to find VeggieTales toys online recently, it is difficult to find these toys online that are a complete set. So I thought this might be the best place to find these toys.

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So many dollhouses to choose from.

We struck out.

But, we got a really cute Scooby Doo haunted house, a bunch of books and a Hello Kitty toy food truck. The prices were a little higher than what we had experienced when we went to different sales from this organization in the past.

Since we were only at the sale for about two hours, we decided to give Lily the choose of either going to the zoo or the museum. She chose the museum because she wanted to see the dinosaurs.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has a wonderful dinosaur exhibit. It features plenty of complete skeletons and a lot of interactive displays. (Look for a future blog that explores this topic in depth.)

One of the areas that is really cute and perfect for your Mousekatot is the dig area.

Here participants are given googles, a chisel and a brush and allowed to go and uncover some dinosaurs in an excavation site.

Lily really loved digging and uncovering the dinosaurs.

One of the reasons why we visit the museum so often is because we have a family membership to the Carnegie Museum system. This means we can visit the museums as many times as we want without having to pay. We received this membership as a family Christmas present last year, and it will be on the top of our list again this Christmas.

We ended the day by going to one of Lily’s favorite restaurants, Mad Mex, which is part of a local chain. Her favorite food is Mexican and Mad Mex is Mexican with a little bit of California flair.

We really had a wonderful weekend that was full of wonderful family time and adventure.

How did you spend your weekend? Leave your comments below.

 

 

Tot Five: It’s Fall Y’All

 

Fall is my favorite season out of the whole year. I love Halloween, sweatshirts, the changing of the leaves and pumpkin spice everything.

Fall is also the perfect time to go out on a lot of family outings to enjoy all this season has to offer.

Here are our Tot Five ways to enjoy Fall with your family.

1. Go Pumpkin Picking

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This is a no-brainer. Taking your toddler to pick their own pumpkin from a pumpkin patch is so much and makes great photos. Plus, your toddler will enjoy getting a little dirty. No doubt they will want to try and find the biggest pumpkin in the whole patch.

2. Go Apple Picking

Going hand-in-hand with picking a pumpkin is apple picking. A lot of places have both of these options in the same location. You get to have fun when you get home eating them and cooking with them. Crockpot applesauce is a great way to make use of all the tons of apples that end up picking.

3. Go to a Day at the Farm

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We are very lucky where we live because we are surrounded by many farms that offer wonderful kids days at the farm. A lot of these places have the aforementioned pumpkin picking with a lot more different fun activities including hay rides, no too scary haunted houses, scarecrows and more.

4. Fall Themed Crafts at Home

Pinterest is full of a bunch of ideas to create fall crafts with your Mousekatots. Some of our favorites include a paper plate candy apple, an apple mask and tissue paper trees.

Just by doing a quick search through Pinterest, you can find several ideas to help pass the chilly evenings.

5. Corn Maze

Corn mazes can be so much fun with all age groups.

The younger tots will need to be carried, but ones that are a little older will have a blast leading the pack through the various twists and turns of the maze.

A word of caution, make sure your little one’s shoes are tied tight. You don’t want to loose a shoe and have to retrace your steps through the maze to find a lost shoe. (Been there.)

Do you have any plans this fall? Leave your comments below.

 

Just Call Me Mrs. Hughes

The other morning we were going through our usual routine, Kevin was putting the dishes away, I was getting ready for work and Lily was buried under the covers in our bed watching VeggieTales.

Suddenly, we heard a “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Come here!”

We both go into the bedroom thinking that maybe she had hurt herself, but there she was watching her tablet, snuggled under the covers. She looks over at us and says, “Can I have my juice? In a sippy cup? The owl one?”

It was at this point that Kevin looked at me and said, “You know this is just like Downton Abbey. She is the upstairs and we are the downstairs.”

And I realized no truer words have been said. Here are the ways your toddler is the upstairs staff of Downton Abbey while you, the parents, are the group that live downstairs.

 

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Photo courtesy of Paste Magazine

You are always on call

It doesn’t matter what time it is or what you are doing, when Lady or Lord Toddler, the true master of the house calls, then you need to respond and react to their demands.

All they need is a little bell to ring anytime they need something.

 

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Photo courtesy of Readbreatherelax.com

 

Lord help you if you make a mistake

There is a fine line that you have to walk when you are in servitude to Lord or Lady Toddler.

If said orange juice is in the ghost cup and they wanted the owl cup, be prepared for a Countess level throw down.

Instead of throwing you shade, like the Dowager Countess of Grantham, it will be a full on, temper tantrum.

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Remember your place

Just remember your place.

While your toddler ranks in the upstairs level of society, you will forever be in the downstairs group. making sure all of their needs are meet.

Everything from fetching toys under the couch to wiping bottoms falls to those downstairs.

However, you wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

 

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

The Not So Labor Weekend

It is hard to believe that summer has unofficially ended with the arrival of Labor Day. The warm and hot days of sun and fun just flew by. It isn’t that I am sad for fall to arrive because I love the season, I am just worried about what comes after fall.

This past weekend was amazing because we had a little bit of down time and some adventure thrown in.

Friday after work we did a little shopping with my parents and went out to eat at Red Robin. (Fun fact: Did you know that if you get a salad as a side that it is bottomless just like the fries! I had no idea.)

Saturday morning we went to look at a possible house that we might be interested in buying. (Nothing may come of it, but you never know.) We also relaxed, ordered our groceries from Walmart and then had a nice date night in after our Mousekatot went to bed. We watched “Love & Friendship” and was really funny and a great movie for people who love “Pride and Prejudice” and Jane Austen.

We also decorated our house for fall/Halloween. No one was more excited than the Mousekatot.

Sunday was our “Adventure Day” this week and we went to the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Fair.

 

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Our little Tinkerbell at the Ren Fair.
We had a really good time watching the different events like the joust and watched  a juggler who ate fire, juggled knives and jumped rope on a big ball.

After having watched a few of the events, we decided to do a little shopping at the mall; Tinkerbell costume and all!

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Monday afternoon we bid farewell to summer with a final swim at my husband’s parent’s pool. Our little mermaid has grown so much in  her swimming ability over the summer, we are so proud of her. She is taking to the water just like a little fish.

 

We had a wonderful weekend spending time together as a family. We are always very sad about the weekend being over, but we look forward to the next week’s adventures.

How did you celebrate the holiday weekend:? Leave your comments below.

PS: This was my favorite photo from the weekend:

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Recap

We have started to shop for our upcoming trip and trying to snag some end of summer deals before they are all gone.

The day was started out at the place the furnished almost our entire home, Ikea. (When you are newlyweds living at home, you need to buy a bunch of stuff, Ikea is the place.)

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I could seriously spend all day here!

We didn’t buy anything, but I did get to see the kitchen that I absolutely love.

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I am in love with this kitchen. Although, I could never have glass cabinets. I couldn’t keep them neat enough.

 

Before we left we did get a few pretzels because Lily didn’t eat much breakfast so you know, the best thing to do is give her a carb.

But, it did provide me with this wonderful photo of the hubby as he said, “Look, I’m a boxer” as he shoved this portion of a pretzel in his mouth.

 

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I seriously love this man.

We did score some great bargains. (The Mousekatot is the one that got the most stuff, as usual.)

I wanted to do Disney Bounding with her outfits (where you take a lose interpretation of a Disney character and dress like that. For example, a white sparkly skirt with a pale blue shirt could be Cinderella.)

While I was shopping I was looking at different shorts and skirts on sale and I couldn’t help but see how much of a difference in size there is in toddler clothing.

*Pulls out soapbox*

Look, as everyone I am sure would agree there is such an issue with body image for girls and women. You are expected to be a certain size and that size should be the same across the board in all the different stores. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here is a pair of shorts and a skirt that are the exact same size.

 

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Same size. Same store.

So if these sizes were for an older girl, maybe in her preteens, and she tries on the red shorts and they don’t fit and she starts to feel self-conscious because she thinks she went up a size. But, she isn’t mature enough to understand how sizing works in the fashion industry.

It just stinks that this size issue is happening in sizes 4T. That is outrageous!

*Steps off of soapbox and puts it away*

After shopping we went out to eat at Bucca di Beppo. We love it there because we can get a nice big, family style meal and we don’t have to worry about wasting food with Lily.

 

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We wanted to show off our drawing of a zucchini.

We ended our Saturday by doing our grocery shopping because we are just a bunch of crazy kids.

It appears that that time of year is now upon us.

 

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I will admit, I do enjoy Pumpkin Spice Season.

How was your weekend, did you go on any fun adventures this weekend? 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.

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Owl Post

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

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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.)

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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.

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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!

Future Olympian ?

Right now the Summer Olympics in Rio are captivating the world as people watch Michael Phelps try and break an ancient record, the United States take the lead in the most gold medals and wait with baited breath to find out what is going to happen to the lime green Jell-O colored diving pool. (Seriously, what is up with that?)

While we have been watching the Olympics happen, our possible future Olympian is hard at work this summer training as part of the Soccer Shots program.

This is the second season that our Mousekatot has been involved in our local Soccer Shots program and we love it!

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Photo courtesy of SoccerShots.com

Right when Lily had turned two we were looking for something for her to do during the winter. Since she was only two there wasn’t a lot of options available for her age.

We signed her up for her first season of Soccer Shots and we were impressed with the program.

While the kids are learning soccer skills, they are also learning character building traits as well.

According to the organization’s website:

“1. Our developmentally appropriate curriculum places and emphasis on character development and skill building.

2. Our program is created under the guidance of childhood education specialist, professional soccer players and experienced and licensed soccer coaches.

3. We constantly re-evaluate and update our curriculum to stay current with childhood education standards.”

Each week the coach taught a different skill set and character trait.

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I can see such a difference in Lily’s soccer skills. She still has a little trouble with “control” and balance, but she has improved so much over the season.

Lily had so much fun that we will most likely sign up for the winter season of Soccer Shots. (We like to take a season off so that she doesn’t get bored.)

Do your Mousekatots participate in any organized activities? If so leave your comments below.