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.


Kennywood’s Open

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Growing up as a kid in the Pittsburgh region, it wasn’t summer until you made the annual pilgrimage to the holy land of childhood fun and memories: Kennywood Park.

Since my dad worked there for many years when he was younger, I grew up going to the park ever since I could remember.

When I was younger I remember riding The Turnpike with my Dad in the passenger seat thinking I was a big deal because now he was the one in the the back seat.

When I got older, high school age, I couldn’t wait to go to Kennywood with my friends as part of our school picnic. We would ride from morning to dark when the lights would come alive and transform the park to a magical, neon fed world that made it seem like summer would never end.

Then for awhile it seems like life gets too busy and you are between college classes, work and starting out on married life and you just don’t think about going back for awhile.

But everything changes when you have a child of your own and you want to take them to give them the same kind of experience that you had when you were growing up.

Luckily for us Kev’s work hosts an annual company picnic at Kennywood and we take advantage of the offer and spend the day in the park where I grew up.

I remember the first time we went to Kennywood with Lily it was a different experience then the one I just had this past week which was three years later.

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Kennywood 2016

This year we were able to try Lily on a couple of different rides that she was unable to ride last year, like the Kangaroo. She really enjoyed this ride, but at first she was afraid that it was too fast, but she ended up really liking it.

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We did spend a lot of time in Kiddieland riding the numerous rides that she enjoyed a couple of times. I felt bad for the poor ride operator that had to basically pull her out of the helicopter ride while she was a sobbing mess.

The carousel was my favorite attraction to enjoy with Lily. We rode it twice and the first time Lily didn’t like it because she said her horse went up too high. But the second time we opted for one that didn’t move. She liked it a lot better.

But, her favorite ride was Garfield’s Nightmare. This 3-D boat ride through different scenes depicting a nightmare for the orange fuzzy cat (ie attacking ice cream cones, a menacing vet getting ready to give a shot, and more).

The ride is more funny than it is scary and is brightly painted and highlighted by a black light.

Speaking of things that are funny, Lily has the best of luck when it comes to playing games at amusement parks.

She loves the fishing game or duck game where you pick three of the animals to see what you win. Lily picked three ducks at Kennywood and she walked away with a large prize, which was a big frog that she named Ribbit.

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We had a wonderful day and were so thankful to Kev’s company for having the picnic and giving us many more memories that we will cherish for years to come.

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Meeska-Mooska-Get Early Reservations-ska

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

There are a few restaurants in Walt Disney World that are very difficult to get “advanced dining reservations” (ADRs) for because they are a very coveted dining experience.

One such place is Chef Mickey’s located in the heart of the bustling Comtemporary Resort situated on the monorail line.

There are a couple of factors that contribute to making this dining location so popular including the fact is it is on the monorail line, is a buffet and features a character meal with some of the most popular characters on property.

Menu

Chef Mickey’s is open for all three meals and features a buffet that is sure to please all sorts of pallets.

Breakfast

Seasonal melons and fruit, smoked salmon, quinoa salad, hard boiled eggs, ham and cheese scramble, carved ham, tofu scramble with spinach, chef’s specialty pancake of the day, Mickey waffles, Minnie muffins and more.

Brunch

Peel-and-eat shrimp, assorted salads, yogurts and toppings, barbecue pork ribs, baked salmon with seasonal garnish, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and more.

Dinner

Fresh mixed fruit salad, baked chicken, carving station selections, chef’s selection of pasta, seasonal bread pudding, create-your-own sundae bar and lots more.

Dinner and a Show 

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World 

In addition to being visited by the characters table side, there is also some music, dancing and even napkin twirling that takes place that makes the experience so much fun.

Cost

The cost of Chef Mickey’s is pretty much on par with other character buffets within the resort.

For breakfast and brunch for an adult it is $41 and for a child it’s $25. Dinner is $50 for adults and $30 for children.

If you have the dining plan you can use it at Chef Mickey’s.

When to make reservations

You will want to make reservations right when you reach 180 days out. Like I said earlier, it is a hard ADR to secure, but it can be done.

Breakfast is the most coveted and dinner is a close second, so you might want to try for brunch during an off eating time. Another benefit of brunch is you get to taste both breakfast and dinner foods.

Does Chef Mickey’s seem like a restaurant you would like to try out? Leave your comments below.

For more tips about where to grab something to eat at Walt Disney World, pick up your copy of Mousekatots.

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Safety First

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Photo courtesy of ibtimes.com

It really is a commentary on the state of the world when metal detectors are needed to get into the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

But, the fact of the matter is that I feel better knowing they are there and they are keeping my family safe. I am so thankful for the security guards that work hard each day to keep everyone safe and I am sure having to deal with their own share of people trying to give them flack because they snuck in a selfi-stick and got caught.

In order to make the security process a little easier Disney has been rolling out some changes that were announced earlier this week.

According to several sources, including the Disney fan website, Inside the Magic, that these new measures will include new security checks at the Transportation and Ticket Center. This means and those who enter the Magic Kingdom through ferry or monorail will be able to skip the bag check and metal detectors at the gate.

Also, those who are staying at one of the resorts on the monorail loop (Grand Floridian, Poly and Contemporary) will be checked at the resort monorail stations and will be able to enter without going through the security check point at the gate,

Those guests arriving on buses at this time will still use the current security setup.

These changes are scheduled to take place April 3.

 


Fishy Fun

Because of my job I am off on Fridays so Lily and I get to spend time together through the day.

After we have a little snuggle time and breakfast I try to work in a little learning activity.

This past week since it was Read Across America week and Dr. Seuss was honored, we did an activity from the wonderful website Totschooling.

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This pack was great. It had math and verbal components, plus it included colorful goldfish crackers.

The math sheets included sequencing, numbered fish to count to 20 and counting out goldfish.

The verbal included putting the fish in the corresponding colored bowls and finding the color word on a sheet of paper.

Lily seemed to really love the math components where she could cover up the numbers.

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She loves to sort things and put them in groups so doing the goldfish bowls by color was right up her alley.

While this does have a Dr. Seuss tie-in it can be used any time.

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If you are looking for any type of preschool or totschool activity for your little one I can’t recommend totschooling.com enough. The activities are cute and really engaging with the kids.

Do you have any favorite learning activities that you like to use with your little one? Leave them in the comments below.

 


Visiting the Big Guy

Where we live we are very lucky because we have an active community that does a lot for children in the area.

One such place that always hosts great events is the Uniontown Public Library. Not only is it a wonderful place that offers a wide selection of books for adults and children, they also hold story times, a summer reading program and, what we experienced most recently, a special Christmas party.

This past Saturday we had a chance to attend the party for the first time and I have to say Lily had a wonderful time.

The festivities kicked off with a short play, “The Life and Time of Santa Claus” presented by Stage Right, an acting school for kids in Greensburg.

The play told the story about how Santa Claus became the person that we all know and love today.

The kids did a wonderful job and really entertained the kids.

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Lily did a good job sitting with the other kids. However, she did get a little nervous and wanted to come back and sit with us.

After their performance, the cast sat on the floor and invited the kids to come up and meet them. Lily was so excited that she got to give a high-five to Mrs. Claus.

Then the kids were invited to do a holiday themed craft.

Each child received a picture of Santa’s sleigh on a snowy wonderland and they were given stickers to use to decorate the picture.

If there are stickers involved, we are there. Lily absolutely loves stickers and she really enjoyed doing the craft.

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If there are stickers, we are there.

While we were completing our picture the announcement was made that Santa was there and he was ready to meet with the children.

I was really proud of Lily she did a great job meeting him and telling him what she wanted for Christmas (a Paw Patrol playset) and wasn’t really nervous. I think introducing her to a lot of characters at Disney really helped.

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We enjoyed meeting Santa. We also received a candy cane and got to pick out a book. We we over the moon about both.

And the perfect ending to any event is cake.

Lily informed me that her favorite snack is cake and she loved having her piece before we headed out to do more Christmas shopping.

We can’t thank the Uniontown Public Library enough for putting on such a wonderful event. (I was also told that the Greek Catholic Union, which I have a life insurance policy through, paid for the performance from Stage Right. So thank you to them.)

Do you participate in any special holiday events in your community? Leave your comments below.


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.