Something (Not So) Wicked This Way Comes 

Halloween is a big deal in our house. Actually, it is Lily’s favorite holiday. 

Luckily our local Lowes already has a lot of Halloween stuff in store so we were able to take Lily to see the decorations. 


(Not a sponsored post. We just love Halloween!) 

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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.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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We are so lucky to live close to Pittsburgh that has a bunch of different activities and places for families to visit on the weekend.

The city hosts wonderful history, art, science and children’s museums, which provide families the opportunity to have places to explore over the weekend.

Since we try to go out and do something every Saturday as our “Adventure Saturday” the cost can really add up if you try to pay out of pocket each time you go.

Luckily, many of these places offer the opportunity to purchase memberships.

For example, the Carnegie Museum system (which encompasses the Natural History Museum, Art Museum, Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center) if our family of two adults and one child wanted to visit the Natural History and Art museums it is $19.95 per adult and $11.95 for our daughter. That would be a total (without tax) $51.85. This can really add up if you like to go frequently.

However, if you go with a family membership, which is two adults, four children and a caregiver it is $150 for unlimited visits for the entire year. This membership also covers the Andy Warhol and Carnegie Science Center.

The same is for the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. One visit for the three of us is $46, but a year long membership is $135 for the same family.

As an added bonus, this membership (and the one at the Carnegie Museum system) can also be used at other participating ASTC centers across the country.

One of the best things is these memberships can be given as gifts.

When Christmas time rolls around, we like to ask for these memberships as family gifts. This way we have a whole year of experiences to look forward to.

It is great because if we just want to stop by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs, we can just pop in, say hi to T-Rex and then leave. We don’t have to worry about cramming in so much stuff so that we get the most bang for our buck.

This past weekend, we went to the Carnegie Science Center and just visited the Exploration Station Jr., an area that is geared toward Preschoolers with a water table, playground area, ball factory, big blue building blocks and more.

We just popped in and played there for about two hours and left. We didn’t feel the need to try and do too much, which is great with a preschooler who can become overwhelmed if you try to do too much in one day.

Here is just a brief video to give you a look of the Exploration Station Jr. area of the Carnegie Science Center.

What do you and your family like to do on the weekends? Leave your 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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Heinz Happens

This past weekend we had the opportunity to take in another retro/vintage fair. This time it was hosted by the Heinz History Center. 


During the event admission was reduced and we decided to take advantage and explore all the museum had to offer. 

The museum is tailored to the history of southwestern Pennsylvania including area sports, businesses, the part the area played in country wide events and more. 

There is even an area dedicated to Pittsburgh’s most famous neighbor Fred Rogers and his neighborhood. 


The day was made even sweeter because I found this wonderful Samsonite train case for $12.


We had a wonderful weekend and might check out future Neighborhood Flea events this summer. 

Do you have any events that you are looking forward to this summer? Leave your comments below. 

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.

 

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

 

Pandora is Sooner than Expected

This past weekend Bob Chapek, the chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts unveiled and offered a tiny peek into Avatar’s world of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is set to open Summer 2017.

The information was announced as part of a D23 convention held in Orlando.

One of the photos that was shared showed a bridge that leads into this ever growing, imaginative world.

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

According to a release from Walt Disney World, D23 host Jeffery Epstein said that the story behind the bridge is that it was built “during a time when a destructive company called the RDA-Resources Development Administration came to Pandora. Now that they are long gone, nature is breaking down evidence of their presence. This bridge will soon serve as an entry into the base camp of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, the eco-tour group that will host explorers on their Pandora adventure.”

Once inside the world of Pandora, guests will have the opportunity to experience two exciting attractions: the Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage.

The Na’vi River Journey, will be an all ages attraction through a beautiful bioluminescent forest.

At the conclusion of the attraction, guests will be greeted by a Na’Vi Shaman, which some people are calling one of the most sophisticated AIs ever created. You be the judge:

Avatar Flight of Passage will have guests in flight high above the jungles of Pandora on a Mountain Banshee.

In addition to the attractions there will be the Satu’li Canteen, the main restaurant of Pandora that will highlight Na’vi art and cultural items and Windtraders, a store that sells Na’vi cultural items, science kits, toys and more.

For those wanting a refreshing beverage, they can stop at Pongu Pongu.

Are you excited to take your journey to Pandora starting this summer? Leave your comments below.