Amanda, Author at Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Today, as we are planning our first adventure of 2015 to Park City Utah, I took some time to reflect on our 2014 year in travel. What a year of discovery it has been!

This year our adventures took us across the pond. We explored all of the play spots Paris has to offer and mastered navigating the metro. We even found our way to Roland Garros for my little tennis fan and explored the Louvre, Eiffel and Notre Dame. We definitely took in Paris.

Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Paris 2014

This non-Harry Potter fan was transformed after tagging along on a Harry Potter black cab tour through London. I escaped through an emergency exit in the London Dungeon, giving everyone a good laugh, and was mesmerized and forever changed by a morning at Westminster Abby.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Back in the states and on the lovely west coast of Florida, we experienced the eclectic Post Card Inn in St. Petersburg and Mia was able to master the long board at surf school. An anniversary weekend away in Sand Key near Clearwater Beach led to a new appreciation of shell searching.

Mamma Mia Surf School St. Pete Beach

Surfing in St. Pete Beach

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando was the perfect locale to kick off our summer and our first ever Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas was one to remember (and learn from – stay tuned for future post on that experience).

Myrtle Beach in South Carolina gave us a week of family fun with our family from Pennsylvania. We found fall (and maybe a future vacation home location) in picturesque Dahlonega, GA and introduced the girls to Piedmont Park and the Flying Biscuit in Atlanta.

Finding Fall in Dahlonega - The Mamma Mia Blog

Finding Fall in Dahlonega

I witnessed the best that LA food trucks have to offer and was able to catch a glimpse of Disney Land during a quick solo trip to California.

We closed out 2014 with a trip to Seven Springs near my hometown in Pennsylvania to partake in snow tubing and roll around in the fluffy white stuff that we don’t get back in Florida.

Snow Tubing Seven Springs

Snow Tubing Seven Springs

As we forge ahead into the new year, I once again hope to become more minimalistic when it comes to material things and spend what we have on experiences that we will remember for a lifetime.

Best wishes for a very Happy (and adventure filled) New Year!

Follow our family travel & food adventures in 2015 live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

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Posted on by Amanda in Travel Leave a comment

Orlando Staycation Family Favorite Winners

Local parents voted on their fave Orlando staycation spots and the results have been released!  I wrote about the winners in this issue of PLAYGROUND magazine.

Take a look at the top spots from local families who know. From best resort pool to best resort on a budget and best family suite, this list is for locals for sure, but also great info for visitors to Orlando.

Orlando Staycation Picks

Staycation Picks 2014 PLAYGROUND Family Favorite Awards

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, PLAYGROUND, Travel Leave a comment

Celebrate Dogs! Back Again in Orlando

For those of you who follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you know our Boxer, Sam, is part of Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.47.37 PMthe family. We are super excited to be attending Celebrate Dogs!, the nation’s largest canine extravaganza, here in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center. The event is here for the fourth year in a row December 13 and 14.

Not only will we be in attendance, but I have a family 4-pack of tickets to give away to a lucky local family! The 4-pack also includes and an American Kennel Club/Eukanuba deluxe goody bag.

Plus, if you follow me on social media, you’ll be able to see the play by play of Sam taking on the agility test on 12/10.

Presented by the American Kennel Club (AKC®) and Eukanuba Dog Foods, this two-day event is open from 8am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of fun and thousands of dogs for

My only son! Sam.

Sam. Excited for his agility challenge!

the whole family to enjoy.

The full event schedule and details can be found here. Lots of fun activities for dog lovers!

Celebrate Dogs! is also home to one of the world’s premiere dog events, the 2014 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC), where the nation’s top canine competitors will vie for the coveted Best in Show honor, the title of National Champion and the highest cash prize offered for any AKC Dog Show.

Daytime tickets cost $10.00. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship evening competition are $25 for all ages.

4 Chances to Win Tix & Prize Pack!

How to enter:

1.) Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite breed of dog.

2.) Tweet about the event and leave a comment letting me know you did – Enter to win 4 tickets to the @AKCdoglovers and @Eukanuba #CelebrateDogs in Orlando http://goo.gl/x3XriX.

3.) Follow the American Kennel Club on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know.

4.) Follow Eukanuba on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know.

I’ll select a winner next Wednesday (12/10) before the big event! Winner must choose to attend either 12/13 or 12/14. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary tickets to the show. All thoughts and opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog and my social media outlets are my own.

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando 4 Comments

Finding Fall in Dahlonega

Living in Florida, the girls don’t get a real taste of fall weather. We travel to snow every winter, but have never traveled to experience fall. This year, when Mia asked where we could go to see fall, I knew we needed a road trip. Their dad had been camping several times in North Georgia and suggested we pack our bags and get on the road for Dahlonega, GA – about 7 hours from Orlando.

As we drove, we began to see and feel changes in the air and trees. It was quite amazing to watch the world transform. (Especially for me, who tries to steer clear of driving trips over 4 hours!) What we discovered and experienced once we arrived in the Dahlonega, puts this adventure on my top 5 list of my favorite weekend trips. I’m not sure if it was being immersed in the beauty of a season I barely recognized after 12 years living in Florida or if it was the happiness on the girls faces as they basked in all the glory fall has to offer.

Monteluce Winery - The Mamma Mia Blog

First stop Monteluce Winery for lunch and fun in the vineyard

 

Dahlonega, GA - Travel with Kids

Dahlonega has a quaint downtown area with great restaurants, cafes and shops.

 

Amicolola Hike - Travel With Kids The Mamma Mia Blog

We stayed at the Amicolola Lodge, which was perfect for hiking and family adventure.

This trip will remain etched in my memory in a way I never could have imagined. I’m already making plans to go back next year. This is what family travel is all about.

Follow our family travel & food adventures live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Spooktacular Fun!

We love to visit SeaWorld during Halloween for their annual Spooktacular event. The girls are obsessed with the many creatures of the sea and SeaWorld does a great job tying in trick or treating fun with learning about our world’s oceans.

Spooktacular takes place weekends in October! Get all the details here. 

SeaWorld Spooktacular

Bubbles are a must at Spooktacular.

 

SeaWorld Spooktacular

Meeting new friends who wanted to dance

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And another friend who wanted to dance

Follow our family travel & food adventures live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel Leave a comment

Florida Ocean Adventure

Mia is doing really well in school, and some parents may disagree, but I believe hands on experiences are a great way to reward a child that meets their goals. Plus, I needed a day to reconnect with the girls and a Florida ocean adventure was calling our name. We had plans to head south from Orlando to visit friends in Jupiter, FL Friday afternoon. I felt like there had to be a fun stop off on the way.

A quick Google search “Marine Centers on Treasure Coast” provided me with a link to the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Hutchinson Island, FL… About 2 hours south of Orlando. Perfect!

The website said stingray feeding was at 1 pm, followed by a turtle talk at 2 pm and so we were on our way.

Touch Tank Florida Oceanographic

First stop, the Touch Tank!

 

Florida Oceanographic Center

Next stop, the lagoon to say hi to friends.

The volunteer staff on hand were great with the kids and extremely informative. We went on a Friday afternoon so we were three of about 12 folks there around 1 pm for stingray feeding. The volunteers even urged me to get more involved holding a sea urchin or two instead of just taking pics.

Florida Oceanographic Center

Then lots more learning disguised as fun.

Hutchinson Island

Perfect end to a perfect day!

Lucky for us the Oceanographic Coastal Center is right on the beach at Hutchinson Island! The beach was deserted (but had lifeguards). We opened our picnic lunch and played tag with the waves.

So, the details – this is a 57-acre marine life nature center located on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, FL situated between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. As a leading state and nationally recognized environmental organization, Florida Oceanographic offers Educational Programs to people of all ages and conducts Research and Restoration programs that lead to healthy coastal ecosystems.

The cost to enter is minimal and I encourage anyone traveling or living close by to visit this amazing place and make a donation to preserve our Florida oceans.

Just about 40 minutes south is the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach. You can read about it here.

Follow our family travel & food adventures live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Introducing Ricky Ricotta

We’ve been talking a lot about travel here at Mamma Mia, but I’d never give up the chance to share a new children’s book!

You might be familiar with a character named Captain Underpants? Of course! If you are a parent today, I’m sure you’ve heard of this guy. Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants has a new series and I’m thrilled to be able to giveaway a four-pack  – Ricky Ricotta.

Ricky Ricotta Giveaway

New Series from Dav Pilkey

Little known fact, author Dav Pilkey suffered from ADHD as a child and through his struggles developed characters like Captain Underpants! What an amazing story of overcoming a challenge. This series is illustrated by Dan Santat.

Ricky Ricotta is a little mouse with BIG problems. Every day he is picked on by the neighborhood bullies. He lives in Squeakyville with his mother and father, and being an only mouse, he is often lonely. That is until something big happens. A giant flying robot enters Ricky’s life and an unlikely friendship is born! Together, Ricky and his Robot must save the planet from a galaxy bursting with bad guys.

How To Win:

  • Enter a comment below with the name of your child’s favorite (or your childhood fave) book
  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment with the tweet link
  • Like Scholastic Parents on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did

I’ll contact a winner on September 30. This giveaway is open to residents of US only. Prizes and samples courtesy of Scholastic.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 26 Comments

Disney on Ice presents Frozen

Diney on Ice presents Frozen

Disney on Ice presents Frozen

Rumor has it that this show is sold out in Orlando. Don’t believe everything you hear! There are tickets left and those procrastinators out there (like myself) can purchase them for this weekend’s performances.

Unfortunately I don’t have tickets to give away this time around, but ticket prices are really reasonable. There is new availability this week for seats in the upper level starting at $20.

Disney on Ice presents Frozen show schedule for Amway Center:

Thursday, September 4 at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, September 5 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 6 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 7 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Produced by our friends at Feld Entertainment, Disney on Ice presents Frozen Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt will kick off its world tour in Orlando this week. That makes this show extra special!

We are attending the preview show tomorrow so if you are still on the fence, follow our experience on Instagram or Twitter to get the real time scoop.

You can also follow the show’s producer on Twitter @nicolefeld or @disneyonice or on Facebook for more info.

We were invited to attend the Disney on Ice presents Frozen show as guests of Feld Entertainment. All thoughts and opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my own.

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Posted on by Amanda in On Stage, Orlando Leave a comment

Little Passports – A Ticket To A Global Adventure

Little Passports Review

Exciting package from Little Passports

I love to read about far off places. When I have the chance, I love to travel to far off places. My kids seem to have acquired this same passion for exploring the globe, which is why I am pretty obsessed with Little Passports.

Last year, we traveled to Paris and London. While it’s not in the budget to travel internationally often, that doesn’t mean we have to stop exploring.

Sign up for a Little Passports subscription and your kiddo can follow Sam and Sofia on their exciting adventures around the US and the world. This is a super fun way to inspire love and understanding of the world while learning about geography, history, culture, and language in a fun and memorable way.

Here’s how it works – Each month kids follow characters Sam and Sofia as they embark on a new country adventure. The first month’s Explorer Kit arrives in a suitcase and contains everything your child needs to get started: a letter from Sam and Sofia, a map, a passport, stickers, access to online games and more. Country specific packages filled with fun souvenirs, letters, stickers, photos, activity sheets and more arrive every month thereafter.

Our first destination was Brazil. Mia spent hours looking through the contents of her Brazil package. There was even an amethyst from mine in Maraba. Now she is asking where Sam and Sofia will go next.

Most of us don’t have the budget, or time, to go trotting across the globe, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop exploring! This is my new “go to” gift for kid’s birthdays and holidays for sure.

Happy Exploring!

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Posted on by Amanda in Travel Leave a comment

DK Travel Guide Giveaway – London, Paris, New York & Italy

Win 4-Pack of Travel Guide Books!

Win 4-Pack of Travel Guide Books!

The DK travel guide covers are recognizable to just about everyone. Hard to believe that DK’s Eyewitness Travel guides have been around for 20 years. This summer, guides to iconic destinations like Italy, Ireland, London, Paris, and New York City received a makeover.

As many of you know we embarked on a journey to Paris and London a few months back. We pulled from multiple resources for our trip, but this new revamped London guide is definitely a perfect one stop shop for your London travel. Mia had a great time perusing the book reminiscing about our London trip.

I love to give away books on Mamma Mia, but especially travel related books! I’m excited to give away a 4-pack from DK including the new London,Paris, Italy and New York City guide books. Perfect for planning a trip or just dreaming about one! The pack is valued at $100.

Travel Guide Book Giveaway

4 Travel Guides Worth $100

How to Win:

  • Leave a comment letting me know which location you’d most like to visit out of the four books.
  • Follow DK Travel (@dk_travel) on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did.
  • Like DK Travel on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did.

I’ll select a winner on Monday, August 4 at 3 pm.

Happy Travels!

This contest is open to residents of US/Canada only. I was provide with a copy of the DK London guide for review. All opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my own. Photographs and text reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House ©2014 by DK.

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Travel 16 Comments
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