10 Reasons Everything Is Awesome at the LEGOLAND Hotel

Our five-year-old's birthday wish was to spend the night at the new Florida LEGOLAND® Hotel. And quite honestly, I was pretty pumped to check it out myself. We took advantage of the Florida resident rate (35% off) and were set. There are always extra deals and promos here. I Read more

Park City, Utah Skiing With The Family

It's been awhile since the entire family went west, but it was time! I had a few snickers when I announced our plans to embark on a ski adventure with the entire family to Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. But, then again places that people don't Read more

The Newest Vacation Rental in Orlando

I'm so excited to share my most recent article in PLAYGROUND magazine. Friends from my hometown in Pennsylvania have created the most amazing vacation rental space here in Orlando. Click through to read about the inspiration behind this awesome home and how you can book your stay.   Follow our family Read more

Family Getaway Postcard Inn St. Pete Beach

A few weeks ago, our family, along with two other Orlando families,ventured to St. Pete beach on the Gulf Coast to celebrate a little friend's 8th birthday at the Postcard Inn. I was attracted to the aesthetics of this trendy spot since it was transformed from a Travelodge in Read more

Best Play Spots in Paris

It's almost three weeks since we returned from Europe, and I've finally sifted through my photos. I felt like my first post should talk about the fun playgrounds/parks in Paris. What an awesome experience to see the girls jumping right into the mix at playgrounds many miles from their Read more

Parenting

Losing Marbles

Marble Strategy

A good friend of mine recently told me about a new “marble jar strategy” they were using in their house. Here’s the deal…. When your preschooler does something (ie. brush hair, brush teeth, take dishes to the sink) without you having to ask, they get to put a marble in their marble jar. When they choose to go against rules of the house, talk back etc. etc., they must remove a marble from the jar.

Before beginning the marble process, a reward is decided upon and can’t be changed. Once the jar is full, the preschooler receives reward. We started working towards a Barbie Styling Head a good month ago and we still have a half a jar to go. Not because Mia is bad, but because it really is hard to fill up a jar with marbles one by one.

The Reward

In the evening, we typically read four books, which usually knocks Mia out, but if not, she is allowed to watch one of her movies for a half hour. Mia was in and out of bed two times before I said, “One more time out of bed and you lose two marbles.” A few moments later I heard little footsteps and before Mia could speak I told her to go take her marbles out of the jar and get back to bed. I heard two marbles drop back in the bag and little footsteps scurry back down the hall.

We later found Mia asleep with her movie skipping and scratching…. She was coming to tell me her movie was not working. I went back to my bed sad and mad at myself for not letting her speak. As I drifted off to sleep, I heard marbles dropping into the jar. Mia’s father walked into the bedroom and I could tell by the look on his face he had more than made up the marble difference.

I guess the marble strategy is teaching more than one of us a lesson.

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The Moment Is Here….

I’m sharing some belly pics!!! Yes, due to multiple requests, I’m putting it all out there. With Mia, I didn’t embrace my growing belly in photos. Instead I spent my time agonizing, wondering how quickly I would be able to lose the weight I had gained. I’ve decided this time around (aka the last time around) I’m going to live it up grand finale style. This photo was taken on August 16… two weeks ago. I was exactly 25.5 weeks (for those of you who like to think in weeks). I have a little over two months left to go now!

In between moving, work, and keeping up with Mia, I’ve barely had a second to realize I truly am doing this all over again. Not until I ended up in the hospital last week did reality set in. Having contractions at 27.5 weeks while signing a pile of paperwork at the hospital will do that to you. All is well for now. I’m hoping this baby will stay put at least until I can figure out how to put the crib together…

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

25.5 weeks and counting (aka around 6 months)

Flashing some skin!

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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting, Prego 5 Comments

The Show…

As Mia’s first ballet performance draws near, it’s all about the show in our house. It brings back lots of fond memories of the millions of shows I put together as a child. I decided to take a few photos of Saturday’s show to share. I don’t know if this is the route her ballet teacher is going, but it’s creative expression all the same and I love to see her express herself.

The Mia Show

She has some moves

I'd put her through to Vegas, but I'm bias

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Posted on by Amanda in Fitness & Health, Parenting, Random Leave a comment

Four Years Later…

When you were born, I was scared, excited and happy among many other emotions. In all the uncertainties that made up my life, you became the only thing that I was really certain of. That felt good, and I thank you for it. In the beginning, you needed me. You need me less and less all of the time.

Your independence makes me proud, but I’m always here to be needed. In the past four years, I have never laughed so hard or felt so much love. I only wish I had a replay button to do it all again. (Well, maybe not all of it, but a lot of it.) Happy 4th Birthday Mia. Someday when I’m done teaching you… I hope you will understand everything you’ve taught me.

April 4, 2010

April 4, 2006

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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting 6 Comments

Mean Girls

Or, purple monsters… For lack of better photo. Anyway, I’ve never seen the movie Mean Girls, but I can only imagine something similar to what I witnessed in high school. I was never a mean girl, but I witnessed bullying. I had my head unnecessarily shoved into a locker or two in my day. I turned out okay, I think. I certainly do not want my Mia shoving heads into lockers.

A mom from Mia’s school informed me the other day that the girls had formed some kind of “club” and they where periodically excluding girls from the group. Mean girls at age 3???

It wasn’t JUST Mia, but being part of that group is just as bad! I was in shock, and suddenly had that overwhelming feeling of… “Oh crap, I’m THAT mom whose child is going to act totally different when she steps out of the house.”

As I began to research, it seems that I should have caught onto the signs that this “club” thing was coming. Back six months ago, Mia was on an “Okay then I won’t be your friend” kick. To me, to her dad, even to the cat… yes, she was threatening her friendship with our cat.

Good news… There are many ways to nip this in the bud. I still have time to straighten out my closeted mean girl and so do you.

Here are some tips from the experts, aka not me:

  • Make sure your preschooler gets plenty of opportunities to make their own choices and feel powerful in their life. Much like a toddler learning the power of ”no,” preschoolers abuse social exclusion more if that’s the only time they get to feel powerful.
  • Help the child identify the cue they missed or mistake they made, by asking something like: “How would you feel if Emma and Jane didn’t want you to play on the tire swing with them?” Instead of lecturing with the word “should,” offer options the child “could” have taken in the moment.
  • Sensitize your kiddo to other people’s experience by constantly commenting on how others feel so they see things from other people’s viewpoints. Make comments like… “Look, that boy is crying. I wonder why?” or “Laura seemed so happy when you hugged her.” It’s crucial that children develop this skill, not just so they turn out nice, but because reading the social cues of others is the only way to function in a complicated social world.
  • Create an imaginary but similar scenario where the child can make the right choice. For example, you could say, “If you and Danielle were playing in the sandbox and Samantha wanted to play too, what would you say?”
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Authentic Parenting

I have a few friends who are pregnant with baby number one. I can’t help but think back to that time myself. I felt good, I felt nervous and I wanted to be the perfect mom. This is why I read book after book “learning” how to be the perfect mom. I paid attention to breastfeeding advocates who wanted me to breastfeed my daughter until she was two, and those who believed that my epidural would surely cause my child and I lifelong harm. I watched in wonder as moms whipped up homemade organic baby food and had their babies fast asleep every night by 7 pm on the dot. I listened to the co-sleepers and wondered how one could survive never having time for themselves… not even while sleeping.

I was in labor with Mia for 30 hours and insisted on pushing forward because I was “smart” and was surely outwitting  insurance companies who just wanted me to have a c-section to make money. When at 30 hours, I had a near emergency c-section, I realized that while outsmarting the insurance company, I could have killed myself and my child.

I know many mothers who cried for days when their infant didn’t “latch on.” Part of me thinks they were crying not because they couldn’t breastfeed, but because they felt like a failure to society. That makes me sad. I had many disapproving looks when I supplemented with Mia because I just needed a break. Was it wrong for me to need a break?

A child made a comment to me last week about McDonalds. The mom feverishly explained that they never ever go to McDonalds, it was just a one time thing. Who cares! Kids like a chicken nugget every now and then, and it’s not going to kill them.

The other day one of my friends paid me a compliment that might be the
best I have ever received. She said she believed my parenting style was authentic and that I was really “me” as a mom instead of who I “should be.” That makes me very happy because it has taken a long time to get here. It has taken a long time to let the outside influences go.

So as parents, let’s talk. Let’s be honest. Let’s admit to our feelings and stop trying to put on a show. We are all different, all babies and children are different, we all need different things to sustain our quality of life. And, it’s okay.

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Pregnancy After Cancer – Who Needs Statistics Anyway!


This week I welcome Tanya Villar as a Mamma Mia guest blogger. Tanya is a true survivor and a dear friend. You know the kind of friend that would drive five hours in the middle of the night in the rain to pick you up on the side of the road. Yeah… that’s her.

I have always known I wanted to be a mom. Choosing my career as a teacher was a no-brainer knowing that I wanted to spend the maximum amount of time with my future children.

At the age of 25 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced with the question, “Do you want to freeze your eggs?” They told me chances of getting pregnant after chemo and other treatments would be slim. I opted out due to financial reasons, and not really knowing if I would live or die. I told the doctor what is meant to be would be. I had a double mastectomy twenty days after that question. It was a scary time. My cancer had started to spread, but not to the stage four. I was a cusp of stage 2/3 cancer.

Five years went by, my cancer was in remission and I met someone that I thought could be “the one.” When we first started dating, I was very open about the potential issues with conceiving. Without a second thought he said, “There is always adoption.” Exactly what I needed to hear!

A year into our relationship, we moved in together and began discussing marriage and children. In October of 2006, we decided to test the odds and try to conceive.

We knew it would be a process, figuring we’d have time to get married and do other things. On December 1, 2006, and four pregnancy tests later (you never quite believe the first two or even three), we found out we were going to be parents. So much for statistics!

Although I was labeled high-risk, I had a perfect pregnancy that resulted in a perfect little boy (all 8lbs 15oz and 21 inches of him) who joined our family on August 13, 2007.

It has now been two years since my son was born, and I am due with child number two at the end of September! I was never a big fan of statistics anyway!

I feel extremely fortunate to have beaten the odds not once, but twice! Motherhood has been the most amazing gift, and I truly appreciate every step of the journey. My son is the most amazing little man. I love him with everything I have. I can’t wait to share my life with his little brother.

If I had based my life on statistics, I would have never been a mother. I am a cancer survivor…but most importantly…I am a mother!

If you are interested in learning more about breast cancer, other amazing survivors or to make a donation visit the Susan G. Komen website.

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Posted on by Amanda in Amazing Moms, Guest bloggers, Parenting Leave a comment

Take It To The Can

Long before I ever had a child, I watched in wonder as a child (who I will keep anonymous) unwrapped a piece of candy and handed the wrapper to their mother (who I will keep anonymous.) I was amazed to see the mom, in a zombie like state, walk to the garbage can and throw the wrapper away.

It seemed to me that something was very wrong. Why couldn’t this perfectly healthy child walk their little behind over to the garbage and toss the trash?

I’m a mom now, in case you didn’t know already. My daughter takes her garbage to the garbage can. She’s three and she has been taking her trash to the can for the past year. She also takes her plate to the sink when she’s done with dinner, and puts her underwear away after I do the laundry.

Some might think she’s a little Cinderella trapped with the wicked step-mom, but that’s far from our situation. Mia loves to help out and do things on her own. These little tasks make her feel useful and “grown up.”

I know it’s our motherly instinct to just naturally do for our children, but next time your kid hands you their garbage tell them to take it to the can! Create a self-sufficient human. Look around, I think you’ll agree this world needs more of them.

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Grapfruit For Breakfast

I was in the break room at my office the other morning cutting my daily grapefruit in half when a colleague asked, “You’re going to put sugar on that, right?” I shook my head no and received a sour face.

As I sat down in my office, I began the process of cutting the non- cooperative segments of the fruit. I was confronted by another passerby, “Grapefruit is so bitter. How can you eat that! They really are a pain to prepare.”

After two grapefruit comments I stopped for a second and thought… They are right. Why do I eat grapefruit everyday? I put forth the effort each morning to transport my grapefruit from home, carefully slice the grapefruit, store the remaining half and then cut each individual segment for consumption. To top it off, I’m not even really a fan of the taste and am usually hungry afterwards. Sure it’s good for you, but so is broccoli and I don’t eat that for breakfast everyday.

As far back as I can remember, my dad was always up and at em’ packing lunches and preparing breakfast each morning with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. (No, literally, the man was singing zippity do da and meaning it.) Stumbling from my bed, usually laden with some end of the world high school drama, I was presented with a freshly prepared grapefruit along with cereal. Each morning, I ate the grapefruit. I was never overwhelmed by the taste, but enjoyed what my dad had taken the time to prepare for me.

I think I realized back then what a great dad I had been blessed with, but now as a parent myself I realize it even more. He made it his mission to be up at the crack of dawn to spend quality time with his family before he left for work. He prepared breakfast, and gave a valiant attempt at learning more about his brood… albeit the worst time to converse with teenagers, but all the same…

So why do I eat my grapefruit every morning? Because it’s a part of what made me who I am today. Because it reminds me of an amazing person I call my father. I’ll continue to eat my bitter, hard to cut grapefruit everyday with sheer pride and happiness. Thank you to my colleagues who felt compelled to reveal my true grapefruit subconscious.

Why will your kids eat “grapefruit”? That’s deep, right?

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Tiny Travelers

Over the past week, I’ve mentioned to several people that I will be shipping my youngin off to Pennsylvania for one week this summer to stay with my parents. (Of course I’m not shipping her off on her own. She’ll be traveling with Nana, and quite safe I’m sure.)

I’ve received some mixed reviews…

“Is this the first time you are leaving her for that long?”

“Wow, you must really trust your parents.”

I left my daughter for one week when she was 9 months old. I jetted off to Hawaii with my lovey for the Pro-Bowl and a week of island exploration. My father flew to Florida, picked up little Mia and flew her back to Pennsylvania for that week.

The day I dropped Mia and my dad off at the airport, I had a panicked moment when I wanted to run after my dad and all together cancel my trip. But, the logical side of my brain stepped in and said, “This isn’t the first time you are going to be away from her, and the longer you wait to create some separation, the harder it is going to be.” Off she went, my tiny baby… on a huge plane to Pittsburgh without me.

While in Hawaii we gushed over quite a few babies and missed little Mia a lot. However, we did manage to get along without her that week. Tropical drinks, catamaran boat trips, snorkeling and just relaxing.

So… yes, I have left Mia before. (Although, for a three-year-old she has traveled quite a bit with us as well.) And yes, I do trust my parents. I mean, I turned out okay… sort of.

I grew up in an amazing little town in Pennsylvania that has managed to maintain a “small town USA” atmosphere to the 100th degree. I want my daughter to experience some of the things I was able to experience growing up. I want her to know my parents and the people who made me who I am, and most of all to learn to love that small town in Pennsylvania the way I do.

Perfect timing Dr. Gupta! Just saw a new post from Dr. Gupta about a mom’s separation anxiety. Check it out.

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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting, Travel Leave a comment
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