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

Travel

Day 2 San Diego

The high today was 65 with a low of 47. Kind of cold for my taste. We woke up early due to our EST internal clocks and headed to MaryJanes at the Hard Rock for breakfast. Breakfast was yummy, but if you ever venture to MaryJanes, beware of the $5 orange juice and $3 split fees. Signature hash browns are to die for, and overshadow all the extra charges. Get it… hash browns at MaryJanes… um, maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, they are to die for!

Played around at PetCo Park’s mini ball field and spent some time at the pool. Yes, the pool in 65 degree weather. Thank goodness for the awesome pool at our hotel… heated saltwater pool situated in direct sunlight all day. The only set back today was when Mia exited the pool to tell me she was going to throw up and promptly did so in a drainage gate. She’s like her mom… always has to liven things up a bit.

Running the bases at PetCo Park

We spent the afternoon and early evening at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. Lots of fun, but very crowded due to spring break. We waited over an hour to go on the Journey Through Africa Safari. It was awesome once we finally made it onto the safari. Totally worth the wait!

Finally on the safari…

Heading to Big Bear tomorrow for the day and night to do some snow tubing…. Maybe skiing. Hoping for a connection to post, but can’t promise anything.

I’ll finally adjust to this time change and it will be time to head back to FL! Maybe we should just stay…

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We’re Here!

After a long travel day… And, some turmoil with United Airlines, we arrived in San Diego mid-day to rain and clouds. The rain moved out quickly, and we managed to beeline for Seaport Village for a quick burger at San Diego Burger Company. Yum!  Staying at the Hilton Bay Front, but haven’t had a whole lot of time to explore. Just finished dinner with old friends at their home in Chula Vista and now some rest so we are ready for the week. Mia was an awesome traveler, as usual, but her first major time change has not been so well received. Tomorrow will be a better day for all. Wild Animal Park and La Jolla on the schedule! Please excuse my phone quality photos… I’ll have the new camera ready tomorrow.

Still smiling… waiting for connection in Los Angeles

Um… Tired, but happy to be here.

Room view… 29th floor Hilton Bay Front

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New, But Not So New

Hi friends! I have fabulous news! The Mamma Mia Blog is finally settled into our new home at www.themammamiablog.com. Yes! Yes! It’s our own Web site. Seriously, I know I’m a little over the top, but let me have my moment.

Over the course of about a month, I have been working with an amazing blog guru Rob McGuire, who also built one of my favorite blogs Savvy Sassy Moms. Rob successfully migrated Mamma Mia from Blogger to WordPress. Kudos to Rob for a job well done and for putting up with me.

So, what does this mean for Mamma Mia? Well, we have a lot more functionality, which allows us to be BIGGER and BETTER… More giveaways, more guest bloggers, more travel, more fashion, more food ideas, more local fun and even more of my “take it or leave it” random life lessons.

To kick things off, I’ll  be blogging every day next week as we take beautiful  San Diego, California by storm on our family vacation. The Griswolds have nothing on us. Brace yourself San Diego, I’m coming back… and I have kids this time. Something we should do or see? Leave a comment and let me know.

San Diego Here We Come!

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Traveling Toddler Style

Mia first “earned her wings” at three months of age. Planes, trains, automobiles you name it, we’ve done it. When traveling with a small child you have to be prepared to know that pretty much no one who boards a plane is going to voluntarily choose to sit by you. Never will you hear, “Oooh Can I sit by the small child… they are so cute on planes.”

Arriving home from our most recent trip to PA, I realized that Mia is a darn good travel partner. We were delayed, stuck on the tarmac for over an hour, delayed again and experienced major tubulance. Let’s just say she gets it. I attribute her behavior to the fact that I never stopped traveling because I was afraid of the journey with child.

For most, myself included, the thought of being confined with a group of people and your screaming child with no exit in site is pretty much torture. But, like I said in a previous post about taking your kids out to eat, you will get through it and in the long run you’ll be all the happier.

What to take…
Don’t load up with too many items or your carry on bag will bestow great misery upon you. I know because I’ve done it. Think about the items you would take with you regardless and figure out how to make them kid friendly… download some kid-friendly apps to your iPhone or bring along headphones and utilize the free XM radio. Simple is good. Our mini DVD player, which we purchased for around $75 has a perfect battery life of about four hours. It really is mini.

Plane Travel Tips

  • If you are traveling alone, I’d advise against bringing the carseat on board. Check it. I watch parents struggle miserably with carseats every time I fly. I never lugged one around and travel life has been good.
  • Check your stroller at the gate not at the baggage check. The stroller will serve as an extra hand to carry items.
  • Check out an airport’s website before your trip. Some airports, like the Pittsburgh Airport, have a kids area where they can run around and play freely.
  • Sprite is a treat in our house. Flying means Mia gets to enjoy Sprite. It’s a special time and it gives her something to look forward to. Seriously, sad I know, but it works.
  • If your child is under two, take advantage. Most airlines let babies fly free up till two.
  • If your child is over two, sign them up for a frequent flyer number with the airlines you fly with. Why shouldn’t your tot earn frequent flyer points?

For more tips check out www.flyingwithkids.com.

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Amazing Tybee

About five hours north of Orlando and 11 hours south of Pittsburgh lies a small island known as Tybee Island, Georgia. This is a place where families reunite, vows are spoken, unique works of art are created and time somehow stands still. This is where I was lucky enough to spend five days mid-June.

Lately, my life consists of a lot of rushing. Rushing to get out the door in the morning, rushing to beat traffic, rushing for this event and that, rushing to make deadline and sadly enough…even
rushing for bedtime.

I’m not sure how all this rushing came about, but I knew it needed to stop.

I’m not sure if it was Tybee or the people who converged there for my cousin’s wedding. None-the-less, it was refreshing to reconnect and get back to the real me who doesn’t rush through life. (Right: Mia enjoying ice-cream with Nana and Pap)

If you are looking for crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, don’t go to Tybee. If you are looking for posh modern hotels, don’t go to Tybee. New age cuisine? Don’t go to Tybee.

This locale offers a expansive sandy beach, disappearing quickly and reappearing again as the tide washes in and out. You’ll find horseshoe crabs and magnificent shells. The historic lighthouse can be seen from all locations on the island. Restaurants have been there for years and feel more like a cookout than dining out.

Near the pier there are ice-cream shops and pizzerias that could have just opened, or could have opened in 1975. You’d never know. Shops lining the main street have eclectic local art mixed in with touristy toe rings and shell necklaces. This mismatched atmosphere only adds to the character that is Tybee.

Look across the Savannah River and you’ll spot Hilton Head, look out to the ocean and you’ll always see dolphins, look around you… and you should see family and friends leaving the “rush” behind and reconnecting with what’s really important.

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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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Life Unrehearsed

My brain is foggy this week. The brain fog is partially from falling down a very steep and slippery set of tile stairs, but mostly because it’s clogged up with a lot of memories that had been suppressed for some time.

This weekend, I watched my long time friend marry her childhood sweetheart in Siesta Key, FL. Good stuff. It was the most amazing and non-stressful wedding I’ve ever attended or even heard of.

At some point over the weekend, the bride to be said to me, “Why am I rehearsing this moment? I don’t want to rehearse it, I want it to be real.” With that, the rehearsal was cancelled. We even had a non-rehearsal dinner.

All in all, it was a beautiful weekend spent with family and friends. My daughter once again amazes me at her ability to adapt to any situation. Sometimes I wish she “needed” me a little more. Mia was born with no fear and no inhibitions. (That topic will be a blog in itself.)

Over an intimate three days in beautiful Siesta Key, I learned a few things…

1. The best things in life are unrehearsed
2. I have the greatest friends in the world
3. Mia is… the next American Idol
4. Tile stairs = bad news after a fresh rain

Thank you for an amazing weekend of love and fun!

Remember to continue to vote Mamma Mia as the best local blog on Nickelodeon’s Parents Picks website. Vote daily!

News Alert: If you are in town this weekend, check out the new Mr. Potato Head exhibit at the Orlando Science Center! Exhibit starts on Saturday.

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