Florida Ocean Adventure

The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center is a hidden gem on the Treasure Coast. Perfect for families and a great learning experience. 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

Hidden Gem: Sand Key Florida

My other half planned a short getaway for our nine year anniversary. I wasn't exactly sure where we were headed, but knew it was somewhere around Clearwater Beach. As we drove over the bridge to Clearwater, I kept expecting a turn off at one of the many beach hotels. To my surprise Read more

Westin Cape Coral Weekend Getaway

Most of you who follow my Instagram or Twitter know that we had a fabulously fun weekend at the Westin in Cape Coral, FL a few weeks ago. The property became a Westin in December of 2013 and underwent a plethora of renovations, which I believe puts it in the best Read more

Meeting Winter - Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Most of the world has seen (or at least heard of) the movie Dolphin Tale. The story highlights the rescue of a wounded dolphin who ends up losing one very important important thing... a tale! The Clearwater Marine Aquarium works hard in the movie to create a prosthetic tail just Read more

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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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting Leave a comment

Foto Friday Late As Heck

I can’t believe I’m that much of a slacker… It is yet another Foto Friday and I haven’t even posted in between. I’m slipping. In my defense, it’s been a rough week on both the home front and the work front. We are trying to sell our condo and purchase a new home in a crap snap economy. Anyway, I promise to do better. I mean it.

Here are a few photos or fotos as we like to call them on Friday’s on the Mamma Mia blog. Mia and I have been big fans of the Sea World annual pass (Play for a day come back all year) for almost four years now. Here are two snapshots from our recent trip to Sea World.

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Posted on by Amanda in Foto Friday 1 Comment

Foto Friday: Another Happy Place in Orlando

I wrote awhile ago about a Central Florida book store that I considered to be one of my “happy places.” I’ve now added another locale to my list of “happy places.”

Mia and I take ballet on Saturday mornings at the Russian Ballet of Orlando. I take an adult class in the studio next to her little ballerina class. Fun stuff. It so happens that the studio is directly across the street from the Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar.

Mia loves this place mostly because she likes to call me a Funky Monkey, but also because it’s a cool atmosphere and the food/drinks are awesome. There’s a variety of vegan and non-vegan breakfast and lunch foods and yummy coffee and juice drinks. Come join us on Saturday!

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Posted on by Amanda in Foto Friday, Orlando 3 Comments

V-day Mini-Sessions By Erica Clements… This Weekend!

Ditch the Dora Valentine cards this year and let Erica Clements, Orlando Photographer create an original Valentine from your child.

Erica has a few Valentine’s mini-sessions left for this weekend (Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31) that include:

  • 15 minute studio session
  • Online ordering gallery
  • 8X10 print
  • Set of 50 cards and envelopes
  • $37.50 per additional child, but includes an additional pack of cards

The package price is $75. And, of course there’s a special deal for Mamma Mia readers… You will receive an additional 10% off any prints you order outside of the Valentine’s Day mini session package.

Space is extremely limited so email Erica ASAP.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando Leave a comment

Inaugural Foto Friday

I am the lucky girl who received a fancy shmancy Cannon Rebel for Christmas. As of today, I declare Fridays on the Mamma Mia blog, Foto Friday. Follow my journey as I master the Cannon Rebel and step out of full auto mode. I allowed Mia to caption her photos. Good stuff.

(Oh, and if you are just visiting the blog to get a free subscription to PLAYGROUND Mag and don’t really care about me and my Foto Friday… scroll down to the next post for details.)

“It’s Me”
“I like to make people laugh, right?”
“I sing and I dance A LOT because it makes me happy.”
“Mom, I think I’m dreaming in this one”
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Posted on by Amanda in Foto Friday 2 Comments

Free Subscription to PLAYGROUND Magazine for Mamma Mia Followers

Wow do I have a deal for you!!! PLAYGROUND Magazine, Central Florida’s magazine for modern parents, has offered to provide 2010 subscriptions for followers of the Mamma Mia blog. Seriously, no strings attached.

Now the hard part, or what some of my readers think is the hard part. Actually clicking on the link to the left hand side. You know the one that says FOLLOW THIS BLOG!!!! Yes, friends, I know it’s a task, but just click the button.

From there you will be prompted to sign into a Google, Yahoo or Twitter account to verify your request. If you don’t have any of these accounts, you can create a Google account on that page… and it takes two seconds.

Once you are officially a “follower” you can email your name, address and the promo code: Mamma Mia to PLAYGROUND (click on PLAYGROUND for the email or email subscriptions@playground-magazine.com) and they will take care of setting you up for your FREE 2010 subscription. Capish?

This offer expires January 31, 2009 or when the subscription request reaches 100…  so don’t be lazy and get a move on it.

This is an amazing opportunity for Central Florida parents!

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Posted on by Amanda in PLAYGROUND 2 Comments

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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Posted on by Amanda in Travel Leave a comment

Bye Bye 09

December has been a whirlwind month and 2009….  Well, 2009 has been a whirlwind year. Lots of ups and downs in the Mamma Mia world. What fun would it be without a little craziness, right?

I’m taking the next two weeks to relax, reflect and think about how I can make 2010 the best year yet for me, my family and the Mamma Mia blog. You should do the same. Shut down the Tweet Deck, close out of Facebook and take some time to regroup and figure out how you can be a better person, parent, friend, son, daughter, volunteer etc., etc.

If you have any suggestions, comments or thoughts regarding what you’ve read on Mamma Mia this year or what you’d like to see in the New Year… leave a comment and let me know.

I wish all of you the very happiest of holidays and a very blessed New Year!

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Posted on by Amanda in Random Leave a comment

Calling Central Florida Babies!

Hey Central Florida! babytalk magazine is holding an open casting call Saturday, December 19 at LuLu Belle Baby Boutique in Baldwin Park from 10 am – 12 pm. They are looking for baby boys and girls 3 to 18 months who love the camera! Do not miss it!

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando 6 Comments

Erica Clements Photography

I have never been a fan of the portrait sessions where the photog instantly transports your little one to a snowy meadow or autumn forest by whipping down a backdrop. When Mia was born I convinced myself I would not succumb to the snowy meadow syndrome and instead attempt for the natural environment photos.

I was introduced to local Orlando photographer Erica Clements a year ago. Erica was able to step in and take charge of my quest for “non portrait portraits.” She wowed us with our holiday photo last year and again this year. We are downtown living folks so it only made sense to capture our natural craziness in the landscape of downtown Orlando.

Zoolander, I mean Mia, really took charge of this shoot with her poses and facial expressions. We all had a great time being ourselves and letting Erica capture these amazing “non portrait portraits.”

Check out more of Erica’s fabulous work  www.ericaclements.com

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando 2 Comments
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