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

Fun Travel Prep for Kids - Paris & London

It's not everyday you travel over the pond to such amazing places like Paris and London. I decided to start the journey for me and Mia long before we packed our bags for the airport. Here are a few fun things we did to get ready and excited! My brother sent 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

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

We finally had the chance to visit Disney's Art of Animation Resort this week for a little staycation. It is located where construction on the unfinished half of Disney's Pop Century Resort was started, but later abandoned after 9/11. The resort is the first to be built in the complex 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

Florida Turtle Adventure

During a recent trip to visit friends in Jupiter, FL, we stumbled upon the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. This place is amazing. We knew it was amazing when we saw the designated “after hours turtle hatchling drop off” area at the entrance. The girls wandered through a small aquarium area before heading out near the beach to the state of the art turtle rehabilitation area.

Intrigued with this turtle's story...

Intrigued with this turtle’s story…

Each tank had a different turtle with a unique rescue story. An educator stood at each tank to talk to guests about the turtle’s situation and plan for rehabilitation. From the rehab tank area, you can peek into the indoor medical care area to observe turtles being looked after or undergoing medical testing.

Most all of these turtles will be returned to their natural habitat within days or weeks. Others that are not fit to be released back into the wild will remain or be sent to larger aquarium environments were they will thrive.

New turtle friends.

New turtle friends

The Loggerhead Center is a hidden gem and a wonderful place to take the family. Be sure to stop off on your next trip to South Florida.

 

If you can’t make it to Florida, go to the Center’s website where you can track the progress of their turtles, adopt a turtle of your own or even view a live turtle cam.

Guests are recommended to make a donation upon entering, but there’s no set admission cost.

Follow our family travel adventures on Instagram!

Instagram

 

 

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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 hotel category on the West Coast of Florida.

Ready to set sail.

Ready to set sail.

The hotel is tucked away off of I-75, south of Sarasota and in the small canal filled town of Cape Coral. The drive was three hours from Orlando and from what other guests at the resort said, it was around two and a half hours from West Palm airport. The property is not beach front, but it is on the water with access to Fort Myers beach via water taxi direct from the resort. We took advantage of the water taxi and even spotted a few dolphins on our journey.

Our room was a two-bedroom suite with two bathrooms, a full kitchen plus a washer and dryer. Perfect set-up for a family. All the Westin’s rooms have private screened-in balconies with views of the Gulf of Mexico or the river. Your stay includes a ton of amenities including guest access to three pools, bike rentals, tennis courts and daily resort activities.

Westin Kids Club

Westin Kids Club

The Westin Kids Club, for ages 4 to 12, was definitely a high point of Mia’s trip. Parents can opt for a half-day ($40) or a full day ($70). She did the half day session, which included lunch (bonus!) and crafts.

Not a shabby coffee view.

Not a shabby coffee view.

She made a cute little beach themed tote bag and a colorful flower pot. The Kids Club takes the older kids on outdoor excursions when the weather permits.

The Westin staff was extremely friendly and helpful. From Taylor at the front desk to the wait staff at Marker 92, the onsite restaurant. Taylor was actually one of the main attractions for my kids as they requested continuously to go by and say hi.

 

I spoke with several guests who had scored a variety of room rates. A couple was staying in a room with two double beds for $85 per night. It looks like our two-bedroom suite was going for $195 in October. The fall is the slow season for Florida hotels, but the weather is amazing.

Beautiful views are everywhere!

Beautiful views are everywhere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a mom of two, well let’s say highly energetic girls, the Westin Cape Coral was perfect and fun for all of us.

Follow our family travel adventures on Instagram!

Instagram

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary stay at the Westin Cape Coral to review their new Westin Kids Club. All thoughts and opinions about the Westin Cape Coral are my own. 

 

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World Sight Day

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Rockin the sunnies

Who knew! There is an entire day, Oct. 10, dedicated to keeping our eyes healthy. I was approached about a World Sight Day briefing that was taking place this week and decided to join in on the conversation, as I am admittedly not the best about regular eye exams.

I doubted at first, that I would get much out of the briefing. What could I possibly learn outside of the fact that you should protect your eyes with shades, which as you can see we have no problem with, and regularly visit the eye doctor?

I am so glad I took the time to listen in.  I got some simple tips for me and my computer and sun loving brood.

*To prevent digital eye strain, look away from your computer for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. The 20/20 rule!

*Keep your distance from the screen – 20 – 24 inches.

*Always look for the sticker on sunglasses UVA/UVB protection. Did you know your eyes can get sunburned?

*UV radiation is present year-round.

*Dark leafy greens and foods containing Omega 3 can preserve eye health.

So break out those sunnies, set up your computer and make a salmon salad! For more information on eye health, go to the Vision Council’s website.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post per The Motherhood & Vision Council. All thoughts and opinions are my very own.

 

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Doggie Portraits Sit Stay Pose Promo Code

Artwork courtesy of Etsy Shop Sit Stay Pose

Artwork courtesy of Etsy Shop Sit Stay Pose

If you are like us, your dog is part of the family. Our boxer loves (aka tolerates) being dressed up in capes, headbands and attending tea parties.

My dear friend and dog lover, Anne Dalles, recently discovered she has a special gift for painting dogs. She simply asks for a photo of the pup and goes to town, as you can see by the photo of my girls with our dog, Sam.  I’m obsessed and I feel like most dog lovers out there will be too!

Anne gave me a special code for readers of my blog to use on her Etsy shop for a 20% discount. It’s good through 11/20 with the code MAMMAMIA20.

The Inspiration Girls & Sam

The Inspiration Girls & Sam

This would make an awesome Christmas gift for the dog lover in your family! Prices vary on how many dogs or kids are featured in the art and on canvas size.

 

 

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Frog Trouble Giveaway

I’m not a huge country music fan, but the new music CD Frog Trouble had my girls dancing around their playroom, smiling and laughing uncontrollably…. Therefore, I was sold.  It’s nice every now and then to shut off the TV and just listen to some fun music. Big names like Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, Darius Rucker and Dwight Yoakam come together to create this fun tune compilation, Frog Trouble. Don’t take my word for it. Watch the clip.

Grammy nominated and bestselling children’s author, songwriter and music producer, Sandra Boynton, is the mastermind behind Frog Trouble. Boynton produced the tracks mostly in Nashville, with renowned session musicians and an All-Star roster.

Frog Trouble

Frog Trouble

I am so excited to have 3 copies of Frog Trouble to give away!

How to Win

1.) Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite children’s song.

2.) Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

3.) Follow me on Twitter @amandamkeefer. I love to share parenting tips and will have more giveaways coming up so you won’t be disappointed!

I will select a winner on Thursday, October 17 at 3 pm. Good luck!

I was provided with a complimentary copy of Frog Trouble, but all opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 25 Comments

A Letter From The Slowest Generation

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Ready to Run!

It’s times like these that make me very happy to have this little blog of mine… I would have posted this in the comment section of Mr. Hellikers’s article in the Wall Street Journal, but you aren’t able to leave comments, because apparently I have to subscribe to WSJ ($26.99 for first three months) to be able to have an opinion. This is a great way to ensure editorial only receives comments from the most dedicated (paying) readers. Good job WSJ.

If you haven’t had a chance to click through the article... Mr. Helliker attempts to make the point that the current generation of runners is the “slowest generation” because they partake in fun runs that do not keep track of race times. While I’m on the cusp of being a Gen Y member, born in 1980,which I believe is the generation to which, based on his article, he is referring to (20 – 33 years of age on average), I disagree. I decided to publish my response below.

Dear Mr. Helliker,

As I ran the Color Run with my 7-year-old daughter last Sunday I realized that, yes, there were a lot of walkers in this “run”, but I also realized there were a lot of people out walking who might otherwise still be in bed because they aren’t a trained marathon runner like yourself. There were lots of families running together. I’m sure they felt like this was a fun way to get the entire family out for a fun run that wasn’t super intimidating. I’m sure you are aware of the recent reports on childhood obesity? Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Crazy, right, that this happened under the watchful eye of your very “fast” generation? Do you  disagree that we as Americans should be doing everything in our power to make fitness fun for our youth? Even if that means not tracking race times?

I was in the company of a few friends Sunday who aren’t typical 5K runners, but after partaking in the Color Run, felt like maybe a 5K wasn’t so bad. Wow, what a concept, introducing folks to the world of running who wouldn’t typically see themselves as runners. It took making something fun and not-intimidating to give them the confidence to want to do another 5K. Maybe even one that tracks their race time, maybe over a few years, giving them the confidence to run a marathon.

So please Mr. Helliker, you continue to run your marathons and finish in the top 11%… Make sure we all know about it. It’s because of people like you that many people feel intimidated to get out and run. It’s people like you who would make it uncomfortable for me to introduce a 5K to my 7-year-old daughter.

Would be great to see an article about what we can do to stop the removal of physical education programs from our schools or maybe what advice you have for first time runners. Instead of bashing an entire generation, you might want to use your extensive running knowledge and expertise to help better it.

Sincerely,

A member of the “slowest” generation

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Fitness & Health, Parenting 4 Comments

Bugs In My Hair – Book Giveaway

Bugs In My Hair By David Shannon

Bugs In My Hair By David Shannon

Through the years, we’ve had our share of “lice” scares. The email goes out from the preschool/elementary school saying that a student has lice… The chaos of checking through hair and worrying about every speck or flake ensues. I’ve found myself explaining exactly what lice is, in the kindest most non grossed out way possible, time and time again. No matter how many times I explain, it leaves us all itching, even when there is nothing to itch.

This book, Bugs In My Hair by David Shannon, makes light of lice and will truly make dealing with the issue easier for any family. It talks about getting rid of lice, but in a humorous way that kids and adults alike will appreciate. I recommend every family has this book on hand for those incidents that WILL come up over the years!

I have 3 hardback copies of Bugs In My Hair to giveaway! These are perfect for any classroom or family library. This hardback book retails at $17.99.

How To Enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite book to read with your family.

 

For Extra Entries:

  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment letting me know you did.
  • Share with your friends on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did.
  • Follow me on Twitter! @amandamkeefer

I’ll contact winners on Thursday, October 3. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck!

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 51 Comments

Family Fun At Idlewild Park

I’ve been meaning to post about a summer day trip we took while at my parent’s house in the Pittsburgh area. We had the chance to visit Idlewild Park, just about an hour outside of Pittsburgh.

Family fun at Idlewild

Family fun at Idlewild

I grew up going to Idlewild, and remarkably, not a whole lot has changed. However, this park somehow manages to keep the new generation of kids just as entertained as the one before. Not to mention the park was just awarded the Golden Ticket for Best Children’s Park by Amusement Today Magazine

Storybook Forest, Jumping Jungle, Olde Idlewild and Soak Zone are the main areas at Idlewild. The park is just big enough to not be exhausting. As a parent, this is VERY important. We all loved strolling through Storybook Forest and interacting with the nursery rhyme characters. Charli tried desperately to remove the sword from the stone. Jumping Jungle had all of us, grown ups included, jumping into the ball pit and rope climbing like champions. We were ready for our picnic lunch after all the jumping. We brought a cooler (yes, you can do that at Idlewild) and left it at a picnic table near our car.

Idlewild Park and Soak Zone

Idlewild Park and Soak Zone

After lunch, we broke apart – little kids went to ride Olde Idlewild’s kiddie rides and the kids at heart went on some of the more thrilling rides in Olde Idlewild. We didn’t make it to the Soak Zone during this trip, but you can get all the details here. From what I’ve heard, the Soak Zone aligns with the rest of the park and has areas that are fun for every age.

Often, there are deals at Giant Eagle or other local businesses in the Pittsburgh area so keep an eye out. The park is a summer family favorite, but they are also open for weekends in September and October and have family Halloween activities. Campgrounds are close by and if you are visiting the Pittsburgh area, it’s just a short drive.

I wanted to post this info because so many friends had asked about my Instagram and Facebook photos from our trip. It really lives up to its accolade as Best Children’s Park. Next summer seems far off, but keep Idlewild top of mind when you start to plan!

Keep up with our family adventures through my Instagram.
Instagram

 

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Adventures of Bella & Harry Giveaway

Our family loves to travel, but we haven’t had the opportunity to get to far away places like the adorable Chihuahuas Bella & Harry who visit Rome and Edinburgh in their two newest adventure books. Someday we will get there!

Bella & Harry Let's Visit Edinburgh

Bella & Harry Let’s Visit Edinburgh

The Bella & Harry series was developed to inspire young readers to embrace the world and encourage its exploration. This is creatively done through the funny yet informative adventures of cute sibling Chihuahuas Bella and Harry, while traveling through various countries.

Bella & Harry Let's Visit Rome

Bella & Harry Let’s Visit Rome

Whether you are planning a trip or just in the mood to take an imaginative journey, these books are great way for kids, and parents, to learn about these far off places in a fun way. I definitely felt a little more worldly myself after reading the books with the girls.

I am obsessed with this series because it aspires to stimulate children’s imaginations and helps them to  understand the world in which we live.

I have both Bella & Harry Let’s Visit Rome and Bella & Harry Let’s Visit Edinburgh to give away to one (1) lucky reader.

 

 

How to Enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know what far off place you hope to visit with your family someday. 

Extra Entries:

I’ll announce the winner on Monday, August 26. Happy discovering!

I was provided copies of Bella & Harry Let’s Visit Rome and Bella & Harry Let’s Visit Edinburgh for review.  

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Travel 27 Comments

Disney on Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes – Win Tix!

While I’m on a Disney roll, I am excited to let everyone know that Disney on Ice is coming back to Orlando’s Amway Center the weekend of September 9 for Disney on Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes.

Amway Center Sept. 9 - 11

Amway Center Sept. 9 – 11

Guests to the show can join Ariel (my personal fave princess) as she yearns to explore the world above the waves and Prince Eric breaks Ursula’s slithering spell to reclaim his one true love. Also in the line up, Prince Philip defeats the evil Maleficent as she transforms herself into a fire-breathing dragon in a race against time to rescue Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora. Princesses & Heroes comes full circle with appearances by Jasmine and Aladdin, Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel and Tiana!

We’ve been to the show the past two years and are always in awe at the high flying jumps, acrobatics and amazing skating. Not to mention the Disney friends on hand. 

Join us for the show! Enter below to WIN a family 4-pack of tickets to either the Friday, Sept. 13 7:30 pm show or the Saturday, Sept. 14 11 am show. If you aren’t selected for the family 4-pack, you can use special offer code MOMDOI when you purchase to receive a $4 discount on tickets.

How To Enter:

  • Leave a comment with the name of your favorite princess or hero.

Extra Entries:

  • Like Disney on Ice on Facebook and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.
  • Tweet about the contest with a link to the tweet in the comments. Tweet: Win a family 4-pack tix to @DisneyOnIce in #Orlando @mammamiafl http://www.themammamiablog.com.

I’ll notify the winner on Friday, August 23.

Hope to see you at the show!

See pictures as I post from Princesses & Heroes and witness our other family adventures on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
Instagram

We will attend the show as guests of Feld Entertainment. All views and opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 22 Comments
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