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

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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Posted on by Amanda in Travel Leave a comment

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

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 Lobby Art of Animationconstruction 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 in over seven years and the fifth to be placed in the value-priced category, along with Disney’s All-Star resort family. Family suites opened in May 2012, and standard rooms opened in September 2012. It took us some time, but we finally made a visit last week with my mom in town.

I wasn’t keen on visiting any of the parks in mid-July at the height of tourist season and heat in Florida so I felt a stay at Art of Animation might just do the trick. Upon arrival, there was a sketch artist sketching away and the lobby was decorated with sketches from popular Disney films. I knew right then as my daughters sat mesmerized watching the artist, that we had made a great decision.

We stayed at The Little Mermaid building, which was perfect for the girls and our short staycation. The entire room was themed after the popular Disney movie. Even the bathtub was painted to represent Ariel’s treasure trove. The Little Mermaid pool area is surrounded by large characters from the movie.

Nemo's Splash PadThe other resort themed buildings include Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars. My girls had a blast walking through the center area between the resorts and bonding with the extremely well-done characters from the movies and replicated atmospheres.

At Nemo’s Big Blue Pool, my mom and I indulged in a signature cocktail, which was a reasonable $7.50 and the girls swam around in the beach entry pool under the large water spraying jellyfish. There’s a splashpad where my two-year-old spent a huge amount of time splashing around and poolside activities kept the kids entertained all day. Did I mention this is the largest Disney resort pool? There was even a showing of Cinderella under the stars poolside.

The Landscape of Flavors eatery had a wide variety of food to select from and healthy side selections like grapes, apples and yogurt for the girls. I had a Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.05.47 PMdelicious veggie burger. For four of us (two adults and two children) our dinner came to about $35. That’s a great price for a meal on Disney property.

In total, there are 1,984 rooms, of which 1,120 are family suites capable of housing up to six people, featuring living rooms and bedrooms. Our room for one night was $148 (prices vary) plus tax. Check on prices here.  As a mom on a budget, this price is super attractive for family fun.

Art of Animation

This was definitely a memory with Nana that will last a lifetime. We had a blast. I can say for sure, we will be going back sometime in the fall for Charli’s birthday!

 

Check out more photos from our most recent Art of Animation visit and other family adventures on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
Instagram

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Posted on by Amanda in Travel Leave a comment

Must Have Preschooler App

Endless ABC is available for iPhone and iPad.

Endless ABC is available for iPhone and iPad

A mom at my daughter’s school alerted me to Endless ABC, aka the best preschooler app ever.

I simply could not resist sharing with all my other parent friends out there! In just a month, my two-year-old is able to identify all of her letters. She has also caught onto the phonetics that go along with each letter.

Word like HILARIOUS are introduced to toddler's vocab.

Word like HILARIOUS are introduced to preschooler’s vocab.

 

With this app, kids select a word and then the playful monsters throw the letters about. It’s up to your preschooler to put the word back together. As they drag each letter to its spot, the sound the letter makes blares out in a funny and catchy way. Once your child completes the word, the crowd cheers and the lovable monsters demonstrate the definition of the word.

Whether you’re commuting or waiting for your meal at the restaurant, this is the perfect way to keep your preschooler occupied and learning at the same time. You are welcome.

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting 1 Comment

Zoe’s Room (No Sisters Allowed)

The girls love sharing a room... now.

The girls love sharing a room… now.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, it is obvious that my girls have recently moved into the same bedroom. When I heard my friends at Scholastic had a new book, Zoe’s Room (No Sisters Allowed) by Bethanie Deeney Murguia, I knew they had to be spying in on my life.

Win a copy below!

Win a copy below!

We recently moved Charli over to Mia’s room to free up a little space in the house for a guest room. It wasn’t the easiest transition as both girls were accustomed to their very own space. As time passed, it has turned out be one of the best decisions I’ve made.

In this super cute book, Zoe goes through the same thing I imagine Mia going through. She has to figure out how to make her “system” work along with her little sister instead of against her.

In the book, Zoe is the Queen of the whole Universe… but her favorite part in the Universe is her own room, where she hosts tea parties, builds empires out of blocks and gazes out upon the stars.

Then her parents announce that her little sister is moving in to Zoe’s room. Little sisters aren’t good at tea parties (too rude), block building (too clumsy) and starwatching (just plain too young!). Turns out the new little roommate is a pain until Zoe discovers that even her smallest subjects can be useful in a storm.

Take a peak inside the book at the clip below.

Want to win your very own copy of Zoe’s Room (No Sisters Allowed)? I have two copies to giveaway!

How to Enter:

  • Leave a tip in the comments for parents moving siblings into the same bedroom. Or, leave a funny anecdote about your own experience.

For extra entries:

  • Follow @mammamiafl on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  • Follow @scholastic on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave a link to your tweet.

I’ll choose a winner Friday, June 21 at 3 pm. The giveaway is limited to U.S. entrants. Good luck!

Scholastic provided me with a copy of Zoe’s Room (No Sisters Allowed) for review. All prizing is courtesy of Scholastic. Opinions delivered on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own. 

 

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Parenting 8 Comments

Cutter Giveaway

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 10.08.04 PM

Enter to win $55 worth of Cutter products!

As a follow up to my previous post, I am excited to offer a Cutter product giveaway valued at $55. The winner of the giveaway will receive the same amazing box of products that I was able to sample.

There are 10 different Cutter products in the winning package including four outdoor candles. Who doesn’t love a great candle? Especially candles that ward off West Nile carrying mosquitos!

How to Enter:

*Leave a comment letting me know how you protect your family from pesky summer bugs.

Extra Entries:

*Like Cutter on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

*Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment with a link to the tweet.

I’ll select a winner at random on Thursday, June 13 at 3 pm. Good luck!

I received complimentary products and compensation from Cutter. However, all opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own. 

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 92 Comments

Oh Joy! It’s Mosquito Season.

If there is a mosquito within one mile of me, I am sure to have ten huge welts on my  legs. You’d think after living in Florida for ten years, I would have developed some type of immunity…  No such luck. I now have two little girls who have unfortunately acquired my mosquito magnet gene.

With the Florida weather heating up, hearing from Cutter last month was more than timely. As you know, Mamma Mia is not a review focused blog, and I only work with about 10% of the companies who contact me. However, when it’s a company,like Cutter, that is aligned with my family, I jump at the chance to talk about it.

Cutter generously sent my mosquito magnet magnet family a handful of their amazing products. We had an outdoor movie night with a few friends last weekend and had fun testing them out. We challenged  those pesky Florida mosquitos to come and get us. Cutter Natural, was great for the entire family. My fave was the Cutter Dry, with no oil or grease and of course the Citroguard candles!

Mia loving the Cutter Natural spray

Mia loving the Cutter Natural spray

Cutter SSSS

Cutter Dry – No oil or grease!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutter Citrogaurd Candle

Cutter Citroguard Candle

More Cutter products to keep off the Florida bugs!

More Cutter products to keep off the Florida bug life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, a mosquito free movie night!

And now, a mosquito free movie night!

Cutter offers great tips, giveaways and more on their Facebook page. You can find Cutter on Facebook here and on Pinterest here.  

I received complimentary products and compensation from Cutter. However, all opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own. 

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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting Leave a comment
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