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

Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

Mia has a book called Samantha's Silly-icious Sandwiches. Samantha gets sick of having the same boring sandwich in her lunch everyday and decides to create her own unique sandwiches. Her "Silly-icious Sandwiches" turn into a hit at school and a booming business, which she soon hands over for her 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

Pinypon Dolls Holiday Giveaway

I don’t do many product giveaways, but I came across Pinypon dolls this holiday season and couldn’t resist. They are cute, age appropriate, colorful, interchangeable, collectible and best of all affordable.

I love the fact that these dolls employ imagination with their interchangeable outfits, accessories, hairstyles and even faces. My girls were excited to create their own special friends. The more dolls, the more characters girls can create. Pinypon dolls are recommended for ages 3 and up and they are, again, totally affordable starting at $2.99.

Pinypon

Here in Orlando, you can pick them up at Wal-mart. Or, you can win them by entering my giveaway! I’m giving away exactly what you see in the photo here. It’s four dolls and two pets. (A girl can’t be without her pet.)

How to Enter: 

  • Leave a comment below with your best Christmas shopping strategy

 

For Extra Entries: 

  • Follow @Pinypon on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know
  • Follow @mammamiafl on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know
  • Tweet about the contest (you can do this daily) and leave a comment with the link to the tweet

 

I’ll be contacting a winner next Friday, December 21 at 3 pm. I use Random.org to select my giveaway winners. Good luck friends!

I was provided with a sample produce for review from Pinypon. However, all opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own.  

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 34 Comments

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in Orlando and Ticket Giveaway

It’s that time of year again! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is back in town with their show Built to Amaze!

Be a part of the brand-new spectacles from around the world immersed in the circus tradition. Experience it live in Orlando! Going to the circus with your family is a tradition that never, ever gets old. The show will be at the Amway Center Jan. 10-13. Great way to kick off the New Year! Tickets start at $15 and are available at ticketmaster.com and the Amway Center Box Office.

Built To Amaze!

Performances:

Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7:30pm

Friday, Jan. 11 at 7:30pm

Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11:30am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm

Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1pm and 5pm

Best value for families is definitely the Family Value Pack for $88.00. This includes 4 $15 tickets, 4 small lemonades, 4 small popcorns, and 4 lollipops. This offer is valid for any performance except those on Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at the Amway Center ticket office or ticketmaster.com.

I have a family four-pack of tickets to give away!

How to Enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know, what you think is a Circus staple ie. tigers, clowns.
  • You can also tweet about the contest daily for extra entries. Just leave a comment below with the link to your tweet.

The winner will be notified once the giveaway closes on Friday, December 21 at 3 pm.

The Mamma Mia Blog will attend the show as guests of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. All views and opinions on this blog are my very own. 

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Posted on by Amanda in Deals, Giveaways, Orlando 39 Comments

10 Tips For Visiting Disney World Fantasyland

We live in Orlando so it was pretty much mandatory we check out Disney’s new Fantasyland last weekend during the soft opening. My wonderful uncle had sent along a handful of “after 4 pm” passes for me to use before Dec. 31 so timing was perfect.

New Fantasyland

Limited on time with our “after 4 pm” passes, we didn’t have the chance to experience every detail of Fantasyland. However, I did play the part of “extremely annoying and inquisitive theme park girl” and had  way too many questions for Disney cast members. (I’m sure my face is on a list somewhere.) I’ve also been getting the inside scoop from local Orlando friends. Official Grand Opening is tomorrow – Dec. 6.

And now, I present to you my top 10 insider tips for Disney’s new Fantasyland!

1.) Meet Ariel on her turf. The girls were ecstatic to meet Ariel in her Grotto. The line (on a busy holiday weekend) was only 20 minutes and moved quickly. The girls enjoyed toying around with the seashells imbedded in the walls during our wait. The photographers let us take our time once we reached Ariel too. Bonus!

2.) Join the Circus.  Don’t pass up Storybook Circus. It’s full of fun and home to the classic Dumbo ride and the Barnstormer kiddie roller coaster, an all-time Magic Kingdom favorite. Luckily, Barnstormer made the transition over to Fantasyland from the former Toon Town. Casey Jr. Splash & Soak Station looks like it would be tons of fun on a hot Orlando day.

3.) Have fun waiting for Dumbo. Much to my surprise the Dumbo line dumped us into a play area complete with activities for little ones and older kids. The adult receives a pager when the group enters the play area and the pager goes off when it’s near time to ride. The play area was a little hectic, but genius for avoiding typical line waiting meltdowns.

Ariel’s Grotto

4.) See Disney friends up close and in one place. At Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Minnie are circus stars and ready to meet guests. We were limited on time so our meet and greet was with Ariel, but this is on the list for next visit. Always good to know where you can find all of the characters in one place instead of meeting by chance on a park walkway!

5.) Go Under The Sea. The ride itself is built into Prince Eric’s castle. No worries on meltdowns in this line either! Kids are entertained with Scuttle’s scavenger hunt and the chance for little ones to sort Ariel’s whosits and whatsits. Fun things to do in line means sanity for parents. Thank you Disney. Guests board a giant clam shell and ride through musical scenes from The Little Mermaid.

6.) Be A Guest.  Beast’s castle is actually the Be Our Guest, quick service food by day and fine dining by night restaurant. This is one of the most touted attractions in Fantasyland! I’m going to go ahead and recommend making a dinner reservation for the next, um, forever if you plan on dining there. Be Our Guest might be on your list as a parent spending the day in busy Disney for multiple reasons, but important to note it is the ONLY place in Magic Kingdom that serves beer and wine… Just sayin.

7.) Live the story.  Enchanted Tales With Belle lets you step into the actual story reliving the “tale as old as time” with recognizable characters leading the way. The journey begins in Maurice’s workshop. The actual “story telling” lasts around 20-30 minutes so be prepared if you have, say… a two-year-old who doesn’t like to cooperate or be confined. However, if they are obsessed with princesses and Belle, like my little one, you are good to go.

Gaston & my girls outside his tavern

8.) More than just a tavern.Gaston’s Tavern is more than just a quick-service food spot. Go inside, take a seat in Gatson’s chair and have a delicious A LeFou’s Brew. Brew is made up of  no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. Yum! The tavern is an attraction in itself and my girls ran into Gaston right outside.

 9.) If you’re wondering why there’s still some construction going on, it’s because there’s more to come!  Princess Fairy Tale Hall will be home to the Disney Princess meet and greet and is scheduled to open in 2013. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will open in 2014.

10.) There will be a wait. Lastly, it’s inevitable there will be a line and there will be a wait. I think as a parent once you put yourself in that mindset, your day will be a lot better. There’s always Fast Pass, if it’s available. Pack snacks and drinks to save money on in between meal hunger and don’t forget that Mickey Mouse and princess costume from home. This will save you on souvenir purchases!

Get more insider tips from my friend here in Orlando The Suburban Mom or visit Disney’s Fantasyland page.

Check out photos from our most recent Magic Kingdom visit on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
Instagram

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel 6 Comments

Christmas At Sea World Orlando & Ticket Giveaway

We never miss Christmas at Sea World and neither should you! My absolute favorite thing to see is the Sea of Trees, where over 100 massive trees, each sparkling, lighted and choreographed to classic holiday tunes, making a dramatic display around SeaWorld’s center lake. Mia counts the days until she can take a ride on the Polar Express to see Santa Claus at the Wild Arctic exhibit.

Sea of Trees

The daily shows, like Clyde and Seamore and Shamu show, are transformed with a holiday twist. A Sesame Street Christmas is a great show for the little ones and all ages will enjoy watching the world-class figure skaters amaze the crowd.

If you get to Sea World during the Christmas season you can get your Fun Card to come back throughout 2013. It’s the best deal for sure – $89 and $81 for kids 3-9. A whole year of family activities are lined up for you and already paid for ahead of time. Just Kids is coming up in January and there’s always Summer Nights and Halloween Spooktacular.

And now for good news… I am giving away four entrance tickets to a lucky winner to enjoy Christmas at Sea World! (The tickets need to be used prior to December 31, 2012)

To Enter: All you need to do is comment on this post telling me a sea creature who you think might be on the naughty list. There are no right or wrong answer here! Just a little holiday fun.

For Extra Entries: Follow @mammamiafl on Twitter and tweet the contest daily for extra entries. You need to leave a comment letting me know you did so for the entry to count.

Winner: The winner will be randomly selected from the entries on Wednesday, December 5 at 3 pm.

I just uploaded photos from our most recent Sea World Christmas visit to Instagram! Be sure to follow me!
Instagram

*Sea World provided four tickets to be given away on The Mamma Mia Blog. All thoughts and opinions about Sea World are my own.

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando 57 Comments

The Kiddie Journal

It’s extremely therapeutic to get your thoughts down on paper or in a journal. It helps to look at things from a different perspective and often times helps identify the root of what seems like a big issue. My big girl has been super emotional lately. I’m not sure if it’s the pressures of first grade or what it could be, but I decided to try some kiddie journal therapy.

Kiddie Journal

My plan started with talking about things that make her happy and things that make her sad/anxious and the best ways to react to these situations. I purchased a large drawing sketch pad and encouraged her to draw pictures of things that make her feel a certain way. While the journal started out as a platform to deal with emotions, it morphed into a daily journal of what she did each day.

Her emotions seem to be back in check (as much as they can be for a six-year-old) and she loves her new daily journal. We sit together and look at all the fun things we do, no matter how simple they might be.

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Parenting 1 Comment

Sea Creatures, Tricks and Treats Oh My!

We’ve been doing Sea Word’s annual Spooktacular for a few years now and each year seems just a little more Spooktacular!

Sea World Halloween Spooktacular

The Spooktacular festivities are taking places weekends in October (now) from 12 – 8 pm and entry is included with admission. We take advantage of the annual pass offer every year so the Spooktacular is a no-brainer when it comes to Halloween activities for us in Orlando.

The fun colorful characters and scenery really make  Spooktacular for me and my girls. Oh, and the bubbles… There are bubble machines in every direction. The elaborately costumed sea creatures are super friendly and I’ve never run into a long line for a photo opp. This year, the Spooktacular fun spills over into Happy Harbor, where kids can partake in the usual Harbor fun and hop on a Spooktacular train ride.

We had a chance to catch  Sesame Street Countdown to Halloween, which you can see at different times daily, before we started our trick-or-treat adventure. My little one was mesmerized by her Sesame Street friends all dressed up for Halloween.

Coming from a Spooktacular expert, here are my top tips:

Sea witches!

  • Don’t do Spooktacular right at noon. Waiting till late afternoon is best – cooler and less crowded.
  • Sea World provides treat bags for collecting goodies so leave your trick or treat bags at home unless you really want to lug them.
  • Make sure you take the path for Penelope’s Party Zone – lots of crafting fun and a dance party (think top fun dance hits, limbo and hula hooping waterside) your little ones will love.
  • Bring a change of clothes if you are going in costume and plan on seeing some other sites. Not fun being splashed by Shamu in costume.
Go forth and be spooky!

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel 3 Comments

Kinda Sorta Chicken Tortilla Chili

Over the past year, my kitchen has turned into a test kitchen for multiple recipes that pretty much result from having limited items in my pantry/fridge. It’s a game for me to see what I can create out of what I have. It doesn’t always turn out well, but sometimes it does. I’ve mentioned the amazing Chicken Tortilla Chili I made a few weeks ago to a few friends and have now been asked several times to post the recipe. So, before I forget the recipe… Here you go!

Kinda Sorta Chicken Tortilla Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 medium size tomato
  • 1/4 cup jalapeno peppers (if desired)
  • Tsp. Chili powder
  • Tsp. Garlic salt
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 large chicken breast
  • Tortilla strips

Directions: 

Throw it all in the slow cooker and walk away. Just kidding. Add all ingredients except for the tomato, onion and jalapeno peppers into the slow cooker. Throw the tomato, onion and jalapeno peppers in a chopper or food processor until chopped to almost puree status. Add them to the slow cooker. Place the chicken breast on top. Cook on high for 3 hours and low for 2 hours. Shred chicken and throw tortilla strips on top. Add a dash of sour cream if you are in the mood. This will feed about five people.

Enjoy!

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Healthy Eating Leave a comment

Share Our Strength & First Watch Giveaway

My family consists of multiple breakfast and brunch loving humans. We are definitely familiar with the awesome breakfast and brunch at First Watch. I’m happy to report First Watch will be donating 25 cents to Share Our Strength from every kids meal purchased in hopes of raising $50,000 within the yearlong campaign. (The campaign started this week!) $50,000 would more than double the $42,000 First Watch has raised since 2009. If you haven’t heard of Share Our Strength, they are an organization looking to end childhood hunger by 2015 – enough said. 

Everyone knows healthy eating is a topic near and dear to my heart so I’m also happy to report the restaurant has announced a new, interactive kids’ menu in cooperation with the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program. Kids menu offerings at First Watch are now being recognized for featuring items that meet qualifying nutrition criteria based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. Hooray! 

In celebration I have 5, yes 5, First Watch kids cards to give away to readers. Simply leave a comment below letting me know your child’s favorite healthy breakfast or brunch item. Get an extra entry for following The Mamma Mia Blog on Twitter and leaving a comment to let me know.

Giveaway Details: 

  • Offer valid for one meal from the Kids Menu with purchase of an adult entrée
  • Redeemable at any First Watch Restaurant by 12/31/12
  • Open daily 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • To find your local First Watch, visit www.firstwatch.com

Winners will be selected on Wednesday, October 3 at 3 pm. 


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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Healthy Eating 3 Comments

Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

Mia has a book called Samantha’s Silly-icious Sandwiches. Samantha gets sick of having the same boring sandwich in her lunch everyday and decides to create her own unique sandwiches. Her “Silly-icious Sandwiches” turn into a hit at school and a booming business, which she soon hands over for her mom to run. Typical kid.

It’s a cute book, but after reading it I started to think about how boring packed lunches can be. Most parents opt for the PB&J with pre-packaged sides. It’s easy, but might not be the healthiest or most fun.

Over at Produce for Kids, we have a whole slew of packable lunchbox ideas for parents in the online recipe bank.They are easy! I promise.

I visited the Life, Love, Shopping studios here in Orlando a few weeks ago to demonstrate two of my  fave lunches from Produce for Kids. Check it out.

Stay updated with the latest recipes and tips by liking the Produce for Kids Facebook page! 

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Posted on by Amanda in Healthy Eating Leave a comment

Back to School

There are pros and cons to this infamous time of year. The biggest pro for me is being back on a schedule. There’s a certain sense of calm knowing exactly where your kids will be each day and for exactly how long. No camp coordination till next year! Woo hoo!

Off to conquer 1st Grade and 2-Yr-Old Class

Now the cons – being back on a schedule. Yes, it’s a con too. This means the snooze button is not an option. This means there are lunches to be packed and bed times to be had. This also means a new year of math homework for my 1st grader. This means another year closer to the year when I can’t help anymore because my math skills are on a third grade level. (Hell to me is the equivalent of life as an accountant) But, shhhhh… I’m good at pretending math is sheer awesomeness.

Regardless of pros and cons, back to school can be fun. Mia doesn’t wear a uniform and I’ve always been pretty stringent on what she wears. When I told her she could pick her own outfits this year as long as they met school dress code she nearly passed out.

Twinkle Toes

She has spent the past three nights selecting outfits for the following day. I even gave into the three year request for Twinkle Toes. (See photo on right for reference) Oh, and the toes light up!! I’m more of a Sperry girl myself so these are kind of out of my element. Mia’s whimsical self needs creative outlets. I’m stepping out of the way.

A friend of mine has an awesome blog over at Parenting.com. She too has seen the light and is letting her little one lead the fashion way this year. Her post How Cynthia Rowley Changed My Daughter’s Life  is a must read for any fashion focused parents.

May the force be with you parents!

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Fashion, Parenting Leave a comment