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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Summer is winding down and that means it’s time for Tax Free Weekend in Florida! Parents can get ahead of the game and pick up some of those much needed back to school items – tax free! If you can make it out this weekend, here are some items you can get tax free.
Lake Buena Vista Factory Store
A great place to shop (all year round) is Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. (I’m an extreme bargain shopper by default. You should meet my mom.) The village-style center offers a friendly shopping experience, and there are over 50 stores! With deals going on daily, shoppers can find all their back to school needs.
I want you to take advantage of the great deals regardless if it’s Tax Free Weekend or not! We could all use a little back to school assistance, right? How does a $50 gift certificate to Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores sound?
How to Win:
Leave a comment noting your child’s most sought after back to school item.
Tweet about the contest daily for extra entries. Just leave a comment with the tweet.
I’ll be selecting a winner on Friday, August 17. Even if you don’t win the $50 gift cert, you can get in on the savings by downloading a coupon from the Center’s website, then bringing it to Travelpro at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores to receive a coupon booklet valued at up to $400 in savings!
Just the title of the new Disney On Ice show has me counting down to show time! In a new twist on fairytale fun, favorite Disney characters compete to be the next superstar in comical segments leading up to the tales of show stopping princesses – Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, and Merida from Disney•Pixar’s BRAVE in her ice debut!
Mickey and Minnie encounter the most talented performers in the land with an all-star lineup that includes Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Tangled and the spunky enchanted servants from Beauty and the Beast. The journey continues to the Scottish highlands where audiences will be captivated and star struck by Merida, as an exhilarating archery contest ensues for the right to marry the fiery redhead.
Good news! I’m giving away a family four-pack to the show!
How to enter:
Leave a comment below letting me know which character you are most excited to see.
Extra entries daily for tweeting! Just leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
I’ll select a winner on Wed. Aug. 15 at 3 pm.
Tickets for performances at the Amway Center are on sale now! If you don’t win the giveaway, I still have a special offer for you. You can get 4 tickets for just $48! This special offer is valid for specific show times: Sept. 7 at 7:30 pm and Sept. 9 at 1 and 5 pm by entering the code MOM12 at checkout.
Additional showtimes are Saturday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 and 7:30 pm. See you at the show!
Disclosure: My family will attend the show as a guest of Feld Entertainment.
Reading has been a huge focus in my house this summer. After a school year of hard work, I couldn’t risk back tracking on my kindergartners fast track to reading stardom.
Soar With Reading!
Luckily there are several great summer reading programs out there. One in particular is the national initiative from JetBlue and PBS KIDS, taking place again this summer, designed to help place books in the hands of kids in need and keep kids reading all summer long.
Hurry now and go to the Soar With Reading site (or click straight through on the image to the right) and share your favorite childhood book. With every share, JetBlue will donate a book to a child in need in grant cities. (Orlando is included in this group!) On the site parents can also find tips and downloadable activities to keep kids inspired to read all summer long.
Click here to learn more about the program
We missed out on the fun event held at our local library in Orlando because we were on vacation last week. But there are two more summer events taking place in L.A. and New York. Find out more details!
Win! Win!Leave a comment below letting me know what you are doing to keep reading alive this summer for a chance to win a JetBluetravel backpack filled with summer reading materials.
I’ll select a winner on Friday, August 3 so get commenting. You can get an extra entry by tweeting about the giveaway and letting me know in a separate comment below.
Disclaimer: JetBlue provided me with reading materials for my daughter and a reading inspired backpack to giveaway to a lucky reader. Mamma Mia fully supports the Soar With Reading initiative.
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 like you would for a human. All the while the characters are in the process of saving the aging Aquarium, which they do with Winter’s help.
That's Winter behind Mia's big smile!
We decided this summer would be a great time to meet Winter in person. Only about 1.5 hours from Orlando is beautiful Clearwater Beach and the somewhat small Aquarium. Staff at the Aquarium give you the feeling they are family and all have a vested interest in the success of the facility. Mia likes to talk and the staff there took the time to answer EVERY SINGLE question she had with no sign of annoyance. There are no bells and whistles here, but in a good way. Just fish, sharks, dolphins, stingrays, turtles, otters, local shell and geography exhibits and daily educational shows that incorporate the marine life.
Mia & Charli checking out the prosthetic tail
After the success of Dolphin Tale, the Aquarium now has a new facility located just a trolleyride away that is dedicated to the making of the movie – Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure. We weren’t able to get to this facility, but it was included in our entrance price and the trolleyride is free! Winter calls the main Aquarium home.
I highly recommend visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for an authentic marine life experience. Prices are reasonable. $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids. Teachers and active military get in free! There are often coupons available like this one on TampaBay360 for $2 off each ticket purchased.
Has your family had a chance to experience the newest sports craze sweeping the Orlando area? If not, I advise you get out with your family this summer and catch an Orlando City Soccer game. Every game has family activities including themed game nights (from Go Pink to Back to School) with fan zone activities, charity drives and more. A fun inexpensive summer outing for sure!
I’m not a soccer expert by any means, but I’m learning… and hoping Mia will too. Good news for me – Orlando City Youth Soccer is right in our backyard! Orlando City Youth offers recreational leagues and camps for those who want to learn more about the game.
Orlando City Soccer is hosting weekly youth summer camps throughout July and August that include both half and full-day options ranging in scope from basic soccer skills for the younger groups, up to position-specific camps for the more experienced players. What a cool way to introduce your kids to soccer!
And now great news for you! I have one week of summer camp to give away to a lucky reader.
Get out and play!
Leave a comment below letting me know how your kids are getting out and getting active this summer and you’ll be entered into the giveaway, which will be selected at random on Wednesday, July 11.
*Fun fact: These camps are unique in that Orlando City coaches and pro players staff them. Your child has the opportunity to learn the skills of the game from some of the very same players they see take the field in the USL PRO matches.
Great news! There’s a new Weekday Pass from Aquaticathat allows you and your family to enjoy unlimited weekday access through Dec. 31, 2012.
We are big Sea World fans so Aquaticais basically a shoe-in on our local favorite activities list. Aquatica takes guests in, over and under the water with some super cool water rides and animal encounters with Commerson’s dolphins, exotic birds and more!
I know as a full-time working mom, weekday passes to attractions aren’t always worth the money, but Aquatica is open until 7pm and even 8 pm most weekdays during the summer!
With the Weekday Pass, guests can play every weekday this summer, and for the rest of the year, for just $59.99 plus tax. There’s even an option to purchase a weekend day for just $15 when you show your Weekday Pass at the front gate. (This is an awesome option!)
Guests can experience Aquatica’s 38 thrilling water slides, rivers and lagoons, side-by-side wave pools and two interactive water playgrounds designed for the littlest of swimmers.
As many of you know, I work full-time as pr manager for Produce for Kids. With every new campaign, our chef and RD work together to create new meals. Our Ideal Meals online database is full of healthy (yet tasty) easy breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner options for busy parents (like myself).
My time with Produce for Kids has completely changed the way I view food and prepare food for my family. I’ve always been a healthy eater, but I have more of a method behind my madness these days.
A few years back we ventured to Chicago for a long weekend over the 4th of July. At first, the thought of galavanting around in cabs in the city with my then one-year-old frightened me. I myself had no travel reservations, but this was a whole new ball of kiddie wax. In the end, I decided to escape the Orlando humidity for the crisp summer breeze in Chicago.
Check out my travel feature in the summer issue of PLAYGROUND magazine. You can read the online issue (by clicking through below) or stop by one of the Central Florida distribution points for your very own copy.
Once you read this, you too will be ready for your urban family vacation!