10 Reasons Everything Is Awesome at the LEGOLAND Hotel

Our five-year-old's birthday wish was to spend the night at the new Florida LEGOLAND® Hotel. And quite honestly, I was pretty pumped to check it out myself. We took advantage of the Florida resident rate (35% off) and were set. There are always extra deals and promos here. I Read more

Park City, Utah Skiing With The Family

It's been awhile since the entire family went west, but it was time! I had a few snickers when I announced our plans to embark on a ski adventure with the entire family to Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. But, then again places that people don't Read more

The Newest Vacation Rental in Orlando

I'm so excited to share my most recent article in PLAYGROUND magazine. Friends from my hometown in Pennsylvania have created the most amazing vacation rental space here in Orlando. Click through to read about the inspiration behind this awesome home and how you can book your stay.   Follow our family 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

Travel

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

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 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.

If you can’t make it to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium just yet, you can follow Winter on Twitter or even view Winter through the online webcam! 

The operating room from the movie

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Travel 3 Comments

Weekday Pass At Aquatica!

Great news! There’s a new Weekday Pass from Aquaticathat allows you and your family to enjoy unlimited weekday access through Dec. 31, 2012.

Aquatica

We are big Sea World fans so Aquatica is 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.

For more info visit Aquatica’s website.

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Chicago – The Urban Family Vacay

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!

 

Click to read the article online (page 40-41)

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Dream A Little Disney Dream

Our Disney Dream Savings

After one year, two family yard sales, two lemonade stands, daily change contributions by daddy and the sacrifice of forking over birthday and holiday monetary gifts, we will set sail on our Disney Cruise this Thursday!

About a year and a half ago Mia expressed her desire to embark on Disney’s newest ship, The Dream.

This cruise meant pirate parties, princesses, a plexiglass waterslide and an adventure on Disney’s private island. This also meant a chunk of change for our family. We created a “cruise fund” complete with an image of the ship and began our saving mission.

One year of nickels, dimes and the occasional one dollar bills brought us to a grand total of about $250. This in no way shape or form is going to cover our  cruise. However, it will cover most of our on board tips, activities etc. (I hope).

Mia’s All Packed & Ready To Go!

Mia has been observing this jar and working towards a goal for one year. Part of my joy in taking this cruise is the fact that she truly understands what it means to save and watch the savings accumulate over a year.

Stay tuned for posts on our Disney Cruise experience!

 

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Travel 1 Comment

Holiday Travel Must Haves

Harajuku Mini

Everyone knows I love great products (travel specifically.) Making travel easy, stylish and fun is oh so important. Here are a few travel must haves for your holiday journeys!

The Text Hook

Cutest kids suitcase ever! Being comfortable while traveling is important, but never sacrifice style. Words to live by for sure. My daughter Mia is swooning over this travel accessory. We’ll see if Santa delivers! It’s Harajaku Mini, Gwen Stefani’s line, which is now carried by Target.

I have to talk about one of my favorite products again. The Text Hook is amazing for travel. It secures your smart phone to your stroller (or other travel item with a bar) for easy hands free use. Kids will stay occupied at your departure gate watching their fav movie while your smart phone is perfectly positioned. No holding necessary.

Kiddie Headphones

Super cute DJ style headphones for kids! Mia has the panda bear headphones and loves them. Several websites carry these headphones so shop around for the best prices.

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Posted on by Amanda in Holiday Travel Series, Travel Leave a comment

50% Off ICE! Admission at Gaylord Palms

The Holiday Travel Series continues… This deal is more of a staycation for us, but perhaps a few Mamma Mia readers will be traveling to Orlando this holiday season.

I’ve never been to ICE! at the Gaylord Palms here in Orlando, but I’ve heard it is absolutely amazing. The great deal taking place this weekend might just persuade me to go! Guests who purchase advance tickets for Saturday, Nov. 19 will receive 50% off the ticket price and also support Give Kids The World. Half of the cost of each ticket will go to the charity!

ICE! At Gaylord Palms

ICE! features over 20,000 square-feet of ice sculptures in a room that is kept at a frigid nine degrees fahrenheit. This year’s ICE! features friends from “Shrek the Halls.” The crew from Shrek comes to life through huge ice sculptures. There are also five ice slides that are 30-feet tall.

Tickets during the Give Kids The World special are $12 for adults and $8.99 for kids. The discounted tickets must be purchased in advance using the promo code SEGKW online.

If you can’t make the special discount day, ICE! will run through January 2. Regular price tickets are $22.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids.

Even though we are in the sunshine state, long pants and closed toe shoes are required at ICE! Hats and gloves are recommended. A winter coat will be provided to each ticket holder for use while at the event.

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Holiday Travel – CLEAR Me!

Starting this week through Christmas, I’ll be writing a holiday travel series to help everyone get prepared for the upcoming holiday travel season. Expect tips and news that will make your holiday travel  a little easier.

CLEAR at your local airport

Many of us, myself included, are begining to look at booking holiday air travel and figuring out how to get our family from point A to point B. The question I ask myself when traveling with the family is, “How can I get there in the least amount of time, keep everyone moderately happy and not break the bank?”

I have seen the CLEAR lines at the airports and thought these were for “on the go” business travelers only. Think again weary parents in long security line… if a parent has a CLEAR membership, kids under 18 can also utilize the service free of charge. CLEAR members skip through long security lines… saving a ton of time. A one-year membership is $179 and the second family member (over 18) is only $50 per year.

Just in time for the holidays, CLEAR is offering Mamma Mia readers a special 3-month FREE trial! No need to deal with unpredictable security lines, the stress of rushing to your gate, or the time you waste getting to the airport early. Click here to get your pass and try CLEAR’s enhanced travel experience. Just enter The Mamma Mia code (CMNDST11) in the promo code filed on the payment page.

Happy (and quick) travels!

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Posted on by Amanda in Holiday Travel Series, Travel Leave a comment

Hey Kids! Please Touch! – guest post by Abbey

There’s someone in this world who ranks pretty high on my special list… And, she just happens to be my sister. While most days you’ll find my sister Abbey writing scientific documents with facts and figures, she took a step away to write this post on her recent trip to the Philadelphia Please Touch Museum with my fabulous nephew. Enjoy!

While looking for things to do on a recent weekend trip to Philly with my almost two year old son, I came across info on the Please Touch Museum. From the website, it seemed appropriate for a wide range of ages so I figured it would be something my son, the friend I was visiting, and I could all do together.

Once inside, Keefer started out cruising in the stroller but that was soon a lost cause. It is the “please touch” museum afterall! Keefer loved the grocery store. (Go figure) He grabbed a shopping cart and headed straight for the produce section where he stocked up on cauliflower, multiple heads of lettuce, and a few tomatoes (all plastic of course). During the shopping excursion, he also grabbed a few boxes of cake mix and a giant plastic turkey.  He knew exactly what to do when he went to the register and another young museum-goer scanned his items.

There was a “garage” where kids could play on cars, fill up tanks, drive a bus, or play on a model monorail.  Some other cool things were the Wonderland area, where we ran through a maze and were able to sit down for tea with some lifesize replicas of the Alice in Wonderland characters, River Adventures, and Rainforest Rhythm.

My friend and I had as much fun playing as Keefer did! The only dissapointing thing about our visit was the museum closed at 5 and we didn’t get there until 3 due to our lengthy drive from the Pittsburgh area. It would be nice if they had at least one day where evening hours are offered to accomodate those parents who work during the day (like myself.) The Museum is open 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Saturday and 11 am – 5 pm Sunday. The price tag seemed a bit steep for our short visit but would be worth it for a whole day of fun. Admission is $15 per person – one flat rate and kids under one are free.

Check out  Please Touch online for more details!

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Posted on by Amanda in Guest bloggers, Travel Leave a comment
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