01 Mar 2015

Celebrate Life & Do Something: Life with a Rare Condition

No Comments CAH, Everyday, Kids, Parenting, Raising Children, Uncategorized

“The world is a dangerous place; not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Albert Einstein

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Today is February 28. Only month in a year that we have 28 days, sometimes 29. Crazy, I know. But do you know why we have a leap year?

A common year has 365 days and a leap year 366 days, with the extra, or intercalary, day designated as February 29. A leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to complete its orbit about the sun, which is about 365¼ days.

Without the extra 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds that is needed to make the cycle complete, time would be off. Everything would be out of sync. The stars wouldn’t align and the seasons, eventually would be off. It just wouldn’t be “right.” It’s a rare day that February 29th, but we all accept it and celebrate the extra day we get every 4 years.

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Shouldn’t everyday on Earth be a celebration? We’re alive, right? That’s exactly how I feel about my kids. They are mine to celebrate and mine to protect. Unique in their own ways, but exactly who they are because of what makes them…them. And without them, for me, and many people who love them, the world wouldn’t be what it is without them either. We celebrate life, the normal and realize life is precious everyday.

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18 Feb 2015

A Lesson from Annie in Optimism

No Comments Review, Sponsored, Tampa, Tampa Bay

I took my 9 year old daughter to her first musical, Annie. She absolutely loved every minute of this show. From the cast, the songs she had memorized from the movie and the entire experience that the Straz Center offers for bringing children into their theater for a first experience.

The Straz

But what stuck me most was the overall life lesson I really didn’t realize she got until the next day after school. It was raining and she didn’t too too well on a test. She was a little bummed but we don’t dwell on things. We address. Fix. And move on. She said, “Well, I bet there will be sun tomorrow!” all with a smile. Optimism is not something that is not inherent. Kids will learn how to handle situations based on how they see adults handle situations. I think that when kids (or adults) mess up or have a bad day, you do really have to remember that the “sun will come out tomorrow.” And it’s not easy all the time. Our actions speak louder than words and attitude is everything.

The show Annie is a delightful show full of the classic songs we remember from the movie and some new songs and plot twists that will have you watching until the very end. The young cast that is now on tour (through July 2015) is an extremely talented cast that will make you think you are on Broadway!

The set design was was purely magical as it transformed you from the streets of New York to with the skyline as real as it could be.

The optimistic Annie was played by Issie Swickle who is a Florida native of Davie and is making her National Tour debut. She voice is captivating as she sings the one of the most memorable songs of many childhoods, “Tomorrow.” While she is on stage alone (with the dog Sandy) you are in awe of her talents and captivated by the song. Of course, Miss Hannigna, played by Lynn Andrews, is a show stopper for she is still as mean as the day is long, just like we remember.

Take you kids to see Annie. It’s a life lesson that every child (and some adults) need to hear. And a musical that every child will remember forever as well.

*This post was sponsored by the Straz Center and through the Tampa Bay Bloggers Network. Search hashtags ‪#‎BroadwayInTampa‬ ‪#‎AnnieOnTour‬ to see first-hand how others enjoyed the show.

12 Feb 2015

5 Reasons Why Ulele is the Ultimate Date Night Restaurant in Tampa

No Comments Family Travel, Florida, Opinion, Review, Sponsored, Tampa, Tampa Bay

Kids screaming. Baby crying. Homework is coming out of your ears. Laundry is to the ceiling. Girl Scout badges need to be sewn on. Grocery shopping needs to be done. The house needs a super deep clean. Better start filing taxes… And on and on the list goes. I get it. You need a break. We all do. A night. Take three hours. To relax. Enjoy your significant other or even a friendship. Just an escape. Even a three-hour break each week can immensely improve your mood for the other 165 hours I need to be on the clock.

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11 Feb 2015

The Story of Go Abby Go

No Comments Adventures, CAH, Everyday, Tampa, Tampa Bay

On Your Mark…Get Set…Go!

Abby is off to her very first race this Saturday. It’s a big race…30 yards. But that 30 yards has taken us 30 months to prepare for.

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02 Feb 2015

A Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name

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When I was 19 I started working at a bar. It was a popular bar that I had snuck into with friends. Started chatting with a gentleman at the bar (soon to find out he was the owner) who graciously asked, “How the f”ck did you get into my bar?” at the end of a very nice conversation. It was also followed up by, “You start tomorrow.” The next day was St.Patricks Day and I would work the longest shift I’ve ever worked. 9am to 6am. Best night of my waitressing career.

From there, lots of memories unfolded behind the bar of this quaint Irish Pub set back in the suburbs of Tampa. I meet lots of people who I still call friends to this day. Many friends I have lost touch with, but I could pick up a conversation with them if I saw them…In a heartbeat.

“It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin.”

I continued on to finish college while working there and was able to finish college debit free because of this job. I enjoyed my job and loved the people there. The owners and co-workers were family. Many of us spent holidays and many occasions together, at the bar, with customers whom also were like family. This definitely was the place where everybody knows your name. Each night was finished off with Piano Man on the jukebox and a great (loud) rendition of Sweet Caroline. I meet many of my closest friends for the first time at the bar so long ago.

To me, this was more than just a bar, just a job, just people who were crossing in my path in life. I spent the better part of my 20′s there, growing up into the person I am today. Meeting people, learning their stories, before social media, when you weren’t glued to your phone when you went out, taking pictures of your beer and posting it. Lots of fun and memories that live on inside my mind and in my heart.

In that tiny bar, I met a boy, who I fell madly in love with. We had never met before and because all the stars were aligned, we crossed paths at that very place.

I truly believe that everyone has meaning in your life. For me, had I never had that conversation with that gentleman at the bar, my life might not be what it is today. People are put in your path for a reason and then taken out, too soon before you can even say thank you. Not sure where I’d be if I wouldn’t have taken that job.

I won’t have the chance to say thank you to Bernie for giving me a job. He was loved by everyone and I was proud to say I knew and worked for him. Thank you for the fond memories and for placing me in the right place at the right time.

“And the piano sounds like a carnival.
And the microphone smells like a beer.
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar.
And say “Man what are you doing here?”

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright.”

Thanks for the memories Bernie!

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16 Jan 2015

Best Family Events in Tampa Bay for Weekend of January 17-18

No Comments Adventures, Tampa, Tampa Bay

There are some really great events happening this weekend all over Tampa Bay! We think all these will be a huge hit with your kids (of all ages)!

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What: Monster Jam
When: Saturday, January 17
Where: Raymond James Stadium
Tickets: Buy now
Why: Big & loud trucks, loud music and lots if really cool tricks by professional drivers will have your kids standing on their feet and just having an awesome time at the annual Monster Jam that comes to Tampa each year. Bring ear plugs or sound blocking gear for the little ones. Might be cold, so bundle up, but getting their early means you’ll be able to see how big these trucks are up close at the “pit party! ” And they are HUGE! Go have fun and enjoy the show!
Details: Pit Party 1:30pm-5pm
Show starts at 7pm

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What: Bolts Family Carnival
When: Sunday, January 18
Where: Amalie Arena
Tickets: Tampa Bay Lightning
Why: The Lightning Foundation has created it’s first ever Bolts Family Carnival to help support the foundation as it supports more than 250 local non-profits to distribute funds and services. The carnival will be held under the “big top” (AKA Amalie Arena) and will have all Lightning players in attendance, the Stanley Cup for pictures and lots of awesome carnival-style games and food! Tickets can be purchased based on how long you’d like to stay. I know a day of fun with the Lightening us going to be awesome so we can’t wait to attend! Take the whole family and support the Tampa Bay community while having fun!

What: 18th Annual Treasure Island Sport Kite Festival
When: Saturday, January 17- Sunday, January 18
Where: Thunderbird On Treasure Island
Why: January at the beach has a chance to be chilly but when the sun is out the blue skies are the prettiest and the day itself is gorgeous! Enjoy a day at the beach while watching professional kite fliers fly kites with great precision! The whole family will have a great time just enjoying the beautiful weather and the activity in the sky!

08 Jan 2015

I will ENJOY 2015

No Comments Uncategorized

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Dear 2015,

So nice to finally meet you! You seem to be pretty relaxed and I like the way you’ve handled yourself, you know, being so new and all. Being the shiny new kid on the block, sometimes people seem to get super excited and ambitious about your new gizmos and gadgets, but I taking a different approach this time. I think I’m going to sit back and have everyone test drive you first, get the feedback I need and then make an educated decision weather or not I should buy into you this year. Sounds good, right?

Yes, I know… This is typically not the way I operate, but it’s time for a change. See, last year wore me out. And so have the preceding 10 years before that. So I’m tired. Well, I’m not THAT tired, but I am older and thus wiser, to see that it’s not always the shiny new bells and whistles that will make me buy into things any more. I want long lasting, durability and longevity. The past ten years have gone by so fast. Lots of new things have been the focus of years past, but you…your different than them.

I’ve finally moved on from that first series into the second. The good stuff. I don’t want new any more. I want to enjoy what I have and relax because it’s about time I don’t have to read the owners manual ten times over to make sure I’m doing it right. 

I’m definitely in this for the long haul and I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride. I purchased my ticket on this train awhile ago and haven’t truly enjoyed the scenery. So that’s what I’m going to do this year. Enjoy. My new word of the year. 

I want to sleep in more. I want to do more yoga. I want to cook with my kids. I want to play more games with my family. I want to travel to places I’ve never been to. I want to enjoy this wonderful life that I have been blessed with. Life will never stay the same. And I just really don’t want to miss out with what is happening right now.

I hope we get along great this year! I’ve probably had the best year already, and I we if we are only 7 days in, I’m excited to see what the next 360 look like. Here are a few pictures of what you look like so far. Not too shabby!

Thanks in advance for the memories, I’m sure they will all be wonderful.

xx~
M

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24 Dec 2014

A December to Remember

1 Comment Uncategorized

This has been a December to remember.
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I feel like it is my first adult Christmas. Not sure why, but I feel very grown up this year. Maybe because I’m prepared like my parents used to be, or because all is right with my little slice of heaven on Earth. We have so much to be thankful for, I’m not sure where to start. To my ENTIRE VILLAGE, I can’t thank you enough for all you do for us all year long. From my co- Girl Scout leaders, to my “gym family” to my friends that help arranging my daily pieces when I need help making the day work so my kids can participate in whatever-the-he**-we-are-doing-that- day. To the family I call on for help, near and far, there is no way I can thank you enough for just being there for us when we need you.

My word of this year has been help. I’m often helping, or being helped, but it just might be the help that makes this world go around. I am always willing to help. And I know all of you are willing to help me too. To everyone that has helped us this year, thank you. I wish I could hug you in person and buy you the biggest present to show my gratitude, but please know that I am here to help you whenever you need it. I hope that I can be there when you need me to.

Merry Christmas from us to you. Without you, many of these December memories would not have been possible. And for that, I am forever grateful!

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24 Dec 2014

Into the Woods In Theaters Christmas Day

No Comments Uncategorized

What is it about the path of life that has us scared, nervous and excited about the adventure that is to come. For all of us who love the deeper side of fairy tales, the movie “Into the Woods” will take you deep into the woods to take a look at some of the most popular fairy tales of all times (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel) and what happens when they cross paths in the woods.

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“Into the Woods” first appeared on Broadway in 1987. Created by legendary eight-time Tony, Grammy and Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and Tony® winner James Lapine, who also wrote the screenplay. The production, which ran for 764 performances, won Tony®Awards for Best Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical. Among other awards.

The modern twist follows Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and what happens when they meet their neighbor, a Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them.

If you were fortunate to see on of the 764 Broadway performances, you’ll love songs from the stage musical, including “Children Will Listen,” “Giants in the Sky,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “No One Is Alone” and “Agony,” among others.

The whole family will love this movie. I was able to see a sneak preview and can in the words of my 9-year old daughter, “This was the best movie EVER!!” Be sure to follow the official movie for the latest updates.

Like INTO THE WOODS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyIntoTheWoods

Follow INTO THE WOODS on Twitter: @IntoTheWoods

Follow INTO THE WOODS on Tumblr: http://intothewoodsmovie.tumblr.com/

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All images provided by Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures as well as the invitation to attend the screening of “Into the Woods” for promotional purposes only.

23 Dec 2014

Experience Phantom of the Opera

No Comments Adventures, Review, Sponsored, Tampa, Tampa Bay

If you can’t get to New York City this lifetime and you want to experience what most tourists will do on their trip, treat yourself to an experience like no other when the Phantom of the Opera comes to you.

IMG_5195.JPGA packed house awaits the 2nd act of Phantom of the Opera at the Straz Center on December 19th, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Clearly, Phantom of the Opera could be considered one of the classics among attractions in New York City as it stands as the longest-running show in Broadway history with 26 years and counting, at the Majestic Theatre. In 2012, the show celebrated its 10,000th show. It is currently playing in 6 countries as well as on tour in the US North American.

Most Broadway show tours only come to cities city for a few short weeks. You should definitely take in a show, even if Broadway isn’t your thing, there is so much more to experience. When people say “On Broadway” it tends to have meaning much deeper than just a street location in New York City. It tends to have a prestige attached to it unmatched to any other. Known as the “Great White Way” for being one of America’s very first streets with lights, the marquee lights on all the theatre houses that light up Time’s Square have become iconic to people everywhere. The Theater District in New York City is now home to more than 40 professional theaters. Theaters can seat up to 500 people and host a variety of productions year round.

The Phantom of the Opera US Tour, which is happening now until January 2016, is everything a Broadway musical production should be, minus New York City of course, but pretty close to it. The stage is majestic. The voices are beautiful. The music is breathtaking. The overall experience is classic Broadway. Everything you might imagine on Broadway will come to you.

The story has never been changed from its original Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score. However, each new actor that plays the lead characters has the ability to interpret the role slightly different than the last. The special effects, including the show’s legendary chandelier, will still have the same impact on your experience, wherever you see it, just as if you were sitting inside the Majestic Theatre itself. Listening to perfect voices sing some of the most recognizable songs from the musical such as “Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You” and “Wishing You Were Somehow Here” will have you wanting to give a standing ovation for each number.

Experiencing the theatre is an activity that the whole family will enjoy. For centuries, societies have used theatre as a form of entertainment that continues to live on into our generation and beyond. Many Broadway shows are now preformed and are geared towards the younger audiences too (Lion King, Matilda, Wicked, Cinderella just to name a few.) Phantom of the Opera might be a tad bit over the top for some kids (there are deaths that are slightly graphic by nature), but guaranteed that they will not forget the show. The meaning of mask and what it depicts might come later, but a love for theatre and the art form is what the experience is all about, no matter what the show.

The Straz Center currently is hosting its Best of Broadway series presented by Bank of America. Their shows are among some of the best that Broadway has to offer. For season tickets to these and other shows, visit them online to learn more.

Phantom of the Opera is on a US Tour until 2016. For tickets to a show in a city near you visit here. For tickets to the Tampa performances at the Straz Center from December 17th through January 4th, visit here.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Straz Center for the Phantom of the Opera performance. All opinions in this essay are my own.