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

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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

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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.

 

20 Dec 2014

She’s 9. Art Party Fabulous.

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She’s 9. She lives THE life, wild beyond my imagination. After talking her down from a limo ride and a party at the Four Seasons, I convinced her to have a PlayDate with friends to do art, ice cream sundaes and just be girls. After insisting they “toast” (with only the best sparkling grape juice) we planned a fabulous party and made it happen.

What’s so special about 9? Everything. Last single digit. School is still fun and play in third grade before the big fourth grade year. Life is but a bowl of cherries…each day is sweeter than the next. Mia has grown leaps and bounds into this amazing artist, who wants to help with her sisters and people in her community. She blossomed even more so with her fun loving and happy-go-lucky persona that radiates and everyone loves to be around. She’s a world traveler and hopefully she’ll see it all one day.

Nine is fine and life is good. Happy Birthday Mia!

A is for Art: Mia’s 9th Birthday Party

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03 Dec 2014

Christmas in NYC

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A weekend in pictures. Must visit places. Best if you sit back and enjoy New York City while you are here.

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23 Nov 2014

How To Have a Snowy Holiday in Florida

No Comments Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Holidays, Kids, Uncategorized

Dreaming of a white Christmas…in Florida? Long shot, right? Well, maybe not…

Moving down to Florida from Wisconsin when I turned 13 was devastating to me during the holidays. It wasn’t Thanksgiving with 80 degrees and lots of sunshine. It surely didn’t feel like Christmas in shorts either. I have never truly adjusted to not having a white Christmas in Florida, but with kids, this is the only holiday they know, so it’s up to me and Chance to make it “feel” like Christmas this time of year. I have mastered a few tricks that work for us to get the kids in the holiday spirit.

Finding The Typical Christmas Memories

While there is typically a slight chill in the air, it’s the snow, the ice skating, the hot chocolate, the cookies, the carolers and of course the Christmas trees and music that give kids (and grown ups) a sense of holiday happiness. For me, this is the first year that Christmas actually felt like Christmas. It has always been difficult to feel like it is “the season” when it’s 80 degrees outside. But this is what my kids know. They didn’t grow up with snowbanks to climb at school, snow days or a white Christmas. I have learned to adapt, but I hope that the snowy holidays I can show them will get them in the spirit too!

So what if I REALLY wanted them to experience what a Snowy Holiday in Florida? I have just found the answer.

1. Experience Kissimmee. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Last year, was my first time visiting Kissimmee and we had really just stumbled upon all that Kissimmee had to offer. We only went to the Gaylord Palms, but now that we know there is so much more is happening, we are sure to make this an annually trip (or trips) to experience a fun day, night or weekend that will become our snowy holiday tradition each year.

2. Spend an evening (or a few nights) at Gaylord Palms

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My parents were down from Chicago in November last year and we decided to stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort. We had never been so we were all so excited! I had heard about ICE! but didn’t know what to expect there either. We had the time of our life and experienced Christmas like never before. We had such an amazing time with all they had going on for Christmas that it’s now a tradition that we go back each November or December, even if just for the day (but a few days is so much better!)

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So much happens each year on their property. Decorations, the show, the ICE! exhibit, Gingy’s House, seeing Santa are reasons to come over and enjoy a holiday get away. The show…THE SHOW. In their lobby each night is a free show that rivals any holiday show I have paid for. Combine aerialist, music- the Luminscent band, the Orlando Ballet plus all their holiday light on display and what you have is wrapped up into the best 30 minute holiday show you’ll ever see. It happens nightly in their atrium and is a show you must see. The music is heavenly and the visuals that accompany the show are just stunning. Did I mention it’s free? If you are only there for an evening, pay the valet fee, come in for dinner at one of their amazing restaurants and grab a seat at the show. Then head over to the ICE! exhibit and head home for the night. If you are staying, be sure to check out the Florida Buzz Report for some great deals at the Gaylord Palms.

And what exactly is this ICE! exhibit I’m speaking of? Each year, over 2 million pounds of ice is hand carved and put on display where spectators are able to marvel at the intricate sculptures carved by the

3. Visit Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Of course Mickey knows how to throw a Christmas party! And what a Christmas party it is! The lights, the decorations, the shows, the Christmas parade and the Cinderella’s castle! This year, the show blended a Frozen theme with their show and the lighting of the castle was actually Elsa icing the castle. Olaf, Anna and more Frozen cast members were on hand to help Elsa let her powers go! Pure magic! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party does require an extra ticket to attend. You can enter the park at 4pm and stay past midnight. There are only a select few weekends that this happens and once tickets are gone, that’s it. In addition to being open for later hours, because there is only a certain number of people who are able to attend each night, the lines are definitely shorter as there isn’t a great number of people inside the park. We had an amazing time at Magic Kingdom and will definitely be back to celebrate the holidays with Mickey.

For more information on Walt Disney World Mickey’s very Merry Christmas Park visit the Trekaroo blog.

4. Stop by Celebration for a Snowy Night

Just outside of Disney World itself is the town that Disney built. You might not even know it’s there. Celebrate in Celebration as kids will play with faux snow, ice skate (on synethtic ice in 80 degree weather) or have a holiday dinner at the Columbia restaurant. Each night, starting at 6pm, the town square in Celebration becomes a place for carolers and families looking to celebrate the season. Take pictures in front of their Christmas tree for your holiday card or just stroll around the quaint shops complete with whimsical Christmas window decorations. Time seems to stand still here and maybe it will for you too while you celebrate the season.

For more on Celebration and their Snowy Night Celebration visit the Trekaroo blog.

I’ve realized over the years that it’s not just the snow that evokes my Christmas memories, but more about the traditions my kids will remember to bring their childhood to life during the holidays. But yes, because I grew up having a mostly white Christmas, it’s so fun to visit these places that help to bring me back down to memory lane, while creating fun memories for my kids.

Plan your trip to Kissimmee to see these Snowy Holiday events by reading more about them on Trekaroo.com.

For more information on a Snowy Holiday in Kissimmee, here are a few links:

The DadScribe Blog
Fun and Frugal Mom Blog
JonahBonah Blog

Disclaimer: I was hosted by Experience Kissimmee to experience these activities. All opinions are my own.

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11 Nov 2014

Family Friendly Dinner and a Movie at Studio Movie Grill Opens in Tampa

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Studio Movie Grill has recently opened in north Tampa at the University Square Mall. Their state of the art theatre and newly renovated high tech theatre is a perfect place to brain the whole family for dinner and a movie (or even date night if you are that lucky.)

Compared to the Cinebistro in Hyde Park Village or Wesley Chapel, Studio Movie Grill was definitely more inviting to families as the other dine-in theaters have an over 18 age policy. They have a kids menu too which is always nice to have.

The seats were super comfy, lots of room, the sound was amazing and the 3D movie (Big Hero 6) was the best ones I have seen to date in a theatre. Service was great and we had an awesome time too. Can’t beat it!

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06 Nov 2014

Don’t F**K With Nap Time

No Comments Opinion, Parenting, Raising Children

Dear Mr. You-Have-No-Clue-What-Naptime-Means-To-Me:

When babies nap, stay-at-home-parents be like…

Freedom

As I type this letter, you are SO MAD that I told you NOT to start the 3-hour pressure wash my house at 11:30am. There were many good reasons that I asked specifically for this to be done ANY HOURS between the hours of 7am-12pm OR 2pm-8pm. I understand that you don’t get it. “It’s just one day. She won’t wake up. I won’t make THAT much noise.” Oh no, no, no, no…it is NOT just one day when it comes to the schedule of my toddler, who I have MIRACULOSULY figured out the Rubik cube of a puzzle, called “the toddler” where she naps for two hours, everyday.

First off…DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT RUBIK CUBE is to figure out? Well, the toddler schedule is even harder. Not only to figure out, but to adhere to and to stick with once said schedule is in place. And nap time, well, nap time is as sacred to parents all over the world, just as the sign of the cross is sacred to Catholics. Parenting is my religion these days and there are a few things that I hold in the highest regard. Nap time is one of them (with a close second of bedtime and private potty or shower time.) Don’t F**K with nap time. There is nothing else that boils my blood more than others who don’t respect nap time for those of us who LIVE religiously by this sacred time during the day. You know that scene from Braveheart, where Mel Gibson has his face painted, and is ready to go to war with everyone behind him and he yells,”FREEDOM!” THIS is who I feel like when I fight for nap time. I have THAT kind of passion for my two measly hours of FREEDOM once the baby goes down for a nap and I will not be giving that up without a fight! Victory is sweet.

At this very moment in time, I LIVE by the naps. Most parents who have “been here” can relate. It is the only solitary two hours during the day where I try to do dishes, clean the house, wash/fold/put away laundry, make dinner, send e-mails, plan for Girl Scouts, write my blog, watch TV, eat lunch (or breakfast), nap myself, change the bed sheets, clean the bathrooms, paint my nails, take a shower, blow dry my hair, send HomeRoom Parent e-mails, shop online for EVERYTHING (but cold stuff), Christmas shop (yes, I do this all year long), read up on teacher e-mails for 3 OTHER KIDS, clean out the closets, garden, take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, or possible…sit down. Yes, these are all (and I am sure that I am missing some) of the things that go through my head once my two year old goes down for a nap. Oh the possibilities…so many with so little time. So when someone like you plans to come and F**K with my sacred time, I am immediately irate when you JUST. DON’T. GET. IT. because you my friend, have never walked in my shoes.

My shoes are the shoes of parents who stay home with kids and sacrifice traditional “working” roles for the role of caretaker. My boss is the baby. I try to boss her and manipulate her, but in the end, I know who is boss. You, Mr. You-Have-No-Clue-What-Naptime-Means-To-Me, don’t get that my ENTIRE DAY has been planned around nap time, from the exact time she woke up, and that if you F**K it up, I will probaly go into nuclear melt-down crazy mode and ain’t NOBODY got time for that. I cringe at a dog barking, neighbors doing construction and have even gone to the lengths of booking a hotel room in order to preserve nap time for one of my kids. Yes, that might be OVERLY dramatic about this precious time, but aren’t we all of anything that we hold of value?

I value, wait, I WORSHIP nap time, yes, my measly two hours during the middle of the day because sometimes, that’s all I get. There are NO other times during the day that I am without a child. I do get the ever so frequent break to go do yoga at night, or possibly head to a night out with the hubby or friends, but for 22 hours of the day, these four kids are under my watchful eye. Even the bedtime break is short lived because I typically pass out from exhaustion the MOMENT I sit down. So, yes, Mr. You-Have-No-Clue-What-Naptime-Means-To-Me, these two F**KING hours are MINE and I will stand to fight and protect them with everything I have and will not back down…UNLESS you want to give me the day off and deal with the cranky toddler? Didn’t thing so.

So to every parent out there who values nap time, fight with me! Do not let others just brush us off or disrespect the nap. This is my sanity. I regroup and recharge during this time and I will argue with anyone about my position on naps. They are good for babies as well as adults. (Even Harvard says so.) So PLEASE DON’t F**K with my nap time. It’s all I have left right now.

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