It’s National Child Passenger Safety Week

Child Safety_SP_C10-02Ford Motor Company is supporting National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 14-20) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation in an effort to promote vehicle safety for children.

In 2012 on average, nearly 2 children under the age of 13 were killed and 332 were injured EVERY DAY while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.

The infographic at below offers tips on choosing the right seat for your child’s needs.

NHTSA-2014-CPSWeek-Infographic-prMy child is 7, and is in a 5-point booster (and will stay there until he is the weight/age to graduate to sitting without one. I, for one, don’t want to rush it. Knowing every 34 seconds a child under age 13 is involved in a crash,and knowing that many accidents happen just a short drive from home, I ensure my little guy is buckled in. (For the record, I do hear “But Mom, other kids my age are already riding without one”; “Do I HAVE to?”; and the ever popular “We’re not going to get in an accident. Why do you worry so much?”)

Why is it important to me?  Here are a few additional statistics:

  •  Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old.
  •  In 2012, over one third (37 percent) of children killed in car crashes were unrestrained.
  •  In 2012, among children under the age of 5 in cars, an estimated 284 lives were saved by child restraints.
  •  An additional 58 children could have lived if child restraint use was 100 percent.Child Safety_SP_C10-01
  • Child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in cars.

Children should always be properly restrained with an appropriate restraint system for their age and size, utilizing a child restraint that is either rear-facing, forward-facing, a belt positioning booster or safety belt. Not sure if yours is secure?

In conjunction with National Child Passenger Safety Week, this Saturday is also National Seat Check Saturday. You can visit this website to find an inspection station near you.

When my son was a baby, I took him to a police station that was running car seat inspections, pretty sure I’d done a bang-up job tightening the unit into my car because I pulled the seat belt as tight as I possibly could. Sure, it wiggled a “little” when I moved the upper part of it, but it’s impossible to remove “all” give, I naively thought.

When the officer was done, the seat was rock-solid in my back seat. No wiggle. No WAY I could get my hand behind it. After all I learned that day I determined that if I couldn’t get subsequent seats in as snugly as the officer had, I’d seek out an inspection site for assistance.

Did you know?

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing child restraints until age 2 or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.
  • Children who have outgrown a rear-facing child restraint should be properly restrained in a forward-facing child restraint until they reach its maximum weight or height limit.

I’ve been in a number of accidents in my life (each one an incident where someone hit me). While I am a positive person and try to look on the bright side, it’s unrealistic to assume that just because you are a safe driver that those around you will be just as careful, vigilant, sober.

Join in on the conversation: If you’re on social media, post a photo yourself securing your children or showing how you follow proper passenger seat safety on Saturday. Post it to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #SeatCheckSaturday at @Ford_Southeast.

Look for our photo of our 5-point booster this weekend. Just ignore the pile of books and the scattering of LEGOs cluttering up the seat next to it. No judging.

Spooktacular at SeaWorld Orlando is Coming Soon

I love Halloween. I love dressing up. I love getting the house all “decked out” for a night of family-friendly fun. I’m not much into getting scared. For me, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is right up my alley, and is one of the most fun events of the year. It seems to get better and better all the time.

Starting October 4, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular takes place from 12 to 8 p.m. October: 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26.

spooktacular2013bNew this year is a Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch. In what’s being called “an immersive and memorable brunch experience,” families will enjoy a seasonal menu while being up close and personal with SeaWorld’s majestic killer whales. Plus, Halloween surprises are promised including a family photo with a Spooktacular frame, a free cookie decorating kit (something my 7-year-old loves!), and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies.

This year’s candy line-up in “Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun” includes Tootsie Rolls, jelly beans, Airheads… just to name a few. The great fun is not only in getting to indulge in lots of yummy treats (aka “sometimes foods in our house, LOL), but stopping by all the themed characters and stop points. There is SO much to see.

Insider tip: Most guests enter the trick-or-treat line from the entrance closest to the
park entrance. To get in with less waiting, position yourself near the “other” end of
the trick-or-treat pathway, on the other side of the park… past the arcade, area
near the underwater viewing side of Shamu Stadium.

Make sure you check out Penelope’s Party Zone over in the Bayside area. There you’ll find craft stations, bubbles galore, fun music including a live DJ, and the most adorable sea-themed characters you can imagine!

Keep that dancing idea going into the night at an hour before closing. Princess Penelope and all her undersea friends can “get down” in the Village Square at the front of the park. It’s always a blast.

Admission to SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is included with SeaWorld admission, whether you have a day pass, fun card, or annual pass!

Add-ons include: Sweet Treat Decorating, and the Dine with Shamu Spooktacular Brunch.

See you there. (I’ll be the one in costume!)

Disney on Ice Presents Frozen at Amway Center

It may be hot in Orlando, but this week it’ll be Frozen!

Disney On Ice presents Frozen snowflakeDisney On Ice presents Frozen! Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt September 4–7, 2014. This heartwarming, Academy Award-winning tale you love is now LIVE and skating into Orlando this week to the Amway Center Amway Center, 400 West Church Street – Suite 200, Orlando, Florida 32801 thanks to producers Feld Entertainment. (I’m already singing… ♫  Let It Go… ♫)

Tickets are still available for all showtimes*:
Thursday, September 4 at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 5 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 6 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 7 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Frozen graphicHosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Frozen on Ice will bring to life the wintery world of Arendelle and its two royal sisters Elsa and Anna! You’ll meet Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls and as a special treat, there will be guest appearances by some beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King.

Visit the Amway Center’s website to purchase yours today.

*As of 9/2/14 there are tickets, though most performances state “not many left,” so buy your tickets today.

 

Taste of the Nation is Huge Success

TasteNation.jpgAugust 9, 2013, The Orlando World Center Marriott welcomed Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation®. Featuring the area’s finest appetizers, entrees, desserts and spirits, Taste of the Nation 2014 set a new fundraising record of $301,317 to support the feeding programs of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of CIMGP5819smentral Florida and an organization dedicated to reducing hunger and poverty in Florida statewide: Florida Impact.

Retro rad celebrity chef Emily Ellyn and I arrived at the event in race-red style, as part of a cross-blog  Southeast Ford promotion where I got to test drive a brand new Ford Fiesta for a week for Central Florida Top 5. The plan was to take ‘er for a spin to those events that are Top 5 on our family’s list: Travel, education, charity, culture, food. Happily for me, most of our stops involved a combination of two or more of those each time. Taste of the Nation Orlando, was no exception.

In addition to sampling some of the most delicious bites from chefs around Central Florida, guests enjoyed participating in raffles and drawings of epic proportion (like a trip to Oktoberfest in Germany and over a hundred bottles of wine!). The highlight of the night: two chefs (Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and Alexia Gawlak of Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen) went head-to-head in a live cook-off. Emceed by Food Network celebrity chef Melissa d’Arabian, the contest allowed 20 minutes for each chef to create a dish using Creekstone Farms sirloin flap steak and pantry staples donated by Whole Foods Market. Though I would have enjoyed tasting both dishes, I didn’t envy judges Scott Joseph from Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide, WFTV’s Bob Opsahl, and Honorary Chair Helen Donegan. While both dishes were prepared expertly (and smelled heavenly!), Chef Gawlak was declared the winner.

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Area restaurant bloggers and pro foodies flank coral-colored Food Network divas Melissa d’Arabian and Emily Ellyn.

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Orlando event brings together the area’s top chefs who donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in Central Florida. Along with culinary delights, guests have the opportunity to sample select wines, cocktails and premium beers and enjoy silent and live auctions and entertainment. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

 

 

 

 

Magical Dining Starts Tonight

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining starts tonight, August 25!

Untitled-2Starting tonight and continuing all September long, Orlando foodies can celebrate the area’s amazing culinary scene during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining month. Over 75 FFFCLogoFinalrestaurants are participating in the prix fixe dinner offerings that include appetizer, entrée and dessert for $33 (read the full lineup here). From sumptuous seafood, to savory steaks (and everything in between), Magical Dining is the ultimate way to try all the restaurant’s finest offerings for a fraction of their usual price. To top it off, diners are supporting not only our incredible food community, but donating to charity at the same time. One dollar from each meal will be donated to the Foundation for Foster Children.

If that wasn’t enough, many hotels are offering a “Stay and Dine” packages where you and a guest can enjoy the Magical Dining Menu plus a night’s stay. Just a small sampling includes:

  • Hyatt Regency Orlando — $169 per night plus tax. One night in a standard room and Magical Dining dinner for two at Napa Steakhouse.
  • World Center Marriott — one night in a King or Double Room and Magical Dining dinner for two at Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen from $219 per night.
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress — starting at $179.00 per night plus tax, enjoy one night at the hotel and Magical Dining dinner for two at Hemingway’s Restaurant
  • Rosen Shingle Creek — $185 per night in Deluxe Accommodations and dinner for two at A Land Remembered, Magical Dining menu
  • Bohemian Hotel, Celebration — $199.00 per night plus tax, for a night in a Town View Guest Room, and dinner for two off the Magical Dining menu at the Bohemian Bar & Grill

With all these choices, I know I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Last year I tried A Land Remembered and Fogo de Chao. At the blogger preview this year I sampled Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen and tonight at the special behind-the-scenes Yelp Kick Off I’m excited to taste menus from Hemingway’s,  Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, Napa, K Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Siro Urban Italian Kitchen, and Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar.

Follow #MagicalDining on social media to “virtually” enjoy every bite. Make your reservations to enjoy in person. Mangia, mangia!

What are your favorites? Any menus that blow you away?

 

O-Town MacDown is Cheesy Family FUN

macdown logo smO-Town MacDown, the “cheesiest” food festival in town, will be held Saturday, August 23 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Benefiting Give Kids The World Village, “Where Happiness Inspires Hope”, O-Town MacDown presented by SeaWorld will pit professional chefs, restaurant chefs, and home cooks in a competition to see who has the best mac-n-cheese in Central Florida.

Not only will guests enjoy all the macaroni and cheese they could possibly want, but there will be a kids zone, crafts (macaroni arts and crafts, of course), live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and a live cooking competition.

The Orlando Science Center got a jump start on all the cheesy fun when they invited science campers to make “extreme macaroni-and-cheese.” What’s the recipe? Take a group of fun-loving kids and add blocks of delicious cheese. Center a large vat of noodles in a field, then introduce the Science Center’s catapults! Kids took turns launching the cheese up into the air with the goal of landing *splat* into the noodles. Their high-flying fun helped spread the word about O-Town MacDown!

 

O-Town MacDown is a family-fun event that will also include cooking demonstrations, live entertainment including appearances by the SeaWorld “Groove Chefs.” Magician/Comedian Tony Brent from the WonderWorks Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show will be performing, as well as local acoustic guitarist Islay Rodriguez.

Fans of cooking demos will love watching Retro Rad Chef Emily Ellyn, Jillycakes owner and Cupcake Wars winner Chef Jillian Hopke, Chef Maira Isabel cookbook author and Executive Chef at Disney World Golf Courses, and fourth-generation world-class chef Jody McLeod.

Kids will have fun at three bounce houses, face-painting station, the Mad Scientist Show with Professor Al Chemy, plus character meet and greets and performances by Elevate LIVE!, The Bumbles and The Honey Bees Too®, The Literacy Alliance: Scrambled Fairy Tales, The Orlando Improv All-Stars, and The Magic and Mayhem Comedy Magic Show

Advance purchase tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available at http://www.otownmacdown.org/.

It’s gonna be Gouda!

 

Back-To-School with Goodwill

For back-to-school shopping (like at any time of the year), I am constantly on the lookout for deals. Whether it’s a great coupon, free shipping offer, online community purchasing deal, or some other way to keep more of our hard-earned money, I’m IN. That mindset also steers me to garage sales and thrift stores where kids’ clothes, especially, are a great find!

2014-07-30 15.08.59bGoodwill of Central Florida invited me to do some shopping for my 2nd grader with $25 in gift cards (find out how you can win yours below). As a third-generation recycler and “upcycler” (new term for old habit of re-purposing something others have lost use for), I was only happy to stop by to hunt for clothes for my fast-growing boy.

First up: Gather items WE no longer need. On the way in, 2014-07-30 13.53.17my granny (90-years-old!) pushed the cart that carried our 3 bags full of stuff that no longer fit, or were not what we wanted anymore (including a wok she bought and used one time…. It just wasn’t “right” for her, so she donated it.) There are lots of new items at thrift stores!

Next, go in with a mission: For us, we needed to find clothes for field trips, soccer class, everyday, and “formal.” (My son likes to “dress” for dinner sometimes, and can often be seen in a suit and tie “just because.”) As homeschoolers, our back-to-school list is decidedly less extensive than traditional needs, but we do have to get all the usual items, as he’s growing out of his clothes quicker than I can buy them. That is, coincidentally, one of the reasons I buy second-hand—kids grow out of clothes so fast that oftentimes you can get something practically brand new for cents on the dollar.

Goodwill shopping tripSo what did we find? For $25 we bought:

  • 2 long-sleeve dress shirts
  • 2 tee shirts
  • 2 collared everyday shirts
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 3 books
  • art supplies

Prices ranged from 74 cents for a collared shirt (it was the “color of the week” so it was half-off the original $1.49!) to $3.49 for shorts. The dress shirts (worn once if they were worn at all) were 2.99 apiece.

Insider tip: Look for the color of the week tags first. Then, if you don’t find what
you’re after, go back and look through the other items.

Rafflecopter logo linkAre you a budget-conscious parent looking for a great way to buy back-to-school clothes? Enter this giveaway by clicking on the Rafflecopter photo at left. Maybe you’ll win $25 in gift cards to shop for your kiddos! Good luck!

Leave a comment below for one entry, or add more by Tweeting and if YOU have a cool find, post it on Instagram (details at the Rafflecopter link). Goodwill and other thrift stores have amazing deals on furniture, housewares and adult clothing too. And YES, they even have wedding gowns. I bought my vintage 1940s gown online and consider it my very best second-hand deal! can’t wait to see what cool stuff you find or have found in the past.

National Heatstroke Prevention Day

CFPL00034_Safety_Heatstroke_TT_SP_C07Today, July 31, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. Sadly the news is all-too-often dotted with stories of children left in vehicles as temperatures skyrocket. To help address this issue, the Ford Motor Company is supporting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s efforts to tackle the alarming safety threat that heatstroke poses for young children left in hot cars. As a parent who is keenly aware of this 100%-preventable tragedy, I’m proud to help share this message of awareness and prevention.

Did you know?

  • Last year alone, 44 children in the United States lost their lives after being left in unattended motor vehicles
  • More than half (52%) of kids who died from vehicular heatstroke were “forgotten” by their caregiver
  • A child’s temp can heat up to 5 times faster than an adult’s on a hot day
  • Studies show that when the temperature outside is 90 degrees the temperature inside a parked car can rise to 109 degrees in 10 minutes, 119 degrees in 20 minutes and 124 degrees in 30 minutes

As summer temperatures rise, here are a few simple tips for parents and childcare providers to keep kids safe inside of vehicles:

  1. Never leave infants or children alone in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open
  2. Make sure the safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing a child in a restraint system
  3. Don’t ever leave sleeping infants in the car
  4. Be sure to check the front and back seats of a vehicle before locking it and walking away
  5. Lock your car when you’re not in it, so kids can’t get in on their own (In more than 29% of cases of fatal heatstroke, a child got into the vehicle on their own)

To these excellent tips provided by Ford Motor Company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I also suggest:

  1. Leave your purse or briefcase in the back seat with the child so it HAS to be retrieved when you arrive at work
  2. When your family faces a change in schedule (of who is dropping off children), set a phone alarm or other reminder to double check who is doing what
  3. Make your own reminder “flag” (something bright colored or bulky) that’s attached to the car seat when it’s occupied, and to the driver when the child is secured

When people hear of these tragedies, their responses are often ones of condemnation and cries of how it would “never” happen to them. I’m sure in those 52% of children forgotten children, the parents would have said the same thing prior to the accident. It would never have occurred to them that they would be so distracted by work, health issues, changes in day-to-day scheduling, financial crises, etc. that they would forget for a moment their most precious cargo.

If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If the child is in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose).

Visit www.safercar.gov/heatstroke for more information. #heatstrokekills #checkforbaby

CFPL00034_Safety_Heatstroke_TT_SP_C07

Those Summer Nights at SeaWorld Orlando

I can’t even think of the words “Summer Nights” without hearing certain “Grease-ers” in my mind, dragging out the second half of that phrase in iconic ’50s warble. I’m singing a NEW tune, now as SeaWorld’s Summer Nights has me Makin’ Waves and wanting to Light up the Night!

The atmosphere at Shamu Stadium is like a night club, but for families. Everyone is moving and grooving to the all-new music, played and pumped up by a live DJ. A pre-show decades dance off, gets you on your feet (and your kids entertained) as the stadium fills (and note: you will need to get there early, as shows fill fast).

Our group took advantage of the show-before- the-show and proceeded to dance unabandoned! Wild giggles and shouts for joy were heard from our row, and that was just the warm up! You’ll also get to read some ocean/animal facts while you wait for the show to start. The kids with me wanted me to read every one out loud.

SeaWorld’s outstanding trainers and the ever-magnificent Killer Whales are the Main Event, though. You’ll be hard-pressed not to join in on the oohs and aahs from the audience as the whales leap from the water, or SPLASH the crowd. (And when they say the splash zone goes up to the second level… they’re NOT kidding. Take your cameras and cell phones at your own risk.)

We usually leave before the night shows since my son wakes up at 6:30 every morning (EVERY morning) and it’s normally a wise decision to match that early rise time with an early “to bed” time. I can’t think of a better time to break that rule, though, than on a summer night with friends and family. We all enjoyed the show so much and will be back a few more times at least before summer’s end (which, sadly, seems RIGHT around the corner!).

 

Food and Wine Conference

Food and Wine ConferenceThis weekend, July 18–20, Family Foodie, Sunday Supper and Rosen Hotels present a Food and Wine Conference at Single Creek Golf Resort. Food and wine bloggers from all over the country will gather to eat, greet, and tweet about all things culinary.

Keynote speakers include Whitney Miller and my Rad friend Emily Ellyn.

Great platinum sponsors include Gallo Family Vinyards, Dixie Crystals, Idaho Potatoes, OXO and Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.

The Cabot Cheese is a supporter. So is Parkesdale Market (a FAVORITE) of mine! But what’s the link with Busch Gardens? Why sponsor? What’s the connection?

Travis Claytor, PR Manager, Busch Gardens Tampa, says “Busch Gardens’ culinary scene is constantly expanding and evolving to meet and exceed guest expectations. We are excited to be a part of the Food and Wine Conference and continue to connect with BuschGardensLogofood bloggers across the country. With an increasing knowledge of food and dining, we know the importance of providing exciting culinary options for all our guests. Additionally, although we can’t talk about it quite yet, we are excited for additional culinary elements at Busch Gardens as we move in to 2015.”

Today is the last day to sign up for the Food and Wine Conference. http://foodandwineconference.com/register/
Happy eating and drinking, blogging and Tweeting!

Follow #FWCon for all the latest!