Tag Archives: family

The Great American Celebration

Get your tickets to Viera’s signature summertime event and celebrate the 4th of July with family, friends and neighbors. Baseball, BBQ and fireworks! Visit GreatAmericanCelebration.com, print your tickets online, and bring with you to pick up your commemorative t-shirt at the stadium on game day. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs!

Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree with Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine on June 5

Have you ever watched shows like Top Chef, Master Chef, Iron Chef and any other food contests with chef in the title and thought “I could do that”? This weekend at the Florida Hospital Gourmet Soiree, you can!

On June 5th at Rosen Shingle Creek, Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine will host over 70 of Central Florida’s top chefs as they compete for the coveted Gourmet Soiree Silver Fork Award.  Your ticket to the event qualifies you as their sous chef!

So proud of my #fhgourmetsoiree apron

A post shared by Kari (@nfc_kari) on

Your table of 10 and assigned Chef will conceptualize a healthy dish from a pantry of ingredients provided by Whole Foods. A presentation plate will then be judged by four celebrity guest judges prior to being judged on taste by Robert Irvine himself.

I had an opportunity to participate in a sneak preview event that gave me a small taste, an amuse bouche, if you will, of the big night.13221615_10154067972262707_4698264850060514429_n

To sum it up, the experience was thrilling, exciting, educational, harder than it looks on tv, and so much more delicious too.

My small group was assigned to Chef Jose Gonzalez from Cuba Libre at Pointe Orlando and we were to prepare a dish using tofu. Chef wasted no time in delegating assignments. He gave us an overall plan and it was up to us to fetch the ingredients, prepare, cook and assemble.  What followed was the shortest 45 mins of my life and a retraction of my tofu dislike.

Our team created a BBQ tofu dish with an accompanying salad that won over the judges and secured our win against the other team’s chicken risotto.

When you attend the Florida Hospital Gourmet Soiree, not only will you have a good time, but you’ll be doing good as well.  The event will support Florida Hospital for Children’s vital Health and Wellness Initiatives – Community programs like Mission: fit Possible in our Central Florida Schools, CREATION U in surrounding churches, Dr. Angela Fals’ weight management program and the patient focused CREATION Kids Kamp — all teach children good eating habits and healthy life choices in fun, kid friendly ways.

Team Tofu! Chef Gonzales and I after our team won the #fhgourmetsoiree preview event

A post shared by Kari (@nfc_kari) on

For more information including tickets and pricing, visit http://fhgourmetsoiree.com.

ProTip: To get a sneak peek at the wonderful live and silent auction items, and register ahead of time, go to https://qtego.net/qlink/gourmetsoiree and download the Qtego app!

Central Florida Top 5’s Brian Wilson featured on Humans of New York

Michael J Fox quote Caregivers

As many of our readers know our owner and contributor, Brian Wilson, moved back up north some time ago. Many never knew why. Brian chose to tell only a few select close friends about what was going on. Such reasons are not only very personal but – something to think about – having to rehash details over and over, on almost a daily basis when you already live this, is mentally and emotionally taxing. In fact, roughly half of our writers here at Central Florida Top 5 (including me) share Brian’s daily life experience as a Caregiver.

How in the world did Humans of New York find Brian? New York’s a BIG place!

According to Brian, here’s what happened;

Heading from Washington Heights to Midtown in New York, Brian was stopped by Brandon Stanton, master storyteller and creator of the inspirational blog and #1 New York Times bestselling book, Humans of New York. Even though he currently lives in New Jersey, Brian considers New York City his neighborhood as he only lives 35 miles from Midtown. Brandon spent about thirty minutes talking with Brian about his story. Brian feels that he is here to help others and is a Caregiver for his mom as she is Caregiver for his dad but what Brian doesn’t realize is, he is a Caregiver for both his parents!

“I’ve moved home to live with my parents while my dad battles esophageal cancer. I think my being home has helped my mom even more than my dad. She had stopped taking care of herself. There’s this feeling of helplessness when someone you love has cancer. Two weeks can pass between appointments, and there’s always this feeling that there’s something more you should be doing. For the past two years, Mom always put Dad first. She lost weight. She stopped doing things she cared about. So I’ve started cooking with her every night. That’s our time together. And I’m pushing her to start crafting again. And to go get her nails done every once in awhile. Last night I stayed home while she went to a Broadway show with her friends. And my dad’s happier too. He doesn’t care how Mom’s nails look, but he’s happier knowing that he’s not stopping her from doing things for herself.”

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

No matter where I or our writers and contributors go, we always hear one of three things, “How’s Brian?” “Has he moved back to Florida yet?” “I miss Brian so much!” That’s the kind of mark Brian leaves on people; his compassion and willingness to help, fun and playful spirit, his love of community and unending stream of ideas. You love him when you see him and miss him when he’s not around. We miss him terribly here at Top 5 but we know he’s never far. He’s where he needs to be.

Brian Wilson, The Nice Brian

Brian judging the Florida Citrus Parade

On a personal note, Brian asked me to share part of my Caregiver story as part of this post. It’s not something I would normally share in detail, out of respect for my mom’s privacy. (She HATES it when I share about her on social media!) I was, however, allowed to share ONE photo a week for every week she took chemotherapy on my Instagram page, using #Chemo Week #__. 

Its purpose, I explained to my mom, was to educate people on treatments and to make cancer a little less scary for others. Through my years of advocacy and volunteerism with local and global organizations, I’ve learned that cancer is brutal, unforgiving, and does not discriminate so why should anyone treat it with kid gloves? Battle for my mom’s life? Let’s do this, Mom. Beast Mode ON.

In honor of Brian, his parents and with my mom’s permission, it’s the least I can do. Like Brian, I love helping others and if someone gleans any sort of usefulness or solace from this, it’s a good day;

That’s my mom, Pam, and I (above) at last year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Orlando. The proverb, “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes,” has always been a personal mantra of mine, but has especially rung true in the last two years when my mom was diagnosed for a second time with cancer.

She was first diagnosed on July 1, 2010 with Stage I Uterine cancer. This was the day I stopped capitalizing the word ‘cancer.’ As far as I’m concerned, this disease doesn’t deserve the distinction of being a noun – or verb depending on how it’s used – nor proper capitalization. It’s my way of fighting back.

My mom was diagnosed again on July 26th, 2014 with Breast cancer, a side effect from the medication treating her for Uterine cancer. (Go figure.) And it was bad.

Well after the fact, we learned she had between Stage III and Stage IV Breast cancer. My mom throughout her treatment did not want to be ‘typed.’ She knew her cancer was advanced because she had kept an exterior tumor to herself for (at least) six months, and didn’t couldn’t bear to face that number.

The diagnosis of cancer number two itself was already overwhelming. Hearing the words, “You have cancer,” are devastating on their own, and especially to our family. We’ve lost more than half of our family to some form or complication from cancer. My mom has lost both her siblings to cancer, as well as her grandmother, aunt, sister-in-law, and countless other friends. Most recently and in the middle of her battle, my mom lost her other rock, her best friend of 30-plus years, Margie, to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). (As did Star Trek’s Dr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy.) To be the sole surviving member of her immediate family, and to get her own cancer diagnoses was soul shattering.

It’s been a rough few years for our family but good news is on the horizon. Thanks to my mom’s oncologist, whom she randomly met during a hospital stay after she was diagnosed, my mom is doing better. A couple of weeks ago my mom heard The “R” Word for the first time – REMISSION! She’s still taking chemo infusion but only once a month instead of once a week.

In the beginning of this journey, I didn’t know the difference between a PICC line and a Portacath – or what the heck either even were. I was as scared as my mom and even less informed. Thanks to a wonderful oncology team, home care nurses and Dr. Google, I educated myself.

Not a week goes by that I don’t get a private message from a friend or friend of a friend who has received a cancer diagnosis, or has become a Caregiver by proxy. There’s no manual on this stuff just as there’s no manual on understanding your loved one, sick or not. Hopefully these tips will help all Caregivers:

Jen’s Top 5 Caregiver Tips

    1) Even if you don’t like it, even if it’s what you do not want to do or what you think is best, LISTEN to your Survivor. What the patient says GOES. (It’ll be frustrating but you must always respect your loved one’s wishes.)

    2) Each day will be different as every patient is. Tomorrow is never promised – to any of us. Be ready for it, get some SLEEP. Taking care of you will help you take care of your loved one. Allow some time for yourself. It’s not wrong. [Extended family and friends: Don’t ASK if a patient or Caregiver need help, JUST DO. It will be more appreciated than you know.]

    3) Remember, even on your worst day, you are a CareGIVER, not a careTAKER. The simplest of acts; your company, a home cooked dinner, a clean bathroom, fresh laundry or just an afternoon to Netflix and Chill will always be a comfort and treasured memory.

    4) Keep a NOTEBOOK handy during doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy infusion, hospital visits, etc. As your loved one’s direct Caregiver, you will become a defacto Junior RN and Specialist of your loved one’s condition. [Think: Dr. House with a pleasant bedside manner.] Know and understand all the fancy doctor speak and keep a list of all medications, special care instructions and known allergies handy. In an emergency, this at-hand info can save precious time. Added Bonus: Feeling (and sounding) super smart!

    5) Doctor’s prescription: Enjoy one BIG belly laugh a day. My mom’s oncologist, Dr. Kalpesh Barot of Southwest Cancer Center, actually wrote this prescription on her discharge papers after she was diagnosed. This positive attitude, above any meds, saved her LIFE.

Top 5 Fall Family Friendly Fun

October is the month when, if you’re not a fan of blood, guts, and gore you might have a hard time finding ways to avoid them. It seems like every TV channel and event has some tie-in to the macabre (Phantasmagoria!) and, if you like that sort of thing, you’re in LUCK (check out Howl-O-Scream, The Shallow Grave or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal)!

Parents wanting a kinder, gentler fall season, however, might want a few suggestions for scare-free kid zones through October and (in some cases) beyond.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Photo Credit: Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World

Photo Credit: Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World

Disney Magic with a big dash of Hocus Pocus surrounds you at this separately-ticketed special event select dates through November 1. While officially from 7 to midnight, the party can be entered at 4 p.m., and affords families the opportunity to enjoy a few rides before the festivities begin. Enjoy Mickey’s Boo To You Parade (8:35 and 11:15 p.m.), Trick-or-Treating, meet-and-greets with Jack and Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas” and others, plus special shows including the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular.” Download the free My Disney Experience app to explore event-only entertainment using the “Here and Now” feature. Bring your treat bag and costumes (adults, too!, though no masks allowed). Happy Hallowishes fireworks will round out your #NotSoScary good time. Dates sell out, so purchase yours as soon possible.

SeaWorld Spooktacular

#throughglass

#throughglass

 

An ocean of fun awaits weekends through October 31. Trick or Treat along the pathway where under-sea creatures and sea-inspired “fantasia” characters can be found at every turn. Join Count von Count and his friends Elmo, Abby Cadaby and friends at Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween (reserved seating is available). Add on Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch while you’re there, and don’t forget to get your jam on with a live DJ at Penelope’s Party Zone in Bayside Stadium for stories, activities, bubbles galore, and a pumpkinfish or two! Stop when you see a special silly Spooktacular street performance pop up. You may find the Longshoremen yucking it up Three Stooges-style scooping out pumpkin guts! Wear a costume, or not. All are welcome (adults included!) to enjoy #SeaWorldSpooktacular!

ZooBoo Kids

Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Fear not! Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is focusing on the FUN with ZooBoo Kids. Fear-free activities include a crazy corn maze, Scaredy Cat’s Fun House, Pumpkin Toss Animal Enrichments, Trick-or-treat stations and more. Little boys and “ghouls” (age 11 & under) will enjoy fright-free festivities (no haunted houses) starting at 1 p.m. with extended Zoo hours until 7 p.m. This daytime Halloween celebration features candy, bats and scaredy cats! Happier Halloween ZooBoo activities are included with paid Zoo admission or Zoo membership. ZooBoo KIDS dates are October 10-11, 17-18, 23-26, 30-31 and Nov. 1.

Scott’s Maze Adventures

Credit: Long & Scott Farms

Credit: Long & Scott Farms

Get lost in Scott’s Maze Adventures at Long & Scott Farms, a fall tradition with 7-acres of good, clean fun. Bring your friends and family to test their navigational skills as they wind through the maze with game stops along the way. Bring your sense of adventure (and comfortable shoes!) for an old-fashioned fall phenomenon. J General Public Days are Saturdays and Sundays October 3 through December 13. Check their website for details, prices, and map to the farm.

Brick-or-Treat

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND is for kids of all ages (just like LEGOs!, though only kids 12 and under can trick-or-treat along the Pirates’ Cove Trail). There’s a Spider Scavenger Hunt in Miniland, Special appearances by Frankenstein & Mad Scientist, and if your kids love a little friendly competition, enter the “Everything is Awesome” Costume Contest at FunTown Theater. Enjoy LEGO Halloween Character Meet-and-Greets and special builds including an 8’ ghost and take part in building the world’s largest LEGO Vampyre! Take photos with the 13 foot-long LEGO Hearse built brick by brick and LEGO Pumpkins and stay for the all-new nightly Brick-tastic Fireworks show. Want more? VIP Upgrade Packages are available. Brick or Treat runs October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 23-25, 30, 31. Find out more online.

Our trip to Florida Kids Family Expo

The Florida Kids & Family Expo did not disappoint. I was fortunate enough to cover this event with my wife and daughter, and they loved it! There was so much to see and do at this event, it was hard to put my finger on just one favorite. Since I couldn’t decide, I put together a Top 5 with help from my daughter, Olivia. So without further adieu, here we go with with our Top 5 in no particular order:

1. Fairytales & Heroes

This was one of the first booths we visited on our journey through the Expo, and Olivia loved it.  There were great photo opportunities for kids and adults alike.  While we were there, my wife and daughter took a pic with Tinkerbell. We also saw Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Cinderella during our visit. I have seen a number of “Superhero” companies pop up over the past few years here in Orlando, but the Fairytales & Heroes costumes and makeup are some of the best I have seen.  The Iron Man costume was on point, and the princesses looked like they were straight out of the storybooks. If you have young kids that are looking for Disney Princesses or Marvel Superheroes at their next birthday, this is the place to go!

2. Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest 

What is there to say about this place, other than it is fun and hands on. Now, my family and I have been out to Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest before, and my daughter loves it.  When she saw their booth at the Expo, she was happy to see all the animals they brought with them.  There were baby chicks, goats, rabbits, ducks, and piglets.  Olivia swears up and down she loves piggies, but when they are as up close and personal as they were here, she was happy watching from a distance.  I can tell you that based on my experience, there is so much more to do at Santa’s than just pet animals.  There is a pumpkin patch in October, hay rides, and so much more! If you have never made the trip to Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest, you are missing out and I would highly recommend it for you and your family.

3. Unlimited Bounce House Fun

There were so many bounce houses for Olivia to play in, we actually lost her at one point.  The wife and I were in full on panic mode, but Olivia didn’t have a care in the world.  She took off her shoes and just like that she was gone… From the giant inflatable slide, to the inflatable obstacle course, $10 got your kid unlimited access to all a dozen or so bounce houses. From the looks of it, this was one of the biggest hits for kids of all ages.  There was always a line to get in and never a sad face… well until the parents had to break the news it was time to go.

4. Orlando Aerial Arts 

With my daughter just starting her second season of ballet and tap, this was one of the exhibits that just pulled her in. Imagine the grace of ballet and the strength of gymnastics where the performer’s feet never touch the ground. We’ve been using gymnastics equipment at home. If you can close your eyes and imagine that, you have Orlando Aerial Arts. Olivia stayed and watch two performances without ever moving from her spot on the velvet rope.  It was a beautiful display elegance, with an unbelievable amount stamina. The artist that performed had an array of moves that brought oohs and aahs  from the crowd. This was a very fun live performance.  I mean, it kept a 3 year old engaged for 20 plus minutes!

5. Michaels Crafts

The Michaels booth was another big hit with not only Olivia, but my wife Maria as well.  Here they were able to create their own little pictures. Michaels provided everything from the construction paper, popsicle sticks, markers, glue, and puff foam shapes.  It was a nice hands on event for everyone to get the creative juices flowing! Olivia actually hit this booth twice during our visit.

So this is my Top 5 based on what my wife, my daughter, and I did. However, there was so much more to do at the Kids & Family Expo. For example, the zip-line, tower climb, and Medieval Times live stage show to name a few. I was able to tweet out some of the images during my visit. Give me a follow @djxb1977 and stay tuned to Central Florida Top 5 for future updates!

 

Free CFAMily Day at Rollins Cornell Fine Arts Museum Saturday

This Saturday, August 22, 2015 bring your family to Rollins College for a free Family Day at their Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

The event from 1 to 5 p.m. celebrates their Education Gallery. This completely renovated space explores how Art can…

  • Connect us
    • Symbolize ideas
      • Tell a story
        • Alter reality

Children can participate in drawing tours, a scavenger hunt and explore a still life station. Parents will love the art activities the kids can make and take with them.

New also is a doll house that mimics the museum’s galleries. Budding designers will be able to re-envision the space with their own distinctive flair.

The CFAM collection is about conversations… between artists, among students, across generations. Homeschool families, public school students, private school guests are all welcome! Visit this weekend to get the conversation going!

Limited parking is available next to the museum.  You can also park for free in the SunTrust parking garage on Lyman Avenue with museum validation.  Questions? Email lbuyo@rollins.edu for more information.

Florida Kids and Family Expo 2015 coming to OCCC August 29th

If you have not purchased your tickets to the Florida Kids & Family Expo, what are you waiting for?

This two day event runs from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, August 29th and 11 am to 5 pm Sunday, August 30th at the Orange County Convention Center.

This is the can’t miss family fun event of the year! Over 200 interactive exhibits for parents and children including seminars, character meet & greets, carnival rides, exotic animals, live music, and much more! Also it includes some fun little activities like letting kids drive toy cars, very fun, and if you’re looking for one then check this john deere powered tractor, perfect for teaching your kid how to drive within our park and everywhere else!

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for kids (3-17), free for kids (0-2) in advance, $15 for Adults, $10 for kids (3-17) at the door.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit My Central Florida Family by clicking HERE

Follow me, @djxb1977 live on Twitter Sunday, August 30th as I explore over 150,000 square feet of everything family and children Central Florida has to offer!

Top 5 Fun Places to Hunt Easter Eggs

Something about bunnies and grass make the park seem like the right place for an Easter Egg hunt, but that hippity, hoppity Easter Bunny likes to mix it up sometimes, just like the rest of us. Skip the traditional park hunt and get the kids out somewhere new to hunt down those brightly colored plastic shells filled with sugary treats and prizes. If you’re a grown-up avoiding small humans dressed in pastels, you can hunt your own shells filled with cash and prizes at our #3 pick. Here are five non-park places across Central Florida where the bunny left eggs for you.

1. Green Meadows Farm (April 2-5)

In addition to the rush of filling their baskets with eggs of the plastic variety, the kids can also spend time with the animals who make eggs of the real variety! Pet baby animals, visit Whiskers the Easter Bunny and enjoy live entertainment. Green Meadows Farm touts this as Orlando’s favorite egg hunt. 

2. Fairwinds Credit Union Hippity Hop Adventure at the Central Florida Zoo (April 4 & 5)

Not only can you hunt your egg-y prizes, but you can hop along the Adventure Trail to find clues from the Easter Bunny to win candy, prizes and surprises. Prepare for cuteness overload as kids receive free bunny tails to wear. Crafts, a bounce house, live entertainment and the Easter Bunny are also promised. Check the zoo website for details. 

3. Third Annual Adult Easter Egg Hunt at The Hammered Lamb (April 5)

Just because you’re all grown up and the Easter Bunny forgot to stop by your house doesn’t mean you can’t join in the fun. In fact, it means you get to enjoy brunch and Bloody Marys while searching for a golden egg hiding $100! Being grown up no longer sounds so bad. Egg Hunt at 2pm, Egg Toss and live music at 3pm. Maybe save the Bloody Marys for after the hunt so you can focus. 

4. Artegon Marketplace (April 4)

Bonus for guardians of small human egg hunters – you can shop in an air-conditioned building while the little ones hunt! Hunt for Easter eggs scattered throughout the artisan village and in surrounding stores, some containing prizes from Artegon merchants. Visit the Easter Bunny, get an Easter balloon animal and make a custom flipbook (1-4 p.m., free while supplies last). If you register to win, you might score an Artegon Easter basket filled with merchant prizes. 

5. WonderWorks 2nd Annual Upside-Down Easter Egg Hunt (April 4)

Turn Easter on its head and hunt down those eggs hidden throughout the WonderWorks exhibits. The building being upside down is not the only surprise – expect prizes, candy and more, but you’ll have to get up early to get these eggs.

If you’re a traditionalist and prefer your Easter with both plastic and real grass, check out the City of Winter Park 61st Annual Easter Egg Hunt or the Sanford Easter Eggstravaganza both on Saturday, April 4, 2015. 

You’re advised to bring your own baskets and to check each event website for details including ages and hunt times.

Happy hunting! 

Music of the Movies Free Outdoor Concert

I vividly remember going to see the musical Bye, Bye Birdie in the park as a kid. Since then, I’ve had an intense love of outdoor arts events. Luckily, our outdoor event season here in Central Florida is much longer than most places, so we often have the chance to enjoy the arts along with some fresh [maybe humid] air. The Orlando Philharmonic is gearing up to treat us to a free outdoor concert on Saturday, April 18 in Loch Haven Park. Don’t waste this opportunity to simultaneously infuse your spring with some culture and some nature.

If you’ve never heard the Orlando Philharmonic play, you’re in for a treat. In its third annual free outdoor concert, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra performs Music of the Movies. Conducted by Chad Shoopman, the concert will feature a combination of themes from films such as “Jurassic Park,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Star Wars” and “The Incredibles,” as well as classical music popularized by movies. Don’t miss a special appearance by the cast of Orlando Repertory Theatre’s production of “Shrek the Musical.” Music of the Movies starts at 6 p.m.

Lounging in the park sounds like enough fun, but before the concert, you can visit the instrument petting zoo and enjoy entertainment by Mr. Richard & The Pound Hounds at 4 p.m., followed by the REP Power Chords at 5 p.m. Food trucks will be on hand to make sure your grumbling tummy doesn’t disrupt the concert.

The concert is funded by Dr. Phillips Charities, with additional sponsorship from Orlando Family Magazine. The concert will be performed in honor of Della Phillips, the wife of early citrus pioneer, Dr. Philip Phillips, once the largest producer of citrus in the world. Mrs. Phillips was known for her love of classical music, especially works by Mendelssohn, and for hosting outdoor concerts on the lawn of the Phillips family home on Lake Lucerne in downtown Orlando. Mrs. Phillips’ interest in music stemmed from early training in piano and music theory while attending private schools in New Orleans and Mobile. 

This is an alcohol-free event, but you are encouraged to bring your own seating and picnic if you won’t be partaking in food truck fare. Leashed pets are permitted in the park. In the case of rain, call the Orlando Philharmonic Box Office to confirm the concert will take place as scheduled. Information at www.OrlandoPhil.org, or call 407-770-0071.

See you at the park!

Community Based Care of Central Florida 5k Stroller Derby

Babies, start your engines!

On Nov. 1, Community Based Care of Central Florida (CBCCFL) — the nonprofit organization that oversees foster care and adoption in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties — will host its first 5k/Stroller Derby event at Harbor Park in Baldwin Park.

Moms and dads with their families are invited to participate in the event that will feature a 5k stroller walk, games and activities including a cutest baby outfit and best decorated stroller contest. You can use any sort of stroller, and there’s no limit to amount of tots – so pack your best double stroller and come on down.

Nancy Alvarez, an anchor for WFTV Channel 9, will serve as honorary chair for the event. All proceeds directly support the children and families of Community Based Care of Central Florida.

WHEN: Saturday, November 1, 2014
Registration: 8 a.m.
Event: 8:30-12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Harbor Park at Baldwin Park
4990 New Broad Street
Orlando, FL 32814

COST: $25 per family in advance
$30 per family day of event

TO REGISTER: Visit www.cbccfl.org

CONTACT:

Debbie Leon, Development Director, Community Based Care Of Central Florida
Debbie.leon@cbccfl.org
(321) 441-2322

Cheesy Kids at Orlando Science Center Tout MacDown

O-Town MacDown, the family-friendly cooking competition with entertainment, kids zone, crafts, and more will be held Saturday, August 23, 2014 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Benefiting Give Kids The World Village,  O-Town MacDown presented by MacDown CollageSeaWorld will pit professional chefs, restaurant chefs, and home cooks in a competition to see who has the best mac-n-cheese in Central Florida. (Read more about it here.)

To help spread the word, the Orlando Science Center invited science campers to make “extreme macaroni-and-cheese” on August 1. These physics-minded kids catapulted blocks of cheese into vats of noodles for high-flying, cheese-hurling fun!

What do catapults and mac and cheese have in common? Well… not a whole lot, but on this one day they were combined when cheese blocks were sent flying, in addition to some Angry Birds!

Pre-event tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids, but you can win a pair right here! Click on this Rafflecopter Link, and follow instructions. Some luck winner and their “Plus One” will get their fill of macaroni and cheese on us.

Contest ends 08/18/2014 at 12:00 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Full details: http://centralfloridatop5.com/2014/08/09/o-town-macdown-mac-and-cheese-competition-to-benefit-give-kids-the-world/

CFAMily Days This Summer

Friday, June 20, 2014 and Friday, August 8, 2014, from 2 to 6 p.m., The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College invites Central Florida families to enjoy “CFAMily Day at the Cornell.” This free event will be filled with fun and educational activities. From gallery tours to hands-on art-making to scavenger hunts and games, there’s something for everyone in the family. The programs designed for children ages 6 and up, but all are welcome.

As the only teaching museum in the greater Orlando area, The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is perfectly suited to provide art education for every member of the family.

Cornell Fine Arts Museum is located on the campus of Rollins College near downtown Winter Park, 1000 Holt Avenue – Building Number 303, Winter Park, Fla. 32789.

For more information, call (407)-646-2526,  or visit cfam.rollins.edu.

Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Kids to SeaWorld’s “Just For Kids” Festival

I am always looking for ways to have fun and create lasting memories with my kids. So, when the opportunity came to go to SeaWorld and enjoy their Just for Kids Festival, I jumped on it!

Here are 5 reasons YOU should take your kids!

1. It is educational. As a busy homeschool mom, I will use any and all opportunities to educate my children. So, I was thrilled to see that I really didn’t have to do much, other than sit back and let SeaWorld do the educating.

Your kids will learn about many different animals and their habitats, eating habits, and more. Plus they will learn valuable information about taking care of the environment!

It is a science lesson all wrapped up in more fun than you can squeeze in a day–and the best part is, they don’t even realize it!

2. Close Encounters. In the new “Sea Garden” they will have several opportunities to not only “meet the keepers”, but they will also see some amazing animals–and even get to touch a few!

On our trip we saw and learned more about: the awesome and fabulous bald eagle, a majestic African fish eagle, an adorable miniature horse, and a very sophisticated laughing kookaburra! It was very cool!

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - miniature pony

My sweet girl fell in love with this miniature pony.

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - bald eagle

This is Maddie. She fell out of her nest at 5 weeks and was permanently injured and was declared unreleasable by the government. Now, she lives a happy life at SeaWorld–helping kids appreciate wildlife!

Another thing about the Sea Garden I want to mention is the incredible statues! Each one is made from trash that washes up on the beach! You would never know that it was trash. They are each so incredibly beautiful and creative!

Seaworld's Sea Garden art - fish

Can you believe this is made from TRASH that washes up on the beach?? Amazing!

Seaworld's Sea Garden art -StarFish

My little girl loved this pretty starfish!

Seaworld's Sea Garden art -Octopus

This was my favorite. I was amazed that someone made an octopus like this–out of trash! SO beautiful!

3. Interactive Games and Challenges. My daughter loved this. You are given special event maps for the kids to use during their adventure. The map shows the various areas around the park that are dedicated to the Just for Kids Festival.

It also has 4 Starfish at the bottom. These stars are a very cool part of their experience. You see, they go around the park, and these 4 stars represent special locations where they will play a challenging game (not too challenging. They are age-appropriate), and learn about some animals, their habitats, etc. Once they have participated in the game and listened to the Animal Ambassadors, they get a cool animal card and a stamp for their map!

Once all 4 stars are stamped, they get a very nifty little “junior” ambassador SeaWorld key chain with a picture of Shamu!

My daughter loved it! She felt like she accomplished something.

4. Conservation and the Environment. Unfortunately, our environment has suffered a lot from the poor decisions people have made over the course of time. Because of this, the beautiful creatures that were created to bring us joy, are suffering. They are losing their habitats, lives, and quality of life.

It makes me sad.

Thankfully, there are places like SeaWorld, who educate children (our future), work to protect the environment, and help rehabilitate animals that are adversely affected by our poor choices.

It makes me happy that my daughter is learning to appreciate animals and the planet she stewards!

5. It’s F.U.N. Of course you cannot have an event for kids without fun! And, let me tell you, it is FUN! There are dance parties, music, roller coasters, kid-friendly activities, close encounters, rides, interactive games, face-painting, awesome shows, story time, and more!

Speaking of “awesome shows”… We saw Cookie Monster RAP at the Elmo Rocks show! OMG! It was hilarious! I never thought I could enjoy Sesame Street characters this much! I think the parents in the audience liked it just as much as the kids–maybe more! They had some 80’s tunes sung by Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, Abby, Zoe, and of course Elmo himself!

Loved it! It was totally awesome!

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - Elmo Rocks

This was one of my favorite parts of the day! I will never forget when Cookie Monster rapped!

OK, so go and grab your SeaWorld tickets and head on out to the Just for Kids Festival! It is going on Saturdays through April 12, 2014!

Then, come back and tell me about all the fun your kids had–and don’t forget to see Elmo Rocks!

About the Author: Lara is a busy mom of two who loves traveling, good food, and enjoying life! You can read more about her at AdventuresofaTravelingFoodie.com

Comedy that will “SLEIGH” you!

Cast of SLEIGH at Orlando Shakespeare OrlandoShakes.org Holiday playIf laughter is the cure for “what ails you,” then ward off your holiday stress by seeing SLEIGH at the Lowndes Shakespeare Theater, now through December 23. In this hilarious and heartfelt montage of scenes of the season, you’ll see yourself…

—at the airport dealing with “those” people,

—being attracted (distracted?!) by the bells and whistles all around saying “buy me!” at every turn, and

—picking out the perfect Christmas tree that has “just” the right fullness, and “just” the right… um, dance moves?!

You can also be a fly on the wall at the post office as they prep, package, and post the mail. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will prevent these carriers from doing their sworn duty. (OK, maybe that one bird might have something to say about it!)

Without the use of spoken word, SLEIGH performers draw you into their world with plenty of guffaws, sight gags, and physical humor. Kids young and old will be filled with “good cheer” at the sights and sounds we can all relate to. Hilarious cast of SLEIGH makes sure this letter is delivered.

Our family puts this on our “must do” list every year.  My 5-year-old talks about it all year long, and acts out scenes in preparation for the coming performances. We were not disappointed this past Sunday as we attended. I think we now have just enough holiday hee hee hees to go with our ho ho hos!

SLEIGH is a production of PB&J Theatre Factory, dedicated “to creating theatrical performances that engage and inspire audiences of all ages” and stars Orlando favorites Mike Gill, Ana Eligio, Brandon Roberts, Terrence Yip, and Marty Stonerock. Directed by Brandon Roberts and the PB&J gang, the creative team includes Zanna King (Lighting Designer), Michael Gill (Sound Designer), Jamie Mykins (Stage Manager), Claud Smith (Scenic Designer), and Denise R. Warner (Costume Coordinator).

WHAT — SLEIGH | Written and Produced by PB&J Theatre Factory

WHEN — Now through – December 23, 2012 – ON SALE NOW!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:30 pm

WHERE — Orlando Shakespeare Theater in the Goldman Theater

Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 East Rollins Street, Orlando, FL 32803

TICKETS — Advance tickets online/phone/walk up:  $16.50 | At the door (1 hour prior to show):  $20.00

Tickets are available by calling (407) 722-7037 or online at www.pbjtheatrefactory.com and in person at the Box Office located inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 East Rollins Street in Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park.