PLAYguide: Uncategorized

Things to do Easter Weekend

Easter fun goes way beyond regular ol’ egg hunts here in Orlando. Check out the top places to PLAY:

  • Do an Easter Egg Craft on April 13! Kids ages 5-12 will love this free event at the Windermere Library. Be sure to register in advance! See website for more info.
  • Hard Knocks Orlando is doing an extreme spin on a holiday tradition with its Combat Easter Egg Hunt on April 14! Find eggs scattered around the arena and win fun prizes! There’s no extra charge to take part in the fun. See website for more info.

  • Head to Amaya Papaya Play Lounge for their Baby Boogie Bash: Easter Spring Fling! Kids will love getting up and moving to the beat at this fun dance party featuring jams from the 80’s, 90’s, and today. Be sure to bring socks! See website for more info.

  • Join the Hippity Hop Adventure at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens on April 15! There will be surprise Bunny Stops, Easter egg hunts, candy, prizes, and much more scattered around the zoo. It’s all included with regular zoo admission! See website for more info.
  • The city of Oviedo is hosting its annual Marshmallow Drop on April 15. Kids will collect marshmallows in exchange for candy! There will also be other family activities. See website for more info.

  • Kids will love the O2B Eggstravaganza! Head to O2B Kids Oviedo & Altamonte Springs on April 15 for egg hunts, carnival games, and other family fun. See website for more info.
    • SkyZone Orlando is having an Easter Egg Hop for kids ages 10 and younger. Jump with the Easter Bunny and look for treat-filled eggs! Be sure to buy your tickets in advance. See website for more info.

    • The Enzian Theater is hosting a brunch and egg hunt on Easter morning. In the afternoon, there will be a showing of the 1999 movie Stuart Little. See website for more info.

    • Fancy families will love the Easter Brunch at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. The resort’s Italian restaurant, Ravello, is offering a brunch buffet featuring breakfast classics and decadent desserts; meanwhile, Plancha is offering a Cuban twist on Easter brunch, including bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas. See website for more info.

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Newborn-Friendly Dates

4 Date Night Ideas That Don’t Require a Sitter

Words by Stephanie Patterson

As a new parent, date night may be the last thing on your priority list. Yet, a regular night out is an important part of a happy and healthy relationship, and there’s no need to forgo it once your baby has arrived. Choose from these creative newborn-friendly ideas, and celebrate your family date night success. No babysitter required!

1. Audubon Park Dessert Hop
Audubon Park combines casual dining establishments with walkability, offering perfect conditions for a date with baby in tow. Keep things light and fun with a dessert hop around the district, starting at East End Market ( for a cookie at Gideon’s Bakehouse. Continue your sweet-toothed adventure with an ice cream right at Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream and a cupcake from Blue Bird Bake Shop (

2. Winter Park Alfresco Dining
Take advantage of Orlando’s pleasant year-round temperatures and dine alfresco on Park Avenue ( Taste the best of Italy at Prato, or indulge in weekend brunch at The Parkview. After your meal, take a leisurely walk through Central Park or wander the brick-lined streets.

Admission for kids under age 4 is always free at Harry P. Leu Gardens.

3. A Day at the Gardens
If your baby is happiest when in motion, pack the stroller and spend a few hours in the great outdoors. Harry P. Leu Gardens ( boasts wide, paved trails and a tranquil garden environment year-round. Admission for children under age 4 is always free. More free fun for the family can be found at Mead Botanical Garden ( in Winter Park, which features a scenic boardwalk and picnic pavilions.

4. Romantic Night In
For date night fun without leaving home, order food from UberEATS ( or Postmates (, put on your [comfy!] date night best and light a few candles. Then, treat yourselves to a DIY spa day with backrubs and homemade mimosas or dust off your favorite board games for a little friendly competition.

STEPHANIE PATTERSON is a contributor to Orlando Date Night Guide, the area’s most comprehensive resource for local date night ideas. A local photographer, travel blogger and food tour guide, she shares her creativity on

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March/April 2017 Digital Issue

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Dancing Through Life

Words by Tracey C. Velt | Photos by Jessica Friend

Hannah Harshman is no stranger to dance. “My mom put me in dance class when I was 3 years old,” says Hannah, artistic director and owner of Dance 360 Orlando in Baldwin Park. “It started as a summer activity to keep me busy, and I’ve been dancing ever since. I even went to an arts high school in Lexington, Kentucky, where I danced for hours every day,” she says. In fact, by the age of 15, Hannah had already decided she wanted to make a career out of dancing. “I realized that I love to teach and choreograph,” she says.

So, in the summer of 2014, Hannah founded Dance 360 ( in Baldwin Park. At the time, she had one son, Shwyer (4). “Three months into construction, I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Shepherd (2). Dancing competitively taught me time management and how to find balance. I tapped into those resources!”

Both of Hannah’s sons are dancing. “We have a program called Twos in Tutus and a creative dance program geared toward dancers ages 3 to 5,” she says. Dance 360 has a unique curriculum for the younger dancers that allows them to learn to follow directions and work as a group. “Of our staff of 12 teachers, four of them teach the younger children,” she says.

Like most moms, Hannah finds it difficult to balance work and family; however, she has built a culture at Dance 360 that encourages everyone to put family first. “I am a mom first and a business owner second,” she says. “If I have a child who is sick, I’m staying home. If I keep that mindset, everything falls in place.”

She also notes that it takes a village at home to manage a business and two small children. “My husband, Brian, has been so supportive,” says Hannah, who notes that her mom, Jolynn, works as her office manager. “You can’t do everything. I’m a Type A personality, and delegating is hard, but I’ve had to learn that I can’t do it all myself,” she laughs.

Right now, Dance 360 is thriving. “We’ve expanded so quickly and have about 300 students registered (at the time of the interview, registration was still open),” she says. “We’re quickly outgrowing our space and are looking for a new space in the same neighborhood. It’s been exciting to watch,” she says.

“What sets us apart is that we have something for everyone — that’s what the 360 stands for. We offer all different styles for the casual or serious dancer, including musical theater,” she says. The studio is also the only Dance Masters of America studio in Central Florida.

With boundless energy, a clear vision and a passion for dance, Hannah is excited about building on the foundation she started.

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Spring Break Camps in Orlando

Keep the kids playing at these local Spring Break camps.

RDV Sportsplex Ice Den is hosting a Learn to Skate Camp and a Figure Skating camp from March 20-24! Each camp is $245 for the week or $60 for individual days. Skaters must be at least 6 years old to participate in Learn to Skate Camp and 7 years old to participate in Figure Skating camp.
Click here for more info.

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is taking kids on a wild Spring Break adventure on March 13-17 and March 20-24. Kids ages 6-12 will get to have up-close encounters with animals and learn about the many mysteries hidden in their histories! Camp is $170 for passholders, $190 for non-passholders.
Click here for more info.

A Kids Gym in Oviedo is keeping your kids active during their camp which includes gym time, arts & crafts, group games and more! Camp meets during Seminole County’s Spring Break, and costs up to $160 for the week and up to $41 for individual days.
Click here for more info.

Orlando Science Center is offering all kinds of activities during Spring Break! Whether your kid is into coding, puzzles, nature, or all of the above, they’ll find something to enjoy at these educational camps. Activities are on March 17 and March 20-24, with varying price options.
Click here for more info.

Full Sail Labs has Spring Break workshops that are great for tech-loving kids! Join on March 20 for Minecraft, March 21 for photography, or March 24 for acting! Each workshop is $50 per student.
Click here for more info.

The Orlando Magic are hosting a Spring Break camp that will turn your little basketball enthusiast into an all-star! Several camp options cater to a wide range of experience levels. Prices range from $175-$225 for a five-day camp. Dates vary.
Click here for more info.

Orlando Museum of Art will cater to your little camper’s creative side this Spring Break. Kids in grades 1-5 will enjoy crafts like painting, sculpting, and papermaking. Camp dates are March 17 and March 20-24. Each day has a different theme and activity! Costs $45 for one class, or $240 to bundle six classes.
Click here for more info.

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Maternity PLAYguide 2017

Here comes baby! These local services for expectant mothers will make your new baby’s transition into the world a little easier.

A Special Advertising Section

B & B Babytalk offers a unique shopping experience. From Once Upon a Time to Happily Ever After! Fulfilling your needs from maternity to childhood. This family-owned business has everything. Maternity, infant & children’s clothing, baby gear & necessities, toys, new & resale, custom everything & even a photo studio. Hate shopping with your kids? Not here. We have a play area, and we happily welcome kids!
12315 S. Orange Blossom Trl., Orlando • 407-412-5043 •

Birth In Awareness Homebirth and Midwifery Services
Maggie McCarthy, LM, CPM offers comprehensive prenatal care, including home birth, water birth, VBAC and prenatal midwifery care for those choosing hospital birth. Actively sharing in decision-making helps women feel empowered in their health care. Appointments are personalized for individual care and education. The Birth In Awareness team is confi dent and compassionate, focusing on creating family through education, awareness and support.
Serving Central Florida • 407-234-7482 •

Consider Anything Done, LLC Provides customized full-service assistance for families in the greater Orlando area. For over 25 years, owner Alisha Champ has been helping families in many different ways, such as new motherhood consulting (from swaddling to potty training), nanny services (including tutoring and survival swim lessons), event planning (birthdays and baby showers) and/or home organization and interior design. I will lighten your load to allow you more time for making memories with your family. If there’s a need, Consider Any Thing Done!
352-895-7535 •

Doulas of Orlando
The doula is a positive contribution to the care of women in labor. By tending to the woman’s emotional needs, obstetric outcomes are improved plus early mother/infant bonding and breastfeeding are enhanced. A woman’s satisfaction with the birth experience improves with a doula’s assistance during childbirth. We offer Birth & Postpartum Certifi ed Doulas, Childbirth Education, Placenta Encapsulation, Breastfeeding Assistance and Birth Consulting. Hablamos Espanol.
Serving Central Florida • 321-804-2969 •

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.52.39 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.52.43 PMFlorida Hospital for Women is not only a haven for women’s health, but is also Florida Hospital’s newest addition to the extension network of women’s services. The 12-story, 332-bed comprehensive women’s hospital offers an array of services, including obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, breast care, and cardiovascular services. The hospital will soon be home to a Level 3 NICU, oncology, and innovative mental health services.
601 East Rollins Street, Orlando, Florida 32803 • 407-303-4HER •

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.52.28 PMJessica Friend Photo Design
Jessica Friend is an Orlando-based lifestyle portrait and event photographer whose work has a fresh, light, natural style with a photojournalistic feel. She loves to catch those in-between moments that showcase the love family members have for one another as well as their individual personalities. Her goal is to capture brief moments in time and turn them into family memories that will be cherished forever.
407-212-7881 • •

Lou & Pepper love babies! Boutique Party Planners & MOMS, Andrea and Cristina, will partner with you to celebrate all of your baby’s party-worthy milestones. We specialize in parties for kids ages 0-101, so you can count on us for baby showers, faith-based celebrations and 1st birthday parties, and 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th … Contact us today for a free consultation.
Serving Orlando and surrounding areas • 407-476-9659 •

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.52.14 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.52.18 PMMaison Baby
Owned and operated by local moms, Maison Baby children’s boutique brings you the best of the best in gear, gifts and surprises for a variety of ages! Take the guesswork out of what’s great for your little one. Our products are mom-tested and kid-approved!
Maison Baby 485 S. Orlando Avenue • Maitland, FL 32751 • 407-605-2860 •

Romp n’ Roll Winter Garden
We offer a Baby Gym class (3-12 months) with a different theme and setup each week for your baby to develop appropriate skills and muscle groups. The 45-minute class includes instructor-led activities, yoga and relaxation tips, music, parachute time, sign language, and discussion topics for parents to share information with one another. Class opens with a book and ends with a lullaby, bubbles and song. Come play and discover with your baby!
14131 W. Colonial Dr., Winter Garden • 407-656-ROLL •

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.51.17 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.51.20 PMSimply Shelby Photography is an on-location boutique studio specializing in modern baby, children, family and maternity photography. Owner and photographer Shelby Finkelstein uses only natural light and believes in taking a more “lifestyle” approach to her photography. Shelby’s style is PERFECTLY IMPERFECT. Being a mother of three has inspired her playful style and ability to connect with her subjects.
Central Florida and Surrounding Areas • 407-951-5123 • 561-654-4339 (cell) •

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.51.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.51.11 PMtugboat & the bird was established in 2001, and is known by locals for its bright yellow door and playful interior. We carry traditional children’s clothing and layette, fun accessories, unique room décor and one-of-a-kind newborn and children’s gifts. Our cheerful employees are passionate about what they do and welcome the opportunity to help customers choose the perfect gift for their own children or for those of another. Baby registry in-store and online!
318 Park Avenue North • Winter Park FL 32789 • 407-647-5437 •

Twinkle Toes offers the best in childcare from date night babysitting to full time nanny care. With nannies who are screened far beyond industry standards you can rest easy knowing your children are in the best of hands. It’s not too early to schedule your summer nanny for the whole summer or just to fill the gap between summer activities. You deserve peace of mind and your child deserves a Twinkle Toes Nanny!

Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies
Our 11-story hospital provides complete women’s care, from obstetrical care and high-risk births to minimally invasive gynecological surgical services. We are also home to one of the largest, most advanced Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the country, with national recognitions and outstanding care.
83 W. Miller St., Orlando • 321-8HEALTH •

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Top 10 Baby Names of 2016

Bringing a new bundle of joy into the world? The Baby Place at Winter Park Memorial Hospital sent us their top 10 baby names of 2016 to help give you ideas of what you’ll call your little prince or princess.

    Girl Names:

  1. Kayla
  2. Annabelle
  3. Elizabeth
  4. Carolyn
  5. Grace
  6. Stephanie
  7. Sarah
  8. Abbigail
  9. Lexy
  10. Jazlynn

    Boy Names:

  1. Alvin
  2. Carter
  3. Elijah
  4. William
  5. James
  6. Gordon
  7. Josiah
  8. Henry
  9. Ryan
  10. Grayson

Which names are your favorites? Did you get any ideas? Share & tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

See more awesome baby ideas and new-parent tips in this year’s
March/April issue of PLAYGRUOND Magazine.

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Dress Up. Play Hard. Stand Out.

Words by Lisa A. Beach | Photo by Jessica Friend

With a company slogan of “Dress Up, Play Hard, Stand Out!,” mompreneur Tracey Currey of Winter Park is a force in giving back to the community and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Currey’s company, PonyTail Bows, caters to the equestrian market (with expansion plans in the works), providing handcrafted bows to horse riders of all ages.

Tapping into her love of horses, Currey started the company in 2013 when a friend asked her to create a set of hair bows for her daughter to wear in a horse show. Currey’s daughters, Anna (9) and Ella (12), also compete, so she understood the dilemma of finding durable, classic bows to complement a rider’s outfit. Happy to help, Currey handcrafted a precision-made, high-quality bow that not only wowed her friend, but also caught the attention of other equestrians. Soon, the requests poured in. After researching the market, Currey developed a proprietary method of hand-made bow craftsmanship that now sets the gold standard.

While her friend’s request jumpstarted the bow-making idea, Currey’s inspiration to launch a business hits closer to home.

“I began riding at age five and competing at nine,” says Currey. “When I got my horse Z, no one believed we could compete because Z suffered from a movement illness. I refused to listen to the naysayers! I had faith that we could work hard and overcome the odds. We ended up competing at the advanced level!”

She lost Z to cancer in 2014, but he still serves as her inspiration today. “I wanted to honor Z’s journey through the success of PonyTail Bows, and I wanted to build a company that would serve others.”

Currey makes good on her promise, as PonyTail Bows generously gives back. Through the sale of specialty bows, the company raises funds locally for breast cancer awareness, child abuse awareness and pediatric cancer. Nationally, PonyTail Bows gives a portion of equestrian bow sales to the USHJA Foundation, the charitable arm of the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Currey also launched the Blue Ribbon Project, a leadership program that connects girls from across the country and focuses on sportsmanship, philanthropy and integrity.

“Joining with these causes brought me into alignment with our purpose,” points out Currey. “I wanted to build a company based on inspiration and service but do it in a high-end, beautiful way.”

As she grows her company (in both profit and service), Currey deals with the challenges of juggling her work and family life. “I’m a wife first, a parent second and a business owner third. It’s a balance,” she says. “But the coolest thing is my girls have watched me grow. They’ve seen it’s not always easy. Our family motto is: Never give up!”

PonyTail Bows recently launched new product lines, including athletic bows that can be customized with players’ names, numbers, and positions — perfect for girls who want to dress up, play hard and stand out.

You can find PonyTail Bows locally at Chloe Lane Boutique in Winter Park, The Tack Boutique in Winter Garden and Stockman’s Harness and Saddle Shop in Orlando.

    PonyTail Bows sells three specialty “cause bows” to raise funds for the following local charities:

  1. Pink Out Winter Park, which benefits the Winter Park Memorial Hospital Mammography Scholarship Fund
  2. Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, which benefits Central Florida’s at-risk children and their families
  3. Pediatric Runway to Hope, which benefits children with cancer and their families

Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist, copywriter, humor blogger and recovering homeschool mom who lived to write about it. Check out her writer’s website at and visit her humor blog at

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Child Neurologist Dr. Nitzmari comes to Orlando

Florida Hospital Medical Group is pleased to welcome Nitzmari Melendez-Vazquez, MD, a highly-skilled doctor treating pediatric epilepsy and founding physician of the new Center for Child Neurology.

Dr. Melendez earned her medical degree from Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Her research includes the study of rare immune diseases and infections affecting the central nervous system. She most recently practiced at Augusta University Medical Center where she served as Neurology Chief Resident.

    Dr. Melendez’s areas of specialty include:

  • Demyelinating Diseases
  • Epilepsy Syndromes in Children
  • Headaches
  • Movement Disorders
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Seizures

“We’re very excited to have Dr. Melendez establish this much-needed practice in Central Florida,” says Ki Hyeong Lee, MD, a Medical Director at Florida Hospital for Children. “Her specialized training and research in pediatric epilepsy and other seizure disorders will be of great benefit to our group and the Orlando community.”

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10 Downtown O-Town Spots for Kids

Words by Amanda Keefer

Think downtown Orlando is off limits for families and especially kids? Think again. Downtown features some great places your kids will love.

Flip through the pictures below to explore downtown O-Town:

Click anywhere to see next slide, or use arrows at the bottom to navigate.

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National Catholic Schools Week

The “Lions” of Holy Family Catholic School are gearing up for a week of fun and festivities to show their pride! Students will show their support for their school and Catholic Schools around the country during their Catholic Schools Week celebration. This year, CSW will run the week of January 30, 2017-February 3, 2017. (National CSW runs Jan. 29-Feb 4.)

The theme for this year is “Catholic Schools: Faith, Knowledge, & Service.” The week is full of events and surprises that nourish the body and soul. It begins with the school opening its doors for their annual Open House Monday, January 30, 2017 from 8:30-10am. This will give
prospective families a behind the classroom doors tour of the school.

Through the week masses are held along with various events that get the children’s competitive and creative spirits rolling. There is a WalkA-thon to raise money for the Orphans Rising Missions, Field Day (come see Principal Sister Dorothy Sayers assist in a tug-of-war!), along with Crazy Hair & Sock Day, a Talent Show, Virtual Career Day, and Volunteer Breakfast, honoring all the people who make every event at Holy Family Catholic School possible.

One of the most anticipated days of the week is when the 8th Grade “takes over the school.” The Class of 2017 will prepare lessons for weeks in advance so they will be ready to go to the head of the class to teach younger students lessons while their teachers get to kick up their feet.

For more details on the public festivities, check out PLAYGROUND’S Online Event Calendar.

Holy Family Catholic School
5129 S. Apopka Vineland Rd.
Orlando, FL 32819
Ph. 407-963-7194

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Mia Muniz Has the Write Stuff

Words by Lisa A. Beach – Photos by Jessica Friend
Many writers spend their entire lives trying to break into the big leagues, aiming to snag a byline in Time magazine or The Washington Post. But Lake Nona grade schooler Mia Muniz, age 10, can already add that feather to her cap, as she recently became a Time for Kids reporter.

Mia, a fifth grader at Eagle Creek Elementary, beat out over 300 applicants from across the country to be selected as one of 12 reporters to write for Time for Kids, a weekly classroom news magazine published by Time magazine.

What set Mia apart in this competitive field of kid journalism? “I think it’s because I’m very imaginative, and I have a sparkling personality!,” Mia declares without hesitation. She credits her mom, also a writer, and her teachers for inspiring her love of writing. “They’ve been really encouraging to me and have been my strength-builders,” says Mia.

Mia has been writing stories for years and has quite the imagination, according to mom Amanda. Fueled by her love of reading, Mia offers this advice for other would-be writers, “I think it’s important to read a lot of books and never to give up.”

On Mia’s Time for Kids reporter profile, she lists her top three dream interviews: Serena Williams, Michelle Obama and Taylor Swift. In the meantime, she’s tackling assignments about the new U.S. Tennis Association, which aligns with her passion for tennis, and a community outreach center where disadvantaged people go to shop for groceries. She also interviewed author Robert Hoge, discussing his memoir Ugly: A Beautiful Story About One Ugly Kid, and author Wendelin Van Draanen, who wrote The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones. Although she’s been interviewing nationally acclaimed writers lately, Mia also set her sights on some local stories, as she’s made a couple pitches about Universal Studios.

With some national writing clips already under her belt before middle school, Mia could be headed toward a long and highly successful career in journalism. Or theater. Or sports. When asked what she wants be when she grows up, Mia says, “I’m leaning toward a performer on Broadway, an anchor on the Today show or a career in sports, such as tennis or swimming.”

Regardless of where she’s headed, she’ll be taking her own advice on how to achieve your dreams, “Work hard, never give up, and it’s OK to make mistakes.”

Wise words spoken like a seasoned reporter.

Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist, copywriter, humor blogger and recovering homeschool mom who lived to write about it. Check out her writer’s website at and visit her humor blog at

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Having “The Talk”

When is the right age to talk to your kids about sex?

Words by Angelique Luna

I know what some of you are thinking: Talk about sex with my kid? Never! However, in today’s tech-driven society, we don’t have the luxury of putting off “the talk.” Still, there are suggested guidelines about how much information parents should give at each age.

I thought the ideal age to talk to my daughter about sex was between 13 and 15 years old. In hindsight, I needed to start talking about sex with her when she was 2! From a young age, children need to know about their bodies, boundaries and body image. Not only will this help them develop healthy sexual relationships, but it will also transition over to having healthy relationships in business and with family and friends.

Here are some guidelines on how to handle talking to children about sex. Be prepared; you never know when it will come up! You should have a game plan so you don’t miss a teachable moment. While there are many books and resources out there, be sure you have an actual conversation with your child rather than just handing them a book. Try to make the conversation as natural as possible. And remember, even when you don’t think they’re listening, they are.

Infancy: Up to 2 Years Old

Toddlers should know the proper scientific names of all the body parts. Vagina and penis are not dirty words! Use them often and without hesitation. A very natural time to talk about body parts is during bathing. Try taking turns with the washcloth. Say, “I’ll clean your feet and hands, and you wash your face and vagina.” There — you said “vagina.” See? It’s no big deal!

Early Childhood: 2 to 5 Years Old

Children should understand the basics of reproduction: a man and a woman make a baby together, and the baby grows in the woman’s uterus. Again, use correct scientific names.

This is a perfect time to teach children that their body is their own. Teach them the difference between a good touch and bad touch. Never force them to do something they are uncomfortable with, like hug Aunt Marie who smells like cigarettes. By teaching them that they have a voice about their bodies, they feel more comfortable to tell an adult if someone is doing something bad to them.

Book Resources

  • Everyone Has a Bottom by Tess Rowley
  • Let’s Talk About You and Me Series by Robie H. Harris
  • The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

Middle Childhood: 5 to 8 Years Old

Children should be taught the basics about their body and all its parts. They will begin puberty toward the end of this age span. A number of children will experience some pubertal development before age 10. Their bodies will slowly begin to change, and they need to know how and why. This give kids the foundation of sex education that will naturally build into what their body parts are used for.

Children’s understanding of human reproduction should continue. This may include the role of sexual intercourse. It’s best to stick to the science of the matter at this age. They can start to connect the dots by learning why women and men have different body parts.

    Book Resources

  • What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg
  • It’s Not the Stork by Robie H. Harris
  • What’s the Big Secret? Talking About Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Tween Years: 9 to 12 Years Old

This stage is a challenge because tweens’ maturity levels vary greatly. As their parent, you will need to decide the best age to teach your tween about safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases and contraception. Before your child finishes eighth grade, you can begin the conversation about the emotions involved in a sexual encounter. They should understand what makes a positive relationship and what makes a negative one, especially during the middle school years when many of them begin “dating.”

Parents should watch the documentary Miss Representation. This excellent documentary provides critical information about how sex and sexuality are portrayed in the media. Use this information to teach your tweens about whether the images they see in the media are true/false, realistic/unrealistic, or positive/negative. Emphasize consent and boundaries, which are critical for safety.

    Book Resources

  • Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
  • Sex, Puberty and All That Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up by Jacqui Bailey
  • It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris

It’s a lot to take in. The key is to remember that it’s best that children learn about sex from a parent. It’s even better if that parent has a healthy sexual relationship and body image themselves. If you don’t, you have your own work to do to be a good role model for your child. Take charge for a happier, healthier child today!

Angelique Luna is a sex education advocate, coach, educator and entertainer. She is mom to her daughter, Diva (a nickname), and believes that education is essential in keeping our children safe. Visit her at

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5 Speed and Agility Trainers for Kids

Words by Tracey C. Velt

Want to improve your child’s speed and strength? Consider speed and agility training for children 10 years and older. Here are some places around town:

1. Atlas Speed

Former Olympian sprinter Ernest Wiggins works with kids from age 8 to college-age, offering training for speed, agility and explosiveness. His focus is on the total athlete, including leadership, character, strength training through body-weight exercises, plyometric training, core strength and flexibility.

2. Camp 9 Fitness

Sanford, Orlando
Run by Orlando Predators’ football player Marlon Moye-Moore, Camp 9 offers football-specific training along with camps.

3. D1 Sports

Lake Mary
D1 Sports offers customized athlete training for kids from age 7 to adults. Training includes core strength and flexibility, development of motor skills, strength training through body-weight exercises, plyometric training and conditioning.

4. Total Athlete Training

Total Athlete Training helps youth and adults reach their athletic potential through speed, strength and agility training.

5. Core Speed Training

Orlando (near Mall at Millenia)
At Core Speed Training, they believe that to produce a great athlete you must become faster and stronger than your competition.

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Making Exercise a Family Affair

Words by Tracey C. Velt

When my son, Jake (21), was small, he would ride his bike alongside me during my runs, often veering off into the park and forcing me to chase after him. As he got older, he started running along with my husband and me (complaining all the way!). Running wasn’t his thing but the idea that exercise should be a daily to-do stuck with him. He played a variety of sports throughout high school and is now a football collegiate athlete. My daughter, Sofia (11), runs with me every once in a while. However, volleyball and tennis are her sports of choice, and both keep her busy five days a week. She tells me she loves the way she feels after a workout or practice—strong and healthy.

We are a sports family. We love watching sports (Florida State and UCF!), participating in sports (tennis and running), and encouraging our children as they learn and grow through the sports they play.

However, you don’t have to be a sports family to raise healthy kids. Family walks, bike rides and fun at the park all qualify as exercise. Of course, being healthy mentally and physically requires more than just exercise. So, think good food choices, appropriate portions and limited screen time.

Raising a healthy, happy family can be difficult in an age where the pressure and expectations placed on our children are high. It’s our job as parents to find the balance.

Cheers to a wonderful 2017!

From the January/February 2017 issue of PLAYGROUND Magazine. Read it here.

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Pediatric PLAYguide 2017

Keep your family healthy! These pediatricians and pediatric dentists can guide your path to a healthier lifestyle.

A Special Advertising Section

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.33.44 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.33.50 PMChildren’s Dentistry of Longwood: Dr. Donald is committed to the highest level of pediatric dentistry for your child. You and your child will experience dentistry in a fun environment that teaches about healthy teeth.
365 Wekiva Springs Rd., Ste. #121 Longwood 32779 • 321-295-7893 •

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.33.21 PMFirst Choice Pediatrics: We treat children from birth to 18. Our caring doctors and staff strive to provide extraordinary quality of care to every child, while simultaneously putting the parents’ minds at ease. We offer a range of services, including well visits, emergency sick visits and sports physicals. Our six locations use a centralized Patient Portal so that you can visit any of our offi ces and receive the same personalized care. Metrowest, Sanford, Kissimmee, Winter Park, East Orlando, Oviedo. 407-249-1234 •

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.32.59 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-20 at 2.33.08 PMFlorida Hospital for Children: Supported by the strength, innovations and mission of the Florida Hospital system, Florida Hospital for Children is committed to delivering world-class programs, extraordinary patient care and clinical excellence. Our flagship children’s hospital is the heart of a pediatric network that includes primary care pediatricians, specialty clinics, children’s emergency departments and Kids Urgent Care.
601 E. Rollins St. Orlando 32803 • 407-303-5437 •

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 7.08.00 PMFlorida Hospital Kids Urgent Care provides trusted, convenient pediatric medical treatment for minor illnesses and injuries when your pediatrician’s offi ce is closed. Our specially trained physicians and nurses treat infants to young adults as old as 21 years of age. Both locations are open exclusively after-hours until 11 p.m., 7 days per week, even on holidays.2325 W. Fairbanks Ave. Winter Park 32789 • 407-539-0311
105 S Country Club Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746 • 321-363-4927 •

Interlachen Pediatrics has been caring for Central Florida families for over 30 years. We are a team of 9 physicians, 4 nurse practitioners and staff working together to provide your child with the highest quality pediatric care. We strive to accomplish this by demonstrating compassion, excellence, integrity and teamwork and by treating every child as our own.
846 Lake Howell Rd., Maitland • 1000 W. Broadway St., Ste. 100, Oviedo • 407-767-247 •

Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children has provided compassionate care to the children, teenagers and young adults of Central Florida for more than 25 years. Led by dedicated doctors, specialists and caregivers, Arnold Palmer Hospital offers a wide range of advanced pediatric services in an environment built just for kids.
92 West Miller St., Orlando • 321-843-2584 •

Orlando Health Physician Associates is one of the largest multispeciality healthcare groups in Central Florida with convenient neighborhood locations, including 16 pediatrician offi ces. Because we are a part of Orlando Health, you have access to coordinated care, a wealth of experience and state-of-the-art resources, making us the right choice for your family. We have over 20 locations serving the Central Florida area. Visit our website to find the location nearest to you. 321.8HEALTH •

Orlando Orthopaedic Center: Dr. McCleary attended the Medical College of Ohio to earn his medical degree before completing a residency in pediatrics at Akron’s Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Akron, Ohio. At ACH, he completed a fellowship in primary care sports medicine, providing him specialty training in the care of musculoskeletal and medical problems of active individuals, particularly athletes. Dr. McCleary is the managing physician for Orlando Orthopaedic Centers Concussion Program. 407-254-2500 •

Orlando Orthopaedic Center: Dr. Riggenbach specializes in hand surgery for children and operative and non-operative management of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, nerves to the brachial plexus and extremities as well as microsurgery. He graduated from the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University and completed an orthopaedic residency at the Ohio State University Medical Center followed by a hand/upper extremity fellowship at the University of Florida Department of Orthopaedics. 407-254-2500 •

Orlando Orthopaedic Center: Dr. Topoleski specializes in all aspects of children’s orthopaedics, including pediatric spinal surgery and the Ilizarov method. She earned her doctor of medicine degree from New York Medical College. Upon completion of her orthopaedic residency, Dr. Topoleski became a Pediatric Orthopaedic Fellow at Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa, Florida. She is the Orlando area’s only independent pediatric orthopaedist.
407-254-2500 •

Orlando Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics: Dr. Chaudhry, Dr. Girardot and Dr. Patel are board-certifi ed pediatric dentists providing pediatric dental services to infants, children, teens and special needs patients. Dr. Smith provides orthodontic services to children and teens. We strive to create a positive dental experience in a comfortable, fun, and caring environment. 907 Outer Rd., Ste. A, Baldwin Park • 4769 The Grove Dr., Ste. #118, Windermere407-898-5437 •

Pediatric Dental Group: Dr. Aina, Dr. Hernandez, Dr. Mendez and Dr. Sainvil have two years of specialty training following dental school, with experience and qualifications to care for a child’s teeth, gums and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood. Pediatric Dental Group is a group of board-certifi ed pediatric dentists who take pride in helping children get a healthy smile, one at a time. 9161 Narcoossee Rd., Ste. 101B, Orlando 5518 Lake Howell Rd., Winter Park • 407-737-7767 •

Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida: Dr. Bertot, Dr. Mansour, Dr. Correia and Dr. Smith offer the oldest active pediatric dental and orthodontics (Dr. Smith) practice in the greater Orlando area treating infants to teens and children with special needs. Being parents themselves, they strive to make each appointment positive and informative in addition to providing the highest quality care for your child. 1650 Maitland Ave., Maitland • 407- 628-2286 • 3109 Innovation Dr., St. Cloud • 407-593-8900 •

Windermere Pediatrics: Committed to keeping babies to big kids happy and healthy! Our pediatricians are board-certifi ed by the American Board of Pediatrics. Our professional facility offers everything from on-site diagnosis and diagnostic testing to pediatric vision screening, ear piercings and in-offi ce circumcisions. We have a doctor on call 24 hours to provide you with quality care and peace of mind. 7635 Ashley Park Ct., Ste. 501, Windermere • 407-297-0030 •

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USTA National Campus Now Open!

Tennis Like Never Before

The Home of American Tennis officially opens to the public on Jan. 2, 2017, and it’s ready to provide a tennis experience like never before.

The USTA broke ground on the USTA National Campus back in April 2015 with one goal in mind: to enhance the sport at every level and create an unparalleled playing, training and educational experience for players, coaches and spectators. And the 100-court, state-of-the-art facility situated on 64 acres of land in Lake Nona is ready to do just that.

The National Campus features a mix of hard and clay courts – both Har-Tru green and red clay courts, as well as indoor hard courts and 36- and 60-foot courts for family tennis – and houses the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development divisions.

The complex is divided into dedicated areas that focus on the complete tennis pathway – from the youngest players to recreational competitors of all ages and ability levels, and from collegians to future pros and professional tour-level players.

Open House Information:

The USTA National Campus opens in Lake Nona on January 2. From January 3-5, the USTA will host an Open House, offering a sampling of programs at no cost.

  • Daily sessions: 9:30-11:30am & 5-7pm (7pm Youth Program Q&A)
  • The campus will provide programming for all ages and abilities.
  • Program rates $15 pp/hr, court rental rates start at $12/hr.
    RSVP at (844) USA-TNNS

Learn more:

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Protected: Mom’s Guide to Sports: Speed and Agility Training

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5 Secretly Healthy Recipes

Make a New Year’s Resolution to fill your family up with healthy fruits and veggies! Ready to get started? Try these five easy snack recipes from Produce for Kids and Power Your Lunchbox.

1. Flourless Rasberry Banana Pancakes

(Pictured above)
Packed with three kinds of fruit, these gluten-free pancakes are a sweet delight! Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make the perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast.
Read the recipe

Brown Bear Bento Box

2. Brown Bear Bento Box

It’ll be hard for your kids to decide whether to play with this fun bento box lunch, or gobble it up immediately! Make little graham cracker bears, and lay out a colorful array of fruit & veggie munchies!
Read the recipe

Butterfly Bento Box

3. Butterfly Bento Box

Fill your kid’s lunchbox with goodies so sweet, they’ll feel like they’re outside at recess. Cut peanut butter banana sandwiches into cute little butterflies, and pack the side compartments with more healthy goodies!
Read the recipe

Simple Fruit Yogurt Parfaits

4. Simple Fruit Yogurt Parfaits

Yes– dessert can be healthy, too! Simply stack fruit and yogurt in a cup or bowl to make this fancy-looking delight. Bonus: cut the fruit into heart shapes for a sweet Valentine’s Day treat!
Read the recipe

Healthy Apple Donuts

5. Healthy Apple Donuts

At first they’ll think they’re eating a coconut-covered caramel donut… but with one bite, they’ll realize it’s a yummy fruit snack! Sprinkle with chocolate chips for a hint of sweetness to balance out the apple.
Read the recipe

Recipes from and

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Star Wars Celebration at Florida Hospital For Children


The Force was strong at Florida Hospital for Children on December 15, where staff and volunteers “trained” the next generation of Jedi with fun, games, and of course costumes.

Disney and Lucasfilm sponsored the afternoon of excitement: the hospital’s young patients got to do Star Wars activities, take photos with characters, and take part in special “Jedi training.” It was all ahead of the newest Star Wars Movie, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Costumed volunteers went room to room for private patient visits, so no child was left out of the fun.


“I think this is the first time he’s smiled since he got here,” said Nadia Datoo of her son, a patient in the hospital. “It’s absolutely wonderful to see how they’re interacting with all the kids, all the activities that they have. I think it’s really great.”

Members of the 501st Legion— a collection of Star Wars fans who dress as Stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters to promote interest in the movie series— also made a special visit for the afternoon.

“Disney is a longstanding supporter and partner of our organization, and we are honored that they, along with Lucasfilm, selected for Florida Hospital for Children for this very special day,” said Marla Silliman, the hospital’s senior executive officer. “Having their very own Jedi training and unique Star Wars activities will provide these children and their families with wonderful memories.”


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Orlando Science Center Afterschool

Duke STEM Field Day at the Orlando Science Center, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Limited space available – Program begins January 17, 2017.

Orlando Science Center Afterschool is an immersive program that gives students in grades K-5 an opportunity to develop their skills with hands-on STEM activities.

This program runs Monday – Friday.

About Orlando Science Center Afterschool

The program will provide an interdisciplinary approach to various STEM topics in an afterschool environment that fosters skill development over time while encouraging existing interests and passions. Through engagement in project-based activities, students will be provided with opportunities for self-direction and access to various disciplines such as arts, social studies, and more.



Orlando Science Center will offer transportation from Princeton Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Audubon Park Elementary, and Fern Creek Elementary. Orlando Science Center will require a minimum of 15 registrations from each school before transportation can be guaranteed. Additionally, families may provide their own transportation for students to Orlando Science Center.


$90 per week for General Public
$80 per week for Members
$50 One Time Registration Fee

O'Neill Headstart at Orange Center Elementary, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Orlando Science Center is offering scholarships to qualifying students; scholarships are available on a limited basis, so apply now for consideration.

Snacks, outdoor recess time, and homework assistance are also included with this program. In addition to the group activities, kids will get the opportunity to do self-directed, project-based activities and explore everything the Science Center has to offer each day.

Learn more at the Open House Saturday, December 10!

See OSC’s classrooms, preview Afterschool activities, and meet some of the teachers!
Saturday, December 10 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Visit the Orlando Science Center Afterschool webpage for more information on registration and scholarships.

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Registration Open at R School Orlando

R School, a new Florida nonprofit independent school, is now accepting applications for the spring term. The first of its kind in Central Florida, R School is an accessible educational alternative to public, private, and home school.


Enrollment options for grades K-8:
  • Full-time, campus-based independent school
  • Part-time, campus-based homeschool or private school enrollment
  • Private school umbrella enrollment

The R School flexible enrollment plan allows families to choose the option that best fits their needs.

About R School

“In contrast to learning environments that emphasize high-stakes standardized testing and adherence to fixed curriculum, R School offers a child-centered approach to education that allows students and families to be active participants in the learning experience,” said R School Founder and President Meribeth Huebner, an Associate Dean at Rollins College. “Students learn in small, multi-age classes guided by education professionals and content specialists.”

In addition to traditional academic curriculum, students participate in a rotating number of electives such as gardening, yoga, and creativity/design thinking. Frequent field trips to nearby farms, nature preserves and other venues enhance R School’s non-traditional educational experience.


New Central Florida Locations

R School launched two Florida locations last August for the 2016 to 2017 school year. R School’s East Orlando location is located at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. The second campus serving K-5 students is located in Lakeland under the directorship of Dr. Wendy Bradshaw.

“R School is an independent-minded, community-spirited solution for parents who seek to provide the highest quality education for their children in a progressive, pioneering environment,” added Darren McDaniel, Vice-President and Creative Director for R School and founding director of Urban ReThink, a community hub for stimulating collaborative endeavors, economic growth, lifelong learning, and community evolution.

For more information, visit, contact, or call 407-385-0234.

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Light Up UCF Giveaway!

Ho ho ho! PLAYGROUND is playing Santa with a big giveaway!

Be merry at Light Up UCF with a family 5 pack of ice skating vouchers! Each one is good for one person’s admission to the ice skating rink in front of the CFE Arena. While you’re at the festival, your family may also want to try out the Ferris wheel and kiddie train! Light Up UCF is going on every day until January 7.

Be one of the six lucky winners! Enter your email below for a chance to win. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. on December 8.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Welcome Dr. Lauren

Mid-Florida Family Medicine in Apopka is adding a new doctor to its growing practice!

Lauren Pedersen-Buck, MD

Lauren Pedersen-Buck, MD

Lauren Pedersen-Buck, MD is a board-certified family medicine physician. She joins the Apopka practice from Madison, Tennessee, where she was serving as a neighborhood health services physician supervising multiple nurse practitioners and providing outpatient medicine including prenatal care. Her specialties include preventive health screenings; school, sports and employment physicals; immunizations; acute illness diagnosis and treatment; chronic disease management; and minor injury care.

A graduate of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, Dr. Pedersen-Buck completed her residency training as part of the Florida Hospital Family Residency Program. She is an active community volunteer who has often donated her medical services to charitable causes such as the Florida Hospital After-Hours Clinic that services the uninsured, Project HOPE (a mentoring program for teen parents) and the Inner-City Youth Program of the Del Rosa Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Bernardino, California. She is conversant in medical Spanish.

Leyberth Rosendo, MD, founding member of the Apopka practice, says, “I am so pleased to have Dr. Pedersen-Buck join our practice. She is a welcome addition to our medical team who works hard to create beneficial health partnerships with her patients, and her clinical and communication skills will help us further build on the trust that the Apopka community places in us for its primary medical needs.”

To learn more about FHMG or book an appointment with Drs. Rosendo or Pedersen-Buck, call 407.889.8008 or visit

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8 Tips for Holiday Sanity

By Kerrie McLoughlin

Remember when you didn’t have to worry about being in three or four places at once during the holidays? The dilemma of where to go seemed to be so easily worked out by our parents and extended family. Now that we are grown-ups, by the time the new year rolls around most of us seem to end up totally frazzled from celebrating the holidays several times with many sets of relatives.

Adding your own kids to the mix can make situations even more crazy, leaving them – and you – feeling like the rope in a game of Human Tug-of-War. Below are some fixes that can hopefully help you and your family enjoy more holiday cheer this year.

  1. Combine family events. Instead of running to your parents’ house and then to see each of your siblings separately, consider having just one shin-dig at one location when most everyone can attend. To make life even easier, forego the sit-down dinner and choose to go the potluck route. Some people choose to throw a small party at their house every year on the second Friday in December, for example, and have things for the kids to do, like building a gingerbread house or painting ornaments.
  2. Consider an Open House. Choose a location (like your uncle’s house), a date, and a convenient time frame when family members can come and go as they please without the pressure of being on time for a meal. Serve finger foods and other easy fare to make it easy on the hostess.
  3. Attend the far-away celebrations only every other year or when you can afford it. Sometimes people marry someone from another state or move out of town due to a job change or other circumstance. This can leave many families feeling pulled in too many directions when the holidays roll around. It can be difficult to decide how to come together, so work out the details in advance.
  4. Negotiate annually. All families are different so it can be practically impossible to please everybody every year. One year your cousin may need to leave early to spend the rest of the day with her husband’s family. Another year it may just work out best to hold the event on a completely different day of the month. Which brings me to …
  5. Help your extended family realize that, for example, Christmas can be even nicer when spent on a day other than December 25th. You could get together with your grandparents a couple of weeks before or after Christmas Day for a much more relaxed mood. You would get to take your time opening gifts while enjoying each other’s company. What a time to treasure and look forward to every year!
  6. Do drop in. Elaine St. James, author of Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays, only visits her sister and her family to raise a toast but not to eat. She takes no food for the meal, no gifts, and says to her family, “We’re bringing ourselves and our best wishes for the season.”
  7. Just stay home. Some make the choice to celebrate Christmas Day at their own home every year. The decision may not popular, and you might have to defend it every year, but it could be the most relaxing and fun day of your entire year. Just imagine yourself hanging out in comfy sweatpants all day long while you play with your kids and their new toys, games and other gifts.
  8. If tensions get high between family members, think of others who may not have any family, or even a home. Consider serving food at a homeless shelter sometime around the holiday or being a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army for a couple of hours. Elaine St. James has another great idea: Make a paper bag lunch with a sandwich, cookies, fruit and juice drink and pass it out to the homeless in your area. These are great opportunities to take your kids along and teach them the true meaning of the holidays.

To ensure no feelings are hurt, make sure your family knows they are always welcome to spend holidays at your home (with some notice, of course!) With a little understanding and communication, everyone in your family can have a peaceful holiday season.

Kerrie McLoughlin is just a regular mom who writes about parenting 5 kids at

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Your Elfin’ PLAYguide

Don’t Panic, here are 24 easy things to do with your Elf on the Shelf.

Last-Minute Ideas

For those days where you want to put zero brainpower into this elf thing.

1. All Buckled Up
The elf is buckled up in the car or carseat, all ready for a ride!

2. Flying High
Elves don’t have wings, but they make do! The elf flies on the ceiling fan.

3. Nativity Scene
In the spirit of Christmas, the elf joins the nativity scene.

4. Hiding with the Silverware
The elf makes like a spoon and hides in the silverware drawer.

5. Bling Bling
The elf has an eye for expensive things: he decks himself out in mom’s jewelry!

6. Bookworm Elf
The elf goes through your child’s bookshelf and reads one of their books.

7. Rummage Elf
Elves are nosy! He sticks his head into boxes that just arrived.

8. Camping Out
With so many comfy gift bags around, the elf uses one as a sleeping bag.

9. Chillin’ in the Fridge
The elf is all cozied up with the milk and OJ in the fridge!

10. Peeking Out
Look Up! The elf is poking out from behind a kitchen cupboard, perhaps holding a Christmas treat!

11. Truck Bed
The elf sleeps where he pleases: he tucks himself in on the truck bed!

12. All Tied Up
The elf gets all tangled up in gift twine, yarn, or even a phone charger.

Creative but Easy

These scenes are easy to set up, and only use materials from around the house.

13. Movie Night
Keep the TV on so that the elf can cozy up with the remote and a movie snack!

14. Shoe Train
Choo Choo! The elf makes a train out of your family’s shoes.

15. Candy Craze
Guard your candy, because the elf broke into a pack last night and ate a bunch!

16. Snow Angel
In a fit of winter excitement, the elf made snow angels in a pile of flour! (If you have them, you could use sprinkles instead!)

17. Christmas Photo
The elf gathered up some other toys for a festive photo- he even stole the camera!

18. Elf Gets Artsy
The elf grabs your kid’s crayons and does a little coloring!

19. Toothpaste Message
The elf writes a message in the sink with toothpaste.

20. Midnight Snack
The elf raids your fridge for ice cream, or another midnight snack.

21. Elf on Stilts
That’s one tall elf! He uses your wrapping paper for stilts.

22. Cereal Message
The elf spells out a special message in cereal.

23. Those Aren’t Cookies!
Great for families with pets: the elf takes a bite out of a dog treat.

24. Cha-Ching Love
The elf leaves a heart (or other fun shape) in coins.
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Go PLAY for the Holidays

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

Don’t wait until Santa lands on your rooftop to celebrate the season.
Words by Anna Karasik

Theme Parks & Resorts

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
    Select dates November 7 to December 22, 7 p.m. to Midnight
    Disney’s Magic Kingdom

    Join Mickey and friends in a holiday celebration as the Magic Kingdom transforms into a winter wonderland. Our favorite parts are the faux snow on Main Street and oh-so-jolly holiday parade. Special event tickets start at $86.
  • Christmas at Gaylord Palms
    November 18, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

    This resort’s iconic atrium becomes an oasis of holiday fun, featuring an all-new light show, a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree and tons of exciting activities, including ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas – a beautiful display of hand-carved ice portraying the Peanuts gang, including Snoopy, of course! Alpine Rush Snow Tubing lets you zoom down a chilly hill covered in real snow!
  • Holidays Around the World & Celebrity Candlelight Processional
    November 25 to December 30
    Disney’s EPCOT

    Experience holiday traditions from around the world as you stroll through the World Showcase experiencing how different cultures celebrate the holidays.
  • Santa’s Favorite Resort
    Select dates November 25 to December 25
    Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

    Join Santa and Mrs. Claus at their favorite vacation spot. The merry couple leads the evening tree-lighting ceremony and meet-and-greets at their Tiki hut. Other activities include cookie decorating, crafts and Santa’s Dancing Lights Spectacular.
  • LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular

    LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular

  • SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
    Select dates November 25 to December 31
    SeaWorld Orlando

    Enjoy a wet winter wonderland of sparkling lights, live holiday performances and festive food. New this year—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends are making spirits bright with their SeaWorld debut!
  • LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular
    Select dates December 17 to December 30
    LEGOLAND Florida Resort

    Build your best holiday the LEGO way. Meet LEGO Santa and other exclusive characters, make holiday projects with Master Model Builders and watch a nightly fireworks spectacular. It’s all included with park admission.

  • Grinchmas
    December 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Universal’s Islands of Adventure

    Celebrate the snarky way with the Grinch! Seuss Landing will become home to the ever-festive Whos of Whoville, who love to spread holiday cheer. For an intimate experience, grab a table at a Grinch character breakfast ($21 for kids, $35 for adults.) The rest of the festivities are included with park admission!

Christmas Culture

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) Presented by Orlando Shakes

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

  • Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
    Select dates November 30 to December 30
    Orlando Shakespeare Theater

    At first you think you’re watching a classic production of A Christmas Carol, but this comedic show soon dissolves into everything from the story of Frosty the Snowman to the adventures of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts! Tickets start at $25.
  • Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf
    November 7 to December 18, Saturdays & Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
    Orlando Repertory Theatre

    Watch talented young performers play out this new jazz musical. It tells the story Eubie, the happiest elf of all, who tries to restore joy to the town of Bluesville! Tickets start at $14 for kids and $20 for adults.
  • Once Upon a Time on Ice
    December 3 and 4 at 5 p.m.
    RDV Sportsplex

    Enjoy a beautiful ice show featuring RDV figure skaters and those in the Learn to Skate programs. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Tickets cost $9.

    Orlando Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

    Orlando Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

  • Orlando Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
    December 8 to 11; Family Performance December 10 at 11 a.m.
    Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

    Watch the amazing dancers at Orlando Ballet bring to life the classic Christmas tale of Clara and her nutcracker soldier. If you have young kids who can’t sit through a whole ballet, check out the shortened family performance on December 10. Tickets start at $25 for the family show, $29 for all other shows.
  • “Holidaze” Presented by Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Colorguard
    Saturday, December 17 at 7 p.m.
    Orlando Repertory Theatre

    Orlando’s own LGBT+ concert and marching band presents a fun holiday concert for the whole family! Holidaze is hosted at Orlando Repertory Theater, and features uplifting holiday music from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. Kids under 12 get in for free!
  • Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Family Concert
    Sunday, December 18 from Noon to 3 p.m.
    Central Park in Winter Park

    Mr. Richard and the Pound Hounds will kick things off; then, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will play holiday favorites. It’s all topped off with a performance of Peter and the Wolf featuring Orlando Repertory Theatre actor and narrator Timothy Pappas.
  • Amahl & the Night Visitors
    Sunday, December 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
    Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

    Bring the whole family out to enjoy this funny and inspiring twist on nativity story, presented by Opera Orlando. Follow the adventures of a shepherd boy who sees an amazing star, and meets three kings who are looking for a wondrous child. Tickets start at $19.

Holiday Films

  • The Santa Clause
    Friday, December 2 at 7 p.m.
    Central Park in Winter Park

    This is part of the free monthly Popcorn Flicks in the Park series.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas & Letters to Santa
    Sunday, December 11 at Noon
    Enzian Theater

    Watch the live-action version of Dr. Seuss’s quirky Christmas tale. Enjoy a menu of holiday treats. Children can write a wish list for Santa during the movie. After it’s over, Santa will pick up the letters and pose for pictures. Tickets are $11 for non-members.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
    Saturday, December 10 at Noon
    Enzian Theater

    This is part of the Saturday Matinee Classics series. Tickets are $8 for non-members.
  • A Christmas Story
    Tuesday, December 13 at 9:30 p.m.
    Enzian Theater

    This is part of the Cult Classics series. Tickets are $8 for non-members.

Parties, Parades, and Snow

lightup-logo-e1477684802771Light Up UCF
November 18, 2016 to January 7, 2017
CFE Arena – University of Central Florida

UCF’s huge holiday bash is perhaps best known for its ice tubing. Try it as many times as you want; it’s all included with the purchase of a wristband. Try out the ice rink, too! The ferris wheel is back and bigger than ever, and there is a new thrilling ride that will leave you reeling! For smaller ride-goers, there’s always the kiddie train. Snap a picture with Santa before you leave!

  • Winter in the Park
    November 18, 2016 to January 8, 2017
    Central Park in Winter Park

    Skate away the holiday in beautiful Central Park. All-day general admission and a pair of rental skates is $12.
  • “Now Snowing” At Celebration
    November 26 to December 31 – Snowfall at 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m.
    Celebration Town Center

    Nightly snowfall graces the Celebration Town Center every night of the holiday season. Skate around in an ice rink, take a ride in a horse drawn carriage or ride the Celebration Express train.
  • Holiday on the Drive
    December 1 from 5 to 9 p.m.
    Edgewater Drive, College Park

    Get a jump on your holiday shopping in a snowy winter wonderland! The shops and restaurants on Edgewater Drive will stay open, and Santa will come to bring some early holiday cheer!
  • Light Up Winter Garden
  • December 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.
    Downtown Winter Garden

    Twinkling lights will keep Plant Street aglow while you explore the vendors and kids activities. Watch the dazzling street lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m.

  • Winter Garden Christmas Parade
    Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m.
    South Dillard Street & Plant Street

    Find a prime spot on the curb to catch this festive procession of local organizations.
  • Macy’s Holiday Parade
    Select nights December 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Universal Studios

    The larger-than-life balloons from this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade get the spotlight once again at Universal Studios here in Florida. In addition to the balloons, parade-goers will see marching bands, clowns, and Santa Claus himself! Stick around afterwards for a spectacular tree-lighting ceremony.
    Saturday, December 17 from 2 to 6 p.m.
    RDV Sportsplex

    If you thought the Ice Den was as chilly as it could be, think again: for one day only, real snow will fall at the RDV! Throw a few snowballs, ride down a snow slide, or do some good old fashion ice skating! Just outside, you’ll find bounce houses, live DJs, face painting and more. Admission is $15 for ages 3 & up.
  • Meet Santa

    Free photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird

    Free photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird

    • Save the Date, Skip the Wait for Santa
      November 11-December 24, by appointment
      Oviedo Mall

      No need to wait in a long line to meet Santa because now you can make a reservation for your Santa visit at the Oviedo Mall. Bonus: Drop off the kids at Mad Science Laboratory (Kids Night Out, every Friday from 6-10 p.m.) or O2B Kids (members only) to get some holiday shopping done!
    • Free Photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird
      December 10 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
      tugboat & the bird

      Stop by tugboat & the bird win Winter Park for complimentary pictures with Santa Claus himself! Characters from The Nutcracker will also be around to take photos.
    • Breakfast (or Brunch) with Santa
      Saturday, December 10 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
      Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

      Sit down for a meal with Santa himself, and then explore a wild winter wonderland with holiday activities and close-up animal encounters. Zookeepers will also be giving the animals special holiday gifts! Admission for non-members is $22 for ages 3 & up, $27 for adults. Reservations are required.

    Stay up-to-date on all of the latest family events in & around Orlando with our Online Calendar!

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    Orlando Science Center Thanksgiving Week Ticket Giveaway!

    Got the whole gang home for Thanksgiving week? Get out of the house and over to Orlando Science Center! It’s open all week long barring Thursday. New KidsTown recently opened its doors to the public, and if you haven’t gone to see it yet, this could be your chance!

    You can win a family five-pack of tickets to Orlando Science Center by entering your email address below. Enter by Tuesday at midnight! Winners will be notified via email.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Letters FROM Santa

    “Is Santa Claus real?”

    The answer is Yes, thanks to USPS! Have your child write their wish list to Santa, and they can get his personalized response back in the mailbox, postmarked and all. Drafting up the letter to Santa is a great Thanksgiving activity that the whole family can take part in; getting Santa’s response will be even more rewarding for your child!

    Here’s how you can do it:

    1. Have your child write a letter to Santa and place it in an envelope addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole.
    2. Later, when alone, open the envelope and write a personalized response.
    3. Insert the response letter into an envelope and address it to your child.
    4. Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.
    5. Affix a First-Class Mail stamp to the envelope.

    6. Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope — preferably a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope — with appropriate postage and address it to:

      North Pole Postmark
      4141 Postmark Drive
      Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

      “Letters from Santa” must be received by the Anchorage, AK, postmaster no later than Dec. 15.

      After you’ve mailed out the envelope– Santa’s helpers at the Postal Service will take care of the rest!

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    5 Healthy Holiday Snack Ideas

    Sometimes it’s hard to fill your kids up with the fruits and veggies they need. It’s a lot easier when they don’t even know they’re eating something that’s good for them! Try out these healthy and insanely easy-to-make snack recipes from Produce for Kids:

    Fruit Cornucopias

    Fruit Cornucopias

    1. Fruit Cornucopias

      The Cornucopia is a symbol of plenty during the holiday season; so let’s fill this one up with plenty of sweet fruits, like mandarin oranges! The best part– this recipe is so easy, even younger kids can help you prepare (and eat) them!

      Read the Full Recipe Here.

    2. Thanksgiving Turkey Fruit Tray

      Thanksgiving Turkey Fruit Tray

    3. Thanksgiving Turkey Fruit Tray

      Spice up your typical ol’ fruit platter by giving it a fun Thanksgiving spin! This recipe is simple enough for kids to help you assemble. At the very end, you’ll have a colorful turkey tray with everything from kiwi to apples to carrots. Great for parties!

      Read the Full Recipe Here.

    4. Holiday Avocado Toast

      Holiday Avocado Toast

    5. Holiday Avocado Toast

      A great day starts with a great breakfast! With 7g of fiber, this holiday-themed avocado toast will keep your family fuller longer. You can surprise your kids with a fun and festive design, or let them create their own yummy toast-art using pomegranate arils.

      Read the Full Recipe Here.

    6. Snowman Fruit Kebobs

      Snowman Fruit Kebobs

    7. Snowman Fruit Kebobs

      These snowman kebobs are a great on-the-go way to fill up on fruit. (The problem is, they’re so cute that you won’t want to eat them!) All you need are skewers– and maybe a little assistant to help decorate each snowman! The snow underneath makes for even more good food to nibble on.

      Read the Full Recipe Here.

    8. Christmas Tree Veggie Platter

      Christmas Tree Veggie Platter

    9. Christmas Tree Veggie Platter

      Who would have thought a vegetable platter could become a party decoration? Wow your guests with this broccoli Christmas tree, decked out in bright cherry tomato ornaments. Bonus: the trunk is edible, too!

      Read the Full Recipe Here.

    About Produce for Kids
    Produce for Kids® believes in creating a healthier generation through cause marketing campaigns that provide easy, fun and inspiring recipes. Produce for Kids has been helping families and children by giving back since 2002. Through produce and grocery retail partner programs, Produce for Kids has donated more than $6 million charities that benefit children and families nationwide.

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    Registration Open for Spring Classes at DPC School of the Arts


    Registration is now open for 2017 Spring Semester classes at the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. Classes begin Monday, January 16.

    Students of any age can take part in classes for dance, vocals, instruments, acting, and musical theater. Check out all of the available classes below:

    Dance & Movement

    Jazz I (Ages 8-12, 13+)
    “Fun” and “high energy” characterize the Jazz I dance class. Students practice isolations, leaps, learn jazz techniques and vocabulary. Students gain the competencies to complete jazz-centric dance combinations and execute complete jazz dance routines.

    Jazz II (Ages 13+)
    The Jazz II dance course builds on fundamentals of the style. Students focus on honing their technique and learning new and more challenging combinations.

    Dance Technique I (Ages 6-8)
    Dance Technique brings the foundation of all movement to young dancers. Ballet positions and terminology, along with movement, pattern and rhythms, establish the foundations for all dance instruction.

    Dance Technique II (Ages 9-12)
    Dancers build on the basic teachings from Dance Technique I and learn to expand their structured dance training and vocabulary.

    Dance Improvisation (Ages 12+)
    This free-thinking and free-flowing dance class encourages students to explore their creativity and individuality through prompts, movement exercises and guided movement. The class focuses on the concept of improvisational dance in solo and group situations. Movers of all levels are welcome in this class as students work collectively to create new and exciting works.

    Tap I (Ages 12+)
    Tapping is an exciting way to start dance training. This introductory course shapes the students’ rhythm and musicality through learning the steps and basic techniques of tap dancing.

    Tap II (Ages 13+)
    Tap is an important part of the Broadway and musical theater craft. This intermediate tap course builds on students’ prior knowledge of technique and movements by adding more advanced steps and combinations.

    Hip-Hop I (Ages 6-9, 10-13, 14+)
    This high energy, fun Hip-Hop class teaches basic steps, while building flexibility, precision, technique and style. Using upbeat music from various genres in addition to the latest Hip-Hop hits, this class begins with a basic warm-up to stretch and tone the body, followed by across-the-floor progressions, concluding with work on a fun and energetic combination.

    Creative Movement (Ages 3-5)
    Perfect for the young dancer, this class focuses on creative movement that builds on the necessary gross motor skills needed for primary dance instruction. Students learn self-discipline, confidence, coordination and rhythm while moving to upbeat and age appropriate music. Students engage in dramatic music movement and learn introductory dance positions and steps.

    Move with Me – Baby Wearing Dance Class (Adults with Babies)
    This is a movement class for adults with young ones in wearable carriers. Move with Me provides early exposure to music, movement and dance. Geared towards creating an environment for community interaction, this class devotes equal focus to the parent/caretaker, the child and the bond between them. Appropriate for all carrier-age children, from birth to toddler. Nursing mothers and siblings are welcome.


    Vocal Performance I (Ages 8-13 and 14+)
    Vocal Performance provides singers with a proper foundation in diction, vocal production and an awareness of their body in both classical and contemporary music. Students also learn how to honestly express themselves through their song, communicate with the musicians, enhance their stage presence and effectively apply their vocal and performance techniques.

    Advanced Vocal Performance (Ages 8-13 and 14+)
    For the advanced singer, this class focuses on performance and vocal production for performance. Maintaining one’s instrument and creating that pitch-perfect performance every time requires more rigorous training, and this class provides that for the advanced vocalist.

    Yamaha Music School

    Yamaha Music School Young Musicians I & II (Ages 7-9)
    This three-year course provides effective and enjoyable musical training for young students. They develop keyboard-playing skills, ear training, rhythm training, note-reading and writing, keyboard harmony, arranging, ensemble playing and music appreciation. This class is taught by qualified teachers in a group environment and is designed to promote confidence, team spirit and group dynamics.
    To enroll, students must be 6 years of age by February 15 and must have access to a keyboard for practicing. Once the course is completed, students can take the Yamaha Student Grade 9 Exam to confirm musical achievement. Teachers refer to the exam results to correctly place students in advanced courses of study.

    Yamaha Keyboard Encounters I (Ages 10-13) and Adult I (Ages 15+)
    This class is an innovative keyboard music program for those interested in learning to play the piano. These classes are taught in small groups, combining technology with an effective and enjoyable approach. Students study piano technique, read music and learn to play various musical styles.

    Yamaha Young Education System Junior Music I (Ages 4-5)
    A comprehensive and fun music curriculum designed for 4 and 5 year olds, this class offers ear-training using solfege, basic keyboard playing skills, rhythm and notation, music appreciation, creativity and singing various musical styles. This is a 2-year program capitalizing on the young child’s developmental characteristics to train basic musical skills. Parents/Guardians are required to actively participate in their child’s music lessons, helping to cultivate a life-long love for music. (Advance level courses, II – IV, as well as Junior Music X, are available for students in the junior music program).
    To enroll, students must be 4 years of age by February 15 and must have access to a keyboard for practicing. Once the course is completed, students can take the Fundamental Skills Survey to confirm musical achievement. Teachers refer to the survey results to correctly place students in advanced courses of study.

    Rock Band (Ages 12+)
    Students gain insight into performing together as an ensemble. Students are grouped into a band based on instrument, musical tastes and age. Band members learn the process of rehearsing and performing, band etiquette, stage presence, equipment set-up and more.

    Guitar I (Ages 10-13) and Adult Guitar I (Ages 16+)
    This class is for the beginner. Learn chords, simple strums, simple finger-picking and tuning in a fun, relaxed group setting. Students are introduced to the basic elements of rhythm and harmony that allow one to make music in no time.

    Adult Guitar II (Ages 16+)
    Builds on the basics learned in Guitar I. Students develop proper left and right-hand techniques. You will learn more about reading music, musical terms, chording, alternating bass and how to move smoothly from one chord to another. Have fun learning to play duets and other simple melodies and exploring many different genres of music. Students must bring their own acoustic guitar with an extra set of strings.

    Strings I (Ages 10+)
    This class is open to anyone with an interest in learning string instruments such as cello, viola, violin and bass. Learn basic instrument set-up and position. Playing in a small group teaches how to match pitch, bow articulation, tone and, best of all, how to play together.

    Strings III (Ages 13+)
    This class is the next step for those interested in the string section. Students play simple songs that use their new skills and are introduced to the music of the great composers. They play games to develop rhythmic skills and a musical ear and also learn the basics of reading music.

    Jazz at Lincoln Center’s WeBop (Ages 2-3)
    WeBop is an early-childhood jazz education program developed by Jazz at Lincoln Center for children that invites families to stomp, strut and swing to the rhythms of jazz. These 45-minute classes are structured for participation in groups of two: child and adult. They offer a creative outlet for children to explore jazz through movement, songs, storytelling and play, all as they learn about the core concepts, instruments and great performers of jazz.

    Theater Arts

    Creative Drama (Ages 6-8)
    In a nurturing and supportive environment, young participants explore an improvisational form of drama where they are encouraged to imagine, perform and reflect on real or imagined experiences. Through stories, games and movement, young students make the connection between the magical world of theater and make believe. There is an emphasis on personal expression, creative imagination, confidence and socialization.

    Creative Drama II (Ages 8-10)
    This class is a continuation of Creative Drama I. Students build on the confidence they have developed. Storytelling, imagination and ensemble work strengthens young actors’ skills, building a foundation for the more complex work of scene study waiting for them in Acting I/II/III.

    Acting I (Ages 10-13 and 14+)
    Through improvisation, script analysis and scene study, entry-level students are introduced to the fundamentals of acting and performance. Special emphasis is placed on interpretation, character development and ensemble work.

    Acting II/III (Ages 10-13 and 14+)
    The intermediate/advanced scene study class allows students to build on the tools they gained in Acting I. Students are introduced to higher level character analyses, stretching their abilities as they attack more difficult acting problems through situations that are foreign and unfamiliar. Recognizing and understanding the subtext of a scene is explored as students examine the texture, tone and timing found in plays of contemporary and classic writers to bring subtle nuances to their performances. Students also gain an intermediate skill set of production responsibilities that an actor should possess to contribute to a piece of successful theater.

    Sensory Friendly Theater (Ages 12+)
    Theater training includes the skills of speaking, interacting, applying memorized text appropriately, listening, non-verbal communication and interpreting. For those on the autism spectrum, these skills can be challenging. In this fun and safe environment, students will learn to interact with others and project in their performance. Students with an affinity for drama will grow through the chance to practice with their peers. Students new to drama will experience a fun and engaging craft that will enhance their social skills.

    Musical Theater

    Musical Theater Performance I (Ages 7-10, 10-13 and 13+)
    Students integrate singing, dancing and acting into one creative expression through Broadway songs, scene work and choreography. This collaborative learning experience introduces basic acting principles, vocal techniques and fun beginning choreography. The emphasis for this class is on building a confident proficiency to execute all three art forms that make up a modern musical.

    Advanced Musical Theater Performance (Ages 10-13 and 13+)
    This class builds on the techniques and skills developed in Musical Theater Performance I, while introducing more challenging material. Students work on advanced musical theater training techniques, an expanded repertoire and the business acumen required for the musical theater profession.

    Prospective students can visit, call 407.455.5551, or schedule a time to register in person at the arts center by emailing
    Early registration is encouraged by January 2, 2017.

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    The Prego Expo Ticket Giveaway!


    PLAYGROUND Magazine is giving away 1 Mommy & Guest ticket to The Prego Expo Registry Event & Brunch at the Babies”R”Us in Altamonte Springs on Sunday, November 13.

    This event is an opportunity for mommy-to-be to build her registry in style! Get a swag bag, enjoy a complimentary brunch, explore shopping & giveaways, and learn more about what it means to be a mom!

    This event is for pregnant women and their guests only!

    Enter to win admission for 1 soon-to-be mom and 1 guest using the widget below!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Fall Fashion Look Book


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    dsc_9961-1   dsc_0689-1

    dsc_1081-1   dsc_0454



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    Science of Parenthood : The Book for Parents who Love to Laugh

    dr-oz-header-3Author Norine Dworkin-McDaniel has parenting down to a science– a funny science. From her own experience and that of others comes Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, a book that highlights the moments that just about any parent can relate to. Dworkin-McDaniel spoke to PLAYGROUND Magazine about the book ahead of her live reading at Orlando Science Center on November 7th (more info on that below!) Here is what she had to say about her work:

    PLAYGROUND: What sparked the idea for Science of Parenthood?
    Dworkin-McDaniel: That was actually my son Fletcher. He’s 10 now and in middle school, but when he was in second grade, he came home from school talking about one of Newton’s laws of force and motion. As he explained over dinner that An object at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an external force, that instantly made me think about him with his video games. He’d sit on the couch and play Minecraft all day if I let him. I quickly jotted down, Newton’s First Law of Parenting: A child at rest will remain at rest until you want your iPad back. A little while later I posted that on Facebook. It got a good laugh from my friends, so I started posting other parenting “observations,” giving them a math or science twist, like Sleep Geometry Theorem: A child will always sleep perpendicular to any adult sleeping next to them.

    Newton's Law

    Friends were telling me that they really liked the posts. But I knew that these “observations” would be even more fun if they were illustrated. At the same time, I was dialing back my magazine writing and looking for something else to do. I called my friend Jessica Ziegler in Denver and asked if she wanted to illustrate a book of these science-y observations. Now when Jessica tells this story, she says she spent much of that phone call trying to figure out how to say No way because it sounded like a lot of free work and no actual money. But as we talked, she says, she could see the cartoons in her head. And by the end of the call, not only was she was all in, but she’d secured our URL, our Facebook page and Twitter account. In fact, it was Jessica’s idea to start a blog and Facebook page first, and then come out with a book. Which is exactly what we did. We developed our material and built an audience for our humor on our blog and Facebook page. And four years later, here we are. And we’ve been blown away by the response. We love it when people see one of our cartoons or read one of our satires, and say, “Are you in my house? Because that just happened to me!”

    P: Who is this book written for?
    D: Parents: Expecting parents. New parents. Veteran parents. Step-parents. Single parents. Grandparents. Our humor really resonates with parents of every stripe. If you’ve ever changed a sodden diaper or despaired of ever sleeping, showering or digging your living room out from layers of plastic toys again, you’ll find a lot to laugh about in our book. It’s also great for teens. Research shows our book is 99% effective as a contraceptive.

    P: This is not your average parenting manual. How is Science of Parenthood unique?
    D: We didn’t actually set out to write a parenting how-to manual. We set out to write a book that would make parents laugh, but in the process we created what several reviewers described as one of the most honest parenting guides out there.

    Our humor lives in the pretty sizable gap between what our expectations about parenting are (think about those lovely Pampers commercials) … and the brutal, smack-you-in-the-face reality that parenting actually is. But what makes our book, our humor, unique is our spin — we use math and science concepts to “explain” the ridiculous situations otherwise capable adults find themselves in as a result of having kids. And, like our blog, our book is heavily illustrated. Interspersed with the writing are our trademark cartoons along with flowcharts, pie charts, Venn diagrams, crazy-looking algebraic equations that calculate things like when you’ll get your grownup social life back and bar graphs. My favorite graph is the Beverage-To-TV Index that illustrates how much booze it takes to get through various preschool TV shows and movies. For instance, you can get through anything by Pixar with a glass of water. But by the time you’re watching Caillou, you’re pounding tequila shots.

    P: How is the book laid out?
    D: We had so much fun with this. The book is laid out like a snarky textbook of sorts. We have four sections, representing the core sciences — biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics — and within each section we cover the parenting topics that appropriate for that particular science. So, in our Biology section, for instance, we’ve got satirical pieces on the “evolution” of Mom’s Sex Drive and the “classification” of different types of moms while in our Physics section, we’ve got humor on explosive toddler tantrums and our Math section is filled with humor about all the money parents spend on kids. One of the nice things about the book — and this was absolutely intentional — is that it’s filled with quick reads, quick hits of humor, that you can pick up and put down and not have to worry about reading in order. We know moms and dads don’t have a lot of time for themselves. Everything can be read in the time it takes to quickly pee, before the kids come banging on the bathroom door.

    P: What do you want readers to take away from Science of Parenthood?
    D: Look, we love our kids, we love being moms. Parenting can be wondrous and exciting and delightful and awe-inspiring. But it also comes with graduate level frustration and hefty doses of public humiliation. One of my son’s favorite stories about when he was a baby happened when he was about 9 months old, and I was trying to make like I had it all together as a new mom while we were in California for a cousin’s wedding. We’d gone down to the pool at the hotel, and I had him in a swim diaper to take him in the pool. That’s when I discovered that swim diapers are not absorbent — at all. I went to lift him out of the stroller and he was sitting in a puddle of pee. Then when I went to change his diaper, he peed all over me, spraying like a firehose. I was waving my arms, trying to block the spray. All around me, my cousins are dying, they think this is so funny. At the time, I did not. But now, it’s a hilarious story, one that my son loves to hear and I love to tell.

    Toxic Shock

    They say comedy is tragedy plus time. For parents, I’d change that to comedy is humiliation plus time. So why does this matter? Because there’s a lot of anxiety for this generation of parents. Parents are afraid that they’re doing it all wrong, that they’re screwing up their kids and, at least for moms, we hear a lot of anxiety that everyone else has it all figured out while they are failing miserably. And it’s just not so. Some days we all have it figured out. And some days we all are failing miserably. But we’re none of us alone. We’re all going through the same things and we have the same self-doubts and fears and frustrations. When we can share those things, parenting becomes less daunting. Every parent is pretty much in the same boat, and knowing that can help us take some of the stress off ourselves. And being able to find the humor in the frustration makes it a lot easier to get through. We have a cartoon in the book called Toxic Shock Syndrome: A parents psychological state on discovering that her tot has gotten his diaper off and smeared the walls, crib, bedding and himself with poop. That actually happened to me — twice. In one day. In the moment, it was an absolutely disgusting mess. Now, I can riff on my son’s “artistry.” “Look at those bold strokes! We call this his Brown Period,” I say when I’m reading. It always gets the biggest laughs.

    See a live reading of Science of Parenthood!

    • When: November 7th, 6 p.m.
    • Where: Orlando Science Center – Digital Adventure Theater
      777 E. Princeton Street, Orlando
    • What: Live reading of Science of Parenthood with co-author Norine Dworkin-McDaniel.
    • Event is open only to Science Center members. Not a member? Click Here for info.

    About the Author:

    ndm_solo-0292_reducedLongtime freelance writer turned “parenting snarkologist,” Norine Dworkin-McDaniel has written for just about every women’s magazine you can buy at the newsstand. She is co-creator of the blog Science of Parenthood and co-author of Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations (She Writes Press), winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Gold Benjamin Franklin Award for Parenting & Family and Foreword Reviews’ Silver IndieFab Award for Humor. Named one of TODAYParents Funniest Parents of the Year, Norine’s humor is routinely featured on Huffington Post as well as on Upworthy, Bored Panda, POPSUGARMoms and She’s a contributor to several humor anthologies, including Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures In Breastfeeding (Demeter Press). She lives in Winter Garden with her husband and son. Follow her on Science of Parenthood, Facebook and Twitter.

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    Teal Pumpkins: Change How Kids are Trick or Treating

    Written by: Renee Seltzer

    Halloween is almost here, along with tummy aches and sugar rushes.

    Why should everyone who celebrates Halloween participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project? For starters, it’s more inclusive, safe, and healthy for kids. It also teaches an important lesson: that fun is not exclusive to candy and sweets.

    By placing a teal pumpkin outside of your door, you’re telling families that your home will offer non-food related treats for children, which can include bubbles, small toys, erasers, pencils, stickers, plastic jewelry, and so on.

    It's easy to get in on the Teal Pumpkin Project! Just paint a pumpkin teal and put it out with all of your other spooky decor. No carving necessary!

    It’s easy to get in on the Teal Pumpkin Project! Just paint a pumpkin teal and put it out with all of your other spooky decor. No carving necessary!

    Let’s Make It Safe For All Kids to Enjoy Halloween
    Over 8% of all children have some sort of a food allergy, which can be related to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, or food coloring to name a few things. These kids can often feel left out of celebrating Halloween since most of the candy handed out can be unsafe for them to eat and possibly even touch.

    Why the Need for this New Trend?
    With two thirds of all adults in the U.S. now overweight or obese and one-third of all children overweight or obese, why don’t we start changing how we celebrate holidays, including Halloween?

    Food culture in America seemingly glorifies overindulgence in foods that frankly are bad for us.

    If we don’t do something now, 1 in 3 people in the US will have Type-2 Diabetes by 2050, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, 1 in 10 Americans have it now, so it’s a drastic increase. If you think this won’t happen to your child, don’t bet on it. Your child has a 33% chance of getting Type-2 Diabetes by 2050.

    Candy will not make or break your child’s fond memories of childhood.

    If most of us participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project we will make it safer and more fun for kids with food allergies to celebrate Halloween and we can start changing our society’s over emphasis on candy and sweets. By handing out more non-food related treats, our kids will only be healthier for it.

    Will you put out a Teal Pumpkin this year?

    About Renee Seltzer:
    Based in Orlando, Florida, Feeding My Kid (FMK) is an organization focused on helping kids become adventurous foodies, inspiring families to eat better, and helping parents impact their child’s life-long eating habits through tips, videos, recipes, expert advice and a strong online community. Feeding My Kid is there every step of the way, from what to eat when pregnant, to introducing first foods, to transitioning to table foods, to dealing with picky eaters and helping to overcome childhood weight issues and beyond. For more info, visit

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    New KidsTown: A place for Collaboration, Creativity, Safety & Accessibility

    Words by Anna Karasik

    A cheery blue archway welcomes families to the new jewel of Orlando Science Center, New KidsTown. It’s the only entrance and exit to the area: one of many features specifically geared towards the safety of the thousands of kids who will now enjoy it. New KidsTown is the product of a $5 million dollar renovation, the first part of the $30 million dollar Unlock Science Campaign, which is an effort to renovate every exhibit at the Science Center. It’s clear that the new children’s area will prove to be worth every penny: each of the 75 exhibits is a safe environment for kids to express themselves and work with others to learn and play.

    Here’s a tour of what you can expect:

    Kids can feed oranges up into a big tower and watch them roll down the pipelines to different areas.

    Kids can feed oranges up into a big tower and watch them roll down the pipelines to different areas.

    Orange Grove Presented by: Dr. Phillips Charities

    Through the big (literally) orange archway at the front of New KidsTown, there is a chain of exhibits that represents the journey of Florida oranges from farm to table. It all starts at the orchard, where kids can gather oranges from trees; then they can head to the factory and check the ripeness of each orange before processing them in a fun machine. Then comes the role playing: kids can deliver the oranges in an interactive truck, then sell produce at the farmer’s market!

    The Farmer's Market at the Orange Grove allows kids to role play selling fresh produce.

    The Farmer’s Market at the Orange Grove allows kids to role play selling fresh produce.

    Science Center veterans will notice a few changes: this new Orange Grove is three times larger than its predecessor, and there are hints of technology that enhance this new experience. In particular, kids who enjoy playing pretend will love adjusting the radio in the delivery truck and ringing up fruit at the farmer’s market with a working scanner.

    Isaacs Family ClimbTime

    Kids are encouraged to conquer their fears and climb as high as they can in this towering play area. A floor-to-ceiling window makes kids feel even higher up as they look out over the gorgeous Florida Hospital next door; alternatively, they can use a telescope to look out over the Science Center.

    Kids will face obstacles and platforms of all kinds while climbing to the top of ClimbTime.

    Kids will face obstacles and platforms of all kinds while climbing to the top of ClimbTime.

    There are nets to run across, platforms of all sizes, and all number of other ways for kids to test their coordination. Once they’ve worked up a sweat, they can see how their body reacted using the heart rate monitor.

    Bonus: kids who aren’t ready to climb, or perhaps aren’t old enough yet, can still interact by feeding balls into twisting air tubes to let the kids above feed them back down.

    Drip Drop Splash Presented by: James M. Cox Foundation

    From rain showers to dams to pipe systems, the exhibits in this area will teach kids about the many properties of water. Tables of water are filled with all kinds of contraptions and tools to let kids ask themselves– “What will happen to the water if I do this?”– and see what happens! If several kids work together to turn valves, they can start a big Florida rain shower at the center of Drip Drop Splash!

    Tables of different heights allow all kids to interact with Drip Drop Splash.

    Tables of different heights allow all kids to interact with Drip Drop Splash.

    There are lowered water tables for younger children and those in wheelchairs; and there are also infant seats that sit below the water’s surface so that little ones can splash around safely.

    Parent pro tip: prepare for the kids to get a little wet (but not soaked!) There are electric dryers on the wall next to Drop Drop Splash, so kids can get warm and dry before heading to the next area without having to waste paper towels in the bathroom.

    Explore It Presented by: Publix Super Markets Charities

    This jumbo track set lets kids create custom courses for rolling balls.

    This jumbo track set lets kids create custom courses for rolling balls.

    Build, experiment, break it down, build again. Kids who love to invent and tinker will go nuts in this area! There are areas loaded with all manner of building tools like pipes, wheels, and cords– anything kids need to make their own fun contraption. Younger children can build too: there are foam blocks, perfect for stacking and building! A projected kaleidoscope and light-up wall let kids play around with color and design.
    Each dot on this light-up wall can change to any color or be turned off  with a simple twist!

    Each dot on this light-up wall can change to any color or be turned off with a simple twist!

    On the other side of Explore It, there is what’s essentially a jumbo Hot Wheels set: kids can move around giant detachable tracks and loop-de-loops to create a course, then drop a ball in to watch how fast it goes! The centerpiece of Explore It is definitely the air tubes that climb all the way up the wall. Kids can feed in colored silk handkerchiefs at the bottom, then watch them shoot through the twisting pipes; the machine then spits the handkerchiefs out in the rafters, so they float down from the sky! (Bonus points if you can get one to land one on your head!)

    Toddler Town Presented by: Community Based Care of Central Florida

    A sensory wall lets kids explore different textures; parents can put any mouthed toys in a bin.

    A sensory wall lets kids explore different textures; parents can put any mouthed toys in a bin.

    Nestled near the center of New KidsTown is an area that presents a big first for Orlando Science Center. Toddler Town is a safe space for ages 0-3 to enjoy the same collaboration and creativity that the rest of New KidsTown has to offer. It’s the first area at OSC that is truly infant-friendly: there is even a bin for mouthed toys, meaning that kids can play in a sanitary environment, and parents don’t have to chase their baby around wet-wiping everything they decide to taste. The sensory wall and storybook bin will also appeal to parents of infants.
    Perhaps the biggest feature of Toddler Town is its prime location: there is a clear view of both Explore It and Drip Drop Splash, so parents can watch over the little one while keeping the older children in eyeshot.

    StudioKidsTown Studio Presented by: Florida Hospital for Children

    The KidsTown Studio is the hub of hands-on activity at New KidsTown; and appropriately so, it’s the hub of parent-child interaction. Families can sit at spacious tables and try out different activities, all available in labeled bins. The area will also be home to craft and sensory activities led by the Science Center, as well as other scheduled workshops. To the everyday Science Center-goer, this will prove to be a great area for some quality sit-down time. Parents can pick activities that work best for their child, then work together to finish. Be sure to stop at the screen just outside the studio to make a virtual “get well” card for patients at Florida Hospital for Children.

    Fun fact: If you make art and accidentally leave it behind, your hard work may not have gone to waste! It could end up displayed on the KidsTown Studio wall as an example to future visitors.

    Harriett’s KidsTown Theatre

    Put on a play in fun costumes, with a choice of four fun backdrops.

    Put on a play in fun costumes, with a choice of four fun backdrops.

    Kids with a taste for drama will find their home in this area. After decking themselves out in costumes at the prop wall, they can take to the stage and create whatever kind of play their heart desires! In order to build confidence, there is a mirror so that kids can watch themselves perform. The curtain closes and opens, and the stage’s background can change with the simple press of a touch-screen. At one moment, your child could be a Yellow Submarine in space; the next, they could be the Statue of Liberty at Lake Eola! When the background changes, the lighting also changes for dramatic effect. There is a wheelchair-accessible ramp at stage left, so every child has the chance to be a star!

    Parent pro tip: milk the Theatre area for all it’s worth– the audience seating is incredibly comfortable! It’s the perfect place for a breather.

    Orange GroveOutside of the main exhibits, there are little details that parents will adore. For one: glorious stroller parking! It’s in a spacious hallway just past the Orange Grove; the area is also lit by fun colored lights, so kids will love watching their shadows move through the hallway. Another big feature is the bathroom location: it’s within eyeshot of the Theatre, Studio, Toddler Town and Drip Drop Splash, and just a stone’s throw away from the rest of the areas. The restrooms here are also all-inclusive.

    Explore ItThe common themes all around New KidsTown are collaboration, creativity, safety and accessibility. It’s nearly impossible to go through all of New KidsTown without interacting with other kids in some way; this is a great opportunity to teach kids about sharing, taking turns, and working together. Each exhibit also encourages problem-solving and ingenuity as kids figure out their own unique way of accomplishing tasks. The best part is, no child will feel left out due to their age or abilities. Parents will end up loving this area as much as their kids will: there are so many opportunities to jump in and make a learning experience out of every interaction. It’s so easy to be a part of the fun while also letting kids express themselves.

    New KidsTown is now open to the public! The entire experience is included with general admission to Orlando Science Center.

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    Smart Start by LearningRx

    Smart Start Parent Flyer

    LearningRx is now providing Smart Start, fun, interactive brain training classes for children ages 4 to 6. By attending weekly classes and labs with your child, you will be able to work together on skills such as attention, memory, logic and reasoning, auditory processing, visual processing, and processing speed.

    Smart Start includes a class kit containing a Smart Start class binder and session packets, brain cards, a brainy bag, brainy blocks, a color arrow board, liftoff number cards, liftoff sound cards, metronome, a stopwatch, and a LearningRx canvas bag. This course takes place at LearningRx Orlando-Windermere and lasts for 6 weeks. Classes are 90 minutes long and labs are 60 minutes long with 8 parent/child duos in each.

    The foundational brain skills learned at Smart Start will help you continue training your child in a fun way at home too, so that they can be prepared for everyday experiences in life.

    You can call LearningRx at 407-614-6255 to reserve a spot for you and your child, or visit their website to learn more. LearningRx Orlando-Windermere is located at 6735 Conroy Road, Suite 326, Orlando, Florida.

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    Tugboat & the Bird

    Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.51.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.51.11 PMTugboat & the Bird was established in 2001, and is known by locals for its bright yellow door and playful interior. We carry traditional children’s clothing and layette, fun accessories, unique room décor and one-of-a-kind newborn and children’s gifts. Tugboat & the Bird’s cheerful employees are passionate about what they do and welcome the opportunity to help customers choose the perfect gift for their own children or for those of another.
    318 Park Avenue North • Winter Park FL 32789 407-647-5437 •

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    Orlando Moms Be Like …

    Words by JJ West
    Originally published in the new local mom blog

    orlando moms talking

    I am not a native of Central Florida, and I am not married to one either. We moved here so my hubby could attend flight school. The plan was to be here for two years and then head into the real world. Here we are 10 years later, homeowners, parents, year-round flip-flop wearers. We’re in deep. We are technically … sigh … Floridians.

    Even though I have only parented as a Floridian, my Tennessee upbringing, Mainer (those are folks who live in Maine) in-laws, and numerous Facebook friends parenting in other parts of the world helped me realize that the greater Orlando area has its own set of parenting characteristics. Here’s a short list explaining just how we Orlando parents roll.

     • • • • • “Is this my Winnie Palmer cup, or yours?”  • • • • •


    Ahhhhh … the ubiquitous Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies water cup. You can find these cups wherever you find parents—at work, at the playground, in a stroller’s cupholder, poolside. You name the location, and I’ve seen one there.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Mrs. Palmer and her amazing double-walled beverage holders, she is the late wife of golf legend Arnold Palmer. She is also the namesake of Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, also known as “the place where all the cool moms give birth.”

    Mommas who birth there are treated to unlimited refills of ice water in these special cups, and they get to take them home as a souvenir of their hospital stay. Unlike usual souvenirs, though, these cups actually get used—all the time. Water truly tastes better in them.

    So, all over the greater Orlando area, you can find these lovely portable water fountains. They are a secret handshake of sorts, except what they really communicate is, “Hi. I have a kid under the age of 11.”

     • • • • • “We’re having your birthday at Disney. It’s just easier.”  • • • • •

    2015 Copyright Snap Photography & Design, LLC

    2015 Copyright Snap Photography & Design, LLC

    Y’all, I have actually said this.

    If you’re reading this as an Orlando-area parent, you’ve probably done it too (or you’ve substituted Universal or SeaWorld). If you’ve never called Central Florida home, I’m sure you wish you had that option.

    I’ll be honest, hauling three young children around the “happiest place on earth” is less daunting to me than getting my house clean enough to host other people’s children. I threw my first birthday party for my 4-year-old this year. I spent weeks cleaning, decorating, planning and fretting. By the time it was over, I was a mess (and so was my house!). When I want to spend a day with Minnie and Mickey, I pack a lunch, grab sunscreen, fold up the double stroller, and get all the littles loaded into car seats. We’re taking selfies in a Disney park within an hour (and I don’t have to write thank-you notes to anyone!).

    For those of you who visit during peak season and complain about the crowds, you must remember that we don’t go when the rest of you are there. Our house has an unofficial moratorium on theme parks from June 1 through September 1 and the two weeks before and after Christmas. We don’t want to spend an hour waiting to ride the teacups. Out-of-town friends ask our advice for visiting during high-traffic times. Here’s the advice I give: DON’T come during peak season. I know the kids are out of school, but I promise that they will enjoy it more if you take your family vacay the first week of November.

    Maybe some of you can’t rid yourself of the vision of your little one’s epic “I am tired and overwhelmed” temper tantrum after a day of rushing around the park. My kids would totally do that, too. Since we aren’t driving for hours, flying on planes or staying in hotels, Orlando moms also don’t feel the need to spend the entire day at the parks. We like to arrive at 1:30 p.m., and we’re out of there by 5:30 p.m. My youngest gets his morning nap at home, and we eat dinner at our kitchen table. We have to get up early the next day, so no evening parade or fireworks for us. We have the luxury of being the boss of our Disney hours, instead of Disney park hours and dining reservations being the boss of us. So, yeah, I’ll take a day at Disney over spending weeks prepping for a Disney-themed party any day.

     • • • • • “Which Chick-fil-A is hosting Mr. Richard this week?”  • • • • •

    Mr. Richard is the rock star of the greater Orlando preschool scene. He has awesome songs about garbage trucks and spaceships and birthdays. My children LOVE his songs, and since they kind of remind me of Green Day, I don’t mind them either. When my kids get particularly squirrelly in the car, it takes only the first few notes of Kids Gotta Rock! to get them singing and dancing along. Works every time.

    A Mr. Richard concert and a Chick-fil-A Arnold Palmer (that’s half lemonade, half iced tea) with some friends? Now that’s a playdate, people.

    If you love Mr. Richard like I do, please help with the mounting bills associated with the recent passing of his wife, Danielle, from cancer; visit the GoFundMe campaign. Also, take a moment to read the article he wrote for Men’s Health.

    So there you have it—a short list of things that make parenting in the “happiest place on earth” so great (or weird). Orlando peeps, what did I miss?

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    JJ West lives in Oviedo with her husband and three small children. She is a former teacher and a “wannabe blogger.” When she isn’t changing diapers, preparing snacks or answering a million questions, she enjoys the beach, sweet tea and college football. You can read more about faith, family and funny stories on her new blog:

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    The Princess and the Tea Party


    Theatre South presents The Princess and the Tea Party at the Rosen JCC. Your mini royals (ages 4 to 8) can join Princess PenelPEA and her Fairy “Oh My Gawd” Mother for a magical two-hour Manners Tea Party. Princes and Princesses can be dropped off for a fun lesson in manners followed by a sit down tea party. After tea children will decorate their own desserts, learn ballroom dancing and
    participate in an interactive story reading of “The Princess and The Pea”.

    The Princess and the Tea Party
    Sunday, October 11 at 12:30-2:30 p.m.
    Theatre South Orlando | Rosen JCC
    11184 S. Apopka Vineland Rd., Orlando 32836

    ~ Royalty Dress Suggested ~
    ~ A 2-hour drop-off program for boys and girls ages 4 to 8 ~
    ~ $45 per child ($40 for JCC Members) ~
    Call 407-387-5330 for tickets (press 0 for an operator)​

    Click here for the Facebook event page.

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    The PLAYGROUND Music & Arts Fest

    musicartsfest-thumb-sizaWHERE: Lake Eola

    WHEN: April 18, 2010

    TIME: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    PLAYGROUND Magazine presents the coolest Music & Arts Festival that Central Florida has ever seen. Sponsored by: Publix, Lake Mary Preparatory School, After Hours Pediatrics, Green Parent Association, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, Fused Fashion, The Neilsens Photography and Design, Orange County Arts Education Center and Orange County Art Education Association, it will blow your mind!

    Some of the interactive exhibits include:

    real and airbrush tattoos

    fashion show

    punk rock hairdo

    mushroom art installation

    jewelry making

    kids yoga

    make your own music video DVD

    pottery party bus

    graffiti wall

    flip book photos

    finger puppet creation

    model casting call


    recycled art projects

    face painting

    rock wall

    bounce play

    hot wheels mini race car track

    and more…


    PLAY ZONES: Experience unique interactive booths and activities for families. From a Mad Hatter puppet show & tea party to a funky fresh DJ dance party, we’ve set out to exceed expectations. Your kid will feel like a rock-star with a take-home PLAYGROUND cover photo, his own music video on DVD and by getting photographed by paparazzi. No autographs, please! 😉

    ARTS SUMMER CAMP FAIR: Don’t miss this one-stop-shop for the best artistic summer camp options around. Even if you’re not in the summer camp market, stop by for some interactive art experiences.

    STUDENT ART EXHIBITS & ART MARKET: Many tents scattered around Lake Eola will showcase progressive artwork by local students from more than 50 schools. Their will be a Student Art Market (in the Farmers’ Market) that proceeds from the art sales go back into the students’ respective schools to help with the purchase of art supplies. Support the arts!

    ORLANDO FARMERS’ MARKET: The weekly Orlando Farmers’ Market includes wine, Bloody Marys and a Beer Garden.

    RELAX GRILL AT LAKE EOLA: “Chillax” at the only full-service restaurant right on the lake featuring a live reggae band. A great stop by delish eats, drinks (wine & beer for mom and dad) and a great view of the festivities.

    INFORMATION TENTS: Visit one of our information tents on the West and East sides of the lake for info, water and  event t-shirts. Sponsors/Exhibitors: Please contact Chrissy Allen at 321-281-7255 or to get involved.

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    Spot Me ID is a kid safety program that offers peace of mind for you in crowded public places. Offering items like animated ID bracelets, temporary tattoos and ID lanyards where you can write important information, in the event your child wanders away and gets lost. This idea was created by local parents who had a scare with their own child.

    52 Riley Rd., Suite #181, Celebration | 407-566-9871

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    Mother’s & More – Orlando

    Mother’s & More – Orlando Do you want to be part of an extended community of individuals and organizations talking about and working on the issues that impact mothers’ lives? Become a member of Mothers & More and join the thousands of other mothers who are making connections and making a difference in their own lives and the lives of other mothers. or contact Andria at

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    Chrissy Allen

    Co-Founder / Advertising & Marketing Director

    As a Florida native and UCF graduate, Chrissy Allen brings a sense of hometown to PLAYGROUND Magazine. Chrissy has more than 12 years experience as an Event Planner for large corporations such as Home Depot and Morgan Stanley. She brings impressive publishing experience as a former account executive for the Orlando Business Journal. Chrissy’s local contacts have evolved the PLAYGROUND Magazine concept into a reality. As a mother of triplets, Chrissy jumped right into parenthood and wanted to create a resource for new and experienced parents in Central Florida.

    Best friend and wife to Rob for eight years
    Mom to Brady, Delaney & Riley, 2-year-old triplets

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    Heather Reneau

    Founder / Editorial & Creative Director

    Raised on the Gulf Beaches of Florida and a graduate of the University of Miami, Heather Reneau brings her vision of creating a modern parenting magazine to life. Her previous experience as the Senior Graphic Designer at Ocean Drive Magazine, Art Director for several Harcourt and Macmillan/McGraw Hill publications, and Freelance Web Designer, she brings invaluable understanding of the publishing industry. However, it was her personal ventures (becoming a first-time mom, community volunteer, and board member of the MOMS Club) that inspired her to create a parenting magazine like no other.

    Best friend and wife to Brant for seven years
    Mom to Kai Jordan, 3 years old

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    About The Founders

    Chrissy Allen (pictured left) and Heather Reneau (pictured right) spent every summer together playing on the beach, going to camp and having sleepovers. For more than 30 years, Heather’s uncle and Chrissy’s father were very successful business partners. The young girls never expected that they would follow in the men’s footsteps.

    Coincidentally, both women ended up settling down to raise their families in Central Florida. This exciting new business venture has rekindled their childhood bond. As a team, they bring the same sense of fun and energy to PLAYGROUND Magazine as if they were still those same eight-year-olds practicing gymnastics on the beach.

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    Looking for past issues? You found ’em! Feel free to download full PDF’s of the PLAYGROUND archives.

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    We applaud our amazing contributors. PLAYGROUND wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative effort of our amazing team.

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    Find a sampling of articles in a unique online format with added functionality. You can offer your commentary, email articles to your friends and post favorites to your Facebook page.

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    by Wholesome Tummies

    With four kids of her own, Samantha Gotlib of Wholesome Tummies understands the challenges of getting families to eat healthy. She “dishes” on being creative with food so kids not only like it, but also get the best nutrition possible.

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    Orlando Watersports Complex

    Orlando Watersports Complex This park has wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing for all levels. 8615 Florida Rock Rd., Orlando 407-251-3100

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

    Orlando Gymnastics & Cheerleading

    Orlando Gymnastics & Cheerleading Dance, gymnastics and cheering for kids of all ages. 11821 S. OBT, Orlando 407-850-4123

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    Massage Envy

    Massage Envy Massage for the whole family including prenatal, baby massage and sports massage. 1465 WP Ball Blvd., MM# 21070, Sanford 407-333-9599

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

    Joyful Music and Dance Studio

    Joyful Music and Dance Studio Kindermusik classes available for newborns through age 7. 290 Waymont Ct., Lake Mary 407-833-2729

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    Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando

    screen-shot-2012-03-13-at-21413-pmJewish Community Center of Greater Orlando Award-winning early childhood learning center for infants through Pre-K for children of all faiths. 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland 407-645-5933 and 11184 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando 407-239-7411

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    In Balance Yoga & Pilates

    In Balance Yoga & Pilates Children can build strength, balance and flexibility in a non-competitive environment. 1061 S. Sun Dr. #1041, Lake Mary 407-227-5555

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    Complete Soccer Academy

    Complete Soccer Academy Soccer lessons for pre-K through professional. 645 Executive Park Ct., Apopka 407-925-6812

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

    Brown's Gymnastics

    Brown’s Gymnastics Fully equipped training facility offering competitive gymnastics and birthday parties. 740 Orange Ave., Altamonte Springs 407-869-8744

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

    Aiguille Rock Climbing

    Aiguille Rock Climbing Camps, after-school programs, parties and a competitive climbing team tailored for kids. 999 Charles St., Longwood 407-332-1430

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

    Wee Willie Winks

    Wee Willie Winks Wide variety of products from diapering items and baby legs to swaddling wraps. 407-492-1211

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    Wee Babies

    Wee Babies LifeCast statues and shadow boxes. 407-359-9471

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed Create custom designed art pieces using your photograph, name or monogram. Placemats, canvas prints, wall murals and more. 1-888-268-2724

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    Nannies of Distinction

    Nannies of Distinction Nanny referral agency that places in-home child care providers. Full- and part-time, temporary, on-call, nannies, mannies or sitters. 407.830.6599

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    MommyMixer Service that connects parents and potential babysitters.

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    Lovin’ Pet Home Finders

    Lovin’ Pet Home Finders Service for families who no longer can keep their pets. They find loving and caring homes as an alternative to shelters. 407-272-8078

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

    Renee Adams

    Renee Adams Family DJ with interactive dancing, singing, games and skits. 407-493-9773 Email:

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    Once Upon a Time Events

    Once Upon a Time Events Themed parties with face painting, magic shows and much more. 407-810-3137

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    Mr. Richard

    Mr. Richard Plays original music for hip kids. 407-898-3482

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    Elvis Shirt


    The Lola & James line is high fashion for the eco-conscious kid. Catering to both boys and girls, the colorful designs use recycled fabrics and materials (often cool vintage concert t-shirts). Lucky for us, they are just as serious about style as they are about making safe and earth-friendly products.

    Lulu Belle Baby Boutique, Baldwin Park

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    Discover Rig


    Explore the wonders of the Amazon with the Sprig Discover Rig. Kids can trigger the generator to activate lights, dialog and sound effects. Constructed from eco-friendly Sprigwood, this rugged and durable toy comes complete with an African Safari adventure led by famous safari explorer Cap Faraday.

    Careful Planet Toys

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    Respect the Earth Flash Cards


    If your little ones need a lesson in going green, these Eeboo flash cards will do the trick. These beautifully illustrated flash cards sport sayings such as “recycle bottles and paper” and “turn off the lights.”

    Tugboat and the Bird, Winter Park

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    Plan Chalet Dollhouse


    Move over Barbie mansion, there’s a new dream house in town. This modern Chalet, accessible from all sides, is built from natural organic recycled rubberwood. So if pink plastic monstrosities aren’t your cup of tea, this hip dollhouse with mod furniture might just be what you’ve been looking for.


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    Tea Set


    Porcelain tea sets can chip and plastic is, well, so plastic-y. Unless, of course, it’s Green Toys’ colorful tea set made in California of recycled milk jugs. Your little gals will enjoy a very hip, eco-friendly tea party with this set that even meets FDA standards, should real food ever be served.

    Careful Planet Toys

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    With a lion, giraffe and panda too, we had to share these toys with you. Handcrafted in Australia from organic maple, the “Anamalz” are bound to be a hit. With a percentage of the purchase supporting wildlife organizations around the world, these products take eco-friendly to a new level.

    Sam Flax, Orlando

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    Tire Swing


    We’re not horsing around with this tire swing. Made from 100% recycled tires, this swing is so cool we couldn’t resist. So saddle up and jump on; you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood. But don’t worry, if horses aren’t the thing for you, you can also choose from elephants, dragons and airplanes.


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    Puzzle Stacking Game


    A whimsical dragon, prince and princess adorn this fairytale-like building game. Made of solid beechwood and non-toxic paint, this Haba game includes 27 dazzling blocks. With its charming patterns and shapes, it’s no wonder this playful stacking game is appropriately named “Land of the Dragons.”

    Daisy’s Children’s Boutique & Toy Store, Winter Garden

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    We wish we had had this sporty bike when we were younger. Its aerodynamic design and cool color options will have your little one on the fast track to the Tour de France. Made from birch plywood, the Bugabike is built to withstand any rough and tumble tot. Sans pedals, it teaches balance, too.

    Careful Planet Toys

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    This eco-trivia board game will make your next family night a success. With more than 800 questions, this game tests players’ scientific knowledge, while helping to educate them  on science, nature and the environment. The first player to collect the required eco-points on his destination card wins.

    Careful Planet Toys

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    Plan Dancing Alligator


    This award-winning pull-along alligator has tons of personality as he wiggles, bobs and click-clacks along. Made from eco-friendly rubberwood pieces. Encouraging good balance and steady walking, this fun Dancing Alligator makes an excellent toy for any toddler.

    Good For The Kids, Altamonte

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    Indoor Gardening Kit


    Get out your green thumb for this fabulous toy. Made from 100% recycled milk jugs, Green Toys’ Indoor Gardening Kit has everything your little sprout will need. Complete with a pea pod-shaped planter tray, three planting pots, trowel, soil and organic seeds, you’ll be fully equipped to bring the outdoors inside this winter.

    Careful Planet Toys

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    Mobile Home


    Made entirely from recycled cardboard, the Kidsonroof MobileHome folds up flat so it can easily travel with your child for imaginative fun on the go. Available in white or blue, this eight-room house is ready for your child’s creative touch. Encourage your child to add color with paint and markers.

    Hip from Holland

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    Plan Bulldozer


    No hard hat required when using this rough and tough bulldozer. The ability to maneuver, haul, lift and pull is sure to fulfill your child’s construction worker fantasy. Built from durable rubberwood, this heavy-duty vehicle can lift blocks, dirt, rocks and more.

    Timmy’s Toy Chest Lake Mary

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    Make It! Book


    Don’t take the garbage out just yet. Jane Bull’s latest book Make It! offers creative suggestions for turning common household trash into a kid’s treasure. From soda bottle bird feeders to aluminum robots, these imaginative projects will keep your kids busy for hours.

    Sam Flax, Orlando

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    by Tammara Kohler

    This hip mom of two cuties has never allowed her fashion to go stale. Tammara Kohler, owner of Fused Fashion in Orlando, is the newest contributor to PLAYGROUND. Tammara offers a wide range of services from personal shopping, wardrobe styling and fashion production. Her creative eye provides a fresh and modern look on style.

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    Pick Your Area

    The PLAY Guide is the ‘go-to’ resource for busy parents in Central Florida featuring family-friendly local businesses. This is an interactive listing, separated by area and category for your convenience. Please let us know what you think of the venues by making comments on the listings that you visit.

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    The Dog MaHall

    Vacationing to a place that’s not so pet friendly? Don’t worry, your pet can have his own  luxury VIP suite (themed around his favorite city) at The Dog MaHall & Cats 2. Wait, it gets better … the stay includes amenities like cable TV, movie of the day, concierge service, maid service, room service, assigned fitness coach and their own meet and greet “Yappy Hour.” Last year owner Gail dressed the dogs for Halloween and made cards for their “parents.” During movie hour, they get their own pet popcorn and sometimes doggie ice-cream is served. Mmmmm … chicken or turkey flavor?

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    Pookie’s Bow Wow Bakery

    Now your dog can have his cake and eat it too. Pookie’s Bow Wow Bakery makes tasty treats and birthday cakes for dogs everywhere. Okay, I know what you are thinking … what the hell is in a dog birthday cake? Apparently, it is made with cream cheese, peanut butter and banana cake (no sugar added). Hmm, kinda sounds good! But what if your dog’s a chub and you need to chain the fridge door before bed? You’re in luck! Pookie’s can put him on a raw food diet (raw meat, that is). If Fido gets stressed before getting on the scale (like we do), there is always the aisle with homeopathic anxiety remedies.

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    Celebrity Pet Spa

    Watch out, here comes the puparazzi! Glam your pooch up Hollywood-style. Celebrity Pet Spa is a mobile grooming service that comes to you. According to the owner, their mobility eliminates separation anxiety (oh, dogs get that too?) and car sickness (yes, let’s avoid that one at all costs). Ten years of experience has taught owner and groomer, Heidi Pompura, to pay attention to all the little details. She will add a little “bling bling” in the form of bows and such to make sure you pet is accessorized to the nines. Her signature hot oil conditioning treatments, cotton balls in the ears and drops to protect delicate eyes make this spa fit for Lassies everywhere.

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    Animal Hospital at Baldwin Park

    If Fido has “Gone Green” and demands organic pet food, hemp linens and weekly acupuncture treatments, then fret not, we have found the place for you. The veterinarian-run Animal Hospital at Baldwin Park provides a no-bones-about-it approach for tree hugging pets. The facility offers full diagnostic testing, Western and Eastern medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, and acupressure massage. Fido will think she has died and gone to doggy heaven. Good news, they treat other types of pets too.

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    Pawsh Pet Resort & Spa

    Are you tired of your naughty little darling chewing up everything in sight when you leave the house? Perhaps your pet gets lonely during the day. You wouldn’t leave your kid home alone, would you? Don’t panic! There is a solution – doggie daycare. Pawsh Pet Resort & Spa is a cage- and kennel- free environment, so your pet plays all day both indoors and outdoors. Still scared to leave your loved one with strangers? They have web cams available. You can even book Princess her very own massage and the therapist will make house calls!

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    A Beauty Chop for Dogs

    Blueberry facials and hydrotherapy caught our attention. (What’s next? Doggie wraps or anti-aging treatments?) A Beauty Chop for Dogs is a pet spa in Casselberry that offers doggie facials and uses a botanical, high powered bathing system called the HydroSurge® to exfoliate your canine cutie with a warm water massage. Afterwards, your pet will “fluff dry,” meaning he gets hand dried and meticulously brushed. For an extra fee, they offer “express service” so Rover will be in and out in an hour. Your sexy beast can even get a spritz of some eau de parfum before he leaves. Do they make Coco Chanel for dogs?

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    Pamper Party

    Ready, set, luxuriate. Ooh La La Spa Parties at Fresh Face are perfect for the “girly” girl, age 5 and up. After donning their luxurious kid-sized spa robes and flip-flops, they take a seat for a mini-pedicure while getting a paraffin hand wax. The guest of honor is labeled queen for the day and seated in a custom chair. Party guests and the “queen” sit down and partake in one of many spa crafts like applying fruit masks or getting their faces painted. Just like mom’s day at the spa, girls are then armed with survival kits (goody bags filled with hairclips, jewelry and lip gloss made by the girls themselves). Party extras like pink ribbon boxed lunches and a cupcake-decorating station take this party to a whole new level.  407-221-3051

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    Boys’ Club

    This club is for your family’s little VIP, because he deserves just as much doting as the girls. Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club on Park Avenue is taking kids’ pampering to the next level. Junior will get his own toy shave kit to keep him busy while he’s getting styled too. He and dad can bond over laughs and beers (Sam Adams and root beer, of course) while getting the spa experience, guy style.

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    Little Artist Classes – 12/28/08

    Mixed Media (18 months – 5 years): Wednesdays (10-11 a.m., 5-6 p.m.) & Fridays (10-11 a.m.) Little Artists will experience art with all their senses. They will experiment with a variety of materials to explore the basic elements of art while developing social, fine motor skills, and encouraging problem solving. Projects include a literacy component and children are read a new story each week to highlight the day’s projects.

    Messy Art (18 months – 5 years): Tuesday (10-11 a.m.), Wednesdays & Fridays (11-12 p.m.) This class emphasizes on the process over the final product and allows children to explore and discover art materials in new ways. Little Artist will roll up their sleeves and get messy while making art from the different materials. NOTE: Please wear bathing suits (or old clothes) and bring a towel for Messy Art classes.

    Sculpture for Kids (4 – 5 years old): Wednesdays & Fridays (9-10 a.m.) Build and explore the world of sculpture using materials like paper mache, clay, plaster, and cardboard. We will look to famous works of art and our imaginations for inspiration as we learn about form, volume, and balance. Projects are different each session. * This is a drop-off program for children betwen the ages 4-5 years old.

    Cost for each class – $8.00 Members, $10.00 Non-Members >

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    Event Photos

    Check out hip families at cool places around town. Were you there? Then browse the photos for purchase or share them with your friends online.

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    Events Calendar

    We know you can’t possibly hit all of the family-friendly festivities that are going on across Central Florida, so we’ve narrowed it down to THE BEST of them. Check out our 5-Star Family Events calendar to make your plans for the month.

    5-Star Family Events Calendar >

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    Dr. Phillips, Gotha, Ocoee, Winter Garden, Windermere

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