Living books out loud: Make “Floors” come to life for your kids!

Have you ever made a book come to life? We did! And it happens to be on this year’s Sunshine State Young Readers book list, so parents of 3rd – 5th graders in particular might find inspiration in the idea. Sadly, I just discovered your window of opportunity to live this particular adventure closes on September 30, so read fast!

The book Floors by Patrick Carman is about a whimsical hotel – The Whippet Hotel – full of fun adventures and outrageous characters. The eccentric owner of the hotel loves ducks, and there are some residing in the hotel. They even have their own duck elevator! The maintenance man’s son – our protagonist – obtains various key cards that allow him access into secret and fantastical areas of the hotel.

The book that started it all!

Lucky for us, we have a Peabody Hotel here in Orlando, complete with the world famous Peabody Ducks. I took my kids to investigate. We found the ducks in the fountain, and it only took a second for the kids to make the connection that we were at “the Whippet”!

The ducks enter and exit their favorite fountain by literally walking the red carpet!
The ducks enter and exit their favorite fountain by literally walking the red carpet!

The duck march occurs every day at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the hours between spent in their fountain. We got to watch the ducks march single-file down the red carpet with a lot of pomp to their own real duck elevator! Then we left the crowd in our dust as we executed my boy’s genius plan of running up the stairs to beat the elevator to the roof, where we caught them exiting the elevator and taking their place in the duck palace for the night.

The sign reads:                                                                   Reserved for the Peabody Ducks
The sign reads: Reserved for the Peabody Ducks

The poor Duckmaster (yes, it’s a real job) had to suffer through questions from my kids that probably made no sense whatsoever to him, as he has not had the pleasure of reading Floors. But he was obliging, as his post no doubt demands twice daily. Dressed to the nines, he was. A dapper old gentleman, looking very official in his fine livery.

This hotel has orchids just like the book, a pool on the roof just like the book, and a very nice associate even gave us a key card just like the book! The kids think it is the elusive black key card that would get us into the most secret places in the hotel…if only we could find them! I did catch them trying it on a service door or two on our way out.

We also snuck into an empty banquet hall called “The Orchid Room”; and when we found an orchid standing alone in a window, we just knew it had to be the ghost orchid, the most rare and delicate of all orchids. Before they could really inspect it, I claimed to hear voices coming, so we ran like lightning before getting caught! Whew. Close one.

While my kids are old enough to know it’s called The Peabody Orlando, I’m pretty sure they are convinced it’s the Whippet and that magical things are really afoot there. Whenever we drive close enough on I-4 or I-Drive to see the hotel looming in the distance with the Peabody duck logo on the side, we shout, “There’s Betty!” I will carry the memory of this day close to my heart for many years and hope they too will always remember the day we lived a great book out loud.

 

As mentioned earlier, the hotel has recently been purchased and our beloved Peabody ducks will march for the final time on Sept. 30, 2013. I urge you to go now, even if you aren’t done with the book. Heck, go even if you haven’t started it! It will all make sense later, and the pictures will be priceless. There is a cost to park in the garage, since you can’t live in this moment properly within the 30 minute complimentary grace period; but it’s well worth the price of admission for Floors fans. Of note, the Orlando Sentinel recently published a story on the upcoming early retirement of the ducks, which states that the Peabody Hotel in Memphis will continue the tradition of the duck march. Little consolation for little Orlando readers, but better than a complete loss of the 80 year tradition!

Even if the Peabody Orlando’s days are numbered, the Floors fun continues when you read the sequel, 3 Below by Patrick Carman, about the mysterious floors they later discover below ground level.  

To help you get started in picking books to live out loud, check out Florida’s 2013-2104 SSYR books for Grades 3 – 5 and Grades 6 – 8.  Now go make your own adventure!

Remembering 9/11 and Teaching Our Children

For many of us, September 11 is a “where were you” moment of our generation, and is perhaps one of the hardest dates to explain to a small child.

Last year, as I was watching the news coverage, my daughter asked me why I was crying. As best I could, I explained to my nearly three-year-old that a long time ago some bad people attacked our country. Why? she asked. Because they don’t like us.

For her, that was enough. But I know as she gets older, the questions will get harder.

Another of our contributors asked a few of her students if they knew what happened on 9/11/01…some could recall stories told by their parents, others hadn’t been born.

In light of teaching our children about this day, we compiled a brief list of resources:

And a few books specifically for  younger children:

 Older Children:

What do you tell your children about this day?

by Elisabeth Myrick
former OMB Contributor

Introducing the Orlando Moms Blog team

Last week our awesome team of contributors gathered for group photos in the iconic Lake Eola Park. With its famous fountain, swan boats, and towering buildings, this Central Florida landmark represents the heart of Orlando.

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It was the first time our entire team had been together, and though our meeting was short (90% humidity = working quickly and efficiently), there was plenty of conversation (we have some really fun things in store for you!), laughter, and even a swan photo bomb!

A special thanks to the super-talented Elisabeth Nixon Photography for these wonderful images! Introducing the Orlando Moms Blog team

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L to R: Kristen B., Carolyn, Kim, Dawn, Shelley, Kristi, Elisabeth, Meghan, Kristen S., Vanessa, Sarah.
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Founder Kristi Corley and Managing Editor Elisabeth Myrick photo bombed by a Lake Eola swan.

{Giveaway} New Smyrna Beach Getaway

New Smyrna Beach-20130820-01164Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, babymoon, girlfriends weekend or are simply in need of a SOLO retreat, we’re wrapping up our Orlando Moms Blog launch week with the perfect escape…

New Smyrna Beach Getaway

One lucky winner will receive:

315588_257326830964949_6397577_nA three day, two night stay overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean at Ocean Trillium Suites courtesy of Ocean Properties!

AND, while you’re in town…

Restore that sun-kissed glow with a healthy, organic spray tan by Mystified Mobile Spray Tan at Swanky Chic Salon.

And enjoy a cool, refreshing treat at Ed Honu’s Hawaiian Shave Ice and Juice Bar.

Enter below now through Wednesday, Sept. 11. Winner will be notified by email.

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{Giveaway} Sweet! Never Tasted So Good!

We’re celebrating the launch of Orlando Moms Blog all week with some amazing giveaways! Check back with us every day this week!

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly
Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly

Today’s giveaway offers you a delicious way to celebrate the launch of Orlando Moms Blog! Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly, located in Waterford Lakes, is offering two readers a dozen mini cupcakes – now that’s a sweet deal!

Founder and Winter Park resident Hollis Wilder is a busy mom who understands the challenges of juggling all the pieces to the family puzzle. That’s why Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly strives to provide a place where families can enjoy thoughtful gourmet treats at a reasonable price.

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly opened in Orlando in 2008 and since then has gained recognition for its gourmet cupcakes not only in the City Beautiful, but worldwide as three-time winner of The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

Sweet! offers 30 flavors of gourmet cupcakes baked from scratch daily, along with 12 flavors of self-serve frozen yogurt and 48 toppings. Both also have delivery in the metro areas via a refrigerated cupcake truck.

Enter below now to through Tuesday, Sept. 10. Winners will be notified by email.

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{Giveaway} Flippin’ Around Town in Style

We’re celebrating the launch of Orlando Moms Blog all week with some amazing giveaways! Check back with us every day
this week!

Lindsay Phillips Logo
Lindsay Phillips Logo

Freshen up your pedicure and get readywp to FLIP for our next giveaway, courtesy of Lindsay Phillips, a local “mompreneur” whose signature SwitchFlops are a national sensation! Since high school, Lindsay has been designing functional flops with colorful straps, each adorned with a unique button. Over the years, her idea evolved into a shoe with an interchangeable design: one shoe with many straps and unlimited style choices! SwitchFlops made their retail debut in January 2007 at the Surf Expo Trade Show in Orlando where they were showcased as a new and innovative product. Orders started rolling in, explosive growth followed and, today Lindsay’s venture is now a leader for custom flip flops and shoes, with a growing lineup of bags and scarves.

Top: Kelli; Bottom: Gwen
Top: Kelli; Bottom: Gwen

The winner of this giveaway will select a Kelli or Gwen flop in the color of their choice (pictured above, from available stock at Chloe Lane Boutique in Winter Park), with one additional snap of their choice. Enter below now through Monday, Sept. 9. Winners will be notified via email.

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{Giveaway} Take a Break with Panera Bread

We’re celebrating the launch of Orlando Moms Blog all week with some amazing giveaways! Check back with us later today and all week!

Panera-image

Our first giveaway needs no real introduction…Orlando Moms Blog loves Panera Bread! We’ve brainstormed for hours in their booths, both for the blog and Babyourself and we’re certain neither would exist if not for their tasty baked goods and bottomless cups of coffee!

Panera is also one of our favorite “mommy + child date night” locations. A huge chopped salad for mom, melty grilled cheese and organic yogurt for the kids, plus a warm chocolate chip cookie to split – what could be better?

To celebrate our launch, we’re excited to offer not one, but two lucky readers a $25 gift card to Panera! Enter below now through Friday, Sept. 6. Winners will be notified via email.

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Welcome to Orlando Moms Blog

Making friends as an adult is hard. Making friends after you have kids, and in an area as widespread as Central Florida is even harder. There. I said it.

I don’t know what it is, but for me, it seemed like after having my daughter, I lost all ability to interact in social situations. If I saw a momma at the park with a child close in age to my daughter, I felt desperate to talk to her (Another adult! Who communicates with words and won’t drool on me!) but had no idea how to start the conversation. After exchanging pleasantries like the babies ages, were they sleeping through the night, etc. I would inevitably feel like I reeked of desperation to please! be! my! friend! It was like being 16 all over again, talking to a cute boy. Ugh!

Now my daughter is three, and while my desperation to talk to another adult still exists some days, I’ve found a group of mommas to call friend. However, for women who are new to Orlando, knowing where to turn for fun things to do with your family (that doesn’t always involve a theme park!), or finding a group of women to call friends is hard. Even if you know people who live here, you might reside in Winter Park and they call Windermere home. And that’s where Orlando Moms Blog comes in.

Our hope is that this space will become a go-to for the mommas who call Central Florida home — for family-friendly activities, date night ideas, and even the occasional Moms Night Out! So, grab a cup of coffee (or pour a glass of wine!) and sit down with us. This is your community, and we can’t wait to get to know you!

Kristi Corley (Founder) and Elisabeth Myrick (Managing Editor)
Kristi Corley (Founder) and Elisabeth Myrick (former contributor)

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