Entries Tagged 'Tampa' ↓

Tampa Theatre: Holiday Classics with the Kids

It feels like every holiday season is another opportunity to make a tradition. Because time is ticking, folks. My wee ones are already rolling their eyes at my Christmas carols, Santa hats and jiggle bell bracelets. I have only a few years remaining to do things that they look back on and say “Remember when we were kids and we used to [insert nostalgic memory here]? That was awesome.” (Because I am sure EVERY family memory of ours will be… “awesome”.)

When I was offered the opportunity to review my movie experience at the Tampa Theatre, I was thrilled to go. You see, they are showing their Holiday Classics and the first was A Muppet Christmas Carol. So off we went, down to the city, with carols blaring and kids trying very hard not to smile about it all in the backseat.

Upcoming “Holiday Classics” being shown the the Tampa Theatre.

The Tampa Theatre is always a treat. This “movie palace”, built in 1926, is nothing like your typical movie complex. There is a fantastic marquee out front and an ornately decorated lobby found just past the ticket booth. It was designed to look much like a Mediterranean square with Tuscan decor and an evening sky above.

Of course my kids thought it looked a little bit like Hogwarts and were about 95% convinced Snape was holding a potions class downstairs, about where the signs pointed to Restrooms. Their imaginations went wild.

Cool water fountain!

The theater itself is just as fantastic with a twinkling night sky above, the same Mediterranean villa theme, gargoyles, various decorative birds and The Mighty Wurlitzer organ which rose out of the stage to play a few Christmas carols before the fun began. The theatre primarily plays movies — in fact, it still plays old 35mm film movies. They are working to install a new digital projection system built uniquely for that theatre.

It was a great program, with Mrs. Claus singing songs and telling stories, an elf to keep with the holiday theme and then the film itself, A Muppet Christmas Carol, which I had actually never seen.

We had a great time but I honestly think my kids were more impressed by the theatre than the movie itself. (HOW could my kids NOT appreciate The Muppets the way I do??) Of course, I kept thinking that a movie night at the Tampa Theatre would make a fantastic date night, too.

Be sure to catch one of the upcoming holiday movies being shown on select weekend days during December.

The Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ

Elf The Musical (And My Affinity For Elf Culture)

If you know my family, you know what kind of freaks we are for the movie Elf. I loved it when my first son was only a baby and used to HOPE my children would enjoy it just as much as I did someday.

(Because. You know. “It’s just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture.”)

Well, wish granted. My kids have already watched the entire movie start to finish this season and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

A few weeks ago, I heard that Elf The Musical was coming to town. Imagine my reaction. Can’t? Cue another Elf quote to illustrate my enthusiasm: “SANTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!!”

(Oh, yeah, the quotes. We rock them constantly during the holidays. I’m not sure any of my family members can burp without adding a “did you HEAR that?” afterwards. But I digress…)

Matt Kopec (Buddy) and Gordon Gray (Santa) in “Elf The Musical.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

I could not believe my luck when The Straz Center very graciously invited a group of Tampa bloggers to watch Elf, The Musical. My 9yo son and I went tonight, armed with our favorite quotes and all kinds of musical Christmas cheer cued up and ready to go.

However. Before I officially launch into my review, I want to set some very clear expectations first. This is particularly important for those of you who are thinking about going and are as much of a fan of the movie as I am.  So, listen up.

1) Buddy is fantastic. But he is NOT Will Ferrell. (Who can be?) Don’t go in expecting any hint of a Will Ferrell imitator, either. Buddy isn’t Will, so let that go. THIS Buddy is extraordinarily talented and may even be more earnest and singy and dancy than Will. But it’s a musical and this is theater, so Buddy should be those things. Embrace the new Buddy.

2) Elf The Musical will not copy the movie scene by scene. That would be impossible to do. It does follow the story for the most part, but with a little twist. And the majority of that twist would be original music (but not the tunes from the movie). Like I said, let the movie go a bit and you will be fine.

3) There will be quotes from the movie, for sure. But it won’t cover ALL of them. (Brace yourself, there is no enormous burp and a “Did you hear that?”) And that’s OK. It works out just fine. In fact, this version adds in a few NEW funny quotes of it’s own. Appreciate it as an original piece of musical theater, because it is.

4) Be prepared to get into the Christmas spirit with a whole lot of song and dance.

If you go in with those expectations, you will love it. Honestly, the music was very good and the dancing was fun. It’s a great cast and I ADORED the live orchestra. I think that really adds a lot to the show. The set is great and I was impressed by how they wove the story together on a stage. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it, either. It got a standing ovation at the end.

OH, and here’s the most important part. My 9yo loved it. He laughed and recognized it and read the playbill carefully at the intermission and then raced back to his seat. On the way back to the car, he leaped around and rehashed his favorite parts. (“You smell like beef and cheese!” “You sit on a throne of lies!” “Just cool it, Zippy.”)

If you can reign in your Elf movie obsession and refrain from being too literal, and if you are prepared to just ENJOY theater that gets you into the holiday spirit, go. It will make you smile. And after all, isn’t smiling your favorite?

Elf The Musical is playing at The Straz Center in Tampa, November 20-25.

Westfield Citrus Park: Safe Trick-or-Treating in Tampa!

When my kiddos were very wee, Halloween spooked them. A lot.  The masks, the fake graves, the styrofoam zombies, the dark and the unknown made the treats almost not worth all of those tricks. We went out anyway, of course. But we only went to a few houses and avoided anything that could possible traumatize them.

(You know the “dress up like a Scarecrow trick and then jump at the kids when they walk up your sidewalk” thing? Yeah, well, my nine year old STILL avoids that house on Halloween night years after a scarecrow jumped at him. He was two. NOT COOL.)

Sometimes, an alternative Halloween event is the way to go.

Westfield Mall in Citrus Park IS offering a fun and safe trick-or-treating alternative this Halloween for Tampa residents. Families are welcome to come to the mall in costume on Halloween between 5:00pm and 7:00pm and enjoy a safe trick-or-treating experience. This event is limited to kids 12 and under and no masks or fake weapons are allowed — so the fun will truly be safe and scare-free. Families can expect:

  • Trick-or-treating at local retailers. Look for the “Welcome Trick-or-Treaters” sign!
  • A free trick-or-treat bag–these are being offered to the first 500 WFamily members.
  • The chance to register for a free WFamily membership.
  • Well-lit, early evening, zombie-free Halloween fun!

Lots of Tampa families have already RSVPed on Facebook, so you can expect a fun evening socializing with other spooky families. Don’t forget that Westfield Malls are always family friendly and offer clean family rooms set up for nursing, diaper changing and relaxing. The Westfield Mall in Citrus Park also has a brand new play area, too– it will make a great stop-over in between trick-or-treating fun.

Be sure to visit the Westfield Citrus Park Facebook page here to learn more about the event.

Happy Halloween!

Full-disclosure postscript:

I am working directly with Westfield. I am being compensated as a member of the WFamily Influencer Program.

Family Updates at Westfield Mall in Citrus Park

I spent part of my day at Westfield Mall in Citrus Park yesterday. Yup, I was on another mission to see what is happening right now at one of my favorite malls. Not surprisingly, they had some new updates to share. So, now I am sharing these with you!

I swear it says Citrus… not Cipus.

The Westfield App

The folks at Westfield asked that I try out their new smartphone app. Well, I downloaded this new app and wound up using it before I even got INTO the mall. Why? I wanted to know which part of the parking lot had the most direct access to Starbucks. It worked. It also showed me what deals and discounts are happening at which stores in the mall. I could search by deal or type of store or search for a store and then find what deals are happening there before I head over. It also has a concierge option where you can ask it questions like: “WHERE ARE THE COOKIES?” And it told me to go to Blondies Cookies. Hooray! It would be kind of cool if it got more social and had some ways to see which of my friends had checked in to which stores or if any friends were hanging with their kids at the play area. Maybe someday… Oh and this app is FREE and can be used at any Westfield Mall. Learn more or download it here.

Family Activities

Westfield Malls are ALL about families. At Westfield Mall in Citrus Park, they offer Westfield Family Fun Days every third Thursday of the month at 4pm. They also offer a number of other events and promotions for families hosted by various mall retailers. Learn more here. Tampa folks: the next Family Fun Day is happening this coming Thursday, September 20th at 4:00pm!

Great play areas with cute kid-sized tables nearby.

But you know what really impresses me most about Westfield Malls? The family friendly spaces. In particular, the Family Rooms where there are clean, comfortable spaces for little ones to play and watch a little TV. They also have comfortable, private breastfeeding areas for moms. I know that back when I was breastfeeding on the hour, a lounge like this would have made an outing to the mall MUCH less overwhelming with my kids. Great job with this, Westfield. Other great spaces are the play areas — one of which is going to be newly renovated later in October at Citrus Park.

Family Lounge at Westfield Mall in Citrus Park

My kids and I had a blast yesterday. Shopping is much less of a pain when the kids have fun things to do, too.

I will leave you with this last cool bit of knowledge. Photobooths have gone social! For $5, my kids and I got three strips of cute pics and I got the chance to post them to Facebook, Twitter AND (for an additional fee of $1.49) upload the video of our picture taking session to YouTube!


Full-disclosure postscript:

I am working directly with Westfield. I am being compensated as a member of the WFamily Influencer Program.

Never Mind

So, Isaac didn’t amount to much here. I just went outside to see if I could even find a branch down or something impressive to post but… nope. Just a puddle. And a light breeze. Wow. We were VERY lucky. My thoughts go out to those who were affected. And to those who may still be in danger.

Back here in the bay area, it seems that Tampa and the GOP are faring JUST FINE according to this article published this morning.

I may have been panicking over nothing, really. But panicking is what I do here, I suppose. Especially if I’ve devoted an entire blog category to it. Ahem.

So, game on. The GOP can get back to losing their ever-loving minds and I can go back to wringing my hands over this election.

Thanks to our county and my office erring on the side of caution, the boys and I are home today. I’m working at my laptop while they tear apart the costume box and eat fig newtons from our hurricane food supply and play with the flashlights we had out in case of a power outage. Pretty sure forts are in their near future.

We’re safe and sound and out of any danger.

I’d like to think this guy may have had something to do with it. Costume box, FTW!

Standing Up To a Storm of Crazy

I’m looking out of my window right now, watching the first few light sprinkles of Hurricane Isaac begin. Folks aren’t expecting this storm to be as bad as it could be, but preparations are being made anyway. We have water, canned food, ice, batteries, a weather radio, board games at the ready, beer (hurricane party!) and our back porch cleared of projectiles.

While we anticipate this storm coming in, 50,000 GOP delegates are also arriving into Tampa for the RNC. Yep, 50,000 republicans are arriving into my little city while a hurricane gathers strength just south of here and city officials and security folks scramble, on high alert, madly shutting things down and battening down hatches and trying to make this place welcoming ALL at the same time.

How do I feel about all this?

I’m not from Tampa originally, but it has been my home for seven years. And right now I am feeling strangely over-protective of it.

I know. Florida gets a lot of crap for being… well… Florida. We are the butt of endless jokes. Some are deserved, many are not. I’m not sure what the hate is about, exactly. Every U.S. city and state has its nasty bits and its beautiful bits. But it’s as if Florida, almost like New Jersey, is allowed to be crapped on.

So, there’s that.

And Florida has had some tough times recently. Our Tea-party Governor’s approval rating is appalling (statistically, Lebron James actually fares better), funding for education has been drastically cut, empty homes are left everywhere, unemployment is a mess, on it goes… But we are trying to fight our way back and we’re seeing some good progress.

Now add 50,000 RNC delegates. And a hurricane.

Now cue MORE Florida jokes, GOP jokes and nation-wide cheers for destruction because that’s what they had coming to them. It’s FLORIDA, after all, with a bunch of republicans in it. HA HA!

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times, Instagram.

Hey, I’m a democrat and I’m not super fond of what these folks stand for but, people, be nice. I even wrote a post about why I welcome this convention to our city. For crying out loud, our little city was just sitting here, hoping to host a party for one side of the political coin, trying to stake out a little spot in the national spotlight… and now all of THIS.

THIS could totally kick Tampa’s ass and give all those convention-goers a bad taste in their mouth when remembering their time here. And it could just keep the rest of the nation laughing at us and making more jokes and not taking Tampa seriously for anything. Because when you try to do something serious here, a hurricane will just wipe it out anyway. So, why bother.


Maybe the storm won’t be a big deal. Just a lot of wind and rain. Hopefully, it just makes for a good story and lots of good times and a whole bunch of hurricane parties. And the sun will come out… and everyone will cheer and see the good… and the damage won’t be so bad… and all will be well!

(My optimism = DENIAL.)

Yesterday, my family decided to spend our pre-storm time with some local beauty before it got crazy. We headed over to Clearwater Beach and took some pics in between periods of rainfall. It was beautiful. Because it IS beautiful here.


I got your back, Tampa. Hopefully some of our visitors — and those tuning in to watch this crazy — will, too. Now, pass the warm beer and flashlights!

*drizzle, drizzle. gentle breezes.*

Er. OK, just pass the warm beer, then.

Tampa WTSP A-List: Best Local Blogger

All I can offer here are lots of words, a few amateur photos and some attempt at connection. But I have a whole lot of faith in words and connection. And, it seems, some readers have some faith in me, too.

I’m very honored to share that I have been voted “Best Local Blogger” for a Tampa A-list contest on WTSP DealChicken.com.

Thank you.

No, really.

I don’t do this for anything other than fun and, like I said, connection. My only reward is that amazing feeling of satisfaction when I have WRITTEN… and someone kind of liking what I have to say.

I feel like I just got a HUGE payout. Your vote of confidence means that much.

Again, my humble thanks.

And I hope to keep seeing you around these parts.

– Caroline

Erase Hate Festival in Tampa

I’m kind of proud of Tampa.

Damn, I hope that doesn’t sound too condescending. But I really am.

It’s not news to anyone reading here when I share that I am a huge supporter of LBGT rights and that I kind of can’t see straight when any person, law, idea or organization segregates, discriminates or excludes a person for their sexual orientation, gender, race, class, any of it. But you all know this, color me “bleeding heart”, it’s what I stand behind. So there.

Florida, meanwhile, has had an, ahem, shaky past with some LBGT and race issues. And that has made me less than proud to live here sometimes. For example, when I first moved here, same sex couple were not allowed to adopt. Mind-blowing.

However, as of 2009, this changed. (Breathe out sigh of relief.)

And, more recently, Tampa has put forward a couple initiatives to try and get things on the right track towards less discrimination, also.

Firstly, Tampa has recently created a domestic partnership registry — the first of it’s kind on this area. It would offer partnered couples more rights as family than it did before. I’m thrilled to hear this. It’s not perfect. But it’s a start.

Also, and what I am all fired up about today, Tampa is hosting it’s first Erase Hate Festival this weekend, on April 21st. I am thrilled about it. With family activities happening all afternoon and great musical performers on stage in the evening, I think this is pretty much one of the best ideas Tampa has had in awhile to foster an open, accepting community — at least in my humble opinion.

One of my dearest friends also happens to be a DIE HARD Brandi Carlile fan. Brandi is the featured performer on Saturday. So, my friend has bought a plane ticket down here and has managed to win two V.I.P. tickets for both of us.

*cue squee… now…*


So, we all kinds of fired up for this. And I kind of think that anyone in the Tampa Bay area should be, too.

Did I mention that this event is FREE?

I think you should go. I do. If you live around here, I mean.

Here are the details. Follow them on Twitter here. They are on Facebook, too.

See you there?

PLEASE NOTE: THE EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED. Hoping I can attend when it is rescheduled.

Best Local Blogger Nominee

Hold on. A nomination for best Local Blogger in Tampa?

Say what?

I’ve been typing away on this here blog for over four years now. By now, I consider this space on the internets my dear, sweet friend. From the start, it was a place to use my brain while I raised my babies, kick around a couple ideas and, most importantly, connect with others kind of like me. I’ve found friendship, adventure, cool products to try out, a love for social media and even, in a round about way, a job and new career.

But no matter what fun it has brought me and no matter how hard I’ve worked on this little blog of mine, it has always existed because it was fun and enjoyable and therapeutic for me. And if it wasn’t fun or seemed like too much work, I took a break. I write when the feeling moves me and don’t let anyone call the shots here but me.

So, when I get any kind of public recognition for the work I do here or the way that I connect with my community, I stop, look all around and then ask… “Who, me?”

It’s kind of like when I was 12 and lip-syncing to “Like A Virgin” in front of my dusty and stickered bedroom mirror. I thought I was pretty bad-ass, and if they were going to pick the coolest Madonna wanna-be then, well, that would be moi. But if someone were to storm into my room with a big smile and slap an award on my shirt and tell me I’m awesome for my unmatched Madonna lip-syncing skillz… I’d say exactly the same thing.

“Who me?”

The local CBS news affiliate WTSP and DealChicken.com have nominated me as one of the best local bloggers in Tampa.

I am very honored. Really. I truly appreciate the recognition.

I like what I do here. But it’s all kind of blush-worthy when someone else OTHER than my wonderful (however, far from objective) family members like what I do here, too.


If you want to vote, click on the button below. Your recognition means more than you know.

If you feel the need, leave a comment so that I can thank-you properly, too.

Because it’s not everyday that something I do — simply for the sake of JOY — actually gets recognition. But when that day happens along, it is always a very good day.


An Open Letter to Simon Le Bon’s Mullet

Dear Simon Le Bon and the mullet you sported in 1985,

Sure, sure. I know. The term “mullet” is most certainly synonymous with certain 80’s flashback films and is one that folks tend to use in… ahem… jest. But that is not what I am doing here. No jesting at all, I promise you, so please read on.

Simon Le Bon

My dear Simon, you made the mullet HOT. You wore it so well back then. So well, in fact, that’s why people like my husband and other 30-something men who grew up around that era thought it was a good idea in the first place. It was cool as hell, and a little punk rock. It was toying with androgynous, probably somehow inspired by early 80’s Bowie, which pushed the envelope and challenged the norm. And women everywhere got all hot and bothered over breath-taking men with subtle (or not so subtle) women’s features. Like longish, well-styled hair. And that was a little crazy and dangerous and something our fathers did NOT like. And there was nothing wrong with that! Nothing wrong at all.


Ok, let me get to the point I am trying to make. I am thrilled to be one of the Duran Social bloggers and will be *giddily* attending your concert in Clearwater next Monday. My previously mullet-sporting husband will be there with me (after listening to HIS Duran Duran “best of” CD in the car on the way there… yes we have a CD player, lucky we don’t have an old tape going… and I would have had one of those if I hadn’t traded in my old Saturn last year… but I digress…). So, anyway, I was wondering. Is there no hope at all that you could grow out that mullet of yours again???

I know. It’s Wednesday. And the concert is Monday. These hopes and dreams of mine are damn near impossible. I know it can’t happen. But if it can’t, at least know this. I respect and adore your mullet days. Deeply. I promise you, there is not ONE ounce of disrespect or condescension in this post. I mean it. I loved your mullet. And I had a frayed poster magazine pull-out once upon a time to prove it. I swooned over you and your locks and, well, it kind of got me through puberty.

So, I guess if I can’t see your mullet next Monday, I can at least thank you for it. Right? So thank you. It. Was. Fabulous.

True Morningside Mom Duran Duran Facts:

  • With teased hair, leg warmers and a red double studded belt on, I used to make up dances in my front yard to the song “Wild Boys” which played on my shiny new boom box. And I secretly longed for some Wild Boys in my life apart from what my Catholic middle school had to offer.
  • I may have chosen certain guys to flirt with in High School simply because they kind of looked like Simon Le Bon. (Yes, they had mullets.)
  • “Come Undone” was a college party panty-melter tune for me. No questions asked.
  • My OB let me pick the radio station I wanted on during my second C-section. I picked the local 80’s station. And what song happened to be playing when my now five year old arrived into the world? “Hungry Like the Wolf.”  The child never stops eating, and it remains his anthem.

Thank you for over 20 years of fantastic music. I can’t wait to see you on Monday, and whatever is left of the mullet from so many years past.

Swoon and smooches,


P.S. I’ll be the blond screaming your name in a spastic “Beatle-fan” froth next to a very tall, very mortified man who won’t be screaming at all.

P.P.S. For anyone who loved Simon and his mullet as hard as I did, Duran Duran tour dates are here.

P.P.P.S. Social media savvy super-fans, follow Duran Duran tweets at #Duransocial.