Category Archives: family

Bon Voyage 2010: Going on a Disney Cruise because 2+3+3+7=50

For New Year’s my family is taking a Disney Cruise to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  So, we’ve come up with a slogan: 2+3+3+7=50

2=My parents

Married on December 19, 1960 in All Saints Episcopal Church,  my parents have figured out the key to success.

My parents at the Lazy 3 Ranch in Winter Park

+3=My two brothers and me

I had a magical childhood growing up in Winter Park on a “ranch” which now sits in the middle of Aloma Ave. and 436. Go figure that the city would grow up so fast around us!

Top 5 editor Bess Auer with her brothers.

+3=Our spouses

Yep, our family grew by three more in just two years. I got married in All Saints Church (just like my parents as well as my grandparents!) and then my brothers followed suit by getting married less than two years later.

Top 5 editor Bess Auer getting married at All Saints Church in Winter Park

+7=Our children

While I only have one child, my brothers had three each. Our family has grown by quite a bit since my parents married in 1960!

The 7 grandchildren

So now you know where we got 2+3+3+7=50!

And, to celebrate that 50, my mother wanted to do something that my father and she could share and enjoy with all of us, including my niece with special needs. A cruise seemed like the perfect choice, but not only that, she chose a DISNEY Cruise!

Needless to say between the family time, playing and relaxing, as well as the spotty wi-fi on ship, the Top 5 will not be blogging, tweeting, or Facebooking while on the cruise. (I feel the withdrawal already setting in!)

I am signing off until 2011; however, some big changes will be in store for when I come back. Thanks to Seventh Degree, Inc., the Top 5 will have a brand new look! (Yay!)  Not only will there be a totally new design with some incredible features, I am also stoked about some new additions.

Meghann Anderson, blogger extraordinaire of Meals and Miles, has agreed to be my “Go to Fitness Girl” for exercising in Central Florida.  She’ll not only be reviewing the many racing and fitness events around town (she’s done most of them!), she’ll also be giving tips and advice about staying and living healthy in Central Florida. I am so honored she’s agreed to “come aboard” the Top 5! (Did you like my boat reference there? I’m so ready for the cruise! Ha!)

So, until the launch of our new blog design, have a wonderful New Year!

Note: I do have house guests taking care of the casa and pets while we’re cruising… can you imagine the kennel bill for 3 cats and 3 dogs?!  My special guest is a former student (believe it or not! Oh, am I getting old!) who is staying here with her family. I hope she enjoys Orlando and I hope the weather warms up for them!

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Filed under disney, family, History, Just for Me

Things to do in Orlando with Holiday Guests

So Christmas has come and gone and many of us are counting down to New Year’s. The theme parks are busy and shopping is still at full tilt, but I received a question via Twitter from @Orlando_FL_Rep asking what they could do with guests this week besides the theme parks. Many of us might be in a similar situation, so I thought I’d put together some suggestions, and I tried to think mostly indoors, as it is still pretty cold outside. I am sure there are other great things to do, so feel free to add your ideas in the comments section!

Kids/Family

Winter Park

Orlando Arts

Mount Dora

Antiquing/Thrift Shopping

Sanford

Botanical

Sports

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Filed under Citrus Bowl, family, Fun, General Info

Merry Christmas from the Top 5

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! To those in Central Florida who have struggled during 2010, may your burden be lightened in 2011. To those of us who are fortunate, let’s include in our New Year’s resolutions a pledge to do a bit extra for our neighbors in need. (If you need a suggestion of how to share, take a look at this list supplied by our readers.)

As for us here at the Top 5, we are thankful for a healthy, happy season, and we are especially thankful for you, our readers. Although we’re hoping for a mild winter, we’re dreaming of a White Christmas today! (Anyone up for snow skiing?)

 

Top 5 editor Bess Auer and family.

 

 

 

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New Year’s Eve in Orlando – Top 5 Ways to Ring in 2011

Of course there are many places to have a rocking New Year’s Eve in the Central Florida area. Most of the local clubs will be having parties, as well as all the theme parks, each ending in a fabulous fireworks show. But to narrow down your choices, here’s where we are recommending that will be sure to be a great end to 2010 and awesome start to 2011.

Long a favorite because of its party atmosphere, ring in the New Year with a concert featuring Bret Michaels!

From Universal's website

Picture nine different venues at this block party!  This is perhaps Orlando’s largest New Year’s Eve event, featuring an outdoor dance floor. Nice!

A repeat of last year’s theme, the Enzian always has plenty of character on-hand for a great time. Here’s a video to show what’s in store:
A true family event with activities for children, classic rock n’ roll, rides, and fireworks at midnight.

Another family place with great restaurants and shops, both open late for the party. And, listen to bands throughout the night, including VonRay and the Mo Geetz Band until fireworks at midnight.

VonRay

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Toys for Tots – Alive and Well in Central Florida

As a parent and teacher, I know that creating empathy in children (especially as they grow into teenagers) is not the easiest thing to do. Some children that are generous by nature when young, may become possessive and clingy later on; others seem to have self-centerdness invade as they grow. However, this is all the natural development of a child as he or she discovers himself and self-identity is explored.

However, that doesn’t mean we quit trying to reinforce the necessity of helping others, and this time of year presents a wonderful opportunity for children to “have to” give a little.  By modeling to children that sharing and giving is the right thing to do, that helping others also ultimately helps ourselves, then little by little, they will internalize this. The Marine Corps Toys for Tots provides an excellent springboard for this lesson.

Park Maitland School recently teamed with some local businesses to help drive a hugely successful toy drive.  Parents and teachers spent time discussing helping those less fortunate and how the students could make another child happy on Christmas day.

This is a concrete example that almost all children easily understand without much teaching: Toy = Happiness.

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The Top 5 applauds all the schools in the area who are busy teaching Central Florida’s children more than just letters and numbers, but are teaching them to become responsible, serving citizens… awesome!

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Filed under Charity, family, Seasonal

Invest Locally, Central Florida

With 2010 quickly wrapping up, I find myself counting my blessings.  I still have a job, my family is safe and healthy, I have a coat and boots for when it is cold, and although I don’t cook, I have food on the table for every meal.  This is far more than many Central Floridians can say this year.

I think back over the news of the economy this year, and reflect on the number of workers who have been laid off here…NASA, Sea World, fellow teachers and public relation specialists are some of the companies and titles that come to mind of friends that have lost their jobs. My thoughts are with them!

This time two years ago, my family was grieving the passing of my brother, who left behind three young children. I know the pain of losing a family member and realize time does not make it better, only more bearable.  He is one of the main reasons the Top 5 supports the American Lung Association – Central Region.  Along with my brother’s passing, my niece who has special needs has caused me to also support the Special Olympics of Florida. Both are worthy organizations that reach out to others. My thoughts are with anyone who is suffering or trying best they can to make their way.

I often see pleas from the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida for winter coats, blankets, etc., asking for people to donate these items.  Last winter my son used his money to buy blankets to donate; perhaps he will be moved to do it again this year. Those in need never end, and my thoughts are with them, especially during this unusually cold winter!

And beyond the physical comforts, food banks like Second Harvest are always providing a necessary service, so my thoughts are with those who are not only donating food, time, and money, but also those who find it necessary to rely on the food bank for their daily bread.

Thinking along these lines, I asked my Twitter followers which local organization they supported, and I was pleased with the large response:

Nathaniel’s Hope

Mercy Drive Ministries

Hadassah

Susan G. Komen of Central Florida

Children’s Home Society

Harbor House

Pet Rescue by Judy

The Russell Home

New Hope for Kids

Give Kids the World

Orlando’s local humane societies

Relay for Life (all around the Central Florida area)

Valencia Giving

B.A.S.E. Camp

Salvation Army

Girls on the Run

BETA Center

Orlando Union Rescue Mission

I certainly hope you will take the time to click each link to see what each organization is about. And, if you know of a worthy organization that is not listed here, please add it in the comments.

The wonderful thing about living in Central Florida is the people themselves; let’s invest in each other… because together we can overcome anything!

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Filed under Charity, family, General Info, Non-profit, Orlando

Orlando Live – A Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes

Last night I had the opportunity to get a backstage look at Orlando Live, a kicking local broadcast featuring all things about the City Beautiful. Viewers can tune in for the live show or watch past episodes on-demand. I had never been behind the scenes at a working television studio during a broadcast before, so it was quite the experience!

Orlando Live is filmed in Studio 1A at Full Sail, an exciting place all on its own; especially the Backlot area! (By the way, the nationally syndicated morning television show The Daily Buzz is filmed in Studio 1B, right next door! Cool!)

Studio 1A at Full Sail

So, I arrived an hour-and-a-half early in order to watch the run through of the show as well as a walk through of my own segment so the camera people could figure out their angles, shots, etc. I couldn’t believe how many people it takes to produce this show… lots of camera men, sound guys, directors, prop people, production staff, etc. I was very impressed!

I took a seat in a green room of sorts (ironically it had one wall painted green–for a green screen probably) along with the two other bloggers being featured, Kim Taylor and Ashley K. Edwards, both of the Pulse of Central Florida.

Kim Taylor, Bess Auer, and Ashley Edwards

After a short run-through, we were fitted for microphones and then ready to go.  In the studio audience were Kyle Menard from Brink Magazine as well as my hubby @swimmerjoe and his younger brother, Tyson Auer, a stand-out-baseball player from UCF who is getting a shot at playing with the Angels this spring. Tyson brought a few other friends to support me as well… and I needed it because I was nervous!

SwimmerJoe in the studio audience

Uber-Host Peter Murphy came back to chat for a few minutes before we went live… I don’t know how he stays so calm and relaxed just moments before broadcasting!

Bess and host Peter Murphy moments before the show's live broadcast

Well, the show began and I got the opportunity to shoot a few quick pics before my segment:

The control room

House music

Singer Aaron Childree and band

Colleen Burns presenting a Yelp segment with her assistant, Haley the Yorkie

And then it was time for the blogger segment, so Kim, Ashley, and I took our seats by Peter.  I wanted to capture the moment, and I just had time to quickly shoot this movie with my iPhone, with only seconds to spare!

Our segment began and in his casual manner, Peter set us at ease and got us talking about blogging about the Orlando scene.  Kim and Ashley seemed like old pros and I found myself beginning to enjoy it, too. Suddenly, though, just as Peter was interviewing me, my phone buzzed with my son texting me… Peter grabbed my phone! Talk about bad timing!  But at least my son was thrilled to get a “shout out” on a live broadcast!

Top 5 editor Bess Auer being interviewed live.

Well, I made it through the broadcast and loved it!  If you haven’t ever seen Orlando Live, I highly recommend you peruse some of the past episodes “on demand” at their Vimeo site.  It’s a great place to find out loads of info about our great city as well as hear some fabulous local musicians of note.

After I got home, I had a chance to go through my hubby’s swag bag he snagged as a studio audience member. It was provided by Yelp Orlando and was loaded with fun stuff. If you are not familiar with Yelp, it is an awesome site to find out anything about local places, such as restaurants, eateries, coffee shops, day spas, etc. Colleen Burns does a really incredible job heading it up, and I loved talking with her last night. (And her little cutie pie Haley, too!)

Swag from Yelp Orlando

I will post my segment just as soon as I get a copy, but in the meantime you can watch the full program here.  Thanks for a great time, Orlando Live!  You are now a regular program for me to watch… simply awesome!

To see more photos from last night, visit the Top 5 Facebook page.

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Filed under Blogger Extraordinaire, family, Fun, Orlando

December 7: Never Forget

While no living American will ever forget 9-11, many do not have any particular images come to mind when December 7 is mentioned. Shame on us for forgetting. Shame on us for not remembering.

“A day that will live in infamy.”

December 7 is the day the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, dragging America into the second World War. Just as today’s War on Terror affects many Americans, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who did not have a relative involved in WWII. I did.

My grandfather served in the war. He was a Lieutenant Colonel who at one time had a whole unit under his command. He wasn’t a soldier; he was an attorney, one that served in Orlando for over 50 years.  I’ve often heard the story of how his men were sitting around drinking one night and began to question my grandfather’s command.  He pulled out his gun and shot a bottle some thirty yards off (by sheer dumb luck!) and that put an end to their questioning.  After the war he dutifully worked the Nuremberg Trials. My mother still tells of how she and her mother were the first shipload of dependents to go over to Europe after the war’s end. But I never heard my grandfather speak of the war.

Top 5 editor's Bess Auer's grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Kohloss

In addition to my grandfather, my uncle served in World War II.  In fact he died during the war. He was a bombardier and his plane was shot down over enemy territory. We have pictures of his gravestone in France.

It’s a strange world in which we live; a world where so many young men (and women) lost their lives in a war that so few now pay attention to, so few now remember.

Fortunately there are people like Harry Meisel, who just recently passed away. Harry fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was a true local legend, having taught three generations of Central Floridians to swim. Harry was also instrumental in establishing a World War II memorial right here in Orlando, now located on the northeast corner of Lake Eola.  Harry strongly believed Central Floridians should understand the sacrifice Central Floridians made for the cause. I agree.

I am thankful for people like Harry and my grandfather and my uncle.  I am thankful for those willing to fight not only for my rights and freedoms, but for the rights and freedoms of others.

So, if you are one of those who did not recognize December 7 as a day of infamy, please take a moment to now be thankful for those who served in World War II. They are indeed the Greatest Generation.

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Filed under family, History, Just for Me, Out of Orlando, Resident done good

Cyber Monday is Killing Me (Wait until my son gets home from school!)

Yep, it is Cyber Monday, the online shopping equivalent of Black Friday. And as I cruise the internet and all my assorted social media sites, I can’t help but get eyefuls of the deals out there.  Of course, on Black Friday all I had to do was stay away from the malls and shut off the local news.

With Cyber Monday, though, it is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!

Deals popping up in my inbox, streaming across websites, ads on Facebook and running down fan page walls, and even Twitter has its share of ads. UGH! I might actually be tempted into spending money I shouldn’t…STOP IT!

I can’t get away from it…My son even texted me from school informing me about the Cyber Monday deals:

“Since it’s Cyber Monday, prices will be slashed. Would you pretty please go to apple or best buy and buy some Beats by Dr. Dre, the big chunky kind, not the small skinny kind, and use it as a Christmas present? They are marked down by $300 and it’s a great deal. These were on my Xmas list and I really want them. Thank you so much for considering this Mommy. I love you and have a good day.”

I chose to ignore this since there is NO WAY I am getting a teenager earphones that cost hundreds of dollars.  So, a few minutes later I get a second text:

“Or a Kinect for Xbox 360 cuz those are slightly cheaper but that is fun for the whole family! 🙂 Just the kinect I think not the Xbox 360 that comes with it.”

I don’t even know what a Kinect is, so I again ignored the message, wondering what class he was in and asking myself why he was texting me in the middle of it!  Then, a few minutes later:

“Have a good day 😉 This will help us bond as a family and prices have SEVERELY dropped.”

Okay, so my son knows what buttons to push…family bonding, cheerful wishings to me… yeah, a born salesman. And I do admire the all caps on SEVERELY to emphasize the savings I will be getting. Nice touch.

So, Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketers, congratulations!  You have won!  You have bullied me through my son into spending money I don’t want to spend. No, he won’t be getting any Dr. Dre headphones for hundreds of dollars, and I don’t even know what this Kinect is, but I’m pretty sure Amazon is having some good deals on books today….he he he.

(He’s going to need a good book after losing his phone for texting in class!)

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Filed under family, Just for Me, Seasonal

Cranes Roost: Light Up the Holidays

If you are looking for a free way to celebrate the holiday spirit, Crane’s Roost at Uptown Altamonte is an excellent place to spend the evening.

This lakeside park setting was created twenty years ago by the city to give residents a central place to gather for different events. The annual Fourth of July’s Red, Hot, and Boom! is held there as well as many other festivals and get-togethers.  And, what we like best is the large sidewalk provides an easy stroll around the lake, and it is almost exactly one mile in distance. Good way to keep track of your exercise, no?

Crane’s Roost annual holiday display of lights starts on December 4 and lasts through January. Your family can also enjoy special music, live entertainment, fireworks, and of course Santa and Mrs. Claus. The region’s largest Christmas tree will be on display as well as the Holiday Fountain show. Food and drink will be available for purchase throughout the venue, and parking is close by.

And all this for FREE! Sounds like a  deal to us!

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