Triggering Vacation Memories with Scents #SensationalMemories

Have you ever been going about your business when all of a sudden you stop in place because you are struck by a certain smell that brings back all of these memories? This has happened to me a few times and it’s not surprising because scents are a very powerful trigger. My favorite memories triggered by scents are always ones that bring me back to certain family vacations.

For our family, we tend to go to two different places for our vacations – Walt Disney World and Gulf Shores. A few months ago, my husband and I were outside in the evening. It was a cool night, the breeze shifted a different way and all of a sudden I was overcome with memories of the beach. Something about the breeze combined with a smell in the air brought on these memories and I didn’t want to let go – I was ready to book another trip to the beach!

Gulf Shores Bird

The same has happened to us with memories of Walt Disney World. My husband and I will be overcome with a scent in the air – whether it’s rain coming or the strong smell of popcorn making us think of Main Street and we will be transported right back to the Happiest Place on Earth.

SCM Disney

I love that certain scents can transport you to another place and time with memories! Arm & Hammer Laundry knows that and for the first time, they have launched a collection with scents inspired by nature in partnership with the National Park Foundation.

The newest Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations line gives your clothes the pristine freshness of the great outdoors. All three options include Arm & Hammer Baking Soda to help power out dirt and odors – at a fraction of the cost. Find out more about the products here!

Win a Trip to Yosemite National Park!

Do you have a scent that brings you back to a favorite family vacation? Arm & Hammer and Scholastic have teamed up and are giving away a family trip to Yosemite National Park!

Scholastic is also partnering with Arm & Hammer to provide families with 20 Great Outdoor trip ideas on it’s Smart Family Travel platform. Find out why to go, what to do and where to stay at each destination. Also included are fun activities for kids! Each destination comes with a printable to teach them a thing or two about where they’ll be.

Enter the Sensational Memories Contest!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Arm & Hammer. The opinions and text are all mine.

Taking Toddlers to Egypt

 

 

Traveling with toddlers always proves to be a bit of a challenge for most moms, and further problems present themselves when taking them to hotter climes. Holidays to Egypt invite families to explore its beautiful and intriguing lands. The high temperatures and longer flight haul might put you off it flying with young children, but here are a few tips to help you out and ease any hassle.

Traveling to Egypt with Toddlers
What to pack

Toddlers usually need a lot of items when travelling, with the essentials being wipes, diapers, changing pads, medicine, plastic bags and extra clothing. If you are a first-time traveller to Egypt, packing more than enough is the better strategy as you never know. It’s possible, for example, that you could arrive late at night only to find, that most of the shops at your destination closed for the day, when you badly need another set of diapers for the baby.

Moreover, you should remember to pack an umbrella stroller as it will help immensely, especially during those long waiting periods at the airport. A backpack is also recommended as it will free up your hands enabling you to manoeuvre the stroller more easily.

Don’t forget the entertainment 

Entertainment is a huge part of any toddler’s life and once they start squirming from discomfort due to the noises, strange surroundings, not to mention new faces, you automatically expect a trip predominated by tantrums and screams, and that’s when you know it’s time to rack it up a notch. You can achieve this by simply picking them up and being playful, which they’ll love, or offer them a favourite toy to play with. Be sure to take along their favourite teddy! These little distractions will go a long way. The amazing sights of pyramids, tombs and shrines will also surely grab their attention, for a moment or two at least.

Choose the right time to travel 

The weather in Egypt is a defining factor if you are looking to go there on holiday with your toddler. It is generally hot and sunny most of the time, but has a cool winter, which lasts from November to February, with temperatures during the day being generally mild and around 20 C cool at night. On the other hand, summer temperatures are 35 C on average with intense humidity, which can make things very uncomfortable, especially for the toddler. As such, the best time to travel to Egypt is in between the months of October and May, when temperatures are medial most of the time.

The most important thing is that you and your toddlers have a fun trip, exploring all that Egypt has to offer.

Have you ever visited Egypt with kids? 

 

Guest Post

 

Disney Studios, Here I Come! DVD & Blu-Ray Releases #PirateFairyBloggers #FrozenBluray

 

 

Next week I will be taking a short plane ride to sunny Los Angeles for a quick but incredibly magical three day trip and I can’t wait to tell you about it! Melissa is amazing to let me step in for her and I promise to do my best in sharing with you all of the amazing Disney coverage. Trust me, it’s going to be a really, really good time. You will want to keep up with the party on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #PirateFairyBloggers and #FrozenBluray!

I’m not going to deny it, we have seen FROZEN in the theater three times. The first time was a fun night out when Dad had to work late. We all fell in love with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and the rest of the characters. My kids adored Olaf so much that my five year old son declared in a very serious (and not open to any discussion) tone, that from now on all of our snowmen must be named Olaf! The second was because Dad hadn’t seen it and the third was my daughter’s choice for her birthday night. I guess I don’t have to tell you that we have already pre-ordered FROZEN!

Frozen Blu-ray

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents a chilly twist on one of the most humorous and heartwarming stories ever told. “Disney Animation’s best since The Lion King” (William Bibbiani, CraveOnline) will melt your heart.

Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Did you see the exclusive preview of The Pirate Fairy during the Super Bowl? I missed it too! Here is a peek into the new adventure starring Zarina:

 

Pirate Fairy Blu-ray

From the world of “Peter Pan” comes “The Pirate Fairy,” a swashbuckling new adventure about Zarina (voice of Christina Hendricks), a smart and ambitious dust-keeper fairy who’s captivated by Blue Pixie Dust and its endless possibilities. When Zarina’s wild ideas get her into trouble, she flees Pixie Hollow and joins forces with the scheming pirates of Skull Rock, who make her captain of their ship. Tinker Bell (voice of Mae Whitman) and her friends must embark on an epic adventure to find Zarina, and together they go sword-to-sword with the band of pirates led by a cabin boy named James (voice of Tom Hiddleston), who’ll soon be known as Captain Hook himself. With laughter, heart, magic and thrills, “The Pirate Fairy” sets sail April 1, 2014.

Back to this exciting Disney trip… here is what is on the tentative agenda:

Monday, February 10th 

  • Travel to Los Angeles and check in at the Sheraton Universal Hotel.

Tuesday, February 11th

  • Travel to Walt Disney Animation Studios for a behind the scenes look at the making of FROZEN including:  
    • Q&A with Director, Chris Buck and Producers, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
    • Hands-on demonstration of the Rigging process lead by Character TC Supervisor, Gregory Smith
    • Voice-over recording session with FROZEN’S Audio Engineer, Gabe Guy

Wednesday, February 12th 

  • Travel to the DisneyToon Studios for a look at THE PIRATE FAIRY including:
    • Advance screening of the THE PIRATE FAIRY
    • Sit down with THE PIRATE FAIRY Director Peggy Holmes and Producer  Jennifer Magee-Cook
    • Walk through the creation of “Zarina”, The Pirate Fairy from story to character design to animation

Did you catch the part about the voice-over recording session? VOICE-OVER! Aghhh! I’m going to be standing in the same studio where all of the biggest talents have made Disney’s most loved characters come to life. And if I happen to get the chance to do a voice-over for a character, and you happen to hear it, you have to promise to not laugh!

And on Tuesday we will also be visiting Walt Disney Studios to… I can’t tell you yet! It’s a surprise! So make sure you stay tuned in so you don’t miss it.

Okay, well… I am off to make my trip-list. Yes, I do this before every trip. Nerdy, I know. But tell me, what questions do you have for me to ask the film makers and creative teams behind FROZEN or The Pirate Fairy?

Disclosure: Disney is providing an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles including travel, accommodations and activities. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own. 

CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park is a Family-Friendly Getaway!

 

 

My family recently got the opportunity to stay at the CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park in Orlando, on International Drive (which, as you may know, is a very popular and fun area of Orlando to visit and vacation).  After dropping off the twins with both sets of grandparents in blustery Indiana, the three of us (Me, Husband Keith and son Isaac) headed toward the sunny skies of sweet, sweet Orlando.

ExteriorImage

Our first impression was that we drove past the hotel.  Oops.  From the photos online, it didn’t seem like there could be a cool tropical hotel smack-dab amongst all these buildings, but yes, there it is!  We drove in, went to the front desk and were greeted by an extremely friendly young lady who set us up with our room keys and welcomed us to the hotel.  The lobby is a welcoming place with things to do for kids and adults of all ages.  It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and I cannot begin to convey how absolutely friendly and helpful ALL the staff were to us.  Very gracious hospitality!

There is a business center (out in the open so kids can be monitored), a corner TV station, a nice open layout lounge area and a kids play area called Club Key!

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CoCo Key Business center

CoCo Key TV Lounge

coco keyOur room, which was actually a suite with 2 queen beds, was just as was pictured.  It has clean, updated décor and extremely comfortable Serta Perfect Sleeper beds.  Truthfully, it was at least 10 times more comfortable than my bed at home!  It was clean, comfortable, and spacious.    There was a mini fridge, digital safe, flat screen TB, desk, coffee/tea maker, hairdryer, full ironing board and free Wi-Fi.  Regretfully, I did not take a picture of the bathroom so the third image is a stock photo.  I did take the photo of our beds and the couch as part of our suite.  Ignore the bed bumps, we had already taken a nap in it! LOL!

COUCH

ROOM

Bathroom

I just loved this sign!  It felt like vacation!  Isaac was holding up a bowling pin keyring he got from a local bowling alley for his first time bowling!  So cute.

direction sign

 

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Because we were here during off-season, the water park was closed the days we were there.  Isaac was disappointed but the weather was just not warm enough.  We did see people swimming in the pool, but our thin Texas blood just didn’t allow for swimming in 70 degree weather!  Too cold!  Despite is being closed, we were able to walk around and look at everything and it looks AMAZING!  The photos I took were not as true-to-life as the stock photos, so I will share these instead.  There is a LARGE canopy-covered water park area (the only one in Orlando!) so kids who can play without the harmful rays of the Florida sun.  VERY nice!

Aerial View

Under the Canopy

Bucket

Boomerango2

There is also a HUGE (6500 sq. ft.) arcade with a mini bowling alley and cool games!

Key Quest Arcade

We ate dinner at TradeWinds restaurant next to the arcade and it served affordable, family-friendly meals.  There is also a food court featuring Pizza Hut Express and Callaloo Grill, as well as the Wet Rooster Tiki Bar for Mom and Dad to grab some adult beverages.

Tradewinds Restaurant

You may even run into CoCo (the namesake of the hotel and water park) himself!

CoCo and Friends

Whether or not your stay is part of a larger visit to Orlando (2 miles to Universal Orlando Resort, 4 miles to SeaWorld, and 10 miles to Walt Disney World) or a one-stop family vacation, I think CoCo Key Hotel and Water Park can fit just about any family’s idea of a fun getaway!

Make sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Disclosure: I was provided free accommodations at CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park Orlando.  All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always.

Opening Soon: The Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios

 

 

When my family visits Orlando, Florida, one of our favorite places to visit is Universal Orlando! We love visiting both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, there’s so much fun for each member of the family!

Universal Heath

 

I’m so excited to share with you about their latest resort, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort!

Swizzle Lounge - Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is Universal Orlando Resort’s fourth on-site hotel with striking color schemes and nifty, nostalgic details throughout the décor. The new 1,800 room hotel features moderately priced family suites available this spring at the special preview price and value-priced guest rooms available in summer of 2014 along with a wealth of recreation. When complete, guests can experience a 10-lane bowling alley and enjoy two massive pools with sand beaches, a lazy river, waterslide and more!

Doesn’t that sound amazing?! We can’t wait to get down to Orlando to stay here because with our family of 5, it’s definitely an affordable option for us!

The all-new family suites sleep up to six, surrounding guests with bold design, period colors, neon and a cool retro feel. The suites also feature a kitchenette with microwave, mini-refrigerator and sink. Combining affordability with convenience, the hotel’s location is within walking distance of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Plus, hotel guests enjoy Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens. With three kids, it’s worth it just being able to get into the parks early!

Right now, there is an awesome rate that you’ll want to grab up!

This limited time offer includes:

• Incredible rates for the entire family to enjoy all-new family suites

-   Seven-night stay: as low as $104 per night

-   Five-night stay:  as low as $108 per night

-   Three-night stay:  as low as $134 per night

• On-site convenience – the hotel is within walking distance of Universal’s two theme parks and Universal CityWalk

• Early Park Admission to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (when guests purchase theme park tickets)

 

**Package is available for purchase now through January 31, 2014 for travel March

31, 2014 through June 14, 2014.

**Theme park tickets are not included.

**Blockout dates may apply.

Connect with Universal Orlando

Facebook: Universal Orlando Resort

Twitter: @UniversalORL

Instagram: @UniversalOrlando

Will you be checking out the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando?