Family Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Little Mermaid Room

Is Art of Animation Resort the best choice for your Disney World Resort money?  Here's all the fun details of a stay at in the Little Mermaid Rooms. From the Awesome Cars and Finding Nemo pools, to the drawings and character design you'll find throughout this resort, it's a family Disney Vacation delight. Room Photos, the Food Court, and Disney Transportation... plus how far is it to Magic Kingdom from the Art of Animation Value Resort?  I'm a pretty strong advocate for always staying at a Disney World Resort.  Between that and being a Value Resort fan, I was very excited when the newest addition Art of Animation opened in 2012.   This whimsical, incredibly family-friendly resort has four Disney movie themed areas.  Three of them consist of family suites:  Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.  Although these rooms look spacious and awesome, alas - for my family of four, a suite is unnecessary.  And with a nightly suite rate that is comparable to staying at a Disney … [Read more...]

FREE Summer Reading & Activity Program ~ Bug Camp

As a parent of two school aged children, I confess I don't worry too much about "stopping the summer slide".  In Western Colorado, their summers off from school are precious and short.  They need a break. But I have already noticed the antsy boredom.  And the too-much-screen time.  So when I heard of Cricket Media's free summer reading and activity program, I immediately checked out the site.  They've got a great calendar set up, with something new to check each day.  So far I'm seeing downloadable activities that inspire reading and getting outside to explore with a nature bingo hunt.  Very cool! This *just* started, so now's a great time to get started and check it out! Free Summer Reading Program ~ Bug Camp 2017 Cricket Media invites families everywhere to discover a world of adventure and learning with BUG CAMP 2017!  This free summer reading program launches June 5th. Created with engaging content from Cricket Media's award-winning magazines for children and teens, … [Read more...]

4 Ways to Nurture & Protect Your Skin This Summer

May being Melanoma Awareness Month is always a timely reminder, as we head into the lovely summer months!  I adore sunny summer days, and lots of playing outside.  But skin cancer is a real threat, and it's a topic that hits close to home for me.  My husband and I both have had run-ins with skin cancer, and it’s not fun.  And as most people know, it’s usually preventable. Add in the fact that sun can dry you out and prematurely age you likka prune... and it's definitely worth taking a look at a few ideas to nurture and protect your skin this time of year! 4 Ways to Nurture & Protect Your Skin At this stage in my life, I have many reasons to take good care of my skin.  Being outdoors in the sunshine is one of my favorite things, so avoiding the sun is not an option.  I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks to nurture your skin, protect yourself against skin cancer, and promote anti-aging as much as possible. Protect it.  Baby it.  It's the only skin you've got! # 1 Use a Sport … [Read more...]

7 Magical Reasons to Stay at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista (near Disney World)

Let's talk about the elephant in the room first.  I almost always advocate for staying at a Disney World resort.  However, after two visits now to the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista property, I’ve now decided this is my one exception. They’ve got a  LOT to offer, and have gone to great efforts to make sure that families staying with them for a Disney World vacation still feel surrounded by that special Disney magic. There are even a few hidden Mickeys on site! Take a look at these solid reasons to consider staying at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista during your next vacation to Walt Disney World. #1 On Disney World Property Location The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista is literally ON THE WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT PROPERTY, across the street from Disney Springs!  If you want to save money but still stay as close to Disney World as possible, it’s an absolutely perfect location. Staying at this resort really adds no more travel-to-park time than staying at one of the other periphery … [Read more...]

Less Than Half Of Workers Are Using All Of Their Paid Vacation Days

In the words Chicago, of one of my childhood favorite bands, “Everybody needs a little time away...”  I’ve worked full time for over 20 years, and have always been a huge advocate for using your vacation time. So when I hear crazy talk like fewer than 50% of workers are using all their paid vacation days, I find this shocking. Downright ridiculous. Yet that’s just what Alamo’s recent 2017  Family Vacation Survey discovered.  And then there’s vacation guilt.  Apparently, that’s a thing.  This one I can relate to a bit, because I work with several “I never/rarely take time off” employees.  Including my bosses.  At best, this makes things awkward at times.  And at worst, it places extra pressure on me when using my vacation time. Vacation Guilt Syndrome When I ask for time off at work for a family trip, it does leave me feeling a bit like a slacker.  "Again?  You're going to Disney World AGAIN?!"   (But that's another story.) Aahhh, Vacation Guilt Syndrome.  This also rings … [Read more...]

Save Money & Teach Safety: Tween’s First Smartphone

We’ve reached that stage in life where my oldest child is ready for a smartphone.  We waited as long as possible, putting it off at the thought of paying more each month for THREE smartphone users.  Phone plans are expensive… now we want to add another?  Yikes. My daughter started middle school as a 6th grader this school year.  I was surprised to hear her teachers are literally having students use their smartphones for some interactive assignments in the classroom. Then you add in the benefit of her being able to communicate with us during the day.  So yeah.  Let’s do this. One of her prime interests is being able to take photos with her phone.  But we knew this would also mean my sweet, innocent girl would now have access to social apps and the internet.  So we started with a chat about safety. Equip Your Tween with Smartphone Smarts My daughter is a such good, rule-following kinda girl.  She doesn’t pretend to be, or want to be, a 16 year old yet.  Thankfully, she’s … [Read more...]

Colorado Road Trip with Travel Ready prAna

Eleven years in, and the thrill of living in the state of Colorado has not worn off for me.  One of my absolute favorite Colorado road trips is east / west over the Rocky Mountains.  If you haven't traveled this stretch of I-70, you need to add it to your bucket road trip list. Colorado Road Trip This is a frequent Colorado road trip route for my family, whenever we head to Denver for the weekend.  Love the scenery along Colorado's I-70, as it dodges and weaves along the Colorado River in many places. The views obviously change with the seasons, both varying and beautiful.  My husband probably thinks I'm crazy, taking pictures with my phone on the journey.  Every. Single. Time. Favorite rest area?  Grizzly Creek, just a few miles east of Glenwood Springs.  It offers hiking trails and an easy stroll down to take in the Colorado River.  Simply lovely, and an excellent place to take a short break and stretch your legs.  And take some more pictures.  Every.  Single. … [Read more...]

Colorado Summer Fun with FREE Elitch Garden Concerts 2017 + Season Pass Perks

The school year is winding down, and it’s time to start plugging in some “don’t miss” fun events into your Colorado summer fun calendar.  Check out this upcoming music roster and incorporate some of the Elitch Gardens Concerts for 2017, and consider the perks of being a season passholder. There is no additional charge to attend the music concerts, they are free with park admission.  Plus, Elitch Gardens offers an excellent season pass deal of only $69.99 (more on this below), which will have you covered for lots of summer excitement. Located in the heart of Denver, when my family visited Elitch Gardens for the first time we had a blast.   My kids were ages 4 and 10 at the time, and both had fun.  These were our favorite Elitch Gardens Experiences we consider must-dos. We’d love to return some time and check out the water park area.  And planning our visit during one of these Elitch Gardens Concerts for 2017 seems like an awesome idea we may have to try. Elitch Gardens … [Read more...]

Disney Wordless Wednesday ~ 4 Things I Always Take Pictures Of

Hooray for Disney Wordless Wednesday!  With only 27 sleeps left on my family's countdown to our next Disney World vacation, I enjoyed looking through photos for this week's theme.  Here are the four most common things I always take pictures of. # 1 - The Castle and Fireworks I don't want to talk about Wishes going away.  *sob* At least we'll get to see it one last time. #2 - Family Photo Entering Magic Kingdom A classic.  It's no small feat to pull this off, either... as my family's always vibrating with excitement to get inside Magic Kingdom and start our day of fun! #3 - Disney Food, Particularly Mickey Waffles A blogger's annoying habit.  "DON'T EAT THAT YET!!!"  :) #4 - My kids with Mickey I wish I had used some consistent pose/character/location for photos with my kids on our trips through the years, like I've seen some parents do.  Oh, well... shots like this still make me happy. It doesn't matter where we find Mickey, seeing him is always a highlight! … [Read more...]

5 Perfect Spring Day Ideas to Get Kids Outside

The biting cold starts to leave the air, and the feeling of warm sun on your face almost leaves you giddy.  If you live anywhere with distinct seasons, the arrival of Spring weather is an exciting change.  My family and I always feel inspired to open those windows… and even better, get outside and play! Winter sports may be winding to a close, but there is so much fun to be had in Spring.  You don't need expensive or technical gear in order to do so.  If you need some motivation or inspiration, here are 5 free ideas to get kids outside this Spring.  Plus, some information on the upcoming fun and exciting Kids to Parks™ Day! #5 - Color Scavenger Hunt There are so many fabulous ideas on Pinterest for kids nature hunts!  Here are two of my absolute favorites. Color Scavenger Hunt – I really love this one for its beauty and simplicity.  No time for printables?  Grab a piece of paper and markers to make a quick chart for your kids.  Then send them out to look for what nature has … [Read more...]