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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Toddler Play Areas at Walt Disney World

My family and I were in Orlando recenlty as part of the coveted invite-only Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort ... and two weeks later I'm still riding the high from our adventure.

Why You Need to Take Kids Under 3 to Walt Disney World 

While I've always loved going to Disney's parks as a child and an adult, going as a parent and sharing the experience with my children is on a whole other level of fun. I'm actually at a loss on how to describe the eurphoria of it. It's also a bit surreal that I'm now the parent in the scenario, lol.

Just look at the joy on my kids' faces below, that is exactly how my soul felt seeing them so happy and spending this carefree time with them:

I know most parents say they'd rather wait until their kids get older before they take them to Walt Disney World or Disneyland for the first time, that way they remember it. But why wait? Especially since children age 2 and under are FREE and yes, there is plenty for them to do at each park and the photos alone are so precious.

Toddler Play Areas at Walt Disney World

Each Disney theme park has play zones that are perfect for toddlers to run around in, in fact, my twin 2.5-year-old boys liked these areas as much as the rides themselves, see below for a full list.

Magic Kingdom 
  • Waiting area at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In the line for this ride, there is a fun play area that kids can enjoy. We'll do this before and after riding, which they enjoy as much as the ride itself.

  • Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station is a water-based, open play area located inside Fantasyland near the train station in Storybook Circus in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. It's actually based on the friendly circus locomotive from Walt Disney’s Dumbo. It's perfect for hot summer days to cool off overheated kids and parents.
  • Reccomended Toddler Rides: It's a Small World (my boys loved being on the boat and of course all the colorful moving animitronics and the fun, upbeat song), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Plus, the parades and going on the Tomorowland PeopleMover and/or the train that goes around the park are always a great way to relax while keeping toddlers occupied. Oh, and doing a Meet with Mickey Mouse is a must, which you can thankfully reserve ahead of time via Fast Pass+ on the free My Disney Experience app or website.

  • SeaBase Aquarium:  After going on the The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, my toddler twins enjoyed running around the 5.7-million-gallon saltwater aquarium with coral reefs, sharks, dolphins, turtles, manatees and more. Catch the fish feedings at 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • Advanced Training Lab: Little astronauts can particpate in space-themed activities and even create sapce-age postcard in this ineractive play area
  • Innoventions: While not exactly for toddlers, little kids can still hang in the air conditioned Innoventions building as they play with computers and press buttons.
  • Cars Play Garden is another interactive area that is easy to miss, but one you'll want to look for near the popular Test Track ride.
  • Monsters University play area: during the annual Flower and Garden Festival each Spring, there is a temporary Monsters University themed play structure for children ages 2 to 5 with slides, bridges, tunnels and games. There is an older kids structure next to it as well. I only wish it was available all year!
Exploring the Monster's Inc play area
Hollywood Studios

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: We let them run free in this 11,000-square-foot, enclosed play area with slides, caves and rope paths to climb and explore. We went here twice during our trip. At first, I was trying to follow them, but soon found myself in little crawlspaces, so I then decided to just hang back by the exit and see them dart back and fort
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area at Hollywood Studios
Animal Kingdom:

Who knew this would be our boys favorite park? They got to see animals up-close on the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride and ran wild in The Boneyard.
  • The Boneyard: dig site for kids in the Dinoland area of the park is a great play space for toddlers and pre-schoolers. That's where most of the pics above of just the boys playing are from. There are slides, climbing structures, a big sand box, water zones and much more. Like with Honey I Shrunk the Kids, I liked that this area had canapoies and cast members watching the entrance and exit.

    Watch this quick video showing more of this fun space:

More Disney family travel tips:

Bet you weren't aware of these insider secrets about Disney's Animal Kingdom! To pack or not to pack? That is the question. Here are some tips & options to consider for strollers at Walt Disney World #DisneySMMCDisney's Coronado Hotel

Disclaimer: As part of the celebration, I recieved compliemntary parks admission, exlcusive access to Disney Parks events and swag, in addition to a discounted media rate for our hotel stay.
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Monday, May 4, 2015

Upgrading to Hardshell Luggage

Ricardo 2.0 hardshell
As a writer, I was psyched to have received a 4-wheel, hard shell, 360 spinner from Ricardo Beverly Hills for our recent retreat at Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort.

I've been wanting hard-sided luggage for some time because they are known for being more durable and lighter. Though not completely water resistant, hard shell luggage is much easier to keep dry in rain, snow, or puddles too, and it provides better protection against general spills and accidents. The same is true for keeping the luggage clean in general. This is a huge perk especially since no matter how much care I took with my previous fabric luggage (see below) it quickly was riddled with black streaks after being forced to check it in at the gate.
My scuffed up fabric carry-on
The Roxbury 2.0 carry-on case features a "split book" style opening, offering two separate compartments for maximized organization. It even has a garmet bag hook to hang and fold a suit or dress.
Garmet hook option
I also love the foam cushioned handles, it makes it so much easier to grab and lift it.

If you have hardshell fever too, the team negotiated a great deal with Ricardo to give readers 65% off and free shipping on orders over $99 when using this exclusive coupon code: TMOM65Off. This deal is only good through May 31.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Looking fab thanks to RocksBox & StitchFix

I love shoping, but I don't have the spare time or the paitience to browse and when I do, I often find myself going to the same shops and buying the same styles.

For these reasons, I'm loving the convenience of the following personal stylist susbcription boxes. My wardrobe and accessories have come to life with fun new trendy pieces. And those that I'm not into I can simply send back without any additional expense. The end result is making me feel confident and stylish when I go out, even my husband has been commenting on my new chic ensembles.
RocksBox gives you unlimited access to rent designer jewelry for only $19. You get 3 pieces to wear on loan, worth an average of $200 per set. Then, return your Rocksbox pieces anytime and as often as you like for a new set via a free prepaid shipping label both ways. Potentially, you can receive a couple of boxes in one month if you should chose. The box also fits in the mailbox, so it's easier than shopping! If you end up wanting to keep a piece you can buy it at an insider's price too. Your account is also credited $10 each month, which you can use towards any purchases or not.

I often get bored of the accessories that I have or I'll wear it a few times in the begining and then forget about it, but this way I'm able to routinely mix it up and be glamorous as often as I like. Easy way to spruce up an old outfit and I also get to try new things without having buyers remorse or having to spend a lot. It's also a reasonably priced subscription and a fun package to recieve each time.

To start off your subscription you complete a style profile stating the kind of accessories that you prefer and you can even add pieces to your wishlist, which then may appear in a future box set.

From my first box, I loved this simply elegant House of Harlow 1960 Tessellation Cuff in Rose Gold.
Try RocksBox out for FREE for one month with code tarametblogxoxo. Unlimited free jewelry for a whole month? You got nothing to lose.

I also have a StitchFix membership, which has a similar premise, but for clothes! A personal stylist will even look at your social channels and Pinterest style board to select fashionable pieces of clothing delivered to your door to try on.  You buy what you like and send back the rest.

There is a monthly $20 stylist fee, however, that $20 gets applied toward anything you keep from your shipment. I've been a subscriber for almost a year now and some months I end up buying all the items and other months I send everything back. Typically I'll end up with at least one or two items that I keep. I've discovered brands I would never have known about, received the latest cuts and trends and the softest skinny jeans that does wonders for my figure. I wore this more professional looking dress that I got to the set of Good Morning America last year. It was the perfect mix of trendy color blocking and a business cut, which suited the situation perfectly.
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Introducing JLuxe Perfume by JLo: Enter to Win

It's been a while since I tried a new fragrance. I usually only spritz on perfume on date night or for a special occasion, so as you can imagine, it takes awhile for me to finish a bottle. I was also getting bored with my current selections, so when I was approached to try out JLuxe by JLo for free, I eagerly agreed. JLuxe boasts an oriental, floral scent that includes key notes of juicy pineapple, soft violet and warm amber.

Bonus for me, I like fruity and sweet scents like this one. At first spray, it reminded me of candy and provided an instant lift in my mood and brought a smile to my face. I was actually suprised at how much I liked it and I plan on using it more regulalry in my daily routine.

Fragrance Notes
  • Top: Juicy Pineapple, Bergamot, Sweet Raspberry 
  • Heart: Soft Violet, Damascenian Rose, Orris, Ylang Ylang 
  • Base: Warm Amber, Cedarwood, Musk 
The Packaging for The JLuxe by JLo bottle is inspired by Jennifer Lopez’ love of high-end luxury and animal prints. Sexy and show-stopping, the opaque, square black glass bottle is enhanced with an elegant clear cap. It's also pretty substantial in it's weight and feel.

JLuxe Eau de Parfum is available now at Kohl's for $49. One lucky blog reader will win a full-size bottle by entering the below form. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I was NOT paid for this post, but as stated above I did recieve a free sample for review. All opinions are naturally my own though. 
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Starbucks Disney World "You Are Here" Mugs

I love my colorful Starbucks "You Are Here" Florida mug for sipping my tea. So, when I heard that Starbucks made Disney souvenir 'You Are Here' mugs, I knew I had to have them. They only arrived in stores January 2015 and are highly sought after and collectible.

At Disney World, there is a 'You Are Here' Disney Starbucks mug for each of the four parks including Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. DisneyLand and Disney's California Adventure meanwhile have their own mugs too (view here). They sell for $14.95 each and can be purchased with your Starbucks card too. Collect all 6!

During my most recent trip to Walt Disney World with Traveling Moms (read posts below) went to each Starbucks location to purchase the mugs and took some pics to share with you. I'm especially a fan of the purple inside of the Epcot mug and how the red Hollywood Studios mug matches so well with my yellow lined Florida mug. Which is your fave?
Disney's hollywood studios starbucks you are here mug

disney animal kingdom starbucks mug

Where to Find the special Disney World Starbucks Mugs:
  • Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom
  • Fountain View at Epcot (Starbucks signage is easy to spot)
  • Trolley Car Cafe at Hollywood Studios (it's a red building that doesn't even look like a Starbucks)
  • Starbucks at Disney's Animal Kingdom re-opens Summer 2015
Oh and btw they are stackable!
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pampers Easy Ups Potty Training Tips & Giveaway

My twin boys are now 2 1/2-years-old and I've been dreading starting to potty train two kids at once. Our routine is finally in a groove and just the thought of throwing a new wrench in the mix is giving me a headache.

To start the process and make the transition easier, we've switched to Pampers Easy Ups training pants. Easy Ups are designed to help the diaper-to-underwear transition by allowing potty-training toddlers to set aside their diapers and wear something with more of an underwear-like look and feel that still helps contain accidental messes no matter whether they happen at home, on-the-go or overnight.

My boys meanwhile went crazy over the fact that Thomas the Tank Engine is on the boys version of Easy Ups as it's one of their favorite programs. They especially love dancing to the theme song.

I also found that Easy Ups are quicker for parents to put on their wiggly and busy toddlers than traditional diapers.

In order to further prepare, we are working on "potty learning." We have been encouraging the boys to start pulling down their own pants and diapers by themselves, which Logan is doing in the photo on the left. We have also been working on getting them to better communicate to us when they have poop in their diapers. Ben has this down, but Logan just ignores my question all together, lol.

Any other tips or steps we should be taking? I welcome all the advice I can get! I also hope to learn some other pointers during the following twitter party next week.

Join @Pampers on April 21 from 9-10 p.m. EST as they host a Twitter Party with Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician, award-winning parenting book author and potty training expert who co-authored to Its You and Me Against the Pee…and the Poop, Too! Dr. Jana will be sharing her tips to help simplify and improve the potty training experience for little ones and their parents. RSVP here:

Pampers Easy Ups Giveaway:
Pampers® Easy Ups Trainers for Boys

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This review and giveaway was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Pampers. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Where should you visit in Europe?

This is a partnered post
If you are thinking of a European getaway this year, be sure to consider all the options like choosing to fly out somewhere with inter-railing - that way you get to see a number of European cities over the course of a few weeks! Alternatively, you might have your heart set on somewhere and want to make the most out of an all-inclusive weekend stay. Whatever you choose to do, read this guide on some of the continent's finest offerings for inspiration.

Sun kissed Lisbon, Portugal's capital city, is the ideal getaway for those seeking sandy beaches and old school charm. Head to boho Bairro Alto, a bar lined cobbled street in Azulejo, where you can sip cocktails and watch the sun go down over the quietest corner of the Atlantic coast. It's a year round destination- beautiful in spring, summer, autumn or winter.

Sun drenched Madrid is a great long weekend destination, with its incredible culture and laid back lifestyle, whilst Barcelona is more suited to those who are on the lookout for adventure, with its vibrant night-life and endless activities and active nightlife. You can even try a fish spa like I did when I visited this vibrant city. Those looking for beached out bliss though might want to visit more Southern locations such as Andalusia, where you can sun yourself on the beach by day and soak up the local culture by night.

Dubrovnik is the perfect place to visit if you are seeking a relaxed, tranquil beauty which can only be found deep in the heart of the Adriatic. Flights to Croatia are relatively inexpensive if you try visiting around February and March, when the weather is mild and therefore isn't such a popular destination with sun worshipers. Check out its beautiful UNSECO World Heritage Sites in the medieval old town. I really enjoyed the food too.
The view from the Walls of Dubrovnik
Malta is the deep sea diving capital of the world, and scuba divers, as well as snorkelers come from all over to don their wet suits and sample the beauty of Malta's crystal clear water and amazing marine life. Take a day trip to Gozo (boats leave every hour from Valletta Harbor), for the best scuba experience Malta has to offer.

If you do choose to inter-rail - or even cruise - it’s worth planning your route in advance to avoid getting way-laid during your trip. If you are staying in the one country, it's definitely worth catching a bus or train to different cities to get a full feel for the way of life in the country's different areas. Happy travelling!
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Toddler Visit to the Nature Conservancy in Naples

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center in Naples recently opened the fun and educational “Little Explorer Play Zone” designed for children age 18 months to 5-years-old with animal stories, crafts and activities. However, we soon found out there was lots more to enjoy there beyond the play area.
The air conditioned play zone room was the perfect way to start off our visit on a hot day to the nature center. The boys ran through the little tunnel and played on the platform area, but spent most of their time coloring the different activity sheets on the little pint sized tables.

Right next to the Naples Zoo, the 21-acre experience is dedicated to protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of life. The nature center also has hands-on exhibits in their Dalton Discovery Center including a touch tank where kids can touch a sea star and other critters. We also saw different reptiles on display and even watched as a snake was handled and shown to a group of kids.

We then went on a 45-minute cruise along the Gordon River among the mangroves. The electric boat ride is included with admission. I feared the boys wouldn't last the entire trip, but they enjoyed looking out and seeing the fish and ducks that we passed. The captain said during the winter months you can even see manatees.  Expert Tip: when you first arrive, after buying your tickets, be sure and make your reservation for the boat ride, then check out the different areas while you wait for your trip.
Another must see spot is their animal rehabilitation hospital, which provides medical care to injured wildlife, which rescues bobcats, deer, pelicans, herons, gopher tortoises and many other species of native animals needing treatment. You can also visit the viewing window and watch staff provide care for the animals. We saw baby possums being nursed. The nursery viewing window is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There are also nature trails known for its bird watching, but we only made it a few yards to their newly planted butterfly garden. We brought our double stroller, but we kept parking it, so we were probably better off not bringing it.

Admission is $12.95 for adults, $8.95 for children 3 to 12 and free for children under 3.

On Saturday, April 18 starting at 10 a.m., check out the Conservancy's annual Earth Day Festival featuring live animal shows, special programs, live music, local vendors and exhibits.

For more fun ideas in Naples for toddlers read Surprisingly Family-Friendly Destinations in Florida.
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