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Allianz Travel Insurance

Today’s post is sponsored by Allianz Travel Insurance through the Bloggy Moms Network.

Travel Insurance

We’re into saving money, not because we are cheap, but we don’t want to use it frivolously. I mean come on. Our parents taught us right, money DOESN’T grow on trees… With that in mind, even vacations are affected. Millenials (up to the age of 34) are looking for more value in their vacation. This personally goes for us. Maybe that’s because we’re homebodies, we are able to have a great time at home just as we are elsewhere.

On the occasion we do want to venture out, we enjoy finding deals. Ones like Groupon (Have you seen those Alaskan cruises?! Those things look like so much fun!) and Orbtiz, and Priceline can offer great deals, but sometimes my risk alert goes off. If I only need a night in a nearby hotel then I don’t really get the warning sign, but these big deals, like the Alaskan cruise, never come to fruition because I don’t want to take the risk. Travel insurance is a great way to put a bit of your savings to work to make sure you have a stress free vacation.

One place to check into is Allianz Travel Insurance. It’s provides us travelers with the protection we need while away from home. There’s even 24/7 travel assistance. This company offers packages which will refund pre-paid deposits if we have to cancel a trip (as long as it’s covered in the policy of course, be sure to check this. This travel insurance is also helpful in case of medical issues or traveling problems that sometime arise. (Hurricane in the islands anyone?)

I’ve always wanted to do Airbnb like in The Holiday with Jack Black and Kate Winslet. Wouldn’t it be great to switch houses with someone in another country? and meet Jude Law? Maybe the insurance will cover the cost of the trip if you don’t find said true love. 😉 Having traveling insurance can make this actually happen. I’d really love to enjoy Australia with the local’s point of view.

Disneyland Vacation Giveaway!

Disneyland provides the ultimate Family Vacation destination. So we have teamed up with some awesome sponsors and bloggers to throw an awesome DISNEYLAND VACATION GIVEAWAY!

disneyland vacation giveaway

This giveaway is brought to you by our amazing sponsors:

Tamron

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MarriedwithMickey.com

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House of Blues Crossroads Anaheim

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Canvas HQ

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And all these fabulous bloggers: Real Moms Real Views, The Bragging Mommy, One Artsy Mama, A Moms Balancing Act, Maybe I Will, Money Saving Madness, Fabulous Fun Finds, Living with the Magic, Modern Mommy Files, Preschoolears, Bargain Briana, Simply Sherryl, Fabulessly Frugal, Sweet C’s Designs, Busy Mom’s Helper, Bombshell Bling, Embracing Beauty, Brought to You by Mom, A Little Tipsy, The Mommy Nest, Capital B, the SIMPLE moms, Having Fun Saving, Love Our Disney, and Dandelion Moms.

One Grand Prize winner will receive a Disneyland Vacation! This includes a 3 night Hotel Stay at a Moderate Anaheim Hotel through Get Away Today (Subject to Availability), $650 in Disneyland Tickets (or winner’s choice of Disney or Visa Gift Card*), $100 Gift Certificate to MarriedwithMickey.com, and a $50 Gift Certificate to Zazzle.com.

disneyland giveaway

First Runner Up will receive a Tamron16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO Zoom Lens ($629 value), and a $50 Gift Certificate to MarriedwithMickey.com


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Second Runner Up will receive a Combi Cosmo Twin Double Stroller ($259.99 value) and a $50 Gift Certificate to MarriedWithMickey.com

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Third Runner Up will receive a $200 Gift Certificate to Canvas HQ.

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Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget below.

Giveaway will begin on June 16, 2014 1:00 AM and will end on June 30, 2014 11:59 PM. *If winner chooses the Visa Gift Card this will forego the 3 night Hotel Stay. This option is offered in the event that the person who wins is unable to travel to Disneyland. These prizes are not transferable and can only be used by the winners themselves. Hotel stay is subject to availability and black out dates. Hotel stay must be used within 1 year of giveaway ending date. Winners will be chosen at random, verified and contacted via email. The winners will have 48 hours to email back and claim the prize, if prize is not claimed within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen.

Family Bucket List & Puerto Rico

This post brought to you by Puerto Rico, The All-Star Island. All opinions are 100% mine.

A few weeks ago at a MOPS meeting everyone created a bucket list for their family.  It was fun to brainstorm about different goals {both long and short term} that we have for our families.  A few items on my bucket list for my family included travel.  My husband and I would like to visit Disney World next year!  Eek!  I get excited just thinking about it.  I would LOVE to visit a beach destination with clear blue waters.  My husband doesn’t like the beach but I’m working on him.  Myrtle Beach last year, clear blue water and white sandy beaches soon…or hopefully at least before I kick the bucket. : )

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of blogging friends talk about visiting or wanting to visit Puerto Rico.  Since then I did a little research of my own and I’m pretty convinced that Puerto Rico is the white sandy beach I want to visit.  Who knew that Puerto Rico is filled with world class attractions?!  You could have a 5-start vacation for an affordable price.  Looking at pictures has me wanting to hop on a plane and go.  Or maybe snap my fingers and be there instantly because I don’t want to travel on a plane with a newborn and toddler.  {Is it weird that even in my daydreams I bring my kids along?}

Besides strolling Puerto Rico’s miles of shoreline I could visit the only rainforest under US national park service, El Yunque, or brush up on my history and enjoy the old world charm of San Juan.  Or just bask in the sun and swim in waters where I can see my toes.  Ahh, to be there now with the sun on my face and with a warm breeze blowing.  It sounds dreamy!  Now only if I can convince my husband to want to go.  He has to like the fact that we wouldn’t have to exchange currency!  Oh well, I’ll keep on dreaming…

Live your own 5-star vacation story in Puerto Rico. Like SeePuertoRico.com on Facebook and Follow @PRTourismCo on Twitter. Click Here

What’s on  your bucket list?  What’s one thing you’d like to see in Puerto Rico?

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White Noise Machine Dohmie by Marpac #serioussleep

This is post was written by me on behalf of Dohmie by Marpac and Mom It Forward Blogger Network. I’ve been compensated for my time but my opinions are my own.

Dohmie Sound Machine

The science of it, the delicate balance of a hundred factors, the tightly clenched fingers-crossed, and bitten lip, and prayers whispered.   Hundreds of books have been written on…what am I talking about?  Sleep.  More specifically baby and toddler sleep.  There are so many things that can make or break a good nap {or nighttime sleeping routine} and a mom wants to do everything possible to ensure that her baby rests properly.  And I mean anything!  Preparing for another newborn of my own I’ve been reminiscing a lot about my daughter’s first few months of developing a sleep schedule.  Boy, were those rough days and nights.

Myth: Babies can sleep through anything.
Fact: After babies pass the stage of sleeping all the time, they wake up to just about any sound.

We had always heard “let them get used to noise and they’ll sleep anywhere.”  Oh, how I hate this lie!  In fact, I’m sure it was started by the Devil himself.

Very few people can sleep through anything {I happen to be one of them but that’s another story}.  Most people will wake up when they hear a phone ring or a vacuum turn on, right?  Why should babies be any different?  Do we really want them to be?

To this day I still have family members telling me that if I’ll only turn on a TV for background noise that my daughter will sleep well and will learn to sleep through anything.  Why?  For crying out loud, whhhyyyyy?  First off, I don’t have a TV station in mind where I could completely trust what it’s saying 100% of the time.  Do I want her to listen to cursing and God’s name taken in vain?  Absolutely not!  Second, is it good for kids to hear conversation after conversation as they fall asleep?  I’m not a specialist but I wouldn’t think so.  Third and most importantly, my daughter sleeps fine with white noise, why mess with a good thing?

I know some friends of mine who had their daughter hooked on a Frank Sanatra CD and she couldn’t go to bed without it.  I think that’s fine but for me I would rather tote around a tiny noise machine instead of a CD player and CD {of course now there are iPods but they have to be charged}.

Which White Noise Machine to Buy?

We own a handful of white noise machines.  Some make lovely rain sounds but they turn off after 20 or 40 minutes.  Others rotate between ocean waves and what is suppose to be the sound of whales.  I’ve never found the sound of whales soothing but that’s just me.

All the machines we own fall flat because of one or more of these reasons:

  • – They’re obnoxious {There is only one we have that falls into this category but it’s so bad that it’s worth noting.  Jungle sounds that are calm and soothing with an occasional squawking bird turns out to be not so soothing.}
  • – They are on a timer and turn off after a set length of time.  {They end abruptly too, not even with a descending sound.}
  • – The sounds are clearly on a loop.  Meaning that you can tell when it begins and when it ends.  It’s not pieced together seamlessly so the sound gets quieter towards the end, then loud again at the beginning. {This brand should get together with the one above who ends their sound sequence abruptly.}
  • – They are bulky and have 101 sound options {I usually like options but it can get overwhelming.}
  • – I overused it and it died.  Okay, so it was a fan and wasn’t meant to be a white noise machine.  {Not to mention a fan isn’t very safe for little fingers!}

Why I Love My Dohmie:

  • – The sound is gentle and with a slight twist you can change the pitch of the noise.  Perfect!!!
  • – The sound is endless, there are no loops and will stay on till you turn it off. {It uses electromechanical technology to create the natural sound of rushing air.}
  • – It’s simple to use.  One switch which can be flipped to quiet, off, or louder.  {This easy to use feature is great for baby sitters!}
  • – It’s lightweight which makes it great for travel.
  • – It’s attractive and fits discretely in my daughter’s room.

Dohmie

Ever since my husband tried out our Dohmie he has been asking for one for himself to put in our room.  Which reminds me, that would be a nice Christmas gift…I’ll have to remember that!  We use to sleep with a fan for white noise but it’s just too cold in winter to do that so this is a great solution.  We’ve already registered for another Dohmie for our new little one’s room {Can you believe I’m having another one in January? I can’t!!}.

If you’re looking for a sound machine for you or your little one, look no further.  The Marpac Dohmie Serious Sleep Baby Bundle retails for $59.99 at Toys ‘R Us and includes the Dohmie sound machine, a “Buddy the Bee Finds His Z’s” storybook, and a Sleep 101 publication from the National Sleep Foundation.

Stay up to date with Marpac, the maker of the Dohmie, via the social sites below:

What tips or tricks did you use to get some serious sleep when your little ones were little?

Preventing Illness Abroad

This is a guest contribution from Dr Garry J McCLean.

Around a billion people travel to different destinations around the world every year. Not many of them know before leaving home that over half of them would fall sick abroad. The types of illness may range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to high-grade fever or physical trauma, but about 1 in 10 people would need to see a doctor abroad, and about 1 in 20 would be serious enough to stay in bed. I don’t mean to freak you out before your dream vacation, but with odds like that, you should be cautious.

Not all mishaps can be averted, but most of the illnesses can be prevented by taking precautions. In order to take guard, you need to be aware of what causes these illnesses. Here are the most predominant illnesses that travellers get sick with, what causes them, and how to forestall them before they ruin your trip.

Accidents and Traumas
Accidents are the most common cause of sickness abroad. These include falls, water-related mishaps, insect-bites, and injuries caused during adventurous activities. Alcohol intoxication is often a complementing factor, if not the reason for many accidents. In order to avoid accidental injuries:

  • -Use appropriate protection-gear for the sport you are engaged in
  • -Drink responsibly and don’t do anything risky (or stupid) when you are under influence
  • -Know the traffic rules if you are driving

Insect-borne Diseases
The most common arthropod-borne diseases include malaria, yellow fever and dengue, which are carried by certain strains of female mosquitoes. Typhus is another condition caused by ticks and lice, arthropods commonly inhabiting hotel rooms—especially if it’s an untidy hotel in a developing country. All these illnesses can turn out to be serious if not diagnosed and treated in time. Your best bet is to be on guard.

  • -Get vaccinated for malaria, yellow fever and typhus at least 4 weeks before travelling.
  • -Apply mosquito-repellent lotion to the exposed parts of your skin when going outdoors and before sleeping at night, especially if you are in the tropical or subtropical latitudes
  • -Wear full-sleeved shirts and long trousers in infected regions
  • -In case you suspect that you are infected, immediately report to the nearest healthcare facility for diagnosis and treatment

Food-borne diseases
Food can be the most tantalizing part of your vacation abroad—and the most troublesome too. If you are not careful about what you eat and drink, you are inviting disease. Food- and water-borne illnesses include diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis A. These are all serious health problems that can spoil your trip, apart from causing considerable discomfort. Here are a few precautions you can take:

  • -Avoid drinking tap water while in developing countries
  • -Do not use ice in beverages in order to prevent water-borne diseases as well as sore throat
  • -Avoid raw fruits and vegetable—eat them only when you have washed them with safe water and peeled them yourself
  • -Avoid eating from street food-stalls
  • -Do not eat undercooked meat, poultry or eggs

STDs and Blood-borne Diseases
HIV, Aids, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are the most common infections transmitted during intercourse or through blood transfusion. These are all life-threatening conditions and one must be do everything to prevent them.

  • -Be very careful when getting a haircut or shave at a public salon or getting an injury dressed at a clinic, especially when in third-world countries.
  • -The best way to avoid STDs is to keep your hands to yourself {Ashley edited this part :)}

About the Author:

Dr Garry J McCLean is the health and safety consultant for The Workplace Depot.

5 iOS Driving Apps for your Family Road Trip

5 Apps to Make Your Family Road Trip More Enjoyable!

If you’ve got a family holiday planned and the thought of trying to get everyone from A to B makes you a little nervous, this guide is perfect for you. There’s a smartphone app for almost everything these days, and driving is no exception! From GPS systems to parking spot finders, these 5 iOS apps, recommended by Passsmart, will help make your journey run much more smoothly, and – you never know – you might even enjoy it!

greenMeter

This handy iPhone app will help you control your heavy right foot, reduce your carbon emissions and save you fuel. The greenMeter app will give you real time, audible descriptions of your driving style in order to warn you when you’re being a little too heavy-footed with the gas and brake pedals. Although most of us have the best of intentions when it comes to being eco-friendly, many of us are guilty of driving in a not-so-eco-friendly way. This app will not only help combat your carbon footprint on your family vacation, but it will also help you to become a more eco-friendly driver in the long run.

The greenMeter iOS is available to buy for $5.99.

Find My Car

Have you ever lost your car in the parking lot? Sounds impossible but we’ve all been there. The Find My Car for iPhone app will help you when you’ve stopped off at the services and have absolutely no idea where you left the car. Using GPS location services, the app takes a note of where you’re parked, reminding you when you reopen it to look for your vehicle.

This handy app is free so it can’t hurt to download it just in case!

Where To?

This iPhone app is perfect for visiting new places with the kids in tow. Where To? will not only give you driving directions but it will also help you decide where to go. Whether it’s a restaurant to dine in, an activity to keep the kids entertained or the nearest medical center, the app will find local options using GPS data. If you can’t settle on a place, you can even use the ‘shake to surprise’ feature which will choose for you – perfect for kids who can’t agree on anything!

The Where To? app is $2.99.

Garmin USA

This satellite navigation app is a little on the pricey side, but it’s great if you’d rather use your iPhone than a separate GPS system. Garmin USA will direct you to your destination and show you real images of complex junctions to help you navigate. There is also an integrated route planner, perfect for family car trips, which will help you find the shortest or most scenic route.

At $49.99 it’s one of the more expensive GPS navigation apps but it has great reviews and you’ll know you’re in good hands with the market leaders, Garmin.

Netflix

If you’re already a Netflix member, the free app will keep the kids entertained in the back whilst you focus on the road ahead. With access to thousands of TV episodes and movies online, it should keep both you and the kids happy. This is a great option if you have an iPad, as it will keep your iPhone free if you need it use it as a GPS navigator.

This app is free to existing Netflix members, but if you aren’t a member you can visit the Netflix website to see if joining is something you’re interested in.

This post was written by the UK company, PassSmart.com, who specialize in helping young drivers get on the road.

Summer Saving Tips: How to Holiday on a Shoestring

How to Holiday on a Shoestring

If you want to get away this summer, but don’t fancy spending a fortune – fear not! There are plenty of ways to vacation (or holiday if you want to sound fancy) on a shoestring, so take a look at these money-saving tips.

Pay with a low interest credit card

These days, many people pay for flights and accommodation electronically – be it online or over the phone. If you do this, however, remember to use a low rate credit card to make the transaction as this will keep your borrowing costs down. You’ll accrue less interest if you fail to pay back the total sum on time and should be able to clear your outgoings quicker.

Shop around for the best deal

With the economy in a fragile situation, a significant number of holiday companies have slashed their prices in a bid for business. There are some pretty great deals out there at the moment, so always shop around for the best offers. Compare hotel prices online, look for low budget packages and see if you can visit your dream destination on the cheap. Of course, if it seems too good to be true it might just be, so read all the terms and conditions before booking.

Fly off peak

If you’re willing to fly off peak, you might be able to get a reduced airfare. Prices tend to drop during unsociable hours, so be as flexible as you can with your travel times. Look for early morning or late night flights if possible and don’t be afraid to book outgoing and return flights with different providers. What’s more, you’re likely to get a better deal during winter, so if you can delay your summer break by a month or two you could make a significant saving.

Think about your commute

Getting to an airport or port is one thing, but paying for the commute is another. Public transport is not always cheap, so think about booking a rail ticket in advance or searching around for the most affordable taxi company. If you have friends or relatives living nearby, ask if they can help or convince your siblings to drive if they have a license. Getting a lift could save you a lot of money and will help you avoid high airport parking fees.

If you’ve not been away for a while, it can be tempting to take out a loan or apply for a credit card in order to fund your trip, but there’s no need to rack up additional debt if you don’t have to.

Why I Love Living in the South

Why I love the South

 

I’m excited to announce that Embracing Beauty was recently voted as one of the Top 25 Southern Mom blogs.  After I received my reward I was asked to participate in an interview with them.  It was fun to be interviewed and I wanted to share one of the questions from the interview with you.  I was asked “In what way is the South unique from other places you’ve lived or traveled?”

 

*Preface- I know that some or even all of these things are true in other parts of the country/world.  I meant no offense to anyone or any region.*

 

Here’s my answer:

 

In one word “atmosphere” is why I love living in the South. This atmosphere is unique and charming. It’s probably impossible to adequately describe the atmosphere but I’ll give it my best shot!

 

I live in the South because I want:
– my kids to value manners and their elders
– to live in a place where I can hear a wooden screen door slam shut
– to lay outside at night and see a blanket full of stars
– to hear crickets and watch fireflies
– to see women with teased hair and sun dresses
– to see men in overalls and cowboy hats
– to hug people I just met
– to smell honeysuckle so strong I can taste it
– to feel the ground beneath my feet
– to eat blackberries off the vine
– to drink Cheerwine and RC
– to fall asleep on a porch swing listening to the birds
– to hear banjos and fiddles
– to go for a walk and leave my door unlocked
– to actually know my neighbors
– to not be the only woman who brings a homemade cake to a get together
– to see spray painted graffiti on rocks and water towers
– to drive past walls of beautiful kudzu covering the landscape
– to let my kids swim in a creek and learn how to fish.

 

If you live in the South, why do you love it?  Or if you live anywhere else, tell us what you love about that area.

Dreaming of Hawaii

Aqua Resorts

 

Are you thinking about planning a trip to Hawaii in the future?  What about, wanting to go but thinking that there is no way you could possibly afford it?  That’s probably where I’m at.

 

My friend spent a few years in Hawaii with her husband and I just love to see their pictures on Facebook.  It’s gorgeous there!  One thing I’ve always want to do is swim in a crystal clear blue ocean.  I guess you could say that it’s on my bucket list.  While browsing around on Pinterest I kept finding beautiful pictures tagged with the name Aqua Resorts.   I ran into it so many times that I decided to check it out.  I don’t think that was a good thing to do.  This place looks like paradise AND they have affordable options.  Seriously!  Of course I would still have to buy airfare but I’ll try not to think about that right now.

 

As I sit here dreaming about day dreaming on the shore side I’ll share some of Aqua Resorts’ coupons/deals with you.  Who knows?  Maybe you can send me a picture of you there!

 

From the Aqua Resort website:

 

  • Help save a vet & save on rates! Write a thank you card to a veteran and enjoy 10% off our best available rates at all participating Aqua Hotels. Plus, when you book the Mahalo To Our Veterans rate, a portion from every sale goes to support the U.S. Veterans Initiative, Hawaii Chapter, Barbers Point Homeless Veterans Program.
  • Aqua is celebrating local style with Hawaii’s favorite footwear, and we invite you to go local and slip into savings! Book the Slip into Savings rate, show us your slippers (flip flops) and save 10% off at participating Aqua Hotels on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai.
  • In conjunction with the remake of the classic hit TV show, Aqua Hotels & Resorts is offering an “Aqua Five-O Special” at its 12 hotels in beautiful Waikiki. Only $50 for the first night in Waikiki.
  •  Book* at least 60 days in advance and save 15% on your next Hawaii vacation. Call866-971-2782 for details.  *Full prepayment required at time of booking. Non-cancelable or refundable.

 

The Greenbrier Resort Review + Deal!

I’m excited to briefly tell you about my trip to a five star, top of the line, LUXURY vacation!  A few years ago my husband and I went to The Greenbrier.  This place is nice!  I mean, twenty-six U.S. Presidents have stayed here through the years so it’s bound to be good, right?  It’s unbelievably beautiful, relaxing, full of history and updated with the latest modern conveniences.  Here are a few of the pictures from our trip:

The Greenbrier

This is a picture Mike took of me on our way to dinner.

 

The Greenbrier

Even the outside is beautiful!

 

Picture of George Washington at The Greenbrier

If you like Downton Abbey then you would adore this place!

 

The Greenbrier's Chandelier

Stunning!

 

Ice Cream Parlor at The GreenbrierGetting some ice cream.

 

The Greenbrier main hallway

Chandelier after chandelier.

 

The Greenbrier ChandelierThere was even one in the bathroom! (I couldn’t help but take pictures in there)

 

The Greenbrier's Infinity Pool

Their infinity pool was breathtaking.

 

The Greenbrier is beautiful but it’s also packed full of rich history.  In the late 1950s the government assigned a hidden section of The Greenbrier to be build for a secret emergency relocation for the house congress in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.  This was built at the same time as an extra above-ground addition to the hotel was being built.  This bunker was kept stocked with supplies for 30 years but never had to be used.  The secret came out about The Greenbrier’s hidden bunker in 1992 and is now open for tours.

 

I could go on and on but the reason I’m telling you all this is because I found a phenomenal deal for The Greenbrier!  Ever since I  saw this deal this morning it’s all I can think about.  I have great memories from our trip there and would love to return back there someday.  Right now you can get a two nights stay for $430.  When we stayed there we paid around $700 a night.  This is a DEAL!  If you’re interested, go to LivingSocial now for all the details!