An Adventure Awaits You with Arm & Hammer

Do you have a summer bucket list? This summer, Arm & Hammer has partnered with Scholastic Parent & Child and they are inspiring families with one heck of a summer bucket list! This list is filled with 25 outdoor adventures, nature crafts and so much more! Pretty cool!

My bucket list this summer included a trip to Northern Michigan. If you’ve never been there, you need to go. It is one of my most favorite places to go. There is truly something for everyone! The kids can climb Sleeping Bear Dunes and roll down the dunes (so much fun)!

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Not too far from the Sleeping Bear Dunes is Petoskey, Michigan. This is a fabulous place to go to search for the state rock, the Petoskey stone! My kids could spend hours searching for those rocks! Fun fact for you…the Petoskey Stone is not really a stone! It’s actually a coral that lived bout 350 million years ago! When you are looking for it, you need to look for a rock with circles that appear when it’s wet. The circles have a honeycomb appearance.

As you can imagine, a vacation like this gets the clothes rather dirty. That’s why I keep the Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations laundry detergent near by. Not only does it have the amazing cleaning power of Arm & Hammer with baking soda, but it also comes in amazing scents like:

  • Sun-Kissed Flowers
  • Twilight
  • Purifying Waters

Each of these scents were inspired by national parks! The new Clean Scentsations has my clothes smelling as good as they look with the freshness of the great outdoors!

What’s Your Adventure?

As I mentioned before, Arm & Hammer partnered with Scholastic Parent & Child. They are giving away one heck of a vacation…a family vacation to Maine’s Acadia National Park! This vacation includes an expert-curated itinerary! All you need to do is share what big adventure you would like to take in 100 words or less to be entered for a chance to win! The first 2,500 people to enter get a free Scholastic book while supplies last! So what are you waiting for…go enter today! #AdventureAwaits

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

Fun Staycation Ideas for Kids!

This is a post sponsored by J M Smucker Company for Smucker’s. All opinions and Staycation ideas are always 100% my own.

This summer we did not take a traditional vacation. You know, the kind where you plan it all out, stay in a hotel, etc. Instead, we had a staycation with the kids! I was actually pretty excited about this. We were able to do fun things with the kids that we don’t normally get to do because of our busy schedules. My husband took the week off work and we had a blast.

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The nice thing about a staycation is that the things you do, don’t always have to cost you money! The first thing we decided to do was take the kids to our local roller skating rink. The nice thing about this trip was that we had signed them up for the summer program, “Kids Skate Free” so the only thing we had to pay for was their roller skates!

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Other places we went:

  • Dave and Busters
  • Drive-in Movie (saw Fantastic Four and Ant Man)
  • Movie night
  • Picnic
  • Feed the ducks

Out of everything we did, my absolute favorite was the drive-in and the picnic. The nice thing about the picnic was that you bring all of your own food so you aren’t spending any money while you are there! We decided to take Smucker’s Uncrustables, apples, Jif To Go dipping cups, string cheese and pretzels.

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One word of advice…if you are planning on taking apple slices to dip in the Jif To Go and you don’t want to cut them ahead of time, actually remember to pack a knife…

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You end up with your kid trying to make due and when he can’t do that, he gives up and ends up dipping the string cheese in the peanut butter. The crazy kid thought it tasted good!!

The kids have a blast being outside, running around, eating and laughing at how close the ducks got to us while we ate! And yes…we took bread to feed the ducks! I think the kids were most excited about that!

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My favorite duck caught every single piece of bread in his mouth…kind of like a dog! It was crazy! And yes, I got a picture of it!

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No matter what we chose to do on your staycation, having the right snacks is paramount to having a successful activity! Hungry kids…shoot, who am I kidding, hungry parents AND kids can ruin an activity before you even get started! So…before you plan a staycation, hit up your local Walmart for some awesome #snackation snacks for your next staycation!

 

Michigan Renaissance Festival 2015

It’s that time of year again…Michigan Renaissance Festival time!! I remember seeing the commercials for it last year and my son jumping up and down, begging us if we could go. Due to how busy we are that time of year, we weren’t able to make it work. But this year, this year we are going to make it work. I remember going as a kid and seeing people eating ginormous turkey legs. I guarantee you, my son will want to get a giant turkey leg the second we get to the Renaissance Festival!

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What is the Renaissance Festival?

Take a time-travel adventure into the 16th century at the 37th annual Michigan Renaissance Festival! Join our Queen Elizabeth in a jubilee! Inside our turreted gates, visitors enjoy the sights and sounds of a 17-acre village, complete with building reproductions of Renaissance shops, taverns and a magnificent castle. Continuous entertainment takes place on the streets and on 17 themed stages; featuring full-contact armored jousting, comedy and theater shows, music, games, people-powered rides and so much more! Fabulous food and more than 300 artisans displaying their gallery-quality works complete the experience! Join us weekends and Labor day August 22nd thru October 4th! Plus Festival Friday on October 2nd.

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?!?

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Want to Save Money???

Because we love you all so much, my readers will receive $3 off an Adult Admission or a FREE child ticket with the purchase of an Adult Ticket. Pretty awesome, right? Simply go to this link to get your coupon! Please note that this offer is not valid with any other offers.

The Michigan Renaissance Festival takes place in Holly, Michigan every weekend from August 22, 2015 through October 4, 2015. Parking is absolutely FREE and the event goes on rain or shine!! I hope to see you out there!!

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The Alligator Sanctuary in Athens, MI

Yesterday we spent the entire day at The Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Athens, MI. We heard about The Alligator Sanctuary a couple summers ago when we took the kids there. Bella is completely obsessed with alligators and finding out that we didn’t have to travel to Florida for her to see something she loves, was amazing. While we were there two years ago, they told us about how people could come back in the Spring and help get the gators from the warming shed (a greenhouse) and take them to their summer swamp. We were not able to go help last spring, but we went yesterday and Bella had the time of her life!

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Almost immediately upon getting there, Bella had an alligator in her arms. Like dogs, we found that if you gently stroke gator under it’s jaw or even on the top of the head, it will close their eyes and go to sleep. But don’t loosen your grip. This particular gator was storing up it’s energy to try and wiggle out of Bella’s arms! She got whipped by the tail a couple times, but she said it didn’t hurt. I don’t think she would have admitted if it did, though!

Every gator (accept Godzilla…you’ll see him in a bit) is brought out of the greenhouse and set on a table. The kids then take various size brushes and scrub all the dirt off the gators. Once they are clean, the gators are measured (head length, full body/tail length, and tail length). Next they are checked for a microchip. If they don’t have a microchip, one is put in.

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The one gator that Bella has talked about ever since our first visit was Godzilla. He is their largest gator and they’ve also trained him. Eventually they will be doing shows with him (we can’t wait to go back for that). One of the first things Bella and her dad asked was “will we be moving Godzilla?”. Originally they said no. Mainly because there were other gators in the greenhouse habitat with Godzilla and unless Godzilla moved up to the front of the habitat, it would be too dangerous for them to get him out. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, Godzilla moved right up to the front of the habitat! Bella was beside herself. Here’s a picture of Godzilla in his greenhouse habitat:

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Godzilla is estimated to weigh between 350 and 500 lbs. It took seven big guys to carry Godzilla to his summer swamp. I stayed out of the greenhouse when they were moving this gator. The hissing and thought of them dropping this gator, even though his mouth was taped closed, scared me. But it didn’t scare my husband. He climbed into the pen with Godzilla to help lift him out. I made sure to call and up his life insurance policy! Godzilla thrashed around a little bit while they were carrying him and it was quite comical to watch. Even though there were seven big men carrying him, when Godzilla moved, the men were thrown to whichever side Godzilla moved to!

When asked what her favorite part of the entire day was, it was when the owner, Mr. David, handed her a baby gator and told her to walk it over to the elementary pen (this is the area for the smaller, elementary sized/aged gators). Once she got over there, she was able to go into the pen and help release the gator into the water.

Our time at the Alligator Sanctuary was amazing. The staff are all extremely friendly and genuinely care about their gators. They love to share their knowledge about the gators with everyone that is there. They have a lot in the works for the sanctuary and we can’t wait to go back and see it all! Bella even learned about a “Zoo Keeper for a Day” program they will be having and I just know we will be driving back for that real soon!

For more information about The Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary, visit them on Facebook!

52 Week Challenge – The Best Vacation

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When I was a kid, we took a trip to Florida. We went to Daytona Beach. I remember our hotel being right on the beach. This particular trip stands out in my mind as one of the best trips I ever went on. I remember waking up one morning and the tide was in and the water was all the way up to the stone wall. It was pretty neat. However, the best part of that entire trip was when the tide was out and you were able to walk all the way out into the ocean. We found so many cool seashells, sand dollars, etc. Plus…as a kid, being out in the ocean where you were able to swim, let alone walk, is pretty darn cool. Shoot, who am I kidding…I want to do that again!

The best vacation I’ve taken as an adult was this past summer with the kids. We took them to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. The Today Show was doing a segment on this particular State Park a few years ago ( I think after someone found a sizable diamond) and I wanted to go from that moment on.

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We had a few moments where we really thought we found a diamond!

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Despite not finding a diamond, we had a lot of fun. It was hot. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life and, as a result, I got sun poisoning, but we still had a good time. If you are thinking about going to Crater of Diamonds State Park, here are a few things you need to know…

  • Take a portable Canopy. Trust me…you will want this to protect you from the hot sun.
  • Take a cooler with A LOT of water
  • Wear a hat…you want your face protected from the sun as much as possible
  • Take a little chair that is close to the ground so you can sit and dig!

At any rate, this is definitely somewhere everyone should visit. It was a lot of fun!

What was your best vacation?