Author Archives: jessicalieb

About jessicalieb

Jessica is a family lifestyle blogger living in Raleigh, NC with her husband, four sons (8, 5, 3 and 1). Jessica started thebkeepsushonest.com in November of 2009, but has been blogging since 2003. Jessica writes about family life, recipes, travel and products for families. She is also a Work-from-home-mom who manages marketing and social media for a local accounting company.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Movie Review

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For months Joe has been talking about seeing the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie for his birthday. Almost every year we go see the latest super hero movie for his birthday since they are usually released in May so I knew Guardians of the Galaxy would be up this year for his birthday. To say he was excited when we went to the screening on Monday night would be an understatement.

To be honest I fell asleep during the first Guardians of the Galaxy, not because I wasn’t interested but because we were watching it in the comfort of our living room and I was spending most of my nights up with a new baby. But I was very excited to see this movie even though I didn’t totally follow the plot because I missed most of the first movie. (Now I will have to go back and re-watch it.)

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MY THOUGHTS
I thought it was a very fun (I literally laughed out loud several times) movie and a great touching story. There was action, romance, comedy and drama. Toddler Groot was adorable and Drax was hilarious. I loved Kurt Russel as Ego. And the soundtrack was super fun.

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JOE’S THOUGHTS

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot of fun, accessible enough for casual fans, and has lots of cool details for nerdy super-fan types like myself to freak out over for days.  It is very well written, brings a surprising amount of depth to its’ supporting characters (looking at you, Yondu), and adeptly switches between heartbreaking and irreverent much the same as its’ predecessor.  Baby Groot, a character-development choice that had the potential to Jar-Jar-Binks up the film or even the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, instead pays off in spades as he steals all of his scenes with  adorable, 100% accurate ass-faced toddler behavior.  Chris Pratt delivers another solid performance as a now-grown-man taken from earth before he learned that He-Man stopped being cool at age 13, who continues to deal with a complicated family history exacerbated by the unexpected arrival of his absentee biological father (Kurt Friggin’ Russell).  Also he saves the galaxy some more too. So to sum up, this movie is what a summer blockbuster should be, and also what a movie should be, and also should probably win some awards or something if they gave awards to movies for being enjoyable instead of being pretentious.  Also Kurt Russell is in it.  I guess I probably could have just said “Kurt Russell” and stopped there.   Kurt Russell.

In Theaters Friday, May 5th

I received passes to the featured event in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.

NC Zoo Dino Bus

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The North Carolina Zoo has a new exhibit called the Dino Bus which takes you on a brief tour of robotic dinosaurs that are only accessible via the Dino Bus. Since our boys are really into dinosaurs right now we decided to try out the Dino Bus tour on our most recent visit to the zoo. We have a membership to the zoo which gives us the opportunity to explore small sections of the zoo each time we visit.  This time we decided to explore parts of North America and the Dino Bus.

The Dino Bus has 3 pick-up and drop-off point. There are actually 2 separate Dino Bus routes for which you have to buy two separate tickets. To ride both routes you pay $4 per person. We bought our tickets at Junction Plaza. We parked in North America and walked straight through only stopping at a few exhibits until we reached Junction Plaza (which is about a mile walk). Then we ate lunch and bought our tickets for the Dino Bus. We had to wait a good while for the bus to arrive (probably 20 minutes or more). Our first tour took us through the dinosaur exhibit in Africa. There were about 5 dinosaurs on that route and our driver was very friendly and shared as much as he knew about the dinosaurs, he was very up front stating that he wasn’t a dinosaur expert and most of the kids would probably know more than he. We were dropped off at the entrance to Africa where we then had to catch the shuttle to the entrance of North America. We waited another 15-20 minutes for the shuttle and were dropped off right outside North America. We then waited another 10-15 minutes for the second Dino Bus that took us through North America to Junction Plaza where we started. This drive of this bus wasn’t as talkative and really only told us the names of each dinosaur as we stopped to look at them. We only saw 4 dinosaurs on the North American size but there was a dinosaur that spit water at you so that was fun! On each tour we were taken behind a gated area of the park probably employee only access areas to see the exhibits. It felt a little like Jurassic pack as the drive pushed the remote to open the large barb-wired fence.

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Overall, it was a fun experience but a very lengthy process, we probably spent at least and hour and a half (or longer) with our Dino Bus experience. The boys had a great time seeing all of the dinosaurs, especially the one that spit water! If you have a kid that loves dinosaurs (of if you love dinosaurs) I’d recommend that tour if you have time to spend waiting for all of the different buses. However, we probably won’t do the Dino Bus again as it was very lengthy and we didn’t really learn much about the dinosaurs on exhibit.

We did learn from our first driver that the NC Zoo is planning a huge expansion over the next 5 years which will include 3 new continents. The NC Zoo is already the largest natural habitat zoo in the United States, so I’m excited to see how they develop the new exhibits. Being the largest zoo means a lot of walking, we probably walked over 3 miles on our most recent trip and we only saw North America, not Africa. This is why we have a membership, even though the zoo is over and hour away it’s so huge it would be impossible for our family to make it through everything… plus the membership is a great deal for larger families.

Weekday Adventures: Kidzu Museum – Chapel Hill, NC

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We took another homeschool field trip this week. We went to Chapel Hill, NC to visit the Kidzu Children’s Museum. I found a Kidzu Groupon that allowed 4 of us to get in for essentially half price. I’ve seen a lot about Kidzu on social media over the past few years and have been wanting to take the boys for awhile. It was actually a much shorter trip from our house than I was expecting, it took less than 40 minutes for us to get there and a little bit longer to get home because we hit some rush hour traffic. We left our house around lunch time hoping to avoid some of the morning crowd. It was a little busy when we arrive a little before 1pm but within 30 minutes most of the people with small children left (nap time). (It was just me and the three older boys as Abel was at home taking a nap with Joe.)

The museum is located in a mall type shopping center. In the shopping center is a movie theater, a few specialty shops, A Southern Season, Chick-fil-a, a pizza place and Maple View Ice Cream. Kidzu was much smaller than I was expecting. We visit Marbles in Raleigh frequently and the entirety of Kidzu is about the size of one exhibit at Marbles, although they do pack in a lot of fun into that tiny space. The areas were divided up nicely and all of the toys and play structures were great quality. It was beautifully decorated with vibrant original artwork that complimented each play space.

The Makery was probably our favorite spot. It has special hours and didn’t open until 2pm but the boys loved it. They did science experiments, crafts, played with tools, colored and much more. I really liked that they have different themed activities on a daily basis. The activities were lead by friendly staff members that gave children the space to create within the space’s guidelines. I personally liked the Make It, Don’t Take It rule where you can create whatever you want but you don’t get to take it home, instead they put in on display. It keeps my house from becoming cluttered and the kids feel proud to display their work on the shelves.

Overall, it was a great trip and I recommend anyone that is in the Chapel Hill area to check it out. The regular pricing is a little high, $7.50 per person but I think the Makery itself makes it worthwhile. They do offer memberships which again are on the high side, I think a 6 person membership which our family would need cost around $175 a year. We pay $100 a year for our Marbles membership and we certainly get our money’s worth out of that museum since it’s so close. Basically, get the Groupon deal if you want to go.

After we finished playing we ate some Maple View Ice Cream and strolled around the shopping center a bit before heading home.

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This is not a sponsored post.

Fighting Spring Allergies with Scotties {Giveaway}

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I love spring and we spend almost everyday outside when the weather is agreeable or not. However, my allergies are going nuts. Thankfully this spring hasn’t been covered in a huge yellow cloud of pollen, yet… I still keep my Scotties tissues on hand since I never know when a sneeze attack will occur.

The other day the boys and I visited the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh for a little field trip. It is such a gorgeous place filled with amazing plants that are native to North Carolina as well as some unique plants from around the world. I love all of the plants but I do not love all of the pollen.

The itchy watery eyes and sneezing are the worst. Scotties has the comfort, strength and softness I need to keep exploring the outdoors with my family. They have 3-ply and 3-ply with aloe for layers of comfort.

GIVEAWAY
One lucky reader will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a care pack of Scotties Tissues. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway Ends 4/30/17.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on April 30, 2017. The winner to be chosen at random. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. See giveaway rules for more information.

The information, products, gift card, and giveaway have been provided to me by Scotties Tissues.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Weekday Adventure: J.C. Raulston Arboretum

The other day the boys and I took a field trip to the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. It was a gorgeous spring day and we needed a fun and free outdoor activity. We’d never been to the arboretum so I thought a new adventure was due. The boys liked exploring the expansive park for a while but Jude just wished to find a shady spot so he could finish his book and Simon kept laying down wherever he could. Noah however was interested in some of the more unique and beautiful plants… and the bees.

The arboretum is a beautiful place to explore and hopefully as the boys get older all of our outdoor nature adventures will lead them to enjoy such places. I think they would love one of the kid programs they offer so I might look into what events are planned for the next few months.

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Tips for Visiting Great Wolf Lodge

A few weeks ago we took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte/Concord. It’s less than a 3 hour drive from house so it makes for a great overnight trip.We had a great time and are already looking forward to our next visit.

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I did a lot of research online prior to our trip so I knew what to expect and what we should bring. I like to be prepared, it helps me feel confident when things don’t go according to plan (as always happens) that I’m making good decisions. So here are some of my take-aways from our recent trip.

Look for Special Deals
We found a great deal on Groupon which put our family of 6 is a themed suite with a $50 dining credit for around $300. I highly suggesting finding special offers like Groupon where you can save money especially if you have a larger family. Typically more than 4 guest would be an additional cost for the room we booked, however the special offer waived the additional $50 per extra person water park pass.

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Bring Food
We have 4 small children that want to eat all the time. So I brought plenty of snacks to keep in the room as well as breakfast items. The rooms have a small refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and sink. If you really want to save money you could bring food to make all of your meals in your room. We just made breakfast in our room and had a few snacks. GWL offers a Cookies and Milk delivery in the evenings (for an additional cost) I just brought cookies and milk from home for our special evening treat.

Leave the Hotel
The Charlotte/Concord location is surrounded by restaurants/shopping so there are plenty of things to do and eat outside of the hotel. We save a lot of money by driving down the street to Chick-fil-a for lunch rather than buying lunch on site. We did buy Pizza at the hotel for dinner since we wanted to pack in as much fun as possible.

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Arrive Early/Stay Late
We arrived at the hotel around 1pm even though our room check-in wasn’t until 4pm. You can get your water park access bracelets at 1pm the day you check-in to enjoy more time at the water park. They have nice changing rooms where you can put on your bathing suit. However, our room was available at 1pm which was nice. Likewise, checkout is at 11am but after we loaded up the car we returned to the water park for more fun then changed out of our wet clothes before hitting the road home. (Don’t miss the suit spinners in the changing rooms to wring out wet suits.)

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Extras: Do Some/Skip Some
My boys loved the arcade so we spent a lot of our down time there. When you buy a pass to play the games make sure you keep it as the pass itself cost money. Each time you visit you can just load more money onto the card and avoid the initial fee. We did check out the 4D theater and other games but they weren’t really worth the money. My boys weren’t very interested in any of the specialty shops either. The spa is super $$$. There are a lot of places where you can spend money but we opted out of most. We did cave on MagiQuest. I didn’t really know what it was but after the boys explore the MagiQuest store they were hooked. Aside from the water park I think it was their favorite thing from the trip. The wand is an investment but we plan on visiting Great Wolf Lodge many more times so it’s worth it.

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Shows/Activities
We attended the evening show/story time. I’ll be honest, the show was weird and creepy. However, the kids were entertained. I did like the story time that followed and the character appearances. We didn’t participate in too many other lobby events because we prefer to avoid crowds whenever possible. Kids Club rocks. While Jude and Joe continued on their MagiQuest I took the younger boys down to the Kids Club. There are so many things for little ones to do. It’s a play room/ craft room. They had coloring, painting, crafts, and activities. My boys colored and did crafts and played bingo and played with toys.

Overall, we had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge and are looking forward to our next trip. I recommended booking your stay on a week night as there is less of a crowd but either way it’s a fun time.

This is not a sponsored post.

Easter 2017: Jude gets baptized

This past Sunday was Easter Sunday and Jude (8) got baptized at church. It was such an exciting day. He has been asking about “bapatism” for over a year now. We’ve talked on and off about it and he watched baptisms the last time they had them at church but this time he said he was ready.

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After church we had lunch with my parents and grandmother and had a small Easter egg hunt for the boys. It was a pretty great day.

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How A Snack Became Our Family Time

Every day around 3pm my kids are begging for a snack. I’ve learned to have a snack ready or else they will start to raid the pantry when I’m not looking. So each day we set aside a few moments to have a family snack. Sometimes it’s something quick and easy like crackers or a cereal bar but there are days when I put forth a little effort and put together something fun and healthy. That’s the key with making healthy snacks for kids… make it fun too.

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Now that the weather has started warm up I’ve been making Juicy Juice Ice Pops with our fun Ice Pop molds.

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The kids get a giggle out of the silly characters and of course love the delicious flavor of the Juicy Juice.

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We typically eat our Ice Pops outside so I don’t have to worry about drippy juice on my kitchen floor! As we sit around the patio table we talk about our days and just enjoy a sweet moment together as a family. The time may only last as long as a kid can get through their ice pop then they’re bouncing off to the next activity, but sometimes they linger at the table a little longer to talk. I love my afternoon snack dates with my boys.

Did you know that all Juicy Juice products are made from real juice, with sweetness that comes only from the fruit and no added sugar? Plus, Juicy Juice contains no high fructose corn syrup, no cane sugar and no artificial sweeteners.

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CONTEST: Search for Chief Family Time Officer

Juicy Juice has launched a nationwide search for moms, dads and other grown-ups who help find the fun amid busy schedules. Families can enter by visiting juicyjuice.com/familytime to submit a photo of themselves enjoying Family Time along with a caption or tip on how they make the most of quality time together. Nine finalists will receive a month’s supply of Juicy Juice and a copy of Sinclair’s book, while one grand prize “Chief Family Time Officer” winner, determined by fan vote, will be selected to receive a month’s supply of Juicy Juice and the ultimate family time getaway – an all-expenses-paid four-day/three-night Luxury Included® vacation together to a Beaches Resort in Jamaica or Turks & Caicos.

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This post has been sponsored by Juicy Juice. All thoughts and reviews are my own.