Category Archives: family life

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.

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.

Entenmann’s Little Bites & Smurfs {Giveaway}

I grew up watching The Smurfs, it was one of my favorite cartoons, so I’m pretty excited about the new Smurfs movie, “Smurfs: The Lost Village.” I also grew up eating Entenmann’s® snacks so I’m super excited that Entenmann’s® is offering a special promotion for the new Smurfs movie.

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With the purchase of two 5 count, one 10 count, or one 20 count specially marked Entenmann’s® Little Bites® Smurf Blueberry Muffins packages, receive $5.00 off a movie ticket to see the “Smurfs: The Lost Village.” Available nationwide for a limited time until 4/30/17

Entenmann’s® Little Bites® Smurf Blueberry Muffins are the perfect Smurf-approved baked snacks. These moist, delicious muffins are made with real blueberries, contain no high fructose corn syrup, no trans-fat and are certified Kosher. At less than 200 calories per pouch, Entenmann’s® Little Bites® are the perfect family snack to enjoy at home or on-the-go.

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My boys aren’t familiar with Smurfs yet so I’m excited to take them to see “Smurfs: The Lost Village”. However, they are familiar with Entenmann’s and they love Little Bites.

CONNECT

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will win a $25 Fandango gift card and (3) coupons for $5.00 off the purchase of any Entenmann’s® Little Bites®. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Ends 4/18/17.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on April 18, 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 coupons for product redemption, information, and gift card have been provided by Entenmann’s® Little Bites® so that I could try the product and share my thoughts and information about Entenmann’s® Little Bites®. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Entenmann’s® Little Bites®.

5 Top Picks for New Parents

Top Picks

My 4th and final baby is now officially a toddler. For what seems like eternity I was in constant baby mode. I was surrounded by tiny clothes and all the latest baby gear. I’ve tried a lot of different baby products over the past 8 years and I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what is essential and what is not. I’ll be honest you don’t need a ton of gear to have a baby but there are a few items that just make life easier and I’m all about making life easier.

So if you’re a first time parents or not, here are a few of my favorite items for new parents.

  1. Ergo Baby Carrier – Little ones love to be held but life is busy and sometimes you need to get up and do stuff, like make yourself lunch. There’s nothing better than wearing a baby so you can eat.
  2. Medela Breast Pump – If you choose to breastfeed your baby a good breast pump is a must. I breastfed all of my boys but it wasn’t until baby 2 that I finally invested in a good breast pump and it saved my life… and it literally saved his life.
  3. NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator – I know it seems gross but I’ve tried all sorts of contraptions and the NoseFrida rocks. Babies get congested and you’ll use an aspirator way more than you thought and the NoseFrida gets it done. The NoseFrida was huge life saver when baby 3 had RSV.
  4. 4Moms MamaRoo – I used our 4Moms MamaRoo with my 3 youngest boys and it. was. amazing. The different movements make it so versatile a great for a baby that loves movement while they are sleeping.
  5. Aden + Anais Swaddling Blankets – Aside from a few structured swaddles the Aden + Anais Swaddling Blankets are the best for keeping baby cozy and snug while they sleep. Plus they always have the cutest designs.

I’d also suggest a good convertible car seat and reliable stroller as these things can be used for several years.

ABOUT BABY CUBBY

The Baby Cubby team is made up of parents who have been there and are passionate about encouraging, inspiring, and reminding parents how amazing they are and how important their role is. They find the highest quality and safest baby gear to provide to parents in a fun shopping experience. They always price match, even amazon, so you know you’re getting a great deal
Plus, they carry only the highest quality and safest gear so that you can shop confidently. Free Shipping everyday at BabyCubby.com over $49

This post has been sponsored by Baby Cubby. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

Preparing for Spring {Giveaway}

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

It snowed on Sunday but last week it was in the mid 70’s and the flowers had started to bloom. The snow washed away the pollen that was collecting on my back deck. North Carolina weather is crazy so you always have to be prepared .

I started to pull out the boys shorts and tee shirts last week but I kept the snow pants within reach. We bought new outdoor toys and summer shoes last week but alas this week we are bundled up in our winter wear by the fire.

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I try to be a prepared mom by being prepared for whatever hits, be it a heat wave or cold front. It seems like we are just getting over our winter colds and then our allergies start to flare up. I keep Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Allergy in my medicine cabinet when spring arrives just in case. In a great tasting grape flavor, Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Allergy has congestion-fighting power to relieve stuffy and runny noses, while providing relief for itchy and watery eyes, for children ages 6 and up.

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*It is important to remember to always read and keep the cartons for complete warnings and dosing information on Pfizer Pediatric products and to use as directed.

I’m ready for all of the lovely spring weather but I’m ready for the sneezing and runny noses that accompany the pollen explosion that happens each spring in my yard. But we’re prepared this year… so bring on spring.

GIVEAWAY
One lucky reader will win and Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Allergy. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway Ends 3/26/2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on March 26, 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.

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

Meal Planning & Chalk Markers {Giveaway}

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Every week I write out a meal plan for our family of 6. Joe bought me this cute chalkboard menu from Target a while back but the chalk that came with it kind of sucks. But I didn’t even realize there was another other until I heard about Chalkola. Chalkola Chalk Markers are make writing our my weekly meal plan so much easier. There are 2 different size markers for writing on chalkboards, whiteboards, glass, or plastic.

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The smaller makers are great for teachers, moms, artists. I have started using them on my white board for our homeschool work. I love that they come in a variety of fun, vibrant colors (including metallic) and are easy to wash away.

The kids use the Jumbo markers for creating art pieces. (Note: These marker work best on non-porous surfaces. The reason being that Porus surfaces have small holes which can absorb the liquid chalk ink and sometimes it gets difficult to completely erase them.)

I can’t wait to share what fun creations we make with our colorful selection of Chalk Pens from Chalkola.

Give them a try!
Discount Code: Save 15% off all Chalkola Products – Use Code: 15OFFSTR

Giveaway
One lucky reader will win a set of Chalkola Markers. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway Ends 3/24/17.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Giveaway ends on March 24, 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.

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