Category Archives: north carolina

Weekend Adventures: Wet n Wild Emerald Pointe

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On Friday we took the boys to Greensboro, NC to meet up with some friends at Wet-n-Wild Emerald Pointe. We visited Wet-n-Wild last summer but I was excited this time because the boys are a bit older, better swimmer and more interested in the rides. My boys didn’t do too many of the big rides but Joe did get to sneak off for a bit and ride some of the bigger rides with our friends who had teenage sons.

We arrived shortly after the park opened at 10am and set up post at the Bayside cabanas right beside the wave pool. (You can rent a cabana for all day starting at $125/day.) The boys loved watching all the swimmers in the wave pool whenever we were taking a little break. I love the cabanas because they are sectioned off from the rest of the crowd and provide a bit of calm amidst all the crazy fun everyone is having. The cabanas in our section can hold 8-10 although they only really have seating for 8. We had 10 people in our group but the majority of them were kids and they rarely sat down. Each cabana comes with it’s own private locker for storing valuables and food service right in your cabana. You can of course go eat at any of the other food options throughout the park but I really liked being able to order food directly from the cabana.

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The weather was a little iffy the day of our visit, with dark clouds looming over us most of the morning. It actually made for a pretty nice start to the day, there weren’t a lot of people at the park and the hot summer sun was hidden behind the clouds. Around noon the sun came out and so did the rest of the people. Although, I will say, compared to our last visit which was on a Saturday it wasn’t nearly as crowded.

We started with a trip to the wave pool as it was calling all the kids, however we didn’t get any waves for some reason and decided to explore a little more of the park. The big kids rode, Cyclone Zone then we all rode the Lazy River. I always love a good Lazy River. The big boys did the Double Barrel Blast that goes way faster than I realized. Jude and some of the bigger boys also tried the Tropical Drop.

Then we headed back to the cabana for a little rest and some lunch. After we placed our lunch order I took all the boys right next door to the Soak Zone. This was probably my favorite place in the whole park. I love all of the fun water features they have for children of all sizes and ages.

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After lunch of chicken fingers, burgers and gluten free pizza we headed back to the wave pool to catch some waves. The wave pool is intense and I’m very glad they make smaller children wear life vests. I want to take a moment to commend the wonderful lifeguard staff at Wet-n-Wild, they were all very attentive and responsive. I witnessed a few times the guards had to respond to a swimmer in distress, thankfully no major rescues. I’m always very watchful of my children around water but it’s comforting know that if one of them gets out of my sight for just a moment there is someone making sure they are safe. Photo Jun 16, 12 46 47 PM

After the wave pool we took the little ones to the Happy Harbor and Kiddie Wave Pool. The boys love the Happy Harbor slides, Simon (4) loves rides but is just a little too short to ride some of the bigger slides so this was a welcome opportunity for him to “ride” some slides. While we played at Happy Harbor all of the big boys ran off to ride some of the more exciting slides like Dr. VonDarks Tunnel of Terror, Runaway Raft, Riptide Racer and maybe a few others. I don’t think anyone was brave enough to try Daredevil Drop, Twin Twisters or The Edge.  Photo Jun 16, 3 57 35 PM Photo Jun 16, 3 58 17 PM

We finished off our afternoon at Shipwreck Cover and Leisure Lagoon. We changed out of our wet clothes in the Locker Rooms before heading home. We had such a perfect day and we look forward to going to Wet-n-Wild again very soon.

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Disclosure: I received free media passes. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and not influenced by the company.

Weekend Adventures: Mud – Walnut Creek Wetlands

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On Saturday we took the boys to a special program at the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center in Raleigh called, Mud: A Celebration of Wetlands. Some of the families from our Scout Troop met up to enjoy the muddy fun.

There were several different stations where kids could explore, play and learn about mud, wetlands, wildlife and the environment. The boys particularly loved the fort building station which was equipped with bamboo sticks, rope, cardboard and tarps.

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We got to meet several turtles from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and some Salamanders, frogs and other creatures that you might find in the wetlands.

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There were several stations that taught kids about native plants, storm water, pollution and other elements that impact the wetlands.

Photo Jun 03, 10 32 28 AM Photo Jun 03, 11 03 01 AM Photo Jun 03, 11 25 21 AM The big boys and Joe went on a creek walk where they got to a guided tour of the Walnut Creek Wetlands.

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And of course there was mud. Lots of mud to cook with, paint with, and play in.

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It was fun and muddy day and we can’t wait for the next adventure with the Raleigh Parks.

Gearing up for Cars 3 with Juicy Juice

Disney Pixar’s “Cars 3” is cruising into theaters on June 16th, so to prepare for the racing excitement the boys and I took a little trip to the NC Museum of History to learn about the history of auto racing in North Carolina.

We aren’t big NASCAR or racing fans but North Carolina’s racing history dates back to the 1930’s and is currently a billion dollar industry in our state. So we felt obligated to learn more about what makes it such a popular sport. We got to see champion driver Richard Petty’s stock car and other popular racing memorabilia.

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The boys were rather disappointed that none of the cars had eyes or could talk like the one from Cars but they are very excited for the upcoming “Cars 3” movie.

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Juicy Juice has launched a limited-edition “Cars 3” product featuring beloved characters like Lighting McQueen. Juicy Juice “Cars 3” 100% juice will be available in 8-pack juice boxes in Apple, Berry, Fruit Punch and Grape, and multi-serve bottles in Apple, Berry, Fruit Punch, Cherry, Kiwi Strawberry and Strawberry Watermelon. Look for these specially-marked packs, find your code, go to juicyjuicegame.com and enter to win awesome prizes such as movie tickets, toys and activity sheets.

Head to your grocery store to buy limited-edition Cars 3 Juicy Juice and while you wait for June 16th to check out this fun Piston Cup Race Maze.

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

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.

Sylvan Heights Bird Park

A few weeks ago we finished up all of our homeschool groups for the year so I decided that during the month of April (and maybe part of May) we’ll be taking as many field trips as possibly. My hope is to take at least 1 a week (depending on weather and other commitments).

We started off at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. Since we have a membership to the NC Zoo we got free admission to Sylvan Heights. It’s a little over an hour drive from our home and a nice drive through the NC countryside.

Since we got in free we decided to spend a little on some of the extras they offered. We purchased some duck food ($1 per bag), an endangered species passport ($3), scavenger hunt($2), parakeet food sticks ($1 per stick) and ice cream ($3 each). Here are some of my thoughts on our extra expenses. Next time I would only buy 1 bag of duck food if any. The ducks were well fed and not that interested in the food we gave them although the kids did enjoy trying to give them food. Jude love the endangered species passport, it’s gear toward kids that can read well and has questions they must answer after finding the different birds. We probably won’t buy it next time since we already did it but I would recommended it. The scavenger hunt ended up just being me marking things off the sheet. It’s designed for younger kids that can’t read by my younger kids weren’t really into it. I would suggest to pass on this unless you have a very attentive young child. The parakeet food sticks were a lot of fun although there were a lot of birds trying to eat the food you had. It can be a little overwhelming for young kids. But I would totally do it again, it was a lot of fun to see my kids covered in birds! And of course, Ice cream is always worth it.

My kids favorites from our trip were the ice cream, playground, flamingos, peacock, all the ducks (including 1-day old ducklings) and owls. I liked the macaws, scarlet ibis, great argus, emu and black neck swans.

Overall, we had a great time at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park and I highly recommend taking a trip out that way if you get the opportunity. Photo Apr 05, 10 01 00 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 01 32 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 11 36 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 14 12 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 21 04 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 24 46 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 30 07 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 30 59 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 31 16 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 44 46 AM Photo Apr 05, 10 58 56 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 03 12 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 06 14 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 09 17 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 13 15 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 16 58 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 17 23 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 18 54 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 19 28 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 22 15 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 31 31 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 31 49 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 31 59 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 35 46 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 36 51 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 38 18 AM

I stood around for 3 hours to get my book signed… and I liked it.

I’m a picky reader. I often start books but don’t finish them because…. well honestly I think they suck. So when I find a book series or author that I really enjoy reading it’s kind of a miracle. After Simon was born I bought Jenny Lawson’s (The Bloggess) first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir and read it almost entirely on my phone, in the middle of the night while nursing my young baby. It was such a fun read I would occasionally wake up Joe just to read him excerpts from the book.

So of course I also read Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.  I bought the hardback book and read this one while nursing Abel. Different book, different format, different baby but still an extremely fun book to read. Then I saw that Jenny was coming to do a book signing in Raleigh for her newest book, You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds. I’d never been to a book signing event but I knew I really wanted to go to this event. Then stuff happened (like sick kids) and I didn’t get my book pre-ordered in time so I didn’t get into the reading but I did score a ticket to the signing line so I took it. 

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It was cold and I had to wait at the end of the line for about an hour outside but then as luck would have it I was in group #1 from the signing line so I got to go inside the store after the reading was over… to stand around for another hour or so… but at least I was warmer and could look at more books. I bought a book for the kids, Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKeller (a signed copy). I also ran into my blog friends Marty and Cyndi. They got tickets to the event and somehow happened to get better signing line tickets so they gave be their letter R. Then someone asked if they could trade their I for my R and of course I said yes. Lucky me.

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Of course I had no idea what I was going to say when it was my turn to meet her and get my books signed. I mean we don’t know each other, I know way more about her life after reading her books but she knows nothing about me so I just decided to tell her that I read her books in the middle of the night while I nursed my babies… it seemed appropriate, but it was still weird. However, Jenny was the sweetest and most loveliest person. She took times to smile and greet each person and thank them for coming.

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It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon even if I did just stand around waiting for someone to write in my book. (I didn’t have any of my kids with me which made it even better.)