Category Archives: north carolina

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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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.)

Let’s See Where the Day Takes Us

The other day I took the 3 oldest boys to Pullen Park for a last minute afternoon adventure. Because Joe works from home we have ability to sneak away while Abel takes his afternoon nap. It’s actually very ideal because the boys get really loud and rambunctious in the afternoons.

I love a good plan but I also like spontaneity especially when we can just go along with out any major time constrains. I hate living chained to the clock and calendar. Obviously we have responsibilities but every once in awhile a day or even part of a day is wide open and I love heading out and seeing where the day takes us. On this particular day the boys chose to ride the carousel and walk around the pond/lake. I was pretty surprised by their decisions especially since they are very fond of the train and giant playground. But they are curious creatures and I don’t think they’d ever walked around the pond and we’re always up for a good adventure. We were also the only ones to ride the carousel which was pretty exciting.

I love family outings that allow the kids to indulge their curiosity and gives them the freedom to make decisions about how we will spend our time.

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School on a Sunday

This past Sunday we took a family field trip to the NC Zoo. When you are a homeschool family everyone day is an opportunity for learning and school. Because we have a zoo membership we get to take our time exploring the zoo. We don’t feel pressured to see everything or even stay all day.

The slower paced allowed the boys to explore and learn on their own. They devoured as much information as possible. They sat intently and watch educational videos, read as many signs as possible and paused to really watch the animals. One of the zoo employees even comment that they were the most studious boys he’d seen all year.

I think we all enjoy our time at the zoo because we have the luxury of taking our time to really enjoy the experience.

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Our Local Waldo

For the past several years Shop Local Raleigh has teamed up with local bookstore, Quail Ridge Books to coordinate a great summer activity of a local Where’s Waldo?. This past July we decided to join the Where’s Waldo fun and ventured around town searching for Waldo at local businesses.

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The boys had a blast searching each designated location for Waldo’s secret hiding spot. Each boy had their own “Find Waldo Local in Raleigh!” passport and loved collecting signatures and stamps from local participating businesses. They eventually found all of the hidden Waldos and returned their completed passports to Quail Ridge Bookstore where they received small prizes and were entered into a special drawing.

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Noah eating a Rise donut

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Watching chocolates being made at Videri

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A sweet ice cream Treat

This past Saturday we attended the “Where’s Waldo Party” at Quail Ridge Bookstore where all of the participants were rewarded with cake and a chance to win some big prizes. Noah won a gift certificate to one of the participating locations, Rise Biscuit and Donuts. He was super embarrassed when they called his name and didn’t really understand what a gift certificate was but he was excited nonetheless.

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We had such a great time running around Raleigh looking for Waldo. The boys are bummed we found them all and now we have to wait another year to Find Waldo again.

Now the boys are obsessed with Waldo and we have since bought several Where’s Waldo Books. We also discovered some great new local shops through out adventures to find Waldo.

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A Wet n Wild Saturday at Emerald Pointe #WetnWildEP

On Saturday we took the boys to Wet-n-Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, NC. I grew up going to Emerald Pointe but hadn’t been in almost 20 years. It was the same as I remember just a little updated. When we walked into the park they were playing music that was popular during Joe and my childhood. It was a fun flashback to our childhood, except this time we had kids.

We had a private cabana that overlooked the wave pool and the kids loved watching all the people cheer when the bell would ring before a big wave.

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The boys spent a good bit of time reading over the park map to find the best rides and areas of the park to visit. Because all of our boys are still rather small we stuck primarily to the kid-friendly areas like Happy Harbor and the Kiddie Wave Pool.

Simon loved the Happy Harbor Slides, probably because they had orange slides and orange is his favorite color. Noah loved the geyser/volcano in the Kiddie Wave Pool. That boys is obsessed with all things volcanoes. Jude liked the Soak Zone because of the water squirting guns. Joe and I did take Jude on a few of the more exciting rides like Scooter Run and Serpentine Slide. And of course we had to take a trip down the Lazee River, my personal favorite. I think we all enjoyed the Leisure Lagoon. There was something for everyone and we all had a great time.

We paused for lunch in our cabana and took full advantage of the services provided by the cabana like a private locker, shaded table and wait service for food and beverages.

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By the time we left all the boys were exhausted but so happy with our trip. They were asking when we could come back again. Three of our 4 boys passed out before we even hit the interstate, that’s a sign they had a great time.

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Purchase tickets through September 5, 2016 and receive a special “THE B KEEPS US HONEST” Discount. Tickets are good for any day
during the regular 2016 operating season.

Special Wet-n-Wild Emerald Pointe Discount

DISCOUNT: Save up to $10.49 on One Day General Admission Tickets
• Gate price: $38.99
• Discounted price – General Admission (48” and above): $28.50
*Applicable fees not included

Like Wet-n-Wild Emerald Pointe on Facebook
Follow @WetnWildEP on Twitter
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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.

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Sesame Street Live Review – Raleigh, NC

This morning I took the boys to Sesame Street Live at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. We had a great time dancing along with our favorite Sesame Street characters like Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster and Big Bird.

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The Let’s Dance show gave kids and their parents the opportunity to dance throughout the show encouraging everyone that they could dance and to just be themselves.

My boys got really excited when Cookie Monster came out on stage. Cookie Monster was always one of my favorite characters so it made me really happy with how much it excited them. The whole audience erupted with cheers when Elmo came out.  Photo Jun 04, 11 12 22 AM

Our favorite part of the show was the robot dance. Noah exclaimed, “MAMA, there are REAL robots!”

The show lasted about 1.5 hours with a 15 minute intermission which was just about perfect for all the small children in attendance.

There are 2 more Sesame Street Live shows in Raleigh this weekend and then they move on to another location.

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