Tag - kids

Family Friendly Holidays in Charlotte

Having lived in Charlotte for 10 years, our family has been able to create memorable holiday traditions. We also love that new activities and creative events that are popping up each year. Here are some of our favorites that we wanted to share with you!

 

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Holidays at the Garden

This destination is one of our favorite must-visit locations during the holidays {and other times of the year too}. If you are looking for a family tradition, Holidays at the Garden is an event where you’ll be able to make memories for years to come.

Children will look forward to filling out their passport when they complete fun holiday-themed games located around the garden and parents will love the beauty of the lights and spending time around a fire with their family.

With light features changing each year everyone in your family is bound to find a favorite, or two. While the stunning lights may be what brings you to Daniel Stowe this time of year, the live music, fairy village, and ambiance of roasting s’mores over the fire will keep you coming back year after year.

There are several food and snack options there are including food trucks, beverage bars, and of course it wouldn’t be the holidays without some amazingly sweet goodies. This year Sproutycakes Bakery greeted us again with a huge array of Christmas yumminess.

{Check them out: Sproutycakes Facebook and tell them we sent you, you can thank us later.}

While you will definitely want to bundle up, DSBG has done a great job of creating warm spaces for your family whether it’s the roaring fire pits, or the warmth and beauty of the Orchid Conservatory.

Additional activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, visit with Mrs. Claus, and Capture the Magic with Santa. *Some pre-registrations and payments required, please check the website for details.

To check out more details or purchase tickets online at a discounted rate for Holidays at the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens head HERE.

 

Carowinds

WinterFest

WinterFest is an all-new immersive holiday entertainment tradition, opening select evenings through December 30th.

WinterFest transforms the park into a winter wonderland adorned with more that five million holiday lights, a beautiful 70-foot Christmas tree and festive décor displayed throughout the park.

These words and picture alone do not do the park justice, they really went all out and several park goers outside of our party were in awe.

We loved how the park was divided into different themed areas from Charlie Brown’s™ Christmas Town to Jingle Bell Boardwalk, the ever-so-sweet Candy Cane Lane, and who can forget Celebration Plaza where it all kicks off.

WinterFest activities include a nightly tree lighting, live holiday shows and strolling performers, up to 16 family rides, a special holiday menu, a live nativity and 38-animal petting zoo, falling snow, and so much more!

Additional activities include taking a picture with Santa at St. Nick’s Pics*, decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus*, creating take-home keepsakes at Sally Brown’s Christmas Crafts, , skating on Snowflake Lake* and horse-drawn carriage rides*. *The activities listed may require advance ticket purchase or ticket purchase on-site.

The PEANUTS™ gang, and wonderful winter characters are all decked out in Holiday Spirit {except for Scrooge} and the joy is pretty contagious. With the help of some cheerful elves, Miss C and other excited children, wrote a letter to Santa at the North Pole Post Office.

 

Our family loved the singing and dancing featured in Charlie Brown’s™ Christmas Spectacular, and it was a great way to warm up the entire group, not to mention a fun way to get into the holiday spirit. All through the park is festive, live entertainment both indoors and outdoors.

If you’re anything like our coaster-loving family, you’ll want to take advantage of some extra ride time this season. With up to 16 rides, including Afterburn there’s sure to be a ride for family members of every age and thrill level.

Carowinds’ hasn’t forgotten the holiday treats. There are 20 new menu items just for WinterFest, including Turducken burgers, gourmet mac and cheese, gingerbread-eggnog and chocolate-peppermint funnel cakes, and homemade hot chocolate. {Buy your souvenir mug and get free refills on your day of purchase and $1 refills for return visits.}

Who would have thought, shoppers can browse for gifts at WinterFest too. My favorite section are the booths by local vendors at Artisan Alley. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, or ugly sweaters, the park has those too!

**Don’t forget, guests can visit WinterFest once for free when they purchase a 2018 gold or platinum season pass.

Otherwise, grab your advance-purchase tickets, and check out all the details at carowinds.com.

Billy Graham Library

Christmas at the Library

If you’re looking for a faith-based Christmas tradition Billy Graham Library is rich with history. Parking and admission are FREE. The library is known for it’s year-round Journey of Faith that creatively tells the journey of Billy Graham {this may be a feature you want to save if you have pre-school aged children}. During the holidays the library comes alive –literally– with a delightful live nativity.

Enjoy the sleigh bells jingling while you take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the library grounds {for an additional fee}, or make your reservations for Christmas Dinner and enjoy time with your loved ones.

We loved hearing the different carolers and musical groups that were featured while drinking a hot cup of cocoa. We haven’t been this year, but in previous years the only thing that was a little let down was the food selection and taste. You may want to consider dining out before or after your visit.

Find out more details about your upcoming visit to Christmas at the Library.

Founders Hall – Uptown Charlotte

Leonard Bearstein Orchestra


The Leonard Bearstein Orchestra is located in uptown Charlotte at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Building. This is a fun event to attend, especially if you have little ones. This full animatronic orchestra perform from on the hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. With the exception of Christmas Day.

Founders Hall also has some restaurants, places to grab a quick bite or coffee, and shops if you are planning on making the visit a longer trip.

**Occasionally, a regularly scheduled performance may not take place due to a special event in the hall. As a parent it’s always good to have a back up plan just in case. I always recommend 7th Street Market, ImaginOn, and the Light Rail.

Head here to view the schedule: Bearstein Orchestra

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Speedway Christmas

Speedway Christmas is definitely one of the must-visits if you haven’t been or if you are new to the area. Surprising to me, I’ve found that people either love the experience or don’t. My family personally really enjoys this Charlotte Holiday event, but if you have anyone who doesn’t like being in the car for an extended period of time they may not enjoy this selection as much. {We haven’t used it but have heard that the fast pass to skip the line is worth the additional fee.} There are several days and times that the speedway is less busy and lines are shorter.

We like to go on a day we feel will be less busy, but also one that still has the Christmas Village experience. In the past the village has had an opportunity to visit Santa, purchase Holiday gifts from local vendors, and enjoy yummy food and treats.

In a previous year we’ve enjoyed the nativity/Bethlehem experience and our girls always love the petting zoo filled with a variety of adorable animals. Often times there will be additional activities for an extra charge like carnival and horse rides.

Get your tickets and more information here: Speedway Christmas

 

While this is a pretty long list of some of our family favorites, we have others and know that you do too. Please comment and let us know your favorite local areas to spend the holidays with your family. Also tell us if you agree or disagree, we want to hear from you!!

Thank you to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and Carowinds for hosting us this holiday season!!

Wonderbly Book Review

Whether you have children with unique names or common names it’s always fun for them to read a book with their name in it. At Wonderbly they combine storytelling and personalizing to bring the child into the story. They allow you to customize so much more than a lot of other personalized book publishing companies.

Miss C recently received an opportunity to create her own story from Wonderbly. She thought it was so cool that she could personalize her very own book. It was so simple for us to customize online at www.wonderbly.com

She chose the Kingdom of You book, perfect for ages 3-10 (and maybe even a little beyond). We typed in her name, selected her gender and were able to choose from three “adventurers”.

They currently have two light skinned characters, (one with blonde hair and one with light brown hair) and one darker skinned character (with dark brown hair). {I’m sure it’s hard to have several different characters since the book is pretty personalized but would love to see Lost My Name expand in this area.}

After those initial steps you have even more selections to personalize the book and really make it yours. I personally like that it’s not only the name or character that they are changing in the book. C chose from several options and ended up with a fun, and unique story. We love that it’s personalized and something that she was able to create.

The story and illustrations in the Kingdom of You are super cute, and very well done. Wonderbly books are as much entertaining for the child as they are for the parent.

 

Books from Wonderbly are on average around $24.99, but with the customization and the incredible quality of the book I would say it’s a fair price.

I would highly recommend these books as a gift, not only will they be fun and exciting for the child to read, but it will be something that no one else will gift them. So if you’re looking for something unique check out several different Wonderbly products.

 

This is not a sponsored post, we received complimentary product to try out and are giving our honest opinion and thoughts.

Miffy Product Line – Walmart Exclusive

As a brand ambassador for Miffy I am excited to bring you news and exciting updates on all things related to the brand. I am not paid for my opinions.

 

Friends, today is a great day, not only because it’s another day to celebrate life, but also because Miffy’s exclusive product line with Walmart has launched.

 

If you’ve been watching Miffy on Nick Jr. or have checked out her books you’ll know just how adorable and delightful she and her friends and family are.

If you’re not familiar with Miffy, she was “born” on June 21, 1955. Why are you just now hearing about her? Well she grew up in the Netherlands and recently came to the United States via Nick Jr. “Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small,” debuted on Nick Jr. in 2016 and you can watch the show Monday through Friday {check your local listings}.

Miffy stories are now translated into more than 50 languages and the TV show currently airs in several countries across the world, so not only is she sweet and wholesome for our kiddos, but she’s universally age-appropriate.

My girls, though a little bit older, thought the Miffy toys were super cute.

 

 

Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small plush Miffy includes a super soft miffy. Press her hand for several phrases and a special Miffy song. Ages 18 months and up.

 

Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small figurines include Daddy, Snuffy, Miffy, and Mummy, and is appropriate for ages 2 years and up.

These and more items can be found both in stores and online. Head here: walmart.com to find out more information and make your purchase.

 

For even more Miffy fun check out Miffy at miffy.com and on social channels:

Facebook – @MiffyandFriendsUS 

Instagram – @Miffy_Official_USA 

Twitter – @MiffyOfficialUS

Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Field Trip

We received admission for the children in attendance to be able to experience and write our thought about Sea Life. The experiences and opinions in this post are that of MommyBKnowsBest.com and attendees.

 

 

Miss C’s first grade class has been studying the ocean, focusing on different ocean zones, and sea animals. Their most recent project asked them to choose something that lives in the ocean and become an expert on that animal. Children chose sand dollars, blue whales, giant squid, sea otters, and more. They were also challenged to find ways that these animals were being harmed and figure out a way to help them.

Sea Life Aquariums not only help to educate people about sea animals but they too are helping the ocean to thrive. Their motto: Breed, Rescue, Protect is exactly what they do. We felt with the current unit, going to Sea Life for a first grade field trip was the perfect fit.

 

Sea Life has a lot of great offerings for field trips for schools, pre-schools, homeschoolers and many other groups. We were able to learn that Sea Life is part of the largest seahorse breeding network in the world. At the Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina location, Catherine, our guide was incredibly helpful in tips on finding the octopus, and shared with us all about the new turtle shelter.

 

 

Throughout our visit we were able to enjoy talks where we learned in-depth about sea animals living at Sea Life. We even got to see the manta ray and other fish and sharks being fed by a trained Aquarist while Kathy talked to us about methods of feeding and what breeds were in the tank.

 

 

Sea Life offers great group rates, educational workshops, and behind-the-scenes tours whether you’re learning about the ocean and sea life or just looking for a great field trip where kids will learn AND have fun at the same time. Check out their website to find more information on group tickets, field trips, and more: www.SeaLife.com

 

 

caseable Phone Cases { Guest Review }

I constantly find myself changing my phone due to the nature of the case. I switch between the case with the best phone protection to the case that looks great.

Are you a cell phone case flip-flopper too?

Those who know me know I am not one for bulky cases. I often opt for slimmer cases because even though bulky cases are great for protection, they are thick and heavy which I find to be an inconvenience. {Not to mention they hurt my hands.}

Despite the reasons I don’t like thick cases, I still find myself not fully content with slimmer cases. While the look of the case is important, there is one common problem with slim cases: protection. If you drop your phone, you want it to be safe from shattering. I’ve dropped my phone because often times slim cases are very slick, to the point where a “death grip” is needed in order to prevent yourself from dropping it. It has been difficult finding a case that meets all the criteria, since one set of pros and cons are often sacrificed for another.

caseable cases have proven me wrong in thinking a case with all these characteristics does not exist.

 

The look of their cases are unique and will appeal to anyone who is looking to buy one. Because of the vast selection, it took me quite a while to narrow my picks down to just two. I found many that I liked and want to buy. Unfortunately, the website did not have a search bar which made it hard to find a specific kind of case. {Hopefully they will add a search option to make shopping on their site easier.}

Protection in slim cases normally fails to protect the entire phone. caseable cases have a unique texture, unlike any cases I have used. They are soft, but provide just enough traction to have a good grip on your phone without being worried it will slip out of your hand.

Usually the case will cover the left and right sides of the phone, but fall short on the top and bottom of the phone. This case covers more of the bottom and top by curving around it, providing additional protection if dropped. The case doesn’t cover the entire top and bottom of the phone, which some people might not like. I personally think it is better that it doesn’t because it’s easier to remove the case.

Another thing, {that my friend brought to my attention} is that the difference in weight of the phone with and without the case is not noticeable. When I pick up my phone I don’t notice right away, but feel comforted when I realize the case is on my phone.

 

 

By buying a caseable case not only are you protecting your phone, but the environment as well. These cases are made out of recycled water bottles, which is a plus in the purchase of one of these cases. While the price is a bit on the higher end, I think the price suits what the case provides. A five-dollar case on Amazon would not come close to the needs I have in a case for my phone as a college student and soon-to-be-teacher.

I would recommend a caseable case if you are looking for a case that will both look great, and give you the protection you are looking for.

caseable is giving MommyB Knows Best readers a discount good for $7 off any purchase when you enter the code  Summer7 at checkout. Head to their website www.caseable.com see their full line of phone cases for iPhones, Samsung, and more .

We received product samples from caseable in order to experience the product and provide you with honest thoughts.

 

Hayley is finishing up her sophomore year in college studying to be an elementary school teacher. In her free time Hayley enjoys photography, singing, watching Netflix, spending time with friends, and writing on her personal blog. Find more of Hayley’s work at halestakescollege.blogspot.com

Exploring Love Languages – Words of Affirmation

 

“Words can build you up,
Words can break you down,
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out.”

 

These are some of the lyrics of the song Words by Hawk Nelson. This has been true since the beginning of the spoken word, even as children we proclaimed in a sing-songy voice “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. We sang this not because it was true, but as a chant to ward off the pain that some harsh words can bring.

Though everyone is impacted in some way by words, there are some of us that give words great value. This means that discouraging or hurtful words feel even more sharp, and words of praise and encouragement mean the world to us. If it isn’t obvious by the way I’m describing this Love Language, Words of Affirmation is the number one way I feel loved.

 

 

Welcome to another installment of the Exploring Love Languages series on MommyB Knows Best. If you still haven’t read the  or taken your 5 Love Languages test (or test your family/friends) I strongly encourage you to check it out Exploring Love Languages and How to Show Them post.

If you know your love language(s) that will help you understand how you most like to be loved and also be a good determining factor in how you typically show love. Showing love to others is great no matter what way you choose to show it but in some instances love is received best using the love language of those we pour our love into. If we really care, I believe it’s important to get to know not only their personality but their love language as well.

Let’s dive into yet another love language and learn together. Each love language is so unique and I’d love your help, if you fit in the current category or know some great ways to show love using this love language won’t you please leave a comment with some advice?

 

To someone who doesn’t share this Love Language here are some ways to express love to people who value Words of Affirmation:

Use high value words

The words love, grateful, appreciate, proud, special, needed, best are some great words to focus on when speaking with someone who likes Words of Affirmation. Can you think of any others?

Compliment them

Pick something you really like about that person and tell them, it may not come easy to compliment, but will mean the world to them. Also, the more personal and specific you can get the better. Try to compliment them in an area that you know they work especially hard in. For example, if they volunteer a lot it’s likely that’s something they love and will be honored that you think enough to mention it.

Write it down

Words of Affirmation don’t have to be spoken words, they can also be written, whether it’s in a card, text, or a short note these words will be appreciated.

Reader Megan H says, “Words is not my love language but I speak words very well as words is one of my husbands love languages and also my daughters. Simple text each day to say you love them or are thinking of them are great. Also lovers of words like cards and simple notes too.”

As with all Love Languages there are several ways to show love in the way a specific person feels it. These are just a few ways to get you started. Do you have any advice on how to love (or how not to love) a person whose love language is Words of Affirmation?? Share in the comments below and if this is your love language be sure to share this post with others.

The Children’s Place Online Order Cancellations

After needing to update our girls’ wardrobes we did some shopping at The Children’s Place earlier this month. During a special promotion we received Place Cash to spend on purchases at a later date.

Yesterday I took advantage of a quiet moment to order a few things we were still lacking, excited at the great prices and the fact that The Children’s Place carries size 16 in girl’s clothing. After using my rewards coupon and Place Cash I checked out.

This afternoon, however I received an email that my orders had been canceled, which seemed very weird to me. After about an hour on the phone (34 minutes on hold and the other on and off hold with a very polite customer representative), I was told someone had hacked Place Cash numbers and used them from purchases and as a preemptive strike The Children’s Place was cancelling all online orders using Place Cash.

I received an email with new coupon and rewards codes, I’m a little surprised they didn’t offer anything for the inconvenience of having to reorder and being on the phone for so long. Also, I’m a little apprehensive filling up the cart again and also hoping we don’t miss out on any styles/sizes that we were able to “purchase” yesterday. I understand these things happen and the rep at The Children’s Place has been very understanding.

If you are stuck in this same situation, and would still like to use your cash, hopefully you won’t be on hold for the same amount of time, but be sure to call 1-877-752-2387.

 

Please comment here to let us know what your experience was.

Go!Go! Sports Girls – Toy Review

Be inspired, be a dreamer, think BIG!

We have some lofty goals for our girls, but feel that instilling future thinking qualities in them now will help them to aspire to greatness. We want our girls to love God, love others, and work hard to accomplish their goals in life.

I remember as a kid I wanted to be a ballerina, pediatrician, architect, mommy, teacher, and in different ways I’ve achieved some of those dreams through being a mom. Ever since they were little our girls have had dreams too. Since she was a toddler Miss C has wanted to be a fashion designer for people and pets, and Miss A has wanted to be a Little Gym instructor and has loved science and art/music since I can remember.

I’m thankful that my girls life in today’s world. While I’m not naive to the fact that in most cases women are still not being treated as equals to their male counterparts, I do know that there has been some progress and I’m excited to see what the future holds for them and their children.

Aligning with the ideals of empowering girls, Jodi Bondi Norgaard and Kara Douglass Thom have combined their talents to create Go!Go! Sports Girls. This unique line of dolls and books inspires girls to be strong, fit, smart, and adventurous to name a few qualities.

What we love about Go!Go! Sports Girls

In a world of dolls that often times are encouraging girls to grow up quickly, these dolls are refreshingly age-appropriate. Instead of focusing on hair and makeup these dolls and their stories emphasize what their bodies can do.

We were able to check out Go!Go! Sports Girls Read and Play Sets where dolls came with their very own stories. Soccer Girl Cassie and Cheerleader Girl Roxie were a big hit in our house as Miss C has been involved in both sports.

 

Go!Go! Sports Dolls are soft bodied, easy to clean and are also great to sleep with since they’re not hard like other dolls and toys. {Having the soft body does make them a little hard to sit up on a shelf though.} I also love that their hair isn’t easy to tangle.

Miss C really loves the books that come with the dolls. Cassie comes with a book about teamwork and Roxy’s book talks about being a leader, both great life skills for growing girls to learn.

The kit description mentions that they come with doll accessories, but our two dolls didn’t come with anything other than the doll, book, and the sports uniform the dolls were wearing. **Other dolls may include these items.

In having a chance to speak with creator Jodi Bondi Norgaard, I told her how, as a multiracial family always love when brands have girls of different ethnic backgrounds. While at this time the dolls are pretty light-skinned, Jodi mentioned they were hoping to add more dolls to their collection.

Current dolls include, Cassie – Soccer, Maya – Gymnastics, M.C. – Dance, Suzi – Swimming, Ella – Running, and Roxy – Cheerleading. Which doll do you think your child(ren) would like?

What qualities do you think are important for little girls to have??

Go check out their website for coloring pages, more information about creator, author, and illustrators, and their fun app! gogosportsgirls.com

 

Click on the link below to buy or check out dolls, books, and sets, or head to a local retailer.

This is not a sponsored post, we received product samples in order to test out the product. All opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are honest.

Fun and Easy Valentine’s Ideas for Kids

Valentine’s Day is a great holiday to celebrate with kids. My girls love languages are gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time, so basically they cover 4 out of 5 of the love languages. If you haven’t heard about love languages check out my blog post on Exploring Love Languages.

 

Because they have different love languages we do a few things both leading up to Valentine’s Day and on the day itself. Here are just a couple new and old traditions that we partake in to celebrate.

Valentine’s Day Countdown – Make a paper chain, calendar countdown, or think of something creative to count your way down to Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter what day you start but here are some ideas of what you and your family can do to count your way down to the 14th.

  • Hug someone in your family
  • Read John 3:16
  • Make a craft with hearts
  • Say one reason you love each member of your family
  • Help cook a family meal or treat in the shape of a heart
  • Look at pictures from past V-days
  • Help someone in need
  • Spend time with another family
  • Invite someone to church
  • Color pictures for extended family members
  • Write a letter to a missionary or military family
  • Make Valentine’s Day cards
  • Decorate your home with words of kindness


Valentine’s Day Tree

We found this Valentine’s Day Tree in the dollar section at Target. It was made for the classroom, but I find a lot of great items that we can use at home are teaching tools or made for school. I love how easy it is to love with words of affirmation and kindness using this simple decoration.

 

There’s also something similar on Amazon*, and of course you could make your own as well:

 

Now that I’ve shared a couple of things we do in our home, I would love to hear your ideas for Valentine’s Day. Share how you celebrate by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

Gabriela McBride, American Girl’s First African American Doll of the Year 2017

Exciting news folks! One month ago American Girl announced and started selling their Girl of the Year for 2017. Meet Gabriela McBride, American Girl’s first African American Doll of the Year.

Gabriela is a true talent who uses her passion for the arts—specifically spoken word poetry—to overcome personal obstacles and create positive change for her community. Gabriela launches with a beautiful 18-inch doll, plus several performance-inspired outfits, accessories, and toys. We’re also happy to share that, unlike past Girl of the Year characters, Gabriela will be available throughout 2017 and beyond.

And, to connect students with Gabriela’s inspiring message and to bring awareness to spoken word poetry, American Girl is partnering with Scholastic to create and distribute Express Yourself, a program for classrooms that empowers students to use the arts as a tool for self-expression. Available in March 2017, the classroom resources give teachers the tools to encourage students to find their creative voices, just in time for National Poetry Month in April.

As a multi-cultural family we love celebrating the uniqueness in the world and in our own home. We are so excited about Gabriela and love everything about her.

 

  • Her passion to inspire others and fight against the adversity of her stutter.
  • Her beautiful skin tone and soft curly hair
  • Her adorable athletic wear and fun style

 

It’s always great for your children to be able to see role models that can remind them of themselves. I am thankful for the virtues woven throughout Gabriela’s story that will inspire my girls to want to stand up for what is right and push through hard times.

Can you see the smile on this girl’s face???

 

We encourage you to take a look at American Girl’s first African American Girl of the Year, celebrate diversity, and inspire others around you. Head to American Girl’s Website for more details on Gabriela McBride, other great dolls and accessories.

 

We received Gabriela McBride as a product review. All opinions in this post belong to MommyB and her sweet, sweet children.