Tag - tips

A Visit to the North Carolina Zoo – Travel Tips

This is NOT a paid post. Thank you NC Zoo for hosting our family for this trip. All opinions are honest thoughts from MommyB Knows Best.

 

Imagine walking around on a beautiful day enjoying time with your family surrounded by some of the most incredible animals nature has to see.

Our family had the opportunity to visit the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro recently and we wanted to share our experience with you. In this blog series you’ll find out helpful travel tips, learn more about the zoo and it’s different areas, and hear about upcoming events.

 

For this first post we will focus on some travel tips we have for visiting the zoo.

Getting Around the Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is an expansive zoo that houses many different animals. It should take around 4-6 hours to visit the entire park. Touted as the worlds largest zoo there’s no surprise that when you visit there will be a fair amount of walking involved.

Major animal habitats provide a good amount of space to roam around and not feel as confined. Habitats are roughly 8 minutes walking distance from one to the other. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes and take plenty of breaks. There are some areas to sit, take advantage of those with a short break, enjoy the scenery and check out where you’re headed next on the map.

Strollers and wheelchairs are permitted and strollers are highly recommended for little ones to offer a break from walking. These items are also available for rental on a first-come, first-served basis at the Earth Explorer Gift Shop and Safari Gift Shop.

The park offers tram cars and buses inside the park and I would encourage your family to make use of them when possible, especially when weather conditions are hot or if you have very young or elderly guests.

Parking

Parking is free and there is also a free shuttle that operates from 11:am to 5:30pm during peak tourist season. We got to the park pretty early and had a very easy time parking and were able to have a short walk to the park.

Tickets & Fun Tickets

Single ticket costs are $15 per adult, $13 per senior, and $11 ages, 2-12, ages 2 and under free. (*ticket price subject to change). For us this was a very reasonable cost for entry because of how large the park is and what we were able to see. You can check out ticket pricing and get yours HERE.

AAA, SEANC and military members receive general admission discount with member identification.

If you think you will want to visit several times a year, park memberships may be purchased through the North Carolina Zoological Society.

During peak visiting season you can save by purchasing fun tickets in bulk. Whether your kiddos would like to ride the Carousel, hang out on the Giraffe Deck, or your family would like to make use of the Paddleboats or sit in and watch the latest move at the 4D Theater, there’s something for everyone. *Some attractions are weather dependent.

We used our Fun tickets for Rio 4D and it was a great experience, got us out of the heat and was something fun for the whole family.

Food

There are picnic areas open outside the park and several restaurants and snack shops and food/drink carts located throughout the park.

Our family dined at Billy D’s Fried Chicken restaurant. We loved the idea of a sustainable meal. While sustainable and farm-to-table are buzz words these days it really is neat to know where your food is coming from and knowing that it’s benefiting local vendors. When we visited they had recently opened and we were excited to try their yummy offerings. The waffle fries were a family favorite and I loved the dill in the ranch dressing. If you’re looking for food that everyone will enjoy but have a fun twist, definitely check out Billy D’s.

Shows & Attractions

The NC Zoo features regular feedings, check the feeding times for each animal as they vary. While we didn’t experience this first hand I can only imagine how neat it would be to check out.

If you’re looking for some adventure the park also offers the Air Hike Ropes Course for a nominal fee. Height restrictions apply and activity is weather dependent.

Another new attraction that we were able to check out during our visit was the Birds in Flight Bird Show. This show is around 25 minutes of feathered-fun! We saw funny birds, beautiful birds, talented birds and loved the audience interaction. This is a show that’s great for the entire family! Tickets are $3 per person over age 2 and well worth the cost. A great chance to relax, laugh, and see some beautiful birds.

 

Head HERE for more park tips and purchase your tickets!

 

In our next posts we will highlight favorite parts of our trip in both of the zoo sections, North American and Africa.You won’t want to miss it so make sure you subscribe!

 

Have you ever visited? If so, what are your tips for visiting?

Have any questions about the zoo? Head to my Facebook page!

Ways to Encourage Creative Play

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Child’s Play Communications. All opinions are my own honest thoughts.

Whether you have a child who is naturally creative or one who needs some encouragement in that area of play, enriching our child’s imagination is beneficial to them in so many ways.

It helps them to become problem solvers.

It encourages them to be dreamers and share their ideas.

It helps them understand who they are as a person.

It teaches them to be bold and proud of their accomplishments.

Creative play is incredibly rewarding so why wouldn’t we want all these things and more for our children while also letting them be kids and have fun?!?

Just as children can be naturally creative or not, so can the big kids, the adults. If creative play doesn’t come easy to you, that’s ok. The Schleich brand brings inspiration to you with their carefully hand-painted figurines.

When you encounter a brand that was founded over 80 years ago and is sold in more than 50 countries you know it’s a business your family can trust. When we first unboxed the adorable animals we noticed the incredible details right away. There is no doubt these figurines are very high quality as they look like the real animals rather than a cartoon version.

The Schleich Farm World set and Wild Life Starter Set (sold separately) feature easily recognizable animals, not to mention there are so many other sets they offer including a unicorn set, and Marvel comics! Both my girls would be in heaven. I personally love the elephant the most.

Of course you’re thinking my child can play with these animals and make believe, but what else?

Although ideas are endless, here are a few ways we thought would be fun to play with the figurines:

Grouping and Sorting – Using the figurines (and other toys too) group them into different categories.
{The Schleich website has scientific AND fun facts on each figurine/animal.}
  • Group by letter in the word
  • Sort by where the animal might live
  • Sort them by most furry to least furry (or another describing word)
Use them for storytelling starting with one animal and introducing each to the story line until the ending.

Play hide-and-seek or use them for a scavenger hunt. Clues could be things the animal eats or sounds the animal makes.
Ask your child to pick a figuring and draw their own rendition of it. It will be neat to see how they view the animal from their point of view.

 

What other ideas do you have to get creative with your kiddos? Thank you for sharing your ideas for other parents and caregivers.

 

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.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you make a purchase I get rewarded too. I would never link something I didn’t think would be a good purchase for my readers. Thanks for supporting MommyB Knows Best and be sure to leave a comment!

Kids Holiday Fashion Tips

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of OshKosh B’gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 

The holiday season is busy for our family, from hosting our own gatherings to attending get togethers with friends and even school parties and Christmas programs. As modern traditional parents, we want our kids to look festive but still be comfortable and age-appropriate.

We love the kids fashion that OshKosh B’gosh offers this time of year. Whether you have a child who likes fancy dresses or a child who prefers a nice sweater and jeans, OshKosh really does cater to a variety of styles.

With so many events to attend it gets pricey paying for several new outfits, but instead of buying one outfit for each event we love to buy separates that you can mix and match and Osh Kosh B’gosh kids has a great selection of coordinating pieces.

While shopping we saw adorable ponchos and super frilly dresses. Miss C ended up choosing some adorable print leggings and a romantic flowy top. She also picked out a glittery navy skirt to mix and match.

Another great way to save on the holiday clothing for your children is with an amazing Osh Kosh B’gosh coupon!!

Save 20% off $40 or more purchase with the following codes:

In-Store: 037264
Online: OKBG3418

 

And as a treat for the holidays, enter to win a $50 Osh Kosh B’gosh gift card!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Quick and Easy Holiday Teacher Gifts {Guest Post}

Cheap Holiday Gifts

If you haven’t met Stacy, she’s kinda crafty, which explains her blog She’s {kinda} Crafty. I met Stacy at Bloggy Boot Camp Atlanta and found out that she also lives in Charlotte – just like me, has two girls – also like me, and is crafty – {like I wish I was}.

Thus the reason I asked Stacy if I could feature one of her posts on MommyB Knows Best. I love crafting, Etsy, and all things creative, however I even though I think I can be semi-crafty I just don’t have time for it. Boo!! But I can live vicariously through others right?? Are you the same way or are you really, truly crafty?

For some kiddos, this is the last week/half-week of school so if you’re looking for easy, last-minute gifts for the amazing people who care for and teach your children I love this Peppermint Hot Cocoa craft/recipe:

I saw this cute recipe online at My Recipes and thought, why not! I bought the jars at Hobby Lobby while they were half off (so $1.25 each), the powdered milk ($10), sugar ($?? I can’t remember but it wasn’t much, just a 4 lb bag), 3 containers of unsweetened cocoa powder ($2.50 each), 2 bags of mini choc chips ($2 each) and 1 bag of brach’s peppermint candies ($2.29) so around $35 for 8 gifts (plus tags and ribbon). I think they came out adorable but it was a little touch and go in the beginning. I found that using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop was the easiest way not to get powdered milk, cocoa, and sugar ALL over my counters. I first tried using a funnel but that was a colossal fail!

Cheap Holiday Gifts

Once they were all assembled I added a little square of fabric I cut out using my pinking shears under the cap (I used Ball Jars) along with some ribbon and a tag I made for the gifts that include the directions on the back. In case you are looking for a last minute teacher or neighbor or family gift I have included the tags below, you can right click on them, save them, and print them. I cut them out using my paper trimmer, glued the 2 sides together, and used a hole punch so I could attached them with the ribbon.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Tag Front

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Tag Back

For more info on this post, and to check out Stacy’s blog head over to http://www.sheskindacrafty.com and check her out on Facebook too: http://www.facebook.com/sheskindacrafty

Also here are a few other crafts that may fit your holiday needs:

From CheckItOutDawn: Teacher’s Gift Box and Acrylic Frame Notepad Set

From Blessings Multiplied: Christmas S’mores in a Jar

What did you give your child(ren)’s teacher for Christmas? Did you make anything special this year, feel free to leave a link or instructions in the comment section!

Subway’s Share the Color Food Workshop – Giveaway

This post is in partnership with Subway. Any opinions expressed are my own.

 

I’m excited to share with you about the upcoming “Share the Color” Food Workshops hosted by Subway Restaurants in the Charlotte area!

 

Share the Color food workshops will be hosted from October 14th-21st at various Subway locations all across the Carolinas for families to attend.

Check out these links to find an event near you:

Charlotte Area

Carolinas Area

{Feel free to register for your free tickets through the link as well.}

Local food and nutrition experts will be on-hand, teaching a short lesson on nutritious food choices and making sure you have a lot of color variety on your plate. Children will participate in a hands-on sub making activity and enjoy a free nutritious lunch and a fun food explorer coloring book.

In honor of the event, I’m giving away a $25 Subway gift card to one lucky reader. To enter you must comment below letting me know your favorite thing to eat at Subway. For extra entries, share this post, and tag your friends on social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

mumi&bubi Baby Food Solids Starter Kit {Guest Review}

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had lofty goals of what would happen after she was born. She was going to sleep on an organic mattress, with organic bedding, wear only organic cotton clothing, only use cloth diapers, and I was going to make her baby food. But life doesn’t always go as we plan. Instead, I worked with what we could afford and did the best I could.

The one thing that I was successful with was making her baby food.

I would usually just take whatever we were eating, puree the vegetables, and that would be her dinner. Although it seemed overwhelming at times with just one child, that was so easy. As our family grows, I learn more and more about how important it is to be organized and to prep food ahead of time.

By the time baby number 3 joined our family, I had given up on cloth diapers and making my own baby food. I stayed in survival mode. It was just easier to buy the jars. I would buy organic and the jars with the least amount of ingredients, but we were just trying to get everyone fed.

This time I’m prepared.

Buying baby food was convenient, but not cost effective. By making my own baby food, I know exactly what is in the food she is eating. I can make my own blends, and even add the purees to dishes I feed my big kids (shh…don’t tell them). I can start freezing baby now so that when she’s old enough, there won’t be any excuses. I’ll just have to pull out a couple of cubes and thaw them.

The Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kit makes it easy to get started.

mum and bubi Solids Starter Kit Trays Review MommyB

 

You can put your mind at ease knowing that the trays are free of BPA, phthalates and other chemicals normally found in other plastics. The trays hold 42 1 ounce portions. Perfect for starting solids. But if your child isn’t old enough for solids yet, you can still use the Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kit for freezing breastmilk. You can either use the frozen milk for bottles or save it to thin the puree before freezing.

The trays stack neatly on top of each other and don’t take up much room in the freezer for the amount of food you are freezing at one time. Unlike ice cube trays, it is so easy to pop out the cubes! You simply push down on one side and the cube slides right out.

 

Mumi&Bubi Great Baby Food Solids Starter Kit Review MommyB

 

As if the trays weren’t enough, Mumi&Bubi even have a recipe book and a 6 Week Starting Solids printable Journal available for downloading. Easy.

The Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kit makes a great baby shower gift for the expecting mama.

You can check out the Solids Starter Kit here and follow Mumi&Bubi on Facebook.

 

 

Whitney HeadshotWhitney is a stay at home mom to 4 littles. The author of Infertility: a Silent Struggle and a God Who Hears. She also writes to encourage other mamas and to introduce readers to natural living with essential oils at Beauty in the Mess.

 

 

I received product in order to give a hands-on review of the Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kit. All opinions expressed in this post are my own honest thoughts. Yours may vary. 

Beach Wedding Favors

In July I had the amazing opportunity to go to Mexico to be in my best childhood friend’s wedding. Let me just say, a destination wedding, especially a beach wedding was simply breathtaking. Now I’m not only saying this because the bride was stunning and I love the couple, but seriously if you’re ever invited to a beach wedding, or are planning a wedding, I highly recommend it.

Not only is the beach a great venue for a wedding, but the favors that are available are adorable!! My best friend and bride Rushel did a great job selecting favors that would both be useful and be something that the wedding attendees would keep to remember her special event.

One of my favorite beach wedding favors was the message in a bottle favor from the WeddingsAway Etsy boutique. Carrie, the shop owner, has a great selection of wedding and special occasion items in her shop. The bride loved the options that were available with her Mini Message in a Bottle Favors.

The favors were not only made well, but they arrived on time and I thought they were a great touch with the added magnet and mini sea shells.

Some of the other favors included:

Necessities

Bug repellent bracelets – an essential to keep the pesky mosquitoes away.

Sun Screen – super important for a beach wedding, some international travelers may forget or have a hard time packing.

Fashionable items

Flip Flops – the bride diligently gathered guests shoe sizes, if the wedding party is larger than 30 I would recommend ordering some of each size. She also tediously personalized them herself, and to me, may be worth it ordering them from a supplier if you really want them personalized, you can also leave them plain too.

Sunglasses – we know theses are a must for sunny weddings, but they also make great photo props too. The entire guest list and bridal party donned these for a fun wedding photo opp in Mexico.

Fun Favors

Drink Cozies – personalizing these favors is super easy and helps keep your guests hydrated. I’ve also spotted slimmer versions for smaller bottles and drinks.

Hand Fans – should be listed as a necessity and a fun favor, but as we all know sitting in the sun on or near the beach can get warm, fans can be both beautiful AND functional.

 

What favors would you add to this list??

 

*Thanks to WeddingsAway for the Message in a Bottle favors!! For ordering information check out Carrie’s Etsy page: etsy.com/shop/WeddingsAway

 

 

Carowinds KidsFest Celebration

A couple of weekends ago we had the privilege of attending Carowinds’ KidsFest with our family. Although it was only for that weekend, I can assure you the many times we have been to Carowinds and hosted events this is certainly a theme park that has a lot of activities and rides for children of all ages.

While we were at Carowinds, we were able to watch and participate in singing and dancing at Harmony Hall midway with our favorite PEANUTS™ characters. We took a break from the head to color under some shade that was provided by The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC). We also got hands on with with Atomz Lab, learning about earth worms and physics. The nice people at Cabela’s taught us some safe ways to shoot arrows and C even got to try her hand at shooting foam-tipped arrows at floating targets.

One of my favorite parts of our day was the opportunity to meet local heroes. We were able to meet and thank the Flint Hill Fire Department, and people really enjoyed checking out the police car and appreciating Officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).

Unfortunately due to rain, we missed Disney Junior’s musical act Choo Choo Soul, but they did still perform at PEANUTS™ Showplace, and everyone who attended had an amazing time.

The only thing I felt could have been more kid-friendly was the DJ music as it seemed to cater more to the adults, but overall the entire event was a blast. We saw kids hula hooping, enjoying Planet Snoopy rides, and also loved the pop-up vendors and games.

We hope that Carowinds continues to host more kid-friendly events and look forward to those already scheduled.

 

What are your thoughts on Carowinds when it comes to younger children? Would love to hear your feedback.

This is not a sponsored post. We received media passes in order to experience and give our honest thoughts. All opinions are that of MommyBKnowsBest.com, each individual experience may vary.

Summer Schedule for Kids – Free Printable

Summer is all about fun and relaxation, I get it. However, a loose schedule is definitely something that our family needs to avoid meltdowns and still feel like we’ve accomplished a few things during the day.

After school let out we had about a week and a half where we just had down time and that was great, but I could clearly see a need for a little bit of structure to combat the, “I’m bored” or “what can I do now?” moments.

Browsing through Pinterest I saw a great Summer Rules Printable that I liked and wanted to create something similar that fit our family needs a little better.

I created a large poster and thought a watermelon theme would be cute for the summer. {Your artistic skills may be better than mine.}

 

 

Then we realized an individual list for each child would be helpful so they could check off items daily. Here is the printable that I created. Please feel free to use for your own family as well. I know task will vary by child and household so I’ve also included a blank printable that you can use and fill in yourself below.

 

Click the link to print: Summer Rules List MommyBKnowsBest

 

CLICK HERE FOR BLANK SUMMER RULES PRINTABLE

 

We placed the printouts in a plastic dry erase pocket so the girls could write and erase easily, each child has a different color pocket and I’ve really seen them take personal responsibility in completing these tasks without being asked.

 

 

Are your summers more scheduled? Are they less scheduled?

Do you create any summer lists??

Leave a comment below!!