Anders Ruff Workshop

Pineville and Davidson, NC

Disney Hacks

Stroller Edition

Adventure Air

Rock Hill, SC

Friday, February 15, 2013

Discover YOU

Healthy living comes to life at Discover You in Mt. Holly, NC (about 25 minutes from Charlotte).

Discover You is an interactive museum that encourages kids, teens and adults to learn about their bodies, and all the daily influences that can help or hinder a healthy lifestyle.

Upon arrival a personalized ticket is created with your age, weight (no one else sees it) and name. You can use this ticket at different activities to calculate how many calories you've burned. Information can also be sent to you via email for things like smoking cessation, sleep specialists and mind-body-spirit options. They also give a hand out of 'healthy' numbers for your age, like heart beat for you to track as you explore.

The giant active heart was my favorite display, when you put your hands on the bar it picks up your heartbeat and echos it through the speakers. S learned that if she jumped up and down while holding the bar the beat went faster. It was a cool way to show how her heart worked and explain why it's so important to keep it healthy.

The one display that stuck out for me was the junk food in a display case, there was a McDonald's burger and fries, and Oreo, a Hostess cupcake and margarine from Harris Teeter. All the items had been in the case for nearly 6 months and there was no sign of mold or decay at all - which really got me thinking - if mold can't survive on the nutrients from these items then my family sure can't either, and wow talk about preservatives - not cool! It made me think more about the small changes I could make for my family to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

S enjoyed trying the Tai Chi on the large monitor where she could see her "energy" waves as she moved along with the instructor. We also tried the stress game where two people sit with bands on their heads and determine who is more stressed, and then learn about stress reducing options. Then we went for a bike ride through the park with the help of surround screens and a stationary bike - I burned a small number of calories as we sped through.

They had a very inspiring display about local folks who had done amazing things after the age of 80, like one woman who published two books in her 90's. It was a reminder that each generation is living longer, and that the quality of our life when we are older will be dependent upon taking care of our bodies when we are young. 

S (age 4) was a little young for some of the bigger health concepts, but came away understanding more about junk foods and why they are bad for you, the basics to how her heart works and that mommy was more stressed than any of the employees at Discover You. The best age for this museum is 6 years - adult. There were some great reminders for me about portion control and how many calories are really in that number three combo.

I was surprised how visiting the museum made such an impact on me - and since our visit I've made a pact that I won't get any drive-thru food for the next 30 days and I've joined the Y and have taken several zumba and yoga classes to help with my fitness and mommy-stress.

Caromount's Discover You! is open M-F 10:00 - 2:30 and Saturday 1:00 - 7:00. Cost is $5 for Adults, $3 for 5-18 and $4 for seniors 60+. Kids under 5 are free.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wands, and Magic and Dragons - Oh My!

S choosing her wand
Great Wolf Lodge  is a family experience which allows you to step into a far away land just miles from Charlotte, in Concord, NC. In addition to an amazing water park they also offer MagiQuest - an enchanting scavenger hunt around the sprawling lodge where you can open magical chests, battle dragons and collect runes.

Exploring magic is what being a kids is all about - and MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge left our our daughter S (4 years old) and her cousin J (6 years old) spellbound.

Magic Up
Her quest began by visiting the kingdom store where they displayed wall to wall magical items, costumes and trinkets. She selected a wand to use during her play as a "Magi", and a created a special magic name. She chose Princess Aleata (no clue where she gets these names from) and her wand was activated by placing it in a stone and saying some magical phrases. Game play for 2 days is included with the purchase of a wand which range from $15.99-$21.99. She can re-use the wand which will remember all of the quests she's completed so she can start where she left off on future visits or different locations at an additional cost.

Getting Our Quest On
My wand-wielding girl
Once we watched the 7 minute informational video in the forest  it was time for some wand-wielding adventures, and S didn't miss a beat as she struck her sorceress pose. I won't lie - there are several degrees between all the adults and initially it had us a little bewildered. We weren't the only ones who were a little confused, luckily there were other parents to talk to and ask questions of as we walked through the mystical floors. We went to the trees with touch screens to choose her quest for a rune (a magical trophy). She (we) followed the 'Ancient Book of Wisdom' (directions) and searched for specific pictures, gems and statues around the lodge. When she found an item she shook her wand at it and music, talking and excitement ensued.  Along the way we stopped back at the kingdom store for some guidance on our quest, but eventually the adults caught on (or became obsessed.. right papa?) and we really began to enjoy ourselves. There is a lot of up and down the stairs - the second floor hosts the Forgotten Hall, the third floor the Whispering and Enchanted Woods and the fourth floor Piney Path and Tangled Woods. So wear some comfy shoes because you will be running after the wee-Magi.

Crystal Rune Attained!
We're Off to Slay the Dragon! Or not...   
We followed 'The Ancient Book of Wisdom' to navigate the forest/woods. The book includes 10 quests, which would take hours to complete. We adventured for about 3 hours and finished 4 quests, but the girls weren't going very fast. Some objects are trickier to find than others, but if you start at the beginning it advances in difficulty. Our kids (4 yrs and 6 years) loved it, but needed a lot of adult help - the adults needed adult help at times! I think this experience is ideal for kids ages 8-13 when they would be able to read and select their own quests without as much adult involvement. The dragon lair with a large, loud video dragon was a little intense for the kids, even the fearless 6 year old was too afraid to try and slay it, but for the most part the rest of the quest is age appropriate for kids 4+. This experience has left a big impression on the kids, and we will be back to MagiQuest again. You don't need to be staying at the Great Wolf Lodge to use the MagiQuest facility, so it's a perfect any time activity.