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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Northlake Mall: Adventure to Santa



'Tis the season to round up the kids for their annual picture with Santa. We were invited for an interactive, exciting new take on Christmas pictures with Santa at the the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. They're hosting Dreamworks 'Adventure to Santa', which is an innovative digital holiday experience for kids of all ages.


It's recommended that you make reservations for your adventure online here to help reduce your wait, and avoid any long Santa-lines.

You'll join Po from Kung Fu Panda and venture with him and his cast of friends on a journey to the North Pole to deliver cookies to Santa. The 'Adventure to Santa' is located near the food court, but on the first floor - the digital village that houses the adventure is quite breath-taking. All sides feature digital screens that show silly holiday scenes with Po and his friends. 


After we made reservations online in advance, we signed in at the front desk and received our passport to the North Pole. We waited outside of the large red doors, the kids bouncing in anticipation of seeing Santa.


The first room introduced Po, who explained our mission. The kids got to play on digital screens and help Po collect points before we moved into the next room for the sleigh portion of the adventure.


Next, we all loaded into a sleigh in front of an IMAX-like screen. Then we were off, there was some rumbling of the sleigh as we sky-rocketed to the North Pole. The older two were grinning from ear to ear, but little bits at 20 months wasn't as keen. My husband was able to stand up with her and then she was fine until we arrived at the North Pole.


The third room allowed our kids to create a printable holiday card by donning Po with custom faces, clothes, accessories and their names. My kids handed each of theirs out to their cousins at a family gathering, and felt very big and important doing so.


The final room was where the man, the myth, the legend - Santa- sat in his North Pole study ready to listen toy hopes and desires. We all sat and took pictures - perhaps little bit's face gives away how she felt about Santa this year - but the older ones just adored this experience.


We had booked the Top Flight Package, and with this package they included one of the coolest things I've seen - a high resolution video of the kid's interactions with Santa that they gave us on a jump drive, as well as the digital images and printed photos.


You can check out the price points and what's included for each package below. I've looked around, and at first glance the prices look a little steep, but if you compare the prices for Adventure to Santa to any other mall Santa package in the Charlotte area, you'll quickly see that you get a much more immersive experience. 


At the end of the visit Santa gifted each of the kids these adorable plates they can set out with cookies for him on Christmas Eve. 


*Mom About Charlotte Disclosure: We were given the Top-Flight Package to facilitate the review, but as always all opinions are my own. I tell all venues/events etc. that I review, that  I only share what I love with my readers. 


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Christmas Came Early for this Mom! House Cleaning with Hux.com {Plus Coupon Code}

As a single woman my house was always clean and tidy, oh the organized life I used to lead! Then I became a Mom and my standards had to be lowered, and lowered and lowered yet again as kiddo #3 joined our family. Priorities have shifted to play dates and soccer games instead of dusting and deep cleaning. It's the reality of my mom-life as I balance work, kids, husband and the occasional MNO.

In the past I've hired house cleaners through friend's word-of-mouth, but they'd never done the job as thoroughly as I felt I would have done it if I had the time. I never knew what was included or not included, or how much it would really cost me if they charged hourly instead of by the job. 

Enter Hux.com, they contacted me to see if I'd be interested in reviewing their house cleaning services. I skeptically told them that while it sounded wonderful, I was hard to please and that I only share what I LOVE with my readers, and that if I wouldn't recommend it to my sister I wouldn't review their service on my blog. They agreed to the terms and at 11:30 PM from the comfort of my bed while watching "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" on Netflix I booked a full clean service with Cliff and Daniel. 




After you create an account at Hux.com, you can get quotes for different providers in the area based on your zip code, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the level of cleaning you need. 
Each of the providers are background screened before they can be featured on the hux.com website, and since it can be odd having a stranger in your house, they are also bonded and insured to protect you. They keep high standards, only 3% of applicants pass their process. Plus they bring ALL the cleaning supplies!


I loved that when I booked the service - either light, full or deep clean I knew EXACTLY what to expect would be done upon my arrival home. I liked having a guarantee spelled out so that I wouldn't be disappointed. 


Each provider has a satisfaction number along with customer reviews, the number of recurring customers that they clean for, their fee and their availability. In just a few clicks I was able to book Cliff and Daniel for a full clean of my home, easy peasy.

I received a text message from Cliff and Daniel confirming my appointment and touching base. I was at work while Cliff and Daniel cleaned and my nanny was home to let them in. She was really impressed with how hard they worked and that they even brought in ladders and cleaned ON TOP OF MY CABINETS. Friends, they no joke unearthed 4 years of dust up there. I was hearing lots of good things on the phone from home-base, but I knew the true test would be me walking through the house to gauge the level of clean myself. 

When I got home, no joke - it was like Mommy-Freakin-Christmas-Morning. My house looked AMAZING. Each room I walked into was like opening a present of exactly what I wanted - clean organization that I haven't experienced in oh - 8 years.

My hardwoods gleamed, everything was neat and tidy, the carpets were fluffy from being vacuumed (even the stairs!), my master bathroom sparkled. Sparkled. My whole family showers in our master bathroom and it's a never-ending effort to keep it under control. Cliff and Daniel had every inch of my granite wiped down, every shelf dusted, the beds made, the laundry in the dryer I hadn't gotten to - FOLDED. They even organized my daughters heap of books shoved into her bookshelf into a tidy show-room like state. BLISSSSSS! 

Guys, I know I'm a mom and I tear easily for emotional things -but I don't think I've ever teared up over my house being so gloriously clean. It's the truth - the cleanliness brought me to happy tears! 

I can't recommend the quality work that Cliff and Daniel from Hux.com did enough - I've already shared my experience with my close friends so that they can experience the #MomLifeBliss that I was lucky enough to get connected to.


Did I mention they even left me chocolates? A clean house and chocolates. These guys are speaking my language, and I'll be booking them again very soon. 

You can enter the same level of #MomLifeBliss and get a $10 discount by using the code MOMABOUTCLTDEAL.

If you book through Hux.com I'd love to hear your experiences, comment below! 




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

{Giveaway} Jurassic Quest in Charlotte

Gigantic animatronic dinosaurs have been spotted migrating toward Charlotte, NC for Jurassic Quest at the Park Expo and Conference Center on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd.


This is a special chance to get the dino-lover in your family up close and personal, interacting with these life-sized creatures. Sharing time at school just got WAY cooler when your kiddo recounts that your family journeyed to the Jurassic and rode a dinosaur over the weekend! 


Along with the dinosaur exhibit, families can explore the fossil digs, inflatables, Jurassic Jeeps, bungees, crafts, dino theater, science stations and more! Kids 2-12 are $20 for a regular ticket and $29 for a V.I.P ticket. Under 2 are free and adults are $25. Military and law enforcement families receive a $5 discount on each ticket. The V.I.P ticket is the best value, and you know your kids will want to experience everything there! **Socks are required for ALL inflatables!**


You can purchase tickets by clicking here, and follow Jurassic Quest on Facebook here

{Giveaway}
We're doing a giveaway of 4 tickets for Jurassic Quest. 
2. Share this Facebook post publicly (change privacy setting for the share to public) 
3. Comment on this Facebook post with your kiddo's favorite dinosaur

We will pick our winner randomly on September 23rd! 






Sunday, September 4, 2016

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve


McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is located on Lake Wylie, and offers a fun stop off for family adventuring. Their nature center is home to several critters kids will enjoy learning about including turtles, snakes and frogs. If you catch them during encounter time your tots (or husband) can get up close and personal with their corn snake.


The kiddos will enjoy reading a nature book, or participating in a bug scavenger hunt. The nature center offers several classes and kid-friendly events such as 'Animals Like Halloween Too!' 'Whooo Are Our Owls?" and 'Babes in the Woods' throughout the year. 


You can check out their programs for kids and adults by clicking here. Entry to the nature center is free, and many of the programs are free as well - you can even borrow a fishing pole to explore Lake Wylie (must have a valid fishing license). 


The trails at McDowell Nature Center and Preserve vary in length and difficulty. They offer camping, picnics, playgrounds and Copperhead Island a primitive group camp and shelter. 


McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is located at 15222 York Road Charlotte, NC 28278. 704-588-5224. Hours are M-Saturday 9AM-5PM and Sundays 1PM-5PM. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nailed It DIY First Day of School Board - Using Family-Safe Paints and Stains *Plus Coupon Code!*


Shannon Evans and Misty Grant, owners of Nailed It in Fort Mill, SC invited my sister and I to craft and check out ECOS’s line of chemical-free, organic paints and stains they’ve brought on board for all of their DIY projects. I spend a lot of time educating myself on eco-friendly and chemical-free options to use in my home, so I was very interested to learn more about the products and her exciting DIY business. 


Check out those hues! Aren’t the colors so rich and gorgeous? 


As mothers themselves, Shannon and Misty wanted all the projects created at Nailed It to be adorable AND safe for their family and yours. ECOS brand paints and stains are locally-sourced from Fairforest, SC. They’re 100% organic, non-toxic, solvent-free, VOC-free and safe for your family. Shannon joked that you could drink them they’re so safe - we didn’t try that - but I was impressed with Nailed It’s commitment to offering their clients the most family and environmentally-friendly DIY option in the area without compromising the beauty of the paint. 


The timing was perfect for this DIY project at Nailed It. Aisles are overflowing with binders and book bags, and if you’re like me, you’ve pinned something similar to this adorable back-to-school board on your to-do-list before the big day hits.


I enjoy DIYing, but I’m no stranger to the #PinterestFail. I’ve never worked with paint and stains on a project like this, so I was nervous about how my board would turn out. I didn’t think I could create a board that would receive #PinWorthy status, or one that I'd be willing to debut in all of the back to school photos!


Nailed It is a super cute venue, it's inside of Birds of a Feather in Fort Mill, just south of Charlotte, NC and right off 77 at exit 85 (across from Baxter). It's about a 25 minute drive from Uptown Charlotte and even closer to South Charlotte. 


Shannon guided us step-by-step through the process. She is a talented teacher who dropped  some creative know-how on my DIY-curious self. She gave guidance on applying the paint, sanding and working with the stain and on how to create a rustic look. 

With her help it was fun, easy and we got to connect with the other ladies in the class while we shared laughs and wine. If you haven't had a chance to work with Shannon - she has an amazing energy and contagious laugh. She made us feel immediately at ease and empowered by her DIY can-do. We also realized we're both SUNY Oswego alumni and even attended during the same years - it's a small world! 


I was amazed by how easy the paints and stains were to work with. They had great coverage, zero toxic smell and a little went a long way. Check how Larisa and I rocked the rustic look!


Shannon's instruction added to my confidence and my board ended up being 100% #PinWorthy! When I talk to other moms who aren't DIY confident I always hear - "I'd love to, I always thought it sounded so fun, but I'm afraid mine would turn out just awful." From one #PinterestFailQueen to another, take my advice and try this class. Each woman in the class came from a different age, background and skill level but created a unique and beautiful piece. 


I wasn’t the only one that was impressed with my new DIY skills, my 7 year old made me show her the Nailed It stamp on the back of the board to prove I hadn’t bought it! Yup. I totally Nailed It

My sister and I had so much fun with this project - plus it's a keepsake we can use year after year to help mark the Milestones and Memories of the first days of school. We’re planning on returning to make holiday advent calendars we can have for our family to celebrate the holidays! 

Nailed It is offering my favorite readers (yes that’s you!) a $5 discount for any class you sign up to take at Nailed It between now and the end of 2016 using the code MOMABOUTCLT in the promo area when you book. 


You can check out Nailed It on their website here, follow them on Facebook here and obsess over their must-have DIY creations on Instagram here. Nailed It is a great venue for birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, bachelorette parties, girls night out, family gatherings and neighborhood get togethers and fundraisers. Plus they have paint, wood and will travel - they'll even come to your event and set up shop - that's DIY on the go! Check out their website for more info.

I was provided this class free of charge allowing me to blog about my experiences, but as always all of my opinions are my own and my promise to my readers is that I won’t share anything I don't love and recommend. A huge thank you to Larisa Black with Photography By Larisa for providing all of the photos in this blog. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

First of School Sign PDF image $10 each - All $ Goes to Buy Supplies for a Charlotte Title 1 School

It's nearly back to school time in Charlotte, NC the kids are brewing with excitement about new teachers, new classmates and a brand new year of learning.

For some families the school supply list can be a hardship on the monthly budget, and each year teachers spend their own money to buy supplies to help bridge this gap.


This year I've decided to put my photoshop skills to work and make these adorable Customized First Day of School Signs, then I'll donate all the money collected to purchase school supplies for Charlotte area Title 1 schools.

I'll happily customize the sign with all of your child's information and email you the printable PDF file (you'll be able to print to 8.5 x 11 paper) for you to print at home or wherever you like to print color copies.


It's easy to order, just send $10 for each sign you want via pay pal using the "Send To a Friend" so neither of us will be charged a fee, to LareinaWelch@gmail.com.


In the "note" include the following information about your child:

Child’s First Name: 
Child’s Grade: 
Child’s Age:
Date of First Day of School: 
Want to grow up to be a: 
Name of School: 
Teacher’s Name:
Favorite Food:
Favorite Color:
Favorite Subject:
Favorite Movie:
Best Friend:
Favorite TV Show:
Favorite Song:
Favorite Activity:
Height:
Weight:
Your Email Address for the file to be sent to (it'll be a pdf): 

Any questions? Email me at MomAboutCharlotte@gmail.com

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Carowinds Bands, Brews and BBQ's



Carowinds has long been known as a place where people come together, after all it's where North and South Carolina's borders converge. This summer Carowinds is hosting another fabulous collaboration melding some of my favorite things in a crowd-pleasing experience called Bands, Brews and BBQ's. From now until August 14th on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Carowinds will be featuring ice cold craft beer, drool-worthy BBQ and music sure to get your family dancing.



Swing by while you're in the park and purchase tokens to enjoy samples of your favorite summer-time treats. Tokens are 3/$4, 6/$8, 9/$12 and 15/$20.  Access to the #CarowindsBBB area is included in your admission.

Check out our LIVE Facebook tour of the event here and see all the tasty goodness that you need to check out! You can follow Mom About Charlotte on Facebook here.

https://www.facebook.com/MomAboutCharlotte/videos/835770446524700/



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Random Act of Kindness Day

Join my sister Larisa (http://www.photographybylarisa.com), and invite your friends as she encourages us all to participate in a #RandomActOfKindnessDay. She's putting her idea of #spreadinglove into action! 


Here is the invite to "attend" on Sunday, July 31st - join her and invite your friends! Let's share love and kindness! 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1797579033786999/?ti=icl

From the invite: 
  With all the hate and violence that has been in the news lately this country needs a day where everybody thinks of someone else and spreads love and kindness. Please continue to pray for those who have lost loved ones, but also get up and do something to help this country step away from the hate. 

If everyone in this country did one random act of kindness from 324 million people, that could have a huge impact and change that hatred into love. 

What are some random acts of kindness you could do? Help someone cross the street, listen to another person who is talking about hardships in their lives, volunteer for a nonprofit organization, give blood, give a hug, give a compliment, write a thank you letter, send a small gift to someone for no reason, pay for someone's coffee, pay for someone's grocery bill, cut a neighbor's grass, shake the hand of a stranger, help that mother in the grocery store whose kid is having a tantrum, give free lessons if you have an artistic talent, bake a cake for a member of the community, JUST DO SOMETHING! 

If we an make this go viral, get it on the news and get everyone to know this good day exists it might be one step closer to peace in this country. 

No, I don't think it will change everything, but it's one step closer to love!
Please invite your FB friends and everyone you know to take part in this day! Then on July 31st comment on what you did as your random act of kindness. Sending much love to you all!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Kid-Friendly Stops to Beat the Heat at South Park Mall


Moms. It's getting hot out.


Yes, I know we live in the the South, but this week it's felt more like we're straddling equator rather than living in Charlotte, NC.

My sister and I were bemusing where to bring our kiddos on these too-hot-to-be-outside Summer days and we came up with a fabulous game plan. South Park Mall is one of my favorite places to stroll and shop. Malls are perfect for getting the kid's energy out while sneaking in a few errands and catching some sales.

We parked in the Dillard's parking garage so our swagger wagons were covered and not volcanic upon our return with exhausted little ones.

http://54zexyd7o4z58ttz19dx11xa.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/600x450_0007_store-front-600x4501.jpg
Our first stop was the LEGO store, the kids were able to play with some of their loose LEGO's and check out all the large box LEGO possibilities. If you swing by the first Tuesday or Wednesday of the month you can participate in their FREE LEGO mini-build. Pre-registration is required and you can sign up for August's mini-build by going here.


We wandered into Pottery Barn Kids which always has SO much adorable stuff that makes my wallet cry. The kids like the kitchen sets, cranes and tea parties they have out for exploration by little hands. It's easy to spend time taking in all their newest must-haves for the house while the kids play house and I rationalize how it's actually a pretty good deal to spend $200 on a comforter (I mean it's on sale..).


The Disney Store has recently moved from Carolina Place Mall to South Park, and being a major Disney fan - it's always a must stop. The Disney Store is hosting Summer Play Days until September 5th. Each day your kids ages 3+ can participate in store events including Art of Animation, Trivia, Story Time and Showtime. Specific dates kids will receive a FREE TSUM TSUM wrist band - check out the dates here. Our kids love spotting their favorite characters, coloring and watching clips of Disney movies.


Next we swung by the Microsoft store to take in all that's new and digital. They offer FREE #YouthSparkCamps for kids ages 5-24 you can find out more about their offerings by clicking here.


My kids are love the samples of tea at Teavana so I order an iced tea while the kids follow me around the store with their tiny sample cups thinking they're all British and such. I love collecting all of their tea one ounce at a time. 


The American Girl store is a perfect place to bring your kids to wander, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it too. It's 100% concentrated girliness throughout the store. There is so much for the little ones to look at, and you can even grab a snack at their bistro. They offer events throughout the month ranging in price from $10-$40, you can see their events schedule here at the bottom of the page. 

Image from: http://www.charlotteparent.com/CLT/Perked-Up-Playdates-6-Free-Spots-to-Have-a-Mommy-Meetup-in-Charlotte/
Last but not least is squishy, climbing, crawling fun of the outdoor ship play area located just outside of Urban Outfitters and California Pizza kitchen. I know these were tips to beat the heat, but stopping at this fun playground will give you a little while to warm up again before you head back inside to enjoy the AC in all its majesty. The bonus of this area is that there are large sails to create shade, however be aware that some of the ground and the equipment that is getting direct sunlight can be very hot. This is where you'll get an A+ if you've remembered to pack water bottles!


On your way out the door grab yourself a Starbucks for the drive home, and hope that the kiddos fall asleep in the car so you can park in the driveway running the air while they sleep and you scroll through your favorite social media site. Huzzah summer!




Monday, July 4, 2016

Family Figurines from Portrait Innovations 3D Studio Experience

Since becoming a mother I've taken on a self-appointed mama-paparazzi status. "Smile for mama sweetie!" echoes through our home on the daily. I'm consciously living in the moment - but I'm also taking photos, scheduling photo shoots and recording videos. In my mind I'm trying to freeze-frame  these precious moments with our children.

"Soak it up now," my friends with older kids say, "You're going to blink and they'll be teenagers. I miss mine being so little!"

All I can think is that I miss mine being as little as they were last week! There are no more crawlers in my house, my son is entering his last year of pre-school and my daughter has lost too many baby teeth to count. These moments are fleeting, so I'm doing my best to 'soak it up' while we're living in these memory-making years.

Down the road, when our house is quiet and there are no lunches to pack or diapers to change, I want to be able to reflect back on our pictures, videos and keepsakes and re-live the highlights of our lives together. The details of their chubby little arms, their little peanut noses and toothless grinning smiles. Every day I think to myself "If only I could freeze time."


When I discovered Portrait Innovation's newest line of products from their 3D Studio Experience, I was thrilled by how their technology essentially allows you to freeze time in a 3D figurine. In addition to their beautiful portraits work, Portrait Innovations in the Promenade Shopping Center in Charlotte is offering their 3D Studio Experience, which takes photography to a whole new level. 


Over 200 cameras work in concert to capture your family's 3D image inside their state-of-the-art studio.  They are one of only a few studios across the country offering this 3D technology- so Charlotte, we're lucky!


The kids happily stepped into the 3D studio and cheesed for the camera. Once our favorite photo was selected they were able to create a 3D keepsake figurine of the kids. In addition to figurines they also offer wedding toppers, bust statues, face magnets, game pieces, mini caricature figurines, and my kid's personal favorite - mini heads that fit on their LEGO bodies. 


They did an amazing job of capturing the essence of our kids in 3D - I LOVE how little bits is mid-step in her bare feet, little hands clasped - and that sprig of hair! My big guy is wearing his up-to-shenanigans-smile and my almost 8 year old has her hand on her hip, showing her natural sassiness! It's my sweet kids, perfectly frozen in time. 

While I was getting all weepy about their individual figurines, my kids were over the moon about their custom mini heads -which were only $4.99! They're ecstatic to be real characters in their block building endeavors. 


While every parent would love these figurines, they also make an amazing one-of-a-kind gift for grandparents! Grandparents Day is coming up on September 11th - so you still have time to order Grandma and Grandpa something that'll make their day memorable. We had our portrait studio session on a Saturday and it took about a week to receive our figurines and mini heads, I was impressed with the fast turn around time. 

Figurines range from $99 to $349 depending on the size and number of people. Our figurines were 6" and cost $99 each, if we had done a group figurine (i.e. if little bits would have stood still..) it would have cost $199 for the group of three, and they would have been created proportionally to one another.

For the month of July 2016 Portrait Innovations in Charlotte is offering a coupon for 25% off of figurines - so be sure to make an appointment soon to take advantage of the discount!

For more information you can stop by Portrait Innovations in the Promenade Shopping Center located at 5349 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Suite 700 Charlotte NC, or give them a call at 704-844-8633. They are closed on Mondays but open 9am-6pm Tuesday through Sunday. You can also click here for more information about their studio and schedule an appointment online. 

We were gifted our figurines and mini-heads, but as always my opinions are my own. I only share what I love with my readers, and I think you'll love these adorable custom keep sakes.