Sunday, September 14, 2014

Science Fun for Everyone

What it is:  Now, we've been to plenty of area birthday parties from bouncy houses to local parks, but we never went to a birthday party like the one we were invited to this weekend.  It was at a place in Cary called Science Fun for Everyone, and we had a wonderful time!  When we walked in, the kids were immediately given little lab coats to wear for the party.  There were interesting animals in cages around the brightly colored room to look at before the party started.

Once the party started, the kiddos decorated goody bags and then did great science experiments for an hour.  They were able to make "mars sand" that never got wet, and "alien snot" which they were able to take home.  They also taste astronaut ice cream, watched mentos and soda explode, made "astronaut toothpaste" and even went outside to shoot off a water rocket.  The party finished with some time to party with the guest of honor, and each guest got an awesome goodie bag full of fun science toys to take home.  The "scientists" hosting the party were great, and we had a great time!

In addition to birthday parties, Science Fun for Everyone also offers after school programs at some Wake County Schools, and offers camps for children.  Their website also has some great experiments that you can do with your kids at home.

What we liked:  It was a different idea for a birthday party.  The experiments were fun and the kids actually learned something.  My boys both walked out wanting to have a birthday party there for their next big day.

What we would change: Science Fun for Everyone is located in Cary, so it's about a half hour drive.  Plus, the birthday parties are a bit pricey, but still in the range of other birthday parties around here.

Website and other important information:


Address: 111 James Jackson Ave. #131, Cary, NC 27513


(the lab)

(some of the animal cages)

(astronaut toothpaste)

(astronaut ice cream)

(alien snot)

(Mars sand)

(what a fun party!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adult Workout Series

Justin from Chapel Hill Training is back!  He recently posted a fabulous workout series for parents that everyone can do with their kiddos.  Now, he's here to tell us about some ways to workout quickly when the kiddos are napping or sleeping or somehow you have another free moment.  I can't wait to try them out, enjoy!

Woo! We hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. It is still hot in North Carolina for sure. This next series will have more of an adult focus. Workouts tailored to your problem areas. Get ready for some quick, transformative results with these next four workouts. As always, do not be a stranger. Feel free to ask us any questions, especially about how to fit this into a holistic health plan for you and your family. This workout can be done twice a week.

We surveyed common goals the mothers we train have. It included increasing muscle tone in the legs, arms, and core as well as reducing body fat. Reducing back pain and injury prevention were also popular. These workouts will help in all these fields and in promoting general health. It is short and effective. Enjoy =)

Warm- up:

2 rounds of:  15 jumping jacks, 15 chair squats, 15 knee pushups, 30 second plank


Rest as little as possible. Time yourself and record for the next time you workout. Make sure your form stays spot on.

4 rounds of:

10 chair dips

Back up to a chair or couch until your torso is a few inches over the edge of the furniture. Your arms should be close to your sides. Push the elbows back and lower your torso slowly. Return to the starting position when your elbows reach a right angle. You can bend at the knees to make the exercise less challenging.

15 hip bridges

Lying on your back, position your feet on the floor with bent knees. Your heels should be 12 inches from your hips. Keeping the entire foot in contact with the floor, push through your heels to lift your hips off the ground. Squeeze the glutes and pause at the top of the movement. Return the hips to the ground.

20 full plank knee ins (10 each leg)

Start at the top of a pushup position, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Alternating, bring one knee in towards your chest, keeping your core tight. Avoid rounding your lower back. Bring the leg back to the start position and switch legs.

30 second wall sit

With your back against the wall, lower yourself so that your knee is at a right angle to your ankle. Push back against the wall, using your hips to keep you there. Hold for time, and make sure your back stays against the wall.

Train Better. Live Better.

Justin Hardy

Chapel Hill Training

400 West Rosemary St. Suite 1003

Chapel Hill, NC 27516



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Aloha Safari Park

I was very curious about going to this place because I had heard very mixed reviews from “This is my favorite zoo and I’ll never go to another one again!” to “You should never go to this place and it should be shut down.”  So, I did a little research and headed down a few weekends ago.  Here is what I discovered and my opinions from the visit.

What it is:  Aloha Safari Park is a zoo near Sanford, about an hour away from us in Durham.  They have a variety of animals as well as a safari ride through the zoo.  They have rescued all of their animals, so not all of their animals are in perfect conditions, but they have come to the safari park to live out the rest of their lives.

When we arrived, it was about 11 in the morning and clearly a busy day at the zoo and the parking lot was getting full.  We paid at the little booth at the entrance and added a safari ride (which is only available on Saturday and Sunday) and some food to feed the animals with the admission.  I was a little curious about the fact that they had given me popcorn and sandwich bread to feed all of the animals there, but I trust that they had determined it was safe for all their animals.  

We first stopped by a pen with goats and other farm animals who were clearly very interested in our food.  One actually wandered up to me outside the pen inquiring about the food we had.  You definitely get up close with some of the animals at the safari park.  Next, we wandered over to a pen in the middle of the grass clearing where a worker had a baby tiger out to show us.  While we were there we could talk to him about the tiger.  He said that this particular tiger was 8 weeks old and had been born there.  He also mentioned that some of their tigers were leaving the next day because they no longer had room for them and they were going to a larger space.  I thought it was nice that they were careful to relocate their animals when situations got crowded.

After our introduction to the tiger, we wandered further down the grassy clearing where we saw a huge Burmese Python slithering through the field with his handler.  I was definitely glad that the handler was keeping a close eye on the snake, but my boys were both clearly thrilled that they got to pet such a large snake.  Also out in the clearing in a different pen, we got to meet a skunk, and the boys also loved watching some peacocks strutting around and searching for their feathers.

Then, we headed into some buildings to see more animals.  The building was probably my least favorite part.  The cages were small for the monkeys and other animals there, but the whole building was not large and we soon were out behind the building where there was a marked trail for us to follow around the zoo.  We walked by cages with tigers, bears, alligators, wolves, and lots more.  There were double fences so we were definitely protected, but the animals certainly felt close.  

At the back of the walking part of the zoo, we got to meet their giraffe.  There you could buy some sliced carrots to feed to him because he didn’t eat the other food.  The guides that were there discussed how this particular animal had been rescued from a garage where he lived for two years and had his growth stunted, poor thing!  I’m glad he seemed happier there, my older boy and I fed him some carrots and he nibbled our hands.  Watch out for your hats though because we did see him grab a baseball cap right off someone’s head while we were there.  Fortunately, the guides retrieved it.

Next, we got in line for the safari.  We had to wait about a half an hour for our ride, but apparently, our wait was a bit longer than is typical.  We all got on a large wagon and they gave us some more bread to feed to the animals.  Then, we rode through the field feeding animals as they ran along next to us in their pastures.  There were all kinds of animals that we were given of a description of by the guide.  While I couldn’t here much of what he was saying because we were on the wrong side of the wagon, we loved seeing the animals including water buffalo, zebras, camels, ostriches, lots of varieties of exotic horned animals, some that are even extinct outside of captivity.  It was really neat to see.

That ended our tour of Aloha Safari Park, and while my boys saw their stand selling sno cones, we decided to save that for another day and head out.

What we liked:  I really liked the mission of Aloha Safari Park.  They had clearly rescued a lot of animals of all different varieties from very bad situations including garages and traveling shows like state fairs.  I also liked how we got to get up close and personal with lots of the animals and truly experience them.  There was a more informal feel of the place which gave us the chance to talk to the guides who all seemed to be very passionate about what they were doing.  

What we would change:  While I loved lots of things about Aloha Safari Park, there were still some things that gave me pause.  First, I thought some of the enclosures seemed a little small for some of the animals or too near to another animal they might not get along with.  However, I assume their current situation was better than where they were before.  My friend who went with me also wasn’t sure about the food that was given to the animals, but the animals seemed happy, and those that didn’t want it, didn’t eat it.

Website and other important information:

Address: 159 Mini Lane, Cameron, NC 28348

Admission: $8 per person (children 24 months and under are free), $3 for the safari ride (only available on weekends)


(the entrance)

(the big snake)

(the bear)

(the giraffe)

(a view from the safari ride)

(the animals munching behind the trail ride)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Parkside Town Commons

What it is:  I don't know if anyone has seen if yet, but there's a great new shopping center that is being built at the intersection of Hwy 55 and I-540.  I know what you're thinking, that's in Cary!  None the less, I timed it from my house in S. Durham and it's only 9 minutes away-making it much closer than lots of other Durham shopping.

I did a little investigating to find out both what is open and what is going to open soon.  Right now in "Phase one" there's a brand new Harris Teeter, which is nice, but not very different than the existing ones.  There's also a brand new Target.  Other stores and restaurants open in Phase One include Tijuana Flats, Jersey Mike's, Massage Envy, Petco, and more.

They've been working hard on finishing "Phase 2" as well.  From what I heard there will be a movie theater complete with a bowling alley, a Field and Stream store, and lots of other smaller restaurants and stores.  One of those restaurants that I'm super excited about is Chuys.  This transplanted Texan was thrilled when I saw their logo on the Parkside Town Commons website.  Then, when we went to Chuy's last night they confirmed that they are opening on in Cary, slated to open in March.  So, hopefully, it will actually come to fruition and we will actually have a Chuys in this corner of the Triangle.

On a side note, there was also an article floating around that someone is building a Whole Foods somewhere at that intersection. It will be in another shopping center proposed for that intersection, but I'm not sure quite where.  Whole Foods would be another store that would be great to have in that part of town.

What we liked:  We love having lots of new fun stores pop up so close to us.

What we would change: Of course, I would like the construction to be done so we can see how everything is going to turn out.



(Pictures of phase two which is still in progress.  I took this picture a few weeks ago and it's amazing how much progress they have made since then.)

(The new Target)

(The new Harris Teeter)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bull City Craft Paint and Pour

What it is:  You guys have heard how much we love Bull City Craft.  We've already told you about their preschool playcraft, birthday parties, and ornament parties.  This time we were fortunate enough to check out one of their activities for grown-ups.  A group of moms and I were lucky enough to get a rare night out.  First, we headed to Thai Cafe, which I highly recommend for some great food, and after our lovely dinner full of actual adult conversation, we headed over to Bull City Craft.

We had reserved it for a group gathering, but they also have scheduled Paint and Pour night every Friday at 7pm.  Each night they have a different painting to learn and paint.  This time, we were painting the Lucky Strike Tower in downtown Durham.  Of course, it was Paint and Pour so we could all bring our own bottles of wine so we could have a glass while we painted.  Jessica, the awesome owner of Bull City Craft was painting the picture at the front of the room and we all sat at tables with our own canvas, aprons, and paints watching and learning from her.  While she was our guide, we could take whatever creative turn we wanted.  There were also lots of example pictures placed around the room to help.  In the end, after several hours of fun and lots of laughter, whether we considered ourselves artists or not, we all came out with a picture we loved.

What we liked:  Painting and using the creative side of my brain like that is something I don't normally do in my daily life, so it was lots of fun!

What we would change:  Unfortunately, it is definitely an adults only outing, but definitely worth the babysitter!

Website and other important information:


Address: 2501 University Drive, Durham

Class time: Fridays at 7pm

Cost: $35, with a $5 discount for eating at one of the neighboring restaurants and bringing the receipt


(the setup)


(watching our instructor)

(the finished result)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers

What it is: You've probably noticed a bunch of new restaurants popping up over the past few years along 15-501 near the intersection with I-40.  We've seen the introduction of Moe's, Five Guys, PDQ, and now, we also have Freddy's.

We stopped by last Sunday for lunch and apparently, we were not the first one to find this new spot. Freddy's was packed.  We waited in line for a few minutes, but that just gave us time to look over the new menu.  Their specialty is steakburgers and hot dogs with various toppings however I also noticed that they had some chicken options.  They paired the burgers with fries of onion rings.  Freddy's also offered delicious frozen custards in sundae, concrete, oreo custard sandwich, malt, and milkshake form.

I tried a steakburger, particular type of thin, griddle-fried burger, with fries and my husband tried the double with onion rings.  My kiddos sampled the kids' meals, one with a hot dog and one with a burger.  The meal came with fries and a drink.  The atmosphere of the restaurant was a 50's diner feel and we had a really enjoyed our meal. Of course, we couldn't leave without sampling dessert.  When I hopped back in the very long line to get my dessert I learned something valuable.  Apparently, you can order your dessert with your meal and skip the line when you're ready for dessert and just go up to the register and ask for it.  I will definitely do that next time.  However, once we got our "dirt and worms" sundae, it was delicious, and the custard was particularly good.

What we liked:  The food was yummy, and the service was very good.  Also, it was nice to go to a place where they work really hard on both the entrees and the desserts.

What we would change:  When we went on Sunday afternoon it was very crowded, so next time I might try to go back at a different time to see if it was less crowded.  That being said, we had no trouble finding a table even though it was crowded.

Website and other important information:


Address: 3303 Watkins Rd, Durham, 27707

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:30am-10pm, Sunday: 10:30am-11pm


(my lunch)

(my husband's meal)

(our sundae-"dirt and worms")

(a view from the outdoors)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting Fit with Kids Week 4-Wrap Up

Four Easy Steps To Great Health
Great work on the last workout everybody. We had fun coming up with an animal inspired workout that trained the full body in an interactive way. This will be the last week for the adults and kids workouts. Next week we will develop workouts for adults (which can be done with kids, but are more focused for adults). This last article, of the first series, we want to talk about you and your family. 
As we all know, your health is important. But it is common for us to put other priorities in front of it. Why do we do this? Time? Stress? Lack of Motivation? Here are the easiest steps to reprioritize what is important in your life and to really make a healthy lifestyle something your entire family embraces.
Write down each of these questions and answers somewhere you can see everyday.

Step 1) What is my current state of health?
If you do not know, go to a doctor. Take a baseline assessment of yourself. Things like your weight, body fat percentage and record it along the way. We recommend once every two weeks.

Step 2) What are your goals?
Be specific. It can be to lose weight, gain strength, reduce your blood pressure, etc.
It does not have to be a huge goal. It could be as simple as losing 5 pounds. But quantify it. If you want to get stronger, how so? Maybe a new push up record or more muscle tone? Whatever it is, be specific.

Step 3) How am I going to reach these goals? And by when?
You need to hold yourself accountable if you want to reach goals. Plan out how you will reach your goal. What will it look like? Will you walk everyday? Will you  begin cooking healthier food? Be specific about the steps to your goal and make realistic dates where you can check in and see how you are truly doing.  This is where you can compare to your baseline and continue your first measurements.

Step 4) What Will I Enjoy?
Enjoy what you are doing. Initially, you will be creating a habit to exercise or eating better or both. But, eventually it will become a natural part of your family’s lifestyle. Add variety to your exercise and pick activities you enjoy. If you do not know what you like, try everything and ask friends or family if they have any recommendations. Or us at Chapel Hill Training. We love working with families.
In the end, remember why you are doing this. Taking care of our bodies is crucial and should not be brushed over. Do not wait until it is too late to make a difference in you and your family’s life.
Write down your own whys? Maybe you want to make sure you see your great grandchildren. Maybe your family suffers from heart disease and you want to make a change. Whatever your why, remember it when the voice in the back of your head is saying to quit.

Please ask us how you can implement these steps into your family’s life. They will thank you for your attention to their health and happiness.

In health,

Justin Hardy
Chapel Hill Training
400 West Rosemary St. Suite 1003
Chapel Hill, NC 27516