In the midst of the snow, the frigid temperatures, and the cabin fever, we decided we needed a little break. A break where the kids could run and burn off energy outside of the house, we could all have fun, and not see the walls of our house for a bit. My husband heard about Great Wolf Lodge in Massachusetts, and convinced me to go based on feedback from some of his friends. I say convinced, because I was hesitant about an indoor water park. Drowning and germs were the tip of the iceberg of my concerns! We got a great deal on their website though, and figured it would be worth a try for the night. All in all – we had a great trip.
I had so many friends asking for my thoughts on the trip, because of similar concerns, I wanted to share my experience. The good, the bad, and of course, the tips and tricks where possible!
Leading up to the event, we did have a couple of items which almost put a hiccup in our plans – I had surgery and the doctor recommended not going and we had a massive snowstorm that was supposed to hit the northeast. If you are booking – I definitely caution you to be aware of the cancellation policy. I called 2 days before, and was already too close to our arrival date to cancel. We would have lost our first (only) night’s stay, or had the chance to rebook, although at a higher rate. We decided to plow through and change our trip as needed.
Arrival was a little bumpy as we got there just in time for the storm. I realized that there was a line about 3 people long for online check in, and about 40 people long for regular check in. As I looked at my phone to see about checking in from the line online, we realized that you had to do it the night before. I admit at this point my frustration was getting a little high…BUT…while I stood online, my kids had balloon animals made for them, danced around to fun music, and got to do a quick tour of the hotel with my husband. My husband also made dining reservations for dinner
After check in, we settled into our room quickly, got our bathing suits on, and headed down to the water park. My safety concerns were quickly minimized. Great Wolf lodge provided life jackets for the children (in a variety of sizes), and there were a ton of lifeguards.
My husband joked that they prowled the pools like they were wolves – they never took their eyes off the water and were constantly on the move to check their assigned area of the water. They quickly addressed any bad behavior, and kept order in the pools despite the number of kids. It was pretty amazing to see, and very reassuring as a parent! Our only tricky part of the pools was this….
My daughter did not quite meet the height to go on any of the water slides, while my son was able to go on most of them with a parent. This was a bummer for her at first, but there was plenty to keep her entertained. We definitely decided that we would wait until she was tall enough to go on everything that my son could before going back.
After a long time at the park, we went to our room to shower up for dinner. We went to the Lodge Wood Fire Grill (reservations were strongly suggested). The night that we went it was a BBQ Buffet. The menu looked good, and the price was reasonable ($18 for adults, $9 for children), so we figured why not. The kids were starving from all the playing at the water park – the buffet was a GREAT idea. I actually had to take my son up to the buffet three times, until he finally announced he was full!!! I also greatly appreciated the very reasonable drink prices…a Blue Moon never tasted so good (and at $5, I really could not resist). I know that I have many readers who have children with allergies – we were extremely pleased with how they handle allergies – the restaurant was completely peanut/tree nut free. The chef came over to us when we alerted our server to my son’s allergies, and he wrote down all of my sons allergies. He guided us through the buffet and told us what were safe foods, and what was not. When there was a question on one food item, he went in the back to confirm, and came out to our table to share the result immediately. It was definitely impressive and helped to put our mind at ease!
After dinner, we went back to the room to get the kids changed into pajamas for the evening songs, story time, and character meet and greet. It was the perfect ending to a busy day, and as the kids were already in their pajamas, we went right upstairs and tucked them into bed.
The next morning was a picnic breakfast in the room (we brought along breakfast with us, as the room had a microwave and fridge), complimented with some Dunkin Donuts coffee for my husband and I (a family of 5 sharing any size hotel room is always a bit tiring!). We went back to the water park at 9, and stayed to play until 1. Although we could stay at the park until as late as we wanted on the day of departure, we had a snowstorm to drive through, and our little wolf-pack (especially our 18 month old!) was pretty tired. After grabbing lunch, we hit the road and had a slow and snowy drive home.
As you can probably tell – my kids were all about the water park! There were tons of other things that Great Wolf Lodge offered (Indoor Ropes Course, miniature Golf, Arcade, MagiQuest Game), some were free, some had an additional cost, but we really didn’t take advantage of them in our quick stay! Maybe if we stayed another night they would have. It was definitely a great quick trip that gave our family the break that we needed. The facilities were clean, the water park was safe, and overall, my children had a blast. I must admit that my husband was right…the Great Wolf Lodge was a great family getaway for us!
One of my favorite first day of school pictures….everything starts with that first bus ride!
With 3 young children, one on one time with any child is pretty rare – everything is a pretty much a group activity. Over the month of August, by the luck of nap times, playdates, divide and conquer, and family help, my son and I wound up having a bit of time together for the two of us. I felt as though this time was extra special, as we were preparing to send him off to Kindergarten.
Despite that he has been at daycare, and I was used to not being with him most days, my heart was breaking. My mind was racing. My stress level for much of the summer was through the roof. Kindergarten. Riding on the bus. Buying lunch in a cafeteria. This was the big leagues (as far as they go for first time moms!).
One of our adventures for our one on one time was me trying to help him mastering riding his bike as a two-wheeler. Oh my gosh. For some reason, this just stressed me out. . I could not let go of the bike. Literally, my hands were glued to the back of the seat. Running along by the bike, I was holding on for dear life….trying to make sure there were no bumps, bruises or tears, and more than anything wanting it to be a great experience. Every time, we would start, he would say, “Mom, I got it this time”, and I could not freaking let go. After the fifth time, my son got off his bike. He was exasperated with me, I could tell (I also picked one of the few super hot days we had to try this adventure, and everyone is more testy in the heat, right?!”. He looked at me and said…
“Mommy, I am never going to go anywhere if you don’t LET GO first.”
Oh how right you are, baby boy…it is not that he is not ready for all the adventures ahead….it is ME that is not ready to let me first baby head out into the big world.
My mantra for the rest of the summer was “I need to let go, so he can grow”…whenever I felt nervous about some aspect of school…I said that as many times as I had to in my head so that I instead started thinking about all the awesomeness that is ahead for him.
And it is awesome so far…..my goodness, he flies off the bus in the afternoon, and does not stop talking about his day until I turn the light off for bedtime, he shows me everything in his backpack bursting with pride. The smile on his face gives me such hope about what is to come…
I am very excited to share this guest post today from one of my favorite bloggers. I first met Laura in college, and have been very lucky to reconnect over Facebook in the last couple of years. We found that we have a bit in common….cooking (although she has achieved the “Real Food” goal sooner than I have!), we are both newish runners, blogging, and a love for Stitch Fix. After reading Laura’s blog for the last couple of months, I have been dying to have her do a guest post. I knew that my readers would love her simple ideas on how to join Real Food into their lives. Laura had the awesome idea about packing real food lunches. This is a topic that I love especially as I pack 5 lunches every evening, and I often get into a rut. I also know that with summer camps and picnics, a lot of people may be packing lunches outside of the home. I am hoping to get into some great habits over the summer that I can carry through to the school year, and I hope that these ideas help you as well! For more from Laura, check out her blog, follow her on Pinterest and follow her on Facebook.
Planning and packing lunches can be such a pain. Sometimes it just seems easier to head to the local sandwich shop on your lunch break or to send the kids to school with some lunch money – or perhaps worse – a prepackaged Lunchable.
I grew up in a household where we always packed lunch. Oh sure – I recall an occasional “pizza boat” school lunch bought in my elementary school cafeteria, but 99.9% of the time, we packed our lunch. I can’t say our lunches were always the healthiest, but surely more so than most kids. No Oreo cookies or bags of Cheetos, though I definitely drank a can of Dr. Pepper almost every day at lunch in high school.
As an adult, I’ve been packing my lunch for work since I graduated from college. Not only is it economical, but it’s also a great way to make healthy choices and not hungry choices (you know – when it’s 2pm and your growling stomach makes lunch decisions for you – and they’re not always the healthiest). I’ve always packed what I would consider to be “healthy lunches” – leftovers from low-fat dinners I prepared, salads with light dressing, and ham or turkey sandwiches (no mayo!) on whole wheat bread. But early in 2014 I started on a journey to eat more “real food,” prompted by all the articles I had read about the problems with our food system and the way we consume foods (“food products” would be a more accurate description).
Once I started down the real food path, some changes needed to be made to my lunch planning. With a focus on whole foods – organic and unprocessed – I actually found making lunches to be easier than I expected. I’ve also noticed that I actually eat more vegetables at lunch (and breakfast and dinner) than I had been before. So you might be asking yourself, what is real food? Simply put, real food is food that is not heavily processed, and is preferably grown or raised locally and organically. You can read more about real food on my blog, Roudabush Real Food Revolution, and there are many great resources online. Some of my favorites:
I also love the eco-friendly boxes by YumBox and PlanetBox, though they are both pricier options.
Bento-style boxes make lunch planning fun for adults and kids alike. The PlanetBox even suggests what to put in each section – dairy, fruits, veggies, etc. – to make sure you’re packing a well-rounded lunch. When I was a kid, we would have called this type of lunch “pieces of things” (clever, right?), and as an adult, I love the variety. A weekday lunchbox for me might include a few slices of Applegate organic turkey, homemade hummus, organic carrot sticks, homemade whole grain crackers, and an apple or a clementine. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers from the night before – maybe a little pasta salad was left over? Or some roasted veggies? Pack them into the box’s compartments and enjoy the next day.
Now I’m not a mom myself, but in my real food reading, I have come across so many clever and creative real food mothers who have some fantastic ideas for meal planning, especially when it comes to lunches. They’ve inspired me to get even more creative in my own lunch-making. Here are just a sampling of ideas for your next lunch (or your kids’) – compartment by compartment – and make sure to look for local, organic foods when possible to make sure your family is getting the best possible nutrition:
The possibilities really are endless – pretty much anything you dream up can go in your lunch box. And don’t forget – the freezer is your friend. Make double batches of baked goods or dinners and freeze them in small portions. Move them from the freezer to the fridge the day before and they’ll be ready to go for lunch the next day.
Dinners around here lately have been pretty blah…as I mentioned yesterday, we have been in survival mode! I have had the same rotation of meals going just about every week. Now that the nicer weather is finally here, and we have been through the winter of the pediatrician, I am ready to spend some extra time in the kitchen. One of my family’s favorite foods is scallops. I was peeking around on the Trader Joe’s website, and saw their recipe for scallops with apples. I decided to test it out, but mid cooking, decided some enhancements were needed. The recipe isn’t freezer friendly – but it is definitely worth sharing!
Check out my version of their Whole Wheat pasta with Scallops and Apples
For the last couple of months, I would say that I have hidden under a rock in the internet world….actually, probably in my personal life as well. This past winter was known for freezing temperatures, awful weather, ridiculous amounts of snow by pretty much everyone in the Northeast. In our house, it was also the winter of the doctor’s office. Ear infections, stomach bugs, croup, pneumonia, a freak ankle injury, strep……it has ALL hit our house. When I was taking care of the kids, I was working til all hours of the night to catch up on work. When I was not working, I was doing a deep clean of the house. I refused to make play dates because I did not want to cause anyone else getting sick, and I really held off going places, out of fear that my kids would get sick…again. We have come out of the germy fog, slowly but surely.
We have had a couple of set backs (one virus, and one case of strep) this past month….but for the most part, I am happily rejoining the world of normal people, or at least normal mom of three world!
I can’t wait to share what’s been going on here…a job change, preparing for kindergarten, some vacations, and some house projects. I also have some great guest posts ready to share as well.
I am looking forward to getting back in the blogging world, and appreciate all of you sticking around during my absence.
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