Tips and tricks for Great Wolf Lodge

Are you looking for a fun and exciting escape with your kids? This year makes 2 years we have opted for Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio. We decided to give a few Christmas gifts and then take them here for the rest of their gift. Because let’s be honest, a trip to GWL will be remember over some cheap toy that breaks in a week right? Of course! We opt to go during the winter months during school days. Simply because 1. Hubby works a lot less in the winter. 2. Kids are in school! My Little’s get more time to play and less lines because of this! 3. Who doesn’t want to be in 84 degree weather in the water when you can peek out the windows and see beautiful icicles hanging off the lodge?

Each time we have went I’m super impressed with the staff and all the things my kids can do. They say the rooms aren’t ready until 4pm but you can start swimming at 1pm. So we usually get there at 1 and have a bag packed with just swimming suits in case our room isn’t ready, but these past 2 times it has been ready before 4 :). First you walk into a huge lobby to check in equipped with a Dunkin’ Donuts and 2 restaurants and the big tree that comes to life! I’ll touch more on that later. You check in and they give you cute little wolf ears for each child, your room keys, and a paper with daily activities and times of events. I think everyday from 11-2 is crafts in the kids club. It’s cool….and all FREE! They have family games you can borrow from in there too! So take advantage of that for a game night after swimming. Kids can make buttons for souvenirs, whatever craft of the day is, or play in the corner where there is a rug, a dry erase board, and some bean bag chairs. They also have pillowcases and shirts you can purchase and allow your kids to color if you’d like. My kids love it! We do it the day we check in and the day we check out. Because even though check out is 11am you can still use the water park until I closes and the stuff at the lodge! Pretty neat huh? They also had face painting this time. That was cute. Besides the kids club they do wolf walks (educational), sometimes morning exercises, games, and more at different times in the lobby and the kids always get some sort of prize for it. Then there is the story time where the tree comes to life and tells a story. I believe it’s 15 minutes. It’s really cool too! There is enough free stuff to do here that you could not have to spend any extra money if you packed all your food drinks. Which leads me to start off my tips/hacks. Ready? Got a note pad?

Tips/hacks

Last year we took our instant pot for supper and we opted to purchase the breakfast package. It’s all you can eat. And this year we ate all we could then asked for more. Ate a bit more and then boxed the rest! Bam! Score! So there’s a hack you’ll want to keep to get the best bang for your buck! You get fruit, some pastries, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, and pancakes. It’s actually pretty good. Eggs are a touch bland, but still work to refuel for the next day. I highly suggest taking an instant pot and finding an easy meal for it. Something that will keep you full and energized. Take bottled water. They don’t offer cups of water. You’ll have a fridge and microwave. Take paper plates and utensils too. Any snacks you’d like. You can come and go from the water park as you please so if you’re hungry run back to your room grab a quick bite to eat and head back. Which leads me to my next hack.

While it’s warm air in the water park when you walk out it’s a big temperature change. This year I took our children’s robes and slippers. When we’d head back to the room we’d dry them off as best we could and the. Put their robes and slippers on. They looked cute, kept them warm, and we got lots of compliments saying that was a good idea. Also pack cute pajamas for them to wear for the story close to bedtime 😉 just for extra cuteness.

DO NOT FORGET YOUR TOILETRIES!

They will provide one shampoo and one lotion and 2 bars of soap. But if you forget your toothbrush or toothpaste be ready to fork out some cash from the little shop they have in there. Also pack a small first aid kit with some Neosporin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc. as this stuff is also expensive in there. Better to have it than wish you did when you might need it.

Take some extra lotion too. Especially if it’s winter. We found ourselves very dry and itchy after our first round of the waterpark. Thankfully I brought extra. The little bottle they give doesn’t go far for the family.

Buy a waterproof necklace case for your phone to take pictures in the waterpark. On the table in each room is a promo card from Shutterfly for a free 8×8 photo book 🙂 so take advantage of that and don’t forget it. I didn’t do this, but saw others and it’s a great idea. I did take pictures other places in the lodge though.

Okay next thing. I packed minimally this time. I took a large utility tote from Thirty-One, each kids own cinch sac from thirty-one and a carry on bag for hubby and I, and a toteally thermal bag from thirty-one for the food/drinks. All can be found awww.mythirtyone.com/mirandaschlatter each kids cinchsac went into the large utility tote and I clipped their swim vests to it. One trip without the cart 🙂 yay!

The day we checked out I gave hubby our bag with that days clothes and took just one cinchsac with all the kids clothes in it. I also took the laundry bag from the room for the wet clothes 🙂 so make sure to do that too. We took our showers in the restrooms in the waterpark changed and headed home.

So if you want a fun filled trip try planning your waterpark time around all the cool fun free things for the kids if you don’t want to splurge in the arcade or the little spa. Don’t forget if you need a quick warm up session there are 2 hot tub areas. One family friendly and the other for 21 and over 🙂

Do you have any good advice or tips that might help make someone’s stay more enjoyable or less stressful? If so let us know in the comments!

Enjoy planning a fun family vacation!

We splurged on the kid cabin this time 🙂 they loved it!

Kid club craft fun

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Have you tried to go offline?

 Hello everyone! Sorry I’m hit and miss on this blog (not that anyone is actually reading it).  Anyhow,  I recently decided to get rid of my Facebook and have tried to be as offline as possible.  With the exception of Pinterest.  I mean I need crafty things to do and recipes now that I’m not attached to my  phone. =]

Let me recap on some things that has happened since the last post.  The girls and I have been starting all sorts of different seeds indoors.  And they LOVE to do that.  Hopefully they will enjoy the rest of the work gardening also.  We also recently got 14 chickens and 7 ducks.  We have lost 1 chicken and I had to save another. The girls LOVE them.  We bought  each girl a chicken harness for when the birds are big enough. haha. I am hoping to obtain some eggs that my stomach can handle.  At the moment store bought eggs make me feel very sick to my stomach for an entire day when I eat them.  I am wondering if it isn’t the corn or soy that’s used in the feed.  Because of this I mixed up my own feed from a mix recipe I found on Pinterest.  It contains sunflower seeds, flax seeds, barley, wheat, oats, and crushed oyster shells.  All the birds seem to enjoy this.  It’s a tad bit more pricey, but not too much.  We are also in the market for quail to raise for eggs.  Just need to find some at a reasonable price in our area.

Another thing that’s happened is Evan and I decided to finally take our real honeymoon that we never took.  Sure it’s a few years late, but who cares?! It was much needed and amazing.  We went to the Riviera Maya in Mexico.  The first couple days were really windy, but we could still enjoy being outside.  It was in the mid-upper 80s the whole time. =]  We missed the kids immensely, but it was good for us and the kids to have some space from each other.  The Riviera Maya has INCREDIBLE sights to see (I will post pictures on another post later for you to see).  We did a tour with alltournative tours and went to Tulum where some Mayan ruins were and also into the Jungle for some zip lining, repelling, and snorkeling in a cenote.  Cenotes are like caves with rivers running through them.  Fresh water.  Absolutely stunning.  It just so happened that some National Geographic people were there (National Geographic endorses this tour) scuba diving while we snorkeled.  Tulum is in the top 20 beaches of the world!  ABSOLUTELY STUNNING falls short of describing it. Same as with the Jungle and the Cenotes. I wish I could’ve gotten pictures from there.  I did take a GoPro, but realized on the first zip line it was dead =[.  They did have photographers there but they wanted $25 per 5×7 picture and $70 for a USB.  They wouldn’t bargain, and we had already went over budget on our trip so we opted out =[.  We do plan to go back to the area in the future, so maybe I can get some pictures then!  I highly recommend using alltournative tours and taking the Tulum/Jungle Maya tour!

Moving on to some other things:  I still homeschool preschool Olivia, but I’ve switched to Easy Peasy All in One homeschool and still do some workbook stuff here.  Isabelle just wasn’t as interested in the workbooks so I looked into something different.  Easy Peasy is exactly that.  http://www.allinonehomeschool.com check it out for your kids!  We just finished day 6.  You literally have nothing to worry about.  It’s free, all the assignments are linked for you, it shows what to do for each day, and it goes from Preschool-High school.  And my favorite is that you can incorporate the bible.  ALSO…………it has ART, PE, and MUSIC! S you don’t have to come up with those curriculums yourself.  HIGHLY recommend them. The woman who started it lives in Pennsylvania and they have one of the strictest homeschool laws, so you will be sure your children are doing more than probably needed and you won’t be short on anything!

Now onto the kids:

Olivia: still a huge sweet heart who enjoys learning.  I babysit once a week now for 2 girls ages 5 and 1.5.  She loves when they come over and they play.  She also really loves to go to the library and play on the computers

Isabelle:  Still as ornery as ever.  Wants to win everything.  Now at every meal the girls race to see who wins drinking all their drink, and eating their food.  Guess that’s one way to make sure they eat all of their food =]  She also enjoys when her friends come to play.  And she’s really wanting to get into Sunday school (she still has about 2 years) haha

Preston:  A few weeks back ended up in the hospital.  I woke up to him coughing/choking.  Got out of bed to check on him and he seemed fine. As soon as I laid back in bed I heard him start to gasp.  I ran to get him out. Checked him over, ripped his sleeper open and grabbed my stethoscope.  It was like he couldn’t catch his breath but he wasn’t coughing.  About 30 seconds in he coughed and seemed okay for maybe another 30 seconds, but by this time Evan was holding him and I was getting dressed to take him to the ER (as in putting on a bra) This was about 12:35am on the Saturday after his 1st birthday.  Then he started to wheeze bad and his chest began retracting.  At this point I began to freak out even more.  I told Evan I was calling his mom and picking her up to ride along with me because God forbid I would have to perform CPR on my own child-I still needed someone to drive to the hospital.  (side note): I live close enough to a hospital it would not have been worth it for the 5 minutes in calling 911 and them to dispatch then the 15-20 minutes for the squad to come and the 15-18minute rush via ambulance to the hospital. Instead I chose to take him myself.  I tried to use Siri on my phone to get the number for the hospital to call and let them know but of course, the first time my phone won’t use 3G in that area was then.  So I used my trusty OnStar.  They were wonderful.  They called the hospital for me, stayed on the line with me kept asking how he was doing, and directed us where we needed to go (even though I already knew how to get to the hospital).  Once we pulled up to the ER drop off there was a nurse already waiting for me.  They immediately gave him a breathing treatment and started and IV to give steroids.  I was scared. Oh so scared, but still had a feeling of peace.  Like he was going to be okay.  Thank God he was.  All praise to him.  They called it sporadic croup.  Not sure what caused it because he was not sick and tested negative for RSV.  He was admitted at 4 am and discharged Sunday afternoon. So I consider staying 2 nights.  Since we went in on my “Friday” night and got home Sunday.  Anyhow that has been his only episode and I hope it never happens again.  So besides turning the BIG 1, that’s been Preston’s eventful news.

So like the title of this blog post: Have you tried to go offline? If you have let me know. Tell me why, how well it worked, and how you felt.  Have you went back?  I’ve enjoyed being off of Facebook really.  I kind of miss seeing the happy news on there.  But honestly there wasn’t much of that.  It’s really refreshing to me.  I’m spending more time with my kids.  I would say I’m staying on top of the house, but since we went on our trip I’m still pretty behind, but hopefully I will be able to stay on top of it! =]

God Bless and enjoy your day,

Miranda

Sun, Sand, & Shades

For the last few years Evan and I have traveled to Florida.  I went quite a few times growing up as a kid with my Dad and Step mom and once with my Mom and her boyfriend at the time.  I absolutely love Florida.  Evan on the other hand had no desire to go.  Until one day 3 years ago I convinced him for just him and I to go for a few days, and he agreed.  After that trip he was hooked.  I about have him ready to move down there for the winters =] Maybe in the near future? Great reason to home school right? Anyhow we left after our 10th—yes, 10th Christmas gathering this past year.  We drove again this year.  It really wasn’t that bad going down. The kids slept, and we had plenty for them to do or watch during the ride.  The ride home, not so much.  Izzy was pretty fussy and we both were really tired driving. But the roads were getting bad back at home so we decided we shouldn’t stop in case they got worse if we took a rest.  Any how, some of the things and places we went were:

Orlando:

  • SeaWorld
  • Ate with sharks
  • Aquatica
  • Discovery Cove (must do for EVERY family) I’ll explain later.

Inverness:

  • Visited my Grandpa Henry and Sue.
  • Went to crystal river beach
  • Great bonding time

(I think Grandpa really took to Preston) =]

Ft. Myers:

  • Beach
  • Beach
  • Beach
  • Shelling
  • Dolphin sighting
  • finding sandollars
  • fire ant attacks (watch out for those, Izzy STILL has scars from them)
  • visiting the Ft. Myers Apostolic Christian Church

We had about a 2 week stay all together in Florida. I personally did not want to come back, but it is something we look forward to doing this coming year. Maybe we can convince Evan’s parents to go this time. I really think they would enjoy it.  While we were in Ft. Myers my sister in law, Kelli, and a couple of Evan’s cousins (Anita and Jaci) shared our condo with us.

They kids enjoyed swimming at the resort that we stayed at in Orlando, and Preston relaxed in the water so much he fell asleep. =] The weather was absolutely perfect. The day we arrived it was in the upper 80s.  The first few days it stayed in the 80s and then the rest of the trip it was in the mid-upper 70s but little wind and sun! So it felt great. I absolutely love dolphins, otters, elephants. They are my favorite mammal/animals ever.  It has always been a dream of mine to work as a dolphin trainer.  Obviously God had other plans for me, but the dream to swim with dolphins stuck with me.  Evan granted me that dream on New Year’s Day this year.  I’m sure it is apparent to some that I struggle with bits of depression and more so in the Winter time, but ladies and gentleman the smile on my face with this dolphin is pure genuine joy. I stated earlier how Discovery Cove is a must for all families for a vacation and my reasons are this: you get free admission to Sea World AND Aquatica for 14 days from the first ticket used.  So we went to SeaWorld before we went to Discovery Cove and Aquatica also. We at at the underwater grill (or whatever it was called) at SeaWorld.  We ate with a bunch of Sharks (pictures below). Aquatica is a water park. It was awesome! For for buying a ticket to discovery cove you are getting tickets to 2 other parks that give you UNLIMITED amounts of times to go within the 14 day time period. So you could do half days of SeaWorld and not get burnt out from walking all day or missing something.  Discovery Cove had a lot for smaller children also which was a big plus for us.  And if you’re traveling with just adults there are still plenty of activities and slides for adults.  Now for the greatness of Discovery Cove first of all you need to bring nothing except yourself. Literally.  They only allow 1000 people a day to enter so it is not overcrowded. They provide you with a beach accessible stroller for FREE if you need one.  They provide you unlimited use of towels, beach chairs, snorkel gear, wetsuits, and sunscreen.  You also get a FREE locker to store your things.  I strongly advise taking a waterproof disposable camera or buying a waterproof case for your phone. TRUST ME you WILL want to take pictures IN the water there!  We opted to buy the girl’s each a disposable waterproof camera of their own.  And guess what?! A worker told us to go to the service desk to have them write our names on it.  In case they got lost they could see our names and they would SEND them back home to us! This place had it all! FREE FOOD, that’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, SNACKS ALL DAY, and alcohol (if that’s your thing).  The food wasn’t too bad either.  They have a grand reef area where they have over 7000 different fish rays, sharks, etc.  The water is on the cooler side so we opted for the full wetsuits for that, but oh my goodness you guys it was beautiful.  And you can touch the rays.  Olivia took right to snorkeling in the freshwater river and we tried to get her to go in the reef, but when we walked in there was a 4ft (no joke) wide stingray that we about stepped on and she was OUT. Wanted NOTHING to do with it.  Horrified to say the least.  So Evan and I took turns going in there alone while the other did something else with the girls.  Okay they also have an Avery and you get FREE food to have these birds come and eat out of your hands.  Marvelous.  You definitely get your moneys worth at this place, and by buying Discovery Cove tickets you could make an entire family trip out of it with the use of the other tickets for free.  One other thing that I LOVED about this place is I needed to use my Breast Pump since we left Preston with my Grandpa and Sue, I went to the first aid station to have some privacy and a plug in.  When I was done I realized that I forgot to freeze my cooling pack to keep the milk cold.  I asked if they had some ice I could have. Guess what?! Even better than that! They allowed me to keep the milk in their fridge and had special notes for mothers milk in there! This place thought of it all, and its not very often you find nursing mom friendly places.  That was probably one of the best days of my life, ya know besides getting married and having kids. 😉

Now that I touched on that, I’ll get on to our beach days.  The first beach we visited was with my Grandpa and Sue.  It was a man made beach but it was awesome.  We didn’t have intentions of getting into the water so we wore regular clothes, well the kids still went in. haha. I thought Preston wouldn’t like it, NOPE he LOVED it.  Crawled in it. No fear I tell ya, none.  That boy keeps me on my toes, even at the young age of 9 months (at the time of the trip).  The boys took a snooze in the sun and the girl’s played.  We had a nice time with Grandpa and Sue.  So glad they opened up their home for us to enjoy some sunshine with them.

Ft. Myers beach was GORGEOUS.  I love to look for shells and sand dollars and the beach was filled with them. A snowbirds delight =] Everyday we would see dolphins in the water. I kid you not, close enough we could’ve been swimming or WALKING in the water right up to them. The pictures below will show you just how close they were!  There is just something about the smell of the salty air and the sound of the waves that just lets you think of how Mighty Awesome our God really is.  He knows how many hairs are on our heads is enough to try and fathom, but while I was there I thought to myself that’s its crazy that he knows that, but just think he knows of EVERY GRAIN OF SAND. And that there is NOTHING too small that he doesn’t care about.  BOOM–hits you right in the feels right? He created every.single.grain of sand and knows the EXACT amount there is in this world, and cares about it all and us. =] Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  We found quite a few sand dollars and some other things like crabs on the beach.  This was a different beach experience for me,  I was used to having a hard time finding full/unbroken shells or any sand dollars at all.  So this just topped the trip off. =] And we didn’t have all the birds to bother us like years past.

Another thing we did was a Sea-venture tour with Adventures in Paradise in Sanibel. We got to go out in the water with nets and net sea critters up.  I only found a crab and little fish, but others found seahorses and other things.  We took a boat out to a little island to do this. When I stepped onto the island I stepped right on a fire ant hill.  I still have scars from it.  They HURT. And they go from your toes to your knees in .38749387493 seconds. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it sure seemed like it.  Isabelle also stepped on an ant hill by a sidewalk one of the last days we were there. She screamed terrible.  I felt awful.  It had me on edge the rest of the day.  To this day she still looks at her feet and says, “Mommy I got bites”. Yes my dear, you still have scars. =[ hopefully soon they fade. While we were on the seaventure one of the guides found puffer fish for us.  It was pretty neat to see.  And of course the girls enjoyed the boat ride itself too.  Such a beautiful area.

In the pictures below you will also see that I purchased the PieFace game at a Ft. Myers Walmart.  All sold out at home, but nope not where the older generation lives. haha. Liv enjoyed it for the first time using it. Then she did NOT want to be pied again. haha

Anyhow that’s really just the tip of the iceberg of our Florida trip. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it. I highly recommend traveling there!  God Bless!

Love,

Miranda

 

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