Friday, March 17, 2017
At the end of January / beginning of February my friend Melinda from MOPS mentioned that her home school co-op was going to Great Wolf Lodge and they were getting a really good discount. I have been wanting to take the kids to Great Wolf Lodge for years, but I really didn't want to take little little kids. Now that they are older I feel more comfortable about taking on this adventure. I didn't want to reserve it without talking to Michael first though. I thought that Melinda had said the room would be $189 and Michael seemed interested in going when I told him that price. Then I found out that the room was actually only going to be $139!!! I knew he would be all for it then, but again I wanted to wait until he got home to reserve it. Later that night after talking with him and confirming that it was something we were going to do I went online to reserve a room and they were booked! I was so sad!!! I texted Melinda and she said that she'd contact the lady from her co-op that set up the deal with GWL and see if they could add more rooms. Thankfully the next morning I got a text that it was a go and I could go online and reserve a room. We ended up getting a standard room with 2 queen beds and a pull out couch....with taxes it came to a $185!!! So cheap!
I spent the next couple of weeks talking with friends that had gone and also reading blog posts about visiting GWL. I wanted to be prepared....surprise, surprise right! ;)
Since we were going with the co-op that meant that we were limited to that specific day. It ended up being Sunday the 19th - Monday the 20th of February. I was really shocked that they ended up giving out this deal especially since it was Presidents Day weekend. The awesome part about that was the the kids were out of school and Michael was off work! Yay for not having to take vacation time!
Since this was the day after Ella's tea party it was a crazy busy weekend. Thankfully since Ella's party was so early in the day that that left the afternoon and evening for me to pick up from the party and start preparing food for our trip. The next morning Michael did take the kids to church....he had to usher and then I stayed home to finish getting everything ready. After church they came and picked me up and after a bathroom break and a snack we were on the road.
The weather was horrible that day....pouring down rain...perfect for spending time at an indoor water park! It was SO rainy though I ended up missing our exit and had to drive an extra 13 minutes in order to get to GWL. It worked out perfectly though because that extra time made it so the kids could finish the movie they were watching.
Our first stop was at a restaurant that's in the parking lot of GWL. It's called Burger Claim! It was good food and not expensive. We got the kids each their own food and Michael and I got food as well and it was $38. Not bad for 6 people really!
After eating we went over to the Lodge and got checked in. I had requested that our room not be next to the elevator. I didn't want to constantly hear kids coming and going and being all loud and excited. Well they certainly didn't put us next to the elevator at all. It was a trek to our room!
After doing a bunch of research I decided that we were not going to head to the water park first. That's what everyone does. Then later when everyone is exhausted they head out to do the quest game. I figured we would take advantage and do the quest when it wasn't so busy.
When Melinda was telling me about this deal she told me that we could borrow their families wand to use on the quest. That saved us about $20. We did have to buy a game for $14.99 and 2 AA batteries for $5!!! I was going to remember to pack them, but I forgot! The game was super cool, but very confusing at first.
For example this is The Forgotten Hall...one of the clues said that we could find this thing we were searching for at the end of The Forgotten Hall. Well we went to the end, but it's really only talking about this little section right here. Like I said...confusing!
Every time we needed to start another quest we had to come back to one of the trees and select the quest we were going to go on and then we were off.
I didn't really take that many pictures of the actual Lodge. I meant to get ones of the outside because the entrance is gorgeous, but it was POURING down rain so that never happened.
After about an hour or so of doing the quest the kids couldn't take it anymore so we came back to the room to get ready for the water park. I have zero pictures of the water park because I didn't want to risk losing my phone or ruining it by dropping it in the water. So you'll just have to imagine a giant indoor water park with a wave pool, an activity pool, a kiddie area with 2 water slides and a giant bucket that dumps water every 2.5 minutes, 4 huge water slides and a ton of people. It was amazing and loud!! It was hot when you first walked in, but then once you got wet it wasn't bad at all. In all I think we were at the water park for 3 hours before we were done and ready to go back to the room.
I had brought a bunch of our food with us because again we like to stay on a budget and I had only brought $130 spending money. We had a bunch of food left over from Ella's party so that helped with making it easier for packing food. After dinner we took the kids down to the gift shop. We told them we would give each of them $5 to spend on whatever they wanted. They all had money they had brought with them. I think Ella had the most at $23. Ella ended up getting this reusable water coloring book and a rainbow colored wolf, Owen got a giant pixie stick and pop rocks, Zeke got a pixie stick as well and Jack got a cute gray wolf. Later on Michael did walk over to the Burger Claim and brought back french fries and milkshakes for a snack.
The 3 youngers ones and Michael were all pretty tired so they were just chilling out watching America's Funniest Videos, but I really want to go do more of the quest. Owen was up for going with me so we sneaked out just the two of us.
One of the things I read about the Lodge is that it's not like a typical hotel where you wouldn't or shouldn't walk around in your jammies. This place is full of kids running around in swim attire and they have a story time at night so the kids are in their jammies. It's just totally casual. Owen has been in love with his camo footie jammies so this was perfect time for him to show them off.
This is probably my favorite memory from the trip....just me and my boy having one on one time together.
Since story time was over and the water park was closed there was a ton of people doing the quest. I know it doesn't look like it in these pictures, but we had to wait a few times for people to finish in order to get to the area we needed.
I think we were out there for an hour and we were pooped by the time we were finished. We headed back to the room and finished watching Tangled with the other kids and then it was lights out at 10pm.
We all slept in until 7:30 or 8...PTL! I had packed breakfast for us. I had cooked a whole pound of bacon on Saturday night after Ella's party so we'd have some protein to keep us going. I was fine with eating cold bacon and so was everyone else except Owen. He wanted his heated in the microwave. I don't know if something was wrong with the microwave or if heating bacon up in one is just a no no, but it was only in there a few seconds and half of it was burnt and it smelled up the whole room with this awful smell that was worse that burnt popcorn! Thankfully the window open and it aired out really quickly. I was so afraid we were going to set off the fire alarm!
We had read that you should check out of your room before you go to the water park which makes total sense. Who wants to get all dried off to go check out and then get back in your swimsuit again. I figured it would just be easier for me to get everyone packed and ready so Michael took the older 3 kids to go do more of the quest while Zeke helped me pack up. Once they got back we all changed into our swim clothes and then Michael took all the suitcases down to the van. The kids and I went to the water park and amazingly we found an empty table. This made all the difference to me when it came to enjoying the water park. The day before we couldn't even find an open chair let alone a table. It was so nice to have a home base to come back to. We also got more relaxed with Owen and Jack. I mean they are 10 and almost 9! So we let them go off on their own as long as they wore life jackets. That made the day much easier for Michael and I. Zeke of course only wanted to hang out in the kiddie area, but he did do one of the slides twice. I did all 4 of the slides with the boys during our stay. After a while Zeke was cold and hungry so we sat down and got some chicken strips and then Michael came back with the older kids and they got more chicken strips. Around this time is when Ella didn't feel so good. She said her tummy was hurting, but she didn't feel like she was going to puke. I really think she didn't drink enough. We ended up staying a bit longer and then getting all dried off and changed. We stopped and got pizza at the pizza place that's right outside the water park entrance and then we were on our way. I was hoping to stay until 5:30, but we ended up leaving at 2:30. By the time we got home Ella was almost asleep so we put her to bed and she slept for almost 2 hours. Even after eating a bunch of food that day at the water park we still had enough spending money to get dinner so Michael went out and got that for us. Yay for not having to cook any meals for over 24 hours!!!
In all it was a whirlwind trip that was just over 24 hours and it was great!!! Michael said that we will be making this a yearly tradition if we can get that same deal with the co-op. It was fun to see how things worked and learn what we liked and what we didn't like and now know that we would do somethings differently. The number one thing we need to do next time is really make sure Ella is drinking a lot!
Thanks Melinda for introducing us to a great family fun vacation!
Thursday, March 16, 2017
The week before Ella's party I came down with the crud that had been going around. It always seems to hit our family in February. Because of that I was still recovering and I was so tired. Thankfully Kim came over and spent 4 hours with me on Friday morning helping me get everything set up! I could not have done this without her!
We got the garage completely set up which included organizing all the stuff that was in there so there would be room for the tables, sweeping the floor, setting up tables and chairs, and decorating the tables. Kim also helped by washing all the dishes for the food and all the tea cups for the moms. Once Michael got home he hung up the cute polka dot sheet behind the food table and then he put up the birthday banner.
There was also a craft table for the girls and cute coloring pages with teapots and tea cups on them.
Here were the tables! The whole reason I ended up going with a tea party theme was because I got this amazing deal on party stuff at a garage sale. It had those cute gift bags, bracelets, necklaces and crowns and the guy only wanted a $1 for the whole thing!!! The girls each got a tea cup that was glass. They were actually the cups that go with my punch bowl. They were pretty, but really sturdy.
In preparation for Ella's party my friend Ellen was so excited to help. She's the reason I had such amazing dishes for the food and she even bought tea cups for the party. My mom also bought tea cups as well. I thought since the girls were going to be going home with some fun stuff that it would be nice if the moms went home with something as well. So each of the moms got to keep the tea cup they used at the party. I made place cards so everyone would know where they were going to sit. On the morning of the party I asked Ella to help by looking at the tea cups and specifically picking out which cup would be for which mom. It was precious to watch her pick and choose.
The party was at 11am and that's early for our kids party. We usually plan them for 4pm so I did not have all day to prepare like I normally do. I made sure I did as much as I could the day before, but thankfully my Mom and Norean came over early to help with the stuff that needed to be made that morning. The menu included scones with raspberry jam and homemade lemon curd, deviled eggs, quiche, mini corn dogs, 3 different kinds of sandwiches, grapes and strawberries.
Look at all these lovely girls!!!! This just makes my heart melt! I love that Ella is surrounded by wonderful friends!
Left to right - Anna, Farrah (Ella's friend from school), Kendra, Logan (yes she came all the way from Spokane for Ella's party), Ella, Addison, Grace & Audrey (friends from church) and in the front is Lilyann and Caitlynn (wearing a pretty dress that Ella had just given her a few weeks before).
Kim and Caitlynn!
Ella Bean and Logie Bear!
Christina and her twin girls....Addison and Anna!
Me and my Ella Grace!
Rachael and her girls...Kendra and Lilyann!
Elaine and her twins...Audrey and Grace!!
Ga-Ga, Norean (who extended her vacation to be at Ella's party) and Ellen!!!
And one boy did get to be with all us girls for the party! Baby Jaymes was a total gem the whole time!
After we ate and had tea some of the girls chose to color and some chose to go play.
For dessert we had brownie bites, raspberry shortbread cookies and mini cheesecakes!
Happy 7th Birthday Ella!
Ella got a baby doll from Kendra and Lily...I believe she named her Rosie!
From Logan she got this cool bag that was filled with fake press on nails! She also got a reusable cup that had nail polish in it.
And she also got Twinkle Toes that match Logan's!
I got this game for Ella way back on Black Friday. As you can see she wasn't super thrilled! Later on when we actually played it she realized it was fun!
From Audrey and Grace she got this cute Minnie Mouse pillow...she sleeps with it every night. She also got a mermaid Barbie!
From Caitlynn she got a Lisa Frank (my 90's self was geeking out a bit) tracing book!
She also got the Elena of Avalor DVD! As you can tell this was a home run!!!
Ellen got Ella this adorable owl. It was so prefect because Ga-Ga and Pa had gotten Ella a baby owl at Northwest Trek last year so now her baby has a mommy!
From Anna and Addison she got this beautiful bracelet.
On top of all this she got a Frozen dress from Norean and a bear, a balloon and flowers from Farrah.
It was such fun celebrating my girl and getting to visit and enjoy time with all the moms!!!
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
A few months ago Rachael started working a full day on Wednesdays. Since she wouldn't be able to pick Kendra and Lilyann up from the bus she asked me if they could come over on Wednesdays and then either Lance or her would be by to pick them up later. Of course I said yes! Ella has been in heaven having them over almost every Wednesday. Of course they have their ups and downs because they are girls after all, but I'd say overall it's been great.
On this particular night the girls wanted to paint their nails and then take silly pictures.
They all asked for the same colors for their nails!
Kendra looking so pretty!
Then they decided that they were fashion stars and wanted to do model poses!
Strike a pose!
These girls are too much fun! Love them all so much!
Track is starting up soon and not only will they be coming home with us on Wednesdays, but now Tuesdays as well. Hopefully they don't get sick of each other!
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Oh my goodness I'm so behind in blogging, but what else is new!
Ella's actual birthday which is February 16th landed on a Thursday. I always volunteer on Thursdays so I was able to have lunch with her and then we passed out cupcakes to celebrate.
Since Ella is allergic to dyes I couldn't get the normal cupcakes with sprinkles or colored frosting, but I was so excited to see that Wal-Mart had these cute little Cookies and Cream cupcakes.
Originally I was going to make waffles with strawberries and snow..aka powdered sugar...for Ella's birthday dinner, but then since it was on a Thursday that meant it was family night with my side of the family. Also Jim and Norean were in town on vacation. So there were 8 adults, 4 kids and 1 me! I decided that being stuck in the kitchen making waffle after waffle didn't sound like that much fun so I asked Ella what she'd like in place of that and she decided Costco pizza sounded yummy!
Ella's birthday party with friends was a tea party so only girls were invited. I wanted her to open some of her presents on her actual birthday so those that wouldn't be at her party would still get to see her excitement and joy from the present they bought her.
First gift was from Ga-Ga & Pa. Of course Ga-Ga was going to be at the tea party, but not Pa.
Since it was in a plastic bag she didn't really know what it was. Ga-Ga bought her Zip-It bedding. It's like a sleeping bag for your bed. Once I washed it and put it on her bed she LOVED it!
The next gift was from "Zeke".....when we were out shopping we found a couple things on clearance and they were too good to pass up. Like these adorable boots that were only $5.
And an outfit to match for $5!!!
Next up was Uncle Ry and Aunt Stephie's gift. Of course Uncle Ry wasn't going to be at the tea party and unfortunately Aunt Stephie had already made plans before she knew when the party was so she wasn't able to come either.
They totally hooked Ella up with coloring stuff!
Books, crayons and stickers!
Plus princess body wash!!!
Later that night she used her stickers to make her laptop monitor pretty and then she used the same stickers to make my monitor pretty as well. They are in the corner and they are tiny, but she wanted me to take a picture of our matching computers!
The next day Ella wore her new outfit from Zeke to school! She's such a cutie and it was fun getting to have a small party with family on her special day!