Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Wolf (cont.)

Monday morning we took the kids down to the water park pretty early and played for a couple of hours. Of course, Haven refused to get wet, but I did try to take her into the toddler area and engage her there. I went down several slides with Haddon, Hannah, and Addy. I think their favorite was the big yellow one because you could go down on a 3 seater tube. Mid-morning, the big girls and I left the others and went upstairs to get ready to hit the mall! Due to a miscommunication, we found out about half an hour later that our mall trip had been postponed for a few hours. SO, back to the water park we went! This time I finally remembered to bring my camera and spent the next two hours alternately riding slides and trying to keep my camera dry while taking pictures.

The whole time at the water park, Avery insisted on playing in the toddler area. She enjoyed the little slides and fountains and was too scared to try the bigger kid area. Jason tried to talk her into it and even got her up to the top of one of the slides, but she chickened out and they ended up climbing back down again instead of sliding down. Jason and I decided that she needed to be pushed a little bit. We just knew she'd love the bigger slides if she'd only give them a try! So we came up with a plan: I would take her up to the top of the slide and Jason would wait at the bottom to "catch" her. I never gave her a chance to back out, just kept hurrying her up the play structure to the slides. As soon as we reached the line (the very short line), she started shaking her head and her face was a mask of fear. Because I am super mom, I ignored her and jabbered on about how fun water slides are. After only a minute or two, she was up! She looked up at me with stark terror on her trusting little face and said, "I don't want to!" I looked down into those beautiful, weepy blue eyes and scooped her up and physically sat her on the slide. Then (mother of the year that I am), as soon as the lifeguard blew his whistle, I shoved her down the slide...but first I had to peal her little fingers off the top of the tube. I watched expectantly for her to come around the curve where I could see her and I fully expected her to be screaming like a banshee when she appeared. Nope! She came around the curve sitting up and smiling hugely. VICTORY! I slid down to meet her and she threw her arms around me and declared, "I did it, Mom!" After that, she didn't want to do anything but that slide...but only THAT one. I guess I should've taken her up and pushed her down the other one so she could enjoy it, too!

Megan, LaNora, Hannah, Addy, and I had an interesting time trying to even get out of the hotel...I ended up running three flights of stairs to the room three times looking for Addy, then making sure Haddon made it safely to the room, then finding Addy all over again. I was slightly out of breath, but not too tired for shopping! The five of us hit Legends shopping center and had a great time. There were tons of sales and though the stores were busy, they weren't packed as I'd thought they might be. Sometimes we shopped together and sometimes we all went our separate ways but stayed in touch via cell phone. I spent some of my Christmas money on two tops, a pair of rain boots that I'd fallen in love with, and a pair of magnetic earrings that Hannah and I attached to our noses to get a rise out of Jason. He didn't fall for our fake nose rings, though. As soon as he saw Hannah's he knew they were fake...notice he didn't put it past me, just our teenage daughter!

Monday night (our final night at the Wolf) was our family's night to entertain. A little bit of history before I share the events of our evening. I am a planner. I get an idea, create a plan, and stick to the plan even if it kills me. Jason, on the other hand, wants to explore all options and keep them open until deciding (usually at the last possible moment) what he wants to do. So.....even though it drove me crazy, he wouldn't decide what our entertainment was going to be. Instead, he chose a few possibilities and printed out mapquest maps to all of them. Monday afternoon, he handed down the decision that we would go to Rainforest Cafe and called for reservations. Then he (painstakingly) hand copied his mapquest directions so that each vehicle would have their own set of directions. We all descended on the lobby for a group photo that took just a little longer than anticipated to capture, before climbing into our perspective vehicles. I had the task of entering the address into Lola (our Garmin GPS). Even though we were leaving just a little behind schedule, we'd still make it for our reservations. However, when we had supposedly arrived at our destination, there was no mall OR Rainforest Cafe in sight. Jason realized that he must've copied the wrong address and directions for everyone because we were in the parking lot of his second choice. We had a brief meeting of the minds and decided to go ahead and stay there since Mylee was getting really worked up in her car seat. I was already annoyed when we walked inside and the interior did nothing to improve my mood. It was dark and filled with video games...not kid video games, the adult kind with lots of violence and half naked women. I was so embarrassed! Jeremy and Aaron had taken our whole family out to nice restaurants and here we were at an adult Chuck E. Cheese for our night! Still hopeful, J walked up to the counter and got the details. Unfortunately, all they had to eat were things like nachos and pizza by the slice. Only the two big girls and the adults were tall enough to race on the track (obviously the main attraction) and the track was about the same temp as outside...around freezing. We all piled back into cars, searched for Rainforest Cafe on our Garmins, and headed out. I was just so relieved that we weren't staying at that place!!! Poor Jason felt awful about the whole thing, but it could've happened to anyone and in only a few minutes we were at the Rainforest Cafe who had graciously held our reservation. The food was good, the kids and adults enjoyed the atmosphere, and we had a great time.

I really hope we do this again for Christmas. I highly recommend the Great Wolf Lodge, but the main thing was spending time together and building memories. It was a great trip!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Wolf

For Christmas this year, Grandma & Papa wanted to do something different than gifts. Instead, they took their sons (and their sons' families) to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. What a great trip we had! The lodge has a rustic theme and is centered around families. It even has an indoor water park! Check it out: Their idea for our gifts to them and each other was for each brother and his wife to plan the entertainment for one evening of the trip.

We arrived Saturday afternoon after a LONG 7 hour car trip. We actually only stopped once and it may have worked to our advantage that Haven was sick and dehydrated since she didn't feel much like moving around! Although we had looked up the lodge on the internet, I was blown away when we got inside of our room. We had two queen sized beds and a fold out couch downstairs and another queen sized bed in the loft room. We also had a kitchenette, bath and a half, and our own fully functional gas fireplace. Here's the floor plan: Here are a couple of pictures and a description...we had the Loft Fireplace Suite:
After settling in to the room, we went down to look at the water park. It was amazing! It was so hot in there...felt like a sauna. Haven and I were fully clothed, but she played in the water anyway. There were big slides, swimming pools, hot tubs, jungle gyms, kiddie slides, and a huge toddler area. Jason and the other kids put their suits on and tried everything out right away.

After an hour or so playing at the water park, it was time for our first evening of fun which was hosted by Brooke and Jeremy. They took us to the T-Rex Cafe.
I'll be honest. I knew the kids would have fun, but I didn't really expect it to be such a fun time for the adults! First we took the kids in to the dig area where they could dig for dinosaur bones, explore gem mines, play interactive games on the computer, or pan for minerals. We tried it all! After a good hand washing, it was time for supper. The food was really good and the atmosphere was great. There were giant prehistoric insects on the walls that moved, animatronic dinosaurs, and meteor showers. The dinosaurs behind our table came to life and made mooing sounds every so often. Haven loved them. When they came to life, she stopped whatever she was doing and mooed back at them! It was a dining adventure. When we got back to the hotel, it was story time in the lobby and there was a whole Christmas show going on. It even "snowed" foam from the ceiling! Afterward the kids went to a dance party where Marren, Haven, Avery, and Max got down with about 50 other kids, Wiley Wolf, and Rowdy Reindeer. It was hilarious!

One of the really fun things about the lodge is how family friendly it is. There are adults and kids in jammies walking around the lobby and through the halls every morning and every evening. Haven made friends with several kids and their parents. It was so unlike her, but she'd walk right up to people and start jabbering at them or lift her little arms up for them to hold her. I think we all just felt really comfortable in that atmosphere.

The next day we hit the water park bright and early, then it was time to bundle up for the Chiefs game! Rick had gotten tickets for himself, Jeremy, Aaron, Jason, Hannah, Addy, Haddon, and me. So, even though the high on Sunday was 16 degrees, we bundled up and headed to Arrowhead Stadium. Getting inside was the coldest part and I started to have my doubts. Being a bit of a hot-house-flower, I do not manage cold well! Once we got to our seats, the temperature was much better, though. The sun was shining right on us and the wind was totally blocked. The kids and I stayed until just after half-time, then we decided to leave since we were all numb and it was getting colder. Those brave men stayed for the whole game! Miraculously, I found the van without any trouble other than the cutting wind.

I took the kids on a short detour to our old neighborhood and even took them down to our seminary apartment and laundry room. I drove around to the back of the apartment building and pointed out Hannah and Addy's bedroom window to them. It was fun to show the girls the park I took them to nearly every day and where Dad worked. I showed them our favorite shopping and eating places when we left campus. Of course, the kids hit the water park just as soon as we returned to the hotel. I spent quite a bit of time holding Haven. Since I never leave her and she was still feeling bad, it had been a bit of a traumatic day for my little muffin! After a little cuddling, I took her down to the water, too. Even though Haven didn't want ANYTHING to do with the water, she enjoyed the exploring and people watching.

There is so much more to write about our tirp, but I think I'm going to have to save the second half of our trip for another post! That'll give me some time to download some pics, too...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Note to Self:

* In the winter, let the tanning bed warm up before you lay on it naked.
* ALWAYS open the garage door before backing out.
* It does no good to WRITE the letter if you're not going to MAIL the letter.
* Good job getting everyone else bundled go get your coat on.
* If you run out of dishwasher detergent, using even a little bit of regular dish soap could create a bubble tsunami in your kitchen.
* There isn't time to do it tomorrow morning, so do it now.
* Do not schedule a board meeting for the same morning you have put yourself on the schedule to cook lunch for the whole school.
* Next year, divide the tree lights in half and plug them into two different outlets.
* Those photo gifts seem like a good idea...until you actually begin to round up photos for them.
* Somebody will ALWAYS notice if you send home a letter with a type-o.
*The person who notices the type-o will always be sure that you know that they know how incompetent you are.
* Kids who run around in the yard barefooted WILL step in dog poo and/or cut their foot.
* If you forget an extra outfit in the diaper bag, the baby will poop all over whatever they are wearing and end up clad in only a diaper.
*There's no point in dragging a diaper bag around if there are no diapers in it!
*If it has batteries, they will go dead on your trip.

Add your own!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bah, Humblog!

So, the thing about Christmas is that it's so much darn WORK! It took me a full week to get all of my outside lights up (mainly because I'm apparently related to the Griswold's). For s0me reason, many of the working lights that we pack up each January seem to have failed by the following December. Consequently, I spend hours plugging in strands of lights and separating them into 3 piles: working, not working, some working. Then I sort through the some working and see if I can get them working. This pile is then divided accordingly between the working pile and the not working pile with the vast majority being tossed into the latter. The not working pile I don't even mess with, it goes directly into the trash (well, okay, it actually sits in the yard for a day or two, then goes into the trash, but you get the idea) after I have scavenged it for bulbs and shingle clips (but only if they are the kind of shingle clips that I like...more on that later). These items fill my pockets and then I begin. This year I attacked the bushes first. Haven played outside in the 70 degree weather as I piled as many lights on our front landscaping as our feeble breakers will support. It's sometimes a challenge to get the cordage figured out and keep from stringing so many together that they blow a fuse. Also, I really need a cherry picker to get the job done properly because a) I cannot reach the top of our tree and b) our roof has an extremely sharp pitch. After two days of wrestling with bushes, digging rocks and dirt out of Haven's mouth, and grumbling about the strings of lights that decided to quit working only when they were carefully put into place, I was done! Since the following day was extremely windy, I decided to set up the tree inside and avoid the wind.
Our artificial tree was a gift from a family friend. It is a huge, 7 foot tree with a gigantic circumference. Since, as you may have picked up on, I am a lighting freak, it takes ten strings of lights to adequately light our magnificent tree. I light as I go, stringing the lights through the branches as I add each level to the base. This way I can light all the way from back to front whilst minimizing my scratches. Eventually I have to get out the step ladder to finish the tree (since I'm only 5'4"). I was on the step ladder adding the last string of lights when I felt something touch my leg. I looked down to find Haven standing on the rung below me, thus blocking my retreat down the ladder and simultaneously making it impossible for me to rescue her. I called for help and my wonderful husband came running in, then dashed back out and returned momentarily with the camera. He rescued Haven and I after snapping a picture. A few moments later I plucked Haven from the top step of the ladder where she stood dancing and waving her little hands in the face of severe injury or death. Next we let the kids decorate the tree. Everyone hangs their own ornaments, then we fill in with the one's that just belong to the whole family. Haven loved hanging her snow globe that she chose at WalMart. We had a wonderful time and the tree looked beautiful, dripping with ornaments and lights...until we added the tree top angel. At that point, quite suddenly, the entire tree went dark. I knew just what had happened, I had too many lights strung together and had blown a fuse. That's an easy fix, except that after replacing the fuse I'd have to separate the lights between two plug ins or the same thing would happen again. No problem, right? If all the lights are plugged in end to end then one should be able to unplug anywhere on the tree and simply move that male end to the outlet. Right? WRONG! For some reason, we could not get the top half of the tree to light and it was already loaded with ornaments. After throwing a temper-tantrum that would've impressed a two year old, I retraced each string of lights until I found the start of the dark ones made some adjustments and voila....a few more lights came on, but still not the whole tree. And there it sits today!
Last night I finally got on the roof to finish my outside lighting. With my pockets loaded to the brim with supplies, I outlined the lower level of our roof (as you recall, part of our roof is too steep to climb on, so it remains unlit every year, severely taxing my Christmas spirit). Finally, it was time to plug in! The same phenomenon occurs every year, but it never fails to irritate me...about a third of the bulbs that were working when they were tested on good old terra firma have magically pooped out now that they are attached to the roof. Maybe they are afraid of heights? I spend more time systematically replacing each bulb with a replacement of the proper color from the stash in my pockets than I do getting the lights up in the first place. But, I love it when it's done (except that I REALLY want to outline the dormer windows that can't be reached). For the remainder of the season I will climb on the roof a couple of times a week to replace the dead bulbs.
I realize that this post only covers the decorating of the season. I can't even begin to complain about the gift shopping, Christmas card sending, and most of all...the post office. No wonder it's so hard to remember that Christmas isn't about the gifts and parties and lights and trees. It isn't even about giving instead of receiving as so many made-for-television movies would like us to believe. No, Christmas is about God coming to earth in the form of a tiny baby to live a sinless life, die on a cross, rise again, and be the Savior of the world.