Sunday, July 16, 2017

Great Wolf Lodge Review

I have a colleague that I work with that happens to live in North Carolina. For as long as I have known her, I have heard her talk about Great Wolf Lodge and how fantastic it is. She frequently goes and takes her daughter to the one that is in her area. For those of you who don't know - Great Wolf Lodge is a giant indoor water park.

Anyway - this year Maddie's Girl Scout Troop raised enough money from selling cookies, where her troop could do a really cool trip. So the girls voted on Great Wolf Lodge. The two locations that are closest to us are in Massachusetts and Poconos, PA. After comparing the two and researching, we decided to go to the Poconos location. Trip Advisor told me that it was larger and it had a ropes course and it just had better overall reviews. Both locations were about 3 hours away - so we figured that we would pick the one that was larger and sounded more fun.

We picked a weekend where all 6 girls could go and we booked it. We decided to book the Fireplace Loft Suite, as it had enough beds for all the girls, and it had 2 bathrooms. The room also had a microwave, and mini-refrigerator.

We left on Saturday morning at 8:15 and arrived at the Lodge around 11:30. We knew that if the room wasn't ready, we could still use the water park. Fortunately, our room was ready (which just made everything logistically easier). So thank goodness for that. We unloaded the car, checked in, ate a quick lunch that we had packed, and then headed down to the water park.

Let me tell you -the place did not disappoint! It was HUGE. It had a wave pool, lazy river, a section for water basketball, a section for little kids, and then it had tons and tons of water slides. Big ones. Small ones. Ones that went outside and back in. It was crazy! It also had an outdoor pool, along with a ropes course.

I am going to fully admit that I am not a ride person. I do not do roller coasters, and I do not like anything that is scary or that might make me feel sick. Well, after this trip - I think I am now a water slide person! I actually conquered my fears, and went on the Hydro plunge. Thanks to one of the moms I was with, and the girls - I finally gathered enough courage, and I tried it. I was so scared. But after the first time, I was addicted. I must have gone on that ride 10 more times.
Hydro Plunge
I also tackled some other rides. However, I did not do the ride that involved lights and darkness and where the tube went up the wall. I am not that brave.

We stayed at the water park until about 5 PM, and then headed back to the room. For dinner we ordered pizza and wings. We actually had a $50 dining credit that came with the room. So our dinner was basically free - which was a nice perk.

After that, the girls went back to the water park and also visited the arcade. We were back in the room around 9 PM and it was lights out around 11 PM. Surprisingly, the girls were quiet and went to bed. I think we were all tired from all the water activities!

When we woke up on Sunday morning, we ate breakfast that we had brought with us, and then loaded up the car. Since check out was 11 AM - we decided to pack the car so we were ready to go and it was one less thing we had to do. The girls kept their day bags with them so they could have dry clothing after the water park. One cool thing about Great Wolf Lodge is that even after you check out of the room, you can play in the water park all day.

The girls wanted to tackle the ropes course also - so that was on our agenda.The ropes course has about 4 different levels and it actually was very cool to see. All 6 girls did it and they spent about an hour climbing, zip-lining and rope balancing. I actually thought the price was pretty reasonable. It was $15 for one time, or $20 for unlimited amount of times. Since we were short on time, we chose the $15 option.


The Ropes Course
After that, we went back to the water park and spent another few hours there, and then it was time to change and head home. Great Wolf also has showers and changing areas so we could change and wear dry clothing for our ride home.

All in all - we had a great time, and I actually would even consider going with my own family.

There were a few things that I thought would make the trip even better. For instance, it would have been nice if our room had more of a kitchen area. There wasn't much space to put all of the food that we brought, and a full refrigerator would have been appreciated. As you can see from the picture - the living space is a little bit small. Fortunately we weren't in the room much - so we could work around it.

Fireplace Loft Suite
Another drawback was that the outside area and the ropes course closed early. The outdoor pool shut down at 7:30, which I felt was a bit early for a summer night. Maybe 8:30 would have been more reasonable. It would have been nice for the girls to do the ropes course in the evening when it was cooler. And to top it off, the ropes course didn't open in the morning until 11 AM. I felt that it should have opened at 9 AM when the water park opened.

All-in-all, it was a great trip. I now see why my colleague is such a fan of Great Wolf! It almost reminded me a mini-Disneyworld. The Great Wolf people have it down to a science. I am really glad Maddie's troop got to experience it. It was a great time and I would recommend it to anyone!


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Walmart Pick up

Did you know that you can order online at Walmart and pick up your groceries? A friend of mine had mentioned it to me about a month ago. Then I received a $10 off coupon in the mail to try it. So  - I figured, "why not?"

Here's the thing about Walmart. I like their prices. But I HATE going into the store. It is usually crowded and I can't stand the whole process of going in there if I just need a few things. The cash register line takes forever, and I just would rather throw up my arms and run into Hannaford. When I do go to Walmart, I usually shop there for items like detergent, soap, toilet paper, and paper towels. So when I saw this online coupon and I realized I didn't have to actually enter the store  - it was a win-win for me!

I logged on to their web site, and I found it very easy to search for the items I needed and put them in my shopping cart. For the first go-around, I just purchased toothpaste, laundry detergent, cereal, chips, and some other random items. I entered my $10 coupon code and entered my payment information and then I chose my pick up date and time frame.

When it was time to pick it up, I received a phone call and an email saying that my order was ready.

When I arrived at Walmart, I wasn't sure where to go at first. But, never fear - how could I miss the big orange wall that said "PICKUP" in big letters.

Not to mention, there were orange signs all over directing me to the pick up location.
I pulled into the pick up parking spots and there was a phone number to call. However, I chose to download the app and just hit the "check in" button. Right away, the app told me that someone would be right outside with my groceries.

I didn't have to wait long. Within 4 minutes, a nice young man came out with my order. He introduced himself to me, shook my hand, and loaded my car. He also gave me a nice welcome bag that was full of fun products like gum, granola bars, and other samples of detergent, garbage bags, and fruit chews.
My welcome bag also had an American Flag in it since today is the Fourth of July.

My experience was seamless, and I will definitely be utilizing this in the future. If you would like to try it, go to

http://r.wmt.co/fMaHu 

We will both get $10 off!





Saturday, April 15, 2017

Montreal Review

We just got back from 2 nights in Montreal. We decided to go there to kick off spring break. It was a place I personally had never visited. It's just over 3 hours away, and the kids have passports, and we figured it would be a fun get-away. Plus, it just happened to fall prior to my birthday. So- we figured we would make it a birthday/spring break trip.

Before the trip, I had carefully researched the perfect hotel. My definition of a "perfect hotel" includes the following: indoor pool for the kids, free breakfast, nice, clean room. It also wouldn't  hurt if I could find a suite - just so there is more room to spread out. But that is just an extra perk. Anyway - after searching and looking, I soon learned the following: A lot of Montreal hotels do not have indoor pools. And, if they do have a pool - then they don't have free breakfast. I was all set at staying at an Embassy Suites - that had a huge suite and a lovely free breakfast. However, there was no pool. I was back to the drawing board. After extensive research - I finally found the perfect hotel. It was called Le Square Phillips Hotel and Suites. It had a rooftop indoor pool, free breakfast, and a kitchen area in the room. Bam! We were in business.

Upon arrival, I was happy to find out we were on the 10th floor. (The pool was on the 11th floor - so it was perfect proximity). The room was huge. Also - upon check in - the front desk gave my kids 2 welcome bags which had snacks and popcorn in it. My kids were very excited about this and it made them feel special. The room was nice and big with a huge bathroom. The kitchen area had a full refrigerator, microwave, stove/oven, and sink and dishwasher. I could have cooked a gourmet meal there if I was so inclined. My only complaint about the room was that the beds were double-sized instead of queen. Other than that - I was very happy.

Anyway - when we arrived, we checked in, and then went to dinner. One thing I quickly learned was that Montreal people are very stylish. I actually felt like I was in Europe.  Another thing I learned was that everyone speaks French. If you don't know French - it's okay! Because everyone speaks English too.

After dinner, we went up to the rooftop indoor pool and the kids swam. The rooftop pool was very cool. It had an outdoor terrace deck, where you could see the city, and the lights from the buildings added a nice glow in the pool area. We even had the pool to ourselves that night. So the kids could get crazy and play and jump without bothering anyone. After that, it was bedtime.

We woke up on Friday morning, and enjoyed the free breakfast. Then we got ready and headed out to the Biodome. It was about a 15 minute drive from the hotel and it was near the Olympic stadium. The Biodome is basically an indoor ecosystem zoo. You walk through the various ecosystems and see the animals that live there. We saw otters, birds, penguins, monkeys, fish, and alligators. It was a very cool place. One thing that I did find kind of strange though was that the area where the Biodome was located - was kind of run down. I would think since this is a tourist area - it would be kept up really well. But - the area just seemed kind of tired. Besides the Biodome, there was the Olympic tower, Botanical garden, Insect Museum, and the soccer stadium.

After the Biodome, we drove back to the hotel, and then headed out on foot to Old Montreal.  I was very happy to see that Old Montreal was adorable! Our first stop was Notre Dame Cathedral. Normally there is a fee to enter the historic church. Which - I think is weird. After all - it is a church. Why would they charge to enter a church? I have been to many churches in my life in Europe and in the US - and I haven ever had to pay a fee. Anyway - this church charges a fee. But, we were in luck. Since it was Good Friday - there was no fee. And we could go in - but only "to pray." Well - good thing we wanted to say a prayer. So - we entered, and I was in awe. The church did not disappoint. It was so beautiful, I gasped upon entering. We sat down, said a prayer, and walked silently around.

After that, we explored Old Montreal. We ate lunch at a cool pizza place on the river. Then we wandered in some of the shops and walked down the pier. After that, we headed back to the hotel. The kids swam again, and then we went to dinner. We ended the night with a visit to a place called Chocolate Favoris. Basically it is a place where you get an ice cream cone and then they dip it in chocolate. You can choose between 13 chocolates for your dip. Holy cow. It was very good!

This morning, we woke up, ate breakfast and hit the road. We stopped in Lake George on the way home for lunch. All in all -it was a great 2 day get away. I was excited that the kids experienced life in a different country. They also had the "border" experience and had their passports stamped. On the way home - I told Brian that I could now check Montreal off my list. Been there, done that. Don't need to go back. I liked it - but there are many other places to visit. I am a big fan of the 2 day get away trips. Just enough family time. Just enough time for the kids to get some culture. Perfect in every way.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Puppy training part 2

Rooney is almost 4 months old! He has been with us now since February 3rd. In a way, I can't believe it has only been 2 months since he joined our family. It feels like we have always had him.

The month of March was a little rough because we had 2 feet of snow dumped on us. We were still in the middle of house training. But around that time, I feel like something clicked. He actually stopped having accidents in the house. I thought the mounds of snow would hinder his potty training progress, but instead, he seemed to finally be learning. He still has had 1 or 2 accidents - but I would say he is 95% house trained! Yay Rooney! And for the record - the accidents happen on Brian's watch. He never has an accident when I am around. Just sayin.

He also has gotten a lot bigger. He weighs almost 12 pounds now and he actually is taller than Gracie. (When he came home - he was 5 pounds and much smaller than Gracie). We are happy that he is getting bigger - as we wanted him to be double the size of Gracie. He still has time to grow - so we are keeping our fingers crossed that he continues to pack on the pounds.

He is very good natured. He likes to snuggle (when he is not not trying to chew my arm from teething). He goes right to bed at night and doesn't make a peep. If I am in the kitchen cooking, he wanders in, plops himself down and just keeps me company. He gives endless kisses, loves the kids, and is incredibly smart. He is my dream doggy.

He continues to ring the bell to go outside. We are also working on "stay" and "come." And I am researching ways to have him retrieve items and bring them to me. That seems like a lot of work though. So that might not happen.

Even Gracie has taking a liking to him. More often than not, I catch them nuzzling each other and playing. Gracie's tail actually wags when she plays with him. I think it is giving her some spunk which isn't a bad thing for a 14 year old dog.

All in all - we love the little guy. He is the perfect addition to our family.








Saturday, February 11, 2017

Training a puppy

It has been one week since we brought Rooney home. It has been a busy week. I forgot how much work a puppy is. After all, it has been almost 14 years since Gracie was a puppy, and I think I blocked her training from my head. I really don't remember house training her. This time around, I did a lot of research before he arrived so I was very prepared.

My research involved reading puppy books, researching how to train a puppy on the internet, and watching you tube videos. The you tube videos actually were (and still are)  a wealth of information. I watched how to bell train, how to crate train, how to stop a puppy from crying in the crate, and how to do sit, stay, and paw.
 
For the first three days, I cleaned up a lot of poop.  I couldn't get a handle on when he had to go. And he was such a fast little bugger, that I couldn't catch him in time. He didn't have too many pee pee accidents. I was able to stay ahead of that, and as long as I took him out every hour - he didn't have any accidents.
By day four, I was able to finally manage the poop situation and I had somewhat figured out his routine.

In addition, I also am using a clicker. A clicker is just a tool that you use for training. Basically, every time the dog does the desired behavior - you click and then treat him. I like using it because it is consistent. And he got so used to hearing the click - that now when he is going potty, he looks at me and expects to hear the click and get his treat. I also use the clicker for basic training like sit, stay, etc. It is a very effective tool.


One of the most useful things I learned was how to teach the puppy to ring the bell. Basically we hang a bell on the door and every time I take him out, I have him nose the bell or paw at it. And then we go out to go potty. After 5 straight days of doing it consistently - he is ringing the bell to go outside. I have to admit - it is the cutest thing to watch him do it. 

The crate training is going well. He sleeps through the night. The first couple nights, he whined for a few minutes, but then he settled down. Sometimes, when he needs some downtime, we put him in the crate and he naps. My goal was for him to like the crate and not put up a fuss when he has to go in it. So far, so good.

All in all it has been a good week. Unless you want to count the snow we have received. House training is hard work -  but if you add in cold weather and a foot of snow - that makes it slightly more challenging. But, we are getting through it.

So far, Rooney seems like a very relaxed dog. He and Gracie are getting along. He does try to play with her - and if she gets annoyed, she give him a little bark and then he backs down. I actually caught them on the rug together yesterday taking in some sunshine that was streaming through the door.  So they must be taking a liking to each other.

He also likes slippers and shoes. Sometimes he just naps right next to my slippers. And sometimes he tries to eat them. He is a puppy, after all. He can't be all perfect.  Although, he is almost perfection in my eyes. I am completely in love with the little guy.




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Welcome Rooney Graber!

We are expanding our family. Yes. That's right. Rooney Graber will be arriving in the beginning of February. We will be the proud owners of a sweet baby puppy.

Let's not forget that we have a dog already. Gracie was our first baby and we got her the year we got engaged. She is turning 14 in March.

Gracie

Gracie is a cairn terrier. And she is an old lady. Basically she wants to sleep all day. She is, after all 98 in dog years. So- I get it. She is a senior dog and deserves to just hang out and do nothing all day.

We always said that we would get another dog when Gracie is no longer with us. After all, we are dog people. In fact, we love dogs so much that we dog sit periodically. In fact, we were first introduced to the doodle dog when we started dog sitting Molly and  Sam. Molly is a labradoodle and Sam is a schnoodle. We have watched them a couple times per year for the past 5 years. We always love it when they come. They are so fun and they just want to hang out with us. The kids love them too.

Molly and Sam

Anyway, fast forward to the present time. We often talked about what our next dog would be if we ever got another one. And we basically decided that we wanted some type of doodle. We also thought it might be nice to rescue one. Except there was one slight problem. There are not many doodles to rescue. Seriously. I scoured the internet. I looked everywhere. No one just randomly gives up a doodle. And there is a reason for that. Doodles are smart. They are loving. They don't shed. They are sweet. They are good with kids. Who wants to give up that?

So, then I started looking at doodle breeders. You know. Just to see what was out there. And there are many breeders out there. And many types of doodles. Golden doodles, labradoodles, aussie doodles. The list goes on. So many doodles. And they are all so cute. What kind would we pick? Oodles of doodles! So hard to pick just one.

Then one day, my work friend started talking to me about her doodle. She has an Aussie doodle. She started texting me pictures of her dog. And let's just say that it's a good thing she lives in North Carolina. Because otherwise, I might kidnap her dog. He is that cute. I started sending the pictures to Brian. And then all of a sudden we were looking at the breeder where she got her dog from. And what do you know. Her breeder had a litter of puppies born in December and they were ready to be delivered in February!

And then we were picking out a puppy. And then I paid the deposit.

What?

Wait. How did this happen? We still have a dog. Do we really want a puppy? Then that means we will have TWO dogs. Are we a two-dog family?

Well, apparently we are going to be a two-dog family. Here we are. Awaiting our newest member of our family. We will finally have our very own doodle!

Rooney
 



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Coat refusal

My kids have coats. Lots of coats. Warm, winter coats that are puffy, and perfect for a cold winter day.

Yet, for some reason, one of my children has has decided to veto those warm coats. Even if it's 20 degrees out. My one child, (Maddie) argues about wearing those lovely, warm coats.

Is this too much to ask for my kid to dress like this everyday?? Apparently, it is.


This is what I hear on a typical morning:

"It's hot on the bus."
"I am not outside except to get on and off the bus, so I really don't need a coat."
"My big coat doesn't fit in my locker."
And my personal favorite:
"I have a high body temperature, and I am never, ever cold. EVER."

So... what's a mom to do?

I basically stopped trying to get her to wear her puffy coat. Instead, she wears a light, fleece jacket. And, then there is silence. No arguments.

It's like bliss people. Pure bliss! A quiet morning with no arguments. Why, yes please. I will take that every single morning.

We did give her a warning that if the bus ever broke down and she had to stand outside for whatever crazy reason, that she just kind of might be cold in 20 degree weather. But, wait. I forgot. My daughter has a "high body temperature, and she is never, ever cold. EVER."

So, I guess she will be fine. Because, you know. She does have a high body temperature. Somehow, she must of inherited that trait from the hot blooded relatives that I didn't know we have.

The coat argument is an argument that I just don't care to fight anymore. If she wants to freeze her little tushy off in her light-weight jacket - then so be it. And she will never admit to me if she is freezing. So, I win. She can suffer in silence.

WINNING, people! I am winning the coat argument!
Bam.

The other day I realized that my daughter is not the only one that refuses to wear a coat.
I was volunteering on Friday night for 6th grade activity night and I happened to be working the door.

Let me tell you that 98 percent of those kids that entered the building on that cold chilly 25 degree night did not have a coat on!

What to the what???
It's true.
No coats.

And then it all made sense.
How did I not know that ALL the 6th graders are hot blooded. And never, ever cold. EVER.

Duh. It took me this long to figure that one out. But, now I know.