Our Great Wolf Lodge Vacation

Time away from home = vacation
Time away from home with two children under the age of 5 = relocation

While I can't take credit for definitions above, I must agree. Mr. Lindquist and I originally planned a trip for two this summer, but decided at the last minute to add two more to our party. While it wasn't the most relaxing getaway of all time, it was a getaway nonetheless, and one that we will remember for years to come...thanks to an overabundance of Instagram photos and the hashtag #lindquest2014.

When deciding on a locale for our vacation, we wanted somewhere we've never been, somewhere driveable (less than 5 hours in a car preferably) and somewhere fun! Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City checked all those boxes for us. We booked the trip a week before we left. 

Rather than give an hour by hour account of our trip, I've compiled a list of dos and don'ts for families vacationing to Great Wolf Lodge with small children. Without further ado:

* Do stay for two nights. On the day you check-in, you can get into the waterpark at 1 p.m. Checkout the next day is at 11 a.m., but you don't have to leave the waterpark until 9 p.m. If you like having access to your room before you leave, this doesn't allow for much time in the water. I think if our kids were older, the one night would've been fine, but with two littles, two nights was just right..

* Do splurge on the "Pup Pass" and other packages when booking your trip. There is a worthwhile discount for adding these things to your purchase when booking the room versus paying for them there. The Pup Pass included a sparkly, glitter tattoo, a Build-a-Bear-type animal, a Great Wold Lodge characters pillowcase with arts and craft supplies to decorate it, way too many Mike and Ike's and a dish of ice cream for under $40. We took a break from the pool to do all these activities the first night and each one was a lot of fun for four-year-old Faith.

*Do wear the ears. At all times.

*Don't be in a hurry. That is the number one rule of vacation and Faith followed it perfectly, while adhering to the "do" above.

*Do take time for the little things, like stopping to look at the animals on the carpet.

*Don't forget flip flops. Do bring a coverup. And it never hurts to buy a swimsuit you feel comfortable and confident in versus a Target special you tried on the night before you left and had about ten seconds to look at in the mirror before your child informed you she needed to poop....Not that I would know. (No picture for obvious reasons.)

*Don't wear makeup. You're at a waterpark with your spouse and kids and a whole bunch of strangers. Gotta love vacations that call for zero time spent on hair and makeup.

*Do stand under the big bucket of water at least once. Don't let your four-year-old lest she be knocked to the ground.

*Do make time for all the waterslides. Each one is different and fun and will bring you right back to your childhood. (Anyone else remember Moby Dick in Omaha?)

*Don't try to go down the kiddie water slide to show your child how fun it is when the lifeguard is not looking. You will scrape your knees because the depth is not made for someone over 4 feet tall. Not that I would know.

*Do bring your own towels even though they're provided at the pool. Yours are much softer and can be taken from the pool area to your hotel, which is a cold walk back in the air conditioning.

*If you have the money and are traveling with others, do pay for the tents inside the pool area. We didn't want to spend $10 on a locker, so we just claimed a table and hoped no one would take our stuff. There were a lot of others doing this too, so it's not unheard of, but the ones who splurged on tents always had a place to sit and recline, a cooler for beverages, a tv to watch when they weren't in the water and could have pizza delivered right to their tables.

*Do bring books and reading materials for when you have downtime. The one year old needed to nap a couple times a day, so one person "had" to go back to the room and rest.

*Don't be afraid to have a drink by the pool. Hey, you are on vacation, even if it is with kids. The strawberry dauquari I had was mighty tasty and went well with chips and salsa.

*Do visit the gift shop. We always buy a frame from everywhere we visit on vacation. And we had to get a mug for our coffee cup wall. Just when we thought we were through, Gabby started screeching for a stuffed animal. Since big sister got to do the "Creation Station," we let little sis get something too. Rob named it "yeah yeah" since "yeah" is Gab's favorite word.

*Have a food game plan. Looking back, I wish we would've purchased food passes ahead of time as we ate both dinner and lunch at the hotel and could've saved some cash in advance. I did pack enough stuff for us to eat for breakfast, so that helped.

*That said, do pack five times more snacks than you think you need. I forgot how hungry kids can be after an afternoon of swimming. We brought lots of popcorn, Goldfish, bananas, peaches and trail mix. Luckily it was enough, but barely.

*Do get to the indoor water park right when it opens. If your kids are up by 7 a.m. like ours, you'll have no problem making it to the pool in time for opening ceremonies in which there will be a character for your kid to meet and a song for you to look stupid to. Stomp stomp, clap clap, hooooowwlllll!

*Don't bother with the first part of story time in the lobby. It was hard to hear. The reading of the story was OK, but then the line to meet the character was long enough that it would've kept us up way past bedtime. Another opportunity for the howl though.

*Don't waste your money on the MagiQuest game. I saw more people waving wands that weren't working than those that did. Plus, there was a line behind each item. It especially isn't worth it for children under the age of five imo.

*Skip the arcade. I mean, there were some fun games, but an arcade is something you can do anywhere. Maybe if we were staying more than two nights, we would've ventured down there, but we wanted to spend all our time in the water and on the watersides.

*Do pass on the pedicure. I love getting my toes did, as does Faith, but the cost of having one there versus any random shop was twice the price. While it would've made for cute pictures, I'd recommend passing on the polish.

*Do realize your children will have a meltdown at some point. Ours happened to be the night we went out to eat at Cheeseburger in Paradise. Thank heavens for the balloon man, who saved our sanity. We tipped him extra for that.

*Last but not least, do cherish the memories. In between packing and care-taking and making sure everyone's having fun, memories are made. This is one of my favorites. Faith feeding her little sister-wolf some ice cream.

Future Occupations of a 15 Month Old

Most 15 year olds don't know what they want to do for a living when they grow up but I'm pretty sure I've got my 15  MONTH old's top occupations narrowed down to the following list. What can I say? Her gift in these fields are evident at an early age.

Competitive Eater
The girl is insatiable. This morning she ate a full banana, two muffins, a strip of bacon and a sippy cup of milk. The other night, I served her a plate of cut up chicken, rice and steamed veggies. I then filled my plate. When I got to the table hers was gone, and not the "it's-sitting-in-your-lap gone." Legit gone. She outeats her 4-year-old sister on a regular basis. You may find this alarming. Rob and I find it awesome!

Critic - film, food, fashion, it doesn't matter
When you have a disapproving look this good, you best utilize it.

Yes Woman
If you haven't seen the "yeah" video, do take 15 seconds to hear the answer to every question we ask.

Bird Watcher
The excitement for each an every bird that crosses her path is unreal. Someone needs to take this kid skeet shooting. She's quite the spotter.


Pilot/Air Traffic Control
See that plane way off in the distance? The one you can't hear, but can only make out if you squint and shade your eyes from the sun? Gabby saw it five minutes ago. And then waved at the passengers.


When I come home from work, it's a tie for who's more excited - Howie or Gabby, and if you've ever met our dog or been greeted by him at the front door, that's saying something. She sticks her arm straight out, and waves frantically as if I'm not already looking for her. Bug eyes and all. I think patrons of any restaurant or business where she worked would enjoy this nice touch that always makes me feel like a million bucks.

Mother Daughter Trapeeze Team
If for some reason the Stage 5 Clinger thing doesn't resolve itself by the time she's of working age, we could always take a variety trapeze act on the road as a fall back plan. I know that Gabby would never let go of me.

Last but not least, Hair Over the Eye Model 
(This one is pretty self explanatory.)

So there you have it. Eight jobs my one-year-old would be qualified for today. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose kid could be put to work, so do tell. What job or jobs would you minor qualify for if it weren't for those pesky child labor laws? Maybe a budding chef? Negotiator? (That's my four-year-old!) Demolition man?

Stage 5 Clinger

At first we called her a mama's girl. Then we decided it was stranger danger. And now, well now she's officially a full-blown, stage 5 clinger. I'm referring, of course, to Gabby Grace.

Cute, huh? Until you try to take her from her mama...

For awhile I thought it was due to breastfeeding for 11 months. But when that stopped and her wanting ways continued, there went that excuse. Then I figured it was just a stranger anxiety phase. But when she screamed like her hair was on fire when her grandma who lives with us tried to hold her, there went that theory. Now, I've come to accept I have a stalker. Everywhere I go, she follows me. When I enter the room, she stops whatever she's doing and stares me down. She hasn't started texting and emailing me constantly yet, but I've seen her pressing buttons on the iPad so it's probably not far off.

I kid, I kid. I would be lying if I said I didn't like it a littlle, OK a lot. When I told someone about Gabby's obsession with me, the response was what this person thought was a rhetorical question: "Don't you hate that?" After I thought for a beat, I answered: "No, actually, I love it." Hey, I carried this kid for 9 months, endured the labor, breast-fed non-stop for nearly a year and bear the mommy marks to prove it all. The fact that Gabby tries to make me feel like the only woman on earth just proves how smart she is.

But I feel bad for the others. Especially her dad. And grandma who was greeted by a very unfriendly screech when she went to get Gabby out of her crib the other morning. Grammy reaches her arms out. Gabby hangs onto me for dear life. Grammy tries to woo Gabby with her sweet talk. Gabby scowls. Grammy bribes Gabby with food. Gabby obliges, sometimes. But for the most part if Gabby ain't with mama, ain't nobody happy:

The pros of Gabby being a clinger: (Feeling loved and getting to love on my baby all the time go without saying)

-Huge biceps (OK, mediocre biceps) from carrying her all. the. time.
-An excuse not to ride the Ferris Wheel at the Fair. "Sorry, gotta hold the baby."
-Great weight loss plan as I can only get two bites in before she cries for me to hold her at dinner.
-Getting good at being stealth to avoid her seeing me. Just call me undercover mother.

-Never asking anyone to babysit unless absolutely necessary
-My two bite meal plan
-Lack of ability to use the bathroom in peace
-Hurts other's feelings

I realize this won't last forever. It'll probably be a blip in the highlight reel someday. So for now, I'll just enjoy my cute little clinger while she lasts. And let's be honest, occasionally flexing in front of the mirror.