Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Mommy Bloggers

Here is a picture we took of all the Mommy Bloggers together after our breakfast.

It was so fun to meet and talk with these women! All moms, most stay at home, and just finding ways to write and connect and share things they know! It was really cool.

We also got to meet some of the marketing people and the general manager of Great Wolf Lodge. They were all really nice, of course! They talked a lot about how GWL is trying to build relationships with some of the local attractions- Carowinds (an amusement park) is really close by, the NASCAR Speedway is just a mile or so down the road, and there is a ton of great shopping and restaurants right across the street. Assuming, of course, that you want to actually *leave* the resort!

If you are anywhere in the area, and are thinking about taking a trip, they are running a great "Homeschooling Special" for the first 2 weeks of May (weekends excluded)- only $132 a night! I'm a little tempted to "homeschool" Abigail for a couple of days!

A few other things I didn't mention in my previous post:

-- GWL places an emphasis on education. I know, kind of strange for a hotel to educate, but they do. The kids area had huge posters about wolves and their lifecycle, facts, etc. and another one all about trees. They have daily tours through their lobby where they talk about conservation and other nature topics.

--They are the first and only hotel in the US to be Green Seal Certified- Silver. There are recycling bins everywhere, and they really take conservation and being 'green' seriously!

--With a one night stay, you actually get 2 full days of waterpark fun. Check in time is officially 4 pm, and check out is 11 am. But before check in and after check out, you are welcome to be in the waterpark from the time it opens until the time it closes. If you look at rates for just a waterpark for two days, it is actually a pretty good deal to stay at the resort. And there are locker rooms for showering and getting cleaned up if you are out of your room but want to stay and play (that's what we did).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge

We were so excited to be invited to the Great Wolf Lodge in North Carolina this past weekend. They were trying to break the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest waterslide ridden in 24 hours. They beat the previous record in just 3 hours! But we kept sliding for the rest of the 24 to make sure that the record holds for a long, long time!

On the way up, Jack was deep in thought, then shared his insight with us: "Mom- they call it GREAT Wolf Lodge because it's GREAT!" You can't argue with that logic!

We started out at Carowinds (more about that later), and then went straight on over to the GWL. The kids couldn't wait even one second to get in the water, so we just threw our suitcases open, changed as quickly as we could, and headed down to the fun.

Jack and Aidan were vindicated this year because they were tall enough to ride the "big" waterslides and not just the baby one. Of course, outside was rainy, windy, and cold, but that makes no difference with the indoor waterpark! And I can't describe how much I loved not having to worry about sunscreen!

My only problem is that every time we go, we end up with hardly any pictures! We are so busy going and doing and enjoying that we hardly pull out the camera!

In the background of this shot of Aidan, you can see one of my favorite things- the lifeguards!! They are EVERYWHERE! And they never, ever sit down. They are constantly patrolling and watching and correcting. It is the first place I have ever been where I felt like they are actually paying attention and would notice if something went wrong! As the mother of 3 who can almost swim but not quite, that is a nice feeling of backup!
We tried the MagiQuest game this year. Waving the wands at pictures and statues and making their eyes glow and listening to the funny things they say was a total hit. The game- not so much. I think they are just a little too young. We were trying to do all 3 at once, and they just wanted to go off and do their own thing. Not that I blame them! I think in a couple of years when they can read and follow the instructions themselves, it will be a total hit. The 8-15 year olds were running all over the hotel completing quests and having a grand time. I had visions of adults napping in the room while the kids completed adventures and quests! All in good time... :)

The thing I love about GWL is that there is something for everyone. We spent a couple hours one afternoon decompressing in the 'cub club'- toys, puzzles, art projects. I thought they would be ready to go in 10 minutes, but we ended up staying about 2.5 hours in there! They have the Quest game for the older children, a huge arcade, a room for teenagers with internet, movies, music, etc, a spa for adults and another one for kids... oh yeah- and a gigantic indoor waterpark!
And, mirroring our experience last year, they have amazing customer service. Abigail was carrying around a little notebook everywhere we went. One night we were back in our room after dinner, and there was a message on the phone from our waitress- she had found Abigail's notebook, and not only did she save it and give it to the hostess, but she took the extra few minutes to call up to our room and let us know it was there. That small act saved many tears!

"Who cares about breakfast? Get us down to the water!" The in house buffet has a separate section for kids (call me crazy, but I love having adult sections and kid sections!), and they serve cereal at every meal. Brilliant, I tell you.

A gratuitous cute shot of Abigail! Obviously the people at GWL invited us in the hopes that we would rave about our stay and let our friends know all about it, so I feel somewhat biased in writing all these good things- however, I can honestly say that we would rave about it no matter what! It really is one of our favorite places, and they are very mindful of small details that make the stay so relaxing and fun.

On the way home, Jack declared that Great Wolf Lodge was better than Disney World! Now, Disney World is one of our favorite places lately, and Daddy tried to convince him otherwise- "But Disney has this and this and this" Jack wasn't convinced- "Nope- Great Wolf Lodge is better!". I like both, but GWL is definitely cheaper and more relaxing!

Aidan and Abigail weren't participating in the discussion!

Friday, March 26, 2010

5 Quick Things

1. My most recent post to Deep South Moms - "Enough with the Magical Creatures" was picked for syndication. They only select two posts per week out of the entire SV Moms group posts, so it feels pretty good to know that someone out there liked what I wrote enough to send it out to various publications!

2. Taking Abigail out of school and Kydon out of work for a little vacation at the Great Wolf Lodge. Aidan is excited to show his pet "wolfy" his birthplace, Abigail can't wait to get in the pool, and Jack is hoping to be tall enough to ride some slides (he was just a bit too short last year).

3. We had an open house at our townhouse- it is for sale, you know- and guess how many people came? Zero! Not even a nosy neighbor! Now that is bad!

4. A couple of mornings ago we all came downstairs for breakfast, and immediately spotted a red hornet flying around our kitchen. As I was chasing it with Raid, I started having flashbacks to last years' epic FIVE hornet stings over the summer, including one that flew out of my bed as I was climbing in. If I see another one, I'm moving to the townhouse.

5. I'm not the only Mom who hates balloons!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peter's Pavement Pounders

I have always been an avid reader. When I was in the 7th grade, I read a book called "Alex: The Life Of a Child" by Frank Deford.

It was an incredibly emotional book, and it left a deep impression on me. Ever since reading that book, I have had an interest in children and families who struggle with Cystic Fibrosis. I work with them quite frequently in my work as a pediatric nurse, and I always wish there was something more I could do. I also have a friend, Marchet, whose son has CF. She is an amazing photographer, a fantastic mom, and handles all of it with a great deal of grace.

I am going to join them this year, as a member of the team "Peter's Pavement Pounders"! We are going to walk on May 15th to raise money for CF research.

Peter's Pavement Pounders

The 'Alex' from the above book lived from 1972-1980. In many ways, the treatment for CF is so much different than what they did in this book, but in so many other ways, it hasn't changed nearly enough. Kids with CF need better drugs, improved treatments, and a better prognosis. Money to fund research will have a direct effect on both the QUALITY and QUANTITY of life they will have.

Please consider sponsoring me and my family in this walk! Just a mere $10, when added all together, can make a big difference! Just click on over to make a donation! Please help me make my goal!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Author: Abigail

"Quilly the Octopus had no friends. But she was not sad. But she was happy. She found a new friend. She was very nice. I like my new friend. Her friend's name was Sammy.

They went to Volcanoland. They found a new friend."

Monday Morning

As requested, here are a few "oldies but goodies"- pictures to accompany my Monday post!

Today I am trying to make progress on my 40 bag purge, finish the shape books we've been working on in preschool, and get to the store for some fabric and ribbon.
I've been working on some Christmas gifts already! I will try to post some links soon.
Also, in the category of "awesome exciting news": On Friday we are heading back to one of our favorite places- the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC! We were invited for another Mommy Blogger event, and we are all beyond excited to take a bonus vacation!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

40 bags in 40 days

I am still working on purging each room and getting rid of unnecessary items. The goal is to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days.

I am 14 days in, and have gotten rid of 21 bags. Over half way! I have thought of several more things that I can get rid of, so tomorrow will be the quest to make more progress. I'm going to attack the garage! And then the backyard.
Aidan put these pants on today. I think they might have to go in one of the bags...
Major holes and at least 3 inches too short! I think we can say goodbye!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Finding things that work

Abigail has had trouble with allergies for several years now. Every Spring, and every Fall, she is miserable. Sniffling, coughing, and can't sleep at night. It often leads to ear infections, and quite often sore throats and a raw nose.

Despite testing, we don't know what she is allergic too. I'm fairly certain it is some sort of pollen, since it is seasonal. We have tried about 5 or 6 different medications, and none of them seemed to do the trick. Or they would be wonderful for 2 weeks, then do absolutely nothing. The only thing that has consistently helped her is Benadryl. We end up giving her Benadryl every single night, because otherwise she is miserable and cannot sleep.

It is not the ideal solution for several reasons. First, it only lasts 6 hours, so she often wakes in the early morning hours sniffling and coughing. Second, it makes her a little loopy and sleepy. That is okay at night, but I hate to give it during the day, especially when I'm sending her to school.

It took me longer than it should have, but I finally started doing a bunch of research to find out what types of dietary changes and supplements I could give her that would help. We made a bunch of changes to what she was eating, got some Vit. C and Vit. E supplements, and have been giving her 2 tsp. a day of "Aller-Ease", a combination of a bunch of different herbs and whatever.

We also do a daily "Power Smoothie" :
Apple Juice, yogurt, Vit. C, a large handful of spinach, raw local honey, and some frozen berries. It tastes wonderful! I make enough so that Jack and Aidan and I can have some as well.

I'm very happy to report that since we started this about 2 weeks ago, we have not needed any Benadryl! None! And the sniffles and snorts are completely gone! And I'm not even giving her the full recommended dose of the supplement, so I can go up on that as needed. I feel great about it, I just wish I had figured it out a long time ago!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I know you are wondering about the oven

The part (to fix it) came!!!

Kydon installed it!!!

It doesn't work!!!

Maybe we can figure it out over the weekend. Or maybe next week. It has only been about 50 days, so no rush.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stinky Sock Soup

Every evening, about 4:55, as I am cooking and stirring and pulling out ingredients, my kids ask the same question. "What are you making for dinner?" No matter what I answer, their reaction is the same "WAAAAHHHHHH!!! I HATE DAT!!!!!!!!!!!" Except when I respond with "lasagna", when they hug my legs and tell me they love me.

But lasagna is a lot of work, and also variety is the spice of life. [Also- no oven]

So, because they do this every night, I know I have a choice. I can tell them what I am actually making, and they will cry and whine about the food I've worked hard on, or I can make something up and they will cry and whine about something silly.

I usually choose to make something up.

The other night I made Salmon Chowder Stinky Sock Soup. I explained that you find the smelliest, stinky sock in the laundry basket, then chop it up really small and make soup. It turned out funnier than usual, because they didn't know whether to believe me or not. It was quite concerning to them. "Mom- tell me the TRUTH- did you put a stinky sock in?" "Real? For REAL? Be real!" "TELL da TRUTH!" I maintained two truths- the first was that anyone who found a REAL piece of REAL stinky sock would get a prize. The second was that I wasn't going to tell them how many pieces I put in because it was a surprise.

I was surprised they sort-of believed me. Hello, I do this every night! But this time, they didn't really believe me, but they didn't really *not* believe me either!

It made for some really funny dinner conversation as they searched and searched for a piece of stinky sock.
We determined that you couldn't always see it- you had to taste every bit of soup to thoroughly check for any small bits of sock.

Here Abigail is convinced she found one. Oops, just salmon. Keep looking!

They devoured it! Yummy soup + a little imagination seemed to = success!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm not a believer

I posted today over at Deep South Moms... Enough with the magical creatures!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I like to post on Monday mornings

(Totally random pic of cute baby Abigail... just because I can't have 4 posts in a row with no pictures!)

I like to post on Monday mornings. It is a good way to delay all the cleaning and weekend recovery that needs to happen.

1. It has been about a month and a half since having an oven. I didn't even care for the first few weeks, but now it is annoying. Not devastating, but quite annoying. The good news is that the part is on the way. The bad news is that I really want a brownie, and can't even find where to buy them. Any ideas?

2. I have been through my entire house (except for the garage), and I am up to 17 bags. I don't think I will make 40. Kydon might throw out some things from his closet, and I might make one more quick round through the rooms (I know my closet is holding out on at least one more bag). Plus the garage. But we really do a pretty good job of just getting rid of stuff we don't need, so I don't think I will make 40. The good news is that even if I don't make 40, I will have gone through the house and gotten rid of stuff! I even pulled out all my bins of holiday decorations (mostly christmas) and purged it. That was intimidating but needed to be done!

3. I don't know why I am numbering this morning.

4. Jack and Aidan got in a fight today. One of them had more coaches in his train than the other, and they both got very upset. Words were exchanged. Coaches were flung. A tinkertoy might have hit Mom by accident. 3 minutes later they are best friends again. I just thought I better write it down, since it is such a rare occurance for them to get mad at each other.

5. I'm going to make Salmon Chowder for dinner tonight. Looking forward to it!

6. As of 2:30, I will have 5 children in my home for a few hours. Kind of nervous about that one!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vivid Dreams

Last night I made chili for dinner. I wanted to freeze the leftovers, so I left the pot sitting out to cool down before bagging and freezing.

As I was laying in bed, going to sleep, I remembered about the pot of chili still sitting on the stove. I was really, really tired, but I got up and put it away.

When I woke up this morning, imagine my surprise when I saw the pot, full of chili, sitting on the stove. It did not fit with my very clear memories of putting it all away!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

40 Bag Update

I am now up to 6 bags total. 3 to give away and 3 trash. Apparently I purge the stuff that is useful, but seem to keep around stuff that should just be thrown out.

My only problem is that I have been through all the 'easy' stuff- the kitchen, bookshelves and front room. I will work on the bedrooms next, and there is no way I will even be close to 40. Which means.... oh no...... I may have to move on to the basement. And, (horror) the garage.

Well, at least it will be good for me, right??

I wonder how many bags I could count if I threw out my oven. It doesn't work anyway, and I have no affection for it... seems like a great purging candidate to me! (Yep, 39 days and counting with no oven, and we still haven't ordered the part to fix it yet).

Monday, March 8, 2010

40 bags in 40 days

I have been reading all about how Sarah, over at Clover Lane, is purging her house. She is trying to get rid of 40 bags of stuff during the 40 days of Lent. She has already gotten rid of more than 30 bags! I love stories like that. Then, today I called my sister, and she was in the middle of purging her guest room closet. As I listened to all she was getting rid of, my blood started pumping and I knew I would have to join in.

So, starting today, I am going to try and get rid of 40 bags of *stuff*! Either give it away or throw it away, but somehow get it out of my house.

It won't be easy. I am actually a habitual purger. I purge all the time. When Flylady tells me to do the 27-fling boogie, I have to walk around and try to find things to get rid of. Because it gives me great pleasure to get rid of stuff, most of the stuff I have is stuff I need or like.

BUT, that being said, I bet I can find 40 bags. I started today, and I have filled 2 bags of trash and 1 bag to give away. That brings my grand total to 3. A long way from 40, but at least it is a start!

Anyone want to join me?

Can We Pet Your Dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

I'll stand over here until the dogs are gone.

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Can we pet your dog?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

She Grew Today

Do you ever have one of those days when you look at your kid and realize that they grew since the last time you looked at them? All of a sudden their pants will be too short, or their face has a different look.
Today was one of those days. When I saw Abigail, all dressed up in her cute little uniform, excited and nervous at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder when she had gotten so tall.
I saw her on the field, running right along all these 'big' kids, keeping up with them and holding her own, and I realized that I must have blinked.

I must have blinked, because all of a sudden she is bigger. Taller. A tiny bit more independant.

And doing just fine as the only girl on either team!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Favorite Foods

Things Jack will eat:
Ice Cream
(notice a theme?)

When I ask the kids what they want to eat for dinner, here are their suggestions:
Macaroni and Cheese
Noodles with Pesto.
(notice a theme?)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pizza on the Grill

Well, 32 days now and still no oven. Deciding to fix it is different than actually getting it done, so we continue to cook with no oven. Today I decided to try cooking our pizza on the grill. I did a google search (of course), and got a few tips under my belt, then went for it.

I decided there is a learning curve to this, and I think next time will be a little better.

Here is our first crust. We won't talk about that cut away piece. That soot-covered spot had no place in any pizza. The second crust turned out better (I leaned to not have the flames so high), but I didn't get a picture of it- we were starting to get hungry!

Here is the other side. See- cooked much too hot. And, from this shot, you can only imagine how bad it must have been to get me to cut it off, considering all the black spots I left. Anyway, after pre-baking the crust a bit (or burning it like me), you just put the toppings on, then back to the grill for heating/melting.

This was the kids version- half cheese, half pepperoni. Ours had the addition of mushrooms and green peppers, which I should have heated a bit before putting on, because it is hard to get all the veggies cooked without burning the crust.

Overall, it turned out really good! The second crust didn't get burned at all and it did have a nice flavor and a sort of crispiness that tasted really good. Abigail said it was her favorite pizza ever, and Kydon really liked it as well. I was a little disappointed with the burning and veggies not getting cooked all the way, but I think next time I will like it a lot.

Also, FYI, crockpot lasagna is not so great.

Monday, March 1, 2010