Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Our weekend at Great Wolf Lodge!

Or, 50 ways to lose track of your kids, and ALL your money!

This year my sister and I decided that instead of buying each other's kids more toys they don't really need we'd book a family get-away instead. And so last weekend found the 10 of us (4 parents, 6 kids) enjoying the thrills of Great Wolf Lodge.

(And nope, I'm getting nothing from writing about our trip. But, Great Wolf Lodge- I'll take some free stuff!)

The fireplace, which mysteriously never had a fire in it.

Great Wolf Lodge, if you haven't had the pleasure, is a chain of indoor water park/hotels with an outdoor/wolf theme. They are very, very good at getting you to spend gobs of money. Think of a casino for children, with water slides. I mean, you have to walk through the arcade (games NOT included) to get anywhere. Genius! 

Missing from the photo- silly Wolf ears

At first we kind of panicked, and balked at the idea of spending MORE money at this place. (The rooms aren't cheap.) But after a drink and a few hours of watching the kids have fun, we gave up got over it.
Bear hugs

And they did have a blast. This kind of place is right at my kids level: noisy, crowded and with lots of opportunities to play games and eat junk food. They wanted to move in.
When he get so big!?

She loves Characters!
I've learned to relax some of my hard and fast rules when we are on vacation, so 9PM Saturday night we were eating ice cream sundaes after getting down at the evening storytime/dance party. Bedtime? What's that!?

Ropes course + pool= FUN
And of course, there was the water park. I tried to play "cool mom" and went on the scariest, hugest, silliest water ride with Daniel. I've got a bruise the size of a baseball on my leg from my terrified scramble out of the pool, and my throat is still horse from all the screaming. (Daniel loved it, especially when I started cursing at the top of my lungs.)

waiting for her Princess Tiara

Princess Wolf Lodge
And of course there is an ice cream themed spa for kids. Of course there is. Like I said, these folks know how to make money. There was no way we were NOT going to get something in this spa.  Luckily they have a $10 "Scoops Sprinkle" treatment (lotion, lip gloss, tiara), which was fun and totally worth it.

Wolfie selfie

So yes, we "stomped, stomped and howled" for two days. Not a bad way to spend a freezing February  weekend!

Have you been to the lodge? Any tips you'd like to share?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The devil you know...

A new year, a new 'do

My favorite story when I was little was "It Could Always Be Worse"... You have probably heard some version of this old Jewish folktale. In it, a father complains to his rabbi that his house is too noisy and his family is stressing him out. The Rabbi tells him to bring all his animals inside. Then, of course, the house is even more chaotic. So the Rabbi tells him to put his animals back outside. Now the father enjoys the peace and quiet of his happy home. Nothing has changed, however, just the man's perspective.

I learned a version of the rabbi's lesson myself last week. I used to think that driving my children to school and myself to work was exhausting and stressful. I hated the song requests, the back seat driving, the fighting, and whining and the parking. Then the blizzard hit, and we had to take the bus to school.

And that morning when I finally got back into the driver's seat, what bliss!

I realized this week that I hate taking public transportation with my children. Probably all parents do, but I think I find it particularly stressful as a trans-racial adoptive mother. My little family sticks out pretty much everywhere we go. I'm a tall white woman, and I have two rambunctious and beautiful Ethiopian children. When we are sitting on a bus or a train we are like a little "Trans-Racial Adoption Show!" Nobody, it seems, has anything else to do besides watch our family interact. I can almost see the gears turning as they try to figure us out. (Is her husband really dark? Foster mother? Auntie?) We've never had truly negative experience, thank goodness, but I (and Daniel too) are hyper aware of the attention we are getting.

I feel like all the women are judging me (my parenting, Lily's hair, whether or not I'm letting them play on my phone to keep them quiet...) All the things I judge myself for, I put into the minds of the people around me.

They are probably not thinking badly of me. I know that. I KNOW that, but I don't FEEL that.

It's hard to have an audience for your parenting. When I mess up in private, I can recover faster. When I lose my temper in public then I get stuck in a mini shame cycle, which makes it much harder for me to keep my cool. It's a vicious cycle that can make a 25 minute bus ride feel like an eternity.

So my perspective on the challenges of driving with kids was dramatically altered by a week of parenting on the bus.

I wonder what other challenges I can change my perspective on?

The Lenten season is here, and although I'm not a Catholic, I do like the idea of using this special time to change a habit, grow in faith or simply change perspective a bit. This year I'm trying a Facebook fast. (Really that has been a long time coming.) The Groundhog said that warm weather is on it's way, and although the snow hasn't stopped, it does feel like Spring, and change, are coming...