Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Wolf Lodge

Nathan and Luke had their last history class of the semester Wednesday morning, and as soon as they were done (well, okay, about 2 hours after they were done, even though I was trying to be really organized . . .) we left to drive down to Great Wolf Lodge for a much-needed mini-vacation!  We got there around 4:00, but things started off stressfully (or maybe it is more accurate to say "Bob and I started out stressed, so little things were very stressful", LOL).  When we had originally made reservations, we asked about getting an extra wristband, since we wouldn't have enough for Faith with just the 8 for one room.  But the person there said we couldn't buy an extra one for her (since we already had so many people in the room), so we ended up booking 2 rooms--actually 2 "Grizzly Suites", since they were all the same price with our homeschool discount.  This gave us 4 bedrooms (6 queen size beds!) and 2 bathrooms!  It was actually really nice to be able to spread out.  But the stressful part for me was that they couldn't (wouldn't?) let both rooms be unlocked by the same code.  So Bob and the older 4 boys were all going to sleep in one room, and so their wristbands would only open that door.  The younger 5 and I were in the other room, and our wristbands only opened our door.  Well, that's annoying.  We solved it by not putting wristbands on Micah and Drew, who technically didn't need them, and by putting their "non-unlocking" wristbands on Grace and Faith, leaving an extra wristband for each room that no one wore.  (Jonathan's band unlocked my room.)  I kept the extra 2 bands in the diaper bag during the day, and then each room kept the extra band for the opposite room during the night.  That came in handy, as it turned out!

Bob was stressed because our second room wasn't ready at 4:00, or even 10 minutes later, but rather 30 minutes later.  We were trying to get organized before going down to swim, and it was hard knowing we would eventually be moving half the stuff to a different room.  But the hotel ended up giving us late checkout for both rooms, so that ended up being really, really nice.
The whole water area seemed really a lot chillier compared to other years we've been there.  Bob finally asked someone about it, and it turned out the temperature was several degrees cooler than it should have been.  They did something and said they fixed it, but the upshot of it all was that the skinny younger kids all were little shivering icicles, so they spent a lot of time in the hot tub!  Nathan is in this picture with us, but he and the other boys were not at all bothered by the temperatures, and they all had a wonderful time with the McC boys, going down every sort of water slide as many times as they wanted to, since the park was not a bit crowded.  Anna and Faith had a fantastic time on the water slides as well.  Faith is finally tall enough to be able to go down everything except the Howling Tornado, and she had an absolute blast.  Grace went down a bunch of water slides as well, and had a really good time.  The last time we were there, 2 years ago, she was much more cautious!  Faith was never cautious, LOL.

Bob's sister Ann and brother in law Wally were also there with us, along with their daughter Christi, her husband Andres, and their kids Jasmine and baby Joshua.  We went out to CiCi's  for dinner and to celebrate Jasmine's 3 year old birthday!  We love CiCi's here in NoVA--it fills boy stomachs cheaply!--but the one down in Williamsburg we don't really recommend.  The restaurant was practically empty, but the service was terrible!  They paid no attention to what was empty on their serving line, like noodles and cinnamon rolls, for example, and then Ann asked for a pepperoni pizza, and they never got around to making one!  Eventually, like 25 minutes later, we were ready to leave, and one finally came out of the oven.  They did give it to her to go, so that was a nice touch.  But still not a recommended place to go, LOL. 
When we got back, the younger kids all went to the cheesy storytime/singing Great Wolf Lodge has. Ann had booked their room using a groupon deal she had snagged, and included was 2 of the "MagiQuest" wands plus some accessories.  Caleb and Jonathan have been dying to try that game, so after the storytime, they along with the girls started helping Jasmine figure out where to go and what to do.  Mainly they liked pointing the wands at different things and watching them light up.

The older boys stayed up late and played games in our second room.  Again, it was really nice to have the extra space, and to know they weren't keeping the littler ones awake! 

We had a bit of a restless night, though.  I remember from other stays that it seems like we never sleep all that well the first night, so in that respect it is good to stay a second night.  Well, Drew was up talking to himself at midnight (also someone a floor above us fell out of bed with a thump and started crying, which made me think it was Micah, so I ran in and started trying to find him--sound asleep in the middle of his bed until I started moving things around!).  Then at 3:30 Ana came in to tell me that Micah was crying because "it's too dark".  So I went back in to settle him down, and I dozed off in his bed.  Then I heard the main door open, and in walked Bob.  I leaped out of Micah's bed to stop him so he wouldn't wake up Drew and to find out what he was doing.  It turns out Jonathan had eaten too much at CiCis and then at the game party, and he had lost it all over the bed.  Bob cleaned all the mess up (yay, Bob!!), but Caleb and Jonathan were now sleeping in what had been his bed, and so he was over in my room, looking for a place to stay.  So yeah, overall, not a very restful night!

We all slept in a little bit, had breakfast over in my room, and then everyone except Micah, Drew and I went down to the waterpark.  I washed the clothes that had been vomited on (I can't even get away from laundry for one night, LOL!), moved everything from the boys' room over to mine, and then put Drew down for a little nap.  After Drew woke up, the 3 of us went down to swim a bit.  It was MUCH warmer that day, and I think that really helped the younger kids have a much funner time, since they weren't freezing, and didn't have to spend as much time in the hot tub, warming up!

We came back to the room for lunch, and then Bob loaded up the van.  Really, the late checkout is the way to go if you are only staying one night.  It made lunch and packing up so much less stressful.  It is a pain getting 11 people's clothes ready to change into, and divided up into boys' clothes and girls' clothes for the different changing rooms!  But we swam and had a great time the whole afternoon.  We spent a lot of time with Ann and Jasmine and Joshua, much to Grace and Faith's delight.  By the end of the time, Micah and Jasmine were getting along like a house afire as well, splashing around with each other.  They are just a few months apart in age.  It was so cute!
Drew was really, really tired in the afternoon, and eventually nothing really made him happy, not even adoring big brothers!  I wished he would have just fallen asleep on a lounge chair, like little Joshua did, but alas, he just fussed around.  Eventually I changed him and Micah (and got myself changed), and went up to the lobby, where we could still see through windows into the water park.  Christine McC was there, so we were able to have our time of prayer together and just chat for a bit, all the while trying to keep an eye on Drew who was trying his hardest to dash away.  It was so nice to get away from the constant noise of the waterpark, plus the humid warmth.  I had quite a headache by that point, I'm sure due in part to interrupted sleep!  I will say that the thought did cross my mind that if we hadn't had Micah and Drew, I could have just sat there for most of the time, since the other kids were all pretty self-sufficient, even Faith, LOL. No, Micah and Drew are totally worth it!  Just 4 more years, and THEN I'll be able to just sit and read!  :)
The other kids and Bob continued having a grand time going down all the slides and playing around.  Here are Nathan, Andres, Christi, and Ann after a successful run down the Howling Tornado!  But it was getting to be time to hit the road, so eventually people straggled up to the lobby where Christine and I were, as well as Wally.  We did our "Secret Santa" gift exchange with the McC's, which was fun as always, and then we even had this family picture taken!  How festive!
We left around 6:30, and got home about 9:00.  We unloaded everything, and then the boys all went to see the new Hobbit movie at the midnight showing.  Crazy!  Where do they get all their energy?!  Oh, to be young again.  Hats off to Craig McC who took them all and then dropped them off--and still was able to go to work today!  We so appreciate his sacrifice, because I know it was one!  I was glad to be sleeping in my own bed again.  No one woke up (and we slept right through the boys' coming home at 3:30).  It was wonderful! 

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