Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The last days of summer vacation

With the start of school on Thursday, I was bound and determined to show my girls a good time before summer vacation ends, but still trying to get well and catch up on some things, but really, really trying to have fun.

So if you don't feel well then you should try grooming your dogs!

While trying to recover, I have been reading books for book club and both have shown fantastic views of foreign cultures and countries. Before I had kids I loved to travel and would love to share that with my girls. I resolved to re-organize our spending so we could spend on better things. I've switched getting our hair cut to the Aveda Institute, which is really a beauty school, but when you put the name Aveda on it, it makes that $15 haircut seem better, right? So why was I spending $75 on getting our dogs' hair cut??? Surely we could do it for less.

I contacted someone who told me about her experiences and what clippers to buy and ignored all her advice and bought a set of human hair clippers at Costco for cheap. Then I proceed to clip their hair in my bathroom, in my pajamas, while running a fever, and both girls as assistants, Grace with scissors and Annabel as the dog whisperer, keeping everyone calm. This is when you need a video camera going so you can earn millions on America's Funniest Videos! Our dogs are small, Nina is 8 pounds and Ollie is 18 pounds, both have a variety of breeds which all have long hair! While vacuuming up the hair, I had to stop and empty the filter twice! Neither are show dogs, so I think they will survive! We learned lots and ready for the next try!

While I was on a roll saving money I also went through all my bills. The amount for just a basic cable package has jumped to almost $80 with nothing special so spurred on my quest to reallocate our money, I call to find out how I can make some adjustments, saving my threat to change carriers as my Ace. I got an extremely apathetic service rep who immediately cancelled all our cable, although I had asked for basic. I hate dealing with these companies especially because I expect I will have problems and have to call back and of course they have not let me down yet! I checked out all the channels we have now, all 60 of them and great to know that NONE of the Nick or Disney channels were affected, just all the ones I like to watch!

While on hold for the cable company to get it reconnected, I made the mistake of checking my work email which contained notification of a HUGE issue with a project I have been responsible for. Why oh why do I do that to myself??

The plan for Tuesday was to attend a funeral for a dear sweet lady from church who has been kind and generous to my girls as well as so many others. With the weight of work problems on my mind, I slept very little and sent my girls with my parents to try to gear up for our BIG plans to end the summer.

Our first stop was the school to drop off the immunization records, which showed they got all their shots in November of last year (for once I got something done early!) and pick up the schedules for the school year. Immediately Annabel began to fret when she saw that she was registered for Spanish. She kept asking how was she expected to learn 4 languages???? It took me a while to figure this out, but the second semester they do Latin, so her 4 include English, Spanish, Latin, and Chinese! I thought that was funny but knew she was distressed. Oh no, our attempt at fun was starting on a sour note.

We were very fortunate and the recipient of a nice gift of a night at Great Wolf Lodge. I have looked at this online for months, sure that it looked like THE best vacation and tried repeatedly to schedule a visit when I could be sure that Gillian and Darcey could be here. But our time was running out and the free night ended on August 15, so we had to go!!!

If you have never heard of Great Wolf Lodge, here is a link, http://www.greatwolf.com/grapevine/waterpark so you can see how much fun you have been missing!

Whoever developed this concept is a genius as they did not miss anything. It is so kid friendly and the best service I have ever experienced. I can't say enough good about it yet if you run, don't walk the other way! I can't imagine going through if you did not have kids, but saw an amazing number of older adults, people on crutches, walkers, who seemed to be in for the fun of it!

You can purchase any number of packages to supplement your fun. These include meals and entertainment packages. Since the room was paid for and this was our BIG trip, I decided to spring for the meals, rather than eat at their fast food places they have there, but drew the line at only one of the entertainment packages. Besides, I had saved on dog grooming and cable!

If you ever go, the Family Suite is the lowest priced and plenty nice! So save the money on the better room, as you never go there until you are so exhausted you collapse and don't care!

They let us check in early, we made it up to the room, changed into swimsuits and headed to the world famous indoor water park, which is this HUGE enclosed area that is so FULL of children of all ages, screaming and hollering and whooping it up, and parents trying to keep up with them who are also screaming and hollering and water is EVERYWHERE!

We did a quick scan, chose the longest line possible to stand in for the scariest ride they have to get things started. The problem with rides that depend on water is they have to start from tall place, which requires LOTS of stairs that are wet and loaded with lots of kids and parents trying to keep up with their kids.

The ride lasts maybe 30 seconds, the whole time you are seeing your life flash before your eyes, and holding on for dear life hoping that won't throw up! Then you hurry up and get back in line for more!!!

We tried out almost all of them and I have to say another thing that impressed me was the high number of lifeguards. There seemed little risk and I was sure if I could get to sit in the outside warmth for just a little while I might be able to get well so the girls ran to stand in more lines and I took some quiet time by the outdoor pool.

We finally took a break, late, and had dinner. I had paid the extra for the buffet and I would have thought that much water and stair climbing would have made my girls famished, but each ate the smallest servings I have ever seen them eat, and it was an all you can eat! I took back the breakfast buffet pass after that!

We had our Paw Pass, which was the entertainment package, and between Annabel and me, we had claimed what we wanted off the pass, leaving Grace with the rest.

The package included 20 tokens in the arcade, which is where we started. Annabel called it a carnival and kept wanting to go back there. I don't even know what to say about this as it was shocking. Kids standing at some of these "games" trying to win as many tickets as they could to turn in for cheap little prizes. I watched as one kid "fed" the machine tokens as fast as he could! I asked him how  many he had just spent. $10 worth of tokens! All for a chance to win a plastic blow up guitar! One of the employees said it was like a mini casino for kids. My kids were disappointed that I would not spring for more tokens, but after seeing the spectacle of the others, I just wanted out of there. They each ended up with 100 tickets, which qualified them for such great things as a ring pop, a 2" pillow that said Princess or something as astute (yes that is inches), a variety of pencils, candy, and other treasures. Annabel decided pretty quickly, but for Grace, she faced it as if the decision would determine her entire future.

Another part of the entertainment package was for a stuffed animal that you make, sort of a very down scale version of Build a Bear. Annabel really wanted this and Grace thinks she has plenty of stuffed animals. The choice of animals was small but after a LOT of thought, Annabel decided she needed the night to decide! So she decided to get the tattoo part of the package instead. The glittery, I heart dogs was perfect!

The other big part of the package was the Magic Quest game, which includes one magic wand and a quest to try to advance through a series of levels, which requires that you can actually read the instruction book, decipher it, climb up and down stairs while trying to meet the requirements in the correct order so you can proceed. And believe it or not, there are a MILLION children of all sizes running up and down the halls and stairwells too trying to solve the same problems followed by parents of all sizes wishing the game had never been invented!

I'm pretty sure the girls were asleep before their heads hit the pillow!

Today we finished up with lots more water park fun, a stuffed animal, more tromping up and down stairs to try to reach the next level in the Magic Quest game, and overall had a great time!

Lights were out early tonight. School starts tomorrow!

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