Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The title suggests a wolf call. Sorry, the "ahhh-woooo" is the best I can come up with. So, now that you know the intent, back up and read it again, but this time with a little bit of yelling gusto that just barely touches on shrill.

Grady and I surprised the kids with a visit to the Great Wolf Lodge here in Charlotte. Monday morning we told them we had a surprise but wouldn't give any clues as to what it was. We nearly pulled the entire top-secret operation off until just before it was time to leave. My nosy five year old discovered a suitcase in our bedroom and promptly shuffled through it until he discovered his pajamas and bathing suit.


Grady Lee: "Mom! Are we going to a hotel?"
Me: "Well, Dad and I are going away for a night so we have a bag packed."
Grady Lee: "But I saw some of my stuff in there, too. Am I coming?"
Me: "You and Micah and Annalyse have a surprise this afternoon, and then later Dad and I are staying at a hotel and you're going to sleep at Miss Heather's house."
Grady Lee: "Oh. Well I can't wait to see what the surprise is!" And he bounded off and continued playing.

(Hi, my name is Sarah. I am able to look my child directly in the face and lie to him without flinching. In fact, I am able to lie so quickly and so easily I really ought to be face flat in confession, but instead, I'm rather proud of my quick wit.)

After our short drive we pulled up in front of the Great Wolf Lodge and listened to two boys excitedly howl ever so loud, and ever so shrill, and ever so annoying.

The boys were instantly mesmerized with the large animals and outdoorsy decor. Micah asked if we were "at a place to see animals that have been hunted?" I assured him that wasn't the case and that better things were in store.
Grady tried to check us in but our room wasn't ready yet so we took a walk around. Once the boys laid their eyes on this sight the rest was history. "This is so super cool!" "Did you bring my swim suit? Can I get wet right now?" "Is this the real surprise now? I think I'm more excited than even Christmas and my birthday!"
Since we didn't have suits handy we enjoyed some onsite attractions while we waited for our room. The kids colored and explored...
... and of course went nuts when they stumbled upon the hugest game room they've ever seen. "Mom!" yelled Grady Lee, "This place has way more lights and games than even Chuck E Cheese does!" It's true, he's sheltered. But, that made this experience even more fun for all of us.
Annalyse toddled in and on and over and through anything she could. Funny that when she saw this car she immediately knew to climb in, sit down, hold the wheel, turn it, and make "vroom, vroom" noises. Thank you, Grady Lee and Micah, for being such eloquent teachers to Annalyse for all things with wheels.
After a whirlwind of driving and shooting and throwing and dancing, Micah announced he was hungry. Grady found out our room was ready, but rather than get everything into our room, we opted to have dinner so that we could hit the water ASAP and make the most of the evening.
Not only did the kids get darling wolf ears, they also ate free. Micah was all about his pizza; Grady Lee was all about his hamburger; Annalyse was all about her wolf ears; Grady was all about the flat screens everywhere; and I was all about free. I'm always all about free.
This keeper of a photo is courtesy of Grady Lee's best efforts to keep our heads in the picture. He's a pro at taking pictures - of the ceiling, of midsections, but not usually of faces. This time he scored and held still long enough to actually get us in the picture. He was very proud, and as you can see, Annalyse was none too happy that her wolf ears were suddenly gone and on Daddy's head!
Whew! Finally time to get our suitcase and settle into our Majestic Bear Suite. The boys each enjoyed their own queen bed; Annalyse was relegated to the living room with her pack-n-play; and Grady and I had our own bedroom. The extra space was great for relaxing once the kids were in bed for the night!
And, here we are heading back down the hallway, en route to the water park! We wasted no time in putting suits on as fast as we could and made our way to the water. None of the "wait an hour after you eat until you swim" stuff for us. The really, really, really best part, though, was not lathering up in sunscreen and not battling with sand. Can I get an amen from a fellow mom who knows the "stand still and hold your arms out and close your eyes while I spray sunscreen on you" routine?
Goodness gracious - where to begin? So much to do and it all looked equally fun! Grady and I took a backseat and just followed the boys from place to place while they explored. The 84 degree room and water made getting wet all the more fun on a January day.
The large bucket on top slowly fills up and every 10ish minutes a bell begins to ding, signaling that it's about to spill. Kids come running from all directions to stand below and wait to get dumped on. At first, this was a terrifying place for the boys, but, after watching things unfold a couple of times they quickly realized it was a lot of fun and began to anticipate it.
Annalyse wanted no part in the torrential downpour of water and was more than happy to keep a safe distance and play in the small fountains. And, totally unrelated but oh-so-funny, I had three different people stop to say, "My! For being so little she certainly has a big tummy!" I could only agree and laugh because it's so true! All barely 20 pounds of her 16-month self and she is all belly. All belly to the point that it pulls at the neckline of her swim suit making it seem like a plunging neckline! (Ah, but I love that cute thing anyway.)
We all took turns sliding and cheering, with Micah exclaiming almost every time that "I was the fastest because I was counting and I did it in the best number!" I have no idea what he was saying, but in his mind it was clear as mud since he said it several times.
And, yes, there was a wave pool. The funnest of all fun. The bestest of the best. This is where my boys wanted to be the most. Grady Lee would probably still be there jumping and karate chopping each wave if we didn't insist he actually had to get in the van and come home with us. This was just as well, I suppose, because once Micah got the hang of timing his jumps this meant that Grady and I could sort of relax in the water and just watch.
As the clock neared 8:30pm, we decided to call it a night and promised the boys we would come back first thing in the morning. Annalyse, who is usually in bed by 6:30pm, was in good spirits but her eyes were quickly getting a glassy glaze and I knew that a massive melt-down could be imminent.
After drying off and donning our wolf ears, we sat around howling at the moon and enjoying a snack. We had fun together and I don't think our neighbors minded the loud howling too much.
This morning began with a wonderful breakfast buffet that was (drum roll please) free for all of us! The lodge provided a no-cost breakfast for our family due to having to wait so long before being able to check into our room yesterday afternoon. Breakfast out is one of my favorite meals, but I don't get it that often. Knowing that my breakfast was free made it even more enjoyable! I did mention that I'm all about free, right?

We were done with breakfast and ready to go before the water park was open so the boys enjoyed cartoons in bed while Annalyse got a short morning nap. Win.
These pictures are fuzzy and show nothing other than the kids and I exiting a raft, but I have to include them just as proof that I was, in fact, there. With three kids all wanting to go in different directions and usually with one on my hip grabbing for the camera, it made taking pictures just not worth the effort. (Melanie: Pray tell, how did you get such amazing pics of your family when you were there? And to think you did it while chasing five kids!)
The tube rides were super fun, especially when we enjoyed them yesterday evening in the dark. The tubes extend out of the building and loop and drop to make for a fun ride. Micah was a tad too short and had to ride with Dad, but made it clear "that the next time we come, I'll be tall enough to do everything by myself, okay?"
Let me divulge a proud mom moment, please. Most of the kids enjoying this log jump weren't using the ropes to help them across. Instead, they would run and see who could make it across the quickest and without falling in. But, my tough-stuff, stand-on-his-own-two-feet, and not think about what others are saying, Grady Lee, took his sweet time crossing the logs.

His tongue was out between his teeth in deep concentration. His little arm muscles were in full flex. He refused any help from Dad. And he ignored laughs and comments from the big kids in line behind him. Over and over he wanted to do this and each time he was his own little man.

It's these super simple moments that give me a small sigh of contentment because even though he has a range of social issues, he seemingly isn't one to worry about what others are saying or doing. And this at-times-overwhelmed-with-that-child mom needs all the simple moments of delight I can find!
Micah gave his best efforts, too, and Grady and Annalyse cheered him on from the other side.
By 2:00 this afternoon we called it a wrap and said good-bye to "the place that is even more fun that Christmas and my birthday!"

My kids have been fast asleep since 7:00pm since swimming and splashing had them totally wiped out, and I'm sitting here typing through a slight fog that I think is due to chlorine overload in my eyes. No Majestic Bear Suite tonight, but it's always good to come home to my own bed.


  1. What an awesome time you had! It looks like so much fun, although I admit I loved the no sunscreen part...and the free meals!

  2. What a great time!! - We have this on our short list of things to do soooon!

  3. Aaahhhh-woooo! SO glad that you guys had SUCH a fun get-away to the place that is better than Christmas & birthdays! I'm smiling reading this post because it really is such a fun place!! We are itching to go back & this makes me even more ready to book a trip! (Did you use the recent groupon/living social deal? I missed out on purchasing it, grrr!) Anyway, I totally agree, the no-sunscreen & no sand is beyond awesome! It cuts the "time-to-get-ready-to-swim" time by at least half if not more!
    As for the photos, the bigger kids were able to do a buddy system & I would follow them around with the camera for a little while taking lots of photos while Jeff was in the water with them...last time Lucy was still in that non-mobile, sleep wherever little baby phase, so it was easier...I am sure when we go back it wil be a wee bit more challenging! I actually think it would be a great place to plan a group get-away...so that we all could help each other watch the kids!!

  4. Lol...seriously...y'all are the cutest family ever! Even down to the little wolf howls! I love the picture of the boys making their little ahhwooo faces!
    And little Miss Annaylse...all belly is the way to be! She is so stinkin cute in her sweet little swim suit!
    So glad you guys could go away and enjoy some family time! Hopefully, someday we'll be able to enjoy this non-sand, non-sunscreen water wonderland!

  5. HOW FUN!!! We really want to go too, and after reading your post...I want to go even more!!! Looks like y'all had a GREAT time! What a wonderful place to play and hang out as a family!