Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Our First Trip to Great Wolf Lodge

Dear Em,
Remember how in my last post I talked about hitting a wall in the month of March? After all the snow & the sicknesses, we needed something fun to break up the generally cold & gray days. We had heard a lot about the newish Great Wolf Lodge, a hotel with an indoor water park. We decided Miserable March 2015 gave us the perfect excuse to try it out.

We didn't tell you that we were going. We just told you we were going on an adventure when we packed you in the car. You were happy to play along. You didn't have too long to wait. Great Wolf Lodge is probably only an hour and a half from our house. When we pulled into the parking lot, pictures of water park fun hung from the lamp posts. Your eyes grew big with excitement.

It was pretty clear that we weren't the only family that needed something to break up the winter. The lodge was  packed. I don't think it's ever taken me so long to check into a hotel. Luckily, the hotel is so kid-friendly, there is almost always something going on in the lobby. There were activities like coloring & face painting & balloon animal making & story time & dance parties. You sat right down & colored a picture while we waited to check in.

After check-in, we dropped our things off in our room, changed, & went straight to the water slides. We spent most of the the next two days there. There were two large rooms with water slides, pools (including one wave pool), playgrounds, a lazy river, & a hot tub. You couldn't have been more thrilled. You wanted to try it all, & we mostly did (there were some height restrictions, but you were able to do most of the activities).

They had an amazing playground, with water dumping & shooting out everywhere.

We took a trip around the lazy river. 

You are my adorable, little daredevil. You LOVED the water slides. You screamed & squealed & smiled from ear to ear as we plunged down every slide you were tall enough to go on. You shouted "Again!" each & every time we reached the bottom.

Not wanting to interrupt your fun, we grabbed dinner from a snack bar in one of the water park rooms. It was typical, simple snack bar food. Daddy & I also had a couple adult beverages. Then we went back to the water slides until Daddy & I were exhausted & I was shivering cold. We ended our first day of water fun in the hot tub. The indoor/outdoor hot tub was one of your very favorite spots.

Next we changed into comfy clothes & checked out the ropes course. There was a small course for the littles & a course much higher up that kids & adults tried. You loved the kids course. Excited to tackle an even bigger challenge, we all suited up to try the higher course. Unfortunately, we didn't make it very far. The higher course was much wobblier than the kids course. You were terrified, & wanted to get back down on solid ground.

Daddy & I didn't mind, we were tired. We headed back to our room & put our PJs on. We were just in time to head down to the lobby for story time. It was so cute sitting on the floor with a ton of other families & watching you enjoy that night's story. We headed back up to our room, exhausted & happy to call it a night.

By breakfast the next morning, we were ready for some real food. We headed to the main dining restaurant. There was a wait, but we passed the time checking out the gift shops & hanging out by the warm fire.

Your favorite meal of the day is breakfast, & the Great Wolf Lodge breakfast buffet sure hit the spot. You had french toast & waffles & bacon & fruit & orange juice.

We went back to the ropes course, hoping you would feel a little braver about the large course. You were more adamant than ever about staying much closer to the ground. I was bummed that Daddy & I wouldn't be able to do the large ropes course with you, but got over it when we started a game of giant checkers. You & I were on one team & Daddy was on the other. We kicked his butt during what was probably my favorite family moment on our little trip.

We got back into our bathing suits & packed up our room before heading back to the water slides for a couple more hours. We tried to fit in each & every water experience at least one more time, spending most of our time on the water slides & in the wave pool.

When it came time to say goodbye, you were not ready, but I could tell we were all a little tired. I wasn't at all surprised when I looked back & saw you sleeping during our car ride home.

Our getaway was brief, & it didn't stop the winter March weather, but it hit the spot for our little family. I truly enjoyed the time we got to share together together & seeing your little face light up throughout the trip. I have a suspicious feeling this won't be our last Great Wolf Lodge winter trip.

I love you so,

Monday, March 30, 2015

Please, Let There Be Sun

Dear Em,
It's funny. As I look back at my posts, I realize that the month of March is about the time I typically hit a wall. I try to enjoy winter. I really do. I enjoy the beauty of the fallen snow. I take you outside to play in the winter wonderland. We snuggle up inside with blankets.

By March, I'm over it. The time of enjoying winter has passed, & I just need some freaking sunshine. This year has been worse than most. We're supposed to be well into Spring already, but it snowed again this weekend. It didn't snow a lot, but it was enough to make me want to scream at the sight of more snow covering the ground. I glared at the snow on Sunday morning. The white quietness of our backyard should have dazzled me. Instead, I felt like the snow was mocking me, refusing to make way for my favored warmer seasons. I couldn't help but feel frustrated & defeated.

But then the sun came out. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a warm, sunny day. It was cold outside, like hats & coats & gloves cold outside. Except this brilliant beam of sunshine shone through our front door. I sat there, in our entryway, face upturned to the sunshine. You looked at me quizzically, thinking the floor of our entryway a strange place for me to sit. You joined me anyway, bringing with you the Ramona book we've been reading together. We sat there on the floor of the entryway reading & letting the sun warm & energize our bodies.

The ground may have still been covered in snow, but in that moment I had everything I needed. There will be life after winter. We can do this.

I love you so,

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Favorite Way to Start the Work Week

Dear Em,
Happy Monday! In defiance of the winter blues (technically it's Spring, but there's still snow on the ground), we've started to put music on while we get ready in the morning. In our house, when music is on there is probably a little bit of dancing going on too. I am probably one of the world's worst dancers, but you don't mind. We dance ourselves silly. It's hilarious & it's amazing.

It's probably my very favorite way to start the work week.

I love you so,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Breaking Through the Negativity

Dear Em,
The last couple weeks have been tough...really, really tough. There was a lot of snow.

There was a lot of sickness. You were hit with a cruel double whammy of germs, starting with a stomach bug & then, almost immediately afterwards, strep.

We tried to make the best of Daddy's birthday week, but none of us were feeling very festive (in fact, you were sobbing as we made Daddy's birthday cake). Our fun & amazing daughter had turned into a moody, purple minion. Everything with you had become a battle, & I'm not proud of the ways that I reacted.

I'm going to blame it all on winter. Winter totally won. I raised our white flag.

I sobbed on the phone with your Nonnie. I couldn't help but feel like I wasn't anything more than an utter failure. I was surely failing you. I didn't know what to do, but what we were doing was not working in our home. When you think of our home, I want you to think of love above everything else. Instead, there had been a lot of yelling & defiance & tantrums & snippy comments & emotional breakdowns. You & I have had frequent battles of wills...except no one was winning. We had been focusing on the negatives for so long that I was having a hard time finding any positives.

Daddy & I talked about how things had been going. We weren't really sure what we needed to do about it (are any parents ever sure?), but we did know that if we expected you to be better, it needed to start with Daddy & I being better. We needed to change our own attitudes, & we needed to turn our focus back on the positives. We needed to put down our phones & turn off the TV & make family time a bigger priority. We needed to give you more positive encouragement, but we also needed to stop letting bad attitudes & frequent whining slide.

So, we spent this weekend as a family. We had a lot, A LOT, of talks about how to be good to each other & to our teachers & our friends. We reset boundaries & we recreated rewards. We reevaluated the way we talk & interact with each other. I wouldn't say after one weekend everything is sunshine & rainbows, but we're working on it. We're not giving up on each other, & I think that is what is important.

Of course it helps that the sun came out this weekend. The forecast predicted rain all weekend, & I was surprised when I saw bright rays of sunshine filling our backyard. We decided to bundle up & take an impromptu trip to the Charlestown Beach. My heart filled with so much happiness as we walked onto the beach together. The sun was doing it's best to break through the clouds, creating the most brilliant colors in the big ocean waves. It reminded me of our little family of three & the way we're doing our best to break through the negativity & find beauty in each other again.

You ran, filled with joy. "There's no snow on this beach! There's no snow!" We walked down the beach, collecting rocks & shells.

You & I felt brave with our rain boots on. We ran towards the ocean to splash our feet at the edges of the water.

A huge wave crashed on the beach & sent water over the protection of our rain boots & soaked our feet. It was freezing, & on a day last week it would have brought you to tears...ending our adventure. I watched you quiver, on the verge of crying, but then remember all of the things we had talked about this weekend. I watched you decide not to fall apart.

Hand in hand we ran back to the car, took off your rain boots, & turned on the heat. Unwilling to let our adventure end so quickly, we decided to head to George's for clamcakes & chowder. We had to take your wet socks off, & I was proud of you for walking happily into the restaurant with bare feet in your rain boots.

We ate clamcakes & chowder & played tic-tac-toe over & over again. You were an excellent sport, happy to celebrate whoever won each round.

We peeked at the beach as we were leaving George's, & Daddy noticed that the Block Island Ferry was coming in just past the jetty. We climbed the rocks of the jetty a little ways before picking a spot to sit & wait for the Block Island Ferry to pass by, just like Daddy did with his family when he was younger. We waved to the ferry as it passed us by, & you were thrilled to receive a wave from a ferry boat passenger in return.

We headed home after that, content with our impromptu adventure. My heart was so full knowing that even though there may be times that we lose ourselves, together we can always find our way back. Thanks for sticking by Daddy & I & helping us to find our way back. Thanks for loving us, even with all of our parenting imperfections. Thanks for helping us to fill our home with love & beauty. Thanks for choosing to break through the negativity with us.

I love you so,

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Brian/Daddy

Dear Brian/Daddy,
Happy Birthday to our best friend. You've stolen our hearts, & we're so glad you did. You are the most amazing husband & father. You are also our comedian, our dance partner, our chef, our cheerleader, & our greatest comforter. You keep us laughing & smiling. You feed us breakfast in bed. You make ordinary life a great adventure. Thanks for loving us & supporting us like no one else could.

We love you, & we hope you have the best birthday ever (even if our house was rocked by a stomach bug...we promise to make your special day...well...special).

Love Always,
Julie & Em
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