Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge

I wasn't really sure what I was getting us into when I booked our trip to Great Wolf Lodge a little over a month ago. I knew David would at least enjoy splashing around in the water, playing around other children, and taking in some of the kiddie-appropriate atmosphere promoted by this indoor theme park resort near Cincinnati, Ohio. I knew I was taking a risk, challenging his daily routines by changing his traditional nap times and sleeping arrangements, even in the name of fun. Risky, even for the most well-behaved toddler.

I had no idea this risk would be so worth it, that he would blossom in this little indoor waterworld of adventure. What an amazing place, and what an amazing experience.

The amount and variety of attractions was staggering. Various swimming pools, a wave pool with a tide as strong as the ocean, a tree house with various spouts & fountains, bubbling geysers, a lazy river, and a handful of water slides, some roller coaster-like in their thrill factor and proportion. All of this housed in a colossal atrium kept at a toasty 84 degrees. It has to be seen to be appreciated, but here is a taste. Keep in mind this is still just a fraction of the place.

When we first arrived, we warily explored the toddler area, a large wading pool shallow enough for David to explore it's entirety, all while wearing a lifejacket and gripping my hand, of course. We were splashed by various water features and fountains, surrounded by dozens of playing kids and their parents. It didn't take long for David to agree to brave one of the water slides. The first ones were small, but David reacted with glee, and wanted to do it again and again.

After a handful of trips down the itty-bitty slides in the toddler pool, we decided to explore some of the other sections of the park. David enjoyed playing in the lapping surf of the wave pool. We floated down the lazy river on inner tubes together, he laughed as we got squirted and dumped on more than once (I did not). We floated in the deeper pool, and climbed the gigantic treehouse. We stopped for a bite at a snack bar overlooking the lazy river, and he waved and said "hi" to the passersby as he ate a soft pretzel and drank his apple juice. Eventually we made our way back to where we started.

The best part, by far, was a pair of long, curved slides emptying into the toddler pool. Although the lifeguards told me they were the same on either side, one was clearly more challenging than the other, with a faster and more voluminous water flow. David went down the first one several times uneventfully, and Cory and I took turns catching him at the bottom while the other helped him make the long walk and stair climb to the top of the slide. Those slides are the green (slow) and blue (fast) ones in the center of this picture.

At one point when I was at the bottom, I looked up to see Cory launching him down the second slide. I had no opportunity or ability to protest, so I positioned myself at the bottom and watched him careen down, face first and down, to the bottom. I grabbed him and scooped him up, thinking to myself, "this is it, we're going to have to leave now", and expecting a terrified tot to dissolve in hysterics. Instead, he wiped his face, sputtered a bit, and pointed through squinting eyes to the steps, grinning all the while. He wanted to go again! Oh my, we have a daredevil on our hands.

And, lucky you, I risked the life and health of my treasured iPhone to capture a clip of him going down this very slide. Keep in mind, this was taken on the second day after he had become an expert on exactly how to maneuver himself. He was a fast learner.

That slide wasn't the only place where David demonstrated his good nature. More than once he was inadvertently dunked by his bumbling parents, and each time he recovered without complaint. He was squirted in the face multiple times, and laughed it off. Up in the treehouse, he played with some older girls where he was drenched with buckets and sprayed in the face with fountains over and over again, he was laughing so hard I though he'd fall over. He attempted to swim away from me more than once in the deeper pools, eager to explore on his own. I think swimming lessons might be in order for this boy.

Our trip wasn't just about the water, although that was the highlight. We enjoyed a nice dinner out together on Saturday night, where David flirted incessantly with a table of pre-teen girls that flirted right back (and their moms did, too). We eventually convinced him to wear the wolf ears that came with his meal, to the delight of everyone.

We also spent some quality family time lounging about our room waiting for the water park to open on Monday morning. We enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the hotel, where we attempted to teach David not to eat the rind of cantaloupe. Oh, and in this picture David is not posing for the camera or saying cheese as it appears that he is, he is looking out the window above the camera to check out a bus going by, lol.

The second day at the water park was a repeat of the first, except this time our little daredevil was more opinionated about what things he wanted to do. He begged, in his way, to try the giant watersides overhead, and no longer wanted any part of the slower rides and less exciting pools. The blue waterslide was the most daring one I was willing to let him try, so we had to do that about 40 times in a row. We played for a few hours, until the meltdowns outnumbered the happy moments. I'm sure lack of sleep in our communal room didn't help his mood much. 

By the end of our trip, although it lasted a mere 24 hours, we were all pretty whooped. But that's the price of fun, I guess. We will be going back to this place sometime soon, I'm sure.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My buffalo soldier

What do you get when you combine Bob Marley, a 23-month-old, breakfast fare, and bilateral winking?  An adorable video, of course!  Check this out, and try not to smile. I dare you. You might need to turn up the volume a bit for the full experience. Don't worry, you mustn't endure any narration by me, just a bit of snickering.

The poor child has been forced to listen to reggae since his birth, and it's finally catching on. We have long known he loves Three Little Birds, but this song is a new fave. Not one of my most preferred, but after hearing his performance, it tops my list. We sing "Ay-yai-yai-yai" every chance we get now.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our Perry County weekend

We took David to visit my parents in southern Indiana this weekend. It was good for him to have a change of scenery, good for all of us to break out of our routine a bit. With the colder weather and overcast skies, we did little more than relax and visit but that was wonderful anyway. Here are some highlights...

Catching up with Grandma Murdock. More than once he shook his head to my offers to hold him and held his arms up to her instead. I love how much David loves his Grandmas...

Visiting with Granddad, which included lots of tickling and goofiness. As a result, Granddad has earned rockstar status with David. Sorry, Grandma.

We did some outdoor exploring. Cory and Dad went out to the woods first to check on the sap buckets (making maple syrup is the latest project), and Mom and I took David out for a brief walk, stopping to throw some rocks in the lake. At first we had to plead with him to try it, but by the end we were both hanging on to his sleeves to prevent him from plunging in himself.

The grown-ups had some bonding time as well. In this picture below, we have two moms, two dads, two iPads, one iPhone, and one MacBook, all captured by another iPhone sneakily set on self-timer mode. Whatever brings people together, right? Thank you, Steve Jobs.

Cory and I had our turn to get some fresh air.

Kept David up late for some more visiting Saturday night.

On Sunday, the weather was much colder so we mostly relaxed inside after a delicious breakfast.

Headed home in the early afternoon, tired but glad we made the trip.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A little off the top.

David has had challenges in the hair department since shortly after he was born. Although he came out with a cute little mop top, things were kind of downhill from there.  His first crop of locks fell out in the most bizarre and hilarious pattern.  Remember?  That problem resolved, but then his hair just never really grew. Since those early days, it's been wispy, light, and sparse. And verrrry slowwww growing.

I thought it would be fun to say that he didn't get a haircut until he was over 2, but the weird Eddie Munster spike on his forehead, the scraggly locks dangling over his ears, and the overall Gene Keady combover look he's been sporting lately convinced me to bite the bullet before his birthday. For some reason, Cory decided that Wednesday was the day. So, off they went to Cookie Cutters, a haircut destination expressly for kids...

And here's the story.

At first, David apparently thought he was at the park by the looks of things. Slides, ladders... what fun!

After a bit of playtime, it was time for the bait and switch. David selected the train to sit on. Drumroll please. He went into turtle (or ostrich) mode, attempting to avoid the inevitable by blending in with his surroundings and remaining absolutely still.

Then the cape went on. As you can tell by the bizarre look on his face, a meltdown is about to occur.

Said meltdown.

Poor thing. That is pure terror.

A feeble attempt to stop the suffering was made by moving him to another chair, this one shaped like a car. The blue jalopy did not fool him, obviously. I think at that point they gave up. Cory put down the phone, the cape came off, and the cut was made with the appropriate restraint technique. The rest of the ordeal was not captured on film.

Cory says that after it was over, David ran past the playground, past his coat, and straight to the door, yelling "bye....bye....bye...." over and over again. He even shook his head when the girl asked him if he wanted a balloon.  Get me out of here!

Here is the final product. If you can see past the bitterness in his tear-stained little eyes, I think you'll find him pretty cute, too.

Good thing it will probably be another year until he needs his next one.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My helper in training

Since David has been old enough to sit up, I've been enlisting his help around the house. His first task was to sit at my feet as I unloaded the washer, putting the clothes one by one into the dryer.

Since then, he has explored sweeping, dusting, and putting away his own toys (ok, only some of the time). His skills hit the pinnacle on Sunday when after a trip to Target, he almost single-handedly put away a car full of groceries. I had no idea he knew where many of the items went. It was so much fun to watch, and I couldn't resist sharing it here.

I once thought that having a trained monkey would be pretty cool, but I think a trained toddler is even better. And sooooo much cuter. :)
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