What to do at Home on this Cold, Cold Day

Looking for some ideas of ways to keep your kiddos entertained during the polar vortex?

zg7uvsxstai7fy0acd7tyg.jpg

We’re going to be doing a few of these today……and tomorrow……

  • Do a scavenger hunt indoors.
  • Make hot cocoa. Add marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles to make it extra fancy.
  • Bake something!
  • Color in a coloring book.
  • Have a picnic inside.
  • Make a blanket fort.
  • Make a painting – water color or finger paints are both fun!
  • Read, read, and read some more.
  • Write a story.
  • Play board games.
  • Watch movies.
  • Listen to music.
  • Have a dance party!
  • Write a letter to a relative or friend.
  • Play hide-n-seek.
  • Read some more.
  • Have a “camp out” in the living room.
  • Make a big pot of soup.

zxq537szsdqdaskw10na+q

This pile of boxes has already become a house, a fort, a boat, another kind of boat, and a store. Who knows what it’ll become later today….and tomorrow.

Right now, the girls are resting and reading books in bed. As soon as they get up, I think we’ll do some baking.

Have you done any of these activities today?

 

Get Those Kids out of the House

Winter can be tough. It’s cold. It’s icy. There’s snow, or my least favorite, freezing rain! (Gross. I hate freezing rain.) And it can be tough when the kids need to burn off some energy but you can’t really get outside. (Ugh! Freezing rain!).

Through several winters, we have developed our own list of things to do when the weather is not cooperating. All of these are great whenever you need something to do but the weather isn’t great and that happens during every season in Illinois. However, I think that these are especially great in the winter when you can’t get outside as often as you might like.

Free museum days!

img_1034

I’ve posted about managing the free museum days before. You can read that here. Many of the Chicago-area museums have free admission days during the winter months, especially after the holidays have passed. Adler, MSI, Field, and Shedd offer lots of opportunities to explore and get outside and if you can do it without having to pay admission, well, that’s even better. The Chicago Children’s Museum has free admission for kids the first Sunday of every month. The Art Institute has free admission for kids every day.

Go to the mall

Several malls have great indoor play areas. Yes, these can get pretty busy during peak hours so if possible, aim for lunch time or early afternoon to run around in the play areas to avoid some of the crowds. Also, be aware of cleaning times. Some play areas actually shut down for a half hour or hour every day so they can be cleaned. But, really, wouldn’t you rather the play areas are clean?

Bouncy houses, bouncy houses, and more bouncy houses

There are many businesses that make their money by being an indoor bouncy house extravaganza. We have gone to Funflatables several times for birthday parties or just to let the girls burn off some energy. It’s a fairly decent price, especially considering that location is an all-day fee. Go before lunch. Jump around. Leave and get some food. Come back and jump around some more.

Read a book….somewhere else

True, your kiddos aren’t going to burn off a lot of energy reading a book. And, yes, reading is something that you can (and should) do at home, too. But, there is something fun about reading a book that you don’t have at home. Or, reading a book in a different space from where you normally read. Head to your library. Go to a bookstore. Libraries and many bookstores often have storytime programs or crafting projects that will get your kids’ creativity going.

img_0549

Find an indoor tropical oasis!

Is there a botanic garden near you? Or a greenhouse that stays open year round? These are great places to visit during the winter. They stay nice and warm year round and it’s nice to see plants that are actually growing, not dormant and covered in inches of snow. One of our favorites is the Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s like a topical getaway!

img_0890

 

Where do you like to go to get the kids out of the house during the winter months?

 

 

2019 Goals

I always try to start the year with goals but in the past they’ve kind of been all over the place. This year, I’m trying to do something different.

My goal for the year? Self-care.

This means many things to me. I’ll say no when I have to and try (try) not to feel guilty about it. I want to read more. I want/need to drink more water. I’m going to get more running miles in.

The good thing about this all-encompassing goal is that I know that I can do it. Sure, there will be days when I haven’t had enough water. I know that there will be days when I don’t get any miles in on the treadmill or outside. But, tomorrow is a new day! As long as I’m always working toward that goal – I’m succeeding!

What are your goals for 2019?

Great Wolf Lodge – A Great Family Lodge!

OK. It’s been several, several weeks since we had our trip to Great Wolf Lodge but I keep seeing Groupon deals for stays at the Wisconsin Dells location and the newer Gurnee, IL location.

So, I figured I might as well finally write up that blog post that I’ve been delaying.


The Decor

The decor, at least at the Wisconsin Dells location, has a very strong log cabin feel. The exterior looks like a giant log cabin. The lobby has antler lighting and animals throughout. Lots of antlers. Lots of animals.

IMG_2634

IMG_2635


The Room

Our room was really nice and was able to hold a lot of people. The room had a lofted space with a second bedroom which is really great if you have a large group staying with you. Remember, everyone staying in the room has access to the hotel’s amenities (water parks!!). Downside, the loft had a sink but no true bathroom so if you have a lot of people staying with you, there will probably be a line for the bathroom at some point. Other downside, the loft was significantly warmer than the downstairs space but the entire room was controlled with one thermostat. So, the downstairs space was usually fairly cold so that the upstairs was an ok temp.

There was a fireplace in the downstairs space. We didn’t use it but would be super fun and cozy during the fall or winter. The couch also folds out into a bed. Again, you can fit a lot of people in this room.


The Food

We actually ate most of our meals out and about in the Wisconsin Dells area. However, we began each morning with breakfast at the hotel. We had an option to do a family style breakfast each morning. It was delicious and all-you-can-eat. The options for the menu didn’t change (there is a different menu that you can order from if you don’t do the family style all-you-can-eat option), but it was all very family friendly. And whatever you wanted more of, well, they would bring for you. We ate so many cinnamon rolls…..

We did eat dinner in the restaurant one night while we were there. There was also an ice cream shop with some snacks. And there are snack shops in the water park section. You can also order a pizza and have it delivered to you in the water park.


Stuff to Do – Outside of the Water Park

The water park sections are, of course, the main attraction at the hotel. But there are a lot of other activities to do throughout the day. There are lots of craft activities throughout the day. Be sure to check the board in the lobby for times.

IMG_2742

We did the “Jammie Jamboree” which was pretty fun. We also did a “Storytime” with a meet-and-greet with a character. It was funny to see how excited the kids were to see the character from the “Great Wolf Lodge Story”.

IMG_2637 (1)

We also did the “Great Clocktower Show” which, well, I thought was pretty weird but the kids loved. Warning: The song from this show will get stuck in your head. Seriously.

The activities in the lobby area might be different from day to day so be sure to check the schedule. There were also craft activities in the lobby (these cost a fee.) One of our favorite hotel activities is to hit up the arcade. We did that on our last day at the hotel.

IMG_2815


The Water Park – The Main Attraction

There are several different sections with something for everyone (well, everyone who likes water parks.) There are big slides, small slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and several splash pad sections. We spent most of our time in the splash pad areas. And, over the course of our trip, big girl got more and more brave and went on more and more water slides.

For your peace of mind, life jackets are available to borrow for free. You can also bring one, if you like.

Every person staying in the hotel room has access to the water park each day of your stay. So, plan on getting a locker and leaving most of your luggage in the car while you start your day in the water park while waiting for your hotel room to be ready for check-in. And do the same on your last day! Load up the car, bring a backpack with the necessities and spend some more time in the water after you check out of your room.


The Dells

If you stay at the Wisconsin Dells location, there are lots of activities away from the hotel that you can try. The Dells is packed with super-touristy and not-so-super-touristy activities.

We went on a beautiful hike.

IMG_2654

We explored some of the riverwalk area.

IMG_2686

We also checked out one of the most touristy activities: Tommy Bartlett Show! We had the option to purchase tickets to many of the most classic Dells activities by visiting the concierge in the hotel lobby.

IMG_2690


Honestly, we had a blast. As soon as we left, the girls were already planning our next trip. And since the water park section is indoors (there is a section outdoors, as well) this can be a great family trip year-round.

We will be back!

A Weekend at Mimi and Pa’s House

Usually, when we have a weekend at Mimi and Pa’s house (my hometown) we don’t have too much planned. This summer, however, we had an epic weekend because it was the weekend of my 20th high school reunion (20 years?!?!?!?!?) and it was also the weekend of the county fair.

So……..we did a lot. 🙂

Ryan and I went to my high school reunion.

IMG_3333

The next day, as a family, we went to the county fair. We went to the demolition derby (one of my favorite fair memories), ate some fried food, and rode some rides.

IMG_3378

IMG_3437

IMG_3394

We ended our trip with a trip to the playground, lunch at Cracker Barrel, and my mom and I went to swim aerobics (p.s. I want to find a place with year-round swim aerobics! So fun!!!).

The list thus far:

 

 

 

The Simple Joy of the Train at the Mall

We go to the mall frequently. We have two malls near us and they both offer different stores and restaurants. But, both malls are also really good about offering different activities that are available to members of the community (outdoor movies, musical performances, etc.).

Some of our girls’ favorite activities are riding the rides at the mall. Do you have a train ride at your mall? Our mall offers free rides on the train on Tuesdays for Toot-Toot-Tuesdays. (Although it’s not very expensive to ride any day of the week.)

IMG_3463IMG_3464

Our summer list thus far:

Movie Time

We usually see several movies throughout the summer. We see movies outside. We see movies in the theaters.

So far, we have seen Incredibles 2 while on our camping trip.

IMG_1131

And we recently saw the new Hotel Transylvania.

IMG_2444

I am looking forward to seeing Christopher Robin in a week!

What movies have you seen this summer? What movies are you looking forward to seeing?

 

Seeing movies is always an item on our summer bucket list.

Our list thus far: