On Friday, when James and I picked Annabel up at school I told her we were heading to see her doctor. She didn’t notice the two small suitcases I had tucked in the back of the car. On our drive, she listed all the things she wanted to talk to Dr. Looove about. In fact, she was so chatty that she didn’t notice when we drove right past a bunch of water slides and turned into a parking structure right next to a hotel with giant wooden wolves out front. As we drove through the structure, she said, “This looks a little different…but they’re always changing stuff here.” Hahahaha. She and James only realized something was up when the got out of the car and I pulled the suitcases out of the back.

The surprise was that we were at Great Wolf Lodge, a place that neither of them had ever heard of (the one in LA only opened about 6 months ago). They were confused but excited when they each received a pair of wolf ears:

We're at Great Wolf Lodge, surprise!

And absolutely thrilled when we got to our room and saw that it had….bunk beds!

hanging in the kid cave

While we waited for Mike to arrive after work, we explored the hotel. It was then that Annie and James realized they weren’t just in a hotel, they were in a kid paradise. Mike called it “Kid Vegas,” which felt very accurate. On the bottom floor/basement of the hotel there is a huge area that has all sorts of ridiculously fun activities, like a build-a-bear-style shop, 10-pin bowling, a kid spa, an ice cream shop, mini-golf, and a giant arcade that is open 24 hours. And there are no windows! After playing down there for a while, Annabel remarked, “I have no idea what time it is!!” That’s the idea, kid.

The hotel had other cute things, like a pajama party storytime at night:

story time

They were very excited to meet the hotel’s mascot, too:

meeting Wiley

The main attraction of the hotel is a giant indoor water park, which we miraculously managed to keep the kids from seeing until the following morning. James has been obsessed with watching water slide videos on YouTube Kids for the last few weeks, and the absolute JOY on his face as he went down water slides was worth every single penny. I have never seen a kid that happy, ever. He went on every single water slide he was tall enough to go on, multiple times, and his shrieks of happiness never got old. Everyone who watched him on a slide was dying over how happy he was.

James’ fearlessness also pushed Annie into going on slides that she might have avoided in the past. She went on a couple really tall water slides with Mike and me. The one I took her on was probably a little too scary (the Howlin’ Tornado)…her face went from excited to terrified in .02 seconds. When we got off she said, “That made my brain EXPLODE.” Not in a good way, I guess. Mike took her on a more traditional (but still high) raft waterside. After a few false starts, she got up the courage to go with Mike and was glad she did.

Since it was the first weekend of October, the hotel also had a bunch of Halloween stuff going on. I’d brought along a couple oldies-but-goodies for the kids:

super kids

They got to trick-or-treat around the hotel, and then go to a big dance party in the lobby. James lasted longer at the dance party than Annabel! Mike had to carry him out of there, crying. The kid is a dancing machine.

bubble party
Before the dancing started.

But my absolute favorite part of the weekend was when I took Annie to the kid spa for a pedicure, and she became so relaxed that she literally fell asleep:

asleep
(She thinks this is the funniest picture ever)

It’s no surprise that the kids had an amazing time at the place (James sobbed when we left), but Mike and I actually had a lot of fun, too. Yes, it was exhausting, but it was also nice to not have to plan any activities for the kids. We’ve been so busy lately that it was really wonderful to have a weekend away just the four of us, with no distractions. Things should be slowing down for us now (as much as they slow down at this time of year), so I’m looking forward to a lot more stress-free family time…even if it’s just at home and not at a water park (sorry, James)!