5 Steps to Entertaining Kids on a Road Trip

How do you do it?

No seriously. HOW do you do it?!?!

I am a planner, so before we head out anywhere, I’ve got a trunk full of supplies that we might need if someone spills something, pees something, gets cold, gets A cold, is hungry, bored, and so forth. Even with that extra tonnage in my poor little trunk, a Mom’s plan doesn’t always stick. #rude. Also, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT (I repeat, NOT) one of those lovely patient Mom’s who walks into a situation like this looking like it’s a breeze. I’m worked up and constantly telling myself it’s not ok to jump out of a moving vehicle when things get crazy.

So here’s the trick, in my opinion of course:

1. I really feel like kids don’t need a lot of STUFF, but COLOURING can keep them busy forever. Crayola seems to be my new best friend these days because you can print off a thousand colouring pages from their website and continue passing them into the back seat. (A THOUSANDDDD? Really…Ok, I’m dramatic, but let’s not forget that I’m TRAVELLING WITH KIDS FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!)

2. Snacks!! Yes, I know, my trunk is already filled with my trusty cooler in tow, but there is more fun to be had than just eating snacks. It takes a little bit of imagination and time, but it’s worth it for the 17 minutes of sanity you get in the car. Pack a a sandwich container (also used to display the little snack men and women) with edible items that can be put together to make a person. We’ve used a few straight pretzels, large and small marshmallows, licorice strings, Cheerios, berries, chocolate chips (those never seem to last), berries, shredded coconut and popcorn. I will not lie to you…I have no plan for these items, and there are often other randoms thrown in, but it’s the imagination part that is so entertaining for them.

3. Seat back DVD players. I’m no Saint. Mama needs some quiet time.

4. Depending on the length of the trip, wrap different toys they already own with newspaper (do those still exist?) Each hour they get to open a new package that will excite them for another 6 minutes until you’re yelling that they need to “FIGURE IT OUT” for another 54 minutes. It’s like that age old trick where you tell them to clean their room and they spend the entire time playing with toys they found. #winning

5. Pool Noodles. No, this isn’t a joke. You’ll likely have to cut them into thirds, and your kids need to be good sports about it, but these soft little swords can make for endless entertainment. First – hit each other with them. Then, when everyone is crying, pull out the pipecleaners and turn it into another craft. There is no doubt in my mind that your car will be an absolute disaster when you arrive at your destination but guess what….

Everyone arrives alive.

If you’ve got some brilliant ideas of your own, do not hoard them like you do with chocolate or wine. This is about sharing and we want to hear it! Send to diaryofdates@gmail.com

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Great Wolf Lodge

I LOVE spontaneous dates. Love them. It was 3pm on Sunday afternoon, and we were all lounging around the living room after a tantrum, a walk, and some lunch, and I looked over to my husband and said “If I were to plan a surprise for the family, would you be in for it?”  He, likely assuming I meant for another day, said yes…

12 minutes later, we were booked for a night at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, and I was herding cats to get ready to leave the house within the next 20 minutes. Now, if your Mother comes running upstairs and yells “I don’t have time to explain!! Grab your costumes, a bathing suit and your toothbrush” you just do it. I wish I could have captured their faces as I yelled it. Confusion mixed with pure fear.

Note to self: yell more, I really get stuff done.

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We usually can’t get further than 7 minutes in the car without being asked “Are we there yet?” so this hour drive was interesting. Thankfully, Nova knew we were off for some fun, and Luna goes with the flow. Every second of our experience with Great Wolf Lodge, from the moment we walked up to the front doors, to the moment we left, was magical. It was like that Disneyworld feel, without having to fly or wait in line ups, so it was the perfect short getaway for our family.

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I could barely contain myself just watching the awe in these little eyeballs, and I try very hard not to get emotional with stuff like this, (Okay, I don’t try, I let it rip) because the experiences are the moments I’m so in love with. Being October, we experienced their Howl-O-Ween event, so the lobby (they call it their Grand Living Room) was decked out beautifully while adding a little kid-friendly spook to it. Everything is very “lodge-y” so it’s a little dim for lighting, but all a part of the awesomeness.GWL 30.png

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We quickly checked in (with the very friendly Adam (the vampire) – they all wear costumes for Howl-O-Ween) and ran to our rooms to get into our bathing suits, but the girls kept stopping along the way to check out the talking Forest Friends, the gift shop, and all the mini creatures who greeted us. Now, I have been to an indoor waterpark or two in my lifetime, but this one topped them all. EVERYTHING about the waterpark was squeal-worthy (I’m talking about me here) With two kids, four years apart in age, we were still able to do so much at the same time, even one of the huge waterslides which our 18 month old LOVED, and with our waterproof bracelets (also used as room keys – GENIUS) we could tap before we went down the slide and the camera would snap our pictures!

You will definitely want to check out all of the waterslides, pools, and water activities HERE because I spent more time in the water than I did taking pictures (family win)!

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There’s one slide I forced Morgan to go on, strictly because I wanted a photo for this blog. This thing terrified me (and I can’t stop laughing at how terrified he looks as the floor drops from beneath him). YES – the FLOOR drops out and before your heart has a full attack, you’re at the bottom safely within about 6 seconds. I might have made a joke or two about him peeing himself out of sheer terror, but was reminded that I’m the one who does that (thank you Baby 1 and Baby 2).GWL Morgan.jpg

Since we arrived around dinnertime, our first evening of waterparking was successful, but we were tuckered out, so we headed back to the room for a few snacks and a pizza from Northwoods Pizza Company (YUM/affordable/they sell wine), threw on our costumes and went back to the Grand Living Room for “Spooktacular Story Time” and Trick-or-Treating! Again, the waterworks in my own eyeballs started to kick in, but the girls kept busy, and entertained with everything their family event calendar offered, so I just sat back and snapped pics while storing some in my mental bank.

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While we were there, we saw kids and adults running around with these awesome magical wands they had purchased at the gift shop so they could experience their MagiQuest journey. At first I thought they magically did your dishes, or the laundry, but apparently it’s a different type of magic (rude). They were able to open treasure boxes of jewels, receive hints on where to go next, while deciphering hidden messages along the way, meeting Pixies, battle an evil dragon and fight the Goblin King! (Or that’s what some 5 year old boy told me anyway, after giving me a disgusted “you DON’T KNOW what MagiQuest is?” look). The gift shop though, is a must visit. I didn’t find it overpriced which is always a nice treats for adults – (we cheered)

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Though it’s a huge resort, everything is very centrally located, so we didn’t have any troubles getting around, even though we forgot our stroller (that happens when you plan a trip in 20 minutes). Between the 1st and 2nd floor you’ve got everything you need – lobby, gift shop, buffet restaurant, coffee shop, waterpark, pizza, the arcade, a mini bowling alley, and even the most adorable Scoops Spa for kids and adults. Though busy, it was never too much to handle. It seemed like all the kids were so well entertained that you didn’t hear any tantrums (except for the one my kid gifted us with) or screaming, except for the shrieks of pure joy (again, from me).

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While poking around the Grand Living Room, we found out there are SO MANY annual celebrations at Great Wolf. Whether it’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a Birthday, Easter, Hallowe’en, or Christmas, the entire place is transformed to make sure that you too can create beautiful memories together. While planning an overnight in such a short period of time doesn’t always flow so smoothly, Great Wolf Lodge was the PERFECT mini getaway to recharge our batteries and get reacquainted with each other to have some fun.

Life can definitely get busy, and though this was also a busy getaway, it brought us a brand new bank of memories and moments to last a lifetime. We will be back, and next time we’ll plan ahead and book a themed suite because they are “SOOO SUITE” (#momjoke).

A Perfect Fall Day in Niagara On The Lake

Girls Day at Niagara On The Lake, with great ideas for couples and families, too!

With Fall being my favourite season of all, yesterday’s perfect day was full of sunshine, while still allowing us to wear a light jacket (enter me singing “These are a few of my favourite things”). Being a Girls Day Out with my Mum, we cruised down to Niagara On The Lake taking the beautiful back roads through the vineyards to the downtown area where we parked in front of Zees patio. After a rushed and slightly uneasy escape from the house in the morning due to a screaming child who wanted cheese, the first thing we did was grab a local glass of Pinot Grigio from our friendly waiter, Trevor. We sat on the patio watching locals and tourists enjoying the day, too, as it really didn’t matter if you were from near or far, this town had everything from delicious to luxurious.

imagehttp://www.niagarasfinest.com/restaurants/zees/

After lunch, we crossed the street to the Shaw Festival for their production of “Alice In Wonderland” which included my favourite parts of the children’s classic, while adding in beautiful story telling and music. Alice herself was easy to fall in love with.

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http://www.shawfest.com

As we left the Shaw Festival with promises of many more Girls Days like this, we met up with a handsome man (my Dad) who waited patiently to take us to one of his favourite NOTL restaurants, The Epicurean, for dinner. On our way there we visited beautiful shops, the bakery, and even did a little dream shopping at the local real estate windows. This place made me want to use words like “succulent” and “rich in flavour” when all I really came out with were grunts of happiness and a wish that I had worn elastic waist pants.

Though this day date went by quickly, we were surrounded by the beauty of the town, the perfect gardens and the vibration of the happy visitors in that short time.

On my list for the next visit:
A stay at the Prince of Wales hotel.
Horse and buggy ride through town.
More butter tarts and wine.
Rent bicycles.
Winery tour.

imagehttp://www.vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales/

As always, I’m open to your suggestions for some of your must-see attractions, events, restaurants and more! Girls day was a success, and we will see you again soon, Niagara On The Lake!

All photos sourced from http://www.niagaraonthelake.com and my personal iPhone.