Sunday Stealing: Good-bye, 2009 Meme
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The Bloom Is Off The Rose: Christmas At Great Wolf Lodge

Finally, the Christmas post! Saturday, Boxing Day, was a lazy, lazy day for Team Odette. We are all still sick with colds, just colds I think, and we did nothing but watch all the new DVDs and take multiple naps. We barely ate, or moved. So I didn't feel like posting, but here I am now, after waking up at midnight, to show you our special trip to Great Wolf Lodge for Christmas.

Christmas Eve

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We got on the road just before noon, putting us at the Lodge at 10-'til-one. Not as early as I'd hoped, but early enough. Check-in isn't technically until 1600, but I'd been assured that we could go to the waterpark and have fun until our room was ready. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary, as our room was ready when we got there. We lugged in all our stuff - a ridiculous lot for merely one night - up to the third floor Wolf Den we'd rented for the kids. Here's Jack climbing the walls outside the den. 

Unlike last time, there were only three beds in the kids' "room," so the kids had to draw straws to determine who would sleep on the pull-out couch (which we never pulled out) next to our bed, instead of being able to sleep in the Wolf Den. Sophie drew the short straw, but rather than be sad, she was happy when I put the spin on it that she "got to" sleep next to Mom and Dad!

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We were on a different floor, on the opposite side of the hallway from last time, so I was a little disoriented at first. The kids wanted to visit the Cub Club first, and we got lost on our way there. We passed this pretty little table decorated for Christmas, and I couldn't resist taking the picture. Rob laughed at me for that, but I don't care. I barely decorated our home this year, so it was nice to see.

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When we finally made it to the Cub Club, the kids pounced on this little "white" tree frog. He barely moved at first; I wasn't sure he was real! I don't know if he's an albino (don't think so, since he IS green) or what, but he was pretty cool.

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The kids rushed right to the toyboxes in the Cub Club and began taking everything out at once! Just like home...

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The kids all love musical instruments of all kinds, and even these toy ones fit the bill. They were rockin' out!

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Jack River has a sixth sense about where to find the cars and trucks in any new place, even when he can't see them. He just motors right over to where they are and conducts a quick inventory of what's available, before choosing which ones to play with. This boy has a one-track mind!

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Sophie playing schoolteacher

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The shopping carts are always popular with my crew.

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For this trip, the kids participated in GWL's free program, "North Pole University," wherein they had to complete five tasks and get a stamp for each. When they filled up their stamp card, they turned it in for prizes. The first task was to color a picture for the coloring contest in the Cub Club. Jack scribbled through his to get it done and get back to his trucks! Sophie colored her reindeer pink, and Sophia diligently concentrated on making hers the best picture ever. I have no idea if they won the contest, but they received their stamps, at least!

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The next task was to go to the Front Desk and borrow a family game, take it to our room, and spend some time playing the game together. We logged a whopping 12 minutes on the game before it told us to "Stop" (it was a really dumb Kangaroo game), but hey, the kids got their stamps!

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Chloë glaring at me from her top bunk in the Wolf Den in our room

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Back down the hall again, here's a view of the then-closed shop on the main floor of the Lodge, from upstairs on our floor

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The kids loved all the "pieces" they found to the MagiQuest game at the Lodge, which we didn't play. They were really intrigued by that, so if we ever go back, we'll have to play the game. It'll be something new, at least. I must confess, the extreme excitement I felt before, during and after our last trip in April was missing for this trip. Maybe it's because I'm sick, maybe it's because we didn't really have the money to do any extras this time, or maybe it's just the "Been There, Done That" syndrome. I'm ready for something new, something different next time.

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The view of the Christmas-bedecked lobby from above, on our floor. It was beautimous!

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Normally on Christmas Eve, our tradition is to go to the candlelight service at church and then come home and open stockings. We didn't do either this year, because my dad said he bought and filled stockings for the kids, so I didn't bother doing it myself. Well, the box didn't come in time! Oh, noez! So I let the kids each open one present on Christmas Eve in our room. The catch was, I got to choose the present. They were all game. I'd already planned on giving them each a Webkinz to snuggle with at bedtime, since none of them had brought a lovey. I gave them each a trivia question to answer, and whoever got it right would be the next to open a present. Chloë went first. She loved her gift bag, which came from Jafra.

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She got the camel, about which she was none too excited. Oh, well, she was game for it and warmed up to it eventually. Can't remember what she named her...

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(For the full set of pictures from our trip, see my Facebook page. They're all there. I'm skipping lots of the present pictures.) Jack went next. I gave him the Buffalo. He was really upset about that, as you can see! His reaction really hurt my feelings, actually. He is not good with showing gratitude when a present is not something he expected - ie, a car - although we are working on that. He got a good talking-to by his father for this, as I truly was bothered! He later apologized, and I appreciated that. Back at home, when we were adopting the Webkinz, he wanted to name the Buffalo "Goat Poop." LMAO! The site wouldn't allow that name, so he ended up naming him "Chicken," but I wish GP was allowed!

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Sophie, who generally only likes the birdie 'kinz, wasn't exactly jumping for joy over her llama, either. Oh, well, big FAIL on my part! I was just trying to get the Webkinz that had been in the stash for a long time out into the world! She named the llama "Skittles," which I think is cute.

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After the presents were opened and not-enjoyed, it was time for more adventures in the lobby. First up, a visit with Santa! It's funny, even though I have told my kids the Truth About Santa, and answered all their questions about him on multiple occasions, I don't think they truly believe me that he isn't real. Especially the little girl. She was full of love and hugs for Santa Claus!

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Jack was feeling quite shy and didn't want to visit with Santa, or even look at him. He hid behind my coat the entire time!

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After the Santa visit, we purchased tickets for $5 each (the only thing, besides a pizza, wings and soda dinner for $25, that we did "extra" at the Lodge this time) for the trolley ride around the property. It included free cookies and hot cocoa, and Jack kept asking me, "Why can't we have another cookie (even though I gave him mine)? Why can't we have more hot cocoa (even though I gave them mine AND he got a free refill when we got back from the ride)?" He's all about more when it comes to hot cocoa, his favorite drink on the planet. I buy it whenever I can get it supercheap or free, because he asks for some every day lately. I should make my own. But anyway, back to the trolley ride. They provided blankets for us, which was nice, because I was wearing my thin jammie pants after soaking my regular pants after we visited the waterpark for a few hours earlier in the day!

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Toward the end of the trip, we stopped to vote on the Christmas trees decorated by each of the different departments at the Lodge. This one was the prettiest, but my favorite was the one that looked like the Tornado waterslide inside the park. It was pretty cool. Sophia was mad that Jack chose the same one she liked, and she refused to let anyone else on the ride look at it, either!

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The outside of the Lodge, decorated for the holidays. I was glad this ride was pretty cheap, considering the exorbitant cost of almost everything else at the Lodge, because it was seriously lame compared to, say, the Lights at the Beach that we STILL have yet to go to this year! 

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After the freezing-cold trolley ride, the kids were happy to get inside and warm up in front of the fireplace, along with this anonymous little boy. Brr! My fingers were completely numb, despite the Isotoner gloves I was wearing (a gift from the in-laws last year)!

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The kids' favorite part of the evening was when it "snowed" (soap bubbles, actually) inside the Lodge! Chloë has her own digital camera, so I gave Sophia and Jack each a disposable camera that I'd gotten nearly free at Target, to capture their memories at GWL. I can't wait to see the results! (Or "lee-sorts," as my Chinese TA Charles would say, from my college days. Hehe...)

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Jack reaching up to catch the "snowflakes"

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Sophia, apparently not believing that the snow was actually soap, kept catching it in her mouth. Yuck!

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Santa read " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the crowded room, and then he made it snow again, to the kids' delight.

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Someone volunteered to take our picture, when I started to take the picture of everyone else, so that was nice. Not nice: Sophie was not in the mood. See her face? She cracks me up. She has a mind of her own, and you just can't get her to do something she does not want to do, including smile for a picture. Silly girl. 
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Our fourth task (can't remember the third) was to visit with Rowdy the Reindeer after Story Time in the lobby. He was rushed out, so we barely got the chance, but the kids got their stamp.

Christmas Day

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I didn't sleep well that night. I took a "nap" from 2100 to midnight, but then I was up until way late, watching TV and missing my knitting, which accidentally got left behind at home. So when the kids woke up around 0600, oh, I was so not ready to get up and get into the presents! Rob and I decided to let them play quietly (or not-so-quietly, as it were) in the Wolf Den while we tried our best to catch a little more shut-eye. Finally, at 0800, we got up and got started. The pile of presents wasn't huge this year, and I'm very glad for that for several reasons I can detail later if you want. The plan this year was to open them one at a time while everyone watched and commented on the present, and then that person would choose one for someone else to open. It worked well; it was a great system. I'm not going to show all the present pictures here (they are on Facebook), so here are a few faves:

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Sophie received a drawing set from her Grandpa Al & Grandma Denise (Rob's dad and stepmom) that has been out constantly since we've been home!

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They gave Jack this Transformers truck - which he keeps calling Power Rangers, but whatevs - that he just loves. Every time Rob tries to turn it into whatever else it's supposed to be, he turns it right back into the truck!

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Also, they gave Chloë this new Barbie digital camera! You can see she's thrilled. It's not as nice as the one she already has, but she doesn't care. She wants it NOW. We don't have the right batteries yet for it (AAA), so I still need to buy some for her. She's bugging me constantly to set it up!

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Chloë took this picture of me, looking horrible, after opening my present from the in-laws: socks and foot lotion, and a $50 gift card to Walmart! I think I'll use it to buy some much-needed new brassieres, since the ones I bought 55 pounds ago are, well, pretty roomy in the cups!

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Rob looks like crap because he felt like crap! His dad and Denise gave him another gift card, and a mug filled with tea and cookies. They ate the cookies today; I heard they were delicious!

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After present time, we fed the kids some dry cereal in the room (forgot milk, der!), and then Rob took the kids down to the lobby for their final task, while I stayed behind to shower and pack up our stuff. The task was to go on the Polar Wolf Walk, which wasn't a walk at all but a sit-and-chat about polar animals. The kids apparently got really into it and enjoyed it. I was glad for the quiet time to get the room packed up before check-out!

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When they returned to the room, I let Rob finish packing up his stuff while I took the kids down to the Cub Club to turn in their completed cards for North Pole University. Here they are, turning in the cards.

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Their rewards were a free travel-size Patch game, a make-your-own-elf-hat kit, and a voucher for 8 free tokens in the arcade!

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The 8 tokens each were gone before we knew it, although they had lots of fun playing games - especially the candy-grabber that you can't lose - redeeming tickets and choosing small prizes. Here they are leaving the arcade, less than an hour after entering, to finally head back to the waterpark!

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We could barely get Sophia's clothes off at our table before she was off and running to the baby pool to go down the slides there. Later, we took her on several adult-sized slides, working our way up from the family slide, and she LOVED them. She's one adventurous little tyke. We took Chloë and Jack, separately from each other but with the fun-loving Sophie, on the family tube ride, too, and they both hated it immensely. Poor little scaredy-cats. Chloë almost got sick on the tube ride, especially at the end when the lifeguard spun our raft around really fast. I had to yell at her to stop!

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My crew in the hot tub, definitely the favorite spot for this trip. It was supposed to be warm, and the water was definitely warmer on Christmas Day than on the Eve, but we were all still chilly. Even me. Well, with his wet suit on, I don't think Rob was too cold, but the kids and I shivered a great deal!

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Jack did really well in the water this time. He took to it like a fish - but only as long as his life jacket was on, which was most of the time. He "swam," he dunked himself, he had a great time!

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Rob pushing the kids around on a tube in the Lazy River - they always fight for the center position!  

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Poor Chloë had an upset tummy after her nervousness from going down the family tube ride, so we left the park early after she threw up next to the hot tub! She took in a little water that went down the wrong pipe, which sent her into a heavy coughing fit that made her barf and barf some more. Eww. I felt bad for the other people in the hot tub. It didn't actually get IN the water, but they had to watch! We decided to go then, even though it was only 1400, and we could stay until 2100 if we wanted. The kids were ready; no one put up a fight.

It was just as well. Sophia and Jack were asleep before we even got out of the parking lot, and Chloë was zonked out less than five minutes later. Rob slept through the drive home, too, and boy, did I want to do the same! It was touch-and-go for me for a few minutes in the  middle. When we got home, I wanted to just sit in the car in the driveway and nap, but I saw my packages on the porch, and that made me get out and investigate!


The first package was my new blue Cricut Expression cutting machine for scrapbooking (and eventually, card-making, which I've been wanting to do but just haven't been able to find a way to get myself to start)! I am SO excited about this machine. My old Cricut, the Personal Cutter, failed after a year of use, and then we had to pack it away for a year for the flooring project, which made me miss out on the warranty. I talked to a manager at Cricut, who sent me out a new refurbished machine to replace it. Thanks so much to her for that!! I decided to upgrade to the Expression, so now I'm trying to sell the new-old machine to make money for that. We did get a Visa gift card that paid for the Expression, but I'd rather put that money toward more pressing stuff. 


The second box was my new Kodak ESP5 printer. Again, my old Kodak 5300 all-in-one printer had failed to print color, and everything else was messed up on it, too, so after several attempts to fix it, Kodak gave me this new one for no charge! It's supposed to be an "upgrade," but it seems like a piece of shit compared to the old one. We'll see; it's only been a day, so maybe it'll grown on me some more.  It wouldn't even print at all at first, but after cleaning the printhead three times, I got it to print just fine. Phew! I was about to pitch another fit to some poor guy in India!

And the third box was my new Hitachi external hard drive, which was also replaced at no charge. Yes, it's true, EVERY electronic thing I own has failed me in 2009! It's been ridiculous and frustrating, to say the least!


For Christmas dinner, after I took a good long nap, we went out to TGI Friday's. They were running a free appetizer special for dinner, and I had those two $10 gift cards to use, which I won at the Santa breakfast at school.


The $20 was enough to cover dinner and our tip, so that was great, because we had NO money for more than that! The kids ate cheese sticks and some of our dinners. We usually just share with them when we go out, because they don't each very much. Rob had a cheeseburger and fries, and I had Parmesan-crusted chicken with some very tasty spinach and cheese tortellini. There was also a mozzarella and tomato salad, but no one ended up liking that. 

I don't remember doing anything special last night, other than knitting on a baby kimono I'm working on for the charity, and watching Discovery Health with Rob. The kids crashed pretty early.

This morning, I got up early to run errands: (1) Pick up photo boxes and various note cards and things from a fellow Freecycler; (2) Run to Kmart to get color printer ink; and (3) Pick up the package from my dad at the Post Office. His stockings for the kids did arrive after all, but the PO didn't leave the box on the porch. Which was good, because it was pouring when we got home and the other boxes got soaked!

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My dad really stuffed their stockings with lots of fun stuff! They had a blast opening all the toys and candy and socks they received, and I was glad not to have to buy all those little stocking stuffers this year. Sorry for all the boxes in the room, but it WAS Boxing Day, after all! ;)

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Each of the kids got a couple of books, too - this was supposed to be Jack's picture, but Booger Nose Sophie snuck in there at the last second with the gummy tongue my dad gave her! You can see him elbowing her out of the way - too funny!

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Chloë's been reading about Meg Cabot all day, exclaiming about this or that from the story. I love that she's such a good reader! ♥

Phew. I'm finally done showing Christmas to you. That took two hours! Maybe now that it's almost 0500, I'll get back to sleep??

How was your Christmas, if you celebrate? I hope it was a good one!