Summer Fun

Aug 12

Great Wolf Lodge: Not Just for Wee Ones

To squeeze the last few drops of fun out of summer, we surprised the kids with a two-night stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This indoor water park boasts over 100,000 square feet of water-packed fun, including scream-worthy slides for risk takers—not for the faint of heart!—and zero-depth entry areas for wee ones. Outside the water park, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone busy until nightfall.

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara

Our visit to this immense 84-degree indoor water park was the second for us in five years. I was a little worried that the lodge and all of its amenities might look a little tired or appear a bit rundown. Not so. And, with the kids being half a decade older since our last visit, I was worried they might not enjoy themselves as much (they are 7, 10, and 13). Again, not so.

Fun for all ages

We actually enjoyed ourselves more this time around. With the kids being that much older we, as parents, we were free to experience all the fun with our children without the incessant fear factors that come with having toddlers around water.

The kids LOVED the tipping bucket. Btw, my 13-yr old took this photo. Good job Campbell!

Check in and check out were a breeze. Parking availability was plentiful.

The staff, from reception to dining to housekeeping, was always pleasant and courteous. Lifeguards were impressively attentive. Even staff at the gift shop was friendly and helpful (usually a rarity when shopping with kids!).

Our room, with two queen beds and a pull-out couch, was clean and spacious. Movies were available on demand (always a bonus for our family). Our room came equipped with a microwave and mini fridge. So, we planned ahead and brought fruit, refreshments, bread, sandwich meat, and pizza. As such, we were able to cut down on meal costs by warming up pizza in the microwave for dinner the first night and making sandwiches for our lunch the next day—all done from the comfort and convenience of our room.

The view from our room

Thumbs down? Although many visitors seemed to enjoy MagiQuest, the “live-action adventure game” (new from five years ago), I give MagiQuest two thumbs down. The idea sounds magical, but the reality of it all is far from magical. With a “magic” wand in hand, children open treasure chests set up in hallways leading to hotel rooms, they also listen to a wizard, and do a few other “magical” things. Children were crying because the wands wouldn’t open all the treasure chests and parents were always on the hunt for misplaced wands—we’re talking about two-year olds carrying wands… Why wouldn’t they be misplaced? The least expensive wand cost $16.99 before tax.

Not a fan of MagiQuest

For families with more than one child, the cost of these wands adds up quickly. Some families tried buying one wand to share between siblings. Before even leaving the shop, siblings were having meltdowns over who got to hold the magic wand. I witnessed parents frantically handing over fists full of cash to purchase additional wands just to stop the madness that had ensued. Those wands are a total cash grab. Each wand is nothing more than a small piece of plastic that stops being “magical” the moment you leave the lodge. Blah! Okay, rant over.

Thumbs up? Dining at the Antler Shanty was definitely an improved experience. The food choices, served buffet style, have multiplied tenfold from five years ago. Salads, sides, main dishes, and desserts were plentiful, with lots of variety, and always fresh.

Two thumbs up for the Antler Shanty!

Also improved? The atmosphere as you walk into the lodge is more energized. How so? Five years ago, we entered the Grand Lobby to the sounds of nature with birds chirping, owls hooting, and wolves howling off in the distance. This time around, in addition to the nature sounds, there was current music pumped into this area, giving a fun, youthful, active vibe the moment you walk through the doors. Children were singing and dancing while parents were toe tapping to the music.

Furry friends in the Grand Lobby

Will we return? Absolutely. Will it be in five years time? Not if we can help it. For more information about Great Wolf Lodge Niagara, please visit .

Happy visitors: Ava (10), Campbell (13, and Hayden (7)

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Jul 12

The Heat of Summer

“‘Come with me,’ Mom says. ‘To the library. Books and summertime go together.’” ~ Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me

School is out and those lazy, hazy, and ever-so-hot days of summer have settled in.

The heat of the afternoon sun is scorching.

The early afternoons are filled with such intense heat that even the birds have fallen silent. The hum of the air conditioner working overtime can be heard… Please keep working… Please keep working… Even those annoying flies, the ones that always seem to somehow fly right at ear level, appear to be moving slower.

You know the birds feel the heat when they are silent during the day.

Poor flowers, they’re all wilted and droopy. The flowers have been watered yet they thirst… for shade. The only respite comes in the form of an ever-so-slight breeze that gently rustles the leaves every minute or so.

Ever sit by the shade of an old oak tree? Magnificent, isn't it?

On days like this, trying to stay cool with ice cream on a cone would be pointless. Ice cream in a cup would be no better for it would turn to soup in a cup within seconds. Watermelon, or cantaloupe, or honeydew melon might do the trick… Sigh. There’s none in the fridge.

Even this ice cream truck couldn't beat the heat!

I think I’ll make a point of stopping by the library with the kiddies today. The kids won’t overheat if they sit outside in the backyard and read. Then… I’ll pick up that melon!

Watermelon is a great way to stay cool on these hot summer days.

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Oct 11

Giving Thanks

We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend. This special time of year always gives me pause to reflect on the things that I am thankful for.

Ok, I give thanks for you too Goobie Girl.

It’s been just over a year since my Dad had bypass surgery and, thankfully, he’s recovered from his setback by leaps and bounds. Thinking about my Dad’s recovery got me reminiscing about the time we spent together this past summer…

During our two-week stay on Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) in August, my Dad and Jill (his lovely lady friend) visited with us for two days while we cottaged in Darnley. They had flown into Halifax, Nova Scotia (N.S.), from Montreal, Quebec, to tour parts of both these Maritime provinces.

Dad (aka Poppies) and Jill

On the first day my Dad and Jill visited with us, it was hot and sunny. Naturally, we declared it a beach day. I hadn’t been on a P.E.I. beach with my Dad since I was nine years old—the same age my daughter Ava is today. You can bet we took lots of pictures to mark the occasion.

Ava at the same age I was the last time I was on a P.E.I. beach with my Dad. Pretty cool!

On the second and final day of our visit with Dad and Jill, the kids and I joined them for an adventure that took us on a four-hour trek around the tip of Darnley beach. Yes, a four-hour trek. Amazingly, there was no whining or grumbling. Even Hayden, my six-year old, made it without one complaint.

No complaints from the peanut gallery!

Campbell, my 12-year old, deemed the day better than any day at an amusement park! Now there’s a proud Mama moment if I ever heard one!

We walked along some pretty spectacular red cliffs by the ocean.

During this adventurous hike that took us around Darnley’s tip, we walked across interesting and diverse terrains as we investigated the sea-carved and man-made landscapes.

An inukshuk, just sitting pretty for us.

We collected seashells, snapped pictures of a dead stingray, and stumbled upon an old lobster trap that had been tossed up on shore by an angry ocean.

A lobster trap, standing at attention, all alone.

Did I mention the dead stingray? Weird, huh? Jellyfish are known to be bountiful in the Island waters, but stingray? That’s a new one. I had no idea they could survive in these cold Atlantic waters.

Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't have seen it with my own eyes.

At the end of our trek that day, we expected to be tired from our travels, but it was quite the opposite. We were so energized from all that we had seen and experienced over the four-hour excursion, that we barely noticed our weary feet. Until the next morning. When we hobbled (instead of hopped) out of bed!

Happy travellers taking a wee break as we neared the end of our four-hour adventure.

Dad and Jill, thank you for creating a memory that will last a lifetime.

Thanks for stopping by,