Sunday, February 23, 2014

Brady's 4th Birthday at Great Wolf Lodge

Our "baby" boy isn't such a baby anymore!  He has officially turned four this past week and can tell you himself that not only is he four and a big boy, but that his birthday is on February 19.  He has changed so much in the last year, and I know I say that every year, but I feel like this year was another big one for him.  We put together our annual video at Christmas and seeing how little he spoke last January was shocking!  He's always been physical and the verbal came along more slowly for him.  He could understand us completely by 18 months, but even turning three, he spoke in broken sentences.  He can now carry on full conversations, ask detailed questions, express emotions, and sometimes it feels like he's talking all day long.  His memory is amazing.  He can remember things from a year ago or longer.  He can recognize and name every model of car there is and recalls which of his family members drive certain ones.  He knows the cities where all of his family lives and talks about missing them when they aren't around.  He loves playing with all of this friends and he loves his sister.  He's certainly been a big help to me as he became a big brother for the first time in the last year.  He started school and loves it!  I can't wait to see all the changes that happen between four and five!

Digging into his presents from us on his birthday morning.  Izzie was definitely in on the action, so she will be ready when it's her turn next week.

The main present from us was hockey skates and skating lessons.  He has enough toys, so we felt it was time to give him an experience that he can build upon as he gets older.  He jokes that he needs his ice skates in our driveway with all the ice.

This Rescue City was something he decided he wanted late in the game around Christmas.  He talked about it often, so when I saw it was on sale, plus a coupon, plus my stash of mPerks, making it free, I had to get it.  Unfortunately, he got into our storage room and saw it before his actual birthday, thus ruining the surprise.

The Jungle Book on Blu-Ray from Izzie to go along with the Jungle theme of his fourth birthday.

A look back at all of his birthdays so far. 

And all of his cakes.

Andy had received some time off in September that he had to use before April 1.  Since that was before our planned trip to California in May when we would actually need the time off, I decided I didn't want to just burn days here or there and make a few three day weekends where we just sat around and did nothing.  He took one the day before Thanksgiving since we host my family and we had some last minute prep.  He had three remaining and I thought it would be nice if we took a trip to Sandusky, Ohio (a 1.5 hour drive from us) and spent Brady's actual birthday at Great Wolf Lodge, a chain of indoor water park resorts.  Brady's birthday week is always a whole week school break, so he had no school, and going during the week instead of a weekend, dropped the rates.  I also thought it would be nice, since Andy has been home for every one of Brady's actual birthdays except for last year, to try and make it special for him.  We kept it a complete surprise from Brady, which wasn't hard because even saying Great Wolf Lodge had no meaning to him.  

He had a swim lesson the morning of his birthday (Wednesday) and we had told him in the morning after he opened his presents that we were taking a trip and it was a surprise.  He kept asking where we were going, but we wouldn't tell him.  We loaded up the car after swim class and headed out.  It's the same direction we go to Pittsburgh, so he asked if we were going to Nana's house.  We told him no and that it was still a surprise.  We stopped for lunch on the turnpike and arrived at the resort around 2PM.

This is Brady in the lobby waiting for us to check in, still having no clue.  He knew it was a hotel and thought that was the surprise.

Brady has been in and out of more hotel rooms than I can count, but this was Izzie's first time in a hotel room and she was fascinated by the guest services book.

We suited up and headed down to the waterpark.  Brady was very surprised and excited!

We fitted him with a life jacket and set him loose in the giant play structure.  He loved it! He was constantly climbing up and taking the slides down.  It took a bit, but he eventually started going down all the completely enclosed ones as well, where it's darker.

We put Izzie down in front of this wall of water and she walked through once, not knowing any better.  She didn't do it again.  Give her a year or so and she'll be as crazy about it as Brady.

Can you tell he's happy?

Lazy river, my favorite!

Brady was more than happy to play in the play structure by himself and knew where we were if he needed anything, so we got to spend some time with Izzie.  Don't worry, we glanced around for Brady every 10 min or so, but he was more than fine.

Watching her run and play reaffirms how much fun it will be with the two of them this summer at the pool.

In the baby pool.

She did not want to hold our hands.  If she fell, she got right back up.  She's fearless just like her brother.  About every 30 min or so, someone would ask me how old she was because she seems so tiny (which she is) to be walking so well and so independent.

Happy girl!  Look at how far those top teeth have come down!

We left the park around 5:30PM and since only Izzie had napped in the car ride up and Brady hadn't napped, we decided to push on due to the time.  If we let them sleep at that point, they'd be up all night and the waterpark was only open until 9PM, so we'd have to contain and entertain them in the room.  We had planned to go to the Friendly's we saw was on the same road for Brady's birthday dinner.  We hadn't been since before Brady was born and we lived in New Jersey.  Unfortunately, we found out that it was closed down, so we went to our favorite stand-by, Chili's.  Brady had passed out on the less than ten minute drive.  We let him sleep so Izzie would fall asleep and we could enjoy our dinner while she slept.  He was not too happy about being woken up, but perked up when the chips arrived.

We made it back to the lodge by 7:45PM, our bellies full with dinner and dessert.  Andy volunteered to stay in the room with Izzie, while I took Brady back to the waterpark to play before it closed at 9PM.  Since he didn't need me to be with him, I stayed in my street clothes and took a book, observing him from a second level patio.

Thursday morning, we were back and ready to play!

I left Andy with Brady around noon and took Izzie for a much needed nap.  

After nap and lunch, it was time for more adventures!

The entrance to the arcade was right across from the waterpark and Brady kept asking when we'd go to Chuck E Cheese as he called it.  It did have tickets and prizes, so it was more fun than just paying to play games.

Look at that sweet face!

Brady grabbing the wheel to keep from crashing when Izzie got distracted.

Brady's favorite song sung by the minions of Despicable Me.

Thursday was the day when it was warm outside but rained all day.  We had decided that we weren't leaving the lodge.  We had brought some of our own food due to having a fridge and microwave in our room, so we had eaten breakfast and lunch there.  For dinner, we headed down to the grill located at the lodge.  After that, it was only 6PM, so we had plenty of time to play at the waterpark.  Brady had ridden the giant slides that wind outside of the building and then back in with Andy in an inner tube while I was watching Izzie nap.  When we went back in the evening, it was my turn.  It was awesome!  I have no doubt that Brady will love the thrill rides that he's now tall enough to ride at Disney!

We checked out around 9AM on Friday morning.  Andy still had the whole day off and we would be back home well before noon, so he suggested we go up to the largest outlets in Michigan, which are located about 45-50 minutes from where we live.  I looked at the stores and had coupons for some at home, so we stopped there first.  We made it there by 1PM and were thrilled to see that it was all indoors!  That made our day since the wind gusts were 30mph or more!

The biggest draw was the only Disney Store in all of Michigan is located there.  You can see Izzie with the Ariel purse that called to me as soon as I walked in.  I managed to get both Izzie and I matching Ariel shirts for our trip, both on clearance, in addition to two shirts for Andy, one of which is specific to Disneyland.  Brady walked away with a set of five Ramones in all different colors (since he owns a body shop and is constantly getting new paint jobs).

Next stop was Stride Rite.  I had been meaning to get Izzie walking shoes for some time since she's coming up on three months walking.  Brady got his first pair two days after his first birthday.  Now she needs to practice walking in them.

It was buy one, get one 50%, so we had Brady's feet checked for size (he hasn't gotten new sneakers since last April).  He was up a full size, so we scoped out shoes for him too.  No surprise he ended up with firetruck sneakers that also light up to simulate the siren lights.  He's been showing everyone!

In addition to the Disney Store and Stride Rite, I hit up both Carter's and Osh Kosh, scoring the kids five pairs of pajamas (four for Brady and one for Izzie) for future use for a total of $12!  I also was thrilled going to the Gymboree outlet where they have stuff from a year ago.  I tend to put things in my cart and unless I NEED them, they sit there until a good sale and sometimes they sell out.  I got a tulip romper I had wanted for Izzie before she was born for 45% off!  I was over the moon excited.  Now that I know it's not so far, anytime I don't end up getting something I want, I know when and where to get it.  This will also come in handy since I buy ahead for the kids, so when we have more, I can get the matching pieces in the right size!

The last stop before we went home was Dairy Queen/Orange Julius since Brady wanted ice cream instead of the standard cookie when we go to a mall.  He didn't end up wanting ice cream, but a pink smoothie.  He was very gracious and shared with Izzie.

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