Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dirty Blog? Who knew?

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
It went on to inform me:
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
  • suck (9x)
  • xxx (2x)
  • shoot (1x)

My mother never did want me to say 'suck' but shoot and x's were totally allowed in our house. See how loosey-goosey she was about vocabulary?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Suck/Rock Tuesday

Suck: Still thinking about "Chocolate Cobbler"

Rock: Still thinking about "Chocolate Cobbler"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Numi Flowering Tea Giveaway


I think Numi flowering teas are so much fun I want to give some away. So I am! Four of them, to be precise. Check out the Numi website - you can see the teas in all their blooming splendor.

One will be given away by Contest Machine, for those who want an easy entry. Doesn't everyone want an easy entry? Sure you do!

The other three will be given away to people who also leave a comment, Subscribe, follow on blogger, follow on twitter, tweet, talk about it on facebook, email a gaggle of friends and copy me, or post about it wherever else tens of people could see it. For each one of those things you do, please come back here and leave me another comment saying you did and pointing me to it, if possible.

Also, if you have entered one of my contests before, you can take another entry.

If you want to send constructive criticism (about my blog, not my person - I'm in no way ready to get into that kind of change) you can send it to me in a DM on twitter, and give yourself an extra entry for that as well.

*This giveaway is not sponsored by Numi.

Good luck!

To enter the other giveaways going on this week check out Bloggy Carnival!

Suck/Rock Sunday

Suck: The battery in my camera was dead.

Rock: We had a great lunch, went to a fun birthday party, and enjoyed the best company.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Suck/Rock for Today

Suck: My husband was home for what turned out to be little more than 12 hours.

Rock: He was here to snuggle for at least a night instead of going straight from Calgary to Casablanca.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge, Mason Ohio

We've taken a couple of trips to Mason in the past few months to hang out at Great Wolf Lodge. The main draw of the lodge is a giant indoor water park. We took our high school and college kids the day after Christmas for a brief stay. There are restaurants in the lodge, which we did not use. There are lots of restaurants nearby, so we chose to leave the property to eat. Partially due to the bad reviews of their eateries, partially because we love the hot fudge cake at Bob's Big Boy, just a minute away. And we frankly did want to escape the whole water park crowd for a while. It can get overwhelming for me with people and noise and confusion.

Here were my impressions:

Parking: The parking is surprisingly good. While it seemed like there was 'barely enough' we always found a spot. They have a good amount of short term parking for you while you check in, even on the busiest of days.

Front Desk: It's a shame, really. This is their chance to make a really great impression on you, but they clearly are not interested. You walk into this grand, amazing lobby which clearly was a labor of love, only to stand in very long lines. I have no issue with waiting in line, but this was ridiculous. They have a big counter where four, or maybe even five people could be checking in the guests. They have a lot of staff behind the counter. But only two people are helping guests. The others stand around talking to each other. And you can tell they don't like their job, they don't think much of their coworkers, and they really don't care about the guests. In a word "Attitude". Attitude with guests, with each other, and audible complaints you can hear even from the back of the line about how many people are in line. It's 4:15 the day after Christmas. The place is booked solid. Yeah, you're going to be busy. This is your job. So do it well and be friendly. The one way they are efficient, in our experience, is you at least get the room you reserved. Also, someone is very nice on the phone about extending your wristband for incidental expenses after checkout.

The Rooms: We had a loft suite. It does give everyone more space and an extra bathroom, which is always nice. The rooms are pretty much standard hotel room fare. The rooms are clean and in good working order. We had a mini fridge and a microwave and coffee maker. We had a packet of decaf Maxwell House available in our room. The fireplace was a nice touch. Although the room we had was for 6-8 people, and we were 6, there were only four towels, four cups, etc. This seems like an issue which just does not need to exist. It's obviously just the standard for them, but in the rooms for more people they should have a 'more towel' policy. There are bar soaps and a childrens body wash (which they sell in the spa) and a shampoo in the bathroom. There is a balcony, but the view is depressing and it was full of cigarette butts floating in a couple of big yuchy containers. I think these balconies must only exist for people to smoke on them. This is a decent room for a family, especially if you are going to be spending most of your time in the water anyway.

Pizza Hut: They were as fast as they could be, considering, but very undercooked. (Think dough still raw in the center of the pizza.) Order from a real Pizza Hut from your room. They have a bunch of pizza places who deliver in the booklet in the room. You'll likely get better pizza, more of it, and it will be less expensive. If you buy from the lodge you pay $5 for a 2 liter of Pepsi and nearly twice as much for the food items. Ordering direct gives you more options.

Gift Shop: Prices compare to Disney, but there are a few reasonable items to be found. Gift shop staff is sparse, but they all seem very nice and willing to help. They even have their own Build a Bear type thing. Perhaps the person in charge of the gift shop should be in charge of the front desk as well?

Starbucks: Good service, good coffee. The Starbucks is inside the gift shop.

Spa: I would avoid this place. Better to go to the spa at home. They are about as friendly as the front desk and seem more eccentric than anything else.

Arcade: Kids enjoyed this when they were not in the water. You can win tickets and bring home great prizes. This seems actually very reasonable to me.

Common areas: I can't say enough good things about the lobby. There is a huge fireplace and a story telling area where kids go, dressed in pajamas, in the evening. From the lobby you can access well kept restrooms, a couple of restaurants, the gift shop/Starbucks, elevators, great big windows into the water park, and whatever else I'm forgetting. The day after Christmas it was still decorated beautifully for Christmas. There was a giant Christmas tree, an area with a bunch of regular sized trees, set up for taking snapshots, and a lot of decorations everywhere. Even overhead we were impressed with how much attention they had paid to detail. They even had a beautifully decorated gingerbread house.

There is a nice sitting area which looks into the water park. Big overstuffed couches and chairs, with plenty of tables for books or bags or snacks. This was nice for us on the second day when some of us wanted to take a rest after lunch. We sat there and read and relaxed while still getting to watch the water park fun when we felt like it.

There is free wi-fi throughout the resort. We didn't see anyone using it in the lobby, maybe because it was right after Christmas and people were a little more in the spirit of things. You can forget about taking your laptop to watch Netflix. We tried in the room. The connection is fine for browsing the internet, but just can't quite cut it for Netflix.

Now for the water park: I want to tell you to just go already! It's great. There are plenty of towels available at the door. They keep it a balmy 84 degrees. For the adults 21 and older there is a nice big jacuzzi. They do enforce the 21 and older rule, although they don't actually ask for identification. It's not very hot, but it's warm enough and kind of a nice way to relax after getting flushed. Yeah, I said flushed. You go down a big old water slide and at the bottom you get flushed, just like you were in a giant toilet. I didn't do it because, as difficult as it may be to believe, it's just not one of my fantasies. The rest of the family did, most of them repeatedly. They agree it's great fun. I did ride a couple of the other water slides (I think there are 9) and they are fun. Most of them dump you right out into the lazy river. My husband and I rode around the lazy river on a two person raft. You could just ride around in there all day. There is also a wave pool, many little fountain/geyser type things, a rope course, a pool where there's basketball and maybe volleyball and lots of things little kids like to climb on. There is also a jacuzzi for the under 21 set, which was packed with people all day long.

There are a lot of tables, which people tend to stake out with their towels while they are in the water. There seem to be enough to go around. There are a few private cabanas for rent, although I have never seen one rented. I didn't inquire because although their prices are Disneyesque, their service is not. I'm not paying premium prices for less than premium service. They have lifeguards stationed everywhere and they are really on top of things. They have been efficient and helpful - and even friendly! There are parts of the water park I have not yet discovered, but it all seems very popular. No part sits unused, that's for certain.

There's a snack bar in the water park and a bar, too. I wouldn't know about the bar. The snack bar sells the typical snack bar fare. You can also ask them for a glass of water. It's nice to know they'll give you a cup of ice water with a lid and straw for free. You don't have to buy the bottled water. You don't have to buy anything at all. Outside food is prohibited in the water park by policy, but in reality there seems to be little issue with your own reasonable little snacks in the water park. You can't drag in your own cooler though.

There's also a shop selling swimwear and Crocs. It's a small shop packed full with stuff. Don't go there expecting to find a clearance rack. I think the prices are in line with full price a Macy's type department store, for what it's worth. We picked out a really cute suit for my daughter in July and they were selling the same one in December.

*Remember to take your camera, your flip flops and cover up for walking the halls, and your own big towels if you want. Don't go thinking you are going to 'sit this one out'. This place is truly enjoyable for everyone. There are plenty of things I didn't mention because we didn't use them like the Magic Quest game, which seems to be very popular for kids up to around age 13. There's a program for young children where they do crafts and make t shirts which looks really neat, too.

Although check in isn't until 4:00 and checkout is at 11:00, you can make use of the water park from 1:00 PM the day you check in and until closing the day of departure. They give wristbands to the adults which serve as the key to your room and a way to charge items to your room. No need to carry a wallet or a key. Your wristband can still work to pay for charges even after checkout time, all you have to do is call or stop by the front desk and ask.

Did I mention it's right next to King's Island? Well, it is. Across the street is a giant movie theater, giving you another entertainment option.

I just read this article full of tips about Great Wolf Lodge written by Lorain Blanken. You should go give it a read.

You can always find coupon codes for Great Wolf Lodge, usually on their own website.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Different Kind of Giveaway

Be one of the first three bloggers to leave a comment on this post, and you will get a handmade gift from me!

If you win you must post this challenge on your blog, meaning that you will 'Pay It Forward', creating a handmade gift for the first three bloggers who leave a comment on your giveaway post.

The gift that you send to your three friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And, remember: It’s the Spirit and thought that count!

When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it, sharing appropriate Linky Love.

If you are not one of the first three to comment on this post, you can still play along. Please start your own Pay chain, and encourage your blogging friends to do the same.

You can bake, assemble a gift box with notes cards and a neat pen, put together some of your favorite recipes...those are in some way handmade and from the heart!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Yes! Another Contest!

Yes, another contest. Only because I just discovered this cool new way to host contests and I wanted to try it out. Also because I think these soaps were such great little gifts. Check them out at her Etsy shop:

Up for grabs is a Frosted Lime Cupcake soap. You decide whether you want the short one or the tall one.