Summer Adventuring | Part Two

Part two of the week+ summer adventure happened after the camping trip with my brother.

The plan started out pretty simple. Aaron and I had both decided to take the week off work after the camping trip. As we were talking through options about what to do with this vacation time with all the kids (driving, flying, staycation, etc) we decided it made complete sense to go stay at the house I grew up in outside of Tacoma, Washington and adventure to Seattle for a day or two or more.

I think we both liked having that flexibility built into the plan so we could see how things went and how everyone was getting along and how much patience I/we had left.

After the four days of camping + two nights outside Seattle I figured I'd be ready to be home but left it open just in case.

Here's a look at the middle part of our adventure:

One of the first things we did after getting settled into the house I grew up in (after leaving the camping adventure) was figure out a dinner plan.

Growing up in the summer we spent a lot of time at this particular Godfather's Pizza in Federal Way. It was the place we went after so many swim meets. It was fun to have this crew there for pizza and to play some of the arcade games just like I did when I was a kid.

On Monday morning we developed a plan that included taking the Central Link light rail from the airport to Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. We don't have a car that fits all seven of us and taking two cars sounded like a pain and most kids like experiencing different modes of transportation.

There was lots of anticipation (and lots of corralling of kids) as we got off the train and got on the monorail at Westlake to take us to Seattle Center.

Told you he likes transportation.

My kids have been to the Space Needle and Seattle Center before but it was Aaron's kids first time. It was fun to see their faces as we approached. We didn't end up going up to the top of the Space Needle, choosing instead to spend our time and money at the Pacific Science Center.

The Science Center is one of those Seattle institutions. I loved coming here on field trips or to see special exhibits as a kid. Right now they have a Spy exhibit happening which was pretty cool but a little much (too many words) for the two 5-year-olds.

They found ways to have fun in the other exhibits and just hanging out with each other.

So yes, at the end of this day, we were all exhausted.

We had talked about going down to the waterfront for dinner or exploring more, but everyone was just done by late afternoon and we still had the train ride back to our cars.

I'm pretty sure all the kids had fun (or at least their memory will be one of fun), but it was also another learning experience for me and Aaron in the parenting/blended family adventures/expectations department. I can tell you that the two of us had some really good conversations at the end of each day as we were laying in the dark about what we think is most important in these kinds of adventures, things we each struggle with related to how we parent our own kids, strategies for next time and generally continuing to deepen our relationship. Not always easy but it sure feels worth it.

That's the reality people.

The next morning we woke up and took our time getting ready to go (remember how I said above that I thought two nights would be enough and there's always more work to do at home). At the end of two nights post camping I still wasn't quite ready to go home and the truth is I wanted to add another surprise to this adventure that I knew my kids would love.

So as a last minute thing we decided to make a reservation for Great Wolf Lodge on the way home.

This is one of those places we've driven by many times as we've made our way north or south on I5 between my home in Oregon and my relatives outside Seattle. We've seen the big waterslides from the road and always wondered what it was all about.

We loaded up the kids in the car and started making our way towards home. Pretty much all the kids were sleeping in both cars, except Simon. When we pulled in and everyone woke up they were pretty surprised that their vacation wasn't quite done.

We checked-in and ventured into the waterpark and the kids loved it. They had so much fun playing in the wave pool and going on the waterslides and playing on the big structure in the middle of the water park (especially a giant bucket that dumps a thousand gallons of water every so often). I loved the waterslides the best and it was so great that both kids were into that part too.

Everyone slept awesome that night.

Here they are near the end of the next day. Again, they were pretty much done by this point. Remember that feeling?

We had initially planned to just stay one night - you have access to the waterpark from the time you check-in until closing time the following day which is a good amount of time to be in the water. What I wasn't aware of was that they also have this whole other component going on at the hotel called MagiQuest® (you can tell my research was really limited to the waterpark portion).

As soon as Simon saw all the kids running around with wands and activating cool stuff around the hotel it was really hard for him to understand that no, that wasn't a part of the adventure this time and we were just there to do the waterpark.

As we were getting ready to pack up and leave the waterpark (see that last photo above about being done) I started considering staying another night to be able to give Simon the gift of participating in the magical adventure. Normally all these adjustments to the schedule wouldn't be possible for one reason or another but because we'd left the week open we had some room to be spontaneous.

So, again, I made the executive decision to stay one more night.

Worth it.

Totally.

Simon and Aaron's boys loved it. Of course they did. They have a whole game set up where the kids go from floor to floor using the stairwells and common areas of the hotel solving puzzles - it's basically a big scavenger hunt.

The girls also had fun using the wands around the hotel (not as a specific part of the game) but just as a "demo" which meant they could activate things (open chests, make things talk, etc). They also loved the little shows, face painting, coloring and storytime that was put on in the evening.

He was so into it. It got their brains going and it's an activity that takes up a good amount of time. They spent most of the evening and the next morning going through the book and clues to finish the game. It's definitely a nice compliment to the water activities.

We loved how geared the whole place was to the kids.

Good times, good times.

I've got one more post to share, most likely later this week, which will be Part Three of our summer adventure (another weekend of camping to round out the week+ of fun).

Check out Part One here.

Word art used on some of the photos above is from my Spontaneous Adventure and Diamonds Are Forever Vol. 3.

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25 thoughts

  1. Christine says…
    08/04/2014

    Lots of memories made on this trip for sure. I need to get up to Seattle for the Spy Exhibit. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Desiree says…
    08/04/2014

    Fantastic! What a thoughtful and adventurous mommy you are!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Leslie S. says…
    08/04/2014

    I bet it was so fun to not have planned anything and just go with the flow. You made some awesome memories for all the kids.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Debbie Hodge says…
    08/04/2014

    i love family stories. i love seeing mom in the story. i adore that shot of you and Simon in the pool.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. kelly libby says…
    08/04/2014

    WOW! That is a LOT!! Way to go for just going with the flow. I'm so not a great "go with the flow" kinda girl. And, i remember you have expressed your desire for plans. Awesome job with moving forward without set, detailed plans!! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. sugarnuggets says…
    08/04/2014

    Good planning with options works because it leaves room for those spontaneous adventures! Good communication cultivates the space for it. Awesome trip! Love the togetherness :) :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Melissa says…
    08/04/2014

    Just when I thought you were finished, something else fun happened. I'm sure that the children felt the same way and that this will be a source of many wonderful memories for them for many years to come. Way to go, A & A!!

    Thanks for sharing with us. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Carole says…
    08/04/2014

    just fabulous !!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Kim Smith says…
    08/04/2014

    Love how flexible you guys were and how you enjoy catering these trips with the kids, to the kids. Awesome photos and I'm looking forward to the next post!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Liz says…
    08/04/2014

    I always giggle when I see your references to Tacoma/Federal Way... I live in the surrounding area & my kids swim & golf at TLCC. Godfather's is still a staple of the Penquins. Though we hit the DQ next door way more frequently in our family.

    Fun recap & adventures. Somehow my photos never turn out so wonderful but I love the inspiration to keep capturing the moments. Thanks!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      08/04/2014

      I talked to the person working at the counter when I saw a photo of the swim team on the wall. Made me so happy that the tradition was continuing. TLCC was my life growing up!

  11. Liz Ness says…
    08/04/2014

    Love all of the spontaneous joy happening--love seeing you all smile so BIG! =)

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Jana Oliveira says…
    08/04/2014

    Thanks for sharing Ali, I wondered maybe you could do a post or let us know how the other kids interact with Simon, my son is autistic and he is getting to a age that is hard typical kids to understand him. I see Simon seems pretty high functioning but I was wonder how you balance that.Thanks for tips for traveling.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      08/05/2014

      Hi Jana - thanks for this comment. I've got some posts in the works about Simon lately that include some thoughts on this. I would say that Simon is definitely also in the place where it's challenging for typical kids to "get" him but we keep encouraging him (to be a friend) AND giving him space at the same time (not trying to make him someone he's not but to teach him ways to interact with people living in the same world).

  13. laura g. says…
    08/04/2014

    looks like lots of fun!! i am planning a trip to the (Oregon) coast later this month..and taking my daughter and 3 grandkids...maybe going to the Portland Zoo one day...kind of leaving it open to see how it goes...the grandkids are ages 14, 5 and 2...not making a plan sometimes is the best way to go!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Peppermint says…
    08/05/2014

    You are some sort of superhero and/or crazy person doing all that traveling and sightseeing with so many kids SPONTANEOUSLY. But I think all superheroes are a little crazy, right?

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      08/05/2014

      I think it was totally a coping mechanism + crazy :).

  15. jaynescraps says…
    08/05/2014

    My first graders often write about the Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania. I always enjoy reading their stories about the place. After reading about your trip, I regret that my boys were a bit too old once it opened. It really did look like a great time. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Amanda says…
    08/05/2014

    love your pics Ali! We've got to try out that Great Wolf Lodge. My boys would totally dig that! Thanks for sharing :)
    I'm cheering you and Aaron on... you are loving them all so well with so much thoughtful intention in your parenting together. They are one blessed bunch of kiddos :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Raylene says…
    08/05/2014

    Looks like the blended group is THRIVING!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Tere says…
    08/06/2014

    Awesome adventures. Godfathers is right down the road...a lot has changed in that area since your swimming days :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Ashley says…
    08/06/2014

    Wait, there's a Godfathers in Federal Way?! I didn't know anymore existed. I'll have to head over there one day. (I live in Renton.)

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Amberca says…
    08/06/2014

    That waterpark looks amazing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. ARC says…
    08/07/2014

    Wow, 5 kids is a lot for a vacation ;) Nice to see photos of my city and find out what actually is IN the Great Wolf Lodge. I don't love being around tons of kids (besides my own 2) so I've been avoiding it so far, and mine are little so they don't know about it yet ;) Thanks for the info, and props to you for spontaneity!!

    Reply 0 Replies

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