Chicago's Great Wolf Lodge!

My kids feel like it's Christmas in July! Why you ask? Because Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee Illinois is OPEN! We got to experience the resort over the weekend and it REALLY delivered! I'm about to hit you with a lot of pictures because, if I just told you everything there is to do, you wouldn't believe me.
Hee, hee, can you tell they're excited?
The first thing we did after checking in was hit the 80,000 square feet indoor water park. It is AMAZING. My son, actually doesn't care for sliding, BUT between the wave pool, Fort Mackenzie and Crooked Creek he was having a BALL! My daughter, can not get enough of the slides. She went down every single one they have, and that's a lot!
Can you tell she was having fun?
 AND I was as well ;)
Have you heard of MagiQuest? It is BRILLIANT! It's an interactive video game that the kids and adults can play all over the lodge with wands. PLUS, you can take your wand home and the next time you visit Great Wolf Lodge, you can pick up your game where you left off. My kids LITERALLY took their wands everywhere we went and played every step of the way.
When you visit, be sure to make a stop at the Great Wolf Candy Company. It is TOO SWEET!
The kids did some gem mining, which was fun. They also spent an hour identifying all of the gems they found. Which gave me a little time with my feet up, thank you.
I love the Rustic Ridge Climbing Wall. My Maggie is quite a talented climber.
The highlight of our trip was the Howlers Peak Ropes Course. Both Maggie and I are afraid of heights. BUT, we challenged ourselves and rocked the entire course!
Can you believe I did this?! I am still amazed by it. The staff for the course is top notch. They climb around like ninjas to help anyone who gets stuck or needs a little confidence boost. I was really impressed with them.
While my Benny choose to keep his feet on the ground, he channeled his inner mini golf guru.
He also bowled like a champ!
There are tons of activities for the kids. My Benny rocked his downward dog at the yoga. There is also story time, a dance party for the kids, a character show and so much more.
Look at these faces. I could not ask for more. We will be coming back to Great Wolf Lodge again and again. It's the perfect weekend getaway from the city. No lie, from the city in Friday rush hour traffic, we made it there in under two hours. On the way home with no traffic, just over an hour.
Thank you Great Wolf Lodge for giving us all sweet dreams!

Be sure to check them out on the web. They have locations all over the US and one in Canada.  So tell me, have you been to Great Wolf Lodge?

MSI Keeps Kids Learning This Summer!

I am a member of the MSI. This post is a collaboration with them but all experiences and opinions are my own.

I love having my kids home in the summer. BUT we fall into the too much screen time dilemma. Did you know kids lose approximately three months of learning while they are out of school? Thankfully, The Museum of Science + Industry has the solution with Summer Brain Games! They have eight free and fun at-home science experiments with step-by-step instructions, using items found around the house or easily purchased. My favorite part ... it gets my kids off of their screens and outside exploring, thinking AND doing.
Raising city kids means you have to work a little harder to find nature. It's amazing what you can find in the park down the street. Nature Bingo brings an afternoon of outside perfection! Be sure to download the printable here.
We found bees, ants, wildflowers, even plants that had been eaten by something.
This summer's project all focus on understanding how the Earth works and our impact on it. Nothing lights up a child's mind more than an experiment. I said, "Benny, how would you like to make a cloud?"
Not only was he thrilled to do it, BUT his older sister was excited as well!
This experiment couldn't have been easier AND all we needed was a 1 liter plastic bottle with lid, a measuring cup, a match and boiled water. (Always supervise when matches are involved.)
An afternoon outside on the patio making clouds with BOTH kids is a parenting win! Thank you MSI for the experimenting inspiration!

Be sure to register here to receive a free ticket to visit MSI! We'll be checking out these experiments there and you can to, Tuesdays through Fridays on July 17 through August 10.  Happy summer friends and keep learning, exploring and experimenting!

Running at Rancho La Puerta!

I have experienced the most magical place and I HAVE to share it with you! What would you say if you could visit a place with 4,000 acres of running and hiking trails, mountains, an obstacle course, an organic farm, multiple pools, multiple fitness facilities and a spa? If you're like me, you say, "Count me in!" THAT is Rancho La Puerta.
What initially drew me to The Ranch was the running clinic. I have been a runner for well over a decade and I've never had a coach run with me, video tape my stride AND help me be more efficient with both my running and my stretching. This alone was a FABULOUS experience for me!
There is a 5 mile obstacle course that I HAD to try! (Full disclosure: I have never done an obstacle course before.) What I loved about it was, it wasn't a race. It was about finishing. EVERYONE who finished was a winner. The support and the course were fantastic.
One would think that running paths, and hiking trails as well as an obstacle course would be enough for the perfect vacation, but that just scratches the surface. When you visit The Ranch, you are transformed by the food. It is spa cuisine that LITERALLY transforms your body. I have never enjoyed food SO much in my entire life. Veggies, fruits, grains, spices ALL perfection.
Every inch of the grounds is perfection.
I have never seen so many fitness class options in one place in my life. It truly is a mind-body-spiritual experience. I tried an aerial yoga class. SO fun!
BUT I didn't stop there. I had a full menu of classes from yoga, to Pilates, to water classes, racket sports, cardio, dance, flexibility, to meditation offerings.
I am a firm believer in stepping outside the box when given the chance, so I took a chanting class AND a sound healing class. Both were amazing. Yes, I am looking for a chanting class back home. I want to continue with it! Mindfulness and meditation are essential and I love exploring new ways for myself to balance.
I did find a moment to sit by the pool. It has been a LONG time since this mom had a moment to herself to chill poolside and I cherished EVERY minute!
I have always prided myself as an urban runner, but I have to tell you, I LOVE running trails! The wildlife, the mountains, the greenery. It's running perfection not to be missed.
I will most certainly find my way back to Rancho La Puerta. There were SO many other classes I wanted to check out. If you're interested in an all inclusive experience with a running program, check them out on their website and on Instagram!
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