Deals, Kids, Non-seasonal, Seattle Area Attractions, Travel

Great Wolf Lodge Birthday Experience with Friends

The birthday party! It comes around every year for your child and is such an exciting time for them. Anthony is our youngest so for over 2 decades planning birthdays are a Sluka event! They get presents, hand us wish lists and even have friends over to celebrate.

For the first time ever with all 3 boys, Anthony came to me with a special request, “Mom? I really want to take friends to Great Wolf Lodge for my (11th) birthday in May!” Wow, son that can add up! “But, Mom I am asking for an experience and I want this instead of a big party AND instead of presents”. I actually thought this was a fantastic idea!

An experience instead of gifts and party….

We stayed in a Family Suite with an outdoor balcony which is considered a standard room at Great Wolf Lodge, They also have premium and themes rooms too. This is not our first time staying in their Family Suite and every time we go, this little nook between the beds and the couch area is a favorite spot for the boys.

We arrive about 4 and our room is ready so we unload, fuel up with snacks before heading to the water park. Anthony brought 3 friends with him on this trip. Going to Great Wolf Lodge with a buddy or sibling is a must! The Family Suite fits 6 with the sofa pull out. So, one room gets 6 people into the Water Park.

2 of the boys have never rode the Tornado Waterslide before so Anthony made sure to take them there first. All of these boys have been to Great Wolf Lodge before, but not been on some of the larger waterslides. One of them never went on it again-lol!

The fun part is waiting at the bottom to catch some fun shots as they exit the tunnels. Below is the other larger waterslide called Carbon River. Most attractions have names native to the area and we live 1 1/2 hours away from Great Wold Lodge on the (real) Carbon River.

Once they rode the waterslides several times, they head to the Chinook Cove for some water basketball and Big Foot Pass pads.

Notice my son used the ropes on the Big Foot Pass and his friend did a fast crawl across the pads!

Once they were swim(ed) out and we ate some dinner, it was time for a game of Shadow Quest. I bought all 4 boys Paw Passes and that allowed them several indoor activities at a bundled price. They got to choose a wand and for the boys who already owned and brought a wand (they are reusable for next visit) those boys got to choose fun toppers.

Choose your topper carefully, each one does different perks to up your Shadow Quest game. The game and wand/topper come with the Wolf/Paw Pass package. They wear their Paw Passes around their neck so they can have access to their activities.

Anthony’s topper he chose gives him game hints, so he stopped at one of the kiosks for a hint…..

Once you successfully find the next stop on your hunt, your symbol lights up as you point your wand. The wand activates several stations and fun animations around the hotel. This is a great game before bed because it has them running all over for several floors!

As the kids run around playing Shadow Quest, my husband and I hear music and find a dance party in the lobby and a Mai Tai station! Our Mai Tai was delicious and comes in a light up souvenier cup.

What I love about Great Wolf Lodge is that for birthdays there are a lot of fun options you can add to your stay. There is a birthday package that includes a door poster and balloons with extras as well as other packages that can include cupcakes and even pizza.

When you check out you don’t have to leave. You do need to vacate your room by 11am and get your bags in your car, but your entrance into the waterpark and other attractions lasts until closing.

2 days of swimming and Paw Pass completed! Time to go home!

We are home now, the friends are dropped off and my son is still beaming. By far, the best present he asked for in his 11 years was a Great Wolf Lodge birthday experience with friends and the memories will last a lifetime!

For tips and hacks you will want to use when visiting Great Wolf Lodge, visit this recent post.

Father's Day, Mother's Day, Non-seasonal, Reviews, Seattle Area Attractions, Travel

Nomad Battery Cable: Lightning Cable and Charger in One

I was provided sample. Opinions are my own

How many cords and chargers are lying around? Funny how 10 years ago we would wonder why I would ask such a question and here we are carrying cords, battery packs and extra car chargers around with us. With a house of boys it is a constant struggle to keep track of cords and battery packs. The Nomad Battery Cable is a game changer in this house and now I need 1-2 more for even more organization. Here is why…

I have a battery pack and so does my husband and son. Each of those bulky packs needs the cord. So, I always keep 2 cords in my car, one for our son in the back and for us in the front seat. Then I do the same in our truck for when we drive that. Those cords never stay put! That is because it gets grabbed to use for a charger and then never put back.

The Battery Cable from Nomad is a lightning cable and charger in one! Better yet, the charger is a small cylinder and not a large ‘brick’. Now, my goal is to just keep one of these in each car and one in the living room. This way plugging the charger back in means the cord is also available with it and that is less of a cord hunt when we need one.

  • New robust aluminum housing
  • 2,800mAh of power storage
  • 1X iPhone charge
  • Apple MFi approved
  • Pass-through charging technology
  • ballistic nylon braided
  • The battery enables one full charge for iPad, iPhone 7, 7 Plus, X, 8, iPhone 6, 6S and 6/6s Plus.
  • charges your phone first before then charging its internal battery

It is compact enough to just slip in my purse and if I need the phone plugged in, I can just reach for the lightning end of the cord and plug it into my phone without taking it fully out of my purse or travel bag.

You will love the convenience of carrying 1 cord that is light and compact! They make great gifts for Mom, Dad and are a game changer for traveling!

Buy on Amazon
Kids, Seattle Area Attractions, Travel

6 Things You Must Do When Visiting Seaside, Oregon

One of our favorite weekend getaways is a drive to the Oregon coast from western Washington. Seaside is always our destination because it is the perfect family and pet-friendly spot to stay. When I say pet-friendly, I mean that many shops have no problem with your dog wandering inside on a leash. There is plenty of places to stay and eat all within walking distance. in the small, yet plentiful town.

We have found that when we go, there are things we never miss doing or seeing and I will share them with you.

Book the room with a view

Every time we have stayed, we ask for the room with a view and this can be anywhere from $0-$30 extra a night. The extra will be worth it! There are a few hotels off the water strip, but plenty along it. This past trip we stayed at the Hi Tide Oceanfront Inn. It was a great price because it is an older Inn, but very clean and kept up very well.

We had the dogs and were given a ground level room with a balcony looking out to the ocean. It is winter and it was stormy so the views were spectacular of the high waves. The only obstacle between the room and the ocean was a walking trail. The boys swam their hearts out and it was great they keep there pool open until 11pm. From 6-8 they had fresh cookies in the lobby and the free breakfast was very plentiful. I will definitely stay here again.

Bring the dogs!

Why? Because everyone does. Seaside is a dog’s paradise. The beach is full of furry friends, the walking trail has more leashed friends and plenty of poop bag stations and trash cans. Broadway St. is the main shopping avenue and the stores will have dog invite signs if they are allowed in. Most allow them except food and ice cream shops and the odd tiny store where space is a factor.

Take the kids to Funland

Once the kids see this gigantic space, they won’t let you pass it up. Funland is almost a block long and connected to Fultano’s Pizza which is delicious, this arcade is packed almost any time of the year.

If you happen to spend New Years or other special weekends in Seaside, Funland will close and offer a cover charge admission (usually $15 a kid) and they get a DJ, raffles and contests as they play all night. Playing at the arcade then dinner a hotel swim and you will have a quiet evening enjoying the view as the kids crash!

Eat at Dundees on Broadway

We always make a stop at Dundees Bar and Restaurant. This family-friendly restaurant has great beers on tap (and you are walking back to your room so no big deal). The food is fantastic and great portions. They offer a small salad bar too to add to dinner. If you are unsure what to order, their pizzas and fantastic. The crust is thin and crunchy and so delicious!

Stop by the swings

As minor as it sounds, my son (and other children around) gravitate to the swings placed down the beach in 2-3 spots. There was a set on the sand in front of our hotel and another set in front of Broadway in the sand and I believe there is a third set further down.

Stop at the candy store when they get tired of walking and take a break on the swings because you have been so busy you almost forgot to do nothing but look at the waves.

Visit in the winter

All the beaches along the Washington and Oregon coast are gorgeous in the summer. They are always packed and the water is still not always warm enough to really swim in anyhow. We love the winter visits!

In the winter, wind is common especially late December and January. This makes the beach gorgeous with large waves. Bring an umbrella, it rains often enough but never bothers us-less loose sand in the shoes (bring boots). Also, you typically get prime hotel prices and plenty of rooms with views available. The staff is relaxed and more attentive and the shop owners really want your business and deal well and offer specials.

If you want a relaxing beach with no crowds, with large waves, shopping and dining without needing your car all weekend and tired kids, visit Seaside, Oregon in the winter!

Kids, Seattle Area Attractions, Travel

Fall Memories at Maris Farms Review in Pictures

I was given VIP access to Maris Farms in Buckley, Wa

Fall Memories at Maris Farms Review in Pictures

If you live in Pierce County Washington then Maris Farms is a fall name turned tradition for many families. I know friends and family all over the state who are aware of Maris Farms and we had our first visit this weekend and I have 1 word: IMPRESSIVE!

We moved to this county last year (moved back actually), yet we have never made a visit to Maris Farms before. Usually there is a neighborhood farm near our home that we will visit because it is close and local. Had I experienced Maris Farms earlier it would have been a tradition for all of the boys, not just the youngest now. Anthony brought a friend because a farm visit is better with a buddy!

Maris Farms Map

I want you to experience Maris Farms with me! So, I have created this post full of photos that still doesn’t do the well-organized farm any justice. These pictures are only half of the experience you get.

See the map that Anthony is holding above? Below is a list of all of the events and stations around the farm to experience. That’s a lot! Now the green are everyday events and the ones in orange are weekend only events so the weekend is a great way to experience it all especially coming later so you are here for the evening Haunted Woods, but the weekdays are quieter and still offer plenty!

No surprise money due once inside except for 5 of the weekend events that have a $ sign after it. Let’s take a little tour….

Barnyard Ball Zone. There are 2 of these around the farm! How great would this be in your own backyard!

Barnyard Football

First! Look at the top of the Rat Rollers photo…that’s the Farm up there with a lot of the events. This is another area below near the pumpkin patch. There are plenty of wheelbarrows to go around so you aren’t lugging your pumpkins that far at all.

Barrel roll

The wait for a Bounce House jump is always the longest wait!


That’s a mechanical bull! No kidding! This is weekends only.

bull ride

This is one of 3 large walls showing the history of their corn maze designs!

history of corn maze

Dad joins in on the Rubber Duck Races!

duck race

I leaned over the sheep barn wall to snap this. At night this turns into the entrance for the Haunted Woods walk. This is weekends only starting at 7pm and extra $.


How old were you when you ate a hot dog on a farm watching a pig race happen? Anthony was 10! Races are weekends only.

hot dog break

This is called the Jump Pillow and I want one! There is the other Barnyard Ball Zone in the background I told you about!

jump pillow

This is the Paintball Gallery or as the boys call it, the Zombie Paintball! Weekends Only and extra $.

zombie paintball

The Trout Catch and Release Fishing was a blast. None of us caught a fish, but several around us did. Weekends only.

catch and release fish

Check this out…a Goat Walk! Bring quarters because you can vend food and hoist it up to them in little buckets on a rope.

goat walk

Everyhere you turn they have fit little activities on the walk like this Color Change maze. Why not?

color maze

What is a Mineshaft Slide we wondered as we came up to this area?

mineshaft slide

That’s a Mineshaft slide!


Ever ride a Monster Truck by a pumpkin field. You can at Maris Farms. This one costs an extra $10 and weeknds only.

monster truck

Sheep! Pigs! Pheasants! and….kittens! Yes, we watched kittens play in the Animal Barn


Have you taken a Speleo Kave challenge? No worries, I still have no idea what this is. The boys, however came out hollering that was the most fun so far! Something about climbing in and maneuvering between narrow paths and coming out the ground.

speloe kave

The 10 year olds declined the Cow Train, but how adorable!


How did they think of these spots of fun? Seriously! The Black Mamba


Another blast, literally! Anthony is cannon shooting the Apple Blaster. This is a weekend only event and extra $.

Now these boys are Human Foos-Ball players!

If you haven’t ended a day on a farm in the fall on a Bee Line Zip Line, you have not lived in boy glory!


Maris Farms events not pictured or mentioned

  • 2018 Corn Maze (I know…we had to go to a dinner). We had no idea we should have given ourselves so much time.
  • Hayride
  • Slide Tower
  • Tire Mountain
  • Spider Web
  • Corn Hole
  • Corn Room (the toddlers were living it up in here)
  • Sunken Tractor
  • Tetherball (in more than one area of the farm)
  • Baby Ball Zone
  • Pedal Trikes Course
  • Tube Sliders
  • Live Honey Bees
  • Cow Roping (not real ones, silly!)
  • Tug O War
  • Digger Dell (weekends)
  • Live Duck Races (weekend)
  • Pumpkin Princess Story Time (weekend)
  • Face Painting (weekend)
  • Hot Seat Escape (like a mini escape room-weekends)
  • Glass Pumpkins (weekends and extra $)
  • Flashlight Maze (weekends and extra $)
  • “Boo!”Rides (weekends and extra $)
Maris Farms is located at

25001 Sumner Buckley Hwy, Buckley, WA 98321

For Hours and Dates: Click Here