The Winners of the Christmas Tree Contest

We are announcing the winners of the Christmas Tree Photo contest.

Carlie T. won first place with 155 votes and Taylor H. won second place with 97 votes. Congratulations to you both! We will contact both winners by email, so keep check on your inbox. 

Photo by Carlie T. ( 1st place winner)

Photo by Taylor Horn ( 2nd place winner)

Thank you all for participating in our contest. We wish you a happy Christmas this year!

Best Christmas Tree Photo Contest

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas is coming early this year. Starting this November 29, 2018 The Young Mom blog will be holding a Christmas tree contest. To enter the contest upload a photo of your Christmas tree  HERE .

Your tree can be in your house, on your porch, or outside. Be creative as possible.

The contestants with the best photo wins a prize and their photo will be featured on The Young Mom blog. First place winner wins a beautiful Christmas glitter tumbler cup designed by Nicole Searels. Second place winner receives a $25 gift card for The Honey Baked Ham.

The deadline for this contest is December 11, 2018 10:00 p.m EST. We will announce the winners on The Young mom website December 13, 2018 at 10:00 a.m EST. Anyone living in the U.S can enter and must be 18 years of age or older.

Rules:

  1. You must only send photos of your Christmas tree.
  2. The photo must have no nudity, drugs, or sexual/violent content.
  3. Participants must be at least 18 years of age or older.
  4. Only people residing in the U.S can enter.
  5. Participants do not require to purchase anything to enter.
  6. We will not disclose any photos and personal/ private information without the contestant’s permission.

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9 Easy Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

Every year we celebrate Thanksgiving with my family at my parents house. Usually, my mother prepares the main course, such as turkey while I’m responsible for the side dish. This year I’ve been super busy so I wanted to cook something quick and easy. I found nine delicious easy-to-make sides.

 

green bean casserole
Photo by Lotherington from Flickr

1. Green bean Casserole

The Campbell Soup Company created Green Bean Casserole in 1950. This American dish compliments turkey or ham. Also, it’s a good side dish for vegetarians since it includes no meat. I’ve never made this dish but I’m considering making it this Thanksgiving.

Read  Best Green Bean Casserole Recipe from Allrecipes.  

 

cauliflower rice
Photo by Larryjh1234 from Flickr

2. Cauliflower Rice

If you’re trying to lose weight and want a healthy side with little calories then try cauliflower rice, a rice substitution; its only 70 calories. I found a recipe that only takes 10 minutes to cook from Fooducate. You can find the ingredients for this recipe at Publix.  

 

 

 

sweet baked potato
Photo by Micah Sittig from Flickr

3. Baked Sweet potato

This is one of the easiest sides on the list since it requires few ingredients and little preparation. Preheat stove to 350 degrees. Place Japanese/Garnet sweet potatoes on a greased pan then let them cook for 45 minutes. When the potatoes are done, cut them down the middle long ways. Add butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. I buy my sweet potatoes from my local farmer’s market. 

 

fried rice
Photo by Sonia Goyal from Flickr

4. Stir-fried Rice

Stir-fried rice, an Asian dish is nice because it’s delicious and compliments anything. Also, It only has three ingredients and takes 10 minutes to prepare. It’s so easy even my husband (who hates to cook) makes it. He cooks his stir-fried rice with frozen stir-fry vegetables, minute rice, and beef chunk vegetables. He seasons it with Yum Yum sauce. You can find all these  ingredients for this recipe at you local Target/Walmart. 

Read this Stir-Fried Rice Recipe from Allrecipes for more details.

 

cabbage
Photo by citymama from Flickr

5. Cabbage

Boiled cabbage, a European dish is not only tasty but also healthy. I have never cooked boiled cabbage, however, I have a great recipe for it from Divas Can Cook.

 

 

 

 

collards
Photo by Elvert Barnes from Flickr

6. Collards

Nothing better than greens. In the south, where I am from this is a traditional Thanksgiving side. 

Watch How to Make Southern, Soul Food Collard Greens, an American recipe originated from the south by Divas Can Cook. Typically, I buy my collards from my local Kroger/Farmer’s market. 

 

 

mac and cheese
Photo by Maggie Hoffman from Flickr

7. Baked macaroni and Cheese

Baked macaroni and Cheese is a crowd pleaser. It’s originally from England. This side takes longer to prepare than any other side on the list but is well worth the time. I have never actually made baked mac and cheese but I’m considering making it this Thanksgiving. I got a great Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Food Network.

 

 

potato salad
Photo by Alanagkelly from Flickr

8. Potato Salad

Potato salad is a traditional southern Thanksgiving dish that originated from Europe. It was introduced to America by European settlers in the nine tenth century. Potato Salad is one of my favorite sides. I love to make it with mustard, mayonnaise, celery, sweet pickle relish, chopped boiled egg, pepper, and salt. It tastes amazing and requires little or no cooking. You can find all the ingredients for this recipe at your local Publix/Walmart. 

Read Old Fashion Potato  Salad from Allrecipes.

 

vitchakorn-koonyosying-494183-unsplash
Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying from Unsplash

9. Garden Salad

I love salads because they’re healthy and compliment any dish. I make fresh salad with chopped green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and smoked bacon pieces. Also, I season my salad with a little pepper, oregano, and Kraft’s Thousand Island Dressing. I buy all my ingredients from my local Kroger. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still haven’t decided which dish I’ll cook for Thanksgiving but hopefully I’ll get an idea soon. I told you all my side dish ideas. Tell me some side dishes you plan to make for this Thanksgiving.

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How I get my Ten-Month-Old to Sleep

Photo by Tara Raye on Unsplash

My fussy ten-month-old has a hard time falling asleep. She is teething and screams like a fire alarm every time I put her in her crib. Me and my husband have spent many sleepless nights trying new strategies to calm her down, but nothing has worked.

After thorough research, trial and error, and talking with my pediatrician, I figured out six ways to get my ten-month-old to sleep like a baby.

1. Make a Bedtime

Photo by Bastien Jaillot on Unsplash

I put my baby in her crib around the same time every night.

Giving my baby a set bedtime helped her get into the routine of going to sleep, which made sleep time less of a hassle. It also gives me time to get my five-year-old ready for bed and get other important things done.

Read The Truth about Putting your Baby on a Schedule by Happiest Baby to learn how to set a bedtime.

2. Cry it out

My pediatrician informed me that it was important for my baby to learn how to soothe herself to sleep by crying it out.

Initially, I hated this idea; however, it’s the most effective way of getting her to sleep at a particular time.

When doing the crying out method, you must lay your baby down in their bed thirty minutes to an hour earlier than their desired bedtime. This way your baby goes to sleep around the desired time rather than after it. Always make sure to check on your child every ten minutes.

I did this for a couple of weeks and she now naturally gets sleepy around her bedtime. Sometimes she’ll go to sleep without my help.

Read the article Baby Sleep Training: Cry it out Methods written by Baby Center for more info about the cry it out method.

3. Feed your Baby

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplashed

I always make sure I feed my baby before I put her to bed. When a baby is full they normally feel sleepier. This made bedtime go more smoothly. Make sure to feed your baby half an hour earlier than bedtime, so they can fully digest their food, which will prevent reflux.

4. Read a book

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Like an adult, a baby needs to unwind before going to bed. Often I will read a book to my baby and it helps her calm down and makes her feel sleepy.

5. Bathe your Baby

Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

 

I don’t bathe my daughter at night anymore since it’s fall season and cooler at night.

Normally, when I give my baby a bath, it makes her sleepy right away. Before fall came, I would bathe her right before bedtime, then put her down to sleep. She would sleep through the night without waking up.

There is even an Aveeno lavender body wash and lotion you can purchase that’s suppose to calm your baby.

6. Talk to your Doctor

Photo by Martin Brosy on Unsplash 

If your baby is teething like my daughter, you should consider consulting your pediatrician for possible medicinal options.

Teething causes your baby’s gums to be sore consequently causing them not to sleep. Pain medication can reduce your infants pain,  which helps them sleep better.

My doctor recently prescribed my baby ibuprofen and it has improved her sleeping.

Final Word

It’s important for your baby to get at least thirteen hours of sleep a day. So, make sure your little one takes at least hour naps in addition to bedtime every day.

Finding the right sleeping method for your baby takes time and patience. All the things I discussed above worked great for my baby but may not work for someone else. Please talk to your pediatrician before trying any new sleep routine with your baby.

 

 

Five Good Family Vacation Spots

This article was also posted on Just Always Traveling as a guest post.

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s a good idea to plan that perfect family vacation. As a mom with a family of four, it helps to have our trips planned in advance, so that everyone has a great time.

Below are five vacation spots great for families. Some of these are places I haven’t travelled to yet, but plan to visit in the future.

1. Great Wolf Lodge

Grat wolf lodge

This resort is great for families with small children because they have events and activities tailored to toddler and elementary aged children. Our family enjoyed our time there, especially since most of their fun-filled activities are free.

The Great Wolf Lodge has a gigantic indoor water park that includes water slides, pools, and water activities that are fun for adults and children.

My daughter’s favorite part of the water park was Fort Makenzie, the kiddie area. Features, such as the water slides, were safe for small children. There were water sprouts in front of the playground and my daughter enjoyed sticking hands in the water and walking through the streams.

The Great Wolf Lodge even has children-friendly events like the Jammie Jamboree where employees teach children dance moves to classic songs like, the La Macarena, Cha Cha Slide, and the Electric Slide (an activity my children loved!).

They also had an event called the Great Games Bing where the employees played games with the children that involved hula hooping, limbo, and dancing.

Other activities for children include; yoga, the magic game, an arcade, a playground and an activity room.

Forgot something? Don’t worry, because this resort provides personal items and beach towels. They also have stores that sell swimsuits, clothes, shoes, and accessories.

For a more detailed look, read Great Wolf Lodge Review from The Young Mom.

2. Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island
Photo from Flikr and taken by Matthew Blouir

If you love the outdoors then check out Jekyll Island. Me and my family have never been here but plan to go next summer.

For privacy, warm weather, and maximum enjoyment of the tranquil view, September is the best time to visit. It’s during the off-season, meaning less tourists in all the popular areas.

You can have a picnic at St. Andrews Beach Park while watching the birds and dolphins play, enjoy a guided tour of Ranger Park that includes education about local wildlife, and experience a 90 minute tour of the historic sites on a red tram.

Other activities include boating, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more.

Jekyll Island is home to the well-regarded restaurant, the Beach House, where they serve their signature Shrimp and Grits.

Read the Fall itinerary from Jekyll Island to see their current events.

3. City of Helen

Helen City
Photo from Pixabay and taken by paulbr75

Helen, GA is a great city to visit during the month of October.

Helen is hosting its 48th Oktoberfest starting September 6. With Germanic bands, hailing from all over the world, playing live on stage, and polka dancing in authentic Bavarian clothes, this festival boasts entertainment for the entire family.

The Oktoberfest has a variety of German style dishes that your family will love. The Bodonese restaurant serves lunch and dinner, and also has a bar during the Oktoberfest. For lunch they offer schnitzel, which is oven baked chicken schnitzel breaded with fried onions, mushrooms and bacon. At dinner time you can enjoy Hungarian goulash, wursts, and sauerbraten with potato dumplings and red cabbage.

This scenic locale has other family friendly activities like hiking, walking trails, and historic sites.

Read Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia to learn more about this event.

Hotels in Helen, Georgia from booking.com.

4. Callaway Gardens

Callaway
Photo from Flickr and taken by Tony Crescibene

Callaway Gardens is a great place to visit in November and December.

It has many beautiful attractions like their bike trail, gardens, and the butterfly exhibit for your family to explore. During the fall the leaves change colors making the gardens a beautiful sight.

They also have events like Fantasy In Lights, the Santa Claus shop, and carnival games which are great for the Christmas Holidays. My husband and my daughter went to see the Fantasy In Lights show in December and it was a magical experience.

At Callaway Gardens you can stay at the Mountain Creek Inn, lodge, cabin, or villa. I like Mountain Creek Inn because it includes everything you need such as WIFI, room service, personal items, mini-fridge, access to swimming pool, and onsite restaurants.

You and your family can eat a nice meal at the elegant Gardens Restaurant, where you can enjoy dishes like filet mignon and Chilean sea bass.

5. Lanier Islands

Lanier
Photo from Pixabay and taken by ChanhNguyen.

If you like nature and want to retreat from your daily routine visit Lanier Islands.

Here you can set up your tent and escape from technology as you enjoy the beauty of nature. You and your family can enjoy the tranquility of Lake Lanier and its breathtaking waterfalls.

For those with furry family members, Lanier Islands is pet friendly, so no need to leave your babies behind.

Lake Lanier also has a fancy resort called the Legacy Lodge. The lodge is conveniently located near two restaurants, a coffee shop, spa, gift shop, and a sea water lounging swimming pool.  

It has as a variety of activities for the family to do such as horseback riding, zip lining, golf, and water sports.

beach dawn dusk ocean
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Going on vacation is important because it’s a great way to spend time and bond with your family. Me and my family enjoyed every minute we spent at Callaway Gardens and the Great Wolf Lodge together.

I hope that you found my list of five vacation spots helpful. Which vacation spot did you like the best or what is your family’s favorite place to have a vacation?

 

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How to Cut your Grocery Spending in Half

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a study done on consumer expenditures in 2017, showed that the average American household (a family of three) spends around $7,700 annually on food, about $641 a month.

In the past, I spent about $400 a month on food alone for our family of four. I learned to reduce our spending to half ($200 a month) by doing five simple things.

1. Make a shopping list

shopping list
Photo by The Journal Garden | Vera Bitterer on Unsplash

Creating a shopping list can save you money and time.

It allows you to to know the price of all your groceries before you actually purchase them. If the groceries on your list go over your budget, you can make adjustments. You do this by deleting unimportant items or by substituting them with inexpensive items.

Also, having a list will prevent impulse buying. Since you know exactly what you need, you don’t have to wander around the store grabbing random items and spending ridiculous amounts of money.

Using a list can make your shopping quick and easy. For example, when I use my list, I can finish my shopping within 25 to 30 minutes. My list acts as a map that guides me through the store.

Read  Shopping with a Grocery List Saves You Time and Money and Improves Your Health! from Peak Ability to learn more about how a shopping list can save you money and time.

2. Drink water with your meals

Water
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You can pour yourself a glass of tap water from your sink and save money.

Water is cheaper than soft drinks, coffee, tea, and milk. I choose to drink water with my meals and it has saved me at least $10 a week. I can use the savings for gas or other expenses.

And if your water isn’t safe to drink, you can purchase an inexpensive water filter (faucet filtrations and pitchers) or bottled water.

Read Water Filter: How do They Work? to learn more about water filters.

3. Shop twice a month

groceries
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Small buys cost more than buying in bulk.

Normally, I would shop up to three times a week spending around a $100 each trip. I would buy things that I wanted rather than things I needed.

When I started buying everything I needed in bulk, twice a month, it saved me me around $100 per month.

Shopping bi-monthly can reduce impulse spending which can wreck your budget. The less trips you make to the store, the less chances you have to overspend.

To learn how to properly buy in bulk read The Ultimate Guide to Buying in Bulk from The Simple Dollar.

4. Prepare your own meals

cook
Photo by The Journal Garden | Vera Bitterer on Unsplash

Preparing your own meals is a great way to cut back on grocery expenses.

Via How much it cost to eat at Restaurants, dining out costs $12.15 per person. However, a homemade dinner for a family of four costs under $10.

Check out allrecipes.com for dinners you can prepare that cost under $10.

5. Eat everything in your pantry

food pantry
Photo by Claudia Viloria on Unsplash

Eat the food you already have in your pantry before buying more.

I used to buy new food before using what I had. I would forget about the old food, leaving it to expire, which resulted in me having to throw it out. Valuable dollars spent were wasted.

A great way to reserve your food longer would be freezing your meats and veggies, preferably in a deep freezer. Or making meals ahead of time. You can also donate your food to a food bank so it goes to a good cause.

It’s a waste of time and money to buy something that you’re not going to use, so it’s best to eat  everything you have to save money.

 

Saving money is hard work and it took me awhile to learn how to do it. So, I hope you found the five saving techniques above helpful.

Tell me what are some things that you do to cut back on grocery spending in the comment section below.

 

A Young Mom’s Weekend

If you’re not careful when walking through my living room, you may trip over a baby seat, or the small, plastic purple chairs crowding up the center of the floor.

Also, clothes in the dryer need to be folded and a dishwasher needs unloading.

As a twenty-four-year-old mom with two little girls, I’m always on my feet. Most of my time is spent running behind my seven-month-old, who just started crawling and my mischievous five-year-old, who tends to play with things other than her toys. Some days are so stressful that I want to pull my hair out. Most of the time my children pull it out for me. Fortunately, I have a lot of help, and I love taking care of my family.

Every mom has their own routine. My own daily routine always fluctuates due to my children being unpredictable.

Photo by Jake Givens on Unsplash

Mornings

Normally, I wake up to a crying baby at six. I change her diaper, feed her a bottle and sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll go back to sleep in about an hour.

If it’s the weekend, I get to sleep in, a real treat since this is the only time I actually get decent sleep. During the week, I must walk my five-year-old to the bus stop.

Sometimes, I make time to watch my favorite TV shows, such as America’s Got Talent and The Empire.

I spend the rest of my morning cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, picking up toys, and sweeping floors.

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

Breakfast

It’s breakfast time!

Usually, I cook scrambled eggs and toast for me and my five-year-old. I’ll make my husband breakfast, if he hasn’t left for work. I’ll feed the baby Gerber Rice cereal mix with formula and a little fruit. It takes about forty-five minutes to an hour to finish breakfast. We would finish faster if my seven-month old didn’t constantly get food all over her highchair and face.

After we’re finished eating, my five year old sometimes will help with dishes by bringing dirty plates or cups to me.

Afternoons

Throughout the day, I’m constantly changing diapers, fixing bottles, and catering to the needs of my five-year-old.

Her favorite snacks are strawberries and bananas, which is great because they’re easy to prepare and healthy.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Evenings

Currently, I try to take my children outside around five, because I live in Georgia and it’s too hot to take them out in the afternoons.

When I go outside, my baby will either sit in my lap, or her stroller, while my other daughter rides her bike, blows bubbles, and runs around the house giggling.

If it rains, I have several indoor activities we can do together, such as playing board games, dancing, making crafts, and singing.

My baby is usually satisfied with teething on her teething ring, while me and my five-year-old play.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Dinner

Dinner time is more relaxed. My husband has come home from work and helps me with the children. Also, the baby is asleep.

I spend the time before dinner sweeping, vacuuming, washing dishes and clothes.

Usually, I prepare dinner around six and serve it at eight.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Bedtime

After I have gotten my daughter ready for bed,

I do word and number flash cards with her. Then, I let her pick a book to read. Her two favorite books are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

While everyone is asleep, I try to get important things done such as making a shopping list, paying bills, checking for important dates or events.

What’s you routine?

That’s my daily routine in a nutshell. Let me know what your daily routine is in the comment section below.

8 Affordable Summer Activities for Families

Do you want to have fun this summer with your family without breaking your budget? Or maybe you’d rather enjoy your summer at home?

As a working mom I can relate to both of these ideas. I live paycheck to paycheck, so I save money whenever I can. Since I have two small children, I stay close to the house as much as possible.

Even though I spend most of my time at home with my children, I always keep them entertained with fun activities.

Here are eight affordable and creative activities that can be enjoyed all from the comfort of home.


1. Blow Bubbles

Blowing bubbles is fun for people of all ages, especially for small children. Creating and popping bubbles can keep them occupied far longer than many other activities. You can have a contest to see who blows the largest bubbles, the most bubbles, or even triple plus bubbles-bubbles within bubbles! My five-year-old loves using her bubble shooter and can literally spend hours running around shooting bubbles everywhere.

While this activity can be done inside or outside, it’s best if done outdoors since dripping, soapy water can be messy and children tend to spill. If you don’t want to go to the store to buy bubbles, you can make your own with dish soap and water. A bubble wand can be crafted from a bread tie, or a pipe cleaner. If you want to have the best bubbles, try this great recipe at Home Science Tools.

2. Karaoke

Music is a fun way to let loose. You can stream music from YouTube through your TV or phone and while a microphone is nice, you don’t really need one. You can just pretend to have a mic, or you can craft a play mic. Check out this project at DIY with Ollie. Not only will your kids have a blast making the mic, they will probably love the video! The KARAOKE Channel at YouTube has these Karaoke for Kids songs you can try.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

3. Dance

Dancing is fun, and it won’t cost you a dime. There are plenty great dance songs for families. Classic songs like the Macarena, Electric Slide, Y.M.C.A., and Cha Cha Slide have easy dances moves that anyone can do. Some modern dance songs that are also easy to move to are Gangnam Style and Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).

You can buy a dance video game like Just Dance 2018 for PlayStation 4, which allows you to dance to many different songs. This game lets up to 4 people play at once. My family loves playing this game, because we can do it together.

4. Watch a movie

Watching a movie at home with your family can be a fun and relaxing way to spend time together. If you have small kids like me, there are plenty of family movies like Paddington 1 and 2, Coco, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets.

You can enjoy the movies on DVD, or movie sites like Netflix. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie from the comfort and safety of home. You can even have pre-movie trivia or a movie related game before the show, just like in the theatre.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

5. Make Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are not only fun, you can create lasting mementos of your summer with your family. You can make things like tin wind chimes, necklaces, bracelets, and much more. Finger painting is also a great activity to do outside with the family.

My daughter and I love to paint with watercolors and draw pictures with crayons. She also enjoys easy origami, like airplanes, cats, and cars. If you need more ideas for arts and crafts check out this video:  20 Summer Kids Crafts.

6. Board Games

Board games are an affordable fun activity that anyone can do. There are lots of great board games like Monopoly, Uno, The Game of Life, Scrabble, and Operation, just to name a few.

I like playing board games because they reduce our screen time. We focus on the games and interacting with each other rather than our phones.

7. Sports

Everyone can benefit from a little exercise. Sports are a fun way to burn calories and tone muscles. I try to play simple sports like basketball with my daughter since she is only five. Often we just shoot hoops into a miniature basketball goal.

Sports like tennis, volleyball, soccer, and baseball are great for families with older children. Playing sports is a great way get out of the house and get some exercise with the family–not to mention you can soak in Vitamin D.

If the weather or disability doesn’t allow for outdoors, there are m-sports video games like bowling, boxing, golf, and even darts.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

8. Exercise

If you are like me and like working out, you should consider exercising with your family as a summer activity. Often when my I do my kickboxing workouts my daughter will join along. She doesn’t do all the moves perfectly, but it is adorable to watch her punch and kick the air.

I also like taking walks with my husband around the neighborhood. Other great workouts for families are jogging, cycling, yoga, and Pilates.

Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

Try to take time to turn off your phones and have fun in the sun! Let me know which activity was your favorite in the comment section, or share an activity that you and your family like to do together.

Great Wolf Lodge Review

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As a working mom, I don’t usually get to enjoy expensive resorts.

We live in Lagrange, Georgia, and when the Great Wolf Lodge resort opened recently, my husband and I decided to spend our rare weekend getaway there with our two small children.

Georgia’s first Great Wolf Lodge, which includes 456 guest suites, opened May 30, 2018. The resort includes a gigantic indoor water park that is 93,000 square feet.

It has opened 600 job opportunities in Lagrange and is expected to have 500,000 guests annually.

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My jaw dropped in amazement when we first walked into the lobby.

The grand lobby had a cabin style look. Guests were lounging and chatting in a variety of brown leather sofas and wooden rocking chairs. I couldn’t wait to join them!

There were even leather toddler-sized sofas. A big rug with shapes triangular and square shapes covered the wood plank porcelain floor.

Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and a brick fireplace was centered in the lobby. The furniture sat facing the fireplace which, made me feel like I was in a warm log cabin.

Exquisite pictures of dark and light green trees decorated the upper part of the wooden walls. I liked the look of the lobby, it made me feel like I was at home.

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The staff warmly greeted us when we first came in. A young front-desk agent complimented my daughter and gave her furry gray wolf ears to wear.

We did have a slight problem checking in.  My husband had to be identified by his credit card before we could access our suite. He lost his original credit card the day before.

However, the staff manager quickly resolved the problem by charging our replacement card and refunding us the money charged previously.

After we checked-in, the staff gave us an itinerary that listed a map of the hotel, a list of available daily activities, and restaurants and shops in the resort. We received purple wrist bands that allowed us to access to our suite and make purchases.

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We ordered the least expensive option online (the Great Wolf  Lodge website), the Queen Deluxe, which included two full-sized beds, full bath, twin size sofa sleeper, mini-fridge, TV,  coffee maker, and a hair dryer.

Other options were Family Suite, Wolf Den Suite, Kid Cabin, Deluxe Wolf Den, and the Grizzly Bear suite. These suites include the similar amenities as the Queen Deluxe suite except they have more space, a cabin or cave theme, high-speed internet, and bunk beds.

The room we ordered was clean and beautiful. It had a simple unadorned modern style with an outdoors theme.  The furniture included a green, round dining table with two red wooden chairs , a comfortable oversized dark-brown leather loveseat, and there was even a toy chest for the kids.

All the furniture was modern and  perfectly shaped with clean straight lines. I like walking on the soft carpet floor.

A wallpaper of a forest decorated the wall behind the beds. It made me feel like I was outside camping. In the mini-fridge, two complimentary bottles of Dasani water waited for us.

We were able to relax anywhere in the room and view our favorite programs on the flat-screen TV.

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We were given a choice of a shower or a bathtub when we ordered the room. We wanted a bathtub for the kids.

I didn’t think I could love a bathroom, but I did! It had a classic white soaking tub. The bathtub’s spa-like shower head created steam during the shower. The floor was a wood plank porcelain like the floor in the lobby.

The fluffy, white-cotton towels felt amazing on my skin.

Also, the room included a line of Great Wolf Lodge personal items such as lemon ginger body soap and shampoo/conditioner, Aloe Vera body lotion, and a lemon ginger facial bar. But we did have to bring our own toothpaste.

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The resort’s water park is really why we decided to vacation at Great Wolf Lodge. Towels were provided by staff and there were lockers available for rent. There are showers and changing rooms.

water slidePhoto from Great Wolf Lodge media kit.

The Great Wolf Lodge has more than seven different, breathtaking water slides! Triple Thunder, River Canyon Run, and Rapid Racer allow multiple sliders to go down all at once.

The slides are enormous and once at the top, you are given a blow up float or small plastic round boat for sliding down. The trip down was a adrenaline rush that ended with a big splash.

These slides are perfect for larger families or couples, but they aren’t the safest option for children younger than seven. I rode down alone because while our four-year-old stayed with my husband.

Otter Run and Wolf Trail are for solo sliders, and while The Otter has slower slide motion making it more kid friendly, it still took my breath away. I had to lay flat on my back with my arms crossed in front of my chest while sliding down. I held my nose, because you land in a pool at the end and I hate getting water up my nose.

On Wolf Trail, you must stand in an enclosed tube. The attendant instructs you to cross your arms across your chest, and when they press a button, the floor drops out. Make sure you hold your nose here, too, because the water spews as you jet down this gigantic slide.
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Fort Mackenzie is a great water playground for kids of all ages. Children can use fun devices to spray their friends and family with water and there are many small water slides.

My kids loved to watch the huge bucket hanging above the playground that slowly filled up with water. When the water reached the brim, the bucket tipped and splashed everyone in the playground.

There are water sprouts in front of the playground and children love to stick their hands in the water or walk through the streams.

If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, there is a large swimming pool outside of the water park with beach chairs.

A warm, bubbly Jacuzzi waits for those 21 and older that includes massaging jets to help you relax.

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The resort features an exciting arcade called Northern Lights that has many different, fun games.

There are racing games, challenges of strength, and old favorites like Galaga and air hockey. Children love the mini-carousel and whacking Krabby Patties in the SpongeBob whack-a-mole style game.

We loved the zombie shooter that had a real water gun! Also, there were games of dexterity where you can toss balls at funny clown pins, or bean bags into holes. Our children loved these.

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The Wolf Lodge has 10 delicious restaurants to choose from.

They have fast-food restaurants like Dunkin Donuts, Hungry as a Wolf pizza parlor, Buckets Incredible Craveables, and Timber Tacos and the Campfire Kitchen buffet.

Adults enjoy sipping alcoholic beverages at The Watering Hole and The Outpost. I brought my own food but me and my family liked eating cinnamon powdered donuts from Dunkin Donuts.

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If you forgot your swimsuit or need any extra clothing, there are a variety of shops.

Paddle Bay Outfitters offer a nice selection of swimwear and other water-related goods.

Buckhorn Exchange Gift Shop has souvenirs and Camp H.O.W.L Kids Store is a store that caters to children and has teddy bears, clothing, hats, and other child-sized items.

Visit the Great Wolf Candy Company for sweet treats. You can buy items for your trip before you arrive from Great Wolf Lodge online store.

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We loved that the Lodge had so many fun-filled activities for small children. Most activities were free, but some did have a cost; however, we thought the free activities were more fun.

Yoga trails

Yoga trails involves a yoga instructor teaching young children several different yoga poses. It is a great way to get your child active in a fun way.

This activity only happens early in the morning around 8:30 a.m. So make sure you set your alarm clocks so you don’t miss it.

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Character Appearance

This activity can be fun for children of any age. The Wolf Lode has 10  fuzzy characters that include a Wiley wolf, Violet wolf, Oliver raccoon, Rachel raccoon, Sammy squirrel, Brinley bear, Spec the owl, Sprinkles the bear, and the beaver brothers Tooth and Nail.

Currently, you can only see Wiley the wolf and Violet at Georgia’s Great Wolf. These fuzzy creatures come out to play around 4:30 in the afternoon.

My daughter met Violet the wolf and violet was shy but friendly. She loved Violet so much she got her face painted like her.

Great Games Bingo

The Great Game Bingo starts at 6 in the evening and lasts about 30 minutes.

At this event, the employees play fun games for children in the lobby that involves hula hooping, limbo, and dancing. My daughter had a blast playing with children and making new friends.
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Jammie Jamborie

The Jammie Jamborie was my daughter’s favorite activity.

Wolf Lodge employees would play classic songs and dance to them, while getting parents and children to follow along. They play songs like the Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide, and La Macarena.

This is an activity adults and children can take part in. It’s a great time to show your children your dance moves. I recorded my daughter with my phone as she danced with children and employees.
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Fun room

Small children will enjoy the fun room  because it has several fun activities and toys.

In the fun room your children can get their face painted by artist as whatever animal they want. My daughter got her face painted like a wolf and she loved it.

Children can enjoy decorating their wolf ears with stickers made like dinosaurs, diamonds, flowers, hearts and more. Additionally, there is a dollhouse made like a log that children can play in.

Conveniently, there is a playground outside of the fun room that is appropriate for elementary aged children.

They have fun worksheets such as word puzzles, word crosses, coloring sheets, and connect the dots.
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So, if you are looking for an affordable resort for your family, check out Great Wolf Lodge. We enjoyed every minute of our weekend stay.

The Lodge made it easy by providing everything we needed to relax (except toothpaste).

The water park had something for everyone and our small children had more than enough fun activities that were also educational.

We give the Great Wolf Lodge a 10 out of 10 rating and plan to go back the next chance we get.