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Hotel Cascada Waterpark and Living Social Review Part 2

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We had an interesting experience with Hotel Cascada in Albuquerque, New Mexico and with the deal site Living Social. I will be doing this review in 2 parts so it’s not as long. This portion covers our experience with Living Social and Part 2 covers our experience with Hotel Cascada. You can find Part 2 about our problematic Living Social experience here: Hotel Cascada Waterpark and Living Social Review Part 1.

That Thursday we had set up to go to the Waterpark. Their hours for that day were from 4pm-9pm. We arrived before 4pm and could not figure out where to park. Their signs for the Waterpark were pointing to an area where people staying in the hotel park, and their was no entrance for the Waterpark on that side. We ended up driving around until I finally went back out front and parked in their front lot. We didn’t know how to get to the Waterpark so when I called I was told just to go in the front of the hotel and ask for help. The woman at the front desk, blonde with a slightly foreign accent, told us to go straight, turn, go to the second floor, and go across the walkway. She was not very friendly or helpful. We missed where we were supposed to turn, went back, and did end up finding it. There are no signs posted as to where you go to pay for passes or pick things up. We ended up going downstairs and asking at the lifeguard station, only to be told to go back upstairs to the snack bar to pay. I think that should have been clearly displayed on a sign.

We had to wait in a long line, and when we finally got our turn, the girl said there were no passes for us! They said they would try to track down Patrick and in the mean time we got to stand around even more. I finally got tired of waiting and called the front desk. Luck would have it that I got the SAME unpleasant front desk woman who talked to me like I was an idiot. While trying to explain to her who I was trying to locate and why, a man walking by turned around and said he was the one who was going to help us. I hung up on our front desk friend, and he told me that Patrick had told him to arrange the passes and he forgot. He got our passes for us without us having to stand in line again thankfully! He also gave us a few locker tokens as well, which was very nice since we didn’t ask for him to do so. He gave us a small tour since I told him we had never been before, and showed us where things were. He wasn’t my idea of super outgoing but he was nice enough and accommodating.

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The Waterpark is all indoors except for half of the hot tub which is indoors and outdoors. The activities are limited to a few things: a kiddie area with playground type of equipment and two slides,  a pool type area with two basketball hoops and a climbing area, a large lazy river, a hot tub, and two tall water slides. This may seem like a lot until you’re there for more than an hour and have already done everything. For me, it didn’t offer a lot but my daughter really loved it and had a great time! Kids seem to be entertained with a lot less than us adults which is really nice sometimes.

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They provide life jackets for kids who can’t swim which was a great thing to offer. When I had called I was told not to bring anything, that they provide everything. However, we saw many people who had brought their own floaties and inner tubes. The life jackets were too big for my daughter and floated up under her chin rubbing it raw even when we changed to a smaller size. Their inner tubes are HUGE and fit an adult well, but small kids not so much. If we ever go back, we will be taking her floaties and small inner tube.

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They have two types of water slides: one you go down on your own and one you go down in an inner tube. Since my daughter is so small I wanted us to go down together in the double inner tube with two tubes attached. We got to do that only once because they only had two of the double tubes available. I think they need to have a lot more of them for guests because the place was full of people and I’m sure many wanted to ride together. We had to go down the rest of the times in separate tubes, but my kiddo still enjoyed it. The water slides go through the outside of the building and then shoot you back into a pool inside of the building that is connected to the lazy river. When you go through the parts outside the tubes are super hot and humid! We skipped the slide you go down without a tube because my daughter couldn’t take a life jacket and she can’t swim well enough to be without one.

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The lazy river was my daughter’s favorite part. We went through many, many times, so many that I lost count! She even made a couple friends there and had fun going through with them over and over. We went through so many times that we knew exactly how to go through without getting as soaked! They have areas with water spraying at you from different directions, areas where water drops on you like rain and feels a bit like hail when it hits you, areas where water dumps on you from the top, and areas where you get pushed through the water by what feels like small waves. I recommend going through with an inner tube to make it easier to navigate and easier to hide from falling and spraying water.

The hot tub was nice for me during the times I got cold. I’d sit in the 2 foot deep kiddie pool/play area while my daughter played for a while, and then we’d make a stop at the hot tub to warm me up. It’s nice that it has an opening to go outside so you can sit in the hot water and feel the sun on your skin. My daughter got a mouthful of their water several times in several areas, which is not surprising. but she said it tasted a lot better than the pool water at our complex, so that’s a plus! The climbing area connected to the basketball hoops consisted of large foam shapes that my daughter said looked like jewels, and a net above. The foam jewels are connected to the bottom of the pool by a rope so it’s hard to keep your balance on them even holding onto the net. It was fun for her to try to go across without falling off and she did it quite a few times!

They closed the water slides down about 8:30-8:40. They closed the whole Waterpark down at 8:50. If the hours say till 9pm, they shouldn’t close anything until then. They do provide towels there as well which is handy so you don’t have to lug around your own. They don’t allow outside food or drinks though, which is a hassle, but we took a water bottle with us anyway. Mostly we had a good time and enjoyed it. There were a few problems and things I felt they could have done better, and I did get tired with the limited activities there, but for my little girl it was an awesome time – and in the end that’s what really matters! She told me she had a fantastic time and she didn’t want to leave. She loved being there and only left the play area once in the 4/12 hours of playing… but only to go to the bathroom!. I am disappointed they wouldn’t work with our vouchers and that we had to endure weeks of hassle just to get to go, but it was a fun night for her and that was my goal!

If you are staying in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and I’m not sure why you would want to…) this would be a fun place to stay so the kids can get a Waterpark trip in as well. I don’t know their hotel prices as we were just there for the Waterpark, but you can check them out and see if it’s worth it. Do beware of possible lacking customer service though! If you do have problems with them make sure you contact someone in charge and skip the non-in charge staff.

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Rio Kids Movie $2.99 + Free Shipping On Amazon Today!

Today on Amazon you can get Rio the kids movie for only $2.99 plus free shipping! The prices on Amazon can change so get it fast! 🙂

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Handmade Hairbow Holder

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My little girl has a lot of hairbows. I’m sure many little girls do! I had seen plenty of handmade hairbow holders but the prices were ridiculous in my opinion, especially since I knew I could do it myself. I started off getting a cute wooden butterfly shape from Hobby Lobby. You could use foam or felt shapes as well. Just make sure it can handle bows hanging from it. You’ll also need pretty ribbon. My little girl *loves* cheetah print so that’s what I used. And you’ll need a hot glue gun, and a smaller ribbon to make a loop on top to hang the holder.

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Cut your ribbon the length you want. Our shape was big enough for two ribbons so I didn’t make them very long. I used wired ribbon but regular ribbon works just as well.

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Hot glue the ribbon to the back of your shape. Make sure you glue enough of it onto the back to make it sturdy enough to hold your bows. Then glue the smaller ribbon in a loop on the top of your shape to hang your bow holder from. I also folded over the ends of the ribbon at the bottom and hot glued it to keep it from fraying.

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Finished bow holder! 🙂 This took me about 5 minutes to make and it was super simple. It will be a big help in organizing my daughter’s bows!

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No Bake Felt Cookies for Kids!

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I love kids crafts, especially ones that are easy to make. I finished this project, posted it on my local homeschool group and am now posting it here all within an hour. This really is a simple one to make, it costs very little, and it’s fun for kids to play with! 🙂

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Step 1 – You’ll need a tan felt sheet and two other felt sheets in different colors. My kiddo picked out light pink for the icing and dark pink for the sprinkles, which is great if you make it a Valentine’s day project. She just likes pink. 🙂 You’ll also need scissors, a pen to trace the hearts, two different sized heart cookie cutters and a jar for your sprinkles.

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Step 2 – Cut all around the edges of your tan sheet of felt making it curved to look like cookie dough. Keep it pretty big because you’ll want to be able to cut out several cookies.

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Step 3 – Trace the larger sized heart cookie cutters on the tan fabric. Three or four will fit well without it being too crowded.

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Step 4 – Cut out all your hearts but you’ll need to keep both the sheet and the cookies so cut them out without cutting up the sheet. Three of four cookies will look good without being using up too much of the sheet.

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Step 5 – Trace the smaller heart cookie cutter on your second sheet of felt. Our smaller cookie cutter had wavy sides but I was still able to trace a heart shape and cut it out with straight sides. This will be your icing.

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Step 6 – Cut out enough icing for each cookie and place them on top of your cookies. Look yummy enough yet? 🙂

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Step 7 – Use your third sheet of felt to make sprinkles. You can make them whatever size you like, I made ours longer so they’d be easier to use and easier to clean up. I cut a strip off the sheet of felt so I could use the leftover felt for another project.

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Step 8 – Make enough sprinkles to top each cookie plus some extras, and put them in the jar for sprinkles. You can label the jar so kiddos know where to put their sprinkles away when they are done. 🙂

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Step 9 – Add a rolling pin and a cutting board and you have a full cooking making set! You’re done! 🙂  Now your kids can “make” their cookies by putting the cookies back on the sheet and “cut” them out with the cookie cutters. For extra fun you can make different colors for icing and sprinkles so they can mix it up each time!

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Homemade Felt Horse

My daughter loves all things horses. As I was going through old emails to clean out my newsletter folder (yikes!) I found an email showing an activity involving sewing buttons on a felt pillow for children to practice doing buttons. Now I feel it is very valuable for children to learn tasks like that, but I think it’s a bit silly to waste materials when you can just give them a button up shirt on a hanger and let them practice. My daughter learned how to use buttons by doing it herself on her clothing. She’s gotten faster at in in time and I saved on materials. I like some of the Montessori concepts, but some of them can be accomplished with items already in the home. For the green me that is super important because I don’t like to waste things. So I decided just to make her a felt animal, and horse was the first option that came to mind. I found a picture of a horse online with a good body shape for tracing, printed out the picture and then cut out the horse.

Start with a picture cut out to trace

Next up I asked my daughter what colors she wanted her horse. She chose pink for one side and yellow for the other. So I laid my horse paper on the pink felt and traced it with the head facing right (I took the picture above before switching it around), and then traced it on the yellow paper with the head facing left. This way I could put the sides with ink on them from tracing facing each other on the inside.

Pick your first color of felt to trace it on

After I had traced the horse on each piece of felt I cut them out. I put them together with the inked side facing in and trimmed any areas I needed to so they would match almost perfectly.

After tracing I cut out each piece

I picked out green and yellow thread, my daughter’s two favorite colors, and did a little of each while sewing the horse up. I didn’t do anything fancy, and I sewed it all by hand. I prefer to sew some of her projects that way because I enjoy sitting down and spending time relaxing while I sew. She sat next to me doing school work – domestic bliss!

For the second piece make sure to trace facing the opposite direction!

Since I didn’t have any fluff on hand for stuff the horse, I improvised. I took some old sock and cut them into strips and squares to use for stuffing. It didn’t really need to be super soft since she’s going to play pretend with it more that cuddle with it. I used two of the ankle socks for women. They worked out nicely and I love reusing things!

Begin sewing pieces together – I did it by hand

There were smaller areas such as the legs that were easier to stuff as I sewed, that way I wasn’t trying to fill them from one top opening. So I stuffed the legs and then sewed the tail, and I stuffed that as I sewed as well. And as I sewed up the back I stuffed the horses bottom and stomach. This just made it easier since I wasn’t using something like fluff, which is much more pliable.

Add stuffing as you go especially with smaller parts

This is the pink side of her horse, fully stuffed and all sewed up! She absolutely loved it! 🙂 I think my daughter prefers the toys I make her and her wooden toys over anything else. The yarn dolls I made for her get lots of use still.

Finished pink side 🙂

And this is the yellow side of the horse. I love how it turned out honestly, and it really wasn’t that hard. You just need two paper size pieces of felt, scissors, thread, a needle, stuffing and a print out of the animal shape you want to do. She’s already asked me to make her more animals so I’m looking forward to that! 🙂

Finished yellow side 🙂

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How To Make Yarn Dolls

Messy yarn dolls with hair
(picture from Google search)

Recently in one of my searches for fun homemade crafts to do with my daughter, I discovered a lovely pictures of yarn dolls. My daughter saw them and got so excited, asking me to please, please make her some 🙂 I looked online and found a lot of instructions for making them. I put together my own instructions with what I found, and I’m sharing it with you below.

Thick yarn doll
(picture from Google search)

To start with, you need any color of yarn, you can use different colors for different parts if you like, scissors, a piece of cardboard or a book. I used yarn that was a mixture of colors. The length of cardboard or book will the the length of your girl doll. With the boy doll you need something about 2 inches longer, because when you braid his legs you loose length. Here are some size guidelines: Large 16 1/2 inches, Medium 9 inches, Small 7 inches. Now for the yarn, I had no idea what kind of yarn to get. I ended up getting something thinner than usual so I had to wrap it a lot more times. I wrapped mine 100 times, and our dolls were good sized, but a little thin. With a thicker yarn you can wrap less or more, some instructions suggest wrapping it 200 times. This is up to you to decide how thick you want your dolls.

Put your string under the yarn to tie it off at the top
(picture from aokcorral.com)

You start by taking putting the cut side of the yarn at the top of your board/book. Wrap around it, so it is tucked under the pieces of yarn you are wrapping. Wrap the board as many times as you want for the thickness/thinness you want in your dolls. Once you are finished wrapping, cut the string and tuck it under the pieces you’ve wrapped, just like you did with the beginning piece. Cut another piece of yarn, about 10 inches long, and slide the piece under one side you have wrapped. Then pull the two ends together to tie a knot at the top of the board/book, holding all of the wrapped yarn. This will be the top bow for the girl doll, or you can make a loop to hang your dolls on, or just tie it off and cut it for the boy doll.

Remove yarn from board
(picture from littleaustinite.com)

And tie at neck to give doll a head
(picture from littleaustinite.com)

Carefully slip the yard off of the board/book. Cut another piece of yarn 10 inches long. This second piece will be used to make the head of the doll. You can make your doll’s head any size, most are usually 1-2 inches. You can make a head two ways: Just take the string, put it 1 inch below the tie on top, and tie it off to make the head. Or you can make a small ball of yarn to go in the middle of the area you are making for the head to give it more thickness and firmness. Once you’ve tied this knot, make it into another bow for the girl doll, or tie it off and cut it for the boy doll.

Take the cut piece and braid it
(picture from aokcorral.com)

Next you will make the arms. You can make your doll’s arms the same length as your doll or a little shorter. You want to wrap the board/book half the times you did for the body. This time tie the yarn off about 1 inch from the edge of the board. Cut about a half way from where you tied and the edge of the board. Remove the tied yarn. Divide the yarn into 3 sections and braid it to the bottom, tying it off about a 1/2 inch from the bottom. Now, if you want longer strands at the end, you can do so. Just tie the yarn on the board/book 1 inch above the edge, then cut at the edge, not above it, and when you are finished braiding it tie the end 1 inch from the bottom. The nice thing about these dolls is you can vary them however suits you! (With the girl doll, I cut the piece in half and tied off both ends to that I could use the other piece for the boy’s arms. This was much easier for me.)

Split the yarn loop in the middle and slide the arms in
(picture from aokcorral.com)

Once you have finished the braid and tied the end off, find the middle and tie it off 1/2 inch from the middle on each side. Then cut the braid in the middle, between the two ties. Now you have 2 sets of arms – one for each doll. I feel this is a better way to do it because it saves you yarn and time, you only have to braid arms once. Now open up your doll in the middle of the yarn loops under her neck tie. Put the arms in that opening and close the yarn over them. Lift the doll’s arms up so you can tie under the arms tight enough so the arms don’t come out. Take another 10 inch piece of yarn, and tie it as close under the body with the arms as you can. For the girl doll make another bow, for the boy doll tie it and cut it close.

My finished girl doll!

Next cut the loops at the bottom of the doll’s body. If this is a girl doll – you’re done! She’s adorable and ready to be loved and played with. If you think her arms might not stay in well, you can always sew them to the back of her yarn body a little, same with the boy doll. Now, if you are making a boy doll you aren’t done yet. You need to split the bottom part of the body you just cut, into 2 equal sections. Braid each section, making 2 braided legs. Tie off the legs 1/2 inch from the bottom. Now – you’re done! You have successfully made a boy girl and a girl doll! 🙂

My finished girl and boy dolls!

Do not worry if your dolls aren’t perfect! Mine sure weren’t! But my daughter didn’t care one bit, she took them and happily played with them. These make wonderful gifts, and I feel they mean so much more because they were handmade. I feel anything you make has more value because you put your time, energy and love into something for another person. 🙂

Finished thick yarn dolls with hair
(picture from aokcorral.com)

You can make varieties of these dolls, making a girl doll with braided legs if you’d like, adding yarn hair, adding embellishments to the body, etc. These are created by you so add to them what you like!

I made our girl doll first and my daughter was beyond thrilled! 🙂 She absolutely adored her. When I made the boy doll, she spent the evening playing with the both of them continually. She truly enjoyed the dolls and still does! This is an awesome and simple handmade gift that is extra special because YOU made it just for them!

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