Great Wolf Lodge Resort Review

What is the most family fun + allergy friendly hotel we have ever been to?

Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells.ย 

The Great Wolf Lodgeย located in the Wisconsin Dells has been around since the mid-1990’s. As a kid, we visited the then named “Black Wolf Lodge” as a family over summer breaks. This amazing, family-friendly resort was developed by the Watermans, a well-known Wisconsin Dells family.ย  The Watermans have roots that date back into the late 1800’s of developing successful service industry related businesses.

This past Friday, Chloe had off of school, so she got to pick what to do for the day. She choose a water park. It was cloudy, cold and sleety, a perfect day to escape the Wisconsin elements in a warm water park.

It only took us 45 minutes to get to, which is a nice get-away, not to far, but far enough with kids asking, “Are we there yet?”

Upon arrival, the kids (yes, we pulled Carter from school early to come, too) were greeted with these adorable wolf ears (headbands) as we were checking into our room. Our wrist bands were also our rooms keys, so that was an added bonus of not having to constantly wonder where the keys were! The wrist bands also gave us access to the water park for our stay.


Our room wasn’t quite ready, but we had access to the water park + amenities. An email would be sent to my phone once it was ready.

We went to the car to get our swim gear. As soon as we did, I got the email that our room was ready! We could get settled in our room a bit and change in our own space. The kids found the room first, which was located on the first floor, close to the arcade, locker rooms and stairs to go up to the lobby. This was a PERFECT location for little legs. Not too much walking around, like some other water park resorts we have been to.

The kids opened the door to the room and were BLOWN AWAY!


To hear their little voices squeal with excitement over their hotel stay was heart-warming. They were excited so we were excited.

We had a wolf den suite that included this adorable bunk bed area. It’s semi-private so we could still watch TV while the kids slept. The kids also had their own TV in their wolf den ๐Ÿ™‚

The rest of the room was standard, not fancy, but well-kept and nice. Usually at water park hotels that see high volumes of guests, things can get run down easily, especially the bathroom area. I’m a picky when it comes to a nice bathroom. It has to have a decent shower and vanity/sink.

We very quickly changed and headed to the water park.


After some fun, we decided it was dinner time. The restaurant near the lobby, Lodge Wood Fired Grill, was completely nut-free, and I almost lost my mind. An entire layer of stress gone. So grateful. Chloe could order anything she wanted on the menu, a rare occurrence for us dining out! The kids menu was large, and the adult menu was wonderful, we had a hard time choosing!


Carter was fading fast…..


The water park really tired out both kids! We saw a cute little shop called Bear Paw Sweets and Treats. We fell in love instantly with their Enjoy Life stand of “safe” snacks for Chloe. Carter is a supportive brother, and also chose to have Enjoy Life cookies for dessert so Chloe would not feel left out. But I think they just genuinely like the way Enjoy Life brand desserts taste! I mean, I do!


On the Great Wolf website, they make this statement:

Allergy Awareness

Great Wolf Lodge dining facilities do not serve peanut or tree nut products, but some of our products may be manufactured in facilities that also process nuts.

Carter was exhausted and went to bed, but Chloe wanted to stay up and hear story time and play trivia and have her face painted like a wolf!


The young woman who led the child-based activities did a WONDERFUL job relating to the kids and keeping them engaged.


Trivia night was a success! The kids enjoyed guessing the correct answers while raising their flags. The winning teams won small prizes.ย  Trivia was right before story time and the lobby was PACKED. I highly recommend getting to story time about 15 minutes prior to it’s start time near the clock tower. You definitely want a good seat to see the pages!


Chloe and I snuggled during story time, then she got to meet the character! Too cute. She loved it so much and told me several times how much fun she was having. All of the extra activities added so much to our trip. Other hotels do not offer this. These personal experiences make Great Wolf feel like a boutique hotel, and not just some generic water park hotel.

The next day, we had breakfast again upstairs at the Lodge which was great. We even had the same waitress who remembered the kids, she was sweet. In fact, everyone we met was wonderful and helpful.

We are so grateful for the Great Wolf Lodge, and their allergy awareness. It takes a level of stress off that us allergy families really appreciate. When we were waiting for story time to start, I met several families with food allergies, one with our exact allergies, which was nice, in a way? We shared our stories, our struggles, our epi pen advice, etc. It’s a connection that happens instantly when you meet another allergy family, and you feel so much empathy for these people because you know exactly what they are going through and you relate to so much. We saw so many moms and dads with epi pens tucked in back pockets, purses, diaper bags. Epi pens were literally EVERYWHERE!

We will be back, Great Wolf! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Awesome memories made.


P.S. Buffalo Phil’s across the parking lot is also allergy friendly. They had an entire peanut and tree nut free menu, where Chloe FINALLY got to order an actual dessert at a restaurant!!! She had the fried ice cream and it was incredible! It was also as big as her head, and the four of us demolished TWO of them! Well, that’s what mini-vacations are for!




Omni Hotel Chicago Review


Two weeks ago we had the privilege of staying at the Omni Hotel Chicago for Chloe’s 7th Birthday celebration! It was wonderful and I wanted to share with you why we selected this property.

  1. It offered an American Girl Package: including an American Girl Doll travel bed, slippers, bath robe, PJ’s, welcome note, special treats and free breakfast.
  2. Since it’s winter and we were walking, we wanted something close to the actual store/cafe. This hotel was two blocks from the American Girl Doll store. Easy for the kids to walk.
  3. The price point was nice. Literally, the amount of American Girl Doll items probably added up to be at least $100. The hotel room itself was pretty inexpensive for Chicago standards on the weekend.
  4. All the rooms are suites, so everyone had a bed to sleep in comfortably and there was a separate TV area so the grownups didn’t have to go to bed at 8, too.
  5. Swimming Pool!
  6. Understood food allergies!
  7. Valet was included with American Girl package
  8. On-site dining
  9. Kid-friendly turn down service
  10. Easy on/off I-90

We love how 1-90 just plops you out on to Ohio Street in the middle of the city. It was just a few blocks to our hotel on Michigan + Huron.ย  When we pulled up to Omni, everyone was super helpful and great with the kids making sure they were safely tucked inside the hotel so we could unload the car.

We checked in, found our room, checked out the pool area + decided to shop a bit. Everything we needed was within about a 5 block radius of the hotel. After shopping + coffee we headed to the American Girl Cafe. The food was OK but the service and attention to allergies was incredible.


When we got back to the hotel later in the evening, the hotel staff greeted my daughter by her first name and remembered it was her Birthday. She was feeling extra, extra special!

Turn down service came and brought mini milks and cookies for the kids. The cookies weren’t safe, but we were prepared for that part. Chloe did enjoy the boxed milk, though. A TV in the kids room + in the living room, we all settled in and watched a movie before going to bed.


The next day we took advantage of their in-house restaurant 676. They had a great buffet and nut-free pancakes. It was a beautiful snowy morning and the huge restaurant windows made it fun to watch the city become blanketed in white fluffy snow.


We would stay here again. The location is wonderful and the renovations they have made are beautiful!

Thank you, Omni, for making our little girls birthday so special!


Skiing & Nut Allergies

The kids have been asking to ski for quite a while and now that they are a little older, 7 and 4.5, we decided to invest in youth ski helmets, goggles, and gear. There is a ski hill about 45 minutes from where we live, Cascade Mountain and their ski school had amazing reviews online, so we tried it.


Cascade Mountain is a ski area that I grew up loving in my teens and early twenties and it holds many great family memories. Showing my littles how to ski and enjoy this outdoor sport has filled me with utter joy.

We chose to register online for Cascade Kids Ski School since their website is easy to use. Just make sure you click all the boxes to “check out” once your cart is filled. Each lesson is about 3 hours long with one 30 minutes snack break, snack provided.

Of course, it’s winter, SOMEBODY was sick, my little buddy Carter woke up not feeling well. The hubs and I decided who would say + go. It was deemed “Girls Day” and Chloe and I headed out with the truck (fresh snow!) to Cascade.

When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised with how ORGANIZED ski school was for my daughter. There was a separate entrance for Cascade Kids Ski School, which we did not know about, so we stood in a line and wasted a little time, but we figured it out ๐Ÿ˜‰ After we checked into school, we headed over to the rentals building. We grabbed our size ski boots and checked out her skis. Chloe snapped into her bindings like a pro and met up with her ski instructors outside the Cascade Kids Ski School door. This took about 15 minutes to do, so plan ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

There were about 7 kids in her class with many instructors present. They used a small “magic carpet” bunny hill with an escalator rather than rope tow for easier access on the hill. I remember using the rope tow as a kid, and barely had enough upper body strength to get myself up. So I’m glad Cascade makes it easy for kids to learn.

Chloe got a special vest to wear to identify her rental ski number, name, and age. It helped her stand out on a busy ski day. Her instructors asked if there was anything special they needed to know about Chloe and of course SHE HAS NUT ALLERGIES came gushing out of my mouth. The instructors were cool and immediately gave me the name and brand of the snack they were about to offer for snack time. Unfortunately Goldfish Graham Crackers are the only Goldfish product not safe for Chloe. They are made in a facility with tree-nuts, so we passed on the Cascade snack and gave our Lemon Zest Luna Bar to the Cascade instructor. She kept it in a special place until snack time.


Chloe learned a lot at ski school.

  • handling your equipment
  • pizza (snow plowing)
  • using the escalator
  • walking/skiing somewhere
  • slaloming.

She was laughing and smiling every time I checked in on her + I could see her from the chairlift I was using. Very cute.

It was just the two of us. A girls day. And I still needed to figure out what to do with myself while Chloe was enjoying ski school. I found a locker inside the main building to store my things and decided to ski as well since I brought my equipment, “just in case.” The last time I skied was March of 2007 at Breckenridge & Keystone, two of my favorites. That’s a long time to go without skiing. Admittedly, I was nervous. What if I suck? What if I couldn’t do the ski lift? What if I fell? What if I got hurt and couldn’t drive us home?

That’s silly thinking right? Chloe needs a confident Mommy who leads by example. Mental pep talk, and I was out there with here in 15 minutes. Anything that you love and spend a significant amount of time on usually comes RIGHT back the next time you pick it up. And I did.ย  It went great. Actually, it was fun. More fun than I remember. Usually I ski with a group and the lift is never an issue. This time I rode with several strangers and made small talk up the hill. It was different and not my usual style (I’m shy on the ski hill, usually just listen to music) but all of the people I met, mostly moms, were in the same boat as me….hadn’t skied in a long time, kids were on the hill and they were also a little nervous to try this winter sport again. We had a lot of laughs and high fives, it was great.

Overall, we’ll be back, on February 24. Cascade was kind enough to just reschedule Carter without a fee due to his illness. He’s fine and he’s VERY excited to try ski school. I just hope the weather is as beautiful as it was this past weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

Nothing at Cascade is “nut-free” so friends, pack a lunch. Most people that we saw did have their own lunches, so it’s easy to bring things. The coffee shop is very cute, so if you’re not a skiier yourself, you can snuggle in with a cute view, a fireplace, cozy chair and Starbucks!

Thanks Cascade Kids!




Mom Things, Travel

Allergy & Family Friendly Chicago Hotels

We’re pretty picky travelers when it comes to choosing the right hotel for our family get-away. The last thing we need is poor sleep, cranky kids and overtired parents in an unfamiliar environment. Not only do we travel with two little buddies ages 7 and 4, we also have food allergies. Most of the time we roll with it, but we do like to know in advance how much we can eat as a family at the hotel, or if we need to stock up onย safe snacks.


Chicago is a place we travel to fairly regularly, either as a couple or family for some fun activities and good eats. Today I wanted to share my top 4 personal favorites for family friendly and allergy friendly places in the Windy City.

4. Hilton Homewood Suites Chicago – Downtown:ย  We fell in love with Homewood Suites two years ago when they rescued us from our Airbnb “Buggy Bungalow” in the Vanderbilt Neighborhood of Nashville, TN. Homewood Suites welcomed us with open arms and little did we know that every room was a large suite! We all had our own beds, and a cute newly renovated kitchen to make nut-free meals for our daughter.

The best part about Homewood Suites is the continental breakfast where most of the items are nut-free. The willingness and time the staff took to get to know our family and our food allergies was amazing. Most week-nights Homewood Suites offers a cocktail and snack hour which can double as dinner if you have littles traveling with you. Family friendly + allergy friendly, I highly recommend Hilton Homewood Suites. This is a budget friendly hotel at $125 / night. This hotel is also partnered with American Girl – Chicago and offers extra fun for your little ladies.

3.ย  Ivy Boutique Hotel Chicago:ย This hotel is our standard “go-to” when we visit Chicago and I have my best friend to thank for finding this. She’s an incredible CPA and will always find the best of the best for the best price.

Ivy is a small, 16-story hotel off of Ontario + Michigan. It’s quiet and out of the way of the hustle of Michigan Ave. The staff is very personable and the rooms are HUGE. Personally, I like how each room feels like two rooms so we can put the kids to bed and still watch TV without them right there.

This hotel was recently renovated and the rain shower is incredible. Nightly dessert wasn’t too bad either ๐Ÿ™‚

During the day, we visited the hotel’s roof top bar + restaurant, everyone was over the top about our daughters food allergies and made kiddie cocktails so the kids could enjoy the panoramic downtown city views like the big kids.

Ontario is sprinkled with quick service dining, so we had plenty of options for safe nut-free food. Garrett’s Popcorn is on this street as well, so if you’re a fan, you can beat the line! The price is right, usually around $259 on weekends, but during the week this hotel is only $159. A steal for how large the rooms are!

2. Omni Hotel Chicago:ย  We’re excited to try this hotel since it seems like the most family focused hotel we’ve stayed at in a long time. The Omni Kids Crew Program offers:

  • Activity book with stickers
  • Crayons
  • 2-in-1 card games
  • Binoculars
  • Small tabletop game
  • On their first night at the hotel, kids also receive milk and cookies delivered to their room.

The Omni is also an all-suites hotel so we’ll all have our own beds and solid night of sleep. This hotel is also partnered with American Girl ensuring even more special goodies for your American Girl Doll enthusiast. Free wifi, two sun decks and an indoor swimming pool, I think we’ll all have a great time! There is something for everyone and after speaking with the head chef at the 676 Restaurant, allergies will be a piece of cake. Rooms start at $189 during the week, and are a little higher during peak times + weekends.

1.Four Seasonsย Chicago:ย Hello family luxury. I just love the family focused offerings the Four Seasons has put together.

  • Ice Cream Man: a cute ice cream cart is wheeled to your door and a fresh made sundae is custom made for your kids (and you too!). How fun!
  • Martini Man: when the ice cream truck is done, Martini Man comes around for parents, helps take the edge of a fun day in the city. LOVE this idea.
  • The indoor pool was featured in Home Alone 2.
  • Kids Clubroom is full of activities for kids of ALL ages.
  • Babysitters available.
  • Children’s welcome program, kiddies are greeted with stuffed animals, games, etc.
  • Free wifi
  • House-car service for 2 mile radius
  • Childproofed rooms upon request. ie: outlet covers
  • Special VIP access to area attractions

What really drew me to the Four Seasons was the Family Fun in the City offer, a two night minimum, but worth it. Also, their attention to detail and food allergies. The Allium restaurant located inside the Four Seasons specifically calls out Sunbutter as their alternate to PB+J sammies. I know they get it. And that is comforting.

A standard room during the week is around $400 / night. This price looks steep, however, all of the extra services are worth the splurge. The Four Seasons offers laid back luxury that is perfect for any family looking to be taken care of, 100%.


Those are our favorites. The beauty about visiting a big city like Chicago is that there is SO much to choose from and while we have stayed at a variety of hotels (not listed here) there are many, many more to choose from that may have just as great or better experiences and prices. I love that part. Exploring a city and finding those nuggets of goodness. Traveling with kids is much different than traveling alone, so we’ve been re-discovering Chicago over and over again for the past 7 years ๐Ÿ™‚


Birthday Parties, Travel

Nut-Free Cupcake Delivery

YES! Delivery from a dedicated nut-free bakery DOES exist!! It is in Chicago of course but we LOVE this option as we visit the city enough to make this useful. Next weekend we’ll be in Chicago celebrating my daughter’s 7th Birthday at American Girl Cafe! She chose Chicago family weekend over a party with friends, and I’m totally loving this idea!

Doordash and Uber eats are behind this delivery service for Nutphree’s Bakery in the Chicagoland area. Nutphrees has the most incredible custom cakes I have ever seen. Nutphrees is a family run bake shop that started small due to their own kid’s food allergies. Nutphrees now distributes all over Chicago.

For my daughter’s birthday, American Girl DOES offer nut-free dessert options, so we’ll probably just take advantage of those. Doordash does not go to the American Girl cafe, but they go to plenty of other restaurants in the Goldcoast area.

  • Grand Luxe Cafe
  • RPM Italian / Steakhouse
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Many many others, just check the website, must be within 45 minutes of their location

We’re excited to see Nutphrees grow so much, we’ve been following them on social media for over a year, and their baked items are now in grocery stores + they ship across the US. To have this special delivery service makes nut-free items that much more accessible, and special!

Next weekend, we’ll be using the Hiawatha Amtrak service from Milwaukee to Chicago. You can’t beat the stress-free ride on the train, big comfortable seats, free wifi and Dunkin Donuts coffee. On the weekend, kids under 12 ride 50% off. Usually when we go, there is some deal going on like buy one get one free or kids ride free. Its so nice to sit as a family and enjoy getting to our destination rather than sitting in traffic, paying tolls and too much for parking in the city.


Stay warm and be well! It’s so cold here now, -1, I’m wearing a scarf and three shirts INSIDE our home while I help these poor sick kiddos.

Next week we’ll have some special pictures on Insta showing the Birthday cupcakes, AG theme of course!

My next post will be about the most allergy + family friendly Chicago hotels. You’ll be surprised who comes in #1 offering sunbutter sammies to allergic kiddos as a bed time snack!


Snacking, Travel, Weeknight Dinners

Buzzy’s Lake House Food Truck

Hold the phone.

Nut allergy friends REJOICE! Your food truck woes are OVER.

Yesterday my little buddy and I (still on house arrest – kind of sick, but not really, check out my IG for more info on this) were hanging out on the square in downtown Madison when we decided to check out a local food truck, Buzzy’s Lake House via my Instagram feed.


Buzzy’s was parked on the corner of Wisconsin + Mifflin, which was uber convenient since we were at the toy store one block away. Capitol Kids is probably one of my favorite stores for kiddo swag in all of Madison. They have the most unique gifts, and hard to find items, too. But on this particular chill day, we were just playing with choo choos and enjoying the sunshine!

Buzzy’s is AMAZING. As a foodie, this is the BEST food truck food I have EVER had (and my super foodie husband agrees, so you know it’s good.)

The issue we have with many food trucks, and restaurants in general, is that they cannot guarantee that cross contact with nuts does not happen in their kitchens, so we cannot eat there. For example, we cannot eat at Melt, that yummy food truck that ONLY sells delish grilled cheese sandwiches because their bread is made in a bakery that handles nuts. Frown face.

Buzzy’s owner + culinary trained, professional chef, Cyndi, told us the food that she makes (excluding the sweets + cookies) are nut-free. Happy dance! And I trust her 100%.

So what kind of food is it? It’s your favorites, all of them.

  1. Main Dishes
    1. Bobber Chicken
    2. Sunset Chicken
    3. Dockside Chicken Chili
    4. Wavey Turkey Meatballs
    5. Firepit Curry – YOU JUST NEED TO EAT THIS
    6. Pontoon Pulled Pork Sandwich
  2. Sides
    1. Jasmine Brown Rice
    2. Smashed Cheddar Baked Potatoes
    3. Baked Beans
    4. Side Salads
    5. Homemade cookies + assorted beverages

I had the featured item, pictured on IG, and that’s what drew me in:

Chicken Chili Bowl over rice with cheddar, sour cream and scallions.

***sorry, no pic, I woofed it down too fast***

IT WAS AMAZING. And FLAVORFUL. And HUGE. If you’re ravenous hungry, come here. If you’re coming along with kids, one main dish could feed two littles. The key here is that Cyndi is a professional chef. Her flavor profiles are spot on with everything she makes (we started visiting this food truck last April after Theater Class on State during Farmers Market – her breakfast is also amaze.)ย  You’re going to get a great meal, no matter what you pick. It’s alllllll good.

So, if you’re downtown walking the farmers market, having a meeting, strolling state street, visiting the capitol, or looking for a really yummy, quick and delish lunch, check out Buzzy’s Lake House. You won’t regret it.

Buzzy’s Lake House


Cheers to the weekend friends! Thanks for stopping by! Lots to write – I hope I have some more time this weekend to still tell you about Dr. Pain’s Pain-free French Toast Recipe! Its so good.


How to be Nutfree, Mom Things, Travel

FABlogCon 2017


If you love Denver as much as I do, and you have food allergies, or know someone with food allergies, this conference is for you!! Just check out this three day agenda:

FABlogcon 2017

This year’s food allergy bloggers conference has quite the line up – and it’s located in beautiful Stapleton, CO, easy to get to from the airport via rail.

Don’t forget to put out your teal pumpkin this year!