7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 144)

September 23, 2011 | 47 comments

— 1 —

Last weekend my parents took us all to Great Wolf, a facility run by a top-secret psychological research center to see how children and their parents react to extreme overstimulation. Or maybe it was a hotel/indoor water park. One of the two. Anyway, it was great fun, and my children have yet to understand why we don’t do that every weekend.

Great Wolf has this slide called the Howlin’ Tornado that I’m not sure is legal. You get in an inner tube, go in a dark tunnel, drop off a cliff (STILL IN THE DARK), then shoot out into a bright, two-story-high funnel that makes you feel like you’re having a Dr. Seuss-inspired hallucination, where you slide up the wall just to the point that the tube is about to tip over, then rocket over and do the same thing on the other side. Then you go back into the dark, drop off another cliff, and shoot out into a pool of water. I rode it five times, and my neck hurt so bad the next day that I had to take pain killers. It was awesome.

— 2 —

Great Wolf had some of the best people watching I’ve seen in a long time. I submit that people watching is better at beaches and pools, because people reveal more about themselves with their choice of swimming attire than with street clothes. That, and you can see all their tattoos. There were also a few women sitting in the lounge chairs wearing jeans and t-shirts, engrossed in books. I wanted to go up and introduce myself, perhaps pointing self-consciously to my dripping outfit and saying, “Don’t let the swimsuit fool you, I’m a nerd who hates pools too!”

— 3 —

You know what is a terrible idea? Going to Ikea on tax-free weekend. You know what is a worse idea? Taking three kids with you. The thinking was that I was just going to get the kids out of the house to price shop for a desperately-needed shoe rack for the living room. I had forgotten that it was tax-free weekend. I had also forgotten that the kids hadn’t been getting out of the house much this summer.

Since they wouldn’t fit in the tiny shopping cart, I had my two-, four-, and five-year-old girls pile onto one of those flatbed rollers used for hauling heavy furniture; and I learned to take corners slowly after the second time they didn’t hear me tell them to hold on. They’d jump off the platform to inspect seemingly every chair and bookcase, staring in wonderment at this amazing world that exists outside our house. (Remind me never to buy my kids “WE’RE HOMESCHOOLED!” t-shirts.) I ended up spying the perfect thing for our living room, a combo bench/shoe rack at a very reasonable price. I decided to get it, as well as a few other small things, which meant piling everything — including the very heavy furniture box and the kids — onto the cart.

I actually made it out of the store without incident, and then a horrible, sinking feeling came over me as I realized: I forgot where I parked. I’d been distracted when we arrived, so I had no idea where my car was. None. It was like something out of Lawrence of Arabia. I trekked around the parking lot endlessly, blinded by the sun, sweat dripping from my face, every car that seemed to be mine was nothing more than a crushing mirage. I had actually just called my mom to come rescue us when I finally found it. Next time I think I’ll order online.

— 4 —

If I were rich, I’d hire the guy who did the brilliant Whole Foods Parking Lot video to do an Ikea Parking Lot video. (You know, like how Pope Julius II commissioned Michaelangelo to fresco the Sistine Chapel? Me and the Whole Foods Parking Lot video guy would be just like that.) We’d need references to the unfathomable size of the parking lot itself, and to the “Hybrid Only” parking spaces up at the very front. We couldn’t forget some rhymes about the “Living in 550 sq. ft.” mini houses, or the $2 meatball plates. And if he left out commentary about the tiny cribs that no American baby could ever fit in, or the labyrinthine aisle schema, I’d dramatically withhold payment. Anyway, if I ever win the lottery, look out for an Idea Parking Lot video coming soon.

— 5 —

Speaking of people who are living a great story, we had the pleasure of having dinner with Fr. Dan Lorimer a couple weeks ago. Fr. Dan left a comfortable parish job to volunteer to sign up as a miliary chaplain, so that he could go into war zones and serve our men and women deployed overseas. From a recent article about him:

“There is a big need for Catholic priests in war zones, ” [he said.] His concern is for soldiers who might go a year or longer without seeing a priest. “I want to give them better access to the sacraments so they don’t feel they have no church or faith, ” Lorimer said.

My dad, who was in Special Forces during the Vietnam era, joined us for the dinner, and regaled us with some stories about military life. Please keep Fr. Dan and his ministry in your prayers as he prepares to deploy, probably to Afghanistan or Iraq.

— 6 —

Want to watch something interesting? Here is Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, talking about how new media can reinvent education:

— 7 —

Have a great weekend!


Below is a linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.



  1. Emily

    We have a Great Wolf Lodge in Ohio! I always wished I would be able to go but I still haven’t gotten the opportunity.
    Also, I couldn’t even imagine IKEA with 3 kids. We took my twin cousins (who are 2) and that was a lot to handle, and there were 3 of us watching them! You must be supermom!

  2. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    Sorry your Ikea didn’t have a child storage/playplace area. Once when I was very young, when my dad was away for a week, my mom took my brother and I to Ikea nearly everyday so she could have a little sanity time on her own. We loved it.

    Now the Ikeas in Australia are offering a similar drop-off service for husbands!

  3. Jessica

    When I was little, I loved going to Costco with my parents because sometimes (and you never knew WHEN!) they would let my sister and I ride on those big orange flat carts. I’m sure your kids had a blast, sorry that you didn’t!

  4. Dorian Speed

    My three-year-old, running towards the story room at the library today, said “I want go in the water park.” I don’t know what this means about our homeschool socialization skills, but it isn’t good.

    On the other hand – if I can convince him that library = water park, we could save a lot of money on summertime fun.

  5. Michelle

    You make me laugh! We didn’t get out of the house much either…glad we aren’t the only family with five kids (including a newborn) who chilled at home! I know what you mean about the Ikea store, LOL! God bless Father Dan!!

  6. Smoochagator

    I have never been to Ikea or Great Wolf, and your post makes me hesitant to visit either one!

  7. Therese

    I think I want to visit Great Wolf. Will be praying for Fr. Dan and his ministry.

  8. Erika Ahern

    Khan Academy! (Like Genghis Khan, but less violent?) I’ve been using the math with Miriam as a reward on Fridays. If she’s finished her math during the week, she gets to play her “math computer game” instead of doing workbooks/tests on Fridays. She loves it.

    I also am just fascinated by the classroom use of it. Sounds great. 🙂

  9. Kathleen Basi

    We’ve talked about doing the Great Wolf Lodge. Haven’t done it yet. I can’t decide whether to quake in my shoes at the thought of such a slide, or to scream, “Rock on!” 🙂

  10. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    I’m glad you and the kids had fun at the water park despite your trepidation of such an excursion.

    I can’t think of many shopping trips that would be less enjoyable than taking kids to Ikea, except of course if upon entering the store you had to put together a piece of their furniture without all the parts included as practice for doing the same thing when you got home.

    Hope your weekend goes well and that “scorpion central” and child management are not the only sources of your adrenaline rushes. Perhaps some fun on the homefront can be arranged. God bless!

  11. Valerie (Momma in Progress)

    We used to live not far from the Great Wolf Lodge in VA, but we never went. Sounds like an awesome time, though. Haven’t been to IKEA in probably a year. We are definitely overdue. I have a tendency to only remember where the car is parked if I drove. If we go somewhere and hubby drives, I don’t remember AT ALL. We come out of the mall or whatever and I just follow him hoping he knows where he’s going.

  12. suburbancorrespondent

    I will never understand why the experience you described in #1 is actually enjoyed by people. I just don’t get it. Unless, of course, it simply gave you some much needed me-time? That might be appealing when you have 5 littles at home.

    My husband and I once went to IKEA with 4 kids 8 and under (including a babe in arms) in order to shop for a kitchen table and chairs together. Considering our difficulty making a joint decision about paint colors, this was a quixotic quest, to put it mildly. We emerged victorious (and with all 4 children), however; and that table still graces our kitchen (because we dare not repeat the adventure).

  13. Louise

    That IKEA story is a HOOT! You always have hilarious stories, and you are a great storyteller.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with Fr. Dan. It is so heartwarming to hear about priests like him who have answered God’s call to serve the spiritual needs of our military in war zones.

  14. Rebecca @ The Road Home

    That water ride sounds amazing! And I’m not a fan of water parks usually, now roller coasters? Let’s go! However Ikea? That places totally freaks me out.

    Father Dan will be in my prayers.

  15. Nikki

    Great Wolf Lodge sounds fun in theory- we have one a couple of hours away, but I think we’re just going to keep it as an untested theory at our house!

  16. Jeanne G.

    I would like water parks if I could have LASIK. I hate waterparks because I can’t see. I’m so afraid I’m going to walk up to a stranger. It’s not like you can keep your Coke-bottle glasses on when you’re zipping down a waterslide.

  17. Christie Martin

    Slogging after my 5 overstimulated children, all while mingling with thousands of fellow damp swim suit clad children-chasing sloggers sounds like a recipe for neck tension for me, even without the let’s-see-how-close-we-can-get-to-drowning-ya-without-actually-drowning-ya rides. You are a braver woman than I!

  18. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I have four kids, about the same ages, and your out-in-public-with-the-kids stories never fail to crack me up.

    Now I have to go watch the Whole Foods parking lot video!

  19. dweej

    Do you know that I have never once, in the history of history, set foot in an Ikea? Not going to Ikea is like my new religion.

  20. Steph @ Moving to MD

    I’m loving the Ikea Parking lot idea.

    And I have to say that I think Ikea might be as big of a sensory-overload as water parks. Seriously. My husband and I enter the store and within minutes we’re both exhausted. Inexplicably. We just get super tired.

  21. Barbara C.

    We have an IKEA about fifteen minutes away. As a result, half of my kitchen/office comes from IKEA. The first time I went I hated it. I felt like I was in one of the lines at Disney World, you know how they try to make the lines entertaining, but except at IKEA you never got to a ride at the end, just a warehouse.

    Now before I go I decide what I want by looking online. I write down the model number, and you can actually find out the aisle and bin numbers online, too. Then I cut straight to the warehouse to grab it. If I feel the need to compare I write down the two items I’m looking at and use every short cut to get to that section. I only take the kids when he have multiple (more than 2) adults to watch them or if we just want to hang out somewhere with air conditioning during the summer but we’re not actually shopping.

  22. Brandon Vogt

    Totally–and I mean totally–unrelated fact that keeps coming to me every time I read about the Kahn Academy.

    You know which historical figure has the most (known) living descendants?

    Genghis Kahn.

    Over 16 million people in the world today can trace their genes back to him. Granted he was an abominable, evil man who forced himself on many unwilling women. But his lineage is still shocking, nonetheless.

    I’m guessing, though, that the Kahn Academy is unrelated.

  23. Jennifer

    LOL – We have a Great Wolf about 3.5 hours from home – in Wisconsin Dells – and of all the indoor water parks we’ve tried out (yes, we’re one of those sick families that loves that kind of stuff) – it’s our favorite by far.

    Our IKEA just doesn’t have that large of a parking lot. . . but I have been known to use my remote to set off my horn in large parking lots when I lose my car. . .

    • Jennifer

      Oh – and living in Texas, you ought to really take a weekend sometime and try Schlitterbahn – perhaps when the kids are a bit older, as some of the rides have height requirements and some of the waves are fierce. But we went when my girls were 10 and 7 and loved it.

  24. Sarah B.

    I LOVE Ikea. But of course, I’d have loved it even more if I had a mom awesome enough to let me ride on that cart! 🙂

    Maybe it’s just because I live in Indiana, but what’s a tax-free weekend? Just no sales tax on anything, or only certain things? Do you have them a lot in Texas? Maybe I’ll write my state rep. for tax-free weekends in Indiana!

  25. 'Becca

    My son DOES get out of the house on a daily basis and goes to many interesting places, yet Ikea has a unique ability to turn him into an “I have to inspect every item in detail and ask if we can buy it” fiend. What I hate about Ikea is being forced to walk a long and twisty path even if you know exactly which section you want to go to. In fact, I think it has some sort of warping power that always places the section I want at the farthest possible point from the entrance.

    Do you have one of those keychain fobs on which you can press a button to lock/unlock your vehicle and make it beep and flash the lights? I sometimes use mine to locate the car! But it doesn’t work if the car is too far away or there’s too much other noise combined with bright sun.

    We have one car, two drivers, and no off-street parking. We almost always can park within sight of our current home, but at our previous place it was more difficult–so we made a paper headed, “Dude, Where’s Our Car?” and hung it prominently inside the front door so each of us could update it when returning and check it when going out to the car. Maybe you need something like that in your purse, or on your arm, or whatever you can remember!

  26. Elizabeth

    What an awesome priest! Praying for him and those he will minister to.

  27. Ruth

    My mom put a tennis ball on the antenna of our car so that she could find the darn thing….a little embarrassing when I was a teenager, but we never had a “lawrence of arabia” moment!

    This wolf place sounds interesting, in spite of the fact that Hubby and I have no kids….I’m going to have to look into it!

  28. Laura O in AK

    I never did get to IKEA when we lived on the east coast. I suppose I should be glad to not have that as a shopping option here in Alaska. Although, anything that brings more affordable items to our area is seen as a good thing.

    My boys would love to visit a lodge like Great Wolf. There’s an indoor water park in Anchorage that one child has visited and shared about it’s “awesomeness.” I fear taking the other boys as they might start demanding regular visits there!

    Thanks for hosting this meme every week. It’s a fun one for both reading and participation.

  29. Monica

    I LOVE Kahn Academy! He has re-energized my boys’ interest in math. I am so grateful to him. thanks for posting that video: it’s wonderful.

  30. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    If you ever get a chance, visit Wheel’s Inn in Windsor,ONT. I remember LOVING that place as a kid. I sure do hope it’s as cool as I remember…


  31. SuzanneC

    If you have an iphone, there are apps available so you can find your car in a parking lot. Just a thought. I know this because I can’t seem to find my car in large parking lots either!

  32. Natasha

    Because I get groceries delivered, my children are as fazed by the supermarket as yours sounded by IKEA. It’s good, it makes it a novelty for them. (Until they realise they can’t have all the stuff that’s in there, of course.)

  33. JoAnna

    if you have a smartphone, there are apps that help you find where you left your car. 🙂

  34. Amy @ Finer Things

    Father Dan was our interim priest for 8 weeks over the summer!!!!!!! He was fabulous; I could listen to his homilies for hours (and that’s saying a LOT) and really hated to see him go.

    Do you happen to know a way to contact him? I’d truly like to extend my heartfelt thanks for his time at our parish and wish him well where he serves.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Hey Amy! To answer your question (very belatedly — sorry about that) unfortunately I do not have his new contact info yet. I’m hoping to hear from him though!

  35. Mama Benedikt

    To locate your car, very easily, use MyCar Locator Free (I have it on my Android Phone) This application works like the bread crumbs in Hansel and Gretel. There are various uses. Not just locating your car. By the way, I just started reading your blog, in my (ha ha) “spare time”. May God reward you.

  36. Beth

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one that has these problems while out running errands with the kids. I’m always reminding myself that I need to put on a little extra deodorant the next time, lol!

  37. Laurie

    Oh! Thanks for the Khan blurb! You reminded me that I need to say thankyou for the original reference. We’ve been using his site for a couple weeks now and it is exactly what I needed for my son. We homeschool – he “gets” numbers – and as a result I’ve been at a loss as to a good math curriculum that he can move swiftly through without my having to purchase expensive units every three months. Khan Academy is perfect! Not only can he learn what is appropriately timed for him, but he is fascinated with pondering the videos that are still above his head.

  38. Lucy

    What can I say, I love IKEA. But mine has a kids’ play area where you can drop them and shop by yourself. It’s so wonderful. And then we get yummy, cheap Swedish meatballs and all is good. But I try not to go on the weekends, because then it is craziness. My husband refuses to go there and my FIL nearly had a panic attack in there, so I guess you either love IKEA or you hate it! LOL!

    Thanks for posting the video about Kahn’s Academy. I had my son watch a few videos last year when we were homeschooling. Now that he’s in school (5th grade), I’m actually going to use it a lot more to keep his interest and accelerate his learning. And I LOVE the idea of using it in the classroom to allow the teacher to spend her/his time assisting each child where he’s at. The future of education is so exciting, if only we can break out of our molds and ideas of what it’s supposed to look like!

  39. Annette Heidmann

    Hooray for taking kids to IKEA!!! (NOT!) Lol … really, all you have to say is “IKEA” and there’s such an instant flash of understanding. God bless internet shopping, may it live forever.

    I have just started using the Kahn Academy for my boy who along with Asperger’s and ADD has Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia – and it is working so well for him — can’t recommend it highly enough.

  40. Eva

    I’m getting a bad case of Ikea Envy. Am I really the only person who has never been there? There isn’t one in my state ( of Australia) and when I get around to traveling interstate, then I always seem to have other things to busy myself with. I do have an Aunt who posts down any necessary items, though 🙂

  41. Lauren

    Your #1 had me laughing out loud!!! Dr. Seuss hallucination…hAHAHA!

  42. Monica

    When I took two of my kids to the copy shop, it was exactly as you say about your kids at Ikea, and I’m sure the people working there were entertained as they squeeled with delight each time the copier did anything — stopped, started, collated, etc. We haven’t been back since. I’m saving it for a special outing some day.

  43. Judith

    I’m curious what your shoe shelf looks like. Am in the market myself.

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