Visit the Waterpark Capital of the World: Kalahari Resorts

An Amazing and HUGE indoor/ outdoor park in Wisconsin Dells

Visit the Waterpark Capital of the World: Kalahari Resorts

Did you know there is a place called Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, which is cited as the “Waterpark Capital of the World?” I did not until we happened to pass through that area on our 2,044km (1270 mile) road trip from London, ON to Winnipeg, MB.

Our family was excited to discover a place that is only a day’s drive from our home, which accomplished many feats. Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells got us exploring a new location, helped us through a long winter, and was super fun.

Wisconsin Dells happened to be exactly halfway on our road trip so we were ready to get out of the car and run our ya-yas out. The kids had done pretty well during the ride but they were starting to lose their ability to stay friendly.

It was fun watching the kids as we walked into the lobby of the Kalahari Resort—an African feeling vibe with LOTS to look at. My oldest son actually started bouncing while shouting, “wow.”

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Beyond the lobby we discovered a 125,000-square-foot indoor waterpark and another 77,000 one outside (although it wasn’t warm enough yet to be out there). Both parks have lots of waterslides, lazy rivers and activity pools. The inside one had something they call the “Flowrider” for stand up surfing, an indoor/ outdoor family hot tub and even a swim up bar!

This is a picture of my guys trying hard to use their "walking feet" instead of sprinting through this waterpark.

The resort has a central area with the lobby, restaurants, and waterpark. The rooms are across the lot, but easy to get to through shuttles or in the case of the Sands building, a huge skywalk system. Running back and forth on that skywalk (oh sorry, I’m not sure if we were really supposed to be running) was so awesome for my boys who had felt really socked in by our long winter.

We also went to the indoor theme park while there. Again, this is a mind-blowing place for kids with a six-story Ferris wheel, ropes course, climbing walls, go-karts, mini-golf and bowling.

This is my oldest son up on the ropes course! (I was probably more scared than him)

Here are some suggestions to get the most out of a Kalahari Resort visit:

Go to the Waterpark early!

We are all early risers and were the first ones at the restaurant and first to the water park. No line-ups for us! We noticed that as the morning progressed, line-ups started to happen on the most popular water slides. By the time that happened, we were happy to flop around in the lazy river.

Bring your leftovers back to your room

All of the rooms, suites, and theme rooms in the resort have a mini-fridge and microwave. I noticed this when heading out for my first meal so we ordered something that could easily be eaten the next day as a snack.

Take breaks

Fun theme parks like this are wonderful, but can also cause kids to get compromised quickly. Watch your children for sensory overload. Loud sounds, flashing lights and other people around can drain a person’s “friendly tank” quickly. I noticed that after about two hours, my kids and I were ready to take a quiet walk or head back to the room for a short break/ snack. The parks give you in and out privileges all day so come and go as you need.

Eat wisely

There are many spots for awesome-tasting sweets and treats so make sure to fill your children (and yourself!) with the good stuff, too, to prevent energy and mood meltdowns later in the day. The restaurant called “The Great Karoo Marketplace Buffet” is full of fruit, vegetables, and yummy healthy food the kids are sure to love. We started our day there.

Bring these things from home:

  • Plastic food containers for leftovers
  • One or two sets of cutlery for your room
  • A microwave-safe plate for your room
  • A bathing suit cover up and flip flops. You can walk around the whole resort in your bathing suit, robe and sandals!
  • Comfortable (closed toe) runners for the indoor theme park.
  • A fan. I ALWAYS bring a small fan with me when staying in a hotel. This provides white noise to block out any hallway sounds.
  • Your work out clothes: there is a great fitness center on site.
  • Old clothes for the kids. There are activities like cookie decorating, colouring and arts and crafts so bring clothes that can get painted on our marked up.

Our family had a wonderful time at the resort! After spending a day there, we were certainly ready to crawl into the car for another ten hours of driving. Families living in southern Manitoba and southwestern Ontario could get to Wisconsin Dells with ten hours of driving time. 

Our family loves to travel -it there a place you've been to that you think we'd love? Please do let me know over on my Facebook page.


How to Increase Vaccination Rates and Protect Our Kids

And how we can help parents who are scared and unsure

How to Increase Vaccination Rates and Protect Our Kids

How to Increase Our Vaccination Rates and Protect Our Kids

There are few topics more charged these days than whether or not to vaccinate children. It’s right up there with politics and religion as hot button topics that can ruin friendships.

I used to be on the vaccination fence before I met and married a family doctor and had my first child almost eight years ago. Before kids, I read blog posts by staunch anti-vaxxers, and felt afraid that if I vaccinated my children I would be hurting them.

I recall mentioning this on a date with my would-be-husband, one lovely evening at dinner by the British Columbia ocean side. He explained some things to me, which alleviated my fears and made me realize vaccinations save children’s lives (millions of them, actually) and how much of the uncertainty created by the very vocal anti-vax minority has been built on false or de-bunked information.

In order to keep children safe around the world, in our own neighbourhoods, and even at Disneyland, it is important for parents who are unsure of what to do - and therefore haven’t vaccinated their children - to get information from credible sources.

In this day and age, no child should die due to a vaccine-preventable disease, particularly in North America where we have publicly-funded vaccination programs. I find it so sad to hear from the World Health Organization that about 400 children worldwide are dying each day from the measles. This doesn’t need to happen.

So how do parents balance their fears of vaccination with their desire to protect their children?

First, we need to understand that these fears are being fueled by a small number of adults who are vocally opposed to vaccinations. The vast majority of people vaccinate their kids.

  • In Canada in 2011, it is estimated that 95% of children age two had received up-to-date coverage of one dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); however, even a small drop in this percentage will allow the disease to re-establish itself.
  • In the US, over 91% of children age 19-35 months had received at least one dose of MMR.
  • Vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years.

To not vaccinate is to be in the minority.

In this same vein, it is helpful to understand that there is a difference between a skeptic and a denialist. A skeptic is someone who will question accepted opinions, look for different sides to the issue and critically consider the information. A “denialist” is someone who refuses to accept a concept, despite overwhelming evidence; no amount of information or discussion will change their mind. Someone who is opposed to vaccinations is doing so despite overwhelming evidence of their safety and effectiveness.

Denialists will fit information into the constraints of their beliefs, regardless of how irrational that might be. They also change their argument on the fly to support their personal views, ignoring things that have been de-bunked. My husband said it’s like playing whack-a-mole: as soon as one argument is proven false, they look for another to replace it.

So what do you say to a parent who does not vaccinate their children and makes you feel badly for considering vaccinations for your family?

I speak a lot about how our “reptilian brain” can be triggered in less than a second, getting our bodies ready to fight or run before we’ve had a chance to calmly reel in that immediate reaction. I ask parents to imagine this response like an irritated cobra—you wouldn’t provoke it, would you?

The subject of vaccination emotionally triggers the parents who are adamantly against it, some of whom I've spoken to personally. I recommend not engaging in an argument with someone who is so triggered and thus unable to rationally consider the other side. If they are absolutely anti-vaccination, then their mind is made up and nothing you can say will likely change their way of thinking.

In order to not “provoke the cobra” in the other person, I suggest saying something like this: “I understand you have made your choice. I will make my decision after I have carefully considered the information on my own.” You are validating that you have heard that person without judging him or her; you've let them know you wish to consider this further, and at the same time, you are not requesting them to back up their stance.  

If you have already vaccinated your kids, remember again that you are in the majority, and there is absolutely no reason to feel badly about doing so! You can try simply stating, “Based on the advice of the scientific and medical community, and the evidence of vaccine effectiveness and safety, I have chosen to vaccinate my children. I hope you can respect that.” When one is vaccinated, not only is the shot protecting the one receiving it, but also the household and the community are protected as well.

Here’s a little trick: talking quietly and softening your eyes can help someone hear you better.

How can we help parents who are scared and unsure?

Rather than trying to have a rational discussion with a denialist, our energies are best spent supporting skeptical parents who are unsure and feel afraid of vaccinating their children, yet are still open to examining sound information. The unfortunate reality is that there is no "fence" when it comes to childhood vaccination. When parents are uncertain, the default is to delay the vaccinations, which is the risky position to take.

The bottom-line with vaccines is twofold. First, vaccines are incredibly effective and are the epitome of preventive medicine. No intervention has been as successful in preventing illness and death. Second, they are incredibly safe. They are used worldwide, tested vigorously before coming to market, and are continually monitored for adverse effects. After millions of doses administered, there is no more studied intervention.

This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions of the author are their own.

Getting your family immunized is an important part of creating a foundation for a healthy life. If you’re on the fence about immunizing, here’s the information you need to make an informed decision for your family.

  Why it's essential for kids with allergies to be immunized

  Erica Ehm talks with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer to get straight answers about immunizations

  Why vaccination isn't just about you - it's about all of us


32 Tantrum-Tamer Phrases to Use With 3 and 4 Year-Olds in Meltdown Mode

Use these phrases to increase cooperation and reduce the "Fournado!"

32 Tantrum-Tamer Phrases to Use With 3 and 4 Year-Olds in Meltdown Mode

Use these phrases to increase cooperation and reduce the "Fournado!" frustration.

The trick to communicating successfully with three and four year-olds is to be clever, funny, clear, rested, and to have a method to calming yourself down as fast as possible.

Children this age are often more aggressive and frustrated than they were as toddlers, so being aware of this and meeting their challenging behaviour with strategies and patience are very helpful for all involved.

In addition to trying the phrases I listed in my previous post for toddlers and the ones below, please remember that children do better with a full attachment tank and the use of positive discipline. When a child feels important and is guided with limits, boundaries, a friendly tone and empathy, much of the reasons children blow up are eliminated.

Along with my suggestions, I have included helpful phrases that were contributed from parenting educator colleagues and parents from my Facebook page.


When your child is trying to negotiate or beg:

1. “Asked and answered,” or “You asked, and I already answered.”

2. “You are upset that I won’t give you another cookie. What is a good thing to do when we feel upset?” This puts the focus on managing their feelings and problem solving.

*If you feel your children aren’t listening, consider how you can improve the delivery of your message. Are you repeating? Nagging? Ending something fun? Not reasonable? Talking too much? Expecting more understanding than the child is capable of? These conditions often stop people from hearing you.

3. "What do you need to do in order to feel done?" - When your child is resisting instructions that it is time to go. Also this one...

4. "What can I help with so you feel ready to go?"


When tempers flare:

5. “I’m curious what happened here.” (Instead of, “What did you do?!?”)

6. “It is totally okay to feel angry—I would too. When you can, find some words to tell me so I can help you find an answer/get what you need." - Jenni P

7. "It is okay to be mad, but it is not okay to be mean."

8. "Calm first, talk second. Do you need help to calm down or can you do that on your own?" 

9. "I see you are mad. It is not okay to hurt, break or throw." If the child continues to ramp up, you might try this: "Is this worth losing ____ over? I am here to help you calm down so you don't lose ____."

Use a consequence that is reasonable, age-appropriate and that the child has been forewarned about when everyone is calm. I strongly suggest that families make a calm-down plan so adults and children know what steps to follow when anger bubbles over. Use these elements in your plan:

   a) a key-word to remind you of your plan like "freeze" or "stop,"
   b) an action to let the "anger bubbles" come out like jumping 10 times, clapping your hands, count backwards from 11,
   c) remind yourself to breathe,
   d) ask yourself this question: what do I need?,
   e) then use your words to say what you need. This hopefully will lead into a problem solving discussion.

The family can agree that if the plan isn't used and hurting, breaking or throwing end up happening, then _____ will be the consequence. Reassure your child that you will help him/ her with the calm-down plan. This strategy works best when all members of the family use it.


Picky Eating:

10. "You do not need to eat, but you do need to sit at the table with the rest of the family." (takes the pressure off and 9 times out of 10, they eat!).  – Sarah Remmer, RD

11. “What can we add to this food to make it super-tasty?” – Also from Sarah Remmer.



12. "Mommy and daddy feel so great because we were able to sleep because you did such a great job of staying in your bed all night long. Thank you so much!" They want to make us proud and contribute to our own well-being. It's important to let them know when they've done so. – Alannah McGinn

13. “Sleep is where our body and brain grow! I can’t wait to sleep tonight.”

14. “Later, after I tuck you into bed, I can’t wait to read my book and climb into my own cozy bed and sleep” from this wonderful NY Times Motherlode piece by Heather Turgeon, co-author of The Happy Sleeper



15. There are four steps/ phrases to handling frustration:

a.  Show your child you see his or her upset (this helps your child feel important).

“You threw the car—I see you are upset.”

Put a hand on your melting-down child and softly say, “I know, kiddo. I know.”

b. Use a feelings word.

“Your brother took you car and now you look angry. Is that right?”

c. Pause, giving your child time to process these first two steps.

d. Help your child move into rational thought by asking a question that focuses on problem solving or to find some words to explain.

“Do you need a 1) Break, 2) To try again, or 3) Help?”


When/ thens (or after/ then, first/ then) can also be used in many situations:

16. “When your hands are clean, then I know you are ready to eat.”

17. “After tidy time, we can certainly start a new puzzle.”

18. “First we brush our teeth, then we can get the LEGO out.”

19. I try to set expectations, situations or transitions for my four-year-old. I usually say, "______ first, _______  second" and I try to make the second thing something he wants. ex: "dinner first, dessert second." -Jamie W


To diffuse a power struggle:

20. "Can I help you _____?" It puts them in the place of power. We're just there to help. This has really encouraged cooperating in my 3-4 year olds. You could even add, "I love working with you" or "can you show me what to do/how to do it?" -Andy Smithson, MSW from Tru Parenting

21. “Are you going to put the puzzle away now or after you wash your hands?”

22. "Shoes." "Potty." "Teeth." One-word cues instead of lecture. –Lisa P-W

23. “Do you have a way you want to do this?" is one of my favorites. Gives the child a chance to take the lead and taps into their inner motivation and problem solving skills. I have a post that is similar here! (post) -Ariadne Brill from Positive Parenting Connection

24. “It’s out-the-door time. Are you coming to the mudroom on your hands or feet?” (Try walking on your hands)

25. “I also used to have a hard time doing XYZ when I was your age—is there anything I can do to help you?” –Rivka Caroline

26. “Who is brushing your teeth? Mommy or Daddy?” (Pick Daddy, pick Daddy.)

27. Say you're looking for an expert on road safety, shoelace tying, hand washing. Act like you've forgotten how. They'll soon take charge and show you what to do -Amy P


Whining/ demanding:

28. "I can hear you're frustration, but can't hear what you need. Try again, I'm listening." -Brandie H

29. “I’ll be able to hear you when you use your regular talking voice.”

30. My 4.5 yo can ask for something quite rudely so I calmly say to him "Ask me again in a kinder way" which allows him to practice his manners without feeling like he's being reprimanded. Also if he whines or only uses one word, I'll say to him "Can you repeat that in a sentence that I can understand?"  -Jill T

31. "Thank you, mama", "Please, mama" after they have demanded something, as a reminder of a kinder way of using language. No shaming or judgment: I just would say what I wanted to hear, how I wanted to hear it. They would repeat it back to me and we would move on. Or they wouldn't, and we would still move on - Casey O’Roarty of Joyful Courage

32. One of my favorites: "Can I get a Yes, Mama!?" I always say it in a playful way and usually get an exuberant, and affirmative, response back. If there's a little bit of tension, this seems to help break it. Also, when I ask Cee to do something, I ask in a genuinely respectful way that shows how much I value her help. "Cee, I could really use your help. Would you mind giving me a hand with setting the table?" And then "Thanks SO much for being such a helper today. I don't know what I would do without you." I have a newborn, and I'm really asking for a lot of help from my 4-year-old right now, and she's almost always willing to help when she feels truly valued. - Alice Callahan, PhD from Science of Mom


Would you like to remember these phrases in the moment when you need them? I have created an App for that! I invite you to download the "Taming Tantrums" App, which included these phrases and more! Please click here for more information and click here to visit and leave your comments on my Facebook page. 

RELATED: Stop Tantrums: 33 Phrases to Use With Toddlers