Monday, February 27, 2012

Valentines in Vegas

Because nothing says romance like smoke-filled casinos and cheap buffets, Andy and I spent Valentine's in Vegas. Actually, Andy was presenting at a conference that week, so he asked me to come along. We left the kids with my mom at 8 pm MST on Sunday night and landed in Vegas at 11pm PST.

On the cab-ride to the hotel I knew it was going to be a great trip because the driver was a rocker looking chic who was driving fast and crazy while blaring Delilah's Valentine's Day special on her radio. There's nothing like soft rock love songs to get you excited. The strip, as always, was bright and lively with all kinds of characters.

When we got to our hotel, the Palazzo, it was the nicest of the Vegas hotels I've stayed in, so I was excited. Then we got to our room. And Oh. My. They had upgraded us to a suite, which I looked up on their website--it's a $650/night room. Everything was gold and marble and luxury. It had a bedroom, living/dining room, workout room, monster bathroom, powder room, and a guest bathroom. My phone camera sucks, but here are a few shots:

Andy finished up some work and I took a long bubble bath. Best trip ever already.

Day 2:

Today we both slept in after having slept through the entire night. It was magical. I worked out in our room while Andy did work, and then we went down to the Grand Lux Cafe. He had some kind of club and fries, and I had the best pasta carbonara ever. Seriously it was divine. He had to go to a few meetings so I worked on my thesis and dressed up for our night on the town.

We ate dinner at Wing Lei, an upscale Chinese place, and to be honest, it was a bizarre experience. We thought it was something else until we had already been seated, so we decided to stay. When we got there, there was a large round table of very drunk Asians and nobody else. The speakers switched off between Top 40 hits and what sounded like Chinese folk songs. It was eerily quiet and all of the staff stared at us while the other customers didn't speak, they just kept pouring wine and toasting each other with every swallow. I ordered pork moo shu because I've wanted to try it since Mulan, and Andy had some shrimp dish. They charged us $10 each for two sides of rice. It was good food, but not somewhere we'd want to go again. Mostly it felt awkward.

Then we went to our show for the evening: Le Reve (The Dream), a cirque du soleil type show that was an odd mix of acrobatics, synchronized swimming, dancing, warrior fighting, and strange things falling from the sky (like picnic tables, beds, people, cages, and such). Impossible to describe, but a lot of fun.

On our way back to the hotel we grabbed a hot chocolate and then watched a movie in our room. A very self-indulgent day, and a life I'm sure I could get used to.

Here are our two stellar photos of the day while we waited for Le Reve to start:

Day 3:

Andy left early for meetings and his presentation, so I worked out, did some homework, lounged around, and then met him for lunch. We went back to the Grand Lux and had soup and salad. Then he went back to work and I went back to the room for more thesis and some Castle and Project Runway. Andy came back and then we went out for our Valentine evening.

We ate at SushiSamba, and it was amazing. Seriously the best sushi ever. The only disappointment was that we ordered warm chocolate banana cake with rum flavored ice cream -- sounds good, right? It was a piece of cake the size of a golf ball, and you couldn't taste any chocolate or banana because the whole thing was doused in rum. It tasted like it should have been lit on fire ala flambe, but nope, just a bottle dumped on top. We'd go back in a heart-beat though, the dinner was fantastic.

Next we went to see Blue Man Group. It's a show that Andy has wanted to see forever. It's also a hard show to describe. It was funny and weird and tense. Tense because they did audience participation stuff, we were on the front row of the side section, and I so did not want to be picked. And then they did this thing where they dumped about a million yards of toilet paper from the ceiling and I had flashbacks to when I was younger and we would get toilet papered and my mom would put it all in a brown paper bag on the back of the toilet and we would be forced to use the whole bag before we could open a new roll. We were recyclers way before it was trendy. Anyway, the show had stressful moments for me. But it was also a lot of fun and I'm glad we went.

The view from our room:

Our self-pic before the Blue Man show:

After the show we walked about a mile down the strip through a maze of casinos, homeless people, prostitute solicitors, and vendors to see the fountains at the Bellagio. They run every 15 minutes, so while we waited we made friends with a cute couple from Switzerland.

Our Swiss friends took this shot:

We grabbed a cup of hot chocolate and walked down to the pirate show at Treasure Island where scantily dressed sirens and a ship full of sailors battled it out and then danced. Only in Vegas. By the time we got back to our room, it was late and I had blisters. I packed all my stuff and felt sad that I was leaving but excited to see the kiddos.

Day 4:

Up at 5am, kiss Andy goodbye, cab to the airport, fly home, drive to Grandma's, pick up the kids. I don't know what Andy did for the rest of his day, but mine involved a lot of this:

I bet mine was best.

It was a great trip. I'm grateful for my amazing husband.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sleeping by Grandpa

My mom went to Texas to be with my sister for a month, so I took pity on my poor starving dad and college siblings and had them over for dinner. After we ate, we sat around talking for a while and Autumn climbed into the big chair with my dad, covered them both with a blanket, kept saying, "sleep Grandpa!" and they would both pretend to be asleep. I took pictures because I thought it was pretty dang adorable.

This sweet little face melts my heart.


Last week Calvin's friend came over to play, and he brought a treasure map that he had drawn. The kids spent the day playing pirates, pirate Mario, pirate Angry Birds, pirate baking, pirate fighting, and all things pirate (except for pirating music). Here is a shot of them on their ship with their treasure chest. We had to get creative with the costumes:


Specialist of the Year

At the end of January Andy won a fancy award at work. He loves his job, and apparently they love him. Good work, Babe!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Royal Visitors

My sister asked the other day if she could borrow my wedding veil for some reason, so I pulled it out of storage. Autumn went crazy. She followed me around the house saying over and over, "be princess?" So I finally let her try it on. She walked around slowly with her hands flat and her fingers pointing to the sides. I couldn't tell if she was being careful not to let it fall off, or if that's her version of a fancy princess walk. Either way, she was a beauty:

And then Calvin wanted to be a prince. Behold the pair's royal cuteness:

British dramas, NPR, and Recycling

I try to avoid bandwagons, but I can't help but love Downton Abbey despite its current trendiness. It is everything I adore in British period pieces--complex characters, stupid sexist laws, arbitrary rules of a ridiculous society that I wish I had been a part of. It's impossible not to love the show as far as I'm concerned.

I bought the first season over a year ago when it came out on DVD because it looked like something I would like, but I was busy with school and life and I never got around to watching it. Then I started to hear some of the buzz around the 2nd season, so I dusted off season 1 and watched it for the first time within a 36 hour period (mostly between 12 and 3am). Then I watched the entire second season in about the same amount of time.

Andy knows I've been a bit obsessed with it lately, so he sent me this cartoon from PennyArcade, a website that he loves. He often sends me comics, but they're about gaming and weird geek stuff that I don't understand or find amusing, so I ignore them.

But this one:
made me laugh a bit because it's a perfect trifecta. NPR, Downton, and recycling. Andy knows me well. I'm not sure when it became cool to listen to NPR, but I've been at it for about a decade, since my friend Amber introduced me. Recycling has been the cause of several near break-ups between me and Andy, and I judge everyone around me who doesn't.

So then I started to over-think it way too much.

What do those three things have in common?

Well, recycling and NPR are considered more liberal if you're looking at politics, but Downton Abbey certainly doesn't fit that criteria (unless you count the man kiss). Plus, both my parents and Andy's parents recycle, and they are as conservative as they come.

Well, I did hear a program about Downton Abbey on NPR last week, talking about the historical context of butlers and servants and such. But what about recycling?

Anyway, the point is, I spent way too much time thinking about this stupid comic, trying to understand the connection. So then Andy came into the room where I was talking to myself, and I explained my conundrum with the cartoon he'd sent.

He started laughing. "You really don't get it?"

I said no.

He said, "they're all things old people do. All it means is you're getting old."

So now I know.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

June 2011

All of the things we adore about summer time.

Blowing Dandelions:

Long walks:

Calvin loves to walk in the irrigation ditches. On one of our outings he pointed out a spider, so we all came to look. It was the biggest black widow I've ever seen. Like the size of a quarter. Maybe they're bigger on farms than they are in houses, but it kind of freaked me out that Calvin had his face right up to it.
On all of our walks we play this game. Calvin and Autumn are strapped into the buggy with the plastic zipping them inside (as if it would protect them if something went wrong). I stand at the top of the hill, and Andy stands down at the bottom. I run as fast as I can pushing the stroller and then let it go, and he lets it glide until it slows down and he catches it, and then he pushes it back to me. The kids squeal and scream and love every second of it. We only had one near disaster when it veered off toward the ditch way too soon. Andy ran as fast as he could and grabbed it, the stroller dragging him as it slowed down. He was torn up from the gravel, but the kids were fine. They thought it was hilarious. We may need to come up with a new game.

The kids working out to Jillian with me:

Calvin wasn't jumping into the pit like he was supposed to, but I think his tower is pretty brilliant.

At the end of each session, the kids get a stamp (usually a froggy) on each hand and each foot. It's their favorite part.

Lazy Mornings:

Happy boy:
Spunky girl:
Anytime we walk into the garage, Autumn heads straight for the lawn mower. She thinks she's so clever because she has started to drive it with her feet. Mostly she just loves when daddy takes her for a ride on it.

The mall's cool play area:

Tea-time with Simba and Nala:

Black Grandpa has new baby chicks:

I love this picture. He looks like a gleeful little elf.

June was a very, very good month.

The End.