Friday, August 21, 2009

Starting Kindergarten

Last week was a big week in this house. Exciting. Nerve-wracking. Tearful. Happy. Hard. It has been an emotional roller coaster this past week.
Brooke started kindergarten on Tuesday. She was mostly excited; but feeling a little sad and scared about being away from her family all day. We would both much prefer 1/2 day kindergarten at this point. Grandma stayed with Hannah and I took Brooke to school for her first day on Tuesday. Once we started getting dressed, loaded, and on our way- there were no tears from Brooke. Nervous smiles and hugs but no tears.

The hardest part for me was holding her hand walking her down the hallway. There was massive amounts of kids and it just overwhelmed me. We were not in our small sweet Christian preschool anymore, and that was hard! But overall- the day went well and we got her picked up after school with a smile on her face.

Far more difficult was putting my baby on the bus on Thursday morning. She gave me some tears before we started getting ready for school, but once we walked down to the corner she seemed fine. Thankfully the neighbor girl agreed to sit with her, which helped. She got on the big bus without any tears (or so I thought). As the bus drove up the street I just started crying. When they came back around the block I was still standing there talking to our neighbor (and had stopped crying) and the bus driver had me hop on so he could tell me something. Brooke was sitting in the front row and looking like she was holding together okay.

(you can see her nerves/fear in her smile in this picture- looking at it after-the-fact)
After school I met the bus, got a big smile, a big hug, and we took about 3 steps and she started to cry. She sucked it up though and wouldn't talk about it...for about 20 minutes... then she said that she started to cry in her class before it was time to get on the bus because "I've only been on Disney busses, and that was with my mommy and daddy. I was afraid to get on the bus without a parent!". I called the neighbor girl for a report and found out that Brooke had cried part of the way to school, and part of the way after school. There were moments of tears off and on thru the evening, and after we got her to bed. I was really nervous for Friday--but she did great. (The promise of candy after school probably helped). This morning we had some more tears (where she said she didn't want to be away from her fun mommy and sister all day, and grandma could just teach her at home), but she got on the bus and did great.
Man I sure hope we all adjust soon. I pray that she loves kindergarten, and grows to not mind the bus. I pray she takes after me in the school-category-- I loved school and was a pretty good student. Matt for the most part hated school. (weird, considering his mom was a teacher!). I really want both our girls to have a love for learning, a respect for their teachers, and a joy of being with others. Both of them seem to be quite social so far, and Brooke loved preschool, so I'm hoping we'll get there quickly with kindergarten too. She's just overwhelmed still at this point, and still feeling a little shy. Say a little prayer, would ya?

So that's the first week of kindergarten in a nutshell. Life has been turned upside down around here! I've got several other blog posts in my head - but I'm going to leave this one just about kindergarten.
Have a great one-!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our 10 Year Anniversary Trip to Vegas!

Matt and I went to Vegas this weekend, as you probably know, to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! We had a great time, and here I am going to tell you about it!

Thursday-leaving the girls and going to Sin City
....Matt worked on Thursday from 5a-noon, and I spent the morning playing with the girls. Brooke had one little "I don't want you to go" crying jag mid-morning but overall did fine with us leaving. I was a little sad putting Hannah down for her nap, and we both thought it was a little hard getting in our friend's car and heading to the airport! We were soon on our way--via a nonstop flight which was great. We just did carry-ons, which was a first for us. I kind of liked it, and I did just fine with packing light!

We got to our hotel-the MGM Grand, and got checked into our "west wing" room category. That place is massive and we knew it, but the pricing and deals just worked out right so we went with it. After getting our stuff dropped off, we decided to walk down to Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin). The sidewalk was torn up, lots of construction, a total mess--and we were thinking "we WANTED to come here!" We are kind of spoiled by the CLEANLINESS of Disney and it'd been 7 years since we'd been to Vegas.
We shopped in Planet Hollywood for awhile and got sanwiches at the Earl of Sandwich. We forgot how expensive things are out there! After we shopped a little more, we went back to the MGM to gamble...a.ka....lose some money.
Matt had been up since about 130a.m. Vegas time, so he was pretty much dead on his feet by about 9p.m. It'd been a long day so we went ahead and crashed for the night. This might be the City that Never Sleeps...but WE SLEEP!
Friday--Happy Anniversary to us!!
We woke up early on Friday morning because we were still stuck on Kansas time! We dawdled around the room and took our time getting ready, then went downstairs to grab pastries at Starbucks. That was the day we decided to be our "Strip" day. There is a monorail that runs from MGM all the way down to the other end of the strip, and it was $12 each for an all day pass. So we decided Friday would be the day we would get one of those, and use it well! We got on and headed down to the Harrah's stop so we could go to the Venetian. We were up so early some of the shops weren't even open yet! We strolled through there, and through the Palazzo area, then onto the Wynn. Hadn't been there yet and LOVED IT! It was gorgeous, and we liked the atmosphere of the casino a lot!
After we were done at the Wynn we went across the walkway to the "Fashion Mall." This place is HUGE! We checked out the Apple Store, some specialty stores, and this kiosk that puts a 3D carving/etching inside the big clear blocks. They are very neat and they could make one from a we thought about that for awhile but ended up not getting one because our photograph of the girls was all the way down at the other end of the strip!

We made our way back to the monorail and took it to the Flamingo. I have family that always stays there and so I wanted to check it out. Not too bad! Liked the casino area. By this time I was starving, but we'd made plans to do lunch with a guy I grew up with-Chris who lives in Vegas with his wife. About this time he texted me that he was gonna be ready to do lunch in a little bit, so we made our way to the Paris for him to pick us up. I had wanted to go to Serendipity 3 at Caesar's because of their famous frozen hot chocolate; so that's where we went! We waited a bit for a table, and it was so good chitchatting with Chris, catching up on a few classmates, and just talking about life in general! I think we had better conversation than we ever did back in high school. It was great hanging out with an old friend!

Let me take a moment to tell you about this massive sandwich Matt and I shared. It was called the "Las Vegas Buffet Steak sandwich" and it was at least a foot long. It was a STEAK sandwich on toasted french bread, and it was divided into 5 or 6 sections each topped with toppings representative of different countries. Man it was good. Massive, but good! Thankfully I had found a coupon for a free frozen hot chocolate with a $10 purchase-- which was good because it was $10!!

After our late lunch we headed off to Bellagio. Part of that will get its own blog-post in a few days, but I just love the Atrium area there. It's just gorgeous. I'll let the pictures do the talking:

We made our way back to the MGM for a bit of relaxation; stopping at the CVS to buy some bottled water and snacks to save us a little bit of money! After hanging there for awhile; we got BACK on the monorail and headed back to Paris and Bally's to hang out. We ate a (relatively) inexpensive dinner, watched the Bellagio fountains, and did a little more gambling. winning! We took the monorail back to the hotel, and walked over to the Luxor to check things out for awhile. They've made a lot of changes since the last time we were there!
Saturday--too much food and a great show!
We'd decided that since we had a $25 food and beverage credit at our hotel, and because it was a good deal, and we wanted to eat dinner at the MGM buffet that night for the crab legs, that we'd buy their "eat all day" meal pass on Saturday. so for about $55 we got breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their buffet for the day. Too much food, especially since we had a later start to the morning, and had planned an early dinner for our 7p.m. show; but it was yummy!
Saturday was "hang at our hotel/our end of the strip" day. We went to MM World because we love it and it's a good place to get souveniers for the kids. We picked up a charm bracelet and personalized stickers for Brooke, a little MM-guy figurine for Hannah and some MMs for them. Then we walked over to NYNY and found some good tshirts to bring back for Matt's parents since they were our babysitters.
Lots and lots and lots of MMs
After a light lunch at the buffet, we decided to go to the pool. ugh.
We should have gone down earlier. I got several "I told you so's" from Matt on this... there was not a lounge chair to be found! It was terrible! Finally I said "we're going to set our crap on this table and get in the water!" we did just that and took a spin around the Meat River. I couldn't believe how many 20-somethings there were piled in there with their drinks. Groups of muscle-bound, chest shaving, tattooed, drinking college guys macking on/ogling the scantily clad, perfect bodied girls. It was nuts. Definately not our crowd. We got out of the river, found 2 lounge chairs, and baked in the hot sun for about 20 minutes. Then we decided (since I hadn't packed sunscreen) that we'd be better off going back to the room to take a nap. It sure made me feel old, and it really made me appreciate the family atmosphere at the YMCA!
But that's all fine and dandy, because our evening was FABULOUS. We had a yummy dinner at the buffet. I got to have crab legs, that's about all I've got to say. I love crab. Yummy. We had decided to dress a little nicer that evening, so Matt had on khaki shorts and a polo and I had a black skirt and cute top. We played a few slots between dinner and the show, and then went into the Ka Theatre as soon as the doors opened.
my dessert plate.

I have no photos from the Ka show--which is a Cirque Du Soleil show; because they absolutely do not allow any photography once you get seated. There was this guy pacing the front while people were (slowly) filing in; who was dressed in costume and in full character. If he saw someone take a picture he'd shout out in his funny accent "naaaawwwwwty Laaaaady!!! No photographs!" We spent 40 minutes listening to him say "naaaawwwwwty Laaady!!" or "nawwwwwwtty man!" and it was funny.
We got our tickets at half price so I splurged for the more expensive seats, and we were in the 5th row! It was awesome. There was this very complex scaffolding-like set up both sides of the auditorium. For the preshow, there were natives of "Ka" or warriors, banging on drums, diving off there. running thru the audience, etc. The show itself was the most amazing show I've ever seen. There were several LARGE platforms that made part of the stage that were on hydraulics, and they would tilt straight up and down like a steep wall that was probably 3 stories tall, and the dancers/acrobats/peformers would scale it. There was some incredible performance of people flying thru the air, including two of the main characters just tethered by their wrist straps. Amazing. Gorgeous. There was a big contraption that was two spinning wheels (like hamster cages) that went round and round and round; that was TALL and fairly fast; with guys running not only on the inside of the wheels; but climbing on the outside/ on top of the wheels and running out there. And jump roping while they did it. And walking on their hands. I cannot tell you how AMAZING this show was!!!!
If you EVER go to Vegas, splurge on the tickets for a Cirque show. They are incredible. Worth every penny. Fabulous. I can't wait to go to another one someday!
We didn't stay out very late on Saturday night because we had to be up at 6 in time to get to the airport and catch our flight. That's okay because we'd had a fabulous time, we were all gambled-out, had bought what we wanted to buy. It was great just to relax that evening and spend time together.
Our flight was about 30 minutes late leaving Vegas, but other than that it was uneventful. We were excited to see our girls! They had done fine for Grandma and Grandpa, but it was great to see them. We were so exhausted from the day of travel and the weekend catching up with us, that it was hard to hold it together till they went to bed! We both were so ready to crash when bedtime came around last night. Matt took today off too just to recover a little more, and as I wrap this up, I'm feeling sleepy myself! The girls were both a little out of sorts today, so we still have some "Getting back into the swing of things" to do...but we are thankful for a wonderful trip together, and glad to be back home with Brooke and Hannah!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Useful Souveniers

I'm sure I spelled souveniers wrong. If I wasn't so tired I'd open another window and check, but right now I'm just blogging. It's my blog so I can mis-spell if I want to. Probably shouldn't have hyphenated that. haha.

SO.... I am leaving for VEGAS in less than 48 hours!! YIPPEEE!!! Matt and I are headed out there to celebrate our TENTH ANNIVERSARY! Ten years. Count 'em. TEN! We actually went to Vegas for our honeymoon, and our 1 and 3 year anniversaries! Haven't been back for seven years, and off we go.

Before I get into the title of this post... I have to say that I have an old friend/classmate that lives in Vegas. His life seems a whole 'nother world to me. We'd talked about him meeting up with us on this trip. I said "well...i'm just not sure where/when we'd meet up. We don't really drink so I don't know that we'd meet for drinks. We don't go to clubs so we're not going to suggest we go clubbing on Friday night. And you eat at much fancier places than we can afford!" His first response was "well, why are you coming to Vegas then?" I said "to escape!". Plus we like to gamble a bit, see the sites, go to a show, etc. You can have fun in Vegas without alcohol... I've done it three times! But anyways- I think we decided to meet for lunch...

Moving on.....!

Ten years ago, on our honeymoon, I wanted to find a souvenier that would be useful in our new home. I'm big into useful souveniers. While we have our share of kitschy knick-knacks and such, it's the useful things I've schlepped home over the years that I like the most. This being said, I do think whole-heartedly that t-shirts and sweatshirts are useful. Those of you who know me, know that I practically LIVE IN my Disney Cruise Line sweatshirt through the winter months. BUT...10 years ago in Vegas I was not in the market for a sweatshirt. I wanted something for our home.

If it hadn't been a crazy evening, and if I wasn't tired, and the house wasn't all dark for the night already, I'd insert a picture here. Of my Las Vegas trivet! I bought a trivet/spoon rest thingy on our honeymoon. It sits on the stove to this day. It's one of those painted square ceramic tiles with the cork on the back, and that souvenier has survived the test of time!! It's been covered in baked beans, hardened peanut brittle that drips off the candy thermometer during Christmas, spaghetti name it. If I've cooked it, it's probably been on this trivet. Now, I have a standing spoon-rest with a little bowl on the bottom of it (Pampered Chef), so that catches a lot of the stuff dripping off whatever spoon I'm stirring with now, but the trivet still gets its fair share of mess since the spoon rest sits on top of it.

So I'm thinking about what I might bring back this time that would be a useful souvenier. Now I have kids to bring something home for. And we need to buy my in-laws something for taking care of those kids while we're gone (did I mention this is the FIRST get-a-way Matt and I have had alone since we had Brooke over 5 years ago?!!?). AND we're only doing carry-ons so it has to be something fairly small.

Some old family friends of mine, that I used to babysit for, always bought a magnet from every place they travelled to. The entire side of their fridge was covered. I always thought that was a pretty neat thing to get, but thus far have not started that particular tradition.

I'm not sure what I'll get, but when I see it I'll know it. Maybe I'll get salt and pepper shakers! :) Well, that would be dumb because I use those grinders with whole peppercorns and sea salt. But you get the idea. Something I can use. Something that will remind me of our 10 year anniversary trip!

In the meantime, what's your favorite souvenier to pick up when you're travelling? Or your favorite souvenier of all time? And if you think about it over the weekend, say a little prayer that we have safe travels, that the girls do good for the grandparents, and that we all have a great weekend!