Thursday, December 24, 2009

All I want for Christmas

The girls were rather difficult to shop for this year. Because their lists were composed of impossibilities.

Things like dogs. Winning lottery tickets. Baby sisters. So not gonna happen.

With list like this. One would think that really. And truly. They are lacking for nothing. They have what they need. And they also have what they might want.

When I took them for their annual visit with Santa. Madalyn asked for a dsi. Katie asked for World Peace.

I hope that Santa brings them an instruction manual on manners. Or living a whine free life. Or maybe one on peaceful siblings. Yep. We are all looking for impossibilities.

So...what about you? What is Santa bringing you and yours?

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vegas, Baby part IV

Where did we leave off? Like a month ago? We went to Hoover dam on the dam bus. Went to a chocolate factory. I think it's a conspiracy. They do not provide lunch...or even an opportunity to lunch. So. When you get to the chocolate buy. And buy. And buy some more. Becaues you are so hungry. You rationalize that you are getting chocolate for your children. Your mom. Your best friend. And then when you arrive back at the dam bus you eat someone's chocolate. Not that this happened to me or anything. It just might happen. So if you go to Vegas on the dam bus. Bring a snack.

We got back to our hotel around 2. Had a yummy meal in the food court. And I decided that my feet had recuperated enough to go and explore more along the strip. Not to walk along the strip. But to schlep over to the bus stop. And ride the 56 miles to the other end of the strip. We got off at the Venetian with absolutely no idea as to what to do next.We admired the outside and the gondolas. And then walked across the street to the Mirage.

It is an odd thing. When you cross the street. To go from the Venetian side to the Mirage side. Because all of a sudden the temperature drops like 10 degrees. It's cool. And rather refreshing. Considering that we are in Vegas. And it's hot. And we've walked 65 miles just to get across the street. Or maybe it was all a mirage.

As we walked along, the landscaping is really lush. There are all these coves of waterfalls. And it's very tropical. But tropical with airconditioning. How ever do they do that? We finally got into the hotel and decided to go back to Siegfried and Roy's secret garden. I had kinda gotten confused. I was thinking that you could see the tigers for free. But I was thinking of the lions at the MGM grand (which we never actually got to see). Which are free. Siegfried and Roy's exhibit? Yeah. Free? Not so much. So when we got to the ticket window it was truly a decision of whether or not we'd pay the $16 a person to get in or not.

And then we decided. Well. I decided. Made the executive decision. That since we walked 24 miles through the hotel and casino back to the Secret Garden...we may as well go on in. And let me tell you. It was worth it. I wasn't so sure at first. Because we got to the dolphin pool first. And it was practically empty. Because they were in the process of refurbishing it. There were two small pools nearby. And there was a lone dolphin hanging out. But as we progressed further back, there was a large pool. With lots of dolphins. Who seemed to be just as curious about the visitors as we were about them.

They would circle around...eyeballing us. They were close enough to touch. Not that we did. Cause I didn't walk 326 miles to get kicked out.After gawking at dolphins...we walked further back and found llamas. Or are they alpacas? Leopards. Or is it a panther? And white lions. The male lion was just pacing. And roaring. I think he was ready for dinner. (Either that or he was just having a friendly conversation with the lion around the corner as they called to each other the whole time we were there.) And the female. Can you not just see the thought bubble? I think she was ready to put a muzzle on those two lions.

And then there were the infamous white tigers. They were just gorgeous. And again. So close you could touch them. Not that we did. (miles and miles of walking) But they were amazing. They responded to the calls and clicks. And they were so playful. They would take turns playing tag. Chasing each other all around the enclosure. And then falling into a pile of kitties. And then the next tiger would take a turn being "it."And even when we left (only because they were closing - cause I could have watched them for much longer!) they followed us...perhaps wondering why we weren't going to watch them play anymore!We walked out of the secret garden and went back inside the casino in search of a seat of some sort so that I could rest my aching toes. We people watched. Lamented the fact that we could not afford tickets to see "Love." And then realized that there IS a free show at the Mirage. And it was back outside. To the outdoor airconditioning. By the waterfalls. And that is the Mirage volcano.

I wasn't sure where we should stand because there was more than one big rock area that could be transformed into a volcano. So we stood. Watched the sky get dark. And all strip become blazing with light.We walked. Trying to find the perfect spot. I am sure that it was no more than 2. Or 7 miles. And we waited some more.

And then the show began. With jungle type music. Maybe didgeridoo. Maybe they just borrowed the soundtrack from "Survivor." But the volcano was quite cool. With lots of flames. And explosions.

And then it all went dark again. We hobbled over to the bus stop. Made our way back to the Monte Carlo. And our last night on the thirteenth floor before we moved on up the street.

So...what about you? Where is the best place you have been to see animals? Ever been to a volcano - real or otherwise?

Catch up on our Vegas adventures:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3 part 1

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Laws-a-mercy. Where has the time gone? And I left you at such a cliffhanger in my trip. I mean. I am sure that you have just been hanging. And wondering what on earth we are going to do after our trip to the Hoover Dam. Well. You'll just have to hang on to your hats a bit longer. And I'll fill you in on the flotsam and jetsam and minutiae that fill my day.

Right before Thanksgiving, my aunt and a bunch of cousins came to visit. We visited. Chatted. Ate lots of PW's brisket. But. I did not take one picture. Not one. I am not sure where I put my brain. Or my camera.

Ugh. And then there is the car. The car that just this summer turned that 100K mark. The car that is otherwise known as the money pit. It died when we went on our cruise last year. It has had flat tires. Battery issues. Electrical issues. Mental issues. So when the check engine light came on, we once again headed to the dealer. While they rubbed their hands together and praised my American lemon. But this time. I just got the minimum amount of work done to make that light go away. And I promptly drove to the Toyota dealership and traded that sucka in. And now. We have a lovely new Sienna gracing my garage.

Lizzy spent Thanksgiving with us. We had a great day. With turkey. More recipes from PW. Family. Friends. And "V." Yes. "V." The original. Oh my goodness. We laughed so hard. And that scene of Diana eating the guinea pig was played over and over again. What? Isn't that how ya'll spent your day?

What about black Friday. Did you shop? Lizzy and I shopped. And I realized how easy Katie is to buy presents for. And how difficult Madalyn is. Especially when her list includes impossibles. Like her own house. A laptop. And a baby sister. But what is the most difficult is my husband. Who is impossible to buy for. Because he doesn't want anything. I had a stroke of genius last year in getting him reusable shopping bags. But this year I got nothin'. Any ideas? What are ya'll getting your significant others??

Did you know that if you create a wishlist on Amazon, you could win a $25,000 gift card? Wait. Forget I told you that.

Speaking of Amazon. Did I tell you that I finally earned money from my blog? Do you see all those book covers there on the left? Well, if you click on those. You will bring up Amazon. You can read more about the book. You can look at other books. Order books. And if you do make a purchase. I get a percentage. A very small percentage. Teeny-tiny. So. After almost 2 years of blogging. I finally earned a $10 gift card.

Oh. Did you want to know what I bought? I did not buy a Christmas gift. I bought a book. For me. It's rather shocking. I am a library girl. But for this book. I didn't want to wait. I got "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner. And wow. What an amazing book. I don't think I have been this riveted to a story since "The Hunger Games." (August 24, 2010 - due date for book three. Not that I am counting.)Have you read either one?

And speaking of books. I just finished a really good one. "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate." It's the story of a girl on the cusp. It's 1899. She is about to enter into a new century. She is about to enter her teen years. Her family is changing. She has an aversion to the female role she is supposed to play. She is trying to figure out who she is. I don't know how to describe except that it was an absolute delight. I wonder if my bookclub would be willing to read it...

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Event Chasing at the Georgia/Georgia Tech game

The day finally arrived. And Michael got to see his alma mater in its ultimate rivalry: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs the Georgia Bulldogs. Tech was favored to win. But. It did not happen. They were plagued by injuries. And the dawgs got bragging rights. For now.

Go read Michael's post over at event chasers. And while you are there...see if you can sign up to be a chaser too!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vegas, Baby part III

Vegas, Day 1
Vegas, Day 2

The Dam bus arrives early at the Monte Carlo. Which required me to set an alarm clock. As the alarms of the construction site could not be guaranteed to go off at the correct time. Or again within 9 minutes to constitute a snooze. So we alarmed. Snoozed. Showered. And dressed.

As we went down for breakfast. Alarms actually started going off in the hotel. Fire alarms. With flashing strobe lights. It was very loud. But no one seemed concerned. Not the workers in the food court. Or the bosses in the pits. Well. Those security guards that were running. They might have been concerned. Yet no one said "get out!" Or "run for your life!" So we stayed and had breakfast. In the food court. With the sirens. And the strobes.

We headed out the doors and looked for the sign to the dam bus.

The drive to the dam is really not that long. It's maybe a 20 minute drive. However. There are two things that slow you down. One is that everyone must go through a security check. No commerical vehicles are allowed to cross the dam. When our bus pulled over, an officer from homeland security came aboard so that he could go through all the overhead compartments.

The other delay is simply traffic. There are lots of people that want to visit the dam. And there are even more people who simply need to pass on by. But they get stuck with all the tourists. And then there are the commercial vehicles. Who simply need to pass on through. They are re-routed about an hour and a half out of their way. At least for a bit longer. As a huge bridge is being built over the canyon and will provide a much more convenient bypass.However. That bridge. That bypass. Is about 2 years behind schedule. And part of it blew over this year. More work is a good idea.

So...our bus parked. And sent us on our merry way to yet another line. Another security check point. X-rays. Metal detectors. Body cavity search. And we were in like Flynn. To yet another line. This time to see a dam short film. Short dam film? It was dam fascinating.

Next? You guessed it. Another line. This time to an elevator. Into the bowels of the dam. We rode down to a spot beneath the dam to see the original tunnels that were built to divert the river during construction.

(See the dam in the diagram above? And the "pipes": that look golden, then gray, then blue? The pipes at the top...there is a line that goes vertically through the diagram? We are at the intersection of the gray pipe and the line at the top. Dam clear, huh? If only I knew photoshop and could write on my picture with an X and say "we are here")

Next we headed back up. This time to see how the water is used to turn turbines so that they can harvest electricity. Electricity is the bonus in this project. And makes it so that the dam can operate as a non-profit.

Finally we headed up to the top and the observation platform. It really is a sight to see. Amazing. And so large that I could not capture it all in my lense. And now that I look at it. I realize that we never had the chance to actually walk across the bridge. Or rub the toes of the winged statues. Sigh. Next time.

In the gift shop we found some very exciting souvenirs for the girls. Dam placemats!

And then we were off to the next part of our three hour tour. The Ethel M. chocolate factory. Chocolate samples for lunch sounded like a splendid idea. And going to a chocolate factory at lunch time. When you are starving. Dam brilliant marketing plan.

So...what about you? What US landmark would you like to visit? What is your favorite chocolate?

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weekend Whimsies

Enough about me....let's talk about you...

rain or snow?

apples or oranges?

Crayons or colored pencils?

Favorite John Hughes' movie?

scented or unscented?

What toppings do you put on your burger?

gift bag or gift wrap?

print or cursive?

corn chips or potato chips?

Favorite soup?

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vegas, Baby...part II

Vegas: Day 1

My body was still on Eastern time when it woke up this morning to an ungodly Vegas hour. But the construction workers were at it full force. And there were half a dozen alarms. Car alarms? Sirens? Fire alarms? Going off. I opened the curtains to see my view. The Monte Carlo has a pretty impressive pool area. You cannot see it all from this photo. But there is a hot tub. A large lounging pool. The lazy river you can see. And that large pool by the river? That is a wave pool. A wave pool. At my hotel. But as I watched. I noticed the palm trees swaying in the steady breeze. Then those palm trees bent. And bent. As the breeze changed to a gust. Note to self: wear jeans today.

Just beyond the pool was the construction of the city center. All those late nights are paying off and the construction looks about done. The monorail pad looks like something out of a Star Wars movie.

I woke up Michael. I had an errand for him to run. I sent him off to the half price ticket booth to see what we might do today. While sending small prayers to the gods of Vegas that Cirque tickets might be in our future. My chore was to figure out how we could meander the strip without walking too much. One of the guide books suggested using the bus. Specifically the Deuce. A double decker bus that runs up and down the strip. 24 hours a day. I got online to figure out where the stops are located. And it says "stops at virtually all the hotels on the strip." Cool. That says minimal walking to me!

My next chore was to go down and buy an excursion to Hoover Dam. And lament over the fact that the Grand Canyon tour was not in our budget. Or time restraints.

I went back to the room to wait for Michael and our cirque tickets. Only to discover that most cirque shows are dark on Wednesday nights. And that we were now the proud owners of tickets to see "The Price is Right." Well. If we can't win at slots. Maybe we can win the big showcase.

By now, it's getting to be late morning. And I am STARVING. My body says it is early afternoon. And I have not had breakfast. Or lunch. We decided that it was a good time to go to the buffet. Especially since we had buy one get one free coupons. And it was even cheaper because we went in a few minutes before lunch was being served. So we got the breakfast price. My husband now feels like he has won it big. We started out with a little breakfast. And then moved right into lunch. It was pretty good.

Then it was time to finally play some slots. This is all that gambling means to me. Pushing that button. And waiting to see what shows up on the pay line. I found a machine that actually paid if nothing was on the pay line. It was kinda like a do-over. So many times I was so close to the big pay off. Centimeters away. I just knew that the next roll would get me to that jackpot. And actually. When we finally walked out. I hadn't lost any money. I think I was up about ten or twenty dollars. Which was good because Michael had quickly lost all of his allotment.

And when I stood up to head out. There was a travesty. My backpack purse. It broke. The strap was no longer attached to the bottom. And I could not carry it like a backpack. I threw it over one shoulder and we headed across the street to catch the Deuce.

I am thinking that it is quite easy to spot the tourists on Las Vegas Boulevard. We are all standing around. Gaping. Spinning to see it all. And taking pictures of just about everything. Then again. All of us at this locale are probably tourists. I think the locals don't venture here unless they have to. We made a mental note to come back to the four story M&M store.We checked out New York, New York. I bet the girls would love to ride that roller coaster. And you can see the other hotels down the strip: NY,NY, The Excalibur, the Luxor is tucked behind, and finally Mandalay Bay. It looks like they are so close. But Mandalay Bay is really 47 miles down the road. Or something like that. Damn mirage

Oh. And look at what else we saw: It was just like being in Atlanta. And it might the only place in town that you can actually buy a coke. When you are craving a coke. And all they have to offer you is Pepsi.

Our bus arrived. We were armed with our exact change. And we found a seat. We needed to go to Bally's. Which is between the Paris and the Flamingo. And Bill's Gaming Hall is in there too. Somewhere. So we are riding along. And we pull up in front of the Paris. Michael suggests we get off here. But. I thought the bus would stop a smidge futher down the street. Right in front of Bally's. Because the website said they stop at all the hotels. (Yeah, yeah. It said "virtually." I chose to ignore that word. Unfortunately.) So we stay on. And we drive on. Right past Bally's. Past Bill's. And right to the edge of the Flamingo. A good 27 miles away from Bally's. Or something like that.

So we begin our trek. That I was trying to avoid. Down to the end of the street. Up to the overpass. Over the street. And towards Bally's. Except that I could not figure out how to enter. There is a huge sign to enter the resort. But it says "Bally's Monorail." And I didn't want to go to the monorail. I wanted to go to the Price Is Right theatre. So we walked more. And some more. To the main entrance. Where we quickly discovered that the monorail entrance was what we wanted. Ugh.

We went to get in line. And we got one of those cute price tag name tags. And had our picture taken in front of a green screen. Where they inserted the big wheel behind us. You'll just have to use your imagination here. Since I didn't buy it. But. I look sweaty. Windblown. Did I mention sweaty?

The show was hysterical. Who knew? Now. This is not the Drew Carey Price is Right. This is the low key version. Again. Who knew that low key exists in Vegas. But it was low key. And hysterical. The host was Todd Newton. Who I have seen on E! And the announcer was David Ruprecht. Who?? The guy that hosted "Supermarket Sweep." Who?? Nevermind.

What made the show was all the contestants. (There were 4 contestants called up for each round of lots of people got to play. Unfortunately, our names were never called.) There was the woman who was visiting Vegas with her friend. Her friend being the man she has lived with for the past 18 years. Who still hasn't asked her to marry her. Then there was the woman who giggled. Constantly. So much giggling she couldn't even give her bid. And there was the woman who brought her purse up with her to bid. Because she didn't trust the people she came with to look after it. Nor could she recall their names. But she knew she had known them for years.

After the show we decided to go and check out Caesar's Palace. And do a little gambling. (The whole time I am thinking about Alan asking "So...did Caesar really live here?") We ambled through the casino. And ambled a little more. And the ambling turned into walking. And we ended up in the forum shops. Which are really cool. The floor is cobblestone. And the ceiling is like the sky. There are fountains. And if you keep going. There is even a fountain of gods. That talk. And while I sat down to listen to the story of Zeus. And Hermes. And Aphrodite. I noticed something.

Do you see it, too? Over in the corner. No, no, no. The other corner. It's a Brighton store! And it was calling my name. I found just the thing. A tiny purse. With a ginormous strap. You should have seen me in the store. Trying on all the teeny tiny purses. To see how much I could still fit inside of one. I am not sure how I made the transition from my ginormous giraffe bag to this tiny thing. But it was done. And we were on our way. Out of the hotel. Because I was sooo not going to amble. Or walk. Or trudge back to the casino.

We finally figured out how to get out of the shops. And I amused myself looking at the spiral escalator. Is that redneck that I was amused? Entranced? Enthralled? One cannot possibly be a redneck. AND own a Brighton purse. Right? Right? Hello?So we headed out of Caesar's to the Deuce stop. And back to the Monte Carlo. Where we played slots again. Had dinner. And went back up to our cologne soaked hall. On the thirteenth floor. So that we could crash at a decent hour. Because we had to be ready for the Dam bus at 8am.

So...what about you? Do you like the Price is Right? Wave Pools? Riding the bus? Brighton purses?

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