Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ear Piercing

Sunday after church Little Miss Lauren got her ears pierced. It had been decided last year that she needed to wait until she turned 8 years old (which is still a year away). For about a month, she had really been talking a lot about it and really wanted to do it. I told her to talk to dad. He finally gave in and of course she wanted to do it the very next day. We walked into Claire's soon after they opened, filled out the paperwork, and picked out the earrings. She was so excited and smiling. She had brought one of her favorite stuffed animals (Dumbo) to hold onto, and wanted to hold my hand.

They put her hair back in clips and then the lady marked her ears with a pen where the holes were to go. I was asked to look them over and make sure I thought the pen marks were even.

Lauren started getting nervous and wanted to sit on my lap. She was ready until she saw the lady pull out the ear piercing gun and then she immediately went from smiling and excited, to "I don't want to do this." Well, being the nice mom that I am, I told her she begged to do this and dad agreed, so she was going to have to do this. At this time, two twin girls walked in wanting to get their ears pierced. They were probably about 11 or 12 years old. We decided that Lauren should watch those girls go first, and then go after them. As the twins were preparing for their turns, a 9 year old girl walked in to get her ears pierced. Busy day for ear piercing, huh? The twins sat really still, didn't cry, or act like the piercings were painful, so Lauren was ready. She was still nervous, but I told her she had to do it now because there was another girl in line after her waiting her turn. I ended up having to hold her chin to keep her looking straight because she kept wanting to look at that gun. Good big brother Evan stood straight in front of her and started making her laugh a little to help her through the piercing. We did one ear and she said, "Ow!" For the second ear, she was squirming a little more, but I held her still, and again, she said, "Ow!" but there were no tears! She was brave. She said it did hurt a little, but once she saw those pretty blue flower earrings in her ears, the smiles and excitement were back. The 9 year old who was waiting her turn, her mom had cheered for Lauren and made her daughter watch Lauren, so we decided to stick around and cheer her on. I am so glad Lauren went before this little girl. A soon as the 9 year old sat down, tears started streaming down her cheeks, and she started crying so hard I had to dig out some tissues to give to her mom so she could wipe her nose. She was a nicer mom than me and told her daughter she didn't have to go through with it, but the girl wanted to. She did it and we cheered for her. If Lauren had waited to go after this little girl, I really don't think I could have made Lauren go through with it--she would have been totally freaked out because of the other girl's behavior. But, it's done, and she is so loving her earrings, and can't wait until her 6 weeks are over of wearing these so she can get new earrings.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Look What I Made: Fleece Blanket

Aren't those fleece blankets that are simply tying together strips of the fleece fabrics together so cute? The best part--NO sewing! I've always heard they are easy to make, and they really truly are--I made one a couple of months ago to put in the play pen we leave in the TV room for my nephew to lay on. My first one and it was very, very easy. Just a little time consuming--maybe took a total of 2 hours? I split the work up into 2 days. Here is what I did...

Lauren and I went to the fabric store and found this cute dinosaur patterned fleece, and thought the plain red fleece went nicely with it. Lauren is very proud of this part because she is the one who spotted the dino print that we both fell in love with. I'm pretty sure I bought a yard of each.

The next step is to make sure each fleece fabric is the same rectangular length. They weren't quite even, so I attempted to free hand cut the fabrics into a nice rectangle. Mistake. I finally had to get out a tape measure to help me keep a straight line and I marked the lines off with a marker so I knew exactly where to cut.

There--a perfect rectangle!

The sides of my rectangle were divisible by 7, so in each corner I cut out a 7 x 7 inch square. This step makes it easier for when I go to tie my knots.

Next, I used the tape measure to mark out one inch increments along all sides for knot tying.

After the fringe pieces are cut, tie them into knots. A lot of people when they make these blankets simply take the two pieces of fabrics and tie them together like you are about to tie a shoe before the bow part. I saw a website which showed how to make these pretty knots I ended up making. You bring up the bottom end of the fringe and cross it in front of the upper part of the fringe making a hole, then bring the bottom end up from underneath the hole and pull the knot up to the top of the blanket line--like you are tying a necktie. I realize what I just said is probably clear as mud, but it makes sense in my head. Maybe the pics will help you understand better...

The kids actually enjoyed helping me tie the knots!

Here is the finished product, and here is what I think is a neat part of the experience...Before I even began this project, I knew I wanted to use it in the play pen. But, I never even thought to measure the dimensions of the play pen. Unbelievably, the blanket turned out to be the exact fit for the play pen (with maybe just a little fabric scrunching to make an exact fit). I was amazed!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Las Vegas Part 3: Caesar's Palace

Celine Dion is playing at Caesar's Palace, so Roger found the cheapest airline/Caesar's resort package for our trip. I felt it would be good to stay at the same place she was performing so if the weather was bad, we wouldn't have to walk there worrying about getting wet if it was raining, or ending up with a bad hairdo if it was really windy. Plus, if the concert was long and we were tired, we would be able to go right to our room when it was done, and not worry about walking back to a different resort.

The room was very nice. It was a little larger than most regular hotel rooms. The furniture and bed were very comfortable. The bathroom was lovely. There were many high tech gadgets we've never used before. One example is we couldn't find a "Do not disturb" sign, and then Roger discovered there was a button you pushed that showed "do not disturb" on a little sign outside the door. There was a button you could push to mechanically open and close the curtains that Roger enjoyed. There was even a TV in the bathroom mirror. The shower was huge and had two shower heads and a bench to sit on. The toilet could be closed off by a door. There was a nice sized closet with a safe that we would put the laptop and other valuables in when we left the room. We couldn't believe they did not offer free wi-fi--just another example of how expensive Vegas can be.

The Caesar's Palace resort is huge. Just from looking at the other resorts, I would say it was the biggest in Vegas, but I'm not exactly sure about that. There are many towers of rooms, plus the Forum shops which is like an indoor mall. Not to mention the casinos and restaurants.

The indoor mall was humongous! Very clean and beautiful with many upscale name shops, restaurants, and pretty architecture. There was an Apple computer store and Monday morning we went to stand in line in front of it to try to get Roger an IPad. There were already many people in front of us, and we were only there for about 5 minutes when an employee came to tell us all that they did not receive a new shipment that day. Too bad for Roger, but he ordered one once we got home. Notice the sky ceiling in one of the pics that gave you the feeling you were outdoors--beautiful. There was an aquarium with different fish and rays, and we were able to take a pic of a diver cleaning the glass. Lots of statues resembling Roman gods. There is a pic of a huge coin pool (not sure if it was a fountain show type pool or not), and you will see what looks like a spiral staircase, but it was actually a spiral escalator that you could get off and on for 3 floors. In the pic of me in the halter dress, this was from a shop that wasn't in the mall, but in a little shop near our hotel room tower that we kept passing all the time. I kept commenting on it every time we passed it by about how much I loved the look of it. I finally decided I just needed to try it on. Roger and I took a breath before we looked at the price, and then were presently surprised that it was $68--that's what you would pay at JCPenny for a dress like that. After trying it on (ignore the tennis shoes, and I had my jeans on also) and loving it even more, I decided I needed to think about it for a while. I finally decided I didn't need the dress because where would I wear it and how often? I was sad that I had to say good-bye to this dress--did I mention yet how much I loved it?!?!

The whole reason we went to Las Vegas in the first place was to conclude celebrating my 40th birthday by seeing Celine Dion in concert. The concert was great. She is still an excellent singer, and just beautiful. I think she changed outfits like 6 times--gorgeous gowns! She had a band and orchestra playing for her with great back up singers. She did some special affect type tricks like singing with herself. Have you ever seen shows on TV where they do some kind of affect that looks like the person is on stage, but it's just some computer generated person that looks almost real? That's how she did the singing with herself part. She is funny. She showed videos of her family in which she wasn't always wearing nice clothes or had make-up on. She is like a real person--not an over the top, untouchable super star. She got comfy and sat on the steps of the stage close to the audience, and she even walked down one of the aisles shaking peoples' hands. Her concert hall was beautiful and the chairs were very comfortable. You didn't feel crowded, and there was not a bad seat in the house. The concert had more of a sophisticated feel to it and it was shorter than we expected--a little over 90 minutes. There were many couples there, but it is probably true that there were more women than men. It wasn't necessarily what Roger wanted to be doing, but he was a good Hubby and came for my sake. I even let him go casual--we both wore nice jeans with nice shirts and shoes--nicer than what you see in the pic of me standing by her poster. One of the guys sitting in the row in front of had brought a book to read before the concert began which we thought was hilarious, so Roger took his picture. It was almost like he was making a statement to everyone, including his wife, that he didn't want to be there. There were 4 ladies sitting in from of us who weren't obnoxious in any way, but they would dance in their seats and wave their hands in the air and the usher would come up and tell them they had to settle down. You could see ushers doing this all over the concert hall. You almost felt like you had to do nothing but sit still and just mouth the words to the songs. She sang all of the songs I wanted to hear from her except one. She sang tribute songs to different singers like Billy Joel and Michael Jackson. She also sang a couple of depressing, sad songs--one even made her start crying. Have to say that was kind of a downer. I was just so happy we were able to do this. This is something that I have wanted to do for many, many years. I had to have a tissue in my hand at all times to unashamedly dab away happy tears when she began to sing a favorite song of mine. I'm glad a dream of mine got to come true and I can cross it off of my life-goals list!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Las Vegas Part 2: Sunday

Well, we only had all day Sunday to go see whatever we could fit into the day. I knew there was an M&Ms World, so we headed there. It is 4 stories tall and has so many M&M candy items for sale. We bought a really cute candy dispenser. It is the boy red candy and the girl green candy sitting in a car. You put candy into the back of the car, pull down Red's arm, and it opens up a door in the back to dispense the candy. They had a squished penny machine, so we got one of those for Evan since he collects them. We also saw a 3-D movie which was about 15 minutes starring Red and Yellow. Right next door was a Coca-Cola store. We ended up buying a 3 pack of Barq's Root Beer, Coke, and Cherry Coke flavored lip gloss for the kids to split. These were the only souvenirs we brought home for them. They were a tiny bit disappointed, but we explained to them that this was about the only shopping we had time to do, so they were than thankful for their gifts. They really liked the candy dispenser.

We walked down most of the Vegas strip. All of the high rise resorts/casinos are amazing. They all have different looks and themes. There was a Paris theme, New York, MGM Grand, Caesar's Palace where we stayed, and so many more. Several resorts have thrill rides--inside and outside. There are peddlers on every corner trying to shove fliers at you, or trying to stop you and sell you things. There were many people walking around or sitting on the streets with signs saying they were homeless. There were walkways above the streets so you could cross the street that way instead of on the road. There were even outdoor escalators to take you down or up to/from the walkway to the sidewalk. There was a bus system that you could buy an all day bus pass for $7 that stopped in front of every resort if you didn't want to walk the entire strip.

New York resort (taken from a window at the m&m store). We couldn't get the pic of the Statue of Liberty. Notice the outdoor roller coaster:

Paris resort. Barry Manilow was their headliner. The inside of this resort was beautiful:

The next 6 pics are trying to take a 360 degree panoramic view of the strip. Not too interesting:

But the lights are interesting:

 One of the outdoor escalators:

After the concert on Sunday night, we went next door to the Bellagio and watched their outdoor fountain show. I video taped it with my camera and was so hoping to play it here, and Roger tried really hard to get the video to a size that would load to my blog, but he just couldn't. It was really neat, though. You might be able to find it on youtube?

You definitely see a different set of people at night than you do during the day. There are more women in short skirts, 5 inch heels, and really low-cut blouses. Men are walking around carrying drinks in their hands. So many drunk people. This is all happening outside and inside the resorts. The casinos are empty during the day, but so, so crowded during the night. The waitresses are wearing seductive looking clothes, some women dealers are in corsets, fishnet stockings, and when we walked back into the resort on Sunday night, right there in the middle of some of the gaming tables were some women pole dancing.

What you may not realize is the casinos are not excluded from the rest of the resort. When you check in, you have to walk to different parts of the resort to your room through the casinos. So, whether you want to or not, you have to walk by all of those half dressed, pole dancing women, gaming tables, slot machines--you don't have a choice. I did not know this. I thought the casinos were in separate areas of the resorts from the rooms. Well, isn't that what I expected? Yes, I wasn't shocked in any way, it's just all so ungodly. I finally learned first hand why Vegas is called Sin City. There were some families there, so their children had to witness this, also. A lot of people and families were were from different countries, so maybe they didn't realize this is what Vegas is about? Oh, there's also slot machines all over the airport.

Vegas is also one of the most expensive places I have ever been to. Here's an example--eating. We discovered that the most economical way for us to eat was to join a program called Total Rewards. It didn't cost us anything to join, and we only did it because of the buffet program they offered. There are 7 participating resorts that are in this program (including Caesars where we stayed). By joining, we paid about $48 each for a 24 hour period of buffet eating. We joined at 9:33 Sunday morning, had breakfast, lunch, dinner and then breakfast Monday morning. If we were staying more days, we would have had to pay another $96 for the two of us to have another 24 hours of eating, and we would have had to continue this every 24 hour period. They give you cards and a receipt with the time on it for you to keep with you to show every buffet that participates. We tried to eat one meal at the Paris resort, but the line was way too long, so we ended up eating all of our meals at the Caesars buffet. The food was very good, though, and many dishes to choose from. There are many restaurants at the resorts and on the strip to choose from also.

The buffet dining room was very comfy and clean. See that dessert I'm holding? Chocolate mousse. Let's just say I probably ate more of those than I should have. Soooo yummy!!

When joining the rewards program, they gave us each $5 on our cards to play the slot machines. Well, it wasn't our money, so why not. Roger sat down at a machine and played both cards and won a whopping 24 cents. No, we didn't bother to cash in on our winnings.