Friday, October 26, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kids and Vegas?

About a week ago we packed up and headed to Vegas for a week.  With the boys.  Crazy right?  Tom's brother was getting married and we thought we'd roll a family vacation and a wedding into one. 

Hindsight is 20/20 people.

I rationalized this trip every way to Sunday before we left.  It will be fun!  There is tons the kids could do in Vegas!  We will take them to see all the cool things; the fountains at Bellagio, the pirates at Treasure Island, the stratosphere! We will go to the Hoover Dam. Fun! It wont be that bad....

The stomach ache started about a week before we left.  You know that pit feeling you get when you know something bad is going to happen.  I tried to push it away.  Blame it on nerves of traveling with the boys for the first time on an airplane (luggage, security, boarding, the flight).

My fears were pretty much confirmed the second we got off the plane.  Judging by the looks we got as we toted our boys through the airport pretty much confirmed what I had feared.  We'd made a huge mistake.  

Vegas is not the ideal place to take kids (as if anyone thought it was).  If you are thinking of taking yours,  I'd rethink it at least twice.  I definitely lost a few years off my life and a lot of sleep worrying about them and wondering why the hell we thought this was a good idea. 

Yes, we did have some fun while we were there.  Yes during the day we did take the kids out and they weren't (as far as I can tell) scared for life.  The boys has a blast.  They were sad to leave.

But if I had to do it again?  Not in a million years.

However, I did learn a few things about taking kids to Vegas.  Not that I am EVER going to do it again but if you are reading this, maybe you are.  And maybe I can spare you some of the anxiety I had while we were there.  Learn from my mistakes. 

1. Rent a car 
Most people who go to Vegas don't rent a car.  After all if you are staying on the strip you probably wont need one because everything is right there.  We rented a car initially because we were there for a wedding and we knew we'd need the car to get to the rehearsal, the wedding, etc.  Turns out the car was literally a live saver.  Trying to walk anywhere in Vegas takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  Now imagine doing that with a couple of people who have really short legs and walk really slow.  The rental car saved us.  If we wanted to go down the strip, we took the car.  Yes its a pain in the ass to have to drive it, park in the massive hotel parking garages (parking is free by the way) but it is way less hassle than dragging your kids around and listening to them whine about how tired/hot/hungry/ they are.  Plus renting a car means you aren't confined to the strip.  We ventured out and got snacks at a grocery store to keep in our room (another live saver)  and were able to eat at restaurants that didn't charge 3x the price the strip does. 

2. Stay off the strip
If you are going to Vegas with kids, it's not going to be like the hangover.  You aren't going to be spending all your time in the casino or at the bar so what is the point of staying at a hotel that is literally a giant casino and bar?  This was one of our mistakes.  We thought staying at a hotel on the strip with a "family friendly theme" would be a great place to have the kids and more accommodating to a family.  Plus we got a great deal.  Wrong.  Any hotel on the strip is all about the gambling and drinking and regardless of the theme is accommodating to people pumping the slot machines full of quarters.  Anywhere you need to go in the hotel you have to walk through the casino.  They design them that way.  Walking a few small children through a massive smoke filled casino?  Not fun. We could have had a much nicer room at a hotel off the strip for probably the same price or less than what we paid.  Plus all hotels on the strip now charge a resort fee.  We paid an additional $15 per day.  Doesn't sound like a lot but you add that up over a week?  That's an extra $100.

3. If you do stay on the strip, don't go cheap
If you can't imagine Vegas without staying on the strip don't book the lowest rate room you can find.  Walking around to other hotels on the strip made us realize pretty quickly why we got such a deal on our hotel.  It sucked.  While in a great location on the strip it's one of the older hotels.  It really hasn't been updated.  Some of the rooms haven't been redone for a long time and the updated rooms weren't that great (we found this out the hard way when we checked in.  They put us in the crappiest room they had and then of course when we wanted to move to something nicer we had to "upgrade".  Another $20 a day.  Bait and switch my friends, at it's finest).  Some of the other people who came for the wedding stayed at another hotel on the strip and paid a few hundred dollars more than we did for the week.  Their room was like a spa.  And again, you've got the kids.  You are going to spend a lot more time in your room than if you didn't have them.  Spring for a nicer place, a nicer room.  You'll be glad you did.  

4. Plan things to do off the strip
There is only so much of the strip you can handle.  If you've been to Vegas sans-kids you know this.  That's why most people only stay a few days and if you are bringing the kids chances are you aren't just staying for the weekend.  What saved our sanity was getting away from the strip, the smoke and the chingchingchingchingching of all the casinos.  We went to Hoover Dam one day.  We hit up a few restaurants and stores that we don't have in our state.  We visited Tom's family.  If all else fails, plan a pool day at the hotel and hang out.  We did this for an afternoon and the kids were in heaven. 

5. If/when you hit the strip do it during the day
I'm sure this is common sense to most people.  We did go out on the strip one day with the kids and they had a lot of fun.  We didn't go too far and only went out for a few hours.  We went to M&M world, the Coca-Cola store, the city center mall.  We hit up the rain forest cafe.  We saw lots of fun G rated street performers (spider man, hello kitty, a smurf, a very impressive bumblebee transformer, sponge bob and Patrick, a golden statue guy).  There isn't as much drinking on the street during the day either so that makes it a little easier to take the kids out, less chance you'll run into a pack of drunk bro's.  

In the end, we were very happy to come home.  It was an experience to say the least.  Tom and I were so traumatized by the whole ordeal we've sworn off Vegas indefinitely.  Neither one of us feels the need to ever go back.  The boys on the other hand?  They are already planning their next stay. 

My favorite thing the boys said while we were there: Whenever Parker would talk about home he would say "When we go back to America....." Guess Vegas is a world of its own. Poor kid thought we were in a foreign country the whole time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Week in Pictures

My little El Luchador

Can't go wrong if your noodles made with Japanese technology

He wants a razor for Christmas.

Lost Tooth!

Fun at IKEA

Dare Devil

My Christmas cookies are literally going to kick ass this year.

Hen and chicks

Garden out of control

A lunch break
Good advice from the elevator

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to school, back to crazy

4th grade and Kindergarten. ::sob::
My boys went back to school on Tuesday so we are a few days into the new school year.  This year is bittersweet because my little guy is in Kindergarten.  Nothing tugs at your Mama heartstrings more than one of your babies starting school.
Lining up before school.  He'd already made a new "best friend" before they got inside :)
Back to school also means back to crazy.  The relaxed summer schedule we've had for the past three months is now replaced by early mornings and hectic evenings.  Gone are they days of waking up on your own time, days filled with fun at summer camp, evenings for playing and a relaxed bedtime (but not too relaxed because Mama still needs some quite time and an occasional glass of wine).  I know we are only a few days in but man, I cannot wait until we hit our stride.  School days are driving me batty.

For example, this is how a typical day during the school year can look like this:
6:00 am - I'm up.  Have to get ready before everyone else!
6:50 am - Tom is up.  Lucky bastard.  I guess when you don't have to blow out your hair, shave, tweeze and apply make-up you get almost an extra hour of sleep.
7:00 am -  Kids are up.
7:00 - 7:30 am - Kids get dressed, eat, put lunches in their back packs.
7:30 am - Off to school
7:40 am - Bell rings, drop offs done.  Off to work!
8:05 am - 4:30pm - Work, work, work, work and work
5:00 pm - Pick up kids
5:10 pm - Hit the door (here is where the real fun starts)
5:11 pm-10:00 pm - Get the kids a snack, start dinner (which usually involves some new recipe that I found that sounded easy but is quickly turning into a two hour event), start laundry, referee a fight or two, yell at the dog to quit barking/chewing on the kids/chewing on things that are not hers/, let the kids out to play, call the kids in for dinner, eat, try to ask about school and be greeted with blank stares and grunts, do dishes, forget laundry in the washer so you can re-wash it tomorrow, start homework time, pack lunches, get stumped on 4th grade math question neither you or your kid understands (seriously, wth?), go to scouts, get outfits ready for tomorrow, finish homework, start baths, referee another fight, finish baths,  mop up the bathroom floor and scrub the ring off the tub from crazy dirty kids, read, referee yet another fight, brush teeth, put kids in bed, field at least half a dozen trips out of their room (I need to pee, I need a blanket, I need a drink, I need to pee again), pick up so the house only looks partially trashed instead of full on destroyed, finally have two seconds to say hi to the mister, workout (we are going to Vegas in a month, its crunch time)
10:01 pm - Collapse into bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day.

Exhausted?  So am I.

If god forbid we have to run an errand the whole thing gets out of whack (as if its in control now) and I'm lucky if I get to bed before 11.  And to Tom's defense he is right beside me through all of this and does his fair share of the load.  Props to you single Moms out there, its hard to keep up and there are two of us. 

Eventually we settle into the crazy.  It becomes our new normal and we adapt.  I'm thinking of trying to figure out a way to make the evenings less stressful but so far its been exhausting just thinking of adding yet another item to the 5:00 - 10:00 time slot.  :)


Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 2012 Birchbox

Yeah, It's Birchbox time!

For about 6 months now I've been subscribing to a service called Birchbox.  For $10 a month you get a handpicked selection of beauty samples that can range from perfumes, to make-up, to skin care.  When you sign up you fill out a beauty profile and they send you stuff that they think you'd like.  So far it's been really fun to get it each month and it's like Christmas because you never know what you are going to get. 

Each month they seem to have some sort of theme and this month was "Beauty School", a little play on back to school.
How it looked straight from the mailbox

The inside box....

 So what's inside my Birchbox this month?  Lots of great stuff!

DDF Brightening Cleanser.  

This stuff so far is great.  It doesn't really have much of a scent which I appreciate.  It's a foaming gel that uses skin brighteners to fade discoloration and even out skin tone.  Great because as it's nearing the end of summer I've noticed a little unevenness on my face, too much time in the sun :)

Viva La Juicy La Fleur Perfume.
This smells AMAZING!  I love the original Viva La Juicy and this may be even better.  The official description from the sample is "This modern scent is a feminine blend of wild berries, mandarin, and waterlily".  Definitely thinking of picking some of this up.

Whish Three Wishes Body Butter

The jar says the scent is pomegranate but it smells more like a floral to me.  The texture is great, not too thick and it absorbs really quickly without feeling greasy.  I will probably only get a few uses out of this because the jar isn't very big.

Miss Jessie's Original Pillow Soft Curls
I haven't had a chance to use this yet.  It's a hair lotion that is suppose to leave your hair frizz free and feather light.  The package says it is the first "fabric softener" type styling lotion for your hair.  I'm intrigued....They sent me two 1 oz samples which is quite a lot of product.  I think I'll be able to get at least 5 or 6 uses out of this.  Enough to see if I like it.

***UPDATE:  Used this morning.  When they say fabric softener for your hair they literally mean fabric softener.  No joke, this smells and looks exactly like downy (it's light blue).  Not sure this is for me. While I do have naturally curly hair I blow it out and never really wear it curly. This seems to be more for gals who want to wear their hair natural. That being said I still used it on my hair and did a blowout.  Can't say it really did anything (hair does feels soft, not weighed down or greasy) but again, this is more for if you were going to leave your hair curly.  

Schick Hydro Silk Razor

I've actually been using this exact razor and the timing couldn't have been better because I was on the verge of needing a new one.  This razor works great, my only complaint would be that it seems to go dull faster than some other disposable razors I've used.  Or maybe it's just because it's summer and I'm shaving constantly.   A little bonus, there are two $4 off coupons on the back. Yeah!

And lastly they included a "Beauty School" booklet.

 This was kinda fun.  It has all sorts of tips on the inside like getting a better shave, how to read labels on beauty products, makeup quick fixes and skin care tips.

Want to start getting a birchbox of your own?  Click here! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DIY Kids PVC Sprinker (aka Kid Wash)

It's bath night at the P&R house!

Like many, one of the things I love to do in my spare time is peruse pinterest.  I've spent many evenings clicking through picture after picture wasting away the minutes "pinning".  Mentally I've remodeled and redecorated my house, bought a whole new wardrobe and made every craft known to man 10 times over.  Its kinda therapeutic and feels oddly productive.  Don't ask me why because other than a recipe here or there I rarely put anything in action from my pinterest life into my real life.    

But this weekend in a fleeting moment of motivation the hubs and I actually crossed over and put a pinterest project into action.  

A while back I found a pin for a "kid wash".  The original idea came from an instructables post found here and here.  Basically it is a sprinkler made from PVC pipe.  Looked easy enough and seemed like a reasonable entry level pinterest project we could accomplish.  After running it by the boys we decided on the mister jet version and were off to the hardware store for supplies.   

What you will need:
2 - Ten foot long lengths of PVC (we actually used CPVC)
3 - end caps
1 - threaded female hose connector
2 - 90 degree elbow joints
2 - T connectors
1 - Pack spray jets
PVC Primer and Cement
(note: our PVC and connectors where all 3/4 inch)

We found all of our parts down the same aisle where they had all the sprinkler parts.  Your hardware store may be different.  Also make sure you are getting parts for the correct dimensions of your PVC.  I noticed our hardware store had parts for 1 inch and 3/4 inch PVC and they were all mixed together.  Make sure you don't buy 3/4 inch PVC and 1 inch connections.  It wont work out so well and then you will have some unhappy kiddos.

Next, cut your PVC pipe. You will need to cut as follows:
2 - 5 foot sections (these will be the sides of the sprinkler)
1 - 4 foot section (this is the top of the sprinkler)
4 -18 inch sections. (these make up the base of the sprinkler)
If you cut your pipe correctly, the two 10 foot pipes should give you exactly what you need.

After the pipe was cut the hubs filed down the edges to make sure there were no burs left behind to clog up our sprinkler once we had water running through it.  Since we went for the mister jet version we didn't want any particles of PVC clogging it up. Again, this would lead to unhappy kiddos.

Now its time to decide how many holes you want in your sprinkler.  We bought a pack of 10 spray jets so we decided to add three on each side and four on the top.  We measured for spacing but honestly I think you could eyeball this if you wanted to.  We went every 10 inches on the side and 9.5 on the top.

 Now drill the holes.  We used a drill bit slightly smaller than our spray jets.  We also found it easier to drill the holes if we scored the PVC with the file first, just to give the drill bit a little something to grab onto.  It may also be easier to lay the pipe on the ground.

Add the spray jets.  Our spray jets were threaded and we did not prime or glue them in.  Just simply screwed them into the openings.  Hubs did have to use gloves for this part because it was a tight fight.  Make sure all your spray jets are facing the same direction. 

 Time to put it all together!  Don't worry, this part goes fast.  First, prime all your connections. 

Assemble the base first.  Take a T joint run PVC glue along the insides of the two parallel openings and insert an 18 inch piece on either side.  Repeat with the other T joint.  You should have an open connection on top like this:

Now add your caps and female hose connector to the open ends of the pipe.

Glue the 5 foot sections into the opening of each T joint on the base pieces.  Make sure your spray jets are facing so they will spray towards the inside of the sprinkler.

Prime your elbow joints.  Glue one to the top of each side section and add the 4 foot top piece.  Again, check your spray jets. They should face so they will spray downward. 

 Now comes the hard part, waiting for the PVC glue to cure.  The directions on our box said 15 minutes to handle and 2 hours to completely cure.  TWO HOURS!?!  The boys were crushed.  So after about 20 minutes we "tested the waters" (ha!) and let her rip....
 Success!  No leaks, no blowouts, no spray jets flying off and taking someones eye out.  Now I'm not recommending you go against the PVC glue gods and tempt your own fate by not letting it completely cure, I'm just saying it worked for us. 

(Hopefully this was easy to follow, my apologies if it wasn't.  I'd go read the instructables posts if you got lost.  They seem like they are professionals.  This is my first tutorial.  Be nice. :) )

The boys have really enjoyed this so far.  The only problem I can see with this is storage.  Since it's glued together there isn't really an option of disassembly over the winter.  And at 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide its no small potato.  But even if it doesn't make it to next season this was so easy to put together and didn't cost us more than $25 so a rebuild wouldn't be a big deal. 

So one successful pinterest project in the books, only 1,469 more to go :)

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