What shall I do?

I know I want to run a 5k and half marathon. Okay, so I want to run, but I will end up power walking instead. Maybe try out some new ethnic cuisines. Travel to some new spots. Try some new classes. Support a new charity. Some may be exciting adventures, some may be boring. I welcome your suggestions for something new to try.

Monday, August 29, 2011

#19 - What Happens in Vegas...Goes in the Blog

On August 11th, my baby girl turned 21!  A celebration was in order so we planned our first girls trip to Vegas for August 10-13.  We originally planned to drive, but something told me to check the web and lo and behold, we could fly for just a little over $100 each, cheaper than the price of gas.  Bally's had a special and we got a room for three nights with a $25 pool bar credit for under $200.  We overpacked our bags and headed for the airport to grab some lunch before our flight.

It didn't start out well.  The line for the skycap took 20 minutes.  It was midday and the parking lot was packed.  Add another 30 minutes to look for a spot, wait for the shuttle and take the long ride to the terminal.  The line at security was longer than usual, but it normally moves pretty fast.  I've never spent more than 15 minutes in the line there.  I'm not sure what the problem was, but the line was slow and several times we weren't moving at all for several minutes.  This went on for 30 minutes as we made our way through half the line amid restless passengers.  Finally the line started moving at a normal pace again and we got through the final half in only 10 additional minutes.  Add another 5 to get through the TSA checkpoint and a 5 minute dash to the gate and we boarded just as they were about to give our seats away to those on the waiting list.  It obviously wasn't just us as more boarded well after we were seated and they looked as hungry as I was.  I grabbed some candy from my purse and wondered if I should even bother to try my luck at the slots this trip.

But things got better.  OK, so the line for the taxi was unbearably hot.  Then they got better.  We got an upgrade to a bigger room that overlooked the pool.  We unpacked and set out to find some food and fun.   We did some shopping at the Miracle Mile before heading over to the new Aria hotel and shops.  We found a Wolfgang Pucks for dinner (another first for me) and shared a meat platter appetizer before our pizza's.  It was expensive and delicious.  We went back to the hotel, grabbing some desserts in Paris, and made plans to head to the casino at midnight where Ariel could put a dollar in the giant slot machine as she turned 21.  Then we made the mistake of sitting down on the beds.  Ariel decided her approaching advanced age meant she could justify the early night and opted to stay in.  I didn't even get to wish her a happy birthday at midnight as she was fast asleep by then.

I let her sleep in on her birthday and once she was finally up we headed out.  She hit the giant slot with no success so we headed to the Forum Shops where we found the most delicious cupcakes for a late breakfast.  For lunch we headed through the Venetian to the Palazzo and Cafe Luxe for lunch (two more firsts).  We hit more shops over at the Fashion Show before dragging ourselves back to the hotel with tired feet and lots of packages.  A quick rest and we decided to head back to Wolfgang Pucks for a meat platter redux and share some pasta.  The meat platter had prosciutto, mortadella, salamis and various sopresattas with cheese, grilled squash and marinated olives.  It was to die for. Feeling stuffed, we did a bit of gambling on the way back and finally ended up in the room with some dessert.  

It was all good, until a group of four young gals moved in next door and decided to smoke in a non-smoking room which drifted into our room under the connecting door.  More irritating than the smoke was the noise they made as they loudly chatted and giggled.  Sometime after midnight I fell asleep, but was awakened several times by coming and going, their chatter and the smell of more smoke.

Friday brought more shopping, gambling and food.  Oh, and a complaint to the front desk about our smoking neighbors who assured me they would take care of it.  Ariel won a $30 jackpot on the penny slots and cashed out. We had lunch in Paris.  For dinner we headed back to Wolfgang's and got the meat platter to go and picnicked back at the room with that and a leftover cheese platter from lunch. Yes, it was our third night in a row with the beloved meat platter.  Plus we'd grabbed several flavors of cupcakes from a shop in the Monte Carlo.  It was a good thing there was no scale in our room so I could live blissfully in denial.  The gals were smoking again so before we headed out for a bit more gambling we complained to the front desk again.  When we came back the room, all was quiet next door and there was no smell so it was a peaceful night.

Saturday morning had not quite dawned when the fire alarm went off at 6:30 am.  I ignored it. Granted, Bally's is in the former MGM Grand location that caught fire in the 80's, killing 85, so I probably shouldn't have taken things so lightly.  But this isn't my first hotel fire alarm.  The first few you evacuate, walking down the 20 plus flights of stairs in your jammies.  I still remember the time the fire escape exited the hotel on the backside of the block and we had to walk around the whole block to get back into the hotel (at 3 a.m. in our jammies).  After that you get a bit more jaded.  If there's no smoke, I stay put until the hotel figures out the exact situation.  It took another five minutes, but they shut off the alarm and we got a bit more shut eye.  As there wasn't a peep from the gals next door, I assumed they had been moved the previous evening while we were out.  Or maybe they were kicked out and they are the ones who pulled the fire alarm.

We had some time before our late afternoon flight so we headed out to do a bit more penny gambling and then used our pool bar credit on some very expensive frozen drinks before stowing our luggage with the bellman.  We headed back to Cafe Luxe for lunch and then to the mall to return a shirt that Ariel felt busted her budget (she gets that from her Grandma, not me...LOL).  Things took a bit longer than planned so we rushed back to the hotel to grab our bags and take a cab to the airport.  Ariel hit a $15 jackpot at the airport and again cashed out.

All in all, it was a terrific girls trip to Vegas filled with lots of little firsts.  I won a little and lost a little, but scored big at the Macy's clearance rack.  I got to see my daughter try out quite a few firsts of her own.  The girls had a great time in Vegas, even if much didn't happen there...

Monday, August 8, 2011

#18 - Brushing Up...

I'm one of the millions of Americans who hates going to the dentist.  It's not just the pain endured, it is the amount of money you have to pay the guy who inflicts it.  That just seems so wrong.  But even before I had to pay my own bills, a visit to the dentist caused me great anxiety.  Growing up, the dentist was a friend of the family.  If he would come to see my Dad, I would run screaming into the house.  At his office my Mom said I would cry so loud that she would just sit in the waiting room pretending I was someone else's child and not hers.  I can still remember every detail of that office I visited so often as a result of my poor teeth.

Besides the pain, I have one other gripe with my old dentist.  Somewhere around the age of 10-12, I was no longer allowed to go to the toy drawer and pick a prize.  I deserved a prize after putting up with that kind of trauma.  I personally think today my current dentist should be offering me a free manicure or pedicure after every visit.  Lord knows I have paid for several of his vacations so it seems like I should get a little reward.  The physical pain is easier to manage now than when I was young, but the anxiety level has increased ten fold.  I gladly pay the $25 extra for the laughing gas.  So why not charge me an extra $25 bucks on that $900 crown and let me pick from a treasure chest of adult themed goodies like jewelry and spa services.  However, the real key seems to be trying to avoid going at all.  I need to do whatever is possible to not need to visit the dentist.

As a result of my extreme couponing challenge, I managed to snag a Sonicare Electronic Toothbrush for next to nothing.  My dentist has recommended them for years, but as he also sold them I was unimpressed with the endorsement.  Prices have come down considerably and they now have an economy model.  Target had it on sale for half off awhile back and with an additional manufacturers coupon I got it cheap.  It was time to enter the world of hi tech teeth brushing.  Then it sat in the box on the counter for well over a month until a tooth started hurting me.  I made an appointment with the dentist and broke open the package.

The toothbrush is nothing like the electric toothbrushes of my youth.  Those just did the brushing for those who were truly lazy or wanted a novelty.  This uses ultrasonic vibrations of some kind to clean your teeth.  Think of an electric toothbrush as a robin flapping it's wings.  The Ultrasonic is like having a hummingbird in your mouth.  Because of it's intensity I thought it might give my gums trouble, but it is gentle as it cleans around the gum line.  In fact, it is gentler than my soft bristle manual toothbrush.  In the couple of weeks since I have been using it, I had a root canal and a temporary crown, then had the root canal finished up a week later and permanent crown put on.  Through it all this tooth brush performed like a champ.  It leaves my teeth feeling cleaner than a regular toothbrush.  I like it a lot.

I'm hoping this new appliance can cut down on a few trips to the dentist over it's lifetime, unless of course they start offering that treat chest filled with goodies I can choose from...