24 June 2012

Shout Out West

Today I have a to-do list that's a mile long so it's natural that I would be inspired to come to my blog instead & just avoid any of that pesky work! Lucky you, right?

I'm having a bit of a blog meltdown these days. Life is a bit nutty & has left me at a loss for words - well, not a total loss but my words have been confused, negative or of the four-letter variety so my radio silence is a good thing, trust me. 

So, I'm trying to decide how to handle the blog from here on out. I realize this shouldn't be such an issue as it's just an electronic brain-fart & nothing more profound but I usually enjoy it. But now that Ben is getting older (3 is ridiculously old to me!), it feels a bit like I'm talking behind his back & that's not so nice. Also, I think you know I've had some struggles with his toddlerhood & I really did not like that every blog entry was complaining about someone who is literally one of the most exciting humans that I've ever had the joy to love! 

I thought maybe I'd focus on Evan until Ben settled down a bit & keep this as a more baby-centric blog for a while but I quickly realized that we've been there & done that. Do we really need another round of me wondering why my child refuses to nap & how the hell did he end up in our bed, drinking all night after he was sleeping through the night in his own space for a few months? 

(Sidenote: I actually honestly have no recollection of what brought him into our bed but there are dark days of sleep training ahead of us so I might blog those for my own sanity)

Anyway, so for now I'm keeping the blog to just special occasions or when the spirit moves me to share some stupidity or if my fingers need a good stretching round of typing. 

Which brings me to this entry. 
We went on a wonderful, amazing, out of this world vacation recently. Well, most of it was fantastic - part of it was awful & heartbreaking but such is life. I'll fill you in, don't you worry. 

Obviously I've been living inside my head a bit too much recently. Let's be honest, living inside your own head for ANY amount of time is dangerous to your health so I'm trying to focus outwards & be present in life but when it comes to this little blog of mine, I'm still taking up residence in ye olde cranium. Can't quite decide how to break down the trip to do it justice so I'm just starting to throw things out there for you - some of my favorite aspects of the trip, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, usually just happens to be what order the pictures happened to fall.

Soooooo, wrapping up the most painful introduction of all time, I give you ....
Our Western Adventure

Joshua Tree is literally one of my favorite places on the planet, if not THE favorite - I'm usually one for clutter & hubbub (remind to use that phrase for a future album title) but the desert gets me every time. There is something in the air that makes me ridiculously happy - probably the total lack of humidity so my hair actually lies flight - & I feel totally at peace, as dorky as it sounds.

I don't think I ever told you that we were thisclose to naming Evan "Joshua" instead. Totally were but then I thought my cousin Josh might get a big head about it & that's the last thing the world needs so we went with Evan. Just kidding, I love my cousin Josh & would have been happy to have a son sharing his name but Evan won in the end anyway.

The very very very best part of visiting J. Tree with the family was Ben acquiring a new hobby - he stole one of Ilse's fancy shmancy cameras & decided he is now a photographer. It was awesome. He was awesome. I am currently creating a photo book of his pictures from that evening because some of them are amazing. Some are hilarious but none of them are boring. 

I'll never forget the little bit of time we spent there - it is a very special corner of the world!

I know there are plenty of parents who are not fans of Disney & its influence on kids, plus the idea of a day in any theme park is hell on earth. We are not those kind of parents. For the record, we are also a-okay with those ugly clunky plastic toys that last forever & the kids love but look sloppy in your yard. We can still be friends, right?

Anyway, our day at Disney was perfect. PERFECT. I am terrified to ever go again for fear it won't live up to this trip. Ben was a grouch as the day started but after his first ride his smile got bigger & bigger & we had a blast. Lines weren't ridiculous for a weekend in June & I think we all almost got out of it what we wanted - mostly we were just there to watch the kids experience it, which helped.

Anyway, we watched the evening fireworks & just kept going, figuring we'd head out as soon as either boy started melting down but they never did so as the park closed at midnight we came around the corner & stumbled upon some special friends so I think this picture sums the day up quite perfectly:

I will post most Vegas pictures in a future entry because there aren't many. That was my family's leg of the journey & we are not ones to take pictures - not a big deal but not really helpful when I'm trying to blog about things we've done!

The first part of the Vegas portion was a blast! We had a huge condo in the Hilton building attached to Planet Hollywood & we shared it with my parents & brother, sister in law & their kids so we had the whole gang together. Amaaaaazing that we all managed to pull it off.

Unfortunately, the Vegas section of our travels was cut off as my parents had to rush back to Tennessee to be with my grandmother who fell ill the day after they left to come out to see us. She died the next day so I'm very very glad that they chose to go home to be with her but I missed them terribly & spent the next few days trying to ignore my terrible funk, grieving for my wonderful grandmother & feeling very guilty for dragging everyone out to see us & away from her while she was sick.

Luckily Vegas is a good place for distractions & we had fun dragging the boys all over the place to see the hotels & do some shopping & eating lots of yummy food.

I've been to Vegas several times & love that place, even as a gal who doesn't drink, doesn't care for the clubs, burns in the sun & can't afford to gamble much. It's just a carefree city, I guess. But this trip there was one surprise for me - a hotel I hadn't visited before ...

We didn't stay at The Cosmopolitan (I'll do another blog later about the various places we called home) but we will absolutely try in the future. It is the coolest hotel/casino I have ever seen. I was seriously smitten.

First, they have a bar/lounge that takes up the entire center of the shopping/casino/whatevs area called The Chandelier. IT IS COMPLETELY ENCASED INSIDE A GAZILLION ROPES OF CRYSTALS SO IT LOOKS LIEK A GINORMOUS CHANDELIER!! I abused the Caps Locks so it's clear that I was shouting that at you. Normally I attempt to keep my cool in trendy places & not act like the total yokel that I am but I could not stop gawking at the 3-story chandelier that people were walking around in & hanging out on comfy couches. We tried to get pictures ourselves on the iPhone but it didn't capture it well enough (IT IS GORGEOUS!!). I kept wandering back over to the railing to look out over this place - is it possible to have a crush on a place? Cos I think I'm in love with The Cosmopolitan thanks to this sparkly piece of heaven.

If that weren't enough, while roaming around I spotted this machine:

I was a little surprised because I didn't think cigarette vending machines were still a thing, especially at such a trendy place. Then I spotted the name & looked closer. OH ... MY ... WORD! It was at this point that I physically grabbed Marcel & started shrieking at him in my way too excited voice "Oh my gosh, it's art, look at the tiny little pieces of art. Howmuchisit?Ohmygoodnessit'sonly5dollars.Iwantamillionofthem.Doyouhave5dollars????"
Thus began my obsession with Art-O-Mat.

This was our first acquisition, an adorable little oil painting of a bird! They all have to be the size of a cigarette carton so they fit in the machine & at $5 a pop you are a fool, A FOOL, to not snatch up some pieces for your own art wall. We went back to the two machines we found in the hotel a few times - two were kinda duds as one was earrings (my ears aren't pierced) & one was a friendship bracelet that looked like a demented scrunchie so my one piece of advice is to only choose ones that say oil painting (or whatever you want) not "random" or "surprise." 

During my last art shopping spree, which sounds much better than cheap vending machine emptying, an older dude who works for The Cosmopolitan came up & told us a bit of the history of Art-O-Mat &  how it's actually a really great way to start your art collection. I don't know who he was but I like to pretend that he's a wacky owner/manager eccentric gazillionaire & if I had found the right combination of words, he would have shown us the secret back areas of the hotel & let us borrow his private solid gold golf cart to tour the property. Alas, either I was wrong or "Oh my gosh, this machine is AWESOME!" wasn't the secret code he required.

Anyway, I wish you would visit the Art-O-Mat website & see where you can find one to visit yourself (Washingtonians, there is a Smithsonian location!). http://www.artomat.org/

Aside from the lounge dripping in crystals & the cheap art souvenirs, this place just had a good vibe. Apparently the restaurants are famous ones & the clubs are world-class, which is right up our alley ... not. On the top floor is a little game area with a pool table, big comfy designer looking chairs & no one scolded us for spinning Benny in them like they were made for commoners like us. If I could transport that little game area with their awesome chairs & funky tables made of giant vintage-looking dominoes I would totally take it. 

Kudos to you, The Cosmopolitan! I love you.

I will be back to blog more later, I promise you that but I make no guarantees of when. I think almost all of our trip photos are up on facebook anyway except the handful of wonderful photos that my mother in law took of everyone in Vegas (the Eisele part of the clan was only there for one day) so THANK YOU Debbie for taking so many pictures for those of us doofuses who don't.

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