Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vegas Vacation--Day 6

We spent another fun day on The Strip. First we visited The Mirage, where we enjoyed seeing the beautiful white tiger, the incredible indoor rainforest and waterfalls aplenty. Then we went over to Treasure Island to see the pirate ships. We spent the rest of our time (until about 2:00) in the Venetian, which was so much fun. We rode the gondola, saw living staues, and saw a neat performance which was sort of a mix between a circus and an opera. We also had some fantastic gelato. We decided to cut our day a bit shorter today so we could catch some much-needed naps. We'll hit it again tomrrow.
White Tiger at The Mirage

Ruth and Jeff on the gondola

Ruth with opera singer

Waterfalls at The Mirage

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vegas Vacation--Day 5

We rose with the roosters this morning once again (5:00 local time), so we got off to a nice early start. First, we drove up and down the Strip, trying to decide where we wanted to begin our adventure. We decided on the MGM Grand, where we immediately made our way to M&M World so we could create our own bag of M&Ms. From there, we went over to the Lion Habitat, where we saw two adorable little 4-month-old cubs. Eventually, we made our way over to New York New York, where we enjoyed some yummy ice cream in the little Big Apple. From there, we visited Excalibur, which completely thrilled Ruth because it was a real castle. Then we took pictures outside the Luxor of the Sphinx and Pyramid. And finally we went over to Mandalay Bay, where we saw the most amazing aquarium. We ended the day with a wonderful meal at El Jefe's, in honor of my wonderful hubby. We walked at least a million miles today, but we really had a blast. Can't wait to see what we get into tomorrow!

Golden Crocodile--Mandalay Bay Shark Reef

New York New York


M&M World


El Jefe at El Jefe's

Vegas Vacation--Gallery

Family Pic at Hoover Dam

Kids on petrified log at Petrified Forest

Family Pic at The Canyon

Grand Canyon

Kids at KOA in Grants, NM

Vegas Vacation--Day 4

Is is only Day 4? My goodness. We've packed so much in I would have thought we'd have been gone a week! On Sunday, we got up very, very early (about 4:00, Texas time) and began our adventures for the day. We played in the snow and then hopped in the van and made our way to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, where we saw some really neat sights and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Then, we were back in the van for a few hours, finally arriving at our destination for the day: The Grand Canyon. Just as we entered the park, we encountered a herd of elk--there were about 20 of them that we could see, and they were very close to the road, making it a perfect picture opportunity. From there, we made our way to some of the look-out points of the canyon, and I must say words cannot even begin to describe what we saw. Amazing, just amazing! We checked into our hotel room, which was just a quarter of a mile from the canyon's rim, had some dinner and then went into a nearby town to see an IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon. We promptly fell into bed at 8:30 (local time), exhausted, excited and full of anticipation at what the next day would hold. We hopped up this morning (not quite so early, but certainly early enough), had some breakfast, learned some lessons about spending money wisely, bought some souveniers, and headed for the other end of the canyon from what we saw yesterday. Even more breathtaking, if you can imagine. I was totally blown away! When we had taken in all our eyes could hold and more than our memories could, we made our way to the Hoover Dam, where we stopped for the full tour. Very interesting! That dam is truly a piece of work. It's amazing it was ever built at all, much less that it was built at time when brains cranked out those engineering problems rather than computers! From there, we made the last short leg of our journey, and finally arrived at Jeff's parents place this evening. We are very happy to be here, and we are looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. I will make every effort to post some pictures tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Vegas Vacation--Day 2

We hit the road yesterday afternoon and found ourselves at the end of the day in Haskell, TX, welcomed by excited grandparents, a fabulous home-cooked meal and a comfy bed. Then after breakfast this morning, we were on the road again, making our way to Albuquerque, NM, where we stopped to have an early dinner with my dear friend Tiffany and her family. Our final stop of the day has landed us at the KOA in Grants, NM. Now, I have never stayed at a KOA before, but I can promise you I will frequent them in the future. We were greeted with our key, the campground rules and a bag of yummy cookies. Then, we made our way to the cutest cabin, which is just perfect for our little family of four. Ruth is just about to burst, she's so excited about our adventure. The traveling has been smooth and easy...and fast, since the speed limit changed to 75 once we reached NM--meaning we pretty much had to drive 90 to stay up with traffic. NM is covered with a beatiful blanket of snow and the mountains in the distance are absolutely breath-taking. Hopefully, we will be able to take some pictures tomorrow to share with you. Tomorrow were off to the Petrified Forest, The Painted Desert and finally, the Grand Canyon. Stay tuned for more Vegas Vacation stories...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Viva Las Vegas!

Our Vegas Vacation starts tomorrow, and we are so excited. The bags are packed and loaded, so the minute Jeff gets home from work, we are out of here. AhRoi (my computer--pronounced "Ahoy") will be making the journey with us, so I will hopefully be able to keep you up-to-date on where we are and what we're doing. It's just too hard to try to catch up after almost two weeks.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It Pays To Be Friendly

Last night, while I was working out, I fell into friendly conversation with the lady working out next to me. When I was all done, she caught up with me at the door and said, "Hey. I wanted to give you something." I couldn't imagine for the life of me what she wanted to give me. Then she said, "I'm a Mary Kay consultant, and because you were so friendly tonight, I just wanted to give you a $13 gift certificate to use on my website." I was floored. Things like this NEVER happen to me! I don't normally use Mary Kay products, but I may just have to start. And not only did I get a cool gift certificate, I also made a new friend. It definitely pays to be friendly!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Take It Like A Man

We went in to the pediatrician's office today to get Weston's ears checked out. He is free of infection and quite healthy. But, while we were there the doctor noticed on his chart that he never had the flu booster he was suppose to have gotten, so she wanted him to have it today. So, the nurse came in and stuck him right in the leg. He winced ever so slightly and went "ugh." He didn't even act like he was going to cry. It was an incredible display of toughness! And most impressed of all was Ruth. She said, "Man. He didn't even cry. I always cry when they give me a shot because I hate shots!" Truth be told, she starts crying way before they give her the shot, so by the time they actually give it to her there isn't anything left to cry about. Weston is definitely the man. He was laughing it up before I could even get his pants pulled up.

Monday, January 22, 2007

1st Day Of Gymnastics

Ruth had her first day of gymnastics class today, and it sounds like she had a blast. There were some friends in her class that she knew from preschool last year and, of course, she made lots of new friends. I stayed only long enough to take a couple of pictures, but she's been talking about it all day, and she even showed us a few of her new moves. She can't wait to go back when we get back from our vacation.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Local News Blues

When the heck are the local news stations going to realize their uselessness and go away and leave us alone? I absolutely cannot stand the local news. I hate the way the anchor people carry on pointless banter, and the way they insist on reporting on things that don't even remotely resemble what I would call news. And don't get me started on the over-dramatic weathermen and women, and their super-duper doplers! And this may sound radical, but do we really need 5:00 AND 6:00 news and 9:00 AND 10:00 news?! And would it kill a field reporter to put someone on the air who can actually form a complete sentence?! I just think the local news is the biggest waste of airtime there ever was--and that's saying something considering what's on TV these days. Forgive the rant, but I just can't take it anymore. I can't wait until the local news goes the way of the dinosaur.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Someday I Will Be a Woman"--Jeff

Well, the new water rower arrived this week, with instructions for 3 settings: child, woman and athlete. I immediately took offense at that, being a woman and an athlete. But I felt a bit better tonight when Jeff decided to give it a try on the lowest setting and found it a bit more difficult than he anticipated. He said he could feel it in every part of his body, so I guess it's a pretty good workout. I knew this would change things around here, but Jeff becoming a woman is a bit more than I bargained for!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Domestic Dysfunction

Now, you would think that a domestic engineer, such as myself, would develop certain skills, such as, oh I don't know, being able to put together dinner with a certain amount of ease. Unfortunately, I must have slept through that class, because I kid you not, every day--every day--I am totally surprised when it gets to be dinnertime and totally at a loss for what will be prepared. And just as I'm getting overwhelmed by the prospect, a baby starts to cry, kicking me into all-out shut-down mode. I used to have a great system where I made a menu for the week every Sunday evening, and then there were never any surprises. And then suddenly, somehow with the arrival of my second offspring and the expiring of my handy-dandy menu-planning desk calendar, that system has gone out the window. It's truly a tragedy. My husband is much better at this than I am, because he is not a slave to a recipe. He just throws things together and they (usually) turn out fabulously. But despite my deficiencies, I did manage to pull off a darn good dinner tonight...and it was even healthy. We had grilled portobello mushrooms and steamed brussel sprouts, and it was fantastic. And as a bonus, it was super-easy. Jeff claims I'm being too hard on myself and that I'm way better now that I was when we first married, so maybe I'm making progress. And perhaps, someday, when our dinnertime gets pushed back to something resembling "normal" (not 5:00), I won't be so surprised when I look up and it's already time to get dinner ready.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Here We Go Again

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since our last big road trip, and all the laundry is done and just sitting in the closet waiting to go somewhere else. So, we've planned another one. This time we're headed to Las Vegas to see Jeff's parents, who have accepted teaching positions there for this semester. We will leave a week from Friday, and we're very excited. We will make several stops along the way and see lots of sights, including the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. Plus, we'll have alomost a week in Vegas to explore all the casinos and see all the sights. I haven't really seen much of this part of the country so I'm really looking forward to it. Maybe I'll take the laptop along so I can keep you posted as we go. I normally like a more tropical location after we have ice in Austin, but I think this trip will be lots of fun even so.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

White Tuesday

Mother Nature decided to add a touch of white to the landscape today, and we experienced something truly rare for Austin: snow. We usually get one or two days of ice every winter, but we don't normally see any snow falling. So, we did the only thing we could do: We bundled up and went outside to play in it. We even took a few pictures, but we weren't out long because it was soooo cold. When we came in we all had warm, sweet milk and smiled. I'm definitely not in favor of winter, but as long as we can keep it to just two or three days, it's kind of fun.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ice Day

Jack Frost hasn't just been nipping today--he's been biting. At one point I think the temperature got up to 32, but that was brief. It's been super-cold, and we've been holed up in the house. Ruth's gymnastic class didn't meet because of the weather, and Jeff's boss encouraged him to come home at lunchtime. So, it's kind of been like vacation around here. We've watched movies, drank hot tea, napped, and had king crab legs for dinner. It's been really fun. Tomorrow may be more of the same. I hope you are all staying warm and safe.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Wait Is Over

I know you have all been dying to know what our other big change is, and since we shared the news with the rest of the family this weekend, I am now at liberty to share it with all of you. Jeff has just resigned from NI (after 8 years) and has accepted a new job with a start-up company here in Austin called Bazaarvoice. He will be starting his new job on Feb. 15 and he is really, really excited about this new opportunity. I am very proud of him and look forward to seeing him succeed in this new role.

Our weekend, by the way, was really great. We visited my brother-in-law and his wife in Houston and just had a wonderful time. We ate some fabulous Mexican food on Friday night at Lupe Tortilla, visited the Downtown Aquarium on Saturday and had lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe today. We had such a great time and arrived home safely just ahead of the nasty weather. I'll leave you now with a few pictures.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Winds Of Change

We're changing around here--all for the better.

  • Jeff ordered a new rowing machine, which will arrivie in a few days. It promises to change our bodies as well as our living room. We can't wait.
  • We are trying out some new internet phones to see if that's a route we want to go when our cell phone contract is up in a few weeks. The phones are very cute and everything seems to work well. So, we may have a new phone number in the near future, as well as a change in our cell phone plan.
  • Ruth announced to me today: "I used to be a princess...but I've changed." Then she asked if we could take down the princess towers from her bed. So, we did, and then we rearranged her bedroom.
  • And, we have one more really big change, but I am not at liberty to share it until after the weekend, so you'll have to live in suspense for a few days.
We're off to Houston tomrrow, so I'll check in on Sunday night. Have a great weekend and embrace the changes around you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Date With Dad

Sometime last week Ruth said to me, "I think it would be really fun to go on a date with Daddy--if we could just go out and do something." My response was, "That sounds like fun." And she fired back, "Well, I wasn't actually thinking of inviting you."

Well, today, Daddy made it happen. He took Ruth out to lunch and then to see "Charlotte's Web" at the movie theater. She was absolutely thrilled...and I think Daddy had a really good time, too.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

On The Mend

Today is the first day in about a week that Weston hasn't run a fever of any kind. We are all thankful that he is starting to feel better. Also, Ruth is getting over her runny nose, thus alleviating some of the pain of her raw philtrum, thus eliminating some whining from the house, thus making us all feel better.

Monday, January 08, 2007

She's Gonna Flip

Well, we got Ruth all signed up for gymnastics today. She's going to be in a mother's-day-out program, which will meet on Mondays from 9-2. They'll do gymnastics and some school-type things as well. She is so excited. She can't wait to wear her new leotards and take her lunch. And, of course, she's excited about all the flipping she'll get to do. When we went by the gym today she promptly asked the lady if she could give us a tour so she could check everything out. It looks like lots of fun. In fact, I wish I could sign up for a class.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Poor Weston

Since about Tuesday afternoon, Weston has had a runny nose and a little cough. He has run a low-grade fever off and on all week. Yesterday, I thought he was pretty much over it. He seemed to feel pretty good and his fever was down to just 99, which isn't much for a little guy like Weston. But this morning, his fever was back up...way up. It was 103.6. Obviously, I was quite concerned, so I called the after-hours number for my pediatrician. The answering service assured me the PA would call me back soon, and she did. She was very compassionate and told me she would give the doctor a call and have her meet me to check Weston out. The doctor called me about 9:30 and I met her at the hospital, where she examined Weston in the waiting room and found out he has ear infections in both ears. She gave us a perscription for some antibiotics, which we had filled, and Weston has pretty much been sleeping all day. When he woke up around 1:30 this afternoon his fever was up yet again--to 104.3. I gave him more Tylenol and he slept some more. When I took his temperature around 4:00 it was down to 102, so hopefully that means he's on the road to getting better. Dr. Ellis said his fever should be gone by Wednesday, and he'll finish the anitbiotics in 10 days. Then we'll be back to see the doctor in two weeks. It's a process for sure, but I really hope Weston will be feeling better soon.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Grandparent Names

I think I forgot to mention that during the holidays (possibly to pass the time during many hours spent on the road), Jeff and I decided on our grandparent names. I shall be called "M" (think James Bond) and Jeff will be called "El Jefe." Whew. That's settled. Now we just have to wait 20 or 30 years to put them into practice, but at least that will give us time to get used to them.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Warning For My Mom

The sidewalk sale at Half-Price Books is hard to beat. The kids and I strolled down to the one near the dry-cleaner today just to take a look, and we came away with six books (3 hardbacks, a paperback, a cookbook and a board book, all in like-new condition) for just $5. It was awesome. If it wouldn't have been so close to nap time (a.k.a. cranky time) I probably could have picked up even more. Mom, be careful. This could potentially be very dangerous territory for you, because I don't think you could control yourself. But if you need someone to help you carry all the books to the car, give me a call. I'd be happy to lend a hand!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Conversation With Mr. Right

Mandi: It's funny how we are almost completely opposite, but still have so much in common.

Mr. Right: Yeah. We both think really highly of me.

This is the man I married?! Groan!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Resolve To Make No Resolution

I am normally a fastidious resolution maker. I love lists in general, and nothing seems more logical than putting together a big to-do list for the upcoming year. But this year, I don't know, I just don't feel like it, I guess. I cannot get motivated to make even one resolution. I mean, there are certainly things I want to accomplish in 2007, but making it offical just doesn't seem that important to me this year. I think this year, I'll just take things as they come and make the most of whatever I get.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety-Jig

We arrvived home safely from our travels around 2:00 this morning. Our adventure began when we reached our first destination and discovered that I (and my packing assistant) had neglected to pack for my oldest child 1. a coat or jacket of any kind and 2. any undergarments. This little parenting faux pas sent Daddy on a rare shopping trip to a nearby town to purchase the necessities...and he only called once to verify sizes and styles. His trip was a smashing success. He brought back a reversable hot pink faux-fur coat and days-of-the-week panties, the latter of which brought about an interesting conversation as our trip progressed:

Ruth: What do the panties say today?

Mom: Thursday

Ruth: How do they always know?!

With tragedy averted, we continued rather uneventfully through the rest of our journey. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting both sides of the family and our dear friends, the Kitchels, in Indiana. We ate so much and laughed so hard that, at times, we thought our sides would truly split. So many wonderful memories, and too many pictures to show here, so I will leave you with only a few.

"May I have this dance?"

The Three Amigos

All Bundled Up At The Park

Discovering Dinosaurs at the Indianapolis Children's Museum

Ice Skating in Lafayette