We drank the water

my empty chair……….

Ahhhhhh, I’m back from Mexico.

Kind of dazed today…. not sure what to wear in 40-something degree weather, not sure how to feed myself anymore….. I think we were a little spoiled.

It was amazing. Such a good idea to try it instead of the usual trip to Vegas. I still love Vegas, but this is something totally different.

The three year old taught herself how to swim, like a fish, underwater. Even the 6 year old finally broke down and put his face in the water. That was major progress.

There are so many things I want to talk about, things we saw and did, things I learned about vacationing there that I will use for future trips. (Because yes, I am definitely going back).

But right now, I would like to tell you that we drank the water, and lived. EVERYONE told me not to drink the water. Not to brush my teeth with the tap water, to use bottled water instead. Also I was told not to leave the resort because I might be killed, or sold into slavery. I am probably too old for the slavery bit, but I did feel safe the whole time, and we left the resort, TWICE, and still made it back alive.

We ate all the things I was warned about, fresh fruit and salad, meats, ice cubes, water poured from pitcher that may or may not have come from a tap instead of a bottle…. and guess what? No one got sick.

We stayed at a large resort, Iberostar Paraiso Maya, and ate there as well as their surrounding properties.

This week, I am going to focus on my trip, and post about all the awesomeness we saw and did in Mexico. Right now however, I’m exhausted from taking care of myself and the kids today. I had to make lunch just now, and go grocery shopping before that!! I’ve got 3 suitcases of laundry to finish washing, and I’ve got to find the time to daydream about our trip and wish we were still there while all these things are going on. I need a nap.

 

 

 

Advertisements

A new destination awaits

We have toyed with the idea of vacationing somewhere besides Vegas….. then booked our trip to Vegas. This has happened several times as the husband and I both seem to be the “comfortable in our rut” kind of people. Nothing wrong with that!

But, for the sake of the children understanding there are more than 2 points on the map, we are embarking on a new journey.

After our last Vegas trip, in the ARCTIC cold….. we had one requirement, it had to be warm. A for sure kind of warm that won’t ever let you down.

New destination: Mexico.

A patient of my husbands actually brought him a travel guide full of destinations, and recommended a particular resort he’s been to over 20 times. Wow, it must be great.

It’s family friendly…… got tons of swimming things to do, including a big lazy river that goes for like, miles or something. Entertainment at all hours of the day and night, lots of activities inside and outside.

Now the good part. It’s all inclusive. ALL YOU CAN EAT. Even ROOM SERVICE. Yes, I’m yelling this. It’s an amazing and wonderful concept. Makes up for the stupid strawberries and grapes I ate today instead of the bucket of grease I wanted.

So the countdown begins…. and the frantic attempts to work out and get in fabulous shape are conflicting with the desire to find the best sweatsuit/bathing suit and just start training now for my food marathon.

 

Why do people take Kids to Vegas???

because Vegas is fun for kids too!!!

…and also maybe because you have no one to watch your children….ever……

We just got back from Vegas. Our third time with little ones. This time we took the 4 and 1 year olds. The older kids wanted nothing to do with this trip. I don’t understand how two teenagers would not JUMP at the chance to hang out for 5 days with two adults and two little ones… all. day. long.

Usually when I tell people I’m going to Vegas, they assume it’s just me and the hubby. When I tell them we are bringing the kids I am met with silence until that person realizes there is no punch line. “What??”… “WHY would you do that, WHAT can you DO with kids in Vegas???”

Well, once you get past the things you can’t do, like gambling, clubbing, seeing shows, or various naked opportunities….. there is plenty! Seriously, they don’t joke about gambling in Vegas. My husband and I don’t gamble to begin with, but the first time I took Sammy he was a year old. He wanted to see the lights in the casino so I walked up to a slot machine with him just to look at the lights and colors. It was morning, we were passing through the casino for breakfast. As I stood there, apparently off the specially marked trail, a security guard swooped down and yelled at me to step away from the game!! And then proceeded to tell me I could be fined thousands of dollars for letting my baby gamble. This is how I learned to stay off carpet in the casino area. Scary!!

Vegas itself is like a wonderland for the senses, the place is always ON, much like a toddler. We’ve been there during all seasons, and love it the most during Thanksgiving. The place is celebrating Christmas already and hotels all have their special themes, characters dressed up, music playing inside and outside, games, free shows. We went over Memorial day weekend this time, which unfortunately coincides with massive amounts of college kids looking to drink and party there as well. Other than one day that felt like our hotel was really a frat house, we still had a great time.

There are tons of things to do with your kids, and there are more and more families there every time we go.

What do we like the most??

vegas14j

Bellagio. The fountains outside never get old. And they play frequently during the day and night. Even my 1 year old was mesmerized by the dancing water, especially at night with the lights making it look more magical. We stopped there every day.

Bellagio also has an amazing area off the main lobby to walk through, their botanical garden. They change the theme with seasons and we always enjoy seeing what the next look will be. Probably the baby does not care at all about this, but the adults and even the 4 year old enjoyed it. The hotel is HUGE. We can explore all the main halls, containing conference rooms and ballrooms, the outside public patio, and end up having ice cream or tea and pastry in this hallway that we end up looking for and finding each year. There is also a huge chocolate fountain, behind glass, that takes up part of the ceiling and a wall in the Jean Philippe Patisserie. This is located just past the botanical garden area. VERY expensive, but fun and delicious. They have all sorts of candy and ice cream.

1f 1g1q

Besides Bellagio, there are plenty of other places to take the kids for free entertainment. Ours loved the aquarium located in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. There is also a show in this area about the fall of Atlantis, using animatronic figures to depict the King of Atlantis and his two bratty kids. Daughter who rules the water, and son who rules fire. Skip to the end, they can’t agree on who should rule the kingdom, so all perish in a fiery/watery death as a big bird, maybe a dragon??, attempts to drag the King away. There is no real violence, it’s just suggested, the figures really just lower back down into the ground. It’s really not scary by my kids standards, but there were a couple kids crying in front of us. Mine liked the lights, and flashes of fire and bursts of water as the son and daughter bickered about who should rule the kingdom.

1b 1h1a

Other shows are outside, like the Volcano show at the Mirage. It’s basically fire bursting set to drum beats that build in tempo until a big finale. This is one we kept trying to take the kids to, but they were always asleep in the stroller by the time we got there. I have watched it close up, as well as from across the street. I actually liked across the street better because it’s easier to walk away when it’s over, less crowded. Also, the end of the show features a huge burst of fire from the main volcano, it is HOT. It’s even hot from across the street.

1i

There are a ton of people dressed up as cartoon characters. Not to mention Victorias Secret “Angels”, bikers wearing pleather with buttless pants, and even girls topless with just their chests painted with Vegas slogans. Thankfully, we got no questions from the 4 year old. The baby was oblivious until someone dressed up as a very tall Yoda decided to come up to her and say Hi. She screamed like I’ve never heard before, I actually wish I had it on tape. Poor kid, scared the hell out of her. Then, the guy felt bad so he keep the mask on, and proceeded to try talking to her and waving from a  few feet away. We had to leave the area to get her fingers pried off of my neck.

The shopping malls attached to the hotels in Vegas are nothing like the malls at home. The Venetian features a Gondola ride inside as well as outside the hotel. We rode twice, and were serenaded by our, uh, boat person? with two songs for each ride. They sing very well, and the acoustics inside the mall really add to the sound. In addition to every store you’d want to see, the mall itself is decorated like you are actually outside in Italy. the ceiling is made to look like blue sky with clouds, there are cobblestone “streets”, and cute storefronts made to look like old time buildings. The mall at Paris and Caesars are similar. There are areas inside all of these places with some form of entertainment or another. Portrait painting, people dressed in costume, tons of restaurants and gelato stands, as well as the unique offerings of each place make them all worth visiting. The kids were not bored, finding too many things to look at and do. There are fountains EVERYWHERE, so we probably threw away part of my retirement in pennies and nickels for the kids.

1d OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, there is swimming. I’m not a big swimmer, hate to wear a bathing suit. I did it for the kids, and they loved the water. The Venetian has several pools, no bells and whistles for the kiddies, but there is one pool that ranges from 1 foot to 14 inches deep only. We stayed there, and both kids were in their glory. Sammy pretended he was swimming by just floating on his belly and walking with his hands on the bottom of the pool. Jenna tried to drink the entire thing, tried to back float, and screamed like a banshee whenever I tried to remove her.

1k 1j

Visiting other hotels is worth it, they each have a theme and usually some attraction that draws people to check it out at least once. EVERYTHING is done over the top. We also rode the “high roller”, the worlds tallest Ferris Wheel. For the 4 of us, it would have been about $100 to go at night, and it cost about $70 to go during the day. You have to either buy tickets ahead of time and reserve a time, which scared me with trying to plan what the kids would feel like…. or you can go and wing it, buying tickets before you board. It’s always busier at night because Vegas looks amazing all lit up. It takes 30 minutes to get up and back down.

1lOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Everywhere you go, people are pointing cameras and snapping photos. I do the same thing, no matter how often I go.

1n  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We made it through our trip, snapping photos like the savvy tourists we are….. the only thing I felt bad about was the lack of pictures featuring ALL of us together. I’ve got plenty of myself or my husband standing in front of this or that, holding one or 2 struggling children who refuse to look at the camera, at least not at the same time. Then, we had a MOMENT. Just accidentally playing with the iPhone and snapped a beauty, we were all facing the same way, and no one was crying!

1e

So….go. Take your kids. I may see you there!

 

 

Traveling to Vegas with KIDS

Advice from a lady who survived

So I made it to Vegas….and back….with the two little ones. I am happy to report that child services was not called, no one was lost, stolen, or abandoned…..and we even enjoyed ourselves. Most of the time.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:30 am. Alarm was set for 5:16am. Luckily, we were already up with the baby. She’d been up and down all night, ended up in my bed around 3am because I incorrectly assumed she might sleep better. She’s been cutting her incisors, and is the worst teether in the world.  At this point, hubby and I were looking at each other with dread in our eyes, so scared of what was in store for us on the plane.

I brought a large backpack as a carry on, with lots of compartments for diapers, wipes, toys, snacks, blankets, DVD’s, extra clothes. I had been collecting little toys and gadgets here and there for weeks. Cheap light up bracelets and necklaces, pipe cleaners, magnet boards, anything I thought might capture the attention of a toddler stuck on my lap for 4.5 hours. I wasn’t even worried about the 4 year old, and true to form, he was great on the plane. When not sleeping, he mostly played with his leap pad, stored in his own little backpack carry on.

This was going to be our second trip with baby Jenna, the first was to Disney when she was 11 months old. She was pretty good then, but I had no positive expectations this time for the flight,  being twice as long. Especially with her larger than life voice, her dramatic way of throwing herself to the floor and pouting when she doesn’t get her way, and that whiny-scream thing she does when she wants something she isn’t allowed to have.

Here is what happened.

She was great at the airport. We hung out by the windows to watch the planes and she stood on the back of the chair jumping and yelling at them.

I had the kids walking around as much as possible before boarding. Partly to release energy. Partly to make sure Jenna would pee or poop if she needed to. She will not do this if I’m holding her, even on my lap. I changed her right before we boarded.

We boarded almost last. I wanted to make sure we had the least amount of time sitting on the plane, waiting for take off. This keeps them from getting bored or restless too early. The new environment and people around has worked well with Sammy, and now with Jenna, to keep the kids quiet and busy looking around for a bit. Bonus if you have someone acting up nearby to focus on.

I kept the carry on under the seat in front of me, I never use the overhead compartments, it scares me to have the stuff I might need too far from me.

You can’t break out the DVD player or electronic games until after the flight is up in the air. Taking off is pretty exciting by itself, both kids liked looking out the window and feeling the plane going so fast.

Sammy pretty much fell asleep right away.

vegas14kvegas14a

I tried to keep Jenna occupied with as much stuff OUTSIDE of our carry on as possible. She loved two things. My iPhone, and the headphones the airline provides to everyone. These two things kept her happy for a good hour, allowing me to slightly relax and think this might end up ok for us.

She is great at navigating through photos and video’s on my phone. I made sure I had plenty of videos of her and her siblings, and she scanned through everything, playing some over and over. I think the iPhone is probably the most valuable travel accessory for me right now. We also have songs downloaded that she likes, and played those (softly) so she could rock out in the seat.

She still uses a binky for sleeping, so after a good hour I gave it to her and held her close to me. This is our ritual for napping and bedtime, I like to hold her still to put her to sleep. She zonked out and slept for 2 HOURS!!  It was great, except the seat arm was biting into my back and side the whole time. It is pretty impossible to be comfortable for hours on a plane, holding a sleeping baby.

I brought some snacks, and I always bring sippy cups so I can transfer drinks into them for the kids when we are out. I did buy one of the boxed snack sets the airline offered, just because I love airplane food, all packed into it’s cute little compartments. Everyone got to taste something, and it wasn’t really expensive, I was surprised.

Just a side note…. wipes. You can never bring enough wipes when traveling with kids. And not just stored in one spot. Inevitably something will spill, or there will be an incredibly messy sneeze, someone will need a tissue NOW… and you can’t be looking through compartments, digging around for wipes. I brought a million packs, there were some in my purse, the carry on, and I left a pack out tucked into the seatback in front of me. They are soooo necessary to have easy access to.

The pressure starts to hurt my ears during the last 45 minutes or so of any flight. Sometimes, it is pretty terrible and stabbing for me, and I can’t imagine why everyone isn’t holding their heads and crying. I made sure the kids had snacks during this time, and drinks to help with it…but they both seemed completely unaffected.

Our landing was uneventful, and once safely on the ground, I let the kids share the window seat to look outside while we waited…..and waited…..to get off the plane.

Once off the plane, we of course had to get our luggage, and get a cab to our hotel. I’ve done the cab route, and I’ve done the shuttle or bus route. Usually, the shuttle is cheaper, and most places can book that into your trip ahead of time (like expedia)…but then you may end up traveling with lots of other people, stopping at other places before getting to your destination. With kids, I would rather pay for the convenience of getting to my hotel ASAP.

We stayed in Vegas for 4 days, 5 nights. I will blog about that trip, and what I found was good and bad about taking 2 kids to Vegas.

The flight home was scheduled at 11:30am, and I was most worried about Jenna falling asleep before getting on the plane. If at all possible, I want them to sleep on the plane. It worked out well, we got to the airport with a good hour to spare. The kids hadn’t wanted much breakfast, so I got a pizza and they both had some before we boarded. I again changed Jen’s diaper right before boarding.

This time, Jenna fell asleep right after take-off. She woke up after about 1.5 hours, right when Sammy decided to sleep. She and I had the window seat, and I try to get the very last row of seats on the plane. This is my strategy to help “block” us in, and also to cut down on the people we may be annoying. Being in the last row means you can only physically bother the people in front of you, there is no one behind you to get hit by flying toys, or bodily fluids.

I tried to get her to watch “Frozen”…. and she did. For about 15 minutes. Then, she wanted DOWN. I let her stand in front of my seat, there was really nowhere else she could go. This gave her a bit of freedom, at least she wasn’t stuck on my lap, being held…but she couldn’t possibly get under the seats in front of us, or past our carry on baggage to get into the aisle.

She looked out the window. I got out pipe cleaners…. she liked holding the bag, and then throwing them all over the floor. We played with the iPhone again….. I even took her into the tiny bathroom to change her diaper just to take up some time and give us something to do.

Don’t even TRY taking a bag of any kind into those bathrooms. Take your diaper, your wipes, and whatever you want to use to lie the baby on over the changing table. You will go into a tiny closet and there is NO waste of space in there. The changing table is directly over the toilet, making it impossible for me to pee at the same time the table is pulled down. This means she had to stand in front of me after changing her so I could pee. This means she tried her best to get out the flimsy folding door while my pants were down and she thought she could escape. I was afraid someone would think I was trying to get out, and open the door somehow from the outside. Bad baby.

Back in the seat during the last hour of the flight. Both kids were awake. Somehow doing ok. Hubby was playing with the 4 year old-twisting our used pipe-cleaners into a plane shape, Jenna was attempting summersaults across the seats (the armrests will move up, essentially creating a very small loveseat sized space for us all). I know you are required to wear seatbelts when seated, but apparently this is only for the grown ups.

She did start to have a mini meltdown right before landing, prompting me to search frantically for the “emergency binky”. I held her and gave it to her, and although she didn’t sleep, she did relax and calm down.

Although we made it, without loss of life or limb…… I was completely exhausted from the mental stress of WORRYING. Worrying about what might happen is usually worse than what actually happens. Which is fine.

Now that we are back, I’m so glad the flight part of our trip is over. Despite the fact that it went very smoothly for us (there was another kid, about 3, screaming for a good 30 minutes on the way home), I am not in any hurry to rush back onto a plane.

I have learned some things from traveling with kids though…and the one thing I know for sure….is that you just can’t predict what will happen. Our job as parents is just to be as ready as we can be….. and pray someone else’s kids are acting much worse than ours to take the pressure off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do we travel with Kids????

I am going to Vegas in a month.

With a 4 year old.

And a 1 year old.

The flight will be just over 4 hours, and I know I will be on the verge of dying the whole way.

As much as I am looking forward to being there, I dread the task of GETTING there. And that is the problem, because kids are smart, and like wild animals….they can smell fear.

It is a terrifying thing to know you are stuck on a plane with a kid who is about to have the mother of tantrums……and short of suffocating them, there is NOTHING you can do to make them stop. It might be the scariest thing ever. So of course I try to pack for every possible shift in humor, every potential desire, every whim that child may have.

I’ve done this pretty successfully with one young child. But this will be the first trip with two . And I hate myself as much as all other passengers are going to hate me as I walk past them to my seat, holding a toddler, a blanket, a 4 year old by the hand, and a huge backpack with a variety of toys and treats, guaranteed to hold their interest for a good 30-45 seconds.

I’ll be praying to be seated near other people with kids. Best case scenario, someone will have a HORRIBLE child who acts up the whole way, if they are bad enough they might just keep the interest of my kids who can just watch them instead of “Frozen”, which I will definitely be packing. As much as I would feel bad for that parent, I will also be silently thanking them for taking the pressure off of me and mine.

Is that wrong? I don’t think so.

I can’t convey the stress…..

The fact that I have been so LUCKY travelling with a little one in the past…does not bode well for me. My now 4 year old has really been great so far. He went with us to Florida once, Boston once, and Vegas twice before he was 3, and was a champ each time on the plane. I was so proud at the end of each trip, pretending I was somehow responsible for his behavior. Other passengers may have been fooled…..but parents know. They know my turn is coming.

I feel like this trip might just be the one.

The one to put me back in my place, and remind me that I have NO control at all. All the pipe cleaners, stickers, goldfish crackers and juice boxes can’t save me when that baby decides she wants to get off my damn lap and go find something she can put in her mouth and try to choke on. Or maybe she’ll want to grab the face of the guy in front of me, innocently smiling at her as though she’s harmless, and doesn’t plan to gouge his eyes out. Oh, it could get bad.

It could be the 4 year old too. He did recently throw himself onto the floor at drug mart because I wouldn’t buy him a plastic gun there. I had to drag him out of the store, all the while keeping a totally unaffected, even nonchalant look on my face for the other patrons. I don’t think I can pull that off for 4 hours.

My husband hates travelling with me like this, because I am literally so tense beforehand-I can barely speak. I pack so much in the carry-on, because this is life or death! If I can’t produce a spinny thing that lights up like right NOW, all hell is going to break loose people, I just KNOW it!!

So this is my warning to you.

We’re coming. There might be pee, there might be vomit…I just don’t know. Don’t get too close,and for gods sake….don’t make eye contact.