Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can a good time be had in Las Vegas with kids?

We were looking to go on a fun and inexpensive mini vacation this summer.  We thought long and hard and decided we should go to Las Vegas.  We mostly got the same expression when we told our friends our plan-the initial wide eyes followed by a smug smirk as they thought "good luck with that"!  Nevertheless, off we went to try our luck at having a fun time in Vegas with the kids.

We received numerous recommendations from friends and family on what we should do and see while on vacation.  One of the recommendations was off the beaten path in Barstow, CA.  We were told it is an absolute MUST to stop at the Del Taco in Barstow when headed to Vegas.  Neither Papa Z nor I are big Del Taco fans, but we had to see what all the fuss was about.  As it turned out, it is the original Del Taco.  The building looks to be the original building from the 1960s and the bathrooms are outside, but I must admit the food tasted better than most Mexican fast food places.

The next stop was the World's largest thermometer in Baker, CA.  We got the kids excited about it and unfortunately it must have been too hot to work because it had random numbers everywhere.  Thinking back on it now, if I added all the numbers together it would equal 999 degrees which I believe was fairly close to the correct temperature-give or take a few degrees!

After the State line dance, 500 rounds of eye-spy, and much anticipation we finally made it to Las Vegas.  Our first night we stayed at the Golden Nugget in Old Las Vegas.  The lure of staying there was the pool.  In the center of the pool was a huge shark tank!  It also had a 3 story water slide that cut right through the tank!  I was surprised Wacky Zacky was brave enough to go on the water slide, but if truth be told I think I was more scared of it than him!

After a few hours of close encounters with sharks we headed out to Fremont street.  It is a covered street that every so often plays a light show on the roof.  They also had a few 80's bands performing.  I'm not sure what happened, but all of a sudden Zany Janie turned into "that girl".  That girl that seems to be the drunkest one around despite being 5-years-old.  That girl that is dancing crazy and laughing uncontrollably.  Between her giggling and dancing she was able to shout, "I never want to leave Las Vegas!"  She is certainly our wild child!

After a horrible night of sleep due to Silly Jilly deciding to stay up until well after Midnight, we started our day back at the pool.  Next we went to the Silverton Hotel where they have a huge aquarium with sting rays.  The kids sat for at least 30 minutes mesmerized watching the fish swim around the aquarium.  The kids also enjoyed watching a scuba diver feed the fish.  Despite being pressed for time, we decided to wait around for the Mermaid show.  After watching a woman dressed as a mermaid blow kisses and wave at the kids through the aquarium glass it quickly became clear that this was the show so we abruptly left.

Next we ventured to the Flamingo Hotel to see the Wildlife habitat.  The kids seemed to enjoy it.  As you can see Silly Jilly (toddler in the stroller) enjoyed it the most!

No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a viewing of the Bellagio Water show.  It is absolutely mesmerizing.  Two minutes into the show Zany Janie came to a realization and proudly pointed out, "Look the sprinklers are dancing to the music!"  The whole family enjoyed it so much that we watched it twice.

While waiting for the next water show we strolled around the breathtaking Bellagio Gardens.  I can't reveal how we know, but just word to the wise-Don't touch anything!

The next stop was M&M World where they have any M&M themed item you could ever want!  We watched a free 3D movie that was entertaining enough.  I have no idea how we did it, but we got out of there without any of our kids grabbing  and eating a handful of M&Ms!

Other fun points of interest included seeing the statue of liberty made out of Jelly Bellys, playing games and going on rides at the Adventuredome, going to the circus show at Circus Circus, walking around the Venetian, and seeing the Gondolas.  A few things we did learn:  The MGM no longer has a Lion Habitat and the Excalibur did away with their free show about seven years ago.  Both of those things would have been good to know before hand so we didn't have to walk those extra 10 miles in the 100 degree heat!  We did enjoy a few breakfast buffets.  I'm not sure if it is just a coincident or if the kids were deliberately trying to push our buttons, but they always seemed to ask, "Can I have a snack?" not five minutes after exiting a buffet!

We also found you could take your picture with about any character imaginable along the strip:  Hello Kitty-check; Star Wars characters-check; Superheroes-check; Sponge Bob and friends-check; a scantily clad dressed devil with a scary hairy angel man in a thong sidekick-check...The list was endless.  What we did notice was the characters frequently took the heads off of their costumes-which who's to blame them it was over 100 degrees blazing heat.  The problem is I'm not sure which was scarier-the kids seeing a headless character or seeing the face of the person in the costume.  I'm not a gambling Mama, but if I were I would have to say the odds were 100:1 that each and every one of them was a tweaker!

Next to winning stuffed animals, the biggest thrill for the kids was getting souvenir pennies.  If you know about them you know what a deal they are-wink wink!  If you don't know, it's a machine where you put in 51 cents and it "presses an image onto the penny".  If we had allowed it the kids would have spent our life savings on obtaining those special treasures.

 We did actually do some gambling.  During a couple of our meals we played Keno.  Since we didn't win the $25,000 prize I can admit we let the kids pick the numbers.  They got into it a little more than I thought they would and sat with anticipation as each number popped onto the screen.  Lady luck was on our side and we did win the first round, but Vegas got the best of us and we got sucked back in and lost our money!

Overall, Las Vegas was the fun and fairly inexpensive family trip we were hoping for. I don't think we even covered half of the free things available. By using the coupons our hotels gave us we were able to get free rides and free games at Adventuredome and some discounts on food/buffets.
Since being home all three kids have asked about going back to Vegas.  I think they loved it-some maybe more than others.  I think we need to keep an eye on Zany Janie!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Even educated fleas do it...

Papa Z has a few quirky attributes.  One of the most endearing ones is his need to run a song into the ground!   Meaning if he finds a song that catches his attention he will play or sing it over and over and over and over until you can’t stand it!  Despite being an innocent bystander, you have no control over the inevitable outcome; the song will be burned into your brain forever and will continuously play on an endless loop in your head.  Fortunately this only happens about four or five times a year.  Usually he picks current songs that I actually like, but he has recently found a little gem that I would be willing to go out on a limb to say no one could ever guess in a million years what he has latched onto.  You might as well not even attempt to guess because you will be wrong!  He has latched onto “Let’s do it, Let’s fall in love” by Cole Porter dating back to 1928!  With words like:

Birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let's do it, let's fall in love

And a catchy tune, I guess I can see how he was allured.  So if you hear me murmuring about educated fleas under my breath you now know I have not actually gone off the deep end.

Zany thought of the day:  Do you have songs that get stuck in your head?  Which ones?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh, the webs we weave!

I always wonder what stories my kids tell other people, particularly the teachers at school.  What stories about our life do they share and which ones do they keep to themselves?  We don't really have any deep dark secrets that if shared would totally destroy our family, but we sure have countless embarassing things that happen to us on a regular basis and I'd rather not have to explain to a teacher about them.  Then there are those stories the kids just completely make up.  There's not a thread of truth to them, but they can tell it like it's the 100% truth. 

Wacky Zacky's class just started a new unit on families.  He was given a worksheet and asked to draw a picture of his family.  I think Wacky Zacky started to blur the fine line of truth/make-believe when he drew the picture of our family and explained it to his teacher. 

Yes, he depicted all five of us in the picture.  No, Zany Janie and I don't have Mohawks, our hair is just pulled back in pony tails.  No, I'm not technically taller than Papa Z, but that's not the part of the drawing that toes the line of fact or fiction.  Do you know what it could be?  Take a closer look at Silly Jilly.  According to Wacky Zacky he is twirling her in a circle by her feet.  Yes, Silly Jilly is a tough cookie because she has had to tolerate bumps and blows from her two older siblings, but we draw the line at carrying her around by her feet!  I'm hoping the picture didn't give him any good ideas!

Zany thought of the day:  I must say I do like how skinny Wacky Zacky made me!  Maybe stretching the truth a bit in a drawing isn't so bad...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Princess Starts Preschool

After waiting three long years it was finally Zany Janie's turn to start school.  She has been with me every day to drop Wacky Zacky off at school and has been patiently waiting for her turn to start.  There were times when she tried to slip in Wacky Zacky's school line, attempting to sneak her way into class.  But no more sneaking and wishing she was a little older.  The day has finally come! 

Zany Janie was bouncing off the walls this morning, giddy with excitement for her first day of school.  I don't think she had an ounce of fear in her as she marched into her Junior Kindergarten class wearing her princess backpack.  She went right up to her teacher and gave her a hug, then in a flash she was off playing with toys without a glance back at Mommy and Daddy.  I know she will love school and I'm happy for her.  I'm just a little sad that she's one step closer to being a big girl!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A tribute to the stache

The moustache...Fads come and go, but the moustache has stood the test of time and still stands strong today!  It's a fun word to say and a fun thing to draw on pictures of people.  Come on, who doesn't love a good stache?  Especially a monster with a moustache!  That's right!  You can now get your monster with a moustache at my online boutique, Two Zany Zebras!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Never succumb to "pee" pressure

The minutes were ticking away and the count down was on for nap time.  It has been a crazy day and I was really looking forward to a few minutes of peace and quiet.  Silly Jilly was already sawing logs and Wacky Zacky and Zany Janie were getting themselves ready for their nap, while I continued working on making a banner for our soccer team.  Zany Janie came into the computer room for what I thought was a hug and kiss before her nap when she nonchalantly told me she had peed on Wacky Zacky's floor.  I was 100% sure I had not heard correctly so I asked her to repeat herself.  She said it again and walked out of the room as if it were no big deal and I wouldn't have 100 questions about it.  I charged down the hall still in disbelief, hoping they were just kidding.  Wacky Zacky confirmed that Zany Janie had indeed peed on his floor because he had told her to do it.  After further questioning, I became 100% sure without a doubt this had happened.  As that realization hit, my blood pressure skyrocketed and I calmly told them to go to their rooms because I had to think about what to do about the situation.

I walked downstairs to calm down and called Papa Z at work.  We discussed the issue and after I was calm I went back upstairs to talk about what had happened.  I found both kids huddled together on Wacky Zacky's bed.  They both looked scared and finally Wacky Zacky asked if the police were coming.  They thought I had called the police instead of Papa Z.  Wacky Zacky was sure Zany Janie was going to do hard time for her crime. 

So we talked about the issue and how we don't pee on the floor.  Zany Janie still claims she didn't know she wasn't suppose to pee on the floor~she's 4, she knows!  We had a discussion about how it's not nice to tell people to do something they know is wrong.  And finally we discussed peer pressure.  As I started talking about peer pressure Wacky Zacky stopped me and told me he already knew what it meant.  I was surprised, but thought maybe there had been discussion about it at school and I let him explain it.  He said, "It's when you're not suppose to pee hard on the carpet!".  Um, no sweetie that's "pee" pressure not "peer" pressure.

Lesson of the day:  Never succumb to "pee" pressure!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kindergarten Rocks!

Well, it's finally here, the first day of school.  And not just any old first day of school, but Wacky Zacky's first day of Kindergarten!  The days leading up to this big event have been a mixed bag of emotions.  Wacky Zacky has been super excited to start school.  I on the other hand thought I was ready for him to take this big step into becoming a big kid, until the past few days.  Then the whirlwind of emotions hit.  This is my baby boy, my first born, my only son, the one who use to fit in the crook of my arm and wanted to snuggle all the time and here he is ready to go to school. Everyone tells you this will happen, that you'd better enjoy the time you have when they are young because it will go by like the blink of an eye.  It's difficult to comprehend this as you are sitting staring into your newborn's eyes, but it's the absolute truth.  These past 5 years have gone by far too quickly!

Wacky Zacky 2007

Wacky Zacky 2011

So today finally arrived and the whole family took Wacky Zacky to school.  His school is fairly big and we had to park a long way away and walk.

Once we got to the school we encountered what appeared to be mass chaos.  I'm sure it's what a typical morning looks like at school.  We walked around and found Wacky Zacky's teacher and classroom.

The students don't go into their classrooms until school starts, so Wacky Zacky had to do his first of many line ups.  Once he got into line I started to feel the tears prick my eyes.  I felt so proud of Wacky Zacky standing in line like a big boy ready for school to start.  As the students started walking into the classroom Wacky Zacky did ask for one last kiss from Papa Z and me which unknown to him was exactly what I needed.

So walking away from the school leaving my baby behind I can finally say Kindergarten Rocks!  I know he will have a wonderful year!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer recap

Some may say I've been slacking, I'd like to refer to it as just enjoying the summer.  For those of you that have been curious as to what my Zany family has been up to over the past few months, enjoy this long summer recap!

Our summer has been jammed pack full of several fun play dates with friends.  On one play date, at a fire station, I somehow got suckered into putting on fireman's gear-oxygen tank included-in the 100 degree heat.  It did give me an all new respect for firemen.

The kids were in several camps throughout the summer, which made me feel like a full time taxi driver.  In addition to an eight week Mega Sports Camp, the kids also participated in:

Swim Lessons:  Zany Janie and Wacky Zacky both took swim lessons.  Unfortunately for Wacky Zacky he had to miss the last few lessons due to an ear infection.  He also missed the last day where after waiting two whole weeks the kids got to conquer the water slides!  Zany Janie made sure to rub it in-just a little.

Wacky Zacky participated in a British Soccer Camp.  In addition to playing several fun games and building on his soccer skills, he got to learn a few new words/sayings such as "Loo" and "Don't be a donut".

Wacky Zacky and I continued training in karate.  Papa Z had to take a break from it for the summer, not after breaking his finger from chopping through a board, but from slamming his finger in a door.

Princess Zany Janie danced among other princesses at a Princess Ballet Workshop.  She learned four new dances and got to perform a little recital for the parents at the dance studio.  She was upset when she found out the recital was at the studio and not on "The big stage"-I see a diva in the making!  It has taken six weeks, but I think the song "Friend like me" from Aladdin is FINALLY out of my head-Wait I take that back-Auuuggghhh!

We went camping at San Onofre State Beach with some good friends.  After getting over our camp site being practically a parking lot conveniently located next to the busy interstate with a weight station for trucks directly in front of us, it was a good time!  A good time until we realized we would be awaken every 20 minutes throughout the night with Amtrak barreling through! 

 Despite the facilities, we did have a great weekend.  It was fun because our friends have kids the same age as our kids and they all had a fun time playing together.

While camping, we hiked the beach everyday.  I may have gained a few more grey hairs watching my kids attempt to boogie board.  I was sure they were going to be swept away with the waves and my adrenaline raced the whole time we were at the beach.

I think Zany Janie won dirtiest camper of the whole campground-hands down!  She was covered head to toe in sand and dirt the whole time.  It didn't help they only had outdoor freezing showers, but I'm guessing the 50 buckets of dirt she poured over her head on a daily basis pushed her into the winning circle.

The final biggest event of the summer was our two week trip to Indiana to see family and friends.  We had not been there in over two years and it was good to go back.  For some family, it was the first time they got to meet Miss Silly Jilly. 

While in Indiana we got to experience not only the humidity of the summer, but we were fortunate to be there to experience record high temps and humidity!  Yay for us!  It was quite an adjustment to go from dry heat to 100% humidity.  It's quite refreshing to always feel like you've just stepped out of the shower.

To keep cool the kids got to learn how to play on a slip-and-slide.  They have been deprived of the experience because our backyard isn't big enough for one-unless they want to smash head first into the fence.

On what I believe was the hottest day of the year, we went to the 4-H fair.  The kids say they loved seeing the animals, but as you can see Wacky Zacky wouldn't be within a few feet of 'ol Tom the Turkey and if you look really closely you will realize Zany Janie is cowering behind her brother using him as a shield, just in case 'ol Tom tries any funny business.

We drove past one of Indiana's little "hidden gems" numerous times-The Pink Elephant!  If you are ever in Indiana it's a must see!  It's located directly in front of a liquor store.

Because nothing says "Come buy your booze here" like a pink elephant wearing glasses and holding a martini glass!

We went to Mounds State Park where you can see the biggest hills in Indiana:

Well, maybe not the biggest hills, but I'm guessing it's fairly close! 

Silly Jilly had a first while on our trip.  She got to feed herself Spaghetti without any help.  I'm sure Olive Garden appreciated being a part of the experience!

The highlight of the trip for the kids was being on a farm and feeding the animals.  Grandpa had three little helpers every morning and night to help him.  I'm not sure how he manages without them.

While in Indiana Wacky Zacky found a new passion.  At the young age of five, he has decided what he wants to be when he grows up:  A cowboy!  And not just any cowboy, he wants to be a bull rider.  Since his proclamation he started wearing a teal bandanna with animals-just like a real cowboy!

You can imagine his excitement when we flew into the Orange County airport and he saw the biggest cowboy of all time-John Wayne! 

I'm guessing living in Southern California may set up some obstacles on his dream, but if that's what he wants to do then I say shoot for the stars! And Scooter (our dog), you'd better watch out because there's a little cowboy that needs a practicin' pony to ride and you may just turn into that pony!

So that's our action packed summer in a nutshell.  I'm hoping things slow down just a tad as fall approaches us!

Monday, June 27, 2011

She is one of my favorite things!

Over the weekend Zany Janie was in her first ever Ballet recital.  I can't believe how much she adores ballet.  She seems to live and breath it.  She prefers to read books about ballet, she adores the Angelina Ballerina movies, and she even has several ballet dolls.  She has been looking forward to the dance recital since she first laid eyes on a picture of her costume.

The closer the date of her recital, the more excited Zany Janie became and the more anxious I became.  I am a mom that does not have good hair styling skills.  I somehow managed to put her hair in a bun for class, but by the end of class most of it was falling in her face.  I was also directed to put make-up on her-not too light or her face would be washed out in the lights, but not too dark that she looked like a clown.  Hmmm...That's a fine line for a 4-year-old.  Add just a touch of color and it quickly begins to look over the top and a bit "Toddlers and Tiaras".

Thank goodness she had a dress rehearsal so I could work out the kinks with her hair and make-up.  I am proud to say her hair remained in a tight bun for both her dress rehearsal and her actual recital.  My late 80's big hair style phase actually came in handy-I had experience with Aqua Net and knew how to use it's powers.

Some may say I can't be unbiased since she is my daughter, but I think she was absolutely beautiful! 

She did a great job at the dress rehearsal.  I was so proud of her.  She loved the audience and put 100% into her performance.  Then the next day (Friday) she woke up with a high fever!  Cootie bugs had been circulating throughout our house for the past week and a half and somehow Zany Janie had managed to fight them off, but even the feistiest come down with something from time to time.  She was determined to perform on Saturday.  She rested and did her best to get better. 

Saturday morning her fever fluctuated from 100 to 102.8!  She continued to state she would perform.  Despite not eating for two days and feeling horrible she was determined enough to get through the performance.  Before you think I am a horrible mother, I will say her fever did go down to 98.9 right before we left for her recital.  She remained backstage throughout the whole show so I couldn't check in with her.  I did pack snacks for her and hoped she would eat something so she wouldn't pass out.  Then the moment finally came.  She did her whole dance to "My Favorite Things", putting 100% into it, and looked like she loved every second of it.

I cannot express the feelings I felt when I saw her on stage.  I'm guessing most parents feel the same way.  I was so proud of her!  I couldn't believe how beautiful she looked!  And I couldn't even begin to imagine how she could be enjoying performing in front of a hundred complete strangers!  In that aspect she is the complete opposite of me!  She is a performer!

After the bows, the curtain closed, the music stopped, and Zany Janie passed out!  Just kidding!  She held it together until I got her and then she could hold it together no longer.  By the time we got home her temperature had shot up to 103.2 and she was beyond exhausted.  I felt bad for her, but there was no way she would have let us keep her home and miss the performance. 

Later that night Zany Janie began complaining  and questioning why she was not able to go on stage and do a solo.  That girl is a true performer.  She also got to experience first hand what it means when they say "The show must go on!"

Zany thought of the day:  Try to listen to "My Favorite Things" no less than 70 times and see if you can possibly get "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens; Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens; Brown paper packages tied up with strings; These are a few of my favorite things" out of your head.  Come on try it.  You know you want to!