Perpetual Plan B

Friday, April 24, 2009

Something to Celebrate!


My iPod had been missing since last October. I have really, really missed it! In fact, if I would have had any extra discretionary income I would have replaced it long ago. But I toughed it out, even though I was pretty sure I would never see it again.

I've slowly been spring cleaning parts of my house that have been neglected for a long time and I found my iPod at the bottom of the magazine rack in the dining room. I have no idea how it ended up there but at this point it doesn't matter.

It's back and I am ready to rock out to MY music.

(I have to admit though, I've learned to like some of the kids' music in the months I was without my own. Now if I could just get that new All-American Rejects song out of my head - especially during church! I wondered why my girls were singing about "a man that's worth a ham" (and who would write a song with such a stupid lyric). Now I know they were just creatively editing it for my sake. And how dumb was I to not figure it out sooner?)

How Cute is This?

Hal sometimes reads stories to Austin in the morning while I'm doing other things.

I peeked out the window to find them one morning last week, and here's what I saw.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Days as a Potential Hand Model are Officially Over

(You may want to skip this one if you're squeamish.)

I always joke with my family that it would be easy to identify my body, if necessary, (I know, it's morbid) because I have so many unusual scars. In fact, for Christmas last year I even wrote them a story about how I REALLY got most of them (my years as a secret agent) and I have to say, the story is a lot more exciting than the real life explanations.

Last night I added a new one that is pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. I took off more than half my knuckle with our cheese grater. Luckily, the chunk that did come off was big and still attached to the grater so I didn't contaminate our dinner. There is a much larger piece that almost totally encircled the missing piece that was hanging by a thread. I washed it out as well as I could, though it was kind of bloody, and carefully tucked it back into place, hoping it will somehow decide to magically re-attach itself. I then slathered it with antibiotic cream and covered it with a band aid.

And then it really started to bleed.

And bleed.

And bleed.

And it wouldn't stop. I bled straight through the band aid and four Kleenexes (are there arteries in your index fingers?). I just kept adding them on top of each other, the way you learn in first aid classes.

Anyway, it finally seemed to stop bleeding after about an hour and a half. But then Hal and I went for a walk, so I wrapped a clean Kleenex around the band aid and I kind of forgot about it. Big mistake. By the time I got home I had a fresh round of blood dripping down my finger that I hadn't even noticed until it was all over my jacket, the wall, etc.

I ended up winding four new Kleenexes around my finger and then taping it all closed with masking tape. They were already saturated with blood by the time I went to bed. I had scary dreams last night (I rarely dream) that involved our toilet overflowing and me turning off the water, but it kept overflowing anyway with dirty water and I was trying to keep my wrapped finger clean. Then water got into our bathroom wall and it exploded and gravel shot out of it all over me. Weird.

Anyway, if the semi-attached skin doesn't re-attach, this will be a deep, ugly scar. (Remember, I said chunk of missing skin. It was a very chunky chunk.) If your fingerprint were on your knuckle then I'd have no fingerprint left. As it is, I will at the very least have a smaller round crater-like scar with the littler piece that is missing. I'd post a photo here, but my family is pretty much against it. Maybe after it has healed somewhat.

Oh, and to answer the question, "Did it hurt?" Yes!!! It hurt like the devil. I told the kids that if I were still a kid, I'd be crying like a baby. But, since I've survived childbirth multiple times, I had to settle for jumping up and down and quietly saying, "Ouch, ouch ouch!" But I really did feel like crying.

So, this leads me to the title of this post. My hands were actually my favorite part of my body, even though they are starting to give away my age a bit more than I'd like. I'm kind of bummed that the scar is right there on my knuckle. Not only that, but it makes it awfully hard to do things that I take for granted with 4 bulky Kleenexes taped to my finger. (Yes, it's still bleeding.) Have you ever tried to type like that? Well believe me, it is not very efficient. I started this post at roughly 10:00 this morning.

Well, I'm off. I need to run to the store to buy some pre-shredded cheese for tonight's dinner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One More

Austin must be on some sort of a funny kick lately because my neighbor, Larry Slade, asked Austin how his Grandpa Hendricks was.

Austin said, "I think he's DEAD."

Now where in the world did that come from?

Austin's New Haircut and Subsequent Bad Behavior

Austin and I got haircuts last week. We go to my friend, Melissa Wootton. I take Austin in every three months, whether he needs it or not.

When we go in we cut his hair REALLY short so we only have to go through the ordeal four times a year because Austin is not fond of getting haircuts. I think the sound of the clippers scares him.

This time he started out being really good, much better than he usually is. He sat really still while I read Jungle Book to him. He didn't cry, even once.

That is until Melissa made the fatal mistake of showing him what he looked like in the mirror.

Usually he doesn't freak out until we get home and he sees what he looks like after he gets out of the tub. Then he gets mad for a while and then gets over it. This time he threw the fit at Melissa's house and it was not pretty.

First he screamed, "What? I look ugly! I hate this haircut!" Then he started hitting himself in the head.

Usually after a haircut he gets a treat. He did not get one this time. I'm really glad Melissa didn't give him one because he did not deserve it, he was so awful.

The whole time I was hurrying to try and write the check he kept getting right in Melissa's face and saying, "I hate this stupid haircut." and then hitting himself in the head again. He kept doing this over and over. It got to the point that I wanted to take over thumping him in the head, it was so embarrassing!

His parting shot as I was dragging him out of the house was, "I really want you to know that I hate this haircut. It's ugly."

I wonder what he REALLY thought about the haircut.

Well, we had some "words" in the car on the way home. Mine were said through gritted teeth. His were delivered along with more self-inflicted blows to the head.

When we got home I put him in the tub, and after a few minutes with his toys he said very sweetly, "Mom, do you think my preschool teacher will notice my new haircut tomorrow?"

The fit was now officially over.

So Melissa and I learned the hard way not to let him see himself until AFTER he gets home. Then he can have his little meltdown in private and not hurt Melissa's feelings.

Well, I couldn't let things go without trying to get him to apologize to Melissa. He wrote her a letter, complete with his signature stick men with swords and token alien. He gave it to Melissa at church and she was very gracious and even let him give her a big hug. Whew!

That night we also went to Tremonton to celebrate Grandma Fronk's 82nd birthday. Jayne and I both made cakes. I searched all over the internet to find a good Texas Cake recipe because I didn't love the one I had.

I finally decided to try The Pioneer Woman's Best Texas Sheet Cake Ever (or something like that). Anyway, it was really good.

The funny thing was that Jayne had also made a Texas Cake and from tasting them, (and I did taste them both, over and over) I think it was probably pretty close to the same exact recipe. I could have just asked Jayne for hers. But then I guess I wouldn't know that it was the recipe for THE best Texas Cake ever, now would I?

It seems like I always have to learn things the hard way.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures With My College Roommate, Michelle Hoekstra

Writing about the shoe episode the other day reminded me of a couple of other things I survived in apartment life at USU. All of these episodes were shared with my roommate, Michelle Hoekstra.

Michelle was from Brigham City. I met her only as we became roommates. We hit it off and had a lot of the same tastes in clothes, music, etc. We were also both night owls, unlike our other roommates (one of whom would get up at 4:30 a.m. just to do her two and a half hour routine of hair and make-up every day). Luckily, for us, Michelle and I did NOT share the same taste in men.

After only a few weeks of living with Michelle, she contracted mono so she had to move home for about a month. Our other roommates were probably a little annoyed that I got my own room that whole time. It was kind of nice for getting ready in the morning because I had to go to work at 6:30 a.m. when we were on overtime. When Michelle was at the apartment I had to try really hard to be quiet and get dressed in the dark so I wouldn't wake her up.

It was fun when she came back, though, because I had never had a sister so it was fun to have another girl to hang out with that was a lot like me.

We lived at Continental Apartments the first year and then we moved to Cambridge Court the next year and that's where I met Hal (and the rest is history...).

At Cambridge Court there was a group of freshman boys that lived next door to us. Once in a while I would hear a strange sound in the wall that separated my bedroom from the boys next door. It was kind of a sawing noise.

One day I noticed a couple of small holes in the wall above my bed that hadn't been there before. I remembered the noise, so I decided I'd better talk to the boys the next day and make sure they weren't installing any video surveillance equipment or something scary like that. I made a mental note to get dressed far away from where they might possibly be able to see through the hole. Then I pretty much forgot about it.

That night I was just falling asleep when I heard another little noise, kind of like the other noises only a little fainter. I had to get up early the next day so I tried to tune it out. I was just drifting off when I felt something wet. I thought I was dreaming because I was kind of in a daze. Then I felt some more wetness and the next thing I knew, I was getting drenched. The pot-lickers in the next apartment had stuck a squirt gun through the hole (which was probably much bigger on their side of the wall) and were soaking me with it. I started squealing quietly and eventually had to get loud enough to wake Michelle up. Then we started pounding on the wall and telling them to knock it off. That is the strangest sensation to be half asleep and not being able to figure out what is going on. I guess we did something to plug the hole and take care of the problem the next day, I just can't quite remember that part.

Also, in that same bedroom, another thing happened that could have turned out much worse. I had played some prank on a guy I was dating and Michelle had probably helped me. (Um, I can't quite remember what I did, but it must have been pretty bad - or maybe he didn't have a very good sense of humor.) One night, in the middle of the night this time so I was really asleep, I heard a bunch of people talking loud and running around in our apartment. It scared the daylights out of me. I thought we were all going to be murdered in our beds. I heard someone say "They're in this room." I was really hoping it wasn't my room they were talking about, but a minute later a bunch of college guys burst into Michelle's and my bedroom. Then they grabbed me and started yanking me out of my bed.

Unfortunately, I was wearing less than appropriate pajamas, more like a long shirt, so I yelled, "I'm not dressed!" They actually paused for a minute until one of them said, "Take the sheet too." They then also grabbed Michelle and duct taped us into our sheets like mummies and started carrying us out of our apartment like a couple of rolled up carpets. I was finally awake enough to see who was there and recognize the one guy so I figured we were probably going to be okay so I remained calm. Then the guys all piled into a car and threw us across the laps of the guys in the back seat, who I didn't know.

Next they drove to a location that I didn't recognize, probably because it was dark and I was still groggy from being awakened from a deep sleep. They ended up trying a couple of apartment doors, found one that was opened and threw us into the front room. We were still duct taped like mummies so we pretty much hopped around like two big human cigars. Then the guys outside started ringing the doorbell furiously. A big guy we didn't know came down the stairs, also groggily because HE had now been pulled out of a deep sleep. He looked at us like he didn't know what to make of us and we certainly didn't know what to make of him since we had no idea who he was. Finally we said, "Help, we've been kidnapped. Can you help us?" He tried to rip off the duct tape and then told us to wait a minute and ran back upstairs. He then came down the stairs with the biggest knife I'd ever seen in real life. I felt my eyes go as big as saucers. I was sure we were going to be dead before sunrise.

Luckily the knife really was just to cut the duct tape so we were still safe. Eventually the other guys came back and took us home. We found out later that the guy with the knife was engaged to one of our kidnappers' sisters, but he was as scared as we were when he saw us in his living room. He was NOT impressed with his soon-to-be brother-in-law's shenanigans.

There are two more things worth mentioning; first of all, this pretty much killed any relationship possibilities with the guy I was dating and second, I don't usually blow my top but I read another roommate the riot act for not locking the door after she got home that night.

Here is one of my favorite moments with Hoekstra. (That's what I always called her, either that or Michelle Irene Hoekstra from Russiaaaaaa - even though she was actually Dutch.)

One night we called up some guys we knew. (They were brothers and their last name was Oswald, that's all the identifying information I will put here.) I can't remember why we called them, if there was a real reason or not. Anyway, we only got their answering machine and this was in the days before caller i.d., so we ended up singing a weird rendition of Talk Dirty to Me (sorry mom) by Poison. At the end of the very long message, one of us said the other one's name so they would easily be able to figure out who the message was from. We only liked these boys as friends, and we got thinking about it and realized that they might get the wrong impression from the message we left. (Gee, I wonder why.) Then we called and left another message, basically telling them to disregard the previous message. The problem was that at the end of that message we got a little out of hand too and said some stupid things. We had now dug ourselves in a little deeper.

We then started thinking a little more, which is always dangerous, and we remembered that they never locked their apartment. Hmm, maybe we could just go in and erase the messages. No big deal, or at least we hoped not.

We drove over to their apartment and knocked on the door. No answer. So far, so good. We let ourselves in and went over to the phone. (It should be noted that their apartment was unique in the fact that it was literally wallpapered, floor to ceiling, with pizza boxes. I always wondered if they were used pizza boxes or new.)

Now the problem was that there was no answering machine attached to the phone in their living room. We had to search their apartment for the machine in the dark because we didn't want to turn on the lights and attract undue attention. We finally found it in one of the bedrooms. The only problem now was the fact that there were more messages on there than the two that we had left.

We debated for about half a second and decided that our messages had to go, no matter what. We listened to all the messages there in the dark. There were two that sounded somewhat important. One was from a girl for one of the guys. We heartlessly deleted it. Hopefully that didn't cause too much stress for them. I really do feel guilty about that one now. The other one was from someone who worked with one of them. He gave his name but didn't say who the message was for. He said that (whoever the message was for - he just said "you") didn't need to go into work the next day for some reason that we didn't quite catch. Now that one we needed to pass on. We went out to my car and got a piece of paper and a pen. Then we wrote a note that said something like, "We think one of you doesn't need to go into work tomorrow. Call and check on this."

I would have loved to be a fly on that wall when they came home and read the note and tried to figure out where in the world it came from.

Ah yes, the years with Hoekstra. We did have some good times.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Christmas Poem 2007

Every year I strongly encourage Hal and the kids to write a poem, or a story, or song for the family for Christmas. I just found mine from 2007 and it was never typed up properly so I thought I'd put it here.

Just so you know, all the events in the poem actually happened. I want to go into greater detail about my birthday, but maybe I shouldn't. (A small word of advice: Never, ever leave the toilet lids down at night. If someone gets sick, it isn't pretty. At all.)

So, here goes:

The Week Before Christmas

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except for my spouse.
While I was asleep, in my warm, cozy flannel,
Papa was up, watching History Channel.

The children were nestled, all snug on the floor.
With Austin and Ally, right by Morgan's door.
And Alley the cat, that little fur-ball
Was pouncing and scurrying all through the hall.

And I dreamed a great dream, but then without warning,
Alley jumped on my bed at 4:30 this morning.
Yes, up on my bed, there arose such a clatter,
That darn Alley cat, that little mad-hatter!

Then I took her downstairs and I tripped on the kids,
And I said to myself, "Merry Christmas, gee whiz!"
And then back to my bed, but sleep did elude me.
So I started to pout, and then I turned moody.

As I thought of the things I still needed to do,
The baking, the wrapping, and yes, this poem too.
Then I started to think of the fun that we'd had,
I remembered, I smiled, and then I felt glad.

We've done some great things, we've read some great stories
And eaten great food, like our Swedish Cream porridge.
There was Morgan's fun concert, I STILL have cold feet.
And Austin, our drummer boy, played his own beat.

And our new favorite Christmas show, called Shrek the Halls.
And treats from our neighbors like "garbage" and cake balls.
And Ally's fun concert and school show and program,
Plus the nice, loving hugs from a girl we named Morgan.

And let's not forget Austin, our own Christmas elf.
Who sometimes I'd like to stick high on a shelf.
The peppermint cookies and the fudge that was yucky.
Our neighbors will get Christmas treats - if they're lucky.

The small ones saw Santa, all hale and hearty.
Austin was a shepherd at our ward Christmas party.
There was nowhere to sit, so I started to shudder.
Ally was a cow, complete with an udder.

Austin played "Nutcracker", a sight to beholda,
And Morgan played lovely tunes on the viola.
And where was our Papa, between all the merriment?
He was stuck at the church, doing (darn) tithing settlement.

On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Comet,
My 40th birthday, it started with vomit.
First it hit Ally, then Austin, then me.
Then Morgan and Dad got hit on New Year's Eve.

And how was our spirit this holiday season?
Did we do all we could to remember the reason?
No, I think that this year we lost some of the spirit.
We got too caught up in the hoopla to hear it.

Next year let's start better, let's resolve all anew
To put baby Jesus right first, as is due.
Let's do the fun things, most are worthwhile too.
But let's put Jesus first and the rest, number two.

That's a good plan, I decided, as I drifted off deep.
Then we'll have a great Christmas, if I can just get some sleep!

The Great Shoe Caper of 1989

Last Sunday, my sister-in-law, Monica, was telling me some of the many April Fools Day jokes her kids (there are 13 kids, so lots of potential for many, many jokes) had played on her and her husband, Thom.

She mentioned one that had to do with shoes and I said, "Hey, I did something like that to Hal before we were married."

She said, "I know, the joke was based off of what you did. It's legendary at our house."

Well, very rarely is anything I do considered even mildly entertaining, much less "legendary", so I thought I'd chronicle it here for posterity. It was kind of funny at the time.

First, let me tell you how we met.

Hal and I met at Cambridge Court apartments when we were both going to USU. I also had to work, doing drawing board drafting at LMC, and I would arrive home from work as he was getting home from his morning classes. We lived next door to each other and I would always give a short, "Hi." as we would each walk into our front doors, which were directly across from each other. I didn't get much back in the way of acknowledgement though. According to Hal, he would say "Hi." to me and I didn't say much back. Unfortunately there is no security footage to back me up on this one, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, one night I was running up the stairs to another neighbors' apartment. There was a group of people gathered around outside Hal's bedroom window. He was telling jokes from inside his room. I have to say, he is the worst joke teller I have ever heard. He'd get through a whole elaborate set-up and then say, "Oh wait, I forgot the punch line."

He would then proceed to tell another, equally elaborate joke, only to forget that punch line too. I can't believe all those people actually stuck around to hear more. (He still can't tell a decent joke. The only one he knows is "What's Irish and stays out all night? "Patty O'Furniture." He pulls it out every St. Patrick's Day and on other special occasions. We try not to roll our eyes too much.)

Anyway, from then on I had something to talk to him about. I'd either ask if he'd heard any good jokes lately or entertain him with one from my own repertoire. After that we became somewhat friendly. I didn't think of him as boyfriend material for a long time though, because I thought he was younger than me. It was only after I'd found out that he had already been on a mission AND he was a senior and about to graduate, that I gave him my full attention.

Now, back to the shoes:

When we started going places together, it would take a long time for Hal to leave his apartment because he had a ton of shoes to choose from. I've never seen any other guy who has as many pairs of shoes as Hal had in that bedroom. And they were ALL over the bedroom (even under his roommate's bed). I'm surprised his roommate put up with it. Hal would pick up a shoe to wear and then search all over for the matching shoe. After a while, he'd throw that one down and pick up another shoe to try and find the match so he could wear it. Eventually he'd give up on that one too. I must have been in love, because I don't think I'd have the patience to deal with that these days. I'm sure he was late for a lot of things just because he couldn't find two matching shoes.

One day my roommate, Michelle Hoekstra, and I decided to play a little joke on Hal. He had a baseball game so we had roughly an hour and we barely had enough time to get it pulled off. We walked into his apartment and started gathering up all his shoes and lining them up in the hallway by the matching shoes. I am still amazed by the sheer amount of shoes that were hiding in that bedroom. As we were about halfway through the process, we saw Hal's roommate, Matt Fisher, walk past the window and make his way to the front door. We ran around like crazy people, slamming into each other, trying to find a place to hide. First we hid in the other bedroom, but then we worried that one of those guys might come home too. Then, as Matt was actually walking into the front door, we ran across the living room into the bathroom. I know he saw us. We waited to see what he would do. It seemed like we were in that bathroom forever. Finally we peeked out and he was sitting at the kitchen table, calmly eating a bowl of cereal. We came out and asked him why he didn't wonder what we were doing. He said he thought we were visiting the other roommate and that he was chasing us so he didn't worry about it. We explained what we were really doing and easily recruited him into helping us.

We continued lining up all the shoes, which took a lot longer than we had expected, so it was a good thing there were now three of us. After sorting them into pairs, we threw all the right shoes into garbage bags. Then we dragged all the garbage bags full of shoes into the maintenance room of our apartment and hurried back just in time for Hal to arrive home from the game. On his feet was a red pair of cleats.

We acted casually, like we were just there visiting Matt. Hal asked if we wanted to go to a movie with him and a few (other girl) friends. We told him, "Sure, we'd love to go."

Then he said what he always said, "Let me just find some shoes."

We got comfortable.

He grabbed a shoe and started searching. Then he gave up and tossed that one and grabbed another shoe. No luck there either. I'm sure he picked up some of the same ones more than once. It didn't dawn on him for a long time that anything might be up. The rest of us did a pretty good job acting like we normally would, so he wouldn't get suspicious.

Finally we confessed, because we were getting tired of waiting. By then the movie had started and the others had gone on ahead. Hal took it pretty well and even laughed along with us.

You'd think it would have cured him of his shoe problem, but unfortunately, it didn't. He was just as messy as ever with his shoes.

He has gotten better over the years, though because there can only be one shoe diva in the house and that honor belongs to me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Family Motto Shot to Heck

I'm sorry, but if you're squeamish at all, you might want to skip this one, due to the less than delicate nature of what I'm about to reveal.

Remember our new family motto, "Respect the Toilet"?

Well, unfortunately, someone didn't.

I'm not 100% sure who the guilty culprit is, but I have my suspicions.

Our house was built around the time the low-flow toilets were introduced. I'm not quite sure what we have now, but when Hal's brother and his wife were buying a new toilet a while ago, they only had low-flow (meaning easily clogged) models available. They actually said you could buy a higher volume toilet on the black market these days, I kid you not.

We had a nice Family Home Evening with the Bryans last night. I have to admit that we started out inviting them over here to roast hot dogs in our fire pit, but somehow ended up at their house. I hope they truly did want to have us over, because last summer a friend of Hal's asked us what we were doing the next Friday night. He said he was thinking of having a barbecue and asked us if we would like to join them. We said it sounded fun and then he told us they'd come over to OUR house on Friday night at 7:00. And they did, along with their four unruly kids. I still haven't recovered.

Hal was supposed to pick up the hot dogs last night, but he came home with such a whopper of a headache that I ran to the store with one of the kids. They had just been in the bathroom and as I walked past it on my way to the garage I knew there was a problem. I gently reminded the kid to please use air freshener. She told me she was just curling her hair. Hmm, a likely story.

We picked up the food, came home and got the rest of the family and then zipped over to the Bryans', barely making it on time. Hal still had his bad headache the whole time but toughed it out. He walked to and from their house to see if it would help any.

Anyway, back to the toilet incident, I will leave out several minor details, but believe me, there were many. Bottom line is that when we got home, our house still smelled really bad. I was not happy.

Morgan wanted to take a shower but then told me she didn't dare use the kids' bathroom because it looked like the toilet was going to be clogged again. Austin was upstairs on my toilet so we hurried him up. I then noticed the whole toilet full of toilet paper. And, to put this sensitively, he had not put anything in the toilet that required toilet paper. (He hasn't quite mastered the whole "drip dry" technique yet, if you know what I mean.)

We flushed that toilet and luckily it went down. I took Austin downstairs to wash his hands, all the way telling him that I was now his official "bathroom buddy". If he needed to go, I needed to be there too to supervise. Then I started giving Ally the lecture about how much toilet paper to use, when to flush, how many times to flush, etc., loud enough so Morgan could hear too from the bathroom. When Morgan came out I asked her if she had heard what I'd said. She said no, so I had to give the whole spiel a third time. I left Austin to wash his hands when I heard a distinct flush coming from out of that bathroom.

I ran for my life (toward the bathroom) because I didn't want a repeat incident from last week. It's a good thing I did, because the murky water in the toilet had risen to within inches of the rim. I hurried and turned off the water as fast as I could. At that point I started uttering a few potty words of my own. It was so disgusting I can't even describe it here. The water stopped about a half inch from the top of the toilet. Now why didn't I think to turn off the water before that? Morgan and I posted notes on both the door and the toilet but we forgot to take into account the fact that Austin can't read yet.

Hal walked in a few minutes later and I cautiously asked how his headache was (still terrible) and what kind of mood HE was in. I really didn't want to deal with it any more so he and Morgan took care of it. I couldn't bear to watch, but I did tell Morgan from the other room to be sure and move the shower curtain before he started plunging.

This pretty much shot any good feelings or intentions to do better that Hal and I had developed over Conference weekend. Those darn kids! I wonder what the next family motto is going to be that they will trash within a week.

As for me, I might have to start making some underworld connections so they can hook me up with a couple of those black market toilets.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Fun Vacation and Then Back to the Real World

I'm back. Now I need a little vacation after my vacation.

We left on Wednesday morning at 6:30. It was an icy blizzard outside and the canyon was terrible, probably the worst I've ever driven in. I even almost slid off a time or two. It was quite a relief to make it to the airport.

We arrived in Las Vegas and got our rental car without incident, it just took a long time. I think we've decided it would be worth driving next time to save the money from the flight and rental car, because you really don't save that much time when all is said and done and it cost us each about $100 for the flight and the rental car was $150 with all the taxes. (The lady there told me it was 33 percent tax on rental cars. Definitely not worth it.) Also with driving we wouldn't have to worry about the time so much and also we wouldn't have to worry about how we were going to get everything stuffed into our suitcases. We were allowed only one suitcase each at 50 pounds and Kim's suitcase weighed 51 pounds on the way there. We took care of the problem by putting all her heavy shoes in our carry on bags (which we brought empty) on the way home. I was a little worried about that one, but it all worked out.

Anyway, we stayed at Mandalay Bay, which my brother got for the great rate of $75 a night and it was really nice. My only regret there was that we didn't set foot anywhere near the pool, which was kind of why we picked that hotel in the first place. I would have liked to at least look at it or sit in a chair and read a magazine for an hour or so. The weather was pretty nice most of the time, warm but not hot, but really windy. The last day it was really windy and rained really hard. Not great for the outdoor shopping center we were at. As I was walking down the corridor, the wind was so strong it whipped my shirt up and it was not a loose shirt at all. Crazy. Thank heavens for modest undergarments.

Anyway, the first day we were there, we hit every Ross store within a 20 mile radius and let me tell you, there were plenty. They have some nice, big Ross stores and they aren't picked over like the one we have here. The good thing too was that in Utah they mainly have sleeveless dresses and in Las Vegas, most of the dresses left have sleeves, which is what I want. I found this really cute dress in one Ross store that was about 4 sizes too big, but at the next store they had my size just sitting there waiting for me at the end of a rack, like it knew I was coming. Only $19.99 too. Last year I found a dress at our Ross that I loved, but it was 2 sizes too big. I bought it anyway and hung onto it for a couple of months, hoping they'd get my size in. They never did, so I finally wore it even though it is a little big and not as fitted as I'd like. Of course I found the exact same dress, in my size, at the first store we went to. Yes, I tried it on and it did look better, but not enough to lose sleep over. I also found a cute skirt for Morgan for Easter and a nice church top for Ally, some sandals for Austin and a nice tie for Hal. (Okay, and a couple of tops for myself.) All in all, a successful shopping day. I only bought things we needed and if they didn't like what I bought, I could return them to our store.

That night we walked the LONG way to the strip. We were trying to get to the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood. On the way there we got accosted at the MGM Grand. This one guy was intent on giving us free show tickets. (One thing I should mention here is that Kim always attracts attention. She is tall and beautiful and blond and very statuesque, everything I am not. In fact I feel rather invisible next to her, but it's okay. She is nice to me so I don't hold how she looks against her. It is interesting, though, to see how everyone notices her.) We didn't want to go to any shows, and especially not if we had to listen to a sales pitch. Then we saw the oxygen bar and said that's what we wanted to do. The guy told us to talk to the guys over there, but not to pay full price. He was right about that. Business must not have been good because the guy there was more than willing to cut us a deal. We ended up getting hooked up for $10 each, which I guess was reasonable. I'm glad we only paid that because either it wasn't working (and it looked kind of dirty, which freaked me out) or it wasn't worth the money. We couldn't tell any difference at all. We then told the guy we'd rather switch over and do the aqua massage for the rest of the time. He took Kim over and stuck her in the machine. Then he came over and tried to sell me a little machine you attach on your back and it contracts your muscles like the machine they use at physical therapy. It did feel good, but I told him I wouldn't buy one if I hadn't seen one for sale before and I had nothing to compare the price too. He went from $200 to $80 but I was still pretty dubious of the whole thing. Then he told me he could throw in the $20 I was going to pay for the massage. I said I didn't want to pay more for a massage. Then he told me Kim had paid for her massage. I didn't think Kim had paid because it was our understanding that we would switch from the oxygen to the massage for the same price. He kept saying she did pay. I finally walked over to her to see if she really did pay him. She said he had strapped her in and then said she had to pay him. Anyway, it was all a big mess. I hate things like that. I ended up paying him $5 for 5 minutes because I had nothing better to do while I was waiting for Kim to finish and I think that was fine. (So really, we each ended up paying a dollar a minute.) It was a lot better than the oxygen, which was stupid. I guess we learned some kind of a lesson in there, but I can't quite articulate what it was.

Next we walked the rest of the way to the shops. Our backs felt better, but our feet were killing. We went to Sephora and spent quite a while looking around there. After looking around at a few more places we began the long, excruciating journey back. Once we got to the Excalibur we were able to catch a tram to Mandalay Bay but we were in pain. We got in just in time to get some gelato and sit and people-watch for a while. That gelato was heavenly! I had almond and banana. Yum.

The next day my tongue hurt but I couldn't figure out why. It felt like I had burned it or something. We had a quick breakfast and headed to the regular outlets. I went to the usual store that Hal and I go to. They had nice t-shirts for me and the girls so I bought quite a few in different colors. Kim couldn't find anything much at that outlet, so we headed to the one she really wanted to go to. It had all the expensive brands in it. I'd never been there before so we used the GPS Kim had brought. We had dubbed the lady "Betty" yesterday, as she was getting us to the different Ross stores. Now Betty and I had developed a love-hate relationship by this time. A GPS is smart, but it can't reason. There were a couple of times a street wasn't marked or blocked off temporarily so we had to find another way to get there. I think my new, least favorite word is "recalculating". (Betty did get us out of a couple of jams, so for that I am grateful.)

Oh yes, I also almost got run over by a car at the first outlet center. I was walking to the car to put our bags in so we could shop some more and a man stopped his car right in front of me in the crosswalk to drop off his wife. I just kept walking behind his car and then he started backing up! The car literally bumped into me. Some other people saw what happened and started yelling at him. I felt really embarrassed, so I said I was fine and took off. I think I was kind of in shock but I wasn't really hurt.

The Premium Outlets were really nice. I even loosened up and bought some things I probably wouldn't usually buy. (My mom had generously given us each some money, so every time I didn't want to pay as much for something I would say I was buying it with the money she gave me.) They had a Skechers outlet so I bought a couple of pairs of summer shoes (they were buy one, get one half off, so I HAD to buy the 2nd pair). I do like Skechers. I have a hard time finding shoes to fit my (wide) feet and also they are so comfortable. I bought a pair of Skechers last year, cringing at the price, but they are worth it to me for the comfort factor. I think it has something to do with the flexible soles. We also each bought a pair of jeans and a shirt at the Lucky outlet. I also got a couple of inexpensive necklaces and she got a really cute top at another place.

So basically, we shopped till we dropped.

That night we ate on the strip (we drove) and we were exhausted and hungry. Then we looked around the Venetian and the stores there a little. It took us so long to get back to Mandalay that we missed the gelato shop so we didn't get any that night.

When we got back to our room, I tried on a couple of my t-shirts. Kim told me they were way too big. I know she was right, they did look kind of sloppy. I'm always worried that my shirts will get too short so I get them big. We went back and exchanged them the next day. I hope they don't shrink too much! I really wish pants would get higher up in the waist like they used to be. That would solve a lot of problems. It is nice to shop with Kim because she keeps up on styles and knows what looks good. She is more in style than I am. I'm more into comfort, so it was good to have her opinion. I especially need to try and quit buying my pants too big. (Oh my, how things have changed since junior high. I had one pair that I loved that I actually had to lie down on the ground to zip up. Ouch! How embarrassing is that to admit?) My pants always sag and then it looks like my legs are even shorter than they are. Apparently, pants that sag in the behind are not attractive to the general population, though they are quite comfortable, generally. I need to start making friends with my belts, I guess, because I can't really buy a whole new wardrobe of pants. The good thing is that right now, the girls and I are all roughly the same size, so if something doesn't fit one of us, it will usually fit someone else.

Our last morning we got up, got ready, checked out and headed straight for the gelato. That was our breakfast. I figured out what the matter was with my tongue. The almond gelato had little sharp pieces of almond in it and also the gelato had little ice shards all through it. It literally shredded my tongue. There are cuts all through my taste buds. I'll have to be careful next time I buy some (because there will definitely be a next time).

This time in Las Vegas I did something differently than I usually do, I didn't eat at a single buffet. I'm still trying to decide if that's a good thing or not. I kinda missed the fresh shrimp, but the gelato more than made up for it.

We decided to wait and eat lunch at the airport, so we checked in at 2:30 instead of 3:30. Everyone kept warning us that it takes at least two hours to get through security because it is so tight there. So, we got there three hours early, so we could eat a leisurely lunch. Security wasn't too bad at all so we started looking for a place to eat. The best we saw was a little Chili's takeout that didn't have a very good selection. So that day all we ate was gelato and southwestern egg rolls. I wasn't feeling too great. I did eat a granola bar that was in my bag but it was pretty sweet so that didn't help much. About that time we found out that our plane was delayed an extra hour. Apparently they had bad weather in Burbank or something that delayed the flight, so we ended up being in the airport for four long hours. We will definitely drive next time. We found a Brookstone store while we were killing time, so we sat in the massage chairs for about ten minutes until we got kicked out.

Anyway, we made it home around 11:00 p.m. and the weather was fine in Utah, so the drive from the airport wasn't bad. It was nice to be home and the house didn't look too bad (there were some rather dubious looking green cookies that Morgan had made). I think I even kind of missed everyone a little bit while I was gone. I was pretty exhausted, so I went right to bed. (I did happen to notice when I was checking on the kids, that Austin was wearing the same shirt he was wearing when I left. Coincidence? I hope so, but I strongly doubt it.)

I was brought back to reality pretty quickly the next morning, because the first words I heard were, "I think I need some dry underpants."

I had to get up anyway, because I learned that Hal had signed us up for the first deep cleaning assignment of our church. So, at 8:30 a.m. I was scrubbing toilets and mopping bathroom floors. Our old building had only two bathrooms. This new Stake Center has eight, counting the Stake Presidency's bathroom (which we didn't have to do) and the cute little Nursery bathroom (which we did do). There were six families signed up, but only the Bryans and our family showed up. Let's just say I didn't feel like going home and scrubbing our own toilets any time soon. We hurried to be done in time to get home for the first Conference session. Next time I don't think I'll be gone right before Conference weekend again. It was too rushed so I couldn't enjoy Conference as much as I usually do.

Last night I was still pretty exhausted. The cat had to practically do a tap dance on me to wake me up to take her out, not just jump up on the bed like she usually does. I also asked Morgan why she had the bathroom night light in her bedroom because I saw it there when I was taking the cat out. She said it wasn't in her room. I looked and sure enough, it was still in the bathroom. I also realized that there was no way it could have been where I thought it was in her room because there is not a plug there up on her wall. I must have been hallucinating while I was walking back up to my bedroom. I definitely need to catch up on my sleep.

All in all, my trip to Vegas was pretty fun. Definitely worth doing. There are some things we would do differently, so I think we'll have to do it again in a few years.