Viva Las Vegas!

Elvis totally had the right idea with “Viva Las Vegas!”

Andy was scheduled to attend the IBM Information on Demand conference this week.  It’s been chaos around here lately, so I decided to tag along!  Carter and Charlie stayed with their amazing Godfathers Andy and Rory, and Andy and I hopped a plane to Vegas!

Monday, while Andy worked, I walked the strip from one end to the other.  I checked out the “Miracle Mile” shopping mall, had breakfast at Sammy Hager’s restaurant (rockin’ eggs with jalapenos!), saw the sights from the Stratosphere and had a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  I returned to our hotel (Penthouse upgrade at the Mandalay Bay!), took a relaxing bubble bath, then met Andy for the evening.  Together, we ventured back down to the Stratosphere and rode the “Insanity” ride (think Tilt-A-Whirl, but on pods that are mechanically moved 982 feet above the Las Vegas strip!).  We hit the Hard Rock for a late dinner, then headed “home” to the Penthouse (wow, that sounds important!), after visiting the Gold and Silver Pawn shop, home of Pawn Stars.  No, the Old Man and Chumley were not there.

Tuesday, my main goal was to RELAX, and I was pretty successful!  I slept in, then headed to the CSI: Las Vegas Experience, where I became a CSI (complete with vest!) and did a little crime solving (I thought I was being thorough, but I ended up having to return to my crime scene twice because I missed things!  Surprised?!).  I spent $20 at an MGM slot machine (bust!) and got to see the MGM lion, then headed back to the Mandalay Bay.  I had lunch at the Border Grill, the most amazing restaurant in the hotel and checked out the shark reef (which Carter would have loved).  Then I headed to the beach (yes, there was a BEACH at the hotel!) for an afternoon of sun and a good book.  I headed back to our Penthouse room to change for dinner (wild mushroom penne and a glass of wine!), then hit the casino.  At one point, my $20 became $75.25, but ultimately it all became zero. 

Wednesday, way too early, I said goodbye to Andy and Las Vegas and boarded a plane to Denver.  Due to eight inches of snow there (snow for my birthday?!), we were delayed, but not too badly.  I was in Des Moines by 3:00, and in the hugging arms of two estatic red-heads by 4:00.

It was a wonderfully relaxing and much-needed vacation.  I had a great time just strolling around, seeing the sights and being a Vegas bum.  Carter and Charlie had a great time with Andy and Rory, and Andy came home a wealth of knowledge and loaded with IBM swag!  Good times for all!

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The Vegas Strip = awesome!

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Our home away from home, the Mandalay Bay

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From the base of the Stratosphere, looking WAY up!

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On the tram-ride back to the Stratosphere, we passed “The World’s Largest Gift Shop,” which has “Bonanza’s Naughty Town,” which sells “Naughty Stuff.”  Specific!  Ha ha!

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Andy and I atop the Stratosphere, before our Insanity ride … survivors??!

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The strip at night, glowing with beauty!  I love this place!

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Pawn Stars!  Yeah buddy!

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My CSI: Las Vegas Experience crime scene.  What details do YOU see?

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That’s what you SHOULD have noticed (don’t worry – I missed it, too!)

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Heaven!

Happy 2nd birthday, Charlie!

Today, Charlie turns two.  My sweet little baby is no longer a baby.  He’s growing up to be the sweetest but goofiest toddler you’ll ever meet, with a feisty temper that backs up every red-head stereotype you’ve ever heard.  Charlie, I love that you’re beginning to really love to read (just like your sister), that you are a rough and tumble boy (just like your Daddy), and that you are the best snuggler and smoocher around (just like you Mama!).  In two short years, you have made our family complete, and I am so very thankful to be your mama.  Year two was absolutely wonderful, and Year Three will, no doubt, hold adventures, mysteries, tears and smiles that will never leave my heart.  Happy 2nd birthday, Little Bear!  We love you, always and forever!

Dude being awesome and cuddly on his birthday morning!

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Our morning started with banana muffins (“Nummy!” Charlie yelled!) and a Sissy kiss!  Happy Birthday, Buddy!

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Charlie’s birthday candle with Carter’s Scrabble letters 🙂

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Bring on the Chuck E Cheese celebration!

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(I love Madi in the back – always up for fun!)

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Daddy proves that you’re never too old for fun!

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Cars, cars, cars!  Charlie loved this jeep-car-thing and the little fire truck

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Vroom!  Vroom!

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Stephanie, Isaac and Carter and the bubble popper ….

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Best. Game. Ever.

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Andy and the birthday crown

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These guys could be serious trouble! Ian, Brody and Charlie attempt the bucket game (or plot to take over the world, who knows?!)

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Rory and Andy got to play, too!

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Carter attempted to play skee-ball while Charlie successfully stole her balls!

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This gorilla rampage game was crazy, but it was fun!  It shook your hands super-hard, and watching Madi, and then Carter, try to hold on was hilarious!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHARLIE!

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Charlie meets Chuck E.  It went surprisingly well, but he was NOT wearing that birthday crown!

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So Daddy wore it!

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Blowing out the candles with a little help from his main man, Daddy

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Awkward family photo: Who looks more terrified, Andy or Charlie?!

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3/7 of the Pals with Chuck E. Cheese

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The birthday party crew: Isaac, Carter J, Molly & Brody, Carter Kay, Charlie and Madi (and Ian was NOT going anywhere near that mouse!)

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My absolute favorite, world’s most adorable, endlessly wonderful little boy!  Love ya, Buddy!

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The Ticket Blaster!  Charlie got to go into this whirlwind tube thing, but he refused to keep his goggles on (liability, you know?!), so Carter did him a solid and went in (which she was DYING to do!).  She was so excited, and as you can image, was like a little bundle of energy flying all over that tunnel after tickets!  She finally managed a good strategy!

Carter in the Ticket Blaster, sooooooo very excited!

Happy Birthday, Meatball!  We love you silly, we love you sad, we love you, sick, and we love you sticky!  We love ya, Buddy!