About a month ago, Husband came home from work looking particularly frazzled and fried and announced that it was time for a get-away. I was instructed, as the activity & social director of our team (just call me Julie McCoy), to find a place that was "inexpensive, sunny & comes with a pool." "Inexpensive" meant some place we could drive, "sunny" meant some place south of us & "with a pool" meant endless potential for me to become twitchy with relaxation-induced anxiety while Husband and Ethan frolicked in the water during said vacation. That pretty much left us with Mexico, San Diego or Las Vegas (or, let's face it, a multitude of other places that I was just too dim to look in to). Mexico was out since I am particularly fond of my head, and the heads of my loved ones, being attached to our respective bodies. San Diego would probably have been lovely, but I wasn't sure what I'd do while those capable of relaxation partook of the pool. And when looking through the hotel information available for Vegas, I discovered that many hotels had wave pools & lazy river tubing pools, which sounded a lot more fun than your run of the mill sit-around-watching-the-palm-trees-grow pool (why don't I love relaxing, people???!!! What is wrong with me?!) Plus, there's a giant Sephora in Vegas & I know exactly where it is.
So Vegas it was!
A tip about Vegas with a 5 year old. Go during the week. Our room at the Monte Carlo was, relatively speaking, dirt cheap--Monday through Thursday nights cost about the same as staying Friday & Saturday nights. So there's that to consider. But even more importantly is the fact that the sleaze-factor in Vegas is relatively low during the week. Yes, they're still smoking in the casino & the jumbotron advertisements of showgirls and boobs! boobs! boobs! are still flashing pretty much everywhere. But you're more likely to bump your inner-tube into a retiree or a small family in the lazy river than a bimbo. And you're much more likely to hear the excited squeals of little kids running down the hotel hallways early in the morning than you are to hear coke-fueled orgies being carried on in the room next to yours all night. And even though people are allowed to smoke in the casino & by the pool, there just aren't that many people doing it, so its never really an issue. And we discovered that there's almost always a way around the casino, so if you're staunchly against a kid walking through a casino, you can avoid it completely. So Vegas during the week? Good.
It seems, however, that the weekend in Vegas starts some time around 3pm on Thursday afternoon. On Thursday morning we took a short day trip from the city to the Hoover Dam. We left a mostly tame, family-friendly as long as you don't stop and talk to the guys in the "Girls 24-Hours a Day!" t-shirts on the sidewalks type of town & returned to a city gearing up for 72 hours of gluttonous debauchery. The young families and middle-aged, too-tanned & slightly-bloated casino tourists by the pool had been replaced by surgically-enhanced, bikini & stiletto-clad 20-something waifs & their drunken douchebag frat-boy counterparts. The pools where Ethan had spent the past 3 days practicing putting his head in the water (and totally rocking it, people!!! We have a swimmer!!!) and floating round-stream (it was a circular lazy river) in a $15 plastic tube had become swirling STD-swap meets of a party. The a-little-too-loud-but-wholesome-sounding family in the room next to us was replaced by a trio of raucous Pabst-Blue-Ribbon case toting college boys (let's take a moment to pause in memory of my youth, as I realize this entire paragraph just screams, "SARAH IS OOOOOLLLLLLDDDD!"), and the second-hand smoke content of our oxygen supply became nearly intolerable.
Fortunately, we'd done almost everything we'd set out to do. There had been the hours of frolicking, and yes, even relaxing, by the pool. We had managed to see the fountains at Bellagio, even though we were almost crushed to smithereens by an over-zealous group of picture-taking tourists that amassed by the thousands within moments of the every-15-minute show. We had taken Ethan to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (which he alternately loved and hated--the boy likes apes, but is not a fan of thunder whether its real or mechanically induced).
We seriously contemplated taking Ethan to see Cirque du Soleil's LOVE tribute to the Beatles, but when push came to shove, the idea of spending over $100 a ticket on a show that may or may not terrify Ethan into a catatonic state & forever ruin the Beatles for him just didn't seem worth it to us. So instead we trekked from our hotel to the Mirage in search of the LOVE gift shop so we could peruse a metric ton of Beatles merchandise all in one room. The shop & the entry way to the theater turned out to be more than ample ecstasy for the child, and we spent a good portion of our afternoon watching him run up & down the rainbow-lit hallway, dancing & singing and generally communing with the collective spirit of the Fab Four. Safe to say he was emotionally & physically spent after the experience & we'll save the actual show for when he's 7 or 8 (or can get through the shark scene in Finding Nemo--whichever comes first).
On a "What? Isn't it all about me???!!" note, I did manage to sneak away to the big shiny Sephora for awhile. In what I can only assume is a sneak-preview of the joy that will be menopause, my skin has gone completely dry in the past 2-3 weeks. I don't mean "wow, I should maybe moisturize more" dry kind of way--I mean full-on drought, flaking, peeling, HURTING dry. Forehead, chin, all of it. For a girl who's always battled break outs, this desert-face thing is totally new to me. And I"m not a fan. So at Sephora I was on the hunt for a super rich moisturizer, preferably something with colloidal oatmeal as an ingredient. Low & behold, First Aid Beauty (FAB) makes an inexpensive (as Sephora products go) intensive treatment, so I snatched it up (along with some eyeliner, eyeshadow, a lipstick & blush). So far it seems to be doing the trick, but I've also added Palmer's Cocoa butter skin therapy oil, which has vitamin E in it. I'm slathering both on multiple times a day & fortunately it seems to be working in so far as it keeps the hideous peeling and flaking at bay, but I am still hauling my butt to a dermatologist STAT. Because really, just ew.
Anyhoooo, on our way out of town on Friday, we tortured the child by dragging him to the great outdoors & forcing him to commune with nature in Red Rock Canyon, about a half hour outside of Las Vegas. While Husband & I oooooh'd and ahhhhhh'd at the magnificent rock formations jutting up out of the ground and folding in on themselves in a variety of caves and cliffs and curves, Ethan kicked dirt and whined something about wanting to gooooooooooooo. No matter how many times we told him that we were going to spend the next 4 hours sitting in the car as we drove to Bakersfield, he insisted that he needed to rest NOW and couldn't possibly be expected to maintain a standing position and certainly would not agree to walking more than 5 more feet at any one time without screeching and complaining.
Husband and I are torn on what to do with these Fun! Family! Bonding! times because torturing Ethan means torturing ourselves. But at the same time, when are we ever going back to Red Rock Canyon? Or the Hoover Dam (because he pitched the same tantrum-y routine there)? And do we stop doing these things, things that WE want to do as a family, because the youngest and least rational of us doesn't want to do them? Or do we tolerate the complaining and whining, have a relatively miserable time, but at least we can say we did it and we have the pictures to prove it? Sigh.
Other than the whining during the few times we had the audacity to want to do something other than entertain him (or when our attempts to entertain him took too long, like when it took us an hour to walk through the hotels to find the LOVE gift shop), we all had a fantastic time. Much frolicking, relaxing & ooohhh & ahhhhh'ing was had by all. All while in the least debauchery-adjacent environment possible in Vegas.
Ethan spent most of our morning in Bakersfield, CA (1/2 way to Vegas) hurtling himself off of the desk chair to the bed, screaming, "I'm superman!!!!!"
He pouted when we had to leave the endless entertainment of preschooler/superhero space flight and head to our actual vacation destination. Especially when we decided to stop and take some pictures of the cool architecture in the arts district of the city. It's not easy being the kid of two amateur photographers.
Fortunately we found a guitar shop (closed, thank goodness) right next to the funky theater & hotel we were snapping pictures of & Ethan amused himself by oogling vintage guitars through the window.
Ethan was impressed by how much water there is in Vegas, for it being in the middle of a desert. That wall, for instance, is all water.
He was even more impressed by the ton (literally) of chocolate running through the chocolate fountain in the sweet shop at Bellagio. Here he is in the middle of saying, "I own ALL OF THIS!!" Clearly, he warmed to the Vegas attitude right away.
Husband and E oooooh & aaaahhhh at the plethora of hydrangea in the Bellagio conservatory of flowers.
"There are lots of girls in their underwear here, aren't there, guys?" We'll be accepting our nomination into the parenting hall of fame any day now....
And then, there was LOVE....
Oh my. Look at how strung out on the Beatles & flourescent/neon lights that boy is in the 2nd to last picture. Overwhelmed, much?! But despite the look on his face in that shot, he had a blast.
I'll have to continue the picture blast tomorrow because I'm staring at an Everest sized pile of laundry and in spite of my mother's best attempts to instill a clean-the-house-before-you-go-on-vacatoin ethic in me, alas, my house was left on Sunday as though we'd all been raptured up while in the middle of a "who can make the biggest mess" contest. So there's that.
'Til tomorrow, interwebs.