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Monday, October 31, 2005

LVD4 - Happy Halloween/Family of Skeletons

Today the three of us had a nice lunch in the hotel at the Terrace Pointe Cafe. They have a signature pineapple mojito drink that is very good. I had a Caesar salad with shrimp and Uwe had the French onion soup which was yummy. Astrid had her entree du jour of organic formula.

With Uwe working, I took Astrid out for a long walk on the Las Vegas Strip with the destination being the Bellagio hotel. Most of the hotels are only "new" for a short time and after awhile they look rundown or lose their "wow" factor as newer, bigger and more spectacular hotels are built. But for me the Bellagio still holds a certain charm/uniqueness and I always visit it when I'm in Las Vegas. Our first stop was the Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Here we are standing in front of the giant scarecrow in a pumpkin patch.

They create unique displays for every season and holiday. You walk in and it's a virtual kaleidoscope for your senses. Not only the colors, but the intricate details using a variety of different plants, flowers, and floral arrangements is beautiful to the eye. And it smells good too! Here is a photo of the stained glass Fall leaves suspended from the atrium ceiling.There are 3 different types of apples used in this display. I won't even venture a guess as to how many apples it took to create this display. But it is pretty to look at!Anyone in the mood for "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe? This tree made from a floral arrangement of branches and plants is surrounded by crows with a mist coming up from the water beneath it. Our second stop was to watch the Bellagio fountains show which is choreographed to opera (the song "Time to Say Goodbye" sung by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli). I've seen the fountain show probably 30 times now but it never ceases to take my breath away by the power of the water and the beautiful water movements to music. The fountains go off every 15 to 30 minutes depending on the time of day. The best place to watch the show is from the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel where you have the best aerial view of the fountains.

Astrid had a front row seat to watch the show and she stared at the water, but I'm not sure how much of it she actually understood. When the mist hit her face she was shocked, and even whimpered a little (it is shocking to experience the cold and wetness for the first time when the water comes down), until I reassured her that everything was okay. Scary skeletons.
It's the Baby's first Halloween. This photo is a keeper for my print photo album (that I plan on getting around to one of these days). The little skeleton getting a ride from the big skeleton.
I purchased this baby skeleton costume for Astrid on eBay for $1.99. It has attached gloves (with skeleton fingers) and matching socks (with skeleton toes). The bones glow in the dark (and appear both on the front and back of the costume). It fit perfectly. Only downside was that it's made of thick fleece for going out at night for trick or treating, but in a hotel it was a bit too warm for the outfit. Hence Astrid's face which says, "Alright enough photos mom. I'm getting kinda hot in here."See, it really does glow in the dark.
So here's my family Halloween costume theme. A family of skeletons.Papa skeleton, Baby skeleton, and Mama skeleton.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

LVD3 - It feels like summer

It feels like summer here in Las Vegas with 80 degree Fahrenheit sunny days. (Back in LA it's grey and chilly.) Astrid and I took advantage of the "summer-like" weather and headed down to the hotel's pool. You can't tell from the photo but Astrid was kicking her legs. (We start Mommy and Me swim classes in November at the YMCA. The class is appropriately called "Shrimps".)

After our swim, I bundled Astrid up in a towel and for 10 minutes she literally didn't move. I guess she was warm and comfy in my arms. I kept checking on her to make sure she was breathing and okay.

After I changed her out of her wet swimsuit and swim diaper she was all smiles and kicking away in her bouncy chair that I had strategically placed in the shade next to my lawn chair. She was kinda hidden and people would walk by and notice her all of a sudden and exclaim, "Oh look, a baby!" But then after awhile the sun moved and I didn't want her to get burned so I moved us to another location and that's when she started fussing. It took me half an hour of walking around while holding her until she finally fell asleep and took a half hour nap (in her stroller).

While she was napping, I actually got to read a book! The bar was playing an old George Michael song, "Freedom", and I was sipping from my cocktail while reading the new Amy Tam book, "Saving Fish from Drowning." I love her writing, especially since she writes about Asian women and their angst, and her new book doesn't disappoint. It's a page turner. Uwe knows I love Amy Tan's books so he got her new book for me right before we left so I would have it for this trip. Uwe was playing with Astrid for a bit when we got back from the pool. She's fascinated by this old 1999 LA Marathon shirt Uwe has with human silhouettes on it in bright colors. She thinks she can grab them. I don't remember what was so funny but I like this photo of both Uwe and Astrid laughing.

I see you.

I see you too.Aww...could they be any cuter?Astrid's first bunny ears in a photo."Mom, can I get some sheets like these for my crib at home?" Here is Uwe determined to read the newspaper even with a kick to the ribs and a squealing baby beside him.

So after the nanny came to watch Astrid, Uwe and I had dinner and watched "O" finally! We've only tried to watch it like three times, but for whatever reason (scheduling, seats, etc.) we've never seen the show until tonight. The show was a feast for the senses for sure. The way they used the human body as an art form was awe inspiring. And the set designs were stunning. Now I understand why people go back to watch it several times.

When we got back to our room the nanny said, "I hope next time when you come back that I'll be able to meet Astrid." How funny is that? She babysat two nights in a row and both times the baby was sound asleep and her bassinet was covered with a towel (to keep the light out), so the nanny never saw her. Astrid never knew she was here. But we did with a whopping $300 fee for two nights. I think the price was a bit outrageous for just sitting and reading, but Uwe and I had peace of mind knowing Astrid was in good hands, and we were able to go out two nights so it was worth it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

LVD2 - Pair of Skeletons

Today we had the champagne brunch at the Wynn. They have these huge, beautiful topiary displays inside the seating area. Made with fresh flowers and are all different (i.e., some had bananas, artichoke, mangos).

The food itself however was disappointing. It was the typical buffet fare that wasn't very palatable. However, they had a nice desert selection.

Uwe stayed at the table with Astrid while I went to get my food. While spooning something onto my plate I heard a baby screaming in the background. When I got back to the table I asked Uwe if that was Astrid.

Rose: I heard a baby screaming while I was up and I thought 'Oh no, I hope that's not Astrid.'

Uwe: Yep, it was. But at that moment it was me (who was screaming).

It's a joke but every parent knows that feeling when their kid is inconsolable and you're surrounded by other people and there's no where to run and hide. Astrid was really interested in my silverware, so I cleaned off the spoon and let her play with it. In the photo above I'm making sure she doesn't gag herself by shoving the spoon down her throat. She liked playing with it but she kept giving herself a gag reflex so I had to take it away.
Uwe put the spoon in Astrid's mouth like he was feeding her and she opened and closed her mouth, (like she knew what to do) so I guess she's ready to start eating baby food. I've been holding off because of the smelly poo poo factor. But Uwe and I agreed that we should probably start soon with pureed vegetables and fruits. (Currently she gets a tablespoon of organic rice cereal in her bottle mixed in with her formula before bed. But I read that studies show that rice cereal although easy to digest, and most Pediatricians recommend it as the first solid to start a baby on, it's like giving your kid sugar with no nutritional value except for the added iron.) I still need to read up on how much to feed her since they say you need to keep them on formula until they're 12 months old.

In the photo above she didn't like the feeling of the spoon in her mouth and so she made her "icky" face. Astrid playing with a water bottle. The cheapest, best toy to keep a baby occupied for all of 10 minutes.Astrid is interested in Uwe's drink.Don't even think about it. I'll make you a virgin bloody mary with V8 when you're older.

Astrid was pretty fussy until we finished our food, and then go figure, she fell asleep.Uwe and I dressed up as a pair of skeletons to go out to a club. The bones on our robe glow in the dark.

Uwe kept cracking me up by pointing out strange looking people all night where you couldn't tell if they were in costume or not.

We hired a nanny for Astrid from an agency that charges $35/hr with a four hour minimum per night. She was a very nice lady who moved to Las Vegas from Venice Beach, CA for her husband's new job. She worked as a full time nanny before she was married and has a 2 year old daughter and another baby due in April. I felt very comfortable leaving Astrid in her care. Especially since we bathed Astrid, fed her, and put her to bed before the nanny got here. So all she had to do was sit on the couch in the room just in case Astrid woke up during the night. (Astrid slept through the night so the nanny just read her magazine and probably napped a little. Cha ching $150 with tip.) The same nanny, Erin is coming by tomorrow night as well, so that we can have dinner and see the Cirque du Soleil show "O" at the Bellagio.

Friday, October 28, 2005

LVD1 - Wynn in Las Vegas

We arrived in Las Vegas today.

Uwe is here on business and we are staying at the Wynn hotel. The Wynn is a new hotel that is touted as being the most expensive hotel ever built. It's a nice hotel but the best feature is their private 18 hole golf course. We have a birds-eye view from our room and it is truly amazing. Here are some fun facts:
  • Over 800,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to create the dramatic elevation changes considered impossible on the Las Vegas Strip.
  • Over 100,000 new shrubs
  • Roughly 1,200 existing trees were salvaged and relocated from the former Desert Inn Golf Course, some more than 50 years old and over 60 feet tall.
  • 4,600 lineal feet of stream
  • 37 foot tall waterfall adjacent to Hole 18
  • 45 feet of elevation change from the tee of Hole #1
  • 2 marshland areas using natural groundwater
  • 6 miles of cart paths
  • Between the course's 3 lakes and meandering streams, players encounter water on 11 of the course's 18 holes.

It costs $500 a day to play. Although I took lessons I've never been that crazy about playing golf, but this course is so amazing, I almost want to rent a golf cart and just ride around; but not for $500. There's a new monument in honor of Siegfried & Roy, located on the Las Vegas Strip between Treasure Island and Mirage. If you remember, Roy Horn was mauled by one of his white tigers during a show two years ago and the tiger show has been canceled indefinitely. Here I am at the computer with Astrid on my lap.

The floor to ceiling window behind us, in our room, has automatic bedside drapery controls. Very nifty. From this window we have a view of the golf course, the Strip, and the mountains (with the occasional plane flying in the distance). I safely secured Astrid's bassinet on two hotel chairs with arm rests, so that I could drape a towel over her canopy to keep it dark for her while she's sleeping. Here she is lying in it looking at up at her teddy bear mobile, playing with her blanket.This hotel has a strange "no stroller" policy (which is waived for guests of the hotel, but we must display a tag on our stroller at all times). So be warned if you ever come here with a young child and aren't a guest. They will make you leave the stroller. I saw some people carrying small babies as they were walking through the casino. Uwe laughed when I said I got stopped by a hotel employee who asked if I was a guest of the hotel and then wanted to see the tag (which was attached to the side of the stroller), until Uwe got stopped too.

And those employees who didn't ask if I was a guest, sure were eyeballing me to see if my stroller had a tag. So when I walked into the hotel and was asked by the Doorman if I was a guest of the hotel. I gave him an exasperated "Yes" and showed him the tag right away.

Doorman: It is irritating isn't it?

Me: Yes, and it's a such a silly policy.

Doorman: Well, Mr. Wynn has bad eye sight and he once tripped over a stroller and hurt himself badly, so that's why we have the stroller policy. It's the first thing on our list to look for when people enter the hotel.

Me: I feel bad for you, that you have to be the stroller police now.

Doorman: (((laugh))) Yeah, I know.

That explanation seems rather lame, but he was nice enough to hold both doors open for me so I could get through with the stroller. (And that is no easy feat when the wind is blowing against the door.)

Which just reinforces the difference between a place for "adults only" (there is a sign at this hotel directing guests to the topless "European sunbathing" pool) and for parent friendly places.

I was happy to read that there are some designers who became new parents and designed cool, luxurious hotels for parents to accommodate young children. All those things that childless couples never think about such as changing tables, getting around with a stroller, etc., that suddenly become very important once you become a parent. One of the hotels is in New York and I think the other one is in London. I hope they do well and they build more.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I am baby, hear me roar... =)

Halloween inspiration

For our Halloween costumes this year I drew inspiration from two sources.

Inspiration #1:
Anyone remember the Groovie Goolies (the animation series that originally aired on CBS from 1972-1973, and played in reruns in the 80's)?

The skeleton's name was Bonapart. (The word play still makes me smile, even as an adult.)

Inspiration #2:
Anyone remember the scene in the movie "The Karate Kid" when Johnny and his gang are dressed in matching skeleton costumes on Halloween, when they chase after Daniel LaRusso?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Is it Halloween yet?

At an early age I became fascinated with Dracula. I read every vampire story I could get my hands on and watched way too many vampire horror movies. They gave me nightmares and a phobia about having the blood sucked out of me.

My mom once found me lying in bed practically suffocating myself with a thick Korean blanket wrapped around my neck while sleeping. My rationale for doing this made sense at the time. If a vampire ever came into my bedroom while I was sleeping, he wouldn't be able to bite through the thick Korean blanket and suck the blood from my neck. I even had one of those rubics cube snake type contraptions/toys that you can shape into different things. The first and only thing I made it into was a cross. I'm not even religious. It sat on my dresser for protection. (And whenever he could, my brother would sneak into my room and change the cross into a ball which would infuriate me to no end.) My family thought I was nuts.

To this day I hate having my blood drawn. I'm fine with needles and shots, and I have a high tolerance for pain, but it's just the irrational phobia that wraps around my mind, which I have to overcome each time with deep breaths and thinking about something else (i.e., going some place else in my mind) until the doctor is done. And when you become pregnant they have to draw a few vials of blood to test for various diseases, etc. and this was oh so NOT pleasant. I get weak in the knees when doctors/nurses tell me I have good veins or I'm a good bleeder. Eeeeek!

I've even been known to flinch when anyone gets too close to my neck. It's downright ridiculous I know. So I was happy that it didn't seem to apply to Astrid. Holding her close, she could put her mouth on my neck and even suck away and it didn't bother me in the least.

Until tonight...
I was trying to put her to bed. We were in her bedroom with the lights turned off and I was holding her. She looked up right into my face. In the dark her eyes look black. So I see these two black eyes staring up at me and she gets this smile on her face as she wraps both of her hands around my neck. Now I've already mentioned that she has a penchant for pinching, but this time she was being gentle so I let her explore Mommy's neck. As she's staring up at my face she suddenly sinks her fingernails into my throat and has a death grip on my neck. I'm holding her, so with one hand I pry her right hand loose but she's still clawing away with the left hand. Oh my goodness. I had Nosferatu images flashing in my mind and it seemed an eternity before I could get free. She would latch back on with her fingernails and thought it was the funniest thing, while I'm freaking out but trying to remain calm. I think she actually pierced the skin on one side of my neck.

How's that for an early Halloween story?

Mommy's kisses

Here are some photos of today's afternoon kisses. Very rarely do I let my hair down during the day lately because Astrid has a knack for pulling it out by the roots, but today it felt good just to let it down to air dry after my morning shower.Good thing you can't overdose on kisses, because Astrid gets them all day and night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

House update

I've had a few people ask me about the house and if we've received any offers yet. Whoa Nelly. We had some painting and Spring cleaning done before we put the house on the market. The listing went up recently as a teaser but the house has not been open to the public yet.

Today's Open House for Realtors was the kickoff. If you've ever found yourself driving through the neighborhood on a Tuesday morning/early afternoon and were puzzled by "Open House" signs, and why in the world they would do it when everyone is at work; they do it for Realtors only. It's done so that Realtors can view the new houses on the market before the public, to get the buzz started.

The house looks great. So good that I almost don't want to move. It's funny how getting the house ready for prospective buyers can motivate you to do all the little things you've had on the backburner. For example, a friend of ours painted the interior of our home. You've probably noticed from some of the photos I've posted that each room is painted a bright color. Well our friend left the top portion of the walls in the stairwell unfinished because he couldn't reach it with a regular ladder. We kept meaning to borrow a ladder and paint up there, but never got around to it. Last week it took a professional all of 10 minutes to finish the paint job. And since we had some painting done to the exterior, they did the interior touch up for free. So if we decide to stay here after all, this at least got us in gear to finally complete those home improvement projects that we always planned to get done, (but somehow never found the time until now).

My little pumpkin

It's your very first Halloween

The Postman delivered this Halloween card for Astrid in today's mail, from Julie. Thank you Julie! (Our daughters were born 3 days apart.) I remember getting cards in the mail (for my birthday, Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Christmas) when I was a kid. It was such a treat to get something in the mail with a hand written note on the inside. But with the invention of the Internet, sadly not many people send real cards anymore (myself included). I'm glad to see that some people still do send cards. It's a nice, thoughtful way to say "hello, we're thinking of you."The card says, "It's your very first Halloween" on the outside, and on the inside cover is a drawing of a pumpkin baby's rattle. Cute!I knew it was only a matter of time before Astrid put the card in her mouth. Luckily the card is made of thick paper and the card survived a good baby slobbering.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Astrid just woke up...

from her afternoon nap.