Sasha’s Party

Saturday, we had a little birthday party for Sasha, who turned 10 years old on October 1. Many of her favorite people were there, and it was conveniently timed that Jameson napped through the arrival of most of them, so she could greet everyone herself with no interruptions!

She did get a couple treats and toys out of it, but mostly it was just a gathering involving extra belly rubs! We had photos up of her along the stairs and mantle, and displayed her pedigree chart on the table along with photos of her mom and dad.

Then Jameson woke up and stole to show!

Lily came over with her brother, who was a champ the entire time.

Jameson showed off his skills with the empty dishwasher tab canister. Yes, we saved it for fun. Jameson also likes to bang with his drumsticks on the other side, since it obviously makes more fun noises than the plastic drum he has.

My parents even drove all the way up for a couple hours, though Jameson didn’t say “Meemaw” as he had for the first time just the night before during FaceTime!

I made pumpkin pie for dessert (Jameson only wanted the whipped cream), a crust-less version which recipe I got from Laura and Dave, who also came with their daughter Rylan.

Meanwhile, Lily and Jameson started running around the dining room table, which I thought was pretty hilarious. Lily did fall and burst into tears, but all was well!

I love Jameson’s sneaky face in this one. He appears to have stolen all the cloths from the baby wipes case that Rylan was playing with.

Sasha alternated between her bed and the front door, being exhausted by watching out for all the children!

It was time for my parents to say goodbye, which signaled the beginning of the end of Sasha’s party. We had plenty of left overs of pulled pork, raw veggies and pumpkin pie throughout the week.

The crowd left a really tired puppy! And Jameson has enjoyed looking at all the pictures of “Sashy” all week since we left them up.

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Halloween Party

I was so excited to attend his school’s Halloween party on Halloween since I haven’t spent much time there with him. I loved seeing all the other kids, him in costume, and watching the teacher/student interactions.

When I arrived, Jameson jumped up out of Cara’s lap and over to me. We were waiting to start the parade, so we sang some songs and then did a dance. Jameson seemed a little out of sorts, already in his costume.

Jameson put his blanket on the cots and all the kids lined up and out to the central area to begin the parade through the rooms.

Okay, it was really scattered. It must have been their ages, but there wasn’t a lot of structure to our parade. I took hold of Jameson’s hand since he seemed a little lost and we went through just a couple rooms before returning back to ours.

I think that he was a little warm in the costume actually, and when we got back to the classroom he cried a little trying to unzip himself from the costume, poor thing!

I helped him out of the costume, and everything was immediately better. Also, it was snack time!

They gave the kids cups with a little apple juice in it, and Jameson did really well! I was impressed, since at home he was dumping water on the floor from cups on purpose.

After about 3 refills (about half a cup of straight apple juice), I suggested maybe he might want water next instead hehe! ūüėČ

And here’s Mr. Nathan again, smirking when he saw me taking photos of him!

I also got a picture of his Star of the Month board. He was showcased during October, so Halloween was his very last day on the board.

And I finally captured a smile from Jameson! I commented to another mom there that I could finally put away my camera and she laughed and said she does the same thing. We are all the same, and all different, us moms!

I did escape before snack time was over so that I didn’t need to clean up. I had to get to work, and also change into my own costume.

Here is my team, much bigger than just a few months ago. It was a good time, and we walked into the work cafeteria blasting some Spice Girls.

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Vivienne Turns The Big One

Saturday was Miss Vivienne’s 1st birthday party! It was unseasonably cool (in the 60’s) and neither Brian nor I knew that it was going to be held outside. So, when we arrived and discovered how chilly it was outside, Brian headed home for some jackets for Jameson and I.

In the meantime, food arrived, and I imagined my terror toddler squirming out of my grasp and/or grabbing at the food to dump it all over me. I was grateful that JP & Lisa were there with Jonathan so that if necessary I could have an adult helper!

However, Jameson was in rare form, and sat still in my left arm while I also held the plate of food right next to him and which I ladled onto with my free hand. I was impressed with myself, for sure.

He then sat like a little angel on my lap on the picnic table, eating off the plate politely with me. Pizza, blueberries, a little pasta. I also enjoyed the meatballs and chips and cheese dip, which Jameson tried at our second helping and enjoyed as well despite a little spice.

Finally, Brian returned with our jackets, and while he ate, we took the kids off to play with the toys they had around!

It was breezy, so it was easy for Jameson to “blow bubbles” by simply holding up the wand at the right angle. He was so excited. He loved playing with the bubbles.

The breeze didn’t stop him from trying to blow the bubbles out himself though:

He didn’t try to dump out the bubble solution either. We were pretty impressed with his maturity; we’ve considering picking a big bubble wand up from the dollar store. It was a long time of entertainment, and would’ve been longer, except that we had to share.

Before Vivienne opened her gifts, we took a break and went down to the nearby playground, which Jameson also loved. It was a perfect location for a birthday party!

After break time, we headed back up for a diaper change and gift opening. I went with my practical-but-still-seems-frivously-awesome StrideRite gift card for shoes for the soon-to-be-walker, and then I also found this gem: Wooden Shape Sorting Clock. It says 3 and up, but the pieces didn’t seem too small for a 1 year old as long as that one year old isn’t insistent about stuffing their face with wood.

Anyway, it seemed like a great grow-with-me toy, and our lucky day, this lucky lady likes to sort shapes like crazy so I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.

Jameson was a champ, but since he had an interrupted nap in order to arrive in time for the party, he was starting to get a little antsy. He said goodbye to Vivienne’s mom Lisa, and gave high fives all around. He’s always adorably shy around Vivienne which makes me laugh.

It was a great time, despite the cool weather (which I argue is better than 100 degree weather any day!). The location was ideal, and makes me wish Jameson’s birthday was in warmer weather. Oh well… we’ll just have to find other excuses to party in the summer!

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Party Weekend

Last weekend was a party weekend! On Saturday the 30th, we went to an old co-worker-friend’s surprise birthday party! Frank was turning 50, and was totally in shock. It was also fun to see other old friends from those days when I was the intern dating the full time employee… those were the good old days ūüėČ

Jameson mostly ate pineapple and pretzels with the salt scraped off of them, and played with another empty bubble container. (That was fun, walking into the house with all those people and emptying a brand new bubble container)

He was great for the most part, until the end. Then we commandeered a stroller from one of our friends for him to settle down a bit, and he was entertained by their daughter. They played the “dropsy” game over and over again. At least, Jameson did, and Abigail obliged!

Sunday we were excited to fry another turkey for a party at JP and Lisa’s house. Friends Rob and Christina came up from Florida for another visit, so we were very excited to get all the boys together again + the new lady miss Vivienne!

When we arrived, everyone was already there. At first, Jameson was extremely shy. I was surprised, since I assumed that since he was in daycare, he would naturally be more outgoing. But he has a definite stranger awareness now, and he didn’t remember our recent visit, or the activity scared him at first.

Within about 15 minutes, he was collecting toys to stack, and within the hour, he was playing with the other boys.

(Kitchens are full of good toys. I liked that JP and Lisa let Jonathan get into the cupboards like Brian and I do for Jameson at home. This totally occupied them for 15 minutes)

I will say that for a few small exceptions, Jameson is a very good toy sharer. And even though he was afraid of the baby, he gave her her toy back after she lost it and cried out, pointing at it.

A note: One of the most valuable lessons we took out of sign language class were learning that babies and toddlers don’t understand sharing. What they can understand is taking turns, and that is what we’ve emphasized (not using the work share) in dealing with Jameson sharing. And since he frequently changes his mind and moves onto something else, its very easy for him to give up his turn for a little while.

Here is Vivienne, showing off her two bottom teeth. She’s just couple couple months shy of one year old, can you believe it?! She loved the ball, and she also enjoyed hanging onto a little car. She’s a pro crawler now.

Well, there was a turkey being fried somewhere during this time but I only got the finished product:

Jameson sat nicely on the table for about ten seconds before he wanted to walk around and eat, so we brought him on our laps. He enjoyed the fried squash (yellow; if it was green, he didn’t want it).

Jonathan however ate at the table, and he very much enjoyed the turkey…

After dinner, Bobby and Jonathan soaked themselves in the sprinkler, but Jameson wanted nothing to do with it. I was disappointed, though it was kind of ironic since Jameson was the only one in a swimsuit.

Jameson was more interested in rocks, and the slide.

Jameson’s gotten very good at the slide. He can get his legs out from beneath him now without help, and goes down without hold anyone’s hand (most of the time). A recent daycare report said he went down the big spiral slide they have in the gym all by himself!

After everyone was dry and inside, we decided to take some group photos. Last time, the boys were happy enough to lay on the ground for our photo.

This time, we were simply impressed they were all sitting still, let alone smiling! Lisa was a brilliant attention- and smile-getting clown; she was fabulous.

I cranked my ISO way up for that shot so I could capture it in natural light; but I’m not too happy with the grain. Next time I’ll bring my flash for sure, but it still turned out great. Please note that last time, Jameson was the only one missing pants, but this time he was the only one with pants! One of these days, we’ll all the get the right pants memo.

And next time, we’ll be sure to get these shots with Vivienne in them too; unfortunately, they had to leave before we thought to get a group shot!

We followed the shots of the three together with the adults, but that was much less successful.

The ladies were better at it ūüėČ

Also, I totally cheated for that smile. I tickled Jameson’s armpits. He’s ticklish there, and it works for a smile without fail most every time.

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The Main Event

I left you at the end of rehearsal on Saturday, going back to the hotel room with Emma for the night. Brian was a good sport (well, he had a fancy executive suite with his points, so no hardship for him). Sunday we woke up with plenty of time, and we had a hearty New Jersey bagel!

I went all out and got an everything bagel with cheese, egg and PASTRAMI. So very excited; so very good.

After breakfast, it’s finally safe to tell Emma: “It’s your wedding day!!!” We headed over to her friends house where we were getting ready for the day. It’s Sunday, so the hair and make up ladies come to us instead of the other way round.

We had quite a spread for lunch, and a great bridesmaid bartend-ress Shannon keeping us stocked up on Poinsettia Champagne Cocktails. Emma’s sister even played classical piano for a while while we waited.

Emma was last to go to get her hair done, but the bride is never late, the wedding waits for the bride, right?

We actually weren’t late though; we had plenty of time to get ready.

Emma gifted the bridesmaids with dark teal earrings and beautiful simple circle necklaces, as well as a clutch for which we chose our own fabrics!

Here are a few highlights of the wedding; visit Amanda Joy’s photography blog for more photos! (Used with permission)

Emma got married and danced the night away at the Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The hotel was classic; the appetizers were amazing, and the drinks were flowing.

Emma’s table settings were lovely: Long rows of tables with a natural centerpiece and candles. It was very romantic. Emma and Joe had a sweet heart table, but I am not sure that they were able to eat much anyway!

Did you know that they do things differently in New Jersey? They dance before, during, and after eating! But before all that, we had the toast.

Here was my short, but sweet, toast to Emma and Joe (the very end, I confess, was inspired by the end of the tv series In Plain Sight; but the rest was completely original)

I’ve known Emma a long time. We’ve been there for each other in the worst times and the good times, no matter the distance or time between us. And then she found her other half in Joe to share those important moments with. I have seen him become her friend and partner, in life and in love. I am so happy to be standing here today, celebrating with them in the very best time of their life. To old friends and new beginnings, congratulations!

I did tear up, for sure.

I was so excited to see friends from high school, Tara and Tracy there to celebrate as well!

And then dessert: cake, cookies, or chocolate fountain. Which do you choose?

All three, absolutely. And another drink while you’re at it.

Congratulations Emma and Joe! I hope you had a wonderful time on your honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands!

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Wedding Rehearsing

Brian and I had a 7 hour drive to Emma’s wedding last weekend, so we were up bright and early, grandma arrived shortly after to be there when Jameson awoke, and off we went!

Her wedding was on a Sunday, so we left Saturday morning to arrive in time for rehearsal. It was a long drive, but my husband is a champion driver and offered to do the whole she-bang. As long as he got to stop at McDonald’s for breakfast. And the brewery he wanted on the way.

They usually have good food, so no objections here!

We stopped at Fegley’s Brew Works in Allentown, PA where Brian got to try a beer that several people had been telling him about. He’s an IPA/hoppy beer kind of guy, and apparently this beer was really good: Hop’Solutely.

Brian enjoyed the beer so much that after he purchased two cases (and then one more for good measure), he called our trip for Emma’s wedding a vacation!

Yes, a vacation for poor Brian, left alone Saturday night and all day Sunday until after the ceremony. He’s a keeper.

I knew better than to try it myself though!

On the way, I brainstormed my wedding toast. I knew she was having other family give speeches, so I wasn’t too concerned with length. I didn’t read anything online for help; I wrote my short but very sweet toast from the heart.

I may have gotten slight inspiration from the series finale of In Plain Sight. But otherwise, it was completely original.

Satisfied with that, I felt free to relax and read the second book of the Hunger Games for the remainder of the trip. Oh, remember my Amazon rant? Our Prime account was finally up and I just happened to think on that last week so we switched the main account to myself, and now I can access the Kindle Lending Library! WIN!

We arrived in time to stop at both our hotels before rehearsal to change: Emma had me stay with her the night before the wedding while Brian got a fancy executive suite for free with points. Jealous.

We practiced inside first since there was a Bar Mitzvah going on. Loads of fun here, can’t you tell?

Ah, that’s better.

If you haven’t noticed, I am not taking these photos with my fancy-pants camera. A good old point and shoot is much better when you are actually IN the wedding.

One of the things I remember distinctly about my rehearsal is that I had no photos of it. So I was determined to take some for Emma.

If you can’t tell yet, this is going to be a great wedding. However, I got very few photos of the event itself (for obvious reasons!). Therefore, you will have to wait a bit until the photographer puts up some of her photos so I can direct you to the professional ones.

Next week, I promise.

Meanwhile, Emma and Joe are at the British Virgin Islands, hopefully relaxing their hearts out. Congratulations!

P.S. I should mention the sweetest part of the whole event.

After rehearsal, we had a fabulous dinner, which included a well-aged red wine from France. Emma’s dad purchased 20 bottles some 20 years ago in preparation for her future wedding!

It was smooth and very good; enough so that I asked Emma what it was and got the story! How sweet is that?!

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May Showers

This week has been pretty rainy; in fact, so far it seems as though April and May switched months. April flowers bring May showers? Yes indeed!

My friend from work, Lauren, had a baby shower last Saturday, and I was honored that she asked me to take some photos!

I think my next focus, after I get the hang of shooting in manual, should be white balance. I don’t white balance in camera, which requires a lot more effort post-process.

Homemade candy on each table, and little bags of cherry-yogurt covered pretzels for favors. The whole shower was elegant and girly.

Appropriate because, obviously, the shower was for for a girl. Take that back, TWO girls. Lauren is having twins!

She is just in to her third trimester with twins, can you believe how small she still looks? She’s blessed with being tall with a long torso. She also works out. Yep, not jealous at all. Not at all.

Yes, that is a chocolate fountain. It’s a good thing I was dedicated to photo taking, or I would’ve eaten a whole lot more.

Also, she decorated her own cupcakes. A perfectionist at heart!

This watermelon was done based on a Pinterest find by her mother!

We played word un-scramble, which I did poorly at (that is my sheet there, and obviously had already given up on figuring out any more of them).

And we played baby bingo while she opened gifts, at which I am AWESOME. But I didn’t win, so not really that awesome. I thought I had my strategy down… oh well.

Here is her lovely friend, helping the day of with the games and gift record.

I have never seen such loot at a baby shower! It was wonderful to see all the people out supporting her with two of every outfit and blanket and diapers.

I got her the diaper caddy she registered for (which I had to dig for, by the way, this is a JJ Cole item and it is discontinued at Babies R Us).

I filled the diaper caddy with essentials, some things registered for (like nail clippers and aquaphor) and some things not (like security blankets, gas drops, medicine, and tooth brushes).

We wrote notes on each little thing. Like “Jameson helped shake these up for you” on the saline drops for her. Not that they needed shaken. And “Dye-free = stain free” on the ibuprofen we purchased. And my favorite: “Why did you register for this? You need a nosefrida” on the little nose suction bulb.

Because really, as gross as they are, nosefridas work so much better.

While Lauren continued to open gifts, this little gem was hamming it up for my camera.

Can you see that tooth there? Jameson wouldn’t have been so happy with that!

While she opened, we also had the opportunity to decorate onesies and bibs for the babies.

If prizes were given out for the winner of the onesie decorating though, Lauren’s sister would’ve won hands down with her onesie drawn like a bathing suit, both front and back!

Congratulations Lauren, we can’t wait to meet them!

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Vegas, Sans Baby

The weekend finally arrived! After all the months of planning, we all flew in to Vegas to celebrate Emma’s bachelorette party!

I may not have mentioned before, but this was my third visit to Vegas. The first was with Brian, and we toured a few days in Vegas and saw all the highlights, drove out to see the Hoover Dam, and to Arizona for my friend’s wedding. Brian had a blast driving through the dessert.

The second time though was with Emma and Jamie, and I was pregnant. Bummers.

So this time sans baby, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to do Vegas girl-style. We stayed up late, ate well, lounged well. Our itinerary looked much the same as it did at it’s formal invite stage, but I switched up a couple times for things:

Note: For breakfast and lunch, we didn’t really end up at the places I had initially recommended. We all pretty much did our own thing in various groups until the evenings when we all got together. It worked out perfectly!

Thursday

  • Arrivals
  • 11 am-3 pm – Check-in is 3pm, courtesy at 11am
  • 1:30 pm – Planned Lunch ~ Earl of Sandwich, Planet Hollywood (we didn’t end up making it here, but I heard it is so good!)
  • 2:30 pm – Actual Lunch ~ The Buffet, The Mirage (buffet right in our hotel, I needed immediate food gratification ha)
  • 7 pm – Dinner ~ Tao Restaurant, The Venetian
  • 10 pm – Haze Nightclub, Aria: Shannon, Jamie and Hilary

Friday

  • 9 am – Breakfast ~ Le Village Buffet, Paris
  • 11 am-1 pm mani & pedis ~ The Spa & Salon, Aria: Emma, Hilary and Jamie
  • 1 pm – Planned Lunch ~ BLT Burger, The Mirage (we ate here another day instead)
  • 2 pm – Actual Lunch ~ Julian Serrano, Aria
  • 5 pm – Dinner ~ Brand Restaurant, Monte Carlo
  • 7 pm – Le Reve-The Dream Show, The Wynn
  • 10 PM – 1Oak Nightclub, The Mirage (Cee-Lo performs!)

Saturday

  • 9 am – Breakfast ~ Blizz, The Mirage (I ate here, others ate elsewhere. I had a savory crepe and smoothie which were stellar!)
  • 12 pm – Planned Lunch ~ Mon Ami Gabi, Paris (we kind of skipped lunch)
  • 3:45 pm – Gondola Ride, The Venetian: Kristen, Hilary, Shannon; meanwhile Emma got her hair done at Aria!
  • 5:30 pm – Dinner ~ Olives Restaurant, Bellagio
  • 9:30 pm – Men of Sapphire Revue Show, Club
  • 11 pm – Planned ~ Haze Nightclub, Aria (we opted not to go, the show was entertaining)

Sunday

  • Departures
  • No planned activities, we did BLT Burger for an early lunch at The Mirage
  • We saw the Monet Art Gallery in Bellagio, which was fascinating
  • The girls left, and I laid by the beach for a while, shopped and walked.

The Mirage

Nice entryway and decent pool. We requested adjoining rooms, but they weren’t available, so they gave us rooms near each other. However, two of the girls who opted to stay to a room themselves had a smokey-smelling room. Overall, I felt like the ventilation in the hotel wasn’t as good as other places I’ve stayed. On the other hand, they did have a very nice pool, easily and quickly accessible to our rooms (which is why the bride wanted to stay there in the first place). Oh, and it’s reasonably central to a lot of the activities we did.

The Package

We booked with The LightGroup, and I would do so again absolutely. We got into two great clubs quickly with minimal fuss (where we needed to go at Aria was a little confusing, and 1Oak was exceptionally busy the night we were there so there was a little extra time/effort/convincing that went on). And no flip flops, ladies!

On the other hand, I am an excessive planner, so not knowing the details of every moment and exactly how to get in the clubs was tough for me (my instructions were to “call these people”). Overall, definitely worth the one dinner we had to pick. That’s it!

Oh, and I did have trouble momentarily when I booked our hotel through the LightGroup, they booked the wrong nights, which luckily I caught because I called the hotel directly to check. Because I’m an over-planner. That would’ve been a HUGE negative, so remember to always be your own advocate and all that good stuff.

The Food

Brand: This was a really great deal with the package! Decent food, lots of food provided actually, there was plenty.

Olives: Excellent olive tapenade to go with the starter breads. Excellent wine-by-the-glass list, in my humble opinion. I had the special which was a spaghetti and meatballs, and I enjoyed it a lot, though it was very traditional. Not as exotic as I expected with all the hype about this place, but very good food. Our service was less than stellar though.

Tao: Very good. We allowed the chef to pick three dishes for us to share. It was a good choice, to let the chef pick his favorites!! The ceiling was high and decorated; it had a great atmosphere.

Julian Serrano: Tapas are so fun! I love sharing small portion dishes, especially in Vegas where it felt like we were eating all the time. I am a big fan, so that I can try all kinds of new things. They have a house sangria, which was decent.

Blizz: I enjoyed my smoothie a lot; I went for another one the next day in lieu of a meal after all the girls left. The savory crepe was huge, I only ate half.

Jean-Philippe Patisserie: Creme Brulee gelato in Bellagio. SO GOOD. We also tried the nutella bar and eclair and were wowed.

BLT Burger: Okay service, excellent burger. The fries were great, in little cups. I’m glad we made it here for sure.

I wish we could’ve made it to Mon Ami Gabi, it’s still on my list to sit outside along the strip to have a meal there. Guess I’ll have to save it for next time!

The Spa

I can’t say enough good things about the salon portion of the spa at Aria. We were in massage chairs while they did our nails (must get a pedi for that but they can do the mani’s there too). We had champagne and great service. I wanted to go back the very next day, and Emma actually did, to get her hair done. It was truly relaxing, exactly what I needed. It was phenomenal!

The Shows

Le Reve is kind of like Cirque du Soleil, but not. Still acrobatics. But, just like when I saw Ka at MGM, I nodded off for a few seconds here and there. Show time is right at my down time after meals, sigh.

I loved that the theater was round and that we had great seats. We could see everything! When I called to place the order for those seats, the lady told me that the 6th row is her favorite. My favorite too! Not too low, not too high, a nice panoramic view of all the action.

Men of Sapphire. Classier than the one I went to Cleveland for my own bachelorette party for all of fifteen minute cause it was gross. Just gross. This club was classier in every way with nice seating, nicer men, better show. We enjoyed ourselves enough that we skipped going to Haze.

If I had to do it again: Only stay for two hours. After that, it gets un-classy real quick, just like the Cleveland place. Oh, and if you’re going to do do/buy someone a lap dance (just saying), do it early before the drinks start flowing, before they start cutting corners, and before you have been removed of all your cash!! Speaking of, bring some ones!

It was a fun experience, but I’m not in a hurry to go again.

The Clubs

Haze: Exactly what I envision a Vegas nightclub to be. Big screens, big music, crazy dancers. I wish we could’ve gone again and stayed longer. We got free drinks with our package, but got there too close to their expiration (which was midnight), so we rushed our drinks. If you do the package, come early, get your free drinks, enjoy yourself. Wish we had made it here just a touch earlier for sure.

1Oak: I wouldn’t go here again I think. Dance floor was small, lots of tables instead which of course you need table service for. There’s a little story here about how one of the girls decided to buy Emma table service. Which was awesome to say we’ve done since we all got to join in, but outrageously expensive. Just to give you an idea: table service is a two bottle minimum and bottles run $500 each at those clubs. Yikes! But we got a cool stamp out of it that took forever to come off our hands.

But 1Oak was happening that night since Cee-Lo was there, so, just to be there? awesome. Aside: Jamie and I got a better look at him when we saw him giving a press conference outside Caesar’s Palace earlier that day. Jamie even got to go up and snap a very close picture of him! She’s a fan, so it was very exciting for her.

Gondola Ride

We went on the outside ride instead of indoors, which was great because of the perfect weather, though it was a shorter ride than I expected! Our boater had a great voice and was entertaining. I got a lot of pictures. It’s so touristy… and so cool anyway!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rssx5aGqx5k]

And those were the highlights, it was a great trip. I sent photos and some text messages to Brian, but actually didn’t call until Sunday after the girls all left. It was nice to get away from daily life and live like I was still in college. Well, better than college.

Meanwhile, Brian and Jameson had a great time. Jameson even had a sleep over with his friend! Almost sorry I missed it ūüôā

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A Bridal Shower for Emma

Emma’s bridal shower was this past weekend, which meant another trip to grandma and grandpa’s house (the second in a month!). Grandma and grandpa loved it, of course. And this time he was walking, so we had loads of fun, and they got to babysit while I ran the shower.

The shower was a success! We had less people than anticipated, but it was a blessing in disguise, since that meant that everyone got a prize (everyone loves prizes!) and everyone got a centerpiece. Plus, it was nice to get together with all our old high school friends which doesn’t happen frequently now.

Me, Jamie, Katie #1, Tracy, Emma the bride, Tara (and Katie #2 arrived later)

I used blue, brown and white (reminiscent of her invitations). We covered the brown tables in brown table clothes for a uniform look and I (conveniently) used the same plates, napkins and utensils I purchased for Jameson’s birthday party. I bought the plastic wine glasses from Party City which were cute touch that I wouldn’t have done otherwise if I didn’t already have the other eating necessities!

The shower took place inside a church fellowship hall (Emma’s mother’s church from when they lived their before). It was perfect, with the little buffet tables, kitchenette in the back and a lovely room with poles to string streamers from.

I purchased hydrangeas from the Flower Man, which carries loose flowers for cheap. They were perfect inside the wine glasses which Brian stripped off labels from (regular powdered Oxy Clean and water). We had 6, with a grouping of 3 in the center, a couple at the buffet, and one on the gift table.

Since we were a small crowd, I was able to put the place settings on the table, and I made madlibs for fun on nice, hard cardstock that I actually had left over from my wedding. The madlibs came from here and here, but I copied and printed them in the same fonts I used for the shower invitations. I printed the words on the front and the story on the back.

The madlibs were for fun, but I also had some games for prizes! As I said before, everyone got prizes in the end but the winners got to select first.

We had guess how much money is in the honeymoon fund jar, a word scramble from here, and the name game where I took Emma and Joe’s last names, gave them 3 minutes and gave the prize to the person who thought of the most words to be combined from their names! We also had the lucky coin game, but no one sat in the chair that I put the coin under, so I sneakily moved it while people were getting food. Oops!

It was difficult to find games appropriate for a smaller shower (the bridal bingo is hard to play with just a few gifts) but I think I did well and everyone enjoyed them. Particularly the madlibs, and those weren’t even a prize winning game!

Emma, ironically, guessed the least amount of money in the jar (I told her she must think I’m cheap, haha!). In the jar were coins, bills, and I also filled it with little faux flowers and faux crystal beads.

The prizes were adorable reusable shopping bags from Forever 21 that I found online, and I put candy or cards and a little something extra from Target (like a bowl, or socks) in each.

Jamie was wonderful and helped me set up before the shower (I had to run around for the flowers, the cake and ingredients for our punch!) And Tara brought fruit skewers and an absolutely amazing salad that she found and modified on Pinterest (Skipped the bacon & poppy seed dressing to save on fat…replaced feta with goat cheese and pecans with almonds. Delish!). She has a lot of great food pinned.

And we had to have, at Emma’s request, the best pizza ever from Marion’s, a local place. My mom was great and brought it over for us! The sausage is our favorite. They even ship pizzas frozen too, if you’re interested.

Kroger made an excellent cake. We don’t have a Kroger by us at home here, but our grocery stores make great cakes so I knew that Kroger would be perfect. The price was right, too, at $10.99. It was chocolate with whipped icing and the perfect size for our shower.

And the gifts! Emma received some wonderful gifts. I gave her Thank You cards already addressed, matching her invitations. (And the honeymoon fund jar — have you guessed how much is in there yet?)

She also got adorable Mr. Right and Mrs. Always Right wine glasses. I dropped the Mrs. Always Right glass though when we were loading her car. MAJOR FAIL. If anyone knows where to get a replacement, let me know!

While unwrapping a bubble wrapped plate from Katie #2, I asked her how many kids that counts as since she spent so long on it.

Her mom gave her a lovely set of Longaberger baskets and pottery inserts. They were cute next to each other (I wanted to take photos instead of writing down who got her what)

Katie #1 helped put together her rehearsal bouquet.

It was a great shower, and I think that Emma had a blast. Poor Katie #2’s car broke down though, and I dropped the wine glass. But as Emma said… it’s kind of hilarious she ended up with just Mr. Right. And the day was wonderful because of the people. A piece of glass can be replaced.

Okay, did you guess how much is in the jar?

$41.43! Emma’s mom won that one. That’s a smart lady!

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Planning a Bachelorette Party… in VEGAS

At the end of April, we are going to Las Vegas for a Bachelorette Party for my dear friend Emma. I have been to Vegas two times prior, but already I knew it was a big undertaking, since I have very little knowledge on the types of things that you do a Bachelorette Parties: Like clubs (VIP tickets? Hosted entry, no wait times?), spa time (last time we went outside of Vegas and the driver didn’t know where he was going), revues (I snuck that in there), and other planned activities.

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[EMMA: STOP HERE if you don’t want to spoil your invite. Invites go out next week so have a little patience]

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How do you manage other people’s time and budgets when we are all living away from each other? We can’t just up and get together in a room to make decisions.

1) Narrow down your list of guests to realistic proportions

To start, in the late fall I sent out an email to everyone Emma had suggested and asked them for a tentative yes/maybe, or a straight up no. It was best that early in the game to weed out the people who already knew they wouldn’t be able to go. That narrowed our list from 14 to 8 (including myself and Emma)

2) Give timelines, deadlines, and whatever details you have to help people budget and plan

My first email to everyone (all 14) included the following:

  • A DEADLINE to respond by with the following information: Their tentative yes/maybe or no response, and if yes, the best weekend in April for them
  • Flight Information: I recommended visiting Kayak.com for flight details and suggested they check whether Thursday or Friday works better and what weekends might be cheaper for them
  • Hotel Details: We hadn’t selected a hotel yet, so I mapped out an example cost of a potential room with 4 people to a room to help people budget
  • Other: Do they have recommendations or preferences for things to do, places to stay, etc.
  • Next Steps: Reiterated the deadline

3) Get a few details from the Bride and Guests

We wanted the best weekend for them, if they thought they’d arrive Thursday or Friday (though that could change), if they wanted to share a bed or room. These things are important to help book the hotel for more nights or rooms.

4) Book your Hotel

As it turns out, Emma had a pretty definite idea of where she wanted to stay (which made selecting a hotel pretty easy). We also got some additional details from the yeses with who they might like to share a room with. We booked rooms pretty early, before discounts were starting for our time period, but if something good pops up and rooms are still available, you can just cancel these rooms and re-book.

I did actually find the rooms cheaper through a package deal with another company called LightGroup which we are doing other activities with and got us 15% off the regular room rate.

However, for anyone still trying to figure out which hotel they should book with, I have enjoyed Caesar’s Palace (and know they offer some package deals themselves) and MGM was nice–even though it’s not in the center it’s right on the monorail.

5) Research & Plan Activities

Before looking at costs, ask the bride what she wants to do. Then go look for those things as cheaply as possible.

6) Look for Package Deals

I found out that some of the clubs in Vegas are owned by one company which also offers other Bachelorette Package deals.

We are going with the LightGroup. (I also looked at AMG, and some options to get VIP tickets to nightclubs by themselves).

With this, we can pay for one dinner, ranging from $30 to $55 depending on the place and menu you select, and you can get into all their clubs for your entire stay for free with no waiting. This includes a couple pools and lounges too. And on top of that, they offer discounts to revue shows and spa time. BAM! Weekend planned!

7) Create an open/flexible itinerary with space for everyone to do the planned and unplanned activities

The itinerary I’ve created for Emma’s party includes planned activities in the evening, and leaves most of the days free.

But we don’t want to stand around and wonder what to do during the day, so I will be putting together a list of recommendations and things to do that I will bring with me, so that we can refer to it during our open times if we want to.

8) Finalize reservations

Not everyone may want to do every activity, so I’ve created a “checklist” of sorts for people to tell me what activities they want included in, with approximate costs to be transparent. Once I have final counts, I can make reservations and be confident that I won’t be out a lot of money with anyone backing out.

*Costs here are what we were quoted or are estimates and may be different depending on season, etc…

BONUS: All this planning and money talk may leave some people with a sour taste in their mouth. Even though you are doing this for the bride and what she wants to do, the guests matter too. A nice official invite on paper through good old snail mail might sweeten their outlook. Plus, something to hold on to and take with them with details about the reservation numbers is good too.

9) Buy plane tickets, and remind everyone else to as well

Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 2-3 months in advance is the sweet spot to purchase plane tickets. Remind everyone else to as well.

10) And GO, and have fun!

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