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Vegas, Baby!

Which could also be titled "Vegas Baby," which is quite different grammatically but still appropriate!

Two weeks ago we went on our very first long-distance, flying, "family vacation" to visit Paul's brothers J and R and R's wife and daughter T and L (names abbreviated to protect the innocent!) in Las Vegas.  LP had never met his uncles or his cousin L and had also never been on a plane before so we were both excited and a little nervous about the trip.  Would we end up being the people on the plane with the screaming/crying/puking/yelling/obnoxious baby?  LP is generally pretty well behaved but since he'd never flown before we just didn't know what to expect.

On past trips to Vegas we'd usually catch a flight with a layover, leaving Boston early in the morning and arriving mid-day in Vegas but this time decided that a direct flight would be best so we took off at 6 p.m.  We debated buying a seat for LP and ended up deciding that a 6 hour flight with a toddler on our lap (assuming the flight was full) would be miserable for everyone on board so we bought a ticket and lugged our car seat along for the trip. 

I wish that I could rebut all of the complaints about airport security these days but I can't.  While the woman who first checked our tickets at security was quite nice, telling me I could take our bottle of milk through with no problem, the guy actually in charge of the metal detector and luggage scanner machines was a complete moron.  As Paul and I stood there in our socks, me holding a wriggling toddler in one hand and trying to fold up our stroller with the other hand, Paul lugging our carseat and carry-ons, trying to figure out how exactly the carseat was going to fit through the luggage scanner machine as we'd been directed by the security guy, he just stared at us.

We were trying to be efficient about the whole thing as our USAir flight was leaving from the USAir Express wing- making us pretty much the only ones in the security line who weren't zipping to New York City or DC on the hourly shuttles, and also the only ones with more than rolling bag and a briefcase to carry, but there was just no way that car seat was going to fit.  And the security guy acted as though he'd never seen anyone come through with a kid before.  He kept asking us to fold the car seat up to fit it through, even though Paul repeatedly told him that it didn't fold  and was not going to fit.  The business man behind us even (pleasantly, I will say!) got involved, asking the security guy if it might fit in a different machine or if it could be handed over for a manual inspection.  His questions were greeted with blank stares until a female security person came over and offered to do a manual inspection. 

It took a while but we finally got everyone and everything through and found a quiet spot to hang out until boarding.



We let our little ball of perpetual energy run around for a while and then Paul headed to the restroom for a diaper change (his very first time changing LP in a public place) only to discover that there was no changing table in the men's room.  He checked the "family" bathroom as well and didn't find one there either so changed him on the counter top.  When I went to the women's room later I couldn't spot one either which I think is pretty lame on the part of the airport. (I will say that upon arrival back in Boston there WERE changing tables in the restrooms near that gate, but really, they should be everywhere).

And then, we were off.  With LP strapped into his car seat between us and the flight leaving at 6 we hoped that by 7 or so he'd doze off as we were traveling at bedtime.  He did sleep for about 2 hours of the flight but the other 4 hours were spent reading books to him over and over again (Blue hat, green hat, red hat, Oops!) and letting him walk up and down the aisle.  He was amazing- he only got fussy towards the very end of the flight when we were strapping him back into his car seat again.  And for anyone wondering, I DID change his diaper several times in the airplane bathroom and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected!  The changing table folds right down over the toilet and is quite spacious.  With the sink so conveniently close it was actually nicer than using one of those drop-down changing tables in most public bathrooms.

When we got to Vegas Paul's brother R met us and took us back to his house were his wife T and his daughter L (who is 3 and a half) were waiting up to see us.  LP was rather shy the first night, thrown off by the flight and the time change so we all pretty much went right to bed.

The next morning Paul's brothers and sister-in-law had to work and L went to pre-school, so Paul, LP and I headed out on the town.  High rollers!  Or, high strollers in our case.

First, we headed to the Bass Pro Shop where they have a large fish display and stuffed animals that we thought LP would enjoy.  True to form though, he leads with his gut, and was way more interested in the jerky display:


Mmmm... Beef Jerky. 

We then went down to the Strip and walked around, peeked in on the lions at MGM, rode in a ton of elevators, and enjoyed the warm weather.  Later that night we all went out for sushi (yum!) and then hung out at the house.  LP was still rather wary of these uncles who he'd never met before but was starting to warm up to his cousin L.  (I'd been showing him pictures of everyone for several weeks before we left, and he'd learned to say L's name so he recognized her which definitely helped).

Paul's brothers and sister-in-law had taken Friday and Monday off so the next morning we all went out to breakfast and then headed back downtown to go visit the Siberian tiger cubs at one of the casinos.  Unfortunately we didn't actually get to see them because we learned upon arrival that you had to pay $15 per person to get into the "Tiger Habitat" and we were all way to cheap for that.  Instead, we ate frozen yogurt at some fancy place.


Cousin L and LP

Then we headed back to the house to hang out.  By this point LP was pretty comfortable with everyone and really enjoying the company of his cousin.


Matty the dog, Uncle J, Cousin L and LP

On Saturday the weather was great so after a big breakfast at Uncle J's house we headed to the park.  If there's one thing they do right in Vegas (besides over the top hotels and slot machines) it's the parks.  The park we went to was right in their neighborhood and had several giant playground areas, basketball courts, HUGE grassy areas, walking paths, a small "mountain" to climb, and water features in hot weather.  LP really enjoyed it.  Since he's only learned to walk after Christmas he hasn't had too much time to run around outside and really loved running around in the park.  Big Paul really enjoyed it too and kept commenting on how much fun LP was having being outside... Very cute father/son moments!


Exploring the reptile park


Whee!!!


Small Paul and Tall Paul


Cousin L and LP


Tackling the grassy hill like a big boy


Running down the hill with Daddy




LP, Cousin L and Daddy


I love this shot, not sure why really though.  That's LP, Cousin L and Uncle R (L's dad and Paul's brother)


The best photo of the trip, and Grammie's new favorite!


Awww!

Our trip was rather uneventful.  It was, obviously, quite different from our past trips to Vegas.  With 2 kids in the house we were somewhat limited in activities both by their ages and by nap times but made it out once or twice without the kids for a little gambling.  Mostly, though, we just really enjoyed hanging out.  While at R's house his wife T and I spent our time sitting on the couch or outside, enjoying some nice wine while keeping an eye on the kids.  The guys played pool while keeping an eye on the kids.  And the kids played nicely together, playing with L's dollhouse and her keyboard, chasing the dog , and running around in the backyard.  We went for walks in the neighborhood with L on her bike and LP toddling down the sidewalk, BBQed several times, and just basically relaxed.


LP was pretty into the dollhouse.  Paul has okayed getting him one eventually, as long as it's not quite as pink!




At dinner with Aunt C, Grammie's sister who also lives in Vegas.


The flight back went just as well as the flight there (with the exception of one somewhat cranky husband who always, understandably, gets upset and irritable when he has to say good-bye to his brothers), and before we knew it our vacation was over and we were back in Massachusetts- back to our crazy dogs who had missed us and back to the snowy weather. 

So that's the story of our Vegas Baby!  This time, I guess, what happened in Vegas DIDN'T stay in Vegas!


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