Thursday, October 23, 2008

Girl's Weekend in Vegas

About a year ago when I heard that Bette Midler would be performing in Las Vegas at the Caesar's Palace Colosseum, I asked my best friend Angela if she would be willing to go together some weekend. We both have always loved Bette, and feel a strong connection to the movie Beaches. Finally we were able to look at ticket prices and available weekends and settled on seeing Bette on Saturday October 18 at 7:30pm. We decided to make a weekend of it, and booked a room at the Southpoint Hotel & Casino. It seemed like it took forever to get here, but we finally got to go!

The show was amazing. We had fantastic seats directly in the center on the second mezzanine level. Bette performed a variety of her famous songs including The Rose, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Wind Beneath My Wings, and many others. She made us laugh, she made us cry - she truly was the divine Miss M. :)

Best friends Angela and Keri - over 15 years have passed since we met and this weekend provided our very first opportunity to spend so much quality time together. We talked a lot, we laughed even more, and we really strengthened our already strong friendship. Though we don't always agree on every issue, we gain perspective from each other, we support each other, we encourage each other and most of all, we love each other in spite of and sometimes because of our differences. This weekend would not have been the same with any other person and I'm grateful we had the opportunity to go.

Being silly with feather boas at the Barry Manilow store at the Las Vegas Hilton. We had wanted to eat dinner at Quarks (craving the Holy Rings of Betazed - onion rings), but were saddened to discover it no longer exists.

So, we ate at the Paradise Cafe instead and contented ourselves with some shopping for cute trinkets, like a small button I got that says "I love not camping", and being silly with boas and other assorted Manilow merchandise.

Saturday was spent checking out the M&M super 5-floor souviner shop which included a huge wall of over 25 colors of M&M's in assorted flavors too.

Angela finally got to try out an oxygen bar. The salesman flirted with us as he showed off all the massage tools they also sold and convinced us enough to buy several of them. Nukkles was a great investment for me, and a scalp massager was a hit for Angela.

Next we headed to the Coca Cola store where we had the opportunity to purchase Tastes of the World. Soda flavors from 16 countries available in small taste servings for only $7 (and free for us because their computer system went down and the line got long).

We tried all the flavors by themselves first and then got silly making our own mixed flavors. Some looked bad but tasted good, some looked good but tasted bad...and a few were even better mixed together than on their own. :)

The Italy flavor was called "Beverly" and this was the face we made when tasting it. It has a terrible mediciny/tart grapefruit taste. We tried mixing it with "Fanta Kolita" from Costa Rica (tasted like deoderant smells)...but it was actually worse, but made for lots of laughter. :)

Beautiful Angela ready for our night out to see Bette Midler. We had dinner at Planet Hollywood in the Forum Shops of Caesar's Palace. It was quite yummy and fun to look at all the movie props and watch old music videos.

Me in my cute new top and jeans. Thanks Kelly for helping me pick out the shirt. We had great seats at the Colosseum and the ladies sitting next to us were also huge Bette Midler fans and provided some interesting pre-show conversation.

Before the show, we had the opportunity to get our pictures taken - it was a little embarassing, but lots of fun and yes, we did purchase the pictures after the show. :)
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. Seeing Bette Midler was such a wonderful opportunity and I would love to see her perform again. This was only my second concert and the setting was much more intimate and thus more exciting. Being able to share this weekend with Angela was great and I really enjoyed all the opportunities for conversation that it provided. I'm grateful for her friendship and support in my life and glad that we were able to have this girl's weekend. Maybe there will be more in our future! :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't let it steal your joy!

Something my mom often says to us when it seems like attacks are coming on every side of us..." don't let Satan steal your joy!" Though it can be all too easy to give in and let all the negativity, all the problems and concerns steal our joy, we must not give up and try to find and keep all the joy that God brings to our lives.

This weekend we joined my sister & family for their yearly timeshare vacation. This time it was in Palm Springs at the gorgeous Marriott Shadow Ridge Resort. My sister and her family planned to be there Friday to Friday, Josh & I could come Friday through Monday afternoon and our parents could be there through Thursday afternoon. We didn't have a lot of fancy plans...just to relax, play games, spend time together, read, the boys could play a little golf and maybe spend a day or two at the nearby Children's Museum.

Starting last week, I got my first case of laryngitis which seems to have been brought on by an allergic reaction to the constant daily use of fertilizer on the courtyard outside the library which lasted Monday through Friday. I had a slightly hoarse voice late Monday evening which turned into full blown laryngitis on Tuesday - with almost no voice all day and a very sore throat. Wednesday and Thursday were a bit better - more able to talk, but still sore. Thursday night it started to get worse and Friday was almost as bad as Tuesday had been. The smell of fertilizer alone was almost unbearable, but the reaction to my voice was much worse. Though I tried gargling with salt water (first time made me gag, subsequent times were almost as bad...but I've continued), lots and lots of water and hot tea, and as much rest as possible for my seems like it does take at least a full two weeks to heal as told (we'll see if this is true after this week).

So we started out the weekend with a my humorous (at least to my sister :) hoarse voice, my dad not feeling well and Katelyn having a fever, but not seeming too sick yet. I drove out to Palm Springs with Kelly, Katelyn & Jonathan. Along the way, Katelyn was enthralled with the windmills and kept pointing them out as we passed them. She counted them (1-25, then 26, 27, 28, 29, 26, 27, 28, 29, 26, 27, 28,29, 40!) and several times told us we needed to drive up those hills to them and hit them! As my sister said, she was a little Don Quixote, chasing windmills! :) The resort was beautiful and our rooms were spacious, lovely and conveniently located. Josh & David arrived soon after...and an hour later Mom & Dad got there too. We settled into our rooms - a one bedroom unit which included a full kitchen, dining room, living room, separate bedroom and a huge bathroom with walk-in glass shower and ginormous tub, and a patio overlooking the golf course; attached was a studio unit which included a tiny kitchen area, large bathroom and bedroom/living room combo along with a small patio with the same view. About 5 doors down was another studio unit which was the mirror image. Mom & Dad were in the bedroom, Kelly & David and kids were in the attached studio, and Josh & I had to separate studio.

Though Dad wasn't feeling well and didn't eat much until Saturday evening, the weekend started out pretty well. Katelyn continued to have a fever, but seemed perky and mostly happy. We had dinner and played games on Friday night. Saturday we relaxed around the resort and rooms, played some more games and had lunch. Kelly & I went shopping at Kohl's where we were happy to discover major sales, with additional savings at the register. I had needed a new shirt & shoes to wear this coming weekend when I go to Las Vegas with my best friend Angela to see Bette Midler in concert! With Kelly's help and advice I ended up with a really awesome shirt that I never would have picked on my own. We found some great earrings to match and adorable shoes too. Everything I ended up getting was at least 30% off, and some was up to 75% off - it was fantastic! :)

Things started to go downhill on Sunday morning. We had all gotten up to make birthday breakfast pancakes for my mom and Kelly was feeling sick. As the morning progressed she felt worse and had major chills and nausea. Katelyn was feeling worse as well and continued to have a fever, and it looked as though David had developed pinkeye. So they made the decision to drive back home to go to Urgent Care. So while the three of them headed out, the rest of us stayed home with Jonathan. Thankfully Dad was feeling much better, and though my throat was still sore by the end of each day it was no longer very hoarse. They arrived home with the diagnoses - Katelyn had an ear infection, David did have pinkeye, and Kelly had antibiotics for whatever was ailing her (strep throat or bronchitis they thought). Half of us were miserable...we had to cancel our plans to go out to dinner for Mom's birthday and decided to get Pizza hut instead. Thankfully it turned out to be the best pizza Mom felt she had had in over a year.

This morning we discovered that it appeared David had gotten whatever it was Kelly had as he had a fever and chills as well and felt unwell. Josh & I had to head home so that I could go to work. At this point it does not seem like we caught the bug they have...and we're praying that it stays that way. Be praying for my family as they struggle to feel better and try to enjoy the rest of their vacation. The hope and prayer is that the medicine will help and they will feel better soon. Already Katelyn seems much improved and doesn't have a fever that I know of.

Though it is tempting to give up and feel like all is lost...God is still in control and He knew this would happen. Though you never want to be sick on your least it was time David already had off from work. At least they are somewhere they can relax and not worry about the normal daily life stresses and struggles. I know they can still find joy in spite of the trying circumstances. We were able to be together...we were able to laugh...we were able to have some fun...and those are all wonderful things. We will do our best to not lose our joy!