Sunday, May 18, 2014

Birthday in Vegas

On the Strip: Kim, Emily, Tarja, me, Sanni, Jo, Kim, Andrea
(Excuse the picture quality, just a simple camera for this post)

Our family barely arrived home from cousin Christina's wedding in Vegas and just a few days later I was back on a plane to celebrate my oldest sister, Tarja's, 40th birthday! She decided that she needed to celebrate this milestone in style- girl style! The group of girls included all of us sisters, sister-in-law, and some of Tarja's closest friends.

Trying on Cirque de Soleil hats after the show
 Since Sanni and I live just minutes from each other, we decided to fly together. We wanted to spend as much time with Tarja as possible so we flew to her home in California to take the rode trip with her to Vegas. Just a few hours before our flight out of Portland, we received an email saying that our flight is delayed two hours. No big deal, right? Well, this made us miss our connecting flight which means we would not be able to fly in that evening. With a lot of phone calls to the airlines and figuring out how to make this work, we eventually had to settle on flying into Los Angeles airport instead of Burbank. Although these two airports are not terrible far from each other in distance, the traffic is the issue. This ended up being a big deal because now our sister had to pick us up at midnight and our drive to her house in Simi Valley ended up being a two hour trip due to construction traffic and a detour off the freeway onto a winding road. On top of it all, I was already feeling sick (yes, again) and with the winding roads I ended up throwing up in the car. Thank goodness my sister is always prepared and had a gallon size ziploc bag to contain it. I felt so bad. Here it was 1:30 am and she has to go out of her way to pick us up and I'm throwing up while she's driving. Happy birthday sis!

Luckily a good nights rest made me 100% the next day. We drove to Las Vegas and checked in at New York New York Hotel. Everyone else was already there so we decided to go out to dinner at Brand Restaurant at the Venetian Hotel. The food was VERY good, and fancy. While we were there we spotted a little dance club that was playing 80's music so we got some dancing in there until early a.m.

We started the morning with a run along the strip, Kim Fortuna's idea. The sidewalks were nicely vacant for us to jog our way soaking up some sun and sights. Our girls weekend agenda took us to Ravella Spa at the Hilton. This was my first time at a spa and took advantage of something I've never had done before- a facial. It was so relaxing that I started to nod off and woke to my sudden snorting. We also got pampered with a bento box lunch and a variety of soothing luxuries like robes, the sauna and steam room, whirlpools, and the outdoor pool. Some of the other gals took advantage of a massage and pedicure, but I already can get a great deal on massages at the office Paul works at.

That evening we had to do the popular "all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet". So what made a Vegas buffet different than others? You could choose Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Southern, etc. all in the same buffet. One of my favorites was a custom made salad bar that they make right in front of you! They also had a slew of desserts. I tried a few but still preferred the ice-cream. I still didn't get my money's worth.$Yikes$

Now that our bellies were beyond full, I had to unbutton my pants to watch "Cirque de Soleil" Mystere show. It was similar to one I've seen before- always captivating!
We ended the night with more dancing, this time at a Latin club until we sweated the night away. On our way back to our hotel we happened upon Michael Jackson performing on a bar!

Vegas was so fun! I could have easily spent a few more days there with my sisters!

My flight home was by myself this time with a layover in Salt Lake City. I've had the worst luck with flights on this trip. My expected 3 1/2 hour layover turned into a 10 hour layover! After feeling sorry for myself and crying like a baby, I decided to suck it up and do something. I found a free shuttle that takes you to Temple Square.

Assembly Hall

"Dollhouse" view of the temple

It was so nice to tour the grounds and museums again since my last visit when we lived here over eight years ago. There was a lot of stuff I had never seen before, and without kids I could actually take time to read some of our church history. I even went on a tour with a non-member couple and the sister missionaries leading the tour invited me to share my testimony with them. I think this beats sitting at the airport for hours!

The flowers are always so perfectly manicured.

So really my horribly long layover turned into an unexpected good experience....oh, and they gave everyone a $200 voucher for this flight! I've never done a girls trip before. All of us sisters decided we need to make sure to do this more least when each of us turns 40!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wedding in Vegas

Easter weekend was quite an event for our little family. Lots of new adventures were had.
It started out Friday early morning (I mean 3 o'clock in the morning) when I couldn't sleep due to a slight headache. All of a sudden I felt horribly sick and ended up throwing up A LOT. I wish it was pregnancy, but my aunt Flo reminded me that I wasn't. So here it was early Friday morning and in just a few short hours we were supposed to be on a plane to Las Vegas as a whole family. I thought for sure Paul was going to have to take the kids without me. I was able to sneak in 2 hours of sleep as I felt quite good at this point. Surprisingly, I felt fine by the time we had to catch our flight!

This was Baelor's first airplane ride, and the first that Reina could remember. They were already stoked having rolling luggage, moving sidewalks, and settling into their very own seats.

SO early hence the reason Baelor is in pajamas and I had an eventful night!
We arrived in Las Vegas to participate in the sealing ceremony and ring exchange for cousin Christina and her now husband, Jeff. Friday was spent hanging out with most of Paul's family. We don't get to see many of them often enough so every moment was cherished. While the guys played golf at Black Mountain Golf Course and some of the girls got pedicures, the rest of us went to a nearby park to play.

Saturday was the big day. While we were in the temple viewing the sealing of Christina and Jeff, some of the older cousins watched the younger cousins in the parking lot of the temple by watching a movie in the car. Luckily, it wasn't hot that morning and temple sealings are not very long.

Reina and Baelor both got to be part of the wedding party. It's tough to get a two-year old boy to take pictures with all the gear on AND smiling AND staying in one place. We had to resort to bribes with grapes, which you can tell in many of the pictures.

I figured that this event was a good enough excuse to try to get some nice headshots/age shots of the kids. I just pretend to know what I'm doing, but you can't get a bad shot of cute kids!

Reina Suvi Guinn, age 5

Baelor Leevi Guinn, age 2

During the intermission before the ring exchange and reception, we attempted naps. But Baelor was not going to let anyone nap seeing that all of us in one hotel room was just too much fun! to the pool we went.

Cousins Benjamin and Madeleine joined us the next day
I loved the colors and style of the wedding. Gorgeous flowers and the perfect amount of vintage charm. Maybe I can make Reina's wedding just how she envisions?

The flower girls got just a LITTLE bored...but they stood there the whole time
Reina with cousins Madeleine and Lauren

While Reina felt special being part of the wedding, Baelor slacked his ring-bearer duties by finally taking his overdue nap. Little did we know he was going to throw up in the parking lot while watching the newlyweds' car get decorated. Phew! We couldn't have planned a better place for him to get that nasty bug I had just the day before.

Easter Sunday was different than any in the past. Since we were staying in a hotel, the Easter Bunny had visited leaving dozens of candy-filled eggs for the kids to find on their way down to breakfast. This was our first year hunting for plastic eggs instead of hard-boiled.

An hour later we all met up at Aunt Lynnette and Uncle Travis' house for Easter brunch (or as the hobbits would call it second breakfast) and another Easter egg hunt with all the cousins. Our kids don't go wild for candy. Reina preferred to give all of her eggs to everyone else and keep just a few big ones that were filled with Peeps for herself.

By Monday, everyone had left while our plane wasn't departing until night so we spent time touring a little of the "clean" side of Vegas. We visited Pro Bass Shop which is similar to Cabella's. It was exactly like Paul wants his mancave to be decorated: thick, wood furniture, animal heads adorning the walls, and endless gear to get lost in.

What made it a true Las Vegas store is that it connected to a casino that had this massive aquarium filled with dozens of varieties of fish. We even saw Dori from Finding Nemo who played with our kids! Paul even gave Reina her first target shooting lesson. Don't worry, there were no bullets!