Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fabulous Las Vegas: Part One

Three weeks ago Jon and I went to Las Vegas.  We had each been once on separate occasions, so we were excited to go together and meet our Chicago friends there. 

We also had another idea:  Neither one of us had been to the Grand Canyon, so why not go visit that as well?  One problem:  It's a 4.5 hour drive from Las Vegas.  One way.  Through the Mojave Desert.  And I was NOT sacrificing a night at our posh LV hotel with an awesome pool to play "nature girl" and stay at the Grand Canyon National Park. Remember:  I'm the person who spent years in Girl Scouts "camping" in air conditioned cabins with catered meals.  When we had to pick a workshop for the weekend, I chose "Stress to Success" where we learned how to meditate on the beach.  The year they made me take "Woodworking" was a disaster.  I digress. 


We left out for Vegas early Thursday morning, but not before I got an overly friendly pat down from TSA agent Houston's Intercontinental Airport.  They were using body scanners, and apparently I moved which entitled me to a full body pat down.  Nice. The TSA lady proceeded to tell me I needed to wear more clothes.  I was wearing long leggins, a long shirt and sweater....really?  She then told Jon she should be searching him instead because I was too skinny and he needed to feed me.  If that woman didn't have the power to make me miss my flight I would have told her she deserved a pat down for eating too much.  I'm all for national security but I'm pretty sure that doesn't involve personal insults.  I digress again...

Our flight arrived at 8:30 am Las Vegas time.  We picked up our rental car and headed to the Grand Canyon.  We rented a Ford Focus, even though a certian someone could barely fit in it, because it got good gas milage.  We were super excited to see the Hoover Dam on the way.  It's about 30 miles outside of LV, so of course we made dam/damn jokes the entire way.  (National Lampoon, anyone?)  They opened a dam/damn bypass bridge (hehe) a few months ago so we were hoping to get some good pictures of the Hoover Dam from a distance.  Imagine our dissapointment when we realized the built the sides of the bridge high enough so you can't see the damn Dam.  (cue lots of innapropriate comments from our car)  Whatever. 

So we continue the drive through the Mojave Desert.  We were imagining lots of sand and big cactus.  Instead, it was actually pretty scenic and hilly in some parts.  Scenic enough to entertain for 1 of the 4.5 hours.

About 20 minutes out from Grand Canyon National Park, we started to wonder where this thing was.  It is ginormous after all, but the drive gave NO clues as to what we were about to see.  It was quite the oppisate.
A mountian with snow? Hmm...

So we drive into the national park and are in a forest.  Now I'm baffled.  Jon says it's the biggest practical joke in history.  1 mile out and all I see is tress and elk.  We park at the visitor center and follow the signs to the Canyon views.  We are walking through trees, and all of a sudden it hits you....

It was amazing!  Pictures don't do justice. 

 We spent 1.5 hrs stopping at various lookout spots.  I decided 2 things:
1.  Although hiking down and camping in the Grand Canyon always sounded kind of cool, there is no way I'll be partaking in this sort of activity.  However...we did meet a grandma who rafted down the Colorado River for 3 days then hiked up the Canyon.  She said she'd been training for it, so I guess never say never.
2.  Bucket list item: check!  Time to move on.  I don't want to go back until our kids are old enough to complain about it.

The 4.5 hour drive back was much less entertaining the second time around, until Jon decided come hell or high water that we'd see the Hoover Dam.  Lucky for us we found the exit where you could park and walk along the bridge that we had crossed earlier. 
We made it just as the sun was setting.

We also found the road that goes over the Hoover Dam.  On the way there, you get amazing views of the bridge that bypasses the dam. 

After our sightseeing adventures, we were worn out and VERY happy to get to Las Vegas!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How many Daily Deal website (Groupon, etc) emails to you get a day? At last count I think I get 12.  While I love the deals, I don't like the emails so I was very excited when I just read about  in a magazine!  It sends you ONE email a day, consolidating all the daily deals for your city.  Yay for simplifying things!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Big Baby

It was her idea. Really.

We've had this thing in our gameroom since she grew out of it (or so I thought).   She'll play with the toys on the outside of it, but today she was whining like she wanted to get in it.  She only weighs 22 lbs, so I figured what the heck.  30 minutes later she was still a happy camper.  

:) :) :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Swim Lessons

Madeline loved the water last summer, so I knew she would be all about it this year!  She'll run straight for the pool, so we decided it was time to take swimming lessons.  We started a Mommy and Me class at the beginning of May.  We (yes, we) are having SO much fun!  She can already blow bubbles under the water and will hopefully be floating on her back by herself soon.

Side note: No laughing at the bathing suit.  I didn't think my usual sun-worshiping suits would be appropriate.

The Set-Up

Working on kicks

The buoys are used to teach kicks.  She can hold on my herself.

Even more fun:  Swimming lessons with Valerie and Brock!

Floating on her back

Madeline and Brock look like big kids.  So cute.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hasta Luego, Friends

Last week was very sad for me.  Two of our very dear friends, Sara and Kim, both moved in the same week: Kim to San Antonio, and Sara to Fort Worth.  This also means that Madeline's first boyfriend, Hunt, and boyfriend #2, Rich, moved away. :(  While these moves are great for their families, to say they will be missed is an understatement.  (I've seen Kim at least twice a week since the kiddos were a few months old!) Our "boot camp" group will not be the same without them! It can be hard to find good, drama free, genuine friends.  Thankfully there are a few of us left that don't plan on leaving anytime soon. :)

A few weeks ago we held a going away party for them at our house. 

How many Dad's does it take to grill burgers?

Madeline's BFFs

Dads with the kids

Friends!  Our collective weight was obviously too much for the bouncer to handle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This was in the newspaper's Parade Magazine a few weeks ago. 

Solar Meerkats??  If I was asked to come up with the most random piece of yard art I don't think I could come up with anything so oobnoxious...and funny.  This is so ridiculous I can't even come up with a witty comment.  (Although it would make for an expensive prank for someone's front yard...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pistol's 80th Birthday

On April 17th we went to New Orleans to celebrate my Paw Paw's (also known as Pistol's)  80th birthday.  All five of his kids, including my Dad, hosted a wonderful birthday party for him at the Audubon Park Golf Course Clubhouse.  We celebrated with family and 140 of his closest friends.  It was held on the glorious weekend with the cold front, so we enjoyed mingling outside amongst the giant oak trees.

I left the party with three realizations:
  • I felt incredibly blessed by such a great family: not only immediate but extended as well.  We all still love each other and get along great: Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, the whole nine yards.  It's so rare these days and I feel fortunate to be related to such wonderful (and fun) people. 
  • I missed my MiMi (Pistol's wife) ...she passed away in May of 2005.  She would have loved all of it and would be very proud of her family.  I know she was watching us from above with a big smile on her face and the occasional eye roll at Pistol's jokes! 
  • When I turn 80 I hope even 14 people want to party with me!
Enjoy the picture overload!
The Noto Family

Pistol with his kids


Traditional South Louisiana food: yum!

My mom's parents, Grandma and Grandpa, drove in to celebrate.

Mom, Me and Grandma

 Beautiful scenery

Niki, Me, Maria and Aimee

Pistol with his grandkids

 Silly it.

This is the best family pic we took.  My poor baby is yawning.

Somehow we always end up dancing.  Not sure how it happens, but it does. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011


I had to share a few things that have been coming out of my child's mouth.  When she's doing something she's not supposed to be doing, I'll tell her "no ma'am."  This morning she was reaching for a power cord.  I looked at her and she said "no ma'am."  At least she knows what I'm saying.  Next step: comprehension! 

She's become quite the chatterbox, although Jon and I are the only people who can understand half of what she says.  For example: button, bird and bunny all sound like Bi**h.  Yup, my child is unknowingly spewing expletives.  At least "bunny" season is over.  The next thing we have to work on is the button fascination.  She stands in the laundry room screaming buttons/ b***h until I lift her up to press the buttons on the washing machine and dryer.  It's pretty funny at home, but it gets pretty awkward and we're out shopping.  If you need me, I'll be the one in the children's department with the toddler screaming button/b***h at every article of clothing with a button on it. 

On an unrelated note, I apologize for being bad blogger.  We've been very busy and I have LOTS of posts coming up, including:
  • Pistol's 80th birthday party
  • Going Away Party for friends (boo)
  • Swimming lessons
  • Our second Kleckley/Rotelli/Anderson trip: Las Vegas edition
  • My ridiculously awesome Mother's Day present that earned my husband lots of brownie points

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

17 Months!

(This picture pretty much sums up Miss Maddie: Hamming it up, not looking at the camera, wearing her favorite "mimi" swimsuit.  We had to use Elmo as a bribe to get her to sit still.
"See Madeline? Elmo is smiling and sitting still.  Can you do that?")

  • Madeline weighs 22 pounds
  • She has 13 teeth and is working on #14
  • She dances (twirls around in circles) when she hears music
  • She has started to say Mommy more.  She brought me my phone the other day and said "Mommy's". 
  • She has started calling other people by name and will point to them: GiGi, Poppy, Aimee, Granny, Lilo and Weasel (our nickname for sounds more like whistle but it's still funny).
  • I'm starting to think she's training for Miss America with the amount of blowing kisses and waves she gives out to complete strangers.
  • She's borderline obsessed with Elmo.  I bought her an Elmo book last month and had no idea how much she would love it.  I also had no idea how many "Elmos" are out in public until she started freaking out every time she sees a picture or something.   Along with this has come an interest Sesame Street.  When she hears the opening song, she'll do her dramatic "ooooohhhhhhh", put her hands over her mouth and dance around. 
  • Today was her first day of swimming lessons.  She loved playing in the water. 
  • We flip between one nap and two based on our schedule that day.  Ideally, it's one hour in the morning and close to 2 hours in the afternoon
  • She likes to go outside and play with bubbles.  She'll bang on the back door thought the day and say "bubbles"