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A few months ago, we planned a mini-vacation with long time friends, Chris and Phyllis.
Chris went to Grad School with Andrew and participated in our wedding back in 2001. Then we went to his wedding a year later! Now we all have busy blossoming families with Kindergartners and (in the case of their daughter, Cassie, toddlers too!). Since schedules are starting to finally look manageable, we thought it might be fun to attempt a joint family mini-vacation. This trip was the fruit of that effort!
We picked Vegas because it's pretty family friendly.
None of us gamble so it's relatively inexpensive too.
There's fantastic shopping and plenty of eye candy to keep the kids amused and great deals on hotel and restaurants. Perfectamundo! And, thanks to Phyllis's super-thrifty-sleuthing efforts, we were able to find a 2 bedroom suite at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.
Two bedrooms worked perfectly for our two families and our half didn't cost any more than we might have paid for two standard rooms (our usual hotel preference). And the best part of the arrangement was that we didn't have to split up and call it a night when the kids went to bed since we had space to hang out between the two bedrooms. Room service was embarrassingly fantastic too. Seriously... I've never felt so pampered!
We also visited Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and really LOVED the Mystere show (Circ De Soleil). That was an amazing and worth every penny but I have to say that the highlight of the weekend was Mandalay Bay's Lazy River. It's a quarter mile (or so) of meandering water-way with a nice swift current and a depth of not more than 3.5 feet. The idea is that you ride the impressive current on an inflatable ring (for maximum effect) or you can just swim along on your own. When we first saw this so-called "river", we were doubtful since the water was a bit cold and we didn't really understand that there was a current beneath the surface. But when the kids were swept away (with the rings we brought with us around their chest), their shrieks of delight won us over and the fact that we had to leap in and float along with them was more than just a parental responsibility -- it was FUN! I think we spent 2 hours going around and around in this thing and it's probably the part of the weekend We'll all remember most fondly. And, with our hotel key, it was free.
Next time, we'll just pack a bathing suit and some sun screen and skip all the fancy shows and spend our entire weekend gorging on room service and drifting on this on this fabulously fun Lazy River!
The plane touched down yesterday morning just in time for us to grab our luggage, scurry to long-term parking then whisk the girls off to school at noon. They missed one day of Kindergarten because of this mini-vacation but we hope that won't ruin their chances of getting into an Ivy League college in 13 years. Truancy certainly isn't something we plan to make a habit of (so please spare me the lecture in your comments) but there were good lessons learned on this trip:
We don't gamble and we were able to show our kids hundreds (thousands?) of adults sitting in a stinky noisy smoke-filled casino dropping coin after coin into a machine and getting absolutely nothing other than dashed hopes in return. I know the thrill of victory (however remote) is fun to some folks but it's never been fun to us and it's kinda nice to have the opportunity to impress upon our kids at this tender age that it's a vice that's easy to avoid. A rather good lesson for a missed day of school, I think!
PS: When school was out, the girls wanted to play with Gwen's Knight accessories. Maddy was a bit unhappy that she didn't get something like this but she was happy to share some of her sister's abundant bounty. Since less is never more with our girls, they wanted to layer the shields and swords and chest protectors over some historical halloween costumes. I can't belive last year's monkey costumes still fit!
The result? The Monkey Knights you see pictured here!