Firsts: Las Vegas and Flying

Jorge told me to keep my Friday open: no appointments at work and give my bosses a heads up about possibly being out. It would be tough since we had our Mexican Artisan Expo coming up, but I made sure to complete my daily to-do lists to leave everything ready, just in case. 

Thursday afternoon comes around and I get a text from Jorge: “Fill out your absence form, the trip is happening!”

I was in disbelief and panicked since I hadn’t filled out my form because I didn’t think we were actually going anywhere; it was already late in the week AND we had lots going on, like La Guelaguetza that evening and leaving work early for Alaethia’s Awards Ceremony. But I get my form filled out, signed and submitted with no problem. Our events ran late, we grabbed Whataburger and although we still needed to pack and I needed to put a few things in to wash, we were exhausted so I would do it all in the morning.

It was kind of like I was floating around witnessing my own life from the outside; we were going on an All-Expense-Paid trip to VEGAS, and I just couldn’t believe it. Never in a million years did I think we’d get to go–and for practically FREE??

I took my sweet time the next morning since our flight had changed to a later time, making myself a lovely, un-rushed breakfast and then chit-chatted with Linda and Mom…for a while.

When Jorge texted about needing a few things packed I finally went into panic mode when I realized that I had 2 HOURS to finish getting ready, so I started showering, doing my hair and packing. I had to admit that I had butterflies in my stomach. At the tender age of 35, I’d still not flown in an airplane, nor had I been to Vegas and wasn’t sure what to expect. I had visions of myself flipping out like Annie in Bridesmaids.

Jorge gets home and we finish packing. I check my lists and re-check to make sure I didn’t forget anything. We start getting everything in the car and I start to feel super nervous, but I will not admit it. We load the car, I give Mom an hug and we take off.

Jorge, being a Veteran flier, gave me a rundown of what to do and not do to make our airport experience quick and easy: no earrings, put your jewelry in your luggage, don’t wear socks and wear slides. I dressed as appropriately as possible.

We’re near the mall almost to the airport when I realize, “Holy shit! I forgot my fucking flat-iron! And I didn’t bring hair gel or anything!!”

(And my toothbrush, his toothbrush and toothpaste! FAAKKK!!)

My wonderful husband–who isn’t too good about gently telling you to calm down–says, “You had all day, how could you not pack that??” And then I see him take a turn into the JC Penney parking lot. I tell him, “No, I am not buying a new one. That’s ridiculous.” He said, “You’re not buying one, I’m buying one.” So he practically drags me inside and he’s showing me all these awesome CHI ones with really cute patterns and shows me one he really likes and suddenly I feel overwhelmed. I tell him just to get the one he liked and I step outside for fresh air. And then I get teary. I attribute it to the fact that I’m nervous about flying and just not knowing what to expect.

I finally calm down on the way to the airport. Jorge packs my flat-iron and we’re off to have our baggage checked in.

Excuse the no eye makeup

It was a long-ish wait, but we went through just fine and the portly, kind TSA agent told me my pink fuzzy slides were the coolest shoes he’d seen in a long time, aww!

We found the correct gate and stopped by a gift shop so that I could get some water and a snack, since I decided to be an idiot and not have lunch πŸ™„ . I was going to try my best to stick to Keto foods, so that left me with the option of jerky a snack protein pack and water.

They start boarding and we walk down this tubey-tunnel and into the airplane. It’s cold, so I’m glad I brought my Pikachu hoodie πŸ˜† . We make our way all the way to the end. Jorge says, “If we got window seats, you sit there so you can experience it.” My nerves turn to excitement–I can’t believe I’m about to fly on a plane!! We get to our seats and we’re in the middle and aisle seats. Boo. Everyone’s seated and the flight attendant tells the people behind us that if they’d like to, they could move to a window seat in an empty row. Jorge overhears and asks the flight attendant if we can do the same and tells her I’ve never flown before, and the flight attendant cheerfully says, “Sure!”

Yay!
Jorge tells me to chew some gum so my ears won’t pop, so I frantically lift my bag from between my feet and get us some sticks. A flight attendant does through all the instructions, like in the movies πŸ˜† . My heart is thumping as the plane starts to move. As we ascend, I begin to take video, and as we get higher Jorge says, “Do you not feel that, or are you ignoring it?” As I’m still taking video I ask, “What? What should I be feeling?” He says, “No, you’re good, I think you’ll be okay.” πŸ˜†

I had only seen people’s photos of clouds and the earth below from social media, and couldn’t believe I was experiencing it myself! It felt surreal!

We entertained ourselves with the snacks we got at the airport.

About an hour in, we ordered some mixed nuts and mixed drinks πŸ˜€ .

Jorge fell asleep and I blogged a teensy bit before I started nodding off, too, but I was too excited to fall sleep! And then I started seeing this:

We finally arrive (it was a 2-hour, 45-minute flight). I’m in awe of the scenery and then by how enormous the airport is. So much walking!

Our friend texts us briefly to let us know there’s a car waiting for us; just look for our name in the crowd.

I immediately felt fancy πŸ˜† . Flying, Vegas, our name on an iPad?? And riding in a brand-new Escalade to MGM???  What is this life??

We see skyscrapers and screens and lights, like in the movies! You can even see the Mandalay Bay, and the windows that were still broken due to the shooter. πŸ™ Such a sobering view.

We arrive at the hotel…

I can’t believe how huge and luxurious it is and how many people are in there. We’re like real tourists, standing in the middle of the lobby, stumped on what to do, where to go. Our friend had made our reservation, obviously, and we weren’t sure what row of people to stand behind to be helped. Jorge couldn’t get ahold of him because he was on his own flight on his way to Vegas. 

2 people with anxiety in large crowds is a recipe for disaster LOL. Jorge remembered seeing a certain name on the water bottles in the Escalade and I found a counter with the exact same name. So, me, being the one with less anxiety found a concierge that wasn’t helping people and asked her if she could check on our reservation at that counter. After a few calls because our friend wasn’t present, we were in the system and were taken to our room.

Jorge, enjoying a complimentary apple

We organize our things in the room and snap photos. I’m taken aback by how huge the city is, how tall the buildings are at every turn. We flip through the menus on the TV and relax for a while till we meet our friends in their room for hors d’oeuvres. 

That water fountain tho

Our friends are staying in one of the penthouses and it’s just incredible!! The decor, the ceiling height, the food that was catered in from the kitchen–it’s all amazing. We had some Champagne and bits and pieces from a charcuterie board and got ready to go to actual dinner. I was already stuffed!
We went downstairs through the casino and to the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grille.

I didn’t want to take a photo of my food because I felt silly in front of these wealthy people, heh. But I did snap a quick photo of the hubs:

Choices, choices.

I had never had such amazing chicken wings in my life! The pomme frites and everything else we shared were incredible as well!

We ended the evening watching our friends play baccarat in the high roller’s room. I was amazed by how much some people were spending! All I kept thinking when they would lose was, “Just give it to me instead!!” πŸ˜†

We were up till 3am, which is something I haven’t done in YEARS. We had to get some Starbucks so I could stay awake lol. 

We woke up late the next morning and ordered room service. Jorge had a Bacon Bloody Mary; it was so good!

Breakfast! Only had a bite of hash brown.
Bacon Bloody Mary

I started feeling kinda groggy and my nose was running like crazy. So we showered and got ready to explore a bit. And find some Dayquil πŸ™„ . Only I would get sick in Vegas.

That sun. Jorge realized he left his glasses in the room LOL.

We found a Walgreens, thank God. Got some toothbrushes, toothpaste and Day/Nyquil.

We looked around and visited several stores before our friends wanted to meet up again. As we’re walking back into the MGM, some guys dressed up as a Transformer and Iron Man come up to us and say, “Want a picture, Beautiful??” Jorge already has his arm around my waist but pulls me closer and angrily says, “NO.” I giggle and say, “You’re so overprotective!” He says, “Hello, they were talking to ME!” Buahahaha!!

We played some slots and had some drinks…

And then we met our friends at the High Roller’s Room again. There was a tournament and the amount of MONEY that was being bet! One man was switching back and forth between two tournaments and had $14 Million at one table 😯 I would pretty much cash out right there–or is that something you can’t do yet? LOL

We did some more day drinking:

And then we had lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s Grille again. It was incredible!

Our friend surprised us with tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s “KA”!! So we had about an hour to just chill out in our room. Of course that meant taking a selfie:

Couldn’t resist since it matched my dress.

We got ready to head out and were already running late somehow so I only got to do a quick drive-by photo:

I had never seen a show more spectacular than this! It was breathtaking and I found myself asking Jorge, “Is that actually happening or is it an illusion??” several times throughout the show.  The aerial performers were incredible, it was funny just enough and the crazy stage floor that would rise up to a 90-180 degree angle and drop sand and water was crazy!! I was impressed and so was Jorge.

We headed back to our room, but not before grabbing some Starbucks; my old ass was ALREADY getting sleepy at 10pm! We ordered some drinks in and were all set to relax before we met our friends for dinner.

I was feeling so sick and groggy that I couldn’t enjoy my Starbucks or my drink at all πŸ™ . It was quite depressing. Next thing I knew, Jorge was on the phone saying, “We fell asleep…” I shoot out of bed and look at the time: 12:00am!! Apparently, we’d crashed out and our friends had been trying to get a hold of us for the last hour to have dinner! We thanked them, but opted out, washed up and changed for bed. We had to be up early the next day anyway.
We showered and were up by 6am. We were going to get breakfast at the airport and be ready for our flight at 9am. Since we were anxious about our transportation and didn’t really know the airport, we wanted to be ready.

We grabbed all our luggage and checked out. I was feeling better from my cold after all that sleep, heh. 

We’re waiting outside for our car and don’t know which in the world it is; there are tons of Escalades. So I ask one of the gentlemen and he calls in to the office. He asks for our names and says, “Your car is on its way, ma’am.” A black Bentley (that Jorge tells me is worth about 3 houses) drives right up to us and the lady helps us load our luggage. 

Then she turns on our back massagers. I couldn’t believe it.

We arrive to the airport and do the whole check-in and baggage thing. The lady writes out our gate number on a tiny slip of paper and Jorge sticks it in his pocket. We start the trek towards our gate and snap a pic in the tram 

Like true tourists lol

And then we grab some Burger King. It was the most expensive Burger King meal, ever. Ah, Vegas!

It wasn’t 100% Keto; I left the bottom croissant on it 😳 . 

Jorge and I eat quickly and make our way to the gate. I don’t remember if he checked the little ticket with our gate number or if I asked him to, but we were at the wrong gate! We hightailed it across the airport, no tram or anything! Then we hear over the intercom that it’s the last call for our flight, so our brisk walk turns into a trot lol. Thankfully, we make it!

It was a cloudless day.

We get to the airport 2.5 hours later and grab our luggage. We’re still reeling from the last couple of days, but We’re glad to be home, too.  We head to Kusina Restaurant for some lunch. 

I still cant believe I visited Vegas! Another check off the Bucket List!
 

Mini-Vacation to San Antonio & Austin – August 2016

We, thankfully, got to take a trip to Austin to visit the in-laws with the kids this year! My wonderful mom-in-law spear-headed the entire trip and we were so grateful. Of course, Briana (who is the queen of finding things to do in Austin!) planned activities and even had an itinerary ready for us. She’s seriously that. AWESOME!

So in our usual fashion, we were running late for everything. Some of the laundry wasn’t ready so we still had packing to do. I even forgot to pack my pillow and my blanket, which I hate to leave the house without on trips. BUT, the kids were super well-behaved (and entertaining when they weren’t asleep LOL), and we only made about 2 bathroom trips to gas stations.

Our first stop was Drury Inn and Suites, which Briana chose for us. It was seriously one of the best hotels we’ve ever stayed at. The staff was super friendly, too!

So after checking in, we all went to Slab BBQ for dinner. It was SO GOOD! Of course, Briana and I started with the picture-taking :D.

My Sis-in-law and I at Slab BBQ!
The Littles!
The Boys!
Jorgie!
Jules and Dina!
Pork Belly Nachos!
Pork Belly Nachos!

Naturally, I got nachos. And like usual, I didnt finish even a third. When we were done, we stopped by the apartment to drop dinner off to Javi. Even though we’d all just stuffed ourselves silly, we headed to Jump USA with the kids and hoped for the best (i.e. no barfing!).

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Eenan stayed with us mostly; he wasn’t too into having to go play, nor be followed around by the 13-14-year-old girls following Nick and Jorgie πŸ˜† .

We got back to the hotel and the kids took brief showers and we settled in for the night.

The next day, we got ready as quickly as possible to go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. My kiddos had already gone this summer for a day with their dad, and Jorgie and Justin went with their school but Jorge hadn’t ever been and Julien hadn’t either. I hadn’t gone since the boys were toddlers!

Google Maps managed to find the “better” route for us to Fiesta Texas, but we were still in a terribly long line for about an hour. Then came the long wait for bag checks and buying an additional ticket. When we finally broke through the crowd, our first stop was bathrooms, and then Briana and all the big boys, except Eenan, broke off to find the Superman roller-coaster. The rest of us went to get some lunch for the little ones.

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Funny little squirrels! We’re used to the little brown ones!

After some drama waiting for the train ride and we finally got to get on, we went for 2 consecutive rides.

And then we waited for the tire-float river-ride thing…for 1.5 hours!! Briana and the kids followed, but were about 80 people behind us!

Lol at Jaylen’s Expression!

We waited to catch up and snap a photo!

Jorge hadn’t gotten on any rides (and I’m not one for roller-coasters! I’m too short and feel like I’ll fly out–worst feeling!) so I told him to go with his sis and the boys to get on rides. Eenan stayed behind with me and the little ones, whom we spent the rest of the time taking to the smaller rides.

And then we all met up after the Batman ride, which Jaylen, Jorge and Briana went on. The ride was so intense they were all pretty sure they died for a few minutes and came back to life πŸ˜† .

Since we hadn’t been able to get a photo of the kids all together, we took the opportunity to take a few before we left.

We weren’t able to see at least half the park (or more) and didn’t get to see the shows because there were just that many people there trying to get just one last vacation in before kids returned to school.

The next day, we had breakfast and we all went to Voodoo Donuts, a famous donut shop that’s even been featured on Food Network (or Travel Channel, I forget). Javi was treating us.

Too sunny!

The Voodoo Donut!

The line to order was long, but the donuts were totally worth it. I had thee best Bavarian Creme one! The decor was cute AND there were chalkboards in the bathroom stalls!

It started to drizzle as soon as we went outside, but that didn’t stop us from continuing with our original plan: checking out the murals!

Javi said the girls were doing a ‘prison pose’! Buahaha!

Jorge got a photo with Mr. Nelson:

Next stop was an eclectic little old-fashioned candy shop! On the way there, we were playing PokΓ©mon Go, of course, and saw a Gyrardos out “in the wild”! How unfair is that?!

We finally found the candy shop and it was a dream! The kids had a blast checking everything out πŸ™‚ .

Big Top Candy Shop – 1706 S. Congress Ave.
Dina and Jaylen
Jorge got us some chocolate Covered Bacon – THEE BEST!

A few stores down was this adorable boutique with this rainbow wall of dinosaur succulent planters! Dina bought me one!

It started getting drizzlier, and we were hungry from all the walking, so we made our way to IHOP. Needless to say, we had pretty bad service πŸ˜• . They failed to tell us they were out of just about everything (avocados, soup, mac-n-cheese for the kids, I forget what else), 30 minutes after they took our order. But, I have to admit I was pretty happy with my plate.

We went back to the hotel after lunch to chill out and then a few kids stayed with Dina and the rest of us went to Pokemon Hunt at a park.

It would have been even more awesome had the ground not been so muddy, but we still had fun. All the Littles needed to go to the bathroom so we headed back to the hotel. We made it just in time for dinner at the hotel, which was included with our rental! I was still full from lunch, so I snacked.

We continued with the Pokemon Hunting later that evening. A little difficult to do with all the busy streets and parking, but we found this pretty cool spot near Franklin BBQ.

The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel and then went sight-seeing (and Pokemon Hunting πŸ˜† )! I’d been wanting to visit the Hope Outdoor Gallery for around 2 years, so we Googled it and were on our way.

1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703

It was drizzling more than the day before, so we didn’t want to get the little ones down, so we admired it from the car. I would really love to walk through it, though!

We met Dina, Briana, the kiddos and Javi at Kim Phung Restaurant. I had to have the steak Pho, of course!

(I’m having regrets right about now about not being able to finish my bowl πŸ™ !)

When we all finished up our meals and Dina and Briana went back to work, we went on a search for the “You’re My Butter Half” mural. We googled it and found it on the side of the United Way of Greater Austin building. It was a bit of a slippery climb, but we quickly assembled and took our photos!

United Way of Greater Austin – 2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.

It immediately started raining as soon as we snapped our last pic, so we climbed in the car and did a bit of shopping at Marshall’s (boys needed socks, Emily broke her flip flop and she was missing a pair of clothes!). We didn’t get to find the “I Love You So Much” mural, but that’s definitely one to do on our next trip!

We hung out at the hotel, had dinner there with Dina, Briana the kids and Javi. The kids wanted to swim but the pool was closed, of course, due to the drizzle. We didn’t get to do any water parks or pools this time, boo.

But we did get to go for one more PokeHunt–with Dina this time! And we had such a blast, too! We went back to our spot in front of Franklin BBQ and it made us realize just how slim our PokePickin’s are here in the Valley!

We said our goodbyes the next morning πŸ™ and headed to East Austin Succulents before heading home.

I wanted to lose my mind with all those beautiful succulents, but I behaved myself and let the kiddos choose some instead :).

It rained tons on the way home, and we had bad service yet again in Georgetown at McDonald’s. Cashiers were rude and frankly, didn’t know how to count. Oh, and a passerby asked Jorge if I was his wife and if those were all our kids. He said yes and the man said, “Congratulations, she’s a keeper!” Buahaha πŸ˜† . All-in-all, it was great and I can’t wait to go back!