A Mom, A Dad, Two Kids and Sin City Part II

 

Day 3: Trump International, Botanical Gardens and Gondolas

 

Some people may have mixed feelings, but I was curious to check out Trump International for breakfast just to see what the fuss was about.  The hotel is quiet, as it doesn’t have a casino inside of it, and there were several sparkling floor-to-ceiling light fixtures in the lobby which Viv and I loved.  Jeff and I had a little bet on whether the “Make America Great Again” hats would be in the gift shop.

 

I honestly didn’t think they would be, but the minute you saw the gift shop, you couldn’t help but notice a large stack of mainly red hats and I knew I had lost the bet.  Breakfast at DJT was yummy and overall, I’d take those huevos rancheros and free valet parking again next time.

Once nap time for Sebastian was over, we headed out for The Venetian but first stopped at the Botanical Gardens in Bellagio.  There is always a different theme for these gardens, and this time the theme Chinese New Year and it was just as gorgeous as it has ever been.
What can I say about The Venetian?  This is a cool hotel as it not only mixes rooms with casino, but it also throws in a high-end mall.  We went straight for the gondola ride which was definitely a highlight to our trip.  The gondolier sang many songs with us as we floated through the hotel and took many, many pictures.  We went to dinner that night at Grand Luxe Cafe.
Night-night!
Day 4: Dig This and Homeward Bound
We woke up, got dressed and quickly went to our appointment at an amazing place called Dig This not far off of the strip.  I found this business online when searching for things to do and although I wasn’t sure my kids were old enough, I had to at least call and see.  
When I called, Walt was more than accommodating and he said he would be able to ride the machines with my kids.  I never knew places like this existed, but Dig This allows kids and adults to operate excavators, bulldozers and other construction machines for a once in a lifetime experience.  Sebastian has inspired a love for these machines in our family through the way he lights up when he spots one of these driving around town.
Everyone who worked here was incredible, friendly and patient with our kids.  Bash and Viv were able to operate the machines with assistance, driving forward, backward, spinning in circles and picking up tires.  Dig This made sure we went out with a bang.

A Mom, A Dad, Two Kids and Sin City Part I

Eating at Yellowtail Restaurant at The Bellagio

 

I have only been to Vegas three times before this most recent trip and while I always see plenty of kids here, I instinctively felt like it wouldn’t be ‘Vegas’ if I ever brought my kids along.  I was under the impression that there wouldn’t be a whole lot for them to do, considering much of the attraction to Las Vegas is adult entertainment.

Alas, we knew we needed to get away somewhere, and we wanted a place we could drive to.  So with that requirement, and having done Palm Desert twice already, we figured we would give Vegas a shot with the whole family.  Boy, was I wrong about not having much for the kids to do.

I am writing this not only to document a memory, but also give some ideas for a Vegas trip for another family with small children.  This is how the we did Vegas…

 

Day 1:  The Drive & Arrival

 

We left the house around 10am equip with snacks, toys, music and fully charged phones.  We stopped in Barstow for food and to stretch our legs, then back in the car while the kids and I slept the rest of the way.

We checked in at Bellagio and were given a wheelchair accessible room by the woman who checked us in as a curtesy.  What’s the difference?  Well, the room and bathroom are considerably bigger.  I wouldn’t know that had I not stayed at this hotel twice before.  We settled in and had dinner at Fix.  Just a tip, every restaurant we went to we requested a rounded booth so we could sandwich the kids between us (good idea).

 

Ready for adventure, we drove to Circus Circus for a fun show and carnival games.  Vivien, our 4 year old, actually popped a balloon with a dart and won herself a prize.  We topped that off with chocolate fromHershey’s Chocolate World in the NYNY Hotel and we are still working through our endless bag of kisses.

Getting the 2 year old to bed that night wasn’t easy, so the strategy ended up being that he fell asleep in the stroller and then was transferred to crib.  We did that each night.
Day 2: Museum Day, Spa and Kobe Beef
As you may know, many kids want to eat the moment they wake up.  Having totally forgotten this, we didn’t order room service in advance and faced hungry children at 7am.  We quickly got ourselves together and went to a breakfast place I had remembered from my first time in Vegas called The Cracked Egg.
After eating we headed to The Las Vegas Museum of Natural History.  Looks are deceiving here, because when I first entered, the place seemed somewhat small.  After getting through the aquatic portion of the museum, we entered a space with Egyptian relics, then dinosaur fossils, then the whole of Africa.  The kids could have spent the entire day there, but quite frankly, it was us parents getting worn out towards the end.
Back in the room we put Sebastian down for a nap and I went to Bellagio’s amazing gym and spa spending several hours pampering myself.  That night, we decided to do dinner at Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant in our hotel.  Sebastian wouldn’t eat sushi, but he amazed me at how quickly he inhaled the kobe beef.  Note to self: get that recipe!
Finally, The Spa at Bellagio

Un-decorating… Oh What Fun It Is

 

Today, I began the un-decorating of my house. I am in the midst of putting away all the decorative pillows, ornaments, festive lights and Christmas wreaths. Sometimes putting these things away feels like getting rid of more than just mere ‘things’. Indeed, it sometimes feels like we also take our holiday cheer, surround it with bubble wrap and put it in a red and green storage box deep in the garage with everything else.

This year however, I’m not feeling that same yucky feeling as I put away all my Christmas decor.

Starting in November, this holiday season we have had visitors, countless play dates and night trips around the city doing fun things with our kids. The Aquarium of the Pacific was our first stop of the season, then the lights at the LA zoo, The Grove, visiting Santa, driving through Candy Cane Lane and even going ice-skating twice. Bebe (my mom) and my Aunt Joanne were here for a nice long visit that elated my little ones beyond anticipation. Thanksgiving brunch outside, Malibu lunches, walks around the neighborhood, Palm Desert relaxation with a friend, online shopping, lots of food and lots of fun have been what this holiday season has been all about.

 




 

Top all of that off with both Thanksgiving and Christmas concerts at my daughter’s school, Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker show, Cirque du Soleil, a Polar Express parade and a cozy, relaxing Christmas Day at home with my little family.

So, we didn’t get the Christmas cards done this year (or last year). We made the absolute best of it and while I pack it all away in the next few days, I know that I’m just packing away the stuff. This year, I am so looking forward to keeping the festive spirit alive. More visitors, more trips, more play dates, more celebrations and more decorations in my home for every holiday we celebrate. That’s my goal for 2017, along with of course, keeping up with this blog.

 

 

We are kicking it all off with a trip to Vegas tomorrow. I think I used to question why people brought their kids to Vegas, but now I understand. There actually are a lot of things to do with a family there and my hubby and I can switch off with hitting the tables after the kids are asleep.

I am happy to say though, that the one thing from Christmas that lasts in my home year-round is the smell. Pine, spruce, fir, it really doesn’t matter. These scents are appropriate year round as they are the perfect blend of homey and clean. Stock up now, because these scents are on sale everywhere I’ve been and I have picked up candles at almost every store.

Below are just a ton of pictures from our holiday that made the cut and here is to an amazing 2017 to everyone who sees this.

 


 

Vivien’s Birth

So it all began on April 14th 2012 at 6:30 AM. I started to have contractions that felt ‘different’ than the others I have had in previous days and weeks. These contractions, you could say, actually hurt and they were coming about 20 to 25 minutes apart. My husband had class at 8 AM and asked me if I wanted him to stay home. I had contractions all day Easter Sunday, so I felt like it may be another false labor. I told him to keep checking his phone, but to go to class.

He left around 7:45 and I decided to straighten my hair just in case it was the ‘big day’. After I did that, I wanted to put the last minute things in my hospital bag like my toothbrush, shower gels and deodorant etc. By the time that was done and I was dressed, it was about 10 AM and I decided to go for a walk around the apartment complex. I walked around listening to music and my hypnobabies tracks. About a half hour of that and then I decided to try to ‘sleep it off’. I laid down in the bed in my daughter’s room. While looking at all of her things I did fall asleep, but only for a short time. I was awakened by a contraction, went back to sleep and the same thing happened. I then decided to take a warm shower to see if that would help. It really helped, and thought for a while they were going away.

After my shower, I laid down again, but this time in my room, and the contractions became apparent to me again. My husband calls me to see if I want any food while he is on his way home. I didn’t want to eat or smell anything so I told him to eat his food in the car if he got some. Now contractions were coming about 8 to 10 minutes apart and Jeff got home pretty soon after I spoke with him. I decided we needed to go walk somewhere and I thought the mall would be the best distraction. Jeff wanted to go to the park as to avoid spending money, but he eventually went with my request and we put my hospital bag in the car just in case.

We walked into Sears and went straight to the jewelry section. I looked at diamond cross pendants and amethyst cocktail rings to distract myself from the contractions. I tried on many pieces and then decided to walk through the rest of the mall. We didn’t make it far; once I wasn’t distracted from the contractions I realized my contractions were close together and very intense. It was time to go to the hospital.

At this point, you would think it was obvious what was going on when I would stop in the middle of a sentence and close my eyes for about a minute. Well, it wasn’t obvious enough to DH, when this would happen, he would ask me in a cute baby voice, “Contracties?” As we were entering the hospital and he said this, I ‘yelled’ at him the one and only time for the entire birth. I told him if he said it like that one more time I would lose my mind. We checked in at the front desk and went to the third floor, labor and delivery. I was familiar with this hospital’s labor and delivery floor having been there twice per week for the past month getting non-stress tests for the baby. As we walked towards the nurse I calmly told her I thought I was in labor. She sent us to a room to wait for the other nurse who I had met before. She asked bunch of questions and the monitor showed that I was having contractions about every five minutes. She checked my cervix and sure enough, I was 5cm dilated. I was transferred soon after to a labor and delivery room. On my birth plan I was not to be given and IV and did not plan on an epidural. I had done my hypnobabies at home class and felt prepared for labor. I also did not want my cervix checked again unless I asked.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

On Sharing Clothes & Keeping Things Gender Neutral

Above are the two of them in a Nirvana shirt we purchased at Target.

So this is a post that I have been dreaming about since I got pregnant with Vivien.  Before she was even born I made sure to purchase her certain items that could be shared by a future sister or brother.  There is something so adorable about your little ones sharing clothes and seeing them enjoy the same things. Because of the happiness this sharing brings me, I wanted to share about it here in the hopes of maybe inspiring some kid wardrobe choices for other moms and dads.

 

I want to talk about my 3 favorite clothing items my kids have shared so far and why they were so important.

I think you should always want to make sure your most expensive purchases are versatile between boys and girls. At least, I think that’s the best strategy if you plan on having more than one kid. So the first item I want to point out are these boots by UGG pictured above. We all know as parents, that shoes are a huge blessing to be able to re-use.

The reason why is that shoes – especially good shoes, can be pretty expensive!  Foot growth spurts are also a lot less predictable.  Your kid may wear a pair of shoes for only 3 weeks and then their feet could grow a couple sizes overnight!  So this is why buying good shoes that can be used by a boy or girl is super important because if this happens, you know they will get re-used.

The second item is this ‘Believe’ shirt. The company is Peek Kids and this is their signature.  They are known for high quality tees for babies and kids with cute phrases on them. I believe they have a store out here in LA, although I have only purchased their stuff through Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack or their site. I have many of their things but this top is my favorite. It works so well for a boy and girl. This brand stands out to me too because the cut of their clothes and sizing ends up working for kids way beyond the tag. For example, a shirt from them with a 12-18 month tag can usually work for 9 months to 2 years. I honestly don’t know how they do it.

 

One last purchase is this Baby Boden jacket. Jackets, similarly to shoes are pricey and are worn daily during the season. This was definitely a good buy and totally versatile for both kids.  It is a very well made warm coat so if you live somewhere colder, this is definitely something you may want to check out.  This particular one is not available anymore.  That is of course because I have had these for years.  But I do have other things from the company and can vouch for their quality.

 

So that’s it for now.  My 3 favorite gender neutral clothing purchases that my kids shared.  I have also done similar things with baby gear (stroller, carseat etc.) and toys which I may post about later.  For now, my message is clear.  Don’t buy everything pink or blue, especially not your big ticket items.   Here is one more just for the heck of it that we got from Zulily.  Our two in their “Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal” shirt.  I love Home Alone.

 

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That – Essential Oil Bug Spray

My name is Allyse and I am an arachnophobic. I’m not proud of it and I have considered hypnosis, but for now, there is this bug spray combo I made and it seemingly works for crickets too.

Phobias are pretty common. The fear of heights, closed in spaces, snakes. But I feel like my fear is so unavoidable. Spiders are everywhere — and now that it is getting warm, I have to put my defenses up.

One of the things I loved about living in a condo on the third floor was the lack of bugs. So, needless to say, I was a little nervous about moving into a house.  When we moved, I had the gardener use his leaf blower in all the nooks, crannies and webby areas. I killed a couple big ones out in the yard and after that, I went to town with this Ortho indoor/outdoor spray. I liked this because it was safe to spray inside as well even though I have only used it on the exterior of the house. I sprayed in all those areas that you know spiders love, then I sprayed all near the doors and the windows where they might sneak in.

I followed it up with a homemade essential oil bug repellant spray.  I’d say I put in about a quarter of each bottle of essential oils. I used equal parts lavender, peppermint, and rosemary.  I filled up the rest of the bottle with water and sprinkled in a little bit of salt so everything would mix. I shook it up, and sprayed all over the same areas.
Not only has it seemed to work over this past week, but it also makes your front yard and backyard smell heavenly. The Ortho brand bug spray has little to no scent, so all you smell are the essential oils.
Depending on your phobia level you could spray around the house once a week, once every month, or if you’re crazy like me you’ll probably be spraying a couple of times a week.
So that’s it folks, a little bit of a normal bug spray, then a little bit of essential oils might just be the best thing for you to keep the bugs away from your house. It really helped with the crickets at night.
If you try it, let me know.

One Of “Those” Days

‘Those’ days are not only necessary, but they are the absolute best. These are the days when you just can’t seem to get it together. These days you don’t bother to send back your Netflix, you don’t pick up the groceries and you don’t make that call to your insurance company.

Those days are full of messy hair and mix-matched jammies.

Those days are booked with “check-ups” from your favorite doctor and the sound of plastic princess heels.

Those are the days when you only focus on being a mom and give in to your child’s every desire because you don’t want to spoil the moment.

We can’t have days like this all the time. But when we can, we should embrace it and never feel guilty. My daughter loves to go out, but she enjoys ‘those’ days just as much as I do.

You know the very best thing about those days?

Every hug smells like maple syrup.

Baby Love

 

So, there is a little bit of controversy and varying opinions on the etiquette of having a shower for your second child. Luckily, when you have a group of wonderful friends, all rules are out the window and they plan an event around you and your new baby anyway. It is a beautiful things because, we all know, the second pregnancy is nothing like the first. The novelty is gone. You’ve been there, done that, and you know there will be many moments of discomfort.

In addition, now you have someone else who is super dependent on you, so you can’t run out for pickles and take naps whenever you want to.

That is why when friends get together just to make a fuss of you and your new nugget, it helps you realize what’s happening. Right now, I am making the best gift I could ever give to my daughter. Giving her a companion through growing up in our crazy family. Someone she loves already and never forgets to kiss goodnight. Some of her teachers at preschool say she talks about him nearly everyday.

When I think about that and how much I love my siblings, the discomfort I am feeling in this 8th month seems to subside. I get that pregnancy glory for a moment and I really feel like I am doing something noble, something good. Then, the feeling is usually disrupted by Braxton Hick contraction and I am back to square one. But even if the feeling doesn’t last forever, thank you ladies for taking the time to remind me anyway!

 

My Paleo Stir-Fry

So, today I have a recipe for you all, and as promised it is a paleo recipe.  It is not simply paleo though; it is autoimmune paleo, which makes it even better.

While this recipe is specifically tailored for those like me who are trying to heal themselves of an autoimmune disease, it can be enjoyed by anyone as long as you don’t hate cauliflower.

While it makes my house smell bad sometimes, cauliflower has been a Godsend for me since I started this new diet.  I don’t love it mashed, but I use it as ‘rice’ at least every other day.  It has been my side dish for dinners, a snack and used in my homemade sushi rolls.

Today I want to share a paleo stir-fry recipe that I whipped together yesterday.  This would be great for anyone who wants an easy*, low carb, super filling dish.

Below is everything you need for the recipe.  Cauliflower, frozen peas, baby carrots, a naked rotisserie chicken, a healthy cooking fat and fish sauce (salt and pepper are optional).  I use this brand of fish sauce.

 

Steam, bake or boil your baby carrots.  Just do what you think is easiest; I steamed mine.

Grind up your cauliflower in the food processor and it should look like the picture below.  Begin to sauté in your fat of choice for a few minutes.  I used avocado oil.

By now, your carrots should cooked.  Cut them up and add them in with frozen peas and toss.

Break off some pieces of chicken and throw those in with a few drops of fish sauce.  Your finished product should look like the photo below.  Bon appétit!

You have options with this recipe.  What I do is I grind all my cauliflower at once so I get it over with and sauté it just for a couple of minutes so it is partially cooked.  Then I put in the fridge and use it throughout the week.  I always have some steamed veggies in the fridge as well so when I made this recipe, I was already half done.

If you enjoy this dish, you can always do the same type of thing.  Imagine just scooping partially cooked cauliflower ‘rice’ into the pan, chopping and adding some carrots and peas, throwing in the chicken and sauce and being done.  With things already prepared this recipe takes less than 10 minutes to put together.

*Now, if I had read on the blogs 2 months ago that this recipe was easy, I would have rolled my eyes.  The reason is because you have to use a food processor.  I have always loved to cook, but I was never into gadgets.  Turns out, they really do open the door to a lot of options with your food, and they save tons of time especially if they are dishwasher safe.  So, this recipe is easy IF you have a food processor.  If you don’t, you have to use a hand cheese grater.  While it is not difficult, it is just frustrating when you are hungry and want to eat.  I’ve been there.

UPDATE: Now you can just get riced cauliflower at the store!

The Last of My Twenties

 

As I woke up on my birthday morning, I looked on my nightstand to see two cards. One that had my name on it, the name I was given at birth. The other had the name on it that I was given on April 14th 2012. Yes, one card said “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” on the front of it. One “Mommy” is never quite enough for my little one. Of course, my husband wrote on these cards and I couldn’t thank him enough for having them out for me on this day. I turn 29. Yeah, it’s no 30, but it is my last year of my 20’s and I will be mourning the loss of my twenty-something self all year.

I am not afraid to turn 30 at all, and there are plenty of things that I wouldn’t mind leaving behind in my 20’s and moving on. But there is still the fear of aging that I think we all have to an extent; the fear of the unknown future.

At this point, I am halfway through my second pregnancy and I am expecting a little boy in November. We are planning a move in about a year and while we are unsure of where we will go, I know it will be exciting. The future, while mysterious, is looking quite bright and I am starting this blog now to document my family’s journey through it all.

I have so many interests and passions, so I won’t even attempt go over what this blog will be about. Just consider it will probably be a mosh posh of family outings, experiences, fashion (mommy & baby), recipes (mostly paleo), photos and other random things I feel compelled to share.

Right now this is just family and friends, so I want to tell you all that I love you and thanks for your support.