Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What a Vacation!

I just finished the first vacation I've had in about 15 years!

Let me clarify that statement. I've had the first time of relaxation to spend with my family and friends when it wasn't for a sad occasion. The last few times my family and friends got together was to bury a loved one, visit a loved one who was dying, or to let a loved one see the rest of the family for the last time.

This vacation was an actual vacation - courtesy my generous family. I'm thankful every day, but this Thanksgiving, I felt truly and extra special blessed.

The weather was awesome - not too hot for me because it's what they call "winter" (ha!). My doctor let me take an alternative to my methotrexate just long enough so that I could enjoy the time there and not spend it sick in bed. I'll pay for that, I'm sure, but it was worth it just to have at least a little it of time with the loved ones.

Now... Let me tell ya! No. Let me show you:

First, I had to take a couple of gifts to my oldest brother and his wife. They are first-time grandparents and you know I had to do this...

I spent most of the time in Arizona where my two oldest brothers and one of my nieces lives. Then there was to 2 nights and 3 days I spent in Vegas with one of the brothers and sister-in-law. I hit every black beauty supply store we passed and I made sure to eat at Famous Dave's so that I could have some of that yummy bread pudding they are famous for. Mostly, I just spent time with my family and friends. We laughed a lot, talked and caught up on chit-chat, and... yes, there was drinking involved!

We had an amazing Thanksgiving. We started celebrating the day before because that happens to be the birthday of one of the sis-in-law father. There was preparation for his special day. It involved wine.

Thanksgiving Day was awesome! There were about 30 to 35 of us together in my second oldest brother's house. We fit and we had a lot to be thankful for.

Appetizers and mingling while waiting for the main event

Me with the 2 oldest Conway men <3 td="">

With one of the niece's. My sister would be proud!

These 2... Crazy-fun.

The men getting impatient for the main meal
Annual Turkey Bowl game

Everyone got banged up but had lots of fun

One highlight of the season was going to see the Christmas light display at the Mormon Temple in Mesa. My poor photography skills don't do the show any justice.

The lights were amazing, but my favorite thing to see was the nativity displays in the Visitors' Center. There were displays representing states and nations from all over. Alaska was represented. Yay!

And, of course, Israel.

Most beautiful was the large Christ in the entrance to the Visitors' Center. Just glorious.

The Mormon Temple is large and every part of the grounds was lit up with displays. I loved the reflecting pool but didn't get decent photos.

I spent a couple of really fun day with my second oldest brother. Had so much fun, I didn't get photos of anything but my food. Isn't that the story of my life?

Just look at those rib tips!
 One day, he and I were in a mood for some good music and a couple of drinks. We hit up a place that served catfish so good that I almost hurt myself eating it.

That catfish... You just don't understand!
The fam in Arizona is trying to do a monthly get-together. I missed the family fishing day event. That sounded hilarious since none of the Alaska fam was there to show the Arizona clan how to actually fish! I was there this time for the day at Top Golf. We all suck at golfing but we had a ton of fun trying.

Yeah. He only looks like he knows what he's doing!

Wow. We really do such at this.

When it got time to go to Vegas with the oldest brother and sister-in-law, I was worried I was going to be too worn out. I was tired but really excited. The plan was to see Lionel Richie. That was the plan.

Just as we were in line to board the plane, my brother got the alert from TicketMaster: Concert canceled. Turns out the band members were affected by the fires in California.

We decided to make the best of the Vegas trip and, boy did we.

It was on the plane that I learned how liberal a town Vegas is...

I was thinking, "No WAY!!!"

Yes, way. As soon as we hit the Strip, I could smell that people were taking advantage of the liberalism.

Also learned that the NFR was in town at the same time we'd be. That meant out hotel was going to be full of cowboys. Even the lion was decked out for the festivities.

LOVE it!

First, let me laugh at these two for being bundled up like it was winter in Alaska! It was, at the lowest, maybe 55 degrees! I just shook my head and enjoyed the balmy weather...

 I was such a tourist! I loved all the different themed hotels. New York, New York was so cute. The whole strip was great but would have been more fun without the street hustlers ganging up on you every 5 feet... Thankfully, my brother is 6'3" and can be grim looking, I just walked in his wake.

The M&M store

Sammy Davis Jr's suit was like for a little boy

somewhere in New York, New York

 My one sister-in-law loves the trick pics

 I could not get over how expensive the food was. If my brother had not been paying for everything, I would have starved. The buffets I remembered being around $9.99 were in the $50 range. I kid you not. For the first time in my life, I ate a $25 hamburger. Almost couldn't enjoy it. Ugh.

But let's get to the reason we wanted to be in Vegas. Lionel Richie had canceled and my family has been to Vegas so much that they are jaded with it. They let me choose a show to see. There's a story behind this...

So, my sis-in-law are walking back from spending a little girls-only time in a bar downstairs. As we are walking back to the room to meet my brother, I pass this:

It's the Jabbawockeez storefront in the hotel. I LOVE the Jabbawockeez but have only seen them in videos. I'm a little bit drunk (it only took one drink!) and as I pass the storefront, I see that there are four mannequins instead of the usual two. I pause to think about this and one of the mannequins moves. What??? I move closer and concentrate. He waves. I'm so excited! I'm seeing a couple of the actual Jabbawockeez! I catch up to tell my SIL and she's laughing at me. Another lady passes by and asks if she might be drunk or did she see the mannequin wave to me. It's great. And, guess what? I didn't get a photo...

That decided me about what show to see. Jabbawockeez!

It's Jreamz

There was no filming/photography allowed so my fam didn't get the photo of one of the Wockeez interacting with me right before the show started. I loved that but am SO glad I didn't get pulled in front of the audience like a few people did.

Another thing I loved best about Vegas was watching the dancing waters at the Bellagio. I couldn't get enough. I can't decide which is more moving - the music or the waters. Every time, we walked by, my camera battery was running low. I did get a short clip.


So, I didn't miss Lionel Richie that much. I prefer the Jabbawockeez. Loved my couple of days in Vegas but it wore me out.

My family is so funny and sweet. My second oldest brother sent me home with a whole pound of See's candy and a winter coat.

He heard it was 30-some degrees here in Iowa! LOL

 He was worried about me coming back to an Iowa winter!

Sometimes, I want to feel sorry for myself. Times like this remind me of how much I have to be thankful for. I have people who love me and I'm so blessed to be a part of this big, crazy, loving, family of mine. We might be a little nuts, but we know how to put the FUN in dysfunctional.