Like every family we have our rituals. The summer is no exception. Just about every 4th of July we go to Sin City for fun and fireworks. That’s right. Las Vegas, Baby! We’ve been going since the kids were in preschool.
Now I know, Las Vegas might be the last place you’d think to take a child, but Vegas has changed a lot over the years. Yes, you can still find the sleaze, but over the last decade it has become incredibly kid friendly too.
In the mornings we used to visit The Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay, admire the White Tigers at The Mirage and ride the roller coaster at New York-New York. The afternoons we’d have lunch and hang by the pool. And with the extreme heat, there’s really no better place to be. At night, we’d enjoy the fabulous restaurants (Vegas has tons of them!) and then see a magic show or let the kids load up on “winnings” (stuffed animals) at the arcade at Circus Circus.
You almost forget you’re in Vegas.
Unless you count the time we were in the pool with what we presumed to be “European” sunbathers. It was a scorcher and the hotel’s five pools and chairs were packed, so we parked ourselves at the first set of chaise lounges we could find in the shade. Rubbed in the sunscreen, grabbed our inner-tubes and headed for the cool water. And then they saw them.
My kids giggled and asked me why the women didn’t have bathing suit tops on. My first thought, sophisticated woman that I am, was that they’re European of course. I explained to the children that in some parts of Europe, it’s perfectly natural for women to sunbathe topless. And we shouldn’t stare (reminded hubby of this too).
Ever curious, I decided to wade near them to hear what foreign tongue they were speaking. To my surprise, it was a flawless English. And that’s when I noticed another group of topless women. Some how, in our heat induced stupor, we staggered over to the “Tops Optional” pool. A little bonus you don’t find at most kid friendly hotels.
I never did tell the kids we were at the “wrong” pool. I kept up the charade, since they were more interested in doing handstands and summersaults, and shaded chaise lounges were hard to find. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Do you have a favorite summer vacation spot too? Had any embarrassing moments you needed to explain away like we did? Please share!
On this Father’s Day, just a week away from the 31st anniversary of his death, I’d like to honor my Dad by sharing some of the things he taught me. He always dispensed advice (truthfully, sometimes it seemed more like a lecture) and like a typical teenager I tried to tune him out, but I found when I wrote this list that thankfully more than just a few things sank in. I know he’d be delighted and surprised I was actually listening.
1. Your reputation is everything. Don’t do or say anything that can tarnish that. And I’ll add, always be good, and if you can’t be good, be discreet. In the age of Facebook where people tend to share too much this can be tricky.
2. Tip well. It could be you on the other end.
3. Make someone smile. Be polite, friendly and treat people well, regardless of who they are or their position in life. This includes knowing when to say: Please, Thank you, and I’m sorry.
4. Don’t wear ‘boy repellant’ outfits (baggy and unflattering) and dress like a lady. Which meant no red fingernail polish or lipstick. To this day I don’t like it on myself.
5. Beauty will fade, so develop your brain. Read. Get an education. We had special reading and snuggling time with our Dad where we’d take turns reading aloud. He also created vocabulary lists for us to hang on our bathroom mirrors and occasionally there would be pop-quizzes at dinner. I usually did well on those since I spent so much time in front of the mirror!
6. There are three kinds of people in the world: those that watch things happen, those that make things happen, and those that say “what happened?” Be a person that makes things happen.
7. Just like me, he couldn’t play an instrument to save his life, but our home was always filled with a variety of beautiful music.
8. My Dad was a very funny and clever man and he loved to laugh. I’d like to think I inherited his dry wit. He believed humor to be the ultimate icebreaker, way to connect and coping mechanism.
9. Believe in God.
10. Be a gracious host and make people feel welcome in your home.
11. Give back to your community.
12. Marry someone kind, smart and hard working, who treats their mother well.
13. Don’t flirt too much or be too available, let them come to you. He was a big fan of playing hard to get.
14. Watch what you say, as you can hurt and alienate people with your words. I wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with my Dad (well maybe just a little, but I did it anyway to show how tough I thought I was), so I always thought this one was particularly directed to me.
15. Be a good friend. Always be generous. Be affectionate. Take care of those around you.
16. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so don’t be wasteful. However, he didn’t mind spending on nice meals and a beautiful ambiance.
17. Put yourself out there. You won’t meet anyone or make friends as a shut-in.
18. Don’t lie, it’s too stressful to have to remember what you said. Don’t be a know-it-all. And don’t brag.
19. Family comes first. Love and honor your parents and siblings and always call your grandparents.
20. Last but not least, chocolate helps with the parent/child bonding experience. We spent many a late night watching TV or chatting devouring Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups or fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
I love you Dad, thanks for everything. xoxo
Do you have any Fatherly advice you’d like to share?
As the baby of three, I grew up watching my older brother and sister hop on the big yellow bus for day camp almost every summer morning, right outside our front gate. Mom would blow them a kiss and yell with a cheerful smile, “Watch out for the bees!”, while I waved excitedly and smushed my nose against the window.
Mistaking my enthusiasm for jealousy, my mom reassured me that I too would be going to camp when I was old enough. I smiled and shook my head. Not a chance.
Instinctively, I knew that big yellow bus held no promise of anything good for me. I heard stories of forced sing-a-longs (how many times can you sing “This Land is Your Land?”), swimming in an ice cold heavily chlorinated pool (with a swim cap no less, as if!), horseback riding, bees, dirt and dust. Yet, each morning my brother and sister ran out the front door, going back for more. The sweet fools.
Why would I trade the comforts of home, cozy time with mom, and the chance to eat my cheese sandwich (crustless triangles of course) without having to swat away bees? Why go to camp when I could happily follow my mom around all day (marketing and laundry were my favorites) or be daddy’s little “assistant” at work? I didn’t need to go to camp to have fun.
The lazy summer days and weekends were glorious. I played in the backyard with my siblings, cousins and neighborhood friends. Our favorite game was “Camp-Getaway.” My sister and I took turns with our BFF from next door pretending we were bossy camp counselors or bunk mates at a sleep-away camp. There would always be the one kid that cried and wanted to go home whom we had to cheer up.
We made an exciting schedule of activities. We built forts, competed in dance-a-thons, drenched each other in balloon fights, swam and sang “Boom Boom Ain’t It Great To Be Crazy”, at the top of our lungs. We’d pretend to sleep on chaise lounges in the back yard until about 9 PM then go inside and make Smores over the kitchen stove and eat Oreo slushies. Followed by an hour of a Mad Libs marathon. Eventually fatigue would set in and the sleeping bags would come out. There was no fighting for the best bunk. There was plenty of room on the living room floor.
My parents did make me try day camp, once. They promised that if I went for two weeks and still didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to go again. I agreed, as long as I didn’t have to get on the yellow bus. So my mom drove me somewhere high in the hills with lots of tress and bees. I had my sack lunch, bathing suit, cap and towel, and was ready to go. “Just try not to get burned,” she said. And there was always some kid I was warned to stay away from who was trouble. I barely lasted the week. What can I say, I’m a homebody.
The following summer, my parents knew better than to send me to camp. They sent me to summer school instead. After six weeks of Folk Dancing (what were they thinking?) and Science Exploration, I was dreaming about Mad Libs, dance-a-thons, balloon fights, Mom, and wishing I were home.
Fast-forward thirty years later. I have kids of my own, and like a lot of parents, I put a nice spin on my camp experience (did this with Sunday school too). But somehow, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. They hated camp too. For this family, home is where it’s at.
Were you a happy camper or a happy homebody like me? Did your kids turn out the same way?
I love wearing dresses. They are a little more forgiving than pants, especially if you’re curvy like me. And there is nothing like the Little Black Dress (LBD). It’s every woman’s secret weapon. Black is my favorite color to wear, because it’s sleek, sexy, and sophisticated (think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), and with the right fit can take five pounds off you like that (SNAP!). You can dress it up or down and it goes with EVERY other color so you can never make a mistake.
My 7 tips to rock a LBD:
1. Spanx, a good bra, and an even better attitude. Because, really, who cares?! Repeat after me, “I’m sexy and I know it!” (Confidence is S.E.X.Y.)
2. Find the right fit and a good tailor. Sometimes I buy a size larger, because much of the fashion is too short now and I’m too old to dress like a toddler.
3. Show a little skin. Don’t be buttoned up to here (pointing to chin) and don’t be unbuttoned to there (pointing to naval). Only J.Lo can get away with that. Don’t have tons of cleavage and a lot of leg showing. Pick one.
4. I prefer bias-cut, A-line, or wrap dresses. They seem to hide a multitude of sins, as my mother likes to say, and showcase my best assets. (It’s all smoke and mirrors, baby.) Go shopping with a trusted friend who has good taste and the good sense not to let you walk out of the dressing room looking like Snookie.
5. Wedges are fabulous and comfy. They are a high heel lovin’ gal’s best friend, however, nothing elongates the legs like a sleek stiletto.
6. Accessories are important. And yes, a good rack can be a fine accessory, but I’m referring to a great pair of dangling earrings or a chunky necklace. Again, I go with less is more and would pick one or the other. Usually, I prefer wearing one or two shiny delicate necklaces and hoop earrings.
7. Pick your best feature and focus some attention on that. Maybe it’s your hair, eyes or lips. When it comes to makeup, I like to highlight my eyes and soften my mouth. The idea is to look pretty, not scary.
Keep it classy. Keep it sexy. Now go rock it, Mom!
You might also like: