Friday, September 21, 2012

Keep it classy, Las Vegas

My office is in a not-so-nice portion of Las Vegas. It's not dangerous, I think, but it's just... not nice. There are mostly businesses, and many many run down apartment complexes. I'm not sure why, but it happens to be very popular with medical offices, so, it was a good choice for the relocation. But, not so great for the times I forget to my lunch on the kitchen counter.

Picture a 20 year old girl and her fifty something mother at one table, and an on-duty police officer at another. Me, also nearby, pretending to read my kindle but really eavesdropping.

Girl: I have a friend in the police academy right now. There's a lot of stuff you have to learn, huh?
Cop: Yes, it's a very rigorous training program.

Girl: Like, about weapons. Right?
Cop: Some about weapons, but mostly about law. 
Girl: Yeah, that must be hard. But at least you get a nice car. I seen some nice new police cars around. 
Cop: [nod]
Girl: Yeah. They're mostly Fords, right? But I seen some nicer, like fancier ones? They look like those from the Transformers movie.
Cop: Oh, yes. The Chargers? Those are for the high speed chases.
Girl: Yeah. Those are cool. I wish I could get a car like that. Do they give them to you for free, just for being a cop?
Cop: Well, they belong to the Police Department, so they're not ours.

Girl: Oh, so you have to buy them, then?
Cop: No, we just use them while we're working. They belong to the police department.

Mom, interrupts: I know a guy who got away with shooting a cop. You want his name?

I was impressed by the Police Officer's patience. I couldn't take much more, so I headed back to my car, discreetly eyeing the parking lot for the Police Officer's nice car. It looked an awful lot like a regular police car to me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our last night of freedom

As I've previously mentioned, my parents live in China. My Dad is currently under contract with a french hotel chain and is managing a resort. It all sounds very glamorous and exciting, and I can't believe I haven't been able to visit since a beach is involved, but round trip tickets for our little family aren't in the cards.

Instead, my Mom visits for ... lengthy ... periods of time.

She flies in tonight, and is sticking around for about a month with a visit to my brother in Chicago somewhere in the middle. Of course, I'm thrilled to see her. I have a great relationship with both my parents, and my Mom and I get along great. It'll be great to have someone around who, unlike B, isn't a homebody. I've got a few activities lined up that I've been saving for my Mom's arrival.

As much as I love having my Mom around, what I do not love, is having her around in our 2 bedroom apartment. Especially now that Mia is very much out of the infant stage, and actually uses her entire nursery, rather than just the small area that was her crib and changing table. She likes to take books off her bookshelf, takes shoes out of her closet, looks at the picture frames on her nightstand.

We haven't entirely figured out what Mia's sleeping arrangements will be during my Mom's stay. She has repeatedly said that she has no problem sharing Mia's room. While I don't doubt her sincerity, I don't know how Mia's going to react to having someone in her own room. She's generally sensitive to nighttime noises, and often wakes up if I sneak in there around 10 or 11 to cover her back in her blanket. Lately, if Mia wakes up in the middle of the night, it's been impossible to put her back in her crib without her screaming bloody murder. Both because we are lazy and because we have new neighbors, we just plop her in the middle of our bed and spend the rest of the night getting kicked in the back or smacked in the face.

But last night, as I put Mia in her bed, I told her this was her last night of sleeping by herself for a while, so make it count! Of course, she woke up at 10:30, right as we were settling in. I took her out, fed her the rest of her bottle, and put her back in her crib, without protest. Then, just as we had drifted to sleep, she woke up again around midnight, and pulled her classic "my crib mattress is full of thorns" routine, being perfectly sleepy in B's arms, but writhing and screaming in pain as soon as she was set down on her awful, terrible, "we should spent $50 more and get this nicer one" crib mattress. So, our last night of freedom (meaning, doing anything that makes any kind of sound whatsoever, I'm talking about watching a little Jon Stewart or Tosh.0, get your mind out of the gutter) was actually spent dodging Mia's violent sleep re-positioning. (She actually laid her head on my throat for about 10 minutes, before choosing instead to sleep at the foot of the bed -- yes, like a dog would).

I'm mostly excited. But also, I'm pretty sure that for the next 30 days, my child will refuse her pack and play. I suggested we pack our walk in closet up a bit early, and set the crib up in there, but B wasn't having it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Accepting Vegas

Next month, we'll have been Nevadans for a full two years. It seems like much much longer and much much shorter at the same time. On the long side, I can't imagine that Mia's only been in our family for 16 months. On the short side, it seems like we are still freshly arrived in this city, this city whose streets we only know a fraction of compared to Chicago's streets, shops, restaurants, and attractions. 

We had a very quick weekend trip to L.A. this weekend. It was awesome to visit somewhere we could walk to nice restaurants, grocery stores, and see the beautiful ocean. LA is awesome, and I really wish I had lived there at some point. On our drive home, B said that pretty soon, we wouldn't need our GPS to get us back to Las Vegas anymore, because we'd probably make this drive hundreds of times. I found myself agreeing, rather than secretly hoping we'd move there. No, we won't move to L.A., because... we don't want to. As much as I loved visiting, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief when we passed the first casinos in Primm Valley. 

But, two years seems to be enough time to settle in. To stop thinking of ourselves as transient, to stop thinking about other cities, and stop thinking that relocating (again) would be no big deal, since our roots are still so shallow. Because now, they aren't. We have a daycare that we are happy with, with a one year old teacher that our daughter loves. We [each] have favorite restaurants (mine: DW Bistro, B's: Amore), favorite local shops, favorite parks. And our favorites aren't what they were in Chicago. Our activities are... suburban and family-oriented. 

We may not fit in here, and we may never fit in here. We may be a very blue household in a predominantly red state. We may never accept that our closest and nicest movie theater is in a casino. We may never understand how to play craps. But, slowly but surely, we are adapting.

Activities are fewer for those of us who try to avoid the strip, but they're there. It's just a matter of taking advantage of what there is to offer. Just this morning, as I reviewed our East Coast friend's facebook pictures of apple picking, I found an orchard that exists in Las Vegas, an anomaly in the desert that exists thanks to some kind of spring that actually makes the soil productive in one small part of town. We'll do that just as soon as the weather dips below 90 degrees.

I predict that in two more years, my aversion to owning real estate will settle down, and we might even be in the market for one of these large and affordable homes. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Embarassing thing #749264

In my everlasting attempts at trimming down my baby pooch, I've been searching for a way to work out without defending myself from constant dog and toddler assaults. My previous inclination was to join a gym, but many a thing happened immediately after I decided to do it, with the #1 strike against a gym membership was having to put Mia in daycare. I didn't want to commit to the two year membership, and I didn't want to have to spend MORE time away from my child than work was already making me.

I don't have many friends that have children. I do, however, have quite a few far away facebook friends who do have children though, and although it might be considered borderline cyber stalking, I try to keep watch on their profiles for Mommy-related tips. I noticed one of my facebook Mom-friends was frequently posting about Stroller Strides, which intrigued me, so I did a web-search. No stroller strides in Las Vegas, but please give us your email address if you'd like us to e-mail you if someone opens a franchise.

Well, several weeks ago, I got an email that Stroller Strides was starting a Las Vegas location, and click here if you'd like to view a schedule of classes. As almost everything else in this city, Stroller Strides Las Vegas seemed to be geared toward the Stay at Home Mom whose husbands make enough money for them to afford the pretty high monthly membership fee. But, after exchanging a few emails with the very nice and enthusiastic owner, she decided that people had expressed enough interest in a Saturday morning class, and if I was only going to be attending one class per week, there was an option for a 10 class pass for a not ungodly amount per class. Excellent. I signed up and this past Saturday was my first class.

As soon as Mia and I showed up, we did our introductions and I promptly gave my "I haven't worked out in 15 months" disclaimer, and everyone assured me that I'd be just fine. I lined up next to the other Moms in their BOB strollers with my thankfully appropriate enough City Mini (I have a serious case of stroller inferiority complex, despite LOVING my City Mini and recommending it to everyone who doesn't want to spend more than $250 on a stroller) and got to my jogging in place.

The Stroller Strides exercises are pretty basic, where we did a circuit through a local park. We do brisk stroller walking on the paths and stop every 500 feet or so to do some strength training. The music was perfectly synched where it played pop music during the walking, and kids music during the strength exercises. During the stops, the Moms interact with the babies in their strollers. For example, we did something they call "Peekaboo Squats", where you basically play peekaboo with your baby as you squat in front of them. There was some other things, like doing "If you're happy and you know it" while doing a chair squat against the wall. It was good, and it was mostly just really fun to be with other Moms acting ridiculous in front of their children, and having the babies love it.

Until the 45 minute mark of the 60 minute class, when I realized that the half a nectarine and the one bottle of water was insufficient for an outdoor Las Vegas workout. During the follow-the-leader drill, I had to pull over and actually sit on the ground. It was so sudden. I was totally fine one minute, and the next my head was spinning, and I grabbed Mia's pack of Teddy Grahams from her hand and shoved a fistful in my mouth, grabbed one of the instructors water bottles (she had very kindly offered and sprinkled some on the back of my neck) and chugged it down. Five minutes later, everything except my ego was fine, and I was able to join in for the last 10 minutes of abs and stretching.

Everyone was very nice and assured me that I was neither the first nor the last that this would happen to, saying that if you've never worked out outside in Las Vegas, this is bound to happen to you, and next time, make sure you at least have a bowl of cereal with that nectarine! Being highly skilled in the self-deprecating humor department, was able to recover relatively well. I also [loudly] informed the instructor that I would be out of town next Saturday, so not to think that I was wimping out. I'd be back the week after that to punch the first class on my 10 class pass.