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Christmas in Las Vegas Baby!

My husband’s family consists of 4 brothers, their wives and 10 kids.  His Mom passed away in May of 2000 and his Dad passed away in September of 2004.  Christmas always meant alot to our families, but after both his parents passed away, we wanted to make sure that we were always close.  People are amazed when they hear that we have monthly get togethers with Richard’s family…it is important.  Always remember that family is what is most important and they won’t always be around.  Richard may have been 34 by the time both his parents were gone, but I know that there are many times when he wishes he could call up his mom to tell her something great…or ask his Dad how to build something…or give his Mom one more pair of earrings for her birthday cause he couldn’t think of one single thing she needed.  And she loved it…every year…Beth didn’t care what she got because it meant the world to her coming from one of her boys!  They both loved hosting, they loved travel and they loved Christmas…so we thought we would do them proud and head out of town for Christmas…all 18 of us together!

Since 2004, we have been alternating between his family and in-laws.  It seems to be working great so far.  Right after Christmas of 2008, we started making plans to go somewhere warm for Christmas of 2009.  I like to be on the computer…in case you hadn’t noticed…so I took over finding us somewhere to stay!    Being the adventerous sort I am, I set out to find ONE house that would fit us all.  Who wants to spend Christmas Day all bunched up in a couple of hotel rooms…boring!

Why Las Vegas?  Why not Florida or Hawaii?  Well, two of my brother-in-laws run a business together and it is hard for them to get away for a long time together, so Vegas seemed perfect.  Close to fly to, stay and play for a few days and then come home.  I used vrbo.com to look for a house and because Richard and I had been there a few times already, we somewhat knew what areas we liked.  You guys are probably thinking it was hard to find a house that fit 18 people….but it wasn’t.  There are a ton of rental homes on vrbo.com that allow for up to 25 people.  And alot of those people own two houses side by side so you could rent enough space for 50 people!  It is amazing!!  I emailed a ton of houses, found availability for the dates we wanted and waited.  After receiving a ton of emails back, I sorted through them, found the perfect house and booked it.  The great thing was we had all this square footage, our own pool and hottub and we would all be together.  The cost was approximately $450 per family for the house plus any groceries which we split 4 ways.  And using Allegiant airlines we paid a fraction of the costs for the flight. 

Ok, so what did we do when we got there??  Well we kind of all did our own special things, one family went to see the Blue Man Group (very loud…but good) others went outlet shopping (they were very happy).  Let me stop there….let me tell you about my sister-in-law.  We gave her a hard time….she mapped out the malls.  I am not joking…she literally had maps, a pen and a highlighter to map her route and what stores she had to hit.  You know who you are…and we love you!!  Anyway, Christmas Eve we wanted to do something special as a family so we rented a huge limo and had them take us around and down to Freemont Street.  The kids loved it!!  Of course they had a live band, big Christmas tree and the popular light show.  It was wonderful!

Christmas Day we spent at the house eating big meals and….swimming!!  That’s right…swimming in our own private outdoor pool! 

I think I can speak for all of us when I say we all had a super time!  It was nice to get away from the snow and just enjoy each others company!  Hoping to get away Christmas of 2011 with my side of the family!  Keep you posted on that one!

Crazy or Adventurous??

Back in the day when C was 4 and the girls were 12 and 13, we got a crazy idea to go to Vegas.  Richard and I had been before and we were excited to show the kids.  But we just didn’t want to fly in.  We had 2 weeks for holidays that spring and we decided to drive.  For 21 hours.  I had so much fun using google to map out our route, trying to find fun and interesting things to see on the way.  One of the places we stopped was St. George, Utah.  It was beautiful!  We actually liked it so much that we stayed an extra night there just so we could look around.  One of the main attractions close to St. Goerge is Zion National Park.  We spent almost an entire day there, driving through and stopping for short hikes and picture breaks.  I highly recommend to anyone to do road trips like these with your kids.  We made sure to take 3 days to do the drive and stoppped plenty of times to find playgrounds and park areas.  At the time we went, C was still trached and on nighttime oxygen, so we had the back of the truck packed full!  Along with an emergency tracheostomy kit, an oxygen concentrator, a night time humidty machine and all the tubing that goes with these machines, we had a bit of a stop at the border.  Then suitcases for us, C, and two teenage girls!!  The border patrol guard wasn’t sure if he should unload everything and search or not!!  Thank goodness he didn’t! 

Onto Vegas, the kids loved it!  All the lights and action….even C who was only 4 at the time, loved everything.  I imagine the Hoover Dam was probably the most boring part of the trip for all of them…Richard loved it.  So to reward the kids for putting up with one “boring” afternoon, we took them to Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Gardens.  The tour of the factory and the gardens is free and on weekdays you can be pleasantly surprised to get free samples!  And they were really really good.   They also have a store where you can purchase chocolates as well.  The kids definitely loved this one! 

Many people think that taking kids to Las Vegas is crazy, but there are so many things to do!  We never had a dull moment while we were there, there is always something to do in Vegas! 

I have found lots of links about road trip planning.  Do a little research, there are tons of resources!  Here are just a few I have found…

http://www.planning-fun-road-trips.com/

http://www.tripwiser.com/