Introducing Alexis Marie

January 29, 2016


This little peanut was born January 28, 2016 at 12:08AM. She was 6 lbs 1 oz and 19 inches. Amy had a tough time throughout her pregnancy, but especially at the end. Preeclampsia settled in earlier this time around, after a few trips to the hospital and weeks of feeling sick, an induction was finally scheduled. The full moon must have sent a lot of moms into labor because the hospital cancelled due to no availability. About 12 hours later, Amy was set up at another hospital to be induced. Labor was challenging for Amy, but she pulled through like a champ and her and Alexis are as healthy as can be.

Later that morning, I brought Nick and Addy to meet their little sister. They were pretty enamored. As was I. Amy and Alexis will be discharged today. That's when the real fun will begin.



I look forward to watching Alexis grow, just as I have with Nicolas and Addison. It is such a joy to be an aunt. Oh, I wish my mom were here to meet her, but I know her and Rose are among the happiest grandmas in heaven.

Nobu - Hard Rock

January 20, 2016
As the end of 2015 neared, Frank and I dined at Nobu. We dined inside Caesars once before and we greatly enjoyed our experience. When I spotted a deal offered by Travelzoo it urged us to check out the other location over at Hard Rock. The promotion offered a $150 7 course dinner for two. We made reservations beforehand, but it didn't appear it was necessary. The dining room was rather sparse midweek.

We sipped on wine and sake, and snacked on edamame while we awaited the kitchen's selections. I'm quite fond of this style of dining. It takes all the guess work out of it, and I like not knowing what to anticipate until it's presented. We began with sushi: tuna, yellowtail and salmon. Tuna isn't typically my first choice, but Nobu dishes out really great quality that can rarely be matched.



Yellowtail sashimi is hands down my favorite and this did not disappoint!



Because my love of Nobu's tuna runs deep, I didn't mind it a bit in the salad that followed. I wasn't as pleased by the fancy lettuce - I can't be the only one that finds frisee and the like, a bit too tickly. Can I?



I knew from my last visit that the Black Cod was like butter so I was eager to dig in, but in this version the black truffles left me completely intoxicated. Way to up the ante, Nobu; Well played.



Then, dinner began to unravel. The Waygu Beef was so chewy even the greatest of flavors couldn't save it. Though, the sizzling presentation was nice.



The soup that served as the last course was rather unfortunate, as well. The broth was bland and the mushrooms were tough.



There wasn't great improvement with the dessert course. The lava cake lacked decadence that you might expect. The green tea ice cream, however, was quite delicious and refreshing. My only complaint was the one small scoop wasn't enough to be shared.



Our experience at Caesars far out shined this one is every aspect. Nobu is anything but cheap, so if you'll be forking over the cash - it's best to chose the Caesar's location for superior ambiance, service and eats.

Blowing the Dust Off!

January 18, 2016
How has 2016 been treating you? Well, I hope. The days keep getting away from me, despite my best intentions, this is the first time I've made it here. Frank has been getting a handle on his diet, he's getting by without insulin - Thank goodness! We have less than a month until our newest niece arrives. Amy has been miserable the past two weeks, with any luck time will go quickly for her sake. As for me, I had a check up with the ortho last week and I'm right on target with healing. I have about one more month of physical therapy - stairs are my nemesis. I'm still getting jerked around by insurance, but what else is new?

I've been suffering from wanderlust, BIG TIME! Frank and I were toying with dates and locations, we finally got a trip nailed down last week. We're going to spend a week in Nicaragua. We'll fly into Managua, then drive to Leon, San Juan del Sur and Granada. We were intrigued by Costa Rica, but it seems pretty well traveled these days - and we really enjoyed exploring Ecuador so we wanted an adventure, Nicaragua fit the bill. In coming years, I suspect tourism will grow by leaps and bounds.

This trip won't be as cheap as we did Ecuador, we're splurging for accommodations with amenities like air conditioning, hot water and parking. Still, the cost is very reasonable with average nightly rates well under $100/night (even less in green (low) season). Though, we did book three nights in a private villa with jungle and Pacific Ocean views, which appears stunning. That'll be the bulk of the expense this trip, but by the looks of it, it will be money well spent. Judging by the photos it reminds me of the places I lust over on House Hunter's International. I can't wait to experience it.



[photo: casasdebalcones]


So long, 2015!

January 4, 2016
2015 is finally behind us. I feel like I need a T-Shirt that says "I survived" or at least a button. It was a pretty shitty year, and the hits kept coming until the very end. These past two years have been the pits, they have been my most challenging to date. Frank and I have each lost a parent. I've battled chronic pain and depression. I've spent much of this year healing.

Just when I thought we were in the clear, Frank was hospitalized for two days after experiencing severe stomach pain. When I brought him to the emergency room, they found a marker for a blood clot. His heart rate was elevated and his blood sugar was 300. They fast tracked testing for fear of a pulmonary embolism. Thankfully, the CT Scan found no clot, but rather revealed pancreatitis. He was given antibiotics and then admitted. He received fluids, insulin and was monitored for nearly 48 hours. He was feeling much better, though weak. They upgraded his diet from clear fluids and he was able to tolerate solid food so he was discharged about 5 o'clock on New Years Eve. He is a now a diabetic. His habits must change. His meds need tweaking, he's rekindling his love of salad and soups. His diet is a bit tricky, for now, he needs low fat (pancreas), low sugar/carb (diabetes) and plenty of fluids.

2015 can definitely suck it, but among the lows, there are a great number of highs. Frank and I have weathered many storms, but we stand by each other through thick and thin. We love each other for better or worse and in sickness and health. We bought a house, that's beginning to feel like home. My travels were rather limited and Frank took many solo trips, but we did manage visits together to Mexico, San Francisco, Denver, and Austin. Plus, we made a couple quick getaways to Los Angeles and San Diego. Let's not forget our incredible staycations at Cosmo and Caesar's Titus Villa.

I never would have dreamed this time last year, that we'd share a roof with my sister & her family. Or that I'd have a second niece on the way. I never would have guessed I'd spend Easter and Christmas with my dad, nor have him visit for a total of five weeks. We even had visits from Frank's mom and brother this year. Now more than ever I understand that family is dear.

Above all, this year has taught me to persevere -- I think Frank learned not to piss off his pancreas. Perhaps, you can't fully appreciate happiness without sadness or pleasure without pain. You simply must stall tall, no matter what life throws at you.

That said, please let 2016 be kinder!

And now for the annual year in review:

LOCAL EATS



Best Bite - Bone Marrow, Searsucker



Biggest Surprise - Korean BBQ & Rolls

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Reliable - Mariscos Playa Escondida



Favorite - Sage



Greatest find - Inyo



Eager to Return - Cleo



Greatest Splurge - Guy Savoy

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RIP - David Clawson

TRAVELS



Life changing - Russian River Brewing Company; Santa Rosa, CA



Best eats - Austin. From BBQ to food trucks; it's outstanding.



Most disappointing - Denver eats



Most relaxing - Al Cielo; Xpu-ha, Mexico

Biggest regret - Not taking my mom to California this summer like I planned.

Hope to do more - For the second year, Off-roading. I've not been since May 2014. Sad, very sad.



ENTERTAINMENT

Best Song - This was a dreadful year for music, was it not? Let's go with Someone New, Hosier.

Best Album - Jekyll & Hyde - Zac Brown Band. I'm reaching here.

Best TV Show - Tie: Better Call Saul & Fargo

Best Concert - SOJA at Red Rocks

Best Movie - The Big Short

Santa Came!

December 29, 2015
For the first time ever Santa paid a visit to my house, and for the first time in 13 years we were all together for Christmas. Magic was in the air, and there was a tinge of sadness in our hearts that mom wasn't there. We carried on traditions, and Parmesan salad & snow tunnel cake were musts when it came to planning the menu. Dinner was a success. Blaine made it home just in time, and it was a special treat to have dad join us. Mike stayed the night with Daisy & Tuco. Needless to say we had a very full house on Christmas eve. Santa snuck in, while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.



Just before 7 o'clock there was a knock at the door, Nick informed us that Santa had indeed arrived. We all gathered around the tree. Soon after, piles of torn paper surrounded us. Nick was thrilled to receive a Xbox Kinect, Nerf guns and even a BB gun. Addison wasn't quite sure what to make about all the fuss, but she is enjoying her shopping cart, big wheel, new books and a stroller, which she often uses to tote around guns rather than her baby dolls. The rest of us received all sorts of goodies, but the best gift of all was our presence. This year has taught us all how meaningful that is.



Christmas day my dad soaked up the rays, while Frank and I soaked in the hot tub. Dad has never traveled away from home for Christmas, he took a liking to how we do it in the desert. Later, we celebrated with Frank's family at his cousin's house. We enjoyed a great meal, and laughter ensued when we gathered around the table for a Cards Against Humanity session.

Days before Christmas, I took the family to Ethel M's to share my tradition of admiring the festive lights that cover the cactus garden. We followed that up with dinner at In-N-out and dessert at Sweet Addiction.



I hope Santa brought you all the wonderful gifts of the season.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

December 24, 2015

A Quickie in LA

December 22, 2015
As I mentioned my dad is visiting. Prior to his arrival, Amy and I discussed a trip to the Grand Canyon. It seemed like a good idea since we haven't been, but the logistics were not practical. Amy is uncomfortably pregnant and I'm just getting back on my feet, it's chilly and quite aways from home. We scratched that idea, and came up with Plan B, which was to introduce dad to the gloriousness that is Langer's Pastrami. I found a cheap van rental via ACE Rent A Car, customer service was lacking, but the 12 passenger van fit the seven of us well. We had plenty of personal space; which is welcomed on road trips. I secured a good rate last minute via Hotwire at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Hawthorne and booked two rooms.

We left Vegas about 8 o'clock Saturday morning. Our first stop was lunch at Langer's. Dad enjoyed the pastrami and the latkes, which came as no surprise. It was fantastic as always. LA was warm and clear, it was a lovely afternoon. I wanted to soak up the warm rays, it's been so chilly at home I couldn't get enough. We got settled at the hotel, and then we set off for the beach. Unfortunately, our plans were derailed when a storm blew in. We watched the rain fall at Manhattan Beach with hopes it would soon pass, but no such luck.

We ended up relaxing at the hotel, and later Frank and Nick were able to swim. Hunger didn't strike until late so we grabbed some eats at Ricos Tacos El Tio. It's a quaint space around the corner in Inglewood. The neighborhood has the reputation of being "ghetto" but Frank and I found no issue with it. We drove, but it was easily walkable from the hotel. We brought back tacos, burritos, quesadilla and a torta. The latter two were the best of the bunch. The torta is where it's at! The quesadilla wasn't only your typical grilled flour tortilla dripping with grease from meat & cheese. This was fully loaded with lettuce, pico and avocado. Muy bueno!

Sunday morning, we cruised through Inglewood seeing the Forum and Randy's Doughnuts; before arriving in Marina Del Ray, since we've never been. There wasn't much to woo us, so we drove around a bit finally coming upon a sledding track made from fake snow and hay bales located across from the beach. We hopped out for a photo because the concept cracked us up. Nick and I ended up going for a ride. I was nervous about my ankle, but they say it's healed... I'd never get the opportunity to sled at the beach again so I had to go for it. I totally admit poking fun at it, but it was a helluva good time. It was warm, I wasn't bundled, it was slick and speedy. They're on to something here in LA!





Afterwards, we stopped at the park nearby. The kids chased the birds, and we took turns on the swings. We were going to walk over to the beach but Mike preferred we go to Venice Beach. We took the short drive, parked and walked over to the water. The sand was pretty compact which I appreciated, I'm not quite ready for the loose sand yet. Clouds rolled in, it was a bit too chilly to stay too long. Plus, we were hungry, Mike had his sights set on Joan's on Third. So, we continued on to Hollywood for a bit. I thought a late lunch would be less hectic, but no such luck. The place was a zoo. Frank drove around while we placed an order to go. We chowed on sandwiches on the road back home. It was a whirlwind trip, but we enjoyed ourselves. It's always nice to make new memories.

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