Vegas was fantastic. We started off on Saturday at the Hoover Dam, which is amazing. We stayed at the Flamingo, and I wasn't too overwhelmed by the sheer immenseness of the place, but for the fact that we had to walk a quarter to a half a mile to get from the door to our room. Yikes! There was a LOT of walking, which wasn't terrible, but I should have brought sneakers.
Also, bling bling bling! No, not Vegas bling - this was cowgirl bling. Some of it went far beyond the bounds of taste (moose paddle chandelier coated in rhinestones for $20,000?), and some was just fun flash (sparkly belts, jackets, etc.). I learned the term "buckle bunny," which I think is like the cowboy version of a groupie. There was a comedian from MT there, and he made the following funny:
In Vegas, you see a girl dressed, you know, a certain way, and you think, 'Is she a hooker?' Maybe. 'Is she a stripper?' It's possible. But the most likely scenario is she's just a regular girl from North Dakota who's never dressed like that before in her life.The rodeo itself was spectacular - it moved very quickly, with only fifteen guys in each event, and was a great show. We saw Lee Underwood sing "God Bless the USA" to a crowd 18,000 strong, all waving mini flags, and though I am not an overt patriot, I confess I got a bit misty. The next night was Cowboy Troy, the rapping black country singer (I know, I thought those terms were mutually exclusive too). I left with a new appreciation of the difficulty of what those cowboys do, and a new appreciation of how deranged you have to be to get on the back of a bucking bronc (saddled or not) or a bull. The calf ropers were unbelievably fast - they would rope the calf and be halfway down the rope before the calf had hit the ground. Then, they'd wave their hands over the legs a few times, stand up, and the calf would be tied up! It was magic. Apparently, announcers regularly tell girls that calf ropers might be cute, but no father in his right mind would let a daughter date one. Their hands are JUST. TOO. FAST.
I would date one.
Anyway, it was fun to spend so much time with the Yost family, who are enviably close to one another. I also ran into one of big Blake's cousins completely unexpectedly. At least he's a cowboy - I think he was flabbergasted to see ME of all people in LAS VEGAS. Again, terms previously thought mutually exclusive!
We were at the bar where they handed out the daily buckles for best times/scores, and I was being hit on by a doorknob who I'd just danced with. He was, uh, rhythm challenged, and kind of clueless...and just then Carey walks up! I think the excitement with which I greeted him took him by surprise, but he agreed to dance the next song. Once on the floor, he asked if he was sabotaging me or rescuing me, and assured him it was the latter.
Turns out that Helenmarie (Blake's grandmother) taught Carey to dance...and she did one hell of a job! I love Blake dearly, but he could barely two-step, and that's when I was leading, so dancing was something I quietly let slide, even though I LOVE IT (to be clear: country or ballroom dancing is what I love, not awkward white girl dancing). Well, Carey worked that dance floor like it was going out of style, and but for my slippery boots and tendency to lead, it was fantastic! Carey, if you are reading this, that was one of the high points of my weekend. Seriously.
I came back to find that, while my boss had covered for me exceedingly well with online support, answering a Spaniard and a German in their native tongues, he had forgotten to keep up with voicemail. I spent one whole day just listening to them, many multiple calls from the same person, wondering why we were ignoring them. Oops! Everything is handled again, and I'm looking ahead to a week without Blake. My cousin (guest blogger below) is taking him back to Billings with her for his week with Grammie and Papaw. While I know he'll be fine, I miss him already - what was I thinking? Two extended periods away from him in a row? Last year, this would have been no big deal because I needed a break and he was TWO. Well, I've had a break or two, and he's so much more engaging and delightful these days...I don't want to miss any of it.
Today, we went to see Santa (I'm telling him that Santa is not real, but that some kids believe in him, and Christmas is really about the birth of Christ...he totally gets it. Or not. Who cares?), and Blake told him he wanted a train. We got a picture taken (it's bad), and then Blake got to pick out his ornament for this year. We have an ark for his first, a motorcycle for his second, and this year is Spiderman. It was a great day for the little guy.
I've taken my nativity set and hidden most of it for Christmas. Instead, Joseph and Mary are taking an extended journey around the house. The game every morning is opening his advent calendar and finding where Mary & Joseph are on their way to Bethlehem. On Christmas morning, I'll put everything else out and read the story of Jesus. Three days later, enter the wise men.
We've had fun with Aubyn. She babysat last night while I played reindeer games with friends. Apparently, she constructed a tent in his room, then taped ears to two of my headbands. They were bears, but as soon as they'd get into the 'den,' Blake would tell her "Take you hat off!" I had a good time with my friends, but I left kind of blue. Everyone is paired up, and I'm still quite alone. The bitter side of me wants to smoke a cigarette and declare "Merry freakin' Christmas!" The side clinging to grace still wants to cry into my pillow. Please pray for me. I don't want Blake's death to ruin this entire season, thought I know it will color it for the rest of my life. I don't want to be alone anymore either, and a momentary flirtation in Vegas made me see just how very starved for romantic attention I am. Pray protection for my heart.
In the inevitable dullness of a home without my exuberant boy, I'm sure I'll be better at posting. Or not. I might be out every night after 8:00, JUST BECAUSE I CAN. We'll see, but I'm looking forward to it!