Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Bed bugs. Sounds like a dirty word doesn't it?

I've only heard of bed bugs and stories about people who've been bitten by bed bugs in "dirty" hotels or filthy apartments but have not met a person who had been a victim...nor have I experienced it first hand.

Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don't feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent (anesthetics) into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. In fact, most people will never know if they've been bitten because they show no visible signs of bites or an allergic reaction to its saliva.

Symptoms are usually linear bites that do not have a puncture in the center (as with mosquito or flea bites), followed by intense itching at the site, and possibly welts and hives. Again, individual responses to bites very differently between people.

How do I know? I've been bitten. Surprisingly, it happened in an international chain hotel considered to be "high end". In fact, the hotel was rated in the top five of upper upscale chains in the 2009 Business Hotel Survey conducted by Business Travel News scoring more than 4 out 5 points.

Prior to this stay, I've slept in other hotel beds during trips to Oahu, Cabo, Naples, Lake Havasu, and even local resorts right here in Vegas and have NEVER been bitten. So I felt pretty safe in a "higher end" hotel, especially since I've stayed in a couple that had me a little skeptical. I had nothing to worry about this time, right? Oh but I was wrong when I woke up Wednesday morning, stepped out of the shower and saw myself in the mirror. Then I couldn't stop scratching these welts on the side of my knee and the sensation barely lessened after applying anti-itch cream.

Luckily this was the last day of my stay; I was on my way home. That night I observed neat little rows of bites like these on my arms and welts on the side of my legs. When the symptoms got worse the next morning after hives appeared all over my body like these on my calves and thighs, I had to seek medical attention. Mainly for the uncomfortable itching that made me want to scratch my skin off all despite anti-itch creams and Benadryl. I also wanted to know what the heck I got bitten by.

Let me tell you, it's not fun to be on drugs and creams. The only thing that worked for the severity of my reaction was some pills to decrease my immune system's response to allergens, thereby reducing the symptoms such as itching and hives. Then I spent the next day rubbing cream on my body, from head to toes and in every crevice. It was an insecticide.

Not to mention the personal things I had to throw away because I didn't feel comfortable having them in our home. A totally inconvenient event, I tell you -- but I came out fine ... and a little paranoid. The heeby jeebies take a while to go away and I won't be reading Confessions of a Hotel Maid or anything like that (I witnessed some shortcuts with my very own eyes and that was enough for me). Really, I'd rather not know because staying in hotels in the future is almost unavoidable.

To make light of things, my husband and I wish each other "a good night ... and don't let the bed bugs bite!"

(Since the Bed Bug Hotel I've stayed overnight at the Mirage and Crowne Plaza in Ventura ... and soon the Marriott in Bakersfield but I've not had another run in with bed bugs--and I hope things stay that way, LOL!!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Alliance Conference 2009

This week I'm at the HEUG Alliance Conference in Anaheim, CA. It's an annual event for all higher education, government, and public sector users of Oracle applications to gather and share our experiences, learn from each other through seminars, and network.We stayed near the heart of Disneyland and there's plenty of places to eat nearby. Even though I was away from home and family the week of my birthday, my coworkers took me to dinner, family, and friends (near and far) called and sent lots of texts, e-mails, cards, e-cards, and posted birthday wishes on MySpace and Facebook which made me feel o-so-special. I had a great birthday and a big smile on my face all day!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Girls' Night Out and Murrieta Bike Race

Our last evening together, we went to dinner at the Lumberyard, located in downtown Laguna Beach, CA (this restaurant is housed in a building that was once a lumber company's home). Go hungry because this place serves portions fit for a lumberman!

Then we were off to watch the annual melodrama, The Broken Badge, at the Camino Real Playhouse. Very, very cute and entertaining. We had a great time!

I was sad our weekend was coming to a close but grateful to have shared my time with my wonderful family who are also my friends.

So...where was John all this time? At a bike race in Murrieta, CA and staying at his cousins' home. While I was pampered at a spa and watched a play, John raced his bike...
...and cheered on his cousins in a beer bong contest, LOL. But we had some things in common and that was good food and great company! Happy birthday, R.J.!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day at the Spa

After a breakfast we couldn't wait to escape to the Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa for a day of relaxation and pampering!

We soaked our bodies in the natural hot springs, lounged on floats in the shallow Lounge Pool sipping cocktails, muddied up in the therapeutic red clay mud bath (that was quite an experience), and ate lunch at Cafe Sole (aunt Jan went to Le Cordon Bleu with the Chef). Glen Ivy was literally an 11-acre playground getaway where we could have stayed all day!

When it was time to leave, they almost had to boot us out, LOL. We went on to Tom's Farm which is a really neat indoor farmer's market with outdoor attractions. You can ride the carousel, drive a tractor, go on a train ride, hunt for real fossils and gems, or enjoy a magic show or the live entertainment on the weekends. I was more interested in the Sweet Shop and Wine & Cheese store.

By the time we got back to home base, we were starving. I was so lucky to be surrounded by the world's best cooks who served up grilled Tiger Shrimp and spicy green beans for dinner. Two of my favorite dishes and sharing it with four of my favorite gals was icing on the cake! I was truly pampered.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weekend Getaway

Maggie and I were on the road just before dawn on Thursday morning. Away from sleepless Vegas towards the coast of California. Despite receiving sad news of uncle Frank's passing the night before, we moved forward with our plans for a getaway weekend with the girls.

Great cousin, Caroline, surprised us by flying in from Ohio. Just the day before, she emailed a photo of her standing in knee-deep snow bundled up in a parka and holding a sign that read, "Today". Then she emailed a second photo; this time standing in the freezing snow with her swimsuit on and holding a sign that read, "Tomorrow" LOL!!

And here we all are, in the glorious warmth of the Golden State. My mom-in-law and I arrived at Grandma and aunt Jan's home a quarter hour before noon and just in time for a cocktail.

Our union called for a toast and that wasn't the only reason we had to celebrate today. An uncle would soon have a 60th birthday and although this was a "girls only weekend", we thought he was special enough to be in our company ;).

Soon we were on the outside patio of Cedar Creek Inn in Laguna Niguel having lunch with the birthday boy. Rounds of martinis, deep fried artichoke hearts with dill sauce, seafood salad ... yum, yum!! It was a lovely afternoon.

Then we took a stroll along the ocean and to the grounds where Caroline's family once lived but now a massive, fancy hotel sprawls across the property (the name I can't recall).

And if today wasn't perfect as it was, I was spoiled at dinner by Grandma's homemade spinach raviolli and meat sauce. OMG ... I could have sworn the day was all a dream. As I rest my weary head on the soft pillow tonight, I wished upon a star that when I wake up in the morning all would be true...Grandma, Jan, Maggie, Caroline, and me--just the girls having a great time.


Okay. Who has who trained in this game?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Farewell Uncle Frank

Uncle Frank passed away peacefully this morning with his wife, Leanna, by his side. Though his life was cut short by the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, he enjoyed the time he had to the fullest.

Frank was a son, brother, uncle, husband, father, actor, and friend and we will miss his smile, humor, and wit.

John and I want to thank you--family, friends, and those we've never met (you know who you are!) for your support and donations year after year to the Alzheimer's Memory Walk which raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research. Even uncle Frank made a contribution by donating his body for Alzheimer's research.

Frank will forever be in our memories and we are grateful for the time he shared with us. Nothing can ever take that away...not even Alzheimer's. Even though he may be gone, we'll keep moving on to end Alzheimer's.

Previous posts about uncle Frank and Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk®
(A memorial service will be held on March 27, 2009.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

M is for ...

M is for the new resort and spa in town. We went to dinner at the Red Cafe with our friends, Ryan and Kristen.
M is for "model"...which Raena, their new baby girl, could very well be for Malibu Strings!
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In good company

The girls love hanging out with me wherever I am...or maybe they're subtly hinting that I should unpack the stuff for my new office and hook up the color printer I got with my camera about a month ago?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eeping Elgy

I can always tell when there is a bird around when I see the look on Elgy's face. She freezes, eyes wide open with a fixed stare. Then she begins to chirp. Only then can I hear, far off in the distance, a bird perched on the tip of a roof singing. Elgy will sit there for as long as her feathered visitor will entertain her. you think Elgy could win a bird calling contest?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Callville Bay Classic Bike Race - Crit (Day 2)

Day 2 was the final day of the race. The riders will compete in the last stay, the crit (short for criterium which is basically a short circuit race). In the Callville Bay Classic, the crit was a loop around the marina parking lot with quick right then left turns, uphill then downhill, and a straight finish after curving around the bend).

This time we were up before sunrise...oh it so was painful not sleeping in during my weekend but we needed to get on location with enough time for John to check-in and warm up before the start time for his category at 8:20am.

Cones and bails of hay were in place to establish boundaries of the circuit and protect the riders from running into poles with concrete bases (that would not be fun).

I had no idea there was more technicality than a bunch of guys on bicycles riding around in a circle. The track is narrow with sharp turns, the cyclists ride closely together which requires bike handling skills (cornering, climbing, drafting, sprinting) and tactics (blocking, overtaking, drafting, and safety). One wrong move can cause a crash and burn chain reaction. With only a helmet and possibly gloves to protect their body, road rash can be painful and take a long time to recover from (because the cuts aren't clean and the skin can't be stitched back together).

The Jr. Men and Women took off at the same time though they will be placing in their own category. All I can say is these kids are competitive, strong, and fast little buggers! They would easily outdo me on my scooter...even if I were to be towed by a car! It's refreshing to see young adults actively involved in cycling and passionate about a healthy sport. The difference between me and these guys when I was their age was I had a yellow cruiser with a basket and they're riding $10K+ bikes and wearing cool kits!

Finally it was time for the Men's Cat 5 warm-up lap. John flashed me a sign. I hoped he will be safe and know he will do his best.

After the riders are situated at the line and the ref reviews the rules, they take off the moment the start gun goes off with a bang! One of the things I like about the crit is I have the chance to take tons of photos and videos as they ride laps along the course. With that said, I don't want to bore you too many photos so I posted the photos on and videos on my Flickr web album. (They are not all of John either, lol. There are pics of the Juniors and Pros too.)

All I have left to say is I had a blast watching the races, not only John's group but all the other categories too.

John had a photo finish for fourth place. He was a foot or a second behind placing third overrall. I definitely think 4th place out of 50 guys is awesome for his first race after leaving the sport. Congrats babe!!

Photos from Flickr album: Callville Bay Classic Bicycle Race (March 1, 2009)