Even in Vegas, I wake up at 5am. Sigh. Good thing I have a blog to keep me busy.

Funny story:   One night in July, Steve seemed kind of giddy, totally out of character for him.  He had been hinting around all day that A Big Surprise was coming.  Yeah, yeah, whatever.

So, after the kids were in bed and I had my nightly tea, he sat me down and handed me a stack of envelopes.  Each one had a short phrase that revealed just how massive this surprise was going to be:

A girls’ weekend.

Mommy respite.

In Las Vegas.


With my beloved niece, Linz.

Ohmygosh.  I was blown away, my breath taken as I opened each envelope.  Aside from a very small handful of work-related trips and the big one for the Corporate Service Corps last year, I haven’t ever done a “girls’ weekend.”  The notion of a Mommy Break was something I probably desired but never seriously entertained.

And, to put this in its proper perspective, Linz is British and we’ve not really spent any time together since she came, 7 years ago, to be with me when Alex was born.  She’s a police officer, a detective, who works with children who have been sexually abused.  Needless to say, she is fierce, courageous and unafraid of anything.  I adore and admire her.  Our relationship has been a central one in both our lives ever since I watched her toddling around, getting into everything and refusing to sit in her stroller when I was 10 years old.  It wasn’t until I opened the envelope that said Linz was coming with me that I burst into tears.  He had bought her a ticket so that we could both have the Mommy Break – Linz’s son was born 1 month after my Sophie.

Just for the record, my idea of respite is most decidedly not Vegas.  If I was planning my own rest weekend, it would be in at a meditation or yoga retreat in the mountains, where everyone takes a vow of silence immediately upon arrival.  When I asked Steve why in the world he was sending me to Vegas, of all places, he said that every time he goes to Vegas for work (usually at least once or twice a year), I get a sad face and talk about the Bellagio fountains, people watching, Cirque du Soleil and seeing the cool hotels like Paris and the Venetian.

So he booked us for shows each night, at probably the only hotel on the Strip with no casino.

Ironically, when I was invited to go to Belfast, this one weekend – already bought and paid for – was when I had to travel.  I declined, because having these precious few hours with my niece are truly that important to me.  But IBM asked if I would be willing to fly directly from Vegas without going home first;  my inclination was to say no because it would mean 4 more days away from my family.  As always, Steve insisted that I do it, that this project is perfect for me and I had to go and I also had to go for my trip with Linz.  I am sacrificing the initial team dinner Sunday night and arriving Monday morning in Belfast.  I do hope my team will understand.  It’s taken me 7 years, 1 month and 28 days to take a mommy weekend.

And so, that is how you get to Belfast from Memphis via Las Vegas.  It’s a million miles for this Mommy.  It’s also how Steve has gotten himself entered in the Husband of the Year contest.  I’ve got a couple of fun days catching up on 7 years of life with Linz, some big time reading by the pool and Cirque du Soleil…. I’ll catch you later.  #smartercities Challenge