You rock for sticking up for Elias like that. One of my best memories of my mom was when she let the junior-year bully in the marching band have it for picking on a much-smaller freshman year me. (She was stupid enough to badmouth me to my own mother!) I'll never forget my brother telling me, "Mom called her the word that rhymes with witch!". She never swore at all and I never loved her more! So kudos to you...betcha he always remembers you doing that for him.
I'm so sorry to hear about Jessie! A care package is a great idea...well, you know how they say that laughter is the best medicine? How about a subscription to Netflix? Unlimited funny movies! And that way if she falls asleep through one and has to rewind and keep it for longer, there's no late fees. Just an idea ;)
UGH! Why does pen seem to bring out a toddler's inner Picasso so much better than, say, washable crayons? Here, I'll make you laugh...a few months ago, we had our entire house repainted -in flat, almond paint- to get it ready for resale. Furniture and stuff was piled into the center of the room and my two year old, Sephie, got hold of the ONE Sharpie marker in the house by scaling the pile. All I did was go to the bathroom...I came back, and she was standing INSIDE the cat's water fountain, and said "Bubboo!", or "W", her favorite letter. She'd drawn them on the mantel, the wall next to it, the sliding glass door, the doorknob to the pantry, a platter, three teaspoons, and given herself a mustache.
So for Halloween, I dressed her as Zorro. Hey, there's nothing quite as scary as a toddler with an uncapped permanent marker ;)
Go on vacation. There's never, ever enough money- there's always something you could be fixing, replacing, or saving. So make sure your bills are paid up with a little extra, and go somewhere to remind you and Jason that you're a couple and not just parents. And seriously, let me know if there's any way I can help. I can't make you nachos, but if you're going to be in Vegas, I can send you GC's for In-N-Out!
Vegas, baby! Can I give you some tips? I'm in northern San Diego and only 4.5 hrs away so we go all the time. About an hour outside of Vegas, in Baker, is the Mad Greek, the coolest Greek diner in the middle o nowhere you'll ever see. Try the strawberry milkshakes and pistachio baklava. Baker is also the gateway to Death Valley National Park, which is much cooler than it sounds. In Vegas, eat at IN-N-OUT burger. Just a fast-food chain but they're not out east, and they are THE BEST. Ask for an "animal-style" burger- mustard and grilled onions. Best buffet in Vegas IMHO is at the LUXOR. And if you go to the shops at Caesar's Forum, check out Vosges Haut Chocolate and try their dark chocolate-blood orange- Campari caramel. (Yes, am a foodie.)
Grand Canyon's North Rim is only a day trip away...but check the weather, they do get snow up there! But it is beyond awesomeness and you will never regret it!
Have the best time ever!