Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving was eventful this year, as it always is with both of our families.  We are lucky that the Hendersons are easy going and don’t mind celebrating the day after, to make it easier for everyone.

My assignment this year for my side was stuffing (or dressing, as my family calls it) and it is always my favorite thing to make.  Probably because it’s my favorite item to eat at Thanksgiving.  Yes – skip the turkey and mashed potatoes – I will take all the stuffing.  I made a traditional batch and then tried a new variety this year: cornbread with chicken sausage, apples, and mushrooms.  It was actually pretty good!

On Thanksgiving Day we ate at my aunt’s house for lunch.  It was quite the crowd:  my family, my aunt’s family, my uncle’s family, and the sister missionaries.  Sloan loved every second and her excitement was elevated even more due to the fact that there were 10 times as many people to socialize with. img_5209

Out of the entire spread our families provided – Sloan ate two things:  1.5 rolls and some pumpkin pie.
img_5188 Rolls are her new love language.  It used to be bananas…but carbs have won, as they always do.  img_5215

The next morning we took Sloan ice skating for her first time.  Zach purchased two tiny pink ice skates on Amazon and could barely contain his excitement.  He begged me every day until that day to take her, and our schedule finally worked out that we could.  She couldn’t wait to get out on the ice.  She did very well considering how difficult it is in general to ice skate.  She has amazing balance, like Zach, and did better than we both expected.  img_5278

She preferred for Zach to hold her, though, and zoom as fast as he could around the ice.  Speed is Sloan’s middle name.  Already praying she is a better driver than I was as a teenager…img_5295

After Sloan’s nap we made our way up the Hendo Cabin for our second Thanksgiving.  It was a fantastic meal with more trimmings than you could imagine.  We did our annual turkey marshmallow shoot and then had an indoor snowball fight – a personal favorite tradition of mine.  img_5235 img_5507

During dinner-clean up the grandkids played a pretty hilarious game and ended just in time to open Christmas pajamas.  After everything had settled somewhat we made the drive back home.

The rest of the weekend was easy.  We relaxed as a family, made sugar cookies, and went on a lunch date all together.

8 Years / NYC

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The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  With our family trip to Mexico, Halloween, Sloan’s birthday and all that was between, we didn’t realize our trip to NYC for our anniversary was so close approaching.  I usually pack days ahead of time, but this trip I was not that prepared.

We weren’t originally going to go to New York.  First, it was Cuba – but with flights being difficult and this whole Zika situation, we decided to switch it up.  Then it was Portland but the timing didn’t work out for that either.  When Zach suggested New York, I went for it.  The last time we had been was when I was 30 weeks pregnant, and New York in the fall is my favorite.

My mom watched Sloan for us the entire time, and we couldn’t be more grateful to her.


We left Wednesday morning and arrived around 5:30 pm.  We took a taxi into the city and checked into our hotel before taking an Uber to MSG for our first Knicks game.  We both have been to MSG before, but never to watch the Knicks.  It was so fun, we had great seats, and even better – they won!  It’s always more enjoyable to leave with a victory.


The next morning we both slept in, I got to check out the hotel gym, and we showered up for our first full day.


We hit up all our favorite shops in Soho.  Then we made our way over to Dudley’s to meet some old high school friends.  I’ve known Curt since elementary school and Matt has been a close friend all throughout high school.  They both work in Manhattan and took time out of their busy schedules to meet us for a late lunch.  They both are just the same as always – a blast to be with and not short of laughs.


After our lunch we went for round two.  We shopped for hours – literally – until our dinner reservation at Hillstone.  Our food was delicious and we decided to cap off the night with some ice cream.  Ice and Vice was amazing – our favorite being the “Milk Money” flavor – and we made our way back to our hotel completely stuffed to the brim.

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The next day we made our way over to Central Park.  I’ve never actually had the chance to experience it in full fledge fall mode.  A few years ago Zach and I came to the city to go to the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade.  By then, all the leaves in central park were dead and gone.  But this year, a tad earlier, the park still had a full array of beautiful colors.  It was even better than I could have hoped it to be.  I made Zach take dozens of pictures as we made our way through.

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We ate lunch at Shake Shack and shopped some more before our dinner reservation.


We ate a Momofuku’s Noodle Bar.  We were lucky to get a place in line before it opened and got a seat right away.  The ramen and pho were amazing – enough to make us promise to go back again when we visit next.


We had to rush off to Barclay’s afterwards for the Islander’s game.  Zach got us tickets on Stubhub minutes before the game started, printed them off at a nearby hotel, and we were in!


I love Barclay’s Center. It is probably one of the most beautiful designed stadiums, in my opinion.  The fans are diehard, I’ll tell you.  Because the team isn’t that great.  Zach’s only desire to go is the fact that they were playing the Penguins, who’s shining star is Sidney Crosby (and the fact that they just won the Stanley Cup, of course).  The game actually ended up being way more entertaining than we anticipated – with the Penguins winning in over time.


We stopped at a local market to get some treats and crashed once we were back at the hotel.

The next morning I made Zach visit the new Nike Store in Soho.  It is amazing – complete with it’s own half basketball court on the top level.  We got some gear and shopped around some more.

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We stopped and grabbed some pizza for lunch, shopped some more and then headed over to the holiday markets.  We started at Bryant Park – where we met up with a fellow Ogden native (and USU Interior Design Student, of course) Morgan.


We visited on the steps in front of the giant Christmas tree, got some hot chocolate, and then went over to the holiday shops at Union Square.


Then it was off to our dinner reservation at Lure, closer to our hotel.  It was the best fish dinner I’ve had in recent memory.  Even Zach’s lobster mac n’ cheese was OFF. THE. CHARTS.

We shopped around some more afterwards before stopping at Sprinkles for a couple of red velvet cupcakes.  We took an Uber back to our hotel and called it a night.

Sunday morning we packed our bags, left them with the bell man, and grabbed an early lunch at Black Seed Bagels.


Throughout our whole trip the weather had been incredible.  Mid to low 60’s, not a drop of rain or even cloudy skies.  Sunday morning was freezing at a whopping 39 degrees.  We stayed inside the warm bakery as long as we could before venturing back to our hotel to leave for the airport.

It was a great trip.  Short and sweet.  I know it sounds like all we did was went to sporting events, shopped, and ate…and that is exactly how we wanted it.  We missed Sloan like crazy – but having some solo time with Zach was worth the heartache.

Sloan’s Second Birthday

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I have a two year old.  I can’t even wrap my mind around it.  I’ve been telling people she’s been “one and a half” for months now, partially because I’m in denial.

I made a promise to Zach that I would keep this second birthday more simple than her first, and I never break a promise if I can help it.

Sloan loves all things candy, and she’s so sweet.  We decided to do a “Our Sweet Sloan” birthday theme.  We had family over and served pizza from Arella (Sloan’s favorite entree) and cake and ice cream.  I ordered the cake from Parson’s Bakery in Bountiful and decorated it with lollipops.  The day before Sloan and I blew up balloons for a balloon garland.  It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be and recommend it for anyone trying to decorate a larger space with a very small expense.  Maybe invest in a balloon pump from a dollar store, unless you want to become winded in less than five minutes.



Zach had been setting up her birthday gift a few days in advance, and I’m glad he did because it wasn’t a simple task.  My sis-in-law hooked me up with her major discount at Pottery Barn Kids and ordered me this kitchen set that still gives me butterflies when I see it.  The morning of her actual birthday we let her walk into her playroom with it all set up.  She loved it, played with it for hours on end, and didn’t want to leave that room all day.  Here she is, washing her strawberries…


Later that night everyone came over, we ate some pizza, and let Sloan open her gifts.  She got spoiled by all her family members (honestly, she was more excited that everyone that she loved was in one place, all together I think) and couldn’t have been more excited about all the play food and accessories she got for her kitchen.  She also received a beautiful pink motorcycle from my aunt and cousins that is motorized and plays two very nice songs.  It doesn’t have a volume adjustment.  That’s important to note.

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The felt pasta and wooden eggs are still a big hit, weeks after…img_4986 img_4988 img_4992

After gifts we sang to her, she blew out the candles, and we ate cake.  We visited for a while and then it was time to bathe her and get her into bed.  She lost her mind when I took her upstairs, away from all her loved ones.  She fussed all the way until I placed her in her crib.  Which is always a good sign of good times had, when she refuses to go to bed.

I’m so grateful for Zach and all our family members for making her birthday so special.  She deserves it.  She really is the sweetest thing.

Halloween 2016

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There was a lot of anticipation for all three of us leading up to the actual holiday. We spent a lot of time with family doing some fun activities.  I know family events are a ton of work for all those involved, but the more we attend the more I realize how essential they are.

We decorated our porch with some wooden boxes and fairytale pumpkins the week before Halloween.  Thanks Trader Joe’s.  I didn’t need any pumpkins, let alone nine of them.  Sloan convinced me to get this beautiful burnt orange pumpkin and the next thing I knew, I had a whole cart full.


The Sunday before Halloween we had the Henderson pumpkin carving night at the rink in Layton. Sloan painted her “pineapple pumpkin” and couldn’t get out of the high chair fast enough to play with her cousins. She did enjoy the chicken noodle soup and company way more than the actual activity.

img_4767Zach and his dad also got to try out the new Zipline Course at the rink – which was a total slam dunk for all the grandkids!img_4769 img_4768

Since Zach’s brother Sean has moved back to Utah, Sloan finally has a cousin her age to play with!  Sloan adores Cole (they are only two weeks apart) and says his name repeatedly at family functions.


Halloween morning I treated Sloan to some spooky crepes.  She assisted me in the mixing; in hopes to psyche her up to actually eat them.  She has never liked them in my attempts in the past.  Her and her father are the only two people I have ever met that dislike crepes.  It must be hereditary.  Come to find out that if you drizzle a little chocolate sauce over them, she’s ALL ABOUT THE CREPES.


Technically this was Sloan’s first REAL experience with trick-or-treating.  Last year she could barely walk and despised her popcorn more than anything else on this earth. Sloan dressed up as sushi, complete with wasabi and ginger hair clips and a soy sauce trick-or-treating pail.  Everyone’s schedule was quite hectic, so we decided to meet up with my family at my brother’s warehouse for lunch.  Sloan and I brought food and my mom and Brittany met us as well.  Sloan got to show off her costume to my family and loved visiting them.

After Zach got home from work we drove up to Ogden to trick-or-treat at Mimi and Papa’s house.  Mark and Jeanene always give the best treats – but Sloan was more interested in who was coming to their door and then afterwards playing in the play room.  We only stayed for a short time before driving back home to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood.  We hit up all the houses on our street and then came back home to greet some trick-our-treaters ourselves.  Sloan loved the whole routine, but liked giving out candy from our house even more.  She loved seeing who would surprise her at the door next.





After having way too many pieces of candy, we tucked her into bed and spent the rest of the night baking salted caramel bars and watching a few games.  I have a serious baking problem lately – and it’s a great activity to do after Sloan goes to bed and Zach is watching football.


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The weeks leading up to Halloween were not short of excitement.  Our families really know how to make the most out of a holiday, I’ll tell you that.

I made Japanese noodles with shrimp and they were BOMB.  So easy and even low calorie!  All three of us liked the meal, actually. shrimp-noodlesWednesday we had family photos scheduled.  They went about as well as the last ones in Mexico – but luckily this time there wasn’t sand involved.  My cousin’s cousin took them [does this mean she’s my second cousin?] and we were all thrilled with how well she captured some group photos of all of us.  Even to get back a few good ones was a success if you ask me!img_4716

Sloan already loves Halloween.  Her favorite book is SPOOKY HOUSE (a lift-the-flap book about a haunted house) and she begs me to read it every single day.  So I thought it would be fun to make some festive treats – frozen banana chocolate ghosts…

…and a caramel apple with the leftover white chocolate for myself.  It isn’t much to look at – but it tasted just as good as those Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory get-ups.caramel-apple

Zach left Friday to go hunting with the men in his family.  He stayed through the weekend so Sloan and I spent all weekend, just the two of us.  img_4692

Sloan came down with a horrible cold – the same one I had while we were in Mexico.  We laid low and hung out at home a lot.  We made some festive cookies for our neighbors and I still can’t help but laugh at how they turned out.  We melted white and black chocolate and froze them in teeth molds to top our sugar cookies.  Who knew there was edible gold paint?  Not me! img_4670


Sloan started feeling better a few days later.  Good enough to go about our normal routine of park hopping and leaf stomping.  img_4651

She asked to make another batch of cookies, so I obliged.  Again, giving them out to our neighbors and some friends.  img_4710

We decorated Halloween cookies with my side of the family at my aunt’s house a few Sundays beforehand. My sister-in-law brought unfrosted Fiiz sugar cookies for us to frost and they were a hit. Sloan thought they could use some sprinkles, however.img_4706


I made a friend at a local Smith’s who told me when Halo Top was re-stocked each week.  So my supply of my favorite flavor – sea salt caramel – is great right now.  It is by far the best of their new flavors, a must-try!

Sloan and I took a field trip of our own to a nearby pumpkin patch and I let her select her very own “special” pumpkin to decorate with stickers at home.  She actually did a great job all on her own! img_4724

Zach came home soon after and we were glad to have him back before all the other holiday festivities.  Our days just aren’t the same without him in them.


Hurricane Henderson 2016

We try to do a Henderson family trip every couple of years but it’s been a while since our last one.  That was Disney World in 2010.  The family has grown significantly since then and it’s becoming more and more of a production to find a date that works for everyone let alone all the logistics to actually get us there.

This year the destination was Mexico and there were 40 of us.  Quinn and Max, the two youngest babies, were the only family members that didn’t come along.

We left Saturday morning and flew into Puerto Vallarta.  The flight there went better than I could have hoped.  Sloan has never had her own seat before.  She doesn’t turn two for one more month, so technically she could have flown as a lap child, but we were SO grateful we didn’t go that route.  We lugged the car seat onto the plane and it was the most relaxing flight we have ever had with her in tow.


We arrived and all boarded our bus to the resort.  Yes – we needed to rent a legit bus to transport us all along with all of our luggage.  Luckily Sloan took a little afternoon nap on the bus ride and was refreshed once we rolled in.  The resort was located in Punta Mita – a new place that Zach and I had never been to in Mexico.  Upon arrival the staff had little good bags for each child – and in Sloan’s good bag was a package of mini marshmallows.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

We didn’t waste any time.  As soon as we checked into our room we were in our swim suits and on our way out to the lazy river.  There were several buildings that made up the resort and ours was called Oasis, because it was on an island surrounded by the lazy river.  We couldn’t have had a better room, location wise.  Just a few yards away from our door was a staircase down into the river.


It was perfect for Sloan.  Not too fast paced and almost completely shaded by palm trees.

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Most nights we had reservations for dinner, but our first night was a “free night”.  We had room service back at our place after our laps around the lazy river and it was actually really great.

Most of the time I don’t get wooed by customer service, but at this place they had me smitten.  We had requested a crib for Sloan and they went all out.  She had her name spelled out in sponges (great bath toys) in the bed along with a plush turtle, baby insect repellent, shampoo and conditioner, wipes, regular diapers, and swim diapers.  They even brought in a diaper Genie and left a basket for her with some chocolate milk and cookies with her name spelled out on them.  She gasped each time she saw something new they had left out for her.

After dinner we tucked Sloan into her bed and Zach and I stayed up late catching up on shows (and sporting events).

Every time we go on a vacation Zach and I always make the same agreement.  This one was no different.  We made a wager that I got to work out each morning at the hotel gym and Zach got to surf every day.  Since I don’t work out on Sundays, I took a day off from the gym and we spent the morning at the resort’s infinity pool.

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We swam until lunch time.  We found a shady spot with a great view and grubbed as we watched the ocean.  Sloan was in heaven.  We all were, really.  Besides – kids ate for free at the resort.  So Sloan had the culinary world at her fingertips – or at least all that the hotel had to offer.


After Sloan’s nap we ventured out again to the Lazy River.  Sloan was settling in nicely to this little routine we had started.img_4210

We had a dinner reservation at Bahia later that evening with a gorgeous view of the beach.  Another amazing thing about the resort was that you could order any beverage for a toddler – and even ask for a sippy cup!  They were completely set up for young kids, which was such a huge perk for Sloan.  img_4197

After dinner the three of us made our way down to the beach before returning back to our room.

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It got dark fast after the sun went down – so we made our way back to our room.

The next morning I hit up the hotel gym while Sloan got breakfast delivered to the room.  Remember, kids ate free…so she had deluxe service each morning.  Besides, she never finished all of her bacon, so Zach had to help her with that.  It was extremely humid and the gym really wore me out.  After a run on the treadmill I returned back to the room.  We got dressed in our suits, grabbed Sloan’s life jacket, and made our way back down to the beach to do some surfing.

All three of us went out and I “attempted” to push them into waves, but I wasn’t doing a very good job.  Zach managed with Sloan on his own when I was out too far and couldn’t touch the bottom any longer.  That’s me, in the background, not succeeding at my task whatsoever…


Sloan loved it.  She wasn’t scared or nervous at all.  Just happy to be doing something different and exciting.


After being out in the ocean for a while we rested on the beach and ordered some drinks.


We decided to head back to the infinity pool to meet up with the majority of the rest of our family.

After Sloan’s nap we did some laps around the lazy river until it was time to get ready for dinner.  We ate at a different restaurant near the pool and it was all very delicious.


You would think that Sloan’s favorite part of the trip would have been surfing or the Lazy River.  Truth be told – we believe it was the golf carts.  Since the resort was so spread out, you could call a golf cart to come and pick you up and take you to wherever you needed to go.  Sloan was in heaven riding to a fro on the golf carts and could have done it all day every day if we would have let her.

We stopped and got some dessert at the Gelato Shack after dinner.


After dinner we changed back into our swimwear and we went back down to the beach.  We found these pods hanging from the steel beams underneath the infinity pool and Sloan loved crawling around inside of them.


She would have ran full speed into the waves if we would have let her.  She has no fear whatsoever and it scares ME to death.

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We stayed until it was time for bed.  By the end of each night, Sloan was absolutely exhausted and slept so well throughout the whole trip.

We continued our ritual each day, and every day being at the gym never got easier.  I attempted BBG in the 78 degree gym and nearly drowned in my own sweat.  The employees inside the gym were even wearing LONG SLEEVED JACKETS!  I could barely breath let alone exercise in that temperature and they were jolly as could be in winter clothing…

We attempted surfing again with Sloan and she loved it even more the second time around.  She stayed out with Zach in the surf for almost 45 minutes while I watched panicking from the shore.  She even barrel-rolled off the board a few times and it didn’t even phase her.  She even lost her binki at one point out in the ocean.  As soon as she found it, though, she wanted back on the board.  She took out her binki and shoved it down deep in her life jacket so if she fell again she wouldn’t lose it.   She is an adrenaline junkie for sure!


I love that she was splashing her hand in the ocean, just content as ever.


After our surf session we went back to the infinity pool for lunch.

We stayed until nap time and once Sloan was snoozing inside in the air-conditioning, we took the monitor out by the Lazy River and enjoyed some time together.


That night was a free night.  Since we didn’t have a reservation, we took a taxi to the next resort over to try a restaurant there.  We ate at the Sea Breeze at the St. Regis and we had the BEST shrimp tacos I’ve ever tasted.  With homemade tortillas and some sort of avocado sauce that tasted like guacamole mixed with crack cocaine.  Just kidding.  But really, it was amazing.  Sloan got a PB&J (toasted) and fruit and sat contently the entire meal.

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The next day we had family pictures scheduled.  We lounged at the pool, hit up the lazy river, and then met everyone else down at the beach.  Thank goodness for the golf carts, or we would have been sweating before we had even arrived…


Sloan wasn’t thrilled about the heat [it was 90 degrees and felt like 90 percent humidity] and we all were a bit fussy.  I died when I saw this first photo…

img_4547 Luckily for the majority of the rest of the photos, Sloan was happy.img_4371

Ok…not these two.  But I’ll take what I can get.  group-1 group-2

After our photo session was all done, we had a beach dinner scheduled.  I’ve never eaten dinner with my toes in the sand.  It was wonderful and it was much needed and relaxing after all the stress of family pictures.fullsizerender-1

They had a live guitarist playing and they even set up a fire pit for s’mores afterwards.


Sloan and I went back to the room when she started to fall asleep in her high chair [that some sweet waiter carted all the way down through the sand to our table – bless him!] and I got her all ready for bed.

The next day we had no plans other than our little routine.  I had stopped at the resort’s boutique gift shop to get Zach and I some sodas when I saw the Flamingo floaty.  It was one of those things you just can’t pass up.

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Sloan spent the rest of the day floating in Felicia (named by Lori) with a sippy cup and fruit snacks.


We had dinner that night all together at the resort’s Asian restaurant – which was our favorite of all of the meals we had there.  Afterwards we all went down to the beach.  We were scheduled to release some baby sea turtles into the ocean.  Each family got their own box and the staff told us all about the process and why it’s so important not to interfere and to be extra soft and gentle with the turtles.  I was amazed at how brave Sloan was with those little wiggly things.  She insisted on holding them herself – but wasn’t very gentle in “releasing” them.  It was more like tossing them.  Let’s hope a few of ours survived and didn’t suffer from blunt force trauma.

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It was my favorite night of the trip.  Afterwards we walked up and down the beach with Sloan and my sister-in-law caught some great photos of us (thank you Siri).  The sunsets were like this each night – bright and bold.  The sky was so orange, which made the ocean look even more blue.

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The next day was our last full day.  I went to the gym and on my way, spotted the infinity pool completely deserted.  It was beautiful.


Later, Zach and his brothers tried their hand at the water power board and Zach loved it.


It was a free night for dinner – so we decided to go back to the Asian restaurant for a second round.  Sloan even had her very first brownie sundae for dessert and refused to let them take the plate – even when there was nothing but melted ice cream and chocolate sauce left over.  We perused the gift shops afterwards and Sloan touched everything within her reach.img_4520

We kept telling Sloan it was our last day and that tomorrow we would be going home.  She wasn’t thrilled about the idea, and spent the last evening cuddled up in our bed with us.

Saturday Zach did a little morning surf session and I went on a run.  We all showered up, ordered room service for lunch, and then packed our bags to go home.  Our whole crew boarded the bus and were off to the airport in pretty good time.  We were worried because our drive to the airport took a lot longer than expected.  Luckily security in Mexico is a lot different than in the US.  We were through their TSA in less than 5 minutes.  The flight went a lot faster than I expected also and Sloan did pretty good considering she skipped nap time and her dinner was technically 6 different types of snacks I had packed in my carry on.  Once we arrived back home, customs went pretty quickly as well.  We were really blessed, considering our large party, how smoothly everything went.  All thanks to Gina’s meticulous planning and us hustling our butts to and fro to make things happen.

We love being with the Hendersons.  We always have the best time and make some amazing memories.  One of my favorite things to watch is Sloan’s cousins and how they interact with her.  They are all so sweet and playful with her.  She doesn’t know it yet – but she is SO lucky to have 25+ other cousins to grow up with.  Our future family vacations will only get busier and louder, but honestly…that’s part of the joy in it.  Thank you Mark and Jeanene for another wonderful time together, we love you!