Euro Trip 2016 [PARIS]

Sunday morning we left for Paris.  We took the Eurostar from St. Pancras Station.  I love that train ride.  I would almost prefer to travel by train within Europe than by plane.  It’s so comfortable (literally, more leg room) and you don’t have to go through all the hassle of security.


The ride went by quickly and we were in Paris and checked into our hotel with the whole afternoon to spare.

So my family could familiarize themselves with the city, we took them on a boat tour on the Seine.


I love the view from the river – especially when you go under the bridges by the Louvre and then past the Ile de la Cité where you can see Notre Dame.

Afterwards we took an Uber to Dinner.  It was one of my favorite meals of the trip, but it might have been because we were all starving.  Cafe Central is where it’s at.


Then we walked a little ways over to the Champ de Mars to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower.

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Then we all rode the elevator up to to get a view from the Eiffel Tower.


We didn’t go all the way to the top.  Most of my family did, but Zach, Kenny, and I went back down to get a crepe.  Nothing is more magical that seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.  Call me cliche…but really.


We enjoyed our crepes and then made our way back to our hotel.

The next morning we all set off for the Arc de Triomphe.  Luck would have it that the Arc had been closed for a while and opening day was Monday, the exact day Zach and I had planned to take my family there.  The view from the Arc de Triomphe is my favorite – more than anywhere else (inducing the Eiffel Tower).  The arc is in a giant round-a-bout and all of these streets combine at the base.  In every direction you can see tree-lined streets and Parisian rooftops.  It is so dreamy.IMG_1181

Then, because it’s just down the street on the Champ-Élysées, we went to Laduree for some macarons.  I bought a giant round box – 15 macarons if I’m being honest – and between Zach and I we had them all gone by the morning.  FIFTEEN.  


We took our goodies and made our way to the Pompidou via the Metro.  There was an exhibit that had opened and the lines to get in were around the block.


We had planned to eat at one of our go-to Paris restaurants [Geoffroy l’Olive] but it was closed because it was a religious holiday.  “Whit Monday”.  So we hopped in an Uber and made our way over to Notre Dame to eat lunch at a nearby cafe.  We popped inside the cathedral after our lunch for a bit and even though it was overcast, the stained glass windows still looked amazing.


After going through Notre Dame we went over to the [new] Love Lock Bridge.  It used to be the Pont de Arts, but they tore the railings off of the existing bridge and replaced it with reinforced steel and glass.  (That means that the other two locks that we have attached to that bridge are gone.)  But people wanted to keep the tradition alive – so they all just moved to a different bridge.  We bought our locks on said bridge – close to the Musee d’Orsay – and did it again for good measure.  You can never be too superstitious.




Then we walked over to the Tulleries.  We passed through the gardens and over to the Louvre.  We went through the mall entrance so we could see the “DaVinci Code Pyramid”.  We needed a photo in front of it – it is tradition.  We got a photo together on our first trip to paris in 2007 and have done one EVERY SINGLE TIME we’ve gone back.


…and we had to take a unique one, for posterity.


After the Louvre we walked to the Madeline.  After walking through we went across the street to the Paris London Cafe.


Then we made our way back to our hotel and picked up a few crepes at a stand on the way.

The next day my family went to Versailles.  Zach and I decided to stay in the city and we weren’t going to meet up with my family until 6:00 pm.  So before venturing out, we made an early morning run to the Louvre.  There were less than a handful of people anywhere and we made it to the courtyard right when the sun was coming up.


After we were all showered up we took the Metro to the St. Martin Canal.  Zach found a little place that you could rent a boat to cruise around.  They even packed you a picnic basket – including some beverages of your choice.


The boats were small but surprisingly fast.  We sipped on our sodas zipped around the canal.


Zach was a wonderful captain.  He later convinced me to try my hand at driving.  You would think being raised with a boat that I would be a natural…


…but I almost ran right into the tour boat in the above photo.  Luckily, I recovered.  But the tour boat occupants were just as scared as we were for a brief moment.

We returned our boat and made our way over to le Marais.  We stopped in a few stores – including Nike and Supreme – and stopped at a cafe for some lunch.  I managed to buy a few gifts for Sloan at COS before we had to make our way over to meet my family for dinner.

We ate at Pizza Amalfi – another tradition.  The staff hasn’t changed in almost 10 years.  The same sweet man, I never remember to ask his name, recognizes me each time.  He calls me “Principessa” and usually gives me some sort of treat.  What was this visit’s treat?  A photo op with him in his special hat and sunglasses…


Shocker:  we had crepes for dessert on our way back to the hotel.

The next day my aunt and uncle had set up an all-day bus tour to Normandy.  So it was just the six of us for the entire day.

We rode the Metro to Montmartre.


We walked up and down the streets.  First to see the Moulin Rogue, where my Dad was truly convinced he could “go in and just take a peek”.  At 10:00 am in the morning, as if a show were going on.


We stopped at a patisserie for some croissants and a traditional baguette and then ascended the hill to the Sacred Heart.  IMG_1437

We managed to arrive at the basilica just as a service was starting.  It was very interesting to watch and even more beautiful to listen to.  One of those sisters had some real pipes on her.


We walked back down the long way through one of my favorite areas.


We had lunch at Cafe St. Regis – famous for their croques.  After lunch we took the Metro to the Catacombs.  Zach and I decided to walk up to the Luxembourg Gardens while my family walked through the museum.  We both had never been – and it was better than we expected.

luxemborg gardens

We walked the grounds and then did some people watching until it was time to meet back up with our crew.

Then we all made our way to the Louvre.  Wednesday nights are the only evenings that the Louvre is open later than normal hours – it was what we did on our very first date.  We took my family through the Denon Wing to see the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, and of course – my personal favorite – Nike.


We then went over to the Richelieu Wing where we walked through the Napoleon Apartments.  We refueled with some macarons and croissants at the Paul on the main level.  We only spent a few hours there – but felt like we had seen all of the highlights.  We even ran into Zach’s brother an sister-in-law totally on accident!

We had dinner at Blend – a very unique burger restaurant – and then walked back to our hotel afterwards where we managed to enjoy our last crepe of the trip from a cart on the street.

Paris is my favorite city.  I think it will always be.  Tomorrow, if it were possible, the three of us would move there.  Every time we go back I am that much closer to convincing Zach to actually do it.  With that being said, Paris was not my favorite part of this little adventure.  Venice and Rome won me over again – and they were the perfect finale to our family Euro Trip.




Euro Trip 2016 [LONDON]

Let me start off by saying that I am a total hypocrite.  Before I had Sloan I used to roll my eyes at mothers that said they “couldn’t bare to leave” their kids to go on a vacation.  I would think to myself, “These moms are so bizarre.  I won’t bat an eye when Zach and I decide to go on a trip after we have kids.”  I was so naive.

My family started planning this trip over a year ago.  Long story short:  My parents discovered a forgotten account they had started for my brother and I’s education fund.  They split it and gave us each the money they had accumulated.  We tried to refuse it, to give it back, but they insisted it was ours because they had saved it for US.  We both felt guilty about taking it.  So what did we do with the money?  Bought them an all expense paid trip to Europe.  Well…not really.  Because technically they paid for it.  But you get the thought behind it.

We narrowed down our destinations to London, Paris, Venice, and Rome.  We booked airfare, hotels, train tickets, and so on and then just counted down the months until May.  We were going to be gone for two weeks and we were taking Sloan with us.

Only a few months back – Zach told me he didn’t think it was a good idea to take Sloan on the trip anymore.  He was worried about the time change [8 hours is pretty intense], no opportunities for her to nap, and not to mention the fact that select restaurants and other facilities don’t have the resources we would need for a baby:  changing tables, high chairs, pack and plays.  I had already done so much planning with Sloan in mind, even purchased some things for her to use abroad.  He told me to really consider the option of her staying home – and I told him I would.   I thought long and hard about it and I still wanted to take her, but he was adamant.  So I gave him an ultimatum:  if he could find someone that I knew and trusted to watch Sloan for two straight weeks, I would agree to do it.  It took him 2 hours.  The sweet girl that babysits Sloan on Saturday nights for us agreed to take work off to watch her for 14 days.  Ugh, I hate when he is right.  He’s usually right.  Looking back on our trip now, we definitely could have done the whole trip with Sloan – but it was so much easier and more comfortable for all of us [including her] for her to stay home with Hayley.

Anyway, enough of the back story.   May 11th seemed like forever away, and then it came.  I had been so busy packing for myself and getting everything prepped for Sloan that the time got away from me.  The logistics of the trip and all the prep at home I had to do kept me distracted from the fact that I would be away from my baby for two whole weeks.  Hayley dropped us off at the airport to meet my family and I was a rock until I had to get out of the car and kiss her goodbye.  I lost it.  She lost it.  We were both crying – but she had no clue why.  I had to shut the car door on my baby while she was screaming for me to pick her up and take her out of her car seat.  It was awful, but I did it.

We took the new nonstop Delta flight from SLC to Heathrow.  It was smooth, Zach and I slept for the greater part of it.  When we arrived in London we had a full day ahead of us.  So we checked in to our hotel, freshened up, and set out.  No one but Zach and I had been to any of these cities before, so we got to show them all the big attractions and relive our glory days on our Study Abroad.

We hit up Buckingham Palace…

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…where my uncle managed to make two ladies dressed in their tea party best VERY uncomfortable.


Then Westminster Abbey, Big Ben…


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We made our way over the bridge to check out the London Eye and then hopped on the Tube to dine at Steak & Co.  It was a great first day.  We were all a little exhausted and tired at the end with full bellies, but none of us fell asleep so I’d call that a win.

The next day I had scheduled my family to visit Windsor Castle, which both Zach and I love, but stayed back to try something new instead.  We took an Uber to Shoreditch where we had brunch at the Cereal Killer Cafe.


Every possible cereal you could think of – they had it.  Along with every possible option of milk.  And I paired my Protein Cheerios [I am obsessed] with some almond milk and a Diet Coke.  Zach got a concoction that even he can’t remember exactly what was in it.  I was just as pleased with the 90’s vibe the place had:  pictures of JT and Britney, posters from hit series like Clarissa Explains it All, and in lieu of benches, they had beds to sit on with Bart Simpson sheets.


Afterwards we roamed around Shoreditch.  It is the Brooklyn of London.  Vintage and specialty shops, trendy restaurants, street art.


Then we did some shopping at BOXPARK, a little shopping area made of shipping containers.



Then we made our way over to Trafalgar Square and popped in the National Gallery.



National Gallery

We had lunch at Shake Shack afterwards in Covent Garden.


After my family was done at Windsor, we all met up at the Tower of London.




Then off to St. Paul’s before dinner.

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We had dinner at Bread Street Kitchen, one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.


On Friday nights only, the British Museum is open late (until 8:30 pm) – so we rushed off so my family could check out the Rosetta Stone before it closed.

British Museum

Like I said, we really packed it in on this trip.  We walked back to our hotel to rest up for the next day.

Day 3 my family went to Blenheim Palace.  It’s almost a full-day trip (including the train ride to and from London) so Zach and I stayed in the city.  Zach took me to House of Vans – an old Underground Station that had been converted into a skate park.


He obviously didn’t bring a skateboard with him – so he borrowed one from a 10-year-old boy.  It was honestly the highlight of my day watching him.


I had a little inkling into my future watching the little kids in the skate camp.  I have a feeling one day my mornings will be spent watching my kids learn to skateboard.  If Zach has his way, I mean.

We had lunch and then stopped at Borough Market.

IMG_1037It was amazing – and the first time for both of us!  There was fresh fruit, cheese, bread, olive oil, freshly squeezed juice.  Like a Farmer’s Market on steroids – and with a British accent, of course.

Then we met up with my family at a Fish and Chips restaurant [my Mom’s only request of the entire trip].  IMG_1036

The ladies went shopping afterwards on Oxford Street and then we all made our way over to Picadilly Circus.  IMG_1033

It was our last night in London – so we made our way back to our hotel in Holborn to pack our bags for Paris the next morning.



The Mother of all Sprinkles

Sloan and I took a little trip down south this week.  We hit up The Store, Trader Joe’s, and even a little visit to Jungle Jim’s.  I haven’t been to that place in 20 years.  It hasn’t changed.  Sloan’s entrance was free [because she was under 2 years old] and we hit up all the rides that she could stand.  The Merry-Go-Round and spaceship ride went well.  merry go round 2Merry Go Round

The swings were literally a swing and a miss.  She cried so hard they stopped the ride for her.swingsOn the way home we stopped at Lonestar to get fish tacos for our Quattro de Mayo.  We had a lot going on for the 5th, so we decided to celebrate the day earlier.  The food tasted just as good 24 hours earlier…FullSizeRender

We have hit up the park every day this week.  Sloan’s favorite is the park just south of the SDRC.  The slides, the spinny pods…
parkShe definitely hasn’t skipped a beat – even considering her stitches.   snack time

Thursday we got her stitches out.  I had planned to wait for Zach, but I knew she would do better if I took her right after her nap.  So her and I went together, after saying a prayer that everything would go well.  Truthfully, it couldn’t have gone better.  She sat on my lap the whole time while they took them out and she was a total champion.  IMG_0840

They look a lot better than I imagined they would.  It’s incredible how fast children heal.


Saturday all of the girls in my family got together for pedicures.  I brought Cutler’s sugar cookies [obviously] to snack on while we were getting our toes done.  Little did I know that my snack would be my pedicure’s demise.  When I was all finished and I pulled my toes out of the UV light box – I noticed a green dot right in the middle of my big toe.  I asked the girl who did my polish what had happened, and she informed me “is from your cookie”.  Which meant a sprinkle had been caught in the shellac crossfire and was embedded in my toe forever.  Or at least for the next 4+ weeks.  It made me realize my addition to Cutler’s almond glazed sugar cookies is because TOO aware.

Saturday night we celebrated Mother’s Day early with the Hendersons for dinner down town.  The food was amazing and the company – even better.  As many of the adults as could join us did, along with baby Quinn.


Zach and Sloan totally spoiled me for Mother’s Day this year.  Zach let me sleep in.  Sloan lasted the entire block of sacrament meeting without either of us having to go out in the hall.  It was a dream.  I’ve been playing with my new gift way more than I’d like to admit, too…IMG_0897

We celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom at her house for dinner Sunday night.  My grandma joined us, along with my brother and sister-in-law.  It was relaxing and great to be together.  I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day.

I love being a mom to a little girl.  I love experiencing new things with her.  The simplest of things bring her the most joy – like getting her toe nails painted.  I didn’t want her to feel left out, considering she’s OBSESSED with my toe nail polish right now [even with the green sprinkle].

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She sat completely still the entire time and oohed and ahhhed when she could see [and touch them].

I couldn’t ask for a better husband and father to our baby girl.  He makes me feel like supermom – even when I feel like I’ve failed.

Ripped Open and Stitched Up

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We’ve had a great week or so – with one exception.  Zach’s been gone a lot lately and we’ve missed him like crazy.  Between his night hockey games, Young Men’s, Scout camp-outs, and his recent trip – we’re so glad to have him back with us.

We visited Kangaroo Zoo together as a family and counted it as Family Night.

IMG_0780 It was difficult to get her to leave the place – even with the ever prominent “feet” smell.  IMG_0779 Sloan’s been so affectionate lately.  She’s always been, but even more so lately.  Giving hugs and “loves” out like they’re going out of style.  I’m loving every second.  IMG_0746 Sloan and I attended one of Zach’s hockey games this last week.  Sloan cared more about the snacks I brought her – but managed to clap when either teams scored their goals.  She’s passionate about sports, I guess.  hockey

Zach treated me to a surprise massage at his sister’s spa in Layton on Saturday.  He booked the appointment and arranged everything all by himself.  It was wonderful.  I left with my hair pointing in every possible direction and I couldn’t have been more relaxed.  IMG_0731

I ordered a water table for Sloan to enjoy now that the weather looks promising.  We set it up Thursday afternoon and it was a huge hit – even without the water.  It entertained her while I helped Zach prepare for the Scout camp-out.

That same evening was possibly the worst of my entire life.  I know it sounds dramatic, but I’ve never meant anything more.  I was preparing dinner and needed to have my hands free while at the stove.  I had Sloan on my lap on the sofa – trying to find something for her to watch (she doesn’t like watching TV – it usually captures her attention for 5 minutes tops).  While surfing through some channels Sloan decided to jump off my lap and hit her head on our coffee table.  Everything seemed like a blur after that.  I managed to grab a clean towel and apply pressure to her head, but the blood was coming and coming fast.  It was completely covering her eye and already had soaked her whole face.  I got her to hold still briefly enough to call Zach and tell him to come home as fast as he could.  As luck would have it – he was in Salt Lake meeting someone.  I’ll be honest – I was a drone.  I don’t do well with blood, but it didn’t phase me at all.  I moved quickly and efficiently and surprised myself with how I responded (now that I can look back).  The cut was bad and I knew it needed stitches.  I got her upstairs, put a bandaid on the gash, and heard a knock on my door.  My brother-in-law Chad was waiting on my doorstep.  Zach called him after we had ended our call and he rushed over from the hangar.  I’ve never been more grateful to see someone in my entire life.  I managed to keep it together until I saw him.  He was so calm and collected.  He took Sloan from my arms and told me to change my clothes before we could go to the hospital.  I hadn’t even noticed the way I must have looked until I got upstairs to my room.  Blood has soaked through all my layers and my entire left arm and chest was covered in blood.  While I wiped all the blood off of me and got into some clean clothes, I walked over to Sloan’s bathroom where Chad was with her.  I overheard him talking to her and the tears started flowing.  He told her how beautiful she looked, even with the cut.  That everything was going to be alright.  I walked through the door and saw him wiping all the blood out of her hair.  He had managed to clean her up and told me to get some fresh clothes for her as well.  I later threw those clothes away.  I couldn’t even look at them.  They were completely soaked and I never wanted to see them again.  By the time Zach got home we were already cleaning up the blood off of the kitchen floor and had managed to calm Sloan completely down.  She was no longer crying and seemed as happy and content as ever.  I couldn’t have been more grateful to Chad and I don’t know how I’ll ever repay him for being there.

The three of us made our way to the emergency room at Lake View.  This was the worst part.  I’ve decided that water boarding is for amateurs.  If you really want to torture someone, you should make them watch their children in serious pain.  I couldn’t handle it and cried harder than I can remember.  Her eyes were fixed on me the entire time and it broke my heart to not be able to hold her and console her.  After her last stitch was over – I got to hold her.  She smiled at me and acted like she had completely forgotten the whole event.  I’ve said it before – I’ll say it again.  I don’t deserve this child.  IMG_0778

Being a parent is the most heartbreaking and heartwarming job in the world.  I know I’m not the first one to have to take a child to the ER for stitches.  I know that there will be broken bones and broken hearts in my future – but I still will never forget the feeling I had that night.  I will also never forget the smell of the blood.  It was like pennies.  I still smell it sometimes, even if in my subconscious.  IMG_0793-1If you’ve ever seen me with Sloan, you know I’m a helicopter mom.  I hover over her and fuss about every move she makes (first child probs) and she still managed to get a serious injury.  I was still holding onto her when she managed to hit her head.  When all was said and done and we got her down for bed that night – all I could think about was how I had failed to protect her.  Mommy Guilt is serious business.  I felt like my heart was ripped open, quite literally, while she was getting stitched up.

The next morning she woke up and was all smiles, like nothing had ever happened.  I wish we could all be like little children – so easy to give love and so easy to forgive.  Every time that I am consumed with love for my child – I think of my Father in Heaven.  I can’t imagine the love he has for each of his children, but I can get a glimpse now that I have my own child.  My dad called me the day after to check on me.  He and I have always had a special relationship.  I don’t remember all that was said, but I remember telling him “I don’t know if I am cut out for this”.  I cried a lot on that phone call, and so did he.  He always knows what to say and I’m grateful to him for restoring my faith in myself and my ability to be a mom to a baby who deserves more than I could ever give her.

Aren’t we all just trying to do our best?  I’ll never be able to deny her of that.