Summer So Far

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of the summer months.  I’m a total lightweight when it comes to high heat.  But Sloan has softened my heart towards all that is summer.  We spent every spare moment outside, mostly playing with Sloan’s new water table.  I could kiss whoever invited water tables right on the mouth.
FullSizeRender_1 We’ve been visiting the pool often, mostly to get Sloan more comfortable with the water when we go to Lake Powell with the Hendersons.  IMG_2233 IMG_2322 IMG_2323 She’s my daughter:  she loves accessories.  And summertime accessories especially.  If she’s not wearing sunglasses, she’s not about to have her after-nap snack.  FullSizeRender_2One of the first things we did when we got back from our family Eurotrip was to take Sloan to the Zoo.  I haven’t been to the Zoo in years.  Sloan was true to form:  she cared more about the other toddlers than any of the animals.



We’ve had a couple places on our list to try – one being Chronic Tacos in Sugarhouse.  It’s no Lonestar, but it was quite good!  Sloan gave her kid’s quesadilla an A+.

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It doesn’t make sense, but I’ve been on a baking kick lately.  Zach calls it a “roll”…because I’ve made homemade bread 5 times over the course of a few weeks.  I found the most amazing recipe for Bowl Bread [because you bake it in two Pyrex bowls in the oven] and we all can’t get enough of it.


I even tried my hand at Cutler’s glazed sugar cookies.  They were good – but not as good as the real deal.  That’s because there is crack in Cutler’s sugar cookies.  Pure, unfiltered crack.


Summer makes me even lazier when it comes to cooking genuine meals for the three of us – but I’m hooked on a crockpot mango chicken taco recipe I found.  Just add chicken breasts and a container of Trader Joe’s frozen mango salsa and you’ve got dinner.

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We also took Sloan to her first gymnastic class a few weeks at Flip’s in Bountiful.  It went ok.  Suffice to say that Sloan has enough energy to be a pro – but lacks discipline.  Her USA get-up totally killed it, though.


We got to visit Mimi and Papa a couple of Sundays ago.  Some of Sloan’s highlights were jumping on the tramp with Papa and completely covering herself and all her clothing in berry juices.  RIP to those white cut-off shorts…


Amongst all the family time, we had a great Father’s Day weekend.  We got to celebrate our #1 Dad up in Park City for the weekend.  We ate sushi for dinner [Sloan had her first taste of a California roll and didn’t hate it], tried our hand at bowling, put Sloan to bed, and used our monitor to go out on the deck and roast s’mores only 15 feet away from our room.


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The next morning we woke up and went on a nearby hike.  The early hours meant the temps were lower and for a second it felt like it was still spring.


We spent the rest of the day up in Ogden with the Hendersons celebrating Mark and the other dad’s for an early Father’s Day BBQ.  Sloan basically set up camp at the little splash pad the entire time.


She is not quite ready for the mountain yet.  She doesn’t understand the concept of gravity WHATSOEVER.


We had a fantastic holiday on Sunday for Father’s Day.  Sloan gave Zach extra loves on his big day.


Sloan also went to nursery for the first time and didn’t even notice we left her.  Like didn’t even whine or turn her head to look at us as we walked out the door.  I was kind of bugged about it, I’ll be honest.  Sometimes a mom wants to feel needed – but I couldn’t have been more proud of her.  I tried to get a decent photo of us, but this was the longest she would sit still in my arms.


I loved peeking in on her through the tiny window in the door.  She was having the time of her life.  IMG_2316

We had Sunday dinner that evening at my aunt and uncle’s house.

We had a cluster of birthday’s to celebrate the last few weeks as well.  We went up to Ogden for our brother-in-law’s 40th birthday.  It was at Tona with all his family and friends, we were so glad to be able to attend.  His cake was incredible:  golf and sushi.  Kelly has great taste.


Later we went out to eat for my brother’s birthday at From Scratch.  Sloan loves Bubba, and chants his name on the daily.


And because my dad’s birthday was on Sunday, we had them both over to our house for Sunday dinner.  I made chocolate cake [more bread] and we ate a meal made up of almost 100 percent carbohydrates.  Sloan is my little baking assistant.  She loves to watch the mixer do it’s magic and usually assists me by rummaging through the drawers that she can reach into and tossing whatever the contents are at me.


I feel like I’ve missed a lot of what we have done the last few weeks.  I have a few new projects that I’ve been hired to do, which is always exciting and overwhelming, but we’re managing.  June has come and gone and July and August will fly even faster, I’m convinced.  We’re just doing all that we can to enjoy all the time together with family and friends.


The last portion of our trip was in Rome.  We didn’t know it, but this would turn out to be our favorite part of the whole trip.  We took the train from Venice to Rome.  We almost missed that train when they suddenly changed our platform with NO warning, but luckily we all got on (with all our luggage) in time.

We didn’t waste any time [I feel like this was the theme of our trip, actually].  We checked into our hotel and then walked to the Colosseum.  IMG_1660 IMG_1602

After our walkabout we made our way over to the Roman Forum.  This was Zach and I’s first time here – we’ve never spent more than 24 hours in Rome at a time, so we were never able to make it in the past.  It was truly fascinating. IMG_1666


After the forum we were all starving.  We had plans to dine at a place overlooking the Colosseum, but it was completely booked for the entire weekend.  So, at the suggestion of our concierge at the hotel, we dined at Pizza Circo.  BEST pizza I’ve had in Italy thus far.  If we ever make it back to Rome – we’re dining here every night.  IMG_1748

We walked back to our hotel from the restaurant.  The ladies made a stop in Zara – where they literally were forced us out because they were trying to close – but that didn’t stop us from a few solid purchases.  Those men of ours waited patiently outside the entire time.

The next morning we made our way over to the Vespa rental shop.  Turns out they messed up our reservation, but luckily we found five Vespas at another location.  It turned out to be better, perhaps, because we got hooked up with some pretty impressive scooters.  The whole Vespa rental was a major topic of discussion between Zach and I before the trip.  Zach was convinced it wasn’t a good (or safe) idea, but I pushed back.  I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant when they told us we had to have “experience driving Vespas” or “had to have motorcycle licenses”.  Luckily Zach once owned a scooter and both my mom and aunt had motorcycle licenses.  Like 30 years ago, but still.  We smiled and nodded at the shop owner – convincing him we were totally capable of maneuvering the busy streets of Rome.

I had mapped out a whole route for our Vespa gang.  We were going from one monument to the next, in a zig-zag pattern all over the city.  Let me preface this adventure by saying how incredibly dangerous Vespa scooters have the potential to be.  Zach was driving our scooter and I was on the back navigating on my phone.  One hand holding onto the safety bar, the other hand scrolling around on my phone.  Rome is just like any other big city when it comes to commuters, but Vespa driving through Rome is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.  Especially on those multi-lane roundabouts!


We drove to the Pantheon first, then had lunch nearby Trevi Fountain.  After Trevi we drove to the Piazza Navona.  We stopped for gelato and sat in the shade.  Our last stop was Piazza de Popolo, which was very close to our dinner destination.

We ate at a trendy rooftop restaurant.  The food was good, but the view was even better.




We decided to drive back to the hotel to grab some warmer layers so we could go back out on our Vespas after the sun went down.  IMG_1703

We took my family to see the Colosseum all lit up at night – my favorite way to see the monument.  This is where a select few of us had a scary run-in with a bus.  Luckily, nobody was hurt – but only inches away, truthfully.  IMG_1696

We rode our Vespa’s back to our hotel, but not before we stopped for our second round of gelato.  IMG_1749

The next morning we still had our Vespas [we had rented them for 24 hours] so we decided we needed to squeeze every penny out of our rental.  We rode around the city until we had to return them at 11:00 am.  We got lunch afterwards near the Vatican at Pastasciutta.  It was the best pasta I had the whole trip.  The pesto was out of this world.

We then walked over to St. Peter’s to walk through the Basilica.  Afterwards we all walked over to the Vatican Museum so we could see the Sistine Chapel.  (Ignore the angle of this photo – there are still no photos allowed, so we had to get creative.)FullSizeRender-6

Then we took an Uber back to the hotel before dinner.  We walked through one of the most charming neighborhoods and had pizza at a busy and very popular local pizza place.  It was our last night of the trip and we all couldn’t believe how fast it had actually happened.

We made our way back to our hotel and stopped for our last few scoops of gelato.  IMG_1724

Rome surprised both Zach and I.  I think the Vespas will go down as one of the best things we did.  Definitely not the safest, Zach was absolutely right, but the most enjoyable by far.

We had been planning and anticipating this trip for over a year.  It came and went so fast, it didn’t even feel like two weeks.  Luckily, coming home was easier than ever.  We had a little girl waiting for us at home that we literally couldn’t stay away from any longer.

I’m so grateful we had the opportunity to make these memories with my family.  It was definitely a once in a lifetime trip.  I know we’ll never get to do something like this again with our entire crew – especially because our family is only going to get bigger from here on out – and it’s only going to get more difficult to go on vacations in general.  But the time we had together we’ll never forget, as cheese ball as it sounds.  I love my family and loved every moment of these two weeks together with them.




The next day we flew Air France from Paris to Venice.  We gave ourselves plenty of time and arrived early at the airport (CDG is always tricky) and relaxed for a bit beforehand.  Our flight arrived in Venice late afternoon.  We all hopped on a water taxi to the city which took about an hour.  I hadn’t been to venice for 8 years.  There really is no city on earth like it.  When we all got off our stop with all of our luggage it started to POUR.  We rolled as fast as we could through the alley ways until we finally spotted our hotel, which was tucked away in a hidden little courtyard.  IMG_1462

After we checked in we all met up and walked to dinner.


Unfortunately the place I had found to eat at was closed – a lot of places close early in Venice, apparently.  So we picked a place nearby and hunkered down for some carbo-loading.  The rain started up as we were walking home, but that didn’t stop some from experiencing their first Italian gelato.

The next morning we all gathered up to see the sites.  We found a “hole” 10 yards from the courtyard entrance to our hotel where Zach and Blake had WAY too much fun scaring unexpecting tourists riding by on gondolas.


Then we walked over Rialto Bridge to the Rialto Market.  We did some shopping and then took in one of the best views in the whole city.  IMG_1478

For lunch we walked over to Dal Moro’s [Fresh Pasta to Go].  There was a line out the door and down the alley, but we managed to walk away with giant containers of authentic homemade pasta.  IMG_1745

And because it’s socially acceptable to get gelato multiple times a day – we started early.  IMG_1482


We crossed a few bridges and made our way over to St. Mark’s Square.  IMG_1486

Luckily, Gary went in to Tour Guide Mode and directed us to the entrance of the church.  FullSizeRender-2-1


Then we split into couples (sans my uncle, we had literally walked him to death) and boarded our gondolas.  We shared a gondola with my brother and sister-in-law.  It is always a highlight of Venice.  No matter how many times you’ve done it, it is by far the best way to see the city.  IMG_1560

Then we split up briefly.  My parents, Blake and Britt, and my aunt all went shopping.  Zach and I found some sodas and a shady spot by the water to watch the boats.


Later that evening we all met up again for dinner.  My family surprised Zach and I with the most hilarious purchase possible.  Zach had brought his Yeezy’s on the trip and my mom couldn’t stop asking him about them.  Why were they named Yeezy’s?  Who was Yeezy?  When we split up that afternoon they happened to walk into a little store who sold knock-offs and all four of them purchased a pair.  They all put them on and wore them for dinner.  I couldn’t stop laughing about it…FullSizeRender-3


That night we had dinner at an Osteria just a short walk away from our hotel.  The crab and zucchini pasta blew. my. mind.


Afterwards we grabbed gelato [again] and found a spot by the water.  There was a gondola docked right by our feet along with an abandoned hat.  Zach hopped on for a quick photo op and seconds later the gondolier showed up, madder than a hornet.  Zach kept telling him how nice his boat was, but that didn’t make him any less upset.  We got out of there as quick as we could.


We ended our last night in Venice in a random courtyard until the sun went completely down.    FullSizeRender-1-1

Venice is such a small city.  You could walk from one end to the other in 30 minutes – maybe less.  That’s why we only spent a day and a half there – which was enough time to see all the sights and eat way too much gelato.