September + October General Conference

First, I have to catch up. September slipped through our fingers. Technically, first was Zach’s birthday. Sloan and I did our best to make it special for him – since he always makes everything wonderful for the two of us. We are so lucky to have him and wanted to show our love and appreciation for him.  We started his day off with his favorite breakfast, German pancakes.

As soon as he got home from work the three of us rushed off to Benihana for dinner.  Some traditions will never die.  Lucky for Zach, Sloan loved every second of it.  The entertainment, the fried rice, the paper hat she wore the entire meal and the trip home. She also asked me this week if Zach could take her on her “first date to Benihana”.  So I guess the love for Benihana is hereditary. Looks like I’m never going to be able to cut this cord…When we got home from dinner we all had a piece of Zach’s favorite dessert [really the only one he actually likes] his mom’s chocolate cake that Sloan and I had made the night before. It sits in the fridge overnight and Sloan had been begging for a piece since I pulled it hot out of the oven – sans frosting.  

Then later that week Zach and I got to go out to dinner to celebrate, just the two of us at his favorite restaurant.

I hope he enjoyed his birthday as much as we did – attempting to make it fun for him.  Sloan gets so excited about the little things – and keeps asking when it will finally be her birthday.  To which she asked for a “Peter Pan Birthday” this year – so I’ve been planning for some time. Just trying to be as prepared as possible with baby brother coming in three short months.

Sloan also started Joy School with our darling neighbors one street over – Darren and Tillie.  The three of them didn’t make the official cut for pre-school because they didn’t turn three come September.  I felt so guilty – like Sloan would be behind in some way.  So when my friend and neighbor approached me about doing Joy School with her, I was all in! She went to her first week at the twins’ house and loved every second. She even packed a bag with crayons and plastic fruit, just in case.

This last week was my week to host.  Sloan loved having Darren and Tillie over and to learn about the letter B we baked bread.  It was definitely the highlight of their class, but I should have predicted that.

Truth be told – I’ve been burning fall scented candles for weeks.  And if I’m being honest I’ve been baking fall-ish desserts for even longer. I’m on a serious bran muffin kick – my personal favorite being the apple oat bran muffins I’ve made twice now.  I’ve got a small stock pile in the freezer for now.

But Sloan actually prefers the pumpkin bran muffins.

We officially kicked off fall on September 21st [you know…like the Earth, Wind, and Fire song] by painting pumpkins and eating taco soup out of pumpkin bread bowls.

Speaking of soup, last week I attempted making my own chicken noodle soup from scratch for the first time.  It turned out pretty good – but Sloan was thrown off with the black bats [black bow tie pasta] and pumpkins [carrots].

Maybe chicken BOOdle soup will have to wait a while – until Sloan’s a bit older and not totally freaked out by it.

Zach and I would be lying if we said we weren’t missing Italy in the best way.  Zach’s favorite dish he ate while over there was a seafood dish with calms, mussels, and shrimp in a tomato sauce.  I found a similar recipe online and decided to surprise him and make it.  I wasn’t going to let the mussels and clams intimidate me – or the fact that I had to go into a liquor store and buy white wine nearly 7 months pregnant.  But that’s neither here nor there.

The dish turned out good and the mussels and clams weren’t terrible to master.  They were quite easy once they were dead and cooked [yeah – you cook them live, no big deal]. But now I have a little more experience cooking with live shellfish, I guess?

I’ve been counting down the days until fall session of conference.  I was thrilled when I found out it landed on October 1st – and we decided to kick off Halloween that weekend.  Because October 1st is literally the earliest I think that it is socially acceptable.  I purchased some Halloween jammies for Sloan, a stack of Halloween books, and geared up for both days and all four sessions.

 

Friday morning we made Halloween cookies per Sloan’s request.

They are some of my favorite that we have done thus far.  Sloan literally couldn’t stop laughing at them.  We also made some plain old circles and a few leaf cookies – but they weren’t nearly as fun!

We moved date night to Friday evening so Zach could go to Priesthood session on Saturday [our usual date night].  We went out for Ramen and then saw a movie down town.  It was a great way to kick off the weekend.

Saturday morning Zach let me go for a long run.  I’ve officially hit over 200 miles this pregnancy.  The weather was gloomy but I got back in time for breakfast.

I set up a jar of bribes to keep Sloan’s attention.  I originally had 6 words – but realized how overloaded Sloan would get on snacks. So we settled for her four favorite treats and listened intently to reward her as each word was spoken.  Gummy worms were the crowd favorite, for the record.

It actually did work.  Every time the words were heard, there were cheers all around!  NOTE:  I should have chosen SERVICE as a word for one of the rewards.  I swear we heard it 100+ times.

We also built temples out of blocks – which turned out to be Zach’s favorite activity.  He got WAY more into it than Sloan and I did.

I wish I would have snapped a picture of the futuristic “2040 Temple” he built. 

I made homemade bread during the end of the first session so we could enjoy it during lunch between sessions.  When in Positano I purchased some pesto [two jars] from our favorite little shop and deli.  I made Zach bring it home in his suitcase – in which one of the jars broke and we had to throw away.  But I still had a jar I had been waiting to bust open, and it was just as delicious as I had remembered.  Worth the haul, if you ask me.

The second session was during Sloan’s nap so Zach and I listened together alone. It was so relaxing and I got so much out of the second session.  Soon afterwards Sloan woke up and Zach got ready to go to Priesthood session.  I made manicotti for dinner and we ate together before Zach left.

The next morning I made breakfast and we busted out all things Halloween.  The first session we had a craft and painted a wooden bat.  Thank you Target dollar aisle, we love you!

We also colored and built more block temples.

During the last talk of the first session I sensed Sloan’s boredom and we busted out the next session’s craft [which worked out – because she slept through all but 15 minutes of the last Sunday session].  We made a Haunted Cookie House and it was the highlight of Sloan’s entire day.

(I know I’m a fan already – but TJ’s has some AMAZING pumpkin/fall/Halloween stuff happening right now.  I kind of had a hay-day last week in preparation for conference.)

We enjoyed lunch together and then Sloan napped during the last session.  It was such a good weekend.  I secretly loved the gloomy weather and the fact that we were all set up inside, listening and watching. I baked up a storm and we were all completely full – spiritually and physically.

It will hold us over until spring, I suppose…

 

 

 

 

Summer FOREVER

Summer is not my favorite season.  I’ve always been real about that.  I feel like it might never cool down.  But we’re making the most of it and having a great time!

I should start out with the most important news first, obviously.  I haven’t been great at announcing our second pregnancy and even more importantly that it’s a BOY!

I am due Dec 31st.  New Year’s Eve.  I’m kind of freaking out about it, but I know it will all work out in the end.  No matter what – we have a little girl and a little boy.  We are thrilled!  But I have been horrible at keeping track of anything, really.  I did take one photo at 18 weeks!  I know…pathetic.  But it’s what we have to work with…

I’ve made some goals for this pregnancy.  One of them is to run 300 miles throughout these 9+ months. It doesn’t sound like a lot for avid runners, but it’s a good goal for a chubby pregnant girl.  I ran six miles on the Saturday of my 20th week a while back.  I felt good.  Really good.  I’m not that fast, but distance is really my only goal here.

I feel like I’ve said this 100 times, but this summer has felt abnormally hot.  Maybe it’s that I’m knocked up.  Maybe it’s that I just forget every fall/winter/spring how hot it gets in Utah.  Either way, we’re staying cool the only way we know how:

the pool or splash pad.  Sloan is a really big fan of the SDRC’s pool – or what she calls, “Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship Pool”.  Our neighborhood does food trucks on Thursday nights now at the Splash Pad.  Sloan doesn’t really care for any of the food they have – but now has a fondness for nacho cheese Doritos.

With the new baby coming – there have been a lot of big changes for Sloan.  We have been transitioning her into her BIG GIRL ROOM and she’s obsessed with the whole idea of it.  She hasn’t actually slept in the bed yet (we are waiting on her window shade to come and at the time for the baby’s crib to arrive) but she’s excited nonetheless.

We’ve been slowly converting Sloan’s existing room into a more masculine nursery.  It’s coming super slowly, but we’ll get there eventually.

With all the excitement of the new baby during the holidays, I am trying to be prepared.  I’ve got a huge jumpstart on Halloween and even Christmas.  In fact, Sloan’s entire Christmas is nearly done.  Sound a little crazy?  Yes.  Crazy prepared.  But Halloween comes first, technically.  So I’ve started on Sloan’s request – her Tinker Bell costume.  We’re doing a more modern version, with green chucks instead of green sparkly slippers.

A while ago I got really sick.  So sick, in fact, that I skipped out on going to Lake Powell with Zach’s family.  It’s my favorite family trip we take with the Hendersons, so it was very hard to miss out on all the fun.  But I’m grateful we didn’t go after I progressively got worse and worse.  I felt so guilty being a homebody in the dead of summer – but Sloan was such a good sport.  I did surprise her with a treat from her favorite book – Green Eggs & Ham, though.  We made green eggs and then silly smoothies and she was acting like it was Christmas morning.

M&M’s in the AM wasn’t my best parenting move – but it was worth it for all her excitement.

Recently we went up to Mark and Jeanene’s for dinner on a Sunday evening and Sloan got her grandparents all to herself.  She zipped on the zipline so many times we were all exhausted by the end of the night. 

This girl has no fear.  I pray she’ll make it in one piece to adulthood. 

My mother-in-law got me hooked on salmon sandwiches and I can’t stop – won’t stop.  Zach’s not a huge fan, but I can’t get enough!

It’s definitely healthier than our other favorite grilled entree – Shake Shack burgers.  We replicate these bad boys too often, and we all can’t stop obsessing over them.  It’s the brisket in the burger, I am telling you!

Another summer favorite has become baked peaches.  Sloan mostly eats the ice cream on top, but I can’t complain because it’s much healthier than most desserts.  Zach and I picked up peaches one night for our date night and brought home a bag to keep the sweet treat coming.

A few weeks ago for FHE we took Sloan ice skating.  She did much better balancing on her skates this go around.  She was such a good sport and stayed out there on the ice sheet for much longer than we both guessed she would.  She asks to go back often. 

Along with every other American citizen – we eclipsed.  Sloan was more interested in the glasses than the actual eclipse, but it was such a fun experience.  A big thanks to my mom for the sweet specs!  She threw a Total Eclipse Party the Sunday before and gave us each a pair.  Our contribution was Galactic Brownies and ice cream for dessert.

A few of us ladies got together recently at my MIL’s house to make strawberry jam and Sloan got her fair share of cousin time in.  She also was put to work.  We are officially stocked for the year!

Sloan is SO ready for a sibling.  She’s even more social than I am, if you can believe it.  It doesn’t matter – a group of girls, or a group of boys – she wants to be RIGHT in the middle.  Literally.

I’m itching for fall.  Seriously.  This dry summer weather makes my skin pretty itchy.  But to hold us over, I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins this week.  Sloan loves them and they couldn’t be easier.  I figure we’re SO close to September, anyway.

Our RS Activity for the month of August was a “Back to School S’mores Night” and it turned out super cute.  We had a great turn-out and all took turns roasting mallows on my dollar store roasting troughs.  Nobody seemed to mind the ghetto fabulousness of it all, though.  Bonus:  the chocolate was already good and melty by the time your mallow was roasted – it was 94 degrees outside until the sun went down!

I have a lot of catching up to do – and don’t want to forget the little things.  I guess we’ll let the summer weather stick around.  I don’t want to rush this time one-on-one time with Sloan before baby boy gets here.  I’m going to savor it as much as I can!

Summer So Far

How do I describe our summer thus far?

Smoothies.  Early morning runs – before the sun comes up.  Grilling.  Tuscan cantaloupe.  The splash pad. Shrimp and mango salads. Our neighborhood pool.  Popsicles.  Date nights.  S’mores.  Being in our backyard.  Baking cookies.  Pool parties at Mimi and Papa’s.  Early morning park hopping.

Some other things specifically fall under this list – mainly Bear Lake, Potty Training, and new summer recipes – but we’ll go into more detail on that.

Pineapple and banana is Sloan’s favorite smoothie currently – with avocado and banana with raw honey (I’ve been trying a “gut healing smoothie” and Sloan and I both really love it) coming in second place.

I’ve been running early in the morning – sometimes with my cute neighbor and sometimes by myself.  I’ve mostly always worked out at night, but getting up early before the sun comes up has really changed my life as a mom.  I go on a run before it is too blistering hot, come back and shower, and make breakfast (and smoothies) for my family.  It makes my whole day run smoother and I swear I am so much more productive.  This also means I’ve been going to bed earlier, which has been a huge game changer for me.  This night owl is starting to convert…

We’ve been grilling everything and anything the last few weeks – chicken, fish, steaks, burgers.  It’s one of my favorite things about summer.  Some highlights have been chicken and pineapple kabobs with jasmine rice…

Copy-cat Shake Shack burgers [which were literally OFF THE HOOK]…

We’ve discovered Tuscan cantaloupe from Trader Joe’s (I don’t really know who else sells it?) and it’s made my summer even sweeter.  I love melons, but this is my new favorite!

We frequent our neighborhood splash pad and pool often.  At least once a week, if not more.  Sloan always sees neighbors and friends there and it’s the only way to stay cool in the heat.

A friend of mine introduced me to the shrimp salad (with mango salsa) from Costa Vida.  I’m obsessed and don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.  It’s low calorie and delicious.  Thank you Dena, you’ve made my shrimp dreams come true!

Zach and I have had some great date nights this summer – some favorites have been a night up in Park City dining at the Riverhorse and having s’mores at the Montage hotel afterwards.  We’ve seen our fair share of movies and Zach’s had his fair share of popcorn as well, but none have been as much fun as our night up in PC.

We also had a fun “themed” night – planning a future vacation while eating our favorite pizza.  

Sloan and I love to bake together.  It’s our thing.  Cookies, homemade pretzels, bread, bran muffins.  It’s all the same to her.  It teaches her patience and following directions – and curbs my cravings for sweet treats.

I’ve been meal prepping a lot too – but my new favorite is to make egg white breakfast burritos in bulk, freeze them, and eat them when we have a busy morning.

We’ve been up to Mark and Jeanene’s pool a few times already this summer – and Sloan loves the new zipline Mark just installed.  She loves being with her grandparents and doesn’t get one-on-one time with them very often (it’s hard when there are 28 grandkids) and so we love the time we get them.

And when we’re not at a pool, splash pad, or the like – we’re in the backyard.  Maybe naked.  On her roller coaster.

We’ve also had a few visits to the trampoline park as well.  Sloan goes back and forth – two and fro so fast we can barely keep up.  This place can definitely hold down the fort when it comes to her energy level.

Before the temps creeped up passed the 90’s – we were at the park every single morning.  Sometimes two parks.  That’s even where we spent National Donut Day – Sloan picked the rainbow donut, obviously.

One of my favorite things we did in June was go to the opening of the Farmer’s Market down town.  We spent most of the morning there and the weather was perfect.  We walked around and taste tested all we were allowed until it was time for brunch.

We tried a new place – Tradition – north of Liberty Park.  The banana bread was UNREAL and Zach said the fried chicken and pancakes were amazing.  Sloan loved the fresh flowers at the table the most, though.

Zach had early church meetings a few weeks ago and while he was gone I surprised Sloan and we made “Pinkalicous Cupcakes” – just like her new favorite book.  I captured her expression when she took her first lick of the pink frosting…

I know there’s more – but these were just some of my favorite moments.

We also went to Bear Lake with my parents’ friends and their families.  We didn’t get a whole lot of sleep – but we loved being on the new boat and watching Sloan surf for her first time.  Sloan was super spoiled as well.  Lori and Jessica came prepared with tons of activities for the kids.  Decorating shirts, making slime.  She honestly had the time of her life.

We started potty training a few weeks ago and Zach and I are both floored with how well she has done.  I was dreading the whole process, but Sloan always seems to surprise us.  She had her share of accidents – but nothing compared to horror stories I’ve heard from friends and family.  Now that we are on week two – I feel like we’re finally on the home stretch.  And in a very strange way I feel more empowered as a mom than I ever have.  We can do hard things, this little girl and I. 

I’ve also tried out a few new recipes – some of the winners:

Mango chicken in parchment paper.  Honestly my favorite meal I’ve made all year. Almond crusted halibut with sautéed greens and pomegranate seeds. Martha Stewart’s classic pot roast – Zach picked this as HIS favorite all year. 

I’ve always liked to cook – but I’ve never been great at it.  Years ago when I started eating healthier, it only made sense to start cooking more.  It’s the best way to eat clean, at least for me.  I think I’ve always been terrible with timing, but I’ve finally found my groove. I hope to get better, so I’ll keep practicing.

To Easter and Beyond

I have to start out with the best news first, obviously.  We have another niece, Ruby!  Travis and Lori adopted this gorgeous one-year-old a few weeks ago and she is the perfect addition to the Wayland family.  Since their youngest, Max is actually one – they basically have one-year-old twins!  Ruby is 7 days younger than Max.

We got to visit her a few Sundays ago (and play in Lori and Trav’s sweet backyard) before heading to Sunday dinner with my family.  Hendo baby #28.  We are thrilled for all of them.

As for our Easter, it was wonderful.  It came and went so fast, but not without all the traditions.  First, we died eggs.

Sloan loved it.  She took it very seriously and wanted to dye more than just eggs.  I had to rein her in a few times.

We also made an Easter themed dinner the Thursday before the actual holiday.  Carrot pot cakes (which Sloan figured out were strawberries REAL quick) for dessert were the highlight.

The next day on Friday we had a little neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt and I conned our friends and neighbors into coming with us.  Sloan loved the park more than the actual hunt, but didn’t turn down her share of candy.

The Saturday before Easter I made Sloan a bunny breakfast.  Which she almost combusted when she first laid her eyes on it.  She gets so excited about the little things.

Later that Saturday Zach took Sloan on a daddy-daughter date to the Discovery Museum.  It happened to be Princess Day (who knew?) and Sloan had the time of her life.  Meeting Belle and Moana were highlights, for sure.

Later that afternoon we had my side of the family get together at my brother’s house for an Easter egg hunt.  Sloan was in heaven and got hooked up with the most amazing Easter basket from my parents – complete with gummy bears and Swedish fish.

Then came Easter Sunday.  We got all dressed up and ready for church and then set off to Gina’s house afterwards to have the Henderson Easter Bash.

Now that we officially have a child – Zach is off Easter Bunny duty.  Our nephew Alex has been promoted to that position.  I’m sure he loves sweating his guts out in that smelly bunny suit.  At least we get to take photos all together as a family now!Sloan loved EB – just like years previous.  She got used to giant stuffed animals really quick being a part of this family. 

We had a delicious dinner, had the kids hunt for eggs, and afterwards the adults got to open their adult loot.  It was another great holiday.

The week afterward we had a family dinner date up in Ogden at Tona.  If you haven’t had sushi at Tona, you’re not enjoying sushi to it’s full potential.  Best spot in all of Utah, if you ask us.  Sloan’s favorite is always the miso soup (even the tofu) and rice with soy sauce.  She is her father’s daughter.

April was my month to conduct and teach in Relief Society – and we had an activity at the end of the month as well.  It turned out to be pretty fun.  We did “Speed Friendshipping” – like speed dating, but not awkward, with a little bite-sized dessert at each table.  The sisters seemed to really like it!

Before hand we didn’t have enough desserts for each table [little did I know that we would have far too many once people starting showing up with plates and plates of food] so I panicked and made a batch of sugar cookies with Sloan the morning of.  I didn’t have any small cookie cutters that were considered “bite sized” so I used a cookie cutter from her Melissa and Doug play baking set.  Sloan was over the moon about it and helped with serious concentration and patience.

Our “flower” cookies looked more like suns…but Sloan didn’t mind one bit.

And since we’re talking about baking – I’ve been all about single sheet pan dinners lately.  We’ve tried everything from pork chops to salmon.  But our favorite was a marinated skin-on salmon cooked over green onions and roasted carrots.  We’re saving this one for sure.

I’m pretty sure no other family goes through as much parchment paper as we do between all our sheet pan dinners and baking sessions.

We try to eat healthy…but sometimes we just can’t muster the strength.  Last week I wanted a corn dog in the worst way.  I know, gross.  Not even a famous Kaysville corn dog or a Cowboy corn dog from the Utah Stadium – just a good ‘ole fashioned HDOAS corn dog.  So I made Zach drive down to West Valley with Sloan and I to get our fix.  Sloan has officially made it three generations of HDOAS lovers – her Mimi, her father, and now her.

I know a lot more happened in April than Easter and corn dog cravings – but those were some peaks for sure.  Life with a two-year-old makes every day exciting.  Exciting and a total blur, if I’m being completely honest.

 

March Madness

I know it’s April, but so much happened last month besides Targhee and our St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

In March there was a lot of baking.  Cookies, mostly.  But other things as well.

Cheesecake has been a family favorite.  But I don’t ever give up on those sugar cookies.  I just can’t. I helped host a shower for a sweet girl in our ward and my food assignment was sugar cookies.  So I made three dozen for the shower and I felt like I was eating cookies for the entire month!  

The shower turned out so cute, all thanks to Rebecca and her darling decor!

And my favorite part of hosting showers?  The leftover flowers.

We spent a lot of time outside – there were days when it really felt like spring was going to stay.  It didn’t, but we don’t mind!

And for those days went it wasn’t spring – we painted our toes, made homemade ramen, and went to Kangaroo Zoo.  Which Sloan calls “Kazoo!” for short.

We also went to Beauty and the Beast – which we loved.  Gaston came, too.

Before Targhee, we practiced a lot inside on the carpet snowboarding with our new helmet. 

Only a day after we returned from Targhee, Zach left for Cabo with his friends.  But he didn’t leave us empty handed.  He had a whole bag of surprises for Sloan to open (one for each day he was gone).  He is the most thoughtful person and he even attached a little note for me on each one.

Sloan is beginning to change.  Her personality is mostly the same, but she’s growing up.  Learning a lot, comprehending more than I can imagine, and exploding with emotions (good and bad).  Trips to the store aren’t as breezy as they used to be.  Unless we get a cart with a car.  And find a friend, I guess?

But luckily she is always down for a run in the jogging stroller.  Not without a snack, though. And more snacks upon arriving home.

Some more highlights were going to the Discovery Gateway with our neighbors and friends.  Sloan loved it and loved being with the twins just as much.

I also got to attend my old college roommate, Whitney’s, baby shower.  She’s having a little girl here soon!

I’m lucky that both of my current roommates love pizza.  So I make it often.  Probably too often.

We had a couple dates this month, too.  Our latest involving hot chocolate and macarons.  It was wonderful.  

Not as wonderful, but delicious considering, Sloan and I are addicted to protein bites.  Almond butter + protein powder + raw honey + chocolate chips.  When you want a cookie but you’re trying to eat clean = protein bites! 

It was a great month.  March was one of the best to date.  Our little family of three is making memories that are going to stick.

Hendo Girls do AZ

We’ve had our annual (but not so annual, considering we haven’t done a girls trip since I was still pregnant with Sloan) Hendo Girls trip to Scottsdale this last weekend.  We’ve had it scheduled for a while and it creeped up on me considering we have been going nonstop the last few weeks.  Jan/Feb have been crazy months for me – and March is going to be absolutely bananas for Zach.

We left Thursday morning for Arizona.  We flew out of the storm covering Utah and arrived to sun and mild temperatures in Scottsdale.  First things first:  we ate.  We didn’t even make it to our hotel.  We had a late lunch at a darling little place that came highly recommended from Gina, Arcadia Farms Café.

Afterwards we made it to our hotel to drop off our bags and settle in.  It was gorgeous and the grounds were seriously top notch.

We had a bit of down time before Gina had scheduled us all for hot yoga.  Jeanene and I opted out [I’ve done hot yoga before and was mortified at the smell of the whole experience – myself included] and instead of getting our sweat on we went across and down the street from the yoga studio to eat at Shake Shack.  Jeanene doesn’t even really like hamburgers.  She is such a good sport.

Afterwards we went to pick up the rest of our crew back at the yoga studio.

The next day was spent at the mall.  We shopped, we had lunch, and we shopped some more.  We had dinner afterwards down town, grabbed some Spinkles Cupcakes, and then went back to our hotel for an in-room movie.  We ordered some popcorn, sodas, and treats – which eventually made up for the totally depressing love flick we chose.

The next morning we were up bright and early.  Some of us stayed up later than others watching said depressing movie.  The “wear your sunglasses inside” kinda late…

We had a brunch and then it was time to trapeze.  Yes, I am serious.

Our hotel conveniently offered trapeze classes.  When planning the trip – Gina asked a concierge about nearby hikes.  The concierge asked, casually, “and do you ladies trapeze?”  It was game over after that and we were all signed up to get our swing on.

First, we mentally and physically prepped ourselves.  We observed.  We stretched.  

They didn’t waste any time.  We were briefed, strapped up with harnesses, and then asked to climb the ladder.  The first time was a little overwhelming.  You are given commands – but when hanging and swinging it is a little harder to commit to those directions.  Especially when swinging from your knees!   But after a few tries we got the hang of it.  We even advanced to the next trick – swinging and being caught by our instructor, Efe.  Efe was hilarious, patient, and incredibly gay.  It made sense – no straight man could bend like that, I am telling you.

It was honestly a total blast.  I am so glad Gina singed us up – because I would have never in a million years done something like this if it were just Zach and I at the hotel by ourselves.  Girls Trips will do that to you, I guess.

After freshening up – we made our way back to the mall.  I even convinced a few more people to join us for Shake Shack for lunch.  Again.

We had an early dinner afterwards at a great little Italian place down town.

Then we rushed off to our movie – Hidden Figures – at the nearby AMC.  The movie was amazing and if you haven’t seen it, you must.  It was the perfect feel-good end to our night.

Sunday we all met down in the lobby for our hike up Camelback Mountain.  We made it up to the helicopter pad and Gina, Rachael, and I decided to attempt the steeper and higher elevation climb to the peak.  It was a great little workout and the weather was a dream.  I could live in Phoenix/Scottsdale area in the winter and be happy as a lark.

We showered up, had brunch at Olive and Ivy, and got pedicures and manicures back at the hotel.

Then we went to dinner at my favorite, Bandera.  Even just the cornbread could have satisfied me.  But their Macho Salad is literally life changing.  We drove to find what we deemed the floating sperm (aka the strange art installation with flying/swimming fish creatures in the sky) and then made it back to our hotel for s’mores.

The staff sent us a plate of all the fixings and we put on some layers for the outdoor fire pit.  By layers I mean some of us put on our hotel robes and slippers and made our way out in public to the fire pit.

The next morning we packed our bags, had breakfast, checked out of our hotel, and had one last lunch together before heading to the airport.

I am so grateful that the Hendersons make an effort to do trips together.  Life gets so busy – and we have 27 kids between us!  So getting to spend time alone with my sister-in-laws is a rare occurrence.  I am so glad I got to have a weekend away with them, it really was fantastic.