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…

 

 

 

 

Paris + the Amalfi Coast 2017

I have to start off by saying that I’ve dreamed of going to the Amalfi Coast for so long.  Months ago Zach and I decided we were going to go somewhere before the baby came.  We decided to swing a babymoon/Zach’s Birthday/anniversary trip before I hit 30 weeks.  We discussed where we would go – and thanks to Zika, my dream of visiting costal Italy came to fruition.  I wouldn’t say it was Zach’s #1 choice, but he came around quickly once the planning started.

We’ve been talking logistics for this trip for quite a while – and as each week went on we grew more and more excited to go.  Zach had a great idea to fly the direct flight from SLC to Paris and I couldn’t complain about spending a few days in our favorite city in the whole world.

We left Saturday afternoon and arrived Sunday morning in Paris.  We didn’t waste any time.  We went straight to lunch at one of our favorite cafes near the Madeline.

Afterwards we went baby shopping [Zach’s idea – can you believe it?!] where we found baby boy’s blessing get-up.

The temperatures were dreamy.  We went back to our hotel to change before dinner and walked around the garden near the Louvre before hitting up Cafe Central for dinner.

I didn’t have to convince Zach to get a crepe with a view of the Eiffel Tower, we had the same game plan.

The next morning I drug Zach out of our bed for an early morning run to the Louvre.  My favorite time to go – when the crowds and tourists haven’t shown up yet and we had it almost all to ourselves.

On our run back Zach requested we stop at a breakfast spot he had found and it was so delicious.  They made me a special poached breakfast brioche sandwich with an artichoke pesto.  It was out of this world!

We showered up and got ready to go out for the day.  We did some more shopping in a few different arrondissements.  We stopped in Bonpoint and got a scarf for Sloan for our family pictures coming up and a cozy outfit for baby boy.  While we were checking out – the saleslady asked if we were having a boy or a girl.  I told her we had a little girl at home and a baby boy on the way.  She said, “Oh!  King’s choice!” That’s where we learned that in France, they call one boy and one girl very lucky (or King’s choice) and we heard it each time we mentioned the fact that we were to have one of each from total strangers.  I thought it was sweet and it made me smile each time.

Afterwards we stopped at Laduree for a little snack and then took an Uber to Supreme for Zach.

We walked to the Ile de la Cité and ate at a restaurant called the St. Regis Cafe [Zach loves their burgers].  Afterwards we passed Notre Dame and shopped some more near Les Halles.

Later we had dinner in Le Marais at a new restaurant we both had never been to, but really enjoyed.

We walked around the corner to a popular creperie [I think Le Marais is currently my favorite neighborhood in all of Paris] and enjoyed our crepes as we walked back to our hotel.

The next morning we made our way over to the Orly airport for our flight to Naples.  We arrived in the afternoon and had a car service waiting to take us to Positano.  We made our way along the coast until we arrived.  It was good to familiarize ourselves a little bit with the area before we ventured out on our own.  As we turned the corner and saw Positano down below – I couldn’t help but get teary eyed.  It hadn’t seemed real to me until I saw all those bright beautiful buildings on the cliffs.  We ditched our bags at our AirBNB and changed our clothes to set out and explore.

We walked around and went in and out of shops until it was time to walk back up to the bus stop for our dinner reservation.  Positano has very few roads – and even less parking.  We thought about renting our own car for the duration of the trip, but we are SO glad we didn’t considering how expensive and inconvenient parking is!  In fact, cars are so uncommon there that most of the restaurants have a free shuttle to take you to and from the restaurants.  Our first meal of this leg of our trip was at Da Constantino.  We were picked up by the driver and made our way up the hillside.

The meal was out of this world.  The restaurant received amazing reviews and we were both so excited to try it.  We somehow got a table right by the window with the most amazing view.

Zach ordered the signature dish – homemade pasta with seafood – and I got a fresh grilled fish of the day.  But we both started off with an appetizer of grilled mozzarella on a lemon leaf.  It’s a popular dish in the area and we were not disappointed.

After dinner we rode the shuttle back down and walked from the stop down to the beach.  On our way back up the hill we got gelato and some sodas to go.

We had an early morning the next day.  Before heading down to the beach we stopped at Vini & Panini to get some sandwiches, fruit, and supplies to go.  We made our way down to the dock to pick up our boat rental for the day.  This is what Zach was looking forward to the most about this entire trip.  Most people charter a private boat with a skipper that will take them along the coast.  Not Zach.  He knew he wanted to rent his own boat and be his own captain right from the beginning.  At first I was hesitant.  Not in Zach’s ability to maneuver the boat – but in our knowledge of the coast.  We had a lot planned that we wanted to see and I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to do it with such little experience.  As usual, Zach made the right decision.

They packed us a cooler with ice for our food and sent us on our way.  We didn’t waste any time.  We made our way around the bend – bound for Capri!  We ate our sandwiches [which literally blew us both away – we went back to Vini & Panini several times afterwards] and cruised along the gorgeous coast.

Soon we saw the Fraglioni up ahead.  The iconic rock formation was stunning!  We drove our little boat right through it [4 times] and then continued around the island to the Blue Grotto.

This is the part I was the most nervous about.  The Blue Grotto is a total tourist trap and I didn’t know how it would all work out.  But we couldn’t go to Capri and miss it!  How most people do the grotto is by taking a ferry or hiring a private boat to take you directly out there.  Once you arrive outside – your driver ties his boat to a buoy and these men come out on tiny wooden boats to come get you.  You get off your boat and into theirs, and your driver stays with his boat behind waiting for you.  Then you go to the entrance of the grotto – pay your admission – and the “grotto guy” in the wooden boat takes you inside.  Well, we had our own boat and no driver to stay back on our rental boat for us.  When we showed up there were hoards of boats and no available buoys.  And all of these boats were triple the size of ours.  Zach maneuvered his way, with a little help from some other drivers, and we found a spot and a buoy to tie our boat off to.  After some time I sweet-talked a little Italian man into rowing over to our little vessel to come and pick us up.  Soon, we were on our own little wooden boat and in line to make our way into the grotto.  We arrived when the tide was high and I didn’t realize how difficult getting into the grotto itself actually was.  Our driver told us both to sit down on the bottom of the boat and “get down”.  We were confused, but did as he said.  He grabbed a chain alongside the rock wall near the entrance of the grotto and launched us inside, laying completely down on top of us as he pushed through.

Once inside, the light of the sun illuminates the water in the grotto and the results are incredible!  It glows bright blue, much brighter than I expected.

Our driver sang us a song and gave us a little history lesson as he rowed us around inside.  It was totally worth it, and someday I want to go back after hours and swim in it myself – without a boat.  Obviously not recommended, but Zach and I aren’t exactly by-the-book, anyway.

Once we exited the grotto and our driver dropped us back to our boat – we were relived to see nobody had ransacked our little boat and that it was still securely attached in it’s parking place.  We backed our way out of the crowds and continued around the island.  There were waterfalls, little coves, and gorgeous houses on the cliffs.  We arrived at the main port and someone came out to dock us and bring us into the island.

We were both starving and had a late lunch at a restaurant with a great view of the water.  It was Zach’s favorite meal of the trip.  He got another order of the signature pasta and I had the most amazing avocado, pineapple, and fresh tomato salad.

We’re definitely going back there when we make it back to Capri one day.

We didn’t stay on the island very long.

We went into some shops and then hopped back on our boat.  We decided we wanted to see more of the coast instead of walk and explore more of Capri itself.

We made our way back – stopping to see a few little towns along the way, looking for the secret beaches, and then making it back into the bay of Positano.  We anchored our boat and ate the rest of our fruit while we laid in the sun.

We then returned our boat and walked back up the hill to our apartment to get ready for dinner.

We had some time so we walked down to the beach during the “golden hour” before heading back up to Da Vincenzo.

We had to take a little detour [of about 2,000 steps up a steep hill] but it was worth it.  This was my favorite meal of the trip, by far.  I got a homemade pasta with lemon zest and shrimp.

Zach got the grilled calamari and another fish dish.  I would recommend this restaurant to everyone and anyone.  But you have to make a reservation ahead of time and ask to sit outside.  The view is unbeatable.

We walked back those same steps down to water to get gelato for dessert, then back to our place.

The next morning was even earlier than the one before.  We had the same car service, La Mommola, pick us up at the bus station near our apartment bright and early in the morning.  This day was a bunch of my requests – which I know Zach wasn’t completely ecstatic about.  Our driver took us to Sorrento – where we rented our own little Fiat 500 to drive to Pompeii.  We were really lucky, because this was the only day that projected rain in the forecast.  As soon as we rented our car and stopped for some sodas it started to rain, hard.  We were safe and warm inside our little rental, though, and zipped down the coast to Pompeii.  Like I said, Zach wasn’t thrilled about taking a whole day to see an archeological site, but I promised him it would be worth it.  Once we got there the crowds had dispersed.  We found a killer parking spot and entered the site.  There was hardly anyone there – we assume the rain had driven almost everyone away.

Most people spend half of a day – and some even entire days exploring the site.  But we made it through in 1.5 hours.  In under those two hours – Zach devoured a whole can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and a bag of Doritos.

We didn’t want to pay for a private guide (100 euros and up!) so we downloaded a free professional tour (along with a map on our phones) via Podcast and made our way to each highlight.  Long story short:  Zach enjoyed it even more than I did.  I had been warned how hot Pompeii can get.  There are zero trees which means no shade and temps were supposed to be high 80’s that day.  Luckily, the recent rain meant overcast skies and it was beautiful.  We saw a bunch in such a short amount of time and then made our way back to our rental car.

Seeing the victims was the most humbling part.  It was amazing to see how these people lived their lives and a little eerie to see how their lives ended.

Afterwards, we drove around Mt. Vesuvius to Naples to get some lunch.  Eating pizza in Naples has been on my bucket list forever – and we got to check it off (twice if you count the fact that we actually came away with two giant pizzas).  We went to one of the oldest and most famous pizzerias in the city – L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.  The line was crazy long at 3:00 pm.  We waited outside until Zach had the brilliant idea to do a take-away order.  We ordered two mozzarella pizzas (they only make mozzarella or marinara, that’s it!) and decided to eat it on the street.  We purchased some sodas at a nearby cafe and the shop owner let us sit at one of her tables to enjoy our spoils.  It was by far the best pizza we’ve ever had.  Totally worth the hype, and Zach agreed even worth the drive.

After we finished our pizza we made our way back to Sorrento.  Driving through Naples was a total circus.  I’m convinced our prayer for we set off in our little Fiat saved us a few times on those streets.  I thought Rome was madness on Vespas – Naples in a car was absolutely terrifying!

Once we arrived in Sorrento, we dropped off our rental car and then walked to our dinner reservation at Il Buco.  It was our very first experience at a Michelin starred restaurant.  It got amazing reviews [as you’d expect – they don’t give out stars for nothing] and it did not disappoint.  The bread selection alone was enough to impress us both.

They asked us what we were celebrating for dinner and I told them the truth – our anniversary, our second baby, and Zach’s birthday.  So they set us up in this little private cove all to ourselves and after our gorgeous entrees – sent us out a plate of bite-sized desserts.

We finished up late and took a taxi back to our apartment in Positano.

The next morning we woke up and walked straight down to the dock to catch a ferry to Amalfi.  We debated on which cities to see, and decided Amalfi would be best for that particular day.

We walked the streets, got lemon sorbet, and saw the main square and explored until we went back to Positano.  On a whim, I convinced Zach to wait at the dock with me to try and get onto the Da Adolfo boat.  It’s a long story, but this infamous restaurant called Da Adolfo is impossible to get reservations at.  Everyone goes crazy for it, and the recommendations are never ending.  So, before our trip I called them.  I called maybe 14 times to get a reservation.  Nobody picked up the phone, not even once.  I heard that if you are lucky, you can hop on the boat with the red fish and catch a ride out to the private beach where the restaurant is.  Sometimes they have availability for lunch and if you’re lucky you can get a table.  We saw the boat arrive and hopped on with 5 or 6 other couples.  We met a nice couple from New York that had been waiting with us on the dock to get a ride on the boat.

As soon as we approached the dock I hopped off the boat and ran up to the little shack.  Yes, literally a shack.  The restaurant is built on stilts on the rocky beach and the kitchen is in a tiny white house up on the hill.  I was first in line and asked if there was any availability.  Zach and I got a table, along with another couple behind us, but that was all the available room they had.  Turns out we even had to share a large table for six with two other couples – and the couple that was already seated at our table had already been there for over an hour waiting for their spot.  The couple from New York we rode out with didn’t even get a spot.  The whole thing was so bizarre.  Nobody came over and took our order for quite a while.  I mean, at least an hour.  But we were happy – munching on the complimentary bread and sipping on sodas.  We got a table right by the water and group after group started showing up for their reservations on the same little boat with the red fish that we came to the beach on.

How they got these reservations is beyond me, honestly.  But they kept showing up.  Soon the place was absolutely packed – not a single seat was empty.  Then our waiter took our order and later brought out our food.  We both got the special – pasta with shrimp and started off with their mozzarella on a lemon leaf.

The pasta was unreal and although the shrimp completely intimidated me, it is one of my favorite pasta dishes I’ve ever tasted.  Then the situation got even weirder.  I heard that the boats stopped coming to the little private beach around 1:00 and take a break for lunch.  Little did we know they don’t come in OR out for three hours.  Zach and I contemplated waiting two more hours at the restaurant and decided we wanted to get back to Positano to spend our afternoon on the beach.  So we called a private water taxi to come and get us to take us back to Positano.  Best 10 euro we’ve ever spent.  One of the couples who shared our tables asked to split our taxi with us – which was even better!

Once we made it back to Positano I wanted to get some custom leather sandals made.

I quickly got sized before walking back up the hill to our apartment.  We changed our clothes, freshened up a bit, and then made our way back down to the shop where my sandals were ready and waiting for me – and they fit like a freaking glove!

Then we went down to the beach and rented some lounge chairs and umbrellas, which was another strange politics thing we didn’t know about.  The main beach of Positano has rows of beach chairs.  You can’t just sit on any chair – you pay for a chair and an umbrella and you pay depending on which row.  Front row is most expensive, then second row, then so on.  We decided we weren’t fancy and that third row would suit us just fine.  You pay at a kiosk at the entrance of the beach and then a lifeguard leads you to the chairs HE wants you to sit at.  I was nice to the lifeguard and asked him about his day – and even though we only paid for third row, he gave us a front row available spot.  He didn’t seem to mind when I hugged him in appreciation.  We stayed there – swimming in the ocean, laying in the sun, looking for sea glass, and taking in the scenery until it was time to back to our apartment to shower for our dinner reservation.

After getting ready to go out for the night we made our way up a windy road to our dinner spot.  Just our luck – the entire restaurant had been rented out for a private party and they couldn’t honor our reservation.  So we decided to head down to the water and eat somewhere with a beach front view.  It was our least favorite meal, but still delicious.  We were laughing about how it was the Olive Garden of Positano.  The only menu we read the entire trip that was entirely in English (this is usually a bad sign, FYI).  People often tease me about my research on food and my reservation quirk.  I hate going somewhere without reservations.  I don’t know why – it’s just a thing I have I guess.  And this experience reaffirmed that I am not a total nut job!  It really does pay to do a little research and find a table that comes highly recommended.  Or else all you get to experience is the Olive Garden of Positano.  But the gelato that night made up for our mediocre meal.  Half hazelnut – half chocolate for the win!

It was our last full day in Positano and we spent the remainder of it buying souvenirs for all the people at home taking care of our Sloan (mostly lemon chocolate and lemon candy) and exploring the city a little more.  We headed back afterwards and did some laundry – one of the biggest perks of our AirBNB was not only location, but that we could do laundry in the privacy of our own kitchen.  Then we packed our bags to go back to Paris.

The car service picked us up bright and early at 6:30 am and drove us back to Naples to catch our flight to Paris.  It was sad leaving our little apartment.  The drive back was dreamy though – through Sorrento and a few other little coastal towns.

We arrived in Paris in time for a late lunch at Les Antiquaires near the D’Orsay.

Then we walked across the river to the Louvre and took our photo – the same photo we have taken ever time we have visited Paris together.

Afterwards we took the metro to a few stores on Champs-Elysse.  We had a dinner reservation but were both still completely full from our intense lunch.  So we wandered around and decided to ditch dinner for one last crepe.  Worth every calorie and I swear this particular crepe guy smeared half the bottle of Nutella on mine.  I wasn’t mad, though.

We got some sodas and walked back to our hotel.  We had an early night and packed our bags for our departure in the morning.

I woke up early for one last run around the city.  I ran over and down the street where Zach and I first stayed on our study abroad together – off of Grenelle.  The hotel has been completely remodeled and renamed, but it was still fun to see it.  I also saw the restaurant we’ve been going to up the street [We actually didn’t dine at it this time, and ironically it’s called Pizza Amalfi.  We knew it wouldn’t live up to real Italian pizza, so we skipped out this trip.] since our first trip to Paris together back in 2007 – 10 years ago!  It was a short run but just what I needed before the long flight home.  It felt nostalgic to me. I have a feeling we won’t be back to Paris for a while.  With the new baby coming I know it’s only going to be more and more difficult to travel with Zach.  So it was bittersweet to see these little landmarks – it will hold me over for a while.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle with only enough time for me to grab some macarons for my family at Laduree to go in my carry-on.  We were one of the last people to board our flight.  Poor Zach’s television monitor in his seat didn’t work the entire flight – so we shared mine and watched an entire season of Suits on our way back home.  We were completely shocked when Delta credited us 5,000 sky miles for the trouble!

This trip was an absolute dream.  I can’t even talk to people about it without tearing up.  It’s so hard leaving Sloan – but worth it for the time I get to spend with Zach.  Even just talking to him, uninterrupted, for 8 days was enough for me.  It was magic and I’ll never be able to repay Zach for the time and effort he put into helping me plan this trip.  Even though this wasn’t number one vacation destination, I think it totally won him over.  And I’m smitten.  Forever.

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!

30 / Las Vegas

Zach.

He is the best husband that there ever was.

I woke up on the morning of my birthday to surprise after surprise.  I heard Sloan wake up and went into her room.  Once we were both up and ready we went downstairs.  Zach had a full spread waiting for us.  Bagels and cream cheese, fruit parfaits, muffins.  He even had balloons, decorations, and cards.

In one card he gave me some spending money for our weekend out of town.  The other card told me to hurry and get ready, because he had a babysitter coming over and we were going to spend the afternoon at the spa.  I couldn’t believe how thoughtful the whole gesture was.  Once she arrived, we drove up to Layton for our couples massage.

It was so relaxing and enjoyable and when I got ready to leave – he took me into one of the private rooms for a foot soak.  He had a large Diet Coke, sandwiches, and my favorite treat – a Cutler’s cookie – waiting for me.

Once we got back home – Sloan had just woken up from her nap.  We played the rest of the day together, honestly doing nothing productive at all.  As I moved from room to room, I would notice little notes Zach had left me around the house.  He even left me a note in my car.  I couldn’t help but tear up every time I read one.  It made my whole day – even more than the spa and the amazing breakfast.

It was honestly a perfect day.  I am not big on birthdays for myself.  I always try to make them special for Zach and Sloan, but mine I could take or leave.  But this particular birthday was the best I’ve ever had, by far.  Zach always makes things so fun and special, and he really went above and beyond to make it wonderful.

That weekend we had planned to go to Las Vegas for a quick getaway.  We stayed at the Encore (first time for the both of us) and Zach literally let me do all of my favorite things:  sleep in, work out, eat, and shop.  It may sound uneventful to some – but that’s my kind of vacation.  We arrived there Friday afternoon.  We had lunch at the Cafe at the Wynn – where they have my favorite salad in all of creation.

We took an afternoon snack break at Sprinkles, for a red velvie.

Then we took an Uber to the Forum Shops.  We spent most of our time at Nike and stopped in a few other places until it was time for our dinner at Joe’s.

We shopped around some more and then made our way back to our hotel.

The next morning we both went to the spa.  I had an appointment for a facial (my first one ever) and Zach wanted to enjoy the spa amenities.  The facial was amazing – in fact, I’ve been converted.  I don’t think I could pick a massage over a facial now that I have experienced one for myself.  She did put some amazing product on my lips, which I loved, but gave them a tingly sensation.  I would later realize that “tingle” was numbness and I wouldn’t regain feeling in my lips until the next morning.  But still…I loved it and would do it again in a second.

We later had lunch at Shake Shack.

We then spent the majority of the day at Fashion Show Mall and Zach wins the award for most patient husband.  I don’t even want to know how long we were in Zara – I can’t think about it.

We then went to dinner at Momofuku.  It was already packed when we got there at 6:30 – luckily, Zach got a reservation.  When we arrived I was totally bummed they didn’t have chicken pho on the menu, like their New York location.  But, the waiter assured me I would love the “chicken noodle soup”.  It wasn’t until my first taste of my dish that my faith had been restored.  Even though the menu was completely different – it was so very good.  He can do no wrong, that David Chang.

We stopped on our way out at the Milk Bar – where Zach treated himself to something coated with cereal that he really liked.

We contemplated going to a movie, but decided to take a suggestion from my sister-in-law Gina about the “Feature Presentation” that they offer at the Wynn hotels.  When we got back we ordered two candies, a buttered popcorn, and two sodas in CANS and ordered a movie to our room.  I had no idea they even offered this – and it was totally worth it (and less expensive than a real movie with all the trimmings, I might add).  It was an absolute home run!  (Thank you Gina!)

We slept in and packed up the next morning, eager to get home to Sloan.

A lot of my friends have been struggling with the thought of turning 30, but I feel the opposite.  I feel good.  I am excited.  My 30-year-old self is completely content.  I never dreamed as a teenager I would be in love and married to my best friend (well, I hoped…but I didn’t KNOW), have the sweetest little soul for a daughter, and to be able to make memories with them every single day.

Ask me how I feel at 50, ok?

Because 30 is actually pretty bomb, guys.  

 

 

 

 

In No Particular Order: January

I can’t believe I’m saying this and risking jinxing it all – but my New Year’s resolutions are actually going great!  I love to bake and cook and have really made an effort over the last few years to make healthy and somewhat satisfying meals for our family.  Some they like, some I like.  And there are even a few we all like!  I was craving corn bread randomly one day and decided to make cornbread and turkey chili.  I found the best recipe on Yummly and it was a hit!  It’s even made with yogurt instead of oil, so it was even lower calorie.  IMG_5737 I love turkey chili – though not everyone in our house does (ZACH) everyone gave it a go and it turned out great.  If you ask Sloan and I, that is.  IMG_5743 One evening after Zach got home from work we rushed over to a pond nearby our house that had completely frozen over.  It was the perfect time and place for some more ice skating.  Sloan was in heaven.  I was frozen solid.  I wish they had a one-piece onesie in my size.  I don’t know if I am just getting old or what…but I’ve been freezing this entire winter season. IMG_5896 IMG_5897 Sloan experienced Play-doh for the first time and acted like it was the most revolutionary thing to happen to her since cheese.  If you know her – cheese is the end all be all.IMG_5983Sloan and I went to Kangaroo Zoo one afternoon when she was up from her nap.  It was a stormy day, so it was great to get out of the house for a bit.  Sloan loved all the slides and blow-up activities…but she was more concerned about the chairs being all organized a certain way.  She gets that trait from me, poor thing…
IMG_5984 We got Sloan her second haircut this month.  It was much needed.  Her hair is growing faster than it seems possible.  We are actually due for another one this week! IMG_5985 One night for FHE we made homemade pizzas.  It was super easy – store bought dough and sauce – but it was a blast!  They actually tasted much better than I expected, too.  Artichokes were the hero, I’m telling you…IMG_5986 Sloan’s Bubba (my brother) bought her a coon hat at Cabella’s and Sloan has been a big fan.  Like, wearing it instead of her shirt, kinda fan.  IMG_5987 Zach begged me to make manicotti a few weeks ago.  I’m not a huge fan of the dish, but I try to be a decent wife once in a while.  I was convinced Sloan wouldn’t last through dinner prep – but was surprised at how much she loved helping me fill all the noodles with the cheese filling.  She helped me stuff 12 noodles – barely moving a muscle. IMG_5988Recently Zach and I had a date night:  Pizzeria Limone and the Jazz game.  Because pizza is always on the top of my list and because SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS is on Zach’s list all day erry day.
IMG_5989 We had Classic’s company seats and they did not disappoint.  PS – Did you know there is a Swig counter at the Vivint Smart Home Arena?  Yeah, it’s true. IMG_5990 The weather hasn’t been ideal the last few weeks for snow sports.  We’re dying to take Sloan up snowboarding, but it keeps storming on us.  Luckily, she is just as happy to be indoors and being pulled around on the carpet by Zach.  She even learned a new trick:  a board grab.  While wearing her coon hat, but that’s not surprising.  We are in the “dressing ourself” phase and I’m actually not mad about it.IMG_5991

Conference Weekend

A few months ago Zach and his brothers planned a “Sports Trip” aka boys weekend going to every sport possible and it landed on Conference weekend.  He left Friday and Sloan and I wasted no time kicking off our girl’s weekend, just the two of us.  First we hit up Cross E Ranch, in North Salt Lake.  Sloan thought it was a huge hit.  The slide, the corn pit, the tractor rides.
img_4552Of all the activities – Sloan loved the tractor the best.  The sweetest employee at the ranch even gave her a private ride on the big red tractor.  It was the highlight of our visit.
img_3927 I was finding corn kernels all over the car and our house for DAYS afterwards.  img_3938 img_3902

Not in order – but still important – I got to go out with a few of the ladies in my neighborhood for a Girls’ Night this week as well to the Dodo.  Any excuse to be with friends and eat their turkey sandwich and I’m in!
img_3879 Sloan also got her first hair cut.  Some would argue it was unnecessary…but it needed to be trimmed up and evened out.  She did so great.  She literally barely moved a muscle.  I can’t decide if she was nervous or if she was holding me to my promise of an ice cream cone if she behaved.  Either way, I was so proud of her.  img_3889Saturday came and we had zero plans during the day other than watching conference.  So that’s what we did.  While I was prepping Sloan some snacks for our long haul – I turned around and noticed she had grabbed a blanket and was already curled up on the couch watching.  Let it be known that she lasted ALL FOUR SESSIONS of conference.  If she wasn’t watching, she was playing quietly nearby.
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We also made blood splatter cookies [from the Cutler’s recipe] and delivered them to some of Sloan’s friends around our neighborhood.  It didn’t occur to me until we had already dropped them off them off that it might be a little creepy to give a bunch of kids under the age of 6 bloody ANYTHING.  They were really good, though.  So hopefully that made up for the gruesomeness.
img_3979We have a serious influx of crayons at our house.  Sloan goes through a box of crayons faster than a box of goldfish crackers.  They are either broken or unwrapped and THEN broken or lost within days of buying a new box.  So instead of feeding this bad crayon habit we have – I decided to melt down all the broken pieces in the microwave and make some gem crayons.  Sloan loves them (especially the fact that they change colors often) and they are even easier for her to hold because of the size.
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I loved Conference so much.  My favorite session being the morning session on Saturday, but all of it was wonderful.  I’m so grateful that Sloan was so well behaved and enjoyed listening [especially to the choir] along with me so I could feel the spirit and enjoy all of the messages.

Before we left for our family trip we had a rainy day.  It just felt right to have chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sloan had never had chicken noodle soup and thought it was the most amazing thing she had ever tasted.
img_3997 I also tried a new taco recipe [mostly because I was getting so amped to go to Mexico] and love how they turned out.  Mahi mahi grilled tacos with cabbage and mango and avocado salsa.  img_4012

Zach had a fantastic time on his trip with this brothers and brother-in-laws.  They went to three sporting events in three days and were back in time for work on Monday.

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It was just a snippet of family time before all 40 Hendersons left for our family trip to Mexico.