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.

La Jolla 2017

I’ll be completely honest:  I get a little emotional every time I think or talk about this trip.  I had been asking Zach if we could go on a family vacation for a few months prior and he planned this trip – without any help from me at all – and it couldn’t have gone better.

We flew from SLC > San Diego on Thursday afternoon and I would cringe each time I would think about the timing before we left.  We had to leave for the airport right at the beginning of Sloan’s nap.  So I let her skip it – hoping she would get some rest on the flight.  She was so amped once it was our time to board she could have cared less who she got on the plane with [thank you kind businessman who humored her].

As if a gift from heaven – we got to ride on a brand new Delta aircraft that had TVs in the headrests complete with boat loads of free movies.  Moana and Beauty and the Beast got us on our way.   And after she got bored of watching her shows we messed around with Play Doh, which was honestly the hero of the whole flight.  She played quietly for the remainder of the trip there.  

When we arrived we grabbed our baggage and picked up our rental car.  Sloan took a 30 minute nap in the car while we drove to La Jolla and got all checked in at our hotel.

I unpacked all our gear while Zach and Sloan ventured out to the beach.  They didn’t waste any time at all.

Zach booked us a beach front room – so the sand was less than 10 feet away from our door!  They both got soaking wet and sandy and I ordered food for dinner to our room from one of the hotel restaurants.  We put Sloan down to bed, grabbed the baby monitor [I know I am super repetitive…but if you travel with kids you MUST pack your baby monitor] and went out to the beach for our bonfire date.  Zach scheduled with the hotel in advance and they set up a beach bonfire for us complete with a s’mores kit!  The best part was that they did everything.  Hauled the fire pit out to the beach, set us up with chairs and towels, and left the s’mores get-up in our room.  All we had to do is walk out a few steps and start up the fire!


We ended up doing it our first two nights and I looked forward to it throughout the entire next day.

The next morning Zach let me run off all my s’mores from the night before with a glorious 4 mile run.  The weather was perfect.  Meanwhile – Zach and Sloan checked out the park the hotel had in the sand.

Then we all walked over to the pool and swam until lunch time.

We practically had the whole place to ourselves.  We got food poolside and relaxed in our loungers.

I’m not huge on “pool food”.  It’s usually chicken strips, nachos, and the like – but they had the most amazing hummus wrap that I could have ordered every single day.  Zach was elated to have hamburgers and chicken quesadillas along with Sloan.  The food actually surprised us.  You never know when you stay somewhere new how the service and food is going to be – and we were all pleased with everything.  I was already telling Zach we needed to come back and we hadn’t even left the place yet!

I took Sloan back to the room to nap afterwards and then met Zach out on the sand in front of our door to lounge for a bit.  When Sloan woke up we promised her we would build a sand castle – and we really went for it.  We built and re-built tower upon tower for 3+ hours!


Afterwards we all showered up and went to dinner at the Shores nearby.  All three of our meals were a home run.  They had me sold from the second they handed us piping hot bread as we sat down.

After dinner I got Sloan ready for bed and Zach ran to a nearby grocery store for some supplies.  Our room had a full kitchen and dining room so we decided to stock up on breakfast food and soda for the remainder of the trip.  He also got more s’mores supplies.  We had ourselves another bonfire and the weather was even better than the night before.

The next morning I explored the fitness center and had a run barefoot on the beach.  It was crazy crowded for 8 in the morning.  There were surfers, lots of other runners, a few yoga groups, and tons of families already out scoping their spots.  Luckily our place had a private beach – so I zoned in on a spot of our own and had some of the staff set us up some chairs and umbrellas.  We decided to go the same route as the day before – pool first, lunch, then beach.  Two little girls even shared their pool toys with Sloan and she couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Sloan rarely sits still.  At all.  But she went so hard at the pool on Saturday that I got a lengthy towel-wrapped cuddle.  I was afraid to breathe too deeply in fear she might wiggle away from me.

We had lunch and then took Sloan back to the room for a nap.  While she rested Zach played a round of golf and I binge watched Anne with an E on Netflix.  I know there are mixed reviews on it – but I LOVED IT [yes, I finished it already thanks to Zach’s late night hockey games] and would recommend it if you are an Anne of Green Gables fan!

When Sloan woke up we hit up the beach.  Sloan made some friends – who shared their “hot tub” with her and even some slices of watermelon.

Afterwards we showered up and took a little drive to the San Diego Temple.  Sloan kept calling it a “giant castle” and we happened to be walking around the grounds when a beautiful bride walked out of the doors.  She kept calling her a princess and waving.  It made me feel a little bit guilty about not taking her to Disneyland while we were there.  But…we just can’t.  Yet.

And because it was so convenient on our drive home – I made Zach stop at Sprinkles for a small box of cupcakes.

We fed Sloan dinner back at the hotel, had one more round of fun on the beach, and then got her tucked into bed.  We had dinner plans with just the two of us – which Zach set up.  He got us food sent out to the beach where a fancy table was waiting for us – literally 12′ from our room.  Grilled chicken, mahi mahi, asparagus, and chips and salsa.  Plus drinks and our cupcakes for dessert.

It was the perfect finale to our trip.  All three of us were sullen when Sunday morning came.  We spent the morning packing up and then grabbed lunch before heading to the airport.  Sloan did incredible on the flight home.

She even fell asleep when we were taxing to our gate and stayed asleep until we got in the car to drive home.

When we got home and unpacked, Zach and I were sitting in our bedroom together and had a chance to talk about the weekend.  We both agreed it was the best family trip we could have hoped for.  I can’t thank him enough (and haven’t stopped since we got home) for all the time and thought he put into the prep for this vacation.  Planning a long weekend away with a toddler is never simple – but it was honestly so relaxing and enjoyable.  We are honestly going back – hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

Targhee 2017 / St. Patty’s

Targhee with the Hendersons was a little later than usual this year.  It happened to fall over the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day!  So – to keep up with tradition – we had our St. Patty’s Day dinner a few nights before heading up to WY.

We decorated with left-over decorations from Sloan’s 2nd Birthday. Balloons and streamers make a simple rainbow, and Sloan thought it was the greatest thing she had ever seen.

We spread out some chocolate coins and gold paper plates and we were set! Homemade green bread and rainbow linguine were on the menu.  Sloan enjoyed playing with the colorful noodles more than anything, and Zach and I got to eat a full hot meal without any distractions.  So I’d call that a definite win!

We continued the rest of the week making green meals, in good fun. I tried the most delicious chicken artichoke pesto pasta recipe that all three of us went crazy over.  I’ve already got it on the menu again for this week.

Thursday after Zach got off of work we packed up the car and drove up north.  The drive went so smoothly – the best road trip to Targhee we’ve had to date.  Sloan read books, we all listened to music, and we finished the ride with a showing of Beauty and the Beast.  We arrived at the resort around 8:30 pm.  We unloaded and got Sloan into bed and then unpacked all our supplies in our room.

When Sloan woke up – the Leprechaun had left her something in our room.  I love this age – everything is so magical and I don’t want it to ever change.  Her favorite item in her basket?  A tiny green cutting board of her own to help me with dinner prep.

That morning was Gina and I’s meal assignment – a Leprechaun Breakfast!  Lucky Charms, green french toast, and little green footprints leading towards the “pot o’ gold” that the pesky leprechaun had left the kiddos.  They loved every bit of it and a real leprechaun ended up gracing us with his presence (aka Zach is the creepiest costume to date).  Sloan was unsure at first, but that didn’t stop her from grabbing her loot out of the cauldron when it was her turn.

Then we dropped Sloan off at the Kids’ Club so Zach and I could snowboard together for a few hours.  To be honest, I was extremely hesitant to do this.  Zach told me it would be pointless for us to drive all the way up there and both not ski.  So he set up Sloan to stay in the Kids’ Club for half a day to test the waters.  Long story short:  she ended up doing great and didn’t want to leave when her time was up.

Zach and I even got 8 runs in together with a few other members of his family before lunch time!

When it was time to go pick her up we got to spy on her through the windows.  She loved having her cousins Cole and Clark in there with her!

As soon as Sloan woke up from her nap back at our room we all set off for some snowboarding time together.  We took Sloan on the kiddie lift for the first time and she was in awe the whole time.  I will say though, snowboarding with a toddler goes a lot smoother when it is in the morning – not in the afternoon.  We learned that the first day and didn’t make the mistake again.

That night we had dinner at the Branding Iron to celebrate Jeanene’s birthday [which was actually on Sunday, but we wanted all of us to be together to celebrate].  Sloan hung out with her older cousins while all the adults ate peacefully downstairs in the restaurant below them.

The next morning we did some earlier snowboarding together as a family.  Sloan enjoyed it so much more in the earlier hours and did amazing on her little board – especially considering the snow conditions.  It was icy and it made her go extra fast down that little bunny hill.

Cole and Sean and Siri came out for a bit, too and Sloan got to shred alongside her closest cousin for a bit.  It’s so nice having these two only a few weeks apart – Sloan adores Cole! 

After our shred sesh we dropped Sloan back off at Kids’ Club and she couldn’t have been happier.  Zach and I got more time to snowboard together and met up with the majority of his family members and some of our nieces and nephews.

Part of the crew on the crest.
Mark the Shark and I cutting up some corduroy.  Zach and I on the cat tracks. 

It was all so much fun and so great to be together.  When I picked Sloan up from Kids’ Club she was bummed to leave, but when we got back to our room she took a KILLER nap.  When she woke up we went swimming at the pool along with a few of her cousins.

We had taco night in Mark and Jeanene’s room and then made our way back to our room to put Sloan to bed.

We left the next morning after Zach got a few runs in and I packed up our gear.  We made it home before dinner time and in record breaking fashion unpacked the car and ALL our bags before we passed out for the night.

Targhee is always such a great time – and we were blessed with amazing weather while we were there.  So grateful the Hendersons keep this tradition going, we never want it to stop!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  

 

 

 

 

Dirty 30 in Palm Springs

I’m going to be 30.  In less than a week, but who’s counting?  My high school friends and I decided we needed to do something to celebrate this milestone and we voted to go on a Girl’s Trip.  We debated on several locations:  but Palm Springs won out for the most convenient + best weather.

We had booked the flights and vacation home several weeks in advance, and the trip totally snuck up on me!

We flew into Palm Springs late on Thursday night.  We didn’t arrive until after 10 pm.  We went straight to grab our luggage and then to pick up our rental car.  Once all was settled (and crammed into the back seat of our crossover) we drove to a nearby grocery store for some supplies.  Little did we know that we would be returning to this said grocery store every day (some days multiple times a day) during this trip.  Thank you Ralph’s for putting up with us!  They even had Sea Salt Caramel Halo Top in stock – so I couldn’t have been happier.

The property we rented was one of my favorite parts about the trip.  My mediocre iPhone photos don’t do it justice.  Whitney is the one with a professional camera.  The pool was in and of itself a game changer.

home 2

home 3

One day my dream is to have a lap pool in my backyard.  Swimming laps is one of my favorite things to do for exercise.  One day.

home copy

We unloaded our groceries, unpacked our bags, and settled in.  True to form – we didn’t call it a night until well passed 3:00 am.

The next morning we woke up to rain.  We had breakfast, showered up, and went to lunch at Bill’s Pizza.  I wasn’t expecting it – but it was actually one of my favorite meals of the entire trip.

After lunch we hit up the outlets just outside of Palm Springs.  They had nearly every store you could think of.  Their Lululemon Outlet even had a 30 PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING sale.  Britt and I were over the moon.  Since the rain didn’t let up, neither did we.  We weren’t finished until it was nearly closing time.

The next day was warm and sunny.  I went on a run before the rest of my crew was up and at ’em.  I had been dreaming of it for weeks.  Running on the treadmill has had me gloom and doom lately, so running amongst all the mid century modern homes and palm trees was like a little slice of heaven.

running outside

I got back, had breakfast, and showered up for the day.  Since the weather was good – we grabbed lunch and then drove over to Indian Canyons for a hike.  The first route was short, but it was my favorite.  There was a natural spring coming down the canyon with palm trees lining nearly the whole way.  It was so picturesque and the temperature was perfect.

We did a second hike – called Palm.  It was short and sweet as well, but a great view and more of a desert landscape mix.  It was the perfect activity for the warmest day of our trip.

Later we had dinner at Trio – a surprisingly busy restaurant down town.  We stayed up again – way passed 3:00 am – and awoke very slowly the next morning.

We all weren’t up and ready until the afternoon and decided to get a late lunch at Melvyn’s [Britt’s request – it was one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurants].

The chicken pot pies were bigger than expected, but it hit the spot on our rainy afternoon.

After our late lunch the rain wasn’t letting up.  So instead of staying at the house, I convinced a few to go back to the outlets with me.

We shopped around until closing time, returned home, and then went and picked up some pho for dinner.

We ended our night with a swim in the heated pool while it rained!

The next day we had to be up earlier in order to get ready, pack up, and check out of our place.  We loaded up our rental car, locked up the house, and set off for brunch.  Turns out the occupants of the entire city had the same plan we did on that rainy morning.  Our brunch spot was a hub of activity – so for the sake of time we decided to eat at the airport.

We all got lunch and awaited to board our flight.

We always joke how close we are – but we never see each other.  Last time I went on a trip with these girls – I was about 4 weeks pregnant with Sloan!  Time passes so quickly.  We always promise to see each other more often, and hopefully we will keep that promise this time.  Because being together at Christmas is not nearly enough.

So glad I have these ladies to celebrate this milestone with and I couldn’t have picked a better way to do it!