Friday, August 16, 2013

SLC Round Up

About a week ago, my husband surprised me with a text. He said, "What do you think about getting away to SLC this weekend for a vacation and to do some shopping?"

I was taken aback...not only was he suggesting a vacation- but SHOPPING? Not just shopping, SHOPPING IN SLC? Willingly? (LOL)

We talked back and forth about it. I asked him if he was serious and he said we didn't have to go if I didn't want to...Well...I need to preface this.

I'm mega, uber, super I don't buy it unless I'm desperate or so in love that I can't live without it cheap...(and the so in love with it that I can't live without it thing RARELY ever happens. I am a clearance and major sale shopper all the way. I just can't bring myself to pay full price in most cases.) in SLC with no restrictions but those that I would place on myself was going to be a treat and also very frustrating for my hubby...he knows that I am one of those shoppers that will go from store to store and leave something behind thinking I can find something similar or exactly the same cheaper somewhere else...

We've also been poor as church mice since we got married. We didn't even take a honeymoon (and still haven't) because we really couldn't afford it. So pairing shopping with a mini vacation for me is quite the luxury.

Jeff had also been gone in the field. We had been missing him terribly. He also knew he had to go back out at some point during his next rotation at work and so he really wanted to spend some quality time away from the stresses and pressures of home with us.

Once we decided we were going for sure, I spent the rest of the week planning things and trying to find the most cost effective and fun things to do while we were there.

We decided to stay at a hotel right next to temple square because we ultimately decided that we mostly wanted to walk around temple square and the surrounding area and paying for parking at the hotel would be better than paying for parking at City Creek or one of the other nearby businesses.

Jeff got home on Friday night. I got up early on Saturday morning to finish packing, get ready, get the girls ready, and help to load the car and we were off by 7:30. We stopped before we left to buy another umbrella stroller (I LOVE our enormous jogging stroller, but it would have taken up the majority of the cargo space in the back of our little SUV, so we had to come up with another option.), we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and we were on our way out of Rock Springs by 8:00.

The drive to SLC was fun. The girls watched various Disney movies in the back and we got to enjoy the scenery as we rode. We held hands and talked about everything under the sun.

We were trying to make it early enough to SLC that we could meet up with my sis who was there with her kids and hubby for a back to school shopping mini vacation herself.

Amber wasn't quite ready to meet up, and we were a bit early to check into the hotel, so we swallowed our pride and paid for parking at City Creek and decided to walk around and check out some stores.

I was an AWESOME mom and in my rush to get out the door, had forgotten to pack shoes for the girls so our quest was to see if we could find a place that sold affordable toddler shoes...yeah, we weren't successful in our quest. Most everything we could find was WAY more than I was willing to spend for a pair of shoes that was going to fit for 2-4 months tops...we did have luck at the Disney Store, but I wasn't sure I wanted to buy shoes that slipped on and off easily since Faith has a tendency to like to be barefoot.

Which brings me to one of my favorite parts of the trip...the part I wish I would have pulled my camera out for- The Disney Store.

We walked around and I found the wall o' Tinkerbell (seriously, there was a WHOLE WALL filled with Tinkerbell stuff). Faith started jabbering as soon as I pulled the stroller up for her to check out the goods. She instantly wanted OUT of the stroller and started touching and grabbing everything she could put her hands on. There was the sweetest little pair of Tinkerbell ballet flats that had the little pom poms on the front. They jingled like Tinkerbell does when she tries to talk to a human. They were more affordable than I thought they would be (I think they were $14.99) and I was very close to buying them. Faith gazed at them on her feet lovingly and tapped her little toes against the foot rests on the stroller...but I was super nervous that she would slip one off or one would slip off on its own because she was jingling the bells so much, and that we would lose one. So we bid them a fond farewell (Yes, there were tears as I took them off her feet and we were walking away.) Daddy thought for just a moment about buying the shoes and the Tinkerbell costume that went with them (Faith was hugging onto it for dear life at that point- She wanted me to put it on her and kept trying to slip it over her head) until he found out that the entire package would run us $50...he said we'd look for a cheaper Tinkerbell costume for her when we got home... After the wall o' Tinkerbell, I strolled Faith around all the Monsters Inc. toys (she LOVES the Monsters) and Jeff found a Minnie ear headband and put it on Phillie. He brought me over to show me what she was doing...

Normally, Phillie doesn't like headbands or hats on her head. She rips them off almost as fast as you put them on but the Minnie ears were different. Minnie is her "thing" right now. She was looking in the mirror smiling and giggling, trying to kiss her reflection and sat perfectly content to have the Minnie ears on her head. She was SO EXCITED (again, I really wish I'd been brave enough to take my camera out to capture it...but I was concerned that I would get in trouble so I kept it tucked away in the diaper bag...I suppose it will have to be a mental picture...) The Minnie ears were only $6...I tried to convince Jeff to let her get them and that we'd get Faith the Lambie doll she was loving on at the moment, but Jeff said he didn't want to spend money on souvenirs until we'd been shopping for necessities.

I had to agree with him. Most of what we had for Faith was hand me downs that had either been stretched out by a more chubby 18 month old, or was falling apart at the seams (literally)...and I was so desperate for clothes in Phillies size that I had her wearing Faith's clothes (that are a bit big on her) to make up the difference for what I lacked.

So...after we left the Disney Store, we got the sad news that my sis couldn't make it to meet us. Her kids were misbehaving and she was done. She just wanted to go home and crash. I totally understood (Maybe next time Ambs! Love you!)

We checked walked over to check into our hotel. We stayed that the SLC Plaza at Temple Square. It was a little more expensive than other hotels, but it was right by everything we wanted to do. I decided that, even without a free breakfast $79 for the night wasn't a bad deal to be right across the street from Temple Square!

It was probably one of the nicest hotels I've stayed in since I was in Europe.  The staff was super friendly and the beds were actually very comfortable (my one complaint with hotels is the beds always seem to be too hard, this one was actually just about right). The room was HUGE, which was a big plus since we had 2 pack and plays to set up for our girls to sleep.

We crashed at the hotel for a bit and I changed into one of the new outfits we'd purchased for me while we were at City Creek. I bought a couple of cute things on Clearance at Forever 21. I got dressed and looked at my husband and smiled and told him that I felt like "me" again. After almost 2 years of wearing nothing but hand me downs (seriously, every item in my closet but 2 dresses I got from one of my sisters who both have different fashion sense than me- Amber's is close, but not quite. :) ) it was nice to be wearing something that I actually purchased with my style in mind.

We walked back, picked up the car and headed to one of my favorite places on earth...Target.

We got a little lost on the way, but it ended up being worth it because Target is where we finished our "shopping spree".  I got 3 new outfits for the girls that I could mix and match pieces (ie 3 shirts and 3 bottoms for each girl.) Phillie is a TOTAL shopping diva. I was SHOCKED.  I was trying to show Faith some clothes and Phillie would cry because it was what she wanted. Phillie picked out all of her own outfits- I'm not even joking. She would grab things and not let them go (oddly enough, she always managed to grab her right size) or she would whine when I would put something down because Faith wasn't showing any interest but SHE was.  The funniest part of that shopping trip was when Faith and Phillie both grabbed skirts off of the clearance rack and wouldn't let them go. They turned out to be the right size and were both $2.50, so I decided to let them keep them and we'd find a top for them.  Fast forward to this week when I pulled them out for the girls to wear for the day. Phillie squealed, crawled over to me, grabbed her skirt and attempted to pull it on all by herself! She was going to wear that skirt and there was no time to squabble about it. LOL

We came back from Target with some new clothes for everyone, some wooden blocks for the girls to play with, and some wooden toddler puzzles with pegged pieces..and then crashed at the hotel. We had planned on going to Temple Square, but neither of the girls had taken a nap all day and they were CRANKY and HUNGRY (it was dinner time).  We were going to walk to the Cheesecake Factory, but opted to be cheaper and eat at the restaurant connected to the hotel- good old JB's.

Jeff was disappointed that his rib basket only had 2 ribs, but I saved the day by letting him eat the other half of my steak (it was an 8 oz steak and I'm usually lucky if I can finish a 6 oz),  Phillie ate ALL of my vegetables (I kind of wanted those...) wanted my baked potato, and refused to touch her grilled cheese sandwich and french fries, and everyone devoured a piece of cheesecake at the end. While Jeff paid the bill, I let the girls take turns eating the leftover blueberries that hadn't been eaten with bites of cheesecake...they were in heaven.

We woke up and decided that our goals for the day were Temple Square and Hogle Zoo...I actually took pictures of this part...YAY!

We had a yummy breakfast at IHOP (another funny story... we got lost trying to find the IHOP and then realized that we had passed it the day before when we were looking for Target and had even pointed it out as we were driving in attempts to make a mental note that it was there...oh well..LOL)  and then drove back to Temple Square.

Finding parking was tricky. We weren't sure if our parking pass would work at the hotel after we'd checked out and not all the City Creek parking lots were open...we probably drove around the block over and over for 20 minutes before we found a way in to park.

Temple Square was BEAUTIFUL. I felt a little out of place because most people that were walking around were walking around in their Sunday we were in leggings/jeans and a tunic dress/t-shirt...but I didn't see any glares or stares. I was surprised to see what a tourist attraction it is even on a Sunday. I knew that with the Tabernacle Choir broadcast there would be people around before and after, but even during there were sister missionaries giving tours to large numbers of people.  The girls were in love with all the flowers and trees. It was very hard for us to convince Faith especially that the flowers were to admire not tug on and take home with us.
I got to have some new experiences this trip. I actually got to go inside the Assembly Hall (AKA one of the first LDS churches before they decided that simple was better and more cost effective) and the tabernacle. Both were stunning. The Assembly Hall was on par with some of the most beautiful churches I've seen in Europe. I can understand why they stopped building them that way though, can you imagine what people's contributions to their ward building fund would have been back in the day before tithes and offerings were able to cover the costs for new buildings? YIKES!
I had a very emotional reaction when we went into the Tabernacle. The spirit was so strong there. I had the thought of how many prophets had stood at the pulpit in the front of a congregation in that building and about lost it. It gave me chills to think about all of the amazing spiritual giants had passed through the doors of that building and I wept...I tried to keep it inconspicuous, but it was quite the feat to keep it together.

While we were in the North Visitors' Center, we went to my favorite place on Temple Square, the Christus Room with the Christus statue. When I was little I always felt cheated out of time in that place. I loved to sit and listen to the echoes that the room made as people walked, talked and whispered, and study the intricate paintings of the universe on the ceiling and surrounding walls and just stare at the parents always had to drag me out. It was here that we let Faith and Phillie out of the strollers for a bit to run around. Faith was calling out to hear the echoes back (of course, I was slightly embarrassed as there were several families sitting on the benches with parents whom I heard say, "Just sit quietly and feel the spirit." Oops...sorry. Can't really explain feeling the spirit to a precocious 21 month old who has made up her mind that her shrill scream coming back to her ears is the coolest thing ever...

While in the Christus room, there was a group of Japanese female tourists taking pictures. Phillie decided to crawl over and check them out. I decided to sit back and watch the exchange. They smiled down at her and she smiled back at them (that darn smile could probably have taken down the Persian Army, those 300 Spartans could have saved their lives in their epic battle by just holding her up for everyone to see- its THAT charming.) They finally started bending down to take pictures of her and say sweet things to her in Japanese...I know, this is where most mothers would probably go pick up their child and politely ask that they don't take pictures, but I figured it wouldn't do any harm...Seriously, her cuteness should be shared with the world, and if they wanted to remember her- who am I to deny them the memory? (I fully expect to see a random post in Japanese about the adorable American baby someone met in the Christus room at temple square with a picture of Phillie's charming smile someday on the internet...and I'm fully okay about that. LOL)

We scooped the girls up and made our way out of Temple Square...We had the slightly terrifying moment of realizing that they way we'd come out of City Creek was now locked up tight...That moment of "Crap, how are we going to get to the car?!" Set in for me and Jeff was cool as a cucumber, we walked the block until we found a way into the courtyard for City Creek that was open and made our way through to an elevator (of course, I was secretly holding inside the terror that the way out would be fenced in and we would have to call and wait for someone to let us out...)

We were doubly depressed to find that the splash pad was turned off. We had hoped to let the girls play but were denied! The nice security guard informed us that the splash pad at the Gateway Mall would be open if we wanted to go there, but Jeff wasn't keen on driving around downtown and paying for parking again, and I wasn't keen on trying to maneuver our way onto the Light Rail and pay for a ride to Gateway with the girls in strollers so we took off.

We stopped for lunch and OF COURSE- the girls fell asleep. They'd been wide awake the day before and refused to sleep in the car at all- but the one time you want them to be awake they are out cold. We decided to end our sojourn in SLC. Hogle Zoo could wait for another trip. We didn't want to go with cranky babies and spend 2-3 hours walking the zoo with them screaming... So, we got on the road home.

We decided to stop in Park City for gas. It was lovely and I joked about how small the Walmart was.. Jeff said he could live in Park City but then we both agreed it would likely never happen because it probably costs a pretty penny to live there. (Side note- It started POURING rain as we drove home, so we were kind of glad we decided to skip the zoo...)

We headed on. We stopped at a scenic view to change movies and change diapers and let the girls stretch their legs. It was well worth the stop!  Breathtaking views of the reservoir (not sure which one it is ) that is outside Park City.

We hopped the state line back into Wyoming and welcomed the beautiful, blue open skies.

Stopped in Evanston for another break and then made our way back to our home in Rock Springs.

Jeff remarked that Wyoming would never be "home" but he was content to think of it that way temporarily. I agreed. I definitely don't feel as much like a "fish out of water" here as I did in Nevada. The people are the kind of people I grew up around- hardworking farmers, mechanics, machinists, etc.- sturdy stock that will give you directions to the best mechanic or the nearest gas station or take the shirt off their back to help a wounded passer by...kind sturdy stock... and the area, while not as green as I'm used to, has a similar climate and feel to it. I definitely feel like I can put down roots here for a while and be content...and if a while turned into longer than I expected, I'd probably still be content. I miss my family. I miss Idaho and all the wonderful, beautiful hidden treasures that it holds, but Wyoming can be tied for a close second with Montana.

Thus ends our sojourn to SLC. Jeff was talking about going back for the Temple Square Christmas Light display and I am SO EXCITED just thinking of it. I've never been and its on my bucket list. Surprisingly, I only had 2 white knuckle moments on our trip to SLC and I actually found myself saying what a cool town it is if you're willing to explore it a bit. I won't mind another trip to SLC, and if all our vacations ever are when we live here is a quick weekend trip there, I will likely be content. We had a lot of fun and got to focus on enjoying time being a family- and that was all that mattered.

Hugs and Loves until next time, darlings!

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