Monday, December 15, 2008

For the Porters

Our Porter cousins in Utah made this blanket for Natalie and she loves it! She especially likes to suck on the tassles. Big thanks to McKell, McKenna, Maycee, Peyton, Kaylee, Rhet, Abbie, and Tyra. Great job, guys! Hopefully we'll get to see you all in March when we come to Utah, and Nat can give you each a big, slobbery kiss!
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Git Along, Little Froggy

On our way to Fort Worth on Thanksgiving Day, we stopped at a park in the thriving metropolis of Hico, TX. It's a five hour drive to Fort Worth, so it felt good to get out of the car and run around for a while. Ella and I enjoyed the boingy frog, Greg bucked on the bronco, and Natalie was clearly impressed by the swings.

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Toadally Cool

Anybody out there remember the band Toad the Wet Sprocket? They broke up years ago, but the lead singer, Glen Phillips, is still going strong with his solo career--he has several albums. Greg and I went to see him play for a second time last month at this total hole called Jack's Patio Bar. It was just Glen and his guitar. He's pretty amazing, and it is so great to hear old Toad favorites, like "All I Want" and "Crowing" played live. Fter the show he hung out, signing autographs and taking pictures. He borrowed my Sharpie--I felt so special. He's super nice and down-to-earth, and we're glad he's still playing.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Willdens in Wonderland

Ella decided to be Alice in Wonderland for Halloween, and Natalie, who had no say in the matter, was her Cheshire Cat. Grandma Kathie made the Alice costume and I put together the Cheshire Cat using a plain white outfit, Rit dye, fabric paint, and some felt. I was particularly pleased with how the ears turned out, and everyone loved the signature Cheshire Cat grin (that was Grandma's idea).

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Autumn, Anyone?

Well, they say it's autumn, anyway. Some leaves are indeed turning, but the bulk of them don't fall off the trees until January or so. Global warming? Naw, it's just South Texas.

The gigantic Methodist church down the street has a pumpkin patch every year, so we stopped by one day and snapped a few pictures.

This is Ella and her pal Rachel. Between the two of them they have all sorts of teeth missing. The day before halloween we had a very modest party, including "Witches Brew". Ella had never seen dry ice in action, so she thought it was pretty cool.

October means a much-anticipated visit from Grandma Kathie. Natalie thought she was VERY entertaining.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

What Could Be Cooler?

Does life get any cooler than being kissed by a beluga whale? Last Saturday we had an amazing chance to go behind the scenes at White Whale Stadium at Seaworld and get up close and personal with a beluga whale named Sikuu. In order to be kissed we had to kneel down in front of the pool with our hands on the ground and turn our heads to the side, so we couldn't actually se the whale when she came at us--it was a wild feeling! The belugas are very gentle and friendly so it wasn't frightening, just exciting. You can see in the picture that while she was kissing me her body was pressing against my hands, so in addition to having this huge whale head next to mine, my hands were covered with cold, rubbery whale body. I think the noise that accompanied the silly look on my face was something like, "Eeeeeeee!" After she kissed me, I looked down in the water to see Sikuu's three-month-old calf gnawing on her mama's fin. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was awesome!

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Bigger Than My Head

This is a cinnamon roll from a place in town called Lulu's Bakery and Cafe. It's called the 2 pound cinnamon roll and it was like a whole loaf of bread. The cafe is famous for its chicken fried steak, which we hear is bigger than the plate it's served on. And they say that San Antonio is the nation's fattest city. Pshaw!
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Love at Home

Despite the fact that the afternoon temperatures have still been in the 80s lately, the mornings have become quite brisk, especially for those of us with little bald heads (not naming names or anything...). Natalie and I walk Ella to school every morning. We leave the house at 7:15am because elementary school here starts at 7:45am. Who decided that THAT was a good idea?! It's still dark when we leave the house.

Greg and his girls. Can you tell in this picture that Nat has become a droolin' machine? The best is when you go to kiss her cheek and she turns her head at the last second, planting a big wet one right on your mouth. Yum!

The Willden sisters have recently discovered the joys of sharing the bathtub--they think it's GREAT. Natalie loves to watch her big sister do just about anything, and Ella has been waiting her whole life for a good captive audience, which Nat provides with ease.

Normally Natalie is in bed long before we do story time, but this night she was still up and got to join us. Ella now loves to have chapter books read to her at bed time, and we are almost done with The Enormous Egg. We have also enjoyed My Father's Dragon, Matilda, Clementine, Ramona the Pest, The Children of Noisy Village, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and, of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Top of Utah Marathon

It has been a few weeks now but I'm finally getting around to blogging the Top of Utah Marathon that I ran on September 20th. The course was absolutely gorgeous! The first 14 miles went down Blacksmith Fork Canyon from Hardware Ranch. We ran by the stream and past the cliffs and it was just lovely. At that point (mile 14) spectators could get access to the course so I saw my parents cheering me on and taking pictures. The course was very accessible to spectators so they were able to drive ahead and wait for me to run past. Rinse. Repeat.

I am the guy with the yellow LIVESTRONG visor and the green shirt. This is about mile 14 as I exited the canyon behind me.

This is probably around mile 18 or so.

I felt very strong running that day and did very well. My quads were cramping up off-and-on during the last 5 miles or so. I think that it was a failure to take my 4th gel early enough and I needed to eat my 5th one. I sweat a lot when I run so I lose a lot of electrolytes which results in muscle cramping. Anyway, just something for me to remember for the next one.

I finished in 3:35:14 (chip time), more than 30 minutes faster than my first marathon/death march/slog. My recovery from this race was much easier as well. I felt really great!

Here is a nice shot with the Logan Temple in the background and my medal around my neck. Well-earned hardware.

Natalie Laughing

Recently Natalie has learned to laugh. It is very cute.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Smiles and a Bumbo

Here are a few fresh shots of Life With the Willdens. Natalie discovered this week that she can produce a variety of sounds at a wide range of volume--she prefers shrieking loudly. She's not mad or anything, just chatty. She has also started to laugh, which is a sheer delight to behold.

Greg needed Nat's help with some important computer stuff. Ooh, and they are sitting on our new couch. It's a sofa bed, so we have an actual bed for you to sleep on should you decide to visit us.

Natalie has the strength to sit in her Bumbo now. She lounges in it like it's a tiny arm chair, babbling and making spit bubbles all the while.

Man, do these two love each other. Ella finally has the audience she has been desperately lacking for years now, and Natalie loves to sit in her bouncy chair wherever Ella is. Each thinks the other is pretty funny.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Natalie Willden, Superstar!

No autographs, please!

My friend Megan gave Nat these rockin' booties and I had to immediately go out and buy an outfit to go with them. Can an outfit ever have too many bows? (Don't answer that.)

Phyllis and Madelaine gave her this outfit--as you can tell, Natalie is VERY impressed by it. I love the banty hen look it gives her.

Nat is such a delightful, happy baby. We could not love her more.
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First Day of Kinder and a Haircut, Too.

My baby started kindergarten last week! Her school is just down the street, so we walk there every morning. School starts at 7:45am so it's just barely getting light when we leave the house at 7:15am. Good grief. Anyway, on the first day I swaddled Natalie into the Moby wrap and off we went. The kinder hallway was a mob scene. I kissed Ella and she gave me a quick hug and a "'Bye, Mom!" and disappeared inside the room. The doorway was immediately full of parents snapping "action shots" of their tots hanging up their gargantuan backpacks, wandering aimlessly around the room, etc. I shed a tear and made my way out of the school, passing a budding Scorcese, armed with his camcorder, who was setting up the perfect shot of his precious one entering the classroom for the first time.

We took pictures in the front yard and then left the camera at home. This is the outfit Ella picked out for the first day of school. She's all about leopard print and sparkles, of course.

A couple days into school Ella said she wanted a haircut, short "like the girl in Parent Trap". I assumed she meant Lindsey Lohan, not Haley Mills. The five inches of Haley Mills forehead would not be a good look on her (or anyone, including Haley Mills).
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Ella lost her first tooth! She first noticed it was loose the day after we brought Natalie home--it gave her a big announcement of her own, which was nice. Any time she talked to ANYONE thereafter, she first told them about her tooth and then added, "Oh, yeah, and I have a new sister." It was loose for about six weeks, then one morning she bit into an apple just so and it loosened up in a major way. It was out before she went to bed that night. It was a good thing that our tooth fairy who brings books had been alerted and was ready with a new book for the toothless one.

This one is for you, Lora! The tooth was hanging by a thread.

Look at the glee on that face! She could not stop laughing.
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