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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