Friday, February 26, 2010

5,256,000 Minutes of Wedded Bliss

10 years ago today Greg and I were married! It was a marvelous day. Despite predictions of apocalyptic storms and "gale force winds" our wedding morning dawned gray but pleasant. Our sealing at the Oakland Temple was beautiful and we were surrounded by loved ones. My bouquet was a masterpiece and smelled divine--whenever I smell stock or tuberoses I go right back to that day.

People are STILL talking about our reception ("My reception, my reception!") 10 years later because it was a rocking party! We danced the night away. Our cake was utterly delicious--layers of chocolate and hazelnut topped with vanilla buttercream. It was so good that instead of sticking the top of the cake in the freezer for a year to become increasingly inedible, we took it with us on our honeymoon and enjoyed it properly.

You know, I knew when I married him that Greg was the right man for me, but every one of the 5,256,000 minutes that have passed since that day have confirmed and enlarged that understanding. I love him with all of my heart. We have had the best of good times together, and he has been my steady rock during the more turbulent moments. He's my best friend and the love of my life. I look forward to the millions and billions of minutes ahead of us, whatever they may bring.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Oh My Heck!!!

We won, we won, we won! Greg just called me and said, "I thought I'd let you know that someone in Hurricane, Utah has commented on our blog to congratulate you on winning the Shannon Hale contest." Huh? So I did a little investigating, and lo and behold, WE WON! To see the announcement, go to Shannon Hale's blog at You can see our entry here.

I am so thrilled! We had so much fun reading the book, discussing, and putting our entry together. Four of the six of us (Mandi, Jen, Rebecca, and I) have birthdays in March, so this is one heck of a birthday present for us. We'll have to throw ourselves a party, with Jell-O, birthday pie, and punch, and open our present! (Oh, the contest prize is a box of books from the author.)

Mandi, Jen, Rebecca, Debbie, and Amy, you are the best! I love you lots!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Outlaws From Other Planets

Ah, Valentine's Day. Not a year passes that I don't fondly look back on the Valentine's Day I spent as a missionary in Seattle, Washington, way back in 1998. My companion, Sister Jeppson, and I were out being diligent missionaries and we met a very special lady. Here's part of my journal entry from that day:

"We met a most interesting lady while tracting today--Dorothy Sinclair. The first clue to what awaited us inside her house were the three totem poles in her front yard, the most prominent a HUGE seahorse. She invited us right in to talk--something was definitely fishy. Turns out she wanted to talk to US. She told us about how many lives she's had, about the UFOs she's seen, and the extraterrestrials she's met. They get planted here, you see. Outlaws from other planets, sometimes. There is another Earth behind the sun in our Earth's orbit (so we can't see it, of course), peopled by Neanderthals--she was once there during an out-of-body experience. She spent 600 years on Venus during one of her lives--did you know there is no monetary system on Venus? In another life she was a Pygmy in Africa, a male one. One day while she (he?) was off hunting bears (yes, bears in Africa) to eat, she keeled over dead. She read our auras--mine was blue with a little pink around the hands and yellow around the head and silver around it all. There was no star, which means I am not on any kind of spiritual quest on the earth, but I did have a lot of question marks, which meant I wasn't believing all she was saying. No, REALLY!"

One of the best days EVER! Kids, grow up and serve missions! You'll never be the same. Dorothy Sinclair, wherever you are (Jupiter? Hunting muskrats with fellow Inuits?) , I salute you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rodeo Time

It's Rodeo, San Antonio! I took Ella, Natalie, and our friend Rachel to the Stock Show last week and a good time was had by all. What's not to love? Cows mooing and being led (sometimes pushed) across the walkways by their teen-aged owners, a petting zoo full of the most docile critters that have ever nibbled on your clothes, free bouncy castles, free food samples, rides and junk food galore, pig races, and hats and boots as far as the eye can see. We look forward to it every year, and it never disappoints.

Yep, that's a pig snout in Natalie's hand. She liked it, too. She also LOVED the petting zoo, where she tackled, mauled, and kissed (yes, kissed) every animal that wasn't faster than she was. I chased her around saying, "Soft, Natalie! Be soft!"

Natalie also loved the carousel, which we call The Fastest Carousel in the West due to its unnaturally high speed. She loved it so much that she threw a screaming, kicking fit when I took her off. The very nice ride operator let us ride again for free, which made the girls very happy and made me very dizzy. It was worth it to see Nat get giddy when the ride started up again.

Ella and Rachel, long time best buds, sampled all the delights of the day, including a cotton candy for each of them, lots of bouncing, and a variety of rides. Here they are posing on a fake horse. Who knew it could be so much fun?

Hooray for positive peer pressure! Rachel is the 4th of 6 kids, and as such is much more daring in the rides department than Ella. Ella rode a few things, including the big swinging boat ride, that I could never have gotten her on in a million year, purely because Rachel was brave enough to go on them. Check out the following action shot:
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This year for the very first time we went to the Rodeo Stampede, the official opening of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. A herd of longhorn cattle trotted down Houston Street and ended at the Alamo, and that was pretty much it. Oh, wait, there was also a slightly alarming group of elderly samba dancers that started the whole thing off, banging and stomping down the street. One particularly androgynous hoofer had us giggling for hours. It was a simple event but also really fun. How often do you get to see a herd of cattle walk down the street, with plenty of cowboys on horses close by?

Greg took this great shot of the herd.

After the herd had passed, Natalie said, "MO!" As in, "More cows, please!"

It was a cold, clear day in San Antonio. Ella found it necessary to wear her nose warmer from Grandma Hawkie, which she actually wears pretty regularly. It cracks people up, and she doesn't understand why.
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Crazy Lady

So, Natalie is part girl child, part Tasmanian Devil, and some days the devil portion really takes over. Mondays tend to be especially action-packed because that's the day I clean the house and she trails not far behind me, making more messes. Yesterday I was getting Ella an after-school snack while also doing laundry in the laundry room-cum-pantry when suddenly I noticed that Natalie was dangerously quiet. I entered the pantry and found this:

Apparently she was in the mood for some Rice Chex mixed with floor dust. Notice that her binkie ("Bee") and fuzzy ("Fuh") were both within arms reach, as always. Another day, I came downstairs after my shower and found her very happily sitting and watching Elmo like this:

Binkie and Fuzzy, together again! I removed her and five minutes later she was back in the drawer. Another day her BFF Tyler came to play. It's a good thing he's a solidly built little dude because she really rolls him around. She decided he needed a little help with his Cheerios, whether he liked it or not:

Did you notice the cute little ponies she was sporting in her hair in the last picture? It's her latest look--they look like two pompoms stuck to her head. Here's what her hair looks like at the end of the day when her dad removes the rubber bands and brushes her hair:

She saw the camera coming and said, "Chee!" and made that lovely face. There appears to be something lodged in her hair--not an uncommon occurrence.

And tomorrow I get to clean up the pile of rice and chicken bits that she threw on the floor at dinner time. (She likes to throw food on the floor and then shake her finger at me, saying, "No! No! No!") I've learned by experience that rice is much easier to sweep up when dry and crunchy. Oh, the things that this kid is teaching me!
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Monday, February 01, 2010

Photos By Ella

Jake and Lora got Ella what she most wanted for Christmas: a camera of her own. It's a High School Musical one, too--nice touch! Following are some of the (few) pictures rfom our trip to the zoo that were actually in focus. I am particularly fond of "Still Life with Pumpkins and Old Christmas Trees".

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Bundle Up, It's Zoo Time

The day after Christmas we, including my Aunt Kris and Uncle Bill, wrapped ourselves up in many layers and headed to the Oakland Zoo. Due to the cold, we pretty much had the zoo to ourselves, which is always nice. The elephants roamed happily, the gibbons swung from the treetops, the tortoises had lunch, and the crocodile floated alarmingly close to the window.

For the first time ever Livy was tall enough to go on more rides than just the carousel. Despite the fact that we call her Midge, she does appear to be growing!

Aunt Kris, Ella, and I shared a sky basket. Ella and I coached Aunt Kris on how to sit down on the thing, and Kris won the prize for spotting the elusive bison from the air.

Ella took some marvelous pictures with her new High School Musical camera. (Photos to follow in next post.)
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The Hottest PJs in Town

Seriously, so hot. So hot that no normal adult could possibly sleep comfortably in them anywhere outside Siberia. However, since the point of the matching PJs was not so much to sleep in them as to take pictures in them, they were a roaring success. Doesn't Grandpa Ricky looked thrilled to be a part of the whole hoohah? We like that he wore PJs and boots.

That's Rick and Kathie; Jake, Lora, Oscar, and Olivia; and Greg, Katie, Ella, and Natalie
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Worth 1000 Words

I was going to get a picture of just Nat with Santa. THAT didn't happen! (She recovered quickly, don't worry.)
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Willdens and Browns, Together Again!

While we were in California for the holidays, we were able to spend some time playing with our good friends the Browns. We had a lot of fun touring the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. The "seasoning" area was the coolest--stacks and stacks of trays filled with every color bean imaginable. We got to taste beans from each stage of production, from just the jelly center to the shiny, delicious finished product, and I think it is safe to say that the samples were the kids' favorite part. Oh, and the keen hats!

We spent an entire afternoon at the park without even one incident of hair-pulling or head-locking! (Ella and Scott have a long and storied history together.)

Ella and Scott took an adventurous hike up the hill together, and it was so sweet to see these old pals in action again.

Little Willdens and Browns: Natalie, Ella, Tali, Scott, and Ada
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Rock On

In December Greg's parents Gary and Joan came for a visit, to see the new house and spoil the grandkids. We drove out to Enchanted Rock State Park to go for a hike. You can see the rock behind us in the picture, and if you look really close you can see the little ant-people wending their way to the top. When we arrived, Natalie was asleep, so I stayed behind while everyone else began the hike. 10 minutes later she was WIDE awake and I was stuck in a van with a toddler and no cell phone reception. Rats! So I threw on the baby backpack, which I had previously not had any intention of using because I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it to the edge of the parking lot, much less up that hunk of granite. Oh, and when I say I "threw on the baby backpack" in oh-so cavalier a fashion, I mean I set it up on the ground, stuck Natalie in it, spent several minutes figuring out the intricate system of straps and buckles, then sat down in front of it, strapped myself to it, and somehow managed to stand up with all these pounds of kid on my back. Long story short (WAY too late, I know) Natalie and I made it to the top, a little sore in the calves but no worse for wear. By the time we got there, though, the rest of our group was nowhere to be seen. Rats! No witnesses to my awesomeness, and no camera to Kodak the moment. So we made our way back down the rock, only getting slightly lost along the way, and took some pictures when we all met up at the bottom. Good times!

P.S. Enchanted Rock is 425 feet high, and the hike to the top is around half a mile, so my awesomeness is all relative.
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