Tuesday, December 16, 2008

California Firsts

I know that you must grow weary of reading about my California posts, and I'm the first to admit that the frequency of my trips has become a bit excessive. But this one was for a good reason and had a few firsts.

1. Most importantly, I got to meet my first nephew for the first time! He is so cute! We loved meeting him and holding him...and taking him to Disneyland for the first time! Don't worry, he was only there for a few minutes, but I think he already loves it.

2. It was also the first time that we rode all of the operating rides at Disneyland in one day! Aaron set the goal and recruited a few of us to join him. How you calculate the number of rides could vary, but we counted 31 operating rides (everything was open except for the sailing ship and the canoes). Tomorrowland almost kept Aaron from meeting his goal (Space Mountain and the Rockets weren't so good for his motion sickness).

Star Tours was the final ride to check off our list.

And by the end of the day we had met our goal! (Thanks to Charise and Cole for helping us reach the goal a few hours early).

3. I also rode the Sailing Ship Colombia for the first time! It wasn't open on Thursday for our ride challenge, but it was running on Friday.

4. And lastly, we stayed at the Marriott Newport Coast Villas for the first time (and hopefully not the last). Courtney got us ocean view rooms with her discount. It is a fabulous resort and gave me further encouragement to one day pursue my goal of working for Marriott and JetBlue. Then I could continue my frequent traveling with cheap rooms and less driving.

Aaron's New Haircut

If you want to see Aaron getting his head shaved here is the link on Fox 13 news: "Timpanogos High School Teachers Get Their Head Shaved"

The main video is just students describing the sub for santa. But right next to it there is a box that says side bar and related items. Click on that video (it is only a few minutes long) and you will see it happen.

He was also on the front page of the Daily Herald. Here is the link for that story: Daily Herald

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Distance

Aaron was asked to be the lead singer for a faculty band that performed in the Timpanogos High School talent show. Being the nice and brave person that he is, he agreed. They have been practicing over the last few months and here is a picture from the performance. He is the one in front with the orange hair. (Sorry it's a bit blurry because I was far away.) I was a little bit surprised when he first told me, because I've never known him to sing a solo or really sing in front of people (although he does sing around the house all the time). But he informed me that he didn't really have to sing because it was a Cake song that is more speaking than singing. He really doesn't get afraid of things like this and is willing to do a lot for the benefit of the school and his students. Here is the link to the video the students took. "The Distance"

And just to show that he really is willing to sacrifice for his students, he agreed to let them shave his head if they reached their sub-for-santa fundraising goal. This may not be a sacrifice for some, but when you don't know how much longer you will actually have your hair, I think it is a bigger sacrifice. They were nowhere close when he agreed to it, but they pulled it off in the end and supposedly were encouraged by the thought of seeing him bald. I'm not sure why...if they just waited a few years they could probably see it anyway...but here he is. He was actually interviewed by Big Buddah on Fox 13 morning news while he was getting his head shaved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Elder Wirthlin

I know this is a bit late in coming, but I've been thinking about Elder Wirthlin during the last week since he passed away. I've been especially touched by his talks during the last two conferences. Despite the apparent difficulties he was having with his health, his talks were filled with his humor, wisdom, and especially his testimony. There are three talks that I have thought of this week because they have been some of my favorites and ones that I like to come back to year after year because they are so good. So, I thought I would share for anyone that is interested (titles of talks are links to Ensign articles) as well as document them for myself to remember in the future.

He gave a devotional at BYU about gratitude called "Live in Thanksgiving Daily". I love to use this talk for family home evening around Thanksgiving time and then take time to make a list of all the things I am thankful for.

In 2002, he gave a talk titled "Follow Me". He tells the story of Peter and Andrew, and James and John and how they immediately gave up their nets to follow the Savior and then asks, “If the Savior were to call you today, would you be just as willing to leave your nets and follow Him?”

And the last one is his most recent address, "Come What May, and Love It". It was one of the highlights of last conference for me.

I enjoyed an Article from LDS Church News . Here is an excerpt:

The comical irony of life's unexpected fortunes was not lost on Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin when he spoke during the October 2001 general priesthood meeting.

Once known for his speed and power as a halfback for the University of Utah football team, he said, "I loved to run."

"And I did win a few races. I'm not so fast anymore. In fact, I'm not sure how well I would do in a race if the only contestants were the members of the Quorum of the Twelve."

The unexpected humor from his deadpan delivery caused a burst of laughter. "My ability to run is not so swift now," he continued.. . . I am looking forward to that future time when, with a resurrected body, I can once again sprint over a field and feel the wind blowing through my hair."

Joseph Bitner Wirthlin, the 88th member to be called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation, lived a life rich in experience, a testament to the Lord's promise that those who do the works of righteousness find peace and happiness in this life.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Sunshine State

We just got back from a fabulous trip to Florida and Disney World. I have wanted to go here ever since I can remember, so this trip really was a dream come true for me. I know it is hard to believe that a Disney fanatic like me has never been there, but it's true. I’m sorry if my commentary gets long or boring, just skip through if you aren’t interested.

On Saturday we arrived in Florida! We checked in to our hotel, Port Oreans Riverside. It is made to look like an old southern plantation right on the river. It was really nice.

After arriving, we quickly tried to become acquainted with the bus/boat system so that we could get to the ESPN club to watch the BYU game. We made it and were able to watch most of the game either while we were standing in line or at our table. We had a great time, despite the final score. There are TVs everywhere in this place and everyone is watching football. People are cheering at different times and you don’t even have to worry about missing a big play when you go to the bathroom…they have big TV’s above all the stalls. We even made friends with a Ute and BYU fan sitting at a nearby table.

The next day was our day to relax and prepare ourselves for 5 days of intense theme park touring. We took some time to explore Port Orleans, Fort Wilderness, and drive by the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian resorts.

Hollywood Studios

Monday we started our theme park adventure with Hollywood Studios! Here were some of the memorable moments:

1. We were first in line and made it quickly to Toy Story, so we were able to ride once as well as get fastpasses for later. We love this ride!

2. We met a cast member who is a member of the church from Latin America. She treated us all to “1st Visit” buttons!

3. Tower of Terror: Better than California Adventure. It moves around more and can be different every time you go on it.

4. Rock n’ Roller Coaster: This ride was crazy. It starts by launching you from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds. Then it proceeds to speed through the dark taking you upside down and in all sorts of directions. (below is picture of track)

5. The brown rice pudding we were served at the Chinese food restaurant. Who knew rice pudding could be brown? And taste like that?

6. Fantasmic! This show is one of my favorites at Disneyland…and I was not disappointed at Disney World. There were quite a few differences from Disneyland’s show, and as always a fabulous Disney finale including Mickey and music and fireworks. It was well worth battling the crowds and one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

The Magic Kingdom

Tuesday we spent the day at the Magic Kingdom. It had a lot of things that were different than Disneyland, more than I thought. We had a good time exploring and comparing it to what we know. Here are the highlights:

1. Once again we tried to be one of the first in line. We were let in for some pre-opening entertainment which included Aaron being called up to do the hokey pokey and throwing Mickey confetti during a countdown to opening.

2. Splash Mountain was great and is always one of our favorites. This one was fun because you get to sit side by side and there are many parts of the ride that are different.

3. Aaron managed to get Dream Fastpasses, again. This time was weirder than the other times. He was walking by and saw someone with a Dream Fastpass. He asked them where they got them. Then they asked him, “do you want them?” So of course he said yes and the person handed over two of them. I’m not sure if he didn’t understand what they were or he was leaving the park for the day, or just wanted to make someone elses dream come true, but we accepted the gesture.

4. Aaron was happy to see they haven’t moved the people movers out of Disney World like they have out of Disneyland. It was actually a pretty cool little ride that takes you around tomorrowland. Aaron got to experience a little bit of Space Mountain, without actually having to ride it. I wonder why they took them out at Disneyland? Especially since the track is still there and not being used.

5. And last of all, the Castle looks fabulous! Especially because of Christmas. They had white lights hanging all over it and the castle would change colors ever 10 minutes or so. It is built up high and is taller than Disneyland so you can see it from almost anywhere in the park. I loved it!


Let me start out by saying that Epcot is HUGE! More than twice as big as Disneyland and California Adventure combined. So to get from one end to the other takes awhile. There is a lot to see and do. Here were some of our favorites:

1. Test track was great, especially when you get to drive really fast at the end.

2. Spaceship America is the ride inside of the big ball. It takes you on a little journey through history, which was great for a history nerd like me. If I could only get my students to learn/remember all that was on this ride.

3. I loved walking around the countries. My favorites were Germany and Italy. Germany looked just like a miniature Rothenburg and Italy was like a miniature Venice. I also got to try Morrocan food, which is the same kind of food they eat in the Middle East. It reminded me of my days in Jerusalem…and of why I’m glad I don’t have to eat that kind of food all the time.

Canada (Brandy--Aaron wanted to take this picture for you!)


Germany (doesn't it look like Rothenburg?)



Morocco (country in North Africa where majority of people are Arabic)

This picture below was taken for my Jerusalem friends. Doesn't it remind you of all the cheesy t-shirts we would see shopping in the old city? And to top it off, it has one of our favorite Arabic words.

4. We went to dinner at a German Buffet called the Biergarten. I wasn’t too excited because I didn’t really love German food when I was in Germany, but this was much better. And I even got to try real schnitzel and black forest cake (which I wasn’t able to find in Germany despite much searching and walking through the real black forest). There was some lively entertainment including a rendition of Edelweiss played on cowbells and the chicken dance.

Animal Kingdom

I was a big fan of this place. It is so different from the other parks and was a great place to spend Thanksgiving day. The symbol for the park is the giant "tree of life" in the middle of the park that has lots of animals carved into the trunk.

1. We saw the Lion King and Finding Nemo shows. Both were really good and much better than I was expecting. The costumes and way that they performed Finding Nemo on a stage was especially impressive.

2. The Safari ride was awesome. We saw lots of animals and even had to stop our van for an ostrich to cross the road.

3. Expedition Everest is a pretty great roller coaster. Very tall, fast, dark and backwards.

4. Dinosaur was a great ride too. Similar to Indiana Jones, but with Dinosaurs. It was actually pretty scary and I have to admit that I flinched a few times.

Our Last Day

Our last day was a catch up day to do all the things we had put off to do later including some rides, buying souvenirs, eating lots of snacks, and going to the water park. We started out our morning at Blizzard Beach. There were very few people in the park and there were lifeguards wearing coats…so I think they thought we were a bit strange. But we adjusted to the cold and got to walk right on to all of the slides we wanted to. We even got to ride a chair lift to the top of the mountain where all the slides come off.

This was my favorite slide. You ride down the mouintain in a 4-5 person tube that looks like a little kiddie blow up pool.

We headed back to the Magic Kingdom for our final afternoon. Aaron finally got Kylee to like him enough to let him hold her without screaming...maybe all the candy and soda and merry-go-round ride helped.

We finished off the day with a meal with the characters from Winnie-the-Pooh and fireworks over the castle and one last ride on Buzz Lightyear.

Thank you Barth family for a fabulous trip! We had a great time are so grateful that we got to go!

Monday, November 3, 2008

October Highlights

October has been a busy and fun month for us. Aaron coached his girls varsity soccer team to the state semi-finals! He has been really busy with practice and games, and now that the season is over he may even get home before me on some days. We still love BYU football, and have enjoyed some exciting wins the last couple of weeks.

Julia came into town for one last Utah visit before she has her baby, so we threw her a baby shower. I made this blanket with sock monkey flannel prints. It wasn't super complicated, but I did use a sewing machine (which isn't a common occurrence) and searched extensively to find just the right fabric. I thought it turned out pretty cute...mostly because of the fabric, not my amazing sewing skills.
After Julia's visit and remembering how much we loved Disneyland in October, we decided to make a spontaneous three day weekend trip to California because Aaron had Friday off. We drove down Thursday night to spend Friday at Disneyland. After a few hours of sleep, we headed to Disneyland around 7:30 and started off the day on Dumbo. Then I suggested Thunder Mountain, but Aaron said he wanted to ride Pinocchio (a bit strange, I know, but he must have been inspired). So we went to Pinocchio and as we get off the ride, there is the Disney dream team handing out fastpasses to people as they exit the ride. The Year of Million Dreams blesses us again! We have won Dream Fastpasses 6 times! Since Disney's annual attendance numbers are above 14 million...I figure you have about 1 in 14 chance of winning one of the million dreams...so Mickey Mouse is definitely rewarding us for being some of his biggest fans.

I love Disneyland around Halloweentime. It's actually a toss up between Halloween and Christmas, I can't decide which I like more. But the Halloween decorations are fabulous! California adventure has an area called Candy Corn Acres that is really cute.

And, of course, we love the giant Mickey pumpkin head!

We spent Saturday in Torrance visiting Julia and Stephen's home. There are a few things I have come to love about this town...and most of them involve food. They have a great beach bike store, a huge Forever XXI, and best of all two of my most favorite restaurants--The Original Pancake House and The Lazy Dog. The Original Pancake house is definitely the best breakfast restaurant I have ever been to, and I'm a big breakfast fan. This place is seriously good. Now Ruby's may have it beat in the ambience category. But if you just want great breakfast food, this place is the best! The omelets are huge (see Julia's plate) and the apple Dutch pancake is huge and delicious (Aaron's plate) and the strawberry pancakes are my favorite! And don't worry, if you don't live in California, they have one in Salt Lake!

I know, I'm probably a bit too old to enjoy these movies, but I'll admit that I've enjoyed High School Musical 1 & 2. So, we decided to go to High School Musical 3 last weekend. I guess I should clarify that "we" doesn't include Aaron. He had absolutely no interest in the movie. Here is my quick movie review. As the sequels increased, so did the cheesiness. There were a few moments in this movie that were just over the top, even for a musical. I could appreciate them for what they were and get a good laugh, but I think Aaron would have walked out before the movie was over. The storyline was a bit lacking because they were trying to cram so many songs in...but there were some great dance numbers as always and we had a good time.

My mom has a great tradition of having a Halloween chili and cornbread dinner. This year we actually did it the Sunday before Halloween as our monthly cousin dinner. I think this year was her best year ever! She used my aunt Jimae's chili recipe, but instead of ground beef we used slow roasted shredded pork. It was fabulous! And I made the cute halloween tablecloth (the second use of my sewing machine in a month).

Aaron decided to be Gregory House from "House" for Halloween. He had gray hair, a scruffy face, walked with a cane, and was sarcastic all day.
I opted for the easier, more traditional route of being a witch. The coolest part was my purple hair and striped tights, which you can't see very well in the pictures.

Now the Halloween decorations are put away, and the pilgrims and turkey are out. We are looking forward to a busy November including my first trip to Disney World! And hopefully more frequent blogging so I don't have one really long one at the end of the month.