Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fun in Florida

In October we got to go to Orlando with Ryan's family. His mom and dad love Florida and they love their family, so they wanted to take us on a trip together. We had such a great time and are so grateful for all they did to make it possible. Terri and Bruce flew in from Connecticut, Ryan's sister Traci and her family met us there (from Washington), and his brother Scott and his family flew in with us from Utah. We missed Tim and his family who couldn't be there because their new baby was coming soon!

It's taken me this long (yes, I know it's been 2 1/2 months!) to post about it because there are so many fun pictures... and because of a Christmas project we were working on for Ryan's family... but enough of the intro and excuses... get ready for the longest post ever...

This was when we first arrived... the kids were SO excited (so was I--it was so warm!).

We were happy to have our first stop be COSTCO (our favorite store!) so we could load up on groceries for the week.

We stayed with Scott and his family in an amazing home that Ryan's parents rented for us. The homes had their own pools (enclosed to keep wildlife out) and a beautiful view of the sunset. We felt spoiled to be staying in such a luxurious and spacious home.

We saw lots of little creatures outside the house. This was a little lizard on our window. There were a lot of frogs and/or toads too.

The resort had so many great amenities including a splash park for the kids. They loved it!

Coleman and Alyza hanging out with the floaty toys.

Coleman loved this slide! I love that happy face of his.

They had fun activities for the kids each day. Coleman and Sam had their faces painted like pirates....

....and Olivia got a beautiful butterfly.

One of the kid's activities was mini golf--Ryan helped the kids with their putting skills (I needed help too, but I was on my own :)).

There was a a really fun play area too.

The "Jammy Walk" is a favorite tradition with Grandma and Grandpa Harper. This year the kids got some fun Halloween flashlights. Their walk got cut a little short because the little boys were trying to kiss the frogs (or toads?).

We spent a couple of days at Sea World... it was so fun!

Liv and Terri watching a show together at Sea World.

Walking, walking, walking. We all managed to stay together for the most part (quite a feat for a group of 13).

Here's our family with Alyza and Sam.

Ryan, Terri, Scott, and I went on the roller coaster at Sea World... it was full of turns and loops and fun.... and resulted in a headache for this tourist.

The kids joined the street performers... I love this picture because all of their feet are off the ground.

Coleman and I were waiting for the Shamu show to begin. Don't we look dry and happy?

Ryan sat across from us so he could snap photos during the Shamu show. Can you see him next to the railing in the red shirt? He has his camera in position.

Who's idea was it to sit in the "Soak Zone?" Not mine... but I went along for the "fun" of it. We certainly got SOAKED! I'm still not convinced that getting soaked by any sea creature is fun :). If you can't spot me or Coleman or Olivia it's because we are covered by the thousands of huge water droplets that seemed to descend upon is in slow motion.

Here's our sopping wet group right after the Shamu show. It was pouring rain so we ducked under whatever we could find to "stay dry" which was humorous since we had all gotten soaked during the show.

Olivia and Coleman in an ice cave. Brrr!

Sea World had lots of fun Halloween decorations around. We liked the puffy lip pumpkins.

We had fun feeding the stingrays (although I maintain that the water is stinky).

Sea World has a great play area for the kids with several kiddie rides. They loved the ropes area.

Coleman had fun in all of the tubes and crawling places.

Here are the kids with Ryan and a walrus.

Coleman and Sam with their friend Shamu.

We also spent a day at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. It was great!

Here we are on the tram from the parking lot to the monorail which goes to the park.

Coleman and Olivia just outside the monorail to go into the park. Don't they look excited?

Here is the gang at the entrance to Magic Kingdom. What a good looking group!

I think this was an Aladdin ride (doesn't that look like a flying carpet?).

Here are all of the kids with Goofy.

The obligatory pose with Dumbo (the wait was WAY too long for the ride, so we compromised and just took a picture).

We love the speedway--Coleman was a crazy driver! Good thing they have those track things to keep us somewhat contained.

Here are Bruce and Terri with the grandkids waiting to go on "It's A Small World." Ryan just so happened to volunteer to make a run out to the car as we went on this ride--it's his favorite, really, so it was a huge sacrifice to go and get our lunch for us.

Ryan with Sam and Coleman--all of those boys scored huge amounts of points on the Buzz Light Year ride.

Grandma and Olivia on the Buzz Light Year ride.

We also spent an afternoon at Clearwater Beach which is in the Tampa Bay area.

They have a really fun playground, warm water, and cool seashells.

Aw, aren't we cute together?

Sweet Liv.

I love this photo of Coleman laughing.

Liv, Coleman, and me.

This lovely photo (taken by Bruce) probably looks familiar since it graced the top of our blog for a few months.

Clearwater Beach always has beautiful sunsets and fun street performers along with a few artisan booths. This was a favorite spot to visit.

We stopped in Tampa to get a famous and favorite key lime pie from Mike's Pies. Thanks to our friend Laura C. for introducing us to this delicacy last time we were in Florida (May 2006).

We happened to be in Florida during the same time that my brother David and his wife Katty were there... they stopped by our last night there to visit and share some pie with us.
The Harper kiddos at the airport on our way home. They all did really well on our flights!

We had a great time on our trip, thanks to Terri and Bruce and the Harpers and Johnsons!

As I look out our back window at the heaps of snow and icicles... I'm wishing for some of the Florida warmth and sunshine!

**Do you ever go to Costco while you are on vacation?
**Are you a "soak zone" enjoyer or complainer (like me)?
**Did you make it to the end of this post?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Class Act

It is no secret that my granddad loved the University of Utah. In fact, he played there many years ago and was known as "Speedy Joe Wirthlin."

During his funeral, President Monson mentioned that my granddad had become the self-appointed chaplain to the Utes football team, which caused quite a chuckle, because we all knew it was true. In honor of him, the Utes had decided to wear the initals "JBW" on their helmets during their upcoming bowl game. The team invited the Wirthlin family to come to their practice last week so we could meet the team and see their helmets. The players and coaches were gracious and kind. Coach Whittingham told us what an honor it was for them to wear the initials "JBW" and several of the players and coaches posed for pictures.

Coleman and Liv in their new red duds (perfect for Christmas, no?).

Paul Kruger (#11) was especially available for pictures and let us hang on to his helmet to take more photos. He was so good with our little ones.

Coleman, Olivia, and me with Paul's helmet.

Ryan took this great photo of one of the helmets.

My mom with Coach Whittingham--he was so personable.

This team has shown great skill and athletic ability on the football field, particularly in the last few years. It was so neat to see that they truly are a class act off of the field too. Best of luck to them at the Sugar Bowl (January 2nd) and in all they do! Go Utes!