Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

I figured I would take a hiatus from the Disney posts to pay tribute to this national day of thanks.  On Tuesday I went to an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service put together by nineteen different churches in the Marple Newtown area and the Delaware County Life Center.  Basically, it was an opportunity for people from the various congregations to donate turkeys and hats, gloves and scarves to the Life Center as well as an opportunity to share how our unique faiths' celebrate Thanksgiving.  I sang with the choir, which was comprised of people from several of the different congregations.
These days people of faith are increasingly mocked and castigated by those who do not believe in God in any form.  Apparently believing in God is no longer en vogue and to do so is naive and causes prejudice and cruelty in the believer.  However, if you had been at the service with me on Tuesday you would see that this is absolutely untrue.  As ministers, priests, bishops and rabbis got up to express their love for their fellowmen and their gratitude for all of the gifts we have in this earth it was clear that belief in God, any God, brings love and harmony where most often we find selfishness and callousness.  As far as I am concerned, whether you believe in God or not, a concern for the people around you is absolutely crucial to the well being of our nation and the world in general.  If you care how your actions impact those around you, you will be less likely to do something bad (IE: steal, mock, kill, lie,etc.) because that would have a harmful effect on your neighbors as well as yourself. 
I was listening to NPR the other day and someone was explaining that the reason that our country has worked the way it does is because people have always held themselves to a certain moral standard.  As morals are loosened or lost all together, there is a need for a larger police force to oversee things that would have normally been taken care of by our own sense of propriety.  The increased need for police can quickly outstrip the amount of money allotted and can become yet another serious deficit to our economy.  This is the direction in which our country is headed.
For the last month I have been listing daily on Facebook something for which I am grateful.  I started because a friend of mine was doing it and it sounded like fun, but it became a great exercise in true gratitude.  I actually spent a portion of each day examining my life and the many blessings that I have received so I could decide which one thing to list.  If instead of this one day each year we all spent every day focusing on the things we have instead of focusing on the things we don't, imagine the change it would bring.
I believe in God and I believe that everything in this world and everything we receive are from Him.  But I don't think you have to share that belief to acknowledge that even in these difficult times we all have so much more than we usually acknowledge:  family, friends, love, a home, safety, freedom, food to eat, and on and on.  Our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson recently said, " express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." Maybe I should have led with that.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Disney World Day 2

Day 2 we woke up early so we could catch the first bus to Magic Kingdom.  The boys were absolutely amazed by the castle and the atmosphere... and then we introduced them to the rides.  We started out on It's a Small World and Matthew danced his way through the ride.  He loved it!  We made it through all of the rides in Fantasy Land- we even tried to pull the sword from the stone (no luck with that, by the way).  Next we headed to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.
By 2:00 we were ready for lunch.  Today we had a buffet scheduled at The Crystal Palace with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore.  While we were waiting to be seated a show called "Dreams Come True" began in front of Cinderella's Castle.  We could see it pretty well from where we were standing and the boys begged us to take them to watch it later.  It ended up being one of their most favorite things about Disney World.  We saw the show 4 times!  Anyway,  lunch was amazing and Sam and James loved meeting all of the characters.  Matthew's reaction was still absolute fear.  Poor kid.
After lunch and the show we went to Adventureland and did the Swiss Family Tree House (The boys need to see that movie!), the Jungle Cruise (Our driver had thee most obnoxious voice I have ever heard in my life!), Aladdin's Flying Carpet (Watch out, the camels really do spit!) and Pirates (Did you know they added Davey Jones, Captain Barbosa and Jack Sparrow to it?)!  We went back and rode Splash Mountain again and then it was time for the Electrical Parade and the fireworks.  Disney really knows how to put on a show!  Some of the fireworks looked like Tinker Bell flying over the castle- like at the beginning of Disney movies and then they had an actual person dressed as Tink fly on a zipline from the castle tower to the other side of the park.  Very cool! 
We went home exhausted and grabbed a quick snack before bed- at least Samuel, John and I did.  Matthew fell asleep on the way out of the park and James fell asleep on the bus.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Disney World Day 1

John and I have been talking about going to Walt Disney World since we got married.  This year we finally got our act together and took the boys.  It was undoubtedly one of the best (if not THE best) vacations I have ever had!  Those of you who have been to Disney World are probably shaking your heads, thinking I am crazy.  Yes, it was crazy and chaotic and exhausting but I loved every second of it.  We got to the park when it opened every morning and stayed until it closed.  We had lunches and a breakfast with the characters, we watched parades, shows, fireworks and went on enough rides to make even the stoutest stomach a little queasy.  We even managed to fit in a light saber duel with Darth Vader-- but let me start at the beginning:
We arrived in Florida about 7:00pm on the 13th.  We were wisked off to Disney's Port Orleans- Riverside resort while they took care of picking up our luggage.  Everything went really smoothly until our luggage wasn't delivered to the room until 2:00 am.  Then I started getting nervous that this vacation was headed for disaster, but that was the only snag.

First thing Sunday morning we got ready and headed for Disney's Animal Kingdom.  We arrived at Animal Kingdom as it opened.  We had enough time to sneak in a safari ride before the breakfast.  Sam and James got their first glimpse of what the week would entail and you could see that they were enthralled!  We had a breakfast date with Mickey and Donald and Daisy and Goofy at the safari breakfast just after 10.   We took our picture with Donald at the door and then meet the other three as they visited each table and stopped to hug the kids, take pictures and sign autographs.  We learned at this first breakfast one very important detail:  Matthew is terrified of the characters.  When Mickey came up to say hi, Matthew let out a scream like I have never heard from him before.  Anyway, the food was amazing, the service awesome and the characters took the time to pay attention to each of the kids.  It was a great way to start the day.  We spent the rest of the time wandering around hitting the major rides Kali RIver Rapids, Expedition Everest and Dinosaur and the minor rides as well.  Since we had Matthew, John and I did a parent pass for each of the rides.  He would take the boys on the ride, having to wait in line, etc., then he would pass the boys to me and I would get to take them in the fast pass line.  The boys ended up riding every ride twice within almost the same amount of time that everyone else rode them once.  Except for Dinosaur.  They went with me and then were too scared to go a second time with John! 
We saw two shows while we were at Animal Kingdom the first was a Lion King Spectacular where they sang a mix of songs from The Lion King and also had some fun additions.  This was my and John's favorite show from the whole week.  The second show we saw was Finding Nemo: The Musical.  I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  It was actually pretty good and the way they created the characters was genius. 
We were so full from our breakfast that we ended up only having a snack at the park instead of lunch and then we ate dinner back at the hotel since the park closed at 5. 
Phenomenal first day!  Just look at the pictures.  Oh yeah, we bought Sam and James some mouse ears- after all, you can't bring your kids to WDW and not get them mouse ears!  Matthew borrowed James' ears from time to time.  This kid seriously does NOT like hats!


Saturday, November 13, 2010


I was raised in the LDS church.  At church we refer to leaders and teachers and other members of the church as Brother So-and-So and Sister Whozit.  It is a recognition that we are brothers and sisters as we are all children of God.  It is also a term of respect for your elders and for those in leadership positions.  So now I find myself in a quandry.  I am now officially an adult (and have been for some time as much as I choose to deny it) but I find I am having a hard time calling those who are still clearly older than me by their first name.  Old habits certainly die hard.  I have been working with one particular brother whose grown-up children are all (but one) older than I am.  He was in the bishopric when I first met him as well.  So now that we work together in a committee he insists I call him by his first name.  Even at his insistance, I have to supress a giggle every time I say his name- like I am breaking some sort of taboo.  But it seems, what I view as a term of respect, he feels it just makes him seem older.
So now that I am on the Relief Society presidency I am faced by the same issue with some of the women that I will be working with.  Am I the only one to ever feel this way?  Please feel free to weigh in!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Party and Halloween

This year we had our third annual Pumpkin Party ala the Grey Family tradition.  We had cookie decorating and crafts and the indispensible pumpkin carving as well as gobbs of yummy food.  For the first time in our history of pumpkin parties we actually had nice weather.  So the kids had a great time playing on the swingset too.  My lovely friend Jewels took pictures for me since I was busy trying to juggle set up and Matthew.  Thanks Jewels!!

The Halloween costumes for Sam and James turned out even cuter than I thought they would be.  They still play with them and will probably be wearing them year round.  =)  The only downside of the costumes, according to Sam, is that he had to keep explaining to their friends who he was supposed to be.  Matthew wore the monkey costume that we had bought for James when he was little.  I had forgotten how cute it was!  Since Halloween was on a Sunday we partied the entire weekend.  School party and church trunk-or-treating on Friday, Pumpkin Party on Saturday and Halloween trick-or-treating on Sunday.  After the trick-or-treating we hung out with our good friends Kelly and Chris and had some hot chocolate to warm up.

We had a great weekend!

Monday, November 1, 2010

She is good

I was driving James home from his art class today.  His special friend Gracie is in the class with him and had brought him a treat bag for Halloween.  The following conversation took place as he was reviewing the contents of the treat bag:

James:  Wow!  Mom, how did Gracie know that M&Ms are my favorite?
Me:  I don't know?
James:  Mom, she put skittles in here too!
Me:  Awesome.
James:  Mom, she gave me a gummy saver too.  How did she know I like those?
Me:  (kind of laughing at this point)  I don't know.
James:  Mom, she gave me all of my favorites!  Man, she is GOOD!

I laughed the rest of the way home.

Halloween and pumpkin party pics to come!