Friday, April 25, 2014


Easter Sunday was a bit of a blur what with having just returned from Disneyland late the night before, a much anticipated early morning reunion with Ben, Joey, and Rocky who had spent the week at Nana and Papa Grover's house, the usual pre-church Sunday morning rigmarole of baths, breakfast (in this case jellybeans), getting everyone dressed in their Easter outfits, and attempting to coax a few Easter pictures from the boys (in this case LOTS of jellybeans!).

Thank goodness the Easter bunny was on the ball and prepared the boys' baskets before our vacation!

Nana Grover was clever enough to color-code the eggs for the egg hunt so that the participants of all ages each got a fair chance to find the candy-filled eggs.

 The Easter bunny brought Hank and Max color-your-own kites; Sunday was perfect kite-flying weather.

 I conceded my title to Aaron and Sue in this year's intense egg smash war.

We did have a lovely church meeting, but in our haste to fit in all of the secular Easter celebrations...the Easter baskets, the Easter outfits, the Easter egg hunt, and dying the Easter eggs...I really didn't have the opportunity to contemplate and reflect on the true meaning and purpose of the holiday. I love Easter. I love the Cadbury eggs and the chocolate bunnies. I love decorating a namesake egg and then smashing it in an egg war battle (a much loved family tradition). I love watching the kids race around frantically filling their baskets with eggs "hidden" at an Easter egg hunt. But what I really love, is the quiet time spent in study, pondering Jesus Christ's atonement and resurrection and it's penetrating impact in my life...and I missed that this year. And so, I demanded a do-over! That's right, an Easter do-over! I spent my Sunday evening and Monday morning watching beautiful and touching videos depicting Jesus' final days on earth and read from the scriptures and magazines the testimonies of His apostles past and present. In my personal study, the message that spoke to my heart this Easter, is that because of Christ, I am given a new beginning. I can try and fail, and try and fail, and try and fail, and try again. We celebrate Easter once a year, but it's significance, Jesus' triumph over death and our ability to repent and be forgiven in His name, is a practice that I call upon every day. As much as I so badly want to be like Him, as I inventory my thoughts and actions at the close of each day....I come up vastly lacking. Jesus Christ lives, and because of Him, I can pray and ask my Father in Heaven for a fresh start to begin anew each day. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Disneyland Part II

I'm pretty sure in the four days we spent in Disneyland we covered every square inch of that park...twice! If there was a ride, we rode it. If there was a treat, we ate it. If there was a line, we waited in it. If there was a character, we greeted it. If there was a show or a parade, we watched it. After the closing fireworks display on our final night at the park, as we walked back towards our hotel, I wanted to make sure that the boys didn't have any final lingering wishes and kept asking them, "do you want to ride the Buzz Lightyear ride one more time?," and "do you want to say goodbye to Mickey before we go?" I know we did everything we came to do and then some because after four days of hitting the park hard, the boys finally told me they were ready to leave. The pictures speak for themselves:

The Rides:
Max was probably the only 5 year old tall enough to ride the big kid rides. 

It was so much fun to ride beside Hank and Max. Their nervous excitement as we waited for each ride to begin made the experience fun. When we would be waiting in queue at the top of a huge drop, I'd just tell myself, "If my five year old can do this, so can I. Wheeee!"

Hank and Max agreed that their favorite right, hands down, was the California Screamin' rollercoaster. I lost count how many times we rode that attraction. 

The Characters:

Lucky for us, we were able to skip over all of that princess junk, and just met a few of the major characters. Hank thought it was fun to give them high 5s and hugs, but Max was a little creeped out.

It seems like every time we passed a concession stand Hank and Max would beg to get a treat. We did indulge in several treats, but I decided when we ate dinner at Goofy's Kitchen it was my chance to let the boys fill their cravings for sweets. The literally loaded up their plates with cookies, icecream sundaes, and cupcakes and I tried really hard not to say anything. You only live once, right??

The Lines:

It wouldn't be Disneyland if there weren't mile-long lines! We used our fast passes to strategize our plan of attack to minimize wait times, but there was still quite a bit of time spent waiting in endless lines. For the most part, Hank and Max's enthusiasm was so high that they didn't mind the wait.

Happiest Place on Earth? Ha! Like clockwork, every afternoon Max would start to get tired and "hangry" (hungry + angry) and we'd have to perk him back up with a quick sugary snack or a rest on dad's shoulders and then he'd go back to being his happy, chipper self for the rest of the day.

Say Cheese!

After our millionth time on each ride, the boys had figured out where the camera was positioned and would smile or stick out their tongues as the photo was snapped and then race to the TV screens to see their silly faces when the ride was over. But my favorite photo was the first one below, an honest candid, that captured Aaron's true bravery (he claims he was closing his eyes so he wouldn't get wet....uh huh, sure).


Family Time:

I asked Hank and Max to tell me what their favorite part about the vacation was and they both answered that the California Screamin' ride was their favorite thing. I think for me it wasn't the rides or the food or the shows, it was the chance to really spend some quality time with our two oldest sons and make memories together that I hope they'll carry with them always. I don't always appreciate what fun little people Hank and Max are as individuals when we're just muddling through our everyday family life. It was fun for me to get to take off my "mom hat" for a little bit, and just play with my kids and see how special they really are. Holding hands with Hank all day long as we walked through the park and hearing Max squeal as we prepared to take off on a fast ride were precious moments that made the trip...magical!

Farewell, Disneyland!

P.S. Our trip wouldn't have been possible without the assistance of Nana and Papa Grover who loved and cared for Ben, Joey, and Rocky while we were gone. We so appreciate their love and service. Thank you!