Thursday, November 27, 2014

Oh Disneyland...

Time does crazy things to memory.  Probably, usually more for the good than for the bad.  So it’s been exactly 23 months since I had a real Disneyland experience.  23 months.  That is almost two years.  That is the time a missionary would spend in another country, the time it could take to make 2 babies, not just one.  In other words, yes, it’s a really long time.
It’s not that I haven’t had the opportunity to go to Disneyland.  Heaven knows I’ve driven by it at least 10 times in that 23 month period.  But every time I considered visiting the most magical, happy place on earth I kept doubting myself.  “Was it really worth the ENORMOUS price tag?”  “Is it really THAT fun?”  I don’t know why but over and over again I would question if it was really worth it.
Once again this is one of those times that I try so hard to think of creative enough and descriptive enough and wonderful enough words to try and describe such an event.  Let’s just put it this way.  On October 22nd, 2014 the stars aligned and my world was perfect.
I know there are people out there that don’t get it, people out there that never will.  I just hope that somewhere somehow those people can feel the magic that I feel every single time I step under the bridge that takes me into a fairy-tale land. 

Saturday was such a perfect day for many reasons:
      -  The weather was perfect!  Not too hot and not too cold.  Blue skies and sun for miles.
2.     -   I know many will disagree with this but I like going to Disneyland on busier days.  Longer hours, everything is typically open, more entertainment and shows, and of course my personal favorite more people to weave in and out of.  (Clearly I think choosing to go on slower days is prime for kids, easier to maneuver strollers, shorter lines, and no need for longer hours)
3.       - Christmas.   There are few places I’ve ever seen that have done Christmas as well as Disneyland.  This year was no expectation.

4 The most important thing to make my day absolutely perfect were the people I was with.  Really this is the key ingredient for a perfect Disneyland day.  Because I get it.  Not everyone does Disneyland the same.  Some people go for the parades, or the shops, or the pins????  I went with a group that had the exact same idea of what perfect Disneyland day should look like.  And man were we like a well-oiled machine!

If for no one else, I want to go back and do a play by play of the entire day.  Why?  Just to relive every moment one more time.
I should probably start with the team members.
1.       - Brittney.  Brittney is my great friend and colleague I talk about here.  It was because of her that this trip was really possible!  When I heard Jason had a meeting at the dental school by Disneyland I convinced her to drive down with us, go to Disneyland with me, and fly back to Provo on Sunday for $43… you can’t beat that offer with a stick!
2.     - Jake.  After Brittney and I made our plans to go to Disneyland I decided to throw out the offer to other members of my family.  I was shocked at the response.  So when Brittney got back together with her boyfriend and asked if he could come I was thrilled for the magical moment they could have! 
3.      - Craig and Marcie.  They got married exactly 1 year and 6 days previous to our Disney adventure.  They had spent their honeymoon at Disney World so Craig had talked of surprising Marice with a Disneyland trip for their 1 year anniversary.  Now I don’t know how my parents unconsciously got all of their kids to love Disneyland so much.  But it worked.  Even Broc, a typically calm chill guy, turns into a different animal at Disneyland.  His wife says she’s never seen him willingly get out of bed before 9….. until their first trip to Disneyland.  He was bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to go long before the park opened.  Craig is the same way.  And luckily for all of us, Marcie loves it to! 
4.       - Lars and Caitlin.  First, of course, Disneyland for me, almost has to be tied to Lars.  We have so many stinkin’ memories in that park.  So I was THRILLED when I heard that he nor Caitlin were working that day so they would join us on our adventure.  Honestly, as annual pass holders, I expected them to show up at noon…. Do a couple rides with us, and head on their way.  It’s crazy how being a pass holder does that to you.  It’s wonderful!  You can come to Disneyland for a ride or two…. Maybe hit up a show, or even just come for a snack and leave.  No pressure.  No hassle.  Ah… it’s wonderful.  But I was shocked when they showed up early in the morning and stayed with us the WHOLE day!  It was so fun to have Caitlin with us for the first time ever.  She was such a natural and our style of Disneyland.  Itw as so fun watching her cute little frame dart between groups of people through the streets of the park.  She was a master weaver.  (Which is a huge compliment…. I know weird but true)

The day started early.  We were so excited to go into the park even before it opened…. Our plan got a wrench thrown in it when the parking garage was closed………. Lines of cars, 2 miles of walking, and 45 minutes later we finally made it in the park.
We headed straight to DCA.  This hurt my heart.  I will always think Disneyland and DCA are not the same and that DCA will never be able to compete…. Of course because of the nostalgia for it all for me. But Craig and I had schemed through our plans for weeks and we knew that first and for most we needed two fast passes.  1 to Radiator Springs and the other to World of Color.  I was hesitant about the World of Color… because you see the Christmas firework show at Disneyland is AMAZING!  But I figured I would go with the flow and do World of Color…. I had no idea who wonderful the World of Color Christmas edition would be!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After getting both fast passes we headed to California Screamin’.  Man I love that ride. 
“Second thoughts….. too late!”

Next we headed into Disneyland.  You know, you always think you remember how magical it is, walking under the bridge.  You start to hear the music, smell the goodies, but it’s not until you make your way around the round about and see the Castle  that it hits you.  Ah.  It’s like I’m home.  
Our plan was to head straight to Splash Mt to get fast passes.  But when we got there, it was already hot outside, the line was 5 minutes long…. So away we went! 

Next we hit up Thunder Mt.  I hadn’t been on the ride since the renovation.  Sadly, there wasn’t anything to really brag about.  But the good news is, they didn’t ruin any of the fun!  It’s still one of my favorite rides!  Marcie, Craig, and I squished in the back.  I turned around the watch the goats…. It was perfect!

After we got fast passes to Space Mt we went on Pirates.  Man, that ride never gets old.  But at this point we realized we needed to pace ourselves.  It was time for a break.  So we headed to Coke Corner to eat cream cheese pretzels, drink Diet Cokes, and watch the piano guy.  Love that guy.  Love that area! 

After enjoying Main Street and our break it was already time for Radiator Springs!  I have never been on the ride so I was pretty dang excited!  It was a really fun ride.  I loved it.  I wish it was a little bit faster… but overall it was a great time. 

We got fast passes to Tower of Terror and went on Soarin’ Over California. 
Marcie and Craig had been raving about a sandwich shop in Downtown Disney since their honey moon so we went out there for lunch.  It was absolutely delicious!  But my favorite part was they had an ice skating rink right next to where we were eating.  The ice of course was super wet because…. It was at least 75 degrees outside.  But they still let people try and skate on it.  It made for a really slippery adventure…. Of course it wouldn’t be California if they didn’t make everyone wear a helmet as they skated…

We got back into Disneyland as the parade was going.  I think the perfect way to watch the parade is walking so it was perfect!  We walked over to Space Mt and got to watch most of the parade.
After the Space Mt we headed to Indiana Jones to get fast passes and went on the Jungle Cruise.  Excuse me, the Jingle Cruise.  It was absolutely fantastic!  The whole theme of the ride was that the people had to make their own Christmas ordinments because the decorations sent to the Jungle got lost.  Then throughout the whole cruise the animals all had found the boxes of ordiments.  All the jokes were centered around Christmas.  It was fantastic! 


At this point it was time for our Tower of Terror fast pass so we hurried over to Tower of Terror.  It’s crazy how much more you feel a ride when you haven’t been on it in 2 years.  I loved it!  I love the feeling of my stomach dropping with each fall! Next we went on California Screamin’ again on our way to Toy Story Mania.  I ate my very first (own) churro.  It was pretty dang fantastic. 
I think it’s at this point I need to explain.  Sure the parks were pretty crowded.  Sure we waiting in some lines.  Never over 40 minutes for a ride I think?  But here’s the crazy thing, with the group of people I was with, time flew by!  Standing in line, just talking, was almost just as fun as actually being on the ride!
After Toy Story, it was time to use our Indiana Jones fast passes…… of course, no one will be shocked to hear, it was broke down.  So instead we figured it was time for dinner.  We went somewhere none of us had been before, The Jolley Holiday.  It was absolutely lovely!  I got a Caprese sandwich that was delicious!

After, Lars, Caitlin and I went on the Tea Cups.  I must for Lars and me!  It was amazing, as always.  I just love the lanterns and the trees especially at night!


At this point it was time for our World of Color show.  The World of Color Christmas edition was so stinkin’ fantastic I can’t even explain it!  My favorite thing was the sing-a-long where they even put the words up for everyone to sing!  At the end there were HUGE snowflakes the flew up into the sky.  

But Marcie, Craig, and I didn’t really see the snowflakes very much because…….. we ran to watch the fireworks!!!!  It worked out so perfect I couldn’t stand it!  Once again I think that walked through the fireworks sometimes provides the best seats.  We were actually right in front of the castle as White Christmas came on and the snow started to fall.  It’s probably a good thing that we were walking to no one saw the couple of tears fall down my cheeks. 

We headed right back to Indiana Jones. 
At this point we talked about it.  We had been on every single ride we had hoped for…. Except for Peter Pan.  So we went and jumped in line for Peter.  We were sad when we realized the Pirate Ships weren’t moving.  The ride wasn’t working.  But people were still standing in line.  After 15 minutes or so Craig said, “Let’s give it 5 more minutes”  On minute 4.5 the ride started working.  So we ended our trip on the very most magical ride of them all.





Disneyland.  You did it again.  You made me realize no matter the cost, no matter the crowds, no matter the feat to get there….. you will always be the happiest place on earth. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Obedience

The other day I was listening to a talk by President Monson on my way to work about Obedience. I was thinking about why it is so important. I guess I always thought it was our way to prove to God we loved Him and wanted to serve Him. Although I think that's true... I am learning the strength it gives us.

I was thinking about how really when it comes down to it, it's the obedience that gives us so much comfort and peace within the Gospel. Once we get over the idea that if we are obedient we will be "blessed" with everything going our way, we can see the value even more clearly. I was reminded of this again when I got "blindsided". Now that things have calmed down and test results are back I can say once again, I don't have a threatening cancer.  But what if I did?  What if I was facing a horrible awful disease?

What I love about obedience is the comfort and peace it can bring into our lives. Sure it doesn't mean things will go our way but it does mean that God is on our side and in the end that is all that matters. The ultimate example to me of this was when someone I love possibly had a very dangerous health problem that could easily quickly kill the person. The person's response, "If that's God's will then it'll be okay". She wasn't even just saying it. She really meant it with everything in her. Talk about faith. I
believe that kind of faith comes from years and years of obedience.  I gained an understanding of the principle of the 10 Virgins in a way I hadn't previously understood. Years and years of obedience gives us confidence in the Lord and His plan.

So my new goal in life. Be a more letter of the law obedience kinda person. Why? Because man oh man, sometimes faith is all we have and I need the peace that comes with it. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Definitive Ranking of Trials.

The other day I had an experience where I was sitting around with a group of women who were, as righteously as possible they could be, ranking the women they knew and the trials and challenges of their lives.  I am not being sarcastic.  I am being serious.  They were trying to do a good deed.  They were trying to help people...as they sat and ranked trials.

I've been thinking about this for some time now, the idea of trials and as Buzzfeed would call it "The definitive ranking of trials."

I've been wondering why it is in human nature that we have to try and put a number or a some type of scale on everything.  The fastest or smartest or prettiest or for this post.... the hardest.  Even recently, someone close to me got a kidney stone.  Actually two people ironically.  But that's beside the point.  Whenever I talked to someone about the kidney stone almost everyone's instant response is, "I hear that is worse than labor!"  OR "I've had both a kidney stone and a child and the kidney stone is worse."

Now maybe that is true or maybe it's not.    Clearly, as I watched said person uncontrollably shaking in unimaginable pain just begging for some type of morphine.... wasn't that enough to know that he was going through a tough time?  Wasn't the look of pain so great that I knew he was being pushed beyond his limits and that I should have sympathy for him?  Why do we have to put a measure of how painful or how hard or how bad?

I guess the reason why I am bothered by the "definitive ranking of trials" is because of my previous statement.  It's like there is only so much kindness or sympathy allotted in the world.  If a trial isn't hard enough you don't deserve sympathy, you don't deserve kindness.

I couldn't help but wonder if I told that group of women my trials where would they have ranked me?  I wonder if I have gone through enough hard things to be worthy of making the list of possible speakers at this upcoming event.  Honestly I don't know.

So badly I wish I could view everyone as God views them.  Love them as He does.  Be as kind and wonderful as I know I should.  Sometimes I get down because so badly I want that but I know I am far from it.

The other day I was complaining about someone who did something pretty terrible. Jason's response was the kick in the pants that I so badly needed.  "I wonder if we'll get to heaven and see the trials and disabilities he had in this life and just be blown away with how well he got along."

What an awesome perspective.  Not to think that everyone else besides us have disabilities..... but to remember and realize this life is a test for everyone.  Everyone is being tried and tested to the best of their limits... whether the test or trial looks difficult to us or not doesn't matter.  It's not our place.  We are not the Judge.  And everyday I am so grateful for that.

Our job in our own individual way is to help each other become who we are supposed to be.  I think of C.S. Lewis quote, "You've never met a mere mortal."  We all are in the mix of a trial with the purpose of becoming something greater.  No matter what that trial looks like on the outside to anyone else.

I listened to my favorite pep talk by President Hinckley again the other day.  His dedication to the Gordon B. Hinckley building at BYU-IDAHO.
Every time I listen to this talk, I feel I can see a little bit more of how God sees me.  Of what God wants from me.

There is no end in sight of the goodness you can do. 

Sometimes I get so depressed wondering what my purpose is.  What am I fighting for.  How do I want to become excellent.  And then I listen to President Hinckley and it hits me so strong.  We all have gifts and talents.  We all have a direct and individual mission of how we can draw others towards God.

Now be faithful, be true, go forward, be ambitious, don't short circuit yourselves, don't stop now.  Keep going, keep going.  Educate your minds and your spirit and never loose sight of the fact that you are a child of God with a divine destiny and capable of great and good and wonderful things.  Don't sell yourself short, don't cheapen yourselves, you know who you are, you know that you are a child of God and that your Heavenly Father expects something great and noble and good of each of you.

When I hear President Hinckly say that, I feel something, I yearn for something, something so much bigger than me.  And so badly that is what I want.  That is what I need to focus on.  This is where I should be headed.

Now I got a little off track.... oops.  Back to trials.  I wish that we could see how difficult life is for everyone.  Especially now when lives are so public.  We have this perception that there exists a picture perfect life.  My friend today stated, "I just want to be normal."  Being the solver not the empathetic friend that I am, I responded with, "There is no such thing as normal."  Ok not really, I think I really just said I was sorry.  But so badly I wanted to say it.  Everyone struggles.  Everyone goes through hard things.  And honestly, I think this fact is why I believe in a God.  I want to believe there is a purpose behind the fight.  A reason to reach higher and be better.

So why did I write this post?  Because I want a kick in the pants.  I want to be more loving.   I want to be more kind.  I want to be my sympathetic.  I need to remember that everyone is in the midst of a test and I should try and be helpful no matter how big or little or easy or hard their lot might seem.    

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How we spend most our free time...

I remember when she told me.  I was blown away.  I was actually really confused.  But most important, I just didn't understand.  What did she that was so confusing, "We just got season tickets to the semi pro hockey team."

This kindred spirit of mine.... I'd known for years.  And let's be honest, I kinda pride on trying to really understand the people around me.  You know, what makes them tick, what brings them joy, you know what "their" meaning of life is.  So when she said she was going to be spending almost every Friday night all winter long watching sweaty men dance around on ice just waiting for a fight.... I was shocked.

But now that I'm married I get it.

In marriage you have two options, join in on your husband's hobbies... or spend a lot of time apart. For some women, they love that time apart!  They love to get to do the things they love to do.  But of course, my never ending crisis in my life, I don't like hobbies.  I've written a post, I don't believe I posted, on being a jack of all trades but a master of none.  I have a guitar, a DSLR camera, cookbooks, a road bike, intellectual books, heck I even have knitting needles.  I can kinda do a lot of things, but am passionate about none of them.  I don't actually really care about doing anything..... I just like doing something as long as I can do it with people.

Even Disneyland.  It's about the people.

So when Jason decided to get back into rock climbing... I had two options.  Be scared of heights and spend a lot of time alone or.... get over it.  I can't say I have gotten over it.... or even close but I do absolutely love being outside, hiking, and getting to be with Jason.  So I guess you could say I love it.

Fall Break we headed to southern Utah.  First Jason was excited to do a climb up Cedar Mountain.
I love driving up Cedar Mountain.... especially in the fall.
Here is the only picture taken of the actually climb though..... you can't really tell but this is a cute little hole that I cuddled up in while not belaying.

The next day we headed down to Zion to repel down the side of Angels Landing.  I always love this hike.  The repel.... started super easy, but then got a lot scarier.
We looked so official with our rope "backpacks".  This first picture is the beginning of the climb.  It was very easy repelling.  Since we were in this cute little canyon area it didn't feel high up or scary.
But once we got out of the canyon area.... that was another story.  Some might find it a shame but I did not look down the ENTIRE time we were on the face of the cliff.  If I just focused up or straight at the wall I didn't have to worry.
Sadly we really couldn't get cool pictures. (because we were both holding on for dear life.)  So badly I wish we could have gotten a picture of us both slowly descending the last 120 feet that were a free fall...

But oh well.  Instead this last picture was where we landed at the end.  It was super cool to see an area of Zion that I have never seen before or never would have if we didn't repel.
It was on this climb that I realized I need approach shoes.  (Don't worry I didn't know what approach shoes were either) Up to this point in all of Jason and I's adventures I've always just worn old running shoes... not the best traction.  So finally, I let Jason buy me some approach shoes on eBay.
Yes.... not pretty in the slightest, but I think this officially makes me a climber.  So here we go.......

Oh here are two pictures I should throw in one of from my trail run a couple weeks ago and one from a bike ride up the canyon.  I really am so freaking lucky to live where I do.  I love the beauty that Provo Canyon has to offer.  If only it didn't snow..................



One more picture for the prettiest view while we were climbing the other night.  I'm sure some people think I am crazy for climbing.  Especially with my fear of heights.  But seriously, I love being outside.  And this is hard to explain but usually I am only outside to run or bike.  But there is only so long you can be outside biking or running before you are too tired.  I love climbing because it gives you another excuse to be outside.  I love nature.  I love seeing the leaves change, I love watching the sunset, I love spotting animals.  And it is because of climbing that I get to do that more.  So I guess it's true, I love climbing.