Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gobble Gobble Gobble!

While I was a missionary I had the chance to prepare a turkey. Each year since then I have prepared a turkey on Thanksgiving and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a lot of work, but once finished, that bird provides good food for at least a week after Thanksgiving. I have realized that with all the fuss over getting the turkey just right, I do not find the chances to give thanks like I should. So here are some shout outs:

Thank you to my parents. I don't think I have any idea the sacrifices that they have made for me, and continue to make for me. If there's one thing that's a constant it's them putting the needs of their kids (and now Sophie) ahead of their own. They have taught me all the essentials to being successful in this life, and have given me a great example of how to apply that which they have taught. I can not imagine how different things would be if I didn't have my moms and pops.

Thank you to Tammy and co. She has always been a good friend, and one who is always willing to straighten me out when necessary. She has been a greart example of charity, and always made me feel like there is nothing I can't do. Growing up, she would lift me up when I failed and encourage me to try again. She was always willing to lend a listening ear, and helped me learn how to respect women and treat them right. Jeff, who is taking care of Tammy, and Sophie who is just a bundle of joy.

Thank you to the rest of my family. I have always been blessed to have a lot of cousins, aunts and uncles. I have always felt like I have had multiple sets of parents, as my uncles and aunts have treated me as their own. And I have learned a great deal from each one of my many cousins.

And finally my friends. Where would I be without you guys? And I know that it's more like charity work for you than anything else... so thanks for taking one for the team.

The funny thing about gratitude is that no matter how hard you try to express it, the more you do, the more you realize that you will never be able to adequately express gratitude for the blessings in your life. No harm in trying though.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth?

I have finals coming up in a couple of weeks. I am not prepared. And yet, somehow, I spent about 13 hours yesterday at the magical kingdom known as Disneyland. The rationalization was easy... all my good friends who also are unprepared for finals week were going too.

The die-hards wanted to get there at 9:00 am. The old man of the group tried to barter for 11, but the die-hards were girls; and since the seemingly grumpy old man has a soft heart, the plan ended up being to arrive there at 9:00. For the most part we were punctual; however, it was quite ironic that the mastermind behind this whole excursion was late because she just had to stop at McDonald's on the way. The slight delay did not hamper anyone’s spirits as Christmas themed Minnie ears were purchased and donned for the rest of the day, in spite of the pain that the kid sized head bands caused.

I was expecting to meander around the park, going to whatever rides came up, but apparently some members of our group decided to do some research in the days leading up to the trip. That research led to an intricate plan which involved going to the Disneyland rides first, and then switching over to California Adventure Land later. I was skeptical, but I think the plan paid off, as we avoided lines until the late afternoon when we made our way back over to Disneyland. Not only did the research give rise to our attack plan of the park, but it also made each of us scour the park looking for people dressed in all blue, because they had bagfuls of “Dream Passes.” When we eventually found the smurf-like dream pass carrying people, we found out they could not be swayed by any of our stunning good looks.

Shortly following our disappointment with the stingy, rule-abiding smurfs, we went to the Hollywood Hotel of Terror (I may have butchered the name of that ride.) Interestingly enough, one of our most experienced guides, who was visiting Disneyland for the third time in a month, thought it was an actual hotel and had never ridden the ride before. Between laughing about that little factoid, and the large piece of turkey stuck to the old man’s shoe, the wait for the line didn’t seem so long.

The rest of the day was somewhat of a blur. We tried our hand at doing cartoon voices, with a scene from Aladdin. Apparently Disneyland brings out the kid in each of us, because although it wasn’t Caspie’s turn to do the voice over, she had to throw in a little improv of his line “in the rrrrrrrrrough…” at the end to one-up her sister. It worked. Speaking of grown-ups acting as kids, at the Turtle talk show, we sat on the floor in the front, and I was by far the most enthusiastic learner of Turtle, as I would say “dude” and “cha” with more vigor than the many kids present. With the exception of the ol’ man, all the guys came home with sore armpits because of the circle game that was started in the Space mountain line. But even without taking hits to his armpits during the wait, he somehow managed to not score any points in the Buzz Light Year shooting gallery. A big goose egg. That’s even more embarrassing when Caspie claims to have scored over 110,000 points. In the line to It’s a Small World we started an ongoing iPhone Connect 4 tournament, which was efficient at humbling me. When we finally got into see the beautiful scenes of ethnic nutcrackers singer, our token non-Asian friend made sure we all realized that her heritage’s display was bigger than all the Asian ones combined.

Even with all the rides, the day could not have been complete without good food. And some of us spent the majority of the day eating. It started and ended with dole whips. By the end of the night, we had learned that the correct pronunciation was dole whips, with the emphasis on the whips making it sound more like a squeak than anything else. Kent managed to consistently have food in his hand, and didn’t let the large turkey leg he ate just minutes before deter him from eating a bread bowl full of calm chowder. I think he had two of everything that Disneyland had to offer.

Surprisingly enough, with all the fun that we had, the night ended with two of the girls crying. I am not sure if it was the high-pitched squeal that somehow came out of my mouth as Mickey defeated the wicked dragon of Fantasia, or the beautiful scene of snow falling with fireworks blasting, or if it was the fact that a day with friends was coming to an end, but they cried. I think it was a more happy teary eyes thing than anything else (I know that was one of the girls, the other I am pretty sure was balling, although I have no proof.) With people crying from joy at the end of the day, how could it not be the happiest place on the earth?

Although I must admit yesterday was quite magical, I also must admit that spending all day with friends makes anywhere a happy, magical place. I think no matter where we were yesterday, had the group of friends I went with found a place to have good, clean fun all day, we would have made just as many amazing memories. Disneyland just happens to be a place where friends and families are able to do that. Before yesterday I was skeptical that Disneyland really was such a happy place; now I agree that it’s a happy wonderland. I just think it has more to do with the group you go with than it does the actual place itself, although the setting doesn’t hurt!