Two trips and so much to be thankful for

We have a birthday tradition in our family that started when Noah turned three. For each third birthday we celebrate at Disneyland. Mary Jane turned three on November 20th so this was our last third birthday trip. We were all so excited to go and the trip turned out just magical, after all, it is Disneyland. We stayed at the Castle Inn and Suites, just so Mary Jane could stay in a castle and she was thrilled about it. We spent three days in the park, the last day being Mary Jane’s birthday. Our good friends the LeSeurs were also there and it was great palling around with them. We rode all of the rides we wanted, most of them more than once. Noah and Emmy were tall enough to ride every ride and Jonah could ride all of them except two. We spent a lot of time trading off between Brian and me taking the kids on rides but there was very little complaining and every one was excited for whoever got to ride the ride. It’s a lot of work to go to Disneyland but it is so worth it. I just love being there with Brian and the kids and getting so excited about everything. It was decorated for Christmas which just makes it even more magical. Noah’s excitement after conquering California Screaming’, Emmy’s pure joy and meeting Tianna for the very first time, Jonah’s satisfaction in riding and loving everything Star Wars and Mary Jane’s wonderment as she sang and danced in the boat in Small World, those moments are unforgettable and why we just keep going back.

Our last day we went out to Huntington Beach. It was 80 degrees and an unbelievably perfect day for late November. The kids loved it, running in and out of the water, building in the sand, being silly with their friends. I loved watching them and playing with them. Being at the beach with my kids and them loving it is a dream come true! Too bad we don’t live closer.

We got home late Sunday night, had two days to recuperate, do laundry, and pack so we could be on the road again on Wednesday. We drove up to Moses Lake, WA to be with Brian’s sister Kim and her family, Brian’s parents and his sister Karin for Thanksgiving. Instead of heading into beautiful, warm weather we drove straight into and icy winter storm. The roads from the Utah/Idaho border to Boise were pretty frightening. It definitely wasn’t a relaxing drive but we made it!

We spent Thanksgiving day at the Truman’s. This was our first Thanksgiving as a family away from home. Because Kim has cancer and is not doing well we decided to simplify and order Thanksgiving dinner from Safeway. It was certainly different but turned out great. I was basically on warm up duty. All the food is precooked, you just have to warm it up. The kids and Kim sat around the table and the rest of us sat on chairs and on the floor. Dinner was probably the least significant part of the day, which was different, but good. It was just about being together. The kids played great and loved being together. I think it was good for us to just be there. On Friday we took all the kids to a movie while Scott and Ralph took Kim to her radiation and chemo treatments. We all got home about the same time and just played the rest of the day. We were only there two days but it was important. Right now that’s kind of all we can do. We just wait and watch and pray and love and support Kim and Scott and their kids.

As I’ve thought back on the last year I can see the hand of the Lord significantly in my life. He has guided my path and prepared me so much. I think about the lesson I taught on following the prophet and the declaration I made in that lesson that I will stand with the living prophets. There has been turmoil in the world and in the church and my testimony of our living prophet remains solid. I’ve seen changes in my children as they learn and grow. I think about the prompting that I had to challenge our little family and my extended family to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I did not know that one of the people it would affect most significantly would be my 9 year old Noah. He took the challenge to heart and has stayed on track better than I have! I pray that this is a habit that will remain with him throughout his life. I think about sitting at lunch with friends of 20+ years, laughing and crying together as we share life’s ups and downs, and the connection we still feel as we have all stayed strong in the gospel. I feel such love and gratitude to the Lord for the abundance of love I feel for Him and from Him. Indeed, there is so much to be thankful for.

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