Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Death of Gratitude?

Just be forewarned, I am on a soapbox today. I noticed this year, for the first time, that there are people who are trying to change Thanksgiving and what it is all about. I knew that there were people who were offended by Halloween, and that is why the schools have fall celebrations instead of Halloween parties. I knew that Christmas is offensive to some people and thus the schools have winter activites and vacations and can't sing Christmas carols. I'm not happy about that, but as long as I can celebrate the way I want, I can live with the schools being sterile. But for some reason it is really bugging me that they are trying to get rid of Thanksgiving.

What first brought this to my attention was PBS. I was watching Clifford with the kids, and I recognized the story as one of the Clifford books we have - Clifford's First Thanksgiving. So it was a shock as I watched it to see that they never mentioned the word "Thanksgiving" once in the whole show. They were going to Grandma's house for Fall Feast, and they kept wishing everyone a happy "fall feast." What in the world is Fall Feast?! It makes Thanksgiving sound like a day to stuff ourselves full of food (which, of course, some of us do, but hopefully that isn't the whole point). What about the gratitude part? Why is being thankful so offensive to some people? It is not just religious people who have things to be grateful for, so where is the offense? How can counting your blessings be a bad thing for society?

I heard an argument for not teaching about Thanksgiving this past weekend. The teacher in the conversation said something to the effect that the pilgrims invaded America and took the Indians land, so why would we teach about them? Now I could go on for pages in a rebuttal to that, but suffice it for me to say I am rolling my eyes and biting my tongue. Although the pilgrims are credited with having the first Thanksgiving, to give gratitude for their harvest that the Indians helped them grow, it was actually Abraham Lincoln who set aside an official holiday to give thanks.

1863 Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Abraham Lincoln

How can anyone argue with his list of things to be thankful for? I'm sure they don't. My guess it is that people are offended (a small minority) that he gives the thanks to the Lord. However, you can't erase your heritage. Even if you don't believe in religion or a higher being, the fact is that this country was founded on religious principles by religious people. And whether you want to thank a higher being or not, you can still show gratitude to teachers, parents, soldiers, etc. Maybe this world would be a better place if we focused on the good in our lives, the things we are thankful for, instead of on all the bad things going on in the world. Perhaps that is one of the reasons gratitude is a commandment.

My children do not learn anything about Thanksgiving at school. I haven't asked why, but I probably will now. However, whether or not our education system chooses to teach about Thanksgiving is not going to dictate my life. My children will learn about Thanksgiving. They will learn about gratitude. I hope they will show gratitude and feel thankful for their many blessings. There was a great talk by Elder Eyring in this last conference about gratitude. He says that it is through the power of the Holy Ghost that we recognize the Lord's hand in all things. That as we keep the commandments, serve the Lord, and build our testimonies we will have a change of attitude and recognize the lord's hand in our lives. We can't let Satan win. He is erasing the good from society any way he can, and if he is successful in making people forget to be thankful and blinding them to the Lord's hand in their lives, it is just one more battle he has won to undermine the Lord's plan.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We had a nice get together with family this past weekend, and we are thankful that we live close enough to spend time with family for the holidays. It would be very lonely to live far away. Mike was able to spend almost a week here, and Mark and Shauna drove out for the weekend. Todd and his family spent two days at my parents' house, so everyone was together on Thanksgiving except for my two sisters and their families. (Kim was in Idaho with Kelly's family and Kari was in California with Jeremy's family) That is probably the closest we will get to a family get-together this year, since it is our off year for the family Christmas. Next year is the big family everyone must be there year! (we do it every other year)

All the little cousins had fun playing together.
A funny thing happened on Thanksgiving, though. It was awfully quiet, but the adults were just enjoying the uninterrupted time to visit. Then I heard a thump upstairs and I decided that I hadn't seen Benjamin for a while and ought to go check on him. I thought I could faintly hear him crying. As I went up the stairs, I heard the kids yelling for help and pounding on a bedroom door. Turns out they had all been playing in Mark and Shauna's bedroom (against the rules!) and Kyle shut the door and somehow they got locked in and couldn't get out. I guess they had been trying to get out attention for a while, and Benjamin was crying, but their unfit parents had just been enjoying the quiet. I couldn't get the door to open, but my mom came up and rescued them. At least they were all safely contained.

We spent Thanksgiving cooking (women), watching football (men), and playing games (everyone). Mike is thankful that he is getting married next month so he won't have to sit at the little kid's table for dinner anymore.
The rest of the weekend people ate leftovers, played games, shopped and watched sports. My mom bought Family Feud, and we had a fun time playing that girls against the guys. We also learned how to play Apples to Apples. It was a great weekend, and it always ends too soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Trip to OMSI

We took the kids out of school Wednesday and went to Portland to go to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). We have a family pass that will expire in December, and we wanted to go again before that happened. We stopped by the temple on the way so the kids could walk around it.

We spent the rest of the day at OMSI. The kids love it there. Leilani decided that if we could go to OMSI more often, then it wouldn't be so bad if we had to live in Portland someday.
They played in the space ship and launched bottle rockets.They ripped and folded paper cups to make them fly.They played in the Chemistry lab and the Physics lab.
They played in several different water areas.

They touched a rat and a boa constrictor.

They aged themselves on camera (it shows up better when the picture is bigger) and pretended to be chipmunks and raccoons. They did a Mongoose puppet show and so much more.

We also went to the visiting exhibit: Ends of the Earth - From Polar Bear to Penguin. They got to climb in a polar bear den and become penguins.

It was a really fun day, but traffic coming home was horrible, and we were very tired when we got home!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Sister, the Blonde.

My brother, Mike, came home the week before Thanksgiving and brought a card game called Bang with him. We played it several times while he was home, but one game in particular stands out in my mind. I'll preface the story by telling you that the game has a western theme: there is a sheriff, a deputy, a renegade and outlaws. You know who you are and who the sheriff is, but everyone else is a secret. I happened to be the sheriff in this game. I was sitting pretty good, with a handful of miss cards, but my sister, Kim, was shooting at me every turn. Unfortunately she had a card that said everyone had to play two miss cards when she shot at them instead of the normal one miss card, so she was depleting my hand quickly. I was having a hard time figuring out who my deputy was during the game, because every time I thought I had it figured out, the person died and turned out to be an outlaw. It was finally down to Chris, Kim and me. I figured that Chris must be the deputy, because he hadn't been shooting me as much as Kim had. Just then Chris turned to Mike and said, "I think you forgot to deal out a deputy card this round." Mike was sure he had, but Chris showed him his card which was an outlaw and Kim said her card was an outlaw. But, when she showed Mike her card, it said "deputy" on it. She had no clue. She had never looked at it after we had dealt out the cards for the new round. So, here I was being shot to death by my own deputy! You probably had to be there to fully appreciate how funny it was, but she was very embarrassed and we had fun harassing her about being so blonde. Once she finally realized whose side she was on, we got together and disposed of Chris quickly.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Little Jedi's in Training

My children come by their facination with Star Wars honestly. Their mother is a true blue fan of the entire Star Wars universe. The movies, the books, the toys... Take a look at the pictures I made us take on our first family trip to Disneyland a few years ago. (I was partial to the picture of Alan and I as Han Solo and Princess Leia, but he liked this one better, and the man with the money won out.)

So, it was only natural that the girls would want to try for acceptance into the Jedi Training Academy on our most recent trip to Disneyland (ok, Elisabeth didn't, but we will work on her conversion to the force :). Despite their Tinkerbell garb, they were picked by the head Jedi and joined the ranks of potential padawans. They donned their robes, learned to handle a lightsaber and were well on their way to mastering the force when stormtroopers rushed in and were soon followed by Darth Vader and Darth Maul themselves. Darth Vader wanted to turn the potential jedi to the Dark side. None of the padawans accepted his offer, so they were all required to fight either Darth Vader or Darth Maul and prove their loyalty to the light side of the force. Leilani and Emilyanne both fought Darth Vader. I got lots of pictures of Leilani battling her foe, but unfortunately my film rewound right when it was Emily's turn to battle him (one of the great downfalls of film versus digital). I told her that maybe we could find someone to photoshop her into a picture battling Darth Vader (I assume there is a way to cut out Leilani and insert Emily). They had a great time, and would love to do it again. If it is still there on our next trip, I will try and get it on video. Meanwhile, I am so proud (and a bit jealous) of their successful Jedi training and graduation. (Again, if you can't see the pictures well, they get bigger if you click on them)

Ben was too young to participate, but he really wanted to do it, and someday I am sure he will be a jedi too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

End of a Season

Well, fall gymnastics season has ended and so has fall soccer. Yeah! Once volleyball ends at the end of the month, we get a break until the next gymnastics season starts the end of January. Leilani's soccer team finished 1st place in their division. Leilani even scored a goal this season! Emily's team did well too, but they do not keep official scores until 4th grade. Leilani finished the gymnastics season well. She qualified for the sectional meet for the southern half of Oregon. She was hoping to qualify for State, but she blew that when she fell off the beam during her routine at sectionals. Otherwise her sectional meet was amazing. She pulled off a 9.55 vault, her first 9.0 on Bars and a 9.15 on floor. The most amazing thing about it was that she was tired and sick. She was up the whole night before with throw up and diarrhea. But somewhere inside, Leilani manages to find it in her to compete no matter what. Her all around score at sectionals was her highest ever...a 36.25 I think we will see great things out of her next season. I am adding to this post a newspaper score from one of her last meets. (If you click on a picture in a blog it will come up larger) We didn't know they posted meets in the paper until two days ago when her volleyball coach said she saw Leilani's name in the paper. Now we know. I am also adding a little video that my dad took of Leilani's vault and floor routine at the Halloween meet. It is only part of her floor routine, and he took it with his 35 mm camera so it is not really good quality, but it gives you an idea of what she does. For reference, she got an 8.65 on the floor routine in the video and a 8.75 on the vault in the video. Can you tell we are proud parents?

Trick or Treat

We all met at my mom's house to go trick-or-treating together. Leilani was Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Emilyanne was Cinderella on a unicorn, Elisabeth was Snow White, Benjamin was Winnie the Pooh and Alan was a prince. I wore my pumpkin costume instead of my Cinderella costume because Emily wanted me to be her pumpkin (she was Cinderella). I think she probably wanted to be the only Cinderella. We went trick-or-treating with Kim and her family, Jeff and his family and my dad. I took the kids around half the block while Alan answered the door and then we switched. Benjamin needed to go home for a diaper change at the half way mark, so it worked out well to take him home and then switch. After trick or treating we went to my mom's house for donuts and apple cider. It was nice that the kids had the next two days off of school for parent teacher conferences, so they didn't need to go to bed early.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

On Monday, October 29, we went to the pumpkin patch at Thistledown Farm for Family Home Evening. We met my mom and dad, my brother Jeff and his family, my brother Chris and his family and my sister Kim and her family at the farm and then we all rode the wagon out to the pumpkin patch. We let the kids each pick a pumpkin (Ben and I shared one) and then they played in the hay maze. It was a really fun night. We carved the pumpkins on Halloween (with the help and creativity of Kim as she carved the girls' pumpkins based on thier requests) and Alan cooked the seeds while he answered the door on Halloween evening. Leilani's pumpkin was a cat, Emilyanne's was a dog (it was supposed to be a skull, but it had a rotten spot that had to be worked around), Elisabeth's was an outline of Minnie Mouse, and I carved a plain old jack-o-lantern for Ben and me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Whose Bathroom Is This?

I'm waiting for my pictures to get developed (yes, I am one of the last film die hards) so I can post our jack-o-lantern pictures and our Halloween pictures, so tonight I am just going to write about my bathroom. Yes, you read right, my bathroom. One of the things I loved about this house when we bought it was that it had a master bathroom. Two bathrooms for the kids and one bathroom just for me (and my husband of course). But for some reason, the kids like MY bathroom better than any other bathroom in the house. There is always a kid using MY bathroom. My bathroom is not cleaner than their bathroom (well it would be if they didn't leave their stuff in it). The toilet paper is the same, the water is the same, they all have doors that shut and lock, so what is the big attraction to MY bathroom? I realize, of course, that I am one of the attractions. Heaven forbid that I try and use the bathroom in any way, shape, or form without a kid coming in to find me, but what about when I am not there? Today I had to hop over a pile of books (they get that from their father), an ABC puzzle dumped out on the floor (all 26 letters scattered about), a princess toothbrush, a pair of sandals (not mine) and a bag of blocks as I got ready for church. All of this in MY bathroom...and I guarantee I did not bring any of it in there and I did not use any of it. Really, who uses blocks in the bathroom?! No one seems to take me seriously when I tell them to stay out of MY bathroom. Maybe I am just being selfish, but I am open to any suggestions on how to keep the joy of having an adult only bathroom. It is one of my biggest pet peeves to step on toys and stumble over things when I am walking around in there. Maybe if I start using their bathroom, everyone else will want to start using it too.