Friday, November 30, 2007

This does not make me feel any better

According to Jonathon Ramsey, Japanese companies are working their employees to death - literally.

"We've all heard the horror stories of life in middle management. In Japan, the ill appears to be especially acute. So many Japanese workers die from simply being overworked that there's a name for it: karoshi. Wikipedia says, "The major medical causes of karōshi deaths are heart attack and stroke due to stress." From March 2006 to March 2007, 303 people were claimed to have died of it with 147 of those cases acknowledged as accurate by the government.

Thirty-year-old Kenichi Uchino worked 60 hours a week for five months for Toyota in Japan, and then worked 70 hours a week for a month -- and then he died. His wife, Hiroko, filed for workman's compensation benefits after the death of her husband, and her claim was denied. The Labor Ministry said the death didn't come from overwork.

A court in Nagoya, though, had a different opinion, and has ordered the Ministry of Labor to pay benefits. His work schedule sounds brutal, although we know of people who put in the same kind of hours in the US. However, unlike in America, it's common practice in Japan not to pay for overtime. We don't know if that was the case here, but regardless of whether he was being paid, the operative word for any employee putting in those kinds of hours should be: help.

[Source: Detroit News]"

Bert works for a Japanese company, Nissan. He started working there nearly two years ago now. Since then it has been common - COMMON!!!!! - for him to work 60 hours a week. Let's add up the totals for this week (which was about an average week, neither good nor bad):

Monday: 8am - 9pm
Tuesday: 8am - 10pm
Wednesday: 8am - 9pm
Thursday: 8am - 6pm
Friday: 8am - 8pm

Total daily hours:
Monday: 13 hours
Tuesday: 14 hours
Wednesday: 13 hours
Thursday: 10 hours
Friday: 12 hours

Total weekly hours: 62

This is a NORMAL WEEK for my husband. And the only reason Thursday's hours are so reasonable (Yeah, honestly his hours are so bad that a ten hour day seems light to me) is because we are the wolf/bear leaders in our ward, so he has to be at church at 7pm. Otherwise Thursday would be about 12/13 hours as well.

A bad week is when Bert has two teleconferences with Japan in one week. This week was a good week in that he was done by 10pm on Tuesday. Occasionally he isn't done until 11pm...and it's a 30-45 minute drive from Nashville.

There is no overtime pay.

My children hardly ever see their father. Andrew's association with him consists of about 30 minutes in the morning and sometimes a few minutes in the evening. Both Bert and Andrew treasure the time they spend together. Andrew's favourite thing is when Bert waves to him from the car and peeps his horn as he drives off.

The older children are used to their father not being around and are surprised when he is.

It kills me. Japanese companies are totally anti-family. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

Bert is totally depressed because he's SO stressed out. A friend of his from VW that moved to Nissan at the same time Bert did left the company last week. The stress and hours were killing him and his family. He's moved to North Carolina to work for a supply company. I think Bert is dying to do the same thing but just doesn't want to move the family yet again.

And now to look at the flip side of the coin.

Bert has a job.
We have a lovely house
We can afford to heat it
We have enough food...enough good food...and enough ice cream. =) (Bert and Ben are currently chowing down as I type =D)
We have cars
We have clothes
We are safe
Our bills are paid
We are able to save a little each month.

Yes, it's tight. I regularly run out of money and we're beans and rice at the end of the month...but we do have beans and rice to eat! We aren't starving.

So I should perhaps count my blessings, and, like Paul, be content in whatever situation I'm in.

But ohhhhhh I miss my husband, and it's hard not to be resentful.

Nature Walk

At Joy School yesterday we all went on a nature walk. It was fine except...I just wanted to walk.

When I was younger I walked everywhere because I didn't want to have to pay the bus fee. (This was England where everyone either took the bus or walked). Thus I learned to walk fast, aiming for a particular destination. Also, as I was often alone, my thoughts would fill my head. It was good thinking time.

Thus, when we went for a nature walk yesterday, I found it really hard to just meander. I wanted to WALK. What's this "stopping and looking" stuff? =D

Actually, it wasn't too bad at first. I really enjoyed the pond and looking at the horses and feeding them carrots etc. It was fun. But then Andrew got bored and walked ahead. Far ahead. =D So I kept up with him...and we left the others in the dust.

I don't know. Maybe the "wanting to walk fast with my head in the clouds" has more to do with genetics than learned behaviour. Andrew certainly seemed to enjoy doing the same thing and he wasn't raised in the UK. Maybe it's a desire to explore what's just around the corner? Or maybe it's simply a desire to keep moving and not stop, even to look at bugs under a log?

This all ties in to being in need of some help. How on earth can I stop and smell the flowers...and look at bugs...when my natural inclination is to a)not stop and b)get freaked out by bugs?

Furthermore, by the end of the walk I found it REALLY BORING to stop. I wanted to WALK....and so did Andrew as he left the bug exploration and set off at a spanking pace around the corner. (It was a very private place, so he was safe....he wasn't rounding the corner on a busy street or anything.)

In fact...Oooooh! I think I have some pictures on my phone. Let me see if I can download them without blowing up the computer.

It's a beautiful secluded area in Fairview. In fact, there's some land for sale right next to the horse paddock, and there's a house in foreclosure around the corner. It's ideally where I'd love to live...but houses just aren't selling here, and the Spirit whispers now is not the right time to move. One day, maybe.....

After our nature walk we roasted hot dogs over a campfire. Before we left the children had gathered kindling from the wood directly behind the house and Brother Griffith had built a fire. =) It was idyllic.

Except the smoke from the campfire gave me an immediate headache which receeded as soon as we left. What's with that?

Notice Ben joined in the fun. =)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ok, I took this quiz....and LOOK at what it says in the answer. ROFL!!! =D =D

You Were Nice This Year!

You're an uber-perfect person who is on the top of Santa's list.
You probably didn't even *think* any naughty thoughts this year.
Unless you're a Mormon, you've probably been a little too good.
Is that extra candy cane worth being a sweetheart for 365 days straight?

Monday, November 26, 2007


My sister lives in Cyprus - I think on the Turkish side - but in any case, not far from the Turkish/Cypriot border. My parents went to visit them, took a bunch of pictures and sent me a CD of them. I thought I'd share them with you as they're beautifully bright and sunny on this dull, cold, dreary day.

Yeah, it's gorgeous isn't it?

Just look at the Mediterranean....

Entrance to a Tomb of the Kings

Gorgeous Mosaic

Just look at that view!

Ma Mere et Mon Pere
Meine Mutter und Fater
Me Mam n Dad

The Quayside

The border between the Turkish and Cypriot parts of the island; I believe called The Green Line.

My sister and her fiance

Yer typical mosaic

Anyway...yeah, looking at those pictures brought back some memories. Oh my. I'd love to visit again....haven't been back since I was 11. Beautiful place. Hot. =) Oh well, I'm not likely to be able to get back there in the next decade so no point moaning about it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas is nearly here! =)

Ok, this house light special isn't quite as fantabulous as the original, but the song is ROCKIN'!!!!! WHOOOOOOOOO! =)

Sunday's Scripture

Though this is aimed at the Priesthood, I like to "liken it unto myself" =) and take this as a kind and gentle God teaching me how to be a mother.

D&C 121:41-46

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintened by virture of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeighned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile -

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that faithfulness is stronger than cords of death.

45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall they confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.


Keeley, do not force your children with yelling, but patiently persuade them, with gentleness and meekness, with true love. Be kind and use the knowledge of Christ and not threatening or lies. Do not ask your children to do more than you yourself would do.

When you see they are heading in the wrong direction, clearly point out to them the consequences of their actions, and make sure you afterwards show great love and gentleness, so your children won't think you hate them, but will know they can always come to you in time of need. Your gentleness and love will show them that no matter what, you will always be there for them.

Serve willingly in the church with pure love for those you serve, that your children may learn by your example. Keep your mind clean and Christlike, so when it comes time for you to kneel and pray, you won't feel like a scumbag but will know you are a daughter of your Heavenly Father, who loves you and knows you love Him. Then He will answer your prayers and the Holy Ghost will be with you to guide you always.

Through this behaviour, your family will be yours always, and your children will come to you forever and ever, and you won't have to force them; they'll find joy in being with you because of the way you have acted as they grew.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Totally braindead and icky today.

Bert's quit vomiting and felt well enough to take us out to see "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" which surprised me by being a really sweet and enjoyable film. =)

Antibiotics are working wonders for Andrew and Ben. HOORAY! We try not to use them, but oh boy when you need them they're miraculous. =)

I wish I were in bed....but I still have clothes in the washer. ZZzzzzz......

Friday, November 23, 2007

This is the kind of person we need in the States...

PHOENIX - A 9-year-old boy looking for help after his mother crashed their van in the southern Arizona desert was rescued by a man entering the U.S. illegally, who stayed with him until help arrived the next day, an official said.

The 45-year-old woman, who eventually died while awaiting help, had been driving on a U.S. Forest Service road in a remote area just north of the Mexican border when she lost control of her van on a curve on Thanksgiving, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said.

The van vaulted into a canyon and landed 300 feet from the road, he said. The woman, from Rimrock, north of Phoenix, survived the impact but was pinned inside, Estrada said.

Her son, unhurt but disoriented, crawled out to get help and was found about two hours later by Jesus Manuel Cordova, 26, of Magdalena de Kino in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Unable to pull the mother out, he comforted the boy while they waited for help.

The woman died a short time later.

"He stayed with him, told him that everything was going to be all right," Estrada said.

As temperatures dropped, he gave him a jacket, built a bonfire and stayed with him until about 8 a.m. Friday, when hunters passed by and called authorities, Estrada said. The boy was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson as a precaution but appeared unhurt.

"We suspect that they communicated somehow, but we don't know if he knows Spanish or if the gentleman knew English," Estrada said of the boy.

"For a 9-year-old it has to be completely traumatic, being out there alone with his mother dead," Estrada said. "Fortunately for the kid, (Cordova) was there. That was his angel."

Cordova was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, who were the first to respond to the call for help. He had been trying to walk into the U.S. when he came across the boy.

The boy and his mother were in the area camping, Estrada said. The woman's husband, the boy's father, had died only two months ago. The names of the woman and her son were not being released until relatives were notified.

Cordova likely saved the boy, Estrada said, and his actions should remind people not to quickly characterize illegal immigrants as criminals.

"They do get demonized for a lot of reasons, and they do a lot of good. Obviously this is one example of what an individual can do," he said.

Letter from the President

Benjamin recently wrote to the President of the United States of America:

Dear President Bush,
How are you doing? I am a twelve year old boy and I am writing this letter for my homeschooling.
I’m also writing this letter to say how well you are doing in helping and supporting our country. Your views and your guidance is just what we need to help and uplift America. Bush-bashers have no idea what they are talking about! I watch Fox News with my Dad, and although they are a bit biased toward republicans, I still agree with them 100%.
Thank you for helping America and also for your time.

Benjamin Brooks

And today, this turned up in the mail:

Along with this...well, not quite this. It was a full-length picture but I'm not very good at photography and the flash whited-out the bottom half of the photo so I cropped it:

Pretty dang cool eh? =)

Also, here's a rather lovely picture of Ben and Maus:

In need of some help

I have for quite some time felt the prompting to GET OUT of the house and go do nature study stuff. Or at least get outside for goodness sakes.

19 can-do nature walk variations from and several fantastic entries from Jimme at One Child Policy Homeschool have especially spurred me on.

The HUGE problem is that when I get outside I'm just like "uhhh...ok, now what?" and April's suggestions 2 and 3 make me want to run away screaming. Not that they're bad suggestions! I'm just slightly bug and creepy thing phobic. How in the heck do I *not* pass that on to my kids? I really don't want to! Here's the suggestions 2 and 3, fyi:

"2 Look for fallen logs. Turn the logs over and see what kinds of fungi and invertebrates (worms, centipedes, roly poly’s) you can find. (The little insect magnification boxes are great for getting a close-up view!) You can explain that these creatures are helping to turn the tree back into soil. They are nature’s clean-up crew!

* If your children are interested in learning more about decomposition, I highly recommend The Magic School Bus Meets The Rot Squad: A Book About Decomposition (Magic School Bus).

3 Look for any places where bugs or animals could make their homes: spider webs, dead trees, hollow spots in trees, shrubs, holes in the ground, under logs or rocks, etc."

Ew icky icky icky gross!

But I think it's really important that I don't pass this on to Andrew. It's kind of too late with Ben and Emily...but I'd really like Andrew to have no prejudices at all, and to enjoy being outside and not get all freaked out about sitting on grass. (I joke not, I'm that bad. I need a blanket or something. And I can't kneel down because my knees might get muddy. So what's with THAT?)

Anyway...can anyone give me any help and advice? Where to start, what to do, how to get over the inner me shrieking and getting nauseous at the sight of any kind of bug?
Yeah, when I was pregnant I would literally gag when I saw a bug. Bizarre.

In other news, according to her profile April is a THIRD generation homeschooler. How cool is that?

Bible Study

I took this test here and got a 14/20. Woo hoo! I wasn't expecting that much. =D

Let me know how you did! =)

Just when I thought things were getting better....

Ok, so I'm feeling fairly rotten and frankly, because I'm somewhat selfish, was looking forward to a relaxing day with the family picking up the slack.

*sigh* =(

So, I couldn't sleep. Ended up going to bed at about 12.30pm and dozing, but not really sleeping.

About 1.40am Andrew wakes up crying his eyes out. Bert goes and sees to him and hugs him and kisses him and gets him water and loves on him while I drowsily lie in bed. =) Then Bert puts Andrew in bed with us and we snuggle.

At about 3am I must have finally dropped off because I realized Andrew's not next to me anymore. Bert said he put him in bed because he was lying horizontal and kicking him. =D

I doze a bit....

And then Bert starts throwing up. Oh my gosh, that poor guy threw up about every half hour from then until now. I feel soooo bad for him. =(

So instead of being taken care of, after a night of virtually no sleep *I'M* the one taking care of things because I'm the healthiest! Dang! I feel awful! But at least I'm not throwing up.

I come downstairs and pull down Andrew's pull-up to put on his underpants...and he'd pooed and I didn't know. ACK! Poo everywhere. Then I notice Maus had peed on the carpet. *sigh*. It's not going to be an easy morning I can tell.

I'm absolutely PHOBIC about vomiting. I can handle pretty much anything else, but NOT that. Thus after I'd cleaned up the pee and poo I went around and disinfected all light switches and door handles, and the computer keyboard and the phone.

And running through my mind is the memory of Bert holding and kissing Andrew last night...

My Mum just called from England. My Dad had outpatient Rotator cuff surgery yesterday. He is soooooooooo not happy right now. In America, I don't know if it's outpatient or not. In America you get a shot in your neck - like an epidural for your arm - that lasts for three days (my Dad's lasted for 12 hours), and then you get a morphine drip that you can control yourself.

In England my Dad didn't even get pain killers with codeine. They gave him some supposedly heavy duty pain killers that have done nothing, and they've also said he can have ibruprophen and paracetamol. That's it. He didn't sleep last night because of the agony.

They took him to the doctors today to take off the pressure dressing and the incision is not looking good at all. My Mum has instructions to check it for infection. *sigh*

And people want National health insurance like in England? WHY????? WHY would you want to DO that to this country? Having lived with both I know for a fact that the American system, flawed though it may be, is WAY better than the English....because the English is HUGELY more flawed than the American system.

*sigh* and now I get to take Andrew to the doctors because his cold has lasted forever. I should go myself but

a) I can't be bothered
b)I won't have enough money after paying for Andrew's (not that I'm feeling like a sorry-for-myself-martyr or anything =D) and
c)I can't remember my doctor's name or phone number. ROFL! =Þ

Happy Day after Thanksgiving, everyone! =)

A bit later on

Well, I got ready and off we went to drop Ben off at Jack's house before I took Andrew to the doctor.

Just as we pulled into Jack's driveway, Andrew totally throws up all over the place. ACK!!! Oh please don't let him have what Bert has!

So I jump out of the car and run around to Andrew. There's vomit everywhere. =( I pull the little guy out so he can throw up on the grass, but he's all done. Meanwhile Laurie is yelling "what do you need?" and I ask for wipes and a plastic bag. Ben comes out with said supplies and I'm a bit overwhelmed at the task of cleaning Andrew up.

I pull off his sweater, managing to get vomit in Andrew's hair as I do so. I take off his shoes and pull off his trousers, getting vomit on me as I do so. Randy (Jack's Dad) runs out with a lovely velvety soft towel for Andrew which I gratefully take as it's cold out there today, and wrap around The Drew.

Laurie insists I bring Andrew inside and totally pooh-poohs my fear that they'll all get sick. She takes Andrew from me and holds him gently and tells me he's fine, she has him, and to not worry. =)

So I run outside to help clean up and Randy tells me to go away and let him take care of it. Remembering that, I'm getting a bit teary with a very full heart. You know someone has the light of Christ in them when they clean up your child's vomit. I mean, cleaning up your own is hideous, cleaning up your child's is worse....but cleaning up someone ELSE'S child's vomit? WOW!!!!

Furthermore he was using a really lovely natural disinfectant containing lavender and Eucalyptus essential oils. He got the recipe from a book which I believe is called "Zen Cleaning" or something. I think this is it. Laurie broke out in a horrid skin irritation after cleaning the house and he was so concerned he went to Wild Oats and bought this book and natural cleaning stuff just for her. Isn't that sweet? =) Furthermore, it smelled HEAVENLY and totally got rid of the vomit smell.

I go back inside the house and Laurie has Andrew wrapped in a big fluffy blanket and is rocking him gently. =) She gave me some homemade chicken broth for Andrew and Bert to aid in their recovery. =) Again I'm getting a bit teary at their kindness and generosity. Honestly, I've never met a couple that gives and serves so joyfully.

Aaaanyway, then off we went to the doctors and it turns out Andrew has all the symptoms of a sinus infection. Dr. Townsend said his right ear was so full of fluid that if I hadn't brought him in by next week he would have had an ear infection.

Which, I think, would have been his first. If I'm remembering correctly, I don't think Andrew has ever had an ear infection. Furthermore, I may be wrong, but I think this is Andrew's very first course of antibiotics. But that can't be true. The kid's nearly 3...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Happy Thanksgiving
From all of us to you
Happy Happy Thanksgiving
And a Merry Christmas too. =D

I have bronchitis or something. It sucks. The children are doing ok though; Ben's antibiotics have kicked in so he's feeling better. Andrew still has his permanently runny nose, poor kid.

My Dad has his operation this morning. He had a two inch tear in his rotator cuff in his shoulder. He's feeling pretty icky, poor guy. He'll be off work for 6-8 weeks would make anyone happy.

Bert's parents called to say Happy Thanksgiving....and to tell us that....aaaaahhhhhh actually I'd better not say anything. Never know who's reading the blog and if anyone in Upland 3rd ward (or whatever it is) read it it would be a bit of a problem.

Aaaand what else? Oh yes, I bought a DVD of "Father Christmas" at Walmart for $5. I was so excited! Until...we played it today....and they've totally changed it! The animation hasn't changed but they've put in a different voice for Father Christmas and they TOTALLY changed the script! Now instead of Father Christmas being really crochity and grumpy and saying "bloomin'" all the time, he says things like "Oh those lovely sweet beautiful children" and instead of him complaining about his ugly tie and socks from Uncle Ernie and being thrilled with his bottle of brandy, he says "oh lovely tie and socks from the elves and now I have a wonderful bottle of cologne to smell good all year."


They totally RUINED it. The charm is gone! From being an absolutely delightful, funny, quirky Father Christmas, it's become weird and really really sappyily boring.

It totally depressed me. =( Sanitized and ruined. Such a shame.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

what to eat....what to eat...what to eat?

Andrew just doesn't seem to be getting better. It's not like he's really terribly ill, it's just that he was the first to fall ill and has just been on a constant steady runny stuffed nose and slight cough ever since. Bert and Emily recovered well. I'm definitely on the upswing, and so is Ben now that the antibiotics are doing their thing. But Andrew just keeps plodding on a steady "grotty" feeling.....

Our DVD player broke AGAIN - second in one year. GAH! So we bought a "clearplay" DVD. Can I figure out how to work that thing? NOPE! It's not intuitive at all and is SOOOOOOOOOO frustrating. GAH again!

Ben (ha! Yeah, not me =D) finally figured it out and the boys are zoned out in front of "Cars" right now. Do I feel guilty? Yeah, a little bit. But we're all kind of zoned and "uuuggghhhh".

Thing is, it's 6.07pm. Do I have any idea what to feed us for dinner? Nope. Does anything at all sound good? Nope. And I can't even ask Bert to make it for us as

1. He never gets home before 7.30pm anyway and
b. Tonight's video conference night so he won't be home before 11pm.


Monday, November 19, 2007


We all have head colds. I can't believe how much icky stuff has come shooting out of my head. Uuuuuuggghhhhhhhh.

Emily is recovered. Bert 99% recovered. Andrew is on the upswing and is over the worst. I'm right in the thick of the hideousness and Ben has an ear infection. That doesn't surprise me as he's the child that had an constant ear infection from age 1-7 months, and the only reason it was over at 7 months was because we were moving to Germany and the specialist (who otherwise would have had us go through another 6-12 months of hideousness and ever stronger antibiotics which didn't do a dang thing) said "He can't fly! His eardrums will burst!"

So Ben got tubes at 7 months, and what an INCREDIBLE experience that was. All of a sudden he went from this deaf (yeah, really deaf) infant in agony to one who responded when I cooed and stared in delighted shock at the water in his bath as it "splished" when he hit it. Many tears of joy were shed right after that operation as I realized Ben could finally HEAR.

Anyway, I'm dizzy, shaky, stuffed up, achy and I'm going to lie down.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lessons in lovingkindness

WOW Andrew's cold got a lot worse this evening. Holy toledo, it's going to be a rough day for him tomorrow, I can already tell. He's already woken up once tonight, poor baby.

I was invited by the Griffin children, who have just recently moved near their parents (one of them living with their parents) to join them in Joy School . They are about ten years younger than me; one has three young children and one has two with another due in about three months. (And I'd be worried that Andrew spent time with them today and then came down with a nasty cold, except I know that at least two of the children had nasty colds themselves. =Þ Such generous babies love to share. =))

So I bundled the children into the car and trekked down to Fairview - about 30 mins down hwy 96, an excessively pleasant drive with the leaves on the trees looking absolutely gorgeous with their autumn plumage.

The Griffin's home is down a winding little graveled drive. And then you come to the house. W.O.W. is about all I can say about it. OH my gosh, GORGEOUS. You should see the beautiful natural wood inside...none of it from home depot, all from trees they cut down and sawed into planks and made floors and stairs and stair rails etc out of it. By themselves. Yes, the Griffins built their own home. Took them three years. During that time Sister Griffin broke her wrist and Brother Griffin broke his elbow and also had a chemotherapy-like treatment for a year. But they kept on keeping on and the result is astoundingly gorgeous.

And I got to hang out their today with their kids and grandkids. =) Very lively bunch that overwhelmed Andrew for the first hour or so. He gradually relaxed and started speaking and interacting. =)

I cannot BELIEVE the energy these mothers put into preschooling their little ones. So animated and excited! I must be an old Mama because it made me tired just watching. =D I had a little giggle when they said they were 26 and felt so OLD. =D =D =D That was pretty dang cute. =)

Having said that though...I didn't have a posse of little ones around my ankles at 26. I just had Emily, who was in kindergarten, and a newborn Benjamin...and that's it. =) So maybe they feel old because they have a buncha little ones.

Anyway, Andrew was taught about nature and the days of the week and the weather. When they asked him to look outside and see what nature he could see (the house is intimately surrounded on all sides by nature at close range =D) Andrew saw "a truck." Yeah, not that he's obsessed with automobiles or anything....

We'll go again next Wednesday. They said I could go a few times to see if I wanted to join...and even if I didn't want to help teach they would have no problem with Andrew coming and hanging out.

Ok, I've just sat at my computer for a few minutes thinking about their love and generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness, and their sweetness with the children. The maturity and energy they have that I certainly didn't have at their age. It just makes me tear up a little and be so thankful that there are people out there like them in the world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oh yes, I must remember this.

I found this beautiful post at Home Spun Homeschooling

Here is a thought I had this morning:
I should not concern myself with teaching my children.
Whatever I do, they will learn.
Instead, I should focus on teaching myself:
How I view the world.
How I view myself.
How I view my faith.
Whatever I do, they will learn.

I am not vulgar either!

I have never read this book, and I'm not sure I want to if it's vulgar and repugnant. Icky.

I think if I knew what this book was about I'd be rather depressed. How come I couldn't be some kind of really nifty cool book?

Has anyone read this? Is it nifty and cool?

You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Run run away

I have to get away or I'm going to scream.

I'm thinking Florida, seeing as it's within a day's driving distance now that we live in TN.

I have $500 and five family members.

Can anyone perform a miracle? Suggestions? Even if it's not Florida? Just somewhere the family can go to totally chill out and be together? Please? Pretty please?

Family trees?

Ok, is there anyone else who finds this ad just a tad bit odd?

I mean...FAMILY trees? Huh? And what's with the one upside down. Not that I find the upside down one offensive, but it's just kinda BIZARRE. "Family" trees though...I mean, come ON! That's crazy!

Lowes and Home Depot are equidistant from our home, and in the past I've shopped at each store about equally. I guess that won't be happening in the future. I'll be heading on over to Home Depot and they're totally un-PC CHRISTMAS trees.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Under the microscope

I had several interesting things to write about today, but I've forgotten what they were.

Oh Yes! Remember my friends who were coming to stay but ended up not staying after all? They're moving to the Nashville area and homeschool. Mrs. friend was looking online about homeschooling stuff in this area...and surfed on in to my blog!!! No kidding!

I mean, here I am thinking I'm writing in a dark corner with maybe one or two people browsing on by, but it turns out that the whole world could suddenly turn around and stare right at me. Slightly disconcerting....and yet cool at the same time.

In other news I realized this morning that the boys were dressed almost identically, so I ushered them together and asked Andrew to stand by Benjamin. This is what I got:

Cute eh? =)

Also, Emily, Bert and I have a hideous headache each, Bert and Ben are stuffed up, and I'm still exhausted.

So I'm off to bed again. =)

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I'm posting because it's nablopomo.

But I'm tired so I'm going to bed.

Ni night.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I've been doing really well on the not-eating-chocolate thing and was so proud of myself. =)

This morning was primary inservice where they served chocolate muffins and doughnuts and stuff. Did I eat any? No. HOORAY! =) I ate fruit and stuff. Then I noticed they had hot chocolate and poured myself some.

Half way through the cup I suddenly jumped up and yelled "ACK!" I had TOTALY FORGOTTEN that I wasn't having any chocolate. And here I was, happily sipping hot chocolate. Where was my brain?

I was SO mad and disappointed in myself. I mean, if I'd been craving chocolate and caved in it would have been one thing, but to have to reset my chocolate ticker simply because I forgot is sooooo frustrating. *sigh* =(

In other news, my family jumped right in and totally helped me clean the house today. It's not perfect, but it's SO much better than it was. Hooray. =)

I finished moving the boys into their room. Last Saturday we switched beds etc. Today I switched wardrobes. Bert and I also moved the train table upstairs, which makes the living room bigger but the boys' room SO much smaller. Furthermore, there is no room for all the toys. ACK.

I have yet to clear off the shelf in the boys' closet though, so once I do that I can move some items up there and hopefully make room for the toys. I think I'll get a tub to store under the train table also. That will help. =) I know I should probably just get rid of a bunch of toys, but I feel like I've pared it down to the minimum as it is. Spoiled? Nah, just well loved. =)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not bad for a Brit

Hey cool! I'm kinda pleased about this, considering I wasn't taught American History in school... =)

You Are Not a Dumb American

You got 8/10 correct.
You know a good deal about American history, but there's some basic facts you have wrong.
Time to go back to history class!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Oh maaaaaan, I forgot to post yesterday. What is with that? It's only the 8th and I've forgotten to post for TWO days. *sigh* My life is just too busy.

The usual stuff happening round here. Homeschooling n stuff. Christie and Nathan are coming to play after lunch, possibly bringing Guitar Hero 3. WOOO HOOO! I think Christie's going to run to the library, which will give me the chance to boot the boys off the game and play for a few minutes without being rude to Christie. Muhahahahaha. =D

In other news, "Lady Henrietta" is coming to the library this evening to tell stories about Thomas the Tank Engine. I was soooo sad because I wanted to take Andrew but Bert and I have cub scouts this evening. But then I got really selfish and "suggested" to Bert that he take over the cub scouts while I take Andrew to the library. He was not happy about this and said we should just cancel, so I pulled out the massive guilt card and said that I'd done cub scouts on my own before so why couldn't he? Poor chap has massive guilt about this so it was mean of me to pull it. Well, I won't do it again. =)

I suppose I COULD have suggested that Bert take Andrew to the library. They would have had a wonderful time together and I could have done the cub scouts...but frankly, I don't want to be that kind and nice. I need a cub scout break. I have all the lesson planned and all the supplies prepared. All Bert needs to do it turn up, talk about Native Americans and play the games.

Ok ok ok, so I'm feeling guilty about this myself. But not enough to not do it. =Þ Andrew's going to have a blast listening to train stories at the library. =)

I would cancel, but we're canceling next week because it's Young Women in Excellence. I remember last year for YWiE, Bert was on a business trip, Andrew was sick, and the pack meeting was planned for the same evening. I was not a happy Keeley that evening. I should have been home with Andrew but instead went back and forth between the pack meeting and YWiE trying to catch Emily doing her thing, with Andrew screaming and crying because he felt awful. *sigh* =( I missed Emily's presentation and was really dang sad about that.

However, this time I'm just canceling the wolf/bear meeting altogether and hopefully Andrew won't be sick and I know Bert will be here, so everything's aligned for a wonderful evening. =)

Bert's business trip is planned for December. For ten days. *sigh* =( He was really really down last night because a friend of his quit Nissan because of the really appalling hours they have to work. He says that in his friend's department, of the TEN that used to work there, NINE have left because of the hours....hours that Bert himself is working.

Bert feels kind of trapped in that he's moved the family twice now because of his job and doesn't feel like he can do it again anytime soon. It's not good for us, and it doesn't look good on a resume. However the hours are just killing him. We actually know people who work from 7am-4pm. Can you imagine that???? My gosh, that's just Heaven. I don't know what I'd do having Bert around for an extra five hours or so a day. Sing hallelujah or something, I suppose. It'd be like the children actually have a Father! =D

Alright, I'm behind on my daily list already so I'm off.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


You are Anne Elliot of Persuasion! Let's face it, you're easily persuaded, especially when faced with choices that are or aren't 'the Elliot way.' But this doesn't mean that you don't have conviction. Actually, your sense of duty is overwhelming. And though you won't stick your neck out too often, you have learned to speak up when it counts. To boot, you know how to handle sticky situations. You love deeply and constantly.

I am Anne Elliot!

Take the Quiz here!

I LOVE Persuasion. I'm going to have to watch it tonight. Whoopeeee! =)

Wisdom comes with age

Benjamin Franklin has matured from being a rather heedless selfish young man into a man of great wisdom and frugality. I am thoroughly enjoying his autobiography and recommend it to everyone. Here is my favourite quote from today:

"Human felicity is produc'd not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day. Thus, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a thousand guineas.
The money may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having foolishly consumed it; but in the other case, he escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and dull razors; he shaves when most convenient to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of its being done with a good instrument."

I was read this with much happiness and, wanting to share its wisdom with someone, read it to the first person who happened by the computer, namely Emily.

I read it to her and she replied "Huh?" =D Then explained she wasn't really listening as she couldn't find her Ipod but didn't want me to help her look for it as I would just yell at her because her room is a pigsty. =D =D

This is the same Emily Sarah who has to write a paper giving an opinion and supporting her opinion with facts. The book she has to read contains articles designed to brainwash the average high school student. Ie, they give one extremely liberal position and no balancing opinion. Emily is writing about the environment. She decided to write about global warming and how awful it is not because she believes that but because it requires no thought whatsoever. She said "If I write a balancing opinion to global warming it will take me four hours. If I write supporting it, it will take two. Thus, I'm supporting it." Even while she's researching it she's totally making fun of it and doesn't believe it...but she's writing a paper supporting it.

And thus we see the joys of public education. Doesn't matter what you think as long as you put forth the minimum effort possible and tell the teacher what s/he wants to hear.

*sigh*. =(

I mean, it would be one thing if she passionately believed that global warming was caused by the "human virus" and wrote the paper about that. I could respect that. But to totally disbelieve it and cynically write as though she did because it's less work - man!

=) But I still can't help admiring her saying "pshaw!" to my protests. It's a beautiful thing to have raised a daughter full of self-confidence, humour and strength. =)

Monday, November 05, 2007

I nearly forgot!

Happy Guy Fawkes Night!

Happy bonfire night! =)

Oh to be in England, now that Guy Fawkes Night is there....

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up king and parliament
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow
By God's mercy he was catched
With dark lantern and lighted match
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King.

I nearly made some parkin today, but laziness got the better of me. Here's the recipe though.

English Parkin - traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup oats
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey.

1. Soak oats in milk for 30 mins
2. Mix flour, baking powder, ginger and sugar in large bowl.
3. Melt butter. Add molasses and honey
4. Add oats and milk to molasses mixture
5. Add oats and molasses mixture to dry ingredients and combine.
6. Pour into greased 9x13 inch pan
7. Bake at 325f for 45 mins or until parkin pulls away from pan.

Really really good with cool whip.

The last time I experienced a real Guy Fawkes night was in 2003. November of 2002 I was talking to my children and realized that my half American/half English children knew NOTHING about Guy Fawkes.


So I took them over to England in November of 2003. =)

Here we all are with our sparklers; L-R Mum, Emily, Ben, Carl, Craig, Nicola, Dad. Hey! Where's Caroline?

I was going to put in a picture of the bonfire, but for some reason Blogger is having a little snit and won't let me. Oh well, it's probably just as well. I should be in bed.

One day at a time

Ok, so last night...or maybe it was this a fit of madness I decided I would try to not eat any chocolate at all until Christmas.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I get at least a small fix of chocolate every single day. Even if it's just my homemade peanut butter hot chocolate (liquid reeses...mmmmm).

So I thought I'd try it. And like a true addict I'm taking it one day at a time.

This afternoon I had MASSIVE chocolate attack. Oh my gosh. I wandered around the kitchen for a while trying to figure out what to eat instead of the
my body was screaming for.

In the end I had a drink of apple cider and started putting together my stamps for my Christmas cards which I've been meaning to make for a gatrillion years. I was SO proud of myself that I made it through the afternoon without succumbing. Hooray! =)

Went to Emily's meet and almost bought a granola bar with chocolate in it but then remembered I couldn't and got a different one instead - again, SO proud of myself. =)

At Emily's swim meet (she swam really well, btw =)) there was a tornado watch. Apparently a tornado touched down a couple of times near us or something. There were great yellings to "GET INTO THE LOCKER ROOMS! NOW!!!" and stuff but we weren't hit. Buckets of rain and an incredible lightning show though.

Anyway because of that I was late getting to the Stolworthy's for FHE - they'd invited us over. =) =) Emily couldn't make it because her meet was still going on and Bert couldn't make it because he always works until about 11pm or so on Mondays, thus it was just Ben, Andrew and myself - and we had a great time.

So we had a WONDERFUL time there. And the treat was....chocolate chip cookies. And I DIDN'T EAT ONE. =) I figured I'd made it thus far through the day I wasn't going to mess it up right at the end.

So here I am, at the end of the very first chocolate free day I've had since....I can't remember when.

I can get through the night without chocolate. Tomorrow will be another day though. One day at a time....=)

We watched Brian Regan at the Stolworthy's. Anyone seen him? He's hysterical. =D

Sunday, November 04, 2007

You're a winner! =)

And for all those who guessed correctly, including Mrs. Excessively Smart Pinkston =) Here it is:


Read and ponder the Book of Mormon

Moroni 10:3-6

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.


Oh dingy dingy dang it! I forgot to post yesterday. Fleur , an friend from the convent school I went to, reminded me to post.

Actually, what she said was "Come on girl - where's the blogs for today and yesterday!"

DANG! And I wanted to post every day on this uber special nablopomo. Poopy pants!

Ok, so yesterday morning I was up amazingly early as Andrew was awake. I even actually walked the dog. Amazing!

So anyway, later that morning Bert and I were talking and I once more proposed moving the boys into the homeschool room. I think he was finally paying attention because he said "Well....would my desk and the homeschool desk and bookcases all be squashed in one little room then?" I replied, "No, you'd get your own room."

There was a pause of about ten seconds and then Bert said, in the manner of one not quite believing that someone's offering him a HUGE treat and thinking that it's all going to disappear in a minute, "you mean....I'd get a room all to myself?"


"Just me? Just my stuff in one room? Nothing else?"


Thus everything was moved that afternoon. =D We estimated it would take us three hours. It took at least six, and it's not quite finished yet. =Þ

Bert is tickled pink with this whole thing. The kids have officially called it his "Man Cave", though it's less that and more a place to pay bills and watch all our money disappear into the ether.

Uhhh, yeah, so that took care of the rest of the day and my arms are aching from shifting that heavy furniture.

Our guests didn't arrive. I called them at about 5.30pm to see if they were close to Franklin and if I should make them anything to eat. It turned out they had just hit Kentucky and, furthermore, they were going to stay somewhere else. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't called them? Not that I mind a bit; the house got all clean and mostly organized because of them coming, so that's a good thing. =)

In other news, HOORAY for daylight savings! Just love that lie-in. =)

Aaaaand, what else? Elijah just went home. He was a sweetie pie and we really enjoyed having him for the weekend. His Dad and Step-Mum really enjoyed their romantic weekend at the Marines Ball . =) They'd met there several years ago so it was a personal anniversary for them as well as the Marines.

Emily is currently deep frying some oreos, reese's peanut butter cups, crunch bars, butterfingers and 3 musketeers. Oh yeah. This is going to be gooooooood.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween 2007 and prewriting

I thought just for fun I'd stick in some photos of this Halloween season, cos it's fun. =)

Here's Bert and Drew with the punkamins

And this is Emily and Andrew (Ben didn't want to come to pick pumpkins and went to play with a friend instead:

Here are the Zollingers at the Trunk or Treat:

And Sister Montebello:

Kenz, who used to think I'm scary but now actually smiles at me and shakes my hand these days. =D He's getting cheeky though and might end up with a slaphead if he jumps out at me and yells again. =D

This is Victoria and Kelsey. I took pictures of Emily's friends because she was carving punkamins with Graham and Ashton and thus didn't attend Trunk or Treat.

Ben went dressed as a nerd. Imagine our surprise when Brother Cherry turned up in a matching costume. =D

Last Halloween photo. This is the family going trick or treating. This is probably the last year we'll all go together. *sniff*. As it was, Emily managed two houses and then went off to a halloween party at her friend's house. Oh well.

And last, but not least, some artwork by Andrew. I walked into the homeschool room and there was the clipboard, totally chalked all over, and Andrew's chalkboard not touched at all.

"Andrew," I said, "you use chalk on the chalkboard, ok?"
"No," he explained, "I did a B"

So I looked closely, and holy cow he did! We showed it to Ben and he pointed out to Andrew that it he'd actually drawn a d.

"Yes," clarified Andrew, "a B and two Ds" then pointing from left to right went "B, D and d"

Uhhhhhhh......I just about fell over. Bert commented, "Yeah, why wait until you're three to learn to write when you can do it at two?"

The hot guy I married

TC requested a photo of the really amazing wonderful brilliant good looking guy I married. And here he is:

And here here he is in our most recent family photo:

In other news, I actually finished tidying up the downstairs portion of the house, but blew off the upstairs portion because I'm a lazy bum. Must take care of it either tonight or tomorrow morning as we have visitors coming.

Ben's party is happening as I type. They're all playing some game or other together and are having a marvelous time. =) Hooray! Hold on, let me take a photie.

L-R that's Cody, Ben, Jack, Matthew, Jack, and Chase is right up front.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Want some cheese with that whine?

According to Pezlady it's nablopomo...national blog post month. Or something like that. I wish I could do the fancy schmancy thing and stick it along the side of my blog but I forgot how again. I'll have to look back in my blog and find out.

So ANYWAY even though I didn't want to I thought I'd better post.

It's been a bugger of a day. On the go since the start. Tidying, cleaning, tidying, cleaning, frenzied tidying cleaning, sorting.

THEN driving down to Nashville to pick up the binoculars needed for the field trip today - that was cool cos we got to eat lunch with Bert in the batman building (Bell South Tower...I'd put a picture here but I'm pooped and want to go to bed).

THEN back up to the house and THEN picking up a friend's son and driving half way to Nashville AGAIN to take them to the Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary to work on their bird study merit badge.
THEN drive into green hills (ie, back INTO Nashville) to go to the scout shop who didn't have what I needed.
THEN back to the Owl's Hill NS to pick up the boys and drive them home very fast.
THEN have about ten minutes to feed the children and oh thank goodness Bert came home and took over on Andrew and made me a a cheese sandwich to eat in the car.
THEN taking Ben to the youth activity (Emily had a swim meet and had an even longer and more hectic day than mine).
THEN going to the church and doing the cub scout thing
THEN picking up Ben and taking a couple of other young men home
THEN coming home and realizing it was 9.30pm and I've got to do the same things all over again tomorrow.

Tommorow: Tidy the house. Clean the house. Prepare for Ben's campout. Prepare for Ben's birthday party. Have Ben's birthday party (yeah, I'm leaving the preparation for it kinda late, huh?). Immediately after party, send Ben off on campout. Then a young man arrives for the weekend (we're looking after him while his parents have a little holiday. =)) soooo...have to think of things to do with him on Friday night. Maybe rent a film? Frankly, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. OH MY GOSH! There's an art sale preview I REALLY want to see but dang it, I doubt I'll be able to. Oh dingy dingy dang.

Saturday: Sort out homeschool room, prepare for guests arriving Saturday night. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to go to the art sale. Hahahahaha. =D Yeah, right. Cos I've been looking forward to it for weeks it probably won't happen.

Alright, enough whining. My gosh, now I know where Andrew gets it from.