Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mountain Meadows Massacre

Bert came back from California! =) We're so happy to have him home. =)

While he was there he visited his parents. His Mum and he started talking about genealogy and his mother remembered a box of stuff his grandmother had given her before she died. They opened the box, which was an absolute treasure trove.

One of the most amazing pieces is an account by their ancestor who was living in San Bernardino at the time of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It talks of how, in a fever of anti-Mormon sentiment, they were practically driven from there and he ended up in Parowan, Utah. He was desperate to know all he could about the "horrid" Massacre and researched it thoroughly, interviewing several men who participated.

He heard President Young himself denying any involvement in the Massacre and wrote down what he said.

His brother-in-law informed him the night that Lee was going to be arrested. He rode to Pres. Young and said if the President asked him, he and his brother-in-law would ride ahead of the Marshall and rescue Lee so the Marshall couldn't arrest him. Obviously that didn't happen as Lee was arrested, tried and convicted.

He got wind of the fact that the Marshall was taking Lee to Mountain Meadows for the execution and under direction of the Spirit, went. He was talking to a reporter from San Fransisco's "Call" paper when the reporters were called in to witness the execution, and sneaked in with them, frightened all the while that the Marshall would recognise him and chuck him out.

He recorded Lee's last words and actions and witnessed the execution. He was able to get hold of a written testimony by Lee of what happened on the day of the Massacre. Though the paper was worn and some parts illegible, he wrote what he could read of that confession. It was chilling.

I did type the whole thing into my blog but felt a bit odd doing so. I don't know whether it's ok that I type the whole thing. It's an amazing historical document....actually, to be more precise, a copy of a typed document of his handwritten paper. It was written in the early 1900s and typed in the 1930s.

I felt electric reading this thing. I felt like he had written it just so I could read it. It is the most amazing and...forgive me for using the word again....electrifying thing I have read. It's incredible.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How to take the TCAP

TCAP is the standardized writing exam for the state of Tennessee. Today, My daughter's AP English teacher taught her 11th grade students how to write for this test. Please allow me to now quote from my daughter, who is in turn quoting from her teacher.

"Remember, these are hobos off the street who are grading your paper. They don't care about what you write.

You can't get a 6 unless you finish. You have 35 minutes, so just make sure you do everything you can to finish. It doesn't matter what you write as long as you finish. As long as you keep to the skeleton (Introduction where you list your three points, within your paragraphs using words like "Furthermore" and "In addition", clearly using the Shaffer method) you're good, because that's all they're trained to look for."

After scanning to see how much the students have written with five or ten minutes to go she announces to the class, "Start writing stupider things. Just fill up the paper. Just finish. No-one cares if your argument is valid. Just finish."

"Remember guys, this is about free parking next year. You can't get a 6 unless you finish. If you get a 6 you get free parking your senior year. So write dumber stuff so that you can finish."

Emily says this is not exactly what her teacher said, but it's the basic gist of it. She did actually say "Write dumber stuff" though.

Hooray! This is why TN education is ranked so highly in the nation. =Þ

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley etc.

Bert called somewhere around 9pm last night and said that Gordon B. Hinckley had died an hour previously. My first reaction was "Dang" quickly followed by "Oh he's going to be sooooo happy! He'll be with his wife. =) Talk about a faithful servant being welcomed home!" =)

We went online and looked on the TV but there was nothing on there yet.

I was surprised at the children's reaction. It was like their whole world had been ripped apart. While for me it was a quiet thing...people of 97 tend to die, and poor Thomas S. Monson is in the place the Lord intended him to be....for my children it was like their best friend had passed away. Benjamin sobbed his little heart out. His fervent prayers to Heavenly father that he would let President Hinckley know we love him so much and are so thankful for him and could he please hug our dog, Tascha, for us? had me crying myself. It was so sweet.

Emily wanted the day off school. Nice try. =) She'll get that for his funeral.

We watched his "6 Be" s talk while eating lunch, and it was only then I cried. What a great guy. I'll miss him.

But I'm still thrilled for him that he gets so be with his wife.

In other completely unrelated news I had one of the worst migraines I've ever had. Oh WOW it was bad; I've only ever had one or two like it in my life. I thought I was going to puke all over the place. I lay awake for the longest time praying that I could just get to sleep because I knew once I did the meds. would kick in and I'd wake up and would be able to move my head without wanting to scream.

Eventually, thanks to the tender mercies of the Lord, I fell into blissful sleep without vomiting and woke up singing the Lord's praises for my headache going away. Several times during the morning I remembered my headache and was again overwhelmed with gratitude with the fact that it was GONE.

Speaking of Gone, Bert still is. It's not so bad now it's the weekday though; it's the weekends apart that suck.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Well, he's gone.

Bert left this morning. I've been totally depressed ever since. I just want to cry. I hate it when he goes.

Last night I was describing Andrew's "preschool" to Bert. He got a bit teary eyed and said words to the effect of "that's how it should be". He said he thinks public schools are basically evil. I stared at him in amazement. This is the husband that resisted homeschooling for so many many years? What changed his mind?

"You did" he said

"You mean you see the difference in the children?"

Yes, he could. He said it's all due to me.

I beg to differ.

How could we homeschool if not for his support? He is our cheerleader. He supports us. He says "good job". He says "you need to obey your mother and do your work" He provides the money so we can buy the curriculum. He takes over child care so I can go to the annual convention. He never complains at the messiness of the house. He works hideous hours so I can stay home with the children. He helps us with knotty problems in maths. He's taking a day off to oversee the IOWA test we've decided to give Ben. (We're all curious as to how that will come out. It will be interesting.)

How can it all be due to me? He's the reason why we can homeschool in the first place. He makes it all possible.

I miss him so much.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quickie update

I've lost almost 10lbs since the beginning of the year - down from almost 163lbs to 153.8lbs. Only I had a stressful day and there were M&Ms in front of me at New Beginnings and I ate about 1/4 cup tonight. DANG!!!

Oh well, C'est la vie. I'll just do better tomorrow.

Went to Jump Zone with the kids and Ben's friend Jack today. Had a brilliant time.

Bert's off to Los Angeles CA again tomorrow - he will be gone a week. It TOTALLY sucks.

I've begun a little preschool type programme with Andrew:


Song - stuff like Old Macdonald and Baa Baa Blacksheep and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes etc.

A page or two from his Preschool book - just an el cheapo $3 from walmart. For some reason he absolutely loves it. Go figure. He understands the concepts in the book, but his fingers can't manipulate the pen the way the book asks him to. He doesn't get frustrated though, just simply enjoys it. Cool.

Then we do an activity from "Slow and Steady"

Then we do a craft or somesuch thing from The Toddler Calendar or something like that. Today we played with playdough. He screamed because I didn't have a little rolling pin for him. Well excuse ME!

Then we're meant to play outside. I think not. It is REALLY REALLY COLD. Well, not as cold as MI but it's below 20f out there. Brrrrrr. I counted Jump Zone as his outside play. Looking forward to Spring so we can be outside more.

I read a story to him every night. Today's was "The Cat Club" from the 20th Century Children's Book Treasury.

That's it. It's pretty simple, but he absolutely loves it and asks for it every day. In his prayers he says he's thankful for school with Ben. =)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Question about what the cotton gin actually does.

My son's public school teacher told him that lives of slaves were easier because the slaves no longer had to pull the cotton from the thorny bur, however Genevieve Foster's "George Washington's World" states that:

"Eli Whitney had always enjoyed tinkering, and here was a challenge. Could he make a gadget that would quickly separate the seeds from the cotton? Yes, he could. The cotton gin that he invented was snapped up by the cotton planters. Within a few years it meant that a great many more acres of cotton were planted. Instead of needing fewer slaves, the plantations now needed many more to plant and pick all this cotton."

Referring to this page: for a description of the cotton plant itself:

Does the cotton gin pull the cotton from the sharp thorny bur, or pull seeds out of the cotton locks?

That is to say, did the slaves have to tear their fingers up pulling the soft insides from the thorny plant, or did the cotton gin do that nasty chore for them?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Ben was given "Portal" for Christmas - not the whole Orange box because I don't think Half-Life would be a good thing for him. It's a fairly short game, but BRILLIANT - very innovative.

After Ben asked and asked I said ok I'd play Portal with him. So last week we sat down about 9pm. I thought I'd be able to handle it for about half an hour and then we could go to bed.

We got to bed when we finished the game at about 1.30 or 2am.

We played it again together a couple of days later.

MAN! That game is GOOD! My brain isn't as agile as Ben's so I only like the really easy puzzles - and I don't like flinging. GLaDOS is REALLY REALLY good.

I'm including here, for your entertainment, the song that GLaDOS sings at the end of the game. I played it for Emily, who hasn't played Portal, and she thought it was freaky. GLaDOS IS freaky. Really really freaky! Scary computer! But when you've played the game and then hear the song, it's incredibly funny. You can't see the lyrics on the video, so I shall type them for your edification - and plus, it will make me laugh to type them. =D

Black Mesa is apparently a character in half life.
Yes, GLaDOS is obsessed with cake.

This was a triumph.
I'm making a note here - HUGE SUCCESS.
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.
Aperture Science;
We do what we must because we can
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead.

But there's no sense crying over every mistake.
You just keep on trying til you run out cake.
And the science gets done
And you make a neat gun
for the people who are still alive.

I'm not even angry.
I'm being so sincere right now.
Even though you broke my heart and killed me
and tore me to pieces
and threw every piece into a fire.
As they burned it hurt because
I was so happy for you.

Now these points of data make a beautiful line
and we're out of beta we're releasing on time.
So I'm glad I got burned
think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive.

Go ahead and leave me.
I think I prefer to stay inside.
Maybe you'll find someone else to help you.
Maybe Black Mesa.
That was a joke HA HA, FAT CHANCE.
Anyway this cake is great
it's so delicious and moist.

Look at me still talking when there's science to do
When I look out there it makes me glad I'm not you.
I've experiments to run
There is research to be done
On the people who are still alive.

And believe me I am still alive.
I'm doing science and I'm still alive.
I feel fantastic and I'm still alive.
While you're dying I'll be still alive.
And when you're dead I will be still alive.
Still alive.
Still alive.

That line "There is research to be done on the people who are still alive" is just freaky. =D

Here's another video showing how Portal works:

It shows flings. I hate flings. I do like infinity loops though. When you see a person in the video - that is you looking at you going through a portal. You can often get a good look at yourself by placing a portal just right.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What's sauce for the goose......

In an unprecedented turn of events, the family actually agreed with me last night.

No no, I take that back.

In a not-so-unprecedented turn of events, my husband agreed with me last night and my children spiraled into depression. =Þ

What could possibly have happened? Read and find out the latest saga in the Brooks Family..... =D

Spurred on by the article in the Ensign called "Unplugged" and my son's absolute freak out fit complete with heart-wrenching tears because he only got to play half an hour of his beat-em-up computer game on a Sunday (I joke not), I gave a Family Home Evening about our family's idolization of electronics and how it should stop.

I read "Unplugged" and the "couch potato kids" story in the back of the Ensign. I said I would dearly love to get rid of the computer and TV - think of all the money we'd save! As well as all the time! I talked about how when we moved back from Germany we didn't have cable in our rental apartment and our computers hadn't arrived yet - and Emily and I had a WONDERFUL creative fun time together and I couldn't believe how many more hours there were in the day.

Then the computers arrived....and that was it.

I said we were ALWAYS plugged into some kind of electronic device - and while I would LOVE to totally get rid of them all I understood that the family couldn't handle that. So I suggested we follow the recommendations in the Couch Potato story.

Today was day one of "Only one hour each" of electronic entertainment.

Bert and I thought it only fair that he and I also limit ourselves to just one hour. Thus, I'm not sure how often I'm going to be updating my blog.

I timed myself today; 30 mins letters to my parents. 15 mins going through my homeschool emails, 15 mins on my blog.

At some point in time I'm going to have to look up Emily's grades on k12 planet to make sure she's doing what she should. I'll also have to update Ben's hs records with our blogging will go out the window.

And if I spend 15 minutes updating my blog, when on earth will I find the time to have fun looking at everyone else's?

Oh well, never mind - as long as our family sticks with this "one hour a day" thing it will all be worth it. =) I bet you our sensitivity to the Spirit increases, and we find all kinds of time to be more creative and to play together and stuff. =) I hope so, anyway! =)

BTW, My husband said that this month's Ensign was written entirely for me - turning off the TV, getting out of debt and adoption...some of my favourite subjects. =D

In other news, Bert's in California this week. Nice for him because it's beautifully warm and he gets to see his parents. We miss him though.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Apologies to my yankee friends

It took me about 3 days after we arrived in TN to realize that I wasn't really English at all, but Southern. Feels like home. =) And therefore I have no problem posting this silly little story that someone sent me via emailland. =)

Two business men in NY are sitting down for a break in their soon-to-be new store. As yet, the store isn't ready -- only a few shelves are set up.

One says to the other, "I bet any minute now some tourist is going to walk by, put his face to the window and ask what we're selling."

No sooner are the words out of his mouth when, sure enough, a curious hill-billy from the south walks to the window, has a peek, and in a Southern drawl asks, "What're y'all sellin' here?"

One of the men replies, "Oh! We're selling idiots here.

Without skipping a beat, the southerner says, "Well, I see y'all're doing really good, you only got two left!"


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Scripture

Alma 37:35

O Remember my son (and daughter), and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.

Last week Benjamin was set apart as Deacon's Quorum Secretary and this week Emily was set apart as Laurel's President.

Emily in particular is feeling the weight of her calling.

Ben has been counseled in pretty much every blessing for the past 18 months to be a leader. I think the Lord is training both of my older children for leadership roles.... =) I'm so proud of them.

In other news, Bert reminded me of a story of when I was NOT a good leader. We had been talking about how children only repeat what they hear, so if something icky comes out of their mouth, where did they hear it?

Emily was about 3 1/2. We were driving along and there was a lot of traffic and Bert and I were frustrated. Emily must have been taking this all in because she yelled out, "GET OUT OF THE WAY YOU BLOODY IDIOT!"

Bert looked at me and said "She's an American girl living in America. Where do you suppose she learned that?"

I, of course, denied all knowledge of ever saying those words. =Þ I think I may even have said "From her Father, I think." =D =D FYI, Bert is as American as Emily....Oh dang. There's no way I could honestly blame that one on anyone other than myself.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Type fast!

Ok! I'm finally catching up with my comments. =) I have 20 minutes in which to do so, therefore I'm typing at warp speed. =Þ

Shirley at Long Way Home tagged me. Hooray!!! Thank you so very much. =)

Here we go:

Rules of the 7 things Meme:
1) Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay, here go the 7 Things About Me, Like them or not:
1. I was born English in Kowloon, Hong Kong and currently live in Tennessee.
2. I used to work in a bakery on Saturday mornings, starting work really early in the morning.
3. I used to be a gothic punk.
4. It's 9.45pm and I think if my two year old doesn't get in bed and go to sleep I will go insane. I've been putting him in bed since 8pm. Go to sleep already! (Repeat over and over "this too shall pass...this too shall pass...and I'll be really sad when it does....")
5. I love marzipan
6. I used to hate peanut butter and couldn't eat it for years and couldn't understand why Americans liked it so much. Then my daughter gave me a reeses peanut butter cup, and the light went on. LOVE peanut butter now. =D
7. I still like marmite and semolina. =)

Time's up! So I'm not tagging seven people. I will, however, tag one.

Ritsumei, Tag, you're it! =)

Night all!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rushing along...

Benjamin has been playing alot on his blockland game and as it's creative and he's not playing halo I'm content to let him. Thus I haven't been online in quite some time and thus I'm feeling kind of lost....sort of like..."Ok, where was I?" =Þ With about 100 emails to get through I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed. Also, I know I have several comments on my blog to answer; feel so rude that I haven't answered them in a timely manner.

Not so much going on here. We started homeschool up again yesterday. It was nice to get back into the routine. Although Ben loudly complained on the preceeding days, half way through the morning yesterday he said "You know, actually this is kind of nice." =D

Today we were reading "George Washington's World" which is a marvellous book. It tells the story of George Washington's life and the people that lived during that same time period. Today we reached "Johannes Sebastian Bach". Ben looked at it in disbelief and, rasing his arm and shaking his fist said "ONE PAGE for BACH!!????!!! Are they NUTS???!!!" then he pointed to the bust of Bach I have on my piano and said "If that head could come alive it would definitely disaprove." =D =D =D I had no idea he felt so strongly about the genius of JS Bach. =) I was very proud of him at that time.

We also read that they salted food to preserve meat back then....which was very apropos as we learned exactly that same thing in science this week.

I also started on my diet yesterday, intending to lose 30lb by the middle of July. It's 29 weeks until we go to England, so a 30lb loss is definitely doable. I'm feeling hungry, but am coping ok with it. I have high hopes that I actually might make it this time. Wish me luck.

And now it's time to put the Drewmeister in bed so time's up on the net already. I'll answer the comments tomorrow, I hope!

Happy New Year to all! =)