Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hello from Grantham, England. =)

Just a quickie post because I'm on my parent's computer. We're having a wonderful time. =)

This is a rundown of what we've been doing thus far:

Thursday: Up ridiculously early and flew all day/night.

Friday: Arrived in England about 6.40am English time. Stayed up all day though it was really really hard. We were soooooooo tired. Had a barbeque at Caroline's house. Finally met Mo and Calvin - they're lovely. =) Nick, Craig, Jamie and Carl were there also. Stayed at a bed and breakfast in Lymington, near Southampton.

Saturday: Up early, breakfast, walked down to the Quay in Lymington. Got ready, went to the wedding. Mo loved Andrew in his Everton outfit. =) I read a poem and I didn't bawl my eyes out. =) It was a BEAUTIFUL wedding. Met up with Fleur and Rachel and Catherine among others - HELLO ALL!!! =) =) Lovely lovely day.

Sunday: Went to church in...Oh gosh I forget where, but the ward was lovely. Ben and Emily wanted to move there. =D Went swimming in the afternoon. I know, not a kosher thing to do, but we had to do SOMETHING or we'd have gone stir-crazy in the tiny cramped B&B room.

Monday: Thank goodness, checked out of that room. Drove to Caroline and Mo's house. Took them to their honeymoon on the Queen Mary 2. =) Went to Stonehenge. Yeah, that was quite amazing. Stayed overnight in Caroline's house.

Tuesday: No HMS Victory or Mary Rose at the Portsmouth docks for us, Bert was throwing up. =( Poor chap. He felt better in the afternoon so we drove up to my parent's house in Grantham.

Wednesday: Lincoln. Castle, Steep Hill, and Cathedral. Decided against going to Stratford-on-Avon this holiday as the children complained loudly and frequently at the historical sites. =( Dang dang dang dang dang dang darn dingity dang. Or, as Fleur would say, "Flippity Dang." Hahaha, Fleur, my children have taken to saying that - no kidding! =D

Thursday: Rained like crazy. Went to Downtown Grantham, then took my parents to see Wall-E. =) Mum loved it, of course. =)

Also ..... I was baptized 21 years ago today. =) I'm so so happy! It was the best decision I ever made. =)

And now...farewell, probably until we get back to the US. =)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Homeschool parents

Recently, Tristi decided to rant and did it awesomely. =) There was one person, however, whose comments were...interesting. In fact, they were so interesting I wrote a point-by-point rebuttal proving by statistics and my superior mental intellect =D =D =D that homeschoolers are amazing. But then I read Stephanie's post and realized she'd said it WAY better than I ever could. Sooooo....maybe I don't have superior mental intellect after all. =D =D

But here are some nifty statistics anyway.

But all I can say is - if it takes a trained teacher to teach a child rather than an "irresponsible and inadequate" parent (I was blown away by the judgmental attitude in that statement), how come my incredibly amazing son scored college level on his IOWAs, eh? Eh? =) =)

ANYWAY, just today I was listening to a homeschool podcast and it was so apropos I transcribed it. Enjoy. =)


"Welcome to the Homeschool Moment. News, Ideas and inspiration for homeschool families by homeschool families.

“I knew a homeschooler once who…..”. Well, just hearing these words can often make homeschoolers cringe, wondering if the rest of the statement is going to be positive or negative.

“I knew a homeschooler once who just did it to protect her children from the secular humanism and the sad thing is the kid grew up to be indoctrinated just like that too!”


”I knew a homeschooler once who was the most socially dysfunctional kid ever. I mean that kid couldn’t hold a conversation to save her life!”


“I knew a homeschooler once who….”

You get the idea.

The sad thing is that usually when someone makes this statement to you, they’re not interested in hearing about the 79 or more homeschoolers YOU know. They don’t want to know about how most of the homeschoolers in your support group have gotten into college quite easily, are leaders in their communities , and are now perfectly emotionally healthy adults with fulfilling lives, good careers, and a lifetime of unique memories.

They want to talk about the ONE homeschooler they knew - the one who caught their attention for being different.

And even then, they’re not interested in discussing how the faith of that religiously conservative homeschooled young person has sustained him throughout his life, or how the precious moments of natural learning and wonder in the garden inspired the spirituality of the child raised in the religiously liberal family. They aren’t interested in discussing how that socially inept and shy child had been ridiculed by her public school peers and how now that her family had begun homeschooling they had begun the challenging task of rebuilding her confidence in her abilities.

They want to discuss what THEY want to discuss and truthfully there is not a lot that we as homeschooling parents can do about it.

Dealing with situations when well-meaning people offer their disapproval of your heartfelt and well-reasoned decision to homeschool can be tricky. You’ll probably feel hurt, frustrated or angry and, quite possibly, defensive.

But in the end, what matters is YOUR choice. YOUR confidence, YOUR family, YOUR child. If you know what you’re doing is right for your family, stand firm. Thank them for their concern, reassure them that you have carefully considered your options, and express to them the great joy that homeschooling is for your family.

I knew a homeschooler once who wrote a top-selling series of children’s fantasy novels.
I knew a homeschooler once who learned to read at age ten – and eight years later was accepted into Harvard.
I know a homeschooler now – three of them, actually – whose passion for learning and zeal for life inspire me every morning when I wake up and whose sweet kisses and cuddles at bedtime are all the motivation I need.

Thank you for listening to the homeschool podcast network’s homeschool moment beta 0.2 for Thursday July 27th 2006 "


Ok, now I'm really off to pack. And I won't be back. SO bye bye for two weeks! =) =)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We're all going on a summer holiday....

Today I'm up to my ears in laundry, cleaning, and desperately trying to get Emily registered at the local college for her dual credit classes.

The plan is to finish the laundry and pack most of the stuff. Tomorrow will be sitting around going "What have I forgotten? WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN? AGGGGGHHHHHH!" =D =D And staying away all night worrying about it and stuff. We're off waaay early on Thursday.

I'm so excited!

If I don't write again, see you all when we get back. I promise to try to remember my camera so I can take pictures.... =D =D

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ritsumei's family

Ritsumei and her family came to visit! =) It was awesome!

We arranged to meet at church. I had a panic attack this morning as it suddenly occurred to me that I may not actually have told them that our ward met at 11am. Actually, it was Ben saying "You did tell them we don't meet at 9am, didn't you?" that set my mind going AGGGHHHHHHH!!!! and I was in a state of subdued panic until about five minutes before our Sacrament meeting started and they came in.

Hooray! It was great to meet them! =) What a lovely little family. =) Monkey was FANTASTIC in sacrament meeting, letting out a couple of fantabulous yells upon which time Monkey and his father spent the rest of sacrament meeting in the hallway. =D It's good to know other children occasionally throw fits in sacrament meeting as well. =D

Ritsumei said our ward was one of the friendliest she's ever been in. She's right, it's awesome! =) It's the only ward I've been in that calls itself "The True Ward." ROFL! =D

During Relief Society they said the missionaries needed a place to eat so we invited them along to join the fun. =D

After church, Ben was set apart as Deacon's Quorum with him in that calling and Emily as Laurel President our family is feeling doubly blessed. =)

We came home and everyone pitched in to help. Mr. Ritsumei made a fantastic salad dressing, Ritsumei made some el yummy vegetables. Meanwhile, Monkey and Andrew had a great time playing together.

Monkey loved Lightning McQueen.

Ben had a fantastic time telling Mr. Ritsumei all about his warhammer stuff. (That's his stuff in the case.)

Missionaries arrived as soon as the food was ready, hooray! =) And face-stuffing commenced immediately.

Dinner Table Participants.


Funnily enough, Mr. Ritsumei and Ben had similar expressions during dinner. =D

And as I was browsing through the pictures, I noticed Ritsumei and Elder Hall did as well. =D

We ate Marie Callender's Turtle Pie for dessert (Ritsumei brought a large tub of really yummy cookies which disappeared in about two seconds before we even had dinner. =D =D)

I liked that pie.

=D =D =D

Elder Funk enjoyed playing with the boys while we gorged on pie. How did he resist that pie? I have no idea.

He looks like he might be regretting it in this picture. =D =D

After the missionaries left, we played KILLER BUNNIES! I'd heard of this game before from some friends in Canton (Michigan). Speaking of which, I miss those friends! Oooooh, I'll have to go visit them some time soon. Anyway, Ritsumei and family brought this fanatabulous game and it was great fun! =)

Oh, before I forget, just as we were beginning to do the dishes our home teacher rang and while I was talking to him Ritsumei did ALL the dishes! Thank you so much, Ritsumei! =)

Anyway, after the dishes, it was Killer Bunnies time. =)

The cards

Ben stacked the dice, then looked menacing as I took his picture. =D =D

Andrew hid in the couch. =)

Upon completion of a brilliant game, despite the ardent efforts of these two lovely ladies,

this terrible, terrible man somehow trounced them.

How did it happen? Was it his secret Ninja Jedi Martial Arts Master skills? Who knows. =D

*happy sigh* It was a wonderful day. I was so so sad to see them go. They were so very tired though, having traveled FOURTEEN HOURS to TN - and tomorrow have another journey of at least five hours. I'm so thankful they took the time to come see us.

I have to say, Monkey is THE CUTEST little guy (other than Andrew, of course). I had to stop myself from grabbing him and squeezing him. He's so cute! =)

Also, Ritsumei's bag looks even better in person.

That's one talented lady.

What a great day. =) I'm so glad to have met them. =)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How to practice

From Make a practice Session Schedule.

The Half-Hour Practice Plan

* Pick a location in your house that has a minimum amount of distractions. Practicing in front of the TV or in a room full of people is not conducive to concentration.

* Pick a time that you can practice without interruption. That includes considering how your sounds will affect the others in your home.

* Make sure you have everything in the area you need – music, reeds, metronome, etc.

5 Minutes: Prep time and warm up

10 Minutes: Technique work.

10 Minutes: Performance music work

5 Minutes: FUN TIME!!!

10 ways to slow things down

From the Simple Living Network.

10 Ways To Slow Things Down
By Jim Fulton
Copyright © 1998. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission from Simple Living Journal. For more information visit

What can you do if you feel like life is rushing by insanely fast? Here are 10 ways to at least slow it down a little bit and help you keep your sanity:

* First of all, stop multitasking. That's computer talk for doing several things at once -- talking on a cellular phone while driving, for example. When people try to multitask, they don't do any task well.

* Ditch the TV. Try going for a full week without turning the stupid thing on. If you're a typical American, you're likely to discover that you suddenly have a lot more leisure time.

* Don't get hung up on your telephone. Why should you jump whenever it rings? What are you, Pavlov's dog? If the phone interrupts you in the midst of doing something, let the answering machine pick it up.

* Sit. Do it for a while, say half and hour, and don't do anything else. Just relax and let your mind drift. If you start obsessing about your job, stop and say, "That's quite enough of that!"

* Listen to some music. How often do you sit down and actually listen to a piece of music without doing something else? If your answer is never, then you've never really listened to music.

* Keep a journal. Take a few minutes each day to write down your thoughts, or to describe something that happened to you that day. You will develop a better understanding of yourself.

* Rediscover a childhood pleasure. When you were a kid, did you like to paint? To collect bugs? To wade in the creek and catch frogs? Why not do it now? If you have children, they can help you do this. Do what they do.

* Have some quality time with your dog. Or cat. Or bird. Take the time to grow close to your animal. Pet him. Talk to him. Throw the saliva-soaked tennis ball for him. (I would add as just *slightly* more important =Þ "Have some quality time with your child(ren) or spouse. Practice the next suggestion while you're with them.)

* Have a conversation. Most of what passes for conversation these days is not. Take the time to really listen to someone else, to hear his or her thoughts and to share yours.

* Be. This is sort of like "sit," except you're not sitting now; you're doing whatever you happen to be doing. But as you're doing it, you're really paying attention to what you're doing. If you're eating a cookie, for example, take the time to look at it, smell it and feel it before you stuff it in your gob. Dissect it, and eat it the way a kid would. Ah, the texture of life is made of moments like this.

Getting ready for Ritsumei

Emily was babysitting last night, and Ben was at Warhammer. Bert is still in California, so it was just Andrew and myself.

So I took him to see Wall-e again. =) I'd bought him a Wall-e T-shirt from Target as a nightshirt for our trip to England. I thought it was a good time to show it to him. He was SO thrilled! He put it on right away. =)

Then we picked up some treats for the film, ate dinner, and off we went. It was awesome! =) We both loved it just as much second time around. =)

Afterwards I needed to kill some time before picking Ben up at Warhammer, so we went to borders. I'd seen a Little Golden Book of Wall-e on Amazon which I'd wanted for Andrew as it was only $3 but didn't buy because there was a 2-3 week delivery time and I wanted him to have it for our trip to England.

ANYWAY off we went to Borders - which is SO much better than Barnes and Noble, btw.

Firstly I found a fantastic Wall-e colouring book with some stickers for the airplane flight. I looked on their computers but they didn't have any Wall-e little golden books in stock. Dang it!

I rounded the corner...and there, shoved on a shelf with a bunch of other unrelated books...was ONE Wall-e Little Golden Book. I joke not. I couldn't believe it! It was like manna from Heaven! I flipped through the book and it was just perfect for Andrew. =) Hooray!!! What a blessing. =)

So today I have to tidy up the house because Ritsumei is coming tomorrow. =D I suspect we'll be looking at homeschool I'd better tidy it up, eh?

The main homeschool shelf downstairs isn't too bad:

However, because the homeschool room has been moved several times this year, it's in a bit of a mess.

This shelf's not too bad:

Neither's this one,

or this one.

Even Ben's guitar is ready to go.

However, look at this:

Then review the previous pictures and ask yourself: where is the space for all this stuff to go?

Uhhh....yeah. You see my problem? How did I fit it all in there in the first place anyway? I have no idea.

You know I have this fantasy that I get rid of EVERYTHING in the house and we move to a much smaller one.

I declare, this is my goal for the rest of the year. One room a week, go through, be ruthless. As my name is Keeley and we have no Ruths at all in the house, that won't be too hard. Ah ha Ah ha. Yeah, I know. It was bad. Sorry about that.

Yeah, good luck with that. *sigh*

My other goal: continue losing weight. I wanted to be at 135 by the time I went to England, and I'm off by FIFTEEN POUNDS. I'm SO depressed about that. =( But. Ok. Deep breath. Set the disappointment aside. It's ok. I'm not going to be svelte and stunningly gorgeous when I see my family, dangitalltoheck, and I'm going to look like a blimp in the Official Family Portrait - you know the one that they're taking while we're all together for the last time ever so it will go down in the annals of history through the centuries? Yeah, that one. I'll be known as the American Blimp of the family. *sigh* =(

But again, set that aside. Deep breath. New goal: 135lbs by Christmas. I can do it!

Declutter my house, declutter my body. You go, Keeley! =) =)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My daughter is a genius

Having heard from my mother that it's 60F in England at the moment (AGGGHHH!!!!!), Emily thought it would probably be wise to buy herself some jeans.

So off she went and came home with a pair.
"Let's see 'em" I said, interested.
"Ok" said she, "But let me hem them first."

About two minutes later she came out of the bathroom.

I thought they looked great! Then I looked at the hem, and knowing teenagers like their trousers WAY longer than ordinary mortals, I asked "Why do you need to hem them? They look fine."

She replied, "I already hemmed them."

I must have looked REALLY confused because it had been all of about two minutes that she was in her room. How did she hem them so fast?

Do you see where she did it? I couldn't! In my defense, we were standing in a dark hallway at the time and I was looking at the very bottom of her trousers, not two inches up from the hem.

"Do you want to see my secret?" she asked.

Well of COURSE! =D

Dang it, these next pictures are fuzzy.

She takes a flap of denim about two inches up, folds it over, sews a voila! Hemmed jeans. No lump right at the hem. No-one can tell - it just looks like a fold in the long, floppy jeans.

I looked at her in astonishment.

"Did you think of that all by yourself?"

Yes, she did.

The girl is a genius.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How to survive tough times

We all got up ridiculously early this morning and took Bert to the airport. *sigh*. =( He's going to California, where at least he'll be able to spend some time with his parents, so that's good. =) But we'll miss him. He'll be back in time for me to wash his laundry so he can pack it again to go to England. =)

I came across this helpful article: 5 Strategies for Surviving Tough Times. The main points are these:

1. Don't Buy What You Can't Afford

2. If You Can't Pay Cash, You Probably Can't Afford It

3. Paying Interest on Anything Makes Somebody Else Rich

4. If You Are in Debt, stop Spending Money

5. Don't Count on Somebody Else to Save You

The article also gives an example of a country who continued to save, not "spend to feed the economy", and it resulted in a more financially healthy nation.

The final paragraph states:

"Live Now Like You Face Tough Times

These five strategies work equally well when times are good, so there is no need to wait until you are in trouble to start making smart decisions.Your lifestyle will be characterized by things you can actually afford, such as a house that won't get repossessed, a car that might not impress the neighbors but will still get you to work and back, and long, restful nights free from financial worries. It might not be the fairytale lifestyle of the rich and famous that corporate marketers having been trying sell you, but at least you won't have to worry about how to keep up on the payments for a lifestyle you can't afford."

My advice to couples starting out? Live on only one salary. If you can't afford what you want to buy with only that one salary, you want too much. Live frugally. I've heard of families that lived in a one-bedroom apartment - WITH THREE CHILDREN - because that's what they could afford. They put a curtain up in the middle of the room. Ideal living arrangement? No. Difficult? Of course? Worth it? You betcha!

Think of Dawn for example. Her family of eight live in a 1000 square foot house.

If you live on one salary at the beginning of your marriage, you can use the other salary for all kinds of awesome things. Get out of debt. Save like crazy for a modest house. Save for retirement. Save for when you have children so you can pay for your medical bills with cash. Save for your children's college. Just SAVE.

Remember the rule when buying a house. The NEW rule, not the OLD rule. Or rather, a return to what the rule USED to be way back when in our grandparent's or great-grandparent's time. Ready? It's important.

BUY THE SMALLEST HOUSE YOU CAN FIT IN....not, as the realtors tell you, the biggest house you can afford. The realtors, of course, want you to buy a bigger house because then they get a bigger paycheck. However, buy the smallest house you can fit in and then pay it off as fast as you can.

Don't, whatever you do, buy the biggest house you can afford. Because then you end up paying every extra bit of cash towards the mortgage and you end up having no college fund at all for your daughter who's taking college courses as dual credit in August (and you don't know where the money's going to come for that) and is going to college next year (and you don't know where the money's going to come for that either). And, furthermore, said daughter also needs orthodonture...and you don't know where the money's going to come for that either. And why? Because you bought the biggest house you could afford instead of buying a smaller house in a town a bit further away from work.

I've talked before about Crown Financial Ministries. They are very religious - their slogan being "God's way of handling money" - but although it's a different religion from mine, I don't find them offensive at all. Their obvious love and caring for others is heartwarming and uplifting.

Their main message is to follow something Chuck Bentley and Howard Dayton created called "The Money Map" This map has seven "destinations". Follow the money map step by step, and by destination seven, you'll be completely financially stable. Hooray!

Destination One:
Develop a spending plan by tracking your expenses for a full month and creating a budget around it.
Save $1000 for emergencies

Destination Two:
Pay off all credit cards
Increase savings to one month's living expenses

Destination Three:
Pay off all consumer debt (auto, furniture, student loans, etc. - everything except mortgage)
Increase savings to three month's living expenses

Destination Four:
Begin saving for major purchases (home, auto, etc.)
Begin saving for retirement
Begin saving for children's education
If you want to start your own business, begin saving for it.

Destination Five:
Buy affordable home
Begin prepaying home mortgage
Begin investing wisely

Destination Six:
home mortgage paid off
Children's education funded
Confirm estate plan is in order

Destination Seven:
Retirement funded
You are now free to be more generous with your time and money.

Important point: Don't think of retirement of a time to sit around doing nothing. Think instead of saving enough money so that you don't have to work to survive, but you can now afford to donate your time, talents and energy to good causes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


MotherHen at Ship Full O'Pirates created this awesome meme.

I was tagged. Unfortunately, we had visitors last week and I cleaned up my normally fantabulously messy house.

However, my coffee table usually has all kinds of hideous stuff piled on it so I chose that one. it's not half as interesting as Mother Hen's, but it does the trick. =)

The table

Five items dumped on the table by my children

Four inspirational magazines

Three electronic controllers

Two sudoku books - one of which came all the way from Japan courtesy of my husband. =)

One longstitch tapestry

While I was doing this, my children put Andrew's pants on his head and took some pictures. *smacks hand against her head* That poor young man. He's even learned how to do funky expressions like Ben. *sigh*.

I tag Ritsumei and Carrie.

Laundry detergent update

Ok, so remember when I made my own laundry detergent?

The second recipe - with lavender castille soap - I felt didn't work worth beans.

I have noticed with the first recipe (the one that worked better) our clothes were gradually getting duller. Bert had nasty ring-around-the-collar-and-cuffs. My whites were not coming out white.

So I switched to Tide with Bleach. Our clothes are coming out a WHOLE lot cleaner. Dangit! Unfortunately, I've started to itch. Grrrr.

So, my solution for the future:

Either use Tide one week a month and homemade stuff the rest of the time, OR use a full bottle of tide every few months.

I am coming to the conclusion that homemade is cheaper, and is better for the environment, and doesn't make you itch...but it doesn't clean as well. Dang it all to heck! The frugal penny-pinching part of me (ie, every part of me except the pride-filled "must look good" part) is really sulking about this.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Look what I found in the garden this morning.

Living in Tennessee, we have our share of garden-filled wildlife. The ticks are particularly bad this year, and Ben and Bert are constantly having to pick them off their bodies. Gag-me-gross. Luckily I haven't had a tick in me yet...I think I'd have a screaming fit.

But other than ticks, chiggers, flies, huge wasps, and butterflies galore, we also have other wildlife.

Like snakes.

There he is, the little monkey...erm, snake....sunbathing his cold-blooded body.

He totally ignored me, even when I got really close. Didn't move a muscle.


Cool as a cucumber.

There are also rather a lot of bunnies this year.

Fast little whippersnappers aren't they?


While uploading the wildlife pictures from the camera to my computer, I also discovered some other photos that I didn't know existed.

This is Emily's self-portrait

This is Ben's. The difference in personality is astounding.

This is Ben's portrait of Andrew.

BTW, I've signed Andrew up for soccer again. It starts in September, I think. Everytime we drive by the soccer fields (which we do often as it's on the way to Kroger) he gets all excited. =D

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Laughter is the best remedy

Just for fun, here are some interesting websites. Interesting to mormons, at least.

Famous Mormons:

The Back Bench:

The Mormon Zone:

And did you know there's a Nauvoo University opening? 'mazin'.

My Nana, Fleur, and my old school

My Nana has been ill for some time with her second bout of breast cancer. In the past few days she has quickly deteriorated, and is now in hospital in a great deal of pain; they think the cancer has moved into her bones.

I take that back, she's not in a great deal of pain. She's jacked up on morphine so she's hanging in there. If they move her it hurts a lot, so they don't move her.

My Mum is up there, worrying to death about her and obviously in quite a bit of emotional turmoil. It doesn't help that she has a chest infection that is just not going away, and thus I'm worried that my Mum will get very ill if she doesn't take care of herself.

My Mum

My Nana

I love these ladies. I wish I were there with them. Not much I could do really, so it's probably a good thing that I'm not.

I feel so helpless though.

In other, happier news, I heard that an old schoolfriend of mine, Fleur, reads this blog. So I say "HI FLEUR!!!!" *waves happily* See you at Caroline's wedding! Love to your family! =)

Here's my old school. It's now an old people's home. Click on the picture. See the cupola in the center? There used to be a statue of St. Joseph in there. See the very top window on the left? I believe that used to be where the showers were. I remember hanging out those windows doing naughty things that I haven't done for 21 years since I became LDS. =D

Dang, just looking at that picture, the building looks a whole heck of a lot smaller than it did when I were nobbut a lass. I attended that school from age 8-16. It was a boarding school. I believe I have blogged about it before.

Sunday Scripture

Moroni 10: 8-18

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
11 And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;
13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;
16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.

It's a difficult thing for me to think about the gifts I've been blessed with. We all, as children of God, have been given gifts. Some are more obvious than others. For example, Beethoven certainly had the gift of music. Others are much less obvious. But we are ALL blessed with gifts. We are ALL beloved and special to our Heavenly Father.

I'd like to think one of my gifts is being friendly. I also know without a doubt that my purpose in life is to be a mother to my children; that is a gift too. I also think a gift of mine is to suck it up in difficult situations. When a hard thing needs doing, I take a deep breath and just do it.

For example, from the time Ben was 1 month old he had a terrible ear infection. It just NEVER went away. No antibiotics were touching it. It got to the point where the doctor looked in her cabinet and handed me a medicine and said that a company had given this to her to try, so I should mix it up myself and see if it worked. This stuff was nasty gritty. Poor Ben! For six months I held that little kid down several times a day, put my finger between his gums so he couldn't spit the medicine out, and made him take it.

Just thinking about it gets me teary eyed. It was awful. I hated it. My poor tiny baby! But I did it, because I lived with the hope it would make him well. But it didn't. We were moving to Germany and the specialist said there was no way he could go on a plane; his eardrums would explode. So they scheduled the operation to put tubes in his ears. Bert was in Germany at the time so I had to go to the hospital alone.

I was there, with Emily (5), and baby Benjamin. And the nurse came and said "it's time", and held her hands out for Ben. Blah, it makes me bawl just writing about it. And I took a deep breath and handed my heart to her, and watched her walk away with it. That was HARD!!

OTOH, I heard a story today of a high-ranking communist official in China that became a Christian. He was testified to by a Christian who he was executing, and it touched his heart, and he converted. The communist party didn't want to execute him because he was so high ranking that would look bad for the party. So they imprisoned him. Once a month, they would bring one of his children in and tell him to recant his Christianity. When he didn't, they executed that child. They did that once a month until they had executed all four of his children and his wife. And I think I'VE done difficult things? I don't think so. I was never run out of town and had to walk thousands of miles to a safe haven, burying my children along the way. I've never been beaten for my faith, my home has never been firebombed. And while there are certain people who believe Mormons are evil and have horns, no-one has spit on my or scourged me or crucified me. So I guess in reality life's been pretty easy for me thus far.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Ok, so Bert and I had an awesome date. First we went to subway where we bought dinner for ourselves with $6 and a coupon. Alright! =) =)

Then we went to see Wall-e.

And I have to say - this is one of the CUTEST films I've seen in a long time. Environmental preaching notwithstanding, it was such a sweet film. I'm hoping to take Andrew to see it again because he liked it so much as well. =)

If you can afford the hideously expensive ticket prices, I strongly recommend you go see this film. =) Just...don't think about it too deeply. Go, "suspend your disbelief", and enjoy. =)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Day

Emily's home from Girl's Camp! Hooray! =) She's awesome.

She was also exposed to lice - for the first time we have a huge risk of lice in our house. AGH! We had to throw away bedding and stuff. We're washing her clothes on sanitary cycle. Hopefully none of the little licey buggers make it from camp into our house.

Bert took Emily and Andrew to see Wall-e on July 4th (Ben had already seen it and didn't want to go, and I stayed home with him...but I really stayed home because I heard it was environmentally politically correct and anti-human, both issues which punch my buttons) and Bert LOVED the film. He's talked about it all week. Thus...he wants to take me to see it tonight. He says it's really cute. =D

I can't remember the last time he was cuted out by anything, so I'm submitting with happy grace to his desire to take me to see it. I'll have to go knowing about the politically correct stuff and look past that and just enjoy the story. =) It's going to be a fun date. =)

There's public officials all over the place!

Hey! Another letter from a politician! =)

Dear Mrs. Brooks,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding S.J.RES.43, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

Like you, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and like you, I support a constitutional amendment to that effect.

Thanks again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me.


Bob Corker
United States Senator

Well, that was pretty straightforward. =)


Christina at Home Spun Juggling posted this awesome post with pictures of baby skunks.

It made me go awwwwww and want to post this picture of a cute baby bunny. Everyone say awwwww now. =)

I declare it it all Ben's fault that I've become enchanted with lolcats

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Popular Mechanics, Vaccines, and the psychology of the human race.

I've always thought that "Popular Mechanics" magazine was all about mechanical things; you know, cars and such. I was probably incorrect in this assumption, which is why I was surprised to find an article by Glenn Harlan Reynolds called "Vaccine Denial". I'll type it out below as I can't find it online and therefore can't link to it.

However, I did find this nifty PM article debunking the 9/11 myths. Cool.

I knew someone who immunized their son and he thereafter began showing signs of autism. Correlation - certainly. Cause and effect - who knows? I myself have always immunized my children - mainly because not one of them have had adverse reactions to the immunizations and I believe, if at all possible, it's better to be immunized than not.

Having said that, though, given the choice I wouldn't have them immunized against chicken pox. This is a relatively mild ailment, and thus I believe the immunization is elective. Polio, however, is NOT elective. That is one nasty disease and one to be avoided at all costs. Same as whooping cough. I had something like it when I was a teenager (I'd wake up at night coughing and unable to breathe, and would go stand over the sink in the bathroom - because I was coughing too much to swallow - and cough and cough and cough and pray I would stop coughing soon so I could take a breath.) and it was SO not fun. Babies died of whooping cough. Or were brain damaged. Poor little sausages. =(

And there are some immunizations that are, I believe, rushed to market before proper studies. Gardasil, for one, scares the living daylights out of me. The chicken pox vaccine used to be "for life", but now they say it needs to be updated every few years. Hmmmm. What else are they going to tell us about it a few years down the road? While I have immunized my children, I certainly possess a very large distrust of the medical establishment as a whole. I think they'll push what makes them money. A few years ago, my doctor pushed me to take Levaquin, a new drug. What kind of kickback was he getting? It certainly cost me an arm and a leg to take it and it didn't work worth beans. Just recently Levaquin and Cipro (the other drug I've been induced to take in past years - I'm allergic to penicillin, tetracyclin, sulfa, erithroniacin and chloromycetin. Sorry I can't spell 'em.) have been found to cause "exploding tendons" or something like that. Bizarre.

It doesn't help that doctors only spend a couple of minutes with each patient. How on earth can they get to know them in that short space of time? How on earth can trust be built? No wonder people are turning to natural remedies - for the most part, practitioners of natural remedies spend, on average, 30-60 minutes EACH VISIT with their patients. Relationships are forged. The doctors get to know all about their patients and their lives. Trust is built.

I trust my doctor so little I don't even know who she is! I joke not. I've totally forgotten my doctor's name. At some point I'll fall ill and I suppose I'll have to find out then. But I avoid going like the plague. Even when I have vertigo, I'd rather live through it than go to the doctors.

ANYWAY, here's the article: Thoughts?

Vaccine Denial
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Printed in the August 2008 issue of Popular Mechanics

Progress is easy to take for granted. When I was a child in the '60s, polio was history, measles was on the way out, and diphtheria and whooping cough were maladies out of old movies. Now these contagious diseases are making a comeback. Take measles, for instance. The disease used to infect 3-4 million Americans per year, hospitalizing nearly 50,000 people and causing 400-500 deaths. In 2000 a panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed that measles transmission had been eradicated in the United States, except for imported cases. But that caveat is important. An unvaccinated 7-year-old from San Diego became infected with measles while traveling with his family in Switzerland and ended up transmitting the disease back home to two siblings, five schoolmates and four other children at his doctor's office - all of them unvaccinated. Whooping cough has also seen a resurgence: A school in the East Bay area near San Francisco was closed recently when some 16 students fell ill.

The reason for these incidents - and for recent outbreaks of polio - is that the percentage of parents vaccinating their children has fallen, perhaps because some parents see no point in warding off diseases they've never encountered. Religious or new-age beliefs may also factor into the decision: The San Diego outbreak spread in a school where nearly 10 percent of the students had been given personal-belief exemptions from the vaccination requirement. The East Bay outbreak started at a school that emphasizes nature-based therapy over mainstream medicine; fewer than half of the students were vaccinated.

Why would parents refuse to vaccinate their children against dangerous diseases? Many are skeptical of modern science and medicine in general. (And it is true that most vaccines carry exceedingly tiny - but real - risks of serious illness or even death.) But I think most are responding to the widespread belief that vaccines are linked to autism. Recent studies have soundly dispelled that notion. And a simple glance at health statistics shows that autism cases continued to rise even after thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative widely blamed for the supposed autism link, was largely phased out of U.S. vaccines by 2001.

Nevertheless, these unsubstantiated fears have led some people to say that getting vaccinated should be a matter of individual choice: If you want to be protected, just get yourself and your children vaccinated.

Only it's not that easy. While the measles vaccine protects virtually everyone who is inoculated, not all vaccines have the same rate of success. But even if a vaccine is effective for only 70, 80 or 90 percent of those who take it, the other 30, 20 or 10 percent who don't get the full benefit of the vaccine are usually still not at risk. That's because most of the people around the partially protected are immune, so the disease can't sustain transmission long enough to spread.

But when people decide to forgo vaccination, they threaten the entire system. They increase their own risk and the risk of those in the community, including babies too young to be vaccinated and people with immune systems impaired by disease or chemotherapy. They are also free-riding on the willingness of others to get vaccinated, which makes a decision to avoid vaccines out of fear or personal belief a lot safer.

Of course it is the very success of modern vaccines that makes this complacency possible. In previous generations, when epidemic disease swept through schools and neighborhoods, it was easy to persuade parents that the small risks associated with vaccination were worth it. when those epidemics stopped - because of widespread vaccinations - it became easy to forget that we still live in a dangerous world. It happens all the time: University of Tennessee law professor Gregory Stein examined the relation between building codes and accidents since the infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York and discovered a pattern: accident followed by a period of tightened regulations, followed by a gradual slackening of oversight until the next accident. It often takes a dramatic event to focus our minds.

The problem is that modern society requires constant, not episodic, attention to keep it running. In his book The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death 1700-2100 Nobel Prize-winning historian Robert Fogel notes the incredible improvement in the lives of ordinary people since 1700 as a result of modern sanitation, agriculture and public health. It takes steady work to keep water clean, prevent the spread of contagious disease and ensure an adequate food supply. As long as things go well, there's a tendency to take these conditions for granted and treat them as a given. But they're not: As Fogel notes, they represent a dramatic departure from the normal state of human existence over history, in which people typically lived nasty, sickly and short lives.

This departure didn't happen on its own, and things don't stay better on their own. Keeping a society functioning requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work by people who don't usually get a lot of attention - sanitation engineers, utility linemen, public health nurses, farmers, agricultural chemists and so on. Because the efforts of these workers are often undramatic, they are underappreciated and frequently underfunded. Politicians like to cut ribbons on new bridges or schools, but there's no fanfare for the everyday maintenance that keeps the bridges standing and the schools working. As a result, critical parts of society are quietly decaying, victims of complacency or of active neglect. (See PM's special report on the nation's infrastructure, "Rebuilding America," May '08) It's not just vaccinations or bridges, either. A few years ago, I attended an Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board meeting, and the water-treatment discussion was enough to make me think about switching to beer.

What do we do about this? To some degree, we have to do what the reformers of the 19th and early 20th centuries did: Hector people about the importance of paying attention to our society's upkeep. Alas, our main allies in persuasion will probably be the epidemics and other disasters that take place when too few pay attention. Sometimes, people have to trip and fall to be reminded that it's important to watch their step.

Support the troops

"If you don't stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them"

Though I must admit, I don't know anyone who doesn't support our soldiers; they just disagree about the correct way to support them. =)