Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oh my good gravy, that's not good

So, I found this info on Candace's blog:

"While in the Illinois State Legislature Barack Obama voted three separate times to have babies who survive abortion immediately killed because "he doesn't want the mothers to suffer for their mistakes.""

Uhm. That's pretty bad. That, in fact, is state-sanctioned murder. That's really really scary.

Sunday Scripture

D&C 21:4-6

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.

Fleur's Translation:
Listen to the Prophet and follow his counsel and even if it's difficult you will be blessed and the Lord will make sure you're ok.

Harold B. Lee had much the same opinion:

"The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand...Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, "as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith."

There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life.

But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that "The gates of hell shall not prevail against you; and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory."

Friday, August 29, 2008


So, Ritsumei had a fun meme on her blog and I'm nicking it. =) If you nick it, let me know, k? =)

Answer the following with only one word

1. Where is your cell phone?....fruitbowl
2. Your significant other?....Hotstuff
3. Your hair?....annoying
4. Your mother?....Giving
5. Your father?....Supportive
6. Your favorite thing?....Babies
7. Your dream last night?....non-existent
8. Your favorite drink....Water
9. Your dream/goal?....Eternal
10. The room you're in?....livingroom
11. Your children?....adored
12. Your fear?....non-eternal
13. Where do you want to be in 6
14. Where were you last night?....forget
15. What you're not?....organized
16. Muffins....butter
17. One of your wish list items?....svelte
18. Where you grew up?....everywhere
19. What you read last....Homeschool
20. What are you wearing?....nightdress
21. Your TV?....ugh
22. Your pets?
23. Your computer?....irritating
24. Your life?....adventure
25. Your mood?....exhausted
26. Missing someone?....yes
27. Your car?....runs
28. Something you're not wearing?....tutu
29. Favorite Store?....none
30. Your summer?....awesome
31. Like someone?....course
32. Your favorite color?....purple
33. Last time you
34. Last time you cried?....Wednesday

I will survive - homeschool style

Natalie Criss from Ramblings, Rants and Remedies wrote this awesome homeschooling song to the tune of "I will Survive".

First I was afraid
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never teach
’Cause I’m not certified.
But we spent so many nights
Reteaching homework that was wrong.
I grew strong,
so now I teach my kids at home!
We study math
and outer space.
I just kept on despite the fear
with a big smile across my face.
I bought a set of Base Ten blocks.
I bought books with answer keys.
My parents think we’re nuts,
but they don’t even bother me

Come on, let’s go walk out the door.
We’re on the road now,
'cause we’re not home much anymore
My friends would frown and say we’d be unsocialized.
I heard one grumble
that I’d give up by July.
Oh no, not I!
I will survive!
As long as I know how to read
I know we’ll be alright.
I've got all my life to learn.
I've got energy to burn.
and I'll survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart.
Decided to attend
a play date at the local park,
and I met oh so many moms
who offered eagerly to help.
They used to cry.
Now they hold their heads up high,
and so do we!
My kids are cool!
They’re not those chained up little people
stuck inside at school.
So if you feel like dropping by
don't you expect us to be free
I'm spending my time learning
with my loving family!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The pundits have it wrong

I´m a-listnin' to Barak Obama. He's good. He's really good. And slick. And charming. And good looking.

And then I listen to these pundits say that it will be a close race. And I'm thinking...are these guys BLIND or NUTS? I mean, good gravy, it's not going to be CLOSE to close! It's going to be a landslide for Obama.

This is my prediction: Obama wins in a landslide.

It makes me want to cry. Oh good gravy, listening to him makes me want to scream. All I can hear is "If you mess up, don't worry about it, we'll take care of it for you, ok? 'Cos you're so helpless, dumb and uncreative you can't help yourself at all and need big brother to take care of you. Whatever you need, your government is going to give it to you. We're going to raise taxes so high that the middle class are going to suffer a huge standard of living drop."

Lower taxes my eye. Obama's policies are going to usher in some really tough economic times. It's not going to be pretty.

And the health plan he has makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. My Nana is living in the kind of health that he wants to introduce and it's N.O.T...G.O.O.D.

Oh...of course...yeah, the way to fix the education system is to throw more money at it...despite the fact that studies show the OPPOSITE.

Ok. I have to go now before my head explodes with frustration.

I have an adult daughter

My baby girl is 18 today.

I don't have any pictures scanned from really early in her life, but here are a few I have of her when she wur nobbut a young teen.

Emily, Amanda, Hilary, Katie. What great girls. =)

Here she is on her 15th birthday. FIFTEEN! Holy cow, would you look at the gorgeousness of that girl?

Homecoming, age 15. Stunning, I tell ya!

Yeah, the girl can paint.

Though she's occasionally a dork, she's hysterical at the same time. =D

Emily wanted to open her gifts in the morning, and as Seminary begins at 6am, present opening began at 5.30am. Yes. That's 5.30AM.

Here she is, looking dang good for so early in the morning.

All the pressies, and a pretty girl. Woman. Pretty Woman. She's 18. Woman.

Massive approval of the Maraschino Cherries Andrew gave her.

Yes, she definitely likes those maraschino cherries. Especially as David is quitting Sonic and therefore will not be able to be her shady dealer in this particular addiction.

The Nike Shocks we gave her. She was a bit distracted when I took this photo.

Emily registers slight approval of the huge packet of reese's chocolate that Ben gave her.

This is the card Ben and Andrew gave Emily. It's been quite a hit in this household, and has been played all morning long. Andrew loves it. =D

Tonight, Emily wishes for her birthday dinner: Digorno garlic bread pizza, garlic bread and lemon sorbet. I joke not. We would have taken her anywhere, and this is what she chose. =D I'm not quite sure where we'll put the 18 candles, as Emily doesn't want a cake. I think, however, that what we'll do is buy a small cake, put the candles on it, sing to her, blow them out....and then Emily can have lemon sorbet and the rest of us will eat the cake. =)

18. Holy cow. How did that happen? I remember just after she was born someone said to me "Before you know it she'll be 18 months and in nursery" and I looked at the tiny Emily baby and thought "No WAY is that ever going to happen."

And today she's 18 YEARS.

Blows my mind.

Conniptions in the Brooks Household

Just a quickie acos we´re meant to be working right now.

It's been quite the week in the Brooks household filled with drama and emotional pain. Many of Ben's friends have gone back to public school and therefore Ben has been not behaving very well in a bid to make us send him back.

To cut a long story short, this morning I came up with this "contract" =D which we both signed, and we're waiting for Bert to come home from work to add his signature. =D

1. IF you are well-behaved, well-mannered and self-motivated (definition of self-motivation = get yourself up and do chores and work without moaning, complaining, procrastinating or faffing about) throughout this year, THEN you may go to public school or a similar institution for high school.

2. IF your grades or attitude or gentlemanly behaviour to your family or your language slips, THEN you will be yanked out of above-mentioned Institution for the criminally insane of education. Unceremoniously yanked, even.

3. IF your behaviour, attitude, gentlemanly behaviour and language does not slip AND if you get your Eagle Scout, THEN you may get your drivers' license.

4. IF your behaviour, attitude, gentlemanly behaviour and language do not slip AND you have your Eagle scout and license, THEN upon discussion matter with your Fatherly parental unit IF he agrees THEN you may possibly get a cell phone.

Actually, what I originally wrote was "Cell Pone" which I thought was pretty funny as it sounded like I was going to pwn him. =D

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Scripture

D&C 25:12

For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.

Fleur's Translation:
The Lord is happy when we sing good songs. Not icky ones, but uplifting ones. When we sing sweet hymns, the Lord counts it as a prayer, and will bless us for it.

Read the jagstinger's and tersasada's comments after this video - they're so sweet.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Ben Quotes

We just had the sweetest Family home evening. We sang "ring around the rosie" because Andrew wanted to. =) Then we did our usual "accomplishments", then showed Andrew pictures of the Saviour, Joseph Smith and Thomas Monson and asked him who they were.

The topic in Relief Society/Priesthood today was President Uctdorf's talk "Faith of our Fathers" - and amazingly enough, Bert's sister Leslie had given me the film about John McCain; "Faith of my Fathers" so I thought how apropos and we decided to watch it for Family Home Evening.

Before that, however, we each said a little something about what "Faith of our Fathers" means to us.

Ben told a beautiful story of a young man he'd met at scout camp. This young man was 16 and had just joined the church. He'd lost his pastor as a friend (the pastor had frankly rejected him) and many other church friends. He felt alone. Ben was worried about him - worried that he would fall away because it was so difficult for him. Imagine Ben's joy when he saw him just a week or so ago at a Stake activity! =) Ben was so thrilled!

It made Ben think about how sometimes he and his friends don't make good decisions and yet here was this young man leaving behind all he'd known, being reviled, and yet still making good decisions and coming to church.

It brought to mind how Emily had been crying lately, feeling so alone because she feels like she's the only girl in her school who's making the right choices. She was talking to David about it, and he said that he's felt alone for years, and has basically given up on friends at school.

They had leadership training on Saturday. There was a segment on how, as a leader, sometimes when you stand up for something right, you stand alone. Emily cried her eyes out when she saw this. Brother Killingbeck, who had put this presentation together, later told Emily that he'd pretty much got the presentation sorted when he went to the Temple and while he was there felt strongly that he should add that particular bit. Wow! How cool is that.

After we share this, Ben asked "Can we please sing "Love at Home" for closing song?" Of course! =) So we did.

I looked up near the end of the song, and absolutely lost it when I saw that Ben was red-faced, bawling his eyes out from the sweetness of the Spirit in our home.

So there we were, just bawling. Bert and I gave Ben a hug. It was lovely.

Emily said the closing prayer.

By this time I really did not want to watch "Faith of my Fathers" - it just didn't seem to fit. I said "If you don't want to watch this film because you feel it might disturb the Spirit, we don't have to - we can watch a Conference talk instead."

Ben replied.....and here's the Ben quote...."I'm not feeling the Spirit that much."

ROFL!!! =D =D We laughed so hard. It was such a Ben thing to say. =D

So we watched the video of Emily's Trek instead. =) It's awesome, and kept the sweet spirit in our home....particularly as the video is set to Jason Deere's "Nashville Tribute to Pioneers". =)

Yay for Family Home Evening! =)

Hahahaha! We're still watching the Trek video and what do you know, a song comes on (Somewhere there's a Mountain) sung by Josie Deere....who is in Ben's class and is e.x.c.e.p.t.i.o.n.a.l.l.y. pretty. =) I believe Maddie and J.Davis also sing in this song.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is homeschooling gospel appropriate?

Is Homeschooling Gospel Appropriate?

By Terrie Lynn Bittner

Every now and then, a Latter-day Saint encounters criticism from church members about their decision to homeschool. They're told it's a sin, or that it prevents their children from being missionaries. They may have the quote about being in the world, not of it, tossed at them. Is homeschooling an appropriate choice for LDS families?

First off, you should be aware that I homeschooled all three of my children and wrote a book for new homeschoolers. So I'm not an objective observer in this topic. On the other hand, I embarked on our homeschooling adventure with great trepidation, due to emergency circumstances, and not because it was my life dream. It was later that I became "converted."

Joseph Smith himself was largely homeschooled. Due to a lack of schools, his parents taught him the basics of education in their home. Certainly, Heavenly Father knew that He was selecting a homeschooler to restore his gospel, and I suspect it's not an accident that there weren't schools for him to go to most of his life. By being homeschooled, he avoided the peer dependency so many publicly schooled children develop. He learned how to learn without a teacher and didn't associate education with something you do five hours a day Monday through Friday until you graduate. Joseph was passionate about learning, and continued to study throughout his life. He didn't burn out on education before adulthood.

The church is officially neutral on the subject of homeschooling, which makes it clear homeschooling isn't a sin. Therefore, it's inappropriate for any church member to persecute or criticize another member for this decision. See the related links at the bottom of this article for a link to the official church statement on homeschooling. Boyd K. Packer said, "In many places it is literally not safe physically for youngsters to go to school. And in many schools‹and its becoming almost generally true‹it is spiritually unsafe to attend public schools. Look back over the history of education to the turn of the century and the beginning of the educational philosophies‹pragmatism and humanism were the early ones, and they branched out into a number of other philosophies which have led us now into a circumstance where our schools are producing the problems that we face." (

With this thought in mind, it's clear that the public schools hold great dangers to our LDS children. While few would advocate removing all LDS children from schools, Latter-day Saints have good reason to believe they stand a better chance of raising righteous LDS children in the security of their own homes. It's true children need exposure to the outside world, but they need it at developmentally appropriate times, and in a day when a father in Massachusetts was arrested after refusing to allow a book promoting homosexuality to go into his home via his kindergartner's backpack, it's clear children may easily be given false doctrine long before they're able to recognize or combat it. There are many ways to send children into the so-called real world (and school doesn't begin to count as the real world), but in ways that are controlled by parents with testimonies, rather than by a government that is working on hanging by the prophetic thread.

When you meet an LDS family that homeschools, and feel inclined to explain to them why they've made what you consider a bad choice, keep in mind that LDS families nearly always reach their decision to homeschool after fasting and prayer. You aren't entitled to inspiration concerning their family, and it is highly inappropriate to criticize them for doing what the Lord commanded them to do. Instead, serve as a strength and resource for families making hard choices as they strive to follow Heavenly Father's commands for them. While He may not inspire everyone to homeschool, He knows which families need that choice in order to fulfill His plan. Your question for yourself, then, is: How can I help?


I signed Andrew up for soccer a month or so ago. The YMCA said they´d call at the beginning of September to let me know when his practices would be.

Also, Andrew has been praying to go to gym. =D So I signed him up yesterday for the Thursday 4.15-5.15pm time slot.

YMCA called today. Andrew's soccer practice? Yeah, that would be 5pm on Thursdays.

I was like ARGH! "I know there's tons of little teams out there", I said (Who, BTW, were practicing YESTERDAY....why were we only called TODAY about his practice time?), "could he please move to a team that practices on a different day?"

The long and short of it is "No, he can't. So shove it, then cry me a river, lady." Ok, they weren't that blunt, but it's pretty much what they said.



Emily has gone to her room "where it's safe." Pity my son, because it's now time for Math and English with Momma. Hoooo Boy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sarky comment of the day

Because of economic problems, schools are cutting back on various things.

My heart bleeds for them.

Oh stop! Really, I'll try to behave.

I know! Oooh, Oooh! (imagine me in a school desk, hand raised as high as it will go, waving frenetically) I know! I know how to stop this terrible economic crisis for schools!

How about.....more support for homeschoolers!!! =)

It costs something ridiculous like $9000/year (that's not an accurate number, so don't quote it) to educate a child in public schools.

By comparison, the average homeschool family spends something like $500/year to educate their child....AND the child gets one-on-one attention...AND the child out-tests public schoolers....AND the child doesn't have to travel on those expensive death traps called school buses....AND they're in a supportive, non-bullying, non-caustic environment.

IMAGINE the money the govt. would save! My good gravy! MILLIONS! Even if they hand out not just the $500 for materials, but also give an extra $1/day for "school lunches", the govt. would still make out. You can make ALL kinds of really healthy lunches for $1...WAY better than the junk they're serving in cafeterias right now.

here's an interesting article. I haven't read the whole thing as I need to go do math with Ben, but the beginning bit was interesting. =)

Here's another one. Enjoy.

Math.....Here I come!!! =)

You know, I've just realized...I LOVE maths! Saxon Math is AWESOME! =)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bert finally got his own way

What was really important about this holiday, is that Bert finally got his own way.

=) This is the street just around the corner from my parent's house. It's right opposite the Allington Manor House.

Not only did Bert get his own way, but he also got his own bistro.

=) =)

Thursday 7th August 2008

My stomach is lurching just thinking about this day.

We were up at about 3.30am. We loaded the last of the suitcases, along with a huge plastic bag of amazing food my Mum had made for us.

We said goodbye....leaving behind, I'm sad to say...the Britax car seat my parents had bought second hand for our use...for $32. $32!!! I joke not!!!! It was an absolute STEAL. But as I was checking the airline's website to see if this car seat was allowed to be used on the plane, I found out that this car seat, because it was specifically made for England, was not legal for use in the US. AGGGHHH!

Dang it.

Anyway, so we said goodbye. And it wasn't fun. Nicola and Craig got up to say goodbye to us! WOW! That was so nice of them. I have to say, Nicola totally impressed me with her willingness to work hard, serve others, and her thoughtfulness and kindness. She was such an example to me.

Goodbyes SUCK. Especially when you know that it may be decades before you're all together again.

The drive down to the airport was fine; 3 1/2 hours or so. Not bad at all. The children slept.

The flight to the US was WONDERFUL. Not only were there screens for each seat, but they were touch-screen and all the programming was on-demand. Furthermore, there were hundreds and hundreds of programming choices. I joke not. There were over 100 films....and then there were TV programmes, games, and....something else. I forget what. HA! =D But anyway, it was awesome.

Andrew was all set. He watched Herbie, a little bit of Dora, and Herbie. =) I watched "The Others", "Sixth Sense", and half of.....something else. I forget what. Emily watched Batman begins or something like that. ANYWAY, as you can see, there was a lot to choose from and it was awesome. =) It kept the whole plane really calm and quiet. Very smart investment for the airline, imho.

We went through customs.

There was a mini Statue of Liberty, so of course we took pictures of Ben and Drew next to it - Emily refused the honour. =D This photo shoot led to one of the most fun things I've said.

There was "Ben! Stop eating the furniture!" when he was about five and gnawing on the couch.

There was "Ben! Stop spitting in the pool!" when he was about six or seven.

Now, there was "Ben! You may not eat the Statue of Liberty!" when he leaned over and started nom-ing on her arm. HA! =D =D =D

I was beat by the time we flew from Newark to Nashville. Bert, bless his sweet wonderful heart, sat by Andrew and I sat by myself and dozed. Andrew talked almost the ENTIRE 3-hour flight. How on earth did Bert do it? I don't know. But I really respect and love that man. What a great Dad he is.

The stewardess was a bit weird. She was really wonderful and kind...but she locked the bathroom. It was only when I went up with Andrew that she realized she'd better unlock that toilet or it could get really messy. BIZARRE! Have you ever heard anything like it?

However, OTOH, she was lovely, and let Andrew sit in the cockpit before the plane took off. The pilot was really wonderful with Andrew too.

I was so tired, that when we came in to land, I looked out the window. Then I realized I was asleep so I opened my eyes and looked out some more. Then I realized I was asleep and so opened my eyes and looked out again. Then I realized I was asleep.....and we landed.

It was SO wonderful to be home. Oh I miss England, but it was nice to be in our own house again.

Wednesday, 6th August 2008

Oh dingity dang dingy dingy dang it! Flippity dang!!!!!

This was packing day.

Argh grrr grrr arrrrgh. *sniff*.

So. We started packing.

And Caroline, Mo, and Calvin left. Flippity dang!!!! =( We started saying goodbye...then Caroline ran off, crying. It was hard for her. She was married, and with Mo and her whole entire family....then in the course of one day she was losing her entire family AND Mo, who had to go back to work. (Mo is bodyguard to the niece of the King of Saudi Arabia. "The Princess" travels all over...and thus Mo travels with her.) Poor Caroline! =(

She was followed by Jamie, Carl and Emma. Flippity dang!!!

Jamie (6'7"), Andrew (little), Carl (6'4")

Then Brenda left. Dang it! Why don't I have any nifty pictures of Brenda? What's wrong with me?

Soooooo, then Bert, Emily, Ben, Andrew and myself went downtown to do last minute food shopping. It was hard to say goodbye to Ryman's stationery shop. It was fun to wander around Asda (an English shop that has been taken over by Walmart and is thus looking a lot more Walmart-y than it ever did before) and look at all the yummy food. I restrained myself and didn't buy the whole shop.

Then it was back to my Mum and Dad's to pack. We had brought the HUGE suitcase to put things wasn't enough. My Mum and Dad gave us an old one of theirs...and still we had to leave some things behind. =Þ

My Mum made roast beef, yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes for our farewell meal. How can you go wrong with that? It was incredibly amazingly delicious.

Showers. Bed.

Oh man. I can't believe it's over already.

Tuesday 5th August, 2008

Ahhhh, another day dawns bright and clear, ready for the Smith family to parrrtay on down! =)

The morning was filled with something. I do not know what. I cannot remember. Probably fun and jollility.

The afternoon was filled with BOWLING! The pictures didn't come out so well, but here's the best of the bunch:

Rock on, Dude.

Bert, about to devastate the competition. Jamie, sticking his tongue out. Emma, hiding.

Unfortunately, Bert didn't devastate the competition. In fact, on the way home Bert said "Well, that was fun, but doggone it I wish we bowled better". Ha! =D =D In our lane, Craig won the first round and Mo won the second. Big cheaters. =D

Caroline did very well ONLY when she ran up to the lane and did a funky litle dance which included kicking her right leg up behind her. EVERY TIME she did this she bowled well. Whenever she didn't, her bowl was....not good. =D =D It was really funny. =D

In the evening, the day-long party continued with a meal at the Welby. Allington is an ancient village just outside Grantham. It consists of a church, a pub and a small shop, which used to be a post office but now is not because the Govt. has shut down a lot of outlying post offices. How people in those communities are meant to communicate I have no idea.

ANYWAY, the Welby is the pub. Pubs, in England, have undergone a huge transformation in the years since I was last there. When I was growing up children under 16 weren't allowed inside. It was a place for alcohol and smoking, and maybe playing darts. That's it. Now smoking is banned (Smoking is banned in all public buildings and all workplaces. In fact, a man was smoking in his work van and was hauled off to jail because his van was considered his workplace. No joke.), and it's very family-friendly. Pubs basically fill the same place that Denny's and Shoney's fill in the US.

However....I think I'll take that back, because the food at the Welby was no-where near Denny's quality. It was INCREDIBLE! Oh my good gravy goodness gracious pie.

Here are some photos...sorry they're icky and blurry....of the amazing evening:

Ben and Emily in the bar before we went into the dining room.

L-R: Craig, Carl, Calvin

L-R: Nick, Caroline, Mo


Emma and Jamie

Me n Drew

Around the table, starting at the L: Ben, Calvin, Carl, Caroline, Brenda, Dad, Mum, Jamie

Mo n Mum. Mo was being hysterical here, totally puffing out his chest like a peacock or something. =D

Andrew, getting ready to stuff his face.

It was a wonderful evening. Nicola gave a fantabulous speech, thanking Dad for a wonderful holiday (he'd paid for all the entertainment for sixteen people for the past few days...). It was awesome.

It totally bums me out that this was the last evening we were all together.

Monday 4th August 2008

For ten years my Dad had been planning his retirement. =) Yesterday was the beginning of the party: the barbeque and gifts.


Mum and Dad hired a coach so we didn't have to worry about driving. It took about an hour and a half to get there, then we ate the el yummo nosh my Mum had packed (My mother doesn't believe in anyone going hungry), and then set off.

First, we all went on the cable cars...except Ben and Emily who didn't get the message that we were sticking together for the first ride and dashed off onto a scary ride. =D =D

Andrew and myself.

Caroline and Mo. Is this not a beautiful picture?

And that's it for the pictures of Drayton Manor. HA! =D I picked the lucky straw and got to spend the day with Andrew. We went to ThomasLand, where we went on Bertie Bus and the Airplanes and the Helicopters - and we even went on Percy!!!! The next morning when Bert and Andrew were watching Thomas on TV, Andrew said "HEY! I was there!" =D So obviously going on Percy and seeing Thomas the Tank Engine was a big deal for him. We also drove some old cars and generally just had a WONDERFUL time. =)

Anyway, my Mum took the stroller so that I could have hands free to go on rides with Andrew without worrying about the bags....and I left the camera in the bags...and thus no pictures were taken. Oh well! Andrew and I had a wonderful time together. =)

Ben and Calvin went off by themselves and had a great time.
Nick and Craig went off by themselves
Caroline and Mo
Bert and Emily
Mum, Dad and Brenda
Carl, Jamie and Emma....

We all separated and had the most wonderful time. =) What a great day.

Sunday 3rd August, 2008

Amazingly enough, on Saturday evening I was walking by the kitchen when Craig beckoned me, so I went in and stood by the door. Craig indicated I should stand by the sink close to Calvin and Mo. So I stood there a minute and all of a sudden I realized what was going on.

Calvin: "I think I want to go."
Mo: "I think you should go. It would be good for you. Go if you want."
Calvin: "I think I do want to go."

After a minute or two of this I realized "OH! He wants to come to church with us!!" and my heart did a happy dance because:

a) I really really like Calvin, and any chance I get to spend time around him is one I want to take

b) Dude! A 15-year old that spontaneously decides to come to church really early in the morning with a weirdo family he's only just met. Wow! That's some amazing kid!

I grilled the children a little, wanting to know if they'd been talking a lot about the church. I know we're meant to spread the gospel, but I'm really wary about being preachy with my family. They've made it very clear they're not interested...and I love them and don't want to make them uncomfortable around it was important for me to talk to the children about backing off if they'd been trying to convince Calvin to come to church with us.

It turns out both Emily and Ben were happily surprised that Calvin wanted to come and hadn't said a word to him about coming with us. Calvin had totally decided on his own. How cool is that?

So anyway, we were up really early as church was first thing in the morning and it was about an hour away....and there were six people to get into the shower. Actually, now that I think about it, there were only four as Andrew and I had a shower the night before.

ANYWAY, so hideously early we were up. I'd told Calvin the night before that he was more than welcome to come with us, but that there was no pressure and if he changed his mind when I woke him at 6.30am or whatever hideous time it was I got him up, then that would be no problem at all. However, when I shook him awake, up he got.

'Mazin', I tell you! Think back to your teenage years. Would you have been willing to get up so early to go to church when you didn't have a testimony? I mean, when I was 18 I remember getting up at 5am or something to read my scriptures before I went to work - but I was a member and had a testimony then. It was an entirely different circumstance when I was a moody self-centered 15 year old.

So anyway, we were eventually underway and I was SO nervous and excited. Heavenly Father had arranged it that I was attending the ward that I was baptized in, 21 years almost to the day that I was baptized, and it was a fast Sunday. Furthermore, it just so happened that that weekend the man who baptized me happened to be just 50 miles down the road, and so could come and attend the ward also. Can you believe that? I hadn't seen this man since my wedding day (he'd attended both my endowments and Temple marriage - how cool is that?)

Oh dear me, looking at that picture chokes me up a little. How grateful I am to him for deciding to serve the Lord for two years of his life. Because he decided to do that, because he had the Spirit with him, because he was humble and let himself be guided by the Lord, he was led to the house where I was....the house that I was in for all of an hour that day, the house I'd never been to before, and never went to again....he came to that house at exactly the time I'd be there...and he taught me the Gospel. Because he did this my life changed dramatically. No longer was I the punk/hippie, heading down a very scary path...because I joined the church I went on a mini-mission. Because I went on a mini-mission I met my husband. Because I met a worth priesthood holder we were married in the Temple. Because we were married we have three absolutely beautiful children. Oh my, yes, I'm so grateful to Elder Robert Biggs.

I was also nervous about attending this ward because they had behaved a me in the past, and I was frightened they would continue behaving oddly and I didn't want Calvin's first impression of a Mormon church to be an odd one! Yes, I know Mormons are weird - I just didn't want them to be really really weird! =D

I needn't have worried. Everyone was so very welcoming. =) I didn't recognize anyone at first. The first person I did recognize was Valerie Bowler. I was going into the bathroom and she was coming out...and we both went "OH!!!!" She was my first visiting teacher, and was so diligent in that calling. She was so kind and helpful to this newly-baptized Mormon. She and her sister, Joyce, exude such an atmosphere of love and gentle kindness. =) And, furthermore, they hadn't changed a bit. =)

L-R: Pat Melanafy...why is he hiding behind his wife? His wife...and I've been sitting here for a few minutes racking my brain...what the heck is her name? AGH! Next is me, then Valerie Bowler, then Rob Biggs, the chap who baptized me. =)

The Melanafy's had a daughter, Sîan, who was a bridesmaid at my wedding when she was Andrew's age. She's now married living in America. What the heck?

And I'm sure I've spelled Melanafy wrong. Melanaphy? Argh, I can't remember.

ANYWAY, after chatting with Valerie it was time to sit down...and more and more people came up to say hello, and I recognized more and more people. In fact, as the three-hour block wore on, I recognized more and more people. Like, for example, realizing that the woman sitting next to me in Relief Society was the woman who sold me some yummy perfume just after I joined the church. =) Things like that.


And everyone was SO nice. I got a hint as to why people acted weird with me before. I was talking to Alison....erg, forget her last name...and was telling her that her sister used to give me rides to church every Sunday morning.

"Please tell them I'm ever so sorry that I was a moody teenager" I said.
"Oh don't worry about it." She replied, "In fact, the ward was really jealous of you for a long time after you first joined, because you joined and it seemed like all of a sudden you met a good-looking American and were married and left so fast...and we were all stuck here in Loughborough. So I'm really sorry about that."

And I thought "Ah HA!!! That would explain it!" I'd been gone so long that it had given time for everyone to simmer down and forget about it, thus everyone was really nice and welcoming. Hooray! =)

Anyway, Emily went off to Young Women's, and I found out where Ben and Calvin (and another boy who was visiting) needed to go...and then I got to chat with Rob Biggs! Hooray! It only lasted two seconds then we headed in (late) to Sunday School - Pat Melanafy was teaching. It was a WONDERFUL lesson. I'd forgotten the way he looks so serious, and then all of a sudden this smile would spread across his face and totally lighten his features. It made you want to laugh with joy to see it. =) He's a lovely, gentle man.

Then there was relief society. And who was conducting? One of the young Corbin know....the young ones that were still in primary when I left Loughborough ward. And here she is, married, conducting Relief Society. Blew my mind.

So many people came up to me after the three-meeting block. So many I'd forgotten about and it filled my heart with joy to see them all. Oh. Oh it's hard to remember them. It doesn't hurt when you've forgotten - but you miss them so much when you remember...

L-R: Suzie Biggs, Emily, Bert, Me, Rob, Andrew, Wendy (Rob's wife - I met her for the first time! =)), Calvin, Ben.

Rob n me.

Andrew loved running around the green outside the chapel.

It was hard to leave, but luckily it started to rain so that necessitated a quick end to the goodbyes....if it hadn't rained I'd probably still be there... =D =D

When we arrived home, Mum, Dad, Brenda, Nicola, Caroline, Mo, and Craig had created an INCREDIBLE buffet and barbeque. I wish I'd taken a picture of it. It was gorgeous. =)

We stuffed our faces with delicious nosh. Mmmmmm. =) Then commenced the present-opening time. =) We were celebrating Dad's retirement as well as his 65th birthday....AND we were celebrating Emily's 18th birthday...and at the same time Ben's 13th. =)

I'm sorry the pictures aren't so very good; they're blurry. Sorry about that! We gave Dad a guitar. =) Emily received a variety of wonderful things including two lovely rings from Nicola and a box of amazingly wonderful lotions and creams and soaps from Caroline...and, incredibly importantly, a big key....this is an important English tradition for 18th birthdays. It celebrates the child becoming an adult and being presented with the keys of the house. =)

Ben opening his card, Jamie and Brenda.

Dad with his gifts; a guitar, a music stand, a "guitar for dummies" book, etc.

Opening the guitar.

Emily and Nicola.

Calvin, Emily, and the box of lotion-y treasures.

Sunday Scripture

4th Nephi 1:15-18

15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.

For Fleur
Before Christ came to the Americas there were a people that could basically be sorted into two groups: Lamanites and Nephites. They fought a lot. All the time.

Then Christ came and said "Oi! Quit that!"

So they did. And they lived in peace with one another. The scripture translates to something like this:

15 They quit fighting each other because they loved God so much and because of that they loved each other.
16 They quit wanting each other's property. They quit fighting. They quit having major battles. They quit sleeping around. They quit lying, murdering, and being skanks. Because of this they were really really happy - maybe the most happy people that had ever lived on Earth.
17 No-one robbed anyone or murdered anyone. They quit being separate people, ie "Lamanites" and "Nephites" and became one people...the children of Christ.
18 Because of this they were blessed and became wealthy temporally, spiritually and emotionally. This went on for several generations after Christ had visited America.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A break from holiday blogging....

I'm taking a break from the regularly scheduled English Holiday Blogging to bring you this message:

Top 100 facts about Keeley Brooks.

Bad language edited out by Keeley Brooks.
Inappropriate ones deleted.
Click here to get your own fantabulous list.
I found it on Candace's Blog. Check it out. She also has a marvelous video on those evil Mormons and their evil Mormon Conspiracy.

1. Keeley Brooks can delete the Recycling Bin.
2. Keeley Brooks can slam revolving doors.
4. Whenever Keeley Brooks plays Chutes and Ladders, she treats the chutes as ladders, because she's not some sissy who can't climb up a plastic slide.
5. If it looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, and feels like chicken but Keeley Brooks says its beef, then it's beef.
6. Superman owns a pair of Keeley Brooks pajamas.
7. Keeley Brooks sleeps once every 2 weeks, for half an hour, standing up, with her eyes open, and she looks really annoyed.
8. Keeley Brooks beat a wall at tennis. Yes. A WALL.
9. Keeley Brooks is allergic to doorknobs. Thats why she can only kick through doors.
10. Keeley Brooks doesn't have a computer. Just a basement full of Asian kids that memorize numbers.
11. Keeley Brooks doesn't have to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Tall buildings duck under Keeley Brooks.
12. The word "gay" derives from an old Latin phrase that roughly translates as "He who has not yet been introduced to Keeley Brooks."
13. Keeley Brooks does not hunt because the word hunting implies the possibility of failure. Keeley Brooks goes killing.
15. In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Keeley Brooks could use to kill you, including the room itself.
16. Keeley Brooks can speak braille.
17. Giraffes were created when Keeley Brooks uppercutted a horse.
18. Keeley Brooks sleeps with a night light. Not because Keeley Brooks is afraid of the dark, but the dark is afraid of Keeley Brooks
19. Keeley Brooks does not believe that there are 50 states, only 2, because where ever she goes becomes a State of Emergency and whenever she leaves, she leaves a State of Destruction
20. When Keeley Brooks deletes files from her computer, she doesn't send them to the Recycle Bin. She sends them to hell.
21. Keeley Brooks always asks for the same Christmas gift: A box of Smurfs and a sledgehammer.
22. The movie Ray is loosely based on the life of Keeley Brooks, only they substituted piano playing for eating glass, and blindness for the ability to fly.
23. Keeley Brooks does not sleep. She waits.
24. Keeley Brooks once stated that she "doesn't wail on sissy boys." This led to the pink polo shirts with popped collars craze. Little do those pitiful fools know that Keeley Brooks was just making it easier to find sissy boys to wail on.
25. Keeley Brooks is the only one who can "try this at home."
26. When Keeley Brooks gives you the finger, she's telling you how many seconds you have left to live.
27. Keeley Brooks can kill two stones with one bird.
28. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Keeley Brooks.
29. If you play Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" backwards, you will hear Keeley Brooks laughing at you.
30. Keeley Brooks is the reason why Waldo is hiding.
31. Keeley Brooks's calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd; no one fools Keeley Brooks.
33. Keeley Brooks once visited the Virgin Islands. They are now The Islands.
34. Keeley Brooks had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow, and anywhere Keeley Brooks went the lamb was sure to go. So she killed it.
35. Keeley Brooks's blood type is WD-40.
36. Keeley Brooks counted to infinity - twice.
37. You are what you eat. That is why Keeley Brooks's diet consists entirely of bricks and steel.
38. Santa Claus actually *did* exist until he accidentally skipped Keeley Brooks's house one Christmas.
39. Keeley Brooks became a vegetarian not because she loves animals, but because she hates plants.
40. Keeley Brooks died ten years ago, but the Grim Reaper can't get up the courage to tell her.
41. When Keeley Brooks plays any video game, God mode automatically turns on.
42. Keeley Brooks is able to rip a phone book in half with just one hand.
43. Keeley Brooks invented the hammer when she was tired of using her forehead to slam nails into wood.
45. Keeley Brooks can predict the shuffle on her iPod.
46. When Keeley Brooks gets pulled over she lets the cop off with a warning.
47. Keeley Brooks knows the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow (African *AND* European).
48. Keeley Brooks and Superman once fought each other on a bet. The loser had to start wearing their underwear on the outside of their pants.
49. Getting murdered by Keeley Brooks counts as a natural cause of death.
50. Onions do not make Keeley Brooks cry. Keeley Brooks makes onions scream.
51. Keeley Brooks can watch a season of "24" in just three hours.
52. Circles exist because Keeley Brooks beat the heck out of some squares.
53. Keeley Brooks can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.
54. Weeping Willows are a result of Keeley Brooks yelling at trees for not being tough enough.
55. Keeley Brooks was originally cast as the main character in 24, but was replaced by the producers when she managed to kill every terrorist and save the day in 12 minutes and 37 seconds.
56. Only once has Keeley Brooks ever cried. The only survivors were a bunch of animals and some dude named Noah.
57. Keeley Brooks was born with the right to party. Unlike the rest of us, who have to fight for it.
58. Keeley Brooks is the only person in the world who can actually give 110%.
59. Keeley Brooks used to beat the heck out of her shadow because it was following to close. It now stands a safe 30 feet behind her.
60. The last man who made eye contact with Keeley Brooks was Ray Charles.
61. Keeley Brooks once got caught doing 100 in a 50 zone. The cop did give her a speeding ticket, however Keeley Brooks still pleads her innocence to this day, stating that she was simply out for a morning jog.
62. If you haven't seen Alien vs. Predator yet, don't bother, Keeley Brooks wins.
63. Keeley Brooks puts the "laughter" in "manslaughter".
64. Keeley Brooks destroyed the periodic table, saying Keeley Brooks only recognizes the element of surprise.
65. Keeley Brooks can do a wheelie on a unicycle.
66. Leading hand sanitizers claim they can kill 99.9 percent of germs. Keeley Brooks can kill 100 percent of whatever the heck she wants.
67. Keeley Brooks can make a paraplegic run for her life.
68. The popular videogame "Doom" is based loosely around the time Satan borrowed two bucks from Keeley Brooks and forgot to pay her back.
69. The eternal conundrum "what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object" was finally solved when Keeley Brooks punched herself in the face.
71. Keeley Brooks was fired from the Psychic Friends Network for always predicting pain.
72. Keeley Brooks once won a game of Connect Four in 3 moves.
73. When Keeley Brooks goes to donate blood, she declines the syringe, and instead requests a hand gun and a bucket.
74. Once a cobra bit Keeley Brooks's leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
75. What scientists thought was natural selection is actually only the continued survival of animals Keeley Brooks has found too chewy to eat.
76. The United States Federal Reserve Bank decided that Keeley Brooks's basement was a much safer place for their gold than Fort Knox.
77. Keeley Brooks doesn't read books. She stares them down until she gets the information she wants.
78. Keeley Brooks was once on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and was the first to spin. The next 29 minutes of the show consisted of everyone standing around awkwardly, waiting for the wheel to stop.
79. Keeley Brooks's family wraps her holiday presents in lead, so she can't see what's in them.
80. Keeley Brooks owns the greatest Poker Face of all-time. It helped her win the 1983 World Series of Poker despite her holding just a Joker, a Get out of Jail Free Monopoly card, a 2 of clubs, 7 of spades and a green #4 card from the game Uno.
81. Keeley Brooks irons her shirts while she's wearing them.
82. Keeley Brooks is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for her left and right legs.
83. There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Keeley Brooks allows to live.
84. The grass is always greener on the other side, unless Keeley Brooks has been there. In that case the grass is most likely soaked in blood and tears.
85. On a high school math test, Keeley Brooks put down "Violence" as every one of the answers. She got an A+ on the test because Keeley Brooks solves all her problems with Violence.
86. Crop circles are Keeley Brooks's way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie the hell down.
87. There are only four horsemen of the apocalypse, because Keeley Brooks is going to walk.
88. Keeley Brooks invented black. In fact, she invented the entire spectrum of visible light. Except pink. Tom Cruise invented pink.
89. Keeley Brooks played Russian Roulete with a fully loaded gun and won.
90. Keeley Brooks does not know where you live, but she knows where you will die.
91. If Keeley Brooks wants some shade, she stares the sun down until it eclipses.
92. If at first you don't succeed, you must not be Keeley Brooks.
93. A Handicap parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Keeley Brooks and that you will be handicapped if you park there.
94. The only time Keeley Brooks was wrong was when she thought she had made a mistake.
95. When Keeley Brooks enters a room, she doesn't turn the lights on, she turns the dark off.
96. Keeley Brooks has beat the c*** out of so many people over her brilliant life that most medical journals now classify her as a laxative.
97. World champion eater Takeru Kobayashi once ate 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Allotted the same time, Keeley Brooks ate Kobayashi.
98. Keeley Brooks can tie her shoes with her feet.
99. Keeley Brooks doesn't play "hide-and-seek." She plays "hide-and-pray-I-don't-find-you."
100. Keeley Brooks's dog is trained to pick up her own poop because Keeley Brooks will not take c*** from anyone.

My children had better pay attention to that last one. Even if it is very rude.

Speaking of rude, I recently discovered a very very rude song on my computer. How it got there I don't know. Actually, I do know but I'm not telling, because I wish to protect the identity of the not-so-innocent.

I was absolutely shocked when I heard it at how incredibly rude it was. I was so shocked, I had to listen to it another time because I just couldn't believe my ears. I listened to it a third time to make sure it was as bad as I thought it was the second time I listened to it. Then I played it for my husband so he could be shocked as well. He looked at me with wide eyes when he heard it. This, for Bert, is an excessively shocked reaction.

This song is so rude, it must not be listened to by ANYONE. But if you do decide to listen to it, you must be in a sound-proofed room with your spouse. It's by Nickelback. Hopefully you don't know the song of which I speak. If you do, go wash your mind out with soap.

In other news, my first-born son turned 13. He's officially a teenager!!! =) And he's nothing like that teenager in the video. =) Most of the time anyway. =D He's awesome! Happy Birthday, Ben! =)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Saturday 2nd August 2008

Today the whole family was arriving for the Official Smith Family Portrait session.

In the morning we decided to go downtown Grantham. Emily wanted to hunt for keyrings for her friends, and I wanted to look around stationery shops. I LOVE W H Smith and Ryman's.

My parents had given me some money for my birthday. The pen I bought with the money looks something like this, though mine's the W H Smith brand, and has a fancier nib. It's awesome. I have a definite thing for fountain pens.

Of course, because we were walking around the market in downtown Grantham, it rained.

This is England.

Notice the really amazingly beautiful sad face, the wet hair, the wet clothes. Notice the historical artifact in the background. Notice the perennial road works in the background. Notice the traffic jam about to happen? It takes a ridiculous amount of time to get through downtown Grantham.

Soooooo then after shopping we decided we hadn't had enough time and would have to come down again on Wednesday. =D

Back to my parents' house, and we got all dolled up for the pics. Nicola, Craig, Jamie, Carl, Emma (Jamie's girlfriend), Caroline, Mo, Calvin and Brenda arrived. Am I forgetting anyone? I hope not.

Then the photographer arrived.

And the pictures commenced.

This is the only picture I'm posting because none of the others turned out, dang it. The lights the photographer had up messed with the exposure.

The pictures went on...and on....and on....and on. Oh my. So many family members, so many pictures to be taken. The children coped admirably with it, Andrew included. However, now whenever anyone wants to take Andrew's picture he runs away screaming. You think I'm kidding? I'm not.

Finally the pictures were over. Phew! Nick, Craig, Caroline, Mo, Bert and myself all went out to Grantham to have SUSHI! Hooray!!!! =)

This is the only picture I have of the sushi meal. Dang it. I hope my sisters have a better one.

We had a really wonderful time together. =) I have to say, my sisters are great....and we really picked fantabulous husbands. =)

Mine's the best, of course. =D =D

Friday 1st August 2008

I couldn't believe we'd now been in England for a week, and I couldn't believe in six days we'd be heading back to the US. How could time be going so fast.

Bert and I got ready and said goodbye to the children. They were perfectly content to see us go. HA! =D Granddad had recorded the children's programmes for Andrew, and he was stuck into it. My parents don't have cable and children's programmed run only from 7-9am on the BBC. Or maybe it was ITV, I forget.

Anyway, so the children were quite happy to see us go and thus we quite happily set off. =) We were more worried about my Mum and Dad than we were about the children. =D

After a drive of just over three hours we arrived at my Aunt Chris and Uncle Gordon's house. Now, I have to say, Chris is about the sweetest lady I've ever met. She is so thoughtful and kind. I've known her my whole life, but I didn't really know her until Caroline's wedding - when I talked to her there it was like meeting her for the first time. How in the heck did I miss how fantastic she was in the previous 38 years of my life?

Chris had prepared a wonderful lunch of scotch eggs, sandwiches, cake, dandelion and burdock and other delish things. =)

After stuffing our faces with way too much food we followed her on to where Nana was staying.

Chris hadn't told Nana we were coming. Nana knew we were in England, but also knew it was a long drive to where she was, so wasn't expecting us.

As soon as we walked in the door she said "KEELEY!" =) =) =) It was awesome! =) She introduced us to her roommates. One of them, Emmy, said to Bert, "Are you married?" Hahaha! =D =D The lady who slept next to Nana told Emmy to behave. =D

We stayed an hour with Nana. She was very changed from when I last saw her. She had lost weight and was much more feeble. She had lost at least one tooth. It was wonderful to chat with her.

After an hour it was time to go. I knew this was the last time I would see her. I took her hand and looked into her eyes, trying to remember what she looked like. "My Nana, I love you."

I've never seen my Nana cry before. Blah. I bawled my eyes out. =( It was hard to leave.

The drive home went well and only took just over three hours. If the roads are bad it can take WAY more than that - I think it took Emma and Jamie five or six hours on Saturday.

On the way home we saw this:

I love Double Decker buses. =)

What's even funnier is the Sunday after we got back from England we routinely driving home from church when all of a sudden, heading towards us from Downtown Franklin, was an English Double Decker Bus that looked just like that. What the heck???? =D =D How did that get here? =D =D

Thursday 31st July 2008

Of course, because this is the day that we chose to go downtown Grantham with my parents, it rained. It rained a lot.

We faffed all morning. It was nice to take it easy. =) Then we all got suited up and went downtown.

We shopped a bit, then we all went to see Wall-e.


For the third time.

And it was just as awesome as it was the other two times. =) My Mum loved it, of course, because she is a woman of exquisite taste. =)

After a discussion with my parents, Bert and I decided to drive up North to see Nana tomorrow. My Nana is pretty ill, and I knew that this would be the last time I would see her. We decided not to take the children as it was at least a three hour drive there and three hours back, and we were only allowed to visit Nana for an hour. It would just be too much for them to handle. Andrew especially would go stir crazy. Emily wanted to come but she was fighting a cold and the hospital wouldn't let her in to see Nana, so she stayed with my parents too.

I'm so grateful for my Mum and Dad taking care of the children! Because of them we were able to make the trip to see Nana.

Wednesday, 30th July 2008

We faffed about all morning, taking it easy, then decided to go to Lincoln in the afternoon.

We set off after lunch. Our first stop was to buy a disposable camera as we'd neglected to bring along the equipment we needed to recharge my digital camera. Shall we all scream now? Or perhaps just go DOH!? =Þ

From now on, the photos aren't such fantabulous quality, being from either a disposable camera, or from an old 1mb digital camera my father so generously gave us.

Lincoln Castle. We went all the way to the top of that turret.

Is this not the most brilliant picture? It's Emily and Ben at the top of the tower you can see in the above picture. That's Lincoln you can see over their shoulder. Awesome! =)

Lincoln Cathedral from the same tower.

A view of Lincoln and the old castle wall

This is me standing in the bailey with the courthouse behind me. This is still a working courthouse. While we were touring the castle at least two or three prison vans came in, either dropping off or picking up prisoners.

We walked down Steep Hill, had an ice cream and then walked back up it. This hill is incredibly steep, though I believe various people from Scotland might disagree with me. =D It's certainly the steepest hill I've ever climbed!

Posing outside Jew's House half-way down the hill.

This is Bert CARRYING Andrew UP Steep Hill. I still don't know how he did it.

On the cannon outside the castle.

I did take several pictures of the old prison inside the castle, but they didn't come out, dang it. It was a solitary prison - ie, the prisoners spent their entire sentence in solitary confinement and weren't allowed to talk to anyone. Must have driven them mad.

The highlight of the tour was the Magna Carta. Yes. The actual Magna Carta. Yes, the real thing. You know...the one King John touched on the banks of the Runnymeade in 1215 AD. Well, one of the copies anyway. They had several copies with them at the time (there were 41 originals, of which only a few survive) and his seal was affixed to all of them. (The Magna Carta was not signed.)

So. I saw The Magna Carta. It was absolutely thrilling. Not that I'm a history nut or anything.

I bought a copy. It's awesome.

We spent a few minutes inside the Cathedral, and located the Lincoln Imp then headed off back to my parents' house.

Bert and I had a very sad discussion. The children were historical-sited out. =( They moaned and complained and said "are we done yet?" and generally drove us bananas by their desire for more fun things to do. So Bert and I very sadly decided not to go to Stratford....which means we wouldn't be able to see my old school either. Oh! Oh I was so sad. =( But there wasn't enough time to do EVERYTHING we wanted to do, and something had to give....and this was it. Bummer.

BTW, while I was at my parents' house, my Mum:
1. Cleaned the house. My mother keeps an immaculate house. One day I want to be her. I also want her house. It's a perfect size in a perfect location and is beautifully decorated, clean and tidy.

2. Did all our laundry. Not only that, she ironed it. The children didn't know what was going on when their clothes were all neatly pressed; I haven't ironed in years.

3. Cooked AMAZING meals. Oh my. Bangers and mash. Roast beef and yorkshire pudding with roast potatoes. We were SO spoiled.

4. Generally spoiled us to death. It was fantastic. Thank you, Mum. Thank you, thank you.