Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We found Nemo...
Also a butterfly, and a turtle...

And finally an alien astronaut.

After about 100 trick or treaters the grandkids stopped by. I nearly sent Trevor right back out - I didn't recognize him - I thought he had come up with the last trick or treaters. Oops. All's well that ends well, and all the children were successfully herded back into their van so that they could continue on their way to see their Grandma McRae. But not before Trevor (age 4) asked me if he could borrow my car. I told him "Sure, but not until you're 16 and have your drivers license." Do you think he'll remember?

Go Team!

11%. That was our goal for school this month. Added to the 9% for September...that makes a grand total of 20% progress. I'm proud of Daniel - he has at least 20% in every class except art - and he has 19% there. Go team Daniel!

Daniel's friend Cosette came over to work on school at our house today (due to internet/computer problems at her house). It makes me grateful to have good computers and awesome fast internet. Not to mention wireless networking - I can have both Cosette and Daniel sitting at the table using laptops and still able to print up lesson material. And while they were working on school I cooked a pumpkin, made 2 pumpkin pies AND "yummy mummies" (glorified pigs in a blanket). Totally ready for Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seminary "Doilies"

There are 7 seminary classes in my building. The teacher breakdown is 4 female, 3 male, plus one more male for building supervisor. Pretty even. Except for the building supervisor (who is a retired CES employee) the men in our building have full time jobs...outside of seminary. Not so the women. I don't think any of us have another "job". That leaves us girls more time to make extras for our classes - handouts, games, visual aids, etc, etc....One of the male teachers complained that because of his lack of prep time, his wife was helping him with the "doilies". Now anything "extra" in class is referred to (by the teachers) as "doilies".

I made these treat bags (thank to Sherri for the template!) for Halloween. I made another "doily" - but it's not so photogenic.

My other doily is a huge batch of red jello that I put skeleton pieces into ...yes, we're "Bobbing for Bones". I plan to have them use a pair of old pliers to try and fish pieces out - I'd hate to send the kids to school with red jello stained hands.

Alter Ego(s)

Mild mannered Clark Kent or is it Super Steve? Thank heavens for fusible webbing - allowing me to create the Superman logo in about 20 minutes and apply it to a 99 cent Goodwill tee shirt. The two seminary students that I have in my class that are from my own ward both thought it was awesome. At least, that's what they said this morning....
Paging Dr. Daniel, paging Dr. Daniel. We recycled his mad scientist jacket from 2 or 3 years ago and added a stethoscope. Viola.

Thank you Keira. Not everyone got my costume, but those that did found it hilarious - especially a friend of mine that teaches social studies. I may hold on to my "hanging chad"'s about as dressed up as I like to get for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prime Numbers, Federal Offense

Nathan turned 23 yesterday. Twenty-three is a prime number. I only had seven candles. Seven is a prime number...Nathan is in his "prime". That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I completely missed the drama last night. That's what happens when you go to bed by 9pm.

Nathan was kidnapped last night. Blanket thrown over his head and everything. Those crazy young single adults...anything for a party.

Since he was back home this morning, showering, eating breakfast, going to school I guess he's not much the worse for wear. Perhaps a little sleep deprived what with staying up late watching horror movies (Lilo and Stitch is about a crazy monster built for destruction, right?).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Super Saturday

I'm always on the lookout for good Thanksgiving decorations...because they are hard to find. We did more than these two projects, but somehow the preparedness binder just doesn't pack the same visual punch. Another project I did (well, I think it was actually Suzanne that made mine...)anyway, no pictures of that one because it is a potential Christmas present.

The visiting teacher gift...who doesn't like chocolate?

Happy Happy Birthday

Happy, Happy Birthday!
From all of us to you!
We wish it was our birthday,
so we could party, too!

Happy, Happy Birthday!
May all your dreams come true!
We wish it was our birthday,
so we could party, too! Hey!

Happy 23rd birthday, Nathan!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let's Review...

I drove over 500 miles this past weekend. I would have driven more if I had to...

I don't really feel like I need to do much of a recap - since about 90% of my target audience was visiting me - they know what we did. And yes, it did involve a lot of driving. Here goes anyway:

Thursday - picked up Sherri from the airport a little after 3pm, Hung out with her at IKEA while we waited for Suzanne to fly in a little after 5pm. Drove home during rush hour. That's love.

Friday - Sherri and Suzanne came to seminary with me and helped by being a timer and a bell dinger for our game: Chase for Breakfast. Suzanne (with her magic picture taking abilities) and Sherri as photographer's assistant went and took pictures of Alex (senior pics) while I peeled fresh picked apples for a pretty darn good apple pie. A little shopping, then off to the temple where we met up with Keira and Tia and went through a session together. Then home to eat our apple pie.

Saturday - at 5:30 am I went over to the church while Sherri and Suzanne went running. I rummaged around in the library until I found a slide projector - then back home where I set it up and we proceeded to sort through hundreds of slides mainly from the 1960's. 9am we went to "Super Saturday" (or "Stupid Saturday" as one sister called it) - where we met up with Stephanie and Sterling. A couple of hours of group crafting, then back home for lunch and so that Sherri could pack up. Drove Sherri to the airport, stopped by the distribution center for Tia, drove back up to Marysville - spent an hour or possibly two at Kohl's department store helping Tia spend her birthday gift certificate on new clothes. Picked up Chinese food and went home to dinner and a movie.

Sunday: Up at 5:20 am to take Suzanne to the airport...back home at 7:30 - time to get ready for church. Ward Conference from 9 to noon. Home. Lunch. A fond farewell to Keira and Tia. Nap from 2:30 to 4pm. A bit more than my usual, but hopefully that puts me back on track for seminary tomorrow.

A good time was had by all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Full House

Thursday 3pm - Sherri's flight gets in.
5pm - Suzanne's flight...
Friday Afternoon - Keira & Tia

Alex has been informed that due to the "kicking order" he is being kicked out of his room for the duration...Danny and Nathan are gaining a roomie - that should be fun.

I will be decontaminating the upstairs hall bath - the boys are banned to the downstairs...because boys are gross. Just kidding, boys. Sort of.

Looking forward to the company...a little worried about lack of sleep - but I'll cross that hurdle when I get to it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rock and Roll

I drove three 13 year olds and a 22 year old to Mt. Vernon today. It was a "Family Fun Day" for WAVA - and it sounded like fun, so we went. Didn't know it was going to be that price we might go to more of these.
Cosette and Emily - Daniel goes swimming with these two young ladies 3 mornings a week.
Nathan hadn't been skating since he was about 4 or 5 years old. He was starting to pick it up by the time we left.

The wall is your friend, the wall is your friend.

Cosette was pretty gutsy - she finally started going around without holding onto the wall. Every time she went past she would give a thumbs up...and then she would fall down.

Everybody limbo! Danny gave it a try...

Time to go - a good workout was had by all who skated. Daniel was dripping with sweat - but he wouldn't take his sweatshirt off - why? He wanted the extra protection for when he fell down. Which was often. Frequently.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It may not be rocket science....

Steve's job description at work is "engineer/scientist". That came in mighty handy this evening.

School went fairly well today until we got to our science experiment. I found the directions very confusing, so with a brilliant flash of genius I said "Wait until your father gets home".

Danny and Steve spent some quality time getting into a little hot water together - and in the meantime learning about phase states of matter. Danny and I might have got there on our own...but it would have been a longer and more painful route.

In the meantime, I experimented with changes from liquid to solid and made a chocolate cake for FHE treat. My experiment looks to be a success.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Early Email

Dear Family,
I forgot to mention it again last week but this week Monday is my P-day. Oh well. I haven`t received any mail since last week so this`ll probably be a short letter.

Last P-day I bought an electronic dictionary. An EX-word Dataplus 4 XD-SP6700. It`s pretty nice, but I`m still learning how to use it. It`s nice, but it was made for Japanese people, so there`s a lot of kanji that I can`t read yet.

Thank you for all the pictures that people have sent so far. I really appreciate it. If I could get any pictures of Uncle Brian`s house or Aunt Tia`s house it would be nice. I teach an hour long English class on Wednesday nights and pictures would be helpful for explaining things to them. They also are curious about random facts that I`m not sure on. Like the population of Washington, Seattle, and Marysville. A few people have been coming to English class for more than 15 years so they have decent English.

We went to the Adult Session of Stake Conference Saturday evening. It was all about missionary work I think. The missionaries and ward missionaries in the Stake sang `No Greater Joy` It has lyrics in English and Japanese. It`s the number one missionary song in the Kobe/Osaka area. You could probably find it on google.

On Sunday we went to Stake Conference. My companion Elder Ito had a talk so we both sat up front. I managed to not doze off in a two hour meeting I couldn`t understand. I spent that time trying to memorize D&C 4 in Japanese and English. The Sunday session of Stake Conference was also about missionary work I think. The mission president spoke at the Saturday and Sunday session. He has really good Japanese.

Now on to the food. Friday night I bought some food from a stand by a store. It was called Bebi-something. They`re like small balls of pancake. They tasted good. The vendor said they`re only made in Osaka usually. Last night for dinner I had Takoyaki***. I can`t say I loved it. I ate far more of those than I had any desire to. The Tako meat (Octopus I think) tastes a little different than anything I`ve had before, but it`s the suckers and their weird texture that I don`t like. But it was sort of fun to make them.

Right now we have someone scheduled to be baptized on November 1st. Her interview is next Sunday, as long as that goes well I think it`ll go through.

Cocoa, peanut butter, and oatmeal are all relatively expensive here. That makes me sad :(. Actually to be honest most food here is a lot more expensive than back home.

Anyways the work is hard but rewarding. You can spend all day getting rejected and then get one person who listens. It`s not the dozens and dozens of rejections you remember it`s the ones who listen you remember. I`m happy to be here and know that my mission will prepare me for the rest of my life.

Pray always and be happy.


Elder Andrew West

***Note: Steve and I had some takoyaki when we were in Japan. Definitely an acquired taste. I didn't mind the taste so much as the extreme textures - the fried dough ball was light and fluffy - but then it had a tough, chewy piece of octopus (or maybe large squid) inside.

Board Member

Once in a great while I am roped into being an extra body for Scout Board of Review. 3 people are required to review the Scout in question - and I have to say that I feel a little sorry for some of the Scouts. Depending on who is on the board, it can either be a nice friendly little chit chat, or something more akin to the Spanish Inquisition. The older the scout is, generally the better equipped he is to handle the pressure.

Today we had a couple of 11 year old Tenderfoot aspirants. They acquitted themselves fairly well, considering this was their first Board of Review. One of my fellow Board members asked them both the same question (they were in room at different times - not together). Anyway, he asked them what their goals in Scouting were. The first little Scout said he wanted to earn his Eagle. The second little Scout wasn't too sure what was being asked of him - he finally said his goal was to earn his 1st class rank. When the reviewer asked him if he had ever heard of getting his "Eagle" the little guy said "Yes, I want to get my Eagle before my brother does". His brother is a senior in high school and not likely at all to earn an Eagle, I think he may actually achieve his goal.

My contribution to the questioning? I asked them what one of the safety requirements for hiking or swimming or bicycling was. Yes, I had an agenda. I made sure they knew the buddy system. Who knows? Maybe I will have saved a life somewhere down the line. Or at least kept one Scout from wandering around lost on his bike.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lost...and found

This is me, blogging through worry.

It's not a good sign when your son's youth leader calls and tells you that they've lost your child. Even if the kid is 17 and it's a beautiful sunny day.


Alex went with a group of YM on a 50 mile bike ride. They were going to be riding around La Conner/Mt. Vernon (a good 45 minutes drive away). Nice flat roads, rural countryside - this is where the tulip festival is - so think Holland. His leader called and gave us his cell phone number in case Alex calls home. They haven't seen him for over an hour. I hope someone is driving around looking for him, because Alex isn't the type to call home. He might be if he had his cell phone...but it's here at home charging.

In my imagination Alex is walking along the side of the road, wheeling his bike because he has a flat tire. And probably totally lost. That's my guess. In the meantime, Steve and Danny just got back from their camp out - so they are cleaning out the van - I told Steve he'd better hurry up - just in case we have to go searching for Alex.

Stay tuned for further updates.

6:20 - It's starting to get dark...Steve just left to drive up to La will be dark before he gets there. Alex is wearing a navy blue jacket and jeans - not the most visible outfit to wear while walking or riding a bike in the dark. If you see him, give us a call.

6:40 - Steve just called. Alex found his way to wherever he was supposed to meet up with the other scouts. Good for him.

I find that I am not cut out for's much too emotionally draining. I do have one question. What happened to the "buddy system"? It's much more fun to be lost with a buddy, than to be on your own.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Plaque attack.

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25

We will probably change out the picture at some point, but the plaque is getting hung this weekend.


(to the tune of Billy Joel's "Piano Man")

It's 4:50 (am) on a Friday...
I've got a coffee cake in the oven.
I've taken my shower
and used the the blow dryer...
Man, what am I doing here?

Now, Keira, she writes about politics
Sue takes great pics of her kids,
Sherri, she comments
when she gets a free moment...
Man, what am I doing here?

La la la, de de da
La la, de de da

Sing us a song in seminary
Sing us a song in tune.
After opening prayer, and devotional,
you know that the lesson is soon.

Now Friday we often play games in class,
flashlight chase or Taboo*,
Today's no exception
We're ditchin' the lesson
The game involves popping balloons.

What do you expect at 4:50 in the morning? Shakespeare?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elder Andrew-Pictures

Elder Andrew's area is highlighted in yellow.

I wrongly accused my husband of purloining the pictures...but when I was gathering my seminary stuff up...there they were, underneath everything. Sorry, hon. Here are our first pictures.

The large katakana characters (Above Andrew's head)say "Iesu Kirisuto". Lucky for us, Alex is a dab hand at reading Japanese. If you couldn't tell, that's Japanese for Jesus Christ.

Goodnight Ladies.

Tomorrow's seminary lesson...
It's too bad we don't do wings on angels, because I love this picture.

Mission presidents are awesome. So are their wives.

Today we got the letter saying how happy they are to have our son serving in their mission. Accompanying the letter was not only a picture of Andrew and President and Sister McIntyre but also one with another elder - I'm assuming it's his companion.

I would be happy to post the pictures, but they mysteriously disappeared along with my husband...but I'm not complaining. Steve took the boys to YM so that I could stay home and finish up my seminary lesson for tomorrow. I don't begrudge him taking the pictures, and the letter, AND the map of the mission w/ Andrew's area highlighted in yellow...really I don't.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

California, the Rest of the Story.

I promise, these are the last pictures of our trip to California last weekend. All of these were taken on Saturday, October 11 (my birthday). As you can see the weather was awesome, if a tad bit windy. The view from David's apartment. In the foreground is City Hall and the Opera House, in the background you can just see the upper part of the Golden Gate Bridge.
We took the ferry from S.F. to Sausalito - just for fun. Here's David with his friend Xuehui Li (pronounced "shoe hoy"). She's a very nice girl from China (somewhere in the middle). She recently moved to the bay area from Florida where she earned her PhD in computer engineering.

The ferry was a great place to be to watch the Blue Angels performing aerial feats of daring and's almost as if they knew it was my birthday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A letter from Elder Nishi

Dear Family,

Hello again everyone. I`ve now been in Japan for almost 2 weeks. This past week I have taught a few more lessons that have gone alright. Eaten dinner at 3 member`s houses. Before coming to Japan I had the idea that they didn`t eat really big meals but they do. I`m not used to eating so much rice so I get full quickly and have trouble finishing everything. Everyone seems to like Mogi-cha which is a drink made from... I`m not sure actually, you people can look it up on the internet if you want. I`m not a big fan of it yet but I can drink it. It smells like cigarettes so I try not to inhale while drinking it.

Nishi (Japanese for West) is a Japanese family name as well. There`s actually a Nishi Family in our ward right now. The ward has about 60 people in sacrament meeting and a few hundred inactives. But everyone who comes is really nice I think.

McDonalds here aren`t uncommon but I haven`t seen any of the other major fast food restaurants here.

Every Wednesday night we teach English class. Divided into 3 separate groups. My group only had 4 people in it, but it was pretty fun. There are a couple Japanese members who attended the English Sessions of Conference with us. One of them has actually read the Book of Mormon in English.

Today, if I can get a hold of the mission president, I plan on buying an electronic dictionary. They have ones you can write kanji on so you can find what stuff is saying.

I did get a couple letters in the mail so far so you`re sending them to the right address. If someone took a few pictures of our house, a view of Marysville from Whiskey Ridge, and the area behind our house I would appreciate it.

Well that`s about it for now I guess. If you want longer letters, ask more questions.


Elder Andrew West.

What Price Happiness? $2.99.

Daniel and I picked up Kaith today to go with us on a field trip. Picking up only one child from Stephanie's four can be quite an undertaking. The others (except Sterling) generally cry and carry on because they are being left behind. We made a quick stop at Albertson's to get some cash and also picked up some donuts. Miriam and Trevor were quite happy to stay home and eat donuts. Stephanie was quite happy to abrogate her teaching responsibilities for a day, and I was happy to have a warm hand to hold. Good times all the way around.

Our first stop at the corn maze. The China Wall. Who knew it was in North/Central Washington?

Daniel and Kaith, you just finished the corn maze. What are you going to do next? LUNCH!


This is the reason that government committees should never be allowed to pay people to create art for a community. No, it's not really a pile of a half million dollar sculpture of a coiled snake. A really bad sculpture of a coiled snake. That someone thought was worth $500,000. If you're ever down in San Jose, you can find it prominently displayed right downtown.
A block away from the "pile of poo" we saw this large reproduction of a Leonardo da Vinci design for a horse. It was pretty darn awesome. And just about large enough to have left the "pile". I'll bet if Leonardo had sculpted a snake it wouldn't look like a pile of poo.

No, not Leonardo. Brunelleschi. A large cut-away model of the dome he designed for the Santa Maria del Fiori in Florence, Italy. I showed the picture to Danny and he actually remembered the name Brunelleschi from his history class a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, we're back to Leonardo. Did I mention that we went to an exhibit at the Tech Museum in San Jose that was mostly about Leonardo? A few other Renaissance designers/engineers/architects were also included - yeah, Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi had a whole room devoted to him. Leonardo was the star of the exhibit. If the exhibit comes to your town I would recommend it. I wouldn't recommend that you take any young children or children who don't like to read - there was a lot of reading involved in the exhibit - and some nudity (this is the Renaissance we're talking about).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Man in Japan

Yes, yes, I am on vacation, but Sherri is gone, running an errand and I took the opportunity to check up on some blogs. I saw that Andrew's mission president had a new here's one of the two pictures that Andrew is in. He is the second from the right. Right on!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pre-Flight Checklist

Fridge stocked for the kids?
Frozen pizza? Check.
Milk? Check.
Cereal? Check.
Bread? Check.
Next weeks seminary study/lessons printed? Check.
Flight times confirmed? Check.
Boarding passes printed? Check.
Bags packed? Umm...mostly.

I know I'm forgetting something. Oh well, ready or not we're leaving at 10am. Sherri will be there to pick us up in San Jose around 2:30 or 3ish.