Sunday, May 31, 2009

In the Leafy Treetops.

I love the view out our living room window. We sometimes feel like we're in a tree house. One with running water, flush toilets and electricity.


We went to see UP last night. Two thumbs UP. Way UP. Truly enjoyed it. It was a little edgier than most Pixar. It is rated PG. Realisticish blood. Someone dies (off-screen). I still recommend it. I would skip the 3D (yes, we saw it that way) - it isn't necessary to enjoy the film, I personally find 3D glasses distracting at best.

This is one animated movie that will appeal to older audiences just as much as it will to kids. I loved the scene where two old guys are fighting (sword against cane) and they both throw out their backs. Priceless.

Go see it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Something Fishy

The boys are back...

...and they brought fish.

Steve said "these can go in the freezer."

I said, "those aren't going in my freezer...guess what's for dinner?"

I hate having a fishy smell in the freezer - everything in the freezer ends up tasting like fish. Yuk. Better just to serve them up fresh. Maybe with a side of baby spinach.

Danny must be "The Fish Whisperer". It took him about 30 seconds to hook his first one - and about the same for the second. I'm not sure what he was using for bait - but the fish sure must have liked it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Father and Sons Campout

This one night a year is the payoff for giving birth to boys. Since I have 5 boys, that has sometimes been a pretty big payoff. Not as much now. The best Steve can hope for this year is to have 2 sons go with him. Nathan is working this evening so I'm pretty sure he won't go - that just leaves Alex and Danny.

This year they are having a rocket launching activity. Steve purchased 3 rocket kits - he has his put together. Danny is spending most of the morning finishing up his. We are so counting this as Science.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Movies

Tis' the season....for summer blockbusters (yes, I know it is technically still Spring). A couple of week s ago we went to see the new Star Trek movie. Loved it. Not just a little. Last night we saw Night at the Museum. It was fine. Not great, but it did have some good moments. Awesome special effects, and a hilarious Egyptian mummy guy - with a lisp. Amy Adams (Enchanted) was also in it - as aviatrix Amelia Earhart. I didn't really enjoy her character (using the word "moxie" more than once in a movie should be against every law of man and nature).

I'm looking forward to a couple more movies that are coming "up" - yes, UP is one of them. There is also the new Harry Potter movie coming out in July (I think).

What movies are you looking forward to?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

As always I hope everyone is doing alright still. I hope Kaith gets better soon and that the house doesn`t burn down.

This past week in the Kansai area there hasn`t been school because of the swine flu. The idea is that by not having school it won`t spread to new areas I think. Still the weather last week was great and kids all the way up to college students took advantage of it by going to the parks and having barbecues and stuff. Normal spring vacation type stuff.

We`ve visited the Kinoshita family a few more times over the past week. They`re doing good and came to church again. But there`s the question of whether they need baptism or not. That`s not a decision one makes lightly, the Bishop talked with them and asked us to talk with the Mission President. We`ll see how that goes. There`s actually another person in this area who wants baptism but can`t receive it. He`s from the Middle East I guess and doesn`t have a permanent Japanese Citizenship/residence so he could be forced to go back to the Middle East at some point in time. I guess it`s too dangerous for him (If he ended up going back to the Middle East) so we`re not allowed to baptize him until he gets a citizenship or something.

Oh yeah, I found out that two people I was teaching last transfer got baptized, back in Hirakata (my last area). I`m really happy to know that they both received baptism. I`m a little disappointed that my previous companion forgot to tell me so that I could go, but nothing I can do about that. I`ll have to get him to send me pictures though.

Good luck installing the new stove, is it gas or electric? I assume electric because there isn`t a gas pipe for you to use there from what I remember.

I don`t know if you ever go on google maps or anything to look at where I am but if you do here`s where I am right now.大阪府堺市西区津久野町 3-4-27Osaka-fu Sakai-shi Nishi-ku Tsukuno-machi 3-4-27

We live about 5 minutes away from the Sakai church and 15 minutes away from the Mikunigaoka building.


Elder West.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We (Heart) Robots

There was an article in our paper today about robots. I can tell you right up front that we love us some robots at our house. I took a poll to see what robot was the's what we came up with.

Two votes (Steve and Danny) for Robbie the Robot - from Forbidden Planet. Cause he's awesome.
One vote (Nathan): Marvin the paranoid android - from the original Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

One vote (Alex): Data from STNG. Cause he's like Spock, also he can bend metal bars with his bare hands, and he plays an awesome Sherlock Holmes - on the holodeck.
One vote (me): Rosie, from The Jetsons. Frankly there just aren't enough girl robots out there.

Who's your favorite robot?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Man With a Mission

I sure appreciate the fact that I can send my husband appliance shopping without me. He and Alex set out to buy a range today, and by golly - they did it. Then Steve, Alex and Danny managed to bring it upstairs to the kitchen. Then Steve and Danny (mostly Steve) changed the plug to a 4 pronger and installed the range. Now Danny is busy making Shells and Cheese for dinner. I have some bread that will be ready to go in the oven in about 20 minutes. We'll have it all broken in before you know it.

Steve and Alex are currently taking the old range down the stairs right now. Hopefully the house won't be "broken in" before they are done.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Keira had some great words of wisdom this morning. "If you want to get to know your neighbors, don't ask if you can do something for them...ask them to do something for you" (or something like that).

I was busy making bread this batch enthusiastically rising in the bread pans, another batch mixing away in the bread machine...when disaster struck.

Catastrophic appliance failure. My oven broke. It got stuck on preheat - and just kept preheating and preheating and....yeah. Danny and I went down to the garage and flipped the circuit breakers...that didn't work. As soon as we turned the power back on, the oven went right back to overheating. Tried again. And again. And again.

What to do about the bread ready to bake? I tried the one neighbor that I know pretty well - I know she wouldn't mind baking my bread. Looks like she's out of town. The neighbor on the other side was out washing his jeep without his shirt on. Keira dared me to try asking him. So I did. No dice - he and his girlfriend were just leaving the house. Blarg. Carp. (Thank you Suzanne)

I finally found a neighbor - I think she said her name is Alicia - her husband is Nick and their gigantic two year old is Ben (he easily outweighs Trevor - who turns 5 today).

I want one.

I think I will send this picture to Andrew - (it's his mission president and kids). I want him to find me that AWESOME thing the boy is wearing. Yes, it's totally beyond dorky - but the thought of not having to sweep up all that hair after a haircut is tantalizing.

Happy Birthday Trevor!

Trevor asked for a space shuttle cake. That's what he'll get.
I'm pretty proud of the fact that I was able to put together this cake with supplies from the bunker. Yeah, I sort of cheated with the tail fin - but I wasn't about to waste frosting on a piece of cardboard.

Note to self: replace the black gel frosting - the dregs I have look like something scraped out of the La Brea tar pits.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's Your (literary) Poison?

It's no secret that I love to read. Love to. There have been a few books over the years that I have come to really truly hate. Numero uno on that list is Moby Dick. I've read (or rather ploughed through) it twice. I didn't just read that book once. Oh no, I gave it another chance. Still hated it. The Sea Wolf, by Jack London - yuk. The captain is not nearly as nice as Ahab (see: Moby Dick). Martin Chuzzlewit. Least favorite book by Charles Dickens. I have to admit that I have only read it I might have to give it another go sometime. Not really looking forward to it.

What's your poison?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Know Your Limitations

I think my "creative cup" is half empty. Or rather, it is half full of creativity for seminary...and that's all I have right now.

I went to an enrichment activity last night - making cards. I just didn't have an ounce of creativity in me for them. I was totally uninspired. I sort of finished two cards in an hour and a half. Two. And they weren't that great.

I think it would be best if I forgo any attempts at creativity for the next two and a half weeks. Except for seminary.

And now we dance....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

I trust everyone is still doing alright. This past week has been fairly good for me. I don`t normally write everything I do because it would seem all the same to you.

The weather is really nice right now so we`ve been going to the park more often recently. We went on Tuesday and ate dinner at the park because the weather was so great.

On Wednesday we talked to someone on the street in the morning and ended up giving him a chirashi (a flyer) that had a map to the church on it. A couple hours later we were at the church teaching someone a lesson and he came in, we were a little surprised. Fortunately at the time we had an extra Elder with us and a member at the lesson so the Elder and I left the room and taught him a lesson.

On Friday we visited a couple (40`s) who live about 30 seconds away from the church and ordered a Book of Mormon online. We taught them Lesson 1 and invited them to church. They did come to church yesterday so that was good.

On Saturday there was a ward picnic but it rained so we had it at the church instead. Also I guess that swine flu or whatever is in the Kansai area now (That`s what the Kobe mission is pretty much). We don`t really hear much or have any easy ways of verifying information as missionaries but I heard school in the Kansai area is closed for a week. Anyways I expect to see a lot more people wearing masks soon. I`m not too worried about it.

On Sunday in the afternoon we were riding our bikes along by the church when someone pulled over in front of us and waved us down wanting to talk to us. Since it was raining we decided to go to the church together to talk.

I have really seen the Lord`s hand helping us when we put forth our best efforts. My mission is almost half way over already but I know that as we continues to work hard the work will move forward faster and faster.

Alright I guess it`s now on to Japanese time. So the area of Japan I`m in (Kansai) has a slightly different dialect from the rest of Japan. It would probably be best compared to a southern accent. Not everyone uses it that much but old people are sometimes lazy in how they speak so they can be pretty hard to understand. As missionaries we aren`t supposed to use it at all. Some of the differences are as follows:

Normal Japanese
wakaru = understand
wakaranai = don`t understand
yomeru = can read
yomenai = can`t read

benwakarahen = don`t understand
yomehen = can`t read
maido = `howdy` (Literally means every time but doesn`t translate)
Sometimes they had wa to the end of their sentences, in the rest of Japan that sounds slightly feminine I guess but anyone uses it here.
wakaranwa! = don`t understand (slightly rude)

Anyways there`s a lot more but that`s it for now.

How are your shirts holding up? They`re holding up alright, sort`ve. I actually only used 3 long sleeve shirts over the winter by washing them twice a week, I may just throw them away and use fresh ones next winter.

Tell us about your new area? It`s pretty small and fairly flat so riding anywhere within in it isn`t too big of a deal.

What is your new companion, Elder Stufflebeam, like? He`s

Are you getting along well with the other elders in your apartment? Yeah all the Elders in my apartment are great. One of them`s Japanese and the other is from Brazil. Along with Elder Stufflebeam who`s from Utah.

Have you or are you going anywhere interesting? Kyoto was interesting. Ummm... I guess I`m kind`ve used to Japan now so not that many things seem really interesting anymore. I`ll try to take more pictures and stuff.

You don`t need to print out the pictures, I can open the attachments and look at the pictures.

Thanks :)

Elder West.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Name That Tune

I hate it when I get a fragment of a song in my head and I can't quite place it. That happened to me this morning - and it's been bugging me all day. All day.

Before church I went through most of the hymnbook looking for it...with just the following to go by:

"Alpha and Omega he,_______(Lord or king??)of all creation, dum ti dum ti dum ti dum ti dum ti dum ti a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ation. "

I remembered the melody for that part - so I sang it (with sound effects instead of the missing words) to: our choir director, organist, choir pianist, and two or three other people. The only clue I was able to glean was that one person (the organist) was pretty sure it was a Christmas song, and it isn't in the hymnbook.

Hmmm. Not much to go by. I ran it by Marcy - she came up with nothing...then I finally broke down and searched the internet. Bingo.

Now, if only someone on Youtube sang it well. (By well I mean so that you could understand the words). I would post the lyrics - but every version I find is different. Even the name of the song varies. "Unto Us a Son is Born", "Unto Us is Born a Son", "Unto Us a Child is Born".... wonder it was hard to find.

*Apocalypse* NOW

*the word apocalypse means "revelation" or "uncovering" in Greek.

Only 3 weeks left for seminary. 2 1/2 of those weeks will be spent on the "Revelation of St. John the Divine".

I'm a little nervous. And a little excited.

My class is definitely excited. As we work our way through the book, I've told them that we would do an illustrated version of it - and my class loves to draw. In fact, some of my students have already been calling "dibs" on certain passages. My challenge will be help them (and ME, while I'm at it) understand what the meanings behind the symbols are. Should be fun.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Scout Widow

It's a little ironic that Steve was called to be with the Scouts just before Danny turned 14. I don't mind it at all - except when it comes to camp outs. I wish the two groups would go on the same weekends - it would simplify laundry immensely.

Yes, Steve has a camp out tonight, and Danny doesn't.

Oh well. In two weeks the stars will align for Father and Sons camp out - and not only will Steve and Danny be going - but also Alex. I'd like to try and coerce Nathan into going too...but that seems a long shot.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Flexible" Is My Middle Name

I've been really good about sticking to my month long menu. I take a gander at it each evening before I go to bed so that I know what's for dinner the next day.

This morning I thawed out a roast then put it in the crockpot with some onion slices, garlic salt and some "Better the Bouillon" (beef flavor). A little later in the morning I started some rolls - because we were having au jus sandwiches for dinner. With green beans.

About an hour or so before dinner the boys inform me that they have a barbecue for combined activity, and thus will not be home for dinner. Neither will their dad. So....I have a goodly size cooked roast, and a whole pan of rolls. Nathan and I enjoyed our au jus, but there is still 2/3 of a roast left.

Hmm....looks like "planned overs" for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Balcony Scene

No, it's not Romeo and Juliet...more Wichita Lineman...

I don't know what it is about bucket trucks, but they are fun to watch. I'm not crazy about the new stuff that they added to the power poles - but I can tell that they aren't done yet - we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Art, Poetry, Technology and Hallmark.

I warned my family on Saturday that I expected Mother's Day cards.

I'm not an easy mom for kids to make breakfast in bed for - I'm usually up hours before my kids - and I see no reason to have a lie-in as a sop to my children's consciences. So, cards it is.

Here is a sampling of this year's offerings.

Best in Show goes to Alex:

Nathan gets the RFF (Robert Frost Foundation) Poetry Award for his writing effort:


You bake bread

You wake up at 4am to teach the dead

You broke your arm

Yet you still work on the family farm

You wash our clothes

You may be the only one who really knows

How hard you work

Or how you put up with all our quirks....

...But I do know that I love you.

(And I know you love me too.)

Steve wins a small award for earliest card (he gets a big award for building the garden - and having all the boys help with it). Danny for using the computer to generate a card with lovely promises of absolute obedience...

David left me a voice-mail (from my "favorite son" - so I would know it was him), then he called later on. Stephanie and family came over twice - and brought me a lovely lilac bush - that I told her she didn't need in her yard, since they are selling their house....

Last but not least, we got to talk to Andrew.

It was a nice day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Sorry email today.

We were able to talk to Elder Andrew this evening (which is Mother's Day here, and Monday morning p-day in Japan). He seems to be doing great - we had him on the phone for about 40 minutes. It's tough that we won't get to talk to him until Christmas - that's quite a spell. I'm wondering if we might get an extra phone call when Alex gets his mission call...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

And then there were two...

It'll probably be another hour or so until we have soil in the new garden area - but it will be getting a little dark by then, so I thought I'd take a picture now.
This morning Steve and I went over to help out at Stephanie and Cory's place. Steve and Cory removed the lower kitchen cabinets and moved two light fixtures. I painted the bathroom. Stephanie sanded the panelling in the back bedroom and weeded the front flower beds. Then we came home so that Steve could try and get the garden finished.

Where were Alex and Danny? They spent the morning helping one of my seminary students with his Eagle project. Then they came over to Stephanie's and Alex removed the old caulking from around the tub. After we got home they both mowed the yard and helped Steve with the garden. A good days work.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beam Me Up!

We're taking the boys to see Star Trek this afternoon. I'm a little giddy with anticipation. It's even taking my mind off having physical therapy today. And that's a good thing.

And now a little something for the trekkies out there.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The evolution of dinner

On my month-long menu I had planned to have chili last night for dinner. With cornbread.

On Monday we had the missionaries for dinner and I needed a side dish to go with hamburgers - so I grabbed 3 cans of chili, tarted them up a bit and served that with the hamburgers. They ate it all up. No leftovers. The only problem - I didn't want chili two days later.

Keira had posted a recipe for a sort of stroganoff/beef stewish thing. I had some stew meat in the bunker (freezer section) - so I thought I'd give it a whirl - instead of the chili. While I had the meat in the crockpot I started a batch of Sherri's Dutch Crunch bread (minus the "crunch") I shaped the dough into flattish rolls. I thought it would be nice to have some sandwich rolls on hand (for lunches).

One thing led to another - instead of making stroganoff like I planned, I dumped BBQ sauce on the meat. Viola. BBQ beef sandwiches. With soup.

Dinner wasn't what I had planned, but it was a success.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

Here's a shout out to those family and friends with Mexican roots. That's about all I have for today....definitely a slow news day. Except for this:

Speaking of roots. My radishes are sprouting. Too bad I don't really like radishes. They may be the only thing that comes up.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Aargh, Maybe

It's official. Cory got a job with the Navy. He'll be an instructor, not a sailor. Officer, not enlisted. I'm not sure what he's going to be teaching, but I think he'll enjoy himself. The only sad thing is that the family will be moving to Charleston, South Carolina (or thereabouts).

And now we dance (and giggle uncontrollably).

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope things are going well for all of you still. I`ve been transferred to Mikunigaoka. It`s still in the Osaka area. I`ve been near the center of the mission for all my time so far. I expect to be here until at least August but we`ll see.

As far as Mother`s Day calls go it`s pretty simple. You`ll call me on Sunday at 6 PM Pacific time (Probably 10 AM my time). The phone number is 080-****-**** which is a cell phone number, I don`t know how that affects things on your side.

This past week has been fairly good. The trip to Kyoto last Monday was nice. We visited the former Kyoto Imperial Palace. We went with a few English Class students and a few other missionaries. The weather was wonderful. The Palace itself was interesting and nice but the gardens there were wonderful. I probably won`t bother going back again though. It`s one of those one time things to me. On the way back we hopped our way across the river on some rocks, it was a nice place. I got some good pictures of the palace and gardens but we were the last group going through and the workers there were herding us like sheep through everything so not quite as many as I would`ve liked. :P.

On Tuesday transfer calls came and I spent most of the day packing and shipped off my luggage that evening. On Wednesday we went to some Osaka stake Undokai (Exercise Event) which was pretty good. Lots of people came thankfully and the weather was good... a little too good. Elder Bahr and Elder Murphy got a little sunburned.

On Thursday I headed off to Mikunigaoka. Once again I`m in a 4 missionary apartment. There`s really not that many in the mission I hear, but I couldn`t say for sure since this is my third 4-man apartment. They`re more interesting and fun for better or worse, and get messy really quickly if you`re not careful.

My new companion is Elder Stufflebeam. He lived in California till he was 14 and then his family moved to Utah. He goes home in July of this year. We`ve set some goals together that are going well so far. One of goals is to speak only Japanese except for a few special instances. We`ve also been getting up at 6 AM and jogging about a mile or so. We also managed to read from the Japanese Book of Mormon together for 30 minutes before personal study time a couple times so far.

The other Elders in my apartment are pretty good too. Elder Kunihiro (Japanese) and Elder Obata (From Brazil). Elder Obata studied some English back in Brazil but couldn`t really speak at all but his English is pretty much fluent now. He`s learned it pretty well on his mission, well enough to teach English Class. He also speaks really good Japanese as well. Anyways they`re a couple of good missionaries. Elder Kunihiro is a really good cook, I think he used to work at an Italian/Western restaurant of something.

The ward here, as always, is really good I think. The ward mission leader just got back from his mission a month or two ago so he`s been pretty helpful.

Thanks for sending the letters and emails I appreciate them. Yes my Visa card was in the package. I was wondering if you had activated it or not, it`s good to know that you have. I was able to open the picture of your new garden and it looks really nice. Way to go. :)

Things are going well here and should only continue to get better. I guess that`s it till next week.


Elder West

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fantasy Cast

I don't know too much about fantasy sports teams - I can't say it has ever really interested me much. After finishing watching the recent BBC/PBS version of "Little Dorrit" , I got to thinking about fantasy casting. Imagine the cast being made up of American actors...I know this is a stretch and I would truly hate it to actually be made - but what actors do you think represent certain characters? I came up with one:

Arthur Clennam - John Cusak (Serendipity, Better Off Dead) - he does a good job at being a quiet, nice guy. Plus he's around the right age.

I was talking to Marcy about the whole "fantasy cast" idea this morning - she suggested a more recognizable movie: Pride and Prejudice. I know, I know...Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is about as much fantasy as one gal can take...but...who would you include in your fantasy casting of Pride and Prejudice? (no fair picking anyone who is already in a version of it). I'm going to ignore the whole British accent thing - after all, this is pure fantasy.
I think Hugh Jackman could pull off Mr. Darcy (think of him in Kate and Leopold..not as Wolverine) - he cleans up well.

I could almost see Jack Black as Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins has to be fairly ridiculous...I'm not sure if Mr. Black could do the "fairly" part...but I'm sure he could nail the ridiculous.

Who would you pick? Bring it on.

The Little Red Hen

A story about making bread....which I have been doing today. And will be doing probably about 3 times a week for the rest of the month.

"Who will help me plant the wheat? asked the Little Red Hen.'Not I,' said the cow.'Not I,' said the duck.'Not I,' said the pig. 'Not I,' said the goose. 'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did.

The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain. 'Who will help me reap my wheat?' asked the little red hen. 'Not I,' said the duck.. 'Out of my classification,' said the pig. 'I'd lose my seniority,' said the cow. 'I'd lose my unemployment compensation,' said the goose. 'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen, and so she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. 'Who will help me bake the bread?' asked the little red hen. 'That would be overtime for me,' said the cow. 'I'd lose my welfare benefits,' said the duck. 'I'm a dropout and never learned how,' said the pig. 'If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination,' said the goose. 'Then I will do it by myself,' said the little red hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, 'No, I shall eat all five loaves.' 'Excess profits!' cried the cow. 'Capitalist leech!' screamed the duck. 'I demand equal rights!' yelled the goose. The pig just grunted in disdain.And they all painted 'Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

Then the farmer came. He said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy, Let's re-distribute the wealth!" 'But I earned the bread,' said the little red hen. 'Exactly,' said the farmer. 'That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle.'

And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, 'I am grateful, for now I truly understand.' But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the party and got her bread free. And all the party smiled. 'Fairness' had been established. Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; perhaps no one long as there was free bread that others were paying for."

(I would credit this if I could - but unfortunately I don't know who wrote it - I do know it wasn't me)

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's May!

Spring sort of hit with a thud today - it's quite sunny and warm. The rains are due back tomorrow, but let's make hay while the sun shines....

(It kind of makes me giggle that Steve loves the musical "Camelot". )