Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Haircuts and Hairy Apricots

First, the apricots.

My family is not overly fond of canned apricots (I don't really blame them). I've had this can of apricots taking up space in the bunker for years. The expiration date was sometime in 2004. I sent Miriam downstairs to get a can of fruit and she brought up two. A perfectly fine can of pears and this ancient of days can of apricots. Yes, I fed my grandchildren old apricots. The can wasn't bulging and they didn't smell funky so, what the heck...here ya' go. Hopefully we won't end up at Children's with 3 cases of botulism (Trevor did not partake). Kaith didn't seem to be enjoying his - I told him he didn't have to finish it - he said "these apricots taste hairy". The good news is that I now have no more hairy apricots in the bunker.
And now, on to the haircuts. I've been letting Rebekah borrow my clippers and my grandchildren so that she could learn how to cut hair. Yesterday she cut Kaith's hair (I'll touch it up in a day or two). Today she tackled Trevor. I saw exponential improvement in Rebekah's technique. She'll be ready to trim Nathan's hair in no time (a true test of love).

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Scream

Keira and I were discussing frozen treats this morning. In particular the chocolate gelato she had scored at Costco. Evidently she loves, loves, loves it. So then we got talking about guilty pleasures (ice cream flavors).

I have to admit, I love bubblegum flavored ice cream. I don't love the gum that's in it, but I do love the ice cream flavor. I can't remember the last time I had it - it's a hard flavor to get right, and I'd just as soon not have any than to have a bad batch. There was an ice cream brand in Salt Lake that made the best - I don't remember the name of the company, but next time I'm in Salt Lake City during the summer I may have to keep an eye out for the stuff.

What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry I didn`t send an email last week. I tried doing email at the city hall which would have been a lot more convenient location wise, but unfortunately those computers wouldn`t let me do email, oh well. I don`t know if I`ll be able to send an email next week or not, and the week I don`t know about either. I`ll try to send at least one in the next two weeks.

I`ve mentioned over and over again probably that I don`t really like Japanese curry. However if some people could send me a recipe for Indian Curry and Nan I would really appreciate it. I like Indian Curry, it`s pretty different from Japanese curry. I made a smoothie yesterday for the first time on my mission (Good blenders with lids are in short supply among missionary apartments here) it was delicious and made me want to make more but I used up the frozen strawberries we had. Is there any good recipe that consists of ice, milk, sugar, and vanilla or cocoa. Or really simple stuff like that?

I`ll tell you a few jokes now. These won`t make much sense because they`re only sort`ve funny in Japanese.
Why doesn`t the dentist like Hawaii?... Ha wa ii (Good teeth)
What do you get when you blend a carrot, onion, and celery?... Mitsuya cider (Mitsuya cider is the name of a pop here, but this joke uses the name Mistuya to mean three vegetables)
Are you Japanese? I`m Japanese too? How many legs do I have?... Two legs...Japan in Japanese is Nihon. A Japanese person is Nihon-jin. Two legs is counted as Nihon.

Last week we found a cash card on the ground and so we took it to a nearby police station. Little did we realize that the lost-and-found paperwork would take about 40 minutes. Oh well, hopefully the owner gets the card.

We had Zone conference a week and a half ago. It was pretty good. After lunch all the companionships there, about 12, presented a 7 minute `best practice` about some principle or something in Preach My Gospel. Apparently the first time zone conference they did it at it was a little boring so they told everyone to make a visual aid or make it interesting somehow. Our zone conference was pretty good, there was singing, dancing, storytelling, hats, mirror, pepper and water, and other stuff. It was interesting but still a learning experience.

That`s it until next week or the week after, my next email could possibly be as late as Tuesday the 13th.


Elder West.

PS. Thanks for the package. :) I`ll have to figure out how many contact I have now and how often to change them

Friday, September 25, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure.

My kids used to love those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. There would be a page of action, then at the bottom of the page you would have to make a choice...and that would take you different places in the book depending on your decision.

I decided to make one for Steve today.
I'm not usually too picky about what I get or don't get for my birthday - but this year it's a milestone birthday - so since I'm expecting him to kick it up a notch, I got the ball rolling.
I'm very subtle. Very.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's a reason these kids are homeschooled....

Rebekah got this picture off my phone. It's a technological miracle. Of sorts.

I took Danny and Lincoln bowling this morning. It was the WAVA "Back to School Bowling Bash". We've gone to other WAVA activities before - but none were as well attended as this one. All 16 lanes were full ... 16 lanes x 6 = 96 kids bowling at once. 96 nerds. Danny and Lincoln were just about the coolest kids there. I'm not sure what that says...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tourist Trap

I like our little town. It's not much, but it's home. I don't love everything about it - most notably the schools - but so far, it has maintained an identity. It's not yet just another urban sprawl of strip malls and big box stores.

Yesterday Danny had an assignment for his Washington State History class to create a travel brochure about a town or city in our state. For some reason he chose Marysville. Now, while I like our town, I really can't imagine it as a tourist destination. Here are some of the highlights of what Marysville has to offer.

Beachfront: yes, Marysville did recently build a new waterfront park complete with boat ramp. What waterfront? Ebey Slough. Just a hop, skip and a jump from the sewage treatment plant.

Fishing: there is a fishing pond at Jennings Park (the crown jewel of the Marysville Parks and Recreation Department). Let's just say that anything caught in that will almost certainly taste just like mud - if you're lucky.

Charming Downtown Shopping: we do have a cute little downtown area. It's one block long. One block. For more serious shopping, most people head across the freeway to the outlet mall/WalMart on the Res.

Nightlife: I keep slapping, but the mosquitoes keep coming. Just kidding - but if you're looking for nightlife in Marysville, the pickings are thin. Besides Regal Cinemas 14 plex, you might be able to catch some live theater...if the high school happens to have something going on. That's pretty much it - unless you're a gambler, which, in that case, you'll again be heading across the freeway to the Res.

Of course, the real reason to visit Marysville is to see me. Hint. Hint.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brownie Day Song

Waffle brownie ice cream sandwiches. And yes, they are a wee bit melting. That's why they are in the freezer.

A couple of weeks before Stephanie and the kids moved in Trevor wanted brownies on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. I informed him that we only had brownies on Sunday night or Monday night. He now wakes up on Sunday morning and informs me that it is "Brownie Day". Today he composed a song:

Oh yea, it's a brownie day
come on, come on, let's go
It's Sunday come on, come on,
let's go to the brownie store.

Mind you, the lyrics change every time he sings it, but that's the gist.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I love getting packages. It always feels like Christmas...even when I know what's in them. Words don't begin to express how fun it is to track a package from where it's sent to when it gets put out on the truck for delivery. Yes, tracking does take away some of the mystery of when I'll get a package, but the trade-off is that I have much less frustration if something is going to be late.

I submitted two different online orders (to two different places) in the last couple of weeks. The first order came a couple of days before the estimated time (yea!) and the second is coming a few days later than it was originally planned. That's okay - an email came informing me that I would have to wait for 2 items that were back ordered, then a couple of days later (well, maybe 3 or 4 days) I got another email with the tracking number.

Now all I have to do is wait...and check the online tracking.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sparkling Sugar Cookies

I gave Stephanie some sugar cookie dough this morning to use with the grandkids - she brought out my box of cookie cutters and this is what they came up with (with help from Stephanie).

They didn't put together the vignette - Rebekah did. Complete with ring. Ridiculously awesome. Nathan felt the need to make the vignette truer - by biting off 2 steeples of the temple. Now it looks a lot more like the Seattle Temple. I'm not totally sure of the symbolism of the headless couple. Any ideas?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Picture Potpourri

Evidently this was the "beta" version of Nathan's ring box.

This is the actual origami box that Nathan made to put the engagement ring in....
...which he presented to Rebekah yesterday. In case you missed that - yes, Nathan and Rebekah are engaged.

Andrew's mission president posted this picture on his blog today - you are welcome to see the accompanying article here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

Well I`m on to my 5th area now and 7th companion with almost a year in Japan. I`ve been transferred to a place called Kawachinagano, once again if you want to look on a map it`s 富田林市須賀2丁目22-11-303 you might be able to look it up on google maps. This area borders my previous one and is in the same zone. It`s a different district though.

It feels strange that I`m the oldest missionary in the district. There`s 6 missionaries in this district. One is American, he entered the MTC around September of last year, he`s training a Japanese elder. Another is Japanese, he entered the mission field around May I think, he`s training an American Elder. And my current companion is Elder Kimura, he entered the mission field in June.

The reason I didn`t do email last week is we didn`t know of any free email place that was conveniently close by. Just the one I`m at now that`s 30 minutes away and over a couple hills. We might have found one for next week, but it`s closed the second Monday of the month.

I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday about Missionary work. After sacrament meeting one guy in the ward came up to me and said he thought he had seen me before. He said `Were you at the Mikunigaoka burger party?` (In Japanese of course) Apparently he saw me on Youtube. maybe you can see it if you search for this on Youtube 三国ヶ丘 バーガー 大会

My current companion doesn`t do email so I`m going to be quick with my emails this transfer probably. If I don`t email next week don`t be too surprised, but I think I will.

Elder Andrew West

And now, for your viewing pleasure.... (keep an eye out for Elder Andrew pretty early on) - and some fun facts about his new area, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Claims to Fame
The area once boasted the largest national production output of
toothpicks. This is no longer the case, with most toothpicks now being imported from overseas. The city still sticks to its former reputation as "Toothpick capital".

Kawachinagano is known for its local dialect of Japanese, Kawachi-ben, which is known for its rough, blue-collar appeal. Kawachi-ben is spoken in the Kawachi area, which includes Kawachinagano, yet extends as far north as

Friday, September 11, 2009

Defcon 2

This refers to a further increase in force readiness just below maximum readiness. The most notable time it was declared was during the Cuban Missile Crisis, although the declaration was limited to Strategic Air Command. It is not certain how many times this level of readiness has been reached. -Wikipedia

Okay, so it wasn't quite Bay of Pigs at my house today, but it was close. So far, we have survivability, but it was close thing for a few minutes. Daniel saved the day by locating Trevor in a house down the block. Trevor's immediate consequence was a bath, then straight to pajamas. Yes, it's only 7pm, but if we lived in Betty Neels world it would already be past his bedtime. Did I mention that my husband is off on a Scout campout, Nathan is at work and Stephanie and Cory at over at their house doing some final cleaning?

Where are child-size shackles when you need them?

And You Thought YOU Had it Bad

I haven't read a Grace Livingston Hill book in quite a while - but I finally got around to starting one that Keira loaned me this summer. I almost forgot how inadvertently funny she is.

The title of the book is "Beloved Stranger". It starts out with our heroine dumping her fiance on their wedding day because he was kissing another girl. Sherrill (heroine) is feeling depressed the next day when she hears one of the maids (Lutie) singing a song:

"When I have sorrow in my heart,
What can take it away?
Only Jesus in-ah my heart
Can take that sorrow away."

There are 3 more verses...but I won't write them here. I shall now quote from the book:
"But you've never had any sorrow, Lutie," said Sherrill wistfully, eyeing the girl's round rosy cheeks and happy eyes.
Oh, Miss Sherrill, you don't know," said Lutie sobering suddenly. "I've had just a lot! First my mother got awful sick for two whole years, and then when she got better my sister just older'n I died. And my little brother has hurt his hip and they don't think he'll ever walk again....."My dad got some steel filings in his eye about nine months ago, and they think he's going blind, and now they've laid him off the job so my brother Sam and I are the only ones working, except Mother now and then when she can get a washing to do. And our house is all mortgaged up and the bank closed last week where we had our money saved to pay the interest and now we'll maybe lose the house; and Mother needs an operation only she can't stop working to go to the hospital. And - "....and- then - my boy friend got mad and started going with another girl because I wouldn't run off and get married and leave the family in all that mess!"

I love how Lutie gets through everything until the part where her boy friend dumps her, before she breaks down. The only thing missing is having a beloved family pet die. I don't have to finish the book to know that Sherrill will go to Bible class with Lutie and be "born again", then she will end up marrying the stranger (remember, the title) that helped her through the whole wedding debacle - oh, and he will also be born again, if he hasn't been already.

Beloved Stranger
was written in 1933

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gender Neutral

No, these are not girly dollhouses...they are parking garages. That's where the real money is.

I had to remind Miriam that the dollhouses belong to me, not her, so if I said that Sterling could play with them...well, he could. She was not too happy about that. Oh well. Into each life a little rain must fall.

Sterling has a future either as an up and coming parking garage designer...or a valet.

Just Like Dad

Keira made a comment on Facebook about how she is becoming our Dad. I'm not sure exactly what aspect of Dad she is referring to, but I am getting to be like Dad too. It's sort of a good news/bad news thing.

The good news (and this one isn't new) is that, like Dad, I am a morning person. Here it is, 5:20am and I've got a few minutes to spare before I head off to teach seminary. I like being a morning person - I do some of my best stuff in the mornings.

The bad news...I have a feeling that as I get older, I'll be going deaf....hearing aids are in my future. Maybe not for another decade or so, but they're coming. It's not necessarily a bad thing...selective hearing is a fine art.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bad News/Good News....

The irony of the situation wasn't lost on me...less than 2 hours after the grandkids move in with us, our big flat screen tv quits working (no, they didn't break it - it just quit). Great. It's not something I'm prepared to replace at a moments notice - after all, we've only had it for a couple of years. In fact, ironically, we have had it for exactly 2 years...as of tomorrow. Bummer for Costco...we have the 2 year warranty.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quote of the Day

I was reading a magazine article yesterday about breast cancer "survivors". One of the writers (Shelly Lewis) wrote about her experience. She had had a small Stage 1 tumor removed, and then chemo and radiation. I love what she said about it:

"..."I am a cancer survivor" is a phrase my lips simply won't form. My definition of a survivor is someone who a) has had a serious brush with death, or b) has escaped it. By those standards, I don't qualify. For starters, I never felt as though I had a brush with death. It was more like death sent me a creepy postcard with "Thinking of you..." scrawled on it."

New Week, New Job

David is starting a new job this week. I told him he is being a bad example for his brothers and nephews - but did that cut any dice? Nope.

I don't remember the name of the company - but it has something to do with online video games....or something like that. I do know that "game" features somewhere in there. Great, now all his brothers will think that playing video games will help them carve out a career for themselves.

Oh well, here's to my favorite code monkey. Cheers and good luck!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Four Horsemen

The Revelation of St. John the Divine talks about 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. Death, War, Famine and Victory/Battle. They shall precede the 2nd coming.

We have our own "second coming" the McRae family is moving in with us again. Briefly. Stephanie is bringing her own "4 horsemen" aka the grandkids. I have decided to rename the 4 horsemen. Mine shall be termed:

Bedtime Is Always a Production: the battle to get 4 children in bed while various teenagers/young adults are partying upstairs.

Potty Training: the struggle to stay ahead of puddles...and encourage a 3 year old little girl to use the facilities.

Spilled Milk, Etc.: the reason why everything in the house will be sticky.

Drama: "let's act out the story of_________". Favorite activity of #1 grandson.
Let the games begin.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I used to be a compulsive furniture mover. Steve would come home to a newly rearranged room somewhere in the house at least once a month. If not more often. It's a great way to deep clean a room - once everything is out, you can vacuum in places that were inaccessible before. Bookshelves and books get dusted (I don't really miss the gypsy bookcases...my built in ones are way better - but I don't dust the books as much).

This week looks like I'll be back to my old tricks again. I need to clean out Danny's room to make room for Stephanie & kids. We're still not positive that their house is sold - but it's looking pretty good this time. Whether it does or not, this week is the only time I'll have to get stuff moved and re-situated. Once Tuesday comes, we're off and running with fall stuff...

Tuesday: Danny starts school. Alex gets his wisdom teeth out.
Wednesday: Danny and I start seminary. I have 3 other kids besides Danny to take home - I'm the carpool driver for taking the kids home who are home schooled.
Thursday: Orthodontist
Saturday: Seminary symposium down in Seattle...Cory leaves for training.

As you can see, that doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for rearranging my house. With all the seminary planning and school stuff going on, besides various appointments the kids have, I won't have time to spit.