Welcome to my little ol' blog. I'll be upfront about it: I don't blog very often any more. If you found your way here because you read my book "Trailer Life," have a gander! But it's easier to keep up with me on Instagram or on my Facebook page. I have this long, drawn out theory on why I'm a terrible blogger, but that is a story for another day. Enjoy the ramblings of my life from the last 8 years or so.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Stupid People

The wind has shifted, and now it is raining ash on my head. Because a stupid person started a forest fire near our property (it's near a lot of folks up here, so when I say "near" I'm comparing it to like living in Bakersfield. And anything I can see with my eyes I consider "near". Like the hugest snake (ever) I "nearly" ran over last night, or the bobcat I "nearly" ran into, and the baby snake I DID run over, all my on my home last night from the most awesome birthday meal EVER- more on that later!) It's not coming our way, so we are lucky there. This fire is out in the middle of nowhere, where there are no roads, no people. There were no thunderstorms. MAYBE a rock fell down and hit another rock and a spark happened and this fire started that way. But most everyone up here says it's arson. It started Saturday night.
Other people in the STUPID PEOPLE category are the four people who have drowned in the last four days in the river. There are no less than a dozen signs within 20 miles in both English and Spanish that say things like "Stay Out, Stay Alive" and "Mantante con vivo, rio peligroso". Some are flashy digital signs. Some are just posted signs. But the signs are there. The stupid part is this: people are going into a river with the name "Killer" in it, a river where the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics held their kayaking events, a river where the rafting companies go on G-4 rapids (Okay, I probably just messed up that rating system, but out of 5, there are parts of the river rated a 4 for fierceness.) On Saturday a guy was in an inner tube floaty, it popped, and he didn't know how to swim... today driving home I had to stop and wait a few minutes to pass dozens of rescue personnel, several news cameras, and they even had the helicopter out. All I saw was dollar signs. How much money goes to retrieve the people who can't swim in the deadliest river in California... I feel badly for their families on the side of the road hoping to find the bodies. It would be a horrific event to see a loved on go under and emerge from the water. BUT IT CAN BE PREVENTED 100%.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Our house story

Here is the picture that started it all. Ryan found this in a magazine and brought it home to me.
Ryan's drawing of the front elevation of our house. He actually drew up the plans himself. We then took them to a draftsman and engineer so they would meet building code. I'm not sure of the quality of the picture on the blog; I hope you can see it all right.
Another picture from a book or magazine. This is what our fireplace and staircase are modeled after. So the funky metal poles in the middle of our house are for the floating staircase. We are going to use different rock and won't have a pass through fireplace. They look pretty but are highly inefficient and smoke lots.
The floor plan, according to Ryan's original sketch. I don't think anything has changed, and again, if the quality is not there, I apologize. (Maybe click to enlarge it?) This is of the first floor only. The second floor is the loft. We put a lot of thought into what we wanted in a house and the most efficient use of space for us. No hallways, a HUGE closet/dressing area for us that can be accessed from both the bedroom and the laundry room. (This is a real necessity when you have someone who works late at night and someone who gets up early. Essential to be able to get dressed/shower without bothering the other person.) Smaller bedrooms in exchange for a giant kitchen and dining area, and a reasonable size living room. We wanted a giant kitchen because we like to eat and cook, and we envision having lots of people over whenever we can. No office; instead we opted for two alcoves to house books and desks, as well as two desks in the kitchen area.

It's been over three years since we came across that first picture of the ranch house. And if it takes another three years before it's done, it will all be worth it. (It won't take that long! just sayin')

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What my kids looked like today

Before and After Cleaning

I got really tired of this, and the fact that a phone would fall on my head if I were sitting in the chair below this cubby. I like things to be neat and clean. I have a hard time keeping up with my family though. And myself sometimes. And living in a trailer can make it hard because there is just no room for piles of stuff. And we are a piles of stuff kind of family. This cubby is supposed to be for a TV, but when we moved into our trailer we put our giant 35" inch TV in instead. And our leather couch and chair. Comfort over floor space!
Here it is after, and I'm now happy about it. Still not "perfect", but I like the way it is and can easily live with this. Tomorrow will be another before and after of a storage area above the kitchen. That one will be a doosey, and require a ladder.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Birthday

Here's me at 31 years old. I have so few pictures of me it's ridiculous. I don't really mind, but I know when I'm older I'll want to know what I used to look like. I look best in Sepia tones. Or black and white... anyway, I thought I would document myself for our blog so that when I publish it, I'll have proof I existed. A few things about myself: I have never had many favorites. No ONE specific color, or animal, or food. I do have favorite shoes, and they are my Doc Martin sandals that I thought didn't exist anymore and my sister-in-law April somehow found some on E-bay for me for Christmas. (Whew- that was a long sentence!) Today is their six month anniversary, and I love them. I seriously almost cried when I opened the box and saw my shoes. But I digress. I enjoy reading, learning stuff, summer vegetables, and Noggin (it's like preschool on TV). I try to be healthy, but love baked goods. I try to be a good wife, mom, and friend, and hope that when I'm not, everyone will forget. I have this fabulous knack for being able to "see" both sides of the story. I often say too much of what I think, and wish I didn't. I have no self control when it comes to peanut butter and dark chocolate. Almost always my first reaction to all questions and suggestions is "no" and I don't know why. I do know I don't like surprises or sudden changes. I have no rhythm, but lots of coordination (that means no timing for music/dancing, but I'm decent at sports). I am horribly independent. I like to be around my whole entire family. I am dependable and responsible. I am easily amused. I remember dates and phone numbers really well. Something funny about me: I'm really good at school. Not necessarily smart, mind you, but a great student. And I remember and understand most things I read or learn about. But there are a few things I just don't "get" no matter how hard I try. I like to put these things into the "magic" category: Electricity. How phones work (sound travels over wires, blah blah blah, but why does my voice sound like mine and not somebody else's, or a robot's???). And let's not even think about cell phones. Computer chips/micro-chips. The Internet.
My worst subject in school was always Biology. I never had a best subject. My FAVORITES were PE and lunch. If I had to choose between taking a test or writing a paper, I choose the test. I'm an awesome test taker. A talent of mine, I think.
If I had a billion dollars I might buy an island or Wyoming or something, but most likely I'd just be all philanthropical (my own new word) and build free daycare centers, free private schools, and set up scholarship funds.
I think that's me in a nutshell. For now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

Homegrown tomatoes-thank-you Cherie. They are gone. I ate them all; two when I got home Sunday night, and I finished up these babies yesterday and today. Better than chocolate. Really.
I love people who appreciate my freshly laundered pile of clothes... not really. But I do love self-soothing babies, and Jessie is one of them. Sometimes I wish I could snuggle with a clean sock and look that cute. Alas, I'm stuck making "sock buddies" and thinking "HOW did these socks get so dirty and why aren't they coming clean?" as I put them away.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sewing Withdrawals that somehow turns into property development

Here is my sewing story: I decide to teach myself how to sew because... I don't remember why. My grandma M. sews some, and she showed me how to do some stuff; power machinery is always fun...so in 2004, I buy a sewing machine and attempt a quilt. I melt the poly batting and store it away. I attempt a simple wrap skirt out of heinously slippery fabric, and toss that unfinished project. But, I had part of a room for all this, and I attempted. A dress for Kacy that was supposed to be "quick and easy" that took me two full days. And was UGLY. U-G-L-Y. Then we decided that we didn't care for neighbors and the busyness of the town we were in and decided to move and build a house. Move into a fifth wheel trailer and campground for 14 months while we "developed" our property. I bought some heinously slippery fabric again, a flower-girl dress pattern, all for Kacy to be a pretty-princess for Halloween. Then I got pregnant with Ed, and SICK. No sewing the entire time I was pregnant. When Ed was about four months old we moved to our property (still in our trailer) and I attempt sewing again. The reason this time is because I am super picky about fashion. And modesty. And my daughter. So, the sewing began. I bought a serger. I loved my sewing adventures- I sewed on a TV tray while sitting on the edge of my bed. I cut everything out on my bed. There was much time spent packing and unpacking sewing supplies. Everything was going great. People got handmade clothes (whether they liked them or not...) and Kacy was cute at church. And I had a few skirts for myself. Then summer came, and with the heat came the realization that I can't iron at the same time the AC is on the trailer. It trips the breaker. And Ed became more mobile. And I was pregnant again (and SICK). And for SOME reason, being pregnant makes me very UNcreative. All my energy goes into taking naps. Its a syndrome, really. But here I am, looking at summer, my new baby, and my unfinished house and thinking "Man! I need to sew!" Because Kacy is as leggy as ever. And it's hard to find cotton dresses with sleeves. And because my SIL Jocelyn sews and has links on her blog to cool sewing sites. And because I have nothing else to do. (That last part is a joke...) I have a plan for my sewing, and we will see how it goes. When I make my first cute creation, or modify an existing outfit for Kacy, I will definitely post.
And if you have never developed property before, it goes like this. Clear some land (oh wait- that means renting a bulldozer. Buying a tractor. Dirty sweat.) Get well "witched" or "dowsed" and drilled. Put in pump, pipe, pressure tank, storage tank. Get water tested (oh do I have a horrid story about that day. Valentine's day. Pregnant with Ed. Deadline to get water to testing facility in town 1.5 hours away. Train wreck by refinery. Closed road. Trip to Denny's while train wreck is cleared. Get to facility at 4:59pm with one employee who had come back to get her purse. She accepts our water samples. Thankfully)... testing done and passed. Rent backhoe and dig huge trench for power lines. Get address from county (a 6 week process...) so we can GET electricity. Put up meter boxes/breakers. Get phone line in trench. Trenches were 600 feet and 350 feet long. Four feet wide and three feet deep. After we have all this done, we move out of the campground and onto our property and breathe a HUGE sigh of relief. Because now we are stepping up in life. No more campers. I can let the kids run around a bit. And we have a phone. Which means we have the Internet. Still going to the laundromat at this point (That gets taken care of later, hallelujah). We could have hired people to do all this, I suppose, but what's the fun in THAT? *** We hired a drilling rig to dig the well of course. We aren't that handy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer to-do list

Inspired by my SIL Jocelyn, here is my summer to do list. Going public will hold me more accountable. Maybe.

*potty train Ed *lose 10 pounds of fat *have fun with my kids *take the kids to see the giant redwoods (day trip) *take my kids to the Atascadero zoo and the beach (day trip-maybe...a slim possibility...) *sew more. sew at all... *keep my mail under control * get at least one pedicure, maybe two (such a luxury) *keep up with my journal *read the books on my "to-read" list on Goodreads *eat any tomatoes that might grow on my two tomato plants *eat more fresh veggies (to help with that lose 10 pounds of fat goal up there...) *finally fill out Kacy's Kindergarten registration papers (almost done!) *take my kids to the library on Fridays for the fun days/activities *keep in touch with my friends *fling-boogie my trailer (a Flylady term- totally fun) *record a tour of my trailer for all those curious as to how I live in it- messes and all *compile all the movies I've made and upload to YouTube and save to a disk

What tired looks like

When we got home Sunday night, Will was waiting for me to help him take off his shoes so he could climb into bed. Ya, he's asleep.
...and I thought the bags under my eyes were bad. Kacy and Will when we got home last night. Ryan kept calling their name, and it took a good five minutes to wake them up.

Beach Trip 2008

Here is the crew, minus the mommies. My sister Kendra and I took our kids to Cayucos Beach for two days and two nights. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon. I thought my kids were going to DIE from the excitement (I was going to kill them...) they were so excited they were obnoxious. But hey, after an almost four hour ride in the car interrupted by a horrific grocery store experience, what can you expect? We quickly went over the rules of the house (eat ONLY at the table, don't close any doors (ED!!!!), and ask before you touch anything) and then we went down to the beach. The house we stayed at was on the beach- which is fantastic for little kids. The kids from left to right: Will (3 1/2), Benjamin (7 1/2), Jessie (3 mos), Jack (6), Gracie (3), Ed and Sara-Jane (2) and on the floor is Kacy (5).
Kendra, Kacy, and Ed. In the background is the house we stayed at. I have stayed in this house many times before through my teenage years, and how I appreciate NOT being in charge. I realized when we walked through the door that all chances of relaxing were gone. It was all for the kids, and as long as I keep that perspective it makes the trip worthwhile.
My boys. Lucky to be alive, these two are. (Please tell me this is a phase. Tell me that one day my boys will hear my voice, understand my words, and pretend like they care...) Will left us a couple of times thinking he was going to change out of his wet shirt "ALL BY MYSELF" even though the house was locked up. The worst feeling is looking up and not seeing your kid anywhere. It only takes a minute. Ed was Ed- and the beach was great because there was no place that looked more inviting. There was sand and water, and that limited his choices on where to be, so he stayed relatively close. I had to chase him twice- once when he was chasing birds, and the other was when he was chasing dogs. I got him and apologized to the dog owner, and she said "Oh, my dog won't hurt him." and I said "I'm not worried about him, I'm worried about your dog." (On a side note- Last Sunday Ryan caught him in his parents' neighbor's horse pen, standing under the horse petting him and feeding him apples. NICE.)
The pier. See Ed in the green shirt? Trying to climb the rails... I think if I reach the age of 32 it'll be a miracle. After the pier we went to Morro Bay and fed the seals at this rinky-dink aquarium that was just the right price and size for out group. The kids could wander around the aquarium and we could see them, so they felt independent and grown up and we didn't stress much. We then went to The Shell Shop and the kids picked out a shell. We walked around a bit by the bay, and the looks we got were fabulous. Almost like we were a freak show. A somewhat well behaved freak show. Eight kids. Two moms. Some people think my sister and I are twins. Probably didn't help. We walked into a restaurant and said, "Table for nine. We need two high chairs. Oh, and make that table for 11 with two high chairs because a friend is meeting us a little later." Hee hee- I bet the waitress nearly passed out when we asked for a table. The kids were all really, really good in the restaurant, much to every one's amazement. (If it was me, and I saw that many kids in a small restaurant, I would've found someplace else to eat...) My friend Kibbe and her two kids met us there, and then we went to Cloister park and let the kids run around while we attempted to visit. It's just hard to visit when you have kids you have to watch. But we keep trying.

The sunset on the first night. All in all, it was a good trip. If you had talked to me last night, you would have heard me say "NEVER AGAIN". It was hard, and yesterday we left the beach around 10:30am, and we didn't get home until 10:30 pm. We made it to Bakersfield, I went and sat for two and a half hours while I got the windows tinted in my car (Not my idea of a fun time...), and then we rushed to a family party at a park. It was a LONG day, preceded by bad sleep and cranky kids. I'm glad it's over, and like pregnancy and birth, it starts looking better the farther I get from it. Amnesia. Rest. Kids who are much more mellow today because they are exhausted. I may do it again next year. I may not. We'll see how the kids are doing maturity wise. And me. How I'm doing maturity wise. Next summer I'll be 32, if I make it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Too much going on

So much is going on it's hard to keep up with everything. We said good-bye to our very cool van last week and hello to a very practical car for me. We celebrated Ryan's birthday. We had a flat tire (twice for Ryan... once Wednesday night coming home from Bakersfield with a bunch of youth from church in it, and then the next morning when trying to get to town with us in it. Not that big of a deal, but stressful for him.) That one event, that ONE flat tire, completely changed everything we were doing for almost a full 24 hours. Strange how that can happen. *Other things- I gave Jessie a bottle yesterday for the first time because she seems to always be hungry and I feel quite literally "empty" by the end of the day. She took it with no problems! The boys never had a problem with taking a bottle, but Kacy had major issues with it and kinda gave me anxiety forever about babies and bottles. *I spend entirely too much time on the Internet, and am taking a hiatus for a few days. We will see how that goes... I am planning on a beach trip next week and will leave my computer behind. I may go through withdrawals. *Sticking to a budget is hard, and I had to create a new category- Unexpected/not planned stuff. Sometimes I really hate being the accountant, and I've tried unsuccessfully to pass the torch to Ryan. That's a no-go in his book, so here I am. I'm the one who reads the financial books, invests in the stock market, and gets a subscription to Money magazine. Now, if all that information I know would just help me balance a budget... hey, maybe I should be a politician. Then I'd be okay. *I have had my new car since Thursday, and I've driven it about 7 miles. Ryan had me drive part way down our road. I tried to go to the grocery store, and he volunteered to drive me. Its the "zoom-zoom" thing of NOT driving a truck. Cars are very different, and our new Mazda5 is way different than my monster van. Will have to post pictures later. *Been meaning to update the house progress, but things look the same. Plumbing stuff is visually boring, and backfilling the dirt is exciting, but boring to look at. SO, maybe next week. (I keep saying that...) I look forward to living in a house again. Our trailer is decent, and I have very few complaints about it, but golly a real live house might be kinda nice. Oh! One complaint, only because I have to deal with this in a little while. I cannot iron OR microwave when the air conditioner is on. It trips all the breakers. Could be worse- at least I have AC. *I ordered Kacy new shoes online at Zappos.com- they have free shipping. I will order Will shoes from there next month, and probably Ed, too. Beats going to the store, and they have decent prices. She is getting pink Converse All Stars. She is so excited. *

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Waterpark and a Nake!

See these kids at the spray park? Mine are the pasty ones. This was a stressful even for me in which I didn't get to socialize much. Kids in public areas with no fences and streets kind of ruin any potential social interaction. This was AFTER we went to Dewar's ice-cream shop for a tour. THAT was a great trip, except for Ed. Ed was NOT fun yesterday. I'm surprised his arm is still attached to his body. I wouldn't let go of his hand, and he kept throwing himself down on the ground, and trying to pull away. Punk. The ice-cream was excellent, and the candy was great. Jocelyn and her kids went, too. It was fun. Except for Ed.
Today after lunch I kicked the boys outside, and I followed a minute later with laundry to be done. I hear "Nake, mommy, nake!" and go find Ed. He is at the end of our trailer, and when I ask him where the snake is (cuz I don't see it...) he says "Nake mommy. See? Oh, Mater." and picks up his toy he dropped. We walk between our trailer and the semi trailer we use for storage, and there at the other end is a snake. I grab my camera, which was nearby because I was getting ready to take pictures of the house. (Maybe tomorrow...) I took video og the thing, see the sidebar link if you are interested. This is the fourth snake we've seen on our property. The first by me. Probably not the last.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday Ryan!
To our most favorite person in the world, we love you!
Love, me and the heathens.
(Just wait until we sing to you- you're gonna LOVE it...)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Today is somewhat typical

Background: We have a "red box". It is a sea container that houses some of Ryan's shop stuff. The last few days there has been a funky smell emanating from within said red box. I take out some garbage I had in there. Open the door to air it out. Next day- the stench is still there. Now I face the facts- something has died in there. (Oh how I wish I could say "I have NO IDEA what a dead, rotting animal smells like...")The scene of the crime- the shop vac. How is that possible you say?
Note the maggots coming out of the top of the extension tube.
I carefully lift the tube out of its holder, expecting to see something nasty. Instead, I see this slight wetness, and more maggots. Stench is still there. I look in the tube, and see nothing. It's clogged with...
...this heap of wet, sticky, rotting, black rat/mouse. I flung it in the bushes, of course. LOVE those bushes. (And of course I poked it with a stick. How can you NOT poke a dead animal with a stick? I found it's tail, that's how I know it's a rat-mouse.)
Later in the day, Ryan and I are inside eating lunch while the three walking kids are playing outside. My "mommy-sense" starts to tingle (similar to Spiderman's "Spidy-sense") and I ask Ryan if he can see the kids. He says he can.
"Even Ed?"
"Yes, even Ed. But they are kinda far away." About a minute later, Kacy comes running up to the trailer. "MOM! MOM! The boys are going down the road!" Ryan looks and says "I can't see them anymore." He is just sitting down to eat lunch, I had just finished, so I volunteer to go get them. He says "Maybe you should take the car."
I run.
Far. Very far.
I catch up to the boys about a 1/4 mile away, and good thing for them I was completely out of breath and tired. Good thing. We walk back to the trailer and I tell them to stay in their sandbox, THAT'S IT! No where else. No less than 10 minutes elapse when all three of them come into the house with greasy hands from playing with the semi-trailer hitch. Ed was slightly more dirty, and required a bath with Dawn dish soap. I was in no good mood, but took a picture anyway, because I SUPPOSE it is humorous. Especially since he is crying in the picture. (Heehee- mean mommy...) Let me reassure you (and myself) that we are spending the rest of the day indoors watching cartoons. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Money addendum AND business spotlight AND blog to share

I have come across two great small business owners, and thought I'd share. But first, lest anyone get the wrong impression (because some people are so weird when it comes to talking about money-it makes them bored or queasy...) Ryan and I are not having money problems. I'm a great advocate of education for all subjects, and especially being self-reliant. So my last post was to document the big (new car) and little (coupon clipping) changes we are going to make because we want to grow old with out worries. No mortgage ASAP. My whole goal in life is to be like my grandparents, living off of interest of my accounts, rather than social security payments. How cool would that be? Just sayin'.

Business number one- Landscape ahead. If you live in the area, and you need yard help (NOT mowing your grass...) check out this girl. Her job is to help make your yard look great, and she does a great job. I highly recommend her skills. She can take you (meet you) to the nursery, help you pick out plants that will actually grow in our area (those tricky nursery people put lots of beauties out there that just die in our climate...) and tell you where to plant them, or she'll plant them for you, or make up a landscape design plan (very nifty...) that you can complete how you wish.

Business number two- A Good Time Out. This place is wonderful if you live in Bako and need drop in daycare without notice. It is located right by a fabulous shopping center (Hello Target!) and makes my life lots easier when I have doctor's appointments. The kids LOVE it. L-O-V-E it. The have a curriculum in the mornings that the kids can participate in. The are open late Friday and Saturdays if you want to go on a date. (Date. Date. What is that again?) Go here to see their place.

Oh, and for your reading pleasure, my SIL Jocelyn hooked me up with this great blog called The Pioneer Woman.
I love it; I find it hilarious! With some yummy looking recipes and great photos, it is very entertaining.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Money, money, money

Dollars, cents, stocks, ETF's, bonds, mutual funds, retirement, IRA's, debts, bills, savings, budgets, and taxes. All have been on our minds lately. I reorganized our budget. Ryan (and I) want to buy five years of "service" to count for his retirement. I want to spend less money on gas, but still be able to go to playgroup and Bakersfield to visit the family. I opened a Roth IRA for myself to invest in. We are seriously looking at getting a different vehicle for me. Ryan's buyback is a bit expensive (really expensive) and I had no idea where to get the money from. Getting a more fuel efficient car would help. I can cut back on groceries a bit by being a better meal planner and looking for deals/using coupons. Try being more frugal (like I used to be...) But we were still coming up short. There are a few luxuries that we won't part with right now. Pride. Fun. Whatever. But then it hit in a light bulb over the head kind of moment. TAXES. We get a killer return every year. But you know what? That means the government is keeping a good hunk of Ryan's paycheck, INTEREST free. Like forced savings. But we'd rather put that money into Ryan's retirement. Now, I have to figure out how to get the most money without owing more than say, 100 bucks to the feds. I have no clue. Actually, I have a small clue. I used the IRS withholding calculator. Wish me luck. (And you have a clue, please share. I won't pay you with money, because I'm practicing being frugal now, but it will make your heart feel super-happy.)