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, November 30, 2009

Random Pictures From the Last Few Months

We had a "Hawaiian" party in honor of cousin Caley leaving for BYU-H. The food was the main show- grilled marinated chicken breasts (in a homemade soy/ginger/pineapple concoction) served over a bed of steamed rice, with fresh pineapple. The homemade "grass" skirts are because if I mention the word party at all, my kids cling to the idea and then run with it. No party is complete without decorations- Kacy and Will drew palm trees, a sun, and some waves, and then hung the papers all over the trailer. Aloha, Caley!
Yummy treats- melt some white chocolate (real or fake) and then pour in your healthy cereal of choice like Kashi Go Lean, or Fiber One. Warning: very easy to do, and so yummy, but DO NOT overdose on high fiber chocolate laden treats. It'll get ya.

I took a picture of Jessie's hair one day after I "did" it- because a picture lasts longer. She likes her hair to be free, and it's usually stuck to her face with snot. It was cute while it lasted!
I love the look on Jessie's face in this picture- she looks irritated but slightly amused (?) at the same time.
I gave Kacy my camera on Thanksgiving day, and these are just some of the gems she took. (I refuse to post the 86 pictures of knic-knacs she took at my grandmas house...)
A self portrait, of course!
Aack! Me, examining my camera. It's been awhile since I made an appearance on my blog, and since I'm not mid-chewing any food, I'll take it.
I gave Kacy my camera on Thanksgiving... here is Mike, Cousin Jennifer, and Emma.
Three of my nieces!
A fun shot of Will on the scooter-
And last, but not least, SpongeBob on a pillow. There are LOTS more where this came from.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An Adventure at the Laundromat- I'm ready to live the quiet life.

The laundromat burnt my clothes.

It went like this: it's raining and I needed to catch up on laundry. The fastest and easiest way is to go to the laundromat with the kids in the car (two slept, two read books). I wash, then dry the clothes. I get clothes out of dryer one, and mildly swear to myself that stupid dryers don't work for anything! Grumble at second dryer that only did slightly better. Not helpful are all the dryers marked "Does not heat up- sorry." and "Out of order." There are more of these than ones that work. Anyway, I go to dryer three to check on the clothes, as they were in the shortest time. I open the door and say, "Wow! These are smokin' hot... wait! They are smoking!" I start grabbing out my smoking clothes, glancing up at the sprinklers hoping they wouldn't come on. THAT would have taken my story to a whole new level. I doubt they even work. The clothes were so hot I couldn't handle them. I had to get a dish towel to hold them with.

I lost some whites (that are now brown), and a hoodie I've been wearing for the last seven years. The rest of the clothes stink, but I think are salvageable. I'm hoping to be able to hang them on the clothesline and air them out.

I am extremely grateful my one pair of jeans I own was in a different dryer. That would have sent me over the edge.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I give up trying to get a group shot of my kids. This ONE took a full five minutes to "compose", which for me and the kids means they are all relatively close together and looking in the same direction.
The question: What are you thankful for?
Kacy: "Everything."
Will: "My whole family."
Ed: "My family."
Jessie just smiled at me when I asked her. She is thankful for her sippy cup and blankie, I just know it.

This year I'm feeling particularly thankful for steady employment on behalf of Ryan, safe driving considering all the miles I've put on my car this last year, and kids who keep me on my toes and keep me in a constant state of... I'm not sure the right word, but laughter, exasperation, and humility come to mind.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rocks in the Road, and How Babies Start. I'm Diversified.

Does anyone sell protective bubbles big enough to put my car in? I'm in the market.

It rained today, and I was in Bakersfield. I had to come home, and the road I take tends to have rock slides (and it's the safest road). I slowed down to 35-40mph and avoided the first group of smallish rocks easily. It helped that I noticed the two cars a hundred yards in front of me braked in a weird spot, so I knew to watch for something. No big deal. The big deal that made my heart hurt was coming around a corner and seeing two big rocks in my lane. Which was *okay*, because I was driving slow enough to have complete control of my car. I went into the other lane and back into mine, explaining to Will that it is in fact okay to cross the double yellow lines to avoid a crash. (Legally, I'm not sure it's ever okay, but Ryan has told me to do whatever is required to avoid crashing. Especially head-on. But I digress.) The heart hurting part was seeing the dust in the air around the boulders. The dust. Like, they had just fallen. And instantly my brain goes to the story of the girl Ryan knew in high school who was driving on said road with her boyfriend and a rock fell on the car and killed her. And holy crap, what would I have done if that rock would have fallen on my car... and what if I was three seconds faster... and it's a good thing I used that turn out earlier and decided to take it slowly... too many what-ifs and could haves and stress. Every one is fine, but my brain and heart were not for a little while. (Neither were Kacy's. She was just as worried as I was.)

I just talked to Ryan, and he said the road is closed because the rocks kept coming.

So, dear family and friends, I will be diligently checking the weather before driving to the big city. If if calls for rain or snow, I'm staying home.
On a funny note, I got to answer Will's question of, "Hey Mom, I know babies come from your tummy, but how do they start there?" while driving to my grandma's house for Thanksgiving dessert. I had just explained to him the night before how babies get out of my tummy. Kacy already knew that part. I haven't used any terminology yet with my kids, because I myself can't say the word that rhymes with the planet Venus. Just can't do it. And as far as girl parts go, no, not everything down there is the V word, and when I worked at the preschool many moons ago it irritated me that parents thought that teaching their three year olds to call girl part V's was right. There are LOTS more parts down there than just that, and for that, you could call it the birth canal. You certainly don't pee with it... see? That's why it bothered me. AND because three year olds will use aforementioned terminology at the preschool playground, in the grocery store check-out line, and in the middle of singing "Happy Birthday" to your grandma. They just don't know WHAT is appropriate WHEN. ANYWAY, in our house, because I can't say the boy part word without getting hugely embarrassed, and because girls have WAY more parts that just a V, we call everything a butt. "Stop dancing around naked, no one wants to see your butt!" "Pull up your undies BEFORE you come out of the bathroom so we don't have to see your butt!" This is said 100% of the time to the boys, who like to put undies on their head and dance around shaking their booties saying, "I'm naked, I'm naked!" before getting into either a) the shower, or b) their PJ's right after their shower. This vocabulary has worked so far in our house. To explain how babies come out, I took a cue from Jocelyn and how she explained it to her boys. Something like, "You know how pee comes out of one hole in your body, and poop comes out of the other? Girls have a third hole in their bodies where babies come out of." And without fail, both Kacy and Will have said, "Oh." And then they went on their way. Kacy does know that sometimes they cut your tummy, like if the baby is upside down. Back to the question of how babies start in the tummy. I frowned. That's what I do when I'm thinking. I had no idea what to say. So, I did what I could: "Well, it takes a mommy and a daddy, and they decide to have a baby, and then they do." That didn't work, because Will asks, "But HOW does the baby start Mom?" So, I resort to: "Hey Will, how do YOU think babies start in tummies?" I was hoping this would give me a starting off point. He said he had no idea, that's why he was asking me. So, here's how it went, as we were driving down the freeway... Your body is made up of these little teeny tiny things called cells. There are different cells that make different parts of you, like hair cells make hair, eyeball cells make eyeballs, skin cells make skin. There are also baby making cells. Girls have egg cells in them. Girl chickens, girl dogs, girl people, all girls animals have egg cells. (This is where Kacy inserts the fact that girl dolphins also have egg cells, and since they are mammals they also give birth to live young and they feed their babies milk. No joke. I say "Yes, Kacy, that's right.") And then I say that all boys have cells in them called sperm cells. Boy animals, and boy people. When you are a mommy and a daddy, you decide you want to have a baby, and these cells come together and make a baby. The baby starts out teeny-tiny and grows this big and this big and this big, and when it's big enough to be born, it is." He said "Oh." Kacy said, "What's that S word again Mom? Sperm?" Yup, she's putting that in her word bank.

Pretty soon I will tell Kacy and Will what the parts are really called, but for now they are on a need to know basis. They are old enough now to respect the terminology and use it appropriately, but all in good time. I'm in no rush to have to verbalize the words I've studied for hours on the walls of the Dr. while waiting for the OB/GYN the last four kids. Hey, I got bored after five solid years of appointments... and I've always been a wall reader. Eventually I'm going to have to give them the talk... but for now, I love the ignorance. I need some time to think about it. But as this year is almost over already (!!!) and Kacy is getting so big, with Will right behind her, I've only got a few years, max! Years are going by so quickly right now. (If they are going by this fast right now, how fast are they going to feel when I'm 50 or 80?)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One Adventure for Today

Today Ed locked my keys in the car while I was at Dany's house. On one hand, we missed playgroup. On the other hand, Dany and I got to visit for awhile while waiting for the tow truck. So, it wasn't a complete disaster. A complete disaster would have involved Jessie being locked in the car, being in a public parking lot, and having to go to the bathroom. That would have made me cry. Instead, I had access to a bathroom, the kids watched a movie, I had some soda, and some conversation. (And AAA- thanks Grandpa D!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Bad Day for Driving

Last night on the way home, we had a near miss with running over a man with my car. We were coming up on a curve, and the oncoming motorcycle lost control and laid his bike over. Both he and the bike came into our lane. Ryan swerved into the other lane and then quickly got back into ours. I'm so glad he was driving. I decided last night that the man was very lucky Ryan was driving, or else he would have been squished under a car for sure. (But I hope my skills are better than that. They've never been tested, so I'm just not sure what I could have done.) We pulled over and Ryan got out to check on him, and the guy popped up and shouts, "I'm OK!" and then gets on his bike and continues on. Weird. This morning on the way to the post office, a fox hit my car. He ran down the side of a hill and right under my back tire. He's dead. I checked. He was really pretty, too. But dumb. AND THEN, on the way back from the post office, a Tahoe type SUV crossed the double yellows into my lane, and it was becoming a situation where I had to consider the possibility of driving my car into the field of cows to avoid a collision. He got back into his lane and no harm was done, but seriously, after the motorcycle guy and the dead fox, I was not amused.

Some lessons I may want to learn from this:
  • Need first aid kit, flashlight, and maybe those reflective triangles for my car.
  • Need to sign up for a first aid/CPR class. I was certified for many years, but it's lapsed and I'd like a refresher.
  • Might be fun to take a driving course where I could learn all those technical defensive driving things.
  • My very low blood pressure does NOT hold up well under extreme stress, like having a guys helmet in your headlights. My blood vessels dilate and my heart can barely keep up. I'm a wimp!
  • I might be remotely descended from trappers- I briefly thought to myself "What a waste of a perfectly good fox. I should skin that fox!" Then I grossed myself out and thought, "Where did THAT come from?" SO WEIRD.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cake Decorating

This Veteran's Day was spent fulfilling one of Will's dreams- decorating a cake "the cool way." For his birthday in August, he really wanted to build a cake of his own. We just can't do that in the trailer for several reasons, the least of which would be lack of oven/counter space. Our friend Cori happens to love to decorate cakes "the cool way" too, and offered to have Will come over and have a go at it. It was fun!
Will deciding on a theme for his cake- we had to rule out a four foot high building at the start. He decided on an ocean theme with blue water and sea creatures. Then, it was time to color the fondant. This is where Will left and Kacy stepped in. Will didn't want to get his hands blue. Kacy didn't mind coloring fondant, and she started hers with pink. The fondant Cori makes (herself!) is marshmallow based. (It was already made, so I don't know how to do it myself. She might share the recipe under an oath of silence on my part... I haven't asked her yet. I am curious though, and if Will is going to keep up with his dream of being a train driver and cake decorator, we'll have to learn!)
Will came back for the last part of it. He liked piping the dots on (not pictured- the dots came last!) He was so happy with the cake. Although, in true Will fashion, he said it would've been cooler if it had been a city "this tall!" (Think four feet in height.)
Thanks Cori and family for having us over and sharing a talent! It made our day go by faster, and my kids had a great time. They now (especially Ed, who is fascinated with driving directions) also point out the general direction of your house and ask if you are home when we drive by.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Highs and Lows of Today

Low: Ed throwing a fit on the way out the door early this morning.

High: Working in Kacy and Will's classrooms.

Low: Finding out Will got a detention yesterday for not listening to his teacher after 3 times of being told to put his toothbrush timer away. He lied, he was sneaky, and he got caught. (I knew he got a detention yesterday when Kacy told me. Will couldn't remember why.) I was not amused.

High: Walking from Kacy's classroom to Will's classroom and seeing a cattle drive on the Hwy. Hundreds of cattle, real cowboys, and lots of mooing right next to the school fence. Cows make me happy- I'm not sure why. (Cheese?) Oh- and get this: Kacy's class is learning about bears. ALL about bears. She came home yesterday with a "bear bracelet." I thought she was being silly, but it turns out they really did make bear bracelets. They have jingle bells on them.

High: Pizza for lunch at our Primary Presidency meeting.

High: Seeing Ryan for the first time since Friday morning. (Yes, he still lives here- he's just been really busy and working afternoons. And if I go anywhere in the mornings, then we don't see each other that day.)

Low: Will having a meltdown about not getting any pizza. It was bad. I needed a time-out.

High: Healthy dinner for me- steamed broccoli, tuna, and melted cheese (Light on the cheese.) It's surprisingly good. No, really. All mixed up together.

Low: It went like this: Me: "Ed, stop jumping." 30 seconds later, "ED! Stop jumping around. Sit down if you are going to watch TV or go in your room and play with toys!" 10 seconds after that, "ED! Stop jum..." and then I go and get an ice pack because he jumped, slipped, and hit the corner of his FACE on the corner of the TV STAND. (Which reminds me, I need to locate my first aid kit and stock up. I think it's out at the house. We had some boo-boos that needed some band-aids. I think it would be funny to go get some Little Mermaid band-aids and put them out at the house.)

High: I'm hoping bedtime is a high. I'm a little tired, and my kids are trying to kill me. Death by insanity. If Ed doesn't get what he wants, he starts saying things like, "It's not my fault. It's not fair!" even if it's out of context. Will has been giving a lot of stubborn attitude to me, being very insistent to try and get his way. My boys are definitely trying to kill me. The girls just want their toenails painted. Here's to a new start tomorrow. If we don't have any meltdowns before 8am, I'll be happy.

Monday, November 9, 2009


This is a picture of our old living room. (It's not a great picture- sorry.) Ryan remodeled the fireplace. When we first moved in, it was used brick with a black grout. It also was smaller in width and had a faux brick chimney facade that went up the wall. Ryan took it down and built the wall arch thing, re-bricked the fireplace, and made the mantle. It made a big difference in the way the room worked. It made no difference in the way the fireplace worked- it still sucked all the warm air up and out of the chimney. It made for great ambiance, but had no heat value.
This is the fireplace insert we bought. Not the stone facade. The iron part you see, and the whole box part you can't see. It's a Napolean XZ3000. It's EPA certified as being clean and efficient. It can be ducted and heat an entire house. We have gone back and forth about what we are going to do for the rock/brick work, and we decided that we both really liked our old fireplace so much that we are going to duplicate the brick work and arch. We will even put the old shot gun up there. The picture of George Washington will have to be moved to a different spot, as our new ceilings are ten feet high, and our old living room had vaulted ceilings.

We got hung up on some legal technicalities with Title 24 calculations. We wanted to use this fireplace as our main source of heating, and we are putting in evaporative coolers instead of A/C (our climate is perfect for this), and we upped our insulation. All of that has to be recalculated so that the great state of California knows we meet a certain energy usage standard. It passed, but before we could finish the roof completely, we needed to know how many vent jacks we needed. Now that our ideas are stamped with approval (we are going to be a really energy efficient house) we can proceed!

And as for a finish date, we have talked and talked (and talked) about it, and we both want it done as fast as possible, but we also want it done right. We don't want to move and and in 10 years say "I wish we would have done this or this." Will it matter in 20 or 40 years that we stayed in the trailer for an extra few months? It won't. And as tedious and it is to live in the trailer (clothes storage just kills me), I don't want to be in this house for the rest of my life and always think "if only I could have lasted four more months." What's four months compared to 50+years? The next three months should be interesting in house progress. The outside will be finished, and the electrical and plumbing should be done. Then HVAC, insulation, drywall, plaster, flooring, cabinets... the list is really long. It's so long, if I think about it too long it makes my head hurt.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's going to be a long winer...

It's only 6pm and we've eaten dinner and had ice cream and are looking to bathe the wonderful fun dirt off the kids... and it feels like all of that should have been done a long time ago!

Tapping my fingers until it's bedtime...

Veteran's Day Program

Our school puts on a Veteran's Day program. I missed last year, but was able to go this year. It was neat- the kids all seemed to enjoy it, and the invited Veteran's did too. (My pictures were terrible- I took my zoom lens, and the lighting was terrible. I tried to fix them as best I could- and maybe no more sitting in the back of the gym.)
Kacy and some of the other first graders. They sang two songs about peace. I didn't know the songs, except that the words were set to familiar tunes.
The Kindergarten and second grade classes. They tie-dyed tee shirts. I bet if I had washed Will's shirt first, it would have turned out better. He wanted an all red shirt, and it turned out pink. He loves it.
They sang and signed "God Bless America" and "Oh Beautiful."
At the end the Eighth graders (and I think some third graders?) sang a popular song that I can't remember. (I remember now- "Proud To Be An American") The kids started waving their flags. They passed out little flowers to the Veteran's in attendance.

I had a good time- I sat with some friends from church, and got to watch lots of the kids from our Primary perform.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This Picture Could Have a Few Captions

Like: The time change is rough on Jessie.
Look Mom! I put myself to sleep!
What was in that sippy cup? The last thing I remember was reading my ABC book...

Awards Assembly

I got a note home from Will's teacher yesterday, and a phone call from Kacy's teacher, each stating that the kids were getting an award at the assembly today. Excellent! Of course I was really excited, because I'm a school nerd. I love school. It makes me happy to be at school. (I wonder why? Seriously, now I'll have to analyze this aspect of my personality.) Here's what they were and what their teachers said about them.
Kacy got Student of the Month, I think. Her teacher said that Kacy could run the classroom all by herself. She's not bossy, but is a big help to substitutes that come in with how the routines are run. She said that Kacy has a large and interesting vocabulary and is interested in words. She and the little girl next to her, J, took the STAR test for the Accelerated Reader program and both of them scored in the 1.7-2.7 grade level. She also said that Kacy is kind to others and helps them with their work. (On the reading thing, I found out Kacy could read for reals on two separate occasions. Two? Yup, I'm a little slow sometimes. One, when we went to the library last month and she picked out a book and knew 75% of the words. Then at church when she got her speaking part for the program, she started reading it to me and knew almost all the words except achieve, attending, and participating. It was a jaw dropping moment. I can't wait until we can read books at the same time! Harry Potter here we come! *in a year or so*)
Will got the Most Improved award. His teacher said that at the beginning of the year he hated coloring and writing and would say things like "I can't" and "It's too hard." But now he loves coloring and is very meticulous in his work. He stays focused on getting all his work done neatly. He also has excellent citizenship, following classroom rules and being kind to others. (I almost cried. I was so worried about his emotional immaturity when he started school. Of course, I almost cried when the cute girl in the stripy sweatshirt got an award for Student of the Month. She can read already. Her parents have been making a word book for her since she was little- way to go parents!) She said she can always count on Will for being trustworthy and honest. On a side note, when I went to his class yesterday, the teacher's aide told me that when it was her birthday last month, that after they sang to her, Will came up to her and told her that the next time he had a birthday and got birthday money, he would give some to her for her present. I am so pleased with Will because he has improved his fine motor skills SO MUCH and has taken an interest in school.

My other two side kicks were well behaved during the event. I am so happy with that- could life possible be getting less stressful because Ed sat/stood/lay down on the floor next to me the whole time without exiting the room, or running around the room? Wow. I'm still astonished. Ed and Jessie LOVE going to the school because Karen in the office always stamps their hands. They love those stamps!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dirty Kids are my Favorite!

Will is actually pretty clean here. I think that's a little blood on his face. I didn't ask what happened because he was especially "sensitive" today.
Kacy is making sure all parts of her get dirty from the slide. We can't forget the front!
How can you not snuggle with a face like this, crusty snot and all? Her shirt was especially gross. I have no idea what some of the stains even are.
And last but not least, Pig Pen. He rolls in the dirt. And if he can't roll in it, he throws it up in the air like it's raining dirt.

After each bath tonight, the water was so murky that you couldn't see the bottom of the bath tub.

If dirt is an indicator of fun for us mountain folks, my kids had the best day ever!

Clothespins with a 50mm f/1.8

There are times when you want shots like this. I'm sure very creative people could do loads of things with a lens like this. Me? I took this shot of my clothespins to practice with the depth of field aspect of it. I like this lens. I also really like my new zoom lens. This lens is people and low light friendly, so I think it'll be my indoor lens for sure. (I think for sure... I should just make up my mind already!) I'm not a fan of the flash- all my flashy pics is what made me want to learn to use the manual mode on my camera. I now shoot 98% of my pictures in full manual mode (with autofocus!). The other two percent is because I'm in a big hurry.
Same picture done up in PSE. My pal Cori suggested making a print of my hanging laundry and putting it in my laundry room when I get one. Well, I might do just that, and add this to my collection.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Airing Our Dirty Laundry

Not really... it's all cleaned. My dryer broke. I'm pretty sure it's the ignitor thingie. But the dilemma is this: do we order the part and fix it? Do we just wait until the house is done because we were going to get new ones anyway? Does Ryan take the time to fix this dryer, or work on the house? I vote house, so I engineered this clothesline. Poorly. Designing and engineering are not my strong points by any means. The non-stretch line I used... stretched. I think I've got it figured out since this picture was taken last week.

Guess what? I like using a clothes line. Here's why: the pants dry all straight and stiff- no weird wrinkles and no ironing. I can't let the clothes sit in the dryer all day forgotten. Whites are actually white. I like being outside with a purpose- it's almost cheerful. Not to mention the fact that the energy is free. I'm saving money on propane!

There are two drawbacks to a clothesline- stiff socks and board-like towels. Those are a little funky and could use a good fluff cycle. But other than that, I like it!

(Ryan thinks it's so weird that I put it over the flowers. I told him it's because I'm used to having to stack things in order to save space. I actually thought the clothes would drip water onto the flowers... but the clothes are spun dry really well!)

Ed Quote of the Day

Yesterday in church, Bishop Stewart was talking and said "The Garden of Gethsemane" and Ed leans over to me and whispers in an awestruck voice, "Did he just say the green triangle of destiny?"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's all about the White Balance

Well, it's not ALL about the white balance, but in the shots I took yesterday, they are improved with a post processing white balance thingie. I use Photoshop Elements 7, and with that program I adjusted "levels." That's the only adjustment so far- and mainly because I don't know how to adjust the WB on my camera BEFORE I take a picture. My goal is to learn enough so that I don't need PSE. It'll take awhile. Here are some before and afters.
Before- a little dark, and Ryan said all the pictures looked a little dingy. He's right.
After- on Kacy's I let the program do it automatically. Now that I see them side-by-side, I may go back and do it manually. I'm not sure I like it. Oh well!