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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Thanksgiving day, I tried my hand at panning. Panning in photography is when your subject is in focus, but moving, and the photo shows movement. I'm not good at it, and I'm not sure I understand it all myself. The effect can be cool- but maybe best done when your subject is moving, but relatively still. Like a skateboarder cruising down the street, or a cyclist, or a sporty car that has no flailing arms and feet (and head) like my boys. Here are the best attempts:

Not so good. But it was fun trying.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grateful for Health

Warning: Do not Google "puking" images. Just don't.

I have some relatives that are puking- yuck!

Last night I joined them. Except I think it's not related- mine definitely feels like I had a germ on my hands, and then ate pizza with my hands... It was over before I knew it, and one of those "I felt better as soon as I puked" kind of things.

The worst part? Besides tasting regurgitated pizza? The fever. The body wracking, freezing cold, uncontrollable shaking fever. Then of course, the sweating later.

But, after that was all done, the sweet relief of sleep was awesome, and knowing I could make it through the next day. It's bad to be a sick mom. Super hard. It was also nice to know the kids wouldn't get it. Not having laundry right now would make that B-A-D. I've done it before, and never want to do it again.

Feeling better, and grateful for it! I love my and my family's health!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Photo by me, but last year. What a slacker, I know!
Christmas this year was great! Here is what some of the Christmas season brought us:

The local Christmas parade. The one where Ed got lost. We'll never forget that one!

Breakfast with Santa! Kacy asked for a binder so she could organize her papers. Will wanted a Lego set. Ed asked for an Ironman helmet. Jessie cried/screamed. Before I put her on his lap, she tried to talk me out of it by saying Santa is mean.
On that same note, I eavesdropped on the kids to see what they wanted from Santa, and I had told Ed that if he asked for an Ironman helmet (the kind that makes noise- just like his Transformers Bumblebee helmet that he never plays with) I would tell Santa no. He comes up to me after he talked to Santa and says, "Hey Mom! I asked Santa for an Ironman helmet. SOR-RY!" all happy. Stinker!
For the record, he got an Ironman figure on a quad. And Jessie got a new baby. All her happy!

We don't get our kids a lot. They got what they asked for (sort of- ED!) and then Santa brought a group goft of Play-doh toys and lots of Play-doh. The kids were so happy! And so was I, because it wasn't tons, and they don't have high expectations. Ryan and I have decided that when they get older and get more expensive tastes, they won't get those things for Christmas. They will have to work and save money and buy them (with or without our help), and we'll save Christmas for those fun things/little things. Hopefully they'll take more pleasure in participating in the season, and not get so caught up in asking for things that cost hundreds of dollars. We'll see!

We got to visit with friends that we don't get to see enough due to distance and conflicting work schedules. Good times with good people- we miss our old friends and can't wait for the house to be done so we do some inviting. We have newer friends since moving that we would like to hang out with more, but again, with the lack of space and all, we can't do any inviting.

On that note, Ryan is making more and more progress on the house. It can be depressing because he can work all day and it looks like nothing got done. For example, on one day he wired the entire kitchen. That's a good amount of work, drilling holes, pulling wires, installing boxes... but if you stand in the kitchen, it doesn't look much different. Oh well, slowly but surely.

We also had a killer rain storm. It rained about 5 gallons at our house in three days: a 5 gallon bucket we had outside was filled to the top. The storm has closed our usual route to Bakersfield, causing us longer travel times. It also washed away our usual street we take home. We are grateful for alternative routes. We had no personal flooding problems, because our property is way above grade. There are several spots in our valley (and in Bakersfield) that have major road damage. It was a LOT of rain in a short time.

Some gifts received this year: Santa brought the kids what they wanted (hello?!? A binder that zips and has pockets on the outside to organize stuff with? How can he NOT bring that?), and the grandparents and cousins did not disappoint. PJ's, books, more books, little flashlights, the boys got a little RC car, some magnetic building things, gift cards to McDonalds... they were thrilled. Ryan and I got a Wii (from his parents), a dutch oven that I am claiming for my own and might practice with SOON, a night out with food, and some gift cards! My mom supplied me with hair care products that I won't buy for myself and the best shade of black-purple nail polish. The gift of beauty is always appreciated!

I procrastinated my Christmas shopping until the last minute, and I loved it. I think when we have a house and a place to store the goods, I'll try looking year round for gifts so that I can take advantage of sales, but for the most part, it was great!

The sad part of the whole season? As much as I love it, I'm afraid it'll be here again before I know it. When I was a kid it seemed like it took FOREVER to get here. The older I get, the faster it comes. It boggles my mind.

And, why no pictures this year? I had my camera, with my new cool manual flash, which I've figured out, but with so many people and so much action, coupled with my fear of annoying people, the few pics I took ended up being a mass of people with half of them with their backsides to the camera. No one wants their butt on the internet. At least, no one I'm related to. (Your welcome, familia.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

*friday photo fun*

What do you do with a six hour power outage at night, when your kids are not to be trusted with flashlights?

Get them glow sticks and show them what a light trail is on your camera. Guaranteed good entertainment for at least 15 minutes. Then, you send them to bed early because there is nothing else to do in the pitch black, no moon, freezing cold country evening in December.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An Eventful Day for Ed at Church

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting, Ed leans over and says, "Mom, you are giving me a headache. I'm tired of you." 
"Whatever, Ed."
Then he hits his head on the bench in front of us and I think, "Ha! There's a real headache for ya!"
"Ouch. Now my head hurts for reals, and you are just giving me a head ache. I'm tired of this." He was pretty diplomatic of the whole thing, not really whining.
"Fine. Go sit with your dad, then." (Dad is in front...)
"No, I'm tired of him, too. I'm tired of every body in the whole world. Except for Marcie."
(except he pronounces it "Mah-cie.)
"Whatever, Ed. Sit and listen."
"I'm tired of you! I wanna sit with Mah-cie. I like Mah-cie."

She motions him over, and he proceeds to go sit with his woman. He snuggles up against her, sits on her lap, gives her lots of hugs... Marcie was good to let two of my kids sit with her family. And she likes Ed, and right now Ed needs all the adults he can get that like him, because he can be so wild and obnoxious sometimes. He particularly struggles at church. 

During Primary singing time, he kissed Lili on the cheek. She was not happy about it, poor girl. I called him to the back of the room and said, "Ed, you can't kiss girls like that. Girls don't like to be kissed." 
His reply: "How about moms? Do moms like kisses?" And with a big ol' grin he landed a big smooch on my cheek, turned, and went back to his seat.

Later, after church was over, he got mad that he didn't get a chance to get Jessie from the nursery. He stormed out the door. When I went to go get him, I found him with his pants around his ankles peeing in the bushes. Only a few had to witness this fine act of boyness, and Marcia K., who was in her car and had a front row seat, was red in the face from laughing so hard. 

The rest of the day was very boring for Ed. It's like he got it all out of his system in a short three hour span. Can't wait to see what next Sunday brings. He's having a substitute, and the last time he had a substitute, the poor teacher asked him  and the little boy in his class what they learned, and they replied, "Killing prophets!" (They didn't learn that, FYI.) He also sat on his teachers lap and played with his face for like 15 minutes.

I'm truly grateful for the adults that help me with (put up with) this crazy boy and his antics.

Family Picture

Friday, December 10, 2010

*friday photo fun*

One of the shots I took last Saturday... right before all heck broke loose and they scattered in every direction.

Can you sense the impending doom? 

Doom might be a little too strong of a word. Mayhem would be better.

I couldn't. I was more focused on Will's "Captian Morgan Rum" pose. Ed's surprised look. Jessie being blurry. 

We are going back for more mayhem tomorrow. They LOVED this place, and since it's practically in our backyard, I have no problems going again. Except this time, the camera will be secondary. I won't care (too much) if they fall in the stream. And we'll go see what's over the top of the hill.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photography- So MUCH to Learn

My friend Mindi asked me to try and take some pictures of her girls. Her baby was the very first (on my very short list) newborn to take pictures of. Her girls are are nearly 3 1/2 and 6 months. I did it, but only because she is a friend who would still talk to me if they came out horribly. And, because she knows I'm practicing. (For what? I don't know.) Seriously, I could never do this and get paid. I just don't feel like I know enough. 
I'm still trying to figure out my style. Everyone has a look they like, a look they are drawn to. Ryan says my lighting is too harsh. I "sometimes" think that, but then I've come to terms that I kinda like that look. He prefers a very even lighting on faces. I am drawn to fairly high contrast portraits that focus on the face. One photographer whose work I enjoy is Ken Sharp. I like it because in my mind, it seems very simple. There must be other things I like about it, too, but it's hard to find the words. And therein lies part of my problem: I can't define what it is exactly I like. It's part of ART: it's subjective and sometimes there are just no words. (I'll mention now that I'm more of a math person. I'm very comfortable with concrete answers.)  In photography, a picture could have everything right and you still might not like it. It doesn't mean it's a crappy picture per se, it just means you don't like the style. As I've been kind of studying photography more, I have come across some photographers that I'm drawn to, and others... not so much. Reminds me of my art history class, where some great classic paintings were beautiful, and other I thought "So what?"
 I had some focusing problems (just a little!) yesterday. Mostly with the little one here. I don't know what was up, as I've never really had that before. Like in this shot, her face isn't as sharp as it should be. Or, maybe it is and I should just say I was going for a soft look. Ya, that's it. Soft.
 We were both stressed a little doing this. She wanted her girls to cooperate, and I wanted to do a good job. We had to do team work. But now, 24 hours later, my stress has changed it's focus. What if she's disappointed? Okay, that's not it. I picked the best shots, processed them in three different ways (black and white, color, and a vintage/muted look) so she'll have to like some of them. There are at least 18 or so poses that I liked. I think it's just because I DON'T KNOW.  I'll have to mull them over some more, and after she sees them I'll post some of my favorites to Flickr.

So, if you are still reading this and thinking, "I could totally do that!"  you are probably right. Clean the snot off your kids (What? Please don't tell me mine are the only ones perpetually gross!) and find some window light. Don't stand in front of the window to block the light, but rather have the window on the side. De-clutter the background if necessary so the focus is on the kids, not the background. Shoot. Make sure the flash is off, the f/stop isn't wide open (you want the whole face to be in focus- something I didn't do at Thanksgiving...). Bribe kids. Beg kids. Make silly faces and jump around. Pray you get a few. Easy! Right?

If I were to do it again, I'd make sure my focus dots (in the viewfinder) were set so that only the center one was on. I had them all on, thinking it would increase my chances of it being in focus, but unfortunately, the camera focused on a shirt rather than a face sometimes. Not cool when shooting little ones. I'd also learn how to use my flash, or something. Lighting is a huge deal in pictures. HUGE. 

I have so much to learn.

*Update* I showed them to her last night and she loved them. Stress relieved! Whew!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ed the Therapist

Today when Will came home I asked him if he remembered to bring home his jacket and his sweatshirt. It's the second day in a row that he forgot. He told me his sweatshirt was in the lost and found, and his jacket was in his classroom. I chewed him out... "We don't live next to a store... that jacket costs lots of money... if you don't have warm clothes to wear you are going to get sick and then you'll have to go to the doctor and that's an hour and a half away... time.... money... sick... blah, blah, blah... get in the car we are going to the school right now to get that swear shirt out of lost and found..." And, I said all this, not in a kind, lecturing way, but in an elevated voice/ yelling kind of way.

While driving to the school,  I let out a big ol' sigh. Ed, who was in the front seat, says, "So what's the problem, Mom?"

Me: "I'm frustrated because I am trying not to yell at you kids so much because it's sounds awful and no one likes it. And, I got angry at Will and then I yelled at him."

Ed: "You don't like to yell?"

Me: "No, and it's become a bad habit for me. I don't like to get angry."

Ed: "So, let's get this straight. Why do you get so angry?"

Me: What the heck? Who is this kid? Good question. "I don't know why Ed. There's no good reason to act angry."

Ed:"Maybe it's because the kids do bad things. Or they don't listen. It's okay, Mom."

Me: " No, it's not. I need to do better."

And, I do. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who sometimes wants to eat their young, but it's not a good habit I have and I want to do better. It doesn't matter why this habit started, it just matters that I keep myself in check and getting better. Being a mom is hard work! I'm grateful for friends who make me feel normal and encourage me to hang in there. Seems like I've had a few conversations with different friends recently saying how frustrated they get, and afterward they think that the thing that bothered them really wasn't that big of a deal. I will work on this. Unfortunately, I feel like it might be a life long quest because as long as my kids act like they are participants in some Lord of the Flies unruly circus, I'll be tempted to act the part of the ring leader, yelling into my megaphone for order and safety. 

Luckily, I have a friend who feels like I do, and we are going to help each other. It's nice to have someone to vent to and not have them think you are a terrible mother because you sometimes had a bad week with your kids and threw a mommy tantrum. You know the kind, where you rant and go on a rampage of cleaning, while saying things like, "This house is a mess! Why can't you put your shoes away? Let me see your hands. Yup, still there, both of them. If they can play with toys, they can put shoes away. Good grief, I'm going nuts. You guys are slowly killing me. If I trip over one more shoe, I might literally fall down and die. I'll hit my head on the bed and be dead. Then what would you do? Who would fix your dinner and wash your underwear? You would be dirty and gross and dad would make you eat the pickles the come on your cheeseburgers." The kids just usually look at me like I'm nuts because I've become very dramatic and I'm putting shoes away with gusto, and I'm usually throwing things away that they had intended on rat-packing away.  Remember Yosemite Sam, the cartoon? He would get mad and say "Russ-a frussin mumble mumble..." 

That's what I do.

I'm sure the stress of having four kids in less than five years, living our in Nowhere, CA, and living in a 320 square foot trailer with a husband who works two jobs might have something to do with it. (His paying job, his working on the house/church stuff job) But this is what I choose and I must conquer this. No excuses.

What I'm going to do:
Quit caffeine. Caffeine increases anxiety and irritibility. Two things I have plenty of already. So long, Diet Pepsi and Vanilla Diet Coke. I'll miss you, because you are so tasty and fizzy and I love you out of the fountain with crushed ice and a straw... but perhaps we'll meet at special occasions like at when I eat pizza or have a cheeseburger, because those things are just not the same without you. 
Get some form of aerobic exercise everyday, by myself. Runs are good, but since I'm not a great runner and the weather is cold and rainy./snowy/windy right now, I'll settle for walks! I always feel less stressed after I run. (Unless I think about how slow and out of shape I am, then I stress about that. What can I say? I'm a head case.)

Keep perspective. I will not die if the kids don't put their shoes away. I will not crack up if they spill their drink again because they are playing at the table during dinner time and not eating. Okay, I actually might. But I will try not to exaggerate the situation and keep my cool. I will remember that although it sometimes seems like a "them vs me" situation, we are a team and they don't intentionally want me in the loony bin.

Right? Right.

Now, I'm off to make them their favorite dinner: noodles with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. Eww. We are having family night, and we have decided to have movie mix: popcorn, marshmallows, and M&M's. We are out of pretzels, or we'd have those, too.

And, thank-you Ed for talking to me today. Today you exceeded you age by about forty years. It was weird. But I needed it, and appreciated it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Taking Pictures of the Kids


There's more to this story, including a wet foot in the stream and the building of a bridge. 

I did manage to get a few good shots, as the lighting was great. It was almost noon, but overcast. This session might have to do.

Friday, December 3, 2010

*friday photo fun*

The only picture I took this week? *ahem* TODAY. But only because I am trying to find a backdrop to take kid pictures. Preferably without driving too far. With a little interest. I met Will at the bus stop and made him stop at our well house. This is cute of Will, but I just don't like it. T-shirt aside, it looks so... plain? Boring? Zoom out and get the whole body? Sit him on a log in front of the wood? Find a new place? I will contemplate this tonight, and do whatever comes to mind TOMORROW because although I am procrastinating gift shopping this year, photos are not an option. I should have had them done last month already.

I got a flash for my camera! I have no idea how to use it! I'm so excited! I read the manual and know how to work the flash, but need to experiment and practice, practice, practice. My big hopes for a flash is better lit indoor holiday photos, and better lit outdoor "I missed the Golden hour" or "it's dappled sunlight" or "the sun is great back lighting but your face is in a shadow" kind of pics. All I can really say is WE SHALL SEE. Just another thing to learn, when I haven't even cracked the photography thing!

On the house front- Ryan is chiseling away at projects. Wiring is almost complete. Do I even need to say that we both need a house and can't wait for it to be finished. Pretty soon (right? RIGHT??) I should be able to take pictures of the fun stuff! Inside stuff. We just have to get through the mechanical inspection.