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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hills are Alive

...with The Sound of Music!

I recorded it, and the kids and I watched it tonight. They loved it! I was surprised, but they did.

I prefaced the movie by telling them how their aunt Kendra and I would go to our grandma Sorensen's house and she didn't have TV, but she had a VCR and a couple of movies. We always watched this one. Instead of a "Cool, Mom!" (a girl can dream!), I get a, "What's a VCR?"

I almost choked. Thank-you, Kacy for making me feel old! What's a VCR...sheesh!


If this is for real, how awesome is this?

I have a Flickr account. I don't use it much anymore, since my "photography" stuff has been on the back burner, but I checked it today. I got a "flickr mail" from another user who saw a picture of Will's old, nasty Converse on there.

Apparently, he buys old Converse and uses them for art projects. (Interesting,  in itself.) He offered to buy the old shoes, plus shipping. Like, buy the old ones at the cost of a new pair, plus shipping.

I sent him an email saying he could pay me via paypal. I also let him know that I have another boy who wears converse and who wears his shoes out. Shoot, if this artist is in the market, it is possible I could keep him stocked with thrashed Converse every few months or so. LOL.

I'll keep you posted if it works out.

PSA- New California Car Seat Law

Hold on to your booster seats, or be prepared to go buy some new ones!

Starting January 1 (this Sunday), a new law takes effect here in the great State of California. What, only one, you say? Of course not. But this is one that I have to change my lifestyle for, so I thought I'd share.

The law is this: Children *MUST* be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) IN THE BACKSEAT OF A VEHICLE until they are at least 8 years old OR 4'9". (source: www.chp.ca.gov)

Brush those boosters off, or go buy another one!

So, this means I need to go buy Will a new booster. Kacy is 8, so she's good. But this effects me just a little more than buying another booster: I often have Kacy or Will sit in the front seat with me when I have groceries in my car. I fold down a back seat to open up my cargo area, and off we go. NO MORE? According to the CHP website, the magic number for sitting in the front seat is older than 11. No specifics, but in their FAQ's, they suggest an 11 year old who weighs 80 pounds still sit in the back. I will ask Favorite FUZZ #1 about the actual LAW pertaining to the front seat, or if this is just a recommended safety standard.

I have a whole lot of rant to go with this, riddles with my own kind of logic and observations on the absurd direction that our government is going to keep us safe. Ryan said the bumping up of the limit effects approximately 2 million children here in California. That's a lot of booster seat sales...

Anyhow, go buy your first and second graders a new booster since you probably either graduated it down to a younger child or threw it out. Make sure it has cup holders. Cup holders are a life saver! They save old gummy bears, cherrios, and used gum. Just pray the kid doesn't put a piece of fruit in there, close the cup holder, and wait for you to open it a month later. That's disgusting.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kacy and Santa

Kacy just found the letter I didn't mail to Santa. She's worried he won't know what she wants. I told her that if he knows if she's naughty or nice, he probably knows what she wants. I reminded her she told the Santa at school today what she wanted, and she said that wasn't the real Santa. Santa brought his wife, Mrs. Claus, and if you are Mrs. Claus, you DO NOT carry a purple smartphone with you. Apparently, it would be red and white, and that's only if they had reception at the North Pole.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree!

We did it. We got a Christmas tree this year. Last year was a lit up garland in the shape of a triangle hanging from a hook. The year before was nothing, because the kids kept touching and breaking the little three foot artificial tree I had, and I had a breakdown and threw it out the door, furthering the damage. This year though? WE HAVE A TREE. Getting the tree was an awesome adventure, see below for that story.

 Decorating with the ol' ornaments I have. MIA is the garland, tree skirt, and tree lights. Must be in that box I couldn't get to in storage.

 The other one: he had bronchitis this week and missed three days of school. On medication now, and doing much better. The other boy doesn't sound so good now though. Crossing fingers we make it through the weekend.

 Proud of their work! And, it looks like all the lights are on the bottom. They aren't. (But maybe close, because I bought one box of lights. I just couldn't bring myself to buy more when I know I have them in storage.

How They Got Their First Real Tree From the Mountains
by, "Mom's Car."

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and the air was chilly. They couldn't all fit in "The Beast," a 1976 Ford so they split up. Three went in the Beast, and three climbed into me. I'm the little car, the one with Cherrios and Cheetos stuck to the floor. The one who goes 3,000 miles a month with very little complaint. I need a new front end and tires, but they took me anyway. What else could they do? "Ride Red," the big truck, was loaded with a ton of hay in the bed and was hooked up to a trailer for the hay ride that night.

And, why don't I have a cool nick name? The Beast, Ride Red... and "Mom's Car?" After our adventure, I deserve something better.

We went up the road a few miles, then made a right turn and left pavement. The road was rutted with washboards, but it was a fun road for awhile. Until we came around a bend in the road, and there was snow. Not much, but just enough to have melted and frozen for a few days straight, causing the road to be an icy mess. One side of the one lane road was a steep mountain side going up, with granite boulders jutting out. The other side of the road was just as steep, except going down, down, down. The Beast's tires started spinning as we tried to climb this section of road. I was doing fine, of course, until I had to back up and let the Beast gain traction. Well, I really had no choice, you see, because in all honesty the Beast was starting to slide backwards. He slid a little until he hit dirt, then was able to get going forward again. I, on the other hand, did not make it. I was put in reverse and backed down the road and made several attempts at going forward, but we always seemed to hit ice. By this time my tire tread was full of snow, and the crazy kid in the back kept telling the woman, "Mom, I wish Dad was driving. You are making me nervous. Dad would know what to do." I could tell she didn't really appreciate that, because the next thing I knew she gunned it. We went no where. She backed me back down the road a ways, and parked me at a wide spot. She and the two little ones left me there while they hiked up the road to get a tree.

The tree came down easily, because the man who drives the Beast is like a lumberjack. He has a strong build, loves the mountains, and made short work of cutting down the tree with an ax. The tree was a 10 footer, cut down to eight. It was loaded into the back of the Beast, and the kids switched cars. No one likes to ride in me. I don't know if it's because I often smell like feet and old milk, but since they do that to me, I don't see why they care. (And for the record, the woman cleaned the old milk problem out of me ages ago. One of those kids put an ice cream in my cup holder without any one knowing it until it curdled during a summer heat.)

This is where the fun begins. The Beast, that manly 4x4 truck the family loves so much, had some problems. I overheard the woman telling the kids that the steep incline made the car run out of what little gas was left, and that the battery went dead. Ka-pow! A double whammy! The man always keeps a five gallon tank of gas in the back, because the Beast doesn't have a gas gauge. The big truck was stuck.

They did the only thing they thought possible after failed attempts to start it. The man got out the chains. He told the woman to go get me, and to bring me up where the truck was. She kindly reminded him she had tried several times just 15 minutes ago and had no luck. She came back to me, and I tried to get her up that hill. It was so slick! I ended up turned around from sliding around on the road. She put me in reverse and hit the gas, starting me up the hill in reverse. She made me nervous, really. Don't tell the woman I said that though.

I didn't make it all the way up the hill. The woman was frustrated, and told the man he better try. The man jumped in me (because we were much closer to the Beast by then, just not close enough.) In reverse, he hit the gas and my tires were spinning so much on the ice they started to burn. He put me in drive, and we shot down the road to get a running start. After doing that three times, each time going faster than the last (and, I must admit, the woman at this point was getting a little anxious, envisioning me sliding into the side of something) we finally made it! I was turned around, and the man put a chain on a hook under the back of me, and around the front axle of the Beast. We were lucky, being on the ice, because I could pull the Beast around and get him facing forward again. All was going well until... Well, let me back up by saying that I am a nice, modern, Japanese made Mazda 5. I have numerous airbags, a unibody design, and I get great gas mileage. The Beast, on the other hand has seen better days. He is a great truck, but he doesn't have power steering. And, on top of that, the steering has been modified to allow it to have a lifted suspension, and doesn't turn to the right very well. In fact, it's awful. And guess which way the truck needed to turn? To the right, of course. So, as I'm doing my best to pull a 3/4 ton pickup behind me, the truck gets stuck on the shoulder embankment because of a huge boulder sticking up. 

The man gets out, and talks to the woman with their plan. She is used to these adventures, and chalks them up to fun times now. Something to remember and laugh about. The plan is to have me, a little ol' Mazda with slick tires, pull and pull on the Beast until it is jerked off the shoulder and away from that boulder. It didn't start out so well for me at first. I kept coming awfully close to hitting the mountain, but I had to brave it out because of the angle. I tugged several times, and then I heard a loud "POP!" The girl in the back was almost near tears because she had no confidence in me or her parents. She just knew I would crash. Well, I didn't! The popping sound was that welded hook from under my car coming off. Along with some other part the man and woman deemed "not important." The man put the chain in a more secure spot, and back and forth we went, like a machine. Reverse, drive, reverse, drive, over and over again, until finally the truck came off the shoulder embankment. The woman cheered, I cheered, and the Beast followed me down the mountain until the man popped the clutch and was on his way. Sure, it was getting dark, and they were extremely pressed for time so the man and oldest girl child would make it to that hay ride he was in charge of. And sure, I lost my hook, some weird shroud underneath my car, my bumper is cracked a little, and the right side of my rear fender looks like it might need some pounding to put it back how it was, but we made it home, and they have their tree.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Use It or Lose It

This goes for fitness, chemistry, and for me, photography skills. It's very possible that I never really had skills to begin with, but I took some pictures of my nephew yesterday and although I got a couple of "good ones," I am frustrated with the lack of focus on my part. Why don't I see that the focus is not where I want it to be when I'm taking the picture? And don't get me started on lighting. I don't get paid for taking pictures, which is great because I don't deserve it. But if I were so inclined to head that direction, I would so get some lighting, ASAP. It's hard to work with natural light while traveling to other people's houses, where who knows which direction the light will come from, what kind of color cast the stucco might bring (and don't bother with the white balance with me. I put it on auto and call it good- but I'm thinking I need to learn that, and soon)... it's a little stressful. Anyhow, here is Louie, and although I like almost everything about this picture, I hate how soft it is. Good thing his toes are in focus...NOT. 
I used my 50mm on this shot, f/2.2. I needed to maybe close that up a bit, maybe in the 3-4 range? Heck, since there is no background to really blur, a 5 would have been okay...maybe. I'm not sure, since I didn't try it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever had my 50mm that small before. The pictures with my other lens (28-135 f/3.5) were clearer. Oh well, what can ya do? Practice, practice, practice. I'm not so naive as to think I could carry off a 365 project again. Maybe just force (bribe) my kids to pose for me, and get those little focusing dots all lit up at the same time, and learn to use the flash I bought myself for Christmas last year. And, I'll brush up on my owner's manual and what not. I'll just add that to my To Do list, of course.

In other news:
Yesterday the kids and I went to a retirement home/assisted living center and sang carols with April, Caley, and April's friend Karrie. Seriously, I never thought I'd met another KARRIE, but I did! Anyhow, going into the memory care section where the dementia/Alzheimer's patients are can be hard. I caught one lady's attention and she was motioning to me, kind of singing to me, but I didn't know what she was saying. Her eyes were bright, but she was just not all together, mentally. I kept wondering what to do, as she waved her hand close to me. It seemed like she wanted to hold my hand, but didn't have control over her hands. I tried holding her hand, but she pulled away, only to bring her hand back to me. While she was singing to me and motioning, I just stood there, smiling like an idiot. What else do you do? I felt like she really wanted to tell me something. I imagine it was that she enjoyed the singing (cousin Caley has an amazing voice) or she was remembering a time from before. It was hard to see someone's grandma or mother that way, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. One of those brief encounters that leaves a lasting impression. The kids walked away with lots of questions, and I walked away grateful that I have my mind intact. I won't be taking that for granted.

We are getting a real, live Christmas tree this year! I got the ornaments out of storage, and great news: none of them melted in the intense heat of the last six summers. The kids are thrilled. Ryan says we will sleep in the house for Christmas Eve, but if he doesn't go get my king size bed out of storage, there is no way I'm sleeping in that house. He can camp with the kids in the house, and I will be a pretty princess and sleep in my home sweet trailer. I was raised in Oildale for the first four year of my life, you know. Really though, maybe I'll pretend to sleep out there. I will stay up until they sleep, and then get back out there before they wake up. No one should have a grumpy mom on Christmas Day!

Today Ed choked Will and Will beat Ed. Then I interfered, separated the two and chewed them both out, making all manner of threatening statements and then walking away because I was so mad. I know, I know... boys. But it made me mad because I could HEAR the weird strangling noise from Will. Then I heard two "thumps" and the "Stop it! Owe! You hurt me! You weren't sharing! Mooo-ooommm!" And on and on. This, after I had just told them to cut it out and be nice, and blah blah blah. I about flipped out, as is becoming something of a Sunday morning habit for me. That, too, needs analyzing and a change. Being a parent is NUTS. Last week I lost it because not one child brushed their teeth or found their shoes when I asked them, and the boys were fighting in the shower. (My boys really do love each other, but they have shower issues. "He's taking my water! You didn't get me soap! Get out of the water!" This, with two shower heads. Amazing.) Well, this Sunday when I told them to go brush their teeth and find their shoes, they hopped to it. No, today was a steel cage death match, instead. Minus the steel cage. They were really good the rest of the day. Ed apologized to Will, and was penitent for the afternoon. Will actually cleaned up his mess without being asked... it was a small miracle.

I will take any and all small miracles.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Greek Yogurt Tastes Like Sour Cream... and other random observations.

  • Greek yogurt tastes a lot like sour cream except thicker. I'm thinking if one was so inclined, one could substitute the two! On pudding, potatoes, or maybe as an addition to a cake mix or cookies... personally, I like to mix it with Smucker's Low Sugar Strawberry jelly (tames the tang!) and then mix that with healthy cereal.
  • New running shoes really do make you run faster. The kids are right!
  • Why is it I can remember how to make a cootie catcher from the third grade, but can't remember where I put my favorite socks? (or anything else for that matter.)
  • Dieting/eating healthy feels good, but is hard. Why choose broccoli when you can choose garlic bread and cookies?
  • Did you know Cinderella went to the mall? I actually got into an "argument" with my three year old about this. Then I started laughing, and she got mad. 
         "No, serious Mom. Don't laugh. Cinnerella went to the mall." 
         "What did she do at the mall?" 
          "She danced with boys."
          "You don't dance with boys at the mall. You dance with boys at a ball." 
          "A ball? That's just silly mom. It's a mall."

  • Don't argue with a three year old. Especially one who is literal. You will always lose.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kacy's Turn

Got a phone call this morning from the school again. Kacy face planted on the cement and broke her glasses...and got these lovely scrapes on her face. How awesome is that that someone at the school sent this to me? I can't decide if it was her teacher or the secretary... I'm thinking it was the latter. 

How she managed to land on her face...aye! She needs to learn the "tuck and roll" method of falling. Poor girl. Poor glasses- they snapped in half on the bridge. She needed an appointment with the eye doctor anyway, so this just speeds the process.Ah, I look at this picture and my face hurts for her! Like Ed's black eye, it'll only get worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kids! (The Boys, Anyhow)

Typical. :)
 After we got our firewood delivered yesterday, Will picked up a piece and immediately said that he wanted to chisel a Tiki. Ryan helped him get started... he cut the mouth. Oak is a really hard wood. Not so easy to chisel a tiki from. He worked on it for two days.
 Ed is doing great... except that the school called today to inform me that while playing tag this morning, he ran into some playground equipment (essentially a metal pole, part of the monkey bars), and got a black eye. She said the funny thing was that he kept complaining about his chest, not his eye. His eye just started changing colors while he was in class. So, he's got a black eye, and he still says his chest is a little sore. At least he didn't get a concussion, like a friend's kid did. That was serious business, and would be a scary phone call. As it was, I kept waiting for her to tell me what awful thing he did to get in trouble. A black eye is awesome compared to what it could have been!

House Progress

A house update! Hooray, hooray... there is a light at the end of the tunnel. One of our biggest projects is almost finished... THE STAIRS. Here's a few pictures:

Door knobs are in: no more loudly announcing, "Goin' to the bathroom!" anytime we used a bathroom so no one would come in.
The fireplace and unfinished floor. We bought a cord of oak... oak burns so much nicer than pine. Pine will do in a pinch, but since our sole source of heat is this fireplace, we needed wood that will burn nice and slow. Our house is nice and toasty now.
Still a construction site in most the biggest room of the house. This is looking into the laundry room and back bathroom. Don't mind the plastic "curtains" and dirty floor. I tried keeping two living places clean, but I quit. Much too ridiculous to keep a construction site clean.

Part of the stairs... the unstained part is a landing. Not at all finished, but usable. We have railing supplies! I included this shot because it shows part of the loft. The ceiling is not yet finished. It'll be finished soon.
Looking from the kitchen into the front room. We kind of, sort of ran out of stain (again), hence the two tone stair area. We have since bought more. The archway on the left leads to our master bedroom. The archway on the right goes to the kids' room and bathroom. 

We will both be so glad when this project is finished. We can't wait to have some "spare time," and look forward to getting a normal life back in a couple of months. I will say this: using the shower and laundry facilities in this house has been a dream. I can't believe that I spent five years going to the laundramat (or using the laundry in the shed and a clothesline), and the RV shower just does not compare to a regular shower. It's heaven. Ah, can't wait.