Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 15

Since I've been so behind for the last few weeks I thought I'd spend some time writing a proper blog. You know, WITH WORDS. LOL! Time and words are such a rarity lately. It's nice to have a little of both on occasion.

I love these three people. They like to hang out together in the same room. Which is very sweet.

This last week has been Spring Break for us. It's the most mellow, yet busiest, spring break EVER. I've had an appointment (or three) every day. Today was my one day off. Then my dad called and said, "Hey, so-and-so is coming by at ten to give a bid."

Of course he is.

There went my one non-appointment day. LOL! But now that's over and I have a little bit of time.

On the plus side, my kids have been extraordinarily good. Or lazy… I guess that's two sides of the coin. Ha. They've pretty much entertained themselves this week.

Even with how busy I've been, this is the calm before the storm. The next few weeks are going to be chaos. I'm going to be a vagabond again, camping in my parents' new house (next door!) while work is being done here. And then we should get our stuff sometime in May. So it looks like I'll have to pack my things one more time and then one big unpacking before I can finally walk away from this lifestyle and say: I'M NEVER MOVING AGAIN. NOT. EVER.

Have I talked about my vegan journey? I have a label on here for it, so I suppose I have. :)

It's been going well. I feel better, that's the main thing. Actually, I feel AMAZING. I'm surprised at how different everything is, and that I was living in an existence where my body felt bloated and tired all the time.

Am I 100% vegan at this point? No. At home it isn't a problem. I've cleaned my life to where there isn't much in the way of meat products to tempt me. I have non-dairy substitutes for things like butter, milk and cheese.

Steven still grills himself a steak occasionally. Bekah will eat that with him. But Seth (who never liked meat to begin with) is thrilled not to have to eat it. Bekah, on the other hand, has always hated cheese. She's excited that it's not ever on the dinner menu. And both kids prefer Silk over milk. It has been a relatively easy switch.

My issue comes with restaurants (mainly when my parents are in town because that's when we eat out). Here's something to think about: If meat (and animal byproduct) should not exceed 10% of your daily intake of food, it's a huge problem that there is some form of animal byproduct in EVERYTHING (milk, eggs, cheese, butter). You don't notice it till you look for it, and then: wow. Not good.

Now take that and apply it to restaurants. Even their "vegetarian menu" is loaded with eggs, cheese and dairy. There's usually not a single item on the menu that you can order to fit a vegan lifestyle. And that, my friends, concerns me. Why are we so hooked on animals when things that grow from the ground are so much healthier for you?

When I originally started this journey I labeled myself as "vegan-ish." Meaning: I wasn't planning on sticking to this diet 100% of the time. That has come true in the sense that, while I do eat vegan 100% at home, when I'm out I'll take the broiled fish option (really, my only choice in most cases).

I had never planned on being strict about this diet. But. Then. That all changed when I felt amazing. I can't deny the results. For the first time in my life I eat whatever the heck I want and the weight is shedding (not that I needed to lose any, but hey, I'll take it!!!). I don't count calories at all. Perhaps I should, because realistically you can't eat 100 oranges and not expect to gain weight. ha. I'm not eating 100 oranges, though. I'm eating normal. There is such a freedom to that: to enjoying food and having a healthy relationship with it instead of looking at it as if it's the enemy.

There are moments when I crave sugar. Refined sugar is bad anyway, but the bigger downside is that it usually goes hand-in-hand with butter fat. So. :(

But I can't help that craving.

I've put in some strategies that seem to help. I bought a blender for fruit smoothies. That's curbed the need a lot. And when that doesn't work, there's always the cookie dough from Whole Foods made from soy and natural sugar. And when the need is REALLY, REALLY bad? I can drive to Sprinkles and purchase (only one!) vegan cupcake. But that's only a last resort because it's a trek, man. Plus, I'm pretty sure they're using refunded sugar. NOTHING tastes that amazing without refined sugar. haha.

Let me start this set of pictures by going on a slight tangent about the Dr. Pepper. I banned soda from the house over a year ago. Maybe almost two years ago. This whole time Steven's been sneaking it, which is fine. Whatever. He's a grown man.

Then. We've had visitors these past few weeks and it's come to light that he has all manner of contraband hidden in the garage and his office. Uh, huh. He's now gotten bold and in two of these pictures you can see he's been drinking soda in the house. I need to crack down on that again.


Steven started his new job this week. We're all sad not to have him around during the day. I can't tell who's sadder: Yuki, the kids, or me. haha. We've gotten spoiled with daddy home!

This job may or may not be the next "forever" job. We'll see how it plays out. But it does have some huge perks. The best one being: he's home by 3:30! SO AWESOME!

BTW: that's my new kitchen table. I can't wait to see it in conjunction with the rest of my furniture. It's gonna look amazing! I'm really thrilled with it.

I’m so excited about this picture. It was a shot in the dark (literally).

Seth has decided that he loves hanging out underneath his bed. He’s made it into a little cave where he plays video games. It’s seriously random, I know. But it’s one of those things where I just roll my eyes and move on. Except for that time when the carpet guy was measuring and Seth popped out from underneath the bed and gave the dude a heart attack. Now THAT was funny!

Anyway. So he was under there, playing video games and I wanted a picture. The problem is I didn’t have a light to meter off. The only light source was from his iPad and I couldn’t meter that because his face was down, the light just peeking over the edges of the blanket. I was banking on the fact that when he heard me, he’d look up, thus lighting his face. So my settings? I guessed based on prior success/failure in other situations such as this one.

Like any wild animal in their natural habitat, you have to stalk your prey so they won’t disappear. I low-crawled down the hallway so that I was positioned outside his door, looking through the underside of his bed. I put my 24-70 on 70mm and hit the focus button.

… And that was a no-go. It was too dark to catch focus.

Now, I suck at manual focus on a good day. But: On my belly, camera at an angle, glasses pushed into my eyeball, in the dark? YEAH, RIGHT! Like that’s gonna happen.

Seth heard my lens struggle to focus and looked up.

Which meant I had seconds (!!!) to react before he’d disappear. I flipped my lens from auto focus to manual, shifted my focus ring to where I thought his eye was in focus.

Prayed and clicked.

I got one shot before he moved so that I could only see the top of his head. I then chimped my viewfinder.

When I realized I’d NAILED it against all odds, I started frantically crying, “I GOT IT! I GOT IT!!!!!” Not only was the exposure perfect (I didn’t change it at all in post), I’d managed to get it in focus, which was the greater accomplishment of the two, letmetellya.

Seth huffed, “Mom, you’re so WEIRD!” Then he grabbed that blanket and pulled it over him so he was hidden from view.

And that, my friends, is how you stalk an animal in the wild. BOYAH!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 14

Dear Google/ Blogger,

Why are the two photos above in sepia tint?! The files are NOT sepia. They are the exact same shade of black and white as the other three pictures. I've tried to upload the file three times and each time it's the some random shade of sepia!

A. Different. Shade. Each. Time. Like a multi-colored rainbow of DOOM!

I don't understand! HOW is that possible?! How (AND WHY!) are the colors changing?! Color should be static on a jpeg file, THAT'S THE POINT!

It's so bizarrely weird, I can't help but to comment on it.

Still scratching my head.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 13

I'm a week behind. Esh. *gulp* I figured I'd better get a post up before I'm due for another.

These last two weeks have been as busy as I predicted. My parents were out two weekends before. Then this last weekend Steven's parents, my parents and my brother. And now my parents are here through this week. It's been a full house. Not to mention that every day has appointments scheduled. I feel asleep hard last night.

This is the first time I've been on my computer in over a week. Which is crazy, if you think about it. And my life shows no signs of slowing down at least for another two-ish months.

I edited a bunch of pictures this morning and then realized that, although I liked a lot of them, I really loved the pictures of the kids wrestling Steven. I, uh, kind of started this fight because I tried to tickle his feet (which he didn't appreciate). And when he retaliated, I called in my troops. Don't mess with mom. ;)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 12

There’s been a lot of creativity flowing this week. Woo hooo! I was beginning to think I’d lost it all.

My current manuscript has been lingering… and lingering… and lingering. I’ll be honest: I knew there was something wrong with it, but I couldn’t say what. I worked on it, pressing forward, without any intention of showing it to anyone. Or really, polishing it. Because with experience comes knowledge of when it’s NOT right. Plus, I didn’t love it.

For me "love" doesn't come with a Shiny New Idea. It comes later when the book morphs into something more. And everything I've put into place suddenly makes sense.

I can't put it out there until I love it. Mostly because it's a tough business and I have to believe in my work more than anyone else. You'll get eaten alive if you feel like it's "good enough." Because "good enough" is NOT good enough. Not to me. I want to walk away from every manuscript thinking: This is the best of my ability. It's the best of what I've created to date.

Because that's the only thing I can control.

This last weekend I was slogging through a scene that I’ve never been able to make work (which is a sure sign that there’s SOMETHING wrong) AND IT HIT ME, RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES, where I messed up with this book.


On one hand, I’m deliriously happy that I’ll finally be able to fix it. On the other, why couldn’t I see the problem before now? UGH! It’s SO OBVIOUS. My brain always knows these things before it’s willing to tell me. I already have the groundwork laid.

That's how it works. I've created the book to sustain this new depth. Yet, I don't see it's there for quite a long time. Annoying. Can't I be perfect out of the gate? haha. ;)

That leaves me with making a plotting list for this revision. Because it’s going to be a quite extensive, but necessary revision.

I’m PUMPED, though. This book is the bomb now. So excited.

First time I’ve been able to say that!

This week I’ve also managed to take a few photos that I love. Which. My photography has been suffering from the blahs. I'll admit it. There's a difference between the times I consciously try to be present and take a photo showing what I see in relation to the story I want to tell, and when I'm simply picking up the camera because that's my habit.

It makes a huge difference. Something I'm well aware of, yet don't often follow through with.

Overall, between the writing and the photography, I feel a wave of fresh creativity. I need to latch onto it and ride it for a while.

The kids are determined to start a YouTube channel. I'll be honest, I'm not sure if this is going to work. I did allow them the use of one of my cameras (under threat to treat it with extreme care).

They spent the majority of the weekend filming. And who do you think they expect to edit the episodes?

*blink* *Looking around* *blink* *blink*

If they manage to get some usable footage, I can commit one day a week, at most, to editing and uploading. We'll see.

I have no idea what they’ve recorded so far. All I know is that they’ve recorded A LOT. I’m constantly changing the battery.

Looking forward: It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks around here. Nearly every day has something on the calendar. I can’t wait for summer! I need to sleep in. zzzz. In the meantime I have a book to revise.

Later, peeps.

Friday, March 21, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 11

In my mind I already wrote and posted this blog. Imagine my surprise when, on Friday, I realized I hadn't. Ha.

You're more than welcome to take that as a metaphor of my life. ;)

This picture (above) was taken the day before he "trimmed" his beard, in which he ended up with a goatee. So his look went from homeless chic to serial killer.


I have to put up with the changing facial hair for a while, I think. It's the downside to being forced to shave for 20 years. Maybe -- EVENTUALLY -- the crazy beard style will relax with time. We'll see.

I will say that my husband is beyond amazing. There were several things that were causing me great anxiety and he fixed them for me this last week. One being the unorganized toys in the playroom.

He reconfigured the master closet so that I could move my things from the kids playroom closet into the master bedroom closet, and then he built shelves for the kids.

It's amazing to have all the toys put away. They won't admit it, but the kids are MUCH happier with an organized toy closet.

I took the kids to the doctor for the random vomiting. I waited so long because there were no other symptoms. No pain, no fever… NOTHING. And even the vomiting only happened once a week, or so. I thought they had some sort of random bug that would go away on its own.

Then Bekah vomited AGAIN Tuesday night and I thought: I'M SO OVER THIS. I made an appointment despite her very LOUD protests against seeing the doctor (because according to her she was FINE).

Turns out she has a major infection. Like, I'm surprised she's not writhing in pain. And had I let it go another day or two, she would have ended up in the hospital.

Let's all hope that after a round of antibiotics the puking will be taken care of, m'kay? LOL

I need to get serious about polishing my next manuscript. I know I keep saying that and then EVERY WEEK something happens that forces me not to work on it. Blah. And I also need to say "polish" rather than "finish," because my mom asked me, "How much have you got left to write?" Which confused me because I'd finished the actual writing back in October.

But. Then.


So… Yeah… That polishing needs to happen STAT.

Until next week, peeps! Later.

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 10

I have no idea what I did last week. A bunch of items on my To Do list, but nothing interesting to speak of. I still need to get my taxes done. Nothing like waiting till the last minute! Some things never change.

I received my vegan cookbooks in the mail. I've only gone through one and a half. I really need to make a meal plan this weekend and then hit the grocery store (a place I loathe).

Um… What else?

I got my Veronica Mars download, but for some reason we're having a difficult time hooking up the Apple TV. I didn't hook it up when I moved here, and it never got done. It wasn't on the priority list. But for the Veronica Mars movie? It got moved up to: GET IT HOOKED UP NOW, NOW, NOW! ;)

So I'm impatiently waiting until that gets worked out before I can watch VM. Or maybe I'll just crawl into bed with my laptop. That sounds like a perfect Friday afternoon if you ask me.

Until next week, peeps!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 9

This has been SUCH. A. CRAZY. WEEK. you have no idea.

Oh, and I talk about vomit (AGAIN!) in this blog. So… be warned.



My sister had her baby last week. Friday night the kids and I jumped in a car and zoomed out to take baby pictures. My SIL, Melissa, was the art director. She's fab. It took a lot of pressure off having another set of hands.

Here's Melissa's littlest getting in the baby basket. She wanted pictures too! xo.

My brother, Troy, swung by (or flew by *wink*):

And the two big brothers helped me test the light. Cutest helpers ever.

But enough of those knuckleheads, you want to see the baby, right? RIGHT. 

Here's Myles. I love him. He's so cute! And alert. Though, the "alert" part wasn't so fun when trying to take baby pictures. haha.

Then I drove home and attend WPPI this week. Or, what I could of it considering I didn't have my husband around for babysitting and my kids were vomiting EVERYWHERE. 

What is up with this vomiting thing? But more? Why can't they get it in the toilet? I think they've sprayed every surface of my parents house, my car, this house… and yet NONE of it has ended up where it's supposed to. Even when they hold a bag or a bucket in their hands!

By Wednesday I'd had it. I told Seth that he had to help me clean his mess up. He gaged the whole time and complained that it was "disgusting." Uh, yeah. DUH.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 8

Another week flew by. I'm starting to characterize 2014 as the "Year of the Exhaustion." ha.

I am happy that I'm maintaining this project, though. The pictures have morphed into a journaling exercise. At the end of the year at least I'll know how my days were spent. Because they're blending together at this point.


Lots of time was spent this weekend getting the kids' science project poster boards together. zzzz.

At least it's over. Except that, they turned them in on Monday, and then on Tuesday Seth was assigned ANOTHER project.

It's one project after another! Not happy about that.

This next assignment is a group project (which also sucks). But I realized that I got the new cell for the kids just in time. Random kids calling my cell would drive me batty. I set some ground rules (as in: Seth will NOT be doing the majority of the project because OF COURSE he volunteered for all the hard parts. SIGH) and then I'm staying out of it.


I haven't done anything on my manuscript in weeks. I'll admit it.

I don't know what's wrong with me. Well, I do know what's wrong with me. My life is unsettled and overwhelmingly busy. That makes it difficult for me to concentrate for the short periods of time I can manage to scrape together.

I keep opening the file. Staring at it. I even went so far as to come up with another idea so I could write something fresh to see if that helped.

Still nada.

So… I really need to focus. Or somehow make those tiny moments work for me. Though, that seems nearly impossible.

I keep writing the same update on this blog. Part of it is that I need to be held accountable. It makes me feel terrible that I'm not progressing each week. I'm hoping at some point feeling this way makes me fight harder.

… or something.


This week I implemented dietary changes that I've considered for a while. I'm going to start skewing several of the family meals per week toward a meatless/dairyless diet.

Not full vegan. I can't/won't make that kind of commitment. Because, honestly, I'm not giving up sushi. No way. No how.

Or leather. I look damn good in leather. And the cow is already dead, so that seems like a waste. ;)

Bottom line: We don't need to eat meat in every meal. If it doesn't need to be there, we don't need to eat it.

My biggest hangup to a full vegan diet is "faux meat." Why would I want to put wheat gluten (processed at that!) in my body instead of meat? The whole point of cooking like this in the first place is that I want to eliminate most (if not all) processed foods.

If it's a recipe that requires meat, we'll eat meat. I just don't want the majority of what I prepare to be recipes requiring meat. haha.

I didn't want to get stuck in a food rut either -- because I totally could eat the same meal over and over again and be perfectly content. My family is another story. So I ordered four cookbooks (1 vegetarian and 3 vegan). They should get here sometime next week-ish. I'm looking forward to new dishes!

[I typed "week-ish" and it autocorrected to "weakfish." I didn't know that was a word, let alone another name for trout! Learn something new every day. huh.]

In the meantime, I've been experimenting with what I have in the fridge. The recipes I've found online are generic and don't look appetizing. Plus, I wanted to have several dishes that are meatless versions of what I normally make.

I managed two pretty good dishes in a row (according to me, don't ask the kids because they hate everything) and then a disaster meal last night. In the end it was edible, but man, I'm going to have to do some tweaking to that one before it will be on the rotation.

Honestly, this change hasn't been difficult for me at all. I've been nearly all-veggie for a year. The only difference it made was that instead of making a "family" meal and a "me" meal, I'm making one and they can deal with it. So that equals LESS work for me, not more.

All in all, a very good change!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 7

I have NEVER been good at knowing what days my kids have off from school. I'm, like, the worst parent ever when it comes to that stuff. It started when Seth began Kindergarten and I took him to school on the wrong day. I guess it's just continued.

It used to be okay when they rode the bus. Because if there wasn't school, it didn't show up. And then sometimes it came home early and I thought: wow, guess it's a half day. LOL



So this year I was going to be responsible. Before they started the school year I went to the online school calendar and put every single day off they had in my personal calendar. It's worked okay so far.

And. Then.

We were supposed to leave for the Big Bear Friday afternoon (after school) so that we could spend the holiday weekend away. Being the lazy person I am, I didn't bother packing early (because, why?). That's what Friday morning is for, right? haha.

Seth and Bekah both told me they had Friday off. But. I didn't believe them. Because I CHECKED the school calendar. And when they began insisting, I checked again. There was absolutely no day off listed. So I basically told them they were crazy.

Well, I literally told them they were crazy.

And I hadn't bought Valentine's Day cards because they had been sick that week. I figured we'd get them after school on Thursday, fill them out that night, and call it good.

So there I was on Thursday afternoon when I got a text from Steven. He said (paraphrased): Hey, it's a madhouse at school (like it only is before a holiday). Am I sure that they don't have school on Friday?

I checked the school calendar again. Nada. But then I decided: Hey, you know what? They email me a newsletter every Monday (that I don't read). Maybe I should check that before I tell him that I'm positive.

Wouldn't you know: No school on Friday.


Which meant that their Valentine's day party was that day (Thursday) and they didn't have Valentine's Day cards. They weren't thrilled. Not that they gave me too much crap for it. Because my kids know me. I'm sure it's not the last time I'll screw up.

I really am a great mom. My kids dig me. There are just some things that I'm not good at. I've learned to accept this and move on. No one can be perfect. With this kind of stuff, it's obvious I never will be.


At least I tried.

We ran around like chickens on Thursday afternoon and managed to get out the door by 4pm. Yes, I was impressed too. Note: this only happened because Steven did all the laundry that morning.

I am lucky.

That gave us another full day at the cabin. Which was really wonderful. Time away (especially without internet) is always nice. Though, the sickness followed. Bekah puked AGAIN from the top bunk in the cabin. And AGAIN slept through it.

The sickness is still lingering too, even though they're back at school (because they don't have fevers and are perfectly fine during the day). Last night Seth vomited all over the hallway wall. My kids really need to learn how to get to a toilet. It would be super helpful.

^I obviously didn't take this one. ;)

The kids have to put together their Science Project poster boards this weekend. Really looking forward to that (haha, not). At least all the work is done, they just need to assemble it. And I have to take some final pictures and get them printed. I'll be so happy when that's finished.

Aaaaand. That's it. Bam! Check you next week, peeps.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014: Photo Project, Week 6

I should have posted yesterday. You guys will just have to forgive me. My life kind of exploded.

And by "exploded" I mean: Vomit.

… I realize I post about vomit a lot. Sorry about that. LOL….

The kids have been sick. They finally went back to school today. THANK GOD.

Seth came home halfway through Monday, sicker than I've seen him in a long time. Monday night Bekah started complaining that she didn't feel good either. I'm a bad mom and totally didn't believe her (I'll admit it).

Tuesday when Steven got up to get Bekah ready for school, he quickly came back into our bedroom to announce that she wasn't going to be attending that day. She'd thrown up in the middle of the night (while asleep, mind you) from the top bunk. She sprayed down the bed, the entire bottom bunk, across the floor and covered the dresser on the opposite side of the room.


The sickness fun continued after that.

The were other things beside vomit that happened this week. Thinks like: the plumbing in one of the bathrooms exploded which means the ceiling in the kitchen flooded.

FUN TIMES! haha.

They repaired the drywall yesterday so now I have a ceiling again.

I could totally continue with a rundown of my life. But I'm going to spare you. Let's just say: I really, really, really love my life. I have an AMAZING family and pretty much there's nothing to complain about. But just sometimes I wish that it would all slow down, you know? Like, only one thing should go wrong a week, instead of a million. ;)

Because I was late (and because I can't decide -- haha) you get a bonus picture.


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