Monday, January 27, 2014


My life is pretty repetitive.  Mundane maybe? I suppose some would think so.  But here are a few things I don't want to forget.

When one of the kids 'beats' the others to the front seat, the one who 'lost' will climb in the front seat and step on and bump and push the front-seat-winner on the way to the back seat.  Which makes them both laugh like crazy.  This is Jenna and Benson's favorite game lately.

Jackson made us move his car seat to the very back so he can sit in the back back seat.  Ironic.

Benson and Austin ask to have a 'sleep-over' almost every night.  But Ben likes to sleep up stairs with Jack and when Austin sleeps with them it is ridiculous.  Last night while we were reading "The Princess Academy" we had Austin, Benson, Jenna, Jackson, me and a couple of dogs in the same bed.

Jackson went to church with two different shoes.  If it was summer he would have gone barefoot.  I was just relieved to find one shoe for each foot!  And we were late.  And it was ward conference so the entire stake presidency saw us come in late.  And it was crowded so we had to split up and sit in the available spots.  I've been doing Sundays alone since the twins were nine.  You'd think I 'd have this figured out by now!

Dallin is Grumpy in the morning.  Maybe he will be better when he has a wife to kiss him first thing? Or maybe he will be happier now that his coaches decided to have him wrestle 195 so he can eat.  Hunger=grumpy with Dallin.

Considering the above observation, I have considered making Dallin and Landon and Austin get in bed at 10 so I can read Little House on the Prairie to them.  Again.  It worked when they were three...

Jackson likes to snuggle to sleep.  I lay by him in his bed (usually while we are reading) and he puts his face one inch from mine.  It makes me spontaneously kiss him.  A million times.  I love it.

I can live with two dogs easily.  Three is tolerable.  Four makes me crazy.  

Jackson was just making me draw stick people and he got super mad when I drew shoes on one of the guys.  Figures. 

I am completely aware that this is the best time of life.  Ever.  I don't want anything to change.  And I'm sure I'll say that next year and the year after and the year after...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to photograph puppies

Our latest puppies...
taking puppy pictures is fun but it is a lot of work!

I  have a few tips for my fellow amateur photographers.
All of them have been learned in the school of hard knocks!
(And for the record these tips work with kids too...)

1) Make sure the puppies have eaten.  Hungry puppies wiggle a. lot. When they get a bit older we let them nurse then take them out to the bathroom before we get started.  

2) Have two people.  At least.  It takes one quick puppy wrangler to get the pups in position and then dart out of the picture.  Fonda is an awesome wrangler!  

3) Keep them warm.  A heating pad is crucial to good sleeping puppy pictures. We place the puppies in position one at a time and then warm them up to put them back to sleep.  We use a long heating pad under the puppies and then another warm heating pad on top of them to put them to sleep once they are in position. This requires a lot of patience with a big litter!

But they are so cute!

4) Don't try to zoom in with the lens.  Use photo editing.  Clear crisp photos that are zoomed in require that the subject hold still for at least a mili-second.  Puppies (and kids) don't always cooperate... I have found it easiest to use a basic 25-75 mm lens and then crop the pictures to get the right framing. I have ruined lots of awesome shots when I had the lens zoomed in really close for the perfect adorable expression and the puppy lurched forward and ruined the focus.   

5) Try to have the light come in from the side.  

Here is a photo that just had ambient room light...

And then with light from the side.  
I love the soft glow...

But I wanted christmas lights in the background so I turned to photoshop. I cut and pasted the evergreen lights from another picture into the background.   This is a great You Tube tutorial for background switches.  In the blue wall picture below I just used the clone stamp tool to extend the background.  I love clone stamp... 

6) I generally like the Picasa editing software.  It is pretty simple and easy for an amateur.  I always crop then add fill light.  I usually add just a touch of boost as well.  Just enough to saturate the colors a little bit.  I almost always add a frame.  It is easier for me to pick out the photos I have edited when they are framed.  After I'm done editing I delete the photos that didn't make the cut. 

 If a photo is slightly out of focus then the sharpen tool can help correct that.  
Or sometimes I use the soften tool and make a just slightly out of focus picture look just right. 

Before editing...


7) Take a lot of pictures but organize them.  Just like with kids you never know when that perfect yawn will present itself so you need a thousand shots.  I'll easily have several hundred from one shoot.  Once you see the pictures delete away. Seriously.  Just delete anything that you don't LOVE.  It is time consuming and exhausting to sort through 200 pictures to find that one shot... 

I usually organize on Picasa.  I have a folder named for the specific litter I am shooting instead of by the date I took the pictures (I do pictures every week) and then I do an album inside the folder for the separate weeks of that litter.   That way I can find what I'm looking for and my family pictures aren't swamped with puppies.  If anyone has a better method I am all ears! 
I'm still learning my new Mac...

8) My most used tip is to get on the same level as the puppies.  I have taken a million pictures laying flat on the ground.  

And the most important thing is to remember that puppies are cute no matter what you do.  
That's what makes it easy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Don't tell the state troopers...and brothers

Austin turned 14 right after Christmas.  He also just passed the 6 feet tall mark.  6 and 1/4 inch to be exact... Though the boys say he's at least 6'3" with his puffy hair.  Gotta love curls...

So this New Year's Eve Austin was able to go to the stake dance.  The regional dance was out in Filer.  It's so nice to have Dallin and Landon driving! Nothing ruins a  New Year more than a drive to the middle of nowhere at midnight.  Austin said his brothers taught him some useful tricks at the dance.  Austin was having trouble asking a specific girl to dance and Dallin put his arm around him and asked "who's your target?"  Then he helped him get 'in position' to make asking easier.  Being a teenage boy is harder than it looks!

When the boys came home from the dance they had a confession.  Dallin got pulled over because one of the headlights on the suburban was out.  
He didn't have his license so he used Landon's.  
They said the cop didn't even look twice. 

Having a brother can be an advantage in so many ways!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A wintery sunday.

We've started another windy winter!
It seems January is always full of blustery sameness.  
It is fun to watch the kids activities.
Dallin and Landon have been wrestling which is always busy.

Dallin wrestling at the Buhl invitational

Dallin is wrestling 182 this year.  He dropped from 205 after football which means that he has gone to bed without dinner many times and he has sweated through about a million piles of laundry.  He actually lost 6 pounds on one two hour bus trip to Boise.  
He put on everyone's clothes and worked out the entire trip.  
I wasn't thrilled about that...
For the most part he has been able to maintain 182 without too much trouble.  
Originally the goal was for Dallin to wrestle in a different weight class than Landon.  Landon wrestles 195.  
Dallin and Landon don't like to wrestle each other.  
They never have.  
Back in pee wee wrestling they  once got paired up with each other after both had already won three of the four matches needed to get a medal.  
Neither wanted to lose nor did he want his brother to lose so they came up with a plan to tie--neither scored any points. 

Landon's shoulder is still injured.  He has been through months of physical therapy but the shoulders continue to pop out of the joint and are extremely unstable.   They hurt when he runs down stairs too fast or tries to jump rope. 
Actually both shoulders are injured but the left was worse than the right until last wednesday.  Landon was determined to wrestle in at least one meet...  
He won his first match (teched--that means they called the match after he was 15 points ahead) and he pinned in the second match.  During the second match he injured his not-as-badly-injured right shoulder and had to stop twice  to put the shoulder back in it's socket.  
The third time his shoulder 'popped' (as he says...) he said he knew he couldn't stop (only two injury time outs allowed) so he picked the kid up in a fireman's carry, threw him and then pinned him.  Ouch.  He still can't use his right arm for much but he's ranked #1 in the state of Idaho. I guess that's a good way to end his short lived wrestling year. 

Jenna and Austin are trying out for a play tomorrow.  Their first auditions ever.  
I think both will do great.  Jenna is especially nervous and keeps saying that she just wants to stay home but I'm making her do it.  
Benson is busy with basketball and riding his scooter every where he goes.  He strategically places the scooter next to his bed in the morning so he can ride to scriptures right when he wakes up.
Funny kid. 

This afternoon while I was getting dinner ready I heard Jackson howling downstairs so I went to investigate.  He was crying 'my brudder, my brudder,' because Austin had hit Benson in the face with a ball.  
The day that Austin and Benson play together without Benson ending up in tears will be a day to remember for sure...

Paisley's puppies are getting big and cute.  The last litter all looked the same but this litter has more variety.  (different dad).  Some are curly, some cream some have some white markings.  

I have a million organizing projects to get done.  Would't it be fun to live in a perfectly organized house?! I'll keep dreaming. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Poem 2013

I am finishing up 2013--getting ready to print.  I did our last books on blurb but I am in the market for a different publisher.  Any favorites?

Christmas this year
seemed quick as a wink. 
Time moves faster each year,
don't you think?!

Our highlight was Jackson
So fun and carefree
Our biggest achievement?
 wrapped presents under the tree!

His favorite gift 
was crawly and creepy
Hex bugs zip around
'til they make us all sleepy. 

A Christmas delivery
came from Paisley herself,
ten pups she delivered 
with no help from an elf! (only from me!)

The puppies are darling
they are already growing.
We think it's so fun
to see new life glowing!

The older's and younger's
all like the same things--
electronics and clothes
seem to make them all sing.

Jenna still likes dolls
Benson loves his new scooter
Austin schemes for new app's
on our new Mac computer. 

Dallin and Landon
are easy to please--
music, clothes and some money
cover all of their needs. 

Rustin and I are just happy 
to have everyone close.
Our kids bring us joy
more than anyone knows. 

Happy 2014!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A long winter's nap...

It's been a whirlwind around here!
I have lots to write about but tonight I'm just going to pick one place to start...

We had an early Christmas present!

 Early Christmas Eve morning Paisley delivered 10 puppies! She is at the Thompson's house this time.  I went over to help out around 4 am when Paisley started pushing.  The first pup was born at 4:45 and the last at about 10:45.  What a long morning for Paisley!

She did great.  She refused to eat or drink water for the entire day on the 23rd, but she did drink beef broth throughout her labor and delivery.  We always worry a bit about dehydration and exhaustion with 24 hours of not eating!  After nine pups,  Paisley went outside and ate a bowl of her favorite canned food (spoiled...) and finally, after an hour and a half, she got serious about pushing.

The last little girl had her tiny paw stuck up next to her head.  I got to play mid-wife and pull her out to help her make her appearance.  She perked right up after I suctioned her mouth and Paisley and I got her rubbed clean.  All the puppies are as fat as can be now--nursing all the time!

We had six boys and four girls.  We have a mix of tan and cream and we have four that are definitely showing curly coats.  It's fun to see them grow and change so quickly!

They are as adorable as all puppies are.  They nurse in their sleep.  So sweet!