G-Parents, Round Two

Ruthie’s one lucky gal. Yet again, she got a back to back visit from both sets of grandparents.

My parents swung through Arkansas on their way back from a three week RV adventure to the southeast and stayed a couple nights. There’s a decent golf course/rv park where they used to stay at until the park owners decided to only allow RV’s of a certain age. Well, our little Beulah (#2) didn’t make the cut, but they still called and asked to park there anyway. After admitting the year of the RV, there was a long pause and the guy said, “What condition is it in?”

Man, this is like the Spanish discotheque of RV parks. I remember once (okay many more times than once) while studying in Andalucía having to be surrounded by a group of people in order to get into a club because I (gasp!) wore tennis shoes. And, okay, a sweatshirt. Sue me. I was not a fancy college student. And it was cold. And I felt like wearing sneakers. My outfit in no way hindered my awesome Elaine Benes dance moves.

elaine-benes%20danceAnd if anyone would like a visual tool on how to perform said dance moves, here ye be:

elaine teachDid you hurt yourself? I know. Leave it to the professionals next time.

Anyway, so Beulah barely made the cut and be-bopped her way amongst newer versions of herself. Ruthie didn’t know the difference and of course immediately got comfortable at the wheel of this old beast. My brother and his dog came up to visit as well.

DSC_7125We talked about Survivor, their travel stories, and work.

I sat around waiting for someone to ask about any stories on the stay-at-home front. No one did, so we broke out the bubbles. This girl could chase bubbles all the live long day.

DSC_7128 DSC_7130
And then the kite was broken out. My mom said that my brother test drove it before we arrived and had to tell all the passers-by that the princess kite was not his. I wonder what kind of kite the newer RV’s brought. Probably hot-air balloons instead, actually.DSC_7132 The girls went inside to get supper ready. Ruthie wanted to stay out with the boys. DSC_7133Probably to avoid getting attacked by the lotion monster. Every time we see Grandma (which turned into Me-maw because my mom didn’t think Ruthie could pronounce Grandma…. which then turned into Mamie because Ruthie couldn’t pronounce Me-maw either. But Mamie was the name of my mom’s grandma so it worked. Anyway, every time  we see grandma/me-maw/mamie, she lotions up Ruth’s cheeks. Maybe I should quit sticking her face out the window down the highway.

After a quick dinner during which I made Ruthie show off everything she’s learned so far. (I only do this in front of her grandparents, but besides.. they love it.) My mom commented that Ruth comes off somewhat serious on the blog and was happy to see her silly side rearing its head in person.

Before we left, I asked for a photo of the three of them.

And that’s when I wanted to stand in front of an oncoming new RV.

How many times does it take? Seriously.

Open your eyes, dad:DSC_7138
Open your eyes, dad. Show me your teeth, Ruth:DSC_7139
Open your eyes, dad:DSC_7136
Okay, go back to closing your eyes. Please, for the love of God.DSC_7137
And finally, a decent one. DSC_7135
I was so happy they popped through!
The next weekend, Ryan’s parents came down on Ryan’s birthday for a couple nights. I made black bean brownies for the occasion because, let’s face it, I sure as heck wasn’t gonna be the only one with gas.

Ruth helped blow out the birthday candles. His mom’s birthday was a few days prior, so it worked out!

DSC_7164The weather was rainy, but we managed to sneak out of the house for a bit. Our library had a book sale going on, buy one get one free. With a car full of bibliophiles (including Ruthie), we walked away with a large loot.

Then we popped into our small town’s museum. And by ‘popped in’, I mean it literally took 8 minutes to walk through.


So we hurried home to go through our books. It’s like Christmas for us!DSC_7166
Then Ruth took a nap and Julia & I went garage saling. I can’t even remember what I bought, but I’m sure it was extremely essential to have. When she woke up, we broke out some of the things Jama made for her. I’m going to do a separate blog post on those things, they’re so fun! One of which was this Eye Spy game:DSC_7171
…complete with a camera to look through…DSC_7170I love games like this. Mostly because Ryan had just told us about an article he’d read about kids now needing therapy to quit their addiction to iPads, iPhones, etc. The therapist in the article said that detox was like coming off of heroin. We were Shocked! Appalled! Disgusted!

Hmmmm…. Looks like Ruth’s gonna get her first Intervention. She’ll only think it’s her second birthday party and then, bam! Off to Southern California to live with other addicted toddlers.

In other news, our mini library was rummaged through by Randy.

DSC_7189When Ruth went to sleep, Ryan and his dad peeled out of the drive drove off to live music while Julie and I watched a movie. It was a no biggie, nice weekend.

The next morning, Jama read Ruthie some stories before getting ready to visit Ryan’s brother and wife.

…so I asked them for a picture as well, dreading what I was sure to be an excruciating process like with my parents.
Heh. That was the first try. Take notes, dad.

Can’t wait for everyone to visit us again… it’ll be coming up quickly!!

The Blue Balloon

Have you ever seen The Red Balloon? It’s a silent French short film following a boy and his, well, red balloon. So sweet. Here’s a clip:

So when I asked Ruth to pull out a book to read, this is the one she chose. And guess what caught her eye.
DSC_7034BUE. BAWOON. She can’t say her L’s yet and ends each word like there’s a period and pause. BUE (end of sentence) BAWOON.

So I went into my trusty hanging shoe holder thing inside the closet where I keep some crafts for her and scrummaged around for a balloon.

Here are some her some stills from her own sweet short film. If only we had some french in us. Well, I kinda was, you know. I remember my first midwife, while carrying Ruthie, said something to the effect of… Didn’t you know that the average weight gain for a woman in France is 50 lbs?

I was sooo french, people.

Anyway, onto Ruth’s mini photoshoot with her own friendly balloon.
I really was going for an artsy blurry look.


Go out and find a balloon, everyone! They bring so much joy.

A New Favorite Place to Read

A conversation of sorts:

Me:      What should we do today? I want to do something. Maybe we could go to the library?

Ruth:   [pointing at her diaper] Potty? Poop?

Me:      Yes, we’ll probably go potty and poop today, you’re right.

[Ruth walks over to where her toilet used to be downstairs.]

Me:      Oh, it’s upstairs now in the bathroom… your toilet.

Ruth:   [pondering for a second, then…] Book!

book toilet

At least she’s making connections.

Bull in China Closet

I’m bound and determined to get these posts done before baby 2 comes along. I may even go back in time and finish some that were started but never saw the light of the blog’s day.

I guess I never really understood how hard it was to parent. First off, no matter who you talk to or what article you read, you’re doing it wrong. My compassion for other parents’ choices regarding any aspect of this 24/7 job has significantly increased since having Ruthie.

I’m now in the weird gray area of having Ruth unlearn a few things.

Like block towers for instance. When she was 8 months old we would squeal and clapped if she knocked down the tower. But now? Do I want her thinking it’s okay to knock down any ole tower she sees? Probably not.

So one day I set it up and made a big deal about not knocking down another person’s tower… just to see how long she lasted.
DSC_6959At first she waved her hand really slowly in front of it, looking at me out of the corner of her eye. She knows.
DSC_6967 And then tried to bribe me: You give me 5 goldfish crackers, I won’t knock this down MOTHER.
DSC_6963 See? I’m already in the wrong.

But quickly she was distracted by something on her finger. It was probably a booger. That’s worth about 10 goldfish crackers in her world.
DSC_6964 But then she spent the majority of the afternoon playing without touching the tower.
DSC_6972 ….or reading
DSC_6970 But then it caught her eye again…
DSC_6965 and got distracted again by possibly another booger.
DSC_6973 Staring at the tower and contemplating….
DSC_6966 So I played the Sound of Music and promptly balled my eyes out when the Captain sees his kids singing for the first time.
DSC_6976 That gave the tower an extra 15 minutes of life I imagine.
..and that was the last known photo of the tower before enough was enough and it had to come down.

Did you like your peek into my day of parenting. It’s pretty hard core. And I’m sure I did it wrong.

A Review of The Mobile-Homemaker; Or, Someone Actually Read My Blog?

Fair warning, this is being posted purely as a proud-blog-mama moment. You can roll your eyes at any time. I won’t mind. Mostly because I can’t see you. If I could, I’d probably blush and hurry to make fun of some aspect of my life so you’d like me again.

Anyway, for those of you who didn’t know (which I don’t know how you couldn’t know because I basically pinned everyone’s arm behind their back until they ‘liked’ my blog on facebook), I used to write a second blog called The Mobile-Homemaker. Well, because I lived in a mobile home and thought it’d be fun.

And it was! When all Ruth did was nurse and sleep. When she got busier, I started slacking. And then I moved. So I stopped. Partly because of the move, partly because I pressured myself to write every Tuesday and Thursday, and partly because I was feeling a wee bit over-exposed. The facebook page had almost 700 ‘likes’, which in blog world is piddly… but I was still surprised. So after moving, I decided to take down my blog and going private on my personal blog.

Before that happened though, apparently someone wrote a ‘review’ about it. My parents recently sent this to me from an online magazine my uncle reads. It’s been fun to look back at The Shack… so, enjoy!

The Mobile Home Maker


Sometimes I feel as if we are the only family in the world trying to live debt-free in an older manufactured home. Thankfully, there are people like Carolyn to remind me that we aren’t alone. There are thousands in the country doing the same thing, we just haven’t met them all, yet.


Carolyn is the woman behind 2 wonderful blogs called The Mobile-Homemaker and Cue The Banjo. She has a great wit about her and her comedy and straight forwardness is refreshing. Within 3 posts, I ended up feeling as if I had known her my entire life.

Her story is very typical of most living in a single wide. It’s either a stop along the way to a bigger home or it’s the finish line for living simple and debt-free. In her case, it was a stop along the way. She has since moved from this single wide into a town home but we still have the photos and her witty posts to share.

Here’s her story, in her own words:

I’m a 30-something stay-at-home mom who writes Cue The Banjo and forgets people’s names as soon as I meet them. Just warnin’ ya, it’s horrible.

I live with a mustache that has a man attached to it, my husband R, and we have one child (so far), her name is Ruth.

This is our journey of living lean and becoming debt-free. It’s also my personal swan dive belly flop into homemaking – aka, the most interesting job I’ve had to date. (And that includes selling dismemberment insurance at a telemarketing company).

I feel like I’ve started over from scratch as far as my mindset goes. Re-learning what should be valuable to my family and un-learning the Keeping Up With The Joneses mentality. Who do these Joneses think they are, anyway? Someone needs to give them a good kick in the rear, because they’re wreaking havoc on people’s psyches. Not to mention I bet they’re really boring with no imagination at all. Good riddance.

That didn’t sound jealous at all.

So, let’s start with the exterior of the mobile-home, or The Shack, as I call it.

Here she be, in all her glory. Don’t be afraid, she doesn’t bite.

We moved into The Shack in the summer of 2010 and it has taken me until now to upload photos of it, let alone come to terms with living in it. Not gonna lie, it looks like druggies live there. And the scary thing is, we don’t do drugs.

Yes, my friends, we have chosen with sober minds to live here.
Why? Well, I’ll tell ya. Take a seat.

It all started when I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye… too far back? Okay. In 2007, less than a year into our marriage, R and I bought a house in the cutest little area called Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, because that’s what you do, right? Get married, buy a home. The neighborhood was built in the 1940s and huge oak trees lined every street. Another young couple had just moved in next door and everything was quaint.

THEN. Then, less than two years after buying it, R got a job opportunity in Arkansas. Like, we had to move down within a month type of opportunity. And so, with the help of our realtor, we managed to get out of that mortgage within 2 months of listing it despite the already down-shifting of the housing market.

That’s when everything changed.

And when I say everything, I mean We changed.

We realized that our first apartment’s rent was 56% of our mortgage payment with just as much square footage and started paying off R’s undergrad & masters with that extra dough. I also came to appreciate obsessively salivate over passing the buck when something broke down. [In a British aristocratic voice] “Excuse me Landlady – I dropped a crumb on the carpet, please send someone up to shampoo itThanks.

Look, replacing a 60 year old sewer line that broke, while guests stayed for the weekend, will do that to a woman.

When we moved even closer to R’s job, we made the decision to rent the cheapest apartment available… putting us at 40% of our mortgage payment. We called it The Dorm Room because of the shoebox-size and, yes, slept in a loft bed slightly larger than a twin. This allowed us to pay off more of his loans, all the while going on trips, eating out, and donating to charities without feeling pinched.

That’s really the thing of it all, I don’t want to feel pinched. If that means living in a Dorm Room or The Shack, then so be it. It was cozy up in that loft anyway (read: hello Ruth!)
A year later, this beauty showed up. At a whopping 32% of our mortgage payment, we ran around like wild turkeys.

No literally, there’s a turkey farm 100 yards away.

Living off only one income now, that small rent payment is so incredibly worth the ugly exterior.

Carolyn’s single wide was a typical mid 90’s model (I think). Since they were renting, I’m sure she had to abide by certain rules. Yet, she ended up with a very nice home that was extremely affordable.

Here’s what she did:
dsc_4447 Master Bedroom

dsc_4449 Master Bedroom/Nursery

dsc_4844 Guest bedroom (love the shelving!)

dsc_4308 Kitchen Organization

dsc_4309 Kitchen Organization

dsc_4376 Very Stylish!

dsc_4380 Lovely Living Room

I’m sad to see they moved! It was nice to know that someone out there could make a house a home and laugh about it all the way.

No, the druggie reference didn’t offend me (it takes a lot more than that to get me offended). It is a typical association of manufactured homes but we do need to work on getting it gone as soon as possible. She was being funny and honest and I commend her for it.

Some manufactured homes are nicer than others, some just needs a little work and love to make them a great home. As witnessed several times on this blog, you can turn a single wide into a small mansion worthy of an HGTV feature. A home is what you make of it, whether it be a shack or a multimillion dollar estate.

You can still keep up with her through her 2 blogs The Mobile Home-Maker and Cue the Banjo.

As always, thanks for reading Mobile & Manufactured Home Living!


Last month, Ruth had some special visitors. Both sets of grandparents made an appearance! My parents came down just in time to babysit while I failed my glucose test. Luckily, my midwife gave me an additional few days to try to purge my body of all that sugar and retest again… which I passed. Barely.

Before I left for the glucose test of doom (in which I had to eat 27 jelly beans – poor little Carolyn! NOT.), my parents came to take over during Ruthie’s breakfast. She couldn’t stop staring at my mom. Probably because she couldn’t tell which gray headed lady at the table was her mom or grandma.
DSC_7001 Then she turned to look at grandpa who had immediately fallen asleep on the couch. Morning, dad.
DSC_6998 She quickly turned back to tell us Shhhhhh because Papa was sleeping. Can’t you see, you women??
DSC_6997 Mom made the unfortunate mistake of speaking again, which resulted in Ruthie yelling at us with even more force to SHHHHHHH!
DSC_7002 Mom didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
DSC_7004 So instead chose to just obey like a good little grandma.
DSC_7005 Ruth sure does love bossing us around.

The next weekend, Ryan’s parents came down to watch Ruth during our little jaunt. Somehow, not one photo was taken with our short time with them, but I did later take photos of something given to Ruthie from her Jama.

She made her a felt dress up doll! And yes, I squealed.
DSC_7092 But even better than that, she included in the accessory pile a picture of Ruth’s face. We laugh every time it makes an appearance.
DSC_7094But it always gets taken off a la guill0tine while searching for outfits to wear.
DSC_7096Slowly making a decision…
DSC_7098 And finally, my favorite scene:
DSC_7100Lay off the bubbles and tie-dye, Ruth. This ain’t no Burning Man festival.

Thank you so much Jama!

Bathing Beauty

Ruthie pooped last night, so Ryan gave her a bath.

I didn’t help this time. No, I, on the other hand, was snuggled into this girl’s couch eating popcorn and watching the 1998 version of Les Miserables. This was part two of a Les Mis battle between us, which started with a passionate rant sentence on my facebook wall on how Les Mis did not need to be redone. I don’t think either of us were really excited about seeing the other’s preferred version. But we did and I think it’s safe to say, we liked both. A lot. Jesyka, I no longer harbor a grudge against your loving the ’98 better, but mostly because you made me a decaf americano and had chocolate covered bananas on hand.

It’s only taken us several months to finally watch these movies. Between listening to her husband play banjo in his band, discount baby-crud shopping, and reality tv marathons, we’ve had other things to do. And other things to talk about. These Tuesday night dates have led us into other, deeper conversations which were three-fourths serious, one-fourth making fun of Basketball Wives. Hopefully I’ll have an update on one particular discussion in particular.

All this to say that I was sitting on that couch, heart hurting from the dang movie, when I got this text from Ryan:

How’s the movie? Ruthie just pooped all the way down into both feet of her pajamas. Les miserables! Je suis malheureuse.

I smiled and shoved another handful of popcorn in my mouth. Ah, to be the one not sending those texts. It felt glorious, my friends.

So Ryan had to tackle that one alone, but usually I’m there in the midst of bathtime.
DSC_7008 Ruth waits patiently for the bath to fill up.
DSC_7014And then Ryan swoops in to play with her bathtub music set.
DSC_7018 What do I do, you ask?

I’ve got the glamorous job of cleaning poopy cloth diapers.
DSC_7021 Let’s all give a moment of silence to toilet sprayers.

Thank you.

So, yes, when I got that text, you bet I snuggled deeper into the couch.

Easter Weekend

What a dreary dreary start to Easter weekend. Ryan had Good Friday off and we spent the day organizing and cleaning so we wouldn’t think about anything else on Saturday and Sunday. Little Ruth had other plans… like, getting sick Saturday night. So we three spooned our way into Easter morning and took the day slow. It ended up being a gorgeous day and we were thankful that Ruth could get some fresh air.

Before that, though, it looked like this:
DSC_7081 So after breakfast, I broke out an easy Easter craft for us to do.
DSC_7080 Ribbon, tissue paper, and contact paper. Now that’s my kind of craft project. I quickly cut an egg shape out of the contact paper, showed it to Ryan and he shook his head.
DSC_7083 That’s how we differ. I just jump in and get going, but he likes to make sure everything’s nice and straight and even before, I don’t know, laying down train tracks for instance. I’m pretty much my dad in that regard. I don’t know if the model train in their basement actually runs smoothly on the tracks, but man those are some nice mountains and trees!

Oh well. He’s a good complement to me.

I showed Ruthie how to get started and after crying for a few minutes (that should’ve been our first sign she wasn’t feeling well – she’s happiest in the morning), she got to it.
Me, in my squealing nature, got really excited that Ruth squished up the tissue paper before putting it on the egg. And as always with information overload, I then had to explain what “adding texture” was. She slowly turned her head to look at me. I took the hint and shut up.

DSC_7087 Then we ran over and put in our window.
DSC_7089It’ll probably be there all summer. Deal with it, people.

We also gave Ruth her Easter basket. Well, it wasn’t a basket, actually. I keep saying “next year” “next year”. I’ve got a lot of things to do before next year. I mean, for her first birthday, we grilled hamburgers and wrapped toys from her toy box. She was excited to see the soccer ball that she’d already been playing with for two months prior. It’s probably laziness (or being snobby), but I just can’t get into the whole first birthday party thing. Next year though. Next year will be fun!

So this Easter, however, instead of a basket, we brought in a little piano found during a thrifting venture on our weekend away. (It was given to her on our clean up day, so don’t judge.)
DSC_7039 She didn’t touch the keys for the first five minutes, but chose to inspect all sides of it instead.
DSC_7042We all breathed a sigh of relief when it passed her inspections.
DSC_7045 The audience was spellbound:
DSC_7049 and all it took was one gesture from the pianist to said audience member…
DSC_7047 before Cleaning Day was thrown out the window and recreating the theme song for Elmo’s World became the most important task of the day.
DSC_7061 Some nights we will literally watch him “composing” for thirty minutes straight. I can’t wait until Ruthie’s old enough where we can share side glances at each other, then giggle.
DSC_7062She has taken it to though, and every so often will run to her little shelf and pull out the one book that shows a muppet playing the piano.

Hope everyone had a good weekend and holiday. It, of course, went by way too fast.