Jul 30, 2008

Boston with 2 moms and 7 kids.

After much deliberation Rachel and I decided Monday was the day to go to Boston. So after we spent the entire morning getting Miriam and her friend Julie off to EFY at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 1:30pm in the afternoon finally found us in the car on our way. I got out of the house with only Tatiana and Amanda since Zach and Brian were at work and everyone else had already seen Boston 3 times and were all required to go on the New York City trip the next day. Natalie was not happy to be left behind but if you are crying before it even begins it is not a good sign. It was a little wierd to be leaving so late. I am a "get up and go in the morning" kind of girl. But I realized in the car on the way to Boston that the words plan and organization are never involved when I go to Boston. It alarms me how I am learning to live so dangerously. I did not even know for sure what exit to get off. And I had NO map. I know.....CRAZY. But since there were no adorable husbands involved Aunt Rachel and I figured it out without any grumpiness and we also.....gasp...asked a few random people directions and convinced a very unsure parking attendant that yes, the 15 passenger van would fit in his lot. (and by the grace of God it did :) And we actually did the whole Freedom Trail plus Boston Public Gardens. We spent $15.00 on parking. $10.00 on tolls. $70.00 on gas (love that van). Ate at McDonalds at 9 at night. And stopped at Wal Mart on the way home.

Here is a picture of Tatiana, Emily and Kate, with the Boston skyline in the background. This is where the USS Constitution is and we started here and ddi all the sites I had previously seen and told you about.

By the time we got to the street across from Fanueil Hall thankfully there were some amazingly fun fountains. So we all rested, ate an entire box of crackers, got soaking wet and did some people watching. Everything you need to rejuvinate yourself for more history.

This is where we turned the corner that I had never been able to get past on previous trips to the Freedom Trail. And actually it was a little sad how little of the trail was actually left after this point :) But see the look on Tatiana's face...... multiply that look times at least 5 other faces and voices and that my friends is why previous attempts to get past this spot had failed. After this we walked by the spot where the Boston Massacre occured. We saw the Old State House where James Otis opposed the Writs of Assistance thus inspiring John Adams to say, "then and there the child independence was born." We saw the Old Corner Bookstore (now a jewelry store) which was built in 1718 and became a literary center. Where Henry (Wadsworth Longfellow), Harriet( Beecher Stowe), Louisa (May Alcott), and Nathaniel ( Hawthorne) all brought their manuscripts to be published. And we also saw The Old South Meeting House where on December 16, 1773 Samuel Adams launched the Boston Tea Party. Our next stop was the Granary Burying Ground. I would never have described myself as someone who took pictures of gravestones but there was something about seeing where John Hancock, Mother Goose, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams among many others were buried that changed my ways. All the victims of the Boston Massacre were also buried in this cemetery. There were buildings on all sides of the cemetery and it was worn but how could it be any different?

We finally made it to Boston Commons the last or first stop on the Freedom Trail. (depending on where you start). There was a lot of people taking advantage of the park. But our main goal was to get through the park to the Boston Public Gardens where we knew Mr and Mrs Mallard had finally settled with their ducklings. Thankfully Robert McClosky had included the name of the street the ducks had crossed to get to the Public Gardens in his book so we were able to fairly quickly find it. After walking through the not so neat Boston Commons and arriving in the Public gardens I was struck by how clean and neat the public gardens were. They really were beautiful. We were not sure where to begin looking for the statues of the ducklings so while we were getting our bearings the kids discovered real ducks, a goose with a tendency for hissing, and a squirrel. The squirrel reminded me of the extremely tame and bold squirrels we had seen in Princeton NJ when we lived there so I told the kids about those squirrels we used to sit outside of Princeton University and feed while we were waiting for our dad to get done with work. Of course after hearing that they all wanted to have some Ritz crackers to feed the squirrel with. And lo and behold I was right. Amanda held out a cracker to the squirrel and with his little paws shaking like a squirrel with an extreme Ritz cracker addiction reached out and took the cracker and I got this picture of him munching away. Of course after that everyone else tried in vain to feed any squirrel we saw. We finally found the statues of the ducks from the book Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky. There were a lot of people taking pictures of them and a lot of kids climbing on them. It is amazing that this book has made this park so well known.

At this point it was about 7:30pm. We had been discussing on and off the possibility of using the subway to get back to the car and at this point we decided to do it. It turned out to only be $5.00 for all of us to ride the subway up to the nearest station by the car. And it is crazy how the subway is always the highlight of the trip. By the time we got home it was 10:00 pm we got everyone into bed in record time since we all had to get up at 5:30am for our 2 moms, 2 dads and 11 kids in New York City day. And I will tell you all about that tomorrow.

Jul 27, 2008

Prone to messes.

Do you have a child that is just bound to have bad things happen to them? Miriam is that child in our family. She breaks things. She ruins things. She makes messes. She forgets important ingredients in recipes and she stains clothes. But in her defense she is my most compassionate child. And she has an incredible conscience. And she is so gosh darn funny in her use of words that all is quickly forgiven. All that said here is the picture of her latest mess. She was going to make cookies and she managed to dump an amazing amount of flour on my floor you cannot really tell from the picture how deep that flour is. When I saw the mess I announced to her that she made the blog with this one.

Which reminds me do your kids constantly ask you when something happens if you are going to blog about it? Mine do. Do they often tell you what they think you should blog about? Mine do. It makes me feel stubborn :)

Oh and just to let you know my sister Rachel, her hubby Bernd and their 5 kiddos arrived on Saturday at 5 pm after driving from Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania and they will be here until Friday. We have an enormous list of "must do's" to pack into the week. New York City on Tuesday. Beach in Rhode Island. Climbing Hubelin Tower in Connecticut. Freedom trail in Boston (can't you not wait to see if I actually get to hike the whole trail this time?). Plymouth Rock and oh so much more. So I off to wear out yet another visitor. I will blog as much as I can :)

Jul 25, 2008

A thank you note.

Dearest owners who feed me and take care of me,

I really want to thank you for all you do for me. At first I thought it was just mad hot luck that I discovered the enormous package of paper towels hiding in the storage room in the basement. What makes finding them all the more sweeter is that you always have the door to the storage room shut so I have to be very alert to actually get in there. But I always know that if one of the kids accidentally lets me in that room I am guaranteed lots of time to practice my shredding skills since they hate to catch me and throw me out of there.

I also have to say that keeping the one roll on that strange decorative black metal thingy in the kitchen on the counter was genius on your part and has saved me many a time when I had not been able to get into the storage room to properly practice my shredding skills on the big package of paper towels.

And I would be extremely remiss if I did not express my gratitude to you for having toilet paper. The way it just dangles there fluttering in the air conditioner was the first thing that caught my attention. But buying toilet paper that had the plastic wrapping on the outside really was what made me realize how much you loved me. I have never had owners that cared so much about challenging me. Did you notice how I pulled the wrapped toilet paper out of the adorable basket you put it in and unwrapped it before I shredded it? This was when I started to realize I needed to do something for you and I started dragging my precious pieces of toilet paper to your room and piling them under your bed. I was planning to make you a craft project with the pieces.

I don't want to brag but I have some mad hot shredding skills. And I have been really wanting you to notice them. And I realized you had noticed them when you left out your "for company only" Vanity Fair napkins. They could possibly be my most favorite tasting paper product ever.

I am aware that you were able to get some incriminating pictures of me cavorting with the toilet paper and I would beg you to to wonder WWJD when you are tempted to post these pictures of me on your blog. Can you imagine what all my cat friends will think of me?

And while I am writing to you I want you to know that I am working on how to open the bathroom door where I know you hide the trash cans I love to knock over.

Most sincerely,


Jul 24, 2008

Check this out right now!!

Okay girls and guys if you know anything about the Twilight books you should check out this link. My sister Rachel told me about it and it is so funny and we all must always share funny.



Last night was the night that almost everyone went to the church for activities. Tatiana was here but she was playing with a friend down in the basement and Zach was here but he was in his room reading leaving Natalie and I all alone. We did a quick pick up around the house and then got books and jumped into my bed. I read her a whole bunch of her books and then I told her she could lay there and look at books while I read my book about Ebay. I tried to impress upon her that this was quiet reading time which meant no talking allowed but she cannot resist the urge to gab. She was talking non stop which really cramped my reading style. So I was half listening, half reading. She had spent a big part of the day at her friend Shannon's house and so she was talking about that and all she did. All of a sudden she had my full attention when:

She says "I think I have some of Shannon's things from her house."

I said very casually "oh really, like what?"

At this point she climbed off the bed and went to get the bag she took with her to Shannon's. She always takes a bag with a change of clothes and a few toys. Usually she chooses a small bag but this time she took a bag that is actually for carrying sleeping bags in. It was red and large with a draw string.....looked like a Santa sack. When she left the house it had 2 Barbies and 3 My Little Pony Movies in it. When she dragged it onto my bed it was already clear something was not right. Because the word dragging had to be involved. So she opened the bag and started pulling stuff out and describing. A common phrase in the describing process was "this is Shannon's." After exactly 17 things of Shannon's were sitting on my bed I finally asked, "Does Shannon know you have this stuff?" Hoping maybe they had made a trade, a very unfair trade, but a trade. But right at that moment her Barbies appeared out of the bag and I knew there was no hope of this being a trade situation. So I said casually, "Hey did you know if you take something and you did not ask it is stealing?" She became offended and said, "I did not steal." So we talked some more about that I am sure you know how the conversation went. I had that conversation with my mom when I was about 6 and stole a lime green zipper from a fabric store.

So Jenn (Shannon's mom) here is the list of items you are missing :) Don't worry I won't sell them on Ebay.

#1. a Minnie Mouse stuffed doll
#2. a gold plastic princess crown.
#3. a orange My Little Pony.
#4 a little white My Little Pony
#5. a fuschia My Little Pony
#6. a lavender My Little Pony with jacket.
#7. a pink My Little Pony with full outfit.
#8. a Polly Pocket wearing a sparkly princess dress and one shoe.
#9. a purple My Little Pony with flowery skirt.
#10 A pair of purple My Little Pony Shoes with butterflies on them.
#11 a tiny blue My Little Pony on a lime green stand
#12. Backyardigans The Secret of Snow book.
#13. Littlest Pet Shop Sweetest Easter Ever Activity book ( that Madeline is eying right now)
#14. Barbie Winter Wonderland book ( Barbie in this amazing red coat with sparkly fur on the cover is even mesmerizing for me :)
#15. If You Give A Pig A Pancake book (which we own)
#16.The Usbourne Cats and Kittens book ( which has a cat on the front that looks just like our Kittromney.)
#17. a big, fuzzy, touchy feely kitten book.

It would seem from this list that Natalie does not have My Little Pony's when in actuality she has an enormous box of her own. And it would seem we would be a little low on books...not so.

I called my friend Jenn last night to tell her about it and she laughed telling me she had noticed how heavy Natalie's bag was when she brought her home. Yeah, that was because she was stealing form you :) Ahhhh the joys of motherhood!

Jul 23, 2008


It rarely seems to work out that I have just the right amount of squash and zucchini. It is either too much or too little. So if you currently live in Massachusetts and need squash or zucchini you should call me :) In just two days I have recieved 23 of them from the squash/zucchini gods. Thankfully everyone except Miriam and Brian like it. I have been searching for recipes but no matter what I try the kids seem to like the plain old steamed/boiled with margarine and salt and pepper way. And I frankly prefer to just give it away after we eat what we want. So lock your cars at church because I am giving away squash :)

It's a phase.

I happened upon a section in the library the other day where for some reason every title caught my attention and I found myself adding every title I read to my stack to bring home. I did not have my library bag with me (thank goodness) because who knows how many books I would have ended up with if I did not have to take only what I could carry :)

But before I tell you all about the fascinating books I got I have to tell you about the bookclub book for August. I got that when I was at the library too. And I always make myself read the bookclub book first because I hate to have something I have to do lurking in my mind. The bookclub book was Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson.

This book was a 2007 Newberry Honor book. I have always been curious about the Newberry and what it means so I did a little reading and found out that a Newberry Honor means you were a runner up and the Newberry Medal means you won. And there are 2 awards for kids books the Newberry and the Caldecott. I read the criteria for the Newberry. And I confess as I found myself reading the wordy criteria I wondered how they ever read all the books for kids up to age 14 that are published in a year and then how they ever decide? And I wondered how grownups could decide what is a good book for kids? But enough on my opinions :)

The book was pretty good. A quick read about a 16 year old named Hattie who has no family and for most of her life has been "shuttled between one distant relative to another" she ends up getting a letter saying she had an opportunity to "prove up" on her recently passed away uncle's homestead in Montana. So the story is about her experiences there in 1918. She has to build a fence and farm the land to be able to keep it. And woven into the story is stuff about the war going on and how people there in Montana are treating people who are German. The author had a distant female relative who had homesteaded on her own in Montana and the author did a lot of research. So if you get time it is worth your time.

So back to my stack :) I am currently on page 133 of a book called The Perfect Store by Adam Cohen and it is all about Ebay. After reading that book on Google a couple months ago I have found myself interested in companies and how they got started. And this Ebay one is very interesting. The people that start these companies, their personalities, their convictions. So many things that all come together in a perfect way as to create these highly successful companies. How they come across the perfect people to hire. How they decide when to go "public." All very good reading.

The next one I am going to read is called The Wal Mart Effect by Charles Fishman. I have always felt like Wal Mart gets a bad rap. And I wanted to read about them and figure out why I feel that way and be able to defend my opinion. Did you know that American's spend 35 million dollars an hour at Wal Mart? And that 90% of us live within 15 miles of a Wal Mart ? The book is about how "the world's most powerful company really works and how it's transforming the American economy". I had to go find it under Madeline's bed because she is reading it right now. She keeps spouting amazing statistics and facts at me.

Then I have to read dot.con The Greatest Story Ever Sold by John Cassidy. After reading about all these companies that came about because of the internet I had to read about this topic. I can hardly wait to read this one actually I bet I will read it next instead of the Wal Mart one. The author covers lots of companies like Yahoo, Netscape etc. He traces the rise of the Internet stocks. And writes about all the people who helped "turn an exciting technological development into an unstable and dangerous speculative bubble." Does that not sound better than the new Batman movie??

I also found a book on how Pampered Chef got started. I could not resist the cute plaid border on the cover. And it says it is the story of "one of America's most beloved companies". The use of the word "beloved" got me and I thought I better check it out :) Raise your hand if you are not supporting "America's most beloved" company.

And even though my one in college has scholarships covering his education. And even though the 2nd child who will be leaving for college next year recieved a fabulous ACT score also. I could not resist the book called "Peterson's College Money Handbook, Tap into more than $50 billion in public money to pay for college." I set it out for random people to read but that has not worked real well. So I guess I will be doing a flannel board presentation for Family Home Evening soon :)

And last but not least is my Backyard Secrets of the Garden Experts and if you can get past all the names of the experts and their places of employment written on each page there is a lot of good basic information. Sometimes you hear stuff so much about gardens that you start to wonder if it is true and where the story started and this book helped me to remember what is myth and what is not. And reminded me now that I live in a damp climate to not water the leaves.

So head to the library. Forget your laundry and your church duties. Grab your kiddos some duct tape to play with and buy something from the freezer section for dinner and read :)

Jul 22, 2008


it takes ever so long for my computer to upload pictures that sometimes I just do not want to wait. But today I have some time so I posted some pictures that I had wanted to post.

This is a picture I took back in June before school got out of Madeline's legs with her trophy. It was a very busy day and my parents had just left and Madeline and Miriam had some friends who had just arrived from Indiana and Madeline calls me on my cell phone at 5:30pm to tell me she had a track banquet at 6:00 at the high school. I do love communication :) So I rounded up Brian and luckily the little girls were at a friends house. And Joe had a ride home from lacrosse. I frantically called to find out if banquet meant I had to bring food and thankgoodness it did not. I am glad we made the effort because Madeline recieved this trophy for being the most valuable member of the track team. They said ever so many nice things about her speed and about how she had accumulated the most points for the track team out of all the boys and girls.

She ranked 10th in the 300m hurdles in the state of MA. She had qualified to go to Western Mass in 5 events the 400, 4x4 relay, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the long jump but could only choose one event in each category. Her best time in the 300 hurdles was 36.7. In the 100 hurdles her best time was 16.3. So we are looking forward to seeing how things go during her senior year.

I sadly never know what pictures will show up on my camera. Even though my teenagers have their own cameras they cannot resist mine and Amanda's. This is one of about 15 pictures I found on my camera of Miriam posing with cans of root beer. Ahh to be a teenager again and have that kind of time on my hands :)

This was a bad hair day in Boston for Tatiana and Natalie but nevertheless the picture is significant because they are sitting in a pew in the Old North Church (one if by land two if by sea church )and the plaque behind them says that Theodore Roosevelt sat in this pew and it gives the date. I would imagine his hair looked better than theirs and that his parents had not just made him hike all over Boston in the heat :)

Last Friday, after many phone calls searching for the best price, we went to pick raspberries. I found them for $3.00 a pint. Which made me gulp but was the cheapest I could find. A pint by the way is 2 cups of berries. I very carefully figured I could buy 4 pints and not break the bank. So no jam this year. But I have some left over from last year so we should be fine. The u-pick place was in a town called Middlefield about 25 minutes from my house. I love the drive and always forget to factor gas prices into my final cost :) The farm was well taken care of and pretty. This is Miriam and her friend Nichole who I dragged out of bed to come with me to pick. They were fine until they saw a snake and freaked themselves out.

We finally found an amazing spot on the river. This is a picture of the kids and their friends after they had swam/walked across the river to these rocks that had been tempting them beyond belief. Once they got there they stood around for awhile savoring their victory and then they came back to the other side.

This is Joe and his friend Chase sitting in this amazingly huge chair that is on a road we drive frequently. This particular day we were across the street playing in the river and when we were leaving the kids begged to have their pictures taken in the chair. So I told them they had to go in and ask the owners so they did and here they are in their swim suits sitting in this larger than life chair.

Jul 21, 2008

Job Resume?

Okay, here is the dealy-o. On August 30th, 2008 all 7 Baird children will officially be in school. And for the first time in almost 19 years of child rearing the Baird mom will be "free as a bird". Sadly, I cannot sit at home and eat bon bons, get a boyfriend at the gym and read romance novels all day. I really need to get a job. But this is where the story turns into a comedy. Let me tell you the job experiences I have had in my miserable life:

Cleaning houses, weeding , mowing, babysitting, scrubbing decks and ovens in high school to earn money for jazz choir trip to San Fransisco.

Working as a helper at Clearview Montessori for a summer between semesters at BYU. (Very depressing to see parents leave their kiddos all day.)

A nanny in Potomac, Maryland. Lasted 4 months and ended when I started to get put in the middle of the parents fights :)

Sensuous Sandwich on Center Street in Provo, Utah starting in August of 1988 and ending in October of 1989 when I had Zach.

After that my employment has been early morning paper routes, occasional babysitting and cleaning houses for friends.

What is my college degree in ? Oh that silly thing? Do you mean my framed and hanging on the wall MRS. degree ??

Even if I could get into a college after all these years I still do not know myself well enough to know what I would even like to study.

I am willing to concede that the situation is not good.....oh alright we could use the word terrible.

What do you even say in an interview? For my current job I just had to say "I do." When is a good time in the interview to brag about how good I am at long run on sentences with random meaningless punctuation? Do I show them how I "hunt and peck" when I type? I sure hope that when I tell them that I can make people get in the car when they do not want to they will be impressed. How about telling them that I can watch any Disney movie 20 times in a row? What about my teaching 7 kids to wipe and occasionally flush skills? What about figuring out how to be 5 places at once? Do you think they will think I am good at planning if I can say I have only run out of gas once in my life?

Seriously, I think I could do a few jobs but the catch is that whoever hires me would have to provide someone very patient and saintlike to hang out with me every second of every day to be answering my every question for a solid week and then if they could hang in there with me through that I am positive I would be the best employee they ever had. And if they could throw in someone to follow me around giving me constant praise for a "job well done" just like I get in my current job I could be a serious contender for employee of the month every month.

I am a little worried that you seem to have to know someone at a company to get a job. Who do I know? Dora, The Backyardigans and Sponge Bob? How nice is it to beg a friend to get a job for a 39 year old who has been home for 19 years and does not even know what "html" means?

I am not too proud to work at Wal Mart. And I think that is where I am headed as soon as I become best friends with someone who works there.

Jul 20, 2008

What does it mean this fiddler on the roof?

When someone says the word tradition what do you think of ?

Do you have a list of a thousand things that you have to do because they are tradition?

I always think of the movie Fiddler on the Roof.

Remember Tyve says:
"You may ask 'Why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous?' Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home.
And how do we keep our balance?
That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as, as... as a fiddler on the roof!"

I am very bad at making traditions. In a short paragraph I can tell you ours. Valentines Day they always get a homemade Valentine with some candy. For birthday's they can choose their favorite dinner (but does that really count? Everyone does that right?). For Christmas we always go cut our own tree, all presents are wrapped and you can open one present on Christmas Eve. And that my friends is about it. Unless you say fighting on the way to church is a tradition (one we do very well I might add). Or fighting about computer time. Or fighting about who has dishes ......hmmm I see a trend....maybe I do have traditions :)

Sometimes it boggles my mind and occasionally causes jealousy when I hear other families traditions:
"We always go on a cruise"
"We always go out to eat on this certain day"
"We always buy books for this occasion"
"We always go this place at this time and this day"
"We always play games"
"My husband always does this with the kids".

You know when you were a kid and everyone had been to some cool place or everyone did something cool all at the same time and you were the only one who it had never happened to so you would have to make a big deal about doing the opposite and claim that you really liked it. "Oh, we stay at home and fight but I love it". So is my tradition not doing traditions? Do I not do them because I hate to HAVE to do something? What happens if for some reason I can't carry out my tradition that we always do does the world fall apart? Are my kids growing up with no magic because the tooth fairy at our house is the same person who gave birth to them and they have known it since I/she handed them money when their first tooth fell out ?? And don't get started on Santa Claus. Zach figured out extremely early that that was not humanly possible so he announced it to the other kids and I never really pushed it after that. And not for any strong reason I just didn't care either way. Hey, maybe I do not have traditions because I never have any strong feelings about the way things should go? No, that could never be the reason :) It must be because I am lazy.

I think I secretly would love to have some traditions but I think it is a little late to spring things on the fam. We have things we used to do when they were little but as they have gotten older traditions have been harder to uphold. They are not always home for their birthdays. They may be at camp or EFY. We never have family close by so we are not bound by those kinds of traditions. And it seems like alot of traditions involve money which I don't have. ( hey, maybe that is another tradition I have :)

I hope my kids have at least learned how important traditions like giving service at church, fulfilling your church callings to your dying moment :), following through with commitments and supporting others are.

What brought all this up anyway? Well I have three birthdays in August. Amanda on the 2nd, Miriam on the 6th and Natalie on the 17th. They are feverishly making lists and putting in requests and bringing up past years when things did not go as well as they had hoped. As they were all talking at once and shoving papers in my face today I found myself wondering what tradition I missed that would have made this easier? Something that made it so I could just say, "No, we always do it this way, always have, always will, end of discussion."

I console myself with the fact that at least when they get married they will not have to fight with their spouse over which traditions they should have because they won't have anything they will think HAS to be done on every holiday. Maybe someone will thank me :)

Jul 17, 2008

People punch other people when I drive by !!

When we lived in Lawrence, Kansas there came a time when we had to buy a new car. We had been bouncing from $500.00 car to $500.00 car for quite awhile and decided to finally buy something a little more reliable. Since Brian was going to be the one driving it the most I let him do all the car shopping (okay, you got me he actually always does all the car shopping). But I confess I was a little confused when he drove me up to Johnny I's on Iowa Street and showed me a little black Beetle bug. I asked him where the 7 kids would sit? And he looked at me blankly and bought it.

When he first got it guys in the ward teased him and said it was a "chick car" he started looking around and realized mostly women do drive them. But we never gathered hard data. He immediately put an NRA sticker in the window of the car and seriously considered the mud flaps with the silouhette of the "shiny woman" on the them. People always used to love how funny it was that we had the biggest car (our 15 passenger van) and the smallest car (the beetle bug).

For the first about 5 years it was his car and I rarely got to drive it. He always vacuumed it out, cleaned the windows, washed it and took good care of it. And it caused problems when he absolutely had to take the kids.

When we moved here he obtained a company car and guess who got the beetle bug? ME. I always secretly coveted it because I love stick shift cars. And I adore zippy cars. Although now that I drive it all the time he doesn't take care of it anymore. And I have kids in it so it has crumbs in it. And fingerprints on the windows. I wish it didn't but it does. The van has a much better radio. But that is about all I miss of the van.

As I have been driving this beetle bug around and seriously noticing people punching each other I have been wondering where the game "punch buggy" or "slug bug" or whatever you call it came from ?

So here is the scoop. First I googled "slug bug" and some references came up mostly from people's blogs. I was not satisfied with the results so I googled "punch buggy" and there was my favorite resource Wikipedia with something about it. HOORAY!! It said that "punch buggy" is a game generally played by young children. Hmmmm I confess I play it. Participants hit each other upon the sight of a Volkswagon Beetle. Funny fact is it is a game not known in Germany where the Beetle was first produced. Now the problem is that there are no facts known about this game. Most top estimates put it at starting in the 60's. The Midwest is where they say "slug bug". And if you play it in Australia you punch someone and say, "Punch buggy, what colour?" And you keep punching until they see the VW beetle and call out the color (or colour) :) I like that idea it gives the game a little more purpose than just hitting :)

You should definitley start playing if you already aren't. But be sure to decide what the rules are because strangely people are always trying to change the rules and before you get in a car with anyone possibly not aware of how YOU play "punch buggy" be sure to announce your rules before you begin your drive :) You need to pray and decide if convertibles get two punches, if you are a purist and only punch on old Beetle bugs or if you include the new Beetles. Just for the record if you say "no punch backs" as you should no one else can punch on the beetle you just saw.

You should see the kids on the school bus punch each other when the bus stops at the end of our driveway. And how they pester my kids when the car is not in the driveway so they can't punch each other.

All the "punch buggy" talk aside. I took the car on the Skyline Trail the other day. A fun road with amazing views. Just me, Natalie and the open road. We were looking for a raspberry farm. It was heavenly the road was almost bare of cars, the views amazing, the curves in the road very nice and I confess I rarely down shifted from 5th gear. I felt like I was in a car commercial except for the crumbs and fingerprints,and the little voice in the back.The only thing missing was music...sigh...the broken Ipod thing has really hampered my life style. And just for the record I only have had one ticket in my whole life so don't worry about me :)

Jul 16, 2008

There is nothing more satisfying !

I have one part of my yard that I have yet to tackle. And by the time I got to it it was too late and spring had sprung and there was green growth everywhere and I really honestly mean everywhere the way stuff grows here is amazing everything wraps itself around everything else all smothering each other. So I decided to let it be until winter froze everything back again so I could get in there and yank it all out. Anyway, the other day when I was walking by the "mess" I noticed some berries growing but I did not take the time to inspect them. I mentioned it to my friend Karen tonight when we were walking and took her back to check them out and help me decide if they were edible. We discussed options for a minute and decided to make Brian eat one to see what it was :) But then she just popped one in her mouth and the verdict was clear.......blackberries !! Oh, I knew they were blackberries....NOT. Wild, crazy blackberries all over in this huge potential flower bed that I had amazing dreams of taming. But how can you rip out a gift that mother nature gives you? There is nothing more rewarding than picking something and eating it in the wild :) Whew, am I wierd or what? I should stop reading about people surviving in nature huh? Anyway, there is alot of them so I guess I will start pulling out the weeds around them because when life gives you blackberries you must.....make blackberry something.

Jul 15, 2008

Another favorite magazine.

I learned about this magazine when I lived in Kansas and it may come as no surprise to those of you who lived in Kansas when I did that I learned about it from Kristy. Strange enough but at the same time I heard about it my parents in Oregon were also learning about Cook's Illustrated. My family have all become huge fans. Most of us own the 1028 page book titled The New Best Recipe from the editors of Cook's Illustrated and we fondly refer to it as "the bible" I recieved the magazine for a year and loved it. Because of kids schedules and pure laziness I have not been so great at cooking lately (for about 3 years now :) At this moment in my life I could never blog about recipes to you because they would involve unwrapping things from the freezer :) But I must tell you about this magazine just in case you have never heard about it.

Have you ever cooked something and when it does not turn out you wish you knew what happened? These magazines explain what happened. The chemistry and the science behind cooking. The things you can control. They choose about 10 recipes every other month (bi- monthly magazine) and they totally break them down and they cook them over and over trying all different methods, ingredients, measurements. They talk about the common things that usually go wrong with the particular dish and how they figure out how to fix the problem. And they document every step for you. They serve it to each other and others and report all the results. I confess the recipes often have alot of steps and occasionally ingredients you might not normally have on hand but it is worth it when you do it exactly right. I even learned from Cook's Illustrated exactly how to cook a hard boiled egg and get the outer shell off perfectly without having to dig those teeny tiny eggshell pieces off of the outside of the egg. (what? that has never happened to you before?)

The magazine is also full of good tips on things as basic as "Extracting ice cubes from the tray" and "Freezing Fresh Herbs" to "Easy ways to frost a cake" and "Homemade cherry pitters" (involves paper clips).

It is so hard to choose what to tell you about this magazine. I mean look here is a recipe on page 6 for " Mile High Biscuits". The person testing this recipe talks about how they once tasted perfect biscuit when they were 9 at a pit stop in Georgia and how they try a million different recipes until they figure out how to duplicate that moment. And they tell you what makes biscuits rise. And why their final recipe calls for cold butter and cold buttermilk. It is all so exact it makes me giddy just thinking about it.

They also review kitchen equipment and tell you what is best and why. In August 2004 they said the OXO I-series peeler is their new favorite and the reasons blow me away things I frankly never think about when I am swearing in my mind at my peeler from...ahem..Walmart.

Do you know how to neatly wrap a cupcake? Let me tell you what a person who got this very idea published in Cook's Illustrated says about this oh so commom dilemma and then I will stop talking about this magazine. I quote, " Cupcake aficionados (yes, I love the words they use also) know how messy frosted cupcakes can be when packed into a lunchbag or box?" To spare yourself the agony you can, "cut the cupcake in half horizontally (stay with me) and flip the top upside down so that the icing is in the middle, making a little layer cake." then you can wrap the cupcake in plastic wrap and you are good to go.

There are so many recipes out there for everything you want to make how do you really know if you are getting the best recipe? I cannot imagine that you are not getting the best recipe if you are using a Cook's Illustrated recipe they put so much research into it.

In 2007 they had over a million subscribers to their magazines and guess what? Their test kitchen and home to their magazine is just outside of Boston. We should go.

Jul 14, 2008

A rare moment.

Last Saturday I was getting things done around the house and all of a sudden I noticed it was quiet.....too quiet. Where is everyone? Do I care? Then I walk by the window and see in the backyard all 5 of my girls are sitting on the trampoline in a circle talking. No one was crying. No one was being mean. They were talking. It was sadly unusual. About 10 minutes later I hear them hollering for me to come and see them singing at the top of their lungs, "We are family hey, hey, hey, hey I've got all my sisters with me". And then they begged me to take a picture because they reasoned, "What are the chances of this happening again?" I realized they were right. I took the pictures and then I went to find Joe (Zach was in Palmyra at the Hill Cumorah pageant or I would have called him also for a possible all children on the trampoline moment)....big mistake because Joe came running up and immediately started chasing them and being silly......moment officially ruined. That was the beginning of his afore mentioned disastrous Saturday night.

Jul 13, 2008

It was a "bad mom" weekend.

I am going to go out on a limb and declare this weekend the "bad mom" weekend and after you hear why you most likely agree. Of course I will do my best to make it sound like I was totally justified in my behaviors and definitely had my reasons but we all know better.

Now I could go into all the details about my day with a MIA husband. How I spent the whole day meeting kids needs and taking them places they needed to be along with all the normal Saturday, the day before Sunday, stuff you have to do but let's just get straight to the point.

Saturday night at about 10:45 pm on the way home from fireworks after being trapped in Brian's small car with 6 children for 25 minutes in the post fireworks traffic I finally stopped the car in the middle of nowhere and really quite calmly escorted Joe out of the car and left him on the road in the dark and sped away.

The girls all began screaming out of fear for their 12 year old brother who incidentally had just been calling them all names and making them cry while I was trying to drive a stick shift and talk on the cell phone to his father who was in Wal Mart trying to understand my directions about where the refrigerated cookie dough was. I really knew I could not leave Joe there but I confess I wanted to. You can only ask a child so much to stop what they are doing before something snaps and you find yourself acting.......well not like a grown up should. Yes, I went back and got him. He got right back in the car and again started doing what he was doing that got him in trouble in the first place. I told you......BAD MOM.

Okay, so that was the first "bad mom" incident. The second was today when I end up with a 5 year old at church with no underwear on under her dress. So I had to explain to her teacher and anyone else who would see when she wiggles, as 5 year old girls do wiggle even with a dress on, that yes I know she has no underwear on.

Basically, I have had the "grumpies" all weekend. How could I dare want some quiet and to be alone ? I am continually shocked at how unreasonable I can act the minute I start to even entertain the thought that I need something. As long as I go along cheerfully serving 6 ( I cannot in good conscience include Zach in that number so that's why it isn't 7) ungrateful, selfish people between 5 and 17 I am good but the minute I think of myself things do not go so well do they?

Jul 12, 2008

Tying up loose ends.

I feel like I have loose ends hanging around out there AKA things I have blogged about that you need to know the endings of. So some of these go way back but I dated them and added the title so that hopefully you won't get to confused :)

February 11 Look what pride got me....

This one was about my fridge which is not in the house. It is in the garage. And I wanted to let you know I still have not caved and the fridge is still in the garage. And if it was in the house where it belongs Miriam would not have been able to shove Amanda into the wall where the fridge should be and leave a huge dent in the drywall. I wonder how anyone could explain a body shaped dent in the drywall behind the fridge?

March 11 Curly or straight.

This was at the height of my fighting my curly hair. But I gave up. I must not have wanted it bad enough because it required alot of practicing. I still like the straight hair Jenn's personality better but especially during humid summer it just was not working. So I am in the process of trying every product in the world that guarantees to control frizz :)

April 13 Scouting

Joe has his first boy scout camp in another week. I have been forced to open the scout book and try to figure out the merit badge thing. Of course he does not want to do any merit badges that actually work towards his Eagle. And I confess Rifle Shooting does sound a little more interesting than Citizenship in The Nation. I was hoping I would feel better once I sat down and actually read the requirements for the Merit badges but that was not the case. I sure have my work cut out for me. It is a rare boy that gets his Eagle without having an organized mom.....sigh.

May 7 The Cat and I.

Kittromney is still a menace to society. She eats the tops of pineapples?, she knocks over trash cans looking for treasures like rubberbands and tops to milk cartons. I have made a rule that makes it so she has to be in the garage at night and that is working nicely. Then at least we can all have uninterrupted sleep :) And during the day a squirt bottle with water in it has worked pretty well in training her to not get on counters. So well actually I should try the squirt bottle thing on the children :)

June 17th. Do I have to work hard for my money?

This was about Joe's paper route. And let me tell you that due to some strange twists of fate on the first payday of the paper route he walked away with $86.00. I have never seen such a grin. And he has never complained about the route since. He opened a bank account and I frequently borrow money from him. And his sisters want to murder him in his sleep so that they can have the route :)

June 23 The first day.

This was a blog about summer and the things that made this summer different and one thing has changed. Zach's 19th birthday is October 20th and we have gone back and forth and forth and back about when he should do his mission. He had finally decided to not go back to BYU and just leave on his mission in October but he came to us the other day and said he really felt like he should go next summer. I really could not argue with him because he prays so carefully about everything that I knew he got the right answer for him. We all know how strange it is sometimes how life works out how you end up somewhere meeting someone or being in a certain place at just the right time. So I am sure there is a reason he feels like he should wait. And he is such a good kid I just do not worry about it.

July 1 Out my front door.

Was about my quest to find the perfect spot on the river and last week I found one pretty darn close to perfect shallow water for little kids, deep water for big kids, rocks, sticks, and sand. The only drawback was that we saw 2 large wolf spiders but it was nothing the bottom of Joe's shoes could not handle. (shhhh do not tell him)

Also the fabulous stepping stone rocks I got are finally in place and I will post a picture soon. I feel rather pleased with myself and need to fight the urge to make random pathways everywhere just because I can.

So now I feel better that I tied up some endings.

Jul 11, 2008

Hey honey.

I have realized lately that I am foolish to not take advantage of the fact that my darling hubby reads my blog everyday. We rarely have time to talk. And even when we do it just never goes as I imagine it should. And what do I imagine? You know things like:

"I agree"

"I was wrong"

"What can I do for you?"

"You should not fix dinner ever again."

"I am going to take all the kids and have quality time with them."

He does come home everyday with a comment on what I blogged about. Like what I could do differently. ( hello, get your own blog) So I know he is reading so for example today I could tell him:

I left my camera under the front seat of the van so he needs to lock the doors while he is in Boston for the next 2 days with the van so it doesen't get taken.

I could ask him if I could put all the bikes on his "side" of the garage so I could get the Beetlebug in the garage. (sigh....yes, we have "sides" of the garage and it is no easy task to identify what his his and what is mine. I end up with several things on my side that I KNOW he uses. I have no idea how the "side" thing even started I think it comes from him being a twin)

I could tell him that I got the first 2 cherry tomatoes out of the garden today.

I could remind him to invite his boss and his wife to dinner. I really like them and have been telling him to invite them forever.

I could tell him that my amount I spent at Costco today was oh so large because in addition to food I had to buy chewable Zyrtec for Natalie at $17.00 and pills you can swallow Zyrtec for Joe at $32.00 so he can have them for boy scout camp. We should seriously have stock in Zyrtec.

I could tell him that the spot that the basket of magazines is currently in in the master bathroom is not negotiable and to stop moving it.

I could ask him if I could break into his candy stash in the "man room" while he is out of town. (He has a stash of candy that would make Willy Wonka blush. And I used to get into it all the time but one birhtday I bought him a tool box with a lock and a key for him to keep the candy in so I would stay away from it. But I recently noticed that he has dispensed with the lock hmmmm.)

I could remind him that the kids upstairs bathroom still needs something to hold towels and we need to have a date night to decide where and what kind. And I could even threaten to do it myself which makes him protest ever so loudly and usually motivates him to get right on it. How embarrassing to have your wife install something when you are man of the year :)

I could nag a little about needing him to "weed eat" around all the flower beds and to get the vines on the edge of the woods that keep creeping into the garden too. And I forgot to tell him that when I wanted to learn how to weed eat myself we forgot one small detail he never actually let me touch the weed eater during the lesson :)

I could ask him if I could drive the company car he left at home. (It is oh so zippy and has a cd player. Oh and it has "nere" a crumb in it as he never has to have kids in it)

Oh and how could I forget to remind him that we need local channels ASAP. Due to a long, boring chain of events we have cable but no local channels. Madeline is going to, "fail all school from here out" because she needs to be watching "Meet the Press" this summer for AP government. And I have not been able to improve my mind :) in oh so long by watching Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Ugly Betty, and The Office. And we will all die if we cannot lay around for two weeks and watch the Olympics.

Miriam wants me to tell him she wants a puppy. (she says that every second of everyday)

Joe is worried about his duct tape whip wearing out. And wants him to take him to see Hellboy 2 and the answer to that is absolutely not.

Tatiana wants him to make her a duct tape whip that is blue so that she can defend herself against Joe.

I guess that about covers it. So have a great time in Boston honey I love you and try not to think about us girls watching chick flicks in your man room tonight while you are gone :)

Jul 10, 2008

Frivolous things.

Do you keep a running list in your mind of things you would buy if you had money? You don't? Well I do. And I am going to overshare this morning and tell you what is on the list. So in no particular order here is what I would go purchase today if I had money and no conscience :)

#1. Two hydrangeas for the backyard. They bloom the most amazing color blue flowers. And I like the shape of their leaves. And I have 2 perfect spots for them.

#2 A fence for the backyard. Martha Stewart has an 8 ft tall fence around her garden and I covet it. It dosen't even have to be that tall. Just something so the chipmunks, deer, poison ivy and creeping plants in the woods have a small trial in their lives.

#3. Dan in Real Life, 27 Dresses, The Golden Compass, Stardust and Juno. Yes, I liked them. I rarely buy movies. But if I rent them more than once I start to wonder if I should.

#4. If you live by me you know I have a pair of black sweats that I LOVE. They are Danskin and they are perfect in everyway. (never tell me if they aren't :) I found them at Kohls and they were on the clearance rack and I wear them way too much. So I would like to own 2 more pair of sweatpants like these.

#5. Paint. I know I am the poster child for white walls but strangely I have the urge to paint....gasp.....a color. If I could ever get over the notion in my head that everything has to match and be perfect I would love to go purchase some paint with the money I do not have and paint a few walls in the house. (sigh...if I could ever decide which walls get the paint)

#6.Subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I love reading the Wall Street Journal. The precise way they explain things. The interesting things they write about from finance to entertainment I love it all. And it is written in a way that for some reason I can remember what I read and understand it and actually intelligently talk about it.

#7. Music. Especially now that I have a broken Ipod I need Cd's. The list is long of mostly recently released cd's. Blue October (by the time I buy the one released in September 2007 the new one being released in September of this year will have been released), Ashlee Simpson, Leona Lewis, 3 Doors Down (yes they have a new one released in May of this year), soundtrack to Dan in Real Life, Death Cab For Cutie (brand new May 2008) and Natasha Bedingfield (sing along with me......I got a pocket full of sunshine)

#8. Food storage. I know but the, "if you are prepared you shall not fear" thing is always in my head. I do spend 10 extra dollars on something for the food storage everytime I go grocery shopping but it doesen't add up fast enough to make me feel safe.

#9. A rototiller. Boy would this make my life easier and happier and my fingernails less dirty.

#10. New lipstick. Natalie found mine. And we all know what happens when 5 year olds find lipstick and feel the urge to open it. It was nice, expensive Clinique lipstick that I dreamed about for three days before I purchased.

Well, that is not all on my list but that should do for today. Now I have to go face reality and clean and earn the mother of the year award.

Jul 8, 2008

When was the last time?

I cannot remember when was the last time I went on a roller coaster. I am pretty sure it was 1988 and I am sure it was something at Disneyland like Thunder Mountain Railroad. Well yesterday that all changed I did a couple things I have never done before. Thanks to some dear friends the kids and I went to Six Flags New England yesterday, by the way I did not notice Six Flags anywhere? We live about 30 minutes from the park. I had no idea what to expect and neither did my kids. Madeline had been to Six Flags with her physics class from the high school. But the rest of us losers were waiting for a money tree to grow in the backyard. Everyone around here buys season passes which get you into the park free anytime you want. The passes sound lovely and I have been known to covet them but they are $79.99 a person. I think they are worth that but when you multiply that by 9 people it is a little staggering.

Anyway, we arrived at the park at about noon and Amanda and Joe headed off with one cell phone and visions of freedom and fun. Madeline and Cameron, her visitor from Indiana, headed off for rollercoasters.(Miriam was already at girls camp and Zach and Brian were at work)

Then our friends, their kids, Tatiana, Natalie and I headed off for kiddie rides which I never imagined I could not be content with. First was the merry go round and it was very merry :) Honestly it wasn't, Natalie is afraid of everything so all the pictures of her look like she is being tortured. It's mostly because she thinks people are watching her. I already knew it was going to be tough to get our money's worth for her. But I do say I practiced the fine art of persuasion mixed with no nonsense pretty well and she rode on everything from mild trains and merry go rounds all the way up to a river ride where you get wet and a kid roller coaster. Tatiana strangely never has been afraid of rides. The last and only time she ever went on rides was when we were in Lagoon in Utah oh so many years ago. But even when she was teeny tiny she was willing.

As the day went on I was a little surprised that I was starting to notice all the "grown up rides" and secretly longing to go on them. It really isn't like me. About that time one of our friends was lobbying for someone to go on a ride called Flashback. I have no idea why but I said yes. I was thinking about it later last night and part of theme parks is seeing how well you do with peer pressure. And I failed miserably. The line was unmercifully short so I had no time to think on how to get out of it. Plus, strangely 8 year old Tatiana and her 7 year old friend had met the height requirement and were willingly coming along so I felt I needed to act as if being strapped in, going upside down and fast was a normal everyday casual thing......NOT. This particular ride pulls the cars back and up and then lets you go through a series of loops and upside down situations and then you go back up and do the whole thing again backwards.....thus the very fitting name Flashback. I had no idea I was a screamer when it comes to roller coasters but I am and I am not afraid to talk about it. When they pulled us back up in the middle of the ride and I look over at Tatiana and all she can say is, "oh, my gosh mom" I just smiled and said to her "scream, it makes you feel better" and guess what it does. I screamed so loud our friend said that he could not hear himself scream. I screamed so loud that I have a very sore throat this morning. Anyhow that ride ruined all of the rides in Wiggle Land for me. Helicopters with Wags the dog on them and red cars with horns you can toot seemed so painfully slow as I stared longingly at the Superman ride towering in the distance with screaming people over 54 inches tall. But I was a good mom and stayed put.

We had Joe's papers to deliver by 5 so we had to leave and there comes a time when kiddos just can't take it anymore anyway. And I have a reputation for pushing them past that point but I think we timed it perfectly.

We met with up Joe and Amanda at this point and they were both unhappy. Amanda started poor, innocent Joe off on a free fall ride followed immediately by a ride called The Catapult and he was so shell shocked that after that he chickened out at every line and she was so MAD at him and he was MAD at her. I can only imagine the adorable fights they must have put on for everyone in the park to see. Anyway, I realized that they needed me to go around with them and "peer pressure" them into things they might not do otherwise and keep them from killing each other. But we needed to go home and besides everyone was starving because I REFUSE to be forced to purchase french fries that are $4.49 for 10. (very slight exaggeration) I had warned the kids of this fact before we left the house and I had fed them a big breakfast and made them eat in the car on the way there. Six Flags has their own interests (as they should) and does not allow you to bring one single ounce of your own food or water into the park. You are welcome to go 100 miles away to the parking lot and eat food out of your car anytime you want though :)

Anyway, as they stamped your hand in case you wanted to return later I started formulating a plan in my head of how I could get myself....I mean Joe and Amanda back to the park later that night. So we ran home and did the paper route and ate Sloppy Joe's and left again. We drove straight to the park, got out of the car and walked very quickly straight to the Superman ride. There was hardly any line and when we got up there and saw all the signs declaring this ride the worlds best steel roller coaster and saw the awards it had won and saw the words 77 miles per hour and 221 foot drop I think we all started to wonder. Another clue was when almost every car that rolled into the stopping point had people on the car clapping despite their amazingly messy hair. Just FYI the first drop has a 70 degree angle of descent.As we were chugging up the hill that would make enjoying that drop possible I could not even enjoy the amazing view of the Connecticut River because I was trying that line about screaming on Joe who had given into "mom pressure" and was sitting next to me with FEAR im his eyes. Amanda is casually in front of us and not afraid at all. I cannot find the words to explain how amazing this ride was some words from articles on the internet were "nirvana", "disorienting", "airtime lovers dream" all words I would use to describe myself and what I like in every casual conversation I ever have :). The minute we got off I made the kids go again I explained to them that we were in the very back on the first ride and we should try the middle just to see if there is a difference.

After Superman nothing compares. Everything in your little life seems oh so slow. We tried Cat Woman's Whip where Joe said we should "fake scream" to make the workers there feel good about the fact that they were stuck working there. Then we tried Batman. Which I had vehemently declared I could never do the roller coaster thing where your feet hang but I gave into "kid pressure" and I actually loved it and went twice. But I confess after the last Batman ride I was feeling sick. I forgot to mention I do get motion sickness and riding 5 roller coaster rides in 40 minutes was not helping that minor problem. But I let them talk me into a huge wooden one called The Cyclone and that finished me off nicely.

So now I want to be there when all my friends ride Superman I want to see their faces I want to hear how it makes them feel. I want to get a group of grown ups together and go back and play and play. Although I will need to space my roller coaster rides with some rides on the big red cars in Wiggle Land but not the Merry go round.....you know the "go around" thing.

Oh and the picture at the top is of the Superman ride :) Pure Bliss.

Jul 6, 2008

August 3rd??

I love the 4th of July. It has always been my favorite holiday. I grew up in a family with a dad who loved fireworks. I remember my dad bringing M-80's over the border from Tijuana, Mexico when we were kids. I remember him secretly lighting them and throwing them when we were jumping on the trampoline and scaring us to death. I know you may think that is wrong but we adored it :) And then I remember him getting the fireworks from "down under the counter" on the Indian reservation in Washington. The fireworks only loggers used. They were awesome. I have been sad (but also understand) as I have gotten older and have seen how in less and less states it is okay to set off your own fireworks.

My favorite 4th of July was the summer we were on the beach in Oregon. We were with my parents and my brother Jeff and his wife and I cannot remember who else was there. But we staked out a spot on the beach in the morning and spent the whole day hanging out on the beach playing and then at night they shot fireworks out over the ocean. Very cool.

Brian does not like crowds and I have occasionally done the 4th of July fireworks thing without him. He does love playing with fireworks though and he can entertain the kids for hours shoving fireworks into apples, potatoes, and empty cans I usually have something to say when he starts handing the kids roman candles and letting them hold them while they shoot off.....silly, cautious me!!

I just do not feel right if the whole 4th of July is not one continual party. In the last couple of years I have noticed that there is often 4th of July stuff on other days other than the actual 4th. I have been wondering about this. Is it like celebrating your birthday on a different day? Why do they do it? Has anyone else noticed? I am the only one who cares?

This year the city we live in had fireworks planned for the 3rd of July. When I saw that an F-15 flyover was involved, a BAGPIPE band, and a reading of the Gettysburg address I knew I had to go. It would definitely make ALL my dreams come true. Brian was in California and I had some extra kids hanging out with us so it was going to be perfect. I called some other families because I hate to see something cool without other people to think it was cool with me. The morning of the third was cloudy and rain was in the forecast so I soon found out that the city firework plans had been cancelled. I was so bummed. How mature is it for a grown up to cry because she has nothing to do for the 4th of July?? There was a rain date set for the 6th which was a Sunday but I was okay with that and at least I had hope. But I soon found out that because of scheduling reasons that date was also cancelled and now the 4th of July fireworks are on the.....3rd of August. Sigh!! Will I be there? Hello...bagpipe band. Will I feel wierd about it? Yes, I will. I think if a holiday is named the 4th of July it probably should be on the 4th of July.

My ultimate dream is to be in Boston when the Boston Pops play for the 4th of July and see the fireworks there while the Boston Pops are playing. The picture I posted is of the fireworks in Boston and I hope that is not the closest I ever get to them. I live so close to Boston that the reality of being at those fireworks is so close I can taste it. But I have yet to find someone who wants to even discuss it with me let alone attempt it with me.

The only drawback to the whole fireworks, music, patriotic thing is that is makes me cry. I always am choking back tears when I see flags, hear patriotic music or see fireworks. But thankfully it is usually dark so I can choke them back down before someone sees me and has me hospitalized for overreacting :)

Jul 5, 2008

It made the move worth it.

All the packing. All the teenager moaning. Being without a hubby for 3 months. The high cost of living in MA. The 3rd world country moving company somebody hired. Moving in the middle of a school year. Moving to a smaller house. And oh so much more was so worth it because guess what???

Knock on wood.....there are no tomato worms here. I had never heard of tomato worms until I lived in Indiana. They are evil. They are creepy. They are gross. They can eat tomato plants in a single gulp.They blend in with the tomato plant and are hard to catch in action. Every morning in the summer I would grab my Pampered Chef Tongs ( they never open wide enough for any other use) and a bucket of water and head out to the garden in battle mode. I dreaded it because the tomato worms are very hard to find and they are so gross. ( did I already use the word gross?) When I would find one I would grab it with the tongs, pry it off the branch of the tomato bush and drop it into the bucket of water without a moment's hesitation. I mean they cause me so much trouble I have no problem drowning them. I am not a violent person I always cover my eyes when there is even a mere possibility of violence in the chick flick's I watch but I can watch these worms drown and never feel guilt or have to avert my eyes.

The first time I saw one I had no idea what I was looking at. Madeline brought one to the house soon after we had moved to Indiana and I had no idea where she found it and that I should even ask and I could barely look at it they are so big (they can get up to 4 inches long) and ugly. She actually named him Chesterton and kept him as a "pet" for a couple days until she left him in a jar and forgot about him and he died. It took me a long time to put it all together. I would see grenade ( not size, the shape) looking droppings under my tomato plants. My plants would be eaten. I cannot even remember how I finally figured it all out. But now I show no mercy. If you ever see one of the worms with white things on it's back you should resist the urge to kill him because he is carrying the eggs of a wasp that will destroy him and them create more wasps to destroy more tomato worms.

When you Google tomato worms more than a million horror stories pop up. I did find a few touchy, "feely" people who said that they were good because they thin the tomato plant for you?? I guess it is clear that I am on the eradicate side rather than the embrace side of the problem. And no one in my garden is wearing tie dye or singing about peace.

So as of this moment I have not seen a tomato worm in Massachusetts. I have asked around and people look at me blankly so that is a good sign. I check twice a day because the little monsters can destroy a plant in a couple hours.
Speaking of gardens how wierd is it that it is the 4th of July and I am picking my first beans, peppers AND peas at the same time?? Everywhere else I have ever lived peas are done in the first part of June. I am not complaining because they are yummy no matter what the month is I am just observing.

Jul 3, 2008

A potential mistake :)

If you look on the side of my blog at the list of blogs to look at "if you have time" there is a blog titled "Scribbit" often she will have some fun ideas on there. So about a week ago I was looking at her blog and I found this idea that involves duct tape. This link takes you to the original spot where she credits the idea and where you will be oh so happy to find the instructions to make your lucky child a duct tape bull whip just like the one Indiana Jones has. http://skiptomylou.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/how-to-make-a-duck-tape-bullwhip/ .

Why? I do not know why. I am normally able to see trouble coming from a mile away. I know how to say no to glitter. I know the pain of playdough colors mixed. I know about bubble bottles spilled on the floor and I can say no to all of those things. You would think I had learned how to recognize that little voice telling me I will regret it. But can you imagine the happiness on Joe's face when I showed him the website? So we now are the proud owners of two rolls of brown duct tape and a monster dowel all sitting on the kitchen counter patiently waiting for our dad to get home from climbing Mt. Whitney in California. Because we need him to cut the dowel. And because we have not heard him swear over a project in a while :)

So when I blog in a week about one of Joe's sister's in the emergency room. Or the cat being buried. Or Joe on parole remind me that I chose to ignore the voice :) And trust me your kids will love you forever you should make one too !!

Jul 2, 2008

From stains to Instyle magazine.

Well I have been "educational reading" the last couple of days and this is what I have learned and where I learned it from.

#1. I am bound and determined to figure out how to get sweat stains out of the armpits and out of around the neck of the shirts in this house. So I found a book Field Guide to Stains. "How to identify and remove virtually every stain known to man". I confess the "stain" book just ever so slightly cracked me up. You see for each stain they follow the same pattern they list a general description of the stain and then list the season that the stain could occur in then the area it could occur in, and the likely "time of the occurence" of the stain. Don't get me wrong I love things ultra organized like this but I cracked up at them trying to describe the time of occurence. For example listen to the mayonnaise "time of occurrence", "You'll rarely find a need for mayonnaise in the morning. This stain appears most often at lunchtime, when a sandwich or french fries calls for a healthy dollop of the stuff". And just so you know ink stains can appear any day of the year. And gum is a sweetened, flavored substance for chewing. So all joking aside this a very thorough and organized book that I love. And I have learned how to get rid of my sweat stains. Which is important because I wear white shirts ALOT. So I am going to sponge the shirts with ammonia or white vinegar. And for heavy stains I am going to rub with liquid laundry detergent and soak occasionally rubbing the stain between my thumbs, until loosened. Exciting huh?

#2. I also grabbed some books about making garden paths. And as I was grabbing those I happened to see a book called The Shaker Garden by Stephanie Donaldson. I was curious and it passed the flip through test. Which loosely means the way the pages were organized and the pictures caught my eye. As I read about how they gardened I was very interested how simple yet perfect everything was. The Shakers compared weeding the garden to riding the soul of impure thoughts and believed the first would encourage the second. They spent alot of time observing their gardens so they knew the habits of pests and how to deal with them before they got out of hand. And guess what?? The old planting marigolds thing?? IT is true. It really does work!! Up until now I have never had written proof but I have planted them in my gardens mostly because I like them but a small part of my mind could never dismiss the possibility that they might keep bugs away. I also was fascinated reading about how certain plants do better if they are planted next to each other. Like potatoes and corn like to be next to each other. It is sobering to realize how little we seem to understand the plants, flowers, vegetables, herbs, around us. Not many of us have the time to be observant. Anyway, the book inspired me and I spent the last two days being a little fanatic about the garden but I will be over it soon :)

#3. Cameron Diaz prefers white Havaianas flip flops. Let me tell you how educational Instyle magazine is :) No, I did not purchase it I checked it out from the library but for the record I have purchased Instyle before and learned lots of conversation starting information from stylish ways to wear ponytails to smart fashion buys :)

So you should have seen the librarian looking at my stack of things to check out. I had 4 Gardening books, 3 Instyle magazines, 4 Money magazines ( who could resist an article on the 8 habits of winning investors?), 2 National reviews ( got to figure out who to vote for), a book about stains and ....gulp.....3 People magazines. ( no recent dentist appointments had to do it) Let me tell you the librarian knows way to much about me from my exorbianant fees, to my habit of returning the CD cases without the CD's in them :)

So I am happy a nice mix of mindless reading and informational reading. Now I just need to find the right mix of sweet and salty to eat while I am doing all this reading :)

Jul 1, 2008

Out my front door.

In February I had enough courage to blog about what I lived next door to. Now in July I am ready to tell you what is in the front of the house and I will even throw in a description of what is across the street just for fun. You are so lucky today.

When I look out my front door I see a two lane road that heads to and from the Berkshires. Oh, it could be worse things always could be worse. Because of the way things are in New England with the roads and all the people I console myself with the fact that most people here live on a busy road. It is difficult to explain without seeing it. It has taken awhile to get used to the sound of cars but most of the time we are so busy yelling at each other we do not even hear them :) The one good thing is that in the winter my road gets plowed first :) It is the kind of 2 lane road that is only busy when people are driving to and from work so as far as busy roads go that is good huh?

And let me tell you what is across the street........ a river. I can't actually see it because of all the trees. But the road I live on follows this river and I just recently put it all together in my mind and realized how fun this could be. So as I have been driving up and down this road I have noticed that lots of people pull their cars off onto the side of the road and disappear through the trees down to the river. This river runs 78.1 miles. It rises in the Berkshire Hills and flows to join to Connecticut River. There is 50 miles of whitewater canoeing and kayaking opportunities on this river but I have just been wanting to find the perfect spot to take the kids and let them throw rocks in the river and get a little wet.

So today I loaded up Joe, Amanda, Tatiana and Natalie and we headed 10 minutes up the road. We decided to stop whenever we wanted to and check out spots to try to find the best one, something we would never do if we had someone who will remain nameless (but I am married to him) with us. The first spot we stopped at did not really have a beach it looked like a good spot for inner tubing though. The second spot was a little better. There was a big tree that had fallen down that we could sit on, the water was shallow, there was rocks to throw in the water, there was an island that you could walk to. It still wasn't perfect but it was good enough for today. So we stayed for awhile and got everyone's shoes wet, found everyone a big stick that they all wanted to save, and grossed ourselves out with a crawdad skeleton. But someone in the family who is 5 and abnormally afraid of everything noticed that a storm was coming and would not stop crying so the party ended.