Aug 30, 2008

Back to BYU.

Well the only Baird child who ever asked me how I was, the only Baird child who ever asked what they could do to help and the only Baird child who tried to make peace and not war with his siblings left today for his second year of BYU. I feel an acute emptiness. He has been home since April and this will most likely be the last time he will be home for a long period of time ever. In January he will put in his mission papers.

We had some friends in Indiana who had the tradition of making apple dumplings on the first day of school and he determined that we needed to do this so he called the friend and got the recipe for the dumplings then he handed me money to buy the ingredients. He came home on Thursday from his last day of work at Mass Mutual and immediately began peeling 12 lbs of apples. At 9:30pm he pulled 2 9x13 pans of apple dumplings out of the oven. His crust was perfect. And he was so thrilled with himself. And they were done perfectly.

I will miss his piano playing. I will miss how he always notices when something needs to happen. He would frequently grab the little girls when they were bored and play Memory with them. He would try to distract the other kids from killing each other. I will miss him leaving the Ensign laying around. I always was moving it from where he last read it to put it away. I confess it doesn't get read as much when he is not here :)

The picture is of him with his, just received, tickets to the BYU football games. He was so excited to get those.

He finally decided his major will officially be Chemical Engineering. He is trying to get a job on campus this year. And most of his friends are already gone on their missions. I am worried about him getting a computer to rent. I am worried about him making friends just like I was when he left for kindergarten. I am worried about him recognizing that his clothes are worn out and that he needs to buy new ones. But I will survive.

And the other kids will grow up to be just as pleasant to be around.....I hope :)

I created a monster.

About a week ago Natalie's kindergarten teacher sent a welcome to kindergarten letter along with some star stickers. Of course she was over the moon. And sat right down to create for her teacher and of course she wanted to send her art to the teacher right away. I debated in my mind and then thought, "Oh that would be okay because then I could drop her a note about how much Natalie will need to use the bathroom." So we mailed a letter to her. Two days later at Kindergarten orientation the teacher just gushed and gushed and (did I mention that she gushed?) about the mail she recieved from Natalie. And let me tell you what a double edged sword gushing has turned out to be. Natalie has been faithfully writing at least 4 letters a day to her teacher. Her back pack is positively brimming with items to give to poor Ms Stewart. I have no doubt she will graciously recieve all the items.

It got me thinking about how much little kids love to make things for grown ups and friends. Especially if you comment about the artwork when you recieve it they are all over making sure you are well supplied with art work for a long time. They aren't self conscious about it they are confident it is just perfect. How many intended gifts have I made and are still in my closet because I was too self conscious with the finished product?

Aug 29, 2008

Time management schmanagement.

I have never been able to not sleep. I always felt bad for people who would talk about not being able to sleep. If I have ever not been able to sleep it was nothing a good old fashioned list could not solve. But I feel myself heading into uncharted territory with this Seminary calling and needing to get a job and oh so many unsolvable things on my mind. I have found myself waking up at 4am with my mind racing and a list can't solve it. I guess the problem is that I have always been able to manage everything in my life pretty easily. I guess I must have bragged about it to someone because now I am being humbled. I have to make some choices. WHAT? I don't want to. There is nothing I want to give up.

So how do I:

work 20 hours a week (I know I have to actually get a job first huh?)

blog 2 hours a day

work on Seminary lessons 2 hours a day

exercise for 45 minutes a day

drive Joe on the paper route for 25 minutes everyday before 5

spend at least an hour everyday on housework

practice the organ at church at least an hour a week (it's a long story)

entertain ( I love to have people over and play )

see Mama Mia once a week (yes, serious addiction )

fix dinner

can pears and applesauce (coming up in the next month. Peaches managed to squeeze in before the Seminary crisis)

read for fun

spend 2 hours a week in the yard

go to bookclub once a month

oh and pay attention to the 7 children.

I can't think of anything I want to give up but I have to. It can't be church callings. How do you get blessings if you are not fulfilling those :) Besides I am so excited about seminary even though my little personality is suffering greatly under the immense pressure. Hopefully I will soon discover that I am overplanning and it will work out. They say it is the most self sacrificing and demanding calling right after the bishop. That is why I wake up every morning at 4am with that sinking feeling they have the wrong person. Although if I keep waking up at 4am maybe I am the right person :)

I don't want to give up blogging. And we all know why that is.

I have already given up on the dinner thing so I could cross that off my "to do" list :)

I HAVE to work. There is just no other way to get around that. So no negotiating on that one.

Paying attention to the kids......probably should do that.

So I guess there is nothing to do but face it and figure it out. Guess I will have to brush off those old words like sacrifice, prioritize and choices. I hate those words. Even more than I hate not knowing how any of it will work out.

Aug 28, 2008

Letting Go?

Honest to goodness first day of school for the Kindergartner.
What can I say about the sweet 3rd grader? Isn't she cute?

The seventh grader who hopefully will come to realize during the course of seventh grade that farting is really not the funniest thing on the planet.

The freshman braving her first day of high school with her two very un -helpful sisters.

The senior and Junior heading off to high school........cheerfully.

Is it weird that I did not have a problem sending everyone out the door to school today?

I have become painfully aware over the last couple of years that I do things differently than most mom's.

The first time I realized it was one day about 5 years ago when I happened to have to go to the school on the morning of the first day of school and I was wondering at all the parents at the school. Why were they there? I always have put my kids on the bus and sent them to school on the first day. Isn't that what the bus is for? Even when they were in Kindergarten. I didn't even know you could go into the school with them on the first day. I felt a little lame when I realized it was something everyone seemed to do.

Amanda had an induction into the Jr Honor Society last year and I had no idea about it. She did not tell me I had to come so I didn't go and I just came and picked her up when it was over. Then I saw all the parents with their kids. I wish they would include in the info just a little note to indicate on a scale of 1-10 how necessary it is to be there for those of us who do not have that "6th parent sense" and know to go to everything.

To make up for it I was definitely at her 8th grade graduation. I luckily got a seat where I could see her. It had never occurred to me that I should remember to always ask my kids where they are going to be sitting at these events so I can try to get a seat where I could see them? I overheard some people talking about it and thought hmmmmm what a good idea. To earn extra "mom points" I even brought my camera to the graduation and I dressed up. But as I sat there all proud of myself I started looking around and I painfully realized that I had again "blown it." Everyone else had every single one of their family members there plus all their extended families. And everyone had something to give to their graduate like a balloon or a flower. And everyone else would rush out in front of everyone else right in the middle of the program to stand on their heads to get amazing shots of their child. I am a meek picture taker. I look around to make sure no one is watching me and I snap a picture. So I have a lot of great shots of various parts of my children's bodies at various events all taken in very poor lighting. But hey they are so lucky I even remembered the camera and even more fortunate that I used it :)

I think the picture taking thing I come by genetically. All the pictures of me at my high school graduation were taken by my boyfriend's mom. Which was all okay with me. I never felt deprived. I was the oldest of 6. There was a lot going on at my house. I knew my parents loved me and I can honestly only think of one real "selfish me" moment when I wanted them there and it was me playing the piano for some event. And they came they just had to be a little late.

I often drop kids at soccer or whatever and then go pick them up. And I have noticed that most parents stay and watch every move their child makes and chat with other parents most likely about me "the bad mom."

I have yet to go to BYU with my sophomore and help him get settled for college. What kind of mother am I?

The only excuse I can think of is 7 kids.....2 parents. Brian is often out of town and I simply cannot be a doting mother. I have rarely been able to be in their classrooms getting to know all the other kids and becoming part of the parent cliques. That is the painful part of it is that they all have 2 kids and sit and get to know each other and they have no idea that I am not off eating bon bon's instead of watching my child. Announcing to the other parents that you had to go do 6 other things for the 6 other children you have just increases your chance of being ostracized and gossiped about.

So letting go is strangely easy for me. I recognize the significance of the moments. And believe me with my last child starting kindergarten leaving me all alone with nothing to do but listen to silence and clean house without any interruptions I have definitely recognized the significance of this moment.

Aug 26, 2008


Welcome, Disappointment! Thy hand is cold and hard, but it is the hand of a friend. Thy voice is stern and harsh, but it is the voice of a friend. Oh, there is something sublime in calm endurance, something sublime in the resolute, fixed purpose of suffering without complaining, which makes disappointment oftentimes better than success! - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I think I can safely say that the hardest part of having teenagers is talking them through disappointment. Helping them to figure out how they will deal with it and what it will do to them. It was so fascinating to read through quotes on disappointment and see the many different ways throughout the years that people have referred to it. Disappointment can "refine one man's spirit and embitter another's." Disappointment is the "salt of life."

The recent disappointment crisis at our house has been soccer tryouts. Miriam has been playing soccer since kindergarten. She played on the JV and Varsity team in Indiana and it has always been "her" sport. She has been anxiously looking forward to soccer season in Massachusetts. We had heard rumors that the team was pretty exclusive and did not let new kids in and we refused to believe that. We had heard rumors that the girls were not nice and we discouraged Miriam from even thinking that that could be true. We had to work very hard to find out when practices were and when tryouts were. The information was not readily available. But we got the girls to some summer practices and tryouts where they started to quickly see that the nasty rumors were true.

Madeline and Miriam felt like they were living the life of the teens in the teenage movies they watch about unfairness like "Mean Girls" staring Lindsay Lohan. They were interested in the fact that outside the movies this world of meanness, unfairness and catty girl games really truly did exist. To make a very long story short. Neither one of the girls made the soccer team. It was a very sad day. The move had been so hard on them and Miriam had all her hopes riding on this soccer thing working out. She loves soccer. When we were in the mall last night shopping and she saw some soccer shorts she said to me, 'Mom, I am trying to forget about soccer but everywhere I look there is something to remind me of it. It is like trying to break up with something and it's face is everywhere."

Madeline bounced back quickly from the disappointment and was welcomed with open arms to the cross country team. Miriam hates cross country but I think she may end up doing it anyway. The day Miriam got cut from the soccer team Madeline went to pick her up from the high school and they came home with a bag of chocolate from the store they said some bitter and harsh words about their poor father who has to take all the blame for their misery in Massachusetts and then headed to the basement and watched TV for hours.

I felt the disappointment very deeply. I spent the whole day standing at the kitchen sink canning 28 quarts of peaches trying to sort it all out in my mind. Life cannot be perfect. We never get everything we want. How to help them to understand that and realize they can either "buck up" or have the disappointment eat them alive?

Disappointment has been around a long time. In 1788 when a British sea captain was searching southwest Washington State for the "fabled river of the west" he found himself so disappointed when what he expected to find was not there that he had no problem naming it Cape Disappointment.
I cannot imagine there being anyone that has not dealt with it in their lives. But so interesting that the psychological results of disappointment can vary a ton between individuals. In 2003 they even did a study of a group of children and found that there may be a "genetic predisposition" to slow recovery following disappointment.

All I know is that there is always a Baird child that is disappointed in this house. And I guess the only way to tackle that is to deal with that other word "expectations" :)

About the Ellipsis....

I know you all have been waiting for me to learn about ellipsis and then practice what I learn. And I am thinking of telling you many lies about the rules for ellipsis so that I can keep using them as I like. Why are there soo many rules for something so fun? Just in case you did not know ellipsis are these...... (dots). And if you read my blog often you know I love them. And now I am going to be brave and tell you what the rules of using them are. But I am going to boldly state that I cannot abide by the rules. And I will even go so far as to say there should not be rules for little dots that are so little and yet express so much.

I guess before I tell you the rules that some random punctuation geek made about ellipsis I should tell you what I think they are for so that you understand why I do not want them to have rules. Basically, I want to use them anytime I want. They are something you feel not a part of punctuation with rules. You are typing along and all of a sudden you realize that is the perfect moment for the dots. Sometimes 5, sometimes 9, sometimes 20......depending.

So the first real rule was that you can only use three of them? WHAT... how expressive are just three dots? Don't you understand my pain better if the sentence looks like this? " expressive are just three dots?"

Second rule, never begin a sentence with them. I guess I can obey that one. But no promises.

Third, use them to omit words and punctuation that you no longer need. This says to me that you have finished writing something that contains absolutely no dots and you look back and realize three little dots would work well in some spots where the words and punctuation don't. NO, no, no that isn't right. Remember you feel the dots you do not plan the dots. And by the way notice I cannot refer to them as ellipsis? Who tries to call dots something more than what they are?

Fourth, when an ellipsis ends a sentence you use both an ellipsis and a period......thus 4 dots all inside quotation marks. Hey, quotation marks? That caught my attention I better research. Does that mean dots are only used in quotes? ...........Okay I am back I googled "ellipsis dots" and found some fun information that makes me feel a little less restricted as to their use. Whew, now I won't have to eat chocolate to recover from my ellipsis depression.

An ellipsis refers to a mark or series of marks that indicate an intentional omission of a word or phrase. AND a ellipsis can be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, at the end of a sentence, or a trailing off into silence. There!! All the ways I use them.

And guess what? They have other names: suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, and incidentally my favorite, dot-dot-dot. Which just for your FYI the phrase dot-dot-dot made it into a film......Mama Mia.

Most importantly the ellipsis can be used to clarify or mislead, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. Don't worry......I always have good intentions :)

It is suggested that you use them to omit within a quote. But it is only suggested..... "Thank goodness."

I could not resist sharing with you this passage from my favorite Wikipedia. It made me giggle.

"An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Count Dracula says "I don't drink … wine", the implication is that he does drink something else, which in the context would be blood. In such usage the ellipsis is stronger than a mere dash, where for example "I don't drink — wine" might only indicate that the Count, not a native English speaker, was pausing to get the correct word."

So now if the conversation comes up I can talk about ellipsis with the best of them. But I will do so hypocritically because I will never use them as I should :)

Aug 24, 2008

Road Rage and Swearing.

Throughout my 39 years of life I have at times heard people make general statements about certain states and the driving skills of the people in those states. I always wondered how could the person really know for sure that everyone in that state was a horrible driver? Well for the first time in my life I am ready to go out on a limb and make a very general but without a doubt in my mind true statement, "Massachusetts drivers are horrible." Yes, I understand that I am now a Massachusetts driver and that statement now refers to me and to all of my dear Massachusetts friends. But I am not referring to their actual driving skills because I can almost understand their reasons for those. I mean there are SO many drivers crammed onto little, narrow, curvy roads. They have to have great pulling in front of each other skills.

The thing that causes me to state emphatically that they are "horrible" is their swearing and road rage skills. I have never lived anywhere where I have heard the horn so much. I have never lived anywhere where I have seen the back of so many people's throats and whites of their little eyes while they yell obscenities. I have never seen so many obscene hand gestures delivered. I feel bad for them. It takes so much effort to get that angry. And are they telling me they have never totally spaced how fast they were driving in the fast lane? Are they telling me they never ever have forgotten where they were supposed to turn? There is an awful lot of perfect drivers in little old Massachusetts.

Where do people learn to react by swearing and getting mad? I guess you guessed that I googled it and started reading and I was fascinated by the studies and graphs of swearing and road rage. There was one guy who suggested that we start our driver education when we are infants. Listening and learning from our parents how to react when someone cuts in front of us or makes a driving move that we deem as totally wrong. He claims we are a nation of yelling drivers and we pass that on to our children.

Why do people swear anyway? My kids have all noticed a huge difference in the amount of swearing that they hear here in Massachusetts as opposed to other places we have lived. I have been thinking about it a ton. I was shocked the other day when a car drove by me and a little old lady and a little old man were firing off obscenities and gestures at me. I don't understand it. I had some notion in my head that old people did not swear. Somehow I thought they knew better and had mastered their bad habits. My girls have been shocked at the language at soccer team tryouts this year the girls on the team swear so much. But strangely they don't swear near as much on the track team or the cross country team. Which is very random and wierd to me.

On the website "how stuff works" They said that people need an outlet for strong emotions and that is where swearing comes in. When we were kids we cried but now we need to swear? Also it gave 6 other reasons why we do it:

Establish a group identity

Establish membership in a group and maintain the groups boundries

Express solidarity with other people

express trust and intimacy (mostly when women swear in the presence of other women)

Add humor, emphasis, or "shock value"

Attempt to camaflauge a persons fears or insecurities

We also swear because it is expected or a habit. Swearing takes up 3% of adult conversation at work and 13% of adult leisure conversation. Some courts have determined that swearing creates a hostile environment and constitutes harassment.

There is a great children's book called Elbert's Bad Word by Audrey Wood. The pictures are great and it tells the story of a boy named Elbert who hears a bad word at a dinner party his parents are having. Through a chain of events he gets immensely hurt by a croquet mallet at the party and gets a chance to use his new found word very loudly and in front of all the guests. His mother washes his mouth out with soap. But it shows "the word" hiding under Elbert's tie. Elbert knows he has to do something more so he goes to the garden to find the wizard who lives there. The wizard makes Elbert a cake to eat that has some amazing alternative word choices baked into the cake. He goes back to the dinner party and another croquet mallet incident occurs and all the adults freeze waiting to see what Elbert will say and he chooses to say the words that were in the cake and the bad word slinks away into the ground to hide.

I wish it was that easy to get people to not swear. It sounds so horrible when they do it. It makes me so uncomfortable when they do it. It immediately changes the situation. Yes, I have done it a few times. But I never feel good about it after I do. That is why I am so amazed at how many people do it. Think of all those people feeling miserable.

I read that you need to not react when your kids swear. If you laugh or freak out. You are giving them the reaction they want and guaranteeing they will do it again. You need to give them alternatives. In the How Stuff Works article they listed some alternative swear words that made me smile :)
Jeep n Eagle
oh, biscuits
son of a monkey
zip zap

Interesting choices. What makes it so they would work?
All I know is that it seems nearly impossible to get the world to stop doing it. We are already so lazy in so many areas of our lives why would people want to go to the work to think of what they really want to say when they could swear? What do those people accomplish when they call me a name or toss a gesture my way when I am driving?

Aug 20, 2008

Don't read this if you are feeling skinny today :)

Sucking in when buttoning pants.......check

Googling "Spanx" when no one is looking.......check

Trying not to catch glimpses of myself in any reflective surface.......check

Yep, the goals have all been met and it is time again to pretend that I am going to exercise and eat right. But just enough things are different this time so as to tease me with hope that this time will be different. The main difference is I am telling you and telling the 4 people that read and comment on your blog has to make it official somehow doesen't it? Actually, here are the few other reasons why I think this time may be different:
  • The three teenage bakers are going back to school so they will stop making brownies and cookies every stinkin day and they will stop making me eat them.
  • I will be home alone during the day with lots of time to go run
  • I will already be getting up early in the morning to teach seminary.
  • I will be turning 40 in 72 days and I refuse to turn 40 and not look like Catherine Zeta Jones. (who happens to be my age......sigh)

The picture at the top is one I took of a poster hanging in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in New York City. It just cracked me up. And is so how I have been feeling. So wish me luck as I set the losing weight goal yet again.

Aug 19, 2008

Everything you wanted to know about commas!

Okay, today is the first day of my new life. I am learning about punctuation and grammar. Don't panic nothing intense enough to cause me to judge your writing. Just enough so I can knowingly make mistakes :)

I love to use punctuation I just do not understand how to use it. I throw it around like someone who thinks they know. For instance I love these........(little dots) I have no idea what they are called and what purpose they really serve but I somehow feel like they meet my needs oh so frequently. And what about :) I love the "smileyuation" especially when I am blogging there is no better way to tell you that I am smiling when I write something and that you should smile when you read it :) I use it way to often but hey I am a smiley kind of girl. I confess it took me a long time to figure out how in the heck you guys made "smiley" and then one day I looked at the keyboard and it dawned on me.....parenthesis DUH.

Okay, on to the serious art of punctuating. The first thing I found out was what punctuation is.....

"it is the art or practice of inserting standardized marks or signs in written matter to clarify the meaning and seperate structural units"

Already I was a little bored. But then I re-read it carefully and became mildly interested in the use of the word "art" in the defintion. And then I saw the word "clarify." I love the word clarify. I hate worrying that what I am saying is not clear. So just imagine how much clearer my lovely blogs would be if I used punctuation correctly.

So what do you know about commas?

#1. Commas can be used to seperate a list of items.
Like if I were going to tell you what I am going to do when I am done blogging. I am going to work on my seminary lesson for an hour, finish folding laundry, dry off all the wet toys from Natalie's water party yesterday, and make a shopping list. Notice that I used a comma before the conjunction "and" and before the final element on my list?? Just like I was supposed to. If only I knew for sure what conjunction meant :) I think that word was in a School House Rock video that I watched once when I was babysitting when I was a teenager.

#2. Commas are used to seperate phrases.
I am okay with this it makes sense but then they threw in some mumbo jumbo about this being especially true, "after a beginning dependent clause or a long prepositional phrase." At this point I am so thinking about what I am doing after school. Note to self, I really should look up what prepositional phrase means.

#3. Seperate 2 independent clauses that are seperated by a conjunction.
This makes a little bit more sense to me. Two phrases that could be independent, but you decide to throw in a conjunction when you are writing along like "and" or "but." Because of that conjunction you now have to throw in a comma for good measure. I think.

#4. Introduce a direct quote.
At dinner she was telling her husband all she had learned about commas on someone's blog and he said, "It sounds pretty boring."

#5. Seperate appositives!!!
This is where I completely "wigged" out. Who made up the word "appositives"? And why on earth do they need to be seperated? Let's just make a pact that if I ever write a non defining relative clause OR a noun or noun phrase you will not mention I should use a comma between them, okay?

Aug 17, 2008

Of wrapping paper and water balloons.

Exactly 6 years ago today. On her due date. So as to sandwich herself ever so thoughtfully between her dad's two business trips Natalie arrived at the hospital in Lawrence, Kansas.

Thanks to Amanda the party coordinator extraordinaire everyone's birthday in this family comes off very well......except hers. While watching Olympics last night she blew up balloons and taped them all the way up the stairs and on into Natalie's room. She hung up the birthday sign which really does appreciate seeing the light of day. She reminded me of the importance of wrapping paper.....not just wrapping paper PRETTY wrapping paper. I confess I really hate wrapping paper. You buy paper then you rip it off and throw it away. I have been known to wrap the kids presents in blankets. I have been known to fill kitchen pots and bowls with their presents and put the lids on. And all of it has traumatized my Amanda. Don't ever get her started. So notice in the corner of the picture that I managed to provide wrapping paper. Pretty wrapping paper, 2 1/2 yards for $3.00 wrapping paper. And I even had scotch tape on hand. (Yes, we have wrapped using duct tape before.)

I think all of Natalie's 6 year old dreams came true today. She did not eat one single healthy thing the whole day. Starting with Marshmellow Matey's (which remember you NEVER eat the matey's just the marshmellows) and ending with birthday cake at 9 tonight. She got way too much candy from her siblings and church. So I hope she enjoyed it because starting tomorrow we have some new rules in the Baird house for the "baby". Yes, we still slip and call our 7th child "the baby." We are trying to stop. But what else would you call the last child? OH....her name.

For her presents she got new shoes for school. A Fancy Nancy book. A huge Fairy color/sticker book that kept her busy for hours. I was determined after having 5 girls that have had oh so many birthday's that we did not need any more My Little Pony's, Littlest Pet Shop or Polly Pockets but I saw a really cute My Little Pony item and so she got one Little Pony thing. And I happened to have some sweet coupons for Barbie movies. So she got Barbie Island Princess and some other Barbie movie but I cannot remember which one at the moment. I think it is the one where Barbie is amazingly skinny, can talk to animals, has a beautiful voice and is compassionate to everyone.

Tomorrow is Natalie's first actual birthday party. It is funny how with the older kids I could not resist the urge to have birthday parties and with Natalie I put it off until she was 6 without one moment of guilt. She thinks because she has another party tomorrow that she will turn 7 tomorrow.

Tonight Zach and I spent way too much time figuring out the fine art of filling up water balloons for the party tomorrow. I used to have this truly amazing contraption that filled water balloons ever so nicely and I cannot find it anywhere. If I would have known that I would lose it I would have kept it in my scripture case:) After trying every faucet in the house, trying syringes and funnels I finally ended up at the faucet outside and Zach ended up at my bathroom sink. Zach was pretty proud of himself because he figured out how to use the funnel to TIE the balloons. It actually was amazing. I wish I could describe it to you but it is nearly impossible to describe. I told him he should quit pursuing that chemical engineering degree at BYU and sell his idea :)

Mamma Mia what a day !!

SHHHHH it is 12:26 am at my house and the computer is in my room and man I am married to who spent way too many hours and way too much gas money driving the YM/YW of the ward on the temple trip today is sound asleep and snoring.

But I have to blog. I just saw the greatest movie ever. I have never wanted to embarrass myself by showing an innocent movie theater my dancing and singing skills before. But watching Mamma Mia took every power of restaint I had to not bust some moves for all of MA to see. I am telling you that you must go get in the car right now and drive to the movie theater and sell all you own to buy a movie ticket to Momma Mia. Remember that pair of nice sisters called visiting teachers that come to your house once a month and always wonder how they can help you? Well collect on that now and get them to watch the kiddos. I probably would not recommend the movie to any man in your life unless he happens to own a old ABBA record or cassette. But take two girl friends and GO. And then take an extra $14.88 and on the way home stop at the old Wal Mart and buy the soundtrack.

I admire Meryl Streep. I am fine with her other movies. But there was something about her in this role that was amazing. She doesen't usually come across as beautiful to me but she was beautiful, funny and can definitely sing. Her two best friends were perfect in their roles also. I laughed and laughed and laughed and I then laughed some more. I was a little worried because the only laughter I could hear was mine and my two friends. I also wonder if anyone else was laughing an hour after the movie like we still were?

The movie has ABBA songs but the story is not about ABBA in any way. And just in case you need to brush up on your ABBA. Their group name was made from first letters of all their names. I still am not clear the correct way to pronounce that first "A". But oh well, I ma very careful to only talk about ABBA in front of people who love me enough not to sever our relationship over it :) So like if our family were to name our band our acronym would be BJZMMAJTN not near as catchy as ABBA. Of course you know the band was 2 married couples and did you know that they went on vacation together as couples in 1970 and were singing together on the beach for fun and that "fun" ended up as an improvised live performance for some United Nations soldiers stationed on the island they were visiting. To make a long story short they became superstars and wrote ever so many catchy songs that I have been known to sing at the top of my lungs in the privacy of my own home. Dancing Queen, Thankyou for the Music and never ever forget my favorite The Winner Takes It All. Sadly in 1979 ABBA's marriages to each other all fell apart and the magic was lost. But don't feel sad they still make tons of money from the millions of ABBA records that are still sold every year :)

So after a very long day at Seminary training it was so fun to go see this movie. I wish all my girlfriends from everywhere I have ever lived could have come to see it with me.

And now I better go to sleep tomorrow (oops I mean today) is church and Natalie's 6th birthday....busy day !!

Aug 14, 2008

AHH this symbiotic blogging world.

Do you remember your first attempt at decorating? No I am not talking about cutting out pictures of Ricky Schroeder and Bruce Penhall and hanging them on the wall along with the senior pictures of all your friends. I am talking about after you got married and had a car full of wedding gifts all in your "colors" parked outside your first apartment. Did you keep those colors? Do you still have pale blue and pink towels? Or curtains in colors you can barely stand to look at without cringing to think you used to LOVE them?

Well in case you have not noticed I had that "cringing" moment with my blog. Luckily it did not take me as long as it took me with my decorating :) And no all my towels are not orange, green and tan (colors of my long lost first blog page for those of you who missed it). In my defense I had looked at exactly one blog before I started my own. And I was just extremely proud that I had actually started a blog on my own. And thanks to all of you who said nary a word to me about the hideousness of it :)

I have been blogging for 8 months and in that time I have become so amazed at the huge symbiotic blogging world that is out there and all that I have learned:

I have learned how to thwart that crazy "word verification". (whoever comes up with those letter combinations must have a sick sense of humor) Just FYI if you say the letters outloud when you type them in you have a 63% of getting it right on the first try.

I have learned that using your kids real names is so uncool. (sorry about that Zach, Madeline, Miriam, Amanda, Joseph, Tatiana and Natalie.)

I have learned that if you care about how many comments you get you should take that little secret to your grave and pretend you do not check every hour for new comments.

I have learned that there are blogging conferences where "experts" come to talk about blogging. (I really wonder what they talk about)

Speaking of wondering I still wonder about a lot of things too:

What causes readers to flock to certain blogs? Is it because everyone else is there?

How much time do people take blogging everyday? (I have been on the computer way too much the last 2 days)

How many people in the world have a blog? (something to add to my things to google list)

What is the percentage of mormon women blogging? ( I seem to have an amazing ability to find them....I know, I know I am a mormon woman but I am still amazed at how I stumble across mormon women's blogs everywhere. Are we all trying to make money at home? :)

If you comment on someone's blog do you expect them to come to your blog and comment?

I wonder how to make words bold.

And I wonder how to make my pictures behave.

I could very easily be accused of overthinking it all. And speaking of overthinking I had NO idea how many people out there wondered about overthinking and how to stop it until I got this blog and named it. A lot of people come to my blog searching for answers about overthinking. Little do they know that I do not have answers for how to stop it. Just for fun I googled overthinking today and I had no idea that it is such a concern that there are books written about it. Most of the book titles involved the words "overthinking" and "women". Very interesting.

Anyway, I have decided to have a couple days that you can always count on the topics that will be on my blog. I know you are excited about this.

How about Punctuation Monday? Yes, it is SO true. I will pick something about punctuation or grammar and blog about it. Tell you what it means and prove that I know how to use it. Do not think you know everything I may surprise you. And the bonus is I may actually learn a few things :) But never fear I will never give up the smiley faces :) and these adorable........(dots).

And Wednesday will be "comment on a headline from my web browser day". My particular web browser is MSN and I read those headlines everyday and often wish I had the time to click on them. Like today one of the headlines heralded "invisibility cloak coming soon." Aren't you dying to know what that is about?

I have a few more "day ideas" but I do not want to limit myself. So I am going to try this for awhile and see. Feel free to comment on it. Remember even though it seems I don't care about your comments I really do :)
I was all set to blog today about the sad state of my garden but now I am oh so torn between which mental picture I want to paint for you the most the one of my ugly miserable garden or the one of the blankety blank computer?

Let's start at the beginning and work in everything. I walked out to the garden this morning to humble myself, take a picture of the tragedy that has struck the garden and finally tell you the truth about my garden. After I walked to the garden, in my bare feet ,tiptoeing across the lawn so as to try to avoid the dew that was still there. I got ready to take the picture and I realized I needed new batteries in the camera. Drat!! So I walked back across the lawn with the aforementioned dew still on it and changed the batteries. Then I went out again and took 2 pictures and then I heard the camera make a sound it had never made before and saw that my camera had sent me a message that said "memory card full" holy cow I never have earned that response before. I do not even know what to do if something's memory card is full. I do know enough to know if something is full it needs to be emptied so I am sure I will figure it out.

Anyway then I sat down at the computer and connected the camera to the computer with the magic white connector thing that always does what it is supposed to. Usually a little square pops up that gives me two options and I choose and voila my pictures are on the computer. Today the magic did not happen. The box appeared but the choices weren't there. I chose the patient route and tried the whole process again very gently and carefully. Same response. So I wiggled everything again. Still nothing. All of a sudden a very inconsiderate computer sent me a message to tell me it did not recognize the USB it even went to say dso far as to use the word "foreign". WHY?? It recognized it yesterday. It told me in a very patronizing tone to "try reconnecting." My first thought was that I have no proof but I know this is the teenagers fault. The teenagers who yank things out of the magic box and force thingsa into the magic box. The teenagers who always have the computer when I want it. It must be someone's fault and it is either theirs or Brian's. Definitely not mine. Definitely not just something that just happens. Because it ALWAYS happens to us. US and computers. US and cars. US and ipods. And now US and USB's. (whatever they are).

So while I am on a roll let me explain the garden. Up until about three weeks ago I was resisting the urge to blog about my oh so amazing garden every day. It was so beautiful and green and weed free. Now not so much. Something happened and I am desperate to figure out what it was. It has been raining a ton. So I could have a fungus. All I know is leaves on the tomatoes turned yellow, there were spots involved and then the leaves shriveled brown and crunchy and fell off. The tomatoes are wierd. They have hardly any seeds inside and the texture is "mealy?" is that the word? So I have a big box of tomatoes I should be canning but I am afraid I am letting them waste. I cannot face them. I confess when things get "yucky" I do not want to play anymore. And yes, I do this every year. The August garden is never my favorite. I love the garden all the way through July and then I have to force myself to make eye contact with it in August. I keep reassuring myself that it is my first year gardening in a new place with several issues that need to be resolved before perfection can even be dreamt of. So I am done complaining and I am going to go out there and pull everything up and start making plans for next year which will be perfect.

Aug 12, 2008

The Tooth Fairy visits New England.

Last night when I came home from walking the 5 year old met me as I pulled into the garage. She had lost her first tooth. My immediate reaction in my head was "Oh no isn't this too early?" But then I realized she will be 6 next week so it isn't to early. Then I thought to myself,"I did not even know she had a loose tooth." Usually they come to you every day for weeks with their tooth hanging on for dear life and you have to beg them to let you pull it out because it is driving you crazy. But that was not the case with Natalie. She apparently had her blanket in her mouth and used it to help her get a good grip on it and she just yanked and out it came.

She does not know that the tooth fairy in this house never graduated from tooth fairy school but since all she could talk about was the tooth fairy coming I decided it was never too late for the tooth fairy to redeem herself. I asked her how much she thought the tooth fairy should bring her for her tooth. And without hesitation she showed me five fingers and declared $5.00. I quickly did my best to squelch any hopes of that happening.

Before she went to bed she anxiously mentioned she might be afraid of the toothfairy (you see Natalie is very skilled at figuring out how to be afraid of just about everything) I told her she did not need to be afraid of the tooth fairy. So I got her all settled and just as I was leaving her room she sat up in a panic and said, "Is the tooth fairy small?" I said confidently, "Oh, yeah she is super small (thinking of my amazingly small figure...haha.) And she laid back down with relief and said , "Oh good I was wondering how she would get into the bag that my tooth is in."

I stayed up pretty late watching Olympics and working on some things and finally at about 1:00am I got $2.00 out of my purse and put them in a pink envelope and headed up to her room. I felt under her pillow very carefully and I could not find the tooth but strangely there was some money already there. For a moment I was a believer in the tooth fairy and felt bad for pretending to be her. And I was very confused. I started researching and discovered that the tooth fairy at our house is actually male and is 12 years old. Poor Joe remembered how lame the tooth fairy is at our house and had "covered" for her.

Natalie was over the moon this morning about her pink envelope and her money. And spent all morning following me around explaining to me all about tooth fairy's wands. And how they just wave their wands and they can make money. SIGH......I wish.

Aug 11, 2008

Do you need outside motivation to do what you know you should

Are you one of those people who needs to have a reason to get something done? Have you ever secretly wished you would get called as a Seminary teacher because then you would HAVE to study your scriptures?? I know it's lame. But hey you are reading the blog of the girl who ate 4 pieces of fruit pizza and two helpings of blueberry crisp with ice cream all in one 2 hour time period and yet this very same girl ate with obsessed exactness what she was supposed to when she had gestational diabetics during her pregnancies and HAD to. See a trend? The words "had/ have" and not the word "should." Sigh....I wish I could just do things without any outside motivation. Do them because it is what is right. Do them because it is what is good for me. But this has not happened in my life..... yet. I wonder if disciplined people are in the majority or the minority? I have never seen a bumper sticker or a t-shirt proclaiming that disciplined people "have more fun"? I iimagine that they do. I mean how fun is my loaded with guilt world?

So all of that said guess who just got a really good reason to study her scriptures, pray, be organized, cook dinner, go to bed early, exercise, and diet? Yep, it's me. Isn't it amazing what one little calling like teaching early morning seminary can do for a girl. HELLO motivation. All of a sudden I feel like I can do anything. It took me exactly one second to say yes to this calling. I have super strong opinions about how important seminary is. I have my serious doubts about whether I am the best person for the job at this moment in my life. But I know at some point down the road after I have prayed and studied my guts out I have a small shot at being the best person for the job.

Of all the people that stand out in my mind from my teenage years my seminary teacher Jana Southwick is the one. At first none of us liked her because she made so many rules but it did not take long for us to all adore her. I used to hang on her every word. I am not sure if I can have that kind of impact especially since three of my students are pretty tough customers with the same last name as me :) But nothing can squelch my excitement. Although it cannot be a good sign that I set my alarm for 5:45am this morning so I could study and run and at 4am I re-thought that and turned it off and woke up at 9:20am.

Aug 10, 2008

The perfect watermelon?

I love watermelon. But I hate choosing a watermelon. There are all kinds of myths out there for how to choose a good watermelon. I have tried them all. I have entertained many an audience in the produce section with my incredible "thumping watermelon with my knuckles" skills. But I quickly discovered that this method did not guarantee a good watermelon. And besides I was always just a little self conscious about rapping my knuckles on every melon within my reach and faking that I knew what I was listening for. I kept wondering what that perfect sound would be? Would it speak to me? Would an aura of light appear?

When we lived in Indiana I never bought a good watermelon the whole time we lived there. I eventually got discouraged, gave up and did not buy a watermelon for awhile but that just seems so anti summer to not have one. So a couple days ago I was in Costco and I felt like taking the risk again and Amanda was begging for a watermelon. And I ended up getting the best watermelon ever grown anywhere. Which is not going to be good because now I know they are out there and it is possible. Even more frustrating is that I have no idea how I got it. I had half heartedly rapped on a few of them out of habit and then I just picked one up and hefted it in the cart. I honestly cannot duplicate that. Although I did try to remember every detail of the purchase after I got home and discovered I had this awesome watermelon just in case I was tempted to come to some conclusion that my good watermelon was related to what I was wearing or thinking.

I keep forgetting how amazing Google is. Today I googled "choosing a watermelon" and I simply must share with you my newfound knowledge.

Did you know that once a watermelon is picked it does not continue ripening?

Did you know that rapping on a watermelon tells you nothing? (so seriously let's start a club to help everyone stop......Watermelon Rapping Anonymous)

Did you know there is a National Watermelon Promotion Board?

Did you know that watermelon are the hardest fruit to tell if they are ripe? ( I totally could have told you that.)

You should always turn the watermelon over and look for a yellow spot (not white) that shows that the melon ripened on the vine. (My question here is how do you know which is the top and which is the bottom of the watermelon?)

If you find firm, symmetrical and that yellow spot all on the same watermelon you should purchase right away.

You want it to be super hard to get into the cart....the heavier the better.
A whole watermelon can sit on your counter for 7-10 days. (just in case you have enough counter space for that sort of thing :)

You can buy this super strong box made of unbreakable polycarbonate and you can grow a square watermelon in that box and then you can sell your square watermelon in Japan for $82.00 U.S Dollars.

Seriously, Japan does not have near as much room as we do for frivolous things such as round watermelon in their grocery stores or their refrigerators. So someone thought outside the box.....actually in the box :) and did not assume that watermelon have to be round and figured out a way to make them square. I confess the idea is amazing and here is the world's longest link to the super fun article all about how they came about

I imagine though that a square watermelon still does not solve the issue of finding a good tasting watermelon everytime you buy one. And if I am living in Japan and paying $82.00 for my watermelon I would have some pretty high expectations about the taste.

Maybe it is too much to ask to want a great watermelon everytime you get one? But after tasting this perfectly sweet and juicy watermelon from Costco I am not so sure.

Aug 9, 2008

I have been waiting for this moment.

I can't believe it I have been "tagged." By my friend Kristy from the blog Kiki Ro and Newt. My friend Kristy who patiently mentioned the starting a blog idea to me at least a million times before I finally understood what she meant. My friend Kristy who helped me to understand that it was okay to take pictures of anything anywhere anytime. Yes, even in a Crate and Barrel store. My friend Kristy who always has a fridge stocked with beverages for unexpected guests. And if she followed through on a "tag" from someone then I can too :)

I am not really the type to do the "tag" thing. I rebel against chain letters. I can always be counted on to break the chain of anything and everything. Recipe exchanges, exchanging fabric for quilts, you name it I have ruined it for someone else by not passing on whatever it may be to 6 people within 6 hours on the 6th day of the month:) But strangely enough I have been waiting to be "tagged." So this is exciting. The way it goes is I answer the questions and then I "tag" someone else. I do not know if I can pull off the tagging someone else part but we will cross that bridge when we get to it my biggest concern at the moment is actually answering these 6 questions I have to answer and then I will see if I have enough energy left to tag someone else.

4 places I visit over and over ( to me this meant at least twice a week)

Wal Mart (glamorous huh?)

4 people who call, e-mail, or text me regularly

Ann Taylor Loft
my children ( Mom, Can you pick me up?")

4 favorite foods

anything with cilantro
homemade rolls

4 places I would rather be

Prince Edward Island
Mukilteo Island, Washington

4 movies I would watch over and over

Better Off Dead
War Games
A Room With A View

4 bands/groups or musicians

At this exact moment? There are sooooo many and they change often but okay here is what comes right off of the top of my head.

Good Charlotte
Sara Barielles
Miley Cyrus (her new Cd just released is actually very good.)

So wasn't that exciting? Sometimes it is fun to know stuff about other people it helps them to become endeared to you and it helps you to be able to love them enough to ignore their incessant use of these gosh darn "smiley" faces :) :) and these adorable ........ which I need to know what they are actually called if any of you know.

Aug 7, 2008

Silliness at the beach and Sweet 16.

Today was Miriam's sweet 16 birthday party. She has been watching way too much T.V this summer because she found a TV show that documents kids...... Sweet 16 birthday parties. Amazing parties where famous people drop by and "loaded" parents lavish the 16 year old with every desire. She has been claiming that this was an experience she must have.
Well let's just say we compromised. And today we loaded up our famous van with 4 of her friends, one of Joe's friends, Joe, Natalie and Tatiana and headed to Rhode Island to Misquamicut our new favorite beach. If only it wasn't everyone else's favorite beach too. Growing up in Seattle I have this warped idea of beaches because I have some notion you wear warm clothes, that hardly anyone else is on them and you rarely go in the water and you can find cool rocks and sand dollars. So it is a shock for me when the parking lot is full at MY beach and that other people are at MY beach and there are very few rocks and shells. But I am getting used to the idea of going to the beach meaning that people you do not know and never will know are in the backgrounds of your family pictures.

Today we got a brilliant idea to bury Joe and his friend Logan. So we dug a huge hole and they laid down in it facing each other with their legs stretched out in front of them and then we covered them all back up again with sand. Except for their heads. Then we threw chips and crackers on the sand between them and all sat back to watch and see if the seagulls would come and snatch the food. And they did. Joe and Logan were very patient and sat there for at least 30 minutes. It startled many people walking by to just see these 2 heads in the sand. It was very amusing. And people around us were chuckling when the birds started swooping down for the food.

The rest of our time was spent swimming and playing in the sand. What more could you want? I did try to read a little of "the book" of which I only have a 1/4 left. I also spent some time observing what other people take to the beach and realized I am sadly lacking in the beach gear department. Chairs would make life significantly better, coolers with wheels, a cover-up for my swimsuit (so I could actually wear it), and an umbrella. It is funny these are things I never thought of on my own. But after watching carefully I noticed there is world out there that absolutely understands how to make the beach a stellar experience.

Miriam had a great birthday. She is extremely difficult to shop for. And her birthday list always has near to impossible things on it like: a puppy, passes to Six Flags, highlights in her hair?? and such. So I read between the lines and did my best at getting her nothing on her list. Thankfully the next birthday is Natalie and buying for a 6 year old is very easy. She wants everything.

Aug 6, 2008

"Stop it!"

Yes, this is what I have said at least a hundred times this morning and you know what that means? I am right smack in the middle of reading Breaking Dawn. Why do "they" (AKA kids) seem to sense when you need them to entertain themselves? Is it so much to ask? Why can't I just be as selfish as a teenager and not feel guilt about it? Why isn't someone else making dinner and cleaning? Ahhh how I long for the days that I could sit on the couch curled up with my book and not have any cares on my mind except for the cares of the characters in my book. How mood ruining to be reading about vampires while children are running, screaming, and touching each other. And it is not nearly as comfortable to be reading it behind the only door that locks......the bathroom. I have been a good mom to them this summer with trips, fun and friends. And so when we have one day that we are not in the car or having friends over they do not know what to do with themselves. I have that feeling that you have before you think to yourself"I can't win".

So before I make you realize what a grump I am and make you wish I would stop being so negative I am going to go spend one hour of quality time with the Baird children and then I am going to read some more :)

Aug 4, 2008

Misquamicut.....aka the beach.

I am still catching up on all the fun things we did with Aunt Rachel and her family when they were here last week. One destination that was a "must" on our list was the beach. I have only lived in New England a short while so I am still gathering info on good beaches to go to. Luckily some friends had told me I must go to Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island. It is exactly 1 hour and 59 minutes from my house to this beach and along the way you happen to drive right past Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut so that was good info to file away for another time.

When we arrived we were not sure where to park so we just drove along the edge of the beach surveying the situation and we started to notice signs claiming $10.00 to park. But we quickly discovered that those signs should read "$10.00 to park if you are NOT driving a 15 passenger van with 11 people in it." So we paid $20.00. Which still makes me a little grumpy if I think about it. But we were able to walk right onto the beach from our $20.00 parking spot so that was nice.

The kids headed straight for the water. I was amazed at how quickly the cautious Baird kids threw all caution to the wind and started jumping waves and body surfing. (Well all except Natalie.) It was crowded on the beach but it was the kind of crowded that you do not notice unless you look up and look past your spot and then you notice, "Hey there are a lot of people here." Tatiana and cousin Emily played and played and played in the water until Tatiana got stung by "something"(possibly a jelly fish) on her wrist.Nobody saw it happen or saw what it is so we really do not know) After her encounter with "something" I had a hard time convincing her to get back in the water. But soon all the kids were busy supporting Tatiana's fear by sitting along the waters edge digging out sand to create pools of water that were declared to be "jelly fish free pools." There were quite a few jellyfish in the water and Uncle Bernd caught a few for the kids to look at. I have noticed the last couple of times we have been by water in Massachusetts and Rhode Island there has been jelly fish involved in very large numbers. I have become curious about why there are so many, what brings them, and just about them in general what they eat and if they have any bitter feelings about their extreme ugliness. No offense meant if you happen to adore jelly fish :)

AHHHHH what a great life. Even to me the cautious, not really enjoying to get dirty, only one for miles of beach wearing her sweats and a shirt Joe lying on the beach like this without a care looked very tempting. I will remember before I go to the beach next time and I am consciously choosing not to take my suit that I attracted just as many looks standing on the beach in my sweats as I would standing on the beach in my swimsuit :)

I strongly dislike sand and this dislike is due to sands amazing ability to end up in my car, my house, my laundry, my camera, and my food. However, I do recognize that there is nothing better than sand for setting up army guys in. Joe never forgets his huge box of army guys when he knows that he is heading to someplace sandy. And thankfully cousin Jeremiah feels exactly the same and they spent hours setting up army guys in the sand.

And look at what fun Aunt Rachel can have with sand. I thought these were the cutest faces in the sand that I had ever seen. And of course wished I was as creative as my sister :) I love all the different kinds of seaweed that was available for hair.

We arrived at the beach at 10:30am and we left at 2:30pm since we had to get back for Joe to run his paper route. We are planning to go again this Thursday with a car load of teenagers to celebrate Miriam's 16th birthday. I am really looking forward to going again even if it means wearing the swimsuit that definitely has the word slimming on the tag :)

Aug 3, 2008

I have it. Do you? anyone there? Are you all reading Breaking Dawn? I am ever so sad to say I am not yet reading. How inconvenient that it was released on the same day as Amanda's birthday. I tried to pretend I would be waiting to get my copy but Madeline only had to ask once if we could go at midnight to pick it up and I was so there. We left at 11:30 pm to drive to the humble Holyoke Mall. I was dressed but had my curlers in my hair so I sent her in while I sat in the parking lot. It was so interesting to sit there and watch cars barrel up, park, doors fly open and girls, mothers and the occasional member of the opposite sex get out and walk fast or even run for the Border's entrance. Even in the parking lot I could sense the excitement and the anxiousness. Madeline said waiting in line was interesting. All kinds of talk flying around about Edward and Jacob. People with t-shirts proclaiming which one they were for.

The more I am on the Internet and out in public the more amazed I am by how well known these books are. And by how much merchandise is coming up. Chocolate with special Twilight labels, T-shirts and oh so much more. If I was smart I would have thought of something brilliant to market awhile ago. Everywhere I look someone is blogging about it. I found a blog of someone who lives in Washington and was going to Forks, Washington for the release of the book. Can you imagine how little old Forks is benefiting from this book? (And this is where I get to brag that growing up in Washington I have camped in La Push, Washington a few times. My dad even lost our car keys on the beach there.....or maybe a werewolf stole them?)

Anyway, Madeline started reading the minute we got home that night at 12:50 am. I had to literally wrestle it out of her hands on Saturday morning so that she would do her jobs and then I never saw her again the whole day. I am not proud to say that she finished the last 5 pages in sacrament meeting today. She has not said a thing to me about the book. No reaction whatsoever. Which is curious to me. Usually after she is done reading a book she has been anxiously waiting for she will be following me around trying to talk about it and exclaiming about how good it was.

I am afraid to start because I will have to ignore everything in my life for the amount of time it will take me to read it. How does a mother of 7 do that? Well watch and learn :)

So things I have to do so I can not be engaged with the world for about a day and a half ?

1. Finish this blog.
2. Go make Amanda's birthday dinner of chicken noodle soup and butterdips.
3. Get my sheets out of the dryer and make my bed.
4. Pick up the clothes on the floor of my closet.
5. Go see the 4 th of July bagpipe band, fireworks and F-15 flyover that got moved to tonight August 3rd. Which pushes my reading time back to after 10 at least.
6. Read Tatiana and Natalie a few books so I have no guilt while I am ignoring them.
7. Ask all the kids if they need anything that they cannot wait to ask me about until Tuesday evening.
8. Unfreeze all the bread and set out peanut butter and jam.
9. Write IOU's for Miriam who was inconveniently born on August 6th and will expect presents.

So if you have read it do not tell me details but I would love to hear if you loved it or not and if you have it.

Aug 1, 2008

New York City with 4 parents and 11 kids.

Well Aunt Rachel and her family left this morning to head back home to Pittsburgh so I am playing catch up on the blog. We had so much fun and did so many things it may take a couple days. So today we will cover our second trip to New York City since moving here which took place on Tuesday.

New York City trips start early at our house. We got all of us, the food, the cameras, the diapers, things to do in the car, carmex and the serious grumpies out of the house by 6:30am. The kids were great on the way into the city. I was not. About half an hour away from the city I realized that I had to go to the bathroom. I had drunk too much water on the trip down. Just FYI when you are a half an hour away from where you are going to park in New York City and your husband has accidentally missed the turn for his "secret way into the city" and is currently heading for New Jersey with no idea how to head back it is not a good time to casually mention you "really" have to go to the bathroom. I held on like nobody in the history of the world has held on until he dropped me downtown the city at the Port Authority building on 42nd street while he parked. Finding a bathroom in New York City is definitely a topic I could blog about all on it's own. Suffice it to say that without any indication of how uncomfortable I was I gracefully rode the escalators down three levels to the bathrooms in the Port Authority building. I even waited in line....smiling :)

Everytime I go to New York City I learn something new. Something that will make the next trip better. So you better hope that you are the company that comes with us the time I finally get it all perfect and treat you to the best trip to New York City ever.

Rachel and I decided our goal this time was to save money. So we researched and made decisions with this in mind.

We always park not many blocks from Times Square. And so that was our first stop. (After potty stops for everyone else:) I have no idea why I love Times Square. There is so much going on. So much to see, smell and hear. I notice something new everytime I am there.

After that we headed towards Grand Central Station. And of course when you are there standing inside the amazing, huge main room looking at all the details in the designs on the ceiling and windows and taking in all the people coming and going on subways, trains and buses you think of all the times that your mother ever said to you, "It is like Grand Central Station in here."

Transportation takes awhile to figure out anytime the subway is involved. I am determined to master getting around in New York City. I hate always having to wonder if there is a better, easier way. But when you are trying to transport our large group I guess easy is not a word you should attempt to use. But we finally figured it out and got all 15 of us on the express subway down to the Staten Island Ferry.

We had decided to try the Staten Island Ferry since the word free was involved. We read that you could see the Statue of Liberty and the skyline and that sounded good to us. When we read about other ways to see the Statue of Liberty they involved words like reservations, lines, security, lots of money, closed off since 9-11 and time, lots of time. So we thought what harm would it do to try out free. I forgot that free is a powerful word that lots and lots and lots of people like the sound of it. So we were herded onto the free ferry with everyone else and elbowed our way to spots where we tried to see the skyline and the statue. Luckily Natalie has no problem calling it like she sees it and started exclaiming in her loud 5 year old voice that she, "Can't see", and wondering out loud "Why are all these people here?" So she was able to clear us a spot. When we got to Staten Island our plan was to just turn around and come back and we were assured if we hurried this could happen. But it was not so. So we waited in extremely pressing crowds for the next ferry to arrive. So I could now write a book on how to convince your children that standing in a crowd with people pressing on every side is fun. I could write about how long a bag of licorice would last in this situation, I could write about how to ignore your 5 year olds random questions about the extreme size and smells of the other people around you who are all listening to her ask, I could write about the shoe game where you look at everyone else's shoes and pick a pair you like. So you get the idea. It was a "make lemonade" situation. We finally got back to the city and managed to get some pictures of the statue and skyline on the way. And I resisted the urge to suggest we try it one more time just to see if there was a way to make it better :)

After the ferry ride we walked through the financial district towards "ground zero." Don't ever think the word walking is not involved in a New York City trip. All 16 of us walked at different speeds so we were usually spread out along the length of the block.....okay sometimes even 2 blocks. I seemed to have won the prize and everyone who felt miserable and uncomfortable at any given moment wanted to be with me and tell me about their feelings. So I spent a lot of time talking about how fun this was and distracting the afore mentioned complainers. But despite my well earned bragging rights Brian swooped in at the last minute and snatched my bragging rights when at a moment much later on in the trip he ended up with Natalie on his shoulders needing to go to the bathroom and I will leave the rest to your imagination :)

There is a lot of hustle and bustle by the "ground zero" sight. They are building furiously. As with all of New York City you have to take time to stop and really think about what happened in the spot where you are standing. I was surprised when I did the math on their birthdays and realized that Tatiana and Natalie really did not know what had happened here.

After "ground zero" we got back on the subway and rode up to Central Park. The quote of the day came here when we came up the subway steps (where you often forget that the world is still going on up above you) and Natalie saw the city again and exclaimed in a incredulous voice, "Oh my gosh are we still here?" And yep we still were. If you need to ask about doing New York City with a 5 year old we should chat.

Central Park was all about Madeline. When she was little I think she watched the movie Balto 9 million times and all she wanted to do on this trip was find the Balto statue in Central Park. So she consulted the map at the entrance, committed it to memory and led the way. At times I was doubtful and tempted to declare the attempt a failure but then I turned the corner and there she was hugging the Balto statue I was happy we made her dreams come true. So the Balto statue is the wallpaper on her cell phone and she made sure we all got plenty of pictures of her hugging it.

So what did I learn this time in New York City ?

#1. You cannot ever have a good hair day in New York City.

#2. Free is sometimes not always best.

#3. Take time to stop and really focus. The city is so busy and loud you can easily not give yourself a minute to remind yourself of all the amazing things you are seeing and all the amazing people that have walked the very streets you are walking.

#4. Never drink water on the way into the city.

#5. Brush up on your ability to distract people from their miseries before you go.

So tune in tomorrow when I blog about our beach trip to Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island.