Sep 30, 2008


I know it is way too early in the year to be complaining about fixing lunches so I won't but let's just talk about how packing a lunch makes us feel shall we? For me it is complete and pure agony to figure out what to put in that lunch box. Not only do you have to think about what will last and taste good in a couple hours but you have to consider your child and what they like. And then once you figure out what they like be assured that after you dutifully make sure it is in their lunch every single day that within a few weeks they will be tired of it. And then there is that hidden worry that the teachers are laughing and wondering at your child's lunch. I can imagine them walking around the lunchroom peering over shoulders at contents of lunches and saying in their minds, "good mom, bad mom, good mom, bad mom." What happened to the days when Pa from Little House on the Prairie would take some bread and butter with him to work?

Joseph has a ton of food allergies so his lunch is very limited. I actually have to hide the few items that he can have in his lunch because everyone else in the family wants his special fruit leathers and applesauce. He cannot eat crackers like normal kids so we buy him these rice crackers from the health food store. They are actually very good but they have a certain smell. And anytime he eats them at school ( and in our car) everyone, and I mean everyone, goes on and on about how much they smell, and consequently makes fun of him, so Joe will no longer take the rice crackers to school thus limiting his choices to go in his brown sack even further. Why can't the kids at school just deal with something different in someone's lunch?

I don't pack the teenagers lunches but I still know what they put in them because they leave it all out on the counter for me to thoughtful of them.

If there is anything "good" in the house for lunches my children act like vultures. Some of them will just try to take the whole package of the "good" food with them to school. Others will eat the "good" food for every meal and snack until it is simply gone. At our house "good" means that Pepperidge Farms Goldfish were under $1.50 a bag and I bought some or that I had an extra $9.69 laying around and bought the huge 80 pack of fruit snacks from Costco.

Tatiana and Natalie have learned fast and they must take the "good" stuff and hide it. Last week I noticed that every morning Tatiana would appear at lunch packing time with goldfish for her lunch. I finally figured out that she had hid them in a very secret place that I cannot even tell you. But it was a very good place and she was able to have goldfish in her lunch for many days. Someone moved a chair in my bedroom for a baby shower the other night and lo and behold there was a package of Pepperidge Farms zesty cheddar goldfish laying there. Do you get the feeling that I should just feed the kids nothing but Pepperidge Farms Goldfish for 3 weeks solid so they no longer consider them a treat?

Now my Natalie has figured out how to get good stuff when there is no good stuff in the house and I am fascinated by it and a little worried about it. I keep noticing when I empty her lunch box when she comes home from school that there are wrappers to things I NEVER buy in her lunchbox. Little Oreos was the latest wrapper but there have been many other wrappers of pre packaged fun, exciting, glamorous foods that a mom of 7 just simply never buys. I asked her about it and she always has a name of the child who gave it to her and a kind sharing story to go with it. I have no idea if she is bullying, begging or simply asking. It cannot be trading who would want her oatmeal (joking), carrots or raisins? I keep telling her it is not good manners to ask other kids for what is in their lunches. But Natalie has a sugar obsession that knows no reason and nothing I pack for her is ever eaten....unless it involves sugar.

Sep 27, 2008

Some pictures I have been meaning to post.

Here is Amanda and her friend Emily at their cross country meet last week. Madeline would not let me photograph her. I even tried various "paparrazzi" methods to catch her and no luck. But hopefully in the upcoming meets I can manage to surprise her and get her picture.
When we talked about the plan of salvation in seminary I got this idea from the manual and stretched a string across the room and attached all the parts of the plan to paper clips and then hung them on the string as we talked about them. And guess who could not resist it? That darn cat.....Kittromney. One day I came downstairs to get ready for Seminary and "mortal life" was laying on the floor. I cussed in my mind about the short "mortal life" of that cat as I picked it up and put it back on the string. Then she left the plan alone for a few weeks. Then about 2 days ago I came downstairs and she had been yet again climbing the toy shelves trying to snag the parts of the plan of salvation that dangle so temptingly in the air. This time the whole string was sagging and the premortal existence and the spirit body were on the floor. And she had even knocked the box of Barbies on the floor. The seminary kids enjoyed saying that Kittromney had destroyed the Plan of Salvation. I just gave up on my wish to keep it up all year and took it all down.

This was a picture from one of those glorious summer trips to New York City. This was on the Staten Island Ferry. Do you see the pain in Amanda's face? I was trying to convince her that all was right in the universe.

This is a picture I took of my sister Rachel when we were in Boston one day.

This is a bad habit that I have. Sweeping the floor and then leaving the pile. In Indiana we had a central vac system in our house so this little, very attractive pile rarely happened. But in all my other houses it has and guess what? I know exactly why. Lame dustpans that do not pick up everything. So rather than leave that little thin line of stuff that refuses to go in the dustpan I just do what definitely makes more sense and leave the whole pile.

Here is a picture of the living room from last February when it was amazingly clean. When I was scrolling through pictures and saw how clean it was I was awe struck. No, I still do not have curtains or paint. But I dream of both things happening daily. It is awfully hard to chose paint for a room with couches you know you are not going to have forever.....actually the word hate would fit nicely in the same sentence as the couches :)

Here is Miriam and Joe at the beach on Labor Day. I just loved this picture of them. They really are the best of friends. Like two peas in a pod. They have run away together. Tormented Amanda together. And de-pantsed ( how on earth would I spell that?) each other more times than I can count.....touching huh?

Sep 26, 2008

Twenty one Letters...Three Words.

Christmas Card Pictures.......I never know the exact day when the thought will come to my mind but rest assured right before October every single year it does. And once it does it consumes my mind until it is over. I mean this is a very important moment that can make or break your year. This could be the year that all 90 people you send it to love your card so much that they frame it with a frame they did not buy on clearance and hang it on the wall with their own family pictures.

It seems to me that everyone else in the world has matching outfits just laying around for this "Christmas card picture taking occasion" and not only do you all have matching outfits on hand but I imagine that your kids and husbands eagerly look forward to wearing them, I imagine that everyone in the family AGREES on a spectacular setting for the picture, I even imagine everyone lets you do their hair exactly the way you want it.

Let me tell you that every year I have to struggle through the whole process.

The first step in the process is to notice some poor unsuspecting soul in your ward who takes pictures and does a really good job.

Then you take this person dinner every night for 6 weeks "just because." You mow their lawn "just because". You do their calling and yours "just because."

Then sometime in the end of September you beg them to take your christmas card picture, You tell them all they need to do is:

  • Bribe your 7 kids and husband to smile

  • Make you look skinny,

  • Ignore the family fighting that happens between photos,

  • Say NO when your husband asks if the cat can be in the picture

And they have it easy because your part is this:

  • Go through every closet searching determinedly for matching outfits for 9 people.

  • Figure out a time when the wind will not be blowing, the lighting will be perfect and everyone will be home at the same time to take the picture.

  • Change your mind about the matching outfits at least 4 times.

  • Give up and figure out how to make "matching christmas picture outfits" look like a trip to the grocery store in the budget.

  • Repeat at least 100 times to each and every person you gave birth to, "I am the mom and this is the only time in the whole year that I tell you what to wear and you will wear it."

  • Stand your ground on the NO pets in the picture policy.

Funny and very true story on that very topic....Brian seems to think the family pets need to be in the christmas card picture and one year he put a fighting, scratching, hissing cat inside a laundry basket put another laundry basket on top, loaded the "carrier" in the car along with 7 children and a grumpy wife drove to the picture location never once thinking about the cat running away once we got there.

It is hard enough to get the kids to behave let alone to throw a pet in the mix. But bless his heart if he does not try every year to get the pet in the picture.

Last year everyone was more than mad about having to move from the land of milk and honey to desolation. But I had a perfect picture idea, us in our empty living room with boxes. We arranged the boxes into a fun formation we placed ourselves around them. We begged the unsuspecting friend and her son to come take the picture. We took it after church which statistically is the best time to increase your odds of everyone looking okay. But Madeline would not cooperate. She would not comb her hair. She frowned in every picture. Brian yelled at her between every shot and I think he actually physically dragged her to the picture and even combed the 17 year old's hair. Needless to say no one got a picture last year because of a teenager that I actually love a lot. Good times!!

This year I think may be the year that I actually stop trying to pretend that we are perfect. The year that I give up and let everyone....gasp...wear what they want and do their hair any way they want. The year that I enjoy all the pre picture, during picture and yes, even after picture fighting instead of dejectedly listing in my head all the families I know who I know never fight.

Maybe I will even write a christmas letter that doesn't rhyme because not much rhymes with fighting anyway.

Sep 25, 2008

The grass is always greener.

According to the neighbor when the builder planted my grass he just threw down seed and that was that. She said from her side of the fence it looked like I had the "grass god's" smiling on my side. She said she and her husband were always wondering how a house with no one living in it and grass with no attention was doing so well. But all of that stopped when I moved in and she actually came over to this side of the fence and saw the grass up close. Then she felt ever so much better about her grass. It is so funny how from a distance things can look so great and then you get up close and realize they are not so great. I am sure this is a moment I could give you an inspiring thought for the day but I'll pass.

I agonize over the lawn daily. I do not necessarily need it to be absolutely perfect but I do need green everywhere I look. I am not too picky at this point in my life as to what the green is as long as when you mow it from a distance it looks lush and green :) I am sure you have enough information now to effectively analyze my personality.

So throughout the summer I have been choosing spots and raking them really good and hard and throwing seed down and watering. I think it may take me forever but I do not want to attempt to do the whole lawn at once that is a lot of sprinkler dragging. Yesterday I noticed little green poking up in the latest spot. There is nothing more rewarding then throwing down seeds and getting results, it makes me ever so happy.

In the back of my mind I know there are a lot of things to know about growing a lawn. I know there are months that you do certain things. But as you can tell from the picture my priorities are elsewhere. Besides it costs so much money to buy all the bags of stuff that need to go on the lawn.

When I drive Joe on the paper route I longingly and jealously look at the beautiful lush green lawns in these established neighborhoods and try to remind myself that their lawns have been around a lot longer than mine and everyone's lawn had to start somewhere.

Sep 24, 2008

What to do about the bullies?

Why do there have to be bullies? What makes someone end up being a bully? How on earth do we deal with them when they sit on the bus behind our assigned seat and we cannot move from our assigned seat to get away from them?

I was very interested in what the actual definition of bullying was and it happens to be, "when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person." There are a lot of ways the bully does this:

by calling names

saying or writing nasty things about them

leaving them out of activities

not talking to them

threatening them

making them feel uncomfortable or scared

taking or damaging their things, hitting or kicking them

making them do things they do not want to do.

Whew, what a list. And I think it caught me by surprise how many things fall into the definition of bullying. I recognized a lot of behaviors on the list that sadly several grown ups have tried on me. It is worse to be bullied when you are grown up because who do you tell? You have to solve it yourself.....bummer.

Joe is being bullied on the bus by two kids who have nothing else to do. He tried to fight back by taking one of their hats and threatening to throw it out the window one day but he quickly realized that did not work. Everyday he has been giving me an update. I was not sure how to tell him how to deal with it. I understood his reluctance to "tell on them" because then they would just be meaner to him. But one day when he came off the bus and burst into tears because they had been dumping hand sanitizer in his hair I realized I could not be passive anymore. My first thought was to just pick him up from school everyday but that did not seem like the right way to deal with it....running away? I questioned Joe about if he was doing anything to them. I am the kind of mom who never believes that my kids are perfect because no kid is. So I talked to the vice principal who happened to have already heard from other kids on the bus about these boys. And he talked to Joe about it.

The boys found out that Joe told on them and they have been swearing at him and threatening him on the bus because of it. He has decided that humor is the way to deal with it. Which is how I remember dealing with it when kids would try to upset me about my height or about the fact that I wore dresses all the time. So he just smiles at them but I am still irritated by it. A small part of me feels sorry for the bullies parents how hard it must be for them to try and figure out how to get their kiddos to stop being so mean.

When I remember what I dealt with at school everyday, especially in Middle School, I wonder why I send my kids out the door everyday. But I can't hide them from the world. Bullying is everywhere people interact. Yes, even at church. That's where I have unfortunately run across it the most. A big part of bullying is threatening your victim into social isolation. And you can do that is a variety of creative ways....gossip, refusing to socialize with someone, criticizing the victims manner of dress, mocking, even laughing at them. It is so strange that I always thought of bullying as something that you have to deal with when you are a kid not when you are a grown up. Shouldn't we know better?

Why would you bully? Because you feel jealous of someone? Because someone else is bullying you? Because you resent someone? To make yourself feel better by making someone else feel bad?

All I know is my kids have at least one experience with bullying every school year so they should be experts by the time they get to college. One time for Tatiana it was a 5 th grade boy telling her she had hair on her face and harassing her about it everyday. The sad part is with some of my kids it has not been as easy to find out about it as it has been with Joe. You have to do a lot of detective work when you are a mom. Trying to figure out why they are acting the way they are. I wonder how I would know if my kid was the bully?

Nevertheless that is the excitement for the day at our house.

Sep 22, 2008

Dear Word Verification Dude.

Okay I understand that all of you may not understand about the agony of word verification but I still must write about it. It is KILLING me. Who is the person that is sitting in a little cubicle somewhere laughing hysterically at these word verification letter combinations? I bet this guy...yes, I am pretty sure it is a guy, very possibly a guy who was teased in elementary school and maybe a year of middle school also. I can see him sitting there creating these letter combinations that are nearly impossible and then calling out to his office with giddy glee, "Hey, you guys come check out this letter combination it is definitely better than the last one." And all of them half heartedly drag their chairs over to his desk to admire his latest creation and comment on how many "x's" and "j's" it has. I am telling you these word verifications are getting super tough. And I think they are getting longer too. I mean today I had jxuptxz and I know it does not mean anything to you just looking at it here on my plain blog but when it is in that wavy freaky close together "way" it is tough.

I know word verification is for my benefit. It makes sure a machine is not collecting info for illegal purposes but my dear word verification guy does it have to be so tough? The definition of word verification is a "type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether the user is human." I understand the word "challenge" may have mislead you to think I want it to be hard or like it to be hard but does it have to be so hard to determine whether I am a human or not? Just ask me what my favorite food is? Or ask me if I am dieting? Or how I feel about word verification, wouldn't that be easier?

Did you all know that that word verification is called a CAPTCHA? And that term was started in the year 2000 and it is a contrived acronym for Completely Automated Public Turning test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. And guess what that means? That there is no "word verification dude" it is a computer. But don't oyu like the idea of it being a person better? And you know why the words are getting annoyingly longer? Because a "bot" still has a chance of figuring out the word and as it does it can use the information to progressively improve...I sense a movie script coming..."Attack of the Word Verification Bot." In order for the CAPTCHA to be resistant to those darn "chance guessing botnet attacks" you and I would be forced to solve an annoyingly large number of images and thus we come full circle :) I got the impression they are working on that but the words were getting way to big and boring for me to continue on with my reading. So I am off to catch up on my commenting on blogs and agonize over more word verifications.

Sep 18, 2008

The little black card.

Today I went to Costco. My first time at Costco as an Executive Member. You will now refer to me as "Executive Member Jenn". The minute I walked in the door and flashed my shiny, sleek looking card I felt different. I did not wear sweats to Costco today. I must act like an executive member now that I am one so I carefully chose black slacks, a crisp white shirt and a pink 3/4 sleeve cardigan. I was a little worried about the gray that is showing in my chemically dependent hair but we needed food, so I had to go. I debated about carrying the precious card casually in my hand the whole time so that other people would know. But I didn't. I had totally forgotten that now that I am an executive member I can shop earlier than the plain Costco members. No more waiting until 11 to get into the cavernous cement interior for me. I can get in at 10 now. They will get my money a whole hour earlier.

I decided now that I am an executive member I should explore and educate myself as to what there is to purchase. I did not rush to the food section this time like I usually do. I inspected electronics, rugs, vacuums and automotive stuff....just in case. Now that every purchase counts towards my extremely fat check with 2% of my spending on it I want to make sure that I know exactly what I could buy unreasonably huge boxes of.

After exploring I started on my normal path through the food. Bread section, bagel section, meat section. I debated in the meat section about the possibility of buying steak now that I am an executive member. And I overheard a guy in a crisp (yes, you are right I had a crisp shirt on too!!) white oxford, khaki shorts (not wrinkled) and socks you could not see under stylish tennies talking in a great accent to the butcher and thought I need to remember to brush up on my accent now that I am an executive member. (It makes me giddy just to say it) Oh and I need to learn what the different cuts of meat are so I can use that accent on the butcher when I need more packages of steak in my cart.

I went leisurely down the other aisles refraining from the samples because I think I may be to good for samples now :)

Sadly, in the juice aisle (which I never went down when I was a plain Costco member) my phone rang. I was so impressed to see it was an unlisted number nothing but the mysterious for an Executive member. I answered it because Executive Members live on the edge. It was the school calling, Natalie's school, and Natalie did not get the memo that hearing tests and eye tests are not scary. She had freaked out when asked to put on the ear phones that they use for the hearing test. And in the course of freaking out had had an "accident." Then because she is an Executive member's child she refused to put on the red pants the nurse gave her to change into because they, "did not match her shirt." So I was needed at the school....pronto. So my leisurely trip to Costco was aborted and I reverted to the shortened version. Thus forgetting many items.

But at the checkout I am absolutely sure they treated me differently when they saw my executive member card. And it was so peaceful not having 4 Costco guys hovering around asking me if I would like to be an Executive member because....duh....I am one.

I sadly looked at the $1.50 hotdogs and did not purchase, a sign that I truly was ready for Executive membership. Now I can buy the chicken wrap thing instead.

When I got out to my car and lifted the trunk to load everything in and saw my little plaid picnic blanket that has "Costco" embroidered on it, laying in the back I smiled thinking fondly of the day I signed and recieved the thoughtful gift from my new best friends at Costco.
I actually read about Costco Executive Memberships and they truly are a great deal. I had yet to find an unhappy executive member in my reading on the internet. Yet another reason to have one....happiness is just an upgrade away :)

I let the opportunity pass.

I am not sure what has happened to me. I have a reputation to uphold and I have let it slide. I love Kohl's. I love their clearance. I even love their "not so clearance." I used to spend an enormous amount of time there when we lived in Indiana and Kansas. But moving to Massachusetts has made it necessary to change some habits and Kohl's is one that has been cut. But even I felt the enormity of the moment when I recieved the coveted 30% off coupon in the mail and did not use it. Yes, you read it right I did not use the 30% off coupon from Kohl's. I am ever so sad. And if you think I am sad you should hear the teenagers bring it up every other minute of each and every day. To my credit I made a small effort the day before it expired. I called two friends and asked if they wanted to come share in the fun but it did not work out. And I just did not have the heart to go use a 30% off coupon without a friend along to also reap the benefits. I have recieved the 30% coupon twice in my 7 years of being a Kohl's card member. I am a card member for the very reason of the great coupons they send me. But all I have now is the coupon to remind me of what I passed up. I am sure I will get over it. But I wonder what this means? Am I becoming responsible? Or am I just becoming boring?

Sep 17, 2008


Okay, I have a little fire lit under me and let's just dispense with all the formalities and get on with the sharing...ever so much sharing.

Webster defines considerate as being thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others. And just in case you are confused by that definition I will be considerate and include the definition of consideration which is defined as continuous and careful thought.

I have been thinking about being considerate for a long time. Is it possible to be overly aware of the rights and feelings of others? Is it possible to be too careful when it comes to people's feelings? Is it possible to be...gasp... too considerate? Do you really have to spend every day laboring over what other people's rights and feelings are? Is it too much work to think of how what you are doing is affecting others? I can feel myself slowly going crazy with thinking about being considerate. And I confess feeling a little frustrated with people who aren't. But that's not very considerate of me is it? Who am I to say if you are considerate or not? If you think about how Darth Vadar must feel everytime you watch Star Wars are you too considerate? There is entry after entry on the internet of people complaining about what is not considerate....airplane consideration, grocery store consideration, church consideration, driving in your car consideration and the list could go on and on.

eHow says that when you are considerate of others it makes interactions go more smoothly and that it is important to learn to be thoughtful of people around you so that you can avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I hate misunderstanding. I mean I really hate misunderstanding. Being considerate takes so much time and effort I often wonder if I am the only one who thinks there are not very many people left in the world who are considerate. Or maybe I was cursed with a super hyper sensitive awareness of what is considerate.

On eHow they tell you how to do everything....even how to be considerate. And they have a very convienent list of 6 steps to being a considerate person. Check these out:

#1. Be aware that what you do will affect people around you.
I know very shocking huh? If you have this thought in your mind then you would choose actions that would not negatively impact the people around you. Things like loud talking in a place that should be a quiet place. Or using bad language. Or like my teenager realizing that when you play loud music when you take your shower at 11:00 at night it is keeping other people awake.

#2. Tolerate the differences around you. What? We aren't all the same?

#3.Use basic manners.
Thank people. Don't take people for granted and be grateful for what they do. How many times do you think all you want is for someone to say thank you and be grateful? And what is funny is I always follow up that wishful thought by thinking I am selfish for wanting it. All I know is I will go to the moon and back for you if you are grateful to me for something. I would probably stalk you waiting anxiously for you to express gratitude and thanks to me again...and again...and again :) Yes, I know I need therapy :)

#4. Be punctual for all your appointments.
I know can you imagine how crazy this list is getting? Do not get me started on the "being on time thing." I have some very strong feelings about being on time. I acquired them in just the mere event of being born. And I always think way too much about how much time people have put into the event I am heading for and how inconsiderate of me to keep them waiting or ruin their plans or waste their time. I must announce I am a "be on time Nazi." My kids hate it. I am always saying it is not considerate to be late. A whole person's day can get thrown off by even 10 minutes of late.

All of that said....I have been late a few times in my life. Because things do happen like car trouble etc. But if it does I bend over backwards to get a hold of the person who may be waiting. How many times have you been in the middle of a lesson and had people walk in late? How does it make you feel? I must be a freak of nature because I occasionally wonder if that person knows how long and hard I prepared? Or how easily I lose my train of thought?

#5. Have empathy.
Imagine the feelings of people around you. Which means when I am frustrated because I cannot do my whole lesson because we did not start on time because people are late I should imagine the feelings of the people who possibly did not have any control over whether they were late. Or are possibly mortified that they were late. And I should not judge them. And if they are doing the same thing, thinking how I must feel, then things would be pretty much perfect. Don't we all just want to be understood? If you put yourself in someone elses spot, is it bold of me to say that, you will always avoid conflict?

#6. Anticipate the needs of others.
Opening doors. Helping pick up dropped items. Noticing what is going on around you. I remember playing the piano in a ward once and the air conditioner was blowing right on the music I was struggling to play and keep the music on the right page and someone in the audience noticed my struggle and came up in the middle of my playing and helped me. I was ever so grateful.

So if you are considerate and let someone into traffic are you being considerate of all the people behind you that are all held up while you were being considerate?

So if I am in the fast lane and lost my focus for a minute and all of a sudden realize that I am not going appropriate "fast lane speed" and you are behind me and mad at me because I am not being considerate, are actually you not being considerate because you did not remember the times in your life when you forgot to keep you speed up for a few minutes?

What about if you think I am inconsiderate because you are behind me in the grocery store and I do not have my method of payment out when the cashier is done ringing me up? Am I inconsiderate or are you because you are not patient when people are not as considerate as you?

Does being considerate encourage overthinking?

Do we all have a different idea of what being considerate is?

In conclusion all I can do is beg you to be considerate today when reading my rambling and realize someone must have done something inconsiderate to me. Something that I cannot be considerate enough about to let go. Which means I am not as considerate as I thought I was. (add being considerate to the To Do list) And no don't think it's you because it's not. I am super sure that inconsiderate people do not read my blog:)

Geesh let's count how many times I used the word considerate in any form in this blog. Maybe I set a record of some type.....28..29...30. Yes, how considerate of me to use the word 30...oops 31 times.

Sep 15, 2008

"Quotation Marks"

Well the pears are all canned. The floor is swept. The kitchen is clean. The Mama Mia soundtrack is playing loudly. The windows are open. It is an amazing Fall day in New England and there is absolutely no reason for me not to face you all and write about all my new found knowledge of quotation marks. Other than the fact that once you know that I am informed about the proper use of quotation marks you may expect me to practice my new found knowledge and I do not know if I can do it :)

So, (big breath) here it goes:

#1. Use quotation marks to cite the names of any articles that you get from a magazine or a newspaper. Like if I were going to tell you that my favorite article ever was a talk in the October 1989 Ensign entitled "Our Strengths Can Become our Weaknesses" I would put quotation marks around it.

#2. You use them to quote something someone has said. Jennifer said, "I wish I could figure out how to get a new template for my extremely ugly blog :)." (Notice the smiley face is in the quotes) That is ever so important. Oh and NEVER use quotation marks for indirect quotes they are simply not special enough.

#3. Use quotation marks to set off words or phrases that are deemed special. Oh my, that opens a whole can of worms. You are telling me that I can deem what is special and put quotes around it whenever I want? Whooo Hooo!! I can do what I want. "That makes me happy."

#4. You use quotation marks to express dialogue between characters in a story. Now this can get complicated because if you use a quote within a quote you start with double quotes and indicate the quote within a quote with single quotes and rotate back and forth...nesting quotation marks? There are actually places in the Bible that there are quotes within quotes within quotes all the way up to 5 times.....crazy.

#5. Another very important use of quotation marks is to call attention to ironic or apologetic words. They are actually called ironic quotation marks also known as "scare, sneer, shock or distance quotation marks." And here is my favorite part of ironic quotation marks that I read about on Wikipedia where it said, "Ironic quotation marks are sometimes gestured in oral speech as air quotes." I confess I could easily get carried away with air quotes. They can add so much to a conversation :)

I am little sad because there is a warning that comes with ironic quotation marks did you know they should be, "used with care?" "Without the intonational cues of speech, they can obscure the writers intended meaning." Well all I can say about that is that everyone knows that is why after you use your ironic quotation marks you add a smiley face which is a perfect substitute for the fact that you cannot see and hear my intonational cues :)

In America it is custom to place our punctuation inside the quotation marks and in England it is custom to place your punctuation outside he quotation marks. Our way came about from typesetting and the British way is grammatically correct.

Did you know that Americans prefer using double quotation marks and the British prefer the single quotation marks?

I love that if you don't agree with our way there is at least an option out there for you and it just involves packing up and moving across the "little ol' ocean." Look how perfectly I used quotation marks there?

I confess there were many other reasons to use quotation marks and rules about quotation marks but they (yawn) were ever so boring, things like:

Signaling unusual usage Do you really need to signal the unusual usage can't you just use your words to say that things are going to be getting unusual?

Use-mention distinction This one was so intense I could never explain it in a million years

Titles of artistic works......"Overthinking Everything" was the name of that amazing blog he read everyday on his ferry ride into Manhattan.

Nicknames and false titles.......She said, "just call me Jennifer 'the air quotation queen' of New England."

Oh, do not forget quotation marks must always be in pairs. I must confess if I ever wrote a book the "quotation mark police" would be all over it. I would actually just put huge quotation marks at the beginning of the book and huge quotation marks at the end and call it good. So that you would know that in my book everyone was talking to each other.

Sep 14, 2008

Primary Program bribery.

The current situation is Natalie the 6 year old. She has the most amazingly unreasonable fear of people looking at her that I have ever witnessed. It freaks her out to think of people looking at her. She talks about it and frets about it 24/7. Ever so slowly we are dealing with it.

Everyone who is Mormon knows that this is the Primary Program time of year. Today was our first practice in the chapel. I play the piano for the Primary (yes, in addition to Seminary and, every other month, playing of the the organ) so I needed to be present and focused. The minute Sacrament meeting was over Natalie dashed to the foyer where she took a firm, and very emotionally distraught stand, "she was not coming in to the practice." Oh Really? I did not have time for a tantrum so I just dragged her in with the preferred method of squeezing the arm and negotiated that she could sit on the back row and watch for this week only. But she must sit. HA.

So the child who is afraid of people looking at her is sitting on the back row of the chapel and all the kids and teachers in the program are on the stand doing what? Looking at Natalie. I think the highlight was when I look back and all I can see are her legs up in the air. She was all over the place. I noticed she had a nice conversation with a member of the stake presidency who was,by the way, looking at her while he talked to her. (and I desperately wonder what she told him) She had another nice conversation with two dear friends of mine Jacque and Jenn who I am pretty sure looked at her while they were talking to her.

So I was frustrated when church was finally over. On the way home I said out loud in the car to no one in particular that I wondered what I should do and mused, "how did I get the other kids to do the program?" Immediately voices all chimed in that I had paid them. Who me? What a great idea. So I looked at Natalie and said,

"If I give you $2.00 will you sit on the stand and do your part?" ( Knowing full well that Natalie, just spent her only $2.00 on a garage sale yesterday and now understands the value of money and knows all about the power rush that comes from spending it)

She said, "Can I sit by Sister Maleko?" (her amazingly fabulous teacher)

I said, (knowing that she is for sure indeed sitting by Sister M) "Absolutely."

And that my friends is how it is done. So we will have to see in 2 weeks if it really happens :)

Sep 12, 2008

What is in a name?

My surefire way of dealing with my fear of things not matching is to have white walls everywhere. It just makes things easier. But you can see by the picture that I am seriously thinking about painting and...gasp.... not using white.

One small problem, do you notice from the picture how many different directions I could go? I had recently listened to my hairdresser talk about Kilz brand paint for a whole hour. And I happened to be in Wal Mart with no children and no shopping cart of my own to block the teeny tiny aisle by the paint samples so it seemed to be destiny. The only negative part of not having a kid with me was that I had no one to blame for all the little color samples I kept taking. (why are those perfect little cards with colors on them so addicting?)I bet you would never know that I headed into the paint section with a goal to find a suitable green? I got a little distracted. I know you will feel the urge to tell me to get "good paint"at Sherwin Williams or Home Depot. But Consumer Report seems to think the brands Wal Mart carries are good so I am a believer and I am very cost driven.

I discovered this week that "someone" in the family had hung all 27 books of the New Testament up in the Basement/Seminary room with packing tape? Did you know packing tape can very effectively take things off of your wall things that most people usually want to stay on the wall? So that person is sad but loving the excuse to paint. And she will paint the basement first and the kitchen second. She will bravely make decisions. She will mask first and paint second :) And she would never choose a paint strictly for it's name...or would she?

Who names the paint colors? I am dying to know. And could I live with walls called Bison? Vesuvian Garnet? Hoot Owl? When was the last time you saw a color on a wall and said to the owner, "oh my goodness that is the exact color of hoot owl?"

What I honestly would love is if the very creative person who names the OPI fingernail polish would see the fun to be had in naming paint and leave the lucrative naming nail polish business. I mean with nail polishes with names like "Aphrodite's Pink Nightie", "Cha Ching Cherry" and "Skinny Dip'n in Lake Michigan" think what they could do for paint colors. No more would your friends, who have a paint color on their wall that you need in your house, ever forget the name of that color that you NEED because it would not be named something boring like "Hunter's Glen" or "Dried Basil."

So painting is my newest obsession. All the walls in the house have the paint the builder chose and it is not paint for families of 7. I hate marked up walls. And the paint that is currently occupying the walls in our house will not give up a single mark, it holds on to them like glue, making me ever so sad.

Remember this life?

This was one Sunday afternoon that through a strange course of events Madeline was the only child at home. She enjoyed it thoroughly. I remember those days of grabbing books and blankets and heading for the trampoline.

Sep 11, 2008

In my head.

Well I am still blogging you just don't know it because the blogs are all in my head. Just to make you feel bad for what you are missing I will tell you about some of them.

The first one is about canning pears. I got a bushel of pears for $24.00 last Friday. A bushel is about 50 lbs. My kids LOVE pears. I can never can enough of them. So I went light on the peaches this year and I am going to do a ton of pears and applesauce. I canned on Monday and I started at about 9 am and finished at about 4 in the afternoon. I got 24 quarts. Only enough for two a month. And already I am down to 22 jars. And Madeline could eat those 22 jars herself for breakfast. So this morning I am on my way to buy one more bushel and can them on Saturday.

I found this great orchard in North Granby, Connecticut called Lost Acres. The lady named Ginny who runs it is so talented. She quilts. She caters. And she has hundreds of apple, peach, and pear trees. And probably more talents that I do not know about. When you show up to get fruit from her you feel like staying all day. Lots of interesting people drop by to chat and there is lots of good smells coming from her kitchen. She is ever so generous. She is always giving you a cookie to sample or a pear to munch. And her prices are really great.

The second thing I would tell you about is Seminary. It actually is going very well. I am learning how to choose a few points from the lesson to focus on. I am learning not to feel anxious when they are not on time because I have a great lesson that I know I am going to have to rush. I spend every day thinking of ways to get them to understand the importance of reading their scriptures and how it can protect them.

I found a fun object lesson before the year started involving two oranges named Suzy and Joe and two tall clear containers of water. Did you know an orange can float? There are little air pockets in the peel that keep it floating. Then if you start to peel the orange and with each peel talk about little things you decide to do that take away your protection from Satan pretty soon you have no peel ( AKA armor) to protect you and then you sink to the bottom. I love object lessons. I think it comes from doing the presidency message in Primary for oh so long and realizing how those object lessons really help kids to relate things to their lives and remember them.

I really have wanted to blog about my USB not recognizing my camera. Very irritating. And very boring for you who probably long for my fabulous photos :) HA

I have wanted to blog about buying the kids new clothes. Cute, matching outfits and how they never wear them quite the way you had planned.

I really needed to tell you about the day the rotten cat ran away. And just when I was choosing the cake for the party she came back. I guess prayer is more powerful than wishful thinking.

I wanted to blog about Costco. I have recently gained a testimony of Costco. It has taken me years. But I have always managed to live places where you could buy store brand things cheap and Costco only makes sense to me if you already buy the name brand of something in the normal store. But here in Massachusetts there is no cheap grocery stores with cheap name brands anywhere. No Aldi. No Meijer. So I have finally come to understand the Costco thing and every time I go there I find one more thing to purchase and add to my growing list of things to put in my cart and lug home and then lug into the house. When I go through the checkout they have a flashing light that goes off up in that big management room in the sky with the "see out but can't see in windows" and someone nonchalantly saunters over to my register and shows the cashier the numbers on their magic scanner and they both promptly turn ever so slowly with mouths open and look at me and then with glints in their eyes and hope in their hearts ask if I would like to become an Executive Member. They make me feel awfully important. And frankly it does make sense.

There is actually many more things I would love to blog about but I have to go. So hang in there and keep checking back I am not gone I am just re-arranging and figuring my time so I can not give up one minute of fun and still sleep :)
I figured out the USB thing. Hooray for me.

Sep 9, 2008

Pdf or word?

I absolutely hate it when someone asks me a question and I do not know how to intelligently answer. Especially when it is really important that I do know what the person is talking about.

I am in the process of getting a job. I am very "super dee duper" excited about it. But did you know that I can't be myself when I am applying for a job? I have the dearest friend in the world who helped me write a resume. She took time out of her very busy life and wrote two pages about me that do not sound like me. I had no idea that you could make staying at home for 18 years sound so amazing. There is nary a smiley face on the whole resume.

Then I have been having phone conversations with the guy who hires at the place I hope I get to work and oh, how I hate having to worry about what to say. I just want to be honest and tell him that I am a hard worker, I adore details, I absolutely need someone to tell me what to do everyday, I need to be able to ask questions for at least two weeks solid, and I really need feedback. And that in a nutshell is pretty much me, oh and mix in a small tendency to talk too much :)

Anyway, I have to tell you I had a nice little old e-mail from my dear friend with my resume attached and I was supposed to send it off to the company. Easy, right? Not really. The guy recieving my resume wrote back an ever so nice e-mail wondering if I could send the resume in "Word"? He acted like I should know what that means. WHAT? I am confused. I thought it was all words? So I call my hubby all in a panic. I have heard computer geeks use the word "Word" but I never could tell you for sure what it is. Let alone how to send it to someone. Through my conversation with my hubby I discovered that I had two e-mails one with a resume in "pdf" and one with a resume in "Word' that my computer would not open. I bet you already knew that I do not know what pdf is. Maybe it stands for "pretty darn fat?" Or "perfectly delicious file."

The worst part is I did not even know what words to use to write back to the very nice guy to let him know that my hubby would transfer it to "word" and e-mail it to him as soon as he gets to his hotel room somewhere on the East coast. I wanted to just tell him the truth. That I am "inept" and then put a big row of smiley faces after that. But that is another thing I have recently learned, you cannot use smiley face in business sad. :(

I am trying to act like I have confidence and not let on that I have been wearing sweats for the past 19 years but something like this is a huge blow to the old self esteem. I can see myself at work hiding in the bathroom using my cell phone to try to reach my hubby so he can tell me how to answer a question about "pdf" and "Word."

Sep 5, 2008

What to do?

The dilemma of the day is that in the multitudes of papers coming home I find one that I do not recognize and have to actually read it before I sign it. It is from Tatiana's teacher and she wants me to commit to spending 30 minutes a day doing homework one on one with her. Oh drat. Don't get me wrong I would be so thrilled if that could happen. But how do I explain my life to her?

Dear Mrs G,

I always wanted to be a mom. I never picked a certain number of kids that I knew I was for sure, without a doubt, going to have I just played it by ear. To make a long story short I had 7 of them. I probably should have thought a little more carefully about how that would work out when it came to helping with homework but I didn't.

So now I am faced with figuring out how to tell you that I really want to support you but I can't promise that I can find 30 minutes a day to spend one on one with Tatiana. Sigh......I wish I could. I wish all 7 of them could have 30 minutes a day with me alone. Alone does not really happen at our house.

If it would help the situation I could tell you that Tatiana is a very good student and always comes right home, sits down, and does her homework independently. I am almost always in the kitchen while she is working in case she needs something.

Right when she gets home I have to take her brother to do his paper route. Then someone will always have soccer, piano or cross country depending on the day. On Wednesday's we have activities at our church from 6:30-9:00pm including travel time. My husband is often out of town. Some nights we have other meetings. Some nights we have to watch the Republican National Convention. I have to spend way to much time fixing meals, cleaning the house and working on a 45 minute lesson that I present every morning at 5:45 am to 6 teenagers. Some nights I have bookclub. Some nights I have to go see Mama Mia at the movie theater. Some nights I do this crazy thing called canning. And that is when I stay up all night making a huge mess of my kitchen so that we can have fruit in the winter.

I do not want to be a whiner and I know most people do not have to make choices like this in their lives. Hopefully because she is able to do most things without me that does not mean I have ruined her. Being number six of seven kids has caused her to be awfully independent and self motivated. Lest you feel the need to report me to SRS. I wanted to let you know I do ask her how her day was and I can totally commit to faithfully asking her every single day if she has homework. And if you really need me to commit to a time to do homework with her one on one and sign your contract I think I have time at 1:00 am would that be okay?

Ever so sincerely,

Sep 4, 2008

Common mistakes.

When I was sitting down to write my little punctuation lesson for the week I found myself wondering what the most common punctuation mistakes were. And "sho nuff" there was 259,000 results on Google for "most common punctuation mistakes." And before we even start on the list lets be frank I have frequently commited all the mistakes.

#1. How about that comma splice?
This happens when you are happily expressing your thoughts and you decide to insert a comma between two sentences. Rather than fussing with the whole trying to decide whether to use a semi colon or a coordinating conjunction, which can be a drag in the middle of a fabulous story, you just give a little nod to the punctuation god's and insert a comma. Which I think everyone should be okay with.

#2. The "run on.
WHAT? Who me? A run on is two complete sentences with no punctuation whatsoever. If you are not sure what that means you should visit my blog more frequently. I guess I should figure out what comprises a sentence before I even attempt trying to fix my run on sentence problem. What if you talk in run on sentences? I mean honestly I really am a detail person but I cannot get a testimony of punctuation.

#3. The sentence fragment.
Whew, I am really taking a ton of hits today. This is any incomplete sentence. Which means I have another really good reason to read about what makes a sentence so I can stop not completing them. You are supposed to join the suffering incomplete sentence to the nearest sentence with a comma immediately.

#4. Punctuating dialouge.
Did you know that everytime a new voice enters your written conversation you indicate it with a new paragraph? You knew? Why didn't you tell me? So when I am telling you about a conversation that Natalie and I had yesterday it should look like this:

Me: "So tell me why your skort was a little bit wet when you came home from school today?"

Natalie: Well when the king was talking to us I couldn't leave and go to the bathroom."

Me: "The king? mean the principal?"

Natalie: "Yep."

Oh drat, I have a sinking fear that is not a good example. But it was a true story..... does that count? And I think I made some possible quotation mistakes also. But you know what I meant don't you? Isn't that what punctuation is for? So that the reader and the writer can understand each other. We were doing okay with my good intentions weren't we?

#5. Apostrophes
Yeah, I know, as if things were not already painful and messy enough we have to discuss apostrophes. S'o no'w I a'm completel'y paranoi'd. There is not just one but two common mistakes for apostrophes. There are apostrophes indicating possession and apostrophes indicating letters missing. I actually think that I understand the apostrophes we must be kindred spirits.

Sep 2, 2008

The mother of all calculators.

It is that time again. The time when we marvel and complain at how much our public education is costing us. Throughout the years I have been broken down to the point that I rarely flinch when the lists of needs start coming home from the schools. A notebook here, a red pencil there, some folders with brads and pockets, a $145.00 graphing calculator wait back up did you just read that? A calculator that costs what? Yep, $145.00. I know you are dying to know if I bought it. NO, I did not. I called the AP Calculus teacher and we had a most reasonable conversation. He was 100% accomodating and it is all worked out. But I am still in shock. And wondering how some people can afford that? I couldn't.

And while we are on the subject of shock the second most shocking purchase of the school year is "snacks" for the third graders room? I am all for snacks in Kindergarten but I have never heard of snacks for third grade in any mid western town I ever lived in. Is it just a New England thing? I was secretly hoping maybe third grade would be the last year but then my friend casually mentioned that she is buying snacks for her sons fifth grade class. When do we cut off the snack thing? Am I the only person who thinks a third grader does not need a snack?

I remember being at a friends house when we lived in Kansas right before school started and how she was just going through the house rounding up pencils, erasers, pens etc for her boys. I was fascinated with the thought. And I realized I could do the same thing. It did not say new anywhere did it? I know new supplies in brand new packages are pretty cool. But if they only used 2 of their 48 #2 pencils that they took last year why buy more?

Natalie has her first official "get on the bus all by herself" day of school tomorrow and let me tell you I think the fact that her backpack is loaded with supplies to give to her teacher is totally the only reason I will be able to get her successfully on the bus. Otherwise, I do not have any idea how I would get her out the door. So I guess this a good place to use the phrase "double edged sword".

Seaweed and Sand for Labor Day.

Yesterday was a holiday. A holiday that the Baird's rarely do anything except.....labor. You know yard work, house work etc. But thanks to our fabulous friends we now have a great new tradition. (Yes, hubby dear we are doing it every year forever and ever from now on.)

Yesterday we got up at 5:30am and hurried and scurried to get our 6 kids plus 3 friends of theirs out the door to meet our friends to caravan to Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island. It was a beautiful day. We arrived at about 9:30am and the beach was still fairly empty. We unloaded 4 car loads worth of stuff and found a spot big enough for all of us and stayed until about 2:30pm. When we reluctantly had to face our real lives.

When we first got there the lifeguards were not letting anyone in the water due to sighting of a large, unidentified, swimming something. But that gave us enough time to get everything settled, walk a little, and play in the sand.

It had been a long time since I had actually played in the water at the beach. I usually have a lot of excuses why I cannot expose the world to my swimsuit body but in my last few trips to the beach I have noticed that there are a whole lot of bodies just like mine and even a few that are worse and most of them seem supremely happy wearing bikinis. So I figured nobody would be looking at my very white, been through 7 pregnancies, body in a plain old one piece. And all my excuses for sitting on the beach are honestly gone. I had no kids I had to watch, it was not cold and all my friends were doing it :) One negative about the getting in the water thing was that there was a ton of seaweed. Which I absolutely and positively hate. But I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I have grown up enough to still enjoy myself and stay in the water despite the seaweed and it's very annoying ways. I guess if I were to google seaweed I would come to find out that it is absolutely imperative to the ocean that seaweed is present but nonetheless I wish it was not there. The waves were fun to play in. I found myself thinking of their amazing power as I was tumbled about and was constantly finding my hair being pushed into some pretty creative "do's." Probably what made being in the water the most fun was having oh so many friends out in the water with me. It is no fun to swallow large amounts of salt water without friends to share the moment with you.

And speaking of water at Misquamicut, the jellyfish that have been all over in the water on all our past visits were gone. Earlier in the summer I had ended up "googling" Misquamicut and the word jellyfish and found out that a lot of other people were also wondering about all the jellyfish. It was really just one "of those years" for jellyfish.

As the day progressed the beach definitely became more crowded. It still amazes me that you do not notice it until you look up out of your own little spot of sand and realize there are people everwhere and I mean everywhere. It is so many people that you wonder why we all stick around. Most places when you see a ton of people it will discourage you and cause you to head home but everyone seems to accept that that is just the way it is with the beach. It strangely never feels crowded to me. And besides watching people is more than half the fun.

We all brought food to share and it was ever so fun to sit around and talk and soak up the sun. And I am making sure that everyone commits to being there at the exact same time and place next year :)

Of course there is a price to pay I have a stack of towels to wash as high as Mt Everest. And there is sand everywhere despite all my best efforts. And we are all sun burned because I am a horrible mom when it comes to sunscreen. But it was all worth it.