Nov 17, 2010

Meandering.

I imagine you often wonder what goes through my head....no you don't need to admit it here.....just send me an e-mail later thanking me for taking the time today to give you a play by play of what is going on in my mind. It may explain a lot about me to you :) I chose to write about this today because I have been sitting here at the computer thinking about what to blog for quite a while and choosing one topic and sticking to it is proving to be difficult.

First I was thinking about Uncle Daniel and Aunt Heather who came to visit us this weekend. They live in Idaho. Daniel is one of the hubby's brothers. We have not seen Daniel and Heather in about 8 years. We do not see family very often. Some of my siblings live a little closer to Massachusetts than Brian's do so we see them a little more often. Brian sees his family more often than the kids and I do because he often has business in Utah. It was fun to see Daniel and Heather and kind of cool to realize that they can now picture me somewhere. I have no idea where they imagined me before they actually saw where I lived :) Perhaps I am the only person on the planet who likes to imagine people in their setting :)Yes, if I have not seen you since college it is possible I still imagine you there :)


It did not take me long in my life to figure out that I am not the type that NEEDS to live close to family. I love my family and we all get a long famously so I would have no problem living by them I just do not need too. Throughout our married life I have encountered many couples that could not wait to get to move from where ever they were at the time to go back to be near their family. I have always just created a family where I am. I remember when I was a kid we would have members of our church over for holidays because we did not have family near by and I have continued that tradition as we have lived all over the place. I can not tell you how grateful I am to those people who thought of us throughout the years and invited us to share holidays with them since we had no family to share it with.

Now my little brain has skipped to motivation....why? Very good question. I have no idea why the word motivation would follow the word holidays in my thought process :)

And no sooner had I written motivation than I had jumped ahead to christmas cards. Can I just tell you how painful the christmas card process is? I send them every year. I am social and my relationships mean way too much to me to not send them. When the kids were little christmas cards were a breeze. I would choose their outfits. They would cheerfully put them on. I would brush their hair. They would cheerfully let me. I would write in the letter about funny things they had done that year, they were not be old enough to read it and comment on it or.....gasp....complain about what I wrote......drat, now they can all read :) The past two years we have not even been able to get together to take the silly picture. This year I am determined to get a christmas card picture. It has been scheduled about 4 times and our next appointment is this Sunday right after church scrunched in between the kids Bishop Youth Council after church and Amanda's patriarchal blessing at 3. Deciding what to wear, deciding where to take the picture are on my mind 24/7. I do not want a traditional standing, smiling, perfect looking christmas card because we are not perfect. It takes forever to think of an idea that everyone will agree to. Truly, our best christmas card to date has been the year we all just grabbed each other and fought in front of the camera, we do look pretty amazing when we are fighting :) Yes, I am jealous when I get your card and you are all dressed in christmas plaid, your hair is perfect, you are all skinny, and I can just imagine you all group hugging before the picture but I can not deny who the Baird's are.

Oh drat I just looked out the window and was instantly reminded of leaves. I love Fall. I can just never figure out the best way to deal with the leaves. Some people rake them every time one falls on the lawn....and when I grow up and no longer have to fix dinner and do laundry I will SO be that type. Some people wait until they all fall. Some people mow them up and compost them. Some people put them in bags. Other's slyly rake them into the woods by their house praying they will not blow back in their yard. Some have leaf blowers and awesome, huge lawn mowers with monster bags. For the first time in my life I tried the "mowing leaves thing" this year with my neighbors lawn mower, that has a bag, and I was fascinated with the joy it brought me to dump that very small bag of crunched up leaves on my garden but after having to stop every three feet to have to dump the bag I quickly lost interest. I actually like to rake. It is just finding the time when the weather decides to cooperate. On Monday I marched out there and raked two huge piles of leaves but I had no bags to put them in. By the time I purchased bags ( AKA.....calling the husband to pick them up from the store) it was dark and too late to bag my leaves. Imagine my chagrin when I woke up the next morning to steady rain that fell all through yesterday and this morning. Raking leaves is all about timing. You check the weather, You check the leaves left in the trees. You have to be home. You have to have time. It has to be before the snow falls or you are sunk. It is a minor miracle if it all happens perfectly.

Well that my friends is one hour of the joy that it inside my head. christmas cards, leaves and far away family all packed in tight to one hour wouldn't you love to experience the rest of the hours of the day :)

Nov 8, 2010

Tow Companies DO That?

Do you believe in karma? Do you believe the fruits of your labor come back to you? Well, I think I might believe. A few weeks ago Miriam managed to lock the car keys in our big white van. I was understanding, and realized with every fiber of my being that it can happen to anyone, but the emotion called frustration did cross my mind and I briefly wondered how on earth she did it. I think I have locked the keys in the car twice in my whole life so I should have behaved better. I think it was just all the events in that particular day combined that caused me to behave poorly. SO, if you are thinking about what an insensitive mom I am than you are going to love this story.

I locked the keys in our minivan on Saturday. There, I said it. I had just been thinking, a few days before, about how horrible it would be if I locked the keys to our mini van in the mini van because for some reason we do not have a spare key to that car. I know that that man called husband has set out to get another key for our minivan a few times and I still do not really understand why those excursions were not successful... but I know he has a lengthy reason why there is only one key to the minivan... I just am not clear on what that reason is.

So there I was in Stop and Shop(creative grocery store name eh?) parking lot on Saturday with Tatiana. I knew exactly how it had happened. But I had not even realized it had happened until we got back to the car.

The pros of the situation were that:

It was a beautiful day.
The husband was actually in town and not on a business trip.
I had just run into the store to return something and did not have 6 carts of groceries to worry about.

The cons:

Things like this make the husband a tad grumpy,
The aforementioned fact that, we did not have another key.
There is no bookstore or Ann Taylor Loft next to the Stop and Shop for the convenience of people who lock their keys in the car to browse in while they are waiting for their grumpy husband.


Anyway, I called the husband to tell him the fabulous news about what I had done. He called a locksmith and headed to town to get me. While he was waiting for the locksmith, who said he would be there in 20 minutes, I took Natalie and we walked to the library. I am not so good at the "stand around and not be doing something kind of thing." When we got back from the library the husband and Tatiana were still waiting and that was not a good sign because it had been awhile. After a minute of discussion we decided I would take his work car, drive it home, and he would come home after the locksmith finally came. I had only gone a few blocks towards home when the husband called to say the locksmiths car had broken down and he could no longer come so would I please come back and get him.

After I came back we sat there wondering what plan B was. We discussed breaking the window....actually, really no discussion on this one, he suggested, I declined. We discussed finding another locksmith (it was Saturday the other locksmiths were not at work). It was weird to honestly not know what to do. I called a few friends who always know what to do in situations like this and none of them answered their phones.

Finally, I suggested that Brian drive me over to the police station and let me ask them what to do. It is not manly to ask questions but he felt like transporting the question asker was not violating any rules of manliness so we headed for the police station. He waited in the car while I ran in to ask. While waiting for the one officer on duty in the office on Saturday I met some people who had been scammed by a family member and got my fill of soap opera for the day. Finally, I was able to do the, "question asking thing" and discovered that policemen can no longer help you get into your locked car. But he very nicely suggested calling a towing company. I was surprised to hear that towing companies were multi taskers. I wish they would include that in their name......."Billy Bob's Towing and Getting Keys Out of Locked Cars Company" so I would have known.

So we called the towing company and within 20 minutes and $40.00 later we had our keys.

What did we learn?

Tow truck companies tow AND open your locked car for you.

When your purse happens to be in the back seat and you have to reach back there to get your wallet be sure to put your keys in your coat pocket before getting the wallet if you don't you just might leave the keys sitting in the console between the seats.

Don't assume the extra weight in your coat pocket is your car keys.....it could be your cell phone....so double check before locking the doors.

Tatiana learned about how you should act when your plans get changed by unforseen circumstances and you are stuck sitting in your car waiting when you could be home playing.

Maybe I should just stop locking the car it really isn't anything anyone would ever want anyway.

Nov 4, 2010

The First Daughter.




So tomorrow the 19 year old turns 20. That means two of the seven Baird children are over 20. That means time has flown. The strange thing is I do not feel old. I feel just like I did when I was at BYU in 1987. How does that work?

Madeline was born in 1990 in Provo, Utah on November 5th. She and Zach are 1 year and 16 days apart. Zach was not even old enough to know about jealousy so he and Madeline always got along well. Except for the time he pushed her down our hardwood stairs in Princeton. Oh and the time he tried to get her to stop licking the knife she kept dipping in the peanut butter jar and she threw her sandwich at him. Yeah, maybe I forgot about the bad times ....oh well...ignorance is bliss :)

Madeline has never been afraid of anything. She is the only Baird child to be able to claim this personality trait. She did not even cry when she was born. When we went to the beach when the kids were little Zach would sit carefully on the sand not wanting to touch anything and Madeline would lay down in the sand and experience it. She was never afraid of getting into trouble which made it very difficult to punish her. She was not afraid of going into the nursery at church. She was not afraid to try new things. The thought has never occured to Madeline that she could not do something. Brian loves to dare the kids to do things and Madeline was always up to the challenge. Due to this she can brag that she has ridden in the trunk, stood in a glacier fed lake for 30 seconds, jumped off a waterfall, and many more things. She even taught herself and Miriam to ride bikes.

Madeline is good at everything she does. Violin, piano, dance, soccer, boys, track, rugby, school, and getting what she wants. Everything she touches turns to gold. Miriam even claims that Madeline was the best at playing ponies when they were little. Miriam also claims it is annoying that Madeline is good at everything. But then she quickly had to concede that Madeline is not "in your face" about any of her "mad" skills :)


I confess that Madeline is probably the second most misunderstood of the Baird kids because she is not going to tell you things or do things just to please you. Until she went to college we did not know much about her but I have to say BYU/college worked it's magic on Madeline. That first summer she came home and Miriam stole her seat at the table and she said nothing I thought aliens had abducted my Madeline. She helped me can strawberry jam last summer. She adopted my nasty tomato patch and faced her worst fears there :) She offered to help nonstop. She chided the other Baird children about fighting over seats in the car. She talked my ear off. It took some getting used to to have a Madeline not immersed in her music or non stop texting and actually wanting to talk to me :)

She is in her second year at BYU. She runs on the BYU track team and actually managed to just recently also make the BYU Rugby team. She wanted to be an astronaut but the President of the United States put an end to that dream by discontinuing the program. She is fascinated with Physics and I think she is currently studying Mechanical Engineering.....yeah, I should communicate better.

Oh, she is not perfect... she loves to sleep on the floor and does. She leaves her clothes all over the floor. And falls asleep with her phone right next to her. Hmmm is that all her faults? :)

I love my Madeline dearly. She has grown up to be an amazing young woman. Because of her I never have to wonder if a new music group has come out and I have missed it. Because of her I can brag that I have had a "poor white trash fight" with one of my kids (funny story :) It is a breath of fresh air to have such an easy going child.

Nov 3, 2010

Getting Religious On You :)

Twice a year all members of the Mormon church get the opportunity to hear our leaders speak to us. This occasion is called conference and it happens in October and April. Conference happens in real life in Salt Lake City, Utah and if you live out West you get conference on your tv in your home on local channels. We live in Massachusetts and get conference on our tv also but only because the husband purchased the cable that provides him with the BYU channel because he NEEDS to have the ability to watch BYU sports. If you live outside of the inter-mountain west it used to be that you went to the church building in your area to watch conference broadcasted on the satellite. Yeah, those were the good old days....getting all the kids dressed in church clothes all weekend, packing food for an army, paper and crayons for an army, quiet toys that no one would fight over....for an army. ( impossible don't even attempt it :)

But this blog is not really about the details of conference. It is about something I heard in conference that has been on my mind a lot. Being courageous. One of the speakers in October conference talked about being a courageous parent. And I do not really think I am one of those. Being courageous means you are fearless. I am not fearless. I care that my kids are liked. I care that they like me. Yeah, I know big, fat, red flags everywhere, huh? You probably should call the parent police :) But I have been working on it lately. Being able to say and do what is best for my family so that I can make sure I am not walking around with a guilty feeling about a decision I made or stand I took. I want to have a clear conscience when my kids possibly make bad choices and know that I did my best to teach them what was right.

Halloween weekend was one of the first times that I noticed myself having to make a courageous choice as a mom. Halloween was on a Sunday this year. Mormon's have some pretty good recommendations for how you observe Sunday. You can choose to follow the recommendations and get more blessings or you can choose not too observe the recommendations and get......not punished.... but maybe less blessings? We are all at different points on the wide spectrum of observing Sunday. But Sunday is considered a day of rest so we do not go to the store or get gas or let our kids go to birthday parties....etc. The day is supposed to be different from other days of the week. When my kids were little I would not let them jump on the trampoline when it was Sunday. That rule is long gone...by the way :) But at the time I did indeed have this rule. At the time I explained to them (for the hundreth time) that I wanted Sunday to be different and jumping on the trampoline made the day the same as other days. And the naughty Baird children quickly asked me if they could, "jump on the trampoline naked"......declaring that that would surely make it different from other days :) Do you see why I abandoned the rule? HAHA

Anyway, back to Halloween and Sunday. In other places we have lived there has always been the option to trick or treat on another day or there has been a huge trunk or treat at the church when Halloween has happened to be on a Sunday. So we have never had to face the Sunday/Halloween decision straight on before. But this year we did.

Here is what I heard...over and over again from all my children...yes, even the ones who knew better:

"ALL" their friends were trick or treating on Sunday and they were the only ones not trick or treating.

"They wouldn't have any candy."

"Having Halloween on Sunday was just like having Christmas or Easter on Sunday."

"We weren't buying anything just getting candy for free."

"We would be together as a family trick or treating." (nice try huh? )

I was so torn. I love Halloween. I love trick or treating. And some parents that I really respect were letting their Mormon offspring trick or treat. Was it really that big of a deal? Why was I agonizing over this? We are talking a ton in my Seminary class about whether you make choices because you care more about what people think or more about what God thinks. For me...a sixth generation Mormon...I could not in good conscience let my kids trick or treat on Sunday this year. It was a hard decision for me. And in the end it actually was not my decision I threw it back at the Baird children and let them choose what they wanted to do. They all chose not to go.

I do not think my decision made me any better than any other Mormon parent that may have made a different decision because we all have our reasons for the decisions we make. But it felt good for ONCE in my life as a parent to take a stand and follow through. It is not easy to do that. If you can do it you are a courageous parent. And now I can say that I was a courageous parent once way back in October of 2010 :) I for once was not afraid of what other parents would think. I was not afraid of how it would affect my kids to not have bags and bags of candy....did I just say that? :)

It also took courage to tell you about this because you could take it a million different ways and it could cause you to wonder a lot but it has been on my mind and I wanted to have it on my blog for me and for the day when I am dead and some future great-great granchild is reading things I wrote and wonders what kinds of decisions I had to make and wonders why their parents are so mean :)

Nov 2, 2010

Day Two. Truly the Best Day...Yet.


So waking up in the Waldorf Astoria on your birthday feels a little decadent. I lay there on my perfect mattress, on my amazing sheets, staring at the perfect window treatment on the window, (people staying at the Waldorf never refer to them as curtains :) listening to the horns honking on Park Avenue ten floors down, thinking about turning 42. For the record, Aunt Sarah was out of bed before me. I do find it hard to lay around. I love to get up and get going. Time is always ticking in my head :) But we took the morning slow. I purposely did not take anything with me that would tell me the time and make me feel anxious.

The Waldorf does not offer you a breakfast for free but they do offer you a coupon for a pastry and a drink at the Starbucks in their hotel. It was fascinating to me to realize that rich people do not need a continental breakfast where they could elbow other travelers for their bagel and yogurt. It would possibly be offensive to them that someone would suggest that free would appeal to them :) But none of us were rich so we willingly used our coupons for our free loot at the Starbucks. We carried our food into the Waldorf's amazing lobby and sat on a couch next to the grand piano that Cole Porter composed many of his songs on and ate, feeling a tad famous :)


Finally we headed out into the city. We were on a quest to find a part of Manhattan that had antiques. But we soon discovered that if you ask the concierge at the Waldorf where to find antiques he will send you to a place where they have huge carvings out of jade and enormous eccentric chandeliers. So we abandoned that plan and headed to Canal Street instead. On the subway ride to Canal Street I met a nice man who answered every question I asked about where to find good food and possibly "normal" antiques. And he even threw in where Sarah Jessica Parker lived without me even having to ask :) I have an addiction to asking questions that sometimes serves me well.

On Canal Street I did not purchase anything. I continue to not be able to spend money very easily but I had a great time watching everyone else spend their money. And Aunt Sarah took mercy on me and bought me an amazing scarf. We decided to just wander from Canal Street. So we headed uptown, walking. Which I have decided is the best thing to do in New York City once you have been several times and have seen all the touristy places. So we wandered through Soho and just stopped wherever we felt like it. We admired amazing buildings, spent way too much time browsing in Anthropologie, and asked lots of questions. We decided that for lunch we would eat somewhere unusual and different so we stopped at a teeny tiny Cuban place that seated 40...yes, I counted :) The food was fabulous. Have you ever had a Cuban sandwich? It sounds innocent but I think this sandwich changed my life :)

After lunch we kept walking and headed for 26th Street where we heard there possibly would be our ever elusive antique shops. We passed New York University. We went in a exclusive shoe store. We happened upon a street full of booths of things for sale. We watched a hawk eat a squirrel up in a tree in a park. We admired the Flatiron building, which is an amazing triangle shaped skyscraper that has a very rich history. Finally we found some antique shops. But we concluded that antiques in New York City are different from the antiques we know, and love, in Massachusetts at Brimfield.


Finally we hopped on the Subway and headed for Rockefeller Center. I had spied a Lego store there the day before and I could not rest until I had checked it out. Of course I did not purchase anything(do you see a trend here?) but admiring all the Lego sets and marveling at the Lego re-creation of Rockefeller Center made me supremely happy. After visiting a few other shops there in the center we headed for our last stop which was Magnolia Bakery.....round two.


Sometimes on the weekend in New York city the subway trains change from their normal routes and schedules due to construction and such and it can be a tad confusing to 4 women lugging suitcases, baked goods, and heading for their car. We spent quite a bit of quality time under the ground riding the subway that evening. We had enormous fits of laughter at our situation, we offered our cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery to anyone who would help us figure out which train was express and which train was local. Finally we made it to our stop and climbed up out of the subway with our suitcases in tow....having again exercised with our luggage....I think we are on to something here :)

We left the city at 9:30 at night and arrived home to Massachusetts at one in the morning.


My only regret on my annual New York City trip is that I can not invite all my friends to come on this amazing weekend with me. It kills me to leave anyone out. But reality is always lurking reminding me that it is not possible.


I have already started my list of things to do next time I am in the city and I have a new list of things to show my kids now that I have explored more. I have a deep love for the energy and amazing-ness of New York City. The amount of history in the city is staggering.


Next time you feel the urge to walk until you might drop, feel the need to be around lots of people, want to discover landmarks you have only seen in movies, eat fabulous food, and really just be with me I would drop everything in a heartbeat and take you to the city. As long as you are okay with my need to ask questions and keep things moving :)

Nov 1, 2010

Every Last Detail.

Do you have some time? I finally do and I am so happy. There is no school tomorrow so I do not have to plan a seminary lesson so I can tell you every detail of my annual New York City trip. I am not sure how this tradition started. All I know is it started last year, it involves Aunt Sarah, a few other friends and New York City.

I live about 2 and a half hours from New York City. It is a beautiful and easy drive down there. I told you last year about the Merritt Parkway which is the main road I take to get to the city. I wish you could come and drive down the Merritt with me sometime because it is very hard to convince people that a road could be beautiful. So you will just have to trust me...the Merritt Parkway is beautiful.....especially in the Fall.

Aunt Sarah lives in Georgia and her husband has some great hotel points so he always hooks us up with a hotel in New York City. This year we had to work dates around a little and our New York city weekend ended up being on my birthday.


Last year we discovered that there is a lot of early planning involved if you want to go to the top of the Statue of Liberty. So in July Aunt Sarah was on the ball and got us tickets to go up into the crown of the Statue of Liberty. They only allow 240 people a day into the crown. They only allow 3,000 people a day into the pedestal and the museum of the statue. The other people on the island are allowed to walk around the island. We had to put our names on the tickets to the crown way back in July because they run every background check humanly possible on you before you show up. One of our friends was not able to go up in the crown with us because we added her to our trip at the last minute. But we were able to use Jedi mind tricks to get her into the museum and the pedestal. The tickets to the crown are extremely reasonable. For $15.00 you get the boat ride over and access to everything on the island. The pedestal tickets are $12.00. They told us we needed to be at the tip of Manhattan Island by 10:30 in the morning on friday so we left Massachusetts at 6:30 in the morning. We got into the city by 9:30, parked, walked a few blocks and hopped on the subway and rode for about 20 minutes to Battery Park. The day was beautiful, clouds with blue sky and sun breaking through, and about 50 degrees with a wind. After passing many checkpoints and receiving a special wristband we finally got to the stairs you climb up to the crown. The stairs wind around inside the statue all the way up to the crown. It is 354 steps to the crown and they get narrower and narrower as you go. They start out straight but eventually start curving around and around. Of course the views from the top are amazing. It was well worth the $15.00.

After we left the island we were very hungry so we headed to the edge of Little Italy to a restaurant that Aunt Sarah had read about called Rinaldi's. Rinaldi's was the first official pizzaria opened in the United States and there are pictures all over the walls of famous people with the owner. The pizza really was amazing. Although, I confess that I ordered a calzone. But the yummy noises my three friends were making while they were eating was enough to convince me. Once we got some food in us we were ready to take on the town.

Our next goal was to get tickets for a show on Broadway. So we headed to Times Square to the TKTS booth. The line was not very long and we had several shows to choose between and finally settled on West Side Story because it is leaving Broadway in January and because it had all the original cheoreography in it. We paid $67.00 a ticket and the show started at 8. That meant we did not have much time to get our luggage back to the Waldorf Astoria.


Uncle Jason got us two hotel rooms at the Waldorf for our weekend. We were very excited about that. And the hotel did not disappoint us. But I am pretty sure that the Waldorf expects that people who stay in their hotel do not care how much things cost because to park in their parking garage involved $60.00 a day. We all gulped at that number and chose to park clear across town at our lot on 60th street that cost us $22.00 a day. Yeah, you do the math :) But this decision resulted in way too many New Yorkers seeing 4 women running.....yes, running.... through the streets of New York City with our rolling suitcases flying behind us. We definitely got our exercise. And it was definitely not for the faint of heart :) We needed to get from the hotel on Park Avenue to our luggage on 60th and then back to the hotel on Park Avenue and then to our show on Broadway in a very short amount of time. I know you will wonder about my sanity when I tell you it actually was very invigorating and I think I may film a dvd and start an exercise empire on the idea of exercising with your luggage :) We arrived at the theater with 20 minutes to spare. Thank goodness we had eaten so much pizza 6 hours before :)

West Side Story was amazing. I confess, I do not really like the story but the dancing and the voices of the performers were amazing. The other two shows I have seen on Broadway have sucked me in and made me feel like I dare not breathe for fear of ruining the moment. I did not feel this way after seeing West Side story but it was still very good.

After the show it was 10:30 pm and in the, "city that never sleeps" the night was young so we headed to our favorite spot.....Magnolia Bakery. Cheesecake, cupcakes, cake, bar cookies, pie anything your little heart desires is there and extremely yummy. I mean if you have to wait in line to get into a place at 11:00 at night it sadly means it is worth it. I got mercilessly teased because I did not purchase anything but that does not mean it is not an amazing place it just means I can not spend money to save my soul :)

We got back to our hotel by 11:30 and sat in the lobby and watched people leaving the party in their costumes. It was very interesting. After a short time we headed upstairs and I literally fell into bed. Karen and Gail were in one room and Aunt Sarah and I were in another. I have a reputation for waking up early and wanting to get going, everyone warned me that if I got up early and woke them up I was in HUGE trouble. So we did not leave the hotel the next morning until about 11. But I will tell you about our Saturday in New York City tomorrow. Now I have to go clean my house and get a box ready to send to Madeline for her birthday this weekend. So, I will see you tomorrow :)

Sep 28, 2010

Squeezing.

Hey, blog is that you? Oh my, it has been way too long.....did you lose some weight? :) We need to talk more. Can you believe it has almost been a month? I want you to know I think of you often. I honestly have a ton of blogs composed in my head to put in that blogging rectangle. Please do not take it personally. It is time's fault....it is always time's fault. But before I go off on a tangent about time let me quickly catch you up on what has been keeping me away from blogging every single day about every torrid detail of my life :)


SEMINARY


Yeah, I need to find some balance huh? I had this great vision of me spending two hours a day on my seminary lesson, one hour on house cleaning, one hour on my music, one hour on gardening and an hour on exercising. Yeah, do the math. That is 6 hours. The children have vacated the house by 8:30 am so add 6 hours onto 8:30 am and that takes us to 2:30 pm which is actually perfect because they start moving back into the house by 3:30. But it is not working out like it did on paper. Reality is 4 hours on Seminary, 1/2 an hour on housework, another hour on Seminary, 15 minutes on Facebook, 15 minutes on e-mail, another hour on Seminary, one hour on paper routes, 10 minutes on making pancakes for dinner, 25 minutes on reading with Natalie and doing her math flashcards, two more hours on Seminary then bedtime. Spending too much time on my Seminary lessons? WHO ME? I really hate to be teaching something I do not know about so I have to make sure I am informed about my topic for the day and then I have this little personality that does adore teaching lessons that flow...yeah, I know reality does not flow perfectly but that juicy bit of information never stopped me from trying.

I did squeeze in a trip to visit a dear friend who lives in Virginia. She and I visited Mount Vernon...you know, George Washington's home, the one with the amazing view of the Potomac, the one with acres of amazing gardens and grounds, yes, the one with the brightly painted rooms. I love Mount Vernon. I love history. I can not tell you how many times I checked out the story of the Jamestown Flood from the library when I was 11. Oops, I am getting off topic:) Laurie and I had not seen each other in about 16 years. I am searching for the words to describe how comforting it is to see someone you have not seen in a long time. Someone who knew you at a different stage of your life that you are at now. Someone who can reassure you you are a good person and still the same. We talked, and talked, and talked, like 16 years apart had not even happened. I am extremely grateful to her for entertaining me for 33 hours :) And you probably should be warned I may just call you out of the blue one day and tell you I have a plane ticket to come visit you :)

I also squeezed in painting my front door. You see, my house is gray, my shutters are a dark blue and my front door has been a deep purple....that deep purple has been deeply bothering me. It is funny now that it is red no one remembers what color it was before. I do not mind the shade of red it ended up being but I am not supremely happy so I am going to repaint it. There are so many shades of colors out there and you have to consider so many variables and I feel like the color could be better. So I will have to squeeze painting the front door into my schedule again.


I am trying to squeeze in yard work. I have this one spot in my yard that I need to tame. I have dreaded facing it. It has blackberry bushes, weeds, rocks, yellow jacket nests, guck the builders of the house were way to tired to cart off the land, really there are surprises galore in this spot :) But I find if every other day I spend sometime facing this spot and dragging stuff out of it that it is strangely therapeutic and ever so slowly it is taking shape.

I have a pile of books I am longing to read. I have a pile of fabric calling my name. I have a bathroom to paint. I have a blog I miss terribly but this is the time of my life that I have to focus on other things. But I am not completely gone and I will hopefully be able to blog once a week now that I am figuring out how much time everything in my life really needs.

I feel like I am cramming things in, jumping on the suitcase, struggling with the zipper, searching for empty space, whatever visual you need to see how I am working to fit everything into Jennifer's 24 hours....but I have confidence it will all come out fine I just need a few more weeks :)

Sep 1, 2010

Multi Taskers Dream Come True.

There is nothing that makes me happier than to accomplish two things at once......the dictionary calls it multi tasking and I do adore it.

Nothing makes me feel more fabulous than being on my way upstairs or downstairs and have an armful of things to carry that belong where I am already heading.....(just for the record the children do not get the same happiness from this activity.) I only watch TV if I have something to do while I am watching.....like folding socks or cutting 500 scripture mastery seminary puzzles out....ugh, what was I thinking?

My latest multi tasking venture has me quite pleased with myself. I have figured out how to exercise, read the scriptures, and make money at the same time. It all started when school started on Monday and we realized that Joe's soccer schedule prevented him from getting his paper route done before 5:00 pm everyday. I had no problem volunteering to do that route. I have been eyeing his paper route for a long time, he gets the best tips ever.

So everyday at 11:20 I drive to the paper place in town and pick up the papers. On the way home I fold the papers....shhh it is very safe to drive and fold papers at the same time :) When I get home I get my exercise clothes on and grab the very fashionable Westfield Evening News newspaper bag.....I wonder if I could get Vera Bradley to start a line of newspaper bags? Truthfully, the newspaper bag is the hardest part of this multi tasking venture. But I just say to myself over and over again while I am walking on the 2 busy roads I have to walk on, past tons of cars, with people in them, laughing at the grown up with the newspaper bag, that it does not matter what other people think. It seems to be working.

Anyhow, I load that adorable, "pride killing", bag with 38 papers, the garage door opener, my cell phone, and a water bottle and start walking. The bag bangs against the top of my leg since I am so...ahem, short. The Massachusetts sun, the last few days, has been merciless between 12 and 1 when I am delivering. I have several pretty big hills that give me great satisfaction. The route cover 3 and 1/2 miles....depending on if I cut through yards or not :) I keep track of my time so that I have a record to break from the previous day. Today I am adding my scriptures on CD to the venture so that I can be studying for seminary at the same time. I am loving this discovery of mine. As I walk along the Berkshire mountains are on my right soaring up into the sky. The trees that cover them are starting to think about changing color. The little old people are waiting by their mailboxes to chat and get their papers. All the landscaping that I could only see as I drove by quickly in my car I can now really look at. The neighborhoods are so quiet that I am getting lots of quality alone time with my brain.

You may think that for $40.00 a week it is so not worth it but trust me it really is :)

Joe's soccer ends in November and he has already warned me he wants his route back. I think he may have to arm wrestle me for it. I wonder if I could arm wrestle and read at the same time? :)

Aug 17, 2010

Jill G. Would Be So Proud :)



Jill Gradeless is the queen. I love her. She lived in Indiana when we lived there. Every single thing Jill touched had a theme, tulle, matching colors, sequins and was truly amazing. I longed to be like Jill.... I still do long to be like Jill. I have moments when I am close to being like her. Like when I sanded my table and chairs, spray painted them and then re-stained the top of the table. But Jill will tell you, in a heartbeat, that me attempting to be like her means me needing her to be on the phone with me through the whole project. Me, calling, 24/7 is Jill's most favorite thing :)

Anyway, today was Natalie's 8th birthday and I think Jill would have been proud of me. Usually when I decide to do parties for someones birthday I do games and good food but I never, ever do anything involving that D word....decorate.. or that T word...theme. But something came over me while thinking about Natalie's birthday and I decided to decorate and consider a theme. I do not want you to think I have betrayed you. I honestly will never do it again but I just had to know what it felt like to be one of those people who needs everything to coordinate.

First Natalie and I sat down at the computer and browsed through way too much of the Family Fun website. We printed off everything she loved....yes, it was pretty much everything. Then I sorted through the ideas and decided what I loved :) I LOVE flowers and when I saw the enormous tissue paper flowers attached to bamboo sticks I knew they had to happen....( this feels so surreal telling you about crafts on my totally not crafty blog :) Luckily, I have the most amazing OCD 16 year old who loves to make everything perfect and should have been Jill's daughter and she very willingly took on the tissue paper flower project. I found huge packages of purple tissue paper on clearance at Target for .74 cents so the flowers were purple...(don't you dare loose focus when I say these things...repeat after me..."Jenn Baird is not a craft queen or a bargain shopper she JUST got LUCKY :)" Everyone helped with the flowers at some point and we ended up with 18 or so of them and their job was to line our sidewalk leading to the front door and they performed their job perfectly.

Our next project had to be worked on the night before the party and that was the fairy bower.....I am not sure why they call it a bower...I should google that huh? I found some tulle at Wal mart for .97 cents a yard and bought 5 yards, but it was not enough. Thankfully I had some old sheer curtains, and a huge piece of yellow see through-ish fabric in the basement and between all three pieces and some clothes pins Madeline, Amanda and I created the fairy bower. It took time, inspiration, and okay, a little of Natalie sauntering through our process and declaring, "that is not it." I discovered if you cut apart a cheesy hawaiian lei and let all the flower petals fall off they look amazing on top of a fairy bower. And Amanda thought three of the tissue paper flowers needed to be pinned up with the tulle and such. So it was a group effort that at times had us doubting but when I settled into my bed at 11pm last night I was content and when I woke up at 4 to take Miriam's friend to the airport and looked at it again I was, thankfully, still content.

Natalie had seven little friends come to her party, six girls and one boy. We painted rocks, glued jewels on boxes, frosted and put way too many sprinkles on cookie flowers that were on sticks and some mini cupcakes, popped balloons, and hunted for jewels and candy. I think it will take days for the house to recover but at least I knew better and no glitter was involved in the party....learned that lesson in1998.

I do not have a set rule about the occurence of birthday parties for Baird children. Some years they need a party and some years they don't. I know some people say only a party every other year for their kids. Some say only a party if the month before your birthday had a full moon on a Sunday. Some people say only a birthday if your favorite color is orange. I did not make any rules because there is always an exception and someone...cough, cough...one of your kids.... is always patiently waiting to call your attention to the date, and time that you made an exception.

I remember my first boy/girl surprise birthday party when I turned 12 in Southern California. It made all my dreams come true. I hope my kids have at least one birthday moment that they feel like the day truly was different than others and that they will remember. I am not sure if this is natalie's or not but the other kids and I sure had a fun time preparing for it.

Aug 9, 2010

Wingaersheek Beach



About a month ago Miriam decided that for her 18th birthday she wanted to load up our big white van with kids and spend a day on the beach. She convinced Amanda that she wanted the very same thing for her birthday. And she presented her plan to me. So we talked about the precious 15 seats in our van and how they should be filled. We talked about a day. It had to be a Saturday because most of the teenagers invited all work during the week. I hate to take guests into the unknown so I chose Crane Beach as our destination because I have been there several times and I know how to get there. I know what it looks like. I know they have showers and bathrooms. I know it is beautiful. There is hardly anything to worry about when you go somewhere you have already been and know what to expect.

But on August 6 the day before their party I learned that Crane Beach was having their annual sand castle building contest. Something I definitely want to see someday but not with 13 teenagers planning on a beach party. There are tons of people that attend the sand building contest so I knew we had to change our beach plans. And that meant choosing a beach I had never been to before. I am okay heading into the unknown all by myself, or with my family, but when it has to be done when I am trying to entertain 13 other people it stresses me out. Because my number one, totally realistic, priority, is that you have fun.....I always forget that important part that really you decide whether you are going to have fun or not I instead assume it is my responsibility and I take it way too seriously :)

I got online and googled, "top ten beaches in Massachusetts" and started reading. Information can give you power but can also cause you to think about things you may not have thought about otherwise, like beach parking lots filling up before you get there, leaving you stranded with no beach to go to. I finally decided on a beach called Wingaersheek Beach because I called and talked to the people there and they said if the parking lot was full when we got there we could always go into town and catch a trolley to Good Harbour Beach. I do love to have a Plan B. We had already set our time to leave and it could not budge because of paper routes that needed to be done. So we just had to hope that by 10:30, which was our estimated time of arrival, the beach parking lot would not be full.

Saturday was a beautiful day and from exit 5 on the Massachusetts Pike clear up to exit 13 off of Route 128 it took us almost exactly 2 hours. The parking lot was not full. But they did make me pay $35.00 to park my big 15 passenger van. I tried to give them my sweetest smile and use my Jedi mind tricks to persuade them they really did not want to do that to me but they were not going to budge. So I consoled myself with the fact that I could not take 15 people anywhere else for 4 and a half hours for $35.00.

There were three choices for getting to the beach. All numbered. We chose door number three. It was a short walk and we discovered that door number three was just perfect. Numbers 1 and 2 were all more crowded and seemed to be considered more the main beach. Usually when you go to the beach you look out and you see only water. But this beach was in a sort of inlet so you looked out and saw land across the way. That was the only part that disappointed me. I do love to gaze at the ocean. There were huge boulder rocks along part of the shore and water was around them. We had a huge spot around us with no people occupying it. The kids immediately went out to explore. We were all so surprised to see that the water was super clear. You could see your feet. The bottom was sandy and so amazingly clean. We could walk around most of the boulders and have the water come, at the most, up to our thighs. So we climbed on boulders, jumped in the water, and had a great time. The water was very, very cold but hey, that's Massachusetts ocean for you :)


I sat on the beach reading while the teenagers played and played. They kept talking excitedly about the tide going out and I knew from looking at the rocks we had played on earlier that it was going out because there was now no water around the rocks we had been climbing on and jumping off of. But the kids finally got me curious enough to get up and actually walk around the rocks and look and I could not believe what I saw. Usually when the tide goes out it goes straight out from the shore and it was doing that BUT there was a huge, super long sandbar showing that was parallel to the beach. Sadly, you had to be there to get the whole effect. But it looked like a, "Moses parting the Red Sea" moment. This sandbar went clear out and there was water on both sides of the sandbar. People were all walking out to the end of this bar where the waves were crossing. We looked like zombies walking aimlessly to no end. When you got out to the end and could keep walking on this sandbar that still had water on it and it looked like you were walking on water. It was very cool. There was a lifeguard standing out at the end of the sandbar because the actual shore was quite a ways away.

So Wingaersheek Beach was a success. There are always things that could be better...like not having to pay so much to park at the beach :) Can you tell I am still haunted by that memory of handing over $35.00? And the only other bummer was returning to the car to realize they had parked a million cars super close to my 15 passenger van, clearly, not realizing you can not turn those huge cars on a dime :) But luckily I am trained in 1,000 point turns and we got out fine :)

The picture on the left is Madeline and Amanda and the picture on the right is Miriam and Madeline.

Aug 1, 2010

Breaking Things.

Have you ever broken a bone? I have. I broke my nose twice. I don't really think breaking your nose counts towards anything though because it does not involve a cast, an x-ray, or crutches....at least mine didn't. When it comes to broken bones the only child I have that that ever came close was Zach who fractured his distal clavicle twice, ended up with surgery, and a metal plate. But none of his experience involved a cast or crutches either.....it did involve lots of x-rays though :) What I am trying to say is that considering that we own a trampoline, have owned it for 16 years, have no rules for the trampoline, no safety net for the trampoline, and considering that we have seven kids, our visits to the ER and our total number of casts has been very, very low....well actually non existent. So this weeks events were bound to
happen....sometime.

It happened Friday morning. Natalie has had a hard time finding friends who can have play dates this summer and Friday morning all the "Play Date God's" smiled on us and her little friend Spencer was able to come over for a few hours. They played and played and played. I never heard a peep from them until Natalie came crying at the sliding glass door with her arm hanging limply from her side. You know how sometimes you wonder about the nature of an injury? Sometimes you think ER or not? I knew immediately what I should do:

We drove Spencer home.
With tons of tears involved got Natalie out of her swimsuit and into some ER worthy clothes.
Grabbed fruit snacks.
Called someone to come and pick up Tatiana and her two friends.

Then we drove into town to our little hometown Emergency room. It was not very crowded. But I knew the minute I got there and had four different people direct me as to where I should go first that the efficency of this trip was not looking good. I am going to be so bold as to say that I could run a very efficent emergency room if given the chance. At least I know enough to know that you should probably do all your paperwork at one spot.

Natalie is a very anxious child as all the Baird children...except Madeline have been. Baird kids do not like the unknown. And a broken arm was definitely unknown to Natalie. If you need numbers I would say the unknown caused her to have tears flowing down her little cheeks about 75% of the day on Friday. She could hardly walk because of the pain her arm caused her so she had to sit in a wheel chair....that made her cry. She cried so much in the x-ray room that she made the technicians cry....they felt horrible for the pain they had to cause her to get the skeleton pictures. She cried when they put her in a hospital gown.(Any outfit with the back wide open for the world to see is bound to make you cry.) She cried when they wrapped her in two hospital gowns to go home in. She cried when anyone just looked at her arm with their eyes...let alone their hands :)

I have that "mom feeling" about the whole experience. You know the feeling....the one where the mom thinks something is not quite right? Yeah, I never let that feeling go. So next week I will be on the phone, a ton, calling orthopedics guys, and calling the x-ray guys, and the pediatrician guys, and if I am bored I can always put a call into the Obama guy just to chat about healthcare since I will most likely be in the mood.

I know you are fighting the urge to comment on the fact that the trampoline was involved in the accident but in the trampolines defense I want to tell you that Natalie was not jumping she was accidentally pushed off the trampoline by Spencer. It was, "part of the game" :)

We are going to have to decide what to do about her upcoming baptism on the 20th. Last time I checked a cast from your armpit down to your fingertips, baptism outfits, fonts full of water, and the word immersion don't all go together very well.

She is sad, sad, sad about the fact that she has not been to Six Flags yet and now her chances are not looking so good. She is sad about the fact that she can not hold books in bed while laying down. She is sad that I have to help her in the bathroom. She is sad about not swimming for awhile. But life is full of disappointment. And we have already had the chat about what would have been worse than breaking an arm.....you know it is all about perspective:)

Jul 19, 2010

Summer.

Summer...yea. It is not the way I remember it. If someone told me ten years ago when my oldest kiddo was 10 that in 2010 my summer would not involve reading Little House on the Prairie books out loud, going swimming in the afternoon, doing the library reading program, taking 3 week long road trips, and making job charts for the kiddos I would have thought they sure have a lot of nerve. But as it always is with the future....it happened. Summer is busier than when school is in. No one is in any classes or camps but it is still busy. Girls camp was one week and EFY is one week. That is all the Baird children are doing this summer and I still had to schedule a day for Six Flags, a day for the beach, a day for NYC, a day for the LEGO exhibit in Springfield, and a day to go to the Ben and Jerry's ice cream plant in Vermont. And notice I did not even get an "s" on the end of my use of the word day? I only have one day at each place. I was hoping for DAYS.

But despite my complaining....or is it whining? And my adorable high expectations of myself I have accomplished a lot of things so let me tell you all about them so that maybe in doing so I can feel better.

The little girls bedroom is painted a lovely shade of lilac tan. Lilac tan? Yeah, I do not know who named that one.....maybe they thought lilac written all by itself on the little paint swatch looked boring and while they were thinking about how they needed to get a tan they accidentally wrote tan next to lilac? All I know is everyone in the house likes the color and it is done.

A long time ago when we lived in Kansas my friend Alane gave me a table and 8 chairs. When we were getting ready to move from Indiana to Massachusetts I got a notion to spray paint them. Of course the notion came when I was also packing up my house but trust me when those notions come, you acknowledge them, and act. Especially when you are me...which you aren't are you? :) Anyway, I spray painted the chairs red. My dear friend Joan sanded the top of my table and we stained it. And I painted the legs of the table red. It turned out beautiful. But since I was in the middle of packing... it is possible that some parts under the chairs never got spray painted red and you did not know that when you sat in my chairs but I did and it has been driving me crazy. So about two weeks ago I set the chairs in the backyard and spray painted them again. And now if you come over and feel the urge to check under my chairs you will see they are indeed ALL red :)

Once a week we have been going to the free movies at the movie theater. I have never done this before. But it has turned out to be a really fun thing for Tatiana, Natalie, and Amanda and I to do. Some of these movies I have always wondered about but never had enough time to sit down and actually watch them.....you know how that happens, right? So far Planet 51 has been my favorite. And this week is Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.

We have picked raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and all experiences were absolutely perfect in every way. Not too hot. Lots of berries. We actually just picked blueberries last Sunday evening. We took the whole family and some friends came along too. We drove up Skyline Trail to a secluded, abandoned blueberry patch. It was 7:00 in the evening and the temperature was perfect. Everyone had a container and went their merry way....except Joe who spent his time trying to scare us all with the thought of bears. It really was a perfect evening.

Seminary occupies a pretty big part of each day. I have been reading a ton of stuff trying to figure out how I want to do everything this year. Besides educating myself on church history. I have read seminary blogs, I have asked all my old seminary teacher friends. Basically anyone who will talk to me I have asked about their ideas :) I really, really, really love to gather information before I make decisions. Last Sunday was my opening Seminary meeting and as I looked at the room full of 16 Seminary kids and saw them laughing, chatting, and smiling at each other I felt so happy. I am really looking forward to this year.

The yard has occupied a lot of my time this summer. For the first time since we have lived here my garden has really taken off and done what it should. Last year I fought slugs, bugs and blight. This year I have bunnies and birds but we seem to have, strangely, learned how to co-exist.....although Joe's airsoft gun is always in the back of my mind :) All of my plants are huge and healthy and I have SO many green tomatoes I am going to be very busy in a few weeks canning like crazy.

So I know my list was supposed to make me feel better but I confess all I can think about is that I still need to:

Paint my front door
Paint the bathroom
Prune the raspberries
Move the three boxwoods to the back yard
Plant the three grasses in the boxwoods old spot.
Move the linum
Get Joe and Amanda ready for EFY
organize the storage room


Yeah, you know the list could go on and on don't you?

Word Of The Day

Okay, the word of the day is "drama." I must get to the bottom of this. People use the word drama all the time. Yes, I am one of those people. I have been using it so much that the other day I stopped and realized I needed to find out more about what drama really means.

Do you associate the word drama with good or bad?

Did you know there is a town in Northeastern Greece named Drama?

There is a drama section at Blockbuster and I am always a little interested in which movies end up in the drama section. Sometimes I tend to think it is just where they put everything else that does not fall in any of the other categories.

My best friend dictionary.com says that drama is : "any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results."

Okay, what about if we add the word queen? Drama queen. Do you know one? By today's standards Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind was one, just in case you need an example.

I was so relieved when I read all about drama queens because I thought I had five of them and it turns out I don't. I had even started to wonder if I was one, and it turns out that...drum roll please........ I am not....whew. I do love being wrong. My five girls are emotional. But what girl isn't?(actually, I even know some seriously adorable drama kings). If the Baird girls were actual drama queens they would be self centered divas. You would have to walk on eggshells around them.

A drama queen over reacts to "seemingly minor life experiences".... it is that word "seemingly" that gets me every time. Did you know it means, "appearing, whether truly or falsely to be as specified?" So that must mean that someone else who is standing around watching you is deciding from the appearances of things whether your life experiences are minor or not? Someone who has not lived your life and had all the experiences you have is deciding whether you are over reacting or not and then labeling you a drama lover accordingly.

According to the all knowing internet drama queens are not really very good people. It seems that they wrote the bestselling book on "selfishness", and the follow up bestselling book on "making unreasonable demands." I have never and will never label someone a drama queen. I am not them and I have not lived their life, it is possible that I have gone through two or three of the same experiences they have but it will never be enough to understand them enough to label them a drama queen. Besides, all they really need is someone to talk to and help them through some tough times. It may be a couple of years worth of tough times or it may be just a day of tough times. But I am a sucker and I will be there for you through it all.

So what do you think? Am I way off base? Too much drama? :)

Jul 4, 2010

Just Catching Up With Pictures

Miriam and Gage in a box.

Tatiana and Natalie at a waterfall by our house.

Joe, in the blue shirt....done with Middle School!

Garden 2010

Jul 2, 2010

Preconceived Notions.

I have high expectations.....sigh...there I said it. What happens now? Do you know what expectations are? Yeah, I am not sure myself. Let's see if in the course of writing about it I can figure it all out. Did you know that if you are human you have expectations? There is no way out of it, you can't ever avoid that old pal expectations. And just to make it extra fun the studies say that we are only aware of a small number of our expectations the majority of those rascally expectations stay hidden. You have expectations of:

yourself,
your kids,
your friends,
your spouse,
your job,
the weather,
your hydrangea,
your cat,
your food you order at a restaurant.

Just to name a few......honestly the list of things you have expectations of is endless....that means eternal which means it goes on and on and on :)

I have been asking the question lately, of everyone I can, "Where on earth do our gosh darn expectations come from?" I mean it...I really need to know. So finally, tonight, when I gave in and asked all knowing google,"Where do expectations come from?" the answer that appeared made everything clear.....it said "expectations generally come from our past experiences." Yipppeee, I can yet again, blame my perfect parents for my current woes...parents really dig that :) I really did have the best childhood ever. After I blame my parents for my high expectations I should probably blame the entire 1986 graduating class from Snohomish High school...they were so accepting and nice to me....voted for me to be a Senior class officer, nominated me the most friendliest for the yearbook....got me through high school with a great self esteem so you can see that at the very young age of 17 I already had high expectations of life.

How do you get rid of high expectations? Did you know that there are people who try with all their might to go through life claiming to expect nothing? I have been known to fall in this category.....especially around my birthday time when I declare to everyone that I have no expectations for my birthday. I did not know if you knew that if you have no expectations then you avoid disappointment.....but living life without preconceived notions and expectations would be extremely difficult so it would be a minor miracle if you truly and honestly had no expectations....yes, I may be calling you a liar....but what did you expect :) So since you can't get rid of the velcro like expectations what can you do? GASP......you can go with the flow! Crazy? I know.....who does that? Who makes the best of whatever happens?

Jun 23, 2010

Steven James Ord


I can't believe that I forgot to call my dad on Father's Day. I remembered and then I forgot...multiple times. I used to be the favorite child in the family but I think I am going to have to relinquish the spot :) The only thing I can do to make it up to him is embarrass him and tell you all about him. Honestly, everyone in the world should have had a dad like mine. (I am not just saying that so I can get back the favorite child spot...or am I?)

My first memory of my dad is watching him do jumping jacks and situps in the morning before he went to work when we lived in Sedro Woolley, Washington. Soon after that first memory comes the memory of him playing the piano and singing silly songs while my siblings and I danced around the living room. He used to play "Johnny Get Your Haircut"....haircut...haircut. And "Let's Go Hunting Said Risky Rob" and so many more.

My dad has ruined everything because he really is perfect so I expect everyone else to be. He always dealt with everything with us kids with a sense of humor I remember the first time I ever saw him lose his temper and I was already married and had one kid and we were visiting my parents in American Samoa. Even then it was a pretty minor loss of temper. I have never heard him swear and he always seems to be in control of himself....something I greatly admire.

My dad always wants you to feel his muscles in his arms and then he wants you to punch his stomach to feel his muscle there too. He has very flat feet so I will never forget how his walk looks and I was so happy when I realized that my oldest son Zach walks just like him.

My dad was born and raised in California. He is the only one of his siblings to move away from California. He went to BYU Provo, served a mission for our church in England and then went to the University of Washington to get his MBA. I remember when he got his CPA when I was a kid and we were living in California. He always knows everything about numbers, taxes and mortgage rates I am pretty sure all of us kids always call him for financial advice. I did not recieve his gift for numbers. He spent many a long, frustrating hours working on Math with me.

Because of my dad I often chant the phrase "Hubba Hubba woo woo woo chacha lacha ching ching choo choo choo." And when I do chant it to my kids I remember my dad doing this little dance with his arms stretched out from his sides and his feet shuffling back and forth while he would say it. I also remember him telling us this story when we would beg for a story...."It was a dark and stormy night and a band of men were sitting around the campfire and the captain said boys lets tell a story and this is the way the story goes...It was a dark and stormy night"......You get the idea??

My dad is always working in the yard with my mom. Actually my dad and mom are always together. They grocery shop together, they go on windjammer cruises together, they go to England together, they are on a mission for our church in Hawaii right now....together.

When trampolines first became popular we were one of the first ones to have one. One time we were all jumping on it and ( much to moms chagrin) he casually tossed a lit M-80 firecracker off the deck next to the trampoline where we did not see it and when it went off you should have seen all of us kids jump :) He laughed and laughed. I got my love of really loud fireworks from him. He would go to the Indian reservation when we were kids and ask for the big, illegal, not allowed for home use fireworks that were used by the loggers. The ones that were hidden behind the counters.

My dad is a reader and he can concentrate and read anywhere. All of us kids would be running around where he was reading being loud kids and he would be sitting there reading like nothing was going on.

He loves to play jokes and was always teasing us kids. He would get on the roof and drop stuff and we would not know where it came from. He loved to mess with our minds :) He would write me extremely embarrassing notes when I was late or absent from school. The ladies in the office would laugh and laugh when they got his notes. One of them said "Please excuse Jennifer for being late she had rigor morits of the cranium" And another one he signed but under his signature he wrote "signed under duress"

I really am amazed as I sit here and write it all out how much I could go on and on about my dad. He was always the last one to the car on Sunday after church because he is so social and friendly. Yes, I inherited the social part of me from him :)

I really can not think of any faults he has...well other than not writing me more checks :) He has always set an amazing example to me of how to deal with people in a kind way. He as always made our religion his first priority and set a great example of how to live it.

So dad I am eternally sorry I forgot to call you on Sunday. But since I call you every other day of the year I am sure it is okay that I missed one day....(just have to make my siblings nervous :) HAHA

I love you dearly...oh, and mom I love you too :)

Jun 22, 2010

To Advance With Violent Effort.

Hey, when was the last time you struggled? Do you know what it means to struggle? I confess I never did until recently. If you are struggling you are contending with an adversary or an opposing force. Or if you prefer, another definition is that, "you are contending resolutely with a task or problem" but I think my favorite is, "to advance with violent effort."

Jillian Michaels, who I exercise with every other day, and hate deeply because she makes me struggle, says that you need to put stress on something to make it change. She is talking about making my body change shape but I easily realized that what she is saying also applies to my life too. As much as I long for it the truth is, if I live a perfect, easy life I will stay the same and never grow.

All that said I have lived a pretty cushy, struggle free life. I kept wondering for many years when my trials would come, anticipating them and wondering if I was ready for what they would bring. I kept wondering who would be there to help me through them? Would anyone know I was struggling and reach out to me? And, it may seem strange but I was looking forward to the time that I could use my struggles to relate with someone else and help them through the same things.

In the Bible Job had a struggle ( to put it nicely) and the part that always bothered me was not the boils he got, the property that was destroyed, the children destroyed, the health he lost, it was the losing of his friends. Can you imagine having no one to support you or listen to you through your struggle? Can you imagine no one who understood that you were a work in progress and that your struggle was going to make you better?

Have you ever struggled to open a fruit snack wrapper? I hate it when I discover that for some annoying reason someone in some factory somewhere did not put the little cut in the top of my fruit snack package so that I can easily tear it open. I hate that I can't do it with my teeth, you can't do it with your teeth, and our hands don't work, the car keys don't work and there is strangely no scissors in the car? I feel like that has been my life the past two years and six months. I knew I was going to learn something amazing from my struggles I could feel it...just like I can taste the awesome chewy fruit snacks even though the package is not open. And I was right, the ability to feel peace, the ability to not care anymore, the ability to learn has been very tasty :)

Oh we can not dismiss the fact that it has been most painful, it has cost me a dear friendship, and it has used up way too many tears. But I am now qualified to be there for you when you have the same struggles, I will be watching to see if you need me and I will know exactly what you need, I will listen forever, I will be patient, I will reassure you your a good person even though sometimes you may appear crazy, I will give you as many chances as you need, and I will never give up on you. All I ask in return is some Reeses :)

May 20, 2010

Play Us A Song.


I do not know when I started playing the piano. I have a vague memory of a piano in a room in our house in Visalia, California and a vague memory of a babysitter teaching me what the notes were. I remember feeling determined to learn a song. I think that was the last time I ever felt that determined feeling :) The first song I taught myself was the top hand of I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.

I am sure I went through the "Heart and Soul" phase....everyone goes through that phase....you know, the phase where you learn Heart and Soul on the piano and every time you pass a piano you can not resist the urge to let the world know that you know how to play Heart and Soul. I have a lot of questions about this Heart and Soul thing...who started it? Who decided this is the song that I am going to make sure every kid between the ages of 8 and 12 in America learns? You know the song, right? BAH BAH BAH, BAH DAH BAH DAH BAH DAH , BAH BAH BAH, BAH DAH BAH DAH BAH DAH.....

I do not know the exact moment I started piano lessons. I do not even know if I begged my parents for them or if they just randomly decided they wanted me to have lessons. The first piano teacher I remember having was Glenn Crocker. He was my piano teacher when we lived in California. Of course now I know that he was an amazing teacher and I wish I could go back and take advantage of his "amazing-ness" more than I did. Regret....I do adore you :) I do not know if I practiced without being nagged. I do not know if I ever begged to quit piano. You would think if I hated it I would have some memory of that. I do know that while my sisters were outside raising sheep, cows and pigs for 4-H I was in the house playing the piano so I must have had a love for it. Thank goodness the butcher does not have to come and visit your piano :)

I do remember trying everything in my power to get my teacher to play a new song once through so that I would not have to work as hard to learn it because then I would know how it sounded.....I think it is called laziness.

By the time I was eleven someone caught on to my piano playing ability and I was officially asked to accompany the singing time for the kids ages 3 to 12 in our church. From then on I was always playing the piano at church. My first piano solo was Minuet in G by Bach and I still remember that day and I still love to play that song. My first piano recital a fly flew up my nose while I was playing my song.

When I was in high school I tried out for a chance to sing in the Jazz Choir. I did not make it as a singer but the teacher asked me to be the Jazz choir accompanist. I did not know then that I was more the classical sort of girl, not the improvise, play be-bop sort of girl. I guess everyone involved should have realized that anyone who wears dresses almost everyday of high school, mostly preppy dresses, had the most common name in the world, never wore leg warmers, and never dyed her hair a different color was not cut out for accompanying the Jazz choir. But no one knows that stuff in high school. Jazz does not have many rules it seems to be more what you feel and I am pretty sure you know I prefer to suppress what I feel and thus tend to embrace the black and white classical world. I worked hard at accompanying jazz choir but I think I was a huge liability to the choir and it still haunts me. I did not even realize that I was just not the jazz piano playing type until my 20th high school reunion and Dean Edwards who was in the Jazz Choir band with me declared to me that I was not a bad piano player I was just a classical pianist not a jazz pianist and then I had that AH HA moment that explains everything :) Better late than never.


When I went to BYU I played the piano quite a bit. Someone was always looking for an accompanist, or someone to play a duet with them and I enjoyed it. But there was this one time that I had to accompany a girl for a talent show. She sang that song that has the line..."and all that jazz." I can not remember the name of the song but it had some tough, fast piano moments and I did not have enough time to practice and I was not proud of the job I did. I found myself feeling tired of playing the piano. Wanting to be known for something else. I really like to do what I do perfectly with no mistakes. Yeah, hello reality :) Give me a small break I was only 18 :)

Well I got married, had kids, and went many years without a piano in my house that I could practice on. My skills waned and I lost my confidence. No one in Princeton or Kansas knew how much I knew about piano and I was fine with that. I loved having a chance to be able to do other things. I learned during this time that I loved to teach and speak in public something I may have never known otherwise. There are not many people who know how to play the piano so when people find out you play you rarely get a chance to do anything else. Near the middle of our time in Kansas my dad surprised me by getting me an upright piano. Growing up we had owned a beautiful K Kawai baby grand piano and I loved it. We had a huge empty living room with only the baby grand piano sitting in it. I would play and my friend Evelyn would have plenty of room to do ballet moves to my music all over the living room :) I guess once you pay for a piano like that furniture moves down the list of needs. I had always hoped it would be my piano someday but when my family moved to American Samoa they had to get rid of the piano so I never got it. Turns out that I have never lived in a house that would accomodate a baby grand easily so then my dad would have had to get me a better house...it would have just been messy :)

When I moved to Massachusetts I for some reason started playing the piano again. I am not sure how it happened. Before I knew it I was even playing the organ in church which was very awkward since I have never had a lesson for the organ in my whole life. And just for the record it is not like playing the piano in any way. But I muddle through. I love to play but I feel very isolated from everyone when I am always behind the piano. You know me and my social needs :)

I still have the piano my dad bought for us in Kansas in the 1990's it has gone through a move to Indiana and a move to Massachusetts with volunteer movers who tend to accidentally drop pianos. Now that I play the piano in church all the time again I have sadly noticed my piano is not very good. There is a huge difference between my home piano and the pianos I play at church. Our piano bench is wobbily,the notes do not sound right, the keys stick. I feel guilty even possibly making you think I am not grateful for it. I really never would have known what I was missing if I did not play the piano every week in church.

Zach plays the piano. Madeline played the piano....(don't ask about the use of the word "played," she was so good at it I think I am still mourning her exit from the piano world :) Amanda took a few years of lessons and now I am currently torturing Tatiana with lessons. The keys on the piano that stick frustrate her so she is always asking to quit. But once I figured out that she was only asking to quit because of the condition of our piano I have made her stick with it, that is really no excuse to quit. She has these amazing, long, slender fingers that really should not go to waste :)

I remember when I was in college I was discussing with the other pianist in my church congregation how I sometimes wish I could have a different job at church and she surprised me by scolding me for not being glad I could share my talents. I try to remember that every time I long for something else to do at church. Something that would let me have time to get to know people. Something new that would help me to grow in other areas of my life. Ungrateful, evil, old me....SIGH.

May 16, 2010

Buying Old Things.






So three times a year something happens about 45 minutes away from my house in a little town called Brimfield. The first time I went to Brimfield I really had no idea what to expect. I did not even realize until the third time I went how significant the Brimfield Antique Show really is. It started in 1959 and it is now the worlds largest outdoor antique show. There are over 6,000 vendors who come to Brimfield to make their fortune. People from all over the world mark the one week in May, July and September that Brimfield happens on their calendars. You know the kind of people, people who collect things..... people like Martha Stewart.....just to name drop...I read that she attends :) Brimfield would not be on my radar screen if I did not live in Massachusetts such a short drive from it. If you are not into buying old stuff and if you do not collect metal lunch boxes then it takes awhile to understand Brimfield. The first time I went I was overwhelmed and not overly impressed. Booth after booth of antiques... books and guns found in someones attic; pictures, dishes, furniture and linens from estate sales; molding, lights and fixtures from old factories, the list could go on and on. After I experienced Brimfield the first time I realized that there are a few things you need to know before you show up at Brimfield.


You need to know if you collect anything.

You need to know that a doorknob is not really a doorknob but rather a curtain holder. You really can not want things for their intended purpose you have to be able to get past their appearance and see what their potential is.

You need to know what is a good price to pay for old stuff.

You really need to know yourself.


About an hour into my first trip to Brimfield I realized that I had to break this whole experience down so that I could focus, so I tried to notice what I was drawn to. You probably would not be surprised to know that it happened to be things that had a clear purpose, things like boxes and containers. Things like old fruit crates, old wooden boxes that used to hold cream cheese, wooden feed boxes., plant stands, and cigar boxes. I started noticing prices and of course asking questions. So when I came home from Brimfield that year I had in my posession an old wooden pear box that the grower would pack his pears in before sending them to the grocery store. Stamped on the box are the instructions to the wholesaler and the retailer on how to condition the pears to sell them. I use the box to hold my magazines. I spent $10.00 on the box....which I constantly tell myself was a good deal. I also purchased a green wooden box that was originally from a feed company. I am not really sure what it was originally used for. But I love it. It sits on my front porch with a plant in it. I think I spent $15.00 on it. I looked for another one this year but there were not as many available and they were closer to $40.00.


There is this one booth at Brimfield that I love because it has old fishing stuff from Cape Cod and Maine. There are wooden lobster buoys, piles of them, all different colors. Everytime I go to Brimfield I carefully choose one set and carry it around but always end up putting it back. The small ones are $5.00 the big ones are $8.00. LL Bean sells replicas of the buoys in their home catalog for $19.50 apiece so I am not sure what my problem is about purchasing them. when they are such a good deal. I also have been known to stare longingly at the huge glass fishing floats. that are also at this booth, they are enormous green glass balls. When I was a kid there was this time that my family was on the beach in California and we found a small green glass fishing float. I loved seeing that fishing float sitting on the mantle or a bookshelf in our house growing up and I always wanted it. There is something about buying one that is not as fabulous as finding one on the beach. But I think my chances of finding a float on the beach are very small so I should just give in and buy one at an antique show in Western Massachusetts.
This last week I attended Brimfield and it is getting better and better, each time I go. This time I spent $27.00 including my $4.00 lunch. I bought the black metal plant stand you see in the picture. I should have bought all 4 of them that the lady had but spending a lot of money in one spot is not easy for me. The lady I bought it from found all of them at an estate sale in New Hampshire. I bought mine from her for $15.00. I was very pleased with this purchase because I had been looking at plant stands for quite awhile. I knew how much they were new, I knew how expensive they could be. And I knew I needed it.
My next purchase was....plants. I can not resist plants even at an antiques collectible show where they clearly have no place. But these two herbs I bought totally knew my name and were just so beautiful I could not resist. ... definitely needed them !! My last purchase was two peach baskets that were a dollar apiece and will be very handy for putting my veggies in this summer. Usually I end up out in my garden with nothing to hold all my vegetables I just picked.
It is so amazing how much stuff is at Brimfield and how many people there are to buy it. Brimfield's population is usually only 3,500 but three times a year it jumps to over 130,000 due to the antique show.
I really think you should come and visit me in September and I will take you to Brimfield. maybe you are just the person to convince me to buy those lobster buoys I want. It is so fun to wander and see all the unusual stuff. And you would be surprised to find out just like my friend Jenn pointed out, "how often someone elses trash turns out to be your treasure."

May 12, 2010

Simple.

"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we ought to be" I think I have known this song my whole life..... it is actually an old Shaker song that became quite famous when Aaron Copland decided to incorporate it into his Appalachian Spring ballet he was writing for Martha Graham in the 1940's....I love picking the tune to this song out when I listen to Appalachian Spring and adore how the tune starts out very simple and then builds up to loads of soaring and flowing so much soaring and flowing that you can not help but hum/sing along.

So what brought this walk down memory lane about the, Tis a Gift to Be Simple song? Well I have been thinking about simple lately. About 4 or 5 times a year I find myself yearning for the simple life. You may ask... "Why don't you just get yourself a simple life if you long for it so much?" Well sadly it's not that simple :)

What does it mean to live simple? Being able to prioritize what is important to you? Not needing much? Having less choices? Being out of debt? Not depending on anyone for anything? Having a horse and a buggy for transportation?

Is there anything simple in your life? Breakfast? Sleeping? A glass of water? Driving to work? Relationships?

Is simple in your head? Do you inherit your ability to keep things simple? Would I appear crazy if I said that the more of life I experience the more un-simple it seems to get? I do NOT want it that way but despite my wishes it is happening at an alarming rate.


When I think of simple I think of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Getting a penny, some candy and a tin cup in your stocking for Christmas and being estatic about it. Getting up with the sun and going to bed with the sun. Sliding down a hay stack. Planting food, picking food, cooking food. Yeah, I am aware that there were Indians, coyotes, sickness, crop failure and other struggles back then. But I have some simple notion that I could handle anything if I had a long skirt on and a pioneer bonnet oh..okay and an epidural for when I deliver a baby :)

May 9, 2010

Prom Dress, Polo Shirts, and Opinions.

Last week I shopped. Miriam decided to go to a Mormon Prom and oh so many hours of my week last week were devoted to helping her find a dress, shoes, jewelry, and last but not least hair clips. The dressing rooms started to blur together. If you are the richest, skinniest person in the world Prom is surely a breeze but for all the rest of us in the world it is surely not. You have a vision in your head of what you will look like and you search and search until you realize that you must modify your vision. Just like when you buy a house.....or find a husband? :) It was tough. I confess that I did not complete the task and that in the end I ended up sending her to the mall with my dear friend Gail to procure the shoes and accessories. I failed Prom shopping 101. If you enjoy hearing about my failures then let me share some more. I strongly dislike Prom. I did everything in my power to talk my 17 year old out of it. I suggested taking the money and going to a show in New York City. I suggested a concert. Anything that did not involve so much money. I know Prom is a rite of passage. I know it is the pinnacle of high school. Yes, I went to my Senior Ball. I had an amazing time. I really liked the guy I went with. I had a horrid dress and thankfully did not even realize it until about 4 years ago :) But I have a hard time saying it made my life better. I do not understand why I am this way about Prom. If you understand what my problem is please feel free to call my "Solve Jennifer Baird's issues with perfectly harmless events hot line." I am afraid to say much more. Then you would know oh so much about me. And honestly, this post really was about shopping not my opinions on Prom.

I did not realize how hard the shopping for a prom dress was until Saturday at 11:45am when I walked into Kohls with Joe. Joe has not been clothes shopping in forever and he just recently mentioned that he did not have anything to wear. So we walked to the boys department in Kohl's he chose three polos in three different colors, then we walked to the shorts display and he chose three pairs of shorts. Then we strolled by the socks and underwear and chose two packages. It took ten minutes. His 3 sisters, who were just getting settled into the juniors department for a long winter shop, were completely bewildered by the short trip to Kohls. I know none of our purchases had to do with an event that involves one evening that can apparently change your life so I would be hard pressed to compare but I must say the difference was amazing. Just so you do not think he was perfect he did want a particular hoodie that he did not see it at Kohl's so we drove to the mall. Where we tried Old Navy and then American Eagle. On the clearance rack in American Eagle he found the hoodie of his dreams he paid for half of it and voila, we were done.

Why do I not understand an evening that is all about what you wear, how you look, and what you arrive in? Why am I the Grinch of Prom? I love to dress up. I would wear a ball gown with matching accessories everyday if I could....yes, I am telling the truth. Seventeen year old Jennifer would slap 41 year old Jennifer in an instant for having perspective and not thinking only about the moment. I must remember that. Maybe I am longing for teenagers to see past the moment and themselves and that is not possible. Life is not that way....right? :) I should let them enjoy the moment and the one very expensive event because someday they will grow up and get married and have kids and lose that body that looks great in a prom dress :)