Jan 26, 2010

Gardening in New England in January.

Almost every morning when I was a kid and I woke up in the morning I could never find my mom in the house she was always out in the yard. She loves to garden. I remember having to weed a row of something before I could have fun with my friends. I have no doubt I received my love of being in the yard from my parents. They were both always outside. Of course as a kid I did not think it was so great that I had to mow the lawn and weed and move rocks but now I realize my fondest memories are of being outside laying on my stomach in the rows of peas eating as fast as I could hoping my mom did not see me, or feeling the relief that little plant must feel as I cleared all the weeds from around it.

The house we rented when we were first married in Provo, Utah luckily had a garden spot that had already been used for many years. We got permission to plant in it and that was pretty much all we had to do. The ground was amazing and the weeds were few. When Zach was a baby he used to sit in that garden and eat the tops off of the onions while I worked. I really did not know much about gardening other than plant, water, weed. I really did not know that there was anymore too it.

Then we moved to Princeton, New Jersey and another apartment. This one had no garden spot just a small square by the front door that I could fill with whatever I wanted. Knowing what I know now I would go back and fill it with veggies but at the time I thought the space was too small and instead filled it with flowers. Now I know that too small of a space is no excuse.

In Kansas we had a very hilly yard with lots of trees providing unwanted shade. I planted veggies around the foundation of the house where I could find sun but the story was again, not much space. A kind lady in the ward offered me a space in her yard and I tried to make that work but it never really did. I was not as dedicated as I should have been to loading kids in the car and driving to my garden.

By the time we left Kansas I was determined that we would have a house with a garden spot with full sun and lots of space. I vetoed a lot of houses because of their lack of a appropriate garden spot. The house we finally ended up with in Indiana had four acres with not one single tree on it. It was amazing. We picked a spot on top of a hill for the garden. It was beautiful. I could see forever in every direction. I would often look up from my work and just admire my view. I loved that garden. The soil was perfect. Water never pooled where it shouldn't. There was full sun on every inch of it. I even had a raspberry patch and a strawberry patch and dill that came back every year and multiplied like crazy. I learned a lot in my Indiana garden. I learned which way to plant asparagus. I could not figure out why it was not growing and it just so happened my Master Gardener mom was in town and she checked out the scene and announced that I had planted the asparagus upside down. One of my prouder moments :) I learned that I did not like to use straw as a mulch for my garden. I learned about adding fertilizer to the garden. I learned what tomato worms were...very nasty critters. My husband learned that when you add ashes from the fire pit to your wife's garden you should make sure the nails are all out of the ashes. I was very sad to leave that garden when we had to leave Indiana.

When we were house hunting in Massachusetts it was very difficult to find a flat yard with full sun...not to mention the other things you need in a house when you have seven kids. But thankfully we found something suitable.

This Massachusetts gardening is the most challenging yet. How did the Pilgrims and early settlers in New England ever eat? I keep reminding myself it must be possible because there are so many roadside stands selling veggies here in the summer. Can I tell you how discouraged I was that first spring when I stuck my shovel into the dirt in my yard and there were rocks everywhere? I could not believe it. I kept pulling bucket after bucket of rocks out of my yard. Then came the disease, the pests and the strangest dirt I had ever seen. I have yet to have a successful tomato crop here. But I am gaining lots of useful information about fighting disease and pests and rocks. Things I never knew back in my cushy gardening days. I have never planted seeds before and not had the appropriate item come up. I figured that was just a given...if you have dirt, water and sun it should come up , right? Not in Massachusetts. You need to supplement the soil, you need to have warm soil, you need to read books to your soil, you have to comb your hair before you soil sees you:) Welcome to Zone 5.

Yesterday I spent the day poring over seed catalogs. This year I made sure to only look at seed catalogs from companies based in New England. Hoping they have seeds that are going to be thrilled to be here in my rocky, acidic soil. I looked carefully for disease resistant seeds, seeds that have been treated so they can be planted in cold, wet ground and be oh so happy.

I made lists of words that I have never had to care about before...determinate, hybrid, open pollinated, untreated seed, indeterminate and looked them up. I made a list of what I want to grow this year. I made lists of how deep every seed wants to be planted to make it's little dreams come true. I made lists of banks to rob to fund my list of seed. I made lists of people to thank when I receive an Academy award for my garden :)

I am determined this year. Information is power. I have read up on diseases and how to catch them early and prevent them. I have read up on how the most efficient and unethical way to murder slugs.....yes, I hate them. I have my arguments ready for the naysayers. I have a map drawn of where everything will be planted. I am researching tomato support and trying to decide what will be best.

I am trying to be patient I have been known to put seeds in the ground too early. And with all the snow that has currently melted it is doubly hard to resist.....no I won't plant in January in New England....I have learned a little :)

Jan 24, 2010

On My Mind.

Yes, it has been over a week since I last posted. Yes, that really bothers me. But I must tell you my mind has been crowded and I can not seem to consolidate it all into one post that is suitable for viewing :) I never have been able to focus when my mind is crowded. I keep standing by waiting for it to be uncrowded and for some shining, shimmering, clear as a bell post to just come floating into my lap but it has been 8 days and it is not happening. Every day I sit down and start a few paragraphs of a post and then end up just saving it because someone might take it wrong, or it does not sound right, or I could not figure out where to put a comma (well okay you caught me I never do worry about that :) Anyway, I finally decided that maybe if I just let myself ramble I can get it all out and we can start fresh with an empty mind.....hmmmm I wonder what an empty mind feels like? :) I doubt over thinkers ever have those :)

Hanging Pictures on the wall is on my mind. I am not good at this. I am getting better at it but it still does not come naturally to me. I am sure I am making it harder than it should be.....I do not know if you know I do this :) I need to just pull out all my pictures and lay them on the floor and arrange them until I am happy and then hang them up. There...problem solved :)

Broken dryers are on my mind. My dryer is on vacation and whenever an appliance does that I miss it so. I realize how much I need it. I spend a lot of time realizing how cushy my life is. And I even ponder on my pioneer ancestors and what they went through to get dry clothes. I waited for at least two days before I finally ventured to the laundromat. It has been a long time since I was forced to put my clothes in the car and drive somewhere to get them clean. So long that I did not even realize that laundrymat had an "o" in it instead of a "y." So long that I foolishly thought that I could do my 5 baskets of laundry for 6 dollars. You can imagine my shock when I finally left the laundrOmat on Thursday and I owed Amanda $15.00 and I still had wet laundry. I felt a little scammed. Somehow I felt like they should pay me to come there, use their machines that make my machines at home look like Olympic athletes and sit by guys who accidentally spill their cleverly disguised alcohol all over the floor. But in the same breath that I say that I also must say that their is nothing more humbling than washing your clothes in public. Everyone should have to try it every couple of years. I mean all of a sudden you painfully become aware of the shape of your towels and your families underwear. And you are pretty sure everyone is whispering about the towels they know you got when you were married :) Well to make a long story short the good news is I survived the experience and the bad news is the dryer is still not working and I have to go back to the laundrOmat this week.

A teenager that has graduated from high school early is on my mind. I think she thinks I have fun while they are at school all day. I think she thinks I watch TV, eat chocolate and do whatever I want :) She really wants a job and has been applying. And she has also applied to college but we have this little bit of time here while we are waiting that she thinks we may be partying. There are some parts of life that seem to naturally follow a certain path and graduating early from high school is not what most people do so there is no plan. It feels a little like jumping from an airplane for us path/rule following Baird's.

Doing something that is hard is on my mind. When was the last time you did something that was hard for you? I had to go to a friend's house a few weeks ago and make an apology. It was very hard for me to do. It took all my courage but I did not want a misunderstanding to be the "elephant in the room" in our friendship. I also did not invite anyone to dinner tonight and that is very hard for me :)

It seems we are always trying to make things easier. Oh, you don't like that class? Well lets get you out of there. Oh, you don't like that teacher? Well lets get you out of there. Oh, you don't like who you are assigned to be with? Well let's get you out of there. I confess I had fallen into the trap of thinking I should always be trying to make things easier for my kids and myself. It took several events and then a marvelous stake conference talk by a mission president's wife to make me put it all back together and realize that if we want to grow and be better we need to face the hard things not run from them and give up. We don't teach our kids to face hard things anymore. We teach them to raise a fuss until they get the easy way. Joe is the only boy at church that is his age. When we moved into the ward on December 7th and Joe was 11 and would be 12 on January 31st someone decided that Joe should just go to the next class up with the kids a year older since he was the only boy his age. I am not sure how it all came about but before I knew it someone had talked to Brian about it and Joe was in a new class. Well suddenly this year they decided he needed to go back. Of course Joe is freaking out about this new development in his life. But Brian and I told him that rules are made for a reason and we need to follow them. He said his life is going to be ruined but I am grateful for the opportunity for him to have to do something hard. It is 45 minutes out of his week and he can decide if it is going to ruin his life or not.

So thanks for letting me ramble today. Did you know this is my 401st post? That is a lot of sharing :)

Jan 15, 2010

Scott Brown?

How do you know if someone is telling the truth? How do you know if they are telling the truth if you have never met them? Figuring out truth is hard, especially in politics. How do you know who to trust? Not only that what if the press, who reports what is happening and what politicians are saying, are not telling the truth? Is it easy to trick us? Is it easy to tell us what we want to hear? Why on earth am I blogging about truth and politics when you really would prefer reading about how rotten my kids are, or perhaps a meaningful list of what I am doing today? :)

Okay, you caught me, you see next Tuesday Massachusetts has very important election. Remember when Senator Ted died last year? Democrat Senator Ted? Well he left a senate seat behind and on Tuesday those of us who have the privilege of living in "taxachusetts" get to decide who is going to fill this spot. A Republican named Scott Brown or a Democrat named Martha Coakley. Why do I bring this up now? Five days before the election? Because I was very busy doing laundry and dishes and just tuned in... :)

Actually, it all started when I was looking through the mail the other day and there was a "postcard-y" junk mail looking thing and I decided it would make a great bookmark ( I happened to be in the middle of a book and had nothing to mark my page with, you see, I am trying to stop folding the page down since I am married to a vice president of a book binding company) so I folded the postcard in half and used it as my bookmark. A couple days later I happened to actually notice what my bookmark was so I unfolded it and read about Scott Brown and the upcoming election and it got me curious. I knew this election was coming but I sadly did not know when. I am ashamed to say that I did not even know who was running to fill the seat. Politics these days is pretty depressing stuff. Isn't it easier to just ignore it? I mean does it really affect me? There is so much information out there and so many voices how do you decide who is right? And why is my right different from yours? It takes work and time to read and educate yourself about things like ACORN, cap and trade, health care, and taxing banks, who has the time? We notice that laws are starting to frustrate us, we notice things are costing more, we notice we know more people who have lost their jobs and we notice that less of our money is making it to our bank accounts but we often don't understand how it is all happening. I mean who takes the time to read every word of the bills being passed in Washington? Not little ol' homemaking goddess me. But yesterday I took a half and hour to read articles online and I did the same today and I let me tell you I will not miss voting on Tuesday for the world. This election has a chance to change things. The Senate would have enough Republicans to break the Democrats"filibuster proof margin." The thought of the repercussions makes me giddy. Is Scott Brown perfect? No, of course not. But he will cause a kink in the plans of the Democrats who have been enjoying spending my money and making me feel afraid and worried. His win may force them to slow down and think a little bit more carefully about all the bills they are merrily passing I mean they seem to be rushing, rushing everything through seeming to be afraid that me, "homemaking goddess" might figure out what they are doing if they actually take their time. And maybe the pause will help them to remember who they represent...me, "homemaking goddess" who is voting for Scott Brown on Tuesday even if it may not matter I need to do it for my conscience.

Jan 13, 2010

Doll Clothes. Friends? And Sweaters.

If you have ever had a possession that you deeply loved and someone decided to make fun of your treasured possession or say negative things about your treasured possession raise your hand. I know it's tough. It makes you stop and re-evaluate. It rocks your world. Sometimes you continue loving the treasured item no matter what and sometimes you drop that item like a hot potato. It looks like the Baird children may be the poster children for the, "dropping the item like a hot potato plan." Let me tell you all about it.

For Christmas this year Natalie finally got an American Girl Doll. It took me a LONG time to decide to purchase it. The hardest part was knowing that due to funds I could get the doll but no extra outfits. I thought she would play with it more if it had a change of clothes. Luckily, I have a sister named Sarah who has three boys, can sew like nobody's business, and happens to love doll clothes. I knew she was the YW president. I knew she had a very important dinner at her house. I knew she was flying from Atlanta to Park City to ski but I asked her anyway if she would consider sewing Natalie some doll clothes. She did not even hesitate and said yes. So I purchased the doll. The clothes from Aunt Sarah arrived before Christmas, they were beautiful. Aunt Sarah had even gone to the American Girl Doll store in Atlanta for me and purchased 4 pairs of shoes for the doll...including pink Uggs. We were all so excited for Natalie to open the doll and the clothes. It was the highlight of Christmas for all of us since we all knew what she was getting. She of course was excited and carried the doll around for the day, changing it's clothes, tights and shoes.

The part Natalie was most excited about was showing the doll and clothes to her friend. Who also has a doll. Sometime during break Natalie and this friend got together to play. I did not listen to every word they said while they played. I just opened the door, let the friend in and never saw them again :) After the visit I noticed that Natalie put her doll back into the outfit she had originally come in and did not change her clothes anymore. I then noticed if I told her to go get the clothes so we could play with them ( yes, I know the doll is hers but I can not resist the clothes :) that she did not want too. I noticed it but did not dwell on it. A few weeks later I said something out loud about it to the other kids and Joe then declared that he had heard Natalie's friend telling her that the beautiful clothes from Aunt Sarah were dumb and ugly. And apparently that had changed everything for Natalie. I talked to Natalie sometime later and asked her if she liked the clothes from Aunt Sarah and she declared "yes," I then asked her if she thought they were pretty and she said "yes." I asked her what she would do if someone told her they were dumb and ugly and she looked at me like kids do when they realize parents really are magic and know everything :) I did not wait for her answer we just chatted a little bit more about getting hurt feelings and letting our friends decide what we like and don't like......I mean grown ups never do that :) A few days later I noticed Natalie was back to changing the doll's clothes.

I am having the same problem on a different level with 13 year old Joe. Joe hates to wear coats and when I was shopping for Christmas this year I found a really great black sweater with a half zipper and a small stand up collar. All the sisters approved it and so I purchased it. He put it on on Christmas Day which is always a good sign. He wore it a few times during break, a really good sign that I could possibly have a career as a sweater purchaser for 13 year old boys. I was pretty pleased. But then public school started back up. And Joe went off to school in his plain, possibly preppy looking black sweater. When he came home I noticed it was no longer on his body. I did not ask about it but on the paper route Joe told me that a couple of kids had made comments about his sweater. I asked him if he liked the sweater and he said yes.....and you know where I am going with this don't you?

Our whole lives our views, our likes and dislikes are always changing but I just want my kids to change them for the right reasons not simply because another 7 year old girl or three other 8th grade boys out of a whole world of people declare something is so. Am I unrealistic? :)

The picture on the left is some of the outfits from Aunt Sarah and the picture on the right is the doll in another handmade outfit....but I have been scolded for not combing the dolls hair for her debut on my blog...I regret the error and any trouble it may have caused the family :)

Jan 7, 2010

Of Doctors and Pills.

I am the worst patient ever. I avoid the doctor like the plauge. Luckily I am rarely sick so this arrangement has worked out very nicely. But every several years I feel a twinge of guilt and make an appointment. Once I make that appointment I confess I always cancel and reschedule it several times before it gets to the point that I can not face the appointment girl on the phone anymore and decide to just keep the appointment. When I finally get there I always get scolded for not coming in very much and for not doing what I was supposed to. I really hate that. They treat me like I am four years old.....despite the small fact that I may deserve it. I hate that every question he asked me my answer was no. I even felt a twinge of guilt for disappointing him. I bet everyone else loves to see the doctor and beg him to tell them what to do and then they skip home and merrily do it.......brown nosers.

Well after a recent appointment I found myself having to take daily medicine for the first time in my life. Let me tell you I am not a, "own a pill box divided into days of the week kind of girl." This has been tough. First of all it takes me days to get to the pharmacy to actually get the medicine. And then when I have to get a refill that always takes a long time too. I am horrible at swallowing pills. Everyone tries to tell me how easy it is...they say, "just put it in your mouth with a whole bunch of water and let it swim around and you will never know it went down your throat." Oh really? Are you sure that is all it takes? Because I gag on it every time? I have an announcement...ahem...."I failed pill swallowing 101." Thankfully, the pills I am now required to swallow everyday are very small and have not given me any trouble. But I have to tell you did you know that doctors can figure out if you are not taking your pills everyday? Yeah, it's called math. DRAT. I did not look so good at my doctor visit the other day. I am positive that the whole office had a little chuckle about me as I left the other day. I need to either work on my lying skills or just start doing what I am supposed too. I guess since I am 41 I better choose the later.

Jan 5, 2010

Is It Possible To Be Too Supportive? :)

If you support something you:
hold up,
you add strength,
you sustain,
you maintain,
you even uphold.

I confess, when I think of support the first thing that comes to my mind is pantyhose.....which I do not wear. But they always seem to have the word support on their packaging. I imagine it gives the person wearing them comfort, and possibly happiness to be supported. It would be so great if people came with labels they had to wear stating if they are good at supporting or not. If you really listen to people around you talk they are always using the word support:

"I need new shoes that support my feet better."

"I need a better mattress that supports me better."

"I need to support my back."

"It was not a very well supported event."

"You never support my ideas."

"I really wanted to support them but I just couldn't."

We seem to always be looking for ways to hold things in place and make them stronger, from our backs all the way up to our relationships. There is emotional support, technical support, AA support, support pillows, support groups, financial support, supporting troops, supporting the NRA..... I am actually sitting here trying to think of something that would not want our support and I haven't come up with anything yet. Things can not be very strong if they do not have support so everyone wants your support because no one wants to be weak. Including me :)

Everyone seems to have different expectations of support. In my family I grew up in you do not have to show your support by showing up to weddings or funerals. We all live far away from each other and it is more important to my parents that we do not go into debt to travel. They want us to come only if we can afford it. So I have missed all my siblings weddings except one. And I have only attended one funeral of a family member in my life. I am sure that in another family that would not go over well. But we are all pretty laid back and seem to have this amazing ability to understand that everyone is doing their best. I love how we never get mad at each other or have high expectations of each other.

How do you decide what you support and what you don't? Yeah, I hate that question too. I tend to want to support everything. Nothing breaks my heart more than to hear that no one showed up to your party...even if it was a Mary Kay party :) I really hate the feeling I get when I can not support something. When I have to make a choice that kills me. I really want to do it all. And I expect my children to support. They hate it. But I think it is important.

So why all the talk about support? Well, the bad part about blogging to everyone on the planet is that sometimes you just can't tell every thought in your mind. Which is a real bummer. Because I could greatly entertain you today. But suffice it to say that I will always, and forever support you no matter what as long as you are not my cat Kittromney and want me to support your late night racing through the house behaviors. Or if you are the seven year old in this house and want me to support your need for candy 24/7 :)

Jan 2, 2010

A Time to Dance.

I loved dances when I was a teenager. I loved deciding what to wear to the dance. I loved contemplating who I hoped might ask me to dance. I always got my hopes up that a certain someone was going to be there and sometimes my expectations were met and sometimes they were not. The opportunities for socializing at a dance was enough to make me giddy. I NEVER once contemplated missing a dance. I could not wait for my kids to turn 14 so they could go to dances. But stangely none of the Baird kids have loved dances as much I did growing up. I wonder if there is anyone on the planet who could have loved dances as much as I did ? :)

Everywhere we have lived throughout the years there have been church dances at least every other month. I could always count on that. Even before my kids were old enough to attend dances I often drove car loads of kids to them and then stayed to chaperon. If you ever want to go to a dance and can't get a ride I am definitely your woman. When we moved to Massachusetts we were faced with the strangest thing...no dances in our area. Honestly I think there have been two dances in our area since we moved here. The chances for socialization and dancing with an under an hour drive are very small around here. Oh, I have driven kids to Hartford, Connecticut to dance. I have driven kids to New Hampshire to dance. And I think I even drove kids to New Haven, Connecticut to dance. But no dancing in Springfield, Massachusetts or Ludlow, Massachusetts. Well my kids have missed the opportunity to build friendships with kids who live around here.

So now that you have all the background on the frequency of dances occurring in Western Massachusetts it surely won't surprise you to know that Miriam planned a dance for our area for New Years Eve this year as a project. If you have ever seen the movie Footloose parts of our planning seemed to go just like that movie....(no not the part where Kevin Bacon and "what's her guts" are doing some serious kissing :) There was a lot of very well meaning opposition to her plans. She faltered a few times in her desire and felt as if she could not go on but I am so happy that she kept at it. And on New years Eve we had a really amazing party. We had prepared ourselves mentally for it not being well attended and when it snowed a few inches that morning it just seemed to seal our fate. But by 9:00 pm that evening we counted 50 people either dancing or hanging out in the game room we provided.....and if you are in Western Massachusetts on New Years Eve that is not too shabby.

I won't go into all the details of this particular dance but I do want to chat about dancing. You would probably think with all my proclaimed love of dances that I am a good dancer and love to dance.......ummm no. I was always very into the, "gazing into a cute boys eyes slow dancing thing" but not so much the "look like a fool fast dancing thing." I am social but very self conscious...figure that out :) I have always cared what I might look like out there on the dance floor. There are always those people, you know them, sitting in chairs around the perimeter of the dance floor chatting and laughing and you are SO sure they are chatting and laughing about your particular dance moves. Those nameless people really ruined any chance I had of letting loose on the dance floor. I always admired people who could dance with wild abandon. It looked so fun.

Well I have no idea what happened but when I was 41 years old and it was the last 4 hours of 2009 I decided it was finally time to dance. I had the best time ever. Did I dance with my husband...no, he would rather die first. Back when I was a kid I never could have just danced and danced without a partner. So even though it is still strange to me I am very grateful that the times have changed and anyone can just go out on the dance floor and dance...with a partner or without. Oh, I was not by myself I, thankfully, had plenty of willing friends. When the evening was all done and I was driving home with the teenagers in my car I had the sudden realization that I must have embarrassed the crud out of them and everyone at the dance and I told them I was sorry. And strangely they were not embarrassed of me. One of the weird benefits of being under 5 feet tall is that people think everything you do is cute. It is VERY bizarre. Sometimes I like this benefit and sometimes I can not deny I wish the word cute had never been invented. But it saved me from embarrassing my kids so I will take it. I am not sure about my friends though :)

It has been almost 48 hours since the New years Eve dance and can I just tell you how my body is protesting the three, almost solid, hours of dancing I did. But in the same breath can I tell you how awesome it felt to just do what I wanted to do without worrying what anyone thought about me. My kids even declared I was a good dancer...very bizarre...and don't you dare tell anyone I told you that. I mean if you see the way kids dance these days that really may not be a compliment at all :) So, don't worry, I am not signing up for any dancing reality TV show but I must say as I grow older and try new things that I have always been afraid to try I have been nothing but pleasantly surprised at the out come.