Mar 31, 2010

Rambling About Jane.

Jane Austen never ceases to make me think about oh so many things. I wish I could remember when I read my first Jane Austen book. I think it was in college. I know it was before I was married because the name inscribed in the front of my copy of Pride and Prejudice is Jennifer Ord. Thus proving that I knew all about marrying for money before I got married and still made the choice I did :)

I will never forget my first book discussion about a Jane Austen book it was in Lawrence, Kansas, in the 1990's, sitting in the Relief Society room in our church building. We sat in a circle. Julie Savage led the discussion. We discussed Emma, I spent the whole discussion defending Emma, and had my little world rocked by women who utterly disapproved of Emma and expected a whole lot more of her. I know Emma is frustrating in the beginning of the book but who is not frustrating in the beginning? It takes time, and experience to become a non frustrating person that always lives up to expectations.....(P.S. I have not yet arrived at this point. If you read a book written about me I can guarantee your discussion after finishing the book would definitely include your anger and frustration with me but I would hope someone would defend me :) Nevertheless by the end of the book Emma has learned heaps about herself and you must be happy for that.

Anyhow, my blog today is not strictly about the book Emma but about all sorts of random things I think about when I read a Jane Austen book, watch a Jane Austen movie and escape into the Jane Austen world.

A world where when you want to go for a walk you ask someone if they would, "Do you the honor of taking the air with you." A world where people who are mean are declared to be contemptible. A world where if someone asks how you are you answer, "I am well, thank you." A world where people like me who lack confidence in their own ability, worth, or fitness are described as diffident.

Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice...the titles alone could give one plenty to talk about. What is sense? What is sensibility?

I want to tell you how I long for the simpleness of life back then. But I fear you would jolt me back to reality by reminding me that life was not simple then, and that it would only be a simple life for me if I was rich, and that I need to stop thinking the grass is greener in another century :)

Mar 30, 2010

Are You The Favorite?

All the Baird children not at BYU or on a mission in Estonia, namely,Miriam, Amanda, Tatiana, Natalie and Joe, think that my favorite child is Joe. I am very curious about this. What determines a favorite? What makes other people think something is your favorite? I mean if one has a favorite child they at least know better than to wander about declaring whenever they can that "so and so is my favorite." So I am interested in why the other kids have decided that this is the case. Because I am totally, 100% sure they don't know.

A favorite is defined as,"something liked or preferred above all others...especially by a superior."

Joe chases his sisters with his air-soft guns....this is not my favorite.
Joe considers his laundry basket to be his closet.....this is not my favorite.
Joe can lose his temper very quickly...this is not my favorite.
Joe has a ton of allergies which means that feeding him proves to be a very difficult task......not my favorite.
Joe tells me a lot of things.....definitely my favorite.
Joe wears the same two shirts all the time.....not my favorite.
Joe will play Playmobil for hours with the little girls......definitely my favorite.
Joe knows when to save his money and when is the moment to spend it.......definitely my favorite.
Joe loves to go to church activities and never fusses about attending them.....definitely my favorite.

I could write a similar list for all 7 children in this house. I like some things about each of them and strongly dislike some other things about them. I honestly can say that I do not have a favorite Baird child.

But I have been asking around and I have discovered that everyone I ask who has more than two children in their family declare that their parents definitely had/have a favorite. And believe me these people know without a doubt who the favorite was.

It is hard enough for me to pick my favorite ice cream let alone my favorite child. But it does bother me that they think there is a favorite. I wonder what I do that makes them think Joe is the favorite? Definitely love this parenting gig :)

Mar 29, 2010

Please Respond.

Do you ever get invited anywhere? Is there ever the letters RSVP written on the bottom of the invite? What do you do? Do you ignore it? Have you ever had a party at your house, had a tight budget for the party, and really needed to know what your number of guests was going to be, so you have put those 4 capital letters on the bottom of your invite? Have you ever been guilty of putting the word please, not just once, but a few times in front of the letters RSVP? Have you ever just come out and straight up begged for the replies? Have you talked amongst your friends and acquaintances about your deep feelings about RSVP ing and found that they all feel the same way you do? Have you wondered, and wondered, and wondered, why RSVP ing does not happen even though everyone seems to agree that it is rude not to? Yeah, me too. Well after years of wondering about why people do not RSVP. After years of murmuring about people that do not RSVP I finally found out what is happening and I can not wait to tell you....

But first a word from our sponsers...JK.

Anyway, my friend Kristy, who has been subject to listening to my RSVP rant, oh so many times, recently sent me an article from the NY Times all about RSVP ing and there in black and white was, finally, a pretty darn good reason as to why no one except me RSVP's anymore :)

Mr. Rand Richards Cooper became my new best friend when he explained to me that people do not anchor plans in the distant future anymore because they can't....they prefer to remain "flexy." He declared that we are constantly "micro-adjusting our schedules as they unfold around us." When you ask someone to RSVP you are asking them to do something that a large amount of American's can not do anymore...commit to the future. I love how he describes us as " the air traffic controllers of our lives." That gave me a great visual in my head. I pictured my friends sitting in a air traffic control tower, at a big desk, with 9 gazillion buttons and screens in front of them, putting plans on hold, moving things around, letting some plans land, making others circle the airport until they are almost out of gas and then committing or declining them and even....gasp...letting some plans just crash by never replying. It made perfect sense.

I still don't understand it though. I mean RSVP ing is a very easy thing to do. It hardly requires anything of us. Why don't we want to commit? Why do we want to keep our schedules flexible and open? If I ever got invitations I would RSVP right away. Usually I am the person inviting so I rarely get to prove what an amazing "RSVP kind of girl" I am.

Mr. Cooper who wrote this article ended by musing that maybe we should change it from "Répondez s'il vous plaît" to "Responder Vite---on Mourez"...which means Respond Quickly or Die!!! I confess I really like that idea.

Mar 25, 2010

Experimenting......With A Microclimate.

I recently discovered that I am the kind of girl that owns cold frames. How do you know if you are that kind of girl? Well if you live in Zone 5 ,which means your last frost date is in late April, if you have an overwhelming need to plant your garden in March, if you are impatient, if you happen to have some good friends who happen to have old windows and they happen love to share with you, if you have brown eyes, and if you adore fresh lettuce all year round then, congratulations, you are a cold frame kind of girl(or boy). A lot of things had to all come together for me to figure out that this was the kind of girl I was :) But we can discuss fate another time :)

What is a cold frame? It is nothing more than 4 walls to trap heat and shelter plants with a transparent lid that admits light. It does not need a bottom. I just set mine in the dirt and then shoveled some dirt around the sides just to make sure none of that evil, cold Massachusetts air could get in and kill my plants. I am guessing if you live in Arizona you do not need a cold frame but you can still keep reading...just for fun.

SO, just in case you have a suspicion that you are a cold frame kind of girl (or boy). I will tell you two things I learned in my researching about cold frames.

#1. Cold Frames like to face don't get cocky, and think this is easy, it really is not as easy as it sounds. I have asked numerous people which side of my house they think faces south and I have received way too many answers...all different answers. (How many of Jennifer's friends does it take to figure out which way is South? :) I finally just decided all by myself after watching the sun come up and set which side I thought was south and I feel great about my decision :) Nothing is easy with me.....but it is fun :)

#2. The key to using a cold frame successfully is paying attention to temperature. The temperature inside the cold frame should stay below 75 degrees for summer plants and below 60 for spring and fall plants. You keep the temperature in the box cool by lifting the lid. When it is above 40 degrees outside you should open your lid 6 inches. When your temperatures are above 50 degrees outside you should remove your lid. But make sure you put the lid back on in the late afternoon to trap the heat inside for a cool night. Are you bored yet?

My first step was procuring the windows from my dear friends this was marvelously easy...they simply brought them to me. You should check in your yellow pages and see if you have the kind of friends in your area that deliver old windows to your house :)

The next step was "googling"...luckily I have some mad "googling" skills so this part was easy :) I googled cold frames and I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy the concept of a cold frame was. You can make your cold frame as fancy or as plain as you want. So, yes, you do need to know yourself before you make your cold frame:) You can use old windows, old sliding glass doors, or even just some clear plastic for your top. Your sides can be hay bales, cement blocks, or wood. It only needs to be a foot or two high. If you want to be fancy you need hinges to attach the old window to the wood otherwise just lay your windows on top of whatever sides you chose. It is ideal if the back of the cold frame is higher than the front of the cold frame so the rain and snow can slide right off. Oh, and it is handy if you have a husband around who loves to do whatever you tell him. Mine loves these kinds of projects since it presents a perfect situation for him to justify swearing at inantimate objects that most definitely deserve it :)

I really wanted to build the cold frames myself. But the aforementioned husband really does not like me within two miles of his tools so I decided to oblige him this time. Besides I wanted him to use the money in his bank account to procure the supplies thus insuring that I did not have to use the money in my account :)

I confess I am a little afraid of my four new cold frames because I have never tried this before. I have a very few facts and the rest will just be trial and error. Trial and error are not as fun for me as instant perfection but I can handle failure, right?

I had 26 little peat pots sitting in the garage so I filled them with dirt and Natalie and I planted some scallion seeds yesterday. We put the little pots in the cold frame and they spent their first night out there last night. I did not check on them in the night. I did not read them a bedtime story. I did not let them sleep in my bed. So I think we are off to a great start.

I am going to get some paper cups today and another bad of potting soil and start my peas, lettuce, tomatoes spinach, and flowers. You can extend your growing season by quite a bit by using cold frames. So don't be jealous when I am eating lettuce from my New England garden in November :)

Mar 23, 2010

Who Goes There? Friend or Foe?

What is a friend? When does a relationship change from acquaintance to friend? Who are some of your best friends and why? My son on a mission recently wrote me a letter and asked me these questions. It was perfect timing because I had been thinking about friends a lot lately.

My very first friend that I can remember was Katie Melder. We lived in a little logging town in northwest Washington state called Sedro Woolley. Katie lived down the street from me. I want to say we were 6 years old. We traded clothes and shoes, we dared each other to eat cat food, we picked her neighbors flowers, we talked about how California was right next to the equator, we tried to figure out how to walk each other home and make it so one of us would not end up having to walk home alone, we threw things out of her upstairs bathroom window and got put in time out together. I was jealous of her red, shiny bike with the beautiful basket on the front and she loved my roller skates. I lost touch with Katie when we moved to California. I ran into her once at BYU in the late 80's but I have no idea where she is now.

Then there was Heather Fisher. We lived in Del Mar, California at the time and Heather and I were probably 9 years old. Heather had older brothers and sisters and thus was able to tell me all about kissing boys and dating. She had an amazing swimming pool that we were always swimming in. She and I would dress up in her sisters clothes all the time, add food coloring to our water to make it appear that we were drinking something we weren't, and play"grown up." We were obsessed with the 1972 film Poseidon Adventure and watched it at least once a week. When my family moved back to Washington State I lost contact with Heather until I ran into her in the late 80's in a grocery store in Provo Utah. But we did not stay in touch and I have not been able to find her since.

Why Heather and Katie? I don't know why. What made them my friends? Would we still be friends now that we are grownups? Best friends still?

What does it mean to be a friend? Unfortunately for people like me who adore nice neat definitions friendship can not oblige us, friendship is a very broad and ambiguous relationship, the boundaries of it are always shifting....drat. Being a friend means something different to everyone. The dictionary says a friend is someone you know, like and trust. There are a gazillion different kinds of friends....good friends, best friends, casual friends, work friends and the list goes on and on. You know how when someone tells you they are friends with Brad Pitt and you immediately ask...what kind of friend? There is a lot to be said about what word you put in the front of the word friend. It all seems to depend on the amount of time you spend with someone as to what kind of friendship you can declare you have. And of course your friendships contribute to your, "psychological development, health, and well being from early childhood all the way through adulthood"...sigh..what in life doesn't contribute to who you are?

Friendships always seemed pretty easy to me when I was growing up. I miss those days. It does not make sense to me that having something as simple as a friendship would get more complicated as I get older but it has. I know more, shouldn't that make it easier? Alas, it doesn't. The more friend experiences I have the more walls I build. I hate that I have come to the point that the three "bad friend" experiences I have had in my life have made me long to be a shy person..... shouldn't it be the other way around? Don't people long to be outgoing? My "outgoing-ness" is for sale if you want it :)

Who are my best friends? They are the first people I think to call when something happens. They are good listeners and are very good at the unconditional thing. Trust me the more you get to know me the more you have to unconditionally love me. My best friends reach out to me. I am a, "110% reach out to you kind of girl" and I make it pretty easy for you to never have to reach out to me if we are friends. So I would say my very best friends are the eight women in this world who after all these years still reach out to me. The only women who ask me questions about me. It is very comforting to me to have these ladies in my life and know that no matter how long it has been since we last talked we can start where we left off. They have every reason in the world to judge me since they know a lot about me but I have never felt their judgement once. I have disappointed them but they are still my friends. They persist when I occasionally do not answer the phone. And joy of joys they believe I am inherently good and they have never misunderstood my intentions.

Are you a good friend? How do you know?

Mar 11, 2010

It's A Miracle..... Some Pictures.

(I guess you have noticed that I rarely post pictures. With the adorable dial up computer situation I have it really is just a huge hassle. Not only that I can never figure out how to move the pictures where I want them and where to put my words. I am painfully aware it is not very attractive but every once in awhile I will get an urge to just post pictures. So here are a few.)

Is there anything better than sledding? We did not get that much snow this winter but after one of the small snow storms we were ready and ran up to our friends house and got in our fill of sledding on their driveway. Tatiana prefers the sitting up sled but I prefer the sleds where you can go down on your stomach.
This is Joe and cousin Jeremiah at Thanksgiving time in Michigan. They were getting ready to go shoot guns with Uncle David.
This is Joe and his friends at his 14th birthday party. What more can I say?
Every time I take my walk I wish you were there so you could see the amazing views I get to see. This mountain is one of my favorites so I took a picture so you could see it. Now just close your eyes and imagine the crisp cold air on your face, imagine all the different shades of brown, hear me asking you nine million questions, imagine me in my favorite white stocking hat with BYU written on it and you are as good as there :)
Here is Tatiana at the river. We actually live exactly across the street from a river but there is no easy way to get down to that river so there is another river about a 20 minute walk from our house and I walk there everyday but on Sunday Brian, the kids and I walked down there and experienced the joy one can only feel from throwing rocks in the water.

Mar 10, 2010

Today It's Funny But Yesterday It Was Not So Funny.

We finally painted the teenagers bedroom. I know you have enjoyed our dysfunctional paint drama but it is finally over and the important thing is that we learned some stuff. But I will save the learning part for later first I have to tell you my tale.

On Monday of this week the husband took half of a day off of work to come home and paint. We needed to get it done because the room has been taped and torn apart for two weeks while Miriam was in Hawaii and she was coming home on Tuesday and probably would appreciate her bed not being piled high with her possessions. The hubby came home from work early to paint. I ran to Home Depot and had them add some things to our original, deeply hated, gallon of paint color to create a new, very loved paint color.... Russian Blue. By Monday at 5 in the evening the room was done.

The next day was Tuesday and I had a lot of things on my calendar on Tuesday so as soon as I got home from driving kids to Seminary I ran upstairs to start moving furniture back, taking off tape, and all that fun stuff. As I started screwing socket covers back on I noticed that there was some spots of white showing through the blue. I started looking all over the room and realized the room needed more paint and some detail work that only OCD wives would know about. I knew I needed to hurry because it would need time to dry before I could move the furniture back and Miriam was going to be home at 9 that night. So while I was giving instructions to the little girls about getting ready for school I ran to the garage and grabbed the paint and brushes and headed upstairs. And I freely admit that I was in actuality.... multi tasking. I was painting and leaving to go brush hair, painting, finding homework, painting, making lunches. I did not really stop to think but I did have this odd feeling that something was not right. But I kept thinking that when the paint would dry it would be okay. And then all of a sudden it hit me I had just "touch up" painted over the Russian Blue with the Spanish Bluebells...the color blue that it is in the bathroom. Let me rephrase that so you get the full impact. In my haste I had rushed to the garage and grabbed the blue paint that I had used for my upstairs bathroom. I had "touch up" painted ALL OVER their enormous bedroom, on every wall, large amounts of the wrong blue. How did I do this? I really don't know. But trust me it was not good. I knew my hubby would never let me live it down so I had to act fast. So I canceled everything on the calendar and spent two hours fixing my problem.

All is well that ends well. The room is done, I love it, and as of this morning the girls love it also. Then I found the biggest sharpie I could find and in a paranoid manner wrote bedroom all over the can of Russian Blue paint and then wrote bathroom all over the can of Spanish Bluebells paint. But trust me the paint incident will never be repeated. That is the joy of making mistakes like that they shape your life, add to your dysfunctional personality and make you randomly tell people in the store all about how they should make sure it never happens to them.

Mar 2, 2010

Find Your Decorating Style.

The last couple of years my husband has purchased a subscription to Real Simple magazine for me. I really love getting something in the mailbox. And I can' t wait to read it when it comes. This month when I saw on the front cover the words "Find your decorating style in 3 Easy steps" I could not turn to page 159 fast enough. I always wondered what I should call my decorating style. I could hardly wait to go through the easy steps and figure it out. On page 159 the page was filled with pictures of various images chairs, vases, baskets, flowers, a dog, clocks, etc. and you are supposed to look at these items and quickly circle the ones that catch your eye first, no thinking allowed, just that good ol, "going with your gut" feeling. After you circle 6-10 of them you then look at the small letter next to the ones you circled and see how many A's you circled, or how many B's you circled, and so forth. Then you turn the page and voila you magically know what your style is. I circled mostly C's which meant....drum roll please...that I used to be Jennifer but now you may refer to me as Mrs. Cozy Casual. I was so happy when I realized that Real Simple magazine truly knew me. I would have been so sad if the very accurate quiz would have told me my style was Modern Graphic.

Cozy Casual means you like a warm, traditional look. It draws on English and Early American furniture designs as well as laid back country, cottage, farmhouse styles. Which means I now have very good reason to shop in Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. While I was basking in my joy of being labeled cozy casual I suddenly realized I had a problem...what was my husbands style? Not that it matters. But all of a sudden I remembered the times in our 21 years of marriage when we have shopped for houses, furniture and paint and they have not been the funnest, most relaxing moments of my life. So when he got home from work I made him take the foolproof test in my Real Simple magazine and when the result appeared it all became clear....I mean ALL of it. He was vintage eclectic with a dash of modern graphic. GEESH

So with this information I have to tell you that on Saturday Mr. Vintage Eclectic and Mrs. Cozy Casual went to Home Depot to get some paint. And we spent at least 45 minutes in the paint sample section choosing colors that were the exact opposite of each other. All we are doing is painting the teenage girls bedroom upstairs but oh the agony. We finally settled on a color. I suggested we just purchase a sample since there are teenagers in this room. But he declined that idea and, "went for it" and bought a gallon and a quart of the color. I did not feel the happy peaceful feeling that you feel when you buy paint which was probably my first sign that things were headed downhill....yes, faster than Bode and Lindsay. When one of the teenagers ( her name has not yet been released since all her family has not been yet contacted :) saw the chosen color she lost it. COMPLETELY. Sobbing about how it would not match anything in that room. Crying. Sobbing. Drama. She wanted white. It was painful to watch. And lasted a long time.

So here it is Tuesday. Three days after the Saturday paint drama and I had finally decided to donate the gallon and quart of color to some unsuspecting family, paint the room white, and be done with it and then the, aforementioned, sobbing teenager finds out about my new plan and announces...sheepishly..... that she now likes the color we chose on Saturday and definitely does not want white.

The thing is I have never let my kids have any control over how their bedrooms look up until now....March of 2010. There have been too many of them. They have all shared rooms. ( yes, the rumor is true, at one point I had 4 girls in one room) It was just too complicated to try to please all the residents of one room so I always kept the control and power with me. As children have been leaving the house and leaving empty rooms I realized that my former, "decorating the bedroom" control could be relinquished. I even thought it would be fun......but I was wrong. It isn't.

Mar 1, 2010

Crafting Queen..Feel The Beat From The Tambourine? :)

Have you ever noticed that I never post any craft projects on my blog? Do you long for them? Do you wish I would stop secretly creating amazing projects for Martha Stewart and Pottery Barn and start sharing them with you? Yeah, dream on :) I am a craft queen wannabe. I realized this fact years after I had spent way too much money, on many attempts, with oh so many mediums.

I am blogging today to tell you that I am little worried. I have been noticing lately that I have been making detours in the store to walk by the rick rack, ribbon, trim, patterns and fabric. I have been thinking about the possibility of making something. This my friends is not good. Remember, I am not a craft girl in any way, shape or form. I WANT to be a craft girl. (thus, the title "wannabe.") I love the way all the craft stuff looks, the fabric, the paper, the rick rack, all of it, oh so lovely. I always thought if you really wanted to do something and you put your mind to it you could do it. But I am here to tell you that it is very possible that this statement is not true. I desperately want to craft. I have always wanted to craft. I can close my eyes and imagine myself crafting. But my brain won't let me. My brain wants to be in the box with the rules agonizing over what the words in the instructions mean not outside the box, wearing tye dye, creating.

I tried for years to be a craft girl. I grew up with a mom that could sew and quilt. She was always making us clothes, life size dolls, bedspreads and such. I loved the fabric. I loved organizing the pins. I loved every part of it. I even took sewing classes when I was a kid. The first and only thing I ever stole when I was six was a green zipper from a fabric store..wouldn't at least that fact alone verify that I would have a future as a craft queen? I mean do future athletes or musicians steal green zippers? :)

After I got married I quickly figured out that if you wanted to hang with the girls you had to craft. I have boxes in the basement with rubber stamps, stamp pads, stencils, books, paint, modge podge, (SP?) fabric, ribbon, batting, cross stitch floss, patterns and oh so much more from this phase of my life. I should definitely get credit for trying. Everything interested me. And I refused to admit that none of it came naturally to me. I spent years torturing myself and my friends with crafting attempts because everyone else was doing it. I adored the social part but the creating was agonizing. What if it did not come out perfect? What if part of the directions were missing? Do you know I have made Halloween costumes, curtains, quilts and clothes and I still have to check every time to remind myself what in the heck the selvage is. And to make things worse you know how when someone makes something and everyone else ooohs and ahhhs over it exclaiming loudly how amazing it is what that person made? Yeah, that never happens to me. No one ever exclaims over my craft attempts. ( This is where you tell me you love me anyway :)

To make a long story short the last time I made something was about 4 years ago when I made curtains. I gave up. I did love the feeling you get when you make something all by yourself. Did I mention that I have been thinking about that feeling lately? I organized all my fabric (that I never use) by color hoping that that would kill the feeling but it didn't.

If I could just magically be a craft girl right now at this very minute the first thing I would make is a jean quilt, then some fabric covered bulletin boards for the girls rooms, then some skirts and dresses for the little girls, then a punching bag for Joe, and a remote holder for the husband.....okay I am kidding about those last two :)