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 :)