Aug 29, 2011

Have You Ever Noticed?? :)

One thing about what I have been through this summer is that it has made me very aware of when something makes me smile. And when I notice that something made me smile I have been making a note of it in my head. I have never done this before. Usually everything makes me smile but this summer I have learned a lot about not feeling like smiling and it has actually been good and has made me notice the little things so much more.

On our paper route we drive by a house that almost everyday I notice that the husband and wife are sitting in chairs just inside their garage. Just sitting there observing the world. Maybe they are chatting or maybe they just sit there in silence. Regardless, it always makes me smile and today I even heard a chuckle escape from my throat as I saw they were both wearing khaki pants and a white polo.

Last night I decided to watch Mama Mia. I forgot how delightful that movie is. There are several parts that make me grin from ear to ear. Yes, I do always sob when Meryl Streep sings The Winner Takes It All with such passion to Pierce Bronson. But the rest of the movie, the music, and the little asides, truly make me smile.

The other day I was riding in the car with Madeline on the way home from book club and she and I happened to notice a guy in a truck that was practically in the trunk of my car and as he passed by us in a huff we ended up having to stop at a stoplight next to him and as we stopped we looked over at the guy driving the truck and he looked over at us at the same time and we realized he was not too bad on the eyes and he realized Madeline was not to shabby either and Madeline and I bust up laughing as we all had this realization. It felt good to burst out in laughter.

I have taken to sitting on our front porch and thinking and as I was sitting there the other day I watched a little chipmunk come up out of a little hole and rest his little paws on the edge and just gaze at me like he wanted to have a conversation. It made me smile as I wondered if a chipmunk looking like he cared could count as a tender mercy? :)

When we mowed the lawn the other day Tatiana and Natalie spent forever out in the yard playing and when they came in Tatiana was telling me that they had been gathering the mowed grass and playing with it. I told her how I loved doing that when I was a kid. It seemed to give her courage when I said that and then she decided to come clean and told me that they had been picking things in the yard and making "salads." I smiled. And I told her how I totally remember making salads out of things I picked in the yard when I was a kid. It made me feel like going to play salad with them.....oh and then we could turn the bikes upside down and turn the pedals and make ice cream with ingredients from the yard too :)

Kid History makes me smile. When the college kids in my house come home from college they spend oh so many days treating us to discoveries they have made on Youtube while getting their education. The latest discovery is Kid history. And they brought that home in December. You must quickly go to Youtube and search for kid history and be prepared to laugh and laugh and laugh out loud. It feels so good. My kids love them and have introduced all their friends to them. I even exposed my parents to them and I think they liked them. You know that anxious feeling you have when you introduce someone to something you really like and you want them to like it too? And you wonder will they? I have yet to find anyone who does not laugh out loud at Kid history.

There is this word that Natalie made up and uses all the time that makes me smile. Whenever she wants to say the word without she instead says "forout" So she will say "I want my sandwich "forout" mustard." "Or I want to go to the store forout Tatiana." As often is with made up words we all use "forout" now and it really makes me smile.

It has been interesting to feel like I have been "forout" a smile for so long that I am actually noticing when I am smiling. I am amazingly grateful for the perspective :)

Aug 25, 2011

Do You Have It?

"I have confidence in sunshine. I have confidence in rain. I have confidence that spring will come again besides what you see I have confidence in me."

Can you see Julie Andrews, a suitcase in each hand, dancing down that oh so beautiful road somewhere in Austria, on her way to her nanny job for the seven Von Trapp children, singing her guts out about whether she has confidence or not? I deeply adore this song I am actually listening to it at this very minute and blogging at the same time :) Do not try this at requires a huge amount of concentration :) Lately, having confidence has been on my mind way too much. I wish you could get confidence just by thinking about it. If that was the case I would currently have a ton of it and would be selling the excess to you for a tidy profit :)

If you have confidence you believe in yourself and not just yourself but your powers and your abilities. Did you know the opposite of confidence is mistrust? People who possess confidence have determination, assurance, resolution and certainty. The part that fascinates me the most is that if you have confidence you are not afraid to be who you are. Is Jennifer afraid to be who she is? I have been pondering this.

I know I was not afraid to be who I was when I was little. I mean you just have to look at my class pictures from those early years and how could you ever doubt my confidence? :) In one grade I am wearing a red ribbon tied oh so carefully around my neck...definitely had confidence then. What about the year I wore the pink dress with my blue running shoes? Yep, that screams confidence. Oh wait, we can not forget the year I wore the white and red knitted poncho...yeah, I could have written the book on confidence that year. Clearly I was who I was, none of that hiding who I truly was stuff for me. Now in case you think I think confidence means you wear out of the ordinary things in elementary school, actually, there are more reasons why I think I used to have confidence.....

I am sure it took confidence to hit a boy in the neighborhood with a big stick when he proposed playing doctor.....I did not care one bit what he thought of me and was not scared to stand for what I believed in...yes, I know I hit :)
It took confidence to try out for solos in choir in middle school
It took confidence to try out for student office over and over and over again.
I wonder if it was confidence I had when I told my sixth grade teacher how to organize the talent show never considering that I should not share my fabulous ideas :)
...editor of my sixth grade newspaper, running track, playing the piano, singing......I must have had a little bit of confidence to try all those things

Never once did the thought cross my mind that people would not like me....yes, it crosses my mind daily now...ugh :) I wonder where that confidence went? Knowing my luck it probably is in Greece and I will have to get a passport and lots of money to go find it :)

I am determined to locate my self confidence. According to what I have read that means that I have to first figure out where I am right now...where I want to go...get the right mindset for my journey... and apparently commit(yeah, we love that "C" word).

A confident person does not behave based on what other people think.
A confident person does not stay in their comfort zone afraid of failure and afraid of taking a risk
A confident person does not work hard to cover up mistakes and hope they can fix their problem before anyone notices.

I am forcing myself to have lots of quiet, alone time with myself so I can figure out confidence. Usually I fill the enormous void in my life with party after party and person after person. I seem to have a different perspective these days it is a little unlike me but I am pleasantly surprised at how empowering it is turning out to be. I have always admired people who could give themselves what they need and not need from other people. I want to have that quiet confidence.

To start my journey I made a list of things that would be outside my comfort zone and I am going to accomplish them all. I will not bore you with the entire list but the biggest one on the list is running a Ragnar Relay next spring. I think the running will really help my confidence. Since Seminary is starting soon my running time will be 4:30 or 5:00 in the evening everyday. My first goal is to be able to make it to Stanley Park and back and then I will add to that. This was a goal awhile ago but life just was to heavy for awhile there for me to accomplish anything but now I am back and very excited and determined to face this one.

So we can all start looking forward to the day that I can dance, and sing about my confidence, while swinging my suitcases down a lane in Austria just like Julie Andrews.

Aug 23, 2011


I am sitting here in my cozy LL Bean flannel jammies letting my mind wander around the word connect as I stare at the chocolate brown walls in my room. I am not quite sure what started me thinking about this word tonight. Maybe I felt a longing to connect, recognized it, and started really wondering what would make someone have that longing. Maybe I was thinking about how amazing it feels to truly connect with someone. Maybe I was thinking about doing a dot to dot :) Maybe I was thinking about the game Connect Four. Maybe I was thinking about the joy that comes when you can not figure out how to put something together and then you figure out if you connect this to that and then..... voila you did it. Whatever it was, I am deep in thought about connecting, and have lots of longing to connect with you on the subject :) Most of the thoughts are meandering ones so do not get your panties in a bunch as I brainstorm out loud. Putting the words down is oh so helpful for me but possibly confusing to you :)

As I was contemplating how I could put into words all that is in my head and heart about connecting I went to and checked out the word connect....there were all the usual connect type words there hanging out... join, link, bind, fasten together, unite, associate.....but then something caught my eye...the word bridge. You all know I have been fascinated with bridges lately. I have been trying for over a year to find a spot of time to read The Great Bridge by David McCullough. A book all about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. I devoured it on all my plane trips this summer and I am finally half way through it. I long to finish it. The book is so fascinating. From the minute I read this quote in the front of it, I began my fascination with bridges;

"It happens that the work which is most likely to be our most durable monument, and to convey some knowledge of us to the most remote posterity, is a work of bare utility, not a shrine, not a fortress, not a palace, but a bridge."

Montgomery Schulyer made that quote in Harpers Weekly in 1885. And I have thought a lot about it and read it over and over. So when I connect with someone I make a bridge and my most durable monument long after I am gone will be those connections I have made with people? Some of the bridges I have attempted to make have not stood the test of time and misunderstandings have caused them to fall....they apparently were not built on firm foundations. Washington Roebling went to so much work to make sure the Brooklyn Bridge was built on a extremely firm foundation. The amount of work and research he did to make sure the caissons were sitting on firm solid ground in the river was truly amazing. Some of the bridges I have made in my life have been built on that sort of foundation and have been unconditional and solid and brought me so much joy and wonder.

So, there I was last Saturday standing on the deck of the Staten Island Ferry at 5:00 in the evening taking pictures of all the amazing bridges I could see all around me, in every direction, all of them connecting things. Each bridge was different. I wanted to know about them all. Who built them, and how, and why, and when. When the Brooklyn Bridge was built some people were afraid of what the connecting of New York City to Brooklyn would do and some were excited about the prospects. People are like that too. Some of us are afraid of making connections....we may get hurt, it may be a connection that requires some work, or maybe it is a connection that will require a sacrifice. I confess I never think about the scary parts of connecting I just plow ahead needing and wanting a connection.....sigh...maybe someday I will learn to stop being so naive and learn to weigh the enormous risks of connecting.

We all long to connect, right? I work oh so hard at it. I really am interested in people. I keep in touch with people from every place I have ever lived. It is very important to me. I love that I can reach out to friends from years ago and pick up right where we left off. Sometimes I fight with all my might the incredibly overwhelming need I have to connect. I have been known to secretly curse this part of me and try with all my might to suppress it. It is oh so often misunderstood to be neediness or sometimes people do not think it is possible for someone to want to connect as much as I do and they decide I am not genuine.

When you meet someone for the first time you immediately start searching in your conversation for ways to connect....Where have you lived? Where are you from? What is your favorite color? Searching for a common ground....a connection.... and, oh the joy, when you discover a connection..... you like avocado, and apricots, and asparagus? SO DO I !

Aug 21, 2011

Some Shoes Just Need You.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you were shopping with your mom and while shopping you saw something that you just fell in love with? Something that you could totally imagine yourself wearing. Something you just know would complete your image? Something that will make you famous? :) JOKING. But seriously, something that connected with you? I remember this happening a few times in my life. Often the free flowing dreamy happiness that I knew would come pouring in when I got the item of my dreams depended upon if I could get my mom to see the vision too.

Once when I was in Junior high I had a solo in a choir concert and I needed a new dress for the occasion, while shopping I found this amazing, "flowy", gauzy, white dress with short puffy sleeves. It was made by the brand Gunne Sax which was my brand of choice when I was a kid. I was so positive that when I went to the Academy Awards I would be wearing a dress made by Gunne Sax :) Anyway, I do not remember the conversation my mom and I had about this dress but I do remember her actually calling my dad from the mall (back in the day of ....gasp... no cell phones.) to ask him if she could purchase it for me. I think it was around $40.00 which was pretty unheard of when I was a kid. But I am happy to report that both of my parents saw the free flowing dreamy happiness that would come to me when I got this dress and it did became mine. I wore it, and wore it, and wore it clear into high school. LOVED this dress. I do not remember caring whether I looked great in this dress or not I just cared that I felt on top of the world when I wore it.

Once I saw a pair of jeans in the JC Penney catalog that had a roller skate embroidered on the back pocket, the girl in the catalog looked so happy wearing them that I could SO see myself at the roller skating rink, skating around with ALL my friends, wearing those fabulous jeans. This was one of those times when not one of my miserable, boring, non visionary parents agreed with me and those jeans that would have made all my dreams come true were never mine.

Just a few weeks ago when I was in Oregon thrift storing merrily away with my mother in Eugene I saw some shoes sitting in a shelf that, without a doubt, knew my name. I saw myself in these shoes. It did not matter what anyone thought of them I knew they were mine. Of course you hope for some validation and reassurance when you purchase but occasionally you just purchase because you just know and that was the story with these shoes. The great part about thrift storing is that you can often just do that because usually the price is "oh so right"and definitely not an issue in the decision making process. SO for $1.50 I really had no decision, the shoes were mine. My mom had some questions about the shoes as I would have too if one of my girls had shown the same shoes to me. They are suede and had a few spots on them but I would not be dissuaded from purchasing them. I never even sat them back down. Which is not really like me.

When I got home my dad took out his shoe cleaning basket which was full of all sorts of amazing things that I had no idea even existed on this planet and we brushed the shoes and rubbed a magic stone on the shoes (JK about the stone...we did rub the shoes with a magic blob of something I just do not remember what it was called.) But I had an enormous amount of hope in it. The shoes seemed to look a little better, but again, it did not really matter, I had already seen myself wearing them...for eternity :)

I have worn the magnificent shoes about 5 times since I got home from Oregon. No one has noticed them or said anything about them but I adore how I feel when I wear them. I have never ever owned a pair of red shoes. Red is my very favorite color. I love the thick chunky feel of these shoes. I love the confidence I feel when I see the red peeking at me when I look down at my feet. Yes, my life is complete :)

Aug 17, 2011

Hiking Alone.

I can not believe that I have not yet told you about my hike last Saturday. Remember Alander Mountain? Remember me hiking it alone? Yes, all by myself :) Well it finally happened. I set out to accomplish it a few times and glitches kept happening so this time I was determined. I had spent the day before I went reading all sorts of things about this hike. Alander Mountain is not very straightforward there are several trails to the top. Some are marked well and some are not. Some are easy and some are not. I read ever so carefully every opinion I could find. That is how I do everything in my life I gather and gather and gather information and then I sort through it all and then....maybe, then I decide :) As with everything in my life I wanted to go one way but was afraid because the way was not as clear to me as I wanted it to I chose the easy well marked way.

All of my family had things going on all Saturday morning so the earliest I could leave was 1:45. I arrived at the hike at 3:00 pm. I grabbed my backpack which I had very thoughtfully and carefully filled with my awesome flashlight which could definitely substitute as a weapon :), lifesavers, some pages with information and directions, a few cliff bars, water, a jacket, my clipboard with paper, a pen, some chex mix, okay, and I will sheepishly admit that some of my seminary papers may have been in the backpack too :) I wondered as I was packing if you pack differently if you know you are hiking alone but I did not think about it too hard.

They had a spot to sign in for the hike so I signed my name and paused as I wrote the number one in the square where they asked how many were in my one a party? Well I was sure going to find out. I headed out with confidence but true to my nature I asked the first group of people I came upon all sorts of questions...... a little validation and reassurance fix :)

For the most part I was the only one on the trail. I thought about all the different people that were on the mountain all hiking to the same goal I was but all from different starting points and on different trails that they had deemed the best way to the top. My hike seemed strangely like life. We all have a common end goal (hopefully a view :), we meet different people along the way, we ask them about what they have seen or learned on their way, or we ignore them, we may just smile at them, or we may attempt to seriously connect with them, no matter how many people are around us we really are alone, we all reach the top at different times, some of us like to go off of the trail for awhile some of us don't, some of us are prepared, some of us aren't, we all notice different things as we are walking along. Yeah, the list could most definitely go on :) So much symbolism I can hardly bear it :)

I discovered things I never knew before since I usually hike with huge groups. I learned that even full water bottles make a sloshing sound when you walk. I listened to birds. I admit I said a few Snow White type words to some little brown scurrying mice but they paid me no attention and did not seem to know anything about a prince. The hike was well shaded most of the way and the trail was wide and very well marked with blue blazes and some signs. I passed a primitive campground and also a primitive cabin as I neared the top. I stopped at the cabin and read all the things people had written on it and wondered very briefly about the pair of personal effects someone had nailed on the outside.

As I headed up the last very steep part a group was coming down and they warned me about three rattle snakes up ahead sitting on the trail. Strangely it did not bother me and I never did end up seeing them. When I got to the top at 4:18 pm I felt very empowered. I admired the amazing view from every spot I could. I sat and ate some of my food. I did some writing on my trusty clipboard which has now been to the beach and the top of a mountain. I stayed on the top until 5:30 pm and then I decided it was time to head down because of the impending nightfall. Hiking alone in the dark did not appeal to me in anyway......okay, it scared me. I lingered as long as I dared and then slowly headed down.

On the way down I thought about getting to the top and expectations and how I felt. On the way down I met people who asked me questions just like I had asked questions of the people coming down earlier. We always want to know from someone who has already been don't we?

Aug 16, 2011

Learning To Drive.

Do you remember when you learned how to drive? Did you learn in a car with a standard or automatic transmission ? I learned on a standard. I was very afraid. My dad was very patient. I gave him lots of good, "stalling the car on a hill" stories :) There were loads of hills in Everett, Washington where I had to pass my drivers test and I knew it and the hill thing with the standard transmission thing did not seem to comfort my fears much. But I finally got my license. It was such a momentous occasion that my parents bought me my own huge box of miniature Reese's from Costco. And of course that is all I remember about that day :)

My oldest child, Zach, learned how to drive a standard was a painful process but he learned. I have left the "teaching the kids driving thing" up to the man of the house. None of the kids, so far, have taken any form of drivers ed. It costs so much money here in Massachusetts that we have had the kids wait until they are 18 to get their drivers licence to avoid shelling out the $600 to $800 dollars that the driving schools in the area are asking. Although sometimes I wonder if it would be worth all the trouble to just pay someone else to do it.

Anyway, Madeline learned how to drive on an automatic transmission. She has driven a standard a few times but she absolutely hates it. But the latest car we purchased has a standard transmission and she really needs to learn how to drive it and I have decided that teaching her is my responsibility. It takes all the persuasive powers I possess to get Madeline out of the house to drive with me. She has a lot to say about our purchase of a car with a standard transmission. I love standard transmission cars and I am the one who wanted it with all my heart. She grumbles the whole time she is driving it about how bad they are and how unnecessary it is to have a car like this when we could have one that does it all automatically for you.....bless her little reasoning heart :) Once she gets going she drives the standard transmission perfectly it is stopping, starting and backing up that give her trouble....:)

I have been wondering a lot about the pros and cons of each transmission as I have been listening to her moan about her miserable existence and as I have been trying to help her to see that she will be so grateful that she knows how to drive a standard transmission car when she grows up. Yeah, she is so not buying that discussion :)

So today I googled "standard versus automatic transmission" and I finally have some reasons for Madeline......that will probably make no difference but at least now I know why and can coherently argue with her on our oh so pleasant drives with each other :)

The first thing I discovered is that a standard transmission car is going to be cheaper apparently you can save $800 to a $1000 dollars if you buy the standard.

Standard transmission cars get better gas mileage

They are more fun to drive.....I already knew this but it was good to be validated by google :)

A standard transmission is more practical if your battery dies. You can get a push start if your battery dies if you have a standard and just keep on driving. If you have an automatic you have to get a jumpstart or towed.

A standard transmission is easier to repair because it has fewer parts and is mechanically simpler than the automatic.

With a standard transmission you can keep the power of the engine right where you want it. Something this little housewife in Massachusetts always wants :)

I found out that in Europe most cars are sold with a manual transmission unlike America. There is a huge list of countries that if you get your licence in a car that is an automatic you receive a drivers licence that declares that you can only drive automatic cars and because manual cars are more prevalent in other countries most people make the effort to take their test in a manual transmission car so they can get the full drivers license. Other countries go even further and you can not get a license if you do not take the test in a manual transmission car....hmmm maybe we should move to Brazil or Denmark :)

Driving a standard transmission requires a lot more concentration and that is Madeline's biggest complaint. How can a person change the radio station, eat, talk on the phone, put on Carmex, and look for something you dropped if you are driving a standard? :) I do not dare tell her I have figured out how to do all those things and way more :)

Miriam also needs to learn how to drive a standard transmission car but she actually really wants to learn so hopefully that will ensure success. I am reading up on the best way to teach someone how to drive a standard so I can do a good job explaining it to her. I have wondered if I even understand all the whens, and hows, and wheres, of driving a standard even though I have been driving one since 1985. I am curious to know if there is a wrong and right way to all the times you shift and downshift and other such things :)

So in the next few weeks the lady who does the laundry and fixes meals at the Baird house will also be teaching driving. The children will probably think I am doing it wrong and have all sorts of things to say and think that every word out of my mouth is critical but otherwise I am sure it will go along fabulously. Maybe if we practice driving to the mall or boyfriends houses it will go better ? :)

Aug 14, 2011


What do you know about realizing? When was the last time you realized something? If you realize something you understand it clearly. You discern it. You know it. You become fully aware of it.

But then what? Sometimes realizing makes you happy. Sometimes realizing makes you feel oh so melancholy. Sometimes you realize something and attempt to ignore it because it is something you prefer to not understand clearly. This is not recommended because if you realize and then ignore you usually just stay in one place and never progress..... sometimes we may be all for that not progressing thing...secretly, of course :) Once you awknowledge that you realized something then you have to choose what to do with this information. I have been doing a lot of realizing lately. It is wearing me out. Is it possible to go a couple days without realizing something? You know take a break from realizing? Does realizing understand if I tell it I am on base right now? Some of the realizing is small and some of the realizing is huge. I had felt a big realization coming on for a few days and I confess...I tried with all my might to hold it silly and unrealistic am I? I fought a good fight but the realization won the fight and it arrived this morning when I was laying in my cozy bed staring out the window.It was a weird moment when the realization washed over me. I let it come and tried to embrace it and be one with this adorable realization. It was tough because it meant I had to do some admitting. This realization has hung over me all day as I have wondered what to do with it. You do not have to wonder about what to do with the happy realizations so I guess that tells you enough :)

Colbie Caillat sings a pretty great song about realizing. If you really start thinking about it everything is about realizing. Yeah, do not think too hard about it :)

Just right now just off the top of my head with my hands tied behind my back and with my eyes closed i can give you a pretty extensive list of realizations just from and be amazed at my realizing skills :)

I realized I like waking up to rain.
I realized we are out of band aids.
I realized you should never walk into relief society late with way too many bags in your hands and tears in your throat that you thought were all happily supressed.....
I realized that I have a new favorite movie.....The Adjustment Bureau.
I realized Tatiana is almost as tall as me
I realized that nothing is better than unconditional and it is oh so hard to find.
I realized that I can stay up until two in the morning working on refreshments, and a talk for my seminary kickoff meeting and still function all day without a nap.
I realized that I have way too many cucumbers in my garden
I realized that Natalie's birthday is this week...hate it when those sneak up on you.
I realized I have not been a good friend
I realized that my favorite flower is a dahlia...I realize this every day when I check on them and they make me smile :)
I realized that a little 8 year old giving you a hug is pretty awesome.

The worst part about realizing is when YOU realize something BUT no matter how you try you can not have any control over if someone else realizes it. I wish you could will someone to realize something would that not be cool? But then would it still be called realizing? :)

Aug 12, 2011

A Few Pictures From the West Coast....the words From the West Coast Are In the Next Blog Down

When you get out of the car up at the visitors center at the top where Mt St Helens is this is what the hills look like. Lots of stumps and a little bit of green growth. I have no idea why I could not stop being fascinated with the stumps :)
This is my dad and I hugging one of the enormous Redwoods.
One of the Redwoods had fallen over and this was the roots. It made me think about a black hole or a huge Sci-fi yucky creature :)
Yeah, how about laying on the ground and seeing that view whenever you wanted?
My fascination with bridges is growing and this one was begging for me to take its picture :)
Oregon coastline. I loved how there would be these random "plops" of rocks in the water. The water was an amazing blue and all sparkly. I was surprised at how empty the beaches were....that never happens in New England :)

Highlights :)

I am longing to tell you every detail of my trip to Oregon.

I wanted to tell you about how they lost my luggage on the way there and about the funny little, teeny, tiny bag they give you as a condolence. I decided after looking through my, oh so small bag, that I need to be on the Delta airlines committee that decides what goes in the complimentary "we lost your bag" bag. I could think of some way better stuff. Although I had no idea they could make deodorant so teeny tiny :) it was pretty cute.

I want to tell you about how comforting it was to wake up every morning and have the Wall Street Journal spread out across the kitchen and listen to my parents discussing its contents while they ate their steel cut oats with blueberries from their garden on it. We discussed riots in England, the S&P, and the stock market to our hearts content.

I want to tell you about how we got up Monday morning and headed for the Oregon coast and how part way there I asked my dad about how far it was to the Redwoods and right then and there we decided to drive down the coast to California and see the Redwoods. I love doing things spontaneously like that. The views of the Oregon coastline off of Highway 101 were beautiful. When we got there we hiked into a grove of redwoods and it was so peaceful and definitely awe inspiring. I had so many questions.

Yeah, speaking of questions. My parents did not really remember that I ask so many questions. And I do not really remember them not having all the answers :) One of them mused outloud at one point about how I see the world and am so curious. We should probably start a support group for those of you who have been exposed to four days of my question asking and wondering.

I want to tell you about thrift storing. I grew up going to thrift stores with my mom and sisters. I am not so good at it. It takes me awhile to get into it. Once you find one amazing find then your mood changes and you are ready to search endlessly all day. I ended up finding a ton of stuff and only spending about $35.00, I even figured out how to get it all home.

I want to tell you about picking berries and veggies in the garden and then coming in and eating everything we picked.

I want to tell you every detail of our trip up to Mt St Helens. I had lived in Washington most of my life and had never been to see it. I was so excited about this excursion. I was watching for the signs the whole way up to the mountain. I was looking for areas where the mud, ash, and logs had washed down the river. It was amazing to me that even though it erupted in 1980 a lot of the signs of what had happened were still there. As we got closer to the mountain I marveled at all the tree stumps and all the logs still laying on the mountains where the blast made them fall. I was curious about so many things. I asked question after question. There were four visitors centers on the way to the mountain but it was late enough in the day that we headed straight for the visitors center at the top. When we got there we watched a movie about the eruption and when the movie was over this curtain automatically goes up and there, right in front of you, larger than life is a perfect view of Mt. St Helens. It was pretty cool. We walked around and took lots of pictures. I was amazed at all the wild flowers growing everywhere...all different colors. The area around the volcano had such a desolate feeling. I did not understand until I saw it what an incredible force it was.

I wanted to tell you that I thought flying when there were fireworks and thunderstorms was the best but then this time I flew when there was huge puffy white clouds everywhere and also flew when the sun was setting in the west as I was flying east and I realized that I just love flying :)

Aug 7, 2011

A Few Pictures From Oregon.

I can not keep staring at the amazing color of this hydrangea by the folks front door
Yeah, how I long to garden like the master, my mother :) Check it out :)
I adore this rock path that wanders through the yard. The perfectness and exactness of it ....sigh

Going Home.

How long has it been since you were home? What is home anyway? How does it make you feel? How do you know it is home? If you are home you are in a situation that is familiar to you a place where you feel at ease. Yesterday I got on an airplane at 4:30 in the afternoon Eastern time and got off of an airplane at 9:30 Pacific time and then drove another 2 plus hours and then I was home. I have not been to my parents home in six years. I have seen my parents during those six years but have not been to their actual home in Cottage Grove, Oregon. I did not grow up in the home they live in. They have lived here 12 years. Yet, the minute I walked in the door the smells were familiar. The feeling of peace and contentment were familiar. The pictures hanging on the wall were familiar. Some of the pieces of furniture I remember from my childhood that are still around were familiar.

I think maybe the last time I had both of my parents to my complete and utter self was when I was born :) I sighed inside when the minute I got out of the car last night at 12:30 in the morning my dad said "You have to come out here away from the light and look at the stars" So there I stood in the driveway thousands of miles from my home standing under the Oregon sky looking at millions of stars, the Milky Way and oh so much more. They live out in the country on the top of a hill with an amazing view of a lake and pine trees for as far as the eye can see.

Our favorite thing to do as soon as we can is walk through the yard. My parents spend most of their time in the yard and the garden and it shows. It made me feel ashamed at how I have neglected my yard these last few months. We picked squash, cucumbers, blueberries, boysenberries and strawberries. We stared at the most beautifully colored hydrangea, in their front yard, that I have ever seen. We mourned the loss of 4 fruit trees in their orchard. I reaquainted myself with their mannerisms that endear them to me. We fixed breakfast for lunch.

It is so quiet here. I have been sitting in a chair reading this afternoon in 75 degree weather, with the windows all open so a breeze can blow through, listening to the distant sound of motor boats on the lake, listening to my parents share what they are reading in their books, and trying not to think too much about all the things I need to figure out.

In 20 years will I have a comfortable, yet humble home, with a view, with a perfect lawn and gardens and berries and fruit trees and a patio set and a grill? Will that make me happy? :) We have already been discussing happiness, the folks and I, where it comes from and what it means......good times :)

Aug 3, 2011

Sigh....Beach Day.

Today was, "Go to Crane Beach with 4 other moms and 15 kids between us Day." I do love this day. It started when I left my house at 8am in the morning with my 15 passenger van. By 9:15 all the friends had been gathered and we were on our way up the Massachusetts Pike with a completely full 15 passenger van and one extra car following along.

We arrived at Crane Beach in Ipswich at about 11:30. We ran into a little bit of traffic but it was a beautiful day to drive so I would never, ever complain about traffic. When we drove into the parking lot at the beach and I saw how empty it was I just knew it was going to be a great day. I love when you arrive at Crane Beach because you can not see the beach from the parking lot so you are filled with anticipation. You unload the car, load your children, and yourself with things you can not live without on the beach. Then you head up to the wooden stairs and boardwalk through some amazing tall, blowing in the wind, grasses and then there it is.... the Atlantic Ocean and the waves are breaking on a flat white beach that goes on and on and on in either direction. I had forgotten how truly stunning Crane Beach is. The tide was out when we arrived and there were some sand bars that were definitely calling my name. I am frantically searching for the perfect words to explain to you how fabulous the day was. There was a breeze. The water was 65 degrees. The kids were building in the sand and playing in the water. The yeah, a little bothersome, but yet oh so me :) I had my cherries. I had my four friends to chat with. I had my paper and a clipboard.....what? Yes, you heard me :) You never know when you may need to write.

As soon as we dropped our stuff in the sand the kids and I headed off to explore the sand bars. In the water that was sitting between the sand bars there was schools of little fish that were oh so fun to try to herd....which we tried to do for way too long. The only downside of the day was a time limit. We all knew that would be the way it was before we ever left Western Massachusetts and yet, we still decided to go. My most very favorite situation is a beach day without a time limit. I love to be the last one on the beach in the evening and to drive home in the dark with sleeping kids. That will happen on our next beach trip which will hopefully be the third week of August. But today was still very fun. I wonder if I rented a beach house and stayed for a week if it would be possible to get tired of the beach?

Tatiana and her friends built a sand wall next to the shore and while I watched them frantically try to stop the tide from destroying it I found myself remembering all the times I had built something on the beach and thought I could keep the tide from destroying it. You can't hold back the tide no matter how you try. It may take time but eventually it will come. Interesting to think about.

On the way home I asked my friends riding in my car with me when was the first time they ever went to the beach? As I listened to them tell their stories I found myself thinking about when was the first time I ever saw the ocean and I realized that the Pacific Ocean had always been a part of my life. I remember my dad driving our big old yellow Cadillac on the beach when I was a kid. I remember my parents finding a green Japanese fishing float on the beach. I remember my dad losing our car keys on a very rocky beach in La Push, Washington. I remember being tumbled into shore by a huge wave in San Clemente, California when I was 12. Ever since that experience I still love the ocean but do not get into the water the way I used to. The first time I saw the Atlantic Ocean was when I had Zach and Madeline and it was Christmas Day in New Jersey.

I wish there was a way to describe all the thoughts in my head as I sat on the beach and took in everything....the texture of the sand on Crane Beach is very fine and the way it feels as you dig your feet in and bury them is so soothing. The color of the water was so true. The Crane Beach Estate sitting back on the hill looks so stately. And don't forget all the beach sounds. It reminded me that I once had a roomate in college who had a tape with wave sounds on it that she would listen to when she was trying to sleep. I found myself wondering if everyone else is thinking the same sort of things when they are at the beach. Are they sighing inside at the gloriousness of it all or all they thinking about what is for dinner? I have a feeling I might be the only person in the world who has constant longing in my heart at the beach and a constant awareness of all the details...but do tell me if you understand, maybe we could go to the beach together and marvel at all the amazing-ness together :)

A Movie and the River. Yes, In the Same Day :)

Yesterday was one of those days. You know the ones. You do nothing you should do and just.....gulp...go with the flow. It started when I woke up at 7:12, jumped out of bed, threw on sweats, a ponytail, and headed on a bike ride. I literally was out of the house in 60 seconds. The morning was beautiful and I have a goal to ride my bike every morning. I usually leave at 6:45 am but today I did a little sleeping in. I love the freedom I feel while I am riding my bike. There is a particular street in Westfield that has significance to me and my goal each morning is to ride to this street and then I turn around and head back home. The ride ends up being about 4 or so miles and it is oh so glorious....okay, and very theraputic.

When I got home I quickly got changed out of sweats, answered e-mail, folded laundry, and then I woke up my two little girls because Tuesday and Wednesday morning the movie theater in West Springfield shows a free movie for kids. They do it all summer and the Baird girls...ahem, and the mom all live for it. This week was a movie I have never seen so I was really looking forward to it.....Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. The movie starts at 10:00 am and we usually leave oh so early so we can save seats for our friends. I really enjoyed the movie....yes, even though the theater is teaming with little voices fighting over seats, and popcorn, and asking questions, and exclaiming about which part is coming up next in the movie :)

It seems like more often than not I end up leaving the movie with more kids than I arrived with which is no problem for me and today was no exception. I loaded the car with three friends plus my two girls and we headed home. Today I felt like avoiding all responsibilities so I told the girls we were going to the river.

We got home and I quickly blogged while they played their favorite game....pioneers/pilgrims. I love watching them play this game because I totally remember playing it when I was a kid. They dress up in all the pioneer bonnets and skirts that I have made throughout the years. They pack bags with various things and they wander around the yard. It makes me smile :) I have no idea what they actually say or do so I am not sure if it is authentic pioneer/pilgrim play :) When I was done blogging we quickly did the paper routes, ate lunch, and then we loaded the car and headed back up to our latest favorite river spot by the Knightville Dam. The girls wanted to wear their pioneer skirts to the river so I let them. But they wisely abandoned the very long skirts once we got there. They were so excited to be there and so was I.

I had brought my box of cherries and my book club book but I ended up wading around,watching the girls, and soaking up the beautiful day instead of reading about Zombies and eating cherries. It was a perfect afternoon. I have no idea why river, sunshine, trees and a breeze can make me feel content. I have lots of fabulous memories from my childhood of rivers, rocks, trees, sunshine, and wading. I sat there on the perfect rock with my feet in the cool water thinking about feeling content and what makes me feel that satisfied, comfortable feeling.....rivers, ocean, trees, mountains, early morning, sunshine, snow, rain, the moon, a curvy road, radio cranked loud, wind, ferry boat rides, airports, airplane rides, hammocks, a view, a bonfire, raking leaves, headphones that make the music surround you in loveliness, rollercoasters, apricots, asparagus, avocado, steak, hiking, connecting with someone, and traveling. Whew, did you have any idea that you knew someone who had a "things that make me content list"? I know pretty nerdy, eh?

I think a day playing in the river is what a perfect childhood is all about. It was so fun to listen to them exclaim over the fish they were trying to catch, make up games, act out stories that involved rocks and water, tell stories about seeing a long water snake in the grass, and laugh with each other. None of us wanted to leave but real life has a way of reaching out and grabbing you and insisting on some attention so I finally herded them back to the car at 4:00.

Today is beach day. I am meeting friends at Exit 5 on the Mass Pike at 8:45am and we are heading to Crane Beach for a much looked forward to day. I can not wait to dig my feet into the sand and feel content two days in a row :) I have to confess that deep inside I know that the content is not as deep and whole as I would like it to be. There are things missing that would make it perfection which is one step above content if you were not aware of that scale :) But I am perfectly happy to see content because he is definitely one step up from despair which is where I had been ......bless my heart.

Aug 2, 2011

The Courage to Face Afraid.

When was the last time you were afraid? Why do we have to get afraid? I have been thinking about being afraid the last couple of days and with thinking about afraid always comes thinking about having courage. But that is getting way ahead of myself....which, I am afraid, I always do :) When I think about something I do not really understand I try to break it down into the simplest form possible. So I tried to think about things I was afraid of, times I was afraid, how I dealt with it, and then how I felt when it was all over. Whew....we have a lot to cover today this is going to be so fun.

I can declare with confidence that I am afraid of spiders. I have grown a little bit in this fear and I can now handle little spiders that have not a hint of hairy on them. But that is it :) I am very afraid of scary movies but I think you are supposed to be :) I get afraid if someone is following me up the stairs. I have no idea why but it makes me feel like running up the stairs to get away from them. I am extremely afraid of being misunderstood....this is one of my more healthy fears :) I used to be afraid to tell the truth because I did not want to hurt anyone but I have recently learned that I hurt them more by not telling the truth so I have do not ask me if you look fat in that outfit :) I googled, "what we are afraid of" and of course there was a list of top ten things people are afraid of and of course I am going to tell you what they were.......

#1.Fear of flying
#2.public speaking
#3. heights
#4. dark
#5. intimacy
#6. death
#7.fear of failure
#8. rejection
#9. spiders
#10. committment

I was relieved to discover that only number 8 and number 9 apply to me and I am able to tell you I have recently survived both :) Not together :) I would be okay if a spider rejected me :) But rejection all by itself is a truly nasty thing....I think if I were getting a grade on how I am dealing with rejection I would get a C- and unfortunantly there is no makeup work available to bring that grade up :)

I used to be afraid of the dark .....I would run like crazy up the driveway after putting the garbage can out but then one day I stopped... looked around me, forced myself to stand there, and all of a sudden I noticed the brilliant stars, the fireflies and the silence and I have never run from the dark again.......okay, I confess, I do have a flipping sweet flashlight with me at all times if necessary :)

I used to be afraid of driving in the snow. But as I moved further east and was forced to drive in all sorts of snow I slowly gained confidence and after getting stuck a few times and figuring out how to get unstuck I realized it was not so bad and I am no longer afraid of it.

As I have faced my fears through the years I have come to realize that is the key. You have to face them. I feel so empowered when I face something I am afraid of and take a stand. It is never easy to do something hard. Especially when Mr Unknown is standing right behind the fear waiting to join the party. When you are afraid you feel fear, apprehensiveness, discouragement, reluctance, unhappiness, intimidated and send me a self addressed post card if you want more words....because there are plenty more synonyms to the word afraid :) I do not know about you but I am not longing for any of those words to be in my life anymore. The only way to get rid of them is to make some very hard decisions and then deal with what may come after. Nothing is easy. Yes, I have finally learned that :) But I would rather face the hard without any of those afraid synonyms around.

I have been taking baby steps towards some fears lately. I want to desperately have the "quality of mind and spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger and pain without fear".....that is what the dictionary tells me the definition of courage is...determination, resolution, tenacity,endurance, and fortitude... do those words not sound oh so luscious? You have to admire someone who knows what they need to do and they have the strength to do it....conviction...oh my so many words to understand and little time :)