Dec 3, 2012

Getting The Christmas Tree

Every year when Christmas tree time rolls around I find my mind dragging up all kinds of Christmas tree memories....

  The Baird's driving to a "cut your own" Christmas tree place in Indiana and Madeline throwing a bona fide fit the entire way about having to listen to Christmas music.

  The Baird's managing to bring home the most crooked tree on the cut your own tree lot in Kansas.

 There was the year The Baird's got the tree home, in the house, up, and out flew the most beautiful butterfly.

 There is the The Baird husband always saying that I get to choose the tree yet making a comment about the state of  every single one I choose.

 There are the seven kids who all like a different tree at the cut your own place and they are all calling to you from all over the land wanting you to choose their tree.

Can you see the happiness? :)
 There is the one Baird child who happens to be in the phase where they think it is abuse to have to go with the family to choose a Christmas tree.....this year it was the Joe :)

 There is memories of me finally getting over the need to have a perfect tree.

 There is memories of me furtively hiding the ornament from school that was covered with popcorn seeds spray painted green that never stayed on the ornament.

There is the year the Baird husband dragged the top of the tree along the ceiling leaving some memorable tree marks.

There is memories of Miriam who makes the other kids hold hands and dance around the chosen tree.

There is me moving the ornaments around after they all go to school and then conveniently not remembering if I did if they ask if I did.

The first year we lived in Princeton, New Jersey we did not get a tree because we did not have enough money. I bought some greenery that year that I put on the mantle above the fireplace and that was our nod to the Christmas tree tradition that year.

The first year we lived in Massachusetts we also ended up not having a tree. You see we moved here in December and by the time I got kids enrolled in schools, figured out where stores even were, gave everything I had to the emotional support of my kiddos who took the move way too hard, I simply had no emotional energy left to find a cut your own Christmas Tree place and figure out what box in the freezing cold garage the Christmas ornaments were even packed in.

Every year in Massachusetts since that first Christmas we drive about 25 minutes up into the Berkshires to a little place called Balsam Acres in Blandford, Massachusetts. I can not even remember how I found out about this place. But it is a quiet unassuming place and I love it. No hot chocolate. No rides. No lines of people. No candles for sale. No Christmas lights. Just a small A Frame office and  acres of Christmas trees. Rows and rows of them. The rules for getting the Christmas tree happen to be that we have to get the tree before my Annual Ornament exchange but not before the calendar says December. So that leaves us a very small unrealistic window of time to get all of our schedules in sync so we can get the tree. This year it was Saturday and the first of December which made my," longing for perfection" little brain ever so happy. And then to push that aforementioned perfection brain just over the edge we woke up to snow. I do not remember ever procuring the Christmas tree in the snow before. This was so beyond cool.

When we finally choose the tree the hubby saws it down and then we cram it into our fifteen passenger  van. This year the tree was the best smelling one we have ever had. And I think it was also the biggest tree we have ever had.

Once we get the tree home and decorated I always find myself painfully aware that my Christmas tree is not "matchy matchy." No theme. No symmetry. No ooohhs and ahhhs from anyone who views its quaint homey-ness. This year as Miriam was helping me put on the lights she was trying to make me feel better as she declared emphatically how she likes all the different kinds of ornaments we have and what they remind her of and how she likes seeing something different every time she looks at the tree. I am not sure if I agree with her but her comments did give me some consolation that hopefully no one in this family will have to have therapy due to the non matching Christmas tree at our house

We have an extremely rag tag assortment of ornaments that make their way onto the tree each year. Since collecting Playmobil is our "thing" we have a set of Playmobil ornaments that someone gave to us in Kansas that the kids fight over putting on the tree every year. There is my Santa that I made out of a blown out egg and red and white hole punched dots glued all over it.There is the Washington State Ferry ornament that I bought a Pikes Place Market with a dear friend. There is the cardboard mitten from Brother and Sister Stoker who taught one of my kids in church. There is a Santa riding in his sleigh attached to eight small reindeer that my sister Rebecca bought for me years ago in Provo. Miriam, the twenty year old, was thrilled to finally get a chance to hang that Santa/sleigh ornament this year since the sister who usually commandeers it is on her mission in El Salvador. There are the wooden soldiers that I keep trying to get rid of but they keep multiplying every year. There is no rhyme or reason to my ornament collection and I confess I am not totally comfortable with that.

 I know some people have two trees. A kid tree and a grown up tree. We pay $40.00 a year for our tree we cut ourselves so I do not see being a two tree family anywhere in our future. I am a bad mom and I have not collected an ornament for each of the Baird kids for each year of their little lives so the kid ornaments are the ones made at school with oodles of glue, pasta, and their picture prominently displayed. I am sending them out into the world with enough baggage as it is without adding a huge box or ornaments. Yes, this is where you call me cold and heartless :) I mean can you do the Math on 7 kids... times what...eighteen Christmases?.... times one ornament each year? Yeah, I never even tried. They can get their own ornaments when they get married :)

Nov 30, 2012

Black Friday With All My Heart And Soul.

Every year I have grand plans to participate in Black Friday. Some years I have halfway participated. Those are the years I have gone at 6 in the morning or even at ten in the morning even though I am not sure if going at ten even qualifies as black Friday shopping? I have never gone at midnight and shopped all night, which in my mind is what Black Friday shopping means. I am supposing that the reason I have never gone is because I have never had a friend willing to do the whole enchilada with me.But I surprised myself this year and I decided to be at Kohl's at midnight all by my little old self.

Every year my mind starts the "should I go or not" debate the minute I see that 2 to 3 inch stack of glossy, beckoning ads. I pore over every single page.There never seems to anything that I HAVE to have but I always see lots of deals. We are not a very "into the latest electronics" sort of family. Which I am thankful for because I am not sure if I could handle the anxiousness of waiting for a deal that I have a good chance of it not being mine. Anyhow, I always make lists and write down the times the stores open and what is where. It is a ritual I adore. But I rarely follow through...strange huh?

But this year we got home from Thanksgiving at six in the evening and I had had a crazy week and I literally fell into bed and as I drifted off I set my alarm for 11:30pm. When it rang at 11:30pm I was up. I got my sweats on and I was out of there. I drove straight to Kohls and got there about 5 minutes to midnight. There was a line and I got in it thinking I would be waiting for five minute. But midnight came and went and everyone in the line started murmuring and obsessively checking the time. Finally someone figured out that Kohls in Massachusetts was not opening until one in the morning. A lot of people left at this point but I decided to stay. Yes, the thought did cross my mind that I was crazy to wait in line in the freezing cold when I did not even know what I was waiting for. But I decided sticking it out was not going to hurt anything. So I settled in and I eavesdropped on the married couple behind me I loved that they were there together I do ALL the Christmas shopping in our family. I giggled at the antics of the two very loud spanish speaking women who were standing behind them these girls had a direct line to some friends who were over at Walmart so they were giving us updates on the condition of the lines and such at Walmart. In front of me was a guy and two girls and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which one was his actual girlfriend :) It was definitely some good times :)

When the doors opened I walked politely in and I shopped for about an hour. I browsed slowly through every section and was able to cross a lot of stuff off of my list. And in the end I got $45 dollars back in Kohls cash. Why does Kohls cash make me so happy? There was no line when I checked out and soon I was on my way to the Mall where Target is.

Target was a ZOO. I selfishly grabbed myself some copies of the first two seasons of Downton Abbey. They were only $13.00 apiece and I wanted them ever so much. I carried them around but in the end I could not justify waiting in the most enormous line ever for two dvd's for me...hello :) Although, I must tell you I wonder how many people shop for themselves on Black Friday? Buying things you have needed or wanted? Does that not sound like a person who bought some things for themselves on Black Friday justifying? :) All right I confess I did procure some brown boots, a new wallet, two cushions for my wicker chairs and a plain white long sleeve shirt for myself. But that is ALL I promise :) Did I mention I put the two Downton Abbey dvd's back? Yeah, sad times.

I was in the Mall for several hours. Old Navy, Sears, Children's Place, Radio Shack, American Eagle all got a piece of my money. It was the weirdest feeling to remind yourself as you are walking through a totally full mall with restaurants open selling hamburgers and fries that is 3 in the morning. How often do you get to do that? The only place I waited in line was in Old Navy and I waited there for an hour. There was a guy in Old Navy with a bullhorn, many body piercings, a sassy attitude, and tattoos who was annoying the heck out of a woman next to me with his conversing with people in line and handing out coupons so that kept my attention for awhile.

 My Natalie has a gift for ruining our portable dvd player every year so that was the one thing  I was on the lookout for. Target had one for $39.00 and Target had one for $55.00. Target's were long gone when I got there. So I sauntered into Radio Shack at like 4 in the morning fully expecting all there $39.00 portable dvd players to be gone but weirdly the lady behind the counter had thought she was out of them but had found three behind the counter minutes before I walked in....can you have a miracle on Black Friday? :)

Black Friday gets bad mouthed constantly. And I am not sure it deserves it. Those of us who participate in it are labeled to be certifiably crazy. But I am not sure if wanting a deal at midnight is necessarily crazy? :) If it is crazy then we crazies are all in good company because there is a lot of us out there all through the night shopping away. When I thought about it I really liked the idea that I had accomplished a whole heck of a lot without disrupting anyone elses life. You see, they were all merrily sleeping off their Thanksgiving dinner not even realizing I was gone it was totally free off the clock time for me, no guilt for not doing something else because who feels guilt for not sleeping? :)

The term Black Friday has been around since the 1960's way, way back when accounting books were kept by hand and red ink indicated a loss and black ink indicated a profit. It has officially been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005. 2011 was the first time some of the big retailers shocked the world by opening at ...gasp...midnight :) Like, the drama I managed there? :) This year was the first time several retailers opened at 8 pm on Thanksgiving. I heard lots of complaining about that but if people will be there they will most definitely do it. If we don't want them to open on Thanksgiving then we need to not go which I doubt would ever happen :)

So here's to having half of my Christmas shopping done, to waking up at midnight, and waiting in line to do it :)

Nov 25, 2012

What's In The Center?

I love to know what is in the center. When I get a box of chocolate I am not overly interested in getting a surprise in my first bite I am pretty sure that I really need to know what is in the middle of each one. I will annoyingly ask you with each chocolate I eat if you happen to know what this one is or what that one is. If we are really good friends I will beg you to take a bite first and then hand it over to me if it passes. I want to make sure I get caramel, chocolate, or coconut not any of the other icky ones. I love it when they provide you with a map in the lid of the box telling you what the center of each one is.

While we are on the topic of centers I also dearly love to know what is in the center of people. It fascinates me. And being true to my love of all things center I must tell you I do prefer donut holes over the actual donut. Seriously, why on earth am I talking about the word center?  I have been so excited to tell you about this new question that has been occupying my mind. But in order to explain I have to start way back at the beginning which is way back in...yesterday. You see yesterday Tatiana and I went to see the movie Rise of the Guardians. I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this movie. The first time I saw a preview for it I knew I HAD to see it. And the actual movie did not disappoint me in anyway. It was filled with so many lessons, parallels, fun, and symbolism. But the one discussion that ended up standing out in my mind and that I have been thinking about constantly has to do with the word center.So sit back and get comfy and I will tell you the story.

In the movie the Guardians happen to be Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, and Mr.Sandman. The Guardians protect the children of the world from evil and in this movie evil is named Pitch and he provides us with our nightmares and he has a plan to make sure none of the kids in the world believe in any of the Guardians anymore. He has some attention issues that you will totally identify when you see the movie :)

Anyway, the Guardians only exist and have power because kids believe in them. If there is no one believing they can not exist they lose their strength and I surmise they eventually disappear. Santa recognizes there is trouble brewing as he has had a sighting of Pitch, so he puts out a call to the guardians and they all come immediately to the North Pole. After they have all arrived Santa lets them know about the Pitch sightings and he also tells them that a new Guardian has been called. They all speculate who it is and it ends up being Jack Frost. Jack is very reluctant to be a Guardian when he finds out they want him so Santa takes him aside and chats with him. He takes him to his "office" and shows him one of those sets of nesting know the ones that you open the top, there is another layer underneath that, then another layer, and another layer until you get to the center? Each of the dolls, of Santa's, most personal, set of nesting dolls, happens to represent some part of his personality...a most clever idea if I may say so myself... he tells Jack about what each nesting doll represents as Jack opens them. When they get to the center there is a baby Santa nesting doll with humongous eyes. Santa explains to Jack that the huge eyes  represent his center, what his core is, what he stands for and that happens to be wonder. The wonder in Christmas lights. The wonder in gifts. The wonder of Christmas trees. You get the idea....the wonder of Christmas. He asks Jack, "What is your center?" Jack does not know what his center is and frankly I had no idea either what a guy like Jack Frost's center would be? Much later in the movie Jack thankfully finds his center and I love the moment when he discovers that his center is fun. He loves to provide fun in the snow.

So you all know me and you all have to know that I am now deeply wondering what my center is :)  When you separate the Jennifer nesting dolls what is at the center of Jennifer? What do I represent? I imagine it would be hard to choose just one thing. I do happen to love wonder and fun maybe I am Santa and Jack Frost rolled into one? :)

Nov 20, 2012

What To Be When I Grow Up?

So for exactly a year and 24 weeks and two days I have been trying to figure out what direction my little old life is going to take. We all have that moment when something crushes us and we have to figure out where we are going after we recover from the crush. One idea that has been bumping around in my mind has been going back to college. My first attempt at college was so "Jennifer." I loved it....every single minute of it. I was at BYU in Provo, Utah. I loved my roommates. I loved my racquetball class. I loved my ballroom dance class. I loved hiking the mountains. I adored playing in the snow until all hours. I loved me a few boys. I loved being the one everyone knew they could count on to play anytime and anywhere. Notice there is no mention of serious classes in the previous statements. Notice I did not say that I loved me some straight A's :) Or even my straight C's for that matter :) I desperately wanted to do good in school and could not for the life of me figure out why I could not do well. Twenty three years later I think I understand what it would take for me to FINALLY succeed in school but understanding aside is it the right thing for me to do? It has taken me about a year to get up my courage to actually talk to someone about the possibilities in the college world that are available to a 44 year old homemaker who has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up.

This morning at 9 am I met with a lady named Lori at a community college about 25 minutes from my house. I felt so grown up walking on a college campus. It felt so refreshing and empowering to just be there. I feel a tad embarrassed that I am in this position at 44 years old. Think of where I could be if I had had some confidence, direction, and courage 20 years ago? I am sure I could have been a much better mother if I had had an education and knew I could do something hard. NO, raising seven kids has not been hard...thanks for trying to convince me that I did something worthwhile though :) Anyway, Lori, the counselor for, "old people who want to come back to college," was very nice. I spent way too much time wondering what she was thinking of me as I was doing my over sharing thing I do :) She ended up passing me off to Robert in the career center because everyone knows you have to have some notion of what you want to be before you can enroll in college.

Robert chatted with me for a minute and then sat me down in front of a career center computer so that I could take a very magic test that would determine what careers on this planet would make all my dreams come true. I was so proud of myself for following all his directions perfectly and not having to ask even one question. This is a major miracle, for you see I am an Olympic level question asker. I never want to do anything wrong so i ask questions to make sure I do it perfectly right...shhh do not tell :) But I concentrated with all my might when he gave me the instructions that I thankfully had no questions.

I had to answer 116 questions about my likes and dislikes. Some of the questions were easy and some were hard. I am not a woman of the world so some of the terminology in the questions confused me. Questions like, "Do you like to get your hands dirty?" were tres easy :) But others that seemed to allude to if you liked to be bossy or not were harder. I knew I did not want to work on or in the ocean. I know I love information. I know Mr Math and I are not great friends. I am not sure if in the end Mr.Computer understood who I was because when it was all over his career suggestions for me appeared to be ALL over the place. I loved it when Robert (the career counselor guy) came back to check on me and as he looked at my list of suggested careers according to my answers he was struggling to know what to say... he looked at that list of 20 careers that I had narrowed it down too from the 40 the computer had suggested and he was speechless. I frankly was too. It was all over the place...hmm just like me :) There was Librarian, horticulturist, Funeral home director, professional athlete?, several forms of nursing careers, several forms of secretary careers, flight attendant, surgical assistant.....what made me smile was right smack in the middle of all my 40 career possibilities was homemaker....yeah, been there done that :)

I am pretty sure that I want to be a high school teacher horticulturist airline attendant librarian tour guide with some nursing on the side :) That is possible right? Everything sounds so incredibly interesting to me. I am trying to force myself to focus, to think about reality, to think into the future and see what I want a career to accomplish in my life... but that is so not me :) You would think that after all the soul searching I have been doing in the past year, 24 weeks, and two days that the answer would be clear. School is not my only option. I could write a children's book. I could continue to do yard work for people. I am very qualified to clean houses forever and ever. I could find a sugar daddy who just wants to read and travel with me :) JK

 So my friends stay tuned to see if I even decide to grow up and then what on earth I am going to be when I grow up :) And if through some weird twist of fate you know what I should be please please please tell me :)

Nov 13, 2012

Hawk's Do Attack Chickens.

So, a few weeks ago the idyllic, "Disneylike" world that had surrounded raising chickens at the Baird's house came crashing down. When you acquire animals you know this time will come you just hope that it won't come to you. All the bad things that the chicken reading material said could happen when you have chickens had not yet happened to us. And anytime I had a concern the husband quickly assured me "it will never happen" ...yeah, right :) I had read oh so much about the chicken raising process before we got them and I very carefully made sure that they:

 Had enough room so they did not get bored and peck each other.
 That they had time every day outside of the coop in the garden and in the yard.
 A super clean coop and fresh water twice a day.
 I begged the hubby to make sure the coop was predator proof.

 I was a dang good chicken mom. Then that ill fated Tuesday came and twelve year old Tatiana had the unfortunate privilege of discovering a hawk attacking Grace, Natalie's chicken. When I got to the scene of the crime Tatiana was sobbing and Grace was just laying there motionless in the dirt, we immediately assumed she was dead and we focused on catching the other chickens and quickly putting them back in their coop as the hawk continued to circle menacingly overhead. As I headed back to grab the last chicken all of a sudden there was Grace in an upright position... very alive. She ended up with two very yucky deep wounds in her neck, a ton of missing feathers, and an eye that she did not open until about a week later. We kept her away from the other chickens for two days so her wounds could heal because I had read that the others would attack her if they sensed her weakness. On the day when Natalie and I tried to re-introduce Grace to the other chickens that she had been with since they all hatched together in May they immediately flew at her and attacked her. I was sick. I called my sister Rebecca who is my chicken resource due to her having a gazillion chickens of her own. She said she had never separated her hurt chickens from the others. You either made it or you didn't on the Hirschi Farm in Michigan. I could not believe what I was hearing :) Don't chickens have emotions just like me? Isn't that poor chicken feeling horrible? Why do they have to have a social order? I have seen Chicken Run I know the truth! Then she rocked my world even more by telling me horses are mean to each other too. WHAT? Has watching 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, Fox and the Hound that have animals that talk and feel in them ruined my world that much?

In the end I knew Aunt Rebecca was right so I gathered all my abilities to ignore injustice and threw the chicken that had been brutally attacked back in with her "friends" and ran. It just did not seem right that they were mean to her. No amount of talking could convince them to be nice. Chickens have their rules that they mindlessly obey. The more I thought about it the more I realized that social order is always being established life. We don't really peck at each other but yet we do really peck at each other.

After about three days things were back to normal. Grace is definitely at the bottom of the pecking order. She knows her place and she stays there. The others now allow her around and she can eat what is left when they are done. I have to tell myself over and over in my head "they do not have human emotions she does not even care" and sometimes it seems to work :)

It has been many weeks now and Grace is still at the bottom of the pecking order and occasionally I will see another chicken remind her where she belongs. The other chickens do not even care that she was attacked by a hawk. I feel like I am watching a live National Geographic special every time I watch these chickens. I can hear the narrators voice calmly and exactingly describing why they have to do what they have to do. I can hear that same narrators voice calmly describing recess, church, meetings, dances ....need I say more? :)

Nov 10, 2012

Since Then.

Have you ever tried to catch up? The words catch and up together seem to always imply that you are behind and bless my gosh darn heart I am SO behind on my blog. You have no idea how many half written blogs are in my file. I should win an award for not finishing. Are there awards for that? I am often afraid of all I want to tell you so I just simply don't do it. I tend to burst if I do not attempt to connect and I have discovered that my blog seems to meet that need to connect :)

I can not possibly catch you up on all that has happened since I last blogged in September. 

 I mean firstly I am older now than I was then :)
 I have been to New York City to play twice since then.
 I have been to Hoboken to Carlos' bakery since then.
 I have immersed myself in politics since then.
 I have watched the leaves change amazing colors, fall all over the ground, then raked and raked them up  since then.
 I have flown a daughter to Utah to get her wisdom teeth out, because it was cheaper than doing it in Massachusetts, since then. 
I have discovered being disciplined since then.
I have set a goal to go thirty days without sugar since then.
I have gone running in the rain since then.
I have raised six chickens that each lay an egg a day since then.
I have watched political debates since then.
I have read Farm City, Once A Runner, Her Mother's Daughter, Birdseye;The Adventures of A Curious Man, and The Book of Mormon Girl since then.
I have changed doctors since then.
I have been to an Imagine Dragons concert since then.
I have stared at a couple amazing full moons since then.
I have found some amazing finds at the Salvation Army since then.
I have wondered what to do way too much since then.
I have had my parents visit since then.
I have wondered what is wrong with me since then.
I have used a Sephora giftcard since then.
I have studied the Battle of Bunker Hill since then.
I have been to Vermont twice since then.
I have dug up all my dahlia bulbs since then.
I have acquired an American Express Costco card since then.
I have listened to number 6 on the Killers new CD way too many times since then.
I have been pulled over by a cop because my registration had apparently expired since then.
I have found my favorite perfume at the Gap since then.
I have wondered since then.
I have missed since then.
I have worn a Dorthy costume since then.

So I guess that about sums it up.....well not really but you get the idea. I am determined to be better at writing on my little old blog in the future because it is extremely therapeutic for me. Not because it is going to help you learn to make a craft better. Not because it will give you some great recipes for the fam. Not because it will make you wish you had thought of that :) But I will blog simply and selfishly because I need it. But I will adore it if you decide to hang out with me while I am being selfish since I do love connecting while being selfish :)

Sep 11, 2012

Can I Spray Paint My Life?

 I thought I had just recently discovered the joy of spray paint. But as I sat down to write about this new found joy I realized that my first introduction to spray painting was when I lived in Indiana about 8 years not so new found. But as is often the case with me I did not realize what powerful information I had stumbled upon until about a year ago. For some reason it took me awhile to get the memo about if you have something old and yucky... yet still with potential and even some character you can spray paint it and no one will ever believe that it was once old and yucky.

I had a friend in Indiana named Jill who had the cutest house ever and the cutest furniture ever you see a theme here? I was only a little bit jealous of the cuteness. One day I was helping her clean out some apartments that her father in law had just recently bought and she came across an old dresser that I saw absolutely no potential in it whatsoever but she snatched it right up and I had to ask why, and how, and when, and so many more questions. And that is when she bore her testimony to me about spray paint and all of a sudden I understood why her furniture, picture frames, accessories, and kids (JK) were so gosh darn cute. I have no idea what I thought spray paint was for up until that moment.... graffiti? :) But when I went home all of a sudden everything had potential.

I had a kitchen table and eight chairs that someone had given to me when we lived in Kansas. I liked them but I often wished the white part of them was a different color but I had never realized I had the power to change that. Now I understood. And the minute I got home from Jill's that day I looked at that table with new eyes. Jill surely had to have wished she had never told me about spray paint because I need tons of support when I do a diving in and learning as we go for this girl. I will ask you questions until you think you are going to die. So between her, and my dear friend Joan, my table and chairs were transformed. And I never knew such happiness.

You would have thought immediately after this spray painting success that I would have gone wild...but I did not. We ended up moving to Massachusetts, life happened, and I did not think of spray paint again until last summer. One day we were on our paper route and there sitting at the end of someones driveway was an old, white, wicker chair. It spoke to me. I really wanted me some wicker. But I resisted. I have this problem about stopping and taking things that are intended to be taken. I know I need therapy for this but at least I can now admit it. So after driving by this chair that I really needed for two days I finally got up my courage to ask my kids to go get it for me :) They did it. And I was so happy. I washed the chair and ran to Home Depot for my trusty can of Colonial Red spray paint and I was definitely in love. But winter came and even I know you can not spray paint in the winter in Massachusetts so my fun was put on hold.

Since spring came and warmer temperatures I have been spray painting just enough to drive the children crazy and cause them to worry a little about what of their possessions I may spray paint. Some of the next victims were a bookshelf and some candle stick holder thingys. Yep, two projects at once. The bookshelf was my neighbors and was very blue. The pre spray paint Jennifer could have never seen past the blue but the new Jennifer knew immediately that there was hope. And in case you are planning an intervention for my addiction to Colonial Red spray paint I want to show you that I actually bought a different color for the bookshelf. Aren't I growing up nicely?

Speaking of buying different colors I had three chairs in my house that have been with us since Kansas and I needed them to look newer than they looked. I once again decided to branch out from my favorite Colonial Red and stood in the Home Depot spray paint aisle for a long time staring. I finally settled on Sage Green in gloss. When I got home I recognized this sage green thing was making me feel afraid so I chose the oldest looking of the chairs and went to town. When I was all done I decided hate was a good word for the color. And I am still praying about what color these three chairs should be :)

I am not so perfect at this spray painting thing. But I am learning it is very forgiving. My new goal is to stop those gosh darn drips forever more. I confess that I sometimes wish I could spray paint my life. Just a fresh coat of something glossy. I mean it is just so easy. And there are hardly any rules. Just shaking the can. Covering what you do not want color on. Sanding. Washing. Drying. And no wind :)

Here are the candlesticks from Goodwill. Fifty cents later. And yes, Colonial Red :) Duh!

Sep 10, 2012

Pleased As Punch.

Some Sundays we have company over. Those Sundays are very structured, very busy, and fun. Some Sundays we do not have company over and those Sundays are lazy, relaxed, and did I already mention lazy? Today was the no company kind of Sunday. As soon as I could I headed outside to put my cotton LL Bean hammock to good use. I adore my hammock. I adore whoever invented hammocks. I adore whoever invented blue skies, white puffy clouds, trees with all different kinds of leaves, nine million shades of green, and sunlight that filters through leaves. I also have been known to adore clear, crisp air. How about some adoring of books, throw pillows off of couches and favorite blankets? Yes, so many adoring things added to the comfortable, complacent, pleased as punch, satisfied, tickled pink, at ease feeling that I had today this ninth day of September from 2 to 4:34 in the afternoon. I wonder if I had days like these more often if they would not seem so magical anymore?

The only thing that would have made it more magical would be that I could share it. So in an attempt to share I took pictures of my views from my hammock so that you could pretend you were there.

jealous much?
Yes, painted toenails are part of the contentment :)

Puffy clouds with the perfect mix of gray and white.
After about two and a half hours the kiddos discovered where I was and then it was an endless parade of them bringing chickens by the hammock to see me and a girl can only do so much of that before the words like pleased as punch, tickled pink, satisfied, and complacent are long gone :)

And then it was over :)

Sep 3, 2012

Amanda Is Starting Out.....Look Out BYU Idaho.

Well my middle child officially closes the door on the living at home years today. Tomorrow morning bright and early she gets on an airplane and heads for Idaho and Brigham Young University. I have had this happen three times before. I am not a, "hold on to you forever and make you live close to me forever" kind of mom. I am always so excited to see them reach milestones and move on as it is supposed to be. But I always find myself mulling a lot of things over in my mind the night before each of them have left home. SO many questions I ask myself. SO many things I wonder if I remembered to teach them so they will be good roommates. So many memories it brings back to me. A few fears I have about what I know they will face and have I taught them how to handle it all?

 I have never had the chance to take one of my kids to college. Because of the hubby's work he always gets to fly out west with the newest college kid. I will never really know if they have everything they need. I never know what their dorm room looks like. I never meet their roommates. I never have any pictures of them standing in front of their new digs. I never get to fight crowds at the closest Target and Walmart to the college. I never get to insist that they have all the food groups in their cupboards and fridge before I leave. I never get to notice and point out that... AH-HA... they do need that one thing they thought they didn't. The funny thing is that they always are fine without any of these nevers :)

When I went to college in...1986.... my mom and dad loaded our big blue truck with all the things I thought I could not live without, me, and my two little brothers and we drove from Snohomish, Washington to Provo, Utah. I remember having a HUGE Costco size bottle of Jojoba shampoo with a side handle. I remember having a brand spanking new dictionary/thesaurus box set that I was extremely proud of. And it turned out I was one of the few who brought a stapler with me to college.

 I was the oldest kid in my family. I had no idea what setting up a dorm room meant. I had no older siblings to educate me. Because Amanda is the middle child she has this awesome opportunity to be able to ask three older siblings about what she needs to take. As soon as I got to BYU I  needed my parents to quickly take my two annoying brothers and leave and stop embarrassing me all over BYU campus with their loud exclamations of memories from when they were there. (yeah, I was a mature 18 :) As soon as they finally left I missed them for a second and then started setting up my room. I was so in love with the comforter my mom had made for me. I carefully hung up my favorite Mormon ad poster, pictures of teddy bears, and a very interesting assortment of things that mattered to me. After I set up I started venturing out and meeting the girls on the second floor of May Hall in Helaman Halls. As I wandered from dorm room to dorm room it became painfully aware to me that I knew nothing about setting up a dorm room. Some of these girls had carpets they had brought to cover the dorm room carpet, baskets to carry their bathroom supplies down to the bathroom in, matching decorations, tv's, stereo's. This was the first experience I had with some serious house envy :) I bet those girls are ALL interior designers today :) I really did not learn anything from those feelings of inadequacy that I had. Because, as of tomorrow, I will have sent 4 kids off to college with nothing matching. Nothing expensive. Nothing awesome. I would if they would let me. But not one of these Baird children has asked for anything for their college experience. I bought Amanda some hotpads and a small very cheap package of silverware. She claims all she needs is a bowl and a spoon....cereal and Ramen...duh :) I have yet to raise a high maintenance child and it worries me so :) The oldest had to have things and for the most part those things have been passed on from sibling to sibling.

My kids always choose the cheapest housing. They live without dishwashers. They embrace mold in the showers. All they care about is saving money. I have no idea why. If my parents wanted to buy me some things for college or even just some things for right now in my 43 year old life I would hardly protest :)

I am going to miss Miss Amanda......
She is so great with details.
She has so many great practical ideas on how things can be done better
She is such a good example.
She embraces her naturally curly hair.
She always has decorating advice. I always ask her where to hang pictures and such.
She makes me smile with her crazy legs dance that she burst into randomly.
She love to intersperse Spanish with English when she can.
She can motivate like nobody's business.
The cat LOVES Amanda. She plays and plays and plays with it.
Amanda loves to take pictures and I will miss her willingness to take pictures and her need for them to be in perfect lighting.
If you want a running partner to motivate you Amanda is your girl.
She never wavers on whatever path she has chosen.
I love that she can send me a text from school and tell me exactly where to go to get the three things she forgot.
She has the most organized closet of anyone on the planet

Last week she earned her Young Women's Medallion which is not for the faint of heart and took her six years to earn.  I was so overwhelmed as I looked around the room at the people who had come to support her in her accomplishment. She really did not want any recognition at all.

She is the first Baird child to get to go all four years at the same high school.
I am not sure how Joe and I will get up for seminary now that she is gone. She would never let us miss a day.

She is off to new adventures. She will get to add to her growing list of true friends. She will have more chances to figure out who she is. She will see what it is like to live among tons of other Mormons.

 I hope she never forgets that even though she can be the loudest Baird child we all love her dearly for that and so much more. I do not know what Tatiana and Natalie will do without someone to do their hair in fun ways for them. And what I will do without someone to tell me my dress or skirt is a little too short :) I am proud of the way she dealt with the disappointment of not getting accepted to BYU Provo. I am proud of how determined she is to do what is right. And I will miss her chocolate covered pretzels :)

I hope she knows that I was the best mom I knew how to be and that I am by NO means perfect. So far they have thankfully all come back from college with a sweet understanding of this :) And I hope she forgives me for posting silly pictures of her when she was little on my blog :) And I hope she enjoys her hotpads and silverware :)

Aug 29, 2012

Ralph Lauren, Canning and So Much More.

Summer is almost over. It is true. I can tell. My awesome super power just happens to be, "sensing when the seasons are going to change" you can just call me "Seasongirl" for short.  You see the sun feels different and shines in different places. You can even catch different smells if you pay close attention. Okay, and the calendar does say it is the end of August and as I realized that I have also found myself thinking about my exiting summer and what we accomplished.

 At the beginning of summer I had Tatiana and Natalie make a list of what they wanted to do this summer. And we did a pretty good job at crossing things off their lists. We went to Niagra Falls. We went to the hill Cumorah Pageant. We went to New York City. We had way too many sleepovers and friends over... is it even possible to have too much of sleepovers and friends? We went to the beach twice. Their big brother came home for a few days with his wife. We went to our spot on the river a few times. We did not go to Six Flags but it is just about the only thing we did not do.

Then it got me wondering... forget what the kids did... what on earth did I accomplish this summer?

Well, I painted the basement. We bought our house brand spanking new about 4 and a half years ago and the walls in the basement were painted white... I have absolutely nothing against white but this white was the yucky flat paint that for some reason builders and occasionally husbands like to use. Every fingerprint of every person who has ever been in our house was on those walls....they were so dirty...every nerf bullet mark shot onto these walls was still say it was nasty would be a very fair statement. I have been dying to get my hands on these walls and fix them forever. The problem was I had no idea what color to paint them. I bought 6 different little jars of paint samples as I struggled to figure out what to paint this basement of mine. Thank goodness the paint sample jars are super cute. I confess it was not six color samples that were all similar shades...I mean it was not at all like I was trying to decide which shade of one color to paint... oh no it was a green, a blue, a yellow, a tan, a get the idea, right? I was miserable. Painting a basement is so different. You have to worry about lighting, feelings, and such....aaargghhh. Finally in sheer disgust and frustration I called my dear sister Rachel in Pennsylvania and asked her what color her basement was and she told me without hesitation Ralph Lauren Sisal and I said, "Do you like it?" She said she loved it. So I googled Ralph Lauren Sisal and you know how sometimes you just know something is true? I knew that Ralph Lauren Sisal was true the minute I laid my eyes on it. So I marched on over to Home Depot paint department, where they know me way too well, and asked them for a gallon of Ralph Lauren Sisal, in Behr paint, in semi gloss,....or was it satin? Oh well, I am not sure. But the moral of the story is I have a beautiful basement painted in Ralph Lauren Sisal.

I bought a hammock on Craigslist this summer. But I have not spent many a dreamy day laying in it like I had imagined I would....I have been too busy entertaining children and playing real life. Laying in the hammock is going to definitely be a, "the kids are back in school thing" I can just tell. I had never bought anything on Craigslist before and it was very addicting and way too much fun.I drove all the way to Pittsfield, Massachusetts by myself to look at it and did my very own bargaining and even came home with a bike rack for the car that got thrown in free just because I am so gosh darn good looking ....JK...about the good looking part....I would never ever joke about a free bike rack :) The hammock is a LL Bean hammock since name dropping about your hammock is of utmost importance :)  My goal for next summer is to sleep in it overnight outside. That just sounds so perfect.

I had a good garden this summer. Usually something goes epically wrong with my garden each year. But this year the peas were not eaten by bunnies. The lettuce did not get eaten by the bunnies. The beans did not get eaten by the bunnies. Do you see a continuing theme? Yes, fences are true :) I got a wheelbarrow full plus several 5 gallon buckets full of potatoes. WAY TO MANY BEANS were grown, shared, and sadly, even wasted. I capitalized that so you would picture the immense amount of beans I grew this year and know I was serious. Everytime I plant my rows of beans in the spring I worry that I do not have enough. I need to get over that fear. I always have more than enough beans. I even grew a few radishes this year. I canned 65 pints of tomatoes so far and if my math is right that means I can use about five jars a month and it will last me all year :) And the scary news is I still have at least 100 tomatoes left in the garden. Yeah, my summer often consists of picking, freezing or canning food...good times.

I spread mulch. I kept up on my two landscaping jobs better than I did last summer...yeah, remember last summer? Hopefully not :)

I did not get to hike as much as I wanted to this summer. I did not have a campfire every gosh dang night like I wanted you think there are awesome people out there who have a campfire every night? I need to meet these people and become their best friend. Six Flags New England amusement park was on my to do list also but never worked out :) I even have two kiddos who had enough money to buy their own tickets and it still did not work out.

OH well I guess there is always next summer :)

Aug 25, 2012

Okay, Remind Me Again.

Do you have things in your house that you love because of what they remind you of? I do. Tons. I love to be reminded. Did you know that the synonyms of remind are retrospect, emphasize, reminisce, and remember? Yeah, all good times. Okay, well most of the time I love to be reminded. I guess we all have some reminding that makes us sad but lets not talk about those times or things will make us sad :)

Tonight I grabbed my camera and wandered through the house taking pictures of things that remind me and enjoyed remembering what they remind me of.

The first thing I took a picture of is a blanket. I have owned this blanket a little over a year. I bought him in Utah last July. I have this group of friends that I met in Kansas many years ago and we formed a little sisterhood that I do not think can ever be broken and when we can we meet somewhere and spend a few days causing trouble shopping, eating and solving life's problems. This particular time we met in Utah. One night we were downtown Salt Lake City shopping and we wandered into a Coldwater Creek store. While I was wandering I found this blanket/quilt on super duper clearance and I adored it. I showed all the girlfriends my find but we all knew that I was not going to buy it even though it was under $20.00. I am just not that kind of girl and I can not explain why but trust me I am not and the girls know it. But they worked their magic and before I knew it I was purchasing the blanket (secretly thinking I would return it later) and guess what? They were right I still own the blanket and I needed the blanket. I honestly use it everyday. It went to girls camp with me. It went on the pioneer trek with me. And every night I sit on my couch reading or computering (yes, computering is definitely a word) with it. When I use it it reminds me of Julie, Shannon, Kathy, Alyson and Kristy. It reminds me that I do have friends that unconditionally love me or at least fake it well :) It makes me smile when I think of all the excuses they gave me to help me justify the purchase. Usually a blanket has reminding qualities because someone made it for you and put work into it but let it be known that that is a myth and that a store bought blanket can conjurer up some good reminding all on its me.

The next thing I took a picture of was rocks. I have a very special jar full of rocks and sand dollars, sitting on my bedside table, that all mean something to me. I started this annoying rock collecting habit when I was a kid and we were at a beach in Washington State and I found these rocks that looked like M&M's. Why would finding M&M rocks not inspire someone to start a lifetime quest to gather important rocks? I have a rock from an old boyfriends grandma's lake house driveway (whew that was a mouthful). I have rocks people got for me from special places they went. I have rocks from hikes. But the ones that started it all and remind me of my awesome childhood are these M&M rocks. I wish you could hold them in your hand and feel their perfect smoothness and perfect likeness to M&M's. I remember the beach was covered with them and oh how they delighted me.

This candle reminds me of Princeton, New Jersey. We lived in Princeton University housing on Bayard Lane in Princeton. It was our first unfurnished real world housing after leaving Provo. I really had not yet gathered many of the kinds of things that do not have a function but are simply in your home to gather dust. We invited my husbands boss (head of Princeton Library) and his wife over for dinner one night and they brought us a gift and it was this candle. I was fascinated with this concept of bringing a gift when you go to dinner. I assumed it was an east coast thing. I was fascinated that the candle came with a snuffer. Do you know what a snuffer is? It is a way to put out the candle without blowing on it. And strangely having something like this made me feel grown up. Oh yeah I had some candles laying around but not all the candle accessories...the stand...the snuffer....the candle...and the clear piece that fit in the stand that the candle rested in. It left me needing nothing. It was complete. And I do love that feeling.....complete...yeah, good times. None of that needing to buy something to complete something. I had it ALL :) I have carefully moved this candle, its stand, and the snuffer from house, to house, to house. And it reminds me about bringing something when you go to dinner. It reminds me of Princeton. It reminds me of colonial times which I have always had a fascination with. I should probably get over it and light this candle all little more often than I do....I mean I have had it for 20 years after all :)

I actually took pictures of several other things that remind me of some seriously good times, places, and things but I think I will save them for another time so we do not overdo the reminding theme. I would hate for my blog to remind you of misery :)

Aug 23, 2012

All You Ever Wanted To Know About The Ladies.

I feel like I have owned chickens forever. But then I count back to May 8 and realize they are not even four months old. They arrived on a much anticipated Tuesday and Tatiana happened to be home from school so she and I grabbed a cardboard box with some pine shavings in the bottom of it and hurried to the Feed store in our hometown. We left the Feed store with two golden chicks, one deep red chick, two black chicks and one white chick. They were so fluffy, they made that peeping chick sound, and we were so excited to be chick mommies. We rigged up their heating lamp at just the right height above the chicks enormous, blue, Rubbermaid box home. We figured out the food. We figured out the water. We added pine shavings. And then we stood around breathing down their necks watching their every move. Everyday was an adventure. We proudly showed the chicks to anyone and everyone.

I was so amazed at how fast they grew. And I also was amazed at how devoted my 10 and 12 year old have been to these chickens. Everyday when I wake up I think to myself, "Will today will be the day they grow tired of the chickens?" But it has not happened yet. Maybe in the dead of winter when it is miserably cold? Time will tell. But for now, the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do in the evening is chicken related. And many times in the middle of the day I will look at the window and see one of my girls or both of them wandering the yard holding a chicken or sitting in the hammock holding a chicken, or chasing a chicken. These chickens do not know any other life than being constantly held and played with by Tatiana and Natalie. I can imagine what would happen if they ever met other chickens and chatted and found out that their little chicken lives are not normal.

The chickens have a coop that the man of the house made for them. They have a little chicken yard. They even have a chicken playpen....yes, chickens apparently need accessories. The playpen was necessary because they ate every bug and every piece of grass in their chicken yard and they need to be able to scratch and eat bugs to occupy their time. I have tried letting them roam the yard and the woods but they can not keep away from my neighbors blueberries and my perennials. So we find ourselves moving the playpen from spot to spot in our yard and in our woods  so that our royal chickennesses are not bored to death in their chicken yard. I can not believe I am worried about my chickens being bored. But I am. A bored chicken is not a happy chicken. It happens to be a chicken that starts to pick on its friends.

The chickens have a fearless leader and her name is Henrietta, she is a White Leghorn chicken and she is a very bad chicken. She is the one who we found nonchalantly sitting on the neighbors fence. She is the one we found mockingly sitting on the top of the chicken coop. She is the one who daringly ate the neighbors blueberries. She is the one who is always out of the pen while everyone else is in it. She is the one who is always on the back porch peering through the sliding glass doors at the humans in the house. Chickie, Frango, Kip, Pepper, and  Grace all love to tattle on Henrietta. They run along frantically clucking trying to tell anyone who will listen that Henrietta is breaking all the rules. One day when I was laying in my hammock in the back yard I sensed it was not the force.... I opened my eyes and there was Henrietta the white leghorn chicken walking carefully along the top wooden bar of my hammock. I just stared with my mouth agape as she carefully moved each chicken leg along the wooden bar and then flew down when she reached the end of the bar. She is a very cocky chicken and I have to keep my eye on her. Can you just tell she is trouble by the picture I took of her. She just marches right up to the camera.

I never meant for these chickens to be free range chickens but I love the joy it brings them to be let out of their pen. They all burst out of the pen and run as fast as their fat chicken legs will allow. Hurrying to see who will get the bugs first. I feel so bad when I see them longingly looking over the fence at the greener grass and more plentiful bugs. I cannot deny that they are causing a little bit of trouble by scratching by the roots of some of my dear perennial plants which is why I am looking very forward to the time when the garden will be done producing veggies and I can throw the ladies inside that fence and let them scratch all around to their hearts content knowing they are not harming anything.

The chickens do not lay eggs yet. The word on the street is that they will start laying them when they are about six months old. We are looking forward to that time. We already have customers lined up for their eggs. And I have seen the most adorable egg cartons that have six egg spots not 12 or 18 just an adorable 6.

Now that we have these chickens I have become very aware of all things chicken....why did the chicken cross the road jokes,chicken art, and of course all the chicken sayings that are a part of all of our that I have observed these chickens I understand all these sayings.....

fly the coop
birds of a feather flock together
walking on eggshells
nest egg
scratching out a living
hen pecked
rule the roost
not everything its cracked up to be

the list goes on and on and on.

I hope the chickens don't think I am going to hold them the whole time the kids are at school. I hope that Henrietta learns to value choosing the right. I am uber excited about the compost possibilities that have arrived with the chickens. I also love knowing they are chowing down on bugs in my yard. And I love what my kiddos are learning....about chickens....and life :) Okay, and I am having a bit of fun with them too. I went outside the other day in my apron with my hair piled every which way on top of my head to dump some stuff in my snazzy new compost bin and I came upon a chicken who looked like it needed me so I picked it up and it laid its head on my shoulder like it was trying to tell me that it longed to rule the roost or maybe she was telling me that living with Henrietta is like walking on eggshells all the time. Whatever it was my kids caught the chicken snuggling with me and insisted on taking my picture. UGH...caught paying attention to the chickens :)

Aug 21, 2012

Mein Hut.

How can I catch you up on my life since I last blogged in May? Where to start? Where to start? I have been sitting here on my couch, ever so still, attempting to grab the first thought that comes to my mind and blog about it. It is nearly impossible to grab just one thought....sigh, especially when you are me and especially when you have the handicap of recently learning that you simply can not share all of your thoughts with just anyone. I think I have decided I could tell you about my new hat that seems like a very safe place to start communicating again :)

I have always wanted a hat but was never quite sure what kind I would look good in. I think that I was in high school when I discovered the joy of hats. I am drawing this conclusion because I know I had one in high school but I have no idea where or how I got it. Yes, I wore it to high school. There are a few pictures of me in the yearbook wearing it if I would need to ever prove it to you. Sadly all it proves is that I had absolutely no fashion sense. It was a plain straw hat with a ribbon. And my memory and the pictures I found tell me nothing more about it.I wish I knew when and how and where I bought it and if my mom tried to talk me out of it. I cringe a little when I distinctly remember wearing it to a very important high school basketball game where our basketball team played in the state tournament at an arena in Seattle. All of us who wanted to go to the game went on a big bus and everyone else on that big bus knew to wear our high school colors in some basketball game appropriate attire but I was in some other land and I wore a dress and my hat...yes, to the basketball game. I think I had a brief moment while walking down the bleachers to my seat that the thought that I was possibly a spectacle and not normal flitted through my mind but the thought definitely did not hang around and make itself comfortable in my mind. Which was a huge blessing. I think the saying is, ignorance is bliss :) I have no idea where this hat went or when I decided it was a fashion faux paux. I do wish I could remember.

My next hat owning experience was just a few years ago when I had the notion that if I had a hat to wear to the beach it would protect my head from getting sunburned and my face from getting too much sun. These are notions I should have had years ago but hopefully better late than never is in my favor. I am not sure where I got the hat I ended up with but it was not very well made and looking back on pictures of me in it it was not the best looking hat.

Finally we arrive at Summer 2012 and this summer the pioneer trek that I got to go on was the perfect excuse to finally put a lot of effort and thought and possibly even money into buying a hat. Once I freed my mind of the possibility of there being a rule that I would have to wear a pioneer bonnet I immediately found myself thinking of the display of hats that I had often walked by at the lawn and garden store in our town. I have been known to stop by this display of hats and stare longingly at them. There are all different shapes of them and all different sizes of ribbons on them and I have wanted to try them on but the display has a small problem..its mirror is a very small rectangle "fake" mirror that is way too high for me to ever see myself in it. I  know I tried. I confess, I finally did something I have never done before and ever so carefully unattached the mirror and set it down lower but it really never could give me a clear view of the hats I tried on so I finally decided to chance it, just choose a hat, and take it home...a very crazy thing to do :) I put this crazy moment off until a few days before Trek since it was a $24.00 hat...shhhh don't tell anyone I am a little mortified about this fact :) But let me tell you when I got the hat home and tried it on in front of my enormous, real glass, mirror from Ikea I knew I had Jennifer's hat. It did not even matter what others saw when they saw me in the hat all that mattered was when I put the hat on all my dreams came true.

My hat had a busy summer. It went with me on Trek. It went with me to Girls Camp. It attended fireworks in Springfield....yes, it was dark but I just needed to wear it. It has been to the beach and to an outdoor performance in Chicopee. It even got to see Niagra Falls and Palmyra, New York. I have several pictures of me in the hat but none of me alone with the hat. So here is one with some of my peeps...I am int he one in the hat :)

May 22, 2012

Can You See It?

Do you ever wish you could see through someone else's eyes? I wish I could pretty much every second of every day. I am always wondering what the people around me are seeing. It seems that most of the time the way I act is driven by the excitement of what I see and how desperately I want to share it with pretty much everyone. I have realized this is why it is so hard for me to do things alone. I do not want to have all the joy of something amazing to myself I need to share it. The funny thing is usually when I end up getting to share my amazing hike, shop, book, music, etc not many people see it the same way I do anyway :) But enough of the touchy feely view sharing stuff ... just sit back,close your eyes, and let me see if I can paint a good picture of my weekend for you. ( Yeah, I know if you close your eyes you can't read this so it's okay if you do not obey ...just this once :)

 Last Friday I left my house at 4pm. I dropped off my 16 year old at a friends house so he could go camping  and then I headed off to pick up three of my friends who were going with me to Vermont. As I gathered my friends up from their houses each of their amazing and different personalities made me smile. How they say goodbye to their kids. The way they pack. Where they like to sit in the car. All that information that endears.

 It was a beautiful day....I am searching for the very best blue describing words to describe the sky.... and then I need describing words for the endless shades of green that were everywhere your eye could see. The only bad part of amazingness like this is it makes you think of people you long to share it with...bless their hearts.  But I won't go into that :) I love to be on the road..ahem...going 80 mph as the sun is setting. The way the light is at that time of day speaks to me. Geesh, do other people wax poetic when they are taking a silly road trip on a beautiful day? Seriously. Anyhow, when you drive on Route 91 North from my house towards Vermont there are pretty much only trees and mountains. A few cities....maybe 4 of them...on the entire 4 hour drive to the tippy top of Vermont. The freeway goes up mountains and down mountains, and up mountains and down mountains, over, and over, and over, again :) I totally get now why Vermont is called the Green Mountain truly is SOLID green and no particular order :) Whoever came up with that did not win a medal for their observation skills :)

So pull out your maps and find route 91 slicing through skinny Vermont and part way up the state you will see Route 89 meeting Route 91 ever so nicely. We stopped in this area for the night. We actually ate dinner in New Hampshire...these states are SO, SO skinny that a girl can do that :) We did all the things a proper girl slumber party at a hotel far far away form real life consists of....laughing, eating, talking about boys, throwing up, comparing pajamas oh, and more laughing. Hanging in the back of all of our minds was our 6.2 mile run that was the next day so we went to bed about 11.

I woke up first. I always do. It was about 5:00am. Every time I wake up in a hotel room I have an overwhelming desire to immediately throw open the curtains. Those hotel curtains are so heavy and dark and I want to see the day. But I refrained from doing this since I want my friends to like me :) I felt anxious since I had not driven to Derby, Vermont before and was not sure how long it would take us. The race started at 9:10 am and registration was open from 6:30am to 8:30am. So my need to get going was very strong. But I tried to be mellow about it since no one else seemed too bothered :)

We got on the road at about 6:20 am in the morning (yes, I know AM and morning mean the same thing :) which happens to be another of my most favorite times to be on 91 North in Vermont going 80-85 mph. It was another gorgeous day and morning light from MR.Sun is almost as awesome as evening light in my book.

We got to the race location at about 8:10am. We got all registered and asked questions and people watched. It is so fun to watch a group of runners and see right away which ones care about winning and which ones don't :)

I felt a little nervous because I have run 5 miles before but never 6.2. Which is totally my bad. I should have been a little better prepared for this race. But this race was symbolic in many ways and the only goal I had was to run the whole way...not fast just steady. I had my headphones.I had my music. I had my determination. I had my new running clothes. I had my old running shoes. I was as ready as I could be. I felt really good as the race began and I settled into a slow but steady pace. There were two pretty good hills in the beginning. But they did not cause me too much trouble. We ran around a shimmering lake, beautiful homes, fields with dandelions in them, through woods, next to a babbling brook, on dirt roads, on sidewalks, through a small town, and past a stately cemetery. I stayed pretty close to my friend Gail. We didn't talk but it was nice to know there was someone who would know if you stopped running :) I felt pretty good the whole race. The sun felt hot. I confess I would probably adore a 6.2 mile run in Alaska. I am a cold weather girl.

When I was close to that finish line it felt so empowering to know I had almost made it. I have been informally asking people the last few months what made them embrace running and it has been fascinating to me all the different stories I have heard of what made people turn to running. How it helped them overcome numerous things. I thought a lot during my run of what had lead me to this point where I was running 6.2 miles in a blue adidas shirt alongside a dear friend who literally saved me this past year. The experiences I had in evil 2011 made me determined to set some goals and figure out who I am. Thankfully, this run helped me to determine that I do like running...or maybe it is just crossing the finish line that I like? :) I am going to try a few more races and see if running races truly is a Jennifer thing. I already know that Jennifer races have to  have a view and a clever name :) Not just any old race through any old town or city. I need my races to be and my high expectations :)

After the race we were served lunch by the people who organized the race. So we sat on the banks of a beautiful lake next to the finish line and ate. Then we decided we needed to see the course for the half marathon (13 miles) so we got in the car and drove it. And I must tell you it was impressively hilly. It had many more dandelion fields than our 10K did. Some breathtaking views. And I am mulling over the idea of attempting it next year. Yes, I said next year and I said mulling. The Dandelion Run is most definitely a tradition.

I would love to post pictures but a teenager in my home crashed my laptop so I am blogging from a computer that does not have my pictures on it. I will post them when I can. But you must trust me it was a beautiful day in Vermont. We meandered our way back to Massachusetts. We checked out the Canadian border which was a paltry five miles away from our run. We stopped at the Joseph Smith Birthplace in Sharon Vermont. And drove into Massachusetts at about 6:15 in the evening. I was feeling so grateful for dear friends who love you no matter what. Who are willing to admit that they are searching for the meaning of life too :) Who are not ashamed to throw up in front of you. Who will enthusiastically sign up to go with you for a 6.2 mile run that happens to be a four hour drive away in Vermont. It meant the world to me.

May 11, 2012

Logistics Queen!!

I am the logistics queen young and sweet only 43....sing with me :) Ever since I was about this big I have been a detail girl, add in the fact that I love to ask questions and then mix it with my stomach that gets upset if I am late to something and voila you have a pain in the neck for a friend.

What are logistics anyway? The dictionary says logistics means the planning, implementation and coordination of details. I confess those three words just may be my middle name. Yes, it is true....the minute I was born my parents declared that I was Jennifer Ann Planning Implementation Coordination Ord. I think in sixth grade when I attempted to take over the planning, implementation and coordination of the sixth grade talent show they shortened all that to busybody :) I think when I was a senior in high school and a class officer for my class at Snohomish High School they probably had some adorable describing words for me too. I have tortured many a friend with my planning, implementation, and coordinating personality. I have never, ever, ever, ever felt loved and appreciated for it. I have always imagined it drove people crazy. But then a miracle happened ........

I got asked to help with the logistics...remember that means planning, implementation and coordination :) for our stakes pioneer trek for our youth ages 12-18 this coming July. And I think something is wrong with me because I am adoring every single minute of figuring out this enormous puzzle. To transport 120 people on trails with handcarts in pioneer clothes for three days requires a lot of details. I keep asking the leaders of this enormous activity if I am driving them crazy with all my information gathering and strangely the answer so far has been a resounding no. What? My personality quirks are useful and maybe even appreciated? CRAZY TALK :) I will not let it go to my head. But I am grateful that I am able to actually be helpful with these abilities  I have that usually drive people stark raving mad.

I have a special trek folder on my computer and as of tonight it has 150 e-mails in it. Every morning I wake up and spend two hours e-mailing and phone calling about porta potties, locations, buses, water tanks and oh so much more. I feel useful. I feel helpful. I feel content. They worry they have given me too much but I strangely do not feel that at all.

So logistics I can definitely do. But never ever put me in charge of emotions....that would be an epic fail :)

May 1, 2012

Eighteen !!!

Now as much as I know you would enjoy it I am not planning on blogging about my life when I was eighteen, I am not even blogging about my eighteen most embarrassing eighteen favorite food lists blog is titled eighteen because it is eighteen days until I get in my car with 4 friends and drive to Derby,Vermont.

Why am I driving to Derby Vermont? Two words...Dandelion Run. I wonder why all of us when we need to prove something, conquer something, if life kicks us down, or we just plain need to feel awesome about ourselves we decide to run? I am so curious about this. I am also so part of this phenomenon. My first inclination when the life kicking me down thing came was to run a Ragnar Relay. I wanted to do this with all my might. But gathering a team of 12 people who want to part with a $100.00 entry fee plus another $100.00 in incidentals. Plus running for around 48 hours. Plus having no sleep was way harder than I ever imagined it would be. Plus, I was running Ragnar for the wrong reasons so I decided it was not Ragnar time for Jennifer. Oh, it will be Ragnar time one day...don't you worry your pretty little head. For the first time in Jennifer's life Jennifer was realistic and it was truly an amazing sight to behold :)

When I realized Ragnar was not working for me I started googling "beautiful half marathons in New England." It took awhile to find a run that was not on Sunday. But finally I found this run in Derby, Vermont called the Dandelion Run and, seriously, they had me at the word dandelion. So for $25.00 I am running 6.2 miles on May 19th with at least 4 friends. I know it is not a half marathon but I am so excited about my first 10K ever. It is my first race that is more than a 100 yd dash. It is in a little town that is about two miles from the Canadian Border. "It is run on back roads through farms and forests on dirt roads through uncut fields blanketed with thousands and thousands of dandelions" yes, I quoted :) This area where the run is is apparently one of the first areas ever to be designated by National Geographic as one of the first geotourism areas in the world.....I am all about geotourism....hmmmm what does that even mean? This is not even the best part...there is more....the race is run in conjunction with the Dandelion Festival of Bluegrass Old Country and Fiddle Music...which means there will be pickers and fiddlers all along the race playing music while I am huffing and puffing up the very hilly course :)

I feel a tradition coming on. I already know I have to do this every year. My husband got me and my peeps a hotel room in the closest city to the run possible....which puts us still about an hour away from the race :) We are going to drive up Friday night and run Saturday morning.

I am a little worried and a little afraid but I am also determined. I hope I am ready. I have been running 3 times a week. And this week I have been running 3 miles one day and biking 6 miles the next day...alternating :) I have no idea what to expect from this run. All I know is when I go to, no dot com for the dandelion run people strictly dot org people here :) and look at all the pictures from last years race I feel so happy......looky, here is the link so you can feel happy too and better yet so you can join me next year.

I expect that my life will still have trials and struggles when I am done with this race. I expect that I will still wonder why there are so many things I do not understand. I expect that I will still secretly wonder if anyone really likes me. I expect my teenagers will still be unkind to me. I expect bunnies will still try to eat my plants in my yard. I expect that I will still wake up in the middle of the night worrying about things I cannot change. But I feel like I will have made a teeny tiny step in learning about Jennifer...and that is really what it is all about right? ME :)

 I can not wait to show you pictures of my race...I can not wait to have one of those little rectangles with my race number pinned on me....I can not wait to get my t-shirt....oh and my medal :) And most importantly see fields of dandelions while I am should totally come with me :)

Apr 30, 2012

This Time Of Year

It is that time again....

Wrestle with the lawn time
Order loads of pine mulch time.
Order loads of topsoil time
Stand and stare at the garden willing the seeds to come up time.
Fight the weeds time.
Feel the thrill when things reappear after winter time.
Sheepishly try to cover up your dirty fingernails in public time.
Say bad words about rabbits time
Lug the enormous heavy hoses around the yard time

I love yard work/ garden time with all my might. I find myself coming home from something and getting out of the car and not heading into the house but heading into the yard where I will sheepishly realize after about twenty minutes that yes, I am weeding the yard in my dress.

Let me update you on what is happening. You know you want to hear all about it :)

 On the garden front my potatoes, peas, lettuce, onions and radishes are all up and growing. It makes me supremely happy to open the new gate to my garden and close the new gate to my garden and not find one single nibbled on veggie behind that fence. Take that bunnies!

 I have decided that this year I will carefully do everything the seed package says to do. So I measured everything when I planted and I thinned everything as it came up. I HATE thinning. It just seems wrong to pick a teeny tiny lettuce when it has not yet met his potential. But I think I finally understand that it has to be done. My lettuce has not done so well the last few years and I am determined to figure that out which is why I decided to follow the instructions perfectly....just so I can say I have :)

Every year I find myself worrying about my potatoes wondering if they will come up. They seem to take forever. This year I confess that I dug down to see if they were still there and if they were doing anything. I profusely apologized to the poor potato when I found he was doing the growing thing just fine just slower than I had expected. I have about 50 potato plants. And my experiment this year is fingerling potatoes which I am very excited about.

The next update is on the berries. I worry deeply about the raspberries. I should probably join a raspberry support group. I am not sure if I get the whole pruning thing and I worry every year that I have ruined them by cutting them back at the wrong time or too much. Thankfully so far, they seem to not need a perfect life to be happy. I should learn from my raspberries.

The blueberries have yet to produce many berries for me in the four years I have owned them. I have 5 blueberry bushes. I read a lot about blueberry bushes this winter and what they need to be happy and I provided all I could for them and I am very hopeful because this year they all look tall and happy.

I had the most amazing strawberry patch last year. I had plenty of berries to freeze but everything had gone crazy and I could not abide the fact that I did not have nice neat rows of strawberries. It was so hard to get into the middle of my patch of berries to weed and pick the berries..... So I dug up every single strawberry plant last year with plans to replant them in rows. But I had a most difficult Fall and the strawberry plants never got replanted. I should probably go to jail for that. This year I added topsoil and compost and replanted 25 strawberry plants in nice neat rows and I am determined that it will stay nice and neat.

The lawn is my nemesis. Every year I learn something new about it....okay, and something new about myself. This year I am facing the evil Dr. Crabgrass. I think I have successfully killed it because now I have huge brown dirt spots in my lawn. I have planted grass seed and I am faithfully watering it but it has not come up yet so I am fretting a bit. I have even resorted to crawling around on my hands and knees and pulling weeds out of the lawn. If things do not improve this year I may have to humble myself and sign up for a lawn service. I do not think I can take this ugly lawn thing much longer.

In the beds in the front of my house the builders of the house threw some shrubs to make the house look surfacely perfect so it would sell. They definitely did not overthink the shrubs they chose :) They are shrubs that will grow very big and take over the front of the house and I decided to dig them up last year in the Fall. I spent all winter staring at these beds dreaming of what I would put there. Of course my dreams involve the most difficult of all shrubs...hydrangeas. I love them too much to not try. So I have two hydrangeas....two purple sand cherry tree/shrubs....several salvia..and some shasta daisies.

It is funny how every year I learn a little more. Every year there is a new battle. Every year there are parallels galore between the garden/yard and my life. Yes, I will tell you if you are the evil crabgrass in my life :)

Apr 8, 2012

Guess Who Is Coming?

I am so excited!! I am having company this week. I do not get company much. I am not really sure why. I try not to over think that question. I thought that living close to Boston, New York City, Norman Rockwell's birthplace, countless Revolutionary War sites, Walden Pond, mountains, beaches and famous sports teams would help with the company thing. But not so much. What makes you want to visit someone? What makes you feel like you would do whatever it takes to visit someone? What makes it so that regardless of the sleeping arrangements, the condition of the towels in the bathroom, or the cold cereal for breakfast you still want to see someone? I am not really sure but all I know is......

My sister Rebecca is coming!! And how do I treat her now that she is coming? I most likely embarrass her with a blog about her. Yeah, and I wonder why no one comes to see me :)

 I was almost three years old when number one of my five siblings arrived. It truly rocked my world. I was the superstar...number 1....the oldest....the only one... numero uno.... and then rudely there were two of us... someone else trying to get on the stage of life with me. I was deeply bothered. And I don't think I was ever nice to this sister of mine.

 I tried to burn her with a curling iron when we were teenagers.

 When we were little our parents would have all of us sing together in church and the way she would add vibrato to her voice would drive me freaking crazy. I was sure she did it to annoy me.

 When I declared my favorite animal was a horse so did Rebecca so I had to change my favorite animal to a bear all because of her :) Yes, this was as traumatic as it sounds :)

 She loved animals and raised pigs for 4-H and made tons of money selling her piglets.

 I stayed in the house and played the piano, read books and sang along at the top of my lungs to Barbara Streisand albums.

 I once tried to kick my shoe at her and she ducked and it went out the window and broke the window.

 She always had utmost control and I was always trying to make her show some anger.....she never did.

 She ran track and won. I ran track and gave up.

She always borrowed my clothes without asking.
 Is the picture of sibling love emerging? :)

Aren't you relieved that my jealousy and frustration at how perfect she is has finally given way to simply loving and admiring the pants off her ? :) If I could get just a quarter of  Rebecca's determination I could conquer the world.

Last summer Rebecca was living in Bangkok with her family... she came back to the states for the summer and while she was back in the states she ran the Seattle Marathon... after she ran it she learned that she had qualified for the Boston Marathon. YAY! Then in the Fall of last year after Rebecca was back in Bangkok living her little old life there she found out she had annoying, evil breast cancer. Her family ended up coming back to the states so she could deal with the cancer thing.

Through all of the yuckiness that comes with dealing with cancer my sister Rebecca has continued to be determined to run the Boston Marathon. I have watched with amazingness as she has been training all through her chemotherapy and now through her radiation treatments. Every time I get ready to go run my measly 3 or 4 miles or face my seemingly devastating trials and I lift my head from the pavement to moan to myself "I can not do this" I immediately think of my darling determined sister. I feel so blessed to have her great example in my life. I have always felt like she could have done the older sister/good example thing so much better than I have :) I wonder what I conned her out of when we were in heaven so I could be the oldest here on earth? :) I really can not put all the right words together to effectively express how incredible she is.

 I know that only she knows how she has struggled through this and that knowledge makes it so none of us ever feels comfortable accepting compliments on how we are handling hard times in our lives. But I think Aunt Rebecca should accept all the compliments she gets on the way she has dealt with her breast cancer and running the Boston Marathon. If you are that curious about her awesomeness you can look over on the side of my blog and click on the blog entitled Seven Farmers and then you can read for yourself how great my sister is.

Awesome Rebecca with Mom and Dad.
But enough of the mushy stuff ..... trust me, Ord's do not do the mushy, touchy feely, lovey thing......ever! Well, lets say...rarely  :)

 The Boston Marathon is April the 16th... yes, in eight days, and Aunt Rebecca, Uncle David, and a couple of their kids will be dropping by on their way to Boston. I am so excited to see them. I am so eternally proud of my sister. And I promise I will not try to kick my shoe at her while she is long as she does not borrow any of my clothes :)