Feb 28, 2012

"Muchness" And Jabberwockies.

Remember Alice In Wonderland? Remember when Alice gets to Wonderland and all the creatures are debating about whether the white rabbit brought back the right Alice or not? I knew you remembered :)

 You see, it was very important that the right Alice  was brought to Wonderland because the right Alice was needed to slay the Jabberwocky and save them all from the Red Queen. The wrong Alice would not be able to do that. The minute Alice hears that the right Alice is destined to slay the Jabberwocky she declares without hesitation that she is definitely not the right Alice. She keeps insisting when anyone mentions it that she could, "not slay the Jabberwocky even if she wanted too." Johnny Depp AKA the Mad Hatter finally has a heart to heart chat with Alice and he tells her straight up:

 "You are not the same as you were before.... you were much more muchier.... you have lost your muchness." Alice questions, "My muchness?" Yes, he says, pointing to her heart "In there, something is missing."

 Why I had missed this glorious gem when I had watched Alice And Wonderland the two times before last Sunday I do not know. You probably already know that you get different things out of reading a certain book or watching a certain movie each additional time you do it according to where happen to be in your adorable life. And at this point in Jennifer's adorable life the discussion on "muchness" in Alice And Wonderland pierced my very soul :) Was using the words pierced and soul too dramatic for you? :) Sorry! But I had to impress upon you the instant realization I had that I had lost my "muchness." Ugh no wonder I could not slay the nasty Jabberwocky. I am pretty sure I had "muchness" when I was eleven... I lost it... and then I am certain I had it between 16 and 19 and then without even knowing it I lost it again.....that ever elusive "muchness."

After listening to her dear friends, including Absolem the blue caterpillar, who straightforwardly declares things to Alice like:

 "I can't help you if you don't even know who you are, stupid girl."


 "You're almost Alice."

 And the white rabbit who says when he sees her:

 "Well if it isn't the wrong Alice."

 Alice finally determines she actually is the right Alice and that she can slay the Jabberwocky. Thank goodness for friends!! Friends who are there for you when, at the moment, you can not find where you have put your muchness but they know without a doubt you have it and will find it again. Friends who can call you stupid girl :) I love that I have some friends like that.

 Having "muchness" is a little scary. It requires action and courage. It means making choices. I love when Alice finally does something hard that she did not want to do and she exclaims, "How is that for muchness? You all know Alice finally slays the Jabberwocky and frees Wonderland from the reign of the Red Queen.Then she makes a hard choice to leave Wonderland and her dear friends and go back up the rabbit hole to her real world. When she gets back she tells everyone what she really thinks in a kind and matter of fact way. She tells Hamish she can not marry him because he is not the right one for her. She tells her sister that she loves her but it is her life and she will decide what to do with it. She found her "muchness" and thus is true to herself.

I think you find your "muchness" when you do hard things. It is a truly invigorating feeling when you are true to who you are and you do not care what others think or say even when they are so dreadfully off base and so wrong that the pain they cause you in their judgements is overwhelming. I have been ever so slowly learning about this. In our move to Massachusetts I have often felt like Alice in Wonderland. So many experiences that I have never had at any other time in my life.....so bewildering...I kept thinking I would wake up from this odd dream just like Alice kept thinking she would wake up. But instead of waking up I have learned amazing things about my muchness which has turned out to be way better than waking up. And  finally I am ever so looking forward to slaying some Jabberwocky's ! Here's to muchness!! I hope you found yours :)

Feb 24, 2012

A Day In Vermont.

The view of the back of one of the buildings at Joseph Smith Birthplace.
About four weeks ago I planned yesterday. It is winter break in New England and I wanted to plan at least one fun thing for me, Tatiana, and Natalie to do. If gas prices were not so silly I would have planned many more fun things. But I had to be happy with one. I know the purpose of winter break in New England is for people to take a break from winter and go south for warmth but we are not true New Englander's and we blissfully headed North to Vermont. We live two hours and 10 minutes from South Royalton, Vermont which is where Joseph Smith's birthplace is. I have been to all of the Mormon church history sites multiple times and this one continues to be my second favorite. It is a calm, incredibly peaceful place on the top of a mountain surrounded by trees. The tour guides always have great stories. It is rarely crowded there... yesterday we actually got the whole place to ourselves ....although I confess I always visit when there is still snow on the ground so maybe that is why it is never crowded....is there ever not snow on the ground in Vermont? :)

 The drive to Vermont from Massachusetts is amazing.....I think you pass about 50 buildings the entire way :) Yes, I am exaggerating :) But it truly is tree, after tree, after tree, after tree but that is not even the best part. The best part is the mountain after mountain. And then the very tall bridges you drive across are at least the third best part. The views are inspiring. It makes me long to be a photographer.....which I am most assuredly not :) I confess I have never taken this drive when the trees have actually had leaves on them and I still think it is one of the most beautiful drives ever. You pass lots of moose crossing signs and a few bear crossing signs that never cease to make me long for a good bear or moose story :) Actually all the signs said Moose Crossing and then all of a sudden we passed this one sign that simply declared "Moose".....it made me smile and muse out loud about why the word crossing did not make it to that sign :)

After we checked out everything in the visitors center, watched the, totally worth your time, hour long movie about Joseph Smith's life and soaked up all the peacefulness we could we loaded up the big 15 passenger van and added another hour of driving onto our day so that we could say we had been to the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Can you see Tatiana and Natalie? :)
 Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory has been on my to do list for a long time and I was determined to make it there this time I was in Vermont. I think it was totally worth my time. I do not know why I was surprised at how you could not look anywhere at Ben and Jerry's without seeing black and white cow patterns..... they are, without a doubt, very loyal to the source of their main ingredient for their ice cream. There were cows drawn on the walls everywhere and employees dressed in cow print togas (to celebrate the new Greek frozen yogurt) and so forth all mixed in with lots of other colors....very colorful place. Since it was Vermont it probably goes without saying that the factory was on top of a hill. The tour was not to long and not to short...just right. I got all the facts that my mind seems to crave...top ten ice cream flavors...when free cone day is...that they got their money for their new plant from offering a Vermont residents only public stock offering.....and all other sort of things that I will not bore you with but I could have a somewhat intelligent conversation with you about Ben and Jerry's if you like :) The flavor we got to sample at the end of the tour involved mint and chocolate chunks so I was supremely happy.....it was a very generous sample but I got greedy and ended up making the mistake of ordering a small cone of the aforementioned flavor and making myself sick...no one can accuse Ben and Jerry's of skimping on their serving sizes...it took me forever to finish that small cone. When we came out of the tour it was snowing like crazy. I have no idea why it delighted me to be at an ice cream factory eating ice cream while it was seriously snowing but it did. I missed seeing the graveyard that they have for retired flavors so I will be going back to Ben and Jerry's in the future...maybe I will actually go when the leaves are on the trees and there is not a hint of snow so I can give you my opinion of Vermont in another season :)

Feb 20, 2012

Yes, I "Pin It" Do You?

It really is so NOT me to blog about crafts. It also is so not me to be proud of a craft I made. But I must tell you about what I have made that I am a little bit proud of :) It all started with the evil, addictive Pinterest. Actually I should take that back....the evil part...not the addictive part...because addictive is oh so true but evil not so much. You see I can justify the addictive because it is useful addictive not destructive addictive (which I regret to inform you I am also an expert in :)  It is useful because now when I Google building a fence, making a brick walkway, sewing curtains, painting my trim, a recipe, a place I want to take the kids, silly or meaningful quotes, a book I do not want to forget to read I can "pin it" to one of my boards on Pinterest and it is all in one place and I can find it again easily. Having all the things I love all in one place has also strangely motivated me to be productive. I think it is another way I justify Pinterest. You know if you actually accomplish what you "pin" then it is useful...right? :)

 Okay, enough of that let me get to the whole point of this blog.....drum roll...I, Jennifer, made a faux vintage stained glass window last week. What? Let me explain how this happened... another fun part of Pinterest is seeing what other people love and have chosen to "pin" on their boards and then having the chance to "repin" what they have "pinned" onto your boards.Whew, so many words to try to describe this glorious process :) I have no idea where I got this stained glass idea...wait actually I do. When I pin something on Pinterest I make sure that I only pin things that I can trace back to the original source and that at this original source I can find fabulous, clear instructions. This policy almost always leads me to some over the top chickies amazing blog that makes me feel extremely inadequate. I often will find that whatever led me to the blog that lowers my self esteem also leads me to find other amazing things that I must "pin" to my page.....are you still there? Is this too wordy for you? :) That is how I found this stained glass window that is faux.....ugh, I hate that word.....can we all just agree to say fake?

I have stared longingly at real...not FAKE.... stained glass windows every year at the magnificent Brimfield Antique Show but they are always way out of my price range. So when I found these perfect instructions on how to make one I was not going to rest until I had done it. Yes, I know it is not as awesome as being able to declare to your esteemed house guests who compliment your stained glass window "Oh that old thing? I got that from George Washington's house." But I have come to be okay with that.

I failed in an epic way on the frame part of this project. I had a vision of it being white and distressed looking but for some reason the painting white thing ended up extremely distressing me so I threw the frame away....yes, I know those of you who can think of ten uses for everything and re-use and recycle and see future projects in your mind and what you need for them are gasping at my mad throwing away skills but I am through and through a no clutter kind of girl :)

 Frame trauma aside. I am telling you that all I had to do to make this was purchase a picture frame from Wal Mart. Go home. Take out the glass part. Wash it. Go to Michael's...with your coupon... and buy instant lead and all sorts of colors of glass paint. Have the husband print off the design onto a piece of 11x14 paper. And then follow the perfect directions found on the beautiful self esteem lowering blog. I posted the link to the aforementioned blog down at the bottom of this post. Strangely, I discovered that the woman who writes this blog and posted this project happened to live in the ward I lived in in Indiana before I lived there. It is such a small world...when you are making fake stained glass windows :) link http://thepinkpeonyoflejardin.blogspot.com/2011/09/tutorial-faux-vintage-stained-glass.html

Feb 14, 2012

Valentine Schmalentine.

Yep, today was Valentines Day. This is one of the only days that the Baird family actually has a tradition for. I have no idea why or when I started it. But somewhere very early in the seven Baird children's lives their crazy Baird mom got the notion to make Valentines for her family and leave them on the kitchen table along with some candy for everyone to see first thing in the morning when they came down for breakfast. It always meant me... up until all hours on February the 13th surrounded by my fabric, stickers, ribbon, and scrapbook paper trying to be creative 7 different times. Some years I got ambitious and added a creative containers to hold the candy other years the candy was displayed in a hand bought ziploc bag. Some years I may or may not have added in some socks or other small items others not so much. But none of that matters because this year...2012... I did not do it.... GASP.... Even my daughter at BYU Idaho asked when she and I were chatting on the phone today if I had given everyone their homemade Valentines this morning. I sheepishly replied..."No." In my defense I did give the four Baird children still residing in my home some candy towards the evening hours but it was done pretty unceremoniously without any of that loving, homemade note thing going on.

 I am refusing to let the guilt take over. Girls do what girls can do. I even am very possibly embracing the thoughts that are creeping in that express frustration about candy, chocolate, flowers and love all being mixed together. Am I the Grinch of Valentines Day? Can you be a hopeless romantic and a grinch? :) I confess the candy makes me feel fat and feel guilt. The flowers just die. And love? Yeah, do not get me started on my thoughts on that little gem. If I was in charge of Valentines day I am pretty sure it would be customary to give someone you loved a truck full of compost for their garden. Or to make them a chicken coop for their chickens. Or to to tell them you think the basement needs a fresh coat of paint and that you would adore doing that for them. Going out to dinner would probably not be okay. Can you believe I have arrived at the stage in my life that going out to dinner does not appeal to me? Spending all that money on food that I will never see again makes me queasy. I feel like aliens have taken over my body. I used to live to eat out.

 Today I found my mind wandering over the last 43 years worth of Valentines Days I have lived through searching for memories. There is of course the blissfully uncomplicated elementary school parties. You know when you had to make a Valentine for everyone in your class. And you would search for the double meaning in any words on the Valentines that the boys in your class gave you not knowing their mom had just handed that particular valentine to them and made them write whatever name was next on the list on it. Remember the spend a dollar and send candy or carnations with a note to a friend junior high days? Trying to act like you did not care in case you happened not to get any outward signs of love. I will never ever forget the giant decorated sugar cookie I got from Dave who I dated in 10th grade that said "I love you" on it. Would you deem me odd if I told you I saved the perfectly pink frosted sugar cookie for way too long and never ate it? There is the saved Valentine from my BYU years that a very observant boy made for me that declared..."Even preppies dig Valentines day." I saved it because somebody recognized all the argyle vests, knee high socks, and penny loafers I wore :) I strangely do not have any other Valentine Day memories and that bothers me a little. I do not even know how many of those 43 Valentines Days I had a actual boyfriend for. That seems like something a girl should know :)

Feb 9, 2012

Three Hours At The High School.

Last night was Amanda's induction into National Honor Society. Even though I went to high school thousands of miles away from Massachusetts in Washington State every time I go to any high school for my kids events it manages to throw me back to the late 80's.

 We got to the high school at 5 and the event started at 6. I had brought a book so I could read while I was waiting. But I had forgotten how I can not resist the urge to people watch. Once the program started I watched these 60 kids that were getting inducted with keen interest. Each of the kids chooses a friend of theirs to read 8 or so sentences about their accomplishments up to this point in their lives to show that they without a doubt qualify for National Honor Society. Some told about how their friend qualified because they could eat 12 donuts and then run the mile in under 5 minutes. Some told about how their friend qualified because they went running with them through Stanley park in Speedos. Most of the qualifications were not so fun and just endless lists of clubs they were members of and sports teams they were on. Sixty kids + 8 or so sentences per kid really took a lot of time but I did not mind the hours that went by, it was so fascinating. I saw so many personalities. I noticed at least 40 girls whose mom's did not educate them about the hazards of wearing a short skirt on a stage. I marveled at the enormous lists of accomplishments of these kids. I had fun trying to match the kids up with their twin in my high school class...the jocks, the musicians, the class clowns....etc. I wondered if they realized what an amazing place they are in...the world is wide open to them...they can pretty much do anything they want to do. I was surprised at how they had each others personalities figured out and could testify to each other's characters. Some of the kids were quiet. Some were outgoing. Some proclaimed to want to be famous when they grew up. A lot wanted to be engineers. Several wanted to be vets. Some had been friends for life. I wonder where they will all be in 5 years? I observed where my child fit in. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can learn from watching. I could pick out immediately the kids everyone is naturally drawn to. The ones with the easy smiles. I could pick out the ones that not many kids relate to. I could pick out the ones who like themselves and the ones who are not sure who they are. I had no idea you reveal so much about yourself by what you wear, how you walk, and where your eyes go when you talk. Yeah, seriously, do you wonder if I was paying attention at all? Sort of funny to sit there thinking all these thoughts and oh so many more and not a single person had any idea :)

I was grateful when the Mayor of Westfield reminded them that their lists of accomplishments did not matter near as much as their characters. He also listed some famous people who were members of the Nationl Honor Society when they were in High School....Meryl Streep, Alan Alda, Troy Aikman, Katie Couric and Cindy Crawford were a few on that list....I do love information and lists :)

Amanda and I spent $5.79 at the Wendy's drive thru on the way home. I did not buy her flowers or a Pandora bracelet and charms for her accomplishment. I hope I have not ruined my kids because I am not into all those outward signs.

Feb 5, 2012

If You Are Happy And You Know It......

Think about that song. How many times you have just mindlessly sang it? :) Oh dear...how many times have I deceived others and sang that song and clapped my hands and not really known for sure if I was happy? :) No, seriously... What makes you happy? How do you know it makes you happy? What does happy look like? Is happiness male or female? What makes it go away? How do you get it back? Does it come before or after joy? I have been asking WAY too many questions about happiness lately. I have been surprised at how many people have not really answered my questions about happiness. How do you describe it? How do you recognize it? I fear I am on a quest to figure out what on earth happiness is.

All the way back in 2011 a dear friend told me about a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I finally bought it in December but I did not start reading it until a few weeks ago. I am fascinated by how the author Gretchen is writing about this topic and can not wait to see if by the end of her book if she  indeed can declare she is happy.

 I have always considered myself to be a happy person. But after this last year I am finding myself wondering if people who cry everyday can still claim to be happy? Can crying and happiness go together? Should I attempt it? I wonder if someone will call me on it?

 I wrote to my daughter Madeline on her mission in El Salvador about my happiness quest and I was so surprised when she wrote back and told me that she actually kept a running list in the back of her journal of things that make her happy and she added things to it after she thought long and hard about if they truly made her happy. I never knew that about her. So I thought "Geesh, I better get me a happy list." I bet it will make me happy :) But the words that she said that worried me were that she "thought long and hard" about each thing on her list. They were not just plunked on that list without going through a process and earning their spot. I have just recently learned about stopping, being still, and thinking long and hard. I have learned to adore these three things and have welcomed them with open arms to my personality. But sometimes covering up, suppressing, and busy want with all their might to be bullies to stopping, being still and thinking long and hard but I am learning how to send them to time out when they are mean.

I was encouraged on Friday when I was musing with a dear friend about who I really was to sit down and make a list of what I like AKA what makes me happy and she said I would be pleasantly surprised to discover how much I really did know about myself.

So I thought just for the heck of it I would blurt out the first ten things that came to my mind that make me happy and see what comes out... so here it goes: (in no particular order :)

#1. Hiking makes me happy.
#2. Growing things makes me happy
#3. Getting a load of compost delivered to my garden makes me happy.
#4. Avocado on a sandwich makes me happy.
#5. Driving long distances makes me happy.
#6. The moon makes me happy.
#7. Someone needing me makes me happy.
#8. The smell of fire, pine trees, new tires, and freshly cut wood all make me happy.
#9. Reading makes me happy.
#10. Discovering that we have something in common makes me happy....I adore connecting.

So I imagine if I drove a long way to get to a hike, went on that hike with a sandwich with avocado on it, had someone along who needed me and also liked avocado on their sandwich, we hiked through some pine trees and past someone who had a campfire, we stopped at our destination and read a book, we hiked back in the dark with a full moon, got home to discover the peas had come up in the garden, and someone had delivered compost I would be able to be supremely happy :) SIGH....I wish it was that easy :)

Oh wait I thought of #11 ......a view.... Oh how views make me happy.......