Dec 3, 2013

Road Trips.

Road trips are deep in my blood. I have fond memories of road trips. Loaded in the back of the car with the siblings. Looking for the letters of the alphabet on signs and fighting over whether we had decided we were playing that is has to be the first letter of the word or not. Singing along with John Denver, The Bee Gees, Barbara Striesand, or Olivia Newton John at the top of my lungs. Watching the moon out the car window as it most definitely followed our car. Seeing the enchanting distant lights of LasVegas. Climbing over the seats to get away from dad when he stopped to distribute well deserved spankings. So many good times.

I need road trips. I have no idea why I love them so. I love seeing the world. I love passing cars and wondering at the story of the people inside them. I love listening to audio books and music. I love the snack food. I even love rest stops. I love figuring out the directions. I love the views. I love looking at the map over and over again. I love fighting with the teenagers about what we are going to listen to on the radio.....yeah, not so much that one.

Last week we took a road trip. Just Tatiana, Natalie, and I. I have a sister that lives in the middle of Michigan and when I heard that one of my other sisters from Pittsburgh and my parents from Oregon were all going to be in Michigan for Thanksgiving I knew I had to matter what.

There was an impending snow storm predicted for when I was supposed to be driving so thankfully they let me leave work early. So we left town at 9 am on Tuesday morning instead of at 3:30 Tuesday afternoon. I was determined to beat this storm to Buffalo. We live only about 45 minutes from the eastern border of New York state. So I can just jump on the Massachusetts Turnpike AKA I-90 and fly. The first big city I come to is Albany. You have two choices when you get to Albany to take I-87 or I-90. I always hesitate at this point and wonder which one is right but then I quickly remind myself it does not matter....87 and 90 meet on the other side of Albany. I usually choose 87 because it has an awesome bridge across the Hudson River but sometimes if the sun and time of day is just right I will take 90 because the sun shines on the Albany skyline just so....yeah, it looks cool.

After you get out of Albany the next bit of awesomeness is the Erie Canal. I love driving along the Erie Canal and thankfully it flows happily along I-90 for awhile. On this trip we spent a lot of this part of our trip trying to figure out why our 6 cd changer in the car was not working. Tatiana and I should get an A for effort. We used some of our precious data on our phones to google "what to do when a cd is stuck in your cd player". But our efforts were in vain. There is nothing you can really do about it until you can get somewhere where you are not moving and happen to have some tools for prying things open readily available. So we had many hearty conversations on this trip about the satellite radio which ended up being our only listening to music option. Which was sad as we had eight audio books we had checked out from the library and a huge folde full of music cd's that we could not listen to. At least now we know that satellite radio does indeed repeat songs. I have no idea where I had the notion they did not repeat as much as normal radio :) Silly me....they most definitely repeat.

It started snowing about half way across New York but I just pressed on. Thankfully, at this point the snow was not accumulating on the roads so I just concentrated with all my might on going 80 miles an hour. I was sure if I could just get past Buffalo everything would be perfect. Of course that was not the case....just like my life...always thinking if I just get past that one thing things will be better :) But eventually the snow did change to rain in not so bad...just like in life :)

Speaking of Ohio...we managed to find ourselves in traffic in Cleveland, Ohio. But at five o'clock in a big city on a week day close to a holiday that is to be expected. What can you do? Well you can always look for license plates from other states and then you should always try to make friends with the other drivers, duh :)

The minute we crossed the border into Michigan my Natalie thought we would magically be at Aunt Rebecca's house and she was so disheartened when she realized we had to still drive three hours into Michigan to get there. I was a little disheartened myself. The last few hours are the part where I am always a little afraid as it gets harder to stay awake. How many times have I arrived at my destination to realize that there is a part of my trip that I am not really sure about because I may or may not have been sleep driving......yeah, not good.

The drive home on Friday was fairly uneventful. I took a small wrong turn in Michigan but was pleased with my ability to fix my wrong turn without too much trouble. It was still daylight when we reached Erie, Pennsylvania and I loved being able to see one of the Great Lakes in the distance as I drove along. My excitement was when I got out of the car in Buffalo to get gas and immediately slipped and fell on some ice but I got right up so no worries. It is not a road trip without a few little fights and we had our few. One of those fights was about listening to One Direction which was playing for a half hour solid on satellite radio and one of them hates One Direction and one of them tolerates One Direction. And of course the other fight involved the finding the alphabet game.....that cursed game. I need to find the official rules for it.

Dec 1, 2013

My Deepest Admiration For Redwoods.

The Redwoods
Here, sown by the creators hand.
In serried ranks, the Redwoods stand;
No other clime is honored so,
No other lands their glory know.

The greatest of earths living forms,
Tall conquerers that laugh at storms;
Their challenge still unanswered rings,
Through fifty centuries of kings,

The nations that with them were young,
Rich empires, with their forts far flung,
Lie buried now their splendor gone;
But these proud monarchs still live on.

So shall they live, when ends our day,
When our crude citadels decay;
For brief the years allotted man,
but infinite perennials' span.

This is their temple, vaulted high,
And here we pause with reverent eye,
With silent tongue and awe struck soul;
For here we sense life's proper goal;

To be like these, straight, true and fine
To make our world, like theirs, a shrine.
Sink down, oh traveler, on your knees
God stands before you in these trees.

By Joseph B Strauss

I have done way too much reading about the Redwood trees lately. About two years ago in August I was in Oregon in the car with my parents driving to the Oregon Coast for a day visit and I asked my parents how far it was to the Redwoods. My dad replied with an amount of time that stunned me. I had no idea we were so close to the Redwoods and within 15 minutes our plans had changed and we were on our way to California to see The Redwoods. I was so excited. Words can not describe the Redwoods. Pictures can not capture the Redwoods. You simply have to go. When I think of something that is steadfast I think of a Redwood tree. When I think of something that is firm and resilient I think of a Redwood tree. Did you know redwoods taste nasty to bugs? Did you know Redwoods rarely catch fire because of the tannin in their bark? When they do happen to fall over new trees grow from the old tree.They never give up. I love this poem I found about them.... "Here we sense life's proper goal; to be like these, straight, true and fine To make our world like theirs a shrine." Have I made this my proper goal? Have I been straight, true and fine? Have I made my world a shrine? These trees inspire me as I weather storms.

Nov 10, 2013

I Don't Care?

There once was a boy named Pierre. Who only would say, "I don't care." Read his story my friend for you'll find at the end that a suitable moral lies there,"
Maurice Sendak

Many many years ago when I was a wee little lass I was introduced to a teeny tiny blue and yellow book about a boy named Pierre. It is a cautionary tale. And due to the fact that Carole King actually sang the words of this book I have it completely memorized and of course my children also grew up reading about onery little Pierre....and hearing the song.

I used to not understand Pierre because 99% of the book Pierre did not care.....about anything. His parents spend oh so much time begging him to care. They offer many things to him if he would just care about something but he just keeps declaring, to everything, the words, "I don't care." After being swallowed whole by a lion and miraculously surviving it turns out in the end that Pierre does care. If you get a minute it really is worth it to Google "Pierre and Carole King" and watch the Youtube video of the song it truly is fabulous.

I have never ever understood the not caring thing. My whole entire life I have been the opposite of Pierre in every way. Caring way too much about everything:

 Caring about what people think.
 Caring eternally about if others are happy.
 Caring about being nothing but kind to you.
 Caring about avoiding conflict.
 Caring about if you understand me.
 Caring about if you like me :)
 Caring about if anyone is going to be offended.
 Caring about if everyone is comfortable.
 Caring about if I can do something right the first time.
 Caring about dishes being done before I go to bed.
 Caring about if all the leaves are raked up :)
 Caring about getting the paint color just right on the wall :)
 Caring about playing the organ perfectly in church.
 Caring about getting rid of the frizzies in my hair :)

Sigh, yeah it has been a whole lot of caring. I honestly never minded it. I was pretty sure it was who I was. It did not feel exhausting at the time. I know reading that list may make you feel tired but honestly I had no idea. I thought it was normal. I did not really see that maybe sometimes it was necessary to.....gasp.... not care??

I have read recently that humans are emotional and moral beings and we are not capable of observing other peoples behaviors without reacting emotionally and morally to it. We have to care and if we stop caring we actually stop being human. Drat, I was hoping it would be possible to be like Pierre....well not the lion part. So now that I have to accept that I care and always will I have to learn how to live with the caring and most importantly learn how to do it in moderation. As with everything in life I am slowly learning that there is always a happy medium. It seems we are always walking a fine balance in everything we do. There should be a just right amount of caring and a just right amount of recognizing when to not care.

I am happy to say I have learned to say "I don't care" to the things I simply can not care about and it feels remarkable to say it and let go. I can not care what you think anymore. I need to be accountable only to my Heavenly Father for the choices I make and no one else. Yes, I want you to like me but I can not care anymore if you do. Yes, I care about the dishes on the counter but sometimes it is more important to go upstairs and sit on the bed with my little girls and read or watch a movie.

It is stunning how great it feels to understand this concept. I feel so:
 and free
 and grownup
 and strong
 and beautiful
and skinny
and rich
and on top of the world
and in control

....okay, maybe not all of that but pretty darn close :)

Lest you think you should nominate me to be the poster child for figuring out how to care in just the right amount I must tell you it takes a lot of control and a lot of practice. I am SO not perfect at it. Sometimes I find my mind back in the, "caring about things I have no control over" area and I have to grab it and drag it back to the healthy side where I only care and obsess about things I can control.....which sadly are not you :)

I am not a freakishly uncaring person now I just know how to recognize when caring in an obsessive way is no longer healthy. There are so many things I simply can not control and thus can not care about. It appears that I seem to be "all in" in everything I do in my life. It would probably be fair to use the word epic to describe all I do. But not in the caring department anymore :)

“The right mixture of caring and not caring - I suppose that's what love is.” 

Nov 2, 2013

You've Had A Birthday.

What makes a birthday special? As I was reading through all the things that people on Facebook wished for me for my recent birthday I found myself thinking about this question.  Post after post everyone said in some way or another that they hoped my birthday was special. What does it mean if something is special? It means it is going to be different or distinguished from what is normal. If something is not special it is general. So I thought about what I do everyday that makes those days normal and then I thought about things that make a day different or distinguished from the normal. And I have to confess to all my dear Facebook friends despite all your amazingly kind wishes and hopes my birthday was general :) But the good news is that is okay because it is normal :)

Some of my Facebook friends hoped that someone had made me my favorite cake for my birthday. Years ago when we lived in Princeton, New Jersey this very sweet Japanese lady in my ward at church made me the most elegant and yummy cake for my birthday and I was so touched. She and I were nowhere near best friends. I had visited her a few times and we had talked about the bombing of Nagasaki but that was all. No one had ever gone to that much work for me since I had become a grown up. And I was amazed to discover how that felt. I am not really sure what my favorite dessert is. I think for me it is just the thought that you went to some work to make something with sugar in it for me. That same year another sweet lady in my Princeton Ward bought me a shirt from the Gap for my birthday. This was another first for me. I had never had a friend of mine buy me a gift of clothes before. I loved that shirt and I wore it until it got holes in it and I was forced to get rid of it. We had no money and a shirt from the Gap for myself was unthinkable on my budget at the time. I remember I was so enamored with even the Gap box the shirt came in. It made me feel so special.

People used words like super, terrific, wonderful, delightful, great, fabulous, awesome, and amazing to describe how they hoped my day would go. I found myself wondering what would have to happen for me to feel like I could use one of those words to describe my day of birth celebration? I think the perfect birthday would be someone I completely adore being with telling me they were going to pick me up at some ungodly hour in the morning and that we were going to go hike to the top of a mountain and watch the sun come up. Then we would go for an epic drive and talk and talk and talk and then go eat somewhere little, unique and yummy. And then spend hours finding funny and cool things on youtube to watch....yeah, I am a weirdo huh? It would not really matter what I was doing it would just feel amazing to have someone want to sacrifice a day and want to listen to me and talk with me all day. Just to be noticed. I have never been a give me a gift kind of girl. I want your time and full attention and words :)

I will never forget my 12th birthday. My parents threw me a boy/girl surprise party. I was surprised and it was truly the best. I got three necklaces from boys as presents that night and I thought it meant they all liked me but now I realize it meant their moms picked out my present :) But I felt so special and thought of :)

I wonder if that is what makes a birthday great is someone doing something for you that makes you realize they understand you, listen to you, and "get" you. Someone doing something for you that you know was a sacrifice for them. High maintenance? Who me? :)

I had a pretty great birthday a few years ago when my, "used to be annual" New York City girl trip ended up being on my birthday. My sweet friends and sister bought me a cupcake without me knowing it and gave it to me in the morning in the hotel room. We stayed in the Waldorf Astoria and I woke up to sunlight pushing through the light curtains that were hanging from these super tall windows and I laid there and thought about all sorts of things for awhile. We spent the day in New York City which I completely adore doing. I love the people watching. I love the sights. I love the sounds. I love the walking. I love everything about New York City. Birthday and New York City are very a very sweet combination :)

It takes a lot of effort to do a birthday right. To know somebody well enough to know what would make their day feel distinguished and different. I have had people do something as simple as buy me some magazines from the checkout counter at the store and put them in a gift bag but it meant the world to me because I would never buy those for myself and yet I sometimes want to read them. I have had people show up throughout the years at my door with a simple offering of a treat and it meant so much to me. I know how much it takes to remember and then to execute when you have your normal life to also keep up. My birthday comes right before a holiday when people are very busy with school parties and Halloween costumes and I know someone really loves me when they appear in the middle of all that chaos with even just a card for me.

I try year after year not to have too many expectations for my birthday. But I confess I still have a fantasy in my head of what would be an ever so perfect birthday. I have found that lately I do not want anyone to acknowledge me or reach out to me at all so I did not make it easy for anyone to celebrate me this year and I am grateful for the few that saw past that and recognized what was really under all those protestations that I really did not need anything. There is something about finding out even if it is just for one day out of 365 that you are appreciated. That people recognize your goodness and talents and want you to know.

Oct 9, 2013

How Big Is Your Brave?

Everybody's been there, Everybody's been stared down 

By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

I am a huge Sara Barielles fan. I love her songs and her lyrics always make me think about things. I own three of her cd's and listen to them all way too much. Her latest song that is on the radio talks about being brave and the lyrics that you read at the start of my blog are from her song about being brave.

Have you ever had to show the world how big your brave is? I never would have described myself as brave. But as I have sat here at 10:39 pm at night on a Tuesday staring at the ceiling searching my past I have realized I actually have had some times in my life that I have actually been brave. It took some brave to sing a solo in 7th grade in front of my middle school in California, a duet in ninth grade with Mike Johnson in front of the school and many more singing and playing the piano instances. I found some brave when I ran for a class office at my high school. Brave was present when I tried out for jazz choir in high school. When I left home and went to college in Utah at BYU that was a little bit brave.Wearing leg warmers on a date....brave...duh :) Ears pierced....getting my drivers licence...going back east to be a nanny....recognizing the situation was not so good at the nanny gig and getting out....being vulnerable and admitting I liked a boy...confronting a roommate who was having a boy in our teeny tiny dorm room overnight....running 6.2 miles....killing a spider....picking up a dead chicken....packing up many a house and moving many a time.... reaching out to tell someone how I felt even though it could end up hurting....getting a job....buying a purple shirt with black polka dots and wearing it.

And yet there seem to still be way too many instances when I was not brave and I should have been. What makes us decide not be brave? What are we afraid of? For way too many years my fear of what other people would think has kept my brave at bay. Another thing that keeps me from being brave is my fear of conflict. And last but not least I most sincerely do not want to hurt anyone but now I know firsthand that I hurt them more but not being brave.

You all know how I love synonyms and antonyms and I could hardly wait to see the synonyms and antonyms of the word brave. I love how synonyms and antonyms gather around a word and give it support and dimension. I was stunned when I saw the contrast in the synonyms and antonyms of the word brave. Yes, I am going to tell you all about what I saw :) It first listed some words like bold, intrepid, daring dauntless, heroic. And then it said that brave, courageous, fearless, valiant, and gallant refer to confident bearing in the face of facing difficulties or dangers. It told me that brave is the most comprehensive but it said courageous implies an even higher or nobler kind of  bravery. So if you take it to the courageous level you have an inborn quality of spirit or mind that faces and endures perils or difficulties without fear and even with some enthusiasm. But if Sara would have used the word courageous in the place of brave in her lyrics we all know it would have just not been the same song. I mean can you sing along in the car to the words "I just want to see you be courageous"...yeah, not so much huh? So I am glad she used the word brave even though courageous is top dog in this arena of words. Anyhow, I will not bore you with the full paragraph of synonyms about brave in Mr. Dictionary but what struck me was how there was a full paragraph about the synonyms of brave and then there was very simply and starkly the word antonym and under it one word....pause, for dramatic effect.... cowardly. I felt bad for friends no supporters just alone.

It gave me determination. I want to be on the synonym paragraph side. I want to be brave.The few times I have been brave have truly felt amazing. Being brave does not mean you are not afraid... it is about being afraid but moving forward anyway. They say the first step towards being brave is to admit you are afraid...not to the world just simply to yourself. Maybe you could do it in the shower. Just say it out loud....I am afraid of..... Then the next step seems to be finding yourself a role model. Hmmm who is my role model of brave? Who do I know that has faced adversity and done it bravely? Which Disney princess should I choose? :) What about Eowyn? Arwyn? Anne Frank? Helen Keller? Frodo? After you choose which Disney princess you think faced adversity the best then you make a decision. Ask yourself three simple questions....Is this the right thing to do? Is this the only way to resolve the situation? Am I prepared to face the consequences? And then the last recommended step is to not think anymore and just act....WHAT? :) Who does that? :)

My life has been greatly shaped by people who are brave and sadly probably even more shaped by people who are not brave. The cowardly people in my life have made me sad. I think I understand how they feel because I have played on team cowardly many times myself. So I can not in good conscience say anything about them :) But I do wish they would figure out if they want to fight for something or not and just do it.

So does it feel like something in your life is not right? Is something missing? Do you feel pain and anger towards yourself and others? These are apparently signs that something in your life needs to be remodeled, changed or revitalized. Can you overcome the fear of rejection? Or the fear of what other people may think? Or the humongous fear of change?

I have so many examples around me of people who are living their lives out loud and brave and I admire them greatly and am grateful for their example. I want to do that. I want to be true to myself. I have made lots of baby steps. I am brave about driving in the snow. I am brave about being honest. I am brave about letting you see my house messy :) I am brave about saying no. I am brave about not following the mapquest exactly :) I am brave about being vulnerable. I just need to be brave about spiders and then all will be well :)

So come on show me how big your brave is :)

Oct 6, 2013

Being a Librarian.

I fear my heart will burst if I do not fill you in on the details of my library job soon. This job is technically not really a job. I did apply for a full time job at the library after I had only worked there one day.....silly me.... but they hired someone who had already worked at the library for five years so I did not get the job. But that was okay I was not sure how 37 hours a week was going to work in my life anyway. So I have been enjoying being a substitute librarian for the last five or six weeks. I happened to become a substitute librarian at a really fortunate time. The Westfield Atheneaum had two people find different jobs and leave the library and this has left all sorts of hours for me. It is giving me a false sense of reality but I am just going to ride the wave and enjoy it. I am consistently getting over 60 hours every two weeks. I have yet to find something I do not like about working at the library. Well actually I do sort of hate taking my 15 minute breaks that are required.....I know what is wrong with me?

What do I do at the library all day? Well thanks for asking, let me see if I can do it all justice with my words. First, it is of utmost importance, that I tell you what I wear. Every morning I get up and put on a dress, or a skirt, and a cardigan....occasionally a pair of nice pants but I love wearing dresses and skirts and tights so it is pretty much guaranteed that that is what I choose to wear. I almost always wear my hair in a side ponytail.

Some days I work downstairs in the Boys and Girls Library and some days I work upstairs in the Adult Library. When I get to work my job is to be at the front desk of the department I am in the entire time and that means I spend my day....

Checking people's books out to them.
Helping people find a book. Can I ever find the words to explain the joy that comes from finding them the book they are going to die if they do not have right away.
Checking books in and sorting them into large print, nonfiction, fiction, young adult etc so they can be put away.
Listening to people who are 100% sure they returned a book and looking up their account, checking the shelves for the book, and then trying to help them to not feel so sad about paying the fines if I can not find it.
Issuing new library cards.
Renewing things people can't find or have not finished with.
Breaking the bad news to people that they have no renewals left and being strong when they pull the sad puppy dog face on me.
Calling them if they return a dvd case with the dvd missing.
Helping them place a hold on something from another library. It astounds me how many people do not know you can do this. I love seeing the joy when I tell them it is true :)
Looking up peoples favorite author to see if they have written anything new.
Helping them find a new author since they have read everything their favorite author has written.
Telling them where the bathroom is.
Listening to cute little old people's life stories.
Hearing about why their item they are returning is damaged.

The best part for me is being at the adult desk when the inter library loans come in. Every day around one o'clock a truck brings boxes of books that our patrons have put on hold from all over Massachusetts. And we check them in to the computer and it prints us a receipt telling us who the book is for and if we need to call them or if they automatically got an email telling them it had arrived. Most days there are quite a few stacks of these holds to check in and I deeply adore this project. I feel a little bad if the other librarians want to do this when I am there because I really love doing it. I grab our basket of rubber bands and gleefully check these things in and wrap the receipt around them with the rubber bands and then put them on the hold shelf in alphabetical order. I love that this process I guess maybe because it has a clear beginning and a clear end? I love knowing that all these people have been anxiously waiting for their holds and they are going to be so excited to come and get them. Maybe I love it so much because I like to be kept busy? Maybe it is the satisfying sound of that receipt being printed? :)

It is amazing to me how many people come into the library and have not been into a library in years and have never had a card. Then on the other hand it is also fascinating to me how many people come into the library every single day and know how many resources are in the library and hang out with us for hours. There is this one guy who I swear he runs his business out of our library. People are always meeting him there and he is always chatting with us and using the computers and printer and checking out dvd's.....I wonder if he is a mob boss? :) I love meeting all the different personalities. It is amazing to me the ones that know they have 10 cents of fines on their card and it stresses them out and they want to pay it immediately and then there are the ones who are shocked to hear they owe a fine and need to know why, and when, and want to debate about it and hopefully not pay it. There are the patrons who want to watch you check their books in. There are the ones who don't care and plunk them in the return box. I love learning what is trending right now in books. Which authors everyone likes.

It is pure torture for me to watch all these books and dvd's go out that I want to read. Just when I thought I had read everything :) I need to start keeping my notebook close by so I can write down the names of books I want to read. We are not supposed to make any comments to our patrons about what they are checking out and that is pure torture. I sometimes can not resist the urge to tell them I have read it and it is great or to ask them where they found what they are taking out. It is weird that I know who has paperback romance addictions and who is studying the crusades and who needs large print and who is building a stone wall.

I have had people hand me things they are bringing back and tell me that the content in the dvd or book is shocking and very, very bad and that it should not be on our shelves and I was alarmed to realize as I asked the other librarians about it that we can do absolutely nothing about that. I also can not say anything if a little kid brings me a rated R movie that they want to check out. I understand and yet I do not understand :) We do not limit your choices that is for sure :)

I really like all the ladies I work with at the library. All their different personalities and different ways of approaching things make me smile. I see all their different strengths and weaknesses and how they compliment each other. I am not sure if they understand that because they are in the thick of dealing with each other. I love that all of us have a rubber band or two as a bracelet when we are at work.

This job is bringing me so much happiness I keep trying to not think about the fact that I am only a substitute. I hope a position opens up that is more permanent. It would be nice to have predictable hours.

I confess that the validation I am getting from working is pretty amazing. I have never had people compliment me on who I am like this before. I was shocked to hear someone use the word smart to describe me the other day. I wondered if they could write a statement declaring it and sign it...please? :) I need to show it to my 8th grade math teacher :) I was stunned when someone described me as a quick learner. WHAT? They are so kind about my personality, friendliness, and hard worker skills.I have never known these things about myself or used these words to describe myself. When you are a mom people around you are not overly inclined to tell you how smart it was of you to make breakfast for dinner. Or tell you how they love how you grounded that person in a most friendly way. Or notice how outgoing you are as you fold socks. I am still trying to get used to the compliments and observations and not let them go to my head. But it definitely makes me love work. Imagine if the family caught on ? :)

Oct 3, 2013

What Is Trending :)

You know how wondrous it is to have something new to obsess about, right? Do not tell me you do not adore that feeling of knowing you have found a new series to watch, or a new book to read, new music to listen to, new food to eat, a new hilarious Youtube video? My whole entire life I have always felt extremely compelled to share what is trending in my life with everyone around me because I am really hoping I get to see them enjoy it as much as I did. I love, love, love to bring joy when I can. I do not want to keep my latest discoveries to myself that is no fun at all. So I decided that I needed to tell you what is trending at my house at this very minute so that you can find eternal happiness.

BYU TV....Studio C, Audio Files, and The Song That Changed My Life!!! I adore all three of these shows and you can watch all of them on your computer if you do not get BYU tv on your tv. Studio C is a comedy...basically a clean version of Saturday Night Live. I laugh and laugh through this show. They do some very clever skits and I love that my kids can watch it with me.

The Song That Changed My Life is amazing. Each show features a different group like Sixpence None The Richer, Sara Watkins and Sondre Lerche just to name a few. During the show they tell you all about themselves and their career and in the process of telling they lead up to telling you about a song they heard at some point in their life that changed them, the way they viewed the world, and the way they perform. I have gained way too many new favorite groups from watching this show.

The show Audio Files is also on BYU tv and it is another way to discover some of the nations most favorite bands. Because of this show I am now a loyal follower of Mates of State and Jack and White. They even have a show about Imagine Dragons that they taped long before Imagine Dragons were who they are today. Trust me you will not regret going to your computer and watching yourself a few episodes of any of these shows :)

Another show my Amanda recently introduced me to is Master Chef Junior. It comes on television on the FOX channel on Friday night. We watch it on the computer whenever we want to after it airs on Friday night. It just started last week and I LOVE it. It is twelve 8-13 year old kids cooking to win the title of Master Chef Junior. Their dishes are judged by three master chef's. They have an hour to make whatever they want to go along with whatever the category or theme is. I was stunned by what these kids can cook. It appears that they have stunned the judges too. Usually Master Chef is for adults so this junior show is a whole new thing and I sense by the chef's comments as they sample these kids dishes that they are blown away and that their expectations were not very high going into this. I am wondering about these kids parents and when they started these kids cooking and how they know how to put ingredients together like they do. You should really check it really I mean it :)

Lest you think all we do is watch television these days another thing that is trending at our house is cupcakes in the form of Mama Cakes. I shamefully have never been one to obsess about supporting a hometown business until I happened upon Mama Cakes in downtown Westfield. I have sampled my share of cupcakes in my 44 years on earth and these are by far the most moist and have the best tasting frosting ever. My little girls and I frequent Mama Cakes way too much. Her mini cupcakes are only a easy to justify. Her flavors are so interesting. I can not bring myself to partake of the maple with bacon on top but everything else from lemon, to mint, to Reeses to well anything you can imagine they are fabulous and have made me a huge advocate of supporting a hometown business. And they are so handy for bribing 11 and 13 year olds to do whatever you want them to do :)

Another thing I am obsessing about is redwood trees. I have figured out a way to use them as part of a presentation I am in charge of in November and before I knew it I had ordered every book I could find in the Massachusetts library system on them and in my reading have gained a huge respect and love for these trees now. They are so old. They are so resilient. The are so immovable. They are fireproof because of the tannin in them. It is just amazing to me how much thought went into these trees and how they live. If you have not been to California and seen the redwoods or their cousins the Sequoias you really should try to go. There is nothing more awe inspiring than standing in a grove of redwoods realizing how small you are.

It is fascinating for me to sit here and think of all the different obsessions I have been through in my life. There was Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog phase....Say Yes To The Dress phase.....Kid History Phase.....Lord of The Rings phase.....the chicken phase.....This American Life phase....Out of Africa phase.....Hunger Games Phase...Harry Potter phase....folding socks phase...haaahaaa never really had one of those I just threw that in there to see if you were still reading :

Sep 28, 2013

Turning One Hundred.

On September 16th my Grandpa Ord turned 100 years old. He is still driving. He can still recite his stories and poems from memory. He knows who we all are and details about us. The family had a huge gathering to honor him this last summer in California and I was, thankfully, able to go. I do not see my Grandpa very much which is probably good because every single time I see him I get those lumps that you get in your throat that mean you are about to cry and I have to figure out how to choke them down. I am not sure what causes me to choke up. Is it the realization of what an amazing life he has lived? Is it because he is family? Something just overwhelms me when I am in his presence. Maybe it is something just confirming the circle of life...ugh, did I just quote Lion King?

I actually do not really know my Grandpa that well. This is one of the only pictures I have of him and I together. Please notice my blue gum in my mouth in this picture :) Growing up we did not live that close to him and when he and Grandma came to visit I was not really as attentive of a teenage granddaughter as I wish I would have been. There are a few things that stand out to me when I think about his life. One is his amazing memory. He has memorized countless poems, quotes, and stories and he can still recite them all. Another is his work ethic. He started at the very bottom of Bank of America and through the years worked his way up and up. That sort of thing does not really happen in this world much anymore. Another fact is his fascinating love for my Grandmother. She died several years ago and he talks about her with such sweetness and tenderness. In our church he served as a stake president and a Patriarch among other things and sacrificed and sacrificed for those callings. He truly inspires me despite the fact that I did not spend much time with him or see him much.

I can not even comprehend 100 years. You know how in elementary school they usually have a day that falls sometime in the cold of February where they recognize that everyone has been in school 100 days? The kids usually have to bring in 100 of something so they can get a visual on how much 100 of something is. When ever my kids had to do this I confess my first thought was usually, "Aaarghhhh, 100 of something, really?" That is going to be so hard. But when you actually count out 100 Fruit Loops, 100 Cheerios, or even 100 Legos it is not drama-licious at all. But when it comes to Grandpa Ord we are talking about years... doing 365 days 100 times.....that is a dang lot of fruit loops :)

If I happen to live to be a hundred that would mean I am not even halfway through my life yet. I wonder if Grandpa even thought about 100 when he was 44 years old?

If I reach 100 what will I hope I see when I look back at 44? Will I be proud of my life? Will I have seen the Aurora Borealis? Will I finally have a good lawn? Will I have ridden on a train across the country? Will I have traveled? Will I have seen a space shuttle take off? Will I have been whale watching at least twice? Will I have three different color hydrangeas in my yard? Will I have found the best way to stake tomatoes? Will I have been nice to others? Will I have been true to myself? Will I have spent the night on the beach? Will I have read all the books on my list? Will I have learned to play tennis? Will I have tried the violin? Will I have found the perfect bread recipe? Will my children all be making my rolls? Will I own a convertible? Will someone love me as much as I love them?

Geesh, I better get busy :)

Sep 17, 2013

Spending The Paycheck.

Well my friends your good friend Jennifer just got her very first, honest to goodness, paycheck. I got it last Friday. I am pretty sure you guys already know how you can tell if a paycheck is honest to goodness but I will educate you just in case....the way you can tell is if it has perforated things on all four sides that you fold over and tear to reveal the check...that my friends is how you know you have truly arrived :)

 As I watched my hours grow and grow at the library I would be lying if I did not tell you that I started doing the math in my head to figure out what amount this paycheck would end up being. This paycheck was for 65 hours. Sixty Five glorious hours of checking books in and out...helping people place holds on books....checking holds in from other libraries and putting them on the shelf to wait for their patron to pick them up....collecting fines....helping people find books....yeah, loads of good times. Anyhow, because I am a rookie at this "making my own money" thing I did a little fantasizing about what I should spend it on. You know, all the things you always put off buying because they are not needs they are just evil wants. It was a little alarming how big my list was of things I wanted to spend this paycheck on.

There is the perfect brown couch in the Pier One Catalog that knows my name....and would take my entire paycheck very handily.

There are the many, many, many bags of sand that I need to own to finish my brick path in the garden.

And speaking of yard purchases I would be lying if I did not tell you that I have seriously thought of how I could now buy a couple bags of grass seed....all summer I have put off purchasing grass seed and my grass really needs it....really.

I have spent the last couple of years borrowing Madeline's music holding device when I go exercise but now she is home and took it back and I have nothing to hold my music and play my music for me when I run or bike ride. I am pretty sure I NEED to buy one for me and some good headphones....not the ear bud headphones....the ones that go over your head and rest on top of your ear....ear buds ALWAYS fall out of my ears.

A passport. I have a grand baby that lives in Estonia and most likely always will. So Grandma needs to procure a passport.

A floor lamp for the basement.

Dahlia and daffodil bulbs.....lots of them :)

A big umbrella...I love the really big, long, expensive umbrellas not the folded up compact ones. I find them in stores and carry them around but never purchase them.

Several cd's that I have longed to own like Christina Perri, Mates of State, Jack and White, and Alphaville.

The third season of Downton Abby, Moonrise Kingdom, Star Trek Into Darkness, A Room With A View in dvd form. I own it in video form but that is so not cool anymore :)

A patio set. Every summer I longingly peruse the lawn and garden section of any store that happens to stock them. I think my life would be complete if I had a table and some comfy chairs on the deck.

So without too much thinking it was a little alarming how quickly I could spend my paycheck. And while we are on the subject of alarming I totally had forgotten to account for taxes in my little, "fantasizing while adding up my hours moment." Geesh, seriously government? :)

In conclusion you will be happy to know I did not spend the is in my bank account and most likely will be used for boring, practical, necessary groceries. Although, I really do think I should have one thing I really want to show for this first paycheck.....I think it is between the passport and the music device....oh, wait maybe the couch?? :)

Sep 13, 2013

Being A Friend.

“In friendship ... we think we have chosen our peers. [But] in reality a few years' 
difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice 
of one university [over] another ... the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a 
first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there 
are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. 
Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can 
truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have 
chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating … 
good taste in finding one another out. [But] it is the instrument by which God reveals to 
each of us the beauties of others.”

C.S Lewis

I have been thinking a lot lately about friends. Some people may argue with good old C.S about the idea that everyone is in our lives for a reason. I for one adore the idea that all the people I have come in contact with throughout all my 44 years have all been there for a reason. Especially as I get older and can clearly see the purpose of each person. It is staggering to think about how big the world is and how many chances you have to brush up against someone elses life. I sat down the other day to make a list of the friends in my life that I can not imagine my life without. The ones who have shaped me and impacted me.

 I thought about the friends who said something to me at just the right moment and I have never forgotten what they said and I now pass on their words of wisdom to others who seem to need the same advice. This happened when I was living in Princeton with way too many little kids and I was wondering if the frustration I occasionally felt was normal and two moms of older kids who I really looked up to and imagined to have oh so perfect lives were talking to me and began confessing to me about times they felt evil thoughts about their children and let me tell you it was so reassuring. I am so grateful that these women were not intent on keeping up a facade of a perfect life and were okay with being real and honest in front of a very young, overwhelmed, and impressionable mom.

I thought of "friends" who have been unkind to me and taught me something through their unkindness.....even though it was very icky :) Is it weird to be grateful for mean people? I could not have learned some hard things without them that is for sure. They are not true friends because I somehow knew when they offered criticism that they did not have my best interest at heart. Funny how there is that difference that we can all innately tell between someone who truly loves us and cares about us offering advice or observations and someone who does not. 

I thought of friends who loved me enough to tell me something hard. There are not many of these in my life but I know who they are and I LOVE that our connection is so perfect that they can say anything and not offend me or hurt me because they have shown me through their actions that they truly do unconditionally love me. I wish all my relationships were this way but then I would not have anything to agonize over and Oprah would most likely want to talk to me :)

I thought of friends whose hearts were generous enough to allow them to freely find the words to recognize something I did. It is a great skill to not have a jealous bone in your body and to be able to recognize other people's strengths and to tell them you see them and to rejoice in them. 

I thought of friends that to this day even though we are miles apart and have not seen each other in years we can pick up right where we left off. I have maybe five of these kinds of friends and I love that comfortable, safe, peaceful feeling I feel when I get together with them. I love it when I realize how long I have known these particular friends. And I love when out of the blue they reach out to me from thousands of miles away after oh so many years somehow knowing I needed to hear from them.

I often wonder what kind of friend I am. Just for your information my relationships are fiercely important to me. I am always working to keep up my friendships. If something happens to our friendship I can never ever just let it go I will pester you longing to figure out why it broke, longing to understand. I used to think I needed everyone to be my friend but you will be oh so glad to know that as of about two years ago that is most definitely not the case anymore. I am truly content with a handful of people that understand me and like me. And if you know me at all you know that you thought you would never hear me saying that.

 I wonder if I listen well? I wonder if my friends know how much they mean to me? I wonder if my children know how to be good friends?

As I have joined the Facebook family I can not help but notice my friends from high school on my news feed. I love how so many of them have kept in touch with each other. They take care of each other, visit each other, encourage each other, and post pictures of themselves together. I was not so attentive to my friends in high school and I am not sure why so I do not really have that sort of relationship with any of them. I loved high school but I think they all were hanging out and I somehow missed the memo :) But I love seeing them chat with each other and keep up those friendships after all these years I do not know why it makes me happy.

So as Sharon Eubank said at a BYU women's Conference a year ago, here is to the people in our circle....most of them are a divine gift. There may be a few that are thrown in there for spice but I believe most of them are in proximity to us on purpose. We can't dismiss the people in our circles :) 

Sep 8, 2013

What Makes Your Heart Swell?

Do you know what I am talking about when I say something made my heart swell? Do you know the feeling of which I speak? You know when you have a sudden powerful surge of a good feeling? I wish I could think of a better way to describe it. You know like the feeling:

When you are driving down the road and there are big white puffy clouds in the sky and the sky is blue?
When your kitten is pouncing on pieces of tissue paper with wild abandonment?
When a seed you thought was not coming up decides to comes up?
When you are driving across the mountains in Utah and Wyoming and it is the middle of the night and there is a full moon and everyone in the car is asleep and you are listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Come Come Ye Saints?
When you see that dark blue color that the sky gets right before the sun comes up?
When an old friend reaches out to you and thanks you for something you did or said that impacted their life but you never ever knew it?
When the kids go out to the garden, cut flowers,bring them inside, and artfully arrange them in vases for display in the house?
When someone "gets" you and you know it with all your heart?
When you are laying in the hammock looking at the leaves?
When you are playing the theme from Out of Africa on the piano?
When someone lets you help them?
When someone knows just what to say?
When someone loves a book you recommended and they really want to talk about it?
When a band is playing in a parade?
When you hear the Star Spangled Banner?
The first snowfall of winter?
When it is almost Fall and the temperature is 70 and the sun is out and your windows are all open and a breeze is blowing through your house?
When you hear the sound of your canning jars sealing?
When you see big worms in your garden and know that means your soil is happy?
Sitting on the beach with your feet buried with warm sand watching your kids play in the water?
When you carefully follow the instructions and it actually works?
The smell of campfire?
Finding a sand dollar on the beach?
When you get together with an old friend and you can talk like you had never been apart?
Listening to Aaron Coplands Appalachian Spring?
When the moon is full?
When someone gives you a gift and you know they paid attention to you because it is perfect?

Yeah....I have been noticing lately when my heart does that swelling thing because I do love it.

Sep 2, 2013

Acadia National Park...Part Two of Our Saturday In Maine.

So after we left the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and the fort we headed east towards Acadia National Park. We had laid out all of our choices and Acadia had won for destination two of our Maine trip. We decided after much googling that we needed to do the Park Loop Drive. But first we had to drive an hour to get there. Along the way Amanda and Julie studied our maps of the United States and we counted all the National Parks....forty eight. We expressed to each other our desperate need to visit every single one. We wondered about what made somewhere earn the distinction of being a National Park. We talked about the ones we had been to. The ones we had almost been too. And what we imagined the ones we had not been to were like. It was a great conversation :) And before we knew it we were there.

We stopped and collected brochures and maps at the visitor center because that is a very important part of trips....collecting brochures that you can enjoy forever and ever and then wonder years later why you kept it. I got reassurance about my directions and my goals from a park ranger, we paid the $20.00 to get into the park, and got back in the car. The Park Loop Road is 27 miles long. It is supposed to offer some of the best coastal views in the park. I became enamored with the idea of this drive as I had read about the places along it with sweet names like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs and Cadillac Mountain. All these places and many others are all along the Park Loop Road. We drove in to the park proper at about two in the afternoon. We got onto the one way road and just drove and stopped at our leisure. I love, love, love doing that. For some reason that does not happen when the whole family is involved. Sadly, most of our stops were covered in pretty thick mist. But we did not let that bring us down. And actually it did not really bother us because we did not know what we were missing. Since we have been home and I have looked at pictures of these places minus the mist I realize now what we missed. SO I HAVE to go back now and see it when it is clear because I now know there are amazing views out there.

Sand Beach was totally shrouded in mist yet the crowds were out in force. It was so humorous to me to see all these people sitting on this mist covered, cold beach totally acting like this was normal beach day. We were wearing jackets. When you looked out to the water there were lots of barely distinguishable bodies out in the water frolicking like they were in the Bahamas :) The water temperature was just as you would imagine Maine water to be...freeeeeezing :) We did not spend too much time at Sand Beach but I am glad to know about it.

 We continued on and did what most humans do... stopped when we saw a whole bunch of cars parked somewhere. This is how we discovered all these cliffs. They were amazing. The rocks were a different color than I had seen at beaches. I think it is called a pink granite. looking at all these cliffs you can see why Maine coastline has lots of lighthouses.You could climb all over the rocks and cliffs. Which is exactly what the girls did....well all except Natalie who had acquired a sprained ankle a few days before our trip. So she and I walked around a little and then sat on the rocks and watched the others. The beaches were covered with rocks all sorts and all sizes. I could spend days on a beach like that.

Thunderhole is one of those places you have to time just right because it depends on the tide. The tide was coming in but it was not high tide so it was not performing at its best. But It was still very cool to watch the power of the tide. To see all the water suck out, watch the water level sink so low and then within seconds this narrow passageway between the rocks  would fill back up and water would shoot out of this hole. It was very cool. I could have watched that for a long time.

After exploring everything we could in the mist we headed up to Cadillac Mountain and as we headed up the mist lifted and we were on top of the world :) All the clouds were all around us. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Seacoast and the best part is that during Fall and Winter Cadillac Mountain is where you can go to see the first sunrise in The United States....yeah, totally on my bucket list.

At about six o'clock we headed out of Acadia and back towards Massachusetts. We got home at about 1:45 am in the morning. It was a fabulous trip and I am ready to head up to Maine for Fall.

Sep 1, 2013

Penobscot Narrows Observatory and Maine.

Ever since we moved to Massachusetts and I applied what I learned in school and realized how close I was to Maine I have needed to go there. Anytime the sun comes up and it is a gorgeous day I say to myself and anyone else that will listen "It's a beautiful day. Let's drive to Maine." Most everyone agrees with me but strangely it has never happened. I was serious every single time I said it. As with anything I long to do I asked a lot of questions over the last couple of years when ever I found someone who had been to Maine. I have several friends who spend lots of their summer in Maine and I am extremely jealous of this. Throughout the course of my gathering information process I came across a copy of Yankee magazine in the library that had an article just about Maine and things to do there. I checked it out from the library and I read it cover to cover and took copious notes. That article was where I learned about the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

About three and a half hours into Maine is the town of Prospect, Maine and Verona Island, Maine and between them is the Penobscot River. There was a bridge connecting them that was built in 1931 but it needed to be replaced and so in 2006 the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory were built. What caught my attention was the fact that there are only four bridges in the world that have bridge observation towers and this is the only one in the United States. That kind of information always escalates Jennifer's interest immediately past the point where you say, "I want to go there someday." To the point where you say, "I am going there next weekend." I mean you have a bridge....and I LOVE bridges. Then you have a bridge with a observation tower that is taller than the Statue of Liberty. An elevator that takes you to the top and is the fastest elevator in all of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. And...wait, let me catch my also have a 360 degree view from the top.

Then when my Amanda, her friend Julie, and I had a conversation a few weeks ago that caused us all to realize we all had a burning need to go to Maine the deal was sealed. My husband got us a hotel in Portland, Maine with his Marriott points and last Friday afternoon, after paper routes were finished, and after work was done, we loaded up my little Subaru with Tatiana, Natalie, Julie, Amanda, snacks, music, maps, my little ponies, clothes, and me and we headed out for a girls road trip to Maine.

We drove through Massachusetts and New Hampshire and arrived in Portland at about 8 at night. We did what girls always do when they hang out in hotel rooms we watched a couple episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" and lounged around in the hotel hot tub. It was so relaxing and fun. I decided before we even started on our trip that I was not going to rush our next morning. These kids get up early every day for work and school so I decided to just let the morning go without much structure. We left the hotel by 9:15 am which was just right.

It took us another two hours and about twenty minutes of driving to get to the bridge. When we first drove in to the parking lot is where you buy the very reasonably priced tickets that get you up to the top of the tower...$31.00 for all 5 of us. Sometimes when you pay for something you feel in the end that the money you spent was not worth it. I feel like the money we spent was well worth it.

 We did not have to wait in a line and headed straight up to the observation room in the super fast elevator. The minute you step out of the elevator there is solid windows. The view is everything a view should be. You can see the river below....endless trees in every direction and a few little towns. I need to go back in the fall because I bet seeing all the changing leaves from up there is amazing. And I wish I worked there so i could sneak up in the winter and see it in the epic Maine snow. Okay, I even fantasized for a minute about being up there at night in a thunder and lighting storm. Yeah, I know what is wrong with me? :) We took lots of pictures and did lots of gazing and then we went down. And it was over. Just like that. I always hate that part :)

Another small detail you need to know is that there is a Fort Knox right next to this bridge. This Fort Knox never saw battle but it is an amazing place to visit. It was the first fort in Maine to be built out of granite and not wood. I did not think my girls would be interested in the fort at all but when you buy the observatory ticket the Fort is included. My girls gleefully explored every passageway this fort had to offer. The lighting was perfect and the stone and brick and starkness of the interior offered way too many photo opportunities. They played, and played, and played until I finally said we had to get going. We took way too many pictures there. I tell you when you shoot for your upcoming album cover, or your upcoming engagement pictures, or your upcoming graduation pictures, or just your upcoming pictures you should definitely plan to go up to nowhere Maine and take them at this fort. Check out some of these pictures :)
Tatiana looking down at me :)

Cool Passageway, right?

Aug 24, 2013

Buying Something You Always Wanted....Like Dansko's.

A few years ago when I was in the middle of my annual New York City trip with my friend Gail was when the exact moment came that I learned all about Dansko shoes. I had blisters on my feet from all the glorious New York City walking and the blisters got me to start noticing what types of shoes people around me were wearing. Gail was wearing her Dansko clogs and she totally made me aware of Dansko shoes, their comfort, and general awesomeness. I have honestly never thought twice in my entire life about whether I owned "good shoes" or not until I had friends who did care and talked about their good shoes around me. Maybe it is because I have such small feet? Thus making it particularly hard to find "good shoes." maybe it is because my feet have never protested before? Who knows?? But after our "Dansko talk" I started finding myself occasionally wondering if I really was fine? Maybe I just did not know the joy that is nice, well made, last forever, expensive shoes??

 I liked the chunky style of Dansko's and found myself longing for them but when I finally saw them for the first time in a shoe store and saw their price tag I just could not take the plunge and squelched any notions I had about ever owning Dansko shoes. I do not think I have ever spent over $30.00 on a pair of shoes for myself so you can imagine how I balked at $120.00 shoes. I have continued to long for them for the past few years...without ever trying them on...mind you. My oldest daughter even bought a pair to take on her mission to El Salvador thus making me a little teeny bit jealous.  

There is a kid shoe store in our mall called Footbeats and every time I walk by this store I stop and stare at their Dansko shoes. The clogs never interest me much which I presume is what most people know Dansko for. I do, however, find myself adoring their Mary Jane styles and some of the sandals. I always pick them up and look at them, observe the price, and then set them back down and leave. Until about a month ago when I saw these beauties....look to the left :) The ones I happened to see were in black and I loved them, immediately. I showed them to my kids whenever we happened to be in the mall and they deeply disapproved of them. And made all sorts of noise about their ugliness.Thankfully, I do not place too much value on my kids fashion advice....sorry guys :) One time I happened to be in the mall with Gail and showed her the shoes and she said she could totally see me wearing them....that is good, right? :) Gail has impeccable fashion sense. She also knows my reluctance to spend money and was not surprised that we did not leave with them.

But she did encourage me a few times to buy them and that got me a few weeks later when I was once again headed towards the mall I decided that was it...I was trying them on. I could not stand it anymore. Now remember I have never tried Dansko shoes on. So I go into the store and take those sandals off the shelf and ask the employee for a 35 to try on. Dansko's are in European sizes and a 35 is between a 4.5 to a 5 in USA sizes and is the smallest Dansko adult shoes go. Well at least that is what I thought. But it turns out none of the adult shoes I liked in the store were in that size. WHAT? I even tried to will a size 36 to fit me. But no luck on that. Don't you love it when your decision to finally spend a lot of money turns out to not happen?? I was bummed and a little amused that all these years I had longed for these shoes and it turns out it was wasted longing time because they would never be available in my shoe size....sigh, story of my shoe shopping life.

But it triggered some shoe determination in me so I headed straight to the computer when I got home and started learning all about Dansko shoes and sizes. They do make kids shoes just not in the adorable grown up styles. If I ever want purple or red patent leather clogs I totally know where to get them. Not many styles had a size 35 available even on line. Finally, through Amazon I found a pair of size 35 Mary Jane Dansko's that I liked. Of course they were not available in black but I could see  the brown making me happy. I have no idea when I decided that $109.00 was a good price for shoes but it strangely happened and I magically I thought they were a good price :) And...gulp...I ordered them.

I only had to wait three days for them to arrive and I immediately opened the box and put them on. They are a little big...but shhhhhh don't tell anyone. I eagerly searched for approval from everyone in the house but to no avail. Not one Baird will validate or reassure me about my Dansko shoe purchase. But I decided in a crazy moment of confidence that I do not care because I ADORE them. Now I just need to own more things that go with brown, chunky, mary jane, Dansko shoes.

Aug 22, 2013

Saying Yes When You Meant No.

I have no idea how it happened but we woke up yesterday morning without a kitten and we went to bed with a kitten. Well actually I do know how it happened. Yesterday morning Tatiana, Natalie, and I were walking through the parking lot towards the entrance of Wal Mart and I saw a gathering of people around the entrance and knew without really even knowing that the scene had free kittens written all over it. My two little girls have never seen the "free kitten outside of Wal Mart" thing before but I have, many times. I uttered the words oh no long before the little girls realized what was going on.

Before I go any further let me quickly catch you up....we had owned a cat, Kittromney, for almost six years and when we all went out of town in the end of June Kittromney accidentally got out of the house and we never saw her again. I was so embarrassingly elated at this turn of events.

 And every day since then my Tatiana has asked at least ten times a day for a new cat. She has checked Craigslist every single day for kittens. I even indulged her and we had a most illuminating outing to the cat shelter in town. Thankfully up until now the cats she has found have been VERY expensive...wild....or too far away. But today all that changed.

There were three little kids in front of Wal Mart standing by a basket with three little kittens in it...all white with varying shades of gray spots on them. Before I knew it I was asking how old they were and if they were boys or girls. The little kids did not know if they were boys or girls. They all spoke English but with a very heavy Russian accent. Their mom appeared from inside of Wal Mart while we were talking and she said she did not know if the kittens were boys or girls but she assured me you could just tell by looking at their faces which ones looked like boys and which ones looked like girls. I indulged her and just smiled as she very honestly and seriously explained  to me that the girl kittens had sweeter looking faces and voila that is how you knew. I was greatly amused by this method of determining the sex of a kitten that she was SO sure of. I did not want to burst her bubble with the "talk."

The minute I touched the kitten I knew it had fleas badly. But something kept driving me on asking questions and acting like I was getting one of these kittens. Tatiana chose one and she and I sheepishly looked at its private area right there in front of Wal Mart and Tatiana felt certain it was a girl. I asked the lady to hold it for us while we went into the store. We promptly abandoned everything we had come to Wal Mart for and bought kitten food and flea shampoo and headed back to procure the kitten. All the while I am in a daze wondering what on earth I am doing.

But on the way home I come up with a plan to have cat central be in the basement in the spot under the stairs in the play room. It is a big area. I can block it off easily. I need the cat litter box to be out of the way. This plan makes me feel a little better about the reality that I succumbed to pressure and once again have a cat in the house.

The absolute minute we walked in the house I headed straight to the sink in the kitchen and we gave the poor kitten a flea bath. I felt sick as I bathed it for half an hour..pulling at least 40 fleas off its teeny tiny body. I felt so sad for this kitten. I have given flea baths to kittens and cats before and I was surprised, this kitten did not make a peep and did not attempt to climb on top of my head or "get out of dodge." It took the whole process like a man....yeah, you read that right...the girl kitten is really a man confirmed it.

I told everyone in no uncertain terms that for all my troubles, misery and woe in my whole entire life I would get to name this kitten and I spent the afternoon mulling over Lord of The Rings names ....mixed in with some Hobbit names. Tatiana was rooting for Sam. And I was leaning towards Frodo. But then the big kids came home from work and Joe, my seventeen year old, without even hesitating, declares that the cats name is Benzo....WHAT? He tells us that in rap songs they often sing about riding down the street in their Benzo....AKA Mercedes Benz. I was emphatic. NO, we are not naming this cat Benzo. Pretty soon party lines were drawn and things were not looking good for the three of us against the name Benzo. By the time we finished a thirty minute car ride to the church with Joe to our Wednesday night activities he had swayed all three of us and Benzo it is. Say it lots of times and you will have to agree. It is a tad catchy.

I know you thought I hated cats and I do... but I don't. I hate when they scratch furniture. I hate their hair everywhere. I hate that good friends who are allergic to cats have to worry about coming to our house. I hate that they sometimes forget they have a litter box. And that is the short hate list :)  However, if you knew what was going on at the Baird house right now you would agree that getting the kitten was a good idea. The kids were thrilled beyond belief. It was so fun to see all of them sitting around in the basement laughing, exclaiming and watching the kitten. So you may judge me if you must I deserve it.

Aug 19, 2013

Vulnerability Equals Connection?

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C.S Lewis 

Man, you gotta love good old C.S don't you? When was the last time you used the word vulnerable in a sentence? Would you say you use it every day? Once a week? Are you sure you know what it means? When was the last time you felt vulnerable? What makes you feel vulnerable? Is being vulnerable good or bad? Does Jennifer have a new obsession? Yep....vulnerability is what is trending in Jennifer Baird's world right now. It all started with an innocent enough looking email from my son Zach who lives in Europe. He sent me a link to a TED talk about vulnerability by a woman named Brene Brown. I had never heard of TED. I have a friend named Ted :) Anyway, I had rarely thought about vulnerability but within seconds of watching this video I was sucked right in and became fascinated with Brene Brown and her research. I am longing to have you over so we can grill a steak and sit in my hammock and talk about vulnerability until we can not talk about it anymore. Yeah, it is good to be in my brain....oh and my hammock :)

So lets start at the beginning...what is vulnerability? Actually lets start with vulnerable. What does it mean? It means you are open...... you find that you can describe yourself as and closed you do not have to worry in the slightest about being are indeed the opposite of vulnerable. If you are vulnerable you are capable of or "susceptible to being wounded or hurt." You are open to attack or damage. You are open to moral attack,criticism and some temptation. Whew,sounds like a good time, eh? This vulnerability thing has a bad rap. Most of us think it is weakness. But it turns out we desperately need vulnerability. Brene Brown, my new best friend, points out in her talk on TED that after years of research she has come to realize that we can not connect without being vulnerable. And connecting is what we darling humans crave. No it is not Twinkies we crave :) Connection is why we are here....not Twinkies :) In order to have connection you have to allow yourself to be seen and that requires you to be vulnerable....yeah, good times :)

I have been searching my mind for moments that I know I feel vulnerable....

 when I wear a swimsuit...duh :)
 when I have to play the organ in church...ugh.
 when you give me a math problem
 when you ask to see my garden and it has weeds in it
 when I realize I did not shave my legs
 when I realize that you see me singing my guts out at a stoplight
 when you ignore me
 when I make a mistake

So you have to be okay with vulnerability in order to have connections. I have to be okay with the fact that I forgot to shave my legs so that I can tell you and connect with you when you in turn confess you did not shave yours either...and you tell me you keep a razor in your car for this very purpose and we can giggle about that and thus connect :) I have never in my life felt like protecting myself before... but now I do and I see it does restrict my ability to connect. I am not connecting much these days. I am longing for something to snap me out of this safe mode I have locked myself into. Hopefully the team from Star Trek is on their way in the Starship Enterprise with the code? Or maybe Jason Bourne is the one who will save me? I would even be okay with Superman getting in on the resolution of this :) Someone has to know how to fix this. Now I know why people who get bit by dogs sort of freak out when they are around dogs and are not really interested in being around dogs and you see fear in their eyes. It seems unreasonable to you if you have never been bit by a dog but I confess after the last two years I totally "get" it :)

I am working on writing a bill that would convince congress to require everyone in the world to watch Brene Brown's presentation on vulnerability and she also has one on shame that is fabulous. I am going to give you the link and trust me the twenty minutes is worth it. I love understanding what it means to be human and what we need and thinking and wondering about all these things and Brene researches this for a living and does a gosh darn good job of it. Brene Brown TED talk about vulnerability

Aug 15, 2013

Provincetown Breakwater And Life.

Today (Saturday the 10th was "today" ) started at least five weeks ago....actually I guess technically it was way back in June when my college roommates came to visit that my notions about today started.

I have always wanted to drive to the very end of Cape Cod. I mean to the very end...where in real, honest to goodness life the road ends. When my college roommates were here I was able to accomplish this goal and what was at the end of Cape Cod was even better then I had ever imagined. There was a culdesac like drive and cars were parked around the semi circle. I parked. I was a little confused that there was no signs banning parking and no signs looking for me to leave an exorbitant amount of money to park. I mean this is Massachusetts after all. Just when I think all they want is my money and to make more rules they trick me :) I finally confirmed that, strangely, it was okay to park where I was parking for free. Then the darling roommates and I discovered that right in front of our very eyes there was this amazing rock walkway, which I learned later is officially called the Provincetown Breakwater. It is a mile walk across these rocks across the Provincetown Harbor out to the outermost finger of the cape. The walk is across a mile of these huge, very steady, but not evenly laid boulders. Picture beautiful New England blue water on both sides...swaying New England green grasses in the sky....white sand...and a quaint New England light house in the distance. Once you get across the breakwater to the beach you can walk across the dunes...being sure to avoid the poison ivy... to a very quiet beach....since you have to walk at least an hour to get to it only the most hardy are enjoying the beach which is why we can call it quiet. Words can not tell you enough how thrilled I was with this awesome discovery. I wanted to tell everyone I knew and make them come enjoy it with me. But yeah, you know how that, "making people do things" kind of things go :)

My Madeline seemed very interested in my discovery when I got home from my fun with my roommates so she and I picked a date to take the family back to my secret spot. And that date was today. Through a course of events, that deeply saddened me, discouraged me, and frustrated me our Cape Cod trip did not happen today. Hopefully there was enough describing words in that last sentence that we can connect on how I really felt :) After I expressed....using my I felt to my children about this unfortunate turn of events, today (remember it was Saturday) still morphed into a day trip, just a little different day trip then I had planned in oh so many ways.

The Cape Cod trip needs some advance planning since we have paper routes in our life and the drive to the Cape is at least 3 hours. So it was too late to attempt it. SO, the children and I discussed and decided we would instead go to Salem to see the witch trial stuff.

When I do day trips I really,really like to start early in the morning but I am a little tired of having to always be the driving force behind everything that happens around me. So I just chilled and made sure I was ready by eight thirty and then I watched and waited. It was the most beautiful day ever and it honestly killed me to watch it slipping by... Eleven forty five was when we finally left....need I say more? Joe was not at all impressed with this notion of a family trip. So we were waiting for him. It always stuns me that I have to beg my children to go places. But actually this time I moved past begging and there was just telling of what was what and before you knew it we were all in the old and very tired fifteen passenger van heading towards Boston. We were grumpy but we were on our way. When you leave that late in the day and you are heading towards Boston you have to embrace the fact that you and the stop and go traffic will indeed be one. I am not really sure what time we finally arrived in Salem and that is a good sign that means I was not worried about it. After the witch trial stuff I chose to try to do something impulsive and convinced everyone that we needed to drive 14 more miles and go to one of my most favorite beaches....Crane Beach. This beach is constantly on the top ten beaches lists and it is so pretty. We rarely do adventures. We rarely do something random but today was different. I think when all was said and done most everyone enjoyed themselves but it was not without struggle.....silly life :)

So I still want to go enjoy the Provincetown Breakwater can you come?