Mar 15, 2013

Getting Them Ready For A Mission.

I am currently in the process of getting Miriam, the third Baird child, ready to go on a mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She is heading to the Missionary Training Center on April 10th and then on to the Philippines in June. I feel like I should do some documenting of this process so that all of you that have teeny tiny kids that you can not imagine ever being nineteen can start getting them ready now :) Seriously, go buy some suitcases now and keep that birth certificate with you at all times :) Tattoo their immunizations on them :) And yes, they will have to have their wisdom teeth out :) Save lots of money :) Have them save lots of money :) And have your cat save lots of money :) A mission is $400.00 a month these days.

The first Baird child to go on a mission was Zach and he went to Estonia. He was at BYU in Utah when he received his mission call and he attended school clear up until the day before he went into the missionary training center. I was in Massachusetts while he was in Utah. Thankfully my dear friend Kathy helped me make lists and organize everything. I flew to Utah once to help him purchase some things and procure a Utah drivers licence. But most of the purchasing of suits, white shirts, ties, socks, and good shoes all happened long distance. Zach needed things for a cold, snowy climate that he would be walking in....a lot.

Madeline was the second Baird child to go on a mission and she is currently in El Salvador. Getting a girl ready for a mission was much more complicated than getting a boy ready. White shirts, ties and suits are so straight forward. Choosing skirts, dresses, shoes, tights, and accessories was definitely harder. Thankfully with Madeline my sister Sarah got involved and she perused the thrift stores in Georgia ( no not all of Georgia just the area around Milton :) and found a ton of very cute skirts and shirts. Madeline was at home in Massachusetts before her mission and that made things much easier. She needed things for a hot, humid climate with a rainy season. So no coat and shoes that water could easily flow through :)

 You see when they get their mission call in the mail it comes with a 40 page book listing all the things they have to get done before they go and all the things they need to take with them. They have to get visas, passports, sometimes special letters from the police department vouching for their goodness, and all sorts of immunizations depending on where they go. Before they even put in their papers to go on a mission they have to have their wisdom teeth out, see the optometrist, the dentist, the doctor, find their birth certificate :),get interviews and all sorts of fun. To add to all the fun I have had children who do not really want my help getting ready. They want to pay for it all themselves, they want to do it all themselves. And then my favorite part is that they think they do not need everything on the list that has been lovingly prepared and sent to them. That part is hard for me. I imagine a group of people who really know all about these countries where they are sending these kids sitting in a room ever so carefully making lists of what they will need to be comfortable and happy for 18 months to two years in their mission.How can you not obey the list when you have that picture in your mind? :) I figure if they went to the work to make this list I should go to the work to fulfill it :) But my kids think the lists are just guidelines :) And they may be right :)

I joined missionary mom lists on line to try to determine how accurate the lists were and what other moms bought for their kids and did to get their kids ready to go. The missionary mom list for Zach's mission was very helpful but Madeline and Miriam's lists have hardly any moms posting on them. Which is okay, I am figuring it all out :)

My kids have gone places on their missions where it is not easy to send them things they may realize they need once they get there which is why I get my panties in a bunch occasionally when they are ignoring lists :)
So far they have ended up surviving just fine so I do my best to remind myself of that and let it all go. But I am hoping it is normal for a mom to want to play "can I help you get ready to leave home to spend 18 months to two years in a foreign country" :) I know, I should be grateful they are independent :)

So when all that is said and done I have to tell you Miriam and I finally went shopping last Saturday and she was awesome. She went in more than one store. She tried on oh so many outfits. She was cheerful through it all even though I know she hated every single minute of it.

 Wish me luck because in April Amanda, Baird child number 4, is putting in her papers for her mission and then I will be shopping once again with a Baird child for a mission :) Which reminds me I should find her birth certificate now :)

Mar 14, 2013

Darling Anonymous

I have thought long and hard about this and I finally decided I needed to ever so briefly reply to you if you are even still there.

 Not to fuel a fire.

 Not to defend myself, because I sheepishly have to admit I did not read any of your comments on my recent blog about talking. I thankfully know myself well enough now to know that would not have been a good thing for me to do :)

Not to tell you my favorite candy :)

 But to simply and profusely apologize.

 I have no doubt that I have hurt you somehow and I feel terrible about that. I am sure there was a ton of truths about me in whatever you wrote in your comments. I have definitely talked too much and I will not bother you with all my justifications and reasons for that because they are not the point. The point was I was struggling immensely with the first trial earth life had handed me and I should have had the inner strength to turn to heavenly father for support but instead I turned to friends to help me understand. To validate me and reassure me. Yeah, pathetic I know :)

 Finally in the last two weeks after enormous struggle and pain I have turned everything over to heavenly father and let it all go and not a minute too soon :) I do not know why I acted the way I did believe me if I did know I NEVER EVER would have knowingly hurt you or anyone else who may have commented on my blog about gossiping.

I am not perfect. I have learned so much about life and myself in the past two years that my heart is overflowing with gratitude. I am so ready for my next trial so I can prove to Heavenly Father and not anyone else that I have learned.

You do not need to forgive me. But I would not be being true to who Jennifer is if I did not profusely and sincerely apologize to you for affecting your life by my evil choices :)

P.S. I have a huge new resolve to let things go so it is probably the best if you do not reply :) Just silently know I am sorry :)

Mar 12, 2013

My Awesome Mother.

Today is March 12th and on this day in 1945 my mother was born in Geneva, Nebraska. She did not know about me then but trust me now she does :)

My mother is the most amazing example of a hard worker that the world has ever seen. I never, ever remember seeing my mom laying around in her bed or on the couch, or even in a chair. Whenever I happened to decide to get out of bed in the morning when I was a kid she was already up and unless it was snowing she was guaranteed to be out in the yard. I rarely would find her in the house. In my mind all our mother daughter interactions took place outside. My mom is a master gardener. We always had a spectacular garden. I think that all we ate all summer long was veggies with homemade ranch dip. Because of my mother I can declare I have eaten kholarabi and I like it...okay, with lots of ranch dressing I like it :) Because of my darling mother I think nothing of eating a green bean raw or a radish. I actually had no idea that everyone else did not grow up eating veggies this way. I get the strangest looks when i offer people a raw green bean out of my garden to eat. Because of my mother I have a serious addiction to peas fresh out of the garden. Growing up there was always someone from our ward at church out in our garden picking green beans, or peas or something like that to take home and can for their family. My mother is an excellent vegetable sharer :) To this day she still provides people in her ward with fresh veggies....lock your car doors in the church parking lot if you do not want more zucchini :)

 It was not all eating veggies and no work, trust me, there was always a row to weed in the garden before I could go do what I wanted to do. Now that I am 44 I am eternally grateful for the love of gardening and being outside that I acquired from my mother. I know all four of her daughters have this love of gardening and I think it is a fabulous testament to her. Her gardening skills served her well when she and my dad went on their mission for our church to Hawaii. My mother whipped the landscaping/propogation part of the Polynesian Cultural Center into shape. She would ride her bike from their apartment to the PCC and work all day in the heat separating plants, moving plants, and all other kinds of plant stuff :)

My mom is a serious craft queen. My earliest memories are of the noise her very ancient Singer sewing machine made while she was sewing and I sat on the floor playing with buttons or organizing thread. She was always sewing clothes for us. One time for Christmas she made each of us a life sized stuffed doll we had the best times with those dolls. As we got older she always had some sewing project with her in the car that she would work on as she drove us around and waited for us. To this day all of the grand kids have at least one grandma quilt and my kids truly love these quilts from grandma. I love to hear them talk about them to their friends. They always say "my awesome Grandma made this for me." We always had tons of craft options available to us when we were kids. And nary a sight of store bought play dough anywhere :) My moms attention to detail is staggering and everything she sews is beautiful. Another thing that she did on the mission she and my dad were on in Hawaii was sewing bags  for the Polynesian Cultural Center to sell. She could even be found working on costumes for the shows that they put on at the PCC. The best part of having a mom that sews is when my kids have their turn to spend a few weeks with grandma and grandpa in the summer they get to make a quilt for themselves with Grandma. She is so generous with her time and talents and fabric :) I did not acquire the awesome sewing skills from my mother. I can get by but I need to practice more.

Another part of my mother that I LOVE is her love of thrift store shopping and garage sale-ing. As a kid I did not love it so much. But now those trips to the thrift store with my mom and my sisters are some of my fondest memories. Whenever my sisters and I get together, with or without my mother, to this day we can still be found hitting thrift stores searching for the ultimate find.

What can my mom not do? She cans all the food from her garden. Our summers were full of epic canning and freezing sessions. Peaches, pears, cherries, grape juice, corn, beans, tomato sauce...the list could go on and on. She makes amazing pies. She is very informed on what is going on in the world. She has adapted with nary a complaint to all the places she and my dad have lived from Utah, to California, to Washington, to American Samoa, to Oregon. I love that I have these skills..minus the pie one.... thanks to my mother :)

My mother is pretty private and quiet and as I have grown older I have valued this part of my mother so much. She did not need oodles of friends she seems to have a quiet solidness inside of her that makes it so she does not seem to need to much. She was rarely on the phone when I was a kid. She seemed to be content to work in the yard and hang around with us. There was never drama of any kind surrounding my mom. I deeply admire this because sadly it is so not me. As I have come to recognize this incredible strength that she has I have been working very hard to enjoy simple quiet existing as my mom seems to enjoy it. She has truly dedicated herself to us evil kids and my dad. I remember sitting around a fire in the backyard listening to her listen to my sister who was struggling with something at school. I remember her always cooking for us. I feel mortified as I realize it was never about her in anyway.

My mom graduated from BYU in a time when women were not necessarily doing the graduating from college thing. She even taught elementary school for awhile and she used those skills to instill in all six of us kids a huge love of books and learning.

My mom never gives herself enough credit for the amazing six children she has raised. We are all strong, very active members of the Mormon church. We all have struggles but we know where to turn when we are having them and they make us stronger rather than weaker as we figure them out. The more I ask people about their families I realize it is a rare thing that all six of us have been true and steady to our Mormon heritage.

I hope she realizes how much I love her and how grateful I am she is my mother. I loved as I sat down to write this I could think of example after example of the things I have learned from her and was a little sheepish when I realized I did not inherit any of her great qualities. But now that I realize that I am going to work like crazy to get my grubby little hands on some of Linda Ord's awesome qualities.

Mar 10, 2013

The Hobbit Out Loud.

Tatiana, Natalie and I are on a quest and I must tell you this quest thrills me beyond belief. It all started with The Hobbit. I had a memory of reading The Hobbit to Joseph many years ago and it was a good  memory. We needed to try it again. I needed these girls to know about riddles in the dark, dwarves, soaring eagles, being invisible, and elves. I had to convince the girls they would adore The Hobbit. I started with a plea to just endure a few chapters and so we did that. Then I am not sure why but we stopped reading for a few weeks and within those weeks thankfully the movie The Hobbit came out in theaters. Tatiana then decided that she would not see the movie until we had finished the book. I thought that was a good idea and soon we were on our way to finishing the book devouring page after page. I love the way Tolkien writes. Everything just flows out of my mouth so easily. Reading his words out loud is strangely soothing to me and I hate to stop when it is time. Some days all three of us would snuggle in my bed and spend a couple hours reading a couple chapters. Tolkien did not believe in skimpy me. I must confess that sometimes I would fall asleep while reading... it happens when you get up at 4:25 am to get a child to early morning Seminary every gosh darn weekday. On those nights Tatiana would take the book and just keep reading to Natalie and then I would have to catch up. I was thrilled that my girls were learning about Smaug, Mirkwood, Beorn, and yes, even about Gollum.

When we finally finished The Hobbit about a week ago I thought maybe we would try Little House on The Prairie, another favorite read out loud book of mine, but no, Tatiana insisted we continue and immediately went to the shelf and procured The Fellowship of The Ring. I love that everyday they beg to read and that they are sad when we only read four or five pages as opposed to a chapter. I love that they need to go to New Zealand to see Hobbit houses... now.

 Because they are the youngest of seven kids the, "reading with the mom" experience has been vastly different for them as opposed to the, "reading with the mom" experience the older Baird children lived. I have feared that some of the traditions I had with their siblings they have missed out on. Reading epic novels and series was one of them. We read lots of picture books from the library and they listen to tons of books on tape but it has been nagging in the back of my mind how I have not read a proper series to them.

As the three of us were sprawled on the couch tonight with my favorite blanket, the lamp on, Natalie on her back with her feet in the air, no doubt thinking about the possibility of tapping Tatiana with those feet and causing a loud indignant protest. Tatiana smooshed up against me making sure I read every word and do not show any signs of sleepiness. Everything In the world just felt right. I love how deliberate all of Tolkien's words feel. They fill me with a longing even though I know it would mean facing freakishly large spiders and ring wraiths.

 While I was reading about Frodo learning about the power of the ring Bilbo left him from Gandalf and Frodo preparing to leave the Shire I found myself wondering about adventure. How scary it is to leave what you know and head off into the unknown. How sad I feel that Frodo sold Bag End. How I know that it is two almost five hundred page books before his journey is over. All that he will learn and accomplish and see is in my head. I am strangely jealous of Frodo. I am 6 years younger than Frodo was when he left Bag End with the ring in his pocket.To head off into the unknown with a few true friends and nothing but my feet to take me sounds better than perfect at this minute in my life. Especially if I could run into my pal Aragorn....sigh... I am so ready for an adventure :)