Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day

It's a record snowfall for December! We got about 2 feet of snow starting Friday night and ending sometime Saturday evening. With just 6 days left before Christmas, we can probably bet it will still be white by then. Just having any snow in December is magical to me. Here's what we did on our snowday:

We shoveled a path for Cody:

We took in stranded motorists. In this case it was Natalie's friend Casey from Buena Vista, Virginia:

We built a fire:

We judged how many inches we got by the piles of snow on the deck chairs and flower boxes:

We took pictures of the trees out of the living room window:

We also found time to:

Write and edit a Christmas letter for friends and family. (Watch your mailbox!)
Help Grandma with her Christmas letter.
Make Muddy Buddies. Thanks to Kara!
Watch movies.
Shovel snow. Thanks to Casey!
Make and eat beef stew. Thanks to Dad!
Check facebook.
Check email.
Shovel more snow.

We love snow days!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Family Room Redo

Last night I made a little more progress on the family room by hanging up some drapes. It's starting to look pretty good. I'm still not sure what to put on the walls. Any ideas? We're also working on deciding on a fireplace cover and mantel. But here are the latest pictures. The colors aren't really true, but you
get the idea. More light, and no paneling!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Sundays come early now. Church starts at 9:00, but that leaves more time in the afternoon for things like naps, cookie baking, reading, or visiting family.

These are the yummy cookies Natalie baked today.

Extra people at home. YAAAAY! Gone are the days of Natalie being the only child at home. Ryan and Dara are living in the room formerly known as Dad's office. It's a tiny space for them, but they've made it their own. We love having them here. Everyone's schedule is a little different, but once in a while we get all six of us around the table for dinner.

Piano music is in the air. Besides rehearsing with Forest Park choirs, my piano studio is filling up with new and returning students.

Team Vikings are in football season, and Natalie is there to cheer them on.

Go big Green!

Extra work for Dad. With the G20 in Pittsburgh, and multiple foreign customers, Dad's had to take on two new assistants to help with the work load. He spent two days there last week, and this week is the event. Pray that all goes well. Want to know what the G20 is? Try this link:

Major changes in the family room. It's about time! We've been wanting to brighten up the family room since we moved in, and this was the time to do it. We had the paneling taken off, wall board put up, 6 recessed lights put in the ceiling, and a fireplace redo. No final pictures yet, but here's the fireplace so far:

We're planning to add glass doors and a mantle. The carpet should be installed in about a week.

Bush whacking! It's also time for changes to the front landscaping (or lack thereof). Ryan single handedly dug out and pulled out two bushes yesterday. Hopefully by the end of the month we'll have the other bushes out, new ones put in, and grass planted.

Not too pretty yet, but it's progress.

Especially proud to be an American. Unfortunately I missed attending an outdoor military band concert this summer - a long standing Condie family tradition, but I had some tickets to the Army's Spirit of America program put on by the Old Guard and the Army Band. I invited my Mom and Dad to go with me. It was an amazing performance that made me proud to be an American, and thankful for all those that serve to keep our country free.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp

Really enjoying September!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cousins, Chili, and a D.C. Tour

Two of my favorite cousins, Stephanie and Amy Lincoln, were in town for just a few days. Last night we (Emily, Skip, Ryan, and Dara) were able to meet them in D.C. and show them just little more of our city. While it was still light, Skip drove around to some of the places he knows so well. Some of the most beautiful embassies are in a circle right off Connecticut Ave. including Israel, Pakistan, Bahrain, China, and United Arab Emirates. We drove by the Washington Cathedral, Georgetown, and a few other sights, ending up at a very unique D.C. spot - Ben's Chili Bowl on U street.

After taking our heartburn pills, we filled up on cheese fries, chili dogs, half-smokes, milkshakes, and more.

It was a fun night catching up with family news, driving around, and enjoying a beautiful August evening in D.C.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Utah Days

On July 23, Skip and I started a road trip to Utah. Natalie had flown to California the day before to visit the Branvold family for a few days, and Kara needed to stay in Virginia to work. So that left the two of us to drive out to Utah to see our kids and grandkids that live out there. We're pretty used to that drive now, and many of the rest stops and gas stations looked very familiar. Skip was able to do some work along the way, and we kept ourselves entertained with movies and Sirius sattelite radio. We arrived in Utah on the evening of the 25th. We stayed with Ryan and Dara in their basement apartment near BYU, and spent a lot of time with Laura, Kart, and kids. Here are some of the highlights of our time in Happy Valley:

We had Sunday dinner with Kart's family in Springville. Skip grilled pork chops.

Laura made apple pie for dessert.

We laughed at Aiden and Emma swinging on Kart's legs.

Beth drove up from Las Vegas to join in the fun for the week. We went shopping together at IKEA.

We went to the pool.

The kids surprised us with a birthday picnic at Kiwanis park. Emma had fun there playing with rocks and water.

I liked watching the kids play outside. One morning I took them to a playground.

Emma loved trying to unlock the door.

I had never hiked to the Y before, so one day I woke up early and decided to try. It was hard for my out of shape body, but I did it.

One afternoon we drove into Salt Lake City. Skip wanted to do some family history research, so the girls and I spent some time in the church history museum and temple square. We rode the train to the Gateway mall and had sushi at Happy Sumo. Beth, Dara, and Laura went back to Provo then, and I caught up with Skip to have dinner with him. Then we went to the airport to pick up Natalie who flew in from California. She was able to spend a day with everyone before she had to fly back to DC for cheer camp that started the next Monday. On Saturday morning, Ryan, Dara, and I dropped Natalie off at the airport (5:30 am), then went to the Salt Lake temple for a session. It was my second time there, and as before, I was awed by the beauty and spirituality of that historic place.

After we got back on Saturday, we continued helping to get Dara and Ryan packed up and ready to move back to Virginia. We got a few more pictures that evening before saying goodbye to the Barnetts.

On Sunday morning, we finished packing our van and Ryan and Dara's car, then drove straight through to Virginia. We are blessed to have Ryan and Dara living close to us now - as close as a room downstairs!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Baird Family Independence Day 1993

One of my favorite Fourth of July memories was a flag waving musical production by the Baird Kids. We were never the Von Trapp Family Singers or the Osmonds, but we sure had fun.

Natalie, Beth, Ryan, Laura, Kara

Happy Birthday America from all the Bairds!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Project #1

I always like to set big plans for the summer, and then feel like they never get done. So I thought I'd try to document my progress on my projects. Here's my first project - beautifying and organizing a wall of my kitchen:

Here is the before picture:

And now the after picture:

Thank you to my amazing husband that helped me with the first shelf (after I messed it up) and gave me better instruction on putting things into a wall. Hint: Break off the end of the anchor to allow a longer screw to easily go through.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Here is my latest yummy chocolate addiction:

Double Chocolate Crinkles


1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar


1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar creamy.
3. Add eggs one at the time.
4. Add melted and cooled chocolate and continue to beat at medium speed until the mixture is smooth.
5. Gradually work in the flour-mix.
6. Add the chocolate morsels.
7. Chill for 1-2 hours until the mix is easy to handle.
8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
9. Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar to coat all the way.
10. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
11. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges set and tops are crackled.
12. Let cool on rack.

TIP: To keep your hands from sticking too much, keep dough cold and dust your hands in powdered sugar.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Days Go By

Yes, I guess it’s time for an update. I’m still trying to figure out what kinds of things I should write in here, so to help me along Laura encourage me with a prompt yesterday, so here goes:

I love Sundays. Yesterday was a particularly long and full one – not crazy busy full, but just full as in fulfilling. In facebook last night, I wrote that it felt like three days in one. Here’s what I mean:

DAY ONE: CHURCH. Sometimes getting ready for church can feel like a day in itself, but that went fairly smoothly. It was fast Sunday, so food was not an issue for me, but I made a breakfast sandwich for Skip before I left. As you probably know, he is recovering from knee surgery and needs to keep up his strength. Natalie and I arrived at church at about 10:55. Apparently, nobody had panicked yet about the organist not showing up, so I played five minutes of prelude. A few testimonies were heartfelt, and it felt really good to fast today. My fasting and prayers were mostly for Skip and his recovery. I went home right after sacrament meeting to help him. (Kara had been there while I was gone, and she had to leave for church at 12:30) While he was asleep, I went outside and finished a book I was reading (The Secret Life of Bees). A great book, by the way. When he woke up, I read a conference talk to him by Elder Pearson on Faith in Jesus Christ. He will be our visiting authority next Sunday in Stake Conference when we get a new stake president.

DAY TWO: THE KITCHEN. Sometimes on fast Sunday, it’s relaxing to be in the kitchen. It’s rarely a temptation for me to want to break my fast early when I prepare food. I made oatmeal cookies particularly for Skip, then I prepared a dinner of glazed pork loin, roasted potatoes, salad, and leftover mac and cheese. I even meant to make biscuits, but I forgot somehow. Even though it was just me, Natalie, and Skip, I decided we should eat in the dining room which we rarely do unless we have company. I’m always a little disappointed at how short the actual meal is compared to the preparation, but I helped Natalie clean up the kitchen to prolong the family time a little.

DAY THREE: FAMILY TIME. We try to still have Family Home Evening our traditional Monday night family time, but we can’t call it that now. Natalie bristles at the thought (“It’s weird having Family Home Evening when I’m the ONLY child.”) so we just prolong family scripture and prayer time with more in depth teaching and discussion. So we discussed the same talk I read to Skip earlier with Natalie. Then Grandma and Grandpa Condie came over and we had a nice visit with them. Grandma is doing better with her hearing aids. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be, but she bravely puts it in perspective. We’re glad she’s feeling strong enough now to go with Grandpa to Idaho for their annual meeting on the range. They’ll be back on Tuesday the 16th, and then people start arriving for the Condie family reunion. After Grandma and Grandpa left, Natalie, expressing frustration that the oatmeal cookies weren’t chocolate chip cookies, convinced me to make some brownies. She has to watch the movie , “Their Eyes Are Watching God” for English, and I told her teacher I’d see that she did, and watch it with her. So we made brownies and watched probably an hour of the movie before I started falling asleep. I started to get ready for bed, then realized the trash needed to be taken out, so I went out in my bare feet to pull the trash bin to the curb. The beauty of the full moon against the trees and the damp grass on my bare feet gave me a second wind, so I stayed up for another hour talking to Natalie, reading, and checking email. I was even up long enough to see Kara come home, who spends most evenings with her boyfriend, Andrew Bradley and his family. She was here long enough to pack for a trip to the beach tomorrow, then left to spend the night at the Bradleys so they could get an early start in the morning.

So that's my three-day Sunday. Maybe Monday will be even longer......

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gifts for Mom and Dad

I finally finished my Dad's Christmas present - a customized deck of cards to play "Five Crowns" with. I made them with Heritage Makers, an online digital scrapbooking company. I can help you if you want to make your own personalized cards, books, posters, calendars, and more.

I went over to Mom and Dad's last night to present them with gifts - the cards for Dad and a framed picture for Mom (late Mother's Day gift). I stayed to play Five Crowns with them. It was fun, but it took a little longer than normal to play because

1. We often paused to look at the pictures a little more closely.
2. I inadvertently made the symbols in the top corner on the wrong side for someone who's used to holding cards right handed, so it was a little awkward arranging the cards in our hands.

This is the link to see Mom's present:

Here are the links to view the "Condie Crowns" game. There are two decks of cards with different pictures on each one.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Baird Family Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day - a picture from the Baird archives - 1993. Pictured from left to right are Kara, Emily, Beth, Natalie, Ryan, and Laura. Our Baird family Mother's Day/Father's Day tradition consists of everyone gathering in the kitchen in the morning, helping to make breakfast and/or finish cards, gifts, and gift wrapping. When everything is ready, the celebrators line up with breakfast and gifts in hand, then chant on the way to the bedroom, "Boom-shak-a-lak-a-lak-a, boom-shak-a-lak-a-lak-a, boom....." Breakfast is then eaten, gifts opened, hugs given, and tears shed (mostlly joyous).

Thank you all for making this Mother's Day another memorable one. Breakfast was delicious and I enjoyed all your cards and gifts. We were thankful to be able to celebrate another Mother's day with our own mothers as well. We love you Grandma Baird and Grandma Condie!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Musical Jobs

I am so fortunate to be able to work for some of the BEST people in the world. The two jobs I get paid for are accompanying the Forest Park High School choirs and teaching piano to a few of the best students in Woodbridge, Virginia.

At Forest Park, I work with Lara Brittain, an accomplished conductor and music educator, who has headed the choir program since Forest Park opened in 2000. A true professional, with many accomplishments to her name, she is also a dear friend. I have learned so much about making music through my time at Forest Park. Lara is a master at musicality, and my ear has developed considerably. I have been able to incorporate many of her ideas into my piano teaching and playing. I love that she is interested in and explores a variety of musical styles. I love learning new music, andI am often excited by the music she presents for the kids to learn and perform.

There are many challenges in working with high school students, and under her leadership, I've learned much about inspiring and guiding them, not just in the music world but in day to day life. I love witnessing the talents of the kids unfolding day to day, month to month, and year to year. At times I think I should move on and do something else with my time, but then I think about the amazing young people just new to the choir program, and how I would miss seeing their gifts and talents unfold as they grow and mature in their high school years.

I play the piano for Forest Park in the morning, and in the afternoon I teach piano at home. Teaching piano is what I've wanted to do since I was 10 or 11 and started taking piano lessons from Betty Henley. She was an amazing teacher, and inspired me with piano literature, history, and theory. She also encouraged me to start teaching and set me up with my first piano students, and lessons in how to teach piano. I love seeing students young and old begin to make music - to figure out the connection between the black symbols on the page to a magical, beautiful sound produced with fingers connecting with a keyboard.

I've had many students over the years, and I love them all. I feel especially proud of my piano students this year. I have nine students that were signed up to participate in NFMC festival held on Feb. 21. Of course, that was during Natalie's hospitalization. They continued to work hard on memorizing and perfecting their two required pieces, coming in for a lesson at a moments notice when I could carve out some time. I was soo proud of my magnificent nine for working so hard, and was glad that they were each rewarded with a superior rating at festival. I love seeing my students get the concept of hard work resulting in something wonderful, and not just a rating on a page, but a beautiful work of art.

Yesterday, we had a performance class at my house where they performed their festival songs for each other. Even my new students and my one adult student (I love teaching adults too!) played a couple of songs they had perfected. I get so much joy out of seeing them present their music for others. I hope they know how much value it is for them and to others to share the results of their discovery, hard work, and love of music. They call me their teacher, but they teach me as much, as I discover and rediscover the challenging and joyous process of learning and making music.

Excuse me now while I go make some more music....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How to Buy a Car - Baird Style

1. Wait until your old car is definitely, positively dead.
2. Start looking at used vans at the dealership your old car was towed to.
3. Do some research on the internet.
4. Test drive a couple of vans.
5. Do more research.
6. Look at some more vans.
7. Do more research.
8. Test drive some vans until you're totally confused about which van is which.
9. Do more research.
10. Get your spouse to go with you to test drive more vans.
11. Do more research.
12. Drive some more vans.
13. Decide on a van you want.
14. Carefully check pricing.
15. Make offer.
16. Drive it home.

We're really happy with our 2006 Chrysler Town and Country. The color is called Magnesium. It's kind a deep green/blue. We really like the seat warmers, the radio, the CD player,the automatic doors, the sunroof, the stow and go seats, and the DVD player. And it runs pretty good too!

Signs of Spring

Spring has sprung on Sturbridge Road as you can see by the trumpeting daffodils! Other sure signs of spring are that the windows are open more often, there are buds on the trees, Kara and Natalie are wearing flip flops more often, the robins are back, and the weeds are growing faster than the grass and flowers. It's a great time of year. I'm excited to get outside and start gardening again. I just wish my enthusiasm would carry over through the hot, humid summer...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My First Post

Inspired by the many bloggers out there that I follow, especially my daughter Laura, I've decided it's time to try this myself now. I've been reluctant to do this for a couple of reasons. Number one, time seems to be pretty full already, and two, I'm not sure my life is interesting enough to blog about; but in a way, those are reasons I want to do this. I think this may help me in organizing my time better and inspire me to do things worth blogging/journaling about. It will be a way to keep our family informed as we grow and spread out across the country. I don't intend to make this blog all about me, but will feature news, events, and day to day happenings of all of us. So......who are we? To answer that question, I've decided to start by copying some other blogs I've seen that list the 25 random facts goes....


1. Skip and I celebrate our 28th anniversary this Saturday, the 21st.

2. Our family character list: Skip- the Dad, Emily - the Mom, Laura Barnett- the oldest daughter, Karsten Barnett - Laura's handsome husband, Aiden - their adorable almost 3 year old son, Emma their cute 15 month old daughter, Beth - the 2nd daughter, Michael Braecklein - her husband to be on April 10, Ryan - the son, Dara - Ryan's beautiful wife, Kara - the 3rd daughter, Natalie - the youngest of the family at 16, Cody - the dog

3. After Emily's birthday, everyone's age will be an odd number

4. All of us except Skip play one or two musical instruments.

5. The only foreign country ALL of us have visited is Canada.

6. We have a pull-up bar in our kitchen doorway, and someone uses it almost every day.

7. Keeping track of nights spent in the hospital:
Natalie - 45
All the rest of us combined - about 30

8. We drink 2 gallons of skim milk a week.

9. We prefer hot chocolate made in a pot.

10. We have never owned a cat.

11. We love finding things in Grandma Baird's closet.

12. All of our children balanced on Skip's hand when they were babies.

13. Our family motto is: "Stand Up and Be Counted"

14. Everyone in our family loves sushi except Skip who thinks it's a waste of money.

15. There are 6 walking sticks in our hall closet.

16. Number of books read last year
Emily - about 20
Everyone else combined - 3

17. Our favorite breakfast is crepes.

18. One of our favorite family traditions features the saying of "Boom-shak-a-lak-a-lak-a".

19. Since we've been married, we've lived in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Indiana, Texas, Belgium, and Virginia again.

20. We LOVE visiting Washington, D.C. Some of us love exploring the museums, and some love exploring the shops in Georgetown more.

21. We've been to Yellowstone Park twice, and both times someone has almost died.

22. Family Night is usually always on Monday.

23. Two of our favorite movies are "Little Women" and "The Princess Bride"

24. One of our favorite family quotes: "I didn't see myself do it."

25. We love "Witch Filiboo" stories and playing hide-and-go-seek in the dark.