Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Here I sit in my new pink snowflake pajamas enjoying another day off. The last few days haven't been as busy as I thought they might be. Christmas Eve was busy with the afternoon spent with Arrty's side of the family and the evening spent with mine. But Christmas Day was very quiet. Mom left for W.Va. early that morning (2:00am) to be with her family who had called about grandpa being ill. He died Monday evening and I worried for her because she was alone on the train. I wanted so badly to hug her and wished that I was with her. She seemed okay when I talked to her. I think she was expecting it might happen while she was on her way.

Since she was gone, the rest of us were kind of lost. At least I felt like I was. Dad and Ada went to see "The Nativity Story" and our family went to see "Night At the Museum." It was weird going to the movies on Christmas, but we ran into several people that we knew and the movie was actually very entertaining. (Believe it or not, Robin Williams is a great Teddy Roosevelt!) Christmas night we continued our tradition of watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

And yesterday, we watched movies, put away gifts, ate leftovers, and enjoyed our little family. I got the kitchen cleaned including cleaning out the pantry, which was quite a chore. All three boys spent a while outside in the fresh snow. Arrty shoveling and the boys playing, of course. Last night, we watched "The Pacifier" which I got in my stocking. Amazing what a little Vin can do!

As I write, it all sounds very boring. But sometimes boring is good. Sitting and watching movies or reading is such a rare event in real life, so I want to take advantage of it in vacation life. One thing I want for the new year is a simpler, slower life. I guess this week is good practice. Now I'm off to organize the hall closet--one more step closer to that simpler life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


It's here! It's finally here! The last day of school before Christmas vacation. The day teachers all across the country look forward to. I have discovered that (at least for kindergarteners) once the Christmas tree goes up at home, students couldn't care less about what "v" says or how much a nickel is worth. All they care about is the lights and the candy canes and the presents. They are much more interested in Santa Claus than Abraham Lincoln. (Who isn't!?!) So, the month of December is pretty much spent doing art and making presents for parents. And that, if it weren't for the kids being on fast forward, would be fine with me.

Another good thing about being a teacher at Christmas is the gifts. Today I got an angel pin, a pair of Christmas socks, a candle, 2 ornaments, some chocolate, and two gift cards to Michaels. I love everything of course, but the best part is watching a five year old's face when I open their carefully chosen and wrapped gifts to me. They are more excited than me!

But now, I am so glad to have 13 days off from school. 13 days to rest. Kind of. The next 4 will be spent getting ready for Christmas. Then the busy-ness of the holiday for 2 days. Then 7 days to rest. Two days which will be spent cleaning up from the holday, then 1 day spent cleaning the basement, and 2 days organizing for the new year, and 1 day spent at school planning for next quarter. Okay, that leaves 1 day to rest. But at this point, I'll gladly take 1 day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do Re Mi

Okay, I confess, I am not thrilled about directing the singing for this year's Christmas program. Last year I was so stressed about it that I was physically ill. I think it's a control issue, so this year I planned ahead and said no before I was even asked. But then about a month ago, it was discovered that no one was teaching the kids their 4 songs for the play. So, of course, being who I am, I agreed (a little grumpily) to do it. For the last three and a half weeks I have been teaching 4-12 year olds "The First Noel," "Joy To The World," "Away In A Manger," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." They are actually doing quite well. Some of them sing off key, some sit there with a bewildered look on their cute little faces, some scream instead of sing. But, then there's a moment. A moment when they're all singing (mostly in tune) and looking at me and doing just what they should. And it's in that moment that I smile and remember that these children, God's children, are what it's all about. Next Tuesday, when their parents are sitting in the audience with cameras at the ready, they are not going to care if our C is a little flat. They just want to see their little angels (and shepherds and manger animals) on that stage waving at them and smiling. And singing, with all their might, the story of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Past

I don't have very many mementos from my childhood. (Unlike someone I know who still has her Donny Osmond lunchbox from 1976!) I have the stuffed rabbit that my dad brought to the hospital the day I was born, the hope chest he made me when I was 16, the blanket my mom made for me when I was in grade school, and two Cabbage Patch Kids from the early '80s. And I have a Raggedy Ann doll. She is not your ordinary Raggedy Ann doll. She didn't come from a store and she cost very little. Her body is made from old beige sheets, her clothes are made from scraps of material, and her hair from leftover yarn. She has blue eyes and a big grin painted on for her face. On her chest she has a red painted heart that says, "I love you, Jen." I got her for Christmas one year when I was too young to know that store bought toys weren't a possibility. I didn't know and I didn't care. I loved that doll. But now when I see her, I see so much more than fabric and paint and yarn. I see my mom sitting up after I had gone to bed carefully cutting and stitching and painting even though she was tired from her long day. I see her hoping that this simple, hand-made doll would be enough. I see her loving me so much that she did her very best to make me happy with what she had. I see the woman and mother that I want to be. And this precious treasure that means so much more to me than any store bought doll ever could, will always help me see the true meaning of Christmas--that we love because he first loved us.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's Snowing

It's cold. It's snowing. It's winter.

I knew it was coming. It's one of those things that happens every year, but you never know quite when. At least it waited until after Thanksgiving. We had about five inches of snow in the yard on Friday which worked out well because the boys played out in it for about three blissfully quiet hours. I read Redbook. I took a little nap. I did dishes without having to stop to make chocolate milk even once. It was nice. I even ventured out to take pictures of them all bundled up in their new boots and snow pants and rolling a huge snowball in the yard. They are so cute in their toboggan hats with pink cheeks and twinkling eyes.

And today it has snowed even more. Inch upon inch it piles up in the yard and makes me wish we had a fireplace to sit in front of. And surprisingly, I'm okay with it. (What could I do anyway?) I'll set out boots and gloves and hats for everyone tonight. I'll drink hot tea before bed to warm my toes. I'll get up a little earlier so I can leave early to avoid rushing. And I'll thank God that I live here, where the seasons show themselves so clearly and beautifully just as he planned.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Home At Last

Mom is back!! Thank goodness. I don't know if any of us could have made it much longer. I realized a long time ago that she is truly the rock on which our family stands, but having her be 2500 miles away for the past 24 days made that all the more clear. I am glad that she was able to spend some time visiting and caring for her parents. I know that they appreciate it and that she needs to do it for her own peace of mind. But, did I say how glad I am that she's home. My boys and especially my nephew have missed her. She is such a wonderful grandma and the boys just adore her. Josh kept count of how many days she was gone and how many until she got back. Needless to say, he wasn't thrilled when she decided to stay longer than planned. My sister missed her for many reasons, but mostly because she had to find alternative child care for my nephew who would rather be with grandma and has repeatedly let her know it. And I was beginning to worry about my dad. His frozen meals were almost depleted and the refrigerator was empty except for butter, ketchup, and some wilty hot dogs that I hope he didn't resort to eating. Sure, he went to the store, but all he bought was shrimp and the makings for hillbilly coolers. And I missed her so much more than I anticipated. She goes back east twice a year and spends ten to fourteen days so I really didn't think too much about this trip being any different. But when two weeks stretched into three, I began to realize just how much I was missing our daily phone calls and biweekly (or more) visits at her house. The older I get the more I appreciate her wisdom and love.
So she's home and we are all glad. We are all so glad for so many reasons. We have all come to understand a little clearer what she means to our family day in and day out. And besides that, we really didn't want Pizza Hut for Thanksgiving dinner!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

W. Va.

I have been thinking a lot about my grandparents lately. Grandpa's health, physical and mental, is beginning to fail and since they are in my prayers, they are in my thoughts. When I was very little, we lived on their property only a minutes walk away. I remember the walk. I remember the house with the slightly slanted kitchen floor, the dark room where my cousins said the previous owner died, and the cupboard where grandma kept the marshmallow cream that she spooned out for me when no one was around. I remember grandpa working in his old shop and tinkering with old cars and old tools and his voice ringing with a mixture of fussing and gospel songs. I remember playing Slap Jack with grandma and usually winning. I remember sitting in a long line of cousins in their hallway on Christmas Eve enjoying our new Barbies and 64 count crayons. I remember catching lightening bugs and putting them in jars until bed time. I remember basketball games, crossing the rickety bridge, looking for crawdads in the creek, grandma's cornbread and milk, the school bus stop, the hills, the tadpoles, the flowers, the warm feeling I felt in the chaos that was family dinners, watching for rattlesnakes, the smell of Irish Spring in the bathroom, sitting on the front porch playing "guess the color of the next car that drives by," and my grandpa saying after he burps, "Not bad manners, just good eatin'". They watch Wheel of Fortune every night and every night grandpa questions whether or not they actually need Vanna White to turn the letters. I remember one night grandma rolling her eyes and whispering to me, "He says that every night."

When I was older and we moved away, the visits to my grandparents house became yearly events instead of daily. I grew and they grew and I felt like I didn't really know them. So one visit I decided to find out more about them. I watched them closely to try to get a sense of who they are. And I asked questions. I asked my grandpa how he met grandma. Instantly his eyes lit up and he told me the story about walking into a drugstore and seeing the most beautiful girl he had ever seen behind the counter. Since then they have been married for close to sixty years and have seven children and lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

One thing that I do know about my grandparents, even though I don't see them often, is that they love their family. They love all of us regardless of where we live or how often they see us. And because of that love, whenever we leave, grandpa won't say goodbye. He'll only say, "see you later," because he knows, one way or another, he will.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chick Trips Rock

The Top 10 Things I Love About Chick Trips

10. Building lifelong friendships
9. Watching chick flicks with my favorite chicks
8. Mini road trips (even in circles)
7. Spending 55 solid hours with 4 of my favorite people
6. Solving the world's problems in my p.j.s over a cup of coffee, tea or diet coke.
5. Finding out that Trivial Pursuit is not trivial (TROUBLE?!?!)
4. Scrapbooking (or sewing or puzzling) with friends
3. Laughing about everything and nothing
2. Our mini church services (where two or more are gathered together...)
1. The chicks and the memories we share

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Building Blogs

I remember when I was pregnant and all of a sudden there were like a million pregnant ladies in our town. Everywhere I went I saw at least five lovely, glowing woman in maternity shirts and comfortable shoes. I finally figured out at about month eight that it was probably just spending so much time in the baby department at Target that exposed me to so many who shared my condition. Or maybe it was just that I noticed them more because of our mutual situation. It was probably both.

The same thing happened about a month ago when we got a new car. Parker Toyota must have had a busy month because when I started driving my new minivan, so did twenty other families in Coeur d' Alene. Not only that, they all chose the exact same color as me! Okay, so maybe they already had theirs and maybe they weren't all shimmering blue. But before I drove mine I never noticed theirs.

Then Monday I was driving to NIC for my evening child development class when, to my surprise, the reader board was announcing the NIC SCIENCE BLOG. I thought that was pretty cool that the science department had a blog. I was wondering who wrote it and what it might be about as I drove closer to the sign. And just as I drove past, to my disappointment, I realized that it actually said NIC SCIENCE BLDG. Either their D needs to be a little pointier, or I had blogging on my mind. Oh, well, too bad for all those college scientists who will never know the joy of blogging.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays

Rainy days, especially warm rainy days, always make me think of my childhood. I really only remember a few things from those early years, but one particular rainy afternoon sticks with me. It was raining one of those good, southern, summer rains. The kind that you can see and hear and smell. I don't remember why we did it, but my dad and I were holding hands and running down the little dirt road from our house to my grandparents house, barefoot and laughing. It felt like we were running through a tunnel with the lush, green plants all around and above us as we made our way over and through the the warm, muddy puddles. When we got to their house, we looked in the window and waved, ran around a little more and then headed home. It was a short excursion but one that made an impression on me of how to enjoy the moment. And on more than one occasion, I have pulled my own surprised children out into the rain to splash and laugh and enjoy.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Country Livin'

I thought that I had become a city girl. I wondered how I, being born in the hills of West Virginia and spending many childhood days on the banks of creeks and in the shade of tall trees, could turn out to be a woman who preferred air conditioned restaurants to picnics and movie theaters to hiking. But that's what I thought had happened. Until today. I willingly went outside to help my husband with some chores to encourage family time. He, I, and the boys went out in the yard and started on a few winter preparation jobs. It was a perfect fall day with warm temperatures and a blue sky. So I grabbed a bucket and began pulling weeds from the red rock landscaping in front of the porch. I was sitting on the sidewalk getting dirt under my nails and grass stains on my fingers with the quiet of a Sunday afternoon around me when it hit me. I liked it. I liked the cool air and the smell of fall in the air. I liked looking across the fields to the mountains a few miles away. I liked the sound of nothing. No television, no phones ringing, no radio. Only the sound of peaceful conversation and an occasional laugh as my family enjoyed our time together. So maybe I was wrong. Maybe I'm not as much of a city girl as I thought. Maybe those camping trips from years ago still linger somewhere in my mind. Maybe I should go on more picnics and hikes. I think I like them after all. I have a feeling that this city girl is a country girl at heart.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Here We Go

I have been thinking for a while about blogging. I love reading other blogs and since I am constantly writing in my head, I thought I would give it a try. The hardest part so far was thinking of a title. I thought of and vetoed several and some that I tried were already taken. I finally decided on "A Butterfly Moment." A butterfly moment is my invented phrase to describe that moment when all is well. A moment of peace and tranquility. It could happen when you are alone or in a group of thousands. It could happen at home or church or on the top of a mountain. You never know when it might occur, but you always know when it has. You can feel it. It's one of those rare moments when no matter where you are, your heart is light and you can't help but smile.
So, that's what I want this blog to be. A moment for you and I to enjoy something good. I can't promise that my writing or subject matter will be good every post. But just like in life, once in a while, I hope we can share a butterfly moment.