I'll take the olive. I've got my own twist.

I find myself at a loss for words these days.

I am going through an incredible life-changing event and I am having a very difficult time writing about it.

It’s crazy.

I’ve blogged about my sister, brother, Bitchy, Sassy, Golden Boy and all the trials and tribulations of raising said children; the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ve blogged about stalking, fighting, teen driving, teen dating, teen screaming, teaching, hurting, laughing and heartache.

I’ve written about everything in my life; everything but this. This event has me speechless. And that’s hard to do.

I don’t feel comfortable (surprisingly) writing about anything that might hurt any of the parties involved; ANY of the parties. (Holy crap, have I finally learned how to use a semi-colon?)

I don’t know why.

Is there a right way to do this? No.

Is there a guide about how to end a marriage? No.

Do we all do things the same way? No.

I only know that no matter who chooses to finally right something that has been wrong for so long, those long tentacles of pain reach out and wrap themselves around many, many people.

I am trying to find a way to put words to all that is happening, but do it in a way that will be true to who I am.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to visit me, for your emails, your cards and your support. It has lifted me in ways I CAN’T TELL YOU and is helping me each and every day. And the funnies? Keep ‘em coming. I’m feeling the magic as we speak.

I can’t wait to find my voice again, to laugh out loud while writing, and to feel good about myself.

Now, I am going to settle into my new home, check the mousetraps, put a log on the fire and bury myself in a good book. Have a lovely new year, everyone.

Wait, didn't she drop off the face of the earth???

Oh Braja, I knew you were still with us. A near death car accident would not keep you down.

The Chant for Bloggers of the Universe

Dear Vodka Mom,

A whole 3 DAYS???!! Three godforsaken days of a thousand bloggers moaning out loud, "Oh, crap, another bloody guest blogger on Vodka's site...click...next blog..." I can't deal with all the negative vibes! I needed to meditate...to run to the cowshed, where the smell of the hay and the slippery wet licks of the cows are like balm for my aching soul. As I sat myself in the corner, fending off the nuzzles of the tiny calves, peace began to descend. I was transported to another realm...it was a blissful abode of light and laughter, happiness and joy...was I dreaming??

And then, as an eerie silence descended on the cowshed, a lone voice reached my ears....


The deep resonance of the chant was all-attractive...


Realization dawned in my heart: the chant for blogger universe had descended from another realm. The cows were imparting blogger-realization...

"Vodkam Ommmmm.....Vodkam Ommmmm....Vodkam Ommmmm...."

And all was at peace in the world.



ps: Hurry back or I'll boil your bunnies...


Someone get out the borscht- Marinka's here.

It's true- laughter IS the best medicine. If you haven't visited Marinka, then you haven't lived.

There are people out there, mythical creatures, who delight in helping new parents. All under the guise of friendship. II don’t know what kind of scam they’re running, but I wish they’d knock it the hell off.

Because when I was a new mom, many years ago, these people descended upon me and fed me load upon load of unadulterated bull&@^@.

See, my daughter was a terrible sleeper. She’d wake up every few hours, not crying, but sort of chatting. It was almost as though the 90 minutes that she’d slept from 7:30 until 9:00 pm were enough to sustain her and although she’d fall back asleep eventually, she’d be up before 6 am for good.

And instead of being truly compassionate and saying “sorry you got a sleep freak child, Marinka, how about I treat you to a Starbucks or anything else you may want” these “helpful” “friends” would lie and say things like “she’ll grow out of it!” and “by the time she’s a teenager, you won’t even remember this!”

Well, my daughter is now almost a teenager and let me tell you something: She is still a freakishly early riser and I still remember every bitter morning that I had to get up early when she was a toddler.

As a matter of fact, the only way that I will ever forget her sleeping habits is if I have a stroke or early onset dementia. Both probably caused by errant sleeping habits. (Just kidding, sweetie, if you’re reading this! I love being your mom and wouldn’t trade a second of it! Except those super-early morning seconds, of course. They are totally up for grabs!)

But seriously. Let’s stop Pollyannaing new parents. Being a new mom is hard. Yes, it’s wonderful, too, of course, and none of us would trade the experience for the world, but sleep issues can break the best of us. Let’s acknowledge it and stop sugarcoating it. Yes, new parents, you’ll get through it. And there is help out there (thank you, Dr. Ferber!) But you’ll have flashbacks forever.


It's a (not so) hostile take-over. (aka I get by with a little help from my friends.)

I am spending some time with my children; wrapping myself in the familiar routines of errands, shopping, fighting, yelling, laughing, eating, talking and hugging.

Among the many heart-warming gifts I have received of late are ones that have come from many of you. They have come in many shapes and sizes, and the ones I will share this week come from my talented friends who live here in bloggyland. For the next few days I will be hosting some guests here at Vodkamom. So, mind your manners, and enjoy the writing of some of my very talented good friends, who have joined hands in an attempt to help me find my mojo.

I give you Ann.

Dear Senora Vodka,

If I was Christian and this was lent, could I give up my children for this next week of Winter break?

When I had my babies the nurses loved to tell me that I was the expert--the authority on my babies. They said I should follow my instincts, because I knew my babies better than anyone.

Maybe I was an expert--if "expert" means almost forgetting the second child in his carseat/bucket under a library carol at 8 weeks old, and not really learning his name until he reached 6 months old (and to this day having one morphed combo name for both of them: MMMMalliott get your soggy pull-up out of the hallway, please.

If I was the resident expert with babies, the school teacher has officially taken over. She is undoubtedly the authority of my children, and not only knows my children better than anyone, but has also built up emotional, biological, and psychological immunity to them.


My Six year old forgot how to share this past week of vacation, yet mastered the art of psychological sibling warfare mmmm this chocolate is soooo good, don't you wish you had some? Too bad you already ate yours mmmmm I'm so good at saving things mmmm

My four year old is so tripped out on sugar and plastic that he not only has lost his manners but goes from barking "COOKIE" to full-metal-tantrum before you can oh-so-calmly advise "That's a ONE"

Calling all teachers: Please take the children back now. NOW now.

For you are trained and certified and an expert at practiced-enthusiasm, When you sing it is with your heart and not with vacuous eyes and using only your bottom lip. You read stories and pause for learning opportunities instead of pausing from if this child is not asleep in five minutes I will hurl myself Baukugan-style against the wall, or luge myself far away from the property in our yellow plastic sled never to return.

We've had a week of sledding and museum and sledding and playdates (see Six year olds who forgot how to share) and sledding and WHERE ARE MY MORE PRESENTS protesters.

Our children miss their schedule. Our children miss their structure. And WE MISS OUR VODKA.

Come baaaaaaaaaaaack.


Some gifts cannot be wrapped...

I have enjoyed watching Ms. Perky grow into her own as the newest member of our kindergarten teaching team. Oh sure, she's cute, adorable, intelligent, funny, perky and YOUNG, but dammit we love her in spite all of that. (We're convinced she's twelve, but she insists she's not.)

My heart skips a beat each time she shares one of the lessons she's learned with me, and I have often felt that we are kindred spirits - even though I'm a FEW years older. We both agree that long-range planning means 30 minutes before the kids arrive; that the bad little boys make us smile; that white can be worn any day of the year; that every day is a new day, and that you can always find something to love about each and every child.

We were sharing some stories, our incredible Christmas gifts and smiles after the last day before Christmas vacation, when she started to tear up.

"I think the best present of all came from Max," she continued, as she reached into her pocket for something.

"I was opening all those amazing presents, and he was standing back watching quietly. I knew he wasn't able to bring anything in, and I felt awkward opening all the presents - but I knew the kids wanted me to open what they had brought. I was trying to be low-key, but they were crazy with excitement!" I smiled, knowing full well what craziness she was referring to, as the whole school shook that day. Some of us might have even yelled once or twice. Maybe.

"So I was done, and sent the kids to the carpet when Max came up to me. He handed me this big rubber band, and said 'I got this for you Miss Perky. You know, to put your hair into your pony tail.' It was the rubber band that I had seen on the floor by my desk."

She wiped her eyes and smiled. "That small gesture has given me the best gift of all. He gave me a gift that was real, honest and pure - and right from the heart."

And then she pulled up her hair and put that dirty, filthy rubber band in her hair.

I love her. (Even if she IS young and adorable.)


A Merry Christmas, and happy holiday to you all.

(This might explain why I'm claustrophobic.)

I wish you all peace, love and joy this holiday season. May your cookies not go to your hips, may your gatherings be joyful and may you laugh until you cry.

It's Christmas Day evening and I am sitting in front of the fireplace warming my feet and my soul. I have successfully eaten the last of the shrimp mousse, the chocolate truffles from the Witman Sampler, the last two pieces of the sour dough baguette, some Camembert cheese and I have not been to the gym in six days. S.I.X. The floor is still covered with wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons and bags, and I don't plan on picking them up until tomorrow.

Sleep well my friends, and I hope your day was very, very merry.


Fancy Nancy needs a home...

I've decided to start the giveaway today. Tomorrow I'll be wrapping, cooking, crying, wrapping more, and keeping myself distracted from all that ails.

I found several packages nestled on my doorstep last week. One of them was from a publishing company in NYC with some beautiful gifts. (I was hoping it was a CONTRACT or an OFFER but I guess you need an agent for that...) Anyway, in light of the season, I'd like to offer these goodies up to a deserving fan.

For those of you who don't KNOW Nancy, she's an adorable little character from the Fancy Nancy books, written by one talented Jane O'Connor. Nancy's captured the hearts of moms, teachers and young children everywhere and I am duly honored to be able to share these gifts.

The doll AND a DS game to play on what Frank calls his PDA. (I know, I know.)

A gorgeous hardbound version of the new Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique.
Who doesn't LOVE paper dolls? Let's be honest.

This is a reusable sticker book- and God knows where THOSE stickers will end up.

And finally a box filled with various other Nancy goodies.

You job, as if you aren't busy enough?

1. You should probably tweet this a hundred times.
2. Find me about 500 more loyal followers.
3. Send a prayer up for any friends or neighbors in need this holiday. Make a call, deliver some cookies, or drop a card in the mail. They will appreciate it, I guarantee it.
4. Relax. Slow down, enjoy the day, and wrap your children in your arms.
5. Oh, and leave a comment explaining why you're worthy.

I will end this contest on Sunday, and promptly ship out the package Monday morning. I can't wait to send this to a child who will love Nancy with all her heart.

Merry, merry my friends. I send a kiss out to all of you, as you have lifted me beyond measure.

The best way to raise a teacher's spirit, and a Fancy Nancy.

We never, ever expect presents. It's true! However, when we do receive them, our hearts are lifted and we are incredibly thankful. (And in some cases, we laugh out loud.)

Yesterday I was lifted in many, many ways, and left school smiling - even though I had spent seven hours trying desperately to keep a tight lid on a pot of shaking, emotional, loud, excited, wild five-year olds.

Proof positive that there is a God.

Yes, those are Oregon State Lottery Tickets, cleverly disguised in a bouquet. Brilliant.

It's a body scrub. A sticky bun body scrub! Just make sure you're not hungry before your bath.

I've decided there might be some people in my town who read my blog. :-)

Now, for the Fancy Nancy. See that stuff below? I'm giving it away. Stay tuned for details tomorrow. It's December 23, time to start my shopping.


The only thing that would complete this week would be a full blown blizzard.

I spent most of today trying to re-direct Frank.

First, I spent the better part of morning meeting explaining to him why talking about guns, hunting, shooting animals, eating road-kill and how people freezing to death in the winter were not appropriate things to be sharing with your fellow FIVE-YEAR OLDS.

Then, I had to interrogate him during free play in front of the (scared) six other boys he was playing with until I finally managed to get him to admit that he was talking about bringing in his NERF gun for tomorrow’s show and tell, and not his REAL gun. And yes, he was just kidding when he said there were guns in his backpack. He meant to "thay GUM."

Finally, during math time Alicia informed me that Frank told her and her best friend Kat that he was going to kiss BOTH of them in the coat closet at the end of the day. (You know Mrs. Smythe, he really, really likes me.) It took ten minutes of valuable math center time to convince Frank that he was NOT to be kissing the girls, and truth be told they were not his girlfriends at ALL if they hadn’t agreed to be his girlfriends. In the end he just decided to break up with them.


And on a final note to Mother Nature, the teachers in the free world would like to thank for not only throwing in a full moon one day before Christmas break, but adding the lunar eclipse.



Nighttime. Daytime. Nighttime. Daytime. (Spells winner to me.)

Chris- I want to thank you for FINALLY getting me to laugh out loud. For the first time in about two months.

I get by with a little help from my friends. (Watch it the whole way through. Don't you trust me by now????) (Oh, and a vote over here might lift me up! ha)

Some stories are worth sharing twice. (or twenty times.)

First, a word of advice - When making life changing decision, be sure to do it at the most stressful and emotional time of year. (Another indicator that I am indeed Polish.)

So, in the spirit of my need to laugh, here’s a story from last year.

We do sharing every morning after our greeting. It gives me a good laugh, and helps us get to know each other.

Celia: “My brother’s eye is swollen and we don’t know why.”

Steven: “My brother was swollen one time in his private parts (pointing to his crotch). It was his BALL!! It got all big and purple! It looked like a big purple grape!

Me: Uh. Okay. Well. Sharing is over...

(Now, who wants to do my shopping for me?)


Even Mother Teresa probably had a bad day once. It was probably in December.

This time of year is challenging for all of us, but those of us in the trenches of this glittery, crafty, emotional Christmas tornado are wearing suits of armor to school. (And a packing a full bottle of Tylenol.)

Many of us like to call the month "When even the GOOD go bad" as we watch the little ones shake each day with uncontrollable anticipation. We see the children who have potential for challenging behavior become unglued, and the ones we've already wrapped in our arms are even more, um, entertaining.

It's the children that provide unexpected things that really surprise us.

Take Mollie, for example.

Mollie is a thirty-year old college professor cleverly disguised as an adorable fiveyear old. Sure, she laughs and jokes and plays Barbie's with the the other little people; but when no one's looking she's reading The Magic School Bus Chapter Books, discussing chemistry and doing square roots in her head. (I can tell.)

Today she came up to me with a shy, almost embarrassed look. "Mrs. Smythe, when I was in the bathroom I kind of had a tiny, tiny accident and leaked a teeny tiny bit on my pants. I'm going to go change, okay?" (We keep the box of extra clothes right in the nook by the bathrooms. We're brilliant sometimes.)

"Sure, Mollie. We all know accidents happen, and they happen to everyone, everyday, right?"

"Right!" She smiled a bit, and turned to walk back to the bathroom.

That's when I heard it.

Squish. Squish.

Walking away from me was someone who was DRIPPING from her completely SOAKED pants. My mouth dropped open.

SQUISH, squish, squish.

Her feet were floating in little boats filled with, um, something that was NOT water.

Teeny tiny???? Perhaps she's not as gifted as I thought.


When my brain is fried, I rely on others to make me smile.

(Wordless Wednesday. Which is quite convenient, as I my brain and heart are both shot right now.)


Just make sure you order it properly. Or NO SOUP FOR YOU.

I have never considered myself a great cook. However, I bake a mean loaf of bread, an amazing apple pie, a lovely raspberry pie, and decent stuffed cabbage. I can also provide decent meals for my family, take extra care around the holidays, and have recently realized that when you DO follow a recipe, great things CAN happen.

I was attending an in-door field hockey event last year when I tasted the most incredible soup ever. E.V.E.R. It was Italian Wedding Soup, and I spent most of the day tracking down the cook. Coincidentally, it was the mother of one of Sassy’s best friends, who informed me that the recipe was from the Barefoot Contessa. Ina. Ina Garten.

I have been making it once a month since then, and have found that not only does it warm me on the inside, it has become my go to comfort dish.

I want to share it with all of you.


For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground chicken

1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed

2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

3 tablespoons milk

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 cup minced yellow onion

1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces

3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces

10 cups homemade chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars

1/4 cup minced fresh dill

12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

Do yourself a favor and try this soup. It is the best soup you will ever have. Honestly, if I CAN MAKE IT, anyone can.



And YOU get a mouse, and YOU get a mouse, and YOU get a mouse. (Let's see Oprah do THAT.)

If I could, I would send each of you a billion dollars, a thousand hugs and a trip to Bermuda.

Unfortunately, I've been spending the few pennies I have on mouse traps, cutlery and bedding from the Goodwill and a security deposit for my new space.

However, I have been receiving emails left and right from companies offering giveaways for my loyal followers. Several caught my eye, and I am thrilled to start the giveaway weekend with an amazing gift from the people over at Oxfam. As soon as I saw the name Hidalgo, I KNEW I was in. (He had me at the Inn when he rescued Frodo.) Good Lord this video is hysterical.

Today I am offering the winner the gift of giving TWO school meal programs to some needy children, which will allow them to eat for free for a year. Oh sure, I was tempted to give a goat, a sheep, or a family of chickens, but I resisted. When I saw the school lunch program, you know my heart was won over.

In addition to this incredible gift, I would love to also send the winner some local goodies from my hometown here in Smythe, Oregon. I will fill the box with a few of my reading treasures, locally produced items, and several other surprises.

What do YOU have to do? Well, here goes:

1. Leave a funny story, comment about your kids and the holidays. I'm BEHIND on my column and need some funny stuff, people!
2. Pay for someone's coffee at Starbucks.
3. Send me some mouse traps.
4. TWEET this contest!!!
5. Drop a few cents in the Salvation Army bucket.
6. Check out the Oxfam website. Let me know which gift catches YOUR eye.
8. Do ONE, none, or all of the above.

Now, let's get cracking. (Contest ends Friday. My favorite day.) (Oh, a comment is an entry. Does that clear up my confusing list?)


I think there should be an Olympic Event for Kindergarten Teachers. (A "Crazy Juggling and Herding Cats" event.)

My Tuesday To-Do List.

1. Remind Annie that when she changes into her snow-pants in the hallway, she is NOT to remove her real pants - especially if the principal and two members of the school board are touring the building.

2. Remind Frank and Stanley that the teddy bears are not bad guys and can’t be used to shoot the girls dead during free play in the kitchen area.

3. Clearly define the difference between hugging and strangling someone within an inch of their life.

4. Put a tape recorder close to the bathroom so that when Daisy sings “DyNoMite” at the top of her lungs while making a deposit, we can play it for the judges of American Idol. She rocks. (In the privacy of the bathroom, of course.)

5. Remind John not to leave the bathroom with his pants around his ankles. (And tell him to shut the door.)

6. Have Frank re-do the portrait of his stuffed polar bear. Call me crazy, but a scary vampire bear with blood on his teeth and a Mohawk doesn’t even CLOSELY resemble the adorable polar bear that was in his lap.

7. Reinstate nap-time.

Someone pass me a HUGE loaf of bread and about a pound of butter. I need a snack.