Jewels.....it's the real way to a woman's heart....

I am very overwhelmed as of late by all that is happening in my life. 

I am learning a brand new curriculum, many new UNITS, falling in love with new friends, mourning the absence of old and dear ones, and navigating a most wonderful and scary journey of the heart.  I would never have thought that at fifty (cough) I might meet someone with an incredible heart and soul.  (But more about THAT later.)

The children came into the classroom yesterday full of excitement and energy.  We were set to release our butterfly that morning, and they were so excited.  They performed their morning housekeeping chores, and sat down to “read to self” when Max ran over to me.  He grabbed my arm, and pushed a bracelet on it.

It was most lovely, skulls and all.

After school I sent a picture of my new acquisition to Mr. Darcy, as he had made me promise to keep him abreast of his competition. 

He picked me up that night for dinner, and after opening the car door and making sure I was comfortable in my seat, he got into the car himself.

“Okay.  By now you KNOW that I won’t hurt you, murder you, kidnap you and drive you across state lines, right?  Okay.  So, would you feel comfortable closing your eyes? I have a little something for you, but I want to put it in your hands.”

I laughed, closed my eyes and held out my hands.   He opened his glove compartment and set something long and narrow into my hands.

I opened my eyes and was SHOCKED!   It was a gift so special and thoughtful, and I was so incredibly shocked!


“Can Max drive to the special jewelry store?  I think not.”

And today I proudly wore the necklace Mr. Darcy had so thoughtfully placed in my hands. (Max's eyes were GLUED to me all morning, along with 17 other sets.  "Where did you get THAT?" he asked a thousand times.)    Oh sure, I gave MOST of the pieces away ALL DAY LONG, but it was one of the most EFFECTIVE pieces of jewelry I’ve received in a long, long time.  (Walking in the hallway quietly = pieces of candy?  Brilliant. Whoever said bribery never works has NEVER worked with children.)

I’m still not sure it trumps the skulls hanging on my wrist, but it’s a start.

Let the games begin. 


I call you, raise you...trump you...what ARE the rules, anyway??

Well, Mr. Darcy, the flowers (again) this morning were a brilliant and thoughtful move on your part.

However, after lunch I was invited for a swing and walk around the playground.

THEN, right before read aloud, Max reached into his pocket and trumped your five hundred dollar flower arrangement with this.

I do believe the ball's in your court.

(But the court sure looks great surrounded by all these pretty, pretty posies....)


Guess what? I think, maybe...there really IS some good in this world.


I think I met someone.

I mean... I REALLY think I met someone.......... who might a  REAL Prince Charming. (Sure, he's 6'6" and has a JOB,  but it seems to work....)

(I'm too afraid to talk about it right now..... so, let's just keep this between ourselves for now....shall we????)

Carry on...........


Straight up. No chaser.

Today’s first grade lesson:

Walk at the END of the line when walking a first grade class down the hallway.

 (And when Max wears the sneakers with the extra long shoelaces, he will most likely totally tie them together in library and hop the entire length of the hallway as you lead your class to your room located at the end of said hallway. No one will tell on him THIS time, except perhaps the principal who was fortunately on his way to your classroom to observe your excellent classroom management skills. Yeah.  I'm pretty sure I impressed him.)

And make it four olives.  At least. 


A gift at the end of a very, very, very long day...(Is it a full moon? Storm a brewin'??)

Today Max peed into the drain in the floor of the boy’s bathroom with most of the 14 other boys watching.    They couldn’t WAIT to tell me all about it.

Apparently, the honeymoon is over.

(I need some Advil.  At the very least….)


And he was the king of the wild things.....(Let the wild rumpus begin..)

His name is Max, and he’s all boy.

He comes to school with his hat on backwards and smiling a devilish smile that will most certainly get him out of a lot of trouble in the future.  He stirs the pot without even lifting a finger...and has it down to a science.

I’ve had to move him away from almost every boy in the class while we are sitting on the carpet. He can’t keep his hands to himself; he hums, he picks, he laughs, he wrestles and he is always, always moving.

At recess he runs a hundred miles and hour. He starts with the football players, moves to the basketball court, the swings, the slides, the jungle gym and the crazy, puffy, springy things that the kids can jump across while the teacher watches scared to death.   Frankly, I’m exhausted each day just watching his level of activity.

But I found out something else interesting about Max.  

He loves bugs.  

And so do I.

He is fascinated by the metamorphosis occurring in our caterpillar aquarium, and has started spending an inordinate amount of time near our butterfly garden on the playground. We are having fascinating discussions about all the nature we spot while outside, and I am thrilled at his questions and enthusiasm.  He is still, however, the king of the wild things in my room.

And then today happened.

After lunch he was sitting at my feet as I sat in the rocking chair for our story.  He raised his hand.  “I made you a picture at lunch today, Mrs. Smythe.”

He stood, reached into his pocket and pulled out a wadded piece of paper.  He unwrapped it and handed me the most beautiful abstract picture.   I was speechless. 

“Thank you, Max!!!  Is your name on it? Oh, I see it.  Can you please put it carefully on my desk so I can put it up on wall?  I LOVE IT!  That was so thoughtful.”

He smiled as he ran back to the carpet to claim his spot up front. 

We headed out to recess after the story, and Max stayed behind with me.  He asked if I would go to the butterfly garden with him, and I went happily!  We pointed out billions of insects and such, and then headed to the swings.  We swung in the sun while pointing to all the various butterflies zig zagging their way across the playground.  We were joined by many others in the class, and it was incredible. 

We spent a bit more time bonding and laughing until I insisted he run over and join the football/soccer/wrestling extravaganza that was occurring on the field below.

I walked over to Miss Jones, one of the other fabulous first grade teachers, and had a sudden realization.

“Oh my Lord, I think I just had a date with Max." I said, laughing. 

“Date?  Naw.  You found a way to tame the wild thing.  And you know what? He is going to have the best year ever,” she said with a smile.

I looked out at the sea of wild things and realized that it was the other way around.   The other way around, indeed.


I never doubted for a MINUTE that I would love first grade. Not for a minute....

We were discussing "symbols" in our community and what they stand for.  I showed them pictures of a variety of things, and then held up this one.

Poppy raised her hand and stated proudly, "I know that one!   It's the handi-cat zone."

Of course it is.....


A shoe by any other name...(aka The Shoes have it.)

Oh sure, the kids can rock the shoes.....

But sometimes, SOMETIMES, the teacher rules the day...

(Thank you, Bitchy.   You will make me a shoe girl one way or another....) 


The name. (It's the rest of the story.....)


It’s almost as comfortable to me now as my own name, and I find that fascinating.  I stumbled upon on it quite by accident.

I’ve been asked many times these last six years why I have that name, and have brushed it off with a knowing wink, “I have teenaged daughters…”  Sponsors and advertisers have contacted me often to offer me some writing gigs, but some respectfully decline after thinking about my name. 

It’s difficult to explain something in passing that is a part of my heart. 

I started writing seriously after a traumatic family event, and it saved my life. It filled a piece of my heart that I never knew was missing, and continued to heal other parts of it. It was a miracle drug that I stumbled upon in the middle of the night- and I rejoice in it every single day.

I started the blog not long after enjoying some success writing for the local paper. (I took a leap of faith not long after the event, remembering how short life was.  The editor snatched me up...) A good friend then took me by the hand, looked me in the eye and convinced me that my writing was worthy enough to be shared with even more people.  I was incredibly flattered, as her own writing was so exquisite. 

When you start a blog and open a gmail account, you have to come up with a name, and email address.  If you’ve ever done this, you know that there are millions of people out there and MOST of the logical or simple names are taken. I typed in a ton of names, but all were taken.  

I thought for a while about what name I wanted, and it didn’t take me long to think of her. I always think of my mother at strange times, and this was one of them.  I had lost her too long ago, and thought of her often.  She was full of humor, laughter, warmth, talent, flaws and generosity.  She also loved a great martini.

She and my father would entertain often, and always, always had cocktail hour at 5 o'clock.

I thought of her when I typed in the name vodkamom. And there it was - AVAILABLE!


That is the real story.

I’m not vodkamom because I swill vodka every day (cough), sell vodka, make vodka or smuggle vodka.   It’s a passing, loving wave to my mother, who I miss like hell but who I know it sitting in heaven each morning on her computer checking her feed.

This one’s for you mom; this one’s really for you.


Flower Power. (I'll see your lego earrings, and raise you some flowers.)

Remember the nice gentleman who couldn't take his eyes off my lego earrings?

He reminded me today that there really ARE nice, thoughtful and amazing men out there.  (And stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to discover who they might be. )

Operation "Dating Carefully" has officially begun.

(Birthday?  53 is the new....53. But it feels #*@& good. )


What, me w(h)ine? Only when absolutely necessary. (And when it's a Reisling....)

I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time alone these days. The girls are off to college, and my son is sharing his precious time between his father’s home, and mine.   I’ve forced myself to change my habits, to reach out of my comfort zone and find others that might bring me some peace.

It hasn’t been easy.

I reached out to my close friends, and over glasses of wine and many heartfelt discussions, I discovered ways to reach inside myself and find a happiness I never thought possible.

Some days I take my dog and go on a lovely hike up the mountain behind my house. The sounds of the stream and the wildlife that inhabit the mountain always bring me peace.  Often I go to the local arboretum on campus, and walk the flowered lines walkways that are congested with young students and other members of this small, friendly community. It’s a lovely, comfortable spot that never fails to surprise me with a new blossom or flower I’ve never seen.

But through all these adventures my heart still holds close my precious children.   While I know they might not be with my physically, I have learned that they are always, always with me emotionally.
It's perfect that I was recently asked to review and was provided with Chateau Ste. Michelle's Indian Wells Cabernet and Columbia Valley Riesling, both from the Columbia Valley wine region.

Each night, after speaking with my kids, I pour myself a glass of wine and head out to my front porch. I sit upon the white wicker rocking chair and gaze across the road to the cornfields that stretch for miles. I sip my sweet Chateau Ste. Michelle and watch the sun gently say goodnight. It’s an amazing feeling of contentment, and also a sense of excitement about what the new day might bring.

My Chateau? That’s easy. Me + Wine – My comfort zone = My Chateau

I have the memories of the kids antics, the dog barking at the door, the radio blasting, the phone ringing and me with a glass of wine on the front porch basking in the glory that is family, even when they’re NOT at home, and I'm all set.

Now it’s your turn! If you’d like to enter for your chance to win, please tell me in the comments below what gets you to your Chateau! For example: Me + a glass of wine + _______ – _______ = My Chateau.

You can also visit the Chateau Ste. Michelle Facebook app to share your Chateau.
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d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents (except residents of California, Colorado, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Utah ) age 21 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 9/5/12 – 9/30/12.
Be sure to visit the sponsor’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


And THAT is a girl after my own heart. (Watch out Sasha, you've got some stiff competition...)

Her name is Poppy.

She’s an adorable girl with blonde braids woven tightly on either side of her head that hang down to her shoulders.  Her bright blue eyes look at you with such intensity that you can’t wait to see hear what she's thinking.  (Maybe.)

And she has yet to disappoint.

We had prepped the first graders about the playground equipment, and most were familiar with the drill.  They were to only go DOWN the slide, and not the other way.  They shouldn’t be playing where they can’t see the teachers, they have to be kind and polite, they must watch where they’re going and they should not walk in front of the swings while others are swinging. 

Oh, and then there’s the zip line.  

It’s a long metal zip line attached to a complicated set of climbing equipment that I can’t even BEGIN to describe.  (Hence the photo.)  They are NOT go on the zip line unless they can reach it themselves – and they are not allowed to push each other on said zip line. 

I watched my class on Friday as a number of children tried and tried and tried to hop onto the zip line.  They were crowded around it, and even the tallest of the boys were THIS close to latching on as they jump to reach it. But to no avail.

Poppy watched from a distance.

And I watched Poppy.

She watched the boys intensely with her arms folded.  They group finally tired and ran happily to another area of the playground.  She turned her head and looked at me with a smile. (If I had been closer, I would have sworn she raised her eyebrows.) 

She ran to the far side of the climbing apparatus and started her ascent.  She climbed up one side of the triangular climber, and then down the other.   She made the transition onto something that resembles monkey bars, across the thin blue bar and onto the larger green one to the purple one and THEN made her way to the end of the zip line.  With her feet still swinging to and fro, her hands worked their way onto the larger pipe that housed the zip line, and they made their way slowly across the “line” until she reached the area where the handle had landed.  She looked at me briefly, and transferred her hands down onto the handle.  She smiled as she turned to me.  

I watched in sheer amazement as she swung her body (as if she hadn’t just traversed the ANDES MOUNTAINS in FIVE MINUTES) and zipped like a thief in the night across the zip line.  THE WHOLE WAY ACROSS.

She came to a stop, jumped off and looked at me with a sheepish grin. 

I pointed to her, LAUGHED OUT LOUD, and gave her an ovation worthy of an Olympic Athlete.

As she ran to join her friend I smiled.   This is gonna be some kind of year, I thought.  Some kind of kick @$$ year, indeed.


My new SECRET, secret weapon. (aka Why didn't I think of this for Goodness' sake?)

Teachers  - and young ladies - thinking of ways to keep a young man's attention?

I have stumbled upon the sure fire answer!!!!

Lego Jewelry!!!  It's as if they were hypnotized!!!

Well, I didn't wear these shoes, of course, but that's only because I have seriously damaged my sciatic (the fall on the mountain???) and can barely walk as it is.  But if I COULD??? I totally, totally would.

I am telling you this- I had those boys eating out of the PALM of my hand for a week.  A WEEK.

I think we MUST conduct a survey.  Girls- when heading out for a night on the town, PLEASE try the lego earrings.  They worked for ME last week on a lovely date with a very nice gentleman.

He could NOT take my eyes off me.  (Well, my earrings perhaps, but nonetheless...of course mine were white with DIAMONDS glued onto the corners. And they were dazzling, to be sure.)

Please report all research data to me poste haste - I feel a research grant is right around the corner...