Saturday, November 29, 2008


QUICK! I need ideas. My daughter wants the traditional Sound of Music birthday party in two weeks. Oh dear, oh dear, dear me.
We're gonna make some of the favorite things like blue satin sashes, snow flakes, and ask for presents to be wrapped in brown paper tied up with string. Pooh Bear insists on jam and bread instead of cake. She nixed my idea of wedding cake (ya know, Maria does get married). Maybe I can sneak in some crisp apple strudel. Will party guests be dreadfully disappointed or humor my daughter's whim? My boys agreed to dress up like Nazi's, carry flashlights, and blow whistles for some good old hide 'n seek. Pooh Bear wants to wear a habit. My husband must learn to play Edelweiss on mandolin and lead a sing-along. And we can play musical chairs to the soundtrack. How about a yodeling contest? We do have a goat herd already, but I'm not sure if they cooperate if we added strings to them for puppets. My niece thinks I could teach the "So, long farewell dance. Too ambitious? Also we thought of making clothes out of draperies somehow, but...

And do children, besides mine, even know about musicals besides High School Musical anyway? Oh dear, again.

Any more incredibly creative ideas? I sure could use them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Vyne's are piling into the van this afternoon to head to the mountains to be with family. Looking back, I couldn't be more thankful. Last year, my mother requested we come spend Thanksgiving with her thinking she might not ever be whole again after brain surgery. I'm delighted that she is healthy, whole and healed from those traumatic days.
Here are some other things for which I am thankful:
Great and healthy kids.
Family on both sides who love and support us.
Living in heaven on earth on our pretend farm.
My best friend and husband who stands right beside me every step of the way.
Healthy animals (for the most part).
The best kind of friends.
An abundant garden.
Fresh eggs.
Well running vehicle.
Warm house.
Ample clothing.

There is more, but I'll have to stop for now.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yesterday I stopped in at Office Depot looking for something my son will needs next semester. I searched the aisles for the item myself with no luck though I found many similar items.

I passed by a Super Geek on my way to the help desk pondering whether or not to ask him. His scholarly glasses covering scrunched black eyes and lack of fashion prowess indicated a certain knowledge of all things gadgety. I myself was wearing black sweat pants which are entirely too short with a very unmatching green sweater.Did I mention my white and red running shoes? So, it's not like I have any room to criticize what not to wear... and on top of my dressing inadequacies, I certainly don't emit a copious amount of brain waves which benefit the planet. Anyhow, Super Geek looked engrossed in an important technological discussion on his black headset with another employee across the store, so I marched up to a handsome young man behind the help desk. You know, eye candy for someone about 20 years younger than myself.

"Hi," I say.

"Hey," he answers with a confident smile on his face, in a friendly customer service tone, making good eye contact.

"I'm looking for a very nerdy calculator which I know absolutely nothing about. It's called something Nspire, and it's for people who can actually perform higher mathematical equations than myself," I announce.

"Oh, that I wouldn't know nearly as much about that as Matt. Let me call him." Yep, he contacts Super Geek to help me out.

Super Geek is called to me but cannot stand to make eye contact. He walks toward the aisle I'd previously visited without a word. He searches the rack, and says without enthusiasm, "Not here. We had 'em when school started, but they're all gone."

"Um, could I order one?" I suggest.

"From here? Why don't you go to the dealer or something," still in dead pan.

"Like Texas Instruments?" I inquire.

"Prolly something like I don't know. You could order one at the desk I guess," he mutters.

"K, thanks," I offer as he suddenly walks off in another direction.

And there, my friends, is a lesson in how to not to close a deal. I checked and sure enough, one can order them from Office Depot.

That calculator is the most expensive one I've ever seen. What was Super Geek thinking? Maybe he was seriously contemplating some math problem in his brain I couldn't begin to solve.

Note to self: All that, "Please look in my eyes when we are talking" with my children hopefully will make a difference in their future.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It's something of a miracle, but you might not understand. I only know that change happens from the inside out, and I so rarely am allowed glimpses inside the heart of my son.

Here's the miracle. The phone rang. It was for my boy, and he sat down on my bed to chat with a friend while I typed on my computer close by. I heard, "Yes, we have a football, but it belongs to my dad. I'll ask him if we can use it."

This is the point I felt a lump forming in my throat. I turned my head, so my son wouldn't notice the salty drops about to spill from my stinging eyes. What's so darn touching about his statement? Enough to bring me to tears? Isn't it a common thing for children to ask to borrow something when it doesn't belong to them?

Not for him.

From his rough start as a foster child, he's claimed sole ownership to whatever he saw or touched in our home no matter whom it belonged to. He owned the world and we other mortals simply occupied his space. Our family has pulled together through good counsel to gently coax him to another way of being more a part of us rather than living separately. His comment above is evidence that something, no matter how small, has shifted.

In one of our counseling sessions with him this summer, my son stated what seemed to be a heart felt, "I want to really be part of this family." At the same moment of his declaration, a small butterfly came from nowhere and landed on our son's heart. No one spoke, but we smiled deeply at one another. After the butterfly took flight from her rest on my child's chest, one of the counselors whispered, "I wonder if that was a sign?" As if on cue, the little yellow butterfly returned a second time on my son's shirt over his heart. Of course, we all savored the moment.

I'd call our road rocky with this son, but isn't it lovely that there have been butterflies and other miracles along the way?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I was in the mood for some inspiration this morning, so I asked Eleanor Roosevelt for some help.

Here's what we came up with together.

A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.

She always knows just the right thing to say doesn't she?

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm walking a new and delicate tightrope as a parent as I learn about this beast known as the teenager. I figure I've got it easy, having three boys with which to try my ever-changing bag o' tricks first before my girl hits the years beyond twelve. If the mood swings of my sons are any indication, I'm in for big trouble when she hits hormones. I'm finding my boys have upped my game of thinking on my feet and remaining centered at all times.

I took in a couple of very interesting facts at my conference a few weeks ago. The first felt real and so very true- teens believe they are living their own personal fable. No one could ever loved as deeply as they have. No one has ever wanted to make the basketball team more than they have. No one could possibly understand their unique circumstances enough. The second also got me nodding briskly in agreement- teens have an imaginary audience watching them all the times. They believe everyone is observing them in particular, and it truly is all them.

The fables arising from my boys are sometimes precious and other times annoying. I love the fact that all three believe they can do or be anything. Watching the Olympics, I heard their remarks like, "I could do that!" I adore it when my children say, "My coach says I could be top in the state if I applied myself." The annoying part can be when don't make the effort. I must remind myself that sampling many things instead of a single focus can be a great thing as well at this developmental stage of personal mission. Peace cracked me up the other day that his "science fan club" made up a myth about him living on the farm which was the setting for E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. Teens can be fantastic storytellers.

The part about the imaginary audience has hit all three boys as well. It took only a few weeks for Peace to drop his public bird calling with the event of entering high school. Tater constantly talks about the girls who can't take their eyes off him. Wise One hushes our family members in public situations when he feels embarrassed at some perceived spectacle we're making.

I'm blessed to say that though my kids attend and absolutely enjoy social events, we still have loads of fun, maybe even the most fun, together. I wonder what the day will be like when their wings ache to fly from this nest to make their own? I'm getting glimpses of such things when Peace throws an "I certainly know how to do this better than you ever could" barb my way. I've been learning how to step quietly and deliberately out of his way in this case and escape to a fulfilling task for myself till he is practically desperate (and humbled) for my help, or he simply finds his own way. Thus the tightrope analogy at the beginning of this post.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taken yesterday before our hike to Fall Branch Falls, my new favorite place on earth.
The first time I voted, I voted for Dukakis. Oh my, that's embarrassing to admit.

Every election since, I've voted for the winner until last night. Even though I didn't get my way, I am so very proud to have a black leader as a President Elect. I'm proud to live in a country where anything is possible, and the vote is a way for us to speak out. I'm astounded at the peaceful transfer of power in a democracy.

Barak's "government for the people and by the people" message resonated with me four years ago as I watched him speak at the DNC. His elegance and eloquence captured me, yet we all know his roots are much more like an everyman. I pray his less privileged upbringing keeps him connected and grounded to everyday people. I also pray for his safety and for wisdom in leading this country.


Monday, November 03, 2008

I wouldn't dream of telling you who to vote for in tomorrow's election, but I will beg you to vote. I heard on NPR that 40 million Americans do not bother. Please don't be one of them.

How can such apathy exist? After all, our right to vote has been bought at a steep price.