Monday, December 19, 2011


Dear Mom and Dad,

There I was, sitting on a noisy school bus, on our way to a field trip to the Natural History Museum, when I got my wake up call of the season.

I was half listening to the hub-bub around me, but mostly had my mind focused on my still-to-do-but-not-enough-time-to-do-it list. I was feeling frustrated: angry that I was the one who had to do all the shopping, water the Christmas tree (not to mention already having to buy the tree and decorate the tree!), wrap the presents I hadn't had time to buy yet, clean the house, get the goodies for a party we were invited to, etc, etc.--and apparently I was supposed to do it all without spending any money! Just before smoke started coming out my ears, a little hand tapped my arm (which also, by the way, annoyed me, because I am just that grumpy of a person), and I looked down at the offending child, probably with some degree of unpleasantness on my face. "Mrs. Vance," he said, "Why do we celebrate Christmas? What is it really all about?"

This particular student is relatively new to the area, having just moved here from a place that you and I would find rather unusual. He had recently written a journal entry at school about how this was his first year to celebrate Christmas--actually, to celebrate anything!--and he was enjoying everything around him. So, when he asked me why we celebrate Christmas, he really, truly didn't know. His question shook me from my pity-party and put me back in place.

"We celebrate Christmas to remember when Christ was born," I replied.

And, thanks to that little boy and his question, I've finally been doing just that.

May your week and mine be filled with the wonder of a child,

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Dear Mom, Dad, and others,
You've already written about how amazing and helpful the internet is, and I am in complete agreement. Tonight I was able to write to Evan, read your blog (amazing talk, by the way), enjoy the story that you found through google (we should all give such wonderful Christmas gifts), and plan a few more things for school this week (Pinterest is the best!).
I also got to see, and feel, something tender, sweet, and kind. My friend Kate created a facebook group page for me. It was very thoughtful, and I feel very loved. And a bit overwhelmed at how kind people can be. More overwhelmed by the thought of trying to be good enough to deserve it.
Kind of like Christ and all he offers us.
So many gifts. So many good things.
So past my bedtime.
Love you,

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Dear Mom, Dad, and Others Who May Care,
You said to just start writing. So I am.
Big news of the week is that Joshua had some oral surgery done. All is well, although he is quite sore, and not looking forward to the additional pain that the upcoming braces will bring.
I think having your child wake from an anesthesia-induced "coma" is quite telling about their personalities. Evan just smiled at everyone he saw. Lane asked for his cell phone and wondered if he had any blood on his shirt. Joshua asked if he could keep the wheelchair.
Later on, while parked at the grocery store where I was filling his prescription, Josh woke enough to ask, "Did I get to ride out to the car in a wheelchair?"
"Yes," I said. "Do you remember asking if you could keep it?"
His eyes brightened. "Well, can I?" he asked.
"Do you like wheelchairs, Josh?" I queried.
"No," he replied, "But I like IVs. Can we go back and do that again?"
I'd better be careful what kind of drugs this kid gets to be around...
And maybe, just maybe, I'll be around here again sometime.
Love Always,

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Unfortunately, this is what we woke to this morning.

Fortunately, the soccer game this afternoon was cancelled, so I got to lay on the couch all day, wrapped in a comfy, cozy blanket, and watch chick flicks.
(BBC'S "Lark Rise to Candleford:" I am hooked)
Also fortunate was that the guys got to go skiing, and apparently had lots of fresh powder in which to do it.

Unfortunately, the dog ate/scraped/dug a hole in the downstairs carpet.

Fortunately, I am one dog-hole closer to new carpet!

Unfortunately, I found out this week that I won't be able to work at Oakwood next year.
I was kindly (truly kindly) informed that while I am super skilled and a totally awesome teacher, I am completely lacking in the necessary superiority to stay.

Fortunately, I like to read books. I guess I'll have something to do with my time (Right now I'm reading "The Tiger's Wife," and I think it's pretty awesome).
At least until I find the next adventure.

Unfortunately, I don't know what that is.
Fortunately, I believe there is one.

Friday, April 29, 2011


What started out like this earlier in the afternoon...

(Actually, the boys all sitting nicely was momentary only. To truly represent their antics I would have had to take pictures of them throwing salt at each other, having rolling garbage can wars, swinging on a chain to make others fall off, and running wildly through the snowy courtyard while whacking each other with hijacked crutches!)

moved on to nervously/excitedly searching for room assignments

(which ended up being the same room for each round of the competition)

and eventually ended up like this!

Joshua and his debate partner took second place for the Negative side at this year's Elementary State Debate Meet. Their entire team did well, also winning first place for the Negative side, fifth place for the Affirmative side, and 10 individual speaker awards. Pretty impressive. Their coach is to be commended, complimented, revered, and honored. Not only was her team incredibly well-trained, well-practiced, and well-prepared, but the way they acted earlier in the afternoon (salt wars, garbage wars, chasing wars, maiming wars, etc.) was exactly how they acted each time they were at debate practice! I do not know how she kept her cool nor how they learned a dang thing. But they did! This woman has POWERS! And vision. And my gratitude.

It is a very special thing to watch your child do something well. It is a very special thing to watch your child grow and increase in abilities. It is a very special thing to see your child overwhelmingly happy. Their huge smiles get me every time.

I am a lucky lady to have had so many chances to see all of my kids grow, learn, develop, achieve, and, most especially, smile. I am thankful to all the wonderful people out there who have made those smiles possible and plentiful. And I'm looking forward to lots more! :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Because today is my Mom's birthday,

and because my mom taught me to be thoughtful in choosing gifts,

I am choosing to be particularly thoughtful and NOT baking my mom a birthday cake (believe me, that's a gift and a kindness...).

I did, however, pick out the birthday cakes that I would give my mom, if I could bake, could deliver, or could plan ahead..
For you, Mom:

Also for you, Mom: I promise to blog every day until I've written as many posts as birthday years you are celebrating. You'll probably like this gift best because I just might take 20 years off your age...

Happy Birthday, Mom.
I sure do love you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Though not my usual garb for a Saturday soccer game, this was an outfit I've been wearing every Saturday (and Tuesday, and Thursday) for the last 8 weeks or so. I've had the good fortune to participate in Hale Centre Theatre's production of "A Tale of Two Cities," a relatively new (and, let's face it, somewhat unknown) musical retelling of Charles Dickens' 1859 novel.

It was the best of times...and, as with every experience I've had working with people, I met the best of people, learned to love more people, and made brilliant memories with many fantastic people.

It was also the worst of times...well, not really. But this was, admittedly, a more difficult show to enjoy doing. Hardly the happy, light-hearted musical (other than backstage, of course) in which I usually find myself performing, my stellar role as Woman 4 in "Tale" consisted of two parts: a) the drunken whore, or b) member of the angry mob. Typecasting, I know.

At any rate, the run is over. It was an amazing, spectacular show. It was designed, directed, and driven by inspired people from start to finish, and it was superbly executed by everyone involved. I am exceedingly proud to have been a part of the "team." Which leads me to why, exactly, this show made me think of soccer. Or why, conversely, soccer makes me think of this show.

As awesome as the production was, and as great as it was to be in it, I will admit to many a moment that the thought crossed my mind, "What if I just disappeared right now? Would it matter?" I was merely Woman 4, sitting on a stair. Woman 4 slumped in a corner. Woman 4 biding my time on a bridge. Nary a speaking line, nary a solo. I wore a brown dress on a brown stage, had a brown wig, and covered myself in brown stage dirt. You couldn't have picked me out from the brown, angry mobbing crowd if you'd tried. So what was the point and purpose of my presence in this play, I wonder?

Teamwork. (Oh, and I made a lot of friends.)

I have two kids who play soccer. Daily. One of them is very visible in what he does as the the team keeper. He's got a lead part, if you will, and he's wonderful at it, and well known for it.

But without the other 10 players, my super-star stud of a goalie son has no chance in heaven of winning a soccer game, regardless of how amazing he is at what he does, and despite his star-power and talents. Without the other "ensemble" members, there's just no "show." Nor would there be a show without him!

My other soccer playing son is a defender. He stands in the back and protects the goal. There are times that he is left all alone, while all the action is happening far ahead of him in the field. If you didn't know to look for him you might forget he was there. But were he to leave his position--to wonder if he really mattered, with nary a goal to his name and nary a shot at glory--his team would be in a sore position. There would be losses. There would be holes. There would not be a team. Their production value would be greatly diminished. There would be no show.

Together, though, their teams win. A lot. And not just in terms of scores, either. They learn commitment. They learn dedication. They learn that everyone has a job to do, and that everyone matters. Teamwork matters.

And so it is that all the world is a stage. We each matter. We each leave holes when we miss our part or don't give our best. Together we enjoy the best of times. Together we can get through the worst of times. Together we make up a beautiful production, start to finish. And hopefully we won't always have to wear brown.

Friday, April 15, 2011


After looking at the family calendar for the week and seeing that there is "soccer" written on every day except Sunday, I thought, "I am a soccer mom."

But I'm glad. I love watching my kids do great things, and watching them work hard to do their best is a great thing.

I also generally enjoy overhearing comments about my kids, which I often hear at soccer games. I learn a lot.

I learned that Lane is hot (as though I didn't already know this).
I learned that Joshua is helpful (again, as though I didn't already know this).
I learned that Lane made someone's daughter feel bad (yet another thing I already knew, but it was still sad to hear it and have it made a reality).
I learned that Lane is a ninja.

Joshua and I went to watch one of Lane's soccer games this past week. We parked on one side of the park, not knowing that we were in "enemy territory," and sat amongst the opposing team's fans. We had great seats, though, and were close to the car (which was good, since it was freezing, and we had to go back twice for more blankets!), so we stayed. And it's a good thing we did, at least for entertainment value. There was a group of about 5 or 6 high school girls sitting just in front of us, commenting up a storm about the Cottonwood Colt players, Lane being one of them. Lane was doing such a great job that the girls started calling him a ninja. It was all we could do not to laugh as we heard comments such as these:

"Is he Asian? I don't think he looks very Asian, but he must be, because he is a total ninja with that soccer ball..."
"Yeah. And he's super skinny, too. Asians are skinny like that. He is practically a twig! Look how skinny and small he is compared to our goalie. He's totally a ninja. A stick ninja."
"An Asian stick ninja."

We also learned that a particularly good looking player on Lane's team is particularly good looking no matter how far up on the hill you are sitting.

"Look at number 45. He is so beautiful (he is). Even his hair is beautiful. It totally shimmers in the sun (it does)."
"Yeah. Let's call him 'Mr. Model.' No, let's call him 'Ken.'"
"Hey, Ken! You're beautiful."

Then Ken scored.

"We hate you Ken! You're too pretty to play soccer!"

Oh, how we humans love to hate the pretty ones!

I also learned that I am past the point of old. And it wasn't just my back from sitting on the ground for so long, or my knees that cracked when I got back up. Again, it was the girls who helped inform me:

"Just look at that guy down there. His hair is so white, he must be old!"
"Yeah. He looks so old. He's got to be at least...I don't know...38 or something."

Yep, I'm learning a lot as a soccer mom. Like that I'd better start investing in some Icy Hot, and that I've got a skinny Asian for a son. And that next time I should park on the other side of the field!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


This is what happens when I am gone for one day.

A) I could feel important, knowing that even the very dishes need me around,


B) I should apologize in advance to my future daughters-in-law;
they are going to think their husbands never learned a dang thing at home...

I choose A.

Postscript: My choice is in no way meant to offend future spices (pl.: spouse of one's child).
I just like to feel important. That, and I really don't know for sure if my kids can do the dishes...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Though Joshua is perfectly competent to perform many a procedure requiring rubber gloves, this was not one of them.
This, rather, is the way Joshua walked around our house an entire 3 days after purchasing himself a brand new iPod Touch. Rubber gloves, soft microfiber cloth, and a gentle touch were required by anyone who even attempted to look at his new baby.
These things matter, folks!

Apparently I matter, too, at least to someone out there! I got flowers!
The boys and I came home from an afternoon of soccer (what else do any of us do around here?) to find this floral fantasy awaiting me.
"Who'd give you flowers?" one of the boys asked.
"It definitely wasn't Dad," the other replied. "He'd never spend the money."
"I hope Dad doesn't get mad," one of them teased. "Mom's got a boyfriend....Mom's got a boyfriend!"

Well, a) Dad didn't get mad. In fact, Dad didn't even notice that there were flowers in the house until I showed them to him, nearly two days later. (My husband's obliviousness, mind you, is not without its merits. Just think of the outfits, the shoes, the furniture, the new paint colors I have made a part of my world without repercussion!)
And, b), I do have a boyfriend. Two of them, in fact. And I miss them very much, since they couldn't come visit this spring. Thanks, guys. I wish you were here, too.

Not only did I get flowers, but I got a very nice message from somebody on Facebook. I received the notification of the message through my email, and was pleasantly shocked and surprised to have heard from this particular person. I hurriedly clicked on the link and proceeded to read this awesome message. It was so complimentary! It talked about how genuine I am in my performing. It praised my commitment. It highlighted my sense of humor! I was thrilled! First of all, how neat that someone had taken the time to let me know such nice things. Secondly, how amazing that anyone could have recognized all of my awesomeness from just my brief moments on stage--my most recent stint being Woman 4 in "A Tale of Two Cities." I mean, I really do try to be funny, when appropriate, and sincerely committed always. I just didn't know it was reading so well.

Apparently I'm the one who doesn't read so well! After scratching my head for a bit (still filled with immense gratitude, mind you), I looked again at the message and saw that it was actually meant for someone else.
Greg Barnett, if you're out there, somebody thinks you're a genuine ham with commitment issues.

It's okay. Not everyone has to love me. I got a great reminder that God does.
I've been studying diligently for the past few months for the Praxis Exam (no, the Praxis Exam does not require rubber gloves). It's a test for teachers to prove their willingness to do or pay almost anything to keep/get their certification. And I have to pass it by June in order to remain a Granite School District employee. So, I studied. I studied for weeks. I studied for months. And then, as I was studying on the Monday of the week I was supposed to take the test, a sudden realization came to me: I was studying for the wrong Praxis exam.
I looked up. I jiggled my brain and crossed my eyes. I looked back at the study manual, and had the same thought again: I was studying for the wrong test. There are, actually, a million and three different types of Praxis tests, so I ran to the computer and looked to see which one I was registered to take that Saturday. And, yes-in-deedy, I was studying for the wrong test.
I immediately got on the library website and put different study guides on hold (which, miraculously, came in that very afternoon). I searched the Internet for practice quizzes and study helps. And I prayed. I prayed for help. I prayed for guidance. But mostly I prayed to say thank you. I know it was the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which gave me that timely message and changed my course of action.
So, I took the test. I did my best. I'm waiting 3 more weeks to know the rest.
What I do know, though, is that I have been touched by love. I've been reminded that I matter.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


If there were a prize for the best organizational system ever,
my sister Lindsay would probably win it. She, or Martha Stewart.

But, if "pile-it-high" were a category in the competition for said prize,
I would take home the gold.

And put it in another pile.

Welcome (back) to my life.