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Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.

I look forward to summer vacation as much as any of the children at my school. There are many chores I think I will tackle, flowers to tend, jewelry to make, and loads of other prospective ways to spend a summer vacation. It is a valuable perk of working at a school.

There are many other perks; such as the surprising things the children say or getting to watch two girls hold hands as they skip out of the building at the end of a day, but for a nurse one of the biggest perks has to be the schedule. I get to have breaks throughout the year, but the most valuable is knowing I’m available to spend every holiday with my family.

I don’t have to work nights, second shift, every other weekend, or be on call for my unit. Time for myself, for my life, is the absolute best perk.

Each day the magic of the internet brings me my memories in the form of a Facebook time capsule. I am always grateful to see tidbits of information I posted in the past.

My memory is not nearly as precise as the cookies or bytes or whatever it is that stores my Facebook posts. Opening my computer in the morning to be greeted by a toothless, gummy grin of a grandchild who now has almost all permanent teeth in his mouth makes me grin from ear to ear! It is fun to compare photos of my flowers from previous years to the blossoms currently brightening my garden.

Looking at the photographs and memories is like having a virtual scrapbook or a ready-made online journal.

I am able to see difficult times that I survived, hilarious mishaps I have documented, and poignant moments captured by prose and pictures.

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Each year when I have the opportunity to speak with the fifth-graders I encourage them to keep a journal. I have been pleased to learn that some of them already do, and I stress to others what an asset it can be to look back at your entries, which might provide hope when days are tough, and the can also be an encouragement to see how you made it through other rough times.

I don’t know if any of the students end up thinking it is a good idea, but I tell them it will give them their own autobiography that 50 years from now, when they pull it out of a box from their parent’s attic, they will read through the pages and be reminded of stories long forgotten about daily events at school.

As my days of summer vacation drew to an end, I realized that I did not spend it cleaning closets or doing various other things I had hoped to accomplish during my time off. But I did make jewelry. During my last week off, I started to create mermaid jewelry. I could feel the minutes tick by quickly with each bead I strung and I felt a need to rush through a summer’s worth of days all in one week.

My linens are still askew on their shelves, outdated sunscreen and antibiotic ointment tubes still tumble around in a drawer but, by golly, I made some necklaces!

The day after I started beading, Facebook told me that I had done the same thing last year. The week before school started I made turquoise bling. I scrolled through the memories to see the year before that it was leather bracelets. Scrolling further showed the year before was word pendants.

I certainly see a pattern here. The end of summer isn’t going to roll around without me accomplishing something!

Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.

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