Each year after the turkey has been consumed, Christmas goes up in our house. It felt appropriate that we put it up on the first day of advent this year.

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Our advent calendar is from Naptime Diaries.

Today I taught my 2nd and 3rd grade Children in Worship class about Advent and what the people in the Bible were waiting for. They didn’t know they were waiting for Jesus; they just knew they were waiting for someone to show them the way…someone to save them.

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I really, really love this time of year. Most of the year I consider my faith and understanding of it shaky at best. It’s so hard for me to believe because I am so very afraid. But that is maybe a different post. This time of year is all about hope.

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Hope for a better world and better people and better choices. Hope that it’s all true and that Jesus came and will come again.

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I don’t know where factual truth ends and where symbolic allegory begins. I don’t know what is historic or scientific. This time of year reminds me what faith is all about. Believing even though you can’t see with your eyes.

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The waiting time of Advent slows it all down. It forces me to reflect each day on what it must have felt like to wait and wait for a Messiah, because really, we are waiting for that now.

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I watch the news and see this world. I have felt loss and witnessed despair. But as we enter Advent, I remember that this is not it. This is not how it’s going to be forever.

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I am glad for this time of reflection and peace and tradition. I love to take this time to teach the kids about how love will always win.

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Plus this is our first Christmas as a complete family.

And that is pretty cool too.

The Importance of a Friend

Being invited over or out feels good–regardless whether I can go or not. It’s being invited anyway because she wants me there.

Insisting on taking a selfie with me because she doesn’t have enough pictures of us together feels good. Even if I look ragged and tired from shopping all day.

Asking about my family and life feels good–even if there is not much to report.

Telling me about her life and thoughts and feelings feels good–even if I don’t have advice. It’s good to feel trusted. And needed.

Being reassured that this is just a season of my life–the one with tiny kids, making it hard to get away spontaneously–and that she will be there when I can get away more feels good.

Sipping champagne and laughing about the past and giggling about the present and wondering about the future feels good because it’s in those seemingly mediocre moments that life is most joyous.

Laughter with a friend is like a warm blanket over cold feet; it’s needed and cozy at the same time.

photo courtesy of my friend Trisha and her insistence that we get a selfie at 1am.

photo courtesy of my friend Trisha and her insistence that we get a selfie at 1am.

The Day After

We are fat and lazy and tired today.

I went shopping with my mom for five hours today. I am exhausted, but I have very little left to buy–most I can do online.

In a little while we will be heading out to our friends for dinner and games and general tomfoolery.

Maybe tomorrow we will put up Christmas.

Grandma picking out a football. I laughed the whole time because according to Ralphie (of A Christmas Story), a football does NOT make a good Christmas present.

Grandma picking out a football. I laughed the whole time because according to Ralphie (of A Christmas Story), a football does NOT make a good Christmas present.


Happy Thanksgiving…

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from my three turkeys…

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to you and yours.

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We give thanks for you.

Getting Crafty


I am not a crafting kind of mom. But of course I have two little boys who LOVE to do crafts.

This usually means when they ask if they can do crafts, I get out paper and crayons. The end. They can do their crafts at school/daycare.

Sometimes I let Eddie “do crafts” during his little brother and sister’s nap time. That means stuff is everywhere and I get hives. There is no rhyme or reason, just scraps of supplies everywhere.


When I heard about Avery & Austin I thought it was the perfect idea! You get a box delivered to your house with everything in it for a “perfect play date:” a couple crafts (with everything you need right down to glue!), a healthy snack for two, and a cute hostess gift.

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The November box had a photo theme. Each boy got to assemble a wooden model camera and then paint it (wooden model kit even includes sandpaper! and Avery & Austin supplied wood glue and acrylic paint AND brushes).

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Then there were cardboard frames to decorate with stick on leaves. They even came with magnets so you can frame pictures on the fridge when you are done.

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There were little speaking bubbles to write on too with a wood dowel–a prop for all the fun pictures that would be taken. Charlie asked me to write “help” on his. It was appropriate.

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OMG my hair. This is what “pj day” looks like in Sluiter Nation.

I mentioned a healthy snack. Eddie wasn’t a fan, but Charlie–my uber-picky eater–devoured his bag and most of his brother’s bag. WIN!

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I have to say, I had some reservations. Even pre-planned crafts scared me a little, but it took up a huge chunk of our morning, created almost no mess (that’s right, even with paint!) and the boys loved it! They were so excited to put together a planned craft rather than have me just shove crayons and paper at them.

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We had fun! And I can’t wait until the December box! It will be perfect for a day over Christmas break!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am an ambassador for Avery & Austin, but I do not have to create blog posts. I just did because A) I am trying to post every day in November and B) We really had a great time with the crafts. I was truly impressed.


Being an adult is really nothing like I thought it would be when I was little.

I remember feeling like there would be nothing better than to be a grown-up. Nobody told them what to do. They could eat whatever and whenever they wanted without having to ask. They got to drink soda. They didn’t have a bed time. They didn’t have to worry about what shows they watched because no one was going to tell them to turn it off because it was “smut”.

Adults don’t have to live with their siblings and “get along”. They don’t have to refrain from “snotty tones” or rolling their eyes. They get to boss people around without being told “quit being bossy.”

I thought becoming a grown up would somehow be like getting let into an exclusive cool club of non-stop awesome.

Not quite.

In fact, there are times when being an adult really sucks the big one.

There are a multitude of little reasons of course–like people really do tell us what to do (they are called our bosses and the government), eating whatever we want makes us unhealthy, eating whenever we want means we are up all night with a gut-ache, drinking soda will probably kill us, bed time is actually earlier than when we were kids, and, well, Ok. We do get to watch whatever TV program we want–as long as the small children are in bed, which means no, we don’t.

But there are bigger things too.

The pain of having experience sometimes stinks. Knowing our kids (and students) are going to go through stupid crap because that is what middle school and high school and even sometimes elementary school is sometimes.

The pain of losing people to moving, breakups, divorce, and even death.

The way pain and loss are juxtaposed with every day, mundane things. Adulting is weird.

Today I went to a funeral. After that funeral, Cortney took me out for lunch. Then I had to buy the boys winter boots.

It’s just strange how one minute you are feeling a great loss and feeling like your insides are going to come out of your eyes, and the next you are talking about the Christmas shopping budget over sandwiches with your spouse. Then you are comparing boot sizes and prices.

How is that possible all in one day?

As a kid, if something made me hurt, I felt my hurt. I crawled in bed and hurt until I didn’t anymore. And chances are that whatever made me hurt was nothing compared to the death of a colleague or watching middle schoolers lose someone that was like family to them. And yet I could hurt as long as I needed because I had no one else I was responsible for.

Being an adult means I hurt, then I move on because there are four other people in this house depending on me to help keep life going.

I hug co-workers and smile through tears about the love Abbey spread in her short life. Then I decide between zip or tie boots.

I don’t really know where I am going with this–which I suspect is another side effect of being an adult. I just know today was weird.

The Keepsake I Don’t Have

If I could go back and change one thing, I would change what I chose from my Grandmother’s house after she died.

My maternal grandma, Grandma Jo, passed away from Alzheimer’s in January of 2001. After she passed and my mom and her sisters had gone through her things, the grandkids were allowed to go through before they had the estate sale.

It was the first time in a few years I had even been in my grandma’s house; she had been in nursing homes for some time. Nothing was where it should be. Everything was spread out because it had all been appraised and tagged for sale. My Grandma Jo was something of a pack rat.

Ok, she was totally a hoarder. The woman had lived through the Depression as a kid; she had lived on welfare after divorcing her useless husband. “Waste not, want now” was her motto. In fact, my mom often tells stories of having to wash bread bags so they could reuse them.

Her deep freeze was full. She lived alone.

We found jugs of prune juice that she had gotten from the welfare store when my mom was a kid.

She really never got rid of anything.

But that was also always the wonder of her house. She had so many interesting things packed away. As kids there were endless things to discover. Bur after she died, it was all hauled out into the open. How would I know where to start looking for anything? I hadn’t even thought about what I would want.

Almost 15 years later, I know exactly what I should have taken.

The holidays always remind me of my Grandma Jo. She is forever woven into Christmas for me: I hear her voice in Christmas carols, I taste her baking in the treats, I smell her perfume in church, I see her in the big, multi-colored lights on my Christmas tree.

On a Sunday after dinner, all my cousins, brothers, and I would get to help her decorate her way-too-fat-for-the-room Christmas tree. We danced around excitedly as she brought down boxes and boxes of ornaments, lights, and garland. An adult would string the lights–always multi-colored, mismatched, and tacky–and then wrap the tree in garland. Then it was our turn.

The first box would lose its lid and reveal balls and balls of napkins in which ornaments were hidden. Some fragile and antique, but most handmade and quite gaudy.

Oh they were wonderfully terrible! We would each open a napkin as if unwrapping a precious jewel and hold it high for everyone to see before placing it on the tree.

Grandma would get out other decorations too.

The one that I wish I had been able to get was by far my favorite. It was Christmas to me. Once Grandma had it out, it was Christmas. That was it.

It was a white plastic church that plugged into the wall. When switched on, a single clear Christmas light bulb illuminated the church, which had one stained glass (plastic) window. But the best part of this church? You could turn a small crank on the back to have it play “Silent Night”.

Every single Sunday leading up to Christmas I would crank that church. Christmas Even I would crank it many times until my mom told me to leave it alone.

What I wouldn’t give to have that plastic church.

I think of it every single Christmas and wish for my Grandma.

I bake all the treats she made. I decorate my tree in the tackiest way possible. I sing the Christmas carols. I put an orange in the toe of my kids’ stockings like she did for ours.

I don’t need the church to know she’s here, but I sure do miss her.

Just an Update

I am legit running out if interesting things to blog about with this every day posting thing.

(Why is November so long?  Longest 30 days EVER!)

So today, this Sunday, you get an update on our lives.  I’ll go youngest to oldest.

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Miss Alice Beans is currently 8 months, 3 weeks old.

She enjoys army crawling, sitting up from her tummy, and sucking on her thumb when we are not looking. She has recently acquired three teeth on the top with a fourth almost through. This has angered our otherwise happy baby, but she is delighted at these new things to run her tongue over and make sounds with.

I also found out today she is, in fact, a fan of birthday cake frosting.

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Sir Charlie Bird is currently 3 years, 8 months old.

His dad took him for his last hair cut, and the days of a shaggy Birdie are gone. I started at him the entire day after he got it cut because he looked so old, and so much like Cortney’s dad, Papa Steve.

He enjoys trucks, dinosaurs, and annoying the snot out of his older brother. He is still our sassiest child, racking up an astounding, record-breaking number of time-outs and losses of privileges. While his fits are loud, in actuality he is our quietest child. He prefers to be held rather than talked to when he is upset.

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Mr. Eddie Bear is currently 6 years, 5 months old.

He enjoys crafts, math, and apparently chess. We just found out that he learned how to play chess at his before-school program and likes to get there a bit early to play with one of the leaders. He is also my performer and clown. He wants things to be fair, and he wants to be heard. He takes his role as “first” very seriously. He wants to be a good big brother, but he also wants to be good at being the oldest.

He is our deep thinker and even deeper feeler.


Cortney is currently 36 years, 11 months and 12 days old.

He still loves his job as VP of the company he is part-owner of. I don’t talk much here about his job, because I don’t really know how much of that he wants shared. But I can tell you he loves his job. He still bowls on a league, and is going to bowl state this year, I think. If you like beer, he’s the guy to follow on Instagram and Untapped. I haven’t seen him drink the same beer twice in over a year, I think.

Even though he would tell you different, he rocks this dad of three thing–particularly being the dad to a little girl. I know this surprises no one. He continues to put all of us before himself because he is amazing. I hope we do an adequate job of letting him know how much we love and appreciate him.


And then there’s me. The oldest of the household. I am currently 37 years, 8 months.

Because I’ve had to write every darn day this month, you know what’s going on with me. This week my district is open Monday and Tuesday, but my school will be closed on Tuesday for Abbey’s funeral. The next couple days will be hard on us, but the next few months (and longer) will be so so hard on her family. Please keep them in your prayers.

That is all.

Just a little update. Just a “hey, this is what life is.”

Although it’s never ALL of what life is, right?

There is more. Beneath the surface.

But this is just an update.

First Snow

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Today was the first snow of the season, and it was actually a legit snow and not just some flurries in the air that didn’t stick to anything.

I’m really not a big fan of snow, because I hate being cold, I hate being wet, and I hate driving when it’s treacherous out. But even I will admit this sort of sticky snow (that doesn’t stick to the road) is kind of pretty.

And no, I am not wearing a coat.

I guess 37 and a half years of Michigan winters train your body to not really want a coat unless it’s sub-freezing. I mean, it was 32 degrees. I was fine.

I did bundle Alice up to the point of not being able to move her arms though. She looked adorably angry.

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The boys even went out an played in the smattering of snow we got. We didn’t have winter boots for Bird yet, so he wore his rain boots. Not one complaint.

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Well, that is not true.

He came in crying after Eddie shoved snow in his hat and down the back of his coat.

Big brothers are jerks sometimes.

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But there were no complaints about cold feet.

I did serve hot chocolate with marshmallows when the came in. It’s a scientific fact that hot chocolate with marshmallows re-warms the body back to normal.

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The news said we are in for a “warm up” this week…50’s!  Shorts weather!

Just kidding.

Kind of.

hearts breaking

My second year of teaching, a senior died in a jet-ski accident.

There were suicides.

There was a swimming accident.

There was a drunk driving accident–that one claimed two lives.

I’ve been in those horrible before school emergency staff meetings. The ones where it is horribly quiet and no one is making eye contact with each other.

Grief counselors on site for those who need someone to talk with or to cry with.

I am not down-playing those tragedies. They were awful and they rocked our schools.

But today was a category all it’s own.

This morning I stood in front of my first hour and had to deliver the news that one of the teachers had died suddenly the night before.

Because it is only my second year teaching in the school, and she and I teach different grades, I’ve only chatted with her a couple times, but I knew she was a student-favorite. I knew she was extremely close with much of the staff.

I stood in front of the class thinking I could read the script clearly, but I started to tremble. I knew the words after I said, “I am so sorry to have to inform you…” were going to absolute wreck my students.

And they did.

It was a short paragraph, but the sobs and sniffling started immediately.

They are just children, and someone they loved has been taken from them. Stolen.

Immediately I wanted to shelter my students. I wanted to not read the words. I wanted them to be protected from the pain for just a bit longer.

But I couldn’t. I had to break their hearts.

Those hearts were not alone, though. Immediately we brought kids to the ears and shoulders and arms they needed. Teachers postponed plans. We listened. We shared, but mostly we listened.

Between classes, the halls were quiet for the first few hours. Students found friends and fell into each other’s arms.

Administrators from all the other buildings stopped in.

Past staff were in the halls for faculty and students.

Teachers experienced grief hand-in-hand and side-by-side with their students.

At the end of the day, we were “debriefed”.

Exhausted, tear-stained faces gathered. Those who knew her best shared –and I was once again overcome with the wonderful person she was and how I wished I had gotten to know her better.

We were encouraged to take care of ourselves this weekend because today, we took care of our students first.

It’s what Abbey would have done.


Please pray for the students and staff of Wyoming Public Schools and for the family and friends of Abbey Czarniecki.

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