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.

Musical Confessions

So posting every dang day in November is hard. It forces me to concentrate on my commute. I hate to concentrate on my commute. Especially my morning commute. That is supposed to be 35-minutes of coffee-drinking and rocking out to get ready for a big day of herding cats. Or teaching middle school. Same difference.

Anyway. Driving and thinking. Driving and listening to music and thinking.

Today I started thinking about what I listen to and I realized something: I’m a music snob who maybe deserves to have her music snob card revoked.

First, let me share my presets with you. I have Sirus XM because I am in my car a lot and my husband loves me. So this is what I have: Pop2K (Pop music from the 2000’s), Faction (Punk, older rap, and some harder rock), Pearl Jam Radio (self-explanatory), Classic Rewind (classic rock from the 80’s), Backspin (rap/hip hop from the 80’s and 90’s), and Lithium (90’s grunge and alternative).

I also listen to more Kidz Bop than I care to admit. But here I am admitting stuff, so you know.  Perhaps that is it’s own confession.

You should know I also openly mock people who enjoy country music (because OMG it’s so whiny) and hair bands (not all of them, but if you try to convince me that Slayer or Winger are quality musicians, I will dismiss you from ever talking to me about music again).

With all that noted, here is where I fail at music snobbery…

I hate Rush. I am well aware that people who love rock music think this band is HUGE. Getty Lee’s voice makes me want to scratch my own ears off. I simply cannot change the channel fast enough. My soul erodes a little every time a note of their work reaches my ears.

I hate Coldplay. I don’t care how attractive (or not) Chris Martin is, he sounds like a whiny cat.

And while we are on the subject of whiny music, Radiohead actually makes me think death would be a better option than having Radiohead be the last music on earth. I blame “OK Computer”. One of my roommates in college played “Karma Police” so much I started to think that was what hell actually sounded like. As in hell wasn’t a place, but a sound that you lived in and Thom York’s voice whining was that sound.

I have bought albums strictly for the radio song, and then listened to just that song (or songs). I know. This is like the cardinal sin for music snobs. In fact, to show what a damn hypocrite I am, I have gone to concerts and mocked the people who only knew the radio songs. Granted, I have never gone to see a band based only on radio songs, but I have bought CDs for that reason. Oh? You want an example? How about every Madonna album ever. Except for her recent ones because yuck (<–probably another reason I’m getting kicked out of Music Snob Club).

I don’t get why people like Adele. There. I said it. Her song, “Hello”? More like hell no. I couldn’t even listen to the whole thing. As Cortney said, I kept wanting to finish it with “…is it me you’re looking for?”

I really, really love “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. As in I crank it up and holler-sing along. Every time. Ever since the song was released in the 90’s. Even when everyone I knew was saying, “that is the most annoying effing song I have ever heard.” I was secretly adding it to my I Will Love You Forever list of songs.

Do you know what the funniest (or maybe most terrifying) thing about writing all these down? Someone, maybe even you, will get incredibly offended that I hate something you love. Music is weird that way. As Madonna says (and I’m clearly paraphrasing here), it can bring the people together. But it can also rip people apart.

Case in point: I never got so many people riled up as I did the year I live-Facebooked the MTV video awards and announced that I think Brittany Spears is not an icon because it mostly sounds like she is singing underwater in a baby voice.

People were UP. IN. ARMS.

The great thing is, I don’t care. I’m not trying to change your opinions; I’m just admitting mine–my less popular ones.

So now I want to hear your less-than-popular music confessions. Unless they are that you hate Pearl Jam.

Then we can no longer be friends.


(no, I’m not.)

The Bedtime Battle

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I have a love/hate relationship with my children’s bedtime routines.

I know all kids are different, but it always astounds me how we can do the same thing with all three kids and get three vastly different outcomes.

As a baby, Eddie just couldn’t fall asleep on his own. We tried. Oh boy did we try. But I just couldn’t leave him to cry in his crib, so at a very young age, he was held until he fell asleep. Then he was read to and rocked to sleep. Then he was read to and laid by until he fell asleep…well, Ok that is the routine even now.

We tried putting him to bed without laying next to him. It resulted in some interesting “getting out of bed excuses” and even a couple times where he appeared completely naked requesting “a little help.” In fact, I wrote about all the ridiculous things he would say.

Charlie was so easy. We would feed him his last bottle of the night,  put him in bed completely awake, and walk away. He would sleep all night. Eventually we added books and rocking, but even then after he felt he’d had enough rocking, he would point to the crib and go to bed.

That was until he realized he could escape the crib.  Then bedtime became an all-out, throw-down battle with that child. Put him to bed, he gets out, put him back, he cries, gets quiet, gets out, put him back, ad naseam.

That is when the bunk beds came. My dad built the boys their beds, and since Eddie was the oldest, we gave him the pick of top or bottom. He picked bottom, and quite awesomely, Charlie got the top…and couldn’t get out by himself! 

Now our main battle is about getting jammies on and getting teeth brushed and which shows we will watch before and which books we will read.

Alice…well…she is a good sleeper. Such a good sleeper that lately she has been falling asleep on the living room floor. (If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen this phenomena). She wakes up just long enough to have her last bottle, then promptly falls back to sleep in our arms, and unless her teeth bug her, she’s out for the rest of the night.

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As the kids get older, they get slower about the nightly routine. Charlie somehow spends at least part of his “show time” in his underwear because apparently it takes him a full 20 minutes to put on pajamas, and just the other night Eddie told me he “forgot” to brush his teeth in the 30 minutes he had to do so.

I know we have not had the weirdest bedtime battles, nor have we had the worst. But sometimes, at the end of a long day, all you want is for the kids to go to bed…so you can go to bed.

Or eat chocolate and watch Netflix or DVR-ed SNL Jimmy Fallon episodes.


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am part of the Netflix StreamTeam, so I share some things I love or write to a prompt once a month. In return, Netflix provides me with their service as well as devices to watch it on. All opinions and experiences are my own.

five sleeping babies

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Saturday Charlie came into our room while I was in there, and wandered over to my bedside table and this conversation happened:

Charlie: Mom Mom? What is in that circle box?

Me: Two little hearts.

Charlie: Why, Mom Mom?

Me: Because they are for two babies.

Charlie: What two babies?

Me: Two babies that were in my tummy, but died.

Charlie: What were theirs names?

Me: They didn’t have names. They died before we knew if they were boys or girls. They were very tiny in my tummy when they died.

Charlie: Well….they are somewhere.

Me: Yup. They are. Maybe in heaven with Papa?

Charlie: Yeah. Mom, Mom? Why do you have three pictures of Alice?

Me: Those are not all Alice. That one is. But that one right there is Eddie, and that one there is you.

Charlie: We are alls sleepin’.

Me: Yup. All five babies. Sleeping.

Charlie: I like babies, Mom Mom.

Me: Yup. Me too.


Sometimes the most important conversations happen when you least expect them to. Cortney and I have always made it a policy to always answer our children’s questions in the most age-appropriate, honest way possible. When we brought up this conversation with Eddie, he first reacted in a way that was almost a little funny to me.


He is a little dramatic.

But when I explained to him that he was the first to be born, and that he is a miracle, and that once he was born, we knew what we had to do to have healthy babies–his brother and sister–he was happy again.

Being oldest is important to him.

As it should be.

love languages

Are you familiar with the five love languages?


Well it turns out, my love language is gifts, and I have been sort of embarrassed about that since I took that dumb quiz and found out. I mean, doesn’t that make me seem greedy and superficial if the way to my heart is buying me stuff?

But you know what? It’s true. The thing that makes me feel loved is getting gifts. But it’s not the actual gift  that matters. As cliche as it is, it truly is the thought.

It means someone either thought of me and wanted to get me something, OR someone saw something and immediately thought of me. Knowing that I was thought of even when I wasn’t there makes me feel good.

I don’t even really need the gift. Sometimes a text message is a gift. Or a picture sent to me of something that brings me to mind.

I’m not talking about getting showered in jewelry and extravagant clothes or electronics. I mean the grocery store flowers Cortney buys on a whim because they are full or oranges and yellows and he knows those are my favorite flower colors.

Or package of Oreos that suddenly appears in the pantry because he knows I’ll want a little treat after a hard day.

It’s the unexpected jar of homemade soup that The Preacher’s Wife sets down next to me in my pew at church with only a quick hug.

It’s the hilarious pin my best friend sends to me because when she sees a borderline inappropriately funny saying, she thinks of me.

It’s the book someone sends to me for my classroom because they know that is one of my biggest passions.

It’s the carefully selected Christmas or birthday gift from a family member or friend…not because they are required to get me anything, but because they know something special from them will make me smile.

To be fair, scoring very close to gifts is “words” as my runner-up love language. This is probably because I see verbal “pats on the back” to be something that people tend to leave unsaid, but that can make all the difference when they are said.

“You’re doing a great job.”

“You are a great mom.”

“You are a wonderful teacher.”

“I appreciate you.”

Gifts and words are also my preferred way to let someone know I love them and am thinking about them as well. I would love to be able to afford to send every one of my friends and family members carefully selected gifts on their birthdays or to warm their new houses or to celebrate the successes or just to let them know I am thinking about them, but due to finances, I usually have to rely on my words and hope they are enough.

I’ve tried to change my love language to something easier for other people. It seems so demanding to “need” presents or constant affirmations. I’ve tried to be a “touchy feely” person. But oh my goodness. No. (Sorry, Cortney).

I’ve tried to take the gift of time, but that never works out. Yes, I appreciate spending time with people…I even love it. But as an introvert, I re-energize by being on my own (and not touched).

Don’t get me wrong, I have friends who definitely thrive on time, acts, and touch–very extroverty friends. And it’s cool. I love to do things with them, do things for them, and hug them.

But if you are reaching out to love me? I respond more to gifts and words.

And I’m deciding right now that it’s ok.

So what is your love language? Do you find it hard to love someone who has totally different love needs than you?

feeding a hungry soul

Today did not start well.

Without throwing blame around, I’ll just say that Sunday mornings are a variation of hard. We have never  had a smooth Sunday morning in the history of ever.

I sat down in church grumpy and annoyed, and just not even wanting to be there. In fact, I came THIS close to shoving my Sunday school story at Cortney and saying, “I am staying home alone. Tell them I am sorry, but I can’t come do this today.” In fact the only reason I got in the car with my family was because my 2nd and 3rd graders were depending on me being there, and I did not want to put our VERY pregnant Pastor of Young Families in a pickle by not showing up.

While Cortney settled Charlie into nursery and I tried to get Eddie and Alice situated in our pew, my soul sister friend (The Preacher’s Wife) plunked a bag of wonderful soup, bread, and treats next to me, hugged me quickly, and whispered, “this small treat is just for you. Do NOT share.” It was HER birthday today, and she was feeding MY tummy and soul.

Then the message, of course, was something I also needed to hear. I wish I had been able to better concentrate, and truthfully I wish it had been longer. I wish there was more. I needed to be fed today. My heart and soul and spirit were very exhausted and hungry.

Once church was over and I had the kids fed and occupied, I realized I didn’t have time to get done what needed to get done for school today before we had to pack up the family and go to a birthday party.

Charlie didn’t get a nap and Alice only napped for 45 minutes.

I laid on the couch with a slight tummy-ache (stress-related, not actual sickness) for about 30-minutes because if I had tried to do the things on my To Do List, I would have just started crying. So I rested.

The birthday party was for my just turned 2-year old nephew, Ezra. We also got to meet our niece (his sister) for the first time. She was so tiny, and once she was placed in my arms (wearing an outfit Alice wore) everything inside of me calmed.

The sadness I had about giving Alice’s rock n play away left. The stress tummy-ache went away. And the pang of regret about having no more babies even left. She was perfect and lovely and…not mine.

Then I looked at my beautiful sister-in-law. She looks so tired. So beautifully new-momish, but so tired. I wanted to take her in my arms and rock her until she fell asleep. I wanted to whisk all of the people out of her house to my house and give her some hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I’m still tired and a little grumpy that I didn’t get all done that I had planned. I still really REALLY need some hours alone at some point. My heart and soul are still pretty tired.

But being with friends and family today did much more for me than I could imagine.

I am pretty damn lucky.

What We’re Reading

It’s been awhile since I wrote about books. I didn’t realize how many of you actually like to know what I’m reading, what my kids are reading, and what my students are reading!

I’ll start with my reading pile.

I’m currently reading Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen. He will be the visiting author at our school in January, so I am teaching this book in the next few weeks. I’m pretty excited about it because it’s so different than any book I’ve ever taught.2015-10-28 22.00.13

Clara and Elias are randomly next to each other on a flight to the United States. On the flight, Clara tries to strike up a conversation with Elias and realizes that he knows something about her past–something she is trying to keep hidden in the past. After they part ways, she realizes their backpacks were switched, and when she brings his back to his residence, she realizes that the Elias she met on the plane is not the same Elias that greets her at the door.

We just had Eddie’s parent/teacher conference this week and found out he is meeting benchmarks that surpass first grade in both reading and math. The kid loves learning. We had two Captain Underpants books at home and these have now become Eddie’s favorite.

We have read three of the series so far (numbers 1, 3, and 4). Eddie has put the rest on his Christmas list. I’ll be honest and say I think they are pretty dumb, but they are silly and they keep Eddie interested in reading.


Charlie tries to listen to the chapter books at bedtime, but is usually uninterested if there are not pictures on the page. He usually picks from our enormous pile of picture books. Eddie also chooses books from his school library that he thinks Charlie will enjoy. This usually means we read a Curious George book at bedtime too.

It’s interesting to watch my students are reading. There are certain books and series from last year that were wildly popular that just haven’t been checked out much, but there are others that collected dust last year that have been constantly checked out this year.

A few of the favorites so far this year (that I haven’t mentioned before) include:


Paper Towns by John Green – Ok, I mentioned this one before. But it’s hugely popular right now because of the movie and because Looking For Alaska is pretty similar, that one is always checked out too.

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon – This book was new to my library this year and my students discovered it in the nonfiction section before I could read it. It’s a memoir about how Runyon attempted suicide as a teenager by setting himself on fire.

Gone (the series) by Michael Grant — Once kids have read through The Hunger Games and Divergent series they want something new. In this series, all the adults have been wiped out leaving only kids, toddlers, and babies to fend for themselves.

Bone (the series) by Jeff Smith — I really know nothing about this series because the minute I put it in my library it was all checked out. All of it. Reluctant readers (mostly boys) flock to this.

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B Cooney — This actually a series too. I got it because this year I have quite a few reluctant readers who asked for mysteries. Since they were not big readers to begin with, my Agatha Christie was not appealing to them. I needed something YA to get their attention. Because of the popularity of this one, I just added the next in the “Janie Johnson Series”.

We Were Liars by e. lockhart — Ok fine. I mentioned this one before too. BUT in my defense that was before school started. This is one that the both boys and girls love to read. I’ve got quite the wait list for this one.

Ok, I showed you mine, now you show me yours. What are YOU reading? Or have I tempted you with any of these?


If you want to help give my students more books to choose from, check out my Project for getting 25 new books here. I only need $120!

when the words won’t come

I’m currently very stressed out.

The work week is over, but I still have things that I had to take home with me. I’m not even sure they will get done because we have so much else going on.

This is another non-post.



I just…I have nothing tonight. But I made this stupid commitment to do a blog post every stupid day in stupid November. And then my “supportive” husband was all “I know you are super busy, but you should do it. It’s good for you.”

Stupid supportive husband being supportive. And stupid.

So all I have tonight is filler. Fluff.

I’m tired. This is maybe the hardest week of the school year: parent/teacher conference week. Yesterday and today I was at work for 12 hours. Well, actually, today I left school at 2:45 with the students to make it to Eddie’s parent/teacher conference by 3:20 (did I mention my commute is about 35 minutes?) and then back to school for our conferences that started at 4pm, but I got back late because traffic.

No students tomorrow, but we have professional development in the morning and three more hours of conferences after lunch.

I’m tired.

I like conferences. I wish more parents would come and see me. But I am tired.

I’m also a bit sad. My niece is a week old and we haven’t met her yet because last week we all had colds and this week has been hellaciously busy.

Saturday I have TWO baby showers to go to at the same time.

I’m just tired, dudes.

So this post is sort of nothing. But I posted. And now I am going to go eat pizza rolls and Oreos and not care because TIRED.

better together…or not so much?

After my 20-week ultrasound with Charlie, and after we had texted all the family and friends, I asked Cortney if he was excited to have another boy. Both of us were actually quite giddy about another little boy. Eddie would have a BROTHER! They would be BROTHERS!


I have never had a same-sex sibling, but from what I could tell, it was both a blessing and a curse…but mostly a blessing. I was always a little jealous of my two brothers. Even though Chris and I were closer in age, he and our youngest brother, Mike were closer. I guess there are just things that you can’t talk about with your big sister, but that a brother understands. You know, like sports.

Cortney, though, had a brother. There are almost seven years between them, but the have a special bond. Now that they are adults, they get together regularly. They bond over a beer and discuss everything from sports to their dad to having daughters.

Brothers are special. It’s just a special relationship. That is why when were told Eddie was getting a brother, a Charlie Bird, we rejoiced for our family.


I had to write all that because now that they are three-and-a-half and six? I am not always so sure about the wonder of the brotherly bond.

Friends, the level of bickering goes to eleven with these two.

It usually starts with both of them doing their own thing. Maybe Eddie is playing the tablet while Charlie catches up on his DVR-ed Mickey episodes. Everything is peaceful in Sluiter Nation. And then someone (ahem, Charlie) feels the need to sit too close to Eddie. Or maybe someone (ahem, Eddie) randomly mentions that he had a piece of candy after school. AND THEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

Eddie freaks out on Charlie or Charlie freaks out on all of us.

And they BOTH need the last word.

I admit that I yell. I know, I KNOW. I’ve read all those stupid articles and posts about yelling at your kids and how you need to be all patient and down on their level.


This goes on and on for days and days.

The picking the bickering the not being able to be in the same dang room without driving Cortney and me to the Loony Bin.

And then Eddie will come home from school with a library book he picked out because Charlie would like it.

Or Charlie asks Eddie if he would like some of his m&ms.

Or Eddie asks Charlie if he would like to learn to play Where’s My Water on his tablet, and they scrunch together in the chair on a Saturday morning.

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Or Charlie asks Eddie if he can play Pokemon with him and Eddie says Yes.

Or Eddie asks Charlie what letters he learned at daycare and tells him “Good job!” when Charlie shares his letter work.

Or Cortney and I wake up at 6am on a Saturday because we hear the two of them giggling and talking with each other in their room because they know they can’t get up until 7:00am.

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I catch myself in those moments pausing and trying to picture them in high school together or in their 20’s and talking smack to each other about fantasy leagues. I try to picture them standing up in each other’s weddings or holding each other’s newborn babies. I like to think they will always stick up for each other, always be there when the other needs a buddy to just have a beer with.

And just as a tear is starting to come to my sentimental mom eye, I’ll hear a smack and then the yell of “CHAAAAAARRRRLLLIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!” Then a three-and-a-half-year-old scream and another thump.

I will suck in my breath, shake my head, and try to calm down so I don’t yell. Again.

Brothers, man.

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