Someday I Will…

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Eddie talks about what he wants to be when he grows up all the time, and every time it ends with “and I will live here with you and daddy forever!”

Cue me smiling hard and trying not to say, “NO YOU WILL NOT.”

Our last conversation went something like this:

Eddie: Mom, when I grow up I’m going to be an artist. And still live with you guys.”

Me: What kind of artist?

Eddie: A paintist

Me: And you’re going to live here? Why?

Eddie: Because I like living here.

Ok then.

Eddie loves crafts and painting and drawing. He also loves writing and reading. He also loves math. He also loves playing Clash of Clans and Cut the Rope and watching “good shows” on Netflix. He also loves to help clean and pick up because he “just wants to be helpful and responsible.”

He has absolutely no doubt that whatever he wants to do someday, he will do it.

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Always creating.

 

Do you remember when you had that sort of confidence about the future? I do. I distinctly remember in 3rd grade being asked to draw a picture and write sentences about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be a telephone operator so I could push buttons. I drew a picture of me sitting in a chair with a huge table of buttons in front of me and I was happily pushing the ones that lit up.

I was absolutely sure that is what I could do. I also was sure that if I changed my mind, I could do whatever else I chose too. I was eight. I had no thoughts of training or schooling or having to pay for that training or schooling.  Or moving away from my family. No, in my mind you just became what you wanted.

I asked Charlie today what he wanted to do when he was bigger. He put a finger next to his face, was thoughtful for a minute and answered “watch George.” I guess at 2-years old it’s harder to think about being “big” and having a “job”. He was, however quite involved with his tool set when I asked him after just watching a bunch of episodes of Handy Manny on Netflix.

Charlie is our putz-er. He likes to fiddle with things and “fix” them.  Last week I found him “working on his car”–a toy ride-on car that his Granny gave him. He had it upside down and was using a pencil to “fix” it. Upon closer inspection, he had also poured all his goldfish into the wheel well.

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“shh. mom. I working.”

 

Even Cortney and I are always talking about what we want to be when we “grow up”.  He finished his degree and is now a business owner.  That means it’s “my turn” again to go to school if I want to. And what I REALLY want to do is get my PhD.  I want to teach future English teachers.

With a baby coming, a new vehicle needed, and extra costs for diapers, formula, and daycare, we don’t have the money to pay for classes right now. I am, however, taking steps. I’ve met with “The Retirement” guy about retiring from my district in 10+ years. I have also been looking into re-taking the GRE (since I took it over 10 years ago for my Masters program, I have to re-take it before I apply to my PhD program). Then there are all the letters of rec and writing samples to get for my actual application.

It’s never too late (or too early) to think about what you want to do “someday”. That is something we try to instill in our kids. Education and learning new things never has to end.

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Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix has provided a year of free service along with a device to view it on, but the stories and opinions are all my own.

The FINAL Final Countdown

This weekend I passed the 36-week mark in my last pregnancy.  We took my final pregnancy “week” photo…ever.

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Like I said before, pregnancy is hard for me. Oh, there are people for whom it is much, MUCH harder, I know. But it is still not my favorite state of being.

But this is not about that.

This is about the fact that in less than three weeks I will be done with child-bearing. People ask, “are you SURE you don’t want more kids?”

No. I am not sure. But I am POSITIVE that I don’t want anymore of them to grow in my body. And my body most definitely agrees with me. I have officially been in the phase of “child-bearing” for seven years. I’ve had five pregnancies, two babies, and God-willing one more in a few weeks. It is enough.

Even though I am more than ready to be done being pregnant forever, of course there is still the little twinge in my heart with those words “last” and “final”. I’m very aware every time she rolls or kicks that these are the last baby movements my body will feel. It’s the last time I will share my body.

I can honestly say that it has been a miracle and an honor to share my body with all three of my children–to use myself to grow them and feed them and love them. And at the exact same time, it has been a rough ride. It’s an odd thing to hold such contradictory feelings at the same exact time.

Being a parent does that to you though. I know it’s happened before having children, but all feelings and emotions are magnified when you bring small humans into the world. The line between love and loathing becomes extremely blurred. I love and loathe this thing called pregnancy. I have never loved anyone so hard as I have loved my children (and my husband since we’ve had children). I have also never felt such exasperation, defeat, guilt, and rage than I have since having children.

I have never wanted to quit as much as I have being a mother.

I have also never wanted to fight for someone else or myself as much as I have being a mother.

I have never laughed or cried as hard as I have since my kids came into this world.

I have never appreciated and hated the small things in this world…like a small hand in mine or crumbs in my favorite chair…so much as I have since children moved into this house.

My heart now knows what it feels like to be filled and broken at the same exact time.

Alice is scheduled to come into the world via Csection on the morning of Friday, March 6 thus ending my child-bearing years.

We are all excited, nervous, and ready and not ready at all.

Just as you would expect.

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The last “bump” pic from each baby.

 

Everything is Fine

“Every pregnancy is different.”

I have heard that over and over this time around and it still never ceases to amaze me how true that is. I know there are a lot of factors that go into it: my age, the way the baby is positioned, maybe even the sex of the baby among many other things.

My pregnancies with the boys were similar, but still not exactly the same. Eddie was a fairly “uneventful” pregnancy compared to his brother and sister.  With Charlie I had partial placenta previa and had to really be careful at work or risk being put on bed rest.

My body really seems to hate being pregnant.

I mean, first of all, it won’t stay pregnant without medical intervention.  Once pregnant, it protests almost the entire time. And it has gotten worse each pregnancy.

It’s not much of a secret that this time around has been incredibly tough on my physically (and subsequently mentally as well). Part of me feels terrible and guilty complaining. So many of my friends have had such a hard time getting pregnant (or can’t get pregnant at all) and would love my problems. But they are still my problems, and I have to give myself permission to not love puking and reflux and pain everywhere. It’s really ok to not love that stuff.

And then yesterday I started to have contractions.

Actually, looking back, it might have been Sunday. I started feeling a little crampy and uncomfortable.  I took a giant nap, but then Sunday night I had an awful night sleep. Not because I wasn’t tired, but because I thought maybe I had gas pains.  Monday it was worse.

By the time my final hour of school came around (thankfully my planning period), I had trouble walking because it was so bad. Rather than pick up Eddie, I let Cortney know I needed to go straight home.

When he got home, he found me in bed. Because I am 35.5 weeks pregnant, we decided just to go in to the hospital and get it checked out.  Thankfully my mom was available to come over and sit with the boys (she ended up also getting them to bed, scrubbing my stove top, and emptying my dishwasher which made me cry because I was exhausted and emotional).

Urgent care sent me directly to the ER who sent me directly upstairs to the birthing floor. I kept saying, “oh we are not staying. This is not me going into labor.”  The nurses later told me that they put me in Room 1, the room that is sort of reserved for people they are sure are not staying.  Phew.

I got all hooked up to the baby monitor thingys. Alice was doing great and moving around. I was having contractions.

WHAT. O_O

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By a stroke of grace, my very own OB happened to be there because he was about to deliver a baby.  Not MY baby, thank goodness.

He checked everything and “everything” was not ready to have a baby, thank goodness. So he decided to give me a shot to stop the contractions, test for a UTI, and wait to see what happened.

What happened was a bunch of boring waiting, jitters from the shot, and feeling sorry for myself.

Eventually I was released to go home, given some pain meds that would help me sleep, and a bunch of info sheets about what to watch for in pre-term labor.

Everything is fine.

But I couldn’t help thinking of that phrase “every pregnancy is different” as I fell asleep last night.  I know you’re not supposed to wish time away. I know I’m supposed to cherish these last few weeks…especially because it’s my last, but I can’t help but want March 6 to get here and have everything just be fine.

Everything will be just fine.

Musing at 34 weeks, 3 days pregnant

I feel like a large, useless blob.

I know, I know. I’m not “useless”. I’m growing a human. I KNOW.

As a self-proclaimed mega fan of being lazy, I really suck at it when it’s thrust upon me. Under normal circumstances, I will gladly and enthusiastically take a day to sit on my butt with a cup of tea and a book and a nap. However at this sage in my pregnancy I want to do all the things and I can’t.

For me, pregnancy brings a whole bag of emotions the largest and most pronounced being guilt.

The thoughts come fast and in no particular order. It usually starts because I am sitting on the couch looking around at all the things I want done: dusting, vacuuming, walls washed, lamp shades cleaned, leather furniture cleaned, floors scrubbed…is that a fruit loop? When did we last have fruit loops in this house? Aw geez.

I can’t do much.

For one, I have something wrong with one of my knees. They can’t really do anything about it until after pregnancy, so we are just sort of babying it until then, half-hoping it’s just loose ligaments that will feel better after baby is born. But because of it, I am not just a waddling pregnant lady, I am sort of a limping one too. I’ve been told to give up stairs as much as possible.

That combined with the largeness of my belly (I’m measuring 2 weeks ahead), makes sitting on the floor an impossibility as well.  Ok, getting UP from the floor is the impossible part. Also not Ok anymore is being on my hands and knees to help look for a small toy or to scrub floors the way I want them scrubbed.

Saturday while Cortney was out getting groceries, I thought I would show him some appreciation for all the work he has put in to make our house run smoothly while I am entering the “Useless” phase of pregnancy by baking him the chocolate chip cookies he’s been craving. I figured cleaning up some of the kitchen while at it was no big deal. Then I got it in my head that picking up my 31-pound almost 3-year old and dancing around the kitchen to the Beatles was Ok.

It was so not Ok that I got crampy and awful feeling for the rest of the day.

I spend a lot of time saying “I can’t, I’m sorry boys.”

I see the stuff I want to clean and scrub–partly because I am feeling all nesting-ish, but because normally I would do those things on the weekends. And even though he says to do it, I don’t want to add those things to Cortney’s already long To Do list.

I feel guilty not doing “my share” even though logically I know that by growing a baby, I am doing “my share” right now.

And then I start to hate pregnancy.

So there’s more guilt there. As far as nature is concerned, my children should not be possible. I needed medical intervention to keep them alive in my belly AND to keep them (and me) alive through the birthing process. The fact that we have two healthy boys and a little girl on the way is nothing short of a miracle.

How can I hate that? Why can’t I just sit back, enjoy it, and glow like I should?

So I am a ball of emotions. Those emotions make me cry. I’m ready to be done being pregnant…which also makes me feel guilt, by the way.

I want to clean my house and have a baby.

But of course it’s not ever that simple.

Why I Don’t Assign Reading Logs

I’m going to ruffle some English teacher feathers with this, but I don’t assign reading logs to my junior high students. Nor do I require my Kindergartener to do the ones that are sent home with him.

In fact, I think that reading logs are one of the biggest ways to kill the love of reading in anyone, but especially in kids who are just getting their feet wet as readers and are so impressionable.

This isn’t just my isolated opinion though; it’s been researched and shown that reading logs turn kids off to reading rather than make them stronger, more literate students. Reading logs are not the habits of life-long readers, rather the practices of people who “have to get this done”. Reading logs create another chore, another thing on the agenda for kids.

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A main focus of books like  Book Love by Penny Kittle and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is that we should be creating life-long readers by teaching them the habits of life-long readers.  I consider myself a life-long reader since I have been reading for pleasure longer than I can remember.

Some traits I know about life-long readers:

  • they have a To Read list (or pile)
  • they know where to get more books
  • they talk about what they read
  • they find time to read because they look forward to it.
  • and they do NOT log how many pages they read each day or summarize what they’ve read each time or create a diorama of a book when they are done. THEY JUST READ.

I know a lot of adult who are book lovers and genuine readers and none of them, to my knowledge, keep a reading log. Some may keep lists of what they’ve read (find me on GoodReads! That is where I keep my lists!), and some are writers and tend to keep a journal of their thoughts, which may include what they read. But none…NONE…have a spreadsheet-style paper they pull out of a folder and record the exact number of minutes, the pages, and a summary each time they read. That would take out all the joy, right?

So why do we think having kids do that will equate to them wanting to read?

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My boys currently LOVE books. We read almost every day. Eddie has reading homework 4 days a week, yes, but he also volunteers to read the bedtime book occasionally. Other nights Cortney or I read the story while the boys snuggle together in the bottom bunk. Since Charlie moved from the nursery to the “Big Boy Room”, he has been introduced to all the non-board books in the house and he can’t get enough! It’s fabulous!

Eddie’s teacher also sends home a monthly reading log in calendar form. It’s not required that he do it, but if he “reads for 20 minutes every day” and colors in each day AND has a parent sign it, he can get a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

I sign that thing every month.  Eddie doesn’t even like Pizza Hut pizza, but he does like checking off each day. Do we read for 20 minutes when we read? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s much more when the boys get on a “book binge”. Some days it’s not at all if we have been going all day and then have plans in the evening that get us home too late to read before bed.

But we still cross off every day. I don’t even think Eddie is aware that there is a 20-minute time minimum.

I figure the point of the Pizza Hut reading program is to get kids reading and loving it. Eddie already is and does! So why make it a timed chore?

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My students are all well-accustomed to having to fill out reading logs. When I announced that we would be doing Reader’s Workshop at the beginning of the year, there were many groans and mummers of “reading logs”.  When I announced I don’t “do” reading logs there were cheers. One class even gave me a standing ovation.

Now that we are halfway through the year, I have asked my students if they miss reading logs, if reading logs were easier than the short assignments and in-front-of-class book talks they have to give now. There were a few that said yes. Those students admitted they could easily lie on reading logs and get their points and never have to actually read.  In my class, they have to read.

Most students, however, said they don’t miss them at all. They don’t mind the assignments because they are around the book they are reading and not something I am making them read. They also get time in class to read a book of their choice, so journal entries, character maps, and 1-page responses don’t really feel like so hard.

They also enjoy talking about their books either to each other or to me. While there are still many who get nervous to get in front of class, the formal Book Talks are the #1 way kids decide what they want to read next.

And guess what…they are reading. Without logging every page on a spreadsheet.

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This is the only spreadsheet they see. It’s passed around the room on a clipboard so I can see what kids are reading. They are not graded on how much they read, but it gives me a starting point for our conferences.

 

What my students are doing is much closer to what I do when I settle in with my book each night on the couch, cup of tea steaming next to me. And after I read, I tend to check social media and there are always a couple threads of friends asking “whatcha reading?” with long conversations about good books and crappy books.

As I add my thoughts to these threads, I smile because I am doing exactly what my students are asked to do: read and talk about books.

The Home Stretch

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I just fell over laughing at this comparison.

First, I apparently gave up with Eddie and Charlie by this point. Was I living in jammies or what? I mean, I look homeless in the Eddie shot.

Secondly each tummy is progressively bigger…like it’s giving up a little with each pregnancy. It’s all “look how cute and small I still am” with Eddie and now with Alice it’s all “ugg. dude. get it OVER with already.”

It’s also funny to me that I have a helper in the Charlie photo because look:

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Yup, Charlie was all sorts of excited to help me out with the Alice picture!

So I’m officially in the 8th month of my last pregnancy. Suddenly all the “Alice Will Be Here Soon” things are starting to happen: My sub for the rest of the school year has been hired. My 12 weeks off has been approved and put in the system. I have done a load of baby laundry. We have a lot of the infant stuff located. We even have some diapers and a stockpile of formula.

We need to put the car seat bases into our vehicles which may be a bit of a puzzling challenge with the other two 5-point harness seats in there already, but we will make it work.

We need to dust off the swing and the bounce seat.

I have a colleague who is generously giving us their rock n play for Alice to use, and we probably should get some more baby pants and socks and hats.

We need to find the bottles and wash them.

We should probably get serious about organizing what the heck we are doing with school pick up and such while I am still healing from surgery. I thought about making some freezer meals, but we all know I don’t have time for that. I will just accept whatever comes our way and ask Cortney to pick me up a taco the other times.

I am starting to feel the need to reduce everything extraneous from our schedule and prepare to hunker down in the baby daze. I am excited to have that small bundle in my arms rather than kicking my butt…from the inside.  I want all the things in my house clean, but I also want all the naps to be mine.

And there is that wee small part of me that realizes that this is the beginning of the end.

No more pregnancies after this. 98% of me says THANK GOODNESS! That tiny 2% of me is like “aw”.

We are in that home stretch of reaching brand new territory.  Only one more monthly photo to go before show time!

Friends with Netflix

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There has been a lot going on in the house of Sluiter lately. It seems like every day is packed and hurried with getting up, getting dressed, getting out of the house, work, school, pick up, dinner, baths, jammies, homework, stories, bedtime. REPEAT.

We have had little time to squeeze any extras in our days even though extras (like colds and coughs and fevers) keep popping up.

When we do get a moment with nothing going on, it’s nice to have a favorite mindless activity to fall back on. I’m not ashamed (nor do I think I am alone) to admit that we love TV in our house.  Most of the time the boys take over the TV via Netflix. We have watched so much Curious George (thanks to Charlie’s current obsession) that Eddie is now reciting lines with the show…from another room.

If Eddie gets a chance to choose the shows, he usually goes with Batman or Woody Woodpecker (confession: I hate that show) or Scooby Doo. But recently he’s watched {the old} Annie too. Although he told me the other day that anytime anyone says anything about Annie, someone else will break out singing “Tomorrow”, and that gives him a headache since there are better songs in the movie. Ha!

I rarely get time alone with Netflix, but when I do, I cram as many episodes of Friends in as I can.

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When I heard Friends was coming to Netflix I almost died of excitement. It’s probably one of my most favorite shows of all time. Cortney does not love it, and it’s not appropriate for the boys to watch, so if I want to watch it, it has to be when I am alone. This happens almost never.  But I am persevering! I started with Season 1, the way a good fan would and I am on episode 8 out of 24, so yeah. Not very far. But in a few weeks Alice and I have plans to watch the rest of the series together. I thought I would be nice and wait for her, so she can watch too.

Are you a Friends addict like I am? What shows will you watch over and over again?

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and was given a year of Netflix and a device to view it on. All opinions and experiences are those of my family and me.

9 Things I Wonder About Other Writers

While I was reading blogs–yes, I still do that–I came across this post by my friend Alison, which was inspired by Kristen. I really liked it.

I have been thinking a lot about that label “writer” lately. Are “blogger” and “writer” synonymous? I suppose so. I tell my students that if you write, you are a writer. However I think there is a difference between “writer” and “capital ‘W’ Writer”.

I definitely consider myself a writer (well, a Teacher-writer, if you want to be specific), but a Writer? I’m not sure.  I don’t think being published means you are automatically a Writer. I think there is more to it than that, but I haven’t figured out what. In the meantime, here are my answers to some interesting questions.

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1. Do you share your work with your partner or spouse? Does it matter if it’s been published yet?

Yes, always. Cortney reads my blog regularly and I send him almost every draft of something I am going to submit for publication elsewhere. He is my biggest cheerleader in anything I do and really pushes me to go to the next level in teaching, learning, and writing. I smiled when I read that Stephen King also has his wife read everything he writes.

2. How much of your family and/or closest “friends in real life first” read your stuff…let alone give you feedback about it? 

Most of my readers are people I know “in real life”. My mom is probably second after Cortney in being my support. She doesn’t always agree with what I have written, but she proudly shares it with everyone and encourages me to keep writing.

My friends and other family members read it from time to time–when they see me post on Facebook and the topic interests them. Many members of my church have become readers, as well as some of my colleagues. Our church library even has one of the books I was published in on its shelves.

I’ve always been deeply honored when people I know tell me they read my writing and enjoy it. It’s also very humbling when former students, people I went to high school with, or past co-workers either approach me “in real life” or reach out via email or Facebook to tell me they enjoy what I write.  That keeps me going.

3. What do you do with the pieces that continually get rejected–post on your blog? Trash? When do you know it’s time to let it go?

The pieces that I have had rejected are either posted to my blog or kept for something else. I never know what I could revise and use again.

Rejection has taught me about who I am as a writer though, and what sorts of publications are more important to me than others. I find that I don’t fit many of the places that other bloggers find success submitting to. I don’t fit the mold that many places like the Huffington Post, Mamalode, etc are looking for.

While I do write about motherhood, most of those essays get rejected, and I’ve become Ok with that. I don’t naturally write beautiful, flowy pieces about being a mom. When I do, it’s usually something that just happens by chance.

The writing I get most recognition for are my opinion pieces and my posts on education. In fact, I’ve been published twice now in academic journals, and that is probably what I am most proud of.

4. Are there pieces you write for one very specific place that, once rejected, you just let go of, or do you rework into something else?

I don’t think I have ever just “let go” of a piece. If it didn’t start as something here on my blog, I will publish it here in some embodiment of it’s original whether I have to make it more “blog friendly” if it was academic, or revise it down to fit the attention span of blog readers.

5. What is your main source of reading-based inspiration (especially you essayists)? Blogs? Magazines? Journals? Anthologies? Book of essays by one writer?

I read a ton. I take very seriously Stephen King’s idea that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.  I like to read books on the craft of writing, but I also just like to spend time with good writing–a good book that I can fall into for awhile. I get inspired by good writing.

I also try to read books on teaching pedagogy so I can stay abreast of best practice teaching. This leads me to try new things in my classroom and to write about it here (like I did with Reader’s Workshop and not assigning homework). I also read academic journals which both inspire me as a teacher and writer, but also give me ideas of what I can write about.

I like to read blogs as well. Lately I have been reading lots of political blogs and opinion blogs (but not the comment sections!)

6. What tends to spark ideas more for you: what you see/hear in daily life or what you read?

I think it’s equal parts experience and reading especially my teaching/writing posts and essays.  It’s hard to write about something you don’t experience, but reading really motivates me to write.

7. Who have you read in the past year or two that you feel is completely brilliant but so under-appreciated?

I think young adult literature is often under-appreciated. I know I never thought of it as “literature” until I started reading a TON of it over the past year in preparation for implementing a Reader’s Workshop in my classroom.  When I was the age my students are now, what I had available to me with teen protagonists was hardly good writing. Now I find myself spellbound by authors like Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith, and John Green.  I don’t think you have to have teenagers or teach them to fall in love with these books.

8. Without listing anything written by Dani Shapiro, Anne Lamott, Lee Gutkind, or Natalie Goldberg, what craft books are “must haves”?

I think it depends on the kind of writing you love to do. I appreciate Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, but I also read a lot of “shop lit” (books about teaching writing) by Kelly Gallagher, Kylene Beers, Katie Wood Ray, Penny Kittle, and many others.

I also think sometimes reading authors that inspire your writing is sort of like reading a “craft book”. For instance I am largely influenced by Hemingway’s writing style of using very few words to convey very large ideas, but other than his posthumously published A Moveable Feast –which is more memoir than writing direction–there is not much writing advice he gives. I think many Writers don’t claim to know what will work for everyone; they only know what will work for themselves.

While I enjoy a good “craft” book, I don’t lean on them for a direct “Here is How to be a Capital “W” Writer” so much as I glean suggestions and ideas from them.

9. Have you ever regretted having something published? Was it because of the content or the actual writing style/syntax? 

Nope. No regrets. There have been a piece or two that I didn’t think was my best writing, but I don’t regret that it’s out there.  There are also pieces that I put out there that people read into in a way I didn’t expect, but again, I am not regretful or upset that I pushed “publish” or “send” on those pieces because they started conversations.

I’d love it if you answered a few of these. I’d also love it if you shared what YOU wonder about other writers too.

Blissfully Ignorant

“I think I’m afraid of her already,” I told my therapist.

“What do you mean by ‘afraid’?”

“I don’t even know, I’m not sure ‘afraid’ is the right word at all. But I feel something foreboding. Something that is like fear.”

I’d been trying to find a word to name the feeling that keeps coming up whenever people ask me if I am just so excited to have a daughter. I mean, I don’t want to say “no” because that’s not true.  But “excited” seems not right either. Or maybe it is.

I do get excited as I sort onsies by size and decide which of the boys’ jammies (the ones that don’t say “mommy’s little man”) Alice will be able to wear. Each pair of shoes or dress that someone gifts her makes me smile in a way I never did over all those little man clothes I so love.  It’s almost a smooshy, ridiculous smile. The kind you get when you’re twelve and you fall hard for that one boy in class you will never talk to…a dreamy smile.

Imagining headbands and white mary janes makes me turn all goofy in a way I never have before. So I guess I can’t say I’m NOT excited, because those seem like pretty clear indications of excitement on my part.

But there is something else pulling at me.

Something unsure.

“You know what I think it is,” I tell my therapist, “it’s that I remember too much.” I was pretty pleased with myself for this breakthrough, but it was clear she didn’t get what I was talking about, but it was becoming clearer in my mind.

I remember way too much of my childhood…of what was rough as a girl growing up. I remember how tough middle school was. I remember the choices in front of me in high school and college. I know what adolescent icky feels like for a girl. I remember all the uncomfortable firsts that felt not just “uncomfortable” but horrible.

With the boys, I don’t have these memories. I was never a little boy, or an adolescent boy, or a teenage boy, or a college boy.  I knew many of these boys. I married one, but I was blissfully ignorant to their first-person experiences. I didn’t have to go through it, so as a mom, I could be the facts and support when my boys went through it, but I would never be “re-living” it.

I have never had a desire to have a daughter until I knew there was one in my tummy. The thought of re-living my girlhood is the last thing I ever want to do. In fact, I hate that I can remember so much of those painfully lonely and embarrassed moments so vividly.

It had nothing to do with my upbringing either. My parents were wonderful and loving. No, it had everything to do with just “girl stuff”.

Girl stuff that I has, up until very recently, been shoved to the back regions of my memory never to be brought out unless a Boys II Men song comes on and inadvertently triggers it.

Now I will go through all those stages again via my daughter, and just like the first time, I won’t be able to “fix” any of the loneliness that goes with it. I won’t be able to prevent the embarrassment over non-embarrassing things. I won’t be able to stop that boy (or girl) who Alice likes so much from saying that mean thing that she never forgets.

So I guess I’m not afraid of Alice. I’m afraid for her.

I am sitting here, feeling her turn and kick and hiccup, and I can’t do a damn thing about what is coming down the road that “happens to us all” and I hate that.

The best I can do is love her.

I hope that is enough.

I hope that love with be what leads me to the right words when she feels ugly or ashamed or lonely. I hope that love closes my mouth when necessary and opens my ears and arms.

I hope the good outweighs the scary.

Out With The Old

Well, well, well 2014. So you’re finally over, eh?

Can’t say I am too sad about that.

Don’t get me wrong; you had your high points. Actually, you started out super great!

You sent us a LOT of snow...which I hate, BUT it made for lots of fun snow days...which I love. And my district didn't have to make any up!

You sent us a LOT of snow…which I hate, BUT it made for lots of fun snow days…which I love. And my district didn’t have to make any up!

You brought the baptism of my little nephew, Ezra.

You brought the baptism of my little nephew, Ezra.

you encouraged me with some of the most lovely friends I could ever ask for.

you encouraged me with some of the most lovely friends I could ever ask for.

Charlie had his first haircut.

Charlie had his first haircut.

Charlie turned 2.

Charlie turned 2.

I turned 36 with this crazy crew.

I turned 36 with this crazy crew.

We took Eddie to Chicago for Spring Break.

We took Eddie to Chicago for Spring Break.

I went along on the Spanish Trip to Chicago and got to hang with these weirdos.

I went along on the Spanish Trip to Chicago and got to hang with these weirdos.

The world came out to help me build my classroom library.

The world came out to help me build my classroom library.

I said goodbye to my best year (and students) in my teaching career.

I said goodbye to my best year (and students) in my teaching career.

I was published and did a book reading with my biggest fans in the audience.

I was published and did a book reading with my biggest fans in the audience.

Eddie turned 5!

Eddie turned 5!

Cortney took a day off so we could take a family trip to the zoo.

Cortney took a day off so we could take a family trip to the zoo.

we grew a garden again.

we grew a garden again.

we took boat rides

we took boat rides

I got pregnant!

I got pregnant!

my nephew, Harrison, was born

my nephew, Harrison, was born

I went to BlogHer in California and was honored as a Voice of the Year.

I went to BlogHer in California and was honored as a Voice of the Year.

We visited Papa Steve.

We visited Papa Steve.

I ate these ribs.

I ate these ribs.

Eddie started Kindergarten.

Eddie started Kindergarten.

I started a new teaching position.

I started a new teaching position.

Eddie played soccer

Eddie played soccer

I was published again!

I was published again!

We found out we were having a GIRL!

We found out we were having a GIRL!

I presented about using Reader's Workshop at the MCTE conference.

I presented about using Reader’s Workshop at the MCTE conference.

I was published...AGAIN!

I was published…AGAIN!

Eddie learned to read and write.

Eddie learned to read and write.

This guy turned 36

This guy turned 36

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company.

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company.

We celebrated Christmas

We celebrated Christmas

Behind these pictures though, somewhere in June, a deep sadness set in. There were a lot of unknowns going on, disappointments, and changes that I didn’t want to accept.

It’s hard because as I started inserting the pictures from June on, I felt the sadness all over. Graduation was my last truly happy photo.  I can see the forced smile on my face. I have so many blessings, but this year has been tough. Pregnancy is hard on me both physically and mentally. Change is hard for me…even when it’s good.

I am truly happy with the changes in our lives, but it’s still a ball of emotions for me.

So yes, I am excited for a new year. 2015, I’m looking at you. Please be kind to the Sluiter Family.

*************

BTW: if you usually find your way here via the Sluiter Nation Facebook page, you might want to go over there to my sidebar where it says “enter your email” and go ahead and do that. Facebook isn’t going to let me share links on my page anymore starting in January. ::cue sad trombone”

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