Project 365 {week 28}

The week…

July 6: Sometimes they get along.

July 6: Sometimes they get along.

July 7: A little quality quiet time with the big one.

July 7: A little quality quiet time with the big one.

July 8: Clay fun during quiet time...he was so proud that he spelled his name.

July 8: Clay fun during quiet time…he was so proud that he spelled his name.

July 9: Newest read

July 9: Newest read

July 10: Again it's craftiness during quiet time. Today = sidewalk paint

July 10: Again it’s craftiness during quiet time. Today = sidewalk paint

July 11: Meeting my new nephew, Harrison

July 11: Meeting my new nephew, Harrison

July 12: Annual reunion with the college buddies/roomies. We figured out we have been friends for 18 years.  And have 13 kids between the 6 of us!

July 12: Annual reunion with the college buddies/roomies. We figured out we have been friends for 18 years. And have 13 kids between the 6 of us!

How was your week?

Imagine the Possibilities

One of Eddie’s favorite birthday gifts was a “sidewalk art” themed gift from his aunt MacKenzie and uncle Dave. It included sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, and sidewalk tattoos. There are two reasons he loves this gift: 1) it was artsy and he loves all things arts and crafts and 2) it was an outdoor activity.

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If it’s possible, Charlie likes outdoor play even more than Eddie does. As soon as he gets up in the morning he asks if we can go “houtside”. And once he’s “houtside”, just try to get him to come in.  Seriously.

"Charlie, it's time to come in." "no."

“Charlie, it’s time to come in.”
“no.”

It’s good though, this love of play–and outdoor play, specifically. My kids are getting fresh air, exercise, and a stretch of their imaginations. They run and laugh and make believe.

This is probably why partnering with Imagine Toys was so natural for me. All of their toys promote interactive family play and big imaginations! Their Kaboom! Collection is cool because it promotes outdoor play as well. Plus 8% of each Kaboom! toy sale goes to bringing outdoor play to the lives of all American children.

Imagine is also a small, women-run business and local to me here in Michigan (Battle Creek to be exact).  It’s like we were made to go together. Like peas and carrots.

Part of my working with them means that they are sending me to BlogHer in San Jose, California in a week and a half (I’ll be the hottie with the Imagine Toys gear on).

While I’m there I’ll be armed with some goodies for bloggers who are seriously interested in working with Imagine Toys. Have I piqued your interest? Want to know more?

GOOD!

Tuesday, July 15, I will be hosting a twitter party talking all about Imagine Toys, Kaboom, and how to get involved. I also get to giveaway FIVE sweet prizes:

 

I KNOW you want to join me, yes?

So mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 15th at 8pm EST and follow me (@ksluiter), Imagine Toys (@imaginetoys), and the #ImagineToys hashtag.  We will have a fun discussion about playing and toys and you can learn more about being an Imagine Toys Blogger…and maybe win something!

See you there!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated for writing this post nor will I be compensated for the twitter party. Imagine Toys is sending me to BlogHer as a brand ambassador. US bloggers only are eligible for prizes and blogging partnerships. 

I Am Not Alone and Neither Are You

At the end of my last therapy appointment, my therapist of almost three years said to me, “so do you know Katherine Stone? I thought of you when I saw that she is behind the blog Postpartum Progress. She was the MC of the conference on PMDs that I attended last week.”

I smiled. Big.

“I do know Katherine Stone. As in I know her personally.”

“I thought there was a good chance of that,” she said. “She seems so inspiring.”

I thought about that word “inspiring” as I drove home. I also thought about when I first “met” Katherine. I was a hot damn mess when I was directed to Postpartum Progress by some people on twitter who read my very first post admitting that after nine months of suffering, I got sought help.

I combed through the entire site. I found stories and resources. I found help.

I think I officially met Katherine via twitter. When I was pregnant with Charlie and scared of a relapse of PPD, she was there assuring me. She sent me names of local people I could call. She checked in on me after Charlie was born and I went silent on social media. When things weren’t fine, she was there.

But it wasn’t just for me. She is there for every other woman struggling.

I met her five years ago when Postpartum Progress was much smaller and it’s reach confined to mostly women I “knew” via social media and PPD groups.  Now, five years later, it’s expanded to something so much larger than I can even wrap my mind around.

Katherine did that.

She is now known nation-wide and has been on CNN and other national news outlets.

And yet, she is still Katherine. She is still real and easy to approach and hilarious and passionate.  In fact, I think she is more passionate now than she was five years ago…if that is even possible.

She’s so big my own therapist is asking me if I’ve heard of her.

I admit that sometimes I figure she is so busy with all her amazing work, she probably doesn’t think much about me or remember me, but then she makes a funny comment on Facebook or tweets me and I think, “She’s still Katherine.”

I have given her name and website as a resource to moms so many times over the years, and I can still say “Here is my friend, Katherine’s information,” when I give it. Because she is not just a bigger than life public figure fighting for mom’s rights and health, she is my friend.

And I’m so proud of her. Proud to know her. Proud to have been a part of something that is so much larger than I am.

The letter Katherine wrote me in the collection of letters Miranda (Finding Walden) sent me after I had Charlie

The letter Katherine wrote me in the collection of letters Miranda (Finding Walden) sent me after I had Charlie

She helped me realize I am not alone, nor that I have to feel so isolated. I have become a vocal advocate not just for postpartum mood disorders, but for mental health in general.

I suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD and I am a great mom, a loving wife, and a successful teacher and writer. I laugh and smile and have wonderful friends.

I take medication and see a therapist and I love my life.

It’s possible to have a rich, wonderful life and have a mental illness/mood disorder. Katherine helped me realize that.

I am forever grateful to her and so very proud of this milestone of TEN YEARS of Postpartum Progress and kicking stigma ass.

Congratulations on Ten Years, Katherine!

Congratulations on Ten Years, Katherine!

Please visit Postpartum Progress if you or someone you know if struggling.

upgrading, yo.

Next week Cortney and I will be eligible for new phones per Verizon.

In normal people world that date might come and go and as they notice their phones getting slow and doggish they wonder, “huh, maybe I can get an upgrade?”

In Sluiter Nation where the tech geeks roam that date is on the dang calendar because NEW TECHNOLOGY AND GADGETS AND WEEEE!!!!

And to be fair I started crabbing about my Galaxy S3 being a dog a couple months ago. A couple updates made it better, but still. I get stabby when my stuff is slow.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got to tour the new Verizon Smart Store and I got to talking to their PR about what nerds Cortney and I are and they offered to send me a couple devices just to try out. Even said I didn’t have to blog about them, but hey…I’m a nerd, so I’m sharing them with you.

Cortney and I were pretty sure we were going to upgrade to the S5, but Verizon sent me the HTC One to try out. I was skeptical.

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My first thought when I took it out of the box was “holy cats! It’s so big!”

It is just as thin (if not thinner) than my S3, but the screen is much bigger. The week or so that I used it I realized quickly I would need a case for it because it kept sliding out of my hand because it’s so shiny and new and slippery!

HTC One on the left, Cortney's S3 on the right.

HTC One on the left, Cortney’s S3 on the right.

It’s quite slick.

I liked quickness of everything (which I suspect the S5 will have too since my S3 is dying a slow, obsolete technology death), it’s interface (which was extremely similar to the Samsungs), and the weight.

My favorite part was the interactive home screen that I had Weather Channel, CNN, and other news feeds go to. I could check out all the news from the home screen of my phone! But with one swipe to the side, my home screen could also be a traditional one with all the apps on a background picture of my boys.

I like it.  I still want to check out the S5, but know I know there are some super great phones out there other than Samsung ones.

We also got to play with try out a Bose Soundlink Mini.

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I saw these when I was on the store tour, and I asked about them because Cortney and I had talked about getting a wireless speaker of some sort that we could use with phones or whatever.  Neither of us have tons of music on our phones currently because we never use it, but if we had a speaker we might.

This little speaker is amazing. In Cort’s words, “It really bumps!” For being so tiny that little sucker sure emits a LOT of sound.  Quality sound.

And it’s portable! We set it on it’s little charging station and then we could connect it via bluetooth (which means we could connect it to our computers as well as our phones) to Cortney’s phone. In no time, the Black Keys were serenading our dinner. And we could easily move it around because hello, lack of wires.

We immediately saw the potential for garage tunes, lawn tunes, and patio tunes.

So besides new phones next week, I’m pretty sure Cortney is going to start budgeting for one of these bad boys too.

Speaking of those phones…what do you have? Do you love it? I’m still leaning toward the S5, but I want to hold it and make sure, ya know?

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

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. I was sent the technology to experience with no requirement of needing to blog about it. I just did because I like to know what you think. Tech geeks unite, yo.

 

 

We Are Water

I love Wally Lamb.  I fell in love with his writing in She’s Come Undone. In fact, I absolutely couldn’t believe it was a man writing that well for a female character.  Then I read I Know This Much Is True. More fabulous writing.  This is also when I realized that Lamb could weave a pretty messed up tale and talk about some truly difficult subjects, but do it so well that you want to keep reading. A about four years ago ago I picked up The Hour I First Believed.

And now I’ve picked up his latest, We Are Water.

The reviews on this one were mixed, but I knew I had to read it. While I really loved The Hour I First Believed, I felt like it was super long and maybe could have ended before it did, so I guess I expected to enjoy the book, but maybe not LOVE it.

continue reading…

Project 365 {week 27}

Holy crap!

It’s JULY!

June 29: It's summer. That means Pants Optional if you are under 3.

June 29: It’s summer. That means Pants Optional if you are under 3.

June 30: Moving day! On to a new classroom and new adventures!

June 30: Moving day! On to a new classroom and new adventures!

July 1: Just reading a book to daddy.

July 1: Just reading a book to daddy.

July 2: A morning at the zoo with daddy.

July 2: A morning at the zoo with daddy.

July 3: Bird High by the fourth of July.

July 3: our garden is Bird High by the fourth of July.

July 4: park in the morning, lazy afternoon, dinner and sparklers with friends, and then daddy's fireworks show in our jammies. A great holiday!

July 4: park in the morning, lazy afternoon, dinner and sparklers with friends, and then daddy’s fireworks show in our jammies. A great holiday!

July 5: This is exactly what summer should look like.

July 5: This is exactly what summer should look like.

Hopefully all of my American readers had a great holiday.

I know we did.

You know how I can tell? Everyone could have realistically gone to bed at 8pm tonight.

Boom.

We’re On Each Other’s Team

Cortney and I have a really great relationship and strong marriage. It’s one of the things I am most proud of in this world and feel so grateful that such a wonderful friend ended up as my life partner.

We get asked a lot what they secret to our marriage is and if it’s really as awesome as we make it look online.

As someone who as dated her fair share of turds (and nice guys, but mostly turds), I wasn’t sure if there really was a guy out there who could make me feel like we were a true team.  Then Cortney and I found ourselves together.

I guess our secret is our teamwork.

There are other factors like that we are true friends, we have our own interests as well as shared interests, etc, but the big thing is teamwork.

And most of the time it’s as awesome as we make it look on social media.

Anyway, I am writing about that teamwork over at Mommy Miracles today. I’d be honored if you would give it a read.

Off He Goes

Dear Eddie,

When you were  a tiny baby some of the best advice I was given was by your pediatrician. She said, “You can’t make a baby eat or sleep, and you can’t make a toddler potty train until he’s ready. Let him take the lead.”

I’ll admit it’s hard for me to let someone else take the lead. I like to be in charge. When we had you, we were no longer in charge…the little charge we thought we had. You ruled our days and nights. You chose when you would hit your milestones.

You cried and wouldn’t sleep.

You cried and cried and cried.

But when you were ready to sleep, you did.

You decided.

IMG_1256

You still require one of us to lay by you each night after we read with you. You say you an’t sleep without us there so you can feel safe. I’ll take that because I know that one day, you will tell me I can go upstairs. That you’re “good”.

But sleeping in a big boy bed took zero transition.  We brought home a mattress before Grandpa even had your bed made and you requested to take your nap there.  You never went back to your crib again.

You decided.

005

It was the same way with your pacifier.

You held onto that thing even when it had holes in it and we refused to buy you new ones.  Then, your friend Evan told you about the paci fairy and you started to think that getting a big boy present in return for turning in your “pipey” was a good thing.

You decided.

2013-01-19 13.15.24

Then came potty training.

We thought for sure we could get you potty trained before Charlie arrived.  You showed interest right after you turned two, and you were doing your number 2′s on the toilet almost exclusively.  Then Charlie came and you stopped caring about underpants or sticker charts or anything.

Until Althea showed up to daycare in big girl panties.  And she is a full year younger than you are. You looked right at Renae and declared yourself done with diapers.

And that was that.

You decided.

2013-05-09 18.31.45

Now you are five. You’ve been riding a bike since you were two. Your grandma bought you a tiny one from a garage sale (ok, the garage sale we were hosting), and you hopped on and took to it like a fish in water.

033

For your fourth birthday, we had to upgrade because  your legs grew about a mile from age three to age four.

In fact, we felt bad that you had to wait until almost the end of June because you were really just way too big for your old pal.

033This bike is a much better fit.

In fact, this bike quite easily takes you from our house up the hill to Kaydance and Carter’s house and back again.  It has taken you around the block with us as well.

You love your yellow bike.

2014-04-07 10.04.19

Early this summer, daddy asked you if you wanted to take your training wheels off.  You were a bit scared, but he helped you balance and learn to ride just through the grass.

But riding on the street seemed a little too scary. So daddy raised the wheels as far as they would go, and you kept riding. You weren’t even five yet, so we figured you would do it when you were ready, just like everything else.

Then one day, you came screaming down the hill at top speed on Carter’s bike.

Carter who is a whole year younger than you had his training wheels taken off a month ago.

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Carter came behind on your bike.

Out of breath, you ran up to daddy, “DID YOU SEE ME? NO TRAINING WHEELS!  Can you take mine off too?”

And then off you went.

You decided.

Daddy took them off, gave you a few quick reminders about safety, and off you went. I felt like I blinked and you went from a mushy baby to a kid riding a two-wheeler with the neighbor kids.

I stood there for a second watching you peddle off wondering how it all happened. Didn’t I get some sort of say about when you were ready for things? Isn’t that what part of parenting is?

You are teaching me so much about this parenting gig, Eddie.

You will do things on your own time, when you are ready, and I will always be there to cheer for you.

Love,

Mom

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

Recently I was interviewed by Working Motherhood and my podcast is now live!  Go give me a listen!

Orange is the New Black

I’m not sure if you noticed, but there is always a story as to how I came to reading each book that I decide on. I had Orange is the New Black on my To Read List for some time, and because I am a book nerd, I wanted to read the book before I started watching the series on Netflix.

Then I found out I get to meet Piper Kerman this summer when I go to San Jose for BlogHer.  Let’s just say the book moved right up my To Read list onto my READING list!

Continue Reading…

My Other Ex

When I was a kid, I used to lie on my bed on Sunday afternoons and plow through one, maybe two books in an afternoon. Once I had read all the craptacular YA lit that our local library had to offer back in the late 80′s, my mom started bringing home Agatha Christie mysteries for me to read.  I was hooked. Before I even made it to high school I was a voracious reader.

I didn’t do a lot of my own writing back then, but I did fantasize about being a famous author.  Not so much that I would be a celebrity, but that I could think of stories like that.

Well, fiction has never been my thing, but at some point all this writing that I have done on my blog since 2007 started to be something. Something I didn’t know I had in me.

It started to be good.

Maybe I couldn’t make up stories, but I could definitely tell my own.

This year my dream of becoming a published author came true when Three Minus One came out.  In September more of my writing will be published.

I am one of the author’s in the HerStories Project anthology called My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friendships.

The book is due out in September, but you can pre-order here (which also means you’ll get your book early!  WOOT!), and get a $1 off by ordering early. Aw yeah.


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