March Book Shower

March is when Alice is coming (the 6th).  March is Charlie’s third birthday (the 13th).  March is my thirty-seventh birthday (the 27th).  March is also READING MONTH.

March also means my last day of teaching until fall. While it is exciting to think of being done for six months, it also stressful for me getting ready to leave my students–and my classroom library–with someone else for 12 weeks.  Will the sub love and care for my books the way I do?  Will my students continue to be responsible about checking out and returning books without stealing or losing them?

What I know for sure is that I have students who are definitely reading those books. I would say that over 75% of my classes are doing more than required one independent book per marking period, and of the remaining 25% of students, less than 10% are just not reading or doing their required work.

With only 4 days left of work for this year, I would say my biggest success has been Reading Workshop. I have many things I would like to add or adjust for next year, but as my first year trying Reader’s Workshop AND being in a new grade-level and building, I would say it’s been more successful than I could have hoped.

That said, I always, always need more books. So rather than having a baby shower, I was told I should throw a book shower!

If you want to participate in my March Book Shower to celebrate the birth of Alice, mine and Charlie’s birthdays, Reading Month and the success of my first year of Reader’s Workshop just click the imagine below and it will take you to my classroom wishlist.

library

This wishlist has been compiled by my students as they read and request books. There are over 300 titles, so if you click through, you can find something you would love to add to our library.

It would only take a gift of ONE book per blog reader and my students would be able to have the books that will keep them reading!

I would love it if you would share this post with others too! You can either click on the share buttons below, or you can use this when you share via twitter or Facebook:

Join me in throwing @ksluiter a Book Shower in honor of March being Reading month, her new baby girl, and her students’ love of reading! http://wp.me/p1qChn-2yS

It’s about to get crazy in Sluiter Nation…help us celebrate!

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.

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

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 Naming

I often get asked how we came up with our kids’ names. People love a good name story rather than “we just liked it” (which, by the way, I think is a totally legit reason to name your kid something).

When I was pregnant with Eddie, we had some criteria we made for choosing names:

1. It had to be something they would be proud to put on a CEO nameplate or use if they became a famous rock star. So it had to be versatile, yet respectable.

2. We wanted to incorporate family into each child’s name.

3. It needed to be somewhat traditional without a wonky spelling (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but after 15 years in education, and a husband with a “unique” name + a unique spelling of that name, we wanted to go “easy” on our kids).

Edward Steven Sluiter

Cortney had the name Edward all picked out since the very first time I got a positive pregnancy test in early 2007, two years before Eddie was born. Edward was his great grandpa’s name, but Eddie is also the name of the lead singer of Pearl Jam AND the legendary guitarist, Eddie VanHalen. So it was traditional AND rock n roll.

Edward Bear is also Winnie the Pooh’s “real name” (if you have ever read the novel, you would know this).

Eddie’s middle name is Steven, which was Cortney’s dad’s name. Cortney’s dad shared a birthday with great grandpa Edward and they were VERY close.

Eddie was baptized on their birthday, August 9th.

Charles Thomas Sluiter

We had no idea what to name Charlie. We discussed his name right up until we sent the text from the hospital after the ultrasound that he was a boy. I loved the name Charlie. The year before we had seen my school do the musical performance of Willy Wonka and I decided I needed a Charlie since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite kids books.

And as many of you know, we call him Charlie Bird…like Charlie “Bird” Parker, the famous jazz saxophone player.  Which is pretty rock n roll, if you ask me.

Eventually Cortney agreed that Charles/Charlie was the best name for our second son. We chose Thomas as his middle name quickly because it’s my dad’s name and we liked having both grandpas represented in our boys’ names.

Charlie was baptized just a day before my dad’s birthday at the end of April.

Alice Katherine Sluiter

Again this was first a Cortney choice. When I was pregnant with Eddie he told me if we had a girl he loved the name Alice. So did I. Over the six years since that name was first brought up, we have discussed several different middle names, but we always loved Alice as a first name.

Also, Alice in Wonderland! And Alice Cooper! ROCK N ROLL, YO!

We chose Katherine because that is my full name and, again, we wanted to keep the middle name in the family.  If all goes well, Alice will be baptized two days after my birthday at the end of March.

So tell me…are there stories behind the names of your children?

Wild Sluiters

Kratt-mania has taken over Sluiter Nation.

The Sluiter brothers are enamored with the Kratt brothers.

It started out innocently enough: Wild Kratts came on after Word Girl on PBS after school while I was making dinner. It was the last “kids’ programming” show of our day before the TV went off or we turned it to the news.

Then I started to notice that the show wasn’t just on, the boys–BOTH of them–were actually watching it. You moms know what I mean here. Lots of times the TV will be on and the boys are only half-watching while they drive each other crazy play with other toys. But the second the theme song comes on, the boys stop what they are doing to watch the animals.

The Kratt brothers keep things exciting and fast-paced so even Charlie gets hooked.

Then we got Netflix. Did you know Wild Kratts is on Netflix?  They are. And Eddie has watched all the episodes so many times he can tell you which ones are “old” and which ones are “new” just based on the way they are drawn.

The Sluiter brothers heart the Kratt Brothers.

I probably don’t have to even explain their reaction when the Kratt brothers sent them plush figures and action toys to play with.

I’ll just say there was jumping up and down and then fighting over who got Chris and who got Martin and who got to play with which creature power.

The boys are already asking for more of the figures and the createrra set. I didn’t show them, but there is also there is also a power suit assortment set. We might have to get that for them for Christmas this year (available at Toys R Us).

We also have the first ever Wild Kratts book, Wild Sea Creatures: Sharks, Whales, and Dolphins! Eddie and I have read it together more than half a dozen times. We are hoping they come out with more in the series, because he wants to get one about bears and lions.

Ok, so I have to know…do your kids watch Wild Kratts? What do they love about it?

Note: This post should have pictures, but my blog is not fully recovered from its case of death. I will add pictures when I can because they are cute.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I was not compensated for my time or writing. My boys were sent the plush Chris and Martin Kratt dolls, the action figure sets, and book to enjoy. All opinions are our own.

Feels Like the First Time

When we found out that Charlie was a boy, my very first thought was, Oh thank you, God! 

My very next thought was, Aw jeah. A boy. Not my first rodeo. I can DO this I can be a boy mom!

Side note: I’ve heard wonderful things about raising daughters. I am not knocking daughters. Shoot, I AM a daughter. But, as someone who thrives on predictability and knowing what to expect, hearing the word “boy” was like God saying, “See? No more surprises.”

No more surprises.

I had my fair share of surprises before Charlie, didn’t I? My first pregnancy was a surprise. Two miscarriages were a surprise. Everything about my labor and delivery with Eddie was a surprise. Shoot, that was such a surprise it left me with a lovely case of PTSD.

Eddie is a dang surprise every day–both in all the good ways and some of the side-eye ways.

So another boy. I can do this. No surprises.

And then God fell off his chair laughing at me.  For the millionth time in my life, probably.

Yes, Charlie is a boy. Other than that, almost nothing has been the same as his older brother. From his birth, I kept waiting for Charlie to become colicky, have digestive issues, not sleep, but that never happened. He was–dare I say it–easy as a baby. He ate and slept and pooped. If he cried it was because he was hungry, tired, or poopy.  Ok, he didn’t even cry when he was poopy. He was even content to sit in his own dump.

Charlie was a laid back baby and trouble-maker toddler.

I haz it dat bowl peez?

I haz it dat bowl peez?

He is a charmer and knows that his big blue eyes and tiny polite voice can twist many a person around his little finger.

“peez I have it dat juice?”

“peez I have it dat cookie?

“peez I have it dessert?”

The last one he said through big crocodile tears just the other night after we told him no, because he didn’t even try his pork. Cortney was sitting next time him and set the ONE bite he needed to take in front of him and said, “If you want dessert, you need to take this one bite.” Charlie proceeded to yell, “NO!” in his tantrumy two-year old voice, cry and then look at me with two tears strategically placed under each eye, just about to drop. He turned his little mouth into a sad pouty frown, made his eyes huge, put his little hand out to me and whimpered, “I haz it peez, dessert?”

I so badly wanted to give him the damn dessert.

But Cortney held firm.

Eddie is my rule follower. You bet he ate the required dinner for the elusive, not-every-day dessert treat (not without massive whining, but he’s almost five, so you know). Charlie threw that tantrum just as far as it would go until he realized his daddy was NOT going to budge.

In fact, Charlie can be so stubborn, the very next night he ate zero dinner other than a couple raspberries and when asked if he wanted dessert he said, “NO!”

While his fits are loud and tearful, they are quick. If you just avoid saying, “no” to him, you can avoid the major meltdowns.

Yeah, about that.

“No” tends to be a dare for Charlie.

“Charlie, no no. Don’t stand on the couch.”

He will look at me as if I am making the world’s silliest request and say, “yes, mommy.”  As in, “duh, you stupid lady.”

He will fling himself off furniture. He will tumble down cement steps. He will fall backward off toys. He will jump…on and off anything. And then he will laugh his deep chuckly belly laugh.

He will see Eddie sitting nicely watching TV and tackle him. He will spy Eddie watching something on the tablet and stick his face in front of him. He will see Eddie playing with something and snatch it.

He is the button pusher, and Eddie is the button.

But he is a ball of love. He likes to sit on laps and hold hands and rub my arm and snuggle into my neck. He likes me to sing to him and rock him at bedtime. He likes to hold my face and push his to mine: nose to nose. He likes to whisper, “I yuv you, momma.”

His fine motor skills are ridiculous for a kid of his age.

I watch a lot of kids play with toys however they want, but Charlie likes to figure out how to play with them the way they are made to be played with, if that makes sense. He can manipulate twisting small parts and fitting puzzles together.

And he wants to be helpful. If I need him to come in the house, just saying “it’s time to come in,” will result in a meltdown. If I say, “Charlie, I need your help!” He will come RUNNING.

always fixing things for mommy.

always fixing things for mommy.

 

He says all the words and just 2 years and 3 month.

“I yuv you, mommy, daddy, Eddie,” unprompted, is probably my favorite. He listens and repeats absolutely everything and Cortney and I find ourselves cracking up and not at all keeping up with all his new words and phrases each day.

I want to find a way to bottle his tiny voice and keep it forever. I want to hear “bye bye mommy. I yuv you. have gate day!” every day for as long as I live.

I love the way he sees Cortney’s car in the garage as we pull in after daycare and announces, “YAY! Daddy home! Yay!”

I even love the way he laughs at me when I ask him if he is my boy, “nooo! Nae’s boy!” (Renae, his daycare mom. He might have her wrapped tightly around his finger. He truly is her boy.)

Every day he pulls another stunt, defies us in a new way, and laughs with abandon at something I didn’t know he was paying attention to, I think, “Man. This is NOTHING like the first time around. In many ways, THIS feels like the first time too!”

Because of course it does.

This is the first time I am Charlie’s mom.

always mommy's boy.

always mommy’s boy.

Always There

This weekend while digging through my purse for some aspirin for a teenager with a headache, I pulled a pipey (pacifier) out of my purse.

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We both laughed when she said to me, “I guess you can’t put being a mom on hold even for a couple days, huh Mrs Sluiter?”

I realized what she said was incredibly true; I am never really apart from my boys.

When we were in Chicago with just Eddie, each of us commented numerous times about things Charlie would like. Eddie even pointed out the fourth seat in all the restaurants adding, “if Charlie was here, that is where he would sit.”

On this trip, I caught myself smiling at things that Cortney would have commented on with an inside joke or one of his dry, witty comments. I saw places I wanted us to go to together.

I thought often of Eddie and how he would have either loved everything about the Rain Forest Cafe or he would have been terrified by all the loud noises. I imagined him seeing Navy Pier and going to the Children’s Museum and loving the BIG BOATS in the bay.

I smiled when I saw the stuffed lions at the Rain Forest Cafe and how Charlie’s immediate reaction would have been to ROAR at them. I said words the way my boys do, even though nobody really “got it” but me.

Before falling asleep I put a pillow on the side of the bed where Cortney would have been so I could roll over and put my butt on it the way I back up to him (he hates it, calls me a bed hog). I also imagined holding his hand as I fell asleep so I wouldn’t feel lonely in that bed alone.

When I woke the next morning my first thought was my three boys back home, and as if they knew that, a text came through with a picture from Cortney of the two little guys smiling over their breakfast plates with a “Good morning, Momma!” caption.

I had so much fun on the trip. While I wouldn’t call it relaxing because we were so busy, teenagers are less needy than little ones, so other than handing out aspirin from time to time, there wasn’t much “mothering” I had to do.  It was a break.

But I was so glad to get home to my favorite three dudes in the whole world.

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And I know they were happy to see me too…even if it was just for the stuffed animals and sombreros I brought home for them.

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

You all have overwhelmed me with your gracious kindness that you are showing to me and my students. All the book donations that have come in so far have bumped my sad little classroom library from only 104 books to almost 320!! If you want to take a look at my wish list, you can find it here.

Also at the tail end of last week I found out that an article I co-authored will be published in the Language Arts Journal of Michigan.

And if those things weren’t awesome enough, I found yesterday (Monday) that I have been chosen as one of BlogHer’s 2014 Voices of the Year.

The good is very good.

Sometimes It’s Hard

I enjoy writing about the sweet moments of motherhood: the funny things Eddie says, the innocent questions, Charlie’s belly laugh and fearless nature.

But sometimes it’s not sweet.

Sometimes this motherhood thing sort of sucks, if I am being honest.

It’s an unpredictable, patience-trying grind of hard.

It’s Charlie’s refusal to listen when we say “no” or his adamant nonacceptance of sitting in timeout when he has made an egregious error like hitting his brother, slapping me, or throwing toy tubs at people.

It’s Eddie incessant whining when we say no to tablet time or candy or more chocolate milk.

It’s sassy mouths and scream-crying at bedtime.

It’s lollygagging and stalling when we are in a hurry.

It’s ignored requests and disobedience.

It’s 10 minutes of fighting after 10 seconds of playing nicely.

It’s all the water that ends up out of the tub and onto the floor, walls, toilet, and me.

It’s the high-pitched scream of “MINE!” from Charlie.

It’s Eddie’s long-drawn out “CHAAAAARRRLIE!” when his brother does so much as breathe wrong.

It’s the way Charlie planks his whole body when I try to buckle him into his car seat after daycare…and a long day of work.

It’s the way Eddie thrashes his whole body when he doesn’t get his way.

And then…

boys3

Contrary to what some mothers will say, these sweet moments do NOT make it “all better” for me. They don’t wipe out the headache or the wound up feeling in my tummy. But they do soften the blow.

As much as this motherhood thing is lovely and miraculous and more love than I thought my heart could ever handle, it is really hard sometimes.

And sometimes I just need to admit that.

Because He is Two

I love birthdays.  LOVE THEM. I feel like the entire world is supposed to make sure everything is just a little more awesome for you on your birthday.

So when Charlie woke up on Thursday as a two-year-old, I burst into his room with a “HAPPY BIRTH–”

He stood smiling in his crib with his balled up jammy pants in one hand, and a very wet diaper in the other.

“I poot,” he announced, and yes, I could smell it.

My heart raced, but there was no “poot” in his crib…just a crumb of one in his diaper.

“Where? where did you poot, Charlie?”

“I POOT!”

Thankfully Cortney had the wherewithal to take the nekkid booty baby and put a clean diaper on him while I searched. I left the room, came back, could still smell it, and searched some more.

It was under the rocking chair.

Across the room from his bed.

Thus started The Bird’s Second birthday.  We should have all agreed that was the highlight of the day and quit trying. But birthdays are AWESOME! It can only go up from here!  Onward and upward!

I forgot about a birthday treat for daycare.

It’s ok! Tomorrow!  Tomorrow he can bring one!

Off he went to daycare, in his new “2” shirt.

The plan was that I would pick up a small birthday cake and meet Cort with the boys home by 5pm to head to Red Robin (YUM!) for birthday dinner. We always do birthday dinner at a restaurant, and long ago Eddie decided ALL birthday dinners take place at Red Robin (YUM!).

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The downfall of the evening was chocolate milk coupled with Charlie’s deep disdain of getting out of routine. By going out to eat rather than home, and then by not allowing him to get more chocolate milk (because he was wearing half of the first glass), created an evil vortex of toddler rage that began at the table and forced me into the ladies room with him so the rest of the patrons could eat their Red Robin (YUM!) tantrum-free.

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When he calmed down and I asked him if he wanted to go back to the table he declared, “no! I walk here.”

Dude wanted to stay in the bathroom and play.

Um. no.

I talked him into going back to the table only to arrive and have Eddie tell me with concern that he had to use the restroom. For the third time.

So I took him back to the ladies room, got him in a stall to do his business, and held his door shut.

In a small voice he explained he was having a hard time going with his boots and pants on because it was hard to balance, so I helped the little guy remove the constricting clothing and carry on with his business.

This is when I took the opportunity to peek out of the bathroom at our table. Charlie had become an anger ball again, and I could see Cortney didn’t know what to do since he couldn’t leave the table.  I leaned out of the bathroom and gestured to let Charlie just come to the bathroom since I know that is what he wanted.  I told Cort to just pay the bill, box up the food, and grab our stuff.

So there I was, in the ladies room (thank all the goodness that no one came into the restroom during all this), with a half nekkid boy on the can and a toddler running around slamming stall doors. It felt like it took our waitress and Cortney an eternity to get the bill squared away, but eventually he came walking to the restroom with our coats.

Eddie was sad because he had really been very good and he was looking forward to the staff singing to Charlie, and Charlie was raging because he is two.  He tried to plank himself when we got in the car for no other reason than he could, which prompted him to cry LOUDLY the entire way home.

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Cake seemed to cheer him up.

And eating the cake. Although we went through the “do you want cake?”
“NO!”
“No cake?”
“NO!”
“Ok…”
cue all the tears because we aren’t serving him cake.
“Do you want cake?”
“yesh peeese.”
Sigh.

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Then there was some more drama about getting cleaned up to open the gift.

And more madness when big brother wanted to help “too much”.

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Once the gift was open and put together and everyone had jammies on…there was fighting over the new toy.

So we put it away, turned on Curious George, calmed down, and went to bed.

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The day was…trying.

Charlie is now two and very two.

We had a party for him with just family on Saturday which went a bit better, but Charlie’s strong-will and headstrong ways increase each day.

Because he is two.

Charlies Second Birthday

 

Happy Second Birthday, Charlie.

We love you!

 

 

 

 

 

and then you were two

Charlie

Planned and prepped
smooth
peaceful
arrival.

Jokes and laughter
Given to Fly
calm
birth.

Silent and feathery
tranquil sleep
soft
snuggles.

Cries for food
quiet
sighs
days.

Rolling and crawling
observing
so
serious.

Watching and waiting
learning
processing
growing.

Suddenly and surprisingly
awkward
tumbling
skill-building.

Quiet and reserved
to
brave
boisterous.

Testing and side-eyeing
nooooooo
scowls
boundaries.

Jumping and running
loud
naughty
sweet.

Silly and giggly
expressions
words
personality.

Slowly and rapidly
changing
developing
Two.

2014-03-10 18.24.02

Happy second birthday to my Charlie Bird.

Words seem small compared to your big personality and giant spot in my heart.

I love you, Birdie.

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

When Eddie turned two, I wrote him a poem as well. So it’s a thing now.

A Hairy Timeline

Cortney has been telling me for about a year that Charlie needed a haircut. I brushed it off until he made me a deal that he wouldn’t insist on a haircut if I agree that one will need to happen around Charlie’s second birthday (Eddie’s haircut was when he was two. Granted he was bald until he was almost one, but still).

Yesterday (Monday) was haircut day.

I have been thinking about it way WAY more than I should.

It’s just hair after all, right?

Before I was a mom I just didn’t get what the fuss was about baby’s first haircut. It’s JUST HAIR.

I regretfully take back all my know-it-all-ness.

And give you Charlie’s Hairy Timeline….

Charlie was born with what appeared to be pre-styled senator hair. Dapper little Bird.

Charlie was born with what appeared to be pre-styled senator hair. Dapper little Bird. My nephew said it was as soft as feathers.

By a month, the brown feathers have started to thin.

By a month, the brown feathers have started to thin.

 

Around six months he was back the style. My mom swore I was cutting it to the perfect style on the sly. I was not.

Around six months he was back the style. My mom swore I was cutting it to the perfect style on the sly. I was not.

By age one we were saying the first hints of "shaggy hair"

By age one we were saying the first hints of “shaggy hair”

 

Around 15 months we started realizing he also had the curl gene just like Eddie and Cortney.

Around 15 months we started realizing he also had the curl gene just like Eddie and Cortney.

Only six months ago I had to start trimming his bangs to keep them out of his eyes.

Only six months ago I had to start trimming his bangs to keep them out of his eyes.

 

Just before Christmas people started to comment that it was getting a bit long. So naturally I fell in love with it.

Just before Christmas people started to comment that it was getting a bit long. So naturally I fell in love with it.

Just a month ago.

Just a month ago.

 

Last week Thursday.

Last week Thursday.

waiting for cousin Rachel to finish cutting Eddie's hair so he can go next.

waiting for cousin Rachel to finish cutting Eddie’s hair so he can go next.

 

The last shot of the curls before they are cut off.

The last shot of the curls before they are cut off.

He did so well, though he seemed concerned the entire time.

He did so well, though he seemed concerned the entire time.

 

Haircuts = no smiles. It's serious  business.

Haircuts = no smiles. It’s serious business.

Hey ladies, I've got my first haircut. How you like me now?

Hey ladies, I’ve got my first haircut. How you like me now?

 

The curls are gone.

The curls are gone.

I am…not Ok yet.

But I will be.

For whatever reason the first haircut is the hardest.

I already told Cortney if there is a hint of curl after we wash it, you know I won’t be getting it cut for another six months…at least. Because I already miss burying my nose in those soft curls.

Especially because his hair smelled like cheese tonight after dinner.

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