Pearl Jam at Wrigley Take Two

Three years ago, in 103 degree heat, while rocking a UTI, and then being evacuated for three hours due to a wicked lightning storm and high winds, Cortney and I saw Pearl Jam at Wrigley. It was epic for a number of reasons. Clearly. In fact it took THREE blog posts to write all about it.

Things went much more smoothly this year, but not at first.

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We were about an hour or so into our drive in pretty stormy weather (my weather app told me Chicago would be done with rain that night for the show, but we would have to drive through some gnarly stuff), when my phone blew up with tornado warnings. Um. Apparently there was a tornado sighted just east of where we were driving. Since the weather was moving quickly to the east, we decided to stay on the road and keep driving (sorry, mom!). Then I checked Facebook and saw that my parents’ (who had the kids) were also under tornado warning, so I texted my mom to make sure everyone was in the basement.

Everything ended up fine; no one was swept away in a tornado, and in the end we had one of the quickest trips into Chicago we have ever had despite the severe weather.

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We got to our hotel right at 3pm for check in and then headed to the closest train station to get our tickets so we wouldn’t get stuck in the mad rush before and after the show. Then we decided that since we skipped lunch and it was close to 4:30pm our time (3:30 local), we would grab burgers at the Weber Grill.

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After dinner we were super full and had some time, so we headed up to the room to refresh from the drive and get ready to head out to the show. When we left the hotel for the train, the sun was shining and we were super excited.

As soon as the train came out into the open, it was pouring rain. Thankfully, it only last a minute and by the time we found our way to the Will Call line, it had passed. Good thing because it took almost an hour in line at Will Call to get our dang tickets.  Longest line EVER.

But it meant there was lots of time to people watch. Before we got there, my brother and his friend saw the drummer, Matt Cameron, walking around with his little kid. We were not that lucky, but I did see a LOT of beards and undercuts.

I also listened to a bunch of conversations because, well, it was crowded and everyone was very close. Lots of talk about the last time PJ played Wrigley and we were all evacuated for 3 hours due to the storm. Most of those stories had a lot of “dude!” in them.

The couple behind us made me realize how long we have been journeying to these shows. The guy was on the phone with what I assume was one of his parents. I heard snippets of “when you get there she will probably have to go pee pee or maybe some poops” and “at bedtime just read her a book and sing her a song. You can just make it up, but put her name in it. She will probably go to bed then, but if she says no, just say, ‘one more song and then you have to go to sleep’ and that will usually work.”

I chuckled to myself as I calculated that it had been eighteen years since my first PJ show (Alpine Valley, WI in 1998), and those were NOT the conversations I was hearing back then. At all.

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One in we quickly found our way to the field where we had 4th row tickets (think right field) behind the general admission people. So, excellent seats, basically. This friends, is why Cortney keeps his fan club membership current. It pays off awesomely for shows.

My brother and sister-in-law were also there and we found them before the show. My brother, Chris (the older of my two younger brothers), was with me when we both saw our first PJ show. Again, eighteen years ago. We both confirmed that at 38 and almost 36 we were too old for general admission tickets and needed a seat for our aging booties.

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They also had 4th row seats, but in left field. After the show we met them back at the Weber Grill (because it’s attached to our hotel) for drinks and snacks. It was fun to be able to have a little adult time with them since between us we have six kids.

The show started shortly after 8pm and went until just after 11pm.

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The last time we were here, there was the most blown out couple of all time in front of us. This year we got The Pearl Jam Mega Fan. He remembered to pack not just his air guitar, but also his air drum set and air keyboards. He had a Tommy Boy hair cut and jumped around like House of Pain was giving him direct orders. You better know his favorite songs were the old ones from Ten that have been played to death on the radio. Dude almost lost his mind when they played “Alive.”

We were entertained.

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I absolutely loved the show. Loved it. They opened with “Low Light” (after the opening chords of “Baba O’Reily”) which is one of my faves and then went into “Release”. I admit to crying. That song has always been a powerful reminder to me of how hard I fight my depression and anxiety disorders.

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in the lower left corner you an see PJ Mega Fan jammin’ out.

This is the whole set list:

  1. “Low Light”
  2. “Release”
  3. “Rain” (Beatles cover)
  4. “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”
  5. “Do The Evolution”
  6. “Last Exit”
  7. “Lightning Bolt”
  8. “Sad”
  9. “Amongst The Waves”
  10. “Evenflow”
  11. “Light Years” (Dedicated to Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip)
  12. “I Got Id”
  13. “Mind Your Manners”
  14. “Unthought Known”
  15. “Masters of War” (Bob Dylan cover)
  16. “I Am A Patriot” (Little Steven cover)
  17. “Daughter” (with the “W.M.A. tag at the end)
  18. “Jeremy”
  19. “Betterman” (with the “Save it For Later” tag at the end)

Encore #1

  1. “Bee Girl”
  2. “Just Breathe” (had a couple on the stage: Amy and Kyle. Kyle is a serviceman and Amy surprised him with tickets, so Eddie Vedder had them on stage. Kyle proposed during the song to Amy. ADORABLE)
  3. “I Believe in Miracles” (Ramones cover)
  4. “Let Me Sleep”
  5. “Inside Job”
  6. “Comfortably Numb” (Pink Floyd cover)
  7. “Interstellar Overdrive” (Pink Floyd cover)
  8. “Corduroy”
  9. “Porch”

Encore #2

  1. “Go”
  2. “Black”
  3. “Surrender” (Cheap Trick cover)

Encore #3

  1. “All the Way”
  2. “Baba O’Riley” (The Who cover)

Cortney made the statement–I don’t think it was a complaint, but maybe a little?–that the show was “cover heavy”. That is true, they did eight covers (9 if you count the started the show with the opening of “Baba O’Riley too). He also mentioned it seemed “slow” compared to three years ago when he felt his face had been melted by the sheer rock n roll of it all.

I didn’t feel my face was melted, but I definitely enjoyed this show, maybe even more than last time because I wasn’t dying of heat, drenched from rain, or exhausted because it was almost 3am.

I would have liked to hear “Future Days” rather than “Just Breathe” and it would have been nice to get a few songs of No Code. They only played two songs off their latest album, Lightning Bolt, which I thought was surprising. More songs than I would have liked from Ten, but what can you do? People like the old stuff, I guess.

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I couldn’t help but think about how Eddie Vedder used to hang from the lighting equipment during “Porch” and he even reminisced about where the song “Bee Girl” came from  talking about how he used to worry about the boy from the “Jeremy” video who was only twelve at the time it came out. Lots has changed now that the band members are all around fifty instead of thirty.

And we fans aren’t teenagers anymore and have our own kids. In fact, they play another show at Wrigley tonight and my brother is bringing his eleven-year-old son with him.

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But man, Pearl Jam can still fill the stadiums. The place was PACKED. And even though there were definitely some “interesting” people there, Pearl Jam fans are still, for the most part, super cool. People are kind and helpful and fun. They are devoted too! We met a couple in our hotel who was there from Florida!

If seeing Pearl Jam wasn’t awesome enough, the next morning we got to have brunch with my best friend and her husband and son who live in Chicago.

I went home a very VERY happy girl. It was the perfect way to kick off my last week of summer vacation before heading back to school for the year.

Thank you to Cortney for picking me as his date to the show!


Be wary of anyone who tells you that recovery from any type of abdominal surgery will be “a piece of cake”.

A piece of cake is delicious and a totally good time. Abdominal surgery, and the recovery that goes with it, is neither.

My first experience with any sort of abdominal surgery was August of 2005. After less than two months of marriage, I had to rush Cortney to the hospital to have his appendix removed. Emergency surgery like that is frightening anyway, but our circumstances were complicated by the fact that I was rushing Cortney to the ER moments after he said goodbye to his dying dad.

The recovery was complicated by needing to be able to dress up in a shirt and tie, walk up a church aisle, and read scripture at his dad’s funeral three days after surgery.

My first abdominal surgery was an emergency C-section. That recovery was complicated by postpartum depression. As was my second C-section.

The recovery from my third C-section was simpler, but I would not classify it as “cake”. It still hurt. I still had frustrations and setbacks.

Hernia surgery was, by all accounts, the easiest abdominal surgery yet. The recovery was not what I expected, although it has been textbook. I wanted to be back to normal in days. I wanted to be back doing what I do with no lingering pain or other inconveniences.

But that is not how recovery generally works, is it? Recovery is usually at least a little hard. Because as soon as the initial numbness wears off, we have great pain. And that great pain can be controlled, but it’s not gone right away. Things are not “normal” just because we take some meds.

Other people are generally affected when we need to recover too. It’s obvious that when Cortney had his surgery, I took over household chores, and he took over pretty much all of life when I had all my surgeries. Once we had kids even more people rearranged their lives to help us out: people to care for our kids, help out at work, bring us meals.

And in all cases, once recovery is declared over, there are scars left to show what we went through. I have a long scar on my lower abdomen: the exit route of all three of our children. And now I have a little frowny face over my belly button (or as Charlie calls it, “a button rainbow”).

Recovery has been on my mind lately not just because of my own recent surgery, but also in terms of recovering from a pain that isn’t necessarily physical, but emotional. Which brings me back to Cortney’s abdominal surgery: his appendix.

We had been married just under two months and just left his dad and stepmom’s house where his dad lay prone on a Hospice bed, unresponsive, barely breathing, dying of lung cancer. We weren’t even out of the subdivision when I got the text that he had passed, but we couldn’t go back because Cortney was having an emergency of his own.

Once it was confirmed that he would have an appendectomy, I went to work making phone calls so everyone knew where we were and what was going on. I called my parents to please come sit with me at the hospital. I called my best friend and told her Cortney was having surgery…and that his dad died…and could she please start a phone chain to all our close friends. I ran home and threw some clothes and toiletries into a bag and grabbed my pillow in hopes they would let me stay the night with him (they did).

It was a whirlwind in every sense of the cliche.  We’ve been in recovery ever since.

I don’t think this is the kind of recovery you call call complete, although it does leave scars.

Sometimes, even after almost 18 months, my C-section scar will bother me a little. Sometimes it itches, sometimes there is a twinge. Grief is like that. Each time our children to things that make us think about what their grandfather is missing, our heart hurts where the scar of loss is. Each time I see the dimple in each of their smiles, I think of their dad’s dimple, and then I think of their Papa’s dimple. Each time Cortney has a house project to work on or tells me he is going to ask my dad’s opinion of something, the scar flares up.

I think of him at least once every single day.

Sometimes it’s a fleeting thought or a smile. Sometimes it’s a “what if he was here…” thought. And sometimes it just hurts.

Then I think about how if this is how my “recovery” is going, how much more hurt it must still be for Cortney and his siblings. For Cortney’s stepmom. For his Grandma. For his aunts and uncles.

He was my father-in-law for 57 days. The only photos I have of me with him are from my wedding to his son. How much deeper are the scars of those who had a lifetime with him?

I can’t even imagine.

With time after our surgeries, Cortney and I were finally deemed fine. And now, eleven years after Steve’s death, we are fine.  But the scars don’t go away. The emptiness doesn’t go away. The memories of the hurt don’t go away.

We will always be in recovery.

I love this picture for a thousand reasons, but one of the big ones is that Cortney now looks and acts so much like his dad then. And Charlie now, looks and acts so much like Cortney then.

I love this picture for a thousand reasons, but one of the big ones is that Cortney now looks and acts so much like his dad then. And Charlie now, looks and acts so much like Cortney then.

Spring Break Day 2

I woke up today to Eddie again. This time it was 9:30 and he was saying, “Mom! Dad says he needs you to get up because Charlie just barfed!”

Not really a good start to the day, although I did get to sleep in, so I suppose there is that.

Upon flying out of bed, we both realized Charlie’s throwing up was probably due to a lot of drainage, and not a tummy bug, so while cleaning up the madness was still gross, we at least were pretty sure we weren’t going to be dealing with barf all day.

Once I got Charlie changed into what he called “something warm and comfy”, I used the bathroom and made myself some coffee. Just as I was sitting down, Cortney goes, “Nice. It’s snowing.”


I made the comment that I was sure it wouldn’t stick.

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Then we got like six inches of snow. That stuck.

This is a joke, right?

The day wasn’t all snow and vomit, though.

Charlie painted some dinosaurs he got for his birthday. He was ridiculously excited and focused. That was a peaceful ten minutes.

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I spent a good two hours in the boys’ closet pulling out all the clothes that are too small for Charlie to be divided between two of my baby nephews. I had mixed feelings as I pulled out clothes that both of my little dudes wore. I smiled as I folded them and tucked them into bags for two little guys who won’t fit into these clothes for another year at least. I was a little sad to send more little man clothes out of my life. I’ve said it before: I do not want anymore babies coming out of my body, but man. I sure do miss tiny little dudes.

Allegedly I hugged some of the jammies and sniffed the Dreft smell on them before placing them in the bags.

When I was done, though, there were two tubs gone from their closet (which is still a wreck and on my To Do list for later in spring break, but I can’t get rid of toys with them home. ahem.)

We also packed up the jump-a-roo today to give to my baby nephew, Max. Closing some baby doors today, man.

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Cortney got groceries today while I fell asleep on the couch during the Little Kids’ nap time. Eddie watched something dumb on Netflix. After nap, Eddie invited Alice to play blocks with him.

I can’t even begin to describe how much I love watching her big brothers play with her. They play so differently with her than they do with each other. They are so protective and so intent on trying to make her laugh and smile. Yes, they get frustrated when she tries to play with their stuff uninvited, but if it’s her toys, they are all about her.

And she looks at them like they are miracle workers. Like they are the ones who hung the moon and placed the stars in the heavens.

Of course ten minutes after Charlie got up from nap (yes, he still naps for about two hours every day. He is four. My kids need sleep), it was loud up in here. It was the witching hour and by the time they went to bed an hour ago, Cortney and I thought our patience was going to pack its bags and get out.


I know they say “the days are long, but the years are short.” Today was one of those long days.

I did finish reading my book last night, though. So I started Far From Home by Na’ima Roberts. It’s the last of six my students will choose from to read for book clubs after break. I’ll post about all six when I am done with this one!

Tomorrow is Sunday…and my birthday party at my parents’ house! Yay!

(and I still have to finish my birthday post with all the books that were donated!  We passed my goal of 38 and hit 42!)

Uncommon Goods for an Uncommon Guy

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This week we celebrated Cortney’s 37th birthday. I have mentioned before that my love language is the giving and receiving of gifts.  I do love to get presents, but I truly love to give them as well. In a perfect world, I would have unlimited funds at my disposal strictly for random purchases for people I love, just to make them smile.

I love birthday and Christmas lists as much as the next guy, but what I really love is seeing something that makes me think of a friend or family member and knowing they have to have it.

And then I married a guy who is impossible to shop for.

Ok, that is not true. He is not impossible to shop for; it’s extremely hard to find something that elicits any sort of an emotional reaction whatsoever. A smile and a bit of a nod is the best I’ve gotten. In fact, this guy is so hard to excite with gifts, that if I can get him to smile big enough that his dimples make an appearance, I know I have done good.

Which means every December is a challenge since it’s his birthday AND Christmas. He makes a {relatively lame} wish list that I give out to our moms and siblings, and then I am stuck with nothing but my imagination and Eddie and Charlie telling me “get him a tool or a shirt with a bear on it.”

This year, I did a happy dance when Uncommon Goods contacted me to showcase some of their gift ideas. I have been a long-time fan of theirs because their products are so unique and fit most any budget. In fact, you can check out gifts for under $50 here and for under $25 here.

I also love Uncommon Goods because they contribute to some fantastic Not For Profits: RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), American Forests, Women for Women International, and one very close to my heart Reach Out & Read. In fact, Uncommon Goods has donated over one million dollars over the past fifteen years to charities around the world. I LOVE THAT!

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Cortney is a fan of craft brew beers. A super fan, you might say. In fact, we went out to a local pub for his birthday and someone suggest he get a Backwoods Bastard from Founders and he declined because “I have had it before.” Even though he really loves it. Uncommon Goods had sweet growlers, and I was able to get him a stainless steal copper one.

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Now he can fill up and keep a favorite beer in the fridge, but still try “new to him” ones when we are out. It’s a win!

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I also picked him out a beer cap map of the United States. DO YOU SEE THE DIMPLES!?  I did it! He was surprised AND impressed! It’s a unique gift that is so very right up his alley. He LOVES to hit up the local beer store that has a wide variety of craft brews and pick up a “mixer sixer”. Now he can keep the caps of those he really loved.

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The big question is…will he just put in any that he loves, or will he try to keep each cap near the state it came from? Decisions, decisions!

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Of course, because I had a wee little left to spend and because Uncommon Goods has such awesome stocking stuffers (no really, they are awesome. Go check them out), I got myself a little something too. I had to feed my writer self a bit, you know.

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And since I am a bit obsessed with leaving my words behind, I got this fun journal that has prompts in it that sort of time capsule who I am and what my life is like.

I absolutely love Uncommon Goods. Love them. I am pretty sure they have gifts for absolutely everyone–you can find something special for every taste and hobby and personality. Plus they have a fun blog that I love to check out because it’s full of what they call “Uncommon Knowledge”.

Anyway, thanks to Uncommon Goods, I saw Cortney’s dimple come out for both of his gifts. And then again this weekend when we took him to TripleRoot and they brought him some birthday cookies.

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Because every local brewery gives you cookies for your birthday, right? RIGHT!


Disclaimer: Uncommon Goods provided me with with product and payment for my post, however I was able to choose the product, and then opinions are 100% mine (and Cortney’s). I have been a big fan of Uncommon Goods for gifts for a long time, so I was delighted to be able to work with them to make Cort’s birthday dimple-worthy.

I Choose You


I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but I do believe we were meant to be together in some capacity.

Our children were meant to be.

But that could have happened without 20+ years of friendship and 13+ years of being in love.


God gives us the gift of free choice, and I sure am glad Cortney and I choose each other every day.

We have the bonus of laughter and joy and inappropriateness.

We are blessed with something I will never take for granted–a kind of love that doesn’t happen to everyone.


Happy birthday (a day late) to the only family member I ever got to choose.

I think I made a good choice.

A Father’s Day Letter

Dear Cortney,

Happy Father’s Day, my love!  It’s been six years since you’re first one (and technically that day was two days before you actually became a father, but who’s counting?). Does it feel like six years of being a dad?

When we fell in love, I really didn’t have kids on the brain. I wanted to have a partner who was my best friend, who could laugh easily with me (and at me when appropriate), and who I could feel like a real team with. In fact, I know we both had reservations about ever having kids. We just really loved our life of just the two of us!  We could travel or sit home and no one was setting our schedule except us.

And then we accidentally got pregnant and miscarried.


It was like a ton of bricks, right?

I remember you holding me in the garage after the doctor’s appointment. I remember what you said as I buried my face in your shirt: “Well. I guess we know we want kids now.”

That was over eight years ago.

Remember that day you became a dad?


And then three years later you did it again? This time a little wiser and prepared for a baby that  might just never stop crying?


But then that kid was easy peasy…until he turned two. And you were pretty sure two was a good number, but I talked in you in to JUST ONE MORE…

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And so here we are. We went from “maybe no kids” to “Hey, we have three kids!”

I watched you bounce and pace with a colicky Eddie. I watched you be calm in ways that I just couldn’t be with Charlie. I also saw you yell out of anger and frustration for the first time in my life. Then I saw you fall in love with a daughter.

You are everything I thought you would be as a dad. You love your kids fiercely, but you have high expectations for their manners and accountability. You want to give them wonderful memories, but not a bunch of hand outs. You are firm, but so very cuddly and loving.

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Having kids has brought your silly side front and center. They may frustrate you to no end, but they also make you laugh harder than I have ever seen. Eddie’s random observations, Charlie’s looks, and Alice’s toots all make you chuckle in the best way.

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You have such a special relationship with each of our kids. Eddie is a thinker and builder like you are. Between the two of you, you could spend days with Legos or train sets and mulling over “constructions” for things to build.

Charlie is your communication clone. Both of you hold it in. The difference is you have learned to talk things through and not let things fester. Birdie is still learning. I have no doubts he will learn from you. He is also your helper. He wants a REAL rider lawn mower so he can do the front yard while you do the back.


Your bond with Alice is new, but it shows in your eyes how in love you are with her. Your relationship with her is somehow different than that with the boys. You are softer with her. You call her dainty and tell her she is pretty. And she returns your attention with smiles and coos just for her daddy.

The day we were married you held my hands in front of church and rubbed them with your thumbs. I didn’t think I could fall any more in love with you than that day. My heart was so full.

Yet I fall over and over again watching you father our kids. Watching you be their silly “Dad-do” and their comforting “Daddy.” Being Charlie’s “Dad dad” and Eddie’s “Dad.” Soon you will be Alice’s doting “Da Da.”

Being a dad looks good on you, babe.

I’m happy we made these kids together.

Happy Father’s Day.

‘Twas The Night Before Alice

Dear boys,

Tomorrow is the day. Our world will change and our family will be complete. Tomorrow is Alice’s birthday!

I know we are all excited and even a little nervous. We think we know what to expect and we have planned as much as we can, but we also know in our hearts that there are no guarantees. Things could go awry quickly. There is no reason to expect it, but we just don’t know.  So we go into tomorrow with excitement and hope for a healthy baby and mommy.

But there is more, right? We can only guess at how our life will be different. We don’t know. Will Alice be a happy, content baby or will she have colic like Eddie did? Will she be easy to take out of the house, or will she be needy and fussy? We will find out soon!

I have a lot of emotions tonight as I write this. I look around me and see our life. There are Charlie’s trucks and Eddie’s backpack. I see Daddy’s french press and the tablet charging. Our life is nice and routine. We know how to be a family of four: Mommy, Daddy, Eddie, Charlie. Tomorrow it all changes.

How can life be so normal and yet on the verge of such change?

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Boys, I want you to know how thankful I am for all three of you. I know I’ve complained a LOT during this pregnancy, but you have all been so unbelievably helpful and supportive.


You are my number one. You made me a mom almost six years ago. You have been by my side helping and loving on me through this whole thing.

Many times you have said, “no mom! I will get that. I don’t want you to bend too much!” or “I just want to be helpful so you’re not so tired.”  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to just grab you and squeeze you. How did I get so darn lucky to have a boy so sensitive and giving and kind?

When I have broke down in tears because I feel like a failure of a mom, you have put your hand on my arm and said, “you’re not THAT bad, mom,” and made me laugh. You seemed to always know when I needed a good snuggle, and you never complained that I fell asleep on the weekends during Charlie’s nap leaving you to watch Netflix and play Legos by yourself.

You are a wonderful big brother to Charlie, and I just know you will be everything to Alice too. You already love her so much!  You tell EVERYONE you see that your “very own baby sister will be borned on March 6!”  You told everyone in front of church on Sunday, you’ve told all your Zkids teachers and Mr. F, and you’ve told all your friends. You’ve even told people who you don’t really know!

In the past weeks our conversations about her have increased. You have wondered about her voice and her eyes. You have asked what her laugh will sound like. Eddie, you are amazing.  When I was sick, you worried about your sister being sick too, and admitted that you were afraid she might die in my tummy. That night we prayed together and you asked Jesus to keep your sister and mom safe. I can’t tell you how full you  make my heart, my Eddie Bear.

I promise to still make time for Mommy & Eddie time because our conversations mean so much to me. You made me a mommy and I will never ever take that for granted.

Eddie, you were born to be a Big Brother

Eddie, you were born to be a Big Brother


Oh my sweet little Charlie Bird. You fill my life with exasperation and laughter. You rage fiercely and love even stronger. At a week shy of turning three, you don’t fully understand what is about to happen to our house. Not as much as Eddie understands, anyway. You once told me you don’t like babies because “they get on you.”

However you get very excited to tell people about “Baby Alice!” and how she is coming. You pat my belly and kiss it and say your sister is in there. You have finally given up the nursery as not your room anymore, but that of Baby Alice.

Each time someone gifts us a tiny pink something or other you hug it and say “aw cute!”

Losing the baby status is going to be hard for you, Mr. Charlie Bird. Your love of being small and cute is pretty evident. You use that cuteness whenever you get a chance–although it works better with every other person (your dad included) than it does with me because I’m totally on to you, son.

You are going to love your sister, but also insist we put her down. You will want to give her kisses and then ignore her for your loud trucks. You will make her pretend food and then get angry that she is taking attention off of you. Maybe my predictions will be wrong, but I know you pretty well, my little boy.

But you are quite the lovey bug too. I know once she gets older, you will love on her like you do with Eddie and Dad Dad and me. Floppy newborn will probably not interest you much, but when you first make her laugh, your relationship will change forever. Your love languages are laughter and touch, which makes me think I will have to play defense against your tight hugs and sloppy kisses. But guess what? She will love them. Eddie might be her protector, but you will be her laughter.

Charlie I promise that you will not get shoved to the side. We will make time for Boy Time and Mommy & Charlie time. I will still cuddle with you in the chair before bed and read you stories when you ask.

That smile and that skrunchy nose. Oh Charlie.

That smile and that skrunchy nose. Oh Charlie.


Oh my sweet husband. I don’t know if I have the right words to even begin to tell you how much your love and support has meant to me. Not that this is different than any other area of our relationship, but more times than not I have been reminded how lucky I am to have a partner who is truly my partner. Someone who doesn’t keep score or hold on to hard feelings, but someone who gives everything he is to our team.

You have put up with my complainy, sucks at pregnancy self THREE times and you still love me and want to hug and kiss me every day. That is not too shabby. And I will say to you, WE ARE DONE! As of tomorrow, this is it. No more Pregnant Kate. You get your wife back. You know, sort of. After all that postpartum stuff, that is. But yay! End in sight!

I have spent the past nine months thanking you and apologizing to you over and over. You have picked up so much slack it’s like I wasn’t even here a bunch of the time. I know this burden has weighted on you, but you never say to me, “it’s too much. I just can’t.” Instead, you look at me and say, “it’s what we do. We are a team. You grow the kids. That’s your part.” In fact, just today you thanked me! I asked why and you said, “for growing the humans.”  And I laughed.

That is how we have always gotten through all of this hard stuff: laughter. It must be why our kids have such hilarious senses of humor as well. In all things we find the funny. That is a true gift.

My favorite thing is that through this pregnancy, I have come to re-realize that you are indeed my very best friend in the whole world. I would never want to go through life with anyone other than you.

I hope you know how appreciative I am of everything you do for me and the boys and for Alice. You are going to be the most amazing Dad of a Little Girl. I am sure of it.  You already deal with me and my crazy, what’s one more lady in the house, right?

I promise you that I will keep laughing with you (even when the postpartum hormone rush makes me cry at things like shoes on the wrong feet). I promise to go on dates with you SOON. And I promise to pat your cute butt at inappropriate times, per usual.

Let the weirdness march on!

Let the weirdness march on!

Boys, I am both terrified and thrilled that we are adding a new human to our house of crazy. Sluiter Nation will be more complete when we bring home that pink little bundle.

Just make sure not to run her over with a Tonka truck and I think we will be good.

I love you all so much. Thank you for being the best dudes a lady could ask for.

Now…on to a new adventure!! On to Wonderland with our Alice!


Caught in the Whirlwind

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This guy had a birthday 20 days ago and I feel sort of like a jerkstore for not mentioning it here. December was crazy busy and I clearly haven’t been writing as much as I would like, but that is no excuse. This guy is probably the #1 most important person in my life and I didn’t even mention his turning 36.

Yup, 36. Now he’s my age…until the end of March when I am his Old Lady again (something he would actually never call me because he’s not a butthole).

This year–just like every year–he has been all my cliches: my rock, my safe harbor, my home.

Over and over again he put my needs (and the needs of our kids) before his own wants. He held me when I fell apart. He held my  hand when I was scared. He reminded me that we are a team.

He knows what will truly make me smile.

He knows before I do when I am about to lose it.

He knows pregnancy is very hard on me and does not consider all the extra help he puts in to be “extra”.  He considers it just what you do when you are part of a team.

He holds my hand.

He teared up when he found out he was getting a daughter.

He changes 99% of the poopy diapers without complaint.

He vacuums.

He irons (sometimes).

He asks each of us “what do you need? how can I help?”

He does the heavy-lifting.

He is the most handsome man in the world.

I know he doesn’t always feel appreciated because I am too busy being anxious or mental, but not a day goes by that I don’t say a prayer of thanks for Cortney.

When I asked Eddie what we should get Daddy for his birthday/Christmas he said, “I don’t know,” but when I asked him what types of things daddy likes he said quickly, “Beer, Pearl Jam, and Michigan Football.”

He does a lot for this family and I hope he knows we notice. And love him. In fact, in the eleven years that we have been together, not a day has gone by that he has not made me smile.

Plus he gives the best, most healing hugs ever.

I’m sorry your birthday is always part of the whirlwind of this time of year, babe. I know your day was a happy one though, because Eddie picked you out that Indiana Colts beer glass with specific instructions that ONLY BEER go in the glass.



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”

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.

the unknown dream

In October of 2009,Cortney got laid off from one of the only jobs he had ever had. At the time he had a three-month old baby and a wife who was falling apart mentally.

Those were some dark times for us.

The history of his job is long and complicated, and I’m not really going to go into all that here. But I will say that not having to go to that place anymore was a sort of relief for him emotionally.

Just prior to being laid off, Cortney went back to school for Network Administration (shout out to my computer nerd, yo!). When the lay off occurred we talked about it and decided that no matter what, he needed to stay in school. As it was, he didn’t have any sort of degree and he had to have one to find another job.

That was the start of eighteen long months of unemployment.

Being unemployed was both a blessing and an epic challenge for our family. Looking back, having Cortney home full-time with Eddie for the first year-and-a-half of Eddie’s life was awesome. Christmas break meant we were all home together. Summer vacation had all three of us home. We could take family walks at 10am on a Tuesday if we wanted. My mom took us to the zoo as a family. Even though things were tight, we were able to be together.

Of course, we constantly struggled with how to make ends meet on my pay and Cortney’s unemployment checks, and lived with some harsh judgement from some people who didn’t understand that any job was NOT in fact better than no job. Now that we had Eddie, if Cortney got a job, it would have to be able to pay for daycare and still pay out for it to be worth it to our family.

That is when he made looking for work and getting his degree his full-time job.

Every day when Eddie would nap Cort would hit the books and apply for more jobs.

A year and a half.

I’d like to say we stayed positive the entire time, but that would be a lie. There were many times he felt discouraged and frustrated. There were times when my anxiety hit an all time high. In fact, it was six months into the unemployment that I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety.

But we marched on together as a team of three.

By the grace of God, Cortney and I were never distressed at the same time. If he was down, I would carry him with words of encouragement. If my anxiety surfaced, Cort would remind me that things would work out; we just needed to have some faith.

And three months before Eddie’s second birthday, Cortney found a job. A job he knew. A job he loved.

For about the first year, he tip-toed around waiting for a non-existent “other shoe” to drop. He waited for this job to not be real. He waited…but it just stayed awesome.

No. That’s not true. After about a year working for them, Cort suggested a Craft Brew Lunch on Fridays to go along with the pizza the bosses bought and it became a hit.  So the job actually got AWESOMER.

Exactly a year after he was hired, Charlie joined the family.

This job has been incredibly understanding and flexible when kids get sick or we run into snags with childcare. Cort’s bosses became more than just the guys who called the shots, but guys who he enjoyed working for and with.

Another year went by and there started to be some talk. Talk of a new job. Talk of new opportunities.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord..."

As of December, Cortney (and I, I suppose) became part-owner in start-up company with the guys who were his bosses for the past two and a half years.

The company he was working for did installs of trusses (those are the things that make the roof on a building…in case you didn’t know).  The company Cortney was laid off from four years ago built the trusses.  The company he and these three other guys are starting is another company that builds the trusses.

Have I confused you yet?

Cortney’s official position is Co-Owner and Vice President of Sales and Estimating for his new company.

I am so proud of him.  In the short month that they have been accepting bid requests they have been slammed. This is a good thing. Jobs are coming in to be bid which means there is a lot of interest. Again, yay!

In the almost ten+ years that Cort and I have been together, I have never seen him happier or more content in his job. He is enjoying what he is doing.

Better yet, it’s in his blood. Both of his grandfathers were small business owners, and so are many of his uncles. And so was his dad.

I know his grandpas and dad are slapping each other on the back in Heaven over Cortney’s bravery and accomplishments.

I’ve been asked if this is scary to me, and I can honestly say “no”.  I completely believe in this company, in Cortney’s partners, and mostly in Cortney.

We feel like our dreams might be coming true…in ways we could never imagine.

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