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.


When I was a kid, thirty-five seems SO old.  I mean, my parents were that old.  Now I’m thirty-five (actually I am closer to thirty-six), and today, so is my best guy.


That number is so filled with…something….isn’t it?  It’s definitely an adult age.  We made it to adulthood, that is for sure. It’s strange to think of us as adults.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were in elementary school and I was watching “the puffy-haired kid” walk home from school to the yellow house on the corner from my window on bus #2.

It seems like both yesterday and a hundred years ago that we were in high school and I plopped down next to you on a school bus headed for Michigan Adventure.  Or that you and Mat were sneaking off to do a 7-11 run without the rest of us. Or that we were loading all of us into someone’s car to head out for a day/evening of Pearl Jam concert bootleg hunting.

It seems like another lifetime ago that we were both at WMU tailgating with the Busschers before home football games and having late night chats on the steps of my dorm. Or throwing darts at Waldo’s. Or playing euchre and finishing kegs.

Didn’t we just turn twenty-one? No, that was a million years ago yesterday.

Weren’t we just falling in love at twenty-five? Sheesh, has it been ten years ago already?

We have celebrated ten of your birthdays together. I’m pretty sure the first half of those was much more exciting than the second half at least as far as celebrations go.

Tonight you will pick up the boys so I can pick up your gift from us.  You will love it.

Then we will go to Red Robin Yums for dinner because Eddie insists that is the birthday place…and he will probably eat most of your ice cream. Don’t worry, I made your favorite brownies.  We will sing to you and it will probably be the most awesome thing ever.  not because it’s fancy or sophisticated or debonair, but because Eddie will be so excited and because of that Charlie will be so excited.  And there will be lots of hugs and smiling.

Because you are thirty-five today.

Let’s take a walk down birthday memory lane…

2006: We had been married a year.

2006: We had been married a year.

2007: you were growing your afro out.

2007: you were growing your afro out.

2008: I was pregnant with Eddie...you were turning 30.

2008: I was pregnant with Eddie…you were turning 30.


2009: Eddie was 6 months old and you and Jack started your tradition of celebrating your birthdays together.

2009: Eddie was 6 months old and you and Jack started your tradition of celebrating your birthdays together.


2010: Celebrating with your Eddie Bear

2010: Celebrating with your Eddie Bear

2012: Eddie is two...and Charlie is in my oven.

2011: Eddie is two…and Charlie is in my oven.


2012: we have officially gotten lame about birthdays now that we have two children. Sorry.

2012: we have officially gotten lame about birthdays now that we have two children. Sorry.

Lucky for you we have your yearly birthday brownies…complete with fun-fetti because that is what Eddie picked out.  I am not sure we even have candles this year…not even melted ones.  But on Sunday you will get a yellow cake with chocolate frosting from my parents…just like every year.

And maybe I will remember to take a picture this year.

Seriously, though…being an adult is so weird. I’m beyond thankful I get to do this with you.

Happy birthday, my love.


a {tardy} father’s day letter

Dear Cortney,


Almost four years ago you became a dad.  You were sort of nervous, if I remember correctly.  Although I was sort of preoccupied at the time, so I hope you’ll forgive my lapse in memory.

Listen, I know.  Father’s Day sucks for you.  I has for almost eight years now.

Father’s Day 2005 was the last time you celebrated your dad while he was with us.  We had been married less than 24 hours and it was pretty emotional since we all knew it was his last one.

After we opened our wedding gifts, we celebrated Father’s Day.  I know it was awkward.  Your mom and stepdad were there as were all my siblings and my parents.  Not exactly a nice, intimate way to have your last Father’s Day with your dad.  I’ve always felt bad about that.

The next three Father’s Days were meh.  We celebrated my dad and your stepdad, but there was always something hanging in the air.  Something big and ugly, while at the same time there was something missing.  A big hole.  It was all just…wrong.  Icky.

Then you became a dad.


And you were amazing.

You didn’t always know what to do, but you always did what was best.

But Father’s Day still had a lump of ugly.  I tried, babe.  I really did.  I didn’t want you to forget your dad, but I wanted you to feel celebrated.  I know I failed in lots of ways.  Some of that was because I tried to force conversation about your dad.  Other times I was sick and depressed and your day sucked because my brain sucked.  And sometimes I just wanted too much out of the day.  I wanted more than you wanted.

Of course, you became a daddy all over again last year.


You were much more ready this time.  Much calmer.  You even joked and laughed with the docs and nurses during my surgery.

You still didn’t always know what you were doing, but you did know that it was Ok to not have all the answers.  That everything…and everyone…would be Ok.


Again you were amazing.

I think Father’s Day got better last year.  I am not really sure why–whether it’s because I am in a better place or because time helps us know each other’s needs better or because I just listened better.  I don’t know.


What I do know is this…I wish Father’s Day didn’t have to have that piece of suck stuck to it.  I know that won’t ever go away.  It’s hard to watch you smile through the pain.  I know you LOVE being a dad. I also know the biggest hurt in your heart is that your dad isn’t here to see and experience your being a dad.

I know that today, while you loved having Charlie wake you up, having Eddie and I pull in with Starbucks for you, getting gifts that your sons thought of on their own, and having Eddie yell HAPPY…what day mom? FATHER’S DAY, DADDY!

I know you love that Eddie announced he wanted to get you a Flash T-shirt and even though I told him I didn’t think that they would have that at Target, they did.  And Eddie has said, “I told you, mom” about a thousand times since we bought it on Thursday.

But I also know that every time the boys make you smile, something hurts in your heart at the same damn time.

You have no idea how I wish I could make that go away.

I don’t want you to forget your dad…I want him to be here with you.

I know that is impossible, but I am sick of it being impossible.  I am sick of the one thing that I want to gift you to be out of reach.

I am sick of saying “He sees you. He knows.” And I am sick of you having to nod and be Ok with that even though you will never be Ok with that.


Mostly I am sick of seeing the sadness in the smile.

There should never be sadness in a smile.

I know the sadness will always be there and even though I rage against it because I can’t change it for you…even though I give God stink-eye from time to time, I know too that even though there is sadness, there will also always be the smile.

I strive to make sure there is always a smile in front of the sadness.


Even if that smile is totally forced because our life is crazy…and our kids crazier.

I love you, Cortney.

I hope the boys and I did a good job of making you smile yesterday.


He is Now a Role Model

A couple weeks ago, Cortney made his graduation from college official by participating in commencement. I proudly sat in the super hot field house packed tightly on a folding chair between my sister-in-law (bless her heart sitting there all first-trimestery) and a woman who was not tiny who decided to sit sideways in her seat which means her left thigh/butt cheek was all pressed on my thigh all the while a small boy about Eddie’s age sat backward in his folding chair in front of me swinging his legs and bruising up my shins nicely.

I fanned myself with the program.  You know…the program that had this in it:

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We craned our necks and saw him walk in.  One WOO WOO from Cort’s mom and he knew where we were seated, which meant that later, after all the speakers and honorary what-have-you’s when he was up front waiting to walk across the stage, he and I could exchange big stupid grins from across the huge field house.

Normally, the speeches and everything bore me to death, but I sort of paid attention to the commencement address this time (partly because she polled the audience to see how many people actually remember any of the graduation speeches they have ever heard and I could not raise my hand…which is especially sad not just because I sit through high school graduation every single year, but because some of those speeches? I helped write. Oops).

Anyway, the speech.  Her theme was Everything You Need to Know you Learned at GRCC.  It was cute and quirky and she even interviewed specific students to use their anecdotes. It was nice.

Most of that stuff I don’t remember.

What I do remember is that she told the graduates that they learned to be role models.

She, also a community college grad, related to the graduating class about WHY people choose to go to community college:  some for financial reasons…to get those “gen eds” out of the way on the cheap, but many many are there because of a negative reason: nowhere else would take them.

It brought me back to the night Cort got his honors medal.  Each student awarded was able to say a few words upon acceptance.  One beautiful young girl (young to me, she was probably in her 20’s) took the mic and told us that she had all the staff to thank.  She came to GRCC as a high school dropout who had messed up in every possible way, and now she was graduating with the highest honors the college could bestow upon her.

My eyes teared up.

Cort was not a high school dropout, but he didn’t do his best the first time he did college.  He wasn’t focused, he didn’t know what he wanted out of college, and he was just not ready.  He had been an Ok student in high school, but there you didn’t have to have a focus other than finishing the courses the counselors told you to do.  College was different, and after two years in two different universities, he left for the work world.

Five years ago, he and I sat down to talk about how much he hated his job at the time.  We talked about going back to school.

“For what? Sales? I hate my job,” he lamented.

“If you could get paid to do anything, what would it be?” I asked him (as I have asked innumerable students in the past)

“I don’t know. Computer stuff?”

“There are a million ‘computer stuff’ degrees…and those people make nice money, babe.”

And so off he went.  Full of doubt, but focused.

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In the five years that he was in school, he lost a job and gained a job.

He became a dad.

He lost both grandpas.

He became an uncle.

He gained four new in-laws.

He survived a wife with mood disorders.

He supported his family even when he needed to do homework…and he still got A’s.

He became a role model to many, many people, but mostly to our sons.

One thing our family values is education (in case you didn’t notice).  When we did our “priceless conversation” with our will, we talked extensively about the importance of education.  Of knowledge. Of being a life-long learner.

When I was in 6th grade, my mom decided to pursue a dream of hers and went back to school to study accounting.  She graduated from college the same spring I graded from high school.  That has had an enormous impact on me.  It has fueled my belief that you don’t say no to your dreams.  You don’t say no to a thirst for knowledge.

Cortney’s Gram (along with his Gramps) raised eight children, fostered a bazillion, and loved all those kids’ friends like her own.  She played piano and organ for the church.  She owned her own business (with Cort’s Gramps).  To say she was a busy lady is a massive understatement. Yet, she had a passion for learning and, once the kids were grown,  got her Master’s Degree just because she wanted to.  She was most definitely one of Cort’s role models when it came to making the decision to go back.

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Cort almost didn’t walk.  He was done in December and thought it would be silly to walk in May after he had been done for so long.  And for “just” an Associates.

I needed it to be his decision, but oh how I wanted him to walk.

And then his Gram told him, “You will never regret walking, but you most definitely may regret NOT walking.”

So he did.  And he wanted his Gram to be there, but she came down with shingles two days before commencement and couldn’t come.  But Cort’s mom and sister and wife were there.

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And we cheered so loud when his name was called, he admitted that from the stage, it sounded like more than three people.  SCORE!

I don’t really have the words to tell you how proud I am of Cortney.

He is now one of the role models our sons have for strong people who empowered themselves with education.  Who had a thirst that could only be quenched by books and papers and projects and class discussion.  Who wanted something and figured out how to get it.

why yes, I DID make him put this back on for a picture with the boys.

why yes, I DID make him put this back on for a picture with the boys.

We believe education is important.

And we have the degrees on the wall that prove that belief.

We are role models.

complex simplicity

We are always living through something historic, aren’t we?  Every decade, every generation is marked by something that will make the history books be it economical, political, cultural, technological, whatever.

I wish I had first-hand accounts of what my grandparents were thinking as the Civil Rights movement blasted through the nation.  Or my what my parents were thinking during the race riots of the 90’s sparked by the Rodney King verdict.

What went through my grandmothers’ thoughts as my grandfathers were off in other countries fight wars.  What did they think of those wars? What did my parents think of the Vietnam conflict and how my dad ended up not getting drafted?

What about the Regan administration and the War on Drugs and Women’s Suffrage movement and…and…and…

What if my family, my ancestors were story-tellers?

They weren’t.  But I am.  And I am constantly living through history too, and while I have no way of knowing what my boys will wish they knew, I can do my best to give my thoughts and feelings about certain things that are important to me.

I’ve got thoughts on loads of things, which is why I write over at Borderless News and Views. But there are some things that feel personal.  And this is my personal space for personal things.


So…gay marriage.  That’s a thing right now.  (I suck at transitions sometimes, #SorryNotSorry.)

I’ve been turning it over quite a bit in my head and read some really eloquent posts and wondered if I should even bother with the topic because others have said it so much better.  Some had statistics and a political feel, some had a beautiful, human feel.  Why should I even try?

Because it’s important.

I feel in my heart it’s not “if” but “when”.  I just know that when my boys are teenagers they will hear about this time and ask, “what was the big deal?  How is it not obvious?”

And to that I can only say I don’t know either.

To me, it’s not a question.  We are talking about human beings and giving them civil rights.

We aren’t talking about taking rights from straight people or “traditionally” married people.  We aren’t talking about what is a sin and what isn’t.  We aren’t telling anyone how to live their life.

It’s a simple matter of letting people who have been discriminated against NOT be discriminated against.

Or at least it should be that simple.

But it is not that simple, is it?  People muck it up with complications.  Complications that are, in their hearts, legitimate.  Complications that come from fear.

This entire thing is about fear.

Some people say it will threaten “traditional marriage”.  If “traditional marriage” is the marriage between one man and one woman, I think “traditional marriage” is threatening itself enough, Gay marriage doesn’t need to help with that.  “The Gays” are not making straight people cheat on each other or get divorced after less than 48 hours of marriage or put their kids through crap while they bad-mouth each other in the process of shitty divorces or…well..yeah.  You get it. “Traditional Marriage” and “Gay Marriage” really have nothing to do with each other.

Some people say being gay is a “sin”.  I really don’t know about this.  I don’t believe God originally intended for their to be “homosexual,” but maybe he did.  I mean, I do believe people are born how they are and that we are all born without sin.  So there you go.  But that is just my belief.  It doesn’t matter what my belief is. I could think being gay was a worse sin than murdering all the puppies in Idaho and I would still think they should be allowed to get married.  I mean, I believe jealousy and lying are sins and I fall under both of those categories, yet I was allowed to marry another jealous liar.  So this point seems to be moot to me.

(and don’t get me started on how The Gays shouldn’t be allowed to be parents.  That is both of the above arguments folded into each other with a side of this look: O_o )

Some people are afraid that letting The Gays marry will mean people will want to marry a horse next.  I don’t even know where to go with that.  How do you take two consenting adult males pledging to spend the rest of their lives together and turn it into the lady next door marrying her cat?  I mean really.

Some people are afraid this means we are making churches be Okay with The Gay.  But churches don’t have to perform these marriages.  There is nothing that says, for instance, that the Reformed Church of America has to suddenly make all their ministers perform gay marriages.  Nope.  It means if churches want to do them, they can, but that my friends Mark and Fred can go to the courthouse and get a legit marriage.  No church necessary.

Really I just needed to stop at”some people are afraid.”

That is really what this is about.

I have both gay and lesbian friends.  Spending time with them did not rub “gay” onto me.  I’m still as hetero as they come (which Cort is thankful for, I am sure).

I feel like this is leading to a very cheesy “They’re Just Like You and Me” type message.  Sorry.

My point is I have gay friends. I have gay family.  I have gay students.  I have kids who might be gay (or not) or have gay friends or  inherit more gay family or…or…the point is: gay is here to stay.

Treating them like they are somehow not the same as us is, well, it’s ridiculous. It’s out of style. Seriously.  It went out decades ago when the United States had to tell people that black people (or other races) were not less than anyone else.

These should not even be laws we need to pass (like “allowing” interracial marriage. I mean really? That had to be “allowed”?)   These are not things we should have to say.

People are people.

If you give civil human rights to some, you have to give those same civil human rights to all.

It’s really quite simple.

Wearing read for #MarriageEquality.

Wearing read for #MarriageEquality.

What a Difference

Dear Sluiter Boys,

A year ago we were soaking in our last weekend as a family of three.  I was swept up and covered in emotion the whole weekend.  I remembering wishing I could memorize each saying and giggle of Eddie’s.  I wanted to watch him sleep and bury my nose in his hair.  I wanted to somehow record the feeling of Charlie moving his foot or turning to his side so I could re-feel it long after he left my body.  I wanted to grasp tightly to the small moments of Cort being a daddy to Eddie, an almost-daddy to Charlie, and a husband to me.  Those moments were so precious and he busied himself making preparations so we would all feel safe and loved during the impending upheaval of everything we knew to be our normal.

I was inside my own head a lot that weekend.

Charlie, I often wondered if you could feel my nerves and anxieties since you were rolling around in there with them.  Each time you kicked and tried to move around in your ever-shrinking womb nest, I was reminded that you would soon be here taking up so much of all of our attention.

Eddie, I worried about you, my sweet #1 son.  Would you be Ok now that you weren’t the Only?  Would you love your brother as much as it seemed like you already did?

Cortney, you had worked so hard for all of us, and I knew you were going to have to keep working so hard.  Would you resent me or Charlie?  Would you grow frustrated and discouraged?

March 12, 2012...the night before

March 12, 2012…the night before

I was just so excited to have my Charlie out of my ribs tummy, and into my arms, but at the same time I will never forget the fear that everything would go wrong.

I should have taken the unseasonably warm weather as a good sign.  A sign of growth and renewal.

the weekend before...tulips start to shoot up in the unseasonably warm weather

the weekend before…tulips start to shoot up in the unseasonably warm weather

It was hard for me to watch you, Eddie, in those days before.  You knew you were getting a baby brother out of my tummy, but you went on with your days as if nothing was changing.  You were too small to have the fears to worry about what was to come.  It doubled my worries.  That because you didn’t see this HUGE change ahead, you would suffer more.

Three days before your baby brother arrives.

Three days before your baby brother arrives.

Everyone told me it was normal to be worried…and even afraid.  Afraid my heart wasn’t big enough for TWO boys to love.  I already loved you so much, Eddie.  To the moon.  How could I possibly love another little boy like that?  Would I be enough for both of you?


Little did I know that my heart was about to grow about a thousand times bigger.  That not only would I love you, Charlie, just as fiercely as your brother, but that I would love Eddie more and you more because of how you love each other.

playing cars with Charlie about a month before his arrival.

playing cars with Charlie about a month before his arrival.

I don’t remember when your uncle Chris was born, but he and I are the same age spread as you boys.  Watching the two of you now, I like to think that I loved Chris as fiercely as you love Charlie, Eddie.  At least I hope I did.

I can’t believe I was ever worried.

Everyone told me the gift of a sibling is the greatest gift you can give a child.  I didn’t know if I believed them.  Everything seemed perfect the way it was.  I felt daddy and I were selfish for wanting another little human.

Except, once you were here, Charlie?  It was quite apparent that the greatest gift we have given Eddie was you.  If Eddie made us a family, you made Eddie a brother.  That is a huge thing, Charlie Bird.

Playing cars with your brother within a week of his arrival.

Playing cars with your brother within a week of his arrival.

I don’t really know where I am going with this letter, guys.  I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about Charlie’s first birthday coming up.

Charlie, I can’t believe it’s been a year.  Seriously.  This year has flown by in ways I didn’t know were possible.

And Eddie, I can’t believe I ever underestimated your ability to love your brother so much.  You are his protector.  You are his comfort.  You are his laugh-maker.  You are his Eddie…his “dee dee dee”.

I look back at a year ago and can’t hardly believe that the life we had before the Bird was real.  That it happened.  That Daddy and I lived our lives and you both were just…not.  That seems impossible to me.

Tonight I watched the two of you.  I rattled off “Be careful of your brother” and “Don’t hit him with your jammy pants, Eddie!” and “You can’t play Wii until you put on underwear” and “Bird!  No licking the couch!” all without thinking about it.  Like I have been commanding these things of my sons my whole life.

My sons.

I have sons.

Daddy is a Daddy and I am a Mommy and we have sons.

Goodness what a difference a little ole year makes.

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