to you, from me

Birthdays are not a big deal to you.

You shake your head and smile as I fret and wring my hands over getting you the perfect thing.

“It’s fine, Babe. I just want to be home with YOU.”

I worry over money and struggle to truly separate your birthday from that other holiday that we all celebrate 15 days after your birthday.

I know how you feel about the “birthday SLASH christmas” gift.

I won’t ever give you one of those.

I know despite my efforts your birthday gets swept up by Christmas.  Especially now that we have kids.

It’s hard with money this year since both of us took cuts to our allowances.  It’s hard for me to do what I want.

My goal has always been to get a reaction out of you on your birthday.

You give the same reaction if you love something or if you are lukewarm on something or if you’re not a huge fan of something.

I want a reaction.

I don’t think I’ll get it this year.

But I want you to know that every single year…no  matter how much money I have to spend…I want to give you all of the things.

The shed for all your things.

The fence to keep out the stupid neighbor’s trash and kids.

A new snow blower.

A new truck.

And all those things on your wish list that could either be a tool or a tech geek thing.

I want you to have it all.

I want you to have the king-size bed and master bathroom that you have dreamed about having.

I want you to have a hot tub to soak in.

I want to give you your own home office…where you can close the door and play your music and do your thang.

I want to give you your dream job.  One where you can get your geek on and get paid for it.

Mostly I want to give you a rest from worrying about our budget and our house and our bills and all the things you take on for our family.

I know we don’t keep score, but if we did? I would want to give you something that would make you understand the impact of all you’ve given me.

You have made me laugh when I didn’t want to.

You made me beautiful when I felt wretched.

You swept me off my feet when I least expected it.

You brought music and dance and song to my life.

You bring me the kind of laughter that makes my stomach hurt and my eyes water.

You gave me the two most beautiful sons in the world.

You give me a hand to hold when I most need it.

You give the best hugs…and kisses.

You are not romantic, but you are sweet.  You are kind. You are helpful, and you are supportive.

You are my best friend.

Happy birthday.


I hope I can always make you smile like this.

That Day I Got A Break

Last week Monday night I was feeling sorry for myself.

I was already stressed about getting my grades done, having parent/teacher conferences later in the week, and having absolutely no time. At all.

Cort is gone three nights a week:  Tuesday for league bowling and Wednesday & Thursday nights for class.

Monday night, he had also made plans to get a drink with his brother.  The plans had been made weeks ahead of time, I knew they were there, and I totally approved.  Cort’s brother is about to become a dad and since their own dad passed over seven years ago, he doesn’t have a father figure to chew the fat with.  Cort is painfully aware of this since he was in the same position three and a half years ago.  He wants to be there for his brother.

I totally get and support that.

But Monday was horrid. And busy. And stressful.

Cort left around 7pm and I was left with a cranky three year old and a teething baby.  Once I finally got Charlie down, Eddie was impossible.  He got up about a million times, was difficult, and there were many MANY tears {from both of us}.

When Cort finally got home just before 10pm, I was a wreck.

I knew in my head that everything was just what it was: busy.  Necessary, but busy.

But my irrational, anxiety-ridden voice up there kept piling on the self-pity.

I couldn’t focus and I was trying to get grades done.

A wonderfully wise friend {whom I had been texting my vents to for about an hour} encouraged me to talk with Cort that night, in person–not over email the next day when we were both busy with work–and get it all out.

So I did.

I told him that even though it made no sense and wasn’t rational, I was feeling trapped and burned out and just…blah.  That all my stress and all my worries were being made to feel even more massive because he was never around.  It was me and the boys three nights…and this week four.  And…and…Tuesdays he was out having FUN bowling. It wasn’t even class.  He got to drink beers with his brother while I played GO TO BED OR I WILL LOSE MY LAST MARBLE!

I told him sometimes I resented him.

I told him sometimes I get “needed” out and “touched” out.

I told him most days I want nothing more than to fall into bed after work because I am so tired and overwhelmed and that I am both glad for and horrified by having to keep plugging along for the two boys who do not care in the least that I am overworked.

And then I got quiet.

And he sat and didn’t say anything.

I looked at my hands.  My computer screen.  My phone.

He started doing homework.

So my Wonderful Friend and I had this convo via text:

Me: i said my piece to him and he isn’t responding. um.

WF: Huh. Is he sleeping?

WF: Like you said it in person or via text?

Me: Nopee. Just sitting here working on homework. Things now feel…awkward.

We went to bed with that awkward feeling.

I don’t ever remember doing that before.  It was…awkward.  And I did NOT love it.

The next day I got an email from Cort telling me that Saturday after he got our cars serviced bright and early, the rest of the day was mine.  He would stay home with the boys if I wanted to leave.  I could nap if I wanted to.

And he held true to this promise.

On Saturday morning I took a nap when he got home from car stuff, and later found that he left me a $20 on my dashboard for coffee treats at Starbucks.  I was able to set up shop for 2 hours with a venti pumpkin spice latte, my phone, and my laptop with my entire itunes catalog (which is unnecessarily extensive at over 40 days of music…and that is me handpicking stuff so that I don’t have our DAYS AND DAYS of Pearl Jam shows or the oddities that my wonderful husband collects from his equally wonderful best friend. I have 14,251 songs on my computer. Sheesh).

I got four posts written and and uncountable number of emails responded to.

When I got home, Eddie was just up from his nap and Cort took him to get groceries.  Charlie stayed sleeping so I got some laundry done and another post revised and submitted.

When the boys got home, I was able to take a leisurely shower and then put on real clothes and go see some girl friends for a couple hours.

And to end the night, I got some couch cuddles with my main squeeze.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference that day meant to my mental well-being.

Sunday I was happier and less anxiety-ridden about the weekend ending.

I started this week with a positive, rested mind and soul.

And more importantly, that one day to myself gave me more of a need to hug my little boys and to let myself be wrapped in my husband’s arms.

I KNOW that self-care is important.  I KNOW I need to set aside time to be alone and reboot.  I KNOW that Cort is not a mind-reader and needs me to ask.

Just ask.

And yet…I don’t.  I don’t want to look lazy or needy or annoying or as a burden.

So, as my psychiatrist said last week, I keep running this marathon at a sprint.

And I when I can’t keep up the pace, and I cramp up and collapse, then and only then do I ask for a break.

I can’t wait until disaster.  I can’t wait until I break.

I need to do this more often.

Thank you, Wonderful Friend (you know who you are), Cortney, and my healthcare professionals for pushing me to remember that out of all the people I take care of in my life, I can’t forget about myself.

Because without a healthy me, I can’t help anyone else.

my pretty new earrings that I got Saturday night at my friend’s house via R&L Design (click on pics to see her cutie shop)

coaster buddies…again

In an effort to write the story of Cort and me for our children, I’m trying to put up a weekly (or whenever) post telling a new chapter in our story. I have added a new tab on the menu called Cort + Kate  if you want to follow our journey as a couple.

All of our friends were going to Woodstock ’99.

Ok, not all of them, but enough.  Enough that we were jealous of the road trip, but not of the camping on an old Air Force base with no shade.

Although, damn.  The bands playing?  Fricking awesome set.

We would show them.  We would have our own road trip that weekend.

Just the four of us.

A couple’s weekend.

We decided to drive to the other side of Chicago and spend two nights near Six Flag.  We even bought the “twickets” so we could come and go as week like over the course of two days.

That weekend it was about 104 degrees.

In the shade.

The four of us piled into his Buick Regal.  Yes, he was a 20-year old driving an old man’s car.  A smooth old man’s car that was roomy for a four-person road trip.

As soon as we got to the Holiday Inn, we brought out things in and walked over to the amusement park.

We all road The Iron Dragon since the line was short, and the boys, for whatever reason, thought they should IMMEDIATELY get on the ride that spins in a circle at the speed of light and the bottom drops out while you are plastered to the wall, defying gravity.  And all logical reason.

Trisha and I opted out.

No way were we putting ourselves on a spinning ride in 100 degree weather after riding a roller coaster.

We were not dumb.

Our boyfriends?

Totally dumb.

In fact, I think her boyfriend, a Mr. Cortney Sluiter, may have turned green.

Neither walked straight.

And both announced it was time to leave the park for awhile.


On our walk back, we made a detour to the Ponderosa adjacent to the hotel.  We delighted in the air conditioning and ordered only waters.  Then we sat there.  For what seems now like it was hours.

The rest of the weekend is a blur of roller coasters and laughter.  Sweat and amusement park food.  Walking and waiting in lines.

At some point it was decided to get on the newest, biggest ride in the park: The Raging Bull.

I love roller coasters, but that one seemed maybe too big to me.  I told them I would maybe sit this one out and have a snack on a bench somewhere.

This is when the term “Coaster Vagina” was born.

As in “don’t be one.”

I was yelled at convinced by my fellow Coaster Buddies that it was unacceptable to go along to an amusement park as part of an even numbered group and punk out on a coaster.  It would leave someone buddy-less.

And the Raging Bull is a FOUR person ride, which would mean they would get stuck with either an empty seat (best case scenario) or someone would have to sit by a total stranger who could be a crazy.

I was told to get over myself and get on the damn ride.

So I did.

And then we rode it about 50 billion more times even though the wait was NEVER less than 90 minutes.

In the evenings, we showered and relaxed in our lovely air-conditioned hotel room and watched the fools on MTV at Woodstock ’99 getting hot, sunburned, dehydrated, and riotous.

Our road trip was totally better.

Plus Cort and Trisha and my then-boyfriend cured me of being a Coaster Vagina that weekend.

So there was that.

And I got to listen to Cort giggle like a 2nd grade girl when he was nervous on the big hills.

That did not escape endless hours of mockery.

Cort and I haven’t been on a roller coaster together since that day almost 13 years ago.

We should maybe change that.

my michigan adventure

Seventeen years ago I was a high school junior.

I was taking physics.  The class was all seniors except for me and two other junior girls.

Each May, Michigan Adventure–an amusement park here in West Michigan–has a “Physics Day”.

Each May, my teacher, Mr. Janssen, took the physics class to participate with other area schools, but my junior year, we got rained out.

May of my senior year rolled around.  Physics Day was during the seniors’ last week, and I got it in my head that I should be able to go.

Throughout my four years of high school, I had Mr. Janssen for three math classes and for physics.  We were tight.

(Ok, if you know Mr. Janssen, you are rolling on the floor laughing at that statement.  I simply do not know how to describe him other than and introverted math teacher with an incredibly dry sense of humor. Who stands in front of class tossing the chalk in the air saying, “ah, umm…well…” when he is answering questions because he is so much smarter than you are, dummy. But he would never say that.  And he smirks, but never all out smiles.  I loved that man.)

Anyway, because I loved Mr. Janssen, and for some reason I decided we were tight (which he found humorous.  shut up, he did), I went to him and begged requested that he get me out of class for the day and let me come along to Michigan Adventure with his physics class.

I totally expected him to say no.

I mean, it’s not like I would be doing the packet of physics problems…I wasn’t in the class.  It would be nothing but a super fun day off from school for me.

There was zero educational value in having me go.

Also I was absolutely math dumb.  I, to this day, do not know how I even passed physics.

But he said yes.

And this is when I realized I had no idea who was in the class or if I would even have fun.

It just so happened that about a day after he said yes, I had to go to his classroom for something for a teacher.  I walked in to what happened to be the hour he had his physics class–mostly juniors, but some seniors.

And ALL dudes.

Not one girl in the class.

What had I gotten myself into?

But I wasn’t going to back out of a free day to ride roller coasters instead of being in school.

So on Physics Day I showed up to the bus, climbed those black tread steps, and stood at the front surveying the possibilities.

Which of these lucky dudes was going to be my new best friend for the day?

As I made my way down the long bus aisle, I flashed a smile, gave the obligatory “dude nod” to a few of the senior guys, did the finger point at a couple fellas who had zero chance of having me sit down, and finally stopped next to a seat with a junior in it that I knew a little bit through mutual friends.

He smiled back and I said, “move over, Curly.  You’re my friend for the day.”

He shoved over to the window and I plopped down next to him.

Before we were even out of the parking lot, I broke the ice with the big question the answer to which would set the tone for the rest of our day: “So, do you have a girlfriend?”

“Sort of.”

“How do you ‘sort of’ have a girlfriend?”

“Well, she doesn’t go here.  She lives 45 minutes away.”

And from there we chatted for the entire hour drive to the amusement park, deemed ourselves “Coaster Buddies”, and made let his lab/project partner do all the work on the packet problems.

Curly was one of the nicest guys I have ever met.

We became super great friends very quickly.  I met his girlfriend, Trisha, and loved her too.

Fast-forward approximately 14 years.

New Year's Eve 2009: Ben & Trisha with pregnant-with-Eddie Me (don't worry that is non-alcoholic) &"Curly"

I’m so glad Mr. Janssen said yes to my going on the Physics Day field trip sixteen years ago.


the day before

Dear Sluiter Boys,

This is it.  The day before our world changes.

I have been trying to soak everything in about all three of you this weekend.  I found a lump in my throat and hot tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.  Not because I was sad, but because I just couldn’t wrap my head or heart around how unbelievably blessed I am.

Eddie you amaze me.

You are a talking machine.  People always say this to me, and I know your voice is a constant in our lives, but this weekend I made sure to really, REALLY listen to you.

You have so many stories, and you are such a great little reporter on what is happening around you.  Everything is interesting and exciting and note-worthy.

My favorite thing this weekend was when we were goofing around and you just fell on me, squeezed, and said, “Mom?  I love you.”

I can’t imagine that I had a life without you in it.

How have you only been here for 32 months?

You are so smart and so big and so strong.

You are going to be an amazing big brother…starting tomorrow.  But really, you have already started.  You are so kind to your unborn brother.

And even though you have mentioned a couple times that you don’t want baby Charlie anymore, I know you are just scared and nervous.

I’ll tell you what, I am too.

Things are going to be different.  And it will be hard for you and me and daddy.  But you and me?  We are a lot alike.  Change is scary and makes us anxious and we cry and lash out.

But Eddie?  We will get through it.  I promise.

Charlie, I can’t believe you are only going to be part of me for less than 24 more hours.

This has been a crazy 39 weeks.

All the puking and reflux and restrictions and everything that was thrown at me this pregnancy is all about to seem like nothing when you are placed in my arms for the first time.

I’m not generally a fan of sharing, but sharing my body with you has been an honor.

While I am ready to have it back–let’s be honest, neither of us are comfy anymore–I will miss your movements that only I know about.  I will miss that connection I feel to you without having to speak.

I’m ready to meet you face to face.  To learn your personality and your face.  To fall in love all over again.

Cortney, I cannot tell you how much you make my heart flip.

Watching you laugh and play with Eddie one minute, and pat your unborn son in my belly the next had me fighting back my sappy mommy tears.

Each time you gave me the hairy eyeball for using the stairs or lifting something, something in me smiled.

Your protectiveness over your family is so attractive and cute.

You’ve put in so much for our team lately.  I know you are tired.  I know you need a break.

I wish I could say that tomorrow means a break for you.  But it doesn’t.

We both know this is the break right now.  Even though it so doesn’t feel like it.

Tomorrow you will be a single parent to a confused little toddler for three days.

Then you will have a wife with a giant abdominal would who will need help on top of that confused toddler.

Oh, and there will be a baby.  Who cries.  And poops.  And needs to eat.  And hasn’t figured out a sleep schedule yet.

Every time I think of how much you give, I want to cry and tell you I am sorry.

But you shake it off.  You tell me we are all worth it.

You tell me you love us.

And you smile.

And your smile gets me every time.

Because your smile is my safe place.  It is home.

So my boys…things are about to change for all of us.

I am soaking you all in how you are right now in this moment because tomorrow will be different.

A wonderful, chaotic, painful, beautiful different.

I love you all more than you will ever imagine,

Mommy (Kate)


this bed is your bed, this bed is my bed.

I am not easy to sleep with.

There, Cort.  I admit it:  I am a pain to have as a bed partner.

Until becoming blissfully wed to Cortney at age 27, I had my own bed.  Until my 20’s it was a twin.  Then I graduated to a queen that was donated to me by an ex-boyfriend’s parents (who I think believed it would someday become our wedding bed.  Um. no).

So I had this queen sized bed all to myself for about four years.

My preferred side of the bed is the left side (and by left, I mean the left if you’re lying down staring up at the ceiling), but my cat also preferred the left side (yes, I was single and slept with a cat.  Shut up).  This meant that I would sleep with my head on my pillow on the left side of the bed, but my body and legs went diagonally so that my feet slept on the right side of the bed.

Even though I slept for over 20 years in a tiny twin-sized bed, once given the freedom of sprawl in a queen?  I quickly embraced my new expanse of mattress, and much like a conquistador, I was not going to be giving up my new territory so easily.

In June of 2005, Cortney slid a wedding ring on his finger and moved his stuff into our home.

This included taking his side of the bed.

The right side, of course, because I sleep on the left side.

No, I wasn’t going to compromise on this.

Even though when we both are on laptops/tablets/nooks and his left-handedness and my right-handedness bang into each other.

Even when my pregnant belly makes it hard for him to see the TV.

Even when I fall asleep before him, roll to my side, and block the TV from view.

Even when it starts raining in through our open window and I poke him to get up and walk all the way around the bed to my side to close the window.

He found out quickly that sleeping with me was going to be a battle of territory.

Sure I stayed on my side while we were awake.

But once I fell asleep?  All bets were off.

My legs would slowly migrate to the bottom right corner of the bed…edging his out until he pushed back.

I would roll myself into a ball of comforter leaving him with nothing but a scrap of top sheet.

I would scoot my bottom so far onto his side that he had to take both hands to shove me back to my side.

My sleeping self had no concept of boundaries or lines…it wandered and spread.

After almost seven years, I am getting better.

(He is shaking his head at this point, but really, I AM getting better.  Yes I am, Cort.  Shut up).

I will admit to some regression since becoming largely pregnant.

Saturday night Cort may have had to roll me to my side of the bed, tug-o-war the covers, and shove my feet away from him several times.

And then there was this other thing.

You see, lately, I roll from one side to the other a LOT due to my legs cramping or Charlie moving or just pregnantness.  And when I roll, I tend to take a deep breath, sigh, and roll it over.

Generally I do this without interrupting my own sleep too much.

Saturday night this needed to happen.

I was facing toward the interior of the bed.  I peeked one eye and only saw a fluff of hair, so I assumed Cort was facing out.

I breathed in, sighed out through my mouth, and started my roll.

Mid-roll I heard, “ugg.”

Apparently Cort had been facing in and just got a whole face-full of my sleep breath.


It’s a wonder Cort gets any sleep.

He’s such a patient man.


a difficult season

When I was born, I only had two living great grandparents: my dad’s maternal grandpa and my mom’s maternal grandma.

I hardly remember either of them.

When Eddie was born he had seven living great grandparents: all except my maternal grandmother.

Cort's Grandma and Grandpa Sluiter meeting Eddie

Four Generations: My dad and me and Eddie with my paternal grandparents

Four Generations: Cort, Eddie, Cort's mom, and Cort's maternal grandpa

four generations: my mom, me, and Eddie with my maternal grandpa

I feel like that is lucky.

Our grandparents are all in their 80’s now.

A new season of life is upon us.

Last Christmas we lost Cort’s Grandpa Sluiter.

This weekend we lost Cort’s Grandpa Potter.

Cort with both grandpas in 2005 (at our wedding)

Cort found strength and wisdom in these men.

Especially over the past seven years of our marriage after his own dad died.

Now all three father figures in his shared bloodline are gone.

Our sons will not remember these men.

I think that is what hurts my heart the most.

Cortney is a strong, brave, wise, witty man.

He has a way with people that puts them at ease.

He is quick with a witty retort.

He is sensitive to his wife’s needs in a way a lot of men are not.

He got those qualities from his dad and grandpas.

This new season we find ourselves in is uncomfortable.

It is the season of adulthood where we both welcome new life and say goodbye to weary lives.

Where we take from heaven and give back to heaven.

It’s a confusing and painful season.

But it reminds us to cherish and love the ones who are here…

Our family (Cort's side) with his maternal grandparents

…because we don’t know how long they have on this earth.

We feel lucky for having them.

And comforted knowing those who have moved on are now in paradise.

You will walk with her again soon, Grandpa.

Until then, we will take good care of her for you.

And when you meet again there will be no cane, no pain, no obstacles.

May Cort and I always hold hands and giggle like we are courting…

just like you and Grandma.

We love you and miss you.

Do I have an accent?

So in an effort to keep my friend Lori entertained while she is confined to recovering from this, I decided to vlog for her.

But what about?

Well, since she is also sort of an expert in the field of language and speech development…AND since she held my hand and listened to me while about Eddie not saying any words for so long…I decided that a vlog about, well, TALKING would be appropriate.

This one has been floating around the blog world for a bit.

I saw it on Jen’s blog.

I decided to get my whole family in on it.  So first you will see Cort reading the words that are below the video.  Then I ask him some questions.  Then we flip and I do the words and answer the questions.

Then there is some Eddie nonsense.

So Lori…here are the Sluiters:  talking.

And here are the words we are saying.  You know, in case our Michigan accent is so thick you can’t  understand us:

Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Naturally, Aluminum, Envelope

So what do you think?  Do we SOUND like we come from Michigan?  Because we both do.  From the same town.  Born in the same hospital. 8 and a half months apart.

the reoccuring walk

Because so many people felt that I left you all hanging with this post,  I jumped forward a couple years to show how that friendship deepened.  You know,  once I knew it wasn’t going to be romantic.



Even though I have spent my life surrounded by testosterone, he was the only one who ever offered to walk me home.

He said it was so he could use a smoke, but that was partially bullshit because everyone just smoked in the dorms rather than go all the way outside.  I knew he worried about me.  I knew he wanted to be courteous.  I knew he saw me as a girl who wasn’t as tough as she acted.

We always ended up on the steps of Harrison where I would sit on the top concrete step and he would lean on the black metal railing, smoking one last dog before I went in and he went home.

Our conversations wandered and rambled.  He was the only one I talked seriously to about my feelings of inadequacy and doubt.  He was the only one who talked openly to me about his fears and struggles.  One evening he would listen as I talked about feeling unworthy of a committed relationship and the next He would open up about his inability to love college and his lack of motivation in choosing a career.

He more than sort of had a girlfriend.  In fact many times we talked about how much he missed her by being at a different college, but how he wasn’t sure if a lifetime commitment was the answer either.

He never said much about his parents’ divorce, but I knew it bothered him that people so in love for so long could just…not be anymore.  He was afraid it would happen to him.

It never occurred to me to use those conversations to insinuate myself.  That wasn’t what it was about.  But  almost every time I asked him the same thing:  Why did he feel like he needed to walk me the short distance from their dorm to mine?

And he always told me, “because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s what a gentleman does.  Those other guys are dicks for not ever offering.”

His answer was genuine.  Neither of us was angling for anything more than just friendship…for someone to trust and have each other’s back.

And that is what we got.  Each other’s back.


It would be another seven years before we were married.

Do you need more?

how i met your father

From the first time I ever plopped down next to him on a school bus headed for the Michigan Adventure physics trip, I knew he was going to be my friend for life.

I wasn’t even in physics anymore, but had convinced the teacher to let me come along. Not because I was so interested in physics, but because it was the end of my senior year and I would rather be waving my hands above my head on the corkscrew than explicating a Keats poem.

After climbing the familiar black treaded steps, I took my first look at who was going on this trip with me.

Almost all juniors and 100% male.

I picked a familiar face and walked purposefully toward him, “Hey Curly.  Can I be your seatmate for this adventure?”

“Of course,” he smiled easily sliding over toward the window.

I sat down casually on the green vinyl seat waving off all the protests and seat invitations from the other guys.   As soon as the bus roared to life, and Huong turned around and sat down, I decided to get to know my new friend better.

“So,” I asked looking past him to the outside brick wall of our school, “do you have a girlfriend?”

The bus hadn’t even left the school parking lot and I asked the doozy question right off the bat. I had to know if this day was going to be flirty or just friendly. I am not sure what I was hoping for.

“Sort of,” he answered.

“How do you ‘sort of’ have a girlfriend?”

“She lives in Caledonia.”

“How did you meet a girl from way over there?”


Our conversation…and our future… took off as the bus lurched forward.

This week’s prompt was to write about a school trip.
This was the most important school trip of my life.
We didn’t actually date for another 10 years, but that is another post for another time.

(it’s my business card sponsor offering a HUGE discount and a giveaway!)

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