Netflix for Learning

netflix

When Eddie was 3 months old and I was going back to work after maternity leave, Cortney was laid off from work. Cort spent his days being a stay at home dad, looking for work, and watching documentaries on Netflix. So many documentaries. And the topic really didn’t matter to him. He would watch films on subjects such as beer as well as fonts.

You think I’m kidding. He totally watched a documentary called Helvetica. Yes, it was almost 3 hour devoted to the history of a FONT.

He’s not the only one who loves to mix some learnin’ in with his TV watchin’. I’ve been known to camp out in front of Modern Marvel marathons myself. Remember when channels like History actually had shows about history of stuff on it?  Ah the good old days…thank goodness for Netflix!

I was going to try to list for you the documentaries Netflix has available, but then I spent almost 30 minutes falling down the rabbit hole of what is available and wanting to see about 50 of them.

So instead I’ll tell you the learning stuff the boys love.

JulyLittleKids

We went through a pretty heavy Busytown Mysteries phase here in Sluiter Nation. It was the go-to bedtime show. Recently Eddie and Charlie discovered The Magic School Bus which brings back fond memories for me.  I never watched the show, but my brothers had a lot of the books and when I babysat them, I read those books over and over. I think my mom still has them at her house.  I should try to find them.

As I type this, it is nap time for Charlie, and Eddie is watching Turtle: The Incredible Journey.  He claimed to know everything about turtles, but he is pretty entranced in watching all those baby turtles book it off the beach to the sea.

So you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to shut down my computer now and watch about the lives of turtles with Eddie.

Share some documentaries or learning shows you and your family love!

crack the door

I started going to the chiropractor this summer (which is a whole post in and of itself). I’ve got the routine down pat: Go in the exam room, take off clothes from the waist up, put on gown, crack the door so the doctor knows you’re ready. There is even a little sign that reminds us: “Female patients: crack the door about a half inch when you are ready”.

I wondered a little bit what would happen if I forgot to crack the door. Would I just sit there waiting and waiting? Would someone knock? Or would it be up to me to open the door to let the doctor in?

Closed doors are sort of the international sign for “go away,” aren’t they?

When I don’t want anyone disturbing my class, I shut the door.

When Eddie and Charlie are not available to play with the neighbor kids, we shut the garage door.

When we need privacy in the bathroom, we shut the door.

When we want to keep someone out, we shut the door. When we are ready to have visitors, we open it.

door-cracked-open

I don’t think I ever really shut my heart to God, but I did close it far enough that the “crack” was barely visible. At least to human eyes. In all my youthful questioning, the door was never really shut. It was later, when loss seemed to be our new way of life that I started bumping the door to almost shut.

When Cortney lost his job, Eddie was 3 months old and colicky, and I was suffering from depression and anxiety, the door was as good as closed. I hadn’t pushed it all the way to latching, but I wanted nothing to do with a God who would take away so much from me and my family. One who seemed to want nothing but pain and hurt to wave over us.

If ever I was going to shut my heart’s door, it was then.

But for some reason I didn’t actually give it that last push. I didn’t allow it to latch.

And even though it appeared to everyone–including myself–that my heart was closed to church and God and anything having to do with religion, God knew it wasn’t really closed.

Over the past nine months, I’ve cracked my heart’s door. I’ve allowed some light to pour through. I’ve cautiously opened myself to new relationships with people, church, and Jesus.

That is not to say that I’ve flung my door wide open and am swaying to praise music with my arms in the air. No. I have questions. I have doubts. I wonder how my political and social views fit with the theology of the church.

I remain cautious as I continue to learn and grow in this newish faith. I carefully watch and listen as I am told that the church is called to be one, but to embrace diversity of all kinds. Disagreement doesn’t mean you’re kicked out.

So I have cracked the door to my heart to let the light in a little because I am ready.

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Don’t forget to join me tomorrow (Tue, July 15) at 8pm est for a twitter party with Imagine Toys! Follow #ImagineToys and learn about blogging opps, possibly win prizes, and have fun!

upgrading, yo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-07-02 18.11.10

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

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

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

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

It’s quite slick.

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

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

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

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

2014-07-06 14.44.32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

My Other Ex

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

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

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

It started to be good.

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

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

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

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


Buy this on Selz
Sell digital downloads on Selz

Netflix For Me

netflix

Each month I get a little email about what theme we Netflix stream-team members can post about. There is always a little craft or snack or something we can do with the family too if we want.  But this month is all about the momma, and I have to say it came at just the right time!

Cortney and I just finished season 1 of Breaking Bad this weekend. We are not binge-watchers, but we do take in a couple episodes a week. I know it goes on for four more seasons but I keep thinking, “oh they are done for this time!”  So good!

breaking bad

On my list to watch with Cortney next is Orange is the New Black. I just finished reading the book and I am excited to watch the fictionalized version of the book. Piper Kerman’s memoir was so good, but I know the show is more over-the-top.

oitnb

 

Also on our list to watch is Freaks and Geeks. Our high school sociology classes watch this show and discuss it and the teachers are ALWAYS quoting it and talking about it in the lounge. Even though it’s only 18 episodes-long, I know I need to see it.

freaksandgeeks

And lastly, one that will probably be more interesting to me than to Cort, I want to watch Call the Midwife. This might have to be my “daycare day” show. On the days the boys are in daycare, I might have to carve out some “me time” to watch a show just for me. When Eddie was a baby, I would binge watch all the episodes (and movies) of Sex and the City, I think it’s time I upgrade, yes?

callthemidwife

While we LOVE Netflix for our kids (mine are watching Curious George as I type this), it’s fun to have some shows just for us adults too.

What else should be on my list?

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Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with a Roku and a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

 

Through the Lens {June}

At the beginning of the year I decided to join my friends Greta and Alison and their year-long photography project called Through The Lens Thursday. You don’t need a blog to join in, just join our Flickr group and post each week! It’s great for practicing photography in a low pressure, fun way.

This month our prompts for Through the Lens were: sunset, deep, smooth, and imperfect

I used my 50mm for all of them.

prompt: sunset f/9.0, 1/20, ISO 100

prompt: sunset
f/9.0, 1/20, ISO 100

prompt: deep f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: deep
f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: smooth f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: smooth
f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 100

prompt: imperfect f/1.8, 1/80, ISO 100

prompt: imperfect
f/1.8, 1/80, ISO 100

How is it the end of June? Ugg.

Anyway, this month was challenging for me because I felt like I just didn’t have any good ideas or approaches to the prompt. Because of the trees, it was hard to get a typical sunset, I was lost on deep and smooth, and my imperfect birthday cake was a good idea, but turned out, well, imperfect.

June has been a bit of a let down as far as photography goes.

What do you think?

The HerStories Project: celebrating female friendships

This spring I read a collection of stories about women and friendship called The HerStories Project. I’ve admitted my lack of awesomeness at female relationships here before.

Even when they are at their best, I feel like the weakest link in all of my female friendships. I feel unsure, inadequate, and anxious.  And that is when things are going WELL.

I thought maybe this anthology of essays could give me a clue to the elusive female friendship. What I found out was that I am not alone in my pain and questioning in friendships.

female friendships

I read this book  of female friendships while sitting in my bag chair in the shade of our tree during spring break while my kids played in the yard and rode bikes and trikes. Like any collection, there were stories I skimmed over because they didn’t reach me, but for each of those there were stories that deeply connected with something in my heart.

Vicky Willenberg had me nodding along to her piece, “Big Girl Friendships” as I related to how my friendships have changed now that I am an adult.

Pam Moore’s piece “Pen Pals” reminded me of my best friend who lives almost three hours away. We send notes and texts to each other randomly, yet we rarely speak on the phone. However when we see each other it’s like no time has passed.

Alexa Bigwarfe’s piece “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” encouraged me to get to know the women in my real life better–the moms in my subdivision, the ladies in my church, the teachers who I work with.

I cried through Allison Slater Tate’s piece “To My Best Friend on the Occasion of Her First Pregnancy.” My best friend married five years before I did, but had her first baby four years after I had my first. I had two kids by the time she had her first and my excitement for this new journey was summed up by Allison.

And it was like Alexandra Rosas was writing my life in her piece “On Feeling Lonely.”  We both suffered severe loneliness and depression after the birth of our first sons. Her words are exactly perfect.

Story after story I was reminded that I am not alone in my messy feelings about female friendships.  I thought this stuff was supposed to get easier as we get older, but no. Not so much.

This is why I am so excited to announce that HerStories is coming out with a second anthology in September called My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends and I am a contributor! That’s right, I’m going to be published in print…again! I am sharing my story about how I am in the season of losing friends right now.

Can’t wait until September to read stories of friendship? The first anthology is still available and I highly recommend it.

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In other fun news, I am taking over the Bonbon Break Instagram Feed today! Come follow along!

Bonbon Break

Through the Lens {May}

At the beginning of the year I decided to join my friends Greta and Alison and their year-long photography project called Through The Lens Thursday. You don’t need a blog to join in, just join our Flickr group and post each week! It’s great for practicing photography in a low pressure, fun way.

This month our prompts for Through the Lens were: Three Things, Dream, Empty, Street, and Home

I used my 50mm for all of them.

Prompt: Three Things f/4.5, i/1600, ISO 100

Prompt: Three Things
f/4.5, i/1600, ISO 100

Prompt: Dream f/1.8, 1/400, ISO 100

Prompt: Dream
f/1.8, 1/400, ISO 100

Prompt: Empty f/4.0, 1/60, ISO 400

Prompt: Empty
f/4.0, 1/60, ISO 400

prompt: Street f/4, 1/500, ISO 100

prompt: Street
f/4, 1/500, ISO 100

Prompt: Home f/1.8, 1/1600, ISO 100

Prompt: Home
f/1.8, 1/1600, ISO 100

It’s been fun to get outside and take photos that aren’t in the dang house, and I can’t wait until the summer months so I can bust out my new zoom lens and see what I can snap!

So what do you think?

one true sentence

hemingway

I have been struggling with my job as a writer.

It’s not that I don’t want to write or that I don’t have a truth to write, but the words have been slow to come. And when they finally find their way from my brain through my finger tips, they just aren’t right.

It’s like typing in a bowl of jello.

To be honest, I have been struggling with that word “truth” that Hem talks about.

What is my truth? How do I go about writing truth?

I feel like when there is hurt or pain or disappointment my truth flows from me in a wild sea of words, almost like it’s running to get out of my head and heart. When I am crushed, the only way back I know is through my words.

But what about when I am experiencing joy and success? Is that not worth my words too? Why is it harder to write about my accomplishments and being satisfied? Why does it feel less “true”?

I have often been accused of being a pessimist–of always saying “yes, but” and “but what if”.

I have got some wonderful news about my writing as of late. Three of the five places I have submitted to this year so far have accepted my writing. One is already available. One is set to print (in the Language Arts Journal of Michigan), and one was just accepted (so I can’t give you more details). I have one more out there. And one rejection.

The one I have written about is the rejection.

Is sadness more true that happiness?

Hemingway also said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

So that is what I will do. Each day.

Today my truth is this:

I am proud of myself.

I feel strong mentally and emotionally, but I need to take better care of myself physically.

I feel like I have earned the break that is summer.

What is your one true sentence?

 

some parting words

Dear seniors of Sluiter Nation,

Or should I say, “Ok guys, a few things…” since that is how I start every single class, every single day for the past nine months with you.

Tomorrow (Friday) is your last day. I’ve been back and forth and kept awake at night about these last couple days with you. I want our year to end just right. I want to say just the right things to you.  But here is the deal, I can’t.

I can’t do it.

For one, if I say the things in my heart out loud, it will come out all wrong. I will make one of my faces because I will feel uncomfortable and you will all laugh. Or, and this is my bigger fear, I will cry.

Plus I would have to say all this four times since there are four classes of you guys.

So I am going to write my parting words for you (and the rest of the interwebs, I guess) to read. So here it goes…

I’m going to miss you weirdos.

I am not exaggerating when I say this has been my best year of teaching in at LEAST five years.  I have never not liked my job, but this year I loved it again.  That was because of you guys.

I can’t remember the last time I was so exhausted at the end of the school year…but in a good way. In a way that felt like I was tired because I had put forth so much of my heart and soul into good things. You guys are those good things.

And I will miss you.

First hour, I will miss the way we eased into our mornings together. School started at 7:30am, but we were never a full class until at BEST 7:45 (Ok, I won’t miss that, ya slackers!), but I do appreciate that you guys could hang out on those days of terrible weather that  made me late. I never had to worry about you guys acting like fools while I wasn’t there. I could concentrate on getting to school safely.

I’ll miss the way that even though you seemed sort of asleep, you were consistently the class who heard all the directions–even if you were always the last to get every single assignment in from each person.

I’ll miss the guys, and I’ll miss all the ladies who tolerated the guys and joined me in the eye-rolling about the guys.

Petey and Tyler, may you continue to always find a funny on a Friday even after you’re not in room 47 anymore. And Logan, I’m sorry I almost got you fired for getting you addicted to hashtags. #sorrynotsorry

Fourth hour, I will miss your great greetings.  Each of you were so good at saying, “Hey Mrs. Sluiter!” or “Good morning, Mrs. Sluiter!”  You all came in so happy each day.

And you kicked ACE at English.  You did. You amazed me on the daily. This class consistently blew me out of the water with the level of awesome that you achieved on stuff I assigned.

Whether we were talking about Beowulf, Macbeth, or you were talking in your book clubs, the stuff you came up with was awesome and so uniquely YOU.

Oh and Cody? #merica

Sixth hour, Thank you for being my after lunch class. You guys won as the class who, hands down, had the best class discussions.  You also laughed the hardest at my stories and jokes, which means you win.

I will miss your ridiculous randomness, your tireless effort to get out of work, and how shocked you all were when you realized that you could do amazing things (like write really well and read a whole book and love it).

I will miss how great you could make me feel even though it was the afternoon and I wanted to be tired.

I do give side-eye to all of you who brought in delicious-looking snacks and never shared with me. #justsayin’

Although thanks for not leaving a mess because messes = mice and bugs. Mice and bugs = GROSS.

Seventh hour, Thanks for being, by far, the chillest last hour of the day I have ever had in thirteen years in the teaching business. I know anyone who walked in my room did a double take because they couldn’t believe you all were working so hard and so quietly. I like to say I am such a BA teacher that I made you that way, but you are all just that cool.

Instead of being wild banshees at the end of the day, you guys knew to get your shiz done and get on with it. I like that.

Well, except you, Nick. You were totally out of control. #sarcasmfont

All of you…

I know you’re giggling as I get sappy here because you know there were times you did nothing in my class. I know that too. I mean, it wasn’t perfect.

There were things that I could have done differently to make you all more successful, and there were definitely things some of you could have done differently to have a better ending to this school year.

But what it came down to was this: you guys made me want to be a better teacher each day. You made me want to try new things that would help more students. And you LET me try those things–like the book clubs–without too much complaint, and even with a whole lot of encouragement.

You were honest with me.

You were fun.

You were serious.

You were ridiculous.

You were totally weird.

You were random.

You were you.

And I am going to miss each and every one of you (yes, even you).

Because I know you think teachers taking selfies is hilarious.

Because I know you think teachers taking selfies is hilarious.

I want you to know I am proud of each of you. EACH OF YOU has something from my class to be proud of. I have been praying for each of you this entire school year.

I am so happy to have been a tiny part of each of your lives.

Thank you.

~Mrs. Sluiter

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!” 

(Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss)

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