In the End

Today marks the end of NaBloPoMo: thirty days of solid, uninterrupted blog posts.


Part of me wants to keep going just to see how long I can go. The other part of me wants to slap the first part of me for being insane.

The thing is, I have learned some things from all this key-pounding.

For one, I learned that I can, in fact, carve out a slice of time every day to write. Some days it’s only about 5 minutes, but I consciously take the time. It’s been good for me mentally, I think. I feel like I was able to write about stuff as I thought about it rather than saying, “That would make a good blog post…someday.”

By hitting “publish” every day, I also learned that I probably don’t have to hit publish every day. The fact that I sat down to write is the good part. In fact, there are some posts that could stand to have stayed drafts to be revisited later. They just didn’t quite say what I wanted…or at least not the way I wanted to say it.

Not everything I write is gold, but dang if I didn’t write some good stuff this past month. At least in my lowly opinion it was good stuff. And I learned that writing begets writing. I’m sort of afraid to stop because I’m afraid if I skip a day, I will skip another day, and then a week, and then I will be rarely posting again. When I post only rarely, I start putting pressure on myself to write amazing things every time. So then I don’t post because I think what I’ve got to say isn’t good enough to break a silence of days of non-posts. It’s a stupid cycle.

Writing every day also forces me to think like a writer. Everything I do becomes fodder for a post, and I find myself jotting notes on post its, my planner, and even my hand. I write notes on my church bulletin and on receipts. Sometimes it’s singular words. I had “white church” written on a post-it that I carried around until I wrote about it last week.  Sometimes it’s a topic or a phrase. Sometimes I write a bunch of stuff in a notebook and use that to craft a post. I have been looking at my life through my writer’s lens this whole month, and that has felt good.

Lastly, I have learned…or actually reaffirmed…that I am a procrastinator. I never finished my days post (ok, I never even sat down to write them) until the evening. There were nights when–and Cortney can attest to this–I have been crabby and annoyed because I had  to still write something.

But I did it. Every day I did it.

The Importance of a Friend

Being invited over or out feels good–regardless whether I can go or not. It’s being invited anyway because she wants me there.

Insisting on taking a selfie with me because she doesn’t have enough pictures of us together feels good. Even if I look ragged and tired from shopping all day.

Asking about my family and life feels good–even if there is not much to report.

Telling me about her life and thoughts and feelings feels good–even if I don’t have advice. It’s good to feel trusted. And needed.

Being reassured that this is just a season of my life–the one with tiny kids, making it hard to get away spontaneously–and that she will be there when I can get away more feels good.

Sipping champagne and laughing about the past and giggling about the present and wondering about the future feels good because it’s in those seemingly mediocre moments that life is most joyous.

Laughter with a friend is like a warm blanket over cold feet; it’s needed and cozy at the same time.

photo courtesy of my friend Trisha and her insistence that we get a selfie at 1am.

photo courtesy of my friend Trisha and her insistence that we get a selfie at 1am.

Getting Crafty


I am not a crafting kind of mom. But of course I have two little boys who LOVE to do crafts.

This usually means when they ask if they can do crafts, I get out paper and crayons. The end. They can do their crafts at school/daycare.

Sometimes I let Eddie “do crafts” during his little brother and sister’s nap time. That means stuff is everywhere and I get hives. There is no rhyme or reason, just scraps of supplies everywhere.


When I heard about Avery & Austin I thought it was the perfect idea! You get a box delivered to your house with everything in it for a “perfect play date:” a couple crafts (with everything you need right down to glue!), a healthy snack for two, and a cute hostess gift.

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The November box had a photo theme. Each boy got to assemble a wooden model camera and then paint it (wooden model kit even includes sandpaper! and Avery & Austin supplied wood glue and acrylic paint AND brushes).

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Then there were cardboard frames to decorate with stick on leaves. They even came with magnets so you can frame pictures on the fridge when you are done.

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There were little speaking bubbles to write on too with a wood dowel–a prop for all the fun pictures that would be taken. Charlie asked me to write “help” on his. It was appropriate.

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OMG my hair. This is what “pj day” looks like in Sluiter Nation.

I mentioned a healthy snack. Eddie wasn’t a fan, but Charlie–my uber-picky eater–devoured his bag and most of his brother’s bag. WIN!

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I have to say, I had some reservations. Even pre-planned crafts scared me a little, but it took up a huge chunk of our morning, created almost no mess (that’s right, even with paint!) and the boys loved it! They were so excited to put together a planned craft rather than have me just shove crayons and paper at them.

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We had fun! And I can’t wait until the December box! It will be perfect for a day over Christmas break!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am an ambassador for Avery & Austin, but I do not have to create blog posts. I just did because A) I am trying to post every day in November and B) We really had a great time with the crafts. I was truly impressed.


Being an adult is really nothing like I thought it would be when I was little.

I remember feeling like there would be nothing better than to be a grown-up. Nobody told them what to do. They could eat whatever and whenever they wanted without having to ask. They got to drink soda. They didn’t have a bed time. They didn’t have to worry about what shows they watched because no one was going to tell them to turn it off because it was “smut”.

Adults don’t have to live with their siblings and “get along”. They don’t have to refrain from “snotty tones” or rolling their eyes. They get to boss people around without being told “quit being bossy.”

I thought becoming a grown up would somehow be like getting let into an exclusive cool club of non-stop awesome.

Not quite.

In fact, there are times when being an adult really sucks the big one.

There are a multitude of little reasons of course–like people really do tell us what to do (they are called our bosses and the government), eating whatever we want makes us unhealthy, eating whenever we want means we are up all night with a gut-ache, drinking soda will probably kill us, bed time is actually earlier than when we were kids, and, well, Ok. We do get to watch whatever TV program we want–as long as the small children are in bed, which means no, we don’t.

But there are bigger things too.

The pain of having experience sometimes stinks. Knowing our kids (and students) are going to go through stupid crap because that is what middle school and high school and even sometimes elementary school is sometimes.

The pain of losing people to moving, breakups, divorce, and even death.

The way pain and loss are juxtaposed with every day, mundane things. Adulting is weird.

Today I went to a funeral. After that funeral, Cortney took me out for lunch. Then I had to buy the boys winter boots.

It’s just strange how one minute you are feeling a great loss and feeling like your insides are going to come out of your eyes, and the next you are talking about the Christmas shopping budget over sandwiches with your spouse. Then you are comparing boot sizes and prices.

How is that possible all in one day?

As a kid, if something made me hurt, I felt my hurt. I crawled in bed and hurt until I didn’t anymore. And chances are that whatever made me hurt was nothing compared to the death of a colleague or watching middle schoolers lose someone that was like family to them. And yet I could hurt as long as I needed because I had no one else I was responsible for.

Being an adult means I hurt, then I move on because there are four other people in this house depending on me to help keep life going.

I hug co-workers and smile through tears about the love Abbey spread in her short life. Then I decide between zip or tie boots.

I don’t really know where I am going with this–which I suspect is another side effect of being an adult. I just know today was weird.

The Keepsake I Don’t Have

If I could go back and change one thing, I would change what I chose from my Grandmother’s house after she died.

My maternal grandma, Grandma Jo, passed away from Alzheimer’s in January of 2001. After she passed and my mom and her sisters had gone through her things, the grandkids were allowed to go through before they had the estate sale.

It was the first time in a few years I had even been in my grandma’s house; she had been in nursing homes for some time. Nothing was where it should be. Everything was spread out because it had all been appraised and tagged for sale. My Grandma Jo was something of a pack rat.

Ok, she was totally a hoarder. The woman had lived through the Depression as a kid; she had lived on welfare after divorcing her useless husband. “Waste not, want now” was her motto. In fact, my mom often tells stories of having to wash bread bags so they could reuse them.

Her deep freeze was full. She lived alone.

We found jugs of prune juice that she had gotten from the welfare store when my mom was a kid.

She really never got rid of anything.

But that was also always the wonder of her house. She had so many interesting things packed away. As kids there were endless things to discover. Bur after she died, it was all hauled out into the open. How would I know where to start looking for anything? I hadn’t even thought about what I would want.

Almost 15 years later, I know exactly what I should have taken.

The holidays always remind me of my Grandma Jo. She is forever woven into Christmas for me: I hear her voice in Christmas carols, I taste her baking in the treats, I smell her perfume in church, I see her in the big, multi-colored lights on my Christmas tree.

On a Sunday after dinner, all my cousins, brothers, and I would get to help her decorate her way-too-fat-for-the-room Christmas tree. We danced around excitedly as she brought down boxes and boxes of ornaments, lights, and garland. An adult would string the lights–always multi-colored, mismatched, and tacky–and then wrap the tree in garland. Then it was our turn.

The first box would lose its lid and reveal balls and balls of napkins in which ornaments were hidden. Some fragile and antique, but most handmade and quite gaudy.

Oh they were wonderfully terrible! We would each open a napkin as if unwrapping a precious jewel and hold it high for everyone to see before placing it on the tree.

Grandma would get out other decorations too.

The one that I wish I had been able to get was by far my favorite. It was Christmas to me. Once Grandma had it out, it was Christmas. That was it.

It was a white plastic church that plugged into the wall. When switched on, a single clear Christmas light bulb illuminated the church, which had one stained glass (plastic) window. But the best part of this church? You could turn a small crank on the back to have it play “Silent Night”.

Every single Sunday leading up to Christmas I would crank that church. Christmas Even I would crank it many times until my mom told me to leave it alone.

What I wouldn’t give to have that plastic church.

I think of it every single Christmas and wish for my Grandma.

I bake all the treats she made. I decorate my tree in the tackiest way possible. I sing the Christmas carols. I put an orange in the toe of my kids’ stockings like she did for ours.

I don’t need the church to know she’s here, but I sure do miss her.

hearts breaking

My second year of teaching, a senior died in a jet-ski accident.

There were suicides.

There was a swimming accident.

There was a drunk driving accident–that one claimed two lives.

I’ve been in those horrible before school emergency staff meetings. The ones where it is horribly quiet and no one is making eye contact with each other.

Grief counselors on site for those who need someone to talk with or to cry with.

I am not down-playing those tragedies. They were awful and they rocked our schools.

But today was a category all it’s own.

This morning I stood in front of my first hour and had to deliver the news that one of the teachers had died suddenly the night before.

Because it is only my second year teaching in the school, and she and I teach different grades, I’ve only chatted with her a couple times, but I knew she was a student-favorite. I knew she was extremely close with much of the staff.

I stood in front of the class thinking I could read the script clearly, but I started to tremble. I knew the words after I said, “I am so sorry to have to inform you…” were going to absolute wreck my students.

And they did.

It was a short paragraph, but the sobs and sniffling started immediately.

They are just children, and someone they loved has been taken from them. Stolen.

Immediately I wanted to shelter my students. I wanted to not read the words. I wanted them to be protected from the pain for just a bit longer.

But I couldn’t. I had to break their hearts.

Those hearts were not alone, though. Immediately we brought kids to the ears and shoulders and arms they needed. Teachers postponed plans. We listened. We shared, but mostly we listened.

Between classes, the halls were quiet for the first few hours. Students found friends and fell into each other’s arms.

Administrators from all the other buildings stopped in.

Past staff were in the halls for faculty and students.

Teachers experienced grief hand-in-hand and side-by-side with their students.

At the end of the day, we were “debriefed”.

Exhausted, tear-stained faces gathered. Those who knew her best shared –and I was once again overcome with the wonderful person she was and how I wished I had gotten to know her better.

We were encouraged to take care of ourselves this weekend because today, we took care of our students first.

It’s what Abbey would have done.


Please pray for the students and staff of Wyoming Public Schools and for the family and friends of Abbey Czarniecki.

Musical Confessions

So posting every dang day in November is hard. It forces me to concentrate on my commute. I hate to concentrate on my commute. Especially my morning commute. That is supposed to be 35-minutes of coffee-drinking and rocking out to get ready for a big day of herding cats. Or teaching middle school. Same difference.

Anyway. Driving and thinking. Driving and listening to music and thinking.

Today I started thinking about what I listen to and I realized something: I’m a music snob who maybe deserves to have her music snob card revoked.

First, let me share my presets with you. I have Sirus XM because I am in my car a lot and my husband loves me. So this is what I have: Pop2K (Pop music from the 2000’s), Faction (Punk, older rap, and some harder rock), Pearl Jam Radio (self-explanatory), Classic Rewind (classic rock from the 80’s), Backspin (rap/hip hop from the 80’s and 90’s), and Lithium (90’s grunge and alternative).

I also listen to more Kidz Bop than I care to admit. But here I am admitting stuff, so you know.  Perhaps that is it’s own confession.

You should know I also openly mock people who enjoy country music (because OMG it’s so whiny) and hair bands (not all of them, but if you try to convince me that Slayer or Winger are quality musicians, I will dismiss you from ever talking to me about music again).

With all that noted, here is where I fail at music snobbery…

I hate Rush. I am well aware that people who love rock music think this band is HUGE. Getty Lee’s voice makes me want to scratch my own ears off. I simply cannot change the channel fast enough. My soul erodes a little every time a note of their work reaches my ears.

I hate Coldplay. I don’t care how attractive (or not) Chris Martin is, he sounds like a whiny cat.

And while we are on the subject of whiny music, Radiohead actually makes me think death would be a better option than having Radiohead be the last music on earth. I blame “OK Computer”. One of my roommates in college played “Karma Police” so much I started to think that was what hell actually sounded like. As in hell wasn’t a place, but a sound that you lived in and Thom York’s voice whining was that sound.

I have bought albums strictly for the radio song, and then listened to just that song (or songs). I know. This is like the cardinal sin for music snobs. In fact, to show what a damn hypocrite I am, I have gone to concerts and mocked the people who only knew the radio songs. Granted, I have never gone to see a band based only on radio songs, but I have bought CDs for that reason. Oh? You want an example? How about every Madonna album ever. Except for her recent ones because yuck (<–probably another reason I’m getting kicked out of Music Snob Club).

I don’t get why people like Adele. There. I said it. Her song, “Hello”? More like hell no. I couldn’t even listen to the whole thing. As Cortney said, I kept wanting to finish it with “…is it me you’re looking for?”

I really, really love “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. As in I crank it up and holler-sing along. Every time. Ever since the song was released in the 90’s. Even when everyone I knew was saying, “that is the most annoying effing song I have ever heard.” I was secretly adding it to my I Will Love You Forever list of songs.

Do you know what the funniest (or maybe most terrifying) thing about writing all these down? Someone, maybe even you, will get incredibly offended that I hate something you love. Music is weird that way. As Madonna says (and I’m clearly paraphrasing here), it can bring the people together. But it can also rip people apart.

Case in point: I never got so many people riled up as I did the year I live-Facebooked the MTV video awards and announced that I think Brittany Spears is not an icon because it mostly sounds like she is singing underwater in a baby voice.

People were UP. IN. ARMS.

The great thing is, I don’t care. I’m not trying to change your opinions; I’m just admitting mine–my less popular ones.

So now I want to hear your less-than-popular music confessions. Unless they are that you hate Pearl Jam.

Then we can no longer be friends.


(no, I’m not.)

love languages

Are you familiar with the five love languages?


Well it turns out, my love language is gifts, and I have been sort of embarrassed about that since I took that dumb quiz and found out. I mean, doesn’t that make me seem greedy and superficial if the way to my heart is buying me stuff?

But you know what? It’s true. The thing that makes me feel loved is getting gifts. But it’s not the actual gift  that matters. As cliche as it is, it truly is the thought.

It means someone either thought of me and wanted to get me something, OR someone saw something and immediately thought of me. Knowing that I was thought of even when I wasn’t there makes me feel good.

I don’t even really need the gift. Sometimes a text message is a gift. Or a picture sent to me of something that brings me to mind.

I’m not talking about getting showered in jewelry and extravagant clothes or electronics. I mean the grocery store flowers Cortney buys on a whim because they are full or oranges and yellows and he knows those are my favorite flower colors.

Or package of Oreos that suddenly appears in the pantry because he knows I’ll want a little treat after a hard day.

It’s the unexpected jar of homemade soup that The Preacher’s Wife sets down next to me in my pew at church with only a quick hug.

It’s the hilarious pin my best friend sends to me because when she sees a borderline inappropriately funny saying, she thinks of me.

It’s the book someone sends to me for my classroom because they know that is one of my biggest passions.

It’s the carefully selected Christmas or birthday gift from a family member or friend…not because they are required to get me anything, but because they know something special from them will make me smile.

To be fair, scoring very close to gifts is “words” as my runner-up love language. This is probably because I see verbal “pats on the back” to be something that people tend to leave unsaid, but that can make all the difference when they are said.

“You’re doing a great job.”

“You are a great mom.”

“You are a wonderful teacher.”

“I appreciate you.”

Gifts and words are also my preferred way to let someone know I love them and am thinking about them as well. I would love to be able to afford to send every one of my friends and family members carefully selected gifts on their birthdays or to warm their new houses or to celebrate the successes or just to let them know I am thinking about them, but due to finances, I usually have to rely on my words and hope they are enough.

I’ve tried to change my love language to something easier for other people. It seems so demanding to “need” presents or constant affirmations. I’ve tried to be a “touchy feely” person. But oh my goodness. No. (Sorry, Cortney).

I’ve tried to take the gift of time, but that never works out. Yes, I appreciate spending time with people…I even love it. But as an introvert, I re-energize by being on my own (and not touched).

Don’t get me wrong, I have friends who definitely thrive on time, acts, and touch–very extroverty friends. And it’s cool. I love to do things with them, do things for them, and hug them.

But if you are reaching out to love me? I respond more to gifts and words.

And I’m deciding right now that it’s ok.

So what is your love language? Do you find it hard to love someone who has totally different love needs than you?

feeding a hungry soul

Today did not start well.

Without throwing blame around, I’ll just say that Sunday mornings are a variation of hard. We have never  had a smooth Sunday morning in the history of ever.

I sat down in church grumpy and annoyed, and just not even wanting to be there. In fact, I came THIS close to shoving my Sunday school story at Cortney and saying, “I am staying home alone. Tell them I am sorry, but I can’t come do this today.” In fact the only reason I got in the car with my family was because my 2nd and 3rd graders were depending on me being there, and I did not want to put our VERY pregnant Pastor of Young Families in a pickle by not showing up.

While Cortney settled Charlie into nursery and I tried to get Eddie and Alice situated in our pew, my soul sister friend (The Preacher’s Wife) plunked a bag of wonderful soup, bread, and treats next to me, hugged me quickly, and whispered, “this small treat is just for you. Do NOT share.” It was HER birthday today, and she was feeding MY tummy and soul.

Then the message, of course, was something I also needed to hear. I wish I had been able to better concentrate, and truthfully I wish it had been longer. I wish there was more. I needed to be fed today. My heart and soul and spirit were very exhausted and hungry.

Once church was over and I had the kids fed and occupied, I realized I didn’t have time to get done what needed to get done for school today before we had to pack up the family and go to a birthday party.

Charlie didn’t get a nap and Alice only napped for 45 minutes.

I laid on the couch with a slight tummy-ache (stress-related, not actual sickness) for about 30-minutes because if I had tried to do the things on my To Do List, I would have just started crying. So I rested.

The birthday party was for my just turned 2-year old nephew, Ezra. We also got to meet our niece (his sister) for the first time. She was so tiny, and once she was placed in my arms (wearing an outfit Alice wore) everything inside of me calmed.

The sadness I had about giving Alice’s rock n play away left. The stress tummy-ache went away. And the pang of regret about having no more babies even left. She was perfect and lovely and…not mine.

Then I looked at my beautiful sister-in-law. She looks so tired. So beautifully new-momish, but so tired. I wanted to take her in my arms and rock her until she fell asleep. I wanted to whisk all of the people out of her house to my house and give her some hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I’m still tired and a little grumpy that I didn’t get all done that I had planned. I still really REALLY need some hours alone at some point. My heart and soul are still pretty tired.

But being with friends and family today did much more for me than I could imagine.

I am pretty damn lucky.

when the words won’t come

I’m currently very stressed out.

The work week is over, but I still have things that I had to take home with me. I’m not even sure they will get done because we have so much else going on.

This is another non-post.


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