Correction

I have cancer.

Correction: I had cancer.

On March 22, I had my first mammogram. They called me back because there was some dense, weird-looking tissue in my left breast they wanted a second look at.

“Don’t freak out,” I was told. “About 1 in 5 women get called back after their first mammogram because we don’t have anything to compare it to.”

I showed up completely not freaked out on the morning of Friday, April 6. They redid the mammogram.  Then they took another couple pictures.

Then they wanted an ultrasound.

Then they were ultasounding my armpit and that is when I knew–they found something they didn’t like. Why else would they now be looking in my armpit–where my lymph nodes are? I started to mildly freak out.

Eventually the radiologist (to this date the only person who had any part in my care that I have not liked), came in and told me that they found concerning tissue and that it needed to be biopsied. I started to sweat.

When the radiologist left the room, a nurse stepped forward and hugged me and I began to cry. She held my hand and said, “do NOT worry. We will take good care of you. We will get this all taken care of. YOU. WILL. BE. FINE.”

I am so grateful for her.

For those of you who don’t know, we live in a part of Michigan that has some of the top medical professionals in the country concentrated in something called the Medical Mile about a thirty-minute drive from my house. The cancer center was able to get me in that same day for a biopsy.

The doctor who did my biopsy did a good job of preparing me for the fact that it looked a whole lot like cancer. However, she also told me that it was so very small–that it was incredibly lucky that I had my mammogram and found it this tiny. I could have hugged her, but she had needles in my bewb, so that seemed inappropriate and a little dangerous.

The results came back the following Tuesday during my planning hour as cancer. I was expecting it. I think Cortney and my mom took the news a bit harder. My first question to the nurse who called with my results was, “now what? What do we do to get it out of me?” She gave me a few options and I told her I would talk to my husband and call her right back.

I called her back 8 minutes later. I don’t think she understood that I mean I wanted to get the ball rolling NOW.

By the time I had taught my two afternoon classes, a call came back from the surgeon I requested to be referred to: they had assembled an entire team for me and could I meet everyone in one big appointment in a week and a half?

Hell yes, I could.

So we met the team on April 18. I met my surgeon, my oncologist, my physical therapist, a nutritionist, and some nurses. All badass women ready to get this cancer out of me.

Because my grandma and my aunt on my dad’s side both had the same thing (only they were about 25 years older than I am when they were diagnosed), I qualified for genetic testing. On April 30, I did that. I chose the largest panel of genes to be tested because A) it used the same amount of blood as the smaller panels and B) it all cost the same. Why not get as much information as possible, right?

While we waited for the results, my surgery was set for May 10.

Genetic results show absolutely no genetic mutations that would increase my risk of breast cancer or breast cancer-related cancers. This means there is no increase risk of reappearance or spreading. This meant lumpectomy was still the best choice and there was no need to remove my breasts at this time.

And so May 10 arrived, and I had my own correction: a tumor and three lymph nodes removed. Cancer Corrected. Hopefully.

Next week Wednesday we have an appointment to discuss treatment options to make sure this cancer does not come back. Those treatments are scarier to me than the surgery was. But it is what it is, right?

I’m fine.

I will continue to be fine.

I’m just an emotional patient right now who wants to get back to her life as quickly as possible and put all this behind me and my family.

Because through all of this, it is Cortney and my kids who I worry most about.

We Move Along

When everything is wrong, we move along

Since turning 40, a lot of wonderful things have happened. But one big ugly not wonderful thing happened too. I am not yet comfortable bringing all to the public, but our close friends and family know.

What I am comfortable saying is that we are moving along. Our family is getting through it. We are strong.

And that is all because of the kindness and love that has been flowing over us this past month as we bring more and more friends and family into the know about this dumb thing that is happening.

It has felt, at times, that absolutely everything was wrong.

But we didn’t let that feeling last because it wasn’t true. One ugly thing was wrong, but everything else was wonderful. We have a wonderful life and wonderful people in it.

And we will keep moving along with the help and prayers of those people.

We move along one step and one answer at a time. And hopefully, soon, we will move beyond this.

We will stay strong.

When all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along
Just to make it through

Thank you to everyone who has offered thoughts, prayers, and other acts of kindness to our family over the past month. We love you and feel you walking with us.

We Move Along lyrics by All American Rejects

Sentimental Teeth

I knew that parenthood would be a series of sentimental throat punches. I knew I would cry at certain milestones. I wasn’t one of those people who said, “who gets upset by a haircut?” I knew those things would get to me.

But there are things that I was not prepared to feel all mushy and sappy about. I wasn’t prepared to look at outgrown clothes and want to hold on to them even though no one would ever wear them again if I did. I wasn’t ready for seeing a small person in a large backpack. And I surely never expected to become attached to teeth.

TEETH. A human body part.

A couple years ago, we found a little box with teeth in it at my parents’ house. My mom said it was one of our (me or my brothers) baby teeth. We were all entirely grossed out. Why in the WORLD would anyone keep those things? Ew. It’s like having a box of human hair or clipped finger nails lying around. WHY?

But then my own children started losing their baby teeth.

When the dentist told us that Eddie had wiggly teeth three years ago, I felt oddly sad. “First ones in, first ones out,” she said to me about the bottom two. I remembered those two teeth coming in. How it felt like we could feel them in his gums forever until one day…pop!…they both poked through at the same time.

When the first one fell out and Cortney Tooth Fairy-ed it, he handed it to me, “Here. I don’t know what you want to do with this.”

I had fully planned to throw it away because it’s a tooth. But I looked at that tiny chicklet tooth…that baby tooth…and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t throw it out, so I put it in a baggie to deal with later. But later turned into more teeth joining it in that baggie. And an index card with the date each fell out.

Charlie lost his first tooth last week.

AND HE WAS ALL CAPS EXCITED ABOUT LOSING HIS FIRST TOOTH. And so was I! It’s a big deal!

But there was that little twinge of sadness again.

Teething was so so so SO hard on Charlie. He suffered forever before those little things popped through. Teething definitely hit Charlie more than my other two. He got all four front teeth almost simultaneously, but not after long-suffering high fevers, projectile vomit and poops that left him with diaper rash so bad it caused his tiny booty to bleed. We had to get a special prescription butt cream for him that cost somewhere around a million dollars (it was like magic though, and definitely worth the cost).

I spend hours rocking him and soothing him through that horrible teething. He’s a tough little dude and bounced back right after those teeth popped through.

So I did it again. After Cortney tooth fairy-ed, he handed me the tiny chicklet tooth and I put a card in the bag with “right, front bottom–3/26/18” written on it. Then I stuffed that gross tooth bag next to Eddie’s gross tooth bag in my jewelry box.

Someday my kids will find them and be all “ewww. mom! Why?!?”

And I’ll probably just shrug and smile and say, “it seemed like the thing to do.”

Forty

I have tried to write this at least a dozen different ways, but nothing sounds right.

What I have to say is this: Today I am 40.

As my dad says, “it’s better than the alternative,” and I guess he is pretty right. I would rather be 40 than dead.

I don’t feel 40…or at least, I don’t feel like what I thought 40 would feel like. Which is dumb, because how did I know what 40 would feel like?

My mom is who I compare myself to the most (she would tell you I shouldn’t do that, but it is what it is)

She had a 15, 12, and 7 year old when she was 40.

I have an 8, 6, and 3 year old.

She was going back to college to get her BA while working full time, momming full time, and wife-ing full time.

I am going back to college to get my PhD while working full time, momming full time, and wife-ing full time.

She kept the house so clean you could eat off every surface, but she would yell at you if you ate anywhere but the kitchen. And she would find your crumbs.

My house is barely picked up. We have a cleaning lady every other week, and I am sure she thinks we are part bovine. I think my mom probably cringes coming over, but she will never admit it because she loves me too much (but I have found my stove top scrubbed after she has been there watching the kids).

I don’t ever remember my mom caring about her age. She always shrugged if off if we tried to tease her about getting older.

I’m trying to be like that too.

I don’t really care.

Not really.

But a little I do.

A little bit of me gets panicky at getting older…being that much closer to not being.

But I have an anxiety disorder and my mom does not.

My mom has always made me feel less anxious.

Even now that I am forty.

I am going to have a very good decade.

Forty is going to be great.

I will just keep telling myself that.

Forty.

 

More Than a Handful

Dear Charlie Bird,

Yesterday you turned six.

Unfortunately I have my grad class on Tuesday nights this semester which meant I was going to not see you all day. That seemed wrong, so we decided to both play hooky from school and spend the day together before I had to go to class. I took a personal day and excused you from Kindergarten. When you woke me up just after 8am, you had already made a list of how we were going to spend out day that included: breakfast, playing megablocks, relaxing and watching TV, meeting daddy at McDonald’s (the one with the play place) for lunch, getting your free cupcake from Barnes and Noble, and baking your birthday cake.

We did all those things and much more. It was a busy day, but we both agreed it was one of our favorite days in a long, long time.

It’s hard to believe that you are six already. Time flies when you are laughing and screaming and loving and pouting. You started this life as such a mellow kid; I should have known you would be my greatest roller coaster.

This past year has brought lots of changes and growing pains for you. Kindergarten has been wonderful and challenging. You have learned a lot very quickly, and sometimes in the exhaustion of all that learning and growth, your toddler needs for screaming and cuddling sneak out. We find out precious little about your day because you keep things very close to yourself. You refer to kids in your class as “the classmate who I don’t sit by anymore,” rather than giving us names. We have to ask very pointed questions if we want specific info, and even then there is a good chance you will flat out not share with us.

You play your cards very close to your chest and prefer not to be a snitch. Not bad qualities, my son. Just not qualities that I am used to since Eddie and I are so different. Where we verbalize literally everything that comes into our brain, you ponder things for a long time before you speak on them. And even then you may not say anything, more like your daddy than your mom mom.

You are still my lightest, pickiest eater. Some days you refuse foods that I know you like. You like control and I think this is a way you can feel like you have control when nothing else seems sure. I worry about this. Thankfully, you seem to go in phases and I have been assured that for your age this is completely normal. And you seem receptive when the doctors tell you that you need to choose healthful foods if you want to be fit enough for sports–which you love.

This fall you played soccer for the first time and loved it! You are already asking when the next season is. This spring you will play baseball, but you wish it was soccer.

I guess you are what people mean when they say “strong, silent type.” You are a tough kid, yes, but your strength is mostly in personality. You may not give much of yourself away–at least not until you warm up–you definitely have your own sense of humor and style. You have a quick wit and a response to everything. Many times it’s unkind since you refuse to be left speechless.

While your personality and stubborn streak are strong, so is your ability to love. You thrive on closeness and touch and still cuddle up very close to me the way you have ever since you were born. While quiet, that does not mean you don’t need the arms of your mom mom. And your lovies. Your bed is a veritable zoo of lovies–each one special for a different reason. Each one fulfilling a purpose for you.

You are clever and enjoy problem-solving. You like to create new games by drawing game boards, making up rules with cards, making our rubiks cube a die to roll for the game, and so on. You are constantly dreaming up things you can create with recycling that is set out for the bin or bits of paper and endless tape. No seriously, you go through tape like you are getting paid per use. We almost gave you some for Christmas so you would stop using ours.

You love to play games with me, daddy, and Eddie (and even Alice in a pinch, but that never ends well), but you are also very content to play alone with your blocks, Legos, and trucks. You can play with play-doh for hours.

You have a hard time with the word, “no,” as I think most six-year olds do. Heck, even adults struggle with a “no” answer. Being told “no” often triggers very BIG FEELINGS that you are still having a hard time finding a positive outlet for.

Even though you still struggle with verbalizing the Big Feelings that overwhelm you, and sometimes the only words you can find are extremely hurtful, there is no doubt in my mind that you feel loved and a part of this family. The other day I caught you singing a little song that both made me smile and laugh:

I am loved.
I am loved.
I am so loved.
I am loved by my mommy.
I am loved by my daddy.
I am loved by Alice.
I am loved sometimes by Eddie.

Even when my mom is stupid.
Even when my dad is stupid.
Even when Alice is stupid.
Even when Eddie is always stupid.
Even when In am mean and bad…

I am still loved.

You didn’t know I heard you, so I kept my giggles to myself. You are trying out words that you know are hurtful. When you yell them, we ignore you. When you direct them at us, we let you know they are hurtful. But clearly, you know that no matter what you do, we love you so very much.

I love you so fiercely, Charlie. My biggest fear is that you will think that you could do something to separate yourself from my love–because you can’t. I know you test this theory often, but I think you have noticed a pattern–one that always ends in a hug and an “I love you, Charlie Bird.”

And that is what it comes down to: I love you. So much. It is hard being your mom at times. I definitely feel like I fall short of being what you need since your needs seem so mysterious. I hope I am what you need. I hope I am your soft place to land and the support that will always been there for you.

No matter what.

You will always be my buddy. My Charlie Bird.

Happy Birthday, Birdie.

Love,

Mom Mom

Threenager

Dear Alice,

Today you are three!

You have been looking forward do this day since Christmas. It’s the first year that I think you really understand what a birthday is and that you are getting one.  When asked what you want for your birthday, you enthusiastically declare, “PINK!” So pink it shall be!

Alicita, you are my favorite girl in the whole world. I had no idea I needed you until you arrived. I can’t believe I was so nervous about having a little girl in the house; although I know we have the hormonal teenage years ahead of us, these first three years are nothing like I thought they would be. They have been full of wonder and joy that only a very new soul can bring. Our entire family needed that. Your dad and I had some rough patches, and your brothers are very old souls. You came in as the caboose of our family with all the fascination of a brand new soul.

it is getting VERY hard to get a non-blurry picture of you since you are ALWAYS moving!

I told you your birth story the other night. You laughed and laughed at the idea that you used to live in my belly. Then you asked why I was crying. I didn’t realize until I told you the story how much you have healed me, my sweet daughter. Eddie’s birth traumatic in so many ways; I suffered a long time after. Charlie’s birth showed me how it could be, and when he and I were left alone in our hospital room I whispered to him, “you are not the last.”

When you were born, Alice, everything was how it should be. I knew the minute you snuggled into my arms that you were the caboose–our last baby. But I wasn’t sad. I was filled with joy. Everything about you has been easier–getting up for those middle of the night feedings, putting you to bed at night, even playing has been easier with you. I have felt more natural in my role as your mommy, than I have ever felt before.

Age three is a tough year; I’m not going to lie. I know this because I have been through it with your brothers. This is the year you will grow to be a big girl; you will shed all the baby parts: the boppy (pacifier) will go to the Boppy Fairy and you will (hopefully) potty train. By the time this rotation around the sun is over, you will be be a big girl all ready to go to school. I would be 100% lying to you if I said that I was all excitement about this. You will hear this a lot, but you are the last one. You are my last baby. My last toddler. And now my last Little Kid. It’s hard to let go of a time that was so cute and so much fun, and admit that our entire family is done with those stages.

But LOOK AT YOU! You are such a happy little squish! You are so full of joy, that it’s impossible to stay sad! Since that first day, everything grey in my life has been made sunny by your face, your smile, your deep chuckle. You are the definition of delight, and to experience each new phase with you is nothing short of wonderful. You have a BIG personality and the facial expressions to match. You make us all laugh each day.

At age three, here are some things about you:

  • You love the color pink. LOVE IT. When asked what you wanted for Christmas? Pink! For your birthday? Pink! All pink, all the time.
  • Your favorite toys are your baby dolls, but specifically your Bitty Baby who you have named “Baby-cita”

  • You call me “Mommy-cita” and have made up a song that goes, “Mommy-cita went to town, EIEIO!” that you sing often and loudly.
  • You call Daddy either “DA DEE” or “DAD DOOOOO!”
  • You think you want to do everything your brothers do–like play in the snow–until you realize you don’t like to be uncomfortable (for instance you were instant that Santa would bring you snow pants and boots, but when you got them, you realized that snow is cold, and refused to go out in it).

  • You LOVE books.
  • You love to sing and dance.
  • You LOVE shoes and accessories and anything fancy.
  • You love to play dress up and pretend, and you are a wee bit bossy about it.

  • You love to do whatever I am doing which includes dressing the same, putting on pretend make-up, cooking, reading…you are my little shadow.
  • You hate when we tell you “no,” and will cry and pout and try to wait us out. Your stubbornness runs deep.
  • You will sit in your room to cry, and then come out to tell us that you are “done crying” or “ready to be nice.”
  • You are my pickiest eater…by FAR.
  • You love candy and sweets and carbs.

  • You favor me over your dad lately, which is weird for me because at this age both of your brothers favored your dad.
  • You are our most affectionate child–you love hugs and snuggles and holding hands and giving kisses
  • You love to count and can get up to twelve before starting to repeat numbers or make stuff up.
  • You tell me often that you are a “strong girl” and then you show me your muscles.
  • You never, ever call Charlie “Charlie;” it is ALWAYS “Birdie.”
  • Your favorite food other than candy is breakfast carbs like pancakes or french toast or muffins or cinnamon rolls or donuts.

Alice, you not only make our family complete, you make us better. We are a better version of The Sluiters with you as a part of us. I hope we can make your third birthday as beautiful and magical as you are, my sweet girl.

I love you so so much,

Mommy-cita

 

The Memory Tree

I wonder a lot about life after death. In fact, sometimes because of my OCD, I get obsessed and can’t stop thinking about it.

Anxiety disorders are fun.

Anyway, I have done more thinking about not being alive than the average person. It usually starts with the fear of “not being” because I can’t prepare for it. Lack of control or knowing what to expect is a giant anxiety trigger for me.

I know as a Christian, I am supposed to “rest in the salvation of Jesus” knowing that I will have eternal life if I follow him.

But as someone who is not just anxious, but also has a severe case of doubt, that is a hard one for me. I want to believe that when we die, our conscious souls dwell together and we “see” our loved ones again forever. Sounds great.

However I lay awake at night often trying to imagine not being. I think about how there was a time before me, and there will be a time after me. But since I don’t remember “where” I “was” before I was born, I get a bit freaked out about where I will “go” when I am gone. Or will I just be gone?

People often say they know there is life after death because they can “feel” their lost loved ones. I don’t know if this is true or hopeful thinking. There are times when I feel something, and it makes me think of those I’ve loved who have passed on. Is that them? Or is it just a memory of them? Is the memory actually them? I don’t know.

Since having kids, my fears of death and what happens have deepened since I worry about leaving my kids without a mother. I worry they will forget me, and that if I am just “gone,” there will be no way for them to feel my love once I am gone.

As my children get older, however, I’ve started to have a different view. I’ve often referred to Eddie and Charlie as “old souls.” They are such different personalities, but both have a way of thinking that is downright profound. If you follow my #SluitersReadHarryPotter hashtag on Facebook, you already know this. But something they said last week made me pause and wonder about the age of their souls and the depth of their wisdom.

Thursdays I pick the boys up from the after school program around 4:15pm; last week was no different. As we were getting in to the car, Eddie nodded toward the corn field that lies adjacent to their school property on the parking lot side, “Oh. There’s that construction truck.”

There was a parked van in my way of seeing what he had referred to, so I said, “what? construction? where?”

“Over there. They took the big tree down. I miss it. It held my memories.”

I looked at him quizzically as I buckled Charlie in. “What tree are you talking about?”

“The one that was in the middle of that field,” he said indicating again with his head.

Now that I was getting into the driver’s seat, I could see the large yellow back hoe in the middle of the field where I assumed they were extracting a stump. “There was a tree there?”

“Yeah. It was big and old and held my memories. Charlie, you probably don’t remember it because it was taken down at the beginning of the year.”

“No,” Charlie says, “I remember it. It was there at the start of this year. I remember it in that field before they cut it down. You are right, Eddie. It did hold my Kindergarten memories too.”

“Yeah,” sighed Eddie, “and now it’s gone.”

“Wait a minute. That tree held your memories? What does that mean?” I asked.

“Mom. Trees hold memories,” Charlie told me completely annoyed that I didn’t know what they were talking about.

“Yeah, you know. Like in the leaves or something. I don’t really know how it works,” Eddie tried to explain. “I feel like mine are in the leaves. But maybe not because those fall off each year, but the tree keeps the memories. You know, like the tree in our front yard. That has my whole life’s memories.”

“Yup,” Charlie added, “I think the memories are in the branches. But maybe that’s not right either, because I have more memories than how many branches our tree has. But they are in it. It holds them.”

“But you guys, your school memories aren’t gone just because that tree is gone,” I explained.

“Hm. Maybe,” Eddie shrugged.

And that was it. Neither kid talked any further on it. They went on to talking about other, more kid-related things.”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that conversation, and how they both sounded so serious and wise and sure of themselves–not like little kids being goofy and making stuff up, but like elders who tell you about the way the world moves and works.

If there was anything in this world that gave me an indication about life after this world, it is my two boys. The wisdom that comes from them  feels like they pulled it from generations back. That they are somehow connected to those generations in ways that I am not. That certain things aren’t just “new” to them the way they should be for an 8-year old or a 5-year old. I’m not sure how to explain it.

Whatever it is, it brings me comfort. And so does their assertion that trees hold our memories. Perhaps this is why I cried when my dad cut trees out of our yard and/or woods when I was little. Or maybe it’s why I feel so connected to the tree that we planted in our front yard. In fact, no one in the family wants to leave that tree behind when we move some day. Maybe it’s because it holds all the Sluiter Family memories.

March Reading Madness

If I believed in coincidences (which I don’t), I would think it was a giant one that I was born the same month that would come be known as Reading Month.

That said, this March will mark my 40th time around the sun.

I know. I double-checked. It’s true.

I have a lot of unclear thoughts about the big FOUR OH, but maybe that is another post for another time.

This one is about books. And how much I love books. And how much I love sharing books.

Did I ever tell you why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place? Because I wanted to read books and talk about books.

Books are my reason.

You can imagine then my heartbreak when, after asking students to write about their favorite books that have been read aloud to them, I read over and over, “no one ever read to me at home” or “The only books I remember anyone reading to me were at school.”

It’s probably not hard then to understand why those same kids are the ones who struggle to find joy in reading to themselves.

Helping kids–my own as well as my students–find joy in reading is my mountain. It’s my thing. It’s become my reason.

(By the way, if you want to read about me and Eddie reading books that I totally never read as a kid–including Harry Potter–you can hop over to Dr. Steven Bickmore’s YA Wednesday blog)

Anyway, I have spent every last cent of my “extra” income (writing for The Educator’s Room) on new books this year. I also added around 60 titles that I brought home with me from the NCTE & ALAN conferences in St. Louis. I am not kidding when I tell you that almost every single book I’ve brought into my classroom has been snatched up this year. It’s a wonderful problem to have. Each year I do the Reading Workshop model in my class, the more voracious the readers get.

I have even developed quite the reputation for knowing and/or having all the best books and authors.

Anyway, I haven’t asked for many donations this year, but I’m about to. And it’s a big one.

In honor and celebration of March being my fortieth birthday AND it being reading month…

I want to add 40 books to my library!

I am totally going to buy some myself, but I know forty books is totally out of my price range. So I need help.

Will you help?

I have an Amazon Wish List for my Classroom Library. There are many that are less than $10 on there (yay, paperbacks!). There are new releases, replacement books for those that have been loved literally to death in my library, and old favorites that I would love to introduce to my students.

So, I want to give my birthday to my students. Won’t you please help gift them with 40 books before I turn 40?

New Year, New Netflix

Yesterday was World Read Aloud Day which seems to have nothing at all to do with Netflix. Stay with me, though. There’s a connection.

As you all know our family LOVES books. Yesterday for World Read Aloud Day, not only did I get my students involved, we read more than usual out loud at home too.  In fact, this week a post I wrote for Dr. Bickmore’s YA Wednesday Blog was published about the books I read aloud with Eddie and Charlie.

Because we love books so much, we are looking forward to the new stuff Netflix has to offer this year. Much to our excitement, Netflix is bringing some of our favorite books to the screen.

Eddie is looking forward to spring break (March 30, to be exact), when the new season of A Series of Unfortunate Events will be released.

He absolutely binged the first season–more than once. He keeps asking me, “when will there be new episodes? WHEN?” Now I can finally tell him. Of course he reaction to it being March 30 was first excitement (because new episodes), but then “UGG! THAT WILL BE FOREVER!” because 8-year-olds are totally patient, yo.

We are also pretty excited about the new Llama Llama series. Anna Dewdney is a favorite around here.

Not only do we love reading the books together, but Anna Dewdney narrates the ones we have on our tablet devices as well. The kids love the new animated series that brings their favorite Llama to life with Jennifer Garner as Mama Llama. Plus it’s available NOW, so that helps with the wait for new episodes of our other favorites.

For me, I am most excited about Mudbound, a Netflix original film.

I first read this book about five years ago in preparation for using it as one of the literature circles choices for the 12th graders I was teaching at the time. It takes place in 1940’s Mississippi deep in the Jim Crow laws. It’s an excellent portrayal of racism, privilege, and poverty. My students loved it. I loved it. I can’t wait to watch it come to life–especially with Mary J. Blige playing a leading role.

In between homework and reading, we will be cuddled up on the couch with new Netflix.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Netflix provides streaming and a device to steam on while we provide our own opinions. 

Growing Pains

The two big changes of 2018 have taken place and our family is stretching to find our new routine.

First, Cortney’s company has officially moved to their new building. It’s super exciting because it means they are growing and changing, and I am just super proud of the commitment and work he has put into this.

The drive to new building, though, is a significantly longer commute than to his old building. The old building is located a mile from Alice’s daycare, and two miles from the boys’ school. It’s also only 3 miles from our house. All of my people and my home were all in the same spot. I was the one who was over thirty miles away.

Now, Cortney has almost as long of a commute as I have. This means they need to be out the door more on time in the morning, and he and Alice get home 10-15 minutes later in the evening. It also means that I am now on daycare pick up duty on Thursdays since Cortney needs to bust home to leave again for league night bowling.

The other big change is that, while not officially accepted yet, I have started grad school. I’m taking one class (while waiting on whether or not I’ll be accepted to the program) this semester. Some of you may have seen my posts on social media referring to the class I’m taking on Teaching Climate Change. So far it’s a tremendously informative class (albeit terrifying and causing me some anxiety if I am honest. Some of you may have seen my social media posts about the catastrophe our Earth is facing that our politicians are ignoring), and the extra benefit is that it’s dual focus is pedagogy and methodology of including climate change in an English classroom. I’m excited to develop lesson plans.

My class is on Tuesday nights and my commute is about an hour one-way. This all means that I hug my kids at 6:45am on Tuesday and don’t seen them for twenty-four hours. That part is tough, but so is the pile of reading–somehow after ten years of being away from it, I seem to have forgotten (or maybe blocked out?) how much reading is involved in grad classes.

I actually love the reading, but it takes time.

Eddie was not a fan of doing his math homework. He wanted to get back to his book. I can relate.

This means we are trying out a new normal around here. We are doing our homework together. I am doing more homework after they are in bed. I also do homework after school at my desk in my classroom. So far, it’s working.

That’s not to say we aren’t having a few growing pains.

The boys don’t love that we pick up Alice on Thursdays now. They like to go directly home and picking up their little sister feels like a bother. Similarly they also don’t love that I don’t pick them up at all on Tuesdays anymore since I just go to class from school.

We have had to sacrifice Eddie going to his Cub Scout Pack Nights since they always fall on the same Tuesday that Cortney has an executive consistory meeting at church. It means the kids get to hang out with their grandpa and grandma, but it also means bedtime is late those nights, mom’s not home to tuck them in, and everyone gets a little case of the crabbies.

Having grad class means I’ll be in class on both Charlie’s and my birthdays since they fall on Tuesdays this year.

We knew there would be sacrifices that weren’t super fun, but we also know it’s worth it.

Cortney growing his business is his dream.

Getting my PhD is my dream.

Modeling what it means to have a dream or goal and working hard for it is exactly what we want our kids to grow up around.

In fact, I am positive that it is because I grew up in a home with a hardworking dad and goal-oriented mom that I am as determined and passionate about all this as I am.

My only hope is that our kids don’t look back at this time in their life –the one when dad sat and read contracts and mom was stuck at her computer or pouring over a book–as one of being ignored, but one when they learned what passion and hard work look like, and that they decide to go for what they want most in life too.

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