Project 365 {week 13}

My birthday was this week!

There was also vomit this week.

March 23: These two. Peas in a pod.

March 23: These two. Peas in a pod.

March 24: I have the hippest recycle box in the school, yo.

March 24: I have the hippest recycle box in the school, yo.

March 25: After the tummy bug hit 24-hours earlier, this is all I can eat. It got Cortney too.

March 25: After the tummy bug hit 24-hours earlier, this is all I can eat. It got Cortney too.

March 26: Eddie dressed up as the green dot from the Leo Leonni book for dress as a book character day at school. Cutest green dot ever.

March 26: Eddie dressed up as the green dot from the Leo Leonni book for dress as a book character day at school. Cutest green dot ever.

March 27: My birthday. This is what partying on your 36th birthday looks like.

March 27: My birthday. This is what partying on your 36th birthday looks like.

March 28: These actually were sent to school on Wednesday, but I forgot to take a picture today. Cort took me out on a date though, so this picture is related.

March 28: These actually were sent to school on Wednesday, but I forgot to take a picture today. Cort took me out on a date though, so this picture is related.

March 29: This one throws up, but it doesn't seem to faze him. Also, book explosion from a very wonderful internet friend.

March 29: This one throws up, but it doesn’t seem to faze him. Also, book explosion from a very wonderful internet friend. Here’s hoping whatever this Barf Bug is misses Eddie.

I’d rate this week as 97% good with a 3% vomit factor.

Because vomit doesn’t get to count as “good”.

*************

Another GOOD thing is that Three Minus One is available on Amazon! I’m a contributing author. I’m published! In print!

Through The Lens Thursday {March}

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.

I know I’m posting this on a Friday, but that’s because I didn’t have it together because of being sick and then my birthday to have it post yesterday.

I think we will all live.

Anyway, this month I tried to think of cool “takes” on the shots. But mostly it ended up with me going, “aw crap. Through The Lens Thursday is today. I gotta shoot something.”

It’s been busy. But I tried. Here is what I got:

Prompt: Hot  (heh...ok...just kidding, but there is nothing hotter than a good daddy). 50mm fixed 1/60, f/1.8, ISO 100

Prompt: Hot (heh…ok…just kidding, but there is nothing hotter than a good daddy).
50mm fixed
1/60, f/1.8, ISO 100

Prompt: Hot (my real shot) 50mm fixed 1/25,f/4.5, ISO 400

Prompt: Hot (my real shot)
50mm fixed
1/25,f/4.5, ISO 400

prompt: dark 50mm fixed 1/8, f/1.8, ISO 100

prompt: dark
50mm fixed
1/8, f/1.8, ISO 100

prompt: door 50mm fixed 1/30, f/1.8, ISO 100

prompt: door
50mm fixed
1/30, f/1.8, ISO 100

prompt: looking down 50 mm fixed f/4.5, 1/10, ISO 100

prompt: looking down
50 mm fixed
f/4.5, 1/10, ISO 100

So this week was more about keeping up with the habit rather than taking the time for good shots (which is evidenced by that last one…oof). but next month…I can feel it.

Spring is coming and so is better light.

Daylight is lasting longer.

I also have a sweet zoom lens I got for Christmas that I can’t wait to bust out and learn. Tips? Anyone have tips for using a zoom?

Or any other tips? I am pretty much completely dumb about ISO other than I know it makes your photos grainy if it’s too high. Sooo…when would you go high?

Also…come play along! Join our Flickr group!

Birthday Throwback

Today is my 36th birthday.

When I told my students how old I am (because yes, I do that), there were some who were genuinely shocked I was out of my 20′s.

While being 36 does not bother me, it made me smile that my students thought I was so young.

I don’t have much to say about this day, so I will just do a big ol’ #ThrowbackThursday for you.

Enjoy some “Vintage” Katie.

Katie - Bibs & Boots

Just Kickin’ it Katie

Katie - 6 months

6 months of Katie

Katie - ANTM

Model Katie

Preschool Katie

Preschool Katie

Tiger Fan Katie

Tiger Fan Katie

high school Katie

high school Katie

Kate-Senior-Pic-001

Senior Picture Katie

college. nuff said.

College Katie

kates

mid Twenties Katie

34500024

Married Katie

bday5 - Copy

First Time Away from Son Katie

097

Mom Katie

2013-04-27 18.01.44

Mid Thirties Katie

Huh. 36 years and my smile has changed zero.

Nice.

Happy day to me.

Project 365 {week 12}

This week was allegedly the official start of Spring.

Apparently Spring is a bit of a slacker because she’s not really working to show up ’round these parts.

March 16: Who is this KID in my house? I thought I had a baby?

March 16: Who is this KID in my house? I thought I had a baby?

March 17: CHEESE! no, literally. This kid always wants cheese

March 17: CHEESE! no, literally. This kid always wants cheese

March 18: This is our typical after school/daycare routine. Boys on the couch while I make dinner. Every day.

March 18: This is our typical after school/daycare routine. Boys on the couch while I make dinner. Every day.

March 19: After bath I realize...the curls are not totally gone.

March 19: After bath I realize…the curls are not totally gone.

March 20: He likes to cuddle before bed. I do not mind.

March 20: He likes to cuddle before bed. I do not mind.

March 21: Because I haven't taken a #teacherstyle photo in a while. This is what wishing for spring looks like. Shortish sleeves with boots and a scarf.

March 21: Because I haven’t taken a #teacherstyle photo in a while. This is what wishing for spring looks like. Shortish sleeves with boots and a scarf.

March 22: We use Charlie's Barnes & Noble coupon for a free birthday cupcake. We also pick a new book or two. I mean, it's only fair we EACH get one.

March 22: We use Charlie’s Barnes & Noble coupon for a free birthday cupcake. We also pick a new book or two. I mean, it’s only fair we EACH get one.

I wish I could say that like magic the temperatures soared into the 50′s and 60′s this week,

but that is not the truth.

We are still fighting with winter coats and hats here in the Mitten State.

We still pull on boots and expect to see snow in the forecast.

But when the wind blows just right, we can smell the earth.

That means it won’t be winter forever.

Why Are We Reading This?

I’ll admit that even though I’m pretty good at getting my students interested in whatever it is we are reading, but even I get asked those age-old questions…

Why do we need to read this?

How will reading “fill-in-a-title-here” help me in life?

Can’t we just watch the movie?

I get it. I do. If I was a 17-year-old and my teacher plunked Frankenstein on my desk, I would wonder what the heck this old book has to do with my life and my future too.

My answer to students is always the same, “you won’t.  You will not need THIS novel, play, short story, etc. in your life. At least not directly. What you will need is the critical thinking I will make you do ABOUT this piece of literature.”

What is important is that kids read. Period. It really doesn’t matter what they read, as long as they are reading. Reading makes us a better society.

But try telling that to my students. Most teenagers don’t care about studies that tell us that “reading novels makes us nicer and more empathetic.” They don’t want to be nicer.

So READ…but wait. Why read the classics?

I know it’s a bit Old School for someone like me, but I have good reasons for my belief in teaching and reading the classics.

IMG_9615

First of all, I write this as my students are currently struggling with reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Some of them hate it.

They hate it a lot.

Not because it’s a bad story, but because it challenges them to think hard while they read.

I like how Neil Gaiman put it:

it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable.

Frankenstein is a good story. It’s just hard to get through because Shelley–like all writers from her time–enjoy describing something to death.  Gothic literature from the nineteenth century England is not my students’ idea of something they can make connections to.  But they would be wrong, and that is why it’s necessary for kids to read classic works.

I teach The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Macbeth, The Catcher in the Rye, and Of Mice and Men because they are great. As Dr. Leland Ryken puts it,  ”a classic is ‘a performance in words.’” While I encourage my students to read lots of everything they want, I also want them to see what some of the best writing in the world looks like. I want them to know they can find entertainment and connections in works that have been around for centuries.

All reading encourages kids to think outside themselves about what we English nerds like to call The Human Experience, but the classics do this really well. The purpose of great art and literature is to dig at what makes human tick. Works of art and literature become classics because they are considered the best at what they set out to do.

The classics reveal the inevitability of change for human beings. My favorite book is The Great Gatsby. In what has become an increasingly annoying opinion to my colleagues who are not as much of a Fitzgerald fan as I am, I consider Gatsby to be one of the best novels to reveal the change that we both crave and avoid.

Another, less popular reason for teaching the classics, is that they are challenging. This reason is also at the top of the list when my students whine about reading too.

It’s too HARD, Mrs. Sluiter. It’s just so LONG and DIFFICULT to understand.

We can do hard things, yo. We can READ hard things too. Together.

Very rarely do I assign a million chapters and walk away from the book expecting my students to read it on their own.  That is what they should do with books they choose to read, not the ones I am teaching.  Because the key word in that last sentence is “teaching.”

As an adult, I enjoy reading the classics for sheer entertainment (and book cred, if I am honest), I know most of my students wouldn’t pick up The Grapes of Wrath for funsies.  But it’s still an important book. Reading it will stretch them and challenge them as readers and as thinkers…and hopefully as humans.

In the end, none of my students will need to have read The Great Gatsby to be successful in life. They won’t have to be able to explain the symbolism of the green light or discuss the motif of the color white. They won’t have to deliberate over the “greatness” of Jay Gatsby or whether we are all “bourne back ceaselessly into the past.”

However the thinking they will have to do to discuss socioeconomic status and the culture surround it, the treatment of others, the idea of dreams, and the mutability of humankind will force them to look inward. They will have to infer meaning, and explain those inferences. They will have to take stances and support them. They will have to make connections and choose to change or remain the same based on the connections they make.

Literature at its best changes us.

And my job here is to change lives.

A Wounded Academic Walks Into A Church…

Holy-Bible_20110524052238There are not many Bible stories that I am not familiar with.

I grew up going to Sunday school ever Sunday, memorizing verses, memorizing catechism, singing making a joyful noise in the choir, participating in dramatizations and skits, and listening to my parents read the BIG Storybook Bible every night after dinner.

I can recall the well-known stories of Creation all the way to the lesser-known stories like the one about Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. There was a time when I could recite by memory John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world…”

I listened, memorized, and believed without question because it’s what I was supposed to do. Adults were telling me stories and telling me they were complete, literal truth.

As way leads on to way, I grew up. I moved out of my small, sheltered town, and I met people who were not one of the two religions that I knew: Reformed or Christian Reformed. I was even roommates with a couple Catholics.  I know. Crazy.

Even though I pulled away from going to church, I never lost interest in religion. It fascinates me. Not just Christianity, but all religion. Where it comes from and how it is tied up in tradition, oral and written history, and politics.

When it seemed like God had left us–when Cortney’s dad died, we lost babies, and all the other loss and sickness–I leaned heavily on anything that seemed to “disprove” the stories of the Bible.

In college, I took a History of Christianity class. It was incredibly interesting. I tried to talk to my parents about it. I thought they would find it super interesting since they were so devout. But when I started bringing up the idea that perhaps the authors of the Bible weren’t telling literal stories about global floods and people-swallowing whales, my dad flipped out on me.

My dad wouldn’t discuss; he would only tell me I was wrong and that I wasn’t allowed to talk that way in his house.

I was stunned into silence, and I became less willing to talk about Jesus or church with my family. I became convinced that they would judge anything that didn’t fall into the realm of their literal understanding of the Bible.

(Years later, my dad’s reaction to my brother’s news that his girlfriend was pregnant would reveal just how ingrained it was in my dad’s character to being like Jesus, and my heart would change. But that’s another story).

The more I wrestled with what I knew to be true because of research and study and science, the more it seemed that I didn’t fit into any church. I just couldn’t believe something that was disproved over and over. I could not simply say, “I know actual science says something different, but I believe the earth and everything on it was created in seven 24-hour days as we know it.”

I believe God created science to make this world the beautiful marvel it is, but I don’t think it was exactly the way it was written in the Bible.

Even typing that makes me feel a little sacrilegious. I mean, you’re not supposed to say “I don’t believe what the Bible says,” right?

I don’t think a guy named Jonas got swallowed by a whale.

I don’t think there was a Garden of Eden.

I don’t think there was a flood and a guy named Noah put two of every single animal in the wold on a boat.

I do think these are important stories, and I believe the stories…without believing the stories. Does that make sense?

I believe it’s important to do as we are called to do or else things won’t go right.

I believe the world isn’t perfect because there are shitty things like cancer and hunger and poverty.

I believe that God is saddened by the shitty things we do to each other that cause things like cancer, and hunger and poverty, and that he won’t punish the whole for the bad of a few.

We are currently in the season of Lent where we wait and prepare ourselves for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. I both believe and wonder. I have so many questions.

I know what I am supposed to believe blindly, but like Thomas, I need to see the nail marks on his hands and the sword wound in his side. I believe, but my academic, logical side shouts for something to hold on to–something that tells me this is all true.

And I think that like Thomas, that is Ok.  That questioning for the purpose of wanting to understand and believe is Ok.

*************

As of April 19, I will be an official published author!  You can pre-order the book, Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss, to which I am honored to be a contributing author.

Because He is Two

I love birthdays.  LOVE THEM. I feel like the entire world is supposed to make sure everything is just a little more awesome for you on your birthday.

So when Charlie woke up on Thursday as a two-year-old, I burst into his room with a “HAPPY BIRTH–”

He stood smiling in his crib with his balled up jammy pants in one hand, and a very wet diaper in the other.

“I poot,” he announced, and yes, I could smell it.

My heart raced, but there was no “poot” in his crib…just a crumb of one in his diaper.

“Where? where did you poot, Charlie?”

“I POOT!”

Thankfully Cortney had the wherewithal to take the nekkid booty baby and put a clean diaper on him while I searched. I left the room, came back, could still smell it, and searched some more.

It was under the rocking chair.

Across the room from his bed.

Thus started The Bird’s Second birthday.  We should have all agreed that was the highlight of the day and quit trying. But birthdays are AWESOME! It can only go up from here!  Onward and upward!

I forgot about a birthday treat for daycare.

It’s ok! Tomorrow!  Tomorrow he can bring one!

Off he went to daycare, in his new “2″ shirt.

The plan was that I would pick up a small birthday cake and meet Cort with the boys home by 5pm to head to Red Robin (YUM!) for birthday dinner. We always do birthday dinner at a restaurant, and long ago Eddie decided ALL birthday dinners take place at Red Robin (YUM!).

2014-03-13 17.24.21

The downfall of the evening was chocolate milk coupled with Charlie’s deep disdain of getting out of routine. By going out to eat rather than home, and then by not allowing him to get more chocolate milk (because he was wearing half of the first glass), created an evil vortex of toddler rage that began at the table and forced me into the ladies room with him so the rest of the patrons could eat their Red Robin (YUM!) tantrum-free.

2014-03-13 17.34.31

When he calmed down and I asked him if he wanted to go back to the table he declared, “no! I walk here.”

Dude wanted to stay in the bathroom and play.

Um. no.

I talked him into going back to the table only to arrive and have Eddie tell me with concern that he had to use the restroom. For the third time.

So I took him back to the ladies room, got him in a stall to do his business, and held his door shut.

In a small voice he explained he was having a hard time going with his boots and pants on because it was hard to balance, so I helped the little guy remove the constricting clothing and carry on with his business.

This is when I took the opportunity to peek out of the bathroom at our table. Charlie had become an anger ball again, and I could see Cortney didn’t know what to do since he couldn’t leave the table.  I leaned out of the bathroom and gestured to let Charlie just come to the bathroom since I know that is what he wanted.  I told Cort to just pay the bill, box up the food, and grab our stuff.

So there I was, in the ladies room (thank all the goodness that no one came into the restroom during all this), with a half nekkid boy on the can and a toddler running around slamming stall doors. It felt like it took our waitress and Cortney an eternity to get the bill squared away, but eventually he came walking to the restroom with our coats.

Eddie was sad because he had really been very good and he was looking forward to the staff singing to Charlie, and Charlie was raging because he is two.  He tried to plank himself when we got in the car for no other reason than he could, which prompted him to cry LOUDLY the entire way home.

2014-03-13 18.23.28

Cake seemed to cheer him up.

And eating the cake. Although we went through the “do you want cake?”
“NO!”
“No cake?”
“NO!”
“Ok…”
cue all the tears because we aren’t serving him cake.
“Do you want cake?”
“yesh peeese.”
Sigh.

2014-03-13 18.34.57

Then there was some more drama about getting cleaned up to open the gift.

And more madness when big brother wanted to help “too much”.

2014-03-13 18.36.55

Once the gift was open and put together and everyone had jammies on…there was fighting over the new toy.

So we put it away, turned on Curious George, calmed down, and went to bed.

2014-03-13 19.15.33

 

The day was…trying.

Charlie is now two and very two.

We had a party for him with just family on Saturday which went a bit better, but Charlie’s strong-will and headstrong ways increase each day.

Because he is two.

Charlies Second Birthday

 

Happy Second Birthday, Charlie.

We love you!

 

 

 

 

 

Project 365 {week 11}

This week was Charlie’s birthday week,

and on Friday I actually smelled spring coming.

Yes…good things are coming.

March 9: After church, pre-nap apple. Also his last day with is shaggy baby curls

March 9: After church, pre-nap apple. Also his last day with is shaggy baby curls

March 10: No more baby in this house.  At least no more baby HAIR.

March 10: No more baby in this house. At least no more baby HAIR.

 

March 11: The temperatures soared to 50 degrees! Ballet flats instead of boots!  WOOT!

March 11: The temperatures soared to 50 degrees! Ballet flats instead of boots! WOOT!

March 12: Eddie is really knocking out his March is Reading Month Challenge with Hudsonville Ice Cream!

March 12: Eddie is really knocking out his March is Reading Month Challenge with Hudsonville Ice Cream!

March 13: Happy Second birthday, Charlie!

March 13: Happy Second birthday, Charlie!

March 14: New frames!

March 14: New frames!

March 15: Beware the Ides of March!  Also known as Charlie's birthday party day! Pizza!

March 15: Beware the Ides of March! Also known as Charlie’s birthday party day! Pizza!

The week was good.

Charlie’s birthday was…um…well, I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

And today the sun is shining.

Spring: it’s on it’s way.

Old School Random

Charlie turned two yesterday. There was poop on the floor, Red Robin meltdowns, cake, and a gift. Tomorrow we have his party with our family.

I’m sure I’ll do a huge photo post on Monday, but for now, my brain needs a break from trying to wrap itself around the fact that the BABY of the family is TWO.

So Old School Blogging comes at a perfect time this month. Elaine and her co-host of the month, Kim are back with a slew of random questions. I can remember getting surveys like this in emails back in college and I could never say no to a good survey. It’s fun and easy and it’s always fun to read other people’s answers.

So here we go…


What is the last thing you watched on TV?

I’m watching TV right now. Ok maybe I’m playing fast and loose with the word “watching”. The TV is always on in our house. Currently The Big Bang Theory is on because it’s always on somewhere.

When did you last step outside? What were you doing?

I was getting out of the car after Charlie’s birthday dinner at Red Robin. I don’t want to talk about it yet.  Yes, it was that bad.

Let's just say it went downhill from here. That look on his face should have been all the foreshadowing we needed.

Let’s just say it went downhill from here. That look on his face should have been all the foreshadowing we needed.

What is on the walls of the room you are in?

I’m in my living room where I have photos, photos, and more photos on the wall. Cortney would make the argument that I may be photo crazy. I have a really hard time covering up old photos with new ones because I still love the old ones so much, so our walls just get fuller and fuller.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?

The first thing I would do is pay off all our debt. I know, I know. That is such a GROWNUP thing to say.

So if I didn’t have the adult voice in my head telling me to be responsible, I would totally buy myself a brand new vehicle. Then I would buy Cortney a brand new vehicle. And then we would go on vacation to somewhere warm and all inclusive, because we have never done that before.

Oh, and I would buy the world a Coke. Naturally.

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.

Most people don’t peg me for one who swears much. I keep it clean in the classroom, here, and in public. But just ask Cortney or any of my friends who have known me a while. It can get ridiculous. Sorry mom. You DID teach me better.

Who made the last incoming call on your phone?

Cortney was the last person to call my phone because I couldn’t find it, so he called it. But I had it on silent so that didn’t help.

The last legit call was from the salon last week confirming my last Friday appointment.

I don’t get many calls.

And I like it that way.

If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do?

I would tear it down and build a new one.

On a different lot.

Somewhere else.

What was the last thing you bought?

The last thing we paid for was the dinner at Red Robin that no one enjoyed. Actually, I think Eddie enjoyed it. He ate all his food and was very sad we had to leave instead of having Charlie be sung to and handed an ice cream sundae.

The last thing I bought on my own was some new books for Eddie.

Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?

No.

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?

I never know how to answer this question. Because honestly I would probably be way too nervous to enjoy it whomever it was. And if it was the first time I met this famous person, I would blank and not ask them anything for fear they would just be annoyed. And why would they confide in me anyway? Or why would they give me advice? Just some random person they are having ONE lunch with?

See. I am too anxiety-ridden for this question.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

Probably Gap Outlet. Not because I have a love affair with it, but because I can usually find cute stuff there for a good price.

Otherwise if Zulily counts as a “store”, I would go with that.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Well this depends. Was it an empty glass that you only filled halfway? Because then it’s half full. Or was it a full glass that you drank half of? Because then it’s half empty.

I’m going to assume it’s half empty with the possibility of getting a refill.

What’s the farthest-away place you’ve been?

Seattle, Washington with Cortney the year after we got married.

Having a drink at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Having a drink at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

What’s under your bed?

Tons of dust and some random picture frames and my shoe thingy for off-season shoes.

But mostly dust bunnies.

What is your favorite time of the day?

When everyone is together getting along nicely. Whatever time that happens, that is my favorite.

What inspires you?

People doing good things.

People being stronger than their circumstances.

A good sermon.

Cortney’s unfailing support.

My boys.

My mom and dad.

and then you were two

Charlie

Planned and prepped
smooth
peaceful
arrival.

Jokes and laughter
Given to Fly
calm
birth.

Silent and feathery
tranquil sleep
soft
snuggles.

Cries for food
quiet
sighs
days.

Rolling and crawling
observing
so
serious.

Watching and waiting
learning
processing
growing.

Suddenly and surprisingly
awkward
tumbling
skill-building.

Quiet and reserved
to
brave
boisterous.

Testing and side-eyeing
nooooooo
scowls
boundaries.

Jumping and running
loud
naughty
sweet.

Silly and giggly
expressions
words
personality.

Slowly and rapidly
changing
developing
Two.

2014-03-10 18.24.02

Happy second birthday to my Charlie Bird.

Words seem small compared to your big personality and giant spot in my heart.

I love you, Birdie.

*************

When Eddie turned two, I wrote him a poem as well. So it’s a thing now.

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