Out With The Old

Well, well, well 2014. So you’re finally over, eh?

Can’t say I am too sad about that.

Don’t get me wrong; you had your high points. Actually, you started out super great!

You sent us a LOT of snow...which I hate, BUT it made for lots of fun snow days...which I love. And my district didn't have to make any up!

You sent us a LOT of snow…which I hate, BUT it made for lots of fun snow days…which I love. And my district didn’t have to make any up!

You brought the baptism of my little nephew, Ezra.

You brought the baptism of my little nephew, Ezra.

you encouraged me with some of the most lovely friends I could ever ask for.

you encouraged me with some of the most lovely friends I could ever ask for.

Charlie had his first haircut.

Charlie had his first haircut.

Charlie turned 2.

Charlie turned 2.

I turned 36 with this crazy crew.

I turned 36 with this crazy crew.

We took Eddie to Chicago for Spring Break.

We took Eddie to Chicago for Spring Break.

I went along on the Spanish Trip to Chicago and got to hang with these weirdos.

I went along on the Spanish Trip to Chicago and got to hang with these weirdos.

The world came out to help me build my classroom library.

The world came out to help me build my classroom library.

I said goodbye to my best year (and students) in my teaching career.

I said goodbye to my best year (and students) in my teaching career.

I was published and did a book reading with my biggest fans in the audience.

I was published and did a book reading with my biggest fans in the audience.

Eddie turned 5!

Eddie turned 5!

Cortney took a day off so we could take a family trip to the zoo.

Cortney took a day off so we could take a family trip to the zoo.

we grew a garden again.

we grew a garden again.

we took boat rides

we took boat rides

I got pregnant!

I got pregnant!

my nephew, Harrison, was born

my nephew, Harrison, was born

I went to BlogHer in California and was honored as a Voice of the Year.

I went to BlogHer in California and was honored as a Voice of the Year.

We visited Papa Steve.

We visited Papa Steve.

I ate these ribs.

I ate these ribs.

Eddie started Kindergarten.

Eddie started Kindergarten.

I started a new teaching position.

I started a new teaching position.

Eddie played soccer

Eddie played soccer

I was published again!

I was published again!

We found out we were having a GIRL!

We found out we were having a GIRL!

I presented about using Reader's Workshop at the MCTE conference.

I presented about using Reader’s Workshop at the MCTE conference.

I was published...AGAIN!

I was published…AGAIN!

Eddie learned to read and write.

Eddie learned to read and write.

This guy turned 36

This guy turned 36

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company.

My dad retired after 46 years with the same company.

We celebrated Christmas

We celebrated Christmas

Behind these pictures though, somewhere in June, a deep sadness set in. There were a lot of unknowns going on, disappointments, and changes that I didn’t want to accept.

It’s hard because as I started inserting the pictures from June on, I felt the sadness all over. Graduation was my last truly happy photo.  I can see the forced smile on my face. I have so many blessings, but this year has been tough. Pregnancy is hard on me both physically and mentally. Change is hard for me…even when it’s good.

I am truly happy with the changes in our lives, but it’s still a ball of emotions for me.

So yes, I am excited for a new year. 2015, I’m looking at you. Please be kind to the Sluiter Family.

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BTW: if you usually find your way here via the Sluiter Nation Facebook page, you might want to go over there to my sidebar where it says “enter your email” and go ahead and do that. Facebook isn’t going to let me share links on my page anymore starting in January. ::cue sad trombone”

Caught in the Whirlwind

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This guy had a birthday 20 days ago and I feel sort of like a jerkstore for not mentioning it here. December was crazy busy and I clearly haven’t been writing as much as I would like, but that is no excuse. This guy is probably the #1 most important person in my life and I didn’t even mention his turning 36.

Yup, 36. Now he’s my age…until the end of March when I am his Old Lady again (something he would actually never call me because he’s not a butthole).

This year–just like every year–he has been all my cliches: my rock, my safe harbor, my home.

Over and over again he put my needs (and the needs of our kids) before his own wants. He held me when I fell apart. He held my  hand when I was scared. He reminded me that we are a team.

He knows what will truly make me smile.

He knows before I do when I am about to lose it.

He knows pregnancy is very hard on me and does not consider all the extra help he puts in to be “extra”.  He considers it just what you do when you are part of a team.

He holds my hand.

He teared up when he found out he was getting a daughter.

He changes 99% of the poopy diapers without complaint.

He vacuums.

He irons (sometimes).

He asks each of us “what do you need? how can I help?”

He does the heavy-lifting.

He is the most handsome man in the world.

I know he doesn’t always feel appreciated because I am too busy being anxious or mental, but not a day goes by that I don’t say a prayer of thanks for Cortney.

When I asked Eddie what we should get Daddy for his birthday/Christmas he said, “I don’t know,” but when I asked him what types of things daddy likes he said quickly, “Beer, Pearl Jam, and Michigan Football.”

He does a lot for this family and I hope he knows we notice. And love him. In fact, in the eleven years that we have been together, not a day has gone by that he has not made me smile.

Plus he gives the best, most healing hugs ever.

I’m sorry your birthday is always part of the whirlwind of this time of year, babe. I know your day was a happy one though, because Eddie picked you out that Indiana Colts beer glass with specific instructions that ONLY BEER go in the glass.

Win.

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

BTW: if you usually find your way here via the Sluiter Nation Facebook page, you might want to go over there to my sidebar where it says “enter your email” and go ahead and do that. Facebook isn’t going to let me share links on my page anymore starting in January. ::cue sad trombone”

Growing a Sluiter

Because my blog went wonky for a few months, I haven’t been putting many pictures up. BUT that is FIXED! So I can finally share some bump photos.

I had my 28ish week OB appointment yesterday along with my glucose test (which I passed!  Woot!), and I am measuring at 30 weeks.  That is exactly how I was with both boys. I was was always measuring 2 weeks ahead by this time.

Check out all three pregnancies…

20weeks

So here we are at 20 weeks.

 

I would say that my level of caring what I looked like took the biggest dip with my Charlie pregnancy. Either that or I was just gross that pregnancy.

and 24-25 weeks depending on when I remembered to take the picture.

and 24-25 weeks depending on when I remembered to take the picture.

I don’t look as bad in that picture with Charlie. But I hated my hair. Never make a decision to chop off all your hair when you are pregnant.

and this is where I am with Alice now...the 28th week.

and this is where I am with Alice now…the 28th week.

These pictures crack me up because I can’t stop looking at how young and dumb I was when I was pregnant with Eddie. I had no idea what was coming. I know that sounds cliche, but I just didn’t.  And with Charlie I was already tired thinking about what he could be like as a newborn (Eddie was a colicky mess).

This time, as my OB says, I am a veteran. I know both the difficult and the easy things that could lie ahead. Because everything is looking great and exactly how I carried and measured with the first two, my OB has even spaced out my visits for me so that I don’t have to come in so often just to be measured. That means I only have maybe 5 more OB visits and then the C-section on March 6.

For those keeping track, that means I only have 10 more weeks left. Ten weeks from today will be my last day of teaching for this school year.

And then Alice will be here.

Our family will be complete.

Merry Netflix Christmas

This year I have been a bit of a slacker in the way of decorating for the holidays. Part of it is out of practicality. Charlie is two-and-a-half and while Eddie could go ahead and NOT TOUCH all the things at that age, Charlie is more of a destroyer of all the things. So. Many things that would go on display are simply not because Charlie.

There is also the fact that I can’t find my wreath for the door and it snowed so early around here that we never got the lights on the house.

And then there is just the “I’m pregnant and don’t want to” factor.

I don’t think my boys have noticed much though. We have a tree and the nativity scene and their stockings. We have made some cookies and they have both brought home countless Christmas crafts from school.

The boys have also been totally into all the Christmas episodes/movies of their favorite shows/characters.

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Of course Charlie has watched the Curious George Christmas movie somewhere around a zillion times. To be totally honest, this has been in rotation since they found it on Netflix this summer.

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Eddie has watched The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas, The Power Rangers Christmas episode (dude, what?), all of the Mickey Mouse Christmas specials, and the Veggie Tales St. Nicholas episode. And because he is sick and stuck on the couch, he is surfing for MORE Christmas stuff as I type this.

It’s pretty great to have these at our finger tips instead of having to scour TV show times (which are almost always past the boys bedtimes anyway).

Netflix also had a little hand in my holiday giving this year. As a Stream Team member, I was given two gift cards for one free year of Netflix each to give away. My immediate thought was teachers.

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As many of you know, this is my first year teaching at the Junior High rather than the High School. The transition could have been very difficult, but I was blessed with two classes where I team teach. The two special education teachers I teach with are some of the most talented, patient (with the students AND with me and my newbie status), kind people. I really hit the jackpot.

Special Ed teachers work harder than any of the rest of us since most of them have different classes every hour–some teaming with other teachers (across multiple curricula), some of their own in their own classrooms. On top of that they have more paperwork than anyone else in education. From medicare forms and IEPs and 504’s, to documenting accommodations and making parent meetings happen.

So when I was able to gift two people a free year of Netflix? They were who I thought of first.

Netflix has been a way for our family to sit together and watch great family programming, and I was happy to share that with them.

Happy Holidays!!

Disclaimer: This post was not compensated in any way. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and receive Netflix free of charge as well as a device to stream it on. Thought and opinions are all my own.

 

twenty-eight weeks, eleven to go

Dear Alice,

If everything goes ok and you and I both stay nice and healthy, we have eleven more weeks of you on the inside. At this time (9:04am) in eleven weeks, you will probably be here. Your brothers may already have met you.

Baby girl clothes have been showing up from friends who have older girls. Really cute hand-me-downs, and even a few new things have arrived in the mail. As I hold them I have all these mixed feelings. I’ll be honest with you, Alice. I am scared to be a “Girl Mom”.  It might be silly, but I feel like I don’t know how. All these dresses and cutesy things…they are so foreign to me. Tiny mary jane-style shoes and flowery shirts are a far cry from little man khakis and cardigan sweaters. I’m used to converse and bow ties. I’m used to dressing up tiny little men. I’m used to boys.

You are a little scary to me.

Daddy keeps reminding me that you are not going to be born an 8-year old with an opinion. That you will be a small cuddly baby who will need me to feed you, and change you, and cuddle you. That I know how to do all of those things very, very well. He is right, and I am very VERY much looking forward to those first couple months when it’s just you and me and time to be together.

But as I rock Charlie before bed, I look around the nursery. I imagine your name on the wall instead of his, your clothes hanging in the closet instead of his sweaters, your shoes lined up instead of his, the trucks put downstairs to make way for whatever you love. And it’s weird.

When I was pregnant with Charlie, the only things I put away from the nursery were things that said “Eddie” on them. Now I am also gathering up “boy stuff” to put in the “boy room” downstairs. I want a clean slate for you. It’s very possible you will also be in love with trains and trucks, and that is great! We have lots! But maybe you will love baby dolls and My Little Ponies, and I want the room to be ready for that too.

So it’s strange.

I’ve had two babies before you, but it’s feels like I am starting over from scratch. I feel that sense of not knowing what to expect all over again. In fact, I have been so nervous about it, I have refused to let go of the boy clothes I have in storage that Charlie has grown out of simply because…well…what if you’re NOT a girl?

I mean, I SAW the ultrasound. I know there are no boy bits. I know that. But something in my head just can’t wrap itself around a GIRL.

I want you to be here. I want you to be real. I want a daughter.

But I am afraid.

I hope it’s Ok to admit that to you.

Eleven more weeks and you will be on the outside, but still in my arms.

I’m very excited, Alice. Despite the nerves.

I promise.

I can’t handle it

I don’t really know what to do with my heart and brain. My jaw dropped yesterday when I saw the Eric Garner news. In retrospect I guess I should be shocked, but I was beyond shocked. I was nauseated.

Last week when I posted this, a simple short post about how I am an ally, there were people who used words like “thug” on Facebook to describe Michael Brown. My post was not about Michael Brown. It has a picture of my three-year old nephews and my two-year old son. You bet I took offense, and started un-friending people quickly, when they showed those kinds of responses to a peaceful post.

You guys? I am at a loss.  I simply do not understand anything that is going on.

A man was taken down by cops using an illegal move. His death was ruled a homicide. The entire murder was on video. The guy who did it, a white cop, doesn’t get charged at all. BUT the guy who shot the video? A Latino man? Gets charged on a gun felony even though he was unarmed during the incident.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how this can happen, and yet last night, as I am combing through Facebook, I see comments DEFENDING this ruling. Calling Garner a “thug” and saying if he hadn’t broken the law in the first place, he wouldn’t have to worry about the cops. They say it is the same as Michael Brown.

All I could do was blink.

And agree, that yes, it is similar to Michael Brown.

A cop took down an unarmed man and got away with it. Yup. Same.

The arguments that “he had it coming” or “if you obey it wouldn’t happen” piss me off in a way I can’t even describe. People say “well, he broke the law.”  So what?  I break the law when I speed every morning on my way to work. Every day I go 80 mph down the highway when the speed limit says 70. Have I gotten pulled over and ticketed? Yes. Do I continue to do it?  Yes.  So does that mean speeding is punishable by death at a cops hands next time?

You know what? Don’t even answer that. It’s a moot point because I am a thirty-something white lady who does not look like a “thug”. I don’t have to worry about this.

I have had students screw up and break the law over and over before getting clean and sober. Did they get arrested? Yes. Did they get killed by the cops? No. And in each case? I am thinking of a white kid. They don’t have this worry.

But you know who does? Members of my own family including my nephews some day. When  cop sees them, do you think they will know they have white parents who are in education and have multiple degrees?  Nope. They will see black men.

Studies show that by age SEVEN people begin to look at black males as more threatening than white males. SEVEN YEARS OLD. That is a third grader.

Eric Garner “looked” threatening to the cop because he was a large black man.

That is eff-ed up, yo.

And you know what, take race out of it for a minute (although I think it has EVERYTHING to do with race). HE WAS UNARMED.

What is it going to take for the American public to wake the heck up? What will it take for us to say, “No. Stop. This isn’t right”?

WHAT WILL IT TAKE?

Because obviously even a video of a homicide doesn’t do it.

My heart and mind are so confused.  I just don’t understand how people–people who are good people–can be so blind and racist. How can that exist in the same person?  I have unfriended people on Facebook that up until now, I could handle having differing opinions on most political things. But this? This is a deal breaker.

Using racist language like “thug” and making sweeping statements about how law breakers “deserve” to get 12 bullets pumped in them or suffocated to death is something I can’t tolerate. I even saw someone compare Eric Garner to a sick dog that needed to be put down. Just typing that makes me want to vomit.

Last night Eddie and I had an issue. In the end, he told me he didn’t like me, didn’t care about me, and didn’t care about the treat I promised him (in place of doing something else that we couldn’t do). He threw a fit. Once we got home, he still expected the treat and I said, “No. You called me mean. You said you didn’t like me. You said you didn’t care about the treat. Forget it then.”  He pouted. Then after putting on his pj’s he came over to read his nightly homework to me. I said, “Nope. Read to your dad tonight.” He asked me why and I told him, “Because you don’t like me or care about me. My feelings are hurt.”  He was devastated. After about 10 minutes, we talked about why he was crying and he admitted that it felt awful to have someone not care about you.  Of course we made up and all is fine.

But he had to feel what his words felt like. What they did to my heart.

Our issue is a far cry from making a statement that an unarmed man deserved to die, but it all boils down to a lack of empathy.

I don’t understand how people can say things without thinking about other people’s feelings and experiences. How can we lack even the most basic empathy for other human beings?

And I should point out that I am NOT anti-cop. Some of my great friends are the spouses of cops. People I went to high school with and greatly respect are cops. This is not me saying police officers are evil.  This is about me saying something in our minds is evil. Something is messed up when authority figures can KILL unarmed citizens and that is Ok.

That is not Ok. That is not what we want to perpetuate or encourage in this country, is it?  That we are a police state that deems any law breaker punishable by death on the spot? It’s not what I want.

If this post offends you, or you feel like writing a scathing comment about how these men deserved to die somehow, don’t. Just don’t. Just quit reading my blog right now. If we are friends on Facebook, just quietly unfriend me.

Because I can’t tolerate this anymore.

The faces I see are those of my students and my family. MY FAMILY.

My heart simply cannot handle the hate.

Every Child, Every Day

I spend a lot of time worrying about other people’s kids and whether or not they are reading, what they are reading, and if they are choosing things that are right for them.

In the first 10 minutes of class, my students are busy writing in their journals and getting their independent reading books out. Every day. I spend that 10 minutes walking around making sure every child has written something and has something to read. Every day. In fact, today during first hour I wrote three passes to the media center, had four kids check out books from my library, and conferenced with two kids who were having trouble getting started.  This is pretty typical for all of my hours.

I spend a large chunk of every day focused only on other kids’ reading.

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Last night, Eddie read a whole book to me.

A REAL book, not just one of his “just right library” books that says things like, “I see a dog,” and “I see a cat” on each page.  He read me, cover to cover, one of the Elephant and Piggie books, My Friend is Sad. If you know those books, you know they rely heavily on HOW you read the book too, and Eddie rocked it out. I spent a lot of time watching him rather than looking at the pages he was reading.

I was amazed.

My baby…ok, my oldest, but still…my BABY was READING a real BOOK.

And he loved it.

He didn’t fill out a reading log afterward (although school does send home a calendar each month and if you read for 20 minutes each day–and color in the days accordingly–you get a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Not really my philosophy of creating readers, but Eddie does it for the joy of reading right now, and I am letting that just flow) or make a diorama. Instead he goes back to the cover and exclaims that the book is pretty funny and maybe the book fair will have more Elephant and Piggie books to choose from.

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Today when I pick Eddie up he will have two new books from a book order and whatever he chose at the book fair. He was still going back and forth about Skippy John Jones or Pete the Cat this morning as I hugged him goodbye, so I am eager to find out what he chose…what we will be reading together tonight.

I know he will keep the books out of his backpack and he’ll be holding them in his hand when I get to school.  I know he will smile and run when he sees me, waving the books to tell me what he bought. I know he will “take a picture walk” through them in the car to decide which one we should read first.

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Every time Eddie and I sit to read, I think about my students. How many of them were this ravenous about reading when they were in Kindergarten? How many of those kids “lost” that desire…and when did it happen?

Did those kids get a chance to read every single day like Eddie does?  Like I try to give them now?

I follow Richard Allington’s wordsEvery child, every day. This includes not just my students, but my own kids as well.

30 Blog Posts

I did it.

I posted all 30 days of November, and I learned a few things along the way.

1. I don’t really enjoy posting every single day.

2. I am not entirely happy with what I have written for that day, but instead of just hitting “save” on the draft, I hit “publish” because, well, a post a day!

3. I don’t feel like I wrote more than I usually do; I just hit publish more often.

4. I found myself thinking “is this a blog post?” about everything…like I used to do.

5. I am still annoyed about the picture thing. Yes, there have been pictures but that is either with copy/paste or embedding via Flickr. Both are annoying stand in’s to what I should be able to do here.

6. I do still enjoy writing every day, and it’s not all bad to have some pressure to hit publish once in a while.

7. I’ve been more stumped for content because, I think, I’ve been holding back.  No, I know I have. I have some stuff I really, really want to write about, but I am afraid of being controversial or whatever and I don’t have the energy to “deal with” the fall out. Or even the support.  I know. That is sad.

8. Blogging every day has me somehow missing real people more than usual. I am still working this through my brain about what this even means.

9. I’ve become acutely aware of how much has changed since I was at the “height” of my blogging (stats-wise that is) in 2011/12. I didn’t care what other people were logging about or what had been said already. I was writing my own truth not trying to say something new.  Now I feel like a small, repetitive voice in a sea of “been there, done that” type of writing.

10.. I made time to post, but I didn’t make enough time to read others, and I wish I had. I miss reading blogs just for fun. So to those of you who have popped over here, thank you. I know how big of a deal that is.

Will I do NaBloPoMo again next year? I don’t know. I didn’t know I was going to do it this year until I had posted on November one and decided to see if I could. So maybe?

I also know I am tired and tomorrow starts the three-week haul to Christmas break, so I am going to go grab some rest.

Confession: I’m Not Convinced

Yesterday my mom and I went shopping for Black Friday. We don’t get up super early or go on Thanksgiving or anything. No, we get up when we feel like it and are usually at the mall around 10am, give or take a few minutes depending on how slowly I am moving.

Anyway, we were in the infant/toddler section at Younkers’ yesterday looking at tiny clothes for tiny people. My mom wanted to buy Alice a little something for Christmas. I have wanted to try to pick out a jammy for her too–something that can be her coming home from the hospital jammy.

Something has held me back, though.

My mom had no problem digging through all the pink and purple searching for a cute little something for her second granddaughter. I looked, but I also looked through the boy things thinking about how I will miss the tiny man clothes. My mom told me to get over it.

But really? I think I am just not convinced I’m having a girl. Or I am skeptical. Or I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Or I have a mom “feeling”. Or I am paranoid.

I am something all right.

Both boys had unmistakable ultrasounds. There were most definitely boy bits on the black and white screen.

Alice was different. She didn’t cooperate at first and when she did, there wasn’t anything there, but I kept thinking maybe we just missed them? Is that possible?

I love looking at little girl stuff. It’s a whole new world to me to be fascinated by.

Yet I’m not convinced it’s my new world. I can’t imagine being handed a girl baby. I can’t imagine having another female in the house. I can’t imagine girl diaper changes and hair “pretties” (OMG the hair pretties).

Maybe I am just scared.

Last night I told Cortney I wasn’t 100% on board the girl train like I was with the boys. He said, “well we better talk about a boy name then, just in case.”

I love that guy.

He didn’t tell me to quit worrying or to accept that it’s a girl.

Nope. He said, “well, let’s be ready either way.”

And that is what we will be: ready either way. Because like we said before, it truly does not matter whether this is a boy or a girl, we are so SO excited to meet this new baby and complete our family.

lost for words

I don’t want to be another silent, white voice.

But I don’t know what to say.

My heart aches.

My mind is confused.

I’ve been trying since August to find the words, but I don’t have them.

But I am an ally.

I am listening.

I am standing, ready with you.

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Their names are Charlie, Kingston, and Kyrie.

They are equals.

His name was Michael Brown. #BlackLivesMatter

“Love your neighbor as yourself” ~Mark 12:31

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