Eight is Great!

Dear Alice Beans,

Or Beansy, or Beanzer, or Beezy….you have lots of little nicknames–mostly because of your daddy. He likes to call you Beezy best lately.

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At bedtime one night this past week, I read a book to your brothers called “How a Daddy Says I Love You” and one of the ways was by making up silly names for you. The boys started listing all the silly names your daddy calls all three of you. There were so many! They decided that daddy  must love you all a LOT to make up so many, and they are right! He loves you all to the MOON.

Speaking of daddy, I will tell you a secret, sweet Alice, you have your daddy wrapped around your finger. One smile from you and he can’t help but hug and kiss you and promise you the world. I’ve even heard him say, “what’s that? you want a pony? Ok!”

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This past month you’ve made some pretty big growing up jumps, little lady! Not only are you a sitter, you are starting to MOVE. You haven’t figured out crawling yet, but you recently found that rolling can get you places. As can scooting backward. In fact, Thursday night I set you next to the couch, and when I turned around you had traveled all the way to the kitchen table!

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You have also gotten two more teeth! One on the bottom (for a total of 4 down there), and one is just starting to poke through the top too! While you still prefer the bottle to get your nourishment, we have been feeding you baby food too. Although last month, you would eat it pretty well, this month you have gotten ridiculously picky. You purse your little lips and look at us like “nope”. Well, except for squash. You devour that.

I’ve been cutting up your fruits to let you feed yourself. You like that with the bananas, but you get mad at the peaches and pears since they are slippery. Crackers are your best friends, which is not surprising since your mother is also a carb-lover.

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You’ve also been sleeping a LOT lately, which makes us believe you are getting ready to learn to do new things like crawling.  Eek! The best part of this, though, is that you have made it a nightly ritual to fall asleep while playing on the floor. It’s usually while one of us is putting your brothers to bed. Then you wake up and want a bottle around 10pm. Then you zonk out in our arms, which means we can put you in your crib and not hear from you again until morning.

I’ve started posting these every night on Instagram. It’s so dang cute!

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You also nap like a dream. Just today I was cuddling you and noticed that you were putting things by your nose. That is one of your sleepy cues, so I just laid you in your crib. You smiled and kicked, but I was able to walk away. That was over an hour ago and you have not made a peep!

Alice you are SO MUCH FUN at this age!

Your giggles boarder on ridiculous–they are very deep and man-like. You also get stars in your eyes when your brothers play with you. As far as you are concerned, they hung the moon and set the world to spinning.

Your tiny life is just so happy right now, and that makes me happy. Your little face makes my day wonderful, even when it’s really been sort of terrible. You are my sunshine, my dear daughter.

I love you so much,



Oh Yeah, I Teach Too.

The first thing people ask me when they see me is, “So. How is the school year going?”

I realized today that I am constantly answering that question in real life, but have been weirdly quiet about it here.   Today was the last day of the first marking period. One quarter of the school year is already over.  That is sort of crazy to me. I mean, it feels like we just started.

So how is it going?

In a word: Great.

Last year was Ok. It was better than I thought it would be, but I told myself I wouldn’t make a judgement based on my first year–one where I was overly tired and emotional due to being pregnant. And one I didn’t finish because of said pregnancy.

This year is already a million times better if only because I have much more energy. I mean, I don’t have to waddle my way to the copy room only to need a nap when I get back. So you know, bonus!

My Reader’s Workshop is off to a really good start. There are still parts I need to tweak, but the kids are responding well to it. They are enjoying reading what they want to read, and I’ve gotten positive feedback from them on the amount of time I give them to silent read.

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This year I also added the Reader’s Notebook portion where I give them 4-5 minutes to respond to their reading.  This part may need some adjusting. I showed the students the notebook that I am keeping, and I share it with them every week so they can get some ideas for their own. Some kids are doing a ridiculously awesome job; others are trying to just get by with a one-or-two-sentence summary each time. My goal is to get kids to think deeper about what they read, but I don’t want it to turn into busy work. It needs to feel like an authentic way to put their own voice into what they are experiencing via the written word.


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We’ve also been writing. I find that with some of the curricular requirements I have (reading a full-class novel each quarter and doing vocab lists), I don’t have the time to set up workshops the way I would like. I think if it were up to me, our entire class would be set up as a workshop. We would always be in either Reader’s Workshop or Writer’s Workshop mode. I haven’t found a way to do that with us reading a whole class novel and doing sixty vocabulary words a marking period, but I do feel like I am making progress.

This quarter we wrote personal narratives using the This I Believe essay format (from NPR). We did each of the steps together: I modeled it, then they did it. I wish we had had about one more week for them to do some peer-work with them. They didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped. Some kids did fantastic, of course, but overall I felt I could do a better job.

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The last thing I have incorporated this year is the anchor chart. I have full-on-embraced those things and the kids love them! I have been making them for everything! We have character charts, plot maps, grammar charts, critical reading charts, writing charts…they are EVERYWHERE! All the research I have done supports the use of visual cues as a way to help students absorb what they learn, so I do it.

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I’ve been working hard to write about what I’m doing and what is best practice over at The Educator’s Room as well as sites like Nerdy Book Club, Writers Who Care, and others. I also presented again at the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) conference.

While I feel good about what I am doing and where I am going and my level of involvement in my own professional development, I guess I haven’t written about it because I don’t want to toot my own horn too much. I mean, as I typed up each of the above things, my head was swimming with the kids I’m still not reaching, what we still need to work on, and how I could do it better and more efficiently than I am now.

I’m reluctant to yell, LOOK AT ALL MY AWESOME, when I feel like it’s not the level of awesome it could be. I mean, the ideas are awesome. The practice COULD be awesome, but it still needs work.

So yes, the school year is going great…but I am also still working on it.

Letting Go

It started with the baby boy clothes. I carefully divided them into two piles: what would fit my nephew and what was too small for him. Each tiny onsie and legger brought back memories of chubby thighs and soft tummies, wobbly legs and curious hands.

Box by box they left our house, clearing much-needed space in Eddie and Charlie’s closet. I kept only a precious few items: a baptismal outfit, an Easter sweater, a onsie with a name on it.

I felt a pang, but we weren’t having anymore babies, and Alice wouldn’t wear any of those clothes. They may as well go to someone new who could use them and love them rather than sit in a closet in our house.

Then Alice started growing out of her clothes, and other than an Easter dress and a tiny pair of shoes, those were passed to my just-born-yesterday niece. I didn’t have as many feelings about those; after all, only one baby wore them and most were hand-me-downs. Those things weren’t as difficult to let go.

But now, Alice is growing out of the infant things–stuff we have had since my baby showers for Eddie seven years ago.. Items that have been a part of this stage in our life, representing the “child-bearing years”. When she grew too big for the swing, we passed it on to my brother and sister-in-law as they await their first born. That was…difficult. That swing was the first place both of my boys slept when they came home from the hospital. Alice was the only baby who loved it enough to use it often to soothe her. The swing in the corner was a symbol of the babies we were having, the expansion of our family.

It’s gone now, replaced with a jump-a-roo.

Some of our items are getting claimed before Alice has even outgrown them.  Our rock-n-play and car seat’s bundle me are going to one family, the infant tub and bounce seat to another, and the bumbo and tray to our daycare.  I love that we can give these items to people who need them and will love them like we did rather than dropping them off at Goodwill to go to a faceless family. It was also important to me to give the items to people since they were all gifted to us; making money off of them didn’t seem right to me (not that I am judging you if you sold off your stuff. That was totally my plan too, until it came time to actually do that. Then I just couldn’t).

I’m really good at purging our house of stuff; it feels good to clear out things we don’t use to make way for extra space or new things.  But this is different. It’s harder.

Last night, at bedtime, I had a mini-panic attack. I had been snuggling Alice after her last bottle and I was thinking about my new niece who had been born that day. I had also watched a video that popped up in my Time Hop of a little 4-year-old Eddie talking about what he wanted for “Cwis-mus”.

We are done with the newborn phase of our life, and every single day I am reminded that we are slowly easing into a new phase of life.

I asked Cortney, “from now on, whenever I hold a new baby, I am going to get emotional, aren’t I?”

“Yes,” he told me, “you will.”

Newborns used to remind me of what we still had coming in our future, but now they will be a nostalgic symbol of our past.

As I laid down to go to bed, I said, “Sometimes I think about all those little boy clothes I gave away to Goodwill and I panic.”

“As long as you don’t start buying replacements for them, I think that is totally normal and Ok,” Cortney reassured me in the darkness of our room.

“Heh. I won’t,” I promised just before I drifted off to sleep.

But a sadness had wrapped itself around me. Eddie’s toddler voice is gone. Charlie’s baby squeals are gone. Alice’s newborn days are gone.

Whether I like it or not–whether I am ready or not–time is moving forward and we are all growing up and older.

Letting go of the baby stuff and embracing the big kid stuff is harder on me than I thought it would be.

This Time, It’s Different

“Cortney, do you think this thing I have with Alice is because…well…I haven’t had any PPD, have I?”

“You are different with Alice, yes. And I think a lot of it probably is because you haven’t had PPD this time. I think you might be right.”


Every second of the past almost eight months has not been glorious, but not once did I want to throw my baby off our back deck. Not once did I feel like driving my car into a tree. Not once did I consider that my children’s and my husband’s lives might be better if I wasn’t in it.

Not once.

Do you know what that means? It means I experienced being a new mom without “mah crazy” seeping in. I was REGULAR.

I loved my boys when they were babies. Eddie was difficult, but I loved him. Charlie was easy, and I loved him.

My love is not different, but I am different.

I’m present.

There is no cloud or fog or walls.

There is no rage–ok, there is rage. But it’s different. It’s normal, Mom Anger, not anxiety-triggered panic-attack rage. No rage that feels like the only way out is to hurt myself before I hurt someone else.

Not at all.

The first week home with Alice I took care of her. Cortney was home with me, making sure I took my meds, lifting things that needed to be lifted. But I got up with her. I fed her. I napped with her.

I mothered her from the start.

I can’t say that about my boys. Sure I was better with Charlie, but now with my 20/20 hind sight, I know that I have been my best with Alice.

The monster is not lurking behind a corner or in my closet. In fact, the monster is not in this house. Not this time.

Of course I am not naive enough to think it’s gone for good. I have too much experience with my own brain for that. I know I need to stay the course with my depression meds and my talk therapy. I know I need to get enough sleep and read books and write in my journal. I know I need to drink hot tea and find comfort. I know that letting the crazy of life overwhelm me without letting Cortney know will mean a slide back into the hole with the monster.

After Charlie was born, I watched for it. I was vigilant. I knew it was coming, but it took longer than I thought and I let my self-care slip. The monster burst in one summer afternoon.

This time, I was again prepared. But I stayed the course and it’s paying off. Right now, as I type this, Alice is snoozing on the floor next to me. It’s her new thing. After her dinner bottle, she plays until she tires herself out and she passes out with her blankie on the floor where she was just grabbing her feet and giggling. Then she wakes for a quick bottle and we put her to bed.

She is my last baby, and I am so thankful that I am taking care of my mind so that I can be here for it. So I can enjoy each snuggle and toothy grin.


Yesterday was the release date for the anthology I am a part of, Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum ExperienceI am incredibly proud to be part of this project in part because this is the book I wish was available when I was first struggling six years ago.


This book has the potential to help so many moms. Not only is it 35 voices telling those moms they are not alone, but it offers hope. It shines a light down the dark tunnel that is postpartum mood disorders.

Click here for ordering info.

And thank you for supporting me all these years as I struggle to put words to what I have experienced.

BabyFat by Pauline Campos {a review}

BabyFatCover1+copy-2I’ve written before about the fact that I struggle with my self-image– most specifically my weight. In college I was 5’7″, 125 pounds, and a size 6. I was exactly average. I often wished for a couple curves, but overall I was pretty happy.

Now I am a good 75 pounds over that, although I am not taller, and definitely not a size 6. Before having kids, it wasn’t hard for me to lose weight if I worked hard at it an cleaned up the food I was eating. Now, five pregnancies later, my body can’t seem to let go. Or maybe I am eating trash and never moving my body. It’s something.

One of the very first chapters of Pauline Campos’s book Baby Fat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin Tops, and Trying to Stay Sane addresses this phrase: “you look good considering…”

hate this phrase. Because I know what “considering” means. I know why I look like I do. Why can’t people just stop with “you look good!”

Obviously, from the start of the memoir I was nodding right along.  In Baby Fat, Campos chronicles her weight loss (and gain) journey post-baby. And she does NOT hold back. She bares it all: every success and failure, every positive and negative thought. She is funny, but real.

While I can’t relate to the food sensitivities or allergies her family has, I totally know what it’s like to have the best intentions only to stumble into a pile of Twix. As Campos told herself, “Tomorrow will be different…” How many times have I repeated this mantra to myself (including last night when I riffled through the boys’ Halloween candy in search of chocolate paired with caramel)?

The book reads like Campos is giving you a peek into her diary, complete with date headings. And as you read, you feel like it too. Campos is not afraid to drop a swear word and let us know how she really feels about all the point-counting, calorie-watching she tries to do. One of my favorite lines straight from one of her chapter titles: “Diet is a bad, bad word”.

From my experience, the thing that really worked for me was cleaning up my eating habits, not going on a diet. Toward the end of her book, it seems that Campos is finding out the exact same thing. Of course knowing and doing are two entirely different things; something Campos and I also have in common.  It became obvious the more I read, the more we had in common in this battle of the bulge.

Even more clear is the message of accepting yourself for who you are NOW. Pauline struggles throughout her memoir to lose weight, but she makes it very clear that she loves her curves and she loves herself. This is something I need to work on more.

I have been trying to look at myself every day and list things that I love about me, and I really try to find one physical thing each day. Today it was my eyes, in case you wanted to know. I have pretty great blue eyes.

Anyway, you should check out Baby Fat. Not just because I liked it, but because it’s a quick, funny read that I think lots of women will relate to. Also because one of my tweets made chapter 26. But mostly because you will like the book.

Two lucky people are going to WIN the book! One will get a paper copy and one an e-copy! Enter in the Rafflecopter Widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not paid to review this book, but Pauline is a friend of mine and sent me a free e-copy. My post is full of my honest opinions. The link is an affiliate, so if you buy her book I get like 10 cents or something. I’ll probably use it to buy more books for my classroom library.

What’s Past is Prologue

With it being National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo), I’ve been thinking a lot about this space. I realize it’s only Day 2 of the month, so Ok, I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, but this is as good of a time as any to actually write about it.

I keep seeing all these links to posts and articles about blogging being “dead”.

This makes me laugh. For one, many of my readers had no idea blogging was “alive” in the first place. Those of you who have stuck around are not really “blog readers” as much as you read MY blog. So ya know, that is cool.

Another reason it gives me a chuckle is because when I started this space over eight years ago, I didn’t even know blogging was a “thing” at all. I just wrote silly, boring updates about our life. Then one day (probably for Wordless Wednesday or something), I posted a picture of a tiny Eddie in a onsie standing with his little hands our on our large front window. I had two comments on it: one from a friend who always commented and one from someone I didn’t know!

That started the whole “blogging is a thing” for me. I realized that there were thousands and thousands of blogs out there on the internet. There were communities for blogging in all areas of social media (who remembers Blog Frog? Anyone? Is it still a thing?). I joined networks and did blog hops and even co-hosted some of these sites for linking up writing. My stats were at an all-time high about four years ago.

If I look at my stats now, I guess I would have to agree that “blogging is dead,” but to be honest, I didn’t really ever do this for the stats.

The reason I started this blog–and continue to post here–is because I want a written record of my stories. Of our life as a family. It started as a way to keep friends and family updated, but it morphed into something even more meaningful once we had kids.

One time my mom and I were looking through my baby book and some things she had saved. In the pile we found some paper with some “memories” jotted down from when I was tiny. She had written some funny things I said (how I said “k-pop pop” for “ketchup”) and did (one time my dad was home alone with me and I threw up on the bathroom floor). She said something about wishing she had written down more because it’s just too hard to remember it all–even when you think you will never forget some of the stuff.

I realized the memories–both small and large–that I put here will help me and my kids know what our life was like right now.

I also have never gone back and deleted a post. There are some that could go because they don’t further my “mission” of writing for my kids–like giveaways. But it is what it is, right? Shakespeare used the phrase “what’s past is prologue” in his play The Tempest meaning that everything in the past is a preface for the present and the future.

That is how I feel about my writing here.

I may do side things or try new writing stuff, but as far as I plan, Sluiter Nation will always be here as my place to write about me, my life, and my kids. On my “About” page, I call this blog a legacy blog because writing my words and my stories–our stories–is a way to leave something for my children.

This is my place to tell stories to remember their little selves, to give my thoughts on everything from potty training to gay marriage to my own {at times shaky} faith.  My hope is that this blog will be here, in some form, long after I am gone.

The hype and trendiness of blogging may have come and gone, but it really doesn’t matter to me. My words will still be here.


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Oh. Hi. It’s November.

That means it’s National Blog Post Month (you know, for those of us who don’t have the stones to do National Novel Writing Month). This is where I attempt to post every single day in November.

What could go wrong with that plan, right? I mean, this week is only the end of the first marking period at school. Next week is only  parent/teacher conferences for both my school AND Eddie’s. We only have Thanksgiving coming up plus my starting a new marking period with my students. We only have three birthday parties and two babies due in November in our family. NO BIG DEAL. It’s the PERFECT time to try to write something post-able every. single. day.

[I’m crazy]

Anyway, this first post is an easy one. It’s about last night. Halloween.

I sort of hate Halloween. It stresses me out and makes me cranky.

I know, I know…I’m such a scrooge. Such a Debbie Downer.

That doesn’t mean we don’t do the Halloween “stuff”. Everyone was in a costume (everyone = all three kids) and we had pumpkins that we actually carved. We didn’t do the pumpkin patch because it was on the list of things ain’t nobody got time for, but Cortney grabbed three great ones on his lunch break Thursday, and we carved them up Friday night.

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Saturday the kids dressed up in the costumes. Alice was not all that excited to have whiskers drawn on, but she got over it. Charlie was almost too excited to have a mustache drawn on.

We went to first to Cortney’s mom and step-dad’s house. That is always fun because Granny knows how to rock Halloween. Not only does she have goodie bags for the kids, she also always has cookies and other snacks out…as well as a beer/wine for the parents.

Plus the cousins are there too, so cute goes into overload.

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I know. Alice appears to be questioning all her life choices up to this point. She was so unsure of all that was going on. But she and her cousin, Alia, were adorable as Raggedy Ann and Minnie Mouse.

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If we could have just stopped here, I would have been totally cool with Halloween. Seriously.. Maybe next year we should just go here and have the kids trick or treat their neighborhood because there were snacks and wine for adults.

But we went over to my parents house next because Halloween is totally a grandparents dream…seeing their cutie grandkids in costume, spoiling them rotten with too much candy, and then sending them on their way.

By the time we got home, it was rainy and wet and way past dinner time. But the boys wanted to go door-to-door. So Cortney took Alice in to feed her and get our dinner ready, and I took the boys to a few houses.

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Since it was raining and I was cranky, I dropped the boys at the first house, rolled the windows down in my car, and yelled “run to the next house!” while I slowly drove along. We did this for about 8 houses. Then I pulled their damp little bodies into the car, drove around the block to our street, and dropped them to go to the house next door to us. Then they sprinted home to ring our doorbell.

As much as I was over it, I couldn’t help smile at the fact that Charlie looked just like Mario running and jumping through yards.

Until we got home and I pulled shoes off and found dog poop on Eddie’s skeleton foot. Ew.

But then we ate chili and cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate and all went to bed.

Oh, and rolled the clocks back. That was good times too.

Happy November. Happy NaBloPoMo. Let’s see if I can keep up.

The Willful Child

IMG_6655Last week, my eighth graders had the word “willful” on their vocabulary list. When we first go through the list as a class, students create circle maps to help them define each word. In those maps they put synonyms and examples that help them each remember what the vocabulary word means using a personal connection. If I had been making my own map for the word “willful”, I would have written Charlie’s name in it.

Charlie could not be more different than Eddie was at this age. I feel like I say that all the time, but it surprises me every single day.  Eddie has his issues, but by and large he is a rule-follower, a people-pleaser. He is honest to a fault–the boy will even tell me he was thinking of something bad. And he stinks at lying. His disobedience is either being mad about having to do something he doesn’t want to do or getting to wrapped up in what others are doing that he doesn’t realize he is being “naughty”.

My Charlie is different. He knows the rules, but feels that they only apply when he wants them to. For instance, we require pants to be worn at the dinner table. I don’t really feel like this is a major request, yet Charlie and I had a full blown stand off about wearing pants last week.


I was getting the boys’ dinner ready one Thursday night while Cortney was bowling. Charlie was using the bathroom, and came out in nothing but his underwear.

Me: Charlie, where are your clothes?

Charlie: In da baf-room.

Me: Why?

Charlie: I peed.

Me: Ok, Costanza. Go get your pants and put them on. Your dinner is about ready.

Charlie: NO. I not wear my pants!

Me: If you are going to eat dinner, you are going to wear pants.

Charlie: NO! NEVER! (actually it sounds more like “nevah!”)

Me: Fine. Then you can stand there until you put pants on.

Charlie: (turns his head away and puts his nose in the air and makes a little hmm! noise)

I put the food on the table and Eddie and I eat while Alice gums a cracker.

Charlie: (in a tiny, sweet, innocent voice) Mom mom? I am so hungry. So very hungry, mom mom.

Me: I bet you are.

Charlie: (nods with big eyes)

Me: Put on your pants and you can eat.

Charlie: NO! NEVAH! EVAH! NEVAH!!!!!!!!

He stands there with his arms crossed while we eat. Out of the corner of my eye I see him slide his pants toward him. Then he slowly pulls them on. After standing there with pants for a minute, he slowly slides into his spot at the table, eats his food, and we seem to forget the stand off while we all eat and chat.

about 15 minutes later…

Charlie: Can I be done, mom mom? I am full!

Me: Yup. Go wash your face and hands.

That stinker came running out with NO PANTS ON.


When it’s not funny, it’s downright maddening.

I have very few bouts of rage due to anxiety anymore, but when I do it’s usually triggered by Charlie. He is the most stubborn, strong-willed, headstrong person I know. He will do nothing on anyone else’s terms but his own.

In my 12 years of being with Cortney and 20+ years knowing him, I have never seen him yell or get super mad…until we had Charlie. Charlie doesn’t just say, “no” (although he DOES do that a LOT), he stares you in the eye and defies you.

He will tell you he is not doing something AS he does it. In front of your SEEING EYES.

And he is NOT afraid to throw down in front of all of the public in the land. Won’t let him ride in the cart because it is full of groceries? Not good enough, mom. Now the entire store shall know my displeasure in the form of screaming fits and thrown objects.



This boy is the biggest love bug you will ever meet. He is just as stubborn about his love and his cuddles as he is about not wearing pants. Eddie can want nothing to do with him, and he will adamantly insist on hugs. I will be in the middle of feeding Alice and he will bulldoze his way into my arms.

When he is mid-fit, the only way to calm him is to sit down next to him and just be close. No words. Just be at his level with him.

He refuses to trust anyone with his little sister when Cortney and I aren’t around without diligent supervision and constant check-ins. His daycare mom–who I was pretty sure he loved more than he loved me for a chunk of his life–is not immune to this. He stops whatever he is doing randomly throughout the day to make sure Alice is “ok”.


His bullheadedness drives me MAD. Literally. I go a bit nuts when he can’t do one simple task without a full on, epic fit. I get angry when, even though we do the exact same damn routine every day, he acts surprised by it and refuses to move forward until HE is ready.

I have always been against using spanking or hitting or other corporal punishment with my children, but he is the one who makes me question my stance.

And yet…he is so sweet, so wiling to give up the spotlight for his brother or sister or really anyone who will take it off of him because he hates it. He shares so easily. He loves so hard.


This horrible willfulness we are going through at age three-and-a-half will serve him so very well when he is an adult. I hope he never loses the will to stick to his guns.  Even if it’s going to drive me to crazy and back parenting him.

Once again, all photos by TMV Photography

He’s A Great Kid


Oh, First Grade. You are not what we expected.

Kindergarten went so well. Eddie loved his teacher, his classmates, and the learning he was doing. Granted, he claimed his favorite part of the day was “free choice,” but who can blame a kid for loving to play?

First Grade, we were so excited for you! We went Back to School Shopping with a LIST this year. We bought dry erase makers and crayons and a pencil box! We got a new backpack! And best of all? Eddie was assigned a DESK rather than a table! The excitement was out of control.

Yes, Eddie is the youngest in the class; he just turned six this summer. Yes, he is a boy; boys are notorious for being late social bloomers. And YES, he is academically ahead; the kid has been reading since he was four.  But we really didn’t anticipate any problems with any of these.

On meet the teacher night, we saw his teacher would be using a behavior chart like ours: everyone starts out in green and then can move up or down according the behavioral choices they make. Eddie was already used to this since we do it at home.

We had no idea this chart would give Eddie–and his mom–so much anxiety.


During the second week of school, I got a concerned email from his teacher that Eddie is having a hard time with sitting still, staying quiet, and paying attention. Part of me was like, “well yeah. He’s a six-year old boy.” I mean, for him, school had “play breaks”. But First Grade, you don’t have toys in your classroom, you don’t offer “free choice”, and you have one less recess break than Kindergarten did. My active six-year old is hurting a little for “silly time”.

I figured we could talk to Eddie and all would be well, but the following week he was apparently as chatty and social as ever. Mrs. D decided to start sending home a calendar. She would color the day with the coordinating color that Eddie earned: blue (outstanding), green (good), yellow (warning), or orange (sit in the hall and conference with an adult). When he came home with a yellow day he cried. Luckily, Mrs. D called and explained that really, he is green all morning. He drops to yellow in the afternoon.

Suddenly all of our talks about school centered around that damn color chart. The first thing out of my sweet boy’s mouth was his color.

Two emails from his teacher, and a few days of coming home orange and we have a boy who identifies you, First Grade, as being all about whether or not he talks too much in one day.


But that is thing: his being social is one tiny part of who he is as a first grader.

He’s also a leader who loves having a classroom job each week.

He loves to help lead morning stretches and pass back papers and do anything anyone might ask of him.

He is a good friend who asks his seat partner if she is feeling Ok, and keeps her secret when she wets her pants.

He is quick as a whip at math, reads ahead of “grade level”, writes wonderful stories, and gets very excited about science.

He is a dynamo on the computer and enjoys figuring out new games.

He is kind and helpful to kids who are different than he is, and he never ever laughs at those with disabilities.

He stands up for kids who can’t stand up for themselves.

He loves to sing and dance and make noise when he is very happy.


In short, he is a great kid.

After talking about all of these things with Cortney and with my therapist, we have decided, First Grade, that our Eddie is more than just a green or yellow or orange. He is awesome. That behavior color is something he needs to work on, yes. But he is MORE than that. He will get it in time because he is a bright kid.

In the meantime, we will remind him to make good choices, but we will also talk about all the other things that you are, First Grade.

Because we don’t want a color on a chart to create anxiety and hatred for school. We want it to be a challenge and learning experience just like the rest of school should be.

Photos by TMV Photography

Where My Writing Is

In case you missed them, here are my most recent posts around the web:

I was honored to be featured on The Nerdy Book Club just before school started giving my Top Ten list of the books that are always on hold in my classroom library. If you’re looking for a good read, I suggest you check out this list.

I’ve also been posting about once a week at The Educator’s Room. This month my posts have been mostly about Close and Critical Reading: This one addresses summarizing, this one talks about recognizing author’s craft, this one is about identifying purpose and theme, and this one is about making connections to text.

This week, I contributed a post about why I read aloud to my 8th grade students (and why I read to my high school students).

Thank you for being so supportive of my writing!

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