Kir Asks Away!

This month I’m participating in a weekly link up that is hosted by Penny of The Real Housewife Of Caroline Country. Typically for Ask Away Friday, bloggers pair up, swap 10 questions,answer them on their blogs, and link up their posts with Penny and Amber. It’s such a great way to get to know someone better.


This week’s questions come from the ever-lovely Kir from The Kir Corner.

1. Tell me about a book that changed your life? (Or your perspective)

I have come back to this question over and over and started typing up a response, and I have deleted every time. I honestly don’t know what book to choose.  I can say that Anne Lamont’s non-fiction has changed my perspective on both writing and Christianity.  Reading her words makes me want to write down all the things, but it also reminds me that I am a good person, and that progressive Christians like myself are out there.

2. Yesterday was my birthday, talk  to me about your birthdays. Big Celebrations? Small, intimate days?  

 I adore my birthday. I have only ever had one biggish celebration and that was for my 32nd birthday. I was pregnant for my 29th, 30th, and 31st birthdays and so for my 32nd, Cortney and my best friends planned a weekend trip to Chicago for us all and it was fabulous!  Other than that we usually keep it small. I love when people celebrate me, but I don’t need parties…just kind words.  Oh, and I do love gifts. I know, lame!

3. I always ask this question…If you were an animal, what would you be and why? (I think of myself as an otter)

I would be a feline of some sort. I think of cats as being academic for some reason, and that is what I strive to be. I think of cats as being bookish creatures–they hang out in bookstores. They are soft and cuddly too…comforting. But sneaky too. Stealthy.

4. We’re both mothers of boys, what one piece of advice do you have for me (us) as we strive to raise kind, aware and strong young men?

I think the best thing we can do for boys is to give them responsibility and model for them what a strong, independent woman is. They need to be able to do household things like laundry and ironing and vacuuming and not expect a woman (or someone else in general) to do it for them.

I also think there is a particular responsibility in raising white men (and even more specifically straight white men…if that is what they are). It’s important to raise our white boys to be socially and culturally aware so the can stand with others and fight intolerance, inequality, and injustice.

5. You love music, tell me what your “go- to- album/song”  is for sad days and happy days.

Lately my go-to album has been The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It has silly, peppy beats and some real legit thought-provoking lyrics. It’s just a good one to get me pumped up and at the same time remember the good I have in my life.

6. What inspires you?

I get inspired by the ordinary being extraordinary. The fact that I have  a husband who is my very best friend in this world  an two sons inspires me to be a better person. Reading amazing writing from “ordinary” people…like my friends and my students…makes me want to be a better writer. Kids who show up every day make me want to be a better teacher. Smiles from strangers make me want to be a kinder person.

7. Your favorite guilty pleasure?

Buying books. I love it. I could order books online all day, but if I really had the time and money, I like to just walk around bookstores for HOURS with a cup of coffee. I could buy PILES. I love to read, but almost as much I like to be surrounded by the printed word. I know, nerd alert! 

8. You’re an incredible teacher at the high school and college level, what do you love most about education?

Ah, you flatter me. But I do love my job to the moon and back. I think my favorite part about education is my every day interactions with teenagers. I often find myself laughing to the point of tears during a regular work day, and I am rarely stuck behind a desk. It amazes me that I get paid to do this, but I am thankful that I am. 

9. As an avid and talented photographer, share 3 of your favorite photographs from the past few months. Tell us what you love about them?

 I don’t know about avid OR talented, but I do like to play with my DSLR and I am trying to get better.  Here are three of my faves that I took recently.
This is one of Charlie. VERY typical Charlie. It makes me laugh.

This one is of Cortney. I just love how he will throw on snow gear and play with Eddie.

And this one is of a flower Eddie brought home from Sunday School. He picked pink especially for me. Because that boy has a huge heart.

10. (One word answers )Favorite shoes? Cupcake? Movie? Holiday? Season? 

 Tall boots with boot cuffs, chocolate with cream cheese frosting, Back to the Future (all of them), Christmas, fall

Those were great questions, right?  If you want to find out what I asked Kir (and read her answers), head over to her Corner. Oh…and yesterday was totally her birthday!  She threw a quotable celebration that I am honored to be part of…check that out too!

Erin Asks Away!

This month I’m participating in a weekly link up that is hosted by Penny of The Real Housewife Of Caroline Country and Amber from Bold Fab Mom. Typically for Ask Away Friday, bloggers pair up, swap 10 questions,answer them on their blogs, and link up their posts with Penny and Amber. It’s such a great way to get to know someone better.


Today my friend Erin is here.  Well, she is sort of here. Ok, she is not here. BUT she did ask me some questions, and those are here. Along with my answers. She asked me some really REALLY good questions.

If you can be flattered by a question, she just flattered me ten times.

1.) You have blogged a lot about depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other sensitive topics. How do you decide what to share/what not to share on your blog? Do you ever think about Eddie and Charlie (& future kids!) and what they will feel when they read your writing? 
In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about always writing for a specific reader, about having that person or persons in your head as you write. Every time I sit down to write anything in this space I think first about how Cortney will react to it, and then to how my children may react. When I choose what to write about, I think about what I wish I knew about my grandmothers and my mother…even the hard things. I draw the line at telling other people’s stories or divulging something I would NOT want to know about my own parent.
2.) You have suffered two miscarriages and written a bit about them. How did going through those tough times shape you? I know you’ve written about how you don’t (or didn’t?) envision them as babies/people. Is that still true?
Yup. This is still true. I definitely suffer PTSD from my miscarriages and from my traumatic delivery of Eddie, and some people have told me point blank that I am cruel and heartless for not thinking about those pregnancy losses as babies.  While I understand their intent, it doesn’t make those pregnancies feel like babies or people to me. I think of them as souls, though.  I always thought my first pregnancy was a girl. I am not sure why, but I feel like a lot of what I felt when I was pregnant, has come to fruition in Eddie. No, he is not a girl, but he is exactly like me, and I’m a girl!
The second pregnancy I never really connected with because I was afraid. I haven’t worked through that one enough, I know that.
I think if there is a heaven, my late father-in-law is there.  And if that is truth, then the souls of those babies are with him.  That makes me feel at peace about the losses. I have small glass hearts next to my bed to remind me of those two. I think of them often, but more as something other than babies or people.
I don’t really know how to explain it.
3.) Work, teaching, marriage, kids & perhaps TTC.. how do you manage to juggle it all? and do it so well? AND find the time to maintain a loyal following on your blog (not to mention the time to write regularly and captivate your audience w/ compelling posts and topics?)?
I really don’t juggle it all. Something is always suffering. I think it seems that way because I get to show only what I want to show online. Even though I do write about the hard stuff, I don’t show the daily struggle to fit in all of my over-commitments. I’m pretty sure if I blogged or tweeted every single negative thought I had, I would no longer have an audience!
That said, I stick to a fairly strict schedule. Cortney and I have assigned days of who picks up from daycare and who does the bedtime routine.
So I guess the secret is I have no time for friends or spontaneity.
4.) I love your photos in the teacher’s lounge restroom. How did this start and/or (again), how do you manage to always look so dang cute when you have a TWO YEAR OLD? (this coming from a fellow mom w/ a two year old whose clothes get food, markers, and drool/boogers all over them all the time.)
My secret is that I get up, get ready, and leave and let Cortney do the job of getting the kids ready and off to daycare.
I didn’t always try to hard to look cute. After having Eddie I bought big, shapeless sweaters and started crying on a “date” with Cortney because I thought that was how I had to look since I was “someone’s mother”. His response was, “but you’re still my hot wife. You’re still Kate.” He was right.
After Charlie I was determined to not let that happen again. When I feel cute and put together, I am a better teacher. The more professional my look, the more professional I feel. So I try hard to do that each day.
I started posting pictures because I was inspired by Alicia’s #officefashionshow on Instagram. I started tagging mine, but I added the #teacherstyle tag too.


5.) Does Cort appreciate that you have managed to cultivate a sense of style despite having young kids?
Cort does like to see me all dressed up with my glasses on looking all teacherly, for sure.  But on days when I don’t work (like weekends and summer and snow days), I am NOT so cute. Promise. He still thinks I’m cute then too, but he does appreciate if I can find time to shower.  Ha!
6.) Music. Tell me what you love. And can the right music help you when you’re dealing w/ depression or feeling low or anxious or fill in the blank…..?
We are fools for the tunes in Sluiter Nation. I would say if it wasn’t for a mutual love of music, Sluiter Nation as we all know it would not exist. I have a whole list of tunes that can pull me out of the dark.  My top five (in no particular order) are:
  1. “I believe in Miracles” by Pearl Jam
  2. “I Get Knocked Down” by Chumbawamba
  3. “Bad Day” by R.E.M.
  4. “Gold” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  5. “Future Days” by Pearl Jam

These songs are all sort of a grab bag of get me pumped up into my happy place or remind me what I love about my life.

7.) You & Cort will be coming up on 10 years of marriage soon enough. What’s your secret? Or secretS?
Ah yes. This summer is wedding anniversary #9, but we have been together romantically for almost 11 years by then. I have no idea how long we have been friends…twenty years? Maybe?
I don’t know if we have a secret. We always always talk about it. “It” being all the decisions, choices, ideas, dreams. We always hear the other out. We always admit when we are wrong…even if we don’t want to.
And we always always are the other person’s number one fan.
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8.) Favorite go-to or comfort food? If it’s more than a bag of chips or a pack of M & M’s, tell me/us about the recipe, where it came from, and if there’s special meaning behind it.

 I LOVE food. Love it. When things are great, I like to celebrate with food. When things are sucky, I like to comfort myself with food.  When someone is hurting, I like to cook and/or bake for them so I can try to comfort them with food.
One of my go-to recipes for a dish to warm our insides (or to make for others) is my mom’s veggie beef soup recipe.
My favorite muchy food is peanut butter m&ms.
9. ) As a teacher, what advice would you give parents of kids who are struggling both academically and socially in school? Do you think it depends on the kid’s (kids’) age(s), or should parents be super involved  with every single thing? 
I can’t speak much from an elementary teacher’s perspective since I’ve never taught that level, but at the high school level I know those kids need support from the adults in their lives.  I’ve also found it’s really, really dependent on the individual student and his/her needs. My advice to parents with struggling kids is to always exhaust every single avenue your district has to offer. Get your child tested for disabilities or conditions and then talk to your special education director about plans and services that may be available.
Before getting my teaching job, I worked for Sylvan Learning Centers and I worked with high school kids who just need an hour of structured homework time.  Most of them, once their parent was gone, didn’t really need my help so much on the actual homework, but needed me to help them devise a plan of attack so things weren’t so overwhelming.
All kids thrive on structure, but kids who struggle need it even more.
10.) If you won $100,000 in the lottery tomorrow, tell me what you’d do with the money. There are no right or wrong answers, obviously!!
Truthfully–and this is how you know I am a full on adult now–we would spend it on two things: paying off debt (because that puts us in a position to afford a new house and newer/bigger vehicles) and putting some into the boys’ college funds.  I’m sure we would take at least a thousand and go on a fun trip, but the bulk would be invested in our family.
I know. Boring.
Holy COW! I had way too much to say in response to all those questions!  I should probably use Erin’s questions as blog prompts!
Now head over to Erin’s to see what I asked her!
And of course, grab a partner and swap questions so you can join in next Friday.