Greta Asks Away!

Here we go again! It’s Friday which means it’s time for #AskAwayFriday 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.

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This week my friend, Greta of Gfunkified, is here with my questions for this Friday, and she came up with some good ones. So pull up your chair and get to know me better. And then, head over to Greta’s place to see what I asked her.

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1. If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing?

This question is HARD!  I have no idea! I guess if money wasn’t an issue, I would stay at home with my kids and work as a writer (or try to) from home. If I was in another out of the house job, I would probably work for a non-profit or do some sort of charity or activism work.

2. What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?

My favorite way to unwind is with a warm drink (tea, hot cocoa), my jammies, a soft blanket, and a good book. Oh, and my feet on my husband’s lap because he will rub my feet. He’s good like that.

3. You talk about Common Core a lot. If you had the chance to run your own school and your own curriculum, what would you change (if anything)?

Oh yes! Common Core aside, if we lived in a perfect world where I could help to implement best practice strategies and make our school look how I wanted, it would be incredibly student-centered. It would be inviting and technologically advanced. It would FEEL like learning. All teachers would have ample time to work together to make cross-curricular units and projects. The community would be involved and the students projects would involve them being in the community and learning. In fact, all assessments would be “real world”–they would be real published works, real community programs, real research.

4. When you daydream (like, say, waiting on parents at parent/teacher conferences), what do you find yourself daydreaming about most?

I day dream about writing. I know, I know. Totally cheesy. I daydream of finding words to say what I want to say.

Sometimes I daydream about traveling somewhere warm.

5. You and Cortney seem to make a really good team. Has it always been like that, or has it been trial and error since you got married?

It has always been like this, but that is because we worked on it from Day 1. We said from the minute we started dating that we were in “this” together…not matter what “this” is or will become.

The fact that we have known each other and been friends for so long before we surprised ourselves by falling in love, definitely helps. We knew each other so well–we were 25 when we started dating–that it was like we had a head start. We had already established and deep trust and friendship.

august '09

august ’09

6. You don’t have pets, right? Why?

We don’t have any pets, no. I had a cat for 17.5 years and he died when Eddie was 2.5. Eddie still says he misses Louis. I am pretty sure he can’t remember much about Louis, but I know that those 2.5 years developed a deep love of cats in him. Charlie also loves cats and dogs. I know my boys would love a pet, but we just don’t have the time for one right now. Cortney and I have discussed possibly getting a pet once we are done having babies and when we move. There are lots of times I really, really miss having a cat curled up next to me though.

Louis, 2009 (15 yrs old)

Louis, 2009 (15 yrs old)

7. What’s your favorite form of communication: text, phone calls, or email?

definitely email.

8. I’ve been gluten free for a little over a year. If you found yourself gluten free all of the sudden, what would you miss the most?

I would miss pasta. I am such a carb girl; it is very obviously my weakness. I could live without sweets, but we eat pasta at least once a week.

9. I know that you, like me, have a hard time getting together with friends because of schedules and locations. If it wasn’t so difficult, what would you love to spend your time doing with them?

I really love just having comfortable, casual relaxed time with my friends. I like being able to go out to eat some good food and then shut that restaurant down with all the talking and laughing. That is what I love.

10. What was your biggest fear growing up, and what is it now?

My biggest fear was growing up. Being an adult and losing the ridiculousness of childhood was terrifying to me.  Now my biggest fear is dying. I fear what that would mean to my family, but I also fear the actual happening of it. I get panic attacks when I try to imagine not being. It’s the ultimate loss of control and that terrifies me.

Ok, so we ended that one on a happy note, yes? Weeee!

In all seriousness, you should go see what I asked Greta. I asked her some BIG questions too!

Alison Asks Away!

Here we go again! It’s Friday which means it’s time for #AskAwayFriday 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.
Plus it’s way fun.
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This week my very VERY good friend, Alison is the master question asker. Isn’t she pretty!

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Her questions are so good. Are you ready?  Here we go!

1. You’ve been teaching for 13 years – what keeps you motivated to stay in a job that is undoubtedly challenging?

It’s so cliche, but the students are the reason I keep coming back every day. It’s difficult for me to put into words what I love. Simply, it’s the students. Complexly it’s the students and the love of learning and the love of imparting knowledge and the privilege of being a small part of someone’s education.

2. What are your top 3 moments as a teacher?

Graduation every spring. Every year I break down and cry.

Getting nominated as teacher of the year in 2005 by the staff of my school.

Getting awarded Elective Teacher of the Year by the senior class of 2011.

3. You write openly about depression. Do you remember the first time you opened up about it on your blog?

Yes. It was spring of 2010. I had been diagnosed less than two months before. It was the first time I had ever posted anything on my blog that showed my real feelings about something.  It was the first post that wasn’t just an “update” for family and friends.  You might say it was my first real WRITING post.

4. You’ve been blogging for 6 years now. How different was blogging back when you started, and now?

This summer it will actually be SEVEN years of blogging!  Sheesh! Where did the time go?

I honestly don’t know how things are different. When I started blogging I was completely unaware of the blogosphere. I was just going about my business posting pictures of my cat not knowing there was this whole community out there.

About three year in, I came clean about my PPD and it was like the heavens opened up and rained internet friends upon me.

5. I love your series on writing. What’s your top two pieces of advice for aspiring writers?

Write A LOT and Read A LOT. Like every day. Again, I know that is the most frequently given advice, but I find it to be so very true. I know there are people who say, “if I don’t feel like writing, I just don’t,” but that doesn’t work for me. If I take a day away, I’m more likely to take another day away, and then I might not get back into it.

I write every day.

I have a journal I carry with me, but I also have a “Copy Paste” draft on my blog. It’s where I just type. I tend to copy/paste (or cut/paste) stuff from there all the time for blog posts. But it’s a place to just brain dump.

I also read every day. These days it’s academic stuff, but I am also about halfway through 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Reading words sparks my own words.

6. What are your favorite books ever?

Why do people always ask the English teacher this?? It’s so hard to choose!!

Of course I love The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have read it over 100 times and find something new to love each time. I’m not sure I would love it as much if I didn’t teach it, though. I’m not sure a one-time read would have captured me the way 100+ reads have.

I also love The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Rhoald Dahl, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

A book that changed my life in terms of seeing the beauty of language and story is East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

7. I love reading your stories about your boys, Eddie and Charlie. Do you think they’ll enjoy reading about themselves when they’re older?

I hope they do!  Eddie already loves that “mommy writes stories.” He doesn’t know what blogging is, but he knows I write about him and his brother. He knows my piece for my Listen To Your Mother audition was about him.

I’m certain a time will come when I will be able to write less specifically about my boys, but that will be Ok.

8. What do you love most about Eddie right now?

Just looking at Eddie makes me smile these days. His concentration face, how he is learning to draw people, his conversation…four and a half is a sweet age.

I mean, best drawing of me EVER!

I mean, best drawing of me EVER!

9. What do you love most about Charlie right now?

Charlie is a jabbering fool lately. Just this weekend he said “I love you” (which sounded more like Ah uvoo) for the first time. It was ridiculous how many times I asked him to repeat it. His personality is so ridiculous lately too!  If you ask him if he wants something, he will do a huge pause and then say yes. Like, “Hey Charlie, do you want this cookie?” “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. yup.”  It’s so funny.  THISCLOSE to two is a sweet age.

THIS FACE!

THIS FACE!

10. You’ve been with your husband, Cortney for a while now. How do you keep the romance alive?

It will be nine years of marriage this summer. I’m not sure we are really the romantic types; maybe that is why the romance can’t die…we never had any to begin with!  Ha ha!

Seriously though, we are all about the little things. Helping each other out and always remembering that we are on the same team. And occasionally he brings me flowers or shows up with Starbucks for me.

Look at us OOZE romance!

Look at us OOZE romance!

And now you should head over to Alison’s blog, Writing, Wishing to see what I asked her!

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY!

Laura Asks Away!

Here we go again! It’s Friday which means it’s time for #AskAwayFriday 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.
Plus it’s way fun.
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This week the lovely Laura of Mommy Miracles came up with the questions I had to answer, and she has some good ones! So here we go!
1. While I know that there are always plenty of reasons to become a teacher, I have to assume that at some point one of your teachers really inspired you to pursue this career. Tell me about that teacher.
I had a couple teachers that really pushed me into my current career, but I would have to say my first inspiration was Mr. Torgerson. It was in his twelfth grade English class that made me stop and say out loud, “this is what I want to do with my life. This. Right here. I want to read books and then talk about them. How can I get paid to do that?”
He looked at me and said, “That’s MY job.”
I started looking into the education programs at the colleges and universities where I had been accepted that evening.
2. I know you and Cort are all about continuing your education. What is the next degree that you hope to complete? If you had all the time (and money) and could get a degree just for the fun of it (and not related to your career), what degree would you pursue?
If money was no object, I would go back to school right now for my PhD in English Education. It’s a dream of mine that I fully intend to pursue when the time is right, but that is not yet. We are still in family-growing mode.  But someday I will be Dr. Katie Sluiter!
May of 2008: Graduating with my Masters of English with an Emphasis on Teaching

May of 2008: Graduating with my Masters of English with an Emphasis on Teaching

3. Why (and when) did you start blogging?
I started blogging July 7, 2007. Yup, 7/7/07.  Lucky, right?
My very first post is about our recent trip out to Montana for a wedding I was in. To be honest, we had been married for two years, didn’t have kids yet, it was summer, and I was bored. I thought starting a blog would be a good way for all our family and friends across the US to see pics of us and know what was going on in our lives.
I had no idea at the time what signing up for that blogger account would mean to my future, my sanity, and my life.
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
It sounds cheesy, but I would stay right where I am in West Michigan. I love it here.  We have all four seasons (right now we have a bit too much of winter) and our summers are gorgeous.  We have the best fresh water beaches in the country!  Our family is all close, we can head to the beach whenever we want, and we are within three hours of both Detroit and Chicago.
Plus I live in the state shaped like a mitten. I mean, I’m in America’s High Five, yo.
Our life in the summer months

Our life in the summer months

5. What will be on your MUST-HAVE list when you shop for your next house?
We hope to move in the next few years and Cortney and I have actually started a google sheet of “must haves” and “want to haves”.  Among the must haves of things we don’t currently have in this house is more kitchen area. Daily I crab about the lack of space in our small kitchen.
6. What part of your day is usually the hardest? What part of your day is usually the easiest/most rewarding?
This is a tough question since my days are so structured by the school day, yet are very unpredictable because I work with teenagers. I can always count on the time after daycare pick up and dinner to be a challenge, though.  The boys are tired, hungry, and ready to be done with the day. This is when the most meltdowns happen.
The easiest part of my day is by far lunch time because I am in the teacher’s lounge without any children. Ha!
The most rewarding part of my day tends to be the boys’ bedtime. It doesn’t matter which boy I am putting to bed that night, the cuddles, the soft whispers, the conversation that is had in the shadows of the nightlight.  Those ground me and remind me of what is important.
7. You’re a boy Mom which means you will possibly have a daughter-in-law or two one day. What type of Mother-in-law do you think you’ll be?
This question is hard! I hope I can be a warm and loving mother-in-law the way my mom is to her two daughters-in-law. I have two brothers who are both married and my mom counts them as daughters.  That is the way my mother-in-law makes me feel too. I hope I can do that for any future children-in-law that I have.  Make them truly feel like part of the family–because they will be!
8. What is your favourite drink at Starbucks?
Lately it’s a venti cinnamon dolce latte. mmm.
9. What are you currently reading?
Two things: 11/22/63 by Stephen King and Rethinking Homework: Best Practices that Support Diverse Needs by Cathy Vatterott
10. What are you most proud of in your life?
I am most proud that I have turned out to be a fighter. I grew up thinking I was a wuss because I quit every athletic thing ever and I hated pain…or anything that sounded like there might be any pain involved.
But in the past ten years, I have fought hard for my family, my friends, my students, and my own life.  And so far I have been victorious.
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Did you learn anything new about me this week? Are you curious what questions I came up with for Laura? Of COURSE you are!  Head over to her blog, read my questions, and fall in love with Laura.
Happy Friday and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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.

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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!

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