I am thankful for…

the way Cort’s face is all squishy and malleable looking in the early morning when he gets up just to have five extra minutes with me during the day.

the careful way Eddie’s little hands stack blocks.

the way the house gets cleaned while I am gone for 14 hours.

Cort’s “concentration” face when he is playing on facebook.

Eddie’s little sighs and giggles when he is playing with lamby in his bed.

that cat fur that i find everywhere (no seriously, it means my old cat is still around).

a mom who is fun.

a mother-in-law who is silly (oooo whoooooo!!!!!)

family that spoils my little boy when we are not able to.

unemployment benefits and extensions.

a job.

the other job.

the extra duty pay.

the overload pay.

friends who travel across the country for holidays.

friends–whom I have never met–who are all over the country (and the world).

the support that pours everywhere when things are rough.

the way Eddie “breaks it down” like a football player at random.

Sesame Street still being on the air.

Tivo

a dad who loves his grandsons.

Chris, Sarah, MacKenzie, Dave, Mike, Ashley, Cody, Liz.

so many invitations to gatherings that we have to turn some down.

a budget that we can still meet.

grandparents.

the way Eddie runs his lamby’s ear through his finger and under his nose.

blond curls.

the adoption process.

our home.

toys scattered everywhere showing lots of fun has happened.

Cort’s mad budgeting skills that have afforded us fun even when things are tight.

twitter.

the way Eddie says, “ma ma ma” and “hi da!”

Starbucks.

the giving nature of strangers.

PPDCHAT and all the support I have found there.

the way Cort still holds my hand every night as we fall asleep.

the kisses Eddie has learned to blow.

the parents who are involved in helping their students succeed.

Thanksgiving dinner.

my car that has faithfully been bringing me everywhere for seven years.

satellite radio.

poop and fart jokes.

friends who want to see us smile.

Eddie’s love of music.

Cort’s love of music.

Jack.

Missy, Mat, Erika, and Torie.

Cort’s random wit.

the way Eddie’s face scrumples up when he giggles.

the warmth of a loving family.

you.

Wacky Wednesday

Ok, so I usually try to do Wordless Wednesday, but my week has been all wacky so far.  Good things, weird things…just wacky.

Here is a brief rundown…

My brother got engaged!  Yay!  This is HUGE, people.  He and his fiance have a 5 and a half year old together.  This story is long, complicated and beautiful.  I will have to share this story with you, if they give me permission.

We had some VERY bizarre weather yesterday.  We woke up to tornado watches, storm and wind warnings, all out madness.  Many schools closed due to the watches; not ours.  We braved those wild winds and pursued education in spite of the crazy weather.  And in turn, we were rewarded with tornado sirens going off at the beginning of fourth hour driving us into the hallway to take cover.  For most of the hour.  Then, just as we were released back to class?  Four minutes later they re-issued the warning, forcing us back into the hallway into lunch.  To say yesterday was messed up is an understatement.

My son is addicted to Sesame Street.  More specifically he is addicted to sitting on my lap and watching song videos from Sesame Street on my computer.  If he sees me get anywhere NEAR my laptop, he whines and pulls at me until I put him on my lap and youtube his favorites.

In fact, this is the one he likes best.  I like it too because it helps me remember that I can make it through the hard stuff.  That’s right.  I get inspired by Sesame Street on the daily.  What of it?

Oh and also?  I am over at Not Super…Just Mom helping my girl Miranda wrap up and super long, tough month that she has dubbed Hellmonth.  I depart from my usual PG rating, so beware, but go read.  I don’t want to be lonely over there!

Here is hoping for a calmer second half to the week!

A Tale of Two Weddings

I think it’s pretty easy to get sort of jaded by the sheer number of weddings we go to at this point in our lives.

I mean, I have been a bridesmaid seven times now.  I’ve been the personal attendant a handful of times, and the mistress of ceremonies once.  I’ve been a matron of honor and a flower girl.

Most of my friends are now all married.

Lots of my family members are married.

Before my own wedding, going to other people’s weddings was a time to take notes.  I was too busy focusing on flowers and colors and bridemaid dresses and favors to really get into what weddings actually mean.

But in the past three months, two of my cousins got married.  And both weddings caused me to pause and think.

In July, my cousin, Jeff married Cris.  Jeff is older than most grooms.  Cris already has teenagers from a previous marriage.  This wedding touched my heart for a number of reasons.

Jeff used to babysit me.  I can still remember him coming over to our house as a teenager.  He was so cool with his pretty girlfriends and his rock music.

And then he just kept on not getting married.  We all love Jeff very much and wanted to see him happy.  I kept insisting that if not getting married was making him happy, then so be it.

But then there was Cris.  She came into his life, they live together, and they are married now.

Jeff is a husband and a stepdad.  And it is awesome.

So we got excited about it!  The wedding was beautiful, but the reception?  Was a celebration!

My family really knows how to come together and celebrate!  We do NOT hold back!

And this past weekend, we had another cousin get married.

My cousin Kelli is just a youngster.  She and Joe have the same story many of us have.  Meet, fall in love, have a romantic proposal, a year-or so-long engagement, and a gorgeous traditional wedding.

During the ceremony, I glanced down at both of my brothers.  They are both very much in love.  One happily married and the other happily almost married with a little boy.  Between my little cousin who I used to babysit getting married, and both of my brothers all happy in love, my heart was about bursting.

We again were celebrating.  This young couple at the very start of their life together.  It was beautiful and fun.

I absolutely love my family more than I even know how to say.  I love that we all support and love each other this much.  My cousins are like my siblings.  My siblings are like…well…even closer siblings.  We all grew up together, have countless stories and memories together, and are now becoming adults together.

When more love comes into the family through marriage and children?  We are always there for each other.

And this hit me like a ton of bricks right out on the dance floor Saturday night.

I love LOVE.

I. Me.  The super jaded girl has turned all mooshy.  I used to be sure love was just “settling down with someone for the rest of your life.”

But looking at both of these couples?  I realize how great it is to have someone by your side.  Not just through the fun celebrations (like the wedding), but through the hard stuff.

I watched Kelli and Joe goof around and enjoy their night.  Cort and I remembered fondly about our night.

And in my head I thought, “what I didn’t know then…”

But I didn’t finish the thought.

Because it wouldn’t have mattered.  I needed Cort.  And I still do.

And I am so happy that Jeff and Cris, and Kelli and Joe have each other to lean on to keep from falling…

both from laughter and from weakness and from tears and from exhaustion.

It’s good to need someone.

And it’s good to be needed.

And loved.

Blessings

This day…today…amazed me.

I am left sitting here typing this an aching, emotionally drained, physically exhausted pile of whine.

So pooped that actual wine doesn’t even sound good to me.

I KNOW!

Anyway, let me go back….

You all know that Cort’s sister and brother-in-law are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, yes?  If by chance you don’t know what I am talking about, you REALLY should go to their blog, Stepping Stones, and read about their journey.  It’s lovely.  Go ahead.  You can go read now.  I’ll wait….

tappity….tappity…tappity…oh, you’re back.  Ok…

So, they are adopting from Ethiopia and we REALLY wanted to help out.  It all started months ago when they asked if I could contribute something crafty to their online auction.  I didn’t have the time or the supplies, but I SOOO wanted to help.

Fastforward to me volunteering to do a garage sale to get rid of our stuff.  And then asking for donations.  It got huge, people.  I am telling you…it took over our basement and part of our garage.

This is only part of it.  We had started moving things to the garage already at this point.  See?

On Thursday MacKenzie (my sis-in-law), our friend Trisha, and I organized everything into categories in the garage and then priced it all.  Friday, more stuff was dropped off, so I went through all that:  sorting and pricing.  Oh, and it was about 1000 degrees with 100% humidity.  It was like organizing in a sauna.

Friday night to celebrate this fundraiser and to get a little taste of what Ethiopia is like, MacKenzie and Dave took us to GoJo in East Town (Grand Rapids). GoJo is family owned and the owner, Sam, waited on us and chatted it up with Kenz and Dave–they are regulars now!

Many families who are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia or who have adopted come to eat here.  It’s amazing the sense of community there is even with only one other table of diners in there besides us.  I just felt that this was a familiar place for people to come.

Pictures of children who have found their families lined the windows and Sam knew right where his customers were in their own processes.  He even mentioned to Dave and Kenz that he heard they had waiting list numbers now!

The experience was super unique to anything I have had before–the only thing I can compare it to is digging in to and appetizer, but it was the table’s meal.

The food is family style and the diners get NO utensils or plates.  You simply grab your Ethiopian flatbread and dig in to the lamb, beef, chicken, collards, salads, and lentils.  The platter we ordered was pretty darn spicy, but it can be milder.  The flavor?  Was SO worth the “after burn” in my mouth.  Even though I knew I would get a fire mouth?  I kept going for more!

Even Eddie liked some of the milder tastes!  I can definitely say we will be back!  Such a great experience!

So armed with Ethiopian food in our bellies, we met Saturday morning with determination to make some cash at the garage sale!

In fact, I was hanging signs at 7:15am (the sale started at 8am), and a couple stalked me down in their minivan to ask me if we would open early.  Garage Salers?  Are serious.

The night before I made all these cute little business cards with the Stepping Stones blog address on them to give to people as they bought or donated so they could follow the adoption journey.  It was definitely a hit!

So we waited for the crowds.  We got a few in the first hour, but by 9:30 I was all panicky that people weren’t going to come.  Shouldn’t we have had a morning rush?

So I called my mom and asked her if she was coming.  My mom?  said she wasn’t “planning on it”.  I begged her to come so that we wouldn’t have NO one here…even if she didn’t buy anything, she could play with Eddie.

Apparently that call was the trick!  After that, we were steady until around noon!  My mom even ended up buying a little bike for Eddie!  Hooray for Grandma!  And Granny showed up too and bought Eddie some books!  Yay!  Grandmas are the BEST!

My favorite thing of the day, though, was when Kenzie’s BFF, Alicia was here with her two kids, Ruthie and Lewis.  Lewis spotted a soccer ball he wanted and Alicia tried to tell him they had one at home already.  Needless to say, Lewis REALLY wanted the soccer ball.

Then Alicia said, that soccer ball?  Was one she has donated to the sale.  Luckily, HER mom was there and bought the ball back for Lewis.

Again, Grandmas for the win!

We worked hard today.  Cortney and I met a LOT of our neighbors (in fact, we met the guy Cort has secretly been calling Mr. Jones and trying to keep up with…get it?  His real name is Steve and his wife bought a ton.).

We also learned that many of our neighbors have also adopted.

In fact, one?  Is in the process of adopting from Ethiopia too!  We heard many lovely stories of adoption and God’s love for all children.  It made the day pretty emotional.

Cort’s dad once told me how glad he was to have me in the family.  I have NEVER forgotten that.  He was glad to have me.

And today, even though so many people told me it was great that Cort and I were helping, I really didn’t feel like we were doing anything special.

I felt like the people who donated and who were shopping were doing the special things.

Kenz and Dave are doing something special for children they don’t even know yet, but already love more than life.

Not us.  Not me.  But I remembered what my father-in-law said. He welcomed me in even though I wasn’t technically his own.  He felt I was good for something.

Today, I felt I was living up to what he meant.  I don’t need thanks.  I really don’t want it.  I just want him to be proud.  And I want Kenz and Dave to look at their children and be glad. 

And it made Cort and I VERY glad to give them the $500 that was earned at the garage sale!  Never once did it cross our minds that that money could be ours.  Never.  In fact, someone said we should get a receipt at Good Will for the rest of the stuff, but you know what?  Most of that stuff was donated.  It wasn’t ours.  We don’t feel right getting a receipt for it.  So it will just be another donation.  It’s the least we can do for all the blessings that continue to come our way.

I cannot WAIT to meet my niece, nephew, or both!  I can’t.  I love being an aunt.  Love it.  Almost…ALMOST as much as I love being a mom!

A Happy Day

Today, somewhere in Heaven, two guys are having birthdays…

Eddie’s Great Great Grandpa Edward Koops…
and Eddie’s Papa Steve Sluiter
These two are Eddie’s namesakes.  They shared a LOT, so it was only fitting that they shared Eddie.
And last year on their birthday…
Eddie was baptized in Papa Steve’s baptismal outfit.
Just because they aren’t around anymore,
doesn’t mean they aren’t around anymore.
We celebrate their birthdays by remembering the good times…
The love of a father and a son…
has been passed on and is celebrated again.
Today, somewhere in Heaven, someone is cracking a Busch Light and eating peach pie…
and smiling down on us and on Edward Steven Sluiter.
You can read Cortney’s birthday post to his dad at his blog, Tasty Buttered Toast

Happy Birthday, Bloggy Blog! {and giveaway, of course}

**UPDATE: The giveaway portion of this post is closed, so the comments are closed.  Stay tuned for a winner being announced tomorrow, Sunday, July 11!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Holy Cow, Sluiter Nation is THREE today!  Well, the blog Sluiter Nation, anyway.

When I stop and think about it, I can hardly remember not blogging.  I started this blog on July 7, 2007 after seeing my friend Trisha’s blog about her family. Back then hers was on blogger and she had started it to sort of keep people afloat of the goings on of her family.  I thought it was a GREAT idea since almost all of our friends from high school have moved out of state and our extended family is so big it’s hard to keep everyone up on all the information without hundreds of phone calls, emails, or visits.  And that just means repeating ourselves a thousand times.

So, Sluiter Nation was born.

My first post was about our trip to Montana.  I had no idea what I was doing. My pictures were all over the place and the writing was blah. I had no idea there was a whole “blogesphere” out there of other women and men who were recording all their thoughts and doings for the internets to see.  In fact, I was pretty sure the internets were not even paying the slightest attention to Sluiter Nation.

It wasn’t until this spring, when I got a comment from someone I didn’t know, that I realized that the internets might just be checking in on me every now and then.  And I did have some bloggy friends already.  I had never really been one to leave comments, but by this time, I was definitely a regular on a LOT of blogs.

The blog world is where I read symptoms of PPD for the first time and realized I was looking in a mirror.

With the support of Emily (DesignHerMomma), I was able to tell about my PPD.  I knew from the minute I found her blog that we were being thrown back together after all these years for a reason…and it wasn’t long before one of those reasons was apparent.  She has been a HUGE supporter of mine.

I have LOTS of bloggy friends now who I feel have helped me be a better (more frequent for sure) writer here in this “little” space.  All of your comments and all of your tweets and all of your blogs inspire me to keep writing here every day.  But really, Missy, you have been my number one fan (at least as evidenced by the sheer number of comments you leave) since the beginning.  You never fail to comment on my posts…I know I will NEVER have a post that says “0 comments” because of you!  You are THE Sluiter Nation groupie and I LOVE it!

This blog has gone from seven followers for about two and a half years to 101 Google Friend Connect followers and 107 Network Blog Followers! Woot to all of YOU!

{Giveaway!!!}

And to THANK YOU for reading faithfully, my wonderful twitter friend, Tricia of g6 scrapped and I are going to give one of YOU something!

Tricia is a graphic designer who creates the COOLEST scrapbook  layouts and card designs ever!  My favorite is the Punk Rock Daddy layout–you know I have a soft spot for all things rock n roll! So what is she so graciously offering to one of you?

  • One card design of your choice (It can be birthday cards, thank you cards, invitations, announcements, all-occasion cards, really ANYTHING!) using YOUR pictures!
  • 25 cards printed of the design she creates for you.

This is an AMAZING deal!  You KNOW you want to win this!  Seriously?  I WANT TO WIN THIS!  So…how to enter?

MANDATORY: Go to Tricia’s blog OR her etsy shop and find what you like best about her work and come back and tell me.

What?  You want to enter more than once?  Ok….
 In order for the following “extra” entries to count, they MUST each be left in individual comments.  It’s like putting your name in the raffle more than once that way!

  • Follow Tricia’s blog via Google Connect and come back here and leave a comment that you did.
  • Follow Sluiter Nation via Google Connect and come back here and leave a comment that you are.
  • Tweet this:  “GIVEAWAY! card design and print giveaway by @ksluiter and @g6scrapped at http://bit.ly/cWVr4e” and come back here and leave a comment that you did.

That is it!  Four chances to throw your name in the hat for this awesome giveaway!  So what are you waiting for?

Giveaway Terms and Conditions:  Anyone can win this giveaway as long as you have a valid email address for notification of win.  If you leave an anonymous comment or your comment is not a valid entry, I reserve the right to delete your comment/entry.  Please read directions.  Giveaway will run from Wednesday, July 7 until Saturday, July 10 at 6pm est.winner will be announced and contacted on Sunday, July 11.

Disclaimer:  I received warm fuzzies and a new friend by doing this giveaway.  I am so grateful to Tricia for wanting to team up with me on this!  Show her some love!

Hope Sinks, but Never Drowns

HOPE is when YOU believe what you want is attainable.

Seven years ago I was without hope.  And for what feels like a stupid reason now.  I don’t want to go into it too much because I don’t want to give it anymore thought, but I put most of my future hope in a guy.  Dumb.  Anyway, when he broke my heart after five years, I thought it was the end.  I was 25; I was back home in my small town after graduation college; I didn’t have a job; and I didn’t have many friends that lived near me anymore.  I didn’t know how to meet anyone new–I had spent all my “meet new people” years dating one guy.

Instead of seeing that now I was free to travel or do whatever I wanted with no ties, I was blinded by failure.  I spent days, weeks, months wallowing in my little house with my cat and Captain Morgan.

I wanted a teaching job that I could love.

I wanted a guy who would make me smile.

I wanted a family and a nice little house.

None of these things seemed attainable.  I thought I had completely failed. I had lost hope entirely. I had lost faith in myself as well as in the world around me.

But there were two people in my life who were determined NOT to let me drown my sorrows and myself over something like a guy.  They would NOT let my life fall apart.  They saw who I was before him and knew that that girl was still in there somewhere.

Those two people were my best friend, Tonya, and my husband, Cortney.

I know I have posted this picture before, but it’s my absolute favorite.  These two have stuck with me as I have swum in the depths of depression more times than I can count.  They are always my hope.

In fact, after that summer seven years ago, Cortney stuck by me as more than my friend.  We fell in love, and were married.  Tonya was there.  She cried and couldn’t finish her matron of honor speech.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen her break down.

It’s easy for me to sink into sadness and despair.  When bad happens to my Hope Team, I get swept up in it almost as much as they do.  I thought our world was over when Tonya was diagnosed with diabetes.  I took Cort’s pain into my heart when his dad died.  It’s hard for me to see the people who have been my strongest support have bad things happen.

But somehow, through their valleys and through my dark paths, they have kept that faith that all we want in life can happen.  I am beyond amazed at their strength every day, but even more they keep proving my doubt wrong.

I have a teaching job that I love.

I have a guy that makes me smile (every day!).

I have a family and a nice little house.

They are there with words of hope and positivity every time I start to doubt.  When feeling my worst, Tonya will text me that I am beautiful and that she loves me.  When I am just having a hard day and the anxiety is taking over, Cortney will hold my hand before bed and tell me he loves me.

And you know what?  Because of their love and strength, I am able to dig way down and find the fighter in me.  I can find the hope that suck way down to a place so deep I thought it would drown completely and take me with it.

When I don’t believe that we will make it financially , or that I will keep a job, or that we will be able to have more kids, or even that I will be able to wear a bikini again, Tonya and Cort prove me wrong.

They help ME to believe that the things I want ARE attainable.  They help me to have HOPE.

The Perfect Weekend

The fourth of July has always been sort of special us. Since finishing college, all of mine and Cort’s mutual friends from high school (and college) moved away around the country.  One of the only times of the year that we get to see some of them is The Fourth when they all come back to West Michigan.  This year was no different.

Although we missed some people (um, Phil and Liz?  that would be you.  Oh, and you and your no-car-lifestyle, Harbottles), we still managed (somehow) to enjoy ourselves. In fact, while getting settled in on the beach, we ran into our friend Emily, otherwise known to you bloggy friends as DesignHERmomma.  Small world.  Small “Great” Lake.

As I have blogged numerous times before, my friends’ aunt lives ON Lake Michigan.  We have been coming to this beach since high school.

Although throughout our college years, there were beer cans littering the beach, not sand toys.

Last year, Eddie was only eleven days old when we came out to see everyone, and we didn’t make it down to the beach (I couldn’t go down all those stairs.  something about an abdominal incision healing.  whatever.).

This year we were excited to see one of my BFF’s, Erin and her cowboy husband, Brad who live in Montana.  Cort’s BFF, Mat, was also in town from Colorado.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday on the beach.  Eddie helped Owen bury Mat in the sand.

And Cort took Eddie swimming.  We stopped at Meijer on the way out and picked up a $3 swimboat thing.  We weren’t sure how Eddie would do with the 1-3 foot waves, but he loved it!

The boys did a LOT of swimming.  The water was nearly 70 degrees and it felt great since it was nearly 90 degrees out! 
 
 
 A LOT of burying went on.  Mat, then Owen, then Cort.  We even buried Eddie’s legs, but he really wasn’t a fan.  I don’t blame him.  I get claustrophobic when that happens too.
After hours of playing on the beach and socializing with old friends, we had to pack up all of our gear and head over to the marina because, my friends, it was time for Slippery’s Pig Roast!
Cort’s dad (known as Slippery to many) spent quite a few years helping roast a pig every July.  We make an effort to get out there for the pig roast every year because it’s a really great fundraiser for the Yacht Club and Cort’s dad always loved it.  MacKenzie and Dave were there as well as Grandpa and Grandma Sluiter.  It was great to catch up and enjoy and event that was so dear to my father-in-law.
Of course the last event of the night was the fireworks over the lake.  Each year the Swanbergs and Visels are kind enough to invite our little family along.  Last year we had to pass since Eddie was so new and fresh and it would have just been too late for us.
But not this year!  This year we slapped Eddie’s life jacket on (which he is not really a fan of…I don’t know why.  Maybe because he becomes like a turtle stuck on its back when he’s in it), and we boarded The Crystal Lee IV for a putz out to Kollen Park for some fireworks
 Even though Eddie missed his afternoon nap and played in the sun and surf and was EXTREMELY tired, he was still in pretty good spirits for the boat ride.
 Although he got VERY sleepy.  Jake stroked his head and hugged him and told him he could just take a nap.  It was so very sweet.

Look how tired my little guy is!  Poor buddy!  Just can’t give in to sleep when there is a party of fun going on!

When we got out to Kollen Park, we anchored and waited for the sun to go down so the show could start.  Cort cuddled Eddie as best as he could with that unwieldy life jacket in the way.

Eddie had a pretty good time watching the other boats and the random, uh, illegal fireworks that were going off preshow.  But once the real deal started, he really didn’t care.  He was tired.  So Cort laid him on his side and he just drifted off to sleep when….the show ended and all the boats started sounding their horns.  This apparently is uncool to someone trying to sleep.

It didn’t take him long though, to drift back to sleep for good on our way back in to the marina.  He slept like a little rock all night.

So that today?  He could do it again!  That is right!  Today was Beach Day The Second:

Again we packed up all our gear and headed out to Lake Michigan. This time it wasn’t just us kid-havin’ folks down at the beach…

Even “The Cowboy” shed his Wranglers for mesh shorts and traded in his Stetson for a ball cap.  There were kids and dogs and people galore cooling off from the mid-ninety degree temps.

Eddie wants you to know this has been his best Fourth of July yet.  He seriously played for another two hours on that beach today.  He played with Owen again, and watched the dogs and the people.  He ate dug in the sand and went swimming.  In fact, when we carried him back up to leave, his little piggies were so shriveled they looked like little raisins.

 On the drive home today I realized just how lucky we are.  We know people with lakefront property.  We know people with a boat.  AND we LOVE all those people and they love us back.  Because of them, we spent the whole weekend celebrating our country’s independence while out on the water.  The weather cooperated.  The water temperatures were perfect.  I would not change a thing about this weekend.  It was perfect. 
Absolutely perfect.

Long Road

“I have wished for you so long…”

Somewhere inside of me, I have always longed to be a mom.

As a kid, I bossed my brothers around getting them to do what I wanted.  We played “house” and dress-up.  I “cooked” and took care of the “baby”.  I had great positive mom role models all around me, so I modeled what they did in my childhood play.

My brothers and I grew up.  In high school and college, my brothers would come to me with their problems–some serious, some not so much.  Either way, I mothered them.  I made sure they had gifts for our parents for all major holidays.  I made sure they met deadlines.  I listened to their broken hearts and their fears.  I doled out advice.  But most of all, I assured them that everything would be Ok.  That I would stay by their sides.

Then I became a high school teacher.  Suddenly I wasn’t just offering reading and writing assignments to students or teaching them the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”, I was listening to them after school.  I was hearing heartbreak and poverty issues.  I was helping students figure out how to get to school each day.  I was mentoring seniors to graduation and checking their homework and making sure they were meeting deadlines.  And apparently, according to some, I was giving the “mom look” when I was disappointed or when I disapproved.

All signs pointed to me someday being a successful mom.

“Will I walk the long road?”

Getting pregnant–or I should say staying pregnant–was not easy for me.  We suffered two devastating miscarriages.  Even though my heart and mind thought I should be a mom, my body was not cooperating.

And then came Eddie.  My sweet Eddie Bear.

“All the precious moments…”

I totally thought giving birth would instantly make me a mommy.  How wrong I was.  And taken by surprise.  Wasn’t I totally cut out for this?

I was NOT an instant mom.  Not by a long run.  My independent self was just not ready to give up itself.  PPD settled in hardcore and I became someone else.  I went to a very dark place during the time I thought would be the happiest, most joyful part of my life.

But there were moments.

Rocking a tiny baby in the wee hours of the morning.

Sleeping on the couch with my bundle so he would feel safe, and not lonely in a big empty crib.

Watching him belly laugh for the first time.

Seeing him learn to “interact” with the squid that hung down from his play mat.

Listening to him coo to the elephant on the wall by his changing table.

“All the memories going round, round, round, round…”

Looking back over this year of being a Momma, I have learned this about myself:

“Mothering” and being “A Mother” are two very different things.  You can mother someone and then leave the situation.  When you are A Mother, you are it. period.

I can do things I didn’t think I could.

I am not “just” Eddie’s Mom, but that is a new, important PART of who I am.

I really can survive on less than eight hours of sleep.  Regularly.

My mom was right, I don’t sleep past 9:00 am anymore (although she figured this would end when I got my first “real” job.  Yeah, right.)

I am not the most important person in my life anymore…

…BUT my health is very important to those who ARE most important in my life now.

I thought I was funny.  I was wrong.  Eddie is funny.  Hilarious even.  I do not compare.

Speaking of comparing?  I can’t. I can’t compare myself or Eddie too closely with other mommas.

I can’t do it on my own.  Cortney has been a VITAL part in any of this momma business being successful.  He makes me a better mom by being a great husband and dad-do.

I am NOT alone.  I have friends, family, bloggy friends, twitter friends, and other Theta Moms who are helping me figure all this out and are celebrating my victories with me.

I am not perfect.  And that is Ok.  Eddie (and Cort) will love me anyway.  And I will become better and stronger because of my imperfections.  And maybe these imperfections and what I learn will help others.

“I have wished for you so long…
how I wish for you today
Will I walk the long road?
We all walk the long road.”



 *lyrics from Long Road by Pearl Jam
 
This post was written in response to the blog celebration Theta Mom is having this week where she asks her readers to share why they are theta moms.

Head over and read other testimonials about being a Theta Mom!

The First of Many…

As you all know, my wee little Eddie Bear turned the big ONE last week.  We did a little celebration at home: presents, cake, out for dinner, but the BIG party was this past Saturday.

Um, you guys?  I did NOT know how much work, money, or effort went into a first birthday party.  (Cue the laughter of all my friends who “told me so” for the past seven years of them having kids.)  Seriously, the morning of the party I felt like when I was in the role of “fixer” or “mistress of ceremony” or “personal attendant” at weddings.  Frantic.  I had a clipboard and lists.  I had to pick up a cake, balloons, and Jimmy Johns.  We had all our tables and chairs and the decor there already, we just had to set up.  Eddie had to be on schedule to get there.  Good grief!

Anyway…the party!  My parents were SO kind to let us have the party at their house.  They have a MUCH bigger outdoor area than we do, but more importantly, they had room INSIDE in case of rain.  Which didn’t happen, THANK YOU WEATHER!  It was humid and hot, but at least rain wasn’t thrown in the mix.

So…before the peeps got there, we set up:

All of my mom and dad’s tables and chairs (and some of ours) set up in the driveway.
Rock star themed decor for my little rock star.
Swag for the 10 and under crowd
The swag:  up close.  Eddie’s A-list friends got a sand bucket filled with noise makers, sunglasses, bubble necklaces in the shape of a guitar, and some temporary tattoos.
As Cort says, “balloons are the international sign for ‘the party’s here’.”
We had a rock star cake and cup cakes.
And a place for people to write Eddie a birthday wish (totally thanks to my twitter friends for this idea!)
And of course the food.  We got Jimmy Johns sandwich platters and some salads and chips.  Easy peasy and oh so yummy!
After lunch it was time for present opening!  Twelve of Eddie’s little friends were there with their parents along with all his aunties and uncles and grandparents.  They were all MORE than generous to our little guy.  His Granny and Gramps bought him a trike (which he has already tried out and loves) and his Grandma and Grandpa R bought him a wagon and bike helmet.  He likes the wagon better than the bike helmet so far.
After Eddie opened his gifts, he (ok, I) directed his friends to their gifts…you remember the buckets.
The swag was a clear party hit.
Everyone was excited to dig into their buckets!
Or spill them on the ground.
Even the littlest of Eddie’s friends (Ethan, his BFF) sat and picked out which tat he would like on his arm.
Oh yeah.
Then it was time to sing to the birthday boy.  He LOVES being the center of attention.  I have NO idea where that came from.  ahem.
He blew out his candles and hopefully made a great wish.
And this happened.  What can I say?  The boy LOVES cake and frosting.  Can you blame him?
After a long day, we got home and Eddie went straight to bed and took a MONDO nap.  The boy was whipped.  But when he awoke…oh the new toys!  Birthday fun clearly vomited all over our house.  And he LOVES it! They are all so fun and exciting!
It has taken me a while to write this post 1) because there were so many pictures and 2) because I just didn’t know how to express my thanks to all the people that put us on their priority list for the day.  I didn’t do the party because Eddie needed toys, but I always want him to know people love him.  
And yes, I did realize that in 139 pictures of the day, there were none of Eddie with his dad-do.  Daddy was behind the camera all day because he says there aren’t enough pictures of me with Eddie.  But don’t you worry….
I snuck a picture of Cort enjoying a post-birthday party cupcake.  Yes, we all had a grand time celebrating this first year of Eddie’s life.  We can’t wait to do this many, many more times…well, maybe without the monster party every year, but definitely with the love!
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