What’s In a Name?

My over-quoted (and often times misunderstood) friend, Billy Shakespeare once wrote this line for a swoony 14-year old character named Juliet who was pining over a boy who happened to be from the rival family:

What is in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

But it is the line that I think of whenever I talk about how Eddie got his name or when people ask me to pronounce my last name.

It’s true, Eddie would be the same little sweetie pants if his name was Banana Hammock, but really?

 Is this the face of someone named Banana Hammock?  I think not.  So I think Juliet is wrong.  I don’t think something called Stank Flower WOULD smell as sweet as a rose.  That is how things GET their names…by their characteristics.

So how did Eddie get his name?  My efriend, Sian told me she would LOVE to hear (er, read?) the story.  It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s how even before we met this chocolate-loving face, we knew his name.

Eddie’s full name is Edward Steven Sluiter.

This was the ONLY name we wanted for a boy.  We had girl names picked out too, you know, in case, but the ONE name that was completely solid was Edward Steven.

Eddie was supposed to have a grandpa named Steve.  Papa Steve died four years before Eddie was born.  This is Papa Steve:

Good looking guy, wasn’t he?  Yeah, don’t let that tie and jacket fool you either.  This guy?  He was a ball of fun and had a naughty little twinkle in his eye.  So this is where Eddie’s middle name came from.  His Papa.

On a side note, this picture sits on our bookcase and Eddie can reach it.  He took it down so many times and “kissed” it that I had to move it for fear that he would one day accidentally break the glass. We still take it down together though and I tell him how cool his Papa is.

Soo…his first name.  My husband had a Great Grandpa named Edward.  This Great Grandpa was Steve’s Grandpa.  Are you following?  Well, Papa Steve and Super Great Grandpa Edward shared not only a birthday (August 9), but they also had a special bond.  They were inseparable.  So Eddie got his name from Super Great Grandpa Edward.  Here is Super Great Grandpa:

I know, I know.  ALSO a great looking chap. You are probably seeing some family resemblance by now.

When we told Cort’s Grandma Sluiter Eddie’s name, she said, “my dad and my son.”  I never thought of it that way until right then.  It was so special.

We even had Eddie baptized on August 9 (his namesakes’ birthdays) in his Papa Steve’s baptismal outfit.

So like I said, we name things by their characteristics.  Something inside me (maybe even Eddie himself) had me CONVINCED this child was going to look like his daddy (and the men from that side of the family).  So his name?  Fit the characteristics I just KNEW he would have.  His Papa was funny and dazzlingly witty (so is his daddy, by the way). His Super Great Grandpa was strong and hard working.  And the chubby cheeks and curly hair?  It had to be.

BUT…really, I can’t end this post here, because Eddie’s WHOLE name is Edward Steven Sluiter.

Sluiter has it’s place at the top of this blog.  Sluiter is on my classroom door.  Sluiter is on all our mail.  Shoot there are even teenagers running around with Sluiter blazoned across their chests on T-shirts.  So SLUITER is a big part of Eddie’s name.

Sluiter is Dutch in origin.  In “The Old Country” it is pronounced SLOOTER (and if you are watching World Cup?  You might just see someone pronouncing it that way).

Here in the States?  We do NOT pronounce it that way.  I felt the need to clear this up recently because I got a comment that whenever this particular reader looks the blog she thinks in her head “Slut-y-ier Nation”.  Um.  no please.  NO.  No sluts here.

It’s pronounced “Sliter”.  Or “Sly-ter”  When we were in high school my husband told me, “it’s like your slider door to the backyard, but with a ‘t’.”  That “u”?  Totally U-seless.  Not doing a dang thing in there but being all Dutch.  But I like it.  Because when I look at our last name, I see “u” and “i”.  you and I.  A team.  A Nation.

So there you have it.

photo credit: mLphotography
Edward Steven Sluiter
OH!  And before I sign off…I was recently given yet another award (seriously?  you guys are generous and awesome and oh so kind to me).  Karen, one of my newest efriends, of the wonderful Completely Chaotic…And Loving It, gave me this sunny little guy!
I like to think I am sunny.  Sunny is good.  I do strive for sunny most days, so THANK YOU, Karen!  Warm sunny vibes right back at ya!
And now, to pass some sunny delight (he he) on to some others….
AND AND AND…Did I tell you that my sister-in-law and her hubs are adopting from Ethiopia?  Yes!  It is true!  I am going to be an auntie all over again!  It is SO exciting.  But holy COW is adoption expensive.  If you get a minute, could you bounce over to their blog, Stepping Stones?  They are doing great things over there…and some of it will be coming over HERE soon!
If you read their blog and want to participate in the online auction by donating something, PLEASE let me know!  Their financial burden is great, and all I have to give them is what i can do on this little blog…but YOU can do so much more.  Let me know.
And now? Now I need to end this Long Post.
But I will leave you one more picture of Edward Steven Sluiter.  Because an Eddie by any other name would NOT be as sweet…at least not to me!
Yeah, cruising the beach chicas…and eatin’ sand.  Word.

Then and Now {and a Giveaway!}

Dear Eddie,
Then, you were so very small.  Daddy and I tried to prepare for you as best as we could, but we had no idea what it would be like to have such a tiny little person in our house with us.  You were just so small (even if EVERYONE kept calling you huge, you were tiny to us).

You stayed bundled up like a little burrito in your receiving blankets in your swing.  Your hair was so brown.

Your pipey was almost as big as your face. Your hands and feet had all that new baby dry skin.  I couldn’t stop holding your little fingers.

Your eyes were so dark and beautiful.  You seemed to know something.  You seemed wise.  But at the same time…

…you were so little.  Your bib was as big as the rest of you!  The car seat seemed to eat you alive.  Hats swallowed your little face.

You needed LOTS of cuddling because your tummy was not happy.  The formula we had just didn’t agree with you and you had so many bubbles in your little tummy.

you were so relaxed at bath time, though, that you would pee and then fall asleep.  With your chubby little tummy sticking out of the tub.

You seemed to weigh nothing.  I loved to show you off and dress you in cute outfits.  I mean, those shoes?  Awesome.

Every morning for the first two weeks at home this is what we did.  I got up with you around 4:00 or 5:00 and gave you your bottle and we would snuggle together until daddy woke us up just after 9:00 with Starbucks for me, and another bottle for you.  Every. Morning.

Back then we could lay you down and you didn’t move.  You did cry though.  a LOT.  even after we switched you to soy, you were a mad little man.  An angerball.  But what a cute little angerball.

And your pooping was about once or twice a week.  And humorous because your whole face head turned red and you got a dimple when you grunted.

Did I mention that you were squishy and wonderful?  Our lives had changed.  The kitchen counter was now set up as a feeding station. There was a little blue tub IN our regular tub.  Swings and bouncey seats and boppys and bumbos and receiving blankets and burp clothes took over our whole house.  We had a baby.

And then…just like that, I blinked.  Eddie, I blinked and you were one year old.  You were not a baby anymore.  You are now a toddler with QUITE a personality.

Every morning daddy helps you brush your eight teeth.  EIGHT!  And you are so good at it!  You can even hold the toothbrush–although you tend to suck on it more than brush.

You can open your own gifts.  A year ago you laid in a little baby cart in the hospital and I opened all your gifts.  Now you are a big boy and can do it yourself.  You tear the paper and play with the bow!  It’s all so exciting!

and you can even eat cake!  You are messy when you do it, but you can feed yourself AND digest the sweets!  and have FUN doing it!

You can sit up in your booster and eat a birthday dinner of fruit and chicken fingers in a restaurant with water in your sippy.  No more bottles for you, big guy!

You even charm all the waitresses into singing for you!  That is right, our waitress thought you were the cutest thing and you were most definitely flirting with her.  Flirting your way into another piece of chocolate cake for the day!

Our house is rarely picked up anymore.  Then we could set you in your bouncy and you didn’t do much.  Now we set you down and off you go to explore!

There are so many things you can do NOW.  You can walk.  You can squat and pick up toys (like your new John Deere radio from the Eiks in Montana!).  You can bring it over to us.  And you LOVE to point everything out to us.

And now you are so mobile that I can’t even get a good picture of you!  They are all blurry because, big boy, you’ve got places to GO!

And you want the world to know you are ON YOUR WAY!  Eddie, I am pretty sure you will go far with your powerful voice, your command of attention, your amazing blue eyes, and your devilishly handsome smile.

You’ve already got your momma wrapped around your finger with all those qualities and more. I love to listen to the stories you tell me, and spend our special momma/Eddie time together at night when I read you a book, sing you a song, and rock you to sleep.  I am trying so hard to be a good momma to you.  There are lots of battles I have had to fight for myself and for you and for our momma/son bond, but I know it will all be worth it.  You are worth it.  And I won’t stop fighting for you EVER.  Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet boy.

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby YOU’LL be,
Love,
Your momma

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And now, because he is officially a big boy, Eddie would LOVE to give YOU something in honor of his birthday!
Eddie loves to read.  I think he got that quality from his momma who ALSO loves to read.  
SIDE NOTE: In fact, I have a book blog over here that is going to have a mad awesome series called “July is SUMMER Reading Month” that will feature lots of great guest bloggers and some fun giveaways!  So stay tuned.
Ahem…the giveaway…right.
As I was saying, Eddie and I love to read.  We hope you do too.  Because of our love, we are giving away a $25 Gift Certificate to Barnes and Noble!
Anyone can win this!  All you have to do to enter is the following:
Mandatory to enter:  Leave me a comment here.  Any old comment will do.
Extra entries (please leave extra entries in their own comment space. That means use a SEPARATE comment for each entry.  If you don’t, your extra entries WON’T be counted):
1. “like” Sluiter Nation on facebook and come back and tell me you did (or if you do already, tell me that)
2. become a follower using the Google Friend Connect on the side of my blog and comment that you did (or tell me if you already are a follower…and thank you, by the way)

3. Tweet the following:  “Giveaway!!@ksluiter is giving away the gift of reading at http://bit.ly/ctS3lp!  Enter now!” Make sure to come back and tell me that you did! (one tweet per day)

That is it!  This giveaway will end Sunday, June 27 at 6:00 pm.  A winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced Monday morning.

The disclaimer stuff:  You must have a valid email address to win.  You don’t need to be a blogger, but you need to leave some sort of way for me to get a hold of you if you win.  Also, Barnes and Nobles did not give me a darn thing to do this.  How lovely it would be to have them as a sponsor, but alas, this one is from my own pocket because Sluiter Nation appreciates it’s readers that much.

Becoming Ma Ma Ma Ma: Eddie’s Day

I’ve been chronicling Eddie’s arrival in this world in a three part series called Becoming Ma Ma Ma Ma.  Part I: The Storm can be found here, and Part II: The Wedding can be found here.  I felt like I needed to do this because looking back, that kid certainly decided to make everyone stay on the edge of their seats about his arrival.  So anyway, he was due Tuesday, June 23, 2009.  Sunday was Father’s Day (which I talk about here).

Which puts us on the day before his due date:  Monday, June 22, 2009.  I was supposed to have my 40 week OB appointment that day.  I woke up completely uncomfortable.  I was big, sluggish, and I sort of had a crampy thing going on.  I figured the out of control weekend had really done a number on my poor overworked body.

Oh, and my feet looked like this:

I wasn’t comfortable AT ALL.  So anyway, those cramps.  I really thought nothing of them.  However, my lunch I was bitching about them a lot.  Cort came home from the office to eat with me and told me just to ask the doc about it that afternoon and he would see me there.

About an hour before my appointment, I called my mom to ask what a contraction felt like.  She was not helpful.  She couldn’t remember but said she didn’t think I was having them.  I was feeling sort of icky still though so I called Cort to pick me up rather than meet me at the appointment.

The doctor had the good news that I was 1.5 cm dilated and about 75% effaced, but he also didn’t really think I was in labor either because I wasn’t having any tightening of my tummy (I had had TONS of BH contractions throughout my pregnancy and NONE of that tightening at this point).  So he sent me home telling me that the next day (Tuesday) they would do a baby stress test and possibly induce by the weekend since Eddie was measuring over 8 pounds already.  Great.

The rest of the day the cramping just got worse, but no tightening.  So I just thought my body was mad at me.  Looking back I laugh because BOY WAS I DUMB!  But how was I supposed to know?  So I just tried to tough it out.  All night.  Sometime around midnight Cort did some investigating on the good old internet and decided that I must be dehydrated.  So I chugged one (plus some) bottles of water.  So now I was crampy and needing to pee every second (as if that wasn’t happening already).

Finally at 2:00am, I moved out of the bedroom to my chair in the living room and for a good hour tried to feel better/sleep.  But apparently when I am in pain like that?  I am loud.  Around 3:30 Cort came out and asked me what we should do.  The doc was called.  Cort asked if I wanted to talk to him.  I gave the stink-eye and MAY have sworn. It was decided I should be checked out.

So, STILL under the impression that this is not real labor, we pile me into the truck.  Now keep in mind I had this packed for two weeks:

but did we bring it?  NOOOOO.  Or the camera.  Or anything.  And what was I wearing?  Please picture this:  old non-maternity jammy pants that had a rip from the inside of my right thigh right on up to the crotch, a wife-beater-esque shirt that was supposedly maternity (it did NOT cover my whole tummy) that said “Got Male” on the front, and black flip flops that barely fit on my HUGE swollen feet.  And my hair was a greasy, messy knot on the top of my head.  I. was. hot.

Oh, and it was 90 degrees.  At 4:00 in the morning.  Awesome.  The only heat wave we had ALL SUMMER.

So recap:  It is hot, I am hot, it is now Tuesday, June 23, 2009.  The due date. just after 4:00 am with ZERO sleep all night.  No showers.  Following me?  Good.

We get to the hospital.  This is when things start to blur for me.  I distinctly remember telling the triage nurse at the ER door that I did NOT need a wheelchair, and then I distinctly remember a nurse named Katherine (oh hey, sweet name) whisking me to a birthing suite IN a wheelchair.  We were in the bathroom.  I was suddenly in a gown.

Oh, and I remember that at that point, I did not care about my fat, naked body.  It was the first time EVER that I wasn’t self-conscious.  I knew this was the nurse’s job–to deal with fat, naked pregnant ladies and their fluids.  So from that moment on, I just wanted the pain to STOP.

Then I remember being told, “oh, you’re 4.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced and having very regular contractions.”  What?  I’m in labor?  And over 4 cm?  BRING ME THE DRUGS!

The anesthesiologist showed up and had  not been concentrating so hard on the stupid decorative tile of a garden pond scene (which seemed humid to me…probably because it was 90 degrees outside) above me in the bed and breathing through those contractions, I would have kissed that man. Cort was immediately impressed with  my ability to get through the contractions and just welcome that big needle (I didn’t have to SEE the needle, so who cared.  It made me feel better!)

So good in fact that I sent Cortney home to get my bag and the camera, and I sat and texted to people that I was in the hospital.  It was only just before 7:00am, so most people were just getting to work or on their way to work.

The nurse implied to us that Cort should hurry since I was moving along quite nicely.  Yeah, that’s what I like to hear!  Let’s get our guy here!

We only live about 5 minutes away, so Cort was back by 7:30 and I was watching the Today show.  Huh.  I am never up early enough to watch this.

So we spent the next few hours progressing QUICKLY!  I was all the way to 9.5cm by 11:15 and was about 99.9% effaced.  Eddie was coming down slowly, but surely.  Everyone figured he would be born by lunch time.

By 12:30 I am told they would give me three more hours before C-section became a real issue on the table. Also by this time I am told Cort could eat my lunch and I could have some sips of 7-up and a couple soda crackers.  thanks. My mom also stopped in because she couldn’t stand to stay at work while I was in labor.  She is cute that way.

Right around 2:00 I started feeling all yucky again and realized I just wanted to push.  Ok, I may have said I felt like grunting.  My nurse (the WONDERFUL Nurse Vikki), said, “you do?  let’s do this!” and just like that I was all set up ready to get moving. I pushed and pushed for what felt like 15 minutes, but was really the quickest two hours of my life.

I was so warm.  I just couldn’t get enough COLD on my forehead.  Cort kept a cold wet washcloth on my head, but it seemed like it just wasn’t enough.  And I was getting SOOOO tired.  All of a sudden Nurse Vikki stepped out in the hall, came back and said I had a C-Section scheduled at 4:30.  I looked up and the clock said 4:22.

WHAT!?!?!  No!  Wait!  I told her, “I think I am afraid of that!”  And she said, “oh no honey, it’s just like if he was born in here.  I will be there with all my stuff ready to catch him clean him up!  It’s going to be great!”  I signed a couple things and was whisked out of my lovely suite and down the hall.

I remember then letting me keep the washcloth on my forehead.  I also remember, as they brought me down the hall to the elevator, seeing the double doors that separated the birth floor from the lobby.  In one of the door windows was my mom giving me a thumbs up and in the other was my baby brother looking terrified.  Lovely.

Then I remember Cortney leaving my side and them telling me NOT TO PUSH.  Holy cow was that hard!  The only relief from the pain (they gave me just enough in my epidural so that I could feel when to push) was pushing!  So now I had to breath through it ALL OVER AGAIN.  I don’t remember a lot of the prep.  I was SOO tired.  I know they did a “prick test” to see if my meds were working.  When the anesthesiologist asked me if I could “feel anything”, I wasn’t sure what to say because yes, I could feel SOMETHING touching me. His response?  Well we were pulling some pretty sharp objects over your belly, so I guess we are ready to go!

Awesome.  or something.  I told him maybe I would just take a quick nap.  He told me to do whatever I wanted.

Cort was in a little room during this time getting his scrubs on.  He was cute.

Anyway, after what seemed like forever, Cortney was allowed to come in and sit by my head.  I told him not to look at my guts.  So my tummy was opened up.  Again, my anesthesiologist (who by the way was SUPER enthusiastic) exclaimed, he’s got brown hair!  Thanks, guy.

LOTS of tugging and pulling (and apparently elbow throwing) later, Eddie is popped out.

What a big boy!  He weighed in at 9 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches long. I later found out that a number of elements lead to the C-section.  Apparently my OB and Nurse Vikki were pretty sure by the size of his head and the structure of my pelvis, that he wasn’t going to come out vaginally, but they were going to let me try.  However, after more than two hours of pushing, his heart rate suddenly plummeted (he was pooped) and I spiked a big old fever of around 103 degrees (and was EXTREMELY tired).  But none of that mattered to me.  I didn’t even care that he was a C-Section baby. He was perfect.

After they stapled me back up, Cort took Eddie up with the doc to have all his whatevers done, and the nurses asked me if I wanted to recover in my room or in the recovery room.  I knew all our family was upstairs, so I asked if I could just take a little nap.  The nurses were SO kind and loving to me.  The took me to the recovery room and gently tucked me in and made me comfy.  I took a lovely hour snooze.  Then I was taken up to my room (where my whole family was waiting), and I was handed my little son.  On his due date.

My little Eddie Bear.  One year ago.  How has it been a whole year?  How?

Ok, now cue the picture montage.  Because I know that is what you all REALLY want.

After a night’s sleep, Eddie’s second day in the world
 Getting ready to go home from the hospital.  NOT liking the car seat.  This changes QUICKLY.
at home.  he didn’t like the big, lonely crib.  the swing was more snuggly.
 Talking with Daddy

Not yet a fan of bath.  This will also change.
Burping.  This happens a lot.
During Eddie’s first week.
There it is.  Eddie’s birth story.  Stay tuned tomorrow for how his birthday went and what he wants to giveaway to one of YOU in honor of his first year of life!

By the way, it should be noted that each night I was in the hospital (june 23, 24, and 25)?  The Detroit Tigers beat the Cubs.  Yup.  Full sweep.  And we dubbed Ryan Raburn Eddie’s tiger.  Atta boy, Raburn.  And welcome to our obsession, Eddie.

Becoming Ma Ma Ma Ma: The Wedding

In honor of Eddie’s first birthday coming up this week, I have been posting his birth story.  His birthday story is so involved…and I LOVE IT!

So if you missed the last one, you can find it here…all about how we got caught in the WORST storm our area has seen in a LONG time.  I did not go into labor–even though there were bets that I would.  And so…the story continues with

Part II: The Wedding: June 20, 2009

So after the massive storm, I rolled my massively pregnant self out of bed after about 3 hours of sleep.  I turned on the news and realized the damage to the city was MASSIVE.  I was hoping everyone would still be able to get to the church on time!

The girls had to be there at 9:00 if I remember correctly.  There were seven bridesmaids, a flower, girl, and the bride to get ready.  I got my hair done and proceeded to plop down in a glider, not to get up again until I am told to get my dress on.

Yike!  I totally need make-up, but at least my feet are up!

All during pictures, I had to keep sitting down.  I felt heavy this day. Like Eddie dropped, but I know now he didn’t really, but he was ready to drop.  Maybe that is why everything was just so slow.  I was also a million degrees even though it really wasn’t that hot out.

Um..who is that GIANT bridesmaid on the end?  Oh yeah, that would be me…and Eddie!

My beautiful, little sister-in-law made me feel huge.  Oh wait, no, that was the giant baby in my tummy.  And yes, I rocked some sexy heels for the wedding.  I was NOT going to wear ugly shoes just to be comfortable!

I sort of stuck out from the crowd.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful.  I was the last in line, closest to the pews in case I had to sit down.  Cort was the usher on my side of the church, so he was standing right behind me.  I started to get a little over-heated and felt like I might lose it, but then the ceremony was over, and I proceeded to the back of the church where I sat on the ac unit.

After the wedding the whole wedding party rode a trolley around for pictures.  Well, I did NOT ride the trolley–I wasn’t too keen on jiggling Eddie out yet that evening.  We had to ditch out of pictures early though due to Eddie playing pat-a-cake with my bladder.

The reception was lovely.  I found out later that people were judging when to leave by how long I was there.  People kept saying, “I can’t leave before the pregnant bridesmaid!”  Ha!  And I held on until almost 11:00pm!

I even danced.  Oh yes, I did!  Poor Cortney could hardly get close to me, but there we were!

When I finally got home I just felt exhausted.  Exhausted and far more uncomfortable than I had ever been during the pregnancy.

The next day was Father’s Day, which meant a bunch more family time, and I was definitely looking forward to my doctor’s appointment on Monday day to see if I danced that baby any further to wanting to come OUT.

To Be Continued with The Finale:  Eddie’s Day.

Thankful Thursday…

I usually don’t participate in too many memes.  I think they are a super idea and are definitely great for blog writing prompts.  I just don’t usually do them, but I LOVE reading other people’s.  Especially Thankful Thursdays, which I decided to participate in today.

So here is what I am thankful for today, Thursday, June 17…

1. My marriage.  Tomorrow Cort and I celebrate five years of marriage.  I could not have been blessed with a more perfect life partner.  He is the sane to my crazy, the rational to my irrational, and the cracker for my cheese.  He is the best.

2. My wee one.  Eddie makes me laugh on a daily basis.  Last night I was rocking him before bed and I buried my face in his little wispy hair and told God that this was enough.  I didn’t care about my job.  I cared about my family.  Whatever was in the plan was fine, just let me always have THIS.

3. My job.  Ok, so turns out I DO care about my job.  I LOVE my job (but my family really comes first)!  And today I got the best phone call I could have possibly gotten…I am OFF the pink slip list!  OFF!  That means my position is SAFE for next year.  I will be teaching Spanish full-time, but I am TOTALLY ok with that…I have some big, awesome plans for it.  I am so very thankful for that call today!

4.  All of you.  ALL OF YOU.  Each one of you whether you comment here, you email me, you hit me up on facebook, or you just silently say a little prayer and never tell me you do…we love you and are so thankful to you.  This blog is my therapy…my way of writing out what is going on with us whether it’s happy or sad.  but you, who come back over and over, are the reason I KEEP doing it.  Thank you so much for all your words of encouragement and for just BEING THERE for us.  You rock.

5. And finally, I am thankful for all my new e-friends out there–all you mommas who are doing what you do and rocking it out even though stuff hits the fan occasionally (or more than occasionally).  Today I was given an award by Kimberly of All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something.  She is one of the toughest bee-otches out there and I have nothing but love and respect for her.  I was pretty honored that she thought of me…so here it is….

Kimberly had stated that “Life will be good again, I just have to make it over this hump.” She totally will make it because she is just that awesome.  And I will make it too.  The phone call this morning about the job was a HUGE  leap to getting over that hump for me.
So…the rules…accept the award (done!), answer the following questions, and pass it on to however many blogs you want.
My answers to the burning questions:
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be many things. I distinctly remember in the third grade wanting to be a telephone operator because I thought I would get to push buttons all day (um, what?  clearly computers were not big yet because now we ALL push buttons all day).
But I always had teaching inclinations.  At a young, young age I taught both brothers to read (by the time they were each four). I used the “Learn it, Or Die” method.  
I would set up our “classroom” in the basement.  We had an easel (is that how you spell that?) with a chalkboard on one side that I would write letters and  short words on.  I taught my brother, Chris, to, too, and two when he was four.  This probably should have clued us all that English teacher was in my future.
What is your most prized material possession?
My new camera.  My parents and my husband chipped in and bought me a Canon Rebel XS for my birthday this year and I love it to the moon and back again.  Whenever I have to use my old point and shoot (like at the beach) I am reminded how much I love the new one.
Do you have an iGadgetOfSomeDescription?
I have an ipod nano and and ipod shuffle.  we also use itunes.
What is your poison–hot shower or warm bath?
I LOVE a good hot shower–especially right after Eddie was born.  It was literally my favorite part of the day.
What is the best decision you ever made?
This one is so hard for me.  I have made some really great choices in life, but probably the best was to go with my heart when my husband told me he “liked” me seven years ago.  Giving in led to this life we have now–even with all the crap that gets thrown at us–I wouldn’t want to be in it with anyone else.
Ok, now I get to pass this award along to some super awesome bloggers…so here it goes…
Lynette at Life…and my journey through it– she is the most feisty cancer fighter I know.  She will throw breast cancer out the window and kick it while it’s down!
Alissa at Mommy and Molly – she is going through so much and she is too awesome for any of it.  So she will come out on top of all that crap!
Tiffany at MomNom – She is a momma warrior who has a beautiful heart and voice.
Maureen at Tatter Scoops – by far one of the sweetest momma warriors out there!
That is all I can think of for now…really every single ONE of you bloggy mom’s deserves this because you are awesome and my MY life oh, so good!

And The Award Goes To….

ME!!!

That’s right, Sluiter Nation has been given it’s FIRST bloggy award!  I am so proud I could burst!  I’ve seen other blogs get awards from people, and I know that they “don’t mean anything”, but this one SOO does to me.  Let me explain.  First of all…this is my award:

That’s right, the “Beautiful Blogger” award!  It was presented to me by the very sweet Pumpkin and Piglet (go check out her blog…she is British and I always try to read her blog with a British accent…she would probably think I am crazy).  Her little “piglet” is one of the cutest little things I have ever seen in my life!  Anyway, I digress…

I woke up this morning with a comment from her that she had this for me.  She has no idea the great timing of this.  Yesterday I was in a funk.  I am still adjusting to being home with Eddie and Cortney all day, and it is making me realize all the stuff I miss when I am at work.  Funk.  Then I am looking at pictures of my beautiful friends.  They are gorgeous.  I suddenly felt very, very plain.  Very UNbeautiful.  Funk.  This 5K training thing is hard and I feel ugly doing it.  Funk.

Then this.  Oh Pumpkin, my dear, you have NO idea how much I needed this this morning!  So….without further ado, I will get to the “rules” involved with accepting this award.  I have to list seven things you might now know about me (which I feel is hard since I share EVERYTHING, but here goes):

1. I was a good kid in high school.  Seriously.  I said no to drinking and smoking and all the OTHER temptations that high schoolers are faced with (yes, mom, it’s true!).  A friend’s parents always said there is a time and a place for everything:  college.

2. I love going to rock concerts.  LOVE.  I’ve seen over a hundred shows (my first one was when I was 15 when my then boyfriend and I went to see Aerosmith and Collective Soul at The Palace near Detroit).  I’ve seen some pretty heavy metal stuff, but my favorites are REM and Pearl Jam (both of which I have seen multiple times).

3. I teach Spanish but I can’t roll my R’s and I’ve never traveled to a Spanish-speaking country (I hope to change this)!

4. I am a member Century Club.  This tends to impress Cort’s friends.  If you don’t know what it is, you can ask me.  Mom, don’t ask me.

5. I have scars on my toes from when they got caught in the windshield wipers on the car.  I was little and trying to slide off the roof after washing the car for my mom.  SNAP! 

6. I grew up near Lake Michigan, my family always vacationed on small inland lakes, we had a boat, my cousin had a pool, and I still don’t really know how to swim well…and I am terrified of drowning.

7. I rolled my first car when I was 16.  Rolled it right into a ditch.  Stupid icey roads. 

Ok, there it is.  Now I get to pass it on to 15 other bloggers who I think are beautiful.  Hmmm…here goes:
1. Grace at Arms Wide Open
2. Miranda at Not Super…Just Mom
3. Emily at DesignHERmomma
4. Lauren at My Postpartum Voice
5. Chris at More on the Other Side
6. Dawana at A Bittersweet Existence
7. Blair at Heir to Blair
8. Lu at Jaded Perspective
9. Missy at mL Photography
10. Casey at moosh in indy
11. Jessica at The Unemployed Mom
12. Kimberly at All Work & No Play Make Mommy Go Something Something
13. Tiffany at Mom Nom
14. Alissa at Mommy and Molly
15. Lindsey at Waking Up Williams

Whew!  That was difficult because I STILL left off people I love.  But I can say that each one of these beautiful bloggers makes me smile, laugh, cry, feel inspired, and actually feel beautiful on a daily basis.  Their words and pictures make my day and are why I have gotten so into the blogging world lately.  Please check out their blogs and leave them some comment love!

And one more big thanks to Pumpkin and Piglet for making my day!

Celebrating a New Step

Last night I found myself in my black Master’s cap and gown and hood (Go Broncos!) for the seventh time (well, eighth if you count my own graduation from WMU).  As the staff gathered in the Media Center I looked around me.  There were faculty who were new to our school this year who were struggling to figure out how to attach the hood to their gown.  There were also staff members who had been through this ritual over 30 times.

In the cafeteria was a sea of blue and white.  Everyone straightening their caps, fixing their cords, questioning their tassel position.  Each gown dotted with a tiny green ribbon reminding us all of the graduate who was missing.

Pomp and Circumstance.

A parade of black and blue and white.

As I sat down, I looked around the gym.  So many happy faces.  I see past students, parents, friends.  I see balloons and flowers and cow bells.  I see camera flashes and ecstatic mothers.  I see tears.

Last week, my seniors in my Speech class gave farewell speeches.  One student stood up and told the class he was going to be the first in his family to graduate from high school.  This started a chain reaction of sharing.  First graduates in families.  First girl to not get pregnant in high school.  First male to not go to jail.  It was amazing.  Last night I picked out all my students and saw their families just beaming for them.

It occurred to me last night that while every year it is mandatory for staff to show up at 6:30 and get cap and gown in tact, it is not every year that these parents watch their babies graduate.  It’s the first time for many of them.  I knot formed in my throat.

The senior speeches were given.  This year the theme was superheroes.  Each speaker urged the class of 2010 to not let life happen to them, to not be the victim, but to make things happen for themselves.  To take life and live it.  They urged the graduates not to settle and to race toward their passions in life.  The speeches struck a cord because looking around, I wonder how many of us are really doing this.  How many of us adults are taking a stand against settling? 

Part of my job as senior class adviser is to aid in the calling of the names.  I help pace the students before their names are called.  Each senior has to pass by me.  A few hugged me–even though the whole gym was watching.  Many smiled and told me, “I did it, Mrs. Sluiter.”  Some even showed their nerves, “I’m scared.  I’m not ready for this.”

I reassured each one.  I listened as parents and friends cheered. 

Each student was cheered for.  The class of 2010 saw to that.  They cheered for each other so no one went without a “WHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

After the last graduate passed by me, I led my half of the staff to line the way for the recessional.  Students shook our hands; many popped my personal bubble and gave me giant hugs.  They promised to visit.  Some even thanked me.

This is why I love my job.  This is why I can’t imagine not being part of the education system.  This is why I will continue to rage against the broken machine.

Because I have to.  For them.

Easter Egg-stravaganza!

This Easter was very different than past Easters for us Sluiters. First of all, this is the first Easter in the history of my and Cort’s relationship that we didn’t go to church. We just felt that Eddie could not possibly sit quiet for a whole hour, so we opted not to risk it.

That was weird because it just hardly seems like Easter without a rousing chorus of “UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE!” (my favorite Easter song). However, we celebrated at home and with our families with a whole lotta Easter Bunny madness.
First, the Easter bunny stopped at our house in the night. Before Eddie could get to it though, Grandma Lynne stopped over with a great big Easter lamb for Eddie. He was excited about getting a new friend.
Then we let him dig into his Easter basket from us. He loved all the new toys to play with (read chew on).
Then we headed over to Granny Kim and Grampy Ray’s house for ham dinner (of course…it IS Easter), a mini-egg hunt for Eddie, and a basket of goodness.
Eddie loved the eggs his granny hid…they each had a couple quarters in them and he just shook, shook, shook them!
He also loved his dragon basket she picked out for him! It was full of yummy goodies…AND a bathing suit and bucket hat for this summer when he swims in her pool!
After Granny and Grampy’s house we stopped over at Grandma and Grandpa Riemersma’s house where Grandma had an Easter bucket for Ed with a sippy cut and a bunny!
Eddie sure had a fun first Easter, and we enjoyed spending it together as a family. While it’s fun to hide eggs and give baskets, we surely give thanks for all the blessings in our lives! Happy Easter from the Sluiters!

A Night with the Girls…and guys…and kids…

Yesterday Cortney and I braved the snow and wind and drove down to Mattawan to see the WMU gang of girls and their families. There are six of us girls and our husbands. Of the six couples there are eight kids (5 1/2 years and younger) and two on the way! All of our homes are getting too small too fast to host so many people!

Erin and I are the two people who are expecting babies. I am three weeks ahead of her, but I look about 3 months ahead of her since she’s such a tiny little thing!

Because this was supposed to be a Christmas gathering, all the little kids give each other presents. Erin and I expected to sit out this year, but low and behold a few of the girls couldn’t help themselves and bought us some really cute stuff for our babies!

Kim and Matt got us some super cute outfits for Eddie. Seriously, that kid is going to be the best dressed kid ever thanks to all of you out there! 🙂
And Kristin and Scott bought Eddie a little Pooh Bear that squeeks. Aw! So cute!
We have such great times catching up since half of the gang lives on the East Side of the state and the rest of us are spread from Allendale to Mattawan on the West Side. We only see each other a few times a year, so it’s fun to catch up and find out what is going on in each other’s lives. It’s not like the old days at WMU when all we needed was beer, but it’s still fun!

The Girls: me, Whitney, Erin, Kristin, Kim, and Tara

Sluiter Weekend Gettaway!!!

This past weekend was the fourth annual Sluiter Family Christmas Retreat. If I overheard correctly (and I am sure someone will correct me if I did not), there were 74 of us there this year! We were missing the Moore family (with 3 kids 3 and under and living out of state, that is a big trip, but we missed them!), Katelyn, and Matt. The funny thing is, as of right now, 2 of us are pregnant and expecting to add to the family! Goodness! We have almost outgrown the enormous resort!

Anyway, Cortney and I planned to leave between 2:00 and 3:00 on Friday afternoon. Of course, if you know us…ahem…ME…at all, you know that totally didn’t happen. We were on the road by 4:10, though. Cortney got a Garmin this year, so he was excited to put it to use. I was warry of this electronical voice taking over my job as the navagator, but it actually proved to be a great thing!

The trip went fine, with only 3 bathroom breaks for this pregnant lady. We were up there and in our room by 8:00, which was perfect! This year our roomies for the weekend were Cort’s cousin, Alyson and her husband Chris. They were great roomies, and we hope we were just as quiet and courteous and they were!

Friday evening was spent welcoming each family member as they arrived and catching up with everyone. Friday night is also the time to check out Grandma’s list for your weekend “duty.” Each year she divides the meals up between all the family members. Everyone either helps prep one meal or clean it up.

Friday night is also usually the latest of the two nights since people are so excited to see each other! Some of us only see each other this one weekend a year!

Saturday morning seemed to come quickly, but the breakfast prep peeps were at their stations/stoves on time to prepare us a YUMMY breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, and french toast!

Look at that spread. Sluiters sure know how to do breakfast!
After breakfast, Cody found himself in a little, um, “tussle” with Aunt Lisa. From my vantage point, I believe she was tickling him and wrestling him at the same time. Whatever was happening, Cody was the clear loser in this battle. Better luck next year, brother!
We had some leftover bacon after breakfast that Gram figured we could use for our baked potatoes at dinner. There were, however, a few bacon munchers who tried to sneak some of it…
yes, that’s Grandpa caught red handed with his mits in the bacon tub!
After breakfast, we have the whole day to hang out, rest, and catch up before dinner. I spent most of the afternoon reading for fun (something I just don’t seem to get enough time or energy to do otherwise during the school year), and napping. Cortney spent his afternoon catching up with his cousins and checking in on his little wife who may have done more napping than reading…hmmmm.

This was the view, by the way, from our room. That is Grand Traverse Bay. For those of you who don’t know where Northport is, it’s on the west side of the Bay on the Leelanau Penninsula about 24 miles north of Traverse City.
Eventually, Cortney came into the room and tempted me out with some rounds of euchre. Our opponents, Aunt Diane and Uncle Doug Sluiter, pretty much handed us our butts in a basket, but it was still a bunch of fun.

The fun was cut short though because Cortney and Dianne were on dinner prep duty!
So while they made dinner, I went roaming for other people. You really don’t have to go far. There was pandamoniom in the Great Room while the search for Liz’s cell phone was in full swing. Apparently she dropped it in a couch the night before. Huh…how many Sluiters does it take to get a cell phone out of a couch?
Oh and then there was the baby! Cousin Lauren had her little girl, Anya (sorry if I messed up that spelling!), up north and I am fairly certain that baby was not want for arms to cuddle in! Even Cody got in on some baby holding. Huh….looks like he will make a pretty good uncle!
Liz had that baby an awful lot that weekend. In fact, I put her in a group I called the Baby Stalkers. Aunt Lisa and Dave were in that group too…they were always out on the look for that kid and were more than ready to take her away from anyone else who may have been holding her. I hope they know I will be looking for this baby excitement when ours is pooping and crying in a few months!
Man! Look at that dinner! YUM!
Everyone was eagerly awaiting the prayer so we could hop in line and get some grub!
Oh guess who was on dinner clean up…yup, there I am condensing sour cream, butter, and bacon.
After dinner it was time for the Sluiter family Christmas program and church service followed by family games. Grandpa and Grandma said a few words before the program and prayed over us after. This is always a special time for everyone!
Joy and Nate worked it out for the great grands to do a recitation of the Christmas story from the Bible. It was so cute!
Nate delivered our message this year, and as usual he got some family involved in skits to help illustrate his points. He’s such a great speaker and Cort and I love to listen to him preach the Word!
After the Christmas program, we played some fun games that Lisa thought up…I don’t have any pics of those, though because I was busy helping my team! Hopefully someone else can get me some pics of those events!

Later that evening, after more Euchre (where Cortney and I regained our butts from Diane and Cousin Doug this time), I had to retire to the bedroom once again. Apparently lots of sitting and standing was making this little lady sore all over!
Sunday, after breakfast (that only Cort took part in. I, admittedly, slept right through it), we packed up our gear and braved the icey roads for home. Again, I slept through most of this. You would think that with all this talk of sleep, I was quite well-rested when we returned home. Not so much. I took a two-hour nap on the couch and could really head for bed as soon as this blog entry is typed up.

We want to thank Grandpa and Grandma for a fun-filled weekend with the family! We enjoy seeing everyone and hope that even when we grown out of the Northport Retreat, we will continue to find ways to get everyone together for a reunion once a year.

Tomorrow is back to work…the holidays are officially over, I guess! We hope everyone had plenty of time to enjoy friends and family like we did! Now it’s time to get down to the business of getting 2009 off to a great start!

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