wasting an afternoon

rivulets wind through the sand.

we dig deeper, create more channels.

the water melts the sand and creates a smooth lining for each meandering brook.

our small hands plunge into the dirty sand and wildly attempt to keep up with the cold water.

we build structures with that which was once an obstruction to a now-flowing branch.

the sand piles get higher and more intricate as we drizzle the wet mud to make spires and columns.

We begin smoothing the sand around the structures to create driveways and roads.

Leaves are picked and placed just so to represent landscaping.

As we work, the walls of our channels weaken from the constant flow of water and we need to pause in our city expansion to rebuild.

Basins and bays are created at the sides of the sandbox as the constant flow of water washes over the sand and floods against the wooden edge.

Twigs and leaves are sloshed along the rapids.

Slowly our massive structures give way to the lap of the water eating at their bases.

Our trucks and boats begin to wash over the sides of our play area.

We can’t contain the mess, so we begin to shove our masterpieces into gullies and smack the mud into the water.

The slapping of the mud spatters us with the carnage of our civilization and we laugh.

Our motives are finally questioned when a shout comes from the house to quit wasting water and clean-up.

We toss the hose from the sandbox and, leaving our swamp behind, rush to turn off that which birthed and destroyed an entire village in one afternoon.

This post was written in response to the picture below.

you said it, kid.

Dear Eddie,

I just put you down for your last nap of our spring break together, and I am sad about it.

No really, I am.

You might think I am a horrible mother for saying this, but I dreaded spring break.

Oh, I needed the break from work badly, but the idea of staying home alone with you every day and not having a break gave me so much anxiety.

When you were born, the two of us were home alone together for almost three months.

It did not go well.

Daddy got laid off when you were four months old and stayed home with you for 17 months.

The days or hours that you and I had alone together were few.  This semester we have had Monday and Wednesday evenings.  They are usually hit and miss in the “going well” department.

So like I said, with spring break approaching?  I was terrified of you.

And as I suspected, we started out sort of rocky, but as the break progressed?  Something happened.

We found a flow.

Mornings became our favorite time together (yes, mom, you read that correctly).

Between 7:00 and 8:00 am every day, I would slowly wake to your chatter in the other room.

Even though I wanted to stay sleeping, knowing that you would have a big smile was a bigger pull than my pillow.

As I could hear you counting, I would wake the house up by starting coffee, opening blinds, and finding Handy Manny on Disney.

By the time I was spitting my toothpaste into the sink you would be calling, “Daaaeeee”.  I would smirk knowing you forgot that it was not Daddy getting you up.

You would smile and point at all the items you had tossed from the crib.

You would chatter on about things only you knew as I turned off your nightlight and humidifier.

As the coffee percolated, you and I would mesh into each other on the couch for some Disney channel until you were ready to explore the world.

Sometime midweek, I taught you to finally say, “maaa maa!” although I had my doubts that you associated it with me and were not just mimicking what I was saying.

We had construction crews in and out this week.  We had playdates.  We had fun.

Our mornings were filled with books and trucks and Little People villages and trains.

And then this morning, after reading Where is the Green Sheep for the third time, I asked you “where is Eddie?”

You pointed at your chest and nodded while carefully pronouncing, “Eh-ee”.

I beamed with pride all the way from the tips of my toes, “That’s right!!!  And I love Eddie!  More than all the green sheep in the world!”

Then I cautiously asked, “And were is momma?”

You scrunched up that nose into your mischievous smile and pointed at me.

I was about to praise you for getting it right when you nodded with each syllable saying, “maa maa”.

Oh Eddie.

I couldn’t contain myself.

I grabbed you and hugged you so hard you said, “noooooo”.

So I tickled you instead.

We both shouted “MAA MAA, EH-EE!”” together over and over.

And fell over in a fit of ridiculous giggles.

I think Daddy is right.  You and I?  Are a lot alike.

That makes me happy.

Now I have a Goofball in Crime.

I love you to the moon and back.

With a drum on my head.

Love,

Maa Maa

taking it to the fence

The first time I stood up to a bully I was in the fifth grade.

I don’t remember what I was doing, but I do remember someone I didn’t know approaching me.

“Are you Chris R’s sister?”

“Yeah, why?”

“He needs you.  Someone is bullying him.”

That was all I needed to hear.  I turned to head straight for The Little Kid Playground.  I went over the invisible line between playgrounds risking…well…I have no idea what I was risking.  It was just understood that you didn’t cross into the other playground.

The bully had my brother backed up against a chain link fence and was taunting him with fat jokes.

My brother was a hefty little guy.

With adorable freckles.

With perfectly straight hair.

With the best smile in the world.

And this jerk was making him scared and attempting to make him feel bad about himself.

With his words.

I didn’t even stop to think.

I grabbed the bully, flung him against the fence, and with me face in his hissed, “NO BODY CALLS MY BROTHER FAT BUT ME!”

I gave him a couple good shoves and told him to never come near my brother again.

I don’t like violence, but I do feel compelled to stick up for the little guy.

Bullying is abhorrent to me.

Roughly 20 years later I was again standing up to bullies for the little guy, but this time the little guy was my nephew.  Chris’ son.

He was innocently playing in the McDonald’s play thing when a couple kids (who were way too big to be in the tunnels) blocked his way and started calling him a baby.

Again I stepped in and told those kids to grow up.  Then I marched over to their oblivious mothers and clued them in to what they were too busy to see.

Bullying is NOT ok.

And now I find myself in this world called Mommy Bloggers where we are all supposed to be adults.  We know the difference between right and wrong.

Or we should.

But there are still people out there…ADULTS…who feel the need to bully other adults.  Or try to.

And why?  To try to reinforce their own shaky beliefs?  To make themselves feel right because they lack the self-esteem to just believe in themselves?

It doesn’t matter.

I don’t tolerate it.  Not here.  Not in my space.

Yes, I am a Mommy Blogger.

Yes, I make choices that are not popular with everyone.

Yes, I make choices that are totally mainstream.

Because it’s my right to do so.

And it’s your right to disagree with me.  But not in a condensing, bullying manner.

Sluiter Nation is not a place for jerk-holes.

Bullying is NOT ok with me, and in real life, I will stand up to bullies against me or anyone else all day long.

Here?  I will not give platform to someone who is nothing but a troll.

Differing opinion is welcome.  Douche-baggery is not.

The blog world–specifically the MOMMY Blog world–is a community.  And a community needs each other for support…not to tear each other down.

Sluiter Nation will never be part of tearing anyone down…only lifting people up.

And being a support and voice when needed.  Just run over the line and come get me and I’ll be there for you.

Just ask my brother and my nephew.
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Reflections on 33

You may have noticed that my birthday is kind of special to me.

I love it.

And Cort always makes sure my birthday is special.

There were three birthdays in a row (29, 30, and 31) that I was pregnant.

When I turned 29, I was pregnant, but no one knew.  And it didn’t stay.

When I tured 30, I was pregnant again, and again no one knew.  We didn’t tell.  Cort made the day very special for me, even though I ended up losing the baby less than a month later.

When I turned 31, I was again pregnant.  This time, VERY pregnant with a little bun named Eddie.

Last year, when I turned 32, my wonderful husband and my best friend decided I deserved a huge celebration to make up for the past three birthdays of laying low. And last year Cort and my parents bought me the best gift ever.

This year there were no trips or expensive dinners.

There were no huge surprises or massively extravagant gifts.

This year was a year of friends, family, and my little boy bringing me a small gift.

I got to have dinner with my best friend, Erin and my wonderful husband.

I drank something called a “Flirtini”.  It had champagne in it.

I was able to have game night with friends who may as well be our family.  Who we consider our family.

this game? is so much awesome.

They jumped out and yelled surprise at us when we walked through their door.  Ben cooked one of the best dinners ever.  Trisha made the yummiest cuppie cakes.  Their boys played with my boy.

three candles because 33? is too many.

and we laughed…and we ate…but mostly we laughed.

Even if Ed wasn’t thrilled to go to bed there at first.

On my actual birthday…

I slept in.

I woke up to:

“Let’s go find Mommy.  No…wait…Ed…not yet!”  <insert paper ripping noise here>

<insert spazzing toddler here>

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMY!!!

Two happy boys in PJs…

A venti starbucks latte…

An apple charm for my bracelet…

And a pile of snuggles and kisses and hugs.

I had dinner with my whole family around me:

Mom, Dad, Chris, Sarah, Jack, Henry, Mike, Ashley, Cort, and Eddie.

My favorite meal: Homemade chicken salad and blue berry muffins

The homemade ice cream cake I have ever year…

And a little bit of help from a little boy with my presents…

and with my candles…

I am pretty sure that 33 is going to be the best year ever.

Matching double digits.

Two Three’s.

33.

Lucky 33.

It’s going to be good.

Secret Mommyhood Confession

I love my birthday.

I know some women like their birthday, but they are not really all that excited about turning another year older.

I am seriously like a child about my birthday.

As soon as the calendar says March, I start thinking about that day at the end of the month that is MINE!

MINE!

Yes, I turn 33 on my birthday, and no I am not ashamed to say that.  Some people don’t like to admit their age, but I have no problem telling it to you, my students, or a random person on the street.

So what?  I am 33…or almost 33.

No, I don’t LIKE that I am getting older, but as my dad says, “it’s better than the alternative.”

So true, dad.  So true.

And that is why my birthday is so awesome.

Not only is it my very own special day when I entered this world, but it means I am still here.  I made it another year.

I have made it through another year of crap and celebration.  Of mountains and valleys.  Of anxiety and joys.

I know I spend a LOT of time hating on myself and seeing my downfalls…but for some reason?  Every year, my birthday is the day I have no problem celebrating me.  Of finding the happy in who I am.

I think it’s because for people to celebrate you on your birthday is natural.  It’s easy to take people for granted throughout the year, but birthdays are days we think about the special people in our lives.

And that works for me as well.  I mean, it works for me to think about ME that way too.

It’s funny because birthdays were really overemphasized in my family.  Yes, my mom and dad made a point of making us the “special kid” on that day because it was our day, but we never had extravagant parties or got out of chores or were allowed to stay home from school or any of that.

We were celebrated simply.

But somehow, out of that simple love, grew a HUGE love of my birthday.

In high school and college I used to remind everyone in my life of how many days there were until my birthday starting at LEAST a month ahead of time.

I don’t go to those extremes anymore, but I do love the people who take the time to really remember that I love my birthday.

Cort is really great at that.  He is not that overly attached to his birthday, but he knows it’s a big deal for me and always works extra special hard to make me feel special. As do my parents and some super awesome friends.

(by the way?  I LOVE that facebook advertises your birthday…getting a trillion birthday wishes from people who probably don’t even talk to you the rest of the year?  I’ll take it!)

So.  I love my birthday.  March 27, 1978…the day I arrived here from my momma’s tummy.

This whole week coming up is full of birthday wonder and excitement (yes, I even have some pretty awesome giveaways for YOU!!).

As if this whole blog thing isn’t about me enough already?  It’s about to get a whole LOT more all about me!

So get ready!

Thus begins…The Week of Kate!!!  ::insert me doing my tappity tappity birthday dance…or perhaps shaking what my momma gave me::

Get ready to party, people. And yes, this is me with blond hair again.

Do you love your birthday?  Are you a fellow March birthday?  Tell me some birthday stuff about YOU!

my own personal cheerleader

When she was my age, my mom was done having kids.

Her oldest was was in third grade.

Her middle child was in kindergarten.

Her youngest was a year old.

When she was my age, my mom was about to lose the only job she ever knew…at a small corner grocery store.

She would be forced to learn a new skill.

I wouldn’t know how she felt about doing new things…finding something else…finding a fit.

I was eight.

My world was myself.

In a couple short years my mom would take a huge leap of faith.  With a child in middle school, one in elementary school, and one still at home, she would enter college.

I hardly remember it.  It was a blip on my radar.

My mom sat at the kitchen table every single night pouring over her studies after her day of working and mothering.  After making dinner, clearing the table, and doing the dishes.  After carting us here and there.  After 101 errands.

Every night.

In my mind that was our normal then.

But I am sure she felt anything but normal.  She was a thirty-something sitting in freshman classes with 18 and 19 year olds.   She was stomping across campus instead of sitting behind a desk in an office.

For now.

She still had time to quiz us on vocabulary words or help us with math or watch us create a class project.

She still made our lunches and our beds.

She still brought home more than part-time work from her job.

She still made snacks for our class parties and got groceries every week and made a full dinner every night by 5:00pm

Dishes didn’t stack up.

Dusting didn’t get ignored.

Vacuuming didn’t get skipped.

And my mom?  Earned a 3.98 GPA when she finally graduated at 43 with her accounting degree.

I could blame her for my idea of what motherhood is, but I don’t.

I thank her for it.

Because even though I can’t possibly live up to that ideal that I have in my head?  She has taught me so many things.

Every single time I’ve felt like quitting?

I didn’t.

Every time I thought a class or a task or a new adventure or motherhood was too hard?

I studied/pushed/tried/loved harder.

Every time I thought I couldn’t possibly do it all?

I did.

And my mom still cheers me on the entire way…usually with homemade cookies.

yes, I had blond hair. and yes, my mom is still this pretty.

 

forced labor

I am pretty sure it was always somewhere around a hundred degrees outside, and we had at LEAST thirty bushes to pick between the two of us.

My mom would tell you that I am exaggerating.  If fact, she will chuckle and say all of this is exaggerated.  And maybe it is.

source: Jsanckenphotography

But it is what I remember.

It was the middle of the summer and it was hot.  My long hair was damp and clung to the back of my neck, my forehead, and my cheeks as I would stoop to get the berries from the lowest branches.

The ugly camouflaged hat of my dad’s did nothing to keep the deer flies from swarming around my head, but it did help them stay out of my hair.  Because no one wants to pick tangled, angry flies from their long hair.  Nobody.

It maybe wouldn’t have been so bad, but the bushes were so far from the house.  My brothers and I, buckets in hand, would trek down the path through the woods in our backyard out to the clearing where my dad had planted apple trees and blueberry bushes–the two fruits that completely Michigany.

The apples were to feed the deer.  The blueberries to feed the humans.

My brother also insisted on lugging along our little boom box so he could listen to Ernie Harwell call the Detroit Tigers’ games through the loud buzz of AM radio.

We would spend more time trying to find just the right spot to get the least amount of interference than actually picking berries.  Many times we would make our baby brother hold the radio and move around until it was how we wanted it.

Stand closer to that tree.  No!  Farther away.  Ok put one foot on that stump and hold the apple tree branch with the other hand.  Maybe if you put the antenna in your mouth.  STOP!  That is exactly perfect.  Oh quit crabbing.  You don’t have to pick.

Starting on different ends, we would go for the brilliantly blue ones first–the ones our dad warned us that the birds would pick off if we weren’t out here every day. The ones our baby brother would munch on if we didn’t put him on radio duty.

The ones we would pop into our own mouths so we could taste summer while we worked.

We didn’t say  much as we picked.  If anyone said anything, it usually resulted in arguing and someone storming off in tears to “tell”.  So we quietly listened to what there was to hear.

thud thud thud

Until the bottom was covered and the second layer of berries began.

Plop plop plop

The shuffle of bare legs in the tall grass as they moved around the bushes.

The occasional slap at a mosquito or deer fly on our legs and arms.

The rustle of blueberry bush leaves as our hands moved around them.

The relentless plopping of berries on berries.

And the strike of a baseball bat hitting a foul ball with Ernie letting us know that “the kid from Freemont caught that one.”

My parents still have those bushes, although when I venture back to the clearing there are only about eight bushes. My nephew loves to help my mom pick, and I wonder if Eddie will stain his hands and lips blue just like I did when I was younger.

This piece is did not come out the way it was behind my eyes…if that makes sense.  Concrit is welcome.Please vote for Sluiter Nation every 24 hours to help me with a grant that will get me to BlogHer and help Sluiter Nation do BIG things!

The Yelling Contest

Five people around one table.

A meat, a veggie, a starch, and a fruit.

No utensils in the dishes…no passing…fend for yourself.

brothers on one side, me and mom on the other, dad at the head.

The kitchen is warm–so warm that the large front windows behind my brothers are foggy with steam.

There is the usual grumbling of what we each see that we are not a fan of.

There is the usual reassurance by my mom that we do, indeed, like those things.

“How was school?  What did you do? How was your math test?”

grumble grumble grumble grumble.

Discussion becomes just between Mom and Dad.  Work.  Boring.

Bored siblings start in on each other.

“Did you wear that shirt again?”

“Yeah, what’s it to you?”

“It’s stretched out.”

“So is your face.”

giggles.  “So is your MOM’S face.”

milk out of someone’s nose.

“you’re so stupid.”

“you are.  loser.”

“kids…that is not nice.  That is NOT how we talk to each other.”

“But mom, he wears that shirt every. single. day.  And he wipes his nose on it.”

“I’ll wipe my nose on YOU!” He flares his nostrils of doom at me.

“THAT’S IT!  YOU KIDS WILL EAT YOUR DINNERS AND QUIT BEING SO MEAN TO EACH OTHER!”

“Gross dad, food came out of your mouth.”

“I MEAN IT.”

Everything is quiet except for the scraping of silverware on plates.

“I need the butter.”

“your MOM needs the butter.”

giggles.

“oh guess what!  We did chair tryouts today and I moved up to 6th trumpet…from 10th, but I’ll probably still sit at 9th because Holly is still 10th”

“that is dumb”

“you’re dumb”

“that is great, honey”

And suddenly everyone is talking.  One louder than the other.  Competing for their space and recognition.

At the time?  I hated being forced to sit down five nights a week at five o’clock in the evening with no TV for dinner with my annoying family.

Now as adults?  My brothers and I beg my mom to have family dinners.  We miss the times together.

Are we any different than we were 20 years ago?  Not at all.  The same tired insults and come-backs fly from our mouths.

We still laugh at the ridiculousness of each other.

We still pick on each other.

My brother still makes jabs about how my mom makes a salad (but he eats it anyway…and I suspect she keeps making it that way because otherwise what would he bitch about?)

My mom jokes that it is hard for her to believe that we are all adults because dinner time?  Has not changed at all.

Dinner with my parents and my brothers make me happy in a way no one can really understand.

To an outsider–we are yelling and hating on each other.  Just ask Cort about the first time he sat down for dinner with my family.

But now when my brothers bug him about cutting up all his meat into little, bite-sized pieces before eating?  He slings the mud right back at them.

And we all laugh.

I hope to give this to my children.

I hope family dinner time is something we can keep up.

Because sitting face to face with your family and knowing what is going on in each other’s lives builds something.  It builds family.  It builds trust.  It builds togetherness.

Even when you’re busy picking on your brother’s weird nostril flare.

 MommyofaMonster This post was featured!

my love boat captain

Is this just another day…this god forgotten place?

First comes love, then comes pain.  Let the games begin…

Questions rise and answers fall…insurmountable.

This week has been one of those weeks where my brain worked on a specific topic from every angle imaginable.  My mind and heart do not process hurt well.  I have taken this particular item and let it consume me–asking Cort questions that seemed silly to him, but were so very serious to me.

My mind is swirling.

My heart is swelling and then aching and tingling with possibility and then crushed with reject.

My perceptions of happiness coming up short and oh so wrong.

love and disappointment and grief a tangled mess.

I’m tired.

Is this just another phase?  Earthquakes making waves…

Trying to shake the cancer off?  Stupid human beings…

Once you hold the hand of love…all’s surmountable.

Bad things happen to us all.  I know this.

Lately I have been obsessed with our list of “bad” and it has been hard to see the good.

I go through these funks.  Where our list of strikes against us seems so big…so…insurmountable.

And this week I just couldn’t take my mind off one burning question: what if it became too much.  What if I had to do this all…alone.

It’s an art to live with pain…mix the light into gray,

lost 9 friends we’ll never know…2 years ago today,

And if our lives become too long, would it add to our regret?

But I don’t have to do it alone.

He reassured me of that.

The hurt?  The pain?  The mountains of obstacles?

They are ours. not mine.

Ours.

And the young, they can lose hope cause they can’t see beyond today…

The wisdom that the old can’t give away.

Hey,

Constant recoil…

Sometimes life

don’t leave you alone…

The idea of forever and love and marriage has confused me.

Possibilities have given me hope, while at the same time have left me questioning myself.

Being on the brink of…I don’t even know…has me antsy and wondering.

I don’t do waiting well.

Especially when I don’t know what I am waiting for.

Hold me and make it the truth,

That when all is lost there will be you.

Cause to the universe I don’t mean a thing,

And there’s just one word I still believe and it’s…

love…love. love. love. love.

He will stay with me.

Because even though we have had a lot of bad…

we still have a lot of bad…

we will continue to be thrown bad….

He will hold my hand.

Love boat captain,

take the reigns…steer us toward the clear

I know it’s already been sung…can’t be said enough,

Love is all you need…all you need is love.

Love…Love…

Love.

My love boat captain

all lyrics from “love boat captain” by pearl jam
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