comfort and joy

students with kind words and hearts

a mother’s reassuring email that crying is ok

a huge pickle from Jimmy Johns with my sandwich

my hand being held as I fall asleep

a little brother who comes over just to love on an old cat

funny stories about said old cat

a diet coke with a lot of ice

the smell of pumpkin and spice through the house

a crock pot full of warm veggie soup

a gentle squeeze from my very favorite co-worker who gets it

a softly sleeping furry friend in my lap

warm coffee in the morning

the cool side of the pillow

an open window at night

a scotcharoo before bed

the people in my computer

orange, red, and yellow leaves

deep dimples and shiny blue and hazel eyes

the lingering smell of cologne in our bedroom

a dad who wishes he could be there

a calendar with more open days then penned on days

the word VISELS on the calendar for Friday

a brother and new sister-in-law who got home safely

homemade cornbread

random pieces of happy in my snail mail

a life on the inside

great things happening for great people

sweet messages

90’s on nine on Sirius Satellite Radio always bringing me to my happy place.

etsy and other handmade shops

pony tail holders


blond curly head on my shoulder at night

Dr. Seuss in a comfy chair

sunny days…chasing the clouds away

people in my real life

the kindness of strangers

sharp pencils

fist bumps

sour patch kids

a great book on a rainy day

clean, crisp sheets

a fresh piece of lined paper and a new pen

a freshly shaved face close to my face

poop jokes

casual Friday

“uv oo, momma”

“Love you, Kate.”



are you on twitter?

do you like wine?

do you hate stroke?

then you should join me and a bunch of other crazy cool bloggers for a twitter party tomorrow, Wednesday, September 28 at 9:00pm est.

We will be raising money for charity, drinking wine…er…grape juice, and giving out prizes!

Want to know more?  Go visit Lori here where she talks all about it including the what you could win by participating.

it all

“Honestly, I have no idea how you do it all.”

I get emails and tweets with this exclamation at least once a day.

But what is “it all”?

Is it that I get up for work at 5:30am and leave my family until 4:30 every day?

Is it that I make dinner and have family time from 5:00 until 8:00?

Is it that I ignore all my housework, all my blogging, all the books I want to read, all the connections I have made online over the past year?

Is it that I go to bed by 9:00 every night just so I have enough energy to do it all over again the next day?

Or is it that I squeak out a blog post for Sluiter Nation {hopefully} three-four times a week (and one of those is a Recruit post, so I just have to schedule that).

I used to read over 40 blogs a day and comment on almost all of them.  But since August, I haven’t been able to look at my computer screen for longer than 10 or so minutes without getting a headache.  Even since the first trimester blahs have subsided, I spend most of my time working rather than reading.

I used to regularly post on my book blog, Katie’s Bookcase.  But lately I have ignored reading because my eyes and brain are just too tired at the end of the day.

I used to post weekly on my memoir-ish blog, Exploded Moments.  But since this pregnancy and now being back to work, I can’t muster up the memories clearly enough to bring them to my readers.

I used to be an Editor at Write on Edge (formerly The Red Dress Club).  But I needed to reduce my responsibilities, so I accepted the position of Assistant Editor hoping to be able to stay part of this wonderful project that I love so much.

Just last night I had to relinquish myself from that position as well.

Sending the email to the women who have become like sisters to me was incredibly painful.

I was told that my “down” feeling after BlogHer was normal.  It’s what many, many bloggers feel.  After being “on” for four days and being overloaded with tons of ideas and bombarded with brands and companies…it was natural that I would have a low.  And that it would pass.

And it has.  Sort of.

But one part of that “low” stuck with me.

It was just all too much.

I am not a “professional” blogger.

I don’t write for bloggers.  I write for people.

That is what I started this blog for…my friends and family.

After four years of writing here, it took flying across the country to help me remember that.

Yes, I have made TONS of blogging friends.

And I see them as FRIENDS.  PEOPLE who read my blog.

I don’t want to do posts that leave non-bloggers out.

I don’t want to compete for the attention of brands.  That doesn’t mean I will NEVER do another review or giveaway, but they will probably be few and far between.

I can’t keep up with four blogs and the social media that goes with it all.

I just can’t do “it all”.

And I don’t want to.

So I won’t.

like you used to do

At age two and a half, my parents gave me something that would change my life.

And no, it wasn’t the pink bike that would be my first ride.

On September 2, 1980 they gave me the gift of a little brother.

I was just a tad younger than what Eddie will be when this new baby arrives, and it’s been on my mind a lot.

I don’t remember those early years, but the pictures of me playing with my new baby brother are among some of my favorites.

He was the first boy I ever tried to impress.  I wanted his approval.  I wanted him to think I was cool.

Sometimes, as we grew up together, he did look up to me.  Many times, he just saw me as bossy and mean.

At times I was able to combine these views for good.

I can distinctly remember playing school with him. We had a blue chalkboard easel and colored chalks on which I would write letters and words that I would demand he repeat and learn.

My teaching pedagogy back then was “learn it, or die.”

I have since learned better ways of motivating and inspiring my students, but back then it worked.

As we continued to grow up together sibling rivalry and battling reared their s ugly heads.   The house became a battleground.  In the summer, if my mom was at work, all out wars ensued.  One sibling pounding on the other. Tears and horrible things yelled at each other.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have never let those words cross my lips.

If I knew what our shared future would be, I would not have let myself be so hurtful.

In elementary school our younger brother came along completing our sibling pack.

At times he united us.  He was the little one.  The scapegoat.  The butt of all our jokes.  The easy target.

At other times he separated us.  They were boys and did boy things that weren’t fun to me.  They had their inside jokes.  They had their brotherly bond.

No matter what our differences were at home, in public no one messed with my brother.

My senior year of high school saw a shift in my relationship with my younger brother.  He was now a freshman.  We were in the same building for the first time since elementary school.  We had a class together, band, which meant we were also together during extracurricular time.

My friends started to become his friends.

His friends started to become my friends.

When he had trouble in a class I had already taken, I played the role of teacher.

When he couldn’t talk to our parents, I played the role of his mom.

When he had a bad day, I played the role of friend.

We still had our disagreements, but no one was throwing elbows or harsh words anymore.

And even though we went to rival state universities, we still visited each other and hung out together when we were both home.

College graduation usually means that you have entered adulthood and left the bad choices of your youth behind.

That wasn’t necessarily the case with my brother.

I fielded late night calls.

I opened my door to a tearful lost soul needing guidance and advice.

I listened and I listened and I listened and I listened.

One day he brought a girl to meet me and my fiance.

She had lovely red hair and gorgeous freckles and a great laugh.

And she smiled at my brother in a way I had never seen before.

I knew she was it.

Until she wasn’t.

She was almost four months pregnant with my nephew when their relationship fell apart.  However it was so important to Chris to be part of his son’s life, that they agreed to at least be civil.

My brother became a daddy in 2004.

I wasn’t there.

But I would be.

I babysat, I gave rides, I helped, I loved.

And I listened and listened and listened.

For five and a half years I listened to his side of their disagreements.  About what wasn’t fair.  About how he missed his boy.  About how he didn’t want to involve the courts.  About how unhappy he was with his life.

There were more late night phone calls and IM chats.

Just a month before his 30th birthday, he and his son’s mom started trying to be friends.  To hang out.  To get back what they liked about each other.

This Saturday I will stand up in their wedding.

I don’t see much of my brother anymore now that he is getting married and he lives with his fiance and son.

They have moved to a neighboring city that isn’t a far drive, but it’s not a short one either.

I don’t get random texts or IMs or calls anymore asking advice or if I can do something for him.

This past year has been the quietest year we have ever had.

I miss my brother.

But I know he knows where I am.

It’s where I have always been since he came into this world.

And it’s where I will always be when he looks for me.

Me with my brothers: Chris, Me, Mike

The title comes from the song Brother by Alice in Chains.  It always reminds me of Chris.


My post for The Red Dress Club is at Exploded Moments today.  It’s about a memory involving a game.


My summer was slipping by.

I was stuck in the house day in and day out with a colicky infant.  People were doing things and having fun and relaxing their summers away, and I was crying all the time.

I wanted to get away from my child, but I didn’t want to.

I wanted to love him and snuggle him and have wonderful days.

But I also wanted to run out the front door because my head wouldn’t stop pounding from his screams.

He never slept by himself.  He always had to be held.

I couldn’t get anything done.

I had postpartum depression and didn’t know it.


The plan was that Eddie would go to daycare full time when I went back to work in the fall, but that he would go maybe a half day or a day a week for a couple weeks before that just so he (and I) could get used to the daycare routine.

Notice I said “plan” and “was”?

Yeah.  We should have learned by now that when we make life plans?  They rarely go our way.

And my plan to love every minute of being home with my little boy?  Definitely didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.

Cort convinced me to call our daycare provider and see if she could take Eddie for a half day, one day a week.  Just to give me a break.

She said yes.

It was a relief and a terror at the same time.

I had never left my baby with anyone other than family–and at that point not even many of them had been left alone with him.

As much as I wanted to get away, I couldn’t imagine my baby being somewhere without me.

The day I left Eddie for the first time, I couldn’t even stay and chat.  I must have looked like I was in a huge hurry, but really I was racing against my tears.

They began to fall before I even got back in my car.

And I started to ugly cry as I realized I had run out so fast I hadn’t even kissed him goodbye.

That afternoon my house got cleaned from top to bottom for the first time in months.  And I took a shower.  Before 6pm.

It was wonderful.


Miss Amy has been a friend of mine for years.  She and I scrapbook together which means we have gone through pregnancies (mostly hers) and breakups (mostly mine) and laughed until we cried.  Plus she lives about 4.5 minutes from my house.  And that is just because I have to leave my subdivision to get to hers.  If I walked though the woods from my front yard to her backyard?  It would probably only take about 2.5 minutes.

She is loving and caring and wonderful.

She was the only person I ever wanted as a daycare provider, and when we got pregnant with Eddie, she didn’t have any openings.

Her license only allows her to take six children at a time and she was booked solid.

I refused to worry about it.  I knew something would come up and it would work out.  And honestly?  I had no idea that it would be so hard to leave my baby.  I was a clueless first time mom who had a rosey outlook on everything.

I remember being so excited when Miss Amy emailed us to tell us that she was losing a couple kids due to moving and other things and that if we wanted a spot for Eddie full time, it was ours.

There was squee-ing involved.

And we thought our world was perfect.

Then I had PPD.

But she was there for me.

Then Cort lost his job.

But she was there for us and let Eddie continue to come once a week, keeping a spot for him in case Cort found work.

And then Cort found work.

And we thought our world was perfect again.


I never knew that leaving your child with someone else is like leaving a piece of your heart behind.

That first day that I left Eddie with Amy I cried of a broken heart.

She had part of it in her arms, and I could feel that.

Even now, when I am at work, she holds that piece of my heart safe all day.  She nurtures him and loves him like her own.  He said “Ahh ee” before he said “maa maa”.

It hurts less knowing that piece is being cared for, but it’s still an ache until I see him again at the end of the day.

But I always trust that when I get that piece of my heart back?  It will be in better shape than I left it.


This weekend we got the news that next fall Amy won’t be able to take Eddie anymore.

There are lots of circumstances that I won’t go into, but with Eddie, she will exceed her six children limit.

We totally understand that she has to do this.

We know she is broken up about losing her little buddy.

I wish I could say that because I logically understand and know we will find something else, I feel fine about the whole thing.

But I don’t.

I cried ugly tears again last night at the thought of letting someone new hold a piece of my heart.

I buried my face in my pillow trying not to imagine my little boy meeting new people, learning new rules, and trying to nap in an unfamiliar place.

I know he will adapt.

He is braver and stronger than I am.

I just wish I could explain to him.  I wish I could make him understand and prepare him.

He is my heart.

How do I prepare my heart for this change?


My dearest readers, Amy reads my blog.  And while I don’t believe any of you would say cruel things, I just thought it would be fair to tell you that she reads.  My intent is not to make her feel bad about any of this, just to share my heart.  And right now my heart hurts.

giving grief words

“give sorrow words; the grief that doesn’t speak whispers o’er the fraught heart and bids it break”

~Shakespeare (MacBeth, 4.3)



I am a planner. A list-maker.

I like order and directions and a roadmap.

I like to chart out all the possibilities and know what is in store.

And then I like to do it right.

I don’t like to let people down.

Disappointment is my biggest fear.

I am a people-pleaser.

I am a “good” girl.  I always did what I was told out of fear of disappointing someone.

These are all things that came out in my therapy session on Thursday.  All things that were stated after I blurted out that I just HATE my stupid medication.

She looked at me and pointed out what I should have known after seeing her for almost a year.

I feel the need to do things “right”.

I DO do things right.

Except having babies.

I don’t do that “right”.

At least not the traditional idea of “right”.

And I have to let myself grieve this.

I hate that my body doesn’t naturally produce the  progesterone that will help me sustain a pregnancy.

I hate that no matter how many babies I give birth to, when asked how many pregnancies, I will always have to add 2 to the number of children I have.

I hate that my body isn’t shaped correctly to birth a baby vaginally.

I hate that my son and I are results of “the miracle of modern medicine.”

I hate that my mind betrayed me.

I hate that I may be on depression and/or anxiety meds for the rest of my child-bearing years…or longer.

I have been telling others that it is ok.  That they are not alone.  That they WILL get through PPD/A, and in the midst of that I have been fighting my own battle.  With grief.

I don’t want this to be me.

I don’t want things to always be hard.

I don’t want to be special or a statistic.

I want to be NORMAL.

I have been quietly struggling with this new reality of mine.

Getting off my meds did not work.  At all.  Even though I so badly wanted it to, and I so furtively believed I could do it.

I was going to be a success story.  Getting off my meds and getting pregnant again was going to be the pretty bow on this ugly story of PPD.

And then I could say, “see?  you just need meds, therapy, and time and then you will be ALL BETTER.”

But I am not “all better.”

Instead, I am back on  my meds.

And I might be for a very, very long time.

I know that nobody is disappointed…except me.

But I count.  That much I have learned in this battle.

What I feel about everything matters.

I have to be able to accept that this is my story.  It’s part of what makes me Katie. It’s not all of me, but it is part of me.

Before I can accept that and be ok with it?  I have to grieve that this plan didn’t work out.

My body refused to do this “right”.

And it will continue to not do it “right” because it has a different way…a chemically altered, surgery-aided way to bring babies into this world.

Once I have given myself appropriate time to mourn my loss?  Only then can I begin to accept that just because I didn’t do this “right”?  I also didn’t do it “wrong”.

Until then, I must give my grief words or it will continue to break my heart.

I will continue to have broken insides. over and over.

And broken insides are not conducive to a happy home for a new baby.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Help spread the word and break down the stigma.

a rough start to our journey

It’s been two weeks since I announced publicly that Sluiter Nation is looking to add a new member.

I wish I could say things have been all happy and butterflies since this announcement.  But not so much.

I quit my birth control a few months ago because it was giving me horrible cycles.  And now I have acne like a 13-year old.

But that is manageable.

I got a pretty bad cold a couple weeks ago, but I recovered, and that has nothing to do with this.

Or does it?

I still have the cough.

But it’s not a reasonable cough that is all congested and then I hack it up.

No.  It is a rattle that I can hear and feel, Cort can hear, others can hear, but pretends that it doesn’t exist when I cough.  It just stays put and makes me look like a big cough-faker.

What does this have to do with making a baby?

I’m getting to that.

So I have this cough.

And zits.

And now?  I am starting a new cycle and my OB would like to see me try this pregnancy with no anti-depressants (I am currently on Celexa, for all you note-takers).

We talked about this in August at my last appointment, and I talked about it with my General Practitioner, and I talked about it with my Therapist.

Fear not, it has been discussed.

I know how to wean off the meds safely.

I also know that both my GP and my Therapist are standing at the ready because they would both like to see me on something.

“A healthy mom comes first.  Then a healthy baby can follow.”

But we all understand where the OB is coming from.  Why take meds if you can get by without?  And they all agree that pregnancy hormones could very well “even me out” to where I won’t need them until postpartum again.

And thus began The Wean.

Halved my dose until I was ready to do a half dose every other day.

I am on every other day right now.

People?  This is hard.

So hard.

At first I only had physical side effects that were annoying at best.  I had sort of a fuzzy feeling in my head, headaches, a tightness in my back, and an occasional “buzzing” sound/feeling in my brain.

I still had this cough the whole time.

I continued to taper.

My back got worse and worse.  It’s a pain in my upper back, most the left side, behind my shoulder blade that feels like someone has a knife in my muscle and is twisting.  And while they twist, the muscle rips and simultaneously wraps itself around the knife.

It sucks.

And it’s there constantly.  No medication makes it feel better.

There is also exhaustion.  Sheer exhaustion.

But I continue to taper my antidepressant.

Wednesday was my first day with NO dose.  I was surprised at how Ok my brain felt.

Today?  Everything crashed.

My pain in my back and neck is worse.

I could fall asleep on a dime, I am so damn tired.

My cough is less productive, but the rattling is still present.

And my mind?

Today I had to put my head down on my desk more than twice to control the Raging Bitch Monster that was welling in me.  The very same Monster that took over my brain when I had undiagnosed PPD.

Tears welled in my eyes as I felt an urge to lash out at everyone.

Just like before.  But this time I saw the Monster coming.

Everything today sucked because of this dumb Monster.

And just because I knew what it was, didn’t make it less terrible.  In fact, knowing it was coming and who it was and that just by NOT taking my meds as usual, I had opened a door to let this Beast in?  Pissed me off.

So I am emotional and ragey because of detoxing and I am emotional and ragey because I can see it’s NOT going to be Ok.

Today was hard.

And my back still hurts.

And my cough is still there.

And now my wrist hurts.

I have an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner on Monday.   Things need to be sorted out.

Because this is not a happy way to start our journey toward Sluiter Baby #2.


Tomorrow I will post the first in my three-part series on how I built Sluiter Nation: The Blog including Tips for Blogger, Switching to WP, and all things Social Media in Between.

Memories of Her

I have to start with a bit o’ brag.  BlogHer has spot-lighted my post on Blogging Turn On’s and Turn Off’s.

Yay!  Take a minute to go see me there?  Thanks!


Every year my mom or one of her three sisters has the entire family over for Father’s Day to celebrate my Grandpa and all the dads in the family.

This used to be the tradition for Mother’s Day as well.

But Mother’s Day was super special because we were also celebrating my Grandma’s birthday, and I loved my Grandma.

My Grandma Jo as I remember her

This is in the past tense because my Grandma Jo passed away 10 years ago.

Not a Mother’s Day passes that I don’t stop and think about her and all she’s given me that I was never able to thank her for.

Everything about this year reminds me of her.

The yellow tulips remind me of her favorite flower and her love of taking her grandchildren to the annual Holland Tulip Time Parade.

Easter Sunday reminds me of the egg hunts she created for all of us and how she made us empty our baskets when we were done and count out the same number of each candy for everyone.

Church reminds me of her singing hymns to herself in her quavering old lady voice, that I always found to be beautiful.

My Grandma taught me so much of what it is to be a strong woman…and she will never know her impact on me.

My Grandma Jo taught me…

  • It’s ok to be alone.  In fact, you can gain peace and strength by it.
  • It’s ok to NOT have a man.
  • It’s a wonderful thing to find the right man.
  • family is something to celebrate.
  • no matter what your life throws at you, your family will love you.
  • that small things are the best
  • children are the most precious gift–whether they are yours or not
  • childhood is something to be savored because it is gone too quickly.
  • you don’t ever really have to grow up.  Be an adult, yes, but grow up?  No.
  • that blind faith is ok, and sometimes necessary.  There are a LOT of things I don’t understand, but that is ok.
  • when in doubt?  Yodel.

The day I found out about my first miscarriage I was so afraid, the first thing I did was to take my Grandma’s Bible off my shelf and open to a random page.

It fell open to Psalm 146, which she had underlined “Happy He who Trusts in the Lord.”

There is almost nothing underlined in her entire Bible.

But that?  Gave me comfort as I went into one of the scariest, most emotional tumultuous times of my life.

I wondered how many times in her life Grandma had looked at that passage to find strength.

My Grandma was the strongest woman I knew.

And she helped me know that I could be strong too.

To honor a woman in your life for Mother’s Day, Clever Girls and Heart of Haiti is offering you a special discount code for 15% off when you purchase a gift of Heart of Haiti or Rwanda Path to Peace products between May 3-8.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!

Just shop Macy’s’ Shop for a Better World/Heart of Haiti Collection, and use the code CLEVERGIRLS at check out to receive your discount.

If my Grandma was around, I would get her this because she LOVED bright colors.  It is also fitting because my beautiful Grandmother died of Alzheimer’s and if I could give her back her memories, I would.

Heart of Haiti Vase of Memories


And if I was making a Mother’s Day list for myself? I would love the Vase of Memories too, but  I would probably also add this to my list:

Heart of Haiti Tree of Life Frame

What woman are you honoring this Mother’s Day and why? Share with me!

I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.

the right wrong

It’s a mistake to think things can’t get worse because they always can.

The day can be normal, and with a quick, routine glance at the computer, life changes.

I had gotten a brief email earlier stating the minimum:  He had been laid off.  Unexpectedly.

Yes, the company was having some financial troubles, but who wasn’t?

Yes, we were expecting there to be layoffs, but not BOTH salesmen–certainly not someone who went from sweeping the floors in the shop to being the go-to guy for inside sales.

We were in shock.

My mind was reeling with questions and worst case scenarios as I drove home in the autumn sunshine.  The day seemed so happy and light, but I was slowly sinking into my catastrophic thinking.

The next day he was supposed to collect his stuff.

And then apply for unemployment.


The word felt like sour rusty metal in our mouths.

It was for the rest of the country.  Not us.

Family business meant security.

If anyone was going to lose her job, it was me.  Our district had been making cuts left and right, and I had already held one of those pink slips.

Pink paper is heavier than other colors, and the weight of that slip nearly broke him.

My husband is strong.

I watched him hold himself upright with dry eyes at his dad’s funeral just days after having abdominal surgery.

He had held the pieces of me after I broke from two miscarriages.

In that moment, my steadfast partner lost his sparkle.  He was starting to fade.

From that exact moment that he had to look at me, and not just type out the situation to me, he began to lose something.

I suddenly stepped into a role that was unfamiliar to me.

We will be ok, I heard myself saying.

Even though on the inside I had completely lost my shit.

Even though there was a buzzing behind my eyes of worry and anxiety.

Everything will be fine, babe.  Really.

Sometimes you just say things and hope they are true.

For seventeen months we were blinded by budgets and money scrapping and never saying no to extra opportunities.

And the whole time Eddie was given the gift of a stay at home parent.

He was given his daddy.

It’s a mistake to think that everything is wrong.

Because sometimes the most important things are very, very right.

the cue

ahhhhh GO!

He runs full speed down the hallway in just a diaper.  His run is more of a prance and his blond curls bounce in rhythm to his quick trot.

Smack!  He gets to the end and both hands slap the wall.

When he turns he is all smiles and eye twinkles.

He backs up straight and tall with his back and palms flat against the wall, and pauses to make sure I am ready.

This is my cue.

I snap my arms and legs open toward him.

This is his cue.


He leans forward and with complete trust, rushes down the hall toward me.

His giggle melts me.

I can’t wait for him to get to my embrace.

His curls blow back from his face revealing the gleam of joy in his eye.

He doesn’t slow his pace as he approaches, flinging himself with all his force into me.

There is no fear of hurt.

He trusts me completely.

And in an instant, we are one person.

I wrap him up in me, close my eyes, and fall backwards.

We are one like we were in the beginning.

Our hilarity and tears and mischief are the same.

Time stops, but our merriment does not.

He has buried his face in my neck and wrapped his arms around me.

He is gasping for breath through giggles.

I am filing these feelings away into my heart.

His hair will not always be this soft and silky and blond.

His fingers will not always have the little dimples instead of knuckles.

His feet will not always be round and smooth.

He will not always smell of baby lotion and graham crackers.

He will not always trust me so freely.

Running into his mom’s arms will not always be his first choice.

I lie on my back and release him.

He scoots down and takes my hand and instructs me in his gibberish to sit back up.

Once I am up, he decides to lean in one more time before starting the game again.

Awww Ma Ma!

He hugs me and bends in to touch his nose to mine.

And with a snap, he turns to run back down the hall.

Ahhhh GO!

A blur of giggles, curls, and baby skin goes running from me.

My smile twitches.

And my heart makes a promise to that boy.

I will always be here for you to run back to.  My arms will always snap open for you.  Just give me the cue.