we’ve got the fever, so we’re busting outta the cabin

Oh hey…I think I see spring….

crocus and tulips peeking through the bark...

That means we can bust out of the house and play OUTSIDE.

The Sluiters have been feeling pretty blah lately, so we thought that we should get some fresh air.

Who stole my baby?

getting the ride out of winter storage

look mom, DIRT!

it's much better out here without the snow

getting the golf clubs out for the first time this season

can't wait to ditch the hat and coat...warmer weather, come soon!

We were only out for about 45 minutes, but it was what we all needed!

Are you ready for spring too?

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Also?  Today is the last day to “like” Eddie’s picture in the Modern Bird Facebook Photo Contest.

You just “like” Modern Bird, and then “like” Eddie’s picture (it’s number 94 in the line up).

Do us a solid and click that cute button and “like” our guy, will ya?

deluge

The windshield looked like it was melting.

The rain wasn’t coming down in individual drops; it was a steady stream washing out everything in its path.

Including roads.

I shifted the weight of my distended middle so that I was leaning on the center counsel armrest.

I fruitlessly attempted to pull the black maternity dress back down over my lap where it belonged, and my red wedges had been cast off long before we had gotten into the truck so that I could wade through the rushing water to get into our vehicle.

Because we couldn’t stay at the restaurant.  There was no power.

We had been in the truck for over an hour and had only gone about 3 miles.

The normally easy 20-minute route home around the lake had turned into rivers of detours.

Each time we tried to turn we were faced with more streets acting as reservoirs for the deluge we were experiencing.

We were on the Southside trying to weave our way to our Northside home, but the land in between was low, and the safe paths were few.

Each time we were forced to take a water-logged road, I held the door handle tightly, peering out my passenger-side window as the waves lapped the door and almost covered the tires.

I had to use the bathroom, but I wasn’t about to say anything.  There was nothing he could do about it and whining would just make the situation worse.

I tried to quietly massage Eddie into a different position–one that didn’t involve his foot in my bladder.

I started breathing calmly through my mouth to avoid thinking about the liquid jostling under my son.

Cort gave me a worried sideways glance.

“No, I am not in labor.  Just have to pee.”

“Do you want me to pull over?”

“Where?  No, just keep driving.  It can’t be too much longer.  The rain is letting up.  I am sure we will be home soon.”

I had no idea it would be another hour before we got to our subdivision, only to find the entrance completely flooded forcing us on yet another detour to find dry land.

We had no idea what was ahead, but we were trying to have a good outlook, stay calm, and not have an accident before it was all over.

This post was nonfiction.

Please vote for Sluiter Nation in the Mom Central Grant Contest on facebook.  You may vote once every 24 hours.  Thank you.

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!

How Sluiter Nation Has a Snow Day

Much of the country was hit with a “weather event” the past couple days, and for once this winter, Michigan was not left out.

Our weather guys and gals were able to jump around and flail their arms in front of weather maps covered in blue and green and pink blobs of snow and blizzard warnings.

One meteorologist even admitted to bringing his sleeping bag to the studio last night.

There was excitement.

My students talked ALL DAMN DAY about how we were going to have a snow day today:

“Mrs. Sluiter?  Do you think we’re going to have a snow day?”

“Oh we are for sure going to have a snow day, don’t you think, Mrs. Sluiter?”

“What are you going to do with your snow day, Mrs. Sluiter?  Grade my test?”

To be honest, until I got home and turned on the news?  I wasn’t sold on this whole snow day business.  I mean, our weather people REALLY enjoy getting worked up and they may tend to exaggerate what actually happens.  a lot.

But once the wind picked up and it started to snow, I started begging Cort not to drive to bowling.  And that is when I realized:  we were going to have a snow day!

Yes, today my school is canceled and Cort’s evening class is canceled.  Sluiter Nation officially has a snow day.

So how do we DO a family snow day?  Well, there are a few things that are necessary (no, I did not go out and buy “storm meat” like @thenextmartha did).  Here is how WE do a snow day:

First we open the front door to see that yes, we are snowed in.  There is no walkway to the house anymore.

oh, and no driveway either.  Well then.  Yes.  Snowed in.

Our deck. More proof that this "Blizzard of 2011" happened.

the drift in front of our downstairs front window. again, it snowed like "whoa" last night.

Now that we have it established that I am not making the snow up, this is how we readied ourselves…

First?  make sure the internet connection is working.  Because otherwise?  I may as well be at work.

I kid, I kid.

Or do I?  ahem,

Stock up on provisions.

Cort went to Target yesterday for a few things and since a storm was coming he stocked up on the necessities junk food to keep his wifey and boy happy while they are trapped together for a whole day.

Like I said…provisions.

Momma and Dad-do need their caffiene.

Jammies.

Yes, I am writing this around noon and all three of us are still in our jammies.  And I am pretty sure there are no plans to change that.

slippers.  because my tootsies need to stay warm when it’s so brrrrr outside!

A good book.

You know, in case I pull myself away from the interwebs today.

Someone to cuddle with.

(please disregard lack of make up…it’s a snow day.  remember?)

Now if you will excuse me, I have everything I need to have a successful snow day.  I must now proceed to enjoy the doing of nothing.

While I do that?  You can check out how I actually DID go to Blissdom…sort of.  Go here and here.  Then report back.

And happy weather event day to you.

brrrr

We live in West Michigan.

We get snow in the winter. “Lake effect” snow.

The kind of snow that falls in HUGE flakes and sticks to everything.

Snow that turns a crispy icey texture when a sudden “deep freeze” hits us.

Snow that blankets the world we live in and covers all living things for a long winter’s rest.

Snow that doesn’t close schools because we’ve seen worse.

but that can put a halt to everything with just the right direction of the wind.

We get the kind of snow you see in Christmas movies.

We like to hibernate in the winter in these parts.

A photo journal entry…show us what winter looks like in your town.

snow much fun

I have not been feeling well today.  Not at all.

So I am not feeling very scribe-ish or posty this evening.

Instead, I will just give you some pictures of my boys.

We live in Michigan..West Michigan.  So we get lots of lake effect snow, however compared with the rest of the country, this has been a fairly mild winter for us.

This weekend we finally got “play-able” snow.  After nap on Sunday, I got Eddie all geared up, Cort got himself geared up, and my matching men went out to play.

do these pants make my boo-tay look big?

the snow is THIS way!

come ON, dad!

Let's go explore, my little mini-me!

I need a shovel for the clubhouse!

exploring the winter wonderland.

We tried to get him outside with out the pipey in his mouth, but it is his saftey lovey when he is nervous…and the snow made him nervous (which I can TOTALLY relate to, little bud!)

They probably were only outside for 20 minutes, but it wore the little guy out…slept like a log that night.

Now I can’t wait for Cort to take him on the sled so I can sit inside alone and sip hot cocoa!  Yay!  Such fun Michigan winters bring!

psssst!  Today?  Wednesday?  Is your LAST CHANCE to enter to win a copy of Show Me How! It’s a great book with zillions of activities to keep the little ones busy when you DON’T want to gear up and play outside!  Enter now! Giveaway ends Wednesday, 8pm Eastern time.

It’s the hap happiest season of all…

Before you read this post?  Check out our new sponsor over there on the right ——->  It’s Peggy Ann Design!  She is awesome!  Think awesome as in “OMG!  BEST PRESENT EVER” kind of awesome.  If you get my hint.
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Christmas is a time of some pretty major traditions for our family.  While we have been learning to let go or change some Thanksgiving traditions, we have worked very hard to foster and cling to our Christmas traditions.

I love Christmas.  All of it.  I really do. The family traditions are always my favorite part.  I think I just love the feeling of happiness and security that doing the same things and seeing the same things over and over each year create.

Yesterday we got Eddie all bundled up to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Every year of my childhood, my parents took us out to get a tree.  To be honest, I hated it.  I hated having to trudge through the muddy, cold fields arguing over which tree would be best in our house.  Then standing their while dad cut it down.  And of course then?  We had to drag it back to the truck, get it secured in the trailer, and get home.

And none of that meant that dad was going to hurry up and get the tree in the stand.  And even if he did?  It usually had to sit there and “dry” before mom would allow it in the house.

All of this was excruciatingly slow to us, and after awhile, my dad just went out and got one on a Saturday morning by himself.  One that was already cut.

But…we NEVER had a fake tree.  Ever.

And we still don’t.

Saturday morning we bundled Eddie up and took him with us to Bosch’s in Holland to pick a lovely pre-cut, REAL Christmas tree. It took us maybe 5 minutes to pick out this colorfur (I think that is how it’s spelled).  By the way, this place smelled WONDERFUL!  I wish you could scratch and sniff your computer screen because each time they sawed off the end of someone’s stump it smelled like pine heaven.

Anyway, after getting our stump trimmed, and some ooo-ing and ahhh-ing by Eddie at the giant inflatable snowman, we loaded our treasure up.

psst.  by the way?  that super duper cute hat Eddie is wearing?  Is from Baby Butterfly Boutique. Super awesomely cute baby stuff and ridiculously awesome customer service!

Ahem.  Anyway…

We took our tree home.

I am pretty sure this is our best-fitting tree we have ever gotten.  And the needles are so soft i could almost cuddle them.

Eddie did a pretty good job helping with the lights.  Until he found our ‘step’ button for turning them on and off.  Then we had to remove him from the situation.

(also, please ignore my dumpy-looking socks in this picture.  they are too big and out of control).

I don’t go with the themed-tree or the color-coded tree or anything that elegant.  The ornaments on our tree don’t cost much money.  We don’t get the little white lights that twinkling in the pretty dark room.

Nope.  Our tree is what we call a “family tree” or as my actual family calls it a “tacky tree”.

When we were kids, my mom and my grandma put the huge colorful lights on the tree and filled it with ornaments that were handmade and told a story.  That is what I always wanted my tree to be too.  It tells the story of our family.

newlywed ornaments

first ornament made in daycare by our firstborn

first Christmas as a married couple

ornaments that reflect hobbies

ornaments that reflect careers

personalized ornaments (a new one each year!)

good luck ornaments

and those to remind us that some of those we love are celebrating in heaven

all put together to make the perfect Sluiter Family Christmas tree.

Some may say our tree is tacky or gaudy or just weird.  People might laugh at our choices of ornaments or decorations.  But to us, this tree is the story of our family.  And we will put new ornaments on it each year to reflect what new parts of our lives.

Decorating the tree is one of my most favorite traditions of the season.  what is one of yours?

Stay tuned for Top Ten Tuesdays:  Things I would like to Do/Change about our House.  Join me, won’t you?

Wacky Wednesday

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

Here is a brief rundown…

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

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

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

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

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

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

And The Heavens Opened…

It rained today. It rained a lot.

Then it hailed.

Then it rained so hard we almost couldn’t see across the street.

Then it rained so hard we thought the neighbors were going to float away (we would not have cried)

THEN it rained so hard we thought my flowers would float away (I would have cried)

Then it totally stopped raining.

Happy Spring in Michigan.

A White Chrismas For Sure

For those of you who live in Michigan, you know what the weather has been like for the past week! For those of you who may have only heard from the lovely people at the Weather Channel, here are some visuals for you.

Thursday, the buzz around school was that we were going to get to start break a day early because of all the snow we were going to get Friday night. As some colleagues and I sat in an East Town bar after school, we talked about how great it would be to have the next day off…as we watched zero flakes fall from the sky.

Despite the snow earlier in the evening, it began to pour snow late Thursday night and school was indeed closed on Friday! And boy howdy did it snow! We probably got around 8-10 inches at our house and the plows didn’t go through until Saturday morning at 10:30! Saturday was great and both Cort and I ventured out of the house.

Sunday, more weather literally blew in! We were under a blizzard warning, and blizzard did we get! Check out these photos! We probably got another foot of drifting snow. In between our neighbors bushes and the lamp post is supposed to be the cable box, but we got so much snow, you can barely see it!
Yesterday we got some more snow…hey…where did our mailbox go?
Bless his heart, Cortney tries to keep up with the buckets of snow we keep getting. It’s past knee-deep at this point. Cort joked that if we threw the cat on the deck, he would drown because it’s way taller than he is!
Maybe that is why I found Louis next to the heater in the bathroom this morning. He is avoiding all things cold and snow!
As I write this, we are getting even more snow and the news is consistently telling us that travel conditions are deteriorating. We know many of our friends and family are traveling in the next few days and we wish them safety in this yucky weather! As for me, since the plows haven’t gone through again since Saturday, I am sitting home, nursing a cold, and just trying to relax since I can’t get out of the subdivision in my little Cavalier!

Merry Christmas from Sluiter Nation!

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