A Decade of Words

Ten years ago today I opened up a new blogspot account and started Sluiter Nation. All of our closest friends had moved out of state, so I thought maybe having a “website” to post pictures would be a good way to keep everyone up-to-date.

I’ve been consistently (sometimes more consistently than others) putting my words here. They range from the mundane (updates and giveaways and some product reviews) to the deeply personal.

I believe this blog made me the writer/teacher I am today.

This little blog of mine reunited with me with a high school friend named Emily (formerly known as DesignHER Momma) who had moved to Indianapolis. She connected me with Indy bloggers like Casey (Moosh in Indy) and to Curvy Girls like Brittany Herself who made me want to write better. They also showed me BlogHer.

Emily’s honesty helped me recognize I had postpartum depression after Eddie was born.

That led me to all the Warrior Moms.

I started to write very honestly about my struggles.

I went to BlogHer. I tried to find myself as a blogger for a long time. I did product reviews occasionally, giveaways here and there, and tried to separated my writing and teaching lives.

It wasn’t until after Charlie was born that I realized that my writing and teaching actually fit better together than trying to be a mom blogger.

It was also during this time that some of my personal essays about my struggle with my mental health were published in anthologies. I started to realize that maybe I have a gift. I’m not a best-selling author–nor will I ever be–but I have the ability to put my thoughts into print.

I started to read Young Adult Literature and become passionate about my career in a way I never did before. I began writing for Education sites, (currently I write for The Educator’s Room). Friends and colleagues encouraged me to write about my teaching experiences and research for education journals.

Now I am in the process of applying to a new graduate program to get my PhD in English Education.

Wednesday I was trying to trace back how I got to this place, and I believe it comes back to this space.

I’ve made true friends because of this space. I’ve traveled across the country by myself because of this space. I have taken so many more chances on opportunities that I would have NEVER done because of this space.

On an internet where more and more bloggers are closing up shop, I plan to keep my little space open and chugging along. This is our life right now. It’s who I am right now.

Yay, Ten!

Where My Writing Is

In case you missed them, here are my most recent posts around the web:

I was honored to be featured on The Nerdy Book Club just before school started giving my Top Ten list of the books that are always on hold in my classroom library. If you’re looking for a good read, I suggest you check out this list.

I’ve also been posting about once a week at The Educator’s Room. This month my posts have been mostly about Close and Critical Reading: This one addresses summarizing, this one talks about recognizing author’s craft, this one is about identifying purpose and theme, and this one is about making connections to text.

This week, I contributed a post about why I read aloud to my 8th grade students (and why I read to my high school students).

Thank you for being so supportive of my writing!

Where My Writing Is…

In case you missed it, I have a few articles floating around the internet…

This month at the Educator’s Room, I’ve posted about what all teachers should be reading this summer, and it’s not just “teacher books”!

I also put on my serious, political pants and talked about the very real feeling that there is a conspiracy against public education among politicians.

With school starting, I wrote about the important task of creating safe spaces for kids in our classrooms.

Just this week, I posted an introduction to a series that I will be working on this month about Close and Critical Reading and strategies I/we use in my district that have really helped students improve their literacy.

Also a post I wrote originally for The Educator’s Room was re-run on The Washington Post! I know! So exciting! It’s the one about Job Insecurity in education.

My writing is also on BonBon Break again this month with a post I did about my feelings concerning School Dress Codes from a teacher’s point of view.

And lastly, I was interviewed by UpWorthy about what the deal is with Back to School Supply lists. (In Michigan we can’t require students to buy supplies; we have to supply them. Which is why I have a Wish List on Amazon, in case you are interested in helping out)

There you go!

School starts for me on September 1, and for the kids (Eddie included) on September 8. I’ve been busy busy BUSY with To Do Lists and creating stuff and I’ve even been into my classroom already setting things up for a new year.

There is a lot of excitement about it over here, I won’t lie!  Eddie is going into first grade, Charlie is starting his last year of “full-time” daycare (next year he will go to preschool part of the time), Alice is starting full-time daycare, and I will be teaching a new year of eager 8th graders.

But I’ll keep writing too! So stay tuned!

Where My Writing Is

As I mentioned last month, I have been lucky to have my writing spread around the internet lately. In case you missed it, this is where I was in June…

First, a post of mine about being done having kids was republished at The Mid. If you missed it here, you can read it there.

I wrote an original post for BonBon Break about the kind of Christian I am…and the kind I am most certainly not.

I am also a regular contributor at The Educator’s Room where I wrote about how to keep your kids writing this summer and about the issues with public school funding, specifically my own job insecurity over the years.

Thanks for reading along!

Published…Again

Today is super exciting…even for a Monday!

In the spring, I was excited to announce that I was published in an anthology of essays, art, and poetry about child loss called Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss.

Today another anthology is being released that I am blessed to be published in: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends.

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don’t mind the post-Sunday-afternoon-nap face I have going on here.

I got my own copy just this past week and I as flip through all of the stories, I can’t help but feel honored to be included besides such fabulous writers.

But as I read over my words, I can’t help feeling a sadness. Because I am still struggling to find the balance in my life that nurturing and maintaining friendships require. I read a viral article online recently about how it doesn’t matter how you feel about your friends if you never show it.  It hit home for me because I realize that is my biggest struggle.

I think about my friends and pray for them daily. But they can’t know that if I don’t tell them or show them.

That is what my essay is about.  It’s about this crazy season of life I am in that has me armpit deep in my own children and in my job and it {unfortunately} pushes my friendships to the outside of my life.  And I can’t blame some of those friends for packing up and leaving.

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The stories in this book are so diverse, and you would be hard-pressed not to find one that resonates with you. I encourage you to get the book–and not just because my words are in there, but that IS a bonus–but because I think it’s a great read for all women.  Because we have all lost friendships.

My Other Ex

When I was a kid, I used to lie on my bed on Sunday afternoons and plow through one, maybe two books in an afternoon. Once I had read all the craptacular YA lit that our local library had to offer back in the late 80’s, my mom started bringing home Agatha Christie mysteries for me to read.  I was hooked. Before I even made it to high school I was a voracious reader.

I didn’t do a lot of my own writing back then, but I did fantasize about being a famous author.  Not so much that I would be a celebrity, but that I could think of stories like that.

Well, fiction has never been my thing, but at some point all this writing that I have done on my blog since 2007 started to be something. Something I didn’t know I had in me.

It started to be good.

Maybe I couldn’t make up stories, but I could definitely tell my own.

This year my dream of becoming a published author came true when Three Minus One came out.  In September more of my writing will be published.

I am one of the author’s in the HerStories Project anthology called My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friendships.

The book is due out in September, but you can pre-order here (which also means you’ll get your book early!  WOOT!), and get a $1 off by ordering early. Aw yeah.


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front row support

Saturday I did something that I never thought I would: I stood up in front of a crowd in a bookstore and read a piece of my own published work.

When the other contributors were arranging the readings across the country, I volunteered to join the one in Goshen, Indiana. I figured I would drive the two hours alone, do the reading, grab some food, and come home just in time to help with bedtime.  As the date got closer, Cortney suggested we make it a family event. He knew I was sort of nervous and he wanted to be there for me.

So a couple days before the event, we decided to all go.

While Charlie acted like a typical two-year old who had been in the car for two hours and was now strapped in a stroller, Eddie was amazing for someone who is not yet five.

Apparently, Cortney took him aside that morning and talked to him about what we were going to be doing. He asked Eddie if he knew what it meant to “support” someone. He explained that mommy would be nervous and would do a better job if they were there to tell her she was going to be great, give her thumbs up, and listen to her. This entire conversation happened without my knowledge.

What I saw was a cranky two-year old, a husband who wanted to keep him quiet, but still see his wife, and an almost-five-year old sitting by himself, front and center waiting to hear his momma read her story. Charlie was being a bit beastly, so Cortney took him for a walk, but Eddie stayed with me. He told me that it was Ok if I messed up because I would still be his best mommy.

While Cortney pushed the stroller around outside and in the back of the book store, Eddie sat quietly through the first two readers. Every now and then he would make eye contact with me and flash me a huge smile, give me a thumbs up, or mouth “I love you” to me.

When it was my turn to read, he smiled and intently watched me. I introduced myself, my piece, and explained that after all the heartache of losing pregnancies, my biggest fan was born, and that he was in the front row. He beamed.

I read my piece (and Cortney was able to hear 3/4 of it regardless of Charlie’s antics), and Eddie clapped the loudest.

When all was said and done and we were driving home, I thought about my Eddie. He took the idea of supporting those we love to his heart and really applied it. He acted years older than his almost five years.

I wonder often what my children will remember when they are this young.

Will he remember sitting and listening to his mommy tell the story about losing her pregnancy? Did he understand any of the stories he heard that day? I saw him paying attention. I wonder what was going through his mind.

Is this just the first time he will listen to his mother tell her stories, or was it a one shot?

For all the questions and thoughts I have about Eddie being there on Saturday, I know that he learned an important lesson about being there for those you love. He learned that lifting them up helps them accomplish what they want to do.

When I think about Saturday, the thing I am most proud of is not my published writing, not that I stood up and read something that was hard to write, but that my boy stuck by me and loved me through it all.

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We are always talking about our marriage and family as being a team effort. I think Eddie is really starting to learn that he is a very important member of that team.

The Book of Ruth {book review}

I stumbled upon The Book of Ruthin a pile of books that my best friend dropped off for me to look through. She said I could keep what I wanted to read and donate the rest.  Most I had already read, but a few were new to me so I set them aside to keep.

The Book of Ruth  was one of those “keepers”.  I held onto it for no other reason than I hadn’t read it before.  Well, truth be told, I also have a penchant for any book that has been on Oprah’s Book Club list. About 90% of the time I really enjoy the books she chooses (and the times I don’t agree, I actually really, really HATE the book.  The Corrections, anyone?  Blech).

The front of the book also had this quote from Vogue:

An American beauty this book…The narrator of Jane Hamilton’s sensational first novel is a holy lusty innocent.”

Before even opening it I knew it was in first person and from the point of view of someone who was probably a victim.

I was right.

Keep Reading…

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Read my latest post on Borderless News and Views:  Bullying: Not Just a Lesson for Kids.

 

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