light in crowded spaces

When we bought our house eight and a half years ago, the thing I loved the most about it was the front window.

The house was unfinished and as we walked around on the sub-floors, I tried to picture furniture we didn’t even have yet in each room.

I tried to imagine how I would fill all the rooms with lovely things that made it feel like a home.

I couldn’t comprehend that this space would ever feel small or cramped.

We were just two, soon-to-be-married, twenty-something kids and this was so much space for just two.

Never did I understand how baby things and toddler toys and little boy treasures would fill it up to bursting.

Some days all I can see are the crowded cupboards and overflowing bins.  I focus only on what takes up space.

But other days, when the light shines in and a cool breeze blows easily through the house and the smell of fresh cut grass wafts up into the house, I am suddenly stopped in my tracks at all this house has done for us in the past eight and a half years.

And I still love the front window the best.

2013-06-09 12.27.28

it’s easy as ABC

Ever since I watched my brother-in-law and his fiance (now my lovely sister-in-law) open one at a bridal shower three years ago, I wanted one.

I coveted it.

But I never had the time or motivation to do anything about getting one for us.

So every time I went to their house I just sighed and coveted.

(I am aware this is not healthy, just stick with me.)

And then one glorious day an opportunity came up.

I was sent the above piece of artwork by Alphabet Photography.

That bad boy is valued at $169.95 (the high end of their work) and has a 3″ solid wood frame in a dark chocolate finish with gold leaf accents. The letters are matted with a  museum quality double mat with a V groove.

Before I had even looked at the site, I knew what word I wanted and where I would hang it.

So listen, the holidays are coming up.

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for something personal to get my family members.  Yes, we swap lists.  And yes, I try to get them something they truly want, but sometimes–especially for my parents and Cort’s parents–it’s hard to come up with something they would love that they don’t already have.

Every single year I ask for lists, and every single year I get pretty good lists from my siblings and sibling-in-laws because, like me, they always need things for the household.  But our parents?  They don’t need anything anymore.

I know my mom has a horrible time coming up with things that aren’t ridiculously boring and uncreative like socks and slippers. Seriously. That is what she puts on her Christmas list that she gives to family. SOCKS.

Now we are no strangers to giving artwork as gifts.  Cort and I have gotten all of our siblings large paintings as wedding gifts.  We have an amazing friend who freelances artwork and graphic design.

To us nothing is more personal than art made especially for you.

That’s another reason why Alphabet Photography is so lovely.  You choose not just what word you want, but you choose the letters you want as well.

For each letter they give you a bunch of choices–in fact, Alphabet Photography is the original and leading company in the letter art industry, boasting the largest collection of photographed letters from around the world. So like I said, you have tons to choose from.  You can get as architectural as you want.  You can even go more modern and choose all old-school neon sign style letters.

The look is really up to you.

They are all hand-crafted original pieces of art and even signed by the artist.

Check out how they are made:

And when you receive your art, it is hand-wrapped in brown paper with a ribbon and a personalized thank you note.

This piece adds the perfect warm, personal touch I am always striving for in our home. This guy agrees.

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The perfect customized gift that includes photographs from all over the world, this is the original Alphabet Photography. Celebrity owners include: Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, Tyra Banks, Ryan Seacrest, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, John Schneider, Nelly Furtado, and many more!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Alphabet Photography. I was compensated by receiving my own Alphabet Photography piece to review.  No further monetary compensation was given…or required. The rave review opinions and text are all mine. As is the cutey pa tootie baby.

Mommy Pants, Vis a Vis Markers, and a Basement Project

Getting my Mommy Pants was a nightmare.

People have been telling me since I got married that I would look GREAT in a pair of Mommy Pants, but I was reluctant to get myself a pair.

Yes, I had watched other people wear them—my own mother had a pair that was so perfect for her, I could have sworn she was born in them.  Many of my friends also had the latest, greatest Mommy Pants style, and sometimes I found myself envious of them.  They looked so comfortable, so much fun.  They seemed so “in”.

And then one day in February of 2007, I got a shipping notice that my Mommy Pants would be arriving around Thanksgiving of that year.

Wait.  What?  I hadn’t ordered any Mommy Pants. Or I didn’t think I did.

I was stunned.

Suddenly, I did not want anything to do with Mommy Pants. I wasn’t in the market for them and I certainly didn’t think they fit my style at that time.  They looked great on some people, but not on me.

to read the rest of this post, head over to Mommy Pants, where Cheryl (one of my partner’s in crime at The Red Dress Club) has invited me to share about my Mommy Pants moment.

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I am also mocking reviewing Vis a Vis overhead markers over at This Blogger Makes Fun of Stuff.  If you have ever used an overhead, or been witness to one being used?  You really need to weigh in on how I feel about these markers.

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Back here in Sluiter Nation?  We are working on our basement.

I don’t have much to say about it except that it sucks and it’s awesome at the same time.

Pictures?  Ok…

 

first they found mold. black mold. no good, I tell you.

but they put the tub in anyway! Score!

then they ran electrical and plumbing and fixed the mold. win.

then dry wall was hung and a layer of dust fell over the Nation

primer was applied by the fabulous Mr. Sluiter

we bought paint

we painted. that shirt, by the way, has been worn to paint every room in our house.

this will be Eddie's room hopefully within the next year!

that's right...I painted the bathroom orange. BOOM!

This has been the past two weeks here in Sluiter Nation:  a constant state of construction.

Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited that this is finally happening.  We have been saving and saving and planning for six years.  It was time.

But I don’t do well living in a state of limbo.

So I may be hard to live with lately.

Maybe.

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I have a new book review and a GIVEAWAY going on at Katie’s Bookcase!  Just in case you weren’t sick of me sending you all over the internets today.

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?

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.

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.

Secret Mommyhood Confession

Ok…it’s not Saturday, but I am giving you my confession anyway…

This is not how I expected life as a family to be.

I know, lame confession, right?  I mean…who DOES expect what they get (ok, some of you probably have exactly what you thought was coming. I am not that prophetic).

Anyway…what is going on around me?  Not what I pictured.

Not in a whiney way…but not in a totally super way either.

It’s just…different.

Growing up, I had a mom who was supermom.  She won’t admit that, but now that I am a mom?  I know she was.

As a kid, I figured that was what being a mom would be.

She stayed home for the first part of our childhood.  She was (um…IS) an excellent cook–a homemade meal was on the table 5 days a week.

Our house was ALWAYS clean.  I don’t ever remember toy messes lasting long.  When we were done with one thing, I got picked up and put away.  At the time we were done.  Not minutes before bed.  And certainly NEVER EVER left out over night.

She did a full house clean every Saturday.  FULL HOUSE CLEAN.  dusting, vacuuming, floor scrubbing (on hands and knees), bathroom cleaning, sheet changes on every bed every other Saturday, and windows in nice weather.

She did laundry EVERY DAY.

Then she went back to school and back to work.

And nothing changed at home.  At least to me?  As a kid?  Nothing changed.

As I got older, I knew I wanted to be a mom, but I knew I would be a working mom.

I assumed my husband would also be working.

But somehow?  I figured the house would get cleaned and picked up and a good family meal would be served each night.

I did not expect…

My kid to see that I had no idea what I was doing…and distrust me for it.

To be so tired after work that I would rather eat McDonald’s that put for the effort to put a meal on the table.

My husband to be laid off from work…and then be out of work for over a year (thanks, stupid economy).

My husband to be back in school.

To be the main bread winner for the family.

To be battling depression and anxiety.

To have such a cute, lovable little boy that sometimes it makes me cry.

To be so damn unsure of myself in every. single. area of my life.

This:

the destruction that is our living room

the danger zone that is my kitchen floor

The mess that is my island

Every. Single. Surface has been hit by hurricane Ed

...Or Hurricane Life

I didn’t expect this either:

the working mom Suzy Homemaker

after a long day of work, I throw on my apron (thanks, Tonya!!) and mix up some corn muffins to go with the meal that has been plupping away in the crock pot.

I didn’t expect to rely on my husband so much to get household chores done and to get the groceries and to be the primary caretaker.

This was not what I imagined.

But in most ways?  I wouldn’t change it either.

This is how we are.  It’s how we are getting through life.

And if that means Cort is changing poopy pantses and I am making corn muffins in a skirt and boots?

Well, then that is how it is for Sluiter Nation right now.

Tune in Tuesday for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday:  The Top Ten favorite blog posts…of my own!  I encourage you to participate and link up…it is like giving a little tour of your blog to people..and I am excited to read what your favorite posts are of your own.

Also?  There is a SWEET GIVEAWAY going on at my book blog, Katie’s Bookcase!  It’s a book to help keep the little ones busy…which is a MUST HAVE this time of year!  Please join in!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Sluiter Nation Fix-ups

This week’s Top Ten is all about the things Cort and I would like to do to our house aka the physical Sluiter Nation.

We bought the Sluiter Nation casa exactly six years ago.  I moved in and six months later, after a lovely wedding, Cort moved in with me.

We have made some improvements on our house, which we bought new, but not very many.  Most deadlines we gave ourselves came and went because of lack of money or time.

Whatever the reasons, we still have a list of things we would like to do…aside from pack up and move to a larger place.

#10: I want to NOT see our weird neighbors.  Or more specifically, I want them to not see us.

See that larger “shed” back there?  Yeah, that belongs to our weird neighbor, Scary Terry.  We watched him ignore the instructions when he built that thing.  He had left over parts.  Also?  The roof caves in every winter.  To “get ready for winter”?  He goes inside and bangs the dents out.  This is the least of his weird.  I want a fence.  A tall one.  That you can’t see through…although you have to admit my drawing is fantastic.

#9 While we are outside…I would like to landscape the backyard a bit.It’s hard to see right now due to the snow, but we have a great backyard.  Cort has mad lawning rearing skills, yo.  I would really love to have a berm or something that, um, hides that large pole which is technically on our property.  Also a nice little flower bed next to the patio would be quaint.

#8 A Second Bathroom.

We have been excited about this bathroom since we moved in.  We even got the matching stuff for it as a wedding gift.  Five and a half years ago.  I have paint colors picked out.  I am pretty sure they don’t make the color I picked anymore.  Nevertheless I want this done.  WE want this done.  Before we have to have 12 adults and 1487979874232602 kids at our house this coming summer.  Yeah.  One bathroom won’t hold all that.

#7. A Big Boy bedroom for Eddie

Again, technically this room has been a “room in progress” for the past six years.  You can see how far we have gotten. Stuff we don’t want to look at or think about live here.  But instead?  We would love for our little man to live here.  Some changes may need to happen.  Like why do we have all those boxes?  yeah, I don’t know either.  And please ignore the fashionable tacky dust ruffle that is serving as a curtain so neighbor kids (aka Scary Terry’s offspring) don’t come and take a gander at our treasures crap.

#6 Organization

I didn’t even bother to spruce this picture up.  I mean, you can see my unmentionables hanging there to dry.  I think that spruces it up all on it’s own.  Anyway, this is our laundry room/storage room/my office.  It is sad.  Granted, it is MUCH more organized than it used to be (see my tubs with the labels for Eddie’s clothes.  Yeah, I am awesome).  We would like to finish this room–not just for looks but for functionality.  We need a shelving system.  We need this room to WORK for many different things.  Right now?  it is sort of a cold, scary place to be.

#5. Speaking of Organization…

I know one of Cort’s big wishes is to finish dry walling the garage and seal the cement.  I know he would like to get some sort of organizational system in here as well since we have a gallon of crap to fit in a pint-sized pail.   Oh…and two new vehicles would be nice too.  Just sayin’.  ya know, if we’re wishing here.

#4. Tile

I just really hate linoleum.  This was put in before we had a chance to choose otherwise.  It’s in our bathroom and entryway too.  I hate it.  I discolors.  It gets funky spots.  It’s just ugly.  Tile, please. (oh and I would also like new carpet.  We put the carpet that is in the basement in after we moved in and it is AWESOME.  I would like that throughout the house.  This “factory” shiz?  Sucks the big one).

#3. A face lift for our side lot

Ok perhaps we don’t need huge crazy flowers and a random happy little family trollop-ping through the yard, but it would be nice to get this cleared of the brush, leveled and then seeded so I can add pretty landscaping later.  Having the yard would just be nice.

#2. A bigger deck…and a way off from it.

Ok this was my craptacular attempt at creating stairs going DOWN from our deck.  As it is right now?  You can only get on and off the deck by way of the slider in our dining room.  Annoying seeing as we created a lovely patio just below with some lovely patio furniture.  However, if your hotdog is being made on the “upper deck” since it’s close to the kitchen, you would have to go inside the downstairs slider, go upstairs, through the kitchen and out to said “upper deck” to get your tasty wiener.  Then you would have to turn around and make this odyssey again to sit comfortably on the patio with your treat.  Now imagine if you forgot to get chips and dip.  Seriously.  it sucks.

Love the deck.  Hate the inconvenience.

#1. A family room we can use as a family

Our family room was the first thing we “finished” when we moved in.  It has soft, squishy carpet, warm colored walls, and awesome art (Pearl Jam and REM concert posters that are custom framed).  But there is just too much crap lying around too.  Take Cort’s Corner, for example.  While I like our desk and printer “stand” much better than what we used to have, there is still just too much lying around to let a toddler loose in here.

And what you can’t see in the top picture is the huge rack of video games and dvds that are just waiting to be pulled off shelves and tossed about.  Something needs to change.  We are super close to this being a great family room.  We just need a little more work put in…this is actually on the To Do list for Christmas break.  And when Cort gets a job (because he SOOO will), we would LOVE to get rid of the ugg-o furniture and get a nice, comfy sectional that we can all pile on for family movie night.  And maybe get a TV from this decade.  Ahem.

We love our little house…we really do…but there are somethings that we would like to make better.

How about you?  Is there anything YOU would change about your house?

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?

Secret Mommy-hood Confession Saturday

Ok so Kimbery over at All Work and no Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something confesses stuff on Saturdays.  It’s not an actual meme, just something she does.

But I thought since I am all out of things to say (actually, I’m not…I just can’t get in the mood to write about any of them right now), that I would participate since I DO have a confession.

And it is this:

I let my kid watch TV all the dang time.

That’s right.  The TV is rarely off in this house.  Ever.

See?  Even from Eddie’s beginning we had that darn TV on constantly.  This area of our house is where Eddie has been pretty much raised.  It’s our living room.  It has a TV.  Hence the boy is in front of the TV a LOT.

There it is.  On again in the background of tummy time last summer.  By 4 months this kid probably knew all the Tigers and their position.  And that they suck.

He even learned to roll himself over on his tummy and fall asleep when we were losing.  Smart boy.  Although I am starting to wonder if not only did I let him watch TV too much, but I had him on the floor too much too.  huh.

Here we are…more recent.  This is probably just a month or so ago.  At least we decided that if the TV was going to be on?  Perhaps we should have kid-appropriate shows on.  For awhile Eddie was watching whatever we had on…and I am guessing Gangland on the History Channel is probably not the most appropriate show for a 15 month old.

This kid loves his TV shows.  In fact, the other night after he went to bed?  I realized there were NO shows on the Tivo for me to watch.  It was FILLED with Eddie’s programming.

The fact that we have Dora on demand constantly is maybe not healthy.

So we have turned off the TV from time to time (it’s off right now and it’s WAY to quiet in the house.  I am all creeped out).

But then this happens…

Yup.  Sesame Street on my laptop.

Sigh.

The boy loves TV.

The boy is quiet when we put the TV on.

The boy signs “more” when his Tivo-ed program ends.

It’s cute.

And did I mention he is quiet?

Oh man…what did I create?

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