Forty

I told my students this week that my parents are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this weekend.  Most of them were blown away.  A few commented on how awesome that is and how it’s so rare these days.

It is rare.

And it’s extremely awesome.

Forty Years.

They were married in 1973 just three months before my mom turned 20, and just days before my dad turned 23.  So young!  Such babies!

When I was 20, I remember thinking, “my mom was married by this age and I am just in my sophomore year of college with no serious boyfriend.”

I mean, when I was 20? I was ridiculous.  There was no way I could do what my mom did.

She said, “I do” to my dad at an age where I was getting large M’s marked on my hands at concerts and bars and not getting up for a class that was earlier than 10:50am.

She took on budgeting and keeping house at an age when I was still bringing my laundry home for her to do for me.

She was meal-planning and comparing meat prices at an age when I was deciding between buying Ramen noodles or that pint of Popov Vodka.

You get the point.  I can’t even begin to imagine giving up college, getting hitched, and becoming a housewife at age 20.  It is just not for me at all.

But my mom did it.

I don’t know much about what their first few years married was like.  I imagine it wasn’t that much different than mine and Cort’s first few years.  So excited to buy that first house and move in together.  Overcome with giddy silliness each time they realize that this is it.  The real deal.  No one has to go home at the end of the evening.  Concerned about the tightness of money and how to pay the bills and save.  Dreamy about what the future would be like.

I wonder at times…did they sit and dream like Cort and I do?

In those five years before they had kids, did my parents wonder about their future kids?  Think of names?  Talk about all the places they would love to travel to?  Did they sit outside with a glass of wine and talk about their dream house or dream jobs?

And once I arrived, did they stare at me in wonder like we did with Eddie?  Did they shake their head in amazement that they were actually someone’s parents? Did they worry about my future and if they were messing me up?

Once their family was complete, how did they know?  Did they settle in to raising their kids up?  What did they talk about after we kids were tucked away to bed each night?  Did they share a laugh over something one of us did that we took very seriously?  Did they discuss how they would handle the “sex talk” and puberty and boyfriends/girlfriends and getting a driver’s license and college choices and and and…

Did they ever foresee the not-so-awesome choices that we would make?  Did they cry over us?

I know they prayed over and about us.

What I do know is that in the 35 years that I have been part of that marriage, I have never seen them scream-fight at each other.

I have never heard either say anything hurtful or ugly about the other.

I have never heard them disagree about money.

I have never seen them physically hurt each other.

I have never witnessed them cut the other just to do it and watch the other person hurt.

I have many times heard my dad tell my mom what an excellent cook she is.

I have had my mom tell me to ask my dad because he knows a lot about that specific topic and could be a great help.

I have many time seen my dad hug and kiss my mom…especially after dinner…much to our kid-disgust (ewww!!!!)

I have seen them stand by each other in the face of a screaming teenager.

I have had my mom comfort me when my dad just didn’t understand my teenage girl crazy.  But she never put him down.

I have had my dad comfort me when my mom and I clashed due to my teenage girl crazy.  But he never said she was wrong.

They play up each other’s strengths and they cover each other’s weaknesses.

My mom encourages my dad to be the leader that he can be.

My dad encourages my mom to be the nurturer that she can be.

My mom reels my dad in.

My dad throws out my mom’s line a bit.

My mom is what I think of when I read about the Virgin Mary in the Bible.  I believe she loved being a mother.  She cherished all the things about her son in her heart and she honored her husband.  My mom is the same way.

My dad is what I think of when I read about the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Instead of dwelling on our mistakes, he rejoices in our victories.  He is giving and loving with his family.

My parents are not perfect.

They do argue.  They do disagree.  They make mistakes.

But they get through it.

For 40 years.

And for the rest of their lives.

Happy anniversary, mom and dad.  You are truly the best example of marriage that I have been blessed to witness. Your love, devotion, and faithfulness have influenced me more than you know.  Thank you.

They're cute, right?

They’re cute, right?

Special Needs Special

**author’s note:  This is a sponsored post in a way, but I will get to that later.  This was supposed to run on the Friday of BlogHer, but due to an internet outage and some other stuff, it didn’t get scheduled.  I am running it now because it’s important to me to fulfill what I said I would do.**

I read a lot of blogs by mother’s and father’s with special needs children.  I’ll be honest and say many times I don’t comment.  Mostly because I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know how to reassure.

I have never been in the position to parent a child with special  needs.

I wish I could say that I have had really positive experiences teaching students with special needs, but that is not totally accurate either.  Most of my autistic and emotionally impaired students do really love me, but not in the classroom.   They love to stop by and talk and talk and talk to me after school though.

I’ve never been uncomfortable around people with special needs, but I don’t know that God blessed me with what it takes to live or work with them full time.  I just don’t feel that I am enough.

I know it’s cliche, but it really does take a special person to commit themselves to working with and loving people with special needs.

My beautiful friend, Trisha, has spent her entire life with people who have special needs.

Her parents run Adult Foster Care homes in the Grand Rapids area, and when she was growing up, her house was a home for ladies.

In fact, her parents didn’t get out of managing their own home until Trisha was in high school.  Now they own three homes, one of which Trisha and her husband, Ben (who has two adopted brothers who are both special needs), live in and manage.

Besides the two of them, they have up to 12 women at a time along with their own four children (ages 5, 3, and twins who are 2 months) living with them.

Running the house is their job.

They can’t just leave whenever they want; everything has to be scheduled so that one of them is home with the ladies at all times.

If they want time off, they have to hire staff, pack up all four kids, and leave their own home.

Not to mention dealing with crappy government funding, guardians who may or may not work with them, special needs program scheduling, staffing, grocery shopping for 18 people, cooking for 18 people, keeping the house to code, cleaning up after “accidents”, and so much more.

They have had medical emergencies ranging from stroke to heart attack.  Trisha has had to say goodbye to women she knew since she was little.

Their children know no different.  Even though the house is separated to give their family some privacy, their boys still play with the ladies from time to time and know them all.

Managing a house of women who have everything from Downs Syndrome to Schizophrenia is not just a job they can do and then leave behind them after an eight hour work day.

It’s their life.

I wish I could say after all the years of being friends and spending time at their house, I am used to their way of life.

I guess in a way, I am.  I don’t get awkward feeling sharing the kitchen with the ladies who are on dishes duty, or when they ask to use the phone, or when it’s time for Ben to do meds.

But I am still in awe of how Ben and Trisha (and their children) can just mesh with all these ladies…and meet their needs without acting like they are “special”.

Or rather…showing the ladies they are special and important…without focusing on the fact that it has anything to do with their needs.

They treat them like normal people.

Because they are.

They are people.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to convey to Trisha and Ben how much I respect what they do.

The world needs more Trishas and Bens.

***Trisha and Ben (owners of Visel AFC) gave me this sponsored post for my birthday back in March.  They asked me to write about my experience with someone with special needs, but the only thing I could think about was how having them in my life, and experiencing their life/job has made me a better person.  I wanted to post this during BlogHer, since they helped me get there, but it didn’t work out.  I hope they still accept this**

heartcare

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

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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.

only the first night

First things first.

I have a guest post today over at The Kir Corner.  She is one of my most enthusiastic, loving cheerleaders supporters here in Sluiter Nation, and when she asked if I would share one of my proudest Mom Moments at her place?  I simply could not say no.

I will warn you, however, that I chose to go with something very recent and maybe not that exceptional for most moms. In fact, I am pretty sure it is totally run of the mill for most mamas of toddlers out there.  But for me?  And how stupid my PPD has been lately with this med thing?  It’s a proud moment indeed.

So go read that moment before I take you back in time to this moment….

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I cuddled down into my sleeping bag that had been laid out neatly next to my cousin’s.  She was already softly sleeping, but I was yet vigilant.

I tried to close my eyes, but sleep didn’t come, so I stared up at the close green canvas.

I inhaled the dank, musty, comforting smell of my grandma’s tent camper as I listened to twigs pop and animals scurry.

The campfire had died down a couple hours ago, but its scent had permeated my hair, my jammies, and my pillow.

I rolled over carefully, knowing that any sharp movement would move the entire camper and draw out protests from my cousin.

As I slid my knees up to my chest, my bare feet felt the familiar friction of something.

We did everything we could to keep it out of the camper:  shoes and sandals off outside on the mat, a towel to to dust any stubborn grains, even a special water jug just for rinsing.  But somehow, there it was.

Sand in the bottom of my sleeping bag.

I wondered where they came from.

Most of the day was spent at the beach running across the hot sand to the lake to cool our scorched toes. Even in the water of the Great Lake sand had found it’s way into my bathing suit.

We had carried shovels and pails and strainers and boats and rafts and towels back with us, all covered in sand despite our best efforts to rinse and shake out.

However that evening after dinner we had all climbed the Dune.  Maybe this sand came from there.

It was always a race to the top.  All seven first cousins and an almost countless number of second cousins and other Camping Crew Kids that may or may not have been related to us sped up the mountain.

My aunt and Grandma were among the Dune climbers.

My Aunt Sandy would yell at us to be careful of the little kids, to not go into the undergrowth because of poison ivy, and good gracious this was a lot of work!

Grandma would encourage and hoot and holler as we kids made it to the top one by one.

Once to the top, the adults would have a sit down to rest while we all explored or just marveled at the Great Lake that stretched below us.

It wouldn’t be long before someone would make the call and begin the downward plummet back to the bottom.

Soon everyone would be hurling down the mountain, our legs getting carried away and turning to rubber.

Some of us would fall and roll in a spray of sand.

My aunt would pick us up, tell us to hold still, and attempt to rub the sand out of our hair, eyes, and crevices before we would all march exhaustively back to the camper or down the road to the General Store for ice cream.

Or maybe the sand at the end of my sleeping bag marched in from the campsite sand.

We would ride our bikes, play catch, and then bury our feet in the dirt by the fire as we made Hobo Pies and S’mores and listened to Grandma and her brother’s yodel and sing.

And maybe I had been too tired to get it all cleaned off before climbing into the bunk next to my cousin.

So now there was sand in my sleeping bag.

And it was only the first night.

casey and mozzi lovin’.

The internet gives me many things on the daily.

At work it gives me my gradebook, my attendance site, and resources for fun projects to do for my Spanish classes.

It provides me with email to connect with teachers, parents, and friends.

It gives me facebook to connect with friends and family.

It gives me my blog to pound out my thoughts and feelings and network with others moms like me.

It gives me The Twitter.

In the past year, the internet has gifted me with something I would have never imagined.  If you had told me 18 months ago that some of my closest friends would be people I mostly only talk to using my laptop?  I would have laughed at you.

In my mind, people who are “friends” with personalities in their computer?  Are lonely nerds.  They sit alone in their dark basements and type away creating a fake persona for themselves and making “friends” with other people’s created personae.

And then I met Casey.

First I read her blog because my friend, Emily (who I already knew in real life), directed me there.  I fell in love hard with Casey’s writing.  I laughed, I sobbed, I related–for the good and the bad.  I even learned new things.

And then I got to meet her in real life!

Sarah (Ordinary Sarah), Emily (DesignHerMomma), Casey and me.

Somewhere in those few hours between meeting and her spraying make-up on my face, we became friends.

Like real friends.

Even though Casey has been through more than I could possibly bear myself, she has always extended her virtual arms to me when I am hurting.

Even through her emails and blog comments,  I feel as though she is leaning in close and whispering her offerings of support to me.

Or throwing her head back and laughing loudly at the joke.

Even when she is sad, her love for her friends and family is so genuine and apparent.

She is quite possibly one of the kindest, most loving people I have ever met in this world.

And it’s all thanks to the internet.

When she whispered an email to me that she was expecting, tears streamed down my face for a friend I had only hugged once, but who I had lifted up in prayers countless times.

When Emily asked me to be a part of showering Casey, I almost jumped from my computer with excitement.

Did you know SUNDAY is her due date??  It’s true!  Mozzi (the name she is calling her little girl until she meets her) is due in only TWO DAYS!

To celebrate her, Sluiter Nation has sent her these from The Sunshine Stitch:

 

And this (well, not THIS guy, but a cute girly sister of his) from Sew Whimsy Creations:

But wait!  It doesn’t stop there!  Casey actually celebrated her birthday yesterday, and Sluiter Nation was NOT about to let that go unrecognized!

Rumor has it that she really loves Kilwins, so I made a little trip to lovely downtown and bought her a treat.  It’s on its way as I type (because I am not at all quick at getting things to the post office…good thing I don’t have my own shop)!

I cannot WAIT to meet Mozzi in person (I may have ONE more thing for her, but that is a secret), and hope to make the trip to Indy again this summer.  If all else fails, I will hunt her down at BlogHer and steal her baby.

Wait.  What?  No.

Ahem.

Hopefully this time next year Casey will take Mozzi AND Moosh up to Holland for some tulip fun.  I’ll even treat Mozzie to her first pair of wooden shoes.

Happy baby and happy birthday, my lovely friend.

You are loved.

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!

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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.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Today is Recruit Day in Sluiter Nation!  Don’t know what a Sluiter Nation Recruit is?  Check it out!

This week I am bringing you one of my local blogging friends, Julie, from Dutch Being Me. Julie and I have never met in real life which is totally weird.  Her brother bowls with my husband.  She lives in the town I live in.  There is zero reason other than our crazy busy lives.

Anyway, Julie and I met on twitter of all places.  We talk all the time.  I love reading her take on the world she and I share and I can’t wait to meet her at Gleek Retreat in just a few weeks!

Here is Julie…

*************

I’ve been learning a lot about myself recently. I’ve learned that I need more rest than I thought possible. I learned that I can’t say yes to everything and still feel good. I learned that once I get overwhelmed, I collapse and become a pile of mush… which doesn’t seem to help anybody around me.

Overall, I learned that because I haven’t dealt with issues that caused some (or much) of the weight gain way back when they were a problem… they have come back to haunt me at the most inopportune times. Times that usually are stressful and require much more thought and time into processing the feelings that are surfacing. Even though now I’ve lost the weight, the struggle to maintain is making me realize the issues are still there.

So in light of all of these negative feelings surfacing and trying to deal with them slowly (and resolutely) – the question I’ve been asking myself (a lot) lately is what are things that I can do to pamper myself?

Here’s my list of favorite things to do to feel special and relaxed…

Organize something :: I know it sounds like a whole lot of work – but for me, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something when my books are in a different order or the papers on the coffee table have been filed. Usually it’s a little something that only takes me 10 (or so) minutes, but the repercussions can last days (or weeks) when looking around the house.

Read a book :: I love an easy read some days. The kind of book I’m talking about here is one that doesn’t make you think a lot. Probably one from my childhood {Anne of Green Gables} or a book that doesn’t make me think a lot {any piece of chick lit will do here.}

Write a story :: Many participate in The Red Dress Club prompts each week… but a lot of what I need to write are things that keep my creative juices flowing – a story that’s been within me and needs to be expressed. Or maybe it’s just writing something as simple as a short poem sharing the feelings that I’m going through at that moment.

Get my nails done :: Typically I try to do this once a month – as long as the cash allows – and it typically only costs about $12 (in my area) for an “express manicure”. Just having the fresh coat of polish on my nails makes me feel better about myself and brings up my self-esteem.

Paint Pottery :: This is one of my most favorite things to do… but I rarely do it because the costs for painting time and materials adds up so quickly. But while I am painting a plate, a mug or maybe some other random item, I sit and take my time to carefully design and layer so that the final outcome is what I want to keep for myself… or share with someone else.

Going to see a movie in the theater :: Whether it is with friends, or by myself, I love to go to the theater to see a movie. The big screen, the surround sound, the popcorn… it all adds up to a marvelous experience.

As you can see I’m a creative-type person that loves to be surrounded by creative things.

What do you do to feel special or relaxed?

*************

Want more of Julie?  Yeah you do.  Here are some great posts she sent me that I agree give you a really great idea of how awesome she is.

Holy Rolls

It’s time to introduce you to the newest Sluiter Nation Recruit!

Don’t know what the Sluiter Nation Recruits are?  Well go here and read up!

This week’s recruit is one of my very first bloggy friends…and I KNOW I have talked about her here.  A lot.

Meet Sluiter Nation Recruit, Miranda of Not Super…Just Mom.

We are very twin-like.

We are both English teachers.

We both have blond, curly-haired boys who are only months apart in age.

We both have super awesome husbands.

We both love coffee and wine.

And the similarities keep going.

I would be remiss not to have Miranda as one of my first Recruits.

*************

 

Hey y’all. I’m freaking PUMPED to be an Official Sluiter Nation Recruit. So pumped. When I got the email from Katie I was all “WOOT!” and then I forgot the date by which I was supposed to write the post. So Katie’s probably not so pumped she asked me. Not woot.

Anyway.

Today, I’m going to talk to you about toilet paper. And my childhood. And I’m not talking about potty training because I don’t remember that. But I’m told I took to it very well and I can only hope that my child does the same. But he’s a boy so I’m not holding out much hope.

ANYWAY. (Clearly, staying on topic is not my strong suit. Ahem.)

When I was young and growing up, we went to church. A lot. Like all the time. And on one Saturday night in particular, there was a benefit singing for a member of our church.

In case you don’t know, a benefit singing is a singing to raise money for someone. And by singing, I mean good ol’ gospel music. Bluegrass sometimes, but Southern gospel all the time.

For a 12 year old, this is not exactly the most amazing way to spend a Saturday night. But, as I could not drive, or really make my own decisions, I went. And I made sure to take along a posse of friends to keep me company. One of them was the boy I had just started “going with.” I was all 12-year-old giddy and excited to be holding hands in the back of the church.

The 4 or 5 of us who’d been dragged to this thing together sat near the back. And we didn’t exactly pay attention to anything except for the notes we were passing. And then the boy I was “going with” sneezed the most idiotic and ridiculous sounding sneeze I’d ever heard in my life. And we laughed.

Loudly.

The next thing we know, a deacon is walking over from about 10 rows up. A deacon with no teeth and overalls. And he tells us it’s time for us to be quiet.

And my Daddy saw the whole thing.

After the singing my cousin, who was living with us at the time, and I were told that Daddy would be dealing with us when he got home.

Y’all. This was bad news bears. My Daddy had never meted out a punishment on us in my life. Ever.

The whole ride home was spent in anticipation of the punishment that would likely be as bad as if God Himself had come down on us with all of his Hellfire and brimstone.

As soon as we walked in the door, we started scheming about how we could make the whippin’ we knew was coming hurt a little less.

And then we remembered the toilet paper.

Charmin toilet paper had this campaign going at the time where they had kids using rolls of their fluffy, white, cottony paper to soften the blows from football and dare-deviling and the like.

My cousin and I had an “AHA!” moment and started stuffing whole rolls of Charmin toilet paper into the butt ends of our shorts.

Whole rolls, y’all. And then we promptly sat down on the couch to hide our genius.

Daddy comes walking in and we’re sitting on the couch all twiddling our thumbs and looking like angels and he says “Y’all go into your room and I’ll be in there in a minute.”

And then we stood up.

And then it took him 15 minutes to come in to us because, as I later learned, that’s how long it took him to compose himself after seeing the genius plan we’d come up with.

I wish I could say that the toilet paper saved our backsides, but it didn’t. We were instructed to give EACH OTHER two licks with the paddle and then we had to sit with Mama forever and ever until he said we could sit somewhere else in the church.

Y’all, my Mama sits on the second row of the church. The SECOND ROW. That is spitting distance when the pastor gets going.

But, to this day, I cannot buy Charmin toilet paper, or even walk past it in the store, without thinking about that moment.

And I still sit with my Mama. On the second row.

*************

Isn’t she deliciously Southern?  She is like my own personal Paula Deen.  Plus?  She is cute even with a cleansing mask on.  Trust me on this.  You’ll want to get to know Miranda’s blog because it’s one of my favorites.  If you want the funny, you will want to read Children’s Songs Hate Me, FAIL!!, and So I know why toilet locks were invented. But Miranda is also quite lovely with her words.  I dare you not to get a little teary-eyed reading the story of the stars.

I Got You

This one goes out to you, Kim.

By the time you read this post, you will probably have read Lauren‘s and Miranda‘s.  And by this time, there might be others too.

You know we are telling you that we love you.

You know we wish we could help.

But here is the thing.

I’m not going to be we for a second.

I’m just going to be Katie.

You are my friend.

No, we have never met “in real life.”

No, I don’t know what your voice sounds like.

No, I have never watched you go from serious to a huge smile.

But….

BUT…

I have read your words.

I have seen pictures of you.

And you are my friend.

I don’t have a ton of close friends.  (Shut up, I don’t).

But those who are my close friends?  Know I can’t sleep or eat or function well when they are hurting.

They know I will do anything in my power to help.  Even if the only help I can bring is an inappropriate giggle.

Last night I tossed and turned thinking about where you were.  How you were.

I would dream of looking for you.

I checked my phone each time I woke up.

No Kim.

I cried silently when I thought of what “could” be.

I asked Cort if I was crazy since I didn’t technically know you.

He said, “of course not.  She is your friend.”

Yes.  You are.

My friend.

Why yes, you ARE on the wall-o-friends

And as my friend you have taught me to laugh at the bad in life.  Not because it’s funny, but because it’s our defense against it.  Bad hates laughter.  And we can bring the laughs.

As my friend you have shown me it’s ok to not be perfect…because that is more fun.

As my friend you have cheered my sorry ass on when I thought PPD and just life would win.  You made me realize there is too much going for me to stay in my hole.

You have showed me what a fighter is.

Right now?  You are finding it hard to fight.

You trained me.  Let me fight for you.

Or?  Let this guy fight for you.

hey pretty lady...let me take care of that for you.

and?  since I love you so much.  I had this made for you.  I will mail it soon, but here is a preview.

to be worn as a protective sheild against the evil world

Kim?  You are my friend.

I love you.

I am here for you, girl.  I got you.

And so does the rest of the bloggy world.

On a Spring Breeze

 

I’ve been in the bloggy dumps lately.

I have so much to say and nothing is coming out right.

And it’s true that I contemplated just quitting.  Quitting the social media world.  Just posting the occasional picture here for my family and friends.

But I was talked out of it.

I was told I need to quit putting so much pressure on myself to write a masterpiece every. single. time I hit publish.

And these wise friends of mine were right.

So to take a wee bit of pressure off myself AND still share love with you all, I am starting a new guest post series here in Sluiter Nation.

It has come to my attention that there are people out there in the world who would like to know what I read every day.  Where do I get my inspiration?  Who are these phantom bloggers who give me so much joy and so much support to keep going with this little corner of the web every day?

I present to you…the Sluiter Nation Recruits!

Each Wednesday I will bring you a new blogger who, by writing a guest post, has become an official member of Sluiter Nation and can don the Nation Bling:

My first official Recruit is Nichole from In These Small Moments.

Nichole is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met.  She is genuine and kind.  She is beautiful and strong.

She also has a gorgeous little girl named Katie.  Perfect.

And a handsome little toddler named Matthew.

And she is going to be my BlogHer roomie.

AND she is one of the co-hosts of The Red Dress Club with  me.

I am honored that Nichole agreed to be my first recruit.

*************

As I sit here, I can hear the birds tweeting and the sun is shining, with not a cloud in the sky.

It was a long winter. A brutally long, wet winter.

But now, fingers crossed, it’s all behind me.

When Katie invited me to guest post here, as the first official recruit, I had lofty plans of writing something about belonging, about friendship, about love.

But those plans have floated away on a spring breeze.

Instead, I’m going to tell you the ten things that I’m looking forward to most about the warmer weather.

  1. Warmer weather means that turning the sprinklers on for my kids is just as good as bathing them.
  2. Meals are better served outside in the warmer months. And meals outside? Are served on paper plates. No more loading and unloading the dishwasher.
  3. Longer days are meant for evening bike rides. There’s little that’s more peaceful than that.
  4. Spring means baseball…baseball means peanuts and beer. For dinner.
  5. The clothes we wear in the warmer months are much smaller. Smaller clothes=less laundry. Even I can do that math.
  6. The spring and summer months simply beg for us to go camping. There’s unexpected joy in sleeping in a tent, getting dirty, and eating S’mores.
  7. My gardenias bloom in abundance during the warmer months. Sitting outside in the evening, glass of wine in hand, with the scent of gardenias in the air is pure bliss.
  8. We spontaneously purchased a new water and sand table for the kids. The joy in their laughter and collaborative play is pure magic.
  9. Our Katie is will soon be on summer break from school and that makes me all sorts of happy.  Watch out, Katie! You might just get sick of me by August!
  10. Speaking of Katie and August…Blogher ’11!

This summer is going to be pure joy!

Thank you for having me here, Katie. I’m so excited about this new feature and I can’t wait to see who you have here in the coming months.

Much love to you, my beautiful friend.

*************

Much love to you, too, Nichole.  I am honored you are here.  I cannot WAIT to meet you in August!

You should also check out Nichole’s Small Moment Mondays guest post series where she asks people to explode a small, but meaningful moment.  She even had little old me over for a small moment.

But to better know the loveliness that is Nichole?  You should read Disappearing Stripper Boots…Or Why Barbie Can Stay, Because It Was Grassy and Wanted WearWithout a Backward Glance, and My Full Weight.

Now tell us…what part of warmer weather do YOU look forward to?

Me?  I look forward to the beach with my little guy!

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