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!

SLuiTeRPaLooZa!!!

It’s my blog’s birthday!

::cue the confetti and balloons falling from the ceiling::

Over on the giveaway page, I’m spilling the winners of all the giveaways.

If you entered, you may want to go check that out.

I’ll wait.

Ok back to this birthday.  Or “blogoversary” as it’s called on the interwebs.

I told you my blog’s birth story yesterday.

Today?

I am celebrating what Sluiter Nation has accomplished in five years.

Sluiter Nation has…

been on 2 blogging platforms (blogger and now wordpress).

3,563 twitter followers.

5 live pages you can visit (see the tabs at the top).

19 categories…which is probably about 14 too many. oh well.

undergone 3 professional design makeovers.

sluiter-nation-button-hibiscus-orange-1

first ever button

1,347 different tags.  I go crazy with tags. allegedly.

a population of 4…double what it had when it was born.

started (and suspended) 1 weekly meme.

Top Ten Button

it didn’t last

over 50% of it’s traffic from referral sites like facebook, twitter, and other blogs.

a lovely 8 sponsors helping pay the bloggy bills.

a whopping 53 Sluiter Nation Recruits.

recruit button

1,047 posts.

1 author.

780 awesome “fans”.

been part of 2 ad networks, but is currently only with 1.

had 35 visits from Malaysia this month (thank you, Alison!)

10 posts in draft form.

button

first paid bloggy makeover

been to 2 blogging conferences: one miniature and one massive.

gone through 3 laptops.

14,230 comments (at time of drafting this post).

over 500 subscribers (are you one?)

Print

current look

been here for me when I need to process my feelings, unload my fears, and celebrate my joys.

Thank you for your part in the past 5 years.

Even if this is your first visit.

To show my thanks, one of you will win this:

only entries recorded in the rafflecopter widget will be eligible to win.

Giveaway closes Monday, July 9 at midnight est. and will be announced Monday at 9am est.

US and Canada residents only are eligible to win.

But know that I wish I could send you all my “mug”.  He he.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I have wrote a post about summer on a budget for Borderless News and Views if you are interested.

the anchor and the helms wheel

I asked him on our way if he was nervous or scared.  Surprisingly–to himself–he was not.

He sees flashes of his dad in pictures of himself, in the laugh of his son, in the smiles of his aunts and uncles, in the gait of his brother.

The design he had emailed back and forth on for months–even years–with his best friend and graphic design artist rested in the space beneath the radio in the dash.

He can feel his father on the breeze off the lake, in the waves lapping against the beach, in the embrace of his grandmother.

I had joked with him earlier if he needed to shave his leg himself  and if he was ready for the fun of stubble on his calf as the hair grew back.

There is an emptiness in the dark of night when he wonders what it would be like to have his dad around to help with basement remodels and yard projects and son-rearing.

He is remarkably calm and even jovial as he cracks jokes with the artist and gets settled on the bench.

He has no idea how much he is his dad right now.  Facing pain with a smile and a joke.  Making those around him comfortable in the presence of what will be HIS pain.

He is deep in thought as his wife and the artist chat and joke and discuss the process. It’s good that she came.  It’s good that she is there with him for this.

Even in the pain he can feel his dad.  Each week, in the same arm, a needle was stuck.  But it was not infusing ink under his dad’s skin.  It was poison that was being injected.

Sooner than later–after winces, but no sound–it was over.

His dad is his guide.  Even in spirit.

His anchor and his helms wheel.

His Pops.

This week’s prompt was to tell a story–fiction or non–about a tattoo in 300 words or less.  This is a true story from my imaginationFor a picture, go here.

too much

My post for The Red Dress Club is over here…

Besides that there is too much going on.

Tuesday, May 31st is my last full day teaching for the school year.

It’s also graduation night.  The last one that I will be in charge of since I have officially resigned the position of Senior Class Adviser.

It will be busy.

I have things to blog about and say, but they will wait while I wrap up this school year.

I know I have posted quite a few pictures lately, but they fill time and space nicely while I get my thoughts together.

So I am doing it again.

Enjoy our Memorial Day Weekend…

swinging at grandma and grandpa's house

Grandpa has some weird friends.

throwing the "bee" around with daddy and the rest of the family.

off-roading it

watching the Memorial Day Parade. Whew! it's HOT!

taking the first dip of the summer!

What did you do for the long weekend?

a rough start to our journey

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

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

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

But that is manageable.

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

Or does it?

I still have the cough.

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

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

What does this have to do with making a baby?

I’m getting to that.

So I have this cough.

And zits.

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

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

Fear not, it has been discussed.

I know how to wean off the meds safely.

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

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

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

And thus began The Wean.

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

I am on every other day right now.

People?  This is hard.

So hard.

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

I still had this cough the whole time.

I continued to taper.

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

It sucks.

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

There is also exhaustion.  Sheer exhaustion.

But I continue to taper my antidepressant.

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

Today?  Everything crashed.

My pain in my back and neck is worse.

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

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

And my mind?

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

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

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

Everything today sucked because of this dumb Monster.

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

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

Today was hard.

And my back still hurts.

And my cough is still there.

And now my wrist hurts.

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

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

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

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.

a story, an announcement (or two), and a giveaway

Psst.

Hey, you.

With the face.  Yeah, you.

Guess what?

I have something to share.

I have a little story to tell you.

Four years ago, I accidentally got pregnant, but miscarried.

We had told everyone I was pregnant and it was crippling to me to have to one by one, announce the end of what we thought was going to be.

Three years ago, I got pregnant again.  We told no one.

We miscarried again.  I was crushed by the pain–physically and emotionally–but so relieved not to have to “take back” the pregnancy news again.

Two and a half years ago, I got pregnant again.  We told no one.

We found out I have low progesterone.

We fixed that.

At 10 weeks, we told everyone.

Almost 21 months ago we had Eddie.

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

So why am i telling you this story that so many of you already know?

Because Cort and I have made a decision.

We have an announcement.

Qe have decided to let me blog about trying to get pregnant when we decide to get pregnant again.

Cort (and my therapist) understand that the best way for me to process things is to be able to put my words here for you.  for me to be able to reach out when i have joy and pain.  For me to have you.

It’s my way to tell all of you I know in my real life things the way I want and need to say them too.  I hate the phone.  I get befuddled and don’t get my words straight.

Here,  I can put down the exact words I want to use.  I can pace things.

I am so grateful to all of you for being that support and for reading my words.

And I feel so lucky to have a husband who understands my need and is willing to let me put something so close and personal out here.

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But wait…we have one more announcement.

We have decided to try to get pregnant again!

Get ready for some of this (God willing!):

 

oh yeah, rocking the flowers ALL OVER!

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Guess what else?

I get to give YOU something in celebration of our announcements!

Have you used Shutterfly to upload and print photos?  They are AWESOME!

Since I am feeling all annoucey lately, I was looking through baby announcements, but then because of the 800 weddings we have this year, I was also looking at save the date announcements and remembering how fun it was to be in those planning stages.

Pretty sweet, huh?

You want some, don’t you?

Yeah you do.

Shutterfly gave me a coupon code for 50 free announcements each, and I am giving it to one of YOU!

To enter to win, just leave me a comment!  That is all!  I want to hear from you about my announcements!

To get a bonus entry, tweet something like the following and then come back and tell me in a separate comment that you did:

i’m helping @ksluiter celebrate her awesome announcements by entering her #cleverspring #shutterfly giveaway! http://wp.me/p1qChn-zb

 

This giveaway will close on Tuesday, April 19 at 4:00 est.  A winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday, April 20.

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Are you a blogger, too? Click here to register for a chance at 50 free announcements!

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

rebirth

Michigan can bring back a bit of cold…and even snow…but we know…it’s spring.

and we need it.

Sluiters are being reborn this spring.

Lots of joy going on here that I can’t wait to share as it unfolds.

it’s only fair

I helped Eddie down the steps to the basement at my parents’ house.  He wanted to find the toys.

While he chose dinosaurs and swords from the toy area, I wandered into my brothers’ old room–the cave as it’s called now because of the dark paneling, dark carpet, and just darkness of being in the basement.

This room has a closet.  It’s one of those under-the-steps-so-the-ceiling-is-awkward kind of closets.  To utilize the most space, in front of you are two hanger bars (tall and short) and to the left is a bunch of shelves.

There used to be toys–old school Little People– on those shelves, so I opened the door to peek and suddenly the smell of my childhood filled my memory.

It smelled like wood and carpet and toys.

Like children and games.

It smelled like being seven.

My brother and I would open that closet and take everything out one-by-one: the airport and plane, the farm, the school, the town, the bag of people and vehicles, and the box of blocks my dad made.

One would get charge of the school, the other the farm.  One would take ownership of the airport, the other the town.

That was fair.

Each person and vehicle and animal would get set in a long row on my brother’s thick, brown carpet.  Somehow we would determine who picked first.

Each person, vehicle, and animal would get chosen individually.

Like picking teams in gym class.

That was fair.

We would then lay out each block my dad had cut and sanded for us and choose one by one.

That was fair.

After the toys were divided up we would take our stash to the family room where the carpet was laid out in a square pattern that we used as roads.

We would argue over the prime locations for house building.

There would be disagreement over whether it was logical for the downtown to be on a mountain (the fireplace) or not.

Someone would call someone else’s house construction dumb.

Maybe a car would fly through the air.

Eventually it would all get set up.

And then we would be sick of it.

It would all have to get put away, but not before showing mom.  And then later, dad.

And some begging to keep this masterpiece of a town up for ever and ever.

Eventually each piece would be picked back up–each of us in charge of our “picks”.

Because that is fair.

There aren’t any Little People in that closet anymore; my mom has them out where my son can find them.

As I gently closed the closet door and walked back out to the family room, I wondered if my son could smell what I could smell.

I wondered if the scent of Grandma and Grandpa’s basement will fill his memory as a happy time of dividing toys and setting up cities and letting his imagination create mountains and roads.

I hope so.

It’s only fair.

winterizing

The following post is my first attempt at fiction. Ok, it’s my first attempt at fiction here on Sluiter Nation.  Everything is completely fictional.  That means not true. Any resemblance to real people, places, and/or events is completely coincidental.  Or not.  Whatever.

The prompt is to write from the perspective of someone who annoys you.

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There was already a chill in the air.  Winter would be here soon and he had to get busy.

The boys wanted to come help and he wasn’t about to turn away free labor even if they would do more to annoy  than assist him.

He lumbered out to the backyard with the oldest running ahead with a baseball bat.

“Come on, Nathan!”

The middle one was trying to drag something out of the garage, but came running out to his dad at the sound of his name.

The little one was already sitting in the sandbox.

“Matthew, get off the wood pile.”  The oldest was already bouncing off any surface he came into contact with.  He needed to redirect this energy.

“Take the bat and go in the shed.  Start banging out those dents.”

rat tat tat tat tat tat tat

He scratched his head as the neighbor rounded the side of his house with a spreader.

That guy?  Was ALWAYS working on his lawn.

“Hey,” he offered.

“How’s it going?”

“Just doing some winterizing,” he said as he nodded toward his shed where the oldest had abandoned the baseball bat and was now throwing sand on his youngest brother.

The snobby neighbor seemed confused.  “Yeah, me too,” he said tapping his spreader filled with fancy shmancy winter fertilizer.

He gave the neighbor the obligatory dude nod and turned to his shed.

What did he care about the yard?  That guy spent way too much time on grass.  Although he mowed every week like clockwork which was a good reminder that after it got dark, it was time for him to fire up his trusty Craftsman POS.  The baby always fell asleep best that way–riding on the mower with him.

Anyway.  Back to the shed.  He had to get it winter ready.

Since all three boys were now out front jumping on the car, he was going to have to do this himself.

He grabbed the baseball bat out of the sandbox, and went into the structure.

He began banging at the roof…attempting to pound out what had collapsed yet again before the snow began to fly.

Maybe he should have followed the directions when assembling it.

Maybe those extra parts went to the roof.

like I said, totally fiction. ahem.

 

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