Summer Out, Fall In

Oh Summer of 2015, what a mixed bag of emotions you have been.

My time “off” started March 5–the day before Alice was born. Summer break officially started June 5 after I picked Eddie up from his last day or Kindergarten and Charlie up from daycare.

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We made a Bucket List of things we wanted to do this past summer. We made a daily schedule for when screen time was and when nap was and when meals were. We made a weekly “adventure” schedule with planned days for the park, the library, the farmer’s market, and more. We started a behavior chart to help two boys who were used to structure and lots of kids around cope with a little less structure and only each other. We had systems in place. This summer was going to be full of fun and adventures!

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And we had fun. We did.

But it wasn’t what I expected.

For one, our daily schedule did not go by what we posted, but by what Alice decided she needed. Her feeding and sleeping drove our days which meant that our weekly schedule also went out the window. If we didn’t leave the house to do fun stuff in the morning? We didn’t go because we needed to have lunch or the kids would turn into monsters (seriously. I learned that if you don’t feed one of my children by a certain time, you will enter into the “point of no return”. Food will help curb the beast, yes, but you have killed the day). And Charlie naps in the afternoon.

Many days because of Alice’s eating/sleeping schedule, we did not leave the house. Or if we did, I fed her while we were out and the boys did awful things out in public.

So I tried to keep the awful out of the public’s eye.

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That is not to say we stayed home ALL the time. We did make it to the Farmer’s Market quite regularly in the beginning of the summer. The problem is, it’s open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Saturdays are a large NO because I hate the massive crowds. So Wednesdays were perfect. But if it was rainy or we didn’t have spare cash, we didn’t go. By mid-July we stopped all together.

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We did the library and the bakery a few times, but it wasn’t regular. In fact, this is the first summer I had to go return the books on my own once so we wouldn’t get late fees. In years past, we could easily go once a week. Nothing was “easily scheduled” this summer.

But we did double the number of books we would normally read because Eddie turned six this summer, and could get his own library card! So instead of ten books each visit, we could do twenty books! I bet we read well over a hundred books this summer, and that is pretty awesome!

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Speaking of books, we also did a neighborhood Kids Book Club this summer. We read three books along with the other kids in the neighborhood and met every other week to talk about it, do a craft, and have a snack! Because of weather, schedules, and other stuff, we ended up not meeting in August, but the boys and I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. And Eddie ordered a couple books by Geronimo Stilton so we have been reading Paws Off, Cheddarface (which I just realized is number 6 in the series. Maybe we should have started with number 1. Huh).

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Something we did almost weekly was the park. Originally, the boys and I wanted to go to every park in our town. We called it “Pick a Park Friday!” Only Charlie thought we were saying “Pickle Park” and when our first choice was a favorite that was close to our house, he thought that park was THE “Pickle Park.” Also we tried to go to a different park once and the boys whined, so we went to the same park every week after that. The Pickle Park. Heh.

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Alice loved the park too, so that was a bonus. Other than the one time we ventured to a different park, every park visit was great. The boys always played so nice and Alice and I sat in the shade while I sipped my coffee.

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I tried my best to get the kids outside every day, but if I am going to be honest here (and I always am), it did not always work. It usually went something like this:

Me: Turn off the screens. You boys need to go play outside for awhile.
Me: GO!
Boys: Grumble grumble QUIT PUSHING ME! GIVE ME MY SHOES! ::door slam::
(2 minutes later)
Me: Go.
(2 minutes later)
Charlie: (scream crying, so it’s sort of indecipherable, but this is what I think he probably said): MOM MOM EDDIE SAID THERE IS A BUFFALO IN THE WOODS AND IT’S GOING TO EAT ME AND THEN HE PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE!
Me: There are no buffalo in our woods. Tell Eddie to be nice. Go.
(2 minutes later)
Me: Go.

And so it goes.

There were days–ok–almost all of the days–when I just said, you know what? Fine. Watch hour 3 of Netflix. Whatever. Leave me alone.

So they did. Usually without pants.

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Sometimes I bribed them outside by going out with them. That usually just meant they sat next to me to do their whining rather than fighting to the death and tattling via opening and shutting the door so often that flies thought our house WAS the outdoors.

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To be fair, we did some fun stuff too. We had a few beach days, went to the zoo, played with friends, and hit up the splash pad.  Adventures were had.

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We ran the sprinklers, flew down the slip n slide, and hauled out the inflatable pool. We kicked soccer balls and played catch. The boys went fishing with Grandpa. We sweated in the heat and ate camp fire food.

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We had fun.

And it was hard.

All at the same time.

Today I go back to work for three days before the holiday break. Then it’s all official. Summer will be done.

We are ready.

I have a bunch of other feelings about my time home with Alice being done, but that is separate from the summer being done. I am ready for the summer “schedule” to be done. I am ready for us to start our fall schedule.  And I know the boys are too.

Because they are almost as sick of sitting in time out as I am of sending them there.

We Are Trying

This summer is a bit less…exciting…than I thought it would be. I thought we would do all these adventures and go to the park all the time and hit the beach once a week.

We have not done that because, even though she is my easiest baby yet, we are sort of on Alice’s schedule rather than our own most of the time. Also? Three kids is way more exhausting than two.

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So rather than go to the library every week, we have opted for every other week…or just when the books are due. We try to get to a park once a week, but sometimes we don’t.

My kids are whiney and bored most days. Even when I kick them outside, they complain there is nothing to do.

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So I gather up Alice and we go outside too.  And they plop their toys and chairs by us under the tree and complain. I come up with games and ideas for them. They play nicely for a few minutes.  Then they are back over by me tattling about what someone did to the other.

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There is only a month left before we go back to school. Technically a month plus a week, but I go back in a month. I finally got my teaching assignment: All 8th Grade English this year. I’m pretty jazzed about having only one class to prep and hoping to do some awesome things with Reader’s Workshop this year.

We are still waiting to find out who Eddie’s first grade teacher is, when orientation is, and what he will need as far as back to school supplies.

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We still have some summer left.

And I am determined to make some fun memories. We have a couple beach days planned, a zoo trip as a family, and hopes for a few other things.

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The boys are starting to feel the need for their regular schedule. I can feel it too–the pull back to the classroom.

I also feel the sadness that means by going back to school, the whirlwind will start and Alice’s baby-ness will start to go even faster as I don’t get to see her all day, every day anymore.

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We are trying to make the most of this last month of this last summer of having a baby around. We are trying to breathe it in rather than look forward to “it will get easier” and “it will get better”.

We are trying to live in the now.

Even when the now makes me want to pull my hair out and run screaming down the street.

We are trying.

A’cottaging We Went

When I was a kid, our family vacations consisted of my family packing up our vehicle and towing our boat “up north” to an inland lake and renting a cottage for a week.

This continued until I was in high school when we took a few summers off to do “regular” vacations like go to Disney and hit up Cedar Point. By my sophomore year we were back to cottages…one cottage in particular in Pentwater.

My family went to this cottage for about 8 years before it was apparent that my siblings and I were becoming adults with busy summers of doing other things.

Last summer, my brothers and I asked my parents if we could do The Cottage again.  We missed it. We missed the lake, the boating, the meals together, the Tootsie Pops that my mom always brought, and the family game time each evening.

Last summer we reignited the tradition, this time with spouses and children in tow, and needing two cottages to house us all rather than just one.

This year we gathered again for five days and four nights.

That time gave me many blog posts (and a bazillion photos). I’m not sure I’ll ever flesh them all out, or post all the pictures, but there were many realizations and experiences this year that need to be “written out”.

For now, however, I will give you a quick glimpse into the pattern of those five days….



Every morning, my parents got up first and sat outside in their bag chairs reading and drinking coffee. Eddie and my nephew Jack were usually next up followed by me, Cort, and Charlie.  Slowly my two brothers and their wives and my baby niece Maria would wander over from their cottage.

Someone would make eggs or pancakes or bacon or toast. There were numerous pots of coffee consumed. It was always a nice slow start to the day.

The Beach

The Beach

Every single day we followed breakfast clean up with putting on our bathing suits and heading to either a tiny beach on Bass Lake or over to the Big Lake (Lake Michigan) for a couple hours of beach. Some days we played in the sand and water, one day my dad put the boat in and pulled a few of us around the lake on the knee board, and one day we drove/walked to Lake Michigan for a big morning of sun and waves. But every day had a beach in it.

After the beach was lunch time. Lunch time was usually around 1:30 or 2pm.  Then Charlie would take a nap.

Game time

Game time

Between Charlie’s nap and dinner we filled the time with walks, relaxing, playing, and of course games.  My mom bought Old Maid and the kids (all of us) LOVED it. It got quite competitive with lots of hooting and hollering whenever anyone picked The Old Maid.



We ate outside every night as a big family of 12. Each family was in charge of one dinner…that included bringing all the food, cooking it, and cleaning up. The Sluiters were in charge of Food on the Fire Pit Night (hobo pies and hot dogs) and also for one big breakfast.  I think our meals were a hit.

More playing

More playing

It seemed like dinner was later and later each night. We would play until it got to be around 8pm and then the Sluiter kids…or at least Charlie…needed to be cleaned up, pajama-ed, and put to bed.  Eddie usually stayed up late with us to play a card game or sit by a campfire, but because he and I shared a little bed, I usually went to bed when he did…around 10pm.

Don’t get jealous…it was hard to sleep with a windmill-like child on a lumpy tiny bed. I didn’t sleep great, but at least we had cool nights so we didn’t add sweating to why we didn’t sleep well.

The weather was perfect, the days were long, and it’s always great to see the smiles that our boys bring to the faces of our family.

There is so much more to be said about those five days, but for now this is what I remember…we still had structure to our day, but that structure was all about relaxing.

June is…

June is a time of beginnings in Sluiter Nation.

School ends for the year in May and June bring the start of long days, lazy evenings, and relaxing afternoons.


June is when I begin my annual three-month stint as a stay at home mom.

We begin new routines that are less rigid and stressful.

We start smelling fresh air more often and wearing pants less often.


June is when we can’t be bothered my calendars.

Even though the calendar looks packed, we don’t find ourselves racing through our time together.

We sit back and take it bit by bit. Moment by moment.


June is always full of possibility.

The summer looms before us filled with potential.

For months Eddie and I have lain in bed listing all the things you can do in the summer like go barefoot and play with water without getting cold.

060June is when we are both busy and lazy.

Doing all the things co-exists with doing nothing.

079June is a lack urgency to use every last drop of summer before it’s over.

We have time.


June is newness.

New flowers, new projects, new possibilities.

The boys are a year older which means there is more we can handle together.


June is a release.

All the months of being everything to everyone else…June is when I am mine…and my boys’.


June is a deep, cleansing breath.


**Also Charlie is 15 months old today. WUT?

***Also Eddie will be four in 10 days. DOUBLE WUT??

Because Ice Cream

It’s summer!!! LA LA LA!!!

Oh summer…you are so lovely.  No work, hours with my boys, waking up to a 3-almost-4-year old each morning sliding into bed saying, “I’m just going to watch Chugington in here, Mommy.  Try not to snore.”

Yes, summer you are lovely.

And the most lovely thing about summer?


simple chocolate ice cream

Oh yeah…who wants some?

You do, that’s who.

Last year for my birthday I got an ice cream maker.  My mom thought I was crazy to ask for one, and Cort figured it would be one more thing that sits in the cupboard unused.

Oh how wrong they were.

As soon as the weather warmed up, I put that mother to use last year.  My favorite from last year was cheesecake ice cream with raspberry sauce.

So because it is officially summer of 2013, it is officially time to break out the ice cream maker again.

Eddie chose chocolate ice cream as our first batch, and since he was going to be my helper, I let him pick it.  Even though it’s so dang easy.

best helper ever

best helper ever

This recipe also does not require the stove, so I figured it was a good one for us to start with this season.  Eddie added each ingredient and then stirred it up.  He also waited patiently for the 2 hours it needed to chill.

HA HA HA HA HA!!  :wipes eyes:

No, he was not patient.  At all.

But eventually the time came, we put it in the ice cream maker, it made us ice cream, and we ate it.

And there were chocolate mustache duck faces made.

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Because YUM!

[gmc_recipe 7176]

What is your favorite summer treat?  If it’s ice cream (like ours) what is your favorite flavor?

This is NOT a Bucket List

anti-bucket-300x258I don’t do bucket lists.  This is probably because I am a pessimist and I assume that if it needs to go on a “someday” list, it means it’s a “never will” list. If it’s not on a list and I get to do it?  Surprise and Yay!  But a whole list of things I wish to do seems like a set up for disappointment. Instead of looking at all the things I’ve checked off, I feel like I will always see those things that never got done.

This is really not a depressing post, I promise.

I really do love lists.

Just not “bucket” lists.

My To Do lists are everywhere: I have Wunderlist lists–both for myself and that I share with Cortney. I have lists to remember details about appointments or outings in our Cozi Calendar. I have post-it’s, a notebook, and a blog planner (mostly for all of my online tasks…not just blog stuff. I don’t have that busy of a blog life).  I have an “All Out Of” list which births a grocery list every week.  I have a literal “laundry” list on my dryer of what loads I do on what days. I have a lesson plan book and various class lists to keep track of various things.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that it’s not like I’m afraid of lists.

I just don’t like Bucket Lists.

I see them all over Pinterest and other people’s blogs…the creative, over-the-top AWESOME that people are going to do with their kids.  Or the childhood memories they want to create with their kids.

I’m not a crabby mom, I promise, I just can’t commit to things like “lay out under the stars” or “catch fireflies” or “take a road trip to another state” or “pack up the family for a picnic in a grassy area we’ve never been before”.

Call me a pessimist or a terrible mom or just a realist, but I cannot romantically put these things on a list To Do.  For one, if these things are on a list? They lose their charm…their excitement.  I’m pretty sure my parents never had “go for a Sunday drive” on any sort of Bucket List (and if I am being honest with my memory from my childhood, I wish NOT going on any Sunday Drives was actually on their list. I get carsick.  They never learned).

And secondly, I know my children. If some night I decide we are checking “lay out under the stars” off our bucket list, all hell will break lose and I will end up crying because NO ONE WILL JUST LIE DOWN AND GAZE IN AWE AT THE UNIVERSE.  There will be over-tired children because it doesn’t even get dark until over 2 hours after their bedtime.  There will be a stressed out OCD mother who is freaking her freak because everything isn’t like a children’s book in the backyard. And I am sure their will be mosquitoes and husbandly eye-rolls.

So instead of a Bucket List for the summer, I give you my Anti-Bucket List or Probably To Do’s:

  1. Leave the house property twice once a week. Not counting the day the boys are in daycare, I just want to get them away from our house once a week. It doesn’t have to be an ALL CAPS SUPER AWESOME OUTING (but it could be). I’ll take Target or the Farmer’s Market.
  2. Maybe try a craft with Eddie.  I won’t get all pinteresty up in here, since I count coloring in his Sponge Bob Coloring book and then letting him cut it up with his safety scissors as a craft, so take this one however you want.
  3. Treat ourselves to treats. We will make ice cream and eat it, and maybe that one time out of the house during the week will be to Starbucks.  Cake pops for everyone!
  4. Teach Eddie responsibility.  He’s going to clean up his own messes because he is almost four and REALLY.
  5. See some animals. Eddie and Charlie get to go to the Critter Barn with daycare in a couple weeks, but I hope to see some animals with them this summer too.  Last summer we did the Critter Barn and three different zoos.  One zoo I prefer not to remember.
  6. Read. By myself. With Eddie.  With Charlie.  Teaching Eddie some sight words.  Maybe even Cort will read something that is not in his Maximum PC Magazine.  Ha ha ha…yeah right.
  7. Sit. Self explanatory.
  8. Play. Oh there will be fun had.  What that fun will look like, I have no idea, but it will be had.
  9. Write stuff. I’ll keep writing here if nothing else…but probably something else.

I know you can’t tell from this post, but I don’t begrudge anyone else for having Bucket Lists.  Some people make ’em and check stuff off ’em like a boss.  Then they share the pictures of the fireflies and the crafts and I see the smiling faces of their kids and I am glad.  The world needs people like that.

I am not like that.  But I think the world needs me too.

Are you a Bucket List person?  You can tell me.  You can even tell me what’s on it.  I won’t think less of you.  In fact, I’ll probably be all kinds of impressed.

It’s a Fish Pouch!

It’s been awhile since I shared a recipe, but I found one this week that every member of my family loved…and it wasn’t a carb-fest or full of cheese!

I know. I am just as shocked as you are.

And here is the most shocking thing…it’s fish.

Yup. ALL four of us LOVED this meal.

It’s SUPER easy, it’s a great summer grill meal, and it’s pretty healthy!

And it’s a POUCH. Of FISH!


I actually have no idea why I find fish so funny, so let’s just get to the recipe before I embarrass myself, m’kay?

[gmc_recipe 7113]

I was going to serve it with brown rice, but then I forgot to make it, so we had unhealthy dinner rolls.

This dinner was a HUGE hit.  Charlie and Eddie both ate everything but the tomatoes with Eddie even declaring, “Mmmm! Zucchini is pretty good!”

A three-year old announcing the “pretty goodness” of zucchini and not fighting at all about eating the fish?


What do you like to grill?  We need more ideas than just hot dogs and fish pouches.


*I found this recipe in my Kraft Food & Family magazine.

Summer Style {Giveaway!}

As I type this, my students are working on their final exams.  When the bell rings at 11:15am today, it will be SUMMER VACATION!  WOOT!

Summer means I don’t have a dress code to follow.  I know that sounds like I am going to go all shorty shorts and tube tops, but no.  It means I don’t have to sweat in slacks and a short-sleeved sweater because we can’t wear anything sleeveless and we don’t have air-conditioning (ok, I do in my classroom at the high school, but in my classroom at the Jr. High, not so much. Or the rest of either building).

What I’m getting at here is that when school’s out? Skirts and dresses become my uniform.  No really. They do.  I can’t stand to wear yoga pants in the summer because when I leave the house for any reason I die of a heatstroke. So skirts and tanks it is!

On the days when I know I will leave the actual property and venture into public, I like to kick the look up a notch to something more than just a fold-over cotton skirt or a maxi dress and wear something pretty.

The Picnic Park Skirt

The Picnic Park Skirt from Shabby Apple

Do you guys know Shabby Apple?

Shabby Apple is an online dress boutique that specializes in vintage and retro dresses.  Click Here: vintage dresses

to see our selection!  I LOVE the style/look of all their clothing.  It’s flirty, retro, romantic, and  just adorable!

I think what I love most about the style of Dresses from Shabby Apple is that even though I have always felt that I have an inner rock n roll chick living inside me, I don’t feel like I am betraying her by loving these clothes.

Gondola Dress from Shabby Apple

Gondola Dress from Shabby Apple

They remind me of Gwen Stefani or Fergi or that chick who used to play bass for Coal Chamber and looked like a china doll.  Ok, maybe that is a stretch since she also wore torn fishnets.  But you get my point.  I wouldn’t feel weird wearing a dress from Shabby Apple and still blaring Danzig.  Or Madonna.  Whatever.

Toe the Line Dress from Shabby Apple

Toe the Line Dress from Shabby Apple

It’s funny because I am not an overly dressy person, but when I look at my summer wardrobe, or I go shopping for summer clothes, I rarely even glance at shorts or capris.  It’s not that they aren’t cute on some people…and maybe would be on me too…but I like the comfort I get with skirts and dresses that bottoms with zipper and snaps and fastens can’t give me.

Lemon Drop Skirt from Shabby Apple

Lemon Drop Skirt from Shabby Apple

And let’s be honest, a skirt gives you a better breeze on hot days than shorts do.  AmIRight?

Do you like what you see?  Well then you will be excited to learn that one lucky reader will win a $50 gift card to Shabby Apple!

To be eligible to win, you must complete the necessary entries in the Rafflecopter widget below, and must provide a USA shipping address when you win.

As a special bonus to Sluiter Nation readers, you can ALL receive 10% off all polka dot dresses from Shabby Apple for the month of June!  Just enter the code polkadot10off at checkout to apply the 10% discount!

Update: Want to double your chances of winning? My friend, Jessica is ALSO having a $50 Shabby Apple giveaway!  Go enter on her blog too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure and terms: I was not compensated in any way for this giveaway. I love Shabby Apple and was happy to give one of you the joy of shopping there too! Some links may be affiliate links.  Shabby Apple is providing the spoils of this giveaway.  Giveaway runs from today 5/31/13 until Saturday, June 8 at midnight est (so, Friday night for some of you). Winner will be contacted via email.  If winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

The Sluiter Nation Booze Cruise

I couldn’t pass up this week’s VlogTalk topic.

While the idea of a blooper real was appealing, I realized the only bloopers I would have to share were so NOT vlogtalk-related and people in my life might get made.

So, I went with my favorite summer drink.

However, I realized that it really doesn’t take much time to make my fave drink, so I am going to show you around the boozey nation first.


For the record?  We also have a total of one beer in the fridge.

Coors Lite.

In case you were worried.

And while we are on the record?  Many of these bottles of liquor had a thick layer of dust.  Does Kahlua go bad?

Anyway, I really mostly drink diet coke in the summer, but that just wasn’t as fun as a booze cruise.

What is your favorite summer drink?  Tell me I am not the only one half-crocked on sipping wine on hot days.


PhotobucketI am linking up with Vlog Talk this week!


on the first day of summer break my true love gave to me…

Starting summer break is always weird.

I look forward to it for weeks while I finish up the million things that I have to do at school.  This year was especially taxing.  Not only did I have six classes instead of five to wrap up, I had graduation to run.

I had tests and quizzes and essays to grade.

I had make-ups and credit recovery to chase.

I had seniors to hound about credits, parents to call about failing grades, graduation rehearsals to plan and run, a senior picnic to organize, and the list really keeps going.

It was a whirlwind.

This past Tuesday I was at school from 7:15am until 8:30pm because of graduation.  I didn’t go home between school and the ceremony because I had so much to work on and it seemed silly to drive 40 minutes home just to turn around and come back.

Wednesday and Thursday were half days for the students, but I still had meetings and grading to get done in the afternoon.

When Friday finally showed up, I was in sort of a daze.

For two hours the staff had their final meeting of the year and then we were free.

We had our annual staff get-together at a teacher’s house to unwind and gab about the latest dirt and rumors in the district about what could possibly happen to our jobs, and then it was time to go.

I got home and just sat.

After all the constant going and doing over the past few weeks I was suddenly done.

So what did I do?  I fell asleep on the couch while Cort watched Tivo-ed episodes of Whale Wars.

Today I woke up somewhat refreshed.

Cort bought me a Groupon to get a shellac mani/pedi so I cashed that in, treated myself to a venti frappacino at Starbucks, and did a little shopping at Target.

I still don’t think it’s sunk in yet that I am done with work for a few months.

And it’s hard to enjoy because my district faces a pantload of cuts again due to decisions made in Lansing, but we won’t know until the end of June who is getting pink slipped.

And it could be August before I see a teaching assignment or schedule.

Of course the snide comments about how easy my job is because I get 2.5 months off each summer have already started.

It’s hard to come off one of the most difficult teaching years of my career and get slapped with a “pfft.  I wish I got more than two months off every year.  must be nice!”

It is nice, yes.

And if I had to teach year ’round?  I would consider another job.

And if you want your summers off too?  They DO still have teaching certificates available.  You could go to school for the rest of your life and pay $175 each time it expires to keep it too.

Go ahead.

I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.

Anyway…what was I talking about?

I don’t even know.

This post is not going anywhere.

But I am off for the summer.  There are haters, but guess what.  I still have the summer off.

Well, until I start that class in two weeks that I have to pay for in order to keep my teaching certificate which expires next year that I have to pay $175 to keep so I can have a job…if there is a job for me.

Yay!  Summer!