Super Sunday

I found this idea from my very great friend Miranda of Not Super…Just Mom.  She decided that we needed to find at least ONE day in the week that we claim as a GOOD DAY.

I clearly need one of those, you guys.

So, I am declaring today Super Sunday.

Let me tell you why…

1. Tomorrow and Tuesday?  Are my only work days this coming week.  Hooray for a five-day weekend!

2. As I type this post?  Some of my best friends in the whole world who I haven’t seen in a LONG time are relaxing at their parents’ house only about a mile from my house.  Later this week?  We will be spending lots of time with them.

3. My son likes broccoli

4. Cort made cinnamon rolls and picked up Starbucks this morning.

5. Eddie’s giggles are contagious

6. Thanksgiving is this week.  That means turkey.

7. The pumpkin chocolate chip muffins I made from this recipe?  are a total hit.

8. Friday is black Friday shopping with my mom.  A totally fun tradition.

9. Friday night my mom has agreed to babysit so Cort and I can gather with our best friends from all over the country and catch up.  We haven’t all been together like this in over a year…maybe two.

10. there will be lots of wine this week.

And today?  Today I don’t have to leave the house…or my jammies for that matter.  That in and of itself is pretty darn super.

So despite whatever other stresses are going on, I am determined to focus on the positive today and take advantage of this lazy day.

I will ignore the crud under Eddie’s high chair, the crumbs on the floor, the dust on every surface, and the toys that have taken over my living room.

I may even ignore the quizzes I was going to grade.

Because I need time to just be.

Plus?  I might even shave my legs today in a long shower.  Maybe.

Not Super...Just Mom

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Don’t forget to check out my scentsy party going on now through Tuesday!  All purchases get put in a drawing for a FREE plug-in warmer!  That is a $15 value and perfect for a bathroom!

And don’t forget to link up here on Tuesday for Top Ten Tuesdays!  This week’s list?  What is on your child(ren)’s Christmas lists?

A Tale of Two Weddings

I think it’s pretty easy to get sort of jaded by the sheer number of weddings we go to at this point in our lives.

I mean, I have been a bridesmaid seven times now.  I’ve been the personal attendant a handful of times, and the mistress of ceremonies once.  I’ve been a matron of honor and a flower girl.

Most of my friends are now all married.

Lots of my family members are married.

Before my own wedding, going to other people’s weddings was a time to take notes.  I was too busy focusing on flowers and colors and bridemaid dresses and favors to really get into what weddings actually mean.

But in the past three months, two of my cousins got married.  And both weddings caused me to pause and think.

In July, my cousin, Jeff married Cris.  Jeff is older than most grooms.  Cris already has teenagers from a previous marriage.  This wedding touched my heart for a number of reasons.

Jeff used to babysit me.  I can still remember him coming over to our house as a teenager.  He was so cool with his pretty girlfriends and his rock music.

And then he just kept on not getting married.  We all love Jeff very much and wanted to see him happy.  I kept insisting that if not getting married was making him happy, then so be it.

But then there was Cris.  She came into his life, they live together, and they are married now.

Jeff is a husband and a stepdad.  And it is awesome.

So we got excited about it!  The wedding was beautiful, but the reception?  Was a celebration!

My family really knows how to come together and celebrate!  We do NOT hold back!

And this past weekend, we had another cousin get married.

My cousin Kelli is just a youngster.  She and Joe have the same story many of us have.  Meet, fall in love, have a romantic proposal, a year-or so-long engagement, and a gorgeous traditional wedding.

During the ceremony, I glanced down at both of my brothers.  They are both very much in love.  One happily married and the other happily almost married with a little boy.  Between my little cousin who I used to babysit getting married, and both of my brothers all happy in love, my heart was about bursting.

We again were celebrating.  This young couple at the very start of their life together.  It was beautiful and fun.

I absolutely love my family more than I even know how to say.  I love that we all support and love each other this much.  My cousins are like my siblings.  My siblings are like…well…even closer siblings.  We all grew up together, have countless stories and memories together, and are now becoming adults together.

When more love comes into the family through marriage and children?  We are always there for each other.

And this hit me like a ton of bricks right out on the dance floor Saturday night.

I love LOVE.

I. Me.  The super jaded girl has turned all mooshy.  I used to be sure love was just “settling down with someone for the rest of your life.”

But looking at both of these couples?  I realize how great it is to have someone by your side.  Not just through the fun celebrations (like the wedding), but through the hard stuff.

I watched Kelli and Joe goof around and enjoy their night.  Cort and I remembered fondly about our night.

And in my head I thought, “what I didn’t know then…”

But I didn’t finish the thought.

Because it wouldn’t have mattered.  I needed Cort.  And I still do.

And I am so happy that Jeff and Cris, and Kelli and Joe have each other to lean on to keep from falling…

both from laughter and from weakness and from tears and from exhaustion.

It’s good to need someone.

And it’s good to be needed.

And loved.

He’s HOW Old?

My little brother turned 30 on Thursday. 

It’s still weird to me to think of my brothers as adults.  It’s even weirder than thinking of myself as an adult.

My little brother, Chris–the middle child–was my first playmate.

We are 2 and a half years apart.

He was the daddy when we played house.

He was my student when we played school.

He was the customer when we played bank/post office/grocery store/etc.

And now he’s 30.

His girlfriend, Sarah (who is also the mother of his little boy and who he has just recently gotten back together with after a six year hiatus…but that is another post), wanted to throw him a surprise party.  So she emailed me.

I didn’t even hesitate!  YES!  My little brother should have a great party!  He has been through a lot in his 30 years and he is finally happy…and yes, there should be a party for that.

We got my mom and sister-in-law, Ashley involved and turned my parents’ garage into party central.  My brother, Mike, Ashley, and I put up the decorations in the garage.  My dad blew up a bunch of balloons with the air compressor.

Then a bunch of Chris and Sarah’s friends and family came over.  And we waited….

He was expecting a small dinner get together with Sarah’s parents and our parents and my little family.  But what he walked into was everyone!  He was pretty shocked.

Chris is not a fan of being the center of attention.  He doesn’t really like surprises.  But I think he was happy with this one–once the shock wore off, of course.

My mom ordered him a Dairy Queen ice cream cake…his favorite.  He was a little annoyed that we all were going to sing to him–putting him at the center of attention yet again, but we did it anyway.

And yes, we put 30 candles on that cake!  Jack helped his daddy blow them out as Sarah watched.  It was so great.

Everyone enjoyed each other’s company, the yummy food and cake, and most of all, Chris and Sarah and Jack being together as a family again.

This day made me emotional and happy for so many reasons.  My little brother who I have always fiercely protected is a thirty-year old man, but also?  He has his family.  I know our family and Sarah’s family have been praying for this for six years.  And now it’s coming to fruition.

So I say happy birthday, little brother.  And happy family.  We love you guys very, very much!

He is My Boy

First?  Because Ann didn’t get back to me within 48 hours of being announced the winner (and I couldn’t find an email address for her), I drew a NEW winner of the Gussy Giveaway…PINKFLIPFLOPS!  You are the new winner!  Email me at ksluiter (at) hotmail (dot) com and I will get you hooked up!

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Yesterday was a glorious day.  It was the kind of day we live in Michigan for.  It was a boating/beach day.

We frolicked in the big waves, soaked up the warm sun, and played on the sandy beach.  We had fun.

We were on the beach for a good four hours before riding back to the marina.  It was a rolly, wavy, day, but we loved it.
 
We all returned home wind blown, a little sandy, and very much exhausted.  But very happy.  And very grateful to friends who are like our family.
As expected, after his bath, Eddie was WAY tired after missing his nap–save for a snooze on the boat out to the beach and back from the beach.  So I rocked him and he was out by 8:00pm.
I popped some popcorn and Cortney and I settled in with our computers and the History channel and some water to re-hydrate us from the big day.  All was well.
Until 10:00pm.  It started as just a small whimper.  Usually if we hear a little moan or whimper it just means he’s rolling over and we don’t hear another peep.
This time the whimper turned into long, sad moans.  I looked up at Cort and said that I would go see what the deal was.  I figured he lost his pipey in all his blankies and lovies and just needed it back and maybe also a little pat on the back.
When I walked into his semi-dark room I saw him lying on his back just wailing.  He was frantic.  He was afraid. And his eyes were still closed.
Bad dream?  Night terror?  It’s hard to tell when they are this small and can’t tell you.  So I picked him up and tried to give him his pipey and rock him.
He screamed.  Terrified wailing screams.
He was shaking.  He was gasping for air.  He was TERRIFIED.
So I brought him out of his room into the living room where the lights and TV were on.  I tried to hand him to Cortney, but he screamed harder.  He reached for me.  He shook because he couldn’t catch his breath.
I took him up in my arms and he put his head down and stopped crying.  He was still shaking and gasping for breath, but he wasn’t crying.
I thought maybe he could be rocked.  We went back into his room and rocked back and forth, back and forth.  He quieted.  His eyes closed.  He clung to his blankie.
I gently set him back in his bed.  As I was walking back down the hall?  He started screaming again.
Cortney tried this time.  Eddie bawled while Cort rocked him.  He screamed when Cort tried to lay him down.  He bellowed as Cort brought him back out into the living room.
And then he saw me.  And reached frantically for me.
I took my little boy. And he quieted.  And snuggled down. We hunkered down in my chair together until he fell asleep.  Then I took him to his room and rocked for a little while.
He woke up one more time, but Cort was able to sooth him back to sleep for the night.
But you guys?  In that terror?  He wanted ME.  He clung to ME.  
Most days he doesn’t care which parent has him.  He has even had times where he has preferred Cort.  But for the first time?  He only wanted ME.
Although I had visions of the night being LOONNGG if he didn’t stay sleeping and wouldn’t let Cortney console him?  something in me smiled that my little boy wanted his mommy when he was scared.
It settled something deep inside me that he could only feel safe enough to close his eyes if he was near me.  It made the momma in me sing.
This is what I longed for all summer.  It is the connection I had hoped to foster with my little boy.  It was the one goal on the To Do list that really mattered.
And after last night?  I can indubidably say that that goal?  Has been checked off the list…and I am quite enjoying it.
And my little boy?
He is MY little boy.  And I?  Am HIS momma.  We have a bond.  And it is strong. Indubitably strong.
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Potter Picnic 2010

This past weekend was the annual Potter Picnic–Cort’s mom’s side of the family.  There are five siblings in my mom-in-law’s family and each of the five sibling families wore a different color T-shirt.  Ours?  Yellow!

The Potter Picnic is fun, but it is SERIOUS fun! It is NOT your mediocre, run-of the mill family reunion.  OH NO…

It all starts out with games…tournament style…where you get to compete for prizes.  There is something for EVERYONE.

Badminton
Ladder Ball (or as we Sluiters call it, Hilly Billy Golf)
Cornhole (yes, that is the real name of this game.  what can I say?  we are classy)
more corn hole…just because we all needed one more giggle at the name.
Volleyball
Horse shoes
Yes, there were even written quizzes.  The Potter family?  They take competition seriously.
and you can’t leave until you guess how many m&ms or what the three objects in the coffee can are.
And you KNEW there was a score board, right?
And Grandpa and Grandma Potter?  They supervised and enjoyed watching us run amok.
And the littlest Potter also did some supervising.  Oh hey, Miles!
The trophies:  which totally went to the Red Shirts (Keith Potter family) AGAIN this year.  I think they have everyone by sheer numbers in their family!
Debate over the scoreboard.
Did I mention it’s serious business?  Because it SO is.
Even Eddie found it fun to run around the playing fields (yes, there are even regulation lines chalked in.  SERIOUS, people.)
The yellow team?  We did not do so well.
But Cody totally represented by qualifying to climb the rope!  And he did it with speed AND agility!  We were so proud!
We all watched the climbers.  They were pretty amazing.  And?  I am glad I didn’t have to try because I am fairly sure I would have hurt myself in more than one way.
The yellow team in their glory…with G&G Potter
The entire Potter Picnic.  We are so dang lucky to have this much love in just ONE of side of the family!
Such a fun day…even if we had to leave before dinner because Eddie was LOSING it from lack of nap.
And I think?  Grandpa and Grandma had a pretty happy day too!

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Welcome Home

So yesterday, I was reading Nicole’s blog, In These Small Moments, and she had Kris from Pretty All True guest posting.  Kris wrote about how as a child she never really wanted to go home, but now, as an adult with a family of her own, it’s always great to go home (you should go read her post.  My summery is suck-o compared to her beautiful prose).  It got me thinking about how much I love our home.  So I thought I would take you on a tour of my home one room at a time.  Sort of a series every now and then.

 Today, I figured I would start where few people start their home tours.  With our bedroom. Now don’t be scared.  We are coming in through the bathroom door and the first thing you see is our laundry.  It’s early in the week, so the pile is still small.

Ahh…there is the rest of the room!  When I was a kid, my bedroom was MY place.  I spent a ton of time there.  I read, listened to music, read, played with my toys, read, talked on the phone to boys, read, talked on the phone with my friends, read, did homework, read, and slept there. It was where I could go to be alone.

I wanted to create that happy, comfy feeling here when Cort and I bought this house.  Everyone thought I was nuts painting the walls such a dark blue, but I needed it to be warm and dark at night.  At the same time, I wanted it to be bright and cheery during the day, so we got light wood furniture, white trim, and bright primary colored accents. The room isn’t big, but it’s comfy and cheery–even when I’m home sick in bed.

Our bedroom has also become a gallery of pictures.  We have had what feels like a kazillion photo shoots in the past year or so (Thank you, Missy!!!), and I can’t ever take old pictures down, so I just keep adding. So what used to be our nice, clean vanity, has turned into a showcase of family photos.

I love to have images around me that make me happy.  Next to our bed we have our engagement picture (taken in 2004) our wedding invitation, our wedding picture (taken in 2005), and our most recent picture of Eddie (taken in 2010 on the bridge where Cortney proposed to me in 2004).

Many times when I was battling anxiety and depression I would come home from work, drop my stuff, and go straight to bed.  Sometimes with my coat and shoes still on.  Lying in our comfy bed staring at the walls was all I had the energy to do.  And these were the things I needed to be around me:  photographs.  Cort and I together.  Eddie.  A note from my BFF reminding me of all the great times we’ve had.  This is my nightstand.

But of course the room is not just mine–although I think I seek it’s refuge more than Cort does.  But Cort does have space here too.  He has his stacks of hats and tech-geek stuff.  He has his drawers with socks and undies too.  And he has his Eddie on his nightstand reminding him that he IS the #1 dad!

This room is ours.  We both lived in our own bedrooms for many, many years and have only shared this one for five years.  But it is the place where we have our most serious discussions.  It’s where I have laughed harder than I have anywhere else in my life.  We have cried over lost loved ones and lost opportunities here.  This place?  It is our place.

Hope Sinks, but Never Drowns

HOPE is when YOU believe what you want is attainable.

Seven years ago I was without hope.  And for what feels like a stupid reason now.  I don’t want to go into it too much because I don’t want to give it anymore thought, but I put most of my future hope in a guy.  Dumb.  Anyway, when he broke my heart after five years, I thought it was the end.  I was 25; I was back home in my small town after graduation college; I didn’t have a job; and I didn’t have many friends that lived near me anymore.  I didn’t know how to meet anyone new–I had spent all my “meet new people” years dating one guy.

Instead of seeing that now I was free to travel or do whatever I wanted with no ties, I was blinded by failure.  I spent days, weeks, months wallowing in my little house with my cat and Captain Morgan.

I wanted a teaching job that I could love.

I wanted a guy who would make me smile.

I wanted a family and a nice little house.

None of these things seemed attainable.  I thought I had completely failed. I had lost hope entirely. I had lost faith in myself as well as in the world around me.

But there were two people in my life who were determined NOT to let me drown my sorrows and myself over something like a guy.  They would NOT let my life fall apart.  They saw who I was before him and knew that that girl was still in there somewhere.

Those two people were my best friend, Tonya, and my husband, Cortney.

I know I have posted this picture before, but it’s my absolute favorite.  These two have stuck with me as I have swum in the depths of depression more times than I can count.  They are always my hope.

In fact, after that summer seven years ago, Cortney stuck by me as more than my friend.  We fell in love, and were married.  Tonya was there.  She cried and couldn’t finish her matron of honor speech.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen her break down.

It’s easy for me to sink into sadness and despair.  When bad happens to my Hope Team, I get swept up in it almost as much as they do.  I thought our world was over when Tonya was diagnosed with diabetes.  I took Cort’s pain into my heart when his dad died.  It’s hard for me to see the people who have been my strongest support have bad things happen.

But somehow, through their valleys and through my dark paths, they have kept that faith that all we want in life can happen.  I am beyond amazed at their strength every day, but even more they keep proving my doubt wrong.

I have a teaching job that I love.

I have a guy that makes me smile (every day!).

I have a family and a nice little house.

They are there with words of hope and positivity every time I start to doubt.  When feeling my worst, Tonya will text me that I am beautiful and that she loves me.  When I am just having a hard day and the anxiety is taking over, Cortney will hold my hand before bed and tell me he loves me.

And you know what?  Because of their love and strength, I am able to dig way down and find the fighter in me.  I can find the hope that suck way down to a place so deep I thought it would drown completely and take me with it.

When I don’t believe that we will make it financially , or that I will keep a job, or that we will be able to have more kids, or even that I will be able to wear a bikini again, Tonya and Cort prove me wrong.

They help ME to believe that the things I want ARE attainable.  They help me to have HOPE.

The Perfect Weekend

The fourth of July has always been sort of special us. Since finishing college, all of mine and Cort’s mutual friends from high school (and college) moved away around the country.  One of the only times of the year that we get to see some of them is The Fourth when they all come back to West Michigan.  This year was no different.

Although we missed some people (um, Phil and Liz?  that would be you.  Oh, and you and your no-car-lifestyle, Harbottles), we still managed (somehow) to enjoy ourselves. In fact, while getting settled in on the beach, we ran into our friend Emily, otherwise known to you bloggy friends as DesignHERmomma.  Small world.  Small “Great” Lake.

As I have blogged numerous times before, my friends’ aunt lives ON Lake Michigan.  We have been coming to this beach since high school.

Although throughout our college years, there were beer cans littering the beach, not sand toys.

Last year, Eddie was only eleven days old when we came out to see everyone, and we didn’t make it down to the beach (I couldn’t go down all those stairs.  something about an abdominal incision healing.  whatever.).

This year we were excited to see one of my BFF’s, Erin and her cowboy husband, Brad who live in Montana.  Cort’s BFF, Mat, was also in town from Colorado.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday on the beach.  Eddie helped Owen bury Mat in the sand.

And Cort took Eddie swimming.  We stopped at Meijer on the way out and picked up a $3 swimboat thing.  We weren’t sure how Eddie would do with the 1-3 foot waves, but he loved it!

The boys did a LOT of swimming.  The water was nearly 70 degrees and it felt great since it was nearly 90 degrees out! 
 
 
 A LOT of burying went on.  Mat, then Owen, then Cort.  We even buried Eddie’s legs, but he really wasn’t a fan.  I don’t blame him.  I get claustrophobic when that happens too.
After hours of playing on the beach and socializing with old friends, we had to pack up all of our gear and head over to the marina because, my friends, it was time for Slippery’s Pig Roast!
Cort’s dad (known as Slippery to many) spent quite a few years helping roast a pig every July.  We make an effort to get out there for the pig roast every year because it’s a really great fundraiser for the Yacht Club and Cort’s dad always loved it.  MacKenzie and Dave were there as well as Grandpa and Grandma Sluiter.  It was great to catch up and enjoy and event that was so dear to my father-in-law.
Of course the last event of the night was the fireworks over the lake.  Each year the Swanbergs and Visels are kind enough to invite our little family along.  Last year we had to pass since Eddie was so new and fresh and it would have just been too late for us.
But not this year!  This year we slapped Eddie’s life jacket on (which he is not really a fan of…I don’t know why.  Maybe because he becomes like a turtle stuck on its back when he’s in it), and we boarded The Crystal Lee IV for a putz out to Kollen Park for some fireworks
 Even though Eddie missed his afternoon nap and played in the sun and surf and was EXTREMELY tired, he was still in pretty good spirits for the boat ride.
 Although he got VERY sleepy.  Jake stroked his head and hugged him and told him he could just take a nap.  It was so very sweet.

Look how tired my little guy is!  Poor buddy!  Just can’t give in to sleep when there is a party of fun going on!

When we got out to Kollen Park, we anchored and waited for the sun to go down so the show could start.  Cort cuddled Eddie as best as he could with that unwieldy life jacket in the way.

Eddie had a pretty good time watching the other boats and the random, uh, illegal fireworks that were going off preshow.  But once the real deal started, he really didn’t care.  He was tired.  So Cort laid him on his side and he just drifted off to sleep when….the show ended and all the boats started sounding their horns.  This apparently is uncool to someone trying to sleep.

It didn’t take him long though, to drift back to sleep for good on our way back in to the marina.  He slept like a little rock all night.

So that today?  He could do it again!  That is right!  Today was Beach Day The Second:

Again we packed up all our gear and headed out to Lake Michigan. This time it wasn’t just us kid-havin’ folks down at the beach…

Even “The Cowboy” shed his Wranglers for mesh shorts and traded in his Stetson for a ball cap.  There were kids and dogs and people galore cooling off from the mid-ninety degree temps.

Eddie wants you to know this has been his best Fourth of July yet.  He seriously played for another two hours on that beach today.  He played with Owen again, and watched the dogs and the people.  He ate dug in the sand and went swimming.  In fact, when we carried him back up to leave, his little piggies were so shriveled they looked like little raisins.

 On the drive home today I realized just how lucky we are.  We know people with lakefront property.  We know people with a boat.  AND we LOVE all those people and they love us back.  Because of them, we spent the whole weekend celebrating our country’s independence while out on the water.  The weather cooperated.  The water temperatures were perfect.  I would not change a thing about this weekend.  It was perfect. 
Absolutely perfect.

Wordless Wednesday

Nap time is so sweet for so many reasons.

I linked up my Wordless Wednesday with:

and

New Address: The Beach

Jack and I ventured out to Lake Michigan for another day in the sun! He is so much fun! It’s been so long since I actually went swimming and built sandcastles. I forgot why I ever thought it was a big deal to get wet and sandy…until I got home and took a look in the mirror. Yikes!
As you can see, Jack likes to be burried in the sand. He also LOVES the water – but not the seaweed. I told him it was like grass. He looked at it and said, “like grass. carry me.” Well, that was that. So I had to carry him “through the grass” whenever he wanted to play in the water – which was frequently.
The kid is genius for being two, but he still hasn’t quite figured out that when I tell him to rinse his hands in the lake so he can eat a snack, he can’t bury his hands back in it while I open his fruit snacks. Oh well, one step at a time, right? I mean, the kid knows what a pavilion is (“it’s the pavilion, aunt Katie; this is where the potties are. Aunt Katie go potty?” ), so I am not too concerned about a little sand on the hands.
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