Six Ways To Say Thanks

Recently my friend Alison wrote a post about getting back to writing because when she wasn’t writing, something was just…off.

I left a comment about how I have to write too. How it’s like breathing to me.

My friend Trisha calls it “writing it out.”  Whenever my brain is getting clogged with too many FEELINGS she tells me, “write it out, Kate. You know you need to.”

And she is right.

Six years ago (yesterday, July 7, 2007), I started Sluiter Nation.

My intent wasn’t for it to be a place for me to “write it out,” but after being diagnosed with postpartum depression, that is what it became. I didn’t limit my writing to depression and my mental health–although I have made a point to be transparent about those issues.

Having children reshaped my view of this space. This was now my place to tell stories. I tell the stories about raising Eddie and Charlie. I have been telling Cortney and my love story. I have some stories on here (and in draft) of things I remember about growing up.  This space is not just for me…it’s for the future of my family.

This space is my legacy.

I have been here for six years.

My first post was an experiment in how Blogger worked. It was a completely too brief post about our recent trip to Montana. I had placed pictures all wonky in an attempt to learn the program.

I like to think maybe I’ve learned a thing or two in six years’ time.

In six years I have contributed to many, many other blogs. I have started a few other ones of my own…all that I eventually closed down.  But not this space.

Sluiter Nation lives on.

To celebrate, I have six giveaways. One for every year that I have been blogging.

The entries are easy because I’m not being reimbursed for doing these.  People who are awesome just put up awesome prizes just for the funsies of it.  Just to say “hey, we believe in this writing thing you do.  Yay for six years of it.”

Normally on birthdays, the person with the birthday or anniversary gets the gifts. But that is not how I work it here in Sluiter Nation.  No way.

Maybe I would still be here if it wasn’t for all your lovely people reading, but I sure as heck wouldn’t have developed my writing muscles like I have.

So…to say thank you…here are some things you can win if you want to enter:

1. My Joy Design: I met Megan through a mutual friend…um…I have no idea when.  She is local to me and makes unbelievably wonderful products. She makes bags (which I am in the process of ordering/buying from her for my “little” trip to BlogHer), headbands, and so much more. She makes these incredibly cute monsters that are so cuddly.  Both of my boys have one.

You can win one of her essential zip pouch bags and a reversible headband!

myjoycollage

a Rafflecopter giveaway
2. Musashi Design: Matt is one of my college friends. He has been a HUGE supporter of my writing from the time he started reading it. He is also local to me (see a trend here)? Musashi is a Michigan-based sports/skating brand. You can visit the shop here. You can win an XL Rhino T-Shirt (valued at $27.50) 1057285_10201423433887189_1963710612_n a Rafflecopter giveaway 3. Little Love Media: Alison is the dear friend I linked to in the beginning of this post. Little Love Media is a social media consultancy specializing in helping bloggers and small businesses take their blogs ad brands further, by applying sensible branding and social media solutions. Little Love Media is founded by Alison Lee, who has 10 years experience in marketing, spanning public relations, advertising, both traditional and digital, event planning and execution. She has worked for small and large public relations agencies, and the world’s biggest sports brand, Nike. As a personal blogger and freelance writer, Alison has a unique insight into what works for blogs who want to grow. How I got so blessed to have a friend on the complete opposite side of the world (Alison is in Malaysia), I do not know. But the fact that she and I are so “close” is a testament to the power of the past six years of blogging.

You can win a Blog Evaluation Report (valued at $35). This comprehensive report will include an evaluation of your blog design, navigation, layout, pages, and your social media profiles. We will let you know what is working for you, what is not, by looking at your current blog and social media accounts and activity, along with suggestions on changes you will need to take your blog to the next level. These strategies can be applied immediately, as well as over the long-term. The report will be sent to you via email, and you will have a complimentary two-week follow up period, where you are free to ask any questions you have about the report. LLMNew250x250   a Rafflecopter giveaway

4. Lilla Rose: I think Liz has been reading my blog forever.  Seriously. I was so honored when she said she would love to be a part of this celebration today.  That is exactly what today is about…celebrating my readers. Those who have been faithful throughout the years and months…and those who are new. Maybe even new today!

Liz is an Independent Consultant for Lilla Rose. I was excited when she told me this because I was actually gifted a Flexi Clip a year or two ago from another bloggy friend. I LOVE it. It’s so cute and it’s so easy…even for someone like me who has two styles: pony tail or down.

You can win a Flexi Clip of your choice (up to $16 value). Visit her site and look around.  And check out the sizing tips while you’re there too!

flexiclipcollage
a Rafflecopter giveaway
5. R&L Design: Rebekah is another local biz owner. I met her through one of my best friends (Missy, the photographer whose work you see all over this blog). We hit it off because I am a jewelry fiend and she makes some of the most lovely jewelry EVER.  Some of my favorite pieces are ones I bought from her etsy shop. (by the way, she has free shipping right now in the USA. If you go shopping enter SUMMERTIME to get the free shipping. Seriously. Go do that. Her prices are already way reasonable, and then with free shipping? You can’t lose!) You can win her turquoise verdigris infinity necklace (a $15.50 value).

RandL

a Rafflecopter giveaway 6. Starbucks: Ok, I don’t really know anyone who has the power to give you stuff from Starbucks. However, I do have a relationship with their coffee. I would say that Starbucks is definitely a share-holder in the power behind this blog. I have taken many a trip to Starbucks for two reasons: A) I needed to step away from the writing for a bit and B) I needed fuel in the form of a big fat, sugary, caffeinated beverage. You can win a $10 Gift Card to Starbucks from me.

have a cup or two on me. but hands off the oreos, yo.

have a cup or two on me. but hands off the oreos, yo.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
There you go.

Six ways that I can say THANK YOU for the past six years.

How long have you been around these parts? From the beginning? Is today your first day?

I do hope you’ll stick around to find out what the future holds for Sluiter Nation.

I was not compensated for any of these giveaways, in case Big Brother is watching my blog and needs to know that.

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

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

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

they might have had disco, but they didn’t have you, internet.

Long, long ago in the days of my infancy when people were dancing to disco and wearing platform shoes, the only resources women had to help them navigate through this thing called “motherhood” were their own mothers, their {almost exclusively MALE} doctors, and their friends.

I cannot even imagine.

First, my mom and I have had VERY different pregnancies, birth experiences, and postpartum experiences.  She got pregnant quite easily, never had a miscarriage, popped us all out vaginally (and we were all pretty small), and didn’t experience PPD or anxiety.

It’s been hard for her to relate to all the stuff I’ve gone through, although truth be told, she has been one of my biggest supporters regardless of not being able to know exactly what I’m going through.  But when I thought I had Postpartum Depression, I didn’t go to my mom.

Secondly, my OBGYN, while male, has been extremely proactive and helpful with all the pregnancy stuff.  But when I decided I needed to get help for my PPD, I went to my General Practitioner–a woman.  Dr. W is a successful working mom who I just felt would understand what was going on in my head better.  And I was right.  But doctors are hard to get an appointment with, and you can’t just call them up and chat over coffee about how things are going.

Then there were my friends.

I love my friends.  I totally do.

Most of them live quite far away and the couple who are “local” aren’t really so local.  They live a 30-45 minute drive away.  I am not a phone person (yes, that is my own issue, but still).

So when I had questions or issues or just needed to hear that my kid (and my mothering) were normal, I usually just asked Cort.  Because he was there.  And he was honest with his answer: “I don’t know, Kate.”

If that was it?  If there was no other place to go with my questions and concerns and observations?  I don’t know if I would have made it.

The internet saved me.

With Eddie it was “just” facebook.

I hadn’t fallen into the blogosphere yet (even though I had already been blogging for 2 years), and I hadn’t really gotten then hang of the twitter yet.

But when I posted that Eddie was colicky and I was going crazy?  “Friends” from my past who I had not conversed with on facebook before, suddenly popped up.  They had kids, and some even had degrees in the medical field, and they helped me.

They held my hand through the tumultuous first three months.

They reassured me when I said I felt like a bad mom because I let Eddie take  a short nap on his tummy on the floor by me just because I needed quiet.

They gave me a zillion home remedies for colic…and you better believe we tried each and every one of them!

As Eddie grew, this blog grew.  And that means more help from the internet.

When we decided to try for another baby, the internet was there.  You told me your stories, you reassured me, you prayed for us…even though you didn’t know us.

When I announced that Charlie was coming, you cheered us on.

When my placenta decided not to cooperate, you again shared your stories of hope.

And now, as I inch closer and closer to having two sons, you are still there.  All of you with blogs, facebook, twitter, email.

Shoot, just last night when I was frantic about what to do with Eddie and his case of the scoots, I posted to facebook and twitter.  This is what my facebook looked like (I don’t even have ROOM for all the tweets you all shared):

And it kept on going from there…

This sort of thing amazes me.

We have an army in our corner.  And we don’t have to feel alone.

I wonder all the time how women did this mothering thing before the internet.  How did they rally?  How did they fight to survive?

Or didn’t they?

Did they have to sit at home {or at their jobs} and suffer in silence?  Did they ever get help?  Who could they reach out to?

Who celebrated the simple joys and “wins” of motherhood with them?  They couldn’t post to a picture facebook  of their twin infants FINALLY napping at the same time.  They just had to enjoy that victory alone.

Alone.

That is something we never are now that we have the internet.

For all the negativity that is said about moms on computers and constantly checking facebook and twitter and writing blogs, I always respond with, “but the internet saved my life…and my sanity.”

What great things have come to you because of the internet?  Share with me.  Let’s smile today.

the light in the darkness

Admittedly I have been focusing on negative things lately.

I have been tired, sick, and depressed.  When you feel like crap, it’s easy to see crap all around you.

And even though I really wanted to enjoy Monday–my last day home with Eddie–it started out with barfing and being hugely tired.  And then I got the news that my cousin–who has three kids under four and one in her tummy due before mine in March–was in a horrible car accident.

She was driving on a rural road when someone ran a stop sign, causing my cousin to T-bone the other car.  The other driver died and the four passengers were hurt.

My cousin and all three (well, four) of her children only had a couple bumps and bruises.  No one was seriously hurt.

What a blessing!  What a miracle!

That news opened my eyes to the lovely bright spots that I simply wasn’t acknowledging because of how terrible I was feeling.

Two of my teacher friends blessed me with donations to my classroom this past weekend.  TWO!  They each get allowances from their district for their classes, but I do not.  Each took the time to set aside markers, pencil-top erasers, pens, paper, notebooks, and more for my students.

I was speechless!

Speaking of school, I went back to work this week.  No kids yet, but teachers were back for three days.

I wasn’t sure how the week would go, to be honest.  I was excited to get back to work, but the idea of getting up early and having to use my brain all day was nerve-wracking.

But then, on the very first day back, a colleague I greatly admire and respect, walked up to me, gave me the half hug, and said, “how are you this morning?  this hasn’t been an easy summer for you.”

I knew instantly that he had been reading my words here and that he truly cared.

And I was so glad to be back because he was not the only one who expressed concern and/or congratulations to me.

On the home front, Cortney has been taking very, very good care of our home and family.

He has been super supportive and loving and doting and concerned about my eating and my sleeping.

So even though my brain is still projecting darkness on my life?

There have been some huge bright spots.

Thank you to all who have been bearing with me.

The next trimester is within sight.

Let’s hope for more brightness.

**special thanks to Kelli and Tracy for the school supplies, Roy for being a concerned friend, and Cortney for making me laugh and then telling me to just go to bed.
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