converted…sort of

As we pulled up to his mom’s house for our first Thanksgiving as a couple he dropped a bomb on me:

“I should warn you.  We are a family of huggers.”

I just rolled my eyes.

“No, really, Kate.  We hug hello AND goodbye.  My mom will hug you.  My sister and brother will hug you. My grandparents will hug you.  Cousins and uncles and aunts will hug you.  Just be ready for it.”

My hands started to sweat.

I was already worrying about how to hug.

Were they “your arms over, mine under” huggers?  Maybe “you go up left, down right, I’ll go up right, down left” huggers.  Maybe they were one-arm huggers.  Was there a cheek kiss involved?  Was this a quick hug or a hard hug or a bear hug or a pat-pat hug?  How did this work?

I was so unprepared.

And nervous.

People I was just meeting would be in my space…touching me.

Couldn’t we just shake hands?  I was good at that.  I have a great, firm handshake that shows I am likeable, yet confident.  I can do hand shakes.

Hugs?

My family doesn’t hug.

I am not sure why.  We are very close.  My brothers punch my arms or cow bite my legs frequently, but we don’t really hug.

My dad likes to poke at me and pinch me and for as long as I can remember I am always yelling, “daaaaad!  UGG!  Get away!”  And he just laughs and tells me it’s his job.

My mom isn’t a big hugger either.  Oh, my Grandma used to hug our faces off, but my aunts and uncles and cousins just don’t throw the hugs around.

And my friends don’t do a lot of hugging.

My friends from high school are mostly dudes.  Dudes don’t just hug.

My friends from college learned long ago that I am not the touchy-feely kind of friend and either force hugs on me, or give me my space.

My space.

It was about to be invaded as I met a bunch of people for the first time.

“Great.  This should be interesting,” I tell Cort as we got out of the truck and headed for for the front door.

He chuckled. “Relax.  Let it happen.  Hugs are good.”

Right.

Yes.  That first time was awkward.

And then meeting the other side of the family?  Also huggers.  Awkward.

There was a lot of awkward for awhile.

But recently?  I realized that it’s not so awkward anymore.

I’m not going in for the “wrong” kind of hug.

In fact, the other day I found myself going in for the hug and not just hoping one didn’t find it’s way to me.

And it was nice.

Not a big deal.

I am glad because I can’t imagine Eddie telling someone, “my family just doesn’t hug.”

I’d rather he be warning people, “caution:  my family will hug your face off.”

Ok, maybe not that much  hugging.

I do still need  my space after all.

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

I have something SEW cool for you all over on the sponsor page!

It’s the first GIVEAWAY of the Handmade Summer!

And it’s a great one!  Hop on over and enter!

the right wrong

It’s a mistake to think things can’t get worse because they always can.

The day can be normal, and with a quick, routine glance at the computer, life changes.

I had gotten a brief email earlier stating the minimum:  He had been laid off.  Unexpectedly.

Yes, the company was having some financial troubles, but who wasn’t?

Yes, we were expecting there to be layoffs, but not BOTH salesmen–certainly not someone who went from sweeping the floors in the shop to being the go-to guy for inside sales.

We were in shock.

My mind was reeling with questions and worst case scenarios as I drove home in the autumn sunshine.  The day seemed so happy and light, but I was slowly sinking into my catastrophic thinking.

The next day he was supposed to collect his stuff.

And then apply for unemployment.

Unemployment.

The word felt like sour rusty metal in our mouths.

It was for the rest of the country.  Not us.

Family business meant security.

If anyone was going to lose her job, it was me.  Our district had been making cuts left and right, and I had already held one of those pink slips.

Pink paper is heavier than other colors, and the weight of that slip nearly broke him.

My husband is strong.

I watched him hold himself upright with dry eyes at his dad’s funeral just days after having abdominal surgery.

He had held the pieces of me after I broke from two miscarriages.

In that moment, my steadfast partner lost his sparkle.  He was starting to fade.

From that exact moment that he had to look at me, and not just type out the situation to me, he began to lose something.

I suddenly stepped into a role that was unfamiliar to me.

We will be ok, I heard myself saying.

Even though on the inside I had completely lost my shit.

Even though there was a buzzing behind my eyes of worry and anxiety.

Everything will be fine, babe.  Really.

Sometimes you just say things and hope they are true.

For seventeen months we were blinded by budgets and money scrapping and never saying no to extra opportunities.

And the whole time Eddie was given the gift of a stay at home parent.

He was given his daddy.

It’s a mistake to think that everything is wrong.

Because sometimes the most important things are very, very right.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

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

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.

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

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.

3010

It was always hot.

I was the only one who thought so.  Everyone who walked in was delighted by the coolness compared to the triple digit temperatures outside.

But I was always sweating.

They even gave me a fan, but that just made me shiver from the sweat that dried on my exhausted body.

The room was more spacious than anyone expected.  We quite easily fit five members of my side of the family along with three of Cort’s in addition to the three of us.

And it still felt big.

But maybe that is because I suddenly felt small.

Even with the throngs of people coming in and out?  I felt that we were shielded somehow.

This was a room for miracles.

(Even if my miracle happened downstairs in a different room.)

I had everything I needed contained in this one room:

A Styrofoam cup full of ice water.

Sleeping pills.

My meals delivered.

My laptop and my phone.

A private bathroom with a much used grab bar.

A doting husband.

A happy baby (yes, I said happy).

In this room…

I slept better and harder than I ever have in my life.

I sniffed my baby’s head for the first time.

I sweated, and pushed, and cried, and shed all inhibitions in exchange for feeling better and having a healthy child.

I trusted completely.

I healed.

This room took care of our needs and made it ok for us to be partitioned and sheltered from the rest of the world.

Life was out there…moving and growing…but in here?  In this room?  Time stood still.

We were a small family:  a mom in her adjustable bed, a dad resting on a small couch, and a son swaddled and asleep on his father’s chest.  In the dark room we watched the Detroit Tigers sweep the Cubs.

We witnessed the departure of the King of Pop.

We absorbed the fall of an Angel.

We marked the exit of a treasured Announcer…all while being disconnected from the world…as a family.

We felt safe and untouchable here.

That is why, as I stood at the window in the first real clothes that I could squeeze into in days with my baby in his first real clothes of his life, I cried.

As my husband took our bags to the truck and prepared to usher his family…not just his wife…to their home, I wept.

This room was were our family had begun.

This was all my son knew of the world.  He was safe. I was safe.

Nothing touched us here.

And so much would once we left room 3010.

psst.  I am over at my friend, Natalie’s blog, Mommy of a Monster and Twins, today too sharing about a Monster Mommy Moment of mine.  Please tell me you can relate to this…it will make me feel so much better!

pssst again…I am trying to win a grant to fund my trip to BlogHer.  If you are on facebook, please click here to vote every day!

that was my mind being blown

In the words of our good friend, Quincy (of Little Einsteins fame):

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!

Let me back up.

I have been having a no good, very bad week.

My depression was taking over at the beginning of the week.  I combated it by writing about it, getting lots of love from you all, and then getting over myself by doing something for someone else.

Then I got the bad news that my cat was not doing well.  He has been diagnosed with kidney failure.  I can’t blog about that right now, but he is almost 17 and I have had him for more than half my life.

I just had a cloud over my head.

When that happens…clouds and falling into depression holes?  I start to doubt myself.  BIG TIME.

I start wondering if what I am doing here in this little corner of the blogasphere is just a bunch of whining.

And then…it was like the heaven’s opened and angels sang.

There, sitting in my inbox was an email from BlogHer telling me they would like to syndicate one of my posts.

I know you all tell me I’m good.

Cort tells me I am a lovely writer.

My MOM tells me she loves my writing.

But according to Cort, I do NOT give myself enough credit.

So yes, I was still shocked.

They are syndicating “She Taught Him to Dance” today.

It would mean so much to me if you would jog over there and sparkle my world…and drop me a line.

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

WAIT!  if this wasn’t enough to leave me with a dumb, goofy smile on my face for a week?  BlogHer randomly emailed me yesterday after my post for The Red Dress Club was put up and asked if they could use it tomorrow for Valentine’s Day.

People?  I almost fell out of my chair.

Don’t worry.  I will remind you again tomorrow.  But people?  From what I have heard?  BlogHer doesn’t just FIND you and ask for your posts.

I may have peed a little bit. (do you hear that Rita and Melissa?  You made me pee!)

Ahem.

Today I also wanted to let you in on a little change in operations here at Sluiter Nation.

Starting tomorrow I will no longer be participating in McFatty Mondays.

I just don’t feel like it’s my thing.  If you love it, please, PLEASE go read Blair and Miranda.  They are awesome and honest and so good at writing about it.

That doesn’t mean I am quitting my goal to lose the weight.  I am still participating in Healthy Train, and I am still striving to make better choices.  I am just not going to commit a whole day of blogging to it.

Instead Mondays are going to be my day to put up my post for The Red Dress Club Memoir prompt.  The link up is on Tuesdays, but I want to continue Top Ten Tuesdays because it’s just fun…at least for me it is.

Speaking of Top Ten Tuesdays…this week is my Top Ten Wears.  Yes, I have pictures of my most worn things in my closet.  Look out.

So to recap:

I’m at BlogHer today.

I’m at BlogHer tomorrow.

I have fallen off my chair.

No more McFatty.

Doing Memoirs.

Top Ten Tuesday = stuff I wear.

Whew.

And So…

you know that dream where you are chased, but your legs feel thick and won’t move?

or how about the one where you need to scream because either you or someone else is in danger, but nothing but some forced air comes out?

what about the one where you forgot something, lost something, need something and it is nowhere…impossible to grasp?

I have these dreams all the time.

But worse?  I feel like this during my days.  During my waking moments.

I didn’t know how to talk about this.  I just didn’t know what to say.

But it’s been on my heart.   So I wanted to write about it.

It has been “right behind my eyes” as my friend, Adrienne, would say.  So I HAD to write about it.

But I have been struggling.  Then I read this by my wonderful friend, Nichole.  She describes this feeling as “trying to hold tightly to water.”  YES.

And I read this, by Tiffany.  She describes the overwhelming anxiety of what “could” happen as time passes.  YES.

These posts that these women have written are the tip of the iceberg for me.

I toss and turn at night with feelings and images of me not keeping up.

During the day I grasp at time.  I try to halt it.

Where is the time going?  It’s such a cliche question, but it is one that plagues me.

Time takes things and people away.

I am told that time heals all wounds, but I don’t believe it.

I have wounds that are far from healed.

Time?  Is a thief.  Time steals people from me.

Time took my father-in-law.  It took my grandmother.  It is taking my grandpa.

Time is taking my baby and all his cuddles and giggles.

It will take my parents and my husband some day.

Time is taking my friends.  While I struggle to keep all things around me in orbit, my friends have slowly moved away.  They are still with each other, but apart from me.

I am angry at them.  But really it’s my own fault.  But I am tired of everything being “my own fault”.

My overworked self.  My fault.

Not spending enough time with Eddie.  My fault.

Not being the wife I could be in SO many areas.  My fault.

Not having time to respond to emails or comments or people I love.  My fault.

Everything is from choices I made.

I am struggling to hold water.  Water that I chose to try to grasp.

Everything is slipping away from me because you can’t hold water unless you have a vessel.  And I am not sure if I ever had a vessel.

Sounds like the ramblings of a crazy woman?  Yeah, I think so too.

But here is the catch.  I understand that everyone goes through this.  I have a logically sound mind that gets all that.  But I can’t help not FEELING the logic.

I know the logic.  I can’t feel the logic.

This is where I feel my therapy sometimes fails me.  I can nod along and understand that I need to say no to things, I need to realize everyone goes through this, and I need to not worry about things I can’t control.  I get it and feel ok about it while I am sitting there in that chair.

But the very next day?  The fear and terror and dreamlike feelings come flooding back.

The feeling that everything is on the precipice of falling apart.

The want to hold my little boy tightly in this minute–suspended forever in time.

The closeness of being young and healthy with my husband–never changing.

Because of this overwhelming anxiety, I am in a constant state of annoyed.  I isolate myself from everything.  It’s not fair to my colleagues or my students.  It’s not fair to my friends.  It’s not fair to my family.  It’s not fair to me.

I KNOW THIS.

So how do I overcome it?  What do I do?

The anxiety was there before the postpartum depression, but it has gotten worse.

I don’t just worry about deadlines and failing students anymore.

I worry about death.  I worry about the time slipping away.  I worry about something happening to someone I love.

Because as I get older?  All that stuff becomes much more plausible and real.

I have lost people.  It happens.  And as we get older it happens more.

I don’t want it to, though.  I don’t feel like I can handle it.

And so I am anxious.

And so I get depressed.

And so…

Do I hit publish on this?  If you are reading this, I guess I did.

Please don’t forget about all the discounts that are available on my Top Ten post from this week. Since I am hitting publish on this train wreck of a post, I may as well remind you that the ladies who are offering the discounts are super awesome and are a great source for holiday shopping!  And the discounts?  Won’t last forever!  They expire next week!  So go support handmade goods!

Changes Amongst Traditions

Lately all of my posts have been about school.  I realize that.  Part of that is because it’s been my Back to School Bonanza (which has only one week left).  The other reason for that is because it is something that is consuming my time lately.

One of the major event that takes up a boatload of my time right off the bat with each new school year is homecoming.

Lucky for me, I am not in charge of ALL of homecoming, but I am in charge of the seniors (choosing the 10 on the court and the master and mistress of ceremony as well as getting convertibles and organizing them for the homecoming parade/game, AND doing the final vote for king and queen), getting all court members lined up and ready to go for the parade, and running homecoming halftime.

It means a lot of little details, phone calls, planning.

And this year?  This year I signed on to do a surprise staff drumline performance during the homecoming pep assembly.

See?  There I am with the base drum!  I am all smiley instead of actually concentrating on the cadence we learned.

I did sort of know what I was doing.  And it was for sure fun because the kids were surprised and totally amazed that we were out there!

As you can see?  The teachers had a wee bit of fun.  Good thing we had a few actual drummers from the band to help us out…we may have been playing more than we were actually playing.

Once school was over, it was time to think about the homecoming parade.  Instead of going home, I loaded my car with homecoming crowns and scepters and capes and scripts and tape and many other random things we may need and headed over to the park where the parade was lining up.

Even though it had been a million degrees sort of hot all week, by parade time the weather had cooled and I actually put on my hoodie.  Even though I complain, I really do love seeing all the school spirit.  There is just something about fall weather and excitement for high school sports that makes me smile.

There go my seniors!  Bringing up the end of the parade (in the corvettes I landed thanks to the Grand Valley Corvette Club!  WOOT to them being AWESOME!).  One last thing to do…head to the stadium and get ready for halftime!

Getting into the stadium and to my spot on the track can be tricky.  Good thing I have a reserved parking spot right near the entrance.

And of course, just like last year, Cortney and Eddie came out for the first half of the game.  This year thought?  Instead of just being a small, squishy baby who just laid in his carrier?  Eddie wanted to get out and RUN!

This year, like last year, Cort and Eddie left just before halftime since the wee one needed to get to bed.  I left as soon as half time was over since I had been at school since 7am and I was whipped.

On my drive home, I thought about how much had changed even though at the same time?  It hadn’t at all.

I have been senior class adviser for going on 5 years now.  This is my first year doing it solo (my co-adviser was moved to a different building).  I was proud of myself for pulling it off (although I am equally happy that Marcia showed up and helped me hand out the flowers to the court).

Even though all of the five homecomings followed the exact same traditions? It seems like there is always something slightly different.

Three years ago there was a new principal.

Also three years ago, I got home from the game and found out I was pregnant.

Last year I had a baby.

This year I was alone in the prep work and execution.

During all the hullabaloo of the planning, part of me wanted this to be my last year.  It was a lot of hard work.

But at the same time, the relieved feeling when it’s over, the excitement on the kids’ faces, the fun of seeing how my life changes even though the traditions remain the same…

all those things sort of make it worth it.

If graduation goes this well, I will probably be back for homecoming ’11 next year.  If not, we’ll just be in the stands.

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