teaching isn’t just my job, it’s my job.

Thanks to the makers of Pine-Sol® for sponsoring my writing. A study shows a clean smelling home can help children succeed, so Pine-Sol® is supporting Reading is Fundamental (RIF) this year. Click “Like” on Pine-Sol®’s Facebook page here and they will donate books to RIF!
I don’t remember books not being in my life.

Growing up, the bottom drawer of my dresser was so full of children’s books that the bottom eventually fell out from the weight.

My  mom always had a pile of books on top of the refrigerator from the library, and a few more on the front seat of her car waiting to be swapped out for new ones.

My dad was always reading the newspaper.

We had a set of encyclopedia and a set of childcraft encyclopedia.

Words were my life from early on.  In grade school I lived for scholastic book orders.  In middle school my mom brought me piles of books home from the library.  By high school?  I had decided that I wanted to read–and talk about those books–for the rest of my life.

And so I became an English teacher.

I have worked for over a decade encouraging kids to read…to entice them into becoming life-long readers.

The school I work in is filled with students who didn’t have their own books as kids.  They come to us behind…because they don’t know what it’s like to have books in their life for fun.

Not a couple years ago, after about 90% of one of my classes failed to do a short assigned reading assignment, I polled the class with this question: “How many of you had your own books as kids and were read to all the time.”

One girl raised her hand (she did the assignment, by the way).  I died a little inside.

That same year our school started doing RIF (reading is fundamental), a program that gives students free books.

I was suddenly aware of the gift my parents had given me.

Also that year I found out I was pregnant with my son.

Immediately, I gathered my favorite childhood books and piled them in the room that would be his.

I would sit in the middle of the room and read the books out loud to my dancing fetus.

A year later, I was reading Green Eggs and Ham to a squirmy infant.

Not long after that, we traded the “paper pages” for board books because he wanted to handle them and gnaw on the book clumsily turn the pages himself.

Now, as a 20-month old, he brings me book after book to read.  He points out the letters to me and says some of them.  He points out the kitties and the dogs and the moons and the balloons.

I burst with pride when his little finger points at the pictures as I read the words…as he examines each page before we turn it.

I know this is what my parents did.  And I know it is a large part of why I became a successful student…and teacher….and writer.

It is never ever too early to start reading with your children.  Each time you choose to put down your phone, or step away from your laptop (in my case) to read with your child, you are sending a message about what is important.

Each time your child sees you pick up a book or newspaper instead of watch a reality show?  You are showing your child where your priorities are and what you see as valuable.

Your child…and education are important.  Show this to your child.  Read with him/her.

Don’t forget to click over to Pine-Sol®’s Facebook page to support our children’s success. I was selected for this Pine-Sol® sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Today my post for The Red Dress Club is over at my other blog. Please click below to go there.

I’m a Bloggy Mom!

Today Eddie is at daycare.  Yes, two of us are home this summer and in order to get the house cleaned and get any REAL stuff done around here, we still send Eddie to Miss Amy.  He loves it because he loves Miss Amy and he loves his friends.  They are more fun than we are, apparently.

Anyway, Cort and I will be cleaning and organizing and finding stuff for our BIG garage sale that we are having on August 14 to help bring Eddie’s cousin(s) home from Ethiopia.

I will also be making a lemon cake for a get together tonight.  I am being all kinds of domestic today.

Anyway, while I am all busy, you can go read a post I wrote for a Back to School series on Tiffany’s blog, A Bloggy Mom.  Lots of my twitter friends helped me decide what to write about…and I think they will like the results.  At least I hope so.

So, you go read.  Let me know what you think.  I am going to go get elbow-deep in lemon curd.

Also, please don’t forget that tomorrow night at 6pm EST, the online auction to support my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s adoption goes live here.  There are LOTS of great items to bid on!  You’ll want to check it out!

Fall Has, Well, Fallen

Even though the weather is not so fall-like, there are other ways to tell it’s fall just by checking out what is going on in Sluiter Nation:

1. School has started! Our school schedules are in full swing now! I am starting to get used to having to hear a 5:00 a.m. alarm again, and Cort is getting used to an earlier start as well. I am also finally starting to learn all 120 names of my students! Cort is getting used to the regime of homework for his Tuesday and Wednesday night classes.

2. Bowling has started! Even though Cort has class on Tuesday nights, he still manages to fit in league bowling as well. Last year he talked my brother, Chris into joining his team. This year they somehow talked my other brother, Mike into bowling AND Cortney’s brother, Cody. I guess brothers who bowl together, well…anyway, they bowl together.

3. I found something else to take up my time since I don’t have a Master’s class. Since I don’t have to spend my time sitting in class in Kalamazoo or doing homework, I decided it was time to get into better shape. This has been a pretty long process–as many of you know, I HATE to do anything remotely athletic. My friend, Catye, from work started bringing me with her to they gym once a week this summer to try some of the classes my co-worker, Jenn, teaches. To my surprise, I actually liked it! So, here I am, a member of a gym! Luckily, Trisha is also a member and we work out together three times a week.

4. Football…and more importantly, FANTASY football…has started. This year Cortney is in three leagues and I’m in two. When we aren’t busy with work, the gym, bowling, or homework, we are checking to make sure all of our starters are healthy enough to start in the upcoming games.

Fall is definitely underway here in Sluiter Nation…so you’ll be a bit forgiving when the blogs don’t roll in like they do in the summer!

And We’re Back!

Yesterday was the first day of school! I really wasn’t looking forward to starting school–for one, I hate to see my summer end (I know, I know…most adults don’t get a summer break…but I love mine!), and two, they were predicting Tuesday, September 2 to be the hottest day of the summer. Ugh!

The day pretty much lived up to my low expectations. The kids were not happy to be there, my room was a toasty 98 degrees, and by the last hour of the day, I had to take my heels off because my feet were swollen from the heat.

Today, however, I found my groove! That is why the “back to school” picture above is from today and not yesterday. I was in no mood to smile yesterday!

Today we got down to business in my four English 11 classes and 1 Spanish I class. The kids were in the mood to do some activities and I had a great time learning names and doing grammar!

I also had lots of visits today from last year’s students, which always makes me feel good–plus one brought me homemade, authentic burritos for lunch. Mmmmmm!!!! I guess I didn’t need my lunch pal today…which, by the way, students tell me look like the coolers you transport organ transplants in. very appetizing, huh?

I was not the only one to go back to school yesterday! Cortney had his first day at GRCC yesterday. Doesn’t he look like he is so excited!?!?

Both of the classes he is currently taking are classes he needs for his degree in Computer Information Systems. He reported that his Tuesday night class doesn’t seem too difficult, and he’s hoping his Wednesday night class is a breeze too. I am sure he will do great because he really has a knack for anything that has to do with the computer, and my bet is that he’ll be hanging A’s on the refridgerator at report card time 🙂

Pops Would be Proud

Today is a day full of memories. Today we spend more time than usual reflecting on the good times we had with Cortney’s dad, Steve. Today it’s been three years since he left us. It’s difficult not to be sad when we remember that, but we think Steve would have been proud of us today.

Cortney took the day off work because he had the Fall Resource Fair to go to at GRCC–basically it was a tour and an opportunity to get his books and id. So there he is…books in hand, ready to start his first semester as a Computer Information Systems student! He also got his student id taken today…he is now an official card-carying Racoon Detective! Ok, GRCC calls themselves the Raiders, but they put a cartoon racoon on there, so it’s just funny. Anyway, now he can enjoy the benefits of the “student discount” at places like the movies and the gym! NICE!
I was not left out in all this educational excitement either! While Cort was out getting familiar with his new school, my official paper degree finally came in the mail! Yeah! Now I have a piece of paper that SAYS I am a smarty pants!
See…there’s MY name on that Master of Arts!
We think Steve would have been proud of my accomplishment of earning a Masters and of Cort’s new adventure as a student. It was a great way to celebrate and remember Pops!

Back To School…Phase 1

As many of our faithful readers know, this back to school season is a little different for the Sluiters. In years past, Cort gave me a budget to go get stuff for my classroom and to buy a few things (folder, notebook, etc) for whatever classes I would be taking for grad school. THIS year, though, I am not the one who needs those extra supplies! So, when we got our 15% off bag from Office Max in the mail, Cort and I headed off–TOGETHER–to shop!

Because he is new to GRCC classes, and he hasn’t had his orientation yet (that happens on Thursday), he wasn’t sure what supplies he would need. He did find a few fun things for his cubicle at work though while I found some much-needed supplies for my classroom.
So many things to choose from!
Who knew choosing pens could be so mind-boggling!?!
In the end, our 15% bag was filled to the brim…and only 3 small items belonged to Cortney….yup, that is me loaded down with half the store. And guess what…in a couple weeks, Office Max is having teacher appreciation week….MORE SHOPPING!!!!
Before today, I moaned and groaned a LOT whenever someone would mention how much time I have before I have to be sitting in our unairconditioned school again (2 weeks, for anyone keeping track…students are back in 3 weeks), but after today, I at least have some projects to work on to get my room ready for all the eager students who will be piling through the doors in only 3 short weeks! Stay tuned for more of our back to school preparations…leading up to the big FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!

Graduation Party!

My graduation party today was SOOO fun! Cortney did a wondeful job of setting up and grilling all the burgers and dogs! It was also so great to see so many family members and friends! I had an unexpected burst of emotions as I was looking at all the pictures and reading the cards. It felt so good to have so many people so proud of me and willing to share my happiness and excitement!
We had an absolutely perfect day! Although they called for cool weather and rain, we saw none of that! So enjoy the slide show! Thanks to everyone for coming! Now that I am all done, you can find me either on the beach, or on the back deck/patio reading for FUN 🙂


Today I finally GRADUATED! We flew my new WMU flag in honor of the special day. This day marks the end of quite a journey for me. I graduated from WMU once before–in April of 2001 with my bachelor of arts degree in Secondary Education with an English major and Spanish minor. After that, I took a couple years off to try to find a job. When I still didn’t have a job in January of 2003, I decided to get working on my Master’s degree, again from WMU. In fall of 2003 I got my teaching job at Wyoming Park and have been working full time (while taking on extra curricular stuff here and there) and going to WMU part time. I took off an entire year in 2005 because I was getting married and Cort’s dad was sick. Then I was back at it in the fall of 2006. So after all those years at WMU, I finally have my Masters of Arts in English with a Teaching Emphasis! Phew!
Check out that smile….I was SO ready to grab that tube and run. I got to my seat and opened my tube to see what fun surprise would be inside. I knew my real degree wasn’t in there because grades for the semester I just finished won’t be out until next week. There wasn’t much in that tube though…a letter of congratulations and an alumni association sticker. Big whoop.

After the ceremony, we decided to pose for some pictures. There I am with my right-hand man! My biggest cheerleader the past five years!
Check out my Master’s hood. Pretty snazzy, huh? You KNOW you want to rock one of those!
Mom and Dad also came to the ceremony…they have been great supporters too. My mom told me today that my Grandma Riemersma said I am the first Riemersma to get a Master’s Degree! Pretty cool stuff!
After we left WMU, we decided we were all ready for lunch (the ceremony was at 9:00 am! Ugh!) So Mom and Dad took us to TGI Fridays.
Then mom and dad surprised me with a gift! What?!?! I wasn’t expecting anything, but mom is pretty sneaky when she is proud of her kids. She and my dad got me a really pretty pair of earrings–aquamarine bloodstones–my birthstone. I’ll be sporting those puppies tomorrow at my party!When we got home, Louis was so excited to see me…even he is excited that I am done! Aww!!!
Originally I wasn’t going to walk and I was a bit skeptical this morning when the alarm went off at 5:30 am. But I am glad I did it, because now it feels official! And tomorrow I will get to see all of you! There is not a much better gift than that!


We are celebrating and we want YOU there! Sunday, June 29 from 2:00 pm until whenever, we will be grilling burgers and dogs and serving up an assortment of beverages to celebrate my upcoming graduation from WMU with my Masters and Cort’s recent enrollment at GRCC. Endings and Beginnings! As a bonus, the patio SHOULD be done by then!

So come hang out or just stop by, but we would love to see you! Shoot me an email if you think you can make it, so I know how much meat to have Cort throw on the grill. Cheers!

Two More To Go…

Last night I finished up my grad class for this semester: Research and Scholarship in the Teaching of English. It was a good feeling to leave Kalamazoo knowing I only have two more classes to go: my capstone (which is like a masters thesis) next semester (Jan-April) and a literature elective during the summer I semester (may-june). Graduation Day (June 28) is coming soon! Then I will have my Masters of Arts in the Teaching of English. I’ve really enjoyed my classes so far, but I will be glad to be done. Driving to Kalamazoo to WMU every week is a little bit of a strain on the gas bill AND on the body – it just tires me out! Only two more semesters to go, though! Then we can send Cortney back to school in the fall instead of me!