uncomplicated love

The big brown chair.

When it was purchased there was no emotional expectation.  No one foresaw any moments to be had in the chair except lazy ones that matched the couch.

But the lack of expectations was a mistake.

That brown chair has become ours.  Mine and Eddie’s.

We melt into each other in that chair just minutes before bedtime.

He has his little yellow and green pipy and his well-worn lamby.

I am squished to one side in my fleece bathrobe while he is in a little ball on a pillow next to me.

My head rests ever so close to his soft, blond curls.

He is busy watching Wheel of Fortune and rubbing one of lamby’s ears across his nose.

He suddenly stops and turns to look at me.

Our faces are so close his little button nose is almost touching mine.

I can smell the lilac night time lotion on his skin.

A smile spreads suddenly under his pipey, and he quickly grabs the pacifier out of his mouth and leans in, mouth open.

His small, warm mouth covers mine quickly.

He giggles and whispers, “pssfff psssfff psssfff.”

His hand touches my check and he giggles again.

And just like that he pops the pipey back in his mouth and snuggles down under my chin.

But for me it is not over.  I sit their smiling and glowing from within.

My baby boy loves me.

Most people would stop here and say, “of course he does.”

But it hasn’t always been so evident to me.  That is the curse of PPD.

Those few minutes in the chair are ones that I will pack away in my heart and keep for always.

I wish Eddie could somehow also keep those moments in his heart.

Someday when he is a grumpy, angsty teen.

Someday when everything I do is wrong.

Someday when I am not there.

I wish he could see us like this.

Because it pains me to think he would forget these fleeting moments.

That he would forget the love between the two of us.

Completely unconditional with no complications.

promises kept

I could never have imagined the power behind the vows I was uttering.

I could never have fathomed that each line would come to fruition in fewer than six years.

For better…

we were three people who were once two, alone in a hospital room.  a family.

me drowsing–belly sore, limbs bloated, womb empty.

Cort resting–eyes closed, feet up on the little couch, head back, a small bundle on his chest.

Eddie sleeping–warm and dry, breathing in the world.

…or for worse…

All eyes on us–the poor children–as we lead the procession into the sanctuary.

We sat alone in the second row–behind only the widow, the preacher, and the eulogists.

Cort, me, Cody, Liz, Kenzie…and mom squeezed in from back in her row up to be next to her daughter to hold her hand and catch her tears. to be there for her kids.

The rest?  Is a blur.

…for richer…

we have each other.

we have a sweet boy.

we have a house.

we have two vehicles.

we have love.

…or for poorer…

We thought it would be me losing my job.

Every year the cuts got closer.

So close I actually saw MY name on a cut list while Eddie kicked happily and obliviously inside.

But it never happened.

I continued to work.

But he did not.

…in sickness…

Cort has a three scars–none even an inch long.

He doesn’t have an appendix.  It left him the same day his dad left this world.

I have one visible scar–probably around close to seven inches long.

It was the best way to become a mother and still stay in this world.

Cort has scars you can’t see.

Battle wounds from a verbally abusive, mentally sick wife.

I have invisible scars too.

Etched on my heart from mastering the art of losing.

…and in health.

Cort lounges sleepily on the couch only slightly aware that a curly-haired toddler is barreling toward him.

Eddie throws himself at the couch and climbs clumsily and awkwardly grabbing at Cort.

Once on the couch he steamrolls his daddy and monsters his way into position next to him.

Not to be left out, I pounce across the room and join the snuggly, giggly pile.

I do.

When Cort leaned in to kiss me for the first time as his wife?  We didn’t feel what happened…but we would soon find out.

Our whole world shifted.

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

my love boat captain

Is this just another day…this god forgotten place?

First comes love, then comes pain.  Let the games begin…

Questions rise and answers fall…insurmountable.

This week has been one of those weeks where my brain worked on a specific topic from every angle imaginable.  My mind and heart do not process hurt well.  I have taken this particular item and let it consume me–asking Cort questions that seemed silly to him, but were so very serious to me.

My mind is swirling.

My heart is swelling and then aching and tingling with possibility and then crushed with reject.

My perceptions of happiness coming up short and oh so wrong.

love and disappointment and grief a tangled mess.

I’m tired.

Is this just another phase?  Earthquakes making waves…

Trying to shake the cancer off?  Stupid human beings…

Once you hold the hand of love…all’s surmountable.

Bad things happen to us all.  I know this.

Lately I have been obsessed with our list of “bad” and it has been hard to see the good.

I go through these funks.  Where our list of strikes against us seems so big…so…insurmountable.

And this week I just couldn’t take my mind off one burning question: what if it became too much.  What if I had to do this all…alone.

It’s an art to live with pain…mix the light into gray,

lost 9 friends we’ll never know…2 years ago today,

And if our lives become too long, would it add to our regret?

But I don’t have to do it alone.

He reassured me of that.

The hurt?  The pain?  The mountains of obstacles?

They are ours. not mine.

Ours.

And the young, they can lose hope cause they can’t see beyond today…

The wisdom that the old can’t give away.

Hey,

Constant recoil…

Sometimes life

don’t leave you alone…

The idea of forever and love and marriage has confused me.

Possibilities have given me hope, while at the same time have left me questioning myself.

Being on the brink of…I don’t even know…has me antsy and wondering.

I don’t do waiting well.

Especially when I don’t know what I am waiting for.

Hold me and make it the truth,

That when all is lost there will be you.

Cause to the universe I don’t mean a thing,

And there’s just one word I still believe and it’s…

love…love. love. love. love.

He will stay with me.

Because even though we have had a lot of bad…

we still have a lot of bad…

we will continue to be thrown bad….

He will hold my hand.

Love boat captain,

take the reigns…steer us toward the clear

I know it’s already been sung…can’t be said enough,

Love is all you need…all you need is love.

Love…Love…

Love.

My love boat captain

all lyrics from “love boat captain” by pearl jam

The Blackest Friday

It was important that this day be as normal as possible.  Remember that.  Normalcy was important to me.

Black Friday of 2007 started out normal and I was ever thankful for that.  My mom and I did our shopping and we had a good time.  I didn’t bring it up the entire time we were out.  Not during our first few shops.  Not over coffee.  Not while when we walked past the baby stuff.

When I got home with all my packages, I intended to decorate the house with Christmas and wrap all of my newly bought gifts.  Just like any other year.

But this is when my “normal” was shattered.

While I was out, Cort had made plans for us with our friends (who, by the way, are usually only in state once–maybe twice–a year).  This wouldn’t be a big deal to me if those plans had fallen into the customary time period after my decorating and wrapping frenzy, but the plans called for us to be ready to go in less than 2 hours and I hadn’t even showered yet.

I know.  Big deal, right?

My world fell apart.

I was immediately angry at Cortney for messing up my “tradition”.  Inconsolably so.

“Just decorate tomorrow,” he offered.

“THAT IS NOT THE POINT!” I told him. “TODAY is when I wrap and then decorate all to the sounds of Bing Crosby.  Why can you not respect this?  Why would you make PLANS for us during this?  Do you not know me at ALL?”

He was speechless.  He even offered to cancel the plans.  But I wouldn’t let him do that.

“how would that look?” I questioned him.  “what would they think?”

So I begrudgingly showered and got all ready.

And went out to eat and to have beers.

And acted normal.

But ignored Cortney. I mean, how could he be so thoughtless?

The rage built.

After dinner we all headed over to our friends’ house where we could sit around and visit and share some wine and snacks.

I continued to ignore  my husband.

It got so bad that nearing the end of the night he came to the chair that I was actively ignoring him from and asked if I would like to go home.

I said yes.

We left an awkward wake behind us.

I started crying somewhere between here and there.

Once home my memory blurs.  I think the yelling started as we got ready for bed.  I finally started telling Cortney how this entire day was a big suck for me thanks to him.

He didn’t yell back (he never does).  He just looked sad.

But he questioned me.  He questioned how in the world this small change in my “normal” Black Friday routine could be THIS awful.

I raged at him.

And then?  I collapsed into the ugliest cry I remember having and blurted out,

“We were supposed to have a baby this week.”

And proceed to cry so hard I couldn’t get my breath.

In the dark warmth of our living room, on the leather couch where I had lain recovering from the loss, Cortney sunk and wrapped his arms around me.

“Oh, honey,” he managed.

It all started to make sense.  I was grasping for routine.  For nothing to be out of the ordinary.  For everything to “proceed as normally scheduled.”

When it didn’t?  I lost my shit.

And we sat in the dark on the couch for a very long time.

He instructed me to breathe.  To take deep breaths, and to talk about it.  Neither of us had mourned that loss like this.  And I didn’t expect the due date to hit me so hard.  I thought I was over it.  That it never bothered me that much.

But it did.  I had just suppressed it.

In the winter, when we had found out my due date, it was perfect.  All of our friends would be in town.  Family would be around.  Everyone would be ready to celebrate our baby. Somehow that fact made our unexpected pregnancy ok.  It made things start to look up.

But that night while Cort’s arms held me, my arms were empty.

No baby.

And I started to cry all over again.

It still never escapes me that if the first time around had happened, we would have been throwing a 3-year old’s birthday party this week.

Sometimes I still don’t know how to feel about this.  If we were having a birthday party, Eddie maybe wouldn’t be here.  And he is…well…there are no words for how that little boy makes my heart swell.

But yet…

someone is missing.

(two little someones, actually.  but that is another post.)

The very next Thanksgiving, Eddie was baking away in my tummy and we have never had a “normal” Thanksgiving weekend again.

I am closer to Cortney.

And I have never loved this holiday more.

We’re Being Carried

This has been a rough week.

Many of you have left me lovely, wonderful comments here and via email.

Thank you.

This week we found out Cort’s grandpa is not doing so well.

A good friend of mine pointed out that my anxiety seems to sky-rocket when I am faced with sickness and mortality.  With the overload of work and the possibility of losing someone else that I love very much, I lost control.  I feel deep.

But then I read your comments.

And I remembered Cort’s dad’s favorite poem.

And I realized that right now?  My family and I are being carried.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

In other news, the discounts from this post expire this coming week.  So get in on them while you can!

Also, I am having an online scentsy party with Joanna of Raising Madison. Every purchase gets entered to win a FREE plug-in warmer!  That is a $15 value for FREE!  Hurry, the party is open through Tuesday, so get in on some fun holiday scents!

Lastly, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday’s will be Top Ten Things on Your Child’s Christmas List.  These can be things YOU want for you baby/toddler/child/teenager or things they have actually TOLD you they want.  Make your list, link up, and get ideas from everyone else!

Bittersweet….

Cause it’s a bitter sweet symphony, this life

Every choice  make brings good and bad it seems.  Today I was reminded of the good that my new choices will bring.  Power was lost at school and we were sent home. 

Home to a quiet house. 
Home with my lessons to plan.
Home for a much-needed nap.
Trying to make ends meet
You’re a slave to money then you die
All we do is struggle to keep ourselves afloat.  Cortney goes through promising interviews.  Every damn time we get our hopes up.  Every time (so far) he gets the rejection.  He is MORE than qualified.  He is exactly what they are looking for.  But he doesn’t have a degree.  OR they are afraid once he gets his degree he will leave.
And that leaves us back at square one.
So I worry.
And I take on extra duties and jobs.
And I overextend myself for money.
Until I die.
No change, I can’t change
I can’t change, I can’t change
Cortney begs me not to worry.  Not to take on more than I can handle.  Other people ask me if I am crazy. 
I KNOW I should take care of myself first.
But I can’t.
I just can’t.
I am selfish in many, may ways.  But taking something away from my family that I could provide by just sucking it up for a limited amount of time is something I just can’t do.
But I’m here in my mind
I am here in my mind
I do these things I know are not good for me even if they are good for others.  But I KNOW it.
I know I want my family to be comfortable even if I’m not.
I know I take on jobs because I want to make people happy.
I know I do things that might not want to do because I feel important if I do them.
I know I take things on just so I won’t be forgotten.
I am aware.
But I’m a million different people
from one day to the next…
To follow the old cliche, I wear more hats than my head can possibly handle.
I bite off way more than I can swallow and digest, let alone chew.
I play more roles in one day than I can list on all my fingers and toes.
I know it would be healthier for me to quit doing that.
But how?  How do I continue to be a GOOD teacher, mother, wife, etc if I just think about me?
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me,
yeah
Some days I just need it to be recognized that I struggle.  I just need people to see it, understand it’s a part of me, and feel it for me for a second.
I am not looking for pity.
I am not whining.   
Most days, anyway.
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
I don’t know what else to blog about besides that.  
This is my life.
This is OUR life.
We have struggles.
We try VERY hard to keep a positive outlook in all things.  We try to laugh a lot.
Because if you don’t laugh?  You lose.  You die.  You’re done.
But sometimes?  That is hard.
There needs to be a break in the laughter.
And this is one of those breaks.
Stuff isn’t funny to me right now.  It’s just damn hard.
I wish it didn’t have to be, but this is the only road Cort and I know.  We started down this hard road when we walked back down the aisle together as man and wife.
Neither of us had known a ton of hardship until then.
We are so very lucky to have each other and this journey.  But it’s not easy.
Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life

If you are feeling all “help a teacher out”, you can visit the teacher wish lists for the teachers in my district.  I am on there as well, but all of us need help.  We have huge classes and little to zero funds to get the things we need.  Anything you can do is much appreciated. 

Plus also? All your comments and tweets on my post this morning and about my meltdown?  Wonderful.  I will get to responding (if your email is connected to your commenting account).

And one more thing?  about comments?  Soon I will be over at wordpress and responding to what you say to me will be much easier.  YAY!

Blessings

This day…today…amazed me.

I am left sitting here typing this an aching, emotionally drained, physically exhausted pile of whine.

So pooped that actual wine doesn’t even sound good to me.

I KNOW!

Anyway, let me go back….

You all know that Cort’s sister and brother-in-law are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, yes?  If by chance you don’t know what I am talking about, you REALLY should go to their blog, Stepping Stones, and read about their journey.  It’s lovely.  Go ahead.  You can go read now.  I’ll wait….

tappity….tappity…tappity…oh, you’re back.  Ok…

So, they are adopting from Ethiopia and we REALLY wanted to help out.  It all started months ago when they asked if I could contribute something crafty to their online auction.  I didn’t have the time or the supplies, but I SOOO wanted to help.

Fastforward to me volunteering to do a garage sale to get rid of our stuff.  And then asking for donations.  It got huge, people.  I am telling you…it took over our basement and part of our garage.

This is only part of it.  We had started moving things to the garage already at this point.  See?

On Thursday MacKenzie (my sis-in-law), our friend Trisha, and I organized everything into categories in the garage and then priced it all.  Friday, more stuff was dropped off, so I went through all that:  sorting and pricing.  Oh, and it was about 1000 degrees with 100% humidity.  It was like organizing in a sauna.

Friday night to celebrate this fundraiser and to get a little taste of what Ethiopia is like, MacKenzie and Dave took us to GoJo in East Town (Grand Rapids). GoJo is family owned and the owner, Sam, waited on us and chatted it up with Kenz and Dave–they are regulars now!

Many families who are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia or who have adopted come to eat here.  It’s amazing the sense of community there is even with only one other table of diners in there besides us.  I just felt that this was a familiar place for people to come.

Pictures of children who have found their families lined the windows and Sam knew right where his customers were in their own processes.  He even mentioned to Dave and Kenz that he heard they had waiting list numbers now!

The experience was super unique to anything I have had before–the only thing I can compare it to is digging in to and appetizer, but it was the table’s meal.

The food is family style and the diners get NO utensils or plates.  You simply grab your Ethiopian flatbread and dig in to the lamb, beef, chicken, collards, salads, and lentils.  The platter we ordered was pretty darn spicy, but it can be milder.  The flavor?  Was SO worth the “after burn” in my mouth.  Even though I knew I would get a fire mouth?  I kept going for more!

Even Eddie liked some of the milder tastes!  I can definitely say we will be back!  Such a great experience!

So armed with Ethiopian food in our bellies, we met Saturday morning with determination to make some cash at the garage sale!

In fact, I was hanging signs at 7:15am (the sale started at 8am), and a couple stalked me down in their minivan to ask me if we would open early.  Garage Salers?  Are serious.

The night before I made all these cute little business cards with the Stepping Stones blog address on them to give to people as they bought or donated so they could follow the adoption journey.  It was definitely a hit!

So we waited for the crowds.  We got a few in the first hour, but by 9:30 I was all panicky that people weren’t going to come.  Shouldn’t we have had a morning rush?

So I called my mom and asked her if she was coming.  My mom?  said she wasn’t “planning on it”.  I begged her to come so that we wouldn’t have NO one here…even if she didn’t buy anything, she could play with Eddie.

Apparently that call was the trick!  After that, we were steady until around noon!  My mom even ended up buying a little bike for Eddie!  Hooray for Grandma!  And Granny showed up too and bought Eddie some books!  Yay!  Grandmas are the BEST!

My favorite thing of the day, though, was when Kenzie’s BFF, Alicia was here with her two kids, Ruthie and Lewis.  Lewis spotted a soccer ball he wanted and Alicia tried to tell him they had one at home already.  Needless to say, Lewis REALLY wanted the soccer ball.

Then Alicia said, that soccer ball?  Was one she has donated to the sale.  Luckily, HER mom was there and bought the ball back for Lewis.

Again, Grandmas for the win!

We worked hard today.  Cortney and I met a LOT of our neighbors (in fact, we met the guy Cort has secretly been calling Mr. Jones and trying to keep up with…get it?  His real name is Steve and his wife bought a ton.).

We also learned that many of our neighbors have also adopted.

In fact, one?  Is in the process of adopting from Ethiopia too!  We heard many lovely stories of adoption and God’s love for all children.  It made the day pretty emotional.

Cort’s dad once told me how glad he was to have me in the family.  I have NEVER forgotten that.  He was glad to have me.

And today, even though so many people told me it was great that Cort and I were helping, I really didn’t feel like we were doing anything special.

I felt like the people who donated and who were shopping were doing the special things.

Kenz and Dave are doing something special for children they don’t even know yet, but already love more than life.

Not us.  Not me.  But I remembered what my father-in-law said. He welcomed me in even though I wasn’t technically his own.  He felt I was good for something.

Today, I felt I was living up to what he meant.  I don’t need thanks.  I really don’t want it.  I just want him to be proud.  And I want Kenz and Dave to look at their children and be glad. 

And it made Cort and I VERY glad to give them the $500 that was earned at the garage sale!  Never once did it cross our minds that that money could be ours.  Never.  In fact, someone said we should get a receipt at Good Will for the rest of the stuff, but you know what?  Most of that stuff was donated.  It wasn’t ours.  We don’t feel right getting a receipt for it.  So it will just be another donation.  It’s the least we can do for all the blessings that continue to come our way.

I cannot WAIT to meet my niece, nephew, or both!  I can’t.  I love being an aunt.  Love it.  Almost…ALMOST as much as I love being a mom!

Cancer? Oh it Sucks!

Most people that read this blog know that we lost Cort’s dad to cancer five years ago.  I have blogged about that many times, and this year?  I will let Cort blog about it over at his own blog.  Steve was his dad, and since the five year anniversary (usually I think of anniversaries as happy…but what else to you call it?) is coming up next week AND there is a cancer sucks blog hop going on, it really is his story to tell.  So check out Tasty Buttered Toast since I believe his plan is to talk about his dad’s birthday (on Monday, Aug 9) and his passing (Saturday, Aug 14).
ALL cancer is terrible.  No matter what type someone gets it reeks havoc physically on its victim, and it terrifies and devastates family and friends.   Not only did we lose Cortney’s dad to lung cancer, but many  of our aunts and grandmas have had to battle breast cancer.  And earlier this year, I found out a friend from high school, Lynette…someone MY age…has been thrown into this bit of hell called breast cancer.
Back in June I shared that Cort and I felt strongly that we wanted to do something for Lynette, so we signed up to run the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure 5k in September. 
I thought I would take a second to update you on our progress.
First of all, you can read about Lynette’s fight and how great she is doing on her blog. She claims she is not as strong as she sounds, but she is for sure amazing.  We weren’t that close in high school, but somehow a tragedy like cancer puts things into perspective.  She is my peer.  She is a fellow momma.  She is a wife.  She is a fighter.
So as you can see, all of Sluiter Nation has the “Fight Like a Girl” Tshirt to support Lynette’s fight.
Cortney and I have also been training for the 5K using the Couch to 5K training program.  We started out pretty strong with our new gear and a pile of enthusiasm.
Then I got a stupid knee injury.  I did something painful and awful to the ligaments in my left knee.  I actually had to have physical therapy!  I felt so dumb…like it wasn’t a REAL injury.  I felt like it was a “fat, out of shape” injury.  But I worked that PT and got better in only 5 sessions (my PT was actually quite amazed)!
So I am back at it.  
Cortney is on Week seven of nine.  He is currently running for 25 minutes straight.  He is a machine, I tell you. He enjoys tolerates early morning runs–around 6:30am–before it gets super awful walk on the sun hot outside.
I am on week four of ten (we are both doing Couch to 5K, but there are variations of it).  I am currently running for a whopping 7 minutes straight.  I do my running on the treadmill since it’s easier on my knees.  And usually I get my run in around nap–after my lunch digests.
By September 25?  We both want to be able to run the full 5k.  I clearly have more work to do.  Eek!
We have also been raising money for the Race for the Cure.  We both have pledge pages.  Recently, we upped our goals.  We started out with goals being $250.  We blew those out of the water within a month of fundraising (which means we get to wear the pink ribbon when we run!  Yay!  Because WHO WHO will not wear the ribbon!  Seinfeld anyone?  No?  Ok then…).  So we have both now RAISED our goals to $500 each! 
Can you imagine Sluiter Nation being able to raise a THOUSAND dollars for cancer research?!?
Plus if we do that, we will each win a New Balance gift card, which I will be in turn giving away here on the blog…to thank you all for your support!
So help us help kick cancer in the face, butt, and gut! 
Click on the above pictures to get to either mine or Cortney’s pledge pages for the 5k.  
We appreciate your support and generosity. 
You can read more about my journey with training for the 5k on the blog, Running Between Tweets.  A group blog started by a bunch of online people I “know” who are all doing the Couch to 5k program.  Read about all of our struggles and victories!
And Cortney talks about his ups and downs with running (and life in general) over on Tasty Buttered Toast.

Click on the links below to read more cancer sucks stories.  I can’t promise you won’t cry…even at the ones with happy endings.  But they are powerful, powerful stories.

I’m a Survivor!

While we have had lots going on around here and lots to update you all on, instead, I am asking that you go over to We Aren’t Perfect today. Crystal is doing a Postpartum Depression Confessions Awareness Week, and I am her first guest post.

This is a cause that is VERY close to me since I am still in recovery with my PPD and my PPA.  And while I am telling you that, I want to share that since the calendar flipped to August, my anxiety has totally amped up.  I’m hoping to work this out with my therapist, but the thought of leaving Cort and Eddie and working two jobs again this fall has my stomach in knots and I’m starting to get my insomnia back.

We will get through this, but your prayers and thoughts are welcome.  In fact, as I type this Cortney is on a job interview. So maybe things are about to turn around?

I hope so.  Anyway, show some love to Crystal for her awesome project of creating awareness for PPD/PPA! 

Reaching Outside the Nation

Today, I am sending you all to MacKenzie and Dave’s blog (Cort’s little sis and bro-in-law) to check out the online auction they have there to raise some money to bring their child(ren) home from Ethiopia. 

They have some REALLY great stuff on there for everyone:  hooded toddler towels, burp clothes, jewelry, handmade cups and a cutting board, Cubs tickets, Tigers tickets, and so SO much more!

So please go check it out at Stepping Stones, and maybe bid on something!  Help Eddie’s cousin(s) come home!

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