You Are From

This poem was the product of a 10-day intense summer seminar with The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI). More posts on that experience are forthcoming.

To my children: Eddie, Charlie, and Alice,

You are from the Dutch. 
From west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel.
(names that are familiar, 
but places that are foreign.)
You are from coastal towns, dune grasses
and peat meadows
with windmills that turn with time.

You are from immigrants and farmworkers
Gerrit and Akke
jailed for holding unauthorized church services
now living on the stolen land of the Odawa.
You’re from the Dutch Reformed Church and John Calvin
from van Raalte and Van De Luyster
from freedom to oppress and
freedom to work a new land.

You are from New Groningen and Zeeland Chix,
pigs in the blanket made by the Ladies’ Aid Society
From farming and steel work
And a veteran of the second World War,
that solidified a distrust of the Other.

You are also from change.
from questioning tradition
to making a new culture.
from learning and connecting–
creating growth and understanding
with people once distrusted.

Your roots are not in revolution,
but the branch from which you bloom
feeds you with resistance
and disruption.
Questions sprout around you
Synthesizing in you
a new way to

In our family is dedication
and determination,
people with dreams and goals
but few words
to admit the struggles and 
conflicts of the journey.

You are from transformation.

Happy Seven!

Dear Alice,

I hate that what they say about your last child has proven to be true–all the things parents do for their first starts to dwindle as they have more children. I did all the things for Eddie as a little kid, some of the things for Charlie, and almost none for you. You have no baby book, no record of firsts (unless I posted them here by chance), and late birthday letters on a blog that may or may not be around much longer.

You are the one who will care the most. You are the one who asks the most questions about what you were like as a baby. You ask about your birth story and your first words and your first steps. You ask all the questions all the time.

And now you are seven! Seven is such a transition age to me. You are finishing up the Little Kid stage. You aren’t quite a middle grade kid, but you’re not a primary grade kid anymore.

This year you found the world of American Girl Dolls and have not looked back! For your 6th birthday we got you one of the Target knock-offs named Millie. We wanted to see if you really did want to do the whole doll thing before we dropped serious money on one. You loved having her ride behind you on your bike, have matching sunglasses, and dress her in the clothes that your great aunt made.

You also still love unicorns and rainbows and soft stuffy animals. They are everywhere coming out of every storage thing in your room. It’s insane and you know it, but care not. If it’s cute, you want it in your life.

You are growing up to be such a great person, my Alice Bean. Your teachers consistently tell us that you are a helper and a friend to everyone. You are always willing to be the friend someone needs. You are compassionate and sweet.

You want to play with everyone and get a little annoyed when Charlie chooses videogames or a neighborhood friend over you. Ok, you get downright whiny. But for all your whining, you are also endlessly patient with Charlie and his need to be in charge. The two of you are either the best of friends or the fiercest of enemies. There is almost no middle ground.

Charlie helps you to find your brave. He can talk you in to trying new things–like riding a camel–or get you to do the math homework you think is hard. He stands up for you on the bus (even when his methods are a bit suspect), and wants to help you learn to ride your bike on two wheels this summer.

Eddie is your helper. He reaches the cups from the shelf or gets you more milk because the gallon jug is too heavy. He babysits you (when Charlie isn’t around) and makes “the best grilled cheese ever!” He rolls his eyes at you a lot because he sees you as his “annoying little sister,” but much of what he finds annoying is what he was exactly like at your age too. It is an endless source of amusement for me to watch him grump at the way you sing talk everything when he too, went through that phase.

You have a glorious imagination and sense of style with the confidence to skip through this world. I am so happy that what other people wear or do doesn’t have as much of an influence on you as what YOU find cute and comfy. You are my fancy little scrub and it’s so fun to watch you develop your own opinions and preferences that are typically so different than my own at that age–and even now!

By the way, you are full of all the attitude. All of it. You can be the sweetest little girl that anyone has ever met, but with me (or your dad or even Ms. Carolyn), you can turn into an evil little devil. The word “no” turns you into a raving lunatic at times. And your “mad face” makes Grandma and Grandpa laugh because allegedly it reminds them of, well, me when I was seven.

Besides your “mad face,” you have many more legendary looks. You have more emotion in your facial expressions than anyone I know. It is hilarious, but it also means you can never truly hide how you feel. Speaking from experience, this means you will be vulnerable even when you don’t want to be throughout your life. Embrace it as much as you can, because if you are like me, it will contribute to your being a terrible liar (which you are already, by the way. Writing “Alice” on the wall and then demanding that you have NO idea who did that? Such a bad lie).

Having you as much daughter has been the most marvelous surprise of my life. I did not think having a little girl was going to be near the awesome that people told me it would be. Having you as my constant little buddy–and even tiny broke best friend who makes everything about herself–has been a joy that makes me smile every single day (it also has a tendency to make me question certain life choices everyday, but hey! It’s balanced!)

First grade has been the year you ask lots of questions about what other people think and do. You have asked me about families that don’t have both a mom and a dad. You’ve asked me if you have a unibrow and if you’ll have to wax it like I do (my answer was, do what you want! Also thick eyebrows are always something people envy because you can always shape them and whatnot, but you can’t grow more), and if you will get “pokey legs” like I do (not if you don’t shave, friend!). You have started asking about periods and babies. Just like the boys, I give you age-appropriate honest and truthful answers. We don’t make up stories about storks or call our body parts by weird names around here.

We talk about what healthy eating is like and what keeps our bodies healthy. I have never focused my weight loss journey on doing it for how I look–it’s always been through the lens of keeping cancer out of my body and staying as healthy as I can be, and you are here for it. You are so interested in what sorts of treats and snacks I chose and how much I have. You ask questions about “is cheese or an apple a healthier snack?” But we never talk about depriving ourselves from things we love–we just treat them as treats, not meals! Meals nourish, treats, well, they treat!

You have been the hardest to convince that not everyone or everything fits in a binary. The boys have always been super accepting that the world does not have to be divided into “boys things and girls things” that not everything is “good” or “bad”. They readily accept the both/and as well as the this, that, or beyond, or between ideas of where people and their identities and beliefs can fit. You have always given this wide open view of humanity the side-eye. But the thing is, you are always asking questions and thinking about it and then talking it over. And you are so SO willing to give every human the chance to be your friend.

You are a gift, Alice. You light up this world that is often so dark and scary. Your giggle is contagious and your joy is infectious. You are smart and silly and kind and loving.

AND this is the year you got over your complete fear of dogs and fell in love with Ruby. You may not love ALL dogs (I hear that, sister), but you love our Ruby and you are getting to be so good with her. I’m proud of you.

I’m proud that you are my Alice. My goofy side-kick in this life. I hope seven is your best year yet!

I love you to always and forever,


Upon Turning Six

Dear Miss Alice,

Two weeks ago you turned six! I keep waiting for the newness of having a daughter to wear off, but even after 6 years, I am still amazed that you are ours–that I made you. You bring our family such joy, my little caboose.

Where do I even begin to describe you at age six?

Despite the pandemic and starting elementary school with masks and distancing, you love kindergarten. You come home with stars in your eyes for your teacher, Mr. F. You learn quickly, and sing us the songs you learn for remembering to spell your sight words and for the seasons and the days of the week. You love to count. And, like your mother, you love books and reading, achieving 1st grader-level reading by mid-year.

Your daily specials are a favorite part of your day: art, Spanish, PE, and technology. And lately you have been writing about animals, coming home to tell us about king cobras and hedgehogs.

You like to play school and restaurant and really anything that lets you write things down in one of your little notebooks.

You love Barbie dolls, LOL dolls, animal stuffies, your “Big Nora” squishmellow, and your American Girl (really it’s an Our Generation) doll, Millie. You still love rainbows, unicorns, mermaids, and anything with glitter. You love to do crafts and play dough (and recently kinetic sand). You love to paint and draw.

Another one of your favorite things is to play beauty shop/salon/spa day. Not only do you love when I pamper you and do your nails, but you have amassed quite the collection of play beauty supplies and you love to do my hair and make up and nails too. Maybe someday you will become a stylist!

You also love to play, play, PLAY outside. You will ride your bike around the block over and over and then walk around it. You will play with the neighbor boy and run and jump. This past weekend you made hop scotch on the driveway and begged for a partner until daddy came out. Then you giggled and giggled as he hopped on your teeny tiny squares.

You are still a little bit of a wimp when it comes to getting owies. Last weekend you fell running with Charlie and put a hole in your pants and skinned up your knee. We put a bandaid on it, but you refused to put it in the water in your bath and you hobbled around with a limp for two days. Later, you asked daddy if you should take the bandaid off since it was getting a little ratty looking. Then we heard you in the bathroom giving yourself a pep talk before pulling the bandaid off: “Who’s a strong girl? I’m a strong girl! Who’s a strong girl? I’m a strong girl! Who’s a strong…OUCH! girl? I AM A STRONG GIRL LOOK DADDY I PULLED IT OFF!!!!”

You are silly and cute, but oof…you are also strong-willed. You know what you want and what you don’t want and you are not an easy one to compromise. You have a very “my way or the highway” attitude. You will put yourself to bed in your clothes if you don’t want to brush your teeth and wash up like we ask you to (no brushing/washing = no bedtime books). It is tiresome now, but I hope your strong will stays with you, and you use it to stand up for what is right and just someday.

Just as strong-willed as you can be with us, you are kind and helpful with others. You make friends easily, and are kind regardless if someone wants to be your friend or not. You follow rules and encourage others to do so as well.

And you LOVE to talk. If you’re not talking to one of us, you are chatting with your stuffies and/or dolls. Or singing to yourself. If you’re quiet, you’re either concentrating on an ipad, a show, or you’re sleeping. Bedtime is when you get the most chatty with me. Once we have read books and sung songs and the lights are out, you start telling me all the things on your mind–who got new shoes, who said something about someone else, what teachers said hi to you in the hallway, and how Charlie was mean to you today. It reminds me a lot of what Eddie was like at age six. He doesn’t chat with me as much now that he is a big middle school kid, but he is still comfortable asking me questions and getting my view on things. I hope you will be too as you get older.

You are a hugger and a relationship girl. Each night you are personally offended if one of your brothers does not want both a hug and a kiss from you before bed. You love to snuggle your daddy, me, but mostly soft stuffies. Your favorites are Big Nora (Squishmellow) and pink blankie. Other stuffies you have that you also love include Mr. Sprinkles (a bunny who is a girl, but prefers the title Mister), White Tigey, Tigey, Brown Horsey, and Everest (from Paw Patrol). You still play with your Bitty Baby who you named Babycita as well. Your favorite movies are still the Frozen movies, but Grandma gave you Mulan for your birthday and we have watched that a few times now as well.

You drive us crazy and make us laugh. You bring magic and joy to our family as well as authentic hugs and snuggles. Just tonight, as a protest to brushing your teeth before bed, you announced to me, “fine. I don’t NEED you to put me to bed!” And you went to bed in your clothes and fell promptly asleep without your shade down or your humidifier turned on.

We love you fiercely, my Alice Beans. You will always been the exclamation point on the sentence of our family.


An Odd Ending

The school year is officially over for all four of us who are academically involved in schooling.

It was…odd.

First, Alice finished pre-school with a drive-thru celebration and one final Zoom with her teachers and her Fish Room Friends.

Certificate that proves she did it!

Honestly, I think Cortney, all the grandparents, and I were more bummed about not getting the cute little pre-school “graduation” celebration than she was. She didn’t know what normally happens. She was all-caps THRILLED to drive-thru the back parking lot and see her teachers and get her art projects and certificate.

This kid is ready for Kindergarten!

I was next. My classes unceremoniously ended on May 29. We did a drive-thru exchange where kids could pick up locker stuff and their yearbook and/or drop off any school/teacher stuff. I volunteered to help at one of the two times we did this. It was fun to see some of my students, but it definitely did not make up for our regular last week of school fun.

The boys ended their school year on Friday, June 5, although to be fair we were pretty much done with school work on May 29. They did a little field day and had some final zoom moments, but they had been done.

On the 5th, however, they put a fork in it. Their elementary school had a drive through summer send off first for 5th grade advancement, and then for the whole school. Well, of course we had to drive through twice–once for each kid!

The 5th grade t-shirt. Also…remember when he was just born? Sigh.
and the back of the shirt
Cars driving through with staff cheering and holding signs. 5th graders got their certificate of advancement and a treat from the PTO
He ate the tassel before realizing his name was on it!
Best 5th grade teacher ever!

Of course we had to drive through a second time so Charlie could sit in the front and be celebrated. It’s only fair. But first I got a couple selfies–one with the newly minted 3rd grader, and one with the rising Kindergartner.

Ready for summer! Then 3rd grade! Look out Upper-El!
Along for the ride…and getting a sneak peek at the awesome staff at her future elementary school!

It wasn’t the 5th grade “graduation” that is normally held, but I asked family and friends to send Eddie a note in the mail and they did NOT disappoint! He got dozens of cards throughout the week, and said, “I am still sad that 5th grade didn’t go how it was supposed to, but this probably wouldn’t have happened if it did, so I am pretty happy.”

We also had a tiny celebration at home that evening.

He picked pizza for dinner and asked to make a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips and homemade chocolate ice cream with me. So we did. And then topped it with chocolate syrup.

That is a LOT of chocolate!

We also gave him a watch as a “graduation” gift. I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be. We wanted it to be something that showed he was growing up and becoming more responsible.

He loved it.

And so, the 2019-2020 school year is over. Summer is here.

Gimme Five!

Dear Alice,

Nineteen days ago you turned FIVE! That is a big deal! You are a whole hand of fingers now!

Let me tell you a little bit about who you are at age five:

You are SMART! You started pre-school this fall with Mrs. Y and Mrs. B in the fish room. You also go to the Jungle room for wrap-around care, so you are at school full-time, three days a week! It can really wear you out, but you do love it a lot. You love all your teachers and friends and you are learning so much so fast!

Since school started you now know all your letters, can write almost all of them, can sound out simple words, and can count to 30 by ones and 100 by tens!

First day of Preschool!

You have BIG opinions. And you get quite angry when we don’t know what you want before you even tell us. Some things you LOVE: mermaids, princesses, candy, unicorns, and books.

I mean…you really like princesses.

You also love gymnastics! You started right around when you turned four, and this winter you had another chance to do it. You are HOOKED! Once this crazy Corona Virus thing passes, daddy and I are excited to watch you again this summer. We are considering signing you up at an actual gymnastics gym rather than just through the rec program.

You also love to play with your brothers. I’m not going to lie to you, friend. They do not always want you to tag along or join in. But when they do, you are in heaven. Charlie is especially good at being your playmate. You two often play restaurant or house or just ride bikes around the neighborhood.

This year we also redid your room from a baby nursery–which it has been for almost 10 years–to a “big girl room” complete with getting rid of the crib and replacing it with a bed.

As you get older, you get to participate more in all the things we do. This past summer we went to Pentwater with Grandpa and Grandma again. You took walks, played on the beach, and played games with all of us. It’s so fun to watch you become independent and spunky!

Speaking of independent, whew. You are one bossy lady! You are fierce and stand up for yourself and your ability to do what you want. That does not always go so well for you because, well, you are just five. But you see your brothers doing things and you want to be included too. And if you are left out? Oh boy do you let us hear about it.

You are my little shadow. I want to always remember how much you love being by my side. How much you love to help me bake and clean and do all kinds of things. How you want me to play babies and barbies and read books. How you want to sit next to me at the table when I do my work so you can color or do your “work”.

I know someday you will not want to be around me, maybe at all. So even though I can get a little impatient with you, know that I really do love how much you want to be with me.

People say you look and act a lot like me.



While you love to play with me, Daddy is your hero. He is silly with you and tickles you and lets you do his hair and make-up.

Did I mention you love candy? Oh my goodness. Unfortunately, you have inherited your dad’s “soft” teeth. You’ve had a few cavities already and when you were two, you had your front teeth capped. You have always hated the dentist, but now that you go to Dr. Tom, you are coming around to being more brave.

Before turning five, you lost a tooth and you’ve lost another one since turning five! You are a full year younger than both of your brothers were when they lost their first teeth. And, because you like to be different, you lost the two top left teeth first instead of bottom teeth.

It’s adorable and fits your adorable personality perfectly. I love your confidence and attitude–even when sometimes we clash.

You are my best girl. You are so smart. So thoughtful. So loving.

Celebrating you this month has been pure joy.

As I write this, I wonder how much you will remember some day about this time of becoming five.

Will you remember how much you missed your friends, Ms. Carolyn, and teachers?

Will you remember how you kept saying to me, “I wish we could go to…, but we can’t because of coronavirus”?

Or will you remember goofing around with your brothers?

Daily bike rides with Daddy and your brothers?

Baking cookies with me?

Watching movies and eating popcorn in the middle of the day?

I can’t tell you what the future of this next trip around the sun will look like. We can have our plans and dreams, but if this month has taught us anything, it’s that we have to go with the flow.

And we will go with the flow together, my Alice Beans.

Happy FIVE!

I love you to the moon and back,


The Last Baby is Not a Baby Anymore

Dear Alice,

You are FOUR!

I’ll tell you something you have probably already figured out: As the final born child, every one of your milestones is emotional for me. It’s just the way it is for the last baby. I’m sorry…but not.

In the past couple months, you’ve grown up so much in anticipation of turning four. You ditched the crib for a Big Girl bed, and are now (not so) patiently awaiting the bedroom re-do later this spring when we repaint your room and get your a REAL Big Girl bed. You chose mermaids for your bedding, and Grandma and Grandpa got it for you for your birthday.

You potty trained! No more diapers in this house! After 9.5 years, we are now–finally–diaper free. I admit that I was not emotional about that one because changing a toddler’s poopy diaper is one of the grossest parts of parenting. We are much happier that all that business is happening in the toilet now.

And just a week ago, you gave up your boppy (pacifier). The Boppy Fairy came in the night and turned it into a Barbie car which you love so much you took it to daycare for a full week.

We signed you up for swimming lessons and gymnastics this spring/summer and you are already talking about what you will wear to both.

And this week you told your first real lie: about what happened to your purple princess lipstick (“It’s not in my [laundry] basket, mom.” Spoiler: it was in there, broken into pieces).

We definitely do not have any more babies in this house, that’s for sure.

At four, you are incredibly opinionated. You feel you need to have a say in every single decision: your clothes, your shoes, your toys, your brothers, meals, what is on TV, who sits where, the color of your milk cup. This goes on and on. When you don’t get your way, there is quite a bit of dramatics.

You are quick to hug and kiss and say, “I love you,” to every member of the family, though. If you throw a fit, you will come back later with a snuggle and tell us you love us.

You are like a dance shoved in a tiny body. You like to twirl and “shake your peanut” even when there is no music.

Oh, and you have opinions on music too. If we do not play your favorite song (which could be any of a hundred songs at any one time), there are hysterics. Currently your favorites include “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons and “We Will Rock You” by Queen (you like to tell us all we have mud on our face).

You have one of the loudest laughs I have ever heard. Maybe because it’s so squealy.

You want to help or do everything I do. You follow me around, and when I tell you to go play with your toys, you protest. A lot.

When I read, you get out your copy of Bossypants by Tina Fey and sit next to me.

When I put makeup on in the morning, you get your stool and choose a lip gloss and ask me to use “the big brush” on your face.

When I make dinner, you drag your stool into the kitchen to “help” with hopes that something sweet is made that you can lick.

We celebrated your birthday with pink and princesses, of course. You even wore your Elsa dress (and crown, and gloves) for your birthday party with Charlie on Saturday.

Your facial expressions are something of a legend around here. They are so over-the-top that I am reminded of Lucille Ball whenever you pull them. (Sidenote: We got a book about girls who changed the world and you pointed out Lucille Ball as your favorite).

You have a big voice, and while I don’t want you to lose the sass and courage to stand up for what you believe, I do wish you could reign it in when it’s about not loving what I made for dinner or wanting candy as a meal. (Sidenote: while I write this you are sitting on the floor with your arms crossed, quite angry because I told you we are having chicken for dinner, not a sandwich).

We are at the age of begging and NO! and all the questions and non-stop talking. SO MUCH TALKING. (Sidenote: you are talking to me right now and I don’t even know what it’s about, but you have said, “mom” at least a dozen times.)

You love to tell me that we are both “moms and girls” (you have Babycita, so I guess that makes you a mom) and that we are the same.

You hate to have your hair brushed, but you refuse to have it cut–or even trimmed.

You can count to 20 and recognize your name and can say MOST of the alphabet.

You love to sing and make me sing you “Row Row Boat” and “Jesus Loves Me” every time I tuck you in at night.

You love books, but you want to read them your way and comment on every single picture and what you think the book should say.

Every single day you make me laugh. Every single day you drive me to the edge of my own sanity. I am so glad that you are my daughter.

Happy fourth birthday, my little Alicita.



The Names We Give Them

Edward Steven
Edward Bear
Eddie Bear
Number One
Brother Bear

Charles Thomas
Charlie Bird
Bird Dog
Charlie Tom
Buddy boo
Number Two
Birdie Boo
Brother Bird
Middle Child

Alice Katherine
Alice Beans
Bean Dip
Beansy Girl
Beanie Boo
B Girl
Allie Buckets
Pickle Pants
Little Sister
Sister Bear

Sluiter Sibs
Sluiter kids
Team Sluiter
Sluiter Crew
Cortney Sluiter Family

Whatever we call them, they are our favorite three people on this Earth.

Photographs by Erin Barkel Photography

No More Crib

In March of 2009, Cortney assembled the crib that would hold all three of our babies over nine and a half years. This weekend, he partially disassembled it to convert it into a Big Girl Bed for Alice.

Eddie’s nursery

In the beginning it was so new. So full of possibility. So matching.

Charlie’s nursery

Second child meant that we had learned a few things, got rid of a lot of useless things, and added the chew protector because standing babies chew wood.

Look at that face! So proud!

And now, for the first time in almost a decade, it is no longer a crib.

Alice had been asking for a while now if she could have a Big Girl bed. Both boys were two-and-a-half when they moved to their Big Boy beds due to another baby being on the way needing the crib/nursery.

No more babies are on the way, and as long as she didn’t complain, we were unconcerned that our almost-three-and-a-half-year old was still in a crib. She didn’t climb out, and didn’t make a fuss. Until late this summer.

We bought this particular crib because it can convert to a toddler day bed and eventually a full-sized bed (of course we bought it from Babies R Us and now I can’t find the conversion kit for a Pinehurst crib anywhere. I may have to enlist my dad to help). So the “front” that Cortney took off is technically the foot-board of what may eventually be her bed.

I was about to explode into tears when we called her into the room to see it. The crib that held all of my babies that was now a Big Girl bed because there will be no more babies. But before the lump in my throat could actualize, she saw it, burst into squeals of delight, started hugging both Cortney and me, and proclaiming, “I LOVE IT! THANK YOU!” over and over.

The lump vanished and I burst into laughter.

She was just SO THRILLED.

And unlike her brothers, she has not wandered out of bed at night or at nap at all. That is how much she loves it.

Plus she is a rule follower. I don’t think it occurs to her to get up and protest bedtime.

But also because she loves it.

Notice her Babycita’s crib is right next to hers so she can check on her.

She even plays in her room more. She will just go in there and play babies and sit in her bed. And in the morning, she wanders out and will say, “I get up by myself,” to Cortney.

It’s the sweetest thing in the entire world.

The girl is like her mom and loves sleep, but if it’s possible she loves it even more now.

Tonight, when I put her to bed, she said, “Daddy comes down here by my pillow,” and indicated that I can sit next to her bed and put my head next to hers on her pillow. So I did.

“Now sing Row Row Boat,” she insisted.

So I did.

She is still my littlest, but the parts about her that are baby are fading quickly. This week she will be three-and-a-half years old, and she is adamant that she is a Big Girl.

She still sleeps like the Baby Alice I remember, though: with her pink blankie tucked under her arm and her boppy (pacifier) in her mouth. I know I should push to get rid of that too, but I can’t take all the baby away at once.

Diapers, on the other hand, I would LOVE to see go.


Dear Alice,

Today you are three!

You have been looking forward do this day since Christmas. It’s the first year that I think you really understand what a birthday is and that you are getting one.  When asked what you want for your birthday, you enthusiastically declare, “PINK!” So pink it shall be!

Alicita, you are my favorite girl in the whole world. I had no idea I needed you until you arrived. I can’t believe I was so nervous about having a little girl in the house; although I know we have the hormonal teenage years ahead of us, these first three years are nothing like I thought they would be. They have been full of wonder and joy that only a very new soul can bring. Our entire family needed that. Your dad and I had some rough patches, and your brothers are very old souls. You came in as the caboose of our family with all the fascination of a brand new soul.

it is getting VERY hard to get a non-blurry picture of you since you are ALWAYS moving!

I told you your birth story the other night. You laughed and laughed at the idea that you used to live in my belly. Then you asked why I was crying. I didn’t realize until I told you the story how much you have healed me, my sweet daughter. Eddie’s birth traumatic in so many ways; I suffered a long time after. Charlie’s birth showed me how it could be, and when he and I were left alone in our hospital room I whispered to him, “you are not the last.”

When you were born, Alice, everything was how it should be. I knew the minute you snuggled into my arms that you were the caboose–our last baby. But I wasn’t sad. I was filled with joy. Everything about you has been easier–getting up for those middle of the night feedings, putting you to bed at night, even playing has been easier with you. I have felt more natural in my role as your mommy, than I have ever felt before.

Age three is a tough year; I’m not going to lie. I know this because I have been through it with your brothers. This is the year you will grow to be a big girl; you will shed all the baby parts: the boppy (pacifier) will go to the Boppy Fairy and you will (hopefully) potty train. By the time this rotation around the sun is over, you will be be a big girl all ready to go to school. I would be 100% lying to you if I said that I was all excitement about this. You will hear this a lot, but you are the last one. You are my last baby. My last toddler. And now my last Little Kid. It’s hard to let go of a time that was so cute and so much fun, and admit that our entire family is done with those stages.

But LOOK AT YOU! You are such a happy little squish! You are so full of joy, that it’s impossible to stay sad! Since that first day, everything grey in my life has been made sunny by your face, your smile, your deep chuckle. You are the definition of delight, and to experience each new phase with you is nothing short of wonderful. You have a BIG personality and the facial expressions to match. You make us all laugh each day.

At age three, here are some things about you:

  • You love the color pink. LOVE IT. When asked what you wanted for Christmas? Pink! For your birthday? Pink! All pink, all the time.
  • Your favorite toys are your baby dolls, but specifically your Bitty Baby who you have named “Baby-cita”

  • You call me “Mommy-cita” and have made up a song that goes, “Mommy-cita went to town, EIEIO!” that you sing often and loudly.
  • You call Daddy either “DA DEE” or “DAD DOOOOO!”
  • You think you want to do everything your brothers do–like play in the snow–until you realize you don’t like to be uncomfortable (for instance you were instant that Santa would bring you snow pants and boots, but when you got them, you realized that snow is cold, and refused to go out in it).

  • You LOVE books.
  • You love to sing and dance.
  • You LOVE shoes and accessories and anything fancy.
  • You love to play dress up and pretend, and you are a wee bit bossy about it.

  • You love to do whatever I am doing which includes dressing the same, putting on pretend make-up, cooking, reading…you are my little shadow.
  • You hate when we tell you “no,” and will cry and pout and try to wait us out. Your stubbornness runs deep.
  • You will sit in your room to cry, and then come out to tell us that you are “done crying” or “ready to be nice.”
  • You are my pickiest eater…by FAR.
  • You love candy and sweets and carbs.

  • You favor me over your dad lately, which is weird for me because at this age both of your brothers favored your dad.
  • You are our most affectionate child–you love hugs and snuggles and holding hands and giving kisses
  • You love to count and can get up to twelve before starting to repeat numbers or make stuff up.
  • You tell me often that you are a “strong girl” and then you show me your muscles.
  • You never, ever call Charlie “Charlie;” it is ALWAYS “Birdie.”
  • Your favorite food other than candy is breakfast carbs like pancakes or french toast or muffins or cinnamon rolls or donuts.

Alice, you not only make our family complete, you make us better. We are a better version of The Sluiters with you as a part of us. I hope we can make your third birthday as beautiful and magical as you are, my sweet girl.

I love you so so much,



Snippets of Time

My favorite part of life is catching a little one-on-one time with each of my kids.

Eddie wants me to be happy. He wants to make me laugh. He loves identifying as a book and writing nerd just like I do. Tonight we cuddled up on the couch to finish a chapter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before he had to go to scouts. He likes to sit close–it’s the only time he wants to snuggle.

At nearly eight-and-a-half he is getting to be so much fun to have discussions with. He is the perfect mix of innocent naivety and old soul. He asks really, really good questions, and he has amazingly wise theories on things.

Tonight, after Alice was in bed, but before Cortney got home from scouts with Eddie, Charlie and I curled up on the couch and watch cat videos together for a half hour.  He wants to be warm, cozy, and safe. At five-and-a-half he still likes to be carried and held. He is fiercely independent, but desperate to remain my baby boy.

Charlie choose me to read his nightly Just Right Library book to each night. Learning to read delights him in ways that fill my heart. Words are beginning to come alive for him, and even though I went through the same thing with Eddie, it’s like Charlie and I now share a secret of some sort.

He watches and sees all. And knows more than you think he does.

Alice is so girly, I almost do not know how to mother her. She loves pink and flowers and twirling and baby dolls. She is my most affectionate child by far with her hugs and “I love you’s”.  She is also incredibly possessive and bossy.

The other morning, though, she was playing “bad guys Legos” with Charlie’s batman action figure and small Lego vehicles making up stories as she went. She is girly, but not afraid to demand everything her brothers have and do.

She hears every word you say. And will repeat it in context and correctly.

Most of the time they are together in some capacity. Most of the time I am refereeing arguments and breaking up fisticuffs.

But the thing is, these three are amazing little people who really love each other more than anything. And I am thankful for each one of them and their individual personalities.