Things that Begin in the Fall…

Although January is the official start of a new year in our culture, and spring is usually representative of new beginnings – for many, the REAL start to a new year is fall. Many things begin in the fall. School, for one, starts over in the fall (as you can read in the blog below), but there are other things that start over with the change of the leaves that affect us here in Sluiter Nation. One of those is the new bowling season – that’s right –


This season marks Cortney’s seventh year in league bowling. He started off bowling at Zeeland Lanes with a bunch of friends just for fun. Over the years he has bowled in leagues at both Zeeland Lanes and Century Lanes. He’s participated in many tournaments including state and – a few times – nationals. What started out “just for fun” became quite competive for Cort. Every year he sets new goals for himself. In fact, in the past 3 years, he has gotten rings for rolling a 300, 299, and a 298 respectively!

He has also gotten awards for highest average AND having over a 700 series!

This year his goal is to get an 800 or better series! He’s met all of his goals that he has set for himself so far – and he’s off to a pretty good start this year already! This year, after our friend Jeremy moved to Chicago leaving a spot on the team open, Cort recruited my brother, Chris. This past week they had their first night of bowling. Chris rolled a 502 series – his self-proclaimed best series ever! Cortney started the season strong by rolling a 259, a 279, and 232 for a 770 series. 30 more pins and his has his goal for the year already!
Another thing that starts over in the fall is the NFL football season, and for the second year in a row, Cortney is managing a Sluiter Family League made up of Cortney and myself, my dad, both of my brothers (Chris and Mike), both of Cort’s siblings and their significant others (Cody and Liz and MacKenzie and Dave) and our friend Ken – who is just like family 🙂

Fantasy football is fun because it makes a lazy Sunday a bit more interesting. It can even distract me from doing my homework or grading papers!

Last week was the first week. I was matched up against Cortney – and I am not going to lie – he left a size 10 footprint on my behind. It was ugly. But this week I am paired against Kenzie – and so far, so good!

Lastly, fall is a time to start new projects. When the temperatures began to cool off, Cortney picked up a shovel and went to work behind our house. The goal? To put in a patio under our deck for our walk-out basement. Cort has put a lot of work into his hole – and I think it looks pretty darned good!

Fall is busy for us here in Sluiter Nation. Besides bowling, Fantasy Football, and Cortney’s hole out back, I have started my graduate class at Western Michigan University for the semester (Research and Scholarship in Teaching), and I have taken on the positions of senior class co-adviser AND the MEAP/MME/ACT testing coordinator for Wyoming Park High School. Cortney is entering his 3rd month as a non-smoker and doing GREAT – he has not cheated even once!

We appreciate these opportunities that we have been blessed with and look forward to excelling as we do our best! Thank you to all our family and friends for being so supportive as we overwork ourselves as usual!

Back To School!

On his way to work this morning, Cortney saw lots of back to school action! Moms everywhere were forcing their kids into the front lawn to take that “First Day of ____” picture by trees and school buses. Not to be outdone, Cort insisted that I also get my bag and lunchbox and stand by our tree for my first day of school pose. Don’t I look special? I didn’t want Cortney to feel left out, so I captured his sad goodbyes to me as I actually left the house to be productive after my long summer of lazing around the house. He looks REALLY sad, doesn’t he? Hmmmm….that smile must be hiding all the pain inside.
I did snap a few shots of my classroom. It’s good to be back in my nice, neat little room 161. Right smack in the middle of senior hallway. I was greeted this morning with a barrage of “hey Mrs. Sluiter!” “How was your summer?” “Aren’t you glad to be back?” “You missed me, right?” “YES! I have your class again!” All of these things make me feel good about my job. And while I appreciate the time off in the summer. The kids are the reason I come back every fall instead of finding myself an office job where I could sit in a cubical. I mean, doesn’t this look much more cheery than a cubical? (Although, no offense – I’ve seen some of your cubicals out there, and I have to admit, some of you do a decent job at attempting to make three partitions arranged to be walls look cozy.)

Now it’s time to fill up those seats and do some LEARNING!

The Smell of Freshly Sharpened Pencils and Teenage Fear

It is official: I am back to school! After 3 LONG days of meetings, meetings, and even more meetings, I am finally sitting behind my desk in my classroom (on my NEW computer – thank you WPS) and I am realizing that I am SO not ready for 150 shiny 11th grade faces to pass through my room next Tuesday! I have gotten information overload on everything from ACT scores to how to use Windows Vista; from classroom procedure techniques to new gradebook procedures. I have grammar, vocab, literature, writing assignments, and syllabi floating around in my brain and none can find their way out into some sort of logical plan for the Quarter.

Part of this is my own fault. If you are a faithful reader, you know very well that I spent most of my summer having fun rather than drawing up lesson plans. You know that I spent more time at the beach than in my classroom. Well, I am here now! I didn’t think I was ready to go back. I kiced and I screamed. I protested and denied, but it came anyway. And you know what? I am actually OK with it. I really am.

Don’t get me wrong, I have fallen asleep in the chair two evenings in a row from sheer exhaustion. My body is NOT used to getting up at 5:30 am and working non-stop until after 4:00 pm, but after seeing a couple students in the hall today, I am ready to see a couple more 🙂

Am I ready for the on-slaught of excuses for lack of homework? Or how about the deluge of complaining about our new grading policy, our new attendance policy, and anything else teenagers can think of? What about saying things over and over and over and over to still hear, “wait! You never told us that! I didn’t know that was due TODAY!”

No, I never love those things. But there is something about new beginnings – the chance to start over again each fall. There is something about the smell of the freshly waxed hallways and the new books being taken out of boxes to be stamped and numbered. There is something wonderful about a new book being opened for the first time – that crackling sound inviting you to dig in! There is something about the freshly washed white board that just craves a new dry erase marker. There is a greatness in the sound of the office testing out the bell schedule. There is something wonderful about bags of back to school supplies and crisp, new posters on the wall. There is something invigorating and even inspiring about the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and teenage fear.