my own personal cheerleader

When she was my age, my mom was done having kids.

Her oldest was was in third grade.

Her middle child was in kindergarten.

Her youngest was a year old.

When she was my age, my mom was about to lose the only job she ever knew…at a small corner grocery store.

She would be forced to learn a new skill.

I wouldn’t know how she felt about doing new things…finding something else…finding a fit.

I was eight.

My world was myself.

In a couple short years my mom would take a huge leap of faith.  With a child in middle school, one in elementary school, and one still at home, she would enter college.

I hardly remember it.  It was a blip on my radar.

My mom sat at the kitchen table every single night pouring over her studies after her day of working and mothering.  After making dinner, clearing the table, and doing the dishes.  After carting us here and there.  After 101 errands.

Every night.

In my mind that was our normal then.

But I am sure she felt anything but normal.  She was a thirty-something sitting in freshman classes with 18 and 19 year olds.   She was stomping across campus instead of sitting behind a desk in an office.

For now.

She still had time to quiz us on vocabulary words or help us with math or watch us create a class project.

She still made our lunches and our beds.

She still brought home more than part-time work from her job.

She still made snacks for our class parties and got groceries every week and made a full dinner every night by 5:00pm

Dishes didn’t stack up.

Dusting didn’t get ignored.

Vacuuming didn’t get skipped.

And my mom?  Earned a 3.98 GPA when she finally graduated at 43 with her accounting degree.

I could blame her for my idea of what motherhood is, but I don’t.

I thank her for it.

Because even though I can’t possibly live up to that ideal that I have in my head?  She has taught me so many things.

Every single time I’ve felt like quitting?

I didn’t.

Every time I thought a class or a task or a new adventure or motherhood was too hard?

I studied/pushed/tried/loved harder.

Every time I thought I couldn’t possibly do it all?

I did.

And my mom still cheers me on the entire way…usually with homemade cookies.

yes, I had blond hair. and yes, my mom is still this pretty.


meatloaf…smeatloaf…double beatloaf…i HATE meatloaf*

Last week I was informing the entire world few people that pay attention to me on twitter that I was cooking dinner.  Seems like there were quite a few of us making meatloaf that night.

I hate meatloaf.

Or…I USED TO hate meatloaf.

I mean, I hate my MOM’S meatloaf (it’s ok, she knows).  The meatloaf of my childhood was a loaf o’ burger with onion and green pepper chunks in it with ketchup baked on top.


So when Cort told me years ago that he wished I made meatloaf?  I cried a little was determined to find one that didn’t suck.  Ok, I wasn’t so much determined as I was skeptical that one could actually exist.

Enter Real Simple Magazine.

People?  If you do not know of this wonderful magazine you are missing out on some of the best tips, cutest decor ideas, and deliciously easy recipes EVER.

Anyway…what was this post about?

Oh yeah, meatloaf.

So one day as I am paging through the gloriousness that is Real Simple, I come across a meatloaf recipe.  I am about to blow it off as another disgusting concoction, when I notice there are no chunks of yuck in it.

I  have now made this meatloaf about 247982734927 times.  It’s that good.

It’s the perfect comfort food, although probably not the best “hey let’s lose a thousand pounds” food.

Anyway…here it is:

mmmm….the only yummy meatloaf in the WORLD.

You know what I think makes it yum?  There is not nasty Ketchup involved.  It’s BBQ sauce that you see right there.  And there are no chunks…but there IS shredded Italian cheese in there.  Oh yes, friends.  CHEESE.

Oh Sweet Baby Ray’s…how I love you.

I SUPPOSE you think I should share the recipe at this point, huh?  Well Ok. Because I like you.  You have such a nice face, and all.  Here it is:

1.5 pounds of ground beef

1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese

1 envelope of dry onion soup mix

2 eggs

1.5 cups of Italian bread crumbs

1/3 cup of water

mix together and form a loaf.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes

take out and top with BBQ sauce

Bake for 15 more minutes or until done all the way through

let me show you again…mmmmm….

I tend to serve comfort food with, yes, more comfort food.  Mashed potatoes.  Green bean casserole.  Anything that will make my tummy feel full and warm and my eyed drowsy.

why yes, those ARE premade mashed potatoes. I had to draw the line SOMEWHERE.

I whipped up this dinner in less than an hour’s time from start to finish after work one day.  And then I had leftovers for a few lunches to work.

Is there a more perfect meal?

The answer is no.  No there is not.

You’re welcome

*bonus friendy friend points if you can name where I stole borrowed the title from.


We live in West Michigan.

We get snow in the winter. “Lake effect” snow.

The kind of snow that falls in HUGE flakes and sticks to everything.

Snow that turns a crispy icey texture when a sudden “deep freeze” hits us.

Snow that blankets the world we live in and covers all living things for a long winter’s rest.

Snow that doesn’t close schools because we’ve seen worse.

but that can put a halt to everything with just the right direction of the wind.

We get the kind of snow you see in Christmas movies.

We like to hibernate in the winter in these parts.

A photo journal entry…show us what winter looks like in your town.

We Can Be Quiet

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night…

The day of our wedding was great.  It was very…us.  We are quiet a squirrelly, rambunctious couple.  We like to bring the fun.  We laughed through our whole ceremony.  People still talk about all the laughing and chatting and smiles that went on.  In fact, we wrote our own vows.  Mine were all serious and lovey.  Isn’t that how vows are supposed to be?  Apparently not.

Cort’s rhymed.  That is A.  B is that they were also funny.  Those who could hear (they forgot to mic him) we rolling.  In fact, our wedding was anything but quiet.

The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago
Turned around backward so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse

We were (are!) best friends. The group of friends and the events of our life that got us to the alter are nothing less than a rambunctious muddle of awesome.

We have so much history.  We have so much love.  We have so much us.  It was very fitting that we were not quiet and solemn up on that alter.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night…

But we can slow it down.  We can be quiet and loving.  Our minister slowed us down and (unexpectedly) had us recite the traditional vows as well.

I’m not sure all these people understand,
It’s not like years ago…

We were glad we did.  But even gladder that we had said our own to each other.  And since we weren’t sticking to ordinary anyway?  We picked a first song that no one knew (well, a few did, but that is because they rock our socks).

These things they go away,
Replaced by every day.

I had to specially give our DJ our song by R.E.M for our first dance.  It was magical.  It was slow.  It was love.  And it was us.

Nightswiming, remembering that night,

This dance? Was when I really felt like I had said, “I do”.

And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?

But because we are not quiet 99% of the time?  We also had another very special song.  Just for us to be introduced to as Mr. and Mrs. Sluiter for the first time.  And it was?  RAMBUNCTIOUS!   The song?  Big Pimpin’ by Jay-Z. Yeah, people still talk about it.

And that song?  Helped with the atmosphere for the rest of the night!  I mean, I bet YOU didn’t have someone announce his intent to run for the presidency in the next election? (he did not run, by the way.  Don’t worry, I did not have McCain or Obama at my wedding.  Apparently is was just his political unrest and the beer talking.  Mostly the beer.)

But for that four minutes and fourteen seconds?  It was just us.  Quiet.

The photograph reflects,
Every streetlight a reminder,
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night. 

Song lyrics from Nightswimming by R.E.M.

Mama's Losin' It

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