Looking Forward to 2018

For 10 years I have been doing a sort of year-in-review here on the blog. This year I flat out just didn’t feel like it. I opened up my computer exactly twice yesterday and did nothing but close it again.

2017 wasn’t a particularly bad year for our family, but it sucked globally and nationally. I just didn’t feel like thinking about it again. But the bigger thing was that I had a terrible attitude yesterday. So much so that I found myself getting overly irritated when Charlie dropped one of his brand new walkie talkies in the toilet to the point of almost crying. Then I made Cortney chuckle with my over-the-top annoyance over professional bowlers who bowl two-handed (he was watching some tournament. I don’t even know.)

There were positive things I could have been doing, but instead I took a nap.

I should have just stayed off social media. I know better. When my attitude goes south, watching other people have fun without me is not really the way to feel better.

It’s like I wanted to wallow.

At dinner, though, I served up snacks–pizza rolls, mozzarella sticks, cheese and meat tray with crackers, chili cheese dip and tortilla chips, grapes, and sprite in fancy glasses with a drop of grenadine for extra fancy–and we talked about what would be coming in 2018. It pulled me out of my funk, so I thought I would share.

In 2013 Cortney and his business partners opened a new business together: Trigon Steel Components. It’s something Cortney has really been preparing for, albeit unknowingly, his whole life. Since middle school, Cortney has been working on and off in the steel truss business, and when he was approached to buy into starting a new business, it all just clicked.

In the first week of 2018, Trigon will move into their new building that was finished just weeks ago. This is a huge deal for Cortney and his partners. In less than five years, they went from not existing, to growing out of their small building due to demand for trusses and their expansion into doing wall panels as well. We are super proud of Cortney and can’t wait to see where this takes the company!

This week I will also submit my application for the PhD program I am hoping to start, but the newest development is that I will actually be starting my first class in January rather than wait until the fall! I have a very unique opportunity to take part in a seminar on teaching climate change that I can defer paying for until I am accepted in the program. The professor is one whom I have taken methods classes with as an undergrad and in my Master’s program. I’m pretty excited to start this new adventure and be a student again!

I actually started my MA program the same way: taking a class in January while I applied to the program and then officially started in the fall of 2003. I graduated from that program 10 years ago this year.

This is the year Cortney and I both turn forty. I’m first this March. I’m actually looking forward to it right now. Probably because we have a fun weekend in Chicago to celebrate planned with some of our favorite people. I’ll actually be in class the evening of my birthday, but that seems fitting?

The kids turn 3, 6, and 9 this year, something that freaks me out because it means no babies/toddlers at all anymore. But it also means we are on the verge of having a tween. It’s the last year we have them all in single-digits, and that makes me both excited and a bit sad.

Cortney and I will celebrate 13 years of marriage this year. Lucky 13. I don’t know what we will do yet, but I can tell you it will not be an expensive gettaway since we are paying for grad school again. Ha! And that is Ok. Someday we will go somewhere with poolside drink service. Until then, we will dream and save our pennies.

In a week I’ll start the second semester of my 15th year of teaching. We have the coolest stuff planned and I hope to have the time to share some of it with you.

I don’t do resolutions, but I did set my reading goal for 50 books in 2018. I met my goal of 40 books last year, but this year I am counting anything I read for the first time including children’s books I read with the kids that are new-to-me (which means my first finished book of 2018 is the 3rd Dogman book, but whatever). I also hope to write here at least once a week in addition to once a month at The Educator’s room.

Plus my homework. HOMEWORK!

Here we go, 2018.


Lots of people like to choose one word for the new year. The idea is that that one word guides your whole year.

I have never participated because all the words people choose–things like courage, love, hope, inspiration, etc–feel sort of cliche and not very applicable to me. Don’t get me wrong, people have done lovely things by focusing on these words. They are great words! Just not for me.

As usual, I was just going to start 2016 like any Friday without work: cleaning some things and reading some things and napping. While I napped, though, I dreamed about how I tend to have knee-jerk reactions that I don’t necessarily keep to myself. My worst offense is text messages or emails received.  But I am equally bad about yelling at my kids or making snap judgments about others.

I need to practice “wait time”.

I need to let time pass before reacting.

I need to pause.

As a teacher, I know the importance of the pause. In the wait, something is created. In the pause after I ask a question, thoughts are happening. I let one hand raise. I wait. Another couple go up. I wait some more. A few more hands will raise. Then we proceed. But in the pause others were creating opinions, thoughts, guesses.

In my life I don’t stop and wait enough.

When Charlie smacks Eddie for no reason for the eleventy billionth time, I don’t pause. Instead I grab and arm, I yell about being kind (yes, I see that ridiculousness too. Yelling about kindness. Oh, Katie.) I hustle to time out not waiting for any explanation–in fact, I discourage it by adding, “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!”

When I get an email at work (or I suppose from anyone, but really real people rarely email me except for at work…which is a whole other issue. Probably.)  suggesting something I don’t immediately fall in love with, I have a tendency to fire back defensively. I don’t walk away, think it over, let it settle in, and then form a logical, rational response. In fact, my email back is probably too long, includes too many exclamation points, and has an ALL CAPS word or two thrown in for emphasis since the reader can’t see me talking with my hands. It’s no wonder people avoid emailing me.

I know most of these snap reactions are fueled by my anxiety, and I would probably be a lot less stressed out all the time if I could find a way to reel those outbursts in a bit.

That is why I am choosing the word “pause” for 2016.

But not just for the bad stuff!  Yes, I want to pause before I raise my voice at my kids (and hopefully not raise my voice at them), and I want to take time before responding to people on social media or email. But I also want to pause in conversation. I want to pause in work. I want to pause in small moments.

I want to step back from the crazy after-school-routine of emptying backpacks and lunch boxes and sorting homework from returned papers and planners. I want to pause and talk to Eddie about his day while I look at him. In the face. Rather than give him monosyllabic responses while I dump carrot stubs and squishy rejected grapes from his lunchbox, I want to sit down next to him and see his eyes when he tells me about something that made him happy, or watch his face as he tells me about a frustration or disappointment. I want to hug him rather than mutter, “I’m sure you’ll do better tomorrow.”

I want to take a breath when I am feeling overwhelmed. I want to be able to pause and lie down when too much is happening in my head. I don’t want to plow forward just because I feel like a “normal” person would. I want to be quiet and listen to what I need.

The pause has always frightened me a little. I’ve always felt that I needed to fill the silence, react immediately, be more “on the ball”.  I thought that is what was expected of me.

But that is not working for me.

And so I will pause this year.

cautiously optimistic

I have always said resolutions are stupid.

They always sound so…stock. Hackneyed.  Trite.  Unoriginal.  And then? They are forgotten before January is over.

There is a reason gyms give you the first month free.  They know you’ll be lured in with “free”, then pay for more because “free” rocked, but then never come back.  Easy money.

So for the 35th year in a row I wasn’t going to make a single resolution.  It’s not that I am perfect or that there aren’t aspects that can’t be worked on, but well, I don’t enjoy setting myself up for failure.

I don’t like to be called a pessimist, by the way.  I don’t just assume everything bad will happen.  I prefer the label “cautiously optimistic.” I mean, my glass is half-empty because I drank the first half, not because life sucks.  I like to believe the waitress will probably come back and refill it.  But she might not.  And I will be prepared for that disappointment and be happy for that delicious first half while looking forward to the half I have left.

2013 is the year I will turn 35.  For some reason that is already bringing some serious introspection to my brain.  But with this new year and this big birthday, I am feeling cautiously optimistic.

I have, in fact, let myself resolve on some specific plans of action.  That’s right…I made some resolutions this year.

First, I have been thinking a lot about this blog.

Next week Sluiter Nation will get a shiny new look.  I’m working on making my pages match without looking too similar.  I am reworking my About Section so that besides giving our story in a nutshell, it also effectively spells out my intent for this space: To be a legacy.  To be the stories of our life when we are no longer here.

My resolutions for this space are to tell our stories honestly.  To put more of our beliefs and practices here for our children to know about.  To talk more openly about topics I wish my parents had talked about with us…or at least written down for us to pour over as adults.  To remember that when I write about us, I am writing about US. It has nothing to do with what others think of me/us or what they choose to do.  To be honest anyway.

I’ve also been thinking about my job and my education.

Today I applied for another Master’s Program.  I already have a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education with a major in English and minor in Spanish.  I also have a Master’s Degree in English with an Emphasis on Teaching.  This program would give me a Master’s in Educational Technology/Media Center Specialty.  Not only is technology something I am interested in, it will also open a few more options for me in my field be it training other teachers or moving from the classroom into the Media Center someday.

Most importantly it will help me get the 30 credits needed to get to the top of my pay scale at work, which my family desperately  needs.

I applied to begin in the fall of 2013, so that gives me time to figure out financial stuff and put away some bucks so we can afford to pay for it.  Also, the classes are almost all online, so I won’t have to spend more physical time away from my family than I already do.

Of course, my relationships have been on  my mind too.

I want to spend more quality time with my friends.  It’s not that I need to go out more or pack more into my busy schedule, but I do want to spend time with those who are important to me.  I have a handful of close girl friends who I just want to get coffee with once in a while.  Or lunch on a Saturday.  It doesn’t have to be hours and hours. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate play date.  I just want time to chat and catch up.

I want to date my husband.  I miss being alone with him.  Alone in a restaurant or a movie or out shopping.  Getting in an out of the car without unbuckling car seats or lifting babies.  Having a conversation that isn’t interrupted.  Saying the inappropriate thing we are both thinking, but can’t say in front of the littles.  And then giggle madly about it.

Lastly, I have been thinking about me.

I need to find time to spoil myself.  And not with coffee treats or cookies.  That just ends up making me feel bad about myself.  No, instead of eating my feelings, I need to use some of the bits of money I make here and there with freelance writing and ad revenue and treat myself to a pedicure.  Or go to the library to actually just read.  Or let myself buy that pair of skinny jeans I am afraid of, but really REALLY want.

Not because I met some goal or resolution, but because I need to like myself. I need to remember how it feels to just be Katie.  To just smile about things that are a wee bit selfish because they make me happy for me.

I need to feel better about me.  Maybe that means cleaning up my diet even more or taking the time to hit the gym or maybe it just means going to bed a bit earlier.

Maybe it’s all of these things and more.  But this year I will try those things and find what makes me feel good.  I will pay attention to my mind and body and learn to take on or turn down opportunities depending on what my gut (and tear ducts) say.

And I will moisturize.  Because dang it, I am sick of dry hands, feet, and elbows.

2013 is going to be great.

I am cautiously optimistic about it.

2013 looks pretty good from here.

2013 looks pretty good from here.