Top Ten Tuesdays: Sluiter Nation Fix-ups

This week’s Top Ten is all about the things Cort and I would like to do to our house aka the physical Sluiter Nation.

We bought the Sluiter Nation casa exactly six years ago.  I moved in and six months later, after a lovely wedding, Cort moved in with me.

We have made some improvements on our house, which we bought new, but not very many.  Most deadlines we gave ourselves came and went because of lack of money or time.

Whatever the reasons, we still have a list of things we would like to do…aside from pack up and move to a larger place.

#10: I want to NOT see our weird neighbors.  Or more specifically, I want them to not see us.

See that larger “shed” back there?  Yeah, that belongs to our weird neighbor, Scary Terry.  We watched him ignore the instructions when he built that thing.  He had left over parts.  Also?  The roof caves in every winter.  To “get ready for winter”?  He goes inside and bangs the dents out.  This is the least of his weird.  I want a fence.  A tall one.  That you can’t see through…although you have to admit my drawing is fantastic.

#9 While we are outside…I would like to landscape the backyard a bit.It’s hard to see right now due to the snow, but we have a great backyard.  Cort has mad lawning rearing skills, yo.  I would really love to have a berm or something that, um, hides that large pole which is technically on our property.  Also a nice little flower bed next to the patio would be quaint.

#8 A Second Bathroom.

We have been excited about this bathroom since we moved in.  We even got the matching stuff for it as a wedding gift.  Five and a half years ago.  I have paint colors picked out.  I am pretty sure they don’t make the color I picked anymore.  Nevertheless I want this done.  WE want this done.  Before we have to have 12 adults and 1487979874232602 kids at our house this coming summer.  Yeah.  One bathroom won’t hold all that.

#7. A Big Boy bedroom for Eddie

Again, technically this room has been a “room in progress” for the past six years.  You can see how far we have gotten. Stuff we don’t want to look at or think about live here.  But instead?  We would love for our little man to live here.  Some changes may need to happen.  Like why do we have all those boxes?  yeah, I don’t know either.  And please ignore the fashionable tacky dust ruffle that is serving as a curtain so neighbor kids (aka Scary Terry’s offspring) don’t come and take a gander at our treasures crap.

#6 Organization

I didn’t even bother to spruce this picture up.  I mean, you can see my unmentionables hanging there to dry.  I think that spruces it up all on it’s own.  Anyway, this is our laundry room/storage room/my office.  It is sad.  Granted, it is MUCH more organized than it used to be (see my tubs with the labels for Eddie’s clothes.  Yeah, I am awesome).  We would like to finish this room–not just for looks but for functionality.  We need a shelving system.  We need this room to WORK for many different things.  Right now?  it is sort of a cold, scary place to be.

#5. Speaking of Organization…

I know one of Cort’s big wishes is to finish dry walling the garage and seal the cement.  I know he would like to get some sort of organizational system in here as well since we have a gallon of crap to fit in a pint-sized pail.   Oh…and two new vehicles would be nice too.  Just sayin’.  ya know, if we’re wishing here.

#4. Tile

I just really hate linoleum.  This was put in before we had a chance to choose otherwise.  It’s in our bathroom and entryway too.  I hate it.  I discolors.  It gets funky spots.  It’s just ugly.  Tile, please. (oh and I would also like new carpet.  We put the carpet that is in the basement in after we moved in and it is AWESOME.  I would like that throughout the house.  This “factory” shiz?  Sucks the big one).

#3. A face lift for our side lot

Ok perhaps we don’t need huge crazy flowers and a random happy little family trollop-ping through the yard, but it would be nice to get this cleared of the brush, leveled and then seeded so I can add pretty landscaping later.  Having the yard would just be nice.

#2. A bigger deck…and a way off from it.

Ok this was my craptacular attempt at creating stairs going DOWN from our deck.  As it is right now?  You can only get on and off the deck by way of the slider in our dining room.  Annoying seeing as we created a lovely patio just below with some lovely patio furniture.  However, if your hotdog is being made on the “upper deck” since it’s close to the kitchen, you would have to go inside the downstairs slider, go upstairs, through the kitchen and out to said “upper deck” to get your tasty wiener.  Then you would have to turn around and make this odyssey again to sit comfortably on the patio with your treat.  Now imagine if you forgot to get chips and dip.  Seriously.  it sucks.

Love the deck.  Hate the inconvenience.

#1. A family room we can use as a family

Our family room was the first thing we “finished” when we moved in.  It has soft, squishy carpet, warm colored walls, and awesome art (Pearl Jam and REM concert posters that are custom framed).  But there is just too much crap lying around too.  Take Cort’s Corner, for example.  While I like our desk and printer “stand” much better than what we used to have, there is still just too much lying around to let a toddler loose in here.

And what you can’t see in the top picture is the huge rack of video games and dvds that are just waiting to be pulled off shelves and tossed about.  Something needs to change.  We are super close to this being a great family room.  We just need a little more work put in…this is actually on the To Do list for Christmas break.  And when Cort gets a job (because he SOOO will), we would LOVE to get rid of the ugg-o furniture and get a nice, comfy sectional that we can all pile on for family movie night.  And maybe get a TV from this decade.  Ahem.

We love our little house…we really do…but there are somethings that we would like to make better.

How about you?  Is there anything YOU would change about your house?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Being Grateful

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s easy to fall right back into our old routine.

I mean, I for SURE did not wake up Monday morning feeling as warm and fuzzy and thankful as I did during my five-day break from work.  It’s just much easier to be thankful when the conditions are “right”.

That is why I saved the Top Ten Things I am Thankful for to be posted AFTER Thanksgiving.

After a long Monday of working and herding cats teaching freshman and not sleeping, and not eating properly, I needed to be able to list those things for which I am most thankful.

You see, this weekend, I was all cozy with my Starbucks and my jammy pants snuggled up to my computer with my boys near me.  It is very easy to be thankful in that condition.

Overworked, overtired, and over-grumpy…a wee bit harder.

So here I go…The Top Ten Things For Which I am Most Grateful:

10. Family.

Yes, this is a broad one.  But if I want to get 10 things on this list that aren’t just family?  I need to combine.

I am way blessed to have a huge family.  I had what I considered to be a medium-sized family before getting married.  Now it seems that I can’t bump into anyone in our town without somehow being related or traced to them.  One of my friends calls it 6 degrees to Katie Sluiter.

Plus?  This family is ALWAYS there for us.  ALWAYS.

9. My Parents

My parents have been married for 37 years, and they have always been an excellent model for me of what a marriage should be.  I have always felt grateful to have such caring and involved parents, but even more so since getting a job working with so many students who do not have the luxury of having parents that are around much.  Or since reading blogs of those of you who do not have good relationships with your parents.

I am forever thankful that my parents have shown me what unconditional love looks like.  What never ending support looks like.  What forgiveness looks like.  What hard work looks like.  What being humble looks like.  What giving looks like.

8. My friends in real life

This blog was started for my friends and family.  Most of my friends have moved to different states.  My two best friends since middle school live hours and hours away from me.  The friends I do have that are “local” are still more than 45 minutes away. I don’t have the luxury of just hanging out with any girlfriends for a couple hours without major planning ahead.

But somehow?  No matter how much time, space, or life changes are between us, we are always ALWAYS at the ready for each other.  Even if it means email or facebook rather than being together in real life.

7. My friends in my computer

You all know who you are.  You.  and you.  and you.  and yes, even you hiding back there avoiding being called on.

The people who I have met in the few months that I have been a serious compulsive blogger are invaluable to me.  My life would be so different right now if it wasn’t for them.

There are people in my life who think it is just “weird” that I have friends whom I have never met.  In their minds, I am just in chat rooms all the time (they don’t know what twitter is.  pssst.  not a chat room).  They don’t get it.  And that is ok.  It’s not for everyone.

but for you and you and you and you and you and you and you?  YOU get it. And you read because you have found me and you like what I have to say.  not because you are obligated to do so.

And then?  you support me and love me.

6. my big old bleeding heart

yes, I can be a hard ass when I need to be.  But really?  Inside I am all smooshy.  I am grateful that I can see beyond the bad choices someone makes and see the person.   I am grateful that I can’t just walk past someone struggling.  I’m glad I still “see” the hurt out there–that I haven’t become hardened to it.  I am glad that tears–anyone’s tears–cause my own eyes to sympathy water.  I am so happy that I can “put myself into other people’s shoes” so easily that it keeps me up at night with worry or prayers.  I hope I never lose this.

5. small delights

from warm, microwave popcorn to Cort slipping his hand into mine as we walk into a restaurant, I love all the little things that make life happy.  I hope I never stop noticing things like big puffy snowflakes getting caught in Cort’s eyelashes or the way Eddie imitates cookie monster during the beginning sequence of Sesame Street or the way my mom’s eyes twinkle when she has all of her kids together or the way my dad’s whole body moves up and down with his chuckles when we get him laughing really, really hard.

4. my gifts

I have been blessed with a gift I didn’t know I had.

I have been told over and over again by YOU that I have a “way with words”.  My own mother marveled to me about how she just doesn’t know how I do it.    Cort has told me he really loves to read my “take” on how things in our life happened–how it looked from my perspective.

You guys?  I had no idea I could do this.  I just tell my story the way I would if you were sitting right here with me.  If you means you want to keep coming back?  I will keep doing it.  And I will stop excusing the compliments away.

3. Louis

Yes, my cat.  My almost-17-year-old cat.

Louis came home with me shortly after he was born.  He was a gift from my high school boyfriend.  I was 16 at the time.  Louis has seen me through EVERYTHING!  My first love, my first break-up, high school and college and masters graduations, getting my heart broken, losing loved ones, losing pregnancies, getting married, gaining loved ones, losing jobs, getting jobs, Eddie.

He has been here, faithfully, for more than half of my life.

2. My job(s)

I have come THIS close to losing my job more times than I can count.  This economy in our state coupled with poor funding for public schools (specifically those with a high number of at-risk students), well, SUCKS.  The fact that I not only have my job, but I can work on my prep period AND I have a part-time opportunity at the community college means that I can help my family through our rough patch.

1. My boys

You KNEW that this was going to be on here…at number one.

I can’t fully express how full my life is because of Cortney and Eddie.  Their BEING here–on this planet, in my house, as my family–is beyond my own understanding.  I certainly never did anything to deserve such blessings as them, but I will do my damn best to keep them for ever.  I love you, boys.

Now it’s your turn!  What are you grateful for?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Eddie’s Christmas List

And just like that…it’s Tuesday again!  Time for another Top Ten!

Last week I dazzled everyone with all the things I have found on the internet that I am drooling over hoping to get for Christmas.  This week, I thought I would put the focus on my wee little man.

This week’s Top Ten is…Things on my Wee One’s Christmas List (in no particular order, of course):

10. Cricket Stepper

Clearly with “Eddie” on it instead of “Ernie”.  And I actually already bought this cute piece for Eddie already!  I got it from Baby Butterfly Boutique…my new favorite shop for all things toddler/baby.  This little stool will be perfect for lots of things in his life…getting into a big boy bed someday, standing by the sink to brush his teeth, standing by the toilet to go potty.  I can’t WAIT to get this!  (Oh, and I also bought him this hat as a stocking stuffer).

9. An Activity Table

It doesn’t have to be this one exactly, but I would like one that has chairs and a bin or bins for storage (since storage is scarce ’round these parts).  My idea would be that this table (or one similar) would start out in our basement in the family room and find it’s way to Eddie’s big boy room…once it exists.

8. A play tool bench

Eddie really likes to “help” around the house right now, and he is big into putting things where they go, or copying Cort when he wipes something down or adjusts furniture.  It’s really cute.  I would love if he had his own place to “fix” things.

7. Baby Dino Bib

This little lovely from Bird E Studios would be a great stocking stuffer for the little guy!  I always love for him to look cute when we are out somewhere for a meal, and this little Dino bib would be perfect for when his guitar bib is dirty.

6. Rocking Chair

I searched Etsy and found this lovely little vintage shop and fell in love with this little rocking chair. It would be perfect in our living room and even more perfect for Eddie’s little booty cakes as he watches his morning cartoons.

5. Clothes

Rock on with yo' bad self

Eddie always needs new clothes because I like him to be the most stylish toddler ever presentable when he is in public.  There are tons of clothes he would look quite handsome in from here or here, but he really does need a new Pearl Jam Tshirt.  His baby onsies just don’t fit him anymore.

4. Toy Food/Grocery Cart

For as much as Eddie loves to load up the laundry basket and push it around the house, I know he would fall over and love this cart.  He also really likes to imitate me when I am in the kitchen.  His new thing is to take every. single. baking tool I have, load it into the laundry basket, and movie it around the room.  It’s like his very own food trailer.  A very ghetto food trailer.

3.Sesame Street

Ok, I realize we can’t give the boy ALL things Sesame street, but he REALLY likes it. He doesn’t need stuffed animals or that sort of thing…instead he loves the music.  He LOVES the music on Sesame Street.  I think he would love some of the old seasons of the show or some CDs of the music.

2. Boots/Winterwear

This is Eddie’s second winter and the first that he will be able to go out and enjoy.  The thing is, to do that?  He needs proper outerwear.  His cousin Jack has passed down a couple winter jackets, but he needs snow pants and boots if he is going to use the sled Santa brought him last year!

1. Anything cute and handmade

I found this ridiculously cute little handmade toolbox on etsy in a little shop called Zoogits.  If Eddie doesn’t get a full sized tool bench, getting a set of tools and this little “box” would be almost better.  It’s so cute…and it’s handmade!  I love to support the handmade goods!

There you have it!  The Top Ten Things on Eddie’s Christmas List!  So what items are on your child(ren)’s list?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Things on my Christmas List: Internet Edition

This is the time of year when everyone is making their Wish Lists for the holidays.  Well, it’s the time of year when my whole family (both sides) demand lists from each other so we can find just the perfect thing to make each other smile.

And to make shopping a little easier for them, I have compiled this lovely list of the Top Ten things I have been drooling over have added to my Christmas list this year thanks to the lovely internets.

This list could also help YOU get ideas for YOUR list…or find something perfect for someone ON your list.  Pay attention…some of these little shops?  Have discounts just for your holiday shopping!!

10. “you are my sunshine” necklace – The Vintage Pearl

I have wanted this adorable little necklace since the first moment I ever landed on The Vintage Pearl’s site.  I know I am not the only momma who sings this song regularly to her little guy or gal. I “like” them on facebook, so I am always reminded of how cute this jewelry would look around my neck.

The extra bonus is that Eddie’s birthstone is a pearl, so how perfect would this be with his little name on it?

9. Holiday Body Butter Trio – Pink Bow Bath Boutique

A few months ago I won a tiny tub of Pear Vanilla body butter from Pink Bow Bath Boutique in a blog giveaway.  I fell in love…hard.  I went ahead and “liked” them on facebook, and have been drooling over all the updates on new scents ever since.

This body butter is not overly thick like some I have come across in the past, but it is rich and soft and leaves me with a faint (not over-powering) yummy smell all day…and soft skin!  And my little tub?  Is almost empty!  I need more!

8. Jewelry Hangers – The j.a.r. collection

I have been looking for a good way to hang up all my necklaces that are too long for my jewelry box for some time.  Right now they are a jumbled mess on a candle sconce on the wall.  Not very attractive.  Or functional. So I searched etsy for a million hours short time and found the j.a.r. collection.  I think they are fairly new since I am the third person to like them on facebook, but the cute stuff in their shop?  AWESOME.

These beautiful art pieced that also have hooks for jewelry?  PERFECTION!  We have dark blue walls with white trim in our bedroom and we have accented with primary colors.  These would not only LOOK great, but my jewelry wouldn’t be a clumped mess.  I need want them.

7. Hostess Apron – Phase Three

We don’t do a ton of entertaining, but when we do, I like to look cute.  I remember my Grandma Riemersma always had a hostess apron that she would wear on Thanksgiving and Christmas…one that was a little prettier and more special than her every day ones.   I have plenty of the traditional aprons to help me stay clean while cooking and baking, but I want something cute to put on when people are here.

So I poked around the old etsy and found Phase Three. Oh my word.  It was so hard to choose which apron I loved best. I decided to put the chicken print on my list because it sort of matches our kitchen/dining area colors and I like the the kitschy-ness of it having chickens on it.  Reminds me of my grandma.

6. Hand Knit Hat – Pixiebell

I am in need of a new hat for winter.  But I am sort of particular.  I already have a fig colored scarf with matching fingerless gloves (with a mitten flap) that I love, but no matching hat.  So again, I turned to etsy and asked around on twitter and lo and behold, I was sent to pixiebell.

I fell in love with this knit hat with the visor.  It is slouchy enough not to mess up my hair, but it’s big enough to keep my ears warm.  I love it.  I need it.

5. Rossette Frame – Peggy Ann Design

I am so freaking in love with Peggy Ann Design!  She makes the cutest frames EVER!  I “like” her on facebook just so I can get updates on new frames in her store.

I can ALWAYS use more frames…ALWAYS!  We are forever getting more photographs to put up, and I can’t bring myself to take many of the old ones down, so I just keep filling our space.

My favorite frames are unique ones that I know no one else has.  Unfortunately, I don’t have many of those.  But Peggy Ann Design has the cutest, most unique frames!  The red one above would be REALLY cute in either our living room or our downstairs family room.

And guess what?  Hannah (of Peggy Ann Designs) is so awesome (you can follow her on twitter, by the way), that she is offering YOU a discount for your holiday shopping!  Just enter SLUITER10 at checkout and receive 10% off! Frames are perfect for just about anyone…especially if you put a picture of your little one or your family in it!

4. Pretty Much Anything – Twenty Five Design

Torie of Twenty Five Design happens to be a fun friend AND a sponsor here in Sluiter Nation.  And I happen to love every single darn things she makes.

I own a couple of her headbands (although I always love more), but my recent obsession is this necklace which I WANT!

I would also REALLY like one of these little rosette rings in my stocking.  So cute!  Black is so versatile, but she also has other colors.  I’m not picky…I love them all!

And guess what!  Torie is offering my readers a discount for holiday shopping!!!  Yup, type in SLUITER10 at checkout and receive 10% off!

You can follow Torie on twitter and like Twenty Five Design on facebook, by the way!

3. Spiral Earring – Silversmyth

I met Julie on twitter and immediately fell in love with all the pictures she posted from her shop, Silversmyth.

She and I chatted about her beautiful work and before you knew it, I was ordering a custom-made ring with both mine and Cortney’s birthstones in it.  I love it.

Isn't this beautiful? Julie is so talented!

I always have a hard time finding earrings that I can wear because I have such sensitive earring holes.  I think I own three pairs that I can wear.  So this year, I would like these beautiful spiral lovlies!

And just so you can buy pretties for those on your list (or yourself!), Julie is offering readers a 10% discount!  Just type in SLUITER at checkout! So exciting!

2. Laptop Bag – Gussy

Not only is Maggie of Gussy Sews a fantastic designer/sewer, but she is a good friend! I found her shop via other bloggers, and quickly started following her on twitter, and “liked” her on facebook. After all that?  I found out she graduated from the high school where I teach!  She graduated the year before I started there!  What a small world!

Regardless of how I know her?  The girl’s got talent!  And I want in!  I have this laptop bag on my list–with a red ruffle–because my laptop, my mouse, and my ipod are all red.  It’s a matching thing.  Plus?  This bag?  I 100 times cuter than the boring leather thing I carry now.

And because Gussy is every shade of awesomesauce there is?  She is offering YOU a 15% discount on all YOUR Gussy needs (um…hello…she is offering STOCKINGS now!  Squee!!!!)  Just type in Sluiter15 at checkout for your discount! Everyone needs some Gussy for Christmas, don’t you think?

1. Small Hobo Camera Bag – Gypsy Rose Handbags

This is my love camera.  It is my most prized material possession.  Cortney and my parents chipped in and got it for me for my birthday this past March.  The only thing I don’t have?  A beautiful, safe way to carry it around.

Enter Gypsy Rose Handbags.  Everything in this shop is cute, but I think this small hobo bag is my favorite.  I actually like almost all the fabric choices, but this one would match my Gussy laptop bag (if I get it).  I found it incredibly hard to find a camera bag that I liked…until I found the Gypsy Rose Handbags shop!

This is definitely number one on my list because it’s what I actually need AND want the most this Christmas!

So what about it?  What are your top ten wishes from the internet?  Create a list and link up!  And don’t forget to go shopping with all your new discounts in hand!

Top Ten Things I NEED Each Day


It’s Tuesday again!  That means I have today’s Top Ten list right here!

First let me point out that Top Ten Tuesdays now has it’s own tab up there at the top of the  blog.  This is a place where you can find all of the Top Ten lists that I have done, and where you can find my fancy button.  I also have my cute Top Ten button over in the right side bar.  Over there ——————->

Today’s list is of the Top Ten things I NEED each day. These are the things that without them?  My day goes right down the crapper. So…without further ado and really in no particular order…

10. Coffee

I have a sneaking suspicion that this might just make everyone’s Top Ten list this week.

I need at least one large cup of coffee each day in order to get myself moving.  I usually poor it right before I leave for work and sip it during my 35 minute commute.

If I could drink coffee all day?  I might.  But I don’t have a coffee pot in my classroom and I really don’t trust the water at our school enough to make it.  So I settle for my one cup a day.  You can ask my first hour students–I really do need this.

#9 A Shower

Some people can do just a quick “splash bath” or only wash their hair every few days.

I cannot handle that.  I NEED a shower before I start my day or I am no good.  NO GOOD, I SAY!

I have to stand under that super hot water stream and wash the night sleepies away.  I need to have fresh hair and skin.  I feel smelly all day if I don’t.  Plus?  I value showers WAY more now that I have a child.  I never realized how precious that time is!

#8 My “K” book bag

I got this as a gift for being in my sister-in-law, MacKenzie’s wedding.  It was an awesome gift because it is so practical.

Not only do I love book bags/totes (seriously, I had to do a MAJOR purge because my “collection”, we will call it, dabbled on the line of hoarding), but this one is boxy and square, so it fits my mini Coleman cooler I use as my lunch pail on one side, and my mini Miche purse on the other side.  It’s just right for work!

#7 My Laptop

Just over three years ago, we got me this little guy.  All red and shiny with a matching red mouse (and a matching red case.  And hopefully some day I will have a beautiful Gussy laptop bag with a red ruffle.  sigh…a girl can dream).

This wee little lap top has been a necessity in my life.  I have typed countless essays, articles, posts, tweets, emails, facebook updates, and instant messages.

When my screen died (thankfully it was still under warranty), I thought my days had ended.  Luckily Dell Man came and fixed it lickity split…and it is all like new again.  Happy sighs…

#6 Diet Coke

If I don’t have at least one can of this crack soda a day, I get crazy grumpy.  In fact, I could even forgo my morning coffee and have one of these instead, but I am pretty sure I could not give up having at least one diet coke to drinking coffee.

Whilst pregnant with Eddie, I actually lost my taste for this lovely sweet nectar of the gods.  I am pretty sure it had to do with  my wicked reflux, but still.  It was sad.

I tried to stay away after having Eddie, but Diet Coke’s sweet siren song lured me back in and I am back to a two a day habit.

#5 Sirius Satellite Radio

This was one of the best birthday gifts Cortney ever got me.  We were engaged and I had not only my 35-minute commute (each way) to work, but I was also commuting 60 minutes (each way) to grad school.  It got boring and I got restless.

And Cortney?  He was brilliant.  I could never ever EVER go back to “terrestrial” radio again.  Riding in a car and having to listen to DJs and commercials makes me all hive-ish and antsy.  I would rather ride in silence.

#4 Twitter (more specifically, TweetDeck)

Is it sad that my day sucks if I don’t get on twitter for at least a little while?  Maybe, but I have made so many friends this way.

There are a handful of people on twitter that I feel so connected to that I like to check in with them each day to see how they are doing.  These same people are usually busy checking in with me too.

We share laughs and links and stories and sadness and prayers and well, many, many things.  But most of all?  I find support and strength in numbers on twitter.

#3 My chair

I seek refuge in this chair daily.  Almost every single one of my days ends in this chair.

Eddie and I cuddle and read stories here.

After he goes to bed, I answer emails, blog, check facebook, tweet, read, or just zone out to the TV in this chair.  It is my gateway to bedtime.

#2: My Eddie Bear

I hate days that I don’t get to see Eddie.  My day feels unfulfilled somehow.  I know that all I do is for our family, but when I don’t even get to see my family?  It feels all for naught.

That is why I am ever thankful that Cort is able to pack Eddie up and come visit me every Wednesday after school before I head out to teaching at CC.  It’s usually only about 30 minutes of time in my classroom, but I am thankful for even that little bit.

My days are nothing without my boys.

Which brings me to…

#1:  My Main Squeeze

Cheesy?  Maybe.  But like I said about Eddie, I work so hard for my boys.  If I don’t get to spend time with them, my day feels like a fail–no matter what wonderful things I’ve done for other people.

Cortney is my rock.  It’s a big job–I’m not an easy person to keep grounded–but he does it mostly without complaint.  he keeps our house clean and picked up.  He picks up the parenting when I am not around to do it.  He keeps the bills paid and the doctor’s appointments kept.  He cooks, he cleans, and he is all mine, ladies!

On Tuesdays when I have to go to bed without him (because he has league bowling–which is good!  He deserves time away from us), I get a case of the sads.  I am so used to failing asleep next to him, knowing he has my back though the good days and the bad.

There you have it!  The Top Ten Things I NEED Each Day!

What are the Top Ten things you need for your day?  Don’t be shy!  Link up!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Favorite Children’s Books

It is not a secret that books are a big deal in our house.  A REALLY BIG DEAL! First of all, I am an English teacher, so…duh.

But it goes beyond that.  When I was a kid, I was surrounded by books.  My mom read like it nourished her.  Like books kept her as alive as eating and breathing.  I soaked this in and became the same way.

Most of the kid’s books in our house growing up lived in the bottom drawer of my dresser, but they quickly expanded to a HUGE pile next to my brothers’ bunk beds as well.

I don’t think I went a day without being read to or reading myself.

That is why this week’s Top Ten is so important!

I started reading to Eddie while he was in my tummy. Every book I had I would sit in the nursery and read aloud to him.

So together, Cortney, Eddie and I have compiled the Sluiter Nation Top Ten Favorite Children’s Books (in no particular order):

#10. The Belly Button Book.

This one was voted into the line up by Cortney.  He says, “I am starting to really enjoy reading The Belly Button Book lately.  I like the Naval Academy Hippo.”

This book is pointless and ridiculous.  Just the way we like our kids books around here.

And I don’t thin it is an accident that the first body part that Eddie could point to?  Was his belly button!  Boo-ya for this book.

#9 Where is the Green Sheep?

This is a book I picked up for Eddie when I was visiting my best friend in Chicago.  We went to her favorite little bookstore, The Book Cellar, and I found this little souvenir for my buddy.

I know it comes in just English, but I was stoked to find the bilingual version in a small board book.  I also teach Spanish and I would love for Eddie to at least know some vocabulary and phrases going into elementary school.

Plus this book?  Is cute and funny.  And Eddie kisses the “near sheep” every time.

#8. The Lorax

I have always liked this book, but it is the book Eddie’s cousin, Jack, gave him and he loves to listen to the rhymes and the rhythms this book has.

He is also a fan of pointing out the Lorax on every page.

The book is lengthy and rarely does Eddie sit through it all, but he is still little.  I think it’s great that he chooses this one and sits and listens and participates as long as he does.

#7. Go Dog Go

This was a Cort pick for sure.  He has always loved this book, or, as he says,

“I have always had a fondness for Go Dog Go”  This was the very first one he mentioned when I asked him which books he would want on the list.

The funny part?

We don’t own this book!

I am thinking this will have to be a stocking stuffer for Eddie for sure this year!

#6 Moo Ba La La La

This is one of Eddie’s current favorites.  He is getting really good at saying MOO and OINK and QUACK and MEOW.

The Baa?  Not so much yet.

But he does bring me this book a thousand times a day and point at the correct animals and make their sounds.  And if he can’t?  He points and looks at me until I make it.

#5 Mc Elligot’s Pool

This is one from my childhood.  It is the least known Dr. Seuss book that I am aware of.  Whenever I mention it to anyone, they have no idea what I am talking about.

But it’s one my grandma had in her cupboard.  And my brothers and I begged her to read it to use every time we were over at her house.

For Eddie’s first Christmas?  My brother, Chris, bought him this book.  I love it.

#4 The Monster at the End of this Book

This was another Cort pick.  Lately Eddie has been choosing this book for Daddy to read to him.

It is a hilarious book without a ton of text, but lots of emotion.  It definitely teaches Eddie about reading with emotion and having fun with a book.

Plus?  Grover is cute.

#3 Katy and the Big Snow

This book is one from my childhood. In fact, I took it right along when I moved out of my parents’s house.

I loved this book because it has my name in it…although it is spelled “wrong”.

My mom says this is one of the only books she can remember getting sick of reading to me…to the point that she had to hide it under a bunch of books so I would pick something else.

Hopefully we can get an Ed or Eddie or Edward book to read to our little guy!

#2 The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This one we have in board book form and in paperback.  Eddie has been obsessed lately with the board book…and it shows.  It has gnaw marks on it and the binding is slowly dying from all the folding and carrying he does with it.

He likes to make chomping noises with me as we count what the caterpillar eats each day.

We have even caught him sitting alone pointing at the holes making chomping noises to himself.  It is awesome!

#1 Goodnight, Moon

We read this one a LOT together as well.  Eddie is big into pointing out everything on the page and wanting us to say what it is.

These are the kinds of books that I love.  The ones that I know he likes because he is actively trying to learn new vocabulary.

Plus when we read the “goodnight” parts?  He waves at the book.  Because that is what you do when you say goodnight.  happy sigh…

Want to read more of Eddie’s book picks?  Sure you do!  They are listed here.

So that is it!  Sluiter Nation’s Top Ten Favorite Childrens Books!  Did you see any here that you love?  any new ones you need to check out?

Do you have your own Top Ten List this week?  Don’t be shy!  Grab a button and link up!

Also?  I have no idea why the text box looks like this.  it will be fixed before next week.  For now?  I sleep.

Top Ten Tuesday: Vacation Memories

Since I am in the midst of the longest stretch of work with no break (from Sept 7 until Thanksgiving), I thought an appropriate Top Ten list this week would be vacation memories.

Lately I have been finding myself dreaming of going far, far away with my little family so that we can get some much needed rest and relaxation together.  These dreams have taken me back to some memories I have of traveling with my family, with my husband, with my friends, and with my little family of three.

So here we go….

10. My mom walking off the dock in Pentwater, MI. I was in high school when my family rented a cottage up north in Pentwater, MI, and my parents let me take my best friend, Tonya, along with us.  This particular cottage didn’t have any private beach, but it did have a private dock that had a lovely wide end to it for sunning and swimming and just having fun in the water.  The first day we were there, my brothers, parents, Tonya, and I were headed out to the dock to hang out.  Everyone was preoccupied with what they were doing.

Apparently my mom was so preoccupied, that she didn’t  notice that the dock ended and she walked right off of it.  She tried to play it off like she jumped in, saying things like, “whew!  it’s hot out!  this water feels SO good!”  But Tonya had watched her do it and was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe.  My mom being totally busted…and soaking wet…was pretty hilarious.

9. Buffalo with my fiance. The year before Cort and I were married we took a trip to New York state to visit friends (oh hey, Phil and Liz!!) who lived in Rochester at the time.  Before we got there, though, we wanted to stop for a couple nights in Buffalo.  I wanted to go to the zoo–which was talked up on their website as being the third oldest zoo in the nation, having elephant washing, giraffe feeding, and camel riding–and Cort wanted to see Niagara Falls (even though I

Monkeys at the Buffalo Zoo

told him it’s just a lot of water).

This story could be a whole post, but I will boil it down to this:  Buffalo Zoo?  Lame.  We did not get to feed any giraffes, wash any elephants, or ride any camels.  We set aside a whole day for a zoo we walked int 20 minutes.  And Niagara Falls?  Cort agreed it was just a lot of water.

But we had fun laughing at our misfortune, AND we had a super time once we got to Rochester!

8. Spring Break in college. The one and only time I ever went on a spring break trip was my sophomore year in college.  A group of friends (Go Broncos!!) and I took a plane (my first jet ride ever) to St Petersburg, FL for a week-long stay.  Every day we sat by the pool and tanned.  Most of us were under 21, so we didn’t do a lot of night life, but it didn’t matter.  We had so much fun just hanging out!  And since there were five of us and only two queen-sized beds?  We rotated the person who slept on the floor. It was just plain fun and crazy.

7. Florida with my family. About four years before the spring break trip to Florida, my family took us all to Orlando, FL.  It was one of the first “big” trips my family ever took together (we usually just rented cottages for a week).  We drove the 24 hours there as a family in a van.  I have lots of hilarious memories from this trip, but one that has to do with me was when we were in the Magic Kingdom and I (an almost-sophomore in high school) was SO crabby, my mom actually made me take a time out!  While my dad and my brothers enjoyed Thunder Mountain?  I was stuck on a bench sipping a diet coke until I could “improve my mood.”

6. Tigers baseball game with my family. We have been to MANY Tiger Ball games together as a family, but one in particular sticks out to me because I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. BE. THERE.

My family had just gotten down with a trip that included Cedar Point and a drive-thru safari (a WHOLE different memory), we were making our way back through Michigan via Detroit because my parents had gotten us tickets to see a game.  People?  As a 16 year old teenager?  I was done.  I did NOT want to be on this trip anymore.

To show my displeasure, I ridiculed (loudly) everything about the game, I insisted on showing off my new Spanish skills (thank you, high school Spanish II) by ordering my refreshments only en espanol, and I targeted the poor kid who was sitting in front of us.

That was probably the most obnoxious thing that I did.  This kid was a total Ken Griffey, Jr fan and every time Griffey did something great, he would say, “ROOOOUTINE hit for Griffey!”

It was that annoying.

So I started quietly heckling.  Finally, Griffey struck out and I leaned forward and yelled, “ROOOOOOOUTINE HIT FOR GRIFFEY!”

Dining at the Experience Music Project

The kid did not say another word the entire game.

5. Seattle with my hubby. One year after being married, Cortney and I decided to fly (my second time on a jet) to Seattle–the home of his favorite band, Pearl Jam–for a week-long vacation.  He didn’t want to be around for the “anniversary” of his dad’s passing away, and Seattle was some place we both really wanted to visit.  So we went.

We went to a zoo (duh), and aquarium (duh), the Experience Music Project, the Space Needle, the Pacific Ocean, Pike Place Market, and lots of downtown wanderings.

4. Montana for one of my best friends. Because I will do anything for my friends, Cort and I decided our vacation in 2007 would be the trip we were making to Montana for a wedding that I was in.  I blogged about it here.

Looking good at the Montana wedding

We found out a few things on that trip:  North Dakota is boring.  Montana is beautiful (and boring), Wyoming is beautiful (and boring), South Dakota has some good place to stop, but the Mitchel Corn Palace is not one of them.

3. Camping/Canoeing with the in-laws. Ok, I hate camping.  It is NOT my idea of a vacation.  But we have gone twice.  TWICE!  I blogged about both trips here, here, and here.  Despite my hate of all things camping, we have a pretty damn good time!

Canoe Trip 2010

2. Indianapolis with my family of three. This past summer’s trip to Indy will always be a favorite of mine because it was our very first vacation as a family of three.  Granted, it was only three days, but in that three days, we spent two (successful) nights in a hotel with a toddler, did some sight-seeing, visited with great friends, met some new great friends, and spent a total of eight hours in the car with

My bloggy friends in Indy

a screaming toddler.

1. My honeymoon. You knew this had to be #1, right?  Most people at this point would talk all about their magical getaway to some all inclusive resort, or perhaps a romantic trip to Europe?  Maybe a cruise?

Not us.  We were on a budget, people.

We went to Myrtle Beach.  Actually, we DROVE to Myrtle Beach. Yes, I know there are some kick ass places to stay and be pampered in Myrtle Beach.  No, we did not stay at one of them.  We stayed at the Mystic Sea Resort–which, upon arriving?  Cort deemed neither Mystical nor Resortish.  In fact, he may have used a swear word and then commented how it looked nothing like what it did on the internet (you would think we would have learned from the Buffalo Zoo debacle, wouldn’t you?).

Two newlywed beach bums

There are so many stories I can tell you about Myrtle Beach, but the main thing is that we started our marriage off with something we could afford and made it fun.  We laughed until we cried.  We enjoyed being together.  And it was perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, some day I would LOVE to go on a “real” vacation.  Something all-inclusive.  Somewhere that creates little swans and monkeys out of my towels.  But until then, we will have fun with our budget vacations.  It’s what I am used to growing up, and it is what you make it!

Now how about you?  Do you have a Top Ten list of your vacation memories?  Link it up!  And tune in this weekend when I announce next week’s Top Ten Tuesday Topic!

Top Ten Tuesday

A bloggy friend of mine, Grace of Arms Wide Open, asked me last week to write up a top ten of the blogs I love to read, “you know, when you have time,” she said, mostly joking–since I have ZERO free time.

But this comment of hers gave me and idea for a fun weekly Tuesday post, that may turn into a meme if you all want it too.

I call it Top Ten Tuesday.  Creative, I know. Don’t judge.

Anyway, in honor of Grace’s request, I decided to do my first Top Ten Tuesday on blogs.  The Ten I never miss.  Ever.  I might let them back up in my reader until I have a week’s worth to read, but I ALWAYS get to these.

So here they are in no real particular order.

10. The Heir to Blair – written by the lovely “Blair,” I love this blog because Blair is honest, open, and totally funny.  She has a curly blond-haired one-year old named Harrison (which may be a small reason I love her…she has a little twin of Eddie).  She is also one of the first PPD/A mommas I found out in the bloggy world.  She has given me undying support as well as a serious case of the giggles with her sardonic writing style.  Sassy and strong–I love her.

9. Arms Wide Open – by the lovely Grace.  Yes, Grace, you are in my top ten!  I can’t miss reading about Grace’s beautiful family!  She has a handsome little man she calls Solo-Boy.  Oh and did I mention they live in Guadalajara, Mexico?  The pictures she takes of their surroundings are breath-taking!  Plus Grace?  is also a PPD survivor!

8. DesignHERmomma – written by my “in real life” friend, Emily. Emily and I went to high school together.  In fact, she graduated with Cortney.  She and I were in the same Bible study group and had gone to summer camp together.  After graduation, I went to Western Michigan University and she went to a different university (Big Ten, Go Green!) and we lost touch.  Then one day because of the wonderful world of social media, we somehow reconnected.  We learned that while Cort and I stayed here in West Michigan, she and her beautiful family are living and loving in Indianapolis.  Because of our reconnection, our family took a little trip down to Indianapolis to meet and hang out with the rest of her family…and some bloggers that we both love.

7. All Work and No Play Make Mommy Go Something Something – written by the strong and hilarious, Kimberly. I swear Kim is my sister from another mister.  She is another PPD/A survivor who is totally honest and raw about her battle.  She never sugar-coats ANYTHING.  She is blunt and sarcastic and sweary and witty.  Oh and?  She is Canadian. I swear we would be friends in real life if she didn’t live hours away.  Someday…

6. in these small moments – written by the beautiful Nichole.  Nichole has one of the most caring, beautiful hearts I have ever witnessed.  Her writing exudes love, but she can also be pretty darn funny when she wants to.  She has two of the most gorgeous children, Katie and Matthew, and a wonderful husband.  Her Monday feature is called “Small Moments Mondays” and are written by wonderful guest posters about small moments they cherish that might otherwise be overlooked.  Nichole has given me unending support in my writing and my mothering.  She seems to always see the beauty in things–even things that most people would dismiss or even hate.  She is simply lovely.

5. moosh in indy – written by the phenomenal Casey.  Casey oozes emotion in her writing.  She can somehow put into words exactly what needs to be said, no matter what the topic. She also takes some of the most amazing photographs I have ever seen.  While her words drip with emotion, so do her photographs.  It is impossible for Casey’s feelings to not be out on her sleeve…er…her camera lens.  Her true-ness to her blog, her craft, her family, her friends, and most of all, her self, is a huge inspiration.  She has gone through hell and back to be here today.  But she is here.  And she is wonderful.

4. No Points For Style – written by the glorious Adrienne. I have mentioned before that Adrienne kicks my blogger butt.  She knows when my whining and complaining is real and when it is just BS and she is not afraid to call me on it.  Her blog is one of a kind for sure.  While I guess she is considered a “mom blogger”, her blog has a much different tone to it than the many “mom blogs” I have found.  Her family is blended together from her previous marriage and her husband’s previous marriage, however; they have one son together:  Carter.  Carter is all over special needs, and I dare you to read about him and his struggles and not fall in love with him and his mother.  She is feisty and passionate and everything I adore in a friend.

3. Not Super…Just Mom – written by my blogging bestie, Miranda. I am fairly certain Miranda and I were separated at birth.  We are all twinsy and what not.  We are both high school English teachers.  We are both band (um, COLORGUARD) nerds, we both had/have PPD, we both have one-year old blond curly-haired boys, we both have weight-issues right now (even though we are both beautiful!), we both have amazing husbands, and we both blog about it all.  Seriously, if you like me?  You will LOVE Miranda!

2. Pretty All True – written by the unflappable Kris. Pretty All True is both my guilty pleasure and my daily inspiration.  Some days she is witty and sweary and a tad bit naughty.  I can’t be sure that sipping coffee is a good idea when I click over to her blog.  On the other hand, some days I find myself becoming completely reflective and solemn because of the pictures she weaves of her childhood memories.  If I read PAT first thing in the morning, it tends to set the tone of my mood for the day.  It also serves to inspire my writing.  Kris is the ultimate word arsonist–blowing up moments and snippets of time so that her reader feels like what she has written about?  Has happened to them.

Pretty All True

1. Tasty Buttered Toast – written by the super fantastic Cortney.  Now, I may be biased, but I think Cort is a really awesome writer.  I love that he has his own blog.  He doesn’t post every day…in fact, he doesn’t even post every week.  But I love to get the little surprise notification that he has some new writing up to share.  His perspective on things that happen in our life together is invaluable to me.  Sometimes there are things that he can pound out on the keyboard that he has trouble saying out loud–mostly because he doesn’t get a word in edgewise around me.  Oops!  He is funny and sweet and thoughtful and wonderful.

So there you have it…my Top Ten Blogs.  There are so many more blogs that I read, but these are in my “Must Read” folder in my Google Reader.  What are your Top Ten reads?  Post about it and link up!