Friday, October 29, 2010

We Are No Longer Here

Sluiter Nation is no longer on blogspot!

Come join Sluiter Nation in our new home.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just a Small Town Girl...

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob'ly die in a small town
Oh those small communities...

Tonight my wee little family packed up the stroller and drove out to downtown Zeeland around 6:00pm.

This was supposed to be a BIG weekend!  I was going to call friends.  We were going to go out!  I was going to advertise and raise some money for the American Stroke Association!  This was going to be BIG!
This was my weekend to have Pursey Gallore, the purse from Project: Purse and Boots, the blogger movement created by Lori to raise money and awareness for Stroke Prevention.

And then life happened.  I didn't have time to call anyone or set anything up.  In fact, unless it's all planned out ahead of time, where I live?  Isn't really the kind of place you can just quick dress up fancy and go raise some money.

As we wandered down the quiet streets of downtown, through the crispy orange leaves, I recognized the smell of fall.  But not just any smell of fall...the way fall smelled when I was much, much younger.

And I suddenly felt like I was visiting my childhood.  We were giving Pursey Galore a tour of what our lives have been like being from and living in a small town.

First we wandered down Church Street.  This was one of the very first streets ever in Zeeland.  We passed three churches in the one city block that we walked.

One was the church that our high school held our senior baccalaureate services in.

The next was Second Reformed Church.  The place where Cortney went to church as a kid and where we were married and where Cort's dad's funeral service was and were Eddie was baptized.

This is the church we are currently members of.  I like this church.  I like it's small feel.  I like the personalized feeling.  Right now though?  I am just not sure it is "our" church.  But we do love it.
Then we wandered diagonally across the street to First Reformed Church where I was baptized and went to church as a kid.

First Reformed was also the very first building in Zeeland.  The church?  It is old.  And it's really quite beautiful.  I really should do a whole post dedicated to certain memories I have of growing up in this church.  Most of them are quite lovely.  And I have been searching for that for my family for the past 5+ years.  

Being on the corner of Church and Central reminded me of walking to piano lessons after school, parking on the road for church in the morning, and marching to the cemetery with the band on Memorial Day morning.

We wandered back up Central and took a turn down Main Street.

We wanted Pursey to "Feel the Zeel", so we took her window shopping in our small town. After realizing that clearly every. single. store was closed by 6pm on a Saturday, I started wishing we had done this in the morning--when people would have been around for me to share Pursey with.  But instead, I just shared our town with Pursey.

We brought Pursey to Frank's (which was closed).  Frank's has the best burgers in town.  Two of my aunt's worked there when they were in high school.  My dad and his friend (my uncle) hung out there.  It was the place to be.  Now the major figure-heads (business owners, old names, etc) of our community gather there each day.  There is a LARGE round table in the middle toward the back.  Everyone in town knows only those guys sit at the round table.  Cort's grandpa Stan Sluiter sits at the round table.

The only way to follow up Frank's is to then stop in front of Zeeland Bakery.  They have the best donuts in town.  In high school, we used to con teachers into letting us make "donut runs".  Somehow I usually found myself one of the students that was involved in said "conning" and we would run to one of our cars (which was dumb because we were usually parked as far away as it would have taken to just walk to the bakery), and we would drive faster than the 15 mph speed limit and get a bunch of fresh donuts for our class.  ah...Zeeland Bakery.  Yum.
Across the street we passed Bunte's, the local pharmacy.  When I was little we used to stop here with my mom after getting groceries to pick up prescriptions or to buy cards for people at church or who were having a birthday or anniversary.  My mom loves to send cards.  This was also where we got our film developed.  He

Together we discovered new stores that I didn't know existed.  Eddie and I made a deal that we would come back to this cute toy store when it was open.  Cortney and I reminisced about all the stores that used to be here when we were kids.  We talked about how there used to be awnings lining either side of the street.  and how the street itself?  Used to have a zig and a zag in it.

Then we discussed how our parents used to do this same thing.  Talk about which stores used to be there.  Talk about when there weren't awnings.  And when the street?  didn't have a zig or a zag, but kids would drag race down it.

The Howard Miller clock feels the Zeel.

Yes, another church.  Pursey lost count after four.

 Pursey tried to stop for some salon and spa treatments at Milt's. I tried to explain to her that not only was Milt's not open, but it was just a Barber Shop.  Just dudes getting haircuts.  Pursey was incredulous.  She is apparently too glamorous for a barber shop.

 But when she learned there had been a REAL queen right here in Zeeland?  She warmed back up to our small town...and needed her picture taken with the royal landmark.

 Before getting back into the truck, we stopped to look at the bikes in the Zeeland Schwinn Shop.  The owner is my parents' neighbor.

Our last stop was for dinner at J's Again.  It's the kind of restaurant that has the gumball machine and a tackboard full of announcements in it's entry-way.  There is a counter where you pay a handwritten check and you can buy a york peppermint patty after dinner as a treat.  It's the kind of place where you seat yourself.  It's the kind of place the old folks (which are 98% of the clientele) comment on how cute and well-behaved your curly-haired little boy is.  There is no alcohol on the menu.  There is a picture of the last supper on the wall.

Eddie and I had the grilled cheese.  Cort had a burger.  Pursey?  She was too cool to eat. 

As we climbed in the truck I thought of how sad I was that I didn't get to share the story of Pursey with anyone.  I didn't earn even one donation for such an important cause.

But what I did get to do?

Pursey came to school with us to fix my computer

Pursey watched the U of M/MSU game with us

Pursey helped me create a fall wreath instead of spending too much on a pre-made one
Pursey helped me to spend time with my family today--something I have been earning to do for WEEKS.  We all spent the WHOLE day together as a family just being together as a family.

Today I went back in my mind to my childhood, but I also spent a whole day in the now, with my little family.
Cort and I talked about how great it was to go to family-owned businesses.  The guy who fixes our cars?  Went to HS with my dad.  And his son?  Went to HS with Cortney.  That is where we live.  Where the guy whose name is out front is also the guy who is behind the counter helping you pick out your tulip bulbs or your grass seed.

We strolled and chatting and pointed out differences and memories.  We laughed and smiled.  We showed Eddie our kidhood.

And it was all thanks to Pursey.
No I cannot forget from where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Please consider going to Project: Purse and Boots and making a donation--however small or large--to the American Stroke Association (the donation button is on the right side of the page in the sidebar).  And then forgive me for not throwing a bigger bash.

*Lyrics from Small Town by John Mellencamp

Friday, October 8, 2010

What Happens When I Poll the Audience....

Today I didn't know if I should tell you about all the poop that is flying around our house lately or do my flip-offs.

So i polled the audience.  And by audience, I mean twitter.  Because there is instant gratification in polling twitter.


You all voted and you wanted.....

That's's been a couple weeks, but the flip-offs are back by popular demand.  The topic of poop?  It is still coming...just maybe another day. here we go... (cracks knuckles)...

First I am TOTALLY flipping off the moron in the red buick something or other in my neighborhood that I get stuck behind in the morning if leave the house at just the "right" (re: WRONG) time in the morning. 

Let me explain.  We live in one of those windy subdivisions that doesn't have any stop signs (because there is SO not enough traffic to justify stop signs) until you get to the only entrance/exit which is on a main road.

Red Buick?  He feels the need to make a COMPLETE stop at each and every intersection.  He then proceeds to go no faster than 15 mph throughout entire said windy subdivision.

Now I get that it's important to be cautious.  You don't want to hit any kids walking to the bus stop.

But at 6:30am?  There are no kids walking to the bus stop yet.  I know this because on days when I am running late?  Like 7:00am late?  THAT is when the kids are walking to the bus stop.

So on these days when I think I am being all on time and early (re: OUT OF CHARACTER FOR ME), Red Buick ruins it for me.

FLIP OFF to you, Red Buick (in fact, I DID flip him/her off this morning...but he/she was too focused on not going over 15, that I don't think he/she noticed.  So it didn't count.  So I had to do it here.  So there.)

Ok secondly?  I need to flip off one of our banks.

I am not going to say WHICH bank this is because we do get good service here and the tellers are stellar (you love it.  don't pretend you don't).

But this bank?  Has called our house eight times since last Friday.  Our home phone is on the fritz (a WHOLE other flip off), and so we let it go to voicemail and then call our callers back with our cells.

Bur the bank?  Is not leaving messages.


three of those times were in ONE DAY.
So finally Cort called the number that came up on our caller id (after the fifth time they hung up, mind you).  and apparently this is their marketing department trying to let us know about a good mortgage rate.

Wait.  What?

We JUST refinanced last year at this time.  What the ham sandwich, batman?

So Cort tells them, "um, you need to put us on the do not call list."

And the lady is all "well, you have to call customer service to request that, and it can take up to 30 days."


So after this conversation?  Three more times they call.  Three.

For a total of EIGHT TIMES.

Bank?  FLIP OFF!

And finally...

I need to go ahead and flip off the cat and his choice of pooping locations.  There will be more of this shared in the upcoming and much anticipated "Poop Post", but let's just say my old ass cat is getting all sorts of mean-spirited and poop crazy.  and bad, awful things have happened because of this.

So I flip off the cat poop...and the toothbrush that was thrown out because of it.

Oh...and I know I said "finally" above, but I need to add this...

PPD has a PERMANENT flip-off here in Sluiter Nation, you all know that.  But what you don't know is that I am all guest posty over at Rocky Mountain Mama's today for her PPD Awareness Week.  I'm talking about the differences between Baby Blues (which are normal) and PPD.  So go check me out and leave me a comment over there so I don't feel all lonely.  I hate feeling lonely. Especially on a Friday.

So click this picture and read the post.
Rocky Mountain Mama
and then read the rest of the posts.  They are pretty amazing.
Oh, and for more flip-offs?  You can don't even know.  Kludgy Mom is the brainchild of the Flip-offs, so go say hi to her.  She has been occupied as of late, so Momma Kiss had the link up.  So just go to both.  They are awesome.  Trust me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Back to School Bonanza #10: The Rocky Mountain Mama

Today is it.  The final installment of my Back to School Bonanza Guest Post Series.  Today's post is brought to you by the Rocky Mountain Mama.  
I love this post so much.  It is the perfect way to end my series.

She taught in Title I schools.  I teach in a Title I school.  Many of you know that my school is amazing, but does not have near the funding they need for the students we have.  We have classes that are too big, not enough supplies, not enough resources all due to being "at risk"--which means no money for us.

Don't get me going on how warped that is in this country.  Punish the needy districts by taking away funding.  Grrr.

Anyway, this post touches my heart. 

I believe in Public Schools.

I believe in kids who are considered "at risk".

I devote a HUGE chunk of my life to both.

And so did the Rocky Mountain Mama.

I hope you enjoy this last post in my guest series.  Please visit her blog (she is doing  PPD awareness week right now that is AWESOME...and I am there!).  Oh, and of course show her some love.


Hello!  I am the author of Rocky Mountain Mama.  I am so glad to be joining Sluiter Nation’s Back to School Bonanza!  I am blogging as an educator and I will be discussing my school experience, some of my teaching experiences and how they may or may not relate to each other.

I attended parochial school from kindergarten through high school.  I really did enjoy my school experience.  I had many great teachers and I liked the small environment of a parochial school.  My K-8 school had 2 classes in each grade with each class only having about 20 kids in it.  There were about 10 of us who started school together in kindergarten and graduated from high school together.  Attending parochial school definitely kept me sheltered, but I was definitely prepared for my future.  I understood the meaning of hard work.  From an early age (1st grade) I had hours of homework.  Yes, you read that correctly…hourS. 
I didn’t always know I wanted to be a teacher, but I did always enjoy working with younger children.  After I graduated college with a useless degree in English, I decided to go back to school to get my license in Elementary Education.  While participating in all my practicums and student teaching I thought I wanted to teach at a charter school – it being very similar to my own background.  The thought of a “regular” public school frightened me…and don’t even get me started on Title I schools.  Scary!  I was so used to the sheltered feeling of a parochial school that working with kids with disabilities or hard backgrounds freaked me out.

I did my student teaching in the fall and subbed from January through November of the following year.  Subbing was hard.  I went from school to school and was scared nearly out of teaching when I found a student who attempted throwing tables at a Title I school.  Then one day, midyear, a friend called and told me about an opening at her school – a Title I school.  I really wasn’t sure, but I decided to interview.  It wouldn’t hurt, right?!

I got the job as a full day kindergarten teacher to many English language learners who came from hard, unstable backgrounds.  I loved it.  Hands down, loved it.  These kids were great and the families were so caring and just wanted the best for their children.  The following year I switched districts and found myself at yet another inner-city Title I school, but this one was different.  This one was rough – in the heart of the inner-city.  These kids had rough lives.  Some were homeless.  Many had parents in jail.  And many didn’t have enough to eat or shared a room with more than one sibling.  This school had 97% free and reduced lunch – that should give you an idea of the area.

This job was tough.  Oh my gosh, it was tough!  I cried daily for almost two weeks when I first started.  I had a student who peed on the floor, wrote curse words all over the room, threw things and a handful of students who refused to work.  Think Dangerous Minds with 2nd graders.  And parent support?!  Forget it!  But once I established relationships and gained control I fell in love with every.single.student.   Even the one who peed on the floor and called me the F word on many occasions. They challenged me daily.  They pushed my limits, but I learned SO much from these kids.  I valued every moment at that school in spite of the tremendous amounts of stress.

There were many days I left crying…not because of stress of the job, but because of the situations many of these children lived in.  I had high expectations of these kids (just like when I was younger) but how do you maintain high expectations when some of these kids don’t have a place to sleep or don’t have enough to eat?!  The answer…you give them a loving, caring and structured environment.  That is what they crave….what they need.  I still think about those kids and wonder how they are doing now.  I still worry for them.

When I was pregnant with Christopher I decided to change districts to be closer to home.  I am now teaching in one of the top districts in Denver in one of the top elementary school as a kindergarten interventionist.  I do love it…I really do, but part of me misses the struggles of Title I.

So how does this all tie together – my parochial schooling with my teaching experience at a Title I school?  Attending a parochial school kept me very sheltered.  My parents made a good choice as the public school system where I grew up was not the best, but I am now a firm believer in the public school system.  Yes, it has its “issues” but everything does.  I digress…   Growing up I kind of had a negative warped perception of public schools ingrained into me.  

I always thought public schools = bad education.  Quite the contrary.  There are many, MANY public schools who are providing an amazing education for today’s youth.  My current school is a good example.  My previous school may not be the best example if you pull their test scores, but I can tell you the teachers there are working their butts off to provide a well rounded education and more importantly, a safe place for those kids.

I couldn’t pull from my life experiences to understand and empathize with my students at the Title I school, but I do understand the value of education.  No matter what setting I am in, I have always strived to provide my students with the best education while maintaining a caring learning environment.  While my schooling experience was completely different from many of my teaching experiences, I have valued both.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where Does He Get that HAIR?!?

This blog has been a wee bit on the serious side lately--I realize that.  Even when I am talking about positive things, it's with a bit of a serious tone.

So we need some lightening up around here, yes?

Yes, I thought so too.

So I thought I would tackle a reader (and pretty much anyone we meet) question....

Where does Eddie get that HAIR?!?!
Almost every single person who sees Eddie asks me this question.  And since putting that new family picture up there at the top of the blog (THANK YOU, Missy!  Muah!), more and more people have been commenting on his curly blond locks compared to our dark tresses.  So I am here today to set the record straight!

First?  I can tell you were he DIDN'T get the hair....

I have clearly...CLEARLY...always had super straight hair (and an outstanding fashion sense).  however, it was blonder than it is now.  Well, now it's darker due to umm...a little help.  But my TRUE hair color is brown.  But as a kid, it was MUCH lighter.

Now...take a peek at this guy...

Oh hello blond curls!!  Yes, that's right, at one time Cortney had blond, soft curls.  And chubby little arms and legs...just like someone else I know...

Admittedly Eddie's hair is not that curly here....I had just plastered it with sunscreen


So now we know where the hair came from.  But how about we take a minute to look at it's future, shall we?

If Eddie's hair truly is his father's hair, here is what he can look forward to....

The curls?  They keep growing.  They are really not this's just good old early 80's photography!  Maybe I will get Eddie's hair cut before this happens...but maybe not.

They start to get a little tighter as the boy grows.  And a wee a little browner.  And that little green jacket?  Shut up!  Eddie is SURE to have style!

Even tighter curls.  Even browner curls.  Even cooler jacket.  The boy knows outerwear, people.  He so does.

Tight curls and baby chicks?  What is that?  Bunnies?  And I love the carefully posed hands on the open book.  Super chic.

I purposefully skipped the early adolescent years.  No one needs that.  And Cortney?  Would not be pleased if I posted that.  So here is high schoolish age.  Those curls?  Super tight.  Totally brown.  The transformation is almost complete....almost.

In college?  He went ahead and did this....

Yes, that is his actual hair.  My man?  Can grow a MEAN afro!  He is one studly white man with a fro!

Cortney apologizes to Eddie daily for the hair.  He says there are two haircuts:  short and long.  And if long goes bad?  It's a fro-lett.

yes that is an afro mullet.  don't mock.  Cort MAY have had one that matched his dad's....

Maybe the fro is in Eddie's future?  If it is?  He will DEFINITELY impress his friends.  He will be the hit of the sports team he is on (if he is on one.  his choice.  totally.)

Hopefully he will learn to embrace the curls like his dad has.  Hopefully he will love what he has in common with the man who loves him most in this world.

So yes, Eddie gets his cute little 'do from his daddy.  And I think he also gets his heart-melting smile from him.  And his kind nature.  And his....

oh wait.

This was about hair.


So to answer your question:  Cortney.  He gets his hair from Cortney.

Back To School Bonanza Guest Post #9: Sign Language

As an educator, I am always trying to do the best thing with Eddie as far as communication and language. We make books available to him for exploring, we read books to him, we talk to him constantly about what we are doing, and we name EVERYTHING.

One thing we haven't done a ton of is sign language.

Recently I was contacted by Emily Patterson about guest posting here on the topic of Sign Language at an early age.  I thought it was a wonderful idea.  I know a LOT of you already do this with your children, and I am so excited to learn that it is NOT too late for us to start!  

Here is a little about Emily and what she does...

For over 25 years, Primrose Schools has helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early childhood, education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially.  Emily Patterson is currently working as a communications coordinator for Primrose Schools providing written work to the blogosphere which highlights the importance, and some of the specific aspects, of a quality, early childhood, education.

Here is what she has to say...
Early Childhood Education – Acquiring Sign Language

One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility – and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled – primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it's likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Signing Before They Can Speak

A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

                                " 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children
                                can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
                                can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
                                frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
                                before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)

The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time To Start

Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Georgia educational child care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose educational child care schools.  Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Just Breathe

Yes I understand that every life must end, aw-huh...
 As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh...
Oh I'm a lucky [woman] to count on both hands
the ones I love...

I work too much.
I worry too much.

I get caught up in the piles and the To Do's.

And because of all this craziness that is suddenly in my life now?  I have learned to slow it WAY down when I am with my family.

Some folks just have one,
yeah, others they've got none, uh-huh.

I am awfully lucky for what I've got.
I not only have an army of people near and far who love me and are concerned for me and my family, but I have the most wonderful, joyful little family right here under my own roof.

Stay with me...
let's just breathe....
This week I moved my laptop downstairs to a little "office" that Cort made for me in the laundry room.  

I cut out my computer time before work.

I don't look at my computer until after Eddie is in bed.

It's been lovely.

Practiced are my sins,
Never gonna let me win, aw-huh...
Under everything, just another human being, aw-huh...
Yeh, I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world
to make me believe.

We also got served another punch this week when Cort was passed over for a job he was practically guaranteed.  

And so we leaned on each other.

We are finding more quiet moments now that I am so busy.

We are talking more.

We have better discussions.

Stay with me...
you're all I see.
Cortney and Eddie are my rocks.

Cort brings Eddie to school every Wednesday so I will never have a day that I don't see my wee little guy.  

Eddie never cares what our job situations are.  He just loves to love life.

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh if I didn't I'm a fool, you see...
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean...
I have been struggling with mom guilt and with wife guilt and with friend guilt and with blogger guilt and with weight guilt.

But my boys?  They just are there.  They are there when I need them.  They listen as I cry.  They laugh when life gets crazy.

We make do.

We celebrate the small moments...even if it's just for 30 minutes after school in my classroom.  We are together.

And I need that.

And I love that.

I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw-huh...
Everything you gave
And nothing would you take, aw-huh...
Nothing would you take
Everything you gave...

This crazy life has made me realize how lucky I am.

I don't think my boys will ever EVER know how thankful I am for them.

The funny thing is, most of this busyness is FOR THEM.  

And they never complain about me being gone.  Ever.

The house gets cleaned.  The errands get run.  The bills get paid.

With me never saying anything.

I am so very lucky.

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool, you see...
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean, ah-ah...

I can't do anything without Cort and Eddie's support.

My buddy turned 15 months in this whirl of madness.  He is babbling, and walking backwards, and doing Ring Around the Rosie's, and climbing on things, and loving books.

His brillance makes me want to be better.

Cortney keeps our house running.  He pays the bills.  He keeps us comfy.  He makes it so Eddie never knows that we are struggling.

He supports my weight loss (I am holding fast at 193, by the way.  But it is good.  Lots of good choices this week).

He does things that aren't his favorite (like family pictures) to make me happy.

He somehow keeps persevering after each rejection because he is strong.

He keeps this family going.

Nothing you would take...
Everything you gave.
Love you til I die...
meet you on the other side.
Together we hold on.  We just breathe.

*lyrics from the song "Breathe" by Pearl Jam

This is also my McFatty Monday post.  Hop on over here for more.
"I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying." ~Michael Jordan