Archive for ‘Random’


Abby’s sweet voice

Week two of piano lessons and the big kid was given the chance to record the song she has learned to play. She practically sings in her sleep but it’s so much fun to see her sit at an instrument and give it her all.

The tiny one in the background is indeed asking to play the drums… she’ll be a whole different musical story, I fear.


Because I’m a sucker for a slideshow and beautiful music.


The summer we drive a billion miles – update #2

So it turned out to not be exactly a billion miles.

60 days. 21 states. 7,142 miles. 7 beaches. 3 state parks. 1 diaper change on the Jersey Turnpike.

We’re officially home. Physically at least. Transitioning back emotionally into regular life is taking a little longer than unpacking the suitcases. But we’re here and we’re thankful.

I kind of have all the feelings right now that come with being overwhelmed so I haven’t sorted much out via words yet. Here is what I do know.


The drive back from Vermont was a bit of a scouting expedition for us as we’ve always considered a possible move to the East Coast. We crossed some places off our list and added a few others and spent a good deal of time discussing what we want our life to look like regardless of where we go to sleep each night. The slow route home was a fantastic way to debrief together after camp.


Everyone has asked how the girls handled the trip. Truthfully, they were amazing. Sure, Emma got fussy at nap times and Abby thought she was entitled to way more junk food than we allowed, but never once did we threaten to pull the car over or find ourselves trying to swat them from the front seat. I will admit to daydreaming about throwing a Frozen and/or Elmo DVD out the window in at least two states.


We had a lovely family stay in our home while we were gone. (They’ll be missionaries in Japan in a few short weeks and if you’d like to support them financially or prayerfully, I’d love to connect you – start here.) Before leaving, I thought it might feel strange to have someone else living in our house with our things. Nope. Didn’t bother me one bit. If Matt and our babies are with me, I’m good. Stuff is overrated and home really is wherever we’re together.


Headphones are a gift from God. (See above for Frozen and Elmo reference.) And I don’t mean headphones for the kids. No, no, no. Headphones for me means those kid movies can play and those kids can scream (they call it singing and we agree to disagree) and I can gaze out the windshield at beautiful scenery with Drew Holcomb as my soundtrack.


I was able to kiss my husband and run into the ocean with my daughters on beaches from Maine to Florida. It doesn’t get much better than that.


It’s not like we were in a third world country or anything but I’m unbelievably stressed by the choices that come with being home. So many restaurants, stores, roads, etc. I’ve always felt panicky in crowds or malls so it’s not like I left with a stellar track record, but I wasn’t expecting a few months to make such a difference.


Trader Joes. If every town had a Trader Joes, we would never need to buy fast food and road trips would be at least 87% better than they already are.


If ever you should find yourself choosing two movies to take with you as you spend a few months with absolutely zero access to a kitchen, may I recommend that you do not pack Julie & Julia or Waitress. Whatever you do, don’t take both.


Emma still asks daily to go see, pet, feed, and ride the horses. It is adorable and heartbreaking. I need someone local to have a horse or two who could use some extra attention. In case you need proof of her abilities, Emma did receive an award for being the best cheerleader during the horse show at camp.


For as happy as I am to be in our house where we can each go into a different area when we want to, I miss falling asleep with all my people in the same room. I miss being awake in the wee hours and only having to turn my head to see and count my three biggest blessings.


Most of this last leg involved beaches so many photos look the same but I’ll throw a few here anyway.





Abby jumps

Emma's hat

family shot




clear waters

they sleep

the three amigos



NC footprints


Beaufort, SC

beach walk


grass land





emma & mommy

burger queens

sand kids

ocean surveyor




abby ocean



low country

mud baths

beach chairs
FL sunset


My 365. Or 377. Or 542.

Last December I decided to tackle a 365 project as my new year’s resolution. My goal was one photo per day taken and posted to Instagram. To make it a little more interesting, or perhaps to set myself up for failure, I also stipulated a color/black and white alternating rotation.

I told no one of my resolution. This way when I quit in February, I wouldn’t have to justify my reasons or excuses.

But then I didn’t quit in February. Or March. Or April. Or when the tiny one didn’t sleep through the night for six months straight. Or when it got crazy hot. Or when the big kid went back to school. Or when we decided to pull her and begin home schooling. Or when any of the insane life stuff happened. Or when boring daily life happened.

I didn’t quit.

This is the first year long project I can remember finishing. I credit the not telling anyone and the fact that I actually began a few weeks prior to January 1st. So from December 17, 2012 until today, December 28, 2013, I’ve followed through. 542 photos posted over 377 days to be exact.

And while these little snippets of 2013 won’t mean much to anyone else, they mean so very much to me. This was my life. I found beauty worth documenting in every single day.

Honestly, I have no plans to stop taking photos. But I am taking this moment to claim the resolution a success and to extend a little grace to myself if I miss a day from here on out.

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Life Happenings

According to my grandmother, I’ve been a slacker when it comes to blogging. She’s right. The summer has flown by and I’ve spent as little time on the computer as possible. But to appease the lady who holds all the knowledge I want on gardening, baking, and homemade pickles, here is my offering of household news:

1. Abby is reading. I don’t mean sounding out things like cat and hat, I mean reading, reading. For the most part, this is a wonderful thing. What Matt and I didn’t think through was that apparently a large amount of our parenting relied on her illiteracy. Case in point:

Me: “Oh, no, nope, we can’t go in there. That store is closed right now. Oh well, maybe next time.”

Abby: “O-P-E-N. It says it’s open. The other sign says, Tuesday 10-8 and our clock says it’s 10 and I know it’s Tuesday, so it is open. And that door right there says E-N-T-E-R, that means we can go in there. Oh, and look! S-A-L-E! There’s a sale! We can buy lots of stuff! Lets go. Good thing you have me with you, right Mom? Or you wouldn’t have known it was open!”

2. On Monday I am expected to walk my child into a building where I don’t know anyone and my kid doesn’t know anyone and I am supposed to then leave my kid there with the strangers and go about my day as if nothing is wrong. As if that is not crazy enough, I’ve been told I then need to repeat that procedure every day for the next 13 years.

3. I’ve already been invited to join some of these strangers for a gathering that is – no joke – called the “Boo-hoo breakfast” where apparently we all sit together, cry over pastries and bond through heartache while our children are a few doors down having the time of their lives.

4. I have the best friend a girl can have. She has reminded me that nothing good can come from blubbering amongst strangers – especially as a first impression!- so I will be skipping the formal cry-fest and instead bawling my eyes out over baked goods in the privacy of her home. The fact that she has two adorable children that I can cling to is an added bonus.

5. Abby is trying to sell her artwork. I thought it was a one-day phase, but I was wrong. She’s given this more thought than I imagined as this morning she informed me of her business plan: “Kids will like these pictures but not all kids have money. Parents have money. So I’m going to show kids the pictures but I’m going to sell them to the parents.” Every picture she colors, draws, or paints now has an arbitrary number written on it that she declares is the price. One day I’ll look back on the mementos I’ve kept from her childhood and have a huge gap from this summer as she refuses to let me keep anything without first paying for it.

6. Matt is taking the table business to the next level soon. We’ve registered for a business name and as soon as I’m escorted/forced out of the elementary next week, I’ll be working on a simple website.

7. Matt had Abby help him plane boards last week. Abby told him since she’s helping build the tables, she should get half the money. He just stared at her. She looked at me and said, “I think it’s a deal.” She then started trying to negotiate the selling price of the tables with him. So I guess it’s a family business now.

8. Abby really wanted us to name the business “Erica’s Beautiful Tables”. We don’t know anyone named Erica. She doesn’t know anyone named Erica. She still insists it’s a great name.

9. We have not named the business “Erica’s Beautiful Tables.”

10. As of this month, Matt and I have been married for 9 years. I realize it isn’t a terribly long time, but something about the fact that I am 30 and my husband knew me when I was 19 makes me feel old.

11. In those 9 years, we have eaten breakfast together at home on a weekday morning maybe 5 times. Seriously. One of us has always had to leave for work considerably earlier than the other. Starting Monday, I have to get Abby to school about the same time Matt has to leave for work. He is deliriously excited about “family breakfasts”. He says we’ve had 9 years of marriage not seeing each other in the morning and won’t this be great? I say we’ve had 9 years of marriage precisely BECAUSE we haven’t seen each other in the mornings. He is a morning person. I am not. He is picturing Leave It To Beaver cheer and discussions. I am picturing my face falling into a bowl of cereal as I nod off mid-sentence.

12. I can’t think of better blog material than Abby in school so this site should be hopping along again soon.



It has been a very average Wednesday and yet, I’m exhausted. I can’t help but think I shouldn’t be. I think that because my day was void of project completions and personal achievements that I should be just as energized as when I woke up. But I’m not. So this evening instead of counting calories or gratitudes, I’m counting activities.

Today I gave thanks.

Today I cooked meals and washed laundry.

Today I ran two miles and watched the sweat pour off me.

Today I watered and weeded the garden.

Today I argued.

Today I read stories and played games.

Today I drove one hundred miles.

Today I took my daughter to her first baseball game.

Today I laughed with friends and cheered for strangers.

Today I grieved the loss of a loved one.

Today I bathed my child and prayed over her as I dried each strand of her hair.

Today I repented and asked forgiveness and forgave.

Today I took a walk.

Today I held my tongue.

Today I watched the wind blow away the clouds.

Today I taught students, answered emails and made phone calls.

Today I listened to a song on repeat because once wasn’t enough.

Today I took photos.

Today I disciplined my child.

Today I chased a butterfly and admired wildflowers.

Today I answered an endless stream of questions.

Today I bandaged a wound.

Today I watched the sun slip below the horizon.

And tonight I’m reminding myself that this was enough for one day.


Oh, how I love Tom Hanks.

It’s true. He’s on my Top 3 people I’d like to meet (and then impress to the point we become best friends). And I feel like this video may have catapulted him into the Number 1 spot.


Here I Am.

In 1991, my Language Arts teacher made us write an essay telling what we thought our lives would look like in the year 2011. I distinctly remember because I had to imagine myself as a thirty year old.

My classmates went immediately to work. With pencils scribbling furiously, they wrote about future careers and houses and incomes. The boys in the class knew makes and models of the cars their adult-selves would drive and the girls wrote about husbands and the names they had picked out for their distant children.

I was surrounded by dreamers. And man, did they know how to dream. There were doctors and missionaries and astronauts sitting next to me. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes and world famous singers ate lunch with me.

My paper was blank.

I couldn’t picture life as a teenager, much less as an adult. I didn’t know how the other kids did it. And so easily, too. They didn’t even notice all the hard work and the hurdles and the fear that I saw when looking into that crystal ball.

I almost took a zero on the assignment.

I ended up writing a standard line or two about having a college degree and owning a house and having a good job.

Nothing specific. I could barely dream of the future; I wasn’t about to give it away to my teacher.

But now, today, I’m thirty. And I have a college degree and I own a house and I have a great job. And I desperately wish I could go back and whisper in my ten year old ears, “Just write- ‘I’ll be happy” and leave it at that”.

Because in the end, that’s all I wanted for myself twenty years ago.

And that’s all I want for myself twenty years from now.

And even if I filled a paper right now with words about who I am, the one thing I’m proudest of is that I’m happy.


A New Adventure

This is my 501st post on this blog. That seems a little insane to me. For someone who doesn’t have much to say, I’ve apparently said quite a bit.

I’m hoping to spend more time writing letters in 2011. Letters to mail, letters to keep, letters to write and then throw in the campfire, letters to save for a future date. But it seems that when I have the option to type, when I have free access to that delete key, I struggle with putting pen to paper.

I also have a goal to focus on photography this year. Not necessarily a business, but a vested interest in taking pictures I want to take and giving my camera the attention it deserves.

Those two things being said, there might not be much happening around here for awhile. But I have created a new site solely for the purpose of posting photos and I’d love for you to keep track of me there if you’re interested-


The Heart of Things

Today I read two blogs/articles that caused me to think. Don’t you hate when that happens?

The first- this challenge by Sarah Markley that encourages me (you, us) to tell our story.

I’m very intrigued by the art of telling personal stories. Of telling my story. To one person at a time. The problem? I’m afraid of not telling it right. Using the wrong words, the wrong medium, the wrong venue.

The second- this list of the habits, and how to break them, of perfectionists.

Until recently, I would have never labeled myself a perfectionist. Most of the time I’m a mess and my house is a mess and my kid is a mess. But truthfully it is that mess that often prevents me from doing and creating and entertaining because I don’t think the mess will ever be controlled enough.

So today I’m thankful for these two resources. These words that remind me I don’t need to be someone else in order to do something else.

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