In the blink of an eye

As a mom/wife/mom/sister/friend/ daughter/ I don’t think we’re ever prepared for the next stage. The next stage in life, what’s waiting just around the corner, or what’s to come. No one tells us about this. Until we’ve transitioned. Until we are in the thick of it. Kind of like childbirth. No one tells you about all of the gory, painful, body changing that happens until you experience it yourself. 

Our family is typically in a state of chaos. Too many activities, too many places to be, too many games, too many invitations, not enough organization, not enough planning ahead, not enough hands to help. It’s usually all about the not enough and too much, mixed in with a little bit of being 15 minutes late to everything. And while we still have our chaotic days and moments, trust me, I’m noticing a shift. Those crazy and chaotic days are becoming fewer and far between. This is the stuff no one talks about. No one tells you about this. And in the blink of an eyes it’s gone. No one tells you about the day your kids actually entertain themselves, and are capable of feeding themselves. Or the day your kid would rather spend sleeping over a friends house than curled up on the couch with their family, a redbox movie and popcorn. I’ve heard people say it, I’ve read the poems, I’ve listened to the lyrics on the radio but now, now I am living it. I am living quiet Friday nights with kids who get along and find playmates in their brothers. Life long friendships are being formed while I soak in a bubble bath. In the blink of an eye. Saturday mornings where everyone sleeps in, or quietly lays in bed, or better yet serves themselves and their brothers breakfast while you are in bed with coffee and a good book until well past 10 am. Sunday mornings where your children beg and plead to go to church service because they actually know what is going on, love singing and worshiping the Lord, and are no longer clinging to your side when you drop them off at children’s church while you go and enjoy service sans children. In the blink of an eye. They can get themselves in and out of the car, and grab their backpacks/cleats/instruments without your help. And buckling seat belts? Forget it they’ve mastered it to the point where you even offering to help them is embarrassing. In the blink of an eye. Gone are the days of 7 am wake up calls, co sleeping, carrying babies on your hip/in a sling just so you can accomplish one.thing for the day (as are the toned arms from carrying said babies), gone are meet ups with other moms so your kids can interact and socialize, but mostly so you can put on decent clothes and justify a starbucks drive thru run all the while having adult conversation with other mommas. In the blink of an eye. Gone are the days of their survival being dependent on you. Now they have chores, and night time routines they can facilitate and manage themselves. Gone are the days of figuring out the most efficient way to bathe 3 kids after a long day. Now they can decide who showers first and who helps their youngest sibling shower. In the blink of an eye. The days of biting one another are replaced with tattle tales. The days of boo boos needing mommas hug are replaced with them searching for the box of bandaids themselves. Cries for “momma”are replaced with “I’m bored.” The days of monsters under the bed and in the closets are replaced with wanting to watch movies with those monsters. In the blink of an eye. Diaper bags, strollers, and sippy cups are replaced with skateboards, scooters and bicycles that they can ride by themselves. 

Mommas take it from a momma who had 3 babies in 4 years. Who spent 5 years of my life either pregnant or nursing. Years of diapers followed by months of potty training. 100’s of hours spent playing on the floor with cars or trains or doing whatever it took to stop the crying. Hours upon hours deciding whether or not a fever warranted a 3am call to a pediatrician. Nerves that are shot from dropping your oldest off for his first sleepover as you drive off with hot tears streaming down your cheeks secretly hoping in an hour he calls you to come pick him up. But the phone never rings. Until the next morning when he’s successfully had his first sleepover, and isn’t ready to be picked up until after lunch that day.

In the blink of an eye it’s all gone. Nursery rhymes are replaced with Fetty Whap on the radio and the whip and nae nae dance. Rice cereal and breast milk are replaced with late night drive through runs after sports practice.

In a million years I never thought I’d be on “the other side.” Seriously. But I am. And I’m here to tell you one day you will be too. Seriously. You will be. We have made it through the sleepless nights, the countless diaper changes, the emergency trips to CVS for Gatorade and pedialyte, the first day of preschool, the first day of kindergarten, the first day of soccer/baseball/piano lessons, the first jump off the swim club diving board into a 12 ft pool, the first time a coach had to pick up a kid to make it to a playoff game because another kid had tutoring, the first time all 5 of us came down with the flu, the stomach bug, strep throat, the first time we put our oldest on the bus for kindergarten at 8:30 and he didn’t return home until almost 4. For the mommas who are standing in the grocery checkout line sweating bullets because you have just survived a trip to the grocery store with 3 kids under 4 and you are sure you left with nothing on your list, but your cart is full because your kids were tossing God knows what in the cart, just so you could make it to that check out line- I know where you are standing. To the momma who is up at 4 am nursing a baby who she just nursed at 2:30 and 3:30 I know where you are. To the momma who doesn’t think there is an end to the tunnel. There is. Believe me there is. I have been there. I have lived it, and I am standing on the other side. And it will go in the blink of an eye. 
   
    
    
    
    
   

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Why I stopped saying “I’m Sorry” and why you should too.

A few weeks ago I made a conscience effort to remove a certain phrase from my everyday language.  A phrase I noticed I was saying way too often. A phrase that instantly changed my attitude. A phrase that came with darkness.  A phrase that could turn my entire day upside down. That phrase is “I’m Sorry.”

The first reason I stopped saying this phrase was because I was saying it all.the.time. Some days it felt like I was saying it around the clock. It became my go-to, an almost automated response.  It easily became second nature for these words to just roll off my tongue.  The second and BIGGEST reason I stopped saying it was because I noticed, when I said it, whether I was truly guilty or not it brought this enormous weight of guilt upon me. A guilt that physically brought me down and broke me down.

If I am being perfectly honest I have been carrying around feelings of guilt for far too long-not just weeks or months, but I am talking YEARS!  I can remember being very little, maybe 5 or 6, and feeling guilty. I don’t know why, I just did.  Thinking back and reflecting on this new realization, I don’t know that I ever had feelings of being care-free, even as a young child.  As the years went on the guilt grew-not purposely, or intentionally by any means-I think I just grew up in a family where guilt was normal.  Something was always happening, there was always drama-combine that with the instability that occurred on an almost daily basis and that is the perfect concoction for a guilt filled childhood and adolescence. Not to mention the awkwardness of high school, the pressure of college, and then the reality of becoming a mom of not one, but 3 little boys certainly added to the guilty feelings.

Being on this latest path to working on and bettering me, and making sure that I am being taken care of includes not only my physical health but also my mental and emotional health I experience and feel on a daily/hourly/momentary basis. So for me, removing this simple, yet debilitating (to me) phrase has been crucial.  It is part of a conscience and willful effort each and every day that I make to remove all things toxic from my life. If it doesn’t bring me happiness, if it doesn’t uplift me, or if it isn’t constructive than I need to reevaluate having it in my life-even for something as simple as a phrase!  No longer saying “I’m sorry” has directly had an impact on lifting me up-mentally, emotionally, spiritually-in every way possible.  It has been a game changer for the way I live and move through my daily life!

Don’t get me wrong-there are times when it is definitely necessary to apologize to others-especially when you are the  one in the wrong. There’s something to be said for carefully and skillfully admitting when you are guilty and acknowledging your wrong doing.  That is a completely different topic-for another day. That’s NOT what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about letting go of the guilt for the little things.  The things and events that can’t be helped, or avoided, or rearranged, or planned for.  The things that in all honestly can’t fixed by you in any way, shape, or form. That is the stuff I want us to stop apologizing for. The office is out of creamer? Stuck in traffic because of an accident and now you are going to be late? Your kid takes his water in a mismatched re-usable water bottle because you ran out of water bottles? Missing a sports practice because in all honesty if you had to add one more thing to your plate that day your brain would have exploded? You ran out of diapers or shampoo or toothpaste, or soap, or even worse-toilet paper?  I know in our house there are 4 other sets of eyes and 4 other sets of hands using these same items that I do. I am not the only one who can acknowledge when we have used the last toilet paper roll, or the last squeeze of toothpaste and it is time to buy more.  It’s the little things like these. The events and things that can’t be helped, or avoided, yet they still happen.  Well guess what? It happens! it’s called life, and you don’t need to apologize for it! These little set-backs will continue to happen regardless if I take on the responsibility or carry the guilt for not keeping on top of the toilet paper roll count in our house! And that mismatched re-usable water bottle? It’s better for the environment than a plastic water bottle anyway-so good for you mom!

The past few weeks of working on me have truly been eye opening.

I know this is just the beginning of my journey, but I am already seeing a happier, lighter, healthier, calmer side to myself that I don’t think I have ever seen.

I love this experience and walk of life I am on right now.

I want to be the best that I can be for my children, for my husband, for all of those friends and family that we love so much.

I want to live life with a purpose. I want to be intentional in all that I do.

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On Fear and Fighting

During one of our late night talks this week my husband reminded me of a time in our lives when we didn’t know what our future held. It’s funny how once we actually make it through life happenings we file them away in our “never remember or bring up this moment again” file….Rewind to 5 years ago when I left my job of close to 5 years to embark on a completely different//new//uncharted possible career. I was going from a late night bartending gig to a desk job. I was going from sharing a place of employment with my husband for the past 5 years to being completely on my own.  

Completely different routine. Completely different location. Completely different people. Completely different flow. Completely different pay scale.

We were scared. We were nervous. We were unsure. All of those earthly feelings nearly paralyzed me from taking the leap.
I remember not knowing what the future held. I was unsure that this was a good choice for us and our little family, but I was completely trustworthy of our God. I knew He held us. I could feel this was the right move for our family. I knew if I ever wanted a semi- normal (weekends and holidays off) routine this was my move and this was the time to make it.
The past few months and life-moments have left my faith shaky. And I don’t like it one bit. I’m in a place of in between. I know who God is, and I know who I serve, but I don’t always rest assured in that fact. I have a terrible tendency to want to fix everything on my own. I am a controller by nature. A first born gal who can do it all. A fixer. A leader. I want to plan things and ways according to me and my schedule. I want things to play out to serve and humble me. I want everything to fall into the place I want it to fall into. Anyone else? 
This all comes about because once again my husband and I find ourselves in a place of the unknown. We don’t have answers to questions we want answered. We don’t know what our next move is. We don’t know what the future holds for us. 

It’s certainly not easy and I have to make a conscience effort, but I am telling myself every.single.moment of every.single.day he’ll be there.

A constant necessary, tangible reminder. 

Erica hold onto Him.

Give it all over to Him.

Stay steadfast in your faith.

You are a daughter of Him and His kingdom.

Run to Him.

He is there for you. 

His love never fails.

It never gives up.
It is SO easy to let the fear win. It is so easy to give in. To give up. Well you know what world? This girl isn’t giving up//backing down //or giving in. This is just another battle. Another fight. A fight that I’m feeling fully capable of winning with a little help from Him. I’m a fighter. An overcomer. I’m ready to hold steady to my faith, plant my feet, and let the storm roll through. 

Don’t give into the fear.

Give into your faith and Jesus.

He’s got you. He’s got this. 

  

Camping weekend

We just returned from what is probably my favorite weekend of the entire summer… our family camping weekend. We gather up most of our family on my husbands side, we head to our favorite campground, and we enjoy the entire weekend with eachother!  This year there was close to 30 of us and we enjoyed potato sack races, volleyball, hayrides, silly stories, and lots of smores! Yummy!! And let me tell you what… My husbands family is a family that KNOWS how to have fun. With them the party never stops- and I absolutely love it!

For me time spent with family is the most important and most rewarding time for my children- and ME!  I knew from a very young age family was an incredibly important thing to me.

A family who spends time together. A family who is silly together.           A family who laughs together.           A family who above all else loves eachother really, really well. 

I remember my childhood very, very clearly and I remember all the years spent as a little girl in a less than normal childhood wishing, hoping, and praying for something more for my children. For something different. For substance. For something real and genuine. It’s happening. It’s here. This is my life. And I feel so incredibly lucky that I get to live this with these people!! People who care, and laugh, and hug, and tell and show one another that they love them and will do anything for one another. People who put the needs of others above themselves.

And I am so gosh darn thankful that my children will never know a childhood like mine. I am so thankful that my children have amazing relationships with their aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins! I am so thankful that my children’s lives have more love and affection than they know what to do with and that makes my heart overflow with pure joy! As one of my FAVORITE IG’ers says #mycupberunningover

   
    
    
 

On Hope, Faith, and Miracles.

Illness has hit our family.

Knock you to your knees, take away your breath, illness.

My world has been rocked to its core.

Life will never be the same. For me. For them. For any of us.

Not after an experience like this.

To see people you only knew to be strong show weakness, changes you.

To see those you love hurting, and in pain, changes you.

To see someone you only ever knew as invincible not being that way, changes you.

To see someone who did all the taking care of  now the one being taken care of, changes you.

To see someone who did all of the providing now being provided for, changes you.

So if you’ve been wondering where I have been…

I have been in the muck of it all.

I have been trying to sort out the why’s, the wheres, and that what if’s.

I’ve been taking the good with the bad, and the bad with the really, really bad.

I’ve been going through my day to day life with tear filled eyes.

Eyes welled up with hot tears.

And the tears. Oh the tears.

They just come.

Whether I want them to, or not.

How ironic that it takes such a serious circumstance to make you really appreciate your loved ones.

We go through our lives expecting everyone to be here with us tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

Sometimes we get less time with those who really mean something to us, less time than we could have ever imagined.

And its not fair. Not one single bit of it.

What do you do then?

I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing…

I’ve been praying.

I’ve been asking for prayers.

I’ve been hugging those I love a little tighter.

I’ve been making dinners.

I’ve been having long talks.

I’ve been saying I Love You a lot more these days.

I’ve been taking the time to reflect on my life, and the time that I’ve been lucky and blessed enough to spend with these incredible people.

I’ve been sharing with others, things I never thought I would be able to share.

I’ve opened up a piece of my life I haven’t opened up for 30 years.

I’ve let the tiniest bit of light shine on some of the darkest parts of my life.

I’ve been telling myself, “The Lord’s will be done.”

And oh how I hope and pray that His will is to give me just the tiniest bit more time with those I love.

But for now only time will tell.

Time and testing.

Clear scans, clear testing.

One mountain at a time, one battle at a time.

When one battle is won, onto the next, and the next, and the next.

We will fight, and we will battle for as long as it takes.

If there is one thing I know about my family…

We are fighters. We are strong. We are not going to lie down and succumb.

We will fight. We are overcomer’s. We stay in the fight until the final round.

And that is what we are going to do

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On Having Hope

We have officially been on a budget for about 3 months now and let me tell you it is hard.

Really, really hard.

I recently wrote about the lifestyle change we have made by going on a budget.

In fact, we are on a zero dollar budget which simply put means that there is no extra. Whatsoever.

Every.single.penny is accounted for.

It either goes to a bill, or savings, or to paying off debt.

This is a really, really hard change for me.

Every single day now revolves around calculations.

If I spend an extra $20 on gas this week, I will have to omit something from another budget…what can we do without this week? Or how can I stretch the extra two pounds of chicken into a meal our entire family will eat for the next 2 days?

Life hasn’t always been this way.  This is something new.

The past 10 years hasn’t always been this way.

We haven’t always made the brightest decisions when it comes to finances. Then again, we haven’t always had the chance to make the best choices. You see when you grow up poor, the second you get any kind of money this feeling comes over you as though you have to spend that money right now or else a bill, or a collector, or something will come along to take that money from you. Before that happens you need to spend it. The heck with well thought out decisions…

Let me take it back to the beginning for you.

I grew up poor. My family was so broke it wasn’t even funny.

I started working at 14 just to buy my own clothes and any spending money I ever needed.

My parents didn’t have much to give us-thankfully we had family who were always willing to step up making sure we never did without.

I was always the kid passing  in the hand written reports while everyone else’s were typed, and double spaced, and neatly printed off their home computer.

I was the child who had web tv because we couldn’t afford a real PC, and years later when we did get our first PC ( I was a  Senior in high school) it was a rickety hand me down PC from my family members.

So needless to say I grew up with a lot less than most.

I moved out at 17.

It was a personal decision, and really for the best.  I didn’t always have the best relationship with my mother and rather than be threatened to be kicked out, or be charged rent by her, I made the conscious decision to become an adult and move out.

That’s right. While most teenagers were filling out college applications and discussing Senior prom, I was shacked up with my high school boyfriend in our apartment together.

I was determined to go to college and I can remember having a conversation with my parents where I thought there was a magical hidden savings account that had accrued interest over the years so they could send me to college. Ha! They looked right at me and told me they couldn’t help me with anything because they still had my 2 and 4 year old brother and sister to care for. So I began scraping up the $50 for each college application I was submitting.

Because of my childhood I always promised to give my children the best.

Today, we live modestly.

Both by choice and by necessity.

We have a small, two bedroom townhouse for 5 people.

My husband and I don’t have the newest clothing, electronics, and we certainly don’t have fancy expensive date nights.

I was recently part of an online discussion that asked how often do you buy a new bra? My answer? 2 years ago.

We don’t exchange birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday gifts.

Any extra always goes to our children.

They do have the best.

The best clothing, the best shoes, the best accessories, and they attend the best preschool.

Having said that I will never be one that is too good for hand me downs nor am I  one to pass up a good thrift shop find…I do love discounts and sales as much as ever-for our entire family!

Still I want more.

I want a house, with a yard, and a driveway.

I want to be able to host family gatherings and not have people be on top of one another.

Right now though I know that is not a possibility.

Some days, most days, I feel guilty for wanting more-more selfish thoughts that flood my mind on a daily basis.

As though what we have right now isn’t enough…but I know it is.

At this point in our lives, this is what we can handle. This is what we have been given.

So for now we keep trimming, we keeping saving, we keep paying off debt so that one day we can have all of that.

And that day my friends will make all of this mess worth it!

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An Update

Life has been crazy.

I feel like I start the majority of my posts that way-but the truth is life is CRAZY-with 3 kids (and all boys) there is really no other way to describe it.

I cannot believe Christmas is almost here…I feel like I am FINALLY just recovering from Back to school-anyone else?

Time is flying by, and I certainly cannot get a handle on it.

Our youngest turned 4.  FOUR!

How did that happen?

Our boys are now officially 4, 6, and 8…

We’ve celebrated birthdays, Thanksgiving, attended a wedding (which our big 4 year old was in), and have really been spending A LOT of time together as a family.

Hubby got that promotion at work he had been busting his back for and while I am so, so thankful and thrilled I must admit it is a little bit scary.

While it finally feels like we are “real” adults with two “real” incomes and that is what we have been working so  incredibly hard for these past few years-I must admit this new lifestyle comes with its own challenges.

I posted a few weeks ago about meal planning and putting our family on a budget.

Its been great. Don’t get me wrong-its been very, very hard and challenging, but great all at the same time.

And if there’s one thing I am always up for-its a challenge!

Our family’s lifestyle has been completely changed. Like turned upside down, shaken, and then turned right side up again.

I like to think of myself as more of a “modern day” housewife where I prefer my house to be cleaned for me, and my meals to be ordered for me, or at the very least picked up by me.

Our new lifestyle means I now do the cooking and cleaning-every.single.night

Its funny because all of those years my husband and I spent bartending we really had a disposable income-and didn’t even know it!

 One where if we needed extra cash we just picked up an extra shift.

Or sometimes we had a really, really busy night at work-one that would allow us to make up for a slower night and then some.

Now we have one set income coming in and going out and that is it. No extras.

So, to say it is taking some getting used to is definitely a good way to put it.

Its great, it really is and trust me it comes with A LOT more stability than the ebbs and flows that come along with being a bartender-not to mention the great benefits we now have thanks to his promotion.

We are still getting our feet wet, and trying out different budgets to see what works best for our family.

Some days are great and out of this world, and some days I am thankful that tomorrow means a new day and a fresh start.

What has been going on in your life lately?

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