Categories

Archives

erin

erin

I'm Erin Jo. I'm thinking, writing, dreaming, mothering, loving, living, praising, BLESSED to be Fiona to my Shrek and Mommy to my four amazing kiddos.

dave

dave

Shrek is "like an onion with many layers" but has a heart of gold. He's my husband and my friend, and we just get better all the time.

lily

lily

Lily is my first baby and only girl. She's smart, funny, tall and kind. Keeping up with this girl is a challenge and a joy. She's terrific!

max

max

Max is one part ogre, two parts lover and all boy! Our little man has a temper but gives the best hugs of anyone I know!

colby

colby

Colby is as ornery as he looks. He flirts shamelessly, even with strangers. He's all mouth and curls and the loudest by far.

luke

luke

Luke is the baby of the family, but holds his own. He's happy and adorable. And he's a terrible sleeper. =)

Live Like a Puppy

MainStreetGang

My summer has bloomed in all ways. I’ve really taken the summer mentality to heart. In addition to not blogging much, taking trips without my kids and not caring one iota about the extra five pounds, I am not feeling guilty for any of it.

Guilt is such a strange thing. It pulls you down and wraps you up. It seeps its way into your subconscious and plays with your decision-making abilities. It leadens your heart and takes that spring right out of your step.

And sometimes you have to say, “Enough.” I’m enough. I’m driving many projects, donning many hats, pleasing many bosses, both large and small. And enough already. I’m fine. The kids are fine. I don’t have to climb that mountain. I’ll just stay here for now, thanks.

And so, this past weekend in particular, I’ve tried on a new philosophy. “Live like a puppy.” That means just what you think. Eat when you want to eat, sleep when you want to sleep. Take and give love freely. Slobber a little. (Ha! I couldn’t help it.)

I never live like this. In fact, I don’t think I really ever have. Even in my school days, I could never stop the madness. I have always been a bit of an overachiever, always aware of just about everything around me, always on the job. Even before the 24/7 that is motherhood, I was busy.

And I can’t say that living like a puppy is always a good thing. In fact, I don’t like people that live like a puppy all the time. (Ahem, some men under, oh… say, 40?)

But for me, right now? It’s a very good thing. A regroup. A siesta. A chance to enjoy summer. Precious moments with my kids. A bloom.

And to have all this wisdom and peace before I even hear the ocean? Incredible.

That’s in about nine days, but who’s counting? For now, this puppy is tired. And, in the spirit of the lifestyle and the fact that there is nothing I need to do now that can’t wait until tomorrow, I’m going to bed.

Shalom.

 

Snapshot

Erin

My twenty-third anniversary of journaling and the third birthday of this blog passed rather quietly last week, a day after my birthday. I kept thinking I would write, but time is so fleeting. I have been wasting post ideas by not letting them grow anywhere but inside my head. And, sometimes, it can’t be helped.

One that keeps hanging around is how this moment, this day, this summer is a snapshot in time. We’re into June, with the official start of summer ten days away.  But, really, summer has already begun, and I can tell you now, this summer is going to stay with me. Memories of what I did in everyday life will glint like facets of glass in the sunshine years from now.

We have a new {wonderful, talented, natural, heaven-sent} babysitter this summer. She’s keeping all four of our kiddos three days a week, and I love her! On mornings that I work, I pull them all from sleep, coax them into their clothes and drive them five miles or so out of my way out to her place, where she drinks her morning coffee in the rocking chair, other families’ children and her own are sleepily draped on the furniture, and Mickey Mouse keeps court from the television.

I leave there with kisses and in peace and take the backroads towards Athens. Aside from the hellish moments where I am run off the narrow road by my small town’s newly acquired natural gas drilling traffic, my “commute” to work is bliss. I’m not even sure I can call it that. It’s really a drive. It’s a blessing.

Because I wave at everyone I see, and they wave back.

Because I see turkeys and deer every day on that road without fail and other random wildlife including box turtles, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels and colorful birds that take my breath away: yellow chickadees and finches, cobalt bluebirds, red cardinals that sing.

Because, while I drive, I take in an audio book. And this is how I am able to read in spite of a busy, busy life. And the books are amazing, from brilliant authors with incredible insight. They give me perspective and appreciation for my own life, love for my own husband.

And I feel limitless anticipation for all the activities and trips we have planned this summer. I have a general feeling of wanderlust and a peace that comes with the huge amount of time I spent in nature and with family, paying homage to my priorities, my heart, my heritage.

Something about the present reminds me of summers of my youth. I grew up on the family farm, which was wonderful, but worked long hours in the hot sun tending to tomato and pepper plants. At the time, that wasn’t so wonderful. In retrospect, it’s amazing.

My grandpa had the big farm and the moderate success. My own parents tried their hand at it seriously at least a couple summers in a row. And it. was. painful. My poor mother. How did you get through those summers, ma?

shed

While my dad was at work, she’d coax us into the fields instead of the minivan I coax my kids into now. She’d promise us we could quit by three, and we almost always did.

At three, I’d make either cherry shakes from the tree in our back yard or serve tea in dainty bone china mugs with hook-like handles. We’d sit and sip in the coolness of the house–not air-conditioned, mind you, just way cooler than the heat of that pelting sun.  We’d relax and watch General Hospital and then Oprah. And I’d curve myself into the exhaustion that comes from working in the sun and then cooling down. I remember, vividly, wishing I could climb into the commercials because things were so perfect, so easy, so everything-in-its-place.

And those were good years. I loved my family and the farm and the smugness that comes from knowing that you’re probably earning your keep, unlike your friends who sail into the community pool on pass every day.

But the more I’ve thought about those memories lately, the more I think I just wanted to be an adult. I have always been an old soul. And when I think of those commercials, I remember the moms the most. I wanted to be them, to guide my own crew and sail through my days with just a little more control than I had then, as a woman-child braving adolescence.

And so now this: I guess I’ve made it. Here I am with my captain and my crew and my own sails. I’m the buyer of the laundry detergent, the sweeper of the floors. I kiss the boo-boo’s and make the smoothies. I think of the crafts and drive the minivan to all sorts of fun activities.

To a point, I’m the woman in those commercials, albeit less perfect and shiny, more real, if you will.

I’m the woman I always wanted to be.  Summer is upon me. The calendar is full.

And I am cherishing this snapshot in time.

Present Day

photo(5)

Ah, happy birthday to this little man! My Colby is four today. I cherish the day of his birth. It was my best birth experience. He arrived around 6:30 p.m. on a gorgeous spring day, much like the one we had today. I still remember our first moments, with the sun streaming through the windows of our birthing suite at the hospital. I treasure the pictures of him with his older siblings, all clean and shiny in their big sister and big brother shirts. And I cherish every moment since, some of them not so good, and yet perfectly a part of the quilt of his life.

This boy is a blessing. He’s funny and true. He’s a joy and a presence. And I am so lucky to be his momma.

I am planning a carnival birthday party for Colby and his big brother Maxwell, who turns 7 on June 16. Ironically, the party is on my birthday on Saturday, June 1. The chance of rain that day has quadrupled since yesterday, and I can’t seem to organize my supplies to figure out what else is needed.  Ah, I’ve decided all will be well. After all, I can cry if I want to, right?

I have many irons in the fire, as usual. I spend most evenings at ballgames, most weekends at Lake Tweet. I have planned several summer trips. I have undertaken the challenges of overhauling both my eating and my exercise. I am also in the midst of reading three books, which is laughable, since I have time for none.

I am loving summer. But I often have the feeling of fogginess, of not quite being in the present. And that’s what bothers me. I have too much going on, of that I am sure. And so, this writing is good for me, and writing in my journal would be even better.

I am finding my way. And reminding myself that I’m right where God wants me to be. And I am just fine.

Every day is a gift, and that is why we call it the present.

“We Like to Say Hi to Daddy”

931244_599872400024608_151643716_n

I owe you all a post-Mom Prom post from the last weekend in April, during which I traveled to the Queen City’s Mom Prom in North Carolina. In fact, here’s a shot of us being interviewed on the pink carpet, where I told the reporter, rather mischievously, that our favorite part of the flash mob dance was, undoubtedly, “saying hi to daddy.”

As you may recall from my Bloom post, Mom Prom is a pediatric cancer fundraiser. This cause is near and dear to my heart because of my young friend Ava Cole who lost her battle and the many others like her. Being able to experience that night with my ten girlfriends was a bonus!

Here’s a photo that says a lot… maybe not at first, but after a little while as you take it in. Here are our bedazzled arms, just before leaving the hotel for the big event, complete with our colorful Ava, BrAva, and CureSearch bracelets. A wheel with many spokes… a cause with many supporters. What do we want? A cure for cancer? When do we want it? NOW!

And, more specifically, our Ava could have used it sometime between March 2010 and March of 2012, when she earned her wings.

424552_582084758481796_294381324_n

And so, we attended Mom Prom. We bought, we danced, we supported, we cried. We made memories. We shared our lives. We remembered precious little cancer warriors, some still fighting and some who have passed away, but all whose voices and wallets aren’t so big. We shared a toast to Ava, an incredible little girl that inspired all of us and helped to forge an iron sisterhood out of casual friendships. We bloomed.

71396_10101406573377594_1014822903_n

And we schemed.

It is our intent to bring our own flavor of Mom Prom to the Mid-Ohio Valley. We’ll find our own way and do our part to continue the all-important fundraising for childhood cancer, which receives a paltry 5 to 10 percent of all cancer research funds. So those of you in the area: be ready. We’re recruiting you, in a dress, as a warrior in this fight.

And plan on me being gone next year, around the same time, for a special road trip with my girlfriends. We’re going to extend the trip, widen the crowd and skip town for another fantastic night at Mom Prom 2014.

Bloom

Portrait by Megan Westervelt

Tomorrow is the day. I’ll wake bright and early, do my usual arm wrestling–maybe even a couple of body slams, hehehe–with the kids to get them dressed, brushed, fed and tucked into their places for the day. Then I’ll park my mommy ride and jump into my cousin’s van. We’ll meet up with eight of our girlfriends and then start the probably 6-hour drive to North Carolina, where we’ll pick up an eleventh friend from the airport and then check into a hotel, where we’ll sprawl unfettered around the place, maybe have a drink or two and then get gussied up for The Queen City’s Mom Prom, a pediatric cancer benefit that involves not only formal dresses and delicious food and drink, but an amazingly generous raffle and a choreographed Mom Prom flash mob dance! Sound like fun?

You betcha!!

But here’s the deal. There’s been a little bit of fretting over how we twenty- and thirty-somethings will look in our formal dresses, how we can look our best. There have been diets, wraps, cellulite cream applications and cleanses. For me, last week, I spent an hour or so lightening parts of my head while darkening others. (Insane, I know.) And, even though I’m not really a fan, I did my own little “Woohoo!” last week when I found a pile of Spanx bodysuits in a clearance pile at Gabriel Brothers for — wait for it! — TWENTY-FIVE CENTS APIECE. Unbelievable, right??

Because here’s the thing. … My hangup right now? My belly. It’s not flat. I’m having trouble defining my waist, or “whittling my middle,” as I say to amused friends. I’m not entirely on board any type of eating or exercise program. In fact, usually, I’m not on board at all. I’m freakin’ busy! And yet I long for that flat stomach and have done my own silly things in the name of vanity to try to make it exist.

In the midst of all of this cramming to be our best physical selves, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches videos went viral. I shared one version myself on my Facebook page the very second I finished watching it. This one is quite powerful. Dove used a forensic artist to create two sketches of each woman: one based on how she describes herself and one based on how a stranger described her after a short but intimate meeting. And the differences shock you.

And, luckily for me, that video hit my radar the day of our girlfriend “safety meeting,” during which we got together for a drink, dance practice and an update on what we’d be wearing and how we’d travel.

So I sat around with a couple of special ladies that night, later than most of the group stayed, and we had a frank discussion about our bodies. At one point, one of them said, “I think you look great. You don’t need to lose any weight.” This beautiful friend of mine is at least 40 pounds lighter than me. And what is she doing? Trying to lose weight. And what do I think she needs to do? Absolutely nothing!

And, as for that woman trying to get a flat belly? Well now, she has four kids! In fact, they are all under ten! If a surveyor were to ask me, “Do you feel a woman who has had four kids in seven years should have a flat stomach?” I would tilt my head to the side, pause and say, “No. No, I don’t. That woman grew four children in that belly. No, no. I don’t think it makes a bit of sense to expect that belly to be flat.”

And you know what? That woman is me!

So, we women are smart enough to know that pop culture and societal pressure can sometimes lead us as a nation to nearly impossible physical standards. We know this. And we buck it, but only for one another. We become the change we want to see in the world, but only for others. We’re still silently screaming at ourselves–about that double chin we think we have, or the last 15 pounds of baby weight or the nose we think is just far too big for our face. And, yet, in each other, in the faces and bodies of our girlfriends, we don’t see these things. And we certainly don’t want to project the impossible standards we have for ourselves on our daughters!

So… breathe.

The real story is this: Tomorrow, ten beautiful, precious women from Ohio (who have born 20 children among them) will make their way to North Carolina where they will pick up another beautiful lady (who recently carried an angel) and attend a Mom Prom with about 315 additional beautiful women. They will be every shape and size. Some will have dark skin while others will be fair. Some are tall, some petite. We’ll be a variety of things. And we’ll be there to spend our money on a cause for which our beautiful souls and hearts care so much about. We’ll celebrate one another and live in the moment.

And I pledge, while I might not lead with my belly and I do plan to wear the Spanx (such a deal, you know!), I will be proud of myself, inside and out. I’ll carry myself with confidence. I’ll show myself the love that I so easily show others. If my dress bursts at the seam, I’ll have a spare at the hotel. I’ll transform into another version of myself and return to the party.

I’ll do this for you and your daughter and me and mine. I’ll bloom.

Resuscitation

Hellooooo!? Is anyone out there?

I can’t believe what’s happened to this blog this spring, but I guess it proves it happens, right? I have missed writing. Where have I been? Tax season swallowed me whole there for awhile. I remember that. And my event planning hat is old and tired. And I’m doing a great job keeping the kids fed and watered. I’ll prove it with photos. First, from Easter:

IMG_0266

IMG_0263

IMG_0261

IMG_0268

We’ve been visiting our beloved Lake Tweet. So far, we’ve only got a couple of overnights in, but were very happy to have accomplished our annual hike to “Jess’s,” the old family homestead where hundreds of daffodils still bloom each spring.

IMG_0385

IMG_0378

IMG_0386 

And, because Luke was asleep back at camp with Daddy watching out for him, there’s no photo of him in the flowers, but instead, I’ll post a cute one of him and his “noodles” he loves so much.

IMG_0241

Team Roberts is alive and well. I’ve got a serious post about body image and girlfriends and how the two are related in my head. I’ll ruminate a bit on that over the next 24 hours and see if I can’t get it out.

For now, here are your three rescue breaths. I’m resuscitating this blog. Hopefully, we’ll have a steady respiration again soon!

A Break in the Weather

IMG_0191

Perhaps one of the only good things about not blogging often is that I have an abundance of cute photos to use when I do. These photos are from Sunday, just three short days ago, when it was warm enough here in southeastern Ohio for short sleeves, bike rides and a walk hand in hand with some of your best friends.

These three crack me up. But especially Luke. I had to show the progression of all these photos, taken within seconds of one another, to show you how he is constantly on the move. He’d make an excellent flipbook subject. The kid never stops moving, looking for the next mess or discovery or snack.

IMG_0192

IMG_0193

IMG_0194

IMG_0195

This is a busy time for me. My day job has the upper hand on my many projects and pursuits. My brain is on overdrive, but I’m moving mountains. I’m proud of what I’m doing, even though it, in the long run, will not be remembered, will not change the world, will not matter to humanity.

But much of what we do falls in that category. The many things we do that matter only now are still important. They are the details, but not the fabric, of our lives.

But they give us daily work. Reasons to fight the snooze button through this first hard week of Daylight Savings Time. These details give us the incentive we need to actually work and to not waste away the hours on Facebook, which surely provides social relationships but leaves no official record or gain of the time we spend.

I’m saying that the weeks matter. Without them, the weekends wouldn’t be as sweet, the time we get to truly work on our own projects wouldn’t be so satisfying.

IMG_0197

Our challenge, as humans and especially, as women, is to find that balance. To not only keep our bottoms off the ground on one side of one teeter totter, but on the numerous teeter totters we manage. Our balance is in knowing when we can leave something up in the air or down near the ground. There’s a perfect moment of equilibrium, and it is fleeting.

But when we find it, we hold tight. We take stock. We take a good look around. And life looks pretty good from here, where I can see all my teeter totters hanging in the air, good enough for now. Nothing’s on fire, no one is in danger.

We’re just fine.

IMG_0202

IMG_0203

The Last and the Baddest

rotten luke and sibs
I come in peace. I come with my palms up, in front of me, with slow measured steps and endless humility. I have no designs, no motives. I only wish to live and to live well.

And I am. All is well in my life, but I have a story to tell you that will help explain my melancholy tonight.

My day started with a slow wake-up with four kiddos, a breakfast of sausage links and scrambled eggs for the kids and scrambled eggs with fresh mushrooms, cilantro, salsa and hot creamy coffee for me. The older kids got ready for school. The younger kids were somewhat independent. After I got the older kids off to the bus stop, I grabbed the opportunity to wash my hair before getting ready for work and dashing off to my job.

And, somewhere in all of that, Lucas apparently flushed my expensive, cherished, special Ayala Bar 3-necklace set and a pair of hoop earrings down the toilet.

lost necklace sepia

Oh. The pain in my heart. (See necklace above…)

I had my outfit and my jewelry picked out last night, grabbed them on my way to the bathroom this morning before moving into the main level for breakfast and kid time. And, when I finally turned from the tub with my hair in a towel to put on my jewelry, maybe an hour later, it was gone. I asked Lucas, “Where is mommy’s necklace?” And he answered, quickly and plain as day, “In the toilet.” A quick glance that way for me, and then, “Lukie, did you flush mommy’s necklace down the toilet?” And, again, plainly, “Yes.”

My heart broke twice, I think. Once when I realized he was probably telling the truth, and then when I realized the poor kid knew how genuinely upset and angry I was.

His tune changed a bit after that. “Lukie, did you really flush mommy’s necklace down the toilet?” And from him, “Holby did it.”

Oh, Lukie. Holby didn’t do it. You did!!!

I still can’t be absolutely sure it’s down there, but I believe it is. We haven’t found it anywhere else, and Shrek dutifully poked around with a wire hook to see if maybe, just maybe, it caught on the trap. For my part, I called Mr. Rooter for his advice, and felt just sick about it. Actually, just genuinely sad all damn day.

And it’s not THAT big of a deal. I mean, yes, it was gorgeous and expensive, and I loved it. It was my gift from Shrek two Christmases ago.

But it was an object. A material thing. I still have Shrek and the marriage. And my neck and my children, and all the things that really matter.

Oh, but I am still sad. And stunned, a bit. And wow, does anyone else remember that part of The Christmas Pageant? I read that book growing up, and I honestly don’t remember much at all about it, except that the author wrote the last sibling is the worst, because he learns all the tricks and bad habits of his older siblings and adds his own.

And that Luke. My lord, that child! In the last four days alone, he has landed on his head, busted my top lip something terrible, flipped off the end of the loveseat a la ninja star… He has thrown things and broken things and jumped in his crib at night to call out, meanly, “momma, come up here, mommma, come up here now!”

And he has flashed those perfect little white teeth, looped his arms around my head and given me the best hugs, and cracked me up by dancing like a rock star while singing, “Dan, dan, dan! Dan, dan, dan!” He helps me by carrying clean laundry to the folding station, delivering drinks to his “Holby,” picking up all trash matter and taking it exactly where it should go.

Lucky for him, he’s cute. And I know he’s just the perfect little, terrible two-year-old.

But damn, I miss that necklace.

Joy Multiplied

With my help, my three-year-old spread a lot of joy via Facebook today. I shared photos of his orneriness–His Holy Orneriness, perhaps–and I think everyone who saw them got a good laugh to start the weekend. Some of you don’t see my debauchery on Facebook, so I’ll share some snaps here for you…

Colby gave himself a new ‘do, much to my dismay. He’s my redhead. My curly-haired, “fliptop-accented” kiddo. (But that’s another story.) He got ahold of Shrek’s beard trimmer and carved a remarkably steady, straight path almost exactly down the center of his head. Classic.

I knew he was upstairs. The big kids were home from school today, and I thought he was in Lily’s room with her. She thought he was with me. Turns out, he was opening his own barber shop here on Main Street.

And, in spite of those big pouty lips above, I am not terribly crushed. The kid’s hair grows full and quick, and it will be back in no time. And it’s just protein.

So I whipped out my own hair cutting arsenal and got to work. I ended up cutting Luke’s and Max’s hair as well. Granted, Colby’s is the shortest by far and definitely not perfect, but it will do. Here is his “after.”

So, we have recovered. We have a shorn Colby, a great story and lots of joy multiplied across the interwebs. Love wins.

Life is rolling right along. I am well. Busy. Perhaps a little unfocused–but only because I have my focus on so many things. There are new babies to love and friends who are passing out of this world soon. I am here and present, living and loving. I am so aware of the bigger picture, and I am so thankful my frame is so wide.

In that vein, today we celebrated a birthday in the family. Happiest of birthdays to my nephew Jud, the honorary brother of my sons. Here’s to life!

My Comfortable Slippers

Here’s just a quick photo to prove we’re still here! We have been through all matter of sickness this month, twice. I found myself in Nashville to meet Elvis and to find inspiration at the regional Origami Owl conference, SOAR 2013. It was a bright spot in a month that was, that always will be, January.

But now, now I’m on the end side of the week. I’m on the February side of January. And I’m ready to decompress for a couple of days, to find the next right thing in front of me.

And I need some sleep. So I can be cheerful with these four little sweethearts in the morning. I need to hang up my musings, my burden, my work–I need to hang them up for a couple of snowy days and put on my mommy shoes, like the warmest, softest, most comfortable slippers you can buy. And I can’t wait.