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.



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



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

In with the New

I’m just pleased as punch with my new master bathroom mini-remodel! I had a vision on a Pinterest board that I’ve been building for years. One Tuesday morning about a month ago, I woke up and started ordering the pieces. It was time.

How many times does a Pinterest board come to life? Successfully? In my life, not too many times. So I celebrate!

We moved into our new home in November 2017, and, with the help of my awesome mom and aunt, we repainted about 10 of 13 rooms. The master bath was one of them.

I painted it a lovely blue called Quietude, which I had in my old home and liked. But I’ve never liked it here. I don’t know if it was the lighting, the lack of natural light or what, but it always felt too “blue lagoon” to me. Here are some pics, which are now “Before” pics…

And so, as quarantine goes, I’ve been spiffing some things up around here. This is probably my most visual project, and, like I said, I’m pleased with it! The details, the daintiness…. the “After.”

Those mirrors! That light!

A little story on the light…. I spent more than I budgeted, initially. Then, when I found out this particular light was on backorder and wouldn’t arrive for months but had already fallen in love, I found it on Ebay for only $20 more!

So yes, as I said. Over-budget! But lovely!

I promise, I did save some money in other ways, like using paint I had left over from my mudroom project on the vanity and spray-painting my old black knobs with gold paint. I’ve also sold some pieces from the old bathroom.

So, if you need me, I might be in a bubble bath, or just burning some candles in the dark of night, in a room I didn’t need to redecorate, but wanted to redecorate.

And so, I did. I do the things.

In with the new!

Never Bored, Always Blessed

This is the hopeful pile I carry around the house with me. My new favorite magazine, my new journal (number 74, I kid you not,) and my Kindle. I am somewhat amazed but not really surprised that even after nearly three months of this quarantine-style living, I have not run out of things to do. I am not bored. I have always said I’d never be bored, and this lovely/frustrating/sad situation has proven me right.

Mother’s Day!

I’ve been working from home, absolutely killing a new workout regimen, mothering my children, loving my husband, and caring for my home and our textiles (the endless laundry). I’ve even done some special projects, and I’ll have a master bathroom reveal in the next couple of weeks.

There have been special celebrations, spa days, camping weekends, last day of school pics, reverence for those who have served, the blooming of summer and all kinds of shenanigans. Really, it’s been lovely.

I am fully aware that there are bad things happening out there. I pray. I write. But I feel peace in this house… In the temple of my body and the hum of my marriage.

There’s a birthday to celebrate today and several more on the horizon. Plans for the beach in about three weeks are on track. I have fresh bacon out of the oven and a second cup of coffee in my future.

Life is good, and I have so much to do. Never bored, always blessed.

The Blessing

Colby, on a recent Zoom call with his classmates

So yesterday I woke up early, on my own, at about 6 a.m. This was not normal. I laid in my bed for a bit before getting up for my coffee and the sunrise. The extra time allowed me to finish the prayers I had fallen asleep on. It was a blessing.

After working a half day, ensuring that homework was indeed done, soothing Luke through a complete and total gaming addiction meltdown (that’s another post) and then chiming in to a quick staff Zoom call, I took our son Colby a couple of hours away to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. He had an audiology appointment where one of his two cochlear implants was upgraded with a new processor. Apparently, because of the physical nature of actually activating the new implant, our appointment was considered essential.

We’ve had this appointment set for months. In the week leading up to it, I heard from his new audiologist that she had actually been furloughed, and said she wasn’t sure if she would be the one to meet with us. But luckily, she was. She was awesome in every way.

But let’s back up a minute. Sometime a couple of weeks ago, I realized how soon this trip to Columbus would come. Once a pretty regular thing—the me, getting into a car, driving an hour or more, interacting with others, getting stuff done, the sweet prospect of Starbucks—this upcoming trip felt novel.

I got excited, thinking maybe I would just sneak in that Target trip because I had some items I can’t usually find at my discount grocery store that I wanted to buy. I debated the entire way up, but had time to kill, so decided to make the stop.

Colby and I donned our masks and went into a completely somber Target. Don’t get me wrong, there were people bebopping around there without masks shopping like nothing was up. But, for the most part, the employees all had masks, and there was absolutely no music playing. I didn’t do my normal end cap clearance shopping. I simply went in for the things I needed, many of which were not in stock. There was no joy.

Let me say that again. I was at Target, a place I rarely get to visit except for during these trips to Columbus, and there. was. no. joy. It actually felt wrong to be there.

At the hospital, we found a great parking spot. (I wonder why.) We entered to a checkpoint, where we were asked to swap our masks for their masks. The elevator stood open and waiting for us, and we traveled to the second floor. Check-in was pretty much like normal, but an audiology appointment where the audiologist, the patient, and the patient’s mom all wear masks the entire time? That was odd.

In fact, when the audiologist tried her Ling Six Sound Check for Colby and was looking around for her embroidery hoop with the black fabric stretched through the hoops so he would have to rely solely on his ears to repeat the sounds, I had to remind her that he could not see her mouth. She ended up holding a piece of paper up, saying it was for her own sake, because, to an audiologist, it just doesn’t seem right to administer “Ling sounds” without holding something in front of your face.

We upgraded the processor, and, thankfully, were spared the testing booth. Afterward, the audiologist and I ended up having a wonderful conversation that made the entire day feel more welcoming. After all, this audiologist is a mother, working some of the time from home, helping to school her children from home, wondering about her job security…. pretty much all the things I’m doing.

Per usual, Colby‘s big treat and constant for the day was getting Subway. While I was unsure about being at the hospital any longer than necessary, I reasoned it would be one less stop. So we headed down to the cafeteria, and I kid you not: The one worker at Subway, the three workers at Koco’s, Colby, and I were the only six people in the entire place. How strange is that?

Once we had our food in hand, I escorted Colby past the closed gift shops, the closed coffee shop, into to the elevator and then the parking garage. Our overall hospital experience looked vastly different than any other we have had over the past seven years.

We drove out of Columbus in rain, with a somewhat ominous feel. I was looking for my own treat on the trip: a Starbucks americano with heavy whipping cream and two shots of sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup. Sadly, I missed the mark, as the Starbucks I found in Reynoldsburg had closed 45 minutes earlier (at 4 p.m.!!) due to shortened hours.

We were about six hours into the trip by then. I wanted to go home but decided I absolutely had to make my grocery stop on the trip as well, because leaving my house again in two days to get it in before the weekend just didn’t appeal to me.

So, a good appointment, an eerie trip. Eerie enough that, while only a couple of hours from our hometown, the trip gave me the perspective to see this pandemic on a grander scale.

Let me tell you something. I’ve always prided myself on being really great at weighing all sides of a situation, at seeing all sides of a story. I can be neutral to a fault. Empathy runs deep with this one.

I get that there are people, throughout the nation and the world, that are putting out negative energy in reaction to Covid-19 safety precautions. I know that the economy is tanking. This is not good!

But I had a visceral feeling yesterday, really just a releasing inside myself that told me I don’t have to understand it all. I don’t have to exhaust myself with the constant considering that maybe this isn’t right, that maybe we are overreacting, that maybe I have some sort of power in this that I’m not fully realizing.

I can’t choose that black cloud.

I truly believe that the officials who are putting plans in place to try to contain the spread are not being malicious. We are all human beings, doing the best we can in unfathomable, global circumstances. We will recover.

Instead of lamenting the things I am missing, the places I cannot go, I will be be present. I will be positive. I will choose hope.

It’s a blessing.

Sun-kissed & Things Missed

Well, we’re into Week 7 of our “stay-at-home”/quarantine. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore. But here we are.

I think it might actually be getting easier. Scratch that, it’s easier. Just knowing that we won’t see the kids return to school for May and the end-of-year activities, while sad, is also little bit reassuring. If only because we actually KNOW something.

It’s the not knowing that gets to you.

What do I know? I know this has been hard. That this spring doesn’t look like any other spring I’ve ever had, and, especially, like the last couple of springs, when this family chased its tail all over ballfields, high school tracks, volleyball courts across the state and all the places in-between. I haven’t eaten food out of a concession stand for literally months. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s abnormal, especially at this time of year.

I know, from watching home movies, that there would have been much harder times in my motherhood for this quarantine to hit. I had forgotten the sheer noise of four little kids! Plus, I only had an online connection in Facebook with others for the last one or two babies. And Zoom? Forget that!

What else do I know? Let’s see. I know one thing that has remained a steadfast in all the springs of my life, and that is Lake Tweet. My haven is still there, still accessible to me. Thank the Lord! These rare weekends there—with all the rain, there have really only been two or three—are just incredible for the quarantined soul.

Some crazy things went down this past weekend. For one thing, our kids decided it was “hot enough” to go swimming, and hilarity ensued. It’s pretty early for a dip in Lake Tweet, as these photos prove.

I truly enjoyed our time there, as evidenced by both my sunburn and my empty cooler. I was sun-kissed.

But I spent some time this past weekend thinking of things missed.

I miss yard sales. Sounds silly, but they’re a hallmark of spring for me and a great way to spend an hour or two on a Friday morning off work.

I miss hugs. Thank goodness, I have my kids for that kind of affection. But I know my mom could use a hug and that, certainly, some of my “hugger” friends could use some too.

I miss the hustle and bustle of spring mornings, getting all the kids off to school with various uniforms and money for after-school meals squeezed in before sporting events, then getting into my van with my coffee and my music for my long drive to work. Once there, I miss climbing up the stairs and the hills to my office, seeing the beauty of campus in the spring and walking into my building to familiar faces and routines.

I miss cheering on kids, hearing about senior shenanigans, and stealing rare free spring afternoons with my girlfriends with a refresher in the Brumate or in a wine glass. I miss the impromptu nature, the promise and the hope of a normal spring.

I miss flowers… Like, going to the greenhouse and spending a small fortune. Thankfully, there are pockets of flower sales here and there that have gotten me through.

I have traded these things, not by will, but by fact, for other things.

Like the ability to finish my workday around 4 p.m. to do a two-week ab workout challenge with my 16-year-old daughter, who reminds me she has only two more years here at home…. I have enjoyed making wholesome family suppers and eating them without rush around the dining room table or out on the amazingly beautiful (even without flowers) back deck…. I now get to play-fight, on a regular basis, with my son, who is quickly becoming a man… I have had the time to scratch my little boys’ backs while singing prayers to them at bedtime.

I have watched my kids interact in ways they just wouldn’t have done had they not lived through a pandemic together.

There are benefits in this crazy time. Here in Week 7, I find myself settling in a bit, truly accepting things I cannot control, savoring the good times and just becoming.

I’m finding time—because I do have some of that to spare—to be sun-kissed and to feel reverence for things missed.

How are you TODAY?

Team Roberts, Easter 2020

I once had someone very close to me serve time in prison. I learned a lot of things during that time. One of the lessons that has stuck with me, after more than 20 years, is that there is great wisdom in asking the question, “How are you TODAY?” In general, that person was probably not well, but “today?” Maybe they’re OK.

And that’s what I’m reminded of during this pandemic and throughout our “stay-at-home” executive order. My feelings, my experience change day to day. Some days? I’m OK. Other days? I just have to go to sleep and give it all to God. Because wow, what a $*^@show!

And that’s just me, as a mom, who still has a job and a lovely home and lots of amazing family and friends who have kept me connected, kept me sane.

There are others that are experiencing way crazier things than me, whether they are parents struggling to find out what’s for dinner because the cupboards are actually bare, or the doctor on the seventh long shift in a row, fighting to keep people alive. There are so many others.

Whether we like it or not, we have a front-row seat to history. We’re right here in the very first car of the roller coaster, seeing it unfold just the way it is unfolding, with no sneak peeks or warnings of the twists and turns ahead.

There’s some joy in that, but, mostly, a lot of risks. In this case, the biggest risk is contracting this crazy, evolving virus, about which we don’t know much for certain.

But there are other risks. We might lose ourselves. We might not leave the best impression on our kids, who, really, in twenty years, are only going to remember the skim of this, the overarching feeling we gave them in this time of uncertainty. There’s a risk that we might make an ass of ourself fighting on social media. We might lose friends.

As you go through this, remember that. Remember, as I say, to give yourself grace and to give those around you even more grace. I’ve tried to title these posts in tidbits of advice…. give “Grace,” “Hold the Bubble,” “Pivot,” be a “Pioneer.”

Around here, we’ve done lots of family activities. We’ve talked to our teachers and friends and family with the help of technology. We powered through an unusual, but blessed, Easter holiday. We colored eggs (and toes;) taped light sticks on our youngest, most energetic kids and let them dance in the dark for cool videos; turned our sidewalk and driveway into a challenging obstacle course; attended three different birthday parades; put up a dartboard that has given us hours of quality family entertainment and competition.

We fought. We laughed. We made memories.

Today, I urge you to ask yourself, your coworker, your neighbor, your momma: How are you TODAY? Put your best foot forward. Be brave on that roller coaster. Tighten your seatbelt, and hold on for the ride.

For you, my love, in spite of the fact that you did not choose to be, are on the cusp of history.

How are you TODAY?

Never enough

There was a Facebook post this week that I saw from a Missouri mom (Kate Lambert, of Uptown Farms) who was disheartened by people giving ideas for what to do with “all this time.” She was flummoxed by the idea that maybe she should teach her kids life skills, take an online class, learn French (never), et cetera.

I think of things to do with “all this time,” too, and then I get a grip! Who am I kidding?! While this pandemic has given us a lot of time at home and with our families, it’s also given us a lot of new jobs!

I’m still working, mothering, homeschooling, cooking, doing laundry and dishes, trying to keep the kids clean and safe and alive and happy and trying to get a workout every day. I see you, Kate Lambert! And I don’t even live on a farm. (Our cat is easy peasy. Thank you, Hazel Marie.)

There are things I’d love to do…. I would like to read a good novel that carries me away from my own reality. I have an idea for repainting and repurposing two framed dinosaur prints into signs for our master bathroom. I’d like to make some shirts for my camping friends. I have a desk, end tables and a coffee table to refinish. Naps to take. Journal entries to write. New spring magazines to read…

But I can’t seem to find the time.

On Sunday, Lily and I found the time to help my mom make fabric masks for many of our large extended family. We socially distanced, except for this photo, I promise. And I think that was the last quality time we’ll get to spend with her until this is all over.

That first cup of coffee every day is a joy. I always have hope in my heart that we’ll get through the homework, the video meetings and the endless food activities—the deciding, the making, the baking, the clean-up…. the dishes.

There are bright moments in each day, but plenty of rough moments too: moments of conflict, of anger, of worry. There’s definitely prayer and gratitude and perspective. There are so many blessings.

Tonight, there was a family dunk contest, which I definitely lost. And a messy workout, an awesome family meal and a gorgeous sunset.

Tonight, we win. There was enough time. We did enough.

For others, this pandemic is absolutely life-changing. Other families are experiencing much harder days, sad or unrealized goodbyes, and end of life.

For some, truly, there’s never enough time…. and those are the ones on my heart tonight.

So hug your babies. Say the things you need to say.

Whatever you do with “all this time,” please stay home, stay safe and stay aware of your blessings and your reasons.


Wednesday Wine & Whine, Episode 2, via Zoom

So, how are you doing in this brave, new world? I am so lucky to have a bevy of other moms and women to ponder this question with over wine on Wednesday nights. This week’s crew came to the screen from various hiding places (cars, garages, closets) and with several guest starring children, who made the call that much sweeter.

The conversation was all over the place and went on for hours. Basically, we’ve decided this: We are in unprecedented times. This is a wacky world. We’re pioneers, and we make the rules.

Sometimes, that means having a glass of “wine with DeWine” at 2 p.m. on a weekday, or everyday… As a pioneer lady living in a modern world, I’m feeding my flock many times a day, pushing the homeschooling and showing up online for video chat meetings for work.

Sometimes that means eating great all day, doing your workout and then binge-eating cookies after a nice Zoom chat with your tribe. Sometimes it means words come out of our mouth that we never thought we’d have to say out loud, as our children also struggle to fill the hours and days.

Almost every day, I admit it, I lose my cool at LEAST once, but more often, three or four times. I cycle through moods like a teenage girl, and, yesterday, I wasn’t above crying.

I had to take myself to the bath with candles, a mixed drink and Ella Fitzgerald crooning jazz. It. was. lovely.

Today, I had a bit of a hangover, but newfound peace. There’s no right or wrong way to get through Quarantine 2020. OK, well, actually, there is, if you don’t do the quarantine part. That would be WRONG. But I see you, momma over there with your kids in different grades and your obligations to work or your frustration with the unemployment site. I see you, essential working momma, who disrobes on the porch, in the garage or just inside the door every day to avoid exposing your family to the virus. I see you, wherever you are, doing your best and working all angles to get yourself and your family through this time.

If those schedules on Facebook stress you out, ignore them. If your kids want to make their fourth PBJ of the day instead of eating your beautiful lasagna for which you sacrificed the last of the cheese to make, fine. If you just can’t begin to think of the fact that we will have our kids home for another month (here in Ohio,) but instead can only look day to day, I get that!

The point is, we’re doing this thing. We may, at times, feel powerless or defeated or chubby as all get out, but we’re OK. We’re doing the right things for the right reasons. Our kids are going to remember the best parts of this, and I sure do hope they forget about the times I lost my cool and the times you lost yours.

Because we’re all just pioneers, finding our way toward an unknown future and making history, one day at a time.


It’s that magical time of year when spring blooms all around us. Every day, a new flower or type of bush is blooming. I typically commute to work for hours each week, and I mark the weeks by what is blooming: the forsythia, then the ironwoods and redbuds and so on. This year, I feel like I’m seeing spring burst forth day to day. I’ve got the time to do that now: to walk in nature with purpose but with a clearer head, more flexibility with my time and my thoughts and my path.

Oh, I’ve got a lot of time to think.

Tonight, my whole family was supposed to spending a second night in a hotel a state over, where my daughter, Lily, was supposed to be shining at Spikefest with her regional volleyball team. It was a three-day tournament, with play long into the night, and we were all really looking forward to it.

But the entire season has been cancelled now. Instead of pulling up her kneepads and controlling the net from her middle hitter position, she’s taking a lot of walks with her dear, old mom.

I would have loved to have seen how far she and her team could have gone this season. I still wonder about the remainder of the school year and whether or not I’ll get to see her and Max compete on the track and Colby and Luke compete on the baseball field. I just don’t know.

And, honestly? I have had some very hard days this week, sifting through the news stories, my emotions, the thoughts and reactions of my friends and family, and hearing opinions I just don’t know if I can get behind, even though they are held by people I admire and trust.

So I’ve been a little quiet. I’ve been thinking. I’ve decided, as I always do, to trust my gut. Give grace. Remember it’s about the people, and not the places. All my life lessons seem to rise to the surface at times like these. And they give me peace.

No one knows how this is going to play out. But I know this: my worst day of struggling with my mental health, balancing my life, dealing with changed plans and cancelled events I was really looking forward to is leaps and bounds better than the worst days of some of the physicians, nurses and medical professionals throughout the country and the world, who are in dark days now of treating COVID-19 patients with limited personal protection equipment, lack of beds and the absolute void of any drug to fight it whatsoever.

In thinking of these life-and-death situations playing out in hospitals everywhere, it becomes very easy to step back from the melancholy long enough to recognize that my burden is so light. I am SAFE at home, as opposed to STUCK at home. And I can still gather my girlfriends for a Wine & Whine. (SO important!)

I am loved and fed and employed and aware. I have been focused on the things I can do: I can stay connected with loved ones through phone and video calls and in-person conversations from six feet away; enjoy card games, craziness and baking with my kids; and through the doing of good deeds. (Please stop littering, folks!)

I can get through the unknowns and the theoretical differences and the feelings. I can pray and write and laugh and cry.

I can pivot.

New Normal

All pictures from yet another awesome hike today. This time, at our beloved Lake Tweet.

There’s been a bit of a shift lately. I felt really great on Sunday. Like I was truly able to see this pandemic situation at face value. The answers seemed easier. I felt a settling in, a sense of calm.

I’ll admit I’m not quite as zen after two full days of working at home while trying to mother and manage my children. I’ve cussed a little, screamed a lot. But did I get my hours in? Yes. Are we all sitting here on the sectional couch, watching “America’s Got Talent” and feeling peaceful and well-fed? Yes.

But also, is one kid hacking? Yes. Has another kid had a low-grade fever for a couple days? Also yes.

Such is life in this crazy time. Find a little peace. Lose it. Trust in your Maker. Be filled with doubt and fear. Love the time with your family. Yearn to run far, far away.

But then, you get a hug from one of your kids out of the blue, connect with a coworker in a video call, watch your kids willingly pass on the last slice of pizza to give it to the teenage man who lives in our house that can’t get a deep enough dish at the moment.

And you feel OK. You realize everything’s fine… that this moment in time will eventually end, though no one yet knows when it will end. You see the perfection in being imperfect.

Sometimes you realize that your lunch break is going to have to be extended and completely repurposed as physical education class. And you give yourself that grace. You convince your kids to put on actual clothes and mud boots and get in the %$#*@ van. Time to go, people!

So you meet your sister and her husband and her gaggle of homeschoolers and you hike to a place you’ve been every spring of your life: to the old homestead of Jess’s, just out back of our beloved Lake Tweet. You traipse in mud and let all the world go for a bit… You hike to a little patch of wild daffodils to find the answer to the entire family’s annual question: “Are they blooming yet?”

Yes. Yes, they are….

You pick through the mud and catch the smiles. You don’t worry about the past or the future; you just live in the present.

You love the way your kids are delighted with their cousins, their first friends, their family land.

You take pictures, you get some fresh air, take the joke photo with two of your siblings that whatever three always takes when one of us is missing….

And then, you walk back up the hill of your childhood. You pack your kids back up in the van, listen to some country music on the short drive back home and finish your afternoon of work with a little bit more peace.

You find your new normal.

The Family Happy Hour

So this is the best thing that happened to me today: my brilliant cousin in Denver suggested we hold a Family Happy Hour tonight, and, in the span of two hours, 48 different family members logged on and shared their faces, their jokes and their situations. (And, also, their pets.) What a blessing!

I thought about this blog post a lot today. It had several different themes and titles: Break Down, New Normal, Shelter-in-Place…..

And those were all going to pretty much convey my not-so-great mental state today with a side of optimism. But, instead, we get to call this post Family Happy Hour, and I come to you from a true place of hope, of gratitude, of a happy hour well done!

As I’ve said, this experience we’re in is unprecedented. And, nationally, we’re in it together.

I’ve been working hard on understanding that this might not be the three weeks I originally thought, but maybe more like six to eight weeks of hunkering down, holding the bubble, putting life on hold.

We’re all going to have to find new normals. It’s tough, but maybe a bit like the gardening I did yesterday: if I weed correctly and from the root in the spring, I might just have an easier time of it in the summer. That’s exactly my thought as I weeded, and I realized it applied to the social distancing we’re all being asked to do now. If we do it right, it might just save our summer. We might just get to see that ocean, share that campfire and host those pool parties.

So tonight, I celebrate my extended family, the promise of a better day and the resilience we all have as Americans. While I have long since survived this life without my grandparents, I adore that generation, the strength of their shoulders and the wisdom and fortitude they can share.

We know that there have been cases of and deaths from COVID-19 in the younger generations, but we know, too, that this virus is hardest on our senior citizens. So our grandparents were called to war, and here we are, called to stay on the couch, in the house, to protect them.

That’s what it really all boils down to, and I know we can do it.

In this house, this week, we actually prayed the Rosary together as a family (a first,) we helped each other with homework, we started what we hope to be pen pal relationships for the duration of the suspended school year and we played in the mud and in the rain.

We’re getting through this. And I know you will too.

Just be sure to use the modern technology we have today to reach out to those you love. Schedule that video conference with your family or your friends. Hold your bubble, but expand it when you can. Find your new normal. Call a friend. And, for pete’s sake, figure out a way to celebrate a weekend Happy Hour. You’ll thank me later.