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. =)

Hold the bubble

It’s so early into this thing, and I still don’t even know how to count the days. Is this Day 5? Day 3?

What a crazy thing! Take a society that is used to everything at the touch of a button, at their very fingertips. Take a nation that is used to being on the go, all the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on the run nearly every day of the week. Practices, games, exams, meetings and deadlines. All the time, the deadlines. What could throw the biggest wrench in this thing? Seclusion. Shutdown. Shelter-in-place.

It’s the best novel plot. A perfect climax. A true nightmare.

In spite of all of this, a tanking economy, a delayed Ohio primary election and postponed higher education commencement exercises, I still get it.

But it doesn’t make it any easier.

I’d say, over here at the house of the Roberts family, we’re doing OK. I’ve been able to work 15 hours in the past three days. We’ve gotten them outside when possible, for basketball in the driveway, bike rides, hikes, and more. We’ve fed what feels like an army at least four times a day. How can six people be an army?

I’m not sure, but we’re in this war. Not just the one against COVID-19. But this war with ourselves, our instincts, each other, our appetites. There’s a war going on in the back of my brain right now trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this is looking like it’s going to last more like six to eight weeks and not just three, like I originally told myself.

There are so many good moments, though. We’ve conquered nearly all of the homework, family yoga, a couple of novels, 2.5 puzzles, an ENTIRE game of Phase 10, some Lunchtime Doodles with Mo Willems, several games of Blokus, an art project, two hikes, three runs. Something is working here!

So, just like that first time you were successful in blowing the perfect bubble as a child….. hold the bubble. I see you struggling to keep your sanity. I raise you mine.

Hold the bubble.


All photos from a much-needed hike today with some of my loves.

It’s been more than four years since I’ve written for this blog. I’ve been meaning to start back up, and I can’t think of a better time.

Friends, this COVID-19 pandemic and the implications on our society are everything. It’s hard and necessary and unprecedented and inconvenient. It’s truly, truly hard to follow all of the guidelines and obey all of the orders, but we must.

We must, for the time being, band together by staying apart. This is not instinctual. Here in my Small Town, USA, we gather at the first sign of trouble. We watch each other’s kids, we take whole meals to families in need, we hug often and long and many, and we pray in a circle. That’s what feels right and natural. But, this time, it’s highly discouraged, and, maybe sooner than we can imagine, could become illegal.

There’s so much information coming from so many places, and social media is just on fire with opinions that range the spectrum; more sad, love and angry emojis than any one user can process; and all kinds of information, proven and unproven. Every time I look at my email, I’ve got some kind of update from my employer, from crazy company listservs I didn’t even know I was on and, then, inexplicably, some kind of regular old email encouraging me to buy pictures on an upcoming school picture day or to take advantage of some awesome deal I care nothing about. I can’t!

These are dark times, friends. For some, they are the darkest times. For those with elderly in nursing homes they can no longer visit, for parents of sick or formerly sick children with compromised immune systems and fear I can’t even fathom. There are myriad workers from the medical field to the cashier checkout that will not be offered the work-from-home circumstance that I have so kindly been able to accept. There are people—good, hardworking and trained people!—losing their jobs or being laid off because the precautionary measures have reduced their clientele, closed their place of business or slashed their workload so dramatically that their employer can no longer use them or pay them, or, sadder yet, that they, as business owners, are cut to the quick from all sides and cannot even pay themselves.

At the heart of it all, we’re all the same. We’re all scared of something. We’re uncomfortable. We’re not sure where we stand, where we should stand, where we will all stand in one week, in one month. We’re powerless, to a point. We’re frustrated.

But love remains. I know, without confirmation but without a shadow of a doubt, that I feel very differently about all of these recommendations and orders than one of my lifelong, most precious friends feels. And yet, all I have for her is so much love, prayers for her safety and that of her family and the absolute yearning to hug her and tell her that this, like all things, will pass and that we’re all going to make it.

But the truth of the matter is that we are not all going to make it. If we are lucky, we will use this time to make memories with our kids and to shower them with love, and those will be the torches we carry from this and reminisce upon in the future. If we are lucky, we will not remember this time because of the people we lost, the people we loved, who were not so lucky.

So do these things for me:

Give yourself and others grace.
So much grace.
Open your heart.
Accept that you are
but a fleck of sand on this earth, but that God has you
in the palm of His hand.

Heed the warnings. Love your children, your mate, whoever it is in that tight circle that will undoubtedly become your bubble in the coming days, weeks and months. Grow in whatever way you can. Find your reason. Read books. Challenge your mind with a puzzle and your thighs with an incredible hike in the outdoors.

Mostly, hold fast to your faith, to what you know to be true: You were here, you lived this, and while it was the burden of all of us, it was also yours and your feelings are valid and allowed.

Find the beauty in your family and your home. Be gentle with yourself. Stay strong.

May peace be with you.

There’s never enough…


As I get older and wiser, I’ve learned that one of the biggest lessons in life is to learn how to respect time. There are few things more powerful than time.

As a modern woman who, as Amy Westervelt put it in the Huffington Post this week, might just have it all (but it sucks sometimes,) I have a unique relationship with time. I am nearly always in a bit of a rush. I abuse time in so many ways. Sometimes I wish it away and sometimes I fight like hell to slow it down. I bide time, I need time, I rush time. And time marches on, just as it always will. Although I know there are days that are scientifically slightly shorter and slightly longer, the weight of one second, one minute, one hour is always the same. Because that is true, your worst hour was no longer than your best, but the human mind and heart don’t remember it that way.


Tonight I got home late after stopping for groceries (always, the groceries!) after work. My hubby, with whom I have not truly connected all week, helped carry in the loot and then took off to head back to work to fix a problem. I put them away, pulled the big kids away from their devices and their rooms, recruited all four kids to help clear a soggy table after a drink spilled, changed my clothes and settled them all down for “family game night” at that very table (bare wood for now). The olders and I played rummy and the youngers attempted Nemo Memory. We had about ten minutes of perfect peace before it all went downhill.

The littlest, who some know as Luke though I have been known to call him “the last and the baddest,” was really testing me. He’s got a bit of a potty mouth, usually of the “shut up/butthead/idiot” variety. He’s loud. He often teeters toward downright mean. He’s funny, too, though. And sweet and original and smart. But, tonight, he blew all of his “last chances” right out the window. I warned him in the most even-tempered tone I could manage, far more times than I said I would.

And, finally, it was too much. I lassoed he and Colby up the steps, put them to bed and returned to the table to finish my game. And Luke, as he often does, chose that time to unleash his sad tears in a torrent of regret. His wails forced out even Colby, who, as many of you know, doesn’t hear that well. But even Colby has limits.

I thought of those times as a kid, and even, sometimes, times as an adult, where I just needed that cleansing cry. And I think a good regretful cry session does Luke a lot of good every now and then.

So we let it roll for awhile. And finally, mercifully, the rummy hand ended, and I could put all four kiddos in bed. It was nearly 9 p.m.


I soothed Luke by drying his tears, covering him back up and finally nestling in between he and Colby in the double bed they sleep in, laying in the wrong direction. (They are still short enough to pull this off.) And I rubbed that silky soft little back and thought about time.

Part of me wanted to get out of there and–what? Read? Catch up on Downton Abbey? Drink some more wine in honor of National Drink Wine Day? (It’s real, go have a glass!)

The other part of me thought about how that back was going to grow right along with the kid to whom it belonged. That part of me thought about how much has changed in twelve years and how much more change is bound to occur in the next twelve years. (I honestly can’t bear to think about it….)

I thought about how these kids don’t keep and time won’t wait. And how I yearn for a new, bigger house, but that I’ll miss this one and the memories it holds like the heart inside of me. For this is where we began. This is where those babies came to live and love and dream and fight.


Time can be both a bastard and a blessing. But mostly, it just is. And we humans have to wrap our minds and our hearts around the fact that we can’t control any of it. That we can’t truly get rid of it or get it back or change any one thing about it. We are here, now, at its mercy, under its reign. And we won’t always be.

Time is going to outlast us all. Make the most of yours.

Wonderful World

Roberts Snow
My reasons

Ah, where to start? It’s been a long break from this blog, but I return to you in this space. I can’t say for sure that I’m rested or more inspired, but I’m more me.

My children have grown just a little bit more. My motherhood has been rich with hugs, kisses and funny conversations. My home has been full of life and love and laughter. And, my goodness, what else could I want?

We’ve had a couple of those amazing weather days. I walked a quick twenty minutes on my lunch break today at work. Long strides, fresh air, sun on my face. Just amazing. And, I kid you not, I thought to myself, “What a wonderful world.”

It has been such a process to learn to just be. Remember, all you busy, modern people, we are human beings. Not human doings. It’s okay to sit on a bench and stare into space. It’s good to put that phone down and not pick it up for minutes and hours. It’s very good. It’s okay to say, “No, it’s time we spent some time as as a family. I’m sorry I can’t ….”

Between Colby’s hearing journey (which continues and is a post in itself) and my own little health scares recently, I feel like I’ve been in doctor’s office waiting rooms a lot lately. One of those waits stands out. There was an eccentric older woman waiting with me in an office recently. She wasn’t comfortable with the whole “let’s-politely-ignore-each-other” thing that strangers typically do these days in waiting rooms, elevators and, frankly, entirely too many places.

No, this woman wanted to talk. And I, while sometimes quite the “over-sharer,” wasn’t really so chatty that day, as luck would have it. But this woman says to me, “Do you realize that stress is not a physical thing? It’s not found in the body, you can’t touch it or see it. It’s entirely made up. Let it go.”

And damned if she isn’t right! I’ve thought of that statement in my tightly wound moments, through stress headaches and bad days. I can control the stress that I feel and the ways in which I can expend that energy in more positive ways.

So, tonight, while I freely admit to brain cloudiness and midweek fatigue, I am going to leave it at that. Stretch your legs a little further on your next purposeful walk. Laugh at yourself when you make a fool of yourself. Look up to the sky at any hour to remind yourself how small you really are…. Be a human being.

Take time to think to yourself… it’s a wonderful world.


Me, on a lighter night, coloring my hair and sending a silly selfie to a friend….

I could title this post any number of things. Over it. Living right. Can’t Erin anymore. All is well. ‘Roid rage.

I’ve been all those places this week. And last. And maybe the week before. I’m on a 24-day steroid taper. Turns out, that kind of med might not work with my already crazy life. I’m already living on the edge of what I can do, and there have been moments and hours and days in the past week when I’ve been far over the edge, in a black hole of many makings, not able to Erin anymore.

But today I’m OK. I can say that this challenging time has been good in one way: I’ve written more. And I’ve thought about writing a ton.

Rather than blog, I think I’ll just share a journal entry with you. Here’s your glimpse into what I’m really thinking, today, at about 1 p.m., over a lovely solo lunch and an iced pumpkin spice coffee….


Wow. All I can say is that steroids are no joke. I have been up and I have been down. Extremes seem to be the name of the game. The allergic rash is gone, and the psoriasis is smooth, but there’s still a lot of it. I’m nervous to see how it will be a week or so past the steroid finale, but what is worry? Wasted energy.

I have a lot of seemingly wasted energy lately–if that’s what worry is. Most of my worry is financial. I fought that low bank account all weekend and so far this week. I did finally get paid today. Now I have to be the squirrel in the forest, stockpiling and guarding the nuts to make it through the winter, or, in this case, just the next two weeks until the next payday. This, of course, will be very difficult, as I have a trip to New York coming up, Lily’s birthday to plan and gift and the usual. Again, God will cover me. And I may buy a lotto ticket just in case He wants to end my financial misery once and for all.

So. A busy afternoon ahead, my Friday inhale, and then another busy weekend.

Goals: 1) Love on my kiddos. 2) Spend quality time with Dave. (We’ve hardly seen each other this week.) 3) Prepare for my trip, three days working and two extra days for FUN. 4) Remember that the steroids are casting cards. Don’t make rash decisions based on temporary angst.

The sun is shining. I am so blessed.

Much Love,

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 10.54.16 PM

Time is Love

Roberts Four, Cherry Grove 2015

Roberts Four, Cherry Grove 2015

Exactly a month ago, we took off for Cherry Grove Beach (SC) for a beach vacation. It was fantastic. I’ve been meaning to share some photos and reflections, but I guess sometimes it take a month to let it go.

We love our trip to the beach. There was coffee on the balcony in the morning, long evening walks at night, cozy mornings in PJs and nowhere to go. We played on the beach, played on the town, played a lot of Rummy and Speed at the kitchen table. It was just what we needed to end the summer.


Lily rocked the skimboard, of course!


Max was happy to look for sea life in the evenings.


Colby and Luke both loved the waves!


Luke, as expected, was a bit fearless in the ocean!

One of my favorite memories from the trip is losing our flipflops at a sign in the dunes. We were on an evening walk looking for ghost crabs and, upon arriving to the dunes, I suggested we put our shoes by the sign. After about 45 minutes of unsuccessful ghost crab hunting, the sun setting and the tide rising, I decided we better find those shoes. Suffice it to say the sign wasn’t so easy to find at that point, especially because there were no less than at least six identical signs fanned along the shoreline.

While we searched for the sign and the shoes, Miss Lily even had the misfortune of stepping on a beach burr and had “hundreds of holes” in her toe. With the wind whipping her hair, Daddy and the two middle kids off quite a ways with their flashlights and crab hopes still alive, Lily fought off a small panic attack. She had the good grace and maturity to laugh at herself and declared that she was “a hot mess.” While I was busy keeping my own panic in check—were we going to lose half the family too???–Luke spent some time hugging Lily down and telling her in his four-year-old voice, “It’s OK, Lily. You’re not going to die.”

Thankfully, we rejoined the other half of the family and soon found the shoes! I had been just sure that Shrek was going to have to make a recovery mission at dawn to find them. We laughed all the way back to the condo, and it was sweet to tuck in all my littles, safe and sound that night.


Sunset at Cherry Grove

So, in retrospect, I think that really was the last of summer. We started sports practices, fair obligations, end-of-summer work deadlines and a whole lot of running. In fact, I’ve been a little down since we returned. I think I’ll be just fine though. Having four kids in school and four of our family in some kind of sport commitment is a whole different pace!

But that’s why that trip a month ago was so important. These kids are only little once. We are responsible for carving out the time that makes all the hard days worth it. And so, we went beaching. And you can’t put a price tag on those memories or the time we spent together as a family of six.

Team Roberts 2015

Team Roberts 2015

The tans will fade but the memories will last forever….


In an alternate universe, I am very fit. I wake early to stretch and run before coffee. Later in the day, I do a fitness class for fun. I sweat until I can’t see. I reward myself with a hot shower.

In an alternate universe, I have a lot of time. My house is organized, not just with pretty bins and shelves, but pretty bins and shelves with actual organization inside. Everything is in its place. The laundry glides off my body through the washer and dryer and back onto hangers in mere hours, pretty much effortlessly.

In that alternate universe, I have time to read. I read so many books. I hear about them from my friends and download them right then and there. I even belong to a book club, but I guess that’s mostly for the wine and the visiting.

In that alternate universe, I look my best always. My hair and nails never get away from me. My husband is always perfectly groomed as well, which comes in handy for all the fancy parties we attend. We spent a lot of time with our friends, trying out new restaurants and coming home at all hours. It’s quiet when we get home. In fact, it’s always quiet.

In this world, I am lucky to get my 10,000 steps. Organization eludes me. I read in spurts, usually not reading at all, but listening on my long commute. I am not so well groomed. (Must. Color. Hair. Soon.) There are no dinner parties. Rarely is it quiet.

But in this life, I am so rich. I am never bored. I am never lonely. There are kisses and laughter and love. I see this moment in time, this less-than-fit body, this loud house, this messy existence, and, given ten chances, I’d pick this world ten times over that alternate universe.

I see in this world a dream that came true.

Hearing Himself

After nearly 18 months of advocating, calling, scheduling, speaking up, driving to Columbus for appointments, wondering, advocating, persisting, analyzing, persuading, and asserting myself on my child’s behalf, I’m happy to say that my dear Colby, who turned six last week, FINALLY has two hearing aids in his ears.


After just a couple days, we can tell already that they are making a HUGE difference. He loves them! We are so glad.

So why, in this country, with educated, dedicated and insured parents, did it take so long? Well, in part, because it was a tricky trajectory.

First, we thought tubes would (and did) help, but they didn’t, really. Then we finally made it to Columbus, only to find Colby dismissed a month later with “near-normal hearing.” We disagreed and kept pushing. I found the name of and worked Colby into the path of “the best ear surgeon in the state.” From there, things started going right. In April, Colby underwent an auditory brainstem response test (ABR), where he was put to sleep so they could measure his brainwave response to sound.

photo (5)

That ended up being the ticket to where we are today, as he was diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD). It is sometimes referred to the ADHD of the hearing world because of its ambiguity on all fronts (causes, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis.) But one thing we know: hearing fluctuates. Colby may hear well one day and totally struggle the next. Hearing can even fluctuate from one part of day to another or one environment to the next. As you might imagine, that makes it tough to help him.


But we finally have a plan and amazing little hearing aids that make such a difference. I’m inspired by Colby for how brave and patient he is and how willing he is to try these aids. He’s been in the soundbooth seven times. He’s played the same games over and over again and let them wiggle things in and out of his ears and sound pitches that give me a headache just thinking about them. He’s been the only kid in the car on long trips and waited in so many waiting rooms, sometimes seemingly for no progress at all.

Along with all of the medical side of it, we’ve been through hoops for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)–first for speech and now amended for hearing impairment–for Colby to attend preschool and also through paperwork for assistance through an Ohio Department of Health program and more. I’m so thankful all of these resources exist, that Colby has benefitted from some of them already.

Colby at Nationwide Children's after getting hearing aids.

Colby at Nationwide Children’s after getting hearing aids.

I suspect now that my baby boy is going to grow up even faster. He’s going to progress in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this journey.

It’s so nice to be on this side of the mountain. Hear yourself, baby boy. You have a beautiful voice, and I’ll never stop helping you find it.


It’s been nearly a year and half since I’ve checked in here. I’m still in love with my hubby, the kids are growing, and new memories are made everyday. Life is good.

Yesterday I had a birthday. I’m 37. I have to say that I have fond memories from 7, 17 and 27, so I think this will be a fabulous year. I like to say my 70s are going to rock!

I took the day off work to spend it with my crazy kiddos. We were busy with a trip to the doctor for Luke, a game of bowling, cleaning the house and van, mowing half the yard and heading to a ballgame. In the midst of all of that, I did a lot of mothering and pleading with the kids to be good so I didn’t have to yell so much on my birthday.

I also took some time to take some shots on my new Canon Rebel DSLR. (Finally!) I think I got some decent pics of some amazing little people, who aren’t nearly as little as the last time you saw them on this blog.

Lilith, 11 1/2

Maxwell, nearly 9

Colby, 6

Lucas, 4 1/3

These are my reasons….

I didn’t get to see a lot of Shrek (my husband) yesterday, but we did manage to have a delicious homemade dinner together in the company of the gorgeous flowers he sent me.



There was also a little of this:


So, today, the birthday is over. But today is something special all by itself. Twenty-five years ago, on this day, I started a serious journal, and today I spent some time writing in #70. Five years ago, I started this very blog to celebrate that lifetime of writing and to explore what I might do with it.

I’m still writing. And I’m still exploring. The answers aren’t all clear. There is never enough time. But I’m still here. And I’m still rocking not only the motherhood/wife/daughter/sister thing but the employee/volunteer thing as well. And … again I’ll say it … I’m still writing.

I have so much faith that all will become clear. And I’m going to keep doing my thing on the way to the next. Life is so good, and I’m blessed.

Thanks for visiting!


I’m just not sure what to say about the fact that I’m posting a photo from September. It’s one of my favorites from last year. And, really, last year is a bit of a blur. But we made it!

I talk about this all the time–out loud, in my head, to my mother, to my friends. Motherhood is busy! There’s always a job to be done, a sitter to find, a child to soothe or encourage or correct. And we mothers today are so many other things, as mothers always have been, but with even less flexibility in our roles.

I had to let a ball drop in 2013. And that ball was this blog. Although I love to write, or perhaps just reading what I’ve written, it takes time and is relatively thankless and certainly unpaid. I know some of you have missed it, and I have missed it from time to time. But mostly, it existed in a vacuum of my mind that I had to create to get the other things done.

That helped me live the life of a modern mother–to not worry about this thing, to let it ride, so to speak, until I could come back, though I make no promises.

So, hey, let me tell you about this photo. This was snapped by an amazing friend of mine on Labor Day. In spite of the obvious awesomeness of it, she pointed out to me later that the kids are in that perfect stairstep and that maybe they wouldn’t be this way much longer.

While I am a mother who tries to be aware of these types of things, that struck me. How true! They will remain, always, the same difference in age. But this amazing stairstep pattern? Not so everlasting.

All of them continue to impress me. I see these little people, and I can’t help but marvel at how lucky I am to be their mom, in spite of the sometimes hardships. These perfectly imperfect little people… they have my heart right out there in the open. They are my heart.

As I look to this new year and my goals and dreams, I think I’ll shoot for about 75%. I have so many things I want to do and, more than anything, I want to be less stressed, less short with the kids, less of a yeller and even more of a snuggler. I want to be more gentle with my husband and my own feelings. And so, I will not strive for perfection or total mastery in all areas, as I often do. If I were able to lose 75% of the weight I would like to lose, pay off 75% of the debt I wish to tackle, and generally keep all areas running at a solid 75%, I think that would be good enough. Scratch that. It would be phenomenal!

Sometimes I’ll hit the perfect mark, while other times I’ll fall miserably short. When I see another mother appearing to rock her entire gig, I will not envy or self-destruct or wallow. I’ll realize that sister is hitting her stride that particular day and that I’ll hit mine in good time.

And, more than anything, I’ll be the kind of mom I want my kids to remember. I’ll urge myself to be patient with this fourth-kid potty training. I’ll let this blog drop when needed without the heavy burden of guilt. I’ll count my blessings and not my bruises.

Above all, I will make the amazing children, family and friends in my life my true focus and my treasure. The rest will take care of itself.