Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Sunday Pictures

Here are a few pictures taken on Christmas Sunday 2012.
I wanted to get some nice Christmas dresses for each of the girls but had to settle for homemade skirts.  I do love the fabric though and it was so fun to have them dressed together and looking festive to celebrate Christmas.













Thursday, December 6, 2012

Together Again

video

Here is a video of Ehlers' Thanksgiving.  I'm still new at the video-making thing, but I had a lot of fun doing this.  There are some parts that don't quite look right, but I love family and pictures and memories.  Didn't take many pictures of the adults and only a few when Hazel was here, but I hope everyone likes it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blank Inside

My brother is moving.
It's not just my brother. He is moving with his wife and 3 cute kids, and I will miss them all, but I am going to miss my brother.
Which is weird, 'cause... he's my younger brother.
I don't even know what to say!  The tears have flowed so freely about this--ugh.

I AM really excited for him.  He is moving to Idaho, and he loves it there.  Every time they go back to visit there, he comes back saying, "We should all move to Idaho!"  He gets that look in his eye and the sound in his voice that he has always gotten when he has a good idea that he is trying to get everyone on board with, and it is going to be FUN, and it will be even better if we all do it together.
And I love fresh starts and change and going new places--so I am so excited for him.
But I am going to miss him being here.

I have always wanted an older brother.  Always.  He would teach me how to do things, be protective of me, call me pretty, let me tag along (but only sometimes) and I would have a crush on  his friends and marry one of his best friends.  But I didn't have an older brother, I had seven YOUNGER siblings.  And the closest one was Andy.  I won't go into detail of how I felt about Andy while we were growing up.  We were always at odds--and yet, when I look back, maybe we weren't 'cause we did some fun things together too.  But I really didn't think he would amount to much.  And, I was always...older.  Older, older, older.  I always knew better and was smarter and he was always younger.

But that changed when we were on our missions.
I remember being in my apartment in Bucharesti and being quite frustrated.  I don't remember exactly what it was.  Since I was in Bucharesti it was most likely winter and cold and dark and we had a couple baptisms that stopped coming to church and there were problems with our small branch and...  I was in a place that needed understanding and support.  We got letters when we went to district meetings from the office so we came home for lunch that day and I sat down on my bed to read.  There was a letter from Andy.  From Ireland.  Where he was a missionary.  I don't even remember what the letter said, but I remember that I was impressed so strongly that he was counseling and comforting me with wisdom of a missionary.  He left on his mission before I did.  He was the one 'going before' this time.  He had experience and wisdom.  He didn't even know of my frustrations when he wrote the letter, he just wrote a letter--probably following the spirit--and I had my wish.. of an older brother.

I know I was born first, and there are more candles on my cake than on his each year, but he is my peer and so often just like an older brother.  No, I did not have crushes on his friends, but he is protective and caring.  He is wise and wonderful.  He is strong in his values and his love of family and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He strives to be a good father, husband, provider, and citizen.  He serves others, and works hard (we never thought this was possible!).  But perhaps the thing that I love the most is with all that, he has a thirst for LIFE and doing, and being, and trying, and enjoying. He always has some new thing he has read, tried, thought about, or wants to try.

And not only that, he made me iodine free chocolate cake when I was going through treatment for my thyroid cancer, 'cause he loves me.
He's the Luke Skywalker to my Princess Leia  and I will miss him.



Friday, November 9, 2012

The Outcome

I have NOT posted every day this month like my original plan was.  Mostly because I have so much going through my mind but I don't know how to put it in a blog.  I have been, well...not obsessed, but the elections and the outcome have been on my mind a lot the past week.
I am a republican.  Mostly.
I honestly don't feel that either party represents me at all.  Since high school civics class I have viewed myself as a liberal republican or a conservative democrat   I'm not sure I am even a 'moderate.'  But four years ago, I was fed up.  Republicans seemed arrogant and out of touch.  Perhaps the media does a good job of molding the news in exactly that way.  Well, whatever it was, it worked.  And then Sarah Palin was chosen for VP?  Seriously?
I voted for Obama in 2008.  I really like him.  I thought he had the potential to be a good leader.
Over the past four years it doesn't seem like he has been able to do much but four years is a short time. And congress has been HORRIBLE for all four years. I like that he is working to get our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Notice, I didn't say 'end the war' because I don't think we can end that war.  But it is time to get out of there and bring the military HOME to their families.  I don't think "Obamacare" was a success at all because there is still a lot that we don't know and there is still so much disagreement.  But I do agree that something has to be done and he really wanted to get it done.

(ugh.  I'm stuck.  how do i get from here to where i want to go? this is why i haven't blogged in 4 days.)

State of the Union in January 2012 I still really like Obama.  Republican primaries came out and each candidate made me wince a little.  They were too....too something.  and too much.  As I examined my perspective I realized that my only problem with Romney was that he was too rich.  I didn't THINK he was oily or untrustworthy.  But I realized I was worried about him only because he is rich.  Well, Obama is rich too.  So I started listening to Romney.  Not what the news was saying about him, but listening to him.
I am Mormon.  FACT: all Mormons did not vote for Romney.  FACT: not all Mormons are Republican.  In fact many of my friends and family are Democrats.  And I don't think that I started thinking that I needed to vote with Romney to show Mormon solidarity.  But the fact that he is Mormon and I am Mormon did influence me vote.  I could answer positively to the statement that "This candidate is like me or understands me and my life."
When I hear that he was a Bishop and Stake President I know what that means in his life because my father was a Bishop and a Stake President.
Because he is Mormon and I am Mormon, I was connected to social networks that knew stories about him off camera and I read them.
The LDS church makes the world a little bit smaller because everyone knows everyone--or at least knows someone else that you know.
It's kind of like the "Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon." [my six degrees are (1) the neighbor that lived upstairs in one of our first apartments had a (2) cousin who was in (3) Footloose in the final dance number with Kevin Bacon. Yeah, I'm only separated from Kevin Bacon by 3 degrees.]
I do not know Romney personally, but my cousin lives in Boston, in Romney's stake and so I have heard stories about Romney and his family from my cousin.  My Mom's cousin worked for the Romney campaign and he's been pushing for Romney since 2008. He is an amazing, smart, thoughtful person and I value his opinions   I've never been that close to a candidate for the office of President of the United States before.
Then there was Romney himself.  I thought that he played a clean campaign.  I thought he was very honest.  I like that he distanced himself from the extreme right after he was nominated.  I thought he did very well in the debates.  The debates were perhaps the turning point for me.  There was no media spin on the debates, they were uncut and I could watch them live--not clips of speeches taken out of context.  And Obama did not do so well in the debates.
It also crossed my mind that Romney couldn't be 'bought.'  He already has enough money so he wasn't in it for the money/bribes/lobby.  I am not entirely sure that Obama is above being 'bought.'
The other thing that turned me off to the democrats--not so much Obama, but the democrats--was turning Romney into a woman's rights hater. But I will save that for another post altogether cause I'm not ready to put that together yet.

Yes--I voted for Romney
No--I don't think that Obama's re-election marks the beginning of the end.
I think they are both good men with a desire to help their country and the people that live in this country with them.  They just have different ideas of how to do that.
"Ah there's the rub."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fences make sane mommies

I can't contain her.
I have no method of keeping her entirely safe.
She can climb out of her crib.
She can climb over the couch.
She pushes the gate, the chair, the table...
My other children were content to be given a space.
Sometimes they did not like it, but we kept them there and they learned to deal with it.

She will not be confined!!!
she really wants to go outside




she is OPENING the window locks!




she's out.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Enough

The one time I knew I was beautiful was on my wedding day.
And that was all I needed to know.  Honestly, it is enough.

I have always considered myself average.  My nose is too big and my ears stick out.  I've been told all my life that I look like my Dad, which is great and all, but I am a girl so it chips away at your self image of feminine beauty.  I never thought I was down right ugly, but I never thought I would strike anyone as beautiful.

My husband was the first person to ever treat my as if I was special enough to be thought of as beautiful.  He picked me, held the door for me, treated me as if I was beautiful, or at least, could hope that I might be.  He dated other girls.  I dated other guys.  We went to senior prom together, but we spent the next six years getting together and being pulled apart over and over again.  But he never stopped saying I was beautiful.  He was the only one.  I didn't know if I believed him, but I wanted to.

June 12th was our wedding day.  The day before I was staying at my parents' home and spent the night sleeping on the floor because we had guests.  It rained hard that night.  I remember because I couldn't sleep.
The morning of the 12th I woke up and got ready.  I didn't go to a hair dresser.  I didn't wear make-up--perhaps just mascara and lip gloss.  I pulled my hair back in a simple barrette.  
Eric and I left early--before everyone else--to go get our pictures taken.  We drove to the temple, then went to change into our wedding clothes for pictures.  The older sisters in the temple that helped in the bride's room thought it was strange that we were going to have our pictures taken before the ceremony.  I put on my wedding dress and my veil and grabbed my bouquet.  They went in the hall to make sure Eric was there so that he could see just as I exited the bridal room.  I was told I could come out and he was standing by the doorway.
I don't know what it was that he did. Did he gasp?  or say, "Wow!"?  Maybe he just stood there.
That was when I knew that he really did think I was beautiful.
That was when I knew I was beautiful enough.

Magazines, movie stars, plastic surgery, other women that I see everywhere.  There is so much all around me to make me think I might not be beautiful enough.  That there is more that I need to do.  That there is a smaller size that I should be.  That my hair needs to be colored or highlighted.  That my clothes aren't fashionable enough.  That I need to learn how to use anti-wrinkle cream.
But I know I am beautiful.

Good Questions


The lesson on body image went really well.  But we ran out of time. We had the girls put their own questions on a piece of paper and put it in a basket and then we didn't have time to answer all their questions.  But they were really good questions.  Here are some of them:

  • Is it rude to try to help my sister look cuter even when she doesn't really want any help?
  • How can I tell my friends to dress modestly without being rude to them?
  • Why do women care about how they look these days?
  • Are pierced ears OK?
  • Why do bad hair days bring me down so much and how do I make my hair look okay?
  • Are people always looking at my skin or am I paranoid?
  • How exactly do you find out who you are?
  • I have some friends who talk a lot on people's physical appearance. They often make jokes that are not appropriate. Should I still be friends with them?
  • Self doubt
  • How should I dress modestly if there is a dance at my school?
  • Is it wrong to try to look good?
  • It drives me crazy when people talk bad about other people, but I'm too shy to say anything.
  • Is it also bad to feel both superior and inferior?
  • Does your dress/skirt have to go to your knees
  • My friend wears super short shorts and always asks my why I don't. What should I say?
  • How long exactly should our dresses, shorts and skirts be?
  • What would you do if you have a great friend but she isn't modest at all but she has a beautiful personality?
Don't you love these questions?  They are so HONEST!  They are questions from young women seriously searching to do the right thing.  She is looking for the 'whys' of the standards she has been taught to find out what she will do and what she will become.  You can hear them trying to do what is right, trying to be a good friend, trying to make sense of who they are.  I wish we would have had more time to talk about these questions.  We've got to have a follow up on this stuff... and soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Healthy Body Image

I work with the teenage girls in the youth group at my church. Using Mormon lingo, I have been called to serve as the Mia Maid leader in my ward.  This means that I am part of the Young Women Presidency (a President, 2 counselors, and a secretary) which oversees Sunday lessons and mid week activities for the girls in our congregation ages 12-18.  The Mia Maids are 14 and 15 years old so I focus on activities and lessons specifically for them but often we join together and do something as all young women and at least once a month we join together for an activity with all youth, boys and girls, ages 12-18.
Over the past month, as a young women presidency, we have been focusing on how to best present a lesson on body image to the girls.  It isn't in the manual.  There have been several lessons lately about caring for our bodies: keeping them healthy, staying away from drugs and alcohol, things like that.  This was uncharted ground but we really felt a need to get down to the nitty and gritty.  We wanted each girl to know how much we loved them, how much God loves them, and how beautiful they really are.  We spent hours talking about how to present the lesson.  There were emails back and forth with links and ideas and it kept getting bigger and bigger.  Should we have guest speakers? should we have their mothers comment?  would they listen to us? how much time could we really take?
We realized that most importantly we wanted them to know that WE understood body image issues, and we wanted them to know that nothing is taboo when it came to talking about self esteem and loving yourself.  If they had a question, a problem, or a friend with a problem, or they were just curious, they could come and talk to us about it.

So I have been thinking a lot this past month about how I view my own body, my own looks, how I measure up.  When did I start to notice and care about my body?  Who has influenced how I see myself?  Who do I allow to influence my thoughts?
It is getting late and my thoughts will begin to ramble, but I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to see my body as more than just an image.  I am a vessel of life.  I am a mother.  My body takes me places where I met amazing people.  I had to walk and walk and walk as a missionary in my early 20s.  My body got me to those places.  My hands can make food and clothing.  My mind can think (except when I am too tired).  My voice--it is not the greatest--but I LOVE to sing!  My mouth really likes kissing--husband kisses and baby kisses too.  But I also love smiling.  Smiling can change a day around, for me and for those I give a smile to.  My body can heal.  I had surgery to remove my thyroid--and my body is healing itself.
I used to be self conscious.  I did not want any attention because I feared it would be bad.  I did not speak my mind.  I did not like my hair.  I did not like my voice.  I decided I was not beautiful and called myself average.  I thought that make-up and hairstyles cost too much money and time and that neither was worth it for me.   And I got on with my life.  My husband called me beautiful, and eventually I believed him.  My friends called me wonderful and eventually I believed them.  My daughters called me mommy and I was.
I don't worry so much about how I look now a days.  Yes, I wish I was thinner.  Yes, I have bad hair days. But I surround myself with me and the things that make me happy, instead of what the world tells me I should be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaBloPoMo?

National Blog Posting Month?
Ok, i'm gonna do this.
Every year my husband tries for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I think it is awesome.  One year, I am going to write a novel too.
But it is not gonna happen when I still have small kids because in order to write a story you need to have a story line and a plot and conflict and well rounded characters, and a theme.  But I will be interrupted too often and I'm either too ADHD or not ADHD enough to hold together a story and a family at the same time.
But a blog entry a day, I think I can do that!!

Today is about choir.
What a wonderful thing to be able to sing!  Music was a big part of growing up Erickson.  It might not seem that way because we quit music lessons as often as we started them.  But, boy did we sing!  We sang with the banjo, the radio, the guitar, the cassette tapes, and the piano.  We sang in the car, doing dishes, folding laundry, and into the night when we were supposed to be going to sleep.  We sang to Kingston Trio, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Boston, Eric Clapton, and Weezer.  My dad never got the family band that he wanted, but we sang.
Singing is an instant pick me up.  It can also help us wallow in misery and loneliness, but there are some songs that you just can't sing without a smile! (Don't Worry, Be Happy; Fun, Fun, Fun; Popcorn Popping)
Tonight I got to attend Elizabeth's choir concert.  What a delight!  They sang a song based on a poem written by a child at the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II.  The song is called Birdsong by Paul Ryan.  There were a couple of other numbers as well, but this one was so uplifting and full of hope and beauty.
Just like Elizabeth.
While she is still so young, she is getting older everyday and she sees the world ahead full of hope and beauty.
And singing.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

'Cause grandma is far away

video
for my mother.
I need to get better videos of Erica 'cause she is so stinkin' cute and she is probably the last baby, and...i just need to get more videos.
I was holding her on my lap, snuggling and reading a book on my birthday this week.  it crossed my mind that this may be the last birthday where I can sit with one of my babies on my lap.  I cried and held her tight.
Here are some pictures of Erica wearing one of my dresses from when I was 2 years old.  She had no intention of holding still for the camera or looking at the camera, or cooperating in any way, so I took what I could.






and: Halloween.
for the Ward Trunk or Treat we had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Thorn in peasant clothes from the book "Bone" and Elizabeth was a scarecrow.  Maire was Rainbow Dash pony from My Little Pony--she had rainbow hair and a rainbow tail too :)







Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thyroid Cancer

On July 16th I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.
It was a complete surprise.  Physically I feel fine.  As fine as a mother of 5 typically feels--completely exhausted and scatterbrained.  But at my physical, the doctor found a lump in my neck.
Two ultrasounds and a very long and tiny needle later, and I have Papillary Cancer and my thyroid will have to be removed.
I wanted to 'announce' my diagnosis to my friends on line in a light-hearted way, and in a way that I wouldn't have to keep answering the same questions over and over again.  So I made a video and posted it on facebook.  I'll post it here too.

video

Or you can watch it on youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDD15rRvl8&feature=plcp

I am in denial and terrified all at the same time.  But I am also very blessed because I am surrounded by family, supportive friends and good doctors, and this cancer is not aggressive and it is easily treated.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Assateague Island

Friday we went to Assateague Island.
We needed a cheap, new, vacation idea for this year.  We can't spend the night--we have no camping equipment and hotels are out of our price range this summer, especially since we would have to get two rooms.
In the spring, Maire checked out a book at the library about the ponies on Assateague Island and I began trying to plan a trip there before school started again.  It was actually quite difficult to get the information I was looking for; how to plan your day, what things cost, what the beach is like, are there any events or things we should try to see, and how likely is it that you will see a pony?
Eric and I finally set a date to go and just decided to go blind and find out what we could.  We knew we needed bug spray and that there is a beach.  Then Thursday I finally found a blog that gave actual information that is useful here:  http://www.alandsuejohnson.com/chincoteague_planning.htm  (thanks Johnsons!)

I also found out that getting to see ponies is highly unlikely as the ponies do not roam freely any more and are penned in. There is a boat tour of the island that almost guarantees seeing ponies but it is about $40 per person. ($40x6=? um, nope not going to do the boat tour).
Then the weather forecast got gloomier.  Chance of thunderstorms all day long.
Thursday night we told the girls that we can still go but we might not be able to see any ponies and if there are thunderstorms we can't go to the beach.  Do they still want to go??  YES!!

We set off on an Adventure!!
Friday morning it was raining.  And raining.  And there was thunder here at our house.
But we prayed for better weather and packed up our swimsuits and ham and cheese sandwiches and drove.
We didn't get a very early start--left at 7:30am.  But we had no problem with traffic from Springfield to the Bay Bridge to the island.

Rain.

Rain

Go away,

Come again some other day!
Erica sleeping

Sarah reading--I don't know how they can read in the car!


yes, everyone switched places at the bathroom breaks

Maire, "How much longer?"  

Here comes the sun!!

There was one seagull on to of each light pole going across a bridge. They looked so funny!

We made it to the Island and it was sunny!! Sunny, and windy, and bright, and hot!
And, we saw ponies.  Well, we saw what we knew were ponies.  They were far away in the distance.  Everyone used binoculars to see them.


in between the trees in the field there is a little group of horses.  
That was fun and all, but we spent the rest of our time on the beach.
Going to the beach with young children who are not strong swimmers is just a terrifying experience.  Every second is a life and death situation.  It is quite stressful.  And on top of that you have to apply sunscreen every hour with sand everywhere to 6 pale bodies that REALLY need sunblock.
But there is something about the ocean that is amazing.  You spend the day in awe of the power of the earth and the God who created it.  No man has any control of the waves yet they keep coming and the water pulls on you, inviting you to come and feel the sand, and the water, and the breeze.  It is terrifying and thrilling all at once.  How do you not go back?












There is a lot more to do on the island.  The beach is what we came for, but there are hiking and biking trails throughout the wildlife refuge.  There were many bikes.  You can also use a kayak or small boat to go up the inlets and look for wildlife.  There are eagles, falcons, dolphins, and of course the horses.  It is relatively untouched. There are also lots of mosquitoes, so if you ever go, don't forget the bug spray.  (at the beach there were no mosquitoes or bugs except in the parking lot near the dumpsters and outhouses).
One thing I am sorry we missed was the Pony Swim.  The last Wed and Thurs of July the ponies on the Virginia side of Assateague are taken across the water to Chincoteague Island to be auctioned off. Those that are not sold are taken back across the water to stay at the refuge until the following July.  That would be a fun thing to see.  They are rounded up by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department; a.k.a. The Saltwater Cowboys.  Maybe next year.

After we were sufficiently tired, wind blown, sun kissed, and sanded, we went home.  It was a great day.