03/ 09/ 2018
Yesterday a friend called me to check in. She said she hadn’t seen me post anything in a while and wanted to see how I was doing. It was the sweetest gesture and meant so much to me. It also got me thinking that maybe (?) one of you might be wondering what happened to me.
A little over two weeks ago I deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone and I haven’t looked back.
At the beginning of the year I told myself I wanted to be more intentional in everything I do. I wanted to be present and engaged as a mother. I wanted to be focused when it came to the work I did: videos, writing, church service, house projects, personal projects, you get the idea. I wanted to put my phone away during the evenings and spend quality time with Cory when we were together.
Social media is such a great thing. I’ve been blogging for nine years and have been on Instagram for six. That’s a long time to share my life and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to build some genuine relationships. Friendships I wouldn’t have been able to make IRL because, HELLO! these people are all over the country. Social media is wonderful, but it’s hard for me to find the balance. As a stay-at-home-mom with little adult interaction during the day, I love being able to open an app and connect with others in the same boat. I love being able to talk on stories and connect with other women who also have young children and need to shave their moustaches bi-monthly. But the more I logged on, the more I realized Instagram was turning into an escape from reality. I felt justified because I don’t talk to adults during the day. My home is my office and Instagram was my version of meeting at the water cooler. When you think about it, social media is the 2018 version of chatting with your neighbors in the cul-de-sac while your kids run wild. I mean, we can still chat with our neighbors in the cul-de-sac, but how often are we reaching for our phones instead?
Since uninstalling these apps, I’ve talked to my family and friends about this a lot and every time I do I swear I sound like an addict. And maybe I am. Was? Am? Am. I found myself getting on my phone to check something on Amazon or text Cory something cute the kids said and my fingers would swipe up, click right and take me to Instagram. It wasn’t conscious, it just happened. Getting on IG became muscle memory. And after unintentionally taking myself there, I would scroll for at least five minutes before remembering my initial reason for picking up my phone.
I noticed it was getting to be a real problem when one day my kids were trying to get my attention.
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Look!”
“Okay, sweetie hold on.”
“Juuuust a minute!”
“What? What is it?!”
I didn’t yell, but I was short and frustrated and snippy. And for what? Extra scroll time? WOOF. I realized I needed to stop putting other people in front of the most important people in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love you guys. I love sharing and getting to know you and your families and investing in your stories. But honestly, all of this could go away. The apps, the grams, the posts, the likes. It could all go away like that and where would that leave me? I mean, let’s not go crazy. I’d be fine. I’d still be here, in my house, with my babies, married to my boo. But I’d also have a big old rock in my stomach when I realized I’d spent so much time on something that in the grand scheme of things doesn’t matter.
When I look at each of my kids I can’t believe how big they are. Didn’t I just bring each of them home from the hospital? The days are long – they’re so, so long – but these years are so short and they fly so fast. I don’t want to miss another minute of this special time because I’m too busy scrolling.
I feel like this post is making it sound like I’m quitting social media and going off the grid. I’m not. I’ve got a log of videos to edit (no Bach Bashes, sorry guys. I haven’t watched since episode 6, but I know the drama and I wish I hadn’t quit!!) as soon as I’m done editing the installation project I filmed in February and I want to get into blogging again. But like, old school blogging where you write whatever you want just because. Do you remember back in 2009 when everyone had family blogs and personal blogs and random, single college girls (hiiii!) would write every day about whatever they wanted? Do you remember when Instagram was still a baby in 2012 and everyone posted grainy food pictures with the Nashville filter because it looked like film? Do you remember when people stopped planning their pages and pre-meditating their posts?
I’m not trying to bash on creators and influencers. I’m grateful for them, I think I technically am one? They work hard, they’re good at what they do and they really do care about YOU. But lately I’ve felt like everybody is trying to be somebody online. I believe everyone has a story to share, but it’s hard when everyone is trying to share their story at the same time. Before you try to tell me to delete all the toxic people from IG, stop. I don’t follow them. My feed is filled with people I know, people I love and uplifting accounts. I’m here to say it’s possible to have ALL GOOD THINGS on your feed and STILL get sick of it. At some point, too much of a good thing is still too much. It’s like I’ve overdosed on baby carrots and my body is suffering from carotenemia and I’m turning orange.
I’m not giving up, I just need a break. I’m not going to lie and say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Because it IS you and it IS me. I need to get to a better place with my consumption and not let it suck me back in and take me away from what matters. And, listen, if it’s not too much to ask, I’d like more grainy pictures of babies with puppies and captions talking about the weather.
01/ 23/ 2018
I don’t know what it is, but every time Cory goes out of town, I try really hard to cram our days with activities. Even though the only difference when he’s out of town is I’m alone during nights, I try to stay as busy as possible. Maybe I’m trying to wear the kids out so they sleep like rocks. Maybe I’m trying to be the fun parent. Maybe I just really wanted a Big Mac. No one knows.
Jude had dance today. It’s her third week and she’s just as excited as she was her first day. She jumped around all morning in anticipation. Dance ends at noon and like a total newb I took the kids to McDonald’s. Thankfully the play place wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was mostly High School seniors and business people working through lunch under the golden arches.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “McDonald’s? Ew. Why didn’t she go to Chick-Fil-A?” Well, to answer your question, I like that McDonald’s has seating inside the play area. I can sit in the same room with my kids and write while I sip my DDP and eat fries before they get cold while my kids play for a few hours. Also, have you ever been inside a CFA play place? Like really been insiiiiide one? They smell like feet and three hundred sweaty toddlers with soft undertones of stale, unsalted waffle fries. It’s bad. When Zeke was a little over a year he got stuck before the big slide and couldn’t get down. I had to climb my way up to save him and the higher I got, the worse it smelled. The scent is a deadly combination on its own, but CFA play places are unnaturally humid which makes the air heavy, causing the stench to take on a solid form and become something you have to physically fight through. The higher you climb and the longer you play, the more the CFA air becomes part of you. I always require baths after play place play (let’s be honest, I require them every day), but you almost need a chemical decontamination after an afternoon at Chick-Fil-A. Just thinking about it makes me queasy. But HOT DANG, do they know how to make a good nugget/sauce combination.
Zeke has been stuck at the top of this playground for a good 15 minutes. He refuses help from anyone but keeps calling for me like Tarzan. My favorite part about playgrounds (with or without fries) is watching my kids make friends. All it takes is five minutes and a game of tag and according to Jude she has, “almost 39 friends to play with!” Kids are such good people. When they see someone in need, they stop to help. When they see someone crying, they stop to comfort. No judgement, no prejudice. Just kids running and playing and laughing.
The fries are past cold, I’ve started refilling my cup with water instead of soda, and the after-school snack groups are starting to trickle in. All obvious signs we’ve been here too long. But Zeke’s moved to the highest level of the playground and it’ll probably be another twenty minutes before he figures out how to get down. Just to be safe, if you could send up a quick prayer that I don’t have to climb this mini ropes course to get him, I’d really appreciate it.
Spoiler Alert: I had to climb it.
12/ 05/ 2017
The following excerpt is from a journal entry I wrote last month.
It has been four days and it still feels like a dream. Like the doctor’s office is going to call and say, “You’re not going to believe this, but we gave you the wrong results! Your levels went up not down! Everything’s okay. lololol.” But that kind of thing only happens on bad sitcoms and this is real life, not a sitcom.
I was five weeks pregnant with our fourth baby when I had my first miscarriage.
It doesn’t matter that I won’t make it to my first appointment, feel a flutter, or get to pick out a name. Grief doesn’t have requirements. Loss is loss. It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter how. Heartbreak is personal and individual and real. This weekend, I lost my next baby and that has left a hole in my heart I can’t ever fill.
As soon as Cory and I saw those double pink lines, we started planning. We spent our nights talking about baby names and scheming summer plans around our July due-date. I told him as soon as we knew the gender, I was going to start buying bows and coordinating sister outfits for her and Jude, because it was a girl this time. It had to be a girl. On the off-chance it was a boy, we talked about getting a bunk bed for Ez and Zeke so there would be enough space for all three boys in their room.
On Tuesday I went to the library with the kids and on the drive back, I was hit with this giant whiff of freshly baked bread. I don’t know where it came from, but I texted Cory as soon as I got home and told him my need for homemade bread with strawberry freezer jam was REAL. I’ve never had cravings like that before. They hit me with such specific intensity. Cory came home that night with fresh bread and strawberry jam. If it weren’t for that loaf of bread and two positive pregnancy tests as proof that my pregnancy was real, I’d think last week was a dream.
I started last week pregnant and planning and so, so happy and ended it crumpled in bed because of the ache in my heart and the pain in my body.
The bleeding started on Thursday morning. I went to get my blood drawn that afternoon so we could check my HCG levels. The doctor’s office called me that afternoon and told me my levels were good. It was positive. I was pregnant. They told me to take it easy and reminded me to go back on Saturday to get my levels checked again. I feel awful admitting this, but despite having good levels, I didn’t have much hope they would rise. “I know what’s normal Cor. This isn’t normal. It doesn’t feel right.” As I said my prayers that night, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to please, please let this little baby know how loved she was. That, no matter the outcome, she was loved and it was okay. I asked Him to hold our baby and tell her that we were ready whenever she was.
On Friday I shut down.
I had to go back to the hospital on Saturday afternoon for my final blood draw. As the nurse finished up, I could feel tears start to form in my eyes. She was gone. I knew it. I could feel it in my heart. That final blood draw was the last thing I would do for her. My heart broke all over again.
I went to church on Sunday because I didn’t know what else to do. My physical pain had subsided and I knew I couldn’t let myself shut down again. As badly as I wanted to, I knew if I shut down on Sunday it would be easier to keep shutting down. I knew it would be easy to let my depression to take over and justify my downward spiral. And THIS felt very justifiable. With the help of Cory, a blessing and so many prayers, I picked myself up and did the dang thing. As I sit here and type this, I still can’t believe I did it. Cory was speaking in another ward, so it was just the kids and me sitting on our bench. I remember sitting in Sacrament meeting looking around and thinking, “Last week I was pregnant and no one knew. This week I’m not and no one knows. My whole world changed twice and no one has any idea.” It’s crazy how you can be surrounded by so many people and still feel so alone.
I waited until 10 o’clock on Monday morning before I called my doctor’s office for the results. The nurse sounded distracted and eager to get me off the line. She told me my levels went down.
“So, it was a miscarriage then?”
And that was that. I was so mad at her for making me ask. I didn’t want to ask, but I had to hear it. Even though I felt it, I wouldn’t believe it was true until I heard it.
I cried a lot today because I’m feeling the loss all over again. Despite this devastating heartache, I’m so grateful to have had some moments of peace. I have found peace in Cory’s voice, snuggles from Zeke, Ezra’s cheek-smushing hugs, and Jude running up to me, telling me she loves me. I know the only reason I’m able to feel this peace so soon is because of the gospel. I am so grateful for the promise and reality of eternal families. Cory and I believe with all our hearts we are going to be able to raise our sweet angel baby either on earth or in heaven. The timing may not have been right now, but it will be some day. One day we’ll get to hold our July baby and tell her how loved she is.
Until then, I’ll hold on with faith and hope for the promise of one day.
11/ 16/ 2017
Since I talked your ear off last time, I’ll try to keep it brief.
I’d never been to Downtown Disney before and I couldn’t believe how great it was! Their beignets are better (sorry not sorry, they are! More dough and less air. Mmmm.) than the ones in the actual park and the Lego store was a dream come TRUE for our kids. My only regret of the whole trip was that we didn’t do Downtown Disney one of the days we went to the park. I wish we’d done Jude’s Anna makeover before we got to meet our Arendelle girls. Next time! Even though she was only Anna-fied for Downtown Disney, all the employees called her Anna or Princess. Jude was in heaven. She even had us stop so Cory could take a picture of me meeting Anna. Jude-Anna was kind enough to give me posing lessons. What a sweetheart.
And, as always, it felt SO GOOD to be home. After being in a hotel room for nine days, our house felt like a palace. So much space! What luxury!! Now if only I could find a way to combine the comforts of my home with the housekeeping staff of a hotel. Then we’d be in business.
11/ 14/ 2017
It’s been a little over two months since our trip to Disneyland and I’m already craving a return trip. What I would give to walk down Main Street and be bombarded by the smell of fresh churros and buttery popcorn. With as far as technology has come, the lack of smell-ivision is really disappointing. But I guess we can thank technology for not being that advanced, because it was really hot those first few days and we were sweating buckets before we got into the park.
We went to the park with my parents, my sister and her family, and my two younger siblings. Going with so many people at different stages of life was a little crazy, but it was worth it. Disney runs through my Dad’s veins and seeing him in his favorite place with some of his favorite people was priceless. For the most part, the kids were a dream. We started early and partied at the parks until two or three every day. My parents graciously bought five-day passes for everyone, so we didn’t feel pressured to have marathon days in the park. We let the kids take the lead and followed their pace. We looked in store windows, explored alleyways and soaked up the magic of Disney. We went on the carousel first and Dumbo second. We made the mistake of going on the Snow White ride third which left all three of our kids in tears and afraid of any enclosed rides. We couldn’t even look at Peter Pan without one of them freaking out. You should have seen the sweet-talking we had to do to convince Jude ‘It’s a Small World’ was a happy ride with music and puppets. Why you gotta be so dark, Walt?!
California Adventure was our JAAAAAM. The kids were in heaven in Cars Land. The Disney Junior Dance Party gave me a look into what a toddler rave looks like and it’s straight up bananas. Jude and Ezra were at the perfect ages for Disney. Everything was real for them. They recognized the characters and could push through any discomfort with the heat and long lines. Like I said, the first few days were HOT and poor Ziggy felt it. We bought an overpriced Disney fan just to try to keep that little guy cool. Zeke was wary of most of the characters and had more fun playing with the regular cast members. I just want to take a moment to SHOUT OUT all of the Disney employees, but especially the “regular people.” They always chatted with Zeke and made him giggle while the big kids met their heroes. Disney makes it magic for everyone and I love them for that.
The last time I went to Disneyland, I was in my early twenties, single and in it for the big rides. Going with kids required a change of pace and mindset, but it’s one I’ll keep forever. It’s amazing how chill Disneyland can be when you’re not rushing around for fast passes or stressing over 60 minutes lines. Cory and I didn’t take advantage of the rider swap because we wanted to spend our time with the kids. Every morning was like Christmas for them and neither of us wanted to miss a thing. My parents watched all the grandkids for a night so the adults go out. Cory and I went on three rides (California Screamin’, Guardians of the Galaxy (RIP Tower of Terror), and Indiana Jones) before motion sickness set in. My inner-ear can’t keep its equilibrium like it used to. But we ended the night with a Monte Cristo (good! heavens!) and some garlic truffle pomme frites (GET IN MY BELLY). I’m convinced Disney food is the same food we’ll have in heaven. Don’t even get me started on the chocolate dipped vanilla cones at the Cozy Cone. Mmmmmmm.
Thanks for your patience while I go down memory lane. Here’s the video.
I’m not even going to apologize for my shrill mom voice. I was EXCITED, Y’ALL.
Can’t get enough Disney? Check out PART TWO HERE.
11/ 07/ 2017
Sometimes you film a vlog in the beginning of October and don’t get around to editing and posting it until the beginning of November. It’s fine. I’m fine.
I really enjoyed documenting this weekend and am considering doing this type of thing more often. If only to be better at documenting our regular life for posterity. But if we’re being honest, lifestyle vlogging is harder than it looks. I’m so used to being in the moment that it’s hard to remember to stop, take out my camera and film the moment. It makes me feel like a stage mom, but I love that we’ll have these memories forever. I would have never remembered Jude made up a play with the longest, weirdest name if I hadn’t filmed. I love pictures because of the memories they freeze, but having these videos is like being transported back into that moment. I never want to forget Ezra’s scratchy voice and Jude’s silly songs or the way Zeke stomp dances (this section had to be omitted because ‘Welcome to [The] York’ was playing and we all know how powerful Taylor is when it comes to her songs on YouTube. SO POWERFUL). I want to remember this time of my life with three kids three years old and younger. And if that means putting in a little more effort to document, I guess I’ll just have to deal. Because I don’t have camera crews following me around to document my life…YET!
10/ 25/ 2017
I am not a HALLOWEEN person. I’ve always enjoyed the holiday, but I think that’s because I enjoy candy. In high school I liked it because that meant staying up late on a school night and hanging out with friends. In college Halloween meant dance parties and IHOP at midnight. But the older I get, the more my sweet tooth looses its power, so I’m not really in it for the candy anymore. I have to COMMIT if I’m going to eat two Reese’s cups. Like I need something to chase it because the PB+ chocolate combo is getting to be to much for me in my old age. As a mother of three I like Halloween because I get to dress my kids up in adorable coordinated costumes and trunk-or-treat in a church parking lot with my friends. If we play our cards right, we can be home watching a movie by 8:30. Halloween as a parent is a total DREAM.
Since I’m not too into the Halloween scene, I try to make the few things I do as exciting as possible. Like turning our front door into a giant mummy. I’m not a DIY expert. At ALL. So if you’re a simple woman with simple decor dreams like me, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to get the most out of one dollar and keep your kids happy all October long.
http://donnaerickson.com/?p=921 What you’ll need
10/ 11/ 2017
This morning I sat in the Costco parking lot and cried. I pulled myself together enough to get some chicken and Zyrtec, but I had to wear sunglasses inside because I didn’t trust my eyes. A tear creeped out while I paid and when Zeke reached to give me a hug, the floodgates opened again. I sobbed as I pushed my cart across the parking lot. Wishing a stranger would stop and give me a hug. I just needed someone to look me in the eye and tell me it would be okay.
I’m trying to convince myself it’s because I’ve been to the pediatrician four times in the past week.
Because we’ve had three cases of double pink eye,
two double ear infections,
two sore throats,
a bladder infection,
and now hives.
I’m trying to tell myself it’s my circumstance.
But deep, deep down I know it’s not.
I’m not good at self-care. I’m not good at putting myself first when so many other things seem more important. I don’t know how. I have moments where I get centered, but then I’m back at square one. Grasping for calm like I’m falling down a mountain. I’m reading, I’m praying, I’m breathing, but I’m stuck. And stuck is not where I want to be.
I am so blessed to have so much love, support and patience around me, but I can’t ask for help because I don’t know where to start. How do you ask for help with something you can’t describe? How do you say,
“I’m not sure what’s going on. I’m sad again. I’m really sad. I think it’s because I don’t take time to recharge. I think it’s because I focus all my energy on taking care of everyone else I forget to take care of me. And I know I’m taken care of but that’s different than taking care of yourself. I’m too tired to edit, which makes me feel like a failure. Because when I don’t make the time to edit at the end of a really long day, I feel like maybe videos aren’t my passion or I’m not pushing hard enough. And maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m lazy or maybe I’m scared. Or maybe I’m just not good enough.
I don’t know how you “fix” the sadness – the depression. Everything I read talks about self-care but how do you self-care when you don’t know what it looks like for you? Is it writing? Is it editing? Is it painting my nails? WHAT IS IT? Is self-care letting myself stop and rest? But then is my rest indulgence instead of care? How do I know if I’m helping or hurting? Why can’t someone hold my hand through this and tell me how to take care of myself so I know.
Why don’t I know?
How do you know?
Is it like falling in love? Do you just happen upon it one day? Does it smack you in the face one random Tuesday night and say, “HELLO! I’VE BEEN HERE WAITING FOR YOU.”
How do you find it? How do you know you’ve found it?
I just want to know what it looks like.
I’m desperate for its face.
I’m just so thick in the forest I can’t see the trees, but I know I’ve been on the other side. I know I’ve been there and I know it was good. I don’t know why I keep getting lost. Are my woods some kind of mind maze? What I would give to have a helicopter with a rescue light and a rope ladder hovering above me right now. But that’s not how this works. I have to keep finding my way out over and over again. Sometimes I’ll be able to get out fast and unscathed. But there will be times, like now, where I have to fight for the light every day. Where I walk and turn and walk and turn and pray with all my heart I’m going the right way.
– – –
I know it’s not #fun to read about depression without some type of resolve. It’s not inspiring. It’s not enlightening. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand times more:
http://lauragogia.com/educational-research/?share=tumblr We need to talk about our struggles while we’re in the middle of them so we know we’re not alone.
We don’t all exit our mazes at the same time. Some are in the beginning, some are lost in this weird circle that keeps producing dead ends, and some are on the outside, waiting, hoping, and cheering. Just because we’re not in the same spot doesn’t mean we can’t walk home together.
If you wait for me, I’ll wait for you.
09/ 21/ 2017
In my last Get Ready With Me video, I mentioned seeing magnetic eyelashes on Facebook and asked if you guys would be interested in seeing a review on them. You were, so I found a pair on Amazon and got to getting. These lashes weren’t my top choice, but while checking reviews on multiple different lashes, my #1 pick went from being available to sold out with no restock date in sight. I was hoping for the best and praying the four and five star reviews I read about these lashes were the rule and not the exception.
They weren’t. At least not in my case.
The magnets weren’t on right and no matter how hard I tried to will them to work, they wouldn’t. It shouldn’t be this hard to achieve the lazy-glam look. I haven’t given up quite yet and am determined to find a pair of reasonably priced magnetic eyelashes that work! All I need is something that has magnets applied properly and doesn’t make me look like I have caterpillar eyes If you have a favorite (RELIABLE) magnetic eyelash source, holla atca guuurl! I have a feeling I’m going to need all the help I can get.
09/ 20/ 2017
*my actual handwriting hasn’t really suffered at all. I was just being dramatic and it seemed fitting to keep escalating it. You know how I do.