The best year yet & we are just getting started.

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Pre kid Erin didn’t understand why mothers would give up their careers and high paying jobs after they had finished college and made great salaries (Current me GASPS at this, I was so naïve).  I had this assumption in my head that most stay at home moms probably didn’t make enough to cover child care and make a big profit (Again, GASP).  And then I became a mother.

Today marks  exactly a year since I transitioned from full time employment as the primary breadwinner of our family of 4 and took a 25,000 dollar pay cut to be at home more with the boys and work part time.

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Stop the Stigma

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In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) efforts to raise mental illness awareness.   So as the first full week of October comes to a close, I will share my experience and story in hopes that it decreases the stigma and increases the awareness of how important mental health is.

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I often find myself thinking how uncomfortable I get when people asked “What happened?” or when a conversation leads me to answer that I lost my mom in 2010. I cringe a little and take a deep breath because I wonder  after I answer if they will interact with me differently, think differently of me as a person, or treat me with “kid gloves” because “Oh how sad for her.” I promised last October to you all and myself that I would stand up and fight to eradicate stigma regarding mental illness and I have fallen short of my goal. I haven’t brought it to the forefront as much as I had planned, I hadn’t sought out opportunities to share my story and experience, and to use my voice as a blogger to keep fighting. It’s still really hard to talk about what happened – because it’s heartbreaking, emotionally draining, and gut wrenching.

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Blogger by Day Fashionista by Night

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To say I am honored would be an understatement. When Saks asked if I wanted to walk in a fashion show I without hesitation squealed and said yes. But when I stood at the top of the escalator wearing the most amazing (my God I truly mean AHHHHHMAZING) outfit ever and getting ready to make my runway debut, I started to second guess my eager beaver attitude and wondered if I had gotten in way over my head. “I’m 5″3, I have 2 little kids at home, I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow morning and I haven’t packed a thing” started to kick in!

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ARC – All Ages. All Abilities.

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In 2015, there were 3,978,497 births in the United States (CDC). Virginia contributed to that total with 102,187 births. Planning District 15, which includes Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan, and City of Richmond comprised 14,972 of those births with Henrico in the #1 slot followed by Chesterfield at #2 and Richmond City trailing Chesterfield by approx. 200 births at #3.

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Grandparents Day

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Last Saturday I was feeling so down and sad which is really unlike me.  It was one of those days where I was really missing my mom and grandpa. After I put the boys down for their naps, I started reading a few old letters and looking at pictures in my closet just to see their faces.

I have a stack of letters that my mom wrote at various times during childhood but the one I grabbed first was from when I was 15 months old, coincidentally the same age as G is now.

 I’ll share a small exert because it summarizes my relationship with my grandparents succinctly and so accurately on Grandparents Day 2017.

 “You have a special relationship with your grandma Sally. She kept you until you were 1 and you already know you can always depend on her. She is the ONE person that besides me and Dad you will always, always go to without hesitation (sometimes you are shy even with close family). Your grandma Sally is an amazing person – KIND and CONSIDERATE. I hope you inherit her qualities – because then I will know you will be a great person. 

I think you already know how to charge your grandpa (or Gra-pa). You give him kisses and are always looking for him at his house.”

So I’m sure you can image the sobbing that was occuring in my closet by now. I read through other letters referencing memories and stories  with tears streaming down my face with anger that he’s really gone. I still look for my grandpa at their house even though I know he’s no longer here. I still pick up the phone to call him for advice, to share updates, and just to hear his jokes. I truly couldnt have summarized my grandma any better. She is the kindest and most considerate person. She loves everyone she meets and all animals. She is humble, welcoming, loyal, and nuturing beyond belief. She somehow always knows exactly what to say to make me feel that all is right in the world. Wherever she is still feels like home to me. I leave her house even now feeling a restoration of humanity and a reminder that there are truly good people in the universe. She is the backbone of our family and I cannot imagine a day without her in my life. She has been a constant and dependable rock for me for the last 30 years and I am lucky beyond belief to call her my grandma.

Meeting my grandparents for the first time!

So today, we gathered to celebrate her. It was such a gorgeous day and I made a casserole to take and snack on. I made adjustments from a few casseroles I saw and substituted items. It felt right that I named this Comfort Casserole on a day my heart needed some good cookin’ and family time to comfort my broken heart without my grandpa here. So, without furtber ado here is a delicious and easy dish to take along to any gathering or to whip up at home.

Comfort Casserole

  • 1 lb of ground turkey, cooked
  • 9 eggs
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • I can of Grands Biscuits
  • 1/4 onion, chopped finely

Directions:

  1. Use nonstick spray to coat glass baking dish before laying biscuits on along bottom.
  2. Cook biscuits per directions on Grands can.
  3. While biscuits are baking, cook ground turkey and onions over medium heat on stove.
  4. When biscuits are cooked, layer ground turkey on top.
  5. Add cheese (I didn’t measure my cheese – sorry!) I layered thinly over turkey.

6. Scramble 9 eggs and layer on top of cheese.

7. Bake the casserole for 20 minutes  at 350 degrees. (You want to see the cheese and egg lightly browned on top!)

Despite the good food, the company of loved ones is the key to a successful gathering. Finding time to put phones away and chat and laugh with the people who mean the most was the best way to end my week. Knowing that my boys get to experience loving and knowing the most amazing woman in the entire world, my grandma, makes my heart swell. We missed you today grandpa, but know you are there in spirit.

Did you celebrate Grandparents Day today? What are your traditions today?

Xoxo

Erin 

New mom gifts

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I’m not sure about you, but my social media newsfeeds are overflowing with baby bumps, baby mamas, pregnancy announcements, and newborns! As friends and family to the pregnant or new mom/dad, we are just as eager to meet and spoil that new bundle of joy as the parents are. So, if you are like me and chomping at the bit to zoom on over in your car and snuggle that new babe and need a gift, here are a few recommendations for gifts that are a sure fire way to make that new mama feel celebrated and happy!

Most visitors will bring over baby items for a welcome home gift – clothes, blankets, diapers, toys etc. While these are all very practical and logical gift choices most moms have all that they need by the time baby comes home from the hospital. Personally, I think is an even better gift is something special just for mom. After all, she did just nourish and birth that sweet baby. Let’s show her how much we love her as well.

Here are a few of my very favorite affordable and memorable gifts that every new mom would be sure to love that are under 50$:

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Plan for Success

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I have always been a huge planner nerd. I love using pencils, pens, sharpies, and highlighters to track and mark off dates and tasks. I love colorful week views with pretty pictures and stickers to commemorate this amazing journey we call life. It warms my heart to see birthdays and anniversaries of loved ones filling my days. I have tried various scheduling and calendar apps and for a brief time used a shared calendar with my husband on our I-phones but it doesn’t quite bring me the joy that a tangible paper planner does. I get giddy about flipping to a fresh day, week, or month. Buying a new planner for the New Year brings me joy knowing it’s a new opportunity for setting crushing goals.

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Beauty Rewards @ Saks

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Calling all beauty and skin care lovers!  Starting August 1, 2017 – Saks is offering Beauty Rewards for all SaksFirst Card Holders.  If you already have a SaksFirst Card, you are enrolled and in luck.  Your SaksFirst and rewards accounts are already rolled into one card.  Easy Peasy right?  But before you run to your nearest Saks and buy ALL.THE.THINGS, let me give you the details on what is in the Beauty Box #1 and how to earn!

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Its Time For a Change

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“Miss W, are you Mexican?” was one of the first questions I was asked after I started working as a social worker in a Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia.  I paused and responded “What makes you ask that, D?”  “Well, you are not black. Your skin is light. You have blue eyes.” He really looked confused and was really checking out my skin and my hair.  “My mom and dad are both white and I am white.”  D looked at me a little puzzled and said “No, Miss W, what are you?” in a joking tone.  “I’m white D, I promise. What made you want to ask that?”  His response has haunted me since the moment the following words left his lips “Because white people don’t come here Miss W.”

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Pizza Dips

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I am incapable of doing complicated things in life right now.  So this easy lunch or dinner option fits in perfectly right now! Don’t let this easy option pass you by! Continue Reading