Invested In Hobbies: Talus Recovery (Week Seven)

Then, there came week seven post injury, week 5 post surgery. I felt more pain in my foot every so often, but it seemed to be tendon pain and was manageable.

The main distraction for this week was diving into my hobbies. I also was able to watch the partial solar eclipse!

I took a class at the local photography store about lighting and using a speedlight.

That same day I went to the range with husband so he could showcase teaching someone self defense skills in a wheel chair.

Later that afternoon I worked on my first maternity shoot with dear friends in their nursery. It was definitely a challenge not only using new gear for a new photography style…but also because my wheelchair limited my angles. But it was a fun challenge.


Other diversions I had included:

Finally playing and defeating Pokemon Sun

And reading all the things!

Husband and I even had a “paint night” painting some kindness rocks. (He bought the paint for future 3D prints…but said we could test them out.)

And most enjoyably, my coworkers visited me, bringing delicious food and a fun evening of laughter. :0)

Counted Down to 2016 Twice

When you work with kids you take EVERY opportunity to do fun things like celebrate the holidays. This meant that my coworker and I planned to have them celebrate the New Year’s festivities with making pizza, art projects, noise makers, and counting down at noon. They really seemed to enjoy it.

2015-12-31 13.12.49

Later I went to a party with people my own age to do another count down. While at the party it was a nice chance to catch up, and people were asking me about my job, what I do, and the differences between this job and another. One new friend asked about the kinds of kids we work with, basically asking how we know if we are effective. Honestly, since I work such short term programs either 15 or 30 days, I only know the middle of their stories and don’t usually know how things work out. Because my agency is so large sometimes I’m able to get a short update from a case manager who still works with them, but there are several dear to me cases that have been closed that I have no idea how their lives are going now.

Randomly, as I was returning the borrowed work vehicle to one of our offices I saw a former client and his family. His mom bragged about how well he’d done on his 9 weeks tests, and I discovered that he was still enrolled in his public school. I was surprised by this given how fed up the teachers were during his struggle to adjust, but he was able to pull through, and even admitted that he hadn’t received in school suspension in a couple of months. In was an unanticipated short encounter with a former client whom I’d labeled resistant and hadn’t been able to progress much work with, but he was beginning to thrive. That, is why I do what I do :0)

When discussing the differences between my first attempts at starting this career at the place where the children were out of control as compared to where I work now, another friend offered an insight that reflects on this professional development for the past year. She said that she noticed how at the last job my posts were usually dealing with so many frustrations, of getting through, but that now my posts are much happier, really enjoying what I do.

I’m incredibly thankful to have this job, at this agency, in this particular country, with my awesome supervisor and coworkers. Do I grumble each and every morning and say something to the husband like, “Please, can I just quit? Can I just not work” Yes, pretty much almost every single morning, because I want more time to do fun things like blogging, but I’m incredibly blessed and so excited to see where this career and upcoming year takes me!

Cheers to 2016!

2015-12-31 23.59.29

(This may or may not be my champagne and raspberries before I manage to dump it all over myself, which is doubly ironic as it is just due to clumsiness. Maybe coordination should be a goal in the new year?)

Weathered a Hurricane in OBX

Another “Favorite Unblogged 2015 moment”

Like most summers/fall we were able to vacation again in the beautiful Outerbanks. We looked forward to this break from work, a chance to travel and relax with friends. As the trip neared closer there was the chance of ugly weather (as there usually is when we plan the trip for off season) but we shrugged it off.


Due to successful persistence (aka obnoxiously repetitive comments) husby had agreed to sign us up for a wild pony tour. This is the most wished for experience that I’ve wanted to try the past several years I have traveled to these beaches. He checked the forecast and and scheduled the tour for the morning of the least amount of rainfall.

At the beach we enjoyed the house and watched the weather reports. We called the morning off, listening to the news, but were reassured, “honey we have hummers, we won’t cancel for rain” So we drove north, smile on my face.

We arrived, and when I heard a worker saying, “yeah we are about to close up shop” I had an awful sense of foreboding, I knew something was wrong. Husband went to check in, and began to talk with another employee. This man began his comments about the problem being about how far the water was inland “There is just no beach to drive on.” He continued to the point of saying that the tour was cancelled, and that they would probably not open again until the next Tuesday…when we were leaving on Sunday. Before he was finished explaining, I pulled my hood up over my head, and began to bawl/ugly cry like a small child.

I hadn’t realized how much I had been looking forward to this experience, and when it was finally on the schedule. We returned to the car, to try to redeem the day. We did find some fun things to do, even if I was crushed.

This was as close to a Pony as I got:

2015-10-01 13.12.22

The next morning was when hurricane Joaquin came to visit, although to be fair, I think it was the outer storms, and not even the most powerful part of the hurricane. Of course, my curious self had to go out and explore it. At first I attempted to put my phone camera in a plastic baggie to document the moment, but then a friend let me borrow his waterproof camera as they all laughed at my silly nature.


It was neat to experience, to feel the power of the waves, I felt my breath catch in my chest and my body tense up in response. The waves were driven in high, and you could see where debris were floating onto the beach.


When the rains stopped, husband and I ventured out for lunch. We wanted to see how deep the puddles were, and if we needed to leave our trip early so we wouldn’t be trapped on the Island. I enjoyed the signage. Husband and I planned to leave the next morning.

2015-10-02 13.59.20 2015-10-02 13.58.41 2015-10-02 13.57.52

That evening sitting around in our wonderful theater room, a friend came up and said, “The sky is beautiful right now, we are all trying to take pictures of it, and it dawned on us that you LOVE taking pictures” so they ushered me outside and several of them committed to try to help me rig up a tripod (since I hadn’t brought mine–we stolez it from the provided telescope) to marvel at the moonlight streaming on the calm ocean. It was incredible to think of the change from that morning, but the relationship aspect of the moment will last with me forever. I’m not good at making friends, as I documented at that recent wedding, and the fact that they were pursuing me, and embracing this wonderful moment with me, was such an incredible gift. I wanted to bask in that feeling.


2015-10-03 00.52.17 2015-09-27-10-04-OBX_530

So husband and I plan to leave, only to wake up to the gorgeous sun shinning down, and decided that we might as well celebrate the sunny day that the beach was giving us (even if we’d postpone more significant anniversary celebrations).



And that sunny day I ensured that I did all of the things that I hadn’t done yet on the trip: swimming in the ocean, relaxing in the hot tub, etc. Definitely our most memorable beach trip ever.


Won NaNoWriMo

I won!

As I announced to you awhile ago, I happily participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in my life! For the first weekend of November, and thus the first weekend of NaNoWriMo we had a few friends in town and decided to host a write-in event! There were snacks and laughter galore.


It was a fun experience to write with people. Most of the time during our 30 or 45 minutes sprints we would set a challenge to see who could write the highest word count to spur us towards our daily goals. This helped me to be two or there days ahead of where I needed to be after that weekend. It was a nice feeling to be so far in advance.

Me, writing!

One of the weirdest experiences that I had while typing out my story was how the words seemed to continue to flow. I had no idea if they were well written words or not, but at least I was meeting and surpassing the daily word count goals.

Our foods

In preparing to do NaNoWriMo I got index cards and wrote out scenes on them, which most scenes were individual chapters. Writing flowed the most when I had scenes at least sketched out, later when I did not add more index cards it was more difficult to picture the novel in my head. Simply, because I knew each of my characters needed to be fleshed out throughout their introductions in order to share depth during the group counseling phase of the book I let my mind wander as they were in their scenes, adding any adjectives or random back story that I could think of. Often I cheated using personal items or experiences from my own life. Likely, much of this will need to be edited out, but it helped as a writer to picture and develop the characters more. Seriously, I spent 30,000 words before they ever got to the counseling retreat location to begin their group counseling (i.e. the entire point of the novel)!

My writing materials

I felt very encouraged throughout the process. At the Bible Study I attend, I shared my plans, and the reasons for wanting to see if I could accomplish the goal of 50,000 words. They were very curious, and then moved to hysterics as I described that I was writing about the Disney Princesses.


Writing was the toughest when I was sick for a few days, I lost my advantage of being ahead. Then, we traveled to NY to visit my in laws and I found it more difficult to write after I got behind. I ended up just trying to make myself write whatever I could to make up for lost time. I didn’t want to give up after so much work! However, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Then, when we returned home, I found out that I was desperately needed in my counseling office, leaving me time to write only in the evenings.


I pushed myself, writing whatever I could and found that I had reached the 50,000 word goal! However, my story wasn’t finished, I really hadn’t fleshed out the counseling aspects or the climax of the story at all! Understanding that this is supposed to be the first draft, I allowed myself to skip some scenes and chapters, and wrote an ending. This brought my word count to 51,900!

I still have no idea if it is any good. If you’d like to read and edit it feel free to let me know. I’ll certainly let you preview the 150 + double spaced google doc pages. Because I don’t really know how the story is, its hard to know how I feel about “winning” and meeting the goal. I think I thought that I would feel more accomplished than I do. I may not feel as accomplished until I’m able to edit it, and maybe publish it digitally and physically via the prizes for the winners, not sure. But at the end of the day, I did it!’


Thinking about it further, maybe I didn’t necessarily win the feeling of accomplishment, because the story isn’t finished yet. However, I realized that I’ve been very patient with myself while beginning this phase of my education, the internship. Whereas I would normally have the tendency about failing or doing the wrong thing, not doing 100% what I should do the first time, I have not had that anxiety. Instead, I’ve been able to go into my sessions knowing that this is the “editing” time period and that I’m likely to speak as an unseasoned counselor and that I can continue to refine those skills over time. Maybe that is truly my winning prize, to have continued the evasion of my perfectionism tendencies in other areas of my life!


Here is a synopsis of the novel “Disenchanted”

Belle is a hipster: she likes her toms, her apple computer, and adores paranormal romance books. She worries about her Grandfather, and her future. Ariel is an anthropologist who likes to study other cultures, but struggles with anxiety of talking with people. Cinderella was a poor waitress/server recently was married to a wealthy businessman and was whisked into a rich lifestyle with her daughter. Her new husband also has two children of his own and he lives with his mother. Cinderella struggles with feeling like her shoes “simply do not fit” in this new life of blended families and worries about becoming the “wicked stepmother.” Aurora met her knight and shining armor husband while questing in an online role playing game. She was about to be fire roasted by the dragon, when he appeared and rescued her. Now she struggles with the reality of having two children and feeling emotionally disconnected from her husband. Snow White is a model, and has been in the fashion industry her entire life due to her parents’ involvement. She struggles in the limelight often having panic attacks from the anxiety, specifically having thoughts regarding her lack of beauty. Rapunzel is the youngest member of the group. When she was younger she had cancer, and because of this her parents have been over protective, really hindering her from experiencing life. Rapunzel is excited to finally be out on her own, but can’t expect what she discovers!

All of these characters find a flyer and realize that there is a problem in their lives that they want fixed. They want their happily ever after, and they want help to get it. The counselor who will be working with them is intimidated and worried about this group of women who may become “desperate housewives” and whine and complain about the men in their lives. He is a recent Christian who struggles with shame and guilt over his own past, and is learning more about God’s grace, and what he feels is God’s calling on his life to help others. Then, of course, there is the Fairy God Mother. She is the mentor/supervisor of the Christian counselor, as well as the director of the group counseling retreat weekend. The Fairy God Mother interacts with each of the guests, helping them to find enlightenment and wisdom throughout their self reflection journeys.


Met Baby Auri

Many of you probably remember when I posted about throwing a baby shower for my best friend, you can see that post again here.

Well, today I had the pleasure of meeting Auri for the first time! She was born at 7:20 pm on 12/9/12 7:20 pm 7 lbs 1.5 oz, 21 inches long. Ironically, this post also could have been titled “Never Have I Ever Taken Maternity Photography” because the day that I was supposed to photograph her pretty mommy, she decided to be born. I think that she was just jealous and wanted her own pictures.


She is adorable and soooo teeny, but with long feet and fingers! She also has bright blue eyes. Many of these pictures are blurry or dark, because I didn’t want to use the bright flash around her sensitive eyes.

What is really fun is that Auri even has her own facebook and google voice number. This means that all of the friends and family can tag pictures, write her messages, and leave her voice messages and her parents will collect everything and give to her at some later birthday. Her father has said this will likely be when she’s 50 and decides to permit her to see the outside world. (Because you know, there are boys in the outside world ;0) ). This is the second newborn that I’ve had the opportunity to hold, so its exciting to work on not being afraid of babies. I was never that young woman who was all “oh my gosh its a baby! I need to touch it” I usually just cooed at them from afar. Specifically speaking, I have a fear of the tiny humans, because they seem very breakable, and because their cries seem ambiguous to me. I think I’d prefer toddlers or pre school age, once we could chat it up a bit.

While visiting tonight, the friends and I were discussing how neat it is with the increase of technology and photography that we’ll be able to watch Auri’s life progress on facebook (instead of being like our parents who have to trudge pictures out of an old photo album buried somewhere). I’m really entertained! I will likely copy this idea, mostly because I get annoyed when people set their facebook profile pictures as their children. I think this makes it less confusing.






Participated in NanoWrimo

When I was younger (middle and even through my early highschool years) I thought that I would be a writer when I grew up. I was always an avid reader adoring the times that we went to the library during class, and when the scholastic book fair was at our school! Let alone dying to drive across the bridge to the giant bookstore which I would inevitably use all the gift cards and then some for stacks and stacks of books. 

During high school world history class I would write in my notebooks, one story specifically I wrote more that 200 handwritten pages for. Several friends in my group also wrote stories so we’d trade them and edit each other’s work. The summer after 10th grade I even went to a two week pre college program at Hollins University to and took a 2 week long class on “Politics in Literature” and “Creative Writing.” I loved it!
Then all of a sudden I just stopped writing. I didn’t even really notice it at first, not until I had graduated and realized that I’d spent so much time writing yet never finished any of my stories. I just got busy with classes, clubs, and a high school social life, and I had decided that I wanted to do Youth Ministry instead of writing books/ being an English teacher.
Earlier this month a friend of mine was saying how she wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. For those of you who don’t know this is an event of month long writing. From Nov.1st till Nov.30th groups of people sit in libraries, cafes, or their home office and start from scratch to meet a 50,000 word count by midnight.  
I’ve always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo its just been the story of not having enough time, and for the past few years I’ve had classes to go to. However, this year I am in a unique position this year as I am currently unemployed with loads of free time on my hands and likely my internship won’t begin until December, maybe late November. I’ve been feeling discouraged not having a job to succeed at and feel good about myself on a fairly regular basis so I think participating in this could be really good for me. I am notorious about starting things but never finishing them. I started so many stories and would start the sequels before I ever got anywhere near to completing the first story.
In deciding to participate I immediately hit the road block of “what on earth do I write about?” I looked back at all my old stories and felt embarrassed by their lack of originality and the flat prose. I realized that I wanted to keep it simple. I didn’t want to create a new fantasy world because that involves a lot of work, creativity, and details. Plus, every fantasy oriented idea that I came up with I recognized a movie or book with that plot the next second in evaluating the idea. 
Then, I thought maybe I should try to write something fan fiction oriented where I could just write and not have to develop the characters or the universe. I realized that Disney Princesses/Fairytale princesses would be the fan fiction that I would most be able to write. My internship should be starting soon, so I need to be studying anything counseling related in preparation. Suddenly, an idea was born. What if the Disney princesses had their happily ever afters and then real life happened and they weren’t happy anymore? How would they handle that? What would happened if they went to Group Counseling together?
The working title is “Disenchanted” and it is about 5-6 fairytale princesses types who are real people in our world and how they struggle with their lives. For example, Talia met her husband while role playing as “Briar Rose.” When he rescued her from a fire breathing dragon in the online virtual world it was love at first sight. But now marriage and 2 children later she’s not so sure that she has her happy ending and she wants her fairytale. 
The purpose of this story is really about exploring the ideas of what brings happiness. Is it about getting those fairytale endings? How can we experience more acceptance, happiness, and joy with the realities of everyday life? I’m really excited to see how this unfolds! Despite that making my characters go to counseling means ton of detailed character development in preparation. 
The hardest part of this endeavor, besides completing the 50,000 word count challenge, will be not editing myself throughout the way. However, this is all the more reason why I think its really necessary for me. 
I’m really looking forward to the write-in that I’ll be having with my friends the first weekend of NaNoWriMo to get our word counts off to a great start!
You can stay up to date with my progress through my username Ciao_Erin at, but it’ll also be posted in a picture widget on the side of the blog! 

Watched Beauty and the Beast 3D

So, I had been stalking the dollar theatre’s website to find out when Beauty and the Beast 3D would finally be showing. See, I saw Lion King 3D at the regular cinema and paid $14.00 only to find out a few months later I could have seen it for like $3.00. I figured that I’d be smarter this time. I’ve been waiting for months now…even to the extent of calling the place twice to confirm that they would definitely be getting the movie. I guess it should figure that the universe decided it’d be funny if I saw it twice in one day. And trust me, I may like Beauty and the Beast…but I don’t like it enough to plan to see it in theatres twice on the same day…pretty sure I’ve never ever seen two movies at the cinema in one day.

It was a scheduling fluke. I’d been planning to see it with my Italy Team since during our free time in Italy we’d sing Disney songs…then, our returned friend contacted my husband to plan a surprise double date. The husband and I could not be happier that they’ve returned, since in college they were always the couple that we double dated with to see movies, go out to eat, and simply get off campus when we were overwhelmed with the cfaw’ers crawling over our campus. So, how could I say “no” to that? So, that is how I ended up seeing it at 2:20 and 9:20 pm!

We met our friends at Cici’s where I never get to eat because the husband is not a fan. This also meant that I was able to keep up with this idea that I should eat one salad a day. I’ve been able to continue this since Applebee’s on Thursday. I had a mishap at Cici’s that I was not quick enough to photograph. Word to the wise…before turning containers of bacon bits upside down over your salad and shaking it violently, it might be important to double check that the lid is tightly screwed on. My salad got into a fight with the bacon bits, and it lost terribly.

After lunch we wandered around at some local shops before the movie. At the movies I saw one of those photo booth things, but this one was themed for the Hunger Games. On one hand I wondered, “why?” on the other at least a little bit of me wanted to do it. I was pleasantly surprised at the movie. I’m not sure if it is because its been like 20 years since the last time that I saw it on the big screen, but it felt different. It appeared that some of the graphics and scenery were redone in order the highlight the 3D, for the first time I noticed a lot of the background details. After the movie we went our separate ways, but ended up getting ice cream together and then lounging at their house before my next showing.

I was already so sleepy that part of me regretted planning to see this movie twice, especially since I had planned the event with my Italy Team. However, as soon as I saw my teammates I was so excited! There ended up being 11 of us, three of which were guys on the trip! We ended up almost filling an entire row, in the very front. Throughout the movie there were random bits of laughter and various comments made from the far side of the group (where the guys were). Apparently, I found out after the movie that one of the guys actually screamed and jumped when the wolves were attacking Belle. I’m pretty sure that we all would have paid $4.00 just to watch him watch this movie. His neighbors also managed to tie his shoe laces together without him noticing.

Being with my team again made me miss Italy so much! I also received an email this weekend from one of the missionaries there. They have finalized the location of their new church plant in a new city, and it will hold its first service on Easter! I am just humbled to be able to be apart of this ministry again! One of these days I will have to blog and post pictures about my experiences!