Excerpts of Erynn

a blog about… nothing in particular and everything at once

Christmas Season Begins! December 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erynn Sprouse @ 2:24 am

Around here, we have a few favorite traditions, and here are some pictures about them!
  Wall of Thankfulness— throughout the Christmas season, the kids get to draw about things they’re thankful for on a giant piece of paper tacked to the wall. It’s a great way to focus on blessings… and an easy thing to send them to do when they’re making me crazy… err… I mean when they need an activity.

Charlie the Christmas Chimp— He’s a (distant) cousin to the Elf on the Shelf, and quite closely related to the Christmas Mouse. Charlie announces fun activities, hands out good deed assignments, praises the kids for good behavior, brings treats… whatever we want him to do. Last year he married Charlene and the boys got to plan their wedding reception (the crazy chimps eloped). Today was Charlie’s debut for this Christmas season and the first assignment was as it has been the last few years: make him a house. This year, Charlie specifically requested the house be decorated (he’s married now, you know. No bachelor pads here!) and the boys came thru. They made plenty of art, complete with Spirograph frames. There’s a Christmas tree, a pet in its own cozy tube, and even bracelets and a necklace on a “stand” for Charlene. They didn’t forget to decorate the chimps’ ceiling either, where they’ve taped a portrait of the happy couple. 

Annual Ornament— each year, each kid picks a new ornament. We try to encourage them to pick an ornament that means something, but often it’s simply one they like. It gets labeled with the kids name or initials (depending on space) and the year. Each year, they get to hang their own ornaments on the tree. The rest of the tree gets filled with candy canes– a tradition we carried over from my family. When we’re done decorating the tree, we have cups of eggnog by the tree and this year we added a toast with “clinking” of glasses. 


Snowball fight— okay… we live in Texas. So obviously, this isn’t a literal snow ball fight. But “snowball fight” sounds much better than “balled up grocery bag fight,” even though the second is more accurate. This happens on Christmas Day and I’m looking forward to it. We run around and throw the “snowballs” at anyone and everyone and it’s just a ton of fun. This is actually a tradition we took up after an ill-advised attempt to establish a traditional silly string fight (silly string stains white walls. Who knew?).

These are some of my favorite traditions. There are more (so many more!) because… I don’t know. Traditions are very important to me. I like the way “we always… (did this or that)” bonds a family and makes the holiday special. Schedules and routines give me hives, but their cousin tradition is a welcome glue and memory maker.

I’d love to hear about your favorite Christmas traditions!


Bad Day (Or… I Got a Tattoo, pt 2) September 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erynn Sprouse @ 11:08 pm

I Got a Tattoo, pt 1

I knew this day would come. I knew that one day IB would be stronger than I could handle with three little words. When I was relying on a bracelet, these are the days when IB declared victory by practically ripping the leather from my wrist. If it had been anything weaker than leather, IB would have shredded it, sending the message that there would never be a day when he was not reigning.

And today was one of those days.

Love was not prevailing. I could find no love for myself, only fallings and flaws. Could find no patience for my husband, only failings and flaws. There is a victory here, though, because even with IB so very loud today, I did not yell. I did not have a single outburst. I found love to give to my children. I saw them smile, cherished their laughter, participated in their sillies and even made time to read to my little redheaded ray of sunshine.

But inside me, inside my head, it was dark today. Even now there is so little hope. And really, that’s why I’m writing. There is a little hope. And I want to capture it, want to fan it.

I knew this day would come and so I took measures to prepare against it.

Tonight I stood beside my bed, mid-diaper change, and wept. Sobbed. My little daughter stared up at me, unsure of what to do and, as even babies will do, wondered how to fix this. It was all there on her little puzzled face. She smiled tentatively, her eyes searching my face… and my face smiled, but my eyes did not. I could find nothing positive about me or my training of my children or my service as a child of God or my role as a wife. And for a moment I wanted to give up on this whole only love idea. And I started to say to myself… or rather, IB started to tell me… “‘Only love today’ Hah! Not today. No love today. That dumb tattoo doesn’t work. Nothing works and you’ll never win.” And that’s when I heard the lie. The tattoo does work. Because I CAN’T give up on trying, on striving for love for me and love for those around me. It’s still there, IB. My pledge is still there. I promised more than just that I wouldn’t end it all; I promised I would try and try and try, that I would strive and I would fight. Yes, today was hard. Yes, today all I see is the wrong and the failings and the flaws and it all seems cracked. Yes, today it seemed that I live in a perpetual state of cards thrown up in defeat.


I gave that up.

I gave up giving up. I quit being a quitter. I released myself from all of that. I don’t do it any more. I keep on. I trudge on. I promised I would and I sealed it with ink on my body where I see it every day, nearly every moment.

But today I had a bad day.

IB wants to tell me that I don’t get to have a bad day. It wasn’t a found-out-a-dear-one-died day. And it wasn’t a hurricane-destroyed-my-life day. And it wasn’t a fleeing-violent-war day. It wasn’t even a got-a-bee-sting day. IB wants to say that today wasn’t a bad day, that I’m just a baby. He wants me to believe that since nothing bad happened that it wasn’t a bad day and I don’t get to claim it. Because if it wasn’t just a bad day, then this is my life. The failings and the flaws and all the cracks… if this wasn’t just a bad day, then these are my life.

But he lies.

It was a bad day.
But he’s right, also. Or partly right: the failings and the flaws and the cracks are part of my life.

But that’s completely okay. Perfection is not required. Keeping on, trudging on… those things are required, and those things I can do. I promised to do. And you know what? It isn’t a bad day now. IB went quiet when I called him on his lies.

The tattoo was a good idea.


What You Don’t See August 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erynn Sprouse @ 7:00 pm

Homeschool moment

I posted this picture on Instagram & Facebook today captioned “#HomeschoolMoment Geography for big boys, Evelyn admiring her cute self, blocks for Ean & Joey.” A friend commented and said I was the bomb [dot] com. Oh me, oh my! That’s very kind… but NOT me!

Whenever homeschooling comes up, one of the most common responses I hear is that the mom I’m talking to couldn’t possibly homeschool her kids because she’s not ____ enough. She says she’s not smart enough, not organized enough, not patient enough, not… enough. And no matter what I say about how you don’t really have to be ____ to homeschool, they never believe me. Now, I really enjoy posting “homeschool moment” pictures, but it occurs to me, maybe these pictures aren’t helping this “not enough” notion. I want them to be a glimpse into our life for friends and family, a show-n-tell of how fun homeschooling is and a record for me of our blessed and privileged days. What I do NOT want is for it to be a magazine perfect image or unrealistic standard-setter for others to beat themselves up with.

So here’s what you don’t see in that picture…

Those are yesterday’s clothes. And not because they woke up and put them back on. They slept in them, then got up and went about the day. All of the kids. Except Joey, that is… yesterday he was wearing underwear (pants too). In fact, I took the picture off of social media because I realized that in the original picture you *do* see some of what you shouldn’t see.

couch piled high with clothes waiting to be folded is on the other side of the room from those intense looking block builders.

That was our third attempt to get the geography lesson done. We’d been interrupted several times already.

Ketchup on the playmat (I wiped it off). About 45 minutes earlier, Ean had squirted ketchup at Joey. No reason. He just thought it would be fun. When I called him in to ask him about it, he was smirking. Ohhhh that pushes my buttons! I *almost* lost it. Instead, I took a deep breath and whispered “Get out of my sight.” Definitely could’ve chosen better words, but I didn’t yell at him. A few minutes later he came back and I got the story out of him, then sent him back to his room to think up three ways of having fun with his brothers that didn’t involve ketchup (or any other condiments) and wouldn’t land him in trouble.

But back to Evelyn… That playmat playing only lasted about 15 minutes. Most of the time, school happens when she’s asleep. Otherwise, she’s hanging out on my hip or in my Boba. Those 15 minutes? Rare and golden.

It was 1:47 PM and we hadn’t had lunch yet. Now, for us, that’s pretty typical. I like to say we run on a European schedule (even though we’ve never been there). It used to flip me out (how will my children ever function in the REAL world where everyone ALWAYS eats lunch at noon?! Oh… wait…) but then I met a friend of a friend whose non-schedule ran a lot like my non-schedule and her nearly grown kids were pretty awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, though… We’re calling this day a victory for sure. I wanted to quit. Almost closed up the books and sent the kids outside. But the lightbulb went on: PRAY! So we prayed. We prayed that I would be patient, that the kids would be patient, that they would understand that their momma is only human and they would learn the good things from my example and somehow miss the bad. We prayed and then we pressed on and we got about half a day’s worth of work done. I guess I’m kind of glad that this picture looks like I’m the bomb dot com kinda mom… because I know what really happened. And I can look at everyone else’s bomb dot com mom pics and remember that maybe what I don’t see is just like what I do see here. :o)


Tasty-ish August 11, 2015

Filed under: Kids say the funniest things — Erynn Sprouse @ 8:56 pm

Conversation with Jaden & Jeremy​ just before dinner…
Jaden: could you get me new shoes tomorrow?
Me: Why?
Jaden: because the soles are coming off and tomorrow is Bible class.
Jeremy: I have some instructions for how to make duct tape shoes.
Jaden: really? Cool!
Me: <giving THE look>
Jaden: It’s like eating. You can go out to eat and it’s tastier but more expensive, or you can cook at home and it’s cheaper and… <grimacing> … tasty-ish

And here’s what we had that’s “tasty-ish.” Actually, Jeremy & I quite like it. The kids? Well… they need to learn that you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes you get what you need. ;o) Who knows. Maybe they’ll grow to like it. Isaac said, “Mom, I find this more enjoyable than usual. Thanks.”


I got a tattoo August 10, 2015

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:01 pm

Recently I told a friend, “You’re going to think I’m joking, but I’m not. I got a tattoo.” Despite my warning, she thought I was joking. Maybe you’re waiting for the punch line too… but there isn’t one. I got a tattoo.

I’ve shared my reasons with my nearest and dearest and decided I wanted to write an explanation that I could point people to as needed. Really, I don’t owe an explanation to anyone, but sharing the reasons I got my tattoo is part of the reason I got it (that makes sense, right?).

So here goes.

There aren’t many facts about me or my life that are secret– I’m not a very private person– but perhaps the depths of some of the facts are. It’s not secret that depression has been an issue for me, but I’ve painted a far rosier picture than reality, even for my sweet hubby and, really, even for myself. Like Impressionism vs. Realism. The depth of it, the reality of it starts with “attempted” and ends with… well… it didn’t. Could’ve ended. Almost ended. But didn’t.

Let’s have an aside for a moment.

First, please excuse my vagueries. It makes a difficult subject, a difficult confession a little easier. I feel exposed enough. Forgive me hiding behind turns of phrase.

Second, if you know me and you’re reading this and feeling like you should’ve known, like I should’ve told you… you might be right. Maybe I should’ve. But that’s the nature of the thing, isn’t it? It lives in the dark, flourishes in the dark and withers in the light. Like any other thing with a mind of its own, it has a sense of self-preservation. And so I didn’t tell you because it wouldn’t let me. And in those moments when it didn’t have a grip on me, I suppose I was embarrassed & ashamed. For that matter, I am embarrassed and ashamed now… but I’m learning not to be. I’m determined not to be.

I have never felt like my depression was the haywire-brain-chemistry kind and medication isn’t my thing anyway. My depression has always been due to ugly self-talk from a vicious inner-bully (IB) who, like a skilled gardener, thrives off of as well as feeds my poor self-care habits. But I have been unable to stop the barrage… until recently. A while ago, I came across the phrase “only love today” on a blog called Hands Free Mama. At first, in my literalist, perfectionist mind, I balked at the phrase as an impossibility, but earlier this year, I guess I was desperate. It seemed like depressive episodes were coming more often and hitting harder. One incident really worried me. Whenever other people (besides my husband and kids) are around, I’ve never found it hard to shut down IB, be genuinely happy and enjoy my friends and family (it’s one of the things that tells me mine isn’t a clinical depression). But this was different.

cool dudes with Evelyn\
Thoughtful friends had gifted us with a photography session and the photographer wanted to come to the house. To my very messy house. She was going to be looking for a place to photograph the kids… inside my very messy house. I cannot explain the level of panic that set in. It is no exaggeration to say that I was non-functional. I could.not.stop.crying. Bawling. Crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. That had never happened before. When it came down to the wire, I could always at least fake a smile. But not this time. In a moment of strength, I texted a friend who had also dealt with depression and explained my situation. She offered to come over, and in a moment of superhuman strength, I hushed IB long enough to accept her kind offer. The day worked out, the pictures are lovely (and were taken outside!), but I was scared. It was as though my depression had entered another stage. Like cancer gone from stage three to stage four.

IMG_4904So I decided to try this “only love today” thing as a way to quiet IB. It worked pretty well, actually. So well that on a self-indulgent whim, I bought a bracelet off the Hands Free Mama site. When it came, I started wearing it nearly constantly. It worked better than I’d have ever thought possible, and soon it was almost a good luck charm or talisman. I would see the bracelet out of the corner of my eye and automatically read it, check my inner monologue and nearly always find that IB was whispering ugliness and spreading gangrene. But the words were right there and I would say the simple phrase to myself… “Stop. Only love today…” And as if a spell had been cast, IB would hush. Most of the time, anyway. The bracelet had one flaw: impermanence. On days when I forgot it after dishwashing or showering, I didn’t have the reminder I needed. And a time or two, IB was too strong and took it off so as to reign supreme. Overall, though, the difference was astounding.

Meanwhile, I came across something else interesting and powerful: “Project Semicolon.” The tagline is “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” Honestly, I don’t know much about this movement beyond the tagline, so I wouldn’t say I’m one of them, but what an idea! I think what they’ve done is clever, simple and elegant. They’ve turned a basic punctuation mark into a symbol imbued with hope and victory. A quick google search will turn up tattoo after tattoo people have gotten of semicolons in support of depression/suicide/mental illness awareness. I wanted one too. “But I couldn’t,” I thought to myself. “What would people say?” And that’s when I recognized IB’s philosophy: what other people think of you is most important.

could. And I could fix my bracelet’s flaw as well.

2015-07-21 21.37.35Soon I was doodling designs, researching tattoo shops, first tattoo tips, and asking a few trusted, godly friends if they thought it was a good idea or not. Almost universally, as soon as I explained what I wanted and my reasoning, my friends agreed with me… this could be a really powerful tool. Everyone cautioned against haste and Jeremy asked me to draw my design on my wrist for a while to see if I really did want to make such a permanent mark. He’s a wise man and his request made me all the more attached to the idea. So… three weeks ago, on a Tuesday night, I drove to AJ’s Ink in Stephenville and got inked (which is how we tattooed people say it. I guess. Haha!). It’s much larger than I had planned. The tattoo artist advised me that the way I had it planned, the ink would run together and it wouldn’t be clear. It had to be bigger. Made me nervous and I almost backed out. But I’m so glad I didn’t because it has been the tool I’d hoped it would be, and more.


… in my handwriting… because it’s MY declaration. My declaration of so much.

The semicolon part of my tattoo is a permanent declaration, a promise, a vow to myself and any who might see it that a voluntary end is off the table. Non-negotiable. It’s a promise to keep fighting and it’s an identifier for anyone who might know what the semicolon stands for that they– that we– are not alone. The “only love today” part is both goal and reminder. It is a goal to be loving toward myself both in my head and in my actions. Love is an active thing, and it reminds me that I must take care of myself. It is a reminder of my goal to let love rule my interactions with others. It is a reminder not to let things penetrate my heart that don’t come from love; the things that people say aren’t always born of love. The way the tattoo is designed, it also reads “only today,” and it reminds me that today is all I need to worry about.

That’s what I’d expected and planned though. What I didn’t expect was the feeling of freedom I had the morning after I got my tattoo. I think that’s when I finally grasped how dark things had really been. I hadn’t realized how very afraid I had been, how scared of myself I had felt… until I wasn’t any more. I was Dr. Jekyll freed of Mr. Hyde.

Of course, depression isn’t solved so easily as getting a tattoo on your wrist. It’s a process. Sometimes a long process. It has been long for me, but I’m so pleased… so VERY pleased… to be where I am and I feel like I’ve taken such a leap forward. I rather doubt others will notice; this has been such a private struggle. But I notice. And it bears repeating… I am so VERY pleased.

And while I am still embarrassed and a bit ashamed… I’m so pleased to share this with you. Joy is best shared.

Update: I got a tattoo (part 2)


Annual knitting bug November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erynn Sprouse @ 11:05 pm

Warning… if you’re a non-knitter/crocheter… this just won’t be interesting. Maybe it will… but I doubt it. Proceed at your own risk. :)

Well the annual knitting bug has bit once again, and bitten with a vengeance! It’s always a powerful combination to have fall weather without and a baby growing within… add onto all that the joy of said baby being a GIRL (nicknamed Herculina) and… WOO… that’s a powerful knitting bug (knitting for girls is so much more fun)! For the sake of my own record and perhaps a bit of accountability (and because I do like blogging, low priority though it is), here’s what’s on my needles…

almost lost washcloth

Almost lost washcloth. This is my third washcloth from this pattern. It’s a fun pattern that produces a perfectly sized washcloth that’s nice and fluffy as well as pretty.

Tea and knittingbaby sweater

Sweater for Herculina (pattern is “Judy’s Grandmother’s Baby Sweater“). I have been wanting to make this little sweater for years. Literally. This pattern is THE major reason I bought the book “Greetings From Knit Cafe.” The pattern says it is unisex, and I thought maybe it was… but add a bow to anything and that pretty well undoes it for a boy. So, I’ve never made it. It’s cute though!! And it’s a fun pattern so far. Easy peasy. I think I may add a little lacy lavender border when it’s done. I’m hoping to make some booties to match too.


I think I can… (pattern is “the beekeeper’s quilt“). I bought the pattern for this at the beginning of the year and made it my aim to complete it… someday. I noticed a tendency to shy away from huge projects or even largish projects, so this was my method/ New Year’s resolution to work on that. And it’s gone well. I keep this little project in my “Handbag of Holding” (this is a great purse… has a padded center pocket for a laptop, but it’s perfect for knitting stuff). I’m still a looonnngg way from done with this project, but it’s fun to have something to toodle on when I’m otherwise bored. In the car. Sitting at homeschool coop. And while the overall project is far from finished, each little hexapuff is like a tiny project done lickety split. Very satisfying!

2-at-a-time socks

My current favorite project…
1st 2-at-a-time socks! (The pattern is basically “Sailor’s Delight“). I bought this 2-At-A-Time Socks book at the beginning of the year  too… and just couldn’t grasp the process. Then I decided I wanted some nice yarn to knit up for Herculina and looked up a yarn shop. Well lo and behold, they were offering a class on two-at-a-time socks!! Woohoo!! It’s a splurge to take the class in part because one of the requirements is to buy the yarn there. Not cheap! Or at least not as cheap as Hobby Lobby. It’s also 80 miles away in Fort Worth. But… my hubby is sweet and indulged me. He kept the kiddos during class last week and will again next week. Anyway, I am LOVING this yarn, these socks, even my silly little stitch markers. The process of two-at-a-time… well… the jury’s still out. I think it’s probably a wise thing… but I feel like I spend a lot of time rearranging the needles/cables. Now that the socks have a couple inches on them, it’s going along more easily. We’ll see how I feel about the idea of two socks at a time when they’re done.


Productive(ish) Procrastination July 4, 2014

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 12:05 pm

I really should be working on my lessons for next week. Things are percolating up there, though… and I don’t think they’re quite ready to pour out. Having left this blog to its own devices for three months, I think it feels a little lonely. And I’ve missed it. Also, I have some memories piling up that I don’t want to lose. I used to upload a lot of pictures to Facebook and that was kind of my photo/memory album… but I quit Facebook (except for Come Fill Your Cup purposes). It’d been a long Wednesday and as we headed out for evening Bible class, I wondered to myself what I’d accomplished in the day. I thought and thought… and realized I’d gotten basically NOTHING done all day because I’d been sucked into Facebook world. I’d been occupied with other people’s children while I waved my own away with irritation. I’d been absorbed in other people’s rantings while my own children ranted at each other and I didn’t even know why. It was… well… it was shameful. I’m only putting it down here so I remember for myself why I quit and so that if you, whoever you are, have been caught in the same trap, I can encourage you… quit. Just get off of Facebook or Twitter or whatever else has sucked you in and taken you captive. Re-engage in your own REAL life. Yes… Facebook friends are real friends. But they probably have phone numbers you can call or text and email addresses you can use to ask how they’re really doing (instead of Facebook stalking them and seeing only what they have deemed world-viewing-worthy… their highlight reel) and faces you can look into as they talk… those really are better ways to connect. So just do it, okay? Get off. And, Erynn, if you’re reading this down the line, remember: you made the right decision getting off. Don’t get back on. It’s in your personality type: you will get sucked in. Okay… off of that rabbit trail and on to why I got on here to begin with.

Conversation with Isaiah while we were camping:
Me: whatcha doing, Buddy?
Isaiah: watching this beautiful bug.
Me: oh really? Which bug?
Isaiah: <pointing> this one.
Me: oh, uh-huh. That one is called a cockroach.

As my good friend said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


Isaac & grasshopper

Here’s Isaac with his now-dead (though he was sure it was still alive) grasshopper. He wanted to keep it, but I didn’t want him to… mean mom… I should probably let him keep more bugs. Anyway… he explained that Annabelle has a grasshopper catching club and he’d already caught two and had to let them go, so he wanted to keep this one. We compromised with a photo for proof.

20140704-121132-43892279.jpgJoey is still loving to suck his thumb… and he’s added sticking his index finger up his nose. Crazy kid. We may need to break him of his thumb sucking. The skin on his little thumb is getting icky and it doesn’t look healthy. I figure it’s a natural near-instinct for him to suck his thumb and I’m pretty sure he sucked it in utero, so I consider it a generally fine, God-given coping mechanism that he’ll outgrow. I’m not all that concerned. But I’m starting to become concerned. We’ve heard lots of stories of kids’ habits being broken by traumatization. There was a granddad who told his grandson he’d cut his thumb off. There was a mom who got the doctor to say the kid’s thumb would fall off. The most common way we’ve heard is that the kids in school made fun of them until they stopped. My mom painted my thumb with yucky stuff from the pharmacy. While that wasn’t exactly traumatizing, and I don’t think I bear any scars, she said I was mad and her for a while and brought up the “spicy stuff” for years after (I do kinda remember that). We’ve kind of been treating Joey’s habit like any other habit and when we see him sucking it other than bed time, we (sometimes) just ask him to stop and praise him when he does. Maybe that’ll work. We’ll see…

Okay… I have several other things I’m hoping to chronicle here (museum with friends, camping, Fossil Rim adventure, some daily stuff), but I gotta get off for now. There’s only so long you can procrastinate and call it productive(ish).