Excerpts of Erynn

a blog about… nothing in particular and everything at once

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: Depression,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.

FullSizeRender-4

… 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.

Hexipuff

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).

 

 

Randomly once more

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 10:35 am

If you keep up with this blog at all (I’m talking to both of you… ahh, wait… I see there’s just one here now. Thanks for your support Mom! Love you), you’re already aware that this space is for me to put down… whatever. There are soapboxes and memories, recipes and me telling people what to do suggestions. Being an extrovert, things seem better shared. Everything is better with a friend. So this blog space is sort of a two-fer. I get a place that I can’t lose to put down things I care about AND I get to pretend I’m sharing thoughts with people who care enough to look here in my corner of the cyber world.

One thing it isn’t: a priority. There’s a lot going on over here and, honestly, I’m in over my head. You know those juggling guys who start with three balls then add a fourth, fifth, sixth… until finally all the balls come tumbling down. That’s me. The balls haven’t fallen yet… but I think I’ve learned to stop adding balls. That’s progress, right?

This next week I’ll be away from my family for an entire week. It’s the longest I’m ever really gone, but it is an annual trip. This will be my fourth time to participate in the Future Teachers Training Camp. It’s a ton of fun, lots of seriousness, little sleep and loads of Bible. I love it because it’s one of the few things I do where I can see actual progress, actual fruit. The girls who are repeats from years before will be different. And in a positive direction, most likely. They wouldn’t be at a camp for future bible class and ladies’ day teachers if they were changing too far in a negative direction. I love to see their faith growing and I love to see that they actually care about God’s word, His church and each other. So I’m excitedly looking forward to my week.

And I love that I don’t have to be concerned about my boys. They’re in great hands with Jeremy. Usually my mother-in-law has come down to help with the boys, but she won’t be able to make it this year. Nevertheless, I have full confidence that my boys will be well cared for, eat real meals and have a lot of fun too. It used to be that I’d come home from this or another trip and the house would actually be cleaner than I left it, but with five littles, I don’t see that happen much anymore. Sometimes it happens though (it did last week), and I’m always in awe. I have a great man and he’s training my sons to be great men. Men who love God and mankind. Men who care in an active way. Men who know how to enjoy life to the fullest (John 10:10). Men who love bacon, swords and water fights of all varieties.

It’s a good life, and as one of my boys says, God blessed us hard.

Here’s a Fourth of July conversation with Jaden, put down here for preservation’s sake…
Jaden to Isaac: Tomorrow is the day we celebrate rockets and fireworks!
Me: well, we celebrate with them, but we’re actually celebrating… what?
Jaden: Hmm… … … Independence!
Me: That’s right. Independence from…?
Jaden: God!
Me: What?! What do you mean?
Jaden: God! Independence from God! God’s the one who gave us independence!

 

A lot of littles April 3, 2014

Filed under: Marriage — Erynn Sprouse @ 6:29 pm
Tags:

This has been on my mind and I thought I’d just put it out there.

Ladies, we have to protect our marriages. None of us are immune to temptations and our husbands aren’t either. We have to build a hedge around us. The only one you can control is you, so start there. Watch out for letting others meet your needs… even if that other person is a woman. Meeting needs is how you build love for one another and if someone else is allowed to do that, at best, you’re missing out on an opportunity to strengthen your marriage… at worst, well… I think we’ve probably all seen marriages that have fallen apart.

And that’s just it.

ramshackleMarriages can fall apart just like houses left untended. What’s the difference between a 100-year-old house with a caved in roof, shutters hanging off and paint so far gone no one knows what color it was to start with… and the 100-year-old mansion that’s the pride of the neighborhood? The difference is care; effort and work has been constantly put into the mansion. The other was left to the elements without anyone to put on a coat of protective paint, a roof when it was needed or even a simple nail when the shutter first fell off. Sure, the dilapidated old place could be restored, but it will take a whole lot more to get it back than it would have if work was put in all along the way… and honestly, when it gets to that point, most would rather just take a bulldozer to it.

tall, proud houseSo take a moment today and do something… anything… even if it’s small… and put a little effort toward your marriage. Send a sweet, romantic or even sexy text. Make a special treat. Fix your hair and dab on some perfume before he comes home. Write a note on the mirror to tell him something you respect about him. Save some energy for (ahem) bedtime. Just pick something and do it. Invest some effort into your marriage, even if you don’t really feel like it, and you just may reap huge dividends.

These are just little things… but, as one of our teachers used to say, a lot of littles makes a lot. Then again, a lot of littles left undone… well, that’s also a lot. So in the words of that great philosopher Nike, “JUST DO IT.”

 

Mexican Lasagna and (totally awesome) Flan February 2, 2014

Filed under: recipes — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:04 pm

To be totally honest, this blog is all about me. It’s by me. It’s for me. It’s the place where I occasionally spill the things that need to get out of my brain, the place where I can keep thoughts I’d like to keep (diaries get lost so easily!), memories I’d like to keep, and… as is the case today… recipes I’d like to keep.

There are a lot of blogs that I occasionally tune into (none that I follow all that regularly). Smockity Frocks is one of those. She is one of the 4 Moms of 35 Kids. I love their stuff! Anyway, she has a mexican lasagna recipe that I’ve made a bunch of times and we all love it. I think my kids may not realize that lasagna is usually an Italian thing, come to think of it. Oh, well. On to the recipe. My version of it. The original (which isn’t much different) is here. Biggest difference: mine is doubled.

Mexican Lasagna Recipe

2 cans refried beans
16 oz. tomato sauce
2 – 3 lbs. ground beef OR 1 lb ground beef plus 1 can black beans (drained)
2 pkgs. taco seasoning mix (McCormick is gluten free)
2 small onions, chopped (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
8 – 12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
corn tortillas (about 12)

Instructions

Brown and drain the ground beef, adding the onions and garlic if desired. Add the black beans (if using) and taco seasoning and prepare according to package instructions (usually add ¾ c. water per lb and cook about 5 minutes). In a small bowl, combine the refried beans and tomato sauce. Spread a little of this in the bottom of a 9”x13” that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray or greased.

Smockity Frocks says to cut the corn tortillas into strips about 1 inch wide. 5 strips works well, and you can cut several tortillas at a time. A pizza cutter is great for this. Add a layer of tortilla strips to the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping the strips. I actually don’t cut the tortillas (see the picture).

photo 1

Smockity says put half the meat mix over the tortilla strips, spreading it out to the edges. Add half the remaining bean/tomato sauce mix, then top it with a layer of cheese. Repeat the layers–tortilla strips, meat, sauce, and cheese. I make 4 layers and put a bit of cheese with each layer. My guys like cheese! Also, since I don’t cut the tortillas, I alternate which corners the whole tortillas go in (there’s a picture again).

photo 5Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Let it stand 5 – 10 minutes before serving and then enjoy! I know you will.

And here’s a great dessert to go with. My mom always made flan for Christmas. I’m not sure where or when the tradition started; I think she just loves it. And I can’t blame her one bit. I love it too. Her recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, but I didn’t have any on hand. I looked up a substitute and here’s the resulting recipe. It was soooo delicious, especially with eggs from our backyard chickens. If you’re not familiar with flan, just make this and then you will be… and you’ll thank me. :)

Rich Baked Flan

2/3 cup sugar
7 eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

First thing to do is to caramelize the sugar (after you preheat the oven to 350 degrees… because that’s what you always do first, right?). If you haven’t done this before, it might sound weird and scary and hard… but it’s not. Seriously. Make sure you keep an eye on it and it’ll be fine. Get out a sauce pan or a skillet. Put the sugar in the skillet and heat on medium heat, stirring frequently (read: almost constantly). At first it’ll do nothing. Then it’ll keep doing nothing. Then it’ll start to clump up. Keep heating and stirring and it will turn into a brown, caramel colored liquid. Pull it off and immediately pour it into an ungreased 1.5 qt casserole and swirl it a bit to make sure it’s even. The sugar is super hot and hardens quickly, so work fast and watch all your digits.

Put all the other ingredients in a blender and whirl it up. Pour it into the bowl with the caramelized sugar and put the whole bowl into a larger pan. Now here’s the hard part. You need to fill the larger pan with at least an inch of hot water. Are you going to put the stack of dishes and cream into the oven and then pour in the hot water (risking a burn while reaching in the oven) OR are you going to fill the pan with water and then try to put the teetering stack of mess-potential into the oven? Personally, I pull the rack out, put the pan/ bowl stack on the rack, fill the pan with water and then carefully push the rack in.

Bake for 50-60 minutes till set. The flan will set more as it cools. My mom always lets it set in the fridge over night. I didn’t have that much time today, so it set for about 3 hours. It wasn’t totally solid… but it was still delicious.