My Motherhood (and Yours)

by Erica Layne on April 14, 2014

It’s the way Chase says “super” all the time but pronounces it “shooper.” It’s how—in his most serious voice—he says, “I’m shooper fast.” Then a moment later, as if it has honestly never occurred to him before (and believe me, it has): “I’m fast as Flash!”

my motherhood It’s the way Trenton still pronounces finger as “singer,” which always instantly reminds me that he isn’t as old as I sometimes think he is.

At five years old, the so-cute-I-could-eat-you-up moments seem to be coming less often, now that he is a full-on kid instead of a toddler or a baby. But when he says “singer” instead of finger or surprises me by tucking his lanky limbs into me when he’s upset? That’s when I remember how young five really is.

My motherhood is in the way the baby scrunches her nose or flaps her little wings when she’s happy. It’s the way she looks at me for a reaction when she’s hurt but hasn’t yet decided if she wants to bother with the water works.

It’s when Trenton tells me that the bad guys are all probably having fun in hell because they’re “hanging out together.” :)

It’s the fact that Chase came to us yesterday morning with BOTH his church pants and his shirt on backwards. (How you get zipper-front pants on backwards I do not know.)

It’s the awkward in-between stage where I can’t tell if Quinn needs one nap or two, and she doesn’t seem terribly happy about either option.

It’s the many “cozy homes” the boys build with blankets and pillows and the way Quinn beelines for her favorite blankie whenever she sees it piled on.

It’s me being relieved that it is finally spring break because it means we don’t have to leave the house four times a day!

It’s the way the boys burst into smiles at Quinn (and the way she reciprocates) whenever they see each other after even the shortest absence.

As simple as it is, this is my motherhood. I only get to do it once.

Just for fun—What are some of the details that paint your motherhood at this stage?

Linked up with Works for Me Wednesday


Marriage Diaries: The Weight of Our Vows

by Erica Layne on April 9, 2014

I hope you’ll give a warm welcome to Cari from Dugans in Cahoots today! I first came across her blog through a post that lit social media up: We can’t be friends. Since then, I’ve been touched by many others she has written (especially this one), and I’m so happy to have her be a part of the Marriage Diaries!

For better or worse
In sickness and health
For richer or poorer
In good times and bad…

As a young bride, walking down the aisle, the only person I saw was Michael. I was so excited to begin our life together. I knew he was the one I wanted to be with. The one I wanted to love until I was old and grey. Without a doubt I was certain that our life would be wonderful together.

And it has been. Truly. However, I was completely naive to the realities of life that could potentially shake even the strongest of marriages. Did I really ponder what our vows to each other REALLY meant before our wedding day? Maybe, but I couldn’t possibly understand the weight of them.

Our first months married were spent in a small but cute basement apartment. For gas and food all we had was $80 a week. We had nothing but we had each other. I still look back at that time in our life as a time when life was beautiful. Life was rich. We were young, a little bit reckless and very happy. For Michael, though, it was a hard year. He wanted to provide well, and it was difficult for him not to have consistent work. He knew that my admiration, love and respect for him wasn’t dependent on the number displayed on his paycheck, but he still cared. I can’t remember how many times we over drafted our bank account back then. But I do remember evenings laying on the back porch looking at the stars, rice and beans eaten by candle light and many afternoons wasted at Starbucks playing UNO. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to be Mrs. Dugan. I still feel that way. Whenever money gets tight now, I think to myself, we survived it then, and we will again.

…for richer or poorer

Nine months after we were married, we found out we were pregnant with our Bella. What should have been a happy time was dimmed by the fact that I was incredibly sick. I couldn’t eat. All I wanted to do was sleep. It was extremely difficult to complete even the smallest of tasks. I lost so much weight that it was ghastly. It was not how I imagined pregnancy to be like. Eventually the sickness subsided but throughout that whole time Michael was my rock . He came to every one of my prenatal appointments . He cooked for me. Cleaned for me. Held my hair back as I vomited for the millionth time and held me as I cried. As each of my pregnancies turned out to be much worse than the last, he was there. With my youngest daughter I was so sick that I was in and out of the hospital. I felt like I was wasting away. Eventually the hospital gave me a continuous iv and medicine that I could self administer at home . He loved me throughout that entire time. There were days where I didn’t have energy to dress myself or even brush my hair. He did all those things and more for me. I always knew Michael loved me but it was during that time that his love was made concrete. I could visibly see it. I could feel it in a way that I couldn’t before.

…in sickness and in health

I often say that Michael and I grew up together. We were so young. We barely even knew each other, at least not the way we do today, twelve years later. Those years in between have been filled with so much change, growth, transitions and life. You can imagine what these walls would whisper about us if they could. We have had our share of slammed doors and angry words. Words that I want to erase but can’t. Michael has seen me at my very worst. My angriest. He has witnessed my most selfish and unloving of sides. But if you asked him he would say that he loves me more today than he has ever before. How? I believe him, but it still intrigues me every time he says that. I never thought it was truly possible to know a person so completely, so intimately but still love them despite their short comings. But then again I shouldn’t be so surprised, Michael is far from perfect but I do love him on his best day and on his worse. Nothing can change how I feel for him.

…for better or for worse

Last fall we ran into some unexpected financial challenges. It was the kind of situation that snuck up and took us by surprise. Michael ( being amazing ) went and got a second job. Meaning he was now gone for 70-80 hours a week. He was exhausted. When he was home I was out shooting weddings and sessions. We hardly saw each other and mostly communicated through email and text messages. It was lonely and tiring. Through it all we managed to completely love each other. I took over all the yard work so he wouldn’t have any additional chores on his plate. He, rather than sleeping or relaxing the rare times he was home, made dinner and took over caring for the kids so I could work . We were on survival mode but the two of us ventured to lighten each other’s loads. I think it was then that I learned that it is possible to still love even when we are on the brink of ourselves. Because we were committed to serving each other.

…in good times and bad

I know now that my love for Michael will be tested. Again and again and again. Some seasons more than others. But I am no longer surprised when it happens. Those vows that were said so many years ago have become real to us over the years. I hold onto them as dearly as I hold on to my marriage, to my family, to my Michael.

For better or worse
In sickness and health
For richer or poorer
In good times and bad…

Cari Dugan is a lifestyle photographer and writer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She writes candidly about everyday life and experiences of being a wife and a mother on her blog Dugans in Cahoots. Her husband, three children, and chocolate lab make life what it is—A Beautiful Mess. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Linked up with the Pin-It Party, Works for Me Wednesdayand Grace at Home


How to Be a Mom and a Neat Freak at the Same Time

by Erica Layne on April 7, 2014

Disclaimer: I don’t know that I’d actually call myself a neat freak. My bathrooms go longer in between cleanings than I’d like, and I don’t even remember the last time I looked closely at the inside of the stove. (It’s less painful if you don’t look too closely…)

How to Be a Mom and a Neat Freak at the Same Time BUT clutter makes my eye twitch. (It doesn’t bother me for a second when I’m in your house. But in mine? THE EYE.)

As agitating as it is that my boys leave toothpaste lining the sink like it’s artwork, what really drives me crazy is the stuff. The millions of worksheets that come home from kindergarten. The scraps of paper from an impromptu (and unfinished) craft.

The toys.

If you, too, have a low tolerance for clutter, follow me over to Haven Help Us, a fantastic blog for moms, where I’m sharing eight tips on how to appease your inner neat freak in the midst of raising children. (Easier said than done, right??)


Work is Love Made Visible

by Erica Layne on April 4, 2014

I referenced this quote in Tuesday’s post, For the Days When You Lose, and since it has been on my mind all week, I put together this little graphic. Such wise words. You’re doing a great work, ladies!

We’ve got family coming into town, so we’re sure to have some beautiful adventures outdoors this weekend. I hope you all have a great weekend too! Thank you so much for reading this week!

Linked up with the Pin-It Party


The Marriage Diaries | Round Two | And a Linkup

April 2, 2014
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It’s not a good sign when you’re upset with your husband IN YOUR DREAMS, I wrote in a journal 18 months ago. I’m not even mad at him in real life!  I flipped to the previous page of that journal and noticed this: He worked until 2:30am Monday night. He was out of town last night, […]

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10 Rules for When Your Wife Becomes a Mom

April 1, 2014
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I had forty weeks to transition into being a mom. At the first sound of that steady woosh woosh, the thump of a flat tire that was our son’s heartbeat, my heart got in sync with his.   My husband, on the other hand, didn’t experience the reassuring taps of a baby who was running […]

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For the Days When You Lose

April 1, 2014
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Do you know those days when—although nothing went “wrong”—you still feel like you lost? Failed. Came up short. For me, those days look like every other day—school drop-offs and pick-ups, a handful of bottles for the baby, a round of Candyland in the afternoon, the bedtime rush. I may have taken a tone with the kids […]

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