Friday, November 28, 2014

A Very Erskine Christmas: The 2014 Holiday Letter

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas letters from family and friends around the country but we are mixing it up this year and having folks come visit this post instead! 

Welcome and we're so glad to have you :) 

Here is a look at what 2014 was like for the Erskines.

2014 started out pretty rough with a national scandal that rocked Malmstrom.  No one was left unaffected and it was one of the most stressful points in my life.  Despite the insane amount of stress that situation brought on our family, we came out stronger than ever and I relied on my faith in God to carry me through.  I don't know what I would have done without God, Ryan, Brittany, the Sheltons, and so many others who went through this situation.  One of the good things that came out of this was the opportunity to get to know other missileers in a way that we were not able to beforehand.  We truly bonded with our co-workers through the situation.  It was nuts but maybe secretly a blessing.  I also got the opportunity to temporarily work at the base chapel and it was awesome getting to know all of the chapel's staff.  The chaplains are rockstars and I met my first female military chaplain from the Reserves.  God blesses us in so many ways, even in the darkest of times.

Ryan started his teaching career with a summer position at the Boys and Girls Club where he taught young folks throughout the week.  He taught math, science, and English, and also had the opportunity to go on a lot of field trips with some pretty sa-weet t-shirts.  He also got caught up on a ton of children's movies and watched Frozen six times (ask him if he "wants to build a snowman").

I started volunteering with an organization called CASA, otherwise known as Court Appointed Special Advocates.  It's a team of volunteers that advocates for children who are abused and neglected.  Ever since my days in Theta, I have been wanting to actually be a CASA for our chosen philanthropy.  It is so incredibly rewarding and opened my eyes to the importance and desperate need for more GOOD foster parents in our communities.  This opportunity also exposed me to situations that I never pictured myself being in, such as coming up with a Plan B for a child's permanent home situation.  It's such important work and incredibly humbling.  My experience with CASA had me praying throughout the year about fostering and I felt a strong call from God to become a foster parent.  I'm just hoping now that God will see in His way to call Ryan as well.

We celebrated two marriages this summer...all in the same week!  Our wonderful friends Matt and Ashton did a vow renewal in Great Falls and I had the privilege of helping to plan their wedding and reception.  Ashton is my battle buddy and one of my best-friends and I even put together a fun, Girl Scout-inspired bachelorette party for her!  The wedding was gorgeous and we topped off the night with a s'mores bar and dancing.  Ryan and I also made a trip to Glacier National Park for the first time to celebrate in a reception for our friends, Kate and R.J.  It was one of the most beautiful receptions I've ever seen! It was so much fun celebrating with friends throughout the week and a great opportunity for us to see more of this beautiful Big Sky Country.

As summer wrapped up, Ryan started his sophomore year of college at Great Falls- MSU.  His classes are challenging and he also introduced an online science course to his rather full schedule.  This semester had him starting his teacher observations.  As of right now Ryan is still interested in teaching middle school students.

I've continued being a Young Life leader for the local area and I am OBSESSED! I went to camp for the first time this year and it was an amazing experience.  The young women that I had the privilege to work with are so fun, witty, and hilarious.  Being able to share in the wonderful and awe-inspiring power of a relationship with God was one of the best experiences I've ever had.  Our area leader, Katie, also asked me to speak about my experiences at our annual Young Life banquet.  It was a very cool opportunity to speak in front of such a large group of folks about why I love Young Life.

Speaking of Katie, a group of us gals decided to bless our wonderful friend with a couple's co-ed baby shower as she and her husband are expecting their first baby in December.  Y'all know me and I was thrilled to put together an UP! themed baby shower with some of my closest friends.  It was my first time planning a baby shower and I may be hooked!  Whenever Ryan and I are blessed with a baby, we definitely want a co-ed shower. It was TOO MUCH fun! =]

Last week Katie and Greg honored me by asking me to be the Lady Godparent (Godmother) ;) to their baby girl Elenore.  Of course I said YES! I cannot wait to welcome that beautiful spirit into the world :)

Not long after I promoted to 1st Lieutenant, I completed my upgrade sequence to become a missile combat crew commander! It was a very exciting experience and my awesome deputy and I received an EQ rating.  To put that into perspective, I never in my wildest of missile dreams thought I could get an EQ and I did.  It's an incredibly high rating and rare...and totally awesome.  I couldn't have done it without my kick-ass deputy Alex and all of the commanders who taught and trained me.

Holly and Blu have been the best dogs and we love them so much.  I crafted some bellybands for him as pseudo diapers. We've even been purchasing baby diapers to create an additional liner.  Who woulda thought we'd be buying diapers before babies...sheesh.  We're hoping that additional testing throughout the year will come up with more conclusive results.

Whewww and that was basically 2014! We are so thrilled for 2015 and who knows, maybe there will be a new addition to the Erskines?  Here's hoping that God will continue to bless our little family.

Much Love and Christmas Blessing,
Kim, Ryan, Holly, & Blu

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Karissa's Birthday Gift Ideas

Karissa's Birthday Ideas

My wonderful friend Karissa has a birthday coming up and we jokingly said that I would put together a collage of birthday gift ideas for her but with Polyvore, it was totally possible and a lot of fun! So here is what I chose for Karissa's "birthday gift idea" list.

1// Modcloth dresses in a scarlet red and a velvet emerald green.
I think Karissa would look AMAZEBALLS in these two dresses plus one is more subdued and sophisticated and the other is bold yet classic.  They are two very mature looks that are great for women our age.  We're not that old but I'm also not running around showing my mid-riff.

2// Hello Merch- I'm So Tired Tee
Grad school + work + being engaged is well, pretty exhausting and I thought this humorous t-shirt is perfect for grocery run days and lounging around.

3// Book Check out Tee
I have a feeling that Karissa might enjoy the phrase, "I live for books" and this library checkout tee is perfect for any bibliophile.

4//Tan Utility Coat
This screams grad school function.  It's stylish but versatile to work with many seasons and many outfits. 

5// Leopard flats and mint green pumps
I know Karissa is a busy lady so here are two office styled shoes, one for getting around quickly yet fashionably and the other is a fun, pastel color for showing off a great outfit.

6// Library Card Tote
A tote and a perfect! This is great for carrying around a wallet, a waterbottle, and a great read.

7//Map and Nautical Scarf
Sometimes all you need to spruce up an outfit is to throw on a scarf and this is fun, fashionable, and an easy conversation starter..."I just love that scarf."

8//Vows Journals
With Karissa recently becoming engaged, these journals are perfect for her and Andrew to start writing sweet notes or a set of sentimental vows to one another.

9//Greeting Card Pack
These cards are so fun and fit so many different needs! With the variety, it'll be easy for Karissa to pick one up for any occasion.

10//What I Love About You Journal
I just love this kind of stuff and it's great to have around to remember the reasons you're getting married behind the hustle and bustle of wedding prep.

11//High-Five Notepad
It's easy to get lost during a busy work day, but this notepad is perfect for "high-fiving" your friends, family, co-workers and anyone else who needs a bit of encouragement or a compliment for the day.

12//Deep Tea Diver
Now I don't really drink coffee but I love tea and this tea steeper is great! Have a deep sea adventure, even while sitting at your desk or in the office.

I chose all of these because they provide a lot of great insight and I believe that we can learn a lot from one another by the stories that we share.  Love em and I especially recommend The Happiness Project. It's a great tool to re-focus your energy when you feel your spirit being bogged down.

14// Mickey Mouse Ears from House of Mouse
House of Mouse ears are so cute and customizable! We all love a little Disney magic in our lives and with these custom ears, you can combine childhood whimsy with fashion.

15//Bath and Body Works Car Portable and Scent Portable
Bath and Body Works has some really darling car portables.  They're great for adding a seasonal scent to your daily commute.  I highly recommend Flannel which is like having Mr. Darcy sitting in your passenger seat.

16//Travel Cards
These little prompts are a perfect way to break up the monotony of your everyday.  The prompts give you small, easy-to-complete "travel" challenges like taking a walk with your favorite book.

17//Tote Bags
I chose two tote bags because one is more for the fall season mixed with professionalism and the other reminds me of a fun, carefree "burning man" summer bag.  Both are big and fantastic! I imagine Karissa filing away homework assignments and future casework in them :)

18//Build-a-Bear Olaf
I have no clue if Karissa likes Build-a-Bear or not or if she likes Frozen but I do so it's on here ;) It's nice to take a break from adult responsibilities and no one has a greater message than sweet Olaf.  Build-a-Bear has an opportunity to make your own and make a wish on a heart before he comes to life :)

19//Wifey Necklace
I SO WANT THIS NECKLACE and I think this would be darling for Karissa to wear during her engagement or after she gets married.

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
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Monday, October 27, 2014

We Can Do Hard Things

The famous blogger and writer Glennon says that we can do hard things and in this moment, it has been a phrase that I use for strength. Marriage is pretty darn hard. I've written about it and talked in great depth about this topic. I've been wanting and praying to foster and I don't think it will be now. It's been really hard on me. I'm trying to be understanding and aware of Ryan's perspective in the situation but it's tough on me. So today I put away the things I got for fostering. It's better to put away the playpen and bumbo from our living room and put the baby clothes in the closet. I would appreciate prayers. Thanks y'all.

Sunday, October 26, 2014





1. She feeds me when I'm hungry and even when I'm not hungry.  I think she personifies Matthew 25:35 very well ;)

2. She is incredibly loyal.


4. She is an amazing officer.

5. She taught me the Yes Lord song at Field Training and that was one of the first times (and first people) to help rekindle my real relationship with the Lord.

6. We had the honor and privilege of having her as a roomie in two different states (three if we want to count Mississippi).

7. She loves Holly and Blu.

8. She goes along with all of my crazy ideas and doesn't question them.

9. She just gets it when Ryan and I are having a tough time or got into a fight. She never digs for more information, she's simply there.

10. She's incredibly self-less.  So much so that sometimes I feel that I need to be her non-existent selfish side ;)

11. She loves her family so much! (I love em, too) ;)

12. She is the best shoulder to cry on and knows how to cheer me up...normally with food ;)

13. Her affinity for Diet Coke usually enables my affinity for Coke and thus we make drive-thru stops.

14. Our cheese curd stops before Young Life meetings.

15. That we're Young Life leaders together (da best times evaaaa).

16. She is an extreme movie buff, which is helpful for all and any games involving movie plots and titles.  She basically kicks ass at it.

17. Her relationship with her boyfriend. I love them together :)

18. Her bravery and courage in knowing what she deserves.

19. Her love for Disney World and 'arry Pottah (Harry Potter in a British accent because I got excited while typing this).

20. She knows that I don't really like beer, so whenever she makes beer runs, she gets me an alternative.

21. Our retail therapy trips to Target.

22. How she never puts a price on friendship.  She is more than willing to do anything for her friends.

23. Her willingness to dress up to any and all themed events that we do together.

24. Our shared love over men with fantastic beards.

25. Another shared love: Hershey Pies from Burger King.

26. How she makes everyone around her want to be a better person.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Keeping It Real: The Difficulties and Sins Within My Relationship

I really just want to call this "airing my dirty laundry" but I feel that in today's picture perfect, social-media driven world, it's important to be honest when we can be.  I tell my Young Life girls all of the time that what they see on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are often times pictures that have been thought out in great detail and topped off with a filter.  It's a high-lights reel of our life...just a glimpse of it without the gruesome stuff that reality brings.

So this is me, being honest with all of you.  When I say all of you, I'm probably actually talking to my mom, some friends back home who keep up with my blog, and then some of my Air Force friends.  But this is it.  This is what keeping it real is all about.

f o s t e r i n g

Before I got married, I never really saw myself fostering. I definitely felt compelled to adopt because it's important to me and I believe that families have the potential to impact the outcome of our world.  A family is so crucial to helping a child prosper in life and I know that I can give a child a good home.  However, I never thought to foster but then I became a CASA and I started to think more about the idea.  Ever since I became one earlier this year, it's been something I've prayed about and thought about in great detail.  About a month ago, I felt that God was telling me that I needed to foster and I have a really strong faith. It may sound weird to you, the reader, but for me it is an important aspect of my faith.  So I was like okay God, I'll talk to Ryan about it and see where we're at.  Ryan wants to foster and adopt but he definitely does not feel the same calling that I feel right now.  This is something he wants to do in the future and I cannot explain how conflicted I feel about that.  I feel called right now and I know that I will do this at any point in my life but I feel so pulled to to do this right now and it's really difficult that we're not on the same page.  It's also difficult because as soon as I felt called, I started discount shopping for baby things.  I got screaming good deals on so much stuff.  Big stuff, like a crib, strollers, car seats, you name it and I got it.  It was all a very exciting process and I even sold my old Cricut to fund some of the furniture (again I got really good in everything for under $140).

That's not everything I got but one of our rooms is filled with baby things and it's quite fun.  However, with Ryan's reluctance to foster, they're just reminders of conflicts within our marriage. Instead of fostering Ryan wants us to try for a baby in January...which brings me to the next topic.

b a b i e s

You may have read the post Before You're Expecting and know how badly I want to have a baby.  Except now that I feel called to foster, something just doesn't feel right about having a biological baby right now.  I'm also kind of mad because I feel like my love for children and so badly wanting to have a baby is kind of being used as leverage in our situation.  I know Ryan is excited about the future prospect about trying to have a baby in the new year, except...I'm not.  I know that there is a strong likelihood that I'll change my mind and because of that I've still been taking prenatals because there's no way I'm risking my baby's safety because I'm indecisive.  I just want to be a mom on my own terms.  I also want to make sure that when I'm pregnant, that I'm absolutely, 100% thrilled.  I want to enjoy the experience as much as I can.  So I'm asking for prayers on guidance, clarity, and reassurance.

e d u c a t i o n

One of my biggest sins is how much I wish I could sometimes change my husband.  I want to be supportive and nurturing but sometimes I'm just angry.  Ryan has earned the right to be a full time student but when I was a full time student, I worked several jobs and would take 18 credits a semester. I think what is really difficult in our situation now is that back in college, I had very little sympathy for my peers who didn't work and now that's my husband.  I also work now and am about to wrap up my Master's Degree.  I love working and accomplishing my goals at the same time. I also have a really difficult time understanding the perspective of those who need to focus solely on their education.  I believe that everyone has the right to focus solely on their education, I just never had that experience and I legitimately cannot relate.

v a c a t i o n // t i m e

So that ultimately trickles into other areas. For example, I haven't been home in forever and flying out of this town is so expensive.  Basically I could fly from Wisconsin to California for a cheaper price than what it costs to fly into Montana.  It completely baffles my mind as to how this is possible.  But with that said, it's hard to not go home or go on vacations.  I desperately need a vacation and not in the state of Montana.  For those who know me really well, Christmas is a BIG deal to me and so not going home (again) is going to be another source of contention this year (again).

I recently got really mad at Ryan about this topic and I know it's not completely his fault.  Getting leave in my careerfield is very tricky, especially around the holidays.  Every month leading into the time where we could start asking, I made sure Ryan understood this.  I even went as far as looking up his school schedule before he even knew it so that he would be able to know when he had finals and when we could go.  Dates were never picked and the time to put in leave passed.  I am still irritated over this.
f i n a n c e s
I'm also not the best with money.  Ryan is significantly better at being fiscally responsible and budgeting for our family.  However, we also prioritize things differently.  With my job, I know that I need to get certain things done ahead of time.  If I don't, I will miss out an entire holiday season.  That's why I start Halloween decorations at the end of August and Christmas pictures are taken on Sweetest Day in October.  It just helps everything work out.  However, I'm also the partner in our relationship that cares more about that stuff as well.  So it makes it difficult when budgeting for certain things because ultimately the argument can lean towards, "this is something that is a want not a need."  It's also difficult when my allowance (yes we have monetary allowances) goes towards crafting for our home and all of a sudden things come up like having to make a food dish for an event. It's so stressful to have surprise things come up and I'm trying to be better about budgeting for those things but it is hard.  I've also had to prioritize certain things ahead of time and it is so hard to pass up a sale. I have a note on my phone that details my wish list items and my wish list even has the practical items like underwear.  It totally sucks when you go to Target and there's a sale on something but you have to prioritize something else. My money situation and how I handle it is so much different than what it was in college. I would reward myself by going to Sephora, Forever21, and H&M.  As a "real grown-up" the most recent clothing purchase I made was new underwear because I needed it.  Womp womp.

I also think it's interesting, when comparing the college versus now budgeting, how much I need to include my partner in decision making.  In college, I traveled all of the time for weddings, to visit friends, to go home, and to attend conferences.  I haven't done any of that in so long and today I was thinking about what it would take for me to go to a blogging conference.  I would have to budget for the tickets for the event, the plane ticket, hotel, food, etc. but I would also have to see if Ryan is cool with it, who would watch the dogs, etc.  A big problem with us is that we haven't gone home in a long time so going home is a top priority. With us not going home for the holidays, any other vacations are basically X'd out.
f r i e n d s
Building relationships and memories is really important to me.  I know it's important to Ryan but I don't think it's quite on the same level.  For people who I am really close with, I would do anything for them.  I would like to think of myself as incredibly loyal.  You cannot put a price on the value of these friendships to me.  However, that can be a problem because Ryan doesn't see things the way that I do sometimes.  I'm busy and gone a lot and for me, I think it would be easier for him to understand this if he was just as busy.  But instead, he doesn't understand why I don't like to stay home or why I'm so willing to help out a friend at a minute's notice.  That's just the way that I'm built.  I also really hate staying at home, unless it's after dinner.  I get bored very easily and I like to use my free time to contribute to society.  That's just how my brain works and I think it's so crazy that God put two completely different people together.
f i n i s h i n g // t h o u g h t s

That my friends is everything.  Before I got married, every "real grown-up" in my life told me it was hard but they never fully explained why and I think it's because of everything I've said above. It's hard to talk about and no one wants to be the source of blame or to blame their significant other.  Marriage is just super hard all around.  There are so many issues and scenarios that you cannot possible dream up or explain until you go through it.  My problems may not be the same as yours and you may have a set of problems and issues in your relationship that I cannot even fathom.  However, I think it's so important to share because it reminds people that this is hard and it was never meant to be a fairy tale or easy process.  I'm still trying to ingrain that into my head - marriage is not a fairy tale.  If yours is, that is awesome but mine is 100% hard work...blood, sweat, and tears all the way.  The good thing is that I know why God put me and Ryan together.  I think it's really cool to have an understanding of that.  Our marriage breaks us down, but also builds us back up and we don't have to do it alone.  We have a friend for life to help and we'll both grow in the process.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Very Erskine Christmas: Sweetest Day Photoshoot

One of my favorite traditions that our lovely little family does is celebrate Sweetest Day. Yes it exists...just like Santa. Which is fitting because every Sweetest Day we do a tripod family photoshoot.  You can check out last year's here.

This year, I wanted it to be like a really chaotic Christmas morning and was especially inspired by this quote:

Yes! I'm going to miss being around kids and babies this year for Christmas :'(


We made a Christmas morning fort!


I took our kitchen table chairs (which are single seaters and two booth styles) and used them to prop up a comforter that had been hanging up to dry and a quilt made by my friend Lisa.

I then decorated the ever livin' poop outta it.


One of the best parts is that Holly would sneakily weave herself through the back part of the fort to partake in more than half of the pictures.

We've still got to pick out our favorite for our Christmas card! Which ones do you like?

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
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Monday, September 8, 2014

He Must Increase But I Must Decrease

I saw this video a half hour ago...

and it floored me.

I cried with joy.

I cried with happiness.

I simply cried for this sweet soul.

It filled me with an abundance of grace, appreciation, and humility.

It reminded me of the usual things that one becomes thankful for when they see these types of things.

It forces you to pause and reflect.

I thank God for my life.

I thank God for my amazing family.

I want to thank my parents for working so incredibly hard to see my dreams come true.

It also reminded me of how badly I want to adopt and how I can't wait to be a mom.

I was going to ask for prayers for my evaluation but after I saw that little video...

it put some things into perspective.

My worries and my stresses in life are so insignificant.

It will work out.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt it's worth
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine

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Sunday, August 31, 2014


Y'all I am so excited and Amazon is such a tease.

Have you ever heard of a journaling Bible?  I had, but the only journaling Bibles I had seen involved simply writing in the margins and that's something I already do.  It wasn't all that exciting.

Then I realized folks were actually creating art in the margins of their Bibles with how hymns or verses moved them.

It's amazing.

Wha-bam! There you have it.

A journaling Bible has major room in the margins aka a notetaker's dream but not only is there room for notes but you can create masterpieces in those margins.  

I first discovered this through Valerie Wiener's Instagram:

Photo: Each of our thorns are different but our God is the same, when you feel that thorn..Pray. Give Him control and let him Work the way He does. 
Also, in case you missed it, there's a new blog post up on answering all of your #journalingbible questions and showing you some new pictures...
#ValerieDoodlestheBible #doodletheword #lettering #scripture #jesus
Photo Credit Valerie Wieners Art
 Isn't that beautiful?

She led me to see other folks' Instagrams and Facebook feeds.

Photo Credit Shanna Noel

She is currently giving away a copy of :

Check out Shanna's blog to enter the giveaway, otherwise you can find Writing in the Margins at Amazon.

If you haven't seen my Instagram feed lately, I've been cramming it with giveaways. I apologize in advance and I promise to beautify it in the very near future :) I just really want to start the Erskine baby stock right this minute...I can't help it :P

Back to the Journaling Bible!

I also joined a Facebook Journaling Bible group which is filled to the brim with beautiful inspiration.

I joined and it felt like God was blessing me as soon as I hit that "join" button.
This picture was posted by the group moderator (and awesome artist) Shanna Noel shortly after I became a member of the group.  
The #travelingbible will basically be a gorgeous, inspiring Bible that will be carried across the globe.  

My favorite book in the Bible is Hebrews and I cannot wait to add some art in those margins :)

Speaking of which, as soon as I saw Valerie's gorgeous newsfeed filling with colorful margins, I did a total impulse buy and bought one.  It got lost in the mail (THE HORROR) but Amazon, being amazing as always, quickly resent a new one.  I'll hopefully have it this Tuesday and it will be perfect timing for my upgrade sequence to a crew commander.  Please pray over me and send me well wishes!

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
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