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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