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It’s that time again!  Back to School otherwise known as Adult Christmas.

See ya, Champs.  Get out.  Hit the sidewalk your teachers are waiting and I’m five seconds from starting my Party.

I’ve given you the big main points for the past two years.  I’m not sure there’s anything else I could add to those lists.  You don’t have a tolerance for my preaches anyways.  The main points boiled down:

  • Be kind.
  • Ask questions.
  • We’ve got your back.
  • Doodle.  Read.  Try not to talk.
  • Be you.  Always be you.
  • Stand up for those who can’t.
  • Be kind.

You got it?  Those are the main points you should always live by even when you leave the classroom.  Remember these and your life could be easier.

But you know I have a hard time not preaching.  Ask your father.  So do me a favor and tolerate these Back to School basics?

  • Clean out your bookbag at the end of the day.  I’m so sick of dealing with a week (two weeks worth of papers).
  • Do your best with homework and actually turn it in (Becks, I’m looking at you!)
  • Make good lunch choices when you buy or when you pack your own lunch (That’s right.  Ma’s done packing).  And for the love of all that is holy in this house, take your uneaten food out and put it in the trash!  I get it.  You don’t always eat your lunch, but finding two moldy sandwiches from last year really reflects poorly on my parenting.  I’ll take some heat on this one…  But just a little bit of heat because you’re old enough to find a trash can.  Reread the first point, please.
  • Get dressed for school prior to coming down in the morning.  Put on new shorts each day, please.  And feel free to wear shorts even when it’s snowing.  I’m not fighting you this year.  Your legs.  Your comfort, kid.
  • But always wear underwear.  You shouldn’t go commando at school.  You never know…
  • Don’t wait until the night before to tell me about a big project.  If you tell me as soon as you get the info, we’ll probably still wait to start until the night before it’s due.  We procrastinate.  But if you don’t tell me, I’ll get upset with you.  Do tell me with advance notice and I’ll get upset with myself.  Plus it’s your project.  How am I supposed to know something’s due?!
  • Using your slang…  Please avoid the school’s Drama Bombs.  It’s always drama and never goes in anyone’s favor.  Never.
  • There’s some new kids in each of your grades.   Please welcome them.  Make them feel included.  It’s good karma because one day you might be the new kid.  Plus it’s really nice to be kind to someone who might be feeling afraid and/or lonely.
  • You need to read something every day, Becks!  How about we make this year the year you fall in love with reading?  Humor me and say, “yes”.
  • Be a good example, Coop.  You’re part of the oldest class now.  Little ones will look up to you.  Be kind to them because next year you’ll be part of the youngest class.  It’s good karma, Kid.
  • Reread the above Main Points and really try to live by them.

Now go kill it, Boys.  The year is yours!

I can’t wait to hear about your first day, but right now you’ve got a desk to find and friends to greet.

And I’ve got a party to start!


Your very happy Mom


Want my mug?  I know you do…  Visit Brim Papery’s Etsy store on August 29 at 2 p.m. EST.

If you tell me that you’ve used a website to diagnose yourself, I’ll tell you how insane you are.  No punches.  You might be sick with something else, but Dr. Erika will definitely write you a script for Bat Shit Crazy pills.  I know this because I’m so smart

So smart that I’ve diagnosed myself.  No website necessary.

I don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I suffer from the transition to every season.  Not the entire season, it’s only the transition period.  February is really bad because who fucking likes February into Spring?  Who?  No one.  So I openly wallow in my depression.  People understand this depression and they cut me slack.  But I also get it when Spring flips to Summer and when Summer flips to Fall.  And Fall to Winter.

The “Summer to Fall” flip feels extra icky.  You’re supposed to love Summer so there’s guilt in transition.  Guilt makes everything worse.  And I crave Fall.  I can wear hoodies every single day.  I don’t have to worry about my leg stubble.  I enjoy college football.  I can drink coffee at 3 p.m. because it’s chilly.  And SCHOOL IS IN SESSION.  I should love this transition.  But I still suffer.

Why do I suffer when my favorite season is five sniffs away from pumpkin spice*?  Here’s five reasons I know I am suffering:

  • School isn’t in, but it’s so close that Target’s Back-to-School section is empty.  It mocks me and I’m angry.  I see the teachers’ cars in the parking lot.  Ring the bell already, Folks!  Mama needs her house back.  Mama needs her schedule.  We all do.  But really, it’s just me.  I need it.
  • My razor (fine, Mark’s) is dull and I don’t feel like replacing it for a few more leg strokes.
  • I only want to wear pants with elastic.  I bemoan the fact that I need to get dressed and apply make-up when the night before I bitched and was depressed about the fact that I never need to shower and apply make-up (yes, even though I’m not a huge make-up person).  My complicated side is in full effect…
  • I’m so tired of being uninterested in everything that brings me joy.  The worst part about having this sickness is that it robs me of my creativity.  I don’t want to look at my camera.  It taunts me.  I can’t stand my sewing machine.  Write?  Why would I?  Everything has been said already.
  • I look at at my knitting needles for happiness.  I start buying patterns and worse yet… I buy yarn for projects.  I’ve tossed enough 1/2130th of a project each Fall (after I’ve accepted the transition sadness) to realize this is a problem.

But I’m coming out of it.  I can feel it.  Proof?

  • I took one picture this past weekend while we camped.  I asked them to wait as I dug out my big camera.  But that one picture was a big deal to me.  I controlled the shutter.
  • I organized my photos and got them ready to be printed.  And I will add insert them into a yearly album.
  • I cleaned out my cabinets.  It’s like Seasonal nesting.  Each season a closet gets attacked.  This year it was the kitchen.  My oldest trash worthy item?  Lawry’s from 2010.  I hate Lawry’s so this tiny bottle mocked me.  But I showed it.  Tossed him in the garbage surround by raw chicken skin.  In four days, it will be covered in maggots.  Fuck you, Lawry’s.
  • I start rereading books that reminds me Art is important.  This time it’s Art and Fear.  If you haven’t read it, shame on you.  Pick it up.
  • I start cooking most nights for the family.  I need to fill my freezer even though I have plenty of time to cook fresh meals every night.  I got an Instant Pot and I want to make-out with it behind the bleachers.  My stove has been shoved aside for a hotter model.
  • I get giddy around the blank notebooks.  I smell sharpened pencils.  I want to snuggle with the unviolated pink erasers.  I plan on hugging the boys’ new teachers.  I’m fantasizing about school lunch recipes that I’ll never make.  I’m beyond ready for Back-to-School.
  • I’m writing this post.  A week ago I would have rather laid on my couch for hours rather than look at my laptop.  I’ve almost asked my Facebook readers for weeks, “What could I write about?”  But then I knew I would have to write.  I didn’t want to write.  So I kept my mouth shut.  Yesterday I wrote something.

So do I have SAD?  Nope.  I have Seasonal Transition Disorder.  I have STD.

Yes, it’s very unfortunate.  But I’m a strong woman, Folks.

Folks, I will survive this STD.  I do every single year.  My STD doesn’t define me. **

* I do hate pumpkin spice.  They put that fake scent in everything.  There has to be pumpkin spice dental dams at this point.  And that makes me want to vomit.

** I might not be thinking straight…



  • Tracey Morris - Not kidding…was just talking about this with my friend yesterday. She reminded me that every “inbetween seasons” I am sad and low and totally sluggish. I feel horrible about everything. I did not know that this was a real thing, like diagnosible. I just thought it was me. I have come to realize over the last year or so that I struggle with transitions. They are hard for me EVEN THOUGH I’m actually looking forward to the change. But I could never understand why I’d feel so crappy in the inbetween if I actually wanted Fall to be here, or Summer, etc. Haven’t been checking in on blogs for months and somehow came to Flickr (which I haven’t been on in ages) and saw your name there and realized I hadn’t visited your blog in a long time either. So I came over to check in. Here I am, blown away at how life brings you to places you need to be in at just the right moment. I’m sitting here in my pj’s unable to get up and go for that walk I know I should take, or take a shower, feeling crappy and now I’m off to go WebMD everything you just wrote about. Thanks for being here, E.August 21, 2015 – 6:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Tracey Morris - Also…can’t wait to tell my husband I have a STD.August 21, 2015 – 6:37 pmReplyCancel

My births have all been between a Mom and a Dad.  Sometimes there’s a sibling.  Sometimes there’s a lot of siblings.  Most have been at home, but some are in a hospital.  Minor differences… But it’s always filled with joy and love when the baby is placed in the arms of the family.

My last birth was different.  There was a Dad, an Aunt and a surrogate.  Yes, it was pretty different from my other births.  But it was also very similar because it ended just like my others birth.  It ended with love and joy.

David always wanted a family, so he found a surrogate.  She reached out to me to about possibly documenting the birth and passed along my information to David.  His email confirming the photography is still my sweetest “Yes” I’ve ever received.  He said it was going to be a dream to finally be with his children and he’d love the day documented.

I arrived at the hospital and Holly was in labor.  The twins would be delivered in an OR in case a c-section was necessary.  After a few hours, she was ready and the OB allowed myself and one support person to be with her and David.  A few minutes later Holly delivered David’s daughter.  David’s son was breech and pretty feisty.  A c-section became necessary. Because she did a unmedicated birth, Holly was put under and no one could be there when David’s son was born.  David went to the nursery to be with his daughter without his son.  He was still waiting for his family to be complete.  About thirty minutes later, his son arrived and David was given a room to bond with is family.

When he finally held his children, the room filled with so much emotion.  That tiny hospital room was crammed full of love and family in the deepest and most sacred way. His babies were finally in his arms.  He was holding his Dream: a healthy 14 pounds and tons of dark hair Dream.  Watching him whisper loving words into tiny ears, feeling each finger, and breathing in the scent of his babies is something I will never forget.  Sure the way he became a father isn’t necessarily typical.  But it’s also very typical because it started with a dream created by love.

And that’s the greatest kind of dream.







Congrats, David.  Your family is stunning.

Hey, Little Ones.  You’re so lucky to have your Poppa.  You’ve been loved forever.  And that’s the recipe for a good life.  Congrats.

Congrats, Holly.  You nourished, protected and fearlessly labored and delivered two beautiful babies. 







  • Sharon Oberlie Neal - Awesome doesn’t express the emotions I am feeling right now. What an experience and to have it recorded by you. Very Impressive young lady, very impressive.August 10, 2015 – 1:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Karyn Hlad Miller - This. This is just so wonderful for them. Congrats to all!August 10, 2015 – 9:42 pmReplyCancel

I have a thing about being on time.  It’s more like: I have a thing about being early.  If I’m two minutes late for an appointment that’s four hours away, I’ll be miserable the entire day.  Even if it’s uncontrollable, my day will be ruined.  I can be smug and say, “I value your time and my time.”  But honestly Being On Time is just a thing for me.

The time thing is yet another laughable reason that I’m a birth worker.  Time is never a factor with birth!  Due dates are simply estimates.  Labors go fast and labors go slow without a clear reason.  You go and hope you’ve got more than 10 minutes until baby arrives.  You go and hope that you aren’t sleeping on your clients’ couch for hours.  You go and hope you don’t have to reschedule tomorrow afternoon’s hair appointment.  You go and wait.  And sometimes you go and there’s no waiting…  There’s a baby waiting for you.

One of my last births, the labor ramped up quickly.  Babies don’t like to wait on anyone when they’re really ready for this world.  With some midwife help via the speakerphone, Daddy delivered his fifth child.  She couldn’t wait any longer to meet her big and fantastic family.  I have a feeling this beauty will never play catch up with her siblings.  I’m guessing they will happily chase her all day long.









  • Sandra Torguson - Grandma T says that these are truly lovely pictures. Another nice collection. Thanks.August 5, 2015 – 12:13 amReplyCancel

  • Laurie Appleby-Williams - Beautiful! Man, I am a sucker for birth photography.August 5, 2015 – 12:20 amReplyCancel

  • Carol Klein Ray - Love, love, love!August 5, 2015 – 2:15 amReplyCancel

  • Tina Magee-Jenks - these are incredibly gorgeous. what great memories you captured, even if you weren’t able to be there for the actualy birth, these are still priceless. :)August 5, 2015 – 7:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Claire Tremeer - the ones of the little girl n the red top made me cry! She looked so ecited and overjoyed Wonderful photos as always.August 9, 2015 – 11:41 amReplyCancel

When I started 365 Round 4, I gave myself a few goals.   But a list is only a simple map.

Births, vacations, portraits, try to finish…  

Smoosed in between each Goal are the moments that string life together.  Here are a few of my favorite strings.

Family events held birthday wishes, traditions, fun sideways glances, and competitive game nights.


Our year was full of friends.  Simple moments shared: dinner, drinks, laughter, and mischief.


Each year has many special events.  Some are annual: first day of school, Father’s day, Halloween costumes, and camping.  And others happen a few times in your life: new American citizens, the birth of a first child, the birth of a third, National championship, and first birthdays.


Round 4 365 was a really good for births.  I’ve photographed repeat clients and men catching their babies.  I’ve cried at a birth, photographed HBACs and two hospital births.  Every time I’m still humbled and in awe of these women.

365 :: 4

I’m not the greatest portrait photographer.  Most people find it awkward to stand for one and I find it awkward to ask.  But this year, I learned that it’s ok to slow down and ask for some to look into my camera.  It’s ok to get that smile.  It’s ok to capture their gaze.  That kind of presence is a beautiful thing.

portraitsRound 4 had a few vacations.  We brought our boys to a spot we’ve been camping with our friends for over a decade.  It felt like a tiny full-circle moment.  Disney was a big one.  Airports, hotels, and Disney was a highlight in the 365 and in 2015.
vacationI’m guessing if I scroll through my previous 365’s, you might see me once.  That’s not fair.  I play a pretty damn important role in my life.  So I told myself, “Show up, Kid.”  And so I did by passing my camera to someone or by setting the self-timer.  In albums, the boys will see and say, “That was Ma when she was 38.”  Show up.  It’s not that difficult.spCheers, Round 4.  I loved you.

Round 5?  Give me a little while…

I’ll offer some 365 tips very soon.  If you have any specific questions, just ask.

Once again, a year of seconds proves to be my most rewarding project.  It forces me to appreciate what’s within my arm’s length every single day.

The past year has given me seconds full of:

  • laughter
  • smiles
  • dance moves
  • a kid who hates pants
  • another kid who’s sly/goofy/beautiful smile is 50% mine and still shocks me with it’s sweetness
  • a husband who loves me enough to shake it on command
  • school first days, concerts, family events, and graduations
  • a sister who let me keep the second she was on the toilet
  • a another sister who’s laugh I hear repeatedly when her second pops up
  • a brother’s graduation from law school
  • holidays
  • colleagues who have become friends
  • a superhero onesie
  • Disney and camping
  • SIL’s and BIL’s who love me as if we were true siblings (which would be weird and illegal, but you get what I’m saying)
  • two sets of parents who cherish me as their “baby” and respect me as their adult child
  • the first hour of two new lives
  • baby swaying
  • pizza dough
  • friends at our table when we’ve consumed more laughs than actual food
  • game nights
  • friends’ kids that I would protect as if they were my own children
  • happy hours
  • friends that I no longer consider “close”, but  I consider family
  • lots of tv time and a few finished books
  • jokes
  • simple and ordinary junk
  • football and soccer games
  • a trip home from a surgery
  • places where I’m a Regular
  • unconditional love


This is my arm’s length.

I’m so grateful for every second because it’s a damn good life.

But I’m not special.  This is your arm’s length too.  Maybe you’ve got more or fewer players.  Maybe a bigger house or smaller couch.  Maybe you don’t have as many dancers or you’ve got kids who always wear pants.  But trust me, it’s there.  It just looks different.

Stop life for one second and watch your beautiful life unfold too.

May 2014 – May 2015 One Second Every Day from Erika Ray on Vimeo.

psst…  The boys’ picked the last song, but I think it works.

  • skeller - a year of booty shaking!!!! I can be in depressed-ennui-place, and I swear watching 1SEs makes everything better … LOVE this, Erika. Maybe even more for the gaps in days, ’cause it totally proves it’s ok to miss and keep going anyway.May 21, 2015 – 10:34 amReplyCancel

  • Janet Vorst Dyer - Really good and entertaining. Well done.May 21, 2015 – 12:54 pmReplyCancel

As a woman, you tend to think you’re pretty hot when you’ve waxed, plucked, smooshed, smeared, pushed up, shed five pounds, glittered, sheened, shaved, and puckered.  Whenever I go from my Before (jeans, t-shirt, and Chucks) to my After (nice shirt, clean hair, and a little more makeup), I think: I clean up well.  But do I feel hot Hot?  Nope.

A few nights back I had a funny moment.  It’s one I’ve had hundreds of times.  But this time it registered in my head: This is when I’m hot.

I feel especially hot the second I get off a plane.  Music from this playlist is blaring in my ears (I need something to wake me up as my flights always get in near midnight) and I’m stomping towards my car.  Gracefully and expertly maneuvering my roller bag past lagging passengers.  The airport is empty so there’s plenty of space for a long stride.  I’m guessing it’s how Giselle feels working the runway.  Fucking hot.

Am I’m Runway ready?   Hell no!  I’ve got a full day of travel stench wafting off me.  My face probably has the imprint of my zipper on it.  My neck is killing me because I’m too vain to buy a travel pillow.  If I have my contacts in, my eyes are scratchy and full of goo and crust nuggets.  My clothes are wrinkly and my belly is full of crap-ass airport food.  Not a pillar of beauty.  But I still feel incredibly hot in that moment.


Maybe it’s because:

  • I’ve got Wake up Music blaring in my ears and no one else can hear it.  It’s usually a badass tune which makes me feel badass.
  • I’m alone in an airport and it fuels my deep desire of  independence.   I’ve always been pretty independent and my need for it is growing as I age.  Airports yank that out of me.  I’m alone in a city and no one can do a thing about it.
  • It always reminds me of the 23-year-old who still got lost in her tiny hometown neighborhood.  I’d get off the plane knowing that I successfully navigated through Chicago, LA, Dallas, etc.  All alone and before Google maps or cell phones.
  • And when I’m in Columbus, it means I’m home.  Soon I’ll see my family and get to snuggle with my beloved pillow.

Getting dressed up is lovely, but doesn’t leave me feeling the same as the airport does.   You can’t get it from a smoky eye or a new bra.  No new cleavage deep shirt or smooth legs have that power.  There’s no fancy media airbrushing to create this kind of strength.  No celebrity has the power to make me believe in myself.  Nope.  It’s simple: strutting through the airport makes me feel unstoppable, unwavering, confident, and fucking hot.

As women we shouldn’t rely on products or celebrities to fuel our self-confidence.  We should rely on creating it for ourselves.  Some think self confidence is difficult to achieve or spend thousands trying to grasp it.    We need to turn off the shitty voices in our heads, recognize when we’re fabulous and embrace it.  Maybe it’s when you changed an outlet.  Or told the salesman, “NO!  I don’t want that car.  I want THIS ONE!”  Maybe it’s when you caught your kid’s puke in your hands and didn’t freak out.  It’s in that moment when you realize you’re pretty damn amazing.  You’ve got the kind of self-confidence people hope little girls will cultivate for adulthood.   It’s the kind of self confidence that allows you to stand strong during difficult times.  It’s the kind of self-confidence that bubbles in your core and will explode if you let it.  Only you can create this kind of everlasting self-confidence.  It’s that kind of self-confidence that let’s you believe, “Yep, I’m hot.”  And mine shows up in the airport.

When do you feel hot?  Tell me and own it all day long.


Picture explanation:

  • No one likes a blog post without a picture.  
  • Proof I was in an airport.  
  • Why else would they put full-length mirrors if they didn’t want you to photograph in them?  
  • You can’t see anything, Ma!
  • Why do they have ashtrays in airplane bathrooms if you haven’t been allowed to smoke FOREVER!  That freaks me out.
  • It takes me a while to pee on a plane.  I got bored.
  • Michelle McDaid - Yes! We should meet at an airport someday for a glass of wine because airports do the same thing for me.May 15, 2015 – 6:30 pmReplyCancel