Sunday, October 29, 2023

Filling the Void

When my daughter left for college five years ago, I had a really difficult time. I missed her terribly. I missed her chirpy attitude. I missed her constant singing. I missed her laughter. I was worried about her. Would she like her roommate? How would she do in her classes? Would she make friends? Would she be homesick? I certainly didn't have the same concerns when my oldest son went off to college. I missed him too, but it was different.  It's different sending your only daughter off into the big world. 

To cope with the change, I made treats for her and her roommates and friends.  Being creative for the various holidays was my way of coping. It filled the void. It kept me connected in a weird, distant way. It reminded my daughter and her friends that they were loved and it was good.

This Halloween bucket was one of the things I sent to my daughter and her friends. Just a simple bucket filled with a succulent pumpkin and various seasonal treats from Trader Joes.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

It's Been a Year!


I can't believe that it has been a whole year that we have been "empty nesters"!

The last couple of weeks, social media has been overflowing with posts of kids going back to school...preschoolers to college kids. I have enjoyed seeing all the pictures of the littles with their new outfits and oversized backpacks and the college kids with their poster-clad dorm rooms. 

I knew the day was coming, yet the past year has been filled with a range of emotions. Some of our friends enjoy having their kids out of the house. Not me! I know that it is time for them to launch and start life on their own, yet is unsettling.

Here are a couple things that I have done to help during this transitional time.

1. It's definitely a loss when your kids move out of the house. Give yourself the grace to feel your emotions and time to adjust to your new lifestyle.  You may feel lonely, sad, or have a new zeal for life.  Whatever those emotions are, sit with them as they are neither good nor bad.

2. Stay connected with your adult kids. It's important to maintain a great relationship. My husband and I talk to our kids weekly, if not more.  Make certain to have family holidays together.  The get-togethers may look different than they did when your kids lived at home.  Consider it a great opportunity to make new memories and traditions.

3. Get a new hobby or start a new career. Since you're no longer "cooking for an army" or doing endless loads of laundry, you've got more free time on your hands. Take a class, volunteer or if you're like me, finish all your scrapbooks that you started and didn't have time to finish.

4. Enjoy just being a couple. Go on dates, travel, and rekindle what may have been lost during the child-raising years.  Remember, your spouse may be experiencing the empty nest season differently than you. Talk about it and process the change together. 

Our first year has been challenging and it's definitely been a time of positive growth.  Stay connected with your spouse and adult kids, get a hobby, and enjoy this new season!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Firmly Established Over Time

settled 1 of 2

as in rooted
firmly established over time

A very wise friend told me "You don't need a home to be settled". This was shared with me in the middle of selling our home and moving to a rental home with the future mostly being unknown. I was taken aback by this comment. As a "nester", I felt I needed a home; something that was familiar, a structure that was comfortable, a space where my family could come together, rest, and be happy. 

Homeownership is an American dream and as a realtor and investor, I fully believe that owning one or multiple homes is financially wise.  After selling our previous primary residence, and renting for a short period, my husband and I did indeed purchase a primary home last year. 

Great, we have the home, but are we settled?  Yes, we have a place of shelter and comfort which is sufficient for our current needs, but settled? 

My friend was absolutely correct that "you don't need a home to be settled"! The notion that owning a home will make you feel settled is not reality. Feelings of instability and uncertainty are feelings that we struggle with. Adding an "empty nesters" status makes it doubly difficult; however, our intention is to focus on stability and comfort in other areas of our lives whether it be our careers, family relationships, travel, or service to others. 

Through wrestling with this thought, I have come to know that feeling settled is not a house or a living situation. Regardless of our homeownership status or our circumstances, it is truly possible to be content and peaceful! 

Feeling settled is a choice!

Thursday, January 12, 2023



Why a blog? Why "Confetti and Paprika"?

This is not my first blog. In fact, this is my second. My first, The Erickson All-Stars, was created in 2007 as a way to keep family and friends updated on my family's adventures. I wasn't a huge fan of Facebook at the time and honestly, blogging was far more fun for me. 

It turns out that The Erickson All-Stars was more than just a blog. When my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, it was a way to keep our family updated and it was extremely therapeutic for me. I was hesitant to photograph her journey, but an online friend who I met through a photography course encouraged me to photograph all of it...the good, bad and ugly. So I did and documented it in my blog. I did not know what the future looked like for her and our family, but I was determined to not let the unknown stop me from documenting life and accepting every single second of it.

As life moved forward and got back to "normal" (if that is really a state), the documentation of my family through The Erickson All-Stars slowed down. I went from posting many times a year to posting once a year. I loved blogging; however, the past showed me that it was critical to be present in life rather than document all of it.  Life was thankfully busy with the kids growing up and all their activities.

Fast forward almost 16 years to life now.  My kids are grown, working, and attending college, and my husband and I are now considered "empty-nesters".  So now what? Hey, how about blogging again? Yes, life is still busy yet I do have a bit more time to spend writing a blog.

What's with the name? A few years ago (before empty-nesting), I was texting with a friend on Easter Sunday. We had just returned from church, dinner was in the oven and I was in the garage attacking what seemed to be a 3-foot-high pile of smelly, dirty clothes. As I shared with my friend that I was doing laundry, she told me how her three kids and husband took her out to a lovely brunch and that they were currently sitting by the pool. Ugh! There I was pulling stained baseball pants right side out in my garage. (That's another story...I dreamed of having a laundry room inside the house rather than in the garage.)

I put my phone down and looked at the pile of dirty laundry. I immediately had a shift in my thinking.  The dirty laundry was no longer a burden or a chore, but a gift. You see, the dirty laundry with all the different colors represented life. It represented three healthy kids, one of which just a couple years earlier was given a 30% chance of life. It represented sports, theater, school, employment, and vacation. It represented us having lived through the most difficult time in our lives and yet, here we were a family of five, still together, making colorful dirty laundry. Confetti, that's what I saw piled on my garage floor, confetti!

I was born a redhead...yep! Through the years, my hair color naturally turned a brownish red and when the grays started appearing, I went back to my birth color. Paprika, a red spice made from the cultivars of peppers, is also a nickname given to me by my dad. When I was a kid, I thought nothing of it. As I matured through my teens and early adulthood, I grew to love the nickname. It represented the spicy and sarcastic personality that I was inclined to.

So, there it is...Confetti and Paprika!

It is my hope that as you follow along, you will laugh, cry and even grab a "nugget" here and there.