Tuesday, September 28, 2010


On an island of the Coast of France, collecting Sea Glass -
one of the best days of my life so far! 2007.

We're almost to the wedding, and Karenanna is the next of my bridesmaids to hit the spotlight!

I transferred to the University of Michigan in Fall of 2003, and was placed in the Sophomore Class. At this time I technically should have been a Senior, and was a couple of years older than the rest of the students in my "BFA in Theatre Performance" Class. The class sizes are small at Michigan, one of the reasons I chose to go there, so you take every class with the people in your year all the way through your degree program. While everyone was very polite to me when I transferred, it's very difficult to stroll into an innately competitive environment where everyone else has had a full year to bond and find their "place". Being the one to upset the apple cart is difficult, no matter how nice everyone is!

Karenanna was the first real friend I had in my acting program - she sincerely approached me that first day, and I instantly fell in love with her sparkling personality and her red, red hair that is just like mine. Like me, she was also older than the students in our class - only 2 months younger than me - and when she turned 21 that December, we started going out for drinks occasionally just to download on everything that was going on.

Karenanna and I after our Graduation from the University of Michigan, 2006.

Karenanna was one of my biggest support posts during my three years at Michigan, one of those people who would sit and listen, cry with me, laugh with me, and celebrate with me too. I like to think that I supported and encouraged her just as much, but I also think that she was in a more stable place during that time. I think about Karenanna during that time of my life, and I think of a rock - never budging, staying solid in the storm. I don't think I ever told her just how much she rescued me during that time, knowing that she would stop and listen when I felt that life was spinning out of control or that I was drowning in my depression.

Since graduation, I have seen Karenanna once a year. First, my visit to Karenanna in Cognac, France in 2007. In 2008 we met in Barcelona for a magical week of art, adventures and Sangria. In 2009, in Vermont as I attended my leader training for World Learning. And for 2010 - well, that visit is days away! Every time I see her, it's like the years fall away - and we laugh, eat, cry, get real, and laugh some more...

K-nans and I on the harbor in Barcelona, 2008.

I have three favorite memories of Karenanna - the first one is from an Island off the coast of France - of eating chocolate crepes in an outdoor cafe then strolling and hunting for sea glass on the beach while we talked forever. The next is from our visit to a mountain top monastery just outside of Barcelona - of the cold, the mist, and the majesty. Of attending their mid-day prayer service and being surrounded by every language under the sun as we found ourselves in a Catholic Pilgrimage Site. Of the amazing conversation that came out of that visit. Then the most recent - a delicious outdoor dinner on the river in Vermont - amazing burgers, and some serious downloading time after a crazy, crazy week for both of us.

I love you, K-nans! I am so excited and honored that you are flying across the country and taking a few days from Grad School to be a part of this special day! I cannot WAIT to see you at the rehearsal on Friday and squeeze you to death!!!!!!!!!

Karenanna and I in Vermont during training for the
Experiment in International Living, 2009.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Nancy and I at my birthday celebration, October 17, 2010.
Nancy is a rare bird in photos, and this is one of the few I have of us together!

In the order that I met them, Nancy is next.

The story of how I met Nancy is very much wrapped up in the story of how I fell into teaching, choreography and ultimately directing. I'll try to give you the short version.

In the Spring of 2001, I was teaching two acting classes at the City of Torrance for a Company called Pizzazz Productions. The owner, Laura, was so happy with the work I was doing in my classes, that she was going to hire me to run drama camp for the summer. I remember sitting in this pre-camp meeting with Laura and my friend Kasey (who was going to work with me that Summer), when suddenly the door of the tiny office opens, and in bursts one of the most outrageous women I have ever met. She was wrapped in a velvet shawl (with tassels), and she was furious because Laura still hadn't found her a choreographer for the summer musical she was directing, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Kasey opened his big mouth and said, "Erin's a choreographer!", (which I still am not sure I was at that age - I'd done some choreography and I had a big dance background - but a choreographer? not yet) and I was hired. The rest is history.

Nancy ended up taking over the company and transforming it into Starlight Productions, and I have been working with and for her for nine and a half years. Along the way, she has become one of my nearest and dearest friends. Although we sometimes make each other absolutely nuts, we come around, apologize, and treat each other with love.

Nancy has the best, most generous heart, and she really has the ability to see people and their circumstances with a clear, compassionate eye. She also has a very good sense of perspective about life's ups and downs, and she is never afraid to talk me down when I get over-stressed or out of control. Truth be told, she's also sweet talked me into a number of crazy ideas over the years, just as I have done to her!

I have learned SOOO much from Nancy over the years, and feel like I am an adopted member of the Gomez family - almost like the fourth child!

Nancy, I am so honored to have you as a friend and part of my bridal party. Thank you so much for seeing something in a little 18 year old and for supporting me 100% along the way. Thank you for all of the opportunities, for humoring my crazy ideas, and for loving me even when I'm a little bit nuts. I look forward to many more years of margaritas and late nights up talking!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My name is Erin and I was a workaholic.

Yep. Was a workaholic. I am no longer a workaholic, which some people find difficult to believe or understand. And that's not to say that my life doesn't still have its busy times, but these days I don't choose to be busy, circumstances force me to be busy and I resent every minute of it.

I think that Jason has a lot to do with it. Jason works a normal person's hours. I work all the hours he works and THEN I also work evenings and weekends.

I still work evenings and some weekends, but I'm really trying to make a conscious effort to free up the time that he's not working (it's easier, given the nature of my many jobs), and I will try to do this even more during the first year of our marriage.

I want to give us the time to grow in our marriage, to work through what many people say is the toughest year. How can we do that if we're only together when we're sleeping?

So, I've scaled back on what I'm doing. This fall, I'm substitute teaching (more on that in a sec), caroling again (yay!) and teaching two acting classes. That's it. Any more than that and I'd miss all those important moments of being a newlywed. I won't let my work take that away from me!

What's so interesting about my decision to scale back is that my primary source of income, substitute teaching, has suddenly become totally unreliable. I have had one - ONE! - sub call since school started this fall. This is very unusual as I sub in two school districts, and have always had enough work to keep myself afloat financially.

Now? Thanks to more teacher cuts in the school districts, there is now a "must call" list of laid-off teachers who must all receive their jobs before any other subs get a call. I feel badly for those teachers who were laid-off, I do, but share some work, please! I rely on sub work for a regular paycheck (everything else I do pays sporadically).

This morning, there was no sub call again. I'm starting to get very concerned. I have two weeks of availability left before I take off for our wedding and honeymoon, and if I don't get any work between now and then, I will not receive ANY paychecks before November. WHAT?!

When we chose our house to rent, we chose it knowing that if I had a month of no work that we'd be able to make it, paying rent and all of our bills on Jason's salary. That doesn't make me feel okay about not contributing, but it does put my mind at ease.

Back to the point - I've gone from a workaholic to a person who is actually happy to be given the excuse to spend the day at home "puttering". I define "puttering" as cleaning and gardening at my own pace with little breaks to just relax.

Today I've puttered - the house is spotless and I spent a good hour and a half doing my favorite thing - gardening. :) I still feel guilty for not contributing financially today, but at least I contributed in another way! If you had told me ten years ago that I'd be happy spending the day at home cleaning, I would have told you you were nuts. Today? I'm no longer a workaholic, and I'm coming to realize that there are things that are more important than work and being busy.

Back to my garden!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Flower Girl Dress Shopping!

The monkey, post-shopping.

This morning, Solangey and I took Caity shopping for her little flower girl dress. Solange was dreading it, because Caity is at an age where she just wants to go all the time, and is nearing her terrible twos!

It wasn't so terrible though, and Caity looked precious (as expected!) in everything!

Now, I won't tell you which one we chose (that's a surprise, and actually, Caity did most of the choosing by her reaction to each dress!), but I just had to share these photos of the precious little monkey!

And she only got a little cranky!

Enjoy the photos of the precious little monkey!

Front and back of Dress Three:

Front and Back of Dress Two:

The Back and Front of Dress One:

Monday, September 13, 2010


Solange and I at Disney's California Adventure, about to ride Toy Story Midway Mania, July 2010!

This week, it's Solange's turn!!!

I first met Solange my freshman year, though she doesn't remember it. We had Freshman English together, and it was her first year in Public school after a lifetime in Catholic school.

We didn't become good friends until our Sophomore year. We both ended up in Advanced Dance that year, and when the Advanced team was "required" to be a part of the Spring Musical, Solange and I were two of only THREE members who remained in Advanced for the Spring Semester. That musical was "Once Upon a Mattress", and if you want to read about how that period of time changed my life, you can click here!

What's important is that Solange became my dear friend, my best friend, during that important time in my life. It was also a major time in Solange's life, because it was during that show that she met the young man she would one day marry, Nik.

The three Advanced Dance Students who stuck it out at the Music Center, about to see CHICAGO at the Ahmanson Theatre. L to R: Connie, Me, Solange. May, 1998. We look very "Clueless" here.

Throughout high school, college and beyond we maintained our friendship, and it grew just as we did. I remember all the moments, watching her struggle through the many break-ups and get-togethers with Nik, and her joy when they were both on the other side of the growing - ready to make the next step - marriage.

Solangey and I at Trinity Lake, sometime in College. I think this is August 2002 or 2003.

She has stood by my side through some really tough times, always in my corner, always telling it exactly like it is. Solange says what she thinks and lives by what she believes.

Solange is a mom now - an incredible mother to her gorgeous daughter, Caitlin Erin Rohde. My incredible god-daughter has my name as her middle name, and I am so honored and humbled by that gesture. In fact, when Nik and Solange told me what her name would be, I cried.

That's me with Solange's daughter (and my god-daughter), Caitlin Erin Rohde.
Christmas Day, 2009.

Solangey, I love you. Thank you for being a better friend to me than I am to you - for being a ferocious friend and an inspiring mother. You are hilarious, kind, honest, loyal, patient (SOOO patient) and my family. You are the BEST.

If you want to check out the goings on of the Rohde Family, check out Solange's blog, here!

Solange and I on the way to her wedding ceremony, July 2006.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Orlando - Visit to "The Swamp"

Let me clarify, we did not spend a day at any swamp, we spent the day at "The Swamp" otherwise known as the Florida Gators Stadium in Gainesville. Or as I know, the object of Jason's college football affection and the former home of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

I'm a college football girl, learned during my years at the University of Michigan while I cheered our Wolverines in the Big House. As part of the requirements of my Bachelors Degree, I came away from Michigan with a serious hatred for Ohio State, and a despisal of all things Ohio-an.

Breakfast, Gator style.

So - last Saturday, I found myself out in 92 degree weather, with 98% humidity, sitting in the sun wearing Gator gear (I felt a little like a traitor...) and cheering on the Florida Gators as they took on Miami Ohio. I've already expressed how I feel about teams from Ohio that wear the color red, so I was staunchly on the side of the Gators and the SEC today.

Outside of the stadium, pre-game. I love this pic. I also love that Jason will
willingly allow himself in photos if a gator game is involved.

Unfortunately, this was also the first game of the post Tim Tebow era, and while the Gators ultimately won, it was a rough win.

Phot taken from our seats in the third row!

Do you remember when the Michigan Wolverines lost to Appalachian State in their Season opener? It's a black spot on the football history of the University of Michigan, and something that is STILL discussed weekly on ESPN. It's also become a running joke during football season. Someone asks me where I went to school, I answer, and they say... "oooh - Appalachian State."

Well, during the Florida game (with the exception of the 2nd Quarter), I was seeing shades of Appalachian State. Poor Jason - I understood the look on his face better than he did. It was downright painful at times.

Jason doing the "Chomp".

But here's the good news - despite the smothering heat and the abyssmal win, Jason and I had amazing seats (row three in the end zone) and we had a great time!
92 Degrees with Thunder Storms. Welcome to Florida!

For me, it was just heaven being back in a College football stadium and getting swept up in the cheering, booing and college fanaticism!

Swamp Cooler - Now I finally understand them.

Hopefully next year we can dress Jason up in some Go Blue wear and head to Ann Arbor for the beautiful fall color and my Wolverines!

I did say fanaticism, right? What you can't see is the dried
gator head on top of the stick shift inside!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Orlando - Walt Disney World

Jason and I flew to his family home in Orlando, Florida for Labor Day weekend. We had a super busy weekend with all sorts of events planned! Before we could do anything else, though, we explored three parks at Walt Disney World in nine hours with Grandma Joyce! We expected the parks to be jam packed on the Thursday of Labor Day Weekend - were we ever surprised! Both Jason and Grandma said they had NEVER seen the parks this empty before! Granted, we did have the advantage of Grandma needing a wheelchair for the day - she's super duper active but is currently wearing a little "shoe" on her left foot while it heals. She didn't want to aggravate it by walking on it all day, so we reaped the advantages of her wheelchair. The longest line we waited in all day (when we HAD to wait in line) was probably 20 minutes for Space Mountain. Other than that we flew through Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom in nine hours. That's unbelievable!

I had only been to the parks one time before, with my high school choir, and this was a totally different experience!

Unfortunately I woke up sick on Tuesday morning, and was still sick when we flew all night on Wednesday night. When we got in on Thursday morning, we went back to sleep for another four hours, which was awesome. I took medication on the way to the parks, and felt like a zombie throughout Hollywood Studios, only starting to feel better when we stopped at Chik-Fil-A for lunch. Aside from time with Grandma Joyce and Jason, I'd say that my favorite parts of the day were the rides I'd never been on before: Rockin' Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios and Test Track at Epcot. Also, Jason and I had a blast putting ourselves in a video game at Epcot - you can play it online by clicking this link!

Thank you, Bob, for letting us play in the parks for the day, and thank you Jason and Grandma for being willing to play in the heat and humidity all day!

Check out some of my photos from our Disney day!

Grandma Joyce's Little Shoe.

Self portrait at Hollywood Studios!

Grandma Joyce and I at Epcot!


Sadly, this photo is totally out of focus - I LOVE IT!

A little bit more serious and a lot more in focus. Look how sweaty Jason is!

On the ferry, headed back across the lake from Magic Kingdom to the parking lot and Grandma's Car!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Steph and I going to a Swing Dancing Party - this either 1996 or 1997. Our shoes are ridiculous!

Continuing in the order that I befriended my bridesmaids, Steph is next! Now.... whenever I describe Steph to someone, I generally preface the description by saying she's the coolest person I know. By that I mean NO OFFENSE to all of the other people in my life - who are all cool in their own ways - but it really is true. :)

Let's start at the very beginning. Steph and I can trace the time we've known each other back to pre-school age (or Kindergarten at the very least). We grew up in the same Church, and so we each have memories of the other all throughout Elementary even though we weren't really "friends" and definitely did not go to the same school.

In fact, Steph and I both sang in the Children's Choir at our church, and every year we would put on a production with a Biblical message and a contemporary story. When we were in 2nd Grade, I was selected to play the lead, Grimey, the Black Sheep in our play. Yes - we dressed up like sheep. And NO, Steph was not happy that I got "her" role. In 3rd Grade, our roles were reversed when she got to play "Kitty O'Bey", the badass Scottish kitty with an attitude. I was not happy - I wanted that part! I've found a photo of me as "Grimey" - I'll have to find one of Steph as Kitty O'Bey sometime soon!

That's me as "Grimey" in WE LIKE SHEEP, Spring 1990.

Fast forward to 6th Grade (Fall 1994). We suddenly find ourselves in the same school, and Steph becomes one of my best friends in a flash. Sixteen years later, she is still one of my best friends. Although I don't get to see her very often, whenever we see each other it's the same as it was last time - the relationship is consistent!

So here's why Steph is the coolest person I know. Not only did she graduate with Honors and dual Bachelors degrees in Biology and Chemistry, but she also holds a Masters Degree in Chemistry. Steph has spent the last three years teaching Science at the American School in Cairo, Egypt. This summer she moved to South Africa to begin teaching at Bridges of Hope Academy. You can read about her adventures at Bridges of Hope here:

I was able to visit her in Cairo her first year there, and it changed my life. Because Steph was living there, I was able to have a more authentic visit to Egypt - visiting places that many tourists never get a chance to see: Garbage City, The Cave Churches and the Cities of the Dead. How it changed my life is subject matter for a different day, but just know that it did.

Steph (on the Right) and I (on the left) riding our camels to the Pyramids at Giza. We DID do some touristy activities while in Egypt!

One of my favorite Steph memories, though, was while we were on vacation in Costa Rica the summer before she moved to Egypt. It was a rainy afternoon, and she and Allie spent it playing soccer on the beach with the locals. I don't play soccer, and I didn't play that afternoon, but watching them play in the rain was magical. She played barefoot, and had nasty blisters from the sand afterwards, but her smile and her joy were infectious. To me, that's what Steph's about - finding the joy through the blisters, bruises and rain.

So, that's why Steph is the coolest person I know. Steph, I love you, and cannot wait to see you when you fly back in a few short weeks. I am so honored that you would travel that distance to be a part of my special day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steph and I in Costa Rica - August, 2007