Blog post by Erika

So I have some pretty exciting news. Drumroll please……….…I’m engaged!!! I’m sure the drumroll wasn’t necessary considering the title of this blog more than likely gave it away, but I am completely ecstatic for this next chapter in my life and it is definitely drumroll worthy! I’m sure the first question that everyone has been wondering is…“How did he do propose?!” Well it’s actually a pretty funny story, which went a little something like this:

Saturday, April 5, 2014 – My past tense–boyfriend’s, present tense–fiancé’s, future tense–HUSBAND’S (that’s going to take some getting used to!) 25th Birthday. For a few months now I had been planning out a surprise party for Tyler, I wanted to really surprise him with a birthday he wouldn’t easily forget (25 is half way to 50 after all;)). Little did I know, he had an even bigger surprise waiting for me that same morning.

The gorgeous ring Tyler picked out, he did FANTASTIC! It’s everything I wanted all rolled into one.  


I ran to the grocery store early the morning of Tyler’s Birthday to get biscuits in order to make his favorite breakfast…biscuits and gravy. We went grocery shopping the night before and of course I had forgotten the biscuits–must have been fate. I decided when I got home that I would surprise him with his present. It was too big to wrap so I planned on calling him into the garage, saying I needed help with groceries but having the present sitting in the garage where he would first see it. When I called him down he took FOREVER to come and ‘help me,’ leaving me waiting for at least 20 minutes. When he finally came down I could tell he was pleasantly surprised when he saw his present (and somewhat relieved that he didn’t have to haul in groceries).

When we headed back inside I was feeling pretty proud that I had succeeded in my first surprise for the day. Once we got inside Tyler said he wanted to play Scrabble and asked if I could grab the Scrabble board from the basement closet. My initial thought was “Why would you want to play Scrabble at 9 am in the morning but whatever! It’s your birthday.”

As I headed to the closet, Tyler darted upstairs. I searched all over in the closet but couldn’t find the game so I yelled up to Tyler and told him it wasn’t there. He then had me searching all over the basement for the darn thing and naturally, I aimlessly followed without a single clue that he was stalling and trying to buy more time before I came upstairs.

I gave up on my search and headed upstairs empty handed. When I got upstairs Tyler had the song “My Best Friend” by Tim McGraw playing on the stereo. I didn’t think anything of it. But as I started heading towards the kitchen I saw the Scrabble board set out already played. My first thought was “You played without me!!!” Because we all know that Scrabble is totally a game you can play by yourself…

As I inched closer I saw romantic words played out on the board, such as “Forever,” “Love,” “Union,” “Respect,” etc. Then I saw the word “Marry.”

Tyler asked me if I saw a hidden message and I said, “Noooo, but I see the word ‘Marry’…”

He pointed my eyes towards the top left corner of the board where I read aloud “Will.” Then he guided me towards the middle where I read “You” and from there I basically filled in the rest of the blanks, which sounded something like this… “MARRY ME??????”


When I turned around, he was on one knee with a grey box in-hand.  By this point I knew what was going on. He told me that I am his best friend and that this would be the best birthday present ever. I started crying (of course) and hugged him. At this point he said, “Well, will you?!” Because apparently my tears weren’t considered an “official” answer. I think we all know what I said… “Ummm YES!” Needless to say, Tyler FINALLY (and I emphasize the ‘finally’) beat me at Scrabble.:)

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The whole day I kept giggling because he had no idea what was waiting for him later that night and that his surprise party would essentially become an engagement party as well. The day played out perfectly, Tyler was extremely surprised when we rolled up to my parent’s house to find all these familiar, wonderful faces greeting us. It was so special to have all our friends and family in one place so they could share in our truly unforgettable moment together.

Tyler’s reaction when we pulled up.


It’s beyond amazing when you think about how the day played out…it started with a Birthday present surprise for Tyler, turned into a hugely life changing surprise for myself, resorted back to a birthday surprise for Tyler and then essentially ended in big surprising news for all our family and friends.

As you can imagine, I am feeling extremely blessed to know I will be marrying such a wonderful man. I couldn’t have handpicked him better, even if I tried. Needless to say, I am ready for this roller-coaster called marriage and I wouldn’t want anyone else in the seat next to me but my man. Let the planning begin!

The reveal.





Our adorable nephews.




  • Terri Fanning - What a wonderful story! I am curious – what was tour surprise gift to him in the garage? CONGRATULATIONS!!ReplyCancel

    • nowandthen - Hi Terri! It was a fold out table for parties. Tyler just has a small table that seats four people in the kitchen and when we have people over we have no where for them to sit. He had been saying he wanted one so I ended up getting it for him for his birthday. :) ReplyCancel

  • Cassie - I teared up reading this even though I knew the story. Love you guys!! So excited!ReplyCancel

  • Jamie D. - How incredibly perfect that whole day turned out! Congratulations to you both! I’m so glad you posted the deets on here! :D ReplyCancel

    • nowandthen - Thanks Jamie! I’m glad you got to read all the details! Too bad you couldn’t have been there for the “reveal,” miss you!ReplyCancel

  • Shinal - I was wanted to call you for the details, but I got to read everything on here! Congrats again E, I am so happy for you! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Nicole fox - Erica that is so exciting!! I am so happy for you guys:). You make a great couple!ReplyCancel

  • lauren b - what a awesome, romantic story!! i love reading egagement things like this. Congrats to you both :) ReplyCancel

  • Nichole Leone - What a great day for u both!!! I love that u were both planning surprises for the other. Congrats to u bothReplyCancel

  • Mickey - Beautiful story, beautifully written, beautiful bride-to-be and awesome photos :) Love you!ReplyCancel

  • Vicki Schlicksup - Congratulations!!!ReplyCancel

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Blog Post by Kayla

This is going to be celebration week on our blog! We have celebrated three birthdays in the last month and had an extra special surprise that Erika will share later on this week.  Today, I want to blog about my cute little nephew Heath. He is one month older than my little man and recently celebrated his first birthday on March 13th. It has been such a joy sharing in the pregnancy experience with my sister Tarah (the middle child of us three sisters), along with watching our son’s grow together in these last 12 months.  I can’t tell you how the months have just flown by! My sister Tarah tried to prepare me for the emotional roller coaster she experienced when Heath turned one; a special and joyous occasion that came with a few tears from mommy… okay, maybe more than just a few tears:)

I’m so blessed that God has given me this opportunity and some skills with photography to be able to capture all of the precious moments of our growing family.

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 My son, Wesley wanted to join in the fun of unwrapping Heath’s presents

Cousin LOVE!

This cutie pie was so exhausted from all of the activities that he couldn’t finish his dinner

Cake /

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Blog Post by Erika

In college I didn’t take my favorite class until senior year.  Sure, we all know how it goes…complete the dreaded course requirements and stress until your hair falls out and THEN you can have some fun.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to enroll in this class after completing the majority of my major requirements and trying to find some fillers for my last semester of college.  I took a creative writing class and ended up loving it!  For once, instead of being graded on perfect grammar and sentence structure, I was graded on creativity and it didn’t even matter if my grammar was correct or if my sentences were complete.  Absolute freedom.

One assignment consisted of writing a flash non-fiction piece so I decided to write about the time I went skydiving.  Yeah, I know – who would jump out of a perfectly good airplane?!?!  Well…ME!

Kayla and her husband, Mike, made plans to go and Mike – knowing his wife all too well – invited me in case Kayla chickened out.  My sister isn’t one for major thrills sooooo I was more than happy to tag along in hopes I would get the opportunity to check-off one of the outstanding items on my bucket list. Sure enough, she decided it was just a little too risky for her liking.  Therefore, I grasped the opportunity and ran with it.  The below piece gives you somewhat of an insight into what I experienced the moment I stepped foot into the airplane.  Happy reading!  :)





Approaching the only escape to that flying prison my eyes widened with screams.  Wondering how I even got 15,000 feet above my home where gravity knew its place.  Feelings of doubt rushed over me but it was too late to turn around.  My instructor started counting down my time left on solid ground or my time left to live, I wasn’t sure which one.  Who knew three seconds could last so long and come too fast all at the same time. 

The airplane disappeared, along with my sanity.

 120 MPH.  I fell faster than I’ve ever fallen before.  Held together by a single rope threaded by fear.  My eyes fluttered between water and wind, trying so hard to make out the smeared blur of colors.  My rapid heartbeat was hidden under a sea of adrenaline.  The wind slapped me around like a punching bag.  Taking its anger out on me, making it known that I was unwelcomed in this nameless world.  My instructor was trying to communicate to me, I knew what it was time to do. We went over it time and time again before we got into the airplane.  This cord would decide my fate.  I reached and missed.  Thank God my instructor had my back – literally.

My body jerked and shot straight up from where it came from.  I wasn’t expecting a pull and a jerk to bring me peace but I had never been so relieved.  After the physical and emotional abuse my body just underwent I was taken aback by the beauty that surrounded me.  Floating above all of humanity I turned into shades of blue.  Only to concern myself with the voice of the wind and the name of the sky.

I was flying.   


I’ve dreamed about this moment my whole life.  Doing something that I was told was impossible and simply insane.  After a fall like that, I’d have to agree that my sanity may be lost and I don’t know if it will ever return.  I don’t want to find it, I’ve seen a life not many have discovered.  The life of the careless and free.  These clouds know how to live.  Not a sound. Watching life unfold miles away but never hearing a cry.  The angry wind became calm and turned into my friend.  This life is for me.

The shifting pull of gravity brought us back to my home, a place where I so longed to be before my feet left that plane.  And now, even though I landed in a field surrounded by nothing but corn and grass, the chatter of the world suffocated my ears with noise louder than I remembered.  I long to fly with the clouds and wind again in their home where worries have never existed.


Photo credit to Chicagoland Skydiving Center


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Blog Post by Kayla

Well, I feel like it’s official…my baby boy is no longer a baby.  Wesley, my 11-month old son was initiated into the ‘big boy club’ with his first haircut, which was a bittersweet moment for me.  It’s amazing how a simple haircut can transform your once newborn into a cute toddler.  Everyone that has children has warned me to take in every little detail, and I have definitely cherished every moment – his first smile to even his little tempers.  I look at him now and think – ‘how can my baby, that I once protected in the womb turn so quickly into this little human with such personality?’  I must say, I had to fight back the tears when looking at him for the first time with his “new do”, but it will be a memorable moment that I will never forget.  And, the cool thing about it all was that it was a three generation haircut; my husband, father-in-law and Wesley all got their haircut together.

Before his haircut

Wesley also tasted a lollipop for the first time! As you can tell, he loved it! Oh, and that’s my husband Mike holding Wes.

Grandpa Jon, a.k.a. “Papa” watching Wesley get his haircut.

The finishing touches – a front spike!

Watching dad get his haircut.

This is usually how it happens, Wesley looks and smiles at the camera when posing with dad…..

And…this is how he poses with me!

  • Cassie - Incredible moments! You captured these precious expressions so beautifully that I felt as if I were there…very nice work.ReplyCancel

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Blog Post By Erika

My life revolves around three main categories…

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Ice cream

If it weren’t for God’s miraculous ways, I wouldn’t have the beautiful growing family I have today, my amazing boyfriend of three years, the ability to capture rare moments in time and, of course, ice cream (I give extra props to God for creating the person who invented ice cream!). Therefore, God will always be placed as number one on my favorites list.  Without Him, none of these wonderful things would be possible.

This blog is supposed to be about my ‘favorites,’ so I obviously had to start with the big man upstairs considering I owe my very existence to Him.

So here it goes…you are about to witness ‘Erika’s Favorites.’  I have always had a major sweet tooth, particularly for mint chocolate chip ice cream.  However, anything comprised of sugar doesn’t stand a chance when I’m around.  There’s nothing better than a good book, some sunshine and a glass of sweet iced tea in the summer time (add a beach into the mix and I’m in heaven!).  I LOVE writing.  Writing is a way for me to express myself when my words don’t seem to do the trick.  I find it hard to take time in between working full-time and focusing on photography to sit down and just write but I always feel like a huge weight has been lifted when I actually take the time to do it.  I guess it’s a form of therapy for me.

In general, I just love the beautiful creations placed right in front of our eyeballs on a daily basis.  My favorite time of the day is when the sun is beginning to set.  There isn’t a more beautiful scene then that.  What I love most about it is, even though the beautiful colors slowly dissolve, the night still shines with splendor.  Stars lay perfectly in the sky, untouched.  Though the stars look almost identical as they did the night before, they never stop amazing me.  In fact, my boyfriend, Tyler, is so awesome that for our one-year anniversary he actually named a star after us…talk about romantic!  I would say he’s a keeper.  And just because of that one outstanding act of valor, Tyler has been added to my favorites list.

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I don’t really have a favorite color; it seems to change with my mood.  I am currently on a yellow kick.  Tyler and I are painting his kitchen this color, just something about it adds a certain spark of happiness into my life.  But it definitely needs to be the right shade of yellow…our first attempt at painting his kitchen did not end as planned.  The fact that the yellow we chose was named “Manila Tint” should have probably been our first hint.  I don’t think many people would want their kitchen painted the same color as a manila envelop.  Needless to say, we had to repaint the walls and our next paint choice had a more welcoming name… “Song of Summer.”  You know right off the bat that has got to be better than “Manila Tint!”

Well, that basically wraps up my favorites.  Though I feel the need to briefly boast about my adorable nephews, who of course are also added to my favorites list.  Heath just turned one this past week and Wesley will be turning one in about a month.  These two little boys have changed my life tremendously within the last year.  They are a true blessing from God and I can’t wait to watch them grow.  In addition, my sister, Tarah, has another baby on the way!  I couldn’t be more excited to welcome another little person into our lives.  It’s amazing to watch our family – which was once comprised of five people – blossom into something so much more.

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