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Off to college (summer travel and dorm essentials)

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Disneyland (Sunny Side Up)

Hello friends! Also hello (and almost good-bye) to August! I’ve missed you all! I’ve missed blogging. Here’s a little (but also sort of long) re-cap of what we’ve been up to. I’m also sharing everything I bought for Ellie’s dorm room for those of you who are also sending kids to college this year or next!

August. It was the best of times.. it was the worst of times. ;) By the end of July summer was winding down with the kids so we decided to make the most of our time together during August.

Disneyland (Sunny Side Up)

We took the kids (and two close friends) ;) to Disneyland and had such a good time. Even waiting in line was fun with this crew. Our family is easily entertained.. ha.

Then the next day we packed up Ellie’s bedroom and she said good-bye to all of her friends in San Diego. Along with laughter and fun lots of tears have been shed this month. :( More on that at the end of this post.

Cabin life (Sunny Side Up)

We traveled to northern Utah and spent some time in this cozy cabin in Sundance. I knew we would be traveling for a couple of weeks and had planned to continue blogging during our time here, but the internet connection was terrible! We had lousy service and I was bummed I couldn’t post. The upside was that we had several days of uninterrupted family time which is always a good thing!

*Thank you to everyone who reached out to make sure we were ok! It meant so much to me that you noticed and missed my posts. I would have announced a little blog break if it was planned so I’m sorry about the crickets with no warning! Summer and travel and life (and bad wi-fi) ;) sort of took over this month.

Cabin life (Sunny Side Up)

Isn’t this just beautiful!? We hiked all over these mountains and watched movies and played games and just relaxed together. My husband and I live by the ocean now, but we both grew up and feel the most at home in places like this. The Utah mountains (especially in the summer!) are truly our happy place and we both dream of owning a cabin someday. Well.. truth. I dream of building or re-modeling and decorating a cabin someday and my husband dreams of napping in one. ;)

summer home (Sunny Side Up)

After some time in Sundance we took Addison to a summer camp for a week with a friend and picked up my nephew (Kole’s bestie) and drove to our hometown in southern Utah. We stayed at this fun vacation rental for a week to spend some time with family.

summer home (Sunny Side Up)

summer home (Sunny Side Up)

The boys spent a week living their best lives!

summer home (Sunny Side Up)

While Ellie and I got moving on all things college dorm.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{bath towels/table air fan/power strip surge protector w/ extension cord}

I waited to buy some things for her dorm because I wanted to see what we really needed and had space for, but these are a few things I knew she would need and bought ahead of time. Towels, a small fan, and cord for her phone/computer, etc.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{favorite sheets/nonstick pan/egg spatula/accent table lamp}

Like her mom El isn’t a big cook :) but she does love eggs for breakfast! I knew she would need her own pan and our favorite egg spatula. We also ordered our favorite Amazon sheets for her bed and this cute lamp for her desk.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{blue rope lights/clear acrylic jewelry organizer/wastebasket/mattress cover/white comforter}

El has these LED strip lights up in her bedroom at home and loves them so we picked up the blue lights for her dorm. I ordered a garbage can, jewelry box for her earrings, mattress pad/cover, and a white comforter. El picked out some posters of music groups she likes to hang on the wall.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

This acrylic jewelry box ended up having 4 drawers for earrings and two drawers with large spots for bracelets and necklaces. It’s so cute I ordered another one for Addison!

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{woven and glass soap pump/toothbrush holder/woven tissue cover}

I also picked up this cute soap holder, cup and tissue cover. Not for El but for my bathroom at home.. ha. Couldn’t resist!

After a fun week with family it was time for Kenny and I to divide and conquer. He had to take Addison and Kole back to San Diego to start school. I was staying with El to get her dorm ready. It was time for Kenny and the kids to say good-bye to Ellie and it was a rough night for our family. Addison and Kole are so close to their big sister. We all just cried. And hugged and cried some more. Kole couldn’t get to sleep that night he was sobbing so hard. I laid by him and hugged him and he told me “mom.. this is the saddest I’ve ever been.. it’s just too big.” I told him that we are so lucky that we are such a close family that it feels so big. That we will talk to Ellie every day and see her again before we know it. That everything was going to be ok. But tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was feeling the bigness of it too.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

The next morning Ellie and I woke up with puffy eyes and tried to re-group and get excited about organizing her room. When we pulled up at the building the football team was lined up to help kids move into the dorms. So much fun! They were all pumped up and playing music and tossing bags and suitcases into big bins to take up the elevators. We got everything moved into her room, snapped a couple of pictures and then got to work!

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up){extra large moving bags/luggage}

We ordered these extra large moving bags to move all of her things from San Diego and they were perfect! Strong and durable and easy to carry. We packed a lot into each bag. El is in a dorm with 6 girls and 4 of the rooms are private! One room is shared with 2 girls and then they have a common living area with a couch and a little kitchen. We got on the list early so she was able to get her own room. It’s tiny but so nice and new! I only had a day and a half before I had to head back to San Diego so our goal was to get everything moved in and organized. The decorating could wait! We started decorating but plan on adding some things over the next few months. Ellie is a minimalist and didn’t want much in her room and really it’s so small that it will feel cluttered quickly so we kept things pretty simple! After lots of sweat (it was SO hot), hard work and multiple trips to a near by Target we went from this picture above..

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

to this. We ended up just putting the blue lights around her window and she loves them at night!

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{white comforter/mattress pad}

Simple white bedding (always a good thing) and we will add an accent pillow or two later. Her floors are beautiful! We didn’t want to cover them much or have a rug that got in the way of the desk chair so we went with this small faux fur rug to just add a little something and give her a soft spot to step on when she wakes up. I also bought her this faux fur blanket to match and use when it cools off.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

We organized her clothes and packed the drawers that came in her room pretty full! I lined up her shoes on top of the drawers.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)We had a little extra space under her bed so we added this white 4-drawer tower for extra storage and this white laundry hamper to hold her bags. The laundry hamper rolls so it’s easy to get in and out of the corner when she needs something.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{artificial grass plant/natural frame/green frame/green bowl/clear acrylic jewelry organizer}

Her shelf is a work in progress but we found a cute faux plant (I had to give it a haircut to fit!) and a green bowl and a couple of frames we need to get pictures for. We didn’t have another spot for her jewelry box (she didn’t want it on her desk) so up it went! I ordered a step ladder for her so she can reach things easily.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

She has a large wall space between her desk and shelf. We measured it so that we can find something cute for that space. Maybe some art or a wall of pictures. I suggested a bulletin board of some sort but she’s not feeling it so we’re still tossing around ideas.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

Ellie has loved her stuffed animals her whole life and couldn’t leave home without a few that are especially sentimental. :)

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{water bottle/accent table lamp/table air fan/plant in plant stand/make-up mirror}

Her desk turned out cute with a few essentials! In a month or two she can move the fan (did I mention how hot it was!?).

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

This plant in a plant stand is too cute! She brought her favorite make-up mirror from home. I left that note in her car two years ago before a football game. She put it on her mirror and hasn’t taken it off since. :)

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

It was so hot on moving day (did I mention that? I think I did.) ;) and El loves the sound of a fan at night when she sleeps so we ended up buying this 5-speed tower fan in addition to the small fan on her desk. It’s awesome and I was so grateful to have it on while we were working in her room! It’s going to be perfect for her because it packs a big punch but doesn’t take up much space. She’s planning to leave this fan up all year but will move the desk fan when it cools off.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

We hung some of her posters on the wall above her fan. More posters are coming in the mail so she can cover a lot of that wall with favorite musicians. Blue painters tape for the win once again! :)

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

I bought this cute green striped bag for her laundry. So great because it has straps and can be worn as a backpack when it’s full! Perfect to toss on her back to take when it’s time to do laundry.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

{medium gray W-weave storage basket/half medium gray W-weave storage basket}

Her closet is open to the room and took a few hours to put together but we were so happy when it was done! Hoodies, tops, tanks.. everything is organized. We folded her jeans on the shelf in-between her clothes. She has quite a bit of closet space for a dorm! So nice. I bought some cute gray storage bins to set on top for extra random items.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

Like I said the decor it’s still a work in progress, but we were so happy to get all of her things moved in and at least put away and organized!

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

The girls have some shelf space in their bathroom below the sink and in by their shower so I don’t think she’ll need a caddy to carry bathroom items. I had this plush shag rug as an option for her room that we didn’t use so we put it in the bathroom. I wanted to share it because it’s such a great bathroom rug! Really soft and doesn’t slip. It comes in a gray and pink too. This white will probably get dirty but one nice thing about Target rugs – you can toss most of them in the wash and they come out great!

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

We finished her room and had a couple of hours left to spend together. We cried a lot. And laughed. And hugged. And cried some more. Saying good-bye to my sweet girl was heartbreaking for me.

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

I was literally dropping her off at Kindergarten and blogging about it all 5 minutes ago! I left her dorm and SOBBED. I drove to my parents house that night and then left for San Diego the next morning. My parents walked me out to my car before I left and I was crying and said to them “I’m so sorry I married Kenny and moved to Virginia!” We were all laughing in-between sobs but really – I get it now! How hard it is as a parent when your babies grow up and move out. I waved good-bye and pulled out of the driveway with my mom yelling “drive safe and text us when you get to Barstow! Then call when you get home!” I’m 45 years old and my mom still worries about me driving home safe. I’m worried about Ellie being sad and she is worried about me being sad about Ellie being sad. Moms never stop worrying and loving their kids!

Dorm Essentials (Sunny Side Up)

The drive back to San Diego felt longer than ever and I went through that entire box of tissues. Even my time management podcasts and audible books didn’t cheer me up (a first for me)! I’ve been home now for a few days and I’m still in such a funk. Something just feels off with her gone. I know I just need time. I know she is in such a good place and ready for this. I know she is going to do amazing things. But knowing all of that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It hurts when I pull in to our garage and her car isn’t there. It hurts when I go to the grocery store and remember to get “crunchy” grapes (El doesn’t like them too soft) and then remember I don’t need grapes at all because really she was the only one who ate them. When I check on my kids at night before I go to bed like I have every night since they were born and pass her empty bedroom with the fan turned off. It hurts. There is an ache in my heart and a lump in my throat that just isn’t leaving yet.

I’ve been trying to give myself some grace and just sit in the sadness of it all. This week I’m going to try to do the little things that always help when I’m sad and in a funk. Time outside in the sunshine, exercise, lunch/phone calls with good friends and of course.. organizing, decorating and blogging about it all. As sad as I am you can expect my house to be pretty decked for Fall this year with every drawer in tip top shape! Ha. Really though – organizing and decorating are always the best therapy for me.

To any moms going through this same thing (or to anyone reading who is going through a difficult time) hang in there. We won’t always feel this way! This hard phase of life will pass and get better with time. That doesn’t make it any less hard or sad, but it does help to remember. I wish I could meet you for lunch with a box of tissues and give you a huge hug.

Since we can’t all do that.. let’s get started on that junk drawer.


*Everything we bought for El’s dorm is linked below! 

xoxo, Erin
Join the Conversation

83 thoughts on “Off to college (summer travel and dorm essentials)

  1. Erin,
    My daughter is 41 years old and has lived far away for 20 years and I still feel the ache when she leaves! I wish El the very best during her first year of college. You are so right about moms always worrying!
    Hugs to you,

    PS – I have missed you this month! Glad you are back to blogging!

  2. It definitely is hard when our kids leave us. Time goes so fast and then we are left standing there wondering what just happened. It does get easier. But let me tell you what comes next!! Just when you are used to them living away, they have your first grandbaby and it is even worse being away from the grandbaby!! Oh the circle of life…!! Hang in there! Pretty soon you will be smiling again and the tears will stop. And life will start to feel “normal” again! Hugs!!

    1. Oh my word Annalisa I can only imagine! Kenny is formulating a plan to get all of our kids located in the same spot. Which he has NO control over.. but he is determined to try. Ha. So hard being away from loved ones! Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. Hugs right back! xo

    2. I second this. My daughter is 46 and I still vividly recall leaving her at college for the first time. My husband and I drove a short distance and parked in a hotel lot and sobbed. In fact, I’m tearing up a little reading your post. Now she has a family of her own and dropped her daughter off at college two years ago and went through the same thing. And no, you never stop worrying about your kids, then your in-law kids, and then your grandkids. All the love to you and your family. Thank you for your blog. I love it.

    3. Oh my gosh so right! I cried for 7 hour straight when my youngest son moved to Chicago. Plus my husband drove him so I was home alone. Then every time he left for 6 month stint in the Navy we all decided it was best to let him off at the curb at the airport. Then…. when they had our 1st granddaughter I would cry and cry at the airport and halfway home. It does get easier.

  3. Oh gosh, Erin. We don’t know each other but I have been following your blog for a bit now from just outside of NYC. This one hit me and I am crying along with you! I have a daughter who is starting her sophomore year in high school and I can see college looming in the background already. This letting go thing stinks! I am trying to jedi-mind trick my girls into going to college nearby but it is not working! Anyway – may you find joy in knowing that your daughter is going to love this new adventure and that she will be home for a break soon! Sending all good vibes your way!

    1. Thank you so much Kris! It’s so nice to “meet” you! It creeps up so quickly once they start high school doesn’t it!? Addison is a junior and starting to look at colleges and I want to scream NO! No college tours! No college plans and talk! It’s just too sad! Looming for sure. I could use some jedi-mind tricks over here so if you figure that out let me know! ;) XO

  4. Oh Erin — I know it’s so hard! Second year of taking my girl to college and I thought it would be easier — a little – but we both still cried. You and your husband are such great parents and have done a terrific job getting her ready for this next step. Send uplifting and funny sayings to her as that has helped me – and my daughter too – most of the time! :) Her room looks fabulous! What a great setup and closet!! I’m going to get busy decluttering too after I finish wandering around the house. Take care of yourself and your adorable family!

    1. Jan you are the sweetest! I have been wandering all morning! Ha. It’s so hard and I have a feeling I’ll feel the same way next year and the next and every time she leaves home. I’m happy to hear that even though you are crying it gets a little easier. This has been rough! Sending love to you and your sweet girl! I hope she has the best year. And happy organizing to us. :) XO

  5. Hugs to you, Erin! I know how hard this is. I was lucky that my oldest is living at home and my younger one is just half and hour away. I am not sure how I would handle them being in another state. Thank goodness for technology! I want to give you all the hugs! I’m so sorry it’s so hard, but that is a good thing, too. That means you are close. Pretty soon, hopefully, you’ll get all excited for her with all the new and exciting things she’ll be doing. The between time is hard, I know. This year, when my daughter went back to campus, she didn’t even really want me to go. I have only seen where she is staying in pictures. She had her friends there to help. I felt a good hard pang about it and then a huge sense of how proud I am of how independent she is becoming. I’m choosing to embrace the positive, she has truly grown so much. Mama, you are doing great and let yourself feel all the feels. And go work on that junk drawer. Take care.

    1. Thank you so much Jeanne! Your kind and encouraging comments always make my day. I remember our messages when your girls were just graduating from high school! Time flies too quickly. I’m so happy they are close to you! I’m secretly praying that after my girls move out for college they will come back! If not I may have to move to them. :) XO

  6. You are a great mom. I know it hurts. I’m right there with you. It has helped me to remind myself that this is how it is supposed to be- raise our kids to fly. To go do new things and live their dreams. Somehow that all helps me a little.

    On a side note :) Can you please please share your time management podcasts you love?

    1. Kelly you are too kind. Thank you! I’m sorry you are in the thick of it too. Knowing that does help.. a little. :) Sending hugs your way! And there are vso many great podcasts! I actually have a few specific episodes I could recommend. I’m gong to put up a Friday 5 post this week and will include my favorites there so I have some time to round them all up for you! I’ll add my favorite books too! Coming soon. :)

    2. Right, this is what we WANT for our kids! It would be much worse if they never moved on with their lives. It took some getting used to when my first one moved away to college but I kept telling myself her never leaving wasn’t what I wanted either. And now that we’re empty nest with four kids in 3 states , I absolutely love this stage of life. We work hard to raise kids to function successfully away from us!

  7. Oh Erin! That photo of you and Ellie in the car got me. 😢 My oldest is a sophomore and I know what’s coming…and sooner than I think. He and I were in the car last week and drove by a carnival that we took him to when he was little and I started crying right there remembering how much fun he would have going to that carnival and the joy on his sweet little face when he went on the rides. Time just goes way too fast and it’s hard on us mamas. Hang in there and I’ll be thinking of you both! ❤️

    1. Leah! I’ve had experiences like that too where you remember something and cry on the spot! It really does all just go by too quickly. Once they start high school it feels like everything moves in triple time. Enjoy the next few years with your sweet boy for sure! Thank you so much for your sweet message! It helps to know we are all in this together. xo

  8. OH this made me cry so much. My daughter will be off to University in the UK next year and I am already feeling so sad about it and I still have a year to go! I completely get it! It’s wonderful for them though and they need to go off and spread their wings but its not easy being mum left behind. I am going to be buying all the tissues and organising the whole house (when I am upset or stressed I organise!!) – so at least my house will be spotless :)


    1. It’s so hard Caroline! The best and the worst all at the same time! Enjoy this next year with her for sure. And definitely stock up on tissues and organizers! Ha. :) XO

  9. Oh Erin!!! I just about started crying myself reading this post! My daughter is a senior this year, we are deep into college applications, and I am already so sad about next year. Like you said—so excited for them to learn and grow but it seriously feels like they were babies two minutes ago. Wishing Ellie (and you!!) a wonderful first year of college!!

    1. Thank you so much Rachael! It’s brutal! Once they become seniors and you start talking college you live with a pit in your stomach! Everything becomes the “last.” But it’s such a beautiful thing too.. I’m so proud of her and you will feel the same. A roller coaster of emotions! Enjoy this last year with your sweet girl! xo

  10. I can 100% relate to you. My son (oldest) is 4 hours away and until we had to leave I was so positive and excited for this next adventure. It hit me hard! I found deep cleaning his room and bathroom was helpful :) Hang in there. We are not alone.

    1. It hits hard when you actually say good-bye doesn’t it!? Some deep cleaning is definitely in my future! Take it out on that bathroom floor.. ha! Thank you Diane. Sending hugs your way! xo

  11. Aww Erin. I was excited to read this blog. I cried along with you. This is a blog I’ll come back to in 2 years when my 1st born heads to college. I love how you all love another. Hugs to you. El will do great. Be well.

    1. Thank you so much Wanja! You are so incredibly kind. Enjoy the next couple of years.. it goes by so quickly! Sending big hugs back. :)

  12. Erin—-BIG HUG! This is a difficult stage for sure. I’ve been there. I think you’re on the right track by filling up your days with fun things. Besides girlfriend lunches, maybe pedicure, retail therapy, and ice cream! It takes time to accept these new stages, especially for moms. You did a fabulous job taking us along with setting up the dorm room. Good job! I’ll be thinking of you in the days to come. Soon you’ll adapt to this season when you know your girl is having fun with new friends and a new adventure! Hugs!

    1. Oh thank you so much Holly! I love your list! Pedicures, retail therapy and ice cream.. why didn’t I think of those!? Definitely adding them to this week’s agenda. :) You are the sweetest. Thank you again .. sending hugs back! xo

  13. Years later my father told me that on the drive home from leaving me in my dorm room at university for the first time, he, my mother, and my three siblings felt like someone in the family had gone forever. I was so happy and excited while my family was heartbroken. I have tears running down my face as I type. It will get better, I promise. What a terrific job you and Ellie did with her room. Thank goodness for Facetime and phones to stay in touch now. My mother insisted that I write and mail a letter home each week. We weren’t able to do phone calls because long distance calls were too expensive in those days. All the best as your family adjusts to this new reality. All will be well.

    1. Cheryl! We have talked about those same things! How much better it is now that we can FaceTime and talk every day so easily. It’s so hard on the family staying behind! It is really hitting home for me how hard it has been for my mom not having me close all these years. She always talks about it and I thought I got it but I didn’t REALLY understand the heartache like I do now. Time to all move into one big cul-de-sac together! Ha. Thank you so much for your sweet message! xo

  14. You are such a good mom! My son is soon to turn 12 and I’m sitting here bawling reading this college post. I feel for you!!! She will do great and she knows you will always be there when she needs you!

    1. Thank you so much Rebecca! So sweet of you to say! Kole is 12 and I seriously want to bottle him up and just freeze him in time! It goes by too quickly. Enjoy him every day! Thanks again for your sweet message. Means so much to me! xo

  15. I remember the college drop off so well! I cried all the way from Florida to Virginia after. It was so hard! And then after every phone call! But it’s all a part of life. Now my youngest lives in England and I only see him a few times a year. 😭😭😭

  16. I enjoyed your blog. Years ago I went through that. Last month my daughter got married so you realize how on their own they are. We talk every day. But they are designing and shaping their own life. Someone told me it will all be ok because you and their dad did such a good job raising the.

    1. Thank you Marie! Married! Oh my word.. I’m sure that brought all the emotions once again. Huge congratulations! I love that you still talk every day! It’s definitely what you want for them.. just hard to have them gone. :( Sending hugs your way! xo

  17. Oh, Erin! I read this with tears in my eyes. I have an only child and I’ve been dreading this day since she started middle school. I have a few more years with her at home, but I know my time is getting shorter and I actually worry about myself when she finally does graduate and leave my nest. I cry regularly just thinking about it and I have years! Its so hard when they are your LIFE for so long then *poof* they are independent and don’t need to be your life anymore.

    Hang in there and be so, so, so proud of what a great kid El is and that you have prepared her for this leap! It will be Christmas break in no time!! XOXO

    1. Thank you so much Melissa! Honestly it’s so true! They are your WORLD and then all of the sudden you are just done taking care of them that way. I have so many friends going through it and who have gone through it and really struggle. It’s hard on all moms in one way or another! Your kids do start to get more and more busy in the teen years and especially high school. I feel like those years prepped me a little.. Ellie was just gone so much. It’s so important to find hobbies and passions you love. I know that is really going to help me with this transition although nothing can stop the heartache! Counting down until I can see her again although I don’t think I’ll make it to Christmas. I’m hoping I can stay off a plane until at least October.. ha! :) Thank you for your kind words.. they mean so much to me! xo

  18. We leave to take my son to college on Sunday. I am feeling it already. He will be 1900 miles from home. I am going to miss him, but I am excited for him too. Hugs to you and Ellie. You have done a good job, Mom.

  19. This. Broke. My. Heart. I am feeling your pain, crying along with you, and praying for your peace. My time is coming in a couple years sending mine off as well and I felt every word of this. You got this! Know that you and your family are being lifted up right now by this community that you always cheer up and lift up…

    1. Laura! Your last sentence.. now I’m bawling again! That means the world to me and I feel your love and support so much. I’m so grateful to have people like you reading my blog. You are all such a blessing in my life. So incredibly thoughtful of you. Thank you! xo

  20. I can relate to the tears, but it gets better. We dropped our son off for his sophomore year at college and were high-fiving 😀, because he loves what he’s doing (of course leaving your boys is WAY different than leaving your girls IMO). After a summer of having a child who is “adulting” living at home, we were all ready to get back to our new normal (until we send another one off next year) 😢!

    1. Laura I love that you were high-fiving! I so hope that is us in a few years! It makes all the difference when they are happy and thriving! I’ve heard from so many friends that it can be hard having them back home after they have moved out.. ha ha. You love it but they are adults and living under your rules but not really (I can totally see the challenges there)! Cheers to a new normal and routines! I can’t even think about doing this all over again with daughter #2. Sending big hugs your way! xo

  21. Oh Erin I am so sorry!! My daughter started kindergarten last week so that hit home for me 😭 I know it goes by so fast. Praying she has the most amazing time at college! I LOVED college and know it was some of my best years, and I’m sure it will be for her too!!

    1. Thank you so much Lindsey! I am praying she loves it too! It will be so much easier on me if she is happy and thriving! Kindergarten is a huge tear jerker too. I bawled when all 3 of mine started! Like college it’s one of those major milestones when you feel a shift and leave a stage with them behind. Enjoy it all! Everyone tells you it goes by quickly but wow.. it really does. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! xo

  22. Erin, oh my goodness – I knew it would be hard when sweet El left for college but little did I know that I, too, would be crying with all of you!! How blessed you all are to love each other so much! Precious picture of El & her bunny!
    I just read an article that Joanna Gaines wrote about her son leaving for college – the tears and heartache. Such a hard part of parenting – letting them go and spread their wings. But they will always be your babies and you’ll have such sweet times every time they come back home! Sounds like you all had a wonderful summer – I’m glad you had time away and could enjoy having time just being together.
    Sending you hugs and good thoughts that your first born will find her way and be amazing and so will you. Again – you are so blessed having such a loving family – you have each other – you’ll make it together! XOXO

  23. Erin, I’m sitting here bawling. It’s such a bitter sweet time. We give them wings to fly only to secretly wish we could clip them when the time comes. I remember her love for panda bears and to see her favorite one is what did me in.
    She’s going to do amazing and have so much fun. Hang in there, Erin. You will see her soon. Sending you a big hug. I hope you can feel it. ❤️ Xo

  24. I’m here to let you the sadness will pass…I cried for days when my oldest left for college 26 years ago…I called my dad and sobbed, “I can’t quit crying!” She grew into a beautiful woman; an amazing RN with an amazing career! She has given me 2 perfect grandchildren, very talented and both National Honor Society kiddos! Will praying for your comfort and Ellie’s success…

  25. I didn’t even want to read this blog post because I knew I would cry and my last daughter left for college 15 years ago! I did! I remember those days so well! Your writing brought back all those memories!
    I sent three girls off to college and cried all the way home every time! This many years later I now have my youngest in San Diego, oldest in Naples, Fl and middle girl close by here in North Florida. It’s still hard to say goodbye but now I miss the grandkids, too! I’m glad they all left (that was the goal all along-butterfly wings) but that they also have the roots and still come home regularly. It sounds like you are well armed with lots to do to keep you busy! The one thing I would remind you of is to check in on those other two and make sure they aren’t having problems missing a sibling. My youngest informed me just a few years ago about how much it hurt after both her sisters left and she was the only one left. I never would have guessed that by the way she acted and the things she said at the time! Teens hide stuff deep!
    Anyway-enjoy those two at home and send lots of care packages! My girls still remember those, even after all these years! Thanks for sharing the tough times as well as the great times!

  26. Eeeks! I’m not even a mom and your words and story made me feel chocked up. I remember when I moved to Colorado Springs and my mom begged me not to. She told me or maybe my dad told me that after I left my mom would sit in my old bedroom and cry. I would call her every night from Colorado and it seems our relationship got even closer during that time because I told her everything that was happening in my life there. Long story short, after 8 years of being away I moved back to town where I finally met the man I married. My time away was good for me to meet new people, come into my own, and grow my faith in Christ. You’re right that El’s time away is good for her, and maybe for your whole family as well. You’ll be even closer and time together will be even more sweeter.

  27. Erin,
    Long time reader here. As a mother I just wanted to say I really felt the heartache in your words and I hope it gets a little better as the days go by. Ellie is going to do Great! You prepared her well!
    I often think of that quote “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
    Anytime I’m visiting my parents and it’s time to go home my dad always has to call out as I’m getting into the car “drive safe and watch out for any deer in the road! “ He’s been doing that since I was a teenager and somehow it never gets old.

  28. Aww, I remember the pain you’re experiencing now. Time does heal until they come home for break then the emptiness again😢. The picture of you two with red eyes got mine to leaking here in NC. I’m thankful she’s near your parents though. God’s got her just where he wants her so keep that in your heart. Keep us posted on how she’s doing. ❤️

  29. Erin,
    This was a great post for any mom going thru this or planning on it soon OR for a mom that has been there done that!
    I relate to the first day of kindergarten with my youngest and the one that may well have been my hardest! The day I dropped her off for kindergarten after 2 full years of preschool (you would think I would have been ready!?!) I knew it would be bad, but I figured I could hold it together. NOT SO! Suddenly, from the line of kids I heard her call “I love you mamma!” that was it. Cloud burst and I just sat in my car crying, unable to drive for 30 mins! With this particular child, by the time college began, we were BOTH READY! LOL-REALLY READY so it was a bit different as it is with each and every child. Trust me, you might have THAT experience with one of your others! Your BOTH being REALLY READY!
    Erin, what a wonderful job you did with products for the dorm and isn’t it just crazy HOW nice the dorms are now!? I was blown away when I was doing this for the last time and realized that the dorm “rooms” are really suites now and even with state-of-the-art kitchenettes! WHAT happened to the microwave placed on top of the mini fridge!? Worse even, that thing you plug in and put into a cup to get a cup of hot water??? With all the kids addicted to Starbucks cold brew and, hot cocoa, Capuchinos, etc. now they would never accept that “appliance” and a jar of instant coffee or a packet of SWISS MISS cocoa!
    Erin, your pictures are wonderful and tell a lot about your wonderful family. I enjoy every min. reading your posts and YES! I did miss you! A lot! You are my number one MOOD LIFTER! I REALLY mean that!
    Take care and keep VERY busy! Turkey day is coming!
    PS. we have a niece starting the college process right now and leaving for college Aug. 2023 She is already collecting her dorm “products”. I will share many of your ideas with her and her mom as they are traveling here from Va. this week and I see them on the weekend!

  30. Oh my! I cried reading this and thinking about my daughters going to college someday (they are 1 and 2 years old ;) but I know the time flies.) Big hugs to you. You and your husband have done a wonderful job raising her, and she will do great. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier, though, I know…

  31. I literally just dropped my youngest and only girl off at college last Thursday and it’s taking some adjustment to not have her and her noise in the house. But I’m a second timer; my son went to college in 2017 and then to the military in 2019 so that’s been extremely difficult for me! Give yourself plenty of grace!!! ((HUGS))

  32. Dear Erin,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time….you have a beautiful family and have done a wonderful job raising your kids to be prepared to go out into the world! In June, we dropped our daughter off at the Naval Academy for plebe summer…and today was her first day of school at the Naval Academy (which has been her dream school forever). Each day does get a little easier and on those bad days, my husband and I just remind ourselves that we raised her to be independent, follow her dreams and she is where she is meant to be! Her brother is a junior in high school….we are trying to be in the moment and enjoy the time we have left with him in the house.
    Thank you for sharing your life with this reader and making the world a little lighter place. She is going to do great! And so will you…giving yourself Grace is the best gift of all.

  33. Oh just absolutely sobbing reading this! I have a son who is 14 months old and reading this made me ugly cry thinking about him leaving me in 17 years!!!
    Like you told your son, you are so lucky to have a close family that loves each other so much which is why it’s all the more difficult. I’m sure Ellie will absolutely thrive! (Now I need to go apologize to my mom for getting married and also moving to Virginia 🤣)

  34. I dropped my oldest off 2 1/2 weeks ago for her 3rd year of college to prepare for Sorority Recruitment. I feel like it gets easier each year and they seem to take less each year as well, so that part improves as well. My mom’s philosophy is that you have to give them roots to give them wings and once that is done they tend to fly high! I left for college at 17 (turned 18, 3 weeks later) and never went back home. My husband and i have raised our girls in a similar manner, having lived all over the globe (oldest was born in Bangkok, while my Husband’s job took us abroad) and have loved every minute of it. Just remember – this is the natural progression of parenting and it is where they are suppose to be and she will do awesome!! Hope getting the other 2 ready to start school will help you with your funk! Routines are always a good thing!! ;)

    p.s. please share the time mgmt podcasts! always need help in that arena!

  35. Awe, thinking of you! This post really touched home as my oldest just got his drivers license and I will be in your spot in two short years. Wishing your daughter an amazing first year of college.

  36. {{Hugs}} to you. I know how you feel. I KNOW. It’s so hard. All your people have already “said it all”. . .thank you for that vulnerable picture of you and El. . .it really is just a stage of life that is HARD. But a stage that we are blessed to have. A podcaster pointed her listeners to this article from Rob Lowe — it is a good one.
    Organizing helps me too!! You’ll find your balance. . .and until then, know you are not alone.

  37. This post made me tear up, it’s been 20 years since my eldest went off to college. Sending you virtual hugs. It does get better! Promise!!! When you talk to her and she so excited about the friends she’s made and the fun she’s having, it will make your heart happy:)
    I’m thankful all is well, I was praying for you during the long “silence”.

  38. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 … and I don’t even have kids! The reciprocated love and strong bonds between your family members is a testament to your wonderful parenting. Really enjoyed this. 💖 Reuniting will be all the sweeter.

  39. Oh Erin! I cried just reading this. As you mentioned, Ellie will do amazing things and you will share some experiences differently now. I can’t imagine when my daughter gets to Uni…….few more years yet but the time will come. Keep your chin up and go easy on yourself. Sending you lots of hugs. xo

  40. Oh Erin! I have been thinking of you and noticed your blogging absence and was hoping all was ok with your family. I am so glad to hear you took the time to soak in those last weeks of Summer with your family. While I have 3 daughters, two in middle school and 1 in elementary school – I can feel your aching heart as I know these emotions are all waiting for me in just a few short years. Your children are so blessed to have you as their loving Mom!! HUGS! XO, Heather

  41. Oh my goodness, Erin. When you wrote about not buying grapes anymore, I swear I almost burst into tears. My oldest is still just in middle school, but I feel like my grape day is on the horizon and I can’t stand it! One piece of consolation– I remember how bittersweet it was for me to leave for college, but I also remember how close my mom and I stayed, and how close we are still. Up until very recently, I would even still climb into in her lap. Now she just groans, “Too heavy!” Oh mom….

  42. Crying at my computer for you, and your family, and in advance for me and mine in two years when this is us. But also bookmarking it to come back to and read again then for the commiserating and also the product recommendations/dorm room inspiration. Thank you for sharing, and big hugs to you and your family.

  43. Erin, Read this with all the feelings! This is just one of the first steps in many as our kids leave the nest. my daughter just sent me a picture of her feeding our new grandson baby food for the first time, and I flashed back to feeding her for the first time! 😭😭😭 My baby feeding her baby! There’s many feels along this road, some harder than others. Just know it’s because your so close, and this is a result of you being awesome parents! It makes the time together that more special! 💖

  44. Glad you’re back—have missed your posts! I have more sad news for you—it doesn’t get easier when you drop them off for their second or third year. 😢 My daughter is starting her third year and I was just as sad. The one thing that helps is knowing that this is what she’s supposed to be doing & she is having a wonderful time at college. But I do have good news for you—when they come home each time they’re a bit more mature & responsible. It’s so fun to see and hear their adulting stories. Wishing you all a great school year!

  45. I loved this post so much❤️❤️ We went through this last year with our daughter and I completely remember her brothers sobbing as we left and being in that funk where you just can’t do anything because the only thing your mind wants to think about is her. Praying you can find something to distract your mind and ease your heart ❤️. Still tears the second year but it has been much easier!

  46. I’m in AZ right now dropping off my son for college. He is my 3rd to leave for college and it doesn’t get easier, unfortunately! His school (it’s a small school) had all the new freshman say goodbye to their parents after a family event then they all walked out while they played First Day of My Life over the speakers. I lost it then and couldn’t hold back the tears as I watched my “baby” walk out!

  47. Oh Erin-
    Just reading this makes my heart ache for you. 💔 Im sure it’s definitely a strange feeling. Our girls are teens. Our oldest is really close in age to your oldest & Just the changes around our home such as a part time job, driving, now driving her sister, I went with her to open a checking account. These changes have been so weird. I keep seeing my little piggytail kindergartener. They’re growing up & it’s beautiful & sad at the same time.
    Hopefully one day soon, your lump in throat will dissappear & you can talk about your daughter without tears. In the meantime, we’ll pass the tissues back & forth 😉🥺😢

  48. This is beautiful. I’m sorry you’re hurting but what lucky kids to have such a caring and sweet Mum!
    My sweet darlings are 12 so not quite at leaving stage yet, but not too far away. I’m going to remember your advice for those harder days ahead. I hope she has a wonderful college experience.

  49. My girls are 9 and 10 and I am bawling reading this. I’m not ready for them to grow up, and it goes so fast. Keeping your family in my thoughts and I hope this hard time moves fastT!

  50. Wow. I feel stupid, but my oldest daughter is just off to middle school. I have spent the past two years at home with all four plus husband because of covid, long story, virtual school etc. I just realized in five years my oldest will be 18. I told her to please stay home, I’ll make her a pretty room, her favourite meals, everything will be beautiful… A garden, a pool … Just please don’t leave. Not exactly healthy of me but the alternative…. Is unthinkable!

  51. Lol- Im reading w teary eyes! I just dropped my daughter off for college in Point Loma all the way from Chicago and was also crying today for breaking my own parents heart 37 years ago! Oh to keep everyone in the nest, cozy and close😩
    What mattress pad did you buy? We couldn’t find a nice cottony one for a twin XL
    Thanks for sharing so honestly- really helps ease the pain!

  52. Oh Erin, my mom heart goes out to you. No one tells you that you can feel such happiness and deep sadness at the same time. I can relate to the tears, and the sadness as a family of being apart. My three oldest all moved during the same week, and it feels as though my heart is now residing at three new homes. It has been hard on our youngest, who, like Cole and Ellie, misses her older siblings. My husband had really good advice to focus on the blessing of our kids pursuing their futures, and being happy and excited about their new opportunities. It does help, but a good cry is pretty helpful too. Another thing that helps is knowing when we will get together again so we focus on that. I still cry when I leave my mom to go home, it’s hard to be apart from those we love. It sure makes the time together all the more sweet. Thinking of you, and sending you strength, big hugs and soft Kleenex from Canada.

  53. Oh my… I can relate to this post. Somehow I have stumbled across your blog (due to a refrigerator organization post :-) and this one hits home. My husband and I have three in college and one at home. All three would envy the closet space here! One daughter shares a room with one other girl and her closet is about a 1/4 of what your daughter has. So glad for under bed storage. Our other two kids (one son and another daughter) each share a room with TWO other people. Those are some tight spaces. With next week being thanksgiving, I am looking forward to having everyone back home for the week! And Christmas, it cannot come soon enough!

    1. So nice to “meet” you Sandi! Thank you for your fun comment and enjoy having your kids home over the holidays! I feel the same way.. can’t come soon enough! :) Happy Thanksgiving! xo

  54. How sad 😢 reading about you and your daughter but also happy for & excited for her.
    She will love 💗 college and grow so much. I too went through the same just a couple of weeks ago. Loved 🥰 reading about your summer stories. I also too bought almost all the same things for her dorm. It’s funny 😄 how much moms have in common.

    1. Oh hang in there Lucy! It’s an adjustment right!? We moms really do have so much in common and at the end of the day we just love our kids so much and want the world for them! Wishing both you and your daughter the best year! xo

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