Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Thomas: On Your Sixth Birthday

Dear Thomas,

You are six years old! Six. Years. Old.  I can hardly believe it because it just seems like yesterday that I took one look at your sweet face and fell in love with you. It was unlike anything I had ever known before.  

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot To Thomas On Your Sixth Birthday

And that feeling of wonder mixed with love has been pretty much the same ever since.

I never knew boyhood from this side: I see your fierce independence when you push a chair to the refrigerator and get the huge jug of orange juice all by yourself.  Yet I still see how fragile you are when you refuse to go into a dark room all by yourself and cuddle your body into a little ball right on my lap.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot To Thomas On Your Sixth Birthday

I am constantly amazed at how you interact with the world – you do everything big, especially the way you care about the people.  You are always quick to help dad empty the dishwasher and always make sure that everyone is cozy on the couch when we watch a movie.  You are going to make a great dad or police officer or firefighter or veterinarian or whatever you decide to do.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot To Thomas On Your Sixth Birthday

My birthday wish for you is to always have your light shine through, to follow your heart even if it is pulling you to do something different from everyone else.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot To Thomas On Your Sixth Birthday
See this look with that light in your eye?
You love life, and it loves you right back.

I hope that you will successfully walk that fine line of caring for others, but remaining true to yourself.

I have been parenting long enough to know that I will not be able to protect you from everything that comes across your path.  But I promise I will do whatever I need to do guard that light in your eye and the tenderness in your heart.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy!

Love always,

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot To Thomas On Your Sixth Birthday

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Traveling without kids

This week my husband and I leave for California part business conference/part fun. The last time we left together on a trip like this was two years ago when his conference took us to Marco Island.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot traveling without kids
The last time we traveled together

The time before that was Dallas. Hours before we were supposed to be on the plane, Marie had just been diagnosed with pneumonia. I struggled if I should stay home, but the grandparents assured me she would be ok. 

She was. 

I was not. 

I cried a lot and wondered what the hell I was doing. 

For the past three years, life has prevented me from traveling with Harrington to these amazing conference destinations. One time it was when I started a new job. Another time was when Thomas started Kindergarten this fall. Then there was the time I had to cancel the trip to Lake Tahoe/Napa when Marie having a hard time adjusting to a new school.

But this time, as of right now typing this, I am on a plane to California. Please note, I did cry the ugly cry at our boarding gate as I wolfed down my Egg McMuffin minus Canadian bacon because too much salt before flying is never a good idea.  I have been so fully entrenched in taking care of the kids, it felt impossible for me to leave, especially when they don’t want me to leave.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot traveling without kids
Super excited that my non-waterproof liquid eyeliner stood the test of the ugly cry.

Marie is nervous about me leaving (actually, really super anxious), which makes me really super anxious. And than anxiety morphs itself into the strongest, most aggressive kind of mom guilt. 

So Marie asked me to make her coconut cream pie awhile ago, so I finally got around to that. 

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot traveling without kids
Just happy she didn't ask for a pony

I baked a ton of their breakfast muffins so they can keep up the same routine. I've been stockpiling all of their favorite snacks and treats. I show my love through food. 

I also having lovingly prepared countdown bags, an idea I got from my couisin years ago. Each day, they open a bag until we get home so they have a visual of when we get back. And it helps with my mom guilt, and they get fun little treats so everyone wins, really. 

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot traveling without kids
All of the gift bags.

I'm sure everything is going to be fine. And if not, they have enough carbs and ice cream to help them through the bumps. 

As for me, I am planning on the beautiful scenery and beverages of Napa and Sonoma will help me with the bumps along the way.

How often do you travel away from your kids? What do you do to make it easier?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring and Transitions

This week, there have been a string of sunny days with temps in the high 40s, low 50s.  In Michigan, just about everyone is rejoicing: spring is here!

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot spring transitions
The kids are excited that they *only* needed to wear a fleece and winter boots.

I do not share in the same delight.

Believe me when I am say that I am so ready for winter to be over, but March, and, if I am being totally honest, a large part of April is mostly the transition to spring. That final push to get through the last bit of winter is really difficult for me to embrace.  Warm, sunny days are not here yet.  I have a hard time cheering for dirty, melting snow and brown, dingy grass. 
Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot spring transitions

Sometimes I look to retail therapy to help me get through this challenging time.

Maybe a fun, cheery raincoat would help me feel brighter?

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot spring transitions
And I thought these cute flats would help, too.

But generally speaking, I do have difficulty with transitions. 
When I was in the 3rd grade, I hid my yellow blankie that I still needed at bedtime in my closet when my friends would come over so they wouldn’t know that I still sleep with it.  The summer between elementary school and junior high, I still played with my Jem dolls (well, not actually played with them, just dressed them up and did their hair  . . . because that is way less awkward than imaginative play).

Even when I moved out of my parents house into my first apartment after college, you know, after I lived pretty much lived all by myself for years, I still had a difficult time making that move.

When I look back on these consistently distressing examples and my challenges with springtime, I think the one thing that is missing here is a ritual that says, “This phase has officially ended.  We are now moving into this new phase.  Officially.”

I think I would fare better if there was something to mark the beginning of the spring, kind of like when we put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and take it down soon after New Year’s Day.  I thought about Easter, but I don’t want this springtime celebration to be affiliated with a holiday that already has its own traditions, like dying eggs or Easter baskets or figuring out Easter plans.

I just want it to be easy and breezy – like the way spring should be.

So sometime in April, I will be having my First Annual Spring Celebration.

I have no idea what I am going to do, but I have been looking to Pinterest  for guidance.  Obviously.

So far, I think asparagus and daffodils need to be involved, but other than that, I am not sure.

I am open to suggestions.   Actually, please give me some suggestions because I am lost here.

Do you have a difficult time with transitions?  How do you celebrate spring?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Treating Myself: Daffodils and Sister Pie

 I am sick of winter – Sick. Of. It.  

I am tired of the cold, the snow, and the pervasiveness of winter germs.


I try not to complain about the ever-looming winter because I live in the frozen tundra of the Midwest.   But being cooped up in -25 degree weather along with taking care of sick children has made this winter way too intense.  My mental health is suffering

So I decided I needed to do little things to brighten up these long days of winter.

I indulged in a $3 bouquet of daffodils at Trader Joe's. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I don't usually get excited about bringing something else in my life that needs care and attention, but I could not resist how springy and friendly they looked.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Treating Myself Flowers
Ray of sunshine

I also did something that I had been waiting to do for a long time: I ordered pies and cookies from Sister Pie, a Detroit-based company.  I learned about them when we crossed path at Live in the D.  They totally had me at buckwheat chocolate chips cookies.

For months, I have been drooling over their baked goods photos on Facebook, waiting for a special occasion so I could order them. I decided doing something nice for myself was special occasion enough. 

How can you say no to that?!

So here’s a breakdown of what came in the February sampler:

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Treating Myself Sister Pie
Rose Pistachio and Grapefruit Lavender Shortbread Cookies

The Rose Pistachio is a buttery cookie that has just the right amount of sweetness with a nice crunch from the pistachio bits. There is also this fragrant, sweet rose flavor that is highlighted with by a slightly salty flavor at the end. And the rose glaze is delicious!  This is quite possibly the most unique cookie I have ever tasted.

The Grapefruit Lavender cookie also has the buttery shortbread  and has a bright citrus flavor paired against the subtle lavender that is just lovely.   

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Treating Myself Sister Pie
Honey Lemon Meringue Pie

I don't like lemon meringue pie. When I was a little girl obsessed with her Strawberry Shortcake dolls, I could never say “meringue” in Lemon Meringue’s name.   My mom said if I practiced and said it right, she would make me a lemon meringue pie. I practiced and practiced and finally said it correctly.

It was the most vile dessert ever - who would want to eat this bitter pie with meringue that looked like whipped cream, but clearly was not as delicious as whipped cream?! I accepted my destiny as a person who would never understand lemon meringue pie’s appeal.

Until I tried Sister Pie's Honey Lemon Meringue Pie. The luscious, creamy filling was the perfect balance of tart and sweet.  The meringue was delectable. Thank you, Sister Pie, for showing me just how wonderful lemon meringue pie can be. 

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Treating Myself Sister Pie
Salted Maple Pie

Imagine taking the maple syrup part of a pancake breakfast and turning it into it's own creamy dessert housed in the perfect piecrust (which by the way, are made with high-fat French butter.  I’m sure it is not a coincidence that they are the most rich, flakey pie crusts I’ve ever had). That is what this pie tastes like. It is flecked with these delicate salt flakes that totally brings out the maple-y sweetness. 

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Treating Myself Sister Pie
Red Hot Chocolate Pie

When I was in college, my friend lived in Mexico for a semester. When she came back, she brought me these squares of chocolate with cinnamon and spices to melt into hot chocolate. It was the most complex flavored hot chocolate I'd ever had - a far cry from the artificially flavored Swiss Miss I'd been drinking for years in the dorm cafeteria. 

Red Hot Chocolate pie reminds me of that Mexican hot chocolate. It's chocolaty and rich, but not super sweet with a hint of cinnamon. Then there is this cayenne spicy heat at the end that just makes this the best chocolate pie ever. 

Are you ready for this winter to be over?  What’s your favorite way to treat yourself?

**I was not compensated by Sister Pie or Trader Joe's.  I bought these delicious baked goods and beautiful flowers with my own money and opinions are mine.