Thursday, June 25, 2015

Week 2 of Summer Vacation

 When I say I am going to do something, I do it.  Give me a task, and I will see it through to the end, including the epilogue.

Perseverance is my super power.

Until it turns into my kryptonite.

When I put on my horse blinders to get the job done, I don’t always evaluate how things are going. I become so focused that I don’t pay attention to the signals that it might not be working.

So tired that I’m dizzy?  Push through.  Shallow breath from pushing through? Keep going.  There is a finish line to cross (and if I’m first, that’s even better).

When I said that I wanted to embrace my inner fun parent , I really didn’t mean embrace.  I meant a bear hug so fierce that I wouldn’t even notice if anyone was suffocating.

Even me.

By the end of week 2 of summer vacation, that’s where I’m at.  Exhausted.  Out of breath.

We did a whole summer’s worth of stuff in two weeks.

At our staycation in Ann Arbor, we started with sandwiches from Zingerman’s.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation zingermans in ann arbor
This sandwich made me so happy.

Then we took a stroll around Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan campus.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation summer vacation university of ann arbor michigan
She was curious about what the campus looked like. . . 
although,we are not what you would call a die hard U of M family.

Afterwards, we went to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum which was awesome!

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation ann arbor hands-on museum michigan
I seriously lack in the science knowledge department.
I love that this place filled in some blanks with a lot of fun.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation ann arbor hands-on museum michigan
Standing inside a giant bubble can now be checked off
on the ultimate lifetime experience list.

Then we had some fun visiting my family that lives near Ann Arbor and ate some really delicious ice cream.

We’ve also spent some time in the after-hours clinic for an infected mosquito bite.

We celebrated Father’s Day.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation father's day

We have had play dates at the park.

Play dates at home.

And appointments.

Pool time.

Tennis lessons.

Swim practices and meets.

T-ball games.

Oh, we also went to the Imagine Dragons concert – our first family concert!

3 out of 4 loved it! One of us fell asleep.
During the concert.  Maybe next time.

All in addition to home renovation projects like the kitchen 

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation kitchen renovation
Our new granite for the countertops.

and patio steps.
erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot week 2 of summer vacation patio step renovation
Delays due to ant colonies and the original steps made from incorrect materials.
Now we have to order new pavers .
I wanted to cry.

I often wonder why I am so damn tired and feel mentally stretched to the limit, but when I write all this down it becomes crystal clear.

What is not crystal clear is why I continue down this path of being a fun parent when it is stressing me out.

I think it comes down to this: after years of being confined by baby/toddler routines and then constricted by the school schedule, I want to make the most of our free time.

I want to travel!

I want the kids to play with their friends!

I want to spontaneously eat ice cream for dinner!

I want to make memories that will last a lifetime! 

I want to feel alive!

But I’m tired.  Although I want my kids to have a great summer and I want to do all of the things, it’s not necessarily filling up my soul.

Moving forward, I am going to fight the urge to fill up all of the free time.

Take deep breaths and recharge.

Summer in an endurance sport, and I cannot be burned out before July.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Let the Summer Adventures Begin

Summer break has officially begun! 

We’ve celebrated with ice cream.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer adventures ice cream fun parent

We’ve visited the library.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer adventures library fun parent

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer adventures library fun parent

But I am ready embrace the thing that I love most about summer (besides an ice cold beer): travel.

I love to travel, and I want the kids to love traveling.  I talked about this last year (along with how things just did not go how I had hoped). 

In order to celebrate my inner fun parent, I decided to kick off summer break with a mini staycation adventure to Ann Arbor.

I am going to try *really* hard to keep my expectations closer to the realistic side of the spectrum and as far away as idealist as possible.

As we embark on our first summer adventure of the season, I thought I would re-share my Live in the D: Summer Travel Tips with Kids post again.

Hope these help you as much as they have helped me!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Break Eve

 Today is Summer Break Eve.  I have that swirling feeling of emotions in my stomach when I am on the brink of a big change.

I am mourning the quiet part of the morning after the rush to get the kids on the bus. Something about the quiet makes the coffee taste especially good. Or maybe it is just because I was able to drink it hot without interruptions. 

I will also miss going out to lunch wherever I wanted to.

Oh, and working without having to keep an ear out for the kids, I am really going to miss that, too.

But I am also excited for the adventures we are going to take now that I don't need to be the warden of homework and the morning routine. 

Last week I talked about being a fun parent, and in the trenches of routine and obligations, I often forget to have fun.  But I really want to embrace my inner fun parent, like the one who showed up to theTaylor Swift concert

This summer, maybe we’ll have ice cream for dinner. 

Or breakfast at the park. 

Maybe we’ll wake up one day without any plans and end up going on an all-day adventure.

I know that they will still need to eat their vegetables and read and brush their teeth.  But somewhere in there, I want them to know it’s OK to embrace spontaneity and be carefree (which is not to be confused with carelessness, like riding a bike without a helmet or eating a strawberry popsicle on the microfiber chair without a napkin – EEK)!

I love making plans because I know that I parent best when we are doing things rather than sticking around the house, but I need to remember to give myself a break. Like this summer when I vowed that we just needed sprinklers, hot dogs, and icecream

Spending less time on meal planning will allow me to honor my inner fun parent.  (See hot dogs and ice cream).  It can be so exhausting to have all the meals figured out and then make the meals and then hope everyone eats the meals and then cleaning up after the meals.  It is my firm belief a minimum of 75% of parenting revolves around food.

If we are going to focus on having fun and making memories, some things have got to go to the wayside.

So here, on Summer Break Eve, I feel fresh and ready to embrace these next few months! 

Listen, I know it is very likely probable that sometime soon after break has begun, I will have lost my shit while dealing with the kids.

But right now, today I am feeling hopeful that my fun parent outlook will be able to take us through the season with some grace and good times.

Because without hope, I will be miserable, and it is will be a long, hot dismal summer.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer break eve fun parent
Hey, I forgot to mention that I got a new bike for Mother's Day.
Nothing says fun parent like wearing your pajamas and posing with
a bike in the family room, right?
Can't wait to see what kind of adventures we have on our bikes this summer!

How are you feeling about summer break?  How are you going to make it through the season without loosing your mind?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Being the Fun Parent: Taylor Swift 1989 Concert

This weekend, I took Marie to the Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour concert for her 9th birthday. 

It was awesome to see her light up when Taylor took the stage . . .

 and then again when Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons took the stage – EEK!!

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Going to this concert filled me up in a soul-satisfying kind of way. I felt light and happy, and the good kind of exhausted.

To see that kind of joy in her eyes, those same eyes that harbor anxiety will forever be burned into my memory.

I also will remember the breezy, delicious feeling of being The Fun Parent.

Ah, The Fun Parent.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Being the Fun Parent at the Taylor Swift 1989 Concert
Look at me! I'm the fun parent!
Also, thank you to the super fans that were behind us.
Your homemade light up signs were not only awesomely creative, but gave great backlighting!

I don’t often let my fun parent flag fly.  It’s hard to when I’m always! being! responsible!

Meal planning. 


Pack lunches. 

Make dinner. 



Plan activities. 

Take them to said activities. 

The never-ending bedtime routine.

Then there is the worry that comes along with motherhood.  I worry about if I am doing it right.  Forget about right, am I doing it just good enough to avoid making mistakes that result in irreparable damages?

When I see the world through my children’s eyes, I am often reminded of my childhood wounds of being bullied and feeling like I would never fit in. I worry a lot about making sure my children are emotionally healthy to deal with an emotionally unhealthy world.

But then there are flashes when I remember the magic of my own childhood.  Taking Marie to this concert brought back my memories of my first concert: Madonna’s Who’s that Girl Tour in 1987. 

My mom, dad, brother, and I along with another family sat in the nosebleed seats of the now destroyed Pontiac Silverdome.  I was about 10 years old, and I will never forget her singing “Open Your Heart” in her black teddy with gold tassels on her boobs.

It was awesome!

I remember that rush of seeing someone who was (and still is) bigger! than! life!  I listened to her cassette tapes over and over on my Fisher Price tape recorder and there she was – in person – singing those songs.  Mind. Blown.

I easily get caught up in all of the hardships of motherhood.  But reminiscing about my first concert reminds me that fun should to be a priority.  Not just something fun for the them, the kids, but fun for all of us. 

At the Taylor Swift concert, that heavy feeling of accountability melted away, and we were two people in the moment having genuine fun together.

In between those spaces of obligations and duties, memories are made.  The good kind of memories.  The kind that create bonds.

Marie might never remember the hours I sat in the stands watching her swim meets or the daily effort that went into packing her lunches.

But I am hoping that she forever remember staying out until 1am dancing at the Taylor Swift concert, eating popcorn and dipping dots with her mom.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Being the Fun Parent at the Taylor Swift 1989 Concert

I know that I will.