OMG summer. OK, let’s just start here: this post is fueled by enormous amounts of sugar. Remember #Whole30? Me neither. In the past four days I’ve consumed approximately eight pounds of peanut butter fudge and also root beer. It’s been good, because summer is a “Yes!” season for me, but also gracious, my heart is pounding out of my chest.* Another chapter in the book of imbalance that I could absolutely write – the up and down and yes and no and MORE and less – and then the grace I’m trying to give myself while I figure out that there’s really nothing to figure out. Our days are just strung together by one big choice-after-choice necklace, and I always did prefer mismatched beads to shiny pearls. Imbalance is beautiful. Imperfections are rad.

And if that wasn’t a tangent, you can’t call Dorothy Zobrnak a cheesecake lover. Anyway.


We jetted town to Michigan last week, which is one of my favorite places in the whole world. (It has nothing to do with those Pure Michigan commercials, although sort of yes.) I just love how the coast is dotted with piers and dunes and cafes and kids and it all at once hits me with nostalgia for Redondo Beach without having to actually live in Redondo Beach again (because hello, crazy mortgage and even crazier traffic). But Michigan. It’s just perfection for me. Best of both worlds, and every time I visit I smack myself in the face and wonder why we don’t make the trek more often. It’s like, two hours. What’s wrong with us?


Here’s what’s wrong with us: I’m the planner in the family, and when the planner in the family is a lover of routine and structure and has a bit of an aversion to spontaneity, it means you rarely leave town unless you schedule the fun. I did good at that this year, by the way, because we have been trotting the heck out of this globe. (Proud Mary moment, Erin. Well done. Three cheers.) But sometimes I forget to schedule the fun because I make it into a big thing, like it’s too much work to play. Like, we have to pack the cooler and charge the iPad and we can’t forget the monitor, and we need to leave right this moment if we want Bee to nap in the car. It’s ridiculous and I’m constantly telling myself to stop making play so much work. (I’m very aware of the backwards state of that sentence.) So, this weekend. Progress.

We hopped in the car with approximately zero nervous breakdowns from yours truly, mostly because Ken packed the cooler but also because I went to yoga that morning and felt especially Zen. I don’t know, maybe I’m growing up. And Bee napped as we listened to her Chinese nursery rhyme CD that she loves (Ni Wa Wa #7 is a hit) and chatted about work and responsibility and grown-up things and then two hours later, boom. We were in paradise.

And there were tanned shoulders and chilled rose and chocolate-covered potato chips and brilliant sunsets and fistfuls of blackberries and sandy beach blankets and long, good chats in the most perfectly mild 70-degree evenings and Calgon, take me away. These are the days that will sustain us Midwesterners through winter, I’m sure of it. Our little hearts will climb into the bottom of that canoe and hibernate in the memories of summer.

Bee was more into sand than she’s ever been, and is also mildly into socializing with other kids, so there was this blissful moment where she approached a gaggle of other kids and proceeded to offer her golf clubs in exchange for their frisbee and a plastic cup (low standards, that one) and they played together for like, at least 45 minutes. I had an uninterrupted conversation with my friend Caroline and both of my hands were free and no one was climbing on me or putting sand in my belly button and I could make eye contact and it was just, bliss.


And then the little one returned with her new Frisbee transaction and we waded in the water and made sand cookies, and that was bliss, too. All of it was, because it’s summer in the Midwest and we’re alive and free and good and well.

As a kid, I used to keep a journal of all of our family vacations. I’d transform into Harriet the Spy minus the yellow raincoat and I’d write down everything about everyone – always embellished, ever optimized for a dramatic reading – and I’d completely forgotten about them until just recently. It was my first foray into blogging, and I’d use big words and fancy ellipses where they didn’t belong – “and then Kelly expectorated her chicken sandwich onto the surface below…” – and I love that I have those journals for prosperity. There were no Instagrams; just pen and paper and wild tween imaginations. And how lucky I was to write it all down.


How lucky we are now to write it all down.

OK, summer so far for you. Where’d you go? What’re you doing? Spill it.

*Also, can we talk about what a horrible mother I am when I eat sugar? Let’s go there someday.

  • I’m originally from Michigan, and there’s nothing more special to me than visiting the Michigan coastline. The sleeping bear dunes are my favorite place on earth – if you haven’t been there yet, it’s the best place in the state!! I love seeing other people get excited about Michigan – it’s just so great!



  • We just came back from a trip to Sleeping Bear……Michigan sure is gorgeous. I had no idea until moving to Indy a year ago. I’m curious- what are your favorite spots? Ps. We rented the cutest place via airbnb (you can see pics on my blog) if you want to get away farther north!

    • OMG thanks for sharing; I definitely want to check out your pics! We go to Sawyer when we visit our friends (their parents have a cabin), but next week we’re trying Saugatuck and South Haven for the first time. I also love Holland; their downtown is pretty darling. :)

  • We’re going camping on the Olympic Peninsula for for Nathaniel’s (ACK!) FOURTH!!! birthday in August and we just found out today that we’re going to L.A. for nearly a week super soon! :)

  • Well, we did the Hawaii thing and I look back at that (a month ago) and wonder what we did for 6 days. I didn’t take many pictures. Now Forrest and I are off to a family reunion in Santa Rosa, CA on Saturday, to visit extended family on his Daddy’s side, sit by the pool, visit the beach, bottle wine, and generally have a fabulous time (while missing Daddy at home/work). I definitely want to hit the Oregon beach soon, and still need to take kiddo to visit the Children’s Museum and the Zoo. And maybe a car show or something – he’s really into cars and Big Trucks and REALLY Big Trucks these days.

    There’s such happy in this post, Erin. Thank you for sharing. hugs!

  • I am reading this from Australia (Melbourne!) freezing and longing for December.
    There is nothing better than writing in a journal while holidaying!

  • I second the endorsement of Sleeping Bear. My family is in northern Ohio and it is by FAR the closest and most beautiful beach/park around. We stay in Traverse City when we go and it is the most relaxing getaway weekend I can think of. Also, if you’re in Traverse City I highly recommend eating at Patisserie Amie and Frenchie’s!!!

  • oooh summer… Lovely photographs. And i loved how you mentioned Harriet- went back in time with memories about that film :-)

  • What a wonderful story and vacation! So fun see you and the family are getting out and about to explore new things with your little one, she’s growing up so fast! Take care!

  • We’re off to Ireland at the end of August (it’s my childhood home) and I cannot wait to go. Even though there is a lot of family obligation there, it soothes my soul to be back home and the scenery is honestly some of the most beautiful in the world.

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