WHITNEY: Summer offers promise of family fun

I jumped out of a tree into the Muskegon River while I was about 28 weeks pregnant. It's true, and maybe irresponsible, but it was one of my all-star moments from the YOLO Summer of 2012.

Let's back it up a bit. We found out we were expecting right before the summer of 2012 and formed a pact to do literally everything we could before D-Day (delivery day?) in October.

In our defense, you've heard the horror stories people tell you about babies and parenting, right? You're about to traverse a hellscape of sleeplessness, and kiss goodbye those late mornings in bed! Your children will ruin all your earthly possession with peanut butter fingerprints and Crayola.

Or, ladies, the war-time-esque stories women tell when recounting the birth of their children? "I had 78 hours of back labor, but I made it through thanks to the yoga ball. Make sure you get a yoga ball."

So during the YOLO Summer of 2012 — a title that came from the then-popular song "The Motto" by Drake, in which the singer advises that You Only Live Once — I bought a yoga ball. And Bryan and I embarked on a series of crazy adventures unmatched previously or since. We went to concerts. We roadtripped every weekend for pleasure and weddings. We ate everything and saw everything, and even planned an entire trip to Detroit with the sole destinations being a Lions game and Slow's Bar-B-Q  in Corktown. We tubed the Muskegon River several times, and jumped out of a tree north of Highbanks Park, which I'm told has since been removed.

I can't independently verify if the tree still stands because what I feared during the YOLO Summer of 2012 has turned out to be true — I haven't been tubing, or to a concert, or to Detroit since becoming a parent. There's a lot of things I haven't done since then, in fact. I really haven't slept a full night and my phone has been ruined (twice!) by my daughter, who thinks it looks better after being slammed into the concrete.

I started talking about YOLO Summer of 2012 with a friend this week as we walked over the Muskegon River on an 80-degree day and fantasized about jumping in. I kind of started to lament the fact that we haven't been tubing since then because now it requires advance preparation and a babysitter and a timeline for when we'll return and yadda yadda. But he quickly talked me down, reminding me that there's a lot of fun things we can do this summer that we couldn't before, and most can involve our child.

As this summer approaches, looking so much different than the last and certainly unlike the summer of 2012, I'm thinking of making a new summer bucket list of all the things we need to do with Olivia. The fog of new parenthood will be fully lifted this summer, when I won't be worrying about teething-related fevers on 100-degree days or packing my entire household to take a weekend away. We're firmly in the independence-building toddler years now, and so much of those worries are melting away like popsicles on hot sidewalks.

Now we're looking forward to running up and down sandy beaches, exploring children's zoos and taking a first horseback ride with Aunt Breck. Chances are Olivia won't sleep through the Fourth of July fireworks this year, and she'll probably have even more fun at our local parades. We can take a walk to get our first ice cream cone and take a boat ride with grandpa, if I don't have a panic attack.

You only live once before you have a kid, but this summer looks like it's going to knock the past two summer out of the park.