Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It ain't over until the droopy, dead Christmas tree comes down.

It's 2am on Christmas Eve. Well technically it is Christmas Day but I haven't been to bed so I haven't switched over. I should be in bed but it is so quiet and comfortable and my tree is so pretty. I don't want it all to end.

I just finished the laying out of Santa gifts and I have that wonderful feeling of accomplishment and Christmas spirit. I really really just don't want it to be over. So I will sit here a little longer.

I do love Christmas Day and all the fun and family that goes with it, but I must admit I've always been a little partial to Christmas Eve.

I'm a fan of anticipation. I like waiting in suspense until the big event. I don't look for my
Presents or try to guess what they are. I will voluntarily cover my eyes if I walk in on a surprise for me. So the waiting really is most of the fun. Christmas Day is the big show and once it's over the excitement is gone.

/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Well guess who fell asleep writing that blog post on Christmas Eve. This girl. And then there was non stop Christmasing until this moment. This very quiet, relaxed, happy moment. Christmas was the usual beautiful whirlwind of presents, candy, family, delicious food, noise, traveling, more food, and pure joy. We wouldn't have it any other way. But I tell you as I sit here with my feet propped up on the coffee table staring at my slightly droopy Christmas tree, I am happy to be home and back to (somewhat) normal.

We hit my hometown of Senatobia first and enjoyed laughing and eating with my parents and siblings and all the cousins, then we headed down to visit Steve's family in Brandon where we enjoyed more good conversation, food, and cousin play time. Yes I love all of the fun and laughter, but I have become a bit of an introvert in my old age and need a break from all the holly jollies after a while and look forward to quiet couch time. (Give me a day or two and Ill be ready to join the festivities again, just in time for my annual Girls' Trip to South Mississippi. More on that later)

So we made it home mid/late afternoon yesterday and began the great fun of finding where to put all the new gifts when our house seems to already be full of junk. I told Steve this morning that the week after Christmas was such a let down when I was a child, but now as a mother, I weirdly enjoy the practice of getting rid of the old and organizing the new and getting ready for the new year.

I love the start of the new year and all the possibilities. I always have big dreams for weight loss, and healthy eating, and staying on top of the cleaning, emailing, organizing, cooking, and keeping the kids alive. This is when I am my most positive self... Here's hoping I can keep it up!!

Here are a few of my favorite moments from the Christmas festivities. I am so thankful for my goofy family and the joy that they bring to my life!

Waiting patiently

You never know what the favorite gift will be.

home girl with a fancy doll

The stage is set for Dowdle Christmas

Owen and Walt were this year's official "Santas"

Sweet girls

These two were buddies all day

The three musketeers. I love matching pjs.

When the pjs come on that's when the fun begins!

This is us. This is also why I am who I am.

The Summy Cousins

What it looks like when you have enjoyed Christmas to the fullest

December 2010
I might be able to fit all of these new toys/presents in my house, but then I will have to get rid of one of my kids.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lysol is my new favorite Holiday Scent

It is Monday the 19th. Christmas is less than a week away. Normally that would stress me, but I think we are ready this year. We spent this past weekend just relishing our favorite season. It was a lovely weekend full of all the Christmassy things I love and I couldn't wait to write all about it before going to bed on Sunday night, until all of the sudden it was less than lovely.

We are suffering a minor hiccup in our usual holiday merriment due to the fact that Louisa fell victim to the stomach bug last night around 9pm. She is a pretty easy patient and fell right to sleep after she was (and me, and bathroom, and the living room, and all the blankets were) cleaned up. That is when the fun of parenthood begins.

I really never feel more like a true mother than when I can catch vomit in my bare hands, calmly move the child to the bathtub, and begin mopping every surface of the house with high powered disinfectant without missing a beat (or even gagging). And if any one reading shaking their heads because I should be using more environmentally safe cleaners in my home and around my children, please let me assure you, this was no time for plant based materials. If I had a hazmat suit lying around, I would have used it. Besides, I'm not one to shy away from chemicals in my attempt to rid my house of germs. I have been known to spray my children with Lysol when they come into the house during flu season. (I tell them to close their eyes and hold their breath first so I'm sure it's fine...right?)

Santa is laughing at me isn't he?

But with any luck she will be on the mend in about 24 hours and thanks to some quality isolation time the rest of us will hopefully be spared. Of course, things are looking up because it is daylight and everyone is happy and perky. If anyone else is going to fall ill we know from Mom-experience that it will happen in the middle of the night tonight. Because vomit and fever always happen in the middle of the night. Further proving my mom's theory of "nothing good happens after midnight." A theory that is true for both sicknesses and high school shenanigans.

That's the thing about Christmas spirit. Even the late night stomach bug couldn't ruin all the good feels about our weekend. Because Christmas break began on Friday and the kid's excitement is so contagious. We busted out of Farmington Elementary at 12pm and headed straight to Macy's to deposit our wish lists in the big red Santa mail box. This has been a small yearly tradition that was started because...

A. Amelia loves a mall. Like, watch Tiffany sing "I Think We're Alone Now", loves it. She totally should have been born in the 80s so she could have experienced the hay-day of a Galleria Mall.

B. Also, my children tend to get a bit of stage fright talking to the Man himself. There have been a few tears shed after a Santa visit because someone forgot to mention that one thing they wanted most in the world. You remember Ralphie's embarrassing football moment at the department store when he couldn't remember the name of that beloved rifle? Well, that doesn't just happen in the movies.

Anyway, the letter writing is way less pressure to perform and you can proof read and erase. Very important cause you gots to get that Santa list right, or who knows what crazy stuff you will get.
We still visit santa every year, but only for the obligatory picture.

Friday we had a wonderful party with our friends from our Sunday School class at church. Always such a fun night capped off with a rowdy game of Dirty Santa. My friend Kress and her husband were the lucky recipients of this awesome real life Awkward Family Photo that pre dates camera phones and therefore no one said "yikes! we look scared! Let's take another one."

Saturday was rainy and lazy and filled with christmas movies and present wrapping and take out Chinese food. There is nothing else to say about that. It was perfect. Oh wait, and then the we lost power that prompted a candlelit story time and a quick family run to Walgreens in our PJs for flashlight batteries. When the power came back on and we were tucking the kids in bed, Walt said "That was the funnest night ever!" (Steve and I are nailing this parenting thing. We should totally write a book)

Sunday cold and very Decemberish and we were all smiles on our way to church which is a real Christmas miracle. We then enjoyed lunch and naps and I had a chance to start working on this watercolor for a dear friend. This is just the beginning, but hopefully it is on the way to being what she wants for her mother-in-law's gift. From time to time I paint or draw houses for people so they can remember that special place they called home. It's not a big money maker or anything, but it pays for my Starbucks.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer
is singing loud for all to hear! -Buddy the Elf

After another lazy afternoon we headed back to church to watch the kids' choir concert. In a very un-Summy move we threw caution to the wind and decided to squeeze in a trip to Starry Nights (one of our favorite Memphis Holiday events) on the way home from church. We are not good and spur of the moment things and therefore there were more arguments and crying than I would like, but we did it and can mark it off our 2016 Christmas Bucket List.

I don't know about yall, but that list gets harder and harder to accomplish every year. They are growing so fast and we are getting so busy that it takes real effort to do all of our favorites. The cookie baking, the Zoo Lights, the Starry Nights, The gingerbread houses, Christmas movies and Christmas parties. It's alot and if Im not careful I can let it all stress me out and lose the meaning of the season.

There is one tradition that we make a point to keep it up and that is our Advent/Jesse Tree. We started it 3 years ago and it is a family favorite. Not every night is a complete worship experience because.... 3 of whom is Louisa. But every night in December we read God's word as a family and point it back to Jesus. So if we don't get those Gingerbread houses made this year, at least we have that.

Merry Christmas!
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!" Luke 2:11

December 2013
The crazy holiday baking is in full swing. Consequently, the crazy holiday binge eating has also commenced. Which will soon be followed by the crazy post-holiday fad diet and 2014 workout overdose. Happy Happy Christmas to All!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Just Blousing....I mean Browsing. The Lost Art of Gift Giving

We are in full blown Christmas mode now. The house is decorated (inside and out) and the cookies have been made (and eaten). The kids have only one week left of school and so the countdown is on to get as much shopping done before I have an entourage with me 24/7.

My mom came up to Memphis on Tuesday for our annual Mother/Daughter shopping day. Truth be told, we spent more time chatting and lunching and pointing out ideas for our family than actually purchasing. She and I are the same person in a lot of ways especially when it comes to gift buying. We take great pride in searching for and choosing the perfect gift for each person on our list. Of course this also means we are usually finishing our shopping on the 23rd of December, but that is the price you pay for being picky.

You know what has been helpful for me this year? Those lists that everyone and their mother create to help people on their "perfect gift" quest. You know the ones. They are all over social media.... Top 50 gifts for Her. Top 10 gifts for Him (because 10 items is seriously all you can think of for a man). The best gifts for little girls, teenage boys, and your dog. There is a list out there for everyone. I think more people should take advantage of these lists. Why not? The writer of the list has done the leg work for you so you can show up on Christmas morning with an age/gender appropriate gift for your favorite niece, uncle, or sister-in-law and look like a Gift Genius.

Instead there is a new trend. (I say new but it really has been around all of my adulthood although it seems to get more and more extreme every year.) Im not sure what really started it. Maybe it was the gift registry business that became more hi-tech in the early 2000s. Before Y2K to register for a Wedding gift you just went to Dillard's/Goldsmith's/McRae's or down to the local "fancy dish store" and picked out your favorite china and Authur Court pattern and called it a day. But then came the ability to scan any and everything you could possibly want at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and other big box stores. I feel like this was the beginning of people saying "No it's not the thought that counts. You strayed from my pre-approved list? You are dead to me." 

Now I must point out that I am not pointing fingers at anyone. This is a First World Wide epidemic. And we are all caught up in it. In an effort to take the guess work out of the holiday season, we have somehow forgotten the meaning of a gift. We have streamlined gift giving almost to the point of making it obsolete.

Think back to the 80s (which everyone knows I like to refer to as the Golden Years). No one told their family what to give them for Christmas. That's how Ralphie ended up with that god awful pink bunny costume, and Kevin MacAllister received that sweater with the big bird knitted on it. Those gifts weren't on a wish list or registry. Those gifts were specially picked out by the gift giver and memories were made. Back then, the only person you could get away with telling exactly what you wanted for Christmas was Santa Claus himself. Because that was the cornerstone of your entire relationship with St. Nick. Anyone else who was giving you a gift had a relationship with you beyond presents. They knew you personally and therefore the gift was representation of that relationship and their desire to bring joy into your life.

Can you tell this has been on my mind? I've been growing frustrated for the past couple of years with the exchanging of the wish lists and couldn't really figure out why. The joy was fading. I started resenting the whole gift giving part of Christmas and felt like it was affecting how my kids viewed gift giving. I want my kids to be able to receive a gift from someone that is not exactly what they want and graciously say thank you because they know that someone picked that for them. I want them to have those memories. I don't want them to grow up thinking everyone gets exactly what they want all of the time. Even at Christmas.

It took reading the Christmas story for the 1 millionth time to remind me of the purpose of a gift. We can look to the wisemen for our inspiration.

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great JOY. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:10-11

These men came to see Jesus and they brought him wonderful gifts that were picked out specifically for Him. And they had such joy in their hearts because of the opportunity to give something to the Messiah.

Joy. That is what were are supposed to feel this time of year. The custom of giving gifts is meant to remind us of the first Christmas and the gift that God gave us in Christ Jesus.

I would love to get away from the passing lists back and forth and get back to heart of gift giving. I want to think and pray for the person I am buying for and look forward to the surprise and joy on their face when they open it. It may not be the exact thing they would buy for themselves, but maybe, just maybe, it is something they love and didn't even know they wanted. Because I don't want to reduce Christmas presents to a glorified to-do list. Before we know it, my sister and I will be exchanging toilet paper and Diet Cokes (as if I drink diet anything) and wonder why we aren't feeling the Christmas spirit.

We need to stop phoning it in. If we are exchanging gifts with someone, they must be someone important in our lives. I know if we really think about them, we can come up with something that would bring them joy. Sure it is a little harder, but I think everyone on my list deserves more than just what they need from the store.

So if you are reading this, would you join me at reclaiming the fun and joy of a thoughtful and surprising gift? Let's give ourselves the freedom to love on each other and remember those wise men who looked forward to presenting their finest gifts to a baby king. Gifts that could not be found on the Target baby registry.

December 2011
Guess what you get when you mix multiple batches of cookies, several sticks of butter, Christmas Tree cakes, peppermint mochas, lots of Coke, 3 thanksgiving dinners, marathon carb loading, and a 4 course holiday progressive dinner?... A muffin top.  (Some things never change)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Once upon a time I had a blog. Then November happened.

So, Wow. November was fast.  I have been saying for a few years that November has become the new December as far as busy-ness. At least it is that way in the Summy home. But then, December is still December so really I guess that makes no sense and was just my attempt at an excuse for going MIA for an entire month.

That entire last paragraph was written sort of apologetically to all my readers, but at this point I am pretty sure I am talking to myself (which is a shameful admission that I read my own blog. Is that weird?) which is fine really since I pointed out in the beginning of my blogging days that my number one reason for writing is so when my mind leaves me for Dementia (which I truly believe will happen the way most hypochondriacs do) I will be able to go back and read about my exciting day to day life.

November really was crazy. Good crazy, but still. Most of the month was devoted to Amelia's school play. I gushed like a super proud stage mom here when she scored the lead role in Annie Jr and it was everything we expected and more! It was a tough few months of rehearsals and memorizing and that was evident by the dip in grades on her report card and the rise of the numbers on my bathroom scale. But we made it and the show was spectacular. Here are a few pics from my favorite moments.

We moved straight from play week into Thanksgiving week with no chance to catch our breath. It's okay because holiday season is my jam. I LOVE it! We celebrated Thanksgiving at my sister's new home which is only 10 mins away so it was really like a special gift just for our little family. For the first time in years, we were able to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and still make it for the family lunch. We were then back home and in our pjs by the time the sun went down. That's my kind of holiday.

The Christmas music has been flowing in this house for a full month and we aren't slowing down any time soon. As soon as Thanksgiving was over, it was time to pack up the pumpkins and get the house ready for Christmas decoration explosion (that word sounds a bit contrary to the spirit of the true meaning of Christmas. But I assure you we are thinking of Jesus' birth the whole time!).  As we cleaned the house in preparation for the usual Christmas decor (I couldn't bear the thought of putting tons of greenery on top of already dusty furniture) I kept thinking it was a picture of rebuilding and preparing the temple and for the coming of the Messiah. Okay, maybe comparing my house to the temple of our Lord is a stretch, but it still gave the cleaning process a little more meaning and therefore gave me a little extra motivation. (I need any and all motivation for cleaning these days. Momming is hard.)

And with the cleaning done it was time to select that most important of Christmas symbols (no not a stupid tie with the Santa Clauses on it... thank you Audrey Griswold) the Summy family Christmas tree. We do it up real nice and drive all the way to the nearest Lowes and select one of the prettiest 6-7ft frasier firs they have in stock. Because we are fancy like that.

Lou walked right up to this itty bitty tree and said
"Look guys! I found the perfect tree!"

Those are the November highlights. And these are a few of the other things I've been obsessing over this month.

I love a good Christmas album. And this beautiful one from Christy Nockels does not disappoint.

Ok yall. I am sure you have heard people mention The Crown on Netflix. But I need to give my 2 cents because it is so wonderful. I am desperately trying to pace myself so that I don't finish season one too quickly and then fall into a deep depression. I love everything about British royalty and The King's Speech is on of my most favorite movies. This seems like a perfect sequel to that beautiful movie. Beautiful is the best word for it. The costumes, the scenery, the score. I love it all. So much that I can watch an episode while running 4 miles on the treadmill and be blissfully happy the entire time. (if you know my hatred for running, you know that is saying a lot!)

Have you heard of this little thing called the Gilmore Girls revival? Obviously this is all anyone has talked about for the last week. I was all in. I have always loved these GGirls and therefore watched these back to back until the wee hours of the morning. It was so lovely to see all my old friends again and it gave me all of the comfort feelings of the past. I was not super happy with how it all shook out in the end, but it was very well done and entertaining.

So that about covers November. Looking forward to all that December has to offer! It really is the most wonderful time of year!!


November 2011
I just realized that I have unintentionally and unknowingly cut red meat out of my diet. Now if only I could accidentally quit eating sugar.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nothing a Little "Fa la la la" Can't Fix

It's November and I haven't written in weeks. This has become a form of therapy for me, and I have felt a little frustrated recently not having a chance to blah blah blah out all the extra words in my head.

After my wonderful anniversary trip the rest of October basically punked out on us and forgot it was supposed to be fall. It's November now and it's still stupid hot in the South. Which, yes, we are accustomed to the heat, but not in November. That's just mean and spiteful. You hear me November? You better step it up. 

There. I have said my piece about the crazy weather and promise to move on. I'm sitting here in a Chick Fil A today writing on an iPad. It is so not ideal, but with life as busy as it is right now I needed to kill two birds with one stone and get out of my dirty house. So here I am, lunching while I write in a place that was cleaned by someone other than me. 

I feel a little silly here pecking away on this oversized phone and suddenly realize I could use a laptop for these types of things. I've never really owned a laptop (and I guess technically don't NEED one now. But please join me in my first world thoughts) because I'm not a writer and never had a job that required carrying my computer around with me. And since I'm not really employed at this stage in life, purchasing something major like a computer just for facebook and blog posts seems extravagant. 

I'll be fine. I mean I have this little pad thingy and I have my giant 2009 Mac desktop at home at "my desk".  (which lets be real and say that it is a homemade computer desk from college shoved in the corner of our guest room and is covered in notes from teachers and expired to do lists.) Nevertheless, I have all that I need in the way of ways to write my little blog and should be grateful..... But..... Christmas IS a coming. Right? Maybe Santa reads mommy blogs.

The heat is trying to dampen my Thanksgiving/Christmas spirit this year, but I am determined not to let it win. Tuesday was November 1st, which in the Summy house is Christmas Music Day. That has been the opening day for my favorite genre of music each year since I was old enough to work my parents' record player. It's a very strict rule. Music begins November 1st. Decorating and Movies begin after Thanksgiving. It has worked for me for a very long time and I am sticking to it. I love to see all the Others out there who get so angry this time of year because people are "skipping over Thanksgiving" and they want to "save Thanksgiving". Well that's just silly. Thanksgiving isn't sad. Thanksgiving is not capable of feelings. My music doesn't ruin Thanksgiving. If anything it gets me so excited about the whole season that I enjoy that day even more. Also, show me a CD of Thanksgiving Caroles sung by the likes of Harry Connick Jr or Bing Crosby and I promise you I would be adding them to my play list. But alas... 

In closing, I don't say anything about you listening to Bieber or Pop Country which are equally offensive to my feelings. Can't we all just agree to disagree? I think we can.  That's what ear buds are for. 

I'm not even gonna mention the obvious elephant in all the rooms this month, but it rhymes with "shmelection". It is simply too depressing to discuss. But the end is near and we will all pull ourselves up by the boot straps and get on with our lives. All we can do is try to do the work that God has set before us in spite of a dishonest leader. I'm thankful my hope is not in men, but in a powerful God who loves me and knows all! 

Since the nation has gone coo coo for cocoa puffs (shout out to 80s advertising!), I believe we need to end on a happy note. So here are a few pictures of us sweating through the usual fall festivities. And may I please brag on my cute kids and their excellent Halloween costume and Trick-or-Treat game? I know I'm biased but they really turned up the adorableness this year. They had a blast and we will be eating on their candy haul until March at least.

Our annual visit to the Pumpkin Patch.
Steve was there for part of the time and managed to avoid all photographs.

I love this one of us on the hayride,
but I'm a little creeped out by the ghostly looking photobomb. 

This is how they tell me they are tired of all the pictures

Davy Crockett, Elsa, and a Hooded Huntress.
Please note that I made Davy's vest and for this non-sewer that felt vest
might as well have been a wedding gown

Signing off from CFA. It has been my pleasure.


November 2010
I have too much storage space on my body and not enough in my house.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"That's Right. You're Not from Texas." - Lyle Lovett

It's funny how I feel like I need to apologize or make excuses when I haven't written in over a week. As if there are tons of people reading this and waiting on pins and needles for the next post. In all honesty, I know that this blog is really just for me, my sanity, and possibly for my children to read one day since they have no sort of scrap book to chronicle their childhood. So kids, sorry for the gap in the posts... if you even noticed.

I didn't write all last week because it was just plain awesome. Full of all the things I love. Food, fun, travel, family and celebrating. October 6th was mine and Steve's 15th wedding anniversary. I don't know about you, but we think 15 years is pretty impressive. We spent the day reminiscing on all the fun of that day in 2001. Steve and I met for a nice lunch and spent the night at the school open house and book fair. Because that's what being married for 15 years looks like. The highlight of the day was showing the kids our wedding video for the first time. They could not even handle all of the romance. There were equal parts embarrassed and entranced. My sweet Walt kept saying "I love this movie!" 

Me too, buddy.

Since our anniversary very often coincides with the kids' fall break we usually try to work in some type of fun trip. This year we decided to take advantage of the new minivan and take a 12 hour road trip (Griswold style) to Houston, TX to visit Steve's parents. We have hit that sweet spot with the kids and traveling. They are all old enough to ride long distances without meltdowns and young enough to enjoy each other's company and agree on the same in-flight movies. The trip was extremely smooth. We loaded the luggage and children and headed south before the sun came up Saturday morning and arrived at the Grandparent's home just in time for dinner that night!

This was the first time our younger 2 had been to Gram and Poppa's house. (Thankfully G and P love to travel and make the trip to Memphis very often.) The kids loved being in their home. There is something so special about "going to Grandma's house" for a child. I loved watching them make some really great memories. And I think G and P had a little bit of fun too!

It doesn't get much better than these sun grins.

For no other reason than this is the cutest little diva.

While the grandparents and the kids were having tons of fun, Steve and I were able to run over to San Antonio for a couple of nights to celebrate the big 1-5. We took our rental pick-up truck and headed west with the windows down and Lyle Lovett reminding us that everything is bigger and better in Texas.

Little known fact: We spent one night in San Antonio on the return side of our Mexican honeymoon and I haven't been back since. So I spent much of the time pointing out familiar spots along the riverwalk and tearing up as we road the touristy Rio Taxi. Here is a river boat picture of Mr and Mrs Summy from 2001 and 2016. I almost hate to show these side by side because, well, 15 years older and 25 lbs heavier. But again... this is what a long and happy marriage looks like. Take note beautiful 23 year old brides. It's possible this could be your future. If you're lucky.

Between nostalgic emotional episodes we managed to exchange gifts, eat lots and lots of delicious food (which I believe we have established is my chosen love language), revisit the Alamo, and spend a few hours at a spa. I don't think I spend enough time at spas. I have decided to make it my goal to get more facials and/or massages in 2017. I don't have pics from the actual spa treatments because, clothing optional. But the after massage meal was delicious and totally Instagram worthy.

Here are more of my favorite San Antonio pics from then and now. Maybe we can go back for our 30th anniversary. However, I can guarantee there will be no side by side comparisons of any pictures taken in 2031.

2016. Same bridge.
There's no basement at the Alamo

Our room from below. Beautiful hotel.
When you walk in and the lobby is this nice.
You know it's going to be a good trip.
Relaxing by the pool with a great book. Perfect.
The view from our beautiful room.
Being tourists at the Tower of Americas


October 2014
I keep seeing these "what kind of parent are you?" quizzes come up in my news feed. What if one of the answers is "screw-up" or "deadbeat"? No thanks. Ignorance is bliss.