Sunday, July 31, 2016

Promoting Marriage: the good, the bad, and the smelly

There has been a trend going around Facebook this past week called the "love your spouse challenge." The challenge is to post a new picture of you and your spouse on Facebook for 7 days in celebration of love and promotion of marriage. It's a very nice idea. I took the challenge and failed miserably. I managed to post 3 pics of me and Steve Summy here and there and then I just forgot, or lost interest, or something.

Everyone jumps on board with these Facebook trends because it sounds really sweet and fun, but there is no real thought to it usually. The idea is the promotion of marriage through beautiful smiling pictures of you and your spouse as if to say "marriage is super great and awesome and easy and full of smiles and beautifully posed pictures!" As I scrolled though my friends images I thought... that is not at all what marriage is like. Maybe if we are going to promote marriage, we should promote the good, bad, and the ugly and the fact that we are STILL holding on even if just by a thread.

This year, should we make it to October, Steve and I will celebrate our 15th anniversary. We have been very blessed with a mostly happy marriage. And I use the term Happy loosely. Happy will get you into trouble these day. I hear about more and more marriages falling about because one or both people was no longer "happy". So maybe I should say we have a nice, uneventful, satisfactory marriage with small bursts of happiness. Just to be on the safe side.

I have been reading Melanie Shankle's book "The Antelope in the Living Room"  recently and in it she talks about New Love vs. Old Love(I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love all the words Melanie Shankle writes. Do yourself a favor and check her out.) When Steve and I were in college and in New Love we talked on the phone for hours at night. We brought Sonic drinks up to each other while the other one was working long hours in the lab. We went running at 11pm. We went to stupid drum (only drum. no other instrument.) concerts and I pretended to enjoy it. For the first few years after getting married we were still in the New Love stage. Getting up early to work out together (again with all the exercise! Geesh!) and doing our laundry together and grocery shopping together. Together was a very big thing for us back then.

Fast forward 15 years and we have 3 lovable and active kids, a nice home to keep up, and jobs and responsibilities, yet we still love each other very much. But our New Love has become Old Love. As Melanie puts it, Old Love looks very different. Respect, comfort, and convenience have taken precedence over togetherness. Don't get me wrong, we love any chance to be alone, but our romantic evenings have to double as Target runs and budget discussions. Time once spent on trying to look, act, and smell our best for each other is now spent working, parenting, or sleeping. We (mostly me) used to work so hard to dress up more and work out more and eat less and clean more and nag less....( and shave more and shower more. Am I right, Moms? ) and just make sure that the other person always saw us at our best. With each kid, keeping this standard become more difficult. That kind of perfect-ish life was exhausting and not realistic and somewhere along the way we (silently) agreed to just stop and be us.

We figured out that trying to create a perfect marriage was impossible because we were imperfect people. I know that Steve doesn't expect perfection (or even satisfactory most days) from me everyday and I don't expect that from him. God has shown us that marriage is about loving and serving each other and upholding the covenant we made to one another way back in the olden days of 2001. Those are the parts of marriage that need to be promoted. The not-so-happy parts. The parts that you don't see in the sweet smiling Facebook pictures.

I realized yesterday that we have finally reached a new level of comfortable Old Love. It came to me while I was showering and noticed a very un-spa-like smell. It was Steve's sweaty cycling clothes hanging in shower with me. I laughed as I thought about how perfectly that sums up the old love of a long marriage. When you get to that place where you shower next to your spouses gym clothes and manage to smile instead of vomit, your marriage has arrived.

Let's promote our Old Love here! If you are reading, I would love to hear from you!

July 2011
I am kind of bummed that Astronaut is no longer a possible career path.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Still looking for the book: "How NOT to Raise Paris Hilton in a World of Kardashians"

As mentioned before we are in the home stretch of summer and I have run out of cool ideas. We had a few specifics that were on our to do list like school clothes shopping and seeing a movie, but we knocked those out last week. (We saw The Secret Life of Pets. It was adorable and funny. Everyone loved it and the large quantity of movie popcorn we inhaled.)

sun grins. precious.
Also on the kids' list is the always popular zoo trip that I have been putting off because of the heat. I just can't make myself stand in the hot sun watching animals do the same. Not right now. I keep making excuses like... "The animals will all be inside anyway. And also, you don't want to make that polar bear feel like he has to perform when he probably wants to just float in the cool water and relax." I do love the zoo usually but mostly in the less sweaty months. You might say that the zoo is like raw oysters, should only be enjoyed during months with an "R". So get ready Memphis Zoo. Come September, we are coming at ya!

So anyway. We are looking for other (air conditioned) ways to fill our time. Today we took a field trip to Krispy Kreme. Always good for an hour of fun and an entire day of guilt after consuming the better part of a dozen "Hot Now" donuts. In my defense there were 4 of us eating. But still.... I know... for shame....

It really is kind of hypnotizing watching those little donuts ride through the glaze waterfall over and over and over and over. And the hats are truly a fashion statement.

If that wasn't enough fun for one day, we spent the next few hours working on chores!!!!  (yippee!!!). Can I be honest? The stinking chore chart is no fun for anyone. The kids gripe about it and it just adds extra work for mom too.
BUT... I'm trying desperately to raise children that won't grow into entitled brats who shake their empty drink glass at you (as one child -who shall remain nameless- tried to do right before receiving a punishment similar to that of wrecking the family car or murdering your sister) so if I have to stand there and watch them fold (wad) their laundry at a snail's pace, so be it.

I created these chore charts at the beginning of last summer to help with our slothness. This is how the chore charts look at the end of most weeks. (Bless all of our hearts.) If I can find one positive out of this it is that clearly my children are not motivated by money or material things. Sadly, the only thing that does motivate them is TV, but let's not dwell on that today.

Today, however, they did manage to get a somewhat appropriate amount of chores done so we rewarded ourselves with a late afternoon trip to the pool. We have almost made it to that sweet spot where all the kids can swim alone in the pool while mom relaxes in a lounge chair. We are so close... I can taste it. That will be our number one goal for next summer. Sure it's a little self serving, but swimming skills are important and if I happen to benefit from those skills.... again, so be it.

taking a safety break

Thursday, July 21, 2016

8 weeks feels like 8 minutes. And also a little like 8 years.

Summer vacation is almost over and school is just around the corner. That statement makes my heart beat faster and my palms sweat. I'm not ready for the summer to be over. Not really. I mean, sure I might have said a few times recently that my kids are driving me crazy and as soon as they go back to school I can get my life back to normal...which is true. But that doesn't mean I'm ready for it to actually happen! (I realize that sound crazy and now you see my husband's frustration when we discussing anything.)

This happens every year. We get to the end of summer and panic because we haven't done any of the "around the town" stuff we planned to do. We made this long list of activities the first week because "how in the world would we fill our time for 8 whole weeks?!?"

As I was making my "what's left to do" list this morning while looking at the calendar and trying to fit it all in, the mom guilt started creeping back in. I should have done more this summer. I should have used our time together wisely. I feel like I spent the summer barking orders and saying stop fighting, play nice, do something creative and FOR THE LOVE do it in the other room! Mommy needs her space. We will go to the pool/movies/zoo tomorrow. We have all summer for that.

My dear friend and her 4 kids (the youngest 2 being twin toddlers. bless her.) spent the day with us yesterday. She and I spent a lot of time talking about the stress of motherhood. How tough it is and how maybe we needed wives to help us with some of the chores. (only kidding... mostly.) We started talking about how we often feel that we are just trying to push through this season. We think "if only I can get through this, then I will do something better, more significant." Because THIS (parenting young kids everyday) is hard and not all that fun most days. We are looking forward to having the time and energy to do more rewarding things like leading at church, or just going back to church, teaching a bible study, or simply reading the Bible, eating healthy, cooking, exercising and other worthwhile things. Just as soon as this "super needy" phase has passed.

My friend said that was the moment God pointed out to her.... "This IS the thing. This IS worth while. Stop trying to just get through this. This is the most important thing you can do right now. I'm giving you plenty of opportunities to see motherhood for what it is Hard AND Rewarding. And Im giving you the chance to look to Me and ask for help in doing this great job." 

Me (in a seriously whiney voice): "But God, I do ask for help. Don't you hear me asking you to make these kids obey me? To help them get past the sleepless nights or the weird aversion to potty training? Or when I ask that their mouths miraculously close and the noise will stop for just 5 minutes? Don't you hear me pray that their little hearts will change and they will be angels in Target (for Your glory, of course)?"

I imagine God is laughing at me. LOLing in the way only a Heavenly Father can. (Does God laugh? If so, I bet He has the best laugh. A good hearty laugh that makes all who hear it happy...wait, where was I?)

God then says to me. "I AM helping. I'm giving you their dirty hands and their noise so that you will look up. So that you will ask for patience and strength and endurance. And that you will ask for opportunities to speak truth to them, when you are wiping their faces. Why are you so stubborn? Don't you see I am showing you that it is OK for this to be your only focus. To teach them. And love them. Stop looking forward to when you can do MORE."

Does this relieve you like it did me? That I can let go of the desire and anticipation of what is next. That I can just wake up and try to do this thing well. Because if I let myself enjoy it, motherhood is awesome.

Who else but your young kids can watch you perform the Bon Jovi classic "You Give Love a Bad Name" and say "Wow Mom, how did you know all those words?!? I wish I could do that!"
Yep. I need to ride this "mom is cool" wave as long as it will last! The teenage years will be here before I know it.

July 2014
It's 9:30 on a Friday night and I'm doing my usual 9:30pm routine. Dishes and listening to Pandora. Am I still cool? Was I ever? Don't answer that. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The heat does strange things to me

So here we are in the dog days of summer. (Except someone pointed out to me today that this is only the beginning. God bless the South.) It is crazy hot and clearly affecting me in all kinds of ways. I mean, my last post was entirely dedicated to Mayonnaise. Good grief. All I can say is that I blame excessive heat, low blood sugar, and the fact that it was VBS week around here and we were just barely getting by.

Let's see if I can find something a little more normal to discuss today than the pros and cons of Mayo.

This week is really our first lazy week of summer. We are naturally lazy people who get pretty tired and cranky when we have too much going on. And by we, I mean only me. All those people who do a million things every single day and live to tell about it, I just want to say "How? No, really. How are you doing this?" I needed a nap everyday after VBS last week which is totally pitiful considering it was only 3 hours of work a day. And by work I mean "teaching" children about Jesus while using "science" projects. (Quotes here are not just for emphasis. The teaching and the science parts of my job were seriously very questionable.) All that to say, we were looking forward to some good couch sitting and tv watching that comes with a lazy hot week in July.

In spite of the "lazy day" plan, yesterday's activities were grocery shopping and the Library which was very ambitious and almost just plain dumb. We made it out alive, but not with out a few melt downs (by me) and angry rants (also by me) that really had me questioning my qualifications as a mother. As you know I'm not exactly killing it at motherhood these days. When my husband walked in the door the other day, I met him with these words..."It is not going well. I'm pretty sure I've messed these up beyond help. Let's get new kids and start over. I really feel I could do better next time."

After staring at me for a bit trying to decide if I was serious or not, he said something to the effect of..."They're fine. You're fine. This is our life. What's for dinner?"

That is our mantra these days. I think it's a good one. There's always tomorrow, now let's eat.

Today was better. We hit the gym and the pool and then waltzed right into Chick-Fil-A in our swimsuits like we were still at the beach. I don't think that is appropriate attire here in Germantown, but we were hot and hungry and it's best to fix that ASAP unless you want things to unravel quickly. They served us with pleasure since we technically were wearing shirts AND shoes and we made it home in time for Louisa'a nap. Which meant I had time for my new hobby of listening to this pod cast. The Big Boo Cast.

If you are like me and enjoy listening to other people's conversations without the pressure of saying anything, this is for you. I adore Big Mama and Boo Mama for their blog and book skills and now that I can listen in on their lives, I truly feel like they are my best friends. (you know except for the fact they don't know who I am.)

And for tonight, Brinner (aka Breakfast for Dinner). A family favorite. And this is why I don't blog about food and recipes anymore. Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, and frozen biscuits are about as complicated as we get this summer.

That was slightly more interesting than mayonnaise, right?

July 2013
I am not a frivolous spender. In fact, I am cheap in a lot of places. I often have trouble letting go of money... But I love good shoes. Pretty shoes. Classic shoes. Slightly expensive shoes. And I have passed this weakness on to my 7 yr old daughter. I'm sorry Steve Summy. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ode to Mayo

So let us get real for a second about a rather controversial subject...

Mayonnaise. You either love it or hate it or love to hate it. Or in my case... Love to love it.

Growing up, my family was all Pro-Mayo. In fact, during the lean years that we like to call "the 90s" my mom would experiment with every type of generic product to save a little money, but she didn't mess with the Mayo. You can't mess around when if comes to this stuff. It's real mayo or nothing at all.

That all changed after I had my first child and the body started a changin. With motherhood came my new past time of training as a yoyo dieter. I have been working on this sport for 10 years now, trying every single diet plan under the sun, and one common denominator of all these diets was "no Mayo". It was the one thing everyone could agree was horrible and fattening and hindering my attempts to lose the baby weight. So for years I have abstained from my beloved condiment.

I almost forgot about it until about 6 months ago.
I was just making a simple ham and cheese sandwich and thought...Hmmm.... I think I'll go a little crazy add some mayo. I don't usually subscribe to the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder", but when it comes to forbidden foods, it is absolutely true. (Incidentally this also applies to Coke. If someone has told you that when you stop drinking real Coke for a while you will think it tastes too sugary and stop craving it all together, they are lying to you. And lying to themselves. But that is a post for a different day.)

Mayo and I are back on and loving our time together. And since I learned how to cook since we separated, I am able to try it on new and different dishes. (grilled cheese, bbq sandwich, and BLT...which is not new to most, but new to me as before adulthood I didn't eat L or T) It's all very exciting. Our new relationship is flourishing with no plans to end it anytime soon. And while we are talking about such things, lets make sure we all no how to put together a perfect BLT. This is important stuff. Please refer to Joy the Baker professional tips on the most delicious sandwich known to man.

So the riveting conclusion to all of this is, I think I'll stick with the everything in moderation diet plan. So much more lenient and yummy.

June 2014
I am wearing shorts again against my (and apparently my 8 year old's) better judgement. "Mom, I don't think shorts are your thing." Thanks honey, but alas it is summer and I can't continue to wear jeans, lest I burst into flames. So shorts it is. I think I'll wear some really big earrings to distract from what's happening down below.

Friday, July 8, 2016

We vacationed so hard I forgot what normal life was like

So today is day 2 of vacation detox. And it is not going all that well. I have ruined my children's lives no less than 6 times since 8am and I keep expecting the cops to show up at my door after receiving a call from a concerned neighbor about a domestic disturbance in our home. This is what happens to us after we have spent 10 glorious days in a beautiful picturesque beach side wonderland. We lose our minds and forget how to survive in the real world.

So in an effort to cope, I have spent the bulk of the day going through pictures of our trip, pretending I am still there. If I close my eyes I can almost smell the ocean air and hear the waves.... almost.

Here are some of the highlights of our time in Rosemary Beach.

We took bikes for the first time and it was wonderful! We rode everywhere. To the beach, to the pools, to dinner and shopping. I haven't done much bike riding since I was 10 and crashed my bike on Lafayette Street, (I wasn't necessarily hurt physically, but definitely scarred emotionally) so I opted to pull Louisa in the trailer. The baby bike trailer acts a lot like training wheels for grown ups and has the added bonus of being an extreme workout.
We looked like the Clampets driving into town
The princess in her carriage, as she called it.

Having the bikes also meant we were able to participate in the 4th of July Parade and Bike decorating contest. This was an impressive event. I had no idea what a big deal it was. The materials provided for the decorating were amazing enough, but then they throw in a sweet carnival at the end of the parade route that rivals something at Disneyworld. Well done, Rosemary.


Eat your heart out ladies.
Award of Merit. Very Prestigious
4th of July Carnival
Nothing says 4th of July like a scorpion tattoo

But before all of the 4th fun we had tons of beach and pool fun. It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The older two were way into surfing the waves. Little Lou was a little stand offish. This is her preferred surfing method.


We ate tons of delicious food, which is, in my opinion, part of what makes vacation so great. I didn't feel the need to take pictures of my meals.... except for this one. I had this exact meal twice. That's how delicious it was. And thanks to the happy hour half priced tacos at Cowgirl Kitchen, they were affordable as well.

Carolina pulled pork and BBQ chicken (and bacon) tacos.
Oh. My.

There was so much more to this awesome trip, but really it's probably only interesting to me. We were lucky enough to meet up with several old friends and meet a few new ones. 

I am so thankful that we were able to take this trip. I spent much of the time trying to soak it in so that I wouldn't take a second for granted. I'll leave you with a few more of my favorite pictures. 

This was 5 seconds after I said "please try not to get too sandy"

July 2013
How can I get one of those privacy partitions that are in limos installed in my Pilot? Seriously...