Sunday, August 28, 2016

"It's so hard to say Goodbye to yesterday" – Boyz II Men

I started writing this post last week, but never finished because, well,  I'm officially struggling to get in school mode... still. It's like I have never done this before. Except that this is the 6th time I've done this. I had hoped for the "6th time's the charm". Is that the phrase? I don't know, maybe it's the heat. Yeah that's it. I will continue to blame the heat for all my shortcomings.


The Summy family, or rather I the Summy mom, have reached a new phase in life. Last week we said goodbye to my Honda Pilot and traded it in for a dreaded youth sucking mini van. This has been a little tough for me to swallow.

I loved my Pilot more than anyone should love a vehicle. I'm completely serious. I only had it for 6 short years, but I LOVED it like an old friend. After a particularly difficult day, I would just go for a drive with the windows down and the 90s alt rock cranked up and would come home feeling rejuvenated. It was the first brand new car I owned. It was so shiny and cool and had all the bells and whistles. It was perfect. And if we didn't have such noisy, touchy, long legged kids (or blessings from Lord) with giant backpacks, I would have driven that thing until the wheels fell off. 

But alas, the time had come (or rather the Honda clearance event had come) and so we said a very tearful (on my end) good bye. I know what you are going to say.  "We should not value our material possessions because they have no eternal value." But I don't care what you say. As Steel Magnolia's M'Lynn Eatenton would say "That's what my mind says, I wish somebody would explain it to my heart." The hope in the eternal brought me little to no comfort last Saturday afternoon as I watched my car leave the driveway for the last time. 

It was like a weird version of Sophie's Choice. I desperately wanted the space and convenience of the minivan, but couldn't stand the thought of becoming a stereotypical suburban soccer mom. I felt sure that I would wake up the next day completely gray and wearing mom jeans. 

Seeing that I was slightly overreacting and starting to spiral out of control, my husband (who is always willing bring me back down to reality) mentioned that, while that was a legitimate concern in my late twenties, it is not so off target for a mom of 3 who is pushing 40. "You are what you are...and what you are is a mom."  There you go. Life according to Steve Summy. It's possible we could not be more different if we tried.

"Just pretend you are sad for Mommy."

I sometimes overreact. It's just what I do.

So after a "good bye photo shoot" with my pilot (Doesn't everybody do those?), I vowed to move on and be thankful for the comfort and convenience of a new van. And after only a week I totally get it. Magical doors and a spacious interior have made everything we do a more pleasant experience. Grocery shopping, School Carpool, and Weekend Road Trips have all been improved just in the first week of owning this "living room on wheels".

Lest I sound ungrateful for a new vehicle, all kidding aside, I am so thankful that we are in the position to have something this extravagant to transport our precious family here and there. I sat in it couple of times this week smelling that new car smell and thinking of all the memories that will be made in it. All the conversations that will take place while heading to play practice or basketball games. The road trips that will shape us as a family. I want to regularly pray over our van that God will always be present with us while we navigate the next several years of life.

So like most things (including myself), it's what's on the inside of the van (and not the outward appearance) that really counts. Maybe this will be a good daily reminder of that truth.

Steve keeps telling me this is just a season. The more I think about it, I think it has the potential to be our best season yet. If for no other reason than the next season will involve teenage drivers and that is basically terrifying.

August 2014
Many thanks to the kind and compassionate police officer who had pity on me and gave me a traffic warning instead of the speeding ticket I deserved. He took one look at the frat party going on in my back seat and knew I could really use a break.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Let's Pretend Coffee and Musicals Have Something in Common

Today was a fun day.

It started off great after dropping all of the kids off for school (we could stop right there and call this a win for Mom). Then I had a nice morning hanging out with a group of my favorite godly women in one of their homes. It was relaxed and easy as we sat and talked and watched her twin toddlers play all around us. We talked so long that we decided to order in lunch and talk some more. It was one of those perfect mornings that you wish you could enjoy on a regular basis, but we all know are almost impossible to replicate. 

I read or heard somewhere recently (I'm not really sure which one. I've been taking in a lot of words lately through social media, books, and pod casts) that stay at home moms with young kids should be doing their staying at home together. Especially while the kids are young. Not only because we need each other for sanity as well as an extra pair of eyes and hands. But also because soon these little ones will be busy with school and after school activities and we will be spending even more of our life riding around in our (more to come on the use of OUR) mini vans (aka... living room on wheels). And our life saving friendships will be forced take a back seat to the chaos.

Knowing this was a rare moment, we enjoyed our time together. We laughed and even cried together all with Sesame Street playing in the background. We talked about the frustrations and joys of motherhood and how the further along in the process we get, we each start to develop our on way of parenting that is different from our own childhood. There are some hurt feelings that come from this realization and I'm sure that is normal. Of course, if it's not, please don't tell us. The last thing we need is another excuse to believe we have crossed over the crazy line. 

I left her house rejuvenated and encouraged and with a belly full of the best guacamole in Memphis. Like I said, it was a fun day. And it was about to get even better.

After picking up all of the children (There are only 3, but in the afternoon I swear it feels like there are twice as many of them), we came home and started our normal after school routine. Today was different, however, since we had anxiously been waiting for 4pm on Tuesday ever since Amelia auditioned for the school play. 

Ya'll. Amelia has stage presence. I can't explain it. I assume it came from her father's side of the family. She is confident and poised and bold. So when the school announce the play for this year would be Annie Jr. she decided then and there she was going to get the lead and play Annie. And she believed whole heartedly that it would happen. I was a little concerned at first since she genuinely seemed to believe her red hair was going to get her the part by default. I told her while I and everyone  she meets loves her red locks, I still thought she should spend a little bit of time actually practicing the lines, music, and dance. 

She never ceases to amaze me with her confidence. I kept trying to be realistic and telling her that she didn't need to get her heart set on one role because many girls would be trying out for the lead. Girls that had more experience in actual acting, not just singing and dancing. I'm embarrassed now as I think about all the ways I tried to put my self doubt onto my brave 10 year old. Even when filling out the audition form under "What part are you auditioning for?" I wrote "Annie / or any orphan". Gah! Have a little faith AM! 

You know that inspirational quote you see on cute chalkboards at Hobby Lobby a lot these days? 

"She believed that she could, so she did"

That is Amelia to a T. That girl went up there with complete faith in herself and gave it her all in front of a group of random adults. And at 4pm today we got word that her hard work had paid off. This November we will watch our little girl in the role she was born to play. She told me this would be her year and dang it if she wasn't right again. Congratulations to my star. I guess this means I have to become a stage mom, although, hopefully nothing like those ladies on Toddlers in Tiaras. Yikes.

I spent far too many minutes going through old pictures to find this one from Halloween 2008. Look at that precious baby. 

What did you expect? I was a child from the 80s who had a 2 year old with red curly hair. She had no choice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Imaginary Friends Cramping my Style

My 3 year old daughter has an imaginary friend. This is a first for me, and I honestly don't know what to do with it.

I'm a fairly level headed person (most of the time. I mean, unless you eat the last cupcake which is so obviously mine. Or call me "mom" or ask me a question past 6pm). Okay well maybe level headed is not the right term. I am practical. Very practical. I see things plainly in black and white. So the whole imaginary friend concept is lost on me. I was so confused and worried that I had to do some research on the topic to make sure this wasn't a sign of loneliness, depression, or further proof that I'm failing as a mom. (And by research I mean I went to the Google and read 2.5 articles on the subject.)

This hasn't really come up in the lives of my first 2 kids. My oldest, as I believe I have pointed out here, is possibly more literal and practical than her mother. There is no room in her life for fluff or flare. It is all function over form for her. If fact, I never saw her pretend as toddler. Probably because she never really needed to since she had her parents undivided attention. That is, until #2 came along.

Middle man is not necessarily (or at all) that rational, as his imagination is on turbo speed all. the. time. He, however, seems to have a very firm grasp on the difference between imagination and reality and can flip back and forth between the two worlds without any overlap.

Manicure for this fancy pants' first day of preschool.
Gotta look your best when you are working that play-dough.
Enter Louisa. If her sister is "function over form". This girl is "who needs function when you have form with a little extra flare on top?" There is not enough fake princess jewelry in this house to keep up with her. She is "on" all the time. And if there isn't an audience in the room to watch her perform, well by golly, she will make someone up.

So she did.

There are actually 2 imaginary playmates that she spends her time with and they function very differently. First, there is her Grandma. This was is a little confusing as it took us a while to figure out that Grandma is someone totally different than either of her actual grandmothers. Teachers at school started talking to us about how nice it was that Louisa's grandmother takes her on such fun adventures.

I thought it was weird so I asked Lou, "Did you tell your teacher about spending time with Grandmommie?"

She looked at me like I was the weirdo and said "No. I told them about My Grandma!"

Me: "Do you mean Gram (Steve's mom)?"

Lou: "Uh No! MY GRANDMA! You know the one with pink hair and a pink and purple car and unicorn at her house."

Say what? I'm going to need you to back that up and start again.

So that was the beginning of the MANY Grandma stories. They are super detailed and always involve the color pink and lots of sparkles. She talks to Grandma on her phone constantly about all kinds of random yet serious things. (her phone = the plastic Barbie smart phone that she received in a Happy Meal more than 2 years ago. Happy Meal toys have some serious longevity at the Summy house.)

Interestingly, Grandma isn't ever actually present. She apparently lives somewhere else (in her pink house) and Louisa has visited her a lot. All the stories are memories. According to my super duper research, this is pretty non traditional. And probably is less of an invisible playmate, but a way to lie about all the cool things she wishes she were doing. I'm hoping Grandma goes away before her teen years and she starts telling stories "about that time Grandma and I were SO WASTED."  (As I typed that I actually started to panic a little.)

Anyway, for now Grandma seems pretty harmless although It's still a little awkward at church when we have to explain that, "No she really isn't talking about her actual grandmother. Just some imaginary lady she calls Grandma." 

Imaginary friend #2 is a little more "normal". She is invisible and is always hanging around the house and her name is Blobby. Blobby is pink and always seems to be sitting in the chair that I want to sit in. There aren't many good stories about Blobby. She must be kind of quiet and her job is to follow Louisa around. Silly Blobby also seems to get herself locked out of the house an awful lot.

I know, thanks to my extensive research, that this is a sign of creativity and should not be discouraged. I also know I need to just enjoy this time because soon Lou will grow out of the Imaginary Friend stage and I will be sad. But, guys, I lose my patience really quickly with these friends.

Case in point... The other day we were rushing (always) to go somewhere and Louisa was classically dragging and refusing to put clothes on her body.

Lou: "Mom I can't wear THIS dress! My Grandma wants me to match her today!"
Me (in a moment of frustration and low blood sugar): "Well, your Grandma isn't real so I don't really care what she thinks."

GASP. Silence. Then the tears come... "She is too real! She is not a fake. She is my GRANDMA! Why are you so mean to me? Say she's real Mommy! Say it!"

 Well let's add that to the list of ways I am screwing up my children. I'm sure that is Child Psychology 101. Never Ever Tell Them Their Imaginary Friends are... Imaginary.  It's simple. Just try not to destroy your child's hopes and dreams. Class dismissed.

I will just add this to my prayer list. The one where I pray that my kids will not be broken by my actions and words. That the Lord will comfort them when their Mom loses her mind and use those moments to show them that we are all imperfect (gross understatement) and our sin can get the better of us sometimes. In those times, Mom gives in to her emotions and lack of caffeine, but thankfully she can run to Jesus and He will forgive and forget her sin.

I seem to pray this a lot.

In my defense, it is a proven fact that dealing with drama before 10am is impossible for Mommy. And should be avoided at all cost. Just ask Amelia how she learned the truth about the tooth fairy after one of my early morning "fits of honesty".


August 2014
It's a surprise every night that we have to put on pajamas and brush our teeth before we get in bed. Every night.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Professional-ish Commentary on #Rio2016 - Week 1

So the Summy family is completely consummed with the Olympics. Like all stellar Americans we are committed to every event. Watching them all live, re-watching the highlights on DVR, providing excellent couch commentary about sports that we only follow every 4 years. This is all very funny coming from the least athletic family in the US of A.

Yet here we are. The entire family is obsessed. Starting with the Opening Ceremony. Amelia decorated the den and the front door. We invited family to celebrate. We grilled out and ate lots of very patriotic cupcakes. The OC provides all the pomp and circumstance that I love. Sure it was long, but its my one chance to get a very thorough Geography lesson and it only comes around every 4 years. So you better believe we will watch every single tiny country march out with her flag. I feel so proud for those athletes of the small former Soviet Union countries and their teams of 3 and their sweet flag barrier just crying like a baby as he walks out. Just go ahead and rip my heart out. The patriotism is flying high in our household during these 2 weeks and, thankfully, all the yuckiness of this election year is forgotten... for now.

Speaking of crying athletes... Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the Michael Phelps domination, but there is something so heartwarming about the young newbies crying on the gold medal podium and mouthing the words to our national anthem. I just want to jump through the tv and give them a hug.

There has been a little bit of a priority struggle this year as the first week of Olympics coincides with the first week of school. Sure school and sleep are important, but we can't possibly go to bed before seeing every second of every swimming semi so that means a lot of late nights followed by very early mornings. Morning hours that the kids and I haven't seen in 2 months. So I'm feeling like an Olympic champion of coffee drinking this week. I excel in both quantity and quality as sometimes nothing but a complicated Starbucks $5 soy latte with 2 pumps of caramel will do.

And that just brings us to the inevitable self comparison and obvious self loathing that comes with watching these Olympians in their rock solid bodies. Those beach volleyball ladies. Kerri Walsh Jennings! What?!? You are MY age! AND a mom of 3! I just sit on the couch eating patriotic cupcakes while she performs feats of strength that make my body hurt just by watching. And that amazing 41 year old gymnast? Come on! Oksana Chusovitina from Uzbekistan is gettting. it. done. in her 7th olympic games. To be that motivated and physically awesome for that many years is astonishing to me. On behalf of all the "past our prime" moms of the world, well done Ms Chusovitina. Your 17 year old son has to be so proud of you!

Let's not leave out the youngsters who are kicking butt out there. Katie Ledecky.... gracious girl. You are like the energizer bunny. Owning that 800m freestyle like it was a walk in the park. But it isn't at all a walk in a park. It is more like running for you life from a pack of wolves for 10 miles. It is 16 lengths of the pool. I would sink before I made it across 1 time. How do you keep count of how many laps you have done? How do you stay afloat that long without getting a cramp? How do you NOT DROWN! All very valid questions I think.

The USA gymnastics team, the Final Five, are each so good that it is a shame they were weren't all able to compete for the all around because they are clearly the 5 best gymnast in the entire world. Hands down.

And then there is MP. He is not human. I am more impressed with him at this Olympics than ever since he is beating kids more than 10 years younger then he is. He is showing some 31 year old fatigue, yet still blowing away the competition. And his ready room run in with Chad Le Clos has provided some of the best, most entertaining memes ever seen on Facebook and Twitter.

My kids have seen this face more times than I care to admit. Most days, it sums up my feelings on their behavior quite nicely. This will also be my face when these 2016 games come to an end and I have to get back to my regularly scheduled life.

August 2010
During an important family discussion, my husband quoted Boyz II Men and tried to pass it off as a valid point.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Playing a little fast and loose with the term "Best Day Ever"

As I am writing this I am listening to my family in the other room singing Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" at the top of their sweet lungs. It might be my favorite sound in the whole world. We are definitely raising these kids to appreciate the finer things in life.

As my family continues to work towards their goal of becoming The Partridge Family 2.0 (or something that makes me sound a little less old), I am taking a little Coke timeout and reading all of the words I can find on the internet.

It doesn't happen often, but I felt like a super productive member of my family and society today, and therefore, deserve the opportunity to bow out of the bed time routine that is about to start.

My super mom behaviors started slow this morning as I didn't crawl out of bed until 8:30. I was awaken at 7 by my youngest, but since the rest of the house appeared to be sleeping, I did what any good mom would do and grabbed the iPad, started Frozen, and handed it to her with strict instructions not to speak. As if that was necessary because Frozen was already playing and she had stopped listening to me and was in Frozen Zombie land. (Still. That movie has serious magical staying power.) 

Once I was up, I remembered it was my Dad's birthday so I texted with him and sent a video of the kids shouting HBD and asked what their plans were for the day. Their plan for the day sounded fun and therefore made me feel like a bad mom for not being as fun as my parents. A better, cooler plan must be made. (Im nothing, if not competitive. But not in sports or normal competition. Mainly just competing in dumb things and only against the voices in my own head.) After a quick text with my brother and dinner invitation the day was taking shape.

We met my brother at Holiday Ham where he sat through a gazillion questions from each of my children which (I can only imagine) made the prospect of returning to work for the afternoon seem so much better than usual. After lunch, since we were in midtown, we hit up our favorite ice cream/popsicle shop on our way back east. All I can say is La Michocacana is a real Memphis treasure. Well I guess, technically, it's an International treasure since it is clearly Mexican, but whatever... either way it's delicious.

In case there is a Memphis reader who has been missing out.
You're welcome.

Popsicles on an August day. How southern are we?

After popsicles we went to Potter Barn Outlet (the kids' choice. For real. They are the quirkiest kids) and then to the Farmer's Market to pick up some veggies for dinner. That probably sounds like I do that all the time, not really. That was probably the 2nd time in my whole life I have just run "to the Farmer's Market to pick up veggies for dinner". I'm not usually so organized and deliberate with my farmer's market purchases. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about myself at this point.

We made it home just in time for a quick visit from the birthday boy and Mom and then I whipped (there I am showboating again) up some veggie lasagna and purple hull peas. It was delicious and most people ate without complaint. Which is as good as it gets around here.

That brings us to the after dinner Rock Band Concert and Bon Jovi tribute. When you sprinkle in dishes and a couple loads of laundry that makes for a full day. And, I might add, my kids mentioned, more than once, that it was "THE BEST DAY EVER!"

I don't really know if I should be proud of that or just really sad that my kids have seemed to lower their standards significantly. It seems a bit early in their life for that.
Oh well, I am going to chose to count it as a mommy win and suck down the last of this tall glass of Coke (Ahhhhh!) before heading upstairs to sing two rounds of "Jesus Loves Me" and one "Silent Night."

It's no Bon Jovi, but I have been known to bring the house (or Louisa's bedroom) down once or twice. Just saying.

August 2015
Y'all. Parenting is tough. Moms of little ones, when people say "it's just a season. It will get easier", they are lying. They are just trying to make you feel better. There I said it. In other news... We ruined Amelia's entire life tonight. Ruined. 

(Good News. Looks like she bounced back. And it only took 1 year.)