Sunday, February 23, 2014



I'm moving. . .

I've finally decided to make the change and incorporate my design blog and personal blog into one great big party over at:

Come visit and subscribe, see you there and in a few days time when you come here I'll have you automatically redirected. But!! --if you read me in a reader you won't see my new posts till you subscribe with the new address.

Looking forward to this new adventure!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sometimes we blow it.

Growing up is a hard, messy business; filled with do-overs, amazing triumphs, and regrets over how we wish we would have acted. Friday was such a day for Owen.

Owen, Luke, Lily and Garron (Owens' friend) were all walking home from the bus stop after school on Friday when some older kids who live in our neighborhood started picking on Luke. One of these kids, Justin, reached in and took half of Luke's Valentine's Day candy. Then Shaddy, another older kid, called Luke a gaywod. Justin shoved Luke so that he tripped and fell. Then, Shaddy laughed in Luke's face.

Owen walking behind, witnessing all of this.

Justin pushed Luke again and they both continued ridiculing and taunting Luke. Finally, Garron told them to leave Luke alone and got pushed for his trouble (way to be Garron!). Luke ran home and buried his head in his pillow, sobbing.

Moments later, Owen walked in and saw me with Luke. He tried to pretend that he didn't know what was going on. After I finished comforting Luke, I took Owen aside and told him that this is the most disappointed that I have ever been in him. I teared up a bit and told him that he blew it back there, royally. One of the most important things you can do in your life is to have the courage to stick up for your family, even if you're scared.

Owen was sobbing at this point and pounded his fists against the wall saying, "I'm just so mad at myself! I kept thinking while it was happening, 'if Justin does one more thing, I'll step in,' but I didn't and now I can't take it back. UGH, I'm just SO sorry! I didn't want to get into a fist fight with Justin and I knew that if I said something we would, so I didn't. I know that I should of, but I didn't and now I'm so mad at myself!!" he wailed.

We went and sat down in another room. I told Owen that sometimes we totally blow it when it counts, and today that happened to him. Luke needed his big brother--who is WAY bigger than either of those boys--to stick up for him and show those kids that the Meads stick together. That even if you get the crap kicked outta you--you stand up for your people when they get picked on. (Later, I did just this thing; retrieving the candy and an apology from the offending boys.)

I told Owen that at these moments we show what we're all about. Yes, it's hard sometimes and yes, it's going to be embarrassing or unpopular sometimes, but that's when it matters most. We hugged and the last thing I told him was to use this experience--how badly he felt right then--to make sure that the next time--there will certainly be a next time--to do what's right.

Let's aim to be courageous, not cowardly.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Conversations and insights:

Friday night, Chad and I were talking about families and kids with friends. Sometimes we can't believe that we of all people have four kids! We're both pretty impatient--not touchy, feel-y types--and we both have just enough selfishness to make it a battle between doing what the kids needs vs. what we want to be doing. And we both love us some freaking peace and quiet! Impossible with four little ones about.

Chad made a passing comment that resonated with me and I couldn't believe that I had never put words to it, he said, "yea, I don't really feel like we have four kids though; it seems closer to three. We have the older three but Jack, well it feels like he's all of ours."

And it's so true; he is all of ours, and it's more than the baby of the family feeling too.

We simply adore him; his victories are our victories because he is ours. He learns how to give five? Well, that boy is giving fives out like it's going out of style, yesterday Lily said to a stranger, "hey, if you hold your hand out my little brother will give you five!"

When Owen's friends come over to play, Jack is in the mix the entire time. All of Owen's friends love Buster (why Buster? well, because he busts things, of course!). He cries for something and Garron or Eli will pick him up and soothe him all on their own; he belongs to a lot of people. It's an interesting insight into our family dynamic that I hadn't quite pinpointed yet. An insight that, as a mother to a child with down syndrome (and all the uncertainty that comes with that)--is calming. Fears of who's going to take care of Jackie when we are gone? melt away into the backdrop of three small faces who are pulling for our boy.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I need to keep a running tally. . .

of things to teach each differnt child: 

Lily--when wearing a dress keep your knees together.
Luke--when taking photos, smile and open your eyes.
Jack--keep being darling.
Owen--you too.
They're a pretty cute bunch, even if their mother is sometimes derelict in her duties.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We did stuff in Mexico.

 We struggle with family photos--it's hard being a family at times.

 Someone got to the bag of granola bars and was outraged to discover that things like this exist.
September took us to Mexico twice; we just couldn't get enough. First we went with our friends and neighbors to their house in Rocky Point and then Cabo as you will probably recall. When driving into a foreign country (especially when it's freaking Mexico) it is best to:
  • a) know where you are going (directions such as turn right after you see a house with a darkened sign that if it were light you could see it says, Buen Viaje will not be accepted)
  • b) not be going in the dark of night 
  • c) not driving through a freak storm where the crappy Mexican roads are washed out from a flash flood and you have to decide whether to sit on the side of the "road" or go through the river that is flowing through aforementioned "road"
  • d) wear long sleeve shirt if driving so passenger doesn't claw your forearm when you decide 38 years is a pretty good run.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"When I get older and get me a kid, I'm going to name him Kevin."--Owen 8/6/13

Life is a blur. It's going a hundred miles per hour and I want to slow down and just enjoy for a moment but don't because there's so much to do! This blog is nice because it allows me to take a moment, look at pictures and events from our lives and see how much is changing. Hopefully it also means that I slow down a tiny bit when I can...
Owen is ten. He started insulin about a year ago and has gradually had to take more and more shots. Towards the end he was taking about six shots per day--that's alot of pokes! This past week he got his first diabetic pump, The Omnipod. So far it's been great, one poke every three days! Had some lower blood sugars and 1am checks but that's just par for the course.

Owen is such a great first child, he's my right hand man. Always there to help and trying to see how he can make things better:
  • mom shouting? --clean the kitchen.
  • mom rushing around trying to get out the door?--get Jack dressed.
  • mom demanding quiet? take all the kids to the furthest room in the house and play.
  • mom exasperated about messy house?--organize Luke and Lily and start a cleaning team.
  • mom looking frustrated?--give her a hug and tell her something nice.
He is just such a great kid. A friend to everyone, life of the party and doesn't let the trials of his life get him down. Last Monday we were driving to the hospital to start his insulin pump and I was looking at him thinking how fast he's growing up. That just yesterday he was the fat little baby who was afraid to swallow food so he would chew it up and then spit it into a napkin. I was telling him how much I love him and how proud of him I am and I started to cry a bit. As I was talking I saw him wiping away little tears; he's still my little boy. He may have his first crush (Tatum Pile) and have plans for what he's going to name his children (Kevin?-really??) and maybe I have to drop him off at parties and pretend we don't know each other (Oakland party--Halloween 2013) but he's still mine. 

Stepping up and revelations

Last month we participated in the Step up for Down Syndrome parade for ASU Homecoming (that school looks like a par-tay!). This is the third time we've done the parade and the first time Jackie was able to walk it! Walking in the proper direction will be reserved for next year.. 

When a break was necessary either for his own tiredness or for us wanting a break from going the wrong direction he rode on Chad's shoulders and would high five people cheering; that was pretty darn cute!
Now for the revelations portion of this post; Jackie had his first milkshake after the parade. Flavor-chocolate, location-In-and-Out Burgers, result-a life long love affair.  Later in the afternoon he asked for some milk (by screaming and crying) and when we gave him his once loved milk he took one sip and looked at us like, "Hey?--holding out on me?"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sacrafices must be made.

I'm sure I've never mentioned it because I carry my burden so well but, being a parent can be quite the beating. Take Friday night for instance; Chad and I took the kids to the Halloween Spooktacular. 

We buy tickets, drive thirty minutes, wait in a loooonnng line to park, traverse a long dusty walk to the entrance, buy additional tickets for kids' friends, lose children, find children, buy additional tickets for bouncy houses, spend $75 dollars on gross fair food, share back-washed water with Jack, use a porta potty, get smacked in the face with a play axe by Luke, tell Lily to stay with us fifty-eight thousand times, carry Jack seven and a half miles, get smacked in the arm with a play axe by Luke, take forty-eight photos that yield about eight photos that make it almost worth it (taking the porta potty bit out of course).
Peace fingers? I die.
Notice the shared smile? A bit blurry, but perfect.
 This is possibly the most accurate depiction the evening, especially Luke.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This is the place!

 You've earned a king size candy bar!

This was the phrase that gave some children the necessary motivation to hike for seven hours up the narrows. Yes, I am crazy. I was pretty darn impressed with how well they did too. It was challenging but when it was finally time to call it and turn around I had to rush upstream to catch them and tell them it was time to turn around.

The car trip back to St. George was definitely filled with the sound of exhaustion; even Lily was quiet--and that NEVER happens! I stopped at the gas station and purchased king sized candy bars to everyone's personal requests.

We got further up than I have ever been and had a blast! Jackie fell asleep sitting up next to me on the bus, even though he got carried all day.  It was pretty funny. . .the narrows are probably one of my favorite places and I love that the kids were able to see and enjoy it's beauty.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Emerald Pools--Zion's National Park

In August, the kids and I (and Bailey-pad--my right hand woman!) and some extended family went to Zions National Park. I love this place!

Naturally, Jack decided the top of Emerald pools was the perfect place to relieve himself. So much so that he finished the hike on the way down nakie.

-what you can't see here is a no swimming sign-

We hiked during the day and swam and played tennis by night and had a great time, with one exception, one of the people we were traveling with behaved inappropriately toward me. When writing up this post I was absolutely not going write anything about what happened. But every time my kids see the pics from this trip they mention this incident so I thought I would say a few things so as they later look through this journal they will also remember my thoughts on the subject.


You can't control how other people behave but you can control their access to you, meaning you don't have to continue to expose yourself to them. You move past. Crappy things happen but we don't need to carry them around with us. Forgive others and yourself--that does not mean things go back to how they were--and let it go.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

So I just about died yesterday . . .

Or at the least, I was almost seriously injured. Cereal.

The children had their usual gaggle of friends over and I was getting them out of the house to be loud outside. "The pool, perfect" I thought. They jumped in for about two seconds then jumped right back out--too cold! Not wanting their dripping loud bodies back in the house I decided to fire up the hot tub for the first time in 2013.

We've used the hot tub a dozen times but I always struggle to remember which direction all the pool knobs and levers are supposed to be turned to when the season starts again. Yesterday, I decided to turn the two knobs opposite direction. I pressed the ignite button and upon hearing the whoosh noise, I walked away satisfied.  I continued fiddling around with the pool equipment not completely confident that I had it positioned correctly. Water from the hot tub was running down the waterfall into the pool. "Shoot," I think to myself, "I don't want to heat the whole pool, maybe I'll turn this knob in this direction?" Water continues flowing down the waterfall into the pool. "Darn" I think, still something is wrong.

The tree above the pool heater has one low errant branch that all of sudden bothers me. Even though the heater is already lit I climb over the pool equipment and move the branch so that it's now on the other side of the concrete wall behind the pool equipment. The kids are splashing around in the hot tub enjoying the influx of heat coming through the water jets. I resumed adjusting the knobs so I can stop heating the ENTIRE pool. I move one more knob to the left. I lean about one foot away from the heater as it continues on. The flow through the stream slows. "Good," I think.

As a professional busybody I clean up the area RIGHT NEXT TO THE HEATER. About thirty seconds pass and I'm satisfied; moving my work away from the heater. When I'm about fifteen feet away and separated by a concrete wall, I hear it.


I hear a huge whoosh sound and I see a gigantic fireball. Terror surges through me as I can't quite yet understand what is happening. The fireball goes ten feet in all directions surrounding the heater. Then it's gone. Panicking, I look up at the kids, trying to put it all together. Then it happens again.

Now I understand. The pool heater is exploding. BOOM Whoosh I scream for Chad. I scream like a crazy woman -- like a woman who has to stop her pool heater from exploding without being burnt in the process. BOOM Whoosh, it continues. The stucco wall is shielding me from the danger of pieces being blown apart from the unit. BOOM whoosh I am screaming bloody murder for Chad to come help me. Where the bleep is he, I think. I can't leave and go get him to help. By now the children are completely freaked out. They are slowly edging down the edge of the pool to the exit of the pool area.

Owen is directing them, "Mom, what can I do to help?" 

"GO GET YOUR FATHER!!" I bellow.

BOOM whoosh. It is relentless and I know we have to get it shut off before it starts to break apart, catches the trees on fire and then the house. I'm still screaming "CHAD, help me!!! I need you CHADDDDDD!" I grab the long metal pole we use to skim the pool and to try to turn it off. The button is recessed so it has to be hit at an angle. BOOM whoosh. I am shaking so badly that I can't hit the button at the necessary angle. 

Chad comes striding out, "what is going on?! You need to calm down." He starts to walk around the wall to turn off the button with his hand. "NOOOOOO!!" I scream, "it's exploding and you'll be hit by the fireball!" Chad calmly walks back towards me and takes the pole from my hands and turns the heater off. I scream, "we have to get it off, the fireball is getting bigger and that tree's going to light on fire!!!"

"It's off honey." he calmly tells me. "WHAT??!!  No, you have to hit the button and turn it off, it's going to explode any second!!!" I scream.

"It's off." he says and I can see that it is, in fact, off. Hot tears burst out of me and I am shaking like a leaf.

The rest of the day I wax serious about the whole incident. It's got me thinking. This experience is an example of what it means to put upon yourself the whole armor of God. Several things fell into place to keep me and our home safe. They were:

  • promptings by the Holy Ghost--moving the tree branch;
  • keeping the commandments--the stucco wall (which was built per building code) as a shield from danger;
  • prayer--my screaming for help and the fact that I didn't get Chad by my shouting, it was Owen. I am reminded of this quote from President Hinkley, "Oftentimes, the Lord answers our prayers through other people. He often uses others to accomplish his will, or to answer our fervent prayers."
  • courage to chose the right--stay with it even though I was afraid.
  • faith--well I can't think of anything that went with faith but I can attest that it's definitely part of God's armor.
I'm fairly certain that none of the children who witnessed this experience will ever have a desire to play with fire. Either that or they'll become insane pyromaniacs who blow up buildings. Who's to say?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tour de jour

Throw every expectation out the window (or boat in our case). Last week we returned from our first, and last, trip to Cabo San Lucas. (For the same money, I prefer Hawaii .) We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the last night of our trip. The Mexicans offered us a glass bottom boat tour about 10-times-a-day and we took them up on it on the last night! We had low, low, low expectations of the excursion because of the seemingly real possibility that the crappy boat could sink, run out of fuel, or our inebriated captain could just fall overboard.
My mama and brother Josh accompanied us on the tour de jour—these two also love to have fun and throw caution to the wind! Moises was our captain and even through inebriated, he was darling. Upon boarding the “vessel” Moises inquired how much we had paid to his wrangler; “$45” we chimed. Moises shook his head sincerely because the wrangler paid him $10 for his services.

Despite this, Moises cheerfully took us to see much more than the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas that was promised (see the sea lion above? There were TONS of them!). Halfway through the trip we filled his tip jar with the rest of the money in our pockets, which sadly was only like $14 dollars; all of us wanted to give more to our darling Moises.

Chad and I were so impressed with Moises—he received a paltry sum for his services but maintained a great attitude. He threw out food to attract the fishes and they came by the hundreds! Bright yellow and black fish, Nemos, tiny orange fish, blue/green fish, long black fish. It was seriously SO cool.
Moises took us over to the pelicans hang out and we couldn’t get over how giant they were. We saw about 50 of them! Throughout the charter, Moises was shouting for us to look at this, and to look at that, hey, it’s Scooby-Doo rock, see it? See it? Look at this cave—it’s where two people go in and three people come out—Owen was particularly curious about this observation. Look, it’s a rock shaped like the Virgin Mary, etc, etc. We couldn’t see everything, but the Scooby-Doo rock was spot on.

The tour lasted maybe 90 minutes and we enjoyed every second of it. We couldn’t get over how great it was. This was probably due to our low expectations going in. Expectations are a dicey tomato. While it’s important to have high standards of people and experiences, this can often lead to disappointment and frustration. The tour was so great because we went with no preconceived notions. We were able to just enjoy it for what it was and see it for all the positives that it offered—ignoring that the vessel was the equivalent to a blow up row boat or that any quick movement on it could sink us.

This experience was a good reminder to us to just mellow out and look for the positive because even things that aren’t perfect can be pretty darn amazing.