This Is Us.

This Is Us.
This Is Us. (Couldn't Resist.)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Quarterly Creative Offering, Otherwise Known as a Christmas Letter


Hey you!  Thanks for stopping in and reading this sporadic blog.  Here's our family card and letter for 2016.  

Insight into my mind:
1. Read last year's post on family pictures.
2. Take this year's picture.
3. Buy Groupon for $17.99 for 40 picture cards.  Neglect offer for $27.99 for 70.   I am not as wealthy as Scrooge McDuck and have you bought 4 books of stamps lately?!  Plus, 70?  I wasn't Homecoming Queen, I never rushed a sorority, and I'm an introvert.
4. Mail letters to extended family and a few close friends.
5. Regret not buying the 70 cards to have extras on hand, run short, order a few prints from CVS, dig out real, folding style cards to send out a few last-minute glad tidings.  Hope that suffices.

The End.

(Love you, mean it.  Merry Christmas.)




The Twelve Tidbits From Our Year
12 approximate times I used our new elliptical machine.  That may average to about $60 a use.  NAILED IT. 

11 tactics the kids employ at bedtime for maximum sleep avoidance: 1) water 2) Jeopardy 3) YouTube funnies on our bed 4) visits from Mom and Dad bedside 5) prayers 6) “Will you stay with me till I fall asleep?”—which is both precious and guilt-inducing-- “Cat’s in the Cradle” anyone? 7) blanket retrieval 8) lovey retrieval 9) Storytime 10) deep thoughts and ways my feelings got hurt 6 months ago (a Sarah classic) 11) theological questions for the ages (“Does God poop?”).

10 dollar founding father without a father…”  A lyric from the musical Hamilton in which I became engrossed this summer and subsequently became our around-town driving music.  I try to turn down the radio whenever a more colorful word is used, but I’m waiting for someone pick up on and test out one of those colorful terms.  Alex and I are going to see the musical on Broadway this coming January and we can’t wait!  I want to get the kids “Young, Scrappy, and Hungry” t-shirts (another lyric) and take an obnoxious number of pictures to blast on social media with references to the musical because I’m fun like that.  I’m not sure how I escaped the lure of a drama program in my formative years.

9 is the age Jeremiah will turn this coming May which baffles my comprehension greatly.  J is in second grade, is an avid plane enthusiast (he took his first commercial flight this year with Dad), is working hard on his reading and decoding words like a champ, and will eat 3 pounds of chips and salsa (his preferred meal) on nights we wait for his sisters to finish ballet class.  He is sly, funny, perceptive, and sweet.  A boy of hidden talents that surprises us daily.  Firstborn love of my mother’s heart.

8 The number of childhood fads that are new or resurrected by the toy manufacturers and Netflix that my girls are mildly obsessed with: My Little Ponies, The Trolls, Care Bears, Shopkins, Frozen (Forever and Ever, Amen), EverAfter High, Secret Life of Pets, and Strawberry Shortcake.  I could name at least 10 more, but you would be tempted to call Child Protective Services for all the mind-numbing animation to which we have exposed the children.  (We do try to keep the TV off. Sometimes.  And read. Or even go outside.  Honest.)  For all the silly fads that come and go, it’s been a treat to introduce the kids to the original Muppets movies, Hailey Mills classics such as Parent Trap and Summer Magic and The Christmas Story Movie (“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”) We read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this summer and watched the movie.  The girls are still making connections to that story.

7 is the age Sarah turns this coming January and her party was planned the second we blew out the candles on her 6th birthday “Barbie and the Rockin’ Royals” cake.  Sarah is our cruise director, natural leader and extrovert.  She’s the kid glue.  As an introvert, it’s funny to navigate a child who just wants to meet everyone and invite them to do things! Sarah is a first grader and is involved with dance, STEAM club, and church choir.  When I’m in her school to eat lunch or volunteer, it seems everyone is Sarah’s buddy.  Sarah and her sister fight like cats and dogs, but she is also quick to comfort J or Rachel when they are hurt or sad.  She has a sensitive spirit and became a baptized believer in Jesus this May.  It is a privilege to guide her in faith, one I daily struggle to model well, but strive to make the focus of our family life.

6 The number of times I drive at minimum each weekday on Highway 96, a state road that takes me to the kid’s schools, our favored Chick Fil A, and off-shoots me to Sonic, Dad’s office, church, or Target.  I have a hard time not taking this exit any time I’m on the interstate.  I’d like a sash and tiara to wear as “Mrs. Highway 96” as I sit perched on the rolled down top of a Mustang convertible to collect my progeny and wave to all the parents in the carpool lane as they scroll on their phones.  I think it would add a bit of panache to the whole affair.

5 My baby will be 5 in 2017.  FIVE.  Rachel is a force of joy.  Sassy, mischievous, sharp, and a total Mama’s girl.  She’s a clown and has a “I-hate-waking-up-on-your-terms-but-love-my-preschool-once-I’m-there” lifestyle.  She will create a booty-shaking performance at the drop of a hat, but to my chagrin, also feels perfectly justified in lashing out at her dear mother during times of discipline with the stinging jab, “You’re a stupid butthead.”  I take full responsibility for her believing she is the most beautiful, capable human in existence and ask for your prayers that she does not one day end up as a contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelor”.  #MamaTried

4 weeks of the Whole 30 plan.  For all my kidding around, I took a month to eat in a very limited diet of protein and vegetables with no processed carbohydrates or milk products. (DAIRY. No dairy!)  I did it and liked it and felt great.  It taught me some good basic principles for healthy cooking and eating that I’d like to continue to work towards. 

3 rooms painted.  We are not big DIYers, but took a weekend to paint the girls rooms a “Plie Pink” in keeping with the theme of being new dance students.  It turned out beautifully and inspired a Great Fall Throw Out All the Junk in the Closets movement that made me preen just a bit in my homemaking skills.

2 new states visited.   We took an extended family road trip this summer with Alex’s Mom, Dad and Grandma to visit the Creation Museum in Kentucky, The Cincinnati Zoo and Waterpark and visit with longtime friends from his Grandma’s childhood in Ohio.  The kids did a great job on such a long car ride and really enjoyed all the sights. 

1 new member to be added to our extended family.  My sister Natalie and her husband James are expecting their first child, a daughter, this coming March.  The whole family is buoyed with excitement this Christmas as we visit with the parents-to-be and look forward to this most desired blessing in the Mead family.  The kids talk about “Aunt Natie’s baby” almost daily and we are planning to visit the family of three in Texas during the week of Spring Break.  There’s so much good in store in 2017!
We sincerely hope you have a joyful Christmas with moments of wonder and peace.  Thank you for being in our lives. 

Love,
Alex, Melissa, Jeremiah, Sarah, and Rachel






Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poor Neglected Blog...

C'mere, let me pay you some attention.

It's September... I'm driving my taxi (#MinivanMafia) e'ry morning and dropping off Rachel at her 3 morning preschool which is a learning lab at the high school.  She protests daily, but greets me with "Don't look in my bag!  It's a surprise!" when I pick her up.  Sarah and J are doing well and J is even shadowing in Sarah's classroom for 30 minutes at the end of the day.  We're all bopping along, doing dance and choir; we just finished our first long read-aloud of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  (not without a lot of redirection and silliness) this weekend and watched the movie.  I've got the girls hooked and we've started Prince Caspian.  I'd highly recommend a re-read and/or re-watch of this series.  I caught a few new allusions that delighted me.

It occurs to me that after 9 years of being out the of professional world I have filled my inner life with great books, blogs, podcasts and music as I can't seem to stop myself from recommending a new informational avenue to any live human with whom I get the pleasure of having a conversation.

I'm also jogging (more than once!) and eating like a sensible person.  (Baby steps.)

I'll drop in a few recent favorites to add some substance to this brief missive.


 Outlander by Diana Galbaldon (also a Starz series--adult content warning)

Author  Liane Moriarty who recently released Truly, Madly, Guilty

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend series on CW (season 1 on Netflix-- hilarious genre-bending musical comedy, also adults only)

The Popcast Newsletter (with long read links)


And I'd be remiss not to include this nugget:





Have a good one!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Mama Needs A Nerve Pill: A Summer Update

This has been the month of June in a nutshell:

Road trip!
Soccer camp!
VBS prep and teaching week!
Swim lessons!
Evening VBS!
Few naps!
Lots of snacks!

Or, from this desperate-for-sympathy text I composed to a friend:

Pretty sure my husband has bribed my youngest child with the promise of perhaps living with Ariel somewhere under the sea to secure her position as baby of the family as she has decided to make life unbearable! If I needed a death nail in any fantasy of more children--- mission accomplished! 1 hour tantrum pre and post swimming lesson.... Pushed through and did great! She laughed! Then her sandal fell off and yelled 30 minutes because I dared to retrieve it! Rude! She wanted to find it!

So, I have overscheduled fun here! Said child will be locked in if necessary for nap! #rantover #angelchild #soblessed  #exclaimationmarks


So.  Your basic no-problems-problems.

We've honestly had a blast, even if I've been up and out before 9 a.m. most mornings. (I know. Sad trombone.)  My only requirement for this Saturday is no-changing-out-of-my-pajamas before 10 a.m.  I need one morning of the week that doesn't start off as a hostile negotiation to empty one's bladder and not wear a too-small princess dress everywhere we go.  I've given up on brushing hair and wearing shoes with any regularity for this child.  Though I may have seriously considered bagging up every piece of clothing and doling out the basic necessities each morning.  Not ruling anything out.

Here are some highlights from our month o'fun.  And the kids and neighbors are happily glued to Minions as I write this, so I can make it without a run to CVS for the pills.

J Man Turns 8

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum

Carousel at Cedar Point  

Mama don't do the Scrambler.



Waterpark at Columbus Zoo


Mercer Soccer Day Camp

At the height of our excitement for VBS:Submerged

Sarah is becoming so skilled and fearless!



Such a brave kid!

Nerve pill pusher.  (Whom I sincerely adore.)



The fella I try to amuse with my end-of-day recaps.



When this face asks for a flamingo costume for the VBS animal contest,
you look pull out the glue gun and make it  happen.

I'm sure she'll make the gifted program.  (She's a turtle.)





Bonus: Halloween is handled.








Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Lot Can Happen At An Altar

A lot can happen at an altar.

You lay something down.

You pick something up.

You feel pressed down on every side.

You keep coming back.

And one day, that thing that drove you to your knees, it gets turned around.

You see it redeemed.

I have come to the altar many times.  Sometimes I just kneel at my seat, and sometimes, I've stood on my chair, hopped off the back (and tripped ever so elegantly) to run there.

There's no casualness at the altar.

You are all in.


When my son was an infant, I came to the altar, and laid down my pride.  I knew I wasn't up to the task if I had any doubts about my relationship to the One about whom I would be teaching my child.  After almost two decades of fear, I went up to the altar, and later that night, I was immersed again in the baptismal waters--not saved by them-- but freed, finally, from any niggling doubts about my obedience to the Lord. I was not saved that day-- I do believe it happened at age 10-- but I was free.  Absolutely assured. Done and done.

Once again, I came to God's altar, just a few carpeted stairs, when my second child was a few months old.  She was being dedicated that day and the extended family was gathered around to witness this happy day.  I smiled, posed for pictures, and even hosted a party.  On the inside, I was hanging on by a thin thread.  A very thin one.

Looking back now, I see that I was smack dab in the middle of my own personal sifting, which is church talk for going through a really, really hard time all the while believing/hoping/wondering if it is being used for a greater purpose. For your benefit even. And for God's glory.

 I was drowning in anxiety.

I said the right things, and I did the right things, but I was petrified.

Take postpartum anxiety, coupled with what I absolutely believe to be spiritual warfare; two children under two, plus your child's undiagnosed autism and increased work responsibilities for your spouse and you are well on you way to either a breakdown or a breakthrough.  But something's breaking.

I think I did both.

My pride broke, again.

Who I thought I was broke.

Who I hoped I could be, for a time, broke.

I daily questioned if my mind broke.

Even my joy broke.

The only thing that remained constant was my unshakable faith in a personal and constant God.

*

I talked to my doctor, and a Christian counselor.  That was probably the hardest and scariest thing I'd ever done.

I wasn't impervious to life, and I needed help.

Life is hard and everyone needs help.  Even and especially people who've had it pretty easy their whole life.  That'd be me.

Bit by bit, I came out of that hard time.  I sloughed it out. I wore out my little book of helpful bible verses.  I treated them like the lifeline they were. I prayed and prayed. And it got worse before if got better. But it did get better.

I emerged from the fog, stronger and with a faith and family intact.

That second child, and that hard time, continue to teach me.

God turned it around.

**

My daughter Sarah, who was dedicated at the altar on May 29, 2010 walked the aisle to it again and proudly announced her belief in Jesus and was baptized a few weeks later on Mother's Day, May 8, 2016.

God turned it around.  

This child that I fought for, did battle for, in my spirit and my mind, that I still worry I don't give a full and fair share of my attention to--- God chose her. He saved her. He called her little six year old heart to His.

Without any help from me. 

God turned it around.

Big time.








Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Revolutionary Boys With The Way They Talk...

I'm late to the party, but I've caught up to the zeitgeist and discovered the musical Hamilton that was just awarded the Pulitzer prize in drama.  And by discovered, I mean waking up to it on loop in my brain, watching all related Charlie Rose interviews and having my kids bop along in the car as I turn it down on those tricky PG-13 parts.

It is amazing.

It's the story of the American Revolution, centered on the character of Alexander Hamilton, and never has a founding father seemed so real and relevant.  It has all the big themes-- love, loyalty, legacy, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness.  It's told through the language of hip hop and I LOVE IT.  It's not my lane of music typically, but it's weirdly perfect to re-imagine the founding of our country.

If you are curious, dial up Amazon or Apple streaming music and listen to "My Shot", "Ten Duel Commandments" and "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" and I promise you'll want to listen to all 44 songs.  And if you feel the need to deep dive into the story further (I did), here's a link with lots of related video clips.



Secondly, the AMC series Turn  (Mondays at 10 PM) began its third season last night.  We've been invested in the series from the start.  It is based on the book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy ring. What I like most about the series is that it shows there are people of integrity and of dishonor on both sides of the fight. I actually feel pretty ambivalent about main character, Abe Woodhall, because his personal life seems like a soap opera and he can't make his up about to whom he will be devoted.  I admire the British leaders John Andre and Major Hewlett as they are honest in their dealings and respectful of women and servants under their command.  I appreciate how it shows that there is good and bad on any two sides of a debate, and only winning casts one side as righteous.

Okay, class, that's your viewing and listening assignment for the week.  Let me know what you think!