Monday, August 31, 2009

Hello, my name is

...the lazy blogger. I'll get my act together, but today it's dreary and rainy and I just have this video to share. Will you still love me when you see what I film? I'm not sure which is scarier - rake-wielding baby weaving in and out of madly-cycling siblings, or baby's choice of liquid refreshment. Slurp - ahhhh.

Bike Derby Daredevil from Bethany Lear on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Walk a mile: Part 1

"Walk a mile in my shoes" is often tossed out to warrant off quick blasts of judgment; "been there done that" has become the snide way to remind others of an experience.

Maybe the most effective way of causing anyone to stop a moment and consider something, is to tell of a personal experience. Don't we all use these examples in daily life? We tell of the friend, the neighbor, the family member that has experienced Topic A, thereby validating our knowledge on Topic A. Personal experience speaks volumes.

Today I have a personal experience to share. For lack of a local Town Hall Meeting, it's blog fodder.

For 21 of my 33 years, I did not have health insurance. I grew up in a rural eastern NC county, for which the statistics of poverty are out-ranked only by the Mississippi Delta region and Appalachia. I would venture to guess that most of the people I grew up with and around did not get regular medical treatment unless they were a.) teachers with state coverage, b.) old enough to qualify for Medicare. This is not a referendum on parenting provision (love you Mom!), only a tale of life and some faces behind the statistics of the uninsured.

There were no well-child visits in my youth and no yearly physicals, no preventive care or screenings. I remember only one trip to the doctor, when I was 8 years old. I had a high fever for long enough, my mom finally took me in for a check-up. I remember my older brother suddenly began wearing glasses as a teenager. I recently wondered if his "vision screening" occurred at the DMV when he went to get his license. Either way, unlike today, there were no regular vision, hearing, or autism screenings in infancy or toddlerhood. We received tetanus shots and other major vaccines at the county health department, and that was our childhood medical care.

Fortunately, we were mostly healthy. We certainly got medical care when it was necessary, but the sliding line of necessity was significantly higher than today. Let's just say there were no "frivolous" visits for allergy shots, weird fevers, strange rashes or falls lower than 5 feet. A far cry from my own children's experience, and the comfort of the monthly or yearly visits, with the screenings to assure us that there are no significant underlying conditions.

When Rick and I married, and I started my first job, I finally became one of the proud insured. I got all my check-ups and marveled at the accessibility of medical care. A few years later, when Rick lost his job, we both had to choose the risk of being uninsured, due to the unaffordable cost of COBRA, and the uncertainty of how long we would need it. There was children's care available for Cole at the time, through the state of Georgia, and we could countenance our own risk but not his. When we moved back to NC briefly, the only state plan available for children was Medicaid. I promptly enrolled him. This foray into the world of the uninsured caused changes in the direction of our life, stress, and changes in the course of our family.

The biggest consideration at the time was the lack of maternity coverage. Yes, today our spacing of almost 4 years between children seems planned and perfect. At the time, we had no choice but to wait. For me, it was a life on hold. Everything I wanted, as far as growing our family, had to wait because we couldn't afford to buy coverage, and we couldn't get coverage until a job became available. We moved forward and eventually back into the world of insurance coverage, thankfully free of pre-existing conditions.

I am telling you this for a few different reasons. The first is to say that if you know me, you have indeed seen firsthand one of those "millions uninsured" that the media tells us are out there. The second reason is a cry from my heart. If you are currently insured and pleased with your coverage, this is not for you. This fight is not yours. This cause is for those people who don't necessarily have a national voice, the many that are uninsured, underinsured or uninsurable. You see, I've seen a lot of angry people, thanks to the media coverage. And I wonder, can they not try on another's shoes for a moment, and consider a life without healthcare options? We are the wealthiest nation in the world, and yet members of my immediate family still go without insurance coverage. It is not out of choice, it is out of necessity. The immediate needs of food and lodging will always outweigh the somewhat "ethereal" idea of future medical care.

You may not support a government option, but the necessity of healthcare reform is one that is blinding us. The reform will be for the faceless, nameless millions who have less care and deserve more. I sat on that side of the fence, and I can tell you, it is scary and it is restrictive and my heart goes out to individuals and families who have no option but to wait and hope another shoe doesn't drop.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A worthy field trip

Just a quick "hi-ya!" from me to you." Cause I've got, like, a baby to hold and stuff. You know. And some reading to do. And possibly, just possibly a piano to practice on.


Remember back when I had some jangle to spend, and I left you hanging and said I was getting a video cam or maybe a boat or a new child. Well, I totally did not. On the boat and the new child. Yes, on the vid cam, though we agreed that was just a regular old purchase, not a jangle initiative. (I know, how many times can I spend this little bit of money? Ssh!)

And yes on a piano! Tres lovely, my friends, tres lovely. Particularly that pretty little sliding button called "volume." Volume, you are my new best friend. You and "demo" make the digital piano revolution a hit. But back to volume - if I may steal your purpose, I would like to try installing a sliding control on the back of Child One's neck. Just to hear the chatter level go from an ear-splitting "10" down to a civil "3" could be divine intervention. Mmm.

**volume daydream break**

Nice, right? When your precious cargo gets back from school today and proceeds to recount the day at warp speed and volume 10, you will think of this.

Actually, I have another reason for posting today, though I did want to tell you of the sound of music now filling the house so beauteously. And how thrilled my Mom is that the 7 years of piano lessons will perhaps become some worthwhile pursuit and teaching moment for my brood. Like the Von Trapps! Only we could be called Rickey and The Lyrics... (Learics?) Right? I'm getting a shirt that says that, right now.

My reason for posting is to send you on an enjoyable, worthy field trip, over to etsy. Enjoyable, because you know you love etsy and all the fine handmade goods. Worthy, because my college friend and blog compatriot has just opened a shop! Tina makes lovely and clever handmade items, including cards and envelopes that make you want to frame them. Her husband Jack takes exquisite photographs. But a fantastic twist to this little venture is that the profits of purchases made through mid-October will benefit a school in Morocco, that Jack, Tina and their 3 little ones live near. The profits of sales from the etsy shop will help dig a well for the school, provide artwork and supplies for the school, and improve the environment and basic provisions for the children.

A beautiful listing of items, for a beautiful cause. So take a moment to read Tina's post on her shop opening, and then a moment to browse her wares. You will enjoy, I promise. And tell her I sent you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

fickle creature

That fickle creature, inspiration. Oh, whimsical mistress, inspiration.

This is a continual topic amongst creative people of every sort. I hear it from my Mom, as she works with fabrics daily and creates divine window treatments. I hear it from my friends as they craft and scrap and photograph and decorate as the inspiration dictates. I marvel at my foodie friends as they work creative magic in the kitchen. (Though I am responsible for that gustatory delight called the Banana Boat.)

And I think on inspiration myself, as I move about my day molding this home, and writing about this life. I think it's fair to say that whatever brand of creativity moves you, nothing is more laborious than creating when you are not "feeling it." But when the flow is on and that spark lights up - go with it, baby.

A few weeks ago I dove into something new, because I was inspired by my friend Rachael's pencil drawing. She had come upon a drawing of a phoenix, and thought I might be interested. Umm, possibly, right? Right. I was elated, and set out to make my little fellow an awesome piece of artwork for his room.

Only, I forgot that I don't really paint. Craft-painting isn't the same thing as painting something that you hope will become suitable for hanging...
But as my crafty pal Traci assures me, I am sometimes bold. Not necessarily in all aspects of life, but in diving into a project and believing something whole and worthwhile will result, I am game. And since I promised I would share my results, as this phoenix experiment has been responsible for my sparse blogginess...

Here he is, though my photog skills are questionable. :)

I included the shot below, taken without flash, because the actual colors are deeper tones. I painted a layer underneath of shiny red, and that was all the flash picked up.

It's safe to say the nursery is changing as Phoenix grows, and I am excited to hang this where he can see it from his crib, and growl at it as he does at all things. Here's to that elusive spark called inspiration, may you ride it to its fullest!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If labeling is your game...

...then this should be in your repertoire. Maybe it already is, and I am a late bloomer. :) Entirely possible.

My predicament was this: I needed to label the backpacks for school. The teacher had requested this, so she could easily find each bag. I looked around for initial tags, and found to my surprise that the initial "I" is rarely made. The clerk's explanation was that many artists skip a few letters, due to low sales. Interesting, eh. Frustrating - mais oui.
My need for uniformity would not allow me to buy one adorable tag with a "J" and then search for a little-made "I" tag. I turned to Etsy. I found many instances of adorable, but my inner frugal-elf said no way. And my inner craft-elf said (everybody chime in now!)
"I can do that!"

And so I did. Please enjoy my new tags, crafted from scrapbooking papers, and laminated at Kinko's for the low cost of $2. For all 4. Ah-yeah-yeah... On the reverse side is a coordinating bohemian paper, and our phone number.
I am totally giving away the farm here, because this is my new gift idea for anyone and everyone. Please act surprised come Christmas-time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sideblog: Sticky

To the child who secretly rolled the tape-runner all over my craft desk, causing any paper placed on the desk to stick...
I'll get you my pretty. And your little sticky fingers too.
The End.

Suddenly, the smile comes

Suddenly, I have something to say! You didn't know that I didn't have anything to say before, but it's true. I was dry. Angst-ridden. Unsettled for days. I don't have fun sharing that part, so I skim over it and typically post cute baby shots to distract you.

Only, it's hard to get cute baby shots when said baby is lap-bound. Poor, poor ferklempt baby. His itty-bitty mind cannot comprehend where the kids have gone and why they are not here to delight, entertain and toss him around.

I am a poor substitute for a growling squeezing big sister that greets him with a lit-up face and arms wide open. Or another sister that is chattery and patronizing and wants to dress him up. Or a giant brother who carries him around and opens doors and shares forbidden snacks on tall forbidden furniture.

Poor, poor boy. Small lonely boy. Even now, he wanders around looking out of windows, keening puppy-like and searching. And as a compass to north, returns to my side. "Da! Da! Day! This! Sit!" he beckons me back to the giant comfy recliner. I give in again and again, curling him into me, trying to soothe his little self.

His right thumb steals softly into his mouth. His left arm curls around my neck, fingers trailing into my hair. Ah. Silence. This will do for the moment. He is pleased. I am pleased. Minutes pass and momentarily calmed, he climbs down again to explore.

And we begin again.

I have watched this unfold for 8 days, and read yesterday about a similar sweet tale. I wonder how long it will take for a new routine to emerge. I have no self-portraits of my lap-curled boy and I, but something else fun has happened.

Hence the title of the smile coming. I won a cd of what will certainly be great tunes, from a blogger I really enjoy! The week is looking up. A shot of luck seems to have that effect...

Saturday, August 15, 2009


minutiae: precise details; small or trifling matters.

The devil is in the details.
And I am deviled by details. The many small bits both precise and necessary, and absolutely trivial. Yet they fight for space and don't recognize the difference between themselves.

How long ago did the baby nap. What size shoe is girl A wearing now. Did I put a sandwich in the lunch bag. Are we out of milk. Is the garage door closed. Have I seen C's shoes lately. Is it time to meet the bus. What will dinner be. Have they had a bath in 2 days. Are there dirty clothes under the bed. Is the porch light on. Where is the case to that CD. Did I sign & return the HW log.

The thoughts run through and around as they do with us all, until a point in time when exhaustion sets in and I plead for no more thoughts, requirements or memories of responsibility. Until the worn-down mantle settles over me and I am done. And I need a moment and a space around myself where there is no other, and in particular no one smaller than myself. It is the balance of motherhood that must be recognized. The tipping point that, left unseen, can only be trouble. On one side lies rechargeable personal batteries and rejuvenation. The other side carries only chaos and bitter fatigue.

The minutiae holds it all. The precise details of a functioning life, and the trifling matters of human nature. The minutiae holds the mother. And she must delve into it to recognize that crucial moment of stepping away for the breath. Releasing the details into the ether, and trusting that no small thing will go undone, come undone for the moment.

I take the breath, stand in the center, become whole again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

At 15 months

Today you are 15 months old, small buddy of mine. You have taken a great leap of attitude this past month, deciding that communication is composed of more than cries. We are grateful for that. The sounds that are you right now are a "Roarrrr!" and "What's this?" Everything in your world roars, from the little bird in the yard, to the trees, to a dinosaur. OK, that one you got right.
You like to wave a stick, a broom, or a bat high in the air as you toddle around babbling and looking for fun.
You say a few words like "dekdas" for breakfast, "datder" for cracker and "Da-ee," always Daddy. Hi and Bye sound the same and are accompanied by a cheerful wave "Dye!" You've got that "d" sound down pat.
You ask "What's this?" with perfect diction and we always respond, even when it is the same chair or toy or food that you just asked about. We hear you questioning "What's this?" dozens of times a day, and we never get tired of it. We all say it too, trying to be as sweet and winsome as you.
You refuse to say Mama, and we know it is on purpose. You smirk at me, give me a squinty-eyed grin, and laugh. You know there is no need to call my name. I will come to you whatever you say. I tease you and ask you to say Mama. You grin and say "Da! Day!"
You win. I heard the girls tell you just yesterday that they would get your Day for you.
I am Day, you little hambone.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Your Favorite Part

The First Day of School Favorite Things:

Cole: "Finding out we can earn points and get rewards, like a no-homework pass, or sitting at the teacher's desk all day!"
(Ah, 3rd grade... ah, my son... who thinks sitting with his teacher is a terrific reward for good behavior...)

Isabella: "Playing with hoops on the playground!"

Jadyn: "Riding on the bus!"

Phoenix: "Sitting on Mommy's lap all day! Undisturbed!"

It went off without a hitch, as they stepped onto the bus with big grins and eyes only for the day ahead. They left me smiling, and they returned home smiling & chattering and full of stories.

Sweet success.
More later... good night.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hither and Yon

That's where I've been this week. Hither and yon. Shoes, socks, jeans, backpacks. For three little darlings that will step onto a bus in the morning, and thus reduce the hours per day that I spend being outnumbered and out-maneuvered.

At 7:30am my kingdom will be reduced to a one-on-one ratio for six hours. Mano a Mano, little Phoenix. You and me. I like them odds, little dude. And I know you do, as you have previewed your plans for me, and they include being rocked for 20 minutes at the time while you suck your thumb and play dentist with my lips and teeth.

Other than the school shopping, I have been painting and panicking. Maybe the panicking is responsible for the painting, who knows. Regardless, the outcome will be interesting, I think. We'll see. I haven't attempted this sort of painting before, and I won't try to describe it. But I will post photos as soon as I am done.

The panicking has been over the idea of my twin loves going to big girl school. I can't pretend they are so little anymore, since they are the general size of first-graders, but I can still sink gigantic smooches into Isabella's plump cheeks - so that is little enough. And though Jadyn has lost her three-fat-roll arms and legs, and traded them in for the long, sleek type, she still chatters with a lisp that I have to giggle over. These two have been my easiest, even though they came as a package. They play together happily all day, they rarely beg for treats when we have to run errands, and they sit happily in the car no matter how far the drive. They say things like "Put out a decoy!" whenever Phoenix comes by to smash their Legos, and they cheerfully refill his water cup and share their snacks. I think I need their help. I know I will miss their company.

Then the panic subsides as the noise level raises the roof, and I find all four kids in the crib with Phoenix after his nap. And I hear Cole shaking the crib and yelling "Earthquake! Hold on tight!" And the panic abates as I see the girls sharing their markers with Phoenix, and watch him enjoying the flavor and consistency of fresh marker. And then the panic disappears as I meet their new teachers, and feel that they are a perfect fit. Preschool is a good thing. They will learn that their "numbers" are actually "letters" and that is a really good thing, and probably very useful in the long run.

And that is where I have been for a week. Switching from shopping to panicking to painting and back again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's Blogoversary Time!

So a year has gone by, and much time has been spent on this little cyber-porch of mine. How should I commemorate this day? Favorite posts of the year... what this all means to me... where I am going with it... will I ever have a part 2 to any of the series I started... wow. I'll have to think about this for a minute. It's a lot to wade through and I'm glad there's no one around.

Did I hear something? Hello? Are you out there, listening to me listen for noises? I thought for sure I heard a click and a scroll and definitely an enlarging of the browser...

Oh Hi! You caught me! I was thinking about, well, you caught me, so you know exactly what I was just thinking about. Blogoversary stuff. What a year, huh. We've been through so much, and I mean all over the board, right? From the early days with Baby Four, when we played that awesome game Whack-a-mole, through the heated political season when I declared my feelings for Obama and Palin. I've never been much for tagging, labeling or linking older posts, or sticking with the continuity of a story line, but you've forgiven me and continued to come around for a visit. And then again, you've never been much for "joining a blog" so I guess we're even.
(That labeling thing would come in handy right about now, because I swear I've posted about how "joining a blog" is nothing like "joining the communist party.")
You've gotten a glimpse into this family of six, with its tender moments and sentimental times, and you've witnessed my attempts to order this maw of kid chaos. Your proudest achievement over the past year, though, may have been weathering through my obession du jour, Twilight. And for that, I am really sorry. My literary taste has also been all over the board this year. (I don't mean a word of it Edward, I still love you. Mwahh.) In fact, I have often thought of adding a component around here, and producing some book reviews of the thousand and one titles per month that I read. But that leads back to my inability to commit to continuity, remember?
You've told me that the kid quotes and tales are my bread and butter, and for that I am grateful. It is a never ending fount around here. Though sometimes I may have taken it too far, once again, you showed up to see what The Clan was up to. (Did you notice? I found the "joining a blog" post, totally by accident! Ah, closure.)
Speaking of taking it too far, if you have clicked over to read even half of the links I've provided, then you are a true Borderland warrior. I salute your dogged determination to support my Blogoversary reminiscences. (See previous picture of smiling B, for thank-you grin. Orange you glad I didn't say banana. Because I could have, you know. I could have linked to yet another post, and it would have said banana.)
And now, this Blogoversary tally would not be complete without a nod to my bloggiest buddy Susan, and a gigantic thank you to my pals. You all have Susan to thank for pulling me out of my safe little Baby Home Pages storyville, and into this wide-open blogland of possibility. I started my online posting 5 years ago, with an ultrasound picture of the impending twins, and a little story about preparing for that sort of surprise. As for my pals, my supporters, my best of the best - thank you for all of your emails of encouragement this year. Emails count as comments, and I totally don't blame you for not joining a blog. Really! ;)
And the rest is...
...yet to come.
For now, thanks for celebrating my Blogoversary with me, and just know that I am still on the Borderland.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cure for the Monday blues

In the firm belief that everybody needs something to smile at on a Monday, I give you Phoenix. Future WWF Smackdown style. The Boy Who Wouldn't Quit. Mr. Big Who is Tired of Older Sibs Pushing Him Around.

Phoenix releases all of this pent-up frustration at our neighbor's, when she babysits him. And although the two other boys are 5 and 10 months older than him, he has found his style and his leverage. He will not be denied.

Please enjoy....

Attack of The Phoenix!

Attack of the Phoenix from Bethany Lear on Vimeo.

For those of you who tested the video for me last week, your consolation prize is below.

Happy Monday!