Monday, March 29, 2010

The Thinking Ones

The Thinking Ones, they are the ones that get you.
The old souls with thoughts and concerns not of their years.
Teddy bears and friends are not their last thoughts as they fall asleep.

No, they catch on the edge of sleep, and come back asking about life or death, fire and smoke - the moments and potentials in life that make all of us quake.
Not simple questions in the close of the day. And the answers, spoken to give peace at the moment, are only as true as we can make them.

We are here to take the very best care of you.
We will keep you as safe as ever we can.

And all the while I wonder what brings the fear at that moment. What brings the musing and the questions to the surface. Smoke seems a silent and sneaky menace, fraught with mystery. Conversations with spirits, no less mysterious, and not easily explained enough for bedtime.

I push the worries and thoughts away with a kiss, pressing hard into small cheeks and foreheads. Won't the love push the fear right out the back? Won't the imprint of a kiss remain the last thought before sleep?

Can't a kiss steal away thoughts of eternity?

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Realm of No

We have entered the Realm of No, a treacherous world where meaning is ambiguous and reality is questionable.

"Are you hungry?" I ask, holding out a cracker.
"No!" he responds, reaching for the cracker.

"Are you thirsty?" I ask, offering some milk.
"No!" he insists, grabbing the cup.

"No!" he tells his toys. "No-o-o!" he yells at his siblings.

"Ready for dinner?" I ask, reaching for his arms.
"No!" he yells,climbing into his chair.

Hello, no.
So we meet again.

Phoenix, perched in his "get mommy off the computer" spot

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turning 34

How about that. The turning of the 34. Think about it if you are there, or gracefully more.

I didn't mind it a bit, but then again, I have a built-in age-perspective in my home. What can I say is a down-side about 34, when my husband lived that year long before we met? Not much - because he can say a-plenty. (And does...) So another year goes by and adds on, and I make the same joke to Rickey: "I'm catching up to you..." It's fair to say, since he seems to have inherited an unfair share of Jane's anti-aging genes.

Yesterday was really enjoyable, and I like to think I forced the sun out today simply by wearing sandals. I was showing off the Birthday Pedi, cold weather be derned. Good food was eaten, a foot massage and sprucing up for spring was enjoyed, and gifts were opened. Pictures were taken, but I am trying to get this posty-post-a-posted before Todzilla awakens.

But! The promised long-ago shots are ready, and feel free to be free with your comments on who most favors me, amongst my brood. Yes, yes, I know the straw hair came from me.

Without further ado, I give you - Lil' B.

Age 3 1/2, with Mom and Isaiah - and check out the pajamas my mama made!

My Daddy & I

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Full Day

The day was full, I am full, and I have no wit to share.
But I will have pictures and the will to post tomorrow.
See, told you I couldn't write a post only about me....
I wimped out!
I wore out!
Let's just say good night, and know that it was a good day, from the wee hours to the evening.
A good day.
But, it was not me wishing for snow today, so blame that on somebody else.
I have dredged up some o-l-d photos for your enjoyment.
A demain. Bon soir.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is today my birthday?

"Not yet, today is Sunday..." (repeat for every day of the week)

This is a song I have sung every year since I was a wittle-bitty girl. My Mom still calls to sing it to me, and I think she expects me to break out into song each time. With the voice of a 3 year old from long ago...

We had a small record player, and this was one of the little records I would play on it. There were two other small records that were my favorites: "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "The Good Ship Lollipop." I can remember hiding in the cozy little closet, on top of all of my Mom's shoes, playing these records over and over. Or maybe she told me to go in the closet, because they were tired of hearing those records over and over...

Yeah, that was probably it. Good thing the cord could reach.

So, it is not yet my day, but I have been celebrating all weekend! The weather was great on Friday, and that is an all-around more celebratory day, so Friday started it. I have done a little shopping each day, and although I almost browsed the kid's section yesterday - I stopped myself, and forced myself to walk away from the tiny people clothing, and over to the grown-up-mommy-out-alone-for-a-treat section.

My last treat may be a new camera, because apparently just documenting all of Phoenix's hijinks has caused ours to crap out. Imagine that. Just being a witness caused our camera to give up the ghost!
Luckily I could not photograph him running down the road, multiple times, yesterday. That would have caused the lens to burst into flames, I feel sure. See how even a post about me, on the day before the one day a year I get, has turned into The Phoenix Report?
Well, I will go with it, since I don't have photos of me to share. Who would take them? The ghost-child? (Remember, that is who is responsible for all of the incidents that my 4 deny responsibility for. So why should the ghost-child not also be required to photograph me? That would explain why there are no photographs... whooooo, ghostly....)

OK. The Phoenix Report for this week is this: Phoenix can open exterior doors and leave the house now. Let that sink in. And unlike his sister Jadyn "The Phantom," he is open and direct about it. He struts down the hall with his chin up high, then turns around and yells
"Bye! Ou'side!"
And Todzilla is fast, too. I have to break into an actual run every time. Not appreciated, dude. Not appreciated.

I will return tomorrow with my birthday post, which I hope will be both entertaining and informative - but most importantly, only about me. Heh. That will prove tough, I know.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who knew? Team Clark Part 2

Who knew how many of us were gaga over a nerdy-financial-wizard-nice-guy?!
Well, umm, many, that's how many!

And so I present a few lovely tidbits so that you may feel as though you know Clark, too.

  • On the day of the Habitat build, Clark broadcast his radio show from right in front of the yard I was diligently digging in. I kept one or two ears tuned and sometimes stopped to listen. I may have drifted over behind his tent and loitered, like people on the news often do, as they pretend they are not on camera. I'm pretty sure I *was* on camera, only I have no idea if the video was for posterity or will be aired somewhere. If it is aired, I will find myself, loitering behind Clark and acting all googly. Promise.
  • At one point, I walked up to the street to knock some of the mud off my shoes. I was looking down at my feet, doing a Hee Haw sort of mud-loosening stomp, and noticed some other feet near mine. Yep. There he stood, right beside me as I Hee-Hawed the mud off my feet. Yep. There I went, quickly in the other direction, mortified. Starstruck, I tell you! I could not even speak to him!

My favorite and final Clark tidbit:

  • On each of the 38 Habitat houses that Team Clark has built, there is a beautiful, small stained-glass window in the front, below the peak of the roof. His mark on the house. Awww... (Thanks for that insider-tip, Rach!)

Next time I am down that way, mud-free and toting a camera, I will get some shots of the houses. And that's your Clark fix for the day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Team Clark and Atlanta Habitat

Down in the depths of the city of Atlanta, on Pryor Street in a community named Polar Rock, there is a rebirth taking place. Boarded up houses and vacant lots are being replaced by classically cute bungalows with front porches, and struggling families show their earnestness through dedication and sweat equity.

Saturday, 3 friends and I met a future Habitat homeowner - Joy - as we volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. It was my first time, and it was fantastic. My friend and neighbor Rachael had volunteered last year, and raved about meeting Clark. She signed us up, and we were set to go. Habitat alone is a great thing - but we were on Team Clark, and Clark Howard can make a great thing even greater! King of consumer advocacy, frugality and deal-mongering - oh, Clark, my heart pitter-patters! I was speechless in his presence, and could only think of SNL's Wayne & Garth "We're not worthy... we're not worthy!"

We were divided up into groups of 40 volunteers per house, and 5 houses were to be completed that day. So it was a day of final touches, which meant turning a mud-puddle-ridden construction site into a landscaped lawn. Did I mention there had been torrential rains the day before, so the red GA mud was thick and mucky in spots, and wet and slippery in spots? I was on the landscape crew, and you will chuckle to know that I was among a small few that knew something about planting. My meager experience stood me in good stead, but thankfully we had 2 volunteer Master Gardeners to oversee the whole yard, and the creation of the front beds. Boxwoods, holly bushes, maple trees, pansies and dusty miller - aha! I know those last two! Each home is typically allotted $140 for plants - which would mean our planting efforts would take, oh, 10 minutes, and not go too far. But on that day, Habitat had received a number of plant donations, so we had plenty to make a difference.

Digging holes for bushes, planting flowers and passing sod down a line of people were my tasks for the day. My recent gym attendance (and years of baby-juggling?) came in handy, as I raked mud and toted rolls of heavy, soggy sod. Would you believe it was fun and relaxing? There was something about the camaraderie of adults with a mission, and the {quiet} companionship of mud and flowers.
I came home filthy and tired but excited, and ready to sign up again. I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Adrian: a long-time volunteer and Habitat Board member, who had a simple view: we need look no further than our own neighborhoods to see a need, and decide to make a difference. She commiserated with the situation in Haiti, but encouraged those of us who cannot volunteer out of the country to become more locally aware.
I told her that if I were a future Habitat homeowner, gazing out at nearly 200 people that showed up to help out in some small way, I might spend the day crying in gratitude. Adrian agreed that the first few days were like that, but that by the final day the homeowners were grateful yet jubilant. Having traveled the long road of Habitat-ownership criteria, the finished home is but one marker on the path. I was impressed to know that each future homeowner puts in 250 hours of Habitat sweat equity, a year of financial counseling, and a year of renting the home with no late payments - and then, and only then, are they granted a chance at being a homeowner.

Joy and her 4 year-old son Josiah were sweet faces to look on, and I like to imagine them soon settling into their stylish bungalow, on a street rising from the ashes.
(Oh, and Clark Howard is just as kind & friendly in person as he is on the radio...)

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Yes and No Kind of Day

A Yes and No Kind of Day

Yes to putting on boots.
Yes to the resulting giant smiles.

Yes to tromping around and jumping in puddles.
(No to laying down in puddles.)

Yes to cute toddler-monsters in new green boots from grandmothers.
(No to kicking water at mommy and camera.)

Yes to freezing children, yes, yes - it is now bath night.
(No to kicking water at mommy and camera. Again. No to laying down in water. Again.)

The End.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Project: number unknown

When I was in the depths of cabin fever, spring fever and every other kind of winter blah, my little projects kept me from becoming an Oprah mom. We all know those Oprah moms - they end up on her show because they started some sort of unsavory behavior before noon.

My behavior remains mostly savory, and look - pretty projects to show for it!
I think I mentioned last May that our friends had twins, a boy and a girl.

And for their (belated) baby gifts, I made each of the twins a shadowbox.

This was such a fun project - because you have to smile at pictures of sweet chunky babies, and pretty textured papers... and flower punches... and alphabet brads... and, well, bright crafty stuff in general.
The cure for the winter blahs!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tales of a Grandmotherly Visit

She arrived with all the necessities in mind for making a good Tea Party.

A quick stop at the bakery produced chocolate-covered strawberries, and dainty cream puffs.
Milk and juice waited in little pitchers, soon to be poured into fine china tea cups.
The table was set in our prettiest room, with a white tablecloth, and winter pansies scattered.

A grandmother must be here...

Yep! A grandmother was here.
Come again soon...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Notable Quotable and a Book


Isabella: "Mom, we're taking money to school because there's a little girl who lost her house and her clothes and she has no food. Her name is Haiti."

(Brief pause from her. From me? Eyes still wide and mouth forming shocked and sentimental "Oh" shape.)

"And Mom? Does Haiti have a brother?"


Speaking of Haiti... for my book-loving pals, find this book and read it now. You won't regret it.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure The World by Tracy Kidder.
Riveting and inspiring. That is all I can say without gushing.
Thank you to Shah for reminding me for over 3 years to read MBM!
It was the perfect time to read this book, with all the attention on Haiti, and it explained so much about the situation - through following the inspirational life of Dr. Paul Farmer. It is people like him who provide us with hope, even in an untenable situation. What a dynamic man. If anyone can cure the world, it is him.
There. I gushed anyway.
Now stop reading this, and go read that!

I'll return soon with Tales Of a Grandmotherly Visit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome to the family!

There have been a few happenings in the last 2 weeks, as 2 other members have taken on the birthing responsibilities in the Lear family. Whew. I have been trying to pass that torch!

I'll work backwards, and welcome first my niece, Little Miss Gwen, to the world!
Rick's brother Dennis and his lovely lady Laura (of Disney-gifting fame) labored all through the night and halfway through the day today and were rewarded with a c-section to finally produce the small diva. The new Littlest Lear!

This is an event because, as you may recall, we roll with some crazy age-gaps in this family. When she passed away last year, Rick's mother was 96 - my children's grandmother. Rick's brothers had all started families early, so all of my children's first cousins were well into adulthood, a few being older than me. Yeah, that's comfortable to walk into when you're 20. And while my little Lears have enjoyed many good times with their second cousins, I could not manage to achieve that holy grail, that title which I have coveted: the name of Aunt Bethany.

(Though my "niece" Tina did sincerely offer to call me Aunt Bethany, which was the sweetest offer, but a little weird because yeah, she's a little older than me. But the fact that she offered? Golden.)

But now? We have a bona fide full first cousin, and that child will not escape me! Aunt Bethany is here for you, Gwen. Come rock with Phoenix and I. It is sweet, sweet, sweet to have cousins close in age. And since it's common knowledge, and I'm hardly announcing any breaking news, I'll out with it: Laura is 5 years younger than me - so I'm off the hook as the youngest sister-in-law, and no longer have the youngest kids with the oldest papa. Teehee. (Hi Laura! What are you doing online? Shut your computer and google at baby Gwen some more!)

Moving backwards, another little Lear joined us last week: Dennis's twin brother Brian welcomed his first grandson, Conner, which is Brian's 5th grandchild. I know, it's wacky to keep track of! Two Lears in two weeks, yet separate generations! (cue twilight zone music)

Moving to the middle news, which would be the beginning of this week, I offer proud congratulations to Jeremy and Susan. Soon I will no longer call her my almost-sister-in-law, as Jeremy formally proposed to Susan on Tuesday (3-2-10) and she appropriately answered, after 7 years together. It's exciting to have some big family goings-on! (cue champagne corks a-popping)

Ahhhhh. It is news like this that will lift me into spring. Which had better make a preliminary appearance by.this.weekend. Y'hear me now?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wondering and wandering

I've been thinking about this place alot lately. Seems I've been missing from my own spot. Everything got busy, even moreso than usual, and I dropped off the face. Phoenix took over, again and again, as an easy speed-post.

And he is fun and cute and a blast to write about... but. Along the way I was losing the point. You know, the practicing and the honing and the wordsmithing? The dipping and the delving and finding of the soul in the telling of a story.

I haven't had too many stories to tell this winter. With today's crazy-heavy snow, I am officially crying uncle. Bring it, spring. Bring back the energy and drop-kick that groundhog along the way. Pasty-faced ground-dweller, we don't need you foretelling our weather!

I'll be back.