Thursday, September 22, 2016

Guest Blogging: Kindergarten

Today I'm over at Arkansas Women Bloggers sharing insight from my favorite primary school kid.

We have officially gotten over the school year hump of progress reports and summoning the courage to get in the cafeteria line {it was pancake day and it was worth it}. Owen has been tackling his first year of formal schooling like a champ and while he'll admit sitting still is tough, he loves kindergarten. From the incredible books to the playground friendships, he soaks up every second. The September writing prompt for my favorite blogging group is learn and I was pleased to snag a spot. Because it's his story, I let Owen do part of the sharing. That may or may not be considered cheating, but I think they let me slide this time.

Curious? Click HERE to find out the best parts of Owen's kindergarten day. Leave a comment, too, if you're feeling especially nice!

It may still be one million degrees, but it is technically fall, y'all. I wish you a terrific Thursday. Go eat a pumpkin or buy a scarf or jump in some leaves. 'Tis the season, after all.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Summer Night Snapshot

We're still sweating through this Arkansas September, but we're savoring the late-summer nights.

Around the time Jonathan gets the pots and pans and burners going for supper {hashtag blessed}, I grab my trusty basket and head out to cut the ever-growing okra and collect eggs. Typically when I'm about halfway across the back yard, I hear my name. I look back to find a mess of curls yelling, "Mommy, wait for ME!" I wait, and she helps by making sure none of the chickens get too close.

Later in the evening we {or just a few of us} will head through the kitchen doors to watch the clouds turn hot pink as the day fades. I like to snag a little more fresh air before the mosquitoes descend. Last night we got a call from Owen's fall soccer coach, and found out his first practice is tomorrow. Of course that brought the soccer ball into the mix. Let the record show the chickens were unwilling participants.

Today I thought I'd share some photos snapped during a few recent late-summer nights. This yard may not be much to many, but I am so grateful to call it ours.

{Can you guess what's happening here?}

Happy Wednesday, y'all. Take it slow today, and savor the moments you have.
How are you enjoying these dwindling summer nights?

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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Growing Room

There may still be tiny rocket ships on the bottom bunk, but this is no baby room.

This Saturday my family spent the day crammed into the boys' asparagus-green room {actual paint color}. The two babies who lived here when it first housed a twin bed and a toddler bed have grown into two students who have outgrown the space. We didn't have the time nor energy nor funds nor desire to completely redecorate, but we thought the addition of desks would spruce it up a bit.

Also, Minecraft posters. That totally upped the cool factor.

Now Owen and Nathan have two homework areas positioned where neither can see nor touch the other, featuring lamps with USB ports and bright orange chairs. To make room for these pieces, much purging took place. To my surprise, most of it was done by the boys.

They jumped into the hand-painted toy box Nathan received for his first birthday and started discarding toys left and right. I saw a three-legged horse named Lucky that had been buried since we moved. I saw stuffed animals that collected more dust than memories. I saw Legos that had been missing from a set since the box was opened. The boys whittled the toy stash down to where it all fit {semi-comfortably} in the closet, and the toy box is out.

{This is a terribly off-focus picture from 2008, but cue the awww.}

I would say it's a little sad to see this room go through so many transitions in the almost seven years we've lived here, but it would be a lie. I love watching these kids grow up, and I love a clean slate. Cleaning out kid rooms is agonizing to me {shout out to Jonathan}, but it sure feels good when it's done. Now I need to stock those desks with paper, pens, and fresh crayons to unleash the creativity for which we've made space.

I know this room will keep changing over the years {and may not always sport a very green coat of paint}, but I am eager to see what it becomes, and what becomes of the boys who live there.

Happy Monday, my friends. Outgrow your comfort zone, and keep going.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Oily Mom

You've seen these #oilymoms all over your social media for years, right?

Moms rubbing various oils on their kids to cure a cough or morph them into angels who don't throw the remote at the TV when it's bedtime. Like me, you scoffed. Don't lie, you did. I thought nothing of it until a close friend started talking them up {*ahem* Ting's Mom}. I also saw a handful of friends in my town shouting the praises of their beloved oils. I got curious. I sent a local buddy a message and she sent samples. Non-toxic and might help me sleep? I gave it a whirl.

Essential oils cannot cure all that ails you, but if you're like me and wary of constantly medicating yourself and your family, it might be worth a try. Today I want to share my favorite oils because it's Friday and I like you. This is not an ad and I'm not going to try to sell or teach you anything. I'm sure you have a Facebook friend ready to give a lesson or make a deal, though. I use Doterra because that's what my friend sells, but I know Young Living is great, too.

Anyway, if you're interested, these are the oils that have impacted me the most in the few months I've used them. I am not a doctor. Results may vary.

  1. Lavender. They say this one can literally cure anything, but my favorite use is sleep. I diffuse it right by my head every night, and I can honestly say that I wake up less {except when Owen comes in, but that's a different story}. It smells incredible, it soothes itchy bug bites and eczema, and it makes a delightful bath. This is the only oil I've run out of and repurchased. If you start anywhere, maybe start here.

  2. Peace. This is the reason I bit the bullet. I can get... tense? That's probably something you've picked up on if you read here. I was a skeptic, but this oil is described as a reassuring blend and my brain was in need. And it works. I put it on my wrists, back of neck, and behind my ears every single day.

  3. Peppermint. This is slowly replacing the number of Tylenol bottles we empty. I'll pop some medicine if the headache is intense, but I'll also apply peppermint to my forehead and temples to lessen wait time. It's cool, tingly, and fast. Jonathan swears by it for headaches and Nathan says it helps him focus at the piano. Whatever works?

  4. Breathe. We diffuse this when anyone has a sniffle and it does seem to help. I will also rub it on the bottom of the boys' feet to help them breathe at night. We haven't completely given up on NyQuil, but this is an excellent addition. Also? It smells like Christmas.

  5. Melaleuca. Like Lavender, this is another one I reach for often. Melaleuca is simply tea tree oil and its benefits are great. I personally use it for toenail issues {TMI} and to clear oncoming pimples. I wouldn't be so blunt about these specifics if it didn't work.

I bought the big starter kit, so there are still unopened oils. I will try them, though. They may not be total cures, but there seem to be big benefits in those little bottles. And when it comes to keeping my head on straight, I'm willing to try. Now I think I'm going to slip on a little more Peace and see if I can convince a grouchy three-year-old to nap.

What about you? I know someone reading this has jumped into the world of oils. Tell me your favorites in the comments, and suggest a few more for me to try! Have a happy weekend, y'all.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016


"I have a lost tooth!"

Owen has been saying that for months now, set on matching a classmate's toothless grin. He gets lost and loose confused, though, so this is typically a fib. Hellbent on getting one out, he has wiggled them daily to see if one would budge. Earlier this week, there was a budge.

An itty bitty baby bottom tooth looked a bit askew in Owen's mouth. He asked why his tooth was sideways and I told him it was starting to get wiggly. Those brown eyes grew to three times their size and welled with tears. He immediately started asking if it would hurt, if it would bleed, if he has to go to the dentist, and if he can still have chocolate milk. We managed to quash those fears. Then he ate tortilla chips in the car.

Driving home from my parents' house Monday, Nathan uttered two of the worst road trip words: "Owen's bleeding." Panic struck us all as Owen used his blankie to dab at his gums. Whether it was the chip or just a wiggly tooth, we'll never know, but the panic didn't stop. Owen obsessed over his tooth, ranging from enthusiasm about a Tooth Fairy visit to sheer terror of the unknown. I have a feeling he didn't talk about much else at school Tuesday.

Jonathan and I both asked whether we could just pull it out, as the tooth was barely hanging on. {Okay, Jonathan asked and then I asked Jonathan to ask again. Tooth pulling is disgusting.} The worried kid finally decided it was going to come out on its own, and lo and behold that's exactly what happened.

When I rolled him over in bed this morning, my gut instinct was to ask about his tooth. He sat up with an odd look on his face. "I think my tooth fell out and I swallowed it." When I saw the gap in his mouth, I think my face betrayed me because tears started to fall from his eyes. Not two seconds later, I spotted a tiny white tooth on the sheet. It indeed fell out of his mouth in his sleep, and waited patiently in bed. Kind of gross, but still: easiest possible outcome.

I have a feeling this was a hot-button topic in kindergarten today, too. At least his fears are conquered now. And he's no longer afraid of eating, which is a plus.

When the lost tooth was still a loose tooth, Owen discussed the legend of the Tooth Fairy with his sister. Nora said she thinks the Tooth Fairy will bring Shopkins when she visits. Owen said he hopes she brings $100. Nora reminded Owen that she brought Peppa Pig a coin.

I hope we get Peppa's fairy tonight. Happy Wednesday, y'all!

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Monday, September 5, 2016

The Football Kickoff

There was a bit of a rivalry in the high school stands Friday night.

There was no post-game rumble. Opposing band members didn't shout rude comments across the field. No one stole anyone's nachos, as far as I know. The only heckling my ears picked up was directed right toward me by Owen.

"Mom, maybe your team got more points but the score thing won't move."
"Hey, we have 46 points now, why do you only have 14?"
"MY team is the best team. They get a score every single minute!"
"In YO FACE, Mom."
"Can we leave early? We already know who the winners are..."

As I mentioned in my Friday post, an in-family rivalry came with the return of football season. The town we live in is known for its football program, and with good reason. They are frequently state champs and they turn their kids into football-crazed fans as early as possible. Apparently it's the third week of kindergarten nowadays. However, I stuck with my own hometown colors.

{Happiest football fans on the home side.}

We sat on the home side in my parents' section amid a sea of eager Hope fans. I haven't been a student at this school in more than 14 years {shocking, I know}, but once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat. I donned red and made my orange sons sit on the wrong side. They were confused as to why our town was sitting across from us, and why no one would cheer when their team scored. Nathan's attention turned to concession food, but Owen made the most of it. As the guest point total began flipping ever upwards, he made his allegiance known.

I have a feeling he made his hometown proud tonight.

He and Nora did spend a bit of time picking out Hope players they know from church and trying to get their attention. They are local celebrities, after all. Each time a player spotted Owen waving frantically, he'd laugh and shake his head at the speck of orange in the home stands. We lasted through halftime and had a great time together {despite the final score}.

We were all on the same page Saturday, though. We watched the Arkansas Razorbacks game with friends and the comforts of home. I like watching football, but the best part of this game was the food. We traded squished hot dogs for a buffet of our own invention. My favorite meatballs were a hit {throw cranberry sauce, chili sauce, and pre-cooked meatballs in the crock pot} and we feasted on Jonathan's famous meaty cheese dip. We also had homemade guacamole and a handful of beverages you can't buy at a high school.

Fun, football, and five-year-old heckling: a great start to the season! Did you and yours gather around the football field and/or living room this weekend? Are you enjoying today's weekend extension on the lake? Are you simply sleeping in? I'm working today, but we did snag a pool day yesterday.

If you have the day off, enjoy it! Happy Monday/Labor Day, y'all.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Dear September

Backpacks and footballs and heat, oh my! It's September, friends.

It's that lovely time of year when fall fanatics turn their calendars, grab their scarves and pumpkin spice lattes, and head out in 100-degree weather. I am in no rush for pumpkin time, but I do like the fact that September should leave cooler than it came. School routines are firmly in place and the idea of spending time beneath Friday Night Lights does sound enticing. September always has its highs and lows and this particular one is no different.

YAY: We're only wrapping up Week Three, but this school year has been wonderful. Nathan says fourth grade is the best yet, and he lives for art class and GT. He's already gotten to play a round of dodge ball with his principals. What's not to love? As for kindergarten, Owen is obsessed. He says his favorite class is "instruments" and he loves writing numbers. He hates the weekend because there is no school, and he does not want to discuss Labor Day.

BOO: Owen was absent last Tuesday. As you can imagine he was displeased. We were further displeased when our ENT said he needed his tonsils and adenoids removed. Obviously, I'm terrified about this. His poor breathing has resulted in sleepless nights for years, though, so I know this will be a good thing. I'm worried about his week-long recovery later this month. He's devastated about missing an entire week of school.

YAY: Tonight marks the return of school colors, band shows, and extra-large nachos. The Bauer Boys woke up this morning psyched for the first pep rally of the season {Owen, mostly excited about the first bus ride of his life}. Football is king in southwest Arkansas, and in my sleepy little town in particular. Tonight our team plays my hometown team, so we have a house divided. 

BOO: My garden is done. Finished. Kaput. Other than the okra, everything is dead {or ruined by bugs, weeds, and general disinterest}. The lush landscape I blogged about in July has met its demise. It's always sad to see a see a season close, but now I must decide whether we stare at a blank patch until spring or commit to fall crops. I'll just keep picking okra and see if inspiration hits this month.

YAY: CYM starts back next week! Jonathan and I lead the youth group at our church, and it kicks off next Wednesday. I have spent hours researching hilarious games, team-building ideas, and inventive ways to encourage prayer. I love setting up our meeting room, then opening the door to eager teenagers. Watching these kids grow in faith pushes me in mine, and I can't wait to get going.

There's a snapshot of our month. There's good, there's bad, and there's a week of Owen eating ice cream on the couch. I'm prepared, though. Bring it on, September.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Got Eggs?

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I pried myself from the couch and slipped on my chicken boots.

We spent Friday night and Saturday in central Arkansas with my in-laws, so we skipped the much-needed yard cleanup. After a morning of church and lunch at my parents' house, it was time. Jonathan approached the garden with shears in hand, and I brought my basket and trusty shovel to the hen house.

First I tossed a few cucumbers to the chickens and apologized for the lack of attention, then I went on an egg hunt. We grabbed them Friday afternoon, so this particular collection was only two days' worth. I was shocked to pull eight eggs out of the first nesting box. I was shocked to find seven more in another. I was further shocked that the golf ball decoy egg had been precariously placed on top of the real things {who knows what those chickens are doing}. Fifteen eggs wasn't half bad for two days.

Then I checked the smaller coop and pulled out five more.

Twenty eggs in two days from ten birds. Before this I wasn't sure whether all of our spring chicks were laying, but that find made it practically fact. A small part of me thinks Popcorn is an overachiever, but that's doubtful.

I don't know if they're just showing off or this cooler weather is making a difference, but those egg machines are rolling. They all have yet to figure out where they're supposed to lay, but they seem to have learned what comes out of them. Science!

Other chores revolved around pulling food out of the sad garden. It has rained for 40 days and 40 nights. I am wearing cardigans daily and I had the audacity to say it felt chilly this weekend. We are inching closer to fall, and my spring plants are feeling it. The brightest spot is the okra. We have already frozen a ton, and the two rows show no sign of stopping. I also used Sunday to pick a peck of pickling peppers. The ones we made last year turned out so tasty, we used the same method and got two pints.

Tomatoes still hang on the vine, bright red and ready to pick, but the leaf-footed bugs have created a force field around each one. I won't dare get close enough to touch them. Gross. Following is the game plan for my tomatoes at this point in time: let the bugs have them.

It's no big deal, though. No matter what the weather and our not-always-green thumbs do to the food growing in the yard, there will always and forevermore be scrambled eggs.

Happy Monday, y'all! Let me know if you need a dozen or three.

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