Friday, October 20, 2017

Preschoolers on Parade

Dressed as fun-sized cheerleader, my daughter took her place on a hay bale with a fistful of candy.

Her preschool teacher's first rule was "Don't eat all the candy before the parade starts!" but Nora didn't mind. She had a mission, and her mission was to wave and throw the candy as hard as possible. She was a bit worried when she realized being on a float in the homecoming parade meant actually riding on a trailer, but tensions eased when her friends filled in around her.

During a short break from posing and cheesing for moms holding cameras {yes, me}, Nora took note of all the decorations. She was thrilled to find her four favorite letters! "My name's on a bell, Mom!" I didn't explain the intricacies of a megaphone, but perhaps she'll figure it out one day. Once I realized there were enough moms on the float to keep the kids secure, I left with the boys to find the best spot.

{Not before asking Nora to stay put so we could park on her side. Obviously, she was going to throw us the good stuff.}

Owen and Nathan bobbed around in front of our courthouse parking spot, watching for the telltale police lights. We knew it was time when we could feel the bass drum's vibrations in the pavement. Both boys made sure to free up their pockets before taking their place street-side.

We positioned ourselves at the start of the parade route, so every cheerleader, football player, and crown-wearing queen was free with the candy. We racked up, basically. When Nora's class came by, I jumped up to loudly proclaim their cuteness. Maybe the boys said it was embarrassing, but that's the name of the game.

Once the five-minute parade passed by, we did our part to clean candy from the street and went to find the youngest member of our crew. When Nora unloaded, she regretted to inform us they ran out of candy before the parade ended. Luckily for her, we gave her a share of the stash covering my floorboards.

That's one round of hometown fun checked off our weekend list. Tonight we're going to sit under the Friday night lights at my own alma mater, and tomorrow bright and early we're pumpkin patch bound.

Weekend, here we come! Happy Friday, friends.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Halloween This or That?

I've been in a bit of a funk this week.

It has nothing to do with Friday the 13th or the fact that I don't look nearly as cool as I did in 1992. No, it's a much whinier reason. Remember my upcoming trip to wine country? Remember that a lot of California is on fire? The resort we booked remains unaffected, but many of the areas around it have been evacuated and the air quality is poor. We have officially cancelled and I've rewritten it on my bucket list. I absolutely know this is trivial compared to the lives and homes and livelihoods lost, but in the interest of being honest, I'm bummed.

However, my husband made a smaller scale Plan B, and we're celebrating some fantastic work news that came out of our last trip {when I went to the ER}. Things are looking up. Therefore, in celebration of Halloween creeping up, I've answered 13 spooky questions for your entertainment. Happy Weekend!

1. Chocolate candy or fruity?
The fact that all the bite-sized Snickers and Milky Ways are missing from the work bowl should answer that.

2. Witches or Vampires?
You may think I'll say vampires since I watched all the Twilight movies on their release weekends {let's keep that between us}, but I'm going to go with witches on this one. I spent many hours of my youth cackling.

3. Trick or Treat?
Treat. I'm not the biggest fan of tricks, unless the trick is something like: "Just kidding, California isn't really on fire."

4. Halloween Party or Scary Movie?
This is an odd post for me to write, because I'm not the biggest fan of scary things. I love the cutesy ghosts and goblins and the fun aspects of the holiday, but you'll never catch me watching a movie character get disemboweled. That's a long way of answering Halloween party, hands down.

5. Skeletons or Zombies?
All I can think of here is Minecraft, which tells you something about my home life. I like the fact that Skeletons can be attacked by dogs because they are made of bones. And when Nora notices a pixelated skeleton wandering in the dark, she yells "Ahh!! A skele-TONE!" Thus, my answer is skele-tones.

6. Trick-or-Treat or Hand Out Candy?
After my brother and cousin and I collected buckets of candy from grandma's neighborhood, we raced back to her house. We would dump our candy onto the big wooden table and start sorting as the parents tried to sneak their share. When the doorbell rang, though, we sprang into action. Now I prefer the actual trick-or-treating. I'd rather leave the door answering to my kids.

7. Hay Ride or Corn Maze?
Never been to a corn maze, but I once face-kicked a person dressed as Jason while on a hay ride. That doesn't really answer the question, does it?

8. Scary Costume or Funny Costume?
While my oldest is set on being someone dead or someone who leaves others that way, I'm steadily trying to get Owen to dress up as a stabbed box of Fruit Loops {serial killer's victim}.

9. Pumpkin Seeds or Pumpkin Pie?
I don't know that I've ever met another person whose family roasted pumpkin seeds after carving. Tell me I'm not alone here! My husband had never heard of this, so in recent years we've just given them to the chickens. So, seeds. Pumpkin pie is smelly orange goop.

10. Bottle Feed A Baby Zombie or Walk Alone Through A Dark Forest?
What even is this question? I don't want to see a baby zombie. I'll take on the dark forest at my full-force mall walk.

11. Bats or Black Cats?
While I only lay claim to one cat, there are four who pretty much live on our property full-time. Two of them are black and if Louis likes them, so do I.

12. Pumpkin Spice or Hot Chocolate?
The most basic of all questions! Hot chocolate, for sure, it reminds me that Christmas and Polar Express are right around the corner.

13. Celebrate in Your Neighborhood or at the Mall?
We did the neighborhood thing when I was young, but my kids have options. We either go to the trick-or-treat trail at our local city park or travel to Hope to hit up the grandparents' neighborhood. We live in the middle of nowhere and don't have a neighborhood to speak of, so that's our best bet. Last year we did the trail and the kids had a blast seeing friends from school all dressed up, but there's something special about ringing a doorbell, not knowing what's on the other side. We'll see where Halloween night takes us...

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ball is Life

Before this school year, Nora had never been part of organized anything {chaos withheld}.

With the start of preschool, however, came the proof of her ability to listen carefully and take direction. Who knew? Four is the golden age for extracurricular activities around here, and we like our kids to try them one at a time to learn what they like. I'm sure hamming it up at a dance recital is in Nora's future, but this year she wanted to be a baller. We signed her up for soccer, she picked out the pinkest cleats, and the rest is adorable history.

The season started in September and it's been a fun one. Yes, it's hot and involves more running than my daughter is accustomed to, but she tries hard. Her kicks are strong and she hustles like a pro. She listens carefully to her coach's instructions and takes her time to do it right. Nora will gladly reveal that her favorite part is the pregame hands in and "Team McDonald's!" followed by the multiple rounds of high-five and "Good game!" afterward. I'd say that earns her some sportsmanship notoriety?

She doesn't care if she and her fellow McDonald's nuggets win,
as long as there's a cold Gatorade waiting beside somebody's mom.

Before this season began, we thought Owen and Nora would get to wear the same jerseys, but the park shook things up this year. Nora's team consists of only four- and five-year-olds. As you could guess, it's basically them running in groups, wildly kicking and hoping to make contact. Owen has moved up a league where things get a little more serious {and they actually keep score!}. My son has even gotten to play goalie for a period or two each game, and he's doing great.

{This is the face of a kid with a goal assist.}

It really depends on if his desire to be a good player is there, but the ability is present. He played an incredible game last Thursday, outrunning the other team, turning the ball toward the goal, and even diving to block shots while playing goalie. His tournament starts this week, and I'm one eager fan.

He, too, likes the hand-slapping and good gaming. I mean, do you ever outgrow that?

The most hilarious thing that's been born from two kids on two soccer fields {often at the same time} is that this season has cemented my status. I've had the mom wagon for a while and I've stored folding chairs in the back of it since Nathan was four, but I've just now become a Soccer Mom. I can pack-mule it with the best of them while my husband helps coach whichever team needs him that night. I have cold drinks at the ready, dollars for Nathan to get some nachos, and an eagle eye that jumps from field to field. I have probably received an eye roll for the sheer volume of my cheering {or my "GET BACK IN THE GOAL AND WATCH THE BALL, OWEN!!"}.

I am unapologetic. Ball, apparently, is life.

Happy Monday, y'all! Make it a good one. :)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Fair to Remember

All last week Nora asked me when it was time to ride a roller coaster.

"I hope it goes so fast!" "I hope it goes upside down!" "I hope I can ride it a hundred times!"
Then she developed a fever.

The Hempstead County District Fair comes for a solid week, and as Nora kept a thermometer under her arm, the days passed by. The fever stayed until the weekend arrived and she woke up ravenous and cool as a cucumber. She downed her donuts and we rolled out on the final day of the fair.

Nora was stuck in a stroller the last time time we went to this fair, so she was ready to make up for lost time. Our first stop was the dragon coaster she had been dreaming of all week. Nathan sat by her so she wouldn't be scared {or at least that's what he told us}. We watched her eyes widen to saucers as the dragon began crawling around the course. Then it stopped. Then it quickly rushed backward. Then it stopped for good. We got our tickets back, but that taste of the carnival ride rush had Nora hooked.

This was the first year we actually used up all of our tickets. The boys were boosted by Nora's courage and they both tested out new rides. Nora and Owen waved at us on every loop of the car ride and Nathan tried to suppress his laughter at each chicken joke I shouted from beside the carousel. He was riding a chicken, and I am hilarious. It was a winning combination.

As much as I am into adrenaline-inducing activities, such activities can only go in a straight line. I typically keep the lame title of popcorn holder at amusement parks, but when my daughter asked me to ride the Ferris Wheel, I rode the Ferris Wheel. She had to remove my grip at one point, but we had a blast. She loved seeing the whole fair and her tiny daddy down below.

After the rides we followed the booming call of people who wanted to trade our dollars for junk prizes. We may have played a certain game many times to obtain three fidget spinners. Nora also picked a winning duck for an inflatable princess hammer {a quick regret} and the boys popped balloons like professionals. After a little boys-versus-girls bumper cars, we were walking out of the midway to call an end to the fun. Until we heard a voice...

"Hey Burger Head!"

We looked over to see a clown sitting in a dunking booth, directing her jeers at us. We laughed and kept walking, all except Nora who continued to stare. "What are you looking at?!" Owen smack-talked the clown under his breath and we explained it was part of the act. Then Jonathan decided to show him the rest of the act. After two close throws at the longest-distance fair target I've ever seen, he hit it and down she splashed. She surfaced laughing and thanking us because it was unusually hot for the close of September.

Not only did our kids throw their arms up and cheer, so did everyone close enough to know what happened. You better believe my husband walked out of that fair with his day made. I was too into the action to photograph it, but there are plenty of witnesses who will vouch for him.

Even though this is my second fair post in a month, this was one had more excitement and less animal poop!
Have you ridden any fair rides lately? Which is your favorite? Have a great Thursday, y,all.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dear October

Dear October,

Welcome! Your thirty-one days bring a crisp freshness not found in the month before you {at least not around these parts}. Sure, I might have changed into a tank top after church on the day you showed up, but I know you'll make things more comfortable before too long.

October, you are the follow-up to one of my least-favorite months. Personally, I believe September ranks second, only after the dreary, grey January days that drag winter long past Christmas. September, with its summer-ending tendencies, but still soaring temperatures... If you're going to to use one of your calendar squares to replace summer with fall, at least let us wear pants?! But, I digress.

My dear October, I am glad you are here. The deep orange and burgundy and golden accents set against a forest green backdrop will soon usher in revival to my soul. My summer skin will fade to its natural shade and my senses will no longer be smothered beneath the oppressive heat. While September brings summer in and out {and in and out again}, October replaces it with something new. I may not be of the PSL, scarf-slinging, furry boot variety, but change is good.

Change is inevitable, so why not let it come in the form of leaf-hidden highways and pumpkins on the porch?

October, you bring about a time of year that forces my attention. I sit up a little straighter than in the lazy days of summer and I notice all that whirls around me. October is a personal reminder that life is so much faster than we realize. As the colors change and humanity {re: Hobby Lobby} starts hurdling through the holidays at lightning speed, sometimes you feel rushed. But in this quick descent toward a new year, I'd like to take a second look.

Each year I've lived has been faster than the one before, but I intend to stretch your days, October.
I want to be awake as the seasons change.

As for this particular round, you are going to show me some new things, October. Soon I will board an airplane for the first time since Owen was board and fly to California for the first time in my life. I'm going to see the hills covered in grapevines and I'm going to soak in a new piece of God's creation. {I may drink more than enough wine for the both of us, so bear with me.}

Adventures await, October, and I'm looking forward to it. I have a feeling that when the cool breezes start blowing and you urge me to grab the flannel shirts from the back of my closet, we're going to get along just fine.

Staying present is the name of the game this October, and from the early days when we're still sweating at soccer games to the last day filled with tricks and treats, I hope to reconnect in a new way. With nature, with time, and with myself.

Happy October, y'all. Let's open our eyes and enjoy it!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

B Brothers TV

If you haven't heard of this new YouTube channel, you're probably living under a rock.

{Or maybe you're just not my Facebook friend...}

As is likely the case for most kids their age, my boys have a strong desire to be launched into Internet fame. They sit around after school watching other kids pull millions of dollars from opening toys or eating spicy food in front of a camera. It sounds simple enough, so why can't we stack up some cash around here?

For a very long time now, Owen and Nathan have expressed a desire for their own YouTube channel. They're funny, they're cute, and they have done a ridiculous amount of research. I've put their antics on my not-so-publicized channel, and I've shared several of Owen's vlog attempts, but I never let them take over... until now.

My one stipulation for creating content for mass consumption was a desire to take it seriously. I told Nathan I would not edit, I would not come up with video ideas, and I would not tolerate fighting while filming. As you may imagine, it took years for them both to come to terms with this. Over the summer, though, they got it together. They only have five videos up right now, but they have plenty of kooky ideas for more content.

While I am obviously their No. One fan, I think the video they published last night is my favorite. It is a jelly bean challenge that dissolves into them simply eating jelly beans on camera. It doesn't sound like very riveting content, but trust me, it's worth a watch. I lost it in the first few seconds of the video when Nathan noticed his brother looked a mess. Attempt a "try not to laugh" challenge for your own channel using this video. I bet you three dollars you crack.

Yes, Owen and Nathan are the brains behind B Brothers TV. Nathan does all the editing, even coming up with the slick intros and theme music, and Owen provides that comic relief. My only role is uploading {and getting the word out}.

While Owen's already booked his one-way ticket to a two-story mansion in California, "All the famous Youtubers live in two-story houses!" I don't see fame on the horizon just yet. There sure is a lot of fun, though. To help these boys on their quest for stardom, why don't you go visit their channel and subscribe? Aside from the video I've embedded here, there's an informative Q&A and you can watch Owen fail at bottle flipping. This material is pure gold, friends.

I know my kids aren't the only ones out there who want "YouTube Star" on their résumés one day. Does anyone else have kids with their own channel or a habit of bugging you for one? Link up in the comments and we'll rocket these kids to the top of the charts. ;)

Happy Thursday, y'all, and "we'll see you in the next video."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Down at the County Fair

This year's walk around the county fair taught our family three important lessons:
  1. Nora is terrified of enormous pigs.
  2. Owen and Nathan have played enough Goat Simulator that they now speak the language.
  3. If there's only one small cow patty in the walking path at the time of our browsing, someone will step in it.
The first week of September brings the county fair to town, but amusement is not the main focus of this event. We are all about prize-winning sheep, ribbon-bearing jelly jars, and wonderful paintings from locals hoping to be recognized. This year I actually took two trips to the exhibit hall because for the first in my life I was a Field Trip Mom.

When Nora's teacher asked me if I was available to help her cart four-year-olds to look at the animals, I could not think of a reason to get out of it {kidding, I promise}. Now that I'm sans children on Fridays, I can finally help in classrooms. Trust me, it's never fun to be in charge of passing out valentines with a one-year-old attached to your leg. I showed up last Friday morning to load four little girls into four little booster seats. Since it's a Friday in football season, most of them were dressed like this:

I obviously helped herd cats, but I also got to eavesdrop on Nora talking to her buddies like some kind of big girl. Weird, right? Highlights of the morning included all of the squeals when we made it to the bunnies and the kids' realization that every preschool entry got a first-place ribbon. Nora was thrown off when a gigantic pig tried to escape over his enclosure {who wouldn't?}, but she recovered.

I was doing my best to help round up the wild gang, so I didn't get a chance to see whether the boys' art entries placed. Naturally, after school we loaded back up and went out again. This time, however, we skipped the pig row.

The elementary school drawings were themed "Wildflowers of Arkansas" and their awesome art teacher said they could take that direction. Nathan decided to go the anime route and weave in a floral pattern. When the art teacher stopped me in the car line to tell me I needed to check it out, I knew it would be good. Comparing Nathan's first-place fair win to the one he got a mere two years ago shows amazing progress. I can't wait to see what he does with this talent.

Owen told me the first-grade artists were asked to draw whatever they wanted, and to him that meant a neighborhood. His quaint little houses dotted with flowers and a bright blue sky earned him a bright blue first-place ribbon as well. Yes that makes three top spot wins at this year's fair. Now I'm kicking myself for not entering a giant tomato or a jar of sweet pickled peppers or at least a photograph of my kids being cute. Surely that last one would be a shoe-in.

There's always next year!

Have you been to the 2017 county fair? Are your kids scared of pigs? Have you ever heard of Goat Simulator? Join me in the comments and let's get these burning questions answered!
Happy Tuesday, y'all.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Get to Know Me

{Yes, this photo was snapped pre-accident...}

Remember scrambling to be the first to answer the latest MySpace survey?

If you actually do, there's a good chance you're old like me and you haven't thought about your Top 8 in a while. Today we're going to do some reminiscing with a random questionnaire designed to let readers know about the blogger behind the screen. Plus it's Friday afternoon and there is literally no one else in my house, what else am I to do? {There are lots of answers to that actually, but I'm burying them under the pile of laundry I'm ignoring}. So get comfy and read on, you might just learn something about me you did not know:

  1. Are you named after anyone?
    Yes! My great-grandfather. His name was Jess Queen {also maybe a Days of Our Lives character}.

  2. When was the last time you cried?
    It was a painful Tuesday night with my swollen forehead and pitiful stitches. Also I told Jonathan I looked more Beast than Beauty and that probably added to it.

  3. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
    Sure! We have so many of the same interests...

  4. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
    Never. {did that translate?}

  5. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
    I'm pretty sure it's the smile. Noticing someone else's happiness can really change my tune.

  6. Favorite smells?
    The ocean, tomato plants, crisp morning air, clean baby hair, the grass after it rains, and fire.

  7. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
    I went on a cruise to the Bahamas right after high school graduation. We traveled to Nassau and Freeport and I only got a little seasick. I also won $200 playing slot machines under open-water laws. I've also been to Alberta, Canada during trips to visit my family in Montana. You Google which is further. I'll give you a cookie.

  8. Where were you born?
    At the hospital in Blytheville, but my parents drove me in my '80s edition car seat to our home in Osceola.

  9. How tall are you?
    My brain and my license say 5'6" but I have no idea when I measured last. I could've grown, you never know.

  10. What was your favorite/worst subject in High School?
    I am not lying when I say I really enjoyed high school and the learning that went with it. I don't know if band counts as a subject, so I will say English was my favorite and I'll down-vote geometry. I don't mind math, but I'm better at algebra. Ask Nathan, he would probably pick geometry for me, too.

  11. What's your favorite restaurant?
    My husband would call me out if I didn't say Subway, because I love sandwiches and I eat there 2-3 times a week. I also love Chick-Fil-A, McAlister's Deli, Outback, Longhorn, and Park Place in Texarkana.

  12. What sports do you play/have you played?
    You wouldn't know it by my photo albums filled with me holding a flute or twirling a flag or posing with the band, but I dabbled in other extracurricular activities. I did play and enjoy softball for several years before high school. I was the catcher and my favorite part was dramatically throwing my helmet to catch {or miss} pop-up hits.

  13. What did you want to be when you grow up?
    I was torn between professional cheerleader and princess in my early years, then my aspirations changed when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came on the scene. I wanted more than anything to be a television broadcaster like that jumpsuit-wearing April O'Neil. I stuck with that idea so long that my degree is, in fact, in television broadcasting. However, I found journalism a more attractive {and slightly less anxiety-inducing} career, so outside of the UCA campus no one has seen my on-screen skills.

  14. Are you a morning or night person?
    Morning. It's hard for me to wake up sometimes, but once I get going in the early hours, I'm glad I did.

  15. Which do you prefer, sweet or salty foods?
    Obviously cravings dictate this one, but I'm much more salty than sweet.

  16. What is the last thing you bought?
    Other than food {which is a boring answer}, it was a few packages of bulletin board borders from Oriental Trading Company {also still kind of boring}.

  17. What's your go-to drink at a bar?
    Depends on where I am, but it's usually Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio or Riesling if I'm feeling fancy. And all the other times it's a margarita.

  18. What are you afraid of?
    Frogs, toads, and any other related amphibious creature. I do not play.

  19. Can you cook?
    Not really, no. #Blessed to have a husband who can, though!

  20. What's one thing you'll never eat or drink?
    For some reason this is a hard question for me. I don't know, bugs? The idea of oysters grosses me out, but I bet you a dollar I'll at least try it one day.

Friends, I hope that satisfied whatever end-of-work-week curiosity you may be feeling, and I wish you a wonderful weekend. Get out and enjoy that incredible weather!