Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tiny Tomato


The first tomato was spotted in the back yard not too long ago. Soon to follow: ultra-fresh BLTs.

The garden is more than a month old now and (dare I say it), looking great! After battling rust on the okra and beans, everything is green. The cucumbers have sent out dozens of tendrils that cling to the fence and climb as if provoked. The pole bean stalks twist and dance in the wind until they find their own trellis to curl around. Pops of orange, red, and yellow marigolds shine brightly against the green foliage.

Only two of the Early Girl plants and one of the Arkansas Travelers hold tiny tomatoes, yet every variety boasts delicate yellow flowers. Half of my crops are in bloom. White bush bean flowers poke up from the greenery and yellow cucumber blooms are dwarfed by leaves the size of dinner plates.

Tomorrow is the first day of June. With it will come the first tastes of the garden. I can hardly wait. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saltwater Memories


What a memory.

Our beach vacation has come and gone and we're left with nothing but photographs and the long-lingering smell of seawater.

The trip was wonderful. My boys enduring their first 12-hour drive like champs, armed with plenty of goldfish and juice. The DVD player went nonstop and more than once I looked back and saw them giggling or holding hands. Road trip bliss.

Once we arrived, my children greeted the sea for the first time. Nathan warily watched the tide roll over his bare feet, but Owen was ready to jump in headfirst (naturally). We ate all the crab and popcorn shrimp Destin could offer, we sailed aboard a ship that showed us turqouise waters and friendly dolphins, we dug and scraped and played in the sand, and we watched.

We watched the clear gulf water sweep in and sweep out. Different and unexpected every time, but constant all the same. We watched small crabs scuttle onto the shore and a sea turtle paddle the waves, paying no attention to the sun-drenched tourists. We watched our boys take it all in. New things to see, new words to learn, new experiences to be lived.

We watched as night fell and the horizon became a blue blur. It was the time of evening that everything was eclipsed by a calm, dark indigo. My eyes played tricks on me as I tried to make out the water from the sky. Then bright stars began to dot the upper level, differentiating the two.

We watched as rolling carts carried our belongings, more numerous than before, to load our cars and start the journey home. We watched the waves one last time, knowing that even when we couldn't see them, they would continue to jump and retreat all the same.

NOW. Aside from taking in everything our eyes could manage, what is it that we actually did in Destin? Glad you asked, because it was a lot! Here, let me show you:










Thanks to all my family members for an amazing, relaxing vacation. The boys and I had a blast and we are primed and ready to do it again. It won't be too long before those salty waves start calling my name again. Happy Saturday, ya'll!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cheeks


Is there anyone out there who could muster the strength to resist kissing these round baby cheeks?

(silence)

Didn't think so.

Good thing they're all mine. :)

Preschool, Check!


One last look at Nathan, the Preschooler.

Stick a fork in this kid, y'all, he's done. He pulled his puppy backpack onto his small shoulders for the last time this morning.

Arriving about an hour late (very fashionable for the last day), Nathan was happy to see his friends greet him in their normal fashion. However, something was different.

All the colorful posters highlighting the Sign Language alphabet, counting by ten, and various bible verses were removed. He didn't know where to put his bag, as the name plates by the hooks were gone. School is done, I explained. Once I told him the day would consist of playing on the playground and eating all the cheese pizza his heart desires, he was okay with the lack of academics. Especially when I reminded him that kindergarten is just around the corner!

(I'm not sure if there's ever been a four-year-old who loves school so much. I sure hope that sticks!)

Tonight, after Nathan takes his last at bat of the t-ball season, summer is officially on. Here's to three months of mornings in the veggie garden, days in the kiddie pool, and nights on the porch swing - all spent with my Bauer boys.

PS: Want to see how much my baby's grown? Check out last year's School's Out post, which shows Nathan a year ago today and two years ago today. He's a kid, isn't he? I'll just go ahead and admit that. Happy Friday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Onward, Graduate


“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go."

-Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"


Proud Mama Alert: Such decisions couldn't have been placed in more capable hands.

Nathan walked across the NCA stage this morning in front of rows of teary-eyed family and cheering friends during a solo ceremony (we missed yesterday's event). Mrs. Ruby spoke of what a joy my son was and she told the crowd she'd never met a more obedient child. He grinned as he took the rolled-up paper in his small hands and graduated from preschool. On his little face was the future. It seems brighter than ever.

Nathan is a smart kid, there's no doubt about that. His brain is an oversized sponge and his thirst to learn makes sure every drop is soaked up and stored away.

However, teetering just under the four-foot mark, it could be easy to miss him. He's quiet, he does what he's told, and he keeps to himself well. If you stop and talk to him, though, you'll know. You will see and feel the love in his heart. Not hidden, but on his sleeve and out for the world to see.

His mind and his heart create a force to be reckoned with.

Nathan is now, officially, a kindergarten student. He will soon carry his knowledge and his faith into the next chapter of his page-turning story.

He is ready. I am ready.

The world should brace itself for this one.

Kool-aid mustache, T-Rex tattoo and all:


My Sweet Nathan,

I am awestruck by you, son. I'm proud of who are you and who you are becoming. On the outside, you're a fun-loving little kid, but bubbling and boiling inside is something bigger. The spirit and the spirituality you possess will take you far in life. Never back down. Keep working and keep pushing until you become the person you want to be. Dream hard and dream wild, but always be someone you can love. I know you're only four and you're just now starting, but I will not apologize for these thoughts. You can go anywhere and you can do anything. Greatness starts somewhere and here you are.

I love you.

To the moon and back, baby.


(not to worry, beach recap is scheduled for tomorrow)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vacation


Wish you were here! XO Jessica

(no, really. you're a lot of fun!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Backseat


Eastbound and down.

The boys are officially loaded up and trucking with the salty gulf waves on their minds. Too bad northern Louisiana is in our windshield. ;)

Fifteen family members are headed to the sandy beaches of Destin, FL. Luckily, the two cutest travelers are stationed in our backseat.

In approximately 8 hours, my boys will greet the ocean for the first time. And don't you worry, the camera is fully charged and the card is cleared.

Wish us bon voyage!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

They Call Me Mama


And I thank God for it every single day.

Hope your weekend was full of blessings, kindness, and kisses right on the lips. Whether you've given birth, adopted, have sweet babies in heaven or twinkles in your eye, Happy Mother's Day. You know/will know the joy that comes with giving of yourself completely and expecting nothing in return.

(because hiding deep within that "nothing" is the best feeling in the universe)

You know love. True, unbridled, passionate love. It's nice to be celebrated, but this holiday isn't about me, it's about my role. I shouldn't be thanked, I should be thankful. And I am. Every day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday Son



It's what we do when baby brother is napping.

After I closed the nursery door with soft lullabies playing in the background and a tired baby happy to give in, Nathan and I pulled on our shorts and shoes and went outside. We began with a mid-morning drumstick and followed with a ripe strawberry plucked from the garden. Nathan rinsed the red morsel under the water hose and threw the leafy remains to the birds.

We took our shovels and dug around the tomatoes, letting air mix with the soil and flow to the freshly planted roots. We added a few more okra seeds and watered them into place. Then I sat back and watched Nathan water every dandelion and blade of grass until he was content. Then my dirty feet were rinsed clean and I shivered as he was sure to wash my gardening knees, too.

We blew bubbles as the hot sun colored our pale skin and then chased the shiny circles into the sky.

I am thankful for the time I get with Owen on days when Nathan is busy at school. I get to really look him. I look deep into his brown eyes and I do my best to figure him out. This little person I helped bring into the world.

This morning I was blessed with time to do nothing but look at Nathan. Fill all of my being with thoughts and questions about him and his own little world. Watch his enthusiastic expressions rise and fade and notice how he is changing.

I should do that more often. We all should. We should shut it all out and really look into the faces of our children. You might be surprised. Happy Saturday, y'all.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Baby Steps


(See what I did with the title there?)



Look out, world and low-shelved breakables, Owen is officially on the move.

Over the course of just two weeks, Owen has made great strides in the art of walking. We convinced him that running through the house behind a push toy wasn't going to cut it and he gained the courage to let go. Only when he chooses to, of course. Don't even *think* about showing him off like a trained pony. That's our Owen! (ahem)

Anyway, the kid is up to a record 12 steps before landing on his cushy bottom. He's gotten to his feet on his own a few times and he's been known to dance a jig before taking off. We know in the coming days he will move past this wobbly walk and advance to tearing through the house at the speed of toddler.

Heaven, help us. :)

PS: No joke, about five minutes after recording this, we moved our playtime outside. Two minutes later, I called Jonathan and yelled into the phone: "QUICK! Is sidewalk chalk non-toxic?!" The fun never ends around here and I have an angry, yellow-mouthed baby to prove it. Have an awesome Thursday, y'all.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Official Student

Now that looks like a kid at the top of his class, doesn't it?

The whole family visited Nashville Primary School this afternoon. Shot records and birth certificate in hand, we marched through the jungle-themed double doors and into kindergarten registration.

Believe or not, the time has come.

Nathan was delighted (and probably relieved) to see two of his best buddies from preschool waiting with their moms. We took a seat and a stack of papers and began. Nathan visited with the school nurse and asked questions about recess options. Moments later, a teacher came out and took him by the hand to test for readiness. He was eager to show off his light-up shoes and I had no doubt in him whatsoever.

When they returned, all she said was that he did a good job. I took the red smiley sticker stuck to his hand to be a positive sign. While quizzing him in the car, he told me had to sort bears into color families, recognize both lowercase and uppercase letters, ID numbers, and write his name. He said he aced it all! I'll never know for sure, but I believe him.

Before leaving, the nurse told us the class lists would be posted in July. Hopefully he will have a friend or two in his class. No matter what, though, I know he will succeed. A few more weeks of preschool, a summer of fun, and August 20 will be here.

Ready or not, Nathan is well on his way to kindergarten.

PS: We are totally ready. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life is Sprouting


Look at those baby cucumbers, reaching out from the soil and into the wild blue.

I promised you a veggie post. I mustn't keep you waiting.

On Earth Day, I took the short drive to the garden center and stocked up on leafy tomato and pepper plants, fragrant herbs, and bright flowers. This purchase, paired with the seed packets I bought as soon as the displays were out, signaled the new season.

Once the wind died down and the soil was worked, it was time. This year we added a fourth raised bed. Now they're all planted, waiting to grow. Here's my view from the back windows:

Greeeen acres is the place to be!

The homestead is looking pretty nice, isn't it? The best thing about living in front of a pasture is getting the rustic view without the rustic work.


First are the front beds (closest to the house). On the left, okra seedlings are popping up throughout and the soon-to-be trellised cucumbers are against the back. Next are the strawberries and bush beans. I put in strawberry plants about a month ago. Since then, Nathan and I have eaten four! You haven't seen a harvest photo because the berries don't stick around long enough. :) These beans were also seeded by Nathan. I'll have him out there picking before we know it.

A petite strawberry flower eager to become a tasty treat.

Directly behind those plots is a bed full of herbs (basil, oregano, and cilantro), marigolds, and seeded zinnias that are just starting to sprout. Although we may use herbs for cooking, this bed's job is to attract pollinators and deter pests. Isn't companion planting grand? To make the most of this we left the trellis in place from the failed spring experiment and planted pole beans. Green beans will surely get eaten around here!

One of the pepper plants still dwarfed by its cage. Hopefully not for long!

And in the very back are the tomatoes - my pride and joy. This year I have three Early Girls, three Arkansas Travelers and two from a pack labeled "Rainbow Blend." I'm anxious to see which colorful heirlooms weigh down those vines. So anxious that I saved a third plant and potted it. I love a surprise! Grouped with the tomatoes are my peppers. This year we're trying two Anaheim chili plants to add a little heat. We also have four tried and true bell peppers.

There you have it. Our "third time's a charm" vegetable garden. Over the years I have learned valuable lessons the hard way. Getting my hands dirty is the best method and I've not even scratched the surface. I plan to soak up this knowledge and use it for as long as I can.

Here's to an overflowing veggie basket with your name on it. Happy Wednesday!