Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mumpmeeps

Or, loosely translated, pumpkins.


My three favorite boys and I braved the bracing cold this weekend and visited the pumpkin patch at the First Methodist Church in Hope.

Owen couldn't believe his eyes when pumpkins of all shapes and sizes were splayed across dozens of pallets, just waiting for his chubby fingers.

Other patch patrons couldn't help but giggle when every few seconds one of the following phrases was enthusiastically screamed: "MOM! MUMPMEEP! NATE! MUMPMEEP! DAD! MUMPMEEP!" He tried lifting a few that weighed as much as him, but finally settled on holding as many small ones as possible.

Nathan took a more methodical approach to pumpkin patching. He was very much attracted to the bigger ones. He carefully set to work, hunting down the bumpiest, the fattest, and the one with the longest stem (not necessarily in that order).

As you can tell from the above pictures, the older Bauer boy was much more willing to sit atop a pumpkin and smile pretty for the camera. He's really good at that, you know. The little Bauer boy was distracted with tiny dancing pumpkins and fistfuls of straw until we got him balanced and looking in the right direction.

Scowl or smile - at least he's looking right?

Once the boys were sufficiently chilled and we paid for our three 50-cent pumpkins, we made the rookie mistake of expecting Owen to willfully follow us away from the glorious allure of pumpkins and into the car.

Nuh uh.

He kicked. He screamed. He ran. He called after his beloved mumpmeeps. Oh, goodness, we were a sight to see at the pumpkin patch.

Owen sniffled the whole way to the restaurant where I enjoyed a lovely meal with my three favorite boys. All while Owen was clutching dramatically to his three favorite pumpkins.



Happy Tuesday, y'all. May your love for pumpkins be as grand as Owen's this time of year. (okay, maybe not that grand)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A is for Awesome


Look, it's baby's first letter grade. :)

If I were a betting woman, I'd place a wager that this is only the first of many red As filed into Nathan's backpack. This one, however, is special. It's number one. And it's currently resting front and center on the fridge.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Pout


Carving pumpkins is frustrating work.

Friday evening was full of snuggly blankets, potato soup, and pumpkin guts. Too bad Owen didn't get the memo that all of these things are fantastic. Perhaps round two of our fun-filled fall weekend will result in less tears and better pictures.

Although, these are pretty good:



Oh well, at least this guy had fun:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kindergarten Report


Mr. Bauer, kindergarten extraordinaire, all dressed up for career day.

If you don't like proud parent posts, please avert your eyes and go cry over the wedding post again.

If you're still with me, get ready. Yesterday was Nathan's first parent-teacher conference, during which we were handed his first report card.

Oh yeah, it's going to get good.

The boys and I sat outside the classroom door, in the hall full of hand-painted pumpkins and stories about mummies with five-year-old names scribbled on top. As kids passed, hand-in-hand with parents, Nathan spoke to them. Every single one of them.
  • "Hey, I know you! I played with you on the swings!"
  • "Hey Katherine! Is that your mom?"
  • "Hey Christopher, your little sister is so cute!"
  • "Hi! I saw you in the cafeteria. What's your name?"
Before we were seated in tiny blue chairs, Mrs. Dodd's words spilled over like she was saving them for days. She talked about how creative and artistic he was. She opened his journal as proof and page upon page, I was amazed. There were perfectly detailed scenes with sentences spelled phonetically below them.

I like tocos, too! Don't you??

Mrs. Dodd flipped to the tiger, which was yesterday morning's entry, and told us she used it as an example for the class because it was better than hers. He's five. She told him he would be a great teacher (see above photo), but encouraged him to join his love of books and drawing and become an illustrator. He's five.

Nathan's eyes lit up and mine watered as she proceeded to tick through a list of adjectives. Attentive, helpful, polite, smart, creative, eager.

Y'all. I almost cried at parent-teacher conferences.

Once he piles out of the car in the morning, he's on his own. He navigates halls, works in corners, plays at recess, and raises his hand - all by himself. Jonathan and I have released him into the wild and yesterday we got a glimpse of what that looks like.

And, as you can tell, I was pleased with what I saw.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brother Gets Hitched



Photos by Southern Blue Photography out of Hope. Click for contact info.

Guys. There's a gorgeous new Montgomery. My brother got married and it was incredible.

It took me a minute to get past the fact my brother was no longer in a ninth-grade classroom, but in a wedding chapel pledging love, honor, and respect to an amazing woman. But after that, y'all, it was amazing.

The scenic Hot Springs venue was decked out in the splendor of fall and the glass building allowed spectators to take it all in, yet they never took their eyes off the bride. It was perfect. The flutters of nerves, the sunset washing over everything, the rings, the dress, the cousin-led ceremony, and the joining of family, friends, and well-dressed kids:


Uh, yeah, I know. He rocked it hard. Thanks for the photo, Diana!

I'm not sure how to put it other than perfection. We have a new family member and it all went off without a hitch (unless you count a face-making ring bearer as a hitch, but if my opinion counts, I vote "no").

After we heard them say they do, my mom wiped her tears, and I managed to exit the chapel unscathed in my glamorously high heels, we loaded up for the reception.

This consisted of drinks, dinner, cake, and clapping. Toasts were said, champagne was sipped, and my dad made everyone cry. We watched as Rose and Tommy swirled around the dance floor, we "awwwed" as Rose and her grandpa danced, and I tried my hardest to keep it together while my mom and my little brother took their turn.

It was tough.

Once the first dances were over and everyone collected themselves, my son was unleashed on the dance floor. With tux jacket and vest shed, he made his way out there with his tiny brown tie whipping around with every robot jerk and booty shake. Everyone was so surprised by his willingness to get funky, but I was just waiting until the moment the dance music played. It was spectacular.

Once the crowd started to clear and the bride and groom escaped upstairs, we sat with family members and chatted. We then went upstairs, packed up our belongings, and carried on with our lives.

Today is nothing new. It's just another day at work after a wonderful weekend. Except one little thing. I had lunch with my brother and his wife (what?) and he was wearing a wedding ring. A little band of gold that once wrapped around my grandpa's left ring finger now wraps around Tommy's. A promise of love that lasted decades for one couple is the symbol of the beginning for another. Pretty cool, if you ask me.



Yes, everything is back to normal, except for a piece of paper and a couple of rings that mean my family is one member bigger. And I love it.

Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

At the Chapel



Today, I am standing at the front of a chapel in beautiful Hot Springs National Park, watching that kid in the bow-tie marry the love his life.

Awesome.

Happy Wedding Day to my stylish baby brother and my beautiful new sister-in-law. I'm obviously busy with bridesmaid responsibilities including but not limited to: getting my hair done, wearing a fabulous dress, and partying hard. After I recover from such work, I'll be back with details.

Can't wait to see him looking all spiffy once again!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fresh Fall Food



Lettuce, greens, and carrots - oh my!

I am a mom. I am a referee, a bather, a maid, a doctor, a milk fixer, and a chauffeur. I, however, am no chef.

So when I caught sight of my email prompt from the Arkansas Women Bloggers asking me to write for "Foodie Friday," I was stuck. I can make baby food all day, y'all. I can toast waffles, heat mac-n-cheese, and slice up grapes like it's going out of style. But when it comes to the stove, or grill, I'm lost. Lucky for me, my husband knows his way around a kitchen.

Dodged the bullet there, didn't I? Thanks, hon!

A few years ago I made the decision that if I'm not good at making food, I had to be good at growing it. Hence, the Bauer Family Garden. :) In its third year, we were able to bring in dozens upon dozens of ripe, juicy tomatoes, buckets of cucumbers and peppers, and the sweetest strawberries I've tasted. All just a few steps past the back door.

Last year was our first attempt at fall gardening. I planted carrots, beans, and lettuce. The beans died with the first hint of frost and the carrots died with the second. Oops.

At least we got one awesome carrot out of the deal.

This year, I wised up a little. There are two different kinds of lettuce and a fantastically growing salad mix. (See the first picture. I have no idea what kind of greens those are, but they're going like weeds and taste even better.) I also planted two different types of carrots.

Knowing the lettuce is hardy, I'm going to let it do its thing as the temps cool, cutting as I need along the way. The carrots, however, are going to get a cozy little home once the frost begins to settle in southern Arkansas.

My handy chef of a husband (did I mention he's good-looking, too?) has plans to make row covers out of PVC pipe and plastic. My carrots will be protected from the bugs and the elements and by Thanksgiving we should have some beauties to sit next to the potatoes on the dinner table.

Until then, though, it appears we'll have greens coming out of our ears. Therefore, I present my Foodie Friday recipe:
  • Plant seeds.
  • Water and wait.
  • Cut lettuce.
  • Wash off dirt.
  • Eat lettuce.
And there's your fall recipe on this gorgeous Friday - straight from the ground to the table. Bon appetite, y'all!




This post is part of an Arkansas Women Bloggers challenge called Blogtober Fest. Click to read other Foodie Friday posts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nutty Halloween


When I wrote Tuesday's post about my monkey's first Halloween (scroll down if you missed it... d'aww!), I couldn't help but think of my second bundle of joy.

Last year was Owen's first time to don a costume and collect candy and chocolates to be divided among everyone but himself. It's a hard-knock life for babies at Halloween, isn't it?

This year, though, the spooky holiday has the possibility of being even scarier for my little dinosaur (kitty cat? cow? ninja?).

As I daydreamed about negotiating with my big boy for chocolate-covered goodies, I realized my little boy can't even touch the typical Halloween loot. You may remember that a few days before his first birthday, Owen learned the hard way that he and peanuts are no longer friends.

Unfortunately this means he and chocolate don't get along too well, either. Most of the usual Halloween fare comes with a "made in a facility that processes peanuts" warning. Boo! This is going to be hard isn't it?

How do you explain to a not-so-patient one-year-old that he can't enjoy the Snickers his brother his feasting on? (In his bedroom. With the door closed. With the intention of washing his hands immediately after. Nathan is a fantastic big brother.) Or that he can't even touch the colorful packages friendly neighbors drop into his pumpkin?

I'm going to have to come up with a game plan that may or may not involve a giant bag of goldfish, graham crackers, or suckers that I nonchalantly slip to each person to gift to my baby. Or maybe I'll just make the swap when he's not looking.

Either way, I know this is just the beginning of a potentially complicated holiday for Owen. At least this year, it seems the lack of sugar-laden treats may be a good thing:


Don't ya just want to squeeze him? Poor little nut-free baby.

Happy Thursday, y'all!

Count your blessings while you eat your PBJs. :)


This post is part of an Arkansas Women Bloggers challenge called Blogtober Fest. Click to read other entries promoting posts from the past.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Remember



I opened an email yesterday from the Arkansas Women Bloggers, urging me to write about my fall traditions as part of an autumn blogging challenge (see link below).

I searched my brain for ideas and came up with a few, but as I continued to peruse the rest of the email's suggestions, I stopped cold at "they are what make you you and what helps to bind your family together."

So this is going to be a little different than most.

Monday, October 15, too many parents across the globe lit a candle for their babies. Some held their babies only for a few months or a few days, some only saw them as blips on an ultrasound screen, and others only had two glorious lines on a pregnancy test.

This day is known as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and, as you may already know, I am one of those much-too-high statistics. I am the one in four. There's a good chance you may be, too.

Fall is a bittersweet time for me. I love watching my rural corner of the state transform into a cozy, idyllic little spot with fireplaces, falling leaves, and closer families. I also think about the time I was due to deliver my second child on October 10, 2010. Unfortunately I ended up suffering through a miscarriage the March before.

Time helps and I've lived, learned, and grown. Owen was born one year after my miscarriage and our family is stronger than ever. Because my heart has grown, though, does not mean the hole healed. It's just become part of me.

Each fall, I think about this little miracle who taught me so much about life. Whether we live to be 100 or never see beyond our mother's womb, we're all here for a just a blink.

Seeing it go just as quickly as it came gave me a sense of urgency. I am desperate to make every second count. I'm not living perfectly, and there are new struggles each day, but every time I wake up and see the sun, I am thankful. Every time I wake up and see my sons, I am thankful.

So my fall tradition is simple. Around this time of year, my husband and I are reminded to be thankful for the time we're given. We are blessed with the precious gift of life and we have the honor of raising two more.

We also have the honor of knowing a pretty fantastic guardian angel. I hope I get more time to figure out what I'm doing here, but the day I'm done, I pray I'll have an awesome welcoming committee.

Life is too precious and too rare to be wasted. Live yours.

Every day.


This post is part of an Arkansas Women Bloggers challenge called Blogtober Fest. Click to read other fall traditions.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monkey Baby


You know it's going to get good when five-year-old pictures get posted.

When I think of Halloween memories, I tend to travel back pretty far.

I smile when I remember my costumes (and the fact that these costumes may have extended a little too far into my adolescence).

I see the young witch, the sweet bunny rabbit, and the blushing bride. I remember sitting with my family at my grandmother's house and dumping our loot onto the kitchen table. Our parents sat with us, judging which pieces were safe to eat and which were best reserved for older pallets. (read: they stole the good stuff) I remember posing by pumpkins and hay bales as the parents snapped pictures and made memories.

I remember being young.

However, Halloween also brings up memories closer than the six-year-old cheerleader flanked by a ghost brother and a clown cousin. I think of my first Halloween on the other side of the camera.

The day my oldest entered this world five Julys ago, his Aunt B gifted him with the nickname of monkey. He was weeks early and still covered in protective fuzz. His lanky arms and legs were adorable, and our monkey he was.

When October arrived, the costume was ordered and my much-plumper monkey was going to live up to his nickname. Our first holiday together was amazing.


Best photography ever or best photography ever? (/sarcasm)

My three-month-old Nathan with his long tail, round ears, and dough boy cheeks had me bursting with parental pride. I toted that baby from door to door and beamed at the oohs and ahhs waiting behind each one.

His chubby fists dug deep into baskets of candy and lifted out suckers, Smarties, and chocolate like he knew what he was doing.

Then, once we returned to his grandmother's house, I sat my baby on my lap and dumped his loot onto the table. I picked out what I didn't want and saved the good stuff for myself. All Nathan got was a bottle. Funny how history repeats itself.

Now that my monkey is going to be a kindergarten ninja, I have a feeling I'll have to work a little harder for my treats.

Maybe I should dig out that cheerleader's uniform. :)


This post is part of an Arkansas Women Bloggers challenge called Blogtober Fest. Click to read other Halloween memories.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Naturally


Not my picture, but I sure wish it was! Click here for the Ozark-based source.

Fall decorating is the predetermined topic du jour, thanks to the ladies at Arkansas Women Bloggers. They've conjured up a week of fall topics for a challenge known as Blogtober Fest:

Aside from a puffy pumpkin hung on our front door to smile at speeding cars and visiting grandparents, though, we don't have much. It's not that we don't *have* fall decor, it's that I'd rather sit at the computer writing for you than dig it out. (You're welcome.)

No, when I think of fall decorations, my mind goes beyond scarecrows atop hay bales or cobweb-wrapped columns. I think of the more natural decor of autumn in Arkansas.

Even in my less-than-hilly corner of the state, the changes that take place are grand. Though the crisp in the air has yet to arrive for good, it's already different. It smells different. It tastes different. It awakens a part of my soul that actually wants to stay outside for hours at a time.

(This part of my soul gets pushed aside when it's 100+ out.)

Groups of happy yellow blooms dot my morning commute up and down the lonely highway. Sunflowers tower over young pine trees and seem to be planted on purpose. Wildflowers spread like fire through pastures. Sunlight pours from the sky and ignites the scene.

On hazy autumn mornings, the back-lit cows look heavenly. That's saying a lot for animals that can stink for miles. :)

When I think of fall decor, I don't think anything in my closet can compare to the reds, yellows, and oranges of the hardwoods taking turns with the evergreens. Brown-leaved trees show their age, but still make me want to light a pumpkin candle, organize a game of football, and roast a marshmallow. (in that order.)

Or... perhaps this was all just a ruse to convince myself that the fall decor can stay in its tub. But, believe me, the Bauer boys would sure love to see their old scarecrow friend propped up on the porch.

Sigh.

Into the closet I go. Happy Monday and happy fall, y'all!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mom, Level Genius



Would you look at that sweet face? Those deep brown eyes, those rosy cheeks, that refreshed look of a good night's sleep!

Wait a minute.

If you read yesterday's post, you would know "well-rested" is not an adjective I would use to describe Owen lately. However, with a stroke of brilliance, there's been a vast improvement.

As you may have known since I brought home a nine-pound, swaddled bundle of joy, Owen has a thing for blankets. Remember? (Please take the time to click the the link. Did ya look? I KNOW! He was so little!)

The kid still can't sleep without one of these soft muslin blankets wrapped around his hands or rubbing his cheek. It's his paci. Little did I know how true that was until a light bulb went off in my head after our bathroom fiasco last night.

In the two weeks of Owen's nightly scream fests, there's been one common denominator. He throws his blanky out of the crib. Knowing it's out of his reach and he can't get to sleep, he makes as much noise as possible until someone rushes to his rescue. I am now 100% certain this was a setup.

He knows we know his weakness. "If I just toss it aside, they'll know the agony and pain in my loss. They'll snuggle me and rock me and let me watch late-night television."

The answer, it turns out, was right there on the nursery floor. Mama's solution was simple. Keep the blanket in the crib:



Y'all. It worked. Last night he cried for about 15 minutes until he realized his blanket wasn't going anywhere. I can only assume he gave up, buried himself into soft, blankety goodness and drifted to dream.

As usual, he woke up at 2 am. I assume he tried again to activate his escape plan, but the blanket didn't budge. He cried for five minutes, Jonathan and I stayed warm in our bed, and soon our house was filled with silence. It was beautiful.

He slept until 8 am. ONE HOUR after I woke up. I ate a pop tart in my bed. It was the most incredible part of my day. When I went to get him, the blanket was untied, but Owen was happy. I saw a glimpse of the guy I knew before the fits began. Don't get me wrong, he's still sassy, but it's more endearing after a good night's sleep. :)

I double-knotted at nap time. I'll let you know how long that one lasts.



Happy, blissful, awesome Saturday, you guys. :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Diagnosis: Rude


Oh, so cute, right? No. No, it's not.

About four million times a day, my name is desperately yelled from room to room. However, I know something's up when it's not any form of the word "mommy."

Spoiler Alert: By this point, you've got to be getting tired of the old Owen hijinks posts. Oh, you are? Yeah, well, me too.

When I heard the urgency in Jonathan's voice, I had to see what was up. I rushed into the guest bathroom to find the following:

A) Wet walls, wet floor, wet counter
B) An empty toilet paper roll
C) Sopping-wet toilet paper plastered to every surface
D) A baby, dripping on the rug, announcing, "Watuh!"

It was then that I summoned every ounce of sanity and spread it across my cold parenting face. (It was also at this point that I made the adult decision to let the camera lie.) Jonathan was angry and I had to be, too. Right? As much as I wanted to burst into a pile of laughter at this ridiculous sight, I didn't.

I ushered my husband away from the situation, grabbed the mop and toilet brush and set to work. The bathroom need cleaning anyway, it being 7:30 pm is beside the point. I laughed as the naked baby splashed in the tub, having just as much fun in the bath water as he did in the *ahem* other water.

All hilarity aside, Owen is one of my favorites. Even if he has chosen to start the terrible twos early. Even if there's a secret crayon drawing hidden on one of his brother's walls. Even if I took him to the doctor this morning in hopes of an ear infection as an excuse for temper tantrums.

Sigh.

After a week or two of sleep regression, screaming fits, and a blatant disrespect of authority, Owen just had to be sick. I saw him grab his ear once, so I chalked it up to that. A round of antibiotics and my sweetie would be good as new.

After a brief once over, the diagnosis was simple - nothing. Owen was perfectly normal, both in health and in boundary testing. Awesome.

Although I am unbelievably in love with this adorable little boy with the big personality, I hope he soon makes the choice to use his power for good, and not evil. :)

Happy Friday, y'all. Get some sleep.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Oh-Two!



I remember well the day I graduated from high school.

The grass was wet from an earlier rain, my shoes with just a hint of heel were killing me, and my perfectly flipped-out hair was crushed beneath the red mortarboard.

I took my place near the start of the line, sandwiched between some of my very best friends who shared my privilege of being an honor graduate. I practiced saying my name, school choice, and major intention under my breath a few times and exhaled when I finally handed the microphone off to someone else.

Then we graduated. We moved our tassels, hung up our gowns, and enjoyed each other's company for the first time as HHS alumni. Our statuses had changed, but that was all.

I'd always been excited about my ten-year reunion. What would we look like? How many babies would my then-boyfriend and I have? Where would the exciting world of broadcast journalism take me?

Last weekend, we gathered as HHS alumni once again. Ten years after that soggy May day on the pre-turf football field. Most of you know the answers to the above questions are very different than I thought they would be. And that makes me unbelievably happy. I am madly in love with a man I barely knew then. I am blissful in my motherhood to two boys who are just the start, and I'm proud to be part of my family's business.

That being said, I looked into the faces of people I had not seen in 10 years and I felt young. I felt like the same 17-year-old girl who marched in the band with pride and loved every second of every class.

My grownup classmates and I were together night and day last weekend, remembering teenage moments and swapping baby stories. Acting 18, but feeling 28 hours later. There were so many differences about each of us - last names, occupations, locations, families. Oddly enough, though, we were still the same people.

Our statuses had changed, but that was all.

Several of my favorites are missing from the pictures below (all of the faces pictured above - I sure missed you!), but this is one fantastic group of people. These men and women have accomplished great things, many of which they had no clue about ten years ago. It was a pleasure to be counted as one of them.




After Jonathan and I drove home from the party, we peeked at our sleeping boys and I felt thankful. Thankful for the fantastic start given to me by the Hope schools. It wasn't necessarily the lessons, the classrooms, or the teachers. It was the people. The seven-year-old who spoke to me on my first day in a scary new school. The sixth-grader who giggled with me in a secret language. The teenager who could (and still can) finish my sentences.

People make you who you are and I'm grateful for the HHS Class of 2002 - those I reconnected with at the reunion and those who have been gigantic pieces of my heart since elementary school.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn Afternoon



The afternoon started out just splendid. The boys and I wanted to take advantage of the cooling October temperatures and we knew the swing set was the place to do it.

After three pairs of shoes were carefully strapped on, we ventured out. We swung together, we leaped over Susie-made holes together, and we collected together.

Nathan and Owen set to work under the big oak tree, collecting all the acorns (pronounced: a-kerns) they could carry. When Nathan's hands started getting full, I was happy to jump up and help him. During this time, I may have let the bigger-than-he-thinks baby out of my sight for a few seconds.

Once that crossed my mind, I looked over from our a-kern stash and saw this:



Muddy. Paws.

I continue to watch as Owen marches over to the driveway, scoops up fistfuls of rock and gravel, does a pronounced about-face and marches right back to plop them into Susie's water bowl (more dirt than water at this point).



Cute, right? Little Owen enjoying the combination of two of his favorite things - dirt and water! It was at that time that I heard a different splash. That must have been a pretty big rock, I thought to myself.

Nope. It was Owen.





I decided it was best to let things go as they may. It was a lovely afternoon and Nathan and I set up two lawn chairs and just watched this baby go to town. He cracked us up! However, six o'clock came quickly and Nathan's stomach was growling. I didn't even say a word, but started to approach Owen in a manner that he quickly figured out.

The dirty baby crawled to his feet, dumped his water, and took off across the yard, bowl in hand. When I finally caught up to him and convinced him to come back, this is the face he made. The. Whole. Time.



As for what happened next, let's just say I've never bathed a standing, screaming baby before and I'd really rather not attempt it again. Luckily a little Toy Story and a few chicken nuggets did the trick to calm him down.

Next time, I think we'll start our outdoor adventures a little earlier. :) Hope everyone is having a happy Thursday!