Friday, May 31, 2013

The Cycle

I did not do a good photography job for this play date. Owen looks crazy and sweet Baby Maggie isn't even featured. There will be a full-blown photo shoot next time. Promise.

These are the adorable little fruits that came from the labor of two girls who have spent a lot of their lives together.

These are my kids and (half of) my best friend's kids. The same friend I met when I was the new girl in second-grade. The same friend who helped me drive my parents insane with incessant giggling. The same friend who stood beside me when I said I do.

These are the kids of those kids.


We never know how old we are until we watch our kids play and that sure hit hard last weekend.

My partner in crime and I spent Friday night kid-free and husband-free (Yeah. Let's take a moment and let that awesomeness sink in). We ate at Outback for more than two hours and celebrated the date of her birth. So. Many. Cheese Fries.

Sure, we talked about our kids the entire time but it's completely different when we don't have to wipe mac and cheese from small faces, pick up thrown crayons, or escort little people on potty breaks. It was delightful.

Later in the weekend, we joined forces as families. Let me stress that watching those babies whose births we constantly relive was fantastic, amazing, and all those other happy adjectives, but it was weird. They were playing nicely, they were having conversations, and they were giggling in a very familiar fashion.

As the years pass, I have a feeling this particular cycle will repeat itself. The cycle of friendship will not end with us and though our visits are few and far between, the connection (between us and our offspring) is one that immediately awakens. Heck, this could even turn into something special:

As much fun as I had growing up with Abby, I think this stage of our lives is my favorite. We are adults with a lifetime of memories to cherish and now we get to watch as our own children make memories of their own. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Abby's Baby Maggie and the still-baking Baby Nora will be the two closest in age and eventually be in the same grade in school. We already have them pegged as the loud, obnoxious, hilarious, secret-sharing pair that we used to be.

And probably still are, if you ask my mom. :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kindergarten Complete

With a painless birthday spanking for the summer celebrants and a confetti cupcake baked by yours truly, kindergarten ended last Friday.

You'd think Nathan would be bummed, but the crystal blue swimming pool and the idea of attending summer care with Owen kept the sadness at bay. He was happy to be done, but boy was my kid proud.

Once we unloaded after our last kindergarten pickup, Nathan sat down at the table and unzipped his heavy backpack. He pulled out his crayon box, ready to color all summer long. He then watched my reaction as he handed me his final, refrigerator-ready report card.

An entire year of memories loaded down the gray backpack that slipped on his small shoulders in August. Books of words he had written in journal entries, pictures he drew that were better anything I could dream of doing, and carefully written names in his first-ever yearbook. He was done.

My son finished his first year of formal schooling and he has come out shining on the other side.

I'll admit I was scared when I left him in the classroom last fall. I knew Nathan liked to learn and I knew he was bright, but I was unsure of how he would do in this environment. Could he make new friends? Could he take care of himself? Could he adhere to the responsibilities that come with school?

Turns out, the answer is an emphatic YES.

(If you haven't already grasped the fact that this is a mommy brag post, grasp it and move on if you're not into it. If you are into though, please continue to read about how awesome my kid is. Illustrations included.)

He has learned so much this year. As we were riding home yesterday, he was looking through the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (what??) and read me things like "winged thrips" and "sucking louse" and "reproductive termites" (again, what??).

When he stepped into Mrs. Dodd's classroom, he couldn't read. Maybe he knew small words that made sense phonetically, but this kid is using context clues, word chunks, and sound blends. I may not have known what half of those were until he told me. Here are a few of his journal pages:

Click to enlarge. You won't regret it.

His math skills are pretty impressive, too, from addition and subtraction to three-dimensional shapes to counting to ridiculously high numbers. I cut him off at 250 once for my own sanity.

On the flip side, his inner artist soared this year. I've always known he was good at drawing, but I am now even more anxious to see this talent develop. If his kindergarten portfolio is any indication, he's going to be drawing some awesome stuff by high school.

I think pre-kindergarten Nathan to post-kindergarten Nathan is the biggest change I have seen thus far. He went in a scared little preschooler and came out a responsible, respectful, big kid. He takes care of his brother, he helps me more than a five-year-old should, and he simply loves life. He loves Ninja Turtles on a Saturday morning, backyard adventures, and afternoons with nothing but a pile of Legos and a wild imagination. He loves being a kid. Because he is one. Nathan is a kid.

There's no turning back.

I hope your school year was just as successful and you're ready to say hello to summer. We've already dipped into the pool once this year and if that was any indication, it's going to be one sweet summer. Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Baby Brain

For the past couple of weeks I've had strokes of brilliance when it comes to posting. Waxing poetic on the beautiful details of motherhood, the much more abundant stress caused by said motherhood, and the way it comes together to form my life.

And then I have to go to the bathroom or get a snack or something and all thoughts fall out of my head.

So, what better way to break the blog silence than writing a post about how I can never remember anything I want to write about? Makes sense to me.

Hopefully it doesn't make sense to you, you do not want to be on this level.

With only 46 days left on my baby countdown (horrifying), I hate to admit that I have done nothing to prepare for the impending arrival of Miss Nora June. Sure I've documented my pregnancy (shout out to Ashley Mhoon for snapping some awesome maternity pictures this weekend - see more here) and I've attended every prenatal appointment, though my average punctuality is about 7 minutes late. As much as I want to see my daughter's sweet face, my brain cannot handle the amount of work I have to do to get ready.

Let's tick through a list, shall we? Perhaps you're not interested in the things I need to do that I cannot remember to do, but publishing it on the Internet is one way to keep it fresh. Follow? No? It's okay.

  • Choose the Perfect Shade of Pale. Bright. Girly. Aqua. Blue.
  • Paint the Walls That Shade.
  • Redecorate Nathan's Room with an Outer Space Theme.
  • Make That Room Double Occupancy.
  • Convince Owen to Sleep in That Room.
  • Buy Diapers (thank HEAVENS for good friends and an upcoming baby shower).
  • Pre-Register at the Hospital (this came out of nowhere, but I'm glad it popped onto my blank slate).
  • Design and Administer the Perfect Ninja Turtle Birthday Party (fingers crossed Nora's not there).
  • Wash and Fold Tiny Clothes.
  • DECORATE The Pale. Bright. Girly. Aqua. Blue. Nursery.
  • Sleep In. (I'd like to have one day where I sleep until I wake up.)

Maybe once I check that last item off of my list, this brain will kick into high gear and I can get the rest of it (and whatever else I'm forgetting) done in no time. Either way, as long as I snag those diapers, she can come when she's ready.

Even if I'm not.

Have a great Monday, y'all, eat an extra Memorial Day hot dog for me!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Week 33

Week: Thirty-three (and one day)
Size: Pineapple
Feeling: OVER. WHELMED. The weeks are speeding past.
Symptoms: Nothing new other than daily earthquakes in my belly.
Maternity Clothes: I've given up on pants. It's dresses/skirts from here on.
Sleep: Would love some, thanks.
Gender: Still my sweet girl.
Movement: It's getting ridiculous.
What I Miss: Energy!
What I Want: More hours in the day. I can barely keep my house in order - I don't know how I'm going to find the time for extra chores like oh, you know, decorating and painting a nursery, combining the boys' room, potty training... Anyone have some hours they're willing to share?
Best Moment this Week: Seeing this smiling face:

I was surprised with an ultrasound at my 32-week appointment on Wednesday. My belly was measuring about two weeks small (I'm definitely carrying her differently), so OB wanted to check on her size, as well. Thankfully she was only small by a couple of days and everything looked great. She was moving constantly, chewing her hands, and we even got to see what looked like a sweet little yawn. The best part was seeing her head down and ready to go, after being breech at 29 weeks. I'm not ready for her, but hopefully she stays in position until that time comes. A long, long time from now. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Week 32

Week: Thirty-two
Size: Large Jicama
Feeling: Worn out, overwhelmed, anxious, and super excited. The usual.
Symptoms: This body is wearing down, y'all. Lots of couch-lying in the plans.
Maternity Clothes: Yup.
Sleep: When it's comfortable, it's oh, so good.
Gender: Still my sweet girl.
Movement: Always.
What I Miss: Walking quickly?
What I Want: Owen to feel better. A toddler with strep throat and a giant lymph node makes for one worried mama.
Best Moment this Week: Love and hugs on Mother's Day. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Slow Growing

We got a little backyard work/play in this evening. You can guess which activity lasted longer.

I happened to have my phone in my pocket so I snapped a quick update. As you can see, we've been doing a little picking. Photos of strawberries are rare (even rarer are strawberries that make it inside). Next time I'll try for shots of them still on the plant, but the oldest Bauer boy is quick to pick.

Long story short: Strawberries are doing well and the berries are sweeter, larger, and much more abundant in their second year. Yay!

The main goal of today's work was to cage up the tomatoes. Oh, those tomatoes. I am proud of them and their slow, slow growing. After planting at our usual date of late April, things got a little weird. It frosted twice since the tender beauties have been in the ground. I have never in my life covered tomatoes, but both these and the even more delicate pepper plants had to be tucked in with sheets in the month of May. So rude, but they survived.

Now that overnight lows are hovering around 60, they've taken off and are looking great. We are experimenting with a new cage this year - the Ultomato Cage, to be exact. "The only tomato cage you'll ever need!!"

After watching the full-grown tom plants tear the basic cages from the ground last year, I knew I wanted something different. I thought about just staking them, but that most likely involves pruning. I don't think giving plants haircuts will be high on my priority list this July. This way we can still tie the plants to stakes, but they're also caged enough to grow wild and free. Fingers crossed.

I guess the test will come tonight. As Nathan snapped the last cage together, God decided to take care of the watering for us. And while Nathan was busy performing free child labor, Owen was doing this:

Oh well, at least he managed to stay out of the ants this time.

I didn't take any more pictures, but you aren't missing much. Like I said, peppers need even warmer temperatures than tomatoes, so they honestly don't look much different than they did when we put them in the ground. I may rethink my planting time for those guys next year.

The corn and cucumbers have all popped their heads through the soil (I'll post proof soon), and the beans are slowly but surely following suit. Bean seeds need warmer temperatures than we've been having so I may need to replant. Live and learn!

This turned out to be more than a "quick update" but you got to see an adorable baby swinging on his tummy and a handful of strawberries next to the face of your favorite kindergartner. Worth it or totally worth it?

I thought so.

Happy Wednesday, gang!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

For Mothers

It's been pretty quiet around here lately, but don't worry, I have a really good reason.

(The reason is "too tired" and I'm okay with that.)

After dragging my pregnant self to Little Rock with our youth group this weekend to praise Jesus with hundreds of crazy Catholic teenagers, we landed smack dab on Mother's Day. The guys who call me mama welcomed me home with big hugs and toothy grins. The daddies cooked and cleaned as we watched the boys play in the Arkansas sunshine. We opened cards filled with love and support and we thanked one another for the thoughtfulness.

We mothers are pretty important, after all. Your life depended on one.

Fast Forward: After Mother's Day, it was Monday. A physically exhausted, sleep-deprived kind of Monday. I went through the motions best I could and then packed it in to collect my favorite two-year-old. When he came to the door, something was off. His Nannie said he didn't eat lunch (which is when I knew something was off).

After a quiet commute to pick up the big brother, we took the highway home. I instantly laid my baby on his changing table and took his temperature. It beeped at 102.1. Uh oh. I gave the pediatrician's office a call and booked him the first slot of the day. Thankfully his daddy was off work and able to take him. The verdict is one ear infection, one swollen lymph node, one bad case of strep throat, and one super sad baby.

Monday was a far cry from the Hallmark-recognized day of roses, jewelry, and breakfast in bed. But, y'all, Monday was motherhood.

Motherhood is not something that I do. It's who I am.

It's not easy and it frustrates me more often than I care to admit. However, I don't consider it a "job" for which I deserve praise, because it cannot be separated from who I am.

On this (belated) Mother's Day, I salute all who understand that. Those who are mamas in the traditional sense, those who care deeply for kids who aren't biologically their own, those whose babies never made it to earth or just stopped by for a little while, and those who still struggle with the desperate need to be able to receive a flowery card on the second Sunday in May.

Each of you know a very special kind of love. It's the unconditional, irrevocable, to-the-moon-and-back kind. And this Mother's Day, I pray for you. I pray that you keep peace during your struggles, that you give praise during your successes, and that you count every one of the blessings in your life.

I know the lives of my three would not have been possible without a little work on my part, but they make me who I am. They make me a mama.

And I love them without trying - even in tears and goofy faces.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Week 31

Week: Thirty-one
Size: Four Navel Oranges (the most perplexing of all comparisons)
Feeling: Tired, but still good.
Symptoms: No new symptoms other than a constantly moving belly.
Maternity Clothes: Oh, yeah.
Sleep: I totally spoke too soon last week. (Don't look back, it'll jinx me!)
Gender: Still a baby girl.
Movement: She. Is. Crazy.
What I Miss: Sleeping all night!
What I Want: My house to be magically clean. Owen's not much help today. :)
Best Moment this Week: Right now, actually. Although I'm cleaning and preparing for the State Convention with the youth this weekend, I'm at home. I'm snuggled under my big blanket, watching Owen watch Dora, and listening to the light rain fall on this lazy day. I think the bathrooms and vacuuming can wait a few more minutes, don't you?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Week 30

Week: Thirty
Size: Cabbage
Feeling: Awesome!
Symptoms: Being down to 10 weeks freaks me out, but physically I'm fine.
Maternity Clothes: Absolutely. Still wanting to wear more summery stuff.
Sleep: With my first pregnancy, I dreaded the night because sleep was hard. This is not the current case. Bedtime is my favorite!
Gender: Got even more proof of team pink at our 4D ultrasound.
Movement: Always. I think she goes from head up to head down every day.
What I Miss: It's time to say margaritas again. Ready for a poolside cocktail.
What I Want: The marshmallows in my Lucky Charms! I have a sneaky breakfast partner.
Best Moment this Week: Seeing my daughter's face! And, more importantly, knowing she is happy, healthy, and whole. I can't help but remember last Thanksgiving, when I was certain this pregnancy had ended. Now I'm preparing to meet my baby girl in a couple of months. I am incredibly blessed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nora June

Now, isn't my sweet baby daughter the sweetest baby daughter you ever did see?

(I know those of you with daughters may not agree, but work with me here!)

We took a sneak peek at Nora June Bauer in four dimensions this week (don't ask, I still don't get it). With her being our third and having 4D ultrasounds with the first two, we planned on skipping it. However, when a certain grandma caught wind of this plan, it quickly changed.

On a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon, all four grandparents, both big brothers, and a proud mom and dad piled into the dimly lit Baby Views room. We collectively held our breath as the wand hit my belly.

Right away, a secret world unfolded. We saw two feet wrap around a perfectly shaped head. We watched tiny fists, each with five fingers, open and close and wave around. We were assured that Nora is still 100% girl and we exhaled as the technician ticked through a list of healthy markers.

Nora wasn't exactly the best baby model, as she preferred to bury her face into the placenta and cover her features with a stray hand or foot. We did get a couple of good shots, though, and you know I'm going to share them with you. Heck, I even stuck her first pink bow on there!

There you have it, folks. My perfectly healthy, growing daughter. My DAUGHTER. Weird, isn't it? And speaking of growing, Nora is the first Bauer baby to actual measure a few days small! Our ultrasound tech said she would guess 7.5-8 pounds at birth and be really surprised if she made it to 9. That, my friends, is music to my ears. I know that can all change in about 10 weeks, but I'm going to stick with that prediction until my OB tells me otherwise.

I no longer fear the 10-pound baby. :)

Also, if your mind is as curious as mine, you'll want to see the comparison. Lucky for you, I made one right away. Here's the original post for Owen's 4D experience. I didn't know about the blogging six years ago.

As always, click to enlarge. View the cuteness full force.

Hope you guys are having an awesome Thursday. I can't wait until the day I post pictures of her actual sweet face. (Except I should probably start you know... preparing for her arrival. That realization of "in about 10 weeks" just hit me. Yikes!)