Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adjusting



Do you ever feel like you're just running in circles? Meeting yourself coming and going? Herding cats?

Hi. I'm Jessica. Cat Herder extraordinaire. Only that's a lie because I can absolutely assure you there is nothing extraordinary about what I have been doing the past few weeks. Unless keeping all of the children alive, somewhat well fed, and my head above water is an award winner because in that case, pass me my trophy!

No, despite the way it sounds I'm really not looking for pity here (but empathy is always welcome). I am also trying my hardest not to feel sorry for myself, either. Today I just wanted to write and this, my friends, is what I know.

I started back to work last week on my regular part-time schedule of four days a week from 9-2. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? I'll be honest with you. It's awesome. The work I do is enjoyable and it's a long enough day to get a break from the sounds of my household, but not too long that I don't get to spend time with my kiddos in the evening. The part that's different now that my third maternity leave has come to a close is the traveling.

Lord have mercy, the traveling.

If you've ever been a mother, known a mother, or just seen one in the grocery store, you know what I'm saying. You know about the diapers and the formula and the blankets and NO not that blanket, the other one and the milk and the Fruit Puffs and the NO not Fruit Puffs, Fruit YOOPS and the Elmo and the bottles and the OMG where are my keys?! Either you've seen it or you've experienced it, but you know how cat-like tiny humans can be.

You know that in order to get somewhere by 9:00, you make yourself think you have to get there at 8:00 and pray to sweet baby Jesus the last car door closes by 8:45.

You, however, may or may not know about cursing the hay-toting tractor who is taking up both lanes at 9:05.

But I digress. This family of five thing will take some major adjusting now that I have to resume real life and get three kids to three different places before my day can begin. I have to prioritize. I have to strategize. I have to stop hitting the snooze button. Merriam-Webster defines the following:

ad·just
verb
\ə-ˈjəst\

a. to bring to a more satisfactory state: settle, resolve, rectify
b. to make correspondent or conformable : adapt
c. to bring the parts of to a true or more effective relative position

Oh, Merriam, you make it sound so good. Although I'm head over heels in love with the squishy baby girl that has turned my routine on its head, getting to a more satisfactory state sounds heavenly. I don't think this whole parenting thing is going to get any easier, but I am sure hoping I can get better at it.

If not, we are in desperate need of a coffee maker.

PS: Did you click the link up there? The one where I was talking about herding cats? Please do. It explains my struggles.

Happy Wednesday, y'all! I won't imitate a camel, but just know you're *that* much closer to the weekend.


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Monday, August 19, 2013

First Grade Jitters


This morning Nathan didn't need me to walk him into the primary school building.

He made his way from the back of my loaded-down soccer mom mobile clutching his lunchbox and rocking his Ninja Turtles backpack. He waved goodbye to his sidekicks and I made a display by professing my love as he joined a herd of kids on the sidewalk. He glanced back and I'm pretty sure I got a little grin.

At least, I'll just keep telling myself that.

Then he entered the building and stopped short of the kindergarten hall {or from what I hear, he went there and was redirected by a teacher. I'm proud of him for asking for help.} This little dude was destined for the first grade.


I have no idea what happened next. On my end, it was soothing a crying Owen who just wanted to "go first grade, too!" Next was a run through McDonald's for the biggest coffee they had and a round of hash browns for me and my baby boy. Then it was a day of the cakewalk that is caring for two children as I watched the clock slowly tick to three.

Nathan was so excited about his first day when we finally made it through the agonizing first day car line. He was happy to tell me about the locust shell he and his friends found on the playground and the happy face he received for conduct. He was even pumped about homework. He dumped his spelling journal onto the table the second we walked through the door.

As he positioned his pencil to start copying the letters, I could tell something was wrong. Tears started welling up in his big brown eyes and he looked everywhere but at me. I asked him what was wrong and to my surprise, he told me.

"First grade is really different than kindergarten. I like it, but I don't know what I'm doing there. I don't know if the work is going to be too hard."

Cue the parental heartbreak, am I right?!

Change is tough. I hate to tell the poor kid that particular facet of life doesn't get any easier. But the funny thing about change is that it's constant. Nothing ever stays the same and often, change is for the better. I tried my hardest to explain this to my son. I know he will love this school year, and likely every one after, but it's hard to give up a yearlong routine for a completely new one. He will figure it out on his own. I just have to let him.

After sharing some chips and a little afternoon TV with his brother, Nathan sniffled a little and found his way next to me in the big chair. He wanted to let me know he was feeling better and ready to give first grade another go. He told me that today was just a practice day and he knows it'll be awesome. That he wants the work to be hard so his brain can grow and he can know so many new things. Once I saw that he calmed down and started to change his tune, I showed him this side-by-side:


He loved seeing how much he has grown in a year! From those never-ending legs to the toothless grin, Nathan is a far cry from the baby I shipped off to kindergarten last August. As I look at that little guy on the left, I remember the fear I saw in his eyes on his first day. I slipped out of the classroom before it got to me and I worried from the moment I left to the moment I returned. He was still shaky that afternoon, too. Nervous about losing his name tag and remembering to pick up after tubs. It was only a matter of days before that stress melted away and he slipped into the habit of a school day.

And I know the same will be true this year, but he has to realize that himself. As his parent, I simply have to let him.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guest Blogging: My Seeds


Today I'm guest blogging for the Arkansas Women Bloggers about two of my favorite subjects: my garden and my babies.

Every month, this fabulous group of gals picks a topic for guest submissions. When I noticed August's theme was Grow Where You Are Planted, I knew it was meant for me. Though my initial thoughts revolved around coming back to the slow-paced life I was raised in, I switched gears when inspiration struck.

Per usual, inspiration came in the form of three little faces.

As I thought about the precious seeds I've watered and tended to so carefully, I've come to realize this isn't all the growing they will do. I pray daily that when the wind sweeps them away from the comforts of home, they continue to spread their roots and grow. Not necessarily where they are planted, but in a place they're happy, warm, and free.

Want to read more? Why don't you hop on over and check it out?

Just click HERE.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Good Day


{Do you get tired of seeing this face? Good. Me neither.}

It's been a good day at the Bauer house. In fact, probably the best day since becoming a temporary SAHM of three.

SAHM = Stay At Home Mom.
Fancy, right?

That's a rather bold claim to make and I'm sure I just jinxed it all; however, the clock reads 3:27, so I'm calling it. This day has been awesome. Since Nora arrived I've written posts like this and this that highlight in detail just how overwhelming it gets being home all day with these kids. Now it's time to document the easy.

Owen is fast asleep {a nap he took willingly after reading three books and kissing me right on the lips}. Nora is awake and content in her swing. She is often one of those things in her swing, but rarely both at the same time. Nathan is playing a Spiderman video game and was completely agreeable when I gave him the five-minute warning.

I don't know what's in the air today, but I like it! Here are a few more things that are good about today:

  • After Nora's last bottle, I laid with her on the big squishy bed in my room and snapped a few photos of those wide-awake baby blues.
  • I am wearing blue jeans. I'm talking button closure and zip fly, y'all. It may not be the size I was in, but it's a good two sizes smaller than after my first two pregnancies. A win in my book.
  • The yelling today has been at a bare minimum, from the rowdy boys and from the overworked mom. There has been noise, but the nice kind. I can deal with that.
  • Not only am I wearing jeans, I'm wearing the same shirt I put on this morning. You know what that means, right? I've yet to wipe spit-up from anything.
  • My mom brought lunch!
  • I stepped outside with Nora earlier and the weather is simply delightful. My phone tells me it's 84 degrees on August 14 in southern Arkansas. I'll take it!

Funny how just days before I have to turn in my SAHM badge and get back into the real world of a work routine, I decide I never want to leave. I'm doing my best to cherish these quick weeks together, but days like this will make going back a little harder.


I know there will be temper tantrums, spit-up shirts, turned-over toy boxes, and lots of crying to make up for it, but I also know I'll still miss it like crazy. Such is life. :)

What's good in your world today?

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Watermelon Review


What do you get when you mix a heat index of 111, three melting children, and all the cold, juicy watermelon you can eat?

Answer: Surprisingly, a good time.

Yes, it was that time again, y'all. The time when people from across Arkansas and beyond visit my favorite corner of the state to participate in typical festival fun (re: unnecessary craft purchases paired with unnecessary amounts of funnel cake), but with a little seed spitting mixed in. Despite the fact that every year it's a million degrees and every year I make it a point to let everyone know about it, I LOVE the Watermelon Festival.

It's not only a great way to celebrate one of the most delectable fruits to grace my table, my garden, and the planet in general, it's a little slice of my raising. It is an enormous part of my hometown and my childhood. {And you better believe I have an impressive T-shirt collection.}

It's just part of that slow, small-town feeling I live for. Life moves slower around here and I wouldn't have it any other way. The slower the pace, the more time you have to stop and enjoy it - triple-digit heat and all. Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for, a photo review of this year's melon fest:

Although the lemonade tasted just as sweet and the face painting options haven't changed since 1992, one never-before-seen highlight was Miss Nora June. Baby's first festival is a milestone in any little Southerner's life, so you know there was a monogrammed onesie involved. Complete with bow on top:


We hit the festival as the gates opened, but you couldn't tell by the sweat pouring down each of these faces. We had to arrive early on Saturday morning to secure a spot in the watermelon tent to watch one of our favorite cousins compete for Watermelon Idol. The glaring heat chased us there earlier than expected, but it wasn't hard to pass the time:




{Nora was not amused by this watermelon-eating tomfoolery.}

As the eldest Bauer Boy, Nathan naturally got to do more cool festival stuff. There's also the fact that if we loosened the straps on Owen's stroller in the play area, I would have to run. Did I mention that the heat index was a blistering 111? Yeah. That was not going to happen. Thankfully, Owen was content to watch his brother climb through tube mazes, win a sword for popping two balloons in a row with darts, and get a rocking spider tat.

If we can only do one thing at every festival we attend, Nathan would make sure it was the tattoo booth:



While sitting in the "cool" of the melon tent, my mom actually snatched the camera and attempted to capture me sharing this festival fun with my stinky, sweaty little babies. Some results were iffy:




In the above photos, you may observe two things. One: Owen is clearly surfing the Internet on my phone while I pose with his brother. Two: Owen is clearly shooting me with his toy gun while I beg him to pose with me.

Par for the course, pretty much.

Were you able to get out to the Watermelon Festival this year? If not, rest assured that I enjoyed a big slice for you. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nora {One Month}


I will not even apologize for jumping on the month sticker train.
Just look at that squishy goodness!

It's been exactly one month since we met Nora June and what an exhausting, overwhelming, magical month it's been.

This first month has been a whirlwind. Spending my days with three kids has been hectic, but the good so outweighs the bad. Every evening when I look at the little boys piled on the couch next to me and the baby girl cradled in my husband's strong arms, I am in heaven. There is no way I can put into words the love I have for these people. My family is pretty amazing, y'all.

In honor of the first of many milestones, a list. Here are a few of-the-moment facts about my favorite little Bauer girl:

  • Her big, beautiful eyes are my favorites. They're still dark blue for now, but I'm betting they'll deepen to Nathan's light brown.
  • Nora likes to wear bows. And I like to buy bows. In fact, I may have a problem. {I'm officially stripped of my "boy mom" title.}
  • Although she was born petite, I don't think she's going to stay that way. I'm anxious to see what she weighs at her checkup next month, because newborn diapers are on their way out.
  • We've had to switch her formula to Gentlease because this girl is gassy! It's only been a few days, but hopefully we'll see results soon.
  • She goes by many names: Nori, Nori Boo, Little Chicken, Sister, Sis, Nora Borealis, and Big-Eyed Tuna {thanks, Jonathan}.
  • Nora is a spit-up volcano. I even had to pause this post because she erupted. I'm talking change every article of clothes and wipe digested formula from my forehead. My FOREHEAD.
  • I still love this little girl with all my heart despite that last fact.




PS: I can't have a a one-kid photo shoot without another horning in. As I laid Nora down for a diaper change, Owen hopped into the rocker and shouted "MY TURN!" Who would I be to put the camera down? Also, doesn't he look just like my brother here?! Score One for the Montgomery family:


Happy Thursday, gang!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Diaper Stage


"I'll be so glad when the diaper stage of my life is over."

I was mixing formula over the sink the other evening as Jonathan walked behind me cradling his baby girl. I could hear the smile in his voice as he muttered something to her about doing nothing but changing diapers all day long. In response, I caught myself thinking the above statement.

I literally shook my head as if to get the thought as far away as possible and thanked my lucky stars I didn't say it out loud (it totally works that way, right?). With the addition of Baby Nora and the fact that potty training is still on the horizon for Bigger Baby Owen, I change a lot of diapers. The Diaper Genie is emptied twice a week and the collection of Pampers boxes stacked in the nursery closet is impressive.

I still cheer every time Nora poops (healthy poop, healthy baby!), but I swear we change her once an hour. Although Owen's needs are less frequent, lugging that 40-pounder onto the pale pink changing table is a chore.

Today I had them standing in line when the answer to the "Who stinks?" question was a two-parter.

Still, thinking about the end to diaper duty is odd. I obviously have a while to go, seeing as how Nora June has only been filling diapers for four weeks, but in about five more blinks, it'll be done. Knowing that the diaper stacker is fully stocked is just another example of how much my little ones depend on me. That they need my help for their most basic of functions.

However, I know from the six-year-old who has been out of diapers for a while that it doesn't last long.

I'm not just talking poop, either. Soon my little birds will start hopping toward the edge of the nest. They will act on the desire to learn and grow and fly and I'll be right behind them. Nora will hold her own bottle, Owen will eat whole grapes, and Nathan will pick his high school electives (Oy. Somebody stop me).

That pink changing table in Nora's room has seen an abundance of diapers over the past four weeks, but I don't mind. Before long my middle child, whose legs dangle from the edge, will no longer laugh at me from this position. The same position from which I saw him smile for the first time.

Then there's the tiny body who seems lost when taking a turn after her brother. Lying there, her body is free and happy. She kicks her legs and waves her arms and turns her head with ease. Her eyes scan the room as I scramble to close her small diaper. Yes, this one will be here for a few years, but I know how fast those years will fly.

I don't often think about life past diapers because it's such a routine part of my everyday life. It may not be the prettiest part, but it's a reminder of just how precious these little lives are. I want to remember it in every stinky detail because it will be gone far too soon.

This stage of my life may be gross, but it is all right with me.

{All that being said, however, you better believe that the potty train is pulling into the station soon! Have an awesome Tuesday.}

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunday Funday


If you can't beat the heat, jump in the pool.

And if you're going to squeeze into a swimsuit at four weeks postpartum, make sure you do it in the privacy of your parents' backyard. :) I kid, I kid! Although there's no photographic evidence, it did happen and it was awesome. I felt like a semi-normal human who could actually see her toes while sunning on a raft. Priceless. The Bauer kiddos had a blast, too, splashing around, snoozing on the veranda, and using their mama for squirt gun target practice. There were happy faces all around:


This one just loves to show that enormous gap in his mouth.


This one would barely hold still for a pre-swim cheese.


And this one was particularly well-behaved. :)

Those have got to be the three most adorable faces I've seen all day, am I right? As I said, I finally got to join family swim this weekend so the camera pretty much stayed on the porch. However, I was able to catch a few rounds of Ring Around the Rosie before I bravely stepped into the cool water. During our fun day in the August heat, we all felt like Owen looked in the last frame:




I sincerely hope your weekend was awesome and your Monday hasn't been half-bad. 'Til next time!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gamers


On quiet afternoons while Nora's taking a break from the crying/eating/spitting/pooping routine, I usually let Nathan indulge in a little video gaming.

Whether it's Harry Potter practicing his defense against the dark arts or Luke Skywalker... doing whatever Luke Skywalker does, Nathan is actually pretty good. This is with no help from me. At all.


He doesn't usually fire up the old console until after I've played the chase-Owen-through-the-house-until-he-surrenders-to-nap game, but thanks to much begging on his part, little brother got a turn today. He lined his rocking chair even with his brother, grabbed a controller and set to work. It was on.

Today the Bauer Brothers took a trip on the Hogwarts Express. Nathan naturally played the part of the bespectacled hero and Owen was Ron, his red-headed BFF. The two cast spells on the bullies in the Great Hall, raced past spiders in the Forbidden Forest, and defeated Professor Umbridge by somehow activating the Floo Network (like I said, I just watch).


I stifled a giggle as I watched the pair in action. Nathan's tongue hung from his face in serious focus and Owen constantly glanced from the screen to his hands to ensure every button pushed was the right one. It was hilarious to watch those little fingers work those big XBox controllers.


Too bad Owen's wasn't plugged in. :)

If there's one thing Nathan has mastered, it's being a big brother, and that particular move was a classic. Nathan will do whatever it takes to appease Owen, whether it's a destroyed Lego house or a stolen Hot Wheels. He (for the most part) doesn't make a big deal out of changing his plans to prevent an otherwise inevitable tantrum. He's chock-full of the necessary patience for serving as the oldest sibling. This was just another shining example.

And this way he didn't screw up his game.

Smart kid.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Survival Mode


This, my friends, is the face of parenting. Yikes.

If you've ever been okay with the smell of spit-up, sought out a dirty diaper by show of hands, or threatened to enforce a blanket timeout because of NOISE, then you know.

{At least I hope you know, or else this post will make me sound real crazy.}

You know exactly what I mean when I say I am in hardcore survival mode. School's a long three weeks away, daycare is closed for the summer, and I'm knee-deep in maternity leave with a newborn + two.

When planning a maternity leave, I always reminisce about my first. Twelve divine weeks of naps, reality TV, and the quietest baby ever. Little Nathan and I bonded during that time, but those three months of freedom also served as a break. A time to unwind, recover, and enjoy this amazing new life.

I napped as often as I could, but that every-three-hour thing can wear on a girl, am I right? I wouldn't shower until Jonathan got home because... well, baby! I had no energy to keep the house clean or the laundry done. During my first days on mama patrol, I was spent.

I had no idea.

Fast forward six years and oh, how the times have changed. If I don't do laundry, the smells of formula (digested and undigested) will fill my home and punch anyone who enters right in the face. If I don't do dishes, the bottles, fruit cups, ketchup-stained plates, and 48.9 million cereal bowls will usurp my kitchen and take control. If I don't tidy up continuously, the toys will cover the carpet and we will all have stubbed toes.

And nobody likes stubbed toes.

I don't know where I'm going with this, but I think that's driving the point home. I'm tired. My shirts are covered in projectile spit-up and my shoulder is covered by a squirmy baby girl. My ears are filled with demands for milk, snacks, and attention and my mouth is full of reasons I can't help. My brain is working overtime to remember last feedings and how long Owen's been "napping" in his room.

I have gone into pure survival mode. It doesn't matter if the kids are still wearing pajamas at dinner. I'm set on accomplishing the basic tasks each day and working toward surviving each other by bedtime.

My daily objectives are as follows:
  1. that all three kids eat
  2. that none of them smell too bad
  3. that I maintain enough sanity to meet those needs.
If I can accomplish those three things, maybe with some laundry, dishes, and the occasional shower thrown in, it was a good day.

PS: To the stay-at-home mamas out there, God bless you in all your infinite wisdom. I'm not saying I couldn't do it. I'm not even saying I wouldn't love to do it. I'm just saying it would take a little more coffee, a lot more patience, and a much bigger square of personal space in the evenings.

PSS: I really do like my kids. I promise. :)

Happy Thursday, y'all!