Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Five

Today, I am happy.

Despite a grouchy morning, Nathan made it to school long before the bell. My house was clean and laundry was half done by 9:30. Owen has been quiet, still, and interested more in reading books than ransacking his room. Nora has been amazing, and the only sounds I hear right now are the dryer's gentle hum and the vanilla-flavored goodness pouring through the spout of my coffee maker. I don't want to brag about the sheer bliss of this very moment in my life, but I'd be a fool to vent my problems and not count my blessings. Therefore, I thought I'd link up with Darci from over at The Good Life Blog for a little Five on Friday, Reasons I'm Happy Edition.

I apologize for the quality and also my recurring "ah, BOO."
The giggles are worth it.

ONE: Nora has been a doll today. She woke up happy and didn't even mind a mid-bottle interruption to deal with a stinky pull up. Everything has been hilarious to her and her laughter has had us in stitches. Just looking into her eyes can set it off and the way her head falls backward and the sound grows from her round belly is amazing. Instead of going into detail about the way my daughter laughs, click the video above and see it for yourself. My favorite part is when Owen offers to take his waywee {blanket} and make her laugh. She gives a nice look of, "He's gonna do what now?!"

TWO: Today is the last day of January and I, for one, am thrilled. January is my least favorite month, with February running a close second. I love starting a fresh new year and clearing out the troubles, clutter, and old receipts from the past 12 months, but it is cold. It is bleak and gray and dreary and the exact opposite of the sunny summer days I live for. Some days are 60 degrees, and others are 13. Arkansas winter can be such a tease! However, with tomorrow's flip of the calendar we will be one month closer to honeysuckle blooming in the backyard, tomato plants towering in the garden, and a limitless supply of sun on my face. I guess I'll settle for Valentine's plans and seed catalogs until then. :)

This photo is both misleading and accurate. Read on to see why.
PS: He is not very good with a duck call.

THREE: Owen isn't feeling well these days. From the flu that started at Christmas to various colds and bugs, we just can't keep it away. Now there's RSV going around and I pray it skips us. Now, I know it's rude to capitalize on illness, but the snuggles I've gotten today have been amazing. Plus {this is a big plus}, as I started this post, Owen had just fallen asleep in my bed. I heard him start a coughing fit and then the sound of little feet drew closer. Sighing externally and screaming internally, I knew what a short nap would mean later. He hasn't been doing great in his own bed lately, but I thew the option out there. He agreed through his sniffles, let me carry him into his room, and he is snoozing away.

This is just a mere sample of the treasure trove of old pictures my BFF and I found this weekend.
Details: 1996 Garage Party (oh yeah)

FOUR: Last weekend I broke my personal best for longest solo road trip. It wasn't long, just a 4.5 hour drive deep in the heart of Texas, but I was proud. Even better than successful navigation was landing at my best friend's doorstep. This girl and I have been together for almost 23 years. That is a long time for a friendship to grow and evolve and I am pleased to say it's even better with time. I have enjoyed my life so much more with her in it. Through happiness and battles, it's nice to know she's always in my corner. As for our sleepover, it was full of wine, movies, chicken wings, and old photographs. Yep, that's how we get down. I also got to hang out with her sweet little ladies, as well, and loved every second. Miss you already, Abby.

FIVE: As I finished that last paragraph, I had to take a break. Number Three quickly unraveled as Owen walked into the room to announce wake-up time and dig into his toys. There has been a bit of deviation from Number One, as well. When I realized Owen wasn't going to be cooperative, it was bottle time for Nora. Once the last drop of formula was gone, this little one let me know that six ounces ain't gonna cut it. The coffee I mentioned is now cold and Owen is now stacking blocks on his angry sister. But you know what? I'm okay. I have had an amazing day and this particular instance is just part of my life. In a few minutes, it will change. The microwave will fix my coffee, Nora will get over herself, and Owen will resume snuggling under my perfectly enormous blanket. Number Five is just a blip on the radar of my fantastic Friday.

I hope you are able to enjoy your Friday just as much, despite all your metaphoric {or literal?} fussy babies.
Have a great weekend, y'all!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bathing Beauty

This little girl of mine takes personal hygiene to extreme levels of cute, doesn't she?

I snapped these last night as Nora's daddy was bathing her in her pretty yellow sink flower. I don't have many bath photos of this one, and you know those rolls have to be captured in their full glory. Eventually she'll start to move around and they'll slowly shrink away, so I need to remember her in full Michelin Man form.

I decided to browse these photos this afternoon and work a little editing magic. I thought they looked sweet in black and white and, as always, I thought immediately of you! "Of COURSE I must share these with my friends," I thought. All I've been doing lately is throwing graphics on the page and not even thinking about my audience {*cough* grandmas} who just want to see these babies. They should be satisfied until at least tomorrow. I also think these would make for a pretty great gallery wall in the guest bathroom. Maybe I can dig up a baby bath shot of each of the Bauer Boys, too.

Alright, enough from me:

You have to know that I couldn't resist searching the albums from years past to see if there were any bath photos. Owen's shot is pretty darn cute, but let's just say the purchase of a new camera and some basic photography education has done me well over the past six years. You're still good-looking Baby Nathan, fuzzy little chicken head and all:

Happy {Throwback} Thursday, y'all! Stay clean. :)

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Challenge

I love words.

I really do. It probably seems like my favorite thing to do with them is snatch the ones dancing in my head and toss them onto the computer screen. There's a lot of truth to that, but I like peeking into other brains, too. I like opening a book and devouring the words one by one. I just don't do it often enough.

{drum roll, please} This brings us to the introduction of the Bauer Bunch Book Challenge.

Beautiful Baby Nora rocked the boat as the third child and I haven't had much time to myself. I have a remedy for that. For the sake of peace, happiness, and everything else that comes with sticking your nose in a book, I want to finish one each month. That's a total of 12 books in one year. I'm sure others' reading goals dwarf that tiny number, but for me, this works.

I'm writing about this for the first time today, but I already have one book under my belt. Many people have been telling me about John Green, so I started with him. And it was a doozie. The Fault in Our Stars is the best book I've read in a while. The voices in this book are real and raw, the story is powerful, and the writing reminds me so much of Salinger. I fell in love with the main characters in the first chapter and I finished it in three reading days {no children were ignored in this process... okay, at least not for long periods of time}. It's still January, but the spine of Book Two is already bent. I'm sticking with Green and reading An Abundance of Katherines. So far, so good!

And wouldn't you know it, the benefits of this challenge appear to stretch beyond me. As I have made an effort to sit still and unplug, the rest of the house has, too. I love The Hunger Games series and Jonathan has seen both movies with me. He's always enjoyed the stories, but had yet to read the books. Well, turns out Jonathan is not going to wait for the third movie to see what Katniss does next.

*This is totally what happens every night.
It is definitely not a staged photo from this afternoon.*

Nathan has been skipping TV time to jump into the pages of the Magic Tree House series. Although the bigger Bauer boy has always been a reader, this journey into chapter books has done something special for him. The other night, as I was lying beside him on his rocket sheets, reading the words and trying to inflect in all the right places, I noticed his attention wandering. He was staring at the adjacent wall, and his mind was far away. I asked if he was tired and ready to stop, and he told me he was listening just fine.

"I was just thinking about the story in my head and drawing my own illustrations."

I am excited about putting this challenge out there and holding myself accountable. I long for the quiet that will come when I get the chance to turn a few pages and slip away for a little while. This is a one small step to getting back to the basics and one giant leap toward finding my calm.

What about you? Have you set a goal to make it through a certain number of books this year? Have you read any good ones lately? Please share your favorites and help me grow my list. Feel free to jump into my challenge, too. Come back and let me know how it's going and I'll be happy to do the same. Here's to a hot cup of coffee, a cozy blanket, and a good book! Have a wonderful Wednesday night, y'all.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Today I Will...

Disclaimer: This is written for me. The "you" refers to both you, the reader, and me, Jessica.
However, if this strikes a chord with you or makes you feel a little better than before you started reading,
then I totally wrote this specifically for you. And I'm glad I could help.

I have been a little overcome by the thoughts rolling around in my brain lately.

I've been thinking about all of life's crap storms that rush in unannounced, completely beyond our control. Not necessarily just in my life, but in the lives of people I love, in the lives of people I don't know, and maybe in your life, too. They bring waves of pain before we've begun to seek shelter. Our power has been stripped away and we are left to clean up the debris, wipe away the tears, and press on through the hands we've been dealt.

I know what you're probably thinking. "Jessica, that is LIFE." It's true, the very meaning {if I may be so bold}, is to carry on with hope for a brighter tomorrow, without even the hint of a promise of waking up. We live, we move forward, we adjust and break and change and grow.

I've been away from this space for a few reasons. One: I have a lot of kids who demand my attention. Two: I don't like to blog for the sake of putting words on the page. I don't like my writing when it's forced and I doubt you would, either. I only want to write when I have something to say. Three: I have lots of things to say, I just don't know how to say them. I started this post a week and a half ago. I wrote a few paragraphs and decided I had no idea where it was going. That's the scary thing about writing, often you have to simply begin to figure out where you will land. As my fingers grace the keyboard and work together to decipher what I'm thinking, I'm giving it a whirl.

I have had a good life. There have been many interruptions to my happiness and battles to fight, but as my 30th birthday draws near, I am proud to say that I am in an amazing place. And I am thankful every day. There are tough times when depression, inadequacy, and self-doubt rear their ugly heads, but I continuously remind myself not to become buried too deep. I have to force one hand above the other until I climb out into a fresh perspective. I have to work to maintain it.

Believe me when I say I am not making a blanket statement that: "Everyone who wants to be happy should just be happy and then they're happy." We both know that's not true. However, there are little choices to make every day that can build. Every person out there has crap in their lives that was not their choice. Most people know what it's like to be let down, or heartbroken, or hurt. For some, the pain is deeper than others, but it's all so real. And none of it is fair. If you are hurting right now, you don't deserve it. You, my friend, deserve a little sunshine in your life. And when a little sunshine is something you can grab onto, don't you dare let it go.

We all have good mornings. Those mornings you wake up and can feel the sunrise from within. {I hope you know what I'm talking about. If not, please disregard me as crazy.} Those mornings you are thankful for the light peeking through the blinds, you are energized from a good night's sleep, and you feel ready to face the day and whatever may come. Stay with that. Keep your joy all day long, and spread it around. On the flip side, if your happiness is something you have to chase, something that darts away at lightning speed, run toward it as fast as you can. You owe it to yourself.

We've all seen the Eleanor Roosevelt quote painted on a canvas or stitched on a sampler: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Although this entire post is an attempt, I don't think I can say it better. There is much in our lives over which we have no control. We must face demons that rise through no fault of our own, but for the times you're presented with a choice, make it count. Make up for all the other crap {record number of craps in a post!} and start the snail's pace journey to rising above. When you are faced with drowning in yesterday's sorrow or reveling in the joy that may come, think about what you want. Every single day could be your last, and you are in charge of how you spend it.

Take control of your happiness, let go of the past, and choose joy.

You may not know where you're going, but at least you're on your way.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

{Semi} Socially Savvy

I recently took a few hours from my hectic life to sit down for lunch and talk shop with a group of my favorite local bloggers.

Shop referring to everything from TV shows and kids to page views and HTML, but that's beside the point. It was just a chance for the Southwest Arkansas Bloggers to get some real, live face time and have the chance to tap into each other's blogging prowess. One of the topics that naturally arose from this sort of conversation was that of social media. What type of post on Facebook works the best? Do you post the same photos to Instagram as you do to Facebook? Why Twitter?

The last question, naturally, was mine. All I knew about Twitter was what my publisher ran into the 2008 newsroom proclaiming as "the next big thing." All of us savvy reporters were to immediately go to this twitter thing, log on, and start tweeting our whereabouts. I did it for a few weeks. I even wrote a blog post about it. Then, I was done. It wasn't until recently that I noticed bloggers touting the site when it comes to spreading stories and reaching readers. I snagged @thebauerbunch when I decided on my new blog name/brand this summer when Life With the Bauer Boys no longer worked, but I wasn't ready to use it. It didn't make much sense. It just seemed like a never-ending stream of consciousness and only the popular were actually involved in conversation, much different than the Facebook world of comments, likes, and back-and-forth. However, with the urging of a head honcho at the state-wide Arkansas Women Bloggers, I jumped in.

Facebook is still my first love and I don't completely "get" Twitter, but it may help if my readers knew I had it. It probably sounds like I'm begging for followers, but I promise I'm not. You can see my buttons over to the right don't include Twitter, so I just wanted to put it out there. It would be just plain rude to deny you the right to follow! Click here or just search for @thebauerbunch if you want to practice your typing skills. Much like Facebook {if you're a fan}, I will notify you of blog posts, I will let you know when something funny happens, and I will give brief life updates when I'm too lazy for a proper post. I will not, however, clog up your feed. My life is not exciting enough for a tweet every five minutes. I also use this as a social media tool for my blog only, not as a personal page. Don't worry about knowing too much about me; however, if you're a reader you know too much already. C'est la vie.

So, check it out, friends. Like up on Facebook if you want, and Instagram, too! I was just as leery of Instagram when it first came out, but man it's fun. I think my kids are cute, though, so if you don't, you should just leave that one alone. One thing I try to do is no repeats on any of these three sites. If you want to see pictures I don't share on Facebook, try Instagram. If you want to hear stories I don't tweet, check out Facebook, and so on and so forth.

Obviously, you are welcome to ignore this post, but for those two or three that read and wish to follow, this one's for you! I'd be interested in what you have to say, too, especially if you have any tips to making this Twitter a fun time. Do you like it? Why is it necessary for you {blogger or not}? I don't know how long it will last, but I'm going to give it a go.

Now I'm off to wrangle my children, pack their bags and mine, and then take our youth group to one of the most fantastic events of the school year. Also, if you happen to be in our fair state's capital on Sunday and are interested, join us for the Mass for Life and/or the March for Life. Click here for more information. I hope you have big plans for the weekend, even if it's just a cup of coffee, a good book, and some quiet time. I'll be back with more stories next week.

Happy Saturday, y'all!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

D{entist} Day

I do not have a picture from the dentist's office to share because I was too busy holding Owen's hands
as tears fell onto the blue plastic chair. Read on for the whole story.

Owen talked all morning about going to the dentist.

"I'm going to let the nice lady brush my teeth," he said. "I'm going to open my mouth really big," he said. "I'm going to get a toy," he said. We had him convinced that his first trip to the bright room full of kid-sized dentist booths would be just as good as a day at Chuck E. Cheese, only cleaner!

The morning of the boys' appointment, my middle child grew even more excited when I told him he would get to skip day care. The three of us, just my boys and me, would spend the entire day together. We were playing hooky, sure, but I don't think a teeth cleaning and an afternoon of watching me work at the office was the best possible way to spend it.

After dropping off baby sister {I try to limit my outings to no more than two at a time. Don't judge me.}, we hit the highway and found the waiting room full of texting mamas, impatient children, and teenagers trying to look cool next to piles of Little Golden Books and preschool artwork. Owen made a beeline for the toy area and started making friends. I began filling out the necessary paperwork for one's first dental checkup and was interrupted every few seconds by the discovery of something cool. If this was what it was like to go to the dentist, every six months was not going to be good enough. Then, just as Owen had cast his fishing rod into a basket full of dinosaurs, the door to the exam room opened and a bouncy blonde called the names of the Bauer Boys. Nathan started her way, but Owen stopped in his tracks and the color drained from his face.

He whispered a tiny, "No. No want to, Mommy," as he dropped his toys and clambered into my lap.

We made the quick decision to let Nathan go first and then I could accompany my little barnacle once the older one was done. It wasn't long before Nathan was X-rayed, flossed, and polished, and I carried my 40-pound baby to the hygienist. He didn't really put up a fight when she asked him to lay down, but simply put his head back, opened his mouth, and let a river of silent tears flow.

Eh. I'll take it. You should see the escape attempts this one makes when he knows his pediatrician is going to check his ears or make him stand on the scale. Heaven forbid.

Once he realized it was going to be okay, he told everyone who would listen all about his big plans for a Jake and the Neverland Pirates birthday party. He sniffled through his explanations of a Jake cake and a Jake pinata and a Jake toy. The "nice lady" wiped his tears and his teeth, and the trauma of it all {which, believe me when I say this, was minimal for Owen} was over. The dentist gave him a high-five, a Batman sticker, and a quick look with that little mirror that I couldn't imagine maneuvering properly in a toddler's mouth.

There was not a cavity discovered in either Bauer boy's head and I ended up having to shuffle them both out of the exam room as they told their life stories to the collection of staff. {No idea where they get that.}

This story, that I wrote in particular detail for some reason, is all to say that I'm pretty proud of those boys of mine. Owen did a phenomenal job for a two-year-old going into the unknown and I think the experience was a good precedent for the next time {just ignore that statement, okay, jinx fairy?}. And Nathan, who has had a few visits to the chair reserved for more than cleaning, is always a little leery. The night before, he whispered in his dad's ear that the X-ray machines make him nervous and he's afraid of getting another filling, but that kid just marched in there like he's been doing it all his life. He sure flashed those pearly whites {or lack thereof} when he was given the all-clear.

I hope your Thursday has remained both cavity-free and dental tantrum-free thus far.
We plan to stay that way ourselves... at least for the next six months. :)

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Good Eats

{Would you guess this little girl figured out how to use a spoon fairly quickly?}

With age comes responsibility, and with six months comes squash.

In keeping with the Bauer Baby tradition, one large-sized, hilariously shaped butternut squash was added to the grocery list last week and mama broke out the ice cube trays. I sat down at the computer to visit the same exact site I clicked through obsessively when I did this for the first time six years ago, and I reminded myself of the oven setting/cook time. {Baby food is the one thing I know how to cook, so sue me if I can't remember to set the oven to 400 degrees.}

Once everything was cooked, processed, and frozen into individual ounce portions, we let Nora take a crack at her first solid food. On the very first try, there were big, wet tears and not-so-happy squeals. She was hungry, she didn't understand what was happening with this weird spoon thing, and formula was the only thing on her brain. We ditched the idea and went for the bottle, with more success once she was satisfied. That bring us to today. Three feedings later, and the kid is a pro. She may not like having the camera in her face every single time, but such milestones must be documented, and also, it is my belief that she is precious:

Note the intense focus.

"Just one cube, mom?!"

I know the last few posts have been centered around the one and only itty bitty teeny weeny {19-pound} Bauer girl, but as it turns out, most everything is new and exciting when you've only been around for a few months. I sure hope you don't mind. If you do, check back tomorrow for a post all about my day with the Bauer Boys. It involved a day at the office and a double trip to the dentist. It was Owen's first time. There may have been a few tears, but no fingers were lost, no cavities were found, and every tooth was cleaned. A success in my book.

Until then, have a wonderful Wednesday night, y'all.
Eat a little butternut squash for me.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Nora {Six Months}

Just as it's been with all of my loving children, I have mixed emotions about the milestone of reaching six months of age.

These six months feel like a blink, yet it's already hard to remember life before her. This is in both a "my heart is bursting with love" sort of way and a "was I ever really sane?" sort of way. However, I can't tell you how glad I am she is here. Her gummy little smile outshines the sun and her squeals and laughter turn any bad day around. She's a pretty good friend of mine, to be quite honest. And that is why I'm here to celebrate her half-birthday {even if it is four days late}.

Six months ago, my daughter greeted the world in a sterile hospital room, and in six more she will get her first bite of birthday cake. It's crazy how much changes in 365 days. Lucky for me {and you, hopefully}, I've been doing a good job of slapping a sticker on this baby girl each month to document these rapid changes. Before we delve into Nora's Fast Facts, let's take a peek backward. My main reason for taking these photographs was to see the physical progress. I'd say the physical progress took place mostly around the middle:

Nora has made some big strides, hasn't she? She doesn't miss a meal and with the newest additions to her diet, I can't wait to see what the next six months brings. Now, if you will humor me with a quick read, I'll let you know what she has been up to in everyone's favorite bullet-point fashion. Enjoy:

  • Nora had her six-month checkup on Friday and weighed in at 19 pounds, 3 ounces - a whole four pounds heavier than last time. The doctor mentioned her weight, but didn't seem concerned. More to love, right? This put her in the 91st percentile for weight, which paired nicely with the 98th percentile for head circumference, but was a stark contrast to the 30th for height. Round is a good adjective.

  • Nora is also checking off milestones in the big girl category. Granted, this one has more to do with me than her, but she's doing great. She has been sleeping in her crib in her own room for about two weeks and she has done an amazing job. We often put her down awake and she snoozes until I wake her up to get her ready to hit the road. {We are really, really lucky in this category.}

  • When you're a Bauer Baby, six months means you finally get to eat real food! I know many mamas start at four months, but she seemed fine with bottles so I stuck with it {read: I'm lazy}. Nora has made it, though, so I cooked up and smashed up a butternut squash and attempted to feed it to her. Let's just say the spoon is a foreign concept. Once food actually entered her mouth, she seemed to like the taste. Look for a photo shoot from a more cooperative baby whenever we reach that point.

  • Nora is in no hurry to go anywhere and I'm okay with that. Despite what The Books tell you and other moms tell you and Web sites tell you and doctors tell you, each baby moves at his or her own pace, and Nora, well she's not exactly moving yet. No rolling, sitting up, or crawling to report at this time. Nathan was the same way and turned out to be an incredible kid, so I'm not worried. She'll get there.

  • Although she's not moving of her own accord yet, Nora does have a new favorite toy! A few weeks ago we took the Jumperoo out of storage. Every day she seems to be jumping a little more and placing more weight on her legs. She's figured out how to make the animals sing their songs and she cracks up every time. It's an exciting process, don't you know. Also, I think her brothers enjoy it just as much as she does.

  • I would like the record to continue to show she is still my blue-eyed baby. Sparkling, clear eyes that light up when anyone gives her the time of day. She loves attention and she will put on a show every time she gets it. Her hair is becoming thicker on top in a way that still makes her look like a chicken, just a fuzzier one. It seems to be blonder, but still has hints of red, too. I don't really know what color hair my sons have/will have, so we'll just call it the classic shade of Bauer. It makes for a cute baby:

Nora June wishes you and yours a stupendous Sunday.
Now get outside and play!

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Owen + Nora

My daughter is six months old as of Wednesday. She had her first taste of real food on Tuesday. She's a whopping 19 pounds since yesterday.

I'm a little behind in photo sharing, but I'll make up for lost time.

I have a big agenda on my plate today, and it starts with wrangling these children out of their pajamas over the course of the next hour and then heading to Hope for a lunch meeting with a group of my favorite ladies, the Southwest Arkansas Bloggers. Before I begin the complicated job of herding cats into blue jeans and hoodies, however, I decided to go ahead and indulge myself in Nora's monthly sticker photo shoot. I mean, she's a whole half now, I must document.

So, I slapped a bow on her head, a 6 on her belly, and let her turn on the charm. Those pictures, however, are for another day {tomorrow, fingers crossed}, complete with an update from your favorite little Bauer girl. Today, I want to share the photos that came after she ripped off the sticker and promptly drooled on it.

Her brother decided he needed to hold her a little bit, and she decided she needed to love on him a whole bunch. Thus, a photo shoot of adorable proportions. Just wanted to pop in, say hello, and melt your heart real quick. I'll be back tomorrow with a full Nora update and hopefully some other words of wisdom that feel like traveling from my brain to my fingertips. I guess we'll see, won't we? Have a happy weekend, y'all!

{Puddle of goo, am I right?!}

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

One Little Word

For the past week I have been narrowing down the one little word I'd like to focus on for the duration of my thirtieth year on this planet.

This is my thirtieth year, y'all. It has to be a good one.

I thought of several great options {accept, organize, trust, listen} and many blogger friends have published some wonderful inspiration, but I just couldn't boil it down. To be perfectly honest, I have had a hard time nailing anything down lately. Since Nora's glorious arrival into our family and the cold, hard realization that three children is greater than two parents, my head hasn't stopped spinning. Some days I fall into bed with a smile on my face; exhausted, but accomplished. Most days, however, I'm just treading water.

My life is a series of unfinished business and frazzled has become my middle name. Everything I do, I do in a frantic, hurried manner. Even if I'm simply relaxing on the couch, my brain is running a mile a minute and overflowing with worries about what will happen when my feet hit the floor. Yesterday, as I struggled to separate trash from toys from Christmas leftovers, make sure the boys ate something other than chips, and keep Nora in a dry diaper, my brain clicked into gear. I know what I need in my life. I knew it the other day when I highlighted my parenting resolutions for the year.

I need calm.

I need to slow down, push the worries aside, let it all go, and be. I need to walk into my bedroom, close the door, drop to my knees, and pray. I need to run my hands through the grass in my backyard and feel the sun on my face. I need to pick my battles with my children and ease off of mean mommy mode. I need to enjoy my life instead of wishing it all away.

This year I will turn 30 years old. I'm not afraid of that {yet}, because age is just a number. What I am afraid of, though, is entering a new season of my life in a such a stumbling, overwhelming manner. I don't want to fall into this new decade, I want to calmly step in. And I don't want to miss a thing.

For those who don't know, one little word is a project I discovered last year when I noticed several online pals choosing a focal word to use for the course of a year. The idea of coming up with goals to better my life through a simple word was an intriguing challenge, so I jumped on board. Last year my word of choice was grow. It was a perfectly fine choice and I think I did well with it. My body grew to accommodate the growth of my family, which resulted in my heart swelling to greater proportions and my faith growing at the same speed. Success!

I'd like to challenge myself a little further this year, though, so I'm spreading this into a series. You'll come along for the ride, won't you? Instead of just spitting it out in January and thinking about it again 365 days later, I'm going to revisit this topic at the end of each month. I will sit down at my computer and describe how these four letters have affected my life and the lives of those around me. I'm going to force myself to keep this in the back of my mind because frankly, I need it desperately.

What about you? What's your one little word? If you're a blogger, I'd love for you to join my challenge and do your best to keep your word front and center. If you're not, I still challenge you to do the same. Take a few minutes today and think about the one little word you'd like to concentrate on this year. Something that will improve your quality of life. Then come back and share it with me, you hear?

I'm ready for you 2014, let's take a few deep breaths and let's calm down.

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