Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seventh Splash

It appears in the afterglow that followed my first double birthday week, I have yet to post about Nathan's big bash.

Let's fix that, shall we?

Nathan has known for months he wanted a water park party. Easy enough! Despite the fact that this was an on-location party, we still needed a theme. Because everything is awesome around our house, The Lego Movie was the obvious answer. We snagged invitations, sent them to his buds, and waited for the day to arrive. We grabbed some chips, some Oreos, and ordered one delicious Lego cake, and that was it. Once we made it to the water park in a car loaded with babies, sunscreen, and beach towels, we greeted our guests and dove in.

Owen went down the little slide by himself forty-seven times, Nora maintained her Grumpy Cat expression throughout the merriment, and Nathan learned seven is the age for facing fears. With very little encouragement from a couple older friends, he made the trek up the concrete mountain to take his first trip down the big slide.

This reserved little kid surprised me with this bold move and I beamed as I watched his body slip into the water, arms crossed on chest. He popped up, gasping and smiling. I could tell he couldn't believe himself, either. He repeated this over and over, and only paused for presents and cakes {priorities}. However, as the party was drawing to an end, he caught a nose full of water and a hard time bouncing back. I figured we'd call it a day and pack it up at that point, but he surprised me once again and got right back on that proverbial horse:

Now that the pink and green streamers have {finally} been removed, the new toys have new homes, and the leftover cake has been eaten, we're back to normal. One exciting post-birthday week twist is that Nathan has learned the value of a dollar. Well, lots of dollars. This year he received an unexpected amount of monetary gifts, and he was quick to cash in.

After adding this birthday bounty to money saved from perfect report cards, he had enough to buy something he's wanted {and we have turned down} for a long time - a Nintendo DS. Not only did this kid buy the DS and a super hero game, he had $13 left to put back in his piggy bank. I've never seen Nathan so proud to have a new toy, and it makes me think we taught him something. He's already looking forward to using second-grade report cards to buy another game.

... looks like we're off the hook?

Hope you have had a wonderful week, my friends! Be good to each other. Now I'm off to revel in the fact that I'm not throwing a party this weekend and continue to convince Owen that his birthday is in March.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Birthday Letter

{I am attempting to write a letter a year to each of my kids. I think it should be stated now that although Nathan has the ability to read this, he hasn't. All in good time, my friends. Find a past letter to Nathan here.}

Dear Nathan,

As I sit here at work, watching you twiddle your thumbs and count paperclips, I can't help but think about something you said the other day. You told me you were halfway to the teens. As much as I'd like to shove that thought out of my head, it makes me realize just how long you've been around. Believe me, I know seven is barely the beginning, but you're a far cry from that bitty baby in preemie clothes.

Seven years ago, we didn't know when you were going to come home from the hospital. Granted, your medical issues were a cinch compared to babies who spend the first months and years of their lives in sterile rooms, but this was new. And I was scared. Honestly, I was just as scared about taking you home. The nurses would hand you over and it was on me. It was my job to turn this pink little lump into a model citizen. My job to keep you safe. I had to know the right amount of formula and the signs of illness, to block all the outlets, and to watch you sleep. My job to keep you happy. I had to toe the line between friend and mother, let you eat Doritos for breakfast, and push you on the swing for hours. My job to help you succeed. I am supposed to help you with homework, fill out your college applications, pray during your job interviews, and support you when you fail.

None of this was on the discharge papers.

I remember staring at you in your car seat as I rode in the back next to you {naturally}. We unbuckled you, carried you past the blue balloons and gently placed your seat on the living room floor. In that moment, I just looked at you. What now?

I'm obviously a fan of reminiscing, but there's a point to this, I promise. Seven years later, I'm here again. I am terrified. A couple siblings and a hundred mistakes later, I am more confident in my ability as a mother, but the rate you're growing scares me. Second-grade isn't middle school, it isn't high school, and it isn't even the real world, but it's far from helpless. You have turned into an independent, compassionate, intelligent young man, and I am so proud of the success this has brought you.

However, the world is not always a good place, and you are going to learn that whether or not I keep you under my wing. It's hard, it's scary, and it's discouraging, but there is light. I have the utmost confidence you can find it, too. Unfortunately, there may be times when all you see is darkness, no matter how hard you look. This is when you have to muster the strength to become your own light. Since the day I looked into your golden eyes for the first time, I've known it's there. It shines like nothing I've ever seen.

Nathan, you are full of so much potential, and so much goodness, and you are ready for whatever crosses your path. Just because it scares me, know that I don't doubt you for a second. You are going to do amazing, incredible things. You are going to stumble and fall. And I am going to love you {and worry about you} every step of the way.

Good thing the real world is miles away, right? For now, why don't we just work on adding two-digit numbers, sleeping past 7:30 on weekends, and finally touching your toes to the moon. The world is yours, Nathan, get ready to take it.

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations."
Isaiah 42:6

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Nora {Twelve Months}

We have reached the end, my friends.

The last sticker of the pack was removed from its backing, stuck on a baby, and photographed. It's hard to believe that scrawny little six-pound baby doll I once propped into the white rocker has grown into the gorgeous full-size doll you see above. It seems to be the same with every child, and it probably is the same with every mother, but it's a hard feeling to fight. I feel like I heard her cry for the first time yesterday, but sometimes I struggle to remember a time before her. She is wrapped around both brothers' fingers, the apple of her Daddy's eye, and a light in my life that warms me head to toe.

{yes, even when she's making that face. mostly.}

Today we wish Nora a happy first birthday and, as Owen put it, watch her graduate from little baby to giant baby. Over the past twelve months, I have documented first smiles, first teeth, first tastes of food, and first physical altercations. To close out the first year of Nora June's life, I figure we better continue with the regularly scheduled programming:

  • She may only have four teeth, but this girl can eat. Gone are the days of veggies in the processor, and now we just make sure her food doesn't have sharp edges. This week alone she's enjoyed her first quesadilla, bowl of cereal, and potato chip. The last one was a lesson in leaving food on the floor, but what are you going to do?

  • On the same line, a few days ago we ran out of formula. Since her birthday was coming, and formula is fashioned from powdered gold, we decided to switch to milk. After a few shocked shudders, Nora got used to the cold and drained her bottle like a champ. Yes, I said bottle. Yes, this time around is going to be just as hard as last time. There's something about taking a baby's bottle away that just gets to me. But I digress.

  • Nora is not technically crawling yet, but she will get where she's going. She can scoot across a room in seconds, and sometimes fall into an army crawl/scoot hybrid. She's even quicker if there's a desired toy {or a chip} across a room. She's also learned it's easier to barrel roll to her destination. I imagine crawling will come soon, but she is capable for now. Those chunky arms and legs are getting stronger, and she is progressing physically a little each day.

  • This baby girl is a Flirt {capitalization necessary}. Her daddy says she gets it from her mama, but I don't know. She makes the best eyes through the crib railing every morning, and the squeals for her daddy are beyond compare. Those bright blue eyes tell every thought she's thinking. She'll stretch out her arm during church to hold hands with whomever is behind her, and she'll fire up a game of peek-a-boo with anyone who notices she covered her eyes. Attention suits Nora just fine.

  • The vocabulary is still on a roll for Nora. She doesn't have a huge collection of actual words, but she knows exactly what she's saying. Da Da has been added to the list this month, and there is zero doubt who she is talking about. She's also at the stage where she can understand more than she can say. She'll follow simple commands {good puppy} and is a good listener, especially when compared to her brothers.

  • Just because she's quick with kisses and high fives doesn't mean Nora is always sweet. When I asked Jonathan what to include for this update, his first inclination was sass. That temper flares up fast when she doesn't get her way {also no clue where she got this one}. Maybe Owen is playing with a toy she wants, or the snuggles last a bit too long, or someone is eating without her, and it begins. She's one of those kids whose face completely changes color with anger and she Hulks out. Funny how babies become tiny people, isn't it?

  • The sticker photos have come to a close. I did ask Nathan if I could turn Nora's eight-month sticker into an 84 {he said no}. Despite the fact that my stickers have run out, I'm sure you'll hear all about her progress as she transitions out of babyhood. However, I think it's time to review. Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for {although, maybe it's just me}, Nora June in Twelve Months:

    Just look at that, friends. Take in the squish. Notice her move from a little blob I stuffed in the corner of the chair to looking like she'll jump out at any minute. From a peanut head dwarfed by her headbands to a great, big beautiful face. From dark blue eyes we were unsure would stay to crystal clear baby blues that can melt any heart. She's grown up to be a funny, gorgeous, sweet little baby, and I can't wait to see what the next year holds.

    Happy Birthday, Baby Nora!

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    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Nathan: Age 7

    Seven years ago on a hot July morning, I waited patiently in all my pregnant glory for lunch.

    I wasn't due until August, but certain surprises led to skipping that cheeseburger. Now, seven years later, the little baby who turned me into a mama has grown up to be the kid pictured. Nathan is one amazing human being. I'd like to take a pinch of credit for it, but I'm pretty sure he just came like that. He loves as hard as he worries about others, he's dedicated, he's determined, and he's 100% who he wants to be. He's generous, he's wise, he's talented, he's selfless, and he's himself. Nathan is the kind of person who lets you know there is still pure good left in the world. There is something special behind those brown eyes, and I'm honored to get to watch it unveil.

    Happy Birthday to my baby son, born on 07-07-07, and seven years old today. In honor of his big day, I let him sit in the hot seat for a birthday interview. Enjoy his answers today {age six answers here for comparison}, and then check back for more birthday week fun! Happy Monday, y'all.

    Birthday Interview: 20 Questions
    1. What is your name and how old are you?
      My name is Nathan and I'm seven.

    2. What is your favorite thing to do?
      Play on Dad's phone, and hug and kiss my family.

    3. What do you want to be when you grow up?
      A principal because principals can rule the school.

    4. What is your favorite food?
      Chocolate and quesadillas.

    5. What is your favorite TV show?
      Spongebob and Ninja Turtles.

    6. Who do you like to spend time with?
      My family because it makes me feel like I'm not alone.

    7. What do you do really well?
      I'm really good at doing school work.

    8. What makes you laugh?
      When someone tickles me, when my baby brother makes funny faces, and when Nora dances or spits.

    9. What is the best time of the day?
      Daytime because you get to play outside.

    10. What's your favorite thing to wear?
      T-shirts and flip flops and shorts.

    11. What are you afraid of?

    12. Who is your best friend?
      Karly, Laney, Tyler, Owen and Nora.

    13. What's the best thing about your little brother?
    14. He always does funny stuff like copies other people and talks in hilarious voices.

    15. What's the best thing about your little sister?
    16. She loves when I play peek-a-boo. I taught her that, you know.

    17. What do you like to do with your parents?
      Spend time with them, play video games with them, and snuggle all the time.

    18. What do you love to learn about?
      Math, it's just fun to add and subtract numbers.

    19. Where do you like to go?
      Chuck E. Cheese's because there's lots of games and a big playground and PIZZA.

    20. What is your favorite book?
      I like chapter books like Animorphs, Magic Tree House, and Horrible Henry.

    21. What is your favorite movie?
      The Lego Movie.

    22. If you had one wish, what would it be?
      That my mom and dad would let me do everything I want to do, like stay up until 11:00.

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    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    One Sweet Party


    Nora discovered sugar this weekend, and life was sweet.

    This baby girl has brought us so much sweetness over the past year, we felt it fitting for her birthday party to be watermelon themed. Thanks to our wonderful family {and practically family} members, the celebration was a major success. Nora is one amazing addition to our family, and I loved seeing everyone show her that. Despite being completely exhausted by the end of the day, she was a fairly happy camper the entire time. From learning how to open presents to experiencing her first sugar rush, Nora was a natural center of attention.

    Her actual birthday isn't until Tuesday, so the promised monthly sticky photo and one-year update is still on its way; however, I thought I'd pop in this evening with some party highlights and plenty of baby-covered-in-cake photos. I think we ought to go in order, so we're starting with some of the pre-Nora food:

    Pinterest and I had a serious working relationship with this party {meaning other people thought of it and I copied}. I was surprised at how much of the theme I could work into the food, aside from the obvious. We had the most delicious zesty watermelon salsa {recipe here}, frozen watermelon on a stick {a complete hit}, watermelon balls, sour watermelon candy, and little watermelon number ones. There was also a platter of Hawaiian ham sandwiches to counter everything, as well as raisins masquerading as watermelon seeds and green grapes as baby watermelons. We even washed it down with water, hold the melon. The amount of leftovers was surprisingly scarce this time around, but the birthday girl did not approve of every dish. She likes watermelon, but apparently not frozen, nor on a stick:

    As for party decor, pink was the goal. I could have done traditional watermelon and stuck to reds and greens, but this was my first girly party, and the pink kept coming. Polka dots also worked their way in, from tableware to balloons. It all came together adorably, but I think the best decoration was the one twelve months in the making. I didn't just slap a sticker on my baby each month so I could post it here, I wanted to have a banner that showed her growth. I was very proud of the way it turned out, and the name banner my SIL made tied it all together:

    The cake was created by a local woman who has done wonderful work for us in the past, and she set the bar even higher. We wanted a simple cake that looked like a watermelon slice, with a smaller piece to serve as the smash cake. And she delivered. Not only did the party guests mumble approval through big bites, Nora June decided to dive in headfirst. Of course, she didn't really know what cake was, so it took some encouraging. Once she got a taste for sugar, however, she had a one-track mind.

    Once removed from the icing-covered highchair, Nora was quickly hosed off in the bath and squeaky clean for the remainder of the party. She was happy to snuggle with a few of her guests, look longingly at the leftover cake, and play with her collection of new toys. I'm sure Nora will still love to play monster trucks, but now she has the option of tea parties with baby dolls, too. She's even happy to share with her brothers:

    To get perfectly mushy for just a moment, this little girl is sunshine in my life I didn't know I was missing. Thank you so much to everyone who was happy to share in my joy as we celebrated a year of hanging out with her. Nora is one outstanding little lady and as it turns out, having a daughter is pretty darn cool. This party was an incredible way to show our love for the sweetest melon in the patch:

    {If you like Nora's headband, you're in luck! Click here and then enter to win one. Giveaway closes tomorrow night.}

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    Saturday, July 5, 2014


    This little firecracker celebrated her last first holiday in style, y'all.

    The Bauer Bunch spent the first half of their Independence Day decking the halls in shades of pink and green and preparing as many watermelon dishes as creativity {and Pinterest} allowed. Today is my sweet baby's first birthday party, but that doesn't mean we forgot to let freedom ring last night. Once the finishing touches were placed and my kitchen was the pinkest it has ever been, we packed our swimsuits, bug spray, and a collection of beverages, and set our sights on my parents' house. First order of business was obviously to sit Nora in the grass and take pictures of her on her first Fourth of July:

    {headband from here // use code BIRTHDAYWEEK for $2.00 off any order}

    Second order of business was making a splash! Both boys took swimming lessons this year, but only one decided to comply with the teacher {bet you can't guess which one}. However, while we were away in Florida, Owen's grandparents convinced him to wear floaties and that opened a new world. His determined face was set in stone as he paddled across the shallow end and refused any help. He loved bouncing his whole head under, and he jumped from the side with a request of "don't touch me." Among his jump repertoire: cannon ball, pizza ball, and sausage ball:

    It's a given Nathan was the pro at swim lessons, right? It was his third year to go, and I don't know if there's much more he can learn. He spent most of the afternoon darting across the deep end, working on his dive, and letting his Daddy push him as deep as possible. I thought he would be afraid after the first attempt to swim in the depths, but he popped up smiling. These little fish take after their mama:

    However, it seems they got their Daddy's genes when it comes to fireworks {sorry to sell you out, Jonathan}. After a delicious picnic dinner of burgers and fixings, both boys were pumped as we waited for night to fall. When the time was right, the four of us {we left Nora sleeping} loaded into the grandparents' golf cart and made our way to the church in town that hosts a spectacular display every Fourth. Owen's eyes started to widen and the grip around my hand was tight as we parked and walked through the dark field to find a spot. His mouth kept saying he was excited, but his telltale movements said otherwise. After a few minutes, Jonathan located the glow stick stand and both boys relaxed:

    Nana and Grampa joined us, but not for long. Four hands were glued to ears as the booms filled the air, and Owen scrambled into his Daddy's chest. He watched for about 20 seconds, and then the sobs came. His grandparents were nice enough to walk him back, and Nathan watched in amazement as light filled the sky. This year's display was awesome, and I'm happy Nathan let his love of beautiful things outweigh his fear of loud noises:

    Throughout the display, I kept hearing, "This is AWESOME! Did you SEE that?! Keep it coming!" Also, there were a few instances of, "I miss Owen." Poor guy. I think last year was the first time Nathan stayed for the whole thing, so I bet his little brother will get there eventually.

    As of right now, the small ones are eating Fruit Loops, the big one is still asleep, and I'm enjoying my coffee before the birthday bash begins. If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen a sneak peek or two, but be sure and check back here for the full report. I'm already taking bets on whether she'll eat most or all of the smash cake. Happy Saturday!

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    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

    Paradise Rented

    {Nathan walked by while I was making this photo and called me rude. Still worth it.}

    For six days and five nights, my name was Jessica.

    The only time I heard the word "mama" was when it was shouted toward the dozens of women on the beach, dragging overflowing toy bags, removing sand from mouths, and chasing small people into the ocean. It was a good week, my friends.

    Unfortunately you can only rent a slot of paradise for so long, so our parents-only trip to Destin, Florida has come and gone. All that's left are some pretty fantastic memories. I spent mornings on the beach and evenings cracking crab legs. I read two books beneath a wide umbrella {Eleanor and Park and Divergent}, I kept my cooler filled, and I napped in a room with an ocean view. This old couple took the week nice and easy, so instead of boring you with a play-by-play, I thought I'd drop by with a few pictures and a list of the things I learned on holiday:
  • You can take a ten-hour drive that crosses four states and only take two potty breaks.
  • Many parents felt the need to be overly apologetic if we got whacked by an errant pool noodle, or a stray kid cut in front of us. Needless to say, we gave lots of reassurance and felt weird on the other side.
  • I missed my kids more than I thought I did when I saw little pink swimsuits waddling around or boys dragging boogie boards and searching for sea shells. Then one by one, the children around me slowly fell apart with the rising sun, and I decided I was okay.
  • You can fit everything you need for a morning at the beach in one bag.
  • Face Time isn't good enough. I assumed turning the camera around so the boys could see the waves splash upon the shore would satisfy their longing. Wrong. "I want to be in the beach, mama!"
  • You can order the exact same meal at four different restaurants four times in a row without getting tired of it. This is not an exaggeration. Also, crab legs for days.
  • Vacations have the ability to be completely relaxing, and you can actually return home from them more energized than when you left. Who knew?!

  • Getting back into the swing of things is easier said than done. I was thrilled to run into my parents' house Saturday and stretch my arms around all three kids, but zero to sixty takes adjustment. We spent Sunday doing absolutely nothing with a side of staring at laundry and counting weeds; however, we're getting there. I've found the bottom of my hamper, all suitcases are empty, and I think I've gotten my kids de-programmed {wink and smile here}.

    All I have to do is close my eyes and I'm back. I can smell the salt in the air, feel the cool water, and revel in the idea of having nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no one to change.

    Then I'm snapped back by the sound of two boys and one firetruck and the smell of an overripe Nora. Although the former scenario seems like a much nicer version of paradise, the latter is just another day in mine. I was thankful to rent a piece of Florida for a while, but I'm happy to get back to the slice of life that belongs to me. Sleepy babies, sand toys, and all.

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