Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friday Night Lights

{No, our shirts don't feature profanity, I just didn't want to blast our hometown across the Internet.
Go, Blank Shapes!}

As a former Captain of the Band Nerds, my Friday nights have always meant football.

Maybe not in the sense that I know exactly when a two-point conversion is necessary, but more in a sing louder than the cheerleaders and don't get nachos on your spandex sort of way. Still, I know enough to get by and I dig it. I love watching the Arkansas Razorbacks, but my heart will always be with high school football.

Once we lugged our orange crew from the car to the stadium and up the narrow bleacher steps, my bunch settled in for our first game as a family of five. Owen was characteristically gun shy {he acts braver than he is} and he fought for lap space when the boys burst through their homemade sign and onto the field. Once he got over the even more terrifying balloon release, he had fun. I mean, there were dudes running into each other. Favorite!

{No pictures at the game, but there are always family photo outtakes. Bright sun is not a friend.}

Nathan's evening can be summed up in a quote: "I'm just here for the food." He muttered this as we were crossing the schoolyard and following the sea of orange. He's honest, and I'm on his side. The two boxes of popcorn and gooey order of nachos made Nathan's night, as did spotting his teacher in the wild and chatting with friends. He was also mesmerized by the band performances, which made my heart swell and my mind jump to becoming Captain of the Band Moms.

Nora rocked her orange in the best way {team headband by Sassy Sweet Pea Designs} and paid close attention to the action on the field. She yelled and clapped her hands when the crowd erupted with joy. She yelled and clapped her hands when the opposing side cheered. She was just happy to be there, really. Her only moment of panic occurred when she was denied nachos, but a finger in the cheese got her back in the game.

What a fun night for our family. No one fell off the bleachers, there was only one bathroom/snack break, and the whining stayed at a minimum. It's exciting to know my kids are all old enough to enjoy sitting beneath the Friday night lights.

Round Two of our football weekend will take place today, and we don't have to worry about coinciding bathroom breaks. Much to Owen's disappointment, we are not going to see the "Woo Pig Sooie guys" in person, but on TV. Here's to a big win for the Razorbacks over Texas A&M {fingers crossed}. I'm sure Nora's outfit can only boost the possibility of success:


If you are digging this little T-shirt dress as much as I am, please meet Keisha at K Cutie Designs. She's an Arkansas blogger friend of mine {you can read her here} and she handcrafts these outfits for little girls, big girls, and mamas, too. Perfect for game day! She features different teams and has even more non-football-related items. Make sure you tell her I sent you. Waffle not included. :)

Happy Saturday, y'all, and Woo Pig!


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Outtakes


On the day that summer gave way to fall, I whisked my children outside to welcome the new season and bask in the autumnal glow.

{Truth: I conned Owen into going for a hair cut by promising him extra time on the swing set. That time was cut short after he rolled in freshly-cut grass and broke out in hives. Happy Fall, y'all.}

Although the point of this afternoon outdoors was primarily bribery, I also had a goal of getting new blog portraits to use on my social media pages. I had my camera charged, all sorts of lovely light, and three cute subjects. The problem, however, was getting from Point A to Point B. I was very pleased with the above shots showcasing their sweet faces, but for every good one, there were 50 outtakes. I'm here to share a few of those with you today. Let's start with the most obvious one, shall we? One thing you should know by now is that Owen is an adorable little boy. Another fact you may have gathered is that he is wild. It's hard to put those two together and produce a clear photo of his smiling face. However, we still got some gems:


Nathan, on the other hand, is just as cute, but the most agreeable of all the Bauer Bunch. Not only does he stop swinging just for me, he provides a happy grin while I hold down the shutter button. Therefore, every picture I took of him turned out great. No outtakes from big brother, but he happened to be involved in a few...


And then there's my sweet Baby Nora:


Here's to you working it that hard on a slow September Thursday. May your day be just as silly and include lots of time in that autumnal glow I was talking about earlier. It's pretty fantastic stuff. Have a good one, y'all!


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Monkey Do


For your Wordless Wednesday entertainment, please enjoy this photo of my monkey in the middle {and maybe a few words}.

During a weekend lunch worthy of Chopped {this was a desperate afternoon when I combined mozzarella and pepperoni with Mexican food}, Owen asked for a banana. I happily handed my son his request, and his brother started calling him a monkey. Owen was quick to reply with, "No, Nathan, I'm not a monkey. I'm a little boy who eats like a monkey."

Nathan retorted: "No, you are a monkey. Monkeys have big ears, long hair, they throw stuff, and they aren't good at math."

Well said, son. I guess I'll be a monkey's... mama.

Sorry.

Happy Hump Day, y'all! :)


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Raising a Trio

{Day after Nora's birth day. Two points to Owen for the foreshadowing.}

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about the art of raising three children.

Her brood grew to this size in March, and I asked if she knew how to handle it yet. Although I had my pencil poised at the ready to take notes, her answer was "not at all." I'd say the fact that we keep all six of these kids dressed, fed, and somewhat clean means we're doing something right, but it got me thinking about my own survival tactics. I still struggle just as much as I did when I brought Baby Nora into this mad house for the first time. However, I thought it would be good to share/remind myself of what I have found to be true since the Bauer kids outnumbered their parents.

I'm not sure what the science is behind this, but the best way to reduce my stress level is to be in a clean house. Sometimes this process gets complicated when I'm throwing toys into one toy box, and Owen is dumping out another three feet away. However, I keep my eyes on the prize, take a deep breath, and press on. Once I see the bottom of my sink, an empty kitchen table, and carpet sans Ninja Turtles, I relax. And for some reason, my kids do, too.

A clean house often leads to movie time on the couch, and an increased awareness that trash goes into the trashcan. I know, it's a mystery to me, too.

On that same note, I let them play. I know how obvious this sounds, but this is a tough one for me. In my house, play leads to fighting, blaming, tattling, and the need for a referee. But I let them. Maybe Nora and Owen are pressing buttons on every annoying baby toy, or maybe the boys are reenacting movies with Legos. No matter the possibilities of it all going south, this is how they learn, grow, and build relationships. That is, until someone takes an Optimus Prime to the head. But I digress.

Another simple thing I make sure to do, especially when Jonathan is at work, is to do things in pairs. Nora and Owen bathe together. Nathan and Owen brush their teeth together. They all line up on the bathroom counter for fingernail trimming, and I praise the Lord with all my soul when they nap together. I try my hardest not to do the same thing three times in a row, and this cuts down on the amount of crazy that can ensue while two children are running {or scooting} loose.

On a serious note, the best way I keep my head above water is by forgiving myself for the struggles. It will never be perfect, it's not always fun, and it gets hard. It's okay to leave it at that. However, if I can find joy, they latch onto it. I look as hard as I can into the faces of these little monsters and I remember what I am to them. I remember what they are to me. If I can bring my focus back to the real reason I vacuum Cheerios and wipe syrup from doorknobs, it does make things a {little} easier. They are a mess, but they are my mess.

And if all else fails, there's a lock on my bedroom door and wine in the fridge.

Whether you have one kid or nineteen {looking at you, Michelle}, what are your tips and tricks when it comes to parenthood? My life hacks are far from earth-shattering and I'm always looking for new ways to work smarter when it comes to parenting. Let me know in the comments, won't you?


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Five: Confessions


Today is Friday. Let us rejoice.

This week has been a trial for me and much more so for a handful of people in my life. I have three rather big unspoken prayer requests, if you would like to jump on board. I may get to them eventually, but in the meantime, I know these people would appreciate your support.

Friday Five is a good excuse for dumping out the thoughts roaming in my brain, but today I'm going for a more organized approach. In the Bauer House, Friday is Mom Day. I am off of work, Nathan and Jonathan go to their respective schools and jobs, and I'm left to make sure Nora and Owen are cared for to the best of my abilities. *ahem* How about a hearty round of Mom Confessions?

  • NUMBER ONE: Owen used a Cheeto to lure his sister into his bedroom for post-nap play {please know "post-nap" is a lie}. Using the very door that prohibits girls from entering, he has trapped her. I hear sirens, gunshots, and laughter. I'm assuming it's safe to continue eating this brownie.

  • NUMBER TWO: Nora is still wearing her pajamas. I am still wearing my pajamas. Owen is still wearing his pajamas, with one minor twist {he took off his pants}. Friday afternoons at the Bauer house are a mix of comfortable/fingers crossed the bug guy doesn't show up.

  • NUMBER THREE: Yesterday I spent almost three hours cleaning my house. When most people take to such rigorous cleaning, it usually consists of scrubbing, dusting, and an arsenal of lemon-scented products. I just picked up toys and empty Capri Suns. And vacuumed Fruit Loops.

  • NUMBER FOUR: Waffles and corn dogs served as today's lunch special. I ate a bag of popcorn while Owen pretended to take a nap.

  • NUMBER FIVE: I can think of two youth group events to plan, one person to contact about an upcoming fundraiser, one book left to finish, and a number of chores to complete around my house. But my kids are entertaining themselves. And the will is gone.

  • Happy Friday, everybody!
    I hope you have a lovely weekend. Remember to love those who need it most, don't shy away from grand adventures, and at least get out of your pajamas for a few hours.


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    Friday, September 12, 2014

    AWBU: No Sippy Cups


    My brain was stuffed full of knowledge at Arkansas Women Bloggers University this weekend.

    From picking apart amazing stories in my sacred everyday to pinpointing exactly how I want to make you lovely readers feel, I came away inspired to build a better space in my corner of the Internet. However, I talked about that whole experience yesterday. For Round Two of AWBU talk, I want to go a different route. I want to talk to you about this strange species with whom I spent a weekend in northwest Arkansas.

    Grownups.

    I have little direct contact with non-related grownups, so it was shocking to analyze them in their natural habitats. I learned plenty of blogging tips, but one of the best things about the weekend was that no one needed me to pour their milk. Allow me to present a few lessons learned when a mama is pulled out of her element:

    1. Grownups can get themselves into the car on their own. I can't tell you how many times I fought the urge to pick up Ting's Mom, place her in the back seat, and secure her for the ride. Thankfully for the both of us, I resisted.

    2. I heard my real name said aloud more times than in the last year combined. I'm not sure what would have happened had someone shouted MAMA into this crowd, but we did not have to find out.

    3. Not once did I have to stand in front of the elevator button panel to prevent small fingers from pressing the big red emergency button.

    4. Grownups are not only responsible for bringing their own clothing to a hotel stay, they are fully capable of putting it on by themselves. Forget buttoning up your roomie's shirt, friends, she has this one under control.

    5. There was not a single crayon on the dinner table, no slap fights to break up while waiting to be seated, and I stopped short of scanning the menu for chicken tenders.

    6. Diapers. No one wore diapers.

    7. I didn't have to count to three in my trademark Harsh Voice, and there wasn't a single conference attendee who answered "Huh?" to every single statement I made. It was a refreshing change of pace.

    8. I could have missed it, but I didn't hear anyone replace random parts of speech with the word "booty." This is my season of life, folks. Booty humor.

    9. If a grownup poops in the potty, you probably shouldn't immediately grab their hands for a potty dance. That one needs no explanation.

    10. I pulled a total of zero objects from noses. Grownups seem to know that's a bad idea.

    Let me end by saying the phone call on the drive home and the hugs when I walked through the door made even the most soured sippy cup seem okay. AWBU was a wonderful break for this mama, but I'll take what's on the other side of my front door any day. This chaos is mine, and I will own it the best I can. Thanks to the ladies of AWB for an incredible weekend, and thanks to my kids for bringing a little crazy and a load of love into my very special, very sacred everyday.


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    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    AWBU Newbie


    Standing in the lobby of the Rogers Embassy Suites, I kept looking down at my name tag and my blog title would flash back up at me.

    Who am I? Who am I to be in this hotel, surrounded by dozens of female writers and acting like I belong? Who am I to be wearing a name tag that bears the name I gave to a little space on the Internet I paid for that I fill with stories about my life? Who am I? Why do these strangers care?

    This weekend I attended Arkansas Women Bloggers University as my debut into the blog conference world. Although those initial fears crept in when I realized what I was doing, they melted fast. I spent approximately three minutes wondering whether anyone would care that I was there, then I pushed those thoughts aside and let Outgoing Jessica make a splash. She admits to being squashed by anxiety sometimes, but she's my favorite. I let her come out and play as often as possible. I began introducing myself to others, and was shocked when someone told me she thought Nora was cute. Someone told me she liked my writing voice. Someone told me she liked my blog design. They knew me. And I knew them!

    I think AWBU may be one of the only places where it's flattering to be a stalker. The majority of these women I have only known through their blogs and social media, but I found it easy to talk like we'd been friends for years. It was okay to bring up topics I had read about them, and they were happy to do the same for me. There were no strangers at this conference. After the initial shock wore off, my newbie status did, too. I was part of the community, and my community was rallying for me. It was incredible.

    Most of these ladies are much more talented than me, but instead of making me feel inferior, they gave me aspirations. They showed me what I could become and handed me a set of road maps.

    I picked up so many buzzwords at AWBU. Storytelling. Branding. Vlogging. Publishing. Connecting. However, I think number one is friendship. Although I attended a handful of blogger meet-ups with women from my area, it wasn't until we were stuck in a car for six hours that true bonds were formed. I laughed until I cried, I grew closer than I thought possible, and I came home with four amazing friends. Friendship is important, and it can be hard to find. There is zero chance I could have met these women without AWB.

    {Why don't you go and get to know my friends? Visit Sheila, Alicia, Jennifer, and Karen.
    Photo is obviously taken by Karen of Ting's Mom fame.}


    Thank you to The Park Wife for having the sense to turn bloggers into friends and thank you to every single blogger who attended. You gave me inspiration, you gave me courage, and you gave me acceptance. I can't tell you how much I needed all three.

    And a quick post-script: If you are a blogger and any of this sounds as awesome as I wanted it to, join up! First get registered at Arkansas Women Bloggers, and then be sure to join us for AWBU next year. If you just so happen to live in my corner of the state, send me a line and we'll get you hooked into our group, too. I guarantee it's worth it.



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    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Ketchup


    I am totally employable for all your ketchup graphic-related needs {I assume they are plentiful}.

    Usually I attribute my lack of blogging to being lazy and/or not having a story to tell, but the first part is far from the truth. The school year is in gear and while that mostly means something for my second-grader, drudging up the routines buried since May means change for us all. Also, the school year brings a fresh crop of teenagers for me to mold and nourish and try not to mess up in my role as youth minister. This means piles of paperwork, brainstorming in the wee hours of the night, and trying to get my ducks in a row {or at least relatively close to each other}. Oh, and there's a conference this weekend... anyway, how about some catching up?

    KIDS Nathan is trucking along in second-grade, and is still as happy as he was in the last post. His homework load is increasing, and he aced his first spelling and math tests. He's doing great, but I'm struggling with the fact that he is becoming his mother {that one will be a blog post of its own}. Owen, the forgotten middle child {also an upcoming post}, is still as cute as can be. When he's not being Spiderman, he's doling out snuggles and/or irritating his brother. Nora is a precious little peach who has probably thinks her name is "No, Nora." Precious.

    BLOG If you've been refreshing this page and hoping for nuggets of wisdom, rest assured they're {hopefully} on their way. Inspiration is a six-hour drive away and Friday morning I'm packing up four of my favorite local bloggers and driving across the state for Arkansas Women Bloggers University. I'm a first-timer and very eager to see what it's all about! The sessions I'm looking forward to will hopefully craft my storytelling, help me channel my thoughts, and make this space much more exciting for the both of us. Aren't you glad I'm going?

    HEALTH I don't like this. I don't like admitting I'm sick, I don't like taking medicine to solidify that I'm sick, and I do not like whining about being sick. But I'm sick. Summer cold style. I sometimes do an internal eye roll when people refer to their common colds as being of the summer variety, but it's a thing. Harder to cure and easier to share {that's an official medical opinion}. Jonathan quickly became the last man standing. Unfortunately, while he was busy pouring my Nyquil cocktail and suctioning noses, it got him. Words cannot describe what happens to a house when both parents are sick. I think the kids are overdue for a bath...

    That's about it. Most of the hustle of my life is boring this time of year, but if something exciting happens to pop up, you'll be the first to know. Happy Tuesday!


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