Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chicken Chat

A few new girls moved into the house this week.

For years we've talked about chickens. A flock of pets that live outside and give us free food sounded like a sweet deal. As I continued to have babies of my own, though, we decided adding a box of chirping chicks to care for wasn't going to work. Every year we found a reason not to do it, but I never stopped bringing it up. Last month, however, we couldn't find an excuse. We decided this was the year of farm-fresh eggs and pets with wings.

We know several families in the area who raise chickens already and we had the bright idea to start with hens. That would take away the in-home aspect and there would be no waiting for eggs. As you can see in the photo above, that idea did not pan out {let's just say the flock we were going to adopt from met a few coyotes}. We were already so pumped about the idea that we decided raising fuzzballs wouldn't be so bad. My friend Alicia, who writes at Simple Words By A, is already a chicken mama, but wanted to add to her flock. So we shared a 15-chick order.

The babies hatched Sunday, and found their way to our corner of Arkansas on a snowy Wednesday morning. We met Alicia at the post office and picked six chicks from the noisiest package I'd ever heard. They screamed the whole way home, but who enjoys being mailed? Once we got them into the chicken condo Jonathan set up the night before, they immediately rushed under their warmer. One by one, each baby popped out to explore surroundings, grab a bite to eat, and poop. All good things.

{We took the advice of The Chicken Chick and followed her brooder building instructions here.
It's working out wonderfully!}

Most of what I'd read said the chicks would be terrified of humans at first, but these girls are a different story. We ordered Dominiques on recommendations for a friendly breed. Even on Day One, this has proven true. They follow our voices, let us hold them, and even eat out of Nathan's hands! The Chicken Whisperer, I'm telling you.

Owen is obsessed with his "chicken pets" and constantly tells them how proud he is. He also contributed heavily to their naming. We can't exactly tell them apart at this point {will we ever be able to?}, but here are their official names:

Elsa, Nugget, Wildstyle, Rover, Strip, and Chickaletta.
{We're pretty sure this one is Wildstyle. She's very glamorous:}

And there you have it: a new adventure for the Bauer Bunch. I can guarantee this isn't the last you'll see of these chirping little sweeties. I'll try not to flood your news feed with chick pics, though {try being the operative word}. We are looking forward to working on a permanent home for the girls to use in a few months.

Owen is not as ready for the wait, though. First thing this morning, he checked to see if any of the babies "pooped out" tiny eggs. This will be a lesson in both pet care and patience. Happy Thursday, y'all!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Southern Winter

It was late, it was unwelcome, but winter finally muscled its messy way into southern Arkansas.

It started Monday when school was cancelled due to the threat of an icy afternoon. Poor Nathan had to accompany me on my work commute and though we did drive through a little sleet, this day off was kind of a bust. Once we made it home, the boys asked to "play in the snow" and only found fun in breaking icicles off my car.

School was delayed two hours Tuesday as the ground began to thaw; however, today is a different story. We watched meteorologists build hope across social media as a second storm geared up to roll into our area. In this part of the state, winter weather is rare and typically comes in the form of the dreaded "wintry mix" - but they were calling for a big patch of heavy snow. Ever the skeptic, I assumed life would continue as normal.

The text arrived cancelling school arrived around 6:00 AM and I stopped rolling my eyes just a few hours later. Big, beautiful flakes formed a blanket that was not too powdery nor too wet. It covered the grass immediately and the roads weren't far behind. The kids and I stayed home and after about three hours of begging, I was nice enough to zip up coats, stick fingers into gloves, and watch the boys play through the glass door. {Have you gotten the idea that snow is not my favorite? True story.} It's still falling, and I'll admit is lovely to watch from the comfort of my living room.

Here are a few of the shots I got when I gave in and stepped outside for a few minutes:

Now we're warm, toasty, and back in our pajamas. The boys are waiting patiently for their dad to get home from work so they can get back out there, and I'm just enjoying the view. Alright, winter, you've had your fun and I'll admit it wasn't too terrible.

But you can kindly step aside for spring now?

How's the weather in your neck of the woods today?

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sick Day

It's a sick day in the Bauer house.

Today is the start of a five-day weekend dubbed Winter Break by the public schools, and I had every intention of dragging my second-grader to the office. Unfortunately his sister had other plans. The two wee ones were supposed to go to day care with Spiderman valentines and rub-on tattoos, but our morning scene nixed that plan.

I'll gladly spare you the details {wish I could say the same for myself}, but I'll set it up: today has been the kind of day that the washing machine is constantly running, the baths are plentiful, and the patient doesn't wear pants. The boys and I have been washing our hands to keep this bug contained to Baby Sister and the scrubbing is getting old, but that's not to say there isn't a silver lining. I'm at home. I don't have to drive anywhere until I take Nathan to his piano lessons tonight and I have the option of pajamas. Obviously the stomach bug is not fun and games, but here are the highlights:

1. Nora is not a snuggler but it's been "Mama!" with open arms all morning. No complaints.
2. Still babies who don't feel well tend to nap nicely.
3. The crib bedding and bathtub have never been cleaner and the scent of Lysol fills the air.
4. Video games have ruled the morning during patient naps and I'm not even sorry. Quiet. Sweet, sweet quiet.
5. All Bubble Guppies. All day.

See? If you can quell the crying and get past the, you know, smell, it's not so bad. {insert wincing face} At least that's what I keep telling myself. We have another several hours to fill until bedtime. I have crayons, sticker books, Pedialyte, an extra pack of diapers, and a DVR full of Nick Jr. Hopefully we can make it there unscathed.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Love Notes

The other day I was made aware that every other "lunch boxer" at Nathan's primary school has a note from mom tucked between their snack pack and sandwich.

He point-blank asked me why I didn't do it and if I could start. No big deal, really. I told him I would be happy to send a little love in his lunch box and vowed to do it the next day. I remember thinking about lunch box notes when he first started getting ready for kindergarten. I imagined how cool it would be when he was old enough to read a special message from me to help him make it through the rest of the day. Maybe he would be confused by the morning math, have an issue with a classmate, or just miss home a little more than normal, and those little words would make a difference. A lot of life has happened since Nathan started kindergarten, and my mornings are a whirlwind that have yet to include taking the time to make my kid feel special. Kind of a bummer if you think about it too hard.

Jonathan picked him up the day I remembered to send him a little note and when he burst through the door, the words left his mouth before his backpack came off: "I got that note you left me!" His smile was hard to contain and I could tell he had been waiting to say that for hours. Obviously this post is not a call for back pats or early nomination for Mom of the Year seeing as how he watched his friends open notes all year, but I can't tell you good it felt. It took five seconds to make his day.

This morning while I was handing Nora a waffle and helping Owen find his one favorite pair of socks, my second-grader tapped me on the shoulder and asked if there was going to be another note. Through the hustle of getting everyone ready and into the car on time, the one thing on his mind was whether I was thinking about him enough to remember. Thank goodness I did. These little touches can mean the world. I'm not too busy to do that for my kid.

It's easy for me to lose track when my everyday gets hectic, but I need to notice. Maybe I won't pack a daily heart-shaped note or shower every Bauer with love and affection constantly, but I need to do better to slow down and remember the difference I can make. What little touches mean the most to your kids?

Happy Thursday, y'all!

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Monday, February 2, 2015

On Being "Real"

Lately I've seen so many articles and posts telling me how I can be a "real" mom, but most of these guides contradict one another.

You're not a REAL mom if your house is messy.
You're not a REAL mom if you can't live with a little clutter.
You're not a REAL mom if your kids go to daycare in their PJs.
You're not a REAL mom if you spend sweet, sacred time choosing outfits.
You're not a REAL mom if you hit the drive-through and load your kid with fries.
You're not a REAL mom if you don't relax and treat them every now and then.
You're not a REAL mom if you don't encourage healthy habits early.
You're not a REAL mom if you don't teach them to take pride in imperfections.

I beat myself up about plenty of parenting decisions. I often struggle with knowing whether I'm doing enough for my children and whether I'm a worthy charge for these three little lives; however, I do not struggle with what it means to be real. No matter which way the pendulum swings on the topic du jour, I know for a fact that I am a real mom. No quotations needed. Want to know my tried and true method for achieving this coveted title? It's super easy and involves only two little steps. Are you ready for this?

STEP ONE: Create {and/or adopt} a child.
STEP TWO: Love your child.

What, that's all? Yeah. That's all. There's no set of rules that make you more "real" than the next mom. Methods of cleaning, teaching, feeding, and raising in general are not the factors that make you real. It's the love. No matter how you get from STEP ONE to 18+ years down the road, as long as STEP TWO is in there, you're real. I don't care if you do things differently than me. It doesn't amount to a hill of beans if you breastfed your babies, home-school your kids, or do laundry standing on your head. Different does not mean wrong. There are millions of ways to get there, and the road every mom takes is the right one for her. The options you choose along the journey are not what make you real, it's the journey itself.

Parenting is hard enough without adhering to a standard. Don't we have enough rules in all other areas of life? Shouldn't we be able to do what we think is right without worrying if it's acceptable to someone else? Easy fix: stop worrying.

It's my opinion that there's no road map to "real" motherhood. If you love your kids, you're already there.

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