Monday, March 23, 2015

Soggy Festival

{It might have been raining, but by golly they were posing by flowers.}

Spring 2015 came in like a wet dog.

Although the rain is more than welcome when it comes to encouraging seeds to burst through soil, it didn't make ideal conditions for our annual trip to the Jonquil Festival at Historic Washington State Park. This event is my favorite festival on the southwest Arkansas circuit. It's the perfect time of year {read: not 110 degrees} and the craft vendors typically outshine those featured elsewhere. However, with a festival scheduled for mid-March, you never know what you're going to get with the weather. It could be a bright, sunny 80 degrees or the ground could be covered in snow. Sometimes the jonquils are dead from the heat, and sometimes they're barely blooming. This year, it was somewhere between; however, the boys pulled on their boots, Nora zipped up her hoodie, and everyone set their sights on funnel cake.

Our feet squished in the muddy gravel and the misty drizzle danced in our hair, but we still had a great afternoon together. The first stop naturally was the row of food carts. Owen requested blue ice cream. Grammy made a bee line to the corn dogs. Nathan pulled his dad toward the funnel cakes, and then followed him over to get two different meats on a stick {gator and chicken}. We sat on a rain-soaked bench, but the festival flavors were more than enough to keep us warm. The following photo series is called "You Gonna Eat That Corn Dog?"

We quickly made our way through craft vendors, popping into booths and making purchases as we explored. The highlight of the day was when Poppy snagged a couple of pop guns for the boys. They even came with feather caps that I will pray will remain intact for at least a good week. Nora was gifted a handmade stuffed kitty and she has been patting it ever since.

I'm glad we braved the weather and enjoyed each other's company. It's a fun way to welcome spring, rain or shine. Now I'm just waiting on my backyard to dry out because we have big plans this season. Obviously the chickens that live in my kitchen will need a home, and we're trading our raised bed garden for a great big plot. Rain, rain, go away, please come back after I've planted {it doesn't rhyme, but I sure mean it}.

How did you welcome this soggy Southern spring?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Owen: Age 4

Today that silly middle child of mine is four years old.

As many times a day as I say his name in various forms of Mom Voice, I wouldn't trade him for a million bucks. He waited five days past his due date to blink his big brown eyes at the world, but I would've waited a million more {figuratively}. One of the most noticeable things about my four-year-old is his inability to be quiet. Whether he's talking to a crowd or talking to a wall, he always has something to say. That's why this year's annual round of twenty questions was a breeze {as long as I could hold his attention}. I'm super glad Owen Bauer was born. He brings so much love and life and laughter to our family. I can honestly say there's never a dull moment with this kid. Check out what he had to say below and compare to years past here and here.

Birthday Interview: 20 Questions
  1. What is your favorite color?
    Green, like that robot on Umi Zoomi.

  2. What is your favorite toy?
    Minion toys from my birthday.

  3. What is your favorite tv show?
    Nothing! No, I think it's going to be Paw Patrol.

  4. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
    Turkey cheese sandwich from Mrs. Keri's.

  5. What is your favorite movie to watch?
    Despicable Me with the purple minions, but the yellow ones are my favorite.

  6. What is your favorite game?
    I like to play puppets and basketball skills.

  7. What is your favorite animal?

  8. What is your favorite song?
    Minion songs. And Uptown Funk.

  9. Who is your best friend?
    Cayden. And Finn. And all the boys I know.

  10. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
    Play hide-and-seek.

  11. What is your favorite drink?
    Juice. But I don't know what the kind is called.

  12. Where is your favorite place to go?
    Poppy's house because I love him.

  13. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Four. {I clarified further.} I don't want to have a work. {Well, there you go.}

  14. What is your favorite thing to play with Nathan?
    I really like to be bad dinosaurs and good dinosaurs with him.

  15. What is your favorite thing about Nora?
    She plays with me and she's cute when she has a happy face.

  16. What do you like to do with Mommy?
    Share crackers and Wheat Thins and snuggle on the couch.

  17. What do you like to do with Daddy?
    I like to play toy animals with him.

  18. What makes you laugh?
    When you get my chinny chin chin like Grammy does.

  19. What's your favorite thing to do at day care?
    Play with Avie and run around. And eat!

  20. What is the best thing about your birthday?
    Opening presents! Hitting the piñata! Eating cake! Having friends!

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Owen's Minion Party

Owen got by with a little help from his minions this weekend.

As you might guess, Owen loves the Despicable Me movies. He can quote them both perfectly and is fluent in Minion. That's why he's had his fourth birthday party theme mapped out for months. I've been hearing "minion party" this and "minion party" that constantly. Even though he had it all figured out, I sure did wait until the last minute to get it together. However, it ended up being a blast! A handful of Owen's buddies, their parents, and a bunch of family drove down to our house and partied hard. You couldn't wipe the smile off that kid's face. I mean, just look at him.

As for the details, everything turned out cute despite my lack of work. Very, very little was homemade, and I am 100% okay with that. I just ordered decorations and party ware online. It came in colors of blue, orange, and yellow and looked awesome strung around my kitchen. The food was a joint effort between myself and my SIL, with most of the work falling on her. She made the food labels and the minion faces on Twinkies were all her:

They turned out amazing and just took icing and a steady hand! Pretty much everything else was found at the grocery store. Store-bought cookies doubled as cookie robots, grape jello was PX-41 serum, and puffy Cheetos were Agnes' caterpillars that never turned into butterflies {I sure hope you've seen the movies, or this makes zero sense}. We also had a veggie tray, some pre-sliced fruit, my mom's famous meatballs {cranberry sauce + chili sauce - keep it a secret!}, and a couple of dips.

As you can see, Owen was pleased. So pleased he could barely manage a genuine smile when said smile kept him from diving into the grub:

Once the candles were blown out and the songs {yes, there are two} were sung, we let him loose in a room full of presents. Wrapping paper, party bags, and cards were flying. Random kids were delivering cards to random grownups and we lost track of where the presents came from. When we were able to connect a prize to a giver, Owen got confused and tried to give that person his toy. Once it clicked, he said, "These presents are all for me?!" It might not have been the most orderly method of present opening, but Owen and his friends had such a fun time oohing over everything that I just let it flow. Easier that way, really.

We did have a couple of minion games to play. I wrapped yellow and blue construction paper around plastic bottles, stuck on some printed minion eyes and used them as both bowling pins and ring toss targets. Very simple and the kids had a good time! I didn't get a great photo of the minions, but you get the idea. Owen had so much fun cheering on and encouraging his guests. He may drive me batty sometimes, but he is a sweet little kid.

This party was a hit. Not because the food turned out cute or the decorations stayed up the whole time, but because shortly after the piñata was smashed, he turned to me and said: "I LOVED my minion party!" It was exactly what he wanted it to be, and that was perfect. Owen is a very special little kid and he means more to me than I could begin to explain. I'd try to bring him the moon if he wanted it.

Thankfully, he just wanted minions.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

On Being Seven

This week my oldest son graced the stage and nailed his line in the second-grade musical.

They sang loud and clear, they hit their marks like professionals, and they grooved like nobody was watching. The odd thing about it, though, was that several people watching. The wooden auditorium seats were filled with parents, grandparents, and siblings who were being shushed with graham crackers {okay, maybe that was just one in particular}. Camera flashes were constant, and there was enthusiastic applause after each number. Between songs, the kids lined up at the appropriate microphones and delivered their words loud and clear. Chefs, football players, fire fighters, and other members of hat-wearing professions beamed at the audience with pride. There was no mumbling, no looking down, and no visible fear. Their incredible music teacher had prepared them well, but it was the pride that made the show.

And the dancing, oh the dancing! These kids were absolutely feeling it. Even Nathan, who is admittedly shy sometimes, let loose and had a blast. I couldn't help but smile as I scanned the crowd and saw exactly how much fun each kid was having. I hope they always have that much fun. I hope they always feel that free.

I'm not naive enough to think that kids this age don't have insecurities. I wrote a whole post about how I'm pretty sure Nathan has inherited most of mine, but watching that little boy dance and sing without a care in the world, I was jealous.

After the performance, Nathan talked to his grandma on the phone so she could tell him how much she loved the video we sent. One of her first questions was whether he was scared to talk in front of so many people.

His answer? "No. Why?"

At seven you don't care who's watching if you're having fun. At seven you aren't trying to be cooler than anyone else. At seven, there's no holding back from being yourself. I pray that every one of those kids hangs on tight. This group is a long way from crying through preschool programs, and I want them to be even further from the dividing lines that creep in and separate. High school kids who answer every question, the ones invited to every party, and the ones terrified of finding a seat at lunch are all balled up in this class. They were all dancing together.

The second-graders sang about party hats and Uncle Sam, but the underlying theme fit perfectly. It doesn't matter what hat you wear, it's all about what's underneath. Whatever hats these kids put on in the years to come, I hope they are never afraid to let their true selves shine through. I hope they always remember being seven.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow Day Top Ten

Your alarm goes off at 6:30 AM.

You stretch in the warmth of your pile of covers and settle in for that coveted five-minute snooze. As you reach over to shut off the blaring phone, you notice the light outside is brighter than normal. Ever so cautious, you carefully pull back the curtain to reveal a blinding white landscape. Snow! Your heart races and that giddy feeling courses through your body for about three seconds, and then you remember that you're a grownup.

Ugh. Snow day.

Maybe this isn't you? Maybe you jump for joy at the thought of your children staying home from school to help you build snowmen, laugh at your snow angels, then track residual mud, water, and ice all over your home? It's not that I don't mind hanging out with these sweet angels when the need arises, it's just that cabin fever is real! Here a few reasons this particular mom does not like getting the Official Snow Day Text:

  • The milk jug drains quicker.
  • Tattle telling started at 8:00.
  • Despite the mountain of toys in their closet and scattered throughout my home, there's nothing to do.
  • Their level of excitement and my level of coffee are yet to even out.
  • Though appropriate, Nora's request for Frozen on repeat is not appreciated.
  • STOP TOUCHING ME started at 8:10.
  • Wrapped up in comfort, finally enjoying coffee, I hear thousands of pretzels cascade onto the floor.
  • My brilliant plan for an art-filled morning resulted in crayon eating.
  • My kids didn't come with off switches.
  • They want to play outside. Where it's cold. And wet. And cold.

You may or may not be reading this as you wrap your scarf around your neck and pull on your boots and think that I'm a terrible mother. I'm almost 96% sure I'm not. I'm happy to have a day home in PJs with my kids, but being cooped up gets old. We've already had the one snow day, Mother Nature. I think southern Arkansas has met its quota for the year. March has officially come in like a lion, and my fingers are crossed that it goes out like an especially gentle lamb. These kids {and their mom} need to get out!!

How are the rest of the parents holding up on this snow day? Are you pulling your hair out or pushing the sled?

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