Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter With My Peeps


As we were riding the highway home after a lovely Saturday spent dyeing eggs with family, a voice piped up from the back seat.

"Mom, do you know what the best part about Easter is?" I asked Nathan to clarify, and he replied: "That Jesus loved us so much that He sacrificed Himself on the cross." Beaming with parental pride, I gave my eldest son the proper praise and felt satisfied in the fact that I hadn't completely commercialized this holy holiday. After a few minutes of silence and several glances back and forth with Jonathan, a new voice piped up. A smaller one.

"When the Easter Bunny opens the door, is he going to look at me or touch me? Do you think he could just leave the presents really fast and not come into my room?

You win some, you lose some. The conversation darted back and forth between Jesus and the Bunny with a decision that the one bearing chocolate probably won't break and enter, but use magic through the window. It's worth noting that the conversation included a prophecy that when Jesus returns, Santa will watch over us because he lives in Heaven, too. I promise Owen will get it all worked out eventually.


Happy Easter, y'all! The Bauer Bunch had a great weekend in perfect spring weather. We were able to hang out with all four grandparents plus an aunt and a brand-new uncle. The rest of my dad's family joined us Sunday afternoon and we stuffed our faces with ham and bunny-shaped crescent rolls. Also, you should know there were baby chick deviled eggs and a bunny cake. Pinterest didn't see this family coming.

As for the egg dyeing, I have to say it was one of the most successful rounds I've ever seen. No one spilled a cup, no one dipped a hand in a cup, and no one drank from a cup. We also tested out the backyard brown eggs for the first time and the colors came out beautifully. It was a score all around. Nora was very excited to dye her own eggs and you can tell by the ratio of pink to the other colors.

Other Easter happenings surrounded a grownup Big Wheel. Uncle Preston picked one up on his way down south to see if he could out-drive Nathan and Owen on their drifting trikes and Nora in her cozy coup. Every adult who maneuvered it was able to make it go and not hurt themselves, but we need more practice. Give us time, though, give us time.

We also took several attempts at getting a five-member family photo with all of us looking in the same direction. I'd say we got pretty close, and if you look at all four of these photos at the same time, it's not half bad.


Between the Easter Bunny and two candy-happy grandmas, these three kids made out like bandits. We are just a box of Goobers away from opening a concession stand. Don't worry, though, I am happy to help. How was your Easter? Did your kids make it to school on time Monday morning? Did you eat Peeps for breakfast?


Happy Easter from our bunch to yours. Thank you family, for your great love, thank you Jesus, for your greatest love, and thank you Easter Bunny, for not getting too close.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Holy Week: Life and Death

{It's Good Friday, so I'm doing a little Holy Week reflecting this afternoon. Jump in!}


Today is arguably the most important day on the Christian calendar.

However, sometimes I get a sense that the cross bearing a broken Savior is a sad elephant in the room. "Today is Friday, but Sunday's coming." Don't get me wrong, I absolutely agree the glorious resurrection is something to look forward to, but I want to reiterate what puts the Good in Friday. I want to look at Jesus on the cross and remember why.

Jesus Christ was born a man. He was made of flesh and bone, He faced fears, and He felt real pain. Jesus knew life and Jesus knew death, but He put himself through the paces of humanity for humanity. With His last breath, we were set free.

Those who condemned Christ to death did not know what they did, but Jesus knew. It was the ultimate sacrifice done out of love. Not exclusive love reserved only for the most holy, but pure, unconditional love for all. Cool, right?

It is disheartening to think about Jesus's journey to the cross and picture the nails, the blood, and the torture. He was no criminal. He did not deserve what was done, but we cannot sweep the why under the rug. He died so that we may live. He carried the sins of the world on that cross because He loves us more than we can comprehend. He was sent to save us and while I am nowhere near worthy, I am thankful. Friday was good, my friends.

Rising He restored our life, but dying He destroyed our death.

I do encourage you to take time this afternoon to remember why today is so good. Whether you're Catholic or Baptist or any other denomination, don't skip Friday. If you're interested, I can even provide this handy dandy link to walk you through a modern spin on the Stations of the Cross with personal reflections.

Get ready to lift up your Alleluias because Sunday's coming, but today is Friday. Let's remember what He did for us.

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed."

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dirt Therapy


Our Spring Break started out a little broken.

You remember that one post when I detailed the exciting plans we had made for the kids' week off school? Well, I forgot to factor in Nora getting strep throat. I could tell she was feeling puny at the Jonquil Festival and she was feverish all weekend, but a Monday trip to the doctor proved it was more than a bug. The major bummer in this turn of events was that my kid-free days turned into one-kid days {which, honestly, was still an improvement}. On Tuesday, I took one for the team and snuggled my baby while the rest of the family went to the zoo.

Don't feel too sorry for me, though. I understand that it was a zoo trip during Spring Break on a cloudless morning. This equates to about 23,985 parents and kids chasing each other and making monkey noises. I was okay with a day of Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig. Thankfully Uncle Preston took pictures and the boys brought home a pink penguin.

Nora is feeling better now after a few days of medicine, so yesterday I took her outside to begin a new season. As soon as I began pulling weeds from the strawberry bed and uncovered the rich, black soil beneath, my Spring Break started to come together. I found a whole ecosystem of life that had been covered and forgotten. Tiny white blooms clung to the still-surviving plants ready to wake up and take a drink. Nora knelt beside me to help yank out the dead plants and make space for new ones. We renovated the bed while laughing and comparing dirty fingernails. A fellow blogger recently posted this article sharing a study of the antidepressant property of soil microbes. I am a firm believer. This is my happy place and there's your scientific backer.


Getting my hands dirty for the first time threw open windows of my brain that had been shut tight for months. The gears are cranked and turning for spring and summer planting. I can see that big rectangle of dirt come to life and I can smell the strong scent of plant life taking over. It started with just a few strawberry plants, but that dirt therapy did me a world of good. I suppose Spring Break hasn't been so bad.


Have you introduced your hands to garden soil yet this year? If not, today is a great day for it.
Go get dirty!


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Monday, March 21, 2016

Fun at the Festival


We had three motives when we rolled into the packed parking lot at the Jonquil Festival on a blustery Saturday afternoon.

1. Bouncy slides.
2. Corn dogs.
3. Flowers to pose beside.

After a good hour navigating through the hundreds of people who also thought Historic Washington State Park was the place to be, we completed all missions. There may have been some illegal flower picking and long-line whining, but we absolutely did our festival trip justice.

We dined like kings and queens after we let the boys spend their hard-earned cash on trips through the blow-up playground. Nora wasn't feeling great this weekend, but she perked up at the idea of her own foot-long corn dog {which she proceeded to eat like an ear of corn for some reason}. Owen's funnel cake made him dance, and the lemonade was worth shelling out an extraordinary number of bills. All-around festival success, if you ask me.


The shopping was great this year, too. Our haul included two marshmallow guns {Owen happens to be at the exact height to pelt me in the backside, FYI}, a smaller pop gun for sister, homemade soaps, stuffed snakes, and one tiny toy turtle. We didn't load down the car too bad, but we unloaded our wallets fairly quickly. It's a small price to pay for family time and fresh air tinged with the scent of fried.

Once we checked through our festival bucket list, we had one last stop. Photographic evidence. The jonquils were gorgeous this year, but saw their peak a couple weeks ago. We did find a patch to frolic through, however, and maybe trample just a little bit. The mission was to get at least one picture of all three kids standing together and looking toward the camera, and I did exactly that. I just got one.


This weekend brought not only the Jonquil Festival, but the official start to my favorite season. On a related note, the Spring Equinox happened to fall on the International Day of Happiness. I know the blue skies, vibrant blooms, and refreshing spring breezes prompt such a joyous mark on the calendar, but if you ask me, I think it was the corn dogs.

Happy Monday, y'all, and HAPPY SPRING!


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Friday, March 18, 2016

Happy Friday


On the way home from preschool drop off, Nora gave an Oscar-worthy performance after claiming Owen reached over and hit her sweet face.

Yes, I said after. Yes, I left Owen at preschool.

It was one of those mornings. A morning that included a turn-around for a forgotten blanket, a pileup in the car line, and a backseat brawl with an invisible brother. However, it is the last morning of rushing to school on time because Spring Break begins this afternoon. Since this day/post started with a hectic Friday morning, I think I'll ease back and talk about a few things that have made me happy this week. Five on Friday? Works for me.

ONE Nathan had his final primary school parent-teacher conference yesterday and I'm pleased to report he's doing great. His teacher said he's a joy to have in class and she's loved watching him come out of his shell and start speaking up more in class. He's also still boasting all As. This year he has four subjects so his Grampa's wallet is getting a little lighter with that $10 per A promise.

TWO This morning after I got Nora settled on the couch with Paw Patrol, I walked outside to scoop chicken poop. It's what I do at this point in my life. As I entered the coop to make it fresh for my feathered friends, I noticed Nugget in a nesting box. So I stood there and watched her lay an egg. Maybe that's creepy, but it delighted me to see the process in action. She got an imaginary high-five and a real handful of treats. I repeat: this is my life, y'all.

THREE Yesterday was not only St. Patrick's Day, but it marked the 10th anniversary of this video. This video, placed on the Internet long before the rise of social media, remains my favorite link on the entire World Wide Web. There will never be anything funnier than the Alabama Leprachaun. Does anyone else know this? Does anyone else think this is funny? Does anybody know where the gold at?

FOUR Although our Spring Break plans are still in the future, thinking about them has put a smile on my face this week. We'll start tomorrow at the Jonquil Festival, where we will eat all the corn dogs and drink all the lemonade. Then on Sunday we have my SIL's wedding reception where we'll dance the night away and leave our children for a few days. We'll pick them up on Tuesday and round it out with a zoo trip. That's an eventful few days, but did I mention I won't have kids for two of them? Did you catch that?

FIVE Despite the fact that I'm thrilled about my upcoming baby break, my daughter is sure making me happy this morning. Every Friday it's just the two of us and we spend most of it wrapped in blankets on the couch, hand in hand. She even intertwines the fingers. I don't know when or why this hand-holding started, but it's just about the best feeling in the world. I know she won't always hold my hand, but for right now, this is happiness.

There you have it, friends! What's making you happy today?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Owen's Party: Pizza + Pals


I have to admit Owen's fifth birthday party was not very p-interesting.

There were no cleverly named dishes with cardboard labels, no games that took days of brainstorming and hours of creating, and zero time spent turning my kitchen into an on-theme wonderland. This year I politely asked my husband to pick up the phone and book a room at the local pizza joint. I ordered a dinosaur cake, grabbed some goodie bags, and passed invitations out to his friends. Then I put the kids in the car and showed up. And Owen loved it.

{Yes, even without the cascading streamers.}

Don't get me wrong, you know I love a well-styled party, but I figured it was okay to scale things back. It was nice to to let the employees do the dishes and I don't think I could get an air hockey table through my front door, anyway. Now that I've gotten my explanation out of the way and helped you understand why I only have oddly lit iPhone photos to share, let's move on.


Owen had several buddies come out to eat pizza and spend quarters Saturday night. He spent a couple hours chasing after friends from preschool, friends from church, and even friends found in the bloggy world - thanks for coming, Karen and Alicia! They raced cars, shot baskets, and tried to keep the skee balls in the lane {and Nora out of it}. There was constant commotion running through the game room, and I did nothing but catch up with mom/dad friends and sit back and watch.


Many, many dollars worth of tickets were cashed in for suckers and trinkets and the big ballers who earned 50 got a delicious scoop of ice cream. You can see in the above collage who was champion of the night {he'd probably also like me to mention he owns the high score for basketball}.

Owen was sad to see Birthday Week come to an end, but watching him interact with his five-year-old pals was the perfect finale. As I leaned against the arcade machines, I was able to actually see that my baby is now a kid. There's little sign left of the nine-pound second bundle who taught me about colic and cuddles. He's a kid, but he's a good one. Thank you to the village that has helped me raise him for five years, and thank you to the awesome friends he's collected along the way.

Turning five will mean a lot of things for Owen, and I can't wait to see what's in store. It's hard to let him go, but I'm ready to see how fast he can run.



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Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Chickens


Sure signs spring is around the corner: there are boots by the door, seeds on the counter, and chickens in the kitchen.

Allow me to to introduce you to the newest members of the Bauer Bunch. Wearing springtime yellow are Sunshine, Lemon, Popcorn, and Hobby Pig {see Owen's birthday post}. The fabulously stylish girls in stripes are Cinderella, Beyonce, and Sofia the Second.


Yes, I have once again invited livestock into my house. But really, look at them. I ordered from Cackle Hatchery again and was pleased with their small order shipping. Our new breeds are Buff Orpingtons and Wyandottes. Seven baby girls plus four big girls who won't know what to think when I show them their new friends.

If you've been reading closely, you'll know I started with six chickens last year. Sadly, we learned a lesson in free ranging. We decided the girls were happier when they were able to explore the yard, dig in the garden, and eat whatever they could find. That is, until something ate two of them. It was either a skunk or an armadillo because both met the business end of a gun the night after the crime. However, the flock carried on. The warmer weather has them all laying again, and they seem happy to me. For the curious, the remaining crew are Nugget, Rover, Elsa, and Chickaletta. After a night of tearful grieving, Owen decided his favorites survived. It worked for me.


Back to the babies. I can say with certainty that I'm not nearly as obsessive about these fluff balls as the first time around, but there's a bigger fish to fry. And it's Nora. On Day One she was caught tossing candy and shopkins into the brooder saying, "Guess what, baby chickens, I have a surprise!" She'll also ask me in a very suspicious manner to turn around and assure me she will not touch a chicken. I can't imagine the terror these chicks feel when a gigantic head with even bigger hair is constantly hovering. She posts up in a chair and tells them about her day. She begs to hold one. She squeals and smiles and loves them more each day.


Jonathan keeps making a comparison to Of Mice and Men, but I digress.

The boys are smitten as well, and they'll be in the egg business when these girls start cranking. We look forward to the day they move to the coop, but I enjoy watching them grow for now. As long as Nora doesn't start feeding them table scraps, this household of 12 will be just fine.

Twelve?!

Are you starting or growing a flock this year? Are you impressed by my family's chicken naming skills? Are you curious as to whether chickens like Sweet Tarts? Jump in the comments for chicken chat. It's fun, I promise.


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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Owen: Age 5

{Yes, I left his blankie in the shot on purpose.}

My little buddy is a whole hand today.

It's been five years since Owen took his sweet, sweet time to make a pretty wild entrance into the world. It's been five years of sneaking into our bedroom and snuggling as close as his body allows. Five years of defending ourselves from his constant energy {and sword/gun/light saber attacks}. Five years of urgently demanding chocolate milk, watching his brother's every move, and trying to hold back tears when he's overcome with any emotion.

Owen was delivered in a flash in the middle of the night and turned our world upside down with his first brown-eyed blink. He is sharp as a tack, he is sensitive, and he is a mess. But he's mine and I love him to pieces. I can't believe he's five years old. Also, I can't believe he stopped long enough to answer the following 20 questions. In honor of Owen's special day, read on for the Age Five version of his annual birthday interview:

Birthday Interview: 20 Questions
  1. What is your favorite color?
    Green because Hobby Pig loves green. {If you don't know him, consider yourself lucky and click here if you dare.}

  2. What is your favorite toy?
    Dinosaur toys because they are so cool.

  3. What is your favorite tv show?
    Paw Patrol because it has puppies and Chase is the best one.

  4. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
    Corn dogs at Mrs. Michale's, but I do NOT like her corn. Just dogs.

  5. What is your favorite movie to watch?
    Home because it's so funny when Oh goes crazy like this {insert crazy Owen dance}.

  6. What is your favorite game?
    Minecraft is a really cool game where you build a house and feed animals and sometimes kill them.

  7. What is your favorite animal?
    Rhinoceros because they're really big, they have horns, and they're really cool.

  8. What is your favorite song?
    Uptown Funk you up.

  9. Who is your best friend?
    Ace and Asher and Cotie.

  10. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
    Go on the trampoline because it's fun and when you fall down it doesn't hurt.

  11. What is your favorite drink?
    Chocolate milk because IT'S SO GOOD.

  12. Where is your favorite place to go?
    Grammy and Poppy's house because I like them so much.

  13. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Police officer because they have really cool suits.

  14. What is your favorite thing to play with Nathan?
    Play Minecraft on the phone together and then eat snacks and drink.

  15. What is your favorite thing about Nora?
    That she likes being really crazy and playing with me and Nathan.

  16. What do you like to do with Mommy?
    Play outside with her.

  17. What do you like to do with Daddy?
    I like to cook food with him, like pancakes.

  18. What makes you laugh?
    Nathan being crazy when he punches my face, I mean... goes cray cray.

  19. What's your favorite thing to do at preschool?
    Play outside with Ace. We kind of like to play jail.

  20. What is the best thing about your birthday?
    Opening presents! And I like to play games and eat cake and see my friends.

I know you don't have anything better to do than compare the above answers to last year's, so I'll make it easy:
Click here, here, and here for past Owen interviews. Happy Thursday, y'all.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Girls Weekend: No Kids Allowed


There are moments in parenthood when must reach your arm up through piles of Pop Tart crumbs and empty Carpi Suns and wave the white flag.

I reach this boiling point often, but I recently fixed it by recharging in one of the best ways I know how: by leaving. It wasn't nearly as dramatic as throwing clean undies in the car and driving into the sunset, but the matter was just as pressing. Two of my bloggers-turned-buddies and I had been talking about trading the mom life for a girls' weekend, and we knew it wouldn't happen until we tacked it onto the calendar. So we tacked it. We found a little lakeside cabin in Hot Springs and put our names down for the last weekend in February.

Then we watched the minutes drag slower with each passing day.

Fast-forward through a grueling number of weeks and I jumped for joy when Karen and Alicia pulled into my driveway. Armed with zero diapers, zero blankies, and maybe a brown bag special, we lit up the highway. The weekend was spent laughing into all hours of the night, wasting the days with no responsibilities, and enjoying long dinners with cocktails and no highchairs. It was bliss. Here's what we did by way of bullet points:


  • We went to Fat Bottomed Girls for cupcakes. We drove them up into the mountains, sat down at a picnic table with our solo community fork, and went to heaven. Best cupcakes I've ever tasted. Allow me to recommend the Creme Brulee.

  • We sat in the lobby of the Backporch Grill for an hour and I believe the entertainment provided as people poured in from the horse races was as good as the dinner {and the dinner was incredible}. Did I mention we sat down to dinner at 9:00? Who do we think we are?

  • We tried not to fall off the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. It was a success!

  • We sat on the couch in our rental and talked about all we needed to accomplish that day... and then we stayed in our pajamas for two more hours. And it DID NOT EVEN MATTER.

  • We barely turned on the television, but I don't think it was ever silent in that cabin. We had been collecting various in-person stories for months and we spilled. No censorship required.

  • We had time to not only browse the Wal-Mart beauty aisle, we actually purchased face masks and sat around wearing them like nobody's business.

  • We took to downtown Hot Springs on the first gorgeous day of 2016 with no agenda. We walked up the street making note of where we wanted to shop and took our time browsing on the way back down. We even decided we were hungry with no consideration for anyone but ourselves and ducked into a diner for some delicious late afternoon sandwiches.

  • We spent a fair amount of time in a soap store, standing around smelling soap. No one pulled on our shirts. No one spilled the giant tubs of bath salt. No one ate anything.

I'll sum it up with a simple question: When can we go back? Thank you, Alicia and Karen, for the friendship you've given me beyond blogging. I feel lucky to have met you both, and I'm ready for our next adventure. Thank you, Hot Springs, for the beautiful weekend and relaxing accommodations. Thank you, Jonathan, for making it a whole 48 hours without me. And finally, thank you, dear children, for driving me crazy enough to be in desperate need of such a fun weekend.

How do you do girls' weekend? Share in the comments as I vaccuum up Cheeto dust and petrified French fries.
Yes, it's back to business as usual.


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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dear March


It's one of my favorite months, y'all.

March brought my middle son, it means warmer air and longer days, and every year like clockwork it produces the happiest season. Sometimes it's a fickle month that brings a blanket of snow to cover the fresh clover and break our hearts, but {knock on wood} it seems the groundhog was right. I basically wrote a love letter to March yesterday so today I'm lining out what I'm looking forward to in March 2016. Let's go!

GARDEN. Oh my goodness, I am raring to get my hands in that dirt. Dirt is my favorite, and I miss it. I miss the smell of tomato plants, the joy of first cucumbers, and the hope that lies in a newly seeded bed. Also, this year I'll add beating meddling chickens with a broom to that list. Pumped.

BIRTHDAY. Owen will be five on Thursday. He will be a whole hand. He will be the acceptable age for kindergarten. I still don't want to talk about it.

SPORTS. Nathan is a few years removed from his peewee days, but Owen's first season is about to get going. I'm also looking forward to high school games starring several of my youth group kids. (and also stadium nachos...)

WEDDING. My sister-in-law has given me a brother-in-law! They were married in a private ceremony in January and we will be partying it up with a reception this month. Preston has been an instant addition to our family and Owen is obsessed with him. Stage Five Clinger obsessed {Sorry, Uncle Preston}.

BREAK. Spring Break is right around the corner and while we don't have huge plans, I know the zoo is a must. Nora June has never been and her face alone will be worth the hefty admission.

HOLY WEEK. Easter is one of my favorite holidays and I'm not just talking about snagging a chocolate bunny ear. Easter and the Week leading up to it is my favorite time of year in church. Those days not only bring the most beautiful liturgies, these days are the basis for my religion. Not only did Jesus give us an empty tomb, he carried his own cross to his death. It's sad, it's somber, but it's the reason we get to live.

There's my March in a nutshell. The countdown to spring has me so giddy I just might come back and post cute photos from the aforementioned events. You never know, really. So what's in your planner for March? Share in the comments, especially if you're craving dirty fingernails. Happy Saturday, y'all.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Hibernation


It's about time to wipe the sleep out of my eyes over here, I think.

Maybe you've noticed {or maybe you haven't, which is okay, too}. but there hasn't been much recent action in my designated spot on the Internet. Don't fret, this is not another brave reintroduction to blogging wherein I make promises and vow to entertain. This is simply a bounce back from hibernation.

Like a bear stumbling out of a cave into the sunlight, I felt drawn to once again put letters on a blank screen. Ta-dah!

Let me level with you, the time of year between Christmas and now is not my favorite. In fact, it's the worst. I fully believe the dreary, leafless days of winter are soul-sucking and they do a number on my ability to do things. Like go outside. Or stay focused. Or get dressed. Or... blog. I feel like my mind hibernates most of January and February. Sure, I wake up when the year rolls over to make grand announcements and renew my direction. Then I realize it's still cold and the garden is still dead.

After several weeks hiding beneath piles of blankets and hours of reruns, I start noticing. Jonquils start to dot the lazy highway of my work commute. The tulip tree in my yard transformed from death to shocking pink life overnight. Buds are forming. Grey skies are blue. The sun is warmer, the grass is greener, and the chickens are laying again! Hallelujah, inspiration! Spring slips in quietly, but that girl knows how to make an entrance.

I know it happens in the same pattern every year, but the first signs of spring save me. This is my New Year. This is my fresh start.


I didn't exactly avoid writing this post as a valiant return, so I'll end with a Bauer kid and/or livestock update, just in case you're a little curious:
Nathan: He's still loving the third-grade, especially on popcorn chicken and library day. He's also still rocking his piano lessons and he's very close to advancing past me. He's a quick learner, that one.
Owen: My baby boy recently joined his first soccer team and has less than a week until his fifth birthday. I don't want to talk about it.
Nora: This baby is crazy. Still growing an unkempt mass of curls and it suits her well. She's the biggest ham I know and an expert at funny faces and banana jokes.
Chickens: Due to an unfortunate recent situation, our flock of six is now four. However, it will be 10 next week. Stay tuned! Until then, have a happy Friday, my friends.


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