Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bauer Bunch Best Of {2017}

The sparkling juice is on ice {right beside the hard stuff}, and we're ready to ring it in!

My family is more than ready to welcome 2018. While most of that eagerness comes from getting to stay up four hours past bedtime, we all love a good start. I adore the feeling that comes with tossing a calendar into the trash and cracking open a fresh one. The Christmas decor is being boxed up as I type and we'll tidy this place until the fizzy drinks flow.

I like to take "clean slate" as literal as possible.

We are busy packing and storing 2017, but I do enjoy a good glance backward. Per the tradition I created for myself several years ago, the last blog post of each year is dedicated to a Top Ten list of my favorite posts. This year I decided to go beyond my favorite experiences or journal-style entries. We shared some great memories, but the blog entries I've included below are my favorite pieces of writing. The following words mean the most to me and I suppose that's okay since I made the rules. Throughout 2017 I tried to let my voice come out more in my writing, and I plan to amp that up in 2018. Heck, I'll even make it an official resolution.

Here's to reliving the good memories, reconciling with the bad, and allowing both to propel us forward. Cheers, y'all!

{Click the title or the photo to link to each full post.}

My Home
I am from piles of laundry and forgotten toys, from discarded school papers gleaming with praise and little pink shoes left in the hallway. I am from the ordinary house at the end of the row, nestled in the quiet cow pastures. From the yellow door that welcomes visitors and chickens that do the same.

You know how they always tell you to write what you know? Well at this particular juncture in my life... I know tomatoes. As the heat index dwindled from triple digits to still-sweltering doubles yesterday, I stepped outside wearing my pickin' apron. The weekend was full of fun away from home, so it had been a few days since I'd explored. I started picking.

Their Faces
I snapped the photo above yesterday afternoon at the request of my sister-in-law. She painted these pieces for me several years ago, and may or may not be working on another set for someone else. She wanted a reminder of them, so I happily obliged. Once I shared it with her, I returned them to my bedroom wall. I didn't think anything of it until this morning when I was scrolling through my phone photos and these three images caught my eye.

Valentine's Day: Then + Now
Eleven years ago Jonathan and I celebrated our first Valentine's Day together. Sitting on the couch in a tiny one-room apartment that cost us less than $400 a month {you read that right}, I watched him cook in our meager kitchen. We were engaged and counting down to our June wedding, blissfully unaware of how easy life was.

She Is More
She's not just the fluff of blonde curls slicing through the breeze on the front yard swing. She's not just the comic relief when she hits her punch line just right. She's not just the stubborn mule who'd rather stand on the back porch from dusk to dawn than take her boots off outside. She's not just a pair of twinkly blue eyes that wash away the aforementioned scenario. She's not just a round face, short fingers, and a high-voltage smile.

The Seedling
Since the moment I ripped open this year's seed packets, I have watched. On a warm day when timing was right, we began. The seeds were put into place and watered, and our patience was tested. In the few weeks between that moment and today, I have noticed beauty in the waiting. I've also seen an incredible alignment between parenting and gardening.

Each of My Kids
Each of my kids can ride a bike. One has a hot pink flower helmet and training wheels, but she can match her brothers' pace. All of my kids can open the refrigerator door, grab a juice box, and poke in the straw without help. All of my kids can write their names and identify numbers and sit still for a whole feature film.

Always Be
Last week one of my youth group girls asked me a simple question. I was unloading my flute from its case to practice the music for our upcoming Stations of the Cross. Fun Fact: I saved for months to buy that very open-holed flute when I was 16 years old to upgrade from my standard version. It was my first eBay purchase.
{It might have been one of the original eBay purchases.}

Joy in the Mourning
There's always a bit of poetry that comes with this time of year. We watch the old turn over to new as winter threatens to leave and we bounce between short sleeves and warm coats. Buds wait patiently for the perfect temperature, and we teeter on the brink of two lives. While there's all sorts of metaphors and similes and I could weave into this time of year and this season of life, it's been a difficult few weeks.

To The Graduates
Tonight the Hope High School Class of 2017 will walk across a stage, shake a hand, and peace out. Some will leave the auditorium in tears, some will leave clueless about their next step, and some will hit those doors and never look back. Still, that school will always be their first chapter, no matter what waits in the next one. When thinking of all these teenagers making their great escape, ready or not, the thought that hits me the hardest is how old I am.

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