Friday, October 24, 2014


Today I'm blogging over at Thrive Moms, talking about embracing chaos.

Because if there's one thing I'm familiar with, it's chaos. I only have two kids- two semi-well behaved girls at that...but together they're more than the sum of their parts. They become of force, intent on destruction. A tiny, giggling force, but still.  

 Chick-Fil-A must just love us. 

It's been fun for me to write for Thrive's a truly lovely group of girls, and they put out such inspiring truth-filled content. So if you haven't checked it out, please go... read... follow...

Oh- and for extra Thrive Moms fun, I made a little page here.

And P.S. Did you know they're hosting a free online retreat?
That means all the goodness of Thrive, right in your home. Or if you're a Columbus local (maybe even a member of Northchurch?) it's all the goodness of Thrive right in my home! I'm having a viewing party, and would love to have you join. You can check out the conference details here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best songs for little ears (with big opinions)

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For the last year or so, every car ride taken with Piper starts with two little demanding words: "MY MUSIC!" It's typically quickly followed with the nicer version (usually/always prompted by us...): "We listen to my music please?" And so we oblige, and crank up "ToDleR Jamzzzz" (ok. Just a kids themed Pandora station.

How did we get here? I ask myself.

Before I had kids....well actually....before I had a 2.5 year old, I sat firmly on my high horse of parental control. I didn't see any reason that having kids meant succumbing to kiddie music. A friend of mine told me every car ride with her family was met with the demand for "Julia Music"! What in the world is Julia music? I inquired. Duh. It's what their 3 yr old, Julia, calls kids songs. I scoffed, thinking (and probably saying, because I have no sense of when to keep my mouth shut) Well that will never be me. We listen to what we want. Piper doesn't have to even know about kids music. She'll just learn to love what we love. Kids shouldn't run the show, you just have to be smart about what you expose them to...

Um. Wrong.

We try to play "good" (our opinion anyway) music for the kids....But toddlers are smarter than I imagined. Somehow they know. They just intrinsically know about kids music. Piper heard it at school, or on a show, or at church...And she knows the difference between these little ditties, and the stuff we tried to raise her on. We've tried to expand her tastes, and take turns with radio controls, but
she knows what she wants. And she wants peppy, catchy, and made just for her (regardless if it makes my ears bleed). And I don't mean to paint myself as some musical purist, or a hipster tastemaker...I pretty much jam on some top 40 and various other guilty pleasures. But even to my pop-lovin' ears, kids music can be pretty painful. (And don't get me started on recordings of actual kids singing. I know it's supposed to be precious and irresistible...But I just can't tolerate it. I mean...unless it's this adorableness.)

So all that to say...We're on the hunt for some tolerable music geared towards kids. And thankfully...we've found some stuff we can work with...or even enjoy. And just in case you've found yourself in the same rockin' boat  mini-van, I thought I'd share some of our favorites: 

We started a toddler station on Pandora...Every song isn't a guaranteed winner, and it's still fairly repetitive, but we're working on it, and it's getting better. From a few song seeds, we've discovered all the above albums, and have at least a short list of our favs: 

Give a Little Bit by Renee & Jeremy
So hipster. So good.

A Place in the Choir by Terri Hendrix
Like riding Splash Mountain in heaven. Love.

Willoughby Wallaby Woo by Raffi
Raffi is like the Elvis/Beatles/Jesus of children's folk songs. Plus the song has names that rhyme with Dustin and Fin, so we're all in.

Three Little Ducks by Julie Frost
We teasingly mock how she oversings on this one, but she's still so obviously talented, and the style isn't refreshingly not cheesy.

This Little Light of Mine by Elizabeth Michell
Such a beautiful version of a classic. Love her voice.

Goodnight by Laurie Berkner
If you have kids, you know about Laurie Berkner. Fact. (or it is now...) Her stuff is a little cliche at times, but this song is just the sweetest, and has become part of our bedtime routine (with Piper yelling out other animal suggestions for new verses...anything to postpone actual sleeping). 

If All of the Raindrops by Laura Doherty
This song just makes me happy. So very happy. 

All I Want is You by The Vespers
Also so hipster. Also so good.

Shortnin' Bread by Caspar Babypants
A million kids songs. All with adorable album cover art. 

So that's what I know...But really I want to hear from you! What should we be listening to? What artists have you discovered who bridge the toddler/adult music gap? Do you have tips on getting your kids to listen to non-terrible stuff?

P.s. Check out my actual favorite kid's album, or read about how I'm so not a lyrical genius.
Oh- and we're working on another station specifically for lullabyes, which you can listen to here. It's pretty much 98% songs by The Piano Guys, and I'm ok with that.

*some affiliate links used.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Place in the Choir

You know those songs...that get into your heart. Those songs that every time you hear them, you're struck with the meaning and power. Those songs that take on much bigger significance than any melody and lyrics should truly be capable of...

Do you have one of those songs?

I'm sure you do. Maybe it's some hymn or worship song, or a song you used to listen to, that now reminds you of a hard time you went through, or a song your Grandma sang to you when you were little.

I think we all have those songs.
But one of mine- is about a possum. And a bullfrog. And a donkey.

A Place in the Choir, sung by Terri Hendrix

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

For some reason, this song just gets me. The verses are kind of crazy...but the chorus. Every time I hear that chorus all I can picture is Heaven. Well also...I picture the end portion of the Disney ride Splash Mountain, with all of the animals singing and celebrating...but that actually makes me think of heaven too. I realize that sounds a little nuts, and I don't really have an biblical knowledge that can back up my prediction that Heaven is one big banjo party with Southern "critters" running (and singing) around everywhere. But I just love the joy of the song. And beyond that, the idea of all these different critters- myself included- just coming to God as we are, throwing up our hands, or paws, or anything we've got to praise Him...that's powerful.

The girls and I were listening to it on the way to dinner this weekend, and I couldn't resist trying to get Piper to catch my vision...

Me: Do you know what this song is about, Pipes? 
Piper: Yeah. 
Me: Really...what?
Piper: I don't know. 
{BTW: that's our exchange every single time I ask her a "do you know...?" question. I've tried to explain that she can say "no" the first time, but to no avail...}
Me: Well, God created all the animals and people, and everything on earth, and they're all different. So when it says that they all have a place in the choir, that means we all belong. We can all play together, and He loves all of us exactly the way we are...
Piper: .....Mom? Can you turn the song up.

So. She obviously totally got it.

I stifled the urge to force any more folk-song philosophy into my uninterested toddlers, but I still think about it every time that song comes on (which in our kid-mobile, is kind of a lot). I could wax on this for quite a while, probably pulling entirely too much meaning out of some lyrics about a quiet possum, or crazy porcupine...But as silly as it is, I'm just so thankful for the truth of it. God created me and my critters (and you and yours) and He has a place for every single one of us and our gifts.
I'll be clapping my paws to that idea today.

Background watercolor by Katherine Jury, via Design Love Fest. Font is Channel.

P.s.  Another old-school uplifting jam of mine, and a reminder that God loves us as we are.

Monday, October 13, 2014


House update time! Because somehow, we haven't done a tour since June!

I realized when visiting family in Philly, that I haven't done a great job of filling people in on our house. Sure, we've done the video walk throughs, but I haven't really written about our place much, which is a shame because WE ARE IN LOVE. So to give you the details, but spare you a novel, I'll give you a list of highlights:
  1. It's 10 minutes from my mom (and 8 from my brother, and 6 from my sister and 20 from my dad and 12 from our new church). There are no real words for how awesome that is.
  2. It's gloriously suburban. That means it doesn't come with much character-it looks almost identical to its 157 beige neighbors- but it does come with...(list within a list time!!):
    • drywall (vs. plaster)
    • more than one bathroom
    • sidewalks
    • a flat back yard (that's practically fenced in)
    • an attached garage
    • no "must do" projects
  3. Gorgeous Ohio landscape. I know, I know, not everyone appreciates the glory of the Midwestern plains ...But our property backs up to a little nature preserve field, so it's all the beauty of having a few acres, with none of the work to take care of it. And I swear to you we've had a photo-worthy sunset every night this month (Dustin rolls his eyes as I carry the kids around the house- literally walking in a loop around the exterior of our house- looking for all the different colors we can spot.)
  4. It comes with amazing neighbors. Kids, dogs, playmates, Powerwheels, homemade pumpkin bread, after-work beers...This place has it all. I'm loving getting to know everyone, and forming a little village where we look after each other.
This may not look like much, but this: is my village. And when I come around the bend after a far too long day at work, and I see my family and neighbors, and home (and a sunset!), my heart is full. So thankful for this village. #houseofbowden

So that's some of the behind-the-scenes emotion of it all...But what about the behind-the-blog decor updates of it all? For that- we have video!
I have to tell you, that when we shot this video a couple weeks ago, I was positive we had already done an updated video tour of the house without boxes. Well...I was totally wrong. Turns out the last one we posted basically looked like the inside of a storage locker (plus some beds). So as a result, this video is pretty much an endless stream of me mistakenly saying "we haven't really done anything here" or "that's not really new", when in reality, compared to the state of things in June, we've actually done a lot. No, we haven't painted anything, or done anything that can actually be considered a home improvement project. But we sure have unpacked a lot....and strewn it about the house to create a thoroughly "lived-in" look. So.....there's that.

But truly- my goal in these videos isn't to wow you. (I mean...thank goodness...or I would be fail-ING.) It's just to capture the everyday-ness of our everyday. I intentionally didn't clean up before shooting mostly because I hate cleaning up, but also because I want to show it how it really is...a bit chaotic, a bit unfinished, a BIG bit messy, but still- home. And to that point, this is the first video in the new house where we have our kids running around in the background. Turns out they're also a bit chaotic, a bit messy- and a BIG bit loud (and only semi-clothed). So: real.

And along those lines- as a final caveat before we get to the fun stuff-  do people ever watch themselves on video and say, "MAN. I look awesome. My mannerisms are in no way annoying, my voice sounds adorable, and all the additional angles I don't typically witness really just enhance my already sky-high self-image!"?  I would like to meet these people. And punch them in their perfect teeth.

So with that....I give you the latest tour of The Bowden Home:

Ps. you can see all of our house updates on our "home page" (internet pun!), view #houseofbowden pics on IG, or check out the homestead archives. AND...remember when our little nuggets were even nuggetier? Ah-dorableness.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Little Pip-speaks: Volume 11

Pip-speak #1: Piper: I getting bigger, LOOK!...I'm gonna be a big kid!
Mama: What do big kids do?
Piper: Sit in big chairs and everything...

Pip-speak #2:
Piper: Where should we put my toy squirrel?
Mama: You mean so Fin doesn't get it? We'll have to put it somewhere she can't reach.
Piper: Probably in the treetops...Or maybe in the doggie! {the bank Piper uses to hides her money}

Pip-speak #3:
Piper: I got a purple phone. 
{holds hand to her cheek as an imaginary cell phone}
Piper: I'll be home in a couple minutes. 
Mama: Who you callin'? Daddy?
Piper: Yeah. And Fin....Hi Fin-a! I bought you a new toy!

Pip-speak #4:
Piper: Coco layed down on the couch. 
Mama {confused}: Yeah?
Piper {matter of fact}: Yeah. 
Mama: Coco who?
Piper {giggling}: Cocoa BEAN!
Mama {giggling}: I don't know what you're talking about. Is Coco a person?
Piper: No. Coco's a boy. 

Pip-speak #5:
Piper {Regarding a at the fair}: What's that carrot thing under his bummie?

Pip-speak #6:
Daddy: Do you know we'll always love you? And Mommy will always be your mommy. And Daddy will always be your daddy. 
Piper: And Finley will always be FINLEY!

Pip-speak #7:
Piper: Why we buying a card? 
Mama: We're getting it for my friend [a friend with cancer], because she's sick and we want to cheer her up!
Piper: She sick? Because her sister had her cup?

Pip-speak #8:
Piper: I never seen black cows before. 
Mama: What kind have you seen?
Piper: Polka dots!
Pip-speak #9:
Piper {Regarding Fin's shoes}: Why she wearing those shoes?
Mama: Because these are the only ones that fit her. 
Piper: We need to get shoes for her little cyubby feet! [we're still working on the "ch" noise]

Pip-speak #10:

Piper: When it's past your bedtime the moon comes up. And you don't get any books. 

P.s. more Pip Quips here. Or you can watch her jam on the tambourine if that's more your speed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Show Your Real: Sarah

I "met" (in the creepy-internet sense) Sarah a few months ago when she asked if I would be willing to join her as a guest on her podcast series. (You can check out my episode, or read my recap.) I had so much fun chatting with her, and I love the focus of her blog- stories from a "recovering perfectionist in pursuit of living a B+ life." She's a fan of the Show Your Real thing we have going on here, so I'm delighted that she's returned the favor, and will be sharing with you guys today as a part of that series. 
How does the idea of "Show Your Real" resonate with you..why did you want to participate and share?

As a recovering perfectionist attempting to be B+, I’m all about real. My one little word for this year? Real. I spent years of my life chasing perfection and trying to be the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect employee, and the perfect mom, the perfect wife. But the closer I got to turning 30, I decided chasing perfection is no longer a worthy goal. I realized that trying to be perfect was putting up barriers between me and other people. I’d much rather be me, imperfections and all, and really connect with other people, on a real level.

What misconceptions might people have about your life at first glance?

Ha! I’m pretty transparent. So I hope no one thinks I’ve got it all together. When my friends ask me how I am at preschool drop off, I answer with how I really am. And some days, it’s not so good!
Sometimes when I read blogs and scroll through Instagram, I think, wow, that person has the perfect life. She’s beautiful, has lovely children who always seem to be clean and in matching clothes, lives in an amazing home, and man, I wish I had that designer handbag she has!

I hope no one thinks my life is perfect based on my blog or Instagram feed. Because it’s definitely not. Dan and I snap at each other. I’ve raised my voice at my kids. I’m definitely not perfect. I probably have some stuff going on that I’m not going to share because some of it’s not my story to tell. And I think that’s the key, remembering that you’re only seeing a fraction of someone, whether it’s a blogger you love or a mom at preschool pick up.  We’re all just doing our best.

What are some of your patterns and routines for a “typical” day?

I get up early!  The early morning is the only time when I’m guaranteed some time alone. I get up around 5:30 a.m. to either teach a group fitness class or train/practice for another class.  I get so much energy from exercise, which I desperately need to make it through the day.

I finish up around 7 a.m. and the kids are waking up at this point. Dan, the kids, and I walk the dog right when they get up. I often feed the kids breakfast in the stroller. They always seem to eat more in the stroller than they do at the table!

Dan and I love walking together. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. We chat about what’s on our minds, our schedule for the day/week, what we want for dinner that night, etc…

When we get back, I jump in the shower while Dan manages the kids. Then he gets in the shower, and I take over. I drink my coffee (over the summer I transitioned to drinking my coffee black, and I’m loving it.) and eat breakfast while I check on that day’s blog post, check in on Twitter and Facebook, flip through some blogs. I usually have to hurry through this since I’ve got to get Kate ready for school, which could take 5 minutes or 55 minutes, depending on her mood. During the school year, Michael and I get Kate off to school by 9 a.m. then Michael and I either run errands or we head to one of his music classes, or a combination of errands and playdates.

After we pick up Kate from school, we play at the park for a bit before heading home for lunch and Michael’s nap. While Michael naps, I work at a frantic pace, writing posts, taking pictures, responding to email, checking comments, do some work for my part-time job, etc…Since I know I’ve only got a few short hours, I try to stay as productive as possible.

While I try to work, Kate tries to interrupt me as many times as possible ;) Sometimes I’m playing the Princess Cupcake Matching Game while also on a conference call. Or I’m playing beauty salon while editing photos or writing blog posts.It’s definitely not preferable to work like this, but right now, it’s what I’ve got to work with. And something done is better than nothing!

What does the balance/mix of work/chores/family time/rest/etc look like in your home?

This is huge struggle for us right now since we don’t have our own space. In our new house, I’ll have an office, so I won’t have my work scattered on the kitchen table along with preschool crafts and the remnants from our latest meal. Right now our life is pretty stressful as we finish up our house.
We will move in right before the holiday season, so I’m hoping to make our home a peaceful place with more time for fun and rest to make up for how crazy it’s been for the past eight months. 

What are the hardest parts of your current season of life? And the best parts?

Right now, I’m all about the toggle. Toggle, toggle, toggle. From one thing to the next. I very much dislike flying by the seat of my pants. I never used to be this type of person! Never! I used to be punctual (on time was late for me!), put together, organized, etc…

My husband and I are about a month away from moving into our new home. We’ve been in the building process for just about a year now and out of our home for eight months. We’re very fortunate to be living with my parents while our house is being built. But, seven people and two large dogs sharing one home is…a bit overwhelming for everyone involved!

I’m working part-time (from home mostly, some meetings, some things I need to do outside the home), teach group fitness classes about four times a week, and put my all into my blog. Trying to do those things 100% while still being the primary caretaker of our small children and not living in our own space is challenging. Extremely challenging. My car has become my mobile office.

But there are bright spots – like how sweet it is that my parents and my kids have this time together. My kids are my parent’s only grandchildren, and they’ve been able to watch them grow up, daily!  That’s pretty cool. I love listening in as my Dad reads Kate bedtime stories or when my Mom and Kate have a spa night and paint their nails. And it’s so sweet to watch Michael sit on my Dad’s lap and eat ice cream.  It makes all the stress of this situation melt away.


Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often suface-cy interactions of social media. And you're all invited to participate! Please write, caption, comment, link, and hashtag to spread the #showyourreal love. And if you would like to contribute a guest post to the series, please email me (

Friday, October 3, 2014


If I was really going to share my latest pins with you, I'd have to post about 1,347 halloween costume ideas (I went on a pinning-spree the other night and may have saved all the costume pictures to my account. I kept them on my secret board though so I didn't 1: looks like a crazy person, and 2: give away all my ideas before settling on this year's costumes. Gotta keep up some mystery...) So instead, this round of Obsesspins is just a handfull of non-Halloween pretties. Enjoy!

Current Obsesspins

Can you have too many giant gold cocktail rings? Never. (This one is sold out, but that doesn't make it not beautiful.)
Ok, I know I probably pin way too many pretty, slightly cheesy quotes, but I'm a sucker for a sunset pic, and swirly type. Plus I really do like this sentiment- we're always just trying to keep things moving around here, even if we're not 100% sure where we're headed. We'll get there...somewhere...someday...
There's about a million reasons my hair will never look like this, but hey- a girl can dream. (hence the name "dream hair").
Ok, I cheated and put a Halloween costume in here...but seriously, this Chia pet makes me laugh so hard. I almost want a dog just to dress him up. Maybe the neighbors will let me borrow one of theirs...
Still working (in theory) on designing the girls' bedrooms (or perhaps shared bedroom....someday?) Love this "mingo" for Piper. (And the rest of the picks in this great little round up of nursery art)

You have any Obsesspins worth sharing? Or are you saving things in secret Pin hoarding shame like me?

P.s. Check out previous editions of Obsesspins. And follow me on Pinterest!