Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Solly Baby + Oh Joy!

If I were to list all the the things I'm passionate about, here's a few things that would be near the top of the list: 
Design, motherhood, blogging, authenticity, creativity, hard work...
(yes, there are big giant family/faith things on the list as well, and of course some littler passions like Coke Slushies/afternoon naps that would make the cut for sure, but stick with me, I'm headed somewhere with this...)

So to have all of these topics come together in one post? Oh yeah...that's the stuff. 

I was chatting with the team at Solly Baby, kicking around a few ideas for a feature on their brand when they mentioned they had a designer collaboration coming up, and offered to have me interview Elle (the Solly founder) and the guest designer. Heck, yeah! Oh- and then? They announced that the partnership was with Joy Cho of Oh Joy! Stahhhhhhp it...

So I acted cool completely geeked out, and set up some time to chat with them. If you're familiar with either Solly Baby or Oh Joy! I don't have to tell you that a collaboration between them is pretty much guaranteed awesome.

I could go on and on about how beautiful the wraps are, how fun the Oh Joy! limited edition print is  and how talented both of these designers are...But for me, the story goes way beyond the product. It's really about the passion each of these women have for what they do. I was honored to have a chance  to talk with them, and I'm thrilled to share pieces of their experiences and perspectives. 

(OK...inspiring business ladies aside, the wrap is pretty awesome...And that baby might be just perfect):
Click to read the full story...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mothers and Daughters: Raising Sisters

Today I'm honored to be guest posting for the lovely and talented (and mom of a brand new baby girl) Mary Evelyn at What Do You Do, Dear?

I'm joining in her Mothers and Daughters series, sharing my take on Raising Sisters.
And as usual- I'm giving you signature Bowdenisms wisdom {sarcastic smiley emoji}: 
So it's always been a huge priority for me to teach them what sisters means....With a three year old and an almost two year old, it typically plays out something like this:  
"Do you know what being sisters means?! DO you!? Well...um...It means.....It means that you care for each other, and if she's crying, you give her the last purple fruit snack, because not everyone has a sister, and you're so lucky, so there you have it and you're welcome!"
Head over to Mary Evelyn's to read the full post.  {P.S. If you watched- and loved- the TV series Parenthood..this one's for you...}
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 15


Pip-speak #1:
Piper {eating new, animal shaped fruit snacks}: I like the pink one. It's a grand-hog. Wait, no. It's a piggie. No..it's a rabbit!

Pip-speak #2:
Piper {hearing me describe a high school play}: That sounds lots of boring. 

Pip-speak #3:
Mama: How was your day, Piper?
Piper: Fin was a handful!
(I found out later this was based on a comment she made to G'mi regarding Fin eating Piper's fruit snacks: "When she does things like that we call her a handful. Just like in Fancy Nancy, She is a handful.")

Pip-speak #4:
Piper {playing with one of her stuffed animals}: I rinsed his hair down. Now he looks pretty like a boy.

Pip-speak #5:
Piper {excited to get a cotton-candy lollipop at the bank}: It's cotton ball flavored!
{then...after eating it..}: We have to brush my teeth before I go to bed because I have a lollipop tooths.

Pip-speak #6:
G'mi{pointing out some helper dogs at the grocery store}: Look, Piper, those dogs are working today. 
Piper: Where do they put their money? Do they put it in their vests?

Pip-speak #7:
Piper: Carnivores eat meat. 
Mama: That's right! Do you know what omnivores eat? 
Piper: No
Mama: Everything
Piper: Yeah. They eat meat, plants, fwies. 
Daddy: No I don't think they eat flies. 
Mama: I think she's saying fries. 
Daddy: Are you saying fries?
Piper: Fwies
Daddy: Flies?
Piper: Fwies. 
Mama & Daddy: Ohhhhh....???

Pip-speak #8:
Piper {early one morning before school}: I need a weekends.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

A bad stitchfix...and how to fix it

Remember Stitchfix? Ok, you probably never forgot, because it's constantly all over the blogosphere, but it's been a while since I had a fix of my own. Actually...It's been about a year and a half. I didn't have anything against it, per se...I guess I just didn't have a huge need for clothes. And/or, I was constantly transitioning between sizes, so the idea of someone else finding a good fit for me seemed a little unlikely. But then I went and got knocked up, and serendipitously they just announced they're now offering maternity clothes (and petite sizes...but I don't know nothin' 'bout that.) So though I have a good bit of maternity wear (or more accurately, non-maternity but big-like-a-sack wear) I figured I'd give it a shot again. I made some quick updates to my profile, and scheduled my fix.

The day it arrived, Dustin tossed the box to me on the front lawn, and I unpacked my goodies with my neighbor-friends while the kids ran amok. And as excited as I was to give the maternity stuff a shot...I was a little underwhelmed with my assortment. There were a couple cute pieces, but overall it just didn't live up to my expectations. I brought it all in to try on (and snap awkward selfies to blog about, obviously...) and as I completed my fashion show, I realized that my stylist hadn't done me wrong, really. It was more that I set her up to fail. See- the Stitchfix stylists are good, but they're not mind readers, and I think I had just as much of a hand in the missteps as my girl Kate did. So if you're thinking about scheduling a fix of your own, please learn from my mistakes.

First of all, let me just say that my fix wasn't terrible. It was actually all pretty close to my style...But as a whole, I just felt like it missed the mark somehow, and while all the pieces were just fine, none of them were wow-worthy.

Stitchfix Fix #1: Be Specific
I realized the biggest miss in my box...it was stuff more suited to cold weather when I was hoping for Summer. But did I tell them that I wanted Summer threads? Nope. Sure, Spring is on its way, so I'm sure they have seasonality in mind, but if I was really hoping for warm-weather duds, I should have said so. And even worse- I realized that some of my answers to the survey questions probably lead them astray. There's a section about what parts of your body you like to flaunt, and I answered it pretty conservatively...mostly in an effort to avoid short dresses, or thin strapped tanks. I may have overcompensated a bit, and let them to believe long sleeves were the way to go. Next time, I'll just put my limitations and wishes in the notes section. Based on the personalized notes they send (so cute!) I know they read every word, so if I had just thought things through a bit I might have realized I wasn't being totally clear. They're not mind readers...so more info is never a bad thing.

Stitchfix Fix #2: Pin it to Win it
One of the coolest parts of the Stitchfix profile is that you can link to a Pinterest board, in order to give them a better sense of what you love. Fun! So I sent them my Fashion board, and waited for the perfect picks to roll in...

Well...not so perfect. (ok...I actually like the plaid poncho..maybe more for September than now...But the vest? No thanks). But before I hated on the vest too much, I remembered that maaaaaybe I had a ton of vest pins on my Pinterest board. I have a green utility vest that I actually really love, but I struggle a little with knowing how to style it, so I pinned a bunch of inspiration looks to help me put together more outfits with it. But Stitchfix doesn't know that...they probably just think I really like vests. Whoops.

Also I realized after re-looking at my board, I have a lot of fall looks in there...Or looks that I sort of like for one reason or another, but my reasons might not be totally clear without explanation. So while my Pinterest board wasn't exactly hurtful, I'm not sure it was very helpful either. Stitchfix actually suggests creating a board specifically for your stylist- with looks, pieces, colors etc. that you love. You can even write notes in the captions of the pins to clarify what you like about the pic (rather than just re-pinning whatever non-sense pops up there, like I do on 99% of my pins). I think taking a little bit of time to curate the collection of what I showed them, would have gone a long way to helping them nail my style and wishes.

Stitchfix Fix #3: Get Adventurous
Ok...in a lot of ways...Stitchfix can't win with me. If they give me something that is too "out there", I hate it and send it back. But if they send things that fit in perfectly with my style, then I get disappointed that it's not special, and just blends in with the other 37 grey/navy/stripe/cotton t's I already have. Yeah. I'm a difficult customer.

Do I love that grey t? Yeah. It's ridiculously comfy, has some cool subtle texture on the sleeves, and fits great. But....do I already own at least four similar pieces? Probably. And even if not, it's hard to get too jazzed about something so simple. Even if it's totally in my comfort zone (literally and figuratively). (Full disclosure...I might keep this anyway. I'm a creature of habit, who can't even follow her own advice.)

So next time, I'm going to convince myself to take some risks. I still believe in being honest on the survey (with them and with yourself). There are colors I don't like (and I'm just never going to like) and pieces that just don't work for me (hey there, pencil skirts) so let's not waste our time. But if, for example, I have the urge to try more florals, or wear more maxi dresses, Stitchfix is a fun way to experiment a little, without the commitment. By all means, tell your stylist what you don't like and what you don't need, but then be sure to be at least a little open minded about trying something new when that little patterned box arrives.
Have you tried Stitchfix yet? Did you love it? Or did it leave you wanting more? I think half the fun of Stitchfix is the surprise, and with a little bit of thought, you can set yourself up for a good surprise. 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Three: Is a Magic Number

Three. As in....Baby Bowden #3.

Are you surprised? Excited? Completely over it?

Well, regardless, we're thrilled to add to our our brood, and just as excited to be able to share the news with everyone. B-3 (is that going to catch on? Somehow, I don't think so...) is due to arrive on September 3, 2015, which just so happens to be the day before our 10th wedding anniversary. I'm pretty sure the traditional gift for ten years is "a human", right?

Piper is super excited (though she forgets about it 98% of the time, focusing her attention instead on Netflix Kids, fruit snacks, and throwing fits if we misunderstand her request for the blue cup, no not that one, the other blue one, oh the humanity waaaaahhhhhhh...)

And Fin- Well, Fin is Fin.

 I'm about 15.5 weeks now (but who's counting...?) so I'm feeling good, and looking big. (Do you know when one starts "showing" with one's third baby? The answer is about five minutes after one pees on a stick.) We plan to find out the gender, but have to wait until the 20 week ultrasound, so until then, it's anyone's guess. (Though "Are you hoping for a boy?" is high on the list for most asked question this time around...along with, "Whoa, 3?" and "Were you trying? Like..was this on purpose?") I don't tend to dignify those types of inquiries with a real response, but our "official party line" is that we'll be equally excited- and completely freaked out- no matter what the gender. (Three girls is no joke...But adding a boy? Is sort of terrifying as well. Come to think of it: whoa, three? Who's idea was this anyway?)

I make no secret that two babies is tough stuff, so I'm pretty sure adding a third is going to be completely bananas...at least for the first 18 years or so. But as much as these wild monkeys wear me out, I still can't get over the fact that we get to meet an entirely new person, call them family, and love them forever. I mean...it really doesn't get better than that.

 Once upon a time, Piper was just about the best thing that ever happened to us, and getting to know her convinced me we just had to do it all again...We got Fin, another just about the best thing that ever happened to us. And very early after her arrival, I looked at her perfect, little, permanently surprised face, and just knew that she wasn't the end. That there were more Bowden babies out there for us (I hoped/prayed...)

 So it turns out there is indeed at least one more little Bowden Baby, and we're a mere six months from meeting him or her. I just can't wait.

This calls for a Pinterest-Chalkboard-Photoshoot-Fail GIF, wouldn't you say?
(not pictured, the mid-shoot Time Out, goldfish cracker/bribe spill, break for Easter books/more bribery, and redo's 1-4 of the chalkboads because somebody-x2 can't keep their feet off of my "art". That's right, folks...these pics are the highlight reel.)

Thank you to so many of you who have already congratulated us in person...and thank you to all of you who are following along and sharing in our joy- past, present and future: three.

P.S. More gif-tastic gender reveal fun: Baby #1 and Baby #2.

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Friday, March 13, 2015


Who's ready for the most original blog post idea ever?

(I hope there are no hands in the air, and we can all move along with what I have planned for today...)

It's been a long week (says me, every Thursday night...) but rather than dwell on the not-so-fun of it all, I thought I'd make a list of all the little lovelies I've been noticing recently (or should noticed, but can at least recognize in hindsight). So- in no particular order, here are some very awesome things about our right now-ish:
  • The delightful weather. And yes, I call 40's and foggy delightful, because anything is better than the 60 straight days of sub zero temps we just emerged from. Low standards are a silver lining!
  • Our new towel hook, shaped like a mermaid. 
  • Showing up in matching Johnny Cash outfits to church with my mom: 
  • "Reading" the bible every night, and answering questions like, "Why the snake not listening?" "What's obey?"
  • House of Cards Season 3. And the Serial Podcast. And Mad Men Season 2.
  • Crazy hair: 
  • A new cleaning lady. Yes, I spent the entire evening before making everyone (mostly me) clean up for the cleaner, but still...worth it. 
  • The "outfit" Piper picked out for me: 
  • Little girls in big raincoats (you gotta just trust me, without a visual)
  • When it's still light outside at 7:30
  • Actually taking a picture with my real live camera for a change:

(Their TGIF list includes Breakfast Picnics, Wild Kratts and Stealing Your Sister's Bacon when She's Watching Wild Kratts)

I could probably go on...and on...Funny how many blessings you have when you actually sit down to count them...TGIF indeed.
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Friday, March 6, 2015

(my) kids these days

You know the saying: If you don't have anything nice to say...

Well I think it probably doubly/triply/million-ly applies to blogging. No one wants to hear whining and complaining. Certainly they don't want to read it either.

So while I see the value in being real and answering even the most surface-y "How are you?"s with at least a moderately honest answer,..I also know that sometimes it's best to slap on a smile, rather than drone on about the current mundane injustices of my existence. So for this week's update, I'll save you the saga, and just go with: I don't have many nice things to say about Three. (as in: Piper's age. As in, the age that stole my baby and dropped a mad-woman in her place).

It's been rough going, recently, partly because of all the transitions, but also just because...well because sometimes things are rough. I've been trying to be honest about it without turning into a big ungrateful whiner. But sometimes it's hard to remember that the tough patches will pass. And sometimes the difficulties of right now tend to eclipse the light at the end of the tunnel.

But I had to laugh a little when I saw an old post sitting in my drafts...It's from about a year and a half ago, when I was deep in 2 under 2 territory. As you can imagine, that was a tough patch too. A tough patch we did indeed get through. So I can laugh at how awful it was at the time, and how familiar it all sounds now. And I can remember that these beautiful monsters are not one-and-a-half forever (thank goodness), or three forever (thank goodness), or anything forever. I'm not quite ready to admit I'll miss this someday...but I at least know it'll feel different in hindsight than it does in the thick of it. Thank goodness.

Originally Written August 2013: 
Things I Did Today to (cruelly and intentionally, obviously) Ruin Piper's Life:
  • Looked at her in the rear view mirror
  • Made her hold my hand in the parking lot
  • Tried to take a video of her
  • Offered to show her an iPhone video of Fin instead of just Piper
  • Followed her too closely while she climbed the stairs. 
  • Even suggested I leave the room ever for two minutes without letting her come with me
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