Friday, July 31, 2015

Life in the Lunchroom

Do you remember your high school cafeteria? Do you remember how each table was reserved for particular cliques? Jocks here, drama club over there, band geeks  I mean members at that one...
Ok...maybe I'm actually thinking the movie Mean Girls, but I still think there is a bit of truth to it. It may not have been quite so segregated and stereotypical in real life, but I do remember the feeling that you had to find your niche with a particular group, or be left eating your sandwich at the little round table by the lunch room monitor's station.

And though I'm a long way from my high school days, I still sometimes feel like the odd one out. I'm a grown up now, and with that comes a lot of new groups and new labels, but in the end, I'm sometimes still a girl tentatively carrying my lunch tray, looking for somewhere to sit...somewhere to fit.
Should I sit with the moms? Maybe, but a bunch of them stay at home with their kids...I couldn't hide that I can't (or don't want to) do that. 
What about the working women? Well...I kind of fit in there, but will they give me side-eye when I have to leave early to make daycare pick up in time? 
I could join that Christian table...but...I'm not sure they'd understand how I work in such a shallow/superficial field. And what if politics comes up? Yikes.
I can't quite find that table that's perfectly suited to me. In my mind, it's a mix of overlapping labels, which look a little like this:



Different people might understand different parts of me. Some people can relate to some things. But that precise area in the center of all the circles is pretty small, and sometimes it feels like a table with seating for one. 
I'm torn between multiple things, none of which feel like a totally accurate descriptor. I'm a little of this, but not like that. I love this, but I also really value that. I do this, but that doesn't mean I don't also believe in that.

I'm a mom of two, with another one on the way. In the corporate world, that makes me a bit of an anomaly. But at church, where three kids is the norm, or maybe even on the low end of the spectrum, my passion (or personal need, even) for pursuing a full-time career, even while juggling the needs of multiple little ones, isn't something everyone identifies with. I love branding and marketing and all things creative, but I know there's so much more to life than selling jeans, undies, jam, or ice cream (though that is pretty fun!). I'm a little bit of a lot of things, but nothing entirely.

But the difference between high school me, and grown-up me (or difference anyway...let's not dwell on some of the other changes...) is that I now realize that the idea of anyone fitting 100% into any one category is impossible. And I realize I'm not alone in feeling caught between different worlds. Your circles might look different- you might be an adoptive mom, or an entrepreneur, or a missionary, or a single woman...or any number of things. But I bet you've felt alone at times, like you're the only one trying to make that exact combination of circles work. 
And if that's true, then I have to think that there are probably more women than I think, who are sharing my teeny tiny sliver of space, and even more who feel a similar pull of multiple identities, even if they're different than my own. Maybe no two people have the exact same combo, but it's good to remember that we're all more than just one thing. Moms, and workers, and dreamers, and reality show fans, and volunteers, and...and...and...
We don't have to be one thing. We don't have to fit at one table. Or maybe we can, because it's bigger and more diverse than we ever thought.

So what are some of the labels you're trying to balance and embrace? And how do you go about finding your metaphorical lunch-mates who share some of your overlaps?

I'm thrilled to be partnering with Lily Jade, makers of a line of bags that works for mom-me (converts to backpack, and has washable/removable lining? yes please!), business professional-me (the pockets! so many pockets!),  fashionista-me (mmmm, leather!), and all the versions and combos in between. {Madeline diaper bag care of Lily Jade. All thoughts (and insecurities) are my own}

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why 3?

Pretty much the minute we had Fin, I looked at Dustin in complete earnest and said “We’re not done.”
Ok…it might have been about a week after we brought her home, vs. the moment we met her, but it was still pretty clear (to me) pretty early on that she was not our last baby. I don’t know how to explain the feeling, I just vividly remember sitting on my couch, snuggling our sweet little newborn nugget, and knowing, just knowing that our family wasn’t complete. I don’t mean to suggest that my two girls aren’t enough, they’re actually more than enough (in a positive “I can’t believe out blessed we are” way, as well as a “oh man, these kids are too much” kind of way.) I just felt like we had more babies out there (not sure where “there” is, other than the theoretical ether), and though I didn’t want more rightthatsecond, I did know I wanted more someday. Dustin predictably thought I was crazy. I mean…we did have two kids under two at the time, so I can see why he maybe wasn’t too thrilled about entertaining talks of a third yet. So it took him a while to come around to the idea…like…a year and a half…but eventually we agreed that we wanted a third.

So now that a third baby is more of a reality than a theory (about one month out from my due date), I’ve been reflecting on how we got here. Not literally (I get that part), but why we decided to travel this crazy path, other than my addition to smelling fuzzy baby heads. Since we’ve announced our pregnancy, tons of people have questioned our desire for a third. Sometimes outright- with direct “Was this planned?” rudeness, but usually just out of curiosity, as three isn’t the norm in a lot of society. The American standard hovers around two kids (2.06 if you follow this chart) so to some, having three seems like some sort of fundamentalist/reality show craziness.

And to be honest, it seems a little crazy to me too. My nephew (age 7) actually asked me the other day, “Aunt Courtney, do you think you can handle three babies?” I laughed and answered him confidently: “No sir, I do not.” And that’s the truth, I have no idea how we're going to handle it (good news is it’s more like two children + one baby, but point stands). Frankly I don't know how we handled one or two at the time. We had no clue, and still don’t really, but we made it work, and are still kicking', so I figure we’ll just continue to muddle through the best we can.


The other really common thing people ask now, is if we will be done after three. It’s a little cart before the horse or maybe more like counting chickens before they hatch, but I get the curiosity. And the truth is, I have no idea if we'll be done. (surprise…that’s sort of the theme of our lives right now!) For as long as I can remember, I wanted four kids…but that was in theory. Once it came down to actually having those babies for real, I reserved the right to change my mind after each.

It's possible that this kid will be the perfect bookend to our family, or maybe he'll inspire us to have more. Either way, I know that three is going to be a big shift. I don't know how exactly...I just vaguely imagine being overwhelmed to the third power, rather than just squared. (Have you heard the Jim Gaffigan quote about having a lot of kids? "Imagine you're drowning. And someone hands you a baby." Yeah...I think it'll be a little like that.) Right or wrong though, we don't really base much of our decision on practicality- I figure if I did- we'd never have ANY kids. We'll  probably never have enough money, or time, or energy, or...anything really, to make more kids a GREAT idea. But we have a lot of love...so that counts for something, right? 
So for now we'll look forward to the arrival of #3. And then we'll get through the baby stage somehow. And someday, we'll get our feet under us again...probably just in time to think about another. Because when we picture our life together, we think about "tribe" and "team Bowden" and the joy + chaos combo that is a big family. These early days are hard for sure, but I'm so grateful for these babes I get to call my own. And I'm triple-thrilled that we get to meet another little one soon. Even if it means I don't sleep for a decade...


What about you guys? Did you know what your perfect number was? How did you know when you were done?
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Little Pip-speaks: Volume 18

http://bowdenisms.blogspot.com/search/label/little%20pip-speaks

Seriously this kid just keeps getting better. She's older and smarter, so the things she says aren't quite as wacky...But then again, she knows so many things now, that it's funny to listen to how she combines and twists things by accident sometimes. Also- her favorite responses these days might be: "I knew that already" and "No it's not" or "Yes it is" depending on the scenario. I'm not going to say she's a know it all, but she sure does know a lot...if you ask her. :) 


Pip-speak #1: 
Piper: I was just a little cranky because I didn't get enough sleep. Maybe we shouldn't let me stay up a little later.

Pip-speak #2: 
Piper {pointing to her chest}: Baby gorillas have little poodles on them just like I do.
Mama: Ummmm, do you mean nipples? 
Piper {shyly}: Yeah

Pip-speak #3: 

Piper {In her play kitchen}: I'm gonna make some muffins. It's probably time to make muffins. 

Pip-speak #4: 
Piper {regarding Fin}: She doesn't understand. She's still two. Two is not a lot anyways. 

Pip-speak #5: 

Piper {regarding Fin some more}: She's getting very good at her prays. VERY good actually. 

Pip-speak #6: 

Piper {in the car}: It's a good day for cookies. 
Mama: Isn't every day a good day for cookies?
Piper: No. This is a good long trip, so it's a good day for cookies. 

Pip-speak #7: 

Mama {listening to John Legend}: "All of me loves all of you." Isn't that nice?
Piper: I think he means Jesus. {sings} "Give it alllll to you!"

Pip-speak #8: 
Piper {reminding Fin of the "rules"}: Put your feet on it, and I take it away, GOT it?

Pip-speak #9: 

Piper {watching Toy Story}: Do you know what that astronaut do's? He kills. He's playing with that farmer. 
Mama: You mean the cowboy? Woody?
Piper: Yeah. But he has a vest and a badge, so he's a farmer. If he has a lasso, then he's just a toy. 

Pip-speak #10: 

Piper: Finny was begging me for my bracelets. Begging. So I gave them to her because I love her. 

Pip-speak #11: 

Piper: Bla-bla {her stuffed sheep} has 8 freckles. And one beebo {bellybutton}. That makes 10. 
Mama: Close!
Piper: That makes 11!!


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fin IS Two!

It took me a year (plus) to write about Fin's first birthday, so a month lag on her 2nd bday? WIN!

June was a crazy (fun!) month for us (Dustin's bday, Father's day, a trip to Philly...) so we delayed Fin's party a couple weeks...but the awesome thing about two-year-olds is they have no concept of time. We did technically celebrate her birthday on the actual day with dinner out (and some pudding!), but with so many family members all spread out, she ended up having at least four little celebrations spread over few weeks. Not a bad problem to have, right? She never quite got used to the fanfare of singing and blowing out candles (I pretty much only have pictures of her looking half skeptical, half scared of that part) but for at least a month, if she heard the words "birthday" or "party" she would excitedly yell "ME!"...so I guess she grasped the concept at least a little. (Related- Piper still thanks Jesus for "Finny's birthday" every night in her dinnertime prayer.)

For Fin's "official" party, I wanted to keep it as low key as possible...ok, as low key as I know how to throw a party, which is still kind of a to-do...so we decided on another backyard bash (summer birthdays are the best!). Guest list included family, neighbors, and some church friends, and we had no real plans besides bubbles and the bouncehouse (Fin's two favorite things in the universe). But you know I can't throw a party (even a simple one) without a theme, so I went with one of my current obsessions: Flamingos!   

Fin is still too young to articulate too strong of an opinion on a party theme, so I took advantage, and threw a party I'd want, if I were two. And by that I mean, I threw a party I still want even though I'm 2 + 29. I have no clue why I'm so into flamingos lately, but they're cute, and fun, make for easy party decor. Plus I got to put about 30 of the iconic plastic versions all over my lawn, which made my tacky, fake-animal loving heart so full. Happy birthday to all of us!

Click to check out full details and oh so many pictures.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day in the Life: Before baby 3

Last week, I finally got my act together and finished a few photo/journal books I had been working on forever. Almost literally forever, as the projects in question were Fin's baby book (of her first year) and my blog books from 2013 and 2014. I had them all about halfway finished, but everything else seemed to get in the way of just sitting down and cranking them out. All I really had to do was format them (everything was already written after all) but I'm beyond picky about that, so it does kind of take forever.

But as tedious as it can be to get the web to print transition just how I like it, it's also pretty fun to take a walk down memory lane as I make the books. I don't think I'll ever been at a point where I write as much as I want, but every time I look back on what I have recorded, I'm so thankful (to myself?) for putting forth the effort, even if it's incomplete. (Fin's book, for example, has monthly photoshoots with written highlights from each month, but I'm missing a few of the more detailed journal entries. I guess months 8, 9 and 12 were particularly busy...But 75% isn't bad, right?)

Through 2013 and 2014 there were a few Day in The Life type posts where I wrote about our typical daily routine. It seems like kind of a silly thing to document- I mean, are my grandchildren (the only real audience I imagine for these books) really going to care about what time I woke up every day, and what I ate for breakfast? Well, maybe not. But in a strange way, some of these mundane details make up the most interesting stories overall. Vacations and holidays are fun to document, and I love looking back on all of those happy times for sure, but they're not really good representations of what our lives are really like. The simple day-to-day stuff typically goes unrecorded because it seems unremarkable at the time...but then in hindsight it tells the story of who our family was during a particular time. Someday, my ancestors will stumble upon these books (while they're archiving everything to holograms, or whatever post-Jetsons type technology they have by then) and get a chuckle at how primitive things were (she had to drive to work? thank goodness for teleport stations!) or be reassured that some things never change (her baby woke up every hour for three months too? Well...at least I'm not alone).

But even in the near term, it's been fun (and helpful) for me to look back on our routines from the past. I'm amazed at how fast I forget things (especially in the post-baby fog stage) so having it preserved for posterity is kinda necessary. Looking back on our daily doings reminds me of the fun stuff, the hard stuff, and just the regular stuff. It also helps me prepare for what's to come as we approach this whole newborn adventure for a third time.

So if only for myself I wanted to record another round of our "Day in the Life" before things get flipped upside down (in a good way, I'm hoping!) by another baby Bowden. If you've ever read any of my other routine posts, most of this will probably be familiar, and potentially painfully repetitive (spoiler alert: I hate getting up in the morning, and Dustin is the glue that holds our entire crazy contraption/family together), but all of our phases- especially with young kids- have their own nuances to worth capturing.

Morning:

6/6:30- Dustin wakes up first, to shower and get ready. He's trying to get into a routine with working out before the rest of us ladies wake up...he was even going to an early AM Crossfit class for a while, but it's hard to cram that in before the little ones start stirring.
7:00- The girls wake up. Piper's wake-up schedule has been all over the place in her short little life, but as of now, the latest we can really push her is 7. Sometimes it's even earlier than that, but we try to maintain our rule about waiting for the green light of her clock. If it's too early, or we need more time, we'll give her one of our phones for her to go quietly play games (or watch PBS kids shows) until we're ready to attack the day. Since the girls share a room now, Fin is sort of along for the ride. She would probably be content to sleep until 7:30 ish, but usually once Piper is up, she's up. She's awesome though- in that she's completely happy to stay in her crib until we get her. She jib jabs with Piper, or plays with her Jelly...really I have no idea, but she's happy, so I'm happy.
7/7:15- Dustin gets the kids dressed. We had a routine for a little bit where I would lay out clothes at night to make the morning go smoother, but now the kids are so picky about what they want to wear (Fin: anything with animals, or something that actually belongs to Piper. Piper: anything that I would never pick out.) that it doesn't really make sense to try dictating anything in advance. So typically they look insane, but are at least clad in something somewhat seasonally appropriate. They both run into my room excited to show me some detail of their outfit ("Dress, mama!","Tie-dye!!","Owl!") while I rub the sleep from my eyes and tell them how wonderful they look.
7:20/7:45- I finally drag myself out of bed. My utter laziness when it comes to rising in the morning might be my worst quality (it's probably unfortunately not even close...but let's keep this light.) I get ready while the rest of the family heads downstairs.
7:30- Breakfast and TV. Yeah...we let our toddler/preschooler watch TV in the morning. Every morning. There are probably better things they could do with this time, but for now, it's the easiest way to keep them occupied while we (Dustin) make breakfast. Recently our occasional tradition of breakfast picnics, turned into an everyday occurrence, so they chomp on pancakes/eggs/cereal/fruit  while watching whatever 26 minute slice of programming heaven they've chosen for the day (current favs: Octonauts, Clifford's Puppy Days, Curious George, Sofia the First, Super Why, Peg + Cat, and Jake & The Neverland Pirates).
(sometimes he gets fancy...)


Lay-Z

8/8:15- Get ready to leave. We clean up the kitchen, finish packing lunches (when we're really on our game...otherwise we justify another trip to Jimmy John's or Chipotle), grab snacks and waters that the girls insist they need for the 8 minute ride home in the evening, get everyone's shoes on, and roll out. (This is where Dustin's signature phrase: "like a herd of turtles" comes to life. Why does it take soooooo long for two small people to get out the door? I wish I knew, so I could fix it.)
8:20- drop the girls off at school. Fin first (who almost never cries...running happily to her teacher- or more likely- happily to the table to con them into giving her second-breakfast), then Piper (who cries practically every time. It's really just a formality at this point...) Then Dustin and I make the trek downtown. It's about a half hour trip, sometimes more if there's rain or extra traffic but we aim to get in just before 9. We ride together most days, unless one of us has early/late meetings, or appointments etc. that require us to split up. It's been fun to carpool, and gives us a least an hour to chat each day without interruptions from the kiddos. (time, which, if you're a parent, you understand is rare and precious).

Daytime:
9-5- Worky work. Busy bees. People always ask if we see much of each other at work, but really it's pretty rare. He works on a different floor (a higher one, so you know I'm not trekking up there unless I have to) in a different department, for a different client. So our interaction is pretty limited. We do meet up for lunch every once in a while, but typically we each work through without a break so there's not a ton of time to hang out. Especially if we want to leave on time...which we pretty much have to unless we want to pay $1 a minute in late fees at daycare. We're lucky to have pretty flexible jobs, so we can stick to a pretty strict 9-5 without much trouble. I typically work a little bit more on the way home (while Dustin drives, another perk of a carpool!) responding to emails if I need to.
(Oh- and meanwhile- the girls are playing, and eating, and napping, and doing all the things 2 and 3 year olds love.)

Evening:
5:45- Pick up the kids. They're usually some of the last ones there, which makes me feel a little guilty, but I try to remember that they're also pretty much the last two dropped off in the morning, so we're just on a bit of a later schedule than most. We pack 'em up, and dole out the fruit snacks to ward off end of the day meltdowns on the car ride home. Thankfully it's super short, so we don't have to deal with traffic and cranky toddlers at the same time.
6:00- Dinnertime! We have still yet to find a groove with dinner. This has to be my least favorite thing to do as a parent...it's just all so much work. Thinking of recipes, grocery shopping, preparing the meal, trying to get kids to eat the food, cleaning up...It all exhaust me. And these people expect dinner every day! The nerve! When we do cook, we try to make enough to last two nights, so we don't have to do the thinking and prep work every day. Plus we're lucky to have "family dinner night" once a week at my mom's so that saves us a night too. Someday I'll maybe put all the pinterest suggestions on meal planning, and crockpotting, and freezer stockpiling to work...but until then- pasta, frozen veggies, and chicken tenders get us through in a pinch.
She's getting pretty good at making "sammiches". 
Maybe she can take over the dinner time routine soon...

6:30- Playtime! We don't typically do anything too structured. We'll play a game, or let the kids run amok dumping out any toy that strikes their fancy. If it's nice enough to go outside, that's the best, because it allows them to run off all that energy they still manage to have at this time of night (whereas I've been ready for snooze since about 3pm). Sometimes we squeeze a bath in here (to save time and stress we try to do that on the weekends, or have them take one during the day on "G'mi days" with my mom.) 
7:30- Bedtime! Clean up, put on jammies, go potty (Fin tries, anyway), and brush teeth. If they can do this swiftly, we read a few books. If it takes for-ev-er (like usual) then we restrict them to one or two books. Reading with them at night is one of my favorite times, so I hate to cut it short, but they love it too, so it's a good motivator to keep the dilly-dallying to a (relative) minimum.  
8:00- Bedtime for real! Hugs, kisses, tucked in. They both now try to drag this out as long as possible (one more story? tuck me in again? I need another drink! I can't find my blanket. I forgot to go potty...Well I have to go again...) but we try not to play into it too much, flipping on the nightlight, the lullabye music, and telling them sweet dreams. (Fin typically falls asleep within minutes, as long as she doesn't get too deep into a conversation with Piper. Pips has a tougher time and has been known to still be up at 9:30. If only that meant she'd sleep in later too...)



Don't worry kids. I'll get the rest...

8:15- Now our night starts...which is pretty much filled with a little more clean up, potentially some work, or just basic vegging out. We need to get better at putting this time to productive use but by this point in the night (and my pregnancy) I don't have the energy to do much more than flip on the TV and ask Dustin to make me an ice cream float. We have a ton of house projects (mostly organization) that we could chip away at if we tried, so we'll try to make that a bit more of a priority before the baby comes. (because I know my energy isn't exactly going to increase when we add another kid to the pile).
10:30/11- Bedtime for Dustin, with me following not toooo far behind. But he pretty much goes right to sleep, while I typically lay in bed reading blogs or catching up on Instagram until at least midnight. I know. It's a problem. 

(oh, and for the record- this is a typical day, but truly there's really no such thing. Plus, our routine varies by the day. This was a record of a school day, and a night at home, but we have small group on Tuesdays, so that's a babysitter night, Thursdays are family dinner so we meet up with the kids at my mom's, Tuesday and Thursdays are G'mi days, so that makes our schedule a little more flexible because we don't have to do pick up and drop off...You get it. And the weekends are different of course, but have a rhythm of their own- they usually include a few meals out, lots more play time, some naps, church, errands, and plans with friends- with some yard work and to-do list stuff mixed in there for the grown ups). 

So there you have it. A slice of our "right this minute". A life that is about to look drastically different. So we soak this up, and log it away in our memory banks (and our memory books) the best that we can, and then keep plowing through to next great stage of mundane and mundanely lovely days together. 


P.S. Check out other Day in The Life posts,

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Show Your Real: Kitty

Today's Show Your Real, is short and sweet, but the wisdom Kitty has managed to pack into what she has to share is pretty impressive. I'm inspired by how she was able to look at something seemingly silly (like a messy bedroom) and see the bigger truth God was trying to teach her. And I'm thankful that she is sharing that truth with us.
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There are two types of people in this world. Those who leave their master bedroom doors open when people come to their homes... 018 ...and those who cannot. It's not that they will not, it's just that they cannot. It's that bad in there. show me your real 
A few months ago, my friend, Ruth, who also happens to be one of my husband's bosses, came in town. The regional directors were taking us out to dinner so she and I thought we'd hang out for a few minutes beforehand. We were short on time and I was a sweaty mess from the day, so the only way we were going to be able to actually visit was if she sat in my bedroom while I got ready. I'm typically a fairly laid back hostess, I want people to see my real so they are set free to bare their own, but something in me knew that the state of my bedroom had gone from slightly unkempt to completely horrific during the few days our bosses had been in town. As we walked down the hall past my perfectly vacuum-striped childrens' bedrooms, everything in me wanted to keep the door shut and not let Ruth see the real someone-might-need-to-call-the-hoarder-hotline deal. Ruth could sense my internal struggle as I warned her of the craziness she was about to see and she softly said, 

"Kitty, I love you for who you are, not what your house looks like. You are more valuable than your hope of perfection." 020 This tender affirmation helped me push past the shame I felt about wanting everything to be perfectly kept and enabled us to have a great chat while I curled my hair. I've reflected on her quiet encouragement a lot recently and have had to repent of my striving and perpetual image management. Because what we see on Instagram really is the highlight reel but aren't the outtakes really the most fun? Yes, my home is an intimate reflection of me, but I want to be a person who is more secure in who I am because of Whose I am, than because of what my home looks like. Don't you?

Let's be people who let go of what we think the wrapping of a gift should look like and love the gift that is inside. Let's be people who open the doors and freely receive the love and acceptance of others. Shall we? #showyourreal
I've loved keeping it real with you! If you'd like to read more outtakes of life as a missionary, momma and majorly obsessed wife, stop by my blog or let's meet up on Instagram: @kitty_hurdle.
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http://bowdenisms.blogspot.com/search/label/showyourreal%20guest%20post


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 surface-y interactions of social media. And you're all invited to participate! Please write, caption, comment, link, and hashtag t
o spread the #showyourreal love. And if you would like to contribute a guest post to the series, please email me (cjsbowden@gmail.com).

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fin (was) One!

Throwback Monday! (shhh...pretend that's a thing...)

I know Fin just turned two...In fact- we (finally) had her party yesterday. Poor thing was a little confused, as her actual birthday was over a week ago, but due to family being spread out- and summer schedules being a little tricky- she ended up with about five different celebrations over the course of a few weeks. Not a bad problem to have I'm sure, but it didn't exactly help her grasp the concept of a birth-day. Good thing is, she totally grasps the concept of eating cake and opening presents. :)

So since I'm still wrangling yard flamingos from yesterday's shindig (another very good problem to have, if you ask me!), I thought it would be fun to finally share her first birthday. Hop in your way back machine, and let's enjoy some Vintage Finley:

Fin is One photo FinIsOne.gif

I'm all about a PDF invite. Saves money on postage, and allows me to change the date a million times when I can't get my act together...

Click through to full details and soooooo many pics: