Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Story on a Napkin

Ahhh, Mondays.
Usually said in an Eeyore tone, in a "Somebody's got a case of the..." kind of context.

But I think Mondays should be fun! (Note: should be. Could be...even if a whole lotta them aren't.) So let's take a stab as something fun to start of the week, mmmm'kay?

 A few years ago (um. actually five years ago. Where is my LIFE GOING?!), I wrote about my Cocktail Napkin Life Story. It's kind of like an Elevator Pitch...where you try to sum up your story quickly. This specific challenge limits it to 100 words. 

So since it's been half a decade since I attempted to cull my life down to what can be scrawled on a 4"x4" piece of paper...and since I've done a lot of livin' since then, I thought it'd be fun to give it another shot.
just kidding...sort of... 

Here's what I came up with this time around: 
Type-A from birth. Possible first words: “I have a better idea”. Learned to channel bossiness into more socially acceptable: ‘driven’. Worked, strived, achieved my way through design school. Met my way better half. Woo’ed him into lifetime commitment. Hustled my way into my dream job. Learned the ups and the downs of having a passionate personality. (hint: SO many, SO much of each). Had a baby.  AKA- Got my world rocked. Realized I didn’t know as much as I thought. Had another baby. Realized knowing you don’t know is half the battle.

Thankful for this adventure. A real-ly lovely adventure. 

So that's my gist. What about you?
Wanna join the fun? Jot down your story...Literally on a napkin, or in the comments here, or maybe on your blog, or get the idea. Just give it a shot. 

And if 100 words is too hard, make up your own rules. Do it in 5. Or 500 (still counts as a napkin story if you write teeeeeeeeny tiny!)

Tag it #lifestoryonanapkin if you want.
Because it's Monday. And Mondays should be a why not!? kind of day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The literal happiest of Fridays to you!

This made me laugh. Literally, out loud.

Found via @theyearofelan
Yes. I follow producers of The Bachelor on Instagram. And now maybe you do too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Show Your Real: Shannon

Patience is a virtue. A virtue I wasn't blessed with, and one I don't seem to be picking up quickly. (wait..I'm impatient to be patient?) But I'm learning. So when I asked Shannon to guest post for Show Your Real ummmm a year ago...I tried to be all zen when she didn't respond to my email. Or my next email. We've partnered a few times before, and always keep up with each other on Instagram (check out her adorable little men! If I believed in arranged marriages, I'd be submitting some applications on behalf of the Bowden ladies...) so I knew that if the timing wasn't right right now, that we'd work it out someday.

And you're in luck...because that day is today! It may have taken us a year or so to get together on this, but oh man is it worth the wait. (and that comes from someone who doesn't think much of anything is worth waiting for). I love what Shannon has to share today, so much so that I decided to post it the day after she sent it over...a week ahead of schedule. It's short, it's honest, it's beautiful.


Hi, I am Shannon, wife to Mark, momma to Behr (3.5) and Hudson (15 months) and you can find us over on The Scribble Pad. A year ago I transitioned into a dream role and this past Spring I sobbed to the women in my church's moms group about how nothing is how I imagined it would be. Here is a snippet of the story.

If you know the secret to family pictures, please enlighten me!

When Courtney first asked me to participate in Show Your Real (over a year ago!) shortly after my second son was born, I immediately thought, I am not ready, I need to get my act together! And then promptly ignored her email for well, about 12 months.

Are you kidding me? That is the exact reason we write these posts and share these stories. Courtney and I, you and your neighbor and the mom across from you at the park? We are moms on the pendulum swing of work-dinner-kids-husband-dishes-cooking-laundry-kids-lunch-did-we-feed-them-breakfast-work-kids-wait-did-I-forget-about-my-husband?  Life is constantly in motion, the things that are in motion with us might not always look the same, but the motion continues. It doesn't necessarily get easier, just different.

After two and a half years of working outside the home, I transitioned to a totally different role, running an intern housing building, after my second son was born. I am now a work from home mom. Silly me, I thought working from home would mean more time, as if I would magically get extra hours in the day. Without even knowing it, I was looking for easy. Let me tell you, I did not get easy. I relearn this lesson every day. Every day, I am reminding myself there is not an easy out, no easy button. Darn you, Staples commercials.

Instead I got a 20-30 hour a week job with not nearly that much babysitting in my budget. I work with Hudson on my lap jamming his fingers into my calculator. I work with Behr standing on the chair behind me, hanging around my shoulders. I spill whatever I am drinking on everything and my beautiful modern dining table turned desk from ikea is covered in stickers. I work while my kids watch TV, sometimes on beautifully sunny days when we should all be outside, sometimes for so long they fall asleep and then fall off the couch with a thud.

I'm sure I just finished telling them not to poke each other anymore.

There are days we race matchbox cars, I even duct taped a track on my carpet once. We build block towers to knock over and lego towers taller than our heads. We walk to museums in DC, pick up our farm share, and play at splash parks. But for every exciting adventure I share on instagram, there is just as much behind the scenes work going on. But do you really want to see my computer every day?

Motherhood is not about looking for the easy, it is about walking through the difficult and knowing that Christ has called you to this life, and his calling means he has enabled you. Read that again. Christ's calling in your life means he has enabled you. Do you understand what that means? I don't. Well, at least I forget it often. I throw up my hands in exasperation, feeling defeat instead of the gentle tug of growth.

I want to feel the tug of growth and stop letting my own self-wallowing get in the way. Maybe someday I will get there. For now, pass me some legos. I have a tower to build.

To be honest, this is not at all what I was going to write about...but this is what has been on my heart as I think about our week, which already feels impossibly long. I am not sure what is on your heart today, but I hope you are able to be encouraged. I really hope to meet you over social media. Please stop by and say hello!


Can you resist those smiles? I sure can't.


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. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me (cjsbowden at gmail dot com).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finley Faces: The Grand Finale

Well....It happened. Again. I had a baby. I blinked. And somehow, that baby was one.

How? Why?!

The truth is, the year both flew by, and dragged on. Should I trot out the old "the days are long, but the years are short" cliche one more time? But seriously. 

I think back to a year ago, and somehow it seems like it was yesterday. Of course I remember every detail of her arrival, and I can still recall the sweet sweaty aroma of her newborn days. There are days from her first few months that I can remember every minute- whether it was a meal on the deck as a family of four, my first time at New Moms Coffee, or the time I thought it would be a good idea to take both kids to the park on my own. (90 degree heat with a newborn and a not-yet-two year old? File under: No, Dummy.)

But other parts are hazy, and feel every bit a year in the past. I look at pictures of Fin from the early days and can hardly believe how little she was, how short her hair was, or how surprised she looked. Now that she's a jabbering, walking, smiling little force of a human, it's hard to fully recall all the earlier versions of her.

She changed drastically, but gradually, so one year is just as easily a minute as it is a lifetime.

So I don't quite know when I fell madly, sweetly and obsessively in love with my sweet baby Fin...It could have been the day she was born, when she smiled for the first time, when she fell asleep on my shoulder for the hundredth time, or any of the infinite moments in between. But it was also most assuredly just yesterday. And this morning. And I'll probably do it again tomorrow.

Because my baby is one. But she's still my baby. And she's a full year of awesome.

Take a walk down memory lane:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Parenting is like a Ironman triathlon. Stay with me on this...even though I've never competed in an Ironman (or any triathlon, or even a marathon, or really a race of any kind), I've had two kids for a while now, and I feel qualified to make the comparison anyway.

There are a ton of Ironman competitions, but I think they try to hold a lot of them in warm weather and scenic locations, and not just so people won't freeze their competition-loving butts off in the pool (river? ocean? I might be ill informed to make this comparison, after all. But like a race competitor, there is no stopping me…) I'm pretty sure even the Ironman organizers know that without a decent view in a desirable location, nobody would want to attempt this nonsense. Which brings me to my first corollary: It's a good thing kids are cute, or no one would even attempt the marathon challenge that it is to raise them.

Parenthood requires focus, diligence, training and freaking hard, hard work.  It's metaphorical running, biking, and swimming, for miles. (and miles, and miles, and miles.)  But thankfully, there's another part of parenting that's filled with beautiful vistas. Momentary breaks in the action when you can look around and realize: Holy crap. We're in paradise. These are the moments that provide your second wind, and help you to keep pushing when the uphill climb begins again.

 But one of the struggles in my Iron-mom race (you know, besides the obvious fatigue, exhaustion, weariness and other synonyms for So Damn Tired...) is that I often feel like I'm supposed to be running the race and enjoying the view at the same time. This pressure of course causes me to feel that I'm failing at both things. I'm losing the race, and I'm missing the scenery. People are always chiming in that moms should Slow down! Look around! Soak it up! But then again- in order to actually manage the day-to-day of my life, I don't get to meander, and pause, and smell the proverbial roses. I have to hurry up, keep pushing, put my head down and work.

There are no medals at the end of parenting, (actually there's no end of parenting at all) but most people aren't into the sport of triathlon for the metals. They're in it for the experience. To be a part of something big. To scale a challenge. To prove they can do it. No, I can't relate one iota to wanting to push myself to the physical limit, (or wear a wetsuit in public- that's a whole other physical limit), but then again- parenting does come with an epically high level of required commitment. As well as a similar potential for public humiliation. So I guess in some regard, I have signed on for the ultimate endurance test. And while reaching peak performance (whatever that is in this fuzzy realm) is not my primary goal, I do understand the desire to excel. To record a personal best. To be a part of a big, scary, daunting, exhilarating challenge.

In the end though, I don't want to run such an efficient, swift race, that I don't remember what the salt water tasted like. Okay wait, that's a bad analogy, because saltwater tastes terrible. But I do want to be able to look back and see that even when my legs were sore, and my lungs were burning, I was still surrounded by beauty. Even when I cursed the situation, and swore that I would never do this again, questioning who got me in this mess in the first place (, I was still living the dream. I was doing something of greatness. Something that not everyone has the opportunity to do.
I'm sure there are people who complete a triathlon and brag about their time, but probably more often it's enough that they just did it. So while I'd like my kids to be well mannered, smart, on a schedule, adorably dressed, etc. and so on, and so on forever...In the end, I really just want my kids- plus the memories that go along with raising those kids. And when the bulk of this race is finished, say, in 18 years or so, I want to be able to look at my partner, high five, cry, laugh, and collapse into a heap of triumphant exhaustion, proudly exclaiming "We did it!"

I'm running the race of my life, and each day I strive to take one more step, one more pedal, one more push through the lows, and appreciate the highs. Sometimes the current is against me, and sometimes I get lucky with the wind at my back. No matter what though, I keep going. Because that's how Iron-moms roll.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Little Pip-speaks: Volume 8

The She Never Never Stops (wonder where she gets that from?) edition.

Pip-speak #1:
Piper {regarding my phone}: Put it in your pocket. Just in case Daddy calls to message you. Just in case.

Pip-speak #2:
Piper: We going to church? We gonna sing, and sing, and sing. We do so much singin'. 

Pip-speak #3:
Piper: I want to keep peeing on the potty. I want to fill it ALL up. 

Pip-speak #4:
Piper: Fin's birt-day is coming up. We have all purple foods?
Mama: Why purple?
Piper: Because I don't want pink!

Pip-speak #4:
Mama: Look for the geese in the pond. See any?
Piper: No I can't see them. They must be hiding in their eggs. You have to knock on the egg and then it cracks and then the baby goose jumps out!

Pip-speak #5:
Piper {singing "Down by the Bay"}
Did you ever see a cow combing his hair?
Did you ever see a zebra eating his pajamas?
Did you ever see a parrot wearing a fly?
Did you ever see a tiger wearing a lie?
Did you ever see a frog wearing a tie?

Pip-speak #6:
Mama: A "P" is a straight line with a hump. 
Piper: A hump? {pause} Like a hamel. Hamels have humps. 
Pip-speak #7:
Piper {writing her grocery list}: 
This is our list, ok?
We need watermelon...sippy cups...BLUE sippy cups...Need soap. Need a new soap, right?
We need a monkey...
That's all we need!

Pip-speak #8:
Piper: Only boys are handsome not mommies or Pipers or Fins. We only wear clothes. Not something else.

Pip-speak #9:
Piper: Does superman dance?

Pip-speak #10:

Mama: How was water day at school?
Piper: I was crying. 
Mama: Why?
Piper: Because I got wet. 
Mama: That happens. 
Piper: I don't like water day. Too wet. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Longest Arm

Overambition, laziness, busy-ness…(a three pronged hybrid?) Whatever you want to blame it on, the fact remains- my quilt isn’t done yet. BUT- though the project has laid dormat since the move, there was a time when it was still at the top of my to-do list (or at least higher than the rest of my to-dos that weren't nearly as fun). So hop in the way back machine (set to: early April) and let me tell you a quaint little quilting story...

Have you ever used a long arm before?

Wait…have you ever heard of a long arm before?

Admittedly- I hadn’t. (I don’t need to explain- again- how far out of my depth I am with this quilting thing, do I?)
But when I embarked on a queen size quilt project, I realized pretty quickly that sewing even a simple quilting design on my home machine was going to get problematic.

Enter- my friend Jen, and her adorable grandmother.
And her adorable grandmother’s adorable attic turned sewing palace.

 (There was about 8 times this much storage. Fabric for daaaaaaaaayyyyyysssss...)

Jen is part of the quilt-along (was part? Is it over?), but unlike its inept founder (me) she actually knows a thing or two about quilting, so she offered up her skills and equipment if anyone was interested. Um…yes please! I signed up in a heartbeat, and by that I mean, I forced my ambitions on her repeatedly through email, and she finally gave in and agreed to show me her stitched up ways. 

Seriously though- Jen is incredibly talented, and equally kind, so I was thrilled that she was willing to help me make my way-too-big dream come true. And it turns out, she comes from good stock, because her grandma was just as talented (ok…maybe even more. It’s a better-with-age thing) and sweet as can be. She was also incredibly interesting. Gram's a fiesty little lady, who has three kids and a slew of grandkids (only one of whom has caught the quilting bug). She's married to an adorable man who tinkers about with his own projects, and stops by occasionally to give her a a good matured ribbing about her mess of a studio. The three of us listened to Neil Diamond on Pandora, and chit-chatted like girlfriends about working (she still works as a daycare teacher), crafting, raising babies, and a ton of smaller subjects while we (they) set up the machine, pressed various projects, pinned layers, and general made quilting awesomeness. For those few hours she adopted me as her own, and I was all to happy to soak up her wisdom and perspective (no life as much as quilting).

  Look at her. Making magic for me! 

Sneak peek! Lookin' sweet, right?

I’m not 100% sure what was in it for them, letting me invade their space for hours, borrow supplies, ask silly questions, and all around inconvenience them…but I think they’re both just quilt enthusiasts, who love to support others who appreciate the art. And I’ll admit, it’s not the most common hobby amongst the under-60 set, so I think Gram was extra pumped that one of Jen’s at least semi-cool friends shared her passion.

These kind ladies took me under their wing…their long-armed wing…and let me goof around with some crazy expensive machinery, and I loved every second of it. Jen even let me wear her telephone-cord/belt/scissors contraption, so I could trim threads in style. I was a little nervous about running the machine myself- it’s gigantic, and intimidating- but they gave me a quick tutorial and I was on my way. I originally planned to do a diamond pattern, but in the end went with a straight stitch in variating distances, and I love the way it turned out. It took a couple of hours in total- there is some set up time, and some futzing around making sure everything is perfect time. (futzing=a super technical quilting term).

So after a fun afternoon chatting with a couple of crafty ladies, I gained a new skill, and left with a 90% finished quilt, ready to be bound. (and there it sat for another three months…but who’s counting?)

They tried to convince me to go for some freestyle stitching on my 
real quilt vs just this a scrap. Heck no, ladies. I (sometimes) know my limits.

I’ve got about a million projects to do around the new house, but my sewing stuff is officially unpacked, so I’m hoping I finish this beast sooner than later. I’m aiming for before the first snowfall. In the meantime- check out this longarm in action. Riviting, I know.