Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Put one foot in front of the other

Writing is hard. 
It takes patience, inspiration, and...words. 

I always want to write in theory, but in reality, sometimes the words (and the patience, and the inspiration) don't come. And recently, I've just been in a not having the words kind of season. 

I have the occasional kernel of an idea bouncing around in my head, but lately those seeds haven't been popping into full blown written thoughts. It takes effort to put pen to paper (even electronically) and right now, there are so many other things calling (screaming) for my attention- so they're winning. But I miss writing. The action, but also the end product. I want to express my stories, and I want to have those stories recorded for the future.  

Dustin and I were discussing an unrelated topic last night, when the idea of "Fake it 'til you make it" came up. I'm not typically a proponent of fake, but in this case, I really believe in the value of this concept. For me, it's not about pretending to be something I'm not. It's about putting one foot in front of the other (or both hands on the keyboard) and doing things even when I don't feel like it...because it's worth it. (And other such cliches). 

So I'm embracing all the pithy sayings and going for it. The best time to start is yesterday, but the next best time is today. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Just do it. Etc etc. and so on. 

But what am I actually committing to? Well, I'd love to say I'm going to blog more often (for me, not for my imaginary readers "clamoring for more", finish the baby journals that are currently sitting in electronic piles of drafts, and stretching myself into new writing styles and formats. But I gotta be real. Right now, I'll be lucky to eke out a line or two a day. So that's exactly what I'm going to do:







My mom found my grandfather's journal last week (really a couple journals, and an entire box full of photos and letters he wrote while he was serving in the war.) There aren't words for how awesome it was to dive into the collection of his stories and get to know a "him" of 65 years ago. Such a huge payoff for me now for the time he spent so long ago. 

So that's the impetus for my redound promise to an old line a day journal of my own. I dug it out of the basement, and have been enjoying reading snippets of 2010 (the first and only year I wrote in it). It may have taken me five years to give it another go, but better late than never, something's better than nothing, and keep on keepin' on, I always say. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The dance of the worker-bee

How are we adjusting?

After announcing that our lives were about to change in a big way, with Dustin going back to work, people have been so kind to ask how we're doing. How are the kids? How does Dustin like it? How are we managing the routine?

Well....the answer is a mixed bag of: Meh. Awesome. Terrible. Good.
It really just depends on the day, or the minute, or the person in question.

It's all a complicated dance that we're choreographing on the fly- constantly checking to make sure we can keep up with the music, without mashing each other's toes or messing up the turns.
Pack the bags, drop off the kids, drive to work, worky-work, drive back, pick them up, eat...something...anything, have some fun- this is supposed to be fun!, now march upstairs, jammies/potty/teeth/book/bed, sleep (please, just sleep), clean-up-pick-up-put-away, collapse and zone out, big finish: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Again, from the top! This time with enthusiasm!  

Whew.

But really, while it can be a manic dance, it's got a lot of good elements:
Dustin really loves his job. It's challenging, and interesting, and new and fun...all the things an adventure should be. Plus they pay him! Score! But really...it's awesome. It's nice to be working together again. The office is big enough that we don't actually see each other much during the day (we work on different teams for different clients) but it's fun to be able to swing by his desk to steal a Coke Zero, or IM each other with the occasional nonsense throughout the day. The biggest perk though, might be the carpool. It's at least a half hour ride each way, so it's nice to have a buddy to share in the joys of snow and traffic. Truly though, while it's not the most romantic setting, it's still an hour of together time each day. And with two toddlers typically running the show at home, I'll take uninterrupted conversation with my husband anywhere I can get it.

Oh...but then...it's also got its share of terrible turns:
The girls are having a rough time adjusting to daycare. I knew it wouldn't be easy to transition from being home full time (two days with G'mi + Papa, three days with Dustin), to going to daycare three days a week, but I was hoping after a couple weeks they'd get used to the routine. Welllllll. Looks like we're going to need more than a few weeks. Because one month in, there are still nightly tears, with sad pleas of "I don't wanna go to school...I don't like school...I don't like the nap...I wanna stay home with you...Please don't drop me off. I don't want you to go!" We've tried everything to make the transition easier. Some of it seemed to help, but in the end, drop off is still a big dramatic cry-fest, with both girls clutching on to us. I know they have fun, I know they're well cared for, but every time it's the same thing. And the worst is the evenings...sure, we get the best greeting EVER when we pick them up (Both of their faces light up when they see us at the door, Piper grabs Fin's hand and yells "Look Fin, Mommy and Daddy are here!"- which Fin already knows, but Piper is the older sister so of course she has to declare these things- and Fin does her chubby little wobble run into our arms. The whole thing is adorable- at least ten times better than I'm describing.) But that joy lasts about five seconds, until it's crying about putting on coats, or not liking the snack we brought, or (yes, again) not liking school. Then it's a mad dash of an evening where we hurry home (sometimes listening to overtired wailing for the whole eight minute ride), scramble to make dinner, play a little, read a little and wrestle them into jammies in time for the age-old battle of "I don't want to go to bed! I'm not tired! I wanted to read books! I don't like these jammies! I don't want to go to school!"  It's all very dramatic, but super common, and age appropriate, but exhausting, and challenging.

So really, it's normal. We're normal. It's all awesome, and terrible, and I guess just a little bit meh right now. During the tantrums, and the crying, and the unexpected delays, it's pretty bad. It feels like we're a mess. We're screwing up all the steps, everyone is miserable, and it's all just defeating. But then there are so many moments of good: when one sister shares her cinnamon roll to cheer up the other...when bedtime isn't a fight, with just a polite request to "Please stay and rub my back for a minute?"...when work is fun and busy and reminds us why we genuinely like going in there every day. Jazz hands, baby!

We've just hit the one month mark of our new dance routine, which is a lifetime and nothing at the same time. Life with kids is full of this type of contradiction: it truly is the best of times, and the worst of times. Sometimes in the same hour. So we just keep plugging away. I think life with a three-nager will get easier (I mean...she'll eventually turn four). Fin won't skip naps forever (right?), and we'll eventually learn that it really is worth it to spend time packing lunches the night before (but Nettttttfliiiiiiiix....) 

In the meantime, I at least take comfort in the fact that there are about a million other people around the world doing basically the exact same dance, albeit to slightly different music. We're all trying to shimmy through the terrible, and waltz through the good, while smiling big for the audience, and holding our partners tight.
And while I very much wish each night's act would end with us holding hands, taking a satisfied bow, and collecting piles of roses at our feet, I know that most evenings we'll shuffle off stage to ice our tired muscles and wrap our sore ankles in preparation for the morning production. Because the show- good or bad, must go on.

(P.s. Thank you to everyone who has asked how we are. Our struggles are typical, our complaints are mundane, but our joys are real and lovely. And we're so so glad to have good friends dancing alongside us through it all.)
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 14

I know, I know, everyone thinks their kid is the cutest, and says the most precious things, and aren't they such a speshul sno-flake!? But really...this girl. I just wish you all could know her. There is not a day that goes by where she doesn't say something hilarious/adorable/endearing/nutty. There are moments when she as challenging as they come, for sure, but her sweet heart, and kooky brain have me wishing I could record her all day long.

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

Pip-speak #1:
Piper: Mama, let's hurry. It's so cold I'm turning into a bicycle.
Mama: A bicycle?
Piper: No! A pipe-sicle!!

Pip-speak #2:
Piper {singing, to the tune of Mr. Sun}: Mr. wind, wind, Mr. windy wind. Please go away to-day.
{pause} I said to go away because I don't like the wind. It's too blow-y.

Pip-speak #3:
Mama: Do you know what we're having at the neighbors house for dinner?
Piper: No, what?
Mama {giving a hint}: La-....
Piper: Pizza!!!

Pip-speak #4:
G'mi: Our piano is out of tune.
Piper: Let me check it out and see how it hears. Yep, it's out of town.

Pip-speak #5:
Piper: Let me put my nockulers on so I can see. {holds up her hands to form circles in front of her eyes} I don't know that word...Nockulers?

Pip-speak #6:
Piper: We should get a hamper.
Mama: Like, to put clothes in?
Piper: No. A hamper. It's a really little guinea pig.

Pip-speak #7:
Piper: G'mi, can I take a bath at your house so mommy and daddy can smell me? I'm losing my smell.

Pip-speak #8:
Piper {walking into school on her first day back at daycare}: We're holding hands like a family. I will give you all a kiss. Each one of you.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Pictures I Didn't Take


If you didn't take a picture, did it really happen? And if you didn't share that picture on instagram, did it definitely not happen?

Those are silly little things we mutter as a joke sometimes, lamenting how big social media has gotten, and how profoundly it's altered how people present themselves, or even view themselves. And I'd like to think I'm above that...that I don't tie any of my reality or worth to tangible records of smiles, or yummy meals, or adorable messy faced kiddos.

But the truth is, I a little bit do.

I love to skim through my phone camera roll at night, reflecting on all the fun little moments that I captured that day or week. It's a reminder of the pieces I wanted to hold on to. It's mementos from a life well lived. They're not all gorgeous shots, far from it often times, but they're mine. And all those square snippets tell a story that I value, not for the "likes", but at least for the comfort and reassurance they provide: We spend time together. We had fun. I'm doing a good job.

And it's not bad to have these snapshots to reflect on...but sometimes, as I lay in bed and open up my photo app...I'm met with nothing. Or at least nothing new. I realize I didn't take a picture all weekend. Or that the last shot I have is a week old. There are no freshly preserved memories. No pixels saved of our recent reality. And in those moments, I'm sad. I start to question the quality of the life we've been living. If I don't have any pictures, does that mean we didn't do anything worth taking a picture of? If something had been that fun, wouldn't I have wanted to document it? So does the lack of photos equal a life that's lacking?

Clearly I know that's ridiculous. My kids are adorable, even if there isn't a single picture to prove it. (though there are indeed thousands.) A party is not less fun without photo documentation (though a photobooth is a pretty good time...) A path less photographed is no less beautiful, or memorable, or challenging, or enjoyable.... I know that the pictures don't make the event, the events make the pictures, but still. I want the pictures. I want something to show me, and others how amazing life- my life- is. Not to boast or brag. But to celebrate it, and validate and magnify the joys that are truly a part of our every day journey. This is why I take pictures. To capture a teeny tiny piece of the fleeting magic to keep forever. To lock in the emotion of a moment, the expression of a certain phase, the trademarks of a season.

But sometimes...I don't have these mementos. Usually it's because life was going too fast. It was live it or snap it- or maybe survive it or nothing. Other times it's because life was too deep. We were immersed in the laughing, or snuggling, or cheers-ing, or crying, and it didn't feel right to step outside of those moments. And occasionally it's because the moments weren't mine to capture. My story overlaps and touches and weaves through so many others', and those pieces aren't always mine to save or share.

So I'm learning to be thankful for the pictures I have, and not regretful of the shots I've missed. Because the blog entries, and scrapbook pages, and instagram books I fill up, tell a portion of my tale, and I'm so grateful for these volumes. But the stories and images kept in my mind and heart are equally valuable, if far less visible. And though there is comfort and beauty in keeping real souvenirs, I pray I'm able to find peace and security in my emotions and memories, regardless of what I literally have to show for it. And I hope that for you too.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Parade of Home


Happy 8th Month-i-versary to us and our house!
Wait...that's not a thing? Well...sure it is. And the traditional gift: photos.

Ok, maybe not at all, but we had a bright sunny day earlier this month, and in a crazy stars aligning like they never, ever do twist, the house was actually kind of clean, AND the kids weren't around. Say what?! So I took advantage, and snapped my heart out for 10 minutes, capturing a little moment in time in our kinda new but not really so new home. So far I've only given video tours, so I figured this would be a nice change of pace to show some still shots without munchkins in the background (/foreground), plus it'll save you hearing my repetitive rambling  (you get to read it instead!) in which I can't remember what projects we've even done since the last tour. (If you can't resist that ringing endorsement, then by all means, check out all of our house tours.) And bonus...I even have some "befores" mixed in here. Yay for progress!

Entryway
(Foy-ay if you're fancy)

Here she is:
I don't have a "before" and this is really the only "after" shot I took, but...that's about all there is to see in any case. Cabinet (which hides various extra vases/candles etc.) was a thrift find on our first weekend in Pittsburgh. Coat rack and disco ball are remnants from my window dressing days. Mirror (with a very unfortunate cracked center piece) is almost a decade old from Old Time Pottery. And if you look closely you can spot the first white ceramic animal of the tour.
OH- and that giant ruler? My handsome, obsessed with burning things, husband made that beaut. Love him. Love it. Just haven't figured out how we'll mark the kids heights on it yet.

Playroom

Before:



This is the room directly to the left when you enter the house. It had beautiful French doors that were just waiting to smash my kids' beautiful American fingers, so they quickly went in storage (the doors, not my kids' hands). It was painted a deep, deep red, and had a traditional brass chandelier. The previous owners were using it as an office, but alternatively it could probably be a dining room. Thankfully we have a very large eat in kitchen, and when we do work from home, it's from the couch, so this space was free to use for the kiddos. (and all of the kiddos' junk treasures)

After:

We painted the walls grey (a now defunct color called Mickey's Shadow from Home Depot- the same shade we used in Piper's nursery back in Pittsburgh), put up Ikea shelving (one repurposed from our old "three seasons room", one recreated based on our old dining room set up- which we actually sold with the house). We also added the world's biggest, yet shockingly low-functioning light fixture from West Elm (via Craigslist, naturally).


The lower cabinets store our printer and various other boring/ugly necessities like that, arts/craft supplies, and all of our games. Oh- and entirely too many decorative animals, clearly.
This is where most of the toys are housed, but that's a daily losing battle, of course.
We try to keep the rest of it corralled to these buckets...again, only mildly successfully.
Oh- and what's that gigantic house, you ask? Well....my mom's neighbors were tossing it the week beore Christmas, so we figured we'd save it and give it a shot. (Well, I figured that. Dustin figured I was crazy like always...) It fits...technically, but I won't deny that's it's massive. Time will tell if the kids adore it enough to keep it (and maybe give it a white-washed makeover...) but for now it's fun. It fits their play kitchen, and hides some of the chaos that comes along with said play kitchen, so it's just fine by me.




Living Room
Before (fancy panoramic before!):

After:

We really haven't changed anything...except adding furniture. I thought we'd repaint, but the light brown is growing on me. It actually works surprisingly well with our obsessive amounts of grey, and helps warm everything up.
Our main purchase was a crazy huge couch (Macy's), which we LOVE. It was a big commitment (space and money) but it works so well in the space. Plus it's practical for the kids, but doesn't look like we just gave up on life. So that's a win.
Other than that, we have: old lamps from Lowe's, a new ottoman from World Market (love living near one of those again!), and side tables from Homegoods. The tables are a total crazy color, and I anticipated painting them something neutral like oil-rubbed bronze...and maybe someday I still will, but for some reason the teal grew on me, so I've just left them as is. (Speaking of leaving things as is...please ignore the curtain rods everywhere. You know I do.) Oh- and I know the star is the couch, but I can't tell you how much we love that ottoman. Yeah, it cracked Fin in the head pretty good, but it's still ten jillion times safer than an actual coffee table, and with the trays (from Target) it's still functional. We're debating building a long (loooooong) console table to sit behind the couch to hold drinks etc. I like the idea, but I'm worried I'll end up wanting to tchotch it up (that's psuedo-yiddish for put a million ceramic animals on it). Art is a big work in progress (isn't it all...?) But at least we're making some progress. Having things on the wall, even blank things, really does makes it feel homier.

And then we have the Craiglist piano (with separate Craiglist deal bench). It's about 100 years old, sounds kinda decent (after a professional tuning), looks pretty decent and makes me so happy. Every time someone comes over they ask me who plays. And I say...no one really...anymore. But lots of us could. "If you own it...they will learn..."
(P.s. Yes it's missing the center foot peddle, but 1: we have it, it's just not attached and 2: who uses that one anyway?)

Kitchen

Before:

Not a bad before...I mean, unless you really like owning a fridge. But other than that the kitchen was in great shape. Not my dream kitchen when it comes to the finishes, but the layout is awesome, so I can forgive all the other temporary sins. (like that light fixture. woof.)

After: 
We haven't done a ton, but a couple quick updates have helped make it feel a little less country, and a little more "us". We swapped the pendant light for a new one (that's right! New! Something not from craiglist, the trash, or some crazy scratch and dent warehouse sale...what a novelty!), added the world's longest table plus a mix of chairs (Metal: Target, White: Amazon, High Chair: Ikea)

Oh, and the cow. Of course the cow. (Piper named her Jenny, and we love her.) 
And I've been wanting to do a chalkboard wall somewhere in the house, but I couldn't figure out a good spot where the kids could actually use it, and I wouldn't feel pressure to have it look all pinteresty all the time. Perfect solution? Under the counter! When they want to draw, we just scoot the stools out of the way, and let them go to town. And it's inconspicuous enough that their doodles can stay up without making my house look too wild. Win win!
(gumball machine: garage sale, Stools: Flea Market)



Other than that we haven't touched it, really. We bought a new fridge, and a dishwasher. We'd love to get a new stove, but I'm holding out for gas, which would require running a line (not crazy expensive, but also not free...thus, not done. yet.) We did hang our little foosball men to hold coats (inspired by this), and are attempting some sort of organizational system for papers and such, but we're not exactly experts in that territory, as the papers and random junk tend to take over every horizontal surface in sight.



So that's about it! There are about a million teeny little things we'd still like to do (and some big things that might stay on the list for a while too...) but for now, it's home, which is pretty fantastic as-is.
And maybe someday I'll get my act together and take some shots of the upstairs...We've been promising Piper a big-girl room (she's jealous Fin has pictures on her walls), so that's next on the list (we even got her a new bed, but after our first foray into bed swaps we're waiting to introduce that until we have a full plan...and maybe some serious floor padding.)

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Monday, January 19, 2015

The Days of Our Lives


Soo....big news (that I super vaguely alluded to in our last "life lately" update): Dustin got a job! He worked for a bit when we moved here, but that job wasn't the right fit for him (that sounds like a really diplomatic way of skirting over some drama, but truly it was a wonderful job that he just wasn't made for). So rather than slog it out in a role that was slowly sucking his soul dry (there's my signature dramatic flair!) he's been home with the kiddos. In addition to stay-at-home dad-ing it, he's been taking a class to get his teaching license renewed, and doing some freelance work for his old company back in Pittsburgh. It's been a bit of an unexpected detour for our family, but for the most part, it's been wonderful. I won't speak on his behalf too much (please, it's what I do) but he really loved being with the kids, and tried to take advantage of it as much as possible while we waited to figure out what might be next. We thought teaching might be the next phase (he loved it back in Cincinnati, and really missed it, plus thought the schedule would be a pretty perfect fit for our family), but he was also looking into corporate jobs more in line with his recent experience. And...very long story short, last week he was offered a metrics and analytics position and accepted it. And he starts today. What?! AND the very best/craziest part, is that his new job is at my company! Yep. The old gang is back together again. #powercouple

So as we prep for this new phase, I thought it would be fun to document the routine we're leaving behind. Being a SAHD isn't for everyone, but let me just tell you, my husband rocked it, and it made my life more than a little bit easier in the process. So while I'm totally supportive of his dreams to learn something new, take a risk, and you know...spend his days with people who don't poop their pants...a big part of me is also sad to say goodbye to our current set up. This has been an adjustment period, full of learning, and balancing, and relearning, and re-balancing, but it's also been such a sweet, sweet season for our family that I will look back on fondly.

Oh- and before I get into the specifics, I wanted to include a blurb from the last Day in the Life post I did over two years ago. Turns out, besides everything, not much has changed:
"before I share my daily routine, let me just add this disclaimer: It’s impossible describe my day without Dustin’s because it would be impossible to do my life without his. We’re a team like that. And very, very quickly it will be clear to anyone reading that the secret to any of my success is Dustin. Seriously. If I had any advice to give, it wouldn’t be time saving tricks, or multi-tasking tips. It would be choose your mate wisely. I somehow stumbled into this gem of a man and locked him in. And I’ve been reaping the benefits ever since."
So now you know not to expect some "secrets form a working mom" treasure trove of advice. In fact, this entire entry might be interesting to me and only me (and debatable at that) but for whatever reason I'm fascinated with the details of people's schedules. How do they do things differently? What aspects could I try or learn? Where is there a common ground of just trying to survive the madness?
So this might just be a post for me to review years later, to remember what life with two toddlers looked like. Or it might be semi-helpful for someone else to read and see how we manage (and struggle). So with that...on with the fun.

5:30- Dustin gets up and heads to his 6AM Crossfit class. He goes around 4 times a week, I think, but I can't really be sure because I sleep like a rock, and barely register his movement 99% of the time. It's a gift really.

7:45- Piper and Fin wake up. Piper takes her "ok to wake" clock pret-ty seriously, and we've somewhat accidentally (due to the time change, and a few random late nights) moved her wake up time back almost an hour over the last year or so. She was a struggle with her early morning wakeups for a long time, so I cherish this system. (for what it's worth, she typically wakes up sometime around 7 or 7:30, but dutifully waits until her magic green light comes on. Seriously- magic). Fin wakes up around 7:30ish too, but she's happy to play in her crib for a bit. She rarely even makes a peep, other than some cheerful babbling.
7:45- I wake up. I try to set my alarm for 7:20, thinking that if I actually manage to get up by 7:30 I could at least shower before the kiddos are up and about....But....I pretty much just love to sleep, and find myself snoozing until I'm greeted by an un-ignorable little face pressed against mine, proudly announcing- "MAMA! Wook! I made it to Green Wight!"
7:50- After checking all the super important updates on my phone (aka: emailed coupons, Instagram, and Timehop app) I actually have to get moving, or I'll be late. Or more accurately, I have to get moving, and will likely still be late. Here's where we get real: I shower every other day. It's a very simple, and obvious plan, day 1: hair down, day two: ponytail and bangs clipped back. I hustle through the routine while Dustin and the kids are downstairs doing their thing- which is breakfast prep, and an episode of Piper's TV-fav du jour. Dustin typically whips up some pancakes and/or cheesy eggs for all of us, while the jammy-clad girls zone out on the couch.
8:10 (ish)- I join the crew downstairs, and we all eat together. Kind of. The girls eat at the table, while Dustin and I eat/chat/clean/prep/pack my lunch etc. etc. I'm sure there's a way to streamline this (like...don't be so stinking lazy at night?) but we haven't really gotten our act together.

8:15- I should leave.
8:30- I should definitely leave. I gather up all my bags, kiss the babies goodbye (which looks more like chasing Fin down because she thinks it's a game, and yelling "BYE, BYE, BYYYYYYE, PIPER!" repeatedly, because she's once again glued to the remainder of her show, thus, I'm invisible/silent to her.
8:30- AM commute, listening to my current audio book. I also still put my makeup on in the car. I confess this as the first effort to change. Someday.
8:55- Park, and walk to my office. Stop for a covert selfie if schedule allows and wardrobe inspires.
9:00- Arrive at work. From then on, my day looks like: work, work, meetings, work, work, so many meetings, eat something at my desk while working, annnnnnnnnnnd done. It's nothing extraordinary, and not overly hectic compared with what I'm used to. Just a solid stream of stuff to do until it's time to pack up. There's probably always at least a half hour ish of work that just doesn't manage to fit in the day, so it gets pushed to the next one. But by and large, it's a pretty manageable schedule, and I'm thankful that I can get out at 5 most days. (P.s. Even on the rougher days, I don't dare complain. It's a sweet gig, and if I'm being real, many days even involve a snack/treat/booze. #agencylife)


**meanwhile, back at the ranch**
8:30- Two days a week my mom watches the girls- usually Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it's pretty loose. She comes to the house to pick them up, which is extra awesome. So early morning is typically just getting dressed and packing up bla-bla and Jelly (the closest thing they have to "lovies"). If it's a "g'mi/papa day" they go over by 9 and come back after nap, around 4:30ish. (She drops them off too. Is that the best?)

Now, if it's a "daddy day" it typically look a little something like this:

9:00- Play a bunch, or take a bath, or go to Target/Kroger. Or all three.
10:00- Fin probably needs/wants a nap, but that's likely inconvenient because it means staying home pretty much all day, so usually it's better to skip it and try to ride out the crankiness. Snacktime is a good distraction.
10:30- Errand running and more playing, either at home (play doh, coloring, puzzles, stroller racing etc.) or a trip to the indoor playground, aka germ pit, at the mall.
12:00- Lunch...at Chick Fil A if they're really, really lucky.


1:30- Naptime! Dustin jams in the billion and two things he has to get done (usually a work commitment of some kind, or some writing for class, and some housework, plus all the things I put on his daily "if you get a minute, can you just do a few random things for me?" list) before the kids are up again.
3:30- Piper wakes up. She gets to watch a show on PBS kids or Netflix.
4:00- Fin wakes up. Everyone gets a snack. Play, play, play while Dustin gets dinner ready.




**meanwhile, back in the rat race**
5:10- Scramble to wrap up whatever I can, or at least transfer to my to-do list for tomorrow, before sending an "on my way" text and heading out.
5:50- Arrive at home. Most days the family is just sitting down to dinner, so I walk in just in time to join. If they're sitting down already, I'm greeted with loud shouts of MAMA!, and if they haven't yet gathered at the table, then I'm pretty much bowled over with hugs when I walk in. It is: the best. Then we all sit down and hold hands while Piper prays, then we all chat while we eat.
6:30- More playing, while Dustin and I clean up dinner. (sometimes we get a head start while they eat a treat.) This wild hour is usually filled with wrestling, pillow piles, tickling, dance parties, and chasing each other around the "loop" of the kitchen/living room. Sometimes we squeeze in 8 or so rounds of hide and seek, and/or 7 library books.
7:15- Clean up and start the transition up to bedtime. The girls get jammies on, and brush their teeth. If it's early enough we'll read a few books.
7:45- In bed. Lights out. Sweet dreams. Fin might cry for 3 minutes, but then is zonked immediately. 
8:00- Dustin and I tinker around getting a few random things done, but because he does the majority (read: all) of the housework/chores/errands, our evenings are delightfully free. So a typical night involves me blogging or saving pictures etc, and the two of us watching an episode (or 3) of Parenthood on Netflix. I know. The glamour. It's overwhelming sometimes. 
8:30- Piper usually stops singing and goes to sleep. Usually.
10:30- Dustin heads to bed, and I promise I'm right behind him.
12:30- I finally tear myself away from whatever crazy online 

So that's the shape of it right now. Or at least...last week, last month, last year. And now....we enter a new phase that's going to look a bit similar, and also a lot different. I'm scared (justifiably so...we did the whole- both of us work full time thing with two kids for a while, and it was tiring) and excited (justifiably so...we did the whole- both of us work for the same company thing for years, and it was pretty great). We'll have to figure out daycare dropoff again, but we'll get the perks of a carpool buddy. And we'll have a lot more planning to do at night to make things run smoother, but we'll have a little extra cash to potentially justify outsourcing some of that effort (cleaning service? yes please!) It won't always be easy, because nothing is, but I've got the best crew to figure it out with me, so we'll enjoy the adventure as we muddle through it all together.

P.S. If you're diggin' the "slice of our everyday" vibe, you can out all of our Day in The Life posts,

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Show Your Real: Ali

I was "introduced" to Ali by a mutual friend of ours, and though I've only got to know her through her blog and a few exchanged emails, I instantly fell in love with her heart, and connected so easily with her stories. I read her post about her friend Donte and his new home and found myself crying at my desk, in awe of her compassion, and faith. Yesterday she posted an update on that topic, which once again inspires me (and makes me tear up) with its honest portrayal of what faith and disappointment look like- even when they're mired together in the "middle" of the stories God is writing in our lives. I'm honored to be able to point people towards her as an example of transparent struggles and real faith and grateful to have her share some of the lighter (but still real) side of marriage here today.
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When you get married, you learn which traditions you have to keep from your spouse’s family in order to have your spouse in enjoy the holidays.  For my husband, JR, Granny’s homemade cinnamon rolls and homemade apple sauce are a must.


The year we were engaged, when JR would first be spending Christmas with my family, I met secretly with Granny and other women in his family to learn how to make the cinnamon rolls and apple sauce.  I surprised him Christmas morning with his special breakfast.
Two years later, we were back with my family this year for Christmas.  Christmas Eve I head to the kitchen to make the rolls in order to please my husband.  I want him to enjoy time with my family.  I want him to appreciate the effort I make to include his traditions.  I want every part of Christmas day to be perfect.  Maybe you can relate?  Holiday survival – keep the people happy, keep the people full.

Over the course of the hour, I work in the kitchen alone making the dough, rolling it out, and stuffing it with sugary buttery goodness.  (Did I mention we were also working with a shortage of butter and had figured out how to perfectly ration it to get through Christmas day until stores could re-open the day after?)  Right as I’m placing my finished work in the pan, my mom comes in and sees the yeast packet still sitting out.  She asks, “Did you mean to leave out the yeast?” 
Whoops.  Nope.  Absolutely not.  Definitely wanted to have that in there. 

As I’m half laughing/half crying, my husband walks in and asks, “Does this mean we aren’t going to have cinnamon rolls?”  His tone wasn’t angry; it more closely resembled that of a sad little boy who didn’t receive the present for which he hoped.

I had a few options at that point.  Melt down.  Cry because “Christmas was ruined.” Forget the cinnamon rolls altogether. Or go to google, figure out some substitutions and start over from scratch.

The cinnamon rolls did not go according to plan.  I finished the endeavor well after midnight.  The second batch had much less butter than the first.  But the next morning, they were still delicious.

Sometimes my heart desires for everything to go perfectly smooth.  I like everything in the proper place and everyone to be happy.  But sometimes messes and mix-ups happen.  I was reminded this Christmas Eve to laugh at my mistakes and shortcomings; to regroup and try again.  You never know when Plan B may end up better than Plan A.
There may be some messes and mix-ups in your life right now.  They may be involving bigger issues than a batch of cinnamon rolls and a holiday.  But I think the same things are still true.  We need to laugh at our mistakes and shortcomings.  We need to dust ourselves off, regroup and try again.  And we need to trust that sometimes Plan B is a way better option than Plan A was ever going to be.  For me personally, a lot of times Plan A is my plan and Plan B is God’s plan.  I’ve never regretted coming to Jesus in repentance and opting for Him to take control in Round Two.

I’m going to keep baking, keep living and keep embracing my messes as I go.  May you be encouraged to do the same.

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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 to spread the #showyourreal love. And if you would like to contribute a guest post to the series, please email me (cjsbowden@gmail.com).