Friday, April 24, 2015

Little Pip-speaks: Volume 16

Pip-speak #1: 
Piper {regarding shoes}: Daddy, if it's too squeezy that means it's on the wrong foot. 

Pip-speak #2: 
Piper {describing a beach ball with a picture of a dog wearing a scuba tank}: This is a doggy swimming and he has a sack on his back to carry his baby! 

Pip-speak #3: 
Piper: I get furries between my toes every day. I look forward to it.

Pip-speak #4:
Piper {seeing an okapi at the zoo}: He looks like a zebra....He looks like zebra ice cream!

Pip-speak #5:
Piper {relaxing in a deck chair}: Glorioso!

Pip-speak #6:
Piper: Mommy! I need you! I can't sleep. My feet are stinky! 
(and the next night:)
Piper: Daddy! I can't sleep. My hands smell like crayons. 

Pip-speak #7: 
Piper: That's cookie dough, Fin. It's cookie dough ice cream, so it's got cookie dough in it. 
Daddy: You're pretty smart, you know that? 
Piper: I know about ice cream.... 

Pip-speak #8: 
Piper {presumably trying to compliment me on my dress}: Mama, you look prettier than I thought you would! 

Bonus Mommy & Daddy-speak:
Daddy {picking a tiny sock up off the counter}: I think this is the monkey's sock. 
Mommy: I thought so! 
(our life is strange).

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Can you believe it?!
And yes...we're very excited!
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Oh Boy! (or Girl!)

I wrote this Wednesday night before our big ultrasound appointment. Since then we've seen our precious, perfect babe. (And learned the gender.) We couldn't be more thrilled and thankful to "meet" our healthy (and big!) baby. Looking forward to sharing more soon!
Tomorrow is the day...the day we finally get to see this baby! Well...technically we get to see it again, but the first time it was just a little bean, and I couldn't tell its head from its tail. (I'm the worst at deciphering could have literally had a tail and I wouldn't know).

And as much as I'm of course just hoping for a healthy baby with all the right pieces and parts, in all the right places, working the right way, and measuring the right size...I'm also really pumped to find out the gender. Again, that pales in comparison to confirming that this squirmy little bean I've been feeling is doing ok in there, but c'mon...finding out the gender is pretty much the thing we've been waiting for since the minute I saw that plus sign on a stick.

We've been waiting for this day for months, and it feels a little like Christmas Eve. Waiting and waiting, feeling like it'll never come, and then all of a sudden, it's here! I feel like I can barely sleep tonight, I'm so anxious and excited. I told Dustin I felt like I had to write tonight, because this is my last chance to record the "before". Tomorrow will forever be the "after". This is our last day with our mystery baby, tomorrow the he or she will be known, and become real.

And as excited as I am to finally know a little bit more about this little person who is joining our family, I'm also a little scared. The question everyone has been asking us since we announced this pregnancy, is "Are you going to find out the gender?" Well, that and: "Do you have any idea what it is?" "Does it feel different than the girls?" "Do you both want a boy?"
And our answers:
Yes, we're going to find out.
No, we have no clue what it is.
It feels pretty much the same as the girls, which also felt pretty different from each other, and actually I don't really remember, so...see answer #2: we have no clue. 
And as for that last we want a boy? 

Ugh. I just don't know. Above all, truly truly, I just want this baby to know that it is wanted  regardless of any detail about it, including the sex. We weren't trying for a boy (or a girl). We're not having another baby hoping to finally "get our boy" like people sometimes seem to assume. We just wanted another baby...another child. When people ask if we have a preference, I officially say no, because that's the right thing to say, but also because I think I mean it. With Piper...we wanted a boy. That might sound horrible to say, but it's just the vision that we had. We were a little disappointed when we found out we were having a girl, but we both came around quickly and began to love the idea (and of course when we actually welcomed our sweet girl, there wasn't another thought about it...She was, and is, the perfect thing.) With Fin, I desperately wanted a girl. I so badly wanted a sister for my daughter, and was worried this time around I'd get a boy and have the opposite adjustment to make in my mind. (but I fished my wish! Yay for girls, yay for Fin!) But this time, I'm feeling conflicted...and therefore, kinda neutral. If we have another girl, it'd be awesome! We already have everything we need, our girls would be thrilled, The Bowden Sisters legacy would grow... But if we have a boy, it'd be awesome! We'd have a whole new experience, and Dustin wouldn't feel quite so outnumbered.

But on the flip side of the coin, I'm actually kind of scared that it's a girl. And scared that it's a boy. If it's a girl, I worry that I will be a little disappointed...maybe I subconsciously do want a boy. And I definitely worry that Dustin will be disappointed. You've never met a man who loves his daughters more than he does, but still, it's just innate for men to want to raise a son, isn't it? I know he'd adore a(nother) girl, but a little part of me still fears that he'd be a little bummed to not get a little taste of "the blue life".

And if it's a boy? Well that's scary too. I don't know a thing about raising boys. (though it's not like I've really figured out this whole girl thing, so maybe that should be comforting?) I don't have any boy things, I don't know how to change boy diapers...I'm just not a boy mom.

So do we have a preference? Well...I guess not, and yet I still know that no matter what, it's going to be a bit of an adjustment in my brain and my heart. The announcement of It's a ____! will be surreal either way, and knowing Dustin and I (the way I do...) we'll do a ton of shocked staring at each other, repeating, "Can you believe it?"

Ooooh, boy (OR GIRL!)...I just can't wait.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Quilts (are coming) Along

Ok, I know the Quilt-Along just started, but I jumped in fast and deep this time around, so it's already time for an update. I woke up on Saturday obsessed with the idea of making quilts, by afternoon I had bought my first round of fabric, by that night I had some layout ideas drafted, and by the next day I had them colored up and ready to roll. Last time the design process took for-ev-er, and while I do like that part, I also didn't want to over-complicate things this time. I'm working on being more decisive on things like this...trusting my gut and just figuring it out as I go. I'm probably way oversimplifying the entire quilting process, but I found it freeing to just go for it, and trust that it will work out.

So I went to the fabric store with a vague idea of what I wanted:
Coral, Yellow, and Black/White/Grey, in modern graphic prints...with maybe a bird or two mixed in there. (I haven't totally figured out the plan for the girls' room...which is another topic all together...but I do know I want to work in a lot of the stuff from Piper's nursery, so that's a least a starting point.)

Since I didn't have a quilt pattern in mind, I had no idea how much fabric I'd need, so I just winged it. (Is that the right past-tense of wing? I never know...I always want to say wung it. Anyway...) I put literally every appealing option in my cart, sorted by color, dragged them all up to the cutting counter, set aside anything that didn't seem to jive, and started ordering up. I followed an unscientific, and still totally unproven method of buying 1/4 yard of things I liked, 1/2 yard of things I really liked, and 1 yard of a couple I love. I'm sure that won't get the job done, but it was a decent start, and in the end, if I have some extra fabrics they can go back, and I can always (hopefully) find more of something if I need it.

So now for the hard part...Narrowing down all my quilt pin-spiration to my final choices. I decided even though I'm doing two quilts, I only want to do one design. This is partly so they match, but mostly because I think it'll be easier. I can do all the math/thinking one time vs. two. But- I do want the quilts to have a different front and back design, so that they can be switched up for different looks if the girls get sick of one side. So in the end I needed two designs: one for the fronts, one for the backs. And without too much agony, I landed on my favorite inspiration pieces:

There were a ton of other options I liked and considered, but in the end.....Simplicity won out. I know no mater how simple I try to make things, it'll end more complicated than I mean it to be, so I figure let's start with something as basic as possible, knowing that will be plenty hard.

Next, I messed around in Illustrator, working towards a final design. I used the three inspiration quilts as a jumping off point, trying to incorporate what I like about each of them into a final design that works as one cohesive piece. You can see it got a little crazy there, and some of the layouts didn't end up quite as simple as I planned. In the end, I deemed the versions on the left the winners.

Final planning step- fabric layout. This was tough...and I could have belabored it forever, but since I already had my fabrics, I just sat in a heap of it all, playing with possibilities until something felt right. I decided I wanted each quilt to have a neutral side, and a more colorful side, so that they're more versatile. I also landed on doing one more coral dominant, and one more focused on yellow. That way they coordinate, but don't literally match.

I still have some doubts, so it will unfold (or unravel?) as I go, but it's a starting point, and I'm choosing to move forward, trusting that if it's not 100% perfect, it'll still all work out ok. (I mean, worst case I cut some pieces I hate and have to redo them. Or I hate the whole thing in the end...doubtful, but a risk I'm willing to take).

I mocked up the finals in Illustrator again, making quick stand-in versions of the prints, so they require a bit of imagination compared to the real fabrics, but it's enough to help me visualize how it'll all work. And here's where I landed:

Quilt 1: Piper
Front & Back

Piper watched some of the process (and "helped" by taking taking 47 camera phone pictures of my feet) and decided she liked the pink one the that's hers. I still have my fears that she'll hate the whole thing and beg for something purple/covered in hideous characters, but I'm playing the long game on this and hoping I can convince her to value timeless design. Ha.

Quilt 2: Fin
Front & Back

I'm actually still struggling a little bit with Fin's. I'm shocked the grey side was the hardest for me to do! But again, I'm just trusting the process and figure it'll shake out to a good point somewhere along the line.

Up next...Measuring, cutting, and SO MUCH SEWING. Yep, it's all downhill (like a spiral) from here...

So did that glimpse into my madness scare you off from taking up quilting? Or maybe it's inspiring to watch someone with no clue go for it anyway? Join in! Share your project with #stitchittogether

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Stitch-it-together (again)

Remember how I was just going on and on, sharing about how I'm an all-in person, for better or for worse...? Well, I've done done it again, and the project I'm diving into definitely falls into the better AND worse categories. Ready for it?

I'm quilting again!

I got bit by the quilting bug (not the quilting bee...I'm pretty sure that's a whole 'nother thing) a couple years ago, and my (relative) success with my first experiment lead me to attempt an even bigger challenge, and organize a Quilt-Along + make a full size (well...twin sized) quilt. As usual, I didn't let a little detail like- I have no idea what I'm doing- stop me from diving in/dragging people in with me...but I'm glad I went for it. It was fun to have some sewing solidarity, and I made a pretty sweet piece in the end (if I do say so. And I totally do).

So...why not do it again?

We're going to keep it real casual this time probably doesn't even count as a real Quilt-Along due to the complete (and intentional) lack of organization, but who cares, it's just for fun, yes?
Here's the bottom line. I'm going to make two quilts. Yes, two. Because I'm crazy, and because I decided that as we transition the girls into a new big-girl shared bedroom (which we're also doing because I'm crazy) that they need special, one-of-a-kind, made-by-mama, big-girl quilts for their big girl beds. (For the record, Piper would be happy with a store bought anything as long as it was purple with sparkles...And Fin doesn't care if she sleeps with aluminum foil on, as long as she has Jelly. So this, as always, is a need/mess of my own making. P.s. Piper's quilt will not be purple or sparkly. It probably goes without saying that this undertaking is at least 98% about me).

Anyway- I'm making two quilts, and aiming to have them before Summer...of over. And if you're up for it, I'd love to have you join! Make a quilt, or four, or a quilted potholder...finish a quilt you started last time I started this silliness, or just finally sew that button back on a pair of pants...Whatever your talent/time/interest/energy allows for. Because the better of this whole better or worse situation, and the reason I'm doing this is because I want to. It's more expensive, and more time consuming, than buying something, but I love the process of learning and experimenting, and know that I'll be so proud to give the finished products to the girls. So even with the worse parts (agonizing over details, making a mess of my house for months on end while I have pieces here there and everywhere...) it's worth it. And anything worth doing, is worth doing with a friend.

Oh, and if you're intrigued but confused about this whole thing, don't be intimidated by the term Quilt-along. Basically, it's a just group of people who all commit to making a quilt, sharing our progress and encouraging each other along the way. There are some groups where they all work on the same pattern or project etc, but that'll all a little too confining for me. I just wanna make cool stuff, and see your cool stuff, and share in the process of getting to said cool stuff. Let's do it. 
  • Anyone is welcome. Beginner to master. 
  • If you're interested, leave a comment here, or post it on social media, or email me, or tell me in person, or really just do what you want. See how formal we're making this? I just want to know you're in, so I can check in and rave about how awesome you are. 
  • Participants can share progress and pics on social media using the hashtag: #stitchittogether
  • There's no real deadline...But if it's a helpful motivator for you we can make one up? How about June 20? (the last day of Spring). No promises.....
  • And the more the merrier. Feel free to grab a button, post on your blog, pinterest, tweet it, instagram it, email your friends. Spread the word and let's make it a party!
I'll pop in later this week with some details on my quilt(s) so far. Spoiler alert- they're already shaping up quite nicely. I'm trying really hard to make this as stress free as any quilt/Courtney project can be, and so far, so good.

p.s. If you're interested, you can see where my quilt-love started, see my results of the last Quilt-Along or check out all my stitchittogether posts. 
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Show Your Real: Danielle

I don't know about you all, but I think it's been far too long since we had a Show Your Real post...We were going strong as a monthly series, but I dropped the ball on coordinating things, so we took a little unintended break. Thankfully, there are a still a bunch of super wise, super awesome ladies lined up to share, and today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one such lady: Danielle is a blog-friend-of-a-blog-friend, so I haven't gotten to meet her in person...and since she lives in Bangkok, that's probably not going to happen any time soon. But- what I love about Danielle, in getting to know her through her writing, our writers' Facebook group, and some google hangouts, is that though her life may seem totally unrelatable (she lives in Thailand with her missionary husband, and their two adopted teenage girls....Not exactly what I deal with daily...) she, herself, is totally relatable. She's encouraging, honest, and all around good stuff. So I'm thankful to have her posting here today. 
A year and a half ago, my husband and I picked up our suburban, happy, well- established life and moved overseas to serve as missionaries in Bangkok. He had been working with this particular organization traveling to South America for years, and was now going to be doing the same thing traveling throughout Asia.

Obviously, the decision to move was hard. I really liked my life. And there was a lot of sadness that came from knowing that it would never be the same.

With that decision also came lots of praise. People in the church seemed so impressed by us. It was a similar reaction to when we adopted our girls. People  talked about our “selflessness” and “great faith”, and in an instant I felt like the world’s biggest hypocrite.

When we adopted our girls, I was a hot mess of emotions throughout the entire process. God certainly used it to grow my faith, but I wrestled with him at every turn. Then, when we brought the girls home, there were tears for months. They couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t figure out how to communicate things with them. It was a rough few months that would probably not have been best described as selfless or characterized by great faith.

Moving overseas was no different.

I thought I would do well on this little adventure. I thought the gospel would trump my need for comfort and that I would instantly become the “selfless, faith-filled missionary” everyone thought I already was.

Well, I didn’t. I had one of the hardest years of my life, in a country that is far from difficult to live in. I was not only in culture shock, but I was so sidetracked from the kingdom purposes God had used to draw us here. All I could think of was getting back home.

The reality was I was still a hot mess. I was no holier, or more obedient than those who were living “normal” lives in their home countries. I was a sin-filled, cry baby at times.

But, God was the same overseas. He was slow to anger, and gracious to me. He brought to the surface the sin that had been brewing in my heart. He relentlessly pursued worked through the many things that clearly still needed to be worked through.

The reality is moving overseas as a missionary brought a lot of my junk to the surface. It revealed a ton about God and a ton about me. Unfortunately it didn’t reveal this quietly obedient heart whose main purpose was to honor God among the nations.

I believe he is getting me there with some time, lots of grace, and unwavering patience. And for that I am grateful.


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 (

Monday, April 6, 2015

Much too much

Do you guys have a minute for some really self-indulgent whining?

Well, sure, Courtney, when you frame it up so well like that! Please...go on...

Awesome. Thank you. Because last week was a week, ya know? So I kinda need a moment to vent/process/write so many words about it. It wasn't even that it was a bad week, it was just one of those All-The-Things weeks. You know the ones. Where all of the joys, and trials, and opportunities, and commitments, and things converge within a matter of days and run together, so they don't even seem good or bad anymore, they just feel like: Much. Like much too much. 

I'd invoke the "when it rains, it pours" analogy here, but I'm not quite sure that's quite right. Because last week wasn't exactly a downpour, it was just life; All the regular parts of life, in a constant shower, that didn't seem especially forceful in the moment, but somehow still accumulated to some damage, leaving me sopping, and cold, and well...weathered. 

I knew it was going to be a busy week (I know, I know, we're all busy, and I try not to talk about it, but I got your approval upfront, so on we go...) Easter was around the corner, I'm in my most hectic season at work is, I had a few writing commitments to get to on the side...But lo and behold- knowing about the busy, and executing the busy, are two very different things that come with very different feelings. 

Because day-in-day out I know the roles I have to play: Wife. Mama. Mama to another one. Mama/carrier/life force to one not-yet-fully-formed. Worker bee. Blogger/Social Media maven (jokes!). Friend (that one sort of gets thrown in there as a know, in case there's time after the first six-ish things take their place). And I'm good with those roles. They're who I am, and who I've signed up to be, and who I want to be. But...they're also kind of a lot. 

(there's an overly deep metaphor caption in this somehow...Such fancy shells made to look beautiful to the world; and still such fragility and brokenness...No, I'm never like that...)  

And this week, I kept all of those roles, and piled on some additions: Worship team singer, Business trip taker, The Easter bunny's official secret helper, and Church decorator. (Oh. And I got a fierce cold. Because of couuuuuuurse.)

Again...all good things (well, minus that nasty cold), and all things I really want to be and do and say yes to. (and you KNOW how much I like to say yes!) But too much of some very good things, can still be too much. 

I related so much to Joy, describing the hardest part of her current season of life- as "everything": 
"That desire to do so many things, and the desire to keep doing more...It's sort of my personality- the traits that have brought all of these great things are also kind of a curse in disguise, because you can never just rest and celebrate in the things that you've already done"
Yes. This. The solution to many of my problems would be less. Do less, say yes less, care less, be less. But I'm not a less person. I'm a more person. An and person. A more and more, and more is more person. And to go a little Michael Scott on you: my greatest weaknesses? I work too hard. I care too much. And sometimes I can be too invested in my job. (Ok, not really. My greatest weaknesses are much, much worse things, that I don't have the time or vulnerability to list now). But you get it. I'm passionate, I feel big. I'm all in. I can't really turn that off, even when my head and body are warning me that they're about at their limit.

So when someone asks if I'll sing for Good Friday church service? I say yes. And I download all the songs, and I practice in the car on my way to and from everywhere else. And when someone needs to decorate for both Easter weekend services? I say yes. And I pin a million ideas, shop for supplies, and stay up way too late transforming a hula hoop and 29 yards of fabric into a giant hanging canopy. (that turned out pretty sweet, if I can brag for just a second). And when we still haven't figured out how to balance a world of work and two kids? Well...I welcome the idea of a third. Because it doesn't make sense, but oh do I still know it's right. 

But what's my point? Because my goal is certainly not to go on and on about how many things I have in the hopper, and it's definitely not to humble brag about my crazy-full life (that decor shout out was actually out-right bragging...but you have to give me a tiny pass, as I've been out of the retail game for a bit so it's fun to feel like I can still make pretty.) I guess my point is to process this all through writing. And one of the conclusions I've come to, is that most of the time "more is more" works out. It's my natural inclination, so I just pile everything on, hope for the best, and hustle my way through. But inevitably, it does catch up with me...not every time...but last week for sure, and many other weeks before. My hustle wears out, and the pressure to do and be everything I've committed to- everything I want- becomes too much, and I'm reduced to a puddle of  Jesse Spano tears. That's not a new pattern, and it's probably not something I can (or will) change. I'll always be the big-idea girl, who bites off more than I can chew, and drags my loved ones into the mess of my own making. It's not exactly a thrives on chaos problem, but it's definitely a doesn't know another way type of situation. It's occasionally problematic for sure, but it's also just me.

And I guess my other point, is that when the metaphorical rain slows- and the tears cease- I can see more clearly (there's a song in there somewhere, I'm pretty sure...), to realize how lucky I am to play all the roles that I do. Yes, it's a lot to be a mom of 2.5 children, and work, and volunteer, and, and, and... But it's also a whole lot of blessings. I get to be a mom...of two of the most adorable blonde piglets I've ever known. I get to work at a job I love, doing work that inspires me, with people I enjoy- all while knowing my kids are well loved and taken care of while I'm there. I get to serve within caring and passionate teams of people, creating experiences that demonstrate the Gospel in real ways. I get to sing, and make crafts, and hang out with friends, and read at least a couple chapter of book club assignments. I get to do ALL THE THINGS. 

So it is all way way too much. More than I can handle. And more than I deserve. 

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