Friday, August 22, 2014

Thrive Moms: Made For This

I'm over at Thrive Moms today...sharing my fears over not feeling like I'm "made for motherhood"...
You see...I know the things that come naturally to me, and they are not the things of motherhood. My natural inclinations are towards the things of this world. The things that serve me. The things that are fun, and easy, and selfish.
Yikes. Can you relate?
Head over to the Thrive Moms blog for the full story...and maybe tell me I'm not alone?

(p.s. I may not fall effortlessly into all of being a mama...but the lovin'- that part I got.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Show Your Real: Amanda K.

Show Your Real + Real Life Friend is my favorite combination ever. (Except maybe Coke Zero + vanilla ice cream. That pair is rrrrrrrright up there.) Amanda (who I strictly call by her last name, so even typing Amanda is crazy weird for me) is a former coworker of mine who wised up faster than me in terms and fled the wild world of corporate retail a few years back. Our friendship has now outlasted our shared office tenure by at least six years, and is maintained entirely through emails, facebook messages and comments typed one-handed while pacifying our babies. She shares my passion for design, photography, well-researched parenting literature, and was the impetus behind my post-turned-novel about work/life/mama-ing/all the things. She's whip-smart, and a fervent supporter of women, openness, and thankfully: me. I tell her often how thankful I am to to have her (someone like her...but more specifically ACTUAL her) in my network of life, even if our interactions are entirely bound to the virtual realm. I'm blessed to get to share her beautiful heart with you all here.

(And in case you find her irresistible too- you can find more of her images and stories over at Leap Day Studio).
I hate dusting.
There are 26 picture frames in our living room - each with a noticeable layer of top dust. 
If I were of the hoarding nature, I would grow this collection of snapshots.
Expressions of wonder and surprise, awe and investigation, love and laughter would fill our walls.  The stories of days easily within view - not stashed in computer galleries or tucked away in a yearbook. 
This is the stuff of a successful life. 
I’ve come to realize it’s not all spreadsheets and conference calls.
But alas, I hate dusting.  And the kids can’t climb a ladder to help.

My Real is my home.  It’s a humble place with dented walls from thrown objects, carpet spots from over-zealous snacking, rooms with stories of diy and labor pains, design plans for the future, kid chaos of the present, and memories (both harsh and happy) of the past 9 years.  We plan to stay here until our grey hairs are plentiful and our nest is empty.

My Real is my people.  We are a tribe of four:  a hard-working hubby, a newly minted four-year old girl who is both kind and sassy, and a quick moving one-year old boy who has a giggle to lift the heaviest of hearts, and momma me.  The days of giggles, snuggled story time, tiny socks, colorful toys, and you-are-the-center-of-my-world hugs are numbered.  But for all my sentimental ways…it excites me.  Oh, to see our children grow and emerge as individuals – wide-eyed and ready.  A gift.

These are the best parts of my Real - full of gratitude and appreciation for the awesomeness of the people and place we have been given charge of to love.


I’m having a birthday next month.  Kind of a big one.  My Real is…I’m not where I thought I’d be at this age.  My over-achieving mind has ached for many moons these past years for a career not realized and accomplishments untapped.

I know what you are thinking:  “The world is her oyster!  There are many years of prime creativity, years to reach goals.  Don’t give up!!”  To that I say this:

I thought I would be at a certain level based on what I thought I SHOULD be, versus WHO I truly am.  Your brain is aching, right?  Here’s the scoop:

Before life evolved into a full-time-at-home mom gig, I was a great many things – a
Type A over-achiever with a bit too much worry, a get-it-done hard worker, a sentimental gal with a love of technology, and a wife with a penchant for list making, home improvements, meals from scratch, goal reaching, and alone time. 

I am still all of those things.  But I am a mom, too.  And mommahood changes reality (exponentially, the second time around). And that is OKAY. 

I left a career to start a family.  I left a job to nurture two kids and support my husband’s career - one that takes him on many, many airplanes.  
I was the solid.  I could do this.  Still the ache of SHOULD.  SHOULD DO MORE.

After years of schooling, I believed career accomplishment would by my only way to create a wholly successful life, anything less was a waste of my talents and was just me being lazy.
WHAT?!  Yeah, I know.  Crazy. 

Newborn feedings were spent pep-talking myself and fighting resentment, “You could do it.  So many of your friends do.  You have the ability.  Why not?!  You’d be happier.  You’d be a success.” 
The “why not?” had me digging deep for months, because it just didn’t feel right for me to jump back on the career path.

And one day, there it was:  because I’m me and not them. 
After I truly accepted that realization, I said good-bye to a few things - perhaps for always.

Like a career. 

A painful blow.  A large lesson in being selfless and sacrifice for the people I love, including myself.  It was a complete shift in how I was defining success.  Maybe being happy and knowing your sweet spot was success in itself. 

I stopped trying to shove myself into a place I didn’t fit any longer.  After a sit-down chit-chat with my hubby (to share the epiphany I should have had many tearful months prior) I bought a new camera to celebrate.

So here I am.  Almost a year later.  Mom life is hard.  I don’t really love it.  I still have resentment on especially difficult days.  Just like thousands of women who go to work each day just to put food on the table but don’t love what they do.  They still do it. 
They show up and they do their work.  
Because they love their people – so, so much.

My current work is kids.  The messes, the milestones, the worries, the crafts, the baths and all of it.  Without the ache of SHOULD, my mind is open to COULD.

And that silly story about the 26 picture frames?  And the celebratory camera? 
The possibilities are endless.  

Photo Credits Karissa Diagostino

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, August 18, 2014

Our life in squares

You know what I love more than anything? (ok...that's way too definitive to possibly be true, but let's just pretend for a minute) Photography. More specifically? Iphone-ography. more specifically? Instagram-ography. 

But as much as I love snapping all those tiny pics, I get sad when the only place I can see them is on my tiny phone screen. I miss real prints. I want those little square memories turned into real live mementos. But you know what I hate more than anything (again...not at all possible that I've truly narrowed it down to my one true thorn...) spending forever saving, selecting, resizing, grouping, arranging, and printing those pictures. Way (way) back in the day I tried my hand at scrapbooking, but it can be monstrously time consuming, and equally expensive. Then I got into making blurb books, which is noteably easier, but I still found myself agonizing over the details a bit (a lot) too much. 

Well, my friends- I think I've found the answer....Chatbooks

 (P.s. we got a new ottoman too. And it's a tufted bunch of loooooove.)

In case you haven't heard, Chatbooks is a new(ish) site/app that helps make cute little books of your pics. They're 60 pages of cuteness for $6. Yep. That's a Lincoln + a Washington (to be fair that could also mean 26 cents, but 6 bucks is still one helluva deal). That even includes the shipping. And the best part? It takes about 5 minutes to make them. Even someone who manages to overthink and belabor everything (me) can keep this simple. Download the app, pick the photos you want to include, choose your cover and write a title. Donezo. 

Chatbooks, Shutterfly, Blurb. You're all welcome here!

Even better- I was able to include photos from Dustin's insta-feed too. All of our photos combined in one place, printed out on real live paper, without hours of fussing over the details? Yes please. 
The last blurb book I printed was just before Fin was born, so we had quite the virtual collection to catch up on. But still, it was quick and easy. I spent a few minutes unchecking all our less than stellar snaps, and then sent out my order. A few days later- my memories were officially on the books. (or in some books). Behold: 

I'm not getting a kickback, or really a benefit of any kind by sharing...other than the joy of maybe saving you a few precious minutes, when trying to document a million precious memories. And my honest review: I'm impressed with the quality. At 6"x6" and 60 pages, they're small and thin, but the print clarity is good, and the matte feel and weight of the paper is nice. I miss the ability to combine multiple images on a page, and customize layouts, but what I gave up in control, I more than gained in efficiency. 

And my favorite FAVORITE part, is the captions. Previously, my Instagram books were photos only, so to have the captions automatically included under each photo is simply awesome. I love having the memories of the images, with the extra context of my original quips.

 (bonus shot of another love of mine: my recent ombre manicure.)

Yes, there are a couple weird bits- emojis print out as black and white sketches, I accidentally selected to include location tags- which don't always translate directly, and some of my more long winded ramblings end up in size 2 font...but still...I can't say enough about the ease-to-quality ratio. It was all so simple, with such a great end product, that I can't complain about the nitpicky details.


So I say: Go! Print the pictures. Save the memories. And save some time.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Little Pip-speaks: The Throwback Edition

The From the mouth of  a 1 3/4 year old babe edition.
(Originally written- but never posted- just over a year ago.)

Pip-speak #1: Words that "rhyme" least when she says them
(so we're all about context clues around here).
Big truck
Wake up!

Pip-speak #2: Repeating new words ad nauseum, to get a feel for them
{Hearing a dog bark}: "Puppy, loud. Loud. Puppy. Puppy loud. Loud puppy." 
{Getting in her carseat}: I buckle? Shin buckle? Mama buckle? Papa buckle? Jacob buckle?...
Pip-speak #3: Signature silliness
{Putting a swim diaper on her hand}: A puppet!

Pip-speak #4: Emotional development
"I pushin'. Mad. Not nice."

Pip-speak #5: Words I hope she never learns to say correctly
He' go! {aka "Here you go"}
Soddy {aka "sorry"}
Heaby! {aka "heavy"} 
Re-rah {aka zebra} 

Pip-speak #6: All day every day
{Regarding all things} That my's!!!
{Regarding all places} I come too!

Pip-speak #7: Fin's unofficial vocal representative:
aka: Shin cryin'. Shin sad. Shin happy. Shin sleepin'....{etc. and so on all day}

{Fin, crying due to hiccups}
 Piper: Fin sad. 
 Mama: Yes, do you know why? 
Piper: Poop?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


“And Grace calls out, 'You are not just a disillusioned old man who may die soon, a middle-aged woman stuck in a job and desperately wanting to get out, a young person feeling the fire in the belly begin to grow cold. You may be insecure, inadequate, mistaken or potbellied. Death, panic, depression, and disillusionment may be near you. But you are not just that. You are accepted.' Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted.” ― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
I am insecure. And inadequate. And after two kids (and not nearly enough exercise) I could very well be described as potbellied. 


I am not just that. 

Yes, I am a mess sometimes. And sometimes, often means when I'm awake.  
I am short-tempered, and self-centered, and impatient, and selfish (and redundant!) I am a linty of the very worst things.  

And maybe, if I was feeling generous with myself, I could list some great things I am too, but that would still be futile, because the good would never cancel out the bad- not in number, or magnitude. Because for all my wins, and strengths and I am still at my core: a ragamuffin. Unworthy of a perfect love. Unfit for the adoration of a King.



The very next line in my story...the words that follow all of the mess and muck and yuckity yuck of my imperfect heart? 

I am accepted. 

Not because I deserve it. But because my creator says I'm worth it. 

So I'll never stop striving to be better. And I'll probably never be able to ignore my own flaws. But the beauty is that my forgiveness doesn't have to come from me. I don't have to find grace for myself, it's given to me freely, and abundantly, by a God who sees every piece of me and still (and forever) calls me His beloved.

I am a ragamuffin. And I am accepted.

What a beautiful and powerful juxtaposition to live in each day.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Crib notes

Babies are cute and all, but sleeping babies? That's a whole other category of adorable. Their little squishy bodies get even squishier, and their tiny angel faces and teeny little puppy snuffle breaths make you forget all about the havoc they raised nonstop before they finally gave in to exhaustion. And I know there is a saying about letting sleeping babies lie (dogs, really. But we have a "you wake it you take it" rule with our kids, so it's similar) but sometimes the adorableness is just too adorable, and I find myself powerless against the urge to sneak in there and document the heartbreaking sweetness of it all.

This particular day, Fin was rocking an extra long nap, so I wasn't too concerned about waking her. Plus I had accidentally left the blinds open, and her clothes were serendipitously coordinated with her bedfellows (her doggie, and quilt). All of that is pretty much the equivalent of the stars aligning for an impromptu photoshoot.

She's a living, breathing cherub, no?
I mean...look at the piggies!

And the quilt. My adoration maybe got a little misplaced for a minute when I was distracted by how much I still love that little beauty.

And then...whoops. The lady stirreth.
(upping her cuteness game with some bedhead, big sleepy eye-rubbing, a little baby potbelly, and some chubby ham-hocks.)

She was astounded to see me. Natch. 

But warmed up quickly, and was her coy, silly, supremely awesome self in no time.

She humored my snap snapping...

Until she didn't. 

But all was well when big sister came "to check on her" as usual (bringing Daddy along of course).

This girl. Is just too, too much. I wish I could hand out tiny Fins everywhere I go, so everyone could experience the joy of this little nugget. But instead, I'll settle for blogging one million pictures of her perfect round face. Happy Monday, Internet, from Fin and me.
P.s. Thanks to all who entered the giveaway. Congrats to the winner, Breann!

And speaking of things that are awesome: have you checked out the new Bowdenisms facebook page yet? I think you probably should. But of course I would say that.

Friday, August 8, 2014


My relationship with Pinterest goes through ebbs and flows, but currently we're in a stage of Deep Love. We just get each other, and lately have been staying up too late, dreaming and planning our life together.

Ok. Weird.

But really. Pinterest is awesome, and if you can wade through the cheesy quotes, excessive chevron use, and 99+ Toddler Activities to Make In Your Crockpot For Under 25 Cents articles, then it can be such an awesome resource for projects. And if you’re like me, and you have a million ideas floating around in your head (and at least half that many windows open in your iPhone browser) then it does really help to control the chaos. But- the hard truth of Pinterest is that it’s only useful if you use it. (Profound much? Let me make that into a graphic for you. You can pin it.) What I mean is, we all have a thousand pins (or 4.1K pins in my case) that we have unofficially flagged as “someday” ideas, but how often do you actually refer back to them? Let alone actually attempt/complete the project you had in mind? If you’re me? Not often.

But I want to change. I want to take those someday ideas, and make them someday soon ideas. And I want to take those “this makes me laugh” pins and…well…laugh at them. And share with others. I’ve actually forced Dustin into a semi-regular weekly routine, of Going Through My Pins, where I open up Pinterest and walk him through everything I’ve pinned that week. Some of it is him humoring me- knowing it’s not enough for my to amass a creative file…I have to talk it out. But some of it I think is helpful for him too. He can catch my vision for shared projects, and get inspired about joining in to make it happen. Last week he even emailed ME a pin for our bedroom!

So to share the love, I thought it would be fun to start a feature around here, that I’m calling:

It’ll just be a few things that caught my attention recently. Hopefully sharing things here will inspire you and encourage me. That’s what we call a Pin/Win/Win.

It comes in adult sizes on this hilarious site, but I keep picturing Piper in the mini-size and it just cracks me up. (And if you don’t get the reference, check out the video that started it all.)

I’m so not a lipstick person. I’m more of a Dr. Pepper chapstick person at best.
But I’m a sucker for anything coral, so I’m working up the courage to give this a shot.

Our laundry room is impossibly tight, so getting rid of the traditional door in favor of a sliding door would help a ton to free up some space. Plus it would help with the industrial vibe I’m trying to make happen in our kitchen (forging “industrial chic" out of a 2002 suburban plan home is an uphill battle for sure…but every bit helps.)

I’m kind of obsessed with kids' rooms in general right now, as we start to think about how to make Piper’s room more fun. (it’s currently a dingy off-white box). I’m halfway obsessed with the gold polka dots, and all the way obsessed with the two girls jumping on their side-by-side beds. Our girls don’t need to share a room…But if it ended up this cute, I might do it anyway. 


Because obviously

 If you’re not already following me on Pinterest, hop on over and see the other four thousand projects on my to-do list. Have a great weekend!