Thursday, February 4, 2016

Quilt Dreams

One thing I've learned about myself over the years, is that I have a deep need to create. And while the ways and projects in which that need manifests itself don't always makes the most sense, I at least know I can't ignore it. So it doesn't come as a shock that I've become pretty addicted to quilting. After attempting my first little quilt, getting a bit more ambitious with my second one, going all out with two matching versions for my girls, and whipping up a little one for my little guy, I found myself longing for another project. No, I don't actually have the space, time or energy for it, but have I let that stop me before? Heck no. I'm a maker. Logistics be darned!

Immediately after I finished Miller's quilt, I knew I wanted to do another one. (it's kind of like the minute we had him I knew I wanted another one. But that's another addition topic for another day. A day where Dustin isn't looking at me with a mix of disapproval and panic). Miller's quilt was different than the others I've done because it was made up of lots of small pieces, vs. larger, more geometric designs. It was more work in a way, because there were so many tiny pieces, therefore more seams to sew, but it was also nice to have a really straight forward design based on squares. I didn't agonize over the design and size and shape of the layout, measuring 80 times and flipping my brain inside out trying to remember all my high school geometry formulas. I just cut squares, laid them out, and started stitching. (Ok, that makes it sound a tad easier than it was...but that truly is the gist).  

So for my next quilt, I planned to try something more in that vein. Still modern, but based on more of a standard design. I wanted to minimize the long, drawn out planning process, and just dive into the fun part- the making part, and most of all: the seeing it come to life part. 

The first step though, was determining where this quilt would eventually live. It turns out babies take just a bit longer to make than quilts (I'm a pretty slow sewer though, so it's almost a tie), so I was all caught up on my quilt to people ratio. But a little detail like not technically needing another quilt certainly wasn't going to stop me from making another quilt. Fortunately, our guest room was in need of a little jolt of color (the bright side to that room not quite feeling finished), so I thought a quilt would be the perfect addition to that space. 

I pinned, and surfed and dug through my inspiration files, and I finally landed on this one as my muse: 

Beautiful. But also: simple. 

My original idea was to do squares in a gradient from corner to corner. I liked that I could just use charm packs (bundles of fabric already cut into 5" squares) to make the cutting/measuring part pretty non-existent, and allowing me to focus on the fun of working with color and placement. So I found a line of solids I liked, and ordered a few color collections that worked with the color scheme of the guest room (mostly creams, browns, yellows and purples). 

But when I laid them all out...I wasn't in love. 

I can't quite put my finger on why it wasn't working for me. Part of it is that I'm just not usually a warm color person (blue/white stripes: all day every day). So even though my fabric matched my guest room (a room I really do like, even if it doesn't yet feel quite complete) it still just feels like a stretch to my personal aesthetic. I figured I could whip up the gradating squares pattern without too much trouble...but that's not exactly the point. I'm in this for the love of the game (so to speak) so there's no need to rush the process to get to the end result. I want to adore what I'm making...So it was back to the drawing board. 

I sifted through my inspiration again, looking for ways I could tweak my plan that might make me fall in love all over again. And I finally stumbled on an old pin of mine

This isn't actually a quilt- it's a photograph (by artist Jessica Eaton). But I fell instantly in love, and became obsessed with figuring out how I could reinterpret this piece of art into a new piece of art in a different medium.

But here's where it gets crazy. I'm not so sure I can actually make this happen. (Coincidentally, this is how pretty much all of my quilts start...) It's not actually that difficult of a concept, it's still just sewing squares together. But I'm concerned about the time and precision it'll take to work with so many tiny squares, get the layout just right, and make sure everything lines up perfectly. 

So now I'm at the stage where I sit in a pile of fabric, mulling things over, trying to figure out how I'm going to make this vision a reality. (This is why quilts tend to take me a while. Big dreams. Limited talent). I'm still in over my head as to exactly how I'm going to pull this off, but I've pretty much committed myself to making it happen one way or another.

My idea is to cut each of my charm squares into four smaller squares (2.5" each), so I have a bunch (like...a bazillion) tiny squares, to mimic the pixelated look of the original. Then I'll try to do each row in some sort of gradient, then put multiple rows together to form the striped/wave pattern the photo has. As for alignment- I'm still debating that. I'm not sure if I will truly be able to do it perfectly, so that has me a little worried. I'm considering making all my horizontal rows consistently, but then intentionally staggering them so that it doesn’t form a perfect grid. This could compensate for any of my (inevitable) mistakes, and make the whole project more forgiving, but still look cool. (RIGHT?) I'd still have to maintain straight and even seaming so it doesn't get all wonky. but I'm hoping that starting with charm squares (which are perfectly square) will give me a head start towards success. (RIGHT?)

In the meantime, I've ordered some more colors to help round out my design (I got some greens, and blues). I don't want it to get too rainbow-y, but I'm hopeful that if I include a ton of neutrals and am thoughtful about how I group things it will turn out how I'm picturing it. (RIGHT?)

While I wait for those to arrive, I've been pinning techniques that might help me dream this impossible dream. Unfortunately, most of the quilts that use tiny squares go with more of a random order, or a checkerboard design, which allow for some shortcuts that don't seem like they'll work for mine. I found a pretty intriguing tutorial that suggests using fusible interfacing as a backer, so that's a possibility. I know, I know, we're getting in pretty deep on the details here...But bottom line, I'm basically IN LOVE with that picture, and about 25% of the way towards having a plan to make it happen. Luckily, I'm just the right combination of bold + ignorant to think 25% is more than enough, and I should just press on. (Please refrain from reminding me of this moment/mistake 8 weeks from now when I'm buried in postage stamp sized scraps, crying over yet another "eyes bigger than my stomach" crafting situation. I fear no matter the messes I get myself into, I'll still never change. It's best to accept that, and move on. Boldly and ignorantly blissful).

So there you have it. I'll keep you posted. Meaning- expect to see some progress in the next decade or so. 

Oh- and if you're a quilter, PLEASE chime in with advice on how I could possibly streamline this process...or at least somehow limp towards my goal. Or if I'm truly, truly crazy, please make an impassioned plea for me to abandon this nonsense before I even start. I promise to (probably) listen. 

And if you're not a quilter- 1: thanks for reading this far. Consider the baby pic in at the end your reward for slogging through design details. and 2: feel free to encourage me in my quest anyway. Or share some crazy feat (cooking something special? running a something-K? trying to go to bed before midnight?) you're attempting these days so I can encourage YOU!

(P.s. for an interesting take on the intersection of quilting/career/motherhood...check out this feature on one of my favorite quilting inspirations...)

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Stuck in the middle

Last week, I read a post by one of my long-time favorite bloggers, and found myself nodding so hard my neck hurt. Yes...YES. I so get this feeling:
A morning at home: kids off to school and a somewhat open day presents itself. And all of a sudden I’m torn about how to spend it.  
I need down time; I should just watch 100 shows on Netflix. I need growth; I should read something that challenges my faith, my parenting philosophy. I need rest; I should nap all morning. I need endorphins; I should exercise. I need to get ahead on household chores; I should clean and organize. I need to work; I should catch up on emails and phone calls. I need to see my friends; I should meet someone dear for coffee. I need fresh air; I should bundle up take the dogs for a walk in the snow.  
And then, as I’m weighing out these options, the morning is already half-gone. I’m crippled by the indecision and no choice feels like it’s quite enough, or the right option to pursue.  
Ummmmm, anyone else?
(I know it's probably frowned upon to long-form copy paste like this, but she just articulated this so well. I'll link to her again...go...come back if you wish, but I'm not mad if you wanna hang out with her instead!) 

I go through something similar pretty much every night after we (fiiiiiiiinally) get the kids in bed:
I should clean. Ok, I must clean. But I'm so tired. I should just go to bed. But that's no fun. I should do something fun. Like what? Hobbies sound exhausting. I do have some writing to get done. Ugh, but that requires me to think of words, and I'm pretty much out of words. And ideas. And coherent thoughts. Lemme just check what's new on social media for a minute. Oops, I mean 45 minutes, how did that happen? Ok, seriously I need to clean. J/k let's just watch some reality TV until we fall asl-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Oh wait, I hear the baby crying......
Life with three little angels/monsters/ kiddos (plus jobs, plus....oh I don't know, just like, regular adult responsibilities...) is awesome, and yet also draining in every way possible. Being constantly focused on the needs of little people makes me crave "me time"- hobbies, projects, brain stimulation- but the never ending cycle of doing also makes me want to just curl up and take a nap. I find myself stuck in the middle: wanting to do everything and nothing at the same time. Doing nothing feels like a lazy waste, but doing anything feels exhausting.

I get paralyzed in this middle zone, and more often than not, I end up puttering around- doing a little of this, and a little of that until I realize it's later than I wanted, I didn't really do anything of value, and I probably should have just gone to bed. Is there anything wore than feeling like you don't have any time, but then mindlessly wasting the time you do have because you can't quite land on how you want to spend it? Well...yes. There are probably about a million things worse than my basic complaint-fest. But you get me.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and I would complain to my mom: "I'm so booooorrrrrrrrred." If she was already annoyed, she might respond, "Only boring people are bored", (actually...I'm not sure she ever said that, even if she probably should have). Usually she'd try to help, listing off activities or tasks I could do. But like the petulant child I was, I'd dismiss each suggestion. No. No. No. No. No. I didn't want to be bored, but I didn't exactly want to do anything either.

And that's where I find myself right now. Stuck in the middle. Maybe it's a case of the post-baby semi-blues, maybe it's the wintertime funk, but there have been quite a few nights these days where I've started with great intentions, and ended with a half melted bowl of ice cream snoozing through the last 10 minutes of Top Chef again.

I believe the appropriate phrase here is: The struggle is real.

I'm trying to be patient with myself, trusting I won't always feel this slothful. This season with lots of little ones, and very little sleep is a tough area to succeed in. And deep down I know that given all that's on our plates these days, it's a little unreasonable to push myself too hard towards some imaginary late-night productivity target. A little vegging out is necessary. I'm confident that sooner than later the winds will shift again, and things will feel a bit more balanced. In the meantime I have a freezer full of ice cream, and a DVR full of reality shows. And in this moment- that sounds pretty perfect.

Anyone else feel this push and pull between the two sides? Intentions vs. ability, desire vs. exhaustion? How do you handle that frustrating middle place?
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Monday, January 18, 2016


Guess what! It's my birthday! 
Guess what else!? I'm turning 32, and I have 3 kids, so things (understandably) aren't all about me anymore...

Now, I'm not trying to be a martyr. I still looooove my birthday, and we did celebrate this weekend with a super fun little shin-dig, and a date night last night. So don't cry for me Argentina. The truth is, I'm very well taken care of. But at the same time, birthdays look a little different these days. With a gaggle of little ones running around, I don't exactly have the luxury of having things revolve around me. I do have a few more people to celebrate with (Fin has been singing for about a week) but in the end, 32 isn't exactly anything to write home about. Plus, I'm pretty certain no one wants to see 9 pics of my face for this milestone, so let's switch gears and celebrate a different Bowden bday: Miller is five months! 

He continues to get cuter, and cuter, but truth be told, there were moments (days/weeks) this month where I thought we weren't going to make it. I thought for sure we were going to have to hire an Alice to help with our half-bunch, or find out if gypsies are still in the market for spare children. But something clicked mid-month, and our fussy baby turned himself around, and became his loveable self again. Praise hands.
(Though he did pull an epic all nighter last night. So we don't appear to be out of the baby-tyrant woods quite yet.)

So my birthday weekend this year wasn't all sleeping in, massages, flowers, presents, and general selfish gluttony like the old days (to Dustin's credit, it was at least little bit of all of that...we just had a couple early mornings, a few tantrums, and a whole lot of messes packed in there too). But having this little smooshy face- plus the two older Bowden ladies- in my life (even the wee morning hours of my life) is the best gift I could dream of. 

Happy five months, Miller B. You're a dreamboat, and I couldn't be happier you're mine. (Now go to sleep!)

Previous months: 123, 4
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Monday, January 11, 2016

Sealed with a...

Happy New Year! (I believe the year still counts as "new" for at least a month. Maybe five.)
Things have been wild around here, so I'm happy to be back in action with my first post of the year, even if it did take me a while. I'd like to say I have all kinds of reasons for not making time to write, but really it comes down to two things:
  1. Binge-watching Making a Murderer
  2. Running the Bachelor pool
I'll spare you a detailed rant here, but it's safe to say if you've seen me in person at any point in 2016, those are probably the only two things I talked about. (They're both so crazy and addicting in entirely different ways).

But in addition to holing up on my couch, eyes glued to my TV, I have managed to do at least a little bit of (slightly) deep thinking. It is the New Year, after all, and heaven knows I love me some introspection, goals, planning and resolutions. I wrote a post on this topic for Thrive Moms last week, (proof I haven't let my brain go entirely to mush) actually talking about how we shouldn't feel pressure to make resolutions...which for me has been really good to remember. But while I'm letting go of the over-anxious striving, and stringent rules for myself, I'm still thinking about what I want to focus on this year, and where I can look for growth. I'm still in processing mode for the most part, but I think I've landed on two things I want to do (besides watch Making a Murderer, and run a Bachelor pool):
  1. Have a small every day resolution
  2. Choose a "word of the year"
I’ve done resolutions a few different ways over the years…ranging from choosing annual themes, writing a full list, and just ignoring the task entirely (if you’re interested: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) Let's skip the long winded recap and I'll just sum it up: I haven’t been overwhelmingly successful with any approach. Best intentions. Rough follow through. Some years were better than others, and I've got some thoughts on what process works best for me. But all that's still simmering for a bit, so for now we'll just focus on goal #1- one small task I'll aim to do every day. 

I found this goal tracker and loved the simplicity of it, and the message: "Big Things Happen One Day at a Time". It's a great reminder not to get overzealous (and overwhelmed) by a huge change- I can just take little steps forward, one at a time, every day. I pondered what I'd want to focus on, aiming to find something I knew I could be successful at, but that would still stretch me and lead me towards a worthwhile end. I'm self aware enough to know that anything involving exercise was going to be a near-immediate failure. And while I have some other creative challenges I might want to pursue, I didn't want to get too rigid about those. Also, I wanted to make sure that I chose something that I really could see myself doing every single day for the full year...not something I'd approach with gusto now, but then get burned out on, or even maybe complete before the year was over.'s what I landed on:

 Yep. My goal, every day this year, is to kiss my husband.

Surprised? too, a little.
I don't write a lot about marriage here, which in a way is a little odd, because it's such a huge part of my life. But because it's a partnership, it doesn't feel fully mine to talk about. I do love the idea of being transparent and authentic, but I also want to be respectful, and appropriately private with what I share. It can be a funny balance; if I talk about how much I love being married, and how awesome my husband is (I do, and he is) then it sounds like sappy bragging (which no one likes). But if I'm too open about our struggles (which we do have...despite all that sappy brag-worthy stuff) then it can sound like complaining or give the appearance that we're worse off than we are. And of course, no one likes their mistakes or shortcomings blasted out to the public, so I try to be thoughtful about how I'd want to be portrayed, and only write things about others that they'd want to read...inclusive- especially- of my husband. (but let's be real, he's pretty much perfect, so that makes my writing job easy. ;)

So as I share my goal to kiss my husband daily, I want to give some details to help round out the full picture. Dustin and I are very much in love. We are also very much buried in the overwhelming task of raising three small humans. And try as we might to prevent it, that second part can sometimes trump that first part. Parenting is hard work, and it comes with the sacrifice of much, most noteably: time to do anything besides parenting. I couldn't ask for a more hands-on and devoted partner, but being in this together, isn't always the same as being together. When I reflected on it, I realize we spend much of our time either dividing and conquering (or at least avoiding being entirely conquered), or moving in parallel. There is understandably a ton of time that we spend apart, either working, tackling chores, or wrangling the kids. But what I started to see more and more of is time that we're technically together, but are heads down, moving through a to-do list. This shoulder to shoulder work is good, and I'm overwhelmingly thankful to have him by my side, but I'm also craving more face-to-face time. 

As I said, we're still very much in love, but with the chaos of work and little ones, it's easy to plow through a day and not truly see each other until the evening. Even then, routine can take over, with chores and sheer exhaustion squeezing out spontaneous romance. I'm not saying we never make time to be together (I mean, all those kids didn't come from no where. Oh, gross...come on, my dad is reading...) but we could still do a better job of weaving some affection into the pattern of our everyday.

So my goal is simple. Kiss my husband, every day. And if I can get really lofty here...let's say on the lips, even! I want to avoid making it an air-kiss as we speed out the door in the morning, or a quick peck before we crash for the night. What I really want, at least once every day, is to take a pause, look into my husband's eyes, and kiss him like I mean it. Because I do. 

As it turns out, this is not a hard task once I started to be mindful of it. We have a ton of opportunities for little lovey-dovey moments, as long as we're looking for them. And I'm happy to report that we're off to a great- perfect!- start: our lips have locked every single day this year. It's such a simple, but important way for us to invest in each other, and our family. (Piper is unaware of our goal, but is still encouraging, telling us " two are so cute when you kiss!") So as strange or vulnerable as it may feel to share it, I'm so excited about this goal, and will be proudly planting one on my partner for the next 350+ days (and hopefully many, many more to come).

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

O Christmas Tree

There is so so much (SO MUCH) I like about Christmas, but one of my very favorite things is going to get a Christmas tree. As a kid, my family trekked out together every year to a tree farm and cut down the biggest, most glorious tree we could find. We believed that real trees were the only way to go, and furthermore, that real trees come from real farms, not parking lots or hardware stores. So one Saturday each December, we'd all bundle up, and set out on the adventure to find our fir. It was all very Christmas Vacation (little full, lotta sap!) mixed with Berenstain Bears (tra la, tra la, tra la la la la la!). It became a running joke that we would always have eyes bigger than our stomachs (or in this case: our living room) and end up with a massive tree that tested the limits of our bungee cord collection, and caused our van tires to sag. It always ended up being an all day affair, from the winding drive to the location we were sure was going to have the best trees this year, to the hayride + march up to the most scenic of hilltops, to the long walk back made even longer by my sister and my insistence on tying our dog's leash to our tree and pretending he was sled dog.

I remember loving it, but when I think back on it now, I realize what a giant hassle it must have been. Don't get me wrong, we did have fun, and I'm sure my parents enjoyed the tradition, but at the same time, I know it wasn't exactly all smiles all the time. I look back on it fondly, but if I think about it a little harder I can also remember being cold, getting lost, and always having to go to the bathroom at the most inconvenient time. I know that after I weighed in on which monstrous evergreen we should go with, that  I was pretty much the opposite of helpful, likely alternating bored whining with begging for hot chocolate as my dad cut down the tree, dragged it to the parking lot, heaved it on to the car, and attempted to tie it down without damaging anything (or snapping at us useless spectators). By the time we were on our way home, our Christmas cheer was covered with a layer of dirt, annoyance, and light frostbite. 

But even though I can see it a little more realistically now, the good memories still far (FAR) outweigh the bad. So now that I'm a parent, what do think is top on the list of traditions to recreate with my family? 

That's right. Tree chopping time!
Bring on the cold, and the mess, and the frustration...and the priceless holiday memories!! Tra la, tra la, tra la la la la la.

Before we could embark on our pine scented journey though, I had to convince Dustin the worthiness of this plan. (it turns out not everyone sees the value in an epic trek to find a commodity that is sold on every corner in town. weird). I could have maybe sold him on it by painting an elaborate mental picture of the joy and magic of it all...but I decided to go with the truth- which was a little something like this: 

I know it's going to be a giant, terrible hassle, but let's do it anyway. We'll pack some snacks, I'll take a million pictures, we'll walk around until it's not fun anymore, and if things go terribly wrong we'll bail on the whole thing and just buy a poinsettia at the grocery store and call it a day. Mmmkay?

And with that, the Bowden's excursion begrudgingly began.

We managed to bundle the kids and exit the house in just under an hour, which has to be a record. (Wrestling toddlers into cold weather gear is like herding cats. In mittens.) We had snacks upon snacks upon drinks upon snacks, plus a hack saw and a couple of old towels (not even sure why...just felt right at that point), so we were pretty much as ready as we could be. 

The kids were clearly thrilled, with 2/3 falling asleep before we were even halfway to the farm:

And after only making a few wrong turns and questionable merges (following my dad, after all) we made it! Zip your coats, and wipe your snot, kiddos. It's time to make memories for a lifetime!
After a fun (and bumpy) hayride to the "forest" (?) we arrived at row upon row of trees. The girls had a blast dragging each other around in the sled, while Dustin and I tried to find the perfect tree. And what I actually mean by that, is that we tried to find something close, not huge, and without major deformity that wouldn't be a total pain to cut down. 

We settled on something quickly, in order to respect the primary reality of dealing with little ones: "It's fun until it isn't fun anymore." We don't have a ton of hard and fast parenting strategies, but one of them is absolutely- if you need to get something done, and they're all (miraculously) happy, don't dawdle, because things can go south in an instant. Finding the nearly perfect tree before anyone has a meltdown is easily 10,000 times better than finding the absolutely perfect tree with toddlers crying in the periphery. ("She'll see it later, honey. Her eyes are frozen.")

Since I had dragged everyone on this activity, I decided I should be the one to officially cut down the tree. (plus Dustin was wearing a baby, which isn't exactly conducive to handling a saw and laying on the ground). But true to my history, I pretty much just managed to do a ceremonial cut before deeming the whole thing too hard and asking to swap. 

Dustin stepped in to get the job done, I got to snuggle my little bear, and we were back on the hayride before anyone had a chance to gripe about not being able to feel their fingers.

Somehow, we managed to protect a ratio of maximum fun to minimal meltdowns, which is basically saying we encountered a Christmas miracle. Well, for a minute the time we reached our car alllll the kids were throwing overtired tantrums, Miller had pooped through his outfit and was screaming to be fed, and we still had to coordinate a lunch outing for eleven people. But we had kept reasonable expectations of the whole thing, so we weren't terribly surprised, or even frustrated. This was pretty much all part of the plan. Remember my parenting adage? It's fun 'til it's not fun. 

But one of my other parenting mottos in this phase is: 

Worth it. 

As a parent, I now realize all the logistics that go into making magical childhood events happen, and furthermore, I realize that those logistics add up with each additional kid, and are then multiplied by a degree of toddler difficulty (with a baby exponential thrown in on top). So we give ourselves freedom to bail on endeavors that seem a bit too ambitious (which sometimes is anything that requires leaving the house). But at the same time, I try to push myself at least a little when it comes to tradition. They likely won't remember how hard it was to get their socks/boots/mittens/hats on. They probably won't remember how long it all took, how much it cost, or how tired we all were. They hopefully won't remember me yelling at them to just get in the car already!! But I know they will remember the experience in total. They'll see the hassle through a much difference lens, and hopefully just remember that it was special. 

And so are they.

{I'm thrilled to be partnering with Lily Jade, makers of beautiful bags that help provide at least a little bit of order to a wild (and wonderful) season of life. Madeline diaper bag care of Lily Jade. All thoughts are my own}
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Monday, December 28, 2015

Little Pip-speaks: Volume 22

Pip-speak #1:
Piper: My slippers smell like real dogs! 
Daddy: Is that good?
Piper: No. They smell like dogs

Pip-speak #2:
Piper: I have lots of energy in my body. I think it's too much. 

Pip-speak #3:
Daddy {listening to Frosty the Snowman}: Do you know this song? Do you know motions? 
Piper: No. I was just pretending to rock baby Jesus.

Pip-speak #4:
Piper {to G'mi, waiting for us to pick them up after our company party}: It's very late. I think Mommy and Daddy were having so much fun at their party they forgot they had children.

Pip-speak #5:
Piper {coming out of our room after bedtime}: Mama, is it ok if I tell daddy something?
Mama: What do you need to tell him?
Piper: Nothing. Nothing you need to know. {yells down the stairs...} Daddy? My pants are on backwards.

Pip-speak #6:
Mama: Pips, you look tired. 
Piper: I'm not. Sometimes I just don't have my smile on. 

Pip-speak #7:
Piper {sitting next to a crying Miller in the van}: Fin, do you wake to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with me? 
Fin: Yes! {starts singing}
Piper: Can you sing it prettier so he stops crying? 

Pip-speak #8:
Piper:  How was your wedding? Did daddy look handsome? 
Mama: Yes, Daddy wore a suit. 
Piper: I know what kind. Like, a gentleman's suit.

Pip-speak #9:
Piper {listening to Miller babble}: He just made his first animal noise! He said "hoo"! Like an owl. He learned his first word!
And a couple of bonus quips from Fin:

Finnish #1:
Fin {seeing Pig Pen from Peanuts}: He has crazy hair just like me!

Finnish #2:
Fin {seeing Christmas lights she liked}: Oh my sakes!

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