Thursday, November 8, 2018

Haunted House of Bowden

I said to a friend recently, "If Christmas wasn't already my Christmas, Halloween would be my Christmas!" Costumes, candy, crafts, decorations, treats, books, movies, songs...and the PUMPKIN THINGS!!! There's just so much to love about this season! (and yes- Halloween is a season, not just a day!) I mean sure, there are parts of Halloween I don't like (scary or gory stuff) but for the most's all fun!

We of course did the big stuff hitting up as many fall festivals as we could, and dressing up no less than three times (unless you count spooky jammies or jack-o-lantern tee's as dressing up...because in that case some of us dressed up just about every day in October) and doing a few trick or treat outings. (That stuff could be several blog posts all on their own...but my blog backlog is deeeeeeeep...maybe someday...)

But this time around we did the little stuff up big too, trying to pack in as much festive fun as we could in one month. The kids were marvelously into it all, excited for all things spooky (just not too spooky) which made it pretty much irresistible for me (as if I wasn't all in already). They're in such a fun stage where they're young enough to still find magic in the simplest things (a family walk around the neighborhood where we counted all the pumpkins we saw was a big hit...and don't get them started on the joy of lawn inflatables!) but also old enough to be able to actually participate in things (I lost track of the festive treats we baked, and crafts we made...they couldn't get enough!)

With such an enthusiastic group of enablers, I felt the freedom to get a bit more into decorating for the season than I have in the past. I don't go crazy with the themed decor (honestly I think I deserve some sort of medal based on the number of adorable pumpkin tchotchkes I didn't buy on my most recent trip to Homegoods) but I pulled out some things we've had for parties in previous years, and added a few pieces to our collection (including: some colored lights, a DIY mouse-filled pumpkin, a "Mumkin" I managed to kill almost immediately, and a Frankenstein pillowcase Miller was too scared to sleep with).

I'll admit it maybe got a little out of hand once the "Spooky Tree" came out of storage...but I won't say I regret it. I'm a loyalist to the Kon Mari school of holiday celebrations: Does it spark joy? Then do it. (I may be taking some liberties with the way her principles are intended to be applied...but this tree sure does make me happy!)

I can sometimes be guilty of trying to pack our lives full of too many good things, so I have to be careful not to tip the balance from festive fun to frantic mess (it's a fine line...) But other than maaaaaaaybe buying about 7 too many Halloween books (to go with the probably 17 too many we already owned) I'd say I landed on the right side of the scales. No one suffered an acute sugar-overdose, and we got all the pumpkins out of the house before they rotted. WIN.

It was a month full of silly, spooky, over-the-top, cluttered-up, pumpkin-scented fun...and while it may not be my Christmas, Halloween did bring me a spirit of Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful(ly weird) life.

p.s. more decor peeks (#houseofbowden), and Halloween haunts (#costumeweekspooktacular) on the 'gram. (aka: where I do 98% of my "blogging" these days). 
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Monday, October 22, 2018

Baby Steps

Hi, my name is Courtney and I'm the mom of three children.

Not babies. Not toddlers. Children.

How did this happen? (I must have blinked)

Logically I know this has been unfolding slowly over time, but in my heart it feels like it was just sprung on me. We potty trained Miller and took down the gate at the bottom of the steps, and POOF, here we are...a house full of kids.

In thousand different ways, I totally love it: I get to sleep in (I mean...relatively speaking),while they put on their own Netflix, I only have to wipe a bum like, four times a day instead of 400, sometimes they tell actual jokes that are actually funny... But in other ways I'm struggling with the transition to this new big-kid life.

For almost seven years I've had a baby in my house; a little diaper-clad tyke (or two) toddling around. We had "two under two", and then three under four (and then five under six for a hot minute that I barely remember). For years we've been buried in baby gear, baby toys, baby books, baby clothes, baby...everything. And sure I realize that in many ways my youngest hasn't really been a baby for some time now, but there is something about having kids "3 and up" that just feels different. It's been a little hard for my brain to adjust to the fact that the little people that inhabit our home aren't actually quite so little anymore.
I pack up out-gown clothes, and wonder if anyone will wear them again... 
I browse library shelves, and realize my stack of "keepers" is too heavy on the board books, and too light on the early readers... 
I go upstairs at the end of the night and my muscle memory walks me around the baby gate that is no longer there... 
I put toddler clothes back on Target racks because I can no longer rationalize that I'll get years and years of use out of them....
This stage is new, and unfamiliar, and keeps taking me by surprise.


Parents often talk about whether or not they're "done" having kids. Some moms (or dads) just know. They have a sense of contentment and confidence that their family is complete. OH, how I envy that. What would it feel like to just know? Just be? Just live?

But I'm much more unsettled. In this, and really, in all things, always...

In so so so many ways, I am DONE (no thank you pregnancy, or nursing, or the "4th trimester" that for me seems to last a year/the entire rest of my life). And in others, I can't even fathom the idea that the baby days may be behind us (Animal hooded towels! Those alone are reason enough to have 17 more babies!) Every time I pack up another bin of tiny clothes or primary colored gear, I run through alllll the feels:
Sadness that these precious things aren't a part of our daily life anymore.
Guilt over the hoards of things I have in storage, for.... what? when? who?
Shame for my "silliness", and inability to just move on, and let things go...
I don't want my kids to stay babies forever. But I'm also not sure I'm ready to be done with babies forever. Our path is unfolding forward and as much as I adore the glimpses of where we're headed (I do! I really do!) it also hurts to leave the world I know and love.

It's all very "yes and...", in the most heart-wrenching, complicated way.


And so...what do I do? OH WHO KNOWS? I hem and haw, and pine and wonder...
But through it all, I try to notice and adore. To soak up these last bits of babyhood whenever I encounter them, just in case they really are the last bits of babyhood.
I wrap her up in the flamingo towel she loves, because I know it will be an instant before she's showering on her own and doesn't need me to dry her sweet strawberry scented head. 
I negotiate arguments over lap space, trying to adore the underlying idea behind the bickering: they still want to be close to me. 
I record the silly, quirky things they say, preparing for the day they'll suddenly know how to pronounce "aminals" correctly.
I take pictures- mental and physical- of him in his crib...the last true relic of the baby days that remains...for now...
I know no matter how old they get, they'll always be my babies. And I know no matter how old I get, I'll always be a baby about certain things. (And I for sure know why moms cry at baby showers every time someone opens a copy of "Love You Forever"). For now (/always), I'll just be over here rocking my babies back and forth, back and forth as we move into new stages together...

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Friday, October 5, 2018

The kind of mom who...

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite: makers of stationary, announcements, and flat-out adorable kids birthday invitations

 Me, pre-kids: 

"Someday, I'm going to be the kind of mom who..."

...sews matching taffeta Christmas gowns for my daughters."
...makes wholesome, adorable lunches full of healthy options and those cute little heart-shaped toothpicks."
...teaches my kids Spanish, and guitar, and maybe even Spanish guitar."

*cut to: me, six years and three babies later...*

"Someday I'm going to be the kind of mom who...

...wears matching clean socks."
...sets out the right number of forks for each meal. (how many kids do we have again?!)"
...doesn't hide the 'good ice cream' under the frozen broccoli in attempt to avoid having to share."

Funny how things change, huh?

I used to think I was going to be all kinds of a mom...An organized mom, a patient mom, a crafty mom (and not in the devious sense), a mom who found her zen, a mom who doesn't yell things like "I'm not going to say it again, DON'T LICK ALEXA" (the Amazon assistant, not a real human. Though I'm not sure which is worse...)

Yeah, I had all kinds of lofty parenthood predictions for myself. Some were pure crazy (I've seen movies that lasted longer than my foray into cloth-diapering), most were well-intentioned (I did manage to sew matching holiday outfits...but may have cancelled out the adorable-ness when I invoked the fear of God to make the kids actually wear them), and a few of them ended up being not too far off.

On my success list? 
  • I always thought I'd be the type of mother who saved (too many) of my kids special mementos and masterpieces. One glance around my basement will tell you that one came true. (I didn't exactly picture myself downing in the hoards of my own sentimentality, but that is slowly becoming a very likely possibility. But what a way to go!) 

  • I dreamed I would be the kind of mother who adored reading books, and doing crafts, and playing board games with my kids. Yep, yep, yep, those are some of my favorite activities. (I mean, if we're being totally honest, those things rank below eating nachos and watching reality TV, but we're talking about parenting activities here...)

  • And I knew I'd be the kind of mother who just loses all reason when it comes to my children's birthday celebrations. Uhhh...Accurate. (Exhibit A: #bowdenbdays)
It's- DUH- impossible to truly know what type of parent (or spouse, or boss...or anything) you're going to be until you ARE it, but that doesn't seem to stop us from imagining anyway, does it? Thankfully, I didn't make too many grandiose/embarrassingly naive statements in my younger days that I'm regretting now. I didn't have much of a clue on life as a mom, but I think I was at least wise enough to know that making a bunch of "I'll never..." proclamations was a bad idea. (it's not that I didn't think them...I just-mercifully-didn't always say them). 

But while I'm thankful I don't have an endless laundry list of expectations for myself to point back to (and lament on), I don't think having some lofty dreams of who we want to be is a bad thing. It's helpful to orient around a goal, and keep focused on living with intention. It doesn't all have to be huge stuff, or perfect stuff, it just has to be the stuff that matters to me.


I still want to be the kind of mom who diligently documents all my kids milestones. So even though things may have gotten a little hazy around month #2 of kid #2, I'm slogging through old medical forms and consulting the growth curve details to fill in the gaps. My cutesy wooden growth chart is going to have to be carved retroactively, but it turns out I'm the kind of mom who truly believes in (/embodies) the spirit of "better late than never".

And I'm an awesome texer, emailer, DM'er, and Voxer, but really struggle with sending mail of the old-fashioned variety. I manage to send family postcards most Christmases, but thank you notes are a rarity (what's the word for a never-ity?) and party invites tend to be sent between GIF jokes on a group-thread. Classy. But I do love the formality of a real, printed missive and really want to be the kind of person who makes it a priority to connect with loved ones in non-virtual ways from time to time.
Enter: Basic Invite.
If "being the kind of person who sends more snail-mail" is on your list too, then you need to know about Basic Invite. They have it all: photo holiday cards, baby announcements, cute birthday invitations and about a zillion other offerings in between.

A little bit about what makes Basic Invite, basically awesome:

Nearly unlimited colors: For each element on your card, there are over 180 color options to select from fensuring you get everything exactly how you want it. And as the kind of person who stood in the ribbon aisle for nearly an hour debating the merits of “lemongrass” vs. “lime” for our wedding invitations, I can tell you this is PRETTY important).

Custom samples: You can order a printed sample of the invitation before placing your final order, so you can check the print and paper quality before you commit. Will I ever be the kind of person who has my act together in advance enough to take advantage of this route? Of course not...but that doesn't stop me from wanting to have the option anyway.

Address Capturing and Printing: Get this...they will address cards for you. Praise hands! Because we are all the kind of people who love getting mail, but hate the effort of actually sending it. No excuses when someone else does the hard part for you!

Pretty much, Basic Invite makes it easy to be the kind of party-throwing, thank you-sending, hob-knobbing, Holiday-rocking, person you always dreamed you would be.

And because we all want to be the kind of person who shops smart….here’s the deal hook up:
Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51. So head on over there, browse their selection of party invitations online and start making good on some of those "someday" promises. 

So if you need me, I'll be staying up too late:
...writing punny, sticker-laden lunchbox notes  
...buying alllllll the Halloween themed art supplies for surprise "crafternoons"
...printing some honest-to-goodness cards and actually sending them (!) to people I love

Because I'll apparently never be the kind of mom who manages to go to bed at a reasonable hour but I am the kind of mom who believes in making ordinary things as special as possible.

What about you? What kind of mom did you think you would be? What are the someday wishes you're still holding out hope you'll become?
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 31

My kids are honestly some of the funniest kids I know. And as they get older, sometimes they're even making me laugh on purpose. I've got four months of quips in the queue here, so brace yourselves for the onslaught of one-liners.

Pip-speak #1:
Mama: Your teacher seems like just the nicest.
Piper: Yeah. Except for when our friends pee on the toilet seat. That happened two times today and she is not ok with it at all. 

Pip-speak #2:
Mama: We’re going to a new Chick-Fil-A.
Piper: It’s right by a Walmart? Please tell me we don't have to go in there. That’s the smells weird store.
 Pip-speak #3:
{Hearing a loud bang in the parking lot}
Piper: What was that noise?
Mama: I don’t know!
Piper: Well, it sounds like something I don’t want to get killed by.  

Pip-speak #4:
Mama: How was your day?
Piper: Guess what we learned? Guinster {the guinea pig we were pet-sitting} can fit under the TV cabinet! But we got him. And I cleaned up the poop. And don’t worry. We already washed all his hair out of your mixing bowl. 
Pip-speak #5:
Mama: I couldn't remember all the kids' names in your class if you gave me a thousand dollars.
Piper: I'll tell you all my best friends and you can see if you can remember. {lists a bunch of friends, putting up a finger to count each one...names one kid specifically that I didn't think was her favorite...}
Mama: I thought you didn’t like him because he doesn’t help in gym?Piper: Well, he did sit next to me at lunch so he gets a half finger.

Pip-speak #6:
Piper: Ikea's food is so good. Because they serve their food warm and never hot.

Pip-speak #7:
Chelsea {their friend}: Boys are badder than girls.
Fin: Yeah. Girls are gooder.
Piper: But miller is awesome at being cute.

Pip-speak #8:
G’mi {getting super frustrated}: GET. YOUR. SHOES. ON.
Piper: Did you even know you had that voice?

Pip-speak #9:
Piper: Why do you have to go to training?
Mama: To learn how to be good parents. to you guys and to foster kids.
Piper: Well, I don’t think being a good parent means leaving us!!

Pip-speak #10:
Piper {not wanting to share bathroom space with Miller}: Miller...Your your diaper. 

Pip-speak #11:
Piper: Is there such a thing as a laugh brain?
Mama: A what?
Piper: When you laugh so hard that your brain hurts? Because that’s what I have.

Pip-speak #12:
Piper: I hope there’s Florida in heaven. Because then I can go to the beach with God.   

Pip-speak #13:
Piper: Were you ever in a wedding?
Daddy: Yep.
Piper: What were you? A mini bridesboy?

Pip-speak #14:
Piper: Fin let’s make a deal, you give me the flamingo raft or I’ll throw all of these toys in the pool and you’ll have to get them.
Mama: I don’t think that’s a deal. That’s more of a threat.
Piper: Well, I call it a deal-threat. 

Pip-speak #15:
Piper: Miller, you can be a mer-man and I’ll be a mer-girl!
Pip-speak #16:
Mama: You remember so many things. Your brain must be full.
Piper: Actually, it has 100 more space in it.  
Pip-speak #17:
Mama: Do you think your friends would like to play on your swingset?
Piper: Yeah! It has two swings! Everything you could ever want!

Pip-speak #18:
Mama: Guys, today is Friday! It’s the weekend!
Piper: Friday isn’t the weekend. But it is the weekend eve!

Pip-speak #19:
Mama: At the airport they were giving people a lot of money if they wanted to give up their plane ticket.
Piper: So what did you do?
Mama: I came home.
Piper: Because having a lot of money is nice but being with us is even better.

Pip-speak #20:
Fin {regarding frozen yogurt}: It just tastes better when I mix them.
Mama: You do you, lady
Piper: And she...will do she.
Finnish #1:
Fin {while coloring}: Can you draw something beautiful while I cut these out? Just draw something that inspires you. Do you know what “inspire” means? It means beautiful, just don’t draw a princess.

Finnish #2:
Fin {eating ice cream}: Mama, I like yours, but not as best as mine.

Finnish #3:
Fin: I wish I was a boy.
Ms. Heather: How come? 
Fin: Because they don't have to wipe when they pee.

Finnish #4:
Fin {describing her first day of school}: We didn’t read any books but I did learn to read. But not that good. 
Finnish #5:
Fin: Mom, how many fostercares can we take? Two? Three?
Mama: You mean how many kids can stay with us? Two.
Fin: Aw. I wanted it to be three. If I were a mom I want 3. One who’s 4, one who's 3 and a tiny newborn baby. 

Finnish #6:
Fin {after G'mi told her that her cousin was coming over to play}: Well you better up your game, lady, and push me in the swing before he gets here. 
Finnish #7:
Mama: For your wedding you can wear whatever you want.
Fin: For my wedding I’m going to be naked.
Mama: What’s you’re husband going to wear?
Fin: Just underwear and a bow tie.  Fin: I was dying for thirst.  
Finnish #8:
Miller {putting on his "cool dude" sunglasses, and seeing Fin is putting on hers too}: I don’t want you to be a cool dude.
Fin: Sorry. Already am. 
Finnish #9:
Fin: I want an Icee from there. And if they don’t have that, I’ll have a slushie. 
Finnish #10:
Mama {on the last day of school}: Fin, how was your last day?
Fin: Too good to share.
Miller Musings #1:
{During a backyard game of football, Fin and her friend Kaitlin huddle up to "talk strategy". Piper tries with her teammate...}
Piper: Miller, what’s our game plan?
Miller: To play football!

Miller Musings #2: 
Mama: Let's go, kids. We’re gonna run a button loop.
Miller: What’s a buttloop?
Miller Musings #3:
{On the way home from the fair, Miller hands me his Kona ice...}
Miller: That’s enough sugar. Don’t want my belly to get sick!
Mama: That's really smart to listen to your body when you've had enough.
Miller: Yeah. 'Cuz last time you said- ‘that’s enough cotton candy!’
 Miller Musings #4:
{discussing fires, after seeing a fire engine}
Miller: Mama, if you were a fire girl you could rescue us.
Miller Musings #5: 
Miller: Wanna do a little pot?
Daddy: What?!
Miller: Wanna do a little pot?
Daddy: .....Um, do you mean do I want to sing little teapot?
Miller: Yeah. 
Miller Musings #6: Piper {talking about a friend who was coming to visit}: I wonder how Elliott got red hair. Because his mom doesn’t have that and his dad doesn’t have that.
Miller: Maybe we put watermelon on his head and he got red watermelon hair!

Miller Musings #7:
Miller {Seeing the flamingo raft is running out of air}: The flamingo’s dying!! 
Miller Musings #8:
Jacob {the kids' cousin, regarding Miller}: I think he’s going to be a tomgirl.

Dynamic Duo #1:
Fin: I know what you’re putting on. It’s mascara. But it doesn’t actually make people scared. Piper: But it is kind of a mask. Fin: Yeah, but it doesn’t make people scared. Piper: Yeah. It makes people like you.  

Dynamic Duo #2:
{swimming in the lake together...}
Piper: I’m getting nervous. And when I get nervous, I get hungry. Fin: When I get nervous, I pee!  

Dynamic Duo #3: 
Fin: I will tell you what I’m going to write on my card for Miller. "I love you, Miller. You are so cute and so adorable." 
Piper: I think... you have never ever said something that nice about somebody before.  

P.s. If you have all the heart eyes for their crazy mouths, check out the last round...or allllll of 'em.
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Friday, September 7, 2018

Life Lately: Summatime Bowdens

I'm trying to make good on my promise (to myself) to prioritize more regular editions of Life Lately... Mostly because I love looking back on them, but also so that things don't pile up and turn into: Life Over the Last Decade or So. The last round was in January, so I'm not doing quite as well as I may have hoped, but hey...I'm here now, so let's do this. 

We're rounding the corner into Fall, so it feels right to take a look back at the Summer, and all the 'ings we 'ing-ed during what has become my very fav season of all..

Making: constant messes all over the house. In a lot of ways, I love having a playroom on the main floor; it means we spend a lot of time together, and I don't have to worry about the kids being unsupervised while we make dinner etc. But sometimes I do grow weary of the toys spewed all over our living areas. As the kids have gotten older, their toys have gotten tinier, so there are miniature shoes, dogs, and teasets underfoot at all time. We try to purge things often, but no matter what, we still seem to have too much. I'd love to get more minimalistic, but I'm just not sure how to get there with kids things. We are making progress in other areas though, ruthlessly cleaning out spots like the linen closet, laundry room, kitchen drawers and the stashes of gifts/crafts/party supplies in the basement. It seems to get a little easier to let go of things each time, so we'll just keep chipping away...

popsicles. Ok, cooking is obviously a stretch, but we found these molds that look like ringpops and we're obsessed. We fill them with V8 splash juice. They're the perfect size to actually eat before they melt all over the place, and the "sticks" work great as pretend binkies for dolls. (because you know, we need more tiny doll nonsense around our house). 

Drinking: allllll the sparkling water. Obvs we still love LaCroix, but have you tried Bubly? It's legit. (Mango and grapefruit are especially good.)

well, it's not happening much these days, but I do get on a kick here and there...(strangely it seems to coincide with dry-spells of compelling Netflix programming. Imagine that.)
We took a trip back in April, and I managed to read a couple non-fiction, Christian-lady type books: Girl, Wash Your Face  (I know the entire internet is obsessed with this book, but I just didn't love it. It felt a little cliche and like she was maybe trying too hard to be inspirational AND so down to earth...I'm pretty much on an island with that opinion though.) If You Only Knew (loved this one. Jamie is so inspiring and real). I'm a sucker for some Emily Giffen; her latest, All We Ever Wanted, was a quick and satisfying read. And am I the only one who has ever read a Young Adult fiction by accident? I picked up We Were Liars from a nearby little free library, not knowing anything about it. I was halfway through (and super engrossed in the story) before I looked up some background details online. But no shame in my YA game, a great story is a great story! I've had Tell The Wolves I'm Home on my to-read list forever, Little Fires Everywhere has been sitting on my nightstand for months (I'm a couple chapters in but can't quite get momentum with it for some reason), and I've heard nothing but good things about The Light We Lost.

to make the most of our pool membership. We have the BEST local pool, but it's not cheap, so we try to squeeze all the value out of it by going as often as we can. We've hit it up most weekends, and even try to get some evening swims in here and there when we can. And the kids love "preschool swim"- a special weekday morning session for the 6-and-under crowd. They've gotten so comfortable in the water this year- they all still wear "floaties" but they swim around on their own, and are even starting to jump off the side of the pool, and sometimes even get their faces wet. They took a couple of swim lessons from a friend/babysitter of ours but we didn't do anything super intense or consistent. I think we'll need to get a bit more serious about it next year, but for now they're loving the water, and we're having a blast living it up in the lazy river.

Playing: bass. Not well, and not a lot. But I'm trying! Dustin has been playing bass for years at church, and on a whim I thought it would be fun to learn too. It turns out it's super easy to learn (if you already know a little bit about guitar/music theory), so technically I can play. But it will be a long time before I'm anything more than marginally proficient. But it's fun to pick up another skill, and I like being able to jam with Dustin from time to time.
Wasting: too much time playing HQ trivia. Or maybe more accurately, wasting too much time LOSING HQ Trivia. The whole phenomenon is not quite at the fever pitch it was a few months ago (when practically my entire office would shut down every day at 3pm to participate) but we still log on most nights to give it a shot. I feel like they've mastered the exact right level of difficulty- easy enough to make you feel like this is going to be the night! every time, and hard enough to get you addicted to the idea of beating it. After what feels like a lifetime, we finally prevailed last week. We're now $2.55 richer, and a whole lot smug-er.

we could go on a gigantic family vacation every year. We've had two years in a row going to Seaside, Florida with a big group. Last year we had our Stegmayer reunion (my dad's fam), this year we had our Simpson family trip (my mom's side), and both trips were absolute perfection. We'd love to go back next year. Anyone want to come along...and foot the bill

Enjoying: some big time milestones and events. In June alone, we had my niece's high school graduation, our family vacation, Dustin's birthday, Fin's birthday, and my sister's wedding (those last two were on the same day!). It was a manic season, but I'll never complain about having so many things to celebrate! It made for a little bit of a strange Summer because it was so frontloaded with action, with nothing big happening in July and August. I kind of liked that though because it gave us a chance to settle in to some routines for the season, and find our fun in smaller ways every day. Somehow (always) we still managed to pack our calendar full of things, so we weren't hurting for things to do, even once things "slowed down". 

to potty train Miller. And transition him to a big boy bed. And basically all-around let him grow up. I keep thinking we're going to try to potty train him...but he doesn't care much, and I can't find my motivation. I'm not actually avoiding it in an effort to keep him a baby (believe me, I don't like changing diapers enough to do that) but it is strange to feel our house shifting into a "big kid zone". We've had babies/toddlers around for so many years that it takes me by surprise sometimes when I see how mature my kids are getting. Each time we go somewhere without a stroller, or stay out without worrying about a naptime, I get a glimpse at where we're headed, and what we're leaving behind. We haven't made any hard and fast decisions about foster care, so it's possible that there are more babies in our future, but for now I'm realizing in a hundred different ways that our littlest one isn't super little anymore...

my monthly supper club tradition. Each month, a few of us ladies gather at a different local restaurant to try out the food and catch up with one another. I've been attending since we moved to Columbus (I actually came to one on a whim when I was
in town a few years ago, and one of the members ended up getting me the job that prompted our move to Columbus!) and have grown to love these nights out. It's an eclectic crew, which makes for fun conversation each time (plus I can usually convince them to get dessert afterwards...

Wondering: if we should add a patio to our backyard. Our deck needs a bit of work anyway, so we’ve been kicking around the idea of expanding it to have a patio. I rescued some chairs from untimely demise (aka: took them out of the neighbor’s trash) that would be perfect around a fire pit. I love the idea of expanding our living space, and taking advantage of more time in our awesome backyard. I don’t love the idea of spending so much money to make it happen. But maybe I’ll feel differently when I’m relaxing under some string lights, cooking up some s’mores.

having old friends come to visit..and even better: moving here! Our old neighbors came back for a weekend, and it was like they never left. I desperately miss them, but am so thankful that we remain friends even when we don't still share a fence. And for some extra, long-term goodness, some of our very best friends from Pittsburgh finally made the move to Columbus
! Yes!! So excited to have them nearby (and trying to resist the urge to force all of our friends/activities upon them...though I did- unsuccessfully- try to get them to move to our neighborhood.)

Hoping: that biotin is the answer to my sad sad hair situation. I've been trying to grow it out, but it's sloooow going. It's super thin (always has been, but "middle age" plus a few babies isn't helping) and it's in this awkward stage where it hits my shoulders and flips out all wonky. Every day I'm tempted to just chop it to my chin and be done with it, but as a last ditch effort I'm trying some vitamins that are supposed to promote hair (and nail) growth. We'll seeeee....

Smelling: this heavenly citrus + coconut body wash I got from my sister-in-law. And by "got" I mean she had a giant bottle in her guest bathroom last time we visited and I loved it so much I took it. (Don't worry...I asked her first). I've since searched for it online, but it appears to be discontinued (the Everyone Soap in Lemon + Coconut might be similar?). I'm not quite crazy enough to stock up via strange eBay and Amazon sellers...but I'm close. It's that good.
Wearing: the same three Old Navy tank tops (which are really the same one tank top, just in different colors) on repeat. That, and my jean shorts + rainbow sandals are my Summer uniform, two years running
Following: about a billion podcasts. It took me a long time to get into them, but now I’m full-on obsessed. I’m hesitant to share my recommendations, because I pretty much just listen to reality show recaps and shows about foster parenting. But there are a couple in there that are worth checking out: Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness (he's one of the guys from the Queer Eye reboot, and he’s nearly unbearably over the top, and addictingly funny at the same time.) Young House Love Has a Podcast (maybe weird to follow a design blog in an audio format...but somehow it works). I also like: Jamie Ivey, Jen Hatmaker, and Annie F. Downs. Plus Parent Cue Live always has interesting, practical advice.
Noticing: How much easier our routines are now that we have a nanny. We went from packing up, loading up and dropping off at two different schools, to walking out breezily, waving “bye and good luck” to a bunch of jammie clad kids. And at the end of the day...we just come home! It’s the best! There’s a bit of a learning curve because we’ve never had someone care for the kids in our home full time (except my mom...who is more adept with my kids than I am) but we had an awesome nanny with us this Summer who jumped in without an issue. (and then another awesome nanny who jumped in when the first one had to leave...) The kids had the best time going on adventures with them (and taking advantage of all the rules they didn't know yet!) But as convenient as it was for us, I really loved what it gave the kids- the chance to be home for an old-fashioned laid back Summer. I know they're still so little, so it's not as if the rest of the year is full of over the top stressors for them, but it's still nice to slow our pace down a bit and give them the freedom to just play and relax.

Knowing: that buying a new backyard playset was the best money we've ever spent. Our old (free!) plastic set treated us well for a few years, but it was time for an upgrade...and we went big with a 3 slide, 3 swing version from Costco. It took 79 straight hours to assemble (give or take) but the kids have pretty much been playing on it for 7,900 straight hours since then, so it's a TOTAL win. When we first toured this house, I stood in the kitchen, looked out the window to the backyard and pictured my kids playing. It's what sold me on this house, and turning that dream vision into a reality is surreal and wonderful.

about making another quilt. I've got piles of fabric stashed away, and even some patterns I purchased/downloaded for "someday", I just haven't really made the time for it.
I'd love to make a big piece for our bed, but I'm (more than) a little intimidated by the size of that project. Summer tends to not be my best quilting season, so I'm curious if I'll get bitten by the bug again once it's a little cooler, and I have more cozy time inside to experiment and craft.
I mixed things up this time around, dropping a few 'ings, and swapping in some new ones...

Trying: some new discipline ideas. As much as I love the unstructured fun of Summer, I don't love whiney, disrespectful kids. So we're trying out a reward system...the kids can earn "tickets" for good behavior, and trade them in for rewards. We're not quite as consistent as I'd like to be with it (I forget to reward them a lot!) but it still seems to be helping to provide them with extra incentive to keep their behavior and attitudes in check.

Listening: to Taylor Swift, all day every day. (ok...maybe with a little bit of Kids Bop mixed in, you know, for variety). We got free tickets to her concert through our foster care agency and we debated if the girls were old enough to handle it...but we figured we'd never get another chance like this, so we gave it a try. For weeks leading up to it, we listened to Taylor's spotify playlist (thanks Alexa) pretty much nonstop, to get the girls familiar with songs besides Shake It Off. It worked (probably too well), and come concert night, they were READY FOR IT (Taylor lyric pun!) It was such a blast to witness their first concert experience...they were in awe of all of it (mostly the light up bracelets...can't blame them there). Far too soon they'll be hopping in the car on their own to jam to goodness knows what, so I'm living for these times when they still think it's cool to sit dance and sing with us by their sides.

Watching: mostly Netflix and Hulu series. The Summer programming on regular TV is a little light, so we're binging series instead. Some favs: Handmaid's Tale (so dark. so good), Orange is the New Black (not my favorite season...but still manages to be goofy and poignant at once), The Office (we're working through the full series, and are somewhere in season 6).

Obsessing: over the Enneagram. I had been hearing little bits and pieces about it for a while, but once I finally took a test, it just clicked in my brain, and now it's all I can think about. ( life is now basically nonstop enneagram podcasts, Instagram memes and texts between my group of equally obsessed friends). At this point Dustin is just barely managing to contain his eyerolls (he thinks it's interesting, but isn't nearly as geeked about it as I am), as I somehow manage to bring every conversation back to "a type". If you're wondering- I'm a 3 (The Achiever) but I have a big dose of 7 and 8 too (The Enthusiast and Challenger). Maybe someday I'll process things enough to detail more of my thoughts and insights in writing, but for now I'm just diving straight into the rabbit hole and not even trying to find my way out.
Missing: my carpool + work buddy. Dustin started a new job in July, and while it's been nothing but good things for him (flexibility, new challenges, great team, interesting work), it means I no longer have a chauffeur, or a regular lunch date. The upside: I have full control over the stereo, but I do miss the chats, the dance parties and being able to count at least half of our conversations as billable hours.

Suffering: from an ear infection (after a miserable flight where my ears never popped back to normal). I'm currently on my second round of antibiotics, and have all the sympathy for babies.

Celebrating: for 100 days! It was my second year participating in The 100 Day Project, and it was a (challenging, exhausting) blast. For 100 days in a row, I celebrated (or reflected upon) different "national holidays", in an attempt to have some fun and document some memories. I love how it stretched my imagination, pushed me to try new things, and inspired me to enjoy the silly little things that sometimes go unnoticed.

Pretending: that jammies count as clothes. Or swimsuits count as clothes. Or the pool counts as a bath. But in the Summer that's all true, right? 
Buying: shirts with real collars and a big boy backpack (for Dustin's big boy job), a tiny suitcase (so I don't look so extra on my daytrips to St. Louis) and a slew of new dresses and jumpsuits (because easy breezy).

Visiting: all the fairs and all the festivals. Rides, petting zoos and foods on sticks are becoming part of the DNA of our family, and I couldn't be more happy about it. We're basically carnies (#bowdenfest).

Needing: to finally pony up for a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. I've been rocking a semi-bootleg version of Photoshop (and Illustrator) for years now, but I think they're finally wise to me. We got a new computer a few months ago and I have yet to install any editing program on it, so that means my photos have just sat on my harddrive untouched (not to mention unblogged, and unprinted).  

Struggling: to maintain healthy eating habits...go to bed on time...stay hydrated...get up early in the morning...basically all around make good grown-up choices. Maybe Summer isn't the time for that? Yes, that sounds like an excuse I'd like to use here. Surely it's not just a complete lack of self discipline and common sense. Nah...

Eating: ice cream basically every chance we get. Summer automatically translates to a treat mentality for me, where pretty much every warm evening seems like a good excuse for some icy sweets. It's probably not the best habit to model for the kids, but there will be plenty of time to teach them the value of moderation. For now...we party.

Losing: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend. We seem to get about 179 library books every time we go, so the fact that this is the first book we lost, feels like a low-key win. 

Taking: advantage of having a brother-in-law who works for the Crew...who swears he doesn't mind us hitting him up for free tickets all the time. We've been to a few games this year, and recently took the kids for the first time. They didn't quite grasp the particulars of the game (that might be because I- a soccer ignoramus- was "teaching" them the "rules"...) Miller's favorite part was watching the "stuffed aminals" play (they had a pretend scrimmage between a bunch of mascots) and the girls liked everything except when they were "mean to each other" (how do you explain yellow cards?)

Forgetting: to download all the pictures from the last school year. Each of the girls' teachers set up a private facebook group where they would upload pictures of activities or events throughout the year. I wanted to keep some of them, but figured it would be easier to just save them all at once at the end of the year, so I didn't have to try to keep up with it in real time. And was suddenly August and I realized I hadn't ever gotten to it. #momfail The good news is Fin's class still had their pictures posted...but Piper's page had already been cleaned out to make room for the next class of kids. Fortunately, her teacher saved a few and sent them my way. Crisis averted, and lesson learned. 

Embracing: #jeeplife. Dustin's long lost love has returned...he is once again the proud owner of a wrangler. But you know who's loving it a surprising amount? This girl! I've got my head scarf and my hairbrush stashed in the console, and I'm getting used to having a clutch again. We can't fit all the kids in it (well...not safely anyway) so it's become the go-to for solo rides, little trips with the girls or the occasional date night. It's the least practical family car, and I have no idea what our plan is for it in the colder months, but none of that matters when the sun is on your shoulders, and the sweet sounds of Africa are blasting in your ears.

Feeling: completely and totally overwhelmed, in all the best ways. How did life get so full? And so good?

Check out all of our Life Lately posts, or catch up on our Summer in Squares.

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