Monday, August 15, 2016

Mr. Onederful


My wee little tiny baby boy is one.

I'd be a weepy puddle of mess if I didn't just adore who he is now. But I wisely avoided going through too many of his newborn pictures, because while One Year Old Miller is pretty much one of my favorite people, Brand New Miller was a special kind of magic. I can't flip through the archives long without wanting to somehow start all over and have his teeny tiny little body in my hands again.

But regardless of how much I adored and miss the little Miller of yesteryear, the Miller of today is just so stinkin' great, I hardly want to look back. I mean....Just look at him:

I know. Perfection.
But just for fun, let's go ahead and look back anyway, shall we?

I love every. single. face.

And if that wasn't enough Miller for you (no such thing...) great news: I also subjected him to another monthly photo project:

It's so fun to look back on the transformation of this little meatball into a mini man.

What a year, Miller B. I can't wait to see all the millions of ways you (continue to) woo us, astound us, and make us proud in the next year. You couldn't be more loved. 

Previous months: 12345678910, 11.
(and 1 year old Piper, and Fin). 
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Friday, August 12, 2016

Life Lately: Summer-ing

Time flies when you're having fun...So we must be having a LOT of fun around here. It's been six months since I did an "all the 'ings" update, and when I look back on that entry it feels like a minute and a lifetime ago. So what are we up to these days? Well...glad you asked:

Making: not nearly enough. The other day I realized I don’t have any projects in the works right now, which is pretty unlike me. I almost always have something creative that I’m working on, but for some reason (probably 3 little human reasons, and 1 occupation reason) I don’t have a project right now. I really miss making- whether it’s writing, or photography, or quilting, or decorating…I just feel more fulfilled when I have something creative going on. I took a weaving class a few weeks ago which was a fun thing to try. I don’t know that it’s my new passion, but I loved experimenting with it. I’m thinking once it gets a little cooler (and we’re not soaking up as much sun as we can each evening) I’ll dive back into some of my crafty pursuits.
Cooking: all night, every night. Whole 30 requires planning, so we’ve been trying to prep meals each night after the kids go to bed. Dustin says he loves it- he’s proud that we are actually meal planning (which has always been a struggle), and says it’s like old times working together in the kitchen (Before we had kids we actually cooked a bit more, trying out new recipes and making fun dishes. With little ones around we’ve been aiming for speed, and have to divide and conquer a lot with prep and clean up, so we don’t cook for fun that often.) I do like feeling a little more “adult” with real meals each night, rather than cobbling together a combo of leftovers and frozen foods, but I’m not as thrilled with how long it all takes. The last few weeks I’ve felt like my only hobby was cooking, and it was a daunting task to make sure we were ready for each day. I’m hopeful that when the 30 days are up, we can keep some of our new habits, but also relax the rules a little to make things a bit easier. 

Drinking: pineapple coconut water, and lime La Croix. I really miss soda (Vanilla Coke Zero if we’re going to get specific) so I’ve been trying to have a few “fun” drinks mixed in with all the plain old water we’re drinking these days. (I swear this entire list won’t revolve around Whole 30…even if it is basically the only thing I can think about right now.)
Reading: The Skimm. I signed up about a year ago, and it’s basically the only way I get my news. (and is also basically the only thing I read, besides a whole bunch of work email). 
Wanting: to know how many kids we’re going to have. (whoa. How’s that for a massive statement to jam in the middle of a list like this?) With each of our girls, I knew I wanted another one even before they arrived, but with our third, I haven’t been so sure. People asked a lot when I was pregnant if we were “done”, and it still comes up quite a bit (mostly comments like- “Miller is so adorable, you have to have another!” which I find pretty hard to argue with). I go back and forth constantly on whether I want more (or really if we can handle more), which is maddening to Dustin, but also really hard for me. I’m such a planner, I’d love to just know for sure if this is it for us…but I just don’t. But in the meantime, I’m loving every stage with Miller, so for now that’s enough, 
Looking: forward to going back to Pittsburgh for a wedding. A friend we made 9 years ago (what?!) is getting married, and I couldn’t be more excited for the reunion party weekend it’s going to be. Life has changed so massively over the last decade and the core group of friends we started with in Pittsburgh has been fractured and flung all over the country, caught up in different life stages and different adventures. And I know that we’ll never be back to our “Tuesday night” family, but for a couple days I’m going to relish the chance to squeeze them each tight, dance like crazy, and celebrate the love of one of the best guys we know.

Playing: monster. Ok, actually Dustin is playing monster- a simple game where he chases, and is chased, but the loudest two giggling girls I know. They can’t get enough, and even Miller gets in on the action, tackling Daddy, and enjoying his turn to be tickled too. They ask me to play sometimes too, but I just don’t have the growling and rough-housing stamina that Dustin does, so I usually go a round or two before tapping the professional to take over.
Wasting: entirely too much money on Miller’s birthday party. Well, I should probably say “spending”, not “wasting” because it’s not a waste exactly…but I do admit it’s probably at least a little bit excessive. But you know I love a party, and I sure do love my baby, so it’s pretty understandable that I might go a little over the top with this one.

Wishing: I took more pictures on my real camera. The iphone snaps have been taking over even more than usual lately, and while I love that I’m still managing to capture so many memories, I’m bummed I don’t have more high quality photos in the mix. Summer is a conundrum for me with photography, because it has some of the most photo-worthy sights and activities, but the pace (and heat) isn’t really conducive to lugging around a big camera. I’m holding babies, I’m pushing swings, I’m jumping in the pool, I’m sidewalk-chalking, and bounce-housing. I know there is no danger of my kids’ childhoods being under-documented, but I’d still like to get back in the habit practicing photography a little more often. 

Enjoying: going to the pool. We took the plunge (ugh, so bad. Had to.) and got a membership this year, and we’ve been trying to take advantage of it whenever we can. My mom takes the girls during the week, either to pre-school swim in the morning, or with their cousins in the afternoon, and we try to go as a family once a week if we can. If we have a free Saturday we’ll make a daytime outing, but more often we’ve been heading out after dinner to get an hour or two of fun in before bedtime. The kids only last about that long anyway before they meltdown (though some sponge bob popsicles help boost their moods), and it’s a fun way to feel like we’re making the most of our Summer. We put the girls in swim lessons before we went on vacation, and now they’re practically fish, going down the slide, jumping off the side, and paddling around with their floaties on. Miller was slow to warm up to the water, but again, in Florida he learned to love it, and now is happy to wade around with us. 
Waiting: for fair season. Is that a thing? We just had the Ohio State Fair (loved it so much we went twice!), and in the next month we'll have the Canfield Fair, The Delaware Fair, and St. Michael's Festival. I can't even handle how much fried cheese and big slides are coming my way.
Liking: My letterfolk co. board. It's like a lightbright for grown ups (there's something so soothing and satisfying about searching for the letters, spacing them out, and popping them in). I sure did love lightbright.
Wondering: where social media is going…I don’t blog like I used to. I’m on Facebook just enough to not hate it. I technically still have Twitter. I’m (kinda) trying to understand Snapchat. And I still love Instagram but don’t yet know how I feel about Instagram stories ('s basically Snapchat). I don't want to get all crotchety about "the good old days" of content creation and sharing but I do struggle to keep up as the trend shifts towards constant real time broadcasting. (And yes, I realize the irony of complaining about oversharing within list about every mundane detail of my current life). 
Loving: Piper's new Bentgo lunchbox. She could not be more excited about packing a lunch at her new preschool, and I'm getting pretty pumped too. It could definitely end up being an annoying and monotonous chore, but I've got big dreams of being super-magic-fun-mom with it. We'll see if that lasts longer than the first week of school.

Hoping: we get out on the boat (my parent's little speedboat) more often. We just went for the first time this season last week, which is madness! The kids are learning to love it (as long as we don't go toooo fast) and every time we go I remember how much I love it. I'm hoping I can convince my parents to take us out a few more times before it gets cooler...maybe we'll even get Dustin to try skiing!

Marveling: that I have an almost one year old. And an almost five year old. The first year of each baby’s life seems to go sooooooo slow, and also SO FAST, so it’s surreal that Miller is actually turning one next week. And as for that five year old- there’s just something different about “five”…like it’s a bigger milestone than the years before. It feels like the last of the toddler/preschooler days, and the transition into real big-kid stuff. I’m excited about it, but also holding on to the time while she’s still little. (And don’t worry- “3” might not be as much of a milestone age, but I still marvel at Fin every day).   
another hour or two in every day. Nothing new, I realize, but man it would be nice. I'm picturing the Zach Morris "time out"- where you could pause the world for a bit, and get some things done behind the scenes, before jumping back into real time, with no one the wiser. Wouldn't it be awesome? Nobody bothering you, throwing off your groove, and no guilt about what you're missing out on or neglecting elsewhere. Yeah. That'd be sweet.

Smelling: the roses. Metaphorically at least. It might be because Miller's about to be one, or maybe it's because we're in the last stretch of Summer, but I've felt really blessed to have moments of perspective where I realize just how awesome this phase of life is. 
Wearing: allllll the spirit gear at VBS. You know me and costume theme- I'm All In. This year's theme was Cave Quest, and the kids adored it. We've been listening to the music for months (weeks before they even went to VBS) and they loved every second of the week-long party. I of course loved the "light up night" where all the kids wore neon and sported glow bracelets, but my favorite sight was my two little Yinzers putting their hands in the air to sing to Jesus. Tears.
the Olympics! We had an opening ceremonies watch party, I’ve got apps that add big events to my calendar, we’re DVR’ing the primetime coverage, we stumbled upon a cable station called “The Olympic Experience” that shows all the current coverage on one screen. I love pretty much everything about the Olympics- the backstories, the drama, the patriotic outfits…oh, and the sports!...but it really doesn’t get better than the Summer games. Plus it’s in a gorgeous locations, known for their festive flair. Yeah I’ll watch that. All day every day. Two weeks straight. I’m making great effort to teach my kids to love of all things Olympics, too, so it warms my heart when they ask to watch “‘nastics”, and cheer for the U.S. swimmers. Raisin’ ‘em right.

Noticing: my kids' every move on our dropcam. Between that and our garage door app (why can I not remember to shut it ever?!), we're pretty much The Jetsons over here.
Knowing: the world needs a replacement for Parenthood. Ok, that "ing" was a stretch...but I really just want to link to This is Us because I pretty much bawl every time the trailer comes on. pleasepleaseplease be good. (it doesn't hurt that one of the promos features a Ben Rector song I will never stop loving...I may have to go to that show)

Thinking: I can't make it all the way to November with this political drama. I don't want to add to the noise, so I'll just say this:...Trump's the worst. And I'm kind of scared.
The Love Dare. Anyone read that? (or maybe just watch the Kirk Cameron movie?) I'm thinking it could be a good challenge for Dustin and me, and an encouragement to focus on loving each other well.
an Amazon package pretty much every day. Anyone else feel like once you signed up for prime, things maybe got a little too easy? Just because I can have anything in the universe delivered in 2 days (or 2 hours!) doesn't mean I should. That being said- I'm pretty much obsessed with my spiralizer. regrets.

Giggling: at pretty much everything Fin says or does. To say she is a character is woefully underselling it. She drives me ba-na-nas, but also makes me laugh like no one else. I'm pretty pumped to watch her grow up. 
Feeling: good, good, creeping up on you So just dance, dance, dance, come on...

P.s. Check out all the previous rounds here
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Miller to the Eleventh Power

So here's the little intro part where I should write something profound and meaningful, and demonstrate my love for my sweet sweet little boy. But all I really have is:
Sorry about your Ace Ventura hairdo, buddy. 

Goofy curls aside, this little guy is such a love. He has a passionate streak that's coming out more and more, but that little fire just adds to his charm. It blows my mind how much he changes every month, but in the end one thing is constant: he is the best little addition to our family I could possibly imagine.  

Previous months: 123456789, 10.
(and 11 month old Piper, and Fin). 
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Garbage and Gatorade

The other day I felt convicted by a viral Facebook video.

(pause for just a minute to reflect on how extra-bad that feels. It's like lowest common denominator shame. But the truth comes in all forms, so here we are.)

It was a quick little clip, and one which you may have already's garbage day, and as the truck pulls up to their house, a couple of little kids run out to greet the guys, excited to see them and bring them each a bottle of Gatorade. It seems like a weekly ritual, as the two workers are greeted by name ("Hi, Mr Rob!") and they happily get out of the truck, scooping up the kids, and letting them "help" load their cans on the truck.

And that's it. 

But it's also kind of everything. 

The video is barely over a minute, but it was enough to show me how community, and serving, and love is done.

I often lament (in a self-aware manner of my #firstworldproblem perspective at least...but lament nonetheless) that I struggle to find time and ways to serve in my community. After all, I have three small kids, and a full time job...even the smallest efforts seem like just too much on top of everything I'm already trying to juggle. I can't bring someone a meal, or visit them in the hospital, or drive down to the soup kitchen...I've got my own little people who need me. And even if I could serve- where are my opportunities? Where is the need? Maybe if we were in the city...but out here in the suburbs? At my office? Many of the people I'm surrounded by each day are better off than we are, what could I do that would even be worthwhile?

(This is where God...and Facebook...step in to basically say: Ummmmm, you're missing it, dummy.)

I may not have a ton of extra time (who does?) or endless streams of money (who does?) but I do have garbage men, and I do have Gatorade (well...I could get some, anyway). I actually even have three little helpers!

Yes, it's reasonable to feel strapped for time, and buried under children. And yes, it's fair to struggle with knowing where to serve, who to serve, and how to serve.

But serving doesn't have to be hard. Community doesn't have to be complicated.
Loving others can (and should) be woven seamlessly into your life (my life), even if that love just looks like a couple of cold drinks for someone who could use them. In these hectic and full days as a mom of little ones, I may not feel like I have much left to give- but I assuredly still have something someone needs. Maybe it's a smile, it might be a hug, perhaps it's advice, or just a well timed bit-moji text encouragement...In the end, it's all just compassion. And there's no reason I can't have that.

Let's go give love like a toddler greeting a garbage man. Loudly, messily, simply and with our whole hearts.
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Seaside in Seconds

Last week we took our first big family vacation- a roadtrip to the beach! We spent a week in Seaside Florida, and in true Bowden fashion it was nothing short of a traveling circus. There were moments I thought we might not make it (there's nothing easy about a 13 hour trip with three tiny people- and their tiny bladders) but there were just as many moments when I couldn't even handle the perfection.

I know I couldn't possibly be more of a broken record these days. We get it, traveling with kids is hard, and beautiful. Parenting is hard, and beautiful. Life is just so hard and beautiful. But is! I prepared for the week to be exhausting, and frustrating, and fun...and it was all those things. And more...

We drove, swam, cried, napped, played, dug, built, hurt, snacked, complained, walked, burned, laughed, learned, screamed, drank, argued, ate, schlepped, tanned, peed, raced, slept, danced, cooked, sang, sweat, colored, cleaned, ran, shared...We did a whole bunch of really regular life, in a really stunning place, with some really fantastic people, and somehow it all added up to far more than the sum of its parts. I have a camera roll full of snapshots, and a mind full of memories. And my heart- it's really full too.

There's no way to fully document the comedy/tragedy, and heart-bursting magic of it all, but I did make a mashup of some snippets of our week together. Good or bad, I'd jump back into every one of these seconds in a heartbeat.

  Seaside in Seconds from Courtney Bowden on Vimeo.

{Film shot and edited entirely on my phone, with the 1 Second Every Day, and Splice apps}
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Never Forgot-ten

Don't worry, I didn't forget our little animal's ten month birthday...I just had to postpone the photoshoot a couple of days due to him getting a fever. Miller was a bit under the weather when we traveled to Philly last month, and he turned out to have a double ear infection. Poor little bug! (I could have done a photo montage of my sad mama face) So we had a week of sweaty, snotty cuddles, but once the amoxicillin kicked in he was back in action. Good thing too- because we had a whirlwind couple of weeks celebrating his sister's third birthday, and then going on our first big vacation as a family of five. So our scheduled documentation got a little unscheduled.

It's easy for a third baby to get a little lost in the shuffle sometimes (thankfully we at least remembered to pack everyone in the van for our trip, and avoided a KEVIN! situation) but thankfully Miller is easy going, and doesn't mind rolling with the craziness around here. Plus, I'm pretty sure he knows we love him to bits, and I would never forget about him. (Except that one time in the church nursery, but I went back right away, so it barely counts).  

So a little late, but still a LOT are nine snapshots of ten month Miller: 

Previous months: 12345678, 9
(and 10 month old Piper, and Fin). 
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Blogger Haiku

Summer is busy
Can't keep up with blogging it
Here are some pictures

(thanks for checking in
hope you're scrolling at the pool
grab a popsicle).
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