when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention

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Flipping ‘the bird’

I saw a woman flip a guy in a car the bird today.

The driver had his nose out as he was attempting to pull out from a parking lot into traffic.

The bird flipping woman stopped abruptly in front of his car, indignant that he was blocking the sidewalk. After giving him a piece of her mind with wild hand gestures, she turned on her heel and marched off with said arm and finger extended behind her.

She had a young girl with her, presumably her daughter.

My initial reaction was rather harsh – terrible behaviour to be displaying to her daughter. This is why we have kids who treat their peers with less respect than they show their pet. She is what is part of what is wrong with our society.

I’m a privileged woman. I have beautiful people in my life who inspire me with their grace, compassion and love. My twenties ushered forth people who have helped, supported, loved me at every turn. The times in my life where I have been met with criticism, mocking and judgement, I have been more likely to feel embittered, angry and resentful. Not exactly the building blocks of change and transformation.

I am a product of what has been imparted to me. The angry woman I saw today – obviously not one of her better days. But maybe it hasn’t been a kind life either. I’m not making excuses for her behaviour, we all have the choice to be an ass or have some class. I have just come to realize that some of us have a steeper mountain to climb than others. I don’t want to be a part of what hinders another person’s journey by the spirit of judgement that is so willing to ascend its lofty throne whenever presented the opportunity.




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The gift of transient friendships

As a little child, I understood that friendship should be a permanent thing. We are friends now and forever shall be.

Into my teens, best friends came in and out of my life. That process of redefining the place of friends in my life has shaped how I view friendship now as an adult.

I know many people who have their life-long friends whom they have been close with since the beginning. I always longed for that but the continuous eb and flow of who was/were my best friends has predominated. It’s not to say that I don’t still stay in touch with some long-time friends but the season of close comradery has since passed.

I once considered this a shortcoming; I now see it as a gift.

I am a very open person – it doesn’t take years for friends to see me for who I am at the core of my being: faults, ticks and quirks. I embrace diversity in the people whom I draw close. For that reason, ‘best friends’ is a relative term. My best friend two years ago is not the same one from five years ago. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to invest time into building a bond with many different people, even though there eventually comes a day, a chapter of life where paths diverge and even goodbyes are said.

Living where I do, in a small coastal community, I have already said goodbye (not always in a permanent sense) to several dear friends who have moved away.

Very soon, I will again say goodbye again to two very beautiful women in my life as they move also.  I honestly don’t know when I will see them next as they are moving a good distance away. I wish they could stay near – that our children could grow up together, that our friendships would deepen and we would build a history and the ease that long-time friendship provides.

At the same time, I feel so richly blessed to have had these woman in my life these past three years. They have encouraged and inspired me as a parent, as a partner to my husband and as a woman in a world of people needing love at every turn. I can honestly say that their friendship has left a permanent imprint on the woman I am continuing to grow and be.

It brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat to think about the day that I won’t be able to text or call to invite them over or make plans. But I know that if I had my go-to, long-time established “besties,” I might not have had the time or need to open my heart and benefit from the time spent sharing the daily routines, challenges, philosophies, joys, and ironies of our days.

The world is brimming with so many beautiful souls – I am a happier person for every one who has imparted to me their best. As the door opens wide for new friendships, I carry along the long lasting impressions of women who have touched my life.

brothers, friendship, always, love, together



When life got real

I have been grappling with some major writer’s block for basically a year now. I have so many thoughts and ideas for things I want to express through writing but when I actually have a moment (this moment is currently accompanied by my kids digging their feet into me on the couch and begging for a show), it’s like I can’t gather the pieces of my brain that are scattered all over my house.

Writers, you understand the frustration of writer’s block. I need to somehow get my words back. So I think I will just ramble, talk a bit about my past year. Not because there are wondrous tales to tell. Rather, it is an ongoing story of how life got real for us.

I feel like I became an adult this past year. We’ve had it pretty good – we still do. But if I could sum up this past year in one word it would be adversity. We have moved three times since last December. Throughout this time, I was pregnant, dealing with two separate flu bugs, an ongoing cold virus that had me bed ridden at times and bronchitis coupled with asthma that landed me in the emergency room struggling to breathe properly. At one point, we were even homeless for two weeks as we searched for a place to move into back up on the coast. After having Bronwyn, I struggled with Postpartum Depression which pulled me down to a darkness I have never known. It didn’t help that Bronwyn was “colicky” for the first six weeks of her life.

It’s no wonder, I suppose, that I feel like my brain is a smashed egg much like this picture that my friend Elyse shared with me.

brain fried, being adult, parent, small children

I do not care to repeat this past year. But I will take away some hard earned lessons from it.

Humility: We have been helped, cared for and given to again and again by dear friends. Accepting meals that you know your friends took time and love to prepare for their own families as they now offer to you – Humbling. Accepting help caring for your kids because you are so tired and sick and have never felt closer to death – Humbling. Accepting the shoulder to cry on and the ear to listen over and over as you struggle to make sense of the chaos in your life – Humbling.

Grace: Because you never truly know what others are dealing with – so be kind. Refrain from judgement and negative comments. I have wondered how many times have people become annoyed with my tardiness in getting back to them, thanking them, being that driver they honk their horn at on the road.

Relying on God: It’s just so not in my control. I can tell myself that I just need to think positively and find my inner peace, but I know that I do not have myself to thank for getting through this past year. Yes, I marched limped on but when I was loathing myself in the midst of my depression, I was reminded that the Creator still smiles and loves over me. When I was sick, I was provided for. I call that the Spirit impressing on people’s hearts to give as He gives. In acknowledging this higher power, my heart overflows with gratitude and assurance that myself and my family will not be left alone. If I all I have is myself to rely on, I am subject to my many shortcomings.

Gratitude: Because life is beautiful and that much more when health abounds and home exists.

coastal living, simple pleasures, childhood

Because pregnancy got better in the third trimester

feeling better, summer baby

Because this dad and this son light up my life every day

sunshine, warmth, swimming, lake

Along with this little one

summer sweetness, blue eyes, my oliver

Hey there’s a helmet riding a tricycle!

motorcycle helmut on toddler

And of course for this beauty!



little girl, beauty, sweetness, God has answered

And just to keep things exciting…outside our front door!

fig tree muncher, pre hibernation, neighbourhood bear




39 minutes and we had our girl!

Bronwyn Anayah Bowen – you are here.

Your middle name is Hebrew for ‘God has answered.’

I always had dreams of having a little girl one day – to dress up, to braid hair, to indulge in all things girly. Bronwyn, you have been in my heart for a long time – I feel as though I have been holding my breath. Even when the ultrasound technician gave me the joyful news, I held my breath. I wasn’t entirely sure I would be allowed to keep you.

The dreams started to build again after that ultrasound appointment. The anticipation was familiar but it didn’t come without a reminder that the sweetest of dreams can be overturned. And so I held my breath a little, bracing for heartache of some kind until the day you came flying out.

I’m kinda serious, 39 minutes of labour and two pushes and you were out!

You yelled for the first hour – our nurse said you were less than thrilled about your speedy eviction notice. But to me, your yells were a welcome sound of your hearty lungs proclaiming that you were here – alive and well!

I had gone in on your due date for a sweep – your head had been sitting between my legs already for a couple weeks and the past week, I had felt like you could drop out with a sneeze. As the doctor examined me, her eyes widened and she told me I was already five centimetres dilated and fully effaced!

Eager to keep that action going, I went home and got my Banghra dance on (you can thank your Auntie Amanda for that idea). Your Nanny B and Papa came over that night as we anticipated labour pains. But they didn’t come. I was having mild Braxton Hicks contractions but I had been having those all week (guess we know how I got to five centimetres!). I was texting my doctor to update her and she urged us to come to the hospital since the contractions were regular even though mild.

We hung out there for an hour, chatting with Dr. Sivakova and Kat (our nurse). Still nothing. The doctor decided to get things going by popping my water since you were basically ready to drop out but not really in a hurry.

And labour officially commenced at 1 a.m..

Your dad searched Youtube for a favourite Celtic singer to accompany the Frankincense I had diffusing in the room. He came up with the eery soundtrack for Lord of the Rings. As he looked for something less brooding and more relaxing, an attack ad against Stephen Harper broke through my focus on a particularly intense contraction. Everyone’s eyes widened and flicked over to Jesse at the mention of Canada’s most hated prime minister. That ended Jesse’s Youtube search for tranquil Celtic music.

I have always been a big believer in a woman’s ability to manage her pain during labour, to embrace the entirety of what her body is doing. Such an empowering thought until you’re actually feeling each intense wave of pain and you feel your body tense up, resisting it.

But that’s what was different this time – instead of trying to suppress the pain and minimize it, I began to allow each contraction to fully unravel. It is hard to describe but as I continued to do this, something oddly amazing happened. In the last few contractions before I pushed, I felt your head pass down until you were crowning. I waited for my pain level to go through the roof with the next contraction but strangely, it was rather subdued. I knew you were coming very soon and was grateful for a chance to collect my strength. Another mighty contraction and my doctor urged me to push. I reminded myself that I was not going to push my tail bone out as I felt I might and repeated “small head, small head” to myself (thank God you did have a small head…). And with the second and final push, you were out!

My biggest baby, still tiny at 6 lb. 9 oz., born August 13th, 2015 at 1:39 a.m..

Freshie, new baby, fast delivery

big brothers, meet and greet

I’m fairly certain that I was the happiest I have ever been in my life with those first few minutes of my boys meeting their baby sister for the first time. They were beyond excited and exuded a sweetness I had never seen before.

My family together, complete.

Shaely Rose, I know you shared the moment with us. My heart has cried for the dreams that would never be with you. I actually worried that I might not be capable of ever bringing a little girl safely into the world. I still cannot quite believe that I have been gifted with another little girl. God has answered…

I have been blessed with four little souls in as many years. My heart is full – each of my children has shown me truths of living fully and abundantly. What will our little Bronwyn show us next I wonder?

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Sour encounters

Okay, someone tell me – what is with people who are

a) miserable in public and

b) quick to assume you are sucking at being a mom and they could show you better?!

The last few days have set a record for sour encounters while out and about with my kids. Please read along.

Encounter in the parking lot 

It was the longest drive to the pharmacy that one sun shiny morning with my seriously watery, sticky, itchy allergy riddled eye and I pulled our truck into the only available spot in the tight parking lot. It was for a small car but I was in a desperate situation and there was still room behind me for cars to pass through.

Upon getting the relief promised by Benedryl, I got my kids buckled into their car seats and hopped behind the wheel when I remembered these pills may have a drowsy factor. And that other item I needed to pick-up finally presented itself to the forefront of my thoughts. Yep, I had to do it all over again.

I got Shae out of the car and went around the other side to unbuckle Oliver when I heard an annoyed voice.

“Excuse me, are you leaving?”

I glanced over the pick-up and saw an older woman standing there.

“I can’t get out,” she exacerbated.

Confused, stressed and searching for my other offspring to make sure he was still on the sidewalk, I responded in an equally annoyed manner.

“What do you need??”

“Are you leaving or going in because your truck is blocking my car!”

What the eff is this lady going on about?

“No, I am taking my kid out and going back in,” I said. If she thought I was going to pack my kids back into the truck [for a third time!]…

I walked around the back to see what her complaint was about. Because of the angle of our two spots and the extra foot hanging off my back end, I could see that her exasperation was caused by the fact that she couldn’t back straight up and would have to swing her wheels to the left a little bit as she exited. The inconvenience!

I informed her that she was completely able to get out and even offered to help guide her out. Standing behind her vehicle with Oliver on my hip and my 31 week belly sticking out, I waved her to come. No movement. “Come!”

“I don’t need your help!” She yelled out her window.


The neighbourhood

Later that afternoon, I sat on my nieghbour’s lawn, watching our kids ride their bikes on the street. “Car coming” and the children scampered to the side of the road. The car continued slowly on, passing closely by Shae and his friend. I guess Shae was feeling antzy and moved a foot forward as the car rolled past him. I immediately yelled out for him to stop. Admittedly, I didn’t leap up. Washing the car earlier had taken a tole on my already stiff legs. The old man in the car stopped and then continued, turning at the dead end and coming back up the street. I was still talking to Shae about the importance of not moving at all when a car goes by when the car rolled up to where my friend and I sat.  His eyes were fixated on me with a withered, accusing expression.

“That was very inappropriate,” he said in a scolding tone through his open window.

My crazy head space was attracting misery that day.

“And I’m talking to him about it,” I responded looking back directly at him.

There was a brief pause as he continued to scrutinize me, “I should hope so.” His eyes locked on mine, he rolled his car forward slowly and didn’t break the eye lock until the strain of it demanded his eyes look forward again.

Yeah, he lives four doors down from me. Blessed to have such concerned neighbours.

The thrift store.

I live in a small town, small stores. I sent my boys to the back of the store where the toys were, keeping myself in view of them as I browsed the racks.

They played happily for a good 15 minutes or longer. Then I heard Shae let out a cry that signaled either a kid had taken a toy from him or some other non-threatening circumstance. As I struggled to get a shirt back onto a hanger, I called to him. One second, two second, three, oh there’s an employee walking over to the scene. I start to walk over and I hear the employee’s critical voice say,

“Where the hell is the mother??”

Because it had been three seconds too long and what kind of mother would be acquiring items to buy in nearby racks while her children play with cheap and used toys?

Clearly inappropriate and neglectful of that mother.

I can’t wait til I have three kids and I get the stares and questions like “are you Catholic?”


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Tossing the rule book for being the optimal parent

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you know that I have two boys, ages three and two (16 months apart to get specific) and another one due in August.

Like any good mom out there, I’m giving this whole parenting my best. I’ve read the articles, I make the food, I listen to them and teach them about respect and manners, I put them in swim lessons even though Shae hasn’t actually even got into the pool the last couple sessions for which I signed him up…

My world is a steady stream of suggestions, insights, thoughts on how I can raise my little charges into the best human beings possible. It isn’t surprising that if I had to fill out a checklist, it might say that I am failing in my role.

So what are the top offenders in my household?

Strike 1: I let my three-year-old watch a show (up to an hour or possibly more *shock, horror* almost every day during the week while his brother naps. I’d say one or two of those five days on average, I don’t let Netflix be the replacement for an opportunity to take advantage of the one-on-one time with my son and do something to help develop his eager-to-learn brain. I gotta say, I give myself a pat on the back those days I do some baking with him, take him out in the yard and do some gardening or read stories to him. As for the other three or four days, I have lived in perpetual guilt and worry that I am dumbing down my child’s ability to create, imagine and play independently.

Strike 2: I yell at my kids sometimes, they see me get mad at them.

Strike 3 (and I’m out!): I actually can’t think of anything big enough to induce guilt or anxiety.

Yep, pretty incriminating.

On TV…

Theoretically, I agree that the less screen time, the better. You know what’s even better in my opinion? A less stressed/tired mom who is able to get down on her kid’s level when he is having a fit and have enough patience to not throw one herself. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing like some peace and quiet to refuel the engine and apparently, my engine runs out by noon a lot of days! Might have something to do with being consistently woken up multiple times per night for the past three and-a-half years or maybe it’s just my personality. It is what it is.

But my friend AmazingMom somehow manages to have very limited screen time for her kids, my inner voice says. What’s your deal? You’re really just selfish. You rather sacrifice your kid’s intellect so that you can enjoy an hour or so to yourself. It’s about doing what’s best for your kid, it’s not about your enjoyment!

I have decided to tell that accusing voice to get lost and thank the Lord that I have the resources to keep my child safe and entertained while I enjoy a much needed nap, internet time, blogging or devotional time. Why? Because I value the mother I am because of this controlled silence rather than the one I inevitably become because I exhausted my mental, emotional and physical faculties with doting on my child attention all day long AND tacked on some extra special nurturing time during nap. Because I know which route does my child the greater disservice.

And judging by the fact that my kids are not whining for shows at any point in the day and thoroughly enjoy creative play both inside and outside, I think they’re doing alright.

Again, if I could get around it and put a check mark on the list for no daily screen time, I would. Maybe if my older son was in preschool a couple times a week or I could even afford a weekly babysitter,I wouldn’t rely so much on the tele. Me going to bed earlier every night might help a bit too or maybe not. Despite the fact that I do some nights, sometimes I want to nurture that other important relationship in my life. Now that’s important.

It’s not ideal, but it’s really not the worst thing I could be doing (or you!).

On yelling…

Geez, I sure can’t blame anyone else but myself for them yelling at each other can I?

I am not saying yelling is okay. I feel bad when I get frustrated and annoyed enough to yell and express my displeasure. But you know something, my kids get it. When “mommy’s not happy” comes out, they know they’ve stepped over the line. They realize that sometimes their behaviour does have negative effect on those around them. Sometimes, I remember to take five but what do you know, kids aren’t fans of that and mine like to join me (outside the door if necessary) as I attempt to calm myself and remind myself that this too will pass.

And what’s with stigmatizing yelling? Yelling is a rather normal (could even argue healthy) form of expression. To me, it comes down to words. Are my choice of words hurtful and thoughtless? Am I instilling fear, guilt and self-depreciation? I would rather my kids witness mommy exploding a little bit and realize that they are not the center of the universe than grow up thinking that yelling is something only angry people do. People yell – if I can use my in-the-moment lack of patience and self-regulation to teach them that yelling doesn’t have use hurtful and damaging words, maybe they aren’t so bad off.

So again, it’s even better if I can demonstrate patience and self-regulation. But for the times I fail, I know that my kids aren’t being verbally deconstructed because I expressed that their behaviour is not acceptable and it makes mommy “not happy.”

Here’s the thing, I’m here to guide them. There are endless scenarios ahead in their young lives where circumstances will be less than ideal and he will have to navigate many of them by himself. If nothing else, my short comings with parenting coupled with boundaries and love might enable them to take on the responsibility of making good choices for themselves. Heck, my kid knows that Diego makes him grumpy and that’s why he’s not allowed to watch it.


screen time

photoshoot with our boys

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I’m not new to this anymore

I went to a group a few weeks back called Bellies and Babies. I used to go in my old town when I had only Shae and was pregnant with Oliver. I found a place there – other moms who were speaking my language! Birth stories, swollen feet, how often our babies fed, worries about how to figure out that one tried and true way of getting the little grubs to sleep…

It was strange being back in that environment now with a two year-old and a three year-old and a little one in utero. The conversations were the same, but I had nothing to add to them. I realized that the discovery season of being a first time mom is a closed chapter in my life.

I tend to feel things pretty deeply. For another, this kind of benchmark is noted and not given a whole lot of thought. But I go through a little bit of a ceremonial release of what days used to be and how they will never be just like that again.

Being a first-time mom was a world shifting event. Every day, my world became less about me and more about my baby. Books about fictional characters and their entertaining lives were replaced with ones that assured me of the best way to get my baby to sleep, eat, play and parent. Online articles related to anything parenting seemed to jump out of the screen (and still do). “Free” time was spent making veggie purées and sleeping if baby was sleeping. Most of all, the plans I had for how my life/career would go looked increasingly ominous and distant.

But it was a journey that I embraced head on as we mothers do. Whether you get back into your kicks a few weeks post-partum, go back to your full time job before a year’s time, becoming a mom changes you – for the better in my experience. One example is I have become way more conscious of my diet and make healthy choices way more than I ever did before. Funny enough, I like food better now too.

The language of motherhood has evolved a bit for me as I contemplate with other moms with how to best prepare my kids for life in a dynamic world. Together with my husband, we are figuring out how to show these guys how to communicate, how to share, how to play with others, good manners, respect, obedience. Talk about brain power!

But I will never underestimate the journey of being a first-time mom and figuring out that you were doing “it” right. Adjusting to processing your world with a sleep deprived brain, insane feat. Realizing your partner did not have the same radical overnight transformation you did and explaining why your world is different now, a sometimes lengthy process. Finding fulfillment in days that bare no resemblance to what brought you that sense of a job well done in days past, tears will be shed.

Being a mom now (going for three!), every day I am so grateful that I get to be this person in my boys’ lives. There are few words that can express how my heart both breaks and swells when one of my little boys brings me a flower or says “I wuv you, Mom.” I share in their joy when they victoriously proclaim that they made it to the top of a rock. I swell with pride when I see them caring for each other with a gentle pat or stroke on the head.

It has taken me some time to embrace where ever I am at in this parenting journey. I think I am finally settling into a groove. Watch these guys shake things up for me because I know they will!

when it was just two