when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


4 Strategies for the Picky Eater

All two years of his life, my firstborn has been a champion eater. He ate it ALL.

Almost overnight, he suddenly started shoving away his favourite foods until he was on a daily diet of toast with honey and fruit. Even the smoothies I used to

make him (which I would cleverly sneak spinach or kale into) were ignored.

picky eater, stubborn toddler, laying down the law

In the craziness of keeping up with housework, errands, play dates, planning and making dinners with a two year-old and almost one-year old literally clinging to my pant legs, it is hard to know how to combat the picky eater syndrome. For a while, I worried that if I didn’t make him something that he would concede to eating, he wouldn’t eat at all and go to bed hungry and maybe wake up in the night hungry… And then there was the battle aspect of it. Dinner is already a haphazard affair in which I usually steal bites between hopping up to grab something for someone or shoving a spoonful of food in my younger son’s mouth. Coaxing a stubborn toddler to eat something he was dead set against seemed like a battle I was doomed to loose.

Until I decided it’s a battle I am going to win because enough is enough with my two year-old calling the shots on what he eats!

So here’s what I’ve started doing differently.

1. I’ve stopped making him a separate meal – that’s all there is for breakfast, kiddo.

I expected a especially cranky toddler because of this but there’s not much change except that he’s that much hungrier and more ready to eat once lunch or dinner is up.

2. I’ve started bringing out vegetables and dip for snack time.

I slice up a colourful assortment and make a point of eating them with him. I actually got an “oh boy!” today as I laid down the plate on our picnic blanket outside.

3. I avoid giving him anything to eat three hours before dinner (which is 5:30 p.m. for us).

It’s a common practice but essential. Don’t spoil your appetite.

4. Daddy and I enjoy our meals exuberantly in front on him.

This one has had perhaps the greatest impact. Not even kidding. My husband and I started really smacking our lips and commenting on how good our food was and while Shae still frowns and shakes his head, it doesn’t last as long as before. We talk a lot about “yummy in my tummy.” Shae loves the rhyming and I love how it is programming his brain to enjoy wholesome and nutritious food.

It’s a work in progress but I am encouraged to see his reluctance to eating healthy food is already waning after a few days of stepping things up. He’s not big into the leafy greens just yet but we’ll keep trying!


Do you have any tips and suggestions for dealing with a picky eater?


Leave a comment

What those Bowen boys are doing

sitting with treasures, festivities, cute boys

The boys had their first Easter egg hunt along with other little eager seekers at our friend’s house last week. I have to admit, I kind of poo-pooed the whole Easter egg hunt business until I saw all the eager and excited faces. My fellow took his first hunt seriously – search and conquer.


Warmer days are here at last! These two were quite pleased with their view from way up “high on the house.”

big brother squishing

cuteness, snotty nosehappy, big smile, joyous

It’s hard to believe but my little Oliver will be one year-old next month! He’s getting more sturdy on his feet and perches on one knee and can even stand occasionally for a few seconds. But he doesn’t seem in much of a rush to get walking which is totally okay with me!

Shae is a conversationalist. He likes to introduce himself and his brother and his mom to strangers at the medical clinic. Some of his sweetest expressions these days include:

“Mama, stop all the llama drama!” (He has these Llama, Llama books and apparently they are quite quotable)

“It fits!”

“Two boys! Shae and Oliver.” (This as I heave them both up on either hip)

“Where’s Thomas and Percy?” (He’s constantly loosing one or more of his trains)

“I got the phone.”

“Pusha the light” (Although this comes at bedtime in protest)


And those are your Bowen highlights for this week. Enjoy the weekend!


Leave a comment

Why we all need Easter

Two Years Without Ariel and How I Go On.
By Cindy Olsen

There are over seven billion people in this world, and yet so often I feel lonely. When Ariel was travelling in Mexico, or Ecuador, or England, I missed her. But I felt her presence on this earth. If I spent the rest of my life searching the four corners of the world, I would not find her. She is gone and I am lonely for her.

Please don’t tell me I have my memories of her because memories don’t suffice. Neither do pictures, nor her sweatshirts, nor her boots that I wear. I am lonely for her physical presence; her scowling during year end finals, her laughing when I did or said something silly, her hugs, her standing in our living room with her weight on one leg so she could use the other foot to maneuver a soccer ball in such a way that it looked like she was creating a dance. I am lonely for her – the mind, body and soul that was Ariel.

And yet, I go on.

There are three reasons I go on – a trinity of sorts. This trinity is made up of myself, my neighbours, and God.

I will start with myself because I knew pretty quickly that I needed to make a choice. Every morning I woke up with a groan. Every morning Ariel was still gone and I had to live another day without her and with the incredible emotional, spiritual and physical pain that caused. But every day I woke up. This pain that was so unbearable, was not going to actually kill me. Whether I liked it or not, whether or not I liked the circumstances of my life, life was going to continue. I needed to choose how I was going to live in this world without Ariel.

I could have chosen to fade away. Not to die, but to become (or stay) broken, less then myself, uninvolved, bitter, depressed, angry, sick. I could have become a worry and a burden to my husband, daughter, my son-in-law and grandsons, daughter-like nieces, sister, family and friends.
But they were already reeling from the loss of Ariel. I couldn’t do that to them. Because you see, I love them so much too; especially Ariel’s sister. I never want my Alysse to think that I love Ariel more then her. I love them equally.

So I chose to participate in life again.

Another reason I chose to participate is because even in my darkest depths I was aware that I am not the only person in this world suffering a traumatic loss. I thought of my grandmother who had three of her four children die before her. At Ariel’s service there were at least four sets of parents who had lost children. And one couple did not know that in two weeks time two of their sons would also be gone. Life is not fair for many people, not just me. I felt that choosing to participate in life again, was a way to acknowledge the suffering of others.

So I made this choice. But choosing to participate in life and actually doing it are two different things. I couldn’t do it by myself.

That is where you come in – “my neighbours” – the second member of this trinity. I define my neighbour as anyone other then me. It is you who did the hard work to help me live out my choice.

It is Randi and Mary who cooked and cleaned, got me dressed, did our laundry, did paperwork, made phone calls, and never left me alone. And they did this for weeks. It is my husband who has been patient and caring. It is Alysse sending pictures of the boys and coming down to visit more then normal. It is Menno and Arie just being their sweet selves. It is Taylor, Rudi and Bailey constantly phoning and visiting and keeping me company. The Ens family, Sammarco’s, Samuels, my parents and too many more to mention.

It is the cards, and meals, roses, orchids, hydrangeas, soups and pies that you all dropped off. It is the cherry blossom trees you planted. It is the ornaments, “likes” on facebook, words of encouragement, Pandora charms, necklaces and gifts for my grandsons. It is the photo album, books and poems. The box of notes and treasures from Nottingham.

It is Ariel’s friends, near and far – who showed compassion and maturity beyond their years. Coming to Ariel’s Amazing Race.

It is Ariel’s bench.

It is my faith community – family actually. Hundreds of people showing me love, crying with me, giving me space when I needed it, helping out.
Today and every day, I am thankful for my neighbours. I go on because of the overwhelming outpouring of love from all of you, my dear neighbours whom I love back.

Love. It is love that brings us to God. He completes this special trinity.
In the first few months, I showed no love towards God. I swore at Him, shook my fists at him, and stamped my feet. In anger I turned my back on him and even questioned His existence; which made me question the meaning of life. I asked hard questions. And I have processed those questions. I have talked with people and read a lot and reflected. I have worked hard. I’ve prayed. And in time, I turned back to Him. My anger turned to an even deeper understanding and stronger faith.

I go on because of my faith in Jesus. I believe that there is a beautiful, mysterious, magical, spiritual truth to our lives that is bigger then our physical death. I believe that Ariel is gone from this world and a part of me will always be sad. But I also believe that she now lives in Gods presence, where she is meant to be – where we are all meant to be and in that I have peace.

I am thankful for being able to make the choice that I did. I am thankful for you, the people whom I love and hold dear; who loved and cared for me so greatly that my only response was to get out of bed, get dressed and put one foot in front of the other. And I am thankful and praise God for creating us; for creating Ariel. I am thankful that he loves us so much that he wants us to live with him for all eternity. I am thankful that He made that happen. Because of Jesus, light wins, life wins, love wins.

I go on because I believe with all my heart and soul and mind that Ariel goes on….and that more than suffices.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter this April 20th,2014.

Dedicated to my husband who journeys with me.


These words were re-blogged with permission from the woman who wrote them – a lady with whom I used to attend church.


Five things to get excited about

Shaking things up today with a link-up with some other fantastic bloggers and showing you five things I’m pretty excited about right now!

5thingsbuttonmonthly expenditures, groceries, gas, household, entertainment and eating outhealthy snacks, energy, tasty, yumminessfirst year almost over, sweet boyspring, growing food, happiness, healthstickers, pee, poo, success!

1. Budget jars: I get my OCD fix right here. There’s something quite satisfying about monitoring and knowing exactly how much we are spending on things each month. The way we sort it is having six jars: Groceries, Eating Out, Household, Alcohol, Entertainment and Transportation. This is our first month doing it and I feel happy to see that we are doing pretty well although we will make some adjustments to next month’s allotted amounts.

2. I just saw this 21 ways to eat toast on Facebook and I am seriously so excited to try them all! Thanks Buzzfeed.com!

3. This little sailor  is turning one next month (already!)! He has brought so much joy to our lives and while the days are filled with many sides of craziness him and his year older brother bring, there is so much I am looking forward to in his next year of life!

4. Planting and eventually reaping the harvest has got to be one of the most rewarding things one can do in life. This year we have a box of lettuce, bok choi and salad greens in the soil soon to be followed by tomatoes which are currently budding over my kitchen sink. It’ll be another learning experience as I have moved the spinach to more suitable location (I hope!). Looking forward to a bountiful harvest this year!

5. On to Week #2 of my toddler taking it upon himself to do his business on his little potty is looking pretty promising! One day at a time. 🙂


This link-up is brought to you by Tairalyn of Little Miss Mama and Diana of The World Around Her. Hope you enjoyed!


Leave a comment

How tossing our microwave saved me more time

We sold our microwave at a garage sale about six months ago and haven’t missed it since.

It was a bit hard to let go at first – in fact we put it out in the shed only to bring it back after some time. I mean, when little hungry mouths are demanding food NOW, it’s nice to settle the noise within one minute by throwing some leftovers into the microwave. And what about quick thawing things? It takes hours to thaw frozen meat otherwise.

The thing is, I don’t think twice about pouring my coffee into a pot and warming it up on the stove no more than I wait anxiously for leftover dinner to warm up in the toaster oven. I plan for it to take a bit longer – if I know I want to have lunch on the table by noon, I throw the spaghetti into the toaster oven fifteen minutes before and use the time between washing up the boys and getting them seated (Yeah, it takes that long sometimes!).

Why I don’t miss it.

So much of our lives is spent rushing – rushing out the door, rushing through the grocery store, rushing through checking emails, rushing to appointments, rushing through meals… We squeeze more than is often healthy into every possible minute of our day. We can do it all because we have amenities like microwaves, smartphones, cars, internet, prepared food. We also have increasing rates of heart disease, numerous nervous system disorders, and cancers.

Not having a microwave has been one step towards a less chaotic household because it forces me to plan ahead more and leave ample time for tasks to be done rather than packing in as much as I can leading up to chow time.

basket fun, silly boys, photo op

Also, not having a microwave kinda forces you to actually cook food instead of buying ready to go stuff that is loaded with salt, preservatives and other stuff your body has to work overtime to digest and metabolize. Not saving time there you might think. But what is your understanding of time? Is time something to be used up entirely with all the items on our “to do” lists, or is it spending moments to teach our kids how to eat and live well? I have more of the later because of not owning a microwave.

More reasons to toss?

Microwaves as a health risk is a moot point. As with anything, one can only draw a conclusion based on the information available. So here are some points for what is known and on the flip side, what isn’t.

  • The energy emitted from microwaves reverses the polarity of the atoms and molecules millions of times a second unlike anything else in nature. Microwaves change the molecular structure of food, damaging the cells.
  • We all know not to heat our baby’s milk in the microwave because it heats it up unevenly and causes “hot spots.” What you may not know is that it also it was found to convert certain amino acids into poisonous neurotoxins.
  • A Swiss scientist, Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel, conducted tests on the blood of individuals after consuming food from microwaves and his findings concluded deterioration in the human body. He was thereafter fired from his job for questioning the integrity of microwaving food.
  • Blood levels tested in people after consuming microwaved food showed decreased hemoglobin levels while white blood cell production increased.
  • Microwaves were banned by in the Soviet Union in 1971. They issued an international warning on the potential health hazards after intensive and thorough research.
  • Other European countries have also taken a cautionary stance to microwaves based on their own scientific evaluations.
  • In the states, there have been no specifically tailored studies conducted by universities nor the government on the effects of microwaved food and the human body.
  • The FDA admittedly states that there are many questions on the effects of radiation on the human system and yet health claims for them are widespread as is their use.


Sticking to it

Changing your lifestyle is no easy task. There is no shortage of articles that promise a new and healthy you if you follow just 5 easy steps. How many times have we all given some diet or activity a whirl only to get back to our former habits within the month? Why do we struggle to make the change stick?

Change has been a gradual thing for me. I wanted to eat less sugar so I went on a crash “no sugar” diet for six whole days last year. The plan was to make it a month. It wasn’t all in vain though. It gave my body a chance to sort of reset and lose some of its intense craving of sweet things. But it wasn’t until I started changing what I allowed myself to bring into my house and to bake with that the real change started happening.

For example, I am a cookie fiend and always will be. I stopped buying white sugar and started looking for recipes that used either very little sugar or substitutes like stevia, apple sauce or honey. After doing this for several months, I one day whipped up a batch of my old style cookies and to my surprise, I didn’t really enjoy them. They were too sweet for my sensitive taste buds. The nerves in my teeth spasmed as did my stomach after the second one.

And so began the process of phasing out things that I knew were not helping me with my health, energy and even my emotions.

Foods I have or am phasing out:

  • white granulated sugar
  • processed meats like hot dogs and sandwich meat
  • most flavoured yogurts (I make exceptions for honey flavoured Greek Gods from time to time)
  • all-purpose white flour for use in baking
  • prepared foods (Kraft Dinner, cookies, granola bars, frozen pizza [my husband isn’t a part of phasing out that one but we don’t eat a lot of it anymore])
  • cow’s mik

These days, I typically have an abundant source of energy despite running around after two little ones. Colds don’t drag on as long and my perspective is a lot more clear. Food is far more enjoyable and fulfilling too.

To “phase out” successfully, you need a replacement for whatever it is you’re trying to go without because naturally you will probably still want to eat it from time to time. I make our own granola bars; I use recipes that require little or no white flour and buy plain yogurt and top it with honey, seeds and fruit. There’s more labour involved to be sure but it’s something I have become passionate about. That’s really what this is all about. Ultimately, whatever it is that you want, you have to get passionate about it. Passion is the motor that turns the wheels of change.

Be the change you want to see and you may surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing!

climbing a wall, reaching the top, making change, making progress. happier




My friend and I were on the hunt for a more wholesome muffin not made with conventional white flour. We gave this recipe a try and I was quite pleased with the results.

And how about oat flour as opposed to all-purpose white? Firstly, there should be a distinction made between quick rolled oats and old fashioned rolled oats or steel cut. Think of the quick in oats not only as quick cooking but quick digesting. This isn’t a good thing because it causes a spike in sugar levels. What used to be a complex carbohydrate, which is a more lengthy process to break down, takes on some attributes of a simple carbohydrate. But in their best form, oats are a great source of phosphorus, fiber, zinc and magnesium to name just a few essential minerals to everyday health. Magnesium is drained from your body with sugar consumption so another point goes to oat flour over starchy white filler.

So here’s they are, Almond Butter Banana Nut Muffins.

  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1/4 c. nut butter (I used almond butter)
  • 1/3 c. stevia (I plan to try using apple sauce next time)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. oat flour (takes about two cups of whole oats thrown into your food processor or bullet)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. walnuts or pecans

oat flour, bananas, nut butter, yummy, wholesome


Recipe source: heathereatsalmondbutter.com


1 Comment

The moments between the chaos

adorable, sunglasses, cool dude You wouldn’t believe it from these shots but today was a work out. From lifting children off of each other, to dashing and lunging to save one from falling off a chair, to extending a 28 lb toddler in front of me to avoid poo smeared fingers from touching me – Jillian Michaels would be pleased with my efforts.

big baby, happy guy, sweetheart, monkey love, chubster

But there was some big love and cuteness going on so all in all, not a bad day. This guy here is 10 months old now – doesn’t lie so still with that monkey anymore.

brothers, reading books, quiet time, calm

In addition to protesting naps, Shae has been waking up at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep! We thought we’d try skipping nap today and try a quiet time instead. He protested that too quite furiously for a while and then spotted his Thomas the Train book. Crossing our fingers for tomorrow morning.

cutest boys, happy boys, rowdy

And this is what makes my heart swell.

warm spring days, sandbox play

Today was a warm spring day and the sandbox was enjoyed again. I think Oliver is even starting to realize that sand doesn’t taste so good as I didn’t find any in his mouth.


These photos brought to you by the censored lens. Happy Monday everyone!


1 Comment

Diaper days are numbered!

Happy dances are happening daily around here as Shae is going on his fifth day in a row of peeing and pooping in his little potty!!!

big boy, potty training, doing his business, proud mama

Just all of the sudden, he decided sitting down to do his business was a good idea. So far, it mostly takes place throughout the morning after we take off his night diaper. I remembered to take off his diaper after nap today and again, he rose to the occasion, or rather sat? Anyways, I am pretty tickled at this new development and eager to keep it going. It’s one thing for him to go to the potty while he is home, it’s a whole ‘nother thing when we’re out and about. How do we go about that? Is it just a matter of him realizing it’s rather uncomfortable to walk/sit in wet pants? When do we start to venture out without a diaper? Should I get the ‘potty trained at home’ down-pat first?

And finally, night trained. I am not in a rush for this one but I would love to hear your stories of how and when this miraculous change took place!