when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


The Jasmine

thrity wears thursday, hippyville, casual, summer, cheap, reuse

So upon request from my friend Rebekah over at Surviving Toddlerhood, I am sharing what a typical day, me wearing Jasmine pants (aka harem pants, Aladdin pants) looks like. In no way do I think I have some special insights into the fashion world and have never considered having a “fashion” part of my blog. But I am exploring the idea of having a bit more structure and consistency with my blog and to that end, I bring you…

Thrifty wears Thursday!

Anyone who knows me knows that I mostly shop at thrift stores for a couple reasons: 1) I can’t keep up with the prices on brand new clothing these days! 2) Why not reuse the already good finds circulating through second hand shops?

When I am not shopping at thrift stores, I also like to support local tailors and small shops. The jasmine pants featured here today are from such a place. You can often find street vendors selling their wears at festivals and ferry terminals during the summer. If you are looking for some breezy, summery wear, be sure to keep your eyes open for these pop-up shops. These pants are actually converted from a child sized romper simply by wearing them around my waist – and I saved myself $15 because they were in the children’s section! 😛

I found the top at a friend’s clothing swap along with the earrings – another score!

I have another secret to share with you. If you are blessed to have a family member from a country south of the USA, give her your shopping list when she’s down for a visit. The necklace I’m wearing was among several other treasures my sister-in-law found during her visit to her homeland in Colombia and significantly cheaper than if I even managed to find something equivalent here.

And that’s it for today’s Thrifty Wears Thursday! Enjoy the weather if it’s sunny wherever you are!


P.S. I apologize for the low grade quality shot here – next time it’ll be better!



The highlight reel

I’ve been blogging at When we were young… for about eight months now.

I want to express my appreciation for everyone who has followed via email, or like when we were young… on Facebook. It means so much because in this space, I can connect, learn and build on dreams because of you – the reader. Because you read, comment, and “like” on Facebook, I am motivated to expand my world beyond the walls of my home and duties of motherhood that keep my mind so preoccupied that I often forget how to be me.

And on that note, I want to share a little bit with you about who I am.

What era was I born? The 80s, 26 years into a large family that grew larger (eight kids in total).

What type of kid was I? The talkative one

cutsie, chubby, little, sisters, bonded

Edjucated? Joking, despite barely passing my Grade 12 English provincial exam, I graduated from university with a degree in journalism. Seriously, Grade 12 English, you suck.

Been here or there? I lived abroad in Vienna, Austria for five months and traveled to 11 European countries before settling down. I would go back to Ireland in a heartbeat – something in the Irish blood calls me to the land of my heritage.

Ireland, cliffs of moher, beauty, heritage, love

Let’s hear it for love! Seven years ago, a quirky dude took me swing dancing and we got hitched a year and a half later.

winter wedding, young love, pre-kids

There’s no place like home… My husband and I moved to a small island called Pender just a few months after we got hitched. There, we lived a rich life of being part of small community that included but was not limited to: acting in a play, teaching swing dancing and running a plumbing business.

swing dancing, talent show, pender island, legendary

small town cafe, hope bay, new family of three, happy days, pender island

Life changing events: My husband and I conceived a little girl in 2010 and I carried her for over 32 weeks when she arrived stillborn. Seven weeks after loosing her, Shae was conceived and then born the following January. His brother Oliver followed 16 months later. It has been a long haul, needless to say.

pregant on pender, big love, big heartache, hopeful

A piece of clothing that describes me: Jasmine pants

harem pants, jasmine pants, comfy, stylin, best wear

A song that always makes me happy: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

If you have been reading this blog and would like to keep reading, be sure to find When we were young on Facebook and “Like”!


To my fellow bloggers, I am enjoying getting to know you and hope you feel better acquainted with me now!







You think you got it figured out? Ha!

I’m just figuring things out.

I have times when I feel like I know pretty well how to be Mommy to my two boys.

But for the most part, I am walking through new territory that deceives me in its familiarity.

Let me elaborate on that one a bit. My two-year-old is in the business of challenging me. Seriously, it’s his job in Toddler Brain Development. While I have had this exact same argument before about why he cannot have anymore “jam-berries” (yesterday actually), I’m not actually sure that I know that I am responding the right or rather, most constructive way.

They say you should try to avoid using the word “no” and instead answer focusing on the positives.

Okay answer: “No, you cannot have more jam-berries. There might even be a scowl on my face.

Better answer: “You want more jam-berries, Shae can have more jam-berries tomorrow!” All bright and sunshiny of course.

And just when I think I am figuring it out, he figures me out.

The example that comes to mind is back when we first started “training” him to stay in his bed by wordlessly walking him back down the hallway, over and over and over… A few nights in, he realized all his requests were falling on deaf ears and he pulled out the Jesus card.

“Mama, say thank-you to Jesus?” You got me you little grub, I’m not going to cut off access to Jesus for you. Works every first time it happens and I get down on my knees and pray for that precious and “too smart for his own good” little boy.

You see, the territory keeps changing in the midst of looking familiar.

I think I have some aim to perfect motherhood. It’s the only thing that explains why I feel so dreadful when I don’t manage to make all the best decisions for my little ones. Seriously, who needs that stress???

These little grubby handed men, they got me wrapped around their little fingers.

at nana's house, pool time, mama with camera, fun in the sun, summer days, joy, splashing, frameable



Who wants to wear that???

Up to this point, I have felt I have been avoiding a lot of toxic stuff by buying whole foods as opposed to prepared, organic and non-GMO instead of unmarked (when I can) and exercising when my boys aren’t crawling all over me.

But for some reason, I haven’t had the same consideration for what goes on my body as what goes in it.

I’m talking about the shampoo I use, the moisturizers, make-up, sunscreens. I think that the cosmetic industries are failing hugely because when I go to the hair and skin care aisle, it is practically impossible to find a product that isn’t laden with hormonally disruptive, skin aggrevating and lead based ingredients.

I never thought I would contemplate actually buying a tube of mascara for $35/$40. Why would I do that when I can get a pack of two of CoverGirl at Costco for $21.99?

Short answer – my kids.

When my summer came around for my firstborn, I started looking into what sunscreens are good for baby use. At the time, everything I read recommended not using sunscreen for kids under the age of one and furthermore, most sunscreens contained ingredients such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene – all found to cause hormonal disruption and skin allergies. Ingredients were also found to alter the thyroid, reproductive system and decrease sperm production in animals. Uh no, I cannot knowingly put that on my kids. But that’s just sunscreen.

toxic, not healthy, bad, unnatural

I started looking at my own baby products – Aveeno Baby, Johnson & Johnson (which owns Aveeno Baby) and L’Oréal Kids. Turns out they all contain at least three known carcinogenic ingredients.

toxic stuff, not on my skin, not for baby, unnatural

I’m not sure if I have dismissed known toxins in my hair and skin products because I wash it off or simply because the word toxic is fairly vague. It doesn’t really give me an idea of what that means to the health and well being of my body. Let me share what I have learned since.

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *      *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Check your cosmetics, skin and hair products for these FDA approved toxins. Their use is unrestricted in Canada with the exception of some Coal tar derived colours.

Parabens: A widely used preservative in cosmetics, everything from your mascara to your shampoo. Parabens have been found in human breast cancer tissue and may also cause problems in male reproductive functions. That anti-aging cream might be doing the exact opposite as a particular paraben (methylparaben), accelerating aging and damaging the DNA.

I love my Angel fragrance but I can’t know if it contains parabens because manufacturers are not required to reveal their trade secrets on the ingredients list if parabens are used in the fragrance recipe.

Sodium laureth sulfate: Used to make shampoo and body wash sudsy – may be contaminated with “measureable” amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane human carcinogens found to harm the nervous system and developement.

PEG Compounds: Used in creams, also contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, potentially causing cancer as well as not breaking down and leaving toxic waste in our environment.

BHA and BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene): A preservative that induces skin allergies and interferes with hormone functions – potentially causing thyroid, liver and kidney problems for you in later years. Classified under the The International Agency for Research on Cancers a possible human carcinogen and may cause cancer.

Coal tar-derived colours: Used in many hair dyes and and linked to the development of many different cancers. Also often laced with heavy metals that are damaging to the brain.

DEA (diethanolamine): Used to make cosmetics creamy or sudsy. Lab studies have shown high doses cause liver cancers and other precancerous changes to the skin and thyroid. The European Union restricts the use of DEA and classifies it as harmful and seriously damaging to health with long term exposure.

Triclosan: Used in many anti-antiperspirants and deodorants as well as cleansers, and hand sanitizers. Suspected to interferes with your hormones, agitates skin and eyes and is extremely toxic to aquatic life as it does not degrade once down your drain.

That’s just a few. The thing that hits home for me about all of this is that many people fit into the category of long-term use and exposure. I myself shampoo my hair every two or three days and wear make-up almost every day.

How often do you wash your hair, apply make-up and moisturize?

This is why I am excited to be a part of the Arbonne team and help promote health, beauty and wellness. The big thing many folks get stuck on is the prices of products. I could talk about how you pay for what you get but I get it, we are all doing the best we can to provide for our families and make ends meet. But consider these points:

  1. A given bottle of Arbonne face wash or moisturizer will last you up to a year if not longer because all Arbonne products only require a small amount and spread incredibly well!
  2. Because you aren’t trying product after product and spending dollars every month on the most colourfully marketed hair or skin care product, you are actually saving! If you aren’t satisfied with the product, send it back, no strings attached and your money back!
  3. If you order through me, I give a first order discount of 20 % plus you save on shipping if you take advantage of a group order.



Arbonne, toxic free, safe for babyArbonne, healthy hair, toxin-free, green, lush locksanti-aging, effective, collagen tightening, toxin-free, Arbonne



Order today through http://www.Arbonne.ca and enter my referral code 116501659 or send me an email at virginiaannebowen@gmail.com if you live on the coast and as I am putting together a group order!

Read more on David Suzuki’s Dirty Dozen cosmetic chemicals to avoid.




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When Daddy is there

Fathers, I can’t help but feel you don’t get as much due praise and encouragement as you deserve. Mothers are celebrated in their roles every day of the year for sacrificing sleep and the struggles they endure with childbirth, breastfeeding, nourishing, teaching, loving and more for their children.

What about dads?

Maybe they don’t yearn for affirmation the same way we women do, but nonetheless, their role is every bit as important and crucial in the raising of future generations.

I think of the ways my husband has not only been an amazing father to our boys, but how he has helped me be a better mother. When fathers participate, children thrive.

  • When I need extra sleep because I was up half of the night with the boys, Jesse lets me sleep in ’til he leaves for work.
  • When our two-year old challenges me and I cave under his mind crushing powers of persuasion, Jesse stands firm and doesn’t allow the toddler to rule the roost.
  • When he shows our boys how to love and be patient in the way he cares for me – an invaluable quality that will be forever imprinted on their hearts and minds.
  • When he demonstrates stability and safety in our family – mommy and daddy will disagree quite loudly and scowl at each other for a while, but daddy will always stay and work things out until peace is restored.
  • When he makes time for them and gets down and plays farm, he’s telling them he cares about what they are interested in. I see a payoff with this hopefully about 11 or so years down the road.
  • When he reads to them, he stimulates their desire to learn.
  • When he prays for them, he shows them humility and reliance on the Creator who is the giver of all good things.
  • When he listens to them, they feel respected and will give respect in return (it’s a work in progress;-).

I am so thankful this Father’s Day for my children’s father and also for my own dad who took the time to listen to me and teach me what he understood of life many an evening sitting out on the porch after dinner. My dad displayed qualities I admire and that I see mirrored in my husband. My dad’s impact is far reaching because he showed me what a good father is. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I believe something inside me recognized those same qualities in Jesse.

My dad showed me integrity and putting forth my best effort. He kept things light-hearted because he knew too well how life could crush your spirit otherwise. He worked hard and rarely took sick days – a quality that I value and aspire to with every job I have had. He showed me appreciation and love for music and the arts. He inspired me to look further than my school textbooks and introduced me to genius of Nikola Tesla, long before Tesla Motors came out.

My boys and yours are the future fathers of our world – never underestimate your value and impact in their lives!

father's day, love boys, good dad, teaching, nurturing, caring




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Photo stories

Some months are crazier than others. Sometimes, you don’t even know how or why they flew by. It was one of those for us these past few weeks. The weather has been fabulous and had us spending our days outside. My boys managed to still contract a cold that had them snotty and coughing in the night for a week; Oliver turned a year old and my husband turned 30 this past weekend. But I’ll let the pictures do the talking now. Enjoy!

peace, inspiration, eat well, live well, love life, live responsibly, good stewards

baby and me, nursing, bliss, rest

one month old boy, monkey shotbaby is one, monkey shot

One month old Oliver on the left and one year old beside.

20140530_151726 (600x800)

smitty's, after work eats, the view

I also started working at a restaurant down on the water. What makes this view better is that I sat and ate my meal uninterrupted. 😀

beets, carrots, cucumber, apple, lemon

We are still keeping up much of our vegan ways and I am even more inspired than ever because of a new cookbook given to us by a family friend. If you haven’t heard of or seen a copy of Oh She Glows, be sure to check it out! I have only had it not two full days and already tried four of the scrumptious recipes for vegan eating including a noodle salad with peanut sauce to die for, a vegan treat-za pizza (DQ fans anyone?) and this beet, carrot, cucumber, apple and lemon smoothie!




A month as a vegan

It’s time to break down how going vegan for a month went!

Was it hard to give up meat?

No, it really wasn’t but I have never been a huge carnivore anyways. Besides, there are so many great alternatives by which you can get more than enough protein. Lentils, chickpeas and beans have become staples in my house now.

Was it hard to give up dairy?

It was a bit trickier than going without meat but after the first week, I didn’t really notice much until I was out in the city for a day. More to come on that below.

What was the most valuable thing I learned?

Awareness – firstly, it turns out there is an unwarranted amount of emphasis on the body’s need for protein. Check out this article. All of your body’s demands are easily met by incorporating foods such as lentils, beans and quinoa into your diet. I actually gained a pound during this month! The other valuable thing I have taken from this “crash” diet so to speak, is how enriched my diet has become because I was became more conscious of what I was/am consuming. It has opened up a whole new world of cooking and using ingredients I hardly used before. I have always equated milk and butter with deliciousness that cannot be had in their absence. I was wrong. I made the most delicious vegan Black Bean Brownies I have ever had! I have made enchiladas, pancakes, creamy pasta, chickpea burgers, coconut curry and more!

vegan meal, delicious, protein in every bite

What was the most challenging part of eating vegan?

Being out. I live a ferry ride away from Vancouver and there were a couple occasions in that month when I was over there for the day or longer running errands and what not. Never have I been so inadvertently  aware of how our restaurant industry relies heavily on meat and dairy. Even many veggie burgers come with mayonnaise and cheese. Choices become limited to salads which just don’t cut it.

restaurant menu, meat diary extravaganza, little vegetarian, no vegan

Courtesy of loonspub.com

Did I cheat?

One word, bread. I used to make my own with my bread maker until I lost the paddle. I didn’t just want to get whatever naan or flat bread was available since a lot of times, it’s mainly just water and flour. So there was my cheat. To go all out vegan is a learned skill I think. Doesn’t help that I have two often picky eaters. I am happy to get them eat anything besides yogurt and fruit (we decided not to enforce a strictly vegan diet, you parents who have picky eaters can understand this!).

So now the question is….am I vegan?

I haven’t actually bought meat yet. I have had some dairy but each time I have, either my stomach has protested or my skin has broken out in itchy, stinging patches. I plan to continue to avoid it. As for meat, as I said, we haven’t bought any yet but we are not opposed to indulging all together. We came to this conclusion about our “vegan-ness” – we aren’t making a religion out of it where we have to pay penance if we consume anything non-vegan. It’s more about having far less meat and dairy than we used to and considering where it comes from when we do buy it. A big part of this experiment for us was the ethical treatment of animals in the food production industry not to mention the environmental impact. One thing we currently do is only buy our eggs from some happy hens coop down the road. They taste delicious!

I guess you could say we model a vegan diet.

Going vegan for a month was a super educational and all around great experience. I  highly recommend it! To learn a bit more on why going vegan is not such an odd idea, click here to read my informative post.

peace, inspiration, eat well, live well, love life, live responsibly, good stewards