when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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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Boating and a hot night in a tent

I asked my husband a question today.

“Is this experience worth the misery that goes with it?”

I was referring to our previous night spent in a tent at Jesse’s parent’s property. It was the first time camping with both boys and in the same tent! Getting them down went fairly well but when Jesse and I came to bed towards 11 p.m., Shae had woken,. The next two hours were spent trying to figure out where and with whom he would be most comfortable amidst the warm, muggy summer night air. It’s funny how long you can let yourself be kicked, rolled on and climbed over in the hopes that the toddler will just give up and fall asleep. I must have almost dozed off five or six times only to be abruptly pulled from bliss to the sound of Shae letting out a frustrated cry, waking Oliver yet again. When he did finally pass out at 1 a.m., it was time for the ever evading mosquito to taunt me as sleep beckoned. I gave up after half an hour of trying to locate the bugger with my flashlight. During the next three and half hours, I woke up twice on account of Oliver and the damn mosquito. By 5 a.m., Oliver was done with his night sleep and I had accumulated about 10 itchy bites.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law took Oliver off my hands so that I could go back to bed for a couple hours. The rest of the day was amazing. We sat around enjoying a prolonged breakfast of berries, yogurt and granola, coffee and good conversation with my in-laws and their friends who had also spent the night. Then we all got in the boat and puttered in and out of bays, enjoying the beauty of the cost, ciders in hand. The heat was pretty fierce, even on the water and my poor Oliver was not fairing so well and would not settle for a nap the entire afternoon until we went back home in our truck.

All that to say, “Is this experience worth the misery that goes with it?”

I mean it’s either we stay home and miss out on time with family and the kids get their naps and uninterrupted night sleep or…

The kids loose some sleep, have a pretty wild adventure (exploring the boat, walking along beaches, searching for starfish, getting off the boat to get ice cream and fish and chips, getting thrown into the water…) crash on the way home.

We concluded, yes, it is.

coast, boating, serious sailor, summer

Shae didn’t remember his first boating experience when he was only seven months old and took this first ride very seriously.

hot baby, watermelon, boating, summer

Keeping hydrated and cool.

summer, hot, ice cream, messy face, cute boy

Another way of keeping cool.



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


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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.

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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!




Oliver Wesley’s birth story

Oliver, you were born  into the brightness of morning. Looking out the window as I arrived at St. Mary’s hospital that May 29th, 2013 morning, I reflected on how different this delivery was already gearing up to be than my labour with your brother. In a sentence, it was smooth sailing.

It was just your dad and I – my labour with you progressed quite calmly (as calmly as labour can be anyway!). I had Braxton Hicks contractions the whole day before and was quite certain you were going to arrive very soon. I texted my good friend Amanda, who was my doula for Shae, and asked her what she thought. She was confident that “real” labour would commence probably in the early morning. And just after 2 a.m., I had a strong contraction that woke me up.  I lay there trying to fall back to sleep for half an hour but it wasn’t going to happen. I got out of bed and eased myself onto the couch and Googled labour and when it’s a good idea to get oneself to the hospital! I remember reading a bit about if you can still talk through your contractions, you can probably stay at home still. So I sat there and talked to myself through a few contractions.

“I can still talk through this, yeah, it’s pretty strong but I can still talk…oooo….that was a bit stronger than before.” I giggled a little at how silly I must have looked.

The contractions continued at around five minutes apart and about a minute long and were growing in intensity although they were still quite manageable. I decided to have a shower. I was not going to the hospital with greasy hair this time, that was for sure. That was the first shower I’ve ever taken at 3 a.m., Oliver.:-)

After my shower, I crawled back into bed with your Dad who awoke. We lay there for the next two hours deliberating over when we should call my doula, Brit, and our friends, Julie and Bryon, who would be looking after your older brother. We agreed around 5 a.m. based on the progress on my labour.

By the time Julie arrived, I was not talking so well through those contractions anymore if at all. Julie was excited as was I and while your dad took our dog to a friends house to be looked after, Julie prayed for me and you and the delivery. I felt peaceful and confident as Jesse and I drove 25 minutes to the hospital in Sechelt.

Arriving there, we walked ourselves straight up to the maternity ward and the night nurse greeted us warmly and led us into the spacious room where you would be born. Through the huge windows that overlooked the Extra Foods grocery store and other shopping venues, I could also see the ocean and lush coast line. This was so different than Richmond. What’s more is I was the only woman in labour of the two other women in the maternity ward so I had both nurses to myself.:-)

Dr. Bryson arrived shortly after us, around 6 a.m., and together, we awaited your arrival. That was it. No drama, no fuss, no worry, just a mama doing what her body was designed to do and lovely nurses telling her she could yell as loud as she liked because there was really no one around anyway. Funny though, I didn’t holler nearly as bad as I did the first time. But as with my labour with your brother, I got to thinking that epidural sounded mighty nice and like last time, it was just too late to get it because guess what, I was already fully dilated by the time we got to the hospital! I whimpered between contractions because I knew that even though they were hurting bad now, they were about to get a whole lot worse! In a comedic moment that I wasn’t actually able to laugh at because of the contraction I was experiencing, I looked over at your dad who was steadily gazing into my eyes with a gaping mouth and a bobbing head. I realized that he was trying to remind me to keep loose hands and a open mouth (something Amanda had told us was important during labour). I wish I could have snapped a shot of your funny dad, Oliver.

And then, I felt your head crowning and in about 20 minutes, I felt that head swoosh out of me as I hung off the back of the upright bed on my knees. I heard your cry and breathed in sweet relief. It was 8:09 am. It was done and I was no longer pregnant! And there you were, blonde fuzzy hair and what’s down there? …..Balls! We had another boy and within a couple hours, we decided that you were Oliver Wesley Bowen – 6 lbs, 6 oz. and 21 inches of beautiful baby with enormous nostrils and a sweet, heart shaped face. We love you so much!

birth day, 6 b 6 oz big nostrils


The mommy guilt

There is a strong theme of illogical behaviour on the part of us moms throughout our mothering days. We worry even though we all know worrying doesn’t change anything; we repeat phrases that we know they will be ignored, [some of us] tidy up the toys mid-day just because it bugs the heck out of us to see them scattered all over the floor!

And on top of that, many of us are plagued with mommy guilt.

Mommy guilt: the state in which a mother feels bad for her child’s suffering be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Often occurs even when the circumstances are not within the mother’s control.

I have got to come to terms with the fact that I am and never will be a perfect parent. No duh, I know. But from the way I let myself be riddled with guilty emotions, it would seem that nothing short of perfect is good enough for me as a parent. I can’t help but feel it’s partly my fault that my toddler is acting out because he isn’t getting enough sleep (though I diligently get a nap in for him each day, even though that means putting him in the stroller or going for a walk). My husband and I have been implementing a new bedtime strategy and response to his protests and early (5 am) wake-ups.  I avoid making dinner plans with friends because that means he won’t get to bed til later, resulting in an overtired kid and and immensely cantankerous one the following day if not two! I try my best to have our dinner on the table by 5:30 p.m. so that we can start bedtime immediately after since he protests for a minimum of 30-45 minutes. And still, life happens. Friends visit and stay the night, weekends with family away from home are enjoyed with the days following spent trying to get “back on track” with the toddler with fights authority on every level and most of all with sleep.

I don’t know if the shadowed rings under my son’s eyes are hereditary or caused by lack of sleep. I feel responsible though, even though I try my best every day and night to help him get enough sleep and to eat his vegetables.

I am sure I will look back on this time in years to come and realize that ultimately, he was happy and healthy and he lived through it. But honestly, I could cry from frustration, feeling that I just can’t seem to do right by him in this area. I hear past comments of friends and family repeat like a broken record in my brain. “Car naps just aren’t the same,” “Children shouldn’t have dark circles under their eyes” “He’s fine (this when insisting we need to leave from whatever engagement we are at to get him home to bed a good time).”

I know I can’t stop living, although honestly, if it were just me, I probably would become somewhat of a hermit, imprisoned by my children’s needs. Ridiculous, I know. But oftentimes, I would rather just stay home than go out to a friend’s place for dinner because I don’t want to deal with the screaming, irrational and tired toddler the next day when the entertainment is gone and his fatigue catches up with him.

I have mommy guilt.

I don’t need to be told “it’s fine; he won’t remember any of this.” I need to know that I am doing a good job even when the day is one screaming fit to another.

I need to know I’m not alone and there are other moms who feel this way.

Most of all, I need to somehow accept life as it happens even when it hinders my stubborn toddler from getting the rest he needs.

sleeping toddler, car naps

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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!


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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!


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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!


Toddler says NO!

I remember back when Shae was a newborn, someone telling me that it (being a parent) was easy right now and that it got harder the older they got. “Um, what part about getting more sleep is harder?” was all I could think.

I was right about that part, sleeping is better than in the early days with Shae.

But he’s two now. He’s stubborn. He wants things a certain way and he wants them five minutes ago already! And as for sleep, yeah he sleeps, only takes like an hour to get him to surrender to drowsy eyelids.

And then there’s the whole bit about molding and shaping this spirited toddler, guiding him, teaching him, disciplining him…

Shae loves his brother, he’s very inclusive with him, protective and also likes to treat him like a pillow which he hurls himself on top of. Over and over, we tell him, “Shae, that hurts your brother; that is not kind; no push; gentle; say sorry, Oliver.” There’s just never any sign of acknowledgement from him that he understands he did something wrong – other than avoiding eye contact and refusing to apologize. The same goes for when he throws a fit because we won’t give him something he wants. Wailing, flailing, flat on the floor toddler commences.

How much can we do to show him how to treat his brother better and to place repercussions from bad behaviour that will make sense for his two-year-old brain? At this point, time outs don’t seem to be doing much except delay everything else in our day as we go back and forth to and from his room. Removing him from a situation seems to be the most effective but doesn’t prevent a future incident.

Is it just a matter of time? Are there more effective ways of communicating with a toddler? What do you do???