Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Graham Oliver McDowell
October 5, 2014
7 lbs. 14 oz. // 20 inches
I have so much I want to say... but for this morning I'll leave it at this. Graham is a dream baby. Owen loves him like crazy. Scott and I are over the moon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Every where I go people ask me variations of the same question.

Does Owen know the baby is coming?

How do you think he'll react?

Do you think he'll be jealous?

Every where I go, I give people variations of completely different answers. If I am feeling honest but optimistic, I will tell them that Owen frequently rocks his stuffed doggie and sings "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to help him "feel better" and practice for baby brother. Or I will tell them how Owen hugs my belly in the morning and says "Good Morning Baby!" or how he is always telling me how he is going to "touch baby's toes."

If I am feeling honest but realistic, I will tell them that there is nothing he loves more than undivided attention from Mommy and Daddy at the same time. Every time we leave the house he makes sure that both Scott and I are heading to the garage. If one of us is lagging behind to turn off lights or stuff last minute snacks in my purse he will stop walking and say "come Mommy" or "come Daddy" and only resume walking when he is certain we're all headed in the same place. When he goes to nursery at church on Sunday, he has to hold both of our hands as we walk. If one of us is on the computer instead of playing with him, he's been known to slam the computer shut and force us to pay attention.

So basically, yeah, he'll probably be a little jealous.

If I am feeling honest but discouraged, I will tell them how Owen bit a kid at church a few weeks ago and made him bleed. I'll probably roll my eyes and laugh it off so I don't start crying at the thought.

And if I am feeling nothing but truthful... I will tell them that I don't know.

I don't know how he'll react. I honestly have no idea. I don't know if he'll be excited to hold the baby when they first meet (hopefully) or if he'll pinch his toes and then poke his eye out (probably). I don't know if he'll want his baby brother to play and try to throw a ball at him the first day we get home.

Scratch that.

I know my Owen, and I do know he will definitely throw a ball "to" his brother within the first 24 hours. It's basically the only thing I'm certain of.

I also know what I hope for.

I hope they will become best little buddies, partners in crime, mischief makers, and lifelong best friends who warm my heart and make me worry for their safety and my sanity all at the same time.

That's what brothers are for, right?

Well, that and throwing balls at each other.

So, Owen is almost a big brother. I am so excited for him. And for me. And for Scott. It's an exciting time to be a McDowell.

That being said, I am feeling slightly misty eyed because the days of just Owen and Me are very literally numbered. I know only good things will come from here but these last 2 years have been the best I could have ever hoped for.

Thanks for being my best little friend, baby Oh-Nah! I couldn't love you any more.

P.S. Owen took one look at this picture and after saying
"Mommy!" and "Oh-Nah!" he said "Picture Daddy?"
Like I said, there is nothing he loves more than
all of us together, one happy family. 

Monday, September 22, 2014


- Sometimes, when I get too tired to function, Owen and I go into his room and shut the door. I lay down on his bed and close my eyes while he destroys everything around us. I feel ok about it because it's the one room in the house free of poison and sharp objects.

- Life has been... stressful lately. I don't know if it's the pregnancy, or the fact that Owen has entered the terrible twos full force, or the fact that Scott is working 12 hours days, or the fact that we are currently trying to sell our house, or all of the above, but the days are long and difficult and every day just keeps getting harder.

- Last week I promised Owen that if he was good at WalMart I would take him to the splash pad. He was, so I did. We got there, swimsuits in hand, only to discover that the splash pad was closed for a season. (Owen was understandably disappointed but it was nothing a trip to the puppy store couldn't fix.) I took this as a sign that Fall has officially started. We came home, lit a Hot Apple Cider candle, cranked up the A/C, baked a batch of Pumpkin Spice Cookies, and pretended like it wasn't still 100+ degrees outside.

- I have conflicting feelings about when I want this baby to come. On one hand, I would love nothing more than to end this pregnancy as soon as possible. One the other hand, there are still things on my to do list that need completed. On the third hand, I've always wanted an October baby and I would love to be able to hold out until next month. On a fourth hand (this is getting weird), for work/vacation/paternity leave reasons Scott not-so-secretly hopes that I am a week late. Fortunately, I know it doesn't matter what we want because babies come when they want to come. And since Owen was 6 days late, I am trying to prepare myself to go past my due date this time, as well.

- I packed my hospital bag a few days ago, right at 38 weeks, just like last time. There is something about that two week mark that sets off alarms in my brain. Oddly enough, packing my bag was even more surreal this time than the last. It is so hard for me to imagine having another baby. Scott and I already had a baby... and that baby is Owen. It's weird to think about how we can have another boy that does not look and act exactly like Owen.

And now, a blurry picture I snapped before church on Sunday, in all my 38 week glory.

That's all folks. Thanks for checking in.

Monday, September 8, 2014


On the first of this year I sat down and made a list of New Year's Resolutions. It had 7 goals on it, including (1) Get Pregnant (2)Walk 5x a day (3)Give my novel to people to read and (4) Read 20 books. How am I doing, you ask? I'll gladly tell you.

To my complete surprise, I got pregnant within days of writing that goal on paper. I haven't religiously exercised 5 times a week every single week this year but I have done well., so I'm calling that one a success. I haven't let a soul read one word of my novel, so that one is very much a failure. (In fact, the more time that passes the more I hate my novel and want to change every word. That's normal, right?)

All is not lost on the literary front, however. Yesterday I finished reading my 32nd book. So while I may not be making a lot of progress on the novel writing front, I'm a least doing a lot of research ;)

And since today is the rainiest day in the history of Phoenix (true story!) and Owen and I are more or less trapped inside our house for the morning, I figured now is as good a time as any to make some book recommendations. If you like YA fiction, this list is for you. If not, you may as well move along.

On Writing, Stephen King. Not a YA book, obviously. This was a Christmas present from my sister and I read it right as I was coming down from my post-novel writing high. It was part memoir, part writing instruction, and entirely fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming a writer.

Allegiant, Veronica Roth. I probably don't need to say much about this. If you want to read it, you've probably already read it. Once you've invested your time in the first two books in the Divergent Trilogy, you have to read the last one. But my goodness. I thought it was dreadful for so many reasons, including the plot. It was so bad. My main problem with the book, however, was Roth's decision to write it from two different perspectives because both narrators had the exact same voice.

The Beginning of Everything, Robyn Schneider. A classic coming-of age story that begins after Ezra, a token High School Golden Boy crushes his leg in a car accident and loses everything, including his girlfriend. Before long, however, he falls for an unpredictable new girl who turns his life upside down. It reminded me of a John Green book, but not as good.

Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi. Another YA dystopian trilogy with some romance mixed in. I remember loving these books as I read them. I loved them enough to recommend them to several family members and friends. It's been several months since I read them, however, and interestingly enough, I can hardly remember what they were about. So if you are a fan of The Hunger Games and are looking for an enjoyable and quick read, give these a try but don't expect them to leave a lasting impression.

All Souls trilogy, Deborah Harkness. This was described to me as an "Adult Twilight," which is totally fair. It's hard to escape the comparison when a controlling vampire falls in love with a human, although this human is technically a witch and can totally hold her own. If you like supernatural books, however, don't let the comparison scare you off. These books are rich with historical detail, backstory, character development, and an exciting plot. (Or the first two are, at any rate. I found the third book overly long and hard to get through. That being said, it didn't disappoint me the same way Allegiant did.)

One day early this summer I went to the library and checked out a handful of books by Sarah Dessen. She's a big name in the YA world and I hadn't read anything of hers before this year. She's published almost a dozen novels and they are constantly gracing YA "Best Of" lists. She's also unique by today's standards because all of her books stand alone. In this era of series and trilogies, that's an impressive feat. Anyway, I read Along for the RideThat Summer, The Truth About Forever, Lock and Key, The Moon and More, and This Lullaby.

Once I'd read a few of her novels, they all started to blend together. The majority of them take place in small costal towns during the summer. They always have a teenage, female narrator who is juggling family problems, a summer job, and a maybe-relationship with a new boy. They are light and fluffy but they do deal with teenage issues and I can understand why they resonate so well with the YA crowd. If you are interested in reading one or two, The Truth About Forever was my favorite, followed either by Lock and Key or This Lullaby. Feel free to skip The Moon and More. That was a chore to get through.

The Selection Series, Kiera Cass. These books were described to me as Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, which is spot on. It's a dystopian trilogy about a teenage girl who gets selected to compete for the privilege of marrying a prince. It's completely silly but a lot of fun. The books only take a day or so to read and are worth the time spent. These books won't change your life, but they will make you smile.

Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones. I discovered this book from NPR's List of 100 Best Ever YA Novels. It's about a witch named Sophie and takes place in a fantasy world where enchanted hats, fire demons, and traveling castles are the norm. It had a lot of potential but I don't think it lived up to that potential. Skip it. If you are looking for a fantasy book about witches and wizards, you can find better.

Blackmoore and Edenbrooke, Julianne Donaldson. These Regency era books were written by an LDS woman and are billed as "Proper Romances," which is another way of saying "G Rated" which is another way of saying "YA." They were an absolute delight from start to finish. I read Blackmoore first, loved it, and quickly read Edenbrooke, which I loved even more. If you are a Jane Austen fan (I am!) don't skip these. They combine classic romance and wit with a faster-paced story than Austen's novels.

Longing for Home and Hope Springs, Sarah M. Eden. I picked these up because they are also billed as "Proper Romances" and were written by an LDS woman. They tell the story of Katie, a woman who is haunted by a past she left in Ireland after the Great Famine. She feels responsible for the death of her sister and the downfall of her family when she travels to America to make a living. After years of moving from city to city, she ends up in a racially divided town in Wyoming. She soon finds herself at the center of a town feud and a confusing love triangle.

If that sounds a little boring to you, skip these books. They are a little boring. If it sounds interesting, however, there are worse ways you could spend a couple of days.

The Birth Order Book, Dr. Kevin Leman. (One of these things is not like the other.) In the interest of complete honesty, I did not read this cover to cover. I did read enough, however, to gather the basic idea that people develop personality traits, choose careers, and mesh with other people because of their birth order in their family. The book contains interesting information (presented in a semi-boring way) that allowed me to play psychologist with my family for a weekend. If you are into stuff like this, check it out.

An Abundance of Katherines, John Green. Last year I read two books by John Green, both of which I liked better than this one. That's not to say I didn't like this, however, or that it's not worth reading. John Green is an expert at creating compelling characters, even if you don't always like them. This short novel is about a former child-prodigy named Colin who is reeling after his latest breakup. What makes his circumstances extraordinary, however, is the fact that this is the nineteenth time he has been dumped by a girl named Katherine. He tries to run from his pain by taking a road trip with his best friend Hassan (my favorite character in the book) and ends up in a tiny town in Tennessee where he learns about life and love and relationships and everything else I have come to expect from a coming-of-age novel. If you like John Green, you'll like this one too.

If you're counting, this doesn't equal 32 books. But I think this post is already overly long and, honestly, some of the books aren't even worth mentioning. So there you have it. And, as always, I welcome your suggestions. Read anything good lately?

Friday, September 5, 2014


It's 8:15 in the morning. So far today, I:

*Ate breakfast
*Cleaned the house
*Washed a load of laundry
*Put dinner in the crockpot
*Walked around the neighborhood with Owen
*Showered and got dressed for the day

In other words, Owen really needs to stop waking up before 5 am. Missing that last hour of sleep is hard on my 9 month pregnant body and it's hard on Scott, who had to leave for work at 7 am.

On the one hand, we have exactly 4 weeks left to break Owen of this bad habit before another little guy comes to town and messes up our sleeping schedules even more. On the other hand, I sort of expect any and all family schedule to fall apart once the baby is born. With Scott on paternity leave, I would not be surprised if we fall into the same habits we had in the weeks following Owen's birth, including long family naps in the middle of the afternoon and midnight walks around the neighborhood. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely looking forward to it.

I am 36 weeks today. The cruel irony of being 36 weeks pregnant is that while I probably won't have this baby for 4-5 more weeks... I could technically have a healthy baby at any time. So I have to fight the urge to install the car seat and set up the pack n' play and pack a hospital bag just in case and replace it with more realistic expectations.

I also have to start making plans for this month. Nothing makes time stop like an empty calendar, an active 2-year-old, and 100+ degree temperatures outside. This summer was long. And hard. And more than a little bit lonely. And since it's still hotter than hades outside, I have to think of ways to keep Owen and myself busy. We'll probably start with a batch of oatmeal cookies this afternoon because it's Friday and I'm 9 months pregnant and those reasons are as good as any I'm likely to find, I expect.

I'll probably check in again next week, maybe with a bump picture. Aren't you lucky!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


*Summer needs to end ASAP because I am too fat to bend over and shave my legs. Also, because of the heat.

*My stomach has officially shrunk. I eat a regular amount of food and then feel sickeningly full for the next 2 hours. I then feel normal for all of 5 minutes before I am starving again.

*I get so tired so quickly. This morning I took a shower, got dressed, and put clothes on Owen. Just doing that, and nothing else, left me out of breath and in need of a nap. It was 9:30 in the morning.

*I unpacked the box Owen's old 0-3 month clothes yesterday and folded them neatly into dresser drawers for baby brother, as we've taken to calling him around here. Scott and I squealed over their tininess and their memories while Owen charged around the room yelling "Mine! Mine!" and trying to stretch them over his body. I told him they belonged to baby brother and he was not having any of it. We're still working on sharing over here.

*Because I am having my second boy, I don't really need any new baby clothes. But I sort of do. You know how it goes. A couple of pairs of pants, because new baby is due in October and my August baby had zero pairs of newborn pants. Two new long sleeved onesies, for the same reason. And a new going home outfit, because how could I not?!

*I have tried to be really careful about what am eating and weight gain in general this pregnancy. With Owen, I gained more than 40 pounds (I'm not sure how much more because my scale blessedly ran out of batteries those last few weeks). That being said, I'm still gaining plenty of weight and at this rate I should top out at about 35 pounds, which is the upper limit for what a healthy woman my age "should" gain and was my goal all along. Part of me knows that I should continue to be careful for the next 5 weeks because I am so close to my due date and achieving my goal. The other part of me, however, is so tired of caring. Just give me all the ice cream, please.

*This is not what I look like right now. This is what I looked like at 30 weeks, when the picture was taken. But it's the most recent bump selfie I've got, so it's all you get today, internet. I'd take one now, but I'm not wearing any pants. See also: lazy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


On Friday, August 15, 2014, Owen turned 2 years old. While he was finishing his breakfast Scott and I climbed onto the countertop to hang the traditional Happy Birthday banner. As soon as Owen finished the last of his cereal, he hopped down from the table, scrambled up the couch, and climbed onto the countertop just like Mama and Dada. All while my back was turned. My first instinct was to remind him that he is not allowed to stand up there. He could fall and get hurt, after all. I opened my mouth to order him to come down immediately and found myself saying "Stay Right There!" instead. I ran and got my camera and took this wonderful shot. It perfectly sums up my 2-year-old little boy without any words at all. Of course, this is me, so I'll add some words anyway. It's what I do.

Owen at 2 is the happiest, stubbornest, naked-est little mischief maker I know.

I once had a friend tell me that whenever her girls fall asleep, she sees them as newborns again. I get it. I totally do. It happens to me, too. But sometimes when I look at Owen and see those unruly curls sticking out from underneath a baseball cap, pumping his arms as he runs wildly through the house, I get this feeling. It's a feeling that tells me I'll always see him this way. On his first day of Kindergarten, the first time he drives a car, his high school graduation, on his wedding day, I will always see a happy, smart, wild, sensitive little 2 year old.

And now, a few facts about Owen at age 2. He can count to 10, knows all his letters, is potty trained (95% of the time), sings along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Take Me Out To The Ball Game, reads along to several of his favorite books, loves looking at pictures of "Mommy, Daddy, Oh-nah!", calls himself Oh-nah, likes to talk about baby brother, says his own prayers every night before bed, has traded the word "No!" for the cuter/more frustrating phrase, "Um.... Nope!", loves hot wheels cars and playing "Bat the Ball," gives the best hugs and kisses (especially when someone gets hurt), is covered in trademark little boy bruises, and can spot a garbage truck, cement truck, or construction vehicle from a mile away.

Goodness, do Scott and I love that little boy.

 ^^NOT a birthday shot, but it just makes me laugh. The shirt and the undies were my doing, but the hat and suspenders were ALL him.
 ^^A week before Owen's birthday I threw him a little swim party with his friends, complete with garbage-truck-shaped sugar cookies.
 ^^Bounce U on his birthday, doing what he does best.

 ^^Choo-Choo trains!
 ^^Hard to tell if Owen or Scott was more excited about the mini-glove.
 ^^Impatiently waiting for birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, Buddy. We love you.