Sunday, December 30, 2012

Taking Care in the New Year: Interview with Dr. Stephen Hill


Many of us have new year's resolutions that involve taking better care of our bodies. Eating healthier, achieving fitness goals, trimming down, getting more sleep (ha!), stretching, I'm sure you can think of a few others...

Whether or not you are a fan of New Year's Resolutions, perhaps we moms (and dads) could consider new ways of resolving to take care of our baby's bodies as well. After all, they can't make their own resolutions or form their own health habits just yet!

The Importance of Alignment
In an interview with Dr. Stephen B. Hill, a close personal friend and chiropractic gentle giant, I learned a couple of things that I can do for Penny's little thirteen pound body before she is old enough to take care of it herself, and about what chiropractic care can do for infants.

I hope you will read the full interview here.

But if you only have a minute, here are some key takeaways:

  • Birth can be one of the most physically traumatic experiences in an average human's lifetime, and can injure tiny muscles ligaments, nerves and other soft tissues in the baby's tiny structure.   Babies might "communicate" their discomfort from these injuries by exhibiting bouts of colic or reflux, or favoring one side while nursing, and other ways.
  • Chiropractic can help little ones with things beyond just structural discomfort.  Because of the way the body works, a simple adjustment might help with swallowing, speech function, hearth rhythm or gastrointestinal function.
  • Adjusting a baby is less forceful than adjusting an adult.  You can bring a brand new newborn for chiropractic evaluation and adjustment.  (I did!)
  • Mom and Dad can do many things at home to promote infant's healthy alignment and structural integrity, such as:
    • Tummy Time
    • Passive Movement
    • Infant Massage
    • Watching / Paying attention to patterns in their movements.
  • Chiropractic can absolutely help pregnant women at all phases of pregnancy.

Kids' Day Promo for Grown-Ups

In the Phoenix area?  Hill Chiropractic does a wonderful thing on the second Wednesday of every month called "Kids' Day"

All children aged 12-and-under are evaluated and adjusted for free.  Yes, free.

When you call to make your Kids' Day appointment in January or February, mention that you heard about Kids' Day from the Becoming Julie Griffin blog post, and Dr. Hill will evaluate and adjust you (one adult) for a discounted rate of $40 when you bring in your child(ren) in January 9th or February 13th.   

Pregnant?  You get the discounted rate too... after all, you ARE bringing your baby in with you!

Visit Hill Chiropractic on the web for contact information and location, and call to make your appointment(s).

Friday, December 21, 2012

No Letter This Year, How About A Poem?

Instead of mailing a Christmas Card Letter,
We thought saving paper might actually be better.
And with intentions of spreading some world wide web cheer
We've pointed friends and family to the blog this year!

Now I’ll begin, as most holiday letters do
With a brief synopsis of everything new:

The start of the year, a quite popular post
Announced I was pregnant, quite reason for a toast.

Just as we wanted, quickly our family grew,
And soon thereafter, two dogs joined our crew.

Dan loves the new job that he started in spring,
And we continued to coach volleyball, a favorite thing.

I went part-time at work to make more time for rest,
And also began nesting, as you may have guessed.

Painting projects ensued, in and outside.
Daniel tackled the nursery, surprising his bride.

My appetite grew along with my belly,
Any cravings? You ask… mostly peanut butter and jelly.

After our home filled with gear and onesies and toys,
This summer we welcomed our bundle of joy.

A tiny girl named Penelope Jane, you probably heard.
The delight that she brings us, I can’t put to words.

Day by day since then we’ve been figuring it out.
Being brand new parents is a challenge, no doubt.

The support we’ve had from so many we love
Is just one of many blessings we count from Above.

Now life goes on with the munchkin in tow
And it’s true what they say, how fast babies grow!

I write when I can to share thoughts and our story:
Life and Marriage and Parenting in all of its glory.

The Griffin Family, yes even Luna and Apollo,
Has pointed you here with hopes you will "follow"

To read of our tales and keep in touch, 
as hearing from all of you always means so much.

And on this, our second Christmas of marriage we spend,
Love, Joy, Peace and Prayers we send.

Blessings this Christmas,
Dan and Julie Griffin

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Desperate Cuddles and Spatial Awareness

Yesterday I worked in the office at home like I always do on Mondays while Penny takes her naps.  Ahhhh, finally something can have my undivided attention, even if just for an hour or two at a time (or less).

When my time there becomes short, usually the monitor rustles with grunts and stirs before I hear any real noises.  Sometimes at this time, if I think baby should sleep longer, I sneak into our room and put the pacifier back in her mouth.  Like magic;  there, I can send one more email or at least finish what I was doing.   

But this particular time yesterday morning, there echoed no rustling to warn me of her gradual awakening.

She uttered a new cry and it was serious. 

I scurried across the house.  Had she been stung by a scorpion? (having been stung twice myself in my own home, this is my nightmare)  Was she suddenly sick with her first cold?  Did she, ummm, bite herself?  I couldn't think of much else that might have warranted this new sound that came from our cheap baby monitor.

But she was fine.  Pretty stoked to see me, actually.

She had woken up, realized she was alone, and panicked.  This new cry was not the instinctive I need something and I need it now scream of a young infant, but a deliberate desperate attempt at early speech, as if she was trying to say "Mommy, where are you? I'm all alone, where are you?"

A New Awareness

I haven't done any research to substantiate this, but I'm guessing this is about the age where babies start to develop spatial awareness and emotional attachment to their care givers.  It was clear today when I peered into her porta-crib that Penny just wanted me.  She wanted to cuddle and go back to sleep and that was it.  And the pout turned grin on her face was certainly enough to make me completely forget about what I had been doing before.

Newborns sleep on their mothers out of survival instinct, they don't purposefully "cuddle".  But I think (maybe I am delusional?) that Penny now consciously prefers cuddling.  And I know she can't be cuddled through every nap forever, but I absolutely relish the moments when she wants to sleep with me.

Over Analyzing

Her new cry has a sadness, a whimper to it, which somehow augments my overwhelming guilt complex about leaving her three days a week to go to work.  It pains me.  [I know I know, I've heard all the affirmations of moms who work outside the home... please save it.]  

Or could it be that we, and her two grandmothers (who I know are "guilty" of rocking her through an entire nap on a semi-regular basis) have been spoiling her with too much cuddle time?


Maybe she was just cold.  I mean, it is like, really cold now that it's winter here in the Phoenix area...

The verdict?  I'm just going to take it as it comes.  I think our pages are turning to a new chapter. Perhaps up next we will have the infamous Separation Anxiety stage or even utterance of the words "mama" and "dada"?

Side Note, Mommy Brain

Speaking of spatial awareness, my own is seriously suffering.  The symptom?  I can't turn left.  This may sound silly but making left turns is a serious source of anxiety for me as it has become difficult for my brain to process the cars coming from the left AND from the right, and determine a window of time to turn.  I try to avoid intersections without traffic signals to protect my turn, which is difficult because the exit of our neighborhood happens to be one of the worst left-turn intersections I've ever met.   This symptom is second only to my recent hair loss (seriously, clumps) as my worst Mommy Brain manifestation.  Behind it comes my continued inability to remember things I used to be really sharp about, and repeatedly bumping into pieces of furniture (there's that spatial awareness again!).  Gotta love those breast-feeding hormones!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seeing Santa

Next December I envision us having a 16-month-old who is totally into the hands-on activities that come with Christmas -- dressing up, singing songs, decorating the house, reading the Nativity story, baking yum yums, opening presents, going up north to see snow.  As for now, we are acknowledging the fact that our daughter really doesn't know what's going on yet, and taking advantage that this is the last December of our whole lives we can take it easy.

This year Penny's only active role in the Christmas festivities is to look cute in pictures.   So, the one Christmas tradition we didn't want to slack on was taking her to see Santa.

We went to Bass Pro Shops' Santa's Wonderland.  Wow... what a set up.  They have all kinds of activities for the kids, and instead of making families stand in line for hours and hours, they give out passes so you can shop or play games until it's your time slot to see Santa.   While standing in line might not have been a big deal for PJ, the Wonderland set up was a real hit for our niece and nephews of varying ages, who are much more active than a four-month-old!   They also let you take your own pictures, and give you one free 4x6'' print-out of their "professional" photo.

Penny did great, and we will definitely go back to Bass Pro Shops in future years to participate.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time and Trees

The neighborhood my family moved into when I was a freshman in high school had a purposeful abundance of baby Ash trees. Every front yard had to have two or more, and the main street in the middle was lined with them. I remember them being young and fresh, promising but slightly scrawny.  They were weak during monsoon season but as soon as their leaves would fall, they would beautifully coat the winter rye with golds and browns before the landscapers would clean them up.

I wouldn't say I "grew up" in that house since I certainly had other roofs over my head that came before it, but it's what I think of in the traditional sense of Going Home. Maybe it's because I have so many memories there. Maybe because my parents still live there. Or because my old closet still has boxes of notes passed to me in class (before cell phones!), relics from prom or a bulletin board that still houses my driver's permit and high school photo ID.

My old room is now the sewing room, but I still can't go in there without the spirit of my past flooding my brain with memories of homework and heartache, uniforms and boy band music.

This morning when we dropped Penny off with my mom before work, I enjoyed driving into the gates of my old neighborhood being greeted by a tunnel of big beautiful Ash trees. When did these trees get so big?

When did I grow up?

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Memory Story: Are We Pregnant?

A year ago today.

Saturday night, Dan and I had just gone on a lovely double date with my folks going to go see a musical, White Christmas, at Grady Gammage Auditorium in Tempe.

When you’re having trouble going to sleep, count your blessings, not your sheep.” It was delightful.

We got home and had nothing more important to do than enjoy each other and relax on the big gray couch.  When things started to get a little fresh, as they often used to do on the big grey couch before we got Luna and Apollo, it occurred to me that I wasn’t quite sure what day it was in my cycle.

“Babe… I think I’m having a really long cycle this month. I think it’s been phase three for longer than usual.” [Natural Family Planning lingo]

“Hmmm that’s weird.”

“Wait, could I be pregnant?”

Nah. We didn’t go for it this month.”

I went to our bedroom and looked at our NFP chart and realized that it was indeed odd that I hadn’t gotten my period yet, that night was the end of day 31.

Then I saw it. A little checkmark in the sex box on day 10 of my cycle. A little tiny hand-written checkmark could not have looked more mischievous.

We had totally forgotten that a couple weeks prior, we had decided to take a “chance” one beautiful November morning. It was a slim chance, and we had said “whatever happens happens”, then we quickly forgot about it as we headed to California to stay with Dan’s parents for five days at Thanksgiving.

See, the month prior, Dan and I had tried to get pregnant. Needless to say, we didn’t [get pregnant]. The evening that I had started my last period, we [well, I] got a little tipsy on some fancy sparkling wine we had been saving for a special occasion, and decided that instead of letting our brains [my brain] go wild with panic about fertility, we were going to count our blessings, chill out and relax about it.

Day 10 had been us relaxing about it.

“Dude. I could totally be pregnant.”

We decided to wait to see if my period came in the morning and said that if it didn’t, I would take a test.

You know how the rest of the story goes.  The next day, our whole world got a million times better.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oooooh Aaaah

After a wonderful long night of dressing up for a Christmas party (more on that later) and sitting idly by while her big huge family sang lots and lots of Christmas Carols, my daughter sings a baby song of her own:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Five Things I Couldn't Live Without: The 3-4 month-old Edition

(On October 11th I posted The Newborn Edition of 'five things', if you're curious, maybe start there)

The so-called "fourth trimester" ended and my baby woke up to the world.  What a different kid than the smooshy newborn we brought home from the hospital! I've got a whole new routine and a whole new group of daily-use products, and these are the top five I wanted to share with the world. None of these 'endorsements' are sponsored, I just really really like these things.

1. Take-me everywhere toy
The Product: Sophie the Giraffe by Vulli
Where we got it: This was gifted to Penny but I've seen them all over the place.
What it does: Appeals to everything baby's like at this age. She smells good and tastes good and has lots of ridges and shapes to grab and gnaw on.  She has a cute face and squeaks when you squeeze her.
Why I love it: Simple... Penny loves it.  And it's easy to clean and very portable. If you follow me on Instagram you might notice Sophie photo-bombing a lot of the baby photos.

2. My Baby-wearing Wrap
The Product: Moby Wrap
Where we got it:  They have them at most baby stores or online.  Mine was a gift.
What it does: Secures baby onto the "wearer" in a safe, hands-free, comfortable fashion.
Why I love it: You might remember that I promoted the Baby K'Tan (which I still say is the best for newborns) in my last write up... well... we've outgrown that one (and I'm selling it "used" for cheap, let me know if you're interested).  and we've graduated to the Moby.  The Moby has quite the learning curve for putting it on, but man is it versatile.  I love how easy it is to wash, and I love that other people can wear her in it too, it's totally adjustable.  I wear her in it at least four times a week.

3. Play Gym
The Product: Our Activity Gym is "Treetop Friends" by Skip Hop.
Where I got it: A gift from our Buy Buy Baby registry.
What it does: Provides a stimulating environment for baby to self-play and learn. Textures, sounds, movable toys, it's got it all.  It's versatile too, for different ages.
Why I love it:  I could not take showers without it.  I put the activity gym in the middle of our bed, lay PJ on her back underneath it, and she's good to go for about 20 minutes. I can hear her from the shower having "conversations" with her treetop creatures, kicking them with her legs and grabbing onto the low-hanging ones with her fingers.  I use it every day in different rooms of the house.  Seriously, could not live without this.

4. A Cheap Baby Monitor
The Product: I don't even know what brand ours is, maybe Fisher Price?
Where we got it: Kid to Kid, a second-hand baby/kid store in Ahwatukee.
What it does: It's a baby monitor... it makes noise in one room to let you know that your baby made a noise in the other room.
Why I love it: It cost me $15 bucks and it accomplishes exactly what I need for this stage.  In the beginning, I would never put Penny down to sleep farther than where I could hear here.  I was recovering from a C-section, home all day, and had a ton of help.  Now that I'm juggling more, with less idle time (and I don't feel the need to go check on PJ every thirty seconds), I need to be able to hear her from across the house.  She still sleeps in our room at night, so I haven't felt compelled to invest in any more expensive monitors.

5. Mirror in the Car
The Product: Easy View Back Seat Mirror by Diono.
Where I got it:  I think Amazon, but I can't remember.  There are lots of back-seat mirrors on the market, you need to find the one that's right for your vehicle.
What it is: Gives a driver a view of their rear-facing child in a back-seat car seat, safely without obstructing view of the road or taking up a distracting field-of-vision.
Why I love it: Penny is awake. A lot. Including in the car now. When I'm driving, especially long distances (a.k.a. over five minutes), I like to be able to glance at what she's doing. I can make sure her headband hasn't fallen across her eyes, see if the binky has plopped out of her mouth or the sun is in her eyes, or take note if she does doze off.  I feel so much better about going places now that I have one of these.

And in the Honorable Mention Category
Some other favorites of mine...

Pacifiers: We love the Soft OrthoStar pacifier by Nuk.  This nipple was Penny's choice and I like the all-sillicone, all-one-piece design of this particular binky because it's easy to clean.  

Softest Sweetest Blankets: Still love the Aden + Anais Bamboo Collection

Mommy's pants: I'll save the post-partum-body discussion for another post (maybe)... but Lululemon's "Presence Pant" is pretty much the only article of clothing that I feel good in right now.  According to their website this particular pant has been discontinued (say what?!?!?) but if you can get your hands on a pair online... they are so worth it.

Wearable Blankets: When babies grows out of the swaddling stage, it's still unsafe to put lose blankets on top of them when they sleep.  Halo sleepsacks are awesome for warmth, comfort and safety in the night.

The App: Yes, I still use it and it's worth mentioning again.  We stopped tracking wet diapers but it's fantastic for sleep and eating patterns.  And I love that I have all her growth stats right at my fingertips! ("Baby Connect", $4.99 in the app store)

Playtime with Sophie and the Treetop Friends

There's more where this came from... Five Things I Couldn't Live Without:

Nobody paid me or gave me anything for free... I wrote about this stuff on my own volition because I couldn't live without it!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

to tree or not to tree

That is the question.
Dan lit the house.

Schedules are tight.  Work and volleyball are set in stone; chores and house tasks take a back seat to family time.  Everything takes a back seat to time with baby, as I refuse to let babyhood fly by because I was obsessed with staying on top of the laundry.  Oh and then there's making time for connecting with my husband (ask us how that's going another day please).  And our extended families, which we see often.

Evenings and weekends are all too short.
No stockings yet for 
the baby or the dogs?!?  
What slackers!
Baby's naps are farther apart than they used to be.
Time is precious.  I am 'whelmed.
And some nights, I'd rather write.

Our December and Christmas plans include abundant opportunities for outings, meals, parties, exchanges... none of which will be hosted at our home.  We are so blessed with friends and family who even sometimes proclaim with joy that we need not bring anything but the baby.  What a relief that can be.  I wonder how long that will last...

The lights are up outside.  The stockings are hung on the fire place.  I've got crafts and gifts to prepare, carols to practice on the new piano, goodies to bake.

Every day in December that we don't put up the Christmas tree is one less day we would be able to enjoy it before we have the chore of taking it down.

"Chore"... there's a word that's not in the holiday spirit vernacular.

We won't even be home on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  My parents have a beautiful, huge, finished Christmas tree at their house, and that's where we'll be last thing Christmas Eve and first thing Christmas Morning.

All that said... Yes, I dare suggest, our baby's first Christmas might not include a Christmas tree in her own house.  Does this make me a bad mom?  Do I need to just do it?

Can I get away with skipping the tree this year?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Penny Jane: Four Months Old

Four months old.  12 pounds, 6 ounces.  She can see her toes and her fingers, even grabs small objects on purpose.  She's anxious to put anything and everything in her mouth -- gnaw gnaw gnaw.  We've historically had the luxury of taking her to church and the movies and her staying asleep the whole time... those days are gone.  She's alert, always wanting to see what's going on around her.  She's a great shopper.  She's content being held by almost anyone.  She locks in on others' faces and smiles, and will give a grin right back.  She has a will of her own, vocalizing her desire to be picked up, or put down, or left alone, or cuddled.  She babbles and coos and giggles and drools.  Distractions and involuntary squirming makes nursing her a real challenge.  She made it through a week of both Dan and I being very sick with not so much as a sneeze.  She watches television -- well, anything with a screen really: phones, pads, laptops alike.  She loves the alphabet song and patty-cake.  She rarely fusses unless she needs something.  I can tell when she's getting tired by the tone of her whine, the glaze in her eyes and the droops in her neck.  Her right arm goes wild, we call it the "tomahawk chop," whenever she gets excited.  Mornings are her favorite time of day.  She still loves to snuggle when sleeping -- in a wrap, in a rocking chair or in the bed.  I still call her "Monkey" although the hairy fuzz on her back and shoulders is gone.  Her eyes are bright and blue just like her daddy's.  She's amazing.

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