Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Friends the Experts: Kids Contributing Around the House

This month for My Friends the Experts, rather than an interview (since I'm spending less time blogging!), I am pointing you a post by my sister-in-law about kids and chores. Christina is good at many things, but one thing I think she is exceptionally good at is running a household; and lovingly, strategically, systematically teaching and expecting her kids to contribute at their different ages.

I confess that I myself never mastered or even took on a respectable share of housework at any age of my life. So while Penny won't be doing any chores in the immediate future, I will definitely be turning to this expert when that time comes!

Post from The Lang Gang Loves blog:  Your Kids Are Capable

Monday, February 25, 2013

Virtual Diet - Lent

Why fast during Lent?  This article kind of sums up the history of the tradition (and this article, geared towards youth, has some creative ways to fast). 

Fasting can take on different forms, and I'm no authority on how or why someone should or shouldn't practice certain fasting during Lent (the season before Easter).  My heart and my roots are Catholic, and to my knowledge, the Lenten Fast tradition is mostly a Catholic thing.  But even at the nondenominational church my husband and I have been attending (where they have made no mention of Lent whatsoever, to my extreme disappointment, but I shouldn't have hoped for it...) the head guy has talked about how "discipline" is crucial for discipleship.  So a common thread at least.  

For me, there's not exactly a surplus of spiritual self discipline in my life currently, so hopefully no one would criticize me for taking Lent as an opportunity for some discernment and self examination.  Catholic or not.

When I was younger, I would give up things like chocolate, caffeine   In my most spiritual years I seriously amped up my prayer life and made frequent (sometimes daily) visits to my local Adoration chapel.  Talk about feeling close to God.  A few years ago I gave up texting and Facebook -- completely -- for the whole Lent.  This, I found was very effective in re-examining relationships, priorities and how I spent my time... a worthwhile spiritual task indeed.   This year I have been feeling called to examine who and what I am giving my time to.  I wouldn't dare deprive my friends and family their daily photographs of my adorable daughter (especially on Instagram) so I couldn't give up social media completely, but I can back off.  Truthfully... most of my virtual time is spent in the blog realm -- composing, reading others', networking, drafting... you get it.  So, maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't, but I'm taking a little bit of a blogging break.

Not a complete blogging fast, but backing off during this Lent -- I'm considering it a bit of a Lenten blogging "diet".  I'm purposefully being more present in my prayer life, my family life, my marriage, my home, my motherhood, and a little less present in my blog life.

You can expect maybe one post per week, but not much more.

And Christians, even though Lent started almost two weeks ago, it's not too late to take this opportunity to do something, dedicatedly, to spiritually prepare yourself for Easter.

God Bless!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Husband Appreciation Day

There's proof that there was a day when I did something creative for the man I love on Valentine's Day.  [alphabet soup valentine for my husband, the year we spent our last Valentine's Day as fiances]

I have always said that I don't feel the need to be extra loved on February 14th, because I feel so loved all the other 364 days out of the year.  I wouldn't have thought we needed to go out (just as I made Dan swear a long time ago to never EVER buy me flowers in February).  But Dan surprised me in making dinner reservations and making arrangements for my mom to babysit tonight.  I about cried when he told me. He is so thoughtful.  He said this year he wanted to do something for me... as though he doesn't do that every single day of our lives.

Husband, I appreciate you.  And I love you more today than any day before.

my favorite picture from our honeymoon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Boob. Bath. Book. Bed. and other Routines

If you follow me on Instagram, you know we have recently started feeding Penny some solid foods, and establishing a "family dinner" experience -- at the table -- all three of us -- every night. This isn't the only new routine in our increasingly domesticated lives...

Boob. Bath. Book. Bed.

Thus is our new bedtime routine.  Gone are the days of just hanging out at night, doing what we (the grownups) want, where we want, when we want, and letting Penelope fall asleep wherever and whenever she wants.   Our daughter is six months old, she is not sick anymore (man what a backtrack those two weeks were in trying to encourage good sleep habits!).

Our pediatrician actually suggested we separate nursing from sleeping with bath and reading a book in between.  We've been doing this for about a week, and it really seems to suit our family well.

We are Starting Good Habits.

In addition, I've been reading about sleep associations. Baby sleep associations, to be precise.  And we are making some serious changes in the Griffin house. The method we are going by is the ever popular, ever misunderstood, Ferber Method.  Rather than summarize, I'm just going to recommend you look into it if you are interested.  But here is my public declaration of Penny's sleep statements, old and new.

Out with the Old, In with the New.

Old Sleep Associations:
  • I fall asleep while Mommy cuddles me.
  • I fall asleep while Daddy holds me and reads me a book.
  • I fall asleep in Mommy or Daddy's lap on the couch while we watch Downton Abbey.
  • I fall asleep while Nana holds me.
  • I fall asleep while Grammie rocks me.
  • I fall asleep while Grammie walks me.
  • I fall asleep while I take a bottle.
  • I fall asleep while I nurse.
  • If I'm really tired I fall asleep by myself in my crib if my pacifier is in, but if I don't like it, the grownups pick me up and give me another option.
  • I fall asleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed if it's after midnight.
New Sleep Associations:
  • I fall asleep by myself in a crib in a dim room with white noise. No one is in the room with me at the moment I fall asleep. 
  • I fall asleep with my pacifier in my mouth, but if it falls out, I can fall asleep without it.
  • I take two or three naps a day. I do not go down for a nap past 5pm. I fall asleep for the night at 9pm bedtime and I wake up for the day at 7am.
Progressive Waiting

Last night, we started the Progressive Waiting approach.

You know how if you spend all day in the ocean, you can still hear the wind and feel the motion of the waves later that night when you're lying still in bed?   In this early hours of this morning as I grumbled out of bed and got into the shower, I could still hear Penny crying from the agonizing 25 + 35 minutes of my life the night before [which really isn't that bad].  It was the hardest night of motherhood.  I wept.  I can't explain it.  Some other moms know.

How she does tonight will be a gauge for how successful our efforts were last night.  I know in my heart and mind that we are doing a good thing for Penny and for our family.  But I do so appreciate encouragement from others as I find myself feeling like a failure for not doing this sooner, or feeling confused by so many different sources who say the 'best way' to do this, or feeling EXHAUSTED from not getting more than an hour and a half of consecutive sleep for months on end (sometimes from my baby's sleeplessness, sometimes from my own).

I would love to read stories of any of you who have had success with this method, to fill up my tank as we continue the tough but proven process of empowering our child to fall asleep by herself.  Thank you so much for your support!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Grammys: Party for a Cause

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." -Victor Hugo

I play in a band.

When people hear this they are usually kind of surprised.  What do you mean, 'a band'?

Well, it's a local cover band called Retro-Active, and we play music that (we like to think) people like, from all different decades and genres.  We've got a Facebook page (Retro Active AZ) with some photos if you want to see proof (I'm the one hiding behind the keyboard).  We play at bars and restaurants some, and especially love doing private, corporate and charity events.  My favorite songs that we do are Anyway You Want It by Journey and American Girl by Tom Petty.  We also do some newer stuff like Adele and Maroon 5 and then some.

Anyway... the past few weeks we worked hard to quickly learn eleven songs by artists nominated for Grammy Awards this year.

  1. Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye -- Winner!
  2. Set Fire To the Rain by Adele -- Winner!
  3. Lonely Boy by The Black Keys -- Winner!
  4. Stronger by Kelly Clarkson -- Winner!
  5. We Are Young by Fun. -- Winner!
  6. We are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift -- Winner!
  7. Payphone by Maroon 5 & Wiz Khalifa
  8. Wide Awake by Katie Perry
  9. I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons -- Winner!
  10. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson
  11. Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars

...And last night, for the Grammy's, we played at a fundraiser and silent auction "Night At the Grammys" for a local organization that provides musical instruments to schools that need them. And what a cool organization they are!

If music education has a special place in your heart, I encourage you to check out  Ear Candy Music Charity founder Nate Anderson's story about starting out hosting music events for local charities then founding Ear Candy which has become one of the largest musical instrument / music education nonprofit organizations in the country!

Got a musical instrument laying around that you don't use?  Or maybe it needs a minor repair but it's not worth it to you to fix up? There's a kid out there who can use it. Consider donating it, their website tells how.

Retro Active playing another Ear Candy fundraiser last fall at the Hard Rock Cafe in Phoenix.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Bare

Five Minute Friday

Click the icon above for more information about Lisa Jo Baker's amazing exercise in writing and invitation to community!

Here goes...


Dust and crumbs come out to play when all the furniture is gone.  Moving out or moving in, a room doesn't know the difference.  Sometimes money or other treasures surface, yours or someone else's.  Sometimes the most embarrassing things come out when all the rooms are emptied.  Sometimes your future husband learns things about you he might not have otherwise discovered until five years into marriage.

Empty rooms mean transition, and everything that comes with.  Excitement and opportunity, nostalgia and sadness.  Change.  The bareness of an empty space always always always carries significance.

Ever stop and stare at an empty room that you were leaving?  How about standing in the middle of one that you were moving into, before you brought in a single box?   I have. And turns out, I'm a crier either way.

What does it mean, now, when I can foresee no more empty rooms in the near future for me and my family?  Am I too comfortable? Do I assume too much? Or have we been so blessed to land here together... so blessed that we might get to stay a while...

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I fear we have ventured so far into habit formation that it is going to take some serious work (and will power) to get Penny sleeping through the night, by herself, in a crib.   All ye who never let their babies sleep in bed with them to begin with, no snarking. I wouldn't have traded one minute of it...well, for the first five months I wouldn't have.

But now Dan and I are more than ready to have our bed back

We are thinking about trying the Ferber Method.  Got our hands on a copy of this book... but if you can't tell by the photo, it's over 400 PAGES!!!  (A 400 page book for new parents who aren't sleeping??)

Supposedly it's organized in such a way that it can be easily navigated according to the age of the child who isn't sleeping well... gosh I hope so.   I certainly won't have the time to read it cover to cover!

We won't start it until it's something we are ready to commit to, but at least we have a plan... sort of.

Wish us luck!

Cue crying baby.....

Monday, February 4, 2013

Baby's Best Friend, Apollo

Very recently, Apollo (our golden boy) has taken quite an interest in Penelope, and she in him.  Penny likes to watch and giggle at Luna too (the grey one) but Luna is more interested in the adults (a.k.a. the humans with the food) than the baby.  Apollo... he eats it up.  He loves the baby attention, and has perfected the art of being careful around her.  They are developing a little friendship that warms my heart to watch as it grows.

This morning, I set Penny up on a quilt with some toys to watch some Elmo videos while I made myself a sandwich and got back to my Monday computer work.  The dogs know they aren't allowed on any blanket on the floor if the baby is on it, however Apollo -- quite the opportunist about being scratched or cuddled -- gently wiggled his way into getting her happy kicking feet to scratch him.  I couldn't scold him, he was being so gentle.   I was able to snap these pictures with my phone:

Penny, would you rub my back?
Penny, now would you scratch my neck?

Penny, would you scratch my ears?  Oooh yeah right there...

Excuse me Penny, you don't mind if I just
lay a little bit closer, do you?

Penny, can I cuddle you?

And my favorite, I sat her up so she could see better, and he gingerly wiggled his way around her like this:
Penny, will you be my best friend?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Penny Jane: Six Months Old

Six months old.  Just over 14 pounds.  Just started wearing size 2 diapers. Just transitioned to 9-month size footie pajamas since the legs were too short on the 6-month ones.  Tasted her first apple, sweet potato, butternut squash, green beans, banana and blueberry at Breast-Feeding group, but I haven't made anything at home yet.  By "taste," I mean barely put each of those things in her mouth then spit them out.  We aren't aggressively pushing the solid foods thing.  Experienced her first snow the same weekend that I experienced the first New Year's Eve I've ever slept through.  She sits up on her own and loves it.  What a life-changing milestone, a whole new view of the world!  She can also hold toys with some finesse, even picking them off the ground.  The newest trick is taking her pacifier out of her mouth with an early-stage pincer grasp, then chewing on the side of it.  Her vocabulary has progressed from "oooo" and "aghoooo" to full on babbles such as "bubwubwubwub" and "oh-wow-wow-whoa" and "peektapeeeph" to name a few.  I swear she said "hello" to her grandpa one time.   Her grandmothers think she is going to be an early talker.   She is delighted by her daddy, everything he says or does to her.  She has become fascinated by the dogs' every movement and Apollo (our golden boy) has taken interest in being near her whenever possible.  First cough, first fever, first Tylenol.  Her being sick for a week proved to be a real set-back in our tactics to get her sleeping through the night -- or was it my lack of will-power...  Her tiny hands grasp on with intense strength, her nails can draw blood if I neglect to cut them a day too long.  She grunts and grumbles when she is tired or gnawing on a teething toy.  Everyone at my volleyball tournaments marvels at how cute and sweet-natured she is as she loves being passed from person to person, indulging each with her baby charm.  Consider this a warning, she pulls hair with conviction.  Her own hair, the fuzzhawk, is growing longer by the day, and unfortunately it's looking like she's going to have my forehead.  She got busy this month.  She got heavy this month.  She still loves to be worn in my wrap or carrier, thank goodness.  Her eyes stay blue.  Her cheeks stay fat.


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