Friday, May 31, 2013

Julie's Ice Cream Awards

If you're looking for low-cal treats or clever weight loss techniques to get into that bikini... you've landed on the wrong blog

I love ice cream. 

With summer coming, [ok it's pretty much here], a scoop or two of cold creamy goodness to chill your tongue and refresh your soul... you can't go wrong. Or can you? 

There's a lot of gross stuff out there posing as ice cream that's just quite frankly not worth space in your freezer.  This ice cream snob shops for only the best tasting varieties.   Here's my take:

From the Freezer Aisle

Best Vanilla Bean:  
Breyers "Natural Vanilla"
a go-to for all seasons

Best French Vanilla: 
also pairs with A&W for Best Root Beer Float

Best Chocolate: 
yeah sorry bout the ridiculous price, catch it on sale

Best Mint Chocolate Chip: 
my childhood favorite

Best Rocky Road: 
 this flavor has great variation between brands 
and Dreyer's is simply the best.

Best Strawberry: 
distinctly "Strawberries and Homemade Vanilla"

Best Coconut Pineapple:  
my hubby's favorite... available only at Water N Ice 
and Restaurant Depot, or in California.

Best Dulce de Leche: 
"Argentine Caramel" ... This stuff is GOOD... 
and I don't even like caramel very much.   
True to her heritage, this is also my mama's favorite flavor.

Best Cookies'n Cream: 
the original.

Best Cookie Dough: 
and make sure there's dough in every bite!

Best Butter Pecan: 
ask someone who likes pecans. yiughhhk. talk about ruining dessert.

Best Coffee:
it's been so long since I've had coffee ice cream because 
I don't consume caffeine beyond the small amounts in my chocolate...
 man I miss coffee ice cream.
if I remember correctly, Haagen Dazs' coffee ice cream is pretty amazing.

Best Sorbet: 
I like their "Roman Raspberry"

Best Bite-Size Ice Cream Snacks:
pretty much can't go wrong at Trader Joe's, 
but I love their Mini Mint Ice Cream Mouthfuls.
fun to say, and delicious.

Out and About

Best Milkshake: 
and for those of you who don't live in luxurious Gilbert, AZ
Red Robin and Fuddruckers make 'em real good too.

Best Hot Fudge Sundae [in Arizona, maybe in the whole world]: 
forget ribs and baked potatoes... 
they make their own fresh hot fudge. every day. 
yes, please.

Best Cone: 
two scoops on a cake cone: World Class Chocolate on the top 
and Mint Chip on the bottom  
The perfect treat while you're out and about running errands one hot summer day.

Best Fro-Yo:
My husband, being from California, has a thing for Pinkberry... 
but I don't like it. I like my Mojo.

Best Drive Through Option:
Dairy Queen M&M's Blizzard or Chick-fil-A Cookies and Cream Milkshake
always know what's near you for those unpredictable ice cream emergencies.  
And don't even say the word McDonalds.

Best Restaurant Dessert Incorporating Ice Cream:
and for those of you outside the Grand Canyon State, 
BJ's Chocolate Chunk Pizookie will check the box.

OK iScreamers... go forth and scoopify.  But choose wisely!  Ice cream should be savored, worth every bite.  Be selective about your indulgences.  Don't settle for ice cream you don't love!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Penny Jane: Ten Months Old

I feel like every month I marvel that she is even more amazing and incredible than ever before, but it's true.  I hope this never stops.  The wonder of being a grownup and watching her experience the world parallels her own wonder as she discovers so many new things.

Penelope now shows understanding of cause and effect and is starting to experiment with how adults react to her.  Examples: looking at me to see if I'm watching her as she grabs the remote control (which she's not supposed to have).  Babbling louder and louder still if all the grownups in the room are conversing with one another and haven't said anything to her in a minute or two.  Dropping her sippy cup onto the floor and then looking at me to pick it up.  Anticipating me dumping the water from the cup onto her head after I fill it up and say "now we're going to wash your hair, ready? one, two, three."

She very recently turns on the drama when something she wants is taken away from her, and she complains with whines of aaaaaaah during diaper changes -- if you didn't know her you might think she was in agonizing pain.  Typically a pig sound or a loud "boo!" will get her to giggle instead.

Sleeping has been a bit rough.  I keep saying I think she must be getting another tooth, but none have surfaced.  In fact, some new forms of all-around fussing have caused me to second guess my own intuition about her needs, but I suppose her needs are just getting more complex as she is far past the newborn hungry/tired cycle.  Is it classic separation anxiety or is it teething? Is she manipulating me? Or does her tummy hurt? The older she grows the less confidence I have that I've got a handle on responding in just the right way.  But I guess I'm doing alright.  I do wish she would stop the nap boycott.

She can crawl really fast.  She also scales the dogs if they are in her way, they just lie there and take the abuse as her heals and wrists dig into their ribs and spine and ears.  They are the best. The dogs are also good for climbing onto furniture or reaching the remote control off the couch.  Penny still relies on holding onto things for standing.  I am ok with this.

She weighs 16 pounds 10 ounces and she's still able to wear some of her 6-month onesies, but any pants or footed pajamas size 9-months and smaller are too short for her long legs and giant feet.  I've put away most of her long-sleeve stuff and I'm delighted to get her into some of the summery outfits that have been hanging in the closet for almost a year.  I dread the thought of her ever rubbing sunscreen in her eyes. I need to be more consistent about making her wear hats often even if we aren't outside, because currently when I put one on her head, she immediately wants it off.

She now has little interest in purées, other than as a side dish to her main course of textures and pieces.  Penny eats almost everything now, torn into small bites that she grasps into her palm then sloppily unloads into her mouth.  She looks like a monkey when she eats.  She has no tolerance for plates [we'll work on that one later].  She loves chicken and guacamole and smashed blueberries.  Chipotle is our favorite restaurant to go just the three of us.  I still prefer to strip her down to a diaper and let her play with her food and make a mess of herself but we don't do this in public.

She absolutely loves taking showers and baths (though she mostly gets showers).  I can put her on the floor of our big shower now and let her sit and play with bottles and cups, a convenience I have been looking forward to for months.  I need to sign her up for swimming lessons, like stat.  I expect she is going to be fearless in the water.

This month she had her first overnight sleepover at the Lang Gang house.  We didn't plan for this night to be anything beyond a late night of babysitting, or I might have talked myself out of it emotionally.  I'm kind of glad it happened the way it did because it wasn't as big of a deal as I would have made it out to be if we had planned the "sleepover" part.  Although, when I woke up that morning and she wasn't in my house, I frenzied to get to her as fast as I could, I missed her so much.

Penny loves to cuddle.  I love this.  Sometimes when she's playing by herself, she will crawl over just to lay her head on me for a second before going back to her business.

With two months to go, thinking about planning a first birthday party excites me and exhausts me.  Is my little girl really going to be one soon?

This month our Penelope Jane learned how to do this:

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday Things

Two of them.

First, I've signed up for Vine.  As a former media production student with a special love (but no special talent) for video editing, this app is ridiculously fun for me.  I make posts mostly for my own entertainment, but I expect Penelope's grandmothers and aunties will delight in their content and frequency as well.  Find me if you like!

Second, Top Baby Blogs reset their stats a few days ago. Fresh start. Square one. Zippo. I would love your support with that two-click vote. I won't beg often, but pleeeease will you help me get started moving my way up from page six or seven to page five or four?  You can vote once EVERY DAY if you really really want to... only if you actually like my blog...

My humblest thanks for reading.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Catching Up

It's been unusually hard for me to find time, or make time, to write these past few weeks.  I can't pinpoint a particular reason why, it's just life I suppose.  Ideas swim around in my head of all the things I want to write about... but sometimes I just get tired.  I have to tell myself it's just a blog... It can be whatever I want it to be and I shouldn't compare myself to other bloggers who have more, or make more, time to write than I do.  But I do get jealous sometimes, women who don't work outside the home, or whose babies take longer naps than mine, or whose dogs didn't just eat a book and leave ripped up pages all over the backyard....  I suppose it's just been a hard week.

Dan lost his job.  He and about a hundred others nationwide were working a contract that was scheduled to complete in March of next year, but alas the contract was terminated earlier than planned.  Maybe time will reveal this to be a blessing in disguise.  I am certainly optimistic and I certainly believe in my husband, but, this event came with a normal amount of disappointment.  I am thanking God that we have been following Dave Ramsey's steps to "financial peace" --  how timely that was!  We know we can live on a budget and have saved a little in case of emergency.   I am secretly hoping in the interim, however short it may be, that Dan will commission some paintings.  He's really very good. I am secretly hoping he will read this.  I am secretly hoping that one of you reading this wants him to paint something for you or your kids' rooms.

Penelope teeths. At least I think that's what's been causing her to boycott naps, wake up multiple times in the middle of the night, and burst into hopeless tears right in the middle of nursing.  I have to remind myself that everything is temporary with babies. But I am exhausted.  Did I really used to get up multiple times a night every night for months?  I can't even think of it now...

I had a little escape from the grind this weekend when I had the honor of playing the piano at two very good friends' wedding.  For me, this wedding was an Oasis in the middle of some dry and trying days.  Not only did I get to play music for the ceremony, but I got to play on stage with some stellar musicians, accompanying a soul singer in town from California to do the first dance song, playing with my own band and then another band who I sat in with for two sets because they don't have a keyboard player and were nice enough to let me jam.  The whole night was pure rockin jammin musical fun.  I haven't had that much fun without my husband in a long time. What a rush. 

It's getting hot.  Summer is here.  I will withhold my complaints but wanted to announce that I am in the market for a one-piece swimsuit.  I'm really a mom now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers Day

Thank you to all who made this a special day for me, especially my husband.
Thank you, God, for the gift of Penelope.
My motherhood, in a few snapshots.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Roadtrippin to Our Friends

This past weekend we traveled across the border into California for Penny's first long road trip and first time out of Arizona since she was born. She was last in California when I was 35 weeks pregnant.

Anyway, Friday at about 4:00am I packed the last minute items into the car, took a shower, packed the cooler and then put Penny in her car seat. Dan would then drive 8 hours to Bakersfield where we would attend our friends' beautiful wedding the next day.

Our friends' wedding. Our friends.

What a neat thing to call people.

Not long ago I would've referred to most of the folks in our lives as either my friend or Dan's friend based on which if us knew that person before Dan and I knew each other.

As I was recently telling of how we had survived our first long car ride with baby and traveled to the exotic and mysterious Bakersfield, I found myself saying not "One of Dan's best friends from college was getting married," but instead "our friends were getting married."

Our friends.

Dan has this incredible group of friends from college. This group is like no other group of guys I have ever met or read about. Most of them are scattered throughout California, but really they are all over the country now... and they still manage to be a part of each others' lives in a very significant way.

Their male bond formed long before they had us girls in their lives. Aside from a couple college sweethearts who married in, the girls are new.

When we all manage to get together, us girls sit in the 'wives and girlfriends' section behind the social dugout and make small talk while our men play their game. But as we have attended more and more events, the small-talk has turned to familiar talk as we too bud in friendship.

I'm excited that these other women might refer to me not as "my husbands's friend Dan's wife, Julie" but as my friend Julie.

Marriage is awesome.
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