Sunday, June 30, 2013

Penny Jane: Eleven Months Old

Our little monkey now weighs 17 lbs 7 ounces. Her hair is getting longer, it makes for a real cute mo-hawk in the bath. She has four new teeth slowly and barely poking through her top gums. Oh teeth, we've been waiting for months, I thought you'd never come.  I can see some real definition in her arm muscles from pulling herself up so often.  She's demonstrated that she can stand on her own for two or three seconds at a time before gingerly sitting down and crawling away.  I'd bet she'll walk before her first birthday, or at least take a few steps on her own by then.

She's still nursing about four times a day, and snacking on anything we give her.  Save for sushi and peanut butter, she pretty much eats what we eat (with the caveat that we don't have red meat in our house).  This month we broke some rules and introduced strawberries, pineapple, tomato and chocolate.  She enjoyed all of them.  She now crawls over to the kitchen table and tries to climb up to her chair when she wants food.  She's a machine. Taking big drinks of water out of her sippy cup and then throwing it across the room when she's done as though she's just won a water-drinking competition -- is one of my favorite things that she does right now.  Also, the "drop something and Mom will pick it up, then repeat" game has set in.  I'm not a fan.   We also love graham crackers.

We started brushing her teeth [mostly gums] this month.  She loves it. We have one of those little soft silicone brushes that you put on your finger and bubble-gum flavored baby Orajel toothpaste.  She bites it a lot but I am able to give the teeth and gums a good scrubbing I think, with no fighting from her. I should have done this when her bottom teeth came in a while back but hey, at least I started when her top teeth started coming on.  Go ahead... judge me...

The jibber jabber that comes from her mouth is SO FUN.  She knows she's silly and she knows it's fun and she chooses to interact with us in silly ways.  I love this.  We are a family that welcomes silliness of all kinds.  She's also desperately trying to say words. Sometimes she holds her breath in intense concentration to get one syllable out. It's all still babbles, but we like to pretend she's saying words like Indigo. Tickle. Pickle. Asiago. Sick' em. Diddle. Piddle. Okay. Pico de Gallo. Hey You! Hiya! Adieu.  She is getting really close to actually using correctly the words "Dada," "Ball," "Hi / Hey," "Yeah," and "Dog."   "Mama" is not even in the running.  

Putting things in containers and taking them back out is the favorite play activity as of late.  I have a giant "bucket" (actually an empty Costco pretzel container) that I put toys into for her to retrieve and play with.  She likes her toys and books much better when she takes them out of a container all by herself in order to play with them.  Peek-a-boo above and below the coffee table is another game we play.  I'm thinking one of these days she is going to surprise me and actually say the word "boo!" but she hasn't yet.

She doesn't wear shoes yet.  Ever. I'm pretty sure "barefoot til age one" is not recommended.  Or is it? I just don't want to make her wear any. I'm preparing for the worst when she absolutely must start wearing them. 

Changing her diaper is nearly impossible most instances. She flips, she screams, she kicks, she puts her hands in her private parts, she squirms, she cries in agony.   So far my only consistently successful solution is singing "This is a Song About Elmo" by Adam Sandler.  Suggestions welcome.

We've prioritized a remodel of our tv/entertainment area because she has officially become a hazard to it, and it to her.  I cringe at projects like this, but Dan was right, it must be done. As he secretly smirks that he finally gets to mount the tv the way he's always wanted to.  I'm crossing my fingers that this localized demolition and construction will be complete before he officially starts his new job after the holiday weekend.

Daddy puts her to bed every night. It's his special time. I get to listen to his soft a'cappella renditions of 80's worship music through the baby monitor. Did someone say Twila Paris?

She sleeps not quite the little kid schedule that we would aspire to (babies sleeping 12 hours a night, could you please send some sleepies this way?) but it's better than newborn hours of yesteryear. I'd say we're at sixth-grader hours, a typical night going to sleep at 9:30pm and waking up at 7:00am the next day.  I'll take it.  

She's also [finally] settled napping in her crib on a daily basis.  I said In Her Crib. Halle--can I get an Amen---lujah!

We took a chance and took her to a movie [Monsters University] for the first time in about six months. It was a late showing so we figured she would just conk out when it got dark.  Boy were we wrong.  She did end up falling asleep about two thirds of the way through the movie, but before that she had a little party in the seats.  Bites of broken popcorn, climbing, babbling at other movie goers.  It waa kind of a nightmare. We'll try again at an even later showing at a later date. Or continue to get a babysitter!

Thank you to those of you who enjoy my blog and show it by giving me some voting love every day on Top Baby Blogs.  Your daily clicks are awesome.  I'm sending you a cyber hug right now.  And don't forget to check out some of the other blogs on the list, there are some great ones!

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crown of Splendor

Oh hairs.

How I love thee, how I hate thee.

You recede from the corners of my forehead in a funny shape.

I slicked you for ballet and poofed you for school pictures.  I adorned you with scrunchies and headbands.  I put lemon juice on you once... remember the time I got in trouble for putting it in my little sister's hairs too... the lemon juice got in her eyes... she cried and tattled.  

I dyed you all black in college.  

Many of you couldn't handle the stress of life (or the Accutane) and fell out when I was the age of 21.  

A few of you turned white and silver when I was 24.  I started getting highlights to hide you from the world and I quickly forgot about you faded ones, but still you multiplied underneath all that dye.  When I stopped foiling you after my wedding (that stuff's expensive), you exposed yourselves and the colonizing you'd been doing on my head all that time.   There were lots of you and you were WHITE.

I started dyeing you again six months later. 

I also cut some of you on top into blunt bangs. I felt hip and cool, and like the stylin' haircut was a nice distraction from the eight or nine pounds I had gained. 

When I got pregnant many more of you appeared on my head.  You grew fast and thick and hair life was good.

After I had the baby, some of you fell out. 

A month or two later more of you fell out.

Months later more and more of you fall out and and you little ones in the front joined forces in forging a cowlick in my once-blunt bangs.   I did ombre.  I was stylin' again, this time with a cowlick.

Now I've let you grow oh so long. "Beach hair" I call you most days. 

Thirteen weeks since I paid a professional to work on you.  I braid you often.

You silver ones atop my head glisten in the light. 

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is gained by virtuous living.  [Proverbs 16:31]

My espoused says you should all go gray and I should leave you be.  Glorious, he says.

I baffle.

Oh hairs. 

Final Product: Hand-painted Growth Charts

We finished a small group of growth chart rulers this weekend and [toot toot] I think they turned out pretty rockin!  We are considering making more and selling them, or trading services for them old school style.  
copyright Julie Griffin

If you are interested, please contact me at juliejanuary [at] gmail [dot] com.   
We can do customization such as font choice, stain color, height variation, or adding a name.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


I've stumbled upon quite a few bloggers who share "Currently" posts from time to time, and I'm getting on the bandwagon! I'll be doing my own renditions. Here's a first...

Dishing strawberries and peaches, the fruits of summer! Normally I would include blueberries in this mixture but I am testing a hypothesis that Penny may have a slight blueberry allergy so we are cutting them out for a couple weeks.

Wishing my daughter would stop grinding her teeth. I read that it's common and not problematic for babies to do this when they get new teeth but the sound is like... grinding teeth. It's unbearable. 

Squishing my awkward c-section lump into a pair of Lululemon pants that are oh so cute and oh so comfy -- except in the lower abdomen.

Kissing the top of Luna's head. Yes I give my dogs kisses, usually in threes and followed by a good pat-down.

Missing two full pairs of shoes and one solitary flip flop, several reusable baby food containers, like five pacifiers, one Prius car key [which was very unfortunate yesterday when I locked the other one in said car] and most of all my sister-in-law, who, ironically, we don't see that often even though they live across the park from us, but now that she's across the world for two weeks I have this desire to be near her.  You can follow her journey to Africa on her blog here.

Gearing up for the construction of a few giant growth chart rulers.  We had quite a few folks get excited about the one we made for Penny, and a couple of them asked us to make them one too, so that's one of our projects this weekend.   Dan is currently in the garage sanding them and doing the initial stain, and tonight after Penny goes to bed, we will watch three movies while we meticulously decorate them.

Procrastinating going through my closet and dresser.  I desperately need to purge and refresh my wardrobe... so many things I don't wear anymore or don't fit me.  And I need less clutter in my life.  But this particular chore always seems to end up on the back burner, I think this says a lot about me, actually.

Thankful for the virtue Patience.  Much of this has been gracefully afforded to me by my family in more-than-usual ways this week.  Oh, and air conditioning.  It's awfully hot out there.

Laughing about my friend Steffi's post on playdates.  I love this lady and I read her post as though she was telling it to me over lunch.  I haven't ventured into the realm of group playdates much beyond the structured breastfeeding group I go to on Fridays (which is not like a "date" at all, as she describes them) but I'm sure I have some at-least-it-made-for-a-good-story experiences in my future in terms of Penny's friends' parents.  Side note, one of these rulers we are making is for her family -- little Brock and baby boy #2 on the way.

Inspiration for 'Currently' posts comes from Danielle over at Sometimes Sweet and Megan on tumblr. Hooray for the blogging community!

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rhythm

Five Minute Friday

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

I could not pass this one up because "RHYTHM" happens to be one of my favorite words of all time (second only to FACETIOUSLY which has all the vowels, in alphabetical order).  Being a six letter word with no vowels, it's never failed me in Scrabble or Bananagrams, and it happens to be of a musical ilk.  Winning.

Anyway... Here goes...


You know you're new parents when your husband is on the phone, a business call, and you silently motion to him from the other room indicating that he must urgently come look at something... the contents of baby's diaper.... a bright orange carrot turd.

The rhythm of the day changes all the time.

Ours has.  Most recently, beyond the blossoming little child we have living under our roof, my husband's 'job transition' has been a surprisingly welcome season for us.  He's sleeping well.  He's cooked.  He's been playing guitar again and he completely organized his art room.  He's got time on his hands, tons of which he's been spending with his daughter, a treasure many father's don't have often.

He's been home to share in the marvel of Penelope's unpredictable turds.

Although news of his job offer was music to our ears this week, I am going to miss this season a little bit.

Please join me in congratulating Dan on his new endeavor [he starts in July], and thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lovin It (Bloglovin' it that is)

OK... I'm in.  I'm excited to join others in an exchange of reading and following!

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Long Haul Nursing

Breastfeeding an Older Baby

Yes, I'm still nursing my ten-month-old.  No, she's never had formula.  

I've been lucky.  

I've been so very blessed to have a relatively easy time with breastfeeding -- a good latch from the start, only four clogged ducts in ten months, no infections or thrush, no diet restrictions and no major issues with milk production. 

I've also been determined.  I think breastfeeding for the long haul is half luck and half attitude.  Attitude that says... I'm doing this.

Nursing changes as baby changes. You can read my first post about breastfeeding here.  I wrote those words nine long months ago, not knowing the adventures Penny and my boobs would have throughout this ride called Baby's First Year.  Oh how time flies.

Here are a few things I have to say about breastfeeding older babies:

They eat way faster.  Penny can polish off a full meal now in about five minutes.  Both sides. No more planting my butt on the couch for a full episode of The Office for each boob.

They really let you know when they want it.   Penny's moves: the collarbone nuzzle, the sideways head plunge, the shirt shake, the sniff'n'kickyourlegs.  It can be obnoxious in the wrong place at the wrong time, but overall is an endearing reminder that your baby needs you.

They eat in all sorts of positions.  Sitting next to you, sitting on your lap, standing on your lap, kicking a leg and waving an arm, upside down on the bed... As long as they can reach it, they're good.  I can nurse Penny standing up, sitting or laying down, in the bath or shower, walking around, in the car, in the wilderness... you name it.

They bite.  Yes, it's as painful as it sounds.  Some moms recommend screaming or flicking baby's cheek when they bite, to startle them.  I haven't had luck with this... I suppose my pain tolerance has just amped up a little with motherhood.  This doesn't have to be a deal breaker... but as I've said before, breastfeeding is not for sissies.

They fight the cover.   If I use the cover when I nurse in public, I go into the feeding well knowing it's a gamble... one sly move of her arm and somebody's gonna get a glimpse.  I've mastered a few brilliant no-cover techniques that allow me to nurse in public discreetly and tastefully without a cover... like the face-the-other-way technique, and the only-pull-your-nipple-out technique... brilliant, right?  In public without a cover might not be for everyone.  I suggest making the nursing cover a regular prop during feeding time at home if you expect your baby to tolerate it in when you are out and about.

You're pretty much hungry.  Pretty much all the time.  Ditching 500 calories a day without exercising? Yes please. Too bad that just means your appetite is insatiable.  But remember, you're making food. In your boobs. You're a machine and you need fuel.   And never underestimate the importance of drinking tons of water.

The bonding continues.   I  treasure the quiet time Penny and I have in the mornings when she first wakes up and snuggles into our bed to nurse and go back to sleep for a little while.  And I love that no matter what she was doing right before, her busy bright eyes soften into a drunken peacefulness and her whole body melts into me after a few seconds.  She needs her mama.  Nothing compares to nursing your baby, regardless of her age.

People will imply you should stop. The older your baby gets, the more people start to ask questions. Try not to get defensive, or let them get in your head.

That brings me to my next point.

I have met so many situations that have assured me that our culture is coming back around about breastfeeding.  I've never had a fitting room attendant look at me strangely when I ask if I can use one of the rooms to nurse my baby.  I've never been asked to move or leave or --gasp-- feed Penny in the bathroom when I've nursed her in restaurants. And I've only been ogled at awkwardly a few times when nursing in the out-and-about, mostly by teenagers who can't help it and probably don't know better.  

But every now and then someone says something discouraging to me.  There are still folks out there who perceive breastfeeding to be too inconvenient for any free-thinking mother to want to do it, or gross, or something only weird people do, or something that's 'good when they're newborns' but you have to stop at [fill in the age] so it doesn't screw up your kid.  

"How long do you have to keep doing that? I thought you were supposed to stop after six months,"  a coworker said to me recently.   

What she meant was... "breastfeeding a baby that old is weird, when are you going to stop already?"

I responded, "I get to do it until she is ready to be done." [with a smile, of course]

Breastfeeding is important to me and has become just a normal part of my motherhood.  There are days when I'm at work and I really don't feel like pumping... but I do it.  I have had a couple of dips in my production where I could have just gradually let myself dry up... but I pumped extra and drank a boat ton (yes I said boat ton) of water and I got it back up. There have been days where I wanted to wear something that would have prevented me from nursing in public... something really cute... but I wore something else because I knew my baby was going to need to eat where we were going.  There was the day when Penny bit me so hard both nipples bled (she couldn't help it, her teeth were brand new and she didn't know what they were capable of)... but I pressed on [and cried... a lot].

This breastfeeding thing can be a little nuts, but I'm not crazy for doing it.

Be Nice to Us.

It's important to me.  I'm doing this.  

But up there where I said it's half attitude and half luck?  There are moms who have had bad luck with breastfeeding.  Every mom and every baby are different.  For some, it just doesn't work for them, they don't produce enough, their baby doesn't latch, their baby has food sensitivities... there are all kinds of good reasons that women don't or can't breastfeed.  And they are great moms.  And formula is good for babies.

It saddens me that there are stereotypes out there about us moms regardless of what our babies drink.  Breastfeeding your babies until they are "old" doesn't mean you're weird.  Not all long haul breastfeeders are going to keep nursing 'til our kids are off to kindergarten! (darn you Time Magazine).   And giving your baby formula doesn't mean you're any less of a mom, or didn't try hard enough, or are any better or worse than any of us.  There is no universal right time to wean your baby.  Every family is different.

Mommas: Let's remember the jubilation and security we can feel in being in community with other mothers, and show the world how encouraging and supportive we can be to one another, regardless of what our babies are eating!

You might also like: 
The Universal Underground Sharing and Caring Movement
Expressing Myself, And Other Lactational Matters

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Memory Story: Fathers Day Weekend

Today was Dan's first Fathers Day and my dad's 29th.  We spent the weekend up in Flagstaff (northern Arizona) at my parents' cabin.  

Slingshot shooting, four-wheeling, reading, hiking, cooking, water-color, shadow puppets, snuggling, movies and games.  The weather was perfect.  The air was clean.  and I was with my two blue-eyed guys.  What a special weekend. 

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shared Post

I love today's post by Lauren of Sipping Lemonade, and really wanted to share.  She so beautifully captures the joy of her motherhood to sweet Kate, her daughter who has Down Syndrome.

(image URL linked from Sipping Lemonade site)
Grab a tissue...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


So nowadays if you want to take your kids out of the country, they each have to have their own passport, even little babies!  Nowadays you can also take your own passport photo.

We are planning on going to Mexico in August... Here's our first attempt at getting an acceptable passport photo of Penny.  

We'll try again another day. 
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Five Things I Couldn't Live Without: The 6-9 Months Edition

1. Get In My Mouth
The Product: Mesh Feeder / Teether (I like this one from Sassy)
Where we got it: It was a shower gift, a brilliant gift.
What it's for:  You put food in it for baby to chew on, and they get to experience the taste (and the teething relief) but they won't choke on the food!
Why I love it: Penny has used it for apples, pears, cucumber, frozen blueberries (GREAT for teething, watch out they stain), you name it.  It gives her control over her eating experience and I don't have to worry about her choking.  It also keeps Penny occupied and happy so I can get something done!

2. Safe Stand-up Spot
The Product: Go-Pod by KidCo
Where we got it: A gift, registered for on Amazon.
What it is:  A portable activity center that folds like a camping chair.
Why I love it: Unlike bouncers and saucers and other big bulky gadgets, this thing folds up and can go with you anywhere (including through standard doorways within your house).  It's really well made and I use it in the house, on the porch, camping, up at the cabin...  A great thing to have.

3. Teething Necklace
The Product: Chewbeads
Where I got it: Amazon
What it is:  A chewable necklace that's safe for baby and looks great on mama.
Why I love it: It keeps Penny busy while I'm holding her or nursing her, especially in public.  She can't drop it (because it's attached to me) and I also think it's super cute!  I have a red one but they come in tons of colors and styles.  Oh, also, you can just wash it in the sink... super easy.

4. Cheerios
The Product: The one and only...
Where we got it: your local grocery store
What it is:  cereal.
Why I love it: I introduced Penny to Cheerios the same way my mom introduced me to cheerios... around the edge of the coffee table to practice her cruising, keep her busy, and give her a little snack.  I feel safe with her eating Cheerios even at this age because they have a hole in them so even if one were to go to the back of her sweet little throat (which it hasn't yet) she could still breathe... plus they are very gummable and dissolve pretty quickly.  The dogs love them too which means I don't have to clean up...  An affordable alternative to the trendy "puffs" that all the cool babies like (which we also have in the house, but use as a novelty).  Maybe Penny likes them so much because I ate them like CRAZY throughout my pregnancy, I craved them probably five times a week when she was growing in my belly!

5. Brim's Out
The Product: Sun hat by iPlay.
Where we got it: Amazon, I saw a fellow new-mama's daughter wearing the same one in a Facebook photo and asked her where she got it -- so glad I did.
What it is:  a hat.
Why it's a must: Especially in Arizona, but really anywhere you're gonna have baby outside, you gotta protect that sweet face and eyes from the beaming sun.  And at 6+ months, baby wants to be outside, a lot.  The under-chin tie is key, and this one is also light-weight and easy to wash and does well in the pool.

Honorable mention

Board books.  Reading to your kids is great, we try to read to Penny every night.  In case you haven't learned yet, paper books are not safe with a baby this age.  I love board books.  Our two favorites for this stage are
Go Dogs Go, the board book version; and I Kissed The Baby.

Baby Bullet. I would have included this in my top five, but I already wrote a pretty extensive product review of this baby food system here

Video monitor.  We moved her to her own bedroom right around 6 months.... and it's soooo farrrrrrrrr from our room!  I love being able to look at her while she's sleeping.  We like ours by Summer Infant.

Kitchen containers of all kinds (Water bottles, tupperware, plastic pitchers, big movie cups, red cups, small cups, pots, you get the idea...).  Sometimes all the coolest toys in the world just don't compare to the stuff you already have in the house.

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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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy Lathering

I don't know why but sunscreen is one of the things that make me the most nervous about having a little baby in Arizona.  I guess I must have repressed memories about getting sunscreen in my eyes as a little kid.  I just don't like sunscreen and I don't like the thought of putting it on my baby!  BUT.... I must.

So... I want to make sure I am putting the right stuff on her precious little skin, but the optionitis is a little overwhelming.  Thanks to my mama's group, I learned about this organization that rates sunscreens based on the ingredients' safety for our skin.  It's call the EWG and they publish a sunscreen guide every year.

(if you don't want to purchase the guide, you can just peruse the "Best Sunscreens" link at the top of the page)

From seasoned friends with babies and little kids, the two favorites I keep hearing about are California Baby and Badger.  So that's what I'll be looking for on my grocery trip to Sprouts this afternoon.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Madness: WAHM's... tell me your secrets

Mondays have changed a bit around the Griffin house these last couple weeks.

I look back to when I first went back to work and Penny was sleeping 2-3 hours at a time about three times a day and my biggest "juggling" on Mondays was trying to do my work, make sure I ate a meal or two and maybe trying to get a nap in myself.  Oh and I could wear Penny in a wrap pretty much all day.  Pfwuhh.  That wasn't juggling!  

I still get to work from home on Mondays [it's a real blessing, really], but now on top of Penelope being a seriously curious crawler, Dan is home too during the week now [hopefully will be starting a new job soon, thank you all for your prayers and encouragement] so it has become super tough for me to stay focused, or sometimes just get one little thing done without being interrupted.

Penny wants to play.  Or nurse.  Or climb something.  Or bang something against something else. Or just cuddle her mama.  Laundry calls to me.  Dishes call to me.  Catching up on [personal] emails and finances and Amazon subscribe-and-save subscriptions and other computer things calls to me.  Then on top of it, Dan is home... which in a very huge way enables me to get more work done because he can watch Penny for large chunks of time.  But in a very huge way, it's a distraction.  He's a temptation.  Hanging out with him in the quiet time of Penny's nap calls to me [who wouldn't want to just hang out with their husband during the day?]  Running an errand because he can watch her calls to me.  Going somewhere as a family because we CAN calls to me.  Taking a jillion photos of him interacting with her as they play calls to me [because you don't event realize how much you love your husband until you see him being a daddy to your kid].  Plus Dan and I often must take turns using the computer.  He also has job interviews or job-related phone calls that cause him to need perfect quiet on a second's notice.  You get the idea.  It's a little nuts.

I would love some advice from other Work-at-Home-Moms with young children [especially other women who are accountable to an outside employer]... how do you do it?  What are your tricks?  I am lucky to have a flexible schedule where I do not need to put in a full 8 hours every day of the week... but what if I did?   I can't imagine logging 8 hours of work in a day at home now that Penelope is up and at'em, but I know there are women who do it every day!   I want to hear from you!  Maybe in the comments?

This also makes me think about how our life is changing as Penelope changes.  Our schedule, our plans, what we're capable of [eating dinner as a family] and not-so capable of [watching a movie while she's awake] and how that's going to continue to make us evolve.  So much uncharted territory.

Probably going to have to start getting up earlier.  [groan]
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