Wednesday, July 31, 2013

One Year of Motherhood

One year a family of three.  Stuff I've learned:

-How to do stuff with one hand. I can make a sandwich, dry myself off after a shower, put makeup on, type and perform other basic computer functions, open a single-serving yogurt container, cut up a banana or peach or apple, unlock and load things into the car, and feed the dogs... with a baby on my hip. 

-The importance of relating to other moms. For me not so much talking to "seasoned" moms, but being in community with moms who are in the trenches, going through the same things I am, with babies and kids around for the same age as my own.  Especially other first time moms.  When I was growing up I always thought it was kind of weird that my mom's best friends were pretty much my best friends' moms -- totally get it now.  If you're a new mom too and you've met me within the last year... thank you for being in my life. [and thanks for reading, P.S.]

-Stuff gets dirty. You might remember my post quite a few months back about needing to wash the sheets. Well, that has pretty much translated to needing to wash the whole house.  

-Nothing works for everyone. Every child is different. Every week is different.  But I read it on the internet that so and so's baby did such and such.....  I had to learn to curb my control-freak instincts and move into a place of flexibility and compromise.  I expect this to only grow.  I also have had to learn not to compare myself to other moms with other kids, or compare other kids to my own.  Sleep schedules, eating habits, sizes, milestones, there is so much variation!

-Quality time with your husband is important.  We don't have this down pat, but I really recognize the value of the quality time when it comes.  It is so difficult to find time in our crazy life to stop everything else and just be with each other. and when we do, it is so hard to turn out the mental distractions and to-do lists.   I know couples who go on date nights on a regular basis and it really works for them. Maybe someday we will establish a routine and a rhythm in our family that allows us this.  I confess that time and task management are the most difficult areas of our lives.  There's so much we want to do and so little time to do it. Says the girl who is blogging instead of writing today's share of the birthday party thank you notes.  [the birthday party was amazing btw... can't wait to share pictures next week!]

-We want more, we want more.  Like, you really like it, you want more.  When Penny was a newborn and people would be all like "so when do you think you'll have another one?" -- I'd be all like "You're talkin crazy right now."  And then my sister-in-law told me that you don't start having the urge to have more babies until your "baby" is capable of crawling or running away from you... that's when your arms start to ache with newborn-emptiness.  Well, I get it.  I'm not saying we are or aren't getting back on the train again any time soon, I'm just saying I get it.  I want more.

-Being a mom doesn't make you a chef overnight. I thought it might. To my husband's unspoken dismay, the only extended cooking I have done has been learning how to steam vegetables, and making more desserts for parties. I still hate the thought of touching raw meat, especially chicken.  And as long as I am working outside the home, I don't foresee myself becoming a daily cook any time soon.  But never say never.

-I'm not a good gardener, either.  From oversight I starve my plants.  I first potted plants and flowers to adorn our patio before we had dogs, before we had baby.  Life was so simple then.  Those flowers and my little volleyball team were the only things in life that needed my nurturing.  I tended to them so lovingly because I so wanted something to nurture [a.k.a. my ovaries were hollering].  Since then we have potted flowers every season to keep things looking fresh, but they die sooner and sooner now every time.  Neglect.  Baby trumps Dogs, Dogs trump Potted Plants.  This might not be the equation in everyone's home, but so it is at the Griffin residence.  Sorry plants.  I won't kill any more of your kin by starvation, we'll only plant more of you if/when we have a drip system in place for your pots.

-Time flies, take video! Pictures are awesome but video captures your baby and your life in a way that a photo just can't.  Sometimes I might go read old posts on my blog, or look at older photographs of Penelope and me and I can't even remember what it felt like to be in that stage of motherhood.  Video is the best way to be reminded of the way she was.

In true milestone form, the week of Penny's first birthday we bought and installed her next car seat.  The convertible.  It's big. And bulky. And she can't be carried around in it like she could her bucket -- I miss that already.  As I read the Britax manual, I thought gosh this is so much more complicated than the last car seat.  More complicated indeed.  Cheers to this next car seat, and this new year of parenting.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

All I Really Need

I got Penny ready for bed tonight. Usually Dan does the bedtime routine, but tonight I got to.  After all the hard stuff was done, in the dark quiet of her room, I sang to her a Raffi tune that's been in my head since I heard it Thursday afternoon when I picked her up from my mom's house (my mom still has all the old Raffi cassette tapes. Yes, I said cassette tapes. And a cassette player to play them with.)

All I really need
Is a song in my heart,
Food in my belly
And love in my family. 

How true it is. 

I have been so wrapped up in party planning this week that I haven't stopped long enough to get emotional.  But tonight, I sure did.

As I laid her in her crib, already asleep from my peaceful swaying, I realized I had just held Penelope Jane for the last time before she is a big one-year-old. 

I cried in gratitude, then carried on with the preparations. 

Happy almost-birthday, little one. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Feeding my family a tasty Costco Rotisserie Chicken.  Actually, technically, Dan is feeding it to us because he picked it up.  This is how we roll most week nights. 

Reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan.  I am not a big reader (not that I don't value reading, it's just not how I spend much time, unfortunately) but on our recent trip to California, Dan busted this out on audio book for us both to listen to.  Thank you and literary-aficionado husband for introducing me to this gem! It's like a nerdy quirky techy Dan Brown, with more charm and no theological controversy.  Loving it.

Conceding [concede: to admit that something is true or valid after first denying or resisting it] that coconut milk does have some good uses, and kale is good in smoothies. Julie 0, Dan 2.

Needing a massage. I know, cry you a river. But I'm achy!  Especially first thing in the mornings, I feel like I walk like an old lady for the first few minutes after I get up.

Gearing up for ...after this coming weekend's birthday festivities, Dan and I are tackling two projects next week: (8) orders for Growth Chart Rulers, and one special project for my sister's college residence room.  Is my sister really leaving for college again already? I feel like she just got home for summer.

Procrastinating Dentist. Optometrist.  

Thankful for my amazing friend, Jordan McBride, who swooped in with fantastic ideas and eagerness to take the reigns on Penny's birthday planning.  Please check her out: [She's got all kinds of resources I wish I would have had when I planned my wedding.]  She's so much fun to work with, I am so grateful that we reconnected after eleven years (yes... we've been out of high school for that long...). We've got a few fun things in store that I will share over the next couple days over various social media outlets, and stay tuned in early August for fun party photos!

Laughing about my mom sent me this photo today while I was at work:  

So many great things going on here... The blurry face, the old tennis shoes, the naughty act she would never get away with at our house...  

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

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Little Girl

Yesterday afternoon, I shared the waiting room at my gynecologist's office with a beaming young dad holding his new baby, while mom was presumably in for a checkup.

"How old is your baby?" I asked. 

"Six weeks," he said with a smile. 

Ahhh of course, the six-week full-system check. 

"He's so sweet." I focused on his meticulous tiny fingers and delighted in his infant grunts.  "My little girl is turning one on Sunday," I volunteered.

My little girl.  It just came out. 

"Oh wow, I bet it's flown by," young dad responded. 

I raised my eyebrows and shook my head 'yes'.  He has no idea. 

"My little girl"?? What happened to "my baby"? My baby is turning one on Sunday. 

As I gazed longingly at little stranger six-week-old, it became more and more real that my baby ain't no baby anymore.  My Freudian slip was from my brain. She is a little girl. 

My little girl has hair in the back of her head just long enough to crease at her neck.  She can give hugs and sometimes kisses and she reads books all by herself.

My little girl cries when she bumps her head, and she bumps her head a lot because she loves to climb things that aren't met for climbing and wiggle under things that aren't met for wiggling. 

My little girl is capable if clearing out her grandma's entire tupperware cabinet in about two minutes. 

My little girl spent last Friday and Saturday at the beach, wearing a big hat, digging in the sand, splashing salt water, pointing at seagulls. She played so hard that she crashed out and took a two-hour nap under Nana and Papa's giant beach umbrella.  Passing out after playing too hard... that's a toddler thing.  A little girl thing. 

My baby girl, my daughter, is a kid.

"Is he your first?" (I already knew)

"Yeah," proudly. 

Then stranger mom came out to join her family so they could hit the road.  She had a familiar tired glow to her face, and the same belly pouch that I have yet to shed.  Her six-week appointment had gone well. Everything was going well. They were exhausted and elated at the same time. 

"Well, congratulations. You guys have so much to look forward to." I offered with utmost sincerity. 

Off they went.  And on I went, in the door to the back for my own full-system check, one year later. 

So much to look forward to. 

Photos from our first family trip to Carpinteria State Beach, 
a sacred destination of all the ages in Daniel's family, 
and home of many memories indeed.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

To the Beach

Filled the dogs' water, Do you think we'll have enough pillows?, traffic at the downtown tunnel, trucks passing, sunflower seeds and peanut butter M&MS, I drive : Taylor Swift, he drives :, so much drool, gas in Blythe, Winnie the Pooh, Puffs, windmills, dinner near Palm Springs, signs for Cal Lutheran, the grade, sleeping baby, Oxnard strawberries, my band used to practice here, surf spot... 

...almost there!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Losing Weight - from 2010

I just stumbled upon this how-to composition I wrote a while back, before I started becoming Julie Griffin.  Today, as I find myself in a constant state of hunger, yet minor irritation with my current weight and body shape, reading this blast from the past written by the 2010 version of myself was a little bit inspiring.

I think I can I think I can I think I can...

Written in March 2010, coincidentally eight days before I met my husband:


I'll start at the beginning. Last summer (2009) I hurt my back. Some of you may have been in the loop about the ever-mysterious and now-humorous "incident" that sent me to the Scottsdale Osborn Emergency Room one Thursday morning last July... undoubtedly the most influential experience I'll ever have in a bathroom stall at work...

A week on the couch, lots of muscle relaxers, eight weeks of unsuccessful therapy, and one MRI later, verdict: a disc bulge to the left of my L5/sacroiliac. Validation of the nagging hip and lower back pain I'd been experiencing for the last few years. The probable cause: a combination of a few too many right ankle sprains over the years, the constant twisting motion of serving a volleyball, and of course genetics (seen my dad's lower back x-rays?)

After the incident, any coworker walking the long hallway with me would no longer struggle to keep up with me, as I was suddenly the slowest walker I knew.  I was forbidden from strenuous activity, including things like carrying a heavy purse (my purse "strenuously heavy"? seriously?). I lived in constant fear that my back could go out again at any moment, afraid to lean across my car to retrieve something from the glove box lest the twisting motion aggravate my lumbar. I remember asking a friend for help carrying a laundry basket from my room to the washer. Discouraging... but I knew I just needed to have patience and a little faith in the healing process.

Anyway, through all this back stuff, my lifestyle instantly became sedentary.  The holidays didn't help... And so I gained a little weight. "A little" being enough that my favorite jeans wouldn't zip, enough that I didn't want to pose in photographs unless certain areas were covered. I trusted the healing process, but my new extra layer was more than I was comfortable with. I just didn't feel like myself.

By January my back was getting better thanks to a new course of physical therapy (Thanks Bill and Katie and everyone at BNA!). And so it was time to face how out of shape I had gotten and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, while still treating my back delicately, of course.

I got a pretty sweet scale for Christmas (amazing the toys that are exciting to adults on Christmas morning). Holding my breath with a wince I took it out of the box, placed it on my cold bathroom floor, and then weighed myself every morning in the month of January. I changed nothing about my lifestyle yet, just wrote it down. Every day. It became real. So all through January I mentally prepared myself and got excited about the prospect of zipping up my favorite jeans. I got amped to see that number go down. 

February 1st I started my shedding plan. I knew I would be unable to go back to my old active lifestyle as I'm not allowed to run or even do yoga yet, so I would have to go about this strategically. I would, for the first time in my life, follow the simple formula:

Calories consumed > Calories burned = weight gain. Calories burned > Calories consumed = weight loss.

Moderate, healthy pace; a slight increase in activity, a slight decrease in intake. It was fool proof.

Since then, I have lost 11.5 pounds. 

Here's how: 

A top ten list of my unprofessional, unrequested, all-original tips to anyone else who might be daydreaming about shedding a few too.

1. GEAR UP and READ UP. Familiarize yourself with terms like BMI (Body Mass Index) and Recommended Daily Values (Nutrition). Educate yourself on portion sizes. Get yourself some multi-vitamin and some comfortable walking shoes. 

2. SET A REALISTIC GOAL in a realistic amount of time. Don't go all crazy "I have to loose ten pounds in a week." My goal was/is 1.5 lbs a week. This equals burning about 750 more calories than I consume every day, which has been surprisingly easy.

3. MOVE MORE. My favorite ways of doing this include: parking farther away; walking around in circles when I'm on the phone; doing mini desk push ups when I'm listening in on a conference call; having a personal dance party while I'm doing laundry. WALK. A lot. Amazing how many calories you burn just walking. Get a cheap pedometer and try for 10,000 steps a day.

4. KEEP TRACK. Whether it's through an online program (I got a Bodybugg -- love it) or it means that you keep a journal, write down everything you do and everything you eat. Don't dread it or fear it, instead consider it documentation of how awesome you are at taking care of your body. Maybe title it "my awesome healthy body journal" and draw a big smiley face on the first page.

5. DON'T "DIET". Ugh I very strongly dislike that word "diet"! MAKE CHOICES. If you choose to eat something you would consider "bad", write it down anyway. I'm not going to trick my body into thinking it didn't just consume that triple scoop from Gelato Spot just because I didn't document it. I have found ways to work in the "bad" foods that I love. Choose to eliminate some high calorie foods that you know you can live without, in order to make room for your favorite high calorie items. For me, I can live without cheese, mayo, butter, salad dressing, booze, fried stuff, bread, chips, stuff in the snack bowl on so-and-so's desk at work -- these things aren't "bad" they are just expendable to me. Making these choices has enabled me enough calories in my budget to include my regular trips to fro-yo, amazing 2pm chocolate chip cookies at the cafeteria at work, and of course lots and lots of junior mints... without throwing a wrench in the whole shedding process.

6. GROCERY SHOP. It helps with the whole "make choices" thing. (This one may be second nature to some people but I'm always on-the-go so grocery shopping has always been more of a chore than a past time of mine. Now it's kind of fun.)

7. (Follow up to #4)(In times when you're not eating groceries) FYI so far it turns out that nutrition facts were available online for about 90% of the restaurants that I have eaten at since I started my shedding efforts. For me this has included Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Chipotle, Chili's, Noodle Company, Subway, Mojo Yogurt, Golden Spoon, and others. You just have to search. 

8. At restaurants, don't be afraid to be high maintenance. Your meal is YOUR CHOICE. Ask for no cheese, dressing on the side, extra veggies. Ask for a cup of strawberries at dessert time even if it's not on the menu, I'll bet they'll make it for you. Order off the kid's menu even if you aren't twelve, I've never had anyone turn me away. (I highly recommend the kid's menu at Chipotle and Subway especially. I'm hooked. You get smaller portion, and it comes with milk and a toy!!)

9. FRESH FRUITS/VEGGIES ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Eat them. I pop blueberries and strawberries into my mouth like candy. SOUP IS YOUR FRIEND. (read the label of course). There are lots of soups that are super yummy and have lots of veggies and protein... and a big ol' bowl of soup for lunch instead of a sandwich might be a 300-500 calorie difference depending how you like your sandwiches. And soup is easy to make. Spoon, check. Bowl, check, Microwave, check. Brainless really.

10. DON'T OBSESS. Live your life. If you loose extra weight one week, yay for you. If you don't loose any weight the next week, just keep on keepin' on. Employ these virtues: Prudence. Temperance. Obedience. Patience. Faith. 

Of all the times throughout my life where I have "lost weight", this is the first time I have done it the right way. I know some of my friends are in that place of wanting to lose a few but just haven't done it yet. If that's you, and you're still reading this lengthy note, give me a call and I'd be happy to share with you some other resources I've stumbled across along the way. I've got a few more to go but I'm feeling like myself again already!!


Thanks past self.  Now can you tell me how to pull this off while breastfeeding?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ordinary Day (Knock on Wood)

Last night we came down from fun business in the northern Arizona woods.  It was a wonderful weekend of celebration (my cousin's wedding, yay) and extended family time.    

[ABOVE: Penny's first dance moves, learnin' from the best, sweet Addison and Daddy. 
BELOW: my cousins on my dad's side... missing a handful.  Love my big family!]

This also meant extra car-seat time, dressing up, being passed around, and lots of new stimuli for my almost-one year old (like a dance floor).  Her demeanor was fantastic, but I could tell the whole weekend that she was a little bit overwhelmed and exhausted.  Read: the kid basically didn't sleep.

Back in the Valley of the Sun, today I found it more endearing than ever when she fell asleep naked in my arms after a morning shower.  Dan handed her to me dripping wet, I took her in my arms and started to dry her off and konk went her head on my shoulder.  No diaper, no pacifier.  She konked so hard that I was able to put a diaper on her, pick her back up, carry her downstairs to her room and put her in her crib.

That was at 9:30. She slept for nearly two hours.  It made me feel like I have a "good" napper for a baby.  I got so much work done.  It was awesome.

When she woke up, she played for about an hour [pooped twice] and then I decided we needed to get out of he house, so we went to the Dollar Tree to get a few things for her birthday party.  Streamers, straws, and about 20 other items NOT for the party... have you ever been to the dollar store and not bought something you didn't plan on buying?

After that, we enjoyed a fresh-made sandwich at Sprouts and picked up a few groceries at Sprouts.

She fell asleep again on the way home.  Again no pacifier (that's how I know she's really tired) and no fuss.  When we got home I was able to transition her to her crib again.... and she napped for an hour and a half.  Again. Yes! I am the best mom ever!!  I got so much work done.  It was awesome.

This must be what it feels like to have a normal schedule and be at home every day.  Best Monday Ever.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thick and Thin

What makes a best friend?

Certainly not having everything in common, not how often you see one another, or the things you do together. 

I have a best friend.  From high school. We never had a class together and we barely ever hung out outside of school.  

Other than both being good students and attending the same church, we were polar opposites back then.   At 17 when she talked about wanting a tattoo, I remember telling her if she wanted to be in my wedding it better be below the shoulder so it wouldn't show in pictures, and her getting really mad at me. As though our weddings were so imminent and tattoos were so bad.  Following suit, I later ended up getting a tattoo in college, P.S. 

Our connection was not founded on shared interests or social conquests. It was this: we were not always thriving, but surviving life as teenagers, simultaneously, and we were always available to one another. 

This girl right here is my friend from all the ages.  Ages of good and bad decisions, identity crises, prep school drama, boys and the corresponding life-shattering heartaches, exploring rebellion, being chubby and being too thin, and a bunch of other stuff -- we've seen it all. This girl was my kindred spirit in yearning to have babies at an unusually young age. In pouring heart and soul into relationships with boys who were not meant to be our husbands.  Kindred in being there for the other one when it got really hard, and never saying I told you so.  

Now here we are in our late twenties, not exploring rebellion or courtships, but turning over new leafs called marriage and motherhood. 

After some coaxing them [ok pretty much insisting they let me], I had the privilege of photographing Nicole and her husband at 35 weeks preggo. 

Look at the beauty. I cannot wait to meet their baby boy. 

Seeing a girl I've known through thick and thin marry a good man and grow life in her belly is one of the most joyous things I've ever experienced.  

We are living the dream we had when we were school girls.  We've made it to the other side.

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[Update: It's a boy! Photos of sweet baby Jack can be found on my photography galleries page]

Friday, July 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Present

Five Minute Friday

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

This entry will not be a demonstration of any kind of philosophical or existential profundity that the homograph "present" might invite... No, it's a cry for help! I say this facetiously, but no, really... Help me mamas!

Here goes...


In college I took an Intro to Sociology class and one of the assignments was to give two oral presentations to the class over the course of the semester, summarizing an article from this random sociology compilation book we had.  Each student drew articles on which they would deliver their presentations out of a hat.  I pulled "The Sociology and De-sexualization of the Gynecological Exam" and "The Social Norms of Gift Giving."

The former was actually quite thought-provoking [and super awkward to present to the class].  But that's not relevant to today's topic.

The latter was interesting enough... and brings me to this month's insecurity for me:
The expectation of gift giving (or not) at my daughter's upcoming first birthday party.

"Gifts" is not my Love Language, but I for one LOVE giving gifts to other people.  I get excited about it.  I want to tell them what it is before they open it.  I want them to open it right away.  I want to put my heart and soul into each gift whenever I can.

What I don't love is giving a gift to someone because I felt like I just had to.

As a new parent, I've thought about this quite a bit, anticipating party invitations for Penelope's little friends over the years.  What if she has lots of friends and lots of parties... Do I have to spend $20 bucks (or more?) on every kid?  cha-ching!  But I don't want her to be the one who always brings a crappy present.  I'm new at this.  How do you moms manage this in a graceful and loving way without going insane or breaking your bank?


The whole ritual of a child opening presents in front of everyone at his or her birthday party makes my stomach churn.  The materialism, the reactions, the discomfort when the recipient likes one thing more than another, the other kids wishing it would end, the party being centered around "things."  Am I off base here?

So cut to Penny's birthday preparations...

I learned in etiquette that you are never supposed to address the subject of gifts on a formal invitation (whether you don't want them, do want them, or what you want, etc), especially for weddings.


I get it, it's rude to "assume" people want to know if you want them to give you a gift or not.

But am I wrong that there's a little bit of a relief in seeing where someone is registered so you can buy them just what they wanted, or seeing a simple "No Gifts Please" in fine print at the bottom of an invite.

Expanding on that thought, my anxiety is this: I don't want anyone to come or not come to my sweet baby girl's birthday party (or any party I ever throw) with a notion about bringing a gift that makes them uncomfortable.  I don't want to encourage any kind of 'it's my birthday which means I get presents' mentality in my children.  I also don't want to discourage giving birthday gifts to my child to anyone who might want to love on her in that way.  And... we could use a few new things around here...

I didn't address it on the invitation, and I don't know what I would have written if I had.  I'm all over the place about this.

Am I overthinking?

What a ramble, my time is more than up.  Make that ten-minute-Friday.  Sorry, Lisa Jo.  What a hot mess my ratt-a-tatt-typing fingers are.

I'm hoping lots of wise mamas from FMF will rain down some comment wisdom and encouragement on this topic for this birthday-party rookie.  TGIF, and Much Obliged!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013


Scheming Penny's first birthday party.  It's not going to be Pinterest-worthy but it's going to be special for our family! What am I saying, I don't even do Pinterest.  I am most excited about the "baby play area" that I am going to put together in one of the rooms for the few little ones we will have in attendance, and about Penny eating her very first birthday cake (which I am going to make... dun dun duhhhhnnnnn....).  Oh and her party dress is oh so cute.  Pictures to come after the end of the month!

Deeming that Gap makes the best kid pajamas.  I recently used a Baby Gap gift card (thanks volleyball team!) to get Penny some much needed new pajamas and can I tell you, I am a believer!   I bought both the long- and short-sleeve versions of the non-footed zipper one-pieces, like these.  I don't think I'll ever go back to buttons and feet!  They are so incredibly soft and they fit so well.  And they have so many adorable prints... because baby pajamas should be cute!  Consider this a five-star review.

Dreaming about taking photos, capturing other people, professionally.  I don't have the training for it, or the equipment, but I sure do love taking pictures.  Heck, I love taking video too.  And editing it.  Maybe that's why I did that in college in a bit.  Electronic media is just so fun.  Maybe some day...

Beaming because of my dogs.  They are just good dogs.  I know we can't take all the credit because Goldendoodles are genetically well-mannered smart dogs... but I think we've done a pretty good job at being doggy parents.  Of course we cannot get complacent about disciplining them... they have their bouts of stubbornness and naughty behavior, but it makes me so proud with other people tell me, "wow, you've got really great dogs."  We get this a lot when we take them out and about or when people come over to our house, and it never gets old.  Oh, and speaking of the pups... Happy belated birthday to sweet Luna who turned 2 a few days ago!

Gearing up for my family's first trip to the beach with child.  I am not a beach person.  I don't dislike the beach, but I don't seek it out... especially now that I have a child who likes to play on the ground and eat everything she touches.  Did someone say sandy poop?  But, Dan's extended family goes to the beach every summer on a big [huge] camping trip and it's a huge tradition and it's really important to him and he's really important to me.  So I'm preparing... mentally for now, and I'll be packing this weekend.

Procrastinating see my last Currently post... yeah still haven't gone through my closet and dresser.

Thankful for my health.  Dan and I had a conversation Monday night, as I was considering eating ice cream after dinner, about how his grandfather ate ice cream every night and died of a heart attack in his early seventies.  I couldn't say the conversation went smoothly and that I felt all warm and fuzzy inside about it... but it did make me think [shhhh, don't tell my husband] and it did make me more conscious about my health and my spouse who wants me to be around for a very long time.

Laughing about this gem: Prancercise: Fitness Workout  No write-up needed.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't inspired.

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

Link it up in comments below if you've got a Currently Post to share today!  Or consider joining this super fun Thursday link-up:


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recipe: Cowboy Caviar

Looking for an alternative to bean dip or boring salsa? Tried and true for summer parties, my mom makes this amazing dip all the time. It's on a short list of recipes I know I can make without messing it up if I have to bring something to a potluck or party. The hardest part is the grocery shopping.  But most of you are probably better acquainted with grocery aisles than I...

Cowboy Caviar 

Solid Stuff:
1 can black beans or black-eyed peas
1 can shoepeg corn
1 avocado (cut into small blocks)
2/3 C chopped cilantro
2/3 C chopped green onions
2 chopped roma tomatoes

Instructions: mix them all together in a large bowl.

1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: blend in blender then pour on top of the stuff above. Stir it all together. Done!

Serve cold with tortilla chips. 

If you double the recipe you'll have enough for a-LOT of people, like, it's a party. When I double it, I use one can of black beans and one can of black-eyed peas to mix it up.  I also tend to throw in extra avocado if I have some.  And it's actually not that bad for you!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I think Penny is trying to say "mama" but it's coming out "baba." It's amazing how in the last week alone she is talking so differently. She is clearly trying desperately to say words and phrases. So far the only thing that has come out clearly enough for us to call it her first word has been "ball" -- referring to a ball. But I swear she's getting close with words like bubbles, splash, dogs, cup, and... mama (baba).  And she says "yeah" to pretty much any question you ask her.  This is so fun!!  I can't wait to write the one-year-old update in two and a half weeks!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Big Red

My parents have a collection of a few really cool old things. They've got a radio from the 1930's that picks up stations from all over the world, my grandmother's old sewing machine, a Motorola black and white "tube" television from the 1940's, to name a few.

I remember when Dad acquired this old truck from my grandpa's "farm."  It was probably originally light blue, but so beat up and overworked it had been rubbed down to a silvery gray.  It barely ran. Among all the Cole siblings, no one else wanted it.  It was junk. 

I remember when he fixed it up. My first visit to the auto salvage yard (a.k.a. the dump). He fixed up the engine and other guts.  He replaced the seat, put in seatbelts, re-wrapped the steering wheel, added a radio.  I got to program the pre-set stations on the analog radio using the very hard-to-push buttons. 

Dad hired a professional body guy to work out the dents and give it a fresh new coat of paint.  What a beaut.  Trash to treasure.

This vehicle is an icon of my childhood.

I remember talking to random truckers on the CB radio using the code name "Big Red" on the way home from running errands any given Saturday. 

I remember loading its bed up with a Christmas tree, a rubber raft bound for the lake, a large neighborhood garage sale purchase, kids for a slow spin around the cul-de-sac. 

I remember learning how to drive stick shift, and once jumping Big Red right into the corner of our house... oops.  It's still the only stick shift vehicle I have ever driven successfully... power steering just isn't my thing I guess.

Now this old truck lives in Flagstaff at my folks' place in the mountains. It barely made it up there, not able to run much faster than 50 miles per hour. It's great for moving things, or taking a spin around for some fresh air.  Kids love to climb it and play in the cabin.

There's something magical about a giant piece of machinery so old and so simple and so bright shiny red.  American made in 1958, it's going to live in our family forever.  So nostalgic for me to put my little girl in it to play on her very first Independence Day.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Au Naturale: A Follow Up [Fertility and NFP after baby]

In this post, I mean to share our story with regards to our choices, and to make us a resource for others who might be interested in exploring their fertility in a natural way.  I wanted to share this because I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about natural family planning, and I wanted to give testimony to something that I think is really wonderful.  Please don't call me granola.

What and Why?

I would define NFP (Natural Family Planning) as: "fertility awareness" as a way of life, and a rejection of unnatural forms of family planning such as hormonal birth control, barriers, surgical sterilization and others.

Why do us Griffins practice NFP?  Well, there's me, with my [sometimes controversial] theological convictions; to put it gracefully, my perspective is that healthy fertility is a gift and an example of how we were perfectly and wonderfully made, not a disease to be treated with medicines and surgeries.  I also had a horrible bout with hormonal birth control in an earlier season of my life and have become a huge opponent of "the pill" ever since I stopped taking it about 8 years ago [don't get me started]. I don't really like taking medicines at all, actually.  Then there's my almost-sorta-pseudo-hippie husband, who doesn't want his wife taking artificial hormones or introducing unnatural devices to her lady parts.  And he's cool with the all natural stuff, actually prefers it.  So it works for us. 

This natural way of life has been fairly easy for us and has been 100% accurate. We used the Sympto-Thermal method when we were first married and I felt it served us well and provided all the benefits to our marriage that we were promised in our classes.  Spousal communication, natural sex, no side effects of contraceptives, learning and knowing what my body is up to, and my husband knowing and loving me in all my "phases".  Also, we had confidence in its accuracy and our ability to live it out in our household.

I won't tell you that going au naturale in this way does or does not make or break our sex life, but I will say that man and wife both being fully aware of the natural fertility cycle of their marital union is a really beautiful thing.

Pregnancy and Thereafter

While we had always been open to new life entering our home, it was when we had been married about 9 months that we felt ready to actively pursue that whole procreation thing.

There was that part.  Then later, there was pregnancy.  Then even later, there was Penny.

That's when NFP got tricky.

We believe that God is the author of life and death, and that children are a gift, always. If He wants to give us another one when we aren't exactly expecting it, that's His prerogative.  On the other hand, we also wanted to be smart in respecting the time it will take for my uterus to fully heal from a Cesearean Birth, a.k.a. major abdominal surgery.  And let's be real here... there are very healthy and morally acceptable reasons to space out the ages of your children.  To put it plainly, we really didn't want to get pregnant again right away.

I had heard from other women that their periods did not come back until eight, nine, twelve months after they gave birth. So I'm thinking, how delightful, no period for a year and a half? Yes please!  You can imagine my surprise when I sensed that I had ovulated when Penny was 11 weeks old. Really, body?? fertile 11 weeks post partum? Sure enough, I got my period two weeks later and have been regular ever since.  [I had also heard that you can't get pregnant while breastfeeding -- not true P.S.]  

You can't really keep a good basal temp chart if you aren't sleeping consistently day by day... in other words I haven't used my basal thermometer in a year and a half.  Joke... but no seriously.  So it's been all about the "Sympto" part (symptoms) of the Sympto Thermal method, which can be a little rocky when you've got breastfeeding hormones in the mix.  Read: paying very close attention and writing things down before I forget anything I experience!   

In other words, diligence has taken on new meaning.  NFP has taken on a new personality in our house.

The Personal Stuff

While Dan and I are pretty much an open book about our marriage and all of its facets, I am staying away from posting anything too personal. Just not really thinking the world wide web needs in on conversations we might only have with very close friends.  Plus my mom and mother-in-law read my blog... pretty sure a post called "Sex after Baby" might make for some awkward moments.  [If you wanna get real real personal, have us over for dinner and make sure there's sangria involved.]

But it's no secret that having a baby changes a woman's body, making it like new, totally different in some ways.  I've said before that it wasn't until about 8 months after Penny was born that I felt like myself again in my body, like I was back to normal and up for a normal amount of activity. I think this recovery time is probably different for all women, maybe mine was extra long. Six weeks... you want me to do what??  For us, the communication habits and openness that we developed from going natural from the get-go really helped us [me] in the gradual transition.  

My husband cautioned me about coming across as self-congratulatory in a post on this topic, or promoting our "way of life" through rose-colored-glasses.  I hope that is not the case, but let me be clear.  We are not perfect, our sex life is far from perfect, our marriage is far from perfect, and NFP is not a cure-all for any of these things.  In fact, Dan hates referring to it as "NFP" like it's a "widely known brand or something," when really it's just knowing when you're fertile and not fertile, and having sex or not having sex during those times accordingly.  It's not rocket science and it's not that crazy and it's not gross.  Also, it's not always convenient.

But I think it's wonderful.   I think it's been one of the greatest things for our marriage and my body.  I'm on the bandwagon. I've drunk (drank?) the cool-aid, now I'm passing out the cool-aid.

Going all natural and learning any one method of Natural Family Planning is a wonderful option for couples who might feel stuck, or who might be having second thoughts about other family planning methods.  If you are interested in learning more about our experience, please reach out!  If you don't want to post here in the comments, you can email me using the link up there in the right, or send to juliejanuary [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bottom line: It can be done, and it does work.  Even after having a baby.

You might also like:
Au Naturale
Give me an N give me an F give me a P!
A Memory Story: Are We Pregnant?
I Choose You: Staying Connected After Baby

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