Monday, September 30, 2013

Penny Jane: Fourteen Months Old

snapshot of this phase: cheesy grin, holding half an apple that she's been carrying and
munching on for half an hour, sun hat and yellow crocs and play clothes,
exploring in the neighborhood all by herself. 

I have no clue how big she is (height and weight) but Penny has outgrown a few of her 12-mo sized outfits and is wearing mostly 12-18 month clothing.  Her little yellow Crocs (can't miss 'em in photos!) are starting to get a little bit tight, which makes me sad because that is the first pair of shoes I would say that she really got good use out of.  She's also been wearing her first pair of Toms, which are a size 4.  We really had a breakthrough with the whole shoe-wearing thing this month.  Can I get an amen.

It has been a couple months of firsts since my last Months-Old post, mostly involving mobility.  As you've probably heard, she's walking like a champ.  We had first steps, then as of 13-months her record was 10 wobbly steps in-a-row, and a couple weeks later she had become a full-time walker.  She also went down (and up) a slide for the very first time at the playground, and had her first rides on the swings.  Now that the weather is [sort of] nicer, we've been getting outside to play and explore a lot more.  She loves being outside and just today she actually went to her shoes and attempted to put them on herself, which tells me she wanted to go to the park because we always wear shoes (and a hat) to the park.  Adorable.

After months of experimenting with it, she learned drink out of a straw for the first time and during a couple weeks of regular juicing, she showed us that she loves fresh squeezed fruits and vegetables.  She can now take bites of things like my sandwich or an apple, without it being cut up for her -- this is a blessing (less cutting and chopping) and a curse (more in the mouth = choking hazard).

We've had a rough go with physical ailments these last couple months.  Penny was very sick with croup the week Dan was out of town, then I got sick.   Now we're all technically healthy but with autumn changes have come fall allergies, which have made both of us a little sneezy.  I pray her allergies are not like mine.  Also, my back went a little crazy and I am still recovering and rehabbing.  This back stuff has affected my day to day mothering skills in so many ways, especially the first week when I couldn't even pick her up.  Also in the physical ailment category, Penny had her first skinned knees and bruised elbows from playing outside, and her first (and hopefully last?) tumble down the stairs and first black-eyes from the coffee table.  Not my proudest motherhood moments.

One blessing (hashtag silver lining) of my back injury is that Penny has spent more time than usual at home during the day, resulting in our ability to have a little bit more routine in our life.  Very recently, she has actually become predictable in the nap department.  Ahhhh, it's so nice.  If she wakes up between 7:30am and 8:30am in the morning, I can count on her to crash out precisely 2.5 hours from her morning wakeup time, and then nap 2.5 or 3 hours.  If she sleeps in until 9am or later (yes, sometimes she sleeps super late!) I can count on her to be awake for 3-4 hours before crashing out for one solitary nap of the day.  So it's not exactly a perfect routine, but at least it's a start!  I think we are in that transitional phase between one and two naps a day, I guess they do that around this age.

We made the switch to the convertible car seat (soon after 12 months) and I soooo miss the infant bucket and it's portability from car to car (to stroller to house to grandma's car to wherever)... but we're adjusting.   She outgrew the bucket by length, not weight, our long little noodle.

She's saying words and phrases with meaning now, such as "uh oh" and "book" and "hat."   I think I got an "oh boy!" one time but I can't validate it.   Daaaaa-deee either means Daddy or Doggy, whoever is closer.  She sometimes now says "mumu" for me, but only when she either wants to nurse or is in distress, and never with the same enthusiasm as when she calls for her dad or her canines.  She's chattering a lot more, and sometimes she whispers to herself and she is going about her day.  I wish I knew what she was saying.   Oh, also, first use of sign language and waving (which I already shared here).

First temper tantrum(s).  Question: how do you not laugh when your toddler is throwing a temper tantrum?  It is hilarious... something small disappoints her and all of a sudden she lowers herself to the floor and lays her ear to the ground and whimpers, out of nowhere, as though it's an earthquake drill and I didn't hear the siren.  She's had a few full-on-scream-fest-snot-nosed-blotchy-faced-didn't-get-my-way tantrums, but she mostly does the whimper-for-a-minute kind.

She observes things that grownups do and has started putting my iPhone up to her ear and walking around the house like she's talking on it.  She also uses her mini loofah to pretend wash herself in the shower, and her hairbrush to pretend brush her hair, among other things.  I love all these signs of learning.  Dan taught her how to write with a pen on paper (oh boy).

She's developed a cheesy grin that she uses to make people laugh.  She also shakes her head back and forth quickly to demonstrate that she's "got the chills," of course waiting for a positive response from whoever is watching.

She still likes to cuddle, but not as often as she used to.  The moments of Penny snuggles are so precious and fleeting, I cherish them dearly.  Sometimes I try to hold on a little longer than she wants, and she uses force to push away from me.  I'm not ready for her to be pushing me away, but I suppose it's something I'm going to have to accept in so many ways over the years.

She also uses force to squirm away from diaper changes... it's bad.  In a few years ask me about the time she dipped her rice cake in her own poop during a struggle (don't worry, she didn't eat it).

I didn't feel like I had a toddler until this week.  I knew she was a toddler, technically, but she still felt like a baby to me until I observed one day as she ran to her ball pit, belly flopped into it, and then looked at me to see if I thought it was funny.   Toddler indeed.  What a joy.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

On Disappointing Things and Being a Grown Up

This morning I spent an hour preparing/cooking a meal for my family to eat for dinner tonight. A crock pot meal just like I made last night, this time with enough that I would be able to freeze some leftovers. Today was sweet potato and honey ginger chicken and I worked very hard making it.  I experimented. I had fun with the process.  I was proud of it. I was excited to smell it cooking and later share it with my husband. 

Those who know me well know that this is not something I do often, cook. And two days in a row touching raw chicken is like a world record.  So grown up of me.

After my preparations, I clasped my hands and rolled them with a grin on my face, then I took the crock pot to our garage (so the slow cooker doesn't heat up our whole house), to the same place as yesterday.  I plugged it in and turned it on, just like yesterday. 

I cleaned the kitchen.  

I was on a roll. 

Penny napped a long while, I stretched and iced my back and hung out with my nephews that had come from across the park to visit, then we had baby play group.  It was a good day.

Later I went to go stir my masterpiece for the first time and discovered.... a cold pot. 

The power strip was off.  

The meal I worked so hard to make had been sitting there, in the garage, growing bacteria for three and a half hours.  

Unbeknownst to me, Dan turned that power strip off last night when he was doing some things in the garage.  

I had to go for a drive I was so devastated. So mad at Dan for flipping off a switch that we have always left on, and without telling me -- didn't he know I was going to use it again and wouldn't think to check?? So mad at myself for not thinking to make sure the power strip was on -- why didn't I check?? What an idiot!  So mad at my breast-feeding hormones for making me so scatterbrained and forgetful all the time.  So mad at the distractions that put me in a hurry to go plug it in and move on to the next thing.  So mad at the crockpot for not having a light feature to let its user know that yes, it's turned on -- what kind of heated cooking device doesn't have a indication feature in place to let you know if it's on or off? (We're totally buying a new crock pot that has that feature, BTW). 

I was tempted to just cook it and pretend it never happened, but ultimately logic and good reasoning told me it wasn't worth the risk. This meal was not to be. 

Emptying that crock pot into a trash bag was one of the most disappointing things I've ever done.   It still smelled of fresh ginger and honey and brown sugar.  It would have been so delicious. 

I cried.

During my drive around town to collect my thoughts and avoid my toddler observing my adult tantrum, I came to understand that this was not anyone's fault (though arguably my own), it was just a quite unfortunate honest accident.  These can be the worst.  It's so much easier to blame others for our bummers.  

I'm still bummed out and I'm not cooking tonight.  But I'm not blaming anyone and I'm not angry anymore.  And I think arriving at that place could be more grown up than touching raw chicken.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mass Toy Cleaning

Penny is going to have a rockstar immune system, she eats shoes and dog toys. We love germs in our house and I don't mind if other kiddos bring theirs to our play room, I actually kind of like it.  Between hosting a baby play group and having 12+ kids over during our bible study any given week, there are plenty of children coming in contact with Penny's toys.  Germ-loving aside, it is good to give the high-traffic toys a good cleansing every once and a while, especially as we start to approach cold and flu season. 

White vinegar is my choice cleaner for things Penny may or may not put in her mouth. If I were just cleaning a Lego set or bucket of blocks, I might just do it in the sink... but I'm dealing with a bucket of toys plus roughly 400 pit balls, so I need to pull out the big guns (a.k.a. the bathtub)

Here's how we do:

Disinfecting Bubble Bath for Toys
  • 2 laundry baskets
  • 4-5 towels
  • Mild dish soap (same kind you would use to wash pacifiers, bottles, or breast pump parts)
  • White distilled vinegar (like half the bottle)
  • Bathtub with shower head
  • Bed or floor surface for drying

  • Not too many bubbles, just enough for a little sudsies. 
  • For stubborn toys that float (like the pit balls), use the hamper to dunk and soak them in large groups. Or stir the whole bath with a large toy beach shovel.
  • Dry everything on the bed: cover bed with towels, set up pillows and hampers around the edges, them dump toys in the middle and hand dry with extra towels. I also let them sit there with the overhead fan on high to make sure they were really dry before I returned them to their homes in the play room. 

I've heard you can also put some toys in the dishwasher, but I've never tried it.  What are your go-to routines for mass cleaning?

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Saw the Sign

Baby sign language is awesome.  If you've got a little bundle of joy, I highly recommend you incorporate them into your daily communication with him/her as soon as possible.  This website has all kinds of resources, and you can find lots of other information and testimonies online.

Don't be like me.  One of my biggest regrets in motherhood so far is not using more baby sign language, and not starting sooner.  I've been using the signs for "more" and "all done" halfway consistently since she was about 7-months-old, but that's about it.

I wasn't sure it would take, but this week Penny surprised me when she signed that she wanted "more" ice cream after her little bowl was empty.   Of course it would be ice cream that earned the first use of a baby sign, she's definitely my daughter. 

Just yesterday morning she signed to me that she was "all done" with breakfast and ready to get down from her eat seat.  She's been using "all done" ever since.  It's so glorious for her to be able to tell me that she's done instead of starting to kick or fuss or climb out of her seat by herself.

This week she's also been waving "hi" like it's her job and offering high-fives.  SUCH a fun age.

I think the most important thing during this time when Penny is really communicating with us is that we pay attention to her.  This might seem like it should go without saying... but baby communication is very subtle (until it turns into a tantrum) and it can be so easy to miss the cues and miss teaching opportunities.  I'm really trying to tune out distractions when I am with her, so I can deeply know her language and she can deeply trust that I am listening.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Back Again

My back is out. Dunzo. For you anatomy nerds out there, the problem harvested itself on the left side of the joint between my L5 and my sacrum. For you nontechnical folks, it feels like someone wedged a jagged brick right above and to the left of my butt crack and is stabbing me from it whenever I move. 

It's a repeat injury from about five years ago, this time brought about by the perfect storm of being completely out of shape, recovering from pregnancy and cesarean surgery, being under stress at work, wearing high heels twice in one week and riding a bike that didn't fit me.  At least that's my theory. 

The last time my back did this, I was able to take off work, pop some serious painkillers, and homestead on the couch watching made-for-TV movies for a week.  Then I participated in physical therapy with best-in-class therapists twice a week downtown at Barrow... for just short of a year.   

This time I don't have that kind of time or resources. I have a child and a husband. I have commitments to others. I have limited vacation time from work. The rehab, the inability to do every day things, the copays and billing insurance and tax paperwork. This just doesn't work for me!

How I took for granted being able to wash and dry my legs and feet, or get into a car without gut wrenching pain.  React quickly enough to save my toddler from bumping her face on the coffee table (twice) or falling down the stairs (worst moment ever, she's fine P.S.).  Wash a dish, carry a laundry basket. Sit at a computer for more than a short while.

Dan, I'm so sorry for all those times I could have cleaned up after myself but didn't.  

I never wanted anyone else to take care of my child for me, but at least before it was because I chose (sort of) to continue to work outside the home.  Now it's because I physically cannot adequately care for my busy baby by myself.  I hate schlepping her off to others. I hate that she has no routine because every day of the week is different for her.  I hate that when I am home with her I can't do the hands-on mom things I ought to be able to do with her. 

This all went down last Wednesday, and I'm not feeling any better yet.  I've been under the care of a great chiropractor and diligent in doing my stretches and icing.  It will just take time.

My biggest fear is that my back's healing process is going to outlast others' patience and ability to help.  Or that I'm going to injur it further trying to tough it out or prove that I can still do things. 

This is my rock bottom and my wake up call.  I know from before that I can get through this, I just wish it would be faster.

Penny attempting peek-a-boo with me
while I do low back stretches on the floor 


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Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

Click the icon for more information about this amazing exercise in writing and invitation to community!  Here goes...

 Five Minute Friday


She wandered in to the chapel in flannel pants and a hoodie sweatshirt, hair wet from the shower she had taken to wash off the day.  Usually she slept first then woke to an alarm clock for an Hour assigned this late, but tonight she'd been up all the time. Pacing, browsing, sorting... escaping.

Bible and yellow notepad in hand (she couldn't find her journal), she was right on time for one hour listening in silence.

2:58am.  She locked her car and made her way to the subtle door to enter the keycode. Turned her phone off and ducked inside.

An old man noticed her arrival with a glance over his shoulder and the pew, and got up to retire for the night.  She hadn't seen him here before.  "Hi, I'm here for the same reason," they both said with just a nod.  Changing of the guard.

Now on her knees, she closed her eyes, and soon began to weap.  And write.  And weap.  The yellow paper filled with scribbles of pleas and prayers and thanks and profundity. She, alone in the pews, was so close to Him.

The yellow paper to be kept forever, but a defining moment only she can cherish so.  She would grow into so many other things, but would hold onto this hour always.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Transparency vs. Impression Management

image credit
I'm going to hit you with a really weak analogy because it doubles as a funny anecdote:  If you can, try to remember a time of your life in school, probably circa long-division for most of us, when the math teacher would use an overhead projector and thin dry-erase markers to solve the problem du jour step-by-step for the class.  This was, of course, before iPads and PowerPoint and Smart Boards and online textbooks.

What I remember about this smudgy getup was how not only were the written numbers and symbols projected up onto the roll-down screen, but anything else that came close to the hot hot light, like the silhouettte of a teacher's wristwatch, would be visible too.  I remember one particular math teacher who had distractingly long wrist and arm hair, magnified every day during pre-algebra.  Such hairy arms. [The irony was that this teacher shaved his legs but not his arms. The leg-shaving was the topic of many sophomoric make-fun-of-the-teacher-so-we-feel-cool chuckles. Little did we know he was a very successful triathlete, thus the leg-shaving.  He was a bigger badass than most of us would ever become... but what did we know...  I digress.]

After Dan asked me the other day to recap for him why I blog (a topic I've not chosen to write about, specifically because it makes me feel like I'll sound self-important). And I started thinking about transparency.

A little about me:
Back when Myspace was huge (before Facebook), I also happened to be in counseling, going through a pretty rough patch in my personal life [thus the counseling].  Many people in my life might not have known about this because I was a Master Impression Manager.  Myspace and Instant Messenger made it super easy, as the world only got the impression of me that I wanted them to, based on what I displayed on my little corner of the world wide web.

Telling myself the truth, unmasking and being vulnerable to other people were frequent themes throughout my counseling journey.  Even today the perfectionist in me is tempted toward impression management, especially made so easy with social media and blogging -- people only see what you post -- it's like taking candy from a baby.   Even though I like to think I've come a long way in my perfectionism, I might dwell and dwell over what I will write or share, trying to make sure I show the perfect balance of privacy and vulnerability -- which is a perfectionistic tactic all on its own.  It can be exhausting.

Transparency exposes all, without guile or concealment.

To strive for complete transparency in blogging (or 'gramming or 'booking) might prove to be a disservice to one's personal relationships.  I read this one blog sometimes (a popular one, relatively speaking), that is addictive like a modern soap opera.  The posts unfold like pages turning in a really good novel, and the writer shares it all.  She is so open and so honest, you feel like she's your best friend and you're her personal cheerleader (and so does everybody else, as evidenced by the comments).  I love her writing style.  But then I find myself thinking... ummm... does your baby daddy know that you're writing all this? 'Cause I'm pretty sure having this much information about my family on the Internet would ruin my marriage.

On the converse, to run from any level of transparency (read: posting only the good stuff) might prove to be a disservice to one's readers, and a sell-out on authenticity.  It's easy to read someone's blog with beautiful [edited] photos, and chronicles of big accomplishments and completed projects, and think: I suck at life.  I know this to be true because I do it all the time.  There are a handful of blogs that I look to for inspiration and ideas, and a handful that I look to -- repeatedly -- that just make me feel bad about myself.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  I hope my blog never ever ever makes anyone feel bad about themselves, like ever.  

Balancing Act
I don't like to use my blog to ventilate my marital quarrels, or the deepest of my personal issues, or family-of-origin baggage.  But I've got them.  All kinds.

It's important to acknowledge how imperfect we are.  I do think it's possible to maintain an authentic online identity without exposing or exploiting every detail of your life (or the people).  I think it's perfectly healthy to have online cheerleaders from afar that you've never met in person AND friends from real life that never read your blog.

If our daily relationship with the world has been reduced to 160 carefully-chosen characters of tweet -- or what we blogged about, or which article we chose to 'share' or which meme we 'grammed -- we must be careful not to blame our shallow relationships on the inanimate venues for perpetuating this information, and instead take a look in the mirror.

Keeping Myself in Check
These are the gutcheck ground rules that I have for myself in pursuing authenticity on the blog (or social media venues).
  1. Do not complain about a friend or family member, especially my spouse, unless it's to confess my own err in complaining about them and turn it around to paint them in the best light. 
  2. Do not post things that I really actually only want one person in particular to see.  If I'm secretly thinking "oooh I hope so-and-so [usually someone from my past] reads this post," I might need to rethink the topic entirely. 
  3. Share only stories that are mine to tell.  Online gossip, even when vague or anonymous ("I've got a friend who..."), doesn't sit right. 
  4. Post at least one photo per week that is not edited, and not filtered in any way. Real life. Without the #reallife hash tag. 
The Benefits
I got such an outpouring of supportive comments and private messages, emails, phone calls after opening up last week about the not-so-pregnant experience I've had of late.  (P.S. Four additional negative pregnancy tests and five days later, I finally knew with certainty that I am not with child. longest. menstrual. cycle. ever.)  Some of this support came from complete strangers.  How many times do us self-proclaimed "writers" get to have our lives enriched by others all over the country, the world, because we chose to take a risk and share something vulnerable?

I think the internet is a pretty great thing.  Let's keep it real.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Local Love: The Cutting Board Cafe

Local. Organic. Yummy.

I met Krystal MacDonald casually in the breastfeeding support group that I have talked about a couple of times on the blog (P.S. her son William is one of the cutest little boys you'll ever see).  In the group, she always spoke knowledgeably when nutrition or cooking questions would come up, and then we learned it was because she is quite the health-foodie and also writes Fresh and Raw Blog, AND that she and her husband were in the process of opening a restaurant!

Even though we are not vegetarians in our fam (nor are we extremely committed to healthy eating), we love our veggies and I absolutely love supporting local/family businesses.  I couldn't wait to visit.  Cut to now, it's open, and Dan and I were able to go check it out this past weekend!

The place: The Cutting Board Bakery and Cafe
Location: Mesa, Arizona (On Power Rd between Baseline and Guadalupe)
What: Quaint bakery/cafe serving vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, whole foods -- and coffees too. 

The Cutting Board Cafe had its soft opening this month (September 2013) 
and I believe their Grand Opening is scheduled for early October.  

Sunday lunch ticket.

Setting: Simple/modern decor features cool colors on the walls, fresh plants as table center pieces, and a giant cutting board surface at the register counter and another one along the window for bar-stool seating.  They have ready-made baked goods for sale at the counter, as well as some local merch on shelves to the side (books and local basics).  The music playing was just the right volume, and just the right mood.

Food: I had the vedg-head sandwich (with no onion because onions aren't my thing), and Dan got the tacos duo.  Dan scarfed his down so fast that I didn't even get to taste the tacos, but he said they were delicious.  And my sandwich was so fresh and surprisingly filling, I felt like my body was saying "thank you" to me as I was eating it.  Dan also ordered a latte, which I didn't taste because I don't drink caffeine, but he said it was a good one.

My favorite part about our dining experience was the kids menu.  How wonderful to eat somewhere that has healthy options for kids!  Awesome!  Penny got the finger foods platter and it was perfect for her.

The tofu bits included in Penny's lunch were so delicious (of course I tasted it) that next time I think I want to order something with the tofu in it.  

trying tofu for the first time
that's a mouth full of tofu.  
checking out daddy's tacos. (by the end of lunch, her finger foods were "all gone!"

Future: In addition to ordering the tofu, I also look forward to going back for breakfast some time to try the baked goods and juices.  I predict this place will become a hub of activity for the clean eating community of the east valley.  As far as I know, the vegetarian scene is pretty lacking when you venture this far from downtown Phoenix, so this restaurant came just in time.  Krystal told me about some cool events they have in queue so keep an eye on their events page!  How exciting!

So, Hooray for the MacDonald Family.  If you go check it out, tell them I sent you :)

[P.S. I'm giddy... BJG is in the Top 25 on Top Baby Blogs... I've never been here before!  Thank you so much to all of you who are supporting Becoming Julie Griffin with your vote everyday!]  

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Your Daily Vote (and Penny Walks)

Top Baby Blogs has just done their quarterly (I think?) reset, which means we are back to zero, zip, nada, double donuts. 

Being ranked [somewhat] highly in the Top Baby Blogs directory means I get to tell my story to more people all over the place, and who knows what could come of it!

If you find yourself "liking" my posts on Facebook, or venturing over here to this little blog often, why not show your love with a vote for Becoming Julie Griffin every day?  It's just two clicks and I so appreciate the support!  Virtual hug coming at you...

You'll see this rectangular link: 
Vote Daily and Help Our Rank at Top Baby Blogs!
conveniently located at the bottom of most of my posts, 
or you can always use the button up there on the right.

Also, as of just yesterday this little blog had over 50,000 visits -- a milestone that thrills me and humbles me very much.  Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart to all my readers! 

P.S.  Penny is walking now, like full time.  Here is a snippet to prove it.  This mama is so proud! (don't mind the dishwasher in the background)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tips for Tips (Restaurants)

[Restaurant] Servers: this one's for you. 

Whether or not you like kids, families with toddlers and babies are going to come in from time to time.  Here's how to wow Mommy and Daddy, and probably increase your chances of a great tip.  

Interact with the little one(s) in a positive way. 
Comment on how cute he/she is.  Make eye contact with him/her, "hi sweetheart!".  Acknowledge that baby is there and make it seem like you are happy about it (even if you aren't). 

Be mindful that kids grab things... 
...when you are placing things on the table.  a.k.a. Don't put dad's miso soup right in front of the high chair or mom's hot fajita plate within reach of munchkin's precious hands.  This consideration goes a long way when parents have their hands full with an eagerly squirmy little one.

Pick up appetizers/salad/soup dishes faster... 
...than you normally would.  Empty dishes clutter a table and can be especially stressful for parents trying to manage a grabby lap child.

Be an advocate for the little eaters... 
...when you communicate with your kitchen staff.  

Anecdote 1: I often order steamed vegetables at restaurants with the intention of giving them to my kid, been doing this since she started on solids. I always ask for them to be extra steamed so they are soft enough to either mash, or for her to gnaw and swallow. I can always tell which servers represent my request to the kitchen, and which don't, by how the vegetables come out.  I tip accordingly. 

Anecdote 2: a few months ago, we were lunching at a local place [Joyride] here in Gilbert that had just had its grand opening. Not having ever been there before and with no kids' menu to reference, I wasn't sure of the best thing to order that I could share with Penny.  
When I asked for suggestions, the waitress asked me "how old is she?"  
I told her eleven months.  
"Ok -- wink at the baby -- I've got you covered."  
A few minutes later (before the grownups' food was even ready) she came out with a big plastic plate of avocado slices, finely shredded chicken breast, mild rice and diced tomato.  It was perfect, exactly what I would have asked the kitchen to make for my daughter.  
This above-and-beyond gesture made my dining experience fabulous, and scored her a huge tip. (and they charged me only $3 for a "side of chicken" which I thought was very reasonable).  The positive first impression of the service at this dining establishment has stayed with me. 

Act natural if mom is nursing. 
Don't gawk.  Nothing to see here.  

Don't let parents clean up crumbs and such.  
This one is huge for me.  Before we leave a restaurant, Dan always feels the need to clean the floor underneath the high chair or area where Penny had her food party.  I always feel like when we eat out, the cost for other people cleaning up after us is built in to the cost of the whole experience.  I promise you, the restaurant staff members that insist that he not worry about it, "No, don't do that, I've got it", always end up getting a better tip.

Like so many other things in life: attitude is everything. 

This post is dedicated to the awesome servers we've had around town. :)

Mommas out there: did I miss anything?  

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Sending you all over to this website and this post for information on how you can support a very special Daddy Daughter Dance event happening in two weeks for a family that is near and dear to my heart.  I can't write about it without breaking into tears so please just go check it out, and if your business (or you) has a service you'd like to provide to support this event, or product you could donate for the silent auction, please get in touch with the Kahlers directly.

Bending the bedtime routine quite a bit lately. For example, last night was Penny's first bike ride.  Keyword: night.  We've been researching and dwelling and researching some more about new and used bike trailers for weeks, and finally today we pulled the trigger and Dan picked up this beauty on super sale from REI.  Our best laid plans for an early-evening ride got delayed, and it was already 7:30pm when wheeled down the driveway.  Rode to dinner and afterward we stopped over at Aunt Becca and Uncle Shane's house to say hi and ultimately eat a bowl of ice cream [me, naturally].   Long story short, Penny was in bed at 10:30pm with no bath and no books.  As we rode home in the dark quiet of our neighborhood, Dan and I talked about how we won't have the flexibility to do stuff like this forever. Only-child Penny goes with the flow now, but some day we won't be able to get away with this kind of stuff.  Kinda like how we went to the movies all the time when I was pregnant.   Last night we were at the Lang Gang's house 'til wayyyy past bedtime as well.  There's always something.  Judge me all you want about babies and routines... but don't you kind of wish you went for a late night bike ride with your family tonight...

Ending our hypothetical planning for the design of our play room, and celebrating the fact that we got it done! And only one trip to Ikea too!!!  This living space is an example of me and Dan sharing a vision, meshing strengths and compromising weaknesses to create, together, something that turns out even better than either one of us thought it would.

Tending to new baby-proofing things around the house as they come up.  As of this weekend we now have a gate at the bottom of the stairs in additional to the one already installed at the top of the stairs.  This should make playgroup in the basement much more manageable. And we also now have a new rule in the house about keeping bathroom doors closed at all times because Penny has discovered toilet water.  I would have thought the dogs' giant water bowl in the pantry to be more tempting to a one-year-old, but nope. She likes toilets and trash cans.

Mending a blown-out-of-proportion discussion with my husband about whose fault it was that one of our cars is two months overdue for an emissions test and registration renewal.  Why do all the worst domestic discussion somehow involve the Motor Vehicle Division? [actually that's not a valid statement... I'm just so irrationally upset that we/I let this happen...].  I've got some 'splainin and some apologizing to do when the dust settles and it will come across as sincerely as I mean it to.

Gearing up for Fall!  Last night on our bike ride we got a hint of brisk wind that usually means its October; and this morning I just looked at all the scarfs in my closet and got excited knowing that it's not unrealistic for me to think I might get to wear one in the next month or so!  I can't wait until it's cool enough for boots!  [that means high of about 85 degrees here in Phoenix area]

Procrastinating getting my hair done. The grays coming through my roots are reeeee-diculous, but I just don't know when I'm going to get to go!  I set myself up for this when I started dying my hair again.  I've gotta call Kim and get on her schedule...

Thankful for our brave firefighters and all other first-responders who are at work 24/7 in my city, my state and my country to preserve our way of life here on the home front.  It just hit me that my children will not remember where they were on September 11, 2011; they will only learn about it in history books.    May we all keep our heroes and their families in our thoughts this 12th anniversary of the attacks that affected us all and changed history.

Laughing about Penny's confusion between humans and dogs.  She seems to think that what the doggie says (stick out your tongue and whisper "heh-heh-heh") is a universal greeting for all beings, human or animal.  It's adorable.  Oh, and Dan and I are watching season one of Arrested Development.  To tell you we are laughing about Arrested Development would be like saying that Apple announced a new product yesterday.

Inspiration for 'Currently' posts comes from Danielle over at Sometimes Sweet and Megan on tumblr. I don't know them personally, but hooray for the blogging community!

Link it up in the comments below if you've got a Currently Post to share this week!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not Pregnant

There it was. One pink line staring at me with its hand on its hip saying "told you, antsy pants, you're not pregnant."

I wouldn't say "we are trying," but we kind of went for it this month.  We got pregnant so easily with Penny in 2011 that I kind of thought maybe it would work out that way another time around. I've been super tired and scatterbrained and moody [read: snappy as a turtle] these last few days... My trusty NFP chart told me there was a good chance... so I thought, it must have worked, I must be pregnant.

But there it was. The lonely pink line.  

"You should wait until tomorrow morning," I had said to myself. "It's most accurate in the morning, and maybe you'll get your period anyway."  But it's pretty much all I've been thinking about for a week.  I had to know.

Why did I waste a test? Those puppies are expensive, especially for something you pee on and then throw away. 

I've been a horrible wife. 

It's so oxymoronic.  

Desperate, immediately the self-talk: I don't want to be pregnant right now.
I don't want to give birth next May.
I don't want my kids to be almost two years apart but only one year apart in school [that's a blog topic for about three years from now, if I even still have a blog in three years].
I don't want to potentially have to wean my Penny because my milk production goes down from pregnancy.
I am not ready for the back pain and the no sushi and the haven't-even-lost-any-of-my-baby-weight-from-the-first-kid maternity clothes shopping.
I am relieved that I'm not pregnant.
We have enough in our plate right now. This is the right thing. 

I soften my tone. 

But I so wanted to be pregnant.  

So very much.  I wanted a new little life in my belly.  I even installed the pregnancy tracker app back onto my phone.  Starting taking prenatal vitamins.
I wanted to be all cute and plump next spring.  May 14th would have been the due date, close to my grandmother Helen's birthday. And Mother's Day.
I wanted to feel a child inside me again.
I wanted to talk about names with Dan and start calling Penny "big sister."
I wanted to keep that exciting secret going with my husband until we decided to tell other people.  I had it in my head and my heart that I would be having a boy.
I so wanted to be pregnant.
To rid the angst and know with full confidence that my body is working, and doing everything it was made to do, with no complication from my surgery or oncoming infertility struggles.  God, hold close all the couples who struggle with infertility. Comfort their heartbreak, reveal to them Your plan for their families. 
To throw dates and calculations and deciding-factors to the wind because it had been done, it was happening. 

A feeling all too familiar, all too often, for so many women.  As if the PMS hormones aren't enough, this will make a woman seriously crazy. The waiting, the anticipation. Two weeks of it.  I've been a horrible wife.  I've had a very horrible time.  And tonight... I feel so yucky.  Overcome with all kinds of emotions. I actually feel Loneliness in my gut. 

I've felt this let down only one other time in my life.  The month before we made Penny we also "went for it" and I did not get pregnant.  That time around Dan and I drank lots of champagne and toasted to our no-kids life and the unknowns of the future.  [and then a few weeks later there was a Penelope in my belly].  This time around we sat in the office and worked on spreadsheets for a couple hours and toasted to the fact that our child went to sleep at a reasonable hour.  Hashtag notnewlyweds. 

Ugh... just realized... probably gonna get my stupid period tomorrow.  Stupid period. 

The box said you could take the test up to six days before your missed period, a window I am well into. But are there such things as false negatives?

Anyway.  Since you were about to ask: No, we AREN'T "trying".  You won't be hearing from me again on this topic for a while. 

I'll just be looking longingly at, and living vicariously through, all my beautiful friends and family members who are either expecting, or just had babies.  You know who you are. I am beyond thrilled for you. No jealousy, just joy. 

And I'll be enjoying my time with husband and my sweet sweet Only-child... at least for a while longer. 

I'll feel better in the morning.

How did you process it and cope when you found out that you weren't pregnant?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Good Eater, Bad at Eating [Part 2]

Closing up one of the best weekends ever, I'd like to share with you some photos I snapped today at lunch: letting Penny explore the use of a spoon and bowl full of cottage cheese, all by herself.  The cleanup was a two-person job, but the joy was priceless.

(that's turkey, cucumbers, toast, peaches and cottage cheese)

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