Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Penny's second Halloween, 15-months-old
Getting ready was less-than-enjoyable as Daddy had to work late and sew part of his Huck Finn costume that ripped at a party last Saturday night, and Mommy was slightly disabled by the wired-braids in her hair that spanned so far to the sides that she had to turn her head to walk through doorways.  Probably won't do Pippi Longstocking again...

But once we finally got out of the house, we enjoyed our wonderful weather and our wonderful family and our wonderful neighborhood and all was good.

We tried to Trick 'r Treat but someone was more interested in people-watching and waving than taking candy from strangers.  Mommy was ok with this.

We visited neighbors all over the 'hood and covered a lot of ground.  We put a little QT in with our oldest nephews, taking them with us farther in after it was time for their younger siblings to get home to bed.

We called it a late night... Penny went down around 10pm, but she didn't fuss once.  All in all it was a great night.  Next year she will wear a real costume :)

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When I talk candidly to teenaged girls or young single women about dating, I usually work in the story about how and why I wore a turtleneck on my first date with my husband.  (Most of my sister's friends who might be reading this right now are nodding their heads and maybe rolling their eyes because they've heard this one.)

Why did I do it?  Simple. I didn't want this man I was meeting to get any impression whatsoever that I was interested in our encounter resulting in anything unladylike.  Read: I didn't want him to think I was a floozy.  Call me crazy, but I think my decision to dress modestly on the front end helped our relationship develop in a healthy and respectful way.  (Note, it was a cute turtleneck, not a frumpy one)

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with showing a little collar bone or a little shoulder, but there was something about that day, this "blind" date, and I made a choice about how I wanted to present myself to this potential suitor.  I'm not saying my turtleneck gets all the credit, but it is no coincidence that on our first date we talked for seven hours.  Conversation, eye contact, interest.  First impressions set the tone.

photo by Jane Zarzynski in 2010.  Same turtleneck.

I'm no saint in the attire department.  I've got a few things in my wardrobe that some might consider immodest.  Modesty is a relative thing, different people have difference ideas about it, and I'm not trying to define it here.  Just, on this Halloween Day, I want to remind all the women out there that even if we're not going on a date, every day that we leave the house we make a choice about how we want to present ourselves to the world with what we wear.  Halloween too.

Rethinking the revealing costume you already put together for tonight?
Put a turtleneck under it :)

I like this post "Modest is Hottest" from Rachel over at Life Teen International and this post of five DIY Modest Costume Ideas from Nicole over at Project Inspired.


What's Penny going to wear tonight?  A glorious hand-me-down tutu full of all the Halloween colors, and a big orange bow on her head.  As for what to call this costume, I'm going with "Halloween Girl."  With everything going on these last few weeks in our house, we excused ourselves from coming up with an elaborate costume for her.  We figure next year when she's two she will probably have an opinion on the matter, so we would sit this last one out.  Tonight we will be walking around in our neighborhood and Penny will Trick'r'Treat for the first time.  Hoo-to-the-Ray.

Be safe! and Keep it Classy!  Happy Halloween!

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Keeping it Together, Goodbyes

At lunch with five brilliant women whose camaraderie I have loved and depended on during all my years in corporate marketing strategery, I quickly realized the coincidence that I was the only mother at the table.  Not one of these wonderful women has (or plans to ever have) children.  No implication, just an observation. And a coincidence indeed, as many of my female coworkers over the years have also been mothers, just none at today's lunch table.  But what a juxtaposition, my peers in career of past and my peers in stay-at-home motherhood of future.  They, so smart, and sharp, and interesting, and well-dressed.  So put-together.  Hopefully this would not be the last time I shared lunch conversation with them.  I so enjoy their company, their wit.  Though my fears that my ability to contribute to the conversation will dwindle might lead me to decline the invitation from time to time.

I want to remember this day, and all the things I felt, the sensations, the nervousness, the sadness. I tried to be fully present in it all and realize the significance, my last day in the workforce.  I admit I was a little withdrawn.  Much effort was required in most of the conversations I had today.  It would have been easier to avoid everyone, not read all the emails saying good luck, it's been nice working with you, and other sincerely nice things.  Not give hugs, not make eye contact in the hallway, not tell people it was my last day.  Just leave, like I was going on vacation and coming back later.

No. The pit in my stomach wouldn't let me run away from the sentiment.

I only cried four times.  OK six.  Seven if you count the car ride home.  Not one moment have I regretted my decision, but it's always so hard to say the goodbyes that are truly final.

I haven't really wanted to talk about it much.  "How do you feel!?!?" my support system on the home-front has been asking since after business hours.  I'm not really sure how I feel.  I feel like all is right in the world, like I am moving on to something I've always yearned to do.  I also feel like I said goodbye to part of myself that I really liked when I walked out of that building.  Life is hard.  I think making hard decisions on behalf of the people you love the most is what being a grownup is all about.

"Life moves on and so should we." 
-Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Joining Pinterest and Taking Photos

I've been anti-Pinterest since I first heard about it, because I knew what a time suck it could be for someone with my [lack of] self control regarding social media and electronics (and I had heard that it makes you feel bad about yourself that you don't do more crafts and look better in your clothing... if so, bluhh. pass.).  So when I decided to take the plunge and get on there to see what the fuss was all about, I set some boundaries for myself. One: don't get the app on my phone, and two: look at it no more than once a day. Anyway, holy fun-ness! I still don't know how to use it that well but how have I been away from this for so long?  Find me if you'd like. I'll make a little "P" button up there on the right soon.

Here are a few photos from my recently launched non-business photography business.  I'll be posting more in this galleries page as I get some more shoots under my belt. What an amazing learning experience this has been. I am loving every minute of it.   Blogger actually has some pretty low-grade compression that mutes some of the vibrance and clarity in the photos we Blogger bloggers post.  It's kind of a buzz kill for me to look at these in full-screen in Photoshop and then see how they look when they upload to the blog, but... you get the idea.  It was a week of toothless-grinned six-year-olds.  What fun!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Breast Feeding Still

For the long, long haul. 

(You can read my other two posts about breast-feeding here and here, and my starting-with-the-bottle/pump experience here). 

Long Distance

I've heard that marathon runners go through stages of grief and denial as they get deeper and deeper into the 26+ mile distance.  Something about the '20 mile wall': your body just quits and you have to force every single step until the end, all the while asking yourself 'why the heck am I still running?'  I've never run a marathon and never plan to, but it makes sense. 

I've also never had a marathon-sized goal for how long I wanted to nurse my children.  I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment by setting a long-term expectation, and I never wanted to allow myself the mentality that this was something I could control, as so many things can affect breast feeding duration.  

So here we are, nursing still. Sometimes I can't believe I've made it this long.

Purposeful weaning is not a place I've felt I needed to go yet, but fifteen months in and still at it, I feel guilty admitting that there have been a few instances recently that I resented that I'm still breastfeeding.  Specifically the slightly-resentful moments come on the [very few] nights that my daughter wakes up, inconsolable, and comes into bed with us circa 3am... a.k.a. a delirious rooting squirm-creature keeps me up for hours kicking and clawing, while Dan sleeps.  It was b-a-d last time we were at the cabin up north and it was too cold for her to be by herself in the pack'n'play.  That was my 20 mile wall.  So I confess. I've had bitter moments where I've thought about throwing in the towel. 

Not sure the statistic but I think most kiddos have weaned by now, fifteen months, but Penny is showing no sign that she's ready to stop... so I'm going with it and putting her needs first. That's what feels right. 

Wanted to reflect here on some reasons I'm so very glad I'm still nursing. Self pep talk. 

Nursing a child this age is most awesome for:

-Soothing. The times when she hurts herself (which happen more often than I'd like to admit), nursing still proves to be numbero uno for making it all better, or at least calming the sad sad wailing. 

-Nutrition. The times when we make mediocre food choices for our family, I always feel better knowing she's still getting oh so much nutrition from mother's milk. We try to make a Team Griffin effort to put all the good stuff in Penny's belly, but the kid loves crackers and she loves bread and she loves ice cream. And, mother of the year alert: sometimes when I help myself to a small handful of chocolate chips from the freezer, I give her one too.  So, my world is a better place when I remember that breast milk is still a part of my toddler's diet.  No, nursing's not an enabler of junk food eating. Stoppit.  

-My body. Although I can't say that breast-feeding has been a post-partum unicorn fairy that made me magically shed all my baby weight, pretty sure it's not hurting me in the metabolism category. Those chocolate chips probably are. 'Nother story entirely. I digress.

-Immunity. The times when she's sick or showing signs that she might get sick, I'm confident that breast feeding in overdrive helps her immune system fight whatever's coming. She'll still get sick, I know, but it's gotta be helping some.  

-Savoring the Baby Phase. I like breast-feeding and I know that when she stops, I won't ever get to nurse this child again. I'm not in a hurry to end it.  My mother-in-law gave Dan and I the advice: never wish yourselves into the next stage of parenthood, always enjoy and be present in the stage that you are in with your children, whatever it may be, because it will go away and you'll never get it back. I'm sticking with that principle for my nursing journey. 

-Confidence. We've got it down by now. No more clogged ducts or leaky engorgement or timers. I've earned my stripes and I wear them with pride. Auto pilot feels so, so good. 

-Bonding. It's our special mommy/toddler time that nobody else gets to have. The treasure in these moments is the same as it was when she was a newborn.  I feel so close to her.  I love it. 

Ho Hum, On We Go

So in the status update category, I would say I'm no longer actively "dedicated" to meticulously maintaining supply and schedule and frozen inventory like I have been in the past, but I'm still very very committed to keeping at it, in a ho hum kind of way.  

I think quitting my job has contributed to the ho hum because I don't have to manage distribution of the liquid assets to three different freezers anymore. Hallelujah. 

Nursing in public is nearly impossible these days unless she is completely exhaustified or maybe if we go to a small space with nothing to look at (thumbs up for dressing rooms).  She has pretty much no interest in taking bottles of pumped breast milk anymore from other people (ain't nobody got time for that)... sooooo it's pretty much nursing, from the tap, at home only.  

This might mean seven times a day, it might mean three times a day.  I don't keep track anymore and I don't pump anymore.  In fact, this weekend I think I'm going to sterilize all my pump parts, bag 'em and store 'em for the next kid. Liberation! It'll be like the last day of school after you finish your math final when you throw away all your notes. [well, I always kept all my math notes, but you get what I'm saying]. Still gotta figure out what to do with what's left of my frozen stash... maybe I'll start putting it in her sippy when I'm away from her so it doesn't go to waste.

'When will you wean?' is the big question I get.  I'm still sayin' she'll let me know when she's done.  No pressure, no push.  So that's where we're at.  

My advice to other newer moms: stick with it as long as is reasonable for your family.  Don't put undue pressure on yourself, but don't quit for frivolous reasons -- it's so worth it to go long term if you can.

I hope this offers encouragement to any of you who do have marathon-sized goals for your breastfeeding journey.  It can be done!  Nurse on mommas!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tiny Prints Circle Cards

I try not to bombard you with promotional stuff, but I do love love these circle cards from Tiny Prints. If you're ready to order your Christmas cards and love the circle design as much as I do, get it done today for 25% off!   Click here or on the image below to take advantage of this deal today.

 Tiny Prints Deal of the Day

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pouring Pouring

When it rains it pours. With my mom stuck in jury duty for three weeks, my dad still recovering from shoulder surgery, and my mother-in-law tending to a husband in the hospital (he's going to be ok, but we had quite a scare about his heart)... I've been just barely scraping by for childcare these last few business days when I am supposed to be finishing out my last few days on the job. (If you didn't read, I gave my two weeks notice last week).

This would happen when it's full and clear that Penny will. not. nap. anywhere but her own crib or a moving carseat/stroller, and she will. not. take. a. bottle. from anyone anymore... I was not about to let my last five days of work be the reason I stopped breastfeeding.

So I've been staying home in the mornings, working when she naps, and if there's enough time left in the day, sending her off to play somewhere in the afternoons and going in to the office for a couple hours.  All the coordination has been exhausting, especially with the wild card when she will wake up.

sometimes Monkey playing with my Blackberry
buys me three minutes of work
Amidst the guilt of being so absent during these final days on the job (which I do truly feel weighing on me), I can't stop thinking that this all just validates our decision that for our family, me working outside the home wasn't going to work anymore [pun intended].  At least not under the same circumstances.

I look forward to Penny spending a day with her grandparents simply because it's awesome for her to get to spend a day at her grandparents' [and maybe so I can run some errands]... and not because I have to go to the office.  Now instead of burdening them with routines and discipline consistency and naps, Dan and I get to sit back and watch our parents do what grandparents are supposed to do: play and explore and play and spoil, and babysit for fun.  What a blessing that will be.

Deep breath.  Just one more week, then bittersweet release.

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...

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Saturday, October 19, 2013


I enjoyed four miles of walking this morning with my dogs and my baby and a good friend, in this God-given GLORIOUS weather.  October might be in the running for my new favorite month (typically I would say January because, obviously).  To be sweaty but not feel hot is so rejuvenating.  Also, Penny napped in her stroller and I was able to transfer her to the crib when I got home and she continued her nap for a normal amount of time. Winning.  It's the small things.

Congratulations to the winner of the $50 Matilda Jane gift card!  Thanks to everyone who entered, and new readers I hope you'll stick around :)

Nicole, I hope you'll send me a photo of the adorable Reagan in her new outfit!

Happy Saturday to all!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

Click here for more information about this amazing exercise in writing and invitation to writers' community! Love Lisa-Jo Baker.  Alright, here goes...


Two dog collars and seven ratty towels clunk around in my washer.

The day my one-year-old daughter slammed her bedroom door for the first time (probably not the last) in an act of protest, a show of force, against her mother -- I wouldn't let her stick her face in a plastic bag of 30 diapers -- would be the same day that my husband took the bull by the horns and decided we wouldn't take the dogs in for grooming anymore, we would bathe them ourselves.  Dog grooming is expensive.

Signs of the times.  Signs we made the right choice. Signs we are serious about watching our budget and that our daughter seriously needs her mom home.  

The room's full of sleepy wet dogs and grinning grownups listening to the washer go. 
This is our little life now.

There's nobody I would rather do laundry with than this kid:

Y'all have one more day to enter the Matilda Jane $50 Giveaway!  Open for anyone, details here.

Thanks for your continued support with your votes!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013


Creating Penny's Halloween Costume!  not.  I wish I could tell you that we had decided and that I was on it.  We are kind of thinking that maybe we will play it real low key this year, since it's the last year that she really won't care what she gets to be, and can't really eat all that candy (a topic for a later date).  But I've been loving all the suggestions coming in!  Some of my favorite ideas have been Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck-it-Ralph and a Sock Monkey.

Contemplating Youth Sports. People ask me all the time if Penny is going to play sports (maybe it's the huge feet)... and I'm like, "uh... if she wants to and we can afford it."  With club volleyball season fast approaching, I just had a chat with the club director that I've had the privilege of working with for 8 years, and it made me remember about the JBM Thinks Sports Parenting website I stumbled upon a while back, and this post I wrote last year (one of my favorites) on coaches' and parents' fair expectations of one another within the context of youth sports.  Good reads if the topic interests you.

Debating to chop or not to chop: the next move for my hair.  My greys are so grown in they are starting to look like tiny skinny white highlights. Virtuous living indeed. I am loving how long it has gotten but not how unmanageable it has become.  Chopping it off is always fun for the shock value, but then it takes soooo long to grow out again. And... Dan wants me to just grow out my greys and never color my hair again, especially with the co$t. But... I mean.

Gearing up for  drawing a winner for the Matilda Jane Clothing giveaway this weekend! Any and all of you have two more days to enter to win $50 towards your next MJC purchase (the odds are pretty good on this small little blog)... details here. I don't know if you can tell but I'm giddy that I got to review for MJC.  Trying to curb my enthusiasm...

Procrastinating insurance billing.  I attended a handful of medical appointments during the culmination of my back injury that were out of my insurance network.  A.K.A. I've got to do the billing myself to get reimbursed.  So much paperwork, so overwhelming, maybe not even worth it.

Thankful for cooler days, playgrounds and front porches.

Laughing about this post by Matt Walsh that's been going around social media in the Stay-At-Home-Mom circuit especially.  I laugh not because it's funny (it's not) but because when I first read it, I hadn't quit my job yet.  I wanted to, I longed to, but Dan and I hadn't arrived at the conclusion yet that my quitting was the best thing for our family yet.  Now, I'm on the other side, sort of, and I read something like this differently.  Exerpt:  
"I’m not looking to get into a fight about who is “busier.” We seem to value our time so little, that we find our worth based on how little of it we have. In other words, we’ve idolized “being busy,” and confused it with being “important.” You can be busy but unimportant, just as you can be important but not busy. I don’t know who is busiest, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s safe to say that none of us are as busy as we think we are; and however busy we actually are, it’s more than we need to be.  We get a lot of things wrong in our culture. But, when all is said and done, and our civilization crumbles into ashes, we are going to most regret the way we treated mothers and children."

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

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

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013


A memory story: the day I quit my day job.

Tuesday October 15, 2013.  I gave my two weeks notice this afternoon. A well-thought out decision, but not an easy one.  Never an if, always a hypothetical when, the time would never be right, but the time was now.  The pull on every fiber of my being said so.

To the left to the left...
Walking the hallways, one in several thousand people employed by this company, daily I would smile and nod at others also on their way to lunch or meetings or the factory or secret places -- some whose names I don't know or I have never worked with.  We were comrades in circumstance, no matter what was going on in the business at that time.  During triumphs we'd smile with teeth and maybe even wave.  During layoffs or crunch time, a mere head bob would suffice, if we could muster it.

Each one of us a human being, with a story and a family and strengths and quirks and feelings.

In my eight years, I have never once felt replaceable... but really, each one of us is.  I know this from earlier this year when I switched jobs and when my dad retired (although I have reason to think my dad is desperately and sorely missed, and I think people will miss me too).  I replaced someone, and someone replaced me in my old role.  Thus is business, it goes on.

I will be gone from this office in two weeks.  Some of the relationships I've built with these wonderful wonderful people will last, but mostly what bonds me to the hundreds of comrades is my employment, my contribution.

My thoughts turn to disappearance.  Being gone and the whole place continuing to run without me, like it has after the departure of so many others who left before me. We all like to think we are leaving an impression, and we probably did in some small way, on a few people -- that our contribution was important, and it probably was, for the time being.  But business goes on.

I feel small, and insignificant, in a freeing way.

I'm sure it will hit me harder when I start putting all my personal things in a box to the left.  Gathering the trinkets I've collected, keeping some, giving others away.  The hat I'm taking off is a big big hat and I've been wearing it for a long time.

A pivotal day indeed.

I've taken a plunge into a pool I've wanted to swim in my whole life.  I'll be mostly spending my days working for the only people in the world to whom I am truly irreplaceable.

separate note... there are still a few days to enter to win $50 Matilda Jane giveaway here.
And thanks for voting, below!

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Matilda Jane Love (giveaway closed)

Goodie goodie gumdrops, check out the Paint By Numbers collection by Matilda Jane Clothing.  I was tickled pink when MJC contacted me to ask if they could send me a few things and would I write a review... um yes, please.  

Penny's Outfit
In these photos, Penelope is wearing the Limelight Peasant Top and Pointillism Big Ruffles pants.  Adorable, right?  If I was clever I might come up with a name for this photo shoot, like Little Girl Exploring in the Fall but more pithy.  This ensemble, and all Matilda Jane pieces are just perfect for Fall family photos (did someone say Christmas Card), especially for families with lots of daughters!  I found Penny's outfit to be soft and well-constructed and, albeit ruffly, very practical.  Photo shoot aside (I was playing with a new camera lens, so fun), Penny is going to wear this ensemble to our cousin's baby shower in a few weeks.

A note on sizing... Penny is almost fifteen months old and is wearing a size 12mo, and the pants and shirt are HUGE on her.  The good news is, she can wear them all through the winter without outgrowing...  But keep this in mind as you shop for your littles.

My Outfit
I got the Tawny Birch Tee, Butterfly Pants and (my favorite, the) incredible black Daybreak Cardigan sweater (outfit on the right).  Oh, and this Nancy in Chocolate headband (left), what do you think? I've never worn headbands before.

Truth be told, I don't think I can pull off the pink ruffled pants, but maybe I will get real brave and wear them when the occasion is right.  They are crazy comfortable.  I'm going to wear the tee and the sweater all the time this fall and winter.  I've already worn the sweater like three times and it's not even cold yet.  It goes with everything.  The tee is very comfortable, and I love how long it is, aaaaand Dan likes it (if you know him, you know he's particular about clothing), so that's always a plus :)

How to Shop
Penny inherited a few Matilda Jane Clothing items as hand-me-downs from sweet cousin Hope, and I've always loved their whimsical girly style, but never knew where the store was.  Now I know, you've gotta find a Trunk Keeper in your area and buy the items through them.  It's kind of like an underground boutique of girly goodness.  Also, now I know they have grownup clothes too.  If you live near me in the Phoenix area, I've already tracked down a seller near us.  If not, you can find one through the website, easy as (storebought) pie.

Giveaway Drawing
One lucky reader will win a $50 gift card towards their Matilda Jane Clothing purchase (if you aren't in the Phoenix area, I'll mail it to you!)

Three steps to win:

1.  [on your honor] Share a link to this post on the social media platform of your choice, so others can have a looksee at my review and enter if they'd like.

2. Browse the Matilda Jane Collections online, and in the comments below, share which item(s) you would like to purchase if you won, a sort of "wish list".  (Commenting within the blog works best from a computer, some have had trouble commenting from their phones.  Comments on FB don't count, let me know if you have trouble)

3. Make sure I know how to reach you if you win!  Hi new friends, I'm Julie.  If we've never met and I don't have your contact info, you can email me at juliejanuary [at] gmail [dot] com if you'd rather not post your contact info in the comments.

[insert shameless plug] And totally optional, you could always follow me on Instagram or Bloglovin' or subscribe to Becoming Julie Griffin using links on the right... I mean, that's if you wanna keep up with me and Penny and Dan and our shenanigans this fall.

I will select a winner at random on Saturday October 19th!  Good luck!

* Opinions herein are my own and I was not compensated for this review beyond items being provided to me at no cost.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stopping to smell the pot pie.

oh hey. thanks for the carrots. 
Penny sat in my lap as I ate dinner tonight and she insisted on feeding herself every globby bite of chicken pot pie, with a fork, by herself.  She concentrated so hard.  So carefully yet clumsily grabbing the (adult) fork and tapping it onto the bottom of her bowl hoping to stick something.  Like spear fishing but messier.  I'd estimate an average of 45 seconds to stab each bite with a 30% bowl-to-mouth-completion rate.  It took forEVER.

Then there was earlier today on our walk in the beating-down heat after I had already been pooped on by a bird and was gaining more and more sunburn as we went along because I wasn't the one wearing a giant hat, when Penny decided she wanted to walk instead of ride in her stroller; walk the other direction, that is.  She would not could not ride, no no not her, there was waddling to do.  It was so hot (OK it was only 77 but it felt hot.).  Dan ended up carrying her because we HAD to get home or the dogs were going to dehydrate.  Longest walk ever.

As Penny's learning to do things on her own and to communicate (and sometimes gets confused), I too learn the importance of patience.  Stopping the clock.  Stopping whatever I'm doing.  Whatever else seemed so important.  BEING with her in whatever she's doing.

We're past the stage when baby was just along for the ride.  She's a little person, and she wants things and needs things and desires things and is curious about things.

Patience is a virtue, that means it's something we should strive for all the time, but it might not come easily most of the time.

I think all of us parents need to remind ourselves of this when it feels so easy to lose our patience and just do it for them, pick them up, tell them "no" etc.

Speaking of patience, recently I went to the zoo to look at animals for the first time in years; and it was my first time experiencing it through a toddler's eyes.  Here's what I learned:  
-Birds (or "BuhBuuhs") are by far the most fascinating of all the creatures.
-Rhino... pretty huge... kinda boring.
-Staying at one bench for half an hour waving at peacocks is not a waste of time.
-Bring snacks and extra waters.
-Sand, rocks, trash and dead leafs are just as interesting as animals.
-Every stranger should be waved at.
-Three hours is long enough.

Photos from the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, where it is only $2 to feed a giraffe.  
Yes, I said feed a giraffe, for two dollars.

Monkey sees a real monkey for the first time ever.
this guy and all the peacocks were her favorites.  oh and the dirt and pebbles.
photo courtesy of Aunt Katie who took an early long lunch to come zoo it up with us
nom. nom. nom.
Not the zoo but I couldn't leave out this photo from our Tucson visit where we FINALLY got to 
hang out with my sister and meet her roommates, see her digs and pretend like we were sorority sisters for a day.
Love these girls. Cutest college room ever, right?  #PPL

Thanks for reading.  Thanks for voting.  Much obliged.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Want To Take Your Pictures

I squint my eyes and wince a little as I type this...  yikes I'm so nervous... but I think I'm ready to share that I am offering some photography services and I would love to take your family's photos (or your kiddos') at amateur rates and just in time for the holidays.

Photography by Julie Griffin

I've also added a little link to my side bar on the right, but in case you are looking at this on your mobile device, you can click here for more information.

Please email me for more information if you are interested! [Arizona, East Valley]

Tiny Prints Flash Sale: 4 Hours Only for 30% Off Name Labels

Tiny Prints' newest products is all the rage for labeling your kids' stuff.  These stickers are awesome (wouldn't expect anything less from Tiny Prints) -- perfect for lunch boxes, pencil cases, water bottles, sippy cups... and they are dishwasher and microwave safe.  Yes, I said dishwasher safe.

Get them here, get them today.   Today from this exclusive blog flash sale,  get 30% Off Name Labels for 4 Hours Only from 10am-2pm PT (that's California time y'all).  Did I mention that they are microwave and dishwasher safe?

Each label design comes in 3 sizes and shapes: large rectangle, small rectangle, circle.  

There are eight design themes to choose from, these two Jungle Pals labels are my favorites:
Penelope is not in school yet to loose track of these things herself, but her mother has a tendency to lose things all the time.  I'm planning on getting some for a few of Penny's toys, her sippy cups and books that we take with us when we go places like play group, Sunday school, and the park. 

Click here to browse these adorable and practical labels, and then take advantage of this deal by using Code LABEL30 for 30% off.

Happy Wednesday!  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dogs in the Mountains

because fresh air is so so nice, even just in a photograph.

These two pups enjoyed a weekend of mountainy shenanigans and lots and lots and lots of running around the property of my parents' cabin. If every weekend could be like this...

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Making stir fry for dinner.  After last week's crock pot mishap, I needed to get back on the cooking horse.  I stared despair right in the face and made that same honey ginger chicken recipe Tuesday, and this time kept the crock pot inside the house.  It was just above mediocre and I won't probably make it again, but it was edible. Woo! Nobody got salmonella and nobody complained (and I fed the Lang Gang because poor Christina has been under the weather and hubby was out of town).  I digress.  Tonight -- stir fry.  Marinated the chicken at 2 o'clock this afternoon -- Boo-ya.  Don't worry, I googled "how to make stir fry" and it's pretty hard to mess up.  Knocking on wood. (and this marks four times in two weeks of me touching raw chicken. toot toot.)

Taking walks and trips to the park.  Three-fold:  1. I am to sit as little as possible while my sacrum and my L5 vertebrae continue to settle into their new position of not causing me life-altering back pain.  Walking to the park = not sitting.  2. It's getting nice out and my child loves to be outside. Winning.  3. Dan is in the middle of the "overseeding" process in the backyard, to grow lucious winter grass (read: the perimeter of our house smells like poo and chemicals) and Luna and Apollo cannot go out there lest they get covered in manure and dig up all the seeds.  Thus, lots of walks to the parks.  Today I have already picked up four lumps of fresh dog excrement with little plastic bags.  The things we do for our animals.

Baking chocolate chip cookies.  (toot toot) my cookies are delicious because they are thick and doughy and they have generous amounts of of chocolate chips and zero nuts.  Fun fact, when I was in high school I set a goal to one day be the mom in the neighborhood who made the best chocolate chip cookies.  This was a silly goal riddled by overly-competitiveness and an unhealthy relationship with desserts (which arguably stills lingers).  Nonetheless, I baked a lot, perfected the recipe, and now I don't make them nearly as often as I thought I would in high school.  In fact, since I became a "mom in the neighborhood," I don't think I've made them once.  But tonight I am.  This batch is for an outing to the cabin this weekend and a visit to my little seester at college next week.  You're welcome, sister's roommates.   No I will not post the recipe.  You can probably find a better one on Pinterest anyway (but I wouldn't know, I'm not on Pinterest).

Faking my way through this temporary SAHM life.  I'm on a short medical leave because of my back injury and let me tell you, not going to work has been quite the change of pace.  I feel more in touch with my house and my daughter than ever before.  I'm also realizing how much room there is for improvement in basically everything that I do.  The fact that I'm still nursing my back quite a bit doesn't help when I feel like I want to "Go Do" things.  I've got to slow down.  I've got to keep my priorities straight.  I've got to reflect.  I've got to be easier on myself.  And... I've got to go back to work in about a week anyway.

Gearing up for  exercises.  Yesterday at my doctor's office I got some super exciting exercises to do for my back rehabilitation for the next six weeks.  The first one involves sitting on a medicine ball and gently sliding my hips from side to side ever so slightly twenty times.  Watch out, Olympics, this girl is training hard.

Procrastinating Garage sale planning.  Pretty sure this is not my first mention of this.  Recently our friend Matt shared with us the concept of simplifying your life by going through your house and getting rid of anything that is not either Useful or Beautiful to you.  What a concept, right?

Thankful for naps. [No elaboration needed].

Laughing about my new favorite blog: Camp Patton.  I'm super late to the party having just discovered Grace's ramblings on motherhood and being wife to an OBGYN Resident.  I laugh out loud while reading every post.  I want to be her best friend.

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

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

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You Know Youre a Mom Whensday

You know you're a mom (like a full on, honey badger, I'm doing this, mom) when...
 you use the bottom of your cotton pant leg to wipe the snot off your child's face because there are no tissues nearby at about 4:30... and then you continue to wear those pants for the rest of the night.

See Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

What's your no-shame mom moment this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Halloween Costume Candidates [your input requested]

Hollah!  It's October!
In America apparently that means the government shuts down, but who wants to read about that in a mommy blog...  In Arizona, October means the weather is going to actually cool off before the end of the month, and not just for a couple days a before it gets hot again.  Herein "cool off" means the high temp is consistently 85 or lower.  Rejoice and be glad, it's time for boots.

As I've said before, I don't get all excited about pumpkin flavored coffee drinks or pumpkin decorations... but while I wait for Christmas time, I do love me some costume planning!

A history of Griffin Halloween costumes:
  • When we were engaged we dressed as Mary Poppins and Burt.  This is still my favorite costume pairing ever. 
  • First year of marriage, before pregnancy, we handed out candy as Elmo and Grover, then my parents and friend completed the Sesame Street Cast  for a party as Big Bird, Oscar and Cookie Monster.
  • Last year for Penny's first Halloween we wore some old Sumo Wrestler costumes I already had, and dressed Penny as an elephant (so cute).

I love that my mother sewed almost every Halloween costume I ever wore as a kid.   I love dressing up.  I love the arts and crafts of it, the creativity.  I love how children carry themselves when they are in a Halloween costume, so stoked to present it to each door-answerer, so proud of their choice, so proud of their new persona.

I also want to stay in check with the whole time and preparation aspect of being a mother, running a house, having a job, AND coming up with a Halloween costume(s) for my kid (and family, including dogs... maybe.).  Thank goodness I'm not on Pinterest because I bet that website's crazy with costume ideas that will make any mom go manic.  I don't do well with optionitis.

Last year Penelephant was a real hit of a Halloween get up.  I loved the Carter's costume from Costco, it was so easy and so cute and so comfortable for our little three-month-old.  It was perfect.  This year we want to do something that represents our toddler daughter well in this phase of life that she is in.  The possibilities are endless.

Here are some of the ideas we've been throwing around:
  • A Monkey (That's her nickname.... plus picture this: Penny as Curious George and Dan as The Man in the Yellow Hat... eh? eh?)
  • Piglet (how cute would this be with me as Pooh and Dan as Tigger... I'm just not sure how I feel about my sweet little girl portraying an androgynous pig who is afraid of everything... am I overthinking it?).
  • A bug of some kind (butterfly? busy bee?)
  • Doggy (after all, this is her favorite animal)
  • A Pixie (she's got the hair for it)
I'm also loving this section on Martha Stewart Living.

I'll make you a deal...

Anyone who suggests a different costume idea in the comments (on the blog comments, not Facebook comments), that we end up loving and using, gets a $5.00 gift card to his or her choice of Chipotle or Chic Fil'A or The Coffee Shop at Agritopia or The Cutting Board Cafe or any of Joe Johnston's restaurants.  Five dollars, I know... what a huge blog giveaway.

After we decide what she is going to be, anyone who ends up lending me the costume for Penny to wear gets the same gift card offer above as a thank you.

Or just feel free to weigh in on your thoughts... what should Penny be for Halloween?  My brain is tired and I'm feeling indecisive and I'm open to doing a family costume, including or not including the dogs, or just having Penny dress up.

Comment away!

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