Monday, January 20, 2014


Saturday, Dan and I got a last-minute babysitter and saw an early showing of American Hustle before enjoying soup and people-watching at Paradise Bakery.  I didn't wear makeup, Dan didn't style his hair.  We were home before Penny's bedtime. It was perfect.

It made me think of the dating that we did before we were engaged.  Dan was courting me in all the right ways, and I was proper in all the right ways.   Before kids and dogs and budgets and babysitters, the dates were longer and more expensive, but their purpose the same.

Pursuing each other.  We don't do it enough.

This article was trending last week, in case you missed it, here's the link to the author's original post (Jarrid Wilson).

Men, pursue your wife.  Women, LET him.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Penny and the Jets

A Memory Story: Penny's first airplane trip.

We had the privilege of traveling to paradise (the Hawaiian island of Kauai) with my parents and sister this past week.  This meant beautiful weather, fun activities, incredible scenery, family time... and thirteen hours on airplanes for little Penny Jane Griffin.

I wish I could tell you that she did great on the flights, but we were not so lucky.

She was a perfect princess peach for about five of the seven hours on the flight from Phoenix to Kaua'i.  Unfortunately, she hit a wall around nap time and FOMO / no crib / constipation prevented her from falling asleep for more than twenty minutes at a time.  (Make sure your kid is NOT the least bit backed-up before traveling with them).  This period of the flight accounted for about an hour-and-a-half of screaming and body-thrashing.  She's freakishly strong.  Not fun.  Nowhere to go.

In my opinion, seven hours is just too long for a toddler to be [happy] on an airplane.

On the way home, fortunately the flight was only five-and-a-half hours long due to eastbound jet streams... but it was a red-eye.  You know what people like to do on red-eye flights?  Sleep.  Which Penny did... but we did not.  This flight our peanut was happy and awake for the first hour, then only cried screamed for about fifteen minutes before falling asleep for the last four hours.  Super.

Dan and I combined probably slept a total of 1.5 hours that night.  I think I could have slept just fine with an infant strapped to me, but a twenty-something pound rag-doll in your lap (breastfeeding off and on) makes it very difficult to relax enough to really pass out.  We I thought a red-eye was a no brainer for traveling with a toddler; wrong.

In conclusion, while our wonderful vacation was worth the less-than-wonderful flight experiences, let the record show that I do not recommend taking an 18-month-old (regardless of sweet disposition) on a seven-hour flight (regardless of time-of-day), and that I do not recommend taking an 18-month-old (regardless of how good of a sleeper she is) on a red-eye flight (regardless of duration) if you want to get any sleep yourself.

If you choose to travel with your young toddler, may you glean some wisdom from my experience flying with my [almost] 18-month-old.

Very interested in everything about the airplane and the airport,
Penny would have done perfectly if the flights had been just a few hours shorter.
Things to Bring With You Through Security:

Umbrella Stroller: Trust me, you'll want to have a stroller at the airport, and your big bulky one might be a pain to get through security.  Good news, you can leave kiddo in the stroller all the way up to the airplane door, then you can check it at the gate for free.  We used one of these travel bags to ensure it didn't get too dirty and to keep everything together.

An empty sippy cup:  You'll want something for little one to be able to drink out of when the flight attendant comes by with water and all those free juices.  I don't know about yours, but my kid would have made a giant mess if we let her near those little plastic cups full of liquid.

Peace offering to other passengers:  For each of the eight rows around us, I prepared one ziploc bag that included a handful of hershey kisses, three-pairs of ear plugs, and this note.  While I'm pretty sure most of the people around us did not utilize the ear plugs, they got a kick out of the note, and they couldn't say I didn't warn them when sweet-natured Penny screamed her head off for an hour straight.

Consider yourselves warned!
Plane-friendly activities:  Pinterest has all kinds of ideas on this, but I brought a baggie full of multi-colored puff balls (like from the craft aisle), a plastic container (like from margarine or cottage cheese) with a couple holes poked in the top, and a few small paper cups.   This combination of QUIET items that kiddo doesn't see every day can provide serious amusement for large chunks of time.  Feeling, counting, sorting, taking in/out.  And if anything gets lost or left behind, no big deal.  Board books and shows on the iPad were great too (we got her these Sony headphones).

Snacks:  My mom was all over this one, with tupperware containers of blueberries and grapes and turkey sandwiches for everyone.  We also had fruit snacks (which Penny never gets at home),  miniature boxes of fishy crackers (which make her feel like she has control of fishy cracker rations), and baby food pouches (make sure to bag them with your other liquids for when you go through security).

Allowing Penny to have a party with her food really killed some time on the airplane. Thanks Grammie and Grandpa!

Plenty-plus-extra diapers, and a change of clothing:  I have a friend who once tried to pack light then ran out of diapers at a delayed layover and had to buy some at the airport.  Poor quality and super expensive, she said.  Plus, what if it's an odd time of day and the airport stores are closed?  Don't skim on the diapers.

A pillow:  There's no way Dan would have let me bring ANOTHER thing, but I would have loved to have a pillow for myself or Penny during multiple phases of our flying experience.  Bring one if you can get away with it.

That's our convertible car seat in the big red bag.
Airlines don't charge you to check car seats and strollers, isn't that nice of them?
10pm: Making sure no one is hungry, here's Penny sharing the last bites of her cottage cheese
before going through Agriculture Security at Lihue Airport. 

Patience and Deep Breaths:  My dad sitting next to me during one of our rough patches had to gently touch my arm and say "this too shall pass."  As agonizing as it was being unable to control my noisy toddler on the airplane, we made it home without a scratch, we all caught up on sleep, and we are never going to see any of those people ever again.

Thank you so much for your support of Becoming Julie Griffin by voting using this link:
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Your Daily Vote (and Penny Eating Oatmeal)

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 if you are using a web browser.

To really show my gratitude for your support, here's Penny eating oatmeal.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Twelve Photos of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas yours truly posted photos. The twelve days of Christmas are actually after December 25th, ending today on the Epiphany, making today the last day of Christmas, so hopefully you didn't put your decorations away too early!

Here's a quick twelve-point recap of a very special Christmas for the Griffin Family Plus.

breakfast, Dan's famous buttermilk waffles, with syrup my parents brought us from Maine.

sometimes a mirror is the only way to get in front of the camera.  like my jammies?

proof that we decorated this year.

one of my favorite pictures ever, Christmas morning with my folks and sister.


Penny says "hhhno" for "snow"

peek-a-boo with Aunt Leslie first thing in the morning

trying out new gadgets

overflow in the entry-way at the Tamale Party

Dan opens a gag-gift... errr... very seriously thoughtful gift of a VCR and a bunch of old movies.

silly silly cousins bringing extra merriment

a t-shirt quilt made from uniforms and tournament shirts from high school.
Penny photobombs clutching the pan and spatula from her new play kitchen.

photos could not capture how much my dogs loved playing in the snow.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Thirty (a list).

Taking a moment to stop and think about how much God has blessed me these last few years.




There was a day and age that birthdays brought me bad fortune and disappointment.  Now all I can say is "life is good" and I'm super stoked about entering a new decade.

Inspired by my friend Jordan, I decided to subject myself to public accountability with a list of thirty measurable goals, and some hopes and wishes for this year of my life:

(in no particular order)
  1. Go on one trip with just my husband 
  2. Try five new recipes (not all dessert)
  3. Do at least three projects I pin on Pinterest (photography and cooking not withstanding)
  4. Update Penny's baby book
  5. Finish Penny's nursery (shameful, I know.)
  6. Visit my sister in Tucson at least three times
  7. Grow something in my backyard and not have it die
  8. Paint my own nails before any formal events
  9. Take Penny to the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale
  10. Clean out my closet (again)
  11. Find a pair of dressy shoes that I really love AND are comfortable enough that my feet and back don't ache the day after I wear them
  12. Give more money to charity than any previous year Dan and I have been filing jointly
  13. Read the bible with Dan every day 
  14. Host one party or event for someone else at my house (wherein no one is selling anything)
  15. a. Have another baby / get pregnant again (a hope, not a goal) or 15. b. lose the baby weight from the last one
  16. Serve twenty new clients in my photography business
  17. Launch a new photography website (for now everything is hosted here on the blog)
  18. Go to a museum in Arizona
  19. See six movies in the theater
  20. Play the piano at one event or function
  21. Go to the dentist
  22. Go to the eye doctor
  23. Catch up on all of my pre-paid sessions at Massage Envy 
  24. Help my parents move to Gilbert (a wish, not a goal)
  25. Earn enough $$ taking pictures to cover half of my front-end investment in photography- and computer-equipment
  26. Buy one additional L-glass lens (photogrageeks you know what I'm talking about)
  27. Take the dogs on at least two walks per week
  28. One date-night per month
  29. Make homemade ice cream twice in the summer
  30. Read one book, the whole thing.
Truthfully, thirty feels about the same as twenty-nine, with a smidge more self-assurance.  

Happy day to me. 

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Not thirty yet.

Coming up on a big milestone birthday, I wanted to preserve and share a snippet from each year of my life so far.  

One:  From pictures I can tell that I was pretty cute, and from my parents' stories, I can tell that I was very advanced and basically a genius.  I had fat cheeks and a fat belly.  My nickname was "Drooly Julie" (please don't...)

Two:  What I would say to be my very first true memory:  I woke up in the middle of the night.  My well-intentioned parents were in a let-her-cry-it-out phase, therefore did not respond to my beckoning.  I patiently called for them to come to my room.  They did not.  I stood up on the bed and called louder.  Nothing.  I screamed and screamed until my face was so swollen that my eyes burned.  Nope.  How dare they not grant my wishes. My throat quivered with anger with every noise that came out of it.  I went hoarse.  My parents finally came after two hours (ok probably ten minutes) to find that I had pooped myself.  I remember standing up on the bathroom counter sobbing uncontrollably as my parents cleaned me up.  My drama made them feel very guilty.  This is how it lives in my head, although I'm sure the grownup perspective version is very very different.  I've often thought about this incident as I parent my daughter.   After she is out of diapers, I might be more inclined to go check on her in the middler of the night if she calls for me than I would have been if I didn't recall the feeling of needing to use the bathroom but being afraid to go by myself in the dark.

Three:  Desert Sun Preschool.  Water tables.  Sandboxes.  Teacher Nancy and her guitar.  The magic of going to school.  I remember it all.

Four: I was so tall, people thought I was six.

Five:  I *think* this is the year that The Little Mermaid came out.  I went to go see it with my Grandma Helen.  Loved the music, HATED Ursula.  Seriously, Disney, that octopus woman was terrifying.  At least PG, come on.  I was Ariel for Halloween.  I dreamed I would marry a man named Eric.

Six:  Pretty sure this is the age that I was rollerskating with my hands in the pockets of my tight jeans, and tripped on a piece of wood completely splitting my chin open.  First time in an ER, first stitches.

Seven:  I had my appendix out.  I remember the hospital's vanilla pudding, coloring in coloring books - a lot, and the red lady-bug outfit that I wore on the day I got to go home.

Eight:  My friends and I played pretend The Babysitters Club and usually fought over who got to be Mary Anne (probably because she had a boyfriend, Logan).  No one ever wanted to be Claudia, which is weird to me now because Claudia was clearly the coolest TBC member.

Nine:  Fourth grade was capital A-Awesome.  I learned calligraphy.  And algebra.  And one of my teachers who we only had one day a week let us build a friggin' simulated Rainforest in the classroom as a science project and for the younger grades to come through and tour.  On these tours, I don't know how I pulled this off but I got to hold the boa constrictor (this also started my "I want a snake as a pet" phase).   I realize now the irony of us using tons and tons of butcher paper to make an exhibit for the purpose of talking about the rainforest, a place that is becoming extinct because of trees being cut down.

Ten:  This was the year my sister was born (yay), my dog died (boo), my grandmother had a stroke (double boo), and my family moved to a different city (triple boo) -- all within six month time frame.  This arguably is when the harshness of real life hit me hard and I was forced to grow up.  Events and relationship from this year of my life would come up frequently in counseling sessions in years to follow.  I think the empathy that I have for young girls and the passion I have for working with them and mentoring them stems from what I went through in this year of my life.

Eleven:  One word: Rollerblades.

Twelve:  There's a photograph out there somewhere of my entire sixth grade class out in the quad by our homeroom door, where I'm awkwardly standing off to side with my chubby cheeks and wearing a giant t-shirt, covering up my jean shorts, that has Tigger's giant face on the front (as in T-I-double-guh-RRRR) and Birkenstock sandals with socks.  My hair is stringy and my eyes are beedy.  I was so alone in the world.  I also got braces. I ate a lot of ice cream and watched a lot of Saved By the Bell reruns.

Thirteen: Played school and club volleyball.  Thinned out, a lot, and started wearing Abercrombie and Fitch.  Signed on to AOL Instant Messenger every night.

Fourteen:  My flower stenciled bedroom walls were covered in cut-up magazine photos of Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris O'Donnell, Jared Leto, Skeet Ulrich, Ben Affleck, Paul Walker (R.I.P.), and Noah Wyle.  I remember using a tape recorder to capture "Knock On Wood" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones from the airwaves of 104.7fm so that I could listen to it whenever I wanted and learn all the lyrics.

Fifteen: Attending a girls-only prep school, my getting-ready routine went like this: shower at night then sleep in school uniform shirt and boxer shorts; wake up to the sound of my carpool ringing the doorbell; put hair in bun; pull plaid skirt over pajamas; lace up tennis-shoes; grab toast or bagel to eat on the half hour ride to school.

Sixteen:  Driver's license and cell phone changed my life.  So did AP Calculus (my favorite subject in high school).

Seventeen:  My first job: teaching piano lessons out of my house.  I charged $25/hr and had eleven students covering two days a week.  It was the funnest, easiest, most rewarding job a high school girl could ever have.

Eighteen:  My boyfriend's parents gave me a monogrammed Tiffany necklace for my 18th birthday.  I didn't even know what Tiffany was, but a gesture so mature and so timeless would not be fortuitous for the relationship.  To this day I maintain that serious relationships in high school are bad news for everyone involved, and I discourage any teens who will listen to me from getting into them.  (Although, I applaud and sincerely admire married couples who were high school sweethearts.)

Nineteen: The summer after my freshman year of college, I went to France and Italy with my parents and got to see a lot of the art I had just finished learning about in the two Art History courses I had just taken the final exam in.

Twenty:  After life-shattering heartbreak (not worth elaboration.), I started playing music with a group of guys I met through school, which would later become the first band I ever played in.  An identity crisis if I ever had one, turned into learning a lot about the world and a scene that my goody-two-shoes self would have never experienced without taking a few risks.  In this period of my life, I ended up with a tattoo and a few items crossed off my "I've never" list.  And that's all I'll say about that.  I miss these guys to this day, they will always have a special place in my heart and my memories.

Twenty-one:  After graduating from college, I moved back to Arizona, bought a condo, and started my career in the defense industry.  So much Ann Taylor in my life.

Twenty-two:  When my little sister got her ears pierced, I got a second hole pierced in mine so that she could see that it wasn't so bad.

Twenty-three / Twenty-four:  This was my favorite pre-Daniel phase with no close second.   I combined these two years because so much went on in my life that I can't remember exactly how old I was for different things.  This was the time of my one-year dating fast (best decision ever).  I played sand volleyball, lived with my cousin, went to Costa Rica on a yoga retreat, got back into my faith, traveled a ton and focused hard on my job.  Life was great.

Twenty-five:  The first time I rented a car by myself, I was in Denver, Colorado for a business trip.  When I got into the car on the driver's side, I noticed that someone had forgotten something on the passenger seat, so I grabbed it and went back inside to see if they had a lost and found. I was informed by the clerk that it was an ice-scraper.  I had never seen one before, and to this day I wouldn't know how to use one.

Twenty-six:  I met my husband.  We were quickly engaged and marriage preparation / wedding planning basically dominated my life.  I started this blog.  I also moved back in with my parents (another best decision ever) and got to keep it traditional while relishing the last time my little sister, a senior in high school, and I would probably ever live in the same house.

Twenty-seven:  Got married. Got pregnant.  Took out my belly button ring.

Twenty-eight:  Got dogs. Got baby. (you can read all about all of this in blog archives)

photo credit: Jane Z

Twenty-nine:  I will always remember this age as when I truly felt like I grew up.  Maybe it's because I have a kid under my roof, so I don't get to be a kid anymore myself.  Maybe it's because I left my job in the corporate world and am doing what my heartstrings were tugging at me to do all the while.   Or maybe it's from the two + years of marriage and growing in my role as a wife and everything that comes with that.  Maybe it's because of all the grey hairs on my head and unstylish clothing I find so comfortable.

Remember when thirty seemed like it would feel so old?
Tomorrow, I'll let you know.

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