Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Birthday Tiny Prints (and 30% OFF for you)

Tiny Prints has it all.  Whether you need birth announcements, graduation party or baby shower invitations, thank you notes or any of your personalized stationery needs, their stuff is top notch.

It's their birthday this week and now through March 4, they are giving you the gift of 30% off EVERYTHING.  This is their best deal of the year. 

I personally love the idea of getting a jump on Mother's Day gifts with personalized photo notebooks, iPhone cases or mugs (and many more options).  Why not order this week, get it DONE and save some moola?

Oh and did I mention this also includes canvas prints and designer photo books?

If you shop Tiny Prints by clicking through from this blog, it also supports Becoming Julie Griffin in a very small way, so thanks :)

Click here to shop:
Tiny Prints Cyber Monday

When you check out, use the promo code BDAY10 to save 30% on your entire order.

Happy Birthday Tiny Prints!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Penny Goes to the Dentist Again

We took Penny to the dentist for the first time when she was just over a year old.  You can read about that experience here.

Since then, we've been pretty good about caring for her teeth.  Or so we thought.  Thoroughly brushing before bedtime (almost every night, and always if she had sugar or juice that day), never nursing her to sleep or giving her anything to drink in her crib, and not giving her hard candy or other obvious culprits for teeth damage.

Not good enough.  

I know if my college-roommate dentist friend is reading this... palm. forehead.

I just took Penny to the dentist for her 18-month preventative care exam.  Eye opening. 

A mom with morning sickness (Dan didn't come this time), and a toddler who has just entered into the shy-around-strangers phase, made this second visit less fun from the start.

We watched the last three minutes of the USA/Canada men's hockey game in the waiting area, which was a real bummer (and also the only Olympic coverage I actually watched this year) then walked back into the exam room where Penny immediately panicked and clung to me like Apollo's hair on black pants.  Maybe she knew what was coming.

The plaque on her teeth was awful.  I was so embarrassed.  It was way up at the top of her teeth by her gums in a place you can't see unless you manually lift her upper lip up toward her nose.  It was orange.  It was slimy.  It was tooth-brush proof.  Dr. Culp had to use a metal scraper tool to get it off for me.  Penny cried.  Maybe the most sobering experience of my motherhood so far.

I had no idea so much gunk was growing on her little teeth, I thought I was adequately checking the box for toddler oral hygiene.

Later I googled 'early childhood tooth decay' photographs, that's enough to get any parent to wake up and smell the fluoride.

Caries = Cavities.  image source

So, moving forward... twice a day, at least.  Brushing thoroughly is a two-man-job, one to hold down her hands and distract her, and the other to hold her head and brush each tooth thoroughly, lifting her lips to really get to the base of each tooth.  She hates it in the moment, but she gets over it very quickly, and amazingly she looks forward to the next time we get to brush.

Also, I'm buying her an electric toothbrush, which are much more efficient for bristle revolutions in a short amount of time.  Dr. Culp even suggested that we might want to get a tool like the one he used on her, in case any any of that aggressive plaque starts to show up again before her next visit this summer.

Oy vey.  If you are reading this and have a kid younger than mine, please, do better than us in this area.

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Monday, February 17, 2014


Yep! Penny announced her big-sister-ness on Valentine's Day with an adorable valentine that she made [colored on] for the new baby. 

Here's the Instagram in case you missed it:

And here are some of the juicy details and FAQ's:

Due Date: September 7th (I'm 11-weeks now). Queue comments about another miserable pregnant Arizona summer... This is about three weeks later than my Penelope due date, meaning all my seasonal maternity clothes should be just right.  

Finding Out: New Year's Eve, up in Flagstaff (Northern Arizona) at my parents' cabin. We were up there with our toddler and our dogs, and our good friends (she's also pregnant!) and their dogs.  I was at Day 31 in my cycle so I figured maybe it wasn't too early to take a pregnancy test, and sure enough there was that little faint line.  I had slept in a little bit... because, cabin... and took the test before I emerged from my slumber chamber. Dan was making eggs and chatting with our friends in the kitchen, and as soon as he saw my face when I walked out, he knew too :)

Were We Trying?: my not-favorite response to telling people we're pregnant is when they say "You know what causes pregnancy, right?" [hardy har har]. Yes we know what causes it, and we did that thing, so I suppose you could call that "trying."  You know we don't do any artificial contraception if you've read any of my NFP-related posts.  We're married. God blessed us with another pregnancy. Maybe you could say He was trying :)

How have I been feeling?:  bleh. Not good.  This first trimester has been nothing like my last pregnancy.  Let's just say I lost 12 pounds in the three weeks following our Hawaii trip last month.  I've almost unsubscribed from Instagram multiple times because all the food posts make me want to barf.  I threw up after having gingerale and saltines a few weeks ago and now I can't even look at either.  The prescription anti-nausea medication really helps a lot on days when I have important things to do (like leaving the house), but the side effects were taking a toll on my digestive system so I've been trying not to take it every day.  It's been a real balancing act and it's been very difficult on our family life. I've been very blessed with lots of help with Penny. Hoping to turn a corner soon when my second trimester comes around.  Trying to keep my head upon this department. 

Are we gonna find out the sex of the baby?: Although I maintain that finding out the sex of the baby with your husband and NOT telling anyone else is definitely the way to go with your first child, we decided that with we are going to find out AND share the news this time!  The grandmothers are happy about this.  Both Dan and I think it's a rambunctious little boy. 

Food cravings: when I actually want to eat, I've been gravitating toward cinnamon raisin toast with cream cheese, strawberries, rice Chex, macaroni and cheese, tuna on sourdough, tortilla chips, and juice (my juice cravings change every day so we have like 5 varieties in our fridge). Oh, and I could really go for a dirty vodka martini, but, pregnant, so...

More to come! Thank you for your prayers and encouraging words!

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hearty Red Soup: Borscht (Recipe)

(A guest post! Yay!  Oh, you thought I made this recipe? No, that would be my husband...)

Borscht.  By Daniel Griffin.

As we approach Valentine's Day, I wanted to share a hearty red recipe (get it?) that also coincides with what is seasonally available from our little neighborhood organic farm, especially the delicious beets. And after all, mass-produced heart-shaped candies and early church martyrs aside, nothing says LOVE quite like beets do.

It is a little known fact that the four horsemen of the soup apocalypse are: Pozole, Avgolemono, Mulligatawny, and Borscht. Yes, Borscht, the high Eastern European lord of soups.

Before I list the recipe that a few of you may be adventurous enough to try: know this, Borscht recipes vary greatly. In the websites I surveyed when I started developing my own take, the common discussion centers around what is or is not "traditional."  I, on the other hand, just want what is delicious. Also, many Borscht recipes include meat, which mine does not.  You'll find a lot of similarities if you look up other Borscht Recipes, particularly between mine and the one in Moosewood.  But this is how I like it the best.  

Know this too, this soup is very very good for you.

For your taste buds' sake, hopefully I haven't already lost you with my odious preface.  Happy Cooking!


4 cups chicken broth/stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
1 farm stand bunch of beets, diced and peeled (about 2 cups)
1 Yukon gold potato, diced (approximately 1.5 cups)
2 Tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, chopped (about 1.5 cups)
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 large carrots, peeled and cut
1 stalk celery, cut
3 cups red cabbage, chopped
1 -2 tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
a bunch of chopped fresh dill (I like a lot, maybe 3 Tbsp)
black pepper to taste

Garnish for each bowl:
sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
fresh dill
squeezed lemon wedge on top
salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, bring broth, beets, and potatoes to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Reserving the stock, drain beets and potatoes into a side bowl and set both aside.

In the same pot, heat butter over medium heat. Add onions, caraway seeds and 1 tsp salt, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add carrot, celery, cabbage, and reserved vegetable stock. Cover and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, beets, and all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Puree contents of pot in blender (working in small batches at a time depending on size of your blender). I very much prefer this texture, specifically with this soup, but if you prefer a chunkier stew-like texture, skip this step. Return to pot and continue to simmer.

Serve immediately, topped with the garnishes listed to your liking.

Listen to your body say "thank you," and Happy Valentine's Day!

Oh, and please show your Valentine's Day Love by clicking over to Top Baby Blogs and voting for my wife.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

GooseWaddle Blanket Sets (giveaway closed)

Rather than bore you with too many details about my worst grocery store visit ever wherein my toddler screamed up and down every aisle AND dumped a new container of goldfish crackers all over the floor in front of the orange juice.... I'm going to introduce you to something lusciously soft and sweet and cuddly instead...  (and there's a giveaway at the end)

GooseWaddle Swaddle Blankets:  

Fairly new to the market, I've not seen these new luxury blankets out in stores yet, so I was super excited at the opportunity to review them!  

Penny got a set of GooseWaddle(tm) products in the mail this week, including a white swaddle blanket and little blankie.  

They came packaged up with yellow ribbons tied off with little goose-feet.  My first thought was how cute they would look in a baby shower gift basket.  

When I unwrapped them I was seriously impressed with how luxuriously soft they are.  Like, surprised; I kind of expected it to feel just like other "soft" blankets, but no.  Seriously soft.

I washed both blanket and blankie before giving them to Penelope, and was pleased with how the material retained its fresh plush silky texture after drying on the drying rack (it says not to put in the dryer).  

I've not used Penny's blanket for swaddling (unfortunately my 18-month-old doesn't like to be restrained in any way) but she likes to clutch it and hug it to her cheek like a stuffed animal, or put it on the ground so she can lay on top of it.  It's adorable.  And I love knowing how soft it is on her sweet toddler skin.

I really like the clean look of these solid-color blankets.  It's like they're so soft and high quality that they don't have to prove anything with patterns or embroidery or other noisy designs.  

If you're interested in learning more about this new company, be sure to also check out their Buy 1, Give 1 Campaign where they donate blankets to babies in need.  It kind of gives me the warm and fuzzies (pun intended).

Win a Set:

I'm so pleased to offer one lucky reader a blanket set ($90 value) for his or her favorite little one!  Enter to win one for your own bundle of joy, or use it as a gift for another mama or mama-to-be.

How to Enter: simply leave a comment on this blog post with the color you would like (pink, blue or white) and a way for me to reach you if you win.  That's it, you don't need to share this post or follow anyone on social media or vote for anything.  Just a comment will do.  Make sure you're at your computer, comments don't typically come through from mobile platforms including the iPhone (annoying, I know).  

I'll draw a winner at 4pm (in Arizona) on Valentine's Day.  I'll put the winner in touch with GooseWaddle and they will ship a blanket set to his or her front door.  Yay!

Good luck!

*Update: Congrats to Danielle from Connecticut, GooseWaddle Blanket Set Giveaway Winner!

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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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Penny Jane: Eighteen Months Old

About a week late, here's the latest ramblings on our little girl.

I think she weighs approximately 21 or 22 pounds.  She's still wearing mostly size 12-18 month shirts and pajamas, but the pants are way too short.  Shoe size is 5.5.  She's trying to learn to run and falls down often.  As soon as one bump or bruise on her body is about to heal, it seems like she's bound to get another one, but I supposed that's the way it goes with toddlers.

Food's a party.

She eats pretty well with a fork and spoon and wants to do everything by herself (like, two-year-old status).  Those molars she worked on for two months sure have come in hand, she chews food like a grownup now, even things like nuts and salad (though we probably won't try tortilla chips again for a while after the almost-choking incident last summer).  She also likes role reversal, feeding a "bite" to the grownup next to her, sometimes even doing a modified airplane landing near his or her face.  Lucky you if you sit next to her at a dinner party.  Speaking of airplanes, if you missed it, you can read about her first airplane trip here.

Her dance moves now include the spin-around, the arm-whirl, the side-to-side, the stomp-stomp, and the bootie-bounce.  Other favorite moves are scurrying away (I say scurrying because "running" wouldn't quite be accurate) in a game of chase, climbing onto the couch and stomping from one end to the other.  This is one of those things I probably shouldn't have let her start... but we have a cheap couch.  Into the realm of pretending: on command, Penny will be a chicken, a monkey or a dog.  She can also make the sounds of a cow, kitty, owl, horse, and fish.  We're working on snake.

A quirk: We have these stacking cups that she plays with in the shower.  From largest to smallest, they stack blue, green, yellow then red.  Penny refuses to let all four cups be stacked together, pairing only the yellow with the green, and the red with the blue.  She gets very upset of you disrupt this combination.  VERY upset.  Hopefully this is not a glimpse of any obsessive compulsive tendencies.  At least she's consistent.

Another favorite toy is the pink hand-me-down scooter from cousin Hope.  She will push and pull that thing all day long.  Around the kitchen, around the basement, down the street, all the way to the park some days.  She also does not like for others to interfere with her scooter-pushing, even if she's trying to get it down a flight of stairs.

She's been sleeping about 11 hours every night, and napping almost 3 hours every afternoon.  I sort of feel spoiled, but I also feel like I earned it, I mean the kid didn't sleep consistently through the night until she was over 8-months-old.

Every time I think we've turned a corner in our teeth-brushing routine, it seems she hits a wall again.  Molars go fine, but she does not like when I do her tops and bottoms so much so that I have to hold her hands down and put her in a modified gentle head lock most nights to get them.  She gets over it quickly and the next time around she's always eager to brush her teeth, so I don't think I'm scarring her for life, but I do look forward to a day when she readily offers me those pearly whites for a good scrubbing.  She also likes to brush my teeth for me, a fun experience for one of us.  I figure it's only fair.

We're gradually entering into the territory of sharing and taking turns.  We have a very hard time letting a friend (even if it's a dog) play with or have something that we think is rightfully ours.  I think I might actually need to read some parenting books on this one, I didn't expect sharing to be so. incredibly. devastating.   Example: She'll pick up Apollo's ball, entice him over, throw it for him, then cry like somebody died when it's in his mouth and she doesn't have it anymore.  "Mama, ball, ball" she says between sobs.  It's so irrational but so real to her.  I try not to laugh and instead acknowledge and talk her through her feelings: "I know you're disappointed, but that's Apollo's ball and it's his turn to have it (plus you threw it for him)."  I can't make this stuff up.

In the mornings after nursing in "Mommy's bed" she hands me my phone and says "Mulmo" indicating she wants to watch Elmo videos on YouTube.  I'm not a morning person, so most days I indulge and even close my eyes a little bit more.  Dan is not a fan of this habit, I say it could be worse.

We're still breast-feeding 2-3 times per day but I've also introduced (chocolate) almond milk to get some extra calcium in her.  She does not like dairy milk or plain almond milk.  We call the almond milk her "milkshake" to get her to drink it -- thinking maybe she's got a little bit of her mama's sweet tooth in her.  Most days she'd much rather have apple or cranberry juice (very much diluted), or whatever I'm drinking.

We are working on "Please" and "Thank You" but neither are taking, yet.  She uses "Oh!" for either I like thisI want thisI need help with thisI've discovered this, or This is for you.  She's very expressive with her pointing and nodding and her eye brows.

Eighteen months is my favorite age so far.

Here are some photos from our recent trip to the Butterfly Wonderland, perfect for this age.

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