Saturday, April 26, 2014

Matilda Jane Love (giveaway closed)

Happy Spring!!

If you love MJC as much as I do, you're as excited to see this post as I was to write it!

Today we're checking out Matilda Jane Clothing's new Spring collection, called It's a Wonderful Parade!  (psst… and there's a $50 giveaway at the bottom!)

In these photos, Penny and her cousin Hope are wearing the Love Bug Knot Top, the Cloudy Puffer Tee, and the Sweetheart Ruffle Leggings.  

Hope is wearing all three pieces, and Penny is sporting the knot-top in true hot Arizona style... with nothing underneath.  This top is so versatile that it can be dressed up with ruffles and pants, or practical for toddler play with nothing underneath but a diaper cover!   I so love the knot top dresses and tops available from Matilda Jane Clothing right now, there's nothing cuter.  Penny is going to wear the whole ensemble, ruffles and all, to her next daddy-daughter date with Dan.  In the mean time, you can find her sporting her Love Bug about once a week around the neighborhood.  She's getting to the age where she likes to pick out her own outfits, and without fail, if this top is clean and in her closet, it's her first choice any given day -- I think she feels extra cute in it :)

How to Shop
You can find a Trunk Keeper in your area and buy the items through them.  It's kind of like an underground boutique of girly goodness.  If you live near me in the Phoenix area, I've tracked down a seller near us.  If not, you can find one through the website, easy as (storebought) pie.

GIVEAWAY: One lucky reader will win a $50 gift card towards their next Matilda Jane Clothing purchase!

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 Clothing Collections online, and in the comments below, share which item(s) you might like to purchase if you won.  A blog comment is you putting your name in the hat! (Comments might not come through if you post from your smartphone, so it's best to enter from a computer.)

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.

I will select a winner at random at 8am (Arizona time) next Saturday May 3rd!  Good luck!

P.S.  I also wanted to mention that this collection has some really neat grownup items.  Soooo don't feel like you can only enter this giveaway to shop for a little one in your life!

P.P.S. My blogariffic sister-in-law is featuring a MJC review on her blog this week as well, check it out:  Matilda Jane Review at The Lang Gang Loves.

* 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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Thursday, April 24, 2014

20-week anatomy scan, why I love my OBGYN, and Chop Chop goes the Hairs

So..... kind of a big week for us.

After a big huge fight (happily married people fight? yes.) that spanned a day-and-a-half, Dan and I made peace and right on time to head to my doctor's office five minutes late for little baby's first (and hopefully only) ultrasound.

This brings me to my first reason I love my doctor and his ways.  He doesn't do ultrasounds all throughout the pregnancy unless they are medically necessary.  I'm iffy on the fence about the long term affects of ultrasound technology on our precious little babies while they are swimming around in amniotic fluid.  Not saying ultrasounds are bad, but what if 30 years from now we learn something???  I mean, they used to do radiation as x-rays before they knew better...  Anyway, I'm glad it's just one, and I'm glad it's at 20 weeks and not earlier, so they can get a good solid look at everything.  I'm not jealous of all y'all who come home with rolls of sonogram pictures after every. single. office. visit. just because you wanted one and your doctor said ok.  Although, to be clear, if it were medically necessary for me and the little melon to undergo additional ultrasounds, I wouldn't hate that I got to see more pictures. 

Low and behold... there's a BABY in there.  A squirmy one with a beating heart and huge feet and a handsome profile that looks just like Penny.

The gender you ask?  Yes, we know.  We weren't planning on finding out in the exam room (we were gonna do the envelope thing), but in the car on the way there we decided it was no big deal and we should just look.   It was... elating... I cried... and then it was... ho hum.   Like, now I know.  And it's wonderful to see and know... and the day goes on.

We have planned a big informal gathering to reveal pink/blue tonight, so I won't say anything here and now except that last night I had all kinds of dreams about crazy names we might choose for our offspring and our families' (negative) reactions to them.  I awoke with anxiety.  This is one reason why we will not be talking names with anyone besides each other until we've written something on a birth certificate.

Another reason I love my OBGYN's office?  Everyone there and everything they do is one hundred percent pro-woman, pro-dignity, pro-sanctity of life.  They walk the walk of truly dignifying women's bodies AND all human life by not participating in any practices that may hurt any patient that comes in, or the new life growing inside of her.  Their approach to well-woman care, prenatal care, fertility AND infertility... and anything else that comes... all of it:  Pro-life.  No embryo discarded, no patient disregarded.  You can't say that about many ob's these days.  I feel good and I feel safe when I go in there, knowing that where I'm at is a part of the culture of life.  It's important to me that I feel safe and at peace when I spend time with the medical team that is overseeing my pregnancy and birth.  Every woman should feel one hundred percent comfortable with her medical team when she's pregnant, whatever her reasons are for preferring one practitioner or midwife over another.  Stepping down from soap box now.

The other big news this week? As you can see from the insta-before and insta-after, I got my hairs done!  Holler!  Big friggin' deal you say...  To that I tell you it's been just over six months since my girl Kim got her hands on my locks and oh did they need some love.  Not sure if you noticed but I've been rocking the braid a lot... that's because my hair was so gnarly I couldn't get a brush through it.  It was so long I couldn't reach the bottom of it even if I had wanted to brush it down my back.  We cut off four inches today and it's still long.  Oh, and I'm going blonde.  Well, maybe.  We went pretty light today and I'm planning to go lighter again in 4 weeks.  The best part was that I got to spend three hours by myself.  In a salon that smells like Aveda.  I don't feel entitled to this, but when it comes around I sure do appreciate it, especially when it's been since last October.   Can you tell I'm excited? OK I'll stop with the hair talk.   Mmmmmm my hair smells so good.   OK that was it.

I ramble about my hair because all I want to do is tell you if I am having a boy or a girl.  Next time my friend, next time.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Out of the Office: Six Months

It's been six months since I gave my two-weeks' notice to the company that paid my salary and developed me as a young professional for over eight years.

Whew.  Eight years I worked there.

I was talking with my cousin last week, she's a college fresh-out working in corporate America, traveling quite a bit, putting in crazy hours and putting in crazy dollars to her 401K.  She's far more intelligent and ambitious than I, it was really cool to chat with her and be inspired that I'm related to such a young woman.

It made me think of my first year on the job.  The excitement, the nerves.  What it felt like to learn the culture of a work place, being surrounded by adults with more experience than me.  It was invigorating.

Talking to her was the first time in six months I had a slight itch for my old life.  I loved working.  Especially traveling.  And earning.  And being a meaningful contributor to something big and important, part of a team of grownups, under pressure with deadlines and demands and stress and big rewards.

But the itch was not like a mosquito bite itch that lingers for days and days, more like a feather landed on me and then immediately blew away.  Fleeting, leaving no trace.

Working in that world formed me so much.  It enabled the lifestyle that I became accustomed to -- some good things, some bad.   It taught me to interact with people professionally and organize the tasks on my plate -- which doesn't necessarily translate to managing a house or parenting a toddler, but it does help with managing my small photography business.  I saved up healthily, so that was pretty cool, but it wasn't just about the money.  It was the independence, the autonomy, the empowerment.  I had a great job, working with great people.  I was doing it.  All by myself.

I am thankful for my short career and how it impacted my young-adult life.  I hope to always embody the traits that helped me succeed there, and I hope I never forget what it was like to put on grown-up clothes and deliver a presentation to the superiors that made me nervous; or get on an airplane by myself to a city I'd never been to, with two laptops and two business suits in tow, crossing my fingers that none of said superiors would be on my same flight and see me traveling in sweatpants.  I hope my brain never turns to mush.  That I'm always good at proofreading an email or a resume for someone else, or always quick to come up with a better word for conveying an idea.  I hope I've still got it when I've been out of the workplace for a year, five years, ten.

I loved my career.

But I don't miss it.  Not one bit.

It's that all by myself thing.  That's what changed.  Now there's a Dan, and a Penny, and a melon-in-my-belly.   I wouldn't trade anything about my life now to go back to anything I was doing when it was just me by myself.

I'm thankful for it all.

Tiny Prints Cyber Monday

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Memory Story: The day we made play dough

She went down for a nap earlier than usual. Yessss, I thought to myself, it's going to be a long one and I am going to get so much done.

I marinated chicken for dinner and unloaded the dishwasher from last night. I made myself a snack, responded to a couple emails and got to working on photos.

Lately I've been neglecting to turn on the video monitor to her room until a couple of hours have passed of her nap, a sign that I've moved into more relaxed parenting, and also that she's consistent enough in her napping that I can rely on her sleeping a certain amount of time. I should have left it at that today.

This day I turned on the monitor to have a peek at her before I sat down at my computer. There she lay, so peaceful in the corner of her crib. In typical fashion she had bunched up her muslin blanket beneath her belly, hoarding it from the other crib occupants. Her pacifier had plopped out of her mouth.

I was culling through some newborn photos I took this weekend and as I looked at the naked sleeping 2-week-old on my computer screen, it occurred to me that my own child, sleeping peacefully, must be cold. On the monitor , Penny's legs were tucked into her body in the same sleeping pose as baby Blaire's on my iMac. I had to go down there to place a blanket on her.

Back fire. Long story short (ish), when I went down to the basement and into her room, despite my dark tiptoes she felt my presence and stood up in her sleep to be held.  Soon, she was awake.  She was not cold.

half a nap's good enough for me!
So I cut my losses (an hour and a half of quiet at the computer and a well-rested toddler around dinner time) and decided we should make play dough.

I've been wanting to make play dough for a while, remembering the hours of fun I had as a kid sculpting and creating with that homemade salty goodness.

Penny helped.  I used this recipe. It worked like a charm and took like 5 minutes to make.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (which is actually a powder not a cream, in the spice aisle, for those of you like me who have no idea where to find things like this in the grocery store)
  • food coloring as desired
  • 1 cup flour
  1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.
  2. Remove from heat and add flour.
  3. Stir in saucepan, then remove and knead until smooth (I did this on parchment paper, be careful it's hot!). The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you don't have it on hand.
  4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag
adding the food coloring

I look forward to more play dough adventures as she gets a little older.  Today it was about squishing and pulling and, of course, tasting. The dough provided about fifteen minutes of fun before we started throwing it across the room and the fun was over.  But I know our time will come when rolling pins and cookie cutter letters and plastic cups provide hours of fun! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

P is for....

Back pain.  Trouble sleeping.  Sharp pains in my lower abdomen as my uterus stretches.  Mmmmm... don't remember being this uncomfortable this early in my last pregnancy but compared to my first trimester, the second is a walk in the park.  (Ask Dan how it went the time he suggested it's because I was in poorer shape when I got pregnant this time around.)   We are looking forward to finding out the sex of the baby two days after Easter.  Funny, we haven't even talked (or really thought?) about names yet.  The weeks are flying by so fast.  I've certainly "popped" and am enjoying wearing maternity shorts and tanks that accentuate the belly.  I had to go buy some jean shorts, and was trying to figure out how the heck I made it through the last pregnancy (due August 16th) without acquiring a single pair of maternity shorts?  Then I realized... I was still working in corporate America last pregnancy and I had to wear grownup clothes everyday.  I lived in dresses and capri slacks two summers ago.  What a different life I live now.  You can check out Instagram hash tag #babygriffinbump to watch my belly expand every two weeks.

The movie is Frozen.  The character is Olaf.  The devotion is unprecedented.  Every day we watch and Penny's eyes sparkle of gid when Princess Anna gives him a new carrot nose.
The song is "Let it Go."  We watch.  I play it on the piano.  We sing it in the bath.  We sing it before naps. We sing it during diaper changes.
Oh, you don't know what I'm talking about?  You don't have kids and haven't seen the epic masterpiece that is Disney's latest CG musical?  Well, you should.

I've been crazy busy, doing 2-3 shoots per week.  Dan says I need to raise my prices but I'm just not there yet.  There are a lot of things about my shooting and editing that I want to refine before I feel like I'm worthy of the next price range.  I've been able to keep my costs down -- er, minus the initial investment in equipment, of course -- working with only clients I've met through my own network of people and referrals.  Facebook is amazing like that.   Just this weekend I have a newborn shoot, a birthday party, and some college senior portraits, how cool is that?  I'm looking forward to launching a website some time later this month, in the mean time, everything is still here on the blog and on Facebook.  Here are a few favorites from 2014 so far:

Thank you for supporting Becoming Julie Griffin with your daily vote on Top Baby Blogs!

Tiny Prints Cyber Monday

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grad Guide (Tiny Prints Promo)

"Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-raising, they are unemployed." ~Erma Bombeck

Tiny Prints Graduation Announcements and Invitations

OK, so graduation season may be a tough time for us grownups.  I've had the privilege of photographing some beautiful seniors this grad season, and I gotta tell you... I get a little emotional myself when I show the photos to the moms.  They are overwhelmed with pride in the young adults their babies grew up to be, it's contagious.  I can't believe that will be me some day.  But I digress.

Graduation season is a time to celebrate in style.  Share your pride and joy with everyone you know.  Tiny Prints can help you do just that.  With more than 300 designs to choose from, you can customize announcements and invitations with pictures of your graduate, custom text, and more.  Right now, you can enjoy discounts up to 15% on graduation essentials by clicking here and using promo code GRAD15APR at checkout.  You can also use promo code FREESHIP49 for free shipping on orders over $49.  These two offers are good through April 8th.  

And, just for funsies (and non-etiquette-junkies), here is a little guide to help you and your grad plan out your mailings....

Tiny Prints Graduation Etiquette

 Which one is your favorite?
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