Arizona is home… for now.

Cody and I have been thinking of where we would like to live if we ever left Arizona. Then I take pictures like this and wonder if I could ever leave this kind of beauty.

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There is no sky like an Arizona sky. You can see for MILES.

We're planning a trip to Nashville for our anniversary this year (and keeping our fingers crossed that it actually works out) because we are super intrigued by living there… even though we've never been there before. So call us crazy that it's at the top of our list of places to live- vastly different than this scenery, that much I know.

I think that no matter where I live, Arizona will always be home. I love this place more than words can say. But Cody and I both agree that if we didn't take a chance and move our family somewhere else at some point, we may regret it someday. It would be a huge change and super difficult to leave our family and friends, but it's time for some adventure in our lives!

Maybe we'll just pack our loved ones in our bags and take them along.

Just sayin'.

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My new lover.

I have a confession to make: I'm cheating on my husband.

I've been saying for a while now that I DESPERATELY NEEEEEEEEEEEEEDED a DSLR camera because I NEEEEEEEEEEED to be able to take the BEST pictures POSSIBLE of Linnea while she's growing up.

That's my excuse, anyway. 

We have a great point-and-shoot camera that Cody's mom gave us for our anniversary- we absolutely love it and take it with us everywhere. I officially caught the SLR camera bug when I went to my mom and dad's house and came across this beauty:

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My grandpa's old Voigtlander Vitomatic II that he bought in Germany back in 1958.

No idea how to use it. All I kept hearing from my parents was, "It takes the most GORGEOUS pictures EVER," but didn't have time for a crash course on how to use a fully manually operated camera. As a consolation prize, I dug out my old 35mm Canon EOS Rebel 2000 SLR
(that I bought waaaaaay back in 1999 when I was a photography major for a semester) and took it with us up to Flagstaff for a day trip.

Four rolls of film, one set of camera batteries and $53 later, we had our developed pictures back the next day. And don't get me wrong- they were great. But some of them were underexposed. Some were overexposed. Some weren't framed right. Sure, I could mail in the negatives to a scanning shop and get the negatives on disk… at $0.69 a pop. Needless to say… I loved shooting with this camera, but it was starting to get ridiculously expensive.

So we finally did it. I had already been researching cameras and decided on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i AND I LOVE IT. It was a HUGE splurge, but to me it was worth every penny we have to pinch in the meantime. I'm still learning how to use it, and so far it has taken some amazing pictures. Meet my lover, Leon:

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I know the basics, but I will be DEVOURING the tutorials on The Pioneer Woman

So what if my kid was the perfect excuse to get a fancy camera? She's the perfect subject. Can you blame me for wanting the best photos possible of the two loves of my life?

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Sorry, Leon. As exciting as you are and as much fun as we have together, I'll never leave him for you.

Know any fun photography tutorials? Share them here!

First trip to the ocean.

This post is waaaaaaaaay overdue, but too cute not to share, nonetheless. Linnea's first time seeing the ocean. Thanks Jess for taking these for me!

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She was only five months old at the time- it's hard to believe how tiny she was, and how fast she's been growing! Also, I'm not gonna lie: I think she hated the ocean. It was a little too loud and a little too cold for her tastes, but with time I'm sure it'll grow on her! That, or she'll be a mountain lake kinda girl, just like her mama.

ENOUGH. With the INCESSANT. SCREAMING.

I used to call Linnea's random vocal exercises "opinions." The kid has opinions on everything. She wakes up with opinions. Very opinionated in the crib every morning, very opinionated. It's cute. But it has evolved. She's become a noisy little monster. Interesting, this has coincided with us introducing solids… hmm… is there something in orange root vegetables that sends kids completely over the edge? I'm really beginning to wonder.

All day long, my child has been screaming. At the top of her lungs. And it makes. my. ears. BLEED. I don't even know when this happened, or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY, but it is as if the floodgates of Linnea's otherwise innocent vocal cords have been opened and the combined volume of all the choirs in heaven have been concentrated into one shrill sound that now only stops when she is either eating or sleeping or laughing at our dogs. I didn't really notice how bad it was until yesterday when my parents and Amma were over here and my mom was trying to feed Linnea some sweet potato and broccoli and she just started SCREAMING. And my poor mom was plugging her ears and saying "OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP" and I suddenly realized that my eardrums were vibrating and I had no clue what on God's green earth her problem was, but this nonsense needed to stop immediately. As I looked around at the faces of my parents and my dear, sweet grandma, and saw their helpless and expectant and wholly unamused expressions, I knew that when she started doing something that annoyed these three people, that it had to be pretty freaking bad.

Linnea: "eeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

My mom: "OH MY GOD why is she doing this? Make it stop! My ears can't handle this!"

Me: "How should I know? I'm only her mom…………… Um…………… No, Linnea, NOOOOOOOOO screaming. No screaming!"

Linnea: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…….. Heh heh heh. Heh."

So she thinks me disciplining her is FUNNY. Great. Not that I thought reasoning with a 7-month-old made any sense to begin with, but it's not like anyone had any better ideas to alleviate the shrieking. Ear plugs, perhaps?

I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure she's not completely doing it out of mockery. Like, "Oh, Mother, you think I have no idea this doesn't annoy the crap out of you, but not only am I fully aware, this is only the beginning of my grand master plan to break you down with annoying behavior followed up with acts so adorable you will never be mad at me." Everything I said would never happen with my child is already happening. It will be a battle of wills to the bitter end, of that I can assure you. I always used to say that I would never be that parent in the restaurant with the screaming child, but now I am the parent in the restaurant with the screaming child, and I see now what a drag it can be because all I want to do sometimes is relax at Starbucks with a latte, reading my new Real Simple magazine, and not be spit up on randomly while holding my daughter who would otherwise be screaming but instead is enamored with ripping up the pages of said magazine or pulling out my hair by the fistful or knocking over any interesting object within her reach, because if it's full of liquid or has buttons on it SHE WANTS IT IN HER MOUTH RIGHT NOW OR ELSE. 

Just another initiation into motherhood, I suppose. If I ever come up with a solution to her new need for screaming, I will let you know. If you have a solution, PLEASE SAVE ME. I miss the days when people used to say, "She has such a sweet, quiet cry!" Now all I get are eye darts thrown in my direction because I am That Mom with the Obnoxious Screamer Who Needs to Get Out Before the Angry Mob Attacks.

Sigh. I know. I'm leaving. Enjoy your quiet time, you dart-throwing, coffee-sucking DILL HOLES.

On that note, here's a photo of my dad and his sweet li'l screaming baby girl:

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As if the screaming matters. You could just never be mad at that face.

Using the F-word with abandon. Or, my blog sucks.

K, so I'm a week behind on starting this (if you know me, this should not be shocking AT ALL), but I'm stoked to say that I've joined the ProBlogger Summer Challenge with the SITS Girls Community on BlogFrog! Assignment one: Develop an Elevator Pitch.

Let's say you're stuck in an elevator with someone who you're DYING to connect with. You have ten seconds to entice them to give you a second thought beyond the elevator ride. What do you tell this person?

Dooce, the mother of all mom bloggers, was my inspiration when I started blogging in 2007 at a different time in my life, when I didn't even have the mommy-blogger thing going on yet. I was able to write relatively funny posts back then, but apparently one of the side effects of being a new mom zapped me of any ability to be funny. My mojo grew legs and moved to Timbuktu because IT WAS NOT READY TO BE A DADDY YET. (I have yet to receive one child support check from that lousy S.O.B. Mojo? YOU OWE ME.) And now? Mom bloggers are a dime a dozen, if we're gonna be honest. On the flip-side, it's emerged as a bona-fide profession. So what makes me stand out? Why did I start this little blog in the first place?

The truth? Because a year ago, when I learned I was going to be a mom, I didn't even know what to say. And apparently I lost my sense of humor. So I started a blog.

Made perfect sense to my pregnancy-clouded brain.

It was a place for me to process this whole mom-to-be thing. And write about how all I wanted to do was barf. And while I have friends and family who read it faithfully, I originally intended to build a readership outside of that sphere, and I never did. Needless to say, the lack of comments doesn't make me feel very interesting. Ha!

(That's your cue to leave a comment. In case you were confused about what to do next.)

Truly, my tag line sums up my original purpose nicely: "When motherhood and all its joys catch you completely by surprise." It's been there since the beginning, and it hasn't changed. Everything about the experience of becoming a mom has taken me by surprise. And I have discovered things along the way that would be helpful to other moms who are only beginning this journey, and I want to learn from others who have been where I am going. So if I could expand it to a ten-second pitch- if I were in an elevator with Heather (maybe someday we'll be on a first-name basis. OK, maybe not)- here's how that conversation would go:

(Pretend with me for a second that she would actually be interested in anything I have to say.)

The Pitch:

Me: "Hi Heather, you probably get this all the time, but I adore your blog and the fact that you shamelessly write out the f-word like your grandma isn't reading your blog, even though she probably is. I'm a mom blogger too, but I don't use the f-word."

Heather: "Another mom blogger? NO WAY. What's your spin on motherhood? And how do you NOT use the f-word? It is a rite-of-passage in the mommy-blogger world, after all."

Me: "It's called Baby Steps to Mom: When motherhood and all its joys catch you completely by surprise. I share stories, tips and fun finds from one novice mom to another. And I don't want to be judged for using the f-word, even though I'm perfectly OK with being judged by my breastfeeding choices."

Heather: "It's pure genius, I declare! On that note, I'll tell you what. If I had a nickel for every mommy blogger I met in an elevator, I'd be a $%@&ING MILLIONAIRE. Have a nice day!"

See? I still can't bring myself to use the F-word with the abandon she does. Not even in a fake conversation where I'm quoting a fake Heather Armstrong. Maybe if I start dropping f-bombs on a regular basis, I will build an interested readership that leaves TONS of comments on all my wit and charm! But, let's be serious, people. I'm not ready to do that.

My grandma actually does read this blog.

Something tells me…

…that this will be the same color coming out as it was going in. I suppose that's what we get for sticking store-bought baby-food squash with fresh avocado in a food processor.

I swear I saw this same stuff in her diaper (and also my shorts) yesterday.

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And now it's all over her face.

And just for the record, I don't think a little girl has ever loved her Daddy as much as this one does.

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Cloth Diapering: Peepoo edition.

Yes, I did just coin a new term. It means, "a slippery, runny, brown, stinky mixture typically found in a diaper; a hybrid of pee and poo." Genius, is it not?

And also, I KNOW! How very Sarah Palin of me. Or Shakespeare. Or whoever you want to credit with making up new words in the English language.

And yes, I still love my Fuzzibunz.

But I learned an important lesson when it comes to cloth diapering in one-size diapers: MAKE SURE THEY'RE PROPERLY ADJUSTED. If the leg holes are too big, you WILL eventually (deservedly) be punished with clothes covered in pee, poo, or any aforementioned combination of the two.

This happened to me yesterday while I was standing in line to check out at SAS Fabrics in Tempe. Which also happens to be one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon- crafty mamas, have you BEEN there yet?!- but I digress. My daughter disagrees wholeheartedly which apparently was why she decided to baptize me in her diarrhea. It came out of her diaper and ran down my shirt and into my shorts. YES, INTO MY SHORTS. She somehow managed to transfer her peepoo from her shorts to my shorts.

One would expect that if one would find human waste of any variety in her shorts, it better well be her human waste.

Don't say I didn't warn you, because apparently, this isn't always the case. How LJ accomplished that feat will forever remain a mystery, but let me assure you, I was in awe.

"You ate an entire wheel of cheese? I'm not even mad. I'm amazed." -Ron Burgundy, Anchorman

"You ate an entire jar of applesauce, and now your peepoo is no longer in your diaper, but is now in my shorts? I'm not even mad. I'm amazed." -Me, Real Life

That being said, I will forever remain an advocate for cloth diapering. This was not a cloth diaper fail; it was user error. This is the first time that anything of the sort has happened since we began cloth diapering, and I promise you that if LJ were still in disposable diapers that not only would I require a whole new wardrobe, this would have happened at least 8932754837603276980 times (as opposed to once), and peepoo comparable to the volume that shot out of her today would have left an EPIC mess. I still love our cloth diapers despite the fact that changing that diaper on the (leather) backseat of my Buick on a hot (and humid) Arizona afternoon in the dead of summer and having to keep it in the car the whole way home in rush hour traffic wasn't exactly a picnic (it wouldn't have been a big deal had I not forgotten the wet bag). Enduring the drive home in an outfit that made stripping down to my skivvies look like the better option in spite of the lack of tinting on my car's windows didn't even faze me. I would still advise any new parent to do it if they are weighing their options- I had the same reservations everyone has (namely THE POOP)- but it's so easy, and your wallet and your little one will be happier for it.

Anyway, lesson learned. Linnea isn't the only one who needs a spare change of clothes in the diaper bag. And when you are THAT mom in the store, with the shrieking kid on her hip wearing clothes freshly covered in diaper contents, you absolutely have to laugh at yourself.

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