Marching Forth

by Alison Friedman in Baby Land, Mommy's Musings, Pregnancy

Already this poor kid is getting the infamous second child shaft. Twenty weeks in, and she’s only had her own blog post once. Oh yeah, it’s a “she.” See? SO MUCH INFORMATION I HAVEN’T WRITTEN ABOUT. I think by 20 weeks, I had already blogged about Madelyn’s every cell, so this is an extreme departure in this chapter of motherhood.

So first thing’s first. As mentioned, it’s a girl! And a very healthy and perfect one at that, and Madelyn is so darn excited to have a little sister. We found out at our 12-week ultrasound. The tech was pretty sure it was a girl, but hesitated to tell us because she didn’t want me to go nuts (what would ever give her that impression?). We confirmed at an indulgent ultrasound studio that it was indeed 99% girl, and the tech there said the only reason she couldn’t tell us 100% is because they’re not allowed to. Holy vagina!

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The pregnancy started off stressful due to my beloved Dr. Fiiiiine confirming with me that she was going to cease the obstetrics portion of her practice in exchange for a more stable and consistent lifestyle with normal hours. Can’t say I blame her, but I was more than heartbroken. She had been there for me during the most amazing — and most scary — parts of my experiences with Madelyn, and I was sad that she would not deliver our second child. I also wasn’t thrilled about having to find a new OB, but she referred me to another local doctor who I’ve now seen twice. Dr. Replacement is very nice and knowledgeable, and so far I think I made a good decision by choosing to see him. I’ve heard that he’s an excellent surgeon and at this point, that’s what I care about most. As a second-time mom, I am not as concerned or worried about every minute symptom of the pregnancy and I don’t have to question about his practices during a natural delivery since I am having a repeat c-section. I’m confident he will do a nice job and will take the necessary precautions to make sure I don’t go through what I went through after Madelyn’s c-section.

I started this pregnancy seeing Dr. Fiiiine’s dad who she practices with (and who delivered me in 1983) because Dr. Fiiiine was out of town. Then I saw Dr. Fiiiine twice more before we decided we had to break up and see other people (me, other doctors; her, other women who were not bearing children). Before I found Dr. Replacement, I also did a test run with another popular OB in the area and wasn’t thrilled with him. I also sprinkled in a routine appointment with the perinatologist for a first trimester screen. So, lots of various doctors, and not a lot of consistency — thank goodness this wasn’t my first baby or I’d be a wreck! I’ll see Dr. Replacement next week at 21 weeks and only for the third time. His checks seem to be less detailed and exciting from what I remember at Dr. Fiiiine’s and of course I miss her office staff terribly, but I think once we hit the homestretch and it’s showtime, he’ll really deliver the goods. Literally and figuratively. And then, when I’m all done and it’s time for annual visits, I plan to go back to Dr. Fiiiine because there’s no love like your first love.

(Side note: I had to call Dr. Fiiiine’s office to transfer some records. We spoke on the phone and as we were hanging up, I blurted out, “I MISS YOU” and then there was a really awkward silence. I am THAT girl). (This could be me).

Other than the excitement of adding another girl to our house and the shuffle of doctors to deliver this girl, this pregnancy has been pretty low key. Like last time, I’ve felt really normal and pretty healthy. I was never too sick and the only thing that’s bothered me has been some pretty debilitating headaches, but I also appreciate how easy I’ve had it compared to some other moms.

Part of that ease has been Madelyn. The times when I am down for the count, that little girl impresses me beyond all expectations. She’s such a happy, independent player and can keep herself busy for hours. Whether it’s playing school with her dolls, reading books, coloring and painting, or dressing up in all of her princess costumes, I have felt better knowing I can take time for myself while she stays happy and healthy.

Out and about with my big girl who asked to take a selfie of us. Oy.

Out and about with my big girl who asked to take a selfie of us. Oy.

Of course we love our play time and snuggle time, and we enjoy many trips and errands out during the day, but I am so thankful for the times I need to be selfish.

I don’t know if it’s the hormones or if it’s the normal response, but I often find myself tearing up when she talks to “her” baby, hugs my belly, tickles it, and cuddles with her sister. Just this morning, during a cuddle sesh with my belly button that may as well poke an eye out, she said, “Oh, Baby! I just love you! I can’t wait to teach you!” Yeah. There was a puddle and it wasn’t my water breaking early, that’s for sure.

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I’m going to make sure I update more so that this little ones doesn’t come read this blog one day and hate me for neglecting to document her time in my belly. It’s gone fast and I know it’ll go faster now that we’re a little more than halfway done cooking. March 4th is the big day, and march forth we will!

Part of Her World

It’s no secret that Madelyn’s favorite Disney princess, movie, and ride at Disneyland is The Little Mermaid. She loves the music, the redhead, and the story. She lugs her Ariel doll everywhere, calls Bryan her Prince Eric, and sets the table with her dinglehopper. This kid is a no B.S. scholar of all things Mermaid.

So, no brainer. Her birthday party this year was decked out Under the Sea Chic — didn’t want too much commercial Disney decor, but wanted to set the mood using a sophisticated palette with lavenders and teals, lots of shells and sea glass, and netting with pearls.

Food was fun and easy and I’m kicking myself for not getting a lot of photos. The shell pasta salad was SO good and I will make it again and again. Here’s the recipe. You’re welcome. I made a crab out of a red bell pepper and stuck it in some hummus and used a dab to “glue” on his olive eyes. And then there were a few trays of Jersey Mike’s SANDwiches because, you know, THAT joke is a novel one. I set out a basket of individual bags of chips and Bryan asked me what I was going to name them. I was about to take a nanosecond to come up with something and then realized that not everything needs a name. CHIPS. They’re just CHIPS. However, I love food and I love puns. Kill me.

Ariel's Bikini Shells Pasta Salad -- Size C, for Carbs.

Ariel’s Bikini Shells Pasta Salad — Size C, for Carbs.

This party gave me crabs.

This party gave me crabs.

Sand dollar sugar cookies for the win!

Sand dollar sugar cookies for the win!

Little figurines of the beloved characters popped up here and there but I didn’t need to overdo it because we had THE REAL THING THERE!

Ariel, herself, swam up onto the land for the day to join us at the party and she was AMAZING. She came to us via Smile and a Song Princess Parties and people, I am telling you, the best best best character company I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy! If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you must call them for all your princess needs.

Ariel rang the doorbell and Madelyn answered. I think she was stunned, but quickly got on board with having a princess in her house.

A special guest is here? For moi?

A special guest is here? For moi?

What. The. What.

What. The. What.

Ariel is da hooooooouse

Ariel is da hooooooouse

Ariel’s voice was more pristine than the sea water — she was 100% Ariel from the start of the party until the end of the party. The girls adored her and even the little boys were into the whole 90-minute visit. The engagement she had with the kids was completely undivided and really, the whole experience was worth every penny (Ariel is not free, but her value is priceless). I swear, Madelyn believed that THE little mermaid dived out of the TV and into her backyard. She drank it right up and made this mama proud! And me? Well, I was like a kid in a candy store. I hardly socialized with our guests while Ariel was at the house because I didn’t want to miss one second of her interaction with the kids. It was so entertaining and while I could have left her to hold the kids’ attention while I participated in adult conversation, I chose to watch her show. She read The Little Mermaid book which is basically like hearing an autobiography from the author herself. And then she did songs with the kids. And she also did face and arm painting because in addition to singing, Ariel is also a talented artist.

Ariel fishes; the children bite.

Ariel fishes; the children bite.

Hans Christian Andersen would be so proud.

Hans Christian Andersen would be so proud.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups do adult things like finish sentences and eat a whole uninterrupted meal.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups do adult things like finish sentences and eat a whole uninterrupted meal.

... And I am emotionally moved by the "How to Dance Like a Princess" instruction.

… And I am emotionally moved by the “How to Dance Like a Princess” instruction.

Ariel puts Santa Claus to shame.

Ariel puts Santa Claus to shame.

Madelyn poses with Ariel, Prince Eric, and Ursula. Thanksalot.

Madelyn poses with Ariel, Prince Eric, and Ursula. Thanksalot.

Midway through the photos sesh, Madelyn got sassy and Ariel followed suit.

Midway through the photos sesh, Madelyn got sassy and Ariel followed suit.

And then all the kids got a turn to pose with the mermaid!

And then all the kids got a turn to pose with the mermaid!

Ariel is so hard core, she tatted up all the kids. Nose rings for Madelyn's 4th birthday party.

Ariel is so hard core, she tatted up all the kids. Nose rings for Madelyn’s 4th birthday party.

Ariel lead the birthday cake production and noted how the frosting resembled her home. I was so glad to pay homage to her roots.

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My girl loved everyone singing to her!

My girl loved everyone singing to her!

SO glad I didn't come to the party in my shell bikini top!  I mean, can you imagine?

SO glad I didn’t come to the party in my shell bikini top! I mean, can you imagine? I would totally lose in “Who Wore It Better”

After Ariel left, I was able to enjoy my other favorite aspect of Madelyn’s birthday party — mingling with friends and visiting with family members who’d traveled far and wide to celebrate with us. It was so nice having cousins together who don’t always get to hang out. And it’s always fun to have both of Madelyn’s great-grandmothers together because she’s so lucky to have two she can play with.

They're cousins! (un)identical cousins!

They’re cousins! (un)identical cousins!

I get by with a little help from my friends -- and sister mamas.

I get by with a little help from my friends — and sister mamas.

Together, this group photo is 184 years old.

Together, this group photo is 184 years old.

Group shot with representation from Mimi's family.

Group shot with representation from Mimi’s family.

Getting children to smile for the camera is like herding cats. While it’s extremely entertaining, what’s even more comical is the show going on behind the camera: eight adults squealing and jumping and shooting doting mother gang signs in order to get the munchkins to cooperate and look in the same general direction. With a smile. And still.

Madelyn enjoyed playing with her Siegel side — 2nd cousins — and the darling Epstein boys — 3rd cousins! — all together.

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Grown up cousins with their Granny and loving how their girls all play so nicely together!

Grown up cousins with their Granny and loving how their girls all play so nicely together!

It got dark, and we closed down the party. The afternoon in the shade (thank goodness, because it was a very hot day) turned out to be a successful birthday party for our little princess. Madelyn ended her night with cuddles from her grandparents and some expert gift unwrapping. She’s so lucky to have so many friends and family members who love her.

And we are so lucky to be part of her world.

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I don’t know how much longer I can produce these parties. I always say I’m going to just do something low key, but that’s a lie because I’m a glutton for punishment and actually enjoy the work that goes into a big birthday party. I keep thinking this will be the last of the big ones… but then I remember that in 2016, I’ll have another first birthday party to plan. Oh dear God, help me.

  1. 9/25/2014 2:31 AM

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And Baby Makes 4

Now that our closest friends and family know, it’s out on social media, and I’m already sporting some oh-so super sexy over-the-tummy maternity clothes, we are officially out of the pregnancy closet and happy to announce that Madelyn is going to be a big sister!

This is how we shared the news recently on Facebook:

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This baby has been in the making for a while. Longer than we intended, actually. But that’s life’s way of a funny joke since we went into it thinking it would be as quick and easy as it was the first time. So for seven months, I was in a bad mood, annoyed with each notification of “Nope, try again!”

Naturally, I got frustrated and started wondering what could be wrong. And it wasn’t until I finally gave in and had to reluctantly buy a box of monthly, um, “gear” (I seriously might have muttered some bad words to the box, letting it know how very unwelcome it was on my shelf) that I think something clicked, and that box is still unopened.

My first order of business after I took a pregnancy test was to tell Bryan. He was downstairs and had been awaiting my opening of that dreaded box I unwillingly had to buy, assuming we’d see another unpregnant month. With a morning haze and my glasses still on, I asked him if he saw one line or two because I wasn’t able to function (this is true. I am, uh, not a morning person). He looked at me in shock and told me he saw two. I said I thought so, but knew I needed a new prescription for my glasses and can barely read the cereal box, so I couldn’t take a home pregnancy test very seriously.

We were super excited, a lot in shock, and a little freaked out.

We decided to tell our families during a July 4th BBQ we had already planned on hosting. It was two days away, and while we didn’t want to make a huge production, we also wanted to add a little excitement to the mix.

I bought a cake and had it customized to say: Expecting A New Little Firecracker.

It was cute, but our baby cake was also delicious. Is that wrong?

It was cute, but our baby cake was also delicious. Is that wrong?

The day after we found out we were pregnant, Madelyn was on her A-game firing off the funniest sayings and my mom jokingly called her a little firecracker. I knew that that was my link to the upcoming holiday and this baby’s big sister.

It was a normal BBQ at our house except for the fact that I was on edge with excitement to share our news. And at one point, my sister-in-law asked me, “So what’s new?” and I screamed in my head that I was pregnant aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!! but I just shrugged and sighed and said, “Eh, nothin’ much. Just staying busy this summer.”

Princeton looked extra dapper in his festive bandana and Madelyn was enjoying all the attention of her favorite family members being together. I snapped some photos before the craziness.

All my babies!

All my babies!

So after some grilling and grubbing, I told everyone to check out this cute cake I got for dessert. Some got it right away; some took a few extra seconds for it to sink in, but in a matter of a minute, we were all hugging and celebrating. It was really fun, and it felt good to share our good news with our VIPs.

The family of 4-ish.

The family of 4-ish.

I think the best reaction of the baby news was when we told Madelyn. We told her the same day we found out because I can’t keep my own secrets very well from the people I love and I wanted to hear her weigh in on the situation. I explained to her that Mommy has a baby in her belly and reminded her about other friends who’ve also had babies in their bellies lately. She seemed to understand very well. I told her she was going to be a big sister and she’d get to have her own baby.

Her eyes grew wide, she gasped with realization, looked upstairs, and declared: I have babies in my pway woom!

She will find out soon enough that this baby won’t be anything like the five plastic ones that share a miniature crib surrounded by blocks and books in the room next door to hers. She also will find out soon enough that the room next door to hers will no longer be her pway woom. Sorry, pal.

She actually took the news very well and each day she continues to make my heart melt with hugs and kisses to my belly, often singing and talking to Baby. She is so excited to be a big sis!

We are now almost 13 weeks along, and despite some extreme exhaustion and a few waves of queasiness here and there, I’ve had a great and easy pregnancy as I did with Madelyn’s. Seeing the baby during ultrasounds has helped remind me that this is really happening during my busy days with a three-year-old when it’s easy to be distracted. We’ve had our routine first trimester screening and I’m relieved and happy to say that everything looked perfect and normal.

So, come early March, we will officially be able to say we are a family of four (humans), and that another one has been Born Friedman.

Hey, kid! Welcome to the Internet!

Hey, kid! Welcome to the Internet!

  1. sharon
    8/29/2014 4:31 PM

    Filled with excitement & joy for Madelyn and you two for Baby #2. The fun continues to grow.
    Madelyn, I know that YOU are going to be the BEST big sister!!
    Love!!

Madelyn Turns 3 and Visits the House of Mouse

Probably one of the greatest moments of parenting is when you wake your kid up super early in the morning, tell her you’re going in the car, explain that it’s for a long boring meeting, and that she has to be a good girl for the whole day. Then, 90 minutes later, when you all arrive at the destination, she says, “I see Donald on the wall,” and she asks you if you’re at Disneyland and then you answer, “What do you think?” and she squeals “yesssssssss!”

That’s probably one of the greatest moments in parenting.

We surprised Madelyn with a day at Disneyland the Tuesday after she turned three. We wanted to renew our annual passes and figured her birthday would be the best excuse to go. Not like you really need an excuse to go to Disneyland since “I like to have fun” is a reasonable excuse, but it made the dollars make sense.

The expectations for the day were low and that’s the beauty of having annual passes. You don’t feel like you have to squeeze every square inch into the eleven-hour day, and you know you’ll have more opportunities to try new things and revisit tried and true landmarks.

So the first thing we hit up was the Princess Fantasy Faire’s Royal Hall to meet the princesses. While Bryan held our spot in the 40-minute line, Madelyn and I spent some time in the Fantasyland shops where she became the owner of a new Elsa/Anna flip-flop doll. Long lines for the win!

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Once Bryan texted us that we were coming up soon, we hurried back to the line and got ready for our turn. Madelyn was wearing a birthday button which meant she was a magnet for birthday greetings from Disney cast members. The line greeter was so nice to Madelyn and gave her extra special birthday wishes. I think the line greeters are just as important as the princesses; they’re like the warm up act to get the kiddos ready and pumped to see the royal girls. Madelyn drank the warm up Kool-Aid and then as soon as we got in for our private one-on-one time with the first princess, she clammed!

The first princess encounter was with Ariel, Madelyn’s #1 all-time favorite princess. I think she was in such awe, that she got shy. She was able to get up the nerve to give hugs and curtsies to Ariel, but the fangirl reaction was muted a little more than usual.

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Next she met Cinderella who she’s interested in, but not in love with. However, the mermaid warmed her up a little bit, and Madelyn interacted a little more casually with Cindy.

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Finally, the last princess to receive her was Snow White and while Madelyn has not seen the most frightening movie of all time to feature its title princess, she was smitten like a doting dwarf. I think it’s because Snow White was reeeeeeeaaaaaaaaallllllly putting on the character voice. So much so, that I thought maybe one of her little woodland creatures was doing the talking for her — holy squeaks! — but it made her more character-y and less cute-actress-in-a-ball-gown-ish and, therefore, Madelyn totally bought it. She was cute and did little nose pokes and tickles with Madelyn. For the least known of the three princesses, I’d say Snow White was the biggest hit.

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After we left the Royal Hall, it was literally 742 degrees outside. I don’t do well in the heat, period. But I just really don’t do well in the heat at Disneyland where you sometimes stand in the sun, roasting, while waiting for rides and squashed up against equally hot people who emit sweat and other molecules I don’t wish to share. So we chose to eat. Because eating is less scorching than waiting in lines.

We went all the way to Critter Country for some predictable burgers and fries with lakeside seats that let us watch the Mark Twain Riverboat go by. Madelyn would wave and shout a friendly “hello!” to the passengers on board. When the Sailing Ship Columbia glided by, she sang “Yo ho!” to them and made a pirate face. She’s really gotten the hang of the Disneyland characters — furry, princessy, and even nautically.

After lunch, I took her to the bathroom just below the restaurant and on our way down, Tiana passed us by, looking a little less frog and more like a princess. She was entering the park from a Critter Country backstage area and waved a big, spirited hello to Madelyn. Her three-year-old fan gasped, looked at me with her mouth wide open, and broke out into the chorus of Tiana’s song and then finished with — and to herself — , “sing it giiiiiiirl!” I don’t know if Tiana heard, but nonetheless, I think she should be very concerned about her job security.

After a quick ride in a Winnie the Pooh beehive, we got in line to meet the characters from the movie. Madelyn has met Tigger, Eeyore, and Pooh before, but she loves to cuddle up with the larger-than-life stuffed animals. I definitely noticed that Madelyn cozied up more to mascot characters than face characters. Perhaps it’s because the face characters are more life-like. You know, because she regularly interacts with pretty girls in poofy dresses and tiaras who constantly go to balls.

Madelyn performed a little signature “hoo hoo hoo hoo!” to Tigger and he seemed impressed with her interpretation.

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She also met up with Eeyore whose tail was extremely fascinating to her. She kept pointing out the pink bow at the end of it and comparing it to the one in her hair. She and Eeyore are basically identical twins.

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Finally, she met the man, the myth, the Pooh himself. She sang his theme song to him which must be like when people go up to Ted Danson and sing him “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your naaaaame” or the four-clap to a “Friends” cast member. But, no matter, Pooh thoroughly enjoyed Madelyn’s staccato version of the song that calls him a silly willy nilly ol’ bear. She also continued to run into him to give him the biggest, well, bear hugs. And if Pooh is a boy, sorry.

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Because we’re geniuses, we chose the hottest part of the day to enjoy a straight 15-minute cluster of air conditioning on It’s A Small World. There are people who are lovers of this attraction and people who are haters of this attraction. I happen to be an extreme lover: catchy song, no drops, adorable international dolls living in peace and not bombing the shit out of each other, and air conditioning. On this Disney day, it was the air conditioning that really did it for me.

The happy birthday button came through and Madelyn’s VIP status got us front row on the cruise. This meant that we got air conditioning a whole 12 inches sooner than our shipmates behind us. That’s a score if you ask me. While I chose to stay very still and allow my nooks and crannies to cool off, the birthday girl danced up a storm in the front row. She really loves this ride. And apparently a rising body temperature.

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We decided to make our way out of Disneyland to head over to California Adventure, but just as we were reaching the town square at the base of Main Street, we saw Mickey Mouse coming out from backstage and heading over toward his meet and greet spot. I had my eye on the prize and sprinted over to him while Bryan jogged with the stroller to meet me. Like moths to the flame, or Real Housewives to a plastic surgeon, dozens of other Disneyland guests had the same idea. Fortunately we secured 4th-in-line status and in no time, Madelyn was meeting Mickey. In all of her visits to The Land, this was her first time meeting Tuxedo Mickey. She’s met regular Mickey at his house in Toon Town and she’s met Hollywood Mickey at California Adventure, but this get-up was new for her and she was loving it. I think Mickey really liked her too, because he gave her lots of extra special attention. They even danced together. With dips and everything. This was one of those “I love being a mom” moments that got me all teary and emotional. The joy in her eyes was exactly the reason why we got up early, dealt with traffic, and sweated our skin off to be there.

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Mickey’s handler asked me for my phone when Madelyn and Mickey started to dance. He took the video — vertically — (I’d kill him if he wasn’t so darn chipper) but it’s super cute and it was really nice of him to see the magical moment and offer to capture it for us.

Once we were in California Adventure, our first order of business was to go back into the “water,” this time via clam shell and under the sea. Madelyn’s all-time favorite ride is The Little Mermaid ride and this doesn’t surprise me in the least. It’s actually super adorable and she loves how lifelike and musical it is. She sang all the songs and warned us when Ursula was coming because “she’s baaaaaaad.”

After The Little Mermaid ride, we treated ourselves to an afternoon snack. This delicious snack also served as a cooling-off mechanism. And it just so happened to be a very meta choice based on Madelyn’s T-shirt!

You are what you eat.

You are what you eat.

Once we were properly re-calories-ified, we thought we’d venture to some other parts of California Adventure but just a few minutes in the stroller, we noticed she was totally conked out. So, what are two hot and tired parents to do when their child snoozes at a theme park? They go into the lobby of the fancy hotel and enjoy more air conditioning. For just over an hour, Madelyn napped, we charged our phones, we caught up on social media, and, most importantly, we savored the best AC that’s available in the parks. It was actually a wonderful hour. Madelyn woke up cheery and we continued with our afternoon!

Madelyn snoozes as I try not to die of heat stroke.

Madelyn snoozes as I try not to die of heat stroke.

Later, back at Disneyland, we got spots for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade which we’ve seen a few times, but we all love it. We always get fantastic seats in the first row on the parade route right in front of a popcorn stand next to Le Petit Chalet by It’s A Small World and the back entrance to Tomorrowland. People line up for good chunks of time to get seats, but we always show up five minutes before and get prime viewing spots because people think it’s an off limits area. Nope. Once people see us sitting there, then the line up next to us or behind us. This is your insider tip. You’re welcome.

During the parade, the characters perform on floats and on the ground next to the crowds. Both Peter Pan and Pluto stopped their parade route choreography to come to Madelyn and dance with her. Madelyn wasn’t so sure about Peter Pan who wished her a happy birthday and told her to stay young, but she was all up in Pluto’s business. She was totally enchanted with the attention he gave her and it was so cute. He spent quite a lot of time kneeling down next to her and then had to trot a long way to catch up with his float staging.

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With the passing of Robin Williams just days before, I got a little emotional during this part of the parade. His memory lives on for sure.

With the passing of Robin Williams just days before, I got a little emotional during this part of the parade. His memory lives on for sure.

The Dumbo ride was right next to the parade, so when it ended, we flapped our ears and got in line to ride the elephant. I love this ride at twilight because you have a great overhead view of the park as it becomes magical with twinkling lights and the nighttime excitement at Disneyland revs up. Madelyn likes this ride because she can be in control. This girl is a lot like me.

She chose — big shocker — the pink Dumbo and we made sure to snap some silly photos before we went around and around and up and down.

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We had worked an up appetite so we decided on a dinner spot that would also coincide with fireworks viewing because killing two birds with one stone is the name of my game. But of course while Madelyn and I were stalking tables and Bryan was inside ordering, one of us decided that it was time to go potty. RIGHT. NOW. I’ll let you decide who that person was.

So we zoomed over to the baby changing area that has little toilets perfect for the one of us that had to go potty. RIGHT. NOW.

Seriously, Disney thinks of everything. Except for air conditioning. It was not cool in there and one of us was sweating up a storm while the other one sang songs on the pot.

The most magical pee of her life.

The most magical pee of her life.

We finally met up with Bryan who was SuperDaddy — as usual — and was able to not only order and bring out our food but secure a table for us. We chowed down and joined the crowd a few feet away just in time for fireworks. I have to admit — and yes I know how cheesy this is — but I got really choked up during the fireworks. I don’t know if it’s the music or the fact that TINKERBELL and DUMBO literally FLY through the freakin’ sky, but it’s quite a spectacle and Madelyn was fixated and the whole moment was very magical.

We pressed our luck for more magical moments when we took Madelyn to see “Fantasmic!” which she’s only seen snippets of as we’ve rushed through the park to take advantage of low wait times for rides. But we got great spots and didn’t have to wait too long for “Fantasmic!” to start. Madelyn loved seeing Mickey lead the show and was definitely in awe of the light show on the panel of water that projected some great scenes from classic movies.

And then it all went to shit when the villains came out. Madelyn has never really had any fears and would barely flinch when the villains came on during the movies, but this was big, and loud, and right in front of her, and she was not having it. She buried her head in Bryan’s shoulder and shrieked while I calmed her down to tell her that it would all be fixed and it would all be OK. Soon enough — SPOILER ALERT — the villains lost and Mickey won. Then all the princesses and other enchanting characters danced on the friendlier looking boat and she squealed with glee. At the end, she turned to Bryan and me and declared: MICKEY FIXED EVERYTHING! MICKEY MOUSE MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!

So wise, my child.

So even though there was a moment where she might have been scarred and incurred some future therapy bills, I think it all turned out fine and she was able to overcome. She may even be able to make another visit to Disneyland in the future.

And just like that, the park was closing and we made that sad walk through the tunnel and out the gates and back to our car. We put a sleeping Madelyn into her car seat and drove home where a stuffed Mickey and Minnie were waiting in her crib, welcoming her back to reality.

We had a really wonderful day together, celebrating our girl and making it all about her. It’s truly no secret who our favorite princess is!

The Best Things In Life Are Three

So, Madelyn turned three. I can’t believe it either. It was an epic birthday filled with lots of celebrating.

This was the first birthday that she really understood she was even having one. For the past couple months leading up to August 9th, Madelyn would declare, “It’s almost my birthday!” and then proceed to ask every day if it was her birthday yet. While she knows the date of her birthday, I don’t think she’s grasped the essence of time, and that it has to pass, day by day, first.

The day before her birthday, we celebrated at school! Madelyn enjoyed summer camp at her preschool and since the majority of her school years won’t include birthdays with her class — boo summer birthdays — I wanted to make sure she got to celebrate with her friends and teachers while she could.

During Tot Shabbat, she got to go up on the bimah and say her name and age, and then the camp sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She enjoyed wearing her birthday crown with Minnie Mouse on it that her beloved Miss Joi Joi made. It didn’t leave her head for the rest of her birthday weekend! At the end of the camp day, I brought in cupcakes for the class and she got another round of the birthday song. So far, the birthday love was flowing.

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That night, as tradition dictates, we went to Lazy Dog Cafe as a family of four (Princeton included) to mark August 8th as the last meal we ever ate as a family of three (again, Princeton included). It’s where we ate the night before we had Madelyn, and it’s not that it’s such an amazing place, but it’s just special for nostalgia’s sake.

Madelyn wanted to get dolled up for the night out at dinner. She requested a tutu — “but the black one, because it’s fancy” and she also requested a pre-dinner photo shoot. Who am I to deny the birthday girl her wishes?

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At the end of dinner, she had a brownie sundae and she sang “Happy Birthday” to herself. It wasn’t even August 9th yet, and she was nailing the birthday shtick.

Due to the build up, and the fact that I am also a sucker for birthdays, I wanted to do something extra fun on the big day as a family. Her birthday was on a Saturday, so we really had freedom to do whatever we wanted. I know she would’ve been happy with a “Frozen” marathon and some ice cream, but August 9th is a special day for me, too, and I wanted to mark it with something we don’t normally get to do. So it was perfect when I remembered that the Ventura County Fair was in its final weekend and I thought she’d be old enough to finally enjoy it. We told her we were going to take her to the fair to show her the animals, eat yummy food, and ride the rides, and she totally loved the idea!

When we put our two-year-old to bed on August 8th, Bryan and I blew up balloons and flooded them in her room while she slept. On her birthday morning, we woke up to her waking up to the balloons. Over the monitor we heard, “Oh, purple! That’s my favorite! Oh, pink! That’s my favorite, too! Oh, yellow! That is so my favorite!” It was pretty funny how she found the balloons so magical.

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For her birthday breakfast, we surprised her with a candle in a donut. There’s no other acceptable way to start your third year than with donuts.

Birthday donuts: The most nutritious way to start your third year of life.

Birthday donuts: The most nutritious way to start your third year of life.

And from there, we were off to the fair!

Madelyn absolutely loved the sights, sounds, and smells of the fair! She cooed over every animal and cheered for the piggies at the pig races. We went into a petting farm that had the usual suspects: goats, sheep, pigs, chickens. Oh, and DEER. Yeah, Bambi was there and let me tell you: deer are bitches. The $3 we paid to be in there essentially went to Madelyn’s future therapy bills because the two deer were skirt-hungry and kept stalking Madelyn and nibbling on her tutu. She was none too pleased. I had no idea that deer were so drawn to clothing, and we both felt very violated by their attempts to eat Madelyn alive and naked.

Madelyn eats her first corn dog. She gives it two paws up.

Madelyn eats her first corn dog. She gives it two paws up.

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So after some vigorous hand washing, Bryan took her to meet some other interesting characters: the gamers. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a fair and nothing has changed. Even though we all know that carnival games are for suckers, it’s like one of those stupid-but-fun rites of passage that is totally a father-daughter moment. And just like out of a cheesy movie, he won the game and got a stuffed animal for her. Granted, it was Team Brydelyn vs. a poor kindergartner who didn’t stand a chance. And the stuffed animal was worse quality than the junk inside the claw machine that you find in the lobby of Denny’s. But still! (Digital) Kodak moment!

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After praying to whatever God was most convenient, we went up in the tallest Ferris wheel and I tried to enjoy the views of the pristine beach on one side and the colorful fair on the other in order to distract me from the fact that this thing was meant to come apart at the hinges and travel from city to city, prepared again and again by the country’s finest higher thinkers. I’m such a buzz kill. But I write this to you two weeks later, alive and well. So there’s that.

Not dying on a portable Ferris wheel.

Not dying on a portable Ferris wheel.

We used up more tickets on some kiddie rides that Madelyn owned like a champ. I wasn’t sure how she’d do going on rides all by herself for the first time ever. We stood and watched her go around and around and cheered her on. She totally loved it.

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The end of the day drew near, and a nap was still in the cards. Madelyn snoozed until dinner time and we met up with both sets of grandparents for another traditional meal: The Cheesecake Factory Birthday Feast. And brown bread.

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A mini ice cream sundae with a candle in it sealed the deal for a successful birthday dinner, but we still had presents to open, so we went back to our house with the grandparents and Madelyn ripped apart gifts like a pro. The year before, she needed me to assist her in opening presents, but now she’s able to lay into them like a human machete.

And lay into them she did! Literally. Both Grandma and Grandpa and Mimi and Poppa know their girl loves to dress up, so they supplied her with all the ball gowns and fins and lab coats any imaginative toddler could dream of. She squealed with delight over each get-up and then we proceeded to be audience members in a fashion show displaying the hottest in Disney character couture.

She opened each one and laid them out on the floor. Then, when all were revealed, she took turns strutting her stuff in them. After that, she placed the costumes on all the adults in the room and made us do the coordinating characters. It was definitely Madelyn’s world and, as usual, we were in it!

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Madelyn dresses up her grandparents in all of her new costumes!

Madelyn dresses up her grandparents in all of her new costumes!

Bedtime came and we all said goodnight to the new three-year-old. I think it’s safe to say that her birthday weekend was a hit and she felt all the love and then some.

And yet birthday celebrating wasn’t over. A trip to Disneyland and her big party were on the agenda for the week ahead and between the two of us, I really don’t know who was more excited!

Happy birthday, Madelyn!

  1. sharon
    8/26/2014 6:40 PM

    Madelyn! Your birthday #3 was amazing & so much fun.
    I look forward to celebrating many many more birthdays with you.
    Love and Kisses and Hugs to you!
    Mimi