We Need a Yard

by Alison Friedman in The House

So, we moved to our house in July.

From the front, you'd never know there was a wasteland jungle in the back.

From the front, you’d never know there was a wasteland jungle in the back.

We remodeled our kitchen right away and now I love cooking in our kitchen. (cooking = cleanup. I don’t like cleanup).

After we remodeled our kitchen, the house, which had been a moderately neglected short sale, encountered small changes: new paint, new furniture, new garage organization methods. We did the little things that we were allowed to do after the expense of the kitchen. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do all the projects the house required all at once, but as new homeowners know, we chiseled away the best we could to make our house into a home.

The one thing that remains heavily neglected is the backyard which we inherited in horrific condition. I’m not even being dramatic about it. It’s truly an eyesore and I am filled with anxiety and sadness every time I look out the windows.

Welcome to the Dirt Reserve.

We moved out of our condo for several reasons, but a main reason was that it did not have a yard for Princeton and Madelyn to enjoy. So when we found a house that met all of our needs, we were also glad that it came with a sizable yard for Princeton’s frolics and Madelyn’s explorations.

The size is great, yes, and the space has huge potential. But right now, well, it’s in crisis mode. A dilapidated patio cover hangs over a stained slab of concrete. The patio is surrounded by an unnecessary brick wall that completely bisects the yard and serves absolutely no purpose. The hill above the yard would be great for privacy, but instead vomits a jungle of overgrown shrubs and trees with whoknowswhat living inside. I am constantly nervous about Princeton going out there, for fear that there’s a creature that would find him delicious. And then there’s the … dirt. The space needs some fresh sod instead, because, well, 1800 square feet of dirt is just not attractive. Or neat.

The side yard where I dream of paving with concrete for smooth access and convenience.

The side yard where I dream of paving with concrete for smooth access and convenience.

Dead grass and weeds line the OUTER perimeter of the patio that's contained by a useless brick wall.

Dead grass and weeds line the OUTER perimeter of the patio that’s contained by a useless brick wall.

Knocking down this ugly and pointless brick wall is no easy feat and will cause a lot of additional work since we'll be left with raw, uneven patio.

Knocking down this ugly and pointless brick wall is no easy feat and will cause a lot of additional work since we’ll be left with raw, uneven patio.

The overhang that's been serving a 24/7 AYCE buffet to termites.

The overhang that’s been serving a 24/7 AYCE buffet to termites.

Hey, Friedmans: Jurassic Park called. They want their jungle back.  Overgrowth from 40 years of neglect. Thanks, previous homeowners.

Hey, Friedmans: Jurassic Park called. They want their jungle back. Overgrowth from 40 years of neglect. Thanks, previous homeowners.

We thought: hey! No problem! A little sod and, bam! We’ll be in good shape.

But really, that requires a repaired sprinkler system. And putting in sod is a step in the right direction, but what about the hill? And the patio cover? And that dumb wall?

Of course there are additional bonus ideas we have: fruit trees, planter boxes, extended patio. One idea spills into another and then we’re looking at plans that cost more than our kitchen we ever did. And that’s a kitchen.

I really hate that this yard causes me buyer’s remorse because a house is very bad purchase to regret. I have those pants I bought in 2007 with the tags still hanging on them because I promised myself I’d lose weight to eventually fit into them. Now that is reasonable buyer’s remorse. But over $600,000 is a big amount to regret, and all because of an overwhelming yard that requires a lot of green to make it green.

I’ve received a lot of bids from all sorts of workers: the contractor who did our kitchen, professional landscapers, our mow-and-blow gardner, dudes who’ve advertised in the local paper that they do clean up and haul away. Even at the lowest amount, it’s a big job and I recognize that this project costs significant money. But as Spring emerges and Madelyn’s birthday is on the horizon in the middle of Summer, I can’t help but wonder if we made the wrong choice in our home and how on earth we are ever going to get our yard to a usable state. I don’t want to make mistakes; I want to do it right the first time. So even starting with just lawn, I’m concerned we’ll run into problems later when we want to clear the hill of all that brush and add a sprinkler system up there, or level the area for new patio concrete later after the sod has taken.

Since I lack a lot of knowledge in anything having to do with the great outdoors, this backyard projects makes me nervous, overwhelmed, and sad. When we were house hunting — and maybe, I should replace “hunting” with “scouring,” since there were really slim pickins — all I could picture with each and every offer was a little girl and her friends dressed up in bathing suits on a hot summer’s day and a frisky pup who was exploring the great outdoors with his ears pinned back and his tail pointing him toward each adventure.

Princeton dreams of the yard he's been waiting for for seven years.

Princeton dreams of the yard he’s been waiting for for seven years.

At each bed time, I hope that the next day will bring us closer to somehow achieving our backyard haven.

Moo-terial Girl

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn

Back in August, Bryan traveled to Switzerland for work, leaving Madelyn and me to enjoy some major girl time for a week. Most of his trip was focused on work, but he had one full day to explore Lucerne and took in the mountaintop views to see the gorgeous lake with a soundtrack of famous cowbells surrounding him. The cows peppered the hills and their bells rang out with trademark forte. He also lived like the locals and had a night out during their shopping night. Apparently, one night a week, the town stays open later and locals can get their shopping done after work. I haven’t decided if I like or dislike this Swiss concept. I’m very neutral about it.

Ba-dum cha!

Bryan sends me pictures of beautiful Switzerland at dusk while I eat cereal for dinner and sneeze through Santa Ana winds back home.

Bryan sends me pictures of beautiful Switzerland at dusk while I eat cereal for dinner and sneeze through Santa Ana winds back home.

Anyway, during his big night out, he bought some chocolates for me (good man) and some souvenirs for his daughter. To commemorate the signature aspects of Switzerland, he brought back a cute miniature cowbell and a soft plush cow with a bandana around its neck with the Swiss flag design.

These were really the first presents Bryan had ever bought for his daughter all on his own, and I love that he picked it out in the land of milk and milk.

The Loot

The Loot

When he brought home the souvenirs, Madelyn loved up on the cow right away. She had just turned two, and we asked her what she wanted to name the cow: Moo. Very original and clever.

Moo went to sleep with her that very night and even trumped Baby for the clutches of her toddler hands. On excursions to the market or long rides in the car, Minnie became old rat, and it was all about Moo. Her small play purse that usually holds bracelets and crayons and other random do-dads was suddenly being opened as wide as possible for Moo to fit inside, but we had to explain that Moo was too big. So with the purse dangling on one arm and Moo hugged up against the other, Madelyn meandered throughout her days, cuddling with her bovine beauty.

For three solid weeks, Moo was THE toy to enjoy. I don’t know if it was because Moo was so spectacular or if it was because Moo was just new, but Madelyn was quite attached.

At the end of September, we were packing to go on a family trip to San Francisco. Bryan had business up there and Madelyn and I tagged along to see some friends and the sights. I was putting together her Keep Madelyn Happy bag and tossed in some books, coloring materials, a baby doll, and other necessities, and Madelyn brought me Moo. It was imperative that cow come with us and I didn’t even blink about it.

So Moo enjoyed its second airplane flight in just one month, this one significantly shorter. Moo slept in the crib at the hotel, joined us on BART, ate sundaes at Ghiradelli, rode on a cable car, and accompanied our walks through Union Square, the Embarcadero, and even afternoon tea at Neiman Marcus. Moo got to do more than most kids do in their childhood, so this was one privileged plush.

After four days in the city by the bay, we were scheduled to return back home. The morning of our flight, we laid out all of our clothes and accessories we’d need for our flight and packed up the rest, all while getting dressed and ready. Madelyn was a wild child that morning, and continued to move around the piles we’d strategically placed throughout the room. Time was ticking and we had to make our flight, so after we’d zipped up bags, the hotel room door closed behind us.

On our way to the airport, after our cab driver got pulled over and earned himself a ticket with us in the back seat (um, awkward, by the way), I asked Bryan, “Moo is in the carry on, right?” He hadn’t seen Moo. I asked Madelyn if she was holding Moo. She was not. I told Bryan I could not remember actually physically placing Moo in any bag. I knew I had Moo in a pile to bring with us. But my brain was scanning Moo’s whereabouts and it was coming up blank.

When we arrived at the airport, I looked as best I could in the bags, and there was no sign of Moo.

My heart sank and I knew that Moo was probably back in the hotel room. I called them right away, as any parent would when trying to locate a missing best friend, and they said they’d look and get back to me. My only hope was that Moo was in the nooks and crannies of the luggage and we’d find it when we unpacked at home.

No such luck. Moo was never in any of our bags, and we turned them inside out.

In the days that followed, Bryan and I both spent time on the phone with several different employees of the hotel: our housekeeper, head of housekeeping, the lost and found director, even the general manager of the entire property. They were all looking for Moo but Moo was not mooing back.

I know whole heartedly that Moo was left in the room. I’m not accusing anyone of taking the kid’s toy, but it’s possible it got lost in the laundry. Their outsourced linens agency said they looked, and Moo hadn’t surfaced in their loads.

Madelyn asked for Moo often, but we just sighed and told her Moo stayed in San Francisco. She seemed satisfied enough with the answer, but it still made us sad.

As silly as it sounds, I cried over Moo. I love how special Moo was — it came from another country that Madelyn’s daddy visited while traveling for work. It was such a daddy/daughter experience they both concurrently had together and independently. Moo was cute, too! The cream-colored cow had light brown spots and was no cheapy-looking stuffed animal. I loved its red bandana with the Swiss crosses. It was finely made. Moo looked proud to be a cow.

Months passed. I got a call from the hotel about four months later while walking through Costco. The director of housekeeping with a very heavy accent explained to me that they’d found a soft cow in their lost and found. She tried to describe it to me, but I couldn’t understand much. I asked her to text me a picture and right there, between the package of 42 AA batteries and the trash bags, my heart pounded as I waited for the text that could show Moo’s face. Would Moo be dirty and damaged? Would the bandana still be attached to its neck? Would Moo have stuffing popping out, exhausted from its mystery journey?

My phone dinged and it was a picture of a cow, yes. But a cow that was not stuffed and looked like a mini blanket. It was not Moo at all, but some other child’s missing loved thing. I hope that other child is hangin’ in.

This event inspired me to look for Moo myself. If it meant purchasing another Moo online, I would. But the store that Bryan had bought it from did not have an online shopping cart so I could not even see their inventory. I emailed them and described Moo, asking if they could send a new one and take an order over email. I never heard back. They probably trashed that crazy American lady’s email as soon as it came through their inbox. I’m sure they thought I had mad cow disease, myself.

I gave up on Moo again and the search for Friedman’s Most Wanted cow went on the back burner.

In February, Bryan found out he’d have to do some more business travel in Switzerland.

It’s no surprise that the first thing I thought of was Moo 2.

Bryan only had four nights in Switzerland and he checked in every day with me to tell me the status of Moo 2.
“I had to work late today, so I won’t get into town to go shopping until Wednesday.”
“Not sure if I will have time later this evening. Looks like tomorrow is my only night.”
“I hope they still have the same selection of stuffed animals! It was hard to find Moo the first time.”

I was teaching during the day while Madelyn was with my mom and I got a text while I was at work.

There was much rejoicing via text with Bryan and the grandmas

There was much rejoicing via text with Bryan and the grandmas

I actually breathed a sigh of relief.

She knew that Daddy was in Switzerland and we told her that he was getting her a new Moo. Whenever she’d hear anyone mention Daddy or Switzerland, she’d proudly share: “Daddy get new Moo!” I don’t even know if she knew what this meant as it had been a while since she’d even mentioned her old cow, but she seemed excited anyway.

Bryan came home two days later and the reunion with Moo 2 took place when she woke up the next morning. Bryan told her he had a surprise for her and we turned her around so we could place Moo in front of her and then she opened her eyes and walked toward the cow.

It was like reuniting with an old friend: excited, but unpracticed; giddy, but reserved.

She spent the rest of the morning hugging Moo 2 and carrying her old-new pal around. Moo 2 has since been a staple in her crib, cuddling her to sleep along with Hello Kitty, Minnie, Doggie, Sheep, Bunny and Lovey.

Even Princeton got in on the Moo Fest

Even Princeton got in on the Moo Fest

In fact, Moo 2 may also be to blame for some late night carousing in her room, as she sings and chats with all of her stuffed friends. But I don’t mind. It’s okay for her to party even though the cow came home.

  1. Mimi
    3/17/2014 8:15 PM

    Dear Sweet Madelyn,
    I felt so sad when your 1st Moo was lost—I think I was more sad than YOU.
    How lucky you are that Daddy was able to find you a new Moo to love & hug.
    The adventures of Moo, the Cow & Moo 2 will always be a story to remember when we reminisce about when you were a little toddler.

    A similar story happened with your Mommy when we went on a trip to England. I didn’t remember packing her blanket when we left our hotel about 2 hours earlier. In a panic, I made Poppa stop on the highway and I jumped out of the car and ran to the trunk so I could check your Mommy’s suitcase as she was almost in tears. Thankfully, the yellow blanket was safely packed away in her suitcase and Poppa didn’t have to drive 2 hours back to the hotel. I’ll never forget that scary incident.

    Love you so much,
    Mimi

The Urination Situation

When I picked Madelyn up from preschool almost 2 weeks ago, her teacher informed me that she had disappeared into the bathroom and was found with her pants at her ankles, her diaper on the floor, and her tushie on the miniature potty. In the potty: you guessed it. She had never actually taken it upon herself to go to the bathroom all on her own without any prompting. For the past handful of months, we’ve incorporated the potty into her nighttime routine and she successfully goes, but that’s been with supervision and assistance. So color us surprised to learn that she did it all on her own at school — an environment that had proven to cause some anxiety and trepidation.

I wasn’t too excited about it; being housebound for three days and swimming in pee didn’t sound like a fun way to spend President’s Day weekend. I was one ankle bracelet away from house arrest and I’m not Martha Stewart enough to see the silver lining in the whole thing. Except the whole no-more-diapers thing, I guess.

So after school on Friday, we made a trip to Target and picked out some undies for Madelyn. She was very excited to choose the coveted undies because she’d heard all about them in one of her favorite books. It’s a very no-nonsense board book with mostly illustrations about a baby who’s learning how to go on the potty and at the end, he/she (can’t tell what sex the kid is) does it and the parents and dog and cat run in the room to see (why were they not in there with him/her all along?) and the last page of the book says UNDIES! and has a bunch of underwear with different designs raining from the sky. It’s obviously Madelyn’s favorite part of the book. It’s kind of like the scene from American Beauty when Mena Suvari (who?) drenches herself in deep red roses. But in this case, it’s panties. Sorry I’m not sorry for giving away the ending of the Potty book.

Decisions, decisions. These are the most important decisions.

Decisions, decisions. These are the most important decisions.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Winner winner chicken dinner!

On Saturday and Sunday, Bryan was obviously home from work, so we definitely tag teamed on Madelyn potty duty. She pretty much lounged in just undies and at first, we prompted her and reminded her to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes. There are certain iPhone alarm sounds I never want to hear again. I also made her a sticker chart and every time she had a successful potty production, she got to pick a princess sticker and place it on her chart. I simply wrote numbers in order on a paper and every fourth number, I drew a star. Each starred number earned her an M&M so she had small goals to look forward to throughout the process. She loved putting stickers on each number and definitely didn’t protest the M&M, but she was just as happy to hear her own tinkle sounds in the potty.

She only had a few accidents and I wasn’t swimming in pee like I’d anticipated. Madelyn: 18274 Mama Drama: 0. Madelyn was a champ most of the time. She would start a drip-drop in her undies, feel it, and then alert us that she had to go, and she’d finish on the potty! I think even Charlie Sheen would call that winning (is that still trending or am I so two years ago?).

Reading The Potty Book on the potty. It's all so very meta.

Reading The Potty Book on the potty. It’s all so very meta.

Remember pop quizzes in school? Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I gave Madelyn Dry Checks randomly throughout the day and would reward her for being dry. That way, she not only associated making sissy and doody in the potty, but NOT making sissy or doody in her undies (and yes, “sissy” and “doody” are our words. I enjoy using them.).

Madelyn made such great progress on Saturday and Sunday that I got super cocky about Monday when I’d be alone with Madelyn at home when Bryan had to go to work. Well, cockiness gets you nowhere! Madelyn had three HUGE accidents — Hurricane Sissy stormed and I hadn’t battened down the hatches. I sent Bryan several pathetic/frustrated texts and was about to Google a potty training consultant. These setbacks really made me sad, but that’s what the roller coaster of potty training is all about because after those accidents, she never once had another one. She alerted me any time she had to do anything as little as a tinkle and worked those undies like a rockstar (although, most rockstars probably don’t even wear undies. Is Miley considered a rockstar? I bet she doesn’t wear any.).

Tuesday, we had plans to meet friends in Orange County. I was SO so so so nervous to leave the house for the first time AND that first time require a two-hour drive. Twice. I packed 14 pairs of undies and 5 pairs of clean pants. I may as well be a Boy Scout because I was more than prepared. I even lined her carseat with Princeton’s piddle pads and packed two portable potties so that Madelyn could easily go in the car if I had to pull over.

When we arrived in Newport, I was expecting the Pacific Ocean to have filled her carseat.

Instead: Dry. As. A. Bone. I’m not even kidding. I kissed her so hard, her face turned raw.

She went once during our lunch, her first public restroom. And despite MY anxiety about it — hi, germs — she performed on the potty and didn’t give one thought to the loud flush. She is lucky, however, that I did not cut off her hand after touching every. little. thing. Lady receptacles need to be placed NOT at toddler height, dear Public Restroom Designers of the World. waaaaaaaaaahhhhh

So after we washed her hands three times (classic OCD comfort number) and disinfected with antibac, we resumed our afternoon with friends with no further accidents. I didn’t change her undies once the entire day. Take that, 14.

I made her go before we started our drive home, but she was too distracted by the sights of the parking lot to produce. While sitting in my flat trunk, she narrated every passerby: “That lady is wearing white.” “That man is holding a bag.” “That car is gween.” “That car is bwue.” Who needs a newspaper when you have Fashion Island?

This borders on humiliating and humorous. As usual, I vote for humorous.

This borders on humiliating and humorous. As usual, I vote for humorous.

At almost two weeks later, I’d say Madelyn has definitely gotten the hang of the potty. I am so, so proud of her and really amazed how easily it came to her. I think we waited the right amount of time. The only thing I did wrong?

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I ordered a brand new box of diapers. So 120-ish fresh diapers later, I have a potty trained toddler. Figures.

She’s Just Two Emotional

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but toddler words filled with rage and angry beady eyes and snot stains on the cheeks with wild mane-hair and blood-boiled skin freakin’ HURT me.

I know, I know: Madelyn is two-and-an-almost-half and is still learning to process her feelings. I know all this. But it doesn’t make the hard days any easier. Or give me less of a reason to exile myself to the Four Seasons and order room service and a masseuse. I really can’t complain, as Madelyn has always been so super easy, so I realize I can’t win ‘em all. She’s going through her own self discovery, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing something wrong or if I could handle situations differently.

Top 5 Phrases Madelyn Utters These Days:

1. “I don’t waaaaaaaaaant to!”

2. “Go A-WAAAAY!”

3. “No touch! No touch!”

4. “No, IIIIIIII do it!”

5. “Where’s Daddy?????????? WHERE’S %$*&@!# DADDY?????????”

So yeah, thanks a lot, speech therapy.

She seriously goes from 0 to 100 in point two seconds, which seems a lot faster than what sports car commercials seem to claim. This is seriously something that happens 32 times a day when Madelyn wants to watch the toddler cult classic, Frozen:

Madelyn: Fo-zen.
Mommy: OK, Madelyn. How do you ask nicely?
Madelyn: Fo-zeeeeeeen. (four seconds later.) FOOOOO-ZEEEEEN. (two seconds later with a punch to my bicep for added effect) FOOOOOOOOOOOOO-ZEEEEEEEEN (burst into tears! Because! No! Patience!)

Cue more tears, lots of wailing, and a face that resembles an angry Kool Aid mascot.

Then, eventually like… hmmm… after 35 minutes of biting sobs that make her lose her breath, I’ll get:
“Mommmm-mmm-mmm-mmmy”
Mommy: Yes, Madelyn?
Madelyn: Can I watch Frozen please?
Mommy: Yes, of course! Thank you for asking nicely!

THEN, as sweet as this transition is, she’ll become unreasonably upset that a song is over or the pillow fell on her elbow or she dropped her baby doll. And it all starts over. The tears. The gasps. The snot. It’s just so much fun.

So on days like today, when I came home from a day of work and experienced three hours of incessant tantrums before we finally put her to bed, I ask myself first, “Why don’t I get to work 24 hour days? Does school HAVE to end? Aren’t teachers supposed to sleep at school in the classroom?” and second, “When can we go back to a time when Madelyn was happy-go-lucky instead of giving drama to her mama?”

I’ve been lucky to be a stay-at-home mom with a very light and flexible work schedule. I appreciate the days I get to go to work because, even as a teacher, I still get to interact and socialize with adults and stimulate some intellect. While working is definitely for me, it is also for our household. With our new house and new expenses, the teacher money — while it isn’t anything grand — helps with the extras, so my time away from the house is, in effect, for Madelyn. So when I come home from a day of work and then encounter the mood and ‘tude as of late, I feel frustrated and dejected. I know I need to be handling this better for myself because Madelyn just needs to grow and develop through this stage. So really, it’s about me learning to not take her antics personally.

While we get through this stage, I’d like to be a more patient mom and grow some thicker skin. I don’t think it’s ever OK to be her punching bag because I want to model for her that I respect myself and, therefore, so should she, but I also can’t let her actions and words make me feel sad or unloved.

When Madelyn finally asked nicely to watch Frozen, and I happily put it on for her, she ended up setting into the sofa right next to me and rested her hand on my leg, tapping her fingers on my jeans to the beat of the music.

I whispered, “I love you, Madelyn” and welcomed her back.

Madelyn on swing

  1. Tiffany
    2/6/2014 10:00 AM

    Hey Alison, I have a quick question I wanted to ask you regarding your blog, do you think you could send me an email when you get this? Thanks! Tiffany
    tpham(at)dropcam(dot)com

Madelyn’s First Day Of Preschool

Twas the night before Madelyn’s first day of preschool, and all through the house, a mommy was stirring — BECAUSE SHE’S A NEUROTIC WOODY ALLEN MOTHER WHO NEEDED TO BE SURE THAT HER DAUGHTER’S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL EVER WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE OF HER LIIIIIIIIIFE.

Mama’s got issues. That’s OK. It means I care too much. A lot.

The night before school, Bryan and I talked up the whole shebang.

“You sing songs ALL the time. You’re basically getting two-for-one voice lessons at Jewish preschool. Don’t you want to be the next Barbra Streisand?!”

“You’re going to make so many new friends! You LOVE playing with friends! It’s never too soon to start campaigning for Homecoming Queen Esther!”

“You get to eat lunch that we make together! Here, Madelyn. Let’s put in all your favorite foods like carrot sticks and organic apples, and baby broccolinis. Right? RIGHT?!?!”

We actually did make lunch together and it was fun! Normally I dread making lunches, especially my own for when I go to work AT school, but Madelyn and I teamed up. She held the bag and counted the carrot sticks as I dropped them in. And I gave her the choice of strawberry jelly or grape jelly on her sandwich. It was such a team effort.

And then I lost my marbles when I put her cute little owl lunch bag in the fridge. Because preschool!

"Oh, hi Cool Whip and eggs and grapes! I'm new here and I'm a hoot!"

“Oh, hi Cool Whip and eggs and grapes! I’m new here and I’m a hoot!”

So hard to believe that we have crossed the line into this little category. For months, BabyCenter has been sending me emails about Madelyn’s development because, you know, the Internet gods know everything, and the same folks who updated me on the produce in my belly, and the infant in my arms, and the toddler on my… everything… the same folks have been sending me emails subjected “Your Preschooler” since August. Eh eh — not so fast, Internet gods! My Preschooler was not in preschool because I felt she needed a little more time at home (i.e., we bought a house and we were po’!) but now those emails are like Shakira’s hips: they don’t lie! My little poppyseed has become a preschooler! I was so excited to watch her grow, make new friends (for all of us!), and, well, for me to get a manicure at 10 a.m. But yes, the whole thing was bittersweet because there’s something so unbabyish about taking your toddler to preschool. Madelyn is almost closer to kindergarten than she is to newbornhood. Crazy, that tick-tock of time.

My alarm was set to go off way too early on Preschool Day. Madelyn and I are used to sleeping until at least 8:30 or 9:00, so I was having major anxiety about what our morning would be like. Neither of us are sunnyside up when it’s time to wake before we’re ready, so naturally, just like you do the night before a super early flight and you have to get to the airport, I woke up every hour in a panic: “IS IT TIME?! HAVE I OVERSLEPT? DID WE SKIP PRESCHOOL AND ARE WE NOW AT COLLEGE?!”

I got myself up, managed to put on makeup and a bra — both things I usually don’t do before 10 — and then woke up Sleeping Beauty who was not impressed with the whole exercise. But I reminded her it was Preschool Day and she smiled super big. We got dressed, did our hair, and Madelyn was in a great mood. She had breakfast and we went over all the wonderful things she could expect.

Just before we left, we took The Picture in front of the door. Isn’t that a rite of a passage in and of itself? I’ve seen all my friends do this for years, and while I was tempted to do the same for Princeton before his first night of Obedience School, I skipped it and waited to be able to do this with my own (human) child. Today was the day!

Thankfully, she cooperated for the camera. Lately, she’s anti-paparazzi and has mastered giving “the hand.” She was in such a good mood, she posed and giggled and showed off her lunch box!

Memo to Alison in 11 years: This is for sure going in the Bat Mitzvah montage

Memo to Alison in 11 years: This is for sure going in the Bat Mitzvah montage

Madelyn's First Day of Preschool

Preschool2

Preschool3

Off we went to school where she frolicked through the playground to enter the bright and cheery classroom with her equally bright and cheery teachers and then it happened:

The Leg Hug.

Her arms gripped her Daddy’s leg like a hippie’s on a tree, and she would. not. let. go. OK, OK, so, she’s a little bit of a leg hugger and is usually slow to warm when entering a room anyway. No big whoop. We’ll ignore this behavior and get to know the room and the teachers and all that. Well, she gave the side eye to anyone who even so much as breathed the same oxygen as her in the room, and didn’t show any signs of unlatching.

Finally, one of the teachers got her to at least sit in a chair and she looked at the play dough while the other kids made museum-quality works of art out of it, but hey, at least she looked at it.

"Maybe if I look at this long enough, it'll do something."

“Maybe if I look at this long enough, it’ll do something.”

We had done all of our admin duties and made our way over to her for the kiss-off. A quick “goodbye and love you,” sealed with a kiss, and a promise that I’d be back in a little bit (three hours) seemed to do the trick. No tears. No hysterics. It was a perfect morning after all.

Love my big girl!!

Love my big girl!!

We drove off campus, Bryan and I looked at the “Schedule” the teachers gave us detailing a typical day of Madelyn’s class and we wished we were two, and then we went our separate ways for the day. I felt 28.7 pounds lighter when I realized I had a whole 2.5 hours ahead of me to do whatever I wanted and efficiently.

Bryan's going to propose this new schedule to his boss at work.

Bryan’s going to propose this new schedule to his boss at work.

Until 10:45 when I got a phone call that I should return to school. School gets out at noon.

Apparently, Madelyn had a bit of a roller coaster morning after we’d left. Thankfully, it wasn’t the tantrum kind, but she was sad and definitely asking for her mommy over and over again. She saw her beloved Mommy & Me teacher on the playground and had a hard time accepting the fact that she flew that coop, and was in a new nest with new wonderful teachers and new sweet friends. That adjustment must be hard for toddlers — to be at the same school, but in a different class with a different format and different faces — so I totally get it.

I came back in the classroom to find the kiddies eating lunch — and so well, I might add! — and Madelyn was a happy little girl. She was told that I was coming back and she perked back up. We ate lunch together and I was so impressed with her independence and the routines in the classroom which, as I could see, the seasoned teachers had well oiled.

Lunch time success!

Lunch time success!

We finished up the day with some circle time and some songs. I made sure she felt comfortable having me there, but didn’t want to participate too much and convey a Mommy & Me-type setting for her, so I gave her short cues based on her teachers’ directions to the whole class, and she settled in really nicely.

Madelyn participates at circle time at the end of the day!

Madelyn participates at circle time at the end of the day!

The end of the day came quickly, and Madelyn was in a great mood. Despite the rocky transition in the first half, I’d say the day as a whole was successful.

I’m so proud of my little preschooler and know we have many years of memories to make together in our preschool community. And she sang “Shalom Haverim” so beautifully, that Babs better be shakin’ in her boots.

  1. Pattie
    1/7/2014 8:17 AM

    I so look forward to your updates! What a little trooper…MOMMY! haha. New friends, new adventures, growing up. It’s all part of the plan for kiddies and a really hard transition for moms! Book those mornings! Lots of mani/pedi’s, lunches, movies (if they aren’t too long!) Enjoy your mommy time, while Madelyn grows to love school!
    Love you all….

  2. Mimi
    1/6/2014 10:02 PM

    Dear Sweet Madelyn! I’m so happy that you had a busy & fun day in your new pre-school class. I love your schedule of activities & that you will have very clean hands. ;-) It will be fun/funny to look back on this big event/milestone & see that you are still friends or even went all through your school years with some of your new classmates.
    Starting with today, I can’t wait to be able to go to lots of your school events!!
    I love you! <3
    Mimi