First of First(s)

Yesterday was a big day in the Friedman house and it all happened within 2 hours of waking up. YAWN. So tired. O. M. I would type the G but I’m just that tired.

Madelyn and Arielle both had their first day of school and everything went pretty perfectly. Other than the no-sleeping in thing.

Oh, and not to bury the lede but Bryan was out of town for work this whole week so it was single mama milestone time and part of me feels like Supermom for doing it all myself and part of me feels super lame for being proud of doing it all myself.

I woke up the girls after I bargained with the alarm clock to not be sooooooo rude and abrupt in the morning. Madelyn woke up excited to start her first day of school. Arielle was just confused because she normally snoozes until 8:30 (don’t hate!). Thankfully, outfits were picked out the night before (including mine because… mom friends) and lunches were packed before going to sleep so all we had to do was take care of ourselves and make time for a 3-minute BTS photo shoot.

I love how Arielle is looking up to her big sis, learning the ropes of how this first-day-of-school thing works.

First grader and first time preschooler — these girls love going to school!

Arielle looks like the cutest little jailbird ever with her mugshot pose.

Madelyn is a professional first-day model now.

Each girl got a frozen Trader Joe’s waffle on the go because I’m the world’s okayest mom, except for Arielle, who got two because I knew she’d need a refill during Madelyn’s drop off. We walked onto campus together and made a quick stop to take a photo with the school sign. I’m planning to snap the same shot of her in the same place every year to see where she ends up on this sign as she grows. Sometimes I am impressed with myself.

We lined up at her classroom and I had no idea what to expect because we were not placed in the class I thought she’d be in. Apparently, Madelyn is a cooperative learner and easy class citizen (funny, the principal clearly hasn’t seen her do chores and help out around the house when I ask), so she was placed in a first grade/second grade split. I’m mostly okay with this because I am a product of a first/second split as a first grader and I think I turned out fine… enough. Also, she is in a class with a lot of her friends. The teacher is great from what I hear, and who I wanted Madelyn to have for second grade. So, we shall see what happens next year. I am super bummed to miss out on the classroom we hoped to be in (super bummed = I talked myself off a ledge and had to actively restrain myself from turning into that crazy mom), but I also know Madelyn will do great in any class. I’m super proud of her and can’t wait to see her enjoy some challenges and maybe even get a sneak peek into second grade.

New building, new door, new room. Same backpack.

Of course, the best part about the first day of school is seeing friends she missed all summer! She didn’t have many playdates with school friends because the first half of summer, Madelyn was in camp every day and the second half of summer, she was working on a TV project (more details TBD). “Normal” is not a word I’d use to describe Madelyn’s summer, so we are all feeling refreshed and delighted to be back in the routine with some of her favorite friends.

Madelyn’s FAYEvorite friend from kindergarten is in her class again, and we are all so happy!

Two feet away from literally entering first grade.

Parents were invited into the class to check out the new digs, and just as Madelyn and I got comfy at her desk, Arielle ran out of that second waffle. So that’s when Armageddon happened, basically, and she let out screams and enacted tantrummy fists and no amount of rational conversation could be exchanged. The bell would ring in about eight minutes and parents were still hanging around the desks inside. I was so sweaty from this and frantically figuring out my exit game plan because I knew this was not acceptable. The teacher casually walked by to let me know that “it’s ok! We’re almost done in here, so you can probably just say goodbye now,” which was a super nice way of telling me to take the maniac toddler in my arms and remove her from the classroom. What a fantastic way to start off the year as the crazy toddler mom. Thanks, REL.

A quick kiss later, we fled the room and hurried to the car so we could get to our next stop: Arielle’s preschool!

Madelyn was so excited to have her own desk with shelves inside to store her things. I imagine this is like the elementary version of lockers.

Despite the fact that it was a school filled with toddlers, Arielle’s drop-off was a lot more low key: tons of familiar moms from years of preschoolhood together, warm and sugary sweet teachers, and best of all, tons of easy parking.

I signed her in while she temporarily hugged my leg and then I showed her where her lunch, snack, and water go. She totally owned the classroom and felt so proud to be there. She immediately got on the floor to play with building toys and sat with her friend. The girls’ older siblings were in preschool together and now it’s exciting that the baby sisters are going through it in the same class, too.

Arielle was hard at work doing her very first preschool STEM project.

Brooklyn and Arielle both sat down to explore the toys on the carpet and were super involved in their exploration.

Brooklyn got a little verklempt when her mom started to leave, but Arielle made sure to let her know she had a friend in her.

Saying goodbye to Arielle was super anti-climactic at her drop-off probably because she didn’t have a baby sister at her’s to steal her thunder (grumble grumble), but I’m so glad there were zero tears from her all day. That is not the experience we had with Madelyn at the same age.

After a little more schmoozing with mom friends on the playground, I made it to my next stop right on time: behold! The new tradition! The most brilliant idea ever! The escape from reality! The Massage! I booked an hour of me time to relax and get those knots worked out. Quite frankly, I’d been saying I was going to get a massage for six months, but every time I’d think about booking it, something stressful or physical would come up and it seemed wasteful to indulge in a massage when it would be ruined right after due to more deadlines or travels or events. But I think two kids successfully attending their first day of school after a wild summer was the best way to start the 2017-2018 school year!

That massage table made me its bitch.

Pick-ups in the afternoon went just as well as the morning hustle. Both girls shared big hello smiles with me and squishy goodbye hugs with friends. At first I was a little emotional to leave the kindergarten bubble and start in on the final round of preschool, but I’m feeling really positive and excited about the school year and know my girls’ happiness is the best part!

After school, Arielle enjoyed a leisurely ride with friends around the playground, similar to what some experience as they travel from bar to bar at night in a college town.

Madelyn ran out with a smile on her face, so I’ll call that a win.

Fun references with the now-annual photos from Madelyn’s kindergarten year:

Madelyn’s First Day of Kindergarten
Madelyn’s Kindergarten Update After a Few Weeks

  1. nicole
    8/24/2017 10:22 PM

    love your words. always! glad to hear they had great first days.

A Fairy Happy Birthday

This year in kindergarten, all around her, teeth were dropping like flies. Madelyn made it very clear that she was jealous of all the other kids in her class who had teeth that were flappin’ in the wind and regular visits from the Tooth Fairy. Even when her very best friend lost her first tooth, Madelyn sulked in the corner because her envy outweighed her happiness for her friend. I can remember wanting to grow up at the same exact time as all my friends, too (and reading all those Judy Blume books near the end of elementary school made me eager to, as Judy would say, … develop… so I understood), but I explained to Madelyn that she was one of the youngest in her class so she would probably not lose her first tooth at the same time as everyone else.

I was shocked when, a month before turning six, she still didn’t have a wiggle. But about two weeks ago, Madelyn complained of her tooth “hurting” and I thought that was strange since the tissue and the tooth looked healthy. I asked my dentist friends and they mentioned that just before the start of a wiggly tooth, sometimes kids say their tooth hurts, but what it really means is that it’s just bothering them and there’s no pain to be concerned about.

That’s exactly what happened to Madelyn!

A few days later, I checked, and sure enough, the tooth moved side to side ever so slightly. Just as quickly as the wiggle came on, so did the progression of the wiggle! It seemed like no time at all until she, too, finally had a tooth that was flappin’ in the wind.

The night before her sixth birthday, we went to Lazy Dog Cafe for our traditional Birthday Eve Dinner and she enjoyed a huge ice cream sundae with a candle in it. As she blew out her candle, I knew exactly what she’d wish for: to finally lose her first tooth! It was barely hanging in, but I figured it needed another couple days. I had a pretty good feeling it would be out before the end of the weekend.

Wishing for the wiggle of all wiggles.

Good thing she didn’t lose her tooth right then and there or we never would have found it in that ocean of whipped cream.

Knowing this, I kept reminding Bryan to make a stop at the bank to pick up some magical and fairy-like $2 bills. I couldn’t do it because I have been with Madelyn non-stop all day working on a television show (more on that in … a while). But between his busy work days and the limited hours a bank is open (9 to 5 just really isn’t long enough apparently!), as of August 8th, we were still not stashing away $2 bills.

After our Birthday Eve Dinner, I had to drop of Arielle at my parents’ house so that she could spend the night since we’d be waking up early to take Madelyn on set. We were excited to show Bryan around and introduce him to the cast and crew who’ve become like family. Sending Arielle to my parents’ house the night before was the most logical plan since our morning would be super early.

While I was in the car, Bryan called and I heard chaotic crying and gasping in the background. “SHE LOST HER TOOTH!” he announced. I let out a desperate, “Are you serious?!” that was not that dissimilar from how I responded to his marriage proposal.

We quickly connected to FaceTime once I got to my parents’ house so I could see Madelyn’s face. She was still freshly watery in the eyes and super unsure about this milestone.

Me, in the upper left hand corner, trying not to cry because growing up omg.

Thankfully, he preserved the moment by having her tell the story of how she lost her tooth. Sounds to me like not only did she get rid of the day’s sugar and plaque, but she brushed away her tooth, too!

As the best daddy in the world, he handled the clean-up and talking her off a ledge like a total pro; Madelyn was completely freaking out that her tooth was now a fossil as she held it in her hand and saw a hole in her gum line in her reflection.

Bryan had Madelyn get the room ready for the Tooth Fairy which included tidying up the area around the bed so she wouldn’t trip over dirty laundry, headbands, and Legos late at night in the dark room, as well as writing a note to the Tooth Fairy in order to establish a healthy child-fairy rapport.

She’s such a little cheerleader:
“Dear Tooth Fairy,
You are the best. You can do lots of things. I love you! I want you to put my tooth in a box safe and perfect as can be. You can do this! Go Tooth Fairy!
Love, Madelyn”

I had ordered a cute pillow on Etsy that hadn’t arrived yet, so Bryan had Madelyn drop her tooth into the pocket of my childhood Tooth Fairy pillow, tucked her note inside with the tooth, and placed it under her pillow as tradition tells kids to do.

Madelyn ready for Tooth Fairy Prep 101.

When I came home from putting Arielle to sleep, I got to work. Since our $2 plan was out the window, we went for the only cash we had that wasn’t twenties. A nice, clean, crisp $10 bill would have to do. And while I wasn’t super thrilled about setting the bar that high on tooth #1, I decided on a few things: 1) She doesn’t really know the value of money yet anyway, so if I switch it up on her for the next tooth, she won’t really care; and 2) She’s seeing her favorite show, “Hamilton,” in September, so the way to make this tooth loot relevant is to tie it in with Hamilton himself who, as Lin Manuel Miranda says, is the “ten dollar founding father.” Thanks to some loose powder shimmery eye shadow, I made the bill sparkly and magical, and I knew that would seal the deal for her.

I also wrote her a letter from the Tooth Fairy and stressed out a fair amount as I knew I had to straddle the narrow line of making the writing easy enough to read (no cursive) and different enough to disguise my printing. I added some more glitter and shimmer to the letter — because apparently the Tooth Fairy is just a moth who’s been squished on paper?? — and knew it was time to do the deed.

Just before planning the route to the pillow and sneaking into her room, Bryan and I documented the moment. After all, this very point of parenting was brand new to us, and something I was looking forward to since the day I realized who my Tooth Fairy was. A fleeting whirlwind of emotions left me a little teary (do I have a Chopped Onion Fairy who accompanies the Tooth Fairy?!) because I distinctly remember when that very tooth that was hanging out in her pillow pocket grew into her mouth. There were tears and a few sleepless nights when she was a handful-and-a-half months old, but she grew to showcase a beautiful smile and this moment that was six years in the making meant it would transition to a new version of that smile. Time is so wonderful and cruel like that. So, all this to say, because it’s a big parenthood moment, we snapped a photo of the Tooth Fairy just before making touch down.

We found these wings tucked up in the top of the closet with the rest of the costume stash.
Pretty much the last time I wore this, I was dressed up as an angel at a college fraternity party. I am very sure that many vodka cranberries were involved with the 2003 version of this outfit.

I found Madelyn sleeping on the middle of the foot of her double bed, not even near her pillow, as if to make it easy for the Tooth Fairy to find the buried treasure. One less tooth, but no less considerate, that Madelyn.

I did the exchange and tip toed away. Very simple, but very breathless. I was sure she would wake up from the sound of my heart beating, like horses stampeding in a Game of Thrones battle. She stirred for a moment and I was already coming up with my go-to on-the-spot reason for being in her room in the middle of the night. But Sleeping Toothless Beauty continued slumbering, and my stealth fairy powers paid off. I didn’t know I could hold my breath for so long until I was safe in the hallway, undetected and unscathed.

This morning, she woke up on her birthday and ran into our room, way more chipper than anyone should be at 7 a.m.

“MOMMMMMMYYYYY!!! I have some exciting neeeeews!” she dangled the word “news” like I’d never guess in a million years and was waiting for my shocked reaction.

“Oh yeah?” YAWN. “What’s that? What could be so exciting this early?”

“Well,” she took a deep breath to drop the bomb. “The Tooooooth Fairy caaaaaaame! And she left me moneeeeeey! And it’s TEN DOLLARS. You know why? Because I love “Hamilton!” She really punched it with that “Hamilton.”

I declared that her Tooth Fairy knows all about her and is magical that way. How impressive. She couldn’t get over the fact that the Tooth Fairy was so smart and brilliant (go on… tell me more!) to not only know these things, but to put this much thought into them. If only she knew that the Tooth Fairy couldn’t make it to Chase before closing.

Madelyn couldn’t stop grinning her new grin. If she were a peacock, her feathers would be sprouting all over the place. And when I reminded her it was her birthday, too, her eyes almost burst open and her jaw hit the floor; in all the excitement of the Tooth Fairy morning discovery, she had completely forgotten she woke up on her birthday! She did her happy dance, gaping hole in her smile and all, and we spent the morning cuddling this baby who, truly, over night, grew into a totally awesome and unique six-year-old.

After her birthday dinner, I couldn’t help but capture this quintessential six-year-old moment.

I couldn’t think of a cooler way to lose a first tooth or a cooler girl to lose it.

  1. 8/20/2017 8:04 PM

    What’s up, for all time i used to check website
    posts here early in the dawn, for the reason that i like
    to learn more and more.

  2. Mimi
    8/11/2017 9:47 PM

    Wow Madelyn! So many big milestones happened to you in 2 days!
    Happy 6th Birthday! I hope all your birthday wishes come true and you have the best time being 6. I had such a wonderful time celebrating with you and your friends at the dance studio party.
    And how exciting that you lost your first tooth! The Tooth Fairy is the best fairy and is always excited to visit a kid who takes such good care of their teeth like you do. This is only the beginning of more visits from the Tooth Fairy.
    I am so proud of you and love you very much!
    love, Mimi

She’s Bringing Sixy Back

It’s hard to believe that when BornFriedman started, Baby Girl Friedman was just a little blob of cells and now, just about six years later, she’s a blob of sass and smarts and talent and love and kindness and humor and beauty. And all of that is worth celebrating, so celebrate we did!

Last year, her Dodgers party at our house was a — hit! — but I actually kept my promise and scaled down for her sixth birthday party. And by “scaled down,” I mean I outsourced the venue and activity (I love you, Protégé Performing Arts), prepared zero food (I love you too, Stonefire), and kept the guest list to her favorite gal pals for a super girly and twirly dance studio party.

While I’ve always been a glutton for punishment with making a zillion decorations and party favors and food, I’m so glad I left it up to the pros since our uniquely busy summer schedule left me little to no prep time for this year’s party. I did a few artsy projects like painting mason jars for center pieces and my annual banner to hang over the food table, but it dawned on me why I felt so rested and bright-eyed on the day of this party: easy party!

Madelyn has been taking tap and ballet at Kelly Salvatore’s dance studio in North Ranch, Protégé Performing Arts, for the three seasons it’s been open. We love Miss Kelly, not just because she’s a personal friend of ours, but also because she’s the Pied Piper of children and has the most wonderful disposition with all of her students. I don’t know how she does it with such ease! Madelyn loves going to dance class once a week because Miss Kelly makes her feel so loved while still teaching her the foundations. I was so excited to share Miss Kelly with Madelyn’s friends at her party!

The girls got started with a little free dancing and stretching. Madelyn did an amazing job introducing her friends to each other since they all came from various parts of her life. I was super impressed with how she mingled with everyone and made sure they all felt included. That’s difficult for adults to do, let alone first-graders, so I was really proud of her!

I loved watching Madelyn and her friends dance together as if they’d all known each other for years. Grown-ups could learn a thing or two from kids about letting loose, letting go, and tearin’ down those walls.

Miss Kelly cleverly set up a dance “obstacle course” — OLYMPICS 2028!!!!!!! — and the girls had to do certain moves at each spot along the way, ending with a cheer to the tune of “MADELYN IS SIX!” or something like that, accompanied by a passionate pom-pom shake. They did a great job learning the directions and waiting their turns. It was too cute and all the girls were amazing!

And then there was a Hula Hoop game. Twelve little girls Hula Hooping is very loud. Lots of beads sloshing around and hollow plastic bouncing and tumbling all over wood floor. But those girls sure do love to work those hips. Shakira would be proud.

They also learned a little hip hop combo to “My Shot” from … any guesses? HAM wait for it (haha) ILTON! Six-year-old booty shaking might be the best thing ever invented. When the show opens at the Pantages here in Hollywood this week, I think there are definitely some understudy contenders from Madelyn’s birthday party guests.

Perhaps the most entertaining portion of Madelyn’s party was her own little sister. Arielle was living her best life for that 90 minutes of time on the dance floor. Everything she did, she did with the most fierce determination. When it came time to stretch, she was totally nose to the toes; nose to the floor, even. When it was time to shake her tush, she almost pulled a TSwift and shook it off. ALL OFF. And she committed to her balloon. All the kids got to dance with a balloon tied to their wrists, but Arielle and her balloon were intertwined in the greatest love affair of all. They danced together like they were Fred and Ginger or like they were aiming toward the Mirrorball Trophy. Arielle and that pink balloon: I’ve never seen a purer joy.

They worked up an appetite so the dancers — and patient parents! — were fed. Stonefire (read: breadsticks) turns every party into a rager. We’ve been eating left overs for 24 hours. I am very pleased with my choice to cater in this lunch!

And using a kids party as an excuse to order a half pan of mac n cheese was my most brilliant idea. Kids parties every weekend???

Back in the dance room, the girls got in line for a little stroll down the cat walk, practicing their best strut and some awesome poses. These girls loved the mirror and the mirror loved them right back. I’m not sure Madelyn will be tackling Fashion Week any time soon or ever, but in that moment, she was such a super model, she could’ve married Tom Brady right then and there.

The grand finale was a dance choreographed by Madelyn (she’s really good at step-touches and hip sways) as well as a break down to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” because… Justin.

Even with all the dancing love, nothing transitions a bunch of girls into the final activity more than the word “CUPCAKES.” Madelyn’s friends gathered around her to sing the birthday anthem and she made her own speech after she blew out her candles! Usually, I say something to the guests, but our big six-year-old is enough of a Chatty Maddie and budding toastmaster that I thought she might want to share her own words. In her speech, she announced her love for all of her best and favorite friends surrounding her and how glad she was to see everyone together and “mixed.” And then she thanked the grown ups. Eddie Haskell or sweet girl: take your pick… but it was one more proud feather in my cap.

The girls took a group photo and then began to trickle away with hugs and goodbyes. With all the rush of hosting a birthday party, we crammed in a family photo before we left, which was a feat because, well, Arielle wanted off her feet. She partied so hard, by the end, she resembled a college girl… the day after. If her speech was better, she would’ve asked me to drive her to the nearest dirty burrito shack. That girl.

We had the best time at Madelyn’s sixth birthday. This little big one is so full of life and pizzazz, it was so appropriate for us to celebrate her with dance and expression! Her big day is actually Wednesday, August 9th, but we will be making her feel special for this whole birthday week. More surprises are in store for her throughout the rest of August, and selfishly, the surprises are just as great for me because I love seeing her face light up. There’s no greater delight than watching Madelyn as she dances through life.

  1. Mimi
    8/11/2017 9:58 PM

    HAPPY 6th BIRTHDAY TO YOU, MADELYN!!! You have such nice friends and it was a fantastic party! I love how you were such a great hostess making sure everyone was having a great time. I think Arielle had the best time too and never seemed to get tired from all the dancing. I can’t wait for the special birthday surprise outing I have planned for us next week. 🙂
    I love you very much!
    Mimi

  2. Linda SMith
    8/8/2017 9:45 AM

    That was an amazing blog….lucky Madelyn
    .

The Terrible Twos Are Crappy

You’d think that after almost six years of parenthood, I wouldn’t blink about having to change crib bedding. But I still find it to be a gigantic pain: the mattress is heavy and bulky, my small hands and nails can’t grip on to the corners, and when reaching in, the rails are at boob height and that hurts. And unfortunately, for the last few weeks, we are changing crib bedding almost every day because Arielle, in all her two-year-old glory, is exploring her artistic talents. Her favorite art form? Finger painting. Her favorite color? Brown. Her preferred medium? Poop.

Insider tip from me to you: Buy stock in Clorox.

You’re welcome.

You guys. I just can’t anymore. I think Madelyn did this like three times and then outgrew it. Arielle is a true arteest, staying true to her art. She’s going to be the one who chooses a major like painting in college and then insists on making it in the real world as a studio artist and then lives with us in our colloquial basement (because, California) until she’s 37.

“Arielle, you MUST stop playing with your poop. It’s getting old. Enough.”
“But, Mother! I am… [gasp] an artist!”

So here’s how this goes: every nap or nighttime, as we place her in her crib, we discuss how she must keep her pajamas on and that doody stays in the diaper and not the crib, and that it’s icky-pooey if it gets everywhere. She nods her head in agreement and understanding and then I’m pretty sure as we walk out the door and turn out the light, she gives us the biggest middle finger a toddler can make.

Now, my mom friends would say this is karma because Arielle sleeps late and loves her crib. Even when she is awake, she happily plays and sings and chats, so I rarely have to rush to her room in order to soothe a lonely, crying baby. So most mornings or afternoons, we just let her hang out for 30 minutes or so after waking up. This is Rookie Mistake # 1 because this is probably when she decides to get creative with her poop. And after that 30 minutes, when I enter her room, I discover the “art” strewn across her crib, her sheets, her… self. That’s usually when I say a lot of really bad words. If this was The Truman Show, the home audience would be clutching their pearls.

And so the cycle begins of never ending laundry. Crib bumpers take a long time in the dryer. Any bets on my electric bill this month?

OK, so after one or two times of this nonsense, one would learn to seek reinforcements since the “no poop” pep talk before sleep doesn’t work. But we must suffer from “Our Child Is Brilliant and Surely Wouldn’t Put Us Through This Torture Again” syndrome, but no, that little pooper doesn’t give a hoot about our water bill and clearly Bryan and I are masochistic enough to live on the edge.

And just when she’ll go a few sleeps without Diaper Removal-geddon, we think she’s learned her lesson and we are clear. But no. It happens again.

Earlier this week, I ordered a toddler sleep sac because the mom boards say that they work and mom boards are the gospel. Amazon Prime has never felt like such an eternity. UPS Man, you are my new best friend by end of day, June 23rd.

So last night, we finally remembered to put her in backwards onesie footie PJs, another tip from the Mom Gods on the mom boards. In the morning: Duh, no poop, because Arielle hasn’t figured out how to grow octopus tentacles to reach around the back and zip open her backwards onesie. As parents, felt like champions of the world this morning and our laundry machine breathed a huge sigh of relief that she’d get the day off. Poor old girl is tired. All that spinning — the vertigo is intense. Kenmore can do no more.

Later this afternoon, at her usual naptime, Arielle went to sleep. Now, I’m not going to say who brought her up to her room and put her down for her nap, but I was at lunch with a friend. So….

The Olympic Sleeper slept for 3.5 hours because she does have some redeeming qualities, and I was making dinner around the time she woke up. The chicken, potatoes, and broccoli were ready to come out of the oven just as Bryan declared he was going to get Arielle and bring her down in time to eat. Mmm. A hot meal that the family would enjoy around the table together after the longest day of the year.

And then I heard the swear words and the stomps on the carpet. Either Bryan had just hammered his own hands with Sriracha-soaked metal nails …. OOOOOOOOR, Arielle had produced another Poopacalypse. Whoever put her to bed was very trusting in her shorts and T-shirt. I mean, I don’t know. We’ll never know the truth.

Poor girl stood in her crib looking at us like we had 27 eyeballs.

Her diaper was on the floor. There was a smashed nugget on the floor with Bryan’s heel print in it from when he walked closer to her to see her damage. Her white crib was… not. She looked like a pig in a mud bath. Into the shower she went and off the bedding came… again. I walked into our laundry room and I think Kenmore rolled her eyes at me. She might have even tsk-tsked me. I poured detergent and vinegar in her to shut her up.

While our dinner got cold downstairs, Bryan and I had a very close-proximity conversation (teacher trick!) with Arielle, using calm, low voices and we talked about where poop goes and where diapers stay. Her lower lip quivered and it was hard to be mad at her. She nodded her head in understanding. At bedtime, her backwards onesie was zipped up and we put on a new sheet while the rest of her bedding was still in the dryer.

We spend so much of our parenthood trying to teach our kids lessons and making sure they learn from their mistakes. But in some cases, these mistakes have the opposite effect: Pavlov would be proud that we realized it was us who finally became conditioned. Click. Click. Click.

Really hoping Pavlov won this one because if she grows octopus tentacles and evolves to be able to unzip her backwards onesie in the morning, Darwin wins. And I just don’t think our laundry machine would appreciate that. Either this or we just stop feeding her. No? Ok. Backwards zipper it is.

Re-Birthday, Rebirth-day

Last week was my birthday and I turned 34 which is officially “mid 30s” and that just seems weird. I’m not one to get hung up on numbers, but I’m entering the era during which I began remembering my own parents. Normally I like birthdays because it’s a day to enjoy favorite things and people. I thought back to last year’s birthday; Bryan was out of town on business, I was sick with a mystery virus that felt like the flu on crack for a whole week, I didn’t enjoy a day with friends like I’d planned, I was suffering with chronic back pain, I was still nursing a toddler with recurring complications, and I felt the biggest and most off-kilter I’d ever felt in my life despite mostly regular clean eating. I started 33 in bad form.

My Facebook pity party on my actual birthday. Behind my cutesy self-deprecating humor was a sad cat with an orchestra of tiny violins.

I eventually recovered from my weird sickness just in time for Madelyn’s preschool graduation. And few months after my birthday, I finally bit the bullet and scheduled my surgery to correct my diastasis recti and umbilical hernia. A few months after that, Arielle and I ended our breastfeeding journey. And then a few months after that, I completed losing 20 pounds and underwent surgery that would truly change my life. I spent the second half of 33 relearning my new life as a mom and getting to know a new body.

And then last week, on June 7th, I turned 34 and realized I hadn’t been this happy in so long. Sure, my kids make me happy and my husband makes me happy, and my family and friends make me happy, but I wasn’t happy with myself; by my self.

Of course it’s a good day when you get a free Starbucks birthday drink (and calories don’t count on your birthday!)

Turning 34, despite the mid-30s thing and the becoming-my-parents-as-I-remember-them thing, was awesome.

For a handful of months, I’ve noticed my confidence bloom. Stupid things like getting to wear shirts that I’d previously eyed for so many years and left on the racks and playing with my girls on the floor and finally not resenting them because of back pain that had made it difficult to get out of bed have given me a greater sense of self. My work with Maya, my sweet friend and Pilates instructor, has sculpted me in new ways I didn’t think were possible and my work is so not even done. I continue to eat clean, mostly following Whole30 as my guide, but when I do want to indulge (and I do!), instead of self-sabotaging and throwing away progress, I now have the ability to get back on the horse and pick up where I left off. I have power back over myself, and I’m no longer feeling like my own victim. It’s so silly that that confidence translates to all better versions of the areas of my life as a mom, wife, friend, and even a stranger passing by fellow strangers. I smile more.

My actual birthday was a fairly routine day. I volunteered in Madelyn’s classroom as I always do on Wednesdays. I enjoyed a Pilates session shortly after. I cuddled with Arielle. I had a favorite lunch with Bryan. I saw some family members. I did a quick loop around the mall. I had the most delicious dinner with my parents and Bryan and the girls. My very regular and normal day-to-day events happened, but I felt so happy and complete when I set my head on my pillow, one year older.

Dinner with my crew to celebrate love, health, and delicious food. My belly and heart were happy when we rolled out.

I celebrated with some of my favorite friends, drinking wine and enjoying a June evening under the stars at the most popular spot in town. All these people showed up for me and we all had a blast; I was truly touched. When I was pressed to come up with a wish at the end of the song, I stared at a cupcake and couldn’t come up with one request to go out with the candle; I had everything I wished for. Instead, I said a mental “thanks.” Last year at this time, I sulked that I didn’t have all the things that I now have found myself with this year on my birthday: health, friends surrounding me, a properly functioning body, and a great appreciation for the little things.

I think of birthdays like most people think of New Year’s Day: a fresh start, a new beginning, another chance. January first always feels like a cliché time to reflect. But birthdays are our own unique day to celebrate achievements and what’s in store.

As crappy as my 33rd birthday was, the things that took place during the year helped me find my happy place on my 34th birthday. My mid-30s are shaping up to be better than I could have imagined. I am making a point to be true to myself, surround myself with positive people who love me back, work on self-care, and be more present. The distracting noises of my 33rd birthday have now been edited to sound more like an invigorating soundtrack for my 34th birthday and onward.