Introducing Arielle Jane Friedman

by Bryan Friedman in Amazing Arielle, Daddy's Corner

Now that she’s one week old, it’s time to share the vital stats from the second Baby Friedman’s birth:

Name: Arielle Jane Friedman
Place: Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California
Date: 3/4/2015
Time: 1:00pm
Weight: 7 lbs, 11 oz
Length: 20.5″

If you were placing bets on weight or length, you would have done well to stick with the same exact stats from Madelyn’s birth. What are the odds?

Everything went great during the scheduled C-section, and we had a very nice time living in the bubble of the hospital for four days. Just like last time, we appreciated all the love from our friends and family as our phones lit up with endless Facebook notifications. We could not be more grateful for all the amazing support from everyone.

The Name Game

You may remember that Madelyn’s name was kept secret until the day she was born. We did the same thing with Arielle this time around.

Naming a person is hard. It’s a lot of pressure! When we were naming Madelyn, Alison and I started by each making a list of five names we liked to see if any matched. Alison’s list included both “Arielle” and “Madelynn”. My list included neither. But I liked both of those names more than most of the ones on my own list. I just hadn’t considered them before. So we ended up zeroing in on those two options.

We actually agreed on “Arielle” at first. We loved the name, but we had some reservations. First of all, we were worried it would be frequently mispronounced as AIR-ee-elle (like the mermaid) or AH-ree-uhl (like the former Israeli prime minister) instead of ar-ee-ELLE (the right way, like simply saying the letters R E L). We also figured we’d get the frequent cries of “Oh yeah. Like the Little Mermaid!” which no doubt would get old quickly, especially since Arielle’s pronunciation isn’t even like the fishy princess.

So for these reasons, we ultimately settled in on “Madelyn” instead. The spelling changed from Alison’s list because it didn’t look right to me for some reason. We didn’t want to do “Madeline” because, although we both liked it, we knew she’d go her whole life correcting people’s pronunciation of it. (Not mad-uh-LINE, it’s mad-uh-LYN.) So we figured ending in the -YN would help solve that problem. We also opted for the single N at the end to avoid having her run into spelling mistakes her whole life too. (Alison-with-one-L and Bryan-with-a-Y are well-versed in this arena.) You can see, we thought a lot about it. So unlike us, right?

Anyway, for this second kid, if we’d had a boy, the name decision would have been pretty easy for us. Our boy lists matched pretty closely. However, when we found out we were having another girl, we thought we’d start fresh with a clean slate of names and pick which one we liked best. But it turns out, we didn’t like any of them more than we liked “Arielle.” We just kept coming back to it. Except we still had all the same reservations this time. Even more so actually because of Madelyn’s obsession with The Little Mermaid. Would it now seem like the name was because of this? Would it be confusing for Madelyn?

We flirted with other names, but eventually just decided to go with what we liked the best. Madelyn won’t be obsessed with a mermaid forever, and let our reservations be damned! We just love the name, so forget all that stuff. We even told the name to Madelyn (risky!) so we could hear her say it and her cute little way, lovingly and sweetly saying the name in a sing-songy voice, sealed the deal. Arielle it is.

We weren’t wrong; most of our concerns have been validated over the past week as we find ourselves constantly correcting mispronunciations and dodging Little Mermaid references left and right. But we knew what were getting into. So little girl – you’ll just have to get used to it. Take it from Bryan-with-a-Y and Alison-with-one-L – we feel your pain. You may grow tired of repeating the phrase “it’s just like saying the letters R E L” – but we know you’ll grow to love your name as much as we love it. It’s beautiful and unique, Arielle. Just like you are.

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We’ll write more soon about Arielle’s birth day and the following days at the hospital. We are settling in at home and Arielle is a sleeping and eating champ. The best part is watching Madelyn adore her baby sister. It’s a whole new era in the Friedman household and even though change can be hard, ultimately, things are good. They’re great.

  1. Sarah
    3/12/2015 9:14 AM

    I have a friend with the same name (but spelled like the mermaid) she also tells people “like saying the letters R E L” or ” like the way Sebastian pronounces the mermaid’s name”

    I think the spelling you went with will be much less confusing for people

Big Steps for Big Sis

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings, Pregnancy

A big sister must be prepared for her sibling duties, so just like my mom made me take an SAT prep course in my junior year of high school, we enrolled Madelyn in “Siblings R Special” at Los Robles Hospital to make sure she passed the ultimate test with flying colors.

Initially, she was scheduled for the class the weekend before. It’s only offered once a month, and I opted for the date closest to our c-section so that Madelyn would have all the information fresh in her head. I was so excited to watch her have a sister experience that’s all about her, so imagine my utter disappointment when we got to the class and it had been canceled due to the teacher’s illness. The high school volunteers at the hospital almost had to admit me to a room with rubber walls.

I called first thing Monday and begged them to reschedule the class. They did! So, four days before Eviction Day, Madelyn got to take her class and we enjoyed the little nuggets of information the teacher shared. Madelyn learned how to hold the baby properly, and the teacher also explained that the belly button would look funny.

Always place the baby on a hard table and  squeeze at the neck.

Always place the baby on a hard table and squeeze at the neck.

The baby will always be very still and quiet.

The baby will always be very still and quiet.

Even professional Daddies need practice. Also, it's totally OK turn your babk and leave babies unattended on tables.

Even professional Daddies need practice. Also, it’s totally OK turn your back and leave babies unattended on tables facing the wall.

Madelyn got to color a picture that would go on the baby’s cart-bed and — nice touch — the volunteers took a family photo of us at the beginning of class that was ready by the end, so we could affix the photo to Madelyn’s picture.

This is the first piece of art that Madelyn's little sister will see in her own little baby Louvre.

This is the first piece of art that Madelyn’s little sister will see in her own little baby Louvre.

The class ended with a tour of the maternity level and a stop at the nursery so she could see where her little sister would be right after delivery. We looked at the new babies in there and she recalled pictures she’d seen of herself in the very same nursery just over three-and-a-half years ago.

I definitely think she aced the class. The final exam is on Wednesday. We’ll see how all her studying pays off.

Madelyn recalled her entire experience in this nursery. Home videos are a magical device.

Madelyn recalled her entire experience in this nursery. Home videos are a magical device.

Oh, and P.S., I cried about 6 separate times during the class. That’s pretty much every ten minutes. I blame hormones. Either that, or there was an invisible kitchen in the classroom with an invisible chef cutting up onions in the back. Why would seeing Madelyn hold an oversized, plastic, lifeless baby doll without any of my DNA make me well up? Or walking past the nursery and seeing other strangers’ fresh, new babies? Psshhh. Hospital fumes.

After Big Sister Academics on Saturday, it was time for Big Sister Extra Curriculars. Madelyn, ever the ultimate girly-girl, has always admired my nails after I come home from a manicure or pedicure. She loves to rub her fingers of the smooth polish and analyze the color I’ve picked. She also likes to watch me put on my makeup every morning and regularly declares, “I’m not a big girl yet, but when I am one day, I will get to wear makeup and get my nails painted, right Mommy?” I always tell her that, yes, makeup is for grown up ladies and that painted nails are for super big girls. Honestly, I’ve avoided putting nail polish on her fingers simply because I haven’t wanted to open up a can of worms of vanity or set up expectations that it can be a regular thing for her.

But between solidifying the idea that she’s about to be a big sister — and, therefore, a “big girl” — and the selfish fact that I’m an emotional mess, holding on to every last bonding opportunity with my only child who made me a mommy in the first place, I decided that the week of the baby’s arrival would be a good time to finally treat her to her first manicure!

After school on Monday, I told her we were going to do a surprise. She immediately began guessing. “Trader Joe’s?” “The bagel store?” “Nordstrom?” I suppose she has me pegged. But I told her it was something she’s never done at a place she’s never been to. She guessed: “A new Target in a new city?”

This girl is a victim of routine.

We walked into the nail salon and she didn’t seem to catch on right away. So I explained to her what we were doing and her eyes lit up. I told her to pick a color and she immediately picked up a sweet pink — shocker! — but then I switched it out for a better brand! OPI’s “Pinking of You” was the winner. I explained the pun. She was not as impressed as her mother. One day.

Some of the most important life decisions a girl will make.

Some of the most important life decisions a girl will make.

Pinking of You -- always, pinking of you, Madelyn.

Pinking of You — always, pinking of you, Madelyn.

I had my nails done first; a set of sparkly, soft pink gels to really ensure a good two weeks out of my paws. Madelyn stared at the UV box in horror and I reassured her that her manicure did not entail this exercise.

When it was her turn, her manicurist, Nancy, simply painted her nails pink and Madelyn watched with very big eyes. I had to keep reminding her to stay very still and to let her hands relax and stay away from touching anything. At the very end, Nancy added white flowers to her thumbs with jewels in the middle of the petals. Madelyn lit up. She loved it. She could not stop staring at her nails and I loved watching her awe.

She was nervous for the moments before, but settled into the experience pretty quickly.

She was nervous for the moments before, but settled into the experience pretty quickly.

A girl could get used to this.

A girl could get used to this.

These are the silliest milestones, yet those are the ones that are most memorable: "Baby's First Mani"

These are the silliest milestones, yet those are the ones that are most memorable: “Baby’s First Mani”

Mother-Daughter manicures forever! Mother-Daughter tattoos NEVER!

Mother-Daughter manicures forever! Mother-Daughter tattoos NEVER!

Having a daughter just got a little bit more expensive.

Having a daughter just got a little bit more expensive.

When we got home, she ran into Bryan’s office and was so excited to show him. She’s been staring at her nails all night and I made sure to remind her a few times that she got to have a manicure because she’s a big girl and it’s what we do for very special occasions — like becoming a big sister!

Next big beauty milestone will likely be an eyebrow wax in about ten years. That’s a little less exciting and glamorous, so I hope she savored today.

I’m so happy that all of the photos of Madelyn holding her sister on Wednesday will have a glimmer of our special, surprise mommy-daughter manicure day together.

Reunited With Some Old Friends

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner, Pregnancy

A few months ago, I climbed a ladder in the garage to grab bins and bags full of clothes marked “onesies 3-6 months” or “pajamas 9-12 months” or “dresses and leggings 18 months.” God bless my wife – she’s so organized. As we readied the nursery, we furiously unpacked the clothes and meticulously hung them in the closet, running out of hangers in no time. This girl is going to have some wardrobe! Alison was close to crying multiple times – either just from getting emotional about seeing Madelyn’s old clothing, or being sad that some of them were ruined by milk stains gone nuclear after three years to really seep in.

Then, a few weeks ago, it was time for round two of digging into the storage areas of our garage – this time to find and haul out all of Madelyn’s original baby gear. Mr. Jungle Gym Mat. Mrs. Swing. Dr. Bouncer. Professor Pack-and-Play. All of our old friends, tucked away in boxes, now entering the world again. Out of retirement. Back in service. I feel like it’s Toy Story or The Brave Little Toaster and these items are all secretly gleeful to be getting ready for use again.

All I had to do was remember how to put them all back together. Not from scratch, but from some variable level of disarray – just enough to have packed them nicely away in boxes. From upstairs I’m sure Alison could hear gasps of “Oh yeah! I forgot about this piece!” and “Argh! I remember this being a pain last time too,” and “What was I thinking packing it away like this?” But before too long, everything was back together, ready and waiting for the new resident to join our party.

But of course, before the new baby can use them, they must be tested by their previous inhabitant and current preschooler.

Wheel of Fortune: Before and After Category

Wheel of Fortune: Before and After Category

Hey Bouncer! Nice to see you again. Meet Mr. Rock-n-Play. I swear, you're not obsolete. We have a bunch of rooms now!

Hey Bouncer! Nice to see you again. Meet Mr. Rock-n-Play. I swear, you’re not obsolete. We have a bunch of rooms now!

It took me three years to finally get The Animal Fair out of my head, and only three seconds to get it back! The sight of Madelyn pushing the buttons and flipping the switches on this stuff was really something. The last time we saw any of it in person she could barely hold her bottle, let alone push buttons or flip switches. I think with Madelyn in the house, I will have to replace these batteries a little bit more frequently.

There’s only one week to go before the pack-and-play, swing, bouncer, and jungle gym mat are officially reenlisted into active duty. And of course, I look forward to meeting up with Miss High Chair and Colonel Jump-a-roo again real soon too. Needless to say, I’m excited for all the brand new experiences to come, but it sure is nice to have some familiar old friends around.

  1. sharon
    2/24/2015 7:59 PM

    I LOVED reading this blog entry and seeing Madelyn in the then & now pictures with all the baby gear. Great idea. It looks like you’re ready. Let the countdown to next Wednesday begin!!

Not Over It

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

It’s at this point in any pregnancy, when you grunt while simply getting out of a chair or you massage your own lower back as you shift weight when standing or you run to the bathroom in a Niagara Falls-like pee-mergency only to encounter two measly and underwhelming drip drops that people give you a sympathetic look and say, “You must be so over it!”

And yet, I’m not.

At 36 weeks pregnant with three weeks to go until scheduled eviction day, I am not over it. I’m not ready to be done. I’m not hoping for the days to fly by so that March 4th can hurry up and be here. I am actually wanting more time, more kicks, more 4:45 a.m. on-the-dot potty wake ups.

This is our second* and last baby. And then that’s it. Babies grow up; I get old. This phase of my life will be over. Yes, I know, then have more babies. But damn. College is expensive. So no, the fiscally responsible thing to do is to quit while we’re ahead. Two heads, to be exact. Two precious heads of girly, curly cuteness.

I’m one of those weirdos who really likes being pregnant. And I come with my own fair share of weird pregnancy symptoms, so it’s not even like I’ve had the most perfect and painless human-making experience. I’m suffering from an itchy belly that makes me want to go to town on my skin with a fork, turning it fifty shades of red, which is a whole new brand of a hurts-so-good franchise.

My leg is also going numb now, so that’s fun. If I stand for more than five minutes, a chicken breast-size area of my lateral quad goes tingly and cold and I can’t feel anything superficially. It is SO. FREAKING. WEIRD. My little bundle is sitting on a nerve, I guess, which is really a lot of nerve.

And, in an act of betrayal by my own girly parts, I also suffered through some pretty gnarly procedures and pains that went so far as to motivate me to buy an undergarment I endearingly called the Over the Shoulder Vulva Holder, so there’s that. I promptly returned it, in case you were wondering, because my condition was beyond this device’s capabilities, and minor vascular surgery was a more direct remedy. Really good times. Really.

And yet, here I am declaring that I don’t hate pregnancy. Clearly, growing a human has also made me delusional because why else would I enjoy it even with these symptoms? I just do. I’ve never felt more female and feminine. Creating life makes me feel powerful. I find a growing belly to be extremely beautiful. Also, not caring about the combo of jeans and a muffintop is always nice, and I really love maternity clothes (my credit card does not).

But even more than the pregnancy experience, becoming a mother was what I always wanted. The mystery and miracle of pregnancy had always intrigued me and, by the end of this second daughter’s gestation, I will go from having experienced 18 months of this wonder and then never to experience it again in my life. My job as a woman will be over and then I’m not cooler than my male parenting partner. He’s pretty cool, though, so I don’t mind being on his level, but the parts that make me a lady, the ones that will have hosted two healthy and happy girls will essentially have no reason to do their jobs. They will be “displaced,” no longer with the company, fired, actually (and I will still have to pay severance once a month, which seems even more unfair). Yay for being almost 32 with a completed family.

I’m going to enjoy the itchies and the numbies in these last three weeks before Baby Girl Friedman 2.0 comes because I will never associate them with such a happy thing ever again. Future skin rashes will just be annoying, and potential numbness of body parts means something might actually be wrong. But now, these inconveniences I’ve endured are simply battle wounds from a great victory.

And while I am trying to enjoy the ups and downs of my final pregnancy, I am also holding onto the greatest gift of my first go ’round: one-on-one time with Madelyn. It’s hard to imagine she’s closing in on her experience as an only child, one that I know all too well. She’s the light of our lives and the center of our universe. Sharing it with another little girl seems impossible and I can’t wrap my head around how that works, but I’ve been told it does. Each cuddle session and hug we exchange every night and every morning are becoming more and more special, that I regret not breathing them in even deeper for the past three-and-a-half years.

I know she’s about to also enjoy a new adventure and title as Big Sister and I’m excited to watch her blossom, which is what’s keeping my eye on the prize as I count down the end to our perfect little threesome. I just keep telling myself that being Madelyn’s mom is like getting to eat one giant piece of chocolate cake and that adding to our family is getting TWO giant pieces of chocolate cake, and really, who doesn’t want more than one piece of chocolate cake?!

BRING ON THE CHOCOLATE CAKES.

Especially because they don’t require paying for college tuition.

So no, Nosey Lady At Trader Joe’s, I am not miserable or looking forward to being done with pregnancy. I am savoring these last bits of what I believe to be my greatest purpose. And then I suppose it’s time for Phase 2: raising two well-adjusted girls who will only slightly hate me as teenagers. And I’ll be so old, I won’t even care about tight jeans and muffintops again.

*Princeton is under the impression I am concluding my third pregnancy.

Aloha All Day Every Day

Now that we’ve been back to reality for a month and the tans have worn off and the aches and pains from sitting on an airplane have been replaced by aches and pains from {insert all activity while 34 weeks pregnant here}, I figured it was time to do a little nostalgic hula down memory lane.

The flight to Kauai was just over six hours and it was rough. The crew was nasty, the plane was packed, and my body was not impressed with being confined to a seat for so long. Madelyn, on the other hand, was a total champ. She slept for two hours and managed to stay happy thanks to coloring books and 79283742 episodes of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” We bought her her very own set of headphones and she wore them very proudly and stayed entertained. There is no doubt that she was way better behaved on the flight than I was!

We arrived at our hotel to enjoy a great room with a pool and ocean view. Bryan and I stayed at this Marriott property on our honeymoon and it was great to be back, especially after some nice updates and renovations. We rested and cleaned up from our travel day, and then walked the short path to Duke’s for dinner, but not without Madelyn modeling for the camera first.

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Madelyn couldn’t wait to go swimming in Kauai. We had told her that our hotel had a gigantic pool and she was so excited to wear her floatie and swim.

The water was cold in the pool! Bryan went in with her most of the time because I am a wimp when it comes to water temperature. But I was also her partner in vegging, and she very quickly got accustomed to resort life.

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Bryan was also Madelyn’s sand castle partner. He showed her all the techniques and introduced her to proper ratios of water and sand. He taught her how to dump bucket molds properly and about accessorizing castles with sticks and seaweed. I loved watching my little architect become so passionate about sand castles. I was happy to let them have their building bonding time because I don’t like sand in my bits and sitting on the beach means getting stuck on the beach. #pregnantproblems

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We also ventured away from the hotel pool and beach. The great part about visiting Kauai is that it’s small and with a car, it’s super easy to get around to see all sides of the island.

We took a drive to the very end of the road past Hanalei but made stops along the way to see waterfalls, burgers, boobies, and beach.

With two must-have burger joints on the road, we couldn’t go Sophie’s Choice on the meal and decided to have lunch twice; once at Ono Char Burger alongside the resident roosters and a few hours later at Bubba Burgers in Hanalei. Bubba is also next door to a pretty delicious shave ice place, so of course we had to enjoy our first shave ice of the trip. Madelyn had no idea what was coming. Her mind was blown.

Between our burger breaks, we visited Kilauea Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is not that exciting, though it is a pretty structure. The real draw to this stop is the gorgeous views from the tip of the island and the sanctuary of boobies. Boobies are birds. It’s fun to talk about boobies in public and how they fly and swoop. Boobies boobies boobies.

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We finally made it to the end of our drive at Ke’e Beach where the road ends and the Napali Coast takes over with its monstrous, lush jungle mountains.

Madelyn was so thrilled to be at a new beach that she tackled me with love and how could I resist? Bryan had the camera ready and I’m so glad he caught these moments of her love attack. On day three of our trip, she continued to be in the happiest of spirits, never complaining and always appreciating everything we showed her in our beloved Kauai. It was at this moment that I was reminded how lucky we are to be raising Madelyn who is so positive and delightful. She really seems to “get it” and we love that she has the travel bug, too.

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Madelyn took in her new surroundings and ran around the beach before settling into the sand with Bryan for another creation.

Then, we spotted our first rainbow and Madelyn was pretty enamored with the sight. It was one of those perfect rainbows that disappeared as quickly as it came and showed vibrant colors at its pique. I was hoping we’d get to see a famous Hawaiian rainbow on our trip, and this day did not disappoint. This rainbow reappeared over and over again over the course of our hour at the Ke’e Beach.

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We learned the day before at the beach at the hotel that Madelyn does not like going into the ocean. The waves scared her and the endlessness of it seemed to make her nervous. It took a little convincing, but she was finally OK with going in the water at Ke’e Beach because the water was calm and smooth like glass. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to float in the Pacific Ocean with my best girl, so I got over my water temperature snobbiness and we bounced around together, singing and giggling.

After our fingers had turned into raisins, Madelyn relaxed on the beach while Bryan snapped a few belly shots. Apparently we wanted to remember what 28 weeks looks like the second time around. Then Madelyn wanted in so she could give kisses to her little sister. And I melted into a puddle that was bigger than the water we’d just come out of.

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The next day, we spent the day at the hotel pool and beach again to take it easy after our adventure the day before. We met an older woman from Mississippi on the beach who managed to tell me her entire life story and how her granddaddy built her Baptist church and that every Sunday, she and her husband sat in the pews named after her family and she sings the loudest during the hymns. She also blessed me a million times for my pregnancy and upcoming baby. She then kneeled down to Madelyn and gushed about how she reminded her of the angels in her Sunday school class that she teaches.

She followed up her friendly and kind conversation by asking Madelyn if she likes to sing. Madelyn confidently nodded her head. So the lady asked her if she knew the song “Jesus Loves You” and Madelyn stared at her like she had 50 eyeballs on her head. When she didn’t answer, the nice lady gave us her own personal recital and giggled to us that Madelyn must be shy for not singing the lyrics with her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that not only did Madelyn not know the words to “Jesus Loves You,” but that we were also on a family vacation during Hanukkah and that the last song she sang at preschool was about a dreidel. This experience was one of the funniest and most bizarre moments of my life, but this lady was so nice with good intentions.

After she left, we blessed the sand with our own creation: a Madelyn Mermaid. She loved being buried and giggled about her sandy fins.

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That evening, we got cleaned up to go see a Hula show in the same shopping center as one of our favorite restaurants, Roy’s. However, we were in lots of traffic going into Poipu, and we missed the Hula show. I was so sad because I wasn’t sure when else we would be able to go before our trip ended, so we let Madelyn run around to get some of her wiggles out from the long car ride before dinner and her silly antics cheered me up.

We went to the beautiful nearby Hyatt resort to walk around the property and ended up watching a Hawaiian singer in the lounge where Madelyn danced to his music and put on her own little show for us. We also learned we could come back to the Hyatt a few days later to take a Hula class and see a Hula show. I was so glad to have that final option and couldn’t wait to come back!

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We bought a pineapple earlier in the week at a nearby market and it was finally ready to eat, so the next morning, I called for room service to bring up a knife and I performed major surgery on that gem so we could enjoy its juicy island flavor.

Madelyn was so excited to eat real Hawaiian pineapple and she loved watching me slice it up. It was a yummy way to start the day and it sure beat room service.

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With our bellies full of pineapple, we woke up our appetites to grab some delicious Mexican food from a food truck I’d read about. We drove to Koloa Town to try Chalupa’s and it did not disappoint! Our food was delicious and was the perfect lunch before making the long drive to the other end of the island to check out Hanapepe and Waimea Canyon.

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Hanapepe is an old little town and we went to show Madelyn the swinging bridge. We walked across the bridge 6.5 years before when we came to Kauai for our honeymoon, but we thought Madelyn would get a kick out of crossing a river on a suspension bridge. And then walk back. It’s very anticlimactic, but it’s quirky and kitschy and something you’ve just to go do when visiting Kauai.

And it must’ve made some kind of impression on her because every bridge we saw or walked on throughout the rest of the trip, including the bridge over the pool at our resort, was called a Hanapepe Bridge.

Plus, the photo opps were fun!

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After a long and windy drive up to Waimea Canyon, we woke up a sleeping Madelyn to take in the miraculous view of the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. As many times as I’ve seen Waimea Canyon, it’s still a breathtaking sight.

No photo truly does it justice. The ropey red mountains with a cavernous valley below are so powerful to take in. The waterfall gives the perfect dose of Hawaii. The breeze is the only sound over the murmur of amazed visitors who exchange buzzes of conversation for photography trades. We also partook, and thank goodness, because it’s not often we’ll have a family photo with this landscape.

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Back down the windy road, we stopped for a late lunch at the Shrimp Station, which was decorated for the holidays. Madelyn loves shrimp and was totally enchanted by the shrimp on a sleigh in front. Bryan and Madelyn also managed to polish off some shrimp platters, while I cursed the windy road that left me nauseous and totally unhungry. I was sad to miss out on one of my favorite eating experiences that I was excited to return to, but I could not force any shrimp into my upset belly.

I was too much of a wimp… for shrimp. Womp womp.

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We drove back to the hotel and I spent the rest of the late afternoon and evening curled up in a ball, stewing over how mad I was for feeling sick on vacation. We called it an early night and I felt so much better the next day. We relaxed at the pool again and then got dolled up in repeat outfits for our Hula night back at the Hyatt.

Dinner at Puka Dog was quick, but delicious. Kauai travelers will enjoy visiting this simple hot dog shop that’s anything but boring. The dog is wrapped in a cylinder sweet roll and there’s a variety of tropical relishes to use instead of the usuals. This is no ballpark hot dog. And as a picky hot dog eater who has the audacity to hate all condiments except for ketchup, even I like the relishes!

We arrived at the Hyatt for our Hula lesson and we learned a dance and a song. It was super fun and I appreciated learning about storytelling with my hands. Madelyn did a great job following along when she wasn’t being harassed by another little girl who had no interest in watching the teacher and only wanted to play with Madelyn. Poor Madelyn was so torn, loving the attention from a new friend, but also really wanting to Hula dance. She did the best she could and we ended up having a good time before heading down to the lounge to watch the children from a local Hula school perform for hotel guests. Madelyn ate it up. She loved watching little girls not much older than her shake their hips and use beautiful props to dance.

At the end of the night, we enjoyed a family walk and a cuddle on a hammock under the stars. It was a perfect evening and a wonderful memory.

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On our second to last day, we took one more drive north to check out some other beaches with a shave ice stop on the way because shave ice. We enjoyed the beach at Princeville and then found ourselves at Lumahai Beach which is one of our favorites. It’s rarely crowded, easy to get to once you know it’s there, and the waves are fun! They are also huge and I’ve never seen anything like them. On our honeymoon, we went there and I wore a bikini (a bik-what???) and the waves at Lumahai left me without a bikini. So, there’s that. Needless to say, Madelyn took one look at those waves and ran away back toward the car. We promised her she didn’t have to go in, but Bryan enjoyed some thrashing around in the water while we watched.

There’s also a really cool river alongside the bottom of a cliff that feeds into the ocean. It’s super calm and like a wading pool. Madelyn much preferred that atmosphere. She chased floating banana leaves and splashed in the water.

We ended up eating dinner in Hanalei that was just mediocre. We didn’t feel satisfied after, so we did what any hungry people do after they’ve eaten a proper restaurant meal: we got burgers at Bubba’s. Shameless. Who says dessert has to be sweet??

At the end of the night, my depression sunk in that our trip was ending and we’d rest our heads on the pillows of our hotel only one last time. Madelyn loves hotel life. She thinks the little bottles of toiletries are a blast and being roomies with mom and dad couldn’t be cooler. We taught her about hotel etiquette and that we have to be quiet in the hallways since people might be sleeping. We told her this once. From then on, eery time we walked down the hall, she put her finger to her lips and whispered “Ssssss!” (she can’t say her “sh” blend). One morning, a horrible man was talking so loudly on his phone and we could hear him through the door. Good thing I was already awake or I would’ve ripped his ear off with the phone. Madelyn shook her head in disapproval and scolded him from inside our room. Already, such a savvy traveler.

She slept in a sofa bed for a week and did great. Better than great. In fact, every morning, she did something new that she’s never done at home. She would get out of bed when she woke up (sometimes before us), tip toe to the bathroom, pee, come back, and go back to sleep or get dressed and read her books while letting us snooze. She also woke up dry every morning even though she wears Pull-Ups to sleep and essentially nighttime potty trained herself on this trip. What?! I never imagined vacationing with a three-year-old would actually be a vacation for all of us.

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The fastest week was also the best week we’ve had as a family. We had the best time showing Madelyn what we love about one of our favorite places and we loved watching her take it all in. Even a month later, back at home and back at the old routine, Madelyn consistently tells us she loves Hawaii and misses it.

But in typical Madelyn fashion, instead of harping on the vacation she had, she looks toward the future and always says, “Let’s go to Hawaii again, but with Baby Sister when she gets here.”

Sign me up, Big Sis!