December, 2011 Archive

Happy New Year

2011. No big deal. Nothing happened. Nothing changed.

Oh wait, I’m thinking about 2010.

Our 2011 was hah-uge! We had a baby! Our lives changed for, like, EVER, and it’s been the craziest, sweetest, scariest, coolest adventure to date.

I’m scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed (I know, shocker. I’m never on Facebook) (does our blog look good in sarcasm?), and I’m seeing lots of posts related to the exit of 2011. Most people say that 2011 was “meh” and that 2012 will be better; that 2011 didn’t turn out to be anything fabulous and they’re looking forward to what 2012 will bring instead; that 2011 was crappy and here’s hoping for a happier 2012. I’m having Déjà Vu all over again because I swear I saw these same declarations last year when 2011 was the fresh and promising start to goodness after a ho-hum 2010! Wheeee!!

But you know what? It’s just a number. It’s just a year. The good, the bad, and the ugly of life don’t know numbers from letters. They just… happen. We’re not getting all tangled up in the idea of a new number, branding 2011 as a certain adjective and 2012 as an opposite adjective. New Year’s Eve is a marker of time, and a visible chance on the calendar to do your best, hope for best, and plan for best.

Unfortunately, there is no switch to a lighter, brighter year as soon as Seacrest smiles at the camera at midnight. The switch is there all throughout the year, and we get to flip the switch any time we want. Why wait for the ball to drop? Instead, let’s be on the ball!

Our switch flipped on in August of 2011. No confetti. No balloon drop. No champagne. Just two hopeful people and a perfect little girl. A happy new year — a new life — indeed!

The best part about new years, though, is the chance to make a new New Year card! Did you know it’s awfully hard to get a baby, a dog, and a mom to cooperate for the camera? The dad just gets irritated over the whole charade because he manages to look great at every click of the camera. These were the photos and captions that almost made the cut.

Happy New Year from my crib to yours!

Happy New Year! If only this card was a video instead a photograph where you have to hold still for .2 seconds.

Happy New Year from mom and both her chins!

Happy New Year and wishing you lots of focus in the year 20 -- OH LOOK A PARTY BLOWER!

Happy New Year and wishing you good hair days a head. A HEAD. AHEAD. Get it? Eh?

Happy New Yezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Happy New Year and hoping you and your hair don't take flight.

Happy New Year and may you take comfort in your oral fixations.

Happy New Year and be classy as you celebrate! Don't fall asleep on the bottle!

Happy New Year to you and your dog. Wait, where is the dog going?

And after all that, we finally got our act together, so from our family to yours…

  1. Mimi
    12/31/2011 5:42 PM

    I can’t remember laughing this hard over welcoming in a new year. The best part of it is that the source of the laughter is from the 4 of you. You make me smile 365 days a year! I love & cherish Madelyn’s arrival in 2011, and I cannot wait to move into 2012 with her & Princeton (and their parents). Happy 2012! Cheers, Laughs & Love–Mom/Sharon/Mimi

To [Great] Grandmother’s House We Go

by Bryan Friedman in All In The Family, Daddy's Corner

This past week we went to visit my grandma in Sun City. She hadn’t met Madelyn yet because she said she’s too afraid to leave the friendly confines of Sun City Gardens Senior Independent Living. So we went to her. Of course there’s a whole backstory on how at first she told us to come a different day because she had to go shopping for shoes that day…but then ultimately called us back and said we could come that day because her “friend” Sheila knocked some sense into her and told her she had to meet Madelyn. Of course, my grandma also claims she won’t be coming to my sister’s wedding, so it’s all par for the course with her. I don’t think she’s being purposely careless, it’s just part of what I think is a bit of institutionalization that has occurred since she moved into this Senior Living place.

Anyway, we took my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law along with us in our new Honda CR-V for the two-hour trek. We arrived there and spent a long two hours with her. Evidently my Grandma takes living in Sun City literally — I imagine being in her apartment feels similar to what it might feel like if you were actually sitting in the sun. It was hooooooottttt. Madelyn got sweaty and cranky in a hurry, and we pretty much stripped her clothes off before resorting to figuring out how to use the AC (against my grandma’s wishes).

At any rate, I was in full dad/husband/brother/grandson mode, leading the troops through a less-than-fun day for the sake of my grandma and to attempt to create a good memory for her, even if it will only last one day. I kept things going as best I could by either breaking out the albums of the “good old days” (which I actually enjoy seeing) or trying to entertain everybody with Madelyn’s undeniable cuteness. I asked my grandma questions I already knew the answer to, even if she didn’t know the answer or even hear the question. I just tried to maintain some sense of sociality in an otherwise anti-social environment. Of course, thanks to some clever maneuvering by my wife, I also took advantage of an opportunity to get a picture of Madelyn with her only great-grandparent on her dad’s side to still be alive. At least I can share it with her when she’s older and tell her the whole story about the visit and just how much of an old kook her Great Grandma Jeannie was.

The thing is, despite my General Friedman routine, it was a tough day for me. I was watching myself all day, harkening back to the days when my dad would drag his troops (my mom, my sister, and me) to his mother’s house and try to keep everyone entertained for a couple of hours, telling stories, reciting jokes, and just keeping things going. And while my Grandma Jeannie isn’t as sick as my Grandma Ruth was, her age is definitely catching up with her and it’s just pretty tough to be around her. She’s always been a stubborn lady, but with time and the loss of her husband, she’s just about near impossible to deal with. I don’t envy my mom or my aunt.

It was hard enough in the moment to keep things afloat — trying to please a stubborn old woman, a hot cranky baby, a supportive but less-than-patient wife, a slightly bitter sister/granddaughter and her fiance — all the while just hanging in there and trying to keep my emotions more or less in check. But it wasn’t until we were leaving that it all just kind of hit me hard (even though I knew I still had to push it away temporarily so I could face the rest of the day’s events). Ever since my grandpa died, though not often, there are times that I get this overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness. I remember feeling it at times during my engagement, briefly during my wedding, and quite a few times during Alison’s pregnancy. But it hasn’t really hit me as hard as it did after visiting my grandma this last time. I just left there thinking “Man I wish my grandpa were here…” …to keep my grandma in check. …to make a joke about the Dodgers ownership. …to meet Madelyn.

My grandpa died on December 10, 2005. So it was only a few weeks ago that marked the sixth anniversary of his passing. I’m sure this had a pretty profound effect on my grandma, even after all this time. My family has very little patience with her, and I can’t blame them one bit. Like I said before, she’s practically impossible to deal with. And even though I get just as frustrated dealing with her those few times that I have to, it saddens me when I think about the fact that she is one of the only remaining roots of my family tree and the only living link to a time that both fascinates and bewilders me.

Even though those days are pretty much only accessible for me and my generation via old photographs and remnants of anecdotes heard throughout the years, I really do enjoy looking at those pictures with my grandma and hearing her stumble through what and who she thinks is in them. It’s important to me to share that era with Madelyn and pass on the legend of her great-grandparents. I never met my parents’ grandparents, but I’ve heard plenty of goofy stories about them and I want to carry on that tradition — whatever it is. Even though we are often impatient and frustrated with the generation of 80 and 90 year-olds who make up our grandparents, we owe virtually everything to them and their parents who began a legacy that we are now in control of. I know that might sound kind of corny and perhaps it is a bit overstated, but I think there’s something to it.

Anyway, I miss my grandpa a lot and I know he’d have gotten such a kick out of seeing Madelyn reach for everything and shove it in her mouth. He would have asked for a high-five from her and then pretended like her slap really hurt his hand, no matter how hard she went at him (and the fact that she wouldn’t have even understood the joke at four-months old). And regardless of what my grandma says and no matter how she acts, I know she got a kick out of seeing Madelyn too. And I’m glad we went to visit her.

  1. welles
    12/31/2011 10:10 AM

    Damn…gettin’ old really sucks. Facing it right now with our parents, not even wanting to think about life without Jim. Enjoy each day, every day you have together. For one day we too will be sitting alone, difficult to deal with. Keep visiting her. I know she loves it. It’s just too hard for her to face her reality. Her life without her husband. No thanks. I wouldn’t want to face it either.

  2. cousin Gary
    12/31/2011 10:02 AM

    This was a truly a heartfelt and honest piece. I knew Jeannie in the “old days” and, as your mother will coraborate, she was as kantacarous(spelling?)and full of piss and vinegar as she remains today. Time does definitely have a way of both softening and reconstituting what memories we have. The important thing–as you so correctly put–is that each of us appreciate where we came from and are always greatful for the efforts and energies our parents and grandparents put forth in the past and lovingly continue to do so.
    P.S.—-I think you are a great writer–
    never stop

    Cuz Gary

  3. Cathy Reeves
    12/30/2011 9:29 PM


  4. Grandma Ellen
    12/30/2011 3:07 PM

    Me too, Bry. I love you. (And where did you get these pics….from Grandma?)

  5. Aunt Wendy
    12/30/2011 12:43 PM

    What can I say? You made me cry for sure…..

Sweet Suite

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

Don’t think for one second that as soon as we found out we were having a girl, I wasn’t already blueprinting the baby’s nursery in my head! We saw the lady bits on the monitor and BAM! My brain was already deciding what piece of furniture goes on which wall and which shade of paint should be painted on it. It was like wedding planning all over again, but the final product would last more than eight hours and I was making decisions for another person (okay, so the lats part is exactly like wedding planning! Womp womp…).

Bryan and I both agreed we wanted our baby girl’s room to be girly. Modern, unisex, and contemporary styles — although cool — just aren’t our taste. I also didn’t love the idea of a baby-ish themed nursery either. I know, a baby would be living in there, but little, cartoonish duckies or teddy bears or kitty cats around the room just wasn’t my idea of girly sophistication. I dabbled with the shabby chic theme because to me that speaks girly and delicate, but the stores that I’d already registered with didn’t carry any true shabby chic bedding which, to me, is the starting point for nursery decor. Plus, shabby chic patterns, while gorgeous, are usually soft and muted in color and my eye always goes to color (hello, pink and orange wedding colors!). So with shabby chic as a trampoline of inspiration, I began my nursery decor and ended up selecting a lot of pieces from Pottery Barn Kids and Baby, lending the room to become girly sophistication.

Before owning all the pieces, we first had to paint the walls. It took me forever to decide on the colors and Bryan was anxiously waiting for me to make a decision so he could purchase the paints and begin painting his daughter’s room. But I threw a wrench in the plans when I decided to take a personal design risk and choose three colors! Three walls would be painted a soft, buttery yellow and the wall that would house the crib would be accent wall with two shades of pink in stripes. Bryan heard me say stripes and he immediately dialed our inexpensive, but talented painter, Alvaro. A few days later, Alvaro and his team painted the baby’s room and executed the stripes perfectly!

My fabulous baby showers were so much fun and many of our generous friends and family also contributed pieces to the room to complete the nursery. It was fun to tie it all up and complete the finishing touches. I wanted the room to be a space that our daughter would love, but also be a haven for us, her parents. We knew we’d be spending a lot of time in there (hence the purchase of Apple TV next to the mini flat screen), so it was important that it was comfortable, relaxing, and beautiful.

The finished product was complete a couple weeks before Madelyn was born, but I didn’t have a chance to take and share photos until now. Oops. Here’s a little tour of the sweet baby suite!

It took me forever to fall in love with crib bedding. I may as well have made a JDate profile for sheets and gone on dates to be courted by dream bedding because I spent many sleepless nights crying over patterns and colors gone wrong. I did fall in love with an ensemble from Pottery Barn Baby that kept getting back ordered. I was promised a May arrival, then July, then August (cutting it close…) and then September. I was sick and tired of being led on and decided to break up with the bedding that couldn’t make a commitment. Broken hearted, I began the search all over again and found a set that would lift my spirits and help me believe in love again. (Sidenote: I was in PB Baby a few weeks ago, and saw that the original first love was back in stock and showcased in their crib room. I had pangs of nostalgia and for a second, thought about making contact again, but knew the right choice was to remain with my current and forever crib bedding because it treats my baby right, it’s beautiful, and it’s reliable.).

I’m not much of a DIY-er because I don’t have patience or the space to store arts and crafts. However, on rare occasion when I do get crafty and I haven’t drained my creativity in blogging, I really do enjoy being artsy fartsy. The one thing I absolutely wanted to make myself was the baby’s name wall hanging over her crib. I had specific criteria so it was just easier for me to make it instead of purchasing it. I wanted it to be safely hung over the crib so I knew I couldn’t use wooden letters. We live in earthquake country, and I didn’t trust myself to create anything that would be heavy and earthquake-safe, so I knew the letters from Michael’s would be out. I also wanted to be able to control the colors and patterns, and while I found some letters I liked in Anthropologie,, I also didn’t want to spend 20-something dollars a letter. Madelyn is a long name. ‘Nuff said.

So I went to Paper Source to brew some creativity and lo and behold, they had hollow cardboard letters in the most perfect font and beautiful papers with which to decoupage. I made my purchases and as soon as I got home, I got gluin’! I carefully cut and glued papers all around the letters, intertwining some of the patterns across all the letters to create a loose theme. After everything dried, I super glued the backs of the letters to a green polka-dot ribbon, tied bows at the end, and under the bows, I hid tacks to secure to the wall. It was actually a really easy project, super fun to make, and left my wallet in tact. Best part, I’m really proud of how it turned out and love that it’s a centerpiece of the wall.

I fell in love with a shelf at Pottery Barn Kids that I knew would house special trinkets, pictures, and, most importantly, shoes! This shelf would definitely be for more decorative than practical purposes, but I really felt like it helped complete this corner of the room.

On the shelf sits a trinket box that my best friend’s mom made for me when I was a teenager, a musical teddy bear that I loved as a baby (the wind-up is overwound. This makes me sad), beautiful booties that were a gift from one of Madelyn’s Auntie Phis, an owl that brings out the colors in the room and is the other half of a set of bookends, and one of my favorite photos of Madelyn taken by our cousin Sara, which is inside a frame from my mom that coincidentally mimics the striped wall! My own ballet shoes from when I was a toddler hang on the peg as well as other cute shoes and a ballerina outfit from Auntie Pattie.

Instead of buying a whole new wall unit, we decided to use an Ikea bookcase we had from our married-without-kids days. It used to be in the office/guest room, which was the room before it became the nursery (pour a little out for the office/guest room) and it held old college text books, wedding planning documents circa 2008, picture frames, and ashamedly, overall clutter. It was the perfect piece to hold the new baby’s books, stuffed animals, frames, and her our TV.

I thought the baby should also have her own little corner of her own little room (thanks, Rodgers and Hammerstein for the inspiration), so thanks to Auntie Harmony, she has a baby-sized chair that matches the rest of the decor. This chair may look familiar as the monthiversary photo chair! It’s tucked away between the crib and the bookcase and next to a basket of toys, so she has her own special place in the corner. Yes, somebody puts baby in the corner, and it’s me.

Opposite of her bookcase is a wall with another important piece of furniture, the dresser and changing table. I like that it’s placed under a bank of windows so we can enjoy natural light as we change diapers, get dressed, and play. Madelyn loves to play on the changing table and there’s no better time with my girl than nudey time: we sing songs, play with toys, and babble on about the day.

I have all the supplies right next to me on the top of the changing table, and all of the must-have clothes and diapers are in the drawers. On the wall, two shelves from my college days are home to some photos and keepsakes for Madelyn to look at while we change and play.

The changing table shares a wall with a toy chest and a basket of amazing blankets that were gifts, some of them handmade, like the yummy ones by Auntie Alison. I like that this space is light and uncluttered but is home to necessary items.

I spent almost as much time researching upholstered glider chairs as I did going on dates with crib bedding. We went to so many stores and sat in so many beat up floor samples. Starting a relationship with a chair was frustrating and seemed fruitless. No store had exactly what I wanted — the chair’s make and model and with an ottoman — so it was really hard to sample this combination. As a last straw attempt to test drive my dream chair ensemble, I stumbled across Joseph Wahl Arts in Woodland Hills and finally felt I could enter a marriage with my Little Castle Cottage chair and ottoman. I highly recommend this adorable store for babies and kids of all ages and the owner, Joseph, was extremely helpful and nice.

I placed my order and couldn’t wait for the chair to arrive so I could sink into it and pretend to read to my baby (thank you, Princeton, for helping me rehearse before the baby came). I wanted a neutral color so that it could be used in any room of the house when Bryan and I are old and gray and past the child-rearing years. I also didn’t want it to fight with the other colors in the room so as much as I love all the Little Castle swatches and colors, I decided that a neutral sandy color would mesh with the entire space. I also wanted a little table next to the chair so I could set a bottle down or put my own refreshments on a steady surface. I found this little green table at Home Goods and liked that it brought out the desired green for the accent color. Sometimes I just sit in the chair and look around and thank my baby for completing our home.

Bryan and I made a video for Madelyn just a few days before she was born that gave her a tour of her newly designed room. Prepare to see a whale-ish female figure also known as pregnant me. Also, we are overall dorks. Oh, and Bryan intends to pan down on my belly in the beginning, but instead it’s a boob shot. Awesomeness. My favorite part of the whole thing is the nanosecond before it ends where I say, “Please be nice.” Oh Pregnant Alison of August 2011, if only you knew. If only you knew.

  1. Linda
    12/28/2011 3:08 PM

    This is THE. Utest nursery I have EVER seen

  2. Char
    12/28/2011 1:33 PM

    Love the way Madelyn’s room turned out. The glider looks soooo comfortable. I used to go to Joseph Wahl when he had a store iin Thousand Oaks. He has all these great signs that I love. His parents usually have a booth at the Simi Valley Street Fair. Looks like you are getting along just fine being a mommy!

  3. ljr
    12/28/2011 12:31 PM

    No room for miss piggy bank??
    ….i kept her decor in mind… 🙁
    no worries – i guess it was just the timing of this piece..

Mom Confessions

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings

Motherhood has brought about a whole new set of ideals, preferences, and values. I am basically the same person (depending on what you think of me, that’s either a good thing or a bad thing), but I now have thoughts about things that I’d never considered prior to becoming a mommy. Some of these things are embarrassing. But because this is my little corner of the Internet, I’m going to disclose them.

1. I like to pick Madelyn’s boogers from her nose. I try to avoid using the snot-sucker from the hospital because it’s just not as fun as picking the boogers myself. Plus, it doesn’t really fit in her nose that well, so uh, yeah, that’s really why. But the girl has a lot of boogers these days (oh dear, does this mean she’s going to be a mouth breather? Mouth breathers always look confused as they walk through life) and sometimes they just dangle in the wind so I angle my pinkie fingernail and scoop it out. It’s quite satisfying. Go rent a baby and try it if you don’t have a baby of your own.

2. I’ve never been a gambler or a risk taker. I’m comfortable with the predictable things in life and I like being in control of most situations. But there’s something exhilarating about playing “Beat the Pee” when Madelyn is on the changing table. She looooooooves having her diaper changed (what a princess!) and we always have a lot of fun playing and singing and making embarrassing sounds together. I use this opportunity to allow Madelyn airing-out time, but secretly, I enjoy the rush of taking risks, fully knowing she could pee at any second. Sometimes, I lose and she pees before we are done playing, but let me tell you, nothing feels more victorious than getting through a nudey-tushie session without a stream! I love living on the edge.

3. Madelyn is still chowing down on her formula. The doctor said we could start the switch to solids with oatmeal cereal, and we’ll probably give it a go this weekend when Bryan and I can both be home to witness this milestone. This means I have to buy a brand of food. I haven’t had to think about this. In the beginning, the brand of food she got was called Boob Juice, straight from my tap. Then that all stopped (eye roll) and we are now feeding her a very $$ special $$ formula for her milk protein allergy. That’s it. No real decisions necessary. Now there are actually shelves with products from which to choose. And here’s the thing: I don’t think I really care about organic. Gasp. I know. What kind of 20-something mother am I and how do I have the audacity to be a Californian? Good for all the moms who spend the time reading every label and paying the big bucks for the high end food. I just don’t have that kind of dedication. And of course I want the best for my kid, but how much better is organic baby food? I don’t even strictly eat organic! And I certainly didn’t as a baby because, well, the word “organic” didn’t really exist in the era of my childhood. And yes, the cliche “…and I turned out fine!” is the name of the game here. So, I don’t know. I mean, Madelyn will get her nutrients because I really do like yummy and fresh produce, I plan to make her food that is balanced, and I fully understand the dealio with high fructose corn syrup (boo! hiss! See?), but when there’s a dollar difference between mushy peaches in the jar, I’m going with the one that allows Madelyn to still go to college.

4. I’m fascinated by poop. Riddle me this: Madelyn consumes the same liquid all day, every day. Thus far, nothing is ever different about her diet. Why on God’s green (organic?) earth, then, does her poop vary so frequently? One day it’s liquidy. One day it’s solid. One day it’s mossy green. Another day it’s spinach green. Sometimes it’s both greens! (Ooo! That’s exciting! Double whammy!). The same liquid can create so many different results. Eighth wonder of the world.

5. I kiss Madelyn maybe 47,000 times a day. It’s probably borderline harassment how many times I kiss her per day. But I can’t get enough of her fuzzy hair on her head on my lips or her buttery soft cheeks on mine. I just cant. stop. kissing. her. After she sneezes that cute little “A-too! A-too!”, I kiss. After she yawns with that wide mouth and yummy baby breath, I kiss. After she giggles her giggle that sounds better than Mozart, I kiss. Forehead, cheeks, neck, earlobes, mouth, belly — it’s like an addiction. Madelyn has a soft lovey that soothes her and helps her fall asleep or feel comfortable. I think Madelyn is my lovey. Her sweetness soothes me and every time I give her little butterfly kisses all over, I feel calm and happy. Those are some crazy endorphins, man.

  1. K
    12/22/2011 9:48 AM

    Awww. Yeah, sometimes my lips are chapped from kissing F so much. And hugging. Enjoy your baby!

Stupid Soothing

by Alison Friedman in Baby Land, Mommy's Musings

I’ve recently discovered a Pandora station that Madelyn and I both like. It’s a station full of lullabies. Some are classics set to soothing music and others are modern or instrumental. I actually find myself listening to the station by myself sometimes, simply because it’s relaxing and pretty.

Once in a while, though, a song comes on that just baffles my mind. I had never paid attention to lullabies until becoming a mom, but many of them are ridiculous and even just downright wrong. Let’s examine some of them more closely:


Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops, (WTF is a baby doing up in trees?! Whose idea was it to put her there?)
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock, (DUH! Cause and effect. Weather patterns like wind blowing is nothing novel)
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, (Oh shit.)
And down will come baby, cradle and all. (This is extremely upsetting and they don’t even bother to explain what happened to the baby after it fell. Do they just leave her there? Is she on the ground and screaming? Is she near traffic on a highway or is she in a pond near the wilderness? These questions are left unanswered and I seem to be the only one who’s concerned for the child’s welfare.)


Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. If you’re hushing the baby, a mockingbird is only going to make things noisy. Seems counterproductive to me.
And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.DON’T SING, MOCKINGBIRD! FOR THE LOVE OF TIFFANY, DON’T SING!
And if that diamond ring turn brass, Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.That totally sucks. Going from a diamond ring to a mirror? That baby is getting cheated.
And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat. “Broke” and “goat” don’t even rhyme, Papa. Nice try.
And if that billy goat don’t pull, Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull. Are you giving her a garage, too? Most children’s rooms don’t have room for a cart and bull. That’s bull, all right.
And if that cart and bull turn over, Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover. I hope the bull is okay. And can’t we come up with a less cliche name for the dog?
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark. Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and cart. Again, “bark” and “cart” don’t rhyme. And didn’t we already learn our lesson from the cart and bull?
And if that horse and cart fall down, Well you’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town. Whoa, whoa, whoa. This implies that the baby might not have been cute? She needs the reassurance?

I giggle to myself when these tunes come on, but they make Madelyn happy and so I will continue to play the songs over and over again. That baby can keep rocking up in the trees and Papa can buy his kid whatever his heart desires as long as Madelyn smiles and sleeps, sleeps and smiles.