October, 2012 Archive

Dances With Madelyn

This past weekend was my sister’s wedding. Both Alison and I were honored to be in the wedding party as Maid[tron] of Honor and Groomsmen respectively, but the real honor was Madelyn’s as she got to walk down the aisle as the cutest Flower Girl around. Though we had been looking forward to this event for many months, I know Alison and I were also a little bit nervous about how Madelyn would do during the weekend’s festivities. There’s rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, getting ready, photos, ceremony, reception — it’s a lot for a 14-month old to take in, let alone how much her parents would have to take in while taking care of her. Luckily, Madelyn had her own entourage (read: baby wranglers), Mimi and Poppa (Alison’s parents), on the scene to offer all their help, and no doubt we were going to need it. Let’s not forget, Alison was staying overnight with the bridesmaids on Saturday, so although Madelyn’s Mimi and Poppa were there to help during the events, the homefront was now my responsibility for two days.

Everything started on Saturday, the day of the rehearsal and dinner. Though my job as Groomsmen required very little, on this day I did have a few very important responsibilities as Husband-of-the-Maid[tron]-of-Honor and Father-of-the-Flower-Girl. I had to ensure Madelyn got a good morning nap, show up on time (read: early) to the rehearsal with Madelyn and everything we would need for her (and us) in tow, cooperate with the coordinator during the rehearsal while helping Madelyn’s entourage take care of her and watching Alison run around doing her duties as Maid[tron] of Honor, take Madelyn home for a quick nap before getting her (and me) ready for the rehearsal *dinner* where I would still need to show up on time (early) with her and everything we would need, including the ” target=”_new”>tribute video I made for my sister and her now husband. Breathe, Bryan, breathe.

On the surface, this day didn’t need to be stressful, and I can honestly say it really wasn’t. Alison, being the super mom and savvy wedding professional that she is, laid everything out for me on the homefront and made sure I was prepped for success, as any good manager will do. I managed to succeed in all of my duties, except Madelyn didn’t quite cooperate on the napping front. A little bit here and a little bit there, but not the solid naps I was hoping for. So of course, she was an absolute mess at the rehearsal, crying and screaming her way down the aisle until we shoved the bottle in her mouth during round two so her cousin Abby could carry her down the aisle.

But after a change of scenery, she was a total trooper at the rehearsal dinner, even with the food coming out late, lots of unfamiliar faces, and one tired little toddler. She made it through the whole night and finally expired around 9:30pm when she just couldn’t be “on” anymore and started her “put-me-to-bed-right-now-daddy-or-I’m-seriously-going-to-lose-it-even-more-than-I’m-losing-it-right-now” cry. So I took her home, put her to bed, and readied myself for the next day, which would be similar to this day but on a much grander scale. More to bring with me, more time away from naps, more pressure to perform.

Thankfully, Madelyn is a total rock star. I was somehow able to bring everything we needed for myself and for Madelyn, show up early, get ready with the guys, help Alison get Madelyn ready, take pictures, hang out with everybody, walk down the aisle, greet everyone, take care of Madelyn, and have a ton of fun all at the same time, or at least in sequence.

In all my 14 months of being a father, I have to say, I have never enjoyed being Madelyn’s dad as much I did from the time the reception started to the time she was completely conked out in her stroller as the band played their last few numbers. It was so amazing to witness her taking it all in. I literally got to experience the wedding through her eyes as I focused so much of my time and energy making sure she had a fun time. At the dinner table she sat with me, eating off of my plate and gobbling up the sliced fruit I prepared for her earlier that day (thanks to Mommy’s preparation list). On the dance floor she danced with me, both in my arms and on the dance floor.

Aside from my sister, the beautiful bride, I’m pretty sure Madelyn was the next most watched girl in the room, as people were fascinated by her dancing. I’m thinking of patenting her go to dance move — the slight knee-bending bounce while sticking the arms just a little bit outward, every so often just taking a tumble and then getting back up to do it again. It’s “The Madelyn,” and it’s taking over for the Macarena and the Cupid Shuffle.

Between dancing with my daughter and the incredible band, I literally have never had so much fun at a wedding. I would say, to date, it was my most rewarding night as a father. And it was a pretty rewarding night for me as a husband too — those times where Mimi and Poppa or Grandma and Grandpa would watch Madelyn for a few precious moments so Alison and I could share some wedding party time alone together. Is there anything that makes you feel the love more than a freaking wedding?!?

Looking back on it, I really had such a great weekend because I got to enjoy playing all the different roles of my life — a dad, a husband, a son, a brother, a groomsman, a family member, a friend … and a wedding guest. After hearing the truly heartfelt and touching vows from my sister and her husband, I can honestly say I’m so, so happy for them that they each found the one they love to spend the rest of their life with. I found my own “one” seven years ago and could never have imagined a weekend like the one we just shared together, with our daughter, and so many people who love us. It’s always nice to get a reminder of how lucky I am and what a great life my wife and I have built together.

Congratulations Alison and Michael, and thanks for an amazing party!

  1. Mom/Grandma
    10/20/2012 11:45 PM

    You are amazing, Bryan! It was certainly a fun, memorable evening, and I will perform “The Madelyn” at every wedding I attend in the future. Thanks for everything last weekend!! I love you!

It’s the Little Things

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings

Before Madelyn, simple pleasures were just that. Manis and pedis were scheduled without any regard to anyone’s schedule other than my own. A massage was definitely a treat, but never an inconvenience. Even going to get my hair done was nice, simply because it meant I didn’t have to take the time (because, ya know, I had, omg, NO time back when I was un-mommyfied) to blow out my curls myself.

I’ve managed to make “me” time since Madelyn came into my life, and I’ll admit I’ve probably had more “me” time than most other moms. I’m lucky to have two sets of amazing grandparents close by and a husband who runs a great Daddy Daycare should I need to schedule some fancies after he gets home from work. I am not “woe is me-ing” that I never get time to relax and focus on me because I get to, and I appreciate my support system every day.

Because it takes a little more work to make these luxuries happen, I savor them so! Recently, I’ve started an addiction to blow out salons for a quick, relaxing, and fairly cheap solution to the rat’s nest that is my hair. I have curly hair, but the curls have changed and don’t look as bouncy as they once did. And when I blow out my hair myself, I end up frying it and it doesn’t hold up past a day. There’s just nothing like a professional blow out and more importantly, it’s nice to enjoy a blow out that has nothing to do with an altercation between one of Madelyn’s diapers and a onesie.

Spa time and a good hair day. Happy mama.

Thirty-five dollars later, most women will probably agree that it’s a challenge and a goal to “keep” the salon hair as long as possible. I’m not saying I go all Nell-girl-of-the-forest and run around like a greasy banshee for weeks after a trip to the blow dry salon. But, I’m not washing my hair the next day. No, ma’am. Having naturally curly hair means I also don’t need/should not wash my hair on a daily basis and can go a handful of days without shampooing. That’s one plus to my hair type. So, you can imagine, after a good five-day run during which I superficially feel confident and a little prettier, it saddens me to get my hair wet, shampoo, and start from scratch.

This is why, then, that I savor my hair and don’t want anything to ruin it. If the skies were to open up, I’d probably do anything to avoid rain ruining my sleek and straight locks. This is also one of the reasons why I’ve hated exercising. I’m a beast when I work out, and sweat is a good hair day’s worst enemy. Oh, and I also don’t really like working out.

I’ve been reluctantly doing it since January. I gained 35 pounds with my pregnancy, which isn’t an extreme amount, but with my figure and height, I definitely looked a little, um, swollen. With a c-section, things kind of changed places, direction, and shape, and I was not happy about my non-existent future as a swimsuit model (because, ya know, I was bursting off covers of Maxim before I had a baby…). With a c-section in August and complications until November, I wasn’t ready to start taking control of my body until January. I started boot camp and paying close attention to my diet, so I began noticing a positive difference shortly after.

It takes a lot to get me to boot camp every morning. I go to a class that starts at 6:45 a.m. so that Bryan is still home while Madelyn sleeps. My alarm goes off three times between 6:00 and 6:30 and thankfully I only live six minutes away from the facility. With each buzz and bell of the alarm, I curse the Skinny Gods for making me get up so early, especially after long days with a toddler. But I do it. And I hate it. And on the days when my hair looks good, I hate it even more.

I’ve lost weight. Not as much as I’d like the scale to say and not even as much as I think I should have considering the way my clothes fit. But, I know I’ve also built muscle and I feel stronger and healthier, so that counts. I don’t pay too much attention to the number on the scale, but I feel better knowing it’s in the right direction.

Some mornings I skip class. I just can’t make it. Either I was up late the night before or I know I have an appointment at 9:00 and there’s not enough time to get cleaned up, conduct Madelyn’s morning routine, and get out of the house. Those days I don’t go, I love that I get to sleep in, but I don’t love the way I feel the rest of the day: sluggish, fat, and hungry. But, hey, at least I have great hair.

I give myself props for exercising at all and especially for going so early. I was never athletic and I never enjoyed working out. I still actually feel the same way, but I see that I have no choice if I want to be healthy for my baby and have some MILF-inspired confidence. So when I do make it to boot camp, which is usually four days a week, I pat myself on the back and make the most of my time and my abilities while I’m there.

So here’s the thing. I’ve been getting in trouble for being late and I am not putting up with being treated like a child. I am an adult woman, a mom, and I’m making a huge effort to be there considering the schedule I maintain with a toddler and, let’s face it, hair that does not tolerate sweat. Showing up at 6:50 instead of 6:45 is, in my opinion, better than nothing. How I choose to spend my boot camp time should be my choice. It is, after all, “me” time and even though I don’t like it nearly as much as I like my massages or blow out appointments, for a workout program, I like it enough (which isn’t saying much since I hate working out, but it’s the only exercise regimen I’ve ever followed longer than two weeks!).

Today I was late and completely lost it when the trainer gave me a hard time. If there’s one thing being a mom has taught me, it’s how to stand up for myself and my family. Even though Madelyn wasn’t with me, Mama Bear came out to party! No, I will not do 100 burpees for being late. No, I will not be scolded in front of the class for being late. I really actually like the trainer and after I get over my wake-up at the ungodly hour and the fact that I’m T-5 minutes away from looking like sweaty crap, I really actually have fun when I’m there. Sometimes, though, things happen! In a household such as mine with a toddler, chaos shows up at all times of the day. Madelyn being up late makes me tardy for boot camp the next morning. My contact lenses not going in my eyeballs that don’t want to open at 6:30 a.m. make me late for boot camp. My car keys that somehow fell out of my diaper bag and are nowhere to be found make arriving at boot camp on time impossible. But I solve my problems, and I get there.

This morning, my two friends, also moms, reassured me there’s no way the trainer can understand what being a mom is like and how much it takes to get up and go work out. I put so much on the line to create this less-than-pleasurable-but-necessary “me” time in the morning. Since I began boot camp in January, the trainer has become a friend, but like so many friends who are not mothers, it’s impossible to know a mother’s life without walking in her shoes. After the honest, heated exchange between the trainer and me where I told him I won’t be picked on because he can’t understand what I go through just to make it to boot camp at all, I was able to continue my workout with even more gusto and power thanks to the support from the other moms next to me. That’s the special bond that moms have. They get it.

I think it’s important that moms take time to see the value in all they do. We put pressure on ourselves; we feel like we’re being judged by others; we constantly run out of time because there are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done. And even though the same load of laundry gets rewashed sometimes, I am doing my best to keep myself in line. Those manicures I schedule, the blow outs I love so much, and those workouts I loathe with every jiggle of my belly where my baby used to live — they are making me a happier mom and person, and happiness should come first at any time of day.

THIS is what happy time looks like.

  1. 11/9/2012 11:18 PM

    Oh Alison. I always love everything you write, but I’m not sure I’ve ever empathized with anything as much as I do this! Instead of boot camp, I do stroller strides, but for someone who hates working out (!), getting sweaty (!!), and therefore setting the stage to take what would’ve otherwise been an unnecessary shower (!!!), I TOTALLY get it. Also, it’s an early morning class and I HATE being cold, especially if it involves moving my body in an organized fashion while freezing.

    I’m sooo glad you stood up for yourself to your instructor. I get they he has a job to do, but he has NO clue the prep that goes in (physical and mental) to be in that class every morning. I applaud you! Sisters are doing it for themselves!!!



These Shoes Were Made For Walking

by Alison Friedman in Baby Land, Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Madelyn started taking her first steps right around 11 months. She teased us with three or so steps at a time and then would crawl. Perhaps once a day she’d walk a few paces, but nothing seemed to stick. Then, she gave up all together. I swore I’d have a walker at her first birthday party, but by 12 months, she was boycotting walking.

Sometime between 12 and 13 months, she decided she wanted to give walking another go. She spiced things up and kept us on her toes — would she walk? Would she crawl? She did both. And soon, her confidence grew and she was walking more and more. But still, I couldn’t trust her to walk and she was so close, I wished she’d just pick Team Walking already. I was ready to have a blue tooth baby — a baby that allowed me to be hands-free. Setting her down and letting her roam was so close to being an option, but still not an option. I put her in shoes that people had gifted us, but I was realizing that these shoes were not helping her feel the ground beneath her and maybe she’d finally commit to walking if she had proper cheerleaders on her tootsies.

I knew absolutely nothing about toddler shoes so I took her to Nordstrom to get fitted and an education. They were so wonderful there!! I highly recommend taking kiddos to Nordstrom for their first proper shoe fitting and purchasing experience.

We learned that Madelyn is a size 4.5 and that she needed a soft sole shoe. Then, it was just a matter of choosing a pair based on those stats. I went with a pair of Stride Rite Mary Jane tennis shoes in silver. There were so many adorable options, but I thought it would be best to pick a color and style that could be worn with anything.

As soon as I Velcro-ed the shoes on her feet, she only stumbled like Bambi learning to walk for a few steps and then just took off! It’s almost as if these shoes had magical wings that made her fly across the Nordstrom floor.

Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! I’m freeeeeeeeee!!!!!

She had more freedom than Aretha Franklin.

Madelyn put on quite a show. As she ran down the tile floors between the children’s shoes and clothing departments, she curated an audience who thought she was just a crack up with her jolly squeal and Flo Jo sprint. The few times she misstepped and took a tumble, she giggled the fall right off. The shoes definitely gave her the confidence and foot pillows she needed to walk properly.

Then she went around the department playing Shoe Sales Person. She’d pick up other shoes and hand them to my mom or me or strangers she didn’t know. It’s like she couldn’t get enough shoes! Should I be scared that I’ve created a mini Imelda Marcos?

It is I, Madelyn Friedman, the Wonderful Wizard of Shooz!

And then the whole thing got really tiring and she decided to revert back to being a baby. Apparently, being a walking toddler is just. too. hard.

You think your life is so bad? Trying walking in some other toddler’s shoes!

Just when you think your kid is all grown up and ready to help pay the mortgage, she also reaches in her mom’s diaper bag for her own lovey because nothing says “I’m a big girl in my new big girl shoes at Nodstrom” than walking around with a bottle in your mouth and a pink poodle-blanket dangling from your hand.

Shoe shopping is exhausting!

At the end of our shopping spree, our super helpful shoe sales woman gave Madelyn a pink Nordstrom balloon and took an adorable Polaroid photo in a souvenir frame! What a great way to impress an already-kvelling mom!

I had to snap a few photos with my big girl. We had such a fun day shopping for her first pair of shoes, and Madelyn continues to wear them non-stop! They’re magical, I tell you!

  1. donna
    10/11/2012 6:00 PM

    adorable-thanks for sharing. I love nordy’s!

  2. 10/11/2012 8:34 AM

    Love this story! Shoes do give kids the confidence! We love stride rite and only buy these brands. 🙂 They’re great on the feet! Thank goodness there’s a stride rite outlet right now the street from me in Camarillo. We should go shoe shopping together! My 17 month old has about 10 pairs of shoes. Oops. haha…