March, 2013 Archive

Life Is Grand

by Alison Friedman in All In The Family, Mommy's Musings

You know, I rarely talk about serious stuff on here. There was that time, and this time, and that time, but I rarely do serious. I’m not good at serious. I’m better at funny. In fact, there are many times that I turn serious things into funny, like this, for example, and that’s just the way I deal.

So, here I am faced with serious — not a common occurrence in my life, since I like to surround myself with uplifting and light people and situations — and this time, I don’t think there’s much room for joking around. My grandpa, Jules, my mom’s dad, is currently seeing the sun set on his life. Well, he’s not seeing much of it, but we all are. I am lucky enough to not have really seen the face of death in my own life. The only prominent death I’ve experienced is my Poppa’s, my dad’s dad, and I was 17 and not really prepared for what his decline meant. Since then, I’ve felt guilty that I didn’t spend enough time with him, that I didn’t appreciate what I had, that I should have visited more at the end. We were close and I adored him. We had lots of fun together, but at 17, so many other things were going on with my life as a high school senior, that I don’t think I understood the severity of his health status and the imminence of death, and instead, I went through the motions with the rest of my family without really being deeply affected. Of course, now I am affected and I wish I could hear his voice again and joke around with him (I’d like to think I have his sense of humor. I think he’d find me funny today).

So, as with all things in life, we take previous experiences and learn from them. Now that I’m faced with my last grandfather’s final days, I am choosing to reflect on our almost 30 years together and be present by his side and, where it matters most, by the side of my immediate family. It’s not out of obligation, but a greater sense of family and value for my roots.

I’ve been lucky to know all four of my grandparents. And after my Grandpa goes, I will still have two very wonderful grandmothers. I grew up within 20 minutes of both sets, and my positive experiences with my grandparents is the reason why we choose to stay close to both of Madelyn’s sets of grandparents.

I am in awe, more than anything, that in 2011, Madelyn was born into a family of THREE great-grandmothers and one great-grandfather! Madelyn got to meet every one of them and Bryan even explained his very similar feelings when Madelyn met his then-only living grandparent when she was four months old. He wrote about it in December of 2011, and Grandma Jeannie passed away three months later. Her yarzheit, the anniversary of her death, was actually this week, and we are going to temple tonight to commemorate it.

Knowing that my Grandpa’s life will most likely be over in a matter of days, if not less, as projected by the wonderful and compassionate Hospice nurse, Madelyn will be losing another great-grandparent before her second birthday. I am just so grateful that she got to know my Grandpa, her Grandy, and even though he’s been fairly ill for all of her life (Alzheimer’s is a mean and nasty disease), I know he enjoyed spending time with her. Even when he asked how old she was 17 times in a single visit, he smiled wider than when he wasn’t with her. He always talked about how beautiful she is, how cute she is. He stared at her with true contentment on his face. We might have walked out the door and those moments never happened in his memory, but they definitely left their mark in our togetherness.

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He’s 92. He hasn’t lived a short life. With three daughters and three sons-in-law, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, the youngest being Madelyn, he has seen the world and then some. And even though my most recent visit with him on Monday showed a dying man, to me, he looked like a well-lived man. He didn’t speak much — he can’t — and I really don’t even know if he knew my mom and I were there, but when he woke up for minutes from his frequent snoozes, he reached out for our hands and even had the strength to squeeze them lightly. He was cold, but I felt warmth. He was quiet, but he spoke love.

I don’t think that when he told me stories in his house or took me to my Girl Scouts square dance in first grade that I would have ever imagined I wouldn’t have my Grandpa at any point in my life. I’m sad that his time is coming to a close, but it’s a strange thing because it’s concurrently difficult and comforting. I’m just so glad that he’s been part of my life for so long, that he walked down the aisle at my wedding, adored Bryan like his own grandson, and his eyes twinkled for Madelyn.

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When he’s finally gone, I will miss him, but I will be proud to take on the responsibility of talking about him and keeping him in everyone’s memory. Madelyn will know about him because we will talk about him. We will tell funny stories about him and even joke about how he chews everything — even Jell-o — for five minutes on both sides of his mouth. We will also talk about his generosity toward everyone and his well-dressed, dapper appearance. I even remember him charming all my friends in high school with a wink — always the flirt, in that cute old Grandpa way.

Life is short. This isn’t news to any of us. We always say this when something bad happens or when someone dies. My Grandpa will leave a legacy, though, not just in the people left behind, but as a reminder to me to be like him: thoughtful, kind, and loving. I think back on 30 years, and instead of taking him for granted, I know that he’s made life — his and mine — grand.

  1. fred goldstein
    3/31/2013 8:21 AM

    A truly moving and loving tribute to my favoite Uncle. The chewing part gave me a chuckle as that is what I always teased him about when I ate Chines food at your house every other Sunday. I only have the most wonderful. loving memories of all of your family. Your Mom and Dad always made everyone around them feel speicial and loved. I will take all of my memories and smile every time I think of that wink.
    Love
    Cousin Fred

  2. donna
    3/29/2013 6:52 PM

    Beautiful.. R.I.P. Grandpa.

  3. Kathleen McKinley
    3/29/2013 4:41 PM

    That was beautiful Alison. Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry for the impending loss of your grandfather but you are right…..he will live on in your heart and your memories!

  4. Lisa Stanton
    3/29/2013 12:59 PM

    Allison,

    This made me bawl, what a beautiful and touching post. I lost both my maternal grandparents while pregnant with the boys and I am still so sad they never got to meet them. My last living grandparent (Bubbie) is also declining in health and it is such a difficult time. You were lucky to have had such wonderful times with him.

    Sending Love,

    Lisa (Jeff too!)

  5. 3/29/2013 12:04 PM

    what a beautiful tribute. He sounds like a wonderful man. Wishing you and your family much peace and love in these tough weeks ahead.

  6. Rachel
    3/29/2013 10:55 AM

    Ali, this is such a sweet post. It very much pulled my heart strings. This past summer I lost my paternal grandfather. He was my first grandparent to pass away. The only thing that got me through it was that he passed away with a loving family surrounding him, and knowing that he had THREE great-grandchildren on the way, including Abigail. His birthday was this month, just like Abigail’s and I can’t help but hope there is some bigger meaning in the universe that he passed away knowing about her, but never getting to meet her. I wish you strength in these upcoming days.

Announcing That Madelyn Is Going To Be…

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings, Pregnancy

An only child for a while longer!

Hold your horses, people, with campaigning down our throats for continued procreation! We love procreating and we even think we’re pretty good at it, but once Madelyn’s one-year mark passed, people have been inquiring about the status of my uterus on a weekly basis.

Here’s the thing: I loved being pregnant (weird, I know) and I love being a mommy. I think it’s what I was, like, MADE to do. Seriously, if I wasn’t a mom, I’d be totally pointless as a human being. But that doesn’t mean I have to go all Octomom within 20 months of starting a family and have an entire crew team by the time I’m 30 (holy crap that’s in less than three months) (also, us breeding a crew team — haha, that’s funny). No really, having one is a lot and even if we were going to stop at one, there’s nothing wrong with that. Watch as I sparkle on my only child pedestal.

One more finger over and Madelyn would be telling us her thoughts on the subject.

One more finger over and Madelyn would be telling us her thoughts on the subject.

But we will have more. I mean, that’s the plan, anyway. We plan to have another kid so we can fill out an entire booth at Claim Jumper and also because the grandparents will want at least another rugrat to spoil. And Princeton needs another tormentor human sibling to love because he’s already so good with Madelyn. It’s in the Friedman Family Agenda, but you know what, we’re still in homeroom and another kid isn’t until, like, after school.

I feel like we’ve gotten our whole routine down with Madelyn and it’s great. Things are really perfect right now and I don’t want to do anything to change it up. Plus, she’s almost two, so basically, she’s a ticking time bomb at all hours of the day, and even though she’s an overall terrific kid, she’s still work. And I’m more of the slacker and lazy type of adult, staying true to my child-of-the-early-90s stereotype, and I can’t be bothered with more work than I’m already doing.

Does this look like the face of a child who would like an order of less attention with a side of shared fries?

Does this look like the face of a child who would like an order of less attention with a side of shared fries?

Also, Bryan’s already received the ransom note, so this isn’t a surprise to him, but I’m holding my uterus hostage until we land a bigger house. I know, I know, I sound like a brat because people make it work with, like, a shoebox and a dishtowel, but those people are brave and I’m not brave. I’m everything but brave. I’m a big, whiny wimp and I am not envisioning my Happy Little Family of Four in our 2-bedroom condo. It’s a great condo. It has two big bedrooms. There’s a nice living space and a darling kitchen. We are busting at the seams, and there’s no way I’m going to volunteer to trip on double the toys and jumpy things and Little People characters in the same small quarters. We need a yard. We need more bedrooms. And so I told Bryan as we were outlining our golden years because, yes, we are already senior citizens, that I will give him my uterus if he will give me a house. It is such a fair deal, you guys. So, we’re working on that. I just need all those rich aholes who are buying the houses we keep bidding on to stop paying with all cash and making us look like paupers. It’s not fair and they’re acting like human birth control. Go buy houses in less desirable areas and the rest of you who live between Oak Park and Newbury Park all need to put your 4-bedroom/3-bathroom house up for sale so I can buy it. Thanks. (oh, and if your kitchen is remodeled, you get Friedman 2.0 naming rights). (stainless steel appliances and a built-in island get you middle AND first name).

And — cheeseball alert — I can’t imagine loving another child right now. There’s just no more room in my big, squishy heart for a tiny, baby person. I married Bryan and he took up a lot of that heart. Then we adopted Princeton and he filled in the rest. And then Madelyn came and she made it expand like a balloon and all the veins and arteries started overflowing with insane amounts of heart juice and now my love for her is out of control. So how can I possibly give all my love and attention and pride to a mini-Madelyn? I know it works and so many of my friends have more than one kid and they don’t even play favorites and they say they actually love both their kids. People have been having more than one kid for, ya know, forever so obviously it’s possible and I will love Madelyn’s sibling (hi, if you’re reading this in 10 years. I love you, I do. This was written before you came, ok? Are we cool? Are you going to grow up and have “Mommy Issues?” Did I ruin you with this blog post?), but at this time, while Madelyn is only 19 months old, I am not ready to share my love with more than one child. That’s probably good that I realized that so I don’t go all Cinderella’s Stepmom on #2’s ass.

And it works in reverse, too. I want Madelyn to be old enough to be able to know how to love another child who lives with her and who will be bonded to her forever. She is so obsessed with Mama and Dada right now (and who could blame her?) that I don’t think she could even handle someone new in her world. I want her to be excited and involved in a sibling when the time comes, so we will wait until she’s older. I still have some mating years left in me and I don’t think I’m being sent out to pasture quite yet, so if we can all just be a little patient while we give Madelyn some more time to cook as the center of our universe, my reproductive system will thank you.

This is my actual reproductive system thanking you... and wearing Louboutins, no less.

This is my actual reproductive system thanking you… and wearing Louboutins, no less.

In a world where we live and breathe the news of Facebook and track everyone’s prenatal month and make vegetable comparisons, we are all very involved in each others’ lives. The questions I get about our next pregnancy all come from a good and supportive place, and for that I am grateful. So, to answer your question, yes we are thinking about #2 and we think it’s going to be a little while longer. But #2, we know you’ll be worth the wait!

Visiting My Old Chomping Grounds

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

And the circle of life continues. I took Madelyn to my childhood dentist for her first check-up and it was a total trip to be back at the office I visited twice a year until I was in my teens. It seemed much smaller and less clinical, and I’m sure nothing’s actually changed except my own size.

As soon as we walked in, the friendly receptionist greeted us and it was so nice to be reunited! She totally remembered me and gushed over meeting Madelyn. Madelyn, though, had no interest in salutations and bee-lined her way toward the play kitchen. Guess we know what she needs for her 2nd birthday. She whipped up a whole smorgasbord until it was time to go back for the real appointment.

Madelyn takes in the kid-friendly surroundings in the waiting room.

Madelyn takes in the kid-friendly surroundings in the waiting room.

Chef Madelyn competes on "Chopped," or, as known in the dentist's office, "Chomped."

Chef Madelyn competes on “Chopped,” or, as known in the dentist’s office, “Chomped.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the hygienist took us back to a consult room which is where we would stay. These peek-a-boo visits, as they call them, don’t require the hard core bells and whistles of the dentist chair and all the mechanics. In fact, Madelyn had little to do with the appointment until the end.

We sat in what was essentially a toy room while Madelyn kept herself busy with a giant Elmo that served as a speaking chair. The hygienist asked me questions about our teeth brushing routine and foods that she eats. Based on my answers, we passed with flying colors with accolades for using straw cups instead of sippy cups, avoiding juice and sticky foods and candies, and brushing at least once a day with a regular routine. This mama still has never had a cavity, so I intend to make sure Madelyn goes through life the same way!

Then the dentist made her grand entrance and even though the practice that she started has expanded to additional offices and a rotation of dentists, I was so glad that we would be seeing her and that she’d get to meet Madelyn’s teeth, too! Then it was time for the actual check-up so we sat Madelyn on my lap facing me and then leaned her back onto the dentist’s lap. This is when Madelyn, who’d been so happy and cooperative the whole time, wailed like Elmo’s life depended on it. At first I tried to console and shush her, but the dentist actually said it’s a good thing: her open, screaming mouth made it easier to see all of her teeth! I like dental logic.

So while Madelyn screamed, the dentist examined and cleaned her teeth. It was all over in minutes, and we sat Pissed-Off Madelyn back up and Cheerful Madelyn returned. It may have had something to do with the toy and Elmo sticker she immediately received from the hygienist, but she happily jumped off my lap and continued playing, with her sparkly, pearly whites shining through her smile.

Madelyn gets tortured, I mean, examined, by the dentist.

Madelyn gets tortured, I mean, examined, by the dentist.

The moment finally came that would put my mind at ease: the dentist has a grading scale of 1 through 5 for the quality of brushing, with 1 being the best. My whole life, I received ones every time except one instance when I got a two and nearly had a meltdown about it. If you get ten 1-scores, you get a ticket to Disneyland! If that’s not incentive to brush, brush, brush, I don’t know what is! So, naturally, as a child who was obsessed with earning ones, I was curious to know if Madelyn would start her collection at this early age and sure enough, her 1-streak began! “Proud mama” doesn’t say enough about how I felt! I know, I am totally neurotic, but there could be worse things I obsess over, right?

After our exam was over, we schmoozed in the hallway with the friendly receptionist and other hygienists who were having fun playing with Madelyn. They brought out the treasure box so Madelyn could pick out more toys and she chose, no surprise, a duck, her favorite animal to date.

The office staff treats Madelyn like a princess!

The office staff treats Madelyn like a princess!

The receptionist introduced me to everyone, saying that I am alumni of the office, and we all joked about how different it is to be there as a grown up! They told me that they’re starting to see a lot of their former patients come back to bring their kids.

It’s times like these that I’m glad I chose to stay in the area and raise Madelyn in my home town. Most kids don’t like going to the dentist, but I guess I was a weird kid and I always did. I hope to instill that same appreciation in Madelyn, and replicating these parts of my own childhood make me so happy.

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It’s A World of Laughter AND a World of Tears

Last month, we took Madelyn to Disneyland. We actually went on Super Bowl Sunday because I’d always heard that most Americans prefer to stay home and eat Buffalo wings and watch commercials than visit Disneyland to eat churros and watch people act like animals. So, that was the rumor and rumor it was. The crowd wasn’t significantly better or worse than a regular weekend day at Disneyland. It was just a weekend day at Disneyland. We certainly didn’t have the park to ourselves, but we didn’t mind because we were stoked to see Disneyland through the eyes of our 18-month-old.

Those eyes that our 18-month-old saw Disneyland through were mostly filled with tears the entire first half of the day. Fantastic. We had just spent two months of car payments on annual Disneyland passes because of COURSE our child will love love love Disneyland and we will go every week and she will be obsessed with princesses and she will want to cuddle with Minnie and we will role play in the coming months where Madelyn plays Snow White and Bryan plays the prince and I will, of course, play the evil queen (oh wait, that’s when Madelyn’s a teenager) and everything will be omgamazing! But no. You know what I learned? Toddlers don’t like to wait, and unfortunately, waiting is the name of the game at Disneyland.

After waiting 30 minutes just to get on the parking lot tram (first ride of the day?), Madelyn was done! After all, she’d been woken up early for a 50-minute drive in the car to arrive at a hyped up destination just to… wait? I don’t blame her.

But once we were moving, she was fine.

Then we stopped in the line where all the Disneyland CIA checked our bags to make sure we weren’t terrorists. (Heh, little did they know the most wanted terrorist was in our stroller). During this wait, she was not fine.

Then we passed the test and went to the ticket kiosk and for those 20 seconds of strolling, she was fine. As soon as we promised Disneyland our second born paid for our annual passes, we waited in another line to enter. But while we waited in line to enter, she was not fine.

The chirp-chirp noise signaled our tickets were legit and could pass through the gate. We were welcomed with a marching band in front of the Main Street train station and the Disney magic trickled through me. I KNEW Madelyn would feel the vibe too, which is why we stopped on Main Street to take her first photo with a Disney character!

Madelyn LOVES ducks and any time she sees a duck, she points and shouts “DUCK!” (but without the “ck” so it’s really more like she’s condescending and saying “DUH!”), so naturally she would be delighted to take a picture with Donald Duck.

No. No she was not.

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She was not fine. I’m pretty sure the girl inside Donald quit her job after dealing with that nonsense.

We decided to carry on and push forward to get to Fantasy Land because what kid doesn’t like fairytale chalet architecture and 30-second real rides based on 90-minute animated movies? But first, we had to stop at the castle to take our first castle photo! Surely, Madelyn would love standing in front of a castle!

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Isn’t that a face of a girl who’s just having a ball?

Nanoseconds after this photo, I almost needed rhinoplasty thanks to her fist. That would not have been fine.

Okay, so raincheck on a happy castle picture, but rides are next! Rides are so fun! It’s like sitting in the stroller but with adorable moving characters all around!

We stood in line for 30 minutes to ride Peter Pan. (well, no one got to RIDE Peter Pan. This is a family amusement park and Peter Pan is a man child). Thirty minutes when you’re a grown up is not that long for a ride that’s normally about an hour-long wait. However, thirty minutes when you’re 18 months old and it’s 2893749871 degrees outside and you’re packed inside a maze with human rats is torture. Also, it’s torture for grown ups carrying a squirmy 18-month-old in 2893749871 degrees outside and you’re packed inside a maze with human rats. This was before we mastered the one-parent-waits-outside-the-line-with-the-toddler-while-the-other-parent-waits-in-the-real-line-and-then-join-together-at-the-front tactic that we, eureka!, discovered later in the day. Rookies.

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We finally got to the front of the line, hopped into our flying pirate ship, and floated away. “She’ll be fine,” I thought. And for about 10 seconds over London, she was. But then she wasn’t. And she cried and cried and cried, and Bryan and I just laughed. What can you do when you’re flying through the air on a track in the dark and you’re looking at glow light crocodiles and a boy wearing tights, and you have nowhere to go? You just laugh.

Of course, the final three seconds of the ride, Madelyn got it together and stopped crying, but as I’ve always said, toddlers are bipolar AND have terrible timing. So, no surprise there.

After the ride, we evaluated our situation. We had a cranky little girl who was not valuing the Disney magic (or the three digits before the decimal point it cost to enter). Do we give up? Do we kick ourselves? Do we toss her overboard from the Mark Twain Riverboat?

No. We eat.

Eating was fine. Madelyn is fairly food-motivated, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely meal at our favorite lunch spot where it was cool and quiet, emphasis on the cool (why did it have to be a zillion degrees in February? Thanks, California).

After our recharge and morale boost, we decided to just go with the flow. We had a year’s worth of opportunities to come back and keep trying to force our daughter to love Disneyland. Whatever we got to, we got to. And hey, it’d make a good blog story (Is it? Is it?).

We decided what this girl really needed was a nap. So we reclined her in the stroller and walked through Disney’s California Adventure (PSA: I see a lot of people talk about this place as if it’s called California Adventures. No. Just Adventure. One. You can only have one adventure there. No more. Singular. Seriously, look it up).

Sure enough, as soon as we entered, her eyes got heavy and just as I purchased my ice cream (because calories don’t exist at Disneyland) she was fast asleep. We walked aimlessly and checked out new parts of DCA we hadn’t seen or cared about before. We had time to kill and we couldn’t ride rides.

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After about an hour, we wised up and enjoyed some free air conditioning in the hotel where I peed (amazing experience. I’ll never pee in a regular park bathroom again), and we relaxed. She woke up there and was as happy as a clam on Ariel’s mermaid bra. She was fine!

That nap did wonders and Madelyn woke up a whole new woman.

To take advantage of her chipper disposition, we took her to Toon Town so she could meet Minnie and Mickey. This, thank goodness, was fine!

We took her through Minnie’s house first, and she enjoyed seeing all of Minnie’s decor and prized possessions. In preparation for this moment, I had bought Madelyn a small Minnie earlier in the week to frontload her with all things mouse. She had taken to Minnie very much, so I knew she’d be in awe of seeing the real rodent with a bow in person.

Waiting outside Minnie's house in her garden!

Waiting outside Minnie’s house in her garden!

Madelyn enjoys some of Minnie's reading material.

Madelyn enjoys some of Minnie’s reading material.

Cuddling with Minnie in her bed where all the magic happens (tangent: why do Minnie and Mickey live in different houses? They're married, right?)

Cuddling with Minnie in her bed where all the magic happens (tangent: why do Minnie and Mickey live in different houses? They’re married, right?)

Madelyn admires herself in Minnie's mirror.

Madelyn admires herself in Minnie’s mirror.

Madelyn enjoys germ-infested plastic tea and cookies that I would not let her touch at Minnie's table.

Madelyn enjoys germ-infested plastic tea and cookies that I would not let her touch at Minnie’s table.

We finally got to Minnie’s backyard where she stands all day to take photos with her house guests. As we waited, Madelyn inched as close as she could to get her glimpse of Minnie from afar.

Minnie’s butlers/Disneyland’s line guidance experts, moved us along through the line, but Madelyn stayed behind the wall to take it all in.

"Wow," thinks Madelyn. "She is SO much bigger in person than the $7.99 mini Minnie Mommy bought at Target."

“Wow,” thinks Madelyn. “She is SO much bigger than the $7.99 mini Minnie Mommy bought at Target.”

Then it was finally our turn and I was so excited for Madelyn to meet THE Minnie! I put down all of our stuff (i.e., the diaper bag that had Madelyn’s all-you-can-eat buffet/snacks to keep her happy all day) and we handed the camera to Minnie’s man slave.

Madelyn was in awe and I could see the cogs working in her brain to make sense of this experience. She was about to enjoy the moment and I was about to swoon and then Minnie, that bitch, touched Madelyn in attempt to playfully tickle her and Madelyn flipped out. Look, don’t touch, according to Madelyn!

"Look, rat, I dont want your giant white hands anywhere near my human body, ya got that?"

“Look, rat, I dont want your giant white hands anywhere near my human body, ya got that?”

She calmed down in time for the photo, but she was still on guard and wary of the mouse shenanigans, so she wanted to be as far away from Minnie as possible and kept a watchful on her.

After our visit with Minnie, it was time to check out Mickey’s pad which is next door. No wonder Minnie and Mickey don’t have any children.

Inside Mickey’s house, there were similar cute and funny tzchotzchkes to see and touch, but Madelyn had lost all her steam in Minnie’s, so we were a little more rush-rush through his place. She stopped to see a framed portrait of Minnie on Mickey’s mantle — what a romantic! — and she recognized her and matched up her Minnie doll with the picture. Apparently, she was over the tickling debacle from five minutes before.

Look! Mickey loves Minnie!

Look! Mickey loves Minnie!

We finally got into the meet-Mickey room and Madelyn couldn’t care less! She didn’t gasp in excitement like she had with Minnie and was more casual about the whole thing. I imagine if she’d had a megaphone, she would’ve lazily directed, “Move it along, people, let’s meet the mouse and then bust out and get on with our day, yada yada.”

Still, at least there were no tears, even if she was unfazed over the whole charade.

Oh, another mouse? Show me something new already.

Oh, another mouse? Show me something new already.

As of that point, that was probably the most time I’d ever spent in Toon Town because why else would we have ever gone there?

We decided to leave the stroller parked in its spot in front of Minnie’s house and walk around a little bit to give Madelyn an outlet to spend her energy. There wasn’t much else that interested Madelyn inside Toon Town, but it was cute to walk around and snap some photos.

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We said “Toodles” to Toon Town and made our way back to Fantasy Land where we decided to try our luck at Dumbo. I had put on the movie for Madelyn a few days before we went to Disneyland so she’d get to know the adorable, big-eared elephant, but ohmygosh, have you watched this movie in your adult life? It’s horrific. The treatment of the elephants, the blatant racism of the circus workers, the management of the animals? Not such a happy flick! Thankfully, the ride is just up and down in an elephant and has nothing else to do with the movie!

This is where we discovered our new waiting in line tactic and I went through the line while Madelyn and Bryan waited. They joined me just as it was time to enter the corral and I made a bee line for the, duh!, pink Dumbo! Bryan snapped a few photos before it was time to join us inside and the three of us went up and down on the flying beastly mammal.

Madelyn didn’t love it. She didn’t hate it. She was just… fine. And as soon as it had started, it ended.

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So, what to do next at Disneyland with a first timer? Well, file this away in Things I’d Never Done at Disneyland Because You Can Do Them At Any Local Carnival in Your Hometown: ride the carousel. This was Madelyn’s second time on a carousel. The first time was at the Ventura harbor and she hated it. (I’m sensing a trend that Madelyn hates things that normal people think are fun). So, I didn’t have a lot of faith in this Disney-fied carousel experience, but you know what? She totally enjoyed it!

Once we found our horse, I fastened her in and Bryan positioned himself just outside the carousel to get shots of us going around and around. She smiled and liked the wind blowing through her hair and the music around her. I was so happy she was happy!

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After riding elephants and horses back-to-back, we were starting to wonder what we’d do next, but that’s when we got the call from our friend Becky (and her mom and Día) that they’d arrived and were ready to meet us! Becky’s husband, George, plays in the Mad Hatter Tea Party show at California Adventure, and we’d made plans to meet up to see his show! We hadn’t gotten together in months and were super overdue, and we laughed at the absurdity of a long-needed play date… at Disneyland!

It was so cute to see our two little princesses together at our meeting spot — in front of he castle, of course!

Madelyn shares her Minnie with Día who is enchanted with the little mouse!

Madelyn shares her Minnie with Día who is enchanted with the little mouse!

Madelyn and Día make funny faces for the camera.

Madelyn and Día make funny faces for the camera.

We love that Día wore a Cinderella onesie to Disneyland and her pink mouse ears on her head. Such a typical Disney kid! Becky dressed her in lace leggings that showed a little skin, but totally completed the whole girly, princessy outfit. Becky took a lot of photos of the girls and I will now share them because the captions she wrote, as copied here, are hysterical. Ahem… take it away, Becky!

Madelyn to Día: Your mom  made you wear that stupid hat."

Madelyn to Día: Your mom made you wear that stupid hat.”

Madelyn to Día: "And you're wearing slutty leggings."

Madelyn to Día: “And you’re wearing slutty leggings.”

Madelyn to Día: "Oh, I get it -- you're a slutty Cinderella."

Madelyn to Día: “Oh, I get it — you’re a slutty Cinderella.”

Then we had a mini photo shoot in front of the castle, first with Becky and me and our girls to document this momentous playdate and then finally, us three Friedmans!

The Queens and their Princesses

The Queens and their Princesses

Our little Disney family... and the dude in the weird hat and Miss Legs in front of him. Oh well.

Our little Disney family… and the dude in the weird hat and Miss Legs in front of him. Oh well.

The four of us and the babies ventured off for some rides and dinner. And then we exited the park to head over to California Adventure to see George play as the White Rabbit. I had no idea what to expect, but the music was awesome! George and his bandmates played covers of current music that was just as good as hearing the originals and they tossed in so much energy along with their Alice in Wonderland-themed costumes and lights. It was a great show!

I had seen George play with his other band that does 80s covers, but seeing him in his rockstar element was a treat. The girls loved it, too! Madelyn and Día danced and danced! It was adorable to see Día get down to her daddy’s music and even Madelyn, who is usually afraid of loud sounds, totally rocked out, too!

George is in the middle and rockin' out with Alice and the Mad Hatter!

George is in the middle and rockin’ out with Alice and the Mad Hatter!

If his wife wasn't there, I totally would've had him sign my bra! SO GOOD!

If his wife wasn’t there, I totally would’ve had him sign my bra! SO GOOD!

Madelyn and Día get DOWN to George's music!

Madelyn and Día get DOWN to George’s music!

Madelyn takes in her first concert from Daddy's shoulders.

Madelyn takes in her first concert from Daddy’s shoulders.

We got video if Madelyn and Día dancing and we seriously can’t stop watching the girls have a blast. My favorite part is when Día walks away and Madelyn’s like, “Wait, where did my friend go?” Pause. “Oh whatever, I’m going to keep dancing!”

This is what smiles are made of, people! This portion of our day was very, very, very fine.

After one of the sets, we got a photo with George and the band. We are such groupies!

Alice got cut off! Oops. Sorry, Alice. Curiouser, and curiouser.

Alice got cut off! Oops. Sorry, Alice. Curiouser, and curiouser.

By then, the girls were getting sleepy. The fireworks had ended over at the main park (is that Disneylandist of me to think of California Aventure as a second class park? Sorry, but it is) and the crowds were shuffling out, but it was still two hours til closing. You know what that means, right? We got in all the rides we didn’t dare try to ride earlier in the day and the girls were calm, or, in Madelyn’s case, slept in the Ergo while we enjoyed the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle dioramas, the Storybook Ride (my fav! So cute!) and Casey Junior’s train.

We made our way to the front and the worst part of any experience I have at Disneyland: leaving. I get so sad when I leave that magic behind, but I know that we have our annual passes and we will be back (no, really, we HAVE to in order to make our newfound poverty worth it). I really think that Madelyn will learn to appreciate it more and more as she gets older and I hope she’ll also be sad when it’s time to leave. That would be, in fact, fine.

A sleepy Madelyn holds onto the last remaining moments at Disneyland.

A sleepy Madelyn holds onto the last remaining moments at Disneyland.

Our first Disneyland trip was definitely a memorable one and even though it didn’t start off perfectly, it was a day we created memories and one I had dreamed of for a long time! Taking a child to Disneyland is so refreshing, especially after growing up and experiencing Disneyland in that awkward time where you still like it, but it’s lost its sparkle. Well, the sparkle is alive and well, and it’s time to start planning our next trip with our fine little princess.

As They Say: Location, Location, Location

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

Two months before Madelyn was born, I wrote a post about installing overhead storage into our garage, and I quoted on of my absolute favorite George Carlin routines about “a place for your stuff.” There is that one last part that I separated out because it didn’t apply to that post but I still found it quite funny. Well, this part is very relevant to me now:

…That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.

-George Carlin

That’s right. It’s time for us to “get a bigger house” because there’s “no room for our stuff anymore.”

Yep, we’re house hunting. I’m sure everybody reading this will have some advice to share or a story about their experience. My first experience buying a house was buying the place I’m currently in. I was 22, had no debt, very few expenses, no family to support, a pretty good job, and an inheritance I could use for a down payment. Seemed like a good time to buy. In 2004…

I remember the process, but my parents helped me along quite a bit, and I didn’t have a lot to think about with respect to neighborhood, floor plan, square footage, kitchen size, number of bathrooms, closet space. It was to be my bachelor pad. I was just concerned about where my TV would go and if there was room for the movie posters I wanted to put on the walls. The place I found was great — two master bedrooms (so I could easily rent one out to a roommate and offset some of the mortgage), a place for my TV and my bachelor-ready leather couch, and plenty of wall space for movie posters galore. Many poker games were enjoyed in that space, and I didn’t care about the gold-brass door handles and faucet fixtures, or the ugly-tiled wet bar, or the fluorescent kitchen lighting. Everything was fine with me. I was a homeowner at last.

Fast forward to three years later. Bachelor pad becomes married couple’s house. Roommate moves out. Movie posters come down. Cost Plus artwork goes up. Leather couch goes away. New couch replaces it. Second bedroom becomes office. Bathrooms are decorated. Laminate floors are installed. Dog moves in. Master bathroom is remodeled. We repurposed the bachelor pad into a proper family living space. Well, Alison did. I just followed orders.

Fast forward three more years. Office becomes nursery. Extra storage added in garage. Baby moves in. Kitchen is remodeled. TV is sold. New TV is mounted on wall. New couch again. Anything we could do to increase space for Madelyn and us and to make things easier and more comfortable, we’ve pretty much done.

Now intersperse throughout those six years many conversations that start with Alison saying something like “when are we going to move to a bigger place?” and me answering “I don’t know. Sometime.” It was mostly about not having the equity or the cash to upgrade yet, but it was partially about me avoiding change.

Well, the time has come. After the careful consideration I always take before big changes like this, I gave Alison the good news. We can move to a bigger place. Now is the right time for us. Let’s do it. And so we are. But it feels very bittersweet to me. I love this place. Like I said, it was first bachelor pad, my first married-couple house, and my first family home. Princeton came home to this house. We decorated my daughter’s nursery here. Madelyn’s first night away from the hospital was here.

But nine years and three incarnations later, here we are. Listing our house. Selling it. Looking for a new one. A new one! It’s crazy for me to think about. I seriously can barely get my head around it.

We’re still here though. For now. While we look. And the market is tricky, especially in this area. So we’ve been looking at about one house per day, and most of them are solid nos. But I know we’ll find one. In our price range. In a great area. With a nice big kitchen. And space for Madelyn to play. And an office. And a place for my TV.

…with room for our stuff.

20s Party in the Bachelor Pad! Notice the Rocky poster and the DVD shelf.

20s Party in the Bachelor Pad! Leather couch and more movie posters.

Bathroom Remodel! Wife moves in, so things have to get nicer.

Bathroom Remodel! Remove the soffit, raise the ceiling, add new lighting. Simple.

Bathroom Remodel! Things get worse before they get better.

Bathroom Remodel! Brand new raised counters, completely redone cabinets. Much better.

Readying for baby! Time to reorganize everything…

Getting the Nursery Ready! Gotta rearrange the room and pick a paint color!

Painting the Nursery! Pink and yellow. Yes, but *which* pink and *which* yellow?

Nursery is Ready! Madelyn can move in!

Kitchen Remodel! Let’s gut it first!

Kitchen Remodel! New cabinets. Thanks Ikea®! (Sort of.)

Kitchen Remodel! New granite countertops too! (That sink was an ordeal, but doesn’t it look nice?)

And now we’re on the market! She sure was a good house…