May, 2014 Archive

11 Years Later

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner

When I was hunting for my first career job as I was winding down my college years, I remember suiting up (though this was a couple of years before How I Met Your Mother aired, so that term may not have been around yet) and going on some interviews offered at the Cal Poly career center. I got through to the second round for two of them. One was for St. Jude Medical in Sylmar (where a few of my Cal Poly Engineering brethren ended up working for a time), and the other was for Amgen in my hometown of Newbury Park.

The entirety of my experience with Amgen at the time had been the lectures that I attended at the conference center there to earn extra credit for my 9th grade biology class. It seemed strange to even consider working there. I figured with my computer science degree, I’d end up in the Bay Area working for some major software development company, or maybe I would join a small startup and get to work with some really innovative, cutting-edge technology or something. I never imagined I’d take a job working in information technology at a large biotech company. Let alone basically going back home to do it.

And yet, as hard as I tried to stay away, there was something appealing about being close to my family, having the kind of benefits that Amgen offered, and still getting to work with technology in some respect. Sure, I wouldn’t be flexing my programming muscles as much as I would at a Microsoft or a Google, but it would still be a great opportunity to learn and grow. It’s not like I was going to be there forever.

Well, I wasn’t…but it sure felt like it. Today will be my last day at Amgen after nearly eleven years, six positions, eight bosses, and only three previously used laptops. On Monday, I start a new job at CenturyLink Cloud as Product Manager. Though based in Seattle, I will be working remotely from a home office and traveling up there occasionally to check in and be with the team.

This is a pretty big change for me, both from a career and also a lifestyle perspective. It honestly wasn’t even something that I was actively looking for at first. But when presented with the opportunity, it became increasingly clear that it was going to be virtually impossible to pass it up. Though I’ve been very happy at Amgen, particularly in my latest role there, I have watched the company over the past few years and seen it progressively enter a place where technical skills aren’t as valued as they used to be and the thirst for innovation is hard to come by. I’ve successfully navigated a number of job changes there that all helped me grow and learn so much, and I’m extremely grateful for that. But I like to be able to see the next job that I’m going to take, and I just started having trouble finding it at Amgen.

Thus, when the possibility of joining a high-performance team in a more tech-focused space was pitched to me, hard as my risk-averse self tried to ignore it and stay in the comfort zone that is Amgen, my desire and thirst for something new and different ultimately won out…and I could not be more excited to get started. The real challenge is going to be trying to explain to Madelyn that Daddy is still “at work” even though he’s physically “at home” also. That, and getting work done while hearing Frozen playing in the other room. But I’m looking forward to it.

  1. Ryan Pfeifle
    5/16/2014 9:26 AM

    I’ve been working from home (almost) full time for 15 years, the last 6 with kids. Working from a home office with kids around is not that difficult. They pick up pretty quickly that when daddy is in his office, don’t bother him (especially when he’s on the [speaker] phone!). But it does happen occassionally anyway. Be nice when they do, acknowlege what they want to tell you, then ask them to go to play elsewhere or whatever. And close the door when you need quiet time. Bosses are pretty understanding of the occassional home office interruption (it is a home, afterall).

  2. Jessica Yas
    5/16/2014 7:04 AM

    That’s super exciting Bryan! Good choice, and good luck 😉


by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Madelyn’s language has officially burst into a dictionary-sized anthology of vocabulary and expressions. For a kid who was in speech therapy for almost a year, she has exceeded all expectations of what she’d sound like as a Chatty Maddie.

Still, though, some of her words are very toddler-esque, with “R” sounds that are not quite refined and “L” sounds get skipped over altogether (her aunt’s name, which is the same as mine, is Ass-in, for example). Usually, we understand what she’s saying as we’ve also adapted to her dialect of Madelynese, but once in a while there are those head-scratching, eyebrow-raising, beard-stroking moments where we are totally stumped.

Last night was one of them.

It was bedtime, and I was getting Madelyn into PJs and going about our sleepy routine while Bryan was trying to fix the broken Diaper Genie. How was it broken? Well, the flaps that keep out the odors were not working in sync and so there were whiffs of air coming through, that if we could actually see them like we were in a cartoon, would be green and thick. As I was helping Madelyn into her nighttime Pull-Up, I got a wave from the broken Genie and shooed my hand and declared, “Poo! Stinko!”

Bryan brought it downstairs to see if it could be saved for later repairs and Madelyn and I got started on our story. We read a Madeline book about Genevieve the dog who comes to live with the girls, and they all fight about who gets to sleep with the dog, but it all works out in the end because — SPOILER ALERT!! — Genevieve has puppies and all the girls get a pup. We talked about all the puppies and where her own Princeton sleeps and then she went on to tell me about where Golby and Guyee sleep and then we looked at the cute pictures in the book and then we talked about our day and how she made a picture for Daddy and almost spoiled his upcoming Father’s Day surprises for the 42nd time that day and then we did kisses and hugs and then we called Daddy into the room to finish up goodnights.

The time in the chair before she goes into the crib is always my favorite. Madelyn is usually very happy and talkative and puts on a last call show. Sometimes she gets a little wired and best practices on sleep would say we are failing for letting her get wound up, but I’m selfish and really love the entertainment. Plus, she’s always been an amazing sleeper and usually gets back to the business at hand once in the crib.

So on her last buzz about the room, she gave us kisses and hugs and looked back and forth between us and her room and said, “CINCO!”




“No. Cinco!”

Bryan and I looked at each other with wrinkled foreheads. She was trying to tell us something. Maybe we misheard.

She sleeps with a stuffed sheep that makes white noise (ATTENTION ALL NEW PARENTS: Buy this.) We pointed to it. “Oh. The sheep? Sheep???”

“No!” she said. “Seeeeenk-o.”

“Do you need to go wash up at the sink?”


We repeated her sounds again.

“Do you need to make sissy in the potty?”


She was starting to get frustrated. Her body went a little limp and she looked defeated. We felt terrible for not knowing what she was trying to communicate.

“Madelyn, tell us what you mean. We are trying to understand. Say it again.”


Desperate at trying to solve the puzzle, I said, “Bryan, I think she is counting to 5 in Spanish.” Madelyn’s body language was telling me I was way off.

“Show us,” Bryan said. Madelyn is really a great charades player. She uses her body or acts out scenarios when we don’t understand her words. She will come up with synonyms too, or even show us an object that relates.

The lightbulb went off her in her head and she pointed to a doll of Daniel Tiger that was laying on the floor. She specifically picked up his foot and showed us his shoe.

“Daniel Tiger’s shoe?” we grappled.

“No! White! Circle!”

It’s true. The bottom of Daniel Tiger’s shoe is white and round.


We still weren’t getting it with this clue. We asked her to show us what she meant. I stayed in the chair of her room while my brain was exploding, and Madelyn dragged Bryan by the pinky finger as they walked around the upstairs of our house. She kept repeating her word and Bryan kept saying it back hoping to land on a different pattern of sounds or pronunciations that would make sense. Nothing.

They came back to her room and we apologized to Madelyn for not knowing what she was trying to tell us. The whole thing was getting ridiculous and it was way past her bedtime, but I knew Bryan and I would never get sleep ourselves if we didn’t solve the mystery word. She was so passionate about what she was trying to say and we felt so guilty that we couldn’t understand. We could tell she was doing everything she could to communicate with us and tell us just exactly what she said.

We went back to Daniel Tiger’s shoe and asked her to explain again. It sounded like she was saying “circle.” Since the “R” sound is rounded out, it sounds more like the “oo” in “wood” to sound like soo-cuh. We got that correctly. She confirmed with a furious head nod that our “circle” identification was correct. She also said “white” again and we knew for certain that she was saying “white circle.” BUT WHY?!?!

On her most desperate attempt, she flitted to the part of her room between her changing table and the doorway that had an empty space. She pointed ferociously.

“Wall?” “Dresser?” “Dust bunny?”

We were wrong.

She kept pointing and it suddenly became a lesson on object permanence — she could see what was not there.



“Yeah!” she exclaimed.

Fantastic. We understood her charade for “Diaper Genie” but what did that have to do with anything?

Then it dawned on me why it wasn’t there. It was broken. It was letting out odors. It was smelly. IT WAS STINKO!

Through changing clothes, story time, conversation, and cuddles, that little stinker was focused on my word, stinko, and was inquiring about the Diaper Genie’s whereabouts. You know the WHITE ROUND thing. LIKE DANIEL TIGER’S SHOE.

It all made sense.

We explained to her that the Diaper Genie was out of the room because it was broken and letting out stinko smells. She nodded, accepted the answer, and then went into the crib.

Bryan and I shut her door behind us and our minds were blown. She had so thoughtfully and strategically figured out how to go about finding new ways to explain “Stinko” when we couldn’t understand her pronunciation. While the twenty minutes of confusion hurt my brain, I was so relieved to have the word resolved and Madelyn’s question answered. At the same time, we were so impressed at her problem solving skills and attempts to find new routes to get us to the magic word.

Game show creators, take note: “Are You Smarter Than a Two-Year-Old” could be pretty entertaining television and if we were contestants on the show, we would not be winning any big money because we are most definitely not smarter than OUR two-year-old!

Mother’s Day-ing: From Womb to Bloom

It’s crazy to think I’m not such a rookie anymore. I’ve completed my third Mother’s Day and I must say, I am totally on board with this holiday! I keep forgetting that it’s about me, though. I’m so used to thinking about the older mothers in my life, that it slips my mind that I’m now in their company to be honored on this day. These past three years, it’s not until the actual special Sunday that I remember I’m part of the mom touting.

I was quickly reminded that I get to celebrate AND be celebrated, thanks to Madelyn’s wonderful preschool teachers who hosted a lovely morning for moms, grandmas, aunts, and other special ladies in the kids’ lives. My mom and I were Madelyn’s entourage as we noshed on some fruit and bagels together before heading off to the usual Friday morning Tot Shabbat service.



I love going to Tot Shabbat on Friday mornings because Silly Cantor, as the kids call him, does an amazing job getting them excited and involved in the music and traditions. Madelyn now knows all about lighting the candles — she even covers her eyes! — and pretends to drink the “juice,” and she can’t get enough of the challah! I love that my mom got to see her share what she’s learned over these short few months of preschool.


After Tot Shabbat, we went back to Madelyn’s classroom where all the moms were presented with handmade gifts from their kids. Madelyn was so excited for her teacher to call her name so she could go up and get my present. The teachers told all the moms to wait to open until everyone had their presents in hand. Meanwhile, Madelyn ran back to me and exclaimed, “It’s a box! I made you a box!”

We are going to work on keeping secrets and saving surprises.


She’s no liar. I opened the tissue paper and sure enough, there was a beautifully painted box with her mugshot picture of a very serious face in the frame. Inside was my very first piece of preschool couture that will forever put Tiffany & Co. to shame. (Bryan, you did not read that).

When I became a mom, I totally forgot to get excited about toddler-made jewelry. It never registered on my radar that along with diaper blow outs, I would also one day be covered in baubles from Baby. The collection has finally started, and I never knew that clumsily painted hearts drenched in glitter and threaded on ribbon would become one of my most prized possessions!


Madelyn’s preschool teachers made us moms feel so special and I am so grateful for what they do for her every day. They toasted us, commending us on what a great job we are doing as moms, but for a handful of hours a day, they are also our kids’ mommies, and I am very thankful for all the work we see and don’t see, during school and after school. It was such a special morning and one of my new favorite memories.

The preschool Mother’s Day party got my head in the game for the big day ahead. We still had no plans for Mother’s Day, but I found out my mom would be alone while my dad was at the Dodgers game, so she and I came up with the idea of visiting the Huntington Library and Gardens. Bryan gave this idea a thumbs up, and on Sunday morning, we drove down to San Marino and enjoyed a really lovely time.



Madelyn loves flowers and gardens thanks to the time she spends with my mom who also enjoys sprucing up her yard and watching the birds fly by. It was fun to watch the butterflies flutter from flower to flower and to literally stop and smell the roses on the gorgeous grounds. Madelyn had a blast exploring the children’s garden, which had beautiful features just her size to touch and run through. It reminded me of a little journey down the rabbit hole to Alice’s Wonderland.



We enjoyed an al fresco lunch, during which Bryan presented me with a gift certificate for a daycation to The Four Seasons spa and pool. He might have shot himself in the foot with that gift — I just may never come back home! He makes me feel special every day of the year, and I’m lucky to have a husband who honors and supports his parenting partner!

Madelyn saw her first famous pieces of art, checking out Pinkie and Blue Boy in the galleries. We also saw Remingtons and Cassatts, and lots of naked impressionistic people, and just like that, she’s a cultured toddler.


As we meandered through the detailed paths that bloomed something new every few feet, we came upon a small pond filled with lilies and koi… and the cutest little family of geese! They, too, were celebrating Mother’s Day with a swim, and they clearly loved showing off for all the people who stood and “awwwwww”ed. I looked down at Madelyn, who had finally dozed off in the stroller, and back at the mother goose (who did not tell any nursery rhymes. Very disappointing) and felt a little connection. No feathers, no webbed feet (well, not anymore), and I felt like a goose? No, I felt like a co-mother; a member of this really fantastic club on a really fantastic day.


  1. Mimi
    5/13/2014 9:46 AM

    Thank you for letting me spend Mother’s Day with you & making it a very beautiful, memorable, & enjoyable day (while Poppa sweated it out at the Dodgers game 😉 ). The entire weekend was full of laughs & fun. I love my presents & love that I can admire them everyday on display. Love you!! <3

That’s What Imaginary Friends Are For

In the past couple months, Madelyn has made a bevy of new friends. She would always talk about them in the car, at home, in the cart at Trader Joe’s. She was making lots of friends at preschool, but these names were not part of her class. Golby and Guyee were part of her original crew, and lately, Hank has started hanging out, too. We quickly realized that these friends she passionately spoke about are her fictional, made-up, dare I say, imaginary friends. Let me tell you, there is nothing more entertaining than hearing about this world my toddler completely controls and creates.

Some people might be freaked out about imaginary friends, but I think it’s terrific. I love that she is expressing her imagination, piecing together parts from her real world to make up her own, and exploring her verbal communication which only seems to improve, and drastically! It’s a great glimpse into the way she sees her environment and circumstances. If this creates independent thoughts and ideas, then I’m all for it! I just follow her lead and acknowledge her fwiends, and Bryan and I giggle while her eyes are closed with detailed and dramatic storytelling.

Madelyn dressed up as a fairy princess and invited her imaginary friends to dance at the ball with her just after this picture.

Madelyn dressed up as a fairy princess and invited her imaginary friends to dance at the ball with her just after this picture.

So let’s introduce her friends, shall we? Madelyn talks about them here, but this is just one of many instances. I’ve gathered a lot of details about these characters over the months.

The first one to show up was Golby. Originally, it was Colby, but she has now lost her C and her name begins with a G. Golby has a pet horse, who’s white, named Amigo. She rides her everywhere. Including to work. Which is at the Apple store. Golby is always at work. Girlfriend NEVER gets any breaks, it seems, and I think she ought to complain to HR about some PTO. We might be in the middle of brushing teeth at bedtime, and Madelyn will blurt out of the blue, “Golby at work!”

Guyee is Golby’s partner in crime. Pronounced GUY-EE, this was the name Madelyn used to call herself for “Maddie.” Before she mastered the “M” sound, she substituted with “G” which is really random and actually makes no phonemic sense, but you know, we roll with things around here. So Maddie used to introduce herself as “Guy-ee” and we used to have to explain to people that she means “Maddie” and then they’d look at us like we must be speaking in tongues. This was, of course, way back when Madelyn was having speech therapy and more closely resembled Nell of the Forest than my genetic offspring.

Anyway, Guyee also works at the Apple store. Hmmm. Wonder if she is her father’s daughter.

Guyee gets a little more time off than Golby, apparently, as Guyee makes pretty regular appearances. Sometimes Madelyn announces her presence, and other times I just gather that Guyee is with us. They seem to have a pretty close relationship, like sisters, almost, as they have regular conversations that sometimes escalate into conflict and resolution. Thank goodness. I often hear them arguing in the back of my car while I’m driving. The other week, my mom was driving after a visit to Trader Joe’s, and Madelyn and Guyee were working out a tiff over the stickers. Allegedly, Maddie had the stickers, Guyee wanted them and took them, and they went back and forth over who got the stickers until finally Madelyn and Guyee made up and they said I love you back and forth to each other.

You see, Madelyn does the voices for her friends as well. She changes patter and inflection depending on who she’s playing. She asks questions and answers them. Sometimes we’ll be walking Princeton, and Madelyn will ask me to hold the leash. Because she’s really a good walker, I let her and the following will take place:
Madelyn: You want to hold the leash, Guyee?
Madelyn as Guyee: Yeah! Ok!
Madelyn: Ok here you go!
Madelyn as Guyee: Ok! Dank you!
Madelyn: Ok! Welcome!
Madelyn as Guyee: OK OK!
Madelyn: OK OK!

This goes on and on.

Lately, a newcomer has made an appearance. Hank. I’m a little nervous about Hank, to tell you the truth. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him and um, clearly, I can’t throw him.

Madelyn has told me that Guyee and Golby are kids. Hank, on the other hand, is a grown up. Why is a grown up hanging out with kids? And he has a beard and a mustache. And he drives a white van. She also says he’s not nice. If he starts offering candy, I’m telling her to ditch Hank. My gut tells me he’s bad news, but how do you break up with an imaginary friend? Hank, though, does not work at the Apple store. He works at Trader Joe’s. I asked her how they met: of course, a restaurant. Of course.

I sat down and asked Madelyn what her friends look like, because, you know, I want to put a face with the name. She doesn’t seem to blink an eye about my not being able to see her friends, so she just rolled with it.

Madelyn says, "Golby has pink hair and green eyebrows and wears a blue dress. WITH BUTTONS, Mommy! And she has purple lips and a bow in her hair. And the bow is pink."

Madelyn says, “Golby has pink hair and gween eyebrows and wears a bwoo dress. WITH BUTTONS, Mommy! And she has purpur lips and a bow in her hair. And the bow is pink.”

Madelyn says, "Guyee has a blue dress with pink polka dots. She has pink hair with pink eyelashes and blue eyes. She wears a bow. NO TWO bows. They are pink. And shoes. They're bwoo."

Madelyn says, “Guyee has a blue dress with pink polka dots. She has pink hair with pink eyelashes and blue eyes. She wears a bow. NO TWO bows. They are pink. And shoes. They’re bwoo.”

Madelyn says, "Hank has purple hair with bwoo eyebrows. He also has a beard and a muss-ash. It's gween. He wears a bwoo shirt with buttons. They're orange. And purpur pants. He's not a kid, he's a grown up."

Madelyn says, “Hank has purple hair with bwoo eyebrows. He also has a beard and a muss-ash. It’s gween. He wears a bwoo shirt with buttons. They’re orange. And purpur pants. He’s not a kid, he’s a grown up.”

Sometimes, the whole thing gets a little too Haley Joel Osment for me and I think she’s seeing spooky things. We were looking at family photos the other night and asked Madelyn to name all the people in the picture. From right to left, she pointed: “Mommy, Bubbie, Gigi, Mimi, Gamma, Maddie, Guyee, Golby, Hank, Auntie Ass-in.” Ummmmmmmm.

Dear Ryan Murphy. I have your next American Horror Story plotline for you: IMAGINARY FRIENDS. You’re welcome.

People say that these friends could be temporary or they could hang around for a few years. To be honest, I’ve really enjoyed Guyee and Golby’s company (Hank, not so much. He’s a creeper) and hey, they’re cheap to entertain and require no room and board, so it’s not even like they’re mooching. I think I’ll be sad when her friends leave Madelyn and move on to some other little girl’s imagination.

For now, I’m happy to make room for them on the couch as Madelyn watches Frozen with them, does coloring pages with them, and even eats dinner with them. Good friends are hard to find. Guyee and Golby are lucky to have Maddie.