Amazing Arielle Archive

First of First(s)

Yesterday was a big day in the Friedman house and it all happened within 2 hours of waking up. YAWN. So tired. O. M. I would type the G but I’m just that tired.

Madelyn and Arielle both had their first day of school and everything went pretty perfectly. Other than the no-sleeping in thing.

Oh, and not to bury the lede but Bryan was out of town for work this whole week so it was single mama milestone time and part of me feels like Supermom for doing it all myself and part of me feels super lame for being proud of doing it all myself.

I woke up the girls after I bargained with the alarm clock to not be sooooooo rude and abrupt in the morning. Madelyn woke up excited to start her first day of school. Arielle was just confused because she normally snoozes until 8:30 (don’t hate!). Thankfully, outfits were picked out the night before (including mine because… mom friends) and lunches were packed before going to sleep so all we had to do was take care of ourselves and make time for a 3-minute BTS photo shoot.

I love how Arielle is looking up to her big sis, learning the ropes of how this first-day-of-school thing works.

First grader and first time preschooler — these girls love going to school!

Arielle looks like the cutest little jailbird ever with her mugshot pose.

Madelyn is a professional first-day model now.

Each girl got a frozen Trader Joe’s waffle on the go because I’m the world’s okayest mom, except for Arielle, who got two because I knew she’d need a refill during Madelyn’s drop off. We walked onto campus together and made a quick stop to take a photo with the school sign. I’m planning to snap the same shot of her in the same place every year to see where she ends up on this sign as she grows. Sometimes I am impressed with myself.

We lined up at her classroom and I had no idea what to expect because we were not placed in the class I thought she’d be in. Apparently, Madelyn is a cooperative learner and easy class citizen (funny, the principal clearly hasn’t seen her do chores and help out around the house when I ask), so she was placed in a first grade/second grade split. I’m mostly okay with this because I am a product of a first/second split as a first grader and I think I turned out fine… enough. Also, she is in a class with a lot of her friends. The teacher is great from what I hear, and who I wanted Madelyn to have for second grade. So, we shall see what happens next year. I am super bummed to miss out on the classroom we hoped to be in (super bummed = I talked myself off a ledge and had to actively restrain myself from turning into that crazy mom), but I also know Madelyn will do great in any class. I’m super proud of her and can’t wait to see her enjoy some challenges and maybe even get a sneak peek into second grade.

New building, new door, new room. Same backpack.

Of course, the best part about the first day of school is seeing friends she missed all summer! She didn’t have many playdates with school friends because the first half of summer, Madelyn was in camp every day and the second half of summer, she was working on a TV project (more details TBD). “Normal” is not a word I’d use to describe Madelyn’s summer, so we are all feeling refreshed and delighted to be back in the routine with some of her favorite friends.

Madelyn’s FAYEvorite friend from kindergarten is in her class again, and we are all so happy!

Two feet away from literally entering first grade.

Parents were invited into the class to check out the new digs, and just as Madelyn and I got comfy at her desk, Arielle ran out of that second waffle. So that’s when Armageddon happened, basically, and she let out screams and enacted tantrummy fists and no amount of rational conversation could be exchanged. The bell would ring in about eight minutes and parents were still hanging around the desks inside. I was so sweaty from this and frantically figuring out my exit game plan because I knew this was not acceptable. The teacher casually walked by to let me know that “it’s ok! We’re almost done in here, so you can probably just say goodbye now,” which was a super nice way of telling me to take the maniac toddler in my arms and remove her from the classroom. What a fantastic way to start off the year as the crazy toddler mom. Thanks, REL.

A quick kiss later, we fled the room and hurried to the car so we could get to our next stop: Arielle’s preschool!

Madelyn was so excited to have her own desk with shelves inside to store her things. I imagine this is like the elementary version of lockers.

Despite the fact that it was a school filled with toddlers, Arielle’s drop-off was a lot more low key: tons of familiar moms from years of preschoolhood together, warm and sugary sweet teachers, and best of all, tons of easy parking.

I signed her in while she temporarily hugged my leg and then I showed her where her lunch, snack, and water go. She totally owned the classroom and felt so proud to be there. She immediately got on the floor to play with building toys and sat with her friend. The girls’ older siblings were in preschool together and now it’s exciting that the baby sisters are going through it in the same class, too.

Arielle was hard at work doing her very first preschool STEM project.

Brooklyn and Arielle both sat down to explore the toys on the carpet and were super involved in their exploration.

Brooklyn got a little verklempt when her mom started to leave, but Arielle made sure to let her know she had a friend in her.

Saying goodbye to Arielle was super anti-climactic at her drop-off probably because she didn’t have a baby sister at her’s to steal her thunder (grumble grumble), but I’m so glad there were zero tears from her all day. That is not the experience we had with Madelyn at the same age.

After a little more schmoozing with mom friends on the playground, I made it to my next stop right on time: behold! The new tradition! The most brilliant idea ever! The escape from reality! The Massage! I booked an hour of me time to relax and get those knots worked out. Quite frankly, I’d been saying I was going to get a massage for six months, but every time I’d think about booking it, something stressful or physical would come up and it seemed wasteful to indulge in a massage when it would be ruined right after due to more deadlines or travels or events. But I think two kids successfully attending their first day of school after a wild summer was the best way to start the 2017-2018 school year!

That massage table made me its bitch.

Pick-ups in the afternoon went just as well as the morning hustle. Both girls shared big hello smiles with me and squishy goodbye hugs with friends. At first I was a little emotional to leave the kindergarten bubble and start in on the final round of preschool, but I’m feeling really positive and excited about the school year and know my girls’ happiness is the best part!

After school, Arielle enjoyed a leisurely ride with friends around the playground, similar to what some experience as they travel from bar to bar at night in a college town.

Madelyn ran out with a smile on her face, so I’ll call that a win.

Fun references with the now-annual photos from Madelyn’s kindergarten year:

Madelyn’s First Day of Kindergarten
Madelyn’s Kindergarten Update After a Few Weeks

  1. nicole
    8/24/2017 10:22 PM

    love your words. always! glad to hear they had great first days.

The Terrible Twos Are Crappy

You’d think that after almost six years of parenthood, I wouldn’t blink about having to change crib bedding. But I still find it to be a gigantic pain: the mattress is heavy and bulky, my small hands and nails can’t grip on to the corners, and when reaching in, the rails are at boob height and that hurts. And unfortunately, for the last few weeks, we are changing crib bedding almost every day because Arielle, in all her two-year-old glory, is exploring her artistic talents. Her favorite art form? Finger painting. Her favorite color? Brown. Her preferred medium? Poop.

Insider tip from me to you: Buy stock in Clorox.

You’re welcome.

You guys. I just can’t anymore. I think Madelyn did this like three times and then outgrew it. Arielle is a true arteest, staying true to her art. She’s going to be the one who chooses a major like painting in college and then insists on making it in the real world as a studio artist and then lives with us in our colloquial basement (because, California) until she’s 37.

“Arielle, you MUST stop playing with your poop. It’s getting old. Enough.”
“But, Mother! I am… [gasp] an artist!”

So here’s how this goes: every nap or nighttime, as we place her in her crib, we discuss how she must keep her pajamas on and that doody stays in the diaper and not the crib, and that it’s icky-pooey if it gets everywhere. She nods her head in agreement and understanding and then I’m pretty sure as we walk out the door and turn out the light, she gives us the biggest middle finger a toddler can make.

Now, my mom friends would say this is karma because Arielle sleeps late and loves her crib. Even when she is awake, she happily plays and sings and chats, so I rarely have to rush to her room in order to soothe a lonely, crying baby. So most mornings or afternoons, we just let her hang out for 30 minutes or so after waking up. This is Rookie Mistake # 1 because this is probably when she decides to get creative with her poop. And after that 30 minutes, when I enter her room, I discover the “art” strewn across her crib, her sheets, her… self. That’s usually when I say a lot of really bad words. If this was The Truman Show, the home audience would be clutching their pearls.

And so the cycle begins of never ending laundry. Crib bumpers take a long time in the dryer. Any bets on my electric bill this month?

OK, so after one or two times of this nonsense, one would learn to seek reinforcements since the “no poop” pep talk before sleep doesn’t work. But we must suffer from “Our Child Is Brilliant and Surely Wouldn’t Put Us Through This Torture Again” syndrome, but no, that little pooper doesn’t give a hoot about our water bill and clearly Bryan and I are masochistic enough to live on the edge.

And just when she’ll go a few sleeps without Diaper Removal-geddon, we think she’s learned her lesson and we are clear. But no. It happens again.

Earlier this week, I ordered a toddler sleep sac because the mom boards say that they work and mom boards are the gospel. Amazon Prime has never felt like such an eternity. UPS Man, you are my new best friend by end of day, June 23rd.

So last night, we finally remembered to put her in backwards onesie footie PJs, another tip from the Mom Gods on the mom boards. In the morning: Duh, no poop, because Arielle hasn’t figured out how to grow octopus tentacles to reach around the back and zip open her backwards onesie. As parents, felt like champions of the world this morning and our laundry machine breathed a huge sigh of relief that she’d get the day off. Poor old girl is tired. All that spinning — the vertigo is intense. Kenmore can do no more.

Later this afternoon, at her usual naptime, Arielle went to sleep. Now, I’m not going to say who brought her up to her room and put her down for her nap, but I was at lunch with a friend. So….

The Olympic Sleeper slept for 3.5 hours because she does have some redeeming qualities, and I was making dinner around the time she woke up. The chicken, potatoes, and broccoli were ready to come out of the oven just as Bryan declared he was going to get Arielle and bring her down in time to eat. Mmm. A hot meal that the family would enjoy around the table together after the longest day of the year.

And then I heard the swear words and the stomps on the carpet. Either Bryan had just hammered his own hands with Sriracha-soaked metal nails …. OOOOOOOOR, Arielle had produced another Poopacalypse. Whoever put her to bed was very trusting in her shorts and T-shirt. I mean, I don’t know. We’ll never know the truth.

Poor girl stood in her crib looking at us like we had 27 eyeballs.

Her diaper was on the floor. There was a smashed nugget on the floor with Bryan’s heel print in it from when he walked closer to her to see her damage. Her white crib was… not. She looked like a pig in a mud bath. Into the shower she went and off the bedding came… again. I walked into our laundry room and I think Kenmore rolled her eyes at me. She might have even tsk-tsked me. I poured detergent and vinegar in her to shut her up.

While our dinner got cold downstairs, Bryan and I had a very close-proximity conversation (teacher trick!) with Arielle, using calm, low voices and we talked about where poop goes and where diapers stay. Her lower lip quivered and it was hard to be mad at her. She nodded her head in understanding. At bedtime, her backwards onesie was zipped up and we put on a new sheet while the rest of her bedding was still in the dryer.

We spend so much of our parenthood trying to teach our kids lessons and making sure they learn from their mistakes. But in some cases, these mistakes have the opposite effect: Pavlov would be proud that we realized it was us who finally became conditioned. Click. Click. Click.

Really hoping Pavlov won this one because if she grows octopus tentacles and evolves to be able to unzip her backwards onesie in the morning, Darwin wins. And I just don’t think our laundry machine would appreciate that. Either this or we just stop feeding her. No? Ok. Backwards zipper it is.

Arielle Turned 2 and My Dreams Came True

In March (Yes. I know. It’s May.) Arielle turned 2! We celebrated with a big party that was supposed to be small because, as usual, I said I wasn’t going to go all out for her second birthday, but we all know how that goes. But I did cut back! We threw this party specifically for 2-year-olds in mind, so we didn’t invite everyone we’ve ever met. And I didn’t make myself crazy coming up with activities because I just outsourced that out to one of the greatest bands in the history of music; a band that transcends the test of time and age. A musical group with a repertoire so complex and diverse, the melodies speak to all people. The band? THE BEATBUDS.

Now, coming up with the idea for this celebration was easy. It was quite obvious that we should have a BeatBuds party because I have a crazy mom crush on the guys and music Arielle loves to dance and play music with lots of energy and rhythm. The BeatBuds play at many community events, celebrity parties, and private groups, so it was an honor to pay for them to come to our home because they put on a great party! They bring all of their equipment and work with the kids perfectly. Lots of humor that adults could appreciate in addition to silliness that kids need made the performance in our living room a hit for everyone!

When planning this party with a light music theme, I had fun coming up with the menu and names of the food. Sometimes I think I throw parties just to be able to participate in this exercise.

This recipe for pasta salad is my favorite and when the name came to me at 2 in the morning and woke me out of my sleep, I wasn’t even a little bit mad.

Plain cheese and BBQ chicken pizzas made all humans at the party very happy. Plugging Ameci’s in Newbury Park for doing an amazing job on these beauts!

We weren’t sure if we should order wings to go with the pizza. But we figured we should appease the adults. And the food title that was too good to not use.

This is probably the pinnacle of Fiona’s career.

I STILL have almost every song memorized from the Dookie album.

Snacks for the kids. Funny, so many of the kids looked like they were in their 30s and 40s. Hmmm…

This is one of those stupid details because I included it for the pop of color of the container… and then had to buy popcorn to fill them.

I know juice boxes don’t really need signage but…

Dilemma: The market near me makes the BEST cupcakes. BUT… their pick designs were u.g.l.y. So, I took matters into my own hands and made my own (72 of them) with pretty sparkle papers punched into stars. This is the kind of thing that makes me a candidate for mental help.

I just don’t want to live in a world where salty and sweet can’t mingle together.

I hung music notes with Arielle’s face on them because… why not?

Once the set-up was all finished, the birthday girl got a birthday bath in her birthday suit and then the girls got together to pose for some pre-party photos. I rarely match the sisters, but in an effort to find some music-themed outfits and totally failing, this is the only get-up that worked for them and even though I lost sleep over this for two weeks, I’m actually super happy with how cute they looked. Plus, they absolutely love matching.

Birthday bath! Had to get her nice and clean so that she could get all nice and dirty from dancing and frosting.

Madelyn gets SO excited for parties at her house. I don’t know WHERE she gets it!

These girls.

Wearing rockstar shades is very serious business.

We took TWO many photos but this was the one!

Guests arrived and The BeatBuds began to set up their show while people mingled. I fan girled as I realized they were IN.MY.HOUSE and considered changing into Coachella attire (crocheted ruffly bustier and deep slit skirt anyone?), but didn’t want to scare away our friends (or let The BeatBuds know too soon my true feelings. It’s all about the chase, amirite?) I suppose a flower crown would’ve been appropriate enough, but allergy season was just beginning and I didn’t take my Zyrtec.

Just before the party date, The BeatBuds sent me a CD in the mail so we could listen to it in preparation for the big show. Best homework I’ve ever done (Sorry, Art History 101). I mean, it even beat “Hamilton” for playtime in the car for a solid few weeks. When “Billy the Bee” and “Sam the Garbage Man” take over for “The Schuyler Sisters” and “Ten Duel Commandments,” you know it’s good stuff.

So when the music started, my girls and I were ALL. IN. And, refreshingly, so were all the kids!

At the end of their set, we were invited to try out the drums and I think Arielle is the next Ringo.

Homegirl has some serious percussion skillz. I was just hoping she’d charm them into getting the set list and a drumstick for a souvenir. No such luck. I achieved these things at previous Jason Mraz concerts in bigger venues, but I guess The BeatBuds keep a lockdown on their swag. It’s ok. The photos and memories alone are more valuable.

And then when we all posed together for a picture, well, it took everything in me not to ask them to also sign my bra. Maybe I should’ve worn a Coachella outfit after all.

And then, as a final encore to the music party, The BeatBuds led the crowd in a rousing and accompanied rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

As the ultimate mom fan girl, it left me breathless, of course, but Arielle was not breathless as she blew out her cupcake candles all by herself. Just the year before, she looked at the fire on top of her frosted pastry as a confusing custom that we all subscribe to, but this year, she totally got it! Big girl realization! I was prepared to ask Madelyn to assist her in blowing out her candles, but the birthday girl was totally on board.

And that was when adorable purple and pink frosting-stained faces became an epidemic among Arielle and her guests. While The BeatBuds packed up and I offered them lunch and cupcakes, Jewish mother-style, we finished mingling with our friends. I love making up stupid names for food and hiring entertainment on which I have inappropriate music crushes, but by far my favorite part about hosting birthday parties is seeing our pals come together and creating more memories. Yes, beneath all this sarcasm is a sappy and sentimental fool.

It was a really great party and I’m so glad we did it. I was on the fence about having a party because I wasn’t super motivated to do the work, but simply choosing to not celebrate Arielle with a party seemed like the opposite of all that Arielle is. This little girl is the life of any party and brings so much joy and laughter to our every day lives, so it was easy to create a celebration around her. Yes, she’s feisty and yes, she is always looking for trouble, but her sweet cuddles and attention-seeking twinkle in her eye keep her in our hearts… and on our toes!

“Two years old” is not quite a baby anymore. It even sounds so big! She’s a 100% red blooded toddler and turning into a curious little girl every day. We love watching her grow and dance to her own beat. She’s completed our family and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Except when she throws food from the table. We’d really like that to stop.

Happy 2nd birthday, Arielle… back in March… but still! We love you!

Milked It: A New Era for Arielle and Me

I didn’t really mean for it to happen when it did, but it’s sort of symbolic that Rosh Hashanah, the start of a new Jewish year, known for wishing health and sweetness to loved ones, would also mark the final time I breastfed Arielle.

It’s a [Hanukkah] miracle I even breastfed her as long as I did. Or at all! The journey was nothing short of my share of uphill battles and it never came easy for me when it truly mattered, but I was so intent on being able to do what I couldn’t do for Madelyn. The complications from my c-section with Madelyn in 2011 left me feeling quite depressed and defeated and I knew that if I ever had another baby, I would try to do my best to be able to breastfeed.

First day on the job as Arielle's personal dairy farm.

First day on the job as Arielle’s personal dairy farm.

And I did! For 18 months, just two days shy of 19 months, Arielle and I weathered a storm — Hurricane Boob — for the benefits of bonding, comfort, and the magical science that IS breastmilk. Do I think breastfeeding is the only acceptable form of nutrition for a baby? No. Madelyn did just fine on her powdered cocktails of Nutramigen. But I did feel like I missed out on an experience, and I am so glad that Arielle and I have had a very special connection that I’ve never had with anyone else. So, perhaps, it was about me all along; satisfying the curiosity of wanting to know just how special breastfeeding can be, as many women — friends and strangers — have expressed.

But it was time. She was hardly nursing anyway. She would go days between nursing sessions and didn’t seem to notice because she really didn’t need it. I started to wear my nursing tanks and bras less. I wasn’t really nursing her out in public anymore. She was starting to just ask to go straight to bed and skip the milk before naps and nighttime. And then yesterday, Erev Rosh Hashanah (that’s like New Year’s Eve), we were cuddling, she was thirsty, and really, I was too lazy to go downstairs to get her a drink so I figured she could have breastmilk because I am nothing but a walking pantry, and she wasn’t into it; a few suckles and she unlatched. I tried to get her interested again because, I mean, I really didn’t feel like going downstairs (it was cold!), but she shook her head and kept asking for “wa wa.” I suddenly felt like a chef whose patrons were sending entrees back to the kitchen. Where did I go wrong? Why did she not want me? My recipes had always been tried and true! I straightened my chef hat, twirled my tiny mustache, and in my best French chef accent I thought to myself, “Well, what’s that famous French saying? “A little dab’ll do ya?” I tasted a dab and — sacrebleu! — my milk was salty! That’s a sign of milk that hasn’t been emptied and neither of us had been very interested in emptying!

And that’s when I realized that this was the end of our journey. It had to end eventually. I knew that when I first started. People would ask me how long I’d plan to nurse Arielle, as if I was a carton of milk branded with an expiration date — tssssssssss 18 months — but I always just shrugged and said, “Whenever either of us get sick of it.”

Well I came to learn that neither of us were sick of it. Trust me, I was sick of it many times along the line, but I had recently actually gotten to a point where it was easy and drama-free. But we just went with the flow — literally — and I knew it was looming after she turned one, but I also didn’t seem to have any reason for us to stop. But now, between her display of needing breastmilk less, my sudden salty milk, and an impending surgery I’ll be recovering from in about six weeks (more on that later), this feels like the right time that will be stress-free for her and not painful for me.

For the past 18 months, our nursing sessions have always been accompanied by my phone in my lap. Bad habit, probably, but early on my phone served as a distraction when breastfeeding was painful, and then it was kind of a time killer when she wouldn’t stop pre-gaming before bed, and recently it has been a quiet time for me, away from the rest of my household and able to just rest my mind on quiet, brainless activity. But last night, for our final nursing session, I put my phone down, and drank her in, and told her all the reasons why I love her and why we went on this journey together. I cried. She had no idea. But I cried because this is my last baby. My second baby, and my only one to successfully breastfeed. I was sad when my pregnancy experience was over because I’d never know that again (and I’m also weird and liked being pregnant), and I was sad when she left the newborn stage because I’d never love another tiny, little baby again, and I was sad when she started walking because she’d never really need me to explore the world again. I know I sound like a total nutcase, but each milestone, though exciting, leaves me a little older and less needed by these wonderful daughters of mine. Well, I suppose less needed for this period of life (I anticipate being very needed when they want money for shopping or for soap opera breakups). But with each of these milestones achieved, I always knew I was still providing her nourishment and comfort with breastmilk. (That, and if we ended up like Tom Hanks on a deserted island with a volleyball, I could totally keep my family alive!) Now, though, I am two deflated B-cups away from having any biological purpose: I am finished making humans and finished feeding them. Send me out to pasture. Moooo.

As I sat in the comfy chair with Arielle during our last nursing session, I went through all of the major moments of our breastfeeding relationship and tears trickled down my cheeks. My mind showed me the good, the bad, and the ugly, like a time lapse of all the highs and lows of or our 18+ months together: from our first suckle in the hospital on 3/4/15 to the first successful feeding after her tongue tie release; to breastfeeding at Disneyland and on airplanes and at carnivals and Shabbat services to various dramatic blebs and plugged ducts that had me flirting with mastitis; to hating nursing and threatening to quit 13 times to accepting the amazing help of my husband who washed pump parts and set alarms and propped pillows; to having to change my diet completely in order to help Arielle’s digestion of my milk to over supply and under supply at various points of our journey; to sweating bullets while figuring out how to cover up at the mall when a screaming baby was frantically hungry and searching for food and comfort to not giving a shit about what other people thought and hoping to teach others less fortunate to understand and normalize breastfeeding and eventually leaving the Hooter Hider in the car in a fit of freedom; to hand expression when I realized it did more than my pump and blissful peaceful lazy weekend mornings cuddling in bed with Arielle at my breast while big sis and silly dog and daddy played around us; to the sisterhood of breastfeeding support groups and going from desperately needing the information to confidently sharing the information. I don’t regret it, though at times I thought I did. But now, looking back, I know that 18 months is no small feat and I cried because I was proud.

My job here is done. Boob drop.

My big girl is a party girl, probably thanks to her months and months of being up all night at the boob keg.

My big girl is a party girl, probably thanks to her months and months of being up all night at the boob keg.

The Name Game… Again

Just a little over four years ago, Madelyn had her baby naming at Temple Adat Elohim and it was perfectly planned and timed for an age when we were comfortable with keeping her out and up late. We made the date months in advance, I bought a new dress, and we carefully orchestrated the day around what was to come later that evening.

For the second time around in this first of of Jewish lifecycle events, Arielle’s baby naming took place in December. A month before, we realized she was nearing her first birthday and the holidays were about to explode all over the calendar, and we scrambled to get a date that worked for our families. It was so last minute, and while I did get to buy a new dress, it was out of necessity because nothing in my closet was fitting and I was suffering lots of breastfeeding problems that were causing engorgement (enjoy the photos below. Holy boobs).

From the minute we arrived, Arielle and Madelyn acted like they owned the place.

From the minute we arrived, Arielle and Madelyn acted like they owned the place.

Is it just me do the photos you deem most important usually come out most awkward? I so wish I could change a million things about this photo, but this was life in that very minute -- a teething baby, a distracted Madelyn, an exploding and painful chest...  Memories, folks.

Is it just me do the photos you deem most important usually come out most awkward? I so wish I could change a million things about this photo, but this was life in that very minute — a teething baby, a distracted Madelyn, an exploding and painful chest… Memories, folks.

To say that we threw Arielle’s baby naming together in a huff is an understatement, though our wonderful cantor and dear friend, David Shukiar, walked us through the brief ceremony and picking out her name. And repicking out her name. And picking it out again.

You see, selecting a name for Arielle was definitely not a fly-by-night part of the process, which, I suppose, is the actual most important part. We knew for certain we’d be honoring my mom’s dad, Jules, but weren’t sure how to go about doing so. Would we use his actual Hebrew name and call it a day? (We didn’t love it). Would we just use the first initial “J”? (Hard to do, since there’s no “J” in Hebrew). Would we go by the literal meaning and use the name that matches the definition? (Not as easy to match). Just when we’d found a combination with a meaning that worked, we didn’t necessarily like the way it sounded. Well, maybe that was me. Bryan was a lot less picky (shocker), but I was getting hung up on all kinds of little details because pronunciation is important. But with Hebrew, pronunciation can be hard.

And I know her Hebrew name is mostly only used for ceremonial purposes; we won’t be calling her down to dinner using her Hebrew name and she won’t be answering to it when she raises her hand in school. Still, though, I wanted it to sound pretty while also maintaining the integrity and memory of her great-grandfather.

At the baby naming in December, Bryan and I brought up our darling 9-month-old to the bimah and took turns sharing these words:



Generous and with the best smile. That’s how people described my Grandpa, Jules Kaplan, and Arielle Jane’s namesake. He was generous with his heart. His 3 daughters and their families always received such thoughtful gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Hanukkahs, and other simchas. He was also generous with his wallet, often giving to charities that he felt were important. (When cleaning out his office desk, we had found piles and piles of return address labels and wall calendars and other chazerai from all the philanthropies he gave to). He was always most proud to donate to Jewish organizations and projects that supported Israel.

The other remarkable trait that everyone commented on — from his dashing young army days to the end with his family by his side — was his smile. He was a very handsome man, and he always smiled at everyone from strangers to his 3 daughters that made him proud. He always had smiles for Madelyn, who he knew for 20 months. I can even remember my own school friends growing up and hanging out with my family, remarking on my Grandpa’s smile. If you were lucky, you even got a wink. Happy and joy oozed from that smile.

Two of many things that made my Grandpa smile: Cheering on his family members as he did when he came to see me in action at a UofA football game; and going to Dodger games with my dad -- he loved baseball.

Two of many things that made my Grandpa smile: Cheering on his family members as he did when he came to see me in action at a UofA football game; and going to Dodger games with my dad — he loved baseball.

While Arielle’s middle name, Jane, is in honor of her great grandfather Jules, we knew that we’d also want to incorporate these two traits of his in giving her her Hebrew name.

Semecha is the Hebrew word for Happy or Joyous. It just so happens that Arielle is one happy baby. She hands out smiles like candy and flashes her gums for anyone who catches her eye. She is full of joy, and in return, brings so much joy to us as well.

Netanya is the Hebrew word for Gift. The gifts that Alison’s Grandpa gave to everyone through his generosity is also parallel to the gift we have in Arielle. Every day with her feels like a present, and we know she’s special and unique like the best gifts are.


Arielle, we wish more than anything that you could have met my Grandpa. I know he would’ve been dazzled by your gorgeous smile with your scrunched up nose and sparkly eyes. I also know he would be proud of the person you will become, gifting people not only with your wonderful presence – the best present – but with your generosity and commitment to do your part to heal the world. We wanted you and waited for you, and in March you arrived, our perfect, little, joyous gift who completes our family. Your two great grandmothers, your four kvelling grandparents, your overjoyed mom and dad, and your partner in crime for life, Madelyn, could not be happier about the gift that you are to us and your community. We love you.

After the ceremony, we shared the rest of the Shabbat service and a Hanukkah candle lighting with our family and friends, surrounded by the community we’ve surrounded ourself with at temple. It was so nice to see so many of our friends from preschool, members from various committees we work with, and fellow chairs who are on Board of Directors with me.

So thankful for the friends I've made through Madelyn's preschool.

So thankful for the friends I’ve made through Madelyn’s preschool.

Also so thankful for lifelong friends whose special events we share together.

Also so thankful for lifelong friends whose special events we share together.

And especially thankful for this guy who is a devoted friend and shares his sweet family with us too, while also being a leader without whom we'd be lost. His beautiful voice, his poetic words, and his fountain of knowledge keep us coming back for more. We love our cantor and friend, David!

And especially thankful for this guy who is a devoted friend and shares his sweet family with us too, while also being a leader without whom we’d be lost. His beautiful voice, his poetic words, and his fountain of knowledge keep us coming back for more. We love our cantor and friend, David!

My Grandma and Grandpa created a big, beautiful family, and I’m so glad that my mom and her sisters were there to hear us speak about their dad. It was nice to have most of us together as another feather of remembrance in my Grandpa’s cap.

Four generations represented in this photo. My grandpa would've liked it a lot. It's just missing a few cousins and my uncle.

Four generations represented in this photo. My grandpa would’ve liked it a lot. It’s just missing a few cousins and my uncle.

Madelyn has asked a lot of questions about her baby naming and is already so interested in and proud about all the holidays and symbols she’s learned by being part of her Jewish community. I’m excited to watch Arielle connect with her version of this community over the years, and she hit the jackpot having her big sister to show her the way.

  1. Mimi
    4/17/2016 8:15 PM

    Dear adorable Arielle,
    I am so happy & grateful that you carry a part of Grandy with your Hebrew & given name. We will share lots of stories about him with you & you’ll know what a generous person he was. I know if he was still here he’d always flash his handsome smile at the sight of you & your big sister.
    You are so loved! <3