Amazing Arielle Archive

Arielle Is One!

What the heck happened to the first year of my baby’s life? It went faster than my legs on their way to lunch at In N Out (that toasted bun, man). I legit could not keep up with all events and milestones and monthiversaries. And the minute I wanted to really slow down and soak it all in, my household was sick with a bug during the days leading up to Arielle’s birthday.

It didn’t help, too, that I was stressed out from planning a party while nursing Bryan back to health and crossing every bone in my body that I didn’t get sick, too. I am proud to say that I never did, but Madelyn did get fevers that were more fickle than ping pong balls at a tournament, and finally ended up with an ear infection. So, enjoying those final days with my baby as a baby was pretty difficult. I wallowed, yes, and even though I knew Arielle would never know that her actual first birthday on March 4th pretty much sucked, I was sad that memories of her first days with us were upstaged by thermometers and popsicles being juggled through the house.

We did enjoy a “happy birthday” song at preschool after I dropped off Madelyn. Arielle and I sat on the bimah and Madelyn was her spokesperson (business as usual), sharing her name and age with the crowd. Arielle didn’t have a total meltdown during her 15 seconds of fame, so I call that a win. That was the highlight of the day.

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Shortly after, Madelyn came home from school with a very sudden fever and I yelled a lot of swear words about that. There was no special outing or birthday dinner for Arielle. I don’t think I even had time to get emotional like I normally would because I was so busy Florence Nightingale-ing it up. Maybe that’s a good thing. Thanks, germs, for the distraction.

I will share that on her first birthday, Arielle woke up with 2.5 teeth and those teeth are really helping get that food to her belly, because the chunk was finally starting to roll out. Her weigh-in was 19.5 pounds and while she’d once been a petite lil thing, she jumped from 9-month clothes to 12-month clothes almost over night.

By 12 months, her crawling was non-stop with no desire to choose to walk instead. Shrug. Whatevs. When Arielle climbs up the stairs on all fours, she swears she’s reached the top of Mt. Everest.

Blowing kisses and clapping and waving and giving high-5s were all of her mastered party tricks. She also suddenly became aware of bows and headbands on her head (boooo) and started to show her dissatisfaction with these accessories (Madelyn went through the same thing at the same age and now look at her! Accessory whore! She doesn’t want to take off a tiara to wash her hair).

At 12 months, Arielle’s favorite foods are fruits, veggies, grains, dairy, and fats. Yes. The entire pyramid. The girl is a bottomless pit. She just does not stop eating. One day she may become a picky eater because I’ve seen this movie before, but right now, she just loves food. I do too. But the rolls on my thighs are not nearly as cute.

I managed to get a few snaps of Arielle on her first birthday.

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Two days after her birthday, it was party time. Bryan was finally recovered and Madelyn’s fever couldn’t make up its mind about staying or going. She had no other symptoms other than a fever that I would later find out was due to an ear infection. I quarantined her to her room for most of the party just to be on the safe side, and we were all so sad about it. I wanted to celebrate my littlest baby, while wanting to ditch the party to cuddle with my biggest baby who was devastated to be missing out. Thankfully Princeton was like, “I’m fine. You’re welcome.”

Arielle loves to jam to music. Since the beginning, her little body has always grooved to any beat she hears, so I thought it was fitting to have a music gal come and do a big toddler music session. Amy Tibert of Rise & Sing put on a great little show and had all the kiddos dancing and playing. And since Arielle is such a bright and cheery presence, I threw together a loose rainbow hearts theme with the decor. It was a fun and crafty party for me to design. Lots of paper decorations and lots of sprinkles!

Party recaps are best done through photos, but these parties are always a labor of love and I secretly love-hate these big ones. I love having our family and friends together to celebrate my kiddo, but the work that goes into it makes me a crazy lady. I so appreciate my mom swooping in to lend me a hand when my usual party-planning partner was down for the count the week of the bash.

Who needs sleep when you can be making this sign into the wee hours of the night three days before the party?

Who needs sleep when you can be making this sign into the wee hours of the night three days before the party?

So, I have this thing for banners.

So, I have this thing for banners.

Salty and sweet  (just like the birthday girl) pretzel treats left my house sprinkles-y for days, but we/Princeton handled it just fine.

Salty and sweet (just like the birthday girl) pretzel treats left my house sprinkles-y for days, but we/Princeton handled it just fine.

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And P.S. — note to ovaries: thanks for deciding to get us pregnant in June and giving us a March baby which makes party planning a total nightmare because the battle of Indoor vs. Outdoor is uglier than anything you’d see on Game of Thrones. I was a wreck watching the weather, which, by the way, was gorgeous and perfect and sunny and in the 80s for two weeks before the party and then did the whole “Oh! It’s March! I forgot it’s supposed to be El Niño! Here’s the rain I must deliver!” So, indoor party with children and sugar … I’m such a glutton for punishment. I will say, though, that everything was fabulous, and everyone had a great time especially the little birthday girl herself.

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The music was so fun for the kiddos as they played with different instruments and puppets and a parachute. Even the big kids were dancing and showing the little ones what to do.

Arielle got to sit in the middle of the parachute and she loved the breeze whooshing through her incoming wispy hair as we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

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Madelyn observed from the balcony seating aka the stairs outside her room while Poppa and Grandpa took turns keeping her company.

Madelyn observed from the balcony seating aka the stairs outside her room while Poppa and Grandpa took turns keeping her company.

Madelyn was fever-free and seemed to brighten up a bit, so she came down to check out the party just as Amy, the music leader gave all the kids a chance to sing “Happy Birthday” solos on the microphone. It was so sweet how a lot of Madelyn’s adorable preschool friends performed for the birthday girl who they all know and adore. I wasn’t sure if Madelyn was feeling the vibe, but she not only asked to sing, she did a rockstar job!

Hey, Seacrest. Get back on TV. We have a new American Idol!

Hey, Seacrest. Get back on TV. Dim the lights. We have a new American Idol!

Once the music portion of the party was over, it was chow time for most of the guests and I finally got a chance to schmooze with all of our fabulous friends. I love having all my favorite people in our home to celebrate good times. There’s really nothing that makes me happier than fluttering around and visiting with all the wonderful families we’ve met in recent years from preschool and baby groups, or people we’ve known for what seems like forever from college or theater or our expanded family. It was during this portion of the party that I realized all the hard work was worth it.

Cousins Arielle and Jordan enjoy lunch with the original Friedman ladies.

Cousins Arielle and Jordan enjoy lunch with the original Friedman ladies.

Meeting new moms with Arielle has been so enjoyable. We have a good little group with cute kids and fun mamas.

Meeting new moms with Arielle has been so enjoyable. We have a good little group with cute kids and fun mamas.

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And then it was cake time. Or, as Arielle might have described it: BORINGZZZZZZZZZ. She was quite underwhelmed.

That’s right. Who participated in the most disappointing cake smash ever? Arielle Jane Friedman. Yup. She looked at her cake like, “Oh how nice,” and then couldn’t be bothered to dig in. The girl who shoots up milk like she’s a Breaking Bad character and the girl who can’t. stop. eating. bagels was negative 72 enthused about eating sugary bread with sugar goo and colorful sugared crunchies. So for anyone who considers first birthday cake smashes a spectator sport, this was a disappointing display. Instead, my generous babe dipped her finger into the frosting and tried to feed it to ME. I mean, I didn’t mind, but I was fresh off a Whole30 and didn’t want to steal her spotlight with my own personal adult cake smash. So instead, we looked like a couple on their wedding day, delicately feeding each other cake. Oh and since she hardly touched it, I spent the next three days finishing it myself. (Whole30, what?)

She didn't understand why we light our food on fire.

She didn’t understand why we light our food on fire.

Perhaps it was because I was  emotionally unstable and losing my mind while singing my girl "Happy Birthday" with 70 of our closest friends and family that Arielle was silently judging me.

Perhaps it was because I was emotionally unstable and losing my mind while singing my girl “Happy Birthday” with 70 of our closest friends and family that Arielle was silently judging me.

Sentimental she was not. Arielle was all business.  Fun fact: this is the only photo of the 4 of us from the entire party.

Sentimental she was not. Arielle was all business.
Fun fact: this is the only photo of the 4 of us from the entire party.

"VAT EES THEES DEES-GUSTING SHTUFF EEN MY FEENGERS? SAVAGES! GET ME A VIPE."

“VAT EES THEES DEES-GUSTING SHTUFF EEN MY FEENGERS? SAVAGES! GET ME A VIPE.”

After this, we went to Hawaii on our honeymoon.

After this, we went to Hawaii on our honeymoon.

Eventually she got a little more into it once she realized that cake is really delicious. Thank goodness. I was about to start doing DNA tests to make sure she was actually my daughter.

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Then the bride baby cheated on me and did romantic cake exchanges with Bryan.

Then the bride baby cheated on me and did romantic cake exchanges with Bryan.

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And that’s that. The infancy stage of motherhood is over. No more babies in this house. To say I was super emotional about that for weeks before her birthday is an understatement. But now that we’ve crossed the other side, it’s fine. She didn’t turn into a toddler overnight. In fact, Arielle is still very much a baby since she isn’t walking and doesn’t have any words for communication yet. She seems to be on her older sister’s heels of developmental milestones, and I’m OK with that. She’s on Arielle time, and for now, it’s still baby o’clock. And as long as she’ll let me, I’ll kiss her and nuzzle her and enjoy her soft skin and clean perfume.

A year with Arielle has been a delight and even though she keeps us on our toes with a feisty attitude and a decisive sense of determination, she’s still our silly little cuddle bug who’s brought so much joy to our completed family. Happy first birthday, Arielle. We are all crazy about you.

  1. Mimi
    4/12/2016 9:47 PM

    Happy 1st Birthday, adorable Arielle! Not only do I LOVE you, I’m crazy about you too! ? Keep dancing & singing like its 2016!

Months in Double Digits and Almost a Single Year

by Alison Friedman in Amazing Arielle, Monthiversaries

Arielle got her big juicy recap and then even more time flew by. Seriously. Why does time do that? I am not capable of accepting this reality.

But here she is at 10 and 11 months and only a few days shy of turning ONE!

31 days and a zillion heart beats of love between these two photos.

31 days and a zillion heart beats of love between these two photos.

By 10 months, she had both her bottom teeth finally in and the Niagara Falls of drool told me that her top teeth were near.

Crawling became a regular thing, with unequal leg strength giving her a funny waddle to her scoot. But nothing stopped this rugrat from wanting to grab her favorite things like iPhones, uncapped tubes of diaper cream, and dirty shoes on the floor. The toys and other baby-approved items? Pish posh. If it didn’t have germs or danger or inconvenience all over it, she didn’t want it.

Ten months is also when she picked up on similar eating habits of high school football players or the guys at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Arielle has become a bottomless pit for food. She can go through puffs and bananas and blueberries and pancakes and yogurt and roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli and scrambled eggs without even taking a breath. I am getting tendinitis from the constant mechanics of the feeding motions. If I don’t spoon something in fast enough, I see steam come out of her ears like she’s doing her best Donald Duck impression. I would say I have no idea where she gets this, but I’ve spent 10 years with her father, so I know where her love of food comes from (and who am I kidding? I have a strong, um, appreciation for food, too).

Arielle, 10 months

Arielle, 10 months

By 11 months, Arielle was mastering what she started to discover at 10 months.

Her crawling really finessed and her weaker leg seems to have caught up a little more so that her leg work is more balanced.

Diaper changes are officially wrestling matches. All she wants to do is roll over. Right now, she is small enough that I can hold her down with my one palm spread out on her belly to stabilize her, but if she keeps growing like a weed (all thanks to her eating frenzy), I’m going to need to call in for reinforcements. The absolute worst is when she has a diaper blowout situation and I have to manage her rolling while trying to avoid a mess. This is especially fun when we are on the go. I think that the evolution of man should include extra arms for moms. Ya hear, Darwin?

We are also now giving Arielle standing ovations for standing! She pulls herself up onto anything just to get a better view of her world around her. When she first started doing this, it was darling to see how proud she was of herself. I think her mastery of standing up has also helped to strengthen her legs for her expert crawling status. Developmental milestones working together for the win!

She also has her party tricks that are fun. In addition to doing “The Face” on command (when she wants to), she also loves to clap hands, wave hello and goodbye, and give kisses. Her wave is borderline Rose Parade Queen-worthy and her kisses are more like a mouth-to-mouth press (Dear Strangers: Please do not ask my child for a kiss), but with every new trick, I realize that she’s becoming more of her own little person.

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She’s almost 12 months old, and I’m having a hard time letting go of this “baby” stage. The problem is, is that I think she actually looks much younger than her other 12-month-old counterparts. Maybe she’ll enjoy looking young when she’s 45, but for now, I am tricked into thinking that she’s still only 8 or 9 months old. The calendar says she’s basically 1, my eyes say she is more like 8 months, and my heart says she’s forever my little baby.

She’s had quite a few adventures in recent months that I can’t wait to write about, and with the first birthday coming up this Friday, I am thankful for this special year as a mom. It was the fastest one ever, and bittersweet to boot. Everything this year was “the last” — the last first time trying new foods, the last time carrying an infant car seat, the last time a favorite hand-me-down from Madelyn gets worn. Everything with Madelyn was always about her firsts. Everything with Arielle has been all about our lasts. Her firsts are our lasts. These feelings parallel my feelings in the final days of what we knew would be my last pregnancy, so while it’s all happy things that we are fortunate and lucky to enjoy, they’re also fleeting. That’s hard for an emotional wreck gal like me.

Next time I update about my baby girl, it will be about her 12th month and a whole year that’s zoomed by. We say “this too shall pass” in regards to difficult phases and stages (“I’M SO TIRED OMGGG” — this too shall pass. “MY BOOBS ARE KILLING ME!” — this too shall pass. “SHE WON’T STOP THROWING FOOD ON THE FLOOR. STAAAAHP.” — this too shall pass.). But all the happy moments pass, too, before new happy moments happen, and they shall, but not without me being a little weepy and sentimental about it.

  1. 2/28/2016 5:44 PM

    I can’t believe she’s going to be one so soon!! Ahh our babies will be toddlers!

So, About That Baby…

Remember that time I had a second baby and I blogged about her all the time? No? Me neither.

Madelyn's serenades make Arielle fall in love with her big sister every time.

Madelyn’s serenades make Arielle fall in love with her big sister every time.

Here’s the thing. Arielle was born in March. Then I was in my little new mama-again cocoon for about 6 weeks. Then, that 6 weeks turned into 12 weeks because the struggle was real. Then, I wanted to report back that everything was super easy breezy, but it wasn’t because breastfeeding. And then at around 6 months when things were in their groove, it felt too late to start recapping Arielle. It’s kind of like dieting in December: why start now? May as well just keep eating.

But the guilt. Ooohhhhh, the guilt. The thing is, Arielle is now almost 10 months and she’s such a little delight. She’s just so sweet and cuddly and fun, but it wasn’t always that way. Through no fault of her own, she was actually born a little cranky. Well, her tummy was. After I finally started to get over the hump of the difficulties of breastfeeding, I noticed that she never really settled and got content after eating. I mean, after I devour a chocolate cake with fudge filling, I am happier than an ant at a picnic, so I couldn’t figure out why she would scream and writhe and scrunch after eating.

So then came the elimination diet. Goodbye pizza. Goodbye ice cream. Goodbye buttery mashed potatoes. If an ingredient ever came from a mooing female mammal, it was out. If it had any kind of soy in it, it was also out. That didn’t leave a lot of options for this picky eater. And after two weeks, wow, what a difference! Baby Arielle was a whole new woman. The elimination of soy and dairy from my diet completely changed her, and it was clear her tummy was much happier. Feeding times became relaxing — for both of us — and she no longer twisted in pain. My taste buds, however, longingly flooded for all my favorite foods.

I continued this diet for approximately three months for Arielle’s comfort and happiness. And through it all, I didn’t lose an ounce. Everyone told me that the upside of my deprivation/Arielle’s relief was that I’d get super skinny. Maniacal laugh. It’s not easy to blog about your baby when you’re just dyin’ for a hot fudge sundae, but you look like you ate one anyway. I never knew I could crave a Caesar salad until I couldn’t have a Caesar salad. Oh, and sleep wasn’t happening. All these feeding issues, boob drama, and multiple wake ups can really take a toll on a woman’s desire to get all warm and fuzzy. In this part of Arielle’s babyhood, I was just coasting. Getting through to the next step.

Arielle saw the Dodgers play 3 times in her first 6 months of life. That's pretty impressive (thank you Auntie Pattie & Uncle Barry) and she became a fangirl just like her sis and parents and, maybe even most importantly, her Poppa!

Arielle saw the Dodgers play 3 times in her first 6 months of life. That’s pretty impressive (thank you Auntie Pattie & Uncle Barry) and she became a fangirl just like her sis and parents and, maybe even most importantly, her Poppa!

In all honesty, that’s how her first half of her year was: Let’s just get through to the next step. The problem with being a second time parent is that you know what comes next. Everything with Madelyn was fresh and new. Every poop she made was so exciting, the next one better than the last. It’s not to say that Arielle’s poops are unexciting (they are! Yay poop!), but I now have a gauge for good/better/best, and having been through four years with Madelyn, in hindsight, every year is even better! So Arielle sitting in her high chair for the first time? Yeah, totally cool. Go Arielle. But I KNOW how great it is when a baby turns into a totally composed toddler with fine motor skills and how cool it is when she can sit in a chair. By herself. And eat with a fork.

Between the rough start, frustrating middle, and knowledge of what’s to come, it’s been difficult to put into words my experience as a second timer in the mom department. And through it all, I love her more than I could have imagined. That is definitely my greatest a-ha! of the whole journey. Arielle completed our family and it went from warm and cozy to bursting at the seams with trust and love and laughter and teamwork. We thought we had it so great with Madelyn — and we did! — but Arielle took us from all A+ grades in AP classes with valedictorian status to free ride to Harvard. Bryan and I have learned way more about each other as parents and teammates because Arielle has also taught us to divide and conquer, and also to come together in a two-brains-are-better-than-one kind of way.

Arielle was such an excellent traveler during her first vacation. She was great on both plane rides, dealt with a crazy no-schedule sleep schedule, and got carted around to meals and attractions like it was no big whoop. We can't wait to show her more and more!

Arielle was such an excellent traveler during her first vacation. She was great on both plane rides, dealt with a crazy no-schedule sleep schedule, and got carted around to meals and attractions like it was no big whoop. We can’t wait to show her more and more!

So, Arielle hasn’t been all challenges and uphill battles; No, she’s been perfect all along, but her presence is allowing us to experience more and learn additional roles as parents. And that can be hard. We know all the greatness to come because her big sister has paved such a wonderful path, and I have a sneak peek into the joys of toddlerhood, and language acquisition, and physical achievements, and the end of teething, and Sesame Street marathons, and walking shoes, and imagination, and goodnight stories, and potty success, and the returned cuddles and “I love you”s.

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But for the sake of “better late than never…” here’s Arielle by the month!

One Month: Arielle ate every 2 to 3 hours like clockwork… including during the middle of the night! She liked to cuddle and sleep. She also snoozed a lot. Did I mention she liked to sleep? She wore size newborn diapers for an entire month and wore a lot of her sister’s newborn outfits.

One Month: Arielle ate every 2 to 3 hours like clockwork… including during the middle of the night! She liked to cuddle and sleep. She also snoozed a lot. Did I mention she liked to sleep? She wore size newborn diapers for an entire month and wore a lot of her sister’s newborn outfits.

2 Months: Arielle started to do more tummy time and tolerated it ... in a mediocre way. She wore size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothes. She loved to look around by tracking everything with her eyes and was very alert. She discovered her big sister, Madelyn, and began to realize that she would soon become her most favorite person in the world.

2 Months: Arielle started to do more tummy time and tolerated it … in a mediocre way. She wore size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothes. She loved to look around by tracking everything with her eyes and was very alert. She discovered her big sister, Madelyn, and began to realize that she would soon become her most favorite person in the world.

3 Months: Snoozing happened swaddle-free and we also went cold turkey on the pacifier. Both things were keeping her from sleeping and that was unacceptable, obv. She started to flirt with the idea of rolling and the smiles, though not completely out to play in this photo, were becoming a regular on her little punim.

3 Months: Snoozing happened swaddle-free and we also went cold turkey on the pacifier. Both things were keeping her from sleeping and that was unacceptable, obv. She started to flirt with the idea of rolling and the smiles, though not completely out to play in this photo, were becoming a regular on her little punim.

4 Months: Arielle celebrated America's Independence with all of her friends and a fireworks show on her 4th month with us. The smiles and rolling were in full force and she welcomed diaper changes (size 2) as opportunities to play and giggle with her mom and dad. She loved to explore textures and lights that she discovered in a baby class with baby pals.

4 Months: Arielle celebrated America’s Independence with all of her friends and a fireworks show on her 4th month with us. The smiles and rolling were in full force and she welcomed diaper changes (size 2) as opportunities to play and giggle with her mom and dad. She loved to explore textures and lights that she discovered in a baby class with baby pals.

5 Months: Frequent Flyer miles collection began -- Arielle took her first plane ride to Seattle and loved exploring the suburbs and the city. She also attended her first birthday party -- her sister's 4th! She fit into 3-6 month clothes and size 2 diapers, rolling all over and working on balanced sitting.

5 Months: Frequent Flyer miles collection began — Arielle took her first plane ride to Seattle and loved exploring the suburbs and the city. She also attended her first birthday party — her sister’s 4th! She fit into 3-6 month clothes and size 2 diapers, rolling all over and working on balanced sitting.

6 Months:  Half a year down, and Arielle mastered sitting up in September. Along with sitting up, her spitting up was becoming a little less regular, and she began to consume dairy again with no trouble. Hooray for pizza!  (for Mom). She also had her first non-milk foods like purees and cereal. Eating is a favorite pasttime, which explains her 6-9 month clothing size and size 3 diapers.

6 Months: Half a year down, and Arielle mastered sitting up in September. Along with sitting up, her spitting up was becoming a little less regular, and she began to consume dairy again with no trouble. Hooray for pizza! (for Mom). She also had her first non-milk foods like purees and cereal. Eating is a favorite pasttime, which explains her 6-9 month clothing size and size 3 diapers.

7 Months: No crawling yet, but Arielle loved to sprawl out on her tummy and flip her limbs around, perhaps thinking about the idea of maybe considering the possibility of one day potentially crawling... in the future. Oh, and no big deal, but sleep happened. Like, no more nighttime feedings (her idea) and 12 hours of solid sleep (also her idea). Mama was in heaven during month seven!

7 Months: No crawling yet, but Arielle loved to sprawl out on her tummy and flip her limbs around, perhaps thinking about the idea of maybe considering the possibility of one day potentially crawling… in the future. Oh, and no big deal, but sleep happened. Like, no more nighttime feedings (her idea) and 12 hours of solid sleep (also her idea). Mama was in heaven during month seven!

8 Months: One tooth in and another on the way changed this little girl's gummy smile and she suddenly looks older! She also got really vocal all of a sudden, babbling lots of stories and opinions that only she understands. Size 3 diapers and 6-12 month clothing keep her warm as we head into winter.

8 Months: One tooth in and another on the way changed this little girl’s gummy smile and she suddenly looks older! She also got really vocal all of a sudden, babbling lots of stories and opinions that only she understands. Size 3 diapers and 6-12 month clothing keep her warm as we head into winter.

9 Months: As evidenced by the photo, Arielle is not interested in laying down and staying still. At 9 months, toys and books are her favorite non-Madelyn objects and a special flavor of crawling is in progress: No tushie up in the air, but the girl gets around with her arms and push-offs from her feet. But really, she is perfectly content to sit like a lady and play quietly with her toys or munch on Puffs.

9 Months: As evidenced by the photo, Arielle is not interested in laying down and staying still. At 9 months, toys and books are her favorite non-Madelyn objects and a special flavor of crawling is in progress: No tushie up in the air, but the girl gets around with her arms and push-offs from her feet. But really, she is perfectly content to sit like a lady and play quietly with her toys or munch on Puffs.

Disneyland Party of 4: New & Improved and Now With Pro Tips!

I never thought we’d be those crazy people to bring a new baby to Disneyland, but we joined that club. It was a perfect storm that made it almost impossible not to. It was my birthday. We hadn’t been in months due to that whole pregnancy thing. And our annual passes are set to expire in August and it’s unknown if/when we will renew (the answer, I’m sure, is yes). So we just kinda … had to go.

Disneyland with Madelyn was a routine that we finessed in the past two years. I’d even done a few trips with Madelyn just by myself with no help. So when it comes to taking a toddler to see The Mouse, it’s a no brainer. But with an almost three-month-old in the mix? We were nervous. We had considered leaving Arielle at home, but with the boob thing and imposing on others to watch her, that was almost impossible. So, we went into it with low to no expectations and figured it would just be a difficult day.

Well. I’m glad to say we were wrong! The beautiful thing about taking a new baby to Disneyland is that the baby just sleeps the day away. She had no idea — nor any care! — about where she was, and frankly, that was OK with us. Madelyn still got to enjoy all her usual favorites and we had the bonus of extra storage in the double stroller! Score! (I will mourn the day my kids are out of strollers and we will have to utilize Disney lockers again!)

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Having Arielle with us just meant that if she was sleeping or couldn’t go on a ride due to size requirements, Bryan and I would split up and one would stay with the baby and one would go with the big kid. We took turns doing just that, and I didn’t even mind the breaks with the baby because sitting and people-watching at Disneyland is almost as fun and entertaining as the attractions.

Our favorite ride is Soarin’ Over California at Disney California Adventure and we were so excited that Madelyn was finally tall enough to go! Thank goodness for a couple wisps of hair because she just baaaaaarely made the 40-inch minimum. She went on with Bryan first while I waited with a snoozing Arielle and all I could think about was that Madelyn would lose her mind over going up in the glider — and not in a good way. She doesn’t even love the swings at the park, so motion and a big movie with a total sensory experience seemed like a bad idea, but hey, I was outside relaxing with a baby while watching a family in all matching t-shirts figure out how a Fast Pass works. A Madelyn Meltdown was Bryan’s problem. So, color me wrong when 20 minutes later, a proud Bryan walked behind a galloping Madelyn with the greatest smile on her face. “MOMMY!! WE WENT OVER THE OCEAN AND I SMELLED TREES AND IT WAS LIKE A PLANE WITH NO WINDOWS!!!!!!!!” She loved it.

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So then I got to take a turn with my girl! It was so much fun to see her reaction a second time around. And I loved it more than I ever had before.

DISNEYLAND WITH KIDS PRO TIP #1:
Rider switch is so great!! When you get to the cast member at the front, tell him or her that you have a baby that is staying with one parent. That way, when the other parent wants a turn to go on the ride, the other parent doesn’t have to re-wait in line again and they move on to the “on deck” portion of the line (basically, the second parent avoids the zig-zags). This is called Rider Switch or Child Switch — they’ll know what you mean. Since we had Fast Passes for Soarin’ Over California, we really waited no time at all, maybe ten minutes each time.

We decided to take advantage of a baby who continued to sleep and eat lunch. As all parents know, the moment you get hot food in front of you, that’s when babies decide to wake up and be needy. Thankfully, Arielle cooperated while we enjoyed lunch right next door to Soarin’. Having an extra adult IS helpful since while Bryan ordered for us, Madelyn and I snagged a table that also accommodated the bus. I mean, double stroller. While we waited, Maddie and I talked about all the things we wanted to do the rest of the day. She’s such a little Disney expert. ‘

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Our first ride that included Arielle was The Little Mermaid ride, Madelyn’s all-time favorite. While Arielle stared out into the acid trip that is music, colors, and movement by cartoony mannequins, Madelyn danced and sang along with each part of the ride, narrating to her rookie little sister what was happening. Arielle could not care less. Another day in babyland.

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When it comes to rides that babies can go on, have one parent handle the big kid and the diaper bag and another parent handle just the baby. On some rides, babies can be worn in a carrier, but I didn’t even whip out my carrier because it was just too hot to wear the baby and she was totally fine laying down in the stroller. It was less stressful to assign this combination between us parents because getting on and off rides can sometimes resemble a gymnastics event, and only having to think about the baby (instead of the baby and the bag and the big kid) was less stressful.

We meandered through California Adventure for a few more hours with no agenda whatsoever. It was easy to avoid the area that caters toward older kids and instead, we just found ourself moseying around and enjoying whatever we stumbled upon.

Like Vintage Minnie! Madelyn is still a big time Minnie fan, so she was super excited to meet her in this great outfit. Minnie signed Madelyn’s autograph book and then spent some time with Arielle. She played with her toes and gave her lots of kisses. Arielle stared blankly at her, not even fazed by this gigantic mouse with eyelashes in her face. Oh, babies.

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Then Minnie used her amazing Mouse Sign Language to ask what her name was and when Maddie told her “Arielle,” Minnie, ever so original, proceeded to hold her nose and dive down, as if she were a mermaid swimming in the water. “Oh Minnie,” I told her. “It’s Arielle, not Ariel!” and then she silently giggled and wrote in the air with her gloved hands “R,” “E,” “L” and then I high fived her. Madelyn loved all the attention both she and her sister received from Mrs. Mouse.

Maybe it was having her little sis with her for the first time, or maybe she is just growing up, but Madelyn was suddenly eager to go on rides that she used to be afraid of. The sounds and darkness of the Monsters, Inc. ride always frightened Madelyn so I’ve been conditioned to walking right by it. But this time, she saw the big pink door that belongs to Boo and asked to go on. I was shocked. But happy! I love that little ride and it’s one that we can all go on together, so that was a nice bonus.

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Instead of being scared, Madelyn protected her sister with, “Don’t worry, Arielle! They’re monsters, but they’re not really mean!” Arielle breathed a deep sigh of relief. Or passed gas. Who knows.

Around the corner from Monsters, Inc. was the new-ish “Frozen” pavilion that we hadn’t seen. It opened up just around the time I stopped going to Disneyland a few months before Arielle’s arrival. We walked over to see a super short line to meet Olaf. Madelyn is not a typical Frozen Fanatic like a lot of other girls her age. She likes it and all, but doesn’t aspire to be Elsa or Anna, so I even though she didn’t go totally gaga over the friendly snowman, we all figured we would enjoy some warm hugs on a hot day because it was new.

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And conveniently, the “Frozen” sing along show was next door so we decided to give that a whirl in the name of trying new things. It replaced the Muppet 3D show which I adored because Muppets. I was looking forward to seeing this new “Frozen” show because I assumed it would be stellar and entertaining. Oh, and there was air conditioning. As we waited to go in the actual theater, Arielle fell asleep but then as soon as it was time to go in and get seats, she got hungry.

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Shows make great places to feed babies since you can multitask; family fun isn’t interrupted and the baby gets to eat. Everyone wins. Bonus points for breastfeeders: dark theaters give you a little privacy and everyone is so focused on the entertainment that nobody is looking at your boobs. Usually, shows are dark and there’s lots of ambient noise, so the baby can go to town without too many distractions and you can also look at something while you’re feeding.

The “Frozen” show started and I was quickly underwhelmed. Five minutes in and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It was a really super loose script that narrated the chunks of the movie during which the screen played the song parts of the film with words to sing along with. The live narrators were fine even though their material was horrible, but the live “Frozen” characters that sporadically came out totally phoned it in. I expected a lot more from Disney on this attraction. It was tossed together and quality was sacrificed, but oh well because “Frozen” lovers will love it anyway. Even Madelyn seemed bored and I thought the best part of the whole show was the indoor air conditioning and the rest that my feet got.

We crossed over to Disneyland for some old fashioned Disney fun, and went straight to It’s A Small World. I was curious to see if Arielle would react because the famous Sherman Brothers song is one that always works to get her calm when she’s crying, but as usual, she just looked around and had no idea what all the fuss was about.

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Our only “Oops” of the day happened as we were exiting the boat. Bryan’s long, lean legs got a little excited and too close to Madelyn’s face, so as he stepped out, his foot made contact with her cheekbone. I saw a bruise already forming so through her screams — oy! the guilt! — we rushed over to the first aid center to get some ice. The deed was done, though, and she endured some swelling and black-and-blue there. The nurses could clearly see the anguish in the poor dad’s face, so they wrote up a coupon for a free ice cream to redeem anywhere in the park by the end of the day. Madelyn cheered up — which was a relief to Bryan — and we were on our way, beat up but not beat down.

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You know what makes little girls feel better after getting kicked in the head? Princesses. We caught up with the girls at Madelyn’s favorite stop in all of Disneyland. As usual, the line was about 45 minutes, so Bryan stood in line while Madelyn and I walked around with Arielle in the stroller.

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Want your baby to sleep in the stroller? Both my kids have successfully napped at Disneyland without having to go back to a hotel all thanks to the magical Disney cobblestone. There’s sleep dust in that groundwork. As long as the stroller is moving and going over cobblestone or wooden paths or anything with a bumpety-bump, my kids sleep. I imagine kids who cry in the car won’t have success with this, but kids who go to sleep with motion (mine! yay!) will also conk out in the stroller as long as they’re moving over ground with texture. This is how we got Arielle to sleep the day away and make things easy for us!

We stood in front of the castle and I snapped pics of Madelyn with the diamond anniversary decor. We also killed time by walking over to Snow White’s wishing well and we listened to her sing. Finally, we browsed some shops and Madelyn made friends with mannequins as she does when we shop anywhere. Time passed quickly, and then we were ready to see the princesses.

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When we went in, we knew we’d see Snow White and Cinderella, but there was also a surprise princess. For the first time, Madelyn met Jasmine and she was a little timid as she took her in. By the end of their meet up, though, they were good friends. That must’ve been some magic carpet they were standing on. Ba-dum ch!

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As dinner time drew close, we were getting hungry. We were unsuccessful landing reservations at our favorite restaurants the day before when I looked online for slots, but we tried to get in on standby at the Thunder Ranch BBQ and we were seated shortly after. This is the best meal and deal at Disneyland! The food is delicious and plentiful! It’s all-you-can-eat BBQ and it’s REALLY yummy! The service is great and there’s usually a little show that the kids enjoy during dinner.

For what you get and the quality of food, it’s reasonably priced too (for Disneyland at least) so I highly recommend it, especially to big groups. They also accommodate diet limitations, and since I’m ditching dairy and soy in exchange for a happy breastfed baby (OMG Arielle was a nightmare until I did this), the chef came out to talk to me and shared how I would be accommodated and still enjoy my meal. I was and I did!

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Since the restaurant is right next door to the Big Thunder Ranch petting farm, while we waited for our table, I took Madelyn to see her goat friends. They’re so cute and well behaved. So many people don’t know about this little petting area. Sometimes Clarabelle the cow and a horse are there, but the goats are almost always out. It’s a great way to let little ones run around in a contained area, especially if another parent and the baby are waiting in line somewhere else and the older kid doesn’t have patience to wait. Keep in touch with the cell phones and voila! Happy children and happy parents! Also, hand washing stations there for the win! Sometimes I go there just to wash hands when I want to avoid crowded, stuffy bathrooms, assuming I don’t have to actually use the potty.

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It was almost parade time and I heard that the new parade was not to be missed; that it was like the Electrical Parade on crack. So while Bryan and Madelyn set up camp and got a spot on Main Street to wait for the parade, I fed Arielle in the Baby Care Center just off of Main Street.

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I’d always heard what a haven this place was, and it really was. While I am OK with nursing in public, it was kind of nice to also have a mostly private area and legit chair to sit in and feed the baby.


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There are outlets in the Baby Care Center. That may mean pumping area to some, or phone charging stations to others. So yes, I fed my baby and fed my phone. It was truly a win-win. Also, a serving of air conditioning.

I met some nice moms in there and it became a breastfeeding support group. Disneyland is magical that way. It was kind of funny that we all agreed we were comfortable nursing our babies throughout Disneyland, but that we came solely for the cooling off. Really, though, this place is great and I recommend it since they also have a large baby changing area, tiny potties for older tots, and a kitchenette with a microwave and high chairs.

The new parade was awesome, despite being very loud. I would recommend bringing ear plugs or covering a baby’s ears. You can’t really avoid the speakers — they’re everywhere! It’s a super cool parade to watch, but I have major concerns about the damage that the sound is doing to kids’ ears. Other Disney pros told us to stay on Main Street for the new fireworks show that would happen shortly after the parade. But, it was not to be. About 3.75 raindrops fell from the sky and a leaf fluttered once or twice on a nearby tree and it was Storm Watch 2015. The fireworks show was canceled and we were so sad! Madelyn cried. Actually, lots of kids cried. And then we were stuck in a waterfall of angry people who wanted to get out of the park.

Once we got out of the crowd, we continued walking around the different lands. Bryan and Madelyn went on Pirates of the Caribbean while a sleeping Arielle and I watched nighttime happen around the park — romantic couples, kids with light up toys, teenagers on the prowl.

We explored a few more areas and then at 11 p.m., we redeemed that ice cream voucher at Gibson Girl that we received from the nurses at first aid.


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If you want a treat before you leave the park — we always do! Holding onto Disney magic in our hearts… and on our thighs — go to the Gibson Girl for fancy ice cream desserts DURING “Fantasmic!” because once it’s over, the rest of the park makes a mad dash to leave and they have the same idea about one last taste of Disney deliciousness. This is good when you have sleepy kids and you just want to get home after your final treat.

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Madelyn was so, so tired, but she soldiered on to enjoy her strawberry sundae with her Daddy. I scowled at them in my no-dairy bubble and Arielle slept through the whole thing.

So, the outcome of taking an almost four-year-old and a three-month-old to Disneyland? Piece of cake. Really. It might be harder later on when Arielle wants to move around more or has opinions to express, but as a blob of a baby — let’s face it, that’s what they are for the first few months — it ended up being a very successful and rewarding day.

And yet, I’m excited for this sleepy little baby to wake up a little bit, too, because she will absolutely love Disneyland once she’s old enough to truly enjoy it. Some of Madelyn’s happiest memories in her short little life have been made there. Mine too.

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Such Devoted Sisters

Almost every day, someone asks me how the sisters are doing together and how Madelyn is feeling since having Arielle home. I am proud — and relieved — to say that it’s been 14 weeks of Arielle-ness, and not once, even for a nanosecond, has Madelyn ever acted out, felt jealous, or wished her sister away.

Just today, Arielle was crying because… who knows… and Madelyn and I looked at each other with exasperated eyes and I said with some sarcasm, “Ok! That’s it. She’s going back in!” and Madelyn put her hand on my tummy and said, “Noooo, Mommy! You can’t put my sister back in! She has to be out of your tummy so I can always be with her.”

And that was just one instance of Big Sis showing her Lil Sis some love.

A few weeks ago, I was in my bathroom doing my makeup before taking the girls out for the day. Of course I only had about five minutes left of putting on my face, but that’s when Arielle decided to do a ping pong match with her pacifier where she’d spit it back out after I put it back in. This exercise continued and I decided that I just needed to finish the mascara and I’d be able to then pick her up and we’d be on the move.

So just as predicted, the first coat was going on Lefty, and Arielle began her wail. I told myself to stay strong, that I’d be ready to pick her up in a few minutes, and then I heard Madelyn barreling down the hall: “I got it! I GOT IT! I GOT ITTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!” and in a blink of my newly spidery eyes, the baby stopped crying, Madelyn was rocking her, and singing, quite appropriately, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Arielle was silent. And then she began to coo at Madelyn who started to talk to her gently in her baby voice: “It’s Ok, Baby Sister. I’m here. I’m Maddie. I’m your big sister. I will always make sure you’re happy. I can’t wait to teach you things.” And then she proceeded to list all of the things she wants to teach her and do with her, which included reading, playing with Princeton, and going potty.

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And then my stupid mascara dripping was all over my cheeks. Must’ve been allergies. Or some onion chopping… invisibly taking place… in my bathroom. Yeah.

Every week, when I take Arielle’s photo to document her age, Madelyn always wants to jump in and be in the photo with her. At first I thought maybe this was the jealousy and it was finally showing up, but then Madelyn would declare, “I just want to be in the photo with Arielle so she can always remember us together.” I mean. What? Really?

So now each week, I have record of both girls growing together.

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Even in the hospital, Madelyn was curious and never cautious. She owned Arielle from the moment she arrived. She knew right away to speak to her in a sweet voice and was always quiet and calm around her, despite her genuine excitement. She proudly wore her Big Sister couture, never felt left out even when I was in bed with the baby so we could get to know each other.

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Before Arielle was born, friends advised me to have a basket of special toys for Madelyn to play with while I nursed the baby since those first few weeks typically require us to be attached to each other. The theory is that the basket of unique toys would distract the big sister from the fact that Mom is giving a lot of attention to the baby sister. Well, I never got my act together and no such basket ever came to fruition.

Instead, Madelyn gave US a gift. If she wasn’t off playing happily and independently while we tended to all of Arielle’s needs, she was right by our side, helping out and assisting as a second or third set of hands. And those long hours of nursing Arielle in her room presented us with a greater gift than any basket of presents we could’ve given to Madelyn: She would sing and dance, dress up in costumes, and perform shows for us. Not only did this keep me entertained while nursing — which, admittedly, can be kind of boring and exhausting — but it made Arielle more and more familiar with her future idol. As the weeks went on and the baby became more aware of her surroundings, she began to fixate on Madelyn right away, and I really think it’s because she heard her voice and felt her presence so often.

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Now, Arielle lights up when Madelyn enters the room. This past week at Gymboree, we were discussing who our babies’ favorite people are besides Mom (read: food), and without a doubt, I was able to list Madelyn. When she’s around, Arielle quits crying, and she doles out smiles for free to her big sis, which makes Madelyn reciprocate with excited squeals.

As an only child, it is so super cool to see how the girls treat each other and react to each other. I know that the future holds more of a … variety… of emotions between these two. But their foundation now is strong. I am so thankful that Madelyn embraced her baby sister. And really, I never expected she wouldn’t. I always kind of knew she’d be a terrific big sister and wouldn’t display any negative reactions. For the sake of honesty, I was always worried about how I, the mother, would accept a new child into our home. Things were so established with Madelyn and she’s such a great kid. I kept wondering how I could ever love another little one.

It wasn’t love at first sight either. I was quite happy with Arielle and glad she was here, but I still didn’t know HOW I would fit her into our very tight unit. We took her home, and between the distractions of recovering from surgery and figuring out breastfeeding, I wasn’t quite bonded with her yet — I mean, I thought she was very cute and sweet, but didn’t really know what to DO with this new baby.

And then it hit me. Madelyn was a big sister. She grew into her new role like a pro, like it was always meant to happen for her. And I began to fall in love with Arielle through the eyes of Madelyn.

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At the end of my pregnancy, I had shared my concerns with of our dear friends who is also very wise with two darling daughters of his own. He said that his older daughter made them a family and his younger daughter completed it. Those words definitely ring true for me now and thanks to Madelyn, I had my “Ah ha!” moment of really FALLING in love with Arielle, our sweet little newcomer.

Madelyn allowed me to truly adore and enjoy our baby. The guilt and concerns I felt before she arrived all dissipated once I saw Madelyn as a big sister. I can’t wait to see their relationship grow, and I know that Arielle will always be on the right track with such a wonderful role model in front of her. Time will tell how different they may be, but these two sisters share one big thing: my heart.

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