Birthdays Archive

A Fairy Happy Birthday

This year in kindergarten, all around her, teeth were dropping like flies. Madelyn made it very clear that she was jealous of all the other kids in her class who had teeth that were flappin’ in the wind and regular visits from the Tooth Fairy. Even when her very best friend lost her first tooth, Madelyn sulked in the corner because her envy outweighed her happiness for her friend. I can remember wanting to grow up at the same exact time as all my friends, too (and reading all those Judy Blume books near the end of elementary school made me eager to, as Judy would say, … develop… so I understood), but I explained to Madelyn that she was one of the youngest in her class so she would probably not lose her first tooth at the same time as everyone else.

I was shocked when, a month before turning six, she still didn’t have a wiggle. But about two weeks ago, Madelyn complained of her tooth “hurting” and I thought that was strange since the tissue and the tooth looked healthy. I asked my dentist friends and they mentioned that just before the start of a wiggly tooth, sometimes kids say their tooth hurts, but what it really means is that it’s just bothering them and there’s no pain to be concerned about.

That’s exactly what happened to Madelyn!

A few days later, I checked, and sure enough, the tooth moved side to side ever so slightly. Just as quickly as the wiggle came on, so did the progression of the wiggle! It seemed like no time at all until she, too, finally had a tooth that was flappin’ in the wind.

The night before her sixth birthday, we went to Lazy Dog Cafe for our traditional Birthday Eve Dinner and she enjoyed a huge ice cream sundae with a candle in it. As she blew out her candle, I knew exactly what she’d wish for: to finally lose her first tooth! It was barely hanging in, but I figured it needed another couple days. I had a pretty good feeling it would be out before the end of the weekend.

Wishing for the wiggle of all wiggles.

Good thing she didn’t lose her tooth right then and there or we never would have found it in that ocean of whipped cream.

Knowing this, I kept reminding Bryan to make a stop at the bank to pick up some magical and fairy-like $2 bills. I couldn’t do it because I have been with Madelyn non-stop all day working on a television show (more on that in … a while). But between his busy work days and the limited hours a bank is open (9 to 5 just really isn’t long enough apparently!), as of August 8th, we were still not stashing away $2 bills.

After our Birthday Eve Dinner, I had to drop of Arielle at my parents’ house so that she could spend the night since we’d be waking up early to take Madelyn on set. We were excited to show Bryan around and introduce him to the cast and crew who’ve become like family. Sending Arielle to my parents’ house the night before was the most logical plan since our morning would be super early.

While I was in the car, Bryan called and I heard chaotic crying and gasping in the background. “SHE LOST HER TOOTH!” he announced. I let out a desperate, “Are you serious?!” that was not that dissimilar from how I responded to his marriage proposal.

We quickly connected to FaceTime once I got to my parents’ house so I could see Madelyn’s face. She was still freshly watery in the eyes and super unsure about this milestone.

Me, in the upper left hand corner, trying not to cry because growing up omg.

Thankfully, he preserved the moment by having her tell the story of how she lost her tooth. Sounds to me like not only did she get rid of the day’s sugar and plaque, but she brushed away her tooth, too!

As the best daddy in the world, he handled the clean-up and talking her off a ledge like a total pro; Madelyn was completely freaking out that her tooth was now a fossil as she held it in her hand and saw a hole in her gum line in her reflection.

Bryan had Madelyn get the room ready for the Tooth Fairy which included tidying up the area around the bed so she wouldn’t trip over dirty laundry, headbands, and Legos late at night in the dark room, as well as writing a note to the Tooth Fairy in order to establish a healthy child-fairy rapport.

She’s such a little cheerleader:
“Dear Tooth Fairy,
You are the best. You can do lots of things. I love you! I want you to put my tooth in a box safe and perfect as can be. You can do this! Go Tooth Fairy!
Love, Madelyn”

I had ordered a cute pillow on Etsy that hadn’t arrived yet, so Bryan had Madelyn drop her tooth into the pocket of my childhood Tooth Fairy pillow, tucked her note inside with the tooth, and placed it under her pillow as tradition tells kids to do.

Madelyn ready for Tooth Fairy Prep 101.

When I came home from putting Arielle to sleep, I got to work. Since our $2 plan was out the window, we went for the only cash we had that wasn’t twenties. A nice, clean, crisp $10 bill would have to do. And while I wasn’t super thrilled about setting the bar that high on tooth #1, I decided on a few things: 1) She doesn’t really know the value of money yet anyway, so if I switch it up on her for the next tooth, she won’t really care; and 2) She’s seeing her favorite show, “Hamilton,” in September, so the way to make this tooth loot relevant is to tie it in with Hamilton himself who, as Lin Manuel Miranda says, is the “ten dollar founding father.” Thanks to some loose powder shimmery eye shadow, I made the bill sparkly and magical, and I knew that would seal the deal for her.

I also wrote her a letter from the Tooth Fairy and stressed out a fair amount as I knew I had to straddle the narrow line of making the writing easy enough to read (no cursive) and different enough to disguise my printing. I added some more glitter and shimmer to the letter — because apparently the Tooth Fairy is just a moth who’s been squished on paper?? — and knew it was time to do the deed.

Just before planning the route to the pillow and sneaking into her room, Bryan and I documented the moment. After all, this very point of parenting was brand new to us, and something I was looking forward to since the day I realized who my Tooth Fairy was. A fleeting whirlwind of emotions left me a little teary (do I have a Chopped Onion Fairy who accompanies the Tooth Fairy?!) because I distinctly remember when that very tooth that was hanging out in her pillow pocket grew into her mouth. There were tears and a few sleepless nights when she was a handful-and-a-half months old, but she grew to showcase a beautiful smile and this moment that was six years in the making meant it would transition to a new version of that smile. Time is so wonderful and cruel like that. So, all this to say, because it’s a big parenthood moment, we snapped a photo of the Tooth Fairy just before making touch down.

We found these wings tucked up in the top of the closet with the rest of the costume stash.
Pretty much the last time I wore this, I was dressed up as an angel at a college fraternity party. I am very sure that many vodka cranberries were involved with the 2003 version of this outfit.

I found Madelyn sleeping on the middle of the foot of her double bed, not even near her pillow, as if to make it easy for the Tooth Fairy to find the buried treasure. One less tooth, but no less considerate, that Madelyn.

I did the exchange and tip toed away. Very simple, but very breathless. I was sure she would wake up from the sound of my heart beating, like horses stampeding in a Game of Thrones battle. She stirred for a moment and I was already coming up with my go-to on-the-spot reason for being in her room in the middle of the night. But Sleeping Toothless Beauty continued slumbering, and my stealth fairy powers paid off. I didn’t know I could hold my breath for so long until I was safe in the hallway, undetected and unscathed.

This morning, she woke up on her birthday and ran into our room, way more chipper than anyone should be at 7 a.m.

“MOMMMMMMYYYYY!!! I have some exciting neeeeews!” she dangled the word “news” like I’d never guess in a million years and was waiting for my shocked reaction.

“Oh yeah?” YAWN. “What’s that? What could be so exciting this early?”

“Well,” she took a deep breath to drop the bomb. “The Tooooooth Fairy caaaaaaame! And she left me moneeeeeey! And it’s TEN DOLLARS. You know why? Because I love “Hamilton!” She really punched it with that “Hamilton.”

I declared that her Tooth Fairy knows all about her and is magical that way. How impressive. She couldn’t get over the fact that the Tooth Fairy was so smart and brilliant (go on… tell me more!) to not only know these things, but to put this much thought into them. If only she knew that the Tooth Fairy couldn’t make it to Chase before closing.

Madelyn couldn’t stop grinning her new grin. If she were a peacock, her feathers would be sprouting all over the place. And when I reminded her it was her birthday, too, her eyes almost burst open and her jaw hit the floor; in all the excitement of the Tooth Fairy morning discovery, she had completely forgotten she woke up on her birthday! She did her happy dance, gaping hole in her smile and all, and we spent the morning cuddling this baby who, truly, over night, grew into a totally awesome and unique six-year-old.

After her birthday dinner, I couldn’t help but capture this quintessential six-year-old moment.

I couldn’t think of a cooler way to lose a first tooth or a cooler girl to lose it.

  1. 8/20/2017 8:04 PM

    What’s up, for all time i used to check website
    posts here early in the dawn, for the reason that i like
    to learn more and more.

  2. Mimi
    8/11/2017 9:47 PM

    Wow Madelyn! So many big milestones happened to you in 2 days!
    Happy 6th Birthday! I hope all your birthday wishes come true and you have the best time being 6. I had such a wonderful time celebrating with you and your friends at the dance studio party.
    And how exciting that you lost your first tooth! The Tooth Fairy is the best fairy and is always excited to visit a kid who takes such good care of their teeth like you do. This is only the beginning of more visits from the Tooth Fairy.
    I am so proud of you and love you very much!
    love, Mimi

She’s Bringing Sixy Back

It’s hard to believe that when BornFriedman started, Baby Girl Friedman was just a little blob of cells and now, just about six years later, she’s a blob of sass and smarts and talent and love and kindness and humor and beauty. And all of that is worth celebrating, so celebrate we did!

Last year, her Dodgers party at our house was a — hit! — but I actually kept my promise and scaled down for her sixth birthday party. And by “scaled down,” I mean I outsourced the venue and activity (I love you, Protégé Performing Arts), prepared zero food (I love you too, Stonefire), and kept the guest list to her favorite gal pals for a super girly and twirly dance studio party.

While I’ve always been a glutton for punishment with making a zillion decorations and party favors and food, I’m so glad I left it up to the pros since our uniquely busy summer schedule left me little to no prep time for this year’s party. I did a few artsy projects like painting mason jars for center pieces and my annual banner to hang over the food table, but it dawned on me why I felt so rested and bright-eyed on the day of this party: easy party!

Madelyn has been taking tap and ballet at Kelly Salvatore’s dance studio in North Ranch, Protégé Performing Arts, for the three seasons it’s been open. We love Miss Kelly, not just because she’s a personal friend of ours, but also because she’s the Pied Piper of children and has the most wonderful disposition with all of her students. I don’t know how she does it with such ease! Madelyn loves going to dance class once a week because Miss Kelly makes her feel so loved while still teaching her the foundations. I was so excited to share Miss Kelly with Madelyn’s friends at her party!

The girls got started with a little free dancing and stretching. Madelyn did an amazing job introducing her friends to each other since they all came from various parts of her life. I was super impressed with how she mingled with everyone and made sure they all felt included. That’s difficult for adults to do, let alone first-graders, so I was really proud of her!

I loved watching Madelyn and her friends dance together as if they’d all known each other for years. Grown-ups could learn a thing or two from kids about letting loose, letting go, and tearin’ down those walls.

Miss Kelly cleverly set up a dance “obstacle course” — OLYMPICS 2028!!!!!!! — and the girls had to do certain moves at each spot along the way, ending with a cheer to the tune of “MADELYN IS SIX!” or something like that, accompanied by a passionate pom-pom shake. They did a great job learning the directions and waiting their turns. It was too cute and all the girls were amazing!

And then there was a Hula Hoop game. Twelve little girls Hula Hooping is very loud. Lots of beads sloshing around and hollow plastic bouncing and tumbling all over wood floor. But those girls sure do love to work those hips. Shakira would be proud.

They also learned a little hip hop combo to “My Shot” from … any guesses? HAM wait for it (haha) ILTON! Six-year-old booty shaking might be the best thing ever invented. When the show opens at the Pantages here in Hollywood this week, I think there are definitely some understudy contenders from Madelyn’s birthday party guests.

Perhaps the most entertaining portion of Madelyn’s party was her own little sister. Arielle was living her best life for that 90 minutes of time on the dance floor. Everything she did, she did with the most fierce determination. When it came time to stretch, she was totally nose to the toes; nose to the floor, even. When it was time to shake her tush, she almost pulled a TSwift and shook it off. ALL OFF. And she committed to her balloon. All the kids got to dance with a balloon tied to their wrists, but Arielle and her balloon were intertwined in the greatest love affair of all. They danced together like they were Fred and Ginger or like they were aiming toward the Mirrorball Trophy. Arielle and that pink balloon: I’ve never seen a purer joy.

They worked up an appetite so the dancers — and patient parents! — were fed. Stonefire (read: breadsticks) turns every party into a rager. We’ve been eating left overs for 24 hours. I am very pleased with my choice to cater in this lunch!

And using a kids party as an excuse to order a half pan of mac n cheese was my most brilliant idea. Kids parties every weekend???

Back in the dance room, the girls got in line for a little stroll down the cat walk, practicing their best strut and some awesome poses. These girls loved the mirror and the mirror loved them right back. I’m not sure Madelyn will be tackling Fashion Week any time soon or ever, but in that moment, she was such a super model, she could’ve married Tom Brady right then and there.

The grand finale was a dance choreographed by Madelyn (she’s really good at step-touches and hip sways) as well as a break down to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” because… Justin.

Even with all the dancing love, nothing transitions a bunch of girls into the final activity more than the word “CUPCAKES.” Madelyn’s friends gathered around her to sing the birthday anthem and she made her own speech after she blew out her candles! Usually, I say something to the guests, but our big six-year-old is enough of a Chatty Maddie and budding toastmaster that I thought she might want to share her own words. In her speech, she announced her love for all of her best and favorite friends surrounding her and how glad she was to see everyone together and “mixed.” And then she thanked the grown ups. Eddie Haskell or sweet girl: take your pick… but it was one more proud feather in my cap.

The girls took a group photo and then began to trickle away with hugs and goodbyes. With all the rush of hosting a birthday party, we crammed in a family photo before we left, which was a feat because, well, Arielle wanted off her feet. She partied so hard, by the end, she resembled a college girl… the day after. If her speech was better, she would’ve asked me to drive her to the nearest dirty burrito shack. That girl.

We had the best time at Madelyn’s sixth birthday. This little big one is so full of life and pizzazz, it was so appropriate for us to celebrate her with dance and expression! Her big day is actually Wednesday, August 9th, but we will be making her feel special for this whole birthday week. More surprises are in store for her throughout the rest of August, and selfishly, the surprises are just as great for me because I love seeing her face light up. There’s no greater delight than watching Madelyn as she dances through life.

  1. Mimi
    8/11/2017 9:58 PM

    HAPPY 6th BIRTHDAY TO YOU, MADELYN!!! You have such nice friends and it was a fantastic party! I love how you were such a great hostess making sure everyone was having a great time. I think Arielle had the best time too and never seemed to get tired from all the dancing. I can’t wait for the special birthday surprise outing I have planned for us next week. 🙂
    I love you very much!
    Mimi

  2. Linda SMith
    8/8/2017 9:45 AM

    That was an amazing blog….lucky Madelyn
    .

Re-Birthday, Rebirth-day

Last week was my birthday and I turned 34 which is officially “mid 30s” and that just seems weird. I’m not one to get hung up on numbers, but I’m entering the era during which I began remembering my own parents. Normally I like birthdays because it’s a day to enjoy favorite things and people. I thought back to last year’s birthday; Bryan was out of town on business, I was sick with a mystery virus that felt like the flu on crack for a whole week, I didn’t enjoy a day with friends like I’d planned, I was suffering with chronic back pain, I was still nursing a toddler with recurring complications, and I felt the biggest and most off-kilter I’d ever felt in my life despite mostly regular clean eating. I started 33 in bad form.

My Facebook pity party on my actual birthday. Behind my cutesy self-deprecating humor was a sad cat with an orchestra of tiny violins.

I eventually recovered from my weird sickness just in time for Madelyn’s preschool graduation. And few months after my birthday, I finally bit the bullet and scheduled my surgery to correct my diastasis recti and umbilical hernia. A few months after that, Arielle and I ended our breastfeeding journey. And then a few months after that, I completed losing 20 pounds and underwent surgery that would truly change my life. I spent the second half of 33 relearning my new life as a mom and getting to know a new body.

And then last week, on June 7th, I turned 34 and realized I hadn’t been this happy in so long. Sure, my kids make me happy and my husband makes me happy, and my family and friends make me happy, but I wasn’t happy with myself; by my self.

Of course it’s a good day when you get a free Starbucks birthday drink (and calories don’t count on your birthday!)

Turning 34, despite the mid-30s thing and the becoming-my-parents-as-I-remember-them thing, was awesome.

For a handful of months, I’ve noticed my confidence bloom. Stupid things like getting to wear shirts that I’d previously eyed for so many years and left on the racks and playing with my girls on the floor and finally not resenting them because of back pain that had made it difficult to get out of bed have given me a greater sense of self. My work with Maya, my sweet friend and Pilates instructor, has sculpted me in new ways I didn’t think were possible and my work is so not even done. I continue to eat clean, mostly following Whole30 as my guide, but when I do want to indulge (and I do!), instead of self-sabotaging and throwing away progress, I now have the ability to get back on the horse and pick up where I left off. I have power back over myself, and I’m no longer feeling like my own victim. It’s so silly that that confidence translates to all better versions of the areas of my life as a mom, wife, friend, and even a stranger passing by fellow strangers. I smile more.

My actual birthday was a fairly routine day. I volunteered in Madelyn’s classroom as I always do on Wednesdays. I enjoyed a Pilates session shortly after. I cuddled with Arielle. I had a favorite lunch with Bryan. I saw some family members. I did a quick loop around the mall. I had the most delicious dinner with my parents and Bryan and the girls. My very regular and normal day-to-day events happened, but I felt so happy and complete when I set my head on my pillow, one year older.

Dinner with my crew to celebrate love, health, and delicious food. My belly and heart were happy when we rolled out.

I celebrated with some of my favorite friends, drinking wine and enjoying a June evening under the stars at the most popular spot in town. All these people showed up for me and we all had a blast; I was truly touched. When I was pressed to come up with a wish at the end of the song, I stared at a cupcake and couldn’t come up with one request to go out with the candle; I had everything I wished for. Instead, I said a mental “thanks.” Last year at this time, I sulked that I didn’t have all the things that I now have found myself with this year on my birthday: health, friends surrounding me, a properly functioning body, and a great appreciation for the little things.

I think of birthdays like most people think of New Year’s Day: a fresh start, a new beginning, another chance. January first always feels like a cliché time to reflect. But birthdays are our own unique day to celebrate achievements and what’s in store.

As crappy as my 33rd birthday was, the things that took place during the year helped me find my happy place on my 34th birthday. My mid-30s are shaping up to be better than I could have imagined. I am making a point to be true to myself, surround myself with positive people who love me back, work on self-care, and be more present. The distracting noises of my 33rd birthday have now been edited to sound more like an invigorating soundtrack for my 34th birthday and onward.

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!

Madelyn is Five!

Our sweet, funny, smart, friendly, old-soul, musical, sarcastic, compassionate, and general mensch-ette of a first born daughter is five! That’s half a decade! That’s all the fingers on a hand. That’s, like, all of undergrad for an ASU alum. (sorry. Had to. Love all my Sun Devil friends.).

It’s crazy to think Madelyn Shana has been around for five years. On one hand, it seems like it’s been a blink and she went from birth to kindergartner. On the other hand, it seems like she’s always been here; that life before her was so distant and unimportant. I can barely remember being me before I was a mom. A few days ago, Madelyn asked me about the happiest day of my life. I didn’t hesitate to tell her that it was the day she was born.

On the last night as a 4-year-old, Madelyn looked ahead to 5. And it looked like ice cream.

On the last night as a 4-year-old, Madelyn looked ahead to 5. And it looked like ice cream.

I always get emotional on my kids’ birthdays, and I’m a stickler for keeping our traditions (like going out to dinner on the birthday even like we did in 2013 and in 2014 and other years that didn’t get documented — for shame!) This fifth birthday was no different because all remnants of baby and toddler are now completely absent, and Madelyn is all… kid!

Since before she was born, it was determined that Madelyn would have to be a fan of the Dodgers in order to become a welcome family member. Thankfully, she obliged — whew! — and we could keep her as our own. She’s grown up seeing many games at Dodger Stadium thanks to the generosity of her Auntie Pattie and Uncle Barry and will never be able to sit anywhere else in the ballpark, since when you start in the Dugout Club, you’re ruined in the best way possible! Madelyn also loves to watch games on TV, and surrenders to the poetry of Mr. Vin Scully’s on-air talents. So it’s not exactly a shocker that she asked for a Dodgers-themed birthday to ring in the big 5.

Just a few days before her big party, the famous Auntie Pattie invited the family to come together to celebrate Madelyn’s birthday in the suite on the day she turned five!

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The best part about suite nights at Dodger Stadium is watching all the cousins play together. Madelyn absolutely adores all her cousins because they are a fun and wild bunch and their mutual amounts of energy always makes us boring grown-ups double over in laughter.

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The big kids tried to teach the little ones how to do the LA sign. SOCLOSE.

The big kids tried to teach the little ones how to do the LA sign. SOCLOSE.

It's no mystery who the little cousins get the sillies from... The BIG cousin!

It’s no mystery who the little cousins get the sillies from… The BIG cousin!

It’s possible we didn’t do a lot of game watching since there was a lot of birthday celebrating going on, but the food and family ruled the night and that’s what mattered most. Also, the Dodgers did win, so that was a plus.

Still, we are oh-so grateful to these special people right here! Madelyn appreciates her time at Dodger Stadium and it’s all thanks to them!

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Normally, the evening of August 9th is dinner out at Cheesecake Factory with both sets of grandparents, but we were more than happy to break the birthday tradition and spend the evening at the Dodger game. Madelyn loves being with her Grandma & Grandpa and Mimi & Poppa on her birthday.

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Madelyn conked out in the car before we even reached the freeway. The fifth birthday was a homerun.

That's what a happy five-year-old looks like.

That’s what a happy five-year-old looks like.

But, there were more innings to go. Her big party (you know, the one that I always say I’m not going to make) was a few days later and I spent the whole week on finishing touches because suicide by arts and crafts is the best way to go.

Sticking with the Dodgers theme of the week, we had lots of fun making this party Dodgerfied. From the walk up to the front door to the food names to the activities, it was Dodgertastic and Madelyn loved it!

A homemade LA stencil, white spray paint, and a cheap, ugly roll of fake grass took our guests from the driveway to THE FIELD!

A homemade LA stencil, white spray paint, and a cheap, ugly roll of fake grass took our guests from the driveway to THE FIELD!

When in doubt, Vinny.

When in doubt, Vinny.

I had to have peanuts, but I did not want to have peanut SHELLS. I made peanut shell bags and affixed them to the tables. Peanut on, friends!

I had to have peanuts, but I did not want to have peanut SHELLS. I made peanut shell bags and affixed them to the tables. Peanut on, friends!

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The drink station sign says "Tommy LaSodas" because... I ALMOST considered serving cans of SlimFast.

The drink station sign says “Tommy LaSodas” because… I ALMOST considered serving cans of SlimFast.

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Using food as food AND decor is too fun.  We served Hebrew National (League) Hot Dogs... because Farmer John hot dogs are ... suspect. Sorry, FJ.

Using food as food AND decor is too fun. We served Hebrew National (League) Hot Dogs… because Farmer John hot dogs are … suspect. Sorry, FJ.

Darryl Strawberries... but the 1993 kind because if you go too much earlier, he's a Met and that doesn't make sense.

Darryl Strawberries… but the 1993 kind because if you go too much earlier, he’s a Met and that doesn’t make sense.

Clayton Kerslaw. Cole slaw from Brent's Deli is never on the DL.  We served Mike Pi(a)zza Bites, Eric Carrots and Jocolate Pederson candy baseballs, too, in addition to old fashioned Cracker Jacks that didn't get a punny name because they're just called Cracker Jacks.

Clayton Kerslaw. Cole slaw from Brent’s Deli is never on the DL.
We served Eric Carrots and Jocolate Pederson candy baseballs, too, in addition to old fashioned Cracker Jacks that didn’t get a punny name because they’re just called Cracker Jacks.

A Nacho Bar was a grand slam with our guests. Go Doyers!

A Nacho Bar was a grand slam with our guests. Go Doyers!

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It was the first party in a few years that I didn’t hire a company or activity for entertainment, but now that the kids are older and not such social misfits, I knew they’d still have fun hanging with friends, playing tee ball, and doing a craft. I set up a Make Your Own Pennant station where the kids could decorate a paper pennant with lots of doodads and markers. They turned out great and I think the kids really enjoyed it.

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Thank goodness for the moms who helped man the station as the kids came and went to make their pennants. I am so lucky to have such great friends who enjoy these things as much as I do!

Thank goodness for the moms who helped man the station as the kids came and went to make their pennants. I am so lucky to have such great friends who enjoy these things as much as I do!

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Madelyn was having a blast being all decked out in Dodger Blue from head to toe!

Madelyn was having a blast being all decked out in Dodger Blue from head to toe!

Arielle had a great time, too, wandering around and picking up whatever she could get her hands on.

Arielle had a great time, too, wandering around and picking up whatever she could get her hands on.

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As always, birthday parties are a great time to be with our friends and family and we are always so glad they are there to celebrate good times (come on!).

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When it was time to sing “Happy Birthday,” I brought out the cupcakes, candled up a special birthday cupcake for Madelyn, and we all enjoyed a big group number to wish her the best. When it was time to make a wish, the always-thoughtful Madelyn clammed up for a moment, unable to come up with a wish on the spot. She stresses under pressure and we were nanoseconds from tears due to those BIG feelings that come with turning five, but I was able to avoid drama by promising her that wishes count later on and she can sleep on it. Whew! So she blew out her candles — probably wishing for more time to make a wish — and we all celebrated with group sugar consumption. Birthdays are the best like that.

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The party dwindled down, but Madelyn’s appetite for cupcakes did not. She had about four more before the night was over. I justified this parenting decision because I ordered 72 cupcakes. I couldn’t let the 40 uneaten cupcakes go to waste, so I decided they were health food for my growing daughter. Muffins, really. With sweet cream on top. Basically, breakfast, right?

And because I like to fatten everyone up (#jewishmother), I sent everyone home with iced baseball heart cookies that I made (#newhobby). You’re welcome, parents, for the sugar at 7 p.m.

I realize this makes me a 3 strikes parent-hostess, but c'mon! It wasn't like it was a school night!

I realize this makes me a 3 strikes parent-hostess, but c’mon! It wasn’t like it was a school night!

The party was a World Series winner, and my lil slugger was more than happy. We did our job. Madelyn had a very, very happy fifth birthday.

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Bryan created an amazing video for Madelyn’s 5th birthday that documents her life as a Dodger fan! He’s too talented. He whipped this up in a week, and I am in awe. This looped at the party and I can’t stop watching it still!