June, 2017 Archive

The Terrible Twos Are Crappy

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Nine is Fine

by Alison Friedman in Love and Marriage

Poor Bryan has Mother’s Day, our wedding anniversary, and my birthday all within three weeks of each other and while I don’t usually get hung up on elaborate plans or gifts, the man did well this year.

We try not to give in too much to commercial holidays, but I woke up on Mother’s Day to an email with a message that I’d been gifted with a BirchBox subscription. I’ve never had one of those subscription boxes before, so this was a super fun surprise and my box came in the mail a few days later. I thought it was super thoughtful of him to think of ways I’d enjoy being pampered every month, and it’s truly the gift that keeps on giving. The dude wins. I win. Everyone wins.

Just prior to Mother’s Day, Bryan also suggested we spend a night at The Four Seasons in our town for a little staycation. It really is a magical place and I love every minute I’ve ever spent there. We had a one-night babymoon there when I was pregnant with Madelyn and I’ve enjoyed many spa and pool days with both Bryan and girlfriends, but being on that property never gets old. But, it’s no secret that it’s not a cheap night away, so when Bryan came up with the idea, I kind of brushed it off and avoided being gung-ho about it because I’m usually too practical, but he was serious and who am I to argue with a man on a mission?

So imagine my surprise when I came home during the afternoon on May 25th, our actual anniversary, and Bryan executed a mini scavenger hunt that had me end up in our coat closet to see a long-time coveted Roomba! While I’ve been eyeing a Roomba for years, I wasn’t actually expecting to receive one for our anniversary! The epitome of romance, I tell you. I joked that it was even better than when Bryan Mackenzie gave Annie Banks a blender as a wedding gift in “Father of the Bride” (weird/exciting fact: a week later, I would be sitting DIRECTLY next to the Bryan Mackenzie actor, George Newbern, at the Pantages theater to see “Book of Mormon.” We literally rubbed elbows. I couldn’t wipe a smile off my face for the 3 hours we were there together. He thought the smiles were from the show. If only he knew the depths of my adoration).

So this Roomba, yeah, it’s amazing. Princeton is not much of a fan, but I do love how it just knows what to do and does a great job cleaning both my wood floors and carpeting. I totally don’t understand how it works, but I’ve decided to let go and just let it do its thing. I spent about 45 minutes watching it go around my floors and got super aggravated when it missed things, but I think it was being sassy about me micromanaging, so I gave up and when I returned, all the small papers, crumbs, and Playdough specks were gone. My advice to potential Roomba-ers: Just trust in the robot.

I cooked us dinner on our anniversary because we knew we’d be going out over the holiday weekend during our getaway. After dinner, we sat down to show the girls our wedding video and they got a kick out of recognizing people they know. We loved reliving our special day and telling Madelyn and Arielle about it. I got an idea to see if my dress still fit so I escaped upstairs to pull out my dress that’s in a bin under our bed. For the last few years, the dress barely went over my waist and there was no way I could zip it up. But this year, other than the gigantic spaces in the sculpted chest area of the dress due to some major shrinkage of my upper body (thanks, Arielle!), I was able to pull up the dress AND zip it up, and the dress fit like a glove (thanks, tummy tuck doctors and Pilates instructor!). So, that was exciting. It was even more exciting to play in the dress and dance with the girls at my side.

Madelyn asked me if my parents paid for my dress and I said yes. She said that she wants to wear my wedding dress to her wedding and wants to pay for the wedding herself “because I don’t want you to spend your money on my wedding. It’s your money. You should keep it.” I like the way this girl is thinking, but something tells me she’ll change her mind. Plus, it would make me all sentimental and happy to pay for her wedding someday. {Future Alison yells at Current Alison through the screen for being such a sucker.}

The next day, we went to the Four Seasons and marveled about the room. So fancy! We are Marriott people because of Bryan’s business travel and we collect some good frequent stay points, so a hotel that takes it to the next level is pretty special. We received chocolate covered strawberries for our anniversary and they were the best. I was giddy. Bryan was giddy. Life was good. Even though it was a little cloudy, it was still not-too-cold and not-too-warm outside so we spent a day out at the pool, ate yummy food on lounge chairs, and I got a facial while Bryan read a book.

We closed down the pool and got changed for our evening at the hotel. We could’ve easily left the property, but we figured we’d really take ourselves off the grid and just stay at the hotel for the evening. After all, the place is like Disneyland for grown ups.

We began our evening with wine flights of rosés and reds in the wine bar. Things got blurry for me real fast. Lightweight problems. Dinner was after. We walked down the hall and had the best seat in the house. I think it tasted good. I don’t really know. Sometimes when you have a lot of wine, your senses go kaput. Or maybe that’s just me? I don’t know. But our super friendly server brought us an anniversary dessert, so the Four Seasons wins in anniversary acknowledgement. “Happy anniversary. Congrats on being legally bound to someone for a significant amount of time. Here, have dessert and fatten yourself up since your looks don’t matter anymore anyway.” I mean, they didn’t say that, but actions speak louder and all that. We gobbled it up of course. My wine mouth had fizzled so my senses were back. All desserts are yummy when there’s a miniature chocolate square on top that has “Happy Anniversary” printed on it and background designed with gold flecks.

We found ourselves in the bar after dinner, listening to live music and people watching. We spent about an hour in there and thought we should head up to bed, but we still had full bellies and wanted to walk a bit more, so we wandered and explored parts of the hotel we hadn’t seen before. We were tired, but we didn’t want the night to end so early. We stumbled across an arcade with free play games. We quickly woke up. Bryan showed off his old school moves on an equally old school Ninja Turtles game and he made fun of me for the total body experience that is playing Mario Bros on an old arcade machine (does anyone else lean right when directing the joystick?). This was the best entertainment of the evening.

We called it a night around midnight and enjoyed the royal treatment of our hotel room. Robes and all. Sweet dreams were easily attained. Waking up to zero responsibilities was refreshing. Our girls are amazing and sleep late on the weekends, so we normally don’t wake up before 9 when we are home with them, but vacation life takes it to a whole new level, and we had another day ahead of us at the pool, so resort living was a dreamy escape.

Dips in the pool, more yummy food, pampering treatment from the pool deck staff (tray passed cups of ice cream balls, samples of smoothies, and thorough sunglass cleaning? A girl could get used to this) — it was another special day together, getting spoiled. Celebrating our 9 years of married life with 30 hours of “just us” time was the best idea Bryan ever came up with. Well, after gifting me a Roomba.

I feel like the luckiest girl to have a husband who encourages us to take time out for ourselves — individually and as a couple — and treats our relationship with care and love. Nine years of marriage is still young compared to many couples we know and look up to, but our nine years have been filled to the brim with memories and accomplishments. Thousands of hours of binge-watched television, hundreds of musicals we’ve seen and performed, handfuls of states traveled, months of Dodgers games attended, six jobs between us, two homes, two daughters, one game show, one dog… I love the life we’ve built and it all adds up to the fact that we keep seeking adventures that result in unique experiences I don’t think either of us would ever enjoy without the other by our side.