slice of life

A Coffee Spill Like No Other

Can you spot the problem with my sweater in the photo below?

Perhaps, if you zoom in closely, you’ll notice it has some coffee spilled on the front of it. It’s hard to notice, though, since the sweater is beige.

A typical there-year-old would neither care, nor notice, said coffee spills, especially since they were dry. However, my three-year-old overheard me mention that I accidentally spilled coffee on myself after leaving the house this morning. So it won’t surprise you then when I approached him for a hug, he recoiled.

“Why won’t you give me a hug?” I asked.

“You have coffee on you!” Ari replied.

I sniffed my sweater. The smell of coffee hadn’t completely dissipated, but it wasn’t offensive.

“How do you know I have coffee on me?” I asked.

He gave me a DUH look, pushed me away, and said, “I’ll give you a hug later*.”

Seeing as I’m not the kind of person who forces my kids to hug me, I didn’t push. However, he’s something, isn’t he?

* = I got my “later hug” at bedtime tonight. And, yes, I was freshly showered and, therefore, wearing clean clothes.

read aloud · slice of life

What counts as real?

Once Isabelle heard about Lancaster Cupcake’s story time + cupcake decorating, she demanded (Yes, demanded.) I take her there with Ari the next time she had a day off from school. Seeing as today is Presidents’ Day, I decided this would be the perfect time to take them there together.

Today’s book was Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey. Emily, the woman reading the book aloud, began story time by engaging the kids with a few questions, one of which was “Who has a dog?”

That’s when Ari, who was sitting right in front of her, shot his hand up and exclaimed, “I do!”

I snorted, shook my head, and turned to the woman next to me and said — flatly, “No he doesn’t.”

The woman next to me and the woman next to her chuckled. One of them said, “He sounds pretty convinced that he has a dog.”

“I think he wishes he had a dog. He does have some stuffed puppies though…”

Let’s be honest: A Puppy, I Puppy, and Patchy ARE real to Ari. I suppose, then, that Ari answered that question honestly!\

slice of life

Bedtime Prayers with Patchy

Patchy and Ari face each other.

“Where’s Patchy?” I asked Ari.

“He’s at a hotel,” Ari replied.

“What’s he doing at a hotel?” I asked Ari.

“He’s on a trip,” Ari answered.

I sensed Ari was still a bit bitter about last week’s work trip I took. Instead of going down that road, I continued to play along so I asked, “When’s Patchy coming home?”

Ari peeked underneath his quilt and said, “He’s home from the hotel now!”

Ari made adorable stuffed-puppy sounds to celebrate Patchy’s return from the hotel.

“Is Patchy going to settle down to say prayers with us?”

Ari placed Patchy on his pillow and then, in a puppy voice, he sang the entire Sh’ma. I held it together — since it is the most important Jewish prayer — but inside I was giggling. There I was, snuggling beside my sweet little boy and his stuffed puppy who recited the prayer in perfect Hebrew.

I stifled my laugh and simply asked Ari, “Does Patchy know V’ahavta too?”

“No,” Ari said. “Just Sh’ma.”

“Well, you know V’ahavta so let’s say it together.”

Ari switched back to his normal three-year-old voice and chanted V’ahavta sweetly with me.

medical · slice of life

The Irony

I called Ari’s pediatrician yesterday to request an appointment this morning in case he woke up with a fever again. When I was on the phone with the nurse, she told that if he has a fever, he would need to wear a mask over his mouth and nose in the waiting room. The nurse paused after telling me that and said, “I realize he’s only three years old and that is hard to do.” We both had a chuckle.

This morning. Ari woke up with a fever for the fifth consecutive day so I took him to the pediatrician. I tried convincing him that we would wear masks over our faces and pretend to be superheroes in disguise. It did not work. This is what he looked like:

A face mask doesn’t do much when you wear it like a beard!

I’m happy to report that his test came back negative for the flu. So at least Ari didn’t infect anyone when he wore his mask below his chin this morning!

Next objective: get him well!

CONVERSATIONS · slice of life

The Legend of Great Uncle Carl

Today’s latest and greatest Ari moment can only be told after you know the Legend of Great Uncle Carl.


There aren’t many tall people in my family or my husband’s side of the family. According to Schaefer Family Legend, Great Uncle Carl, my father-in-law’s uncle, was tall. Just how tall was Great Uncle Carl? I’ll never know since he passed away well before I met my husband 15 years ago. But by the way people made it sound for the first ten years of my relationship with Marc, Great Uncle Carl was at least 6’4” before old age made him shrink an inch or two.

In the years that followed Isabelle’s birth, I’ve invoked this giant of a man from time-to-time when Isabelle didn’t want to eat her dinner. Slowly, I learned (from my mother-in-law) that Great Uncle Carl wasn’t so tall. She said that in his heyday, Great Uncle Carl wasn’t more than — wait for it — 5’10”! (That’s still tall by my family’s standards, but 5’10” does not a skyscraper make.) So, I stopped invoking Great Uncle Carl with Isabelle.


A few days ago, after a few years of not invoking Great Uncle Carl’s stature, I told Ari about the legendary Great-Uncle Carl who was a towering figure. You see, Ari was not eating well, which is out of character for him. Talking to him about getting tall enough to ride the next set of rides at Hersheypark wasn’t working so I thought the image of Great Uncle Carl would give him something to aspire to. And it did — for a night.

This evening, my cranky three-year-old (who didn’t nap) refused to eat dinner. We took him upstairs and figured he would drink a cup of milk and then go to bed. But Ari refused to sip on the straw. I begged and pleaded for Ari to drink his milk since his belly was virtually empty, but he refused.

Even through Waterlogue, I bet you can tell how unamused and sleepy Ari was this evening.

“Why don’t you want to drink your milk?” I asked.

Ari mumbled something that I couldn’t make out.

“I didn’t understand you. Would you say it again?”

“Because I don’t want to get as big as Great Uncle Carl,” he weeped.

I stifled my laugher, which was hard because that was NOT the answer I was expecting. I went into reassurance mode (make that panic mode) and told Ari, “You don’t have to get as big as Great Uncle Carl. He wasn’t really that tall. You can get as big as Daddy if you want. It doesn’t matter just how tall you are. What matters is that your belly is full. So, what do you say? Have some milk.”

“No!” Ari said shoving the cup away from his face.

There were no more legends to lean on. I was beaten so I murmured the only question I knew that would be answered affirmatively, “Do you just want to go to sleep?”

“Yes!” Ari declared. In a flash, he grabbed his blanket and walked over to his bed. Within minutes he was fast asleep.

slice of life

We have no bananas today!

This photo was taken a week after the banana incident. Please note: The kids’ basket was well-stocked in advance of our arrival.

The Giant near our former house in Harrisburg was always stocked with free fruit in a basket for kids to take when they shopped alongside their parents. As a result, Ari got used to grabbing a banana from the basket every time we went to Giant.

Nowadays, the Giant near our New house doesn’t keep the free fruit basket stocked. A couple of weeks ago, Ari wound his little “Customer in Training” cart into the produce section and was dismayed to discover there weren’t any bananas in the basket. (There weren’t any mandarin oranges in there either, but that’s another story.)

I looked at regular banana display and noticed all of the bananas were green. I pointed this out to Ari. “Maybe they don’t have any yellow bananas, which is why the kids’ basket is empty.”

Ari is really good at being three so he didn’t care about my rationale. All Ari knew is that he was being mightily wronged by being denied access to a banana at the supermarket. In a flash, he turned his customer-in-training cart around and declared, “I’m going to customer service!” (He may have witnessed me make a couple of trips to a customer service desk in the past few years, which is how he knows of its existence.)

I hobbled behind Ari with my cane as he chugged like a train to the front of the store. There was no stopping him. He was a boy on a mission.

Ari arrived at customer service before my body could, but my ears could hear him say, “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me! There are no bananas in the basket!”

Oh. My. G-d. He didn’t just do that. I mean, at least Ari used his good manners and said excuse me, but he was so loud. Despite his declaration, no one at customer service paid any attention to him because the top of his head didn’t clear the counter. (When I told my husband this story he compared Ari to Little Elliot — from Little Elliott, Big City by Mike Curato — not being noticed in the bakery.)

“Buddy, you need to say ‘excuse me’ and then wait for someone to give you their attention. And be a bit more patient, please.”

“Excuse me!” He said in a booming-toddler voice. “I want a banana!”

He got the person’s attention at customer service who looked a little shocked to see a tiny customer barking at her.

“Let’s try with better manners. Now that you have her attention, tell her what the problem is,” I said.

Ari began telling her, with lots of hand animations, how there were no bananas in the kids’ basket and all of the bananas in the store were green. I understood what he said, but he was talking so fast I don’t think she caught any of it. Therefore, I stepped in.

“Hi there,” I said, smiling and waving. “What I think my son wants to say is do you know if there are any more bananas for kids? The basket of fruit is empty and all of the bananas on the display are green. Would you be able to help him?”

She said she’d try. She left the area behind the customer service desk and asked us to follow her to the produce department. As we followed behind her, I told Ari, “I can give you a yellow banana at home if they don’t have them here.”

Ari pretended not to hear me. He pushed his customer-in-training cart back to the produce section. Once there, the customer service representative declared, “There aren’t any bananas in the kids’ basket, so…” She walked over to the banana display, found three of the least-green bananas she could find, and placed them in the kids’ fruit basket. I thanked her and then looked down. Ari had his hand in the basket, turning the bananas over in search of the most-yellow of the least-green bananas.

“Are you sure you want to eat that one?” I asked. “It’s pretty green.”

Ari began to peel the banana, took a bite, and smiled. I guess the lack of ripeness didn’t matter to him since he got what he wanted.

*****

I didn’t write this story down when it happened. My mother begged me to record it after I recounted it to her. Therefore, this one is dedicated to you, Mom, for the encouragement to preserve a good laugh. What was the other story I was supposed to record?

food · read aloud · slice of life

A Marvelous Monday with My Little Man

Ari admires his good egg cupcake.

My One Little Word of 2020 is RESTORE. Now that my parents returned home — after living with us for the better part of three months while I got back on my feet after injuring my ankle — it has been time for me to start restoring different parts of my life. Last week, I resumed more parenting duties (e.g., chauffeuring, cooking meals) and working in my office instead of sitting in bed with my laptop. As a result, I was exhausted. Next week, I have my first
overnight work trip to work with second, third, and fourth grade teachers. So this week, I’m trying to take it easier.

It’s hard to take it easy when you spend your mornings running with a three-year-old boy. But this morning, I found the perfect activity to enjoy with Ari that allowed me to sit around a bit too. We went to story time at Lancaster Cupcake, which is a local bakery that selects a different read aloud each week and continues with book-inspired cupcake decorating.

I wasn’t sure how the morning would go, but it went really well! Ari listened to a staffer read The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald, decorated an egg cupcake, shared the cupcake with me (because I was wise-enough to ask for a gluten-free one!), decorating a coloring page, allowed me to read the book to him again, and played in the bakery’s play kitchen for nearly an hour. And what did I do while Ari was playing? I sat on a cozy chair and sipped a vanilla latte made with almond milk. Perfection.

Not every morning this week will be this tranquil and perfect. BUT, I can live on mornings like this one all week!

library · self-care · slice of life

Soapy Hands

Playing at the Library’s Train Table

Earlier today, I took Ari to the library. He said hello to Athena the turtle, played a couple of computer games, and then made a bee-line for the trains. After playing with the trains, we read a couple of train books. Before we left, I insisted on a bathroom trip. While Ari initially fought me (and insisted he needed play with the kitchen RIGHT THEN AND THERE), he eventually accepted that we were going to the bathroom.

I rolled Ari’s sleeves up so he could wash his hands by himself. After I realized he couldn’t get the soap out of the dispenser, I gave him two pumps of soap. Ari scrubbed his hands, rinsed them, and dried them with an excessive amount of paper towels.

We walked back to the chair where our coats were resting. “Time to put on your coat,” I said.

“NO!” He replied. “My hands are soapy.”

“You just washed your hands. How could they be soapy?”

“They. Are. Soapy.” He replied.

Oh-my-gosh, I thought. This is going to be a thing, isn’t it?

“If you rinsed your hands and dried them, then your hands can’t be soapy,” I said reaching for his jacket. As I went to help Ari’s arm into the hole, he moved away and insisted, “My hands are still soapy!”

I decided to prove him wrong. I took hold of his small hands and discovered… they were slick!

“You’re right. They are soapy! I’m not sure how they’re soapy since I watched you rinse your hands, but we can rinse them again.”

I didn’t bother to look at Ari’s face since I was confident it was a mix of smug satisfaction and triumph. Alas, we walked to the bathroom together where I proceeded to help him rinse his hands. Ari still took an excess of paper towels, but at least his hands were soap-free AND dry this time!

one little word

My OLW for 2020

My One Little Word of 2019 was reset. When I selected it as my word, I thought it would be the perfect word to help me face any bumps in the road. Little did I know just how off-the-rails the second half of 2019 would be. While there were hassles with both moves and little illnesses for the kids, there were some big things too. 
Three months ago, three missed steps changed the trajectory of my year when I injured my ankle. Then a family member received some terrible medical news. Those two things were enough to wish away 2019. Then, every time things seemed to look up, there were setbacks or bad news. You know the expression when it rains it pours? Well, it has felt as though it’s been pouring over us for a little over three months. And just because it’s a new year — today — doesn’t mean that life is going to get better magically. 
I wish a new year and decade would make everything better, but life doesn’t work like that. And perhaps that’s what made it so hard to select a word to live by this year. At first, I thought “MEH” should be my word since getting to meh would be better than where we’ve been for the past few months. But “MEH” isn’t inspirational. I aspire for more than meh. 
After a lot of thinking, I realized 2020 needs to be a year of restoration. While there’s no going back in time, there is a need to restore my ankle. The health of the family member I mentioned above needs to be restored. Truthfully, there’s a need to restore my role as a daughter, wife, and mother — as I get stronger — so I can return to doing all of the things I used to do since I’ve been dependent on others for many things since late September. Once I am able to restore myself to my previous condition, it’s my sincere hope things will start to feel “normal” again.
There will always be mishaps, injuries, illnesses, and upsets. I’m not looking for perfection. I’m looking for less drama so every day doesn’t feel like it’s just waiting for bad news to be heaped upon it. I’m looking to restore some sense of normalcy my family’s life in 2020. 

slice of life

Color Me Surprised

There are moments in life that take your breath away. If you’re like me, those moments usually involve something beautiful I observe in nature or poignant words I read. This morning, Isabelle took my breath away with something seemingly small she agreed to do for me.

The two of us are away for a couple of nights at a local hotel to celebrate her upcoming birthday. This trip is supposed to be all about her. So, I was hesitant to ask Isabelle if she’d be willing to go to the gym with me so I could do my PT regimen at the hotel. But I asked. And she said yes!

I set Isabelle up in the gym’s lobby, which is nearby to where I am exercising, so I can keep an eye on her. I gave her my iPad with YouTube Kids on guided access. And then I walked away. I did squats on a Bosu, lunges, balancing on one foot, and step-overs. Now I’m on the recumbent bike — typing this — with a few stretches left once I’m off. And Isabelle hasn’t whined about being here once, which is completely out of character for her! My foot, and my heart, are grateful that she understood the importance of Mommy doing her PT today.


Early wishes for a happy new year to all of the Slicers reading this post!