‘Twas the Night Before Day Camp

“Have you gotten any writing done since you got home from the conference?” my husband inquired last night.

I smirked. “Barely! Isabelle only had two school days left after the conference. I’ve had almost no time to myself for over a month. Not that that’s been a bad thing. We’ve had fun, but I have hardly had any time to work on the revisions for my manuscript.”

“Well, at least you’ll have time starting Monday,” Marc said.

“I sure will! Five days a week should be plenty of time to get revisions done and to start on some new writing,” I replied.

Starting tomorrow, Isabelle heads off to day camp for the next four weeks. That’s five days a week for six-and-a-half hours a day. I NEED this time to devote to my writing. However, I’d be lying if I said I’m comfortable about sending her off to day camp tomorrow.

Let’s be honest. I’m worried.

Preschool didn’t have me this concerned. I knew she’d be taken care of by capable teachers.

But day camp is another thing. Day camp is a huge adjustment for any kid. (Maybe that’s why my parents didn’t send me to day camp until I was seven. Hmmm…) There are sunscreen and bug spray she needs have applied. There are swimsuits she needs to be changed into and out of. There are personal belongings she needs to keep track of. There’s staying safe at free swim! All of these are things I’ve either overseen or helped to take care of for the past five-and-a-half years. And tomorrow, my kiddo is on her own. (Yes, I know there are counselors, but they’re teenagers in charge of 15 five-year-olds!)

This afternoon, I spent the day doing what I do best when I am nervous about something. I get organized.

I laid out Isabelle’s clothes. (Normally she picks what she wears, but tomorrow is picture day so I chose.)


I took her on a tour of her backpack so she’d know what she was taking to camp. I explained how she was to get dressed and undressed for swimming. (Sit on a towel, not the ground. Place wet bathing suits into a Ziploc when finished. Let me know if I need to send two towels in the future since tomorrow I’m only sending one.) I showed her a laminated picture chart of the items she was to bring home with her. (She is a people-watcher who will be more interested in what other kids are doing than in packing herself up at the end of the day.)


I pulled her curls into a tight slop-knot tonight so it would be easier for me to put her hair into a ponytail tomorrow. (She was shocked the counselors wouldn’t be willing to remove her bow, which she always wears, and tie her hair up in a ponytail prior to swim.)


I made her lunch.

She requested half of a tuna sandwich for tomorrow. (BTW: She rarely eats tuna fish. That said, I complied with her odd request.)

She requested half of a tuna sandwich for tomorrow. (BTW: She rarely eats tuna fish. That said, I complied with her odd request.)

I even put her socks in her sneakers.


And yet, I am still worried. Thankfully, she seems as cool as a cucumber. (I guess that is good. Either it means I’m doing a good job hiding my nerves or she’s oblivious to how much she’s going to have to do on her own!)

I know she will be less than ten minutes away. She will be fine.

And I will be fine too. Perhaps more than fine. Maybe by Tuesday, I’ll even be productive.

—-Updated at 5:00 p.m. on 7/18.—-

Isabelle had a great day at camp! She came home with all of her belongings (Thanks to the help of one of her counselors!) and ate nearly all of her lunch.

Proof of what was eaten! (BTW: I knew she wouldn't eat the tuna sandwich.)

Proof of what was eaten!
(BTW: I knew she wouldn’t eat the tuna sandwich.)

I'm going with a lunch I know she'll eat tomorrow: YOGURT!

I’m going with a lunch I know she’ll eat tomorrow: YOGURT!

I nearly had a heart attack on the car ride home when Isabelle told me she jumped in a bounce house — after some coaxing from adults — when it rained this afternoon. (We’re a no-bounce house family since they’re one of the leading causes of emergency room visits for American children.) She knew she wasn’t supposed to do it, but she told me, “I was careful.” While I appreciated how careful she was, I reminded her that she didn’t want to spend her summer in a cast (or in a cast after having surgery) so I asked her not to go in it again. Even though she promised she’d be careful, I ended the conversation by asking, “If you get hurt in a bounce house and land up in a cast, whose fault will it be?”

Even though she promised she’d be careful, I ended the conversation by asking, “If you get hurt in a bounce house and land up in a cast, whose fault will it be?”

To which Isabelle responded, “Mine.”

Hopefully, she’ll make a smart decision. But just in case, I emailed the head of the camp to ask that the counselors redirect her to another activity the next time the bounce house is a choice. I already received an email back stating: Not a problem – I will speak to the staff

Not a problem – I will speak to the staff tomorrow and let them know to direct Isabelle to another area in the play room. Whew!


Other than that, it was a great day!


The Prayer Police

I didn’t cover my eyes for the Shema prayer, which is a declaration that there is one G-d, until I was a freshman in college. I was shocked to see so many people covering their eyes at Hillel during my first Friday night service. Being someone who’s never buckled to peer pressure, I didn’t close mine. Instead, I waited a few weeks to ask someone about the significance of closing the eyes for the Shema. I was told one covers their eyes for the Shema as a way to concentrate fully on the meaning behind the prayer. That wasn’t the custom in the Reform synagogue in which I grew up. However, the reasoning behind covering the eyes made sense to me so I started doing it. However, instead of covering my eyes with my right hand, I opted to close my eyelids.

Fast-forward 21 years. I say the Shema prayer with Isabelle at bedtime. This past year, as part of her first religious school experience, she learned the Shema. We chant it every night using the exact tune and tempo her teacher taught her. Everything was going along swimmingly with our nightly Shema until sometime last week when we were on vacation. Apparently, Isabelle uncovered her eyes one night and found my eyelids were closed, rather than covered by my right hand. She’s been bugging me about covering my eyes ever since. Whatever, I thought. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.

This evening, at bedtime, the prayer police got on my case again. “Mommy, cover your eyes.”

So I did. And it wasn’t because I felt pressured. It’s because I wanted to see what would happen if I did. Would Isabelle notice? Because if she did, that would mean her eyes wouldn’t be closed.

I know I was supposed to be concentrating on the prayer (Hence, the reason for the covered eyes), but just before the final word of the Shema, I peeked through my right hand to see what Isabelle was doing. Not only were her eyes opened, transfixed on the wall, but she had her finger over her lips as she sang. Whaaaat?!?!?

Just before I kissed Isabelle good-night, I asked, “Were your eyes covered for the Shema?”

“Yes,” she said.

While it’s possible they were up until that last moment, I kind of doubt it.

I see a conversation in our future — long before bedtime hits tomorrow — about WHY we’re supposed to close and cover our eyes for the Shema. Clearly, she’s been told to do it. And I’m sure her teacher explained why they’re supposed to cover their eyes. However, I think it’s time for a refresher because no one wants to have the prayer police on their case!

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

My 5 year-old was makeupless for her dance recital. #sol16

Isabelle’s first dance recital took place last night. If you’ve talked to me lately (or read this blog post I wrote in March), then you know I haven’t been that excited about the recital. Some of my lack of enthusiasm had to do with the emphasis on performance rather than acquisition of discernable ballet and tap skills. Some of my lack of enthusiasm surrounded the fact that the rehearsal and recital went beyond Isabelle’s bedtime. And some of my lack of enthusiasm revolved around the idea of five-year-olds being requested to wear makeup.
So, about the makeup. If you read my March post, you might remember makeup was encouraged, but not required for preschool dancers. Seeing as it was optional, I opted not to put any on Isabelle. I figured I’d cave and allow her to wear lipstick if she really wanted to wear makeup because her peers were. In reality, I felt strongly that she didn’t wear it since she’s only five. (Believe me, I have nothing against makeup. I’m rarely out without it. I just don’t think it is for little girls.)
Isabelle either didn’t care or didn’t notice she was the only kid in her dance class without makeup. None of the other moms questioned me about it. (Note: We changed to a different class in early April.) And you know what? When asked, my husband said Isabelle’s lack of makeup didn’t make a lick of difference to him sitting in the audience. He was able to see her face the same as every other kid in her class.  (I was back stage so I was able to see all of the girls exactly the same.) 
I’m feeling slightly triumphant now about the makeup thing. But despite all of my disdain for everything that revolved around the recital (which also included the fact that the preschoolers’ moms were required to stay backstage rather than being allowed to watch the performance from the audience), I am pleased Isabelle had the courage to get up on stage, in front of hundreds of people, to perform without stage freight. That is a huge accomplishment! 

End of the tap routine.

Seeing the World in Black & White

Isabelle walked into my bedroom while I was watching the first few minutes of “CBS This Morning.” A story about Hillary Clinton being the presumptive nominee was on. The report featured an excerpt of Bernie Sanders speaking in California. Isabelle seemed unimpressed by what she saw.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Shades of gray don’t apply to the preschool brain, do they? In Isabelle’s mind (& I’m sure many other kids’ minds), they see the world in terms of good guys and bad guys. And apparently, if someone is raising their voice — in Isabelle’s world — they aren’t a good guy.

Empowering a Kid

Last week, I encouraged Isabelle to fix herself an after school snack rather than relying on me to do it. While I’d still handle refrigerator items (eg, cheese, veggies, or fruit), she would be in charge of pantry items, like granola bars and crackers.

Things were going along fine until 45 minutes before dinner this evening. She’d showered after returning from the pool. She beat us downstairs. As Marc and I walked downstairs — talking about what was for dinner — Isabelle’s voice called out, “I’m having a snack!”

Whaaaat? No way.

She spoke up again, “I made myself a snack… of Bunnies.” 

I glanced at Marc. We snickered & giggled. 

Look what I’ve done!

We walked into the kitchen, just 45 minutes before dinnertime, and found Isabelle snacking on not only Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies but on tortilla chips too! Nice pre-dinner snack, eh?

At least she found a paper cup to put the Bunnies in rather than spreading them all over the table. 

Dinner Delivery

Today was the kind of day where I felt like I was running-running-running. In fact, this (8:45 p.m.) is the first “down time” since I rolled out of bed this morning. At one point, I doubted I was going to get everything accomplished today. You know why? I needed to make dinner in the middle of the afternoon.

That’s right. I stopped working on the study guide I’m writing for Craft Moves at 1:30 p.m. so I could make dinner.

But why? you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Lauren, one of my closest friends here in PA, had her third child earlier this month. Her husband went back to work today and she was home alone with her three boys for the first time today. Therefore, I wanted to deliver dinner to her doorstep so she wouldn’t have to cook tonight.

Even though I was making great progress on the study guide, I stepped away from the computer and headed into the kitchen at 1:30, which I thought would give me plenty of time to make the salad and to adapt and cook the black bean spinach enchiladas recipe.

I thought wrong. By 2:00 p.m., my kitchen looked like this:

What a mess!

By 2:30 p.m., I had Lauren’s family’s enchiladas in the oven, but hadn’t prepped ours yet. (Ours had to be made without corn in the filling.) At that same time, I realized I hadn’t eaten lunch yet!

I wolfed down some leftover pasta while I made our family’s enchiladas for supper. The plus side: I didn’t have to make dinner at 5:30 p.m.

By 2:45 p.m., I was supposed to be out the door. However, I realized I hadn’t wrapped the baby’s gift yet. I ran to the closet, found some baby paper, and wrapped it quickly. Five minutes later, everything was ready to go.

Disposable Containers: Because no new mom really wants to do dishes!

I was out the door by 2:54 p.m., which was nine minutes later than I wanted to be out the door.

While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, I had to drive to the West Shore of Harrisburg. While that isn’t a huge distance mileage wise, it would require me to get onto I-83, which tends to start getting clogged up at 3:00 p.m. Today was no different.

I made it to Lauren’s house ten minutes later than expected. While my lateness wasn’t a big deal to her, it was to me, since I had to go back in the other direction to pick Isabelle up from school by 3:45 p.m.

I took a back route to Isabelle’s school, but the back route meant I kept hitting 15 MPH school zones. By the grace of G-d, I made it to Isabelle’s school with three minutes to spare!

Dashboard Clock

Of course, we had another appointment, ten miles away at 4:00 p.m. Somehow, I made it there with two minutes to spare.

All that being said, now that I’m reflecting on my hectic afternoon, I think I should’ve walked away from the study guide a little earlier.

* * * * *

A few notes:

  • If you like the enchilada recipe I linked to above, I adapted it so it was gluten-free. Here’s what I did: I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour and corn tortillas.
  • I received a thank you note from Lauren. Here’s an excerpt from her email to me, which includes her son Jack‘s reaction to dinner:

Lauren:”Ms. Stacey made us dinner.”
Jack: “Isabelle’s mom or Lily’s mom?”
Lauren: “Isabelle’s mom.”
Jack: “Yum! She is a really good cook.”

I agree:)

..big hit here:)

Thanks again for taking such good care of us! It was delicious!

Last Day of Preschool Writing

Today was my final day volunteering in Isabelle’s preschool class’s writing center. While she still has another four weeks left of preschool, her class is studying pets. Parents are encouraged to bring their dogs, cats, birds, etc. into school. (NOTE: I have pet allergies and asthma. Not a good combo!) Therefore, I had to declare today as my last day, which disappointed my daughter. Isabelle knows how bad my allergies are so she understood as best as a five-year-old can understand that kind of thing.

I’m glad I have kept records (on this blog and in Evernote) about the times I volunteered in Isabelle’s classroom this year. Fortunately, I wrote about the first time I volunteered there in September so I’m able to see growth. Here are some things I noticed about Isabelle’s growth as a writer in the past eight months:

  • Her stamina has increased. In September, it was challenging for Isabelle to sit for more than five minutes without whining to produce a page. Today, she spent over a half-hour at the writing center working on her book.
  • Her drawings of people are more representational. In September, her people didn’t have bodies. Now, they all have bodies as well as other features!
  • Her volume has swelled. In September, she drew one page and told a simple story about it. Now, she’s “writing” six pages! (NOTE: She’s not writing strings of letters to represent her words. She’s still dictating to me and I’m writing. However, she’s drawing across pages.)
  • Her drawings contain details. Sometimes she needs help thinking about what kinds of things she should draw on a page to communicate the meaning of the scene, but she’s gotten stronger at embedding relevant details in her pictures. (For instance, in the dance studio picture, top right below, she wanted to draw tap shoes on the girls. She also felt it was important to draw their dance bags since they change out of their tap shoes into ballet shoes at the midpoint of each class.)

She has grown as a writer one Monday at a time. I’m sure she would’ve grown more had I not taken off time for my surgery, work-related commitments, and prenatal appointments. Despite me missing several Mondays, she has progressed this year. Here’s what she wrote today:

On the car ride to school, I asked Isabelle what kind of story she wanted to tell today. Nothing came to mind. (She didn’t want to write about anything that happened over the weekend.) Therefore, I suggested that she could write about her interests. I asked her, “What do you like to do when you’re not at school?” She had a LOT of responses. Therefore, I suggested she could write a book about things she does outside of school. Thankfully, she went with it!


While some of Isabelle’s drawings are a little sparse (e.g., the Hershey Story one), some include lots of detail. Truth be told, she was losing stamina, but still willing to work, by page six (Hersheypark). I encouraged her to add green dinosaurs to show her reader what kind of ride she was on since I told her writers add details to help their readers understand where their stories take place. Fortunately, she added the setting details to her picture without pushback.

Do we have more work to do at home this summer to make sure she feels more confident with writing as she approaches Kindergarten? Absolutely! For now, I’m enjoying the gains Isabelle made this year. As you’ll see (if you look at where she was in September or even where she was in January), she has grown by leaps and bounds!

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Laughable Legs

I’ve shown Isabelle ultrasound pictures from my 12-week and 16-week scans. She’s been less than impressed when looking at the images of her future brother since she has a hard time conceptualizing how the outline on the screen can actually be a person. Even though she knows a baby starts out as small as a poppy seed and grows into something the size of a watermelon, she doesn’t truly understand how much time it takes for a baby to develop.

I had an anatomy scan of the baby yesterday since I’m almost 20 weeks into my pregnancy. As usual, the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department sent me home with a “parting gift” (i.e., a CD-ROM of pictures and videos). I was hesitant about showing the pictures and videos to Isabelle since I know she hasn’t thought much of the previous scans. In fact, I wasn’t even going to do it. But then she snuggled up on my lap before she left for school this morning. While she was there, asking where the baby was (Even though she knows he’s in my belly, not my armpit!) I found myself telling her where the baby’s head, torso, and legs were.

“How do you know?” she asked.

“Because I had an ultrasound yesterday. Someone took pictures and videos of the baby so I know exactly where he is. Do you want to see?”


I started with the videos since they capture her baby brother opening and closing his mouth. However, each of the videos was two to three seconds long so she wasn’t disappointed she didn’t see that much. (I couldn’t blame her.)

Next, I showed her his profile.


I pointed out his nose, his mouth, etc. She was unimpressed.

I thought the image of his feet next to one another would excite her.


I was wrong. She didn’t seem to care that he had ten toesies. (I sure did!)

I didn’t think anything would excite her as I flipped through the images, but I was wrong. THIS photo made her burst out laughing:


I have no idea what it was about seeing his leg that made her laugh so hard, but she did. And not for just a second. She chuckled for a good 30 seconds!

“Why is that so funny?” I inquired.

“He’s got a leg!” she giggled.

Yes, he does. And thankfully, he has two of them.

Maybe I’ll take her along with me for my 32-week ultrasound. That’s when the techs can get a good 3D image. We’ll see if that impresses her. (Hopefully, the 3D images won’t creep her out like it did to me when I was pregnant with Isabelle nearly six years ago.)


Words That Rhyme

IMG_7427We read lots of books that rhyme, but until very recently, Isabelle hasn’t been able to form rhymes of her own. In the past two weeks, Isabelle has been making connections between words that rhyme. It’s usually one or two pairs of words per day. I love hearing her rhymes when they happen. Well, most of the time.

Today things got silly.

We were practicing articulation after school. She came up with two words — phone and bone — that rhymed. I was delighted. Perhaps too delighted. After making two more rhymes with her practice words her rhyming ability went off the rails. She began making up nonsense words to make them rhyme. While initially cute, it turned our no-more-than-15-minute practice session into a half hour. (Like most kids, she doesn’t want to sit down to practice her speech after school. Hence the reason I promise a short, intense session.)

After about five minutes, I started recording. (I couldn’t resist.)

Robe and bobe? Robot? Rowboat? Oh my!

We’ll keep working on rhyming.

What’s in a name?

My husband and I shared the news with Isabelle nearly three weeks ago. We spent the next two weeks calling our families to share the news. Then, we shared our announcement on Facebook last week. Now it’s time to share the news with my Slicer friends.

We’re expecting a baby this fall!

My first trimester was filled with fatigue and nausea. The past three weeks were going better. However, yesterday I received a diagnosis of placenta previa that will make my pregnancy a bit more high-risk. Overall, I feel good, but I’m a bit nervous about what’s to come. (Aren’t most expectant mothers nervous?) As I’ve said since I found out I was pregnant, I’m proceeding with cautious optimism.

But, on to the fun stuff. Naming the baby!

Isabelle wants to be involved. Take a listen to this audio recording to find out why Isabelle will not be in charge of picking her future baby brother’s name:

Isabelle is excited about being a big sister! She is constantly talking about all of the things she wants to do and share with the baby, which is adorable. She kisses my growing belly and talks to the baby at least once a day. All that said, she’s not going to be in charge of naming this sweet boy once he arrives. That will be up to me and Marc!


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