slice of life

A Later Bedtime

I added olive tapenade, red pepper, and baby spinach to the saucepan. I forgot the parsley. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I turned around to retrieve it because my turn-around was coupled with a little girl’s voice calling “Mommy?”

I yelped. “What’s going on?” I asked — petrified.

Isabelle giggled. “I can’t sleep.”

I looked at the clock, which read 7:39 p.m. Nine minutes past her bedtime, but seeing as she’s been off from school for the past week, it was way earlier than she’d been going to bed. Therefore, even though she has school tomorrow morning, I invited her to hang out with us while I prepared dinner. She agreed.

At first, she was loud. I invited her to join us for quiet conversation at the dinner table. She declined.

Then, she was wild. She started hanging off the side of the couch. I asked her to stop.

Next, she was non-compliant. Not only did she continue to hang upside down off the side of the couch, but she stopped listening to directions. I felt myself growing frustrated for not having marched her back up to her bedroom, so I started to ignore the negative attention-seeking behavior and kept on eating.

Eventually, Ari finished dinner (since he had to hug “Bunna,” a stuffed bunny Lynne recently gave him). That’s when things got entertaining. Isabelle brought Bunna over and the three of them sat on the kitchen floor (Don’t ask me why. We do have proper seating in our home!) together. Then, they began playing “chase” — and laughing hysterically — around the kitchen table and island while Marc and I continued eating our dinner. I looked at Marc. We smiled knowingly at each other. No words were spoken. They didn’t need to be. We knew what each other was thinking. We are lucky to have these kids… living in this house… chasing each other… causing a raucous.

img_8943The racket waned momentarily. Next, Isabelle was helping Ari jump off of a Huggies wipes box that had yet to be brought upstairs from the grocery store. She was holding onto his hands encouraging him to take a jump. Once that grew old, the kids took a play motorcycle ride through the great room as we attempted to clean up. I glanced between my husband and my children. It’s easy to feel frustrated when kids life doesn’t go as planned. However, Isabelle’s later bedtime allowed me to observe my children’s pure love for one another. It also reminded me of how grateful I am for these people with whom I am fortunate to spend my days.

slice of life_individual
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slice of life

There’s no substitute for Muttsy. Or is there?

We returned home to Pennsylvania this afternoon after being away for the Passover holiday. On the way from my in-laws’ house to my parents’ house, we received this from Linda, my mother-in-law:

Oh. My. G-d.

The dog she was referring to is Muttsy, which is one of four stuffed animals Ari sleeps with in his crib each night. However, Muttsy the Dog is the one he cuddles underneath his arm when he goes to bed. It’s always Muttsy under his arm.

Thankfully, Ari was fine without Muttsy during his stay at my parents’ house. He happily slept with a stuffed Panda that was mine as a child.

However, when it came time to put Ari down for a nap this afternoon — at home — the first thing he said as I carried him over to his crib was “Dog!”

“Why don’t you sleep with Ducky? Or Lion? Or Giraffe!” I offered.


Kiddo, I thought, your dog is in Connecticut and won’t be here until your grandparents come in two weeks.

But then another thought came to mind. Isabelle has the same dog! What if I gave Ari Isabelle’s Muttsy?!?!? It’s worth a try!

Years ago, my parents purchased three stuffed Muttsy dogs from FAO Schwarz and had them wrapped up for their future grandchildren. They gave the first one to Isabelle on her first birthday. They gave Ari his Muttsy on his first birthday. (And the third one went to a friend’s baby recently since I am not having any more children!) Isabelle never took to Muttsy the way Ari did so her Muttsy looks brand new despite being out of the box for six years since it spends most of its days inside a drawer in her playroom.

I dashed downstairs and started looking through the playroom bins without asking Isabelle for permission. (Because all I needed was for her to get possessive over a stuffed animal she never plays with.) After about two minutes, I found Isabelle’s Muttsy. I gave it the once-over and brought it upstairs. He will never know, I thought.

And quite frankly, I don’t think he did. But it was also in the way I sold it when I walked into his room. “Look who I found!” I announced.

“Dog!” Ari grinned. He grabbed the dog from me, tucked it under his left arm, and said, “Night-night!”

I have a feeling we’re going to survive the next two weeks.

Jewish · slice of life

Biblical and Modern Plagues

Passover begins at sundown tonight. It’s not my favorite Jewish holiday (because of the dietary restrictions), but it’s an important one. In fact, the greatest purpose of the Seder is to pass down the Passover story from generation to generation. And that’s what we will do tonight and tomorrow evening. We will retell the story of the time our ancestors were enslaved in Egypt so they understand how we came to be free. And eventually, it is my hope that my children will understand that we have to do things to help those who are not yet free.

I haven’t allowed Isabelle to put nail polish on her fingernails yet. However, when I saw biblical and modern plague nail decals from Midrash Manicures, I thought it would be a special holiday-only treat for Isabelle. Plus, it would afford me with an opportunity to talk to her about the biblical plagues that were inflicted upon the Egyptians and the modern plagues we suffer from in today’s society.

So that’s what we did this morning. I gave Isabelle a mini-manicure and talked to her about the plagues our ancestors witnessed and the plagues of modern society — like global warming, binge-watching, taking selfies, and distraction — that are often self-inflicted. While I think she’s a long way from true understanding about both the biblical and modern plagues, it was a fun way to prepare for Passover.

Isabelle choose a mix of modern plagues (on six fingers) and biblical plagues (on four fingers). From left to right, here are the decals she’s sporting:

  1. Lice (biblical)
  2. Cattle disease (biblical)
  3. Caffeine (modern)
  4. Low battery (modern)
  5. Global warming (modern)
  6. Fast food (modern)
  7. Texting (modern)
  8. Binge watching (modern)
  9. Boils (biblical)
  10. Frogs (biblical)

slice of life

“He smells like a baby.”

A few days ago, Isabelle gave Ari a whiff and declared, “He smells like a baby.”

Naturally, I thought he pooped. After several sniffs, I determined he hadn’t. In fact, I sniffed him all over and determined he smelled fine.

“If he has a smell, it’s a perfectly normal smell for a baby,” I declared while channeling my inner Pigeon (from The Pigeon Needs a Bath).

“Well,” Isabelle muttered as if it were an insult, “I still think he smells like a baby.”

This evening, after Ari’s bottle, I held him close on my chest and sang to him like I do every night. I breathed in his baby smell. Not his baby-baby smell, which was when he always smelled like spit-up and Alimentum formula that seemed to waft out of his pores. Instead, he smelled like a light baby shampoo with a touch of whole milk. I breathed in his scent again. This time, I realized that by this time next year, he may not even be taking nighttime bottles. While that probably means a more normal bedtime routine — and more time for my own endeavors — I will miss these nightly snuggles with my sweet-smelling baby.

slice of life

Drive! Drive! Drive!

My kids almost drove through the window of a car dealership the last time they hung out in a car inside of dealership. (I exaggerate… a little.) Therefore, when I took the minivan in for a 5,000 mile checkup, I entered the cars with Ari when he wanted to check them out.

I didn’t anticipate hanging out inside of any cars. After all, our Honda dealership has a kids’ room in the service area. However, Ari was less than thrilled with the play space, which consisted of one baby toy and a television. Instead, he wanted to greet the people in the waiting room (and then try to snag their water bottles) and look at the cars.

Ari inspected the exterior of a blue HRV. The hood was popped and he tried to reach inside to explore. Even though the car looked clean, it made me cringe. Therefore, I offered to go inside the vehicle with him. It’s amazing how sitting behind a steering wheel, pressing buttons, and standing on seats can make the time go by quickly! 45 minutes after we arrived, I noticed our minivan parked outside. While Ari probably could’ve stayed a little longer, I was eager to get home so I wouldn’t have to hold onto his legs as he stood on the seats and peered out of the car’s open windows!

siblings · slice of life · technology

Naughty Moments


This morning, I asked Isabelle to watch Ari while I went upstairs to brush my teeth. Whenever I’ve asked this of her in the past she has played with him. Today she had another idea.

On my way back downstairs I heard voices, but they weren’t my children’s voices. She turned on the TV! I was infuriated since I don’t allow TV before school. I thought about tiptoeing downstairs and catching her in the act, but I worried she would’ve heard my footsteps and turned it off before I walked into the room. So I called to her from the staircase, “I hear the TV and want to see what you’re watching.”

Isabelle looked so guilty when I entered our great room. Thankfully, she was only watching “The Cat in the Hat” with Ari who was standing right up against the TV screen, which is NOT a good thing if you’re in charge of your baby brother. (Reasons I don’t like her to watch TV when Ari is around.)

I punished her in a way that benefitted me. No KidzBop in the car this morning! (BTW: I listened to the Beatles Channel, which was delightful.)


Ari started climbing onto the couch a few days ago. Thing is, Ari doesn’t just sit on the couch like a normal kid. He walks back and forth on the sectional. Also, he likes to stand in place and wave the quilt, which hangs on the wall, in a way that makes me cringe every time.

Perhaps the funniest part of Ari standing up on the couch (to touch the quilt) is that he knows he shouldn’t be doing it. He smiles as he touches it, makes eye contact with me, and then says “no-no” as he grabs the material and gives it a shake.

slice of life


I took my minivan for a much-needed car wash today. Once I re-entered my car, I looked around at how clean everything was. (I splurged on having the interior windows cleaned and the floor mats vacuumed since they needed some TLC too.) For some reason, I looked up and noticed the top of the car. Was this always here? I wondered when I noticed the sunroof shade in its closed position. (Of course it has been! However, I’ve only been driving this vehicle for four months — most of which were winter months — so I hadn’t noticed it before.)

I grabbed the handle and slid it back. The early-spring sky was revealed through the glass. It was bright blue and breathtaking! (It is still too cold to open the roof to the elements!) I rode around marveling at the sky every time the car came to a stop.

The sunroof has been a source of contention between me and my husband. I love having the shade open while he likes it closed. In our previous family car, I let him close down the sunroof when he was driving or when he was a seated passenger while I was driving. But whenever he wasn’t with me, it remained open. Feeling the extra sunshine today made me rethink my position on keeping it closed when I’m the driver and he’s my passenger.

I picked up Isabelle from art class this afternoon and she noticed the extra sunlight immediately. Before she got seatbelted, she stood up in the middle of the minivan and shut the shade.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m closing that. It’s too sunny,” she replied.

“I’m the driver and I like it. So, it’s going to stay opened,” I said as I slid the shade to its open again. Ah, sunshine!

See, that was easy, I thought. The driver makes the rules.

Except when it comes to picking music these days. When Isabelle’s in the car, I have to play KidzBop to keep the peace.

Fine, I thought. She can have KidzBop and I can have sunshine. We’ll be even.

I took this photo right before I wrote my post this evening. See? Even our garage ceiling looks better through the sunroof!
slice of life_individual
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siblings · slice of life

Sunday Breakfast

Soon after Marc learned about my father’s tradition of taking me out to breakfast on Sunday mornings when I was a kid, he adopted a similar tradition with Isabelle. Every Sunday morning, when Marc isn’t on-call at the hospital, he takes Isabelle out for breakfast. Sometimes they take Ari, but most of the time it’s just the two of them.

In the past few months, Isabelle has gotten frustrated about missing “Sunday Breakfasts with Daddy” when he’s on-call. Therefore, I usually take her and Ari out for breakfast at Starbucks on one of the weekend days when Marc is working to make up for missing the special breakfast with Daddy.

This morning, I offered to take Isabelle to breakfast, but not to Starbucks. I wanted to change it up. (I always want to change it up, but she always wants to go to the same Starbucks so she can order a blueberry muffin and chocolate milk.) I looked Isabelle square in the eye and said, “I will take you and your brother out, but it has to be some place other than Starbucks.” She agreed so I checked a couple of menus and found a place that suited us (i.e., gluten-free options, pancakes, high chair, diaper changing table, reasonable prices). So I packed the kids up in the car — once Ari woke up — and drove to Tomato Pie Cafe.

When we arrived, we had to wait a few minutes for a table to open. Therefore, I set down the diaper bag, Isabelle’s art bag, and the coats on a chair. I stood in line while Isabelle said, “C’mon Ari, let’s walk!”

“Stay where I can see you,” I said while pointing to an area with couches.

Isabelle led Ari over to an area with a raised platform. Without my prompting or asking, she helped him up and down onto the platformed area — multiple times (Because nothing is more fun than doing something a gazillion times when you’re 18-months old!). When Ari looked like he wanted to sit on a couch, Isabelle gave him a boost. Every time he attempted to bolt away from her, she caught him and said, “Stay with me, Ari.”

I smiled from my perch at the hostess stand. There was no bitterness towards having to chase after her brother. No frustration that she was out with me and Ari — instead of Daddy — on a Sunday morning. She was content to help him, as many times as he needed, to stay safe. Good gosh, I thought, I am so lucky to have kids who adore each other (at least for now).


Once we were seated, my phone vibrated in my pocket. It was Marc. He finished rounding earlier than expected so he could meet up with us! While he got there after we ordered, he managed to join us, which was an unexpected treat!

celebrations · slice of life

Everyone should celebrate their half birthday!

The day Isabelle turned four-and-a-half, I took her for a cupcake at the Hershey Pantry. The day she turned five-and-a-half, I made her chocolate chip pancakes and stuck 5.5 candles into the pancake stack. The day Isabelle turned six-and-a-half, we went out to a playground with friends and then we drove to Leo’s Homemade Ice Cream in Carlisle to celebrate. There was a #6 candle with half of another candle sticking out of her ice cream. Oh, and Teddy came too!

Now that celebrating Isabelle’s half birthday has become an annual tradition, Isabelle expected a good answer from me when she inquired about the special treat Ari would have on his half birthday (which was earlier this week).

“I don’t have anything planned,” I replied. “He’s only one-and-a-half.”

Isabelle hugged her brother and said, “I think you need ice cream today.” Then she turned to me and said, “He needs a special treat — like ice cream — today.”

“He’s a baby,” I replied.

“So?” she asked. “We celebrate my half birthday every year.”

“We didn’t celebrate it when you were a baby,” I replied.

“Well, we should celebrate Ari because he’s such a cutey baby. Aren’t you, Ari?” she cooed at him.

Ari drooled. (He’s teething.)

“I don’t think he knows it’s his half birthday,” I said.

“But you know. And I know. We need to celebrate.”

With that, I changed the subject, reminding her — for what seemed like the tenth time (and probably was) — to put her shoes on for school.

As the day went on, I started thinking more about Ari’s half birthday. While he didn’t know it was his half birthday, the rest of us knew. And therefore, we should do something special. I was too busy to pull off anything during the week, but I knew I would have more time on the weekend. Seeing as a few days wouldn’t make much of a difference to Ari, I decided to wait until the weekend to celebrate.


This morning, we piled into the minivan and headed south to Carlisle. Our destination? Leo’s Homemade Ice Cream. We were going to have ice cream for lunch!

And we did!

Ari enjoyed a kids’ cup of vanilla fudge swirl ice cream, while the rest of us consumed our favorite flavors. The highlight of my day wasn’t the kids’ cup of ice cream [a nice splurge since I’ve been steadily (albeit slowly) losing baby weight for the past six months] I ate. Rather, it was starting the tradition — with the entire family present — of celebrating Ari’s half birthday too.

slice of life

Lost… Again!

After Isabelle brushed her teeth last night, she declared, “I can’t find Teddy!”

I groaned audibly. Anyone who knows us well knows this was a common theme. Teddy’s been left behind at Giant and at a Bat Mitzvah. But just like Knuffle Bunny and Trixie, Teddy and Isabelle always get reunited.

We searched Isabelle’s bedroom. No Teddy.

I encouraged Isabelle to check her play room for Teddy. She did. No Teddy.

I told Isabelle to sweep the upstairs of the house for Teddy. She asked me to come. I refused. I reminded her that Teddy was her responsibility. (After all, she is seven-years-old!) Still… no Teddy.

“I can’t sleep without Teddy,” she whined.

“Yes, yes you can. You lost her in the house two weeks ago and slept just fine without her. Sleep with Schleppy.” I told her.

“But Schleppy isn’t Teddy,” Isabelle retorted.

“You slept with Schleppy every night until you replaced Schleppy with Teddy. So, yes, you can sleep with Schleppy.”

“Fine,” she pouted.

I used my best bear voice to impersonate Schleppy, who gave her a small guilt trip, “Why don’t you love me anymore, Isabelle? You used to snuggle with me every night!”

“That’s you, Mommy, right?” she said.

“This has always been my voice. Are you doubting I’m real?” Schleppy asked Isabelle.

Isabelle smiled and played along, “I know you’re real Schleppy. You can sleep with me tonight.”

“Thank you,” I — I mean — Schleppy replied.

We said our prayers and said good night.


Before Ari woke up this morning, I walked into the laundry room to place some items in the hamper. Right there, on top of the drying rack, this is what I saw:

“Teddy! You’re found… again!” (Yes, I talked to the bear. But you have to understand, if you had to deal with your child losing her own teddy bear in your house, you’d talk to a stuffed bear to express relief too!)

I set Teddy outside of Isabelle’s door since she had already left for school. However, once Ari found her in the hallway, he took it upon himself to give Teddy kisses.

I sent Marc a photo of Ari hugging Teddy. Together, we decided Isabelle would not be happy about Ari playing with Teddy. Therefore, I placed Teddy on her bed so she could reunite with Teddy after school.