preschool · slice of life · writing

Preschool Writing

It’s been a hot minute since I was a guest in Isabelle’s preschool class during writing time. While I’ve been away from the preschool classroom for the past 5.5 years, I’ve read a bit about emergent writing since I knew I’d eventually work with Ari as he grew as a writer. Never-did-I-ever imagine I’d be in a homeschool situation where I was tasked as his preschool teacher! #ThanksDeltaVariant

Ari thinks about the next letter he’ll write on the paper.

Ari prefers to do math with me rather than write beside me. As his teacher-mom, I have to make sure we tackle all subject areas. Therefore, I called in some reinforcements to get him excited about writing this week. Who did I invite to writing time? His stuffed puppies, of course!

For the past couple of days, Ari has been more excited to write because I let him select new writing utensils from my office. (He picked an orange mechanical pencil.) I’ve shared some new paper choices with him too. Also, his enthusiasm to write has increased since he’s writing about his stuffies. Here’s a look at what he wrote this morning:

“I am rubbing Murphy’s belly.” Murphy was one of Isabelle’s stuffed dogs, which she bequeathed to Ari about a year ago. On a different note, I adore Ari’s over-generalization about periods. Notice there’s one after his first name. He insisted it was there. Apparently, Ari is a complete thought.

I’m not sure how many pages about puppies he’ll write in the weeks to come. I know he has a lot of stuffies so it’s possible he might create a book about them! I’m hoping to direct him into storytelling or all-about books. For now, I’m just happy he is willing to sit alongside me to write!

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COVID-19 · OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

The Mercury Dropped & the Kids Went Into Hiding

Last week, we enjoyed several days in the mid-60s with glorious sunshine. It felt unseasonable for November, but who was I to complain? I walked for five (or six) consecutive days. It was glorious!

Cooler weather moved in over the weekend. With that, hats and hoods made their way onto my children’s heads when they went outside today. When I looked at them, prepped for both the cold weather they were going to walk in and the encounters they were about to have with people outside of our household, I laughed. Between their winter head coverings and their masks for COVID safety, I barely found their faces!

Every now and then they agree to be photographed when I find something funny. I’m thankful each of them humored me today. Isabelle’s mask is a CastleGrade G7. Ari’s mask is a three-ply polar bear mask from Old Navy.

Could you imagine what they’d look like if they donned a pair of sunglasses too?

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COVID-19 · medical · slice of life

Mile Marker 25 of the Marathon

I’m not a runner. However, I remember watching the NYC Marathon regularly as a child and as a young adult living in Manhattan. While I never yearned to run so much as a mile in PE class, I have some basic knowledge about marathons. I know there are 26.2 miles in a marathon and the runners look more energetic running up First Avenue than they do running into Central Park.

While I haven’t done the exact calculations, but if the past 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic were a marathon, then as of today our family is finally at mile marker 25. Why? Because we were able to get our kids vaccinated today!

Tears welled up in my eyes when Isabelle received her vaccine.

Here’s a funny story about how today’s vaccinations went:

We took the kids to a local pharmacy where Isabelle had her flu shot last year. She remembered the pharmacist as being “a good shot giver.” Since Isabelle gets weekly allergy shots, she was confident going into today. Ari allowed her to get the first jab since he was starting to get cold feet. Isabelle took her vaccination like a pro. The pharmacist fist-bumped her once the needle was out of her arm.

Ari began to panic when it was his turn. He didn’t want to remove his sweater. He worried it was going to hurt. (He didn’t cry during this year or last year’s flu shot so we were surprised he was getting antsy.) The pharmacist was reassuring and patient with him. Once we got his sweater off and had his arm cleaned off with alcohol, the pharmacist told Ari, “If it hurts, you can hit me at the end.”

I sat down on the chair and had Ari climb into my lap. I held his wrists gently so he wouldn’t move his arms when it was time for the injection. The pharmacist told him, “Look at your sister,” but Ari chose to watch the needle plunge into his skin. He didn’t cry or flinch. And in a 1-2-3, it was over!

“Did it hurt?” the pharmacist asked Ari.

“Yeah, a little,” Ari replied.

“You can hit me then,” he said.

I was shocked when Ari slapped the pharmacist’s forearm. I didn’t think he’d do it, but he was invited to do so twice... so I can’t blame him! Thankfully, he didn’t hit him with malice. In fact, the pharmacist chuckled.

After we donned our coats, I gathered the kids near to me and Marc. Together we recited the Shehechyanu blessing quietly before departing from the pharmacy because this was TRULY A HUGE MOMENT! We walked down the street and got the kids sweet treats before heading home.

Just as NYC Marathon runners know the final 1.2 miles are going to be a slog, we are more confident now that we will cross the finish line of this pandemic since we’ve made it this far. We’ll continue to take all of the safety measures we’ve been taking this entire time so that we can cross the finish line.

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food · slice of life

A Triumph!

Posing with Candy

Last night, at the end of the kids’ candy hunt, Ari spread his favorite candies out across the floor and dug into mellowcreme pumpkins. Then he managed to convince us to let him have Snowcaps, a Kit Kat, some candy corn (Controversial, I know!), and a Reese’s Miniature. It was all a bit much. But it was Halloween so we said yes — until we were worried he might vomit.

Before dinnertime this evening, Ari asked, “Will I get to have candy tonight?”

“Yes, but —”

Ari cut me off. “Good!”

“Wait a second. You need to hear what follows. You may have candy after dinner, but you have to eat your dinner.”

Tonight’s dinner was London Broil, green beans, and fingerling potatoes. Ari refused the potatoes (Fine, I can live with that.), but knew he had to eat the beef and green beans if he wanted two small pieces of candy for dessert. We thought it would be a slam dunk for him until he gagged on one of his green beans. He wasn’t choking on the green bean, per se. More like he was probably choking on the GOB of butter he felt the need to throw onto the green beans moments before.

Once the gagging was over, Ari declared, “I’ll just have my candy now.”

“Not so fast,” I replied. “I don’t mind if you don’t want to eat the rest of your green beans now, but that doesn’t mean you can have candy.”

“But I want candy.”

“I realize that, but you need to eat your vegetables. I’ll make you a deal.” I was about to make him an offer that I knew he couldn’t refuse unless the green beans were truly the source of him almost vomiting. “Have six more pieces of green beans and then you can have dessert.”

Ari, who still gets his green beans cut in half, selected six reasonably sized pieces. Without heaping more butter onto his vegetables, he managed to eat the rest of the green beans. After he chewed and swallowed the last piece, he hoisted his hands above his head victoriously, pushed his chair back from the table, and declared, “Candy time!”

Marc and I burst out laughing as he scrambled across the kitchen to find his candy bucket.

Searching for the Perfect Candy

Once he retrieved his bucket, he searched through it and went with a more popular choice: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

“You know Reese’s belong to Mommy, right?” I said.

He unwrapped his first peanut butter cup, looked me square in the eye, and said, “They don’t,” just as he chomped into the candy he earned.

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beauty · slice of life

A Sprinkling of Kindness!

Earlier this year, I changed hair stylists after having been with my previous stylist for over a decade. My decision had nothing to do with the stylist, but with the COVID-protocols (or lack thereof) my former stylist’s salon was taking.

Like many salons, even the new salon lifted its mask mandate in late June. I was concerned about bringing Isabelle — who is unvaccinated due to her age — in this fall for a haircut. Our new stylist agreed to add Isabelle’s curly cut on to the end of a weekend day so we’d be the only ones in the salon.

Two days prior to the haircut, I received a confirmation for an earlier arrival time. I called the salon to find out why that happened. Apparently, things got mixed up and we were moved to an earlier time, which didn’t thrill me since we were supposed to be arriving when it’d just be us at the salon. I told the receptionist I was concerned that Isabelle would be in the salon with a lot of unmasked people. The receptionist told me she’d chat with our stylist and would call me back later in the day.

When the receptionist called me back, she told me to still bring Isabelle in at the earlier time, but promised me that everyone in the salon would be masked. I was skeptical it would be possible to ask all of the clients in there to wear masks. However, I figured it was worth trying. Worst possible case scenario: we could leave if there was someone hacking in another stylist’s chair.

Isabelle and I walked in at precisely 2 o’clock. Once I hung up our coats, I looked around. The receptionist, both stylists who were still there, and each of their clients were wearing masks. Tears began to well up in my eyes. Isabelle went to the bathroom and I grabbed the receptionist to thank her profusely.

After Haircut

She shrugged it off. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“No, you don’t understand,” I continued. “Everything for the past 19+ months has been complicated. Everything we do is a calculation of how much risk I’m willing to take. I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me.”

I could see her smile through her mask. (It is possible to see someone’s smile even when they’re wearing a mask!)

I’m eagerly awaiting the FDA’s decision about vaccines for children ages 5-11 since I am hoping this will lead to our family being able to return to some semblance of normalcy. While I’ve committed to homeschooling this school year, I am planning to have the kids resume activities like Hebrew school, art classes, and museum visits. Heck, I just want to be able to take my kids to the grocery store again without worrying whether a quick trip inside will be a grave mistake! (NOTE: Like many Americans, we live in a place with high transmission and no local mask mandates.)

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outdoors · slice of life


I was minding my own business this afternoon, just taking the trash outside to the garbage can. On my jaunt back to the front door, I noticed two oddly shaped, orange “carrots” were sticking out of the mulch in front of our house. I whipped my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo of each one giving a shudder after taking the second picture. They were disgusting.

Once inside, I flashed my phone towards Marc and asked, “Have you noticed these outside?”

“What is that?” he spat.

“I have no idea, but they’re kind of terrifying!” I replied.

Marc zoomed in on the images and shook his head.

“I can pull it out,” he offered.

“No, I can do it,” I said, wanting to take one for the team.

“You might want to wear a gardening glove,” he suggested.

I reached under the sink and grabbed one of the latex gloves from the box I keep there (for chicken prep). “Gardening glove? Not a chance! I’m using one of these disposable gloves.” He nodded knowingly. “Would you grab me a couple of plastic bags so we can throw out whatever it is in the outside garbage can?”

Marc grabbed the bags while I donned the glove. The two of us walked to the front door where I muttered, “Buy a home, he said. It’ll be fun, he said. You know… this wouldn’t be happening now if we lived in an apartment!” Marc snickered. He’s heard a similar refrain out of me any time something has gone wrong since we became homeowners a dozen years ago.

Once outside, I grabbed the first orange horn and pulled it out of the ground. “Yuck!” I declared as I tossed it into the double bag. I smoothed the mulch around so as to cover up the hole that was left. Then I made my way to the second one, but when I reached for it, the horn snapped like a piece of cheap foam pool noodle. That’s when I had to use my gloved hand to feel for the bottom of the horn to grab it out from the base. Once I got there, I trashed the carrot-like pieces in the bags Marc was holding, but discovered something just as gross beneath the surface: several brown mushrooms!

“Ugh! Yuck. There’s more down here. YUCK YUCK YUCK!” (I may have used the f-word. Who can remember?)

Marc had some kind of quip, but I was too grossed out to recall it. He tied up the bag that I filled with detritus and pitched it in the outside garbage can. I removed the glove, turning it inside out, and pitched that too. (I may have shuddered again.)

Hours later, I was deleting photos from the day from my phone. That’s when I realized I never looked up what those “carrots” was. A search of orange fungus in mulch led me to several pages on stinkhorns, which are a fungus. Apparently, besides looking gross, they smell bad! (Thankfully, I must’ve been too grossed out to breathe normally so I never got a whiff!) There’s also no solution for them so — they could be back!

All I know is that I’m here rethinking home ownership yet again!

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outdoors · slice of life

Reminder: Look Up!

Get out in nature. Go for a walk. Whatever you do, don’t scroll on your phone while you stroll along! Instead, observe the world around you.

Behold the way autumn bestows its first changes to the leaves as they fall to the ground. Keep track of the spookiest Halloween decorations as you wind through the streets. Admire the pumpkin stacks, hay bales, and mums that dot walkways and front porches.

But most of all, remember to glance upwards for you never know what you might see.

Here’s a hot air balloon I saw during my afternoon walk. It was right overhead at one point… so close that I could see and hear the balloon’s burner.
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food · slice of life

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I kept the ice cream maker’s insert in the freezer despite having good weather last week for Ari’s birthday. I purchased the ingredients so I thought it would be wise to still make ice cream!

My father and Ari got to work making a vanilla bean ice cream base over the weekend. Ari lost interest after helping my dad measure all of the ingredients. By the time I exited my home office, I found my dad alone at the stove stirring the ice cream base. He had a handheld digital thermometer nearby to monitor the ice cream’s temperature.

As he stirred, I peeked my head over the pan. A heavenly vanilla scent wafted towards my nose. Perfection!

“Do you think it’s ready?” he asked.

“I have no idea. What’s the temperature?”

He dipped the thermometer into the ice cream base and read out “190°F.”

“What’s it supposed to be?” I inquired.

“The recipe doesn’t say. But I don’t want it to curdle,” he replied.

“Maybe lower the temperature,” I offered.

“I just did,” he replied.

Moments later, my father removed the ice cream base from the stove, transferred it into a bowl, and let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. The two of us spent the next few hours wondering if the base would be okay or if it was curdled and ruined.

This morning, my Dad removed the base from the fridge and tried to put it through a sieve. It was too thick! We consulted for a few minutes and decided he should go ahead with churning the base. What were the chances that it would taste like scrambled eggs? (High. The chances were sky high since we thought the base got too hot and it looked, well, curdled!)

Keeping a watchful eye on the ice cream maker.

Ari joined my father at the ice cream maker. Together, they watched the ice cream churn for nearly 25 minutes. As time went on, the base turned into something that resembled ice cream… not scrambled eggs! Once they saw it looking good, they added mini chocolate chips.

Once the churn was complete, my dad scooped the ice cream into bowls. I tasted it discovered the ice cream had the perfect mouthfeel. The churn was perfect. There were plenty of chips. Everything about it was balanced! And to think that we thought it was going to be a bust…!

Get this boy a chair! He ate his ice cream standing up in his helper tower!

Ari and I will try making ice cream again soon. What flavor should we make next?

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celebrations · slice of life

Rain Threatens

It rained on our wedding day. And by rained, I mean poured! It rained so much the hair stylist was late since trees were down due to the storm. Luckily, all of our guests made it to our wedding safely. The rain was more annoying than anything else since we got married in late December and didn’t plan on doing much more than taking a few photos outside of the hotel. But, no one wants it to rain on their wedding day! (If I had a nickel for every time I have heard it’s good luck to have rain on your wedding day. That’s the garbage they tell forlorn brides to appease them.)

I’ve been checking the weather forecast as much as a bride planning an outdoor wedding for the past ten days. Why? Ari’s fifth birthday is coming this week and we have outdoor plans. But, our outdoor plans might be thwarted by — RAIN!

No child who has spent 30% of their life following “the rules” amidst a global pandemic wants to hear that it’s raining on their birthday. So, I’ve hid the truth about this possibility of rain in the forecast from him. Sneaky? Yes. Necessary for me to keep my sanity while coming up with alternate plans? Also yes.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out what we’ll do if our plans get rained out. I’ve tried to think beyond open presents, play with presents, and eat cake. So far I’ve come up with:

  • Make brunch with Ari’s favorite “breakfast” foods.
    • Some of Ari’s favorites are pancakes, French toast, bagels, and lox.
  • Learn how to crack eggs.
    • Believe it or not, this is something he’s been wanting to do since I told him he’d have to wait to learn to crack eggs until he’s five.
  • Make homemade ice cream.
    • Speaking of which, Marc put the bowl into the freezer freezer tonight — just in case.

I need more ideas! Please leave your best indoor birthday ideas as comments.

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From the Chronicles of an Under-Appreciated Laundress!

Laundry, Part I:

Ari has the tendency to spill food on his clothes and/or wipe his hands on his shirt (rather than on a napkin) when we eat out. On Saturday evening, Marc and I reminded Ari to use the cloth napkin at the restaurant. He must’ve gotten annoyed after the third reminder since he declared, “You haven’t done any laundry today,” while looking me square in the eye.

He’s lucky he looked angelic while the sun set behind him on the restaurant’s patio since that comment didn’t land well.

“Are you kidding me? I already did two loads of laundry today. The first load of laundry was done after you came home from apple picking with mud all over your pants.” {Small four-year-old smile.} “And the second load of laundry was a load of towels after the shower you took when we returned home from apple picking. So, yes, I have done laundry today. Two loads worth! But that shouldn’t have any bearing on whether or not you use a napkin at dinnertime.”

And with that, Marc placed the napkin back on Ari’s lap for the fourth time during the meal. And I made a mental note of where I’d be spraying Zout on his clothes once we got home.

Laundry, Part II:

Last night, I invited (Maybe the right word is commanded.) the kids to come into my bedroom to help me sort laundry on my bed. At they tossed everyone’s clothes to the four corners of the king-size bed, Isabelle and Ari discovered multiple pieces of their clothing were inside out. BUT, they tossed them into their piles without fixing them.

Working Hard on Fixing Their Clothes

I was unamused since I’ve been talking with both of them about turning their clothes right-side out before tossing them into the hamper. (Ari tends to make a better effort at this than Isabelle does despite the fact I’ve been placing her unwashed, inside-out clothes in front of her bedroom door with love letters on sticky notes saying, “Turn me right-side out and place me back in the hamper!”)

I tossed the clean, inside-out clothes back into the center of the bed where they were seated. I looked at kids and said, “You fix, I’ll fold.”

Ari apporached the task a bit more gingerly than Isabelle who seemed annoyed that she was being asked — yet again — to turn her clothes right-side out. I let the kids fix their clothes before I asked, “What could you do differently next time so you don’t have to spend time doing this when you help me sort your laundry?”

“Take our clothes off more carefully?” Isabelle asked.

“That would be helpful,” I replied.

“Turn them right-side out if they’re inside-out next time,” Ari offered.

“That would be helpful too.”

We’ll see what awaits me the next time I do the laundry. That’s another couple of days away.

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