slice of life

Hanging On By a Thread

Notice the space on the bottom row of teeth!

I do not like wiggly teeth. I get the willies anytime I see a tooth hanging on by a thread. Forget about snaggle teeth… that’s just too much for me to handle!

These are reasons it’s a good thing I taught fourth and fifth grade, not first or second. I don’t think I could handle a class full of loose teeth. Yes, fourth and fifth graders lose teeth, but loose teeth were no longer a novelty by the time students reached upper elementary school. I guess that’s because the excitement of the tiny plastic treasure boxes faded by then.

So, imagine the way I cringed when Isabelle came home from school with a tooth that was hanging on by a thread. The space below the baby tooth was bleeding (probably because she spent the day wiggling it incessantly). I about passed out when she showed me how it was hanging on.

Luckily, there was another adult in the house helping me out this afternoon. When the words, “I can pull it out for Isabelle,” passed her lips, my eyes widened.

“Are you sure?” I asked — horrified by the idea of ripping a tooth out of someone’s mouth.

Noticing her head shaking, I asked, “Have you done it before?”

“Yeah, many times,” she replied.

WHY WHY WHY was all I could think. But “yes please” was the response I uttered.

I hobbled around on my crutches looking for gauze and gloves. Once I located both in a first aid kit, I sent the two of them off to extricate the tooth.

Five minutes later, I was greeted by an eight-year-old girl sporting gauze in the space where her tooth had been.

“Is it out?” I asked.

“Yes,” Isabelle replied displaying the baggie for the Tooth Fairy.

Relief washed over me since I knew I wouldn’t have to look at a tooth hanging on by a thread anymore… or at least until the next one becomes loose!

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.org on Tuesdays for more slice of life stories.
reading · slice of life

Looking for Silver Linings

Unless I’m traveling for work, it’s my responsibility to get the kids ready in the mornings. Before we moved, I promised Isabelle I’d drive her to school in the mornings this year rather than having her take the bus. Because I’m the one driving, school mornings became hectic once the year began.

But everything changed when I broke my ankle six weeks ago. Now, mornings involve my husband bringing me breakfast in bed before he leaves for work and hobbling around on crutches in an effort to get myself ready for the day (whatever that means).

Reading Andy Shane and the Queen of Egypt together before school.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to incentivize Isabelle to getting ready quicker in the mornings so that her grandparents have an easier time getting out in the mornings. If Isabelle is in my room, ready to get her hair done by 7:10 a.m., then she has the chance to earn iPad time. If she makes it back to my room with breakfast eaten and her teeth brushed by 8:00 a.m., then she earns a half hour of iPad time. She has earned iPad time nearly every day since I started this incentive program. Typically, Isabelle divides her time between JI Studio, IXL Math, and Rivet.

This morning, Isabelle didn’t earn iPad time since she it took her awhile to get out of bed and eat breakfast. However, there was still time to read. I invited her to crawl into bed with me and bring an actual book, rather than read from the Rivet app. After her teeth were brushed, she brought Andy Shane and the Know-It-All into my room. We were short on time, but for 20 blissful minutes, I followed along as she read a couple of chapters aloud to me.

By 8:35 a.m., I knew we had to finish since I like to make sure she’s at school when the doors open. I turned to her and said, “Do you know what the only good part of this ankle injury is?”

“What?” she asked.

“I can’t rush around in the mornings since I’m on crutches. Your grandparents are the ones rushing around. And while I wish it were me who was doing everything, there is something nice about getting to spend quiet time with you in the mornings before you leave for school.”

Isabelle smiled. I could tell she wasn’t sure what to say so I continued.

“That’s called a silver lining. I wish I wasn’t hurt, but if I’m going to be, I’m thankful for the extra time to spend with just you before you leave for school every morning.” Then I wrapped my arms around her, planted a kiss on top of her curls, and said, “Have a great day at school. I love you.”

Isabelle squeezed back and replied, “I love you too.”

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.org on Tuesdays for more slice of life stories.
Hershey · slice of life

Gaining Perspective #sol19

We posed for a photo once the kids finished their jaunt through Treatville.

Five weeks ago I injured my ankle. As I lay on the floor — writhing in childbirth-like pain — I knew my life was about to become different. The x-rays at the ER told me what I already suspected. My ankle was broken. An MRI two-and-a-half weeks later gave a bleaker picture.

In the middle of it all, we moved from the townhouse we were renting to the house we were building. Despite wanting to unpack everything myself, I heeded several people’s advice to follow my doctor’s orders to stay off of my ankle. I sat and directed the movers. I sat and directed my husband. I sat and directed my parents and in-laws.

It’s been five long weeks of sitting. And there are more weeks of sitting to come.

If you know me personally, then you know I’ve been in the habit of working out six days a week for the past couple of years. That, too, came to a screeching halt. (Interesting fact: I was on my way upstairs to change into gym clothes when I remembered something I had to do downstairs. Then, BAM, I missed three steps!) I haven’t taken that too well.

Fall is my favorite season and I’ve missed the last five weeks of it. I have been pretty bitter about that fact, but then I realized there was one fall activity — Hersheypark in the Dark — I could still enjoy with my kids.

So, yesterday, I threw $38 at the problem, rented a scooter, and zipped around Hersheypark. I was thrilled to go on some low-key rides, eat greasy park food, and witness Isabelle and Ari zoom through Treatville. I didn’t complain once about how much pain I was in or how I knew my foot was swelling up from not having it elevated.  Nope. I smiled through the pain and soldiered on because being outside with Marc and the kids was much better than laying in bed watching everyone unpack boxes. (And believe me, there are still many boxes that need to be unpacked!)

Things are good when I am working, driving kids to and from activities/appointments, cooking, and doing laundry all while trying to squeeze-in a daily workout. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until something as basic as my ability to walk independently disappeared. It’ll take awhile, but I will be able to walk again.

I’ll admit to being a begrudging Hersheypark season pass holder. I’ve always felt fortunate that we’re able to afford season passes. (One makes up the cost in as little as three visits per year!) I’ve been bemoaning our weekends there for at least a year by telling Marc, “Our kids need to realize there’s more to life than Hersheypark.” However, as I gunned my scooter up one of Hersheypark’s infamous hills, I decided that once I am able to conquer the hills on foot again, I will no longer complain about being there too often. Isabelle and Ari love it there. While the beach and New York City are my happy places, Hersheypark is theirs. Truth be told, I love witnessing them happy there.

Look for me next spring. I plan to be the grateful lady who is able to walk the park on foot with her family again.

slice of life · travel

Pretzel Time #sol19

Our kids woke us up too early this morning. We had hoped to sleep in considering we had a family wedding in Virginia last night. No such luck. Both of them woke up at 6:30 a.m. Neither one was quiet. But amidst their singing and giggles came a request from Ari, “I want a snack. I want pretzels!”

We told Ari he’d have to wait for the car ride home if he wanted to eat pretzels. First, he had to eat breakfast. The pretzels would come later.

So what do you think was the first thing Ari asked when we drove away from the hotel?

“Is it pretzel time now?”

It was just a touch after 10 a.m. It was still too early for pretzels in my book. “Let’s wait until 10:30 a.m.”

Isabelle was busy with a Highlights book at 10:30 so she requested we push “pretzel time” back ten more minutes. Ari seemed cool with that plan — at first — but then he protested. By 10:37 a.m., it was pretzel time. The kids noshed on pretzels until 11 a.m., when I declared “pretzel time is over.” (They would’ve eaten the entire bag if I let them.”

Ari napped in the car this afternoon. What do you think he asked for as soon as he woke up? That’s right. “PRETZEL TIME!”

Isabelle was eating honey graham bears so it would’ve been hard for her to hold two bags while doling pretzels out to Ari. He must’ve sensed what I was thinking since Ari declared, “I’m gonna hold them like a good boy.”

“Do you mean like a big boy?” I asked.

“Yes!”

Reluctantly, I handed the pretzels bag back for pretzel time, part two.

Everything was fine for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard Isabelle say, “No, Ari! Don’t turn the bag upside down!”

I turned around, reached back, and managed to take back the pretzel bag. Ari let out a disappointed yelp, but got over it quickly.

The backseat of my car, however, won’t get over it quite as fast. It’s going to need a good vacuuming!

Road trips with kids… they’re always eventful!

motherhood · poetry · slice of life

Awaiting Our Forever Home

I wrote a post for SOL Tuesday. I was in the midst of revising and editing it when I attempted to save the post, I was met with this:

A screenshot of the post I attempted to post today.

Then I tried to publish. I could go back and fix it up after it went live. That didn’t work.

So here I am. I’m frustrated. So I’m pushing myself to write something new, as opposed to retyping.

How many more days will it be
Once the siding and shake are up?
My daughter is impatient because she is
Eager to move in so we can start the rest of our lives.

reading · slice of life

Surprises

Sometimes Isabelle surprises me.

Take this morning, for instance. After a rough start to the day, I found Isabelle reading books quietly on the living room floor. I asked her what she wanted for breakfast. She responded, “English muffin with cream cheese, please,” and went right back to her book. So, when it was time for her to come to the table, I was met with, “Not now, I’m reading a book.”

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to stop her from reading, but she needs to eat. So I invited her to bring the book to the table for breakfast. Unlike the other times I’ve made this offer, she opted to come to the table with the book. Despite the fact it was a book (one from the Katie Woo series) she read before, Isabelle was glued to it throughout breakfast. AND — she ate without any reminders, which is almost unheard of. Who is this child? I kept thinking to myself throughout the meal.

After school, and after Isabelle finished her daily reading, I called her over to my desk to look at her spelling words. I offered to make her a word sort. I thought she’d decline, but she said “yes.” I typed up all 15 spelling words in large font and then cut them into pieces. We talked about the word endings (-ed and -ing) and how there were at least three different patterns to the words. She found four patterns independently, but after having a calm discussion about the words, we discovered six different patterns since some words had double letters before the suffixes while other letters lost the e of their base word. Not once did Isabelle push back or argue with me. She stayed engaged the entire time.

School isn’t always easy for Isabelle. Reading and word work definitely don’t come easily for her. But today, she was eager to engage in both things on her own terms and with a positive attitude. Both were small, surprising victories on my journey of raising a literate human.

oral stories · slice of life

Tall Tales of Cletus and Roscoe

We found Oregon Dairy not long before we moved to Lancaster. And not long after we found Oregon Dairy, Ari became acquainted with Cletus and Roscoe.

Who are Cletus and Roscoe? Allow me to show you.

I have no idea which goat is Cletus and which one is Roscoe.

That’s right. Cletus and Roscoe are goats. But not just any goats. They’re two male kids who live outside of the Milkhouse Ice Cream Shop at Oregon Dairy. Ari refers to them affectionately as “my goats.”

About two months after Ari met Cletus and Roscoe, he began making up stories about them. At first, the stories were simple tales of two goats driving a shuttle bus to and from Wegmans, our favorite local grocery store. As the days passed, the stories became more complex. Ari recounted tales of Cletus and Roscoe taking all of the farm animals to Hersheypark to ride on the roller coasters while KidzBop played in the background. Just this evening, Ari began a new oral story about Cletus taking a shower with body wash while being careful not to get soap in his eyes during the hair-rinse portion of the shower.

Seriously.

I cannot make this stuff up.

Poor kid isn’t going to know what to do with himself once these guys go inside for the winter, right?

CONVERSATIONS · elementary school · slice of life

Holding My Breath

Obligatory First Day of School Photo Taken in Front of Our Temporary Home’s Door. Isabelle wouldn’t let me take her photo in front of our house that’s being built since she claimed she wanted two different doors in her third grade photo. As much as I wanted to take her photo there, I wasn’t about to let my desire get in the way of her need.

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve ever held your breath? 30 seconds? One minute? TWO minutes? Today I held my breath for nearly seven hours… and it was hard.

Today was Isabelle’s first day in her new school. It wasn’t just a new school. It was a new school, with new kids, in a new city. Yes, she met a few kids at day camp who would be in her school. Yes, she took a new school tour. Yes, she met her teacher a week-and-a-half ago. But none of those things are the same as walking into a school where you know everyone, which she’s done for the past three school years.

Even though I was holding my breath all day, I had a feeling it was going to be a good day. Every person I’ve interacted with at the school and in the district office has been helpful and friendly. However, what I worried about were the typical parent-of-a-new-student fears. Would the kids in the class be nice? Would Isabelle feel comfortable with the noise level in the cafeteria? Would anyone play with her at recess?

Isabelle was the first child lined up a the dismissal door this afternoon. I wasn’t sure what that meant so I took a few deep breaths. I spoke softly and asked her how her day was. Unfortunately, she started admonishing me, “Why are you talking so slow? Why are you asking so many questions? Why don’t you think I’m okay?” I stayed calm because I have found that a steady demeanor gets better results than matching her frustration.

We walked to the car and she climbed into her seat. Quietly, I looked through her bag to see what she brought home. I acknowledged her empty water bottle and made note of the thick school-to-home folder of “homework for mommy.” I asked her to get seat belted and walked around the car. Once I pushed the starter, I turned around and said, “When you’re ready, I’d like you to tell me how your day was.”

I began to drive after her seat belt clicked into place. First, Isabelle told me about a mini zip line on the playground. Then, she told me lots of random things. I learned that her teacher began reading Charlotte’s Web. We talked about how she already knew that story since her teacher read that book aloud last year. I asked some questions like, “Did you do any writing today?” to which I was told, “I wrote some words.” Oh. My. Goodness. THAT answer didn’t please me, but I continued with my calm line of questioning. I got bits of information that didn’t add up to much. But, finally, Isabelle paused and told me, “I think I’m going to like this new school.”

That was it. I was done questioning. I could finally breathe.

growing up · slice of life

No Big Boy Bed… Yet

We had a plan. Sometime over the summer, we’d convert Ari’s crib into a toddler bed. We’d give him time to sleep in the toddler bed while we were still living in our temporary home. Then, as soon as we moved into our house mid-fall, we’d transition him into a full-size “big boy” bed.

Best. Laid. Plans.

Halfway through the dismantling of the crib, Marc realized some of the parts were missing. He went to our garage to search through his toolbox. He came up empty handed. Then, Marc searched through some boxes we’re storing in the garage. He found a whole lot of nothing.

That meant that the “bed” had to be converted back into a crib.

So much for the big boy bed. It’s going to have to wait until we move — again — in October.

I’m wondering what Ari’s thinking as he’s witnessing the transformation back to a crib again. After prepping him for sleeping in a big boy bed tonight, I’m assuming he must be confused.

routines · slice of life

Naptime for an Almost Three-Year-Old

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.org on Tuesdays for more slice of life stories.

Ari claims he isn’t tired EVERY SINGLE DAY before nap time. Here’s the rub. He IS tired. How do I know? He naps after being placed in his crib midday.

These shenanigans began after we weaned Ari off of his afternoon bottle in June. (I know, it was a long overdue weaning. Don’t tell me he’ll need braces because of this. My friend is married to a dentist. When Isabelle was nearly three, she informed me that nearly every kid these days needs braces and therefore her husband doesn’t think we should be ripping bottles out of kids’ mouths as soon as they turn two.) A couple of weeks ago, Ari’s protests grew more intense so I let him sit on my lap while he drank a cup of milk. That seemed to work until we went on vacation a week and a half ago. (Routines go out the window when you’re road tripping!) Now that we’re home, I offered the milk-in-a-cup routine before today’s nap. Ari sat beside me and drank a bit of milk, but ultimately, he kept telling me he wasn’t tired.

But I knew Ari was tired. Therefore, I took him upstairs, closed his black-out shades, turned-on his white noise, and offered to snuggle with him on his chair.

“I wanna snuggle in your bed!” he told me.

“Not in my bed. On the glider,” I insisted.

Ari acquiesced. (Probably because he was tired!)

“Whatta you gonna do now?” Ari asked.

I remembered another thing I learned when the mid-July nap protests began. I could NOT tell him I was going to do work. He’d rather watch me work than nap. And you know what that means? I won’t be able to work if he’s “watching” me. So, I said, “I’m going to take a nap too.”

“Oh, okay,” Ari replied contently.

I turned Ari towards me and felt his warm-toddler weight snuggle into me. I began rocking him in the glider. Ari’s breathing got heavy quickly. He’s probably asleep. Just to be sure, I rocked him for another ten minutes. When I heard light snoring (and started dozing off myself), I stood up, carried him to his crib (Another thing we need to get rid of… I know! Remember, though, we moved to a new city less than eight weeks ago. I’m trying not to change too much too fast.), and covered him with his blankets.

OVER THREE HOURS LATER, I walked into Ari’s room. He smiled when he saw me. The first thing he said was “How did you sleep, Mommy?”

Waking Up with a Smile & a Question

I giggled. I almost blurted out the truth about what I had been doing. Instead, I played along and said, “How sweet of you to ask, Ari!”

See what I did there? I praised him for his kindness without lying.