I was minding my own business — sitting fully-clothed on a shower chair alternating my injured foot between buckets of hot and cold water — when I heard my husband tell Isabelle, “You need to pick out your pajamas now or your brother is going to be playing guitar in your bedroom.”
Before I could question the absurdity of that statement, Ari appeared in striped pajamas. He made his way into my bathroom with an upside-down guitar singing the new “Blues Clues” theme song.
Then he started singing “Oh, Chanukah!”
And then he left while carrying his guitar to the next destination carefully saying “I’m not going to hit into the walls with my guitar.”
I had to laugh. After what was a day filled with a meeting, appointments, and some not-so-good news, I needed the comic relief.
It’s late. Bedtime, in fact. My memories from the day have glommed together. But there was a conversation Isabelle and I had from early this morning I remember. I don’t recall the exact words we exchanged since so much has happened between then and now. But I remember the essence of it so the transcript doesn’t matter. But first, the backstory.
Isabelle moves like a turtle in the mornings. Once we settled into our new house, I began to incentivize her with something she wanted — daily iPad time — in an effort to get her moving. The deal: she could earn up to a half-hour of iPad time before school if she could get washed up, make her bed, get dressed, and put her PJs in the hamper in 25 minutes each morning. That incentive seemed to work… for about two weeks. Each time she missed the 25 minute threshold to be in my room with a hair bow before she went downstairs for breakfast, we’d make a plan to read together once she finished eating. This was NOT a punishment. Rather, it was something we’d do together since I was laid up in bed with nothing else happening.
About two weeks ago, I noticed Isabelle stopped getting into my room 25 minutes after her alarm went off. At first, I didn’t question it since I enjoyed reading with her after she finished her breakfast. But this morning, after waking up 45 minutes before her alarm went off, Isabelle still didn’t make it into my room dressed for the day on-time. That means she dilly-dallied for 70 minutes!
Without asking “what gives?” I asked her what gives this morning. (I suspected I knew, but couldn’t imagine that the kid who just six months ago declared she hated reading could actually be enjoying reading.) When she couldn’t explain why it took her over an hour to make it into my bedroom to get her hair done this morning, I threw out my best guess… fully expecting to be wrong. I asked her if she was intentionally getting into my bedroom late to have her hair done so she could read with me instead of earning iPad time before school.
Do you know what she said?
YES! She said yes. In fact, she admitted to purposely coming in late so we could read together. I kissed the top of her head and told her she could’ve just spoken up and told me she preferred to read with me rather than earn iPad time. I don’t remember what she said, but she looked sheepish.
Naturally, we read together this morning before she departed for school. I didn’t care that she picked two too-easy books (one Poppleton and one Henry & Mudge) to read alongside me. Rather, we snuggled in bed, as we have so many mornings for the past month, and enjoyed two stories. Unlike most mornings, she allowed me to put my arm around her. She leaned into my body, resting more on me than on the pillows.
For anyone who has followed Isabelle’s reading journey, you know this day has taken a lot of hard work and tears. While reading isn’t something Isabelle chooses to do independently, reading aloud to me is now a preferred activity. I never thought this day would come. But it has and I am grateful*.
*= I told my husband I will have to start waking up earlier once I get back on my feet again just so I can keep reading with Isabelle before school. Hopefully the thrill of reading alongside me in the mornings won’t wear off once I’m fully mobile again.
I have experience managing curly hair. Therefore, when the back of Ari’s hair started to curl into a mullet around the time of his first birthday, I was thrilled (About the curls, not the mullet.)! Around 14 months of age, I had Ari’s curls lopped off in favor of a little-boy cut. I’ve kept it short ever since because his hair got coarser on top, but never curled again.
And perhaps that’s why I am at a loss with how to handle what’s happening with his hair now. Rather than a curly mullet, he has something unsavory happening with his hair. He has a cowlick.
This morning, Ari came into my room with an epic cowlick. It was sticking straight up into a point at the back of his head.
“Buddy, I need to put some product into your hair since it’s a little sticky-uppy.”
Do you think he complied by marching to the bathroom so I could shellac in onto his head? Of course not. HE IS THREE! He ran down the hall. Seeing as I’m walking with a cane, there was no way I was going to engage in a game of chase.
Eventually, Ari returned. I used two quarter-size portions of product to get his hair to stay flat. It worked, but I know that cowlick will return tomorrow despite my best efforts.
Any tips from boy moms would be appreciated since I have every intention of keeping Ari’s hair short.
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!
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).
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?