siblings · slice of life

Waiting for the Bus

Once teeth are brushed, the backpack is packed, and shoes are put on, we transition to Isabelle’s play room to wait for the bus. Some mornings it’s just Isabelle with one parent. Other mornings, Ari joins in the fun. (That is, he wakes up earlier than necessary!)

This morning, Ari woke up after Isabelle finished her breakfast. My husband left early for work, which meant I had to get him dressed and hustle downstairs so I could look out the window for the bus.

Some mornings, Isabelle is not thrilled to have Ari in her playroom since he likes to touch her stuff. This morning, Isabelle didn’t seem to mind him touching everything (INCLUDING an impressive structure she built with MagnaTiles) he could get his tiny, two-year-old hands on. Her patience translated to her craft table, which is usually a flash point. I was relieved she was being so patient since my caffeination level hadn’t reached it’s optimal level once the two of them were in her play room.

Isabelle set Ari up with a crayons and paper, but Ari had other ideas. He wanted colored pencils. She gave him — one at a time — a pencil to draw with. Do you think he drew on the paper she provided to him? Of course not, he drew on several pieces of paper. But Isabelle redirected him gently, encouraging him to draw on one piece of paper at a time.

Within ten minutes, the bus arrived and Isabelle was off to school. I forgot about her level of patience for Ari when our evening felt as though it was going off the rails. However, as I looked back on my camera roll at the end of the day, I found a sweet photo of them I snapped this morning and it brought a smile to my face.

rituals · slice of life

Love Time

Every night, I turn on the white noise in Ari’s room. Marc lifts Ari onto my lap, plugs in a nightlight, then shuts off the overhead light. I snuggle Ari close in a navy and white blanket. Just before he drinks his milk, he declares, “It’s love time!”

I didn’t come up with the name “love time.” He did. But I adore it.

Love time was shorter this evening than it typically is. Maybe it was because Ari was more tired than usual. Typically we chat about a variety of things [e.g., silly things that happened during the day, naughty things he did (like raiding the fridge!), what the panda bears on his wall do during the day, how many stuffed animals are in his crib], but tonight was a short and silly conversation about “Where’s Daddy?” (He was across the hall in his home office.) I noticed Ari rubbing his eyes, so I asked him, “Are you ready for crib?”

“Crib!” he repeated.

“Right now?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “Kiss?”

He puckered up and planted a kiss on me.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you too,” he said.

Love time erases all of the impish behavior of the day. It’s hard to feel anything but sentimental when it’s love time.

Take a listen!
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reading · slice of life

Well, that was a surprise.

I knew I had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to make it to the school I was working in first-thing this morning on time. What I didn’t know is that Isabelle would be up before me. I went into her room and gave her three options:

  1. Go back to bed. (I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
  2. Draw quietly in her bedroom.
  3. Read books.

At 6:15 a.m., which is when I knew she had to get going for the day, I walked back to her bedroom. It was dark. I expected to find her fast asleep. Instead, I found this:

Empty and Unmade

I gasped. Where was she?

Then, I saw a light streaming out from beneath her walk-in closet. I knocked lightly and turned the door handle. This is what I found:

This was the most unexpected and wonderful place to find Isabelle!

Well, that was a surprise. If anything, I expected she’d be doing artwork. Instead, she was reading When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. (Good choice.)


Seeing as Isabelle had been awake since 4:40 a.m., I was convinced she’d crash early tonight. However, Ari was the one who got tired first, so I gave him his bottle, held him upright for awhile (since he now has a cough!), and then kissed him good-night. As soon as I walked out of his room — at 7:55 p.m. — Isabelle walked by his door.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“I’m helping Daddy with your laundry,” she said.

This kid never helps with the laundry. “Why aren’t you in bed?” I asked.

These two can feel free to do the laundry anytime!

“I’m not tired,” she replied.

“Well, that’s a surprise,” I said. I turned my attention to Marc and asked, “Do you have everything under control here?”

He nodded.

“Okay, I’m going to go down and do some work in my office. I probably have a couple of hours worth of work to do.”

He nodded knowingly. Apparently, me needing to do work was not too surprising to him.

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slice of life

A Slice of Thanks

I start Slicing each year on February 28th, which means I achieve my 31-day streak a day early. However, I like to write some kind of capstone post on the 31st of March… just because.

Today’s post has nothing to do with raising my children. In fact, it isn’t a slice of life story at all. Rather, it’s my meager attempt to thank some very important people.

I want to thank the Two Writing Teachers Co-Author Team who started planning for the 12th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge the Sunday after Thanksgiving. (Believe it or not, it takes months to plan so that it runs efficiently!)

  • Beth Moore — Facilitated tech support and co-hosted the individual challenge
  • Betsy Hubbard — Organizes prizes and giveaways and co-hosted the individual challenge
  • Deb Frazier — Handled tech support and will co-host the Classroom SOLSC in April
  • Kathleen Sokolowski — Organized the Welcome Wagon Volunteers and is co-hosting the Classroom SOLSC in April
  • Kelsey Corter — Managed the Welcome Wagon Volunteers and co-hosted the individual challenge
  • Lanny Ball — Coordinates prizes and giveaways and co-hosted the individual challenge
  • Melanie Meehan — Arranges prizes and giveaways and co-hosted the individual challenge

In addition, every member of the team fields questions from participants throughout the month (and even before the Challenge begins). We approve pending comments, moderate spammed comments, and close comments on the posts at the end of each day. In addition, each member of the co-author team participates in the challenge as a writer (and a commenter).

The 12th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge would not have run so smoothly if it wasn’t for the dedication of the entire co-author team. I am beyond grateful to work with such a thoughtful and devoted group of educators.

siblings · slice of life

No “Good Night” for You

Several months ago my kids began an odd good-night ritual. They’d throw themselves into each other, hug tightly, and say “Goooooooood niiiiiiight!” This would happen repeatedly until Marc or I said enough. Otherwise, the elongated good night would go on for five minutes.

Isabelle met Ari in the hallway this evening to offer him a “good night” since the kids were going to bed simultaneously (which rarely happens). She said, “Goooooooood niiiiiiight!” but Ari pushed her away.

“No good night, Isabelle!” Ari yelled.

I coaxed her to try again, but the same thing happened.

Then it happened again.

Finally, Isabelle offered me a good night hug and kiss (since I was putting Ari to bed). I happily accepted.

I’m not sure why Ari didn’t want hugs from his sister tonight, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the fact they met in the hallway for their nighttime ritual, rather than having it in her room.

Here’s the little stinker of a brother running away from his sister’s embrace.

books · slice of life

Book Birthday

I didn’t realize it was March 29th when I woke up this morning. Maybe it’s because I woke up with a smashing headache for the second day in a row. Or maybe it is because my body still aches from this week’s stomach bug. (Thankfully, I haven’t thrown up in over 48 hours so the worst is behind me.) Either way, after a few hours I realized IT WAS MARCH 29TH, which is also my latest book’s birthday!

Once I had this realization, I checked the UPS tracking Stenhouse provided. The book was still in transit. Despite wanting to convalesce all day, I knew I needed to make myself presentable for my #StenhouseSelfie.

It’s amazing what a little makeup and a flat iron can do for someone who is under the weather. I smiled into the mirror and realized I looked healthy enough for a photo with my book.

This afternoon, my book arrived and I was as ready as I could possibly be for a photo. It took me more than 20 times to capture the right angle while balancing the book. Before I shared it on social media, I sent it to my husband. His response was everything.

I’m hoping to celebrate the publication of Welcome to Writing Workshop tomorrow. Here’s to hoping I’m feeling up to it by the time tomorrow comes!

bedtime stories · family · slice of life

Pink Pajamas

I walked out of my bathroom in a bathrobe. Good thing, because I had an audience: Isabelle and Ari.

“Hello!” I said, surprised to see them. “I’m going to go and pick out my pajamas.”

Ari looked at Isabelle, walked over I keep my pajamas, and grabbed a pair of pink-striped pajamas. He walked back to where Isabelle was standing, dropped the pajamas beside her feet, and turned around. Then he said, “You wear these!”

I looked at the pajamas on the floor and the pajamas Isabelle was wearing. They matched. (We have one set of matching jammies. Cheesy, I know… but we like them!) “You want us to wear matching pajamas tonight?”

“Yes!” Ari replied.

“I can live with that,” I said. “Can you live with that?”

Isabelle nodded.

In honor of Ari picking our matching jammies, we took a selfie for him right before we read bedtime stories tonight.

slice of life

A Slice of Sickness, Part II

Last night, I got the stomach bug Ari had a couple of days ago. The vomiting began before midnight and continued until 3 AM. As a result, every fiber of my body aches from a night of misery.

I’ve been laying in bed for most of the day. It’s all I can handle right now. I have laid here and tried to think of interesting slice of life stories I could share. No one wants to hear about vomiting. So I will leave you with a photo of an empty bucket, that I hope stays empty, beside my bed. It’s there… just in case.

Here’s to hoping I will feel better in a couple of days.

OT · slice of life


I bought Isabelle tie sneakers when she was in first grade. She had been practicing tying laces with her occupational therapist for months. It was time for her to try it on her own. She loved the sneakers, but resented being asked to do it on her own since it was difficult for her to motor plan how to do it.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech, which Isabelle was diagnosed with when she was two, is a motor-speech disorder. Thanks to intensive speech therapy, Isabelle can motor plan most of the things she wants to say. A few times a week a word still gets stuck or she finds something she can’t pronounce. (For instance, she read a book with the word ridiculous yesterday. It took multiple tries of us working together to get her to say the word correctly.) But what most people don’t know is that many kids with Childhood Apraxia of Speech often have difficulties with motor planning in other aspects of their life. For instance, a typical kid can learn to tie their shoes in a few weeks. Isabelle had to work on it for over a year and a half to get good enough to wear tie shoes when she wasn’t with me. However, as recently as last week, she was still having trouble double-knotting her sneakers. As a parent, it’s frustrating to watch your kid struggle with things that come easily to other children. Despite the frustration, I have learned to adjust my expectations so that I can work with Isabelle at a pace that suits her.

The picture of persistence!

This morning, I needed to use the bathroom at the exact time Isabelle needed to tie her sneakers. I told her, “I need you to put your sneakers on while I’m in the bathroom. If you need help, I will help you when I come out.”

I expected to see Isabelle sitting on the floor — frustrated — with untied laces when I came out of the bathroom a couple minutes later. But that’s not what I found. Instead, I discovered her on the carpet — calm — with two perfectly-tied sneakers. However, she was still fiddling with her laces.

“Looks like it went well. What are you working on?”

“I’m trying to double knot my sneakers,” she replied.

“Do you need help?” I asked.

“I’m trying it myself,” she said.

“Okay,” I responded. “I’m here if you need help.”

Isabelle persisted for another minute. Finally, she looked up and said, “I think I’d like your help.”

“Good for you for trying. Remember when it was hard for you to tie your sneakers?”

“Yes,” she replied.

I knelt down to double-knot her sneakers. “It’s not hard for you anymore. Eventually, you’ll become a pro at double knotting your shoes too.”

She smiled.

I tied the sneakers.

This is not the hand of cards I expected to be dealt when I had kids. However, to riff off of the quote from author Cheryl Strayed, I’m trying to play the hell out of the cards I’m holding.

family · slice of life

Sick Day

It started last night just before 10 PM. I heard a loud whoosh followed by a big cry. Marc rushed upstairs to Ari’s room. A moment later, I heard, “Stace! I’m gonna need your help.” That didn’t sound good. Nothing looked good when I walked into Ari’s room. He had thrown up all over his crib. I’ll spare you the rest of the details.

In the next three hours, there were three additional vomiting episodes, four baths, two baths, and one trip to Giant to buy more carpet cleaner.

It is 1:20 PM on Monday. Here’s what I’ve done today:

  • Showered myself and Ari (You feel better when you’re clean!)
  • Ran many loads of laundry (I haven’t folded anything.)
  • Kept Ari hydrated (He won’t eat.)
  • Begged Stanley Steemer to come this afternoon to clean the carpets in three rooms. (They should be here by 5!)

That’s it. I have a 4/1 deadline that I’m in decent shape with. I needed to work on some edits today, but I’m not feeling too well as of noontime. Therefore, Ari and I are hanging on the couch until further notice.

We are watching “Super Why.”